My Life and My Travels by Heinrich Brugsch, 1894, Berlin
Early Years in Berlin, Chapter I
These days, whenever I travel on the Berlin streetcar the short stretch between Friedrichstrasse and the Exchange, I always turn my head to the left, as soon as the car has left the short Universitatstrasse behind. After a few seconds it rattles past an insignificant, but long-drawn-out two-story building that forms the south side of an extensive barracks laid out in a quadrangle, whose north wing, at the opposite end, reaches to the banks of the Spree River. My eyes rest each time on the first story, and I count the fifth window from the right corner. In the simple and plain room to which the window belongs, I saw for the first time, on the 18th of February 1827, the light of the world, and a soldier family greeted the arrival of its firstborn with the most ardent wishes for his life and his future.
The barracks was at that time, as it still is at present, allotted to the quartering of troops, and the foot artillery and the second Ulan Guard Regiment were stationed there.
Also the officers of the so-called field Rifle Corps occupied a small wing on the south side near the Ulans, quite close to my birthplace. A broad, transparent wooden lattice formed the border of the passage between the riflemen and the Ulans.
The above-mentioned south part of the entire building was designated by the Berliners as the "White Ulan Barracks," and the north as the Artillery Barracks.
At the northern end of the broad inner court surrounded by the rectangle stood blue painted cannon with their glittering brass barrels, while the entire west side of the court was lined with long stalls for the horses of both troop divisions.
The courtyard in all its length and breadth offered me, in the first years of my childhood, a splendid playground for my games, and at the same time afforded me the daily view of military spectacles through the exercising and parading of the soldiers, in which I found the highest satisfaction.
Of course my complete partiality was directed to the White Ulans, among whom my father, a dignified, handsome man, occupied at the time of birth the post of quartermaster. I felt a certain uneasiness about the artillery, because I thought the cannon might be loaded, and during the exercises might sometime go off. That, however, did not prevent me from paying a visit to the displayed cannon the duty free hours, in order to clamber up on their wheels, slide back and forth on the polished barrels and try to ride them.
At my baptism, three officers of the regiment were invited as witnesses. Although my father belonged, according to his faith, to the Catholic Church, he preferred to deliver me to the community of Evangelical Christians, and thereby fulfill the request of my Protestant mother, Dorothea. She was a native of Domersleben, near Magdeburg, and daughter of the house steward Schramm, who had performed his royal service for Prince Louis of Prussia until the latter's death in the battle of Saalfeld.
To my Silesian-born and strictly Catholic grandfather, Johann Karl Brugsch, an old retired soldier who had entered the army under Frederick the Great, and later had taken part in all the Prussian campaigns, both unsuccessful and successful, against Napoleon 1, my proposed Evangelical baptism seemed thoroughly improper, and he did everything possible, although vainly, to dissuade my father from his intention. Toward my mother he harbored a particular resentment, since he held her alone, as the originator of the change of religion in the cradle, as responsible before God and men. Up until his death, which occurred in his 86th year, he could not be prevailed upon to change his earlier standpoint, and to modify his irate disposition. This laid the ground for later dissensions in the quiet family life.
And so the baptism of the infant was announced in the Evangelical Garrison Church in Berlin, so that the holy rite might be performed on him, when an unexpected event occurred, which pushed my Evangelical membership completely into the background, and all because of the deference toward a princely personage.
During the last campaign against Napoleon I, Prince Heinrich von Carolath of Silesia had led a squadron known at that time as the Vossisch Dragoons, in which my grandfather served as corporal, my own father and his six brothers as volunteers. In the course of the campaigns in which the prince and his corporal had taken part together, an extremely friendly relationship had grown up between them, which became all the more deeply rooted when, on the battlefield of Leipzig, the six brothers of my father sealed their devotion to king and fatherland with their death, leaving my father as the last surviving member of his line. At his discharge from the regiment, after the' conclusion of peace, the deeply religious Prince made my father promise to invite him as godfather at the baptism of his first child. He would in any case appear, and would not shrink even from a long journey.
There were at that time, not yet any comfortable railroad trains, and the existing stagecoach connection between Berlin and Carolath required, especially in the bad season, a great length of time. Moreover, twelve years had passed since the battle of Leipzig, and it was not to be expected that the Prince would expose himself to the hardships of a distant journey in a stagecoach, for the sake of baptism of a soldier's child. Nevertheless, my father had the godparent letter sent off fourteen days before the baptism date, and early one Thursday came the reply, that the Prince would appear punctually in the Catholic Church of St. Hedwig in Berlin on the following Sunday in order to carry his godchild in his arms.
That struck like a bolt out of a clear sky. My poor father could do nothing but rush to withdraw the announcement in the Evangelical Garrison Church of St. Hedwig, and make all preparations for the worthy reception of the Prince. I have the suspicion that a special note from my grandfather to his princely friend may have furnished the reason for the sudden change.
Upon leaving the house of God, the Prince put a box into the hand of the midwife who was carrying me, with instructions that its contents-it was his portrait in miniature painting, on a gold chain-be put on my small neck and that, thus adorned, I be placed in my mother's arms. Not until four years later did chance lead to the discovery that the faithless midwife had thievishly kept the gem for herself. I cannot say whether this could not have been regarded as a fateful omen for the future course of my life. Many occasions offered me ground for such a belief, but here I pass over them in silence.
My first years of childhood I spent, as I said, among White Ulans. One robust soldier, a brave man named Streich, who later ended his days as a respectable innkeeper in the town of Diiben, had the job of nursemaid for me, and since he had a real affection for me, so was I no less fond of him, and always used to bewail his occasional absence with loud cries. As soon as I learned to walk, he was relieved of his job. The great barracks courtyard was transformed into my restricted homeland, just as far as my little legs could carry me around it. Gradually, my thirst for action urged me into the outer world, first of all to the "Katzensteg," as the present-day Georgenstrasse was called in old Berlin. On the south side of the Ulan quarters was built a long wooden wall blackened with pitch, in the middle of which was a gate with a sentry post in front of it. The wall cut off the Katzensteg on this side. Opposite stood small, insignificant dwellings, here a house, there a house, also a pub was not lacking, because of the proximity of the barracks-and in the gaps between were laid out small gardens, in which green vegetables filled the plots and yellow sunflowers, with their long stalks, provided the chief decoration.
On the nearby bank of the River Spree the eye fell upon a small, open smithy. Situated in close proximity to the water, it aroused my highest admiration. A leather bellows puffed into the charcoal fire on the hearth, so that the sparks flew; at the anvil the hammer of the smith fell upon the red-glowing horseshoes, while the horses to be shod stood in the middle of the sidewalk. Since the sooty fellows who managed the workshop belonged to my friends, the White Ulans, the picture seemed doubly homelike to me. When I had a quarter of an hour to spare, I stood by the iron railing on the bank of the Spree near the smithy and admired the long row of "Zillen" (small barges), which were laden with peat, bricks, or hay and straw, and made their slow wet way on the inky black water. There was at that time still no thought of the new museum buildings on the opposite bank, and the Artem non odit nisi ignarus, or, as a famous Berliner, known for his satire, read the last word:
Ignatius, did not yet display its gilded letters under the gable of the later temple of the Muses.
The Katzensteg,like all Berlin at that time, had a rough pavement, with dirty, open gutters on both sides of the dam. A foul-smelling filth, not uncommonly mixed with the bodies of dead cats and rats, like additions to the stew, reeked to heaven, and the green grass, combined with delicate marigolds and sweet buttercups, grew in abundance between the paving stones. Among the houses on the street facing the White Ulans and my own birthplace was one that was particularly hateful to me, and I avoided its vicinity for very valid reasons. It served as a hospital for the regiment of the guard, and had only a few rooms in which the sick lay, while several orderlies carried out the instructions of the staff doctor. One day I suffered from a violent toothache; my father led me, without much ado, to the small building, which stood in the middle of a sad little garden. A sturdy garde .du corps planted me on a wooden stool, held me firmly with his powerful left arm, while with his right hand he inserted a pair of forceps into my mouth and tore out the suffering tooth by the roots. Since then, I never again as a child complained of a toothache, for the powerful method of cure remained constantly in my memory.
The continuation of the Katzensteg across the present day Universitate-Stallstrasse showed on both sides of the lane the sad view of wooden fences, which were only interrupted by low houses of unattractive appearance. On the left-hand comer stood the Diorama of Gropius, a center of attraction of the first rank for the show-loving population of old Berlin in the winter season. Especially during Christmas week, the attendance was quite extraordinary. Landscape panoramas with movable figures in the foreground, the complete military maneuver of Kalisch of the combined Russian and Prussian troops, comical scenes from daily life with the help of wax dolls were represented for the entertainment of the crowd; musical bands with lifesized musicians composed of painted and clothed wooden figures, and similar, mostly very harmless creations, formed the most noteworthy objects next to a small folk theatre which the honored public viewed with delight. Later the Diorama was removed to the opposite comer, and the older building was turned into a studio for the restoration of decorative pieces for the royal theater. A great clock in the gable served the neighbors and passersby as an undoubtedly correct measure of time. Both buildings came to an end. The older one was destroyed by fire; its successor, on the other hand, was tom down and the free space used for the construction of royal stables. As for the founder of the Diorama, "the old Gropius," as he was popularly called, was during my childhood years, a celebrated person in the eyes of the Berliners. I still remember today his solid figure with its curly gray Goethe head. Beside the Diorama there ran a fence, behind which was situated Seeger's Riding School. The aristocratic sports world of Berlin, at its head the gentlemen officers, found here a favorite rendezvous, and even the Court did not disdain to grace with its presence the tournaments and costume spectacles that took place from time to time. Opposite stretched a long wooden wall daubed with black pitch, like an outspread dirty towel, in order to separate a vast, grass grown area from the street side. The women dried their washing on it, and the dear youngsters built the mountains of sand or dug pitfalls of suitable depth. Toward the left, directly behind the broad gateway, rose an old barrack with the headquarters of the Berlin funeral establishment of that time. The offices were on the ground floor, and the sinister carriages for bearing the dead stood under an open shed with a high saddle roof made of wooden planks nailed together. The vehicles had the form of ordinary wooden carriages, over which a black mourning cloth was spread. At every funeral, the corpse with its coffin suffered the most frightful shaking up, but no one was troubled about that, and regarded the thing as something inevitable or harmless.
