« PreviousContinue »
more than those of many a poor Farmer--who, with courage and perseverance,
LO! soon her glorious beauty she discovers :
The Field of Terror, a Tale ;
BY FREDERICK, BARON DE LA MOTTE FOUQUE. DEAR CHRISTOPHER, I have, for the sake of variety, chosen, instead of another dramatic criticism, to present your readers, in this Number, with one of the “ Kleine Romane” of my excellent friend, the Baron de La Motte Fouqué. Nor have I selected one of his longer and more serious compositions under this title, but preferred one of the numerous (I might say numberless) fairy tales, which he has thrown off with the playful grace of a genuine master. To shadow out the various modifications and contentions of good and evil in this life, typified and impersonized by fairies, demons, &c. is a favourite system of the Baron. Hence his partiality to the superstitions of his country--to which, by his inventive genius, and his moral and philosophic powers, he has given an interest and importance altogether new. That your readers may duly appreciate this little Tale, it
permitted us to remind them, that among the mountains, in the north of Germany, there is one which has been said to possess, among other minerals, the magnet, in such abundance, that the labours of the husbandman were there found to be impracticable. As one fable naturally begets another, it followed, of course, that this difficulty, was ascribed to the immediate agency of malige nant demons. It remained however, for the genius of Fouqué, to moralize this legend ; and probably, one ought not to rate the intelligence of any reader so low as to suppose that the moral of the following tale will not immediately be discovered. It may be considered, indeed, but a new modification of our own old chivalric legend of a knight, assailed by all the delusive horrors of witchcraft and sorcery, which vanish, one after another, before his invincible courage and constancy..
" (A legend, by the way, which has been so well given in the " Bridal of Triermain," and in vol. III. of Drake's Literary Hours.") It will doubtless be perceived, that the adventures of Conrad are, in reality, no struggles against the difficulties of his fortune--and, at last, even from sterile fields, on which he is haunted by the demons of apprehension, indolence, and despondency, may, by contented industry, gain a competent livelihood, a comparative affluence. Your friend, R. P. G. At the foot of the Giant Mountain, (so their inheritance, had it not been that called from its pre-eminent height), in it included one farm, called the FIELD a fertile district of Silesia, there fell to OF TERROR; which, of course, no one be divided among several relations the was inclined to receive for his portion. property of a rich commoner, who had Yet the surface of this field was died without children, and whose va- adorned with blooming flowers, and a rious farms were scattered about in variety of wild shrubs and underwood, different quarters of this romantic betokening at once the fertility of the country:
soil, and the neglect of the husbandFor this purpose, they had assem man. Many years indeed had passed bled in a small inn of the head village, since any one had ventured there with and would have very soon come to an a plough, nor had any seeds been amicable agreement on the division of planted or sown but those which NaVOL. VIII.
ture herself supplied. Or if some bold and long wished for voice of Conrad ; adventurer had now and then made
a young man like herself, handsome such an attempt, the work-oxen were and amiable, but also extremely poor; invariably seized with an uncontrollable on which account he had left the vilfury ;-even the ploughman and sow- lage about two years before as'a soldier, er fled in wild affright,-complaining in hopes of returning with such a porthat horrible spectres floated around tion of worldly gain as might render them, pretending to join in their la- practicable a marriage with the beloved bour,-and looking over their shoul- mistress, whose affections he had alders with an hideous confidence and ready won. familiarity, which no mortal courage Pleasant and affecting was it now to could endure.
behold how the tall and graceful young Who should now take this accursed soldier, with joyful countenance, and ominous field into his allotment proffered his faithful right hand to became the grand question in debate. Sabina—while her bright and beautiTo every one it appeared (according to ful eyes, glistening with tears, beamed the usual way of the world) that what through the changeless verdure of ivy to himself was even in idea insupport. boughs on her changeless lover ! able, might, by his neighbour, be en “° Ah, Conrad !” said she, deeply countered without risk or hesitation. blushing, “ Heaven be praised that Thus they continued disputing till a your life has been preserved ;-for this late hour of the evening.--At last, af- alone, I prayed in your long absence; ter an interval of silence, one of the nor do I now require any other boon of party announced the following sug- fortune !"-" Her golden gifts ingestion.
