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Title: Main Currents in Nineteenth Century Literature - 6. Young Germany
Author: Brandes, Georg
Language: English
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[Illustration: GOETHE]


        VII. BÖRNE
       VIII. BÖRNE
         IX. BÖRNE
          X. BÖRNE
         XI. HEINE
        XII. HEINE
       XIII. HEINE
        XIV. HEINE
        XVI. HEINE
       XVII. HEINE



"_Si l'artiste ne se précipite pas dans son oeuvre, comme Curtius dans
le gouffre, comme le soldat dans la redoute, sans réfléchir; et si,
dans ce cratère, il ne travaille pas comme le mineur enfoui sous un
éboulement; s'il contemple les difficultés au lieu de les vaincre une
à une, l'oeuvre reste inachevée, elle périt au fond de l'atelier, ou la
production devient impossible, et l'artiste assiste au suicide de son




From the days of the Holy Alliance onward, the spirit of systematic
reaction brooded over the German countries--a reaction which dated
from the Congress of Vienna, and had its centre in Austria. Its most
typical representative, Metternich, a pupil of Talleyrand, a less
adroit but far more mischievous man than his master, hoped to extend
it to the whole of Europe. Everything that had been shaken, loosened,
or overturned by the Revolution or by Napoleon was to be repaired and
re-established. In the struggle with the great enemy they had been
obliged at last to resort to every possible method, had been forced
to appeal to the people instead of simply commanding, to appeal to
their sentiment in place of their allegiance, and even to promise a
thing as contrary to all cabinet policy, as youthfully revolutionary,
as "the regeneration of Germany." There had been, it is true, a very
noticeable difference between the Austrian and the Prussian watchwords.
"Justice and Order," "Order and Peace," were the cues of the Austrian
proclamations; those of the Prussian were "The Nation," "Freedom and
Honour," "Germany." Still both of the great German States had made more
concessions to the spirit of the times than at all suited the ideas of
their leading statesmen. And no sooner was the enemy driven off, the
heir of the Revolution crippled, and "the war of freedom" ended, than
it became their object to put an end to the freedom as they had put an
end to the war.

The generation that had grown up during the war with France had
expected to see a united Germany arise as the result of victory. As
far back as 1812, Stein had sketched a plan for the reunion of the
scattered parts of the former German Empire, and Arndt and Görres had
given expression to the same idea. But the Peace of Paris, in 1814,
decreed: "The German States shall be independent, and united by a
federative league;" and herewith all hopes of unification were dashed
to the ground. Almost a generation passed before the people were again
animated by the thought. In place of the unified State arose the German
Confederacy, _der deutsche Bund_, or, as Jahn called it, _Bunt_, a
many-coloured harlequin's garb for the nation; and the disappointment
was a bitter one.

The dream of freedom shared the fate of the dream of unification. To
animate their peoples in the struggle with Napoleon, several of the
princes had promised them constitutional government. Of the larger
States, only Bavaria, Baden, and Würtemberg, the former members of
the Napoleonic Rhenish Confederacy, kept these promises. Bavaria and
Baden received constitutions in 1818; Würtemberg, where for once the
king was more liberally minded than the estates, in 1819; and in
little Saxe-Weimar, Karl August, the pioneer of political freedom in
Germany, had given his people a free constitution and inaugurated a
Parliamentary idyll as far back as 1816.

All this, however, was of small significance in view of the fact
that Austria, after, as well as before, the Peace, represented the
reactionary principle, and that Prussia, with a population more
inclined than any of the others to political activity, adhered
unhesitatingly to the Metternichian principles.

Yet the Prussian people not only desired a constitution, but possessed
a right to it. They had it in black and white. In an edict of 1810, the
Chancellor, Prince Hardenberg, the restorer of the power of Prussia,
had held out the prospect of representative government. During the
war with Napoleon the promise had been repeated, and finally, in an
ordinance of the 22nd of May 1815, a formal promise had been made to
the people, a clear intimation of the king's intention to appoint
without delay a committee whose task it should be to prepare the draft
of a constitution. But as the Metternichian principles gained ground,
the realisation of this plan was postponed. When Görres ventured to
present to Hardenberg an address from the Rhine provinces, in which
the King of Prussia was reminded of his promise, the only answer he
received was, that the king who had given the promise had also, in
his wisdom, reserved the right to judge of the proper time for its
fulfilment. On several later occasions the king declared himself to
be bound by his promise, but at the same time always insisted that
the question of time must be left to his fatherly care to decide.
And meanwhile full twenty-five years passed--the rest of the king's

The object of the Powers was to eradicate every trace of the Napoleonic
administration. In Hanover, for example, the _Code Napoléon_, with
its public, verbal judicial proceedings, was abolished, and the old
inquisitional system of the sixteenth century, with its secret modes of
procedure, was re-established. The peasants, who had been liberated by
the French, had to return to serfdom and villeinage. The principle of
equality before the law was set at naught, the aristocracy re-acquiring
the political and social privileges which they had possessed in the
eighteenth century.

And just as the first germs of a freer political life were ready to
sprout in South Germany, an event occurred which gave the signal
for much stronger, much hastier reaction, one symptom of which was
the employment of the most violent measures in the repression of
unimportant and innocent expressions of popular feeling. This event was
the assassination of Kotzebue, or, to be more correct, the enthusiasm
for the assassin which his deed awakened throughout Germany, then
suffering from oppression and espionage.

The strong national feeling and the enthusiasm for freedom which
had asserted themselves during the conflict with France, had in the
years following on that conflict given birth to two movements among
the youth of Germany, to which the attention of the Governments were
now directed--the gymnastic and the student movement (Turnwesen and

Jahn, the populariser of gymnastics, who succeeded Fichte in the
favour of the youth of Germany, opened the first school of gymnastics
in Berlin. He had belonged to Lützow's free-lance Jaegercorps, was
a German of Germans and a hater of the French, and went about with
his long, unkempt grey hair hanging over his shoulders, bare-necked,
his broad shirt-collar thrown wide open, and a thick, knotted stick
in his hand. In the course of the holiday excursions which he made
with his pupils, whenever they came upon a French sign-board or met a
fashionably-dressed man, they would draw up round the object of their
detestation, bawling: "Oh! Oh!" On these excursions the strictest
temperance in food and drink was observed; they lived chiefly on
bread and water, and bivouacked at night under the open sky. From
round the fire rose the strains of the worthy Massmann's beautiful

   "Stubenwacht, Ofenpacht,
    Hat die Herzen weich gemacht,
    Wanderfahrt, Turnerart
    Macht sie frank und hart."[2]

This Massmann, who, besides being one of the leaders of the
gymnastic movement, was one of the founders of the students' unions
(Burschenschaften), is the same who figures so frequently as scapegoat
in Heine's poems and prefaces.[3]

Jahn soon became the object of the most ardent admiration, not only on
the part of immature youth, but of men of note and of public bodies.
Poets inscribed their verses to him; a philologist like Thiersch
dedicated his _Pindar_ to him, and compared German to Greek gymnastics;
two universities invested him with an honorary degree. He himself was
a most loyal subject, but it was the fashion among his long-haired,
bare-necked gymnasts with the unbleached linen jackets to jeer at
the army, especially at the dandy officers of the guard. They raved,
too, against abstract enemies; among their rules was one for the
assassination of the enemy of the good cause; they were to aim with a
dagger at his eyes, and, when the victim covered his face, to strike at
his heart.

