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


The reader should know that this book, My Life and My Travels, is actually a Second Edition, much improved. The first edition was printed in serial form, the second half of the summer of 1893, in the Vossische Zeitung, one of the most widely read newspapers in Berlin. Favorable written and verbal reactions to this series on the part of the benevolent readers prompted me to take the pen and unfold the story of my life to a wider audience. I was inspired neither by vanity nor literary fame. Such an assumption would have been foolish, since it would not have equaled the writings on their lives by my noted friends Ebers, Fontane and Pietsch, who have already enriched the German literature with their works. The reason for relating in plain words for my readers the events of a long and varied life has had a sad origin; a severe, seemingly incurable illness, in the midst of my full enjoyment of good health, had suddenly attacked me and threatened to cut short the threads of my life. Only due to the most careful treatment by my excellent physician, Dr. Fliess, I owe my final recovery. Although I looked forward peacefully to the coming end, I was nevertheless oppressed by the thought of having to leave this beautiful vale of sorrows without having paid my debts to my family and friends by describing my highly winding path of life. I felt even more the obligation to do so since the public voice in so far as it has to do with my modest person considers me fortunate for having the golden apple, so to speak, fall into my lap. Just the opposite is true. From the beginning of my career, I had to face insurmountable difficulties and miseries, and whoever can read between the lines will find incredible and even astonishing experiences. I do not in any way as far as intellect is concerned belong to the so-called Wunder-Kinder. Just the opposite. I suffered from slow comprehension; yet I replaced whatever I lacked in talent and inheritance with iron diligence, which easily helped to overcome opposing obstacles. To this I owe the little which became of me even if the battle for my life had to be fought with all means and my ship of life was buffeted by stormy winds. Fate was kind enough to have me see the light of day in Berlin. Obviously I cannot consider that this was due to my own merit, but to this accident is due the fact that the memorabilia of old Berlin and its inhabitants, which appear from time to time in my book, were so favorably received by my countrymen. I have always felt a certain pride in being a Berliner and, even among the Islamic natives whom I had the fortune to meet, I never lost my Berlin soul and mentality.

No German, who has read the section of this book relating to Auguste Mariette, will regret that for thirty years, until we separated, this writer has felt the warmest friendship for a Frenchman. Even the war years, 1870 and 1871, have not eliminated our friendship although our sons were opposing enemies in the field. After Mariette had returned from Paris, which was under siege, to Cairo, he wrote me the following letter:

"My dear friend,

"Your letter this morning has warmed my heart. To me you are not a German, you are Brugsch. You need not explain to me the recent events. They affect my French heart. They do not change my heart for the man and for you. I love you as a true friend, and you will always be loved because of a sympathetic nature, which nothing has destroyed nor can destroy. You know me well enough to see that I need not tell you as always, whether in France, Germany or Egypt you will always be the person for whom I have the warmest affection. I give you my hand with all my heart.

Always yours,

Auguste Mariette"*

It is easy to live a life with such friendship, and I can justifiably say that Mariette during the most difficult situations of my existence was my only and true supporter and my most honest advisor. For just this reason I feel compelled to give him such a prominent place in the Preface of my memoirs.

Thus I let My Life and My Travels start its second journey into the world filled with the wish that it will find friendly readers who will follow the changing fate of a contemporary countryman with pleasure or with sadness.

Berlin, February 20, 1894

Heinrich Brugsch

*Translated from the French published in the Second Edition, 1894

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