My Life and My Travels by Heinrich Brugsch, 1894, Berlin

My Student Years, Chapter II


After my enrollment in the register of the royal Friedrich Wilhelm University of Berlin had taken place, there began for me the three-year period as student, with all the joys and pleasures which the lectures of famous teachers of the University, independent work in the quiet home, and the intercourse with congenial comrades usually offer the enthusiastic son of the Muses in so rich a measure.

The exciting agitation of the March days lay behind me. My arms I had delivered, according to instructions. The visit to political gatherings and the routine stop in beer halls were inherently detestable to me. A few younger and older friends - and among the latter I proudly number the still living philosopher of language, Professor Steinthal - afforded me the most beneficial impressions through their company, and contributed not a little to the education of the heart and to the broadening of my knowledge. Outside the University a large circle of patrons had been given to me, in whose families I was received and was able to form new acquaintances with intellectually congenial men. The ever-open house of the Wolff family formed at that time the center of a small but select world in which representatives of the sciences and arts, famous travellers and outstanding writers joined in a beautiful garland. The eldest son of the house, my former home teacher at Kolln, Professor Gustav Wolff, was a model of Greek learning and of outstanding importance in Sopyocles research. His warmest friendship remained with me until his death. In the same hospitable house at that time, I came to know the poet, F. Bodenstedt, and formed a bond of friendship with him which brightened our long joint lives up until his death. He had come to Berlin in 1847, shortly after his marriage with his charming young wife, the same one who at present wears the widow's veil. Through the publication of his Mirza Schaffy he, in a short time, captured the hearts of all by storm, but unfortunately his presence in our midst was not to be long, for a police order expelled him from the walls of Berlin. What his offense might have been, I cannot any longer say, but political considerations lay in the background. He was all in all a splendid person. Unfortunately, life's cares and worries spoiled for him the full pleasure of the existence which his childlike nature, full of the fragrance of roses and the breath of spring, had dreamed of in love for Edlitham.

Among the other guests of the house, there floats before my eyes even today the figure of a young man who bore the name Stamm, and whose gentle beauty shone like a bright full moon. Only the dark eyes, which seemed to pierce deep into the soul, glowed like the sun's fire. Endowed with riches, he lived in his house on the Tiergarten along with a brown-skinned native of Java, a man of astonishing size and bodily strength, who displayed all the characteristics of his exotic lineage. His face was broad, but not unhandsome, and his great black eyes sparkled like glowing coals. He spoke German fluently, besides showing great facility in all foreign languages, and was a man of outstanding cultivation.

Stamm and his Javanese friend were regarded as oddities in Berlin society, but were everywhere welcome guests. Their pure existence recoiled before everything conventional and commonplace. The two Dioscuri had set their hearts on founding a new religion which they shortly designated as the Religion of Action. Not pious words on the lips, but good deeds and benevolent service, or real compassion, was to form the epitome of the true religious person in this sinful world. Depressed at not having found the hoped-for approval in Berlin, but, on the contrary, having been the target of many a jesting remark, the two friends emigrated to England, in order first of all to attract attention through public lectures and win adherents for the new Religion of Action. The practical English gave them the well-meant advice, to make a beginning with themselves first of all. They did not let it be said twice, and completed the difficult study of the art of healing - medical help seemed to them the most suitable means of affirming the Religion of Action - passed the examination with honors and embarked for Mexico and later for Brazil, in order to erect hospitals at their own expense in the unhealthy regions visited by yellow fever, and themselves to provide medical help.

Doctor Stamm and his friend, who lost his life in America as a helper of mankind, had sacrificed their entire large fortune for the most noble purpose, without having found helpers and converts to the Religion of Action. Stamm later came back to Berlin impoverished, and I saw the forty-year-old man again, in a modest furnished apartment on Kronen Street. But what had become of him in the interval! In his features I read the deepest grief and sorrow. The disappointments which had come to him had broken his spirit, and he complained bitterly that the law prohibited his medical practice in Prussia, since he had received his degree in England. He wanted to try to pass the prescribed examination in Berlin.

Several years after that, I met him again by chance in Karlsbad. His outward appearance indicated to me the man who had fallen low. His conversation revealed in no way the former moralizing youth. He had deadened his despair through the use of hashish, and had finally become a complete Socialist. Of his later life, nothing has come to my ears. Perhaps a kind fate has saved him from a terrible end. He has not deserved such.

Another acquaintance, which I had the opportunity to make in the Wolff house, was that of a young, then only fifteen-year-old girl with reddish hair and an intelligent, pretty little face, who, through her sharp, witty remarks, put many a shy youth into the uttermost confusion. She was the lovely Helene, daughter of the Bavarian Ambassador von Donniges and a close relative of the house which I had the luck to frequent. She has lived through the most changeable fate and through her liaison with Lassalle for a long time made the world talk about her. At the World Exposition in Vienna I saw her appearing as an actress of moderate talent in a public theater.

My teachers of this University bore famous names, which I have only to cite, to indicate their importance: the philologists August Bockh, Bopp, Lachmann, Haupt, Heyse, the geographer Karl Ritter, the historian von Raumer, the philosophers Michelet, Trendelenburg, Steinthal (for comparative languages and Chinese). In the old Bockh, who maintained a friendly relationship with Alexander von Humboldt for many years, I had a special support, and had the honor to be in his house for almost a year when he, nearly blind, needed a scientific secretary. His Egyptian investigations on Manetho's lists of kings, on the year of Sirius and the festival of Isis from a chronological standpoint, frequently offered me the desired occasion, still as a student, to carry on scientific discussions with him, from which I gained the highest profit for my own knowledge. The clarity and certainty of his presentation, the acuteness of his judgments and conclusions, his fine, never-offending wit irresistibly held the listeners. At home he loved to smoke a cigar at his work, and when a new thought came to him, it regularly went out. Lighting it again was the outward sign that he had succeeded in the solution of a difficult question. A jurist who later achieved fame, Dr. Gneist, now Excellency von Gneist, was at that time, the suitor of the charming daughter of the classical Geheimrat. I had to good fortune to meet both of them frequently in the father's house.

When a recent American writer accorded me the honor, in a just-published work on Cleopatra's Needle, or the obelisk from Alexandria exhibited in New York, of referring to me as "the greatest living Egyptologist and disciple of Lepsius." I must explain, to my regret, that I can lay no claim to regard myself as pupil of the founder and promoter of Egyptology in Germany; and Lepsius himself seems not to have wished this; how would it have been otherwise possible, that on my first visit to one of his public lectures in the University, he ordered me, with a loud voice from the podium and in the presence of the other listeners, to leave his lecture. Deeply humiliated and unable to explain the grounds for so unusual a rejection, I of course, left the lecture hall immediately. I have been an autodidact person in my science, and if anyone deserves my thanks for lessons learned in the field of deciphering hieroglyphic and hieratic texts, it is solely the French Vicomte Emmanual de Rouge, Champollion's most worthy successor in the teaching of Egyptology, the same one who had passed so favorable a judgment on the demotic grammar of the senior from the old Kolln Gymnasium.


From my first visit on, I was an ever-welcome guest in the house of Alexander von Humboldt, for up until his death I was granted the enviable good fortune of being able to see the great scholar every week and to speak with him several times, gaining a rich profit from his good advice and his instructive conversation. My initial shyness in facing the hero and Nestor of Science yielded little by little to a courageous, even though respectful attitude, and I dared allow myself to express my open and honest opinion on new publications and works of Egyptological content.