This movement emanated from Berlin, the student movement from
Thuringia. The latter began as a sort of semi-national, semi-Christian
enthusiasm, and aimed among other things at the reform of the low
standard of manners and morals among the students. Originating in one
of the small States of Germany, it took for its programme that famous
song of Arndt's which declares the whole of Germany to be the German's

Amongst the Jena professors a certain Fries had most influence among
the students, the same Fries who, in the preface to Hegel's _Philosophy
of Right_, is loaded with invective as being the representative of
shallowness. He was a violent Liberal, who had said that Hegel's new
theories did not grow in the gardens of science, but in the hotbeds
of servility; and under his fostering care the endeavour after unity
and abstract liberty spread amongst the youth of the universities. The
banner of the Burschen was black, red, and gold, said to have been
suggested by the colours of the uniform of Lützow's Corps, black, with
red facings and gold buttons.

The Reformation commemoration-festival in 1817 first drew general
attention to the gymnastic and student societies (Turner and Burschen).
It had suggested the idea of a meeting at the Wartburg of delegates
from all the German student unions. In a pamphlet published on the
occasion of the festival by Karl Sand, he names as the three enemies
of German nationalism from time immemorial, Roman imperialism,
monasticism, and militarism. On the 18th of October, five hundred
students, headed by several professors, marched up from Eisenach to
the Wartburg, where they dined in the Knights' Hall, placed at their
disposal by the liberal Karl August. After the repast the gymnasts gave
a display of their agility for the benefit of the astonished natives.
In the evening great bonfires were lighted, and then Jahn proposed
that, following the example of Luther, who had burned the Papal Bull,
they should burn what the enemies of the good cause had written.
Massmann feelingly expressed his approval of the proposal, and bundles
of old printed paper were produced, on which were inscribed the titles
of the detested books written by the enemies of the gymnasts. There
were three by the notorious Schmalz, the first Rector of the University
of Berlin, the Police Statute Book of the equally notorious Prussian
Minister of Justice, Herr von Kamptz, the _Code Napoléon_, Kotzebue's
_Deutsche Geschichte_, Haller's _Restauration_, &c, &c. The last things
thrown into the flames were a Uhlan's corset, a queue, and a corporal's

When Fries in high-flown language bade the students farewell, he
particularly impressed on them that they had been in the country of
German liberty, liberty of action and of thought: "Here there is no
standing army," &c.; an expression rendered more absurd by the fact
that the army of Weimar consisted of a number of worthy artisans, who
at times, in consideration of a small payment, appeared as hussars,
with high riding-boots and spurs, but without horses. In Hegel's
preface to the _Philosophy of Right_ he remarks, _à propos_ of this
speech, that Fries was not ashamed, on the occasion of a notorious
public demonstration, to say of the constitution of the State that
it was from below, from the people, that life would come, if true
public spirit prevailed; that only by the sacred chain of friendship
could a community, a society, be inviolably united. Hegel calls this
the very hall-mark of shallowness, this melting down of the elaborate
architecture of a rationally designed state into "a broth of feeling,
friendship, and enthusiasm."

Massmann published an account of the festival, in which he described
how night still brooded over Germany, but proclaimed that the blood-red
dawn was about to break.

Metternich succeeded in persuading both Prince Hardenberg and the
Emperor Alexander to bring pressure to bear on Karl August in the
matter of this festival, and ever afterwards Karl August's nickname at
the court of Vienna was "der Altbursche."

Amongst the books burnt in effigy at the Wartburg were some of
Kotzebue's. Kotzebue was publishing at this time in Weimar his
_Litterarisches Wochenblatt_, a journal which flattered Russia and made
merry over the youth of Germany. Little as Goethe generally sympathised
with youth, he rejoiced with them, for once, at the insult offered to
his old enemy.[5]

As Councillor of the Russian Legation, Kotzebue from time to time sent
communications to St. Petersburg, and was consequently supposed to be
a Russian spy. It is probable that his communications were no more
than harmless reports on literary matters, but, be this as it may, in
the eyes of the students, he was Beelzebub--Beltze- or Kotze-bue. At
the University of Giessen at this time, under the leadership of three
brothers Follen, fanatical Republicans, a species of Radicalism had
developed, which gloated over the idea of the assassination of tyrants
and their instruments. In the students' songs such expressions occurred
as: "Freiheitsmesser gezückt!--Hurrah! den Dolch durch die Kehle
gedrückt." (Draw freedom's knife from its sheath!--Hurrah! Thrust
the poniard into the throat.) Karl Follen, the leading spirit, had
completely under his influence that young, narrow-minded mystic, Karl
Sand, who had the image of Jesus constantly before his eyes, and who,
on the 23rd of March 1819, drove his poniard into old Kotzebue's neck.
On a strip of paper which he left lying beside the corpse, was, amongst
other writing, this line by Follen: "You, too, may be a Christ."

It was perfectly clear that this murder, committed in a moment of
religious exaltation, could not be laid to the charge of the Liberal
youth of Germany; nevertheless, and more especially as Sand became
a species of saint in the popular estimation, Metternich and Gentz,
the Emperor of Austria, the King of Prussia, and the Czar, who was
irritated by this expression of Russophobia, took united action, and
the Resolutions of Karlsbad were passed--provisional, exceptional
legislation for the universities, the "demagogues," and the press. Thus
a censorship of the German press came into existence, answering to that
prevailing in Russia now. Gentz was not mistaken when he called this
the greatest retrograde movement that had taken place for thirty years.

Under the pretext of combating a great revolutionary party, which they
knew did not exist, the Governments began a war of persecution against
what was then called Liberalism. Even the professor of theology at the
University of Berlin, De Wette, was dismissed, because he had written
a private letter of condolence to Sand's mother, which was seized and
opened by the police. The reaction went the length of attacking the men
who represented the German national feeling which had arisen during the
war. Jahn was arrested, first confined in a fortress, and then sent to
live in a small town under police supervision. Arndt was entangled, as
a "demagogue," in a criminal case, and lost his appointment. Görres,
who was dismissed, escaped over the frontier.

In Prussia the censorship was not only exercised in the case of books
and newspapers printed in the country, but extended to foreign printed
matter. All German newspapers published in England, France, or Holland
were forbidden. The whole stocks of some publishers, Brockhaus, for
example, were subjected to a special censorship, on account of one
or two pamphlets published by them. At all the universities trusted
agents of the Government were appointed to watch over the disposition
of the students and the lectures of the professors. All gymnastic
and student societies were put down. The so-called old German dress,
and the black, red, and gold colours were forbidden. The police
especially distinguished themselves in the carrying out of these
last prohibitions; they hunted coats, caps, tassels, ribbons, and
pipe-bowls, and any man caught wearing a straw hat, a red waistcoat,
and a black coat was imprisoned on a charge, of high treason.

Some Marburg students in the Twenties had ordered foils from a
manufactory in Solingen, and it was reported that the usual trade-mark,
"Prince," was wanting on these particular foils. The government of
Hesse-Cassel instituted an inquiry for the purpose of discovering if
the omission had been ordered by the students. To the great annoyance
of the police, no cause for accusation was found. "I am sorry for your
statesmen," said the French Minister, Comte de Serre, to the famous
Niebuhr about this time; "they are making war on students."

A specially keen look-out was kept for prohibited combinations among
students. When Arnold Ruge was imprisoned, Herr von Kamptz set the
whole police on the chase after a walking-stick belonging to him, on
which the names of some Jena students were carved, the _corpus delicti_
being finally confiscated in Stralsund. Ruge was tortured by long
pauses between his examinations, having to spend the intervals in a
cell where life was rendered unendurable by vermin. Fritz Reuter had to
expiate the crime of having "worn the German colours in broad daylight"
by imprisonment, first in a miserable hole in Berlin, and after having
been condemned for high treason, in dirty fortress cells. A youthful
political offender in Bavaria was sentenced to fortress-imprisonment
for treason on an indictment of which one of the gravest clauses was
that something resembling a German prince's robe had been found in
his room. Chiefly at the instigation of Austria, thousands of young
Prussians were either imprisoned or driven into exile. In short,
the Liberal middle-class youth of the Germany of those days was as
unprotected by the law and as much persecuted as are, in our days, the
Socialistic youth of the fourth estate of the same country, or the
Liberal youth of Russia.

