The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
Heinerle: The Peasant Artist.

by Emil Frommel.
Volume 3, 1892/93, pgs. 702-709

Translated from the German by K. W. Bent. (With permission.)


Chapter III. Dissatisfaction

But with his evening studies it did not go as smoothly as he thought. Since her Huber's death Frau Huber had become much quieter. She had not imagined before what it was to be a widow, but now she knew. And she had often said:

"Ah, if only my Huber was still alive, even if he were obliged to sit up in bed, and I tend to him all my life long, if only he were still living!" And she felt like the vine-prop from which the branch has been cut, or withered away, and which does not know why it is left standing in the vineyard; and many a time she longed to lay herself down and die too. This was why she felt so forlorn when Heiner talked in this way. And this time she accompanied him a much longer distance than usual towards his new home, and gave him what she thought he liked; and for the Master she had made up some special butter. But she noticed that her Heiner, amiable as he was to her, embracing and kissing her had something about him which she could not account for, and a hundred times she thought of Huber, and a hundred times the godfather, but a thousand times of Heinerle.

He worked diligently, for there was a rider pursuing him who has slain many with his fiery-coloured horse. And he who rode behind him and chased him was "Lord Ambition," who has a great band across the breast with stars upon it, and on the head a laurel crown, which pricks now and then, and on the boots a sharp spur, which inflames every wound. When Heiner saw how the others did it, and how the Master succeeded in his work, he could almost have wept, and often on Sundays he set to and drew the same foliage a thousand times, in order to be able to do it on Monday. At last he thought that it was because he was obliged to go to the watchmaker (at which the gentlemen had already laughed) and it would be better if he stuck to art and could draw at night. When he next came to his mother, he proposed to her that she should sell a little field and give him the money, so that he need not go to the watchmaker's any more, for otherwise he could not turn out a real artist. And he managed to represent it to her in such a manner that all scruples were removed, for she feared lest the godfather might not be pleased at it. So she sold the last field that she had, and comforted herself with the thought that her Heiner would be able to pay it all back again when he once became a great artist. Each quarter he should take as much as he needed of the money.

Chapter IV. Quits the Watchmaker

Full of happiness, he went back a few days after to the watchmaker's to give him warning. He was really very much vexed, and said:

"Huber, you have a hard head but a couple of great horns upon it which lead you astray. I have already said it often. Remain in the trade, and leave the painters, if you would not become a beggar. I am older than you are and have seen more of the world, but believe me, watches go right with very few people and they set them as they will and as they use them. If, indeed, you have quite made up your mind not to stick to watch-making, I will quote something for you to take away with you which I once heard from an old man:

       'If Art demands entrance at a house,
       They make answer: the host is absent.
       If Wisdom is attracted thither,
       She finds the door closed.
       If Modesty and Honour come with the same claim,
       They must be off the same way.
       If Love and Faith would gladly enter,
       No one will be a porter to them.
       If Truth comes and knocks at the door,
       She will have to stand a long time outside.
       If Uprightness begs admittance,
       Chains and bolts will bar the door.
       But if a penny comes running that way,
       It finds gate and door wide open.'

"Sir," said Heinerle, "That is a useful proverb. It is just what my godfather always said; you must write that out for me at parting."

"You shall have it, Huber. God be with you, and if you are in want, then take to your trade again, for Art goes a-begging."

But, to Heinerle, the beauty of it seemed that in Art one must combat want, for the students had said that it was consistent with being a great artist, for they all had money in abundance to-day, and none to-morrow. So he took leave of the watchmaker and betook himself to Art in right good earnest. For as he no longer went to the watchmaker's, he remained sitting longer at the studio, and the gentlemen allowed him to accompany them at once on a hot summer's day. After they had sketched from Nature they turned into an inn and remained sitting there till late into the night, and this was very pleasant to Heinerle, who quite forgot that he had no latchkey. Out of doors they told tales and sang, and one of them played more skillfully upon the violin than Heiner had ever heard before; and four of them sang a quartet, and the peasants of the village stood outside at the garden gate and listened to them, and Heiner felt like a famous man whilst he was allowed to sit with gentlemen. But one of them said to him:

"Huber, do you know nothing but the song that you always sing at the grindstone?"