Concerning this shaking up, I can put in a little word, since I and my playmates of the male and female sex used to seize the favorable opportunity, at the departure of the hearses, of slipping into the vehicle from behind, and having a free ride on the rough pavement. Our childhood bones were thoroughly jolted by it, but the goal had been reached, and we felt more than happy. As far as the recollections of my childhood reach, there still remains today in vivid memory the admiration with which I used to regard three familiar figures of the old street life; the lamplighter, the ragman, and the corner jobber.
The lamplighter, with his oil-dripping cart, passed across the Katzensteg when I went to school in the early morning. The greasy tin oil can took up the hind part of the rolling cart; in the front part an oil-dipper hung on its hook; lamp shears, an oil gauge, wicks and dirty rags reposed in a wooden box provided with a cover that could be closed. A wooden ladder rested outside on the right side of the cart. A street lamp dangled from a shapeless beam that was planted in the earth, and swayed to and fro in a high wind. Inside on the bottom rested the lamp, with whose cleaning and filling the lamp man had to occupy himself. The work required a long time, and the phases in the progress of completion gave me material for deep contemplation on the care of the street lamps of the metropolitan city of Berlin.
When there was no moon on the calendar, the same person appeared in the evening to fill his role as lamplighter. Then the ladder rested on his left shoulder. He climbed up on it to the height of the lamp, dabbed the sulphur head of a match in a red-painted flask whose contents consisted of asbestos and drops of vitriol. In an instant, the match caught fire, with which the wick was lighted, unless otherwise hindering circumstances due to wind and rainy weather interfered. The appearance of the ragman aroused special delight in us children. When his whistle sounded in the street, the young folk rushed into the house, to beg hastily for linen rags and tatters from the dear mother. The good man, who pushed a sack and a longish wooden box before him on his cart, knew his people well, and quietly awaited the return of the boys and girls. The business of exchange was conducted with all seriousness, and for the stuff delivered, the young folk received, according to their wish, a gaily-printed sheet of pictures, tin rings with colored glass stones, pins and similar things, handed over as of equal worth.
The third street figure, which to my child's eyes seemed like a wondrous creature, was the "Eckensteher" or comer jobber of that time. As his name implies, he took his stand on the comers of the busiest streets; with particular preference this serviceable spirit chose his place in the immediate vicinity of a distillery or "destille," in the jargon of Neii Berlin, and his red nose was evidence of the lively participation which he devoted at intervals to the increase of business. A shiny brass plate with a number visible from afar was fastened to a broad band of bright red cotton on his left arm, and a strong leather sling rested on his shoulder. In his philosophical calm he presented a counterpart to the Oriental dervish, and like the latter, he was able to hold out in the warm sunshine the livelong day, with the exception of the pauses in the neighboring schnaps-shop, waiting for his customers. To the most famous examples of corner jobbers at that time belonged Nante, with the number 22, who for years maintained his place on Unter den Linden at the comer House of Grossen Friedrichstrasse, opposite the Kranzler confectionery, and who, in a popular farce, "The Comer Jobber Nante on Trial" played a leading role. When the old Beckmann, well-known comedian, appeared in this piece in the "Konigstadtisch" Theatre on Alexanderplatz, the seats all the way up to Olympus were filled with joyful spectators. It was the time in which the tavern-keeper Drucker had the crazy idea of having his guests served by waiters riding ponies, when the upper-class world used to gather "at Kranzler's" or in the confectionery shops of Stehely, Josty, Spargnapan, or Meier, at the Gendarme Market, and when, at the Colosseum on the Old Jakobstrasse, gay masked balls were celebrated in the winter season, at which even the Court did not hesitate to take part. The highest nobility appeared in the midst of the burghers of Berlin, without fear of being exposed to criticism in the newspapers the next day. At that time, to be sure, it was before 1848.
Also at fires I was never missing. A sudden conflagration, especially at night, provided the entire youth of Berlin, from which I in no way excluded myself, with the enjoyment of a shuddering pleasure. The night watchmen tooted on their cow-horns, as soon as a red glimmer flamed up against the sky, slowly the house doors opened, and neighbor tailor, shoemaker, and other resident members of the guilds appeared in the costume of firemen. A peculiar dark tin helmet with an upward-curving projection at the back covered their necks and a loose-fitting coat of firm, greenish black cotton enveloped their limbs. Some went to the nearest engine house to prepare the extinguishing apparatus for taking out, others set out for the cab-stalls, in order to remind the owners of their duty, namely, to harness the worn-out nags to the watering engine. Still others took possession of the fountains, called "Plumpen," in order to have the little tubs, which were filled with dirty water, set on a wooden sledge and dragged by other horses through the streets to the scene of the fire. Whatever could walk was on its legs, and naturally not the last were the youngsters, who particularly at night enjoyed the red light of the dripping torches, and merrily trotted along beside the engines and fire tubs.
At big fires the actual work of quenching them was a fruitless task, even when the nearest spectators, who stood gaping about, were forced by the firemen, without distinction of persons, to set the pumps in motion. I saw with my own eyes the frightful burning of the old mill-dam, at which nearly 30 people met their death by fire, and later witnessed the great fire of the Opera House, at which for the first time a steam hose performed its but slight service, for it lacked the most essential weapon, namely water, and I need not for my part, assert that at the time the technique of extinguishing fires was carried out with the most insufficient means.
Berlin, with its 150,000 inhabitants, had remained, in spite of its renown as a royal residence and as center of an uncommonly lively intellectual life, a small town, which could be compared least of all with the world-cities Paris and London. The old encircling wall, of which remnants have still remained to the present day in the neighborhood of the Charitee Building, cramped its expansion. It was an event, when the cab with the number 100 was seen in the streets for the first time.
Beyond the ugly brick girdle with its crumbling plaster began the open country, although, with the sole exception of the Tiergarten, in not a very attractive condition. The dusty and sandy roads, mostly bordered by hawthorn or hedged in by thistles and stinging nettles, led to the nearest villages in the neighborhood. One-horse carts, which stopped at certain gates and whose drivers greeted each new passenger who got on as the last before the imminent departure, provided the connection with Charlottenburg and other more distant recreation spots, in which "die Weisse" and so-called "Bayersches" were served in very simple gardens. The region of the gallows was shunned by the excursionists; only on the days of an execution the curious crowd, already about midnight, streamed toward the dreadful spot, in order to get a good place for the coming spectacle. Men, women, and children, laden with lunch baskets, poured out of the Rosenthal gate, and one forgot all weariness in expectation of things to come. It was a piece of medieval life, which on such occasions was reflected in and outside of Berlin.
The public peace and order was taken care of by the gendarme and the police commissioner, for both of whom I had a mighty respect. The latter took the place of the present-day police lieutenant, and was in his district, a well-known personage, whom one met with due courtesy and respect. The gendarme performed his duty in the streets, and directed his stern eyes on everything unlawful and improper. Even smoking pipes and cigars in public was forbidden. I still remember the sensation which the notorious Lola Montez, during her short stay in Berlin, caused at that time. Accompanied by an English bulldog, the proud Spaniard promenaded along Unter den Linden with a lighted cigarette in her mouth and a riding whip in her hand. The gendarme who called her to account, she simply lashed with a whip across his bearded face. She was arrested and immediately expelled from Berlin. Her actions and her life, as is well known, subsequently gave her a bad reputation. While I was staying in America as General Commissioner of the Egyptian government, the news of her death reached my ears. She departed this life in the bitterest misery, in a village in the vicinity of Philadelphia.
I could write a book on old Berlin, as it then was, so faithfully preserved are my recollections of the city and its witty inhabitants, my dear countrymen, had not others before me already performed this task, and with more skillful pens than mine. Besides, it is not at all my purpose to tell the reader about the good old times, but to place myself biographically in the foreground, although I feel the difficulty of doing justice in a measure even to this task, in order to awaken, not only among my friends but also those more distant, a perhaps unmerited interest in my career. My school years I may thereby not pass over, for they provide the key to many a phenomenon in the development of my character for which I would otherwise find no explanation.
First Days of School
Gradually I grew into a seven-year-old boy. Held to a strict military discipline by my father, I was in no way pampered by my mother. In the meantime, there was a change in the situation of my parents, in that my father was transferred from the White Ulans to the long-named Elite Corps of the Reserve Guard Army Gendarmerie, in which, as first sergeant major, he assumed the post of officer-in-charge. The troops, 24 in number, had the rank of adjutants and the breast of each and everyone of them was decorated with war medals from the campaigns against Napoleon I. As for foreign decorations, most of them wore the Russian Medal of St. Anna, which they had received during the frequent visits in Berlin of the all-powerful Emperor Nicholas I. I expressly mention the name of this Prince, because for him I have to the present day preserved the feeling of deepest gratitude for the further development of my education.
The Gendarmerie, to which my father belonged as leader until the end of his life, was intended exclusively for service in the immediate proximity of King Friedrich Wilhelm III.
Daily my father sent an ordinance to the royal palace, which later Emperor Friedrich occupied while still Crown Prince, after the old building of modest, bourgeois appearance had been enlarged and architecturally ornamented.
As soon as Emperor Nicholas I arrived in Berlin, and this happened almost yearly, he was put up in the old royal castle, and to my father regularly fell the distinction of serving as honorary guard in the ante-chamber of the Emperor. My father possessed an extraordinary resemblance to the figure of the Ruler of all the Russians, only the imperial giant topped him by about a head, and his sympathetic features instilled in the all-powerful one an unusual confidence in his Prussian honor guard. The Emperor loved to converse with him in the German language, and to inquire about his family. One day he expressed the wish to see both wife and child, and mother and son were actually presented to him in the ante-chamber. The Emperor lifted me high with both hands and kissed me on the forehead with the words "God bless you, my child!" Still today his figure floats vividly before my eyes.
The magnanimity of the Czar rewarded the repeated services of my father in a truly imperial manner. There was a shower of downright precious gold watches and snuff-boxes set with brilliants, the latter not infrequently filled with gold ducats. The small treasure formed a solid capital, which was piecemeal turned into cash when unusual expenditures were necessary, and to those belonged the growing costs upon my entrance into school, and other requirements for my further education and development.