Political and religious reaction went, as usual, hand in hand. In the
year 1821, the Prussian Government concluded a concordat with the
Pope, which gave the Roman Catholic Church an influence in Prussia
such as would have been unimaginable under Frederick the Great. In
the following year a new liturgy, more nearly resembling the Roman,
was introduced into the Protestant Church. And it is exceedingly
significant that the word Protestantism now fell into disrepute.
By a Ministerial decree of the year 1821, the terms Protestant and
Protestantism were forbidden in Prussia; the censors received orders
not to pass these words, but to substitute the word Evangelical.

The sadness that takes possession of all progressively inclined minds
during long and apparently hopeless periods of reaction now weighed
upon the spiritual _élite_ of Germany. But the great majority fell
a quick prey to carelessness and political indifference. With the
reaction, at first forced on them from without, they soon familiarised
themselves. Many began to be of opinion that a representative
constitution, such as had been promised to Prussia, was a thing of
no value. Others felt it deeply that Prussia, which had made such
sacrifices in the war with Napoleon, had not succeeded in obtaining
a constitution, while the South German States, which had to the last
made common cause with the enemy, had long enjoyed popular government
and the privilege of Parliamentary debate; but they concealed their
shame under a mask of contempt for these skirmishers, a contempt
that had a strong family resemblance to envy and anger. It was
malevolently pointed out that the Bundestag, in which Austria and
Prussia predominated, took good care that the trees of the South German
Parliamentary system were well pruned down. The various Governments
had, moreover, succeeded in bringing such opposition as arose in
the South German States into disrepute. Ministers often succeeded
in preventing an election that was objectionable to them; they also
won over opponents by direct bribery or fear of dismissal; and they
had always the final resource, to which they frequently resorted, of
completely disregarding the oppositionist resolutions of the Chambers.
As the power was in the hands of the Governments, it lay in the nature
of things that the proceedings of the Parliaments, up to 1830, were of
no serious interest.

The German press had never occupied a high position. All discussion
of State matters being now prohibited, it had to confine itself, as
regarded politics, to the simple chronicling of facts, and to fill its
columns with court news, accounts of storms and floods, the birth of
marvellous monsters in the animal, and the appearance of new stars in
the theatrical, world.

The cultivated classes sought a kind of compensation for their
exclusion from politics in a frantically exaggerated interest in the
theatre. Never had the adoration of a prima donna or a ballet-dancer
been carried to such an extreme. In the Berlin of the Twenties every
other interest was swallowed up in the question of the superiority of
German or Italian music. People thought of nothing but the rivalry
between Spontini and Weber. When Börne came to Berlin in 1828, the
public mind was so engrossed with the famous singer, Henriette Sontag,
that no one remembered anything about Börne, except that he had written
an article on her. In his _Letters from Paris_ (in "Härings-Salat")
he gives a witty and yet veracious account of how he was met and
saluted everywhere with the cry: "This is the man who wrote about
Sontag!" Even in 1832, everything--the agitation in France, the Polish
defeat, sympathy with the exiled Poles--everything was forgotten in
the enthusiasm for the feet of the great _danseuse_ Taglioni, which
were then setting out on their triumphal progress through Europe.
The chief representative of the reactionary spirit in Prussia, the
Hofmarschall and future diplomatist, General Theodor Heinrich von
Rochow, writes in May 1832 to von Nagler, the Postmaster-General: "She
is to dance, consequently there is great rejoicing, and occupation
in abundance.... Taglioni's mimetic grace has dispelled the
threatening signs of the times."[6] The word occupation here
is significant. The performance did not merely please, it occupied.[7]

As regards literature, the generation of that day luxuriated in an
idolisation of the octogenarian Goethe, which accepted everything that
the aged master wrote or said as wisdom, and beauty, and inspired
poetry. All his life long he had had to struggle against hatred and
misunderstanding; now the reverence for him verged on the ridiculous;
in Berlin it verged on idiocy.[8] In Zelter's _Letters to Goethe_ he
writes, on the subject of the latter's _Elpenor_: "Posterity will not
believe that the sun of our days beheld the forthcoming of such a
work."[9] All those who had obstructed Goethe's path so long as his
name still belonged to combatant literature, became his votaries from
the moment that that name conveyed undisputed authority, and could
be employed as a sort of Conservative and national emblem. Otherwise
literature languished. The day of romantic poetical fancy was at an
end--Raupach and Müllner ruled the stage, Clauren fiction. Light
literature sank deeper and deeper into the slough of vulgarity and

[1] Biedermann: _Dreissig Jahre deutscher Geschichte_. Prutz: _Zehn
Jahre_, i. and ii.


    Soul and body lose their strength
    Covering idle by the stove
    Free beneath the open sky
    Must the hardy gymnast rove.

[3] _Wintermährchen_, Kap. xi.; _Lobgesänge auf König Ludwig_; preface
to _Romancero_.

[4] Treitschke: _Deutsche Geschichte,_ ii. 383-443.

[5] Epigram:

   "Du hast es lang genug getrieben,
    Niederträchtig vom Hohen geschrieben.
    Dass du dein eignes Volk gescholten,
    Die Jugend hat es dir vergolten."

Thou hast long enough had thy way, long enough reviled what is great;
youth now requites thee for the insults offered to thine own nation.

 "Sie wird tanzen und somit ist grosse Freude und
Beschäftigung vollauf ... die Mimik der Grazien der Taglioni haben die
drohenden Zeichen der Zeit verdrängt."

[7] "Preussen und Frankreich zur Zeit der Julirevolution. Vertraute
Briefe des Generals von Rochow, herausgegeben von E. Kelchner und K.

[8] A certain Geheimrath Schulz, of the Berlin "Wednesday Society,"
addressed the following birthday poem to Goethe: "Ich wollt, ich war
ein Fisch--so wohlig und frisch--und ganz ohne Gräten--So war ich für
Goethen--gebraten am Tisch--ein köstlicher Fisch" _Translation:_ I
would I were a fish--lively and fresh--and without any bones--Then I
should be for Goethe--fried for his table--a delicious fish.

[9] Die Nachwelt wird es nicht glauben, dass die Sonne unsrer Tage ein
solches Werk hervorgehen sah.



German philosophy, all the branches of which shot out vigorously after
the flood of Romanticism had fertilised the ground with its deposit,
at the same time changed colour. Through the unpropitiousness of
circumstances, it became farther removed from reality than heretofore,
though more closely bound up with existing conditions.

Hegel is the great example. In March 1819, Karl Sand murdered Kotzebue;
on the 22nd of October of the preceding year, Hegel entered on his
professorial duties at the University of Berlin. From the programme
which he gave his audience in his opening address, it could be clearly
deduced that Hegel's philosophy and the Prussian State in its existing
form were closely connected; for the said philosophy was based on
the omnipotence of the Idea, the State on the power of intelligence
and culture. Of the fact that Prussia, allowing herself to be led
by Austria, was at this very time proving false to her character
and traditions by entering on a policy of spiritual and political
reaction, no account was taken. Yet the Resolutions of Carlsbad were
already drafted, and it was Prussia that took the initiative in issuing
all the petty tyrannical regulations which soon placed the whole of
Germany under police surveillance. But the sentimental politics of the
students were as obnoxious to Hegel as sentimental philosophy; the
Wartburg rendezvous was to him a piece of romantic foolery, and Sand's
poniard-thrust an abomination. In the preface to the _Philosophy of
Right_, the first and most important work he produced in Berlin, he
not only condescended to defend the persecution of the demagogues, but
demeaned himself by playing police agent, and denouncing his former
colleague, Fries, to the Governments: "It is to be hoped that neither
office nor title will serve as a talisman for principles destructive
both of morality and public order." From this time onward Hegel became
the philosophic dictator of Germany. He ruled from Berlin over the
whole domain of German thought.

