Full text: Zeitungsausschnitte über Werke von Herman Grimm: Unüberwindliche Mächte

Hessisches Staatsarchiv Marburg, Best. 340 Grimm Nr. Z 36 
250 
The Examiner. 
acknowledged the nobility of labor. As 
it is, his family pride prevents him from 
even entering any of the professions. 
The friend alluded to, Erwin, had 
not hesitated under similar circum 
stances to throw away his title and de 
vote himself to the practice of medi 
cine, and has made himself famous by 
it, but — 
" Arthur had an overweening opinion 
of his own position, of his own family, 
and of what he should accomplish in some 
vague suture. Yet he had formed no 
ideal towards which he could direct his 
steps. There was nothing in his circum 
stances to guide him. As to Erwin, his 
title mattered little. It appeared to op 
press him indeed, that his name must 
have something added to it not possessed 
by others. He would have liked to for 
get it, and often purposely placed himself 
in a lower position, to avoid all suspicion 
of arrogance. Arthur, on the contrary, 
cultivated his pride.” — Vol. I. pp. 31, 
32. 
At the point of time when the story 
opens, Arthur sees again two American 
ladies, a mother and daughter, whom 
he had met in his travels in Italy, in 
his free days, before his father’s death, 
and before he knew of his poverty. 
He is in love with the daughter, but 
his pride, and the consciousness that 
she is rich, and that he has no longer 
family estates or wealth to bring her, 
keep him away from her. Erwin, 
however, encourages the acquaintance, 
in the hope of awakening Arthur’s dor 
mant ambition through his love. He 
brings about a meeting with the Amer 
ican ladies, aud the first volume is prin 
cipally made up of a description of 
the characters present at the evening 
reunions in Mrs. Forster’s apartments, 
at a hotel in Berlin, and the conversa 
tions that naturally arise. The de 
scription of the company assembled 
gives us an opportunity to " see our 
selves as others see us.” 
“ There appeared from time to time 
young Americans ; all came with an idea 
of completing their European education, 
but each had his own method, more or 
less peculiar. One, without any knowl 
edge of Greek or Latin, was studying the 
Sanscrit and Basque languages, while at 
the same time he was working over the 
model of a ship he was inventing. An 
other, who was pursuing the study of 
music, attended lectures in mathematics 
and theology. A third did not express 
himself as to the nature of his learned 
pursuits, but busied himself in buying 
quantities of engravings of every kind. 
But all were remarkable from this fact, 
that although they entered upon any 
study without that preliminary knowledge 
that we [Germans] consider necessary, 
they pursued it farther, and rendered 
themselves distinguished in whatever di 
rection they chose, perhaps from this very 
lack of prejudice.” — Vol. I. p. 167. 
The conversations related are all of 
the German style. They present a 
succession of lectures, rather than the 
free play of an easy talk. But they 
are interesting from their subject. The 
general sympathy with America and 
republican institutions is irritating to 
Arthur’s more aristocratic mode of 
thought, and he leaves one evening in 
a huff, after a little passage at arms 
with Mrs. Forster. This lady, since 
her discovery of the family name of 
our hero (with whom she had become 
acquainted under his first name alone), 
had grown suddenly cool towards him. 
She now decides to leave the country 
directly, and informs her daughter the 
next morning that their passage is 
taken for America, and that they will 
leave for Hamburg by the evening 
train. 
As we have three volumes before 
us, we must pass over intervening 
events. The mother and daughter find 
themselves on board of the American 
steamer, but also find that Arthur has 
followed them and accompanies them. 
This is much to the disgust of the 
mother, who in a conversation with her 
Grimm's “Invincible Powers'.' 
daughter gives the reasons for her late 
coldness towards Arthur. She has dis 
covered that his mother is the young 
countess with whom the father of 
Emmy, a German (we have delayed 
till now presenting the somewhat in 
sipid name of the heroine), had been 
in love before coming to America. This 
young countess had returned his love, 
but in his absence a stern father had 
married her to a nobleman, a count 
much older than herself. In an inter 
view, after her marriage, with her lover, 
Mr. Forster, she had explained that she 
had been led to this marriage by forged 
letters implicating his faith. This in 
terview had been interrupted by the 
return of the husband, and the young 
lover had been concealed in the next 
room. This room proved to be that 
of the countess’s maid, and when the 
count had burst in, and discovered the 
retreat, the young countess had allowed 
her lover to escape under the pretence 
that he was a suitor of the maid. To 
this story, we, with Emmy, listen with 
little interest, but it afterwards finds its 
importance. Emmy does not feel the 
jealousy and dislike of her mother to 
wards the son of a woman who had 
treated her departed husband so ill. 
On the contrary, she has a still more 
tender feeling towards Arthur, as the 
son of a beautiful countess whose pic 
ture has already interested her. 
The scene of the second volume is 
placed in America, and is admirably 
well painted. Arthur lands in New 
York alone. He has not ventured to 
address Mrs. Forster or her daughter ; 
he has turned a cold shoulder upon 
Mr. Smith, their fellow-traveller, and 
upon one or two Germans who have 
ventured to address him. Shortly after 
his arrival he is robbed of the small 
amount of gold he had brought with 
him. His hotel-keeper and his consul 
inquire for his letters and the name of 
his banker. Of what avail is it to 
him that he explains that he came 
251 
away from his country in too great hurry 
to provide himself with letters ? What 
claim has he, what securities has he to 
offer, above those of the poorest emi 
grant besieging the consul’s door ? 
The history of these first few weeks 
after Arthur’s arrival is well told. The 
description of Broadway, of the Astor 
House, of his room up many flights of 
stairs, with the three pictures of ocean 
steamers, and the flies that were always 
hovering over and settling upon them, 
are all painted to the life. The busy 
crowd of men hurrying through the 
streets at first disgusts Arthur. They 
all seem selfishly rushing after one 
aim. But gradually he is interested 
in this intensity of life; he begins to 
respect this earnest pursuit of some 
thing. He reads American books, and 
finds described a character that may 
take the place of his ideal, the noble 
man,— it is that of “the gentleman.” 
But one day, faint with starvation, 
when he has gone to gaze once more 
at the windows of the house where his 
Emmy lives, and has been refused ad 
mittance there by the stern mother, he 
is found by the kindly Mr. Smith, who 
takes him finally to his own house, and 
cares for him through unconsciousness 
and fever. This Mr. Smith is a well- 
drawn character — an American who 
has travelled all over the world, can 
make acquaintance with everybody, 
with a certain want of refinement, but 
with a warmth of heart, which he dis 
plays in his care of Arthur. 
Arthur recovers, to find himself in a 
circle of young Americans. He won 
ders at the freedom of their discussions. 
He wonders and admires. He finds 
that even those who have no claim to 
office, are yet interested in the govern 
ment, and alive to all its interests. He 
himself goes to a political meeting 
where the Germans are discussing their 
position. He is drawn in to make a 
speech ; it is a success. It is printed 
in the “Tribune.” He finds himself
	        
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