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NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE.
WID D L E ZI G.
BY THE EDITOR.
So much has been said and written on the truism touching the turning of great events upon small ones, that it might seem, in the year 1838—(alas ! before this reaches the reader's eye, it will be 1839) something like a work of supererogation to endeavour to bring any thing to light, which has for its avowed object a further illustration of a doctrine so universally received. But having, in a pursuit after light reading for leisure hours, discovered, some six weeks since, a work in eleven volumes (large quarto), written by a shamefully-neglected German author—the Baron Von Zlippzlopp--devoted to a new exemplification of the wonderful results of trifes, I could not resist the desire of bringing it in some shape before my readers.
Having, in the course of a month, skimmed the surface of the work, it appeared to me that a literal translation, of Baron Zlippzlopp's eleven volumes would be somewhat too much for the generality of English readers; and although the liberality of our leading publishers (there are exceptions to all general rules) never was more remarkable than at the present moment, still it seemed doubtful whether even the princely munificence of Albemarle-street itself, could be justly exhibited towards go elaborated a history, turning, as it does, upon a subject which I-perhaps unjustly as regards the baron-conceived might be Pemmicaned into a comparatively few pages. If, in consequence of my presumptuous endeavours to compress, I destroy the effect of his eleven volumes, my only comfort is, that the Baron Zlippzlopp now rests under the floor of the church of St. Peter at Heidelberg, not likely to be disturbed by the noise of reviews or the explosion of magazines.
The history of Widdlezig-unquestionably true-is one which, I fear, must suffer much from the compression of which I speak; but it will suffer more from the necessary omission of the baron's reflections and considerations, comparisons and deductions, and all such other adjuncts to the main history. However, if the incidents which occur in the course of the narrative seem to come huddling on, helter-skelter, too rapidly, and without due and prudential well-regulated order, the reader must make allowances, from knowing that eleven volumes of philosophy and argument have been, for the especial service of this month, squeezed into twice as many pages.
I have taken one liberty with the author, which, considering he is in Jan.-VOL. LV. NO. CCXVII.
grave, I have done with the greater security. His book is written in the first person, and Widdlezig's story is made a narrative I have ventured to let Widdlezig speak for himself, and instead of trusting to Zlippzlopp's interpretation, allow him, as I find him capable of doing, to express his own feelings under all the curious circumstances with which he was mixed up.-Henceforth then, WIDDLEZIG LOQUITUR.
“ So my dear Baron Zlippzlopp, you are anxious to hear my history," said I, to the dearest friend I ever had, and the soundest philosopher I ever knew.
“ I am," said Zlippzlopp. " Well then
And after this, I shall omit all the questions and answers, 47,586 of which, with their answers, occupy four volumes and a half of the work, and let Widdlezig's narrative go on, as if he were publishing his memoirs, instead of conversing with his friend.
It is a wise child that knows his own father, said I (Widdlezig)—to know his mother is not quite so difficult an affair ; but I knew neither father nor mother. My male parent, as I have since learned, was somewhere about seventy when he married my female parent, who was at the time twenty-two, and from what I can collect, particularly fond of hussars and poodles. After the honeymoon, when my respectable father, whose appearance at the time of his third marriage (having had no issue by the two first), with my mother, reminded every body who saw him of the official description of a line-of-battle ship in an admiralty-list, pierced for eighty-two, but carrying seventy-four, chose to make a tour of Europe with his lady, partly to amuse her and partly to avoid the remarks of his kind and considerate friends and neighbours. They were accompanied by a Count Waggenheim, and a beautiful milk-white curly poodle-quite a love of a dog—to whom it appeared the young Baroness Widdlezig's affections were devoted; or if not exclusively devoted, divided only by the charming Waggenheim.
Well, of all the beauty of the tour, and all the odd adventures, and the
way in which my poor dear father walked out at this place to see a view, or rode out at another place to see a friend, or how my young mother staid at home when my father was out, or how she went out when he staid at home, or how the poodle was washed and curled, or how the Count Waggenheim and the Baroness sang duets in the shade in the summer, or took exercise in the cool of the autumn, or whatever it was, I, of course, recollect nothing, seeing that I was not born; but, at last, I was born ; and, although unconscious of the fact at the time myself, I have since heard, that however delighted my father might have been at such an acquisition, my mother, whose habits, tastes, and principles had conduced to make her think that such a“ pledge” (as a child is called) was a most inconvenient addition to the travelling party, considered me as something which would greatly interfere with the comforts of their journey aster her recovery, and especially with the accommodation of her darling poodle, for which, as we have seen, she had the greatest regard.