Yet in this same philosophy, even in a work with such a pronounced
Conservative tendency as the _Philosophy of Right_ there existed a
portentous ambiguity. As early as in the above-mentioned notorious
preface we find the proposition which was to become the classic motto
of the age, which was first appropriated eagerly by the Conservatism
of the Restoration period, and then used as a battering-ram by Hegel's
younger disciples. It is in larger print than the rest, in two lines:

    "What is rational is real,
     What is real is rational."

What does this mean? Hegel goes on to explain that when reflection,
feeling, or whatever other form the subjective consciousness may
assume, regards the present as vanity, it is itself false, finds itself
in emptiness. But, on the other hand, the doctrine that the idea is a
mere idea or figment, philosophy meets with the assertion that nothing
is real except the idea. What is all-important is to recognise that
which is eternal in the present, temporal, transient; in other words,
in this case, not to construct a state, but to understand the state as
it exists.

Hegel's biographer, Haym, rightly says that not even the doctrine
of divine right is so dangerous as this, which declares everything
existing to be sacred. But, on the other hand, it may with equal right
be maintained that not even the destructive ardour of the youthful
revolutionaries went so far as this doctrine, which grants reality
only to what is rational, and to all else nothing but a mock reality,
which can and should be defied, disregarded, overturned, exploded.
Hence Robert Prutz could say of this same proposition that by it all
doubt was removed, the old God of darkness hurled into the abyss, and
a new, eternally reigning Zeus, the idea that comprehends itself, man
as a thinking being, raised to the throne.[1]

The interpretations of Hegel's philosophy that soon appeared were
many and widely different, but the kinship between his doctrines
and Goethe's poetry was felt by all the initiated. Hegel became the
strongest ally of the little circle of Goethe votaries in Berlin, and
the two men, known as the absolute poet and the absolute philosopher,
were the objects of a common veneration. The orthodox Hegelian even
saw a significant coincidence in the circumstance that Hegel was born
on the 27th of August and Goethe on the 28th. In the Twenties, the
faithful gathered round the festive board on the evening of the 27th of
August, drank the toast of the master in the kingdom of thought, and
called to mind the saying in the preface to the _Philosophy of Right_
about the owl of Minerva, which begins its flight only when the shades
of night are gathering. "But as soon as the midnight hour had struck,
an orator rose to proclaim the glad tidings that Apollo, the God of
day and of song, was now in his sun-chariot, ushering in the 28th, the
glorious day."[2]

The patriotism which in 1813 had driven the enemy out of the country,
contained two radically different elements, a historical, retrospective
tendency, which soon developed into Romanticism, and a liberal-minded,
progressive tendency, which developed into the new Liberalism. When
the reaction came, it sought support in many of the theories of
Romanticism, and finally took the whole movement into its pay. Men
like Görres, Friedrich Schlegel, and others, passed from the camp of
Romanticism into that of reaction.

The freedom-loving group had, of course, during the wars with Napoleon,
shared the Romanticists' hatred of France. But when their sympathies
came to take the shape of wishes and demands (for liberty of the press,
constitutional government, the franchise, &c), the hatred of France
inevitably evaporated. And the stronger the reaction became, the
more keenly were all eyes turned to that neighbouring country which
possessed Parliamentary government. The heroes of French Liberalism
were soon men of great consequence in the estimation of the German
Liberals; indeed at a distance they seemed of more consequence than
they did at home. In Germany, after the victory over Napoleon, as after
the great defeat, quietness was the first duty of the citizen.[3] All was
obedience and silence. And the result was what it usually is when a
highly gifted but unenergetic people are incapable of throwing off a
yoke; its pressure generated self-contempt, and the self-contempt a
kind of desperate wit, of chronic "gallows-humour"; the better sort
developed a real passion for solacing themselves with derision of their
own impotence. The observation of existing conditions gave constantly
recurring occasion for irony directed against themselves--against
visionary Romanticism, the spirit of patience and submission in the
domain of politics, orthodoxy and pietism in the domain of religion.
Caricature-like developments of political life, religion, and poetry
incited to sarcasm, that sometimes ruthlessly wounded patriotic
feeling, sometimes assumed a frivolous tone which, taken in connection
with the French leanings of Liberalism, was, or inevitably seemed to
be, more French than German.

[1] Haym: _Hegel und seine Zeit_, p. 365; R. Prutz: _Vorlesungen über
die deutsche Litteratur der Gegenwart,_ p. 259.

[2] Treitschke: _Deutsche Geschichte_, iii. 686.

[3] "_Die erste Bürgerpflicht ist Ruhe,_" These words occur in an
official notice posted in the streets of Berlin after the defeat of

[Illustration: CHAMISSO]



The most notable of the freedom-loving poets and prose authors of the
period are embodiments of some of the shades of opinion which have
been alluded to. Adalbert von Chamisso, who, by virtue of his famous
prose tale, _Peter Schlemihl_, and certain of his qualities, belongs
to the German Romantic School, while in other respects he approaches
more nearly to the French ideal of thought and writing, is, in some of
his most characteristic poems, and even in his epigrams, a mouthpiece
of the grief of the better sort over the steadily growing political
and social reaction. As early as 1822, in his poem, _Die goldene
Zeit_ ("The Golden Age"), he ridicules an age in which that man is a
Jacobin who has openly expressed his belief that 2 and 2 make 4; in
the _Nachtwächterlied_ ("Watchman's Song") he scoffs at the power of
the Jesuits; in _Joshua_ and _Das Dampfross_ ("The Steam Horse"), at
those who have robbed time of its secret, and learned how to force
it backwards day by day; in _Das Gebet der Wittwe_ ("The Widow's
Prayer") he gives a darkly pessimistic picture of the heartless rule
of the powers that be, with its complete indifference to the fate of
the common people; finally he sums up his view of the times in this
bitterly humorous quatrain, which greets us sadly in the form of a
four-part catch:

   "Das ist die Noth der schweren Zeit!
    Das ist die schwere Zeit der Noth!
    Das ist die schwere Noth der Zeit!
    Das ist die Zeit der schweren Noth!"[1]

Count August von Platen-Hallermünde, whose youthful efforts were
Romantic, both in their choice of subject and in their imitation
of the forms of the Spanish drama, afterwards waged systematic war
with Romanticism. Its latest developments in Germany he holds up to
ridicule, without possessing enough of critical tact to discriminate
between the authors who did and those who did not belong to the
Romanticist group. He quits the literary drama to cultivate the
political lyric muse, as he gradually arrives at the conviction that
the pitiable condition of public affairs is also at the bottom of the
German people's lack of appreciation of power and style and form in
poetry. He finds life in Germany impossible to endure, and seeks, under
the sunny skies of Sicily, amidst its reminiscences of antiquity, to
forget the heavy atmosphere and the political abuses of his Northern
home. But he cannot completely distract his thoughts from the ignominy
there. He writes his Berlin national song, which begins with the

   "Diesen Kuss den Moscoviten,
    Deren Nasen sind so schmuck;
    Rom mit seinen Jesuiten
    Nehme diesen Händedruck!"[2]

We find also the following bitter outburst of national self-contempt,
written in wrath over the maltreatment of his poems by the censor:

   "Doch gieb, o Dichter, dich zufrieden,
    Es büsst die Welt nur wenig ein;
    Du weisst es längst, man kann hienieden
    Nichts Schlechtres als ein Deutscher sein."[3]

Romantically as Platen's adversary, Heinrich Heine, starts, the modern
spirit soon makes itself perceptible in his prose. Even before he
touches on the subject of politics proper, he amuses himself, in his
_Reisebilder_, by making taunting allusions to German conditions and to
the way in which German stolidity accommodates itself to them.