The amiable old man followed my analyses with attentiveness, and a delicate smile played about his lips, when the occasion presented itself that a learned personality had committed some scientific blunder. Everything unscientific, superficial, uncritical, was extremely repugnant to him, and he could not find bitter words sharp enough to characterize a certain pseudo scholarship. He followed all the scientific and literary publications of any importance, not merely works on the natural sciences, read whole books and treatises, made hand-written notes in the margins or on the cover, answered the numerous incoming letters on the spot, and about midday received the scheduled visits. Toward four o'clock he went to the royal table in Sanscouci, Charlottenburg, or Berlin, to see the allotted time fly all too quickly in the liveliest conversation with his royal friend, the noble and unfortunate King Friedrich Wilhelm IV. And finally, toward seven o'clock, he returned to write on his Kosmos at his little work-table by the window until about three o'clock in the morning. He was economical with his time and regretted every lost moment. Susceptible to the impressions of nature, whose traces he pursued to the farthest reaches of the immeasurable universe, he regarded the theater or the concert as pleasures of a doubtful sort. He stayed far away from them and only a special invitation of the Court could induce him to give up his aversion and to appear in the King's Lodge. The representational arts of sculpture and painting he prized most highly, and considered it his duty to support young aspiring artists according to his means, and above all, as an eloquent Maecenas to recommend them to the benevolence of his royal master. In following this tendency he was a saving angel for all those to whom a cruel fate had denied the way to further unfolding of their talent in all spheres of learning and knowledge, and a few lines from his hand were like a magic formula which opened the most tightly closed entrances. Only with the clergy did he fundamentally disagree. While he himself had formed his own opinion on "the black frocks" he was condemned by them as an obdurate atheist, who in his Kosmos never once thought of the name of God. The great naturalist took his revenge for this in the salt of his wit, which he always knew how to scatter in the right place.

Alexander von Humboldt's essential nature could not be depicted more strikingly than by a French writer's following words, which concluded the description of the captivating charm of his conversation. "Once one has heard him, as he lets men and things pass by, one must realize at once that the famous and witty scholar, deep down, was the noblest nature that could ever be found, the most high-minded, unselfish and exalted character; that his life represented only a constant sacrifice of love for science; that in Berlin where he enjoyed the fullest confidence of his King whose Chamberlain he was, without ever wishing to be anything else, he brought his influence to bear in the noblest way, in favor of literature, the sciences, and the arts. In a word, it may be said that he possessed the secret of doing much good in all directions and of being generally loved, in spite of making fun of all the world."

von Humboldt showed himself the most bitter foe of boastful ignorance and hypocritical convictions, which fishes in muddy waters and flatters the great ones of the earth in unworthy adulation, in order to attain its own egotistical ends, even though by very devious ways. Truth and right shone as his shield of honor, and the struggle and striving for perfection on the battlefield of knowledge kept the then eighty-year-old in youthful freshness and liveliness. Charm of manner and noble perceptions seemed to him the first requisites of a man of honor. The small weaknesses in human nature he was glad to overlook, and regarded them as passing shadows across the bright mirror of a man favored by intellect and knowledge.

The times in which von Humboldt was writing the four volumes of his Kosmos in order, at the conclusion of the last one, to take leave of the world, were not conducive to fill him with happy hopes for the future. Men and things often provided him with the material to indulge in bitter and biting observations and to unburden his heavy heart in letters and words to his friends, for, as he once expressed it, to one's real friends one is obliged to speak only the candid truth. This statement has been twisted and argued from various sides but it had only the one meaning which he gave it, and indeed with fullest justification. For it presumed, as a matter of course, the discreet silence of those whom he believed he might consider his sincere friends. Could he have foreseen that his most intimate conversations and communications would one day be handed over by an unauthorized party for the sake of publicity, and indeed directly after his death, he would surely have guarded against setting foot across the threshold of the house of Varnhagen von Ense, who gleefully noted down accumulated Humboldtiana in his journal and kept a formal record of it. The aged author of the Kosmos whom the French, in competition with us Germans, made their countrymen on account of his French style and his intellectual affinity, held our expressive rich German mother tongue in the highest honor. All his efforts in the writing of his immortal work were directed to clothing his thoughts in the noblest form and in words of irreproachable perfection of expression, but which unfortunately, as he himself attested, were often too poor to paint the individual parts of the picture of nature, according to their appearance and impressions, with the desired completeness of language. Varnhagen von Ense, a man of taste in the mastery of the essence of the German language, was often called upon as adviser in difficult cases, in order to give the decisive vote in the choice of a phrase, just as Professor Buschmann, then Librarian at the Royal Library, "my pedant," as von Humboldt called him, fulfilled the task, for a yearly salary, of revising the printed sheets of the Kosmos. It was natural that the long years of friendly relations with Varnhagen seemed to von Humboldt to be one reason more, not to conceal his occasional ill-feeling and to tell him straight from the shoulder what was meant to be heard by the discreet friend alone.

I shall indicate in a single example the falsification of which the shameless editor of the Varnhagen journals was guilty when she, according to an alleged statement of Alexander von Humboldt, attributed to King Friedrich Wilhelm IV the proverb, "the scoundrel of State." In fact, the invention of this expression belongs to a peasant who, on the following occasion, shouted to his King and Lord with the most open frankness. The sovereign was returning from a drive one morning to his rooms in Sanscouci, when by the entrance a little peasant stood in the way with a petition in the form of a letter held high in his hand. The King asked what he wanted. It had to do with the requested repeal of an order according to which a street was to be laid through the middle of the peasant's field. When all complaints and written appeals had not helped at all, he turned to the highest authority. The King in his usual jovial manner answered, "Well, dear friend, I can do nothing there, for the whole thing concerns the State." Perplexed, the good man scratched his head, and from his lips came the words, "Yes Majesty, if only there were not this scoundrel of State." With a hearty laugh, the King told this little story to the members of his Court who happened to be present, among whom was Alexander von Humboldt, and repeated several times, "No, this scoundrel of State! It is too priceless!" One understands, by this sample, the way in which the most natural things in the world were distorted by the avaricious editor of the journals, in order to exercise a titillating attraction on the distant reader.

It would not occur to me in all my life, to hand over for printing the numerous, mostly jesting or sarcastic remarks of the great scholar, as I remember them still vividly today, for they were prompted by the moment, and expressed to me in the confidence that I would keep them for myself, least of all turn them over to publicity. Contemporary history would gain nothing thereby, and I myself would come to feel the justified reproach of belonging among the indiscreet.

Much more instructive and entertaining was it for me to hear from the eloquent lips of the aged prince of science about the course of his own studies and his relations with great contemporaries during his long life rich in experiences and works. He remembered with pleasure, for example, the time in his early years when he attended the great trade school in Frankfurt on the Main,* and instead of occupying himself with finance, had written his first treatise "Concerning the Basalts on the Rhine" in 1790. This had procured for him the good fortune of being named assessor of mines without an examination.


*Frankfurt on the Oder

Later he was transferred to the vicinity of Berlin, which he had formerly hated, in order to practice his mining activity in the Rudersdorf Limestone Mountains, which he knew thoroughly. He belonged, on the whole, to those men to whom fortune has been propitious, for he never had to pass an examination otherwise prescribed, and yet he had been promoted step by step.

Our great poet Schiller, with whom he had sometimes come in contact, he described to me as a simple, plain, and prosaic person who had made no special impression on him as an intellectual man. All the more intellectual, on the other hand, had been Frau von Wolzogen. Schiller was willing to try anything. Once in Rudolfstadt, von Humboldt remembered, he had "The Magic Flute" performed without music, and had taken part in it as an actor. It had made a laughable impression on von Humboldt.

Up until the death of the great scholar, which occurred at his house on May 6, 1859, his full favor was conferred on me, and hundreds of precious letters to me, from my student years to my period as private docent at the Berlin University, testify to the regard and friendship which I enjoyed in the steady increase of cordiality of expression on his part. He was the good genius who watched over me like an anxious father, guided my steps, secured for me the benevolence of the gracious King, made possible my first journeys to Paris, Leyden, Turin and Egypt through his mediation with the highest authority and facilitated my entry into foreign lands through the most forceful letters of recommendation. The name Alexander von Humboldt had the effect of a magic wand, for it opened door and gate to me, wherever I turned my steps, and gave me the honor, while still a student, of being received and treated as an equal by the most famous and highly placed men. I felt sure that my modest work on the demotic grammar would never, least of all in such early youth, have attracted such interest toward me, had not the letters of the incomparable von Huboldt smoothed for me the path to everything beautiful and good on the highest human levels. Even in the most remote foreign land I received answers and reports written by his hand, which praised and encouraged me and informed me about Egyptian affairs at home.