I began my career in the school of old Marggraff and there had to live through the first sorrows and joys of the confined existence outside of the parental home. The teachers were, on the whole, satisfied with the young recruit, and only rarely did the hard ruler strike my outstretched fingers or the slim cane my back. I possessed too much sense of honor to let myself be punished publicly before the assembled forces, and was as attentive during the school lessons as I was industrious in my parents' house. My report cards varied between I and II, and the majority of the merits offset the impression of the bad marks.
My strict father placed the highest value upon my fine and beautiful handwriting, since he rightly claimed that it was the best recommendation in the world, and that a well written letter would find a much more friendly acceptance than a hastily thrown together, illegible scribble. I had to take private lessons with old Heinsius, a kind of letter-master, and not only learn the form and arrangement of a letter according to all the rules of the art, but master the exact distinctions, for example, between "Wohlgeboren," and "Hochwohlgeboren," "Hochedelgeboren," etc., up to the highest and loftiest ranks, to impress upon me the customary address and titles of such, in order to make no serious mistakes in any situation that might occur.
When I visited my grandparents, who had set up their modest home at Markgrafenstrasse 63, the same torture began anew. The old gentleman set me at the small table in the niche of the left window, drew out the box with the neatly arranged writing materials, and the writing exercise was carried on in the usual way. If I sighed, when my grandfather disappeared for a few minutes, my dear grandmother slipped a sixpence into my pocket, and I continued, fortified in my slavish task. The, as I thought, honestly earned coin I spent on the purchase, not of sweets, but of sheets of pictures which I colored, in order to create my own world in miniature.
A particular pleasure afforded me in my grandparents' house was reading the family Bible, which was decorated with numerous woodcuts, and before my delighted eyes conjured up the life and works of the old inhabitants of the East. I never wearied of following the pictures to the smallest details, and even the Spirit of God, which the artist had represented in the form of a hoary, bearded man with flowing robes, who floated over the waters, captivated me to an unusual degree.
The venerable Book of Books, which is still in my possession to the present day, fascinated me, and to it I attribute the first longing for an acquaintance with the people and lands of the East, which gave so definite a direction to my entire later life. For that reason, moreover, it happened that a travel report of the Orient, published at the instigation and expense of an Evangelical Missionary Society-it was according to the description of a tailor named Borsum-made an unbelievable impression on me, in spite of, or perhaps just because of its simple, childlike style. I would have learned tailoring, if it had offered me the prospect of a similar journey. From that time on, I saved all the groschen and pfennige from Grandmother and Aunt Ramm together, rummaged through the antiquarian books displayed in the vestibules of certain houses in Berlin, bought for little money a German translation of Herodotus, and old travel descriptions, likewise translated into German, of Pococke, Denon and Norden. These I read far into the night, in order to comprehend to the fullest extent, the wonders of the East according to the reports of those enviable travelers. What was Berlin and its wonders to me, in comparison? I would have surrendered half the city for a single Theban catacomb.
My entrance into the French Gymnasium, which at that time was situated behind the royal palace, was to become fateful for my youthful destiny. Then under the guidance of its serious, cold director, the Consistorial Councilor Fournier, the Gymnasium enjoyed a lively attendance, of which the offspring from the lap of the French colony in Berlin provided the lion's share. I was assigned to the lowest class of the Gymnasium, the Septima, and placed under an Ordinarius or room teacher, who certainly is not to blame, that I still wander in the light of the sun. The aforesaid Ordinarius, a Herr Kohlheim, known from the year 1848 as one of the most zealous supporters of the "Treubund," had served along with my father as a soldier in the field, and newly resumed friendly contacts led to discussions concerning the course of my further studies. He contrived to convince my father that only the education at the French Gymnasium could open up to me a secure future, and so, as an eight-year-old boy, I went into the Septima class. If I had the childish faith, that in the friend of my father I had indeed won a kind adviser and teacher, I had reckoned the bill without the host. In his hard, pinched features and in his piercing eyes there reigned neither mildness nor benevolence, and his heart lacked all those qualities that draw a student to the teacher and win his affection. My Ordinarius was a school tyrant of the worst sort, and the stick and slap in the face were his only valid means of instilling respect in the poor young one, and of exhorting him to attention and work. My father had certainly made a mistake in turning me over completely to the power of this man, and I could not complain at home about the mistreatment I suffered, without exposing myself to a second course of punishment. In the mornings I received my sound thrashing, through midday I was shut up without receiving any nourishment, and in the afternoon my cruel tormentor threatened me with other cruel punishments. Powerless against this brutal treatment, I, the eight-year-old boy, swore a sacred oath to myself, neither to write a line in school, nor to study, and to follow the instruction with deaf ears. For four years, even later, after I had left the Gymnasium, I kept the vow, and as a result, earned the most severe censure. In the Septima Ordinarius I had learned, in general, to hate every teacher most thoroughly.
Before the beginning of the Christmas holidays in 1834, I, as the lowest in the Septima class, received the worst quarterly report, with number IV, but in addition, from the Ordinarius, a hand-administered memorandum of so grievous a sort that the blood ran from my back and I sank down in exhaustion. After that, the class was dismissed, and I was kicked out of the door. That was too much for me, poor youngster. In bitter cold and snow a foot deep, I wandered through the streets of Berlin, took the road to Schoneberg, with the intention of fleeing to Magdeburg to beg an uncle on my mother's side, who lived there, for compassion and shelter. About 3 o'clock in the afternoon, shortly before the Christmas festival, I had left Berlin; when I reached Schoneberg it was already dark night. I had no money to buy food, in order to still my increasing hunger, and the icy cold penetrated my shivering limbs.
But on I went, through snow and cold, across a dismal heath, until about ten o'clock at night, I saw lights and took my way in their direction. I stumbled upon a tavern, in which drivers and peasants were talking in the loudest voices. Frightened, I set my shaking legs again in motion, in order to continue my journey. I staggered along the driveway, sank down suddenly like one dead, and my benumbed body lay buried in the snow.
What happened to me further, I myself cannot say. I only remember that peasants or farm hands who came that way discovered me by chance, lifted me onto their wagon, and carried me into the tavern, to warm me and revive me with food and drink. I was finally delivered to my deeply distressed parents, and soon thereafter fell into a severe sickness that kept me in a bed for long weeks.
My tormenter, who was given the news of what happened, felt so little remorse over it, that he clapped my father on the shoulder, and with his satanic smile added "Believe me, that young one of yours will one day decorate the gallows!" That was the amiable teacher to whom, during a series of years, the fate of the young and the shaping of tender minds were entrusted. His own punishment, however, was not to be spared him. The father of a Septima student who, according to the usual methods of the fine Ordinarius which I have described, had been unspeakably mistreated, conducted complaints to higher and highest places, and Herr K. received, along with a well-deserved official censure, his dismissal from the teaching profession.
My father, for whom military discipline had entered his flesh and blood, did not feel justified in making a complaint whose outcome seemed dubious to him. Moreover, he had turned me over to my tormentor unconditionally, in the good faith that the latter, as a former war comrade, deserved the fullest confidence.
Fortunately, for the education of the young, especially in our present time, such examples of barbaric teachers are hardly thinkable any more, or they would immediately be removed by the authorities.
The wrath which I had conceived against the collective teaching body was not to be put to rest for a long time. I was taken out of the Gymnasium and put into a public school on Jagerstrasse which at that time flourished under the leadership of its director, Gericke.
But what were school and teachers to me? Instead, I read the Greek classics in German translation, steeped myself in travel reports and descriptions of the Levant, without neglecting my regular calligraphic exercises under the eyes of my father and grandfather.
Everyone was astonished at my masterly handwriting, and it afforded me the honor of performing faithful service to my father as transcriber of his military reports.
It was often rigorous work, especially about the time approaching the New Year; then it was a question of finishing the military register of the King's Gendarmerie consisting of 24 men and its horse complement, this to be laid out in tabulated form and containing a mass of statements, requiring a considerable assortment of lines and words. The lists had to be executed in four copies, and the first copy was laid before the King. It was a triumph for my father, when even on the highest authority the beauty of the handwriting was praised, but despite the flattering praise from the mouth of my progenitor I could not free myself from the imbibed poison of hatred toward the teaching profession in general.
How I Discovered the Ancient Egyptians
I had reached the age of about twelve, but I felt myself isolated, and avoided playing games with my contemporaries. Besides, my health since my peregrination had received a blow, and I often felt deathly weak. And yet I was aware of a nameless urge to create, and this eventually built the bridge to my own Egyptian researches.
The descriptions of the wonders of ancient Egypt had made such an overpowering impression on me, that all my thoughts and aspirations were directed to the knowledge of the sources for the investigation of these wonders. The Egyptian Museum opened the gates to this for me. The small, at that time, but already very valuable royal collection of Egyptian antiquities was located in a long, hothouse-like building in the midst of the shady trees of Monbijou Garden, on Oranienburgerstrasse. The Director, M. Passalacqua, an Italian born in Trieste, had formed this collection during his long sojourn in Egypt, where he had devoted himself to the mercantile business, through excavations and inexpensive purchases. On his return to Europe he settled in Paris, exhibited his treasures publicly, and cherished the wish to transfer them by sale to the French government-it was in the time of Louis Philippe. Negotiations over this came to nothing, until our great Alexander von Humboldt, who spent every winter in Paris in order to pursue his scientific studies in the world-famous library of the Institute, succeeded in acquiring the beautiful collection for Berlin. The price paid for it was moderate, but attached to the purchase was the stipulation that its owner, M. Passalacqua, must be promoted to state-salaried Director of the Egyptian Museum in Monbijou. I shall return presently to this worthy man, for he assumed a prominent role in the years of my first struggles.
Timidly I entered, for the first time, the rooms densely filled with old Egyptian remains, small and large. The excellent museum seemed to me like a sanctuary, in which every part and every piece aroused a feeling of the most reverential admiration in my young mind. It was to me as though heaven with all its glory had fallen upon the earth, and as though I wandered about in the midst of a beautiful dream, in the realm of fairy tales. Not mere curiosity, but the sincerest thirst for knowledge had gripped me, and the hieroglyphs passed like secrets of deep significance before my eyes. Who would solve their riddles for me, who would give me information on the origin and history of the inscribed monuments? The great question remained unanswered, and yet I believed I had discovered a finger pointing in the direction of its solution, and indeed in the hieroglyphic words, because Passalacqua, on the basis of Champollion the Younger's discoveries, had added a German transcription with his own hand, as short explanatory text to the exhibited monuments, even to the smallest images of gods. Furtively I drew a slip of paper from my pocket, with a pencil copied the strange signs with the greatest possible faithfulness-and the ancient Egyptian goddess had for the first time extended her fingertip to me, in order later to clasp me irretrievably in her arms.
In my efforts to transcribe the richly illustrated signs to paper I had attracted the attention of a royal gallery attendant, who approached me with the words: "Well, what are you doing there, young man?" Confused, I stepped back, but he immediately went on:
"Don't worry, I won't rob you of your pleasure; you can cut your teeth on that, as many a great scholar has already done." It was" old Pahl," as they called him, whose acquaintance I made here for the first time, and who later honored me with his full friendship. The little man with the small face and blond wig above it was, at that time, going on fifty, and his whole being reflected an indestructible cheerfulness. Later I had to help him empty many a "cool blond" at Pickebacks' on Linienstrasse, but I did so with pleasure, because before his appointment in the museum he had, for over ten years, stood near a hero whom the world mentions only with admiration, the great statesman and linguistic scholar, Wilhelm von Humboldt. Pahl, a rather cultured man, had occupied the position of his secretary, to whom the famous scholar had dictated his last works, among them the world-renowned ingenious investigation "Concerning the Kawi Language," and also "Letters to a Lady Friend," much admired by a far wider circle of readers. The secretary was a true child of Berlin, and when his tongue was loosened, I received contributions on the characteristics of von Humboldt in his domestic existence, contributions which could not be thought more precious, and which proved to me anew the truth of the assertion that the greatness of a man disappears in front of his valet.
Old Pahl remained during the entire remaining course of his life, until his seventies, as gallery attendant in the Egyptian Museum, even after its transfer into the new Museums. Therefore he was my protector in everything concerning freedom of entrance and work in the areas of the Old Egyptian sanctuary. For at that time, it was open to the general public only one or two days a week.
My frequent, that is, daily appearances could not fail to draw the attention also of the Director, M. Joseph Passalacqua, and Pahl did not refrain from praising my industry and my qualities to him in exceedingly warm terms. In my memory, I have vividly preserved recollections of the amiable personality of the Director of the Museum in the Montbijou Garden. He still today stands before my eyes like a dear and precious picture, even with all the faults and weaknesses of a 'self-made man,' who was moreover, a Southerner.
Italian by birth, French according to his language and his entire being, Passalacqua, at that time sixty, made the impression of a distinguished personality, which extended to the outward appearance of the man. He was welcome in all the salons of the Berlin society of that time, mingled with the best company, and showed himself every afternoon on the promenade Unter den Linden, where his expressive face with the brownish tint of a Southerner instinctively drew the attention of the crowd. Unmarried, he led the life of an amiable man about town, dined in the Hotel St. Petersburg, guided his friends or distinguished strangers through his collections, went to the theater in the evening, or into society, to come home and devote himself to intellectual work until late at night.
His apartment was located on the ground floor on Prasidentenstrasse, in the neighborhood of the Monbijou Garden. It consisted of a series of rooms which were filled with pictures in countless numbers, with and without frames, hanging on the walls or standing on the floors, so that only a narrow passage remained free between them. The treasures consisted entirely of oil paintings from the early Italian and Spanish Schools, which, in Passalacqua's opinion, owed their origin to the most famous masters, and possessed a value beyond price. In the middle of the farthest room stood a great round table with a green cover, on which a ballast of books and drawings of old Egyptian figures, done by his hand, towered in wild disorder. Only a small space on the table was left free, to serve him for writing and reading. A dusty chandelier in the Rococo style hung over the table. A wrinkled gauze covering enveloped it, and a rosette of green wool concealed the iron hook by which the broad light-dispenser was fastened to the ceiling of the room.
I mention this circumstance for a particular reason. The rooms with their treasures of pictures were never allowed to be cleaned by the servant, so that finger-thick dust rested on everything that bore the name of picture, furniture, cover, drapery and curtain. One thought one was in the storeroom of an Italian antiquarian, as soon as one set foot in the apartment. How many an evening the inquisitive boy sat opposite the mature man, in order to listen to the most wonderful tales of ancient and modem Egypt from his lips, or to hear about Champollion, discoverer of decipherment of the hieroglyphics, and other great scholars with whom Passalacqua was personally acquainted, or to be provided with books which were to open for him the entrance into the dreamed-of-paradise of the old Egyptian mysteries! Each time I felt myself inspired, and could have fallen at the feet of the master, in order to express my childish thanks in mute language. Passalacqua appeared to me like a demigod, who possessed only the one fault, that he regarded the deciphering of the hieroglyphs as something incidental, and looked upon the secret of the enigmatic pictures as the foundation of all the wisdom of the ancient Egyptians. What did I understand at that time by the words "enigmatic pictures?" The master ~explained to me clearly and distinctly, and of course in the German language, which he wrote and spoke excellently, that not the inscriptions, but the pictorial representations on stone and papyrus bore the riddles of this primeval wisdom within them, and that he had been favored by destiny to rediscover the lost key to their solution.
He had, for a long period of years, collected heaps of proofs of this enigmatic language, and there they lay-at that he pointed to the piled-up-drawings-and then followed an explanation, until to me, poor youth, the spinning-top of enigmatic wisdom fairly split my head. But I endured it, in order not to give the worthy revealer of the secrets any offense or disillusionment. His main doctrine concerned the significance of the right, the spiritual, and the left, or material side of the monuments, the former enigmatically indicated by burnt offerings, the latter by bread offerings. Then there were the four great world-zones through which the departed souls had to wander and each zone was divided into a spiritual and a material side. That was the sacred 2 x 4 or 8 number. When a representation showed exceptions to the established rules of the mysteries, he knew each time his own good reasons for this, for it had to conform.
Not infrequently the instruction in evening hours was interrupted by peeping sounds, which seemed to me to come from the ceiling above in the region of the chandelier, and each time I looked in confusion toward the upper part of the room, "Don't be disturbed" my amiable adversary used to remark soothingly. "It's a bird again which in the evening has flown through the open window into the room in order to have its night's rest here. I do not disturb it for it brings me luck" I am anticipating something that occurred only later, since it did not cross the path of my life, but perhaps casts a doubtful shimmer on the word "luck" One evening-I was at that time in the Nile Valley-Passalacqua was seated at his usual work place, when from the already described height, a complete mouse nest, with the old and young ones in it, sailed down onto the table! One can imagine his surprise at such an unexpected present, and can easily understand that thoughts about the advantage of matrimony, in the place of young, or rather, old bachelorhood ripened in the mind of the worthy sixty-year old. He decided thereupon to conclude a late marriage prompted by reason, stepped under the gentle yoke of matrimony, and found therein the luck he had missed. Only one experience was not spared him beforehand. His precious collection of paintings, which found no adequate appreciation in Berlin, he had sent to Paris and brought under the hammer. The proceeds hardly paid the cost of transportation and renting of the space for its exhibition.
Its possession had in any case afforded him little pleasure, for in the last years of his life he lost his eyesight, and thereafter remained bound to his quiet home.
I may not pass over in silence the fact that Passalacqua, who in his outward appearance displayed, in spite of his Italian origin, a calm and considerate nature, never allowing me, at least, to perceive a sign of a passionate temper, felt a deep antipathy against Professor Karl Richard Lepsius. Lepsius had first engaged in Egyptian studies in Paris and Italy, and during his Italian travels had found the opportunity to purchase several historically important monuments of Egyptian origin for the Berlin Museum. To these belong the colossal granite figures of two kings, which at present are exhibited in the lightcourt of the Egyptian department, confronting the entering visitor. Passalacqua was painfully offended, that the transaction had been conducted without his cooperation, and that he received first knowledge of it when the monuments had already begun their journey to Berlin. His ill humor grew, when later the renowned first Prussian expedition to Egypt, Ethiopia and Sinai Peninsula, under Lepsius' direction, procured for the Museum new and rich treasures of antiquity from the valley of the Nile. It reached its peak in the rejection of the plans Passalacqua had presented, which were to have been used in the arrangement and wall decoration of the Egyptian department in the construction of the new Museum. The suggestions and designs of the learned young professor of Egyptology were given preference, and Passalacqua's sense of honor was injured most sorely. In the meantime the, for him, unthinkable had happened, and the erstwhile Director was obliged to accept the administration of the old Egyptian Museum in the Lepsian form. Upon entering the empty Director's room a melancholy mood came over him, which he attributed to the move from the fresh, tree-shaded Monbijou Garden. But in fact, it lay much deeper, namely, in resentment against the new arrangements, and the encroachment of one whom he thought incompetent in his own field of activity.
It must be admitted that he was completely wrong, for a museum is not created for the private pleasure of its director, and learning, in which Passalacqua was a really worthy dilettante, but still only a dilettante, has a full right to let its voice be heard in museum affairs, and to be heard by those whom it concerns. Yet Passalacqua had no comprehension of this, and he stuck out his horns wherever he could. Unfortunately, the opportunity would not be lacking with the gathering storms in the upper regions, to playoff my poor person, at that time completely unknown, as a trump against Lepsius. I shall come back to this later in more detail.
I Enter the Kolin
My first contacts with Passalacqua came at just the period when I was enrolled, for the second time, as a grammar-school student at the Kollnisch Real-Gymnasium, then located in the old Town Hall on the Fish Market. I was assigned to the "Quarta," or fourth class, but the knowledge I acquired in the public school was too weak to meet all the requirements, and it was especially the language of the ancient Romans, and the difficulties of mathematics, that gave me unspeakable trouble. Private tutoring was beyond the family means, and so I sat for two full years on the hard school bench, without moving from the spot. My written works were calligraphic masterpieces, but their content gave evidence of the Quarta-inadequacy of their already fourteen-year-old author.
