Изображения страниц



you,'- Göthe's description of him as one that all men gladly name,' and Carlyle's, as the Great Second Best.' So I sat myself serenely to give him his due, and see if I might not leain something from the Devil. He proceeded thus :

66 6

The lecture of Einbohrer this morning was good as Science, but did not deal sufficiently with the moral and infernal bearings of the topic. I alone can speak ex cathedra on that. You see it is a fact not generally known that the Devil is a Hand. When the Bible asserts that men's days are as a handbreadth, it mystically affirms that men are diabolical rascals generally. A thousand years I wandered until it was permitted me to take some one of all forms. I selected this. The hand is the centre of power, and so long as it is the Devil's realm he must have a hand in everything done on earth. When was there any beautiful or valuable crime in which the hand was not concerned? The fine old Romances of the Otranto School knew this, when, instead of introducing the Devil personally into their stories (which would have been too much for any but persons of rare culture), they only cause a great Hand to appear. It was in order to familiarize men with this that I once left the print of myself in the stone which gave name to the castle of Greifenstein, or the Clutched Stone, where Richard Cœur de Leon was imprisoned and found by Blondel. We who dwell below watch with interest the growth of men into the mysterious relations of the hand. The Italian may say much with impunity, but a certain arrangement of the fingers at one is the last insult, which death alone can atone for. In the olden time, in quizzing, the thumb was carried to the mouth. So in Shakspere we find, "Bite not thy thumb at me." In America it is carried to the nose instead. It was the custom of the ancient Norseman to keep off the evil eye by holding out the first and little fingers, and pressing the others against the palm. That was really a devil's pitchfork. The Germans maintain that the Devil has a horse's foot; the English, a cloven hoof. These are but fingerless hands, as has been proved by the few instances in which hoofs have developed fingers. The Spanish, always pretty well acquainted with my dominions, know that villainy does not reside in the head or heart, but the hand; so they do not behead their executed criminals, but behand them,and as one enters Spanish cities he sees large numbers of human hands nailed to the city walls for warning. The recipe of witchcraft was this: Take two or more dead men's fingers, pound


them when dried; mix the skin of a toad pulverized; pour on the tears of a child or the blood of a cat; then let one drop fall on the hand of the person you would affect.' You know, too, that the poisonous part of a crab is called dead men's fingers.'

"Thus for a long time the instincts and superstitions of the vulgar went on discovering that the Devil was in the Hand. The Idea entered the Laws at last. The earliest Gothic code, perhaps, was the Faust reicht, or Fist Laws. In the old Saxon Law-Book, Sachsenspiegel, we find the Hand is peculiarly guarded - especially a lady's hand. Two heifers are the fine for squeezing a lady's forefinger; a sheep is to be added for the second or third; squeezing the whole hand was considered worth six heifers and a bull; kissing the hand could only be redeemed by endowing her with all one's worldly goods," etc. This shows that those old Saxons had an instinctive suspicion of your Dr. Einbohrer's theory that fingers and toes were but upper and under teeth in a lower sphere: so that the pressure of a hand was an approach of teeth to teeth, and attended with all the perils of a kiss in the higher sphere to which we know it easily leads. So Shakspere in Romeo and Juliet,

Palm to palm is Palmer's kiss.'

So also in actual life we find that when a youth makes a serious demand for kissing a young woman ad libitum, he does not ask her for her heart, neither does he ask her for her head or her feet, but for her hand. He does not place the wedding-ring in her ears, nor around her ancles, nor in her nose, but on her finger. And in Rome, other cases of Life and Death were decided by the raising or pressing of the thumb by the Judges.


Hush! Know you why of all other forms I, Satan, should have selected this of the hand? Because it is the token of man, his signmanual, the symbol of his ability to re-create with his hand he would presently re-fashion Eden. But in our councils we said, 'There will we press our siege! However high man's thought shall soar, the deed of the hand shall be evil. The power to grasp shall be a perpetual temptation! Where Heaven sets the implement of industry, we shall set a sword and poignard: the arms of Evil shall be as long as the arms of Good.'