For Heiner sang at any monotonous employment a Lindelbronn song which was only on two notes, and this he hummed only softly to himself; but in the morning when he sang they were not there. So they were astonished beyond measure when he placed himself in position, and said: "I will sing one to the gentlemen if they will not take it amiss; for it is an old song of my godfather's, and describes all the birds." And with a full clear voice he began to sing a song in imitation of the different woodland birds; and telling of their habits.

Heiner had finished his song and hung his head. Then all the rest applauded and one exclaimed: "What a fellow you are, Huber! Where have you learnt that song?--you can sing it just like a bird!"

"All from my godfather," said he. "There are many more verses; my godfather always said every one who loved birds must know the bird-song."

And now, for the first time after more than two years, he told them about his godfather on the way home, and his life there with him: and he became very vivacious about it, and it would all have been well, if one of them had not said a little word which made him sad. When he took leave, one of them took him aside and said: "Huber, by rights you should have remained at your godfather's, that would have been wiser."

After this speech Heinerle could not sleep. The old widow, who had been sitting up for him in some anxiety, let her light shine on his face and in his eyes, and thought to herself, Huber is no longer as he used to be. From that time forth he grew dejected, and if he had not been ashamed to do so, he would have run home to his mother without waiting for the quarter-day. For home sickness overcame him, and he was ashamed that he had talked about his godfather, and then he was sorry, for it seemed to him as if he had betrayed him by talking about him. There is many a one who would give untold gold if he could recall a little word. And it tormented Heinerle, and tossed him backwards and forwards. But he drew all the more diligently and read much, and yet he could not feel happy.

The master noticed this, and although he did not usually speak much, and only corrected his work now and then, and gave him directions, yet he addressed him one morning early: "Huber, why don't you sing any more as you used to do? I don't hear you sing at all. You have become so thin, too. What is the matter with you?"

And Heinerle stammered out a word or two, of which the master could make nothing, so that he only said at last: "Huber, you must become cheerful again, and get fat cheeks, else it's nothing." But nothing further was discussed.

When he returned home next time to his mother, and the shutter was put back and the "Heinerle, good-night" again greeted him, he could not help crying. And all day through he was absent-minded, and never answered anything right; and Frau Huber thought that he was ill and should stay in bed. But he would not; and with a heavy heart she accompanied him down the mountain slope again.

On the next day she set out for the godfather's in order to ask his advice; but she found the whole house locked up; and the people in the village to her that he had gone away to his friends more than a fortnight since, and the boy who slept in the house at night said that he would remain away some time longer. That put the climax to her troubles, and as she sat again under the crucifix, she thought how she had sat there with Huber and Heiner, and how differently things would have gone if she had only been more docile and not persisted in having her own way. Heinerle could not forget his mother's sad face, and felt for the first time how he hung upon her, and set it before himself to work right conscientiously so as to be able to support his mother. He often sat the whole day at his work with nothing but a dry crust of bread to eat.

One morning he found his bullfinch lying dead in his cage. The widow had placed the cage in the window and a strange cat had overthrown it and seized the bird by the wings, and it had torn itself away in its agony and bled to death. It made him very miserable happening just then, and he buried him in the garden and planted a rose-bush over his grave, and was as sad for a couple of days as if his best friend were dead. And yet the bird had become his accuser and a bad conscience in the house for Heinerle. For he sang no more, "Awake my heart," and prayed no more, and where his godfather's place in the Bible was, he had not known for a long time. When a little lamp is no longer fed with oil it goes out, even when it is not blown out.

Once more the students were sitting together on an evening in the fourth winter, and after they had related many things, and had drawn Heinerle duly into it, it was agreed that each should say what he liked best in the world, and it should go round the circle. And the first said this, and the second that, and the third said "Art," and the fourth his "Bride," and the fifth mentioned Uhland the Poet, until at last it came to Heinerle's turn. "Now, Huber," they all cried," what will you declare, what do you like best?" Heinerle was embarrassed, turned about on his chair, and replied at last:

"I won't say it."

"That won't do," cried they all. "We have all said it; out with it."

"Well, then, if you must know, I will tell you. Look you, when I go to Lindelbronn every quarter, however late it is, even if it's past midnight, as I go up into my room, the shutter above is thrown open, and my mother looks out and exclaims: 'Good-night, Heinerle! Heinerle, good-night!' Look you, gentlemen, that is the dearest thing in the world to me." And as he said that, he took up his cap quickly, without any one seeing him, and ran out of the door. The students sat there disconcerted.