My first journey to Paris, which I entered upon as a student, and at the expense of King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, afforded me the most extraordinary impressions, as the metropolis on the Seine still offers them today, and which affected me all the more deeply, since I had never stepped out of the four walls of my parental abode, in order to make a long-lasting sojourn in strange lands and among foreign peoples. My heart pounded as I saw the Prussian black-and-white on the frontier posts disappear, no longer heard the sounds of my German mother tongue, and a French Sergeant-de-ville with a long, pointed moustache and the jutting tricorn on his head demanded my passport. In the restaurants in the main railway stations, with their shining, mirrored finery of the buffet and the courteous and adroit service, I saw, for the first time, the contrast between French elegance and German roughness, but yet I looked in vain for a German sandwich, to appease my groaning stomach. The dictionary in my head from the time of my French instruction at the Gymnasium did not even offer me the word for it. The good people who boarded the third-class carriage with me, and whose clothes betrayed a foreign element in another way, spoke a tongue completely unintelligible to me; I understood only one word in ten, and I am convinced that even this one I understood falsely. This one and that turned to me with some remark, and my invariable reply resounded as a long-drawn-out "Oui!" I was in despair and pictured to myself, with all the terrors of imagination, my entry into Paris and my presentation to the famous scholars of the Institute.


Alexander von Humboldt had provided me with a letter of recommendation to the owner of the small hotel in which he was accustomed to be living during his yearly stay of several months in Paris. It stood in the old Rue-Bonaparte, later renamed Rue-des-petits-Augustins, close to the long quay on whose stone balustrades itinerant antiquarians used to lay out their paper treasures during the day in order to entice poor students, curious literati, and professors on the lookout for rarities, to closer examination of the things offered. Not far from there, in front of the Pont-neuf with its equestrian statue of Louis XIV, rose the building of the Institute, the sanctuary of French learning, with its famous library and the halls for the sessions of the French Academy in the rear.

Herr Bieler, the proprietor of the small, modest hotel, a worthy Swiss who was completely fluent in French as well as German, received me in the most obliging way on my arrival, read with delight the note directed to him by "Monsieur le Baron," and lodged me and the friend who travelled with me in two small, but clean rooms in the mezzanine. I have made no mention of my travelling companion up to now, for the very simple reason that, during the entire ride from Berlin to Paris he had not exchanged a single word with me. John Fisher, son of a rich boot manufacturer for the English army, with his residence in London, was a strange brother student in accord with the English way, who had settled in Berlin in order to devote himself thoroughly and with ardent effort to the philosophy of Herbart. But nonetheless he was a good fellow, whom I liked with all my heart and who possessed only the one national failing, that he was at times attacked by melancholy, and in such a state did the most incredible things. To these belonged his extended silence, which lasted for days, until he again became talkative and joined the conversation in the liveliest way. When, one day before my departure, I informed him of my intention to go to Paris for six months to carry on Egyptian studies, he said simply, "I'll go with you, pick me up tomorrow evening at nine o'clock." He lived on Unter den Linden in the house well known to all old Berliners as that of the optician Petitpierre, where today there is a fine restaurant on the corner of Charlottenstrasse. Petitpierre provided the barometer and thermometer-stand for all Berlin, and nobody passed by without examining the mercury columns displayed in the broad shop window, just as nobody on the opposite side of the Linden could pass without comparing the standard clock, the "academic time" for Berlin, with the time of his own pocket watch.

On my arrival at the designated house, punctually at nine o'clock in the evening of the next day, my cab was prevented by an obstacle from stopping directly in front of the gate. It was a freight wagon, loaded with great wooden boxes and cases, probably twelve to fifteen in number, which contained John Fisher's complete library, the other travelling equipment, and two chests with about a hundred pairs of English army boots studded with nails. My British colleague possessed the ample means to lead a noble student life and to appear in elegant clothes, but in the case of boots he did not let himself be dissuaded from following the advice of his wise and thrifty father.

I found him ready to go and we boarded the third-class carriage in order to travel the long, at that time almost forty-hour trip, in bitter cold, on the route through Cologne. As I said, he had remained dumb as a fish during our entire journey, and only on the second day of our Paris sojourn did his frozen tongue again thaw out.

I anticipate the sad story of his death, for after the course of about twenty years, he died a suicide in the same room which he occupied then, in the year 1848. Paris seemed to exert a special power of attraction on him. English friends of his led him astray into the notorious Jockey Club, and he squandered his paternal fortune. Later he studied medicine, went as ship's doctor to Australia, and happily came back, to choose the Bieler Hotel in Paris for his lodgings. For days he busied himself in his room, sharpening a dozen razors on a whetstone, until the hotel people found him with his throat cut, lying in his blood in the corner of a sofa. The lively activity in Paris at first bewildered my senses, and I hardly found the necessary calm and leisure to describe, even in the briefest form, in my letters to my parents, the thousand-fold impressions rushing in upon me. The mighty metropolis seemed to me to be a world in itself. There was a surge and flow like a raging sea, across the squares and through the streets and along the quays, from one end of the giant body to the other. On the boulevards, so I thought at the time, one was not sure of his life, and I felt like a lost grain of sand in the moving crowd which made its way along them, or idled in the elegant cafes on pretty chairs or small divans at the round marble tables and viewed with a lorgnette for a longer or shorter period the compatriots skipping past with daintily lifted petticoats and pretty shoes on their little feet. A flood of newspapers and pamphlets was offered for sale in the booths or on the street; one was living in the year '48 and under the President of the Republic Louis Napoleon, and politics dominated the public life of the streets. I admired the monuments from the time of the historical past of France. The churches and monumental buildings, the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Louvre and Palais Royal, the City Hall, the Palace of Justice, and whatever the stone sights worth seeing were called, attracted my curiosity and made me roam through the great city from one end to the other. Even the narrow alleys in the neighborhood of the Palace of Justice, which Eugene Sue had described with such vivid perception in his Geheimnisse von Paris, at that time read and much admired by everyone, did not frighten me away from a visit, despite their filth and their sinister inhabitants. I stole through the narrow maze of houses, in which the sewer with its foul-smelling moist contents traced its course in the middle of the pavement. I thought I might meet a "Marienblume," or be able to see face to face the droll cobbler Pipelet in the porter's booth with the little "what is that" window. But I was soon disappointed, for the bitterest misery and the most sinister figures confronted me and from every corner there was a call to me "stay away!" in mute language. Today the alleys have disappeared, for this hiding place of the old Paris with its rabble has long been done away with, and only the novel has preserved its memory. In the vicinity of the Luxembourg Gardens I also paid a visit to the notorious Chaumiere, which later vanished from the city. I saw merry students performing indescribable dances with wild grisettes, and in the one visit I had enough for all time. But I saw what had seemed to me unbelievable according to reports and printed pictures, and on my return I could tell about it.

My boundless curiosity was completely satisfied in the first week of my Paris sojourn. I had begun to fit into the new conditions, to become accustomed to the sound of the Paresien speech and to understand tolerably the quickly spoken word. I had learned to know the cheap restaurants and, all in all, had begun to prepare myself for my entry into the world of the great minds. If I had gained the conviction, through even a superficial comparison, that my beloved Berlin was really only a village beside Paris when I considered the life on the street and the moving crowd, my judgment found renewed confirmation in a still higher degree in the Paris salon. The differences between here and there seemed to me colossal. The Academicians, in whose works and intellectual activities France placed just pride, for the entire nation honored them as the teachers of all the rest of mankind, overwhelmed me with kind invitations and opened to me the treasures of their knowledge and of their rich collections, with the expression of their friendliest feelings. There was the venerable old Jomard, at that time still living, the last surviving member of the scientific commission which, at the end of the past century, had accompanied the military expedition of the great Napoleon to Egypt. There was the famous Hellenist and Director of the Bibliotheque Nationale on the Rue Richelieu, "le pere Hase," as the French called my German compatriot who had become a French citizen, and his younger colleague M. Eggers, occupied with the publication of the literary legacy of Letronne. Then there were also the Egyptologist Vicomte E. de Rouge and his colleague C. Lenormant, the latest demotic scholar de Saulcy, at the time Colonel in the army and Director of the Artillery Museum, the sagacious numismatist Longperier, the editor of the Shah-Namah of Firdusi, Jules Mohl, the two Amperes, the famous astronomer Biot, and many other members of the Institute. All of them received me, the shy young student from Berlin, like an honored friend and older acquaintance, and I, deeply ashamed, felt the difficulty of a situation for which I had been born, and which to maintain with my dignity I seemed to lack the strength and the spirit, and, not least, the requisite knowledge of men.

