21 APRIL 1866, Page 17



&Dm% aside the great cleverness of the Erckmann-Chatrian books, we think there is a rare charm in their truthfulness. It seems to us impossible not to feel that they identify themselves to a great extent with the people and manners they describe ; that they picture the bearing and notions of both French and Germans dur- ing the wars of the Republic with wonderful life and truth ; that they are in their wonderful union the Walter Scotts of the period— humorous, pathetic, descriptive by turns—very shrewd in portray- ing character, presenting in a new light, especially to English eyes, the beginning and the progress of the mighty conflict between the old aristocratic feeling and the new republican, showing what was thought by quiet, sagacious bystanders both of the good and bad of the great movement. To do the Erckmann- Chatrians and their subjects justice, certainly the book before us ought to precede in our reading Le Conscrit and Waterloo. One can hardly throw oneself into the mind of a German villager, looking forward to a visitation of French Republicans, unless one is admitted behind the scenes. Perhaps, too, the Germans having been the principal writers respecting themselves and their wars, have had it rather too completely their own way. One sees the terrible power of the sword in French hands, but the pen was not just at that period the implement of the Republicans ; and we are apt perhaps to overlook the servility, the despotism, the petty tyrannies, which had for so long a time degraded the great Ger- man States, and which had to be cleared off in some way or other. When a French revolutionary regiment came to a town in one of the small States, it came full of conscious pride at its own emancipation, and indignation at the meanness which kept that whole town or village in abject submission to its great man. They gave these servile habits no quarter ; they had no respect to fidelity ; there were no bounds to their contempt for -servility. Mrs. Austin, in her most instructive papers on German life, admits the ill government of the people previous to the Revo- lution. She, too, believes that sensible men among the Germans were ready (perhaps too ready) to welcome the French, but perhaps the after atrocities of Bonaparte carry her off this ground too quickly, and are made to throw rather too much into shade -the real character of the people previous to their long course of adversity. They did at all events, we cannot but think, learn their first lessons in acquiring freedom from the men who so cruelly for a time subjugated them.

• Madame Therese Par M. Erekmann-Cbatriaa. Pans: Hetzel et L Croix. Madame Therese is now in its seventh edition. It preceded the two other tales to which we have adverted, and which we may here add have been extremely well translated into English, though in far too expensive a form. It is probable we shall not find many readers who will at once agree with us, but for ourselves, we like Madame Therese almost as well as the other two. It seems to us, if anything, more original, abounds more in quiet humour, and brings out greater variety of character.

The story is in general simply and beautifully told, the relater

being an orphan nephew of the worthy Dr. Jacob Wagner, the medical practitioner of the village of Anstatt, situated in the midst of the German Vosges. The events related belong to the latter months of the year 1793, when Fritz is hardly ten years of age. His maintenance and education are the sole charge of his uncle and the old servant, Lisbeth. As to his lessons, for all we know, the instructions of the Doctor were limited to French, and they were always given from the Natural History of Bujon ; but Fritz is learning in far other and better ways. He is a charm- ing young hero, every physical power is perfect, and there is the usual attendant amount of aversion to dull lessons. He listens to the talk around him, and compares and forms an opinion. He sees the right, and yet gets into the wrong, like any other boy

who is to be worth anything, and who must get rid of super- fluous activity by making mistakes and repenting.

This is Erckmann-Chatrian's Fritz, a boy who seems to be in a way of learning small amount of literature, at least in boy- hood, but is getting ripe for every good acquisition in future years. Then there are the Doctor's friends and neighbours- Menser, otherwise mole-catcher, who is also an accomplished beemaster ; Koffel, the joiner, turner, clockmsker, farrier, the genius of the village of Anstatt and its environs, inclined to usurp Uncle Jacob's function of bonesetting, only forbidden therefrom. Then there is the Burgomaster Meyer, and M. Karolus Richter, an aristocrat by reason of his being the grandson of a lord's valet, who is a ridiculous compound of pride and meanness, borrows tobacco of Uncle Jacob, but never pays, and thinks he does him, sufficient honour by making his own comments on the news of the gazette.

We have said nothing of the Doctor himself, though he is the important character. We think, though he has many fine and

some amusing traits, he is on the whole a failure. His goodness is tarnished by his weakness ; he has no deeent answer for Republi- can arguments; he falls in love with his opponent, Therese, and sheepishly goes off with her to the French camp. We shall not pursue our extracts very far, for we do not so much want to tell

the story, as to open the ground and show what it puts before us- On one particular evening the gazette arrives, and the Doctor and his neighbours are assembled to read it. The news is that the French Republican army is invading the Palatinate, and is absolutely daring to confront the Emperor, the King of Prussia, and the three Electors. Of course the reading this news, if it creates no alarm, is very stirring to German phlegm, and thus.