"That fellow Heiner is a fine example," said one, "that must be allowed him. A fellow full of poetry and sensibility."

"What is the good of sensibility, if one brings it to nothing? One's living is not to be made out of it. He is still enveloped in the swaddling-clothes of his village; he is a peasant and remains one." "You can't tell what may be made of him yet, Ratcatcher," said a third, calling the last speaker by his nickname. "If you had as much heart as he, it would do you no harm."

"Ah! what's the heart! the head is the main thing, and the hand makes the artist," replied the first speaker.

"Oh, Uhland!" sighed the Uhland worshipper (who came from Swabia), "if you could have heard this babble."

So the conversation ran on for a little while longer about Heinerle, till they wished each other "Good-night."

Chapter V. Apprenticeship Ends.

After that evening, however, Heinerle was even more shy than formerly. Only he who had taken his part drew him aside once and said to him, "Listen Huber, I like you, because you are a thoroughly good-hearted fellow. Your student time is nearly up, and you know enough to maintain yourself. You must see the world, and once out in the world, as all of us are, light will dawn upon you. Perhaps there is a bit of the artist in you, which will come out abroad."

Heiner started at him in astonishment, and said: "Then I am no artist, and am I all wrong?"

"Listen Huber," said he, "I will tell you the plain truth. You are still a workman, but no artist. That is another thing. You are even no genius, and that belongs to it. All the others are not so either; I and the master alone are. But you can produce nothing and bring it to the light. Listen what you should do when you have served your time; go to your godfather--he seems to be a thoroughly sensible man--and tell him you would like to travel for a time, and then go to Italy, and take a little money with you for the way. There you will find out the difference. But don't talk of it to any one." Heinerle promised it and considered the matter, and found that was what was wanting to him; and from that time he became more contented, and read all he could get hold of about Italy, and all day long sang the song:

       "Know'st thou the land where bloom the citron bowers,
       Where the golden orange lights the dusky grove?
       High waves the laurel there, the myrtle flowers,
       And through a still blue heaven the sweet winds rove.
       Know'st thou it well?
                     There, there with thee,
       O friend! O loved one! fain my steps would flee."
                     --Hemans (Trans.)

His advisor had also furnished him with the song. His apprenticeship came to an end. The old Master was often ill, and his delicate chest would not permit any more work. So he let Heiner come to his bedside, and told him to bring all his drawings and copper engravings, and wrote out his certificate for him with a trembling hand.

"You have behaved very steadily, and if you are industrious, Huber, you will not fail to get on. Where are you going now?"

"To Italy," said Heiner, promptly and cheerfully.

"To Italy?" replied the old man, slowly; "Ah, yes, it is indeed, beautiful there, and whoever has been there once cannot forget it. But whether it is the thing for you is another question. You must indeed see much, and gain a true idea of Art. But in Italy, it may happen that you lose the desire for it. But God go with you, and if I live, you can return to me again. You shall have letters and introductions, and I have also put up something for you." And he handed him a little purse with some gold in it: "You have earned that in the last year, and you should have it for your journey. Only keep your good habits, and bring no disgrace upon Art and your old Master."

Heiner stood by the bed, and wept bitterly, and he would rather have stayed there, but he thought there was no more to be done there, and every one must travel if he would be a Master. So he took leave, and did not know how to thank his Master enough; and the students gave him a banquet, and told him of all the delightful things which there are in foreign countries; and he went away from them full of gratitude, to his mother's. She had not expected him, so for the first time the shutter was not thrown up, and he heard no greeting. But when he told her what his intention was, she was frightened to death, and thought he might as well leap over the high crags in the Black Forest, for she would never see him again. She begged him to go with her to the godfather's, who, perhaps, would be at home again. But Heiner was shy of him for he had not answered many of his letters, and the reader guesses why; and he knew also that his godfather had not agreed to his mother's selling the field, and to his leaving the watchmaker's, and so he entreated his mother to let him off going, for he meant to go away, and no one could hinder him from it. So he soon had his knapsack buckled on, and his money twisted up in his pocket, and taking his painter's umbrella and campstool with him, took leave of his relations with a cheerful spirit, and, at last, of his mother also.

(To be continued.)

Proofread by LNL, Oct. 2023