deed,” said Conrad, smiling and shak“ We are,” said he, “ according to ing his head," have come but spathe injunctions of our predecessor, ringly—yet, at least, I have returned obliged to make some provision for a richer than I went; and if my dear poor cousin, who lives here in this Sabina has but courage, I think we village. To us the girl is but very might now venture on marriage, and distantly related—besides, she will honourably brave the world.” probably soon have a good husband to faithful Conrad !" sighed his mistress, protect her, for she is amiable and 'to link thy fate unalterably thus, for prudent, and is commonly called the weal and wo, with a poor helpless or. beautiful Sabina. Therefore, my phan !"-"Dearest girl," interrupted counsel is, that we freely give to our the soldier" if thou lov'st me, say cousin in a present this
YES,” and rest assured, that all TERROR.” We shall then have at will go well-we shall live together once fulfilled our duty, and supplied happier indeed than king and queen!" a dowry for Sabina ; which, unpro “ But,” said Sabina,
then mising as it appears at present, may freemno longer a soldier ?"-Conrad, yet prove no inconsiderable fortune, if without speaking, now searched in a her husband should chance to be suf leather purse which contained his lite ficiently skilful and courageous to ven tle fortune, for a silver medal, which ture on its improvement.
The rest he handed to Sabina, who held it so, of the party unanimously approved of that the light of her lamp fell on the this motion; and one of their number device. With old-fashioned wit, a browas immediately despatched on an em ken drum was there represented, and bassy to acquaint Sabina with their Sabina began to read the mottodetermination.
“ Thank heaven war has”. Before this debate was at an end, heaven war has an end” *_" it should Sabina had, in the dusk of the even- say,” added Conrad, —" it is true, ining, heard a light knocking at the deed, that peace is not yet ratified; door.–To her question of “who was but there is a truce, which will probathere?" an answer was returned, which bly have good results; and meanwhile
, induced her immediately to rise from our general has disbanded his troops.' her seat, open the lattice, and look With joyful anticipations, Sabina out. It was the well rernembered now gave her hand to her lover; then
* The word END (loch) in German, is here susceptible of a pun, which cannot be translated.
opened the cottage door, and allowed to my betrothed wife, you and your him, as her accepted bridegroom, to companions have chosen to make a enter the small apartment, where he jest, and that you are altogether resat down beside his mistress, and re solved that not one farthing shall aclated how he had gained a small sum crue to her from your inheritance. in gold and silver, from an Italian offi. Yet we now take, in God's name, cer, whom he had honourably con your allotment, hoping that this FIELD quered in the field ; and who, by the OF TERROR, which, in the hands of sarrender of this treasure, had ran envious and avaricious poltroons, might somed his life.--Turning her wheel have remained barren, may, under the industriously, and smiling softly, at management of a brave soldier, prove intervals, on her brave lover, Sabina of more worth than you suppose.' congratulated herself, that neither to Sabina's cousin, terrified by Conrad's her own or to Conrad's future gains, martial appearance, turned pale, and the slightest imputation of injustice or did not venture on any reply. On his violence could be attached.
departure, the young soldier kissed During this conversation, her cousin the tears from the beautiful eyes of made his appearance to deliver his em his bride, and hastened with her to a bassy. Sabina, with modest blushes, neighbouring priest, to plight before introduced to him Conrad as her ace him their mutual troth, and appoint cepted lover, just returned from an their wedding-day. honourable campaign. “ Ha, then, Within a few weeks after this, Consaid her new guest, I have luckily rad and Sabina were married, and become in the very nick of time ; for if gan to arrange their small household. by chance your bridegroom has return The young man had spent almost all ed from the wars without much world- his gold and silver in the purchase of ly gain, the dowry with which, by two fine oxen, a plough, seed-corn, and authority of your other cousins, I am household furniture. The remainder now to present you, will no doubt be was just sufficient to guard, with pruvery welcome to him.” Conrad, on dence and frugality, against the privathe contrary, was of a spirit too proud tions of poverty, until the next harand independent, and besides, was vest season. However, when Conrad too much of a romantic lover, to ex first went out with his plough and oxpress any sort of exultation on hear en to labour, he looked back laughing ing this address. The humble Sabi- to Sabina, and promised her that the na, however, as yet unconscious of gold which he was now to trust in the what her cousins really intended, ground would not prove deceitful, and seemed to acknowledge, on this occa that by another year they would be sion, the special favour of Providence, far richer. Sabina looked after him and cast down her eyes, with soft anxiously, and wished only to see him smiles of gladness and gratitude. But safely returned from the Field of Terwhen she now heard that her whole ror. portion was to be the FIELD OF TER Conrad, indeed, returned earlier ROR, then the selfish avarice of her than she had expected, but in a mood cousins struck at once with icy cold- of mind by no means so tranquil as ness on her heart, and she could no that in which he had set out. He longer restrain the starting tears of dragged behind him his plough, brokdisappointment. Her cousin looked en in pieces, and laboriously goaded at her with scornful smiles, pretend- along one of his oxen, severely wounding to regret that she should have ed, while he himself also was bleeding reckoned on any better share of the in the shoulder and head. Yet, after inheritance, this being a much larger all, he strove to look cheerful and unportion than, from the degree of her concerned ; and, with the unconquerrelationship, she was entitled to re able spirit of a brave soldier, tried to ceive.