speaks Richter, the aristocrat :—

"These Republicans are Atheists from first to last ; they respect. neither throne nor altar ; they have overthrown things established from the foundation of the world, as if nobility was not essential, as if it was not a recognized fact that among men some are born for slavery and others for dominion,—as if we did •not see the same order established in nature—moss under the grass, grass under the bushes, bushes under the trees, trees reaching up to the vault of heaven. Just in this way, the peasants are under the bourgeoisie, the bourgeoisie under the magistrates, the magistrates under the military commanders, the eon- menders under the King, the King under the Pope, represented by his cardinals, archbishops, and bishops. That's the natural order of things. No doubt these Republicans have obtained some short-lived. successes, by reason of the astonishment of their fellow-creatures at their impudence and incredible folly ; and even our soldiers, astounded, have now and then been put to the rout. But that can't last, neighbours, and when once the first surprise is over, I am very sure that our old generals of the Seven Years' War will beat these barefooted blackguards hollow, and not one will ever be suffered to return home again.' So saying, M. Karolus lighted his pipe, and took his promenade to and fro, his hands behind him, looking mightily satisfied with himself. At length spoke the molecatcher and beemaster:—' All this may be very true,' said he, but last year, as I was watching my bees, I saw all on a sudden these little things, so busy and amiable just before, fall upon the drones, sting them, and drag them out of the hive. Now this takes place every year. The drones are of use in impregnating the work- ing bees ; they keep them as long as they are needed, then kill them. It is very abominable, and yet so it is ordained. Well, seeing this, I look at the Republicans. They are set upon killing their drones ; your mind. may be easy, however. One cannot do without the drones ; others will come ; they will have to be fed and taken care of. After that the bees will still be relentless, and kill them by hundreds. You would think there was an and of them ; no such thing. They will come again and again—then the same thing will happen—it is necessary, it is written so.' M. Karolus Richter halted in his walk, and said to the Menser, 'Who do you call drones ? The true drones are those proud maggots who think they can do everything, not the nobles and priests.'—' Begging your pardon, ?t Karelnaitichter,.tho dronaa.anathose wha will have all play. and no work. Over and over again nee it; the working bees, orderly and-economical; cannot-eed• people-who are good for-nothing. It unfortunate; no-doubt,.but-this is how-ikis. When we.make• honey, we like to keenit. for our OWEL■1113430—= You're -a Jacobin P exclaimed Karaite.

No such thing only tell you what I have aeon.' The joiner declines giving an opinion. 'If I' had'been so happy as to be the grandson- of a-servant .of-' the Ozer Peter; and had inherited wealth which provided for me-in' plenty-and, idlenesk I.dare-say I should call the drones the workers-and...the bees idlers, but being what I am, I.want the world to live on, and T say nothing—I am. silent—only I do think that every one ought' tareceiVe what-he has earned by hisslitbour.'" (p; 64i) This conversation' gives room for one- of the- uncle's exordiums on his favourite-theme; peace, and' them he dismisses his neigh= bolus to their homes, well pleased at the respectfid distance which to his own and' their apprehension is placed between- themselves and any warlike scene. Unfortunately for the worthy Doctor; however, war is atband.

One night, not long after the above discussion, still in- the month of November; 1793, Fritz, the narrator, stays up- in. the kitchen-, seeing Lisbeth, the domestic, lay the bread and light the stove previous to going to bed. All being at length made ready, Fritz-is dismissed, delighting himself with the prospect of cakes and applelurnovers next morning.

About the middle of. the night he wakes. The moon is shining in at his windOw, and he hears unwonted sounds—doors open and shut. In the.streets, in the little peasant gardens, in the kitchen, in- the-square, there are noises. What can it be ?' He looks oat. Every spot of ground' is covered with human figures. Cocked hats; blue coats turned up with red, white belts-across them, long pig-tails, not to mention sabres, cartonehe-boxes- (for-the that time -exhibited to little Fritza; eyes). The muskets of the men are pileclup against the Doctor's- barn door, two sentinels are pacing to and -fro, others entering-the "pillage houses- as if they were theirown: Moreover; on-the-opposite side of the Place, at the butcher Sepers; a whole ox- is' hanging-up, seen by-the light of a great fire, its bead traiiing-on the groend; its hide going to be removed, its-body opened, and a- stranger-butcher at work. Terrible- sight to poor Fritz ! He guessed that the Republicans were the invaders. It was true enough. Lisbeth'a baking- business was taken from her lands, just as Sepal's butchery had been spared him. These people seemed to have a geniusefor all trades, nothing embarrassed them. Lisbeth can only-sit -by- and observe, but seeing Fritz at the- top of theastnirs; she tellithim- to come down—the people wilrnot hurt him: It is a curious-scene. In the inner room, is ViseleJitcob; seated near the table; his-own arm-chair being occupied-by-a bluff French. man, who is-busy-operating on one of the Doctor's hams, taking from time to time great- glasses of wine from a bottle near him. An amusing-accompaniment of 'question and answer-is kept up the -whole time :— "'So, you are the Doctor—to my uncle ?'—' Yes, Monsieur is Com- mandant:'--' Call me, shortly, "Le Commandant ;" I have told you so before. The "Monsieur" and " Madame " are gone out of fashion, but, pow- en revenir a nos moutons, you must know the country well, as a Doctor. How far are wo from Raiserslantern ?'—' Seven leagues, Com- mandant.'—' And. from Pirmasens ?' — About eight.!— And from