I took part regularly in the sessions of the Academy, and listened with the greatest pleasure to the lectures and discussions on learned subjects. The kings of science sat at a long, green table in the middle of a vast hall on the rear court of the Institute, and everyone was granted admittance, in order to admire the great intellectuals of France in person. When the session came to an end, they withdrew to the conference rooms and sat in groups before the heated fire-places, in order to carry on private conversations, debate questions of the day, or to throw light on new discoveries in scientific fields with French vivacity. In all conversations the most courteous forms were maintained and even irony was clothed in the finest turns of phrase. The militarily schooled Colonel and Academician de Saulcy struck a rougher tone, but the immortals smiled at his funny sallies and received his strongest expressions - I remember his "je vous en defie" at a public session - with outbreaks of general merriment. I felt warmed and uplifted, and cherished in the meantime only the one wish, to obtain the good opinion of the French teachers for myself, through new discoveries, and to prove myself worthy of the numerous recommendations of my unforgettable patron. The opportunity for this was not to be lacking, after, by spending all the time at my disposal, I had most industriously examined the rich Egyptian collections of the Louvre and the Bibliotheque Nationale, in which there was, above all, a true treasure of hieratic and demotic papyri, and had taken as many transcripts of them as possible. Through the unexpected discovery of the Greek translation of a long demotic document, preserved in the Berlin Museum, and through the finding of the demotic translation of the extensive 125th Chapter of the hieroglyphic so-called Book of the Dead in a Paris papyrus, I had the luck to have discovered two double-language inscriptions of wide-ranging importance, and to have brought to my stepchild of a science an unsuspected enrichment. Vicomte E. de Rouge, who at that time as Honorary Director was occupied in compiling an ingenious as well as learned catalogue of the ancient Egyptian collections of the Louvre, embraced me, quite delighted with my find, and the gentlemen Academicians clasped my hands at my successful performance as soon after my arrival in Paris. "Voyex ce gredin de Brugsch, il nous plante nous tous!"* exclaimed de Saulcy in his jovial way, during a public session in the Institute. After the many humiliations and disappointments to which I had been exposed in Berlin on the part of many among those who prided themselves on being guardians and benefactors of science, my acceptance in Paris had


*Look at this scoundrel of a Brugsch, he is supplanting us all!"

the effect of a cordial welcome, and my creative desire grew in proportion, as I most zealously made use of every opportunity to prove myself worthy of the benevolence of my magnanimous King and his friend Alexander von Humboldt, through my performance in Paris. I was active from early morning until evening, lived frugally in order to prolong my stay in the metropolis as long as I could, and finally went back to Berlin in order to evaluate my discovered treasures in quiet retreat, and to continue my University studies with all ardor. I did not go to bed before two o'clock in the morning regularly, even though my physical strength suffered ominously thereby, and I belonged to the number of pale, thin striplings. My thirst for knowledge was certainly unlimited, and the idea that almost everywhere I set foot for the first time as pathfinder in unknown territory lent me that enthusiasm which only he who has ever found himself in a similar situation can comprehend. My circle was restricted to a few friends, among whom, of contemporaries still living, I rank first the sculptor L. Sussmann, the two Begas, sculptor and painter, and Dr. Steinthal. With Paul Heyse I had contact almost daily, since we two used to sit beside one another as good neighbors in the course of lectures by his distinguished father. His almost girlish beauty made a deep impression on me at that time, and yet I was never in my life to be offered the opportunity to see him face to face again. Of course, I spent long years in Egypt, while he, the fortunate one, mounted the ladder of fame in his career as poet.


After my return to Berlin, I found my old friend and patron, Passalacqua, once more at the peak of ill humor. His vexation that his plans for the arrangement and exhibition of the Egyptian collection entrusted to his care, in the just completed new museum, had remained disregarded by the higher authorities, led him to present an official complaint, consisting of no less than 270 handwritten sheets, against the General Director at that time, Herr von Olfers, and Professor Lepsius. The much-occupied author of the Kosmos declined to read the extensive opus which was sent to him, or to concern himself at all with the ticklish affair. Jupiter tonans raged, but his lightning bolt fell into the water. His secret resentment fell upon myself, since I decidedly refused to launch scientific attacks against Lepsius. On the contrary, on Humboldt's wise counsel, expressed verbally and in writing, I was bearing it in mind to arouse a more friendly disposition of the official scholar toward me in the future. Passalacqua had once played me off as a trump card in the deplorable affair, and had beaten the noisy tom-tom in all the society circles of Berlin; a second time the simplest common sense advised me not to let myself be misused as means for other purposes. I felt I had learned sufficient shrewdness, and resisted all temptations that came my way. A mysterious never-explained piece of gossip contributed chiefly to warning me in time. M. de Saulcy, during a stay in Frankfurt, A. M., was said to have expressed disapproval of Alexander von Humboldt and my humble self, and to have said he wanted to come to Berlin to call us to account (for what?). My great patron preferred to address an open enquiry to him. The reply to it is repeated in substance in the following note to me:

"I hasten to tell you that in a letter of 19 October, already in answer to my remonstrances, M. de Saulcy announces in the most amiable way that he was in the Pyrenees, and had not thought of coming to Berlin now; that he had just learned, 'according to foreign books, that a man was travelling in Mainz under his name!' Since the letter contains the greatest praises of you (M. Brugsch est un jeune homme du plus brilliant avenir, entre ses mains, je vous l'affirme, la philologie egyptienne fera des progres admirables. II a debute par un coup de maitre et certess II ne s'arretera pas en aussi beau chemin)* I want to show it to the King (before I send this to you). I would not inform you of this eulogy, if your conduct did not give me the certainty of your being able to endure early praise, and so vividly expressed. For others than you, my dear Brugsch, it would be corrupting. A. v. Humboldt Wednesday."

My Paris journey lay long since behind me, when my wish was fulfilled, also through royal generosity, to be able to visit the rich museums in Leyden and Turin, in order to search for demotic treasures in their famous collections, but at the same time, to turn my whole attention to the hieroglyphic grammar and its supply of words. In the course of my own researches, my conviction had grown, that Champollion's immortal works, still in the form published after his death by rather unskilled hands, no longer sufficed, to gain from ancient Egyptian texts their true, philologically based understanding. The great master had brought the first light into thousands-years' darkness, but it was like the weak morning red which, with its dawning glow, can only faintly illuminate the domain to be conquered in the future. The enormous material available from the times of the furiously-writing ancient Egyptians had to be sifted, the more recent and latest separated from the older and oldest, and the distinctions of the individual script characters and of the spoken expressions must be strictly separated from the grammatical ones. The development of the script characters themselves, up to the most current demotic, must be established by examples in the course of a more than 3000 year existence of old Egyptian literature from century to century, and likewise the development of the language up to modern Coptic must be followed with all necessary thoroughness, in the grammatical and lexicographical structure of words. All that was a gigantic task, at whose solution the present generation is still working today. Even the Coptic language, whose word-supply in the known lexicon of the learned Italian, Abbe Amadeo Peyron, was still far from exhausted or was, from today's scientific standpoint, insufficiently treated, needed a complete working over and required the most penetrating investigation. In a word, everything else still remained to be done, in order to give pattern and form


*M. Brugsch is a young man with the most brilliant future. In his hands, I assure you, Egyptian philology will make admirable progress. He has with a master stroke, and surely he will not stop on so fine a road. to the heaped-up rough blocks, for the erection of a mighty edifice whose foundations the master had only fleetingly sketched in his basic plan.

