« ForrigeFortsett »
the Archbishop of Mayence. The Metternichs were hereditary chancellors to the Archbishop of Cologne. The Stadions, sewers (or servers up of the meals) to the See of Augsburg. The Wurmbrands, cooks to the Counts of Styria. The Count Von der Lippe held the basin, and Count Bentheim poured the rose-water at table over the fingers of the Elector of Hesse-Cassel.'
In addition to these, another class arose; for the Emperors experienced so much opposition and lawless rebellion from their greater vassals, that they favoured a class of small landholders, called Free Imperial Knights, who always held by the Imperial Crown, but who in their turn asserted, and where possible established, their sovereignty over their petty estates. The sovereign Count of Leinburg-Styrum-Wilhelmsdorf in Franconia, for instance, had a standing army of hussars, consisting of a colonel, nine lower officers, and two privates. He published, however, his Court Gazette, and instituted an order in his diminutive realm. Baron Grote, in the Hartz, reigned over one farm, and when Frederic the Great came there, he met him with a fraternal embrace, saying, voilà deux souverains qui se rencontrent.
* At the close of the fourteenth century organised confederacies of these families' (the statesman Stein, who was the first to promote the abolition of serfdom in Prussia, belonged to one of them) were formed in Franconia, Swabia, and on the Rhine; and in 1422 the Emperor Sigismund took them under his protection, and confirmed them in their immunities. These also were "immediates,” but the princes would not allow them to be ebenbürtig (a word of still higher magic than unmittelbar, the practical meaning of which was intermarriageable) with themselves : for the Free Imperial Knights were only sovereigns on their own estates, whereas the princes were so on estates held in feof from the Emperor. The real reason, however, was that there were too many of them.'
Thus there had arisen not only two sorts of noblesse, a higher and a lower, but the first of the two subdivided into a higher and a highest. The 'too many of them,' in whatever grade-then as now—will be readily admitted. Yet it may be questioned whether the means adopted, not to prevent such intermarriages, but to neutralise the consequences, were not more reprehensible than any evil that could result from them. Forbidden fruit is proverbially sweet, and the fact that marriages or rather liaisons- were sure to be desired within these artificially interdicted degrees had to be provided for. Neither “immediates' normediates,' and there are thousands of them, are exactly the beings to refrain, even at their celestial height, from casting longing eyes on the daughters of
men. A compromise was therefore elaborated to effect a purpose without legalising it--to incur sacred obligations and to evade them—to bind a woman without binding themselves ---to raise up children without acknowledging them—to barter, for the base ambition of class-exclusiveness, a man's natural and noble right to elevate the wife of his choice and the children of his love to the same level with himself, to eliminate all that is loyal and manly from the tie – that compromise, in short, known by the name of a morganatic or left-handed marriage! The service is the same ; priest or pastor attends, whether in church or saloon; the lady wears wreath and veil, the gentleman uniform and orders; but the symbol of the dastardly compromise is set forth by the bridegroom's substitution of his left hand for his right! En Allemagne tout se
• ‘fait méthodiquement, même les plus grandes folies.'*
• The actual origin of the morganatic marriage would appear to derive from the times of serfdom, when, in the Volksrecht of • the several German races the law prevailed that in a marriage • between freemen and serfs, “ the children should follow the ““ inferior hand," namely, be servile.' But the law was not intended to go further. The Fürstenrecht gave it another meaning altogether, by making it applicable to the marriages of princes with the gentry and the burghers. Gentry and burghers were freemen, but the princes began to treat them as the freemen had treated the villeins-namely, to forbid intermarriage with them. The Volksrecht had established the law to keep Teutonic blood from intermixture; the Fürstenrecht used it to glorify the class of crown vassals at the
* It is difficult to trace the origin of the word morganatic.' The usually accepted etymology is from Morgengabe—the early form of German settlements '-being the gift bestowed by the husband or his
the wife, either in money or chattels, the morning after the marriage, which gift became her own inalienable property. When, therefore, a woman brought with her no marriage portion, which was held as a proof that she was not his equal in position, the marriage was called in the Latin of the time matrimonium in morgenaticam.' Still, as the Morgengabe was bestowed on all ladies alike (and is still kept up in the shape of jewellery among Russians of high rank to this day), it constituted no stigma, nor were marriages with portionless wives less sacred and binding. Again, as the children of morganatic marriages are not considered legitimate—inheriting only from the mother—the old legal definition na der Moder gan (to go according to the mother) has been conjectured to have given rise to the word. The more probable derivation, however, is that given in the German * Conversations Lexicon'-the Gothic word ‘morgian,' which means to shorten or limit.
' expense of others. Nothing of the sort,' Mr. Baring
' Gould observes, existed elsewhere.' He might have added neither in the Scriptures, nor in the ordinances of any Christian Church.
* The illegitimate children of a sovereign-English or Frenchhave been so because they were born out of wedlock, because they were the children of mistresses, not of wives. When a sovereign married out of royal blood—as James JI. Anne Hyde—the children were not only legitimate, but came to the throne. It was reserved for the descendants of cooks, sewers, and basin-holders, to tamper with the ordinances of religion in order to protect themselves from the degradation of possible alliance with the daughters of the highest English peers.* . . . An Englishman is startled to hear that a daughter of one of our oldest and noblest families is not deemed well born enough to mate with a lackland German prince, whose ancestors 150 years ago were gentlemen about court, and nothing else. A tradesman in Germany is “ well born," but the daughter of an Anglo-Norman house who marries the sixth son of a Prince Potz Tausend is looked upon in the same original light as the female offspring of a miserable serf.' † The faintest approach to a justification for this · legalised
be said to have existed when the ruler of a territory so reduced by subdivisions as to be inadequate for his support—he being a widower and with legitimate sons-contracted a union of this kind in order that the children by it should not increase the burdens of the people by still further divisions of the land. But in many instances it has not even answered the semblance of the legality it travesties. For, under the pretext of avoiding the scandal of open sin, the laxity of the Lutheran Church has sanctioned a state of things
* In the sixteenth century the jurists in Germany took up the question, and decided that marriage, like the sacraments, rendered all parties equal; while as regards the offspring they quoted the text if children, then heirs.' They also instanced the patriarch Jacob as having admitted the sons of a handmaiden to share with his other sons. Neither cases were much to the point, it must be owned, for neither illustrated the equality and sanctity of marriage; nor were the deciders, not being noble themselves, considered competent to criticise the acts of the Bund.' The custom accordingly was maintained.
† This form of arrogance has descended even to new-made 'vons,' and reached the lowest point of caricature in the person of an illustrious individual—with the highest claims to genius, but, as the grandson of a tailor, with none to birth—the greatest of thinkers, but, it must be owned, no less the greatest of tuft-hunters-namely, Johann Wolfgang v. Göthe, who only bestowed his left hand in his marriage with Christina Vulpius.
for which there is no other English word than Bigamy-much as if a man should obtain leave to lie in order to prevent him from stealing. This is the great blot on the cause of the Reformation in Germany-what the Roman priests called die
weite Conscientien,' or the wide consciences of Luther and Melanchthon; by which they permitted Philip, Landgraf of Hesse-Cassel (1509–1567), his lawful wife being alive, to take unto himself a Zufrau—a word for which, happily, we have no equivalent—to the scandal of true religion and the erection of an infamous precedent. Philip's brother-in-law, a Kurfürst of Brandenburg—also a Protestant--is stated to have declared that he never knew a stupider act, and that it must have cost
the devil no little contrivance to have placed such a stumbling.block in the way of the Gospel.' Of the Emperor Ferdinand also it is said that but for this outrage to Christianity he would have been inclined to join the Reformation. There was no lack of wide consciences who took shelter under the authority of the great Reformers to do the same. Nor did Bigamy satisfy in one known instance, for the Markgraf Leopold Eberhardt of Würtemberg indulged himself in three wives at once. Even as late as 1787 the Berlin Consistory, quoting the precedent of Luther and Melanchthon, sanctioned a morganatic marriage between Frederick William the Fat, of Prussia and a Fräulein Voss; the Queen, a Princess of Darmstadt, giving her consent on the condition that her gambling debts were paid. The consequences of such dereliction of all those standards by which society is held together need no description. The times may be over in Germany when such scandals can be openly enacted in high places, but the morganatic marriage, ‘nine times out of ten the infatuation
of a Grand Duke for an opera dancer,' remains an expedient disgraceful to the country which invented and permits it.
What between the laws of caste and those of marriage, the German woman, it must be owned, has an unenviable position. As, in Germany, his supposed inferior birth is always a bar to a man, so her supposed inferior sex is always a reproach to a woman. It is curious, for instance, that these multitudinous and undying titles, so all-important in the person of the man, lose all their significance when borne by a woman. A baron or count gives his title alike to sons and daughters; and the ladies, even when only blessed with a 'von,' assume the unlimited use of the coronet on linen and writing-paper; but unless they consent to remain old maids, of which there are too many, these coronets go for nothing! If they marry, this inherited rank departs altogether into space. Birthright
does not exist for the German lady. An English baroness or countess in her own right—and this, every German baroness and countess assumes to be-retains her title, let her marry whom she will; and transmits it at her death to her eldest son; or, if her husband be of hereditary rank, to her second son. A Spanish lady does inore, for she raises her husband, if a commoner, to her own rank. Louis Napoleon, had he lost every other dignity, would at least have remained Count Theba. But no such prerogatives fall to the lot of the German lady. She shares her husband's title if she marries a man of her own station; otherwise she falls between two stools. If she aspires to one above her, she can neither share, nor her children inherit, his rank. If she condescends to one below her, she forfeits her own rank, and is not even allowed to transmit it to her offspring. It is the old fable of the wolf and the lamb: there is always an excuse for eating her up.
Altogether Germany is not, and has apparently never been, the Paradise of women. There is no language in which appear so many proverbs uncomplimentary to the trustworthiness of ladies, whether in morals or in money, as in German ; no literature where, with few exceptions, their characters are made so barbarous or so weak; no country where they meet, high or low, with so little respect, and where there is so little social union between the sexes. It is true the German ladies have not spoken for themselves. They may say both of the proverbs and the literature, as the lion in the fable, that had they written them the tables would have been turned on the other sex. Still, the proverbs remain a proof of what German men wished German women to be thought, and the literature of what they wished them to be. In this lies the clue to the causes that underlie this state of society-viz., the character of the man himself. Woman seeks to fulfil the beau idéal that the man of her race has conceived of her; what he wants and wishes for, she, generally speaking, strives to be. The structure of German life, it must be confessed, as well as the tendency of their writings, is not indicative of a lofty ideal in this respect. If we look back to the dim history of the Northern peoples, we find their characteristics pretty much the same. The area where German is now spoken was occupied as now by several races, all contending with each other, in pre-historic fashion, till the times for their united southern exodus had come. The man of these races was a strong,
distinguished equally by a courage and barbarity of a Zulu type, with the rudiments of power and government in him, but untempered by any of those finer gifts which arose by inter