console the weeping Sabina. Now,” Upon this, he wished immediately said he, “ you will have enough to to retire. Conrad, however, inter- do! Salting, pickling, and cookery! cepted his retreat, and, with a cold The goblins on the field of terror have composure, which often accompanied provided us with beef enough for a his greatest indignation, he thus ad- whole season. This poor animal has, dressed him: “Sir, I perceive that in his madness, hurt himself so much of the good intentions of the deceased as to be quite useless, and (at least as
long as he lives) incurable. His com In this manner many days and rade has run furiously down the moun weeks were spent. The resolute Contain. I saw him fall into the torrent rad persevered undauntedly in the labelow, from whence he will never be bour of levelling the ground and rootrecovered.”
ing out the weeds, digging and sowe “ My cousins ! Oh, my wicked ing in the most favourable situations. cousins !” cried Sabina : “ Now has It is true, indeed, that with the spade their perfidious gift robbed us of all alone he was able to cultivate but a your hard-won earnings ; and above very small part of the field; however, all, dear Conrad, you are yourself dan- he redoubled on this account his care gerously wounded.”
and attention ; and at length had the “ As to my wounds, they are no satisfaction to see a harvest spring up, thing,” replied her husband ; “ the which, if not very rich, yet promised, pair of oxen, no doubt, got me once be- and made good, a profit fully equal to tween them when their fury was at its his expectations. He was obliged, full height, and I was resolved not to however, to get through the toil let them go. But all this, Heaven be of reaping and leading home as well praised ! I have got well over; and to he could, without the assistmorrow morning, I shall make an ance of any friend or servant. No other attempt on the FIELD OF TER- day-labourers would, for any tempta
tion of wages, venture on the FIELD Sabina now tried, by every method OF TERROR; and as to Sabina, her in her power, to dissuade him from husband would not suffer her to go this resolve; but he said firmly, thither, more especially as he had reathat the field, so long as he lived, son to think that he would soon beshould not be suffered to remain un come a father. The child accordingly profitable; where a man could not was born, and in the third year after plough, he must dig ; and the goblin their marriage, was followed by anwould now no longer have to deal with other, while, in other respects, no matimid irrational animals, but with a terial change had yet taken place in steady and experienced soldier, who Conrad's situation. By courage and scorned to run, even from the devil exertion, he knew how to gain harhimself. In the course of that day, vest upon harvest from the field ; and he had a butcher to kill and cut up thus fulfilled his assurance to Sabina, the poor wounded beast; and next that in their married state they would morning, while Sabina had betaken honourably brave the world. herself to her new employment of One autumnal evening, when the pickling and salting, Conrad had pro- deep shades of darkness had already ceeded again upon his way, scarcely fallen around him, Conrad as usual less contented now when he had but (his harvest having been reaped and a pick-axe and spade, than on the cleared away) plied industriously his preceding day when he set out in style labour with the spade. Suddenly with a plough and team of oxen. there arose opposite to him the figure
On this occasion it was somewhat of a tall muscular man, black and late in the evening before he returned: swarthy like a collier, with a long he was fatigued, and even looked pale; iron bar or poker in his hand, who yet he was more cheerful, and soon said to him-“Is there not then one tranquillized his timid and anxious pair of oxen to be had in this country, wife.
