Page:Hoffmann's strange stories. From the German .. (IA hoffmannsstrange00hoff).pdf/10

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6

HOFFMANN.

he would have cultivated the arts with an immense affection; deprived as he was of all patrimony, his friends demonstrated to him that the study of the law could alone give him bread; he became a law student. But he often threw aside the Pandects and the Institutes to take by turns his pencil, his bow, or his pen. The supernatural already furrowed deep wrinkles on his youthful forehead, but his friend Hippel was as yet the only confidant of his adventurous dreams. These two beings, closely united, balanced each other marvellously well. Hoffmann prepared his flight, Hippel sustained him; one had the fire, the other the calm. Sometimes, on fixed days in the week, they admitted to this intimacy a few chosen friends, and they talked of poetry, art and love around a pot of beer or a bottle of Rhine wine. This was the origin of the Serapion club.

Meanwhile time was passing; Hippel, nominated for judiciary functions, left Kœnigsberg. Hoffmann became lonely and sad again. Chance developed a passion in his youthful heart; but the difference of social position, of rank and fortune, rendered impossible all hope for the future. Hoffmann's heart was broken. He fled in his turn from Kœnigsberg, which no longer contained for him either friend or love, and he went to Glogau to continue the study of the law. From there he went to Posen, invested with his first degree. The world then changed its aspect in his eyes. He sees it nearer, he is called upon to appreciate it,—to judge it under its various appearances. Strongly excited by everything around him, he throws aside his melancholy, sharpens his crayons, and begins to make caricatures of everything and everybody, so much and so well that a personage in high standing, more ill-treated than the others, writes to Berlin to complain of him, and raises a fatal bar to any legal career which poor Hoffmann might undertake. Meanwhile the caricatures had brought him to light, and his reputation as a wit procured for him in a short time the care of a family.

In 1804, we find Hoffmann married and counsellor to the regency of Warsaw. A new society, elegant and select,