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III. The Young Anglers ............
FASHION, MUSIC, AND ROMANCE.
A TALE OF THE THIRTY YEARS WAR.
On Christmas-eve, in the year 1628, Katharine, the wife of the merchant Fessel, of Schweidnitz, was standing in her large back parlour, with her infant upon her arm, arranging with feminine taste, upon a long table covered with a snowwhite cloth, the Christmas gifts destined for her husband, her children, and the other members of her family.
At a table in the corner, sat the book-keeper, Oswald Dorn, giving the finishing touch to a miniature manger, which he had ingeniously constructed for the children of his employer. He now placed a beautifully painted angel, cut out of isinglass, in the side of the manger in which the infant Saviour lay, for the purpose of indicating the celestial mission of the heavenly messenger by its transparent brilliancy. He gave yet another satisfied look at the well-executed work, and then approached Katharine, who had, meanwhile, spread out an infinite variety of useful and agreeable presents, articles of dress, pieces of coin, books, toys, &c. She was now distributing to each one his portion of cakes, sweet biscuits, sugar animals, gingerbread, apples, and nuts, with just impartiality. In deep thought, the book-keeper took from the table two figures formed of Schweidnitz gingerbread. They represented two of Dr. Martin Luther's enemies, Tetzel, and Eck, in their official robes, disfigured with the heads of animals. The names inscribed on them left no doubt whom they were intended to represent. Dorn examined the caricatures with an ominous shake of the head. “ Do not give these ill-shaped things to the children,” said he. “ Believe me, it is not well for them to be so early taught to make war upon opinions which they do not understand. Mockery and derision are bad aids to the holy cause, and the hand, which grasps filth to throw at an ad
versary, is itself the first soiled. The bitterness, with which the struggle for truth and spiritual freedom has been carried on, has already spread enough of suffering and misery over Europe. Let not the demon of sectarian zeal intrude itself into the nursery.
“ You take everything in the same earnest and serious way," jestingly answered the friendly Katharine, laying the cari. cature figures aside..“ Who that heard you would suppose you had bravely drawn your sword for the new faith yourself? The red scar upon your forehead contradicts your words."
“ You are right,” cried Dorn with emotion. “I have wielded the sword for the new faith. A bold captain of daring robbers, I have achieved many a deed of arms under this pretext; but daily do I pray to God to pardon me for it!"
He hastened away. The reverend Johannes Beer, who had entered the room unnoticed at the commencement of this conversation, looked after him with astonishment, and then asked the hostess : “that young man talks very strangely-may he not be a papist in disguise, sent into this house as a spy for our destruction ?"
“ By no means !", cried Katharine with zeal. 6. You know, my worthy sir, that he was wounded fighting for the Augsburg confession, and during the two years he has dwelt under our roof, he has constantly evinced so true an attachment for us, and such a noble zeal against the tyranny of the pope, that I would answer for his honesty with my life.”
“ You judge of others according to the goodness of your own heart !" cried the parson. “ Believe me, in the iron times in which we live one cannot be too cautious. One Judas was found even among the apostles. Many a one who was a Paul for the pure evangelical doctrines has fallen from the faith, and now rages an angry Saul again st his former brethren. The devil has once more become wholly devilish, and the antichrist again goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. The emperor, incited by the monks, has determined to effect a counter reformation in Silesia ; and already in Glogau, the Lichtensteins,* those terrible men of blood, who convert by fire and sword, are raging in a furious and shocking manner.
Ah, reverend sir," complained Katharine, invited you to share our jogs and partake with us of the festival of our Lord; but by repeating such dreadful news you will
* The name of one of the im perial regiments, composed of catholics.
embitter all our enjoyments, and convert our Christmas supper into a mourning feast.”
* It is the duty of a faithful pastor," said the clergyman, " to frighten away the sleep of safety into which we are rocked by ease and selfishness. Our good Schweidnitz will also have to suffer in its turn. Have they not already taken from us the honourably purchased church of the cross, and the church of our dear lady of the woods ? Have they not already forbidden us the service of God in the church of the Holy Ghost? They will surely take the earliest opportunity to do the same with St. Stanislaus and St. Wenceslaus. Various suspicious signs and tokens have lately been seen. As I was observing the stars last night, with my colleague Glogero, the constellations were very ominous; and about midnight a fearful sign arose in the heavens from the north. A large red ball of fire described a flaming arch from the edge of the horizon to the zenith of the parish church, where it burst with a powerful explosion. It indicates the near proximity of great danger to our religious liberties."
During this speech so prophetic of evil, Katharine, with a happy feminine tact, contrived to forget the threatened troubles amid the little cares of the moment, and proceeded to ignite the innumerable lights of the Christmas-trees, and those placed in the little manger for the purpose of illuminating its interior, The brightness of day was diffused through the large room, which awaked the child upon her bosom, and it smilingly stretched out its little hands toward the joyous light,
" See how my little Johannes is delighted," said the mother to the gloomy man, “ Careless of the threatening future, he enjoys the present. Does not our Holy Bible say,
66 unless you become like little children you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven !” Therefore leave the portentous future to the wise guidance of God, and be happy with us to-night, for once, like this harmless child. Above all, be silent in my husband's presence, respecting your bad news. He has been very anxious and dejected for some days, and I shall be much grieved if anything occur to render us unhappy this evening, to which Christians
of all denominations look with general joy as the anniversary of their common origin."
One of Fessel's apprentices now opened the door. “My master directs me to say to you,” cried he, "
you may imme diately commence the distribution of the presents, before it is too late. He has yet much to do in the counting-room. Two
important letters have arrived. He will come to you at the earliest moment possible.”
“ That is not at all pleasant !" sighed Katharine, as the messenger disappeared. “There can be no true family festival where the master of the house is missing. Nevertheless, my husband is right! If I delay much longer, the supper will be spoiled and everything will be in disorder.” She rang a bell which stood upon the table. A distant shout of children answered the noisy summons. She rang a second time, when the shouts came nearer, and a joyous tumult arose at the door of the room. She now put down the bell, and looked pleasedly toward the door, before which the whispering, laughing, and tramping band awaited the third call.
“ They must wait a little,” said Katharine, smiling, to the clergyman. “ It seasons the pleasure, and is a wholesome lesson for youth, when early taught.” The holy man nodded assent to the pedagogical artifice; but meanwhile the mother's heart began to yield, and impelled Katharine's hand toward the bell,
The third call now sounded, when the door burst open as if at the explosion of a petard, and the four children of Fessel, two vigorous boys and two lovely girls, stormed into the room, surrounding and dragging their favourite, the book-keeper, along with them. After them followed the clerks, apprentices, servants, and maidens, who modestly arranged themselves in a row near the door until their places where pointed out to them.
The children precipitated themselves toward the richly laden table like a rushing stream, recognizing the portion destined for each with a searching and rapid glance.
" I will draw this against Wallenstein!” screamed the wild Martin, brandishing a little sword that he found among his presents. A Bible and a bunch of quills,' cried the intellectual Ulrich, holding them
I will write against the papists like the noble Hutten, whose name I bear." “ Alas, the poor maidens who can never be married !” cried both of the girls, bringing two waxen nuns to their mother.
“ Beloved children !” said the clergyman, pressing them all to his heart. They tore themselves from his arms and broke out in a simultaneous shout of astonishment and joy upon observing the miniature manger. Then as if beside themselves they ran, tumbling over each other, to their mother, the clergyman and Dorn, thankfully showing and praising their several presents,