"For once let the thought pass into the deed, and God triumphs over us in the deed the aspiration of man takes form and life, and becomes an active power and Genius of Good. By an external

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

deed he is committed to what it serves it is a bond signed with his blood. Let us get the hand, and we can baffle the heart: so did we with that wretch, thrice imprisoned for theft, who on finishing his last term rushed to the mill, and placing both his hands under a huge knife worked by machinery, had them cut off at the wrists. They shall not conquer me again,' he said.



But, alas, we must be conquered soon as the hand rays forth fingers, the fingers ray forth implements of use and mercy; and these demand the higher radiation,- the heart putting forth fingers of love and friendship; the soul radiating aspiration and everlasting hope. What can we do with a hand like Cranmer's, which, for truth's sake, he can hold in flame till it becomes a cinder, or with that of Galileo, still preserved at Milan, with finger pointing upward ?'

[ocr errors]

"The Devil seemed thoughtful.- What a solemn Devil you are,' said I.—' Pshaw,' he cried, 'I was nodding as even Jove is said to do some times. It was a lie. Man's hand was made for robbing hen-roosts and picking pockets. The wrists are made small that handcuffs shall sit well on them. The thumb is admirably contrived for my grand discovery, the Holy Screw.'

"Then he quickly left me, and I heard in the distance only the refrain of his song:

[ocr errors]

The hand, it is the handsomest
Of Nature's handiwork;
Universal pocket-picker,

Made to steal and dirk.'"


[From the Persian Redekunste.]

SLAVE of the Most High Lord am I;
And since His face shone on my eye
I am He, He lives in me,

My heart is merged in Being's Sea.

Now of the world the highest surge,

I swoon and sink on Wonder's verge,
Soul one with sense, sea one with shore,
I moan and sigh forevermore.


HE faltered on the threshold,
She lingered upon the stair:
Can it be that was his footstep?
Can it be that she is there?

Without is tender yearning,

And tender love is within;
They can hear each other's heart-beats
But a wooden door is between.



FROM wells where Truth in secret lay
He saw the midnight stars by day.


"O marvelous gift!" the many cried. "O cruel gift!" his voice replied.


The stars were far, and cold, and high,
That glimmered in the noonday sky.


He yearned toward the sun in vain
That warmed the lives of other men.

W. D. H.




[Translated for The Dial by Dr. M. E. Lazarus.]

To M'lle Sophie Surville:

It is a real pleasure, my dear niece, to dedicate to thee a book, the subject and details of which have the approbation, so difficult to obtain, of a young girl to whom the world is still unknown, and who understands no concession or compromise of those noble principles which form her saint education.

You young girls are a formidable public; for we may let you read only books as pure as your soul is pure, and forbid certain lectures, even as we prevent you from seeing society as it is. Is it not then just motive of pride to an author, to have pleased you? Heaven grant that your affection may not have deceived you! Who shall tell us? The Future, which thou wilt see, I hope, and when thy uncle Balzac shall have passed away.


URSULA's grandfather, the famous manufacturer of harpsichords and other musical instruments, Valentin Mirouet, one of our most celebrated organists, died in 1785, leaving a natural son, the child of his old age, recognized, bearing his name, but a very wild chap. He had not the consolation of seeing this spoiled child at his deathbed. A singer and composer, Joseph Mirouet, after having made his debut at the Italian Opera under an assumed name, had run away with a young girl into Germany. The old instrumentmaker recommended this boy, really full of talent, to his son-inlaw, Dr. Minoret; observing that he had refused to espouse the mother, in order to avoid prejudicing the interests of Madame Minoret. The doctor promised to give this unfortunate lad half of Valentin Mirouet's legacy, converted into money, when Erard purchased his factory. He sought, through diplomatic agencies, his natural brother-in-law, Joseph Mirouet; but Grimm told him one evening, that after having engaged in a Prussian regiment, the artist had deserted, under an assumed name, and had baffled all researches. Joseph Mirouet, endowed by Nature with a seductive voice, a fine stature, a pretty figure, and being above all, a musical composer full of taste and of fire, led during fifteen years that bohemian life which the Berlinese Hoffman has so well described. Thus towards his fortieth year, he was a prey to such great mise

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »