Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

PAGE 2

Schopenhauer
by [?]

When Heinrich Schopenhauer was forty he married a beautiful girl of twenty. She had ideas about art and poetry, and was passing through her Byronic stage, before Byron did, and taking it rather hard, when her parents gave her in troth to Heinrich Schopenhauer, the rich merchant. It was regarded as a great catch.

I wish that I could say that Heinrich and Johanna were happy ever after, but in view of the well-known facts put forth by their firstborn child, I can not do it.

Before marriage the woman has her way: let her make the most of her power–she’ll not keep it long! Shortly after their marriage Heinrich saw symptoms of the art instinct creeping in, and players on sweet zither-strings, who occasionally called, compelled him to take measures. He bought a country seat, four miles from the city, on an inaccessible road, and sent his bride thither. Here he visited her only on Saturdays and Sundays, and her callers were the good folk he chose to bring with him.

Marital peace is only possible where women are properly suppressed–lumity dee!

It was under these conditions that Arthur Schopenhauer was born, on February Twenty-second–in deference to our George Washington–Seventeen Hundred Eighty-eight.

The chief quality that Schopenhauer inherited from his father was the Alameda smile–and this smile of contempt was for all those who did not think as he did. The mother never professed to have any love for her husband, or the child either, and the child never professed to have any love for his mother. He once wrote this: “I was an unwelcome child, born of a mother in rebellion–she never wanted me, and I reciprocate the sentiment.”

* * * * *

In that troublous year of Seventeen Hundred Ninety-three, the Free City of Danzig fell under the sway of Prussia.

Heinrich Schopenhauer, who loved freedom, jealous of his privileges, fearful of his rights, immediately packed up his effects, sold out his property–at great loss–and moved to the Free City of Hamburg.

That his fears for the future were quite groundless, as most fears are, is a fact relevant but not consequent.

Johanna was vivacious and eminently social. She spoke French, German, English and Italian. She played the harp, sang, wrote poetry and acted in dramas of her own composition. Around her there always clustered a goodly group of men with long hair, dreamy eyes and pointed beards, who soared high, dived deep, but seldom paid cash. This is the paradise to which most women wish to attain: to be followed by a concourse of artistic archangels–what nobler ambition! And let the great biological and historical fact here be written down–that there are no female angels.

Heinrich did not settle down in Hamburg and go into business, as he expected. He and his wife and boy traveled much–through England, France, Germany and Switzerland.

This man and his wife were trying to get away from themselves. Long years after, their son wrote, “When people die and wake up in hell they will probably be surprised to find that they are just such beings as they were when they were on earth.”

For a year the lad was left at school with a clergyman at Wimbledon, in England. The strict religious discipline to which he was there subjected seemed to have had much to do with forming in him a fierce hatred of English orthodoxy; but he learned the language and became familiar with the great names in English literature. The King Arthur stories pleased him, and he always took a peculiar satisfaction in the fact that the name Arthur was the same in English, German and French. He was a prenatal cosmopolitan.

Boarding-schools are a great scheme for getting the children out of the way–it throws the responsibility upon some one else. When nine years of age, Arthur was placed in a French boarding-school, remaining for two years. There he learned to speak French so fluently that when he returned to Hamburg and tried to talk to his mother in German, his broken speech threw that excellent woman into fits of laughter.