I had recovered somewhat from my hatred against the entire teaching profession. The Director of the Institution, Professor August, and my former teachers possessed not only outstanding pedagogical ability, but also a thorough learning, which never escapes young students, as long as it rests on a firm foundation. August was an esteemed teacher in physics and mathematics, Barentin an unsurpassed master in lecturing on the three realms of nature, and Benari was an academic luminary who had a command of Greek and Latin as no one else, and spoke both languages with unbelievable fluency. His public debate, in Latin, with the author of the dissertation entitled De morbo democratico is perhaps still remembered by my older contemporaries. Professor Kuhn, under whose guidance we received instruction in German and English, has become the most learned and fundamental scholar in the field of comparative Indo-Germanic languages, known to most through a periodical named after him. The names of my remaining teachers: Holzapfel, Krech, Kuhlmei, Polsberw, Runge, Selkmann, Lommatzsch, among others, refer to men of importance in the history of the Berlin school system, and to each individual one, I owe the warmest gratitude for the knowledge I received. If, among the distinguished masters, I may choose, the names Holzapfel and Kuhlmei would occupy a particularly shining place in the recollections of my youth. It was they who allowed me again to recognize in a teacher the true friend of his student. Both brought me into their house, and through gratuitous private instruction, filled the existing gaps in my knowledge. They had sympathy for my weaknesses, and soon the young bird felt the strength of his wings, to let himself be borne in swift flight out of the lower regions of the class up to the highest levels. I had begun to love my teachers heartily, and to show them the proof of my affection by steady industry and the most active attentiveness.
Today these honorable people all rest in the grave; only Professor Holzapfel, who later took over the position of Director of the Gymnasium in Magdeburg, is still among the living. A few months ago (November 1892) in the house of my honored friend, Hermann Gruson, I had the indescribable pleasure, after the long span of 45 years, of being able to greet him again, a mentally alert old man of 82 years. It is unnecessary to describe my deep feeling and his own tearful emotion, as our eyes met and spoke that silent language which expresses more than the most ringing words. May heaven increase the number of his years, and bestow upon him a blessed and happy old age!
Dr. Kuhlmei, a no less dear figure in my memory, was at the same time teacher and friend to me. He was the only one who knew about my secret work in the ancient Egyptian field, and with his comprehensive knowledge he lent its critical direction to my peculiar urge to studies in the barely touched field of the science of antiquity. His rich and selective library was at my disposal at any time, and in its stillness I burrowed like a miser in his treasures. Unfortunately, later, after his marriage to a young noble lady with the proud name von Bismarck, the amiable teacher was not permitted to enjoy an untroubled domestic happiness. He died of a broken heart, and faithful students sorrowfully accompanied his earthly remains to their last resting place. Outside of school, lowed a good part of my newly-won vital energy and, incidentally, my mathematical knowledge, to a man whose name I have just mentioned, and whose great successes in the field of steel techniques have been deservedly appreciated not only in our Fatherland, but everywhere abroad; I mean Hermann Groson.
My parents occupied at that time their modest home, consisting of sitting-room, bedroom, and kitchen, which was located on the court side, and on the ground floor, in a long house on Ziegelstrasse in Berlin. This hermitage did not lack poetry. Leafy espaliered vines surrounded the windows, which opened directly upon a small garden of the landlord. A dovecot sheltered an entire bird population, and the lively winged world seemed to find pleasure in moving to and fro on the windowsills, and with cooing voices pecking at the small panes of glass. I sat at my simple work table in the corner of the bedroom, and felt a blessed atmosphere at the appearance of the doves. It was as if they wanted to lure me into the open, but there lay the work for school on the table. Not infrequently, an Egyptian book was concealed under a Latin grammar, that of the old Zumpt, for I was afraid of incurring the censure of my parents, as soon as I brought to light my Egyptian secrets. My studies were carried on in secret, and ever at night-I slept in a small wooden alcove by the kitchen-I continued my work, after having lighted carefully collected candle-ends, to serve me as illumination.
Between the garden before the dwelling and the bank of the Spree, which flowed past the farm, lay a great area which dispensed with all poetry. It served as the place for assembling bricks, which were carted on planks from the "Zillen," or barges, which lay at anchor on the Spree-side, in order to be piled, with clattering din, in tower-like form, row on row. It was such an everyday sight, that I finally regarded the brick work as a disturber of the peace, for the laden "Zillen" robbed me of my chief pleasure after work was done; angling for fish of highly doubtful value and size. My good mother, as a thrifty housewife, was always kind enough to bring my frequent booty to the table in baked or fried form, until eventually I lost my appetite for it and hung up my fishing rod. There was also another obstacle of a serious sort, which interfered with my continued delight in angling: my own brother, who about this time, over 14 years after my own birth, saw the light of the world. I was given the privileged position of nursemaid who, during my free hours, had to carry the late-comer out into the light and warmth during his free hours, That was the toughest service in my life, for the uncomprehending brother used to scream violently, and secretly dealt cuffs from my hand, which proved to be the very worst means of bringing an end to his song. Besides, the Egyptians were in my head, and carrying this young citizen of the world back and forth prevented me from letting my thoughts take their undisturbed course. 0 golden Youth, where was your shining glow for me?
Separated from the living quarters of my parents by only a narrow corridor were a few rooms which two young bachelors had rented, in order to prepare themselves for their future professions. Both were natives of Magdeburg, and both were of the same age of 21 years. One of them was a tall, handsome young man with the most friendly face, overshadowed by blond hair, by trade a technician in the field of engineering. The other, a small, thick set figure with an intelligent head and dark brown, curly hair, was dedicated to the banking profession. They lived plainly and simply, as befitted respectable young bachelors, and rested after completion of a day's work only to devote themselves to further work and study with the most zealous efforts. From the enticing pleasures of this world they prudently guarded themselves, for the simple reason that their means were only of a modest sort. They certainly did not lack joy of life, for they sang like the nightingale in the wood.
The first named, Hermann Gruson, later became known to the entire world as the inventor of hard-steel casting, and as the founder of an enormous industrial organization for the production of cannon and armor plates. The second ended his life in the most favorable circumstances, for he was able to retire a rich man, in order to lead a pious existence in Berlin, in the practice of godly works. His name, Losche, is perhaps known to one or another reader.
Since my mother was a compatriot of both lodgers, friendly relations were soon established between the two apartments, and I could dare to approach the awe-inspiring Gruson when mathematical difficulties in my school work kept me from my old Egyptian favorites. On a blackboard which was fastened to the door of the inner room, I had to draw chalk triangles, rectangles and circles, with their angles, tangents, and segments, and under Gruson's jolly guidance had to construct an orderly statement and solution. Under such instruction, the science of mathematics eventually gave me true pleasure, which turned into pride in my teacher, when I saw him going across the court one day in the becoming uniform of a smart Pioneer-Officer.
Fully fifty-three years were to pass before we met again, as I shall tell the gentle reader later. The time elapsed was long enough, but for the two of us, not sufficient to efface our mutual memories.
My intellectual development made rapid progress, and soon, as a student in the upper classes of the Gymnasium, I had come so far as to give instruction to weaker schoolmates, and through the earned income to contribute to the defrayment of the costs of life's needs and nourishment in the family. Also my father's position had taken a turn for the better; one could even think of managing to afford the rent for a larger and more expensive apartment. After a short search this was fortunately found, in the same house, on the second story of the front building on Artilleriestrasse, close to the Ebert's bridge.
In the meantime, my self-taught studies of ancient Egyptian inscriptions had made blessed progress, and above all, in the branch of the demotic, or Egyptian popular script, with the decipherment of which I had constantly occupied myself, led to important discoveries whose significance I myself was not able to estimate. Hitherto one knew only the alphabetical value of a few letters which served for the transcription of Greek and Roman names, while everything else was wrapped in obscurity. Even concerning the system of this kind of script there were contradictions among the scholars who had considered it at all worth and trouble of occupying themselves with it more closely. The difficulties of decipherment appeared at that time insurmountable.
Today there is no longer any doubt that this script grew out of the abbreviated hieratic characters, the current script of the hieroglyphic ones, in order to give expression to the popular language of that time, which in grammar and syntax shows the greatest deviations from the old and oldest languages. To prove this is today no longer a feat, after I, in my hardy youth, through years of work far into the night, had solved the riddles from case to case. From the study of the so-called Demotic Sale-contracts of the Berlin Museum, the demotic part of the Rosetta inscription, the gnostic papyri of Leyden and similar monuments, I had, at the age of 16 years, already compiled a complete grammar of the demotic script drawn up in Latin, the reading of which affords me the greatest pleasure even today.
At the Gymnasium my progress in all branches of instruction was recognized by the teachers with the highest praise, and I did not let myself be discouraged from earning my spurs also in Hebrew, under the direction of Professor Lommatzsch. With my schoolmates I was on the best footing. Friendships were concluded" for life," even though in this regard there was later many a disappointment. The two Princes von Reuss (one of them is today the German Ambassador in Vienna), the State Minister von Puttkamer, the two von Prillwitzes, von Klitzing, von Caprivi, the sculptor Sussmann (Helbom), the Court actor Hiltl, the architects Luca and Ende, and many another later renowned personality of our time sat with me in the same class under the mild regimen of our beloved Director August.
The widespread knowledge of the latter was accompanied by an unbelievable absentmindedness, which occasionally expressed itself in words and actions, and provided material for the most comical stories, so inseparable from school life. That he once "with the left eye looked through a prism, and with the right eye held the pencil in order to note the angle of observation" was by far nothing extraordinary. Many a playful student took advantage of the complete immersion of the good Director in his subject by mischievous pranks which still at this moment bring an involuntary smile to my lips. I recall in particular two cases, which afforded the entire class the greatest delight, without Professor August's having the slightest suspicion of the intentions of the miscreant. One fine day, a well known physics experiment-calculating the height of a point from the speed of descent of a falling body-was to be proved by a practical demonstration. The seniors climbed to the floor of the fourth story of the old building; the Director held in one hand a watch with a second hand, in the other a ball of lead. At a given moment, this was to be let fall into the depth between the stair landings and through its impact on the floor of the lowest story announce the moment of its arrival and thereby measure the speed of the fall. Three balls fell in succession out of the hand of the Director, without making an audible impact below.