And the love of liberty, abstract, political liberty, was all along
the true passion of Ludwig Börne, who long appeared to occupy himself
with purely æsthetic matters, being known for whole decades only as a
dramatic critic and writer of short stories.

That these authors found readers and admirers bears witness to the fact
that the thinking part of the German people at the end of the Twenties
was laying aside its faith in authority in the domain of politics as
well as in general intellectual matters. At this time the persecution
of the students' unions (Burschenschaften) was being carried on with
the utmost ardour. They were broken up everywhere. But they formed
again at once, and in one German State, Bavaria, after the accession of
King Ludwig, they were actually sanctioned by the police. The divisions
that occurred among them show the directions of the various currents of
public opinion at that time. In Erlangen, after 1827, there were three
unions, at feud with each other--Teutonia, Arminia, and Germania.

Teutonia was the organ of pure Romanticism, of religious mysticism, and
declared that politics in no way concerned it. Arminia's principles
were strict morality and the pursuit of science; it aimed at the
reformation of the conditions of public life, and also at the unity
and liberty of Germany. Germania answered to the Radical tendencies
of the day. It dropped the older _Tugendbund's_ requirement of strict
morality, emancipated itself from the rule of authority, including
authority in the matter of religion, and declared the belief that its
aim--which in the case of this union also was the unity and liberty
of Germany--could only be attained by revolution. Though it was
essentially a political organisation, it would be ridiculous to call it
an important and dangerous one.

These three main movements were soon represented at all the German
universities, and significantly enough, it was, as a rule, the one
represented by Germania, which had the greatest influence.


   This is the need of these hard times!
   These are the hard times of need!
   This is the hard need of these times!
   These are the times of hard need!

[2] This kiss is for the Moscovites, with their handsome noses; this
hand-clasp for Rome with her Jesuits.

[3] Console thyself, O poet! 'tis but little the world loses; thou hast
long known that on this earth a man can be nothing worse than a German.



In 1830, while things were in this state of stagnation, oppression, and
ferment, the news of the Paris Revolution of July arrived, and acted
upon public feeling in Germany like an electric shock. All eyes were
turned towards Paris, and among thinking people real enthusiasm was

The effect was perhaps most plainly observable among the quite young

Two months before the Revolution, Karl Gutzkow, then nineteen, had, as
he himself has told us, no understanding whatever of European politics.
He neither knew who Polignac was, nor what it meant to violate _la
Charte_ (the French constitution). He only knew that in spite of all
the persecution of the German student unions (Burschenschaften),
they were still alive, and that the object to be attained was the
unification of Germany. If he thought at all of upheavals which
might hasten the march of events, he looked for them rather from
the direction of Erlangen or Jena than from Paris; at the utmost he
conceived it possible that a troop of returning Philhellenes landing
armed at Stralsund, might take forcible possession of the town and
call the Pomeranian militia (Landwehr) to arms, and that the peasants,
driven to it perhaps by famine, might join in the revolt.

At this time the French author, Saint-Marc Girardin, had come to Berlin
to study the German language, the Prussian school system, and also the
University theology as represented by Schleiermacher and Neander, and
the Pietism emanating from Halle. As a contributor to the _Journal des
Débats_, he received his newspaper regularly from Paris, and with the
eager interest of the aspirant to office, followed the progress of the
Opposition in France. Gutzkow gave him a German lesson daily; they read
one of Kotzebue's comedies, which the Frenchman preferred as practice
to Goethe or Schiller, but they invariably drifted into political
discussions. Gutzkow made no attempt to conceal from Saint-Marc
Girardin the slight general significance he attached to the French
constitutional struggle, openly ascribing a greater influence on the
course of history to the student union in Jena than to the Chamber of
Deputies in Paris. Girardin smilingly gave a polite answer. From time
to time these conversations were interrupted by Eduard Gans, the famous
Prussian professor, Hegel's most renowned disciple in the faculty
of law, Varnhagen's and Heine's friend, who in fluent French joined
in the political argument, and made a great impression on Girardin
by his woolly black hair and his whiskers. Gutzkow, who had heard
the fashionably dressed, subtle and sarcastic professor ridicule the
student movement from his professorial chair, and laughingly confess
that he too once on a day, on the banks of the Saale, had deliberated
upon the best means of helping Germany to an imperial crown, entreated
the French politician not to believe that the youth of Germany thought
with Gans. "I am quite aware of it," answered Girardin, "you intend to
liberate the world with Sanscrit."

On the 3rd of August 1830, the king's birthday was celebrated with
song and speech in the great hall of the Berlin University. The
students stood crowded together in front of the barrier behind which
sat professors, officials, and officers of high rank. The famous
philologist Boekh was the orator, and from the gallery above his
head songs were sung by the University choir, under the leadership
of Music-Director Zelter, Goethe's correspondent. The Rector of the
University, Professor Schmalz, with queue and sword, went from chair to
chair, exchanging a few words with the most honoured guests. But Gans,
excited and impatient, passed round letters from Friedrich von Raumer,
who had just come from Paris. The Crown Prince, afterwards Frederick
William IV., sat and smiled; but all knew that a few days ago in France
a king had been dethroned. It was as if the thunder of the barricade
cannonade were booming through the festive hall. Boekh's speech on the
subject of the fine arts did not succeed in arousing attention, and
when Hegel read from the chair the names of the prizewinners of the
year, no one except the medallists listened. Gutzkow did hear with
one ear that he had taken the prize in the faculty of philosophy,
but with the other he heard of a people that had deposed a king, of
cannonades, of thousands fallen in the fight. He was oblivious to
the congratulations offered him; he did not even open the case which
contained the gold medal with the king's portrait; he had forgotten
the hope of a professorship which he had connected with the thought of
winning this medal; he stood dazed, thinking of Saint-Marc Girardin and
his prophecies, and of what he himself had prophesied of the German
Burschenschaft. Then he rushed off to a confectioner's shop in Unter
den Linden, and for the first time in his life read a newspaper with
avidity. He could hardly await the publication of the official gazette
that evening; not because he was impatient to see his name in the list
of medallists; all he wished was to know the state of matters in Paris,
whether or not the barricades were still standing, whether France
was to come forth from Lafayette's hands a republic or a monarchy.
"Science lay behind me," he writes, "history before me."[1]

And Gutzkow is a type of the youngest generation of the Germany of that
day--the young men of twenty.

Almost simultaneously with Karl Gutzkow's political awakening, there
occurred a memorable misunderstanding in the study of the octogenarian
Goethe. A visitor, greeted by the old man with exclamations of joy over
the great event in Paris, at first believed that he meant the Days of
July, and only gradually came to understand that he was talking of the
decision of the scientific dispute between Cuvier and Saint-Hilaire in
favour of the latter. This famous misunderstanding has long enough been
regarded as only a symptom of Goethe's limitation in matters political;
it is but fair to point out that the anecdote is also an indication of
the old sage's justifiable indifference to over-estimated political
events. The scientific dispute was, by reason of the idea involved, and
its transforming effect on the spiritual map of the world, a weightier
matter than the French Revolution of July. Does not Saint-Hilaire's
theory of the unity of "plan" herald _The Origin of Species!_ But the
picture of the overwhelming effect of the French political catastrophe
on the youngest generation stands out all the sharper against the
background of Goethe's impassibility.[2]

The impression made on eminent individuals belonging neither to the
youngest nor the oldest generation was very deep.