Landau?'—'I believe About and believe, is that the way in which.a.countryman ought to answer me ?' "

For the poor Doctor-is not of warlike-mould—a higher-fear must drive out the present vague one. He does not decline the chal- lenge, however ; he drinks to the Republic one and indivisible, then is farther questioned about the presence of Austrians in the neighbourhood ; and the information- Dr. Jacob gives is not at first thought trustworthy, and the Commander drily says, " Wel don't hang. people ouradves,.but. we shoot them now and then, if. they deceive-us."

It proves, however, that the Doctor speaks truth. He shows. layreference to a map that the Commandanthas mistaken one place. for another: The- may, which is= a- valuable one; is eagerly pounced upon. "-Feu den?t- want a map," says the Frenchman,

I do,. and hereby put. it under requisition for the service of the:Republic."

' "Presently the offfeer, who is becoming somewhat more reliant, itotices Fritz: 'Ts that your son?'—' NO, Captain, my nephew.'—' A fine little fellow; welimade: H'e put.his hand'upoirmy head, and said gravely, 'Ybuanust bring up this boy in the love of the rights of man. Instead of keeping cows, he may one day command men. Now, all doors are opened, all' places are to be hadnothing is wantedlor success but good courage and 'opportunity. I=T was the son of a blacksmith. Withoutthe Republic, I should still be at the anvil. Our great. Count, would-still' be an eagle, and Tan ass, bat it is quite the contrary now, by grace of the Revolution.'"'

.Anamrcar, in.the.vitiage is soon afterwards- heard. It has. arisen,, out of a--dispute between Madame Therese; the esmtiniere- of" the

regiment,. who now for the first time appears on.the scene, and: Joseph Spick,. the owner of. the cabaret. It is, we think, a capital scene. The slow reluctance of the German innkeeper to let his stores be opened to the wants of the French, the calm, straight,- forward determination of Therese and her attendant soldiers (their very names so revolutionary, Cincinnatus and Heratius. Codes) ; then the indignation of Joseph Spiek.on her paying, hina• in assignats, which he tears to pieces before her. eyes ; and: the wrath of Cincinnatus and Co. at finding, a fellow-creature: so dese titute of " civic sentiment." Altogether it is touched. with . the hand of a.real painter The sketch. of Theresa herself is some- what idealized, but it briuga.to our minds something that we have seen, and. to our imaginations what it might have been. in the earlier and rougher days of the French. armies. This woman is a noble character,. such. as really might have grown up 'it those times, and have been thus developed. without taking harm. Upon her, as. the author depicts her, turns. the plcit of the story, yet she is not a plotter ; she is a firm believer in Republicanism,, and meets every argument calmly, but with power.

She has herself performed some extraordinary feats, of valour, and having lost her father and two brothers.in.battle, is left with only the-youngest, little John the Drummer.

The fate of war is against her now. A sudden attack from alie advanced gaud of the Austrian army is,made upon the French, while still in the village of Ansttatt. It is vividly described. The French for the most part retreat in good order, but the. dead on.both.sides are many. Among, them, under several- bodies,. is found. that of Therese, watched over by her faithful dog,, Scipio. The Doctor perceives that she is alive,, and has her carried . to his. house. For sometime it is a mere effect of. common humanity, but as, she recovers Madame Therese is.found to be no common. person. She wins hearts and subjpgates minds.. The little Fritz is.devoted to her, and has the good fortune to relieve her mind of a great sorrow, by telling her that he himself saw little John leave Anstatt, with- his- comrades; unwounded, but weeping at her supposed death.

From this time, though the course of the story never loses interest, and the characters come out with force and spirit, there is not a great deal of incident. The peel& Doctor is astonished at the mixture of sense and energy dikplayed in his patient's dl's, course. We conclude that the Chatrians write in good faith, but surely they should nob forget the quick dispersion of'- all the dreams of freedom consequent upon the growth of the Empire: Perhaps it was from a consciousness of the ihoomplettness of the present work, that it is so well supplemented in Le Conserit and Waterloo. We have reason to be glad of them all; however, and shall hope to read many another volume from the pens, so sin- gularly uniform, yet we well know so diverse.