This was thoroughly explainable, for the younger von Prillwitz had crept behind the nextlowest landing and caught the falling balls in his hat. The Director was struck with the greatest astonishment, for his eye was fixed on the second-hand, and he never found out which rascal had played a trick on him each time the experiment failed. The same senior, who later became an officer in the regiment of the garde-du-corps in Berlin, one fine day had to carry out a mathematical demonstration on a triangular figure, before the assembled forces and in the presence of the Director. He stepped up to the board, drew the required triangle with a piece of chalk on the black surface, and there ensued the following conversation:
Senior: "One may think of a triangle E-M-A" Director: "How strange! One uses the letters A-B-C" Senior: "I cannot do that, Herr Director."
Director: "Why not?" Senior: "Because I fondly love EMA!"
We all burst into Homeric laughter, for it was known that Director August had a charming daughter whose first name was Emma. The same senior succeeded in evoking enormous merriment when a worthy teacher, who was a native of Saxony and gave to the letter P the pronunciation of B, read aloud a German essay composed by the senior, literally teeming with P's and B's and the beginning of which I have never been able to forget. It ran: "From the Potsdamer Platz the public, burdened with post-packages, made a pilgrimage to the Botanical Garden between magnificent poplars placed in pairs." One can imagine what the effect was, when the worthy Saxon read to us in a loud voice the literary production of the promising student. "That is pure poetry!" retaliated the Senior, and a new outburst of merriment was the result of his impudent answer.
It is remarkable how contagious outstanding characteristics of some students exercise their influence upon an entire class. This was the case with my friend Hiltl, now dead, who enjoyed a well-deserved reputation in the public world as royal actor, national writer, and finally as artistic director of the weapon collection in the Zeughaus, the present Hall of Fame. While still a junior he assigned to the rest of us the parts of the chief characters in Schiller's plays, and during the intermission drama was performed with all the pathos of inspired actors. The conclusion regularly took the form of a postlude in which a medieval tournament served as the glorious climax. The stamping of the horses, i.e" of our own feet, was of thunderous effect, and thick clouds of dust swirled from floor to ceiling. An observation post stationed at the door took care of any unpleasant surprise on the part of the teachers.
Director August became in later life a dear, good friend to me, and a sincerely devoted patron, whom I loved above all and whose death filled me with deep sorrow.
My education at the Gymnasium was nearing its close. I sat in the aber-Prima, or upper first class, distinguished myself through earnest endeavor and through my diligence in studying and in my written work, and won the regard of all my teachers. Meanwhile I had not buried the battle-axe of my secret Egyptian decipherings. After completing the lessons for school I sat at the table until late after midnight with hieroglyphic and demotic inscriptions before me, in order to solve their riddles and to enrich my hand-written grammar of the old popular script through new discoveries. Passalacqua followed with most intense interest the course of my work, which appeared to him more than merely noteworthy. If I call to mind from this time two more persons, the present Geheirnrat Kunstman, whose cheerful humor and wit have lost nothing of Berlin salt from then until this day, and my own uncle Benecke, it is done to pay them herewith in my late years of life, the due tribute of the most heartfelt gratitude. Both were officials of the Royal Library in Berlin, and both gave their willing approval that the desired scientific works of greater and lesser range were to be handed over, without delay, to the young student for a time. I myself was not in the position to procure the mostly rare and costly books out of my own means, even though my longing for the possession of at least the more important ones grew from day to day, and I made every effort, out of the scanty groschen I saved, to acquire this or that book. I still remember vividly how my heart beat, when I succeeded in buying Champollion's world-famous work Precis du systeme hieroglyphique, and how I clasped my treasure to my breast and breathlessly hurried home, in order, so to speak, to devour its precious contents. Those were festive days, which have never in my life come back to me.
In the year 1847 something extraordinary happened for me. The library of Ideler, Jr., was to be sold at public auction following his death. The printed catalogue indicated a true wealth of works and treatises which touched upon my own science and seemed to me, at least for that time, of the highest worth. In conversation I revealed to my older friend Passalacqua my distress at seeing the spring flow before me, without being able to quench my burning thirst at its waters. "I know a way out," he interrupted me, after I had given him further information on the subject of my wishes. "Address a handwritten petition to His Majesty King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, to invoke in warm words his favor for you, whom I am proud to call my pupil, and to implore support for the purchase of works you desire.
His Majesty is enthusiastic for every success in the field of the science of Egyptian antiquity,-think of the sacrifices he made for Lepsius' expedition-and since the warmest heart beats in the bosom of the magnanimous Prince, I am firmly convinced that he will gladly grant your most humble petition. On my recommendation it should not fail." And thus it was done. The petition was delivered to the King, and with true excitement we awaited the answer.
A completely unexpected honor was to be granted me soon after that, the visit of Professor Lepsius, whose fame at that time filled not only Prussia, but the entire world. He had returned from his great journey for the investigation of the monuments in Egypt, Ethiopia and the Sinai Peninsula, and had justified in the most brilliant manner, the confidence of his high patrons, Alexander von Humboldt and Josias von Bunsen, who had recommended him and his aims to the favor of the science- and art-loving King. Every critic, as to the value at that time of successful studies, must be silent before the fact that his works surpass all productions in the same field that have hitherto appeared, and are distinguished by an unusual keenness of comprehension, by their clarity of presentation, and by their instructive content, undeterred even in the face of doubts. The plates of his celebrated great work on monuments, published at the same time and executed by the skillful hands of the two Weidenbach brothers, the draftsman Eirund and the architect Erbkam, furnish the most brilliant proof of the indisputable merits of the young professor. He had created a new epoch of the hitherto isolated Egyptology, and above all, had thereby contributed to letting the glory of the name of his royal patron shine in the brightest light. A favorable destiny had made him secure, through a rich marriage, against the troubles and cares of ordinary life, so that the early renown could be called fortunate in every way.
His house on Behrenstrasse, and later on Bendlerstrasse, was a place of pilgrimage for numerous foreigners who came to pay their respects to him. To his circle belonged everyone who bore a name of importance in politics, science, and art, and Lepsius himself appeared as the focus, who exerted an irresistible attraction for everything good and beautiful. If to that we add that his outward appearance, with the finely-chiseled face and intelligent features, which occasionally, however, betrayed a certain coldness and hardness, left a distinguished impression, we have exhausted what could be said of the outstanding personality of the famous man at that time. I was a silent admirer of his learned name, but any hope of ever enjoying his notice was far from me. The distance between the famous man and the Gymnasium student was too great. One will understand how startled I was, when Lepsius entered the modest room of the soldier's son and opened a conversation with me, which was more like an examination than an exchange of common thoughts. At his express wish, I laid before him the sheets of my demotic grammar, of which Passalacqua possessed a special transcript.
When I entered the Gymnasium the next day, I was summoned to my Director in order to report on my relations with Lepsius. The latter had inquired of him and the rest of the teaching staff about my diligence and ability and, in accordance with the truth, received a satisfactory answer. My Director expressed his astonishment that I had occupied myself with old Egyptian studies, and commended me in general, to be sure, yet without suppressing his silent doubt as to the value of my own studies. He advised me, therefore, first to put my final examinations behind me and later, at the University, to continue the work I had begun. Dejected, almost ashamed, I left the room of the good Director with the firm resolve to follow his fatherly advice and put the Egyptian studies completely on the shelf. I did not possess the requisite means for studying, and made the decision, according to my father's proposal, to enter the career of a subordinate official in a ministry, after having passed my final examination. My beautiful handwriting might be my best recommendation for my entire future. Even two corporals and an artillery gunner, whom my father named and who were well known to me, had recently entered a ministry on the basis of their good writing, and they had surely acted wisely. My father was a prophet, for today all three occupy the high position of Geheimrat, have an important voice in administration, and possess house and home and what one otherwise calls the good things of this world. I often have the opportunity to see and speak with them, to hear of their good fortune with all the interest of old recollections, and, in the stillness of my heart, to reproach myself for not having followed better the sincere advice of my dear father.
Some weeks passed, after the visit of Professor Lepsius, when suddenly one evening Director Passalacqua entered our apartment and, with every sign of the highest agitation, drew from his pocket an answer to his recommendation which had come to him from official quarters. Its content was indeed depressing. It stated in clear words that I was a very mediocre student at the Gymnasium, that I possessed more imagination than actual knowledge in the field of Egyptian research, which diverted my mind from everything really useful for me, and therefore had no hopes for future results, which at most could promise something under proper guidance. The refusal of the petition was therewith thoroughly well-founded, and finally the Director was advised to proceed with suitable caution in the future, in judging aspiring talents.
The blow had struck my house like a bomb, and put all of us into the greatest consternation. My honorable father in particular felt its shock, when he was given the well meant advice by his chief, the amiable Colonel, von Alvensleben, then commander of the bodyguard, later General and Equerry of the King, to keep an eye on my fingers a little, in spite of my beautiful handwriting, and sternly restrain me from presenting petitions to the person of the royal master. That was too much for his military heart, and after his return to the house, I was made to feel, through harsh reproaches, how deeply the official reprimand had cut into his flesh. Nevertheless, the affair was not to be broken off, for Passalacqua had sworn a solemn oath to make the heirs of wisdom pay for it, and the hot-blooded character of his nation came to the fullest eruption in his personality.
Alexander von Humboldt Becomes My Patron
Passalacqua betook himself to the Nestor of Science, the great Alexander von Humboldt, who rightly enjoyed a world reputation, and as the friend and adviser of King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, his magnanimous and noble-hearted Lord, enjoyed the highest respect imaginable, not only in Berlin, but in all the land and in the entire civilized world.
When the venerable old man, at that time going on eighty, In a black coat and white cravat, walked with slow step through the streets of the city, young and old, high and low, stopped at the approach of the dignified figure, to raise their hats in hearty respect. His person as well as his name were known to all, and one esteemed himself fortunate to have seen him, or perhaps even to be addressed by him.