Now, it so happened, that, in the town where my dear parent's confinement-quite unexpected by my father, for they had not been married
more than seven months—took place, a certain Mr. Von Doddle, a most worthy and exemplary protestant clergyman, with a very charming wife, was established. Mr. Von Doddle christened me, and my mother was charmed with Mr. Von Doddle; and so, after numerous discussions with two physicians, the Von Doddles, and Count Waggenheim, my mother, balancing in her mind the danger of moving so young an infant as myself on a tour, in the absence of any nurse whom she could trust, or of accommodation for her, if such a person could be foundthe inconvenience of having so young a child in the carriage, and the difficulty of finding a place for the poodle, who could not bear the variations of the weather outside, in case the child were brought in, induced my affectionate mother to leave me in charge of the Von Doddles.
All this is of course traditionary, as far as I am concerned I knew nothing of it. I felt no pang at parting with my parents, and as I was not conscious of their presence then, so never did I see them afterwards, although my father and mother lived many years after I was born, when the poodle died, I never exactly ascertained-of Count Waggenheim I knew more afterwards.
The Von Doddles were good, kind people, and as I grew up I loved the Von Doddles, and whatever allowance they had for educating me, I am sure they behaved liberally to me, but I never was sent for. My mother, although she knew I was hers, did not want a growing boy to come home and make her look an old mother; and my father, from something that occurred after his return with Count Waggenheim, did not feel so much paternal affection as he might perhaps have entertained for me, if he had not been blessed with two or three kind friends who hinted to him the advantage he might derive, and the increase he might secure to his domestic happiness, if he would but just watch under such a window on such a night, or wait in such a passage on another night, or burst into his lady's chamber at such an hour, or break open her writing-desk or dressing-case at some other. So, between my papa and my mamma, I was left pursuing my education at Mr. Von Doddle's till I was hard upon
of For seven years before this period I recollect how kind and indulgent the good Von Doddle was to me. He never troubled me to learn any thing—never scolded me-never beat me-never saw wrong in the thing I did. He knew I must in time become Baron Widdlezig, and therefore he treated me with all due tenderness; and the Von Doddles had a little daughter about my own age, with black eyes, and black curly hair, and pretty feet and ancles, and such rosy lips! and Von Doddle and his wife were delighted to see us play about together; and Von Doddle used to look at Mrs. Von Doddle and say, “ I should not wonder, eh?”—And Mrs. Von Doddle would look at Mr. Von Doddle and say, “Nonsense, dear,”—by which, from putting one thing and another together, I have since made up my mind that they thought Bertha Von Doddle would some day become Baroness Widdlezig. I know I loved her then, better than any thing in the world.
Every month letters came from my father or my mother saying that the next week I was to be fetched home; but I believe the longer my legs grew, the less my young mother wanted to see me at our house ; for I must, when I was fourteen, have been taller than herself, and as she detested my person when I was a baby, it was by no means
likely that she would approve of it at a later period; so I went on not caring, and every day growing fonder of Bertha, who was so quick, and so clever, and taught me all sorts of things in natural history, which set me all agog to become a practical zoologist; and I used to hunt after specimens for her little museum for hours, too happy if I could bring home any thing which would obtain from her one of her sweet smiles.
At last came the letter— I was to be sent for the next week—taken to the home of my father, and duly received at the castle of Widdlezig -and, oh! what a day it was to me! Wholly estranged from my parents by conduct which I was quite old enough to think extremely unnatural, and devoted to Bertha.-Oh! Bertha was so pretty, such a sweet little figure! I could not help crying bitterly when I heard the summons read which was in seven days to tear me from my dear playfellow-it had just grown to something more than that, I loved Berthaand I know why I never will tell,—but I know that dear Bertha
All preparations were made for my departure. Von Doddle was exceedingly out of spirits-he had his views. Mrs. Von Doddle did not like to part with me, good kind woman, and Bertha did nothing but cry, bless her little kind affectionate heart-I could not bear to see it beat, which I did, as her bosom heaved up and down under the tucker she had recently taken to wear.
It seemed perhaps unnatural to shrink from going to my home--but I was in fact going from my home. Cast off in favour of a poodle dog, I had been left for nearly fourteen years, until my poor father-I mean the venerable husband of my beautiful mother-had reached an age when his eyes could scarcely have been gladdened by my appearance, even supposing they had not been opened several years before, and I own that the bitterest pang I had ever yet felt, was that which was occasioned by the certainty that I was to quit the Von Doddles in four or five days.
The morning after the arrival of the fatal mandate, as I could not sleep at night, I was up early in hopes of meeting Bertha ; but she, poor girl, had cried herself, as her maid told me, into a regular fever, and could not leave her little bed. I did not know what to do: I did not know by what means I could best show her my anxiety to please her. I ate my breakfast with Von Doddle—his wife did not breakfast with us; and after an affecting dialogue with him, he went to do duty in his church, and I sauntered out in a state of abstraction.
All at once I saw flying just before me one of those beautiful butterflies which the unlearned entomologist calls the “ Emperor.” It was the very thing dear Bertha wanted for her little museum. I delighted in the pursuit to catch it for ber—it diverted my mind while it excited my feelings, and between boyish emulation and something very like the desire to please a being I loved, I resolved to hunt him down. Away he went--so did I. I had no trap but my hat, and my great fear was, although many opportunities occurred, that by a premature or hasty coup I might destroy his beauties in the capture.
Fluttering through the air went the gaudy creature. I stole behind it, —but whether it were fate, or whether the mere instinct of the insect, I do not know; the faster I pursued, the faster it few; till at length, fatigued irritated, and excited by fifty feelings,-forty, at
least, of which were new to my heart-I swore, as roundly as a boy of fourteen dare swear, that Bertha should have the butterfly, if I died for it. Whether butterflies are in the habit of swearing I do not pretend to surmise, but certainly the “ Emperor," seemed as desperately resolved to thwart me as I was to catch him. I am sure I followed him four good miles, and that in a direction from Von Doddle's house in which we never took exercise, inasmuch as the hills behind were skirted by a thick forest and underwood which were said to be the resort of banditti by whom all the neighbouring villages and passing travellers were constantly plundered, and from which, indeed, the inhabitants were warned by the police of the district.
What cared I for this ? it would make my adventure the more romantic-it would make Bertha love me better. Oh! that was it-?I found out the object of my heart, precisely at the moment that I had my hat over the butterfly and slipped nearly up to my chin in a thick muddy bog.-Butterfly off as lively as ever !
Under these circumstances I confess I roared out lustily; not expecting that I should be heard, but merely as an effort to do something, as I felt myself“ sadly sinking” into the quagmire. I thought of Bertha and the pastor, when all at once I felt myself grasped by what seemed the iron hand of a giant-for when one has been butterfly-hunting for a couple of hours a man seems gigantic—who dragging me out of the mire said, in a voice of thunder, “What are you doing here, you young spy?
?” "Spy!" said I, terrified almost to death by the appearance of my deliverer, who was a huge man with a savage-looking beard, wearing, moreover, two pistols in his belt,“ - I have been hunting a butterfly, sir."
“Very likely !" said the man.“ A fellow with long legs like yours may be better employed than hunting butterflies.”
" It was an Emperor," said I earnestly.
“An Emperor !” said the fellow—"come, none of your nonsense. If it were the Pope himself who sent you as a spy upon us, you are not likely to go back to tell him what you have seen.”
“ I have seen nothing,” said I.
Whether I had meditated a refusal or not, would have made but very little difference on the present occasion, for having given me the hospi. table invitation to go somewhere--whither I knew not—he stuck two of his hard iron knuckles into my shirt-collar and forced me to do his bidding—not without once or twice muttering great imprecations against my excellent pastor.
Having proceeded through the thicket for about half an hour, the worthy gentleman who favoured me with his protection, brought me to an open space, some forty or fifty yards square, when applying a whistle to his mouth, and giving a blast which made even the distant hills reverberate, he hearkened for a responsive signal, which soon was heard, and