The idea hovered before me, first of all to compile the vocabulary in alphabetical order, to convince myself of the meaning of the words found, through distinct examples, and thus to create for myself and my successors a firm basis for our studies. In Holland this idea came to fruition, and I began a work which was turned over to publication in the years 1868 to 1880, my seven-volume Hieroglyphic - Demotic Dictionary. This has nowadays become the common property of science, for, as I am assured, it forms the much-used source of all ancient Egyptian decipherment.

My journey to Holland, due to my modest means, was naturally by third- class on the railroad and by post. Via Wesel and Amsterdam I happily reached Leyden. It gave me an extraordinary fascination to make my way along in the broad, flat country crisscrossed by straight canals, but everywhere well cultivated and covered with clean, brightly painted villages and settlements, and to sit in the most peculiar railway coaches along with equally clean and honest fellow travellers of Dutch origin. The third-class carriage at that time was without windows, and as in our Berlin horse-cars in the summer season, colorless cloth curtains on all four sides of the coach served as the only protection against sunshine and pouring rain. I did not get far with the language, since except for "Myn Her," I understood next to nothing, and during my short stay in the Dutch Venice, the old mercantile city of Amsterdam, my astonishment at discovering the presence of so many "cantors," on the polished plates on the black-painted house doors, only subsided after the meaning of the Dutch "cantor" had been explained to me in the sense of the French comptoir." My entry into Leyden, the university city of the Netherlands, took place early in the morning in heavy rainy weather. A troop of soldiers marched in rank and file past me. Officers and men had open umbrellas, unable to guess how much such a sight amused me, the soldier's son. But the Hollanders seemed to me to be extraordinarily practical people, who troubled themselves little about externals. That, as I later found frequent occasion to observe, the maidservants carefully cleaned the half-paved streets and the stone steps up to the house doors with brushes and water and actually laundered them, finally no longer astonished me at all. Everything, even to the shining windowpanes, had to appear sparkling clean, and when I later wandered through the dirty Egyptian villages of the Pellahs, I almost always thought, with secret longing, of the Dutch cleanliness.

I had the pleasure of knowing personally, for the first time, the honored Director of the Egyptian collections of the Museum in Leyden, Doctor Leemans, and of learning to esteem in him, the publisher of the monuments of his more than rich treasure, a man as learned as he was outstanding as a critic. After a short acquaintance, he invited me into his hospitable house, and there, as well as in the homes of all the other acquaintances who honored me with invitations, I had the opportunity to admire the sterling quality and cordiality of Dutch family life. No evening went by that did not find the father of the house united with his family, and the singing or the music of the sons and daughters embellished the hours in the most pleasant way. The young Dutch girl seemed to me like the model of fresh young cheerfulness. Her open, honest nature, far from any affectation or mannerism, the charming smile on her fresh, pretty face, left an irresistible impression and delighted me in the highest degree. In the house of Professor Juynboll, I would have lost my heart by a hair's breadth, if she had only wanted me. Also the student life, as it is in Leyden outwardly patterned after English club life, captivated my attention. Comradeship formed the keynote, and the community life in the stately rooms of the students' own building did not fail to make an impression. Of course, in my opinion, only sons of rich parents could partake of the privileges of such a grand home, for the costs of maintenance must have been quite considerable.

The days in the Leyden Museum and the evenings in the house of my Dutch host flowed by like minutes, and I was astonished myself, when the hour of departure approached. But six full weeks had passed since my arrival, and in the fullness of my scientific harvest I saw best that I had made good use of my month and a half. In the excellent Doctor Leemans I had won an ever helpful friend for life, with whom I remained thenceforth in correspondence for many years, and to whose wise counsels I always listened. He still today enjoys a happy existence on earth, even though his age has advanced into the eighties.

I left Dutch territory with all wishes of blessing for its hospitable places, and could hardly wait for the time of my return to Berlin, in order to examine my scientific yield and finally to present to my high patron, A. von Humboldt, a written report which would include one result of my Leyden studies. This had to do with the Ancients' acquaintance with hypnotism (at least as early as the second century) and its explanation through magic charlatanism, based upon the so-called "Gnostic Papyri," written in demotic, in the Leyden Museum. I later expanded my work insofar as it related to demotic findings in Holland, through the proof that Aesop's fables without a doubt bear every sign of an Egyptian-Ethiopian origin.


My third journey into demotic foreign lands - Humboldt called even the street on which I first lived the "demotic" Artillery Street - took a southerly direction, to "la bella Italia." With barely 150 thalers in my pocket, I began my passage across the Alps, in order to reach the capital of the then kingdom of Piedmont and Savoy, and in the famous Egyptian collections of the Museum of Turin to reap new demotic harvests. The journey was long and difficult. Instead of the expensive express train, I chose the ordinary cheap train which goes from Berlin in the direction through Frankfurt a.M., on the east bank of the Rhine, first to Basel. For reasons of economy I had resolved to keep completely away from hotels on the whole journey to Turin - in other words, day and night, through a full week, not to get out of the train. It was a hard task which I was attempting to carry through with every expenditure of my not excessively great strength. Already in Basel, which I reached in the evening, the situation did not seem to me quite right, but the world belongs to the courageous. I climbed into the box-shaped belly of an old post coach, in the company of some sturdy sons of free Switzerland who spoke a frightful German and who suffocated the confined space with a pestilential-smelling tobacco from short, glowing pipes. The postilion merrily blew his horn, the four-in-hand began to pull, and with a heavy din the vehicle rattled through the narrow, rough lanes of the city.

I no longer know today who had given me the odd advice to make my way through Basel, in order to reach the St. Gotthard and, descending from Arona, to strike the rather level road to Turin. Perhaps the amiable counselor had it in mind to offer me the opportunity to admire the extraordinary natural beauties of alpine Switzerland. If I had a presentiment of the of the difficulties of travel at that time on this route, I would cheerfully have taken another, perhaps a more direct road, and would have renounced with the sight of even the grandest pictures of nature. At that time, there were still no railroads in Switzerland, and a clumsy, antediluvian post-cart provided the connection from town to town. Furthermore, among the free folk, there was a lack of nourishment and drink at cheap prices for travelers, and I have a strong suspicion that the trusty postillons had entered into secret pacts with innkeepers at the main stations of the road - pacts whose point was aimed at the sacrificial lamb in the belly of the post coach. When one had extricated himself, that is, from the torture chamber, after previously having been duly jolted and shaken, in order to get a meal at the table of the cafe, everything had to be ordered a la carte. One paid for the order beforehand, so as not to lost unnecessary time later. After the host had pocketed his good money, a long time passed until a hot, steaming soup appeared on the table. One ate the boiling broth with all precaution against involuntarily scalding the inside of one's mouth. After that, there was an intermission. Finally, the sight of a glowing roast called for an energetic assault; then, as upon agreement, the postillon blew his horn, one was obliged to hurry out, and inside the post-coach to reflect whether the man was not a common beast of prey, who used every trick and device to fleece his victim. Never in my life have I felt such hunger, as on that miserable journey through Switzerland. I had sworn, since then never in my life to touch Switzerland again, and I have indeed kept my oath to this hour.

What am I to tell about that which has been depicted thousands of times, and better than my weak pen would be in a position to describe? We drove to Lucerne; I saw the steep Pilatus lying before me, as though I needed only to stretch out my hand, in order to touch it. I boarded ship on the Lake of Lucerne and debarked at the other end, near Fluelen. A new torture-box took me in, and up it went to the snow-covered St. Gotthard, and past the hospice there down toward the South. Upon arrival at the north point of Lake Maggiore, I took a steamer once more, admired with a sidelong glance the picturesque shore and the mountainous surroundings of this lake, finally reached the harbor of Arona, and there spent a miserable night in a wine-house in which vagabonds of bandit-like appearance seemed to regard me with lustful eyes. I became uneasy and wandered a few hours through lonely streets, to be barked at by dogs in the bright moonlight, or to meet unsteady drunkards who were babbling an Italian national song with hoarse voices. I gathered all my courage, went back to the wine shop, and slept away the last hours before the break of day on a narrow wooden bench which the host, who was just on the point of closing the shop, had willingly granted me in return for payment. Numb in every limb, I arose from my unhappy bed at the first beam of the rising sun of Italy, and with my modest piece of baggage in my hand, as always, set off for the post office I had been told about, where the opportunity for the drive to Turin was offered daily.