His apartment was on Oranienburgerstrasse in the vicinity of the excellent Matzner School for Girls and opposite an apothecary. A memorial tablet is found today below the second story which he occupied alone, and in which he spent his last productive years until his death. His unadorned study, a small one-windowed room, layoff the court, on the far side of which was a small garden whose wall bordered on Johannisstrasse. From here a late stroller, even at three o'clock in the morning, could recognize the lighted window behind which the immortal scholar sat at a table, writing his Kosmos. Not until about four 0' clock was he accustomed to seek his bed in the tiny alcove in which he also gave up his spirit.
Passalacqua was well known to the great Alexander von Humboldt, for the latter had conducted the negotiations with him in Paris for the acquisition of his Egyptian museum for Berlin, and also after Passalacqua settled in Berlin he had remained in constant contact with the Nestor of Science.
He calmly explained to von Humboldt the subject of his bitter complaint, at the same time having before him, in the original, the official reply to his respectful petition to the King.
A. von Humboldt listened to him attentively, shook his head reluctantly, a pained expression playing about his lips, and after some reflection he replied to the excited man who was crying for justice: "I for my part also deplore what has happened and 1 have no doubt at all in the correctness of your assertion with regard to the talent of your protege, but prudence demands that we hear an impartial judgment also from another learned side.
This can be possible only if the young man publishes his demotic grammar, at my expense, of course. The criticism, which will not be lacking, as to the value or worthlessness of his discoveries will determine my further decisions." On the very next day, 1 received the invitation to present myself between twelve and one o'clock midday, the usual receiving-hour, at the house of the great man. My heart beat almost audibly, as 1 pulled the bell next to the great glass door on the second floor, and soon faced a powerful fifty-year-old man of Herculean appearance, who opened the door and asked what 1 wished. He was "the old Seiffert," faithful valet and former companion of Alexander von Humboldt on his last journey to the Urals and Siberia. 1 told him my name, and the unknown, shy student was at once led to the great man.
The venerable old man sat, as always, in a black coat and white cravat, before his table at the window, surrounded by books and open pasteboard boxes which contained his orderly references on Kosmos. His pen wrote in slanting strokes on the paper. At my entrance he arose, bade me take a seat on the simple sofa covered with green woolen material, and sat opposite me on a chair by the sofa-table overloaded with papers and books. I was embarrassed like one who was about to lose his head and stammered words of apology, but soon the ice of my innermost fear and anxiety melted before the old man's mild, friendly smiling features, which remained unforgettable to anyone who had been granted the good fortune, even only once, of being near him.
What he said to me were words of astonishment at my early scientific activity, questions about my parents and my Director, who was well known to him as a thorough physicist and finally the proposal to have my work printed at his expense. Today I can still give myself credit that I answered the scientific questions directed to me, insofar as they touched upon the written languages and history of Egypt, most intelligently and apparently to the satisfaction of the listener. He pressed my hand upon departure and invited me, as often as my time allowed, to visit him and to follow his good advice.
Happy as a king, I left the hallowed place in an inspired mood, to report to my parents on my reception and my impressions in the house of the incomparable. My depressed spirit felt lifted, my strength steeled, my entire being was transformed as if by magic.
On the next day I already went to work, in order to deliver my written grammar of the demotic script for printing. A setting in the type was naturally not to be thought of, since the individual characters of this script comprised an extraordinarily rich number, but, besides, many combined characters or ligatures, whose cutting and casting would have been both time-consuming and costly. I preferred, therefore, to publish the whole book, written in Latin, with the help of an offprint, and wrote my text with a specially prepared, but very sticky, greasy ink on paper which was covered with egg white and gave new difficulties to the writer.
My manuscript was finally transferred onto zinc plates, and from these the impression of each individual sheet was taken. The work proceeded happily, and after fourteen days of strenuous writing, in constant struggle with the mechanical hindrances mentioned, I saw my first opus completed. Introduced to the world by a hand-written preface by my honored Director August, with complimentary words for the young author, my book saw the light of literary publicity in January of the year 1848. It appeared under the title Scriptura Aegyptiorum demotica ex papyris et inscriptionibus explanata scrips it Henricus Brugsch, discipulus primae class is Gymnasii realis, quod Berolini floret in the Amelang bookshop (then located on Brliderstrasse). Coming directly before the final examination, I had finished it and, for my part, fulfilled the requirement of Alexander v. Humboldt in the shortest period of time. I awaited with suspense the scholarly judgment on my book in Germany and abroad, yet without feeling the slightest uneasiness as to its fate, for I had the comforting sensation of being sure of my subject.
In England it had at last been Doctor Hinks who had occasionally given his attention to the demotic script; in France, on the other hand, the Paris Academician and Colonel of Artillery, de Saulcy, had just in the last few years made it the subject of his most zealous investigation, and, in a short time before the appearance of my little work, had deciphered a demotic inscription in his own way and had published his results on it. After I had come into possession of his work through Humboldt's kindness, I was able to convince myself, in a short time, that his decipherment rested on a completely erroneous foundation. I expressed my contrary opinion in one place in my grammar, but not without submitting the outline of my opinion beforehand to my renowned patron. "For heaven's sake!" he exclaimed smiling, "Do not commit the folly, as a Gymnasium student, of speaking the truth even if deserved to a French Academician. On the contrary, make use of the favorable opportunity of dedicating some flattering words to him, in spite of your differing opinion, somewhat in the sense that, even though you cannot declare yourself in agreement with his rendering, nevertheless you would have reached your own results only through the application of his methode raisonnee. You will have nothing to lose by this, and will gain in de Saulcy a warm friend and patron who can be very useful to you in Paris." I followed Humboldt's wise counsel and replaced the relevant passage by a clever sentence which ended with the words, that the deciphering of the demotic script was so difficult on account of the striking similarity of the most different characters, that among all the scholars who had hitherto occupied themselves with demotic studies, the palm belonged without doubt to the ingenious de Saulcy.
How well I had done, to take this way out, was proved to me by the first reception which the learned Colonel of Artillery gave me a few months later, after my arrival in Paris. With a written recommendation of Humboldt in my hand, I presented myself at that time to the French demotic scholar. He was sitting in military uniform on a chair in front of the carved fireplace, surrounded by several young French officers who had served with him in the campaigns in Algiers. I stood erect before him. Hardly had he read the first words of the letter, when he suddenly sprang up, kissed and embraced me impetuously, grasped my right hand and presented me to his officers with the words: "Take a good look at this young man here! No one has ever beaten me on the battlefield of Africa, but this urchin has vanquished me nicely in my demotic campaign." I subsequently owed to his ardent recommendations the warmest acceptance in the circle of the scholarly world of Paris, and his friendly sentiments toward me lasted a lifetime.
The appearance of my modest book was greeted abroad above all with genuine delight and numerous letters of famous scholars reached me to congratulate me on my success. The greatest triumph for me however was a critical discussion of my book from the pen of the French Academician and State Councillor Vicomte Emmanuel de Rouge, who a few years before had turned his entire attention to the study of the ancient Egyptian world and its monuments. His first works in the field of deciphering hieroglyphic and hieratic scripts already proved the extraordinary acuteness of the subsequent master, who was called to establish a new fruitful epoch of Egyptology in France. For after the death of Champollion the Younger this science remained forsaken and abandoned. To be sure, C. Lenormant took the professorial chair vacated by the discoverer of hieroglyphic decipherment but without bringing even one step further the investigation of what was still unknown.
Vicomte E. de Rouge's treatise, which examined closely my just-published demotic grammar, was reprinted in the Revue Archeologie, and its contents were read by von Humboldt with the greatest pleasure. On the very same day, he read it before his royal master and friend, and one can easily imagine the effect it produced. I received the most striking proof of the King's favor, for out of his private funds were to be paid the expenses during my three-year studies at the Berlin University, in order to relieve me of the heavy anxieties for my future, and thereby to facilitate my demotic researches in every way.
As a result of my strict soldierly upbringing at home, my entire nature was affected by an uneasy shyness, which throughout my life I was able to suppress only with difficulty, in the company of higher placed persons. I observed, not only in my later years, that a distinction exists in the world between the great and the little, and that to come from parents who are eminent and distinguished through their position or their wealth provides the best recommendation for the fate of the sons and daughters of the house. Heredity in the social system has the fullest validity even today, and from my own life experience, I can only confirm Humboldt's occasional assertion that the iron ring of the Mandarins cannot be penetrated with impunity by a homo novus. Nevertheless, in the great public I had won a host of friends who came forward honestly, even for the homo novus, and opened to him the doors of their houses and hearts. The then Mayor of Berlin, Doctor Naunyn, the Chief of Police, von Minutoli, with whom I later went to Persia, the worthy and learned Doctor Parthey, owner of the Nicolai bookshop on Briiderstrasse and member of the Academy of Sciences in Berlin, General von Alvensleben, under whose command my father led the bodyguard, and other well known personalities offered the young student their protection and support, and I was honored with invitations, as if I had become a Somebody for Berlin and its environs. I sought to overcome my shy nature as much as possible and, all dressed up by my mother, went to the most glittering parties.
The month of March of the year 1848 had come and the final examination started. The written works were carried out in customary seclusion, and the week for the oral test had begun. Unfortunately, the public peace in the bordering streets did not help to fix the attention and the inspired mood of the young candidates in suitable measure, for the squares and lanes in the neighborhood of the royal palace, as far as the Linden, were filled with numerous groups of people who were talking with one another in the most excited fashion, expressing their discontent with loud words. Berlin was politically aroused, since the latest news from Paris had announced the overthrow of the King of the French, Louis Philippe, as the result of a revolutionary uprising, and the transformation of the monarchy into a republic. The good Berliners, who were accustomed to praise peace as the first obligation of the burgher, were carried away to a frightening degree by the stormy movement which swept through all Europe like an evil spirit, and they found in the present time of dearth and general distress the nearest excuse to give a highly disturbing expression to their discontent. Cavalry patrols rode through the streets, drove away through their appearance alone the burghers and Bassermann figures crowding together, who dispersed in every direction amid loud howling and whistling. On my daily walks to the Gymnasium during examination week I was obliged to take the route through Breite or Briiderstrasse, and on my way was the involuntary witness of the most exciting scenes. Through all Berlin there prevailed a repressed mood, and everyone not taking part in the public movement had a foreboding that something out of the ordinary was going to happen.