The most intellectual and open-minded woman of the day, the most
distinguished of Goethe's female admirers, Rahel, who by this time was
sixty, was in entire sympathy with the Revolution. To her, as a woman,
the social side was of more interest than the political. Saint-Simonism
takes strong hold upon her; her marvellously youthful mind perceives
its possibilities, and in the events of July she sees the beginning of
the triumph of its social theories.

To the reviving, inspiriting impression of the Revolution of July
was now added another, which gave a sharp edge to the passionate
political feeling of the younger generation--the impression, to
wit, made by the outbreak of the Polish revolt. It is most plainly
observable in the case of Platen, who in wild excitement addresses a
poetical adjuration to the Crown Prince of Prussia (said to be the
most favourably disposed) to take the part of unhappy Poland, and also
writes the _Polenlieder_, the only poems of his that rise to the height
of passion, proud songs of liberty, full of outspoken scorn of the
autocrat who was worshipped at the German courts as an almighty being,
and of those who allowed themselves to be bribed and bought with his

On Ludwig Börne's mind the news of the Revolution of July acted with
the effect of a flash of lightning.

In the summer of 1830 he was at the watering-place of Soden, near
Frankfort-on-Main, recovering from a long bout of rheumatic fever and
repeated attacks of hemorrhage. His _Journal_ shows that his political
hopes were almost extinguished, his desires stifled. A soul like his,
whose aspiration after liberty was a passion, whose hunger and thirst
after righteousness consumed his vital force, was unable permanently to
bear the heavy weight of political reaction.

He was now forty-four, and since the time of the War of Liberation,
that is to say as youth and grown man, had had experience of nothing
but the triumphs of baseness and its persecution of all rectitude, all
freedom of opinion. He had never been able to lift his eyes from the
sheet of paper he was writing on, without seeing pallid fear of every
great passion, of ideals, of youth itself, enthroned in high places,
side by side with the animal instinct of self-preservation and animal
self-indulgence--the Metternich and Gentz principle. He had given up
none of the convictions of his youth and manhood, but the world to
him was draped in mourning weeds. He had the feeling in Germany of
sitting at the bottom of the sea, a diving-bell providing him with
just enough air to keep him from suffocation. In Paris he had breathed
fresh air. There the light of the sun, human voices, the sounds of life
had enraptured him. Now, down among the fishes, he shivered with cold.
He suffered the most terrible ennui. The stillness made him ill; the
narrowness of everything galled him to the quick.

He describes himself as one of those natures which cannot in the long
run endure the "solo music" of existence. "Symphonies of Beethoven or
thunder-storms" were a necessity to him. He was one of the people who
feel themselves out of place in a box at the theatre, who sit from
choice in the pit, in the middle of the crowd.

It seemed to him as if in Germany the bullion of life were minted
underground, in the silence of midnight, like counterfeiters' coin.
Those who worked did not enjoy, and those who enjoyed, who in the
light of day set the money in circulation that had been coined in
fear and trembling in the darkness, did not work. In France a man of
health and spirit lived a life like that of a king's messenger, who
is sent with despatches to foreign towns, never twice to the same
place, and who on his long journeys sees and enjoys life in its most
different developments; in Germany he lived like a postilion, who is
always taking the same short journey back and forwards between two
post-houses, receiving a miserable tip from fortune for his trouble.
The postilion was perfectly able to take the journey in his sleep; he
knew every stone on his ten miles of road; and this in Germany was
called thoroughness; but Börne, sitting in the little hotel in Soden,
watching the geese fighting in the yard, and studying the jealousy of
the turkey-cocks and the coquetry of the turkey-hens, was not grateful
for the opportunity of remarkable thoroughness afforded him.[3]

When the news reached him that Polignac's ministry had issued
the famous ordinances, had violated the constitution, he cried,
anticipating all the consequences of this step: "And God said, let
there be light!"

The news of the Revolution of July followed. Every day he awaited the
hour of the arrival of the newspaper with impatience; he walked out the
country road, on the lookout for the mail; if it delayed too long, he
went all the way to Höchst, where the papers came from. Soon he felt
unable to remain in Soden. He returned to Frankfort, and astonished,
electrified his environment by his fire. The silent, invalid-looking
Börne was unrecognisable; a miracle seemed to have happened; he was
young and strong again. All his old dreams seemed to have become
realities, and everything in him that he had been forcibly keeping down
sprang up again like a spring when pressure is removed.

Frankfort did not long satisfy him; presently we hear of him in Paris.

On the 7th of September he writes from Strasburg: "The first French
cockade I saw was on the hat of a peasant who passed me in Kehl coming
from Strasburg. It seemed to me like a little rainbow after the flood
of our time, a sign of peace from a reconciled God. But when the
bright tri-coloured flag greeted my eyes--oh! words cannot express
my emotion. My heart beat so violently that I was on the point of
fainting.... The flag was on the middle of the bridge, its staff
rooted in French ground, but part of the bunting waving in German air.
Ask the first Secretary of Legation you meet if this is not a breach
of international law. It was only the red stripe of the flag that
fluttered over our native soil. And this is the one colour of French
liberty that will be ours. Red, blood, blood--and alas! not blood shed
on the battlefield."

Börne is here only the mouthpiece of a feeling which had taken
possession of most of the many in Germany who were susceptible of
enthusiasm. The heroism shown by the French students, polytechnicians,
and working men during _les trois jours glorieux_ was admired as much
as in France itself, and doubly admired as the proof of an energy
which the German people appeared to have lost. There was a universal
inclination to drift into exaggerated contempt of their own want of
political aptitude and insight, their own want of ability to act at the
decisive moment.

Thus powerfully did events act upon characters like Börne, and upon the
enthusiasts who were to be found in greatest numbers in the scholarly
class. Let us complete the picture by observing their effect on the men
of the reaction.

Gentz, who had at first exulted over Charles X.'s energy, grew anxious
as the _coup d'état_ approached. "I look upon the ordinance against
newspapers and books," he writes, "as a tremendous venture, of the
success of which I am as yet by no means assured.... Such weapons
ought to be played with only by people who are sure of their strength
and of the means at their disposal. To venture into such regions means
ruin for men like Polignac and Peyronnet."[4]

As soon, however, as the first alarm had subsided, he and his spiritual
kindred set to work to take advantage of every mistake made by the
Liberals. Wisely turned to account, the after-effects of the Revolution
of July in Germany, by the occasion they gave for ruthless repression
and persecution, censorship, and imprisonment, might lame the German
Liberal movement for many a day; might (as Metternich said a few years
later of the Hambach Festival) make the anniversary of the Revolution a
day of rejoicing for the good instead of for the bad. And only a year
later, Gentz, who at times had seen the future in a very dark light,
was able to write: "Away with all gloomy forebodings now! We are not to
die, Europe is not to die, and what we love is not to die. I am proud
of never having despaired."[5]

Metternich had enough literary taste to admire Börne, and Gentz was a
fanatical Heine enthusiast. Before the Revolution of July it was still
possible to look upon Heine as essentially the poet of unhappy love and
the poetical humorist, with a touch of blasphemy and frivolity.