The post wagon was really only an omnibus with two wooden benches on the long sides of the vehicle, on which about sixteen persons could sit. Only a half-dozen Italians appeared as travelling companions, among them a priest in a hairy cowl, with whom I attempted to open a conversation. I spoke French, but the language of the modern Frenchman was completely unknown to him, as was Italian to me at that time. I had the sudden clever idea to choose Latin as a means of understanding, and seeing then that the monk knew how to reply, our conversation flowed like honey over our tongues. Whether it possessed a classic flavor, I cannot pass any sure judgment today, after so long a time has elapsed. In regard to the goal of my journey, the city of Turin, I permitted His Reverence to put a few questions to me which alluded to persons and were closely associated with my future acquaintances. I did not let it go unmentioned, that a recommendation of Alexander von Humboldt was at my disposal, which I expected to make a special effect. To my question, whether he knew this high personage at least by name, the delightful reply came from his lips: "The priest or bishop of this name is unfortunately unknown to me." I could almost have fallen off the bench; A. von Humboldt a bishop! We had set out in the early morning and in the evening we already drew into Turin. As far as could be perceived, the city, with its wide, well-paved streets, made an exceedingly clean, anything but Italian impression, for one could have believed that he was in any one of the larger royal residence-cities in German lands. Before a modest inn in a side street, the Albergo del Puzzo, we got off, and I moved into a tiny little room located on the court, and reached through the door of an iron passage. It was a kind of balcony room, paved with red tiles, unclean, chilly, uncomfortable, sparsely furnished, and without curtains over the tall rickety glass door. I had a frugal meal on the products of the South, that is, radishes along with green salad formed the essential ingredient, took off my clothes and lay down on a bed again for the first time in eight days.

I slept as badly as possible, and felt seriously ill. My bloated body seemed to have the hardness of stone, my forehead was burning hot, and when in the early morning I was awakened by the noisy activity of the boys in the court who were harnessing the post-horses to the omnibus, I got up from the hard bed, only to lie down again at once. Not until 3 o'clock in the afternoon did I gain enough power over myself, to dress and to attempt the walk to the nearby Museum.

Painfully and with difficulty, I asked the way to the place I had earlier so ardently longed for, and inquired, in the French language, of the old bearded doorman in a great uniform before the door, whether I was in the right place. He answered, to my greatest joy, in the most fluent French, invited me into his booth, to the left of the main entrance, and seemed to have the sincerest sympathy for my miserable state, for I looked pale as death, and the perspiration of distress stood out on my brow. At his remark that a session of the Academicians was just taking place upstairs, I drew the recommendation of Alexander v. Humboldt out ofmy pocket and handed it to him with the request that it be delivered to one of the gentlemen, in the hope of meeting a savior in my need. The letter was really an open sheet, on which my patron had written in clear script the following words:

"Je prie tous ceux que dans les belles Regions de l'Italie ont conserve queique souvenir de mon nom et de mes travaux, d'accueillir avec bienveillance le porteur de ces lignes, Mr. le Docteur Brugsch, mon compatriote, dont les recherches archeologiques inspirent un grand interet et qui est aussi distingue par son savoir que par la delicatesse de ses sentiments. Potsdam ce 6 Juillet 1851. Le Bn. de Humboldt."*

*(translation of Humboldt's letter)

"I pray that all those in the beautiful regions of Italy who have preserved some memory of my name and of my works will receive with kindness the bearer of these lines, Dr. Brugsch, my compatriot, whose archaeological researches inspire great interest, and who is as distinguished for his knowledge as for the delicacy of his sentiments. Potsdam, this 6th of July, 1851. Baron von Humboldt." I know very well, how little I deserved so flattering a distinction for my person, but the noble old man preferred to do rather too much than too little for his devoted friends, when it was a question of supporting them and introducing them to the great world. The stately old doorman, according to his affirmation a former Grenadier of the Guard of Napoleon Bonaparte who had remained behind in Turin because of wounds, had hardly left me, when I fell off my chair in a faint and lost all consciousness. I came to, only when I felt myself sprinkled with water. I opened my eyes and, to my astonishment, found myself surrounded by a large circle of dignified-looking gentlemen who inquired, full of sympathy, after my health and most willingly offered their help. A member of the medical department of the Academy instantly took over my treatment; he examined my body, felt my pulse, asked about this and that occurrence on my journey, and since I had not bee able to perform the most natural thing of all on such a long trip, it was recommended that I have a hot bath at once, and after that, I was advised to go to bed and await further action.

The "further action" took place iin my room punctually an hour later. A powerful hand knocked on the transparent glass door, and with the thought that it was the amiable Academy doctor coming to pay me a helpful visit, I turned toward the door with an audible "Entrez, Monsieur, s'il vous plait!" Who can describe my surprise, when a broadly built figure of a woman in her forties, with a fully developed black moustache on her upper lip, forced herself through the narrow door, greeted me in Italian, simply took the contents of a folded packet, and performed on me that procedure which anxious mothers not infrequently administer to their children. I felt deeply ashamed, but the exceedingly vigorous madame did not let it intimidate her, and the unavoidable happened. I was saved, even though deeply contrite. My antiquarian studies could still be started on the same afternoon.

In the rooms of the Museum, I had the pleasure of meeting the Abbe Amadeo Peyron, well-known to every Egyptologist as the author of a Coptic-Latin dictionary and editor of the Greek papyri of the Turin Museum. The learned old gentleman, with his mild and friendly features which by no means called to mind his spiritual position, greeted me with sincere pleasure and praised my work on the demotic with unfeigned warmth of expression. But I felt it like a stab in the heart, when he prefaced his words of praise with the following remark. "The younger Champollion," he said to me, "the so-called discoverer of the hieroglyphic decipherment, I knew well from the first visit he made to our Museum. I considered him a common swindler, and his works have subsequently strengthened my opinion. His philological productions have now remained an incomprehensible riddle to me. How differently has your demotic grammar impressed me...." I leave off repeating his further details, in order not to give the appearance that I wished to place myself in the undeserved foreground at the expense of the grossly misjudged great Frenchman, to whom alone I owe my own first knowledge. In spite of Peyron, he remains for all time the great Champollion.

My labors in the Egyptian Museum of Turin granted me the most unexpected pleasures, and I did not weary of eagerly plucking the proffered fruits. The then Director of this collection, the knowledgeable Italian scholar, Orcurti, opened for me, with the most amiable willingness even its most hidden treasures, but at the same time his whole heart also, for he suffered most distressingly through daily anxiety for the maintenance of his family on a yearly salary of 800 francs. I felt the strongest sympathy for his fate, yet without possessing the means myself to bring him help. The Academy lacked a sufficient endowment, and all my recommendations and efforts for the betterment of his situation were frustrated by the distressing question of money. The poor man died early, after he had fulfilled the last and most valuable service to the scientific world through the publication of a catalogue of the rich collections of the Museum. How often since then have I had to experience that talent by the grace of God in the struggle for existence came to a wretched end in a beggar's coat, while the pseudo-scholars and the lazy ones grew fat and attained rich livings on the path of nepotism! Since I am not writing a scientific book, I need not trouble the reader with descriptions, even of only the outstanding monuments which make Turin one of the greatest points of attraction for travelling scholars. I shall only remark incidentally, that among the demotic papyrus rolls are found the earliest examples of the use of the old Egyptian popular script in the form of dated contracts. They belong to the times of the Psammetic Pharaoh (about the 7th century B.C.), yet I was able to decipher hardly half their contents, for the script shows the first beginnings of its development from those hard-to-recognize forms of the hieratic characters, as they appear pertaining to that epoch.