“ This kind of husbandry,” that you labour with both hands in said he, " is rather tiresome, no doubt; this manner? Yet to judge the extent besides, there is a strange ghostly- of your grounds, you should be a rich looking figure, that starts up now on farmer !”- Conrad knew. very well one side, and now on another, mocks who it was that spoke to him, and
labour, and interrupts me both persevered in his usual way—that is, by gestures and words.
However, he he kept silence, turned his eyes and seems even himself to wonder that I thoughts as much as possible from the take so little notice of him; and upon goblin, and plied at his task more asthis I gain always new courage, which, siduously than before. But the collier indeed, never can be wanting to an did not in his usual manner vanish honest man, who is only desirous away, in order to return in a form peaceably to follow out his own pro more hideous and distracting ; but, on per avocations."
the contrary, stood still, and said, in
“ but my pro
a friendly tone " Conrad, you do last point, you must judge for your-
me, the guilt and sportive, it is true but this is is yours, and not mine!”—Then he all."-" I believe indeed,” said Conbegan, without farther hesitation, to rad, “ that thou art the well-known relate accurately and truly all that had Rubezahl."-"Listen,” said the stranbefallen him since his possession of ger, somewhat angrily: “ If you bethat field; nor did he in the least lieve this, know also that the powerconceal his indignation at the Hobgob- ful genius of this land cannot endure lin, who, by his perpetual interrup- to be called hy that pitiful name, but tions, had rendered it so difficult for chooses to be styled the Lord of the him, with the assistance of only a Mountain !” “ He would prove a goodpick-axe and spade, to raise a suffi- ly menial, forsooth, whom I must learn cient harvest for the bare maintenance to style the Lord of the Mountain !" of himself and his family.
said Conrad. “ You may call me The collier listened to him seriously Waldmann,* then,” said the collier. and attentively; then, after some re Conrad looked stedfastly at him for flection, replied as follows: “ I think, some time, and at last answered friend, that you already know very • Good! It shall be so !—Methinks I well who I am ; and it argues no little shall do no wrong in accepting thine courage on your part, not to have offer. I have often seen that people abated one jot of your honour as a take dogs for turnspits, and use other soldier, but truly and openly to have irrational animals about a household expressed how much you are dissatis- why not then a goblin ?"-At this fied with me. To tell the truth, you the collier laughed heartily, and said have had reason enough to be angry ; .“ Well! this is certainly the first but as I have proved you to be a brave time that such conditions were ever fellow, I shall now make a proposal made with one of my rank; but even which may do you no little service. for this very reason, and for the sake Now listen : There are times when of variety, I like it the better. So after I have, in wood, field, and moun- then, dear master, your hand on the tain, played the fool, and terrified the bargain ! Conrad, however, insisted people to my heart's content, there on some special conditions ; first, that has risen within me a sincere and ar- his new servant should never make it dent desire of entering into the fami- known to Sabina, or the children, that ly of some honest householder, and he had any connection with the FIELD living there regularly and peaceably for OF TERROR, and still less, that he had one half year. Now then, what if come from the hideous gloomy caverns you should hire me for this half year of the Giant Mountain ; secondly, as your servant?”—“ It is base and that within the limits of his master's wicked in thee,” said Conrad, “ thus house and garden, no sort of diablerie to mock at an honest man, who has, should ever be exhibited ; and as at thine own request, given thee his Waldmann very readily agreed to all confidence.”—“Nay, nay," said the this, the bargain was forth with conother, there is no mockery~I am cluded, and they went home amicably quite serious. You shall find an ho- together. nest labourer in me; and so long as I Sabina was not a little surprised at remain in your service, not one phan- this addition to her household, and tom will appear on the fieLD OF TER entertained considerable feelings of ROR, so that you may bring a whole terror at the gigantic swarthy figure herd of oxen thither without appre- of the new servant. The children also hension.' That, indeed, would be would not for some time venture out something,” said Conrad, meditating; of doors, if he were at work in the “ if I only knew that thou wouldst garden or farm-yard. However, by keep thy promise ; and especially, his quiet, regular, and industrious whether I, as a Christian, may ven- conduct, Waldmann soon gained the ture to deal with thee !"-"As for the good opinion of every one; or if at
* In English, Woodman.