In the summer of 1830 Heinrich Heine was at Heligoland, dreaming on the
shore, gazing out to sea, listening to the plash of the waves. He had
given up all hope of better times. He occupied himself with reading
the few books he had taken with him--Homer, the Bible, the history of
the Lombards, and some old volumes on witches and witchcraft. He could
hardly himself believe that he had quite lately been the editor of the
_Politische Annalen_ in Munich. Two days after the Revolution of July
had taken place, but before the news of it had reached Heligoland,
he wrote, in one of his letters from that island, that he had now
determined to let politics and philosophy alone, and to devote himself
entirely to the observation of nature and to art; that all this torture
and trouble was to no purpose; that however great sacrifices he might
make in the general cause, they would be of little or no avail; the
world, doubtless, did not stand still, but it moved in a circle,
with no result whatever; when he was young and inexperienced, he had
believed that even if the individual perished in the war of human
liberation, the great cause would be victorious in the end; now he
recognised the fact that humanity, like the ocean, moved according to
fixed laws of ebb and flow.

Even if these expressions have been strung together at a later period,
even if the letters are not genuine, but a fragment of memoir inserted
later, for the sake of contrast, in the book on Börne[6], they will
undoubtedly give us a correct picture of Heine's mental attitude at
that time.

On the 6th of August he writes: "I was sitting reading Paul
Warnefried's _History of the Lombards,_ when the thick packet of
newspapers, with the warm, glowing-hot news, arrived from the mainland.
Each item was a sunbeam, wrapped in printed paper, and together they
kindled my soul into a wild glow. I felt as if I could set the whole
ocean, to the very North Pole, on fire, with the red heat of enthusiasm
and mad joy that glowed within me." It was all like a dream to him; the
name Lafayette especially was like the echo of one of the stories of
his earliest childhood; he could hardly believe that the man who had
ridden in front of the grandfathers of the present generation in the
American War of Independence was once more on horseback, the hero of
the nation. He felt as if he must go to Paris and see it for himself.

He writes with a passionate fervour, which he soon feels obliged to
temper with a touch of self-contempt: "Lafayette, the tri-colour flag,
the Marseillaise.... It intoxicates me. Bold, ardent hopes spring up,
like trees with golden fruit and with branches that shoot up wildly,
till their leaves touch the clouds.... My longing for rest is gone.
I know once more what I desire, what I ought to, what I must, do....
I am the son of the Revolution, and again I take into my hand the
charmed weapons, over which my mother spoke the magic spell.... Flowers,
flowers! that I may crown my head for the death struggle. And the lyre,
too; give me the lyre! that I may sing a song of battle.... Words
like flaming stars, that shoot down from the sky, set palaces on fire,
and illuminate huts.... Words like burnished javelins, that whirr up
into the seventh heaven and transfix the pious hypocrites who have
insinuated themselves into the holy of holies.... I am all gladness
and song, all sword and flame, and quite possibly mad."

Among other things, he tells how the fisherman who some days later
rowed him out to the sandbank from which they bathed, told him the news
smilingly, with the words: "The poor people have won the victory."
Heine expresses his astonishment at the correct instinct of the common
man. And yet the exact opposite was the real state of matters; it was
the rich people who in the end were and remained the victors.

But an utterance such as the last quoted suffices to show the light
in which German authors regarded the Revolution of July. It inspired
in them the same religious emotion with which forty years previously
the leading spirits of the Germany of that day had regarded the great
Revolution. It was not to them the result of the strength of the
Liberal bourgeoisie, and of their ability to persuade the lower classes
to work and shed their blood for them; it was the general signal for
the political, economical, and religious emancipation of humanity. It
was the great deed that with one blow freed all nations from the yoke,
all minds from oppression.

In 1847 one of the foremost of the Radical writers of the Forties,
Robert Prutz (at the time of the Revolution only fourteen), gave an
excellent reproduction of the impression it created. "For fifteen
years," he says, "it had seemed as if the eternal generative power
of the world's history were paralysed. For fifteen years they had
been building and cementing, holding congresses, forming alliances,
spreading the net of police supervision over the whole of Europe,
forging fetters, peopling prisons, erecting gallows--and three days had
sufficed to overturn one throne, and make all the others tremble. It
was not true then, after all, what the sovereigns had boasted, what the
court romanticists had said and sung."[7] The millennial reign of the
Holy Alliance had lasted fifteen years. It seemed as if a new spring
must be at hand in the political and intellectual life of the German

[1] Karl Gutzkow: _Das Kastanienwäldchen in Berlin. --Rückblicke auf
mein Leben_, p. 7.

[2] _Cf_. Emil Kuh: _Biographie Fr. Hebbels_, i. 437.

[3] _Aus meinem Tagebuch_. Soden, May 22, 1830.

[4] "Die Ordonnanz gegen die Zeitungen und Bücher betrachte ich als
ein kolossales Wagstück, dessen Ausführbarkeit mir noch nicht recht
einleuchtet.... Mit solchen Waffen darf man nur spielen, wenn man
seiner Kraft und seiner Mittel gewiss ist. Leute wie Polignac und
Peyronnet, wenn sie sich in diese Regionen versteigen, gehen zu Grunde."

[5] "Nun fort mit allen schwarzen Gedanken! Wir sterben nicht, Europa
stirbt nicht, was wir liebe stirbt nicht. Wie viel bilde ich mir darauf
ein, nie verzweifelt zu haben."

[6] Heine: _Sämmtliche Werke_, XII. 80.

[7] R. Prutz: _Vorlesungen über die deutsche Litteratur der Gegenwart_,
270, 271.



The classical literature of Germany in the end of the eighteenth and
the early years of the nineteenth century was in subject or form
imitative of the antique; the Romantic literature which followed swore
allegiance to the Middle Ages; both stood aloof from surrounding
actualities, from the Now, from existing political or social
conditions; neither directly aimed at producing any change in these.
The ideal floated in the deep blue ether of Greece or in the Catholic
sky of the Middle Ages. Now it was resolutely dragged down to earth.
The modern ideal, an ideal which contains no mythic element, manifested
itself to the dreamers and the workers. And with a haste, a violence,
that too often made prose journalistic, poetry only lyric or quite
fragmentary, the opposition poets and prose writers set to work to draw
all modern life into the sphere of literature. From the fact of this
inclusion, this appropriation, taking place when things were on a war
footing, wit and satire became more prominent powers than they had ever
been before in Germany; and the mood and inspiration of the "Sturm und
Drang" period seemed to have revived, so far as aggressive defiance
of the established was concerned. It was a strong craving for liberty
that first induced Heine and Börne to strike out a new path in German
literature, and afterwards inspired the writers who followed them, and
were known by the vague name of "Young Germany."

But there was one great man who, foreigner though he was, influenced
German intellectual life by his personality, writings, and actions
more than any of the famous men of the past. This was Lord Byron. It
was long before men's eyes in Germany were opened to his artistic
weaknesses and deficiencies. Gutzkow alone, about the year 1835, begins
to criticise him discerningly. But the Byron whom Goethe had admired
and shown favour to (though principally because of that in him which
the old master attributed to his own influence), Byron, with his
contempt for the real negation of liberty that lay concealed beneath
the "wars of liberty" against Napoleon, with his championship of the
oppressed, his revolt against social custom, his sensuality and spleen,
his passionate love of liberty in every domain, transfigured by his
death as a liberator, seemed to the men of that day to be an embodiment
of all that they understood by the modern spirit, modern poetry.