In Turin I had made the acquaintance of an amiable German countryman, Baron Pirch, who at that time, occupied the position of legation councilor of the Prussian Embassy in Turin. To his friendly mediation, I owed many an introduction into distinguished society, and not less to his lively descriptions I owed a precise knowledge of city and country as far as the picturesque mountain range of the snow-covered alps in the background of the city. A joint excursion to the mountains by coach in the direction of Rivoli, the summer seat of rich Turniners, was delightful through the charm of the surrounding landscape in the vicinity of the royal Residence. Of course, a certain caution was necessary, for in the evening, when we drove through the ravines in the dark, a pair of pistols was kept in readiness in order to ward off the attacks of brigands, not infrequent at that time.

On my return home, I chose the route that leads in a westerly direction from Turin across Mont Cenis and touches the cities of Chambery and Aix-les-Bains, home of the Savoyards, iin order finally to strike the road through Geneva and Bern to Basel. On the post-coach, I regularly took the high seat beside the postilion and enjoyed an unhampered look around at the most wonderful pictures of nature, iin constant change from mountain to valley, which have remained in my memory lifelong, and moreover compensated in the richest measure for the hunger-tour on the journey over the St. Gotthard pass. Herr von Pirch, who had recommended to me most forcefully the advantages of the western route, had been completely right and I thanked him in spirit and in truth for the good service he rendered me. One thing I will not forget to add. In Paris I had learned to know the poor Savoyards as unassuming children. On their home ground, they showed themselves to be anything but amiable. They ran along beside the post-coach, begging with loud cries for alms, and when the same, paid in ready coin, did not seem to them considerable enough, they threw stones at the windows of the coach, so that the glass shattered into pieces. When one set out in their pursuit, they slipped aside into the bushes to vanish from sight forever.

My student years flowed by with unbelievable swiftness with my regular visits to the University and continued demotic studies. In the work, I experienced the highest pleasure and each new discover in the field of an old Egyptian decipherment, for which my travels had placed an extraordinarily rich material at my disposal, could send me into a true ecstasy of delight. In fact, I was living now and then in a state of genuine rapture which seized my entire nervous system and evoked the most remarkable phenomena. I mention the following expressly because it repeated itself frequently in the course of time so that I almost began to be afraid of myself.

Until deep into the night, I sat studiously before my Egyptian inscriptions in order to establish, by way of example, the pronunciation and the grammatical significance of a character or a word-group. In spite of all brooding and reflection, I did not find the solution, lay down exhausted on my bed, which was in my workroom, and after having turned out the lamp, sunk into a deep sleep. In a dream, I continued the unresolved investigation, suddenly found the solution, immediately left my resting-place, sat at the table like a sleepwalker with closed eyes, and wrote the result with pencil on a small sheet of paper. I rose, went back to my bed and slept again. Upon awakening in the morning, I was astonished each time to see before me the solution of the riddle in clear script characters. I remembered the dream well, but asked myself in vain, how I had been in a state to write down whole lines, clearly readable, in the greatest darkness. Another phenomenon which is fixed unforgettably in my memoir had a ghostly flavor. A dear friend, the landscaped painter Eduard Hildebrandt, of famous memory, possessed a well-preserved mummy head of Egyptian origin, which he had acquired on his last journey in Thebes. He made me a present of it and I placed it under a glass case on my work-table. The eyes were wide open and between the half-open lips, now become black, showed a double row of brilliant white teeth. Never had I experienced a feeling of abhorrence or dread, at the by no means beautiful sight. One day I sat from the midday hours uninterruptedly until night, chained to my table, occupied as usual with difficult questions which claimed my entire power of thought, without succeeding in finding the desired answer. Depressed, I turned my gaze to the head and murmured, "If you, many-thousand-year-old child of man, would only open your closed mouth to give me the answer, what wouldn't I give for that!" At the same moment, it struck 12 o'clock midnight. Then I saw, to my horror, how the eyes of the mummy head turned, the mouth and the tongue moved, - in a word, how the dead began to live. A cold chill ran through my limbs, my heart pounded; I turned the head away so as to see nothing more, hastily put out the lamp and threw myself into bed in my clothes, to pull the cover over my head and pass a fearful wakeful hour before falling asleep. The next morning, the head appeared unchanged, as it had always been. Nevertheless, I had nothing more hasty to do than to pack it in a basket and hand it over to the egyptian Museum in Berlin as their property. For me, it was if a stone had fallen from my heart, after I saw myself freed of the sinister neighbor. I had made the experiment on myself, that an excited imagination can deceive the seeing eye by the most terrible pictures. Later in Thebes, I slept, all soul alone, in the midst of old Egyptian corpses, but never was aware of that tortured feeling which had seized me with demonic power in the case of the above-described phenomenon in Berlin.

Still during my period of study, I was able to deliver many a result of my scientific works for publication and I won rich approbation for my discoveries, but with an overwhelming majority from abroad. It is true that my treatises touched upon a narrowly limited field of Egyptian-demotic studies, but Alexander von Humboldt, in his everlasting goodness, disclosed a special advantage in that very thing, since also in the realm of nature, microscopic investigations afforded the greatest uses because in their connection with one another, they formed the true foundation of all research.


The time was gradually drawing near for me to prepare for the examination for Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Berlin and therefore, I saw myself obliged to lay aside my Egyptian works during several months and, as a future magister liberallum artium, to turn my whole attention to Philosophy and the Liberal Arts. I almost envied A. von Humboldt, who assured me that he had never in his life taken an examination, and yet had found his advancement. It was a difficult place of work, to find my way in the individual branches for which I had to take the examination, but I was in general, well "behoofed," as one used to say. Only Philosophy gave me a good deal of trouble, since I could not get rid of the suspicion that, with the exception of Logic, for whose categories I had a special respect, every system contained only more or less skillfully laid patterns of reasoning according to the special quality of its founder. The philosophy of Hegel, which I had tried to comprehend under Professor Michelet's direction, gave me particular difficulties, even though its spirit attracted me involuntarily. I understood that everything is, and in the next moment is not, - in other words, that everything is in a state of becoming, or is subject to constant change, that furthermore, the becoming corresponds to movement in space, that time is only measured space, hence unthinkable for itself alone; but my head whirled, when I climbed the uppermost steps on the ladder of knowledge and looked down from a dizzy height into a vast depth. I would not in all my life have become a philosopher, and if, however, on the basis of my diploma I have been designated as Doctor Philosophiae, I have actually deserved such a distinction little or not at all, which, in the decline of my existence, I feel no hesitation in confessing openly. And yet, man is a very vain creature who likes to deck himself in false feathers. When the hard hours of the examination lay behind me and the gathering of the professors who, as examiners and judges, had searched me to the bone, pronounced me worthy of the title of a Doctor of Philosophy, then I was clearly jubilant; I made the deepest bow and left the halls of wisdom in order to rush home and inform my dear parents of the enormous event, and from there to plunge at full gallop to a porcelain painter in the neighborhood to order a door-plaque with the inscription Dr. Phil. H. Brugsh, to be ready just as soon as possible. I was of the opinion that the world could not learn early enough, that behind the entrance door of our apartment a real Doctor of Philosophy had set up his workshop of the spirit.

My ceremonial graduation took place, according to tradition, in the Aula of the Berlin University, without a special crowding of curious and eager-to-learn attendants. The unavoidable public debate left nothing to be desired, in my power of demonstrating my proposed thesis, and I emerged as shining victor in the dispute. For the sake of prudence, however, I had considered it a good idea to come to an understanding with my opponents a day earlier, and, I admit it quite honestly, the roles had been very nicely rehearsed and distributed. I received my doctor's hat, took the prescribed oath and gave my opponents a tasty meal in a restaurant which at that time was situated directly above the Kranzler confectionery. My friend Dr. Theodore Stamm, who had just recently returned from a journey to the Orient in order to learn to know more precisely the vital power of water and the Religion of Action at its oldest cradle, was anything but satisfied with his experiences and in the conversation at the table, he expressed himself bitterly over the increasing decadence of mankind which is animated only by selfishness and desire to persecute. The second theme which he took up was little suited, to be sure, to the wine-filled glasses beside our plates, but yet it was instructive for us because the young speaker demonstrated that Pindar, the Greek poet, was quite right to praise water as the best thing in the world. Since in the East, perhaps with the partial exception of Egypt, they had failed to care about water, everything had gone to ruin and want had taken the place of wealth. We could only applaud him with all our hearts for his assertion, and so my friends finally departed with their best wishes for my prosperity in the future.