A Final Examination with Obstacles
In the midst of this unrest the examination was completed, at which the generally loved school councillor Doctor Schultze, my later patron, was present in an official capacity. I, along with a few others, was released from the oral examination, but remained in the class as involuntary witness of the pearls of wisdom of the other candidates, among whom was also a later Minister of State. The examination could be called, on the whole, a mild and considerate one, "for they all came through," while the screaming and raging of the crowd in the street struck upon our ears, filling each one of us with dread and foreshadowing evil events. We were to learn, a few days after that, that particularly the square in front of the Gymnasium building, the Kolin Fishmarket, and Breitestrasse running into it, became the scene of bloody events which were enacted on and near the mighty barricade in front of d'Heureuse's confectionery.
In the parental home there was an oppressed mood. My father, with a grave air, gave orders for the event of his absence, tested his weapons, and in the evening took leave of his family, in order to set out on horseback at the head of his commandos, which were stabled nearby on the west side of the artillery barracks, and ride to the old royal palace.
The 18th of March dawned and the uprising was in full swing. On the opposite side of the Eberts Bridge, which began at the comer near our house, in whose second story was our apartment, stood the Russian battery, bright-green in color, which the Czar Nicholas in his time had presented to the King of Prussia. The gleaming barrels of the cannon had their mouths pointed directly at our house. At the other end of Artilleriestrasse, where it ran into Oranienburgerstrasse, there had been erected a wagon-fortress out of overturned I mail-coaches from the postal sheds located at the same place which the people occupied.
The alarm signals of the church bells, the thunder of the cannon, the rattle of gunfire, the wild shouting of many people, and in the evening the red flaming light of a gigantic fire with sparks scattering far and wide-it came from the burning of the artillery depot in the suburb of Oranienburg, later turned into the barracks of the Third Guard Regiment-all of that instilled terror and dread in the family, and anxious grief filled our hearts when we thought of the fate of our own father. The fact that the most bitter and serious situation is occasionally not without its funny side was true in our case also. A Dr. Siedler, who had befriended me, a true phenomenon in all that concerned the knowledge of the Roman language and literature, but a coward without equal, had fled to our apartment with the notion of finding the best protection in the lap of a military family. With trembling lips he begged my good mother to grant him a hiding place in a closet. He squeezed his body into it, let himself be closed in, and remained the entire night, lying in a crouching position in this odd asylum.
The striking hoofs of trotting horses on the pavement, and the clanking of sabers of the mounted cavalry drew me to a window on the street side of our apartment. At that moment I heard loud talking on the steps. I opened the door and found myself facing several people trying hard to drag some containers filled with sulfuric acid up to the top of the house. The apparent ringleader was a master dyer well known to me, who, because of the nearness of the Spree, carried on his business of dyeing and color-printing on cotton in the yard where we lived. He had conceived the frightful plan of pouring "oil" over the troops passing by in the street, and of using his apprentices to help him. I rushed back into the room, tore from the wall two unloaded pistols, booty from the French war, cocked the flintlocks, and placed myself with courage in the face of death, opposite the band. While I, with the pistols in both hands, threatened to shoot anyone who dared to take a single step upstairs, I saw to my greatest satisfaction how they, intimidated, left the containers on the floor in front of the door, and escaped as hastily as possible down the steps. A few seconds later the massed cavalry trotted past under our windows. What would have happened to us all, if the unfortunate dyer had carried out his intention? Since then I have felt a deep hatred against the originator of so disgraceful a plot, and he, on his part, guarded against ever meeting me again. Hardly half an hour later the military tread of about two thousand men resounded through the street along which the riders had passed, and my eye fell upon dark figures in working clothes who, provided with weapons and iron rods, marched in soldierly order and in deep silence on the road and across the wooden bridge. Only here and there sounded the call "Lights on!" in order to ask for the lighting of the windows. The Russian battery at the other end of the bridge remained silent, because the force to operate it was missing, and indeed to our good fortune. The comer house in which we lived would have been shot to the ground. We remained throughout the night awake in our clothes-for who could have thought of sleep?-and awaited with dread the break of day. The frightening uproar was silenced, and from every direction "Victory!" resounded through the streets. Toward 9 o'clock I left the house in order to gain information on the whereabouts of my father. first I went to the stables of the bodyguard, where one ought to know best, whether and when the troop might return. I spent about a hour in the place well-known to me, occupying my time in reading the tablets which were put up over every stall, for I myself had written them with liquid chalk on a black polished wood background. I let the names of Numa, Nero, Epaminondas, etc., their lineage, size, age, and whatever else belongs to a horse register pass before my eyes, but my thoughts were quite elsewhere, with my father, whose return I awaited with painful impatience.
Then the trampling of horses struck on my ear and I clearly heard the dear man's voice of command. "Halt! Ready to dismount! Down!" I rushed out. The grizzled riders had just set foot out of the stirrup and were on the point of grasping the bridle at the bit.
My father looked pale and as though suddenly aged. With the words: "Father, the people are victorious," spoken in a clearly audible voice in front of the gathered troop of riders, I stepped closer to him, when a resounding blow from his hand struck my right cheek. I received a lesson such as had probably never been imparted more forcibly. The recipient never later, even by a syllable, complained to the father about it, for the immediate punishment was well deserved, and he kissed the hand that had administered it to him so thoroughly.
The loyalty of a soldier is a golden thing, and nothing surpasses a faithful soldier heart. That I have been able to recognize so truly in my blessed father. I believe that no living contemporary any longer exists, to whom is known the following event which I may relate today in accordance with the full truth, as an actual proof of this loyalty.
The horses had been led into the stable, unsaddled, quickly rubbed down and fed. My father had a footstool brought by his men, and a barber summoned in the meantime received the order to remove completely, from the twenty-four men, the embellishment of their beards. He let himself be the first to be deprived of his beard. I stood timid and ashamed in a far comer, but clearly heard the following order from his lips: "The troops will go to their homes, put on civilian dress, and at three o'clock in the afternoon appear again here. To be sure, the order has been given, that the troops are to leave Berlin. I am determined to remain here, in order to serve my King as a loyal soldier, even in civilian dress. The Bodyguard belongs close to His Majesty, and we shall know, all together, how to fulfill this, our task. Everything further at three o'clock" In the antechamber of the King there appeared about 4 o'clock in the afternoon civilian guard at arms, which consisted of twenty-four men who changed their posts with punctual regularity. When the King stepped out of his rooms in order to address a friendly word to the individuals, my father sounded a loud "Present arms!" as order of command.
The King in astonishment stepped up to him, to ask his name and his situation in life. The explanation brought tears to the King's eyes, and he pressed my father's hand with the words: "Now I am at rest, for guards with greater loyalty I cannot wish for." In the meantime, down below in the great space near the winding staircase, in the second court of the palace, a dense crowd gathered. The happy civilian guard ate its sandwiches, drank wine and beer, while the Philistines, with great words, celebrated their victory in the fight for freedom in which only very few had risked life and limb.
I do not consider it my task to describe the March days, which were attended on the one side by pent-up fury and silent rage, and on the other by clear rejoicing and frenzied triumph. Opposition had come to a head from both directions, and collided, so that even in the bosom of the family serious friction arose between the individual members. In our own house, the strict father was a man of proven loyalty to the King, and no word could be expressed which was not in accord with his feelings. He was one of the first, therefore, of those who joined the "Treubund" founded at that time, and who wore on their hats, as an outward badge, the rosette of the black-and-white cockade, in place of the German colors.
To a wealthy aunt who was then making a long stay in our family and who praised in excessive terms the freedom won, but let slip indiscreet expressions on despotism and the military establishment, my father gave such a pithy answer, with the final words: "Then you had better sever yourself from my house!" that she packed her belongings most hastily and after a few hours drove off in a carriage. Not merely the aunt, but all her considerable property was irretrievably lost for us children.
On Sunday afternoon, March 19th, I betook myself to our old Gymnasium, to make inquiries about the fate of my Director, for the old Town Hall, situated on the Fish Market, along with D'Heureuse's Confectionery, had been exposed to the grape-shot of the artillery and the rain of infantry bullets from Breitestrasse, in order to prevent the defenders of a giant barricade from advancing on the palace. Both buildings were pitted as with bullets, and everywhere traces and pools of blood showed the devastating effects of the shooting.
In the City Hall itself deep grief prevailed in the apartment of the Director. On the 18th of March the people had broken into the high, strong building, had occupied the windows up to the garret, and opened uninterrupted fire on the soldiers. The previously described barricade was. no longer able to offer resistance to the pressure of the advancing troops, a part of the angered force broke into the house itself, rummaged through every corner, to give vent to its fury, and did not leave untouched even the apartment of the Director. He, with his war medals of 1813, 14, and 15 on his breast, faced the attacking soldiers. He received a blow across the face, the beds were pierced by bayonets, and a visitor of the Director who chanced to be present, a Herr v. Holzendorf, was arrested because of his full blond beard and led away in the company of soldiers. When a sudden movement of the arrested man looked like an attempt to escape, he was shot through the heart in the middle of the street. Lifeless, he sank down on the pavement. Shocking as the deed may seem in our present time, the bitterness which animated the troops on the one side, and on the other the so-called heroes of freedom, must serve as an excuse. There was no time for peaceful deliberation, and the innocent often had to suffer with the guilty. One simply did not dally long, and the "1 or thou" had become the watchword.
I remember a story which portrays very strikingly the situation at that time. It was told to me by an acquaintance who had served his year as volunteer in the second Regimental Guard, and already bore the rank of sergeant, when his company was ordered to the Linden, to take the barricade on Grosse Friedrichstrasse. The Kranzler house, standing next, was held by fighters, awaiting the advance of the troops. My friend was wing-leader, who had made the firm resolve not to shoot a fellow-citizen. "Only think," he concluded indignantly in a later report of his heroic deeds, "There I see a fellow at the corner window, aiming directly at me. Puff! He had his bullet right in the breast. Staggering back, he fell over. I had all at once been taught better advice; I held my opponent firmly in sight, in order to defend my own life. I or thou, but I'd rather it be thou."