What now? That was the great question facing me after the completed doctorate. The royal stipendium, which until then had kept my head above water, had expired after I finished the third year, and consequently I was obliged to provide myself for the future. My scientific papers, which I published from time to time, brought in little and it would have been painful for me to have to receive bread and butter from my parents. Then fate and chance brought it about that I was suddenly offered an opportunity that would bring an end to all anxieties, if I only wanted to seize it. Several distinguished Moldavian families whose names: Ghika, Dobreanu, Skelitti, among others, are still familiar to me today, were looking for a boarding-school for their twelve-to fourteen-year-old sons, in which French would serve as the colloquial language, and the sciences would be taught according to the German method. The chief condition set by the parents was that the boarding-school father be a married man. In other respects, the payment in cash turned out to be so favorable that it would not only relieve the recipient of every care of material existence for several years ahead, but would even allow him to lead an elegant life in his own home. After considerable deliberation, I accepted the condition to receive the sons of Moldavia for board and instruction in my house - wild, powerful boys, to be sure, who nevertheless later turned into excellent, knowledgeable youths and men, and altogether performed the best services for their fatherland.

But the chief stipulation remained to be fulfilled on my part: I had to marry, and frankly that seemed to me the slightest among the obstacles to be overcome. Still in my student years, during a visit on the estate of a rich landowner in the vicinity of Berlin, I had made the acquaintance of a young orphan - she was at the time 17 years old - whose charming, natural manner and blooming, healthy freshness captivated, and not only in passing, my heart and mind. It came very soon to be a declaration, which turned out in my favor, and Pauline was likewise delighted that she was so unexpectedly quickly to become mine for life and to manage as a respectable housewife at my side. She was the youngest of three sisters who, after the early death of their parents, called a house on Stein Street their own. The eldest had already become the wife of a merchant, who at present holds the position of a worthy governor of a ward in Berlin, after having retired from his former business. He is the father of the talented sculptor and painter, Richard Neumann, well-known to all show-loving Berliners as the ingenious director of the Panopticum Unter den Linden. The second sister managed as head of the household and directed the education of my future wife. She died a worthy matron, without living to see our marriage, which was consecrated in the year 1851 by the Minister Vater in the Dorotheenstadt Church. Alexander von Humboldt had not declined to pay us the honor of his presence as marriage witness and among other invited guests, I had the pleasure of being able to greet the Director Pasalacqua and my famous friend, the landscape painter, Eduard Hildebrandt.

My young wife, a born Berliner and burgher's daughter who, alas, would later be snatched from me by death, blessed me with the pureness of her disposition and the most lovable cheerfulness in her whole appearance. She raised my often sinking spirits and inspired me with enthusiasm for my perpetual and difficult work in the field of deciphering Egyptian scripts, taking the liveliest part in my own joy over any lucky discovery, although she did not understand it in the least. Besides, she possessed the excellent quality of not seeking amusement and of feeling true satisfaction in the modest existence of a young beginning scholar. We had rented an apartment at number 99 Friedrichstrasse, opposite the great circus of Renz and Dejazet, whose former site is marked by the present central railroad station. Our first home was spacious and, under the circumstances at that time, could even be called splendid, for my rich Moldavians marched in and nothing must be lacking in spaciousness to satisfy the required demands. My young wife was shocked, to be sure, when the various mothers appeared with lighted cigarettes between their delicate lips, in order to deliver the hopeful sons to the young couple for care and education. But of course their homeland lay not far from Turkey and the harem custom of smoking had crossed the dividing frontier and found willing acceptance among the ladies of Moldavia and Wallachia. I had undertaken a great responsibility, through the obligation to confer upon five foreign boys who, except for their mother tongue, spoke only French, a thorough German education and German culture. My time was completely taken up by it and only the night, hitherto my truest friend, remained left to me also for the future, for my quiet, peaceful work.

A whole year long, I had borne the heavy burden of a young boarding-school father, to whom the youths entrusted to him, with their pampered ways, had given so many bitter hours, when I became disgusted with it, and after short deliberation, reached the decision to give up the wretched business and to devote my entire time to science alone. The ring of the Moldavian golden ducats was indeed a great temptation, but it in no way compensated for the spiritual unrest by which I felt oppressed day and night. For even out of sleep it shook me 2awake, after an incident supplied me with the unedifying disclosure that the older of my foster sons, provided with door and house keys, regularly left the apartment about one o'clock in the morning, in order to spend a few merry hours with the French troupe of professional riders from the Dejazet circus. Without my having suspected it, the entire domestic staff of my house had been bribed by the young cubs with gifts of money, and every member of it had been unscrupulous enough to support most strongly the secret escapades of the golden youth.

My further life in Berlin became, with regard to the choice of dwelling-place, a truly nomadic existence. The united family changed it as soon as the income increased and a suitable opportunity presented itself for a better home. In general, we remained attached to the southwest, where at that time the price of rent, on the average, amounted to fifty thaler for each habitable room. After I had cheerfully given up the stately apartment on Grosse Friedrichstrasse, I took up my new quarters in Johannis Street 3a, situated three flights up, to be sure, but pleasant to me through the nearness of my patron, Alexander von Humboldt, into whose garden I could look out from my window. Near it rose a just-completed Jewish synagogue, whose visitors on the Jewish festival - and holidays lent the otherwise quiet neighborhood a certain liveliness and a Sunday-like aspect.

With my apartment at that time are connected many dear recollections which I shall have a later opportunity to revive. It was not mere chance that brought me here into contact with famous contemporaries in the fields of art and science, who, however, in the majority came from abroad, for Berlin, as the Residence of King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, who was enthusiastic for everything beautiful and good, had become a rendezvous of enlightened spirits. They streamed hither from all parts of the world, in order to stay for a longer or shorter time in the place in which the Muses and Minerva had set up their favorite abode. The amiability of the royal patron, who was well versed in all branches of science and learning and possessed in his "great Alexandros" a trusty friend and advisor, charmed all visitors who had the honor to be presented to the high lord and to admire his intellectual conversation. It was French scholars in particular who did not refrain from offering their respects to the King, and from expressing their highest satisfaction in the museums, as well as in the circles of Berlin society. Even my cell three flights up on Johannis Street shared the distinction of being entered by the most famous people. The French Academicians Renan, E. de Rouge, Maurice, Vogue, the French African traveller Marquis d'Escayrac de Lauture, among others, belonged to their number and I felt pride with all my soul, in hearing my royal master praised by them in all tongues and modes.

A special recollection from that time in my life is connected with the name of the above-mentioned French Marquis, who in the year 1856, at the order of the Viceroy of Egypt, undertook a journey into the heart of the Sudan to discover the sources of the Nile. The Marquis had made the trip to Berlin in order to persuade me to take part in the expedition. I was nearly on the point of agreeing to his proposal and signing the submitted contract, had not Alexander von Humboldt at the last hour expressed his decisive veto.

In Berlin itself, I found only slight regard and recognition at that time in the learned world. My studies and discoveries lay apart from the great road which was taken by the majority of linguists, so that nobody was in the position to pass a correct and impartial judgment. Is it any wonder that at that time the depreciating utterances of the official Egyptologist excluded me from learned participation in my own fatherland? Those who stood by me were not Egyptologists, but still today I thank them for the encouragement which their confidence in my doubted productions instilled in me for the continuation of my work. I still gratefully acknowledge today the amiable reception which was granted me in the house of my then patron, Geheimrat Dieterici, Director of the Statistical Office on Linden Strasse. The acquaintance with his excellent son, the Arabist, Fritz Dieterici, has preserved until now the recollection of a time in which only the encouragement and the sympathy of really good men among my own countrymen were able to raise my sinking spirit.

My Life and My Travels, by Heinrich Brugsch (English version, 1992), edited by George Laughead Jr. and Sarah Panarity. Used with permission of Dr. Heinrich George Brugsch, M.D., Waban, MA.