Wilhelm Müller, the poet of the _Griechenlieder_, sings of him with
fervent enthusiasm:

   "Siebenunddreissig Trauerschüsse? Und wen haben sie gemeint?
    Sind es siebenunddreissig Siege, die er abgekämpft dem Feind?
    Sind es siebenunddreissig Wunden, die der Held trägt auf der Brust?
     . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Siebenunddreissig Jahre sind es, welche Hellas heut beweint!
    Sind' die Jahre, die du lebtest? Nein um diese wein ich nicht:
    Ewig leben diese Jahre in des Ruhmes Sonnenlicht,
    Auf des Liedes Adlerschwingen, die mit nimmer müdem Schlag
    Durch die Bahn der Zeiten rauschen, rauschend grosse Seelen wach.
    Nein, ich wein um andre Jahre, Jahre die du nicht gelebt,
    Um die Jahre, die für Hellas du zu leben hast gestrebt:
    Solche Jahre, Monde, Tage kündet mir des Donners Hall,
    Welche Lieder, welche Kämpfe, welche Wunden, welchen Fall!
    Einen Fall im Siegestaumel auf den Mauern von Byzanz,
    Eine Krone dir zu Füssen, auf dem Haupt der Freiheit Kranz!"[1]

Byron's pride and his contempt for political slavery meet us again in
Platen; his aristocratic tone, his antipathy to prejudice, his taste
for travel, his love of animals and of nature, his charm and his
irony, live again in Prince Pückler. How enormously he influenced the
formation of Heine's poetical ideal needs no insisting on, so forcibly
does it strike every one who is familiar with the development of the
modern literature of Europe. But it is both remarkable and instructive
to observe the light in which he was looked upon by Börne, the first
pioneer of the new German literary movement, a fundamentally different
character from the English poet. One would naturally imagine that
the vain, frivolous sides of Byron's personality would repel him, as
these same qualities did in the case of Heine. Far from it. Note the
expressions he employs in writing about him (_Briefe aus Paris_, No.
44) after reading Moore's _Life of Byron_. He calls the book wine that
sends a glow of warmth through the poor German wayfarer, shivering on
his journey through life. He feels almost ill with envy of such a life:

"Like a comet that submits to no rules and regulations of the star
community, Byron wandered through the world, wild and free; came
without welcome, departed without farewell, preferring solitude to
the thraldom of friendship. His feet never touched the dry earth;
through storm and shipwreck he steered undauntedly onwards, and the
first harbour he came to was the grave. Oh, how he was tossed about!
But what islands of bliss did he not discover!... His was the kingly
nature ... he is king who lives as he lists. When I hear people say
that Byron only lived for thirty-seven years, I laugh; he lived for a
thousand. And when they pity him because he was so melancholy! Is not
God melancholy? Melancholy is God's gladness. Is it possible to be glad
when one loves? Byron hated men because he loved mankind, hated life
because he loved eternity. I would give all the joys of my life for a
year of Byron's sorrows."

We observe not only that Börne takes everything about Byron seriously,
but that he is quite unconscious of the same self-indulgent temperament
in Byron which repelled him so strongly in Goethe. And it is still more
surprising that Börne should consider his own nature to be akin to
Byron's. He writes:--

"Perhaps you ask me in surprise how such a beggarly fellow as I come
to compare myself with Byron; in which case I must tell you something
that you do not know. When Byron's genius on his journey through the
firmament first came to this earth, he stayed for a night with me. But
the lodging was not to his mind; he left again at once, and took up
his quarters at the Hotel Byron. I sorrowed over this for many a year,
grieved over my insignificance, my failure. But that is past now; I
have forgotten it, and live contented in my poverty. My misfortune is
that I was born in the middle class, for which I am not suited."

Words such as these bear striking witness to the magic power which
the shade of Byron still exercised over the minds of the leaders of

[1] What mean these thirty-seven minute-guns? Do they tell of
thirty-seven victories? of thirty-seven wounds on the hero's breast?...
They are thirty-seven years, that Greece is mourning to-day. Are they
the years of thy life? Nay, over these we do not mourn; these live
for ever in the sunlight of fame, borne upon the eagle wings of song,
whose tireless beat resounds down the ages, awakening great souls. 'Tis
other years I weep, the years thou wouldst have lived for Greece. 'Tis
of these years and months and days that the volley's thunder speaks to
me. What songs, what struggles, what wounds, what a fall! A fall in the
intoxicating moment of victory, on the walls of Byzantium, a crown at
thy feet, on thy brow the wreath of liberty!



It was under the conditions and influences just described that the
German opposition literature of 1820 to 1848 came into being. In
surveying such a large group of intellectual productions, we naturally
look upon them in the first instance as being, taken generally, a
series of documents which inform us how the people of that country
and that time thought and felt, what were the developments of their
civilisation, what their hopes, their wishes, their philanthropy,
their devotion to liberty, their sense of right, their ideal of good
government, and, finally, what their taste was--that is to say, in
what manner an author required to write who wished to be read and to
awaken real interest.

Our historical curiosity on these points being satisfied, there
next involuntarily arises the question of the actual value of the
literature. In the case of philosophical writings this question
turns mainly upon the measure of new truth they contain; or if, as
is too often necessary, we are obliged to regard them chiefly in the
light of productions of the imagination, it turns upon the scope and
suggestiveness of their hypotheses. In the case of poetry and fiction,
and also to a certain extent in the case of the allied historical and
descriptive writings, the question of their value is the same as the
question of their beauty; for by beauty we mean artistic worth.

It is a well-known fact that out of a very large number of authors only
one or two continue to be read after the lapse of a few generations;
out of an enormous number of works there is only one here and there
that people continue to make their own. Of the writers of the period
under consideration, very few are known and read to-day out of
Germany; in Germany of course a considerably greater number; still,
comparatively few of the productions of that day are in the hands of
the general reading public.

The first rough criticism is thus the work of time; after the lapse of
so many years, such and such an author does not sell, whilst another is
perpetually coming out in new editions. But it is no absolute proof of
the worth of a writer that he long continues to have a wide circle of
readers. It does not prove that his place is among the best, only that
he is among the most approachable, the most entertaining. A high degree
of culture, or of refinement of mind, may stand in the way of a wide
circulation, though they ensure lasting fame.

At the present day, out of Germany, only two of the philosophical
writers of that day, Feuerbach and Schopenhauer, are still read, the
former little, the latter much; but it was at a later period that
Schopenhauer began to influence men's minds, and both these thinkers
are read less for the sake of their matter than for their original,
daring style. Of the poets, only Heine is much and steadily read out of
Germany. In Germany he is looked on and judged as the stinging-nettle
in the garden of literature; he stings the historians' fingers and
they curse him. In histories of literature and magazine articles his
prose is described as old-fashioned and his poetry as artificial;
yet his works, now that the copyright has expired, are republished
in innumerable editions. Both in and out of Germany he is as much
sung as read. His poems have given occasion to more than 3000 musical
compositions. In 1887 the solo-songs alone (leaving out of account
the duets, quartettes and choruses) numbered 2,500. Hueffer has
counted one hundred and sixty settings of "Du bist wie eine Blume,"
eighty-three each of "Ich hab' im Traum geweinet" and "Leise zieht
durch mein Gemuth," seventy-six of "Ein Fichtenbaum steht einsam,"
and thirty-seven of "Ich weiss nicht was soll es bedeuten." Amongst
these compositions are many of the most beautiful songs of Schubert,
Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, Robert Franz, and Rubinstein--very few
of which the poet himself can have heard. Of all the German lyric poets
Heine is the one whose songs have been most frequently set to music.
After him, with his 3000 compositions, comes Goethe, with about 1700;
the others follow far behind.

Out of Germany Heine's fame not merely lives unassailed, but is
steadily growing and spreading. In France he occupies men's minds as
if he were a contemporary. He is the only foreign poet whom Frenchmen
regard as one of their own, one of their greatest. No other foreign
author is so frequently mentioned in the French literature of our own
day, and none is named with greater admiration, not even Shelley or
Poe. Edmond de Goncourt makes use of the strong expression, that all
modern French writers when compared with Heine remind him of commercial
travellers; and Théophile Gautier said that the Philistines sought to
drag the stones to build a pyramid above Heine's grave.

A question that is constantly cropping up in one civilised society or
another is: What works should be included in a library of the hundred
best books? The answers of course vary very much. But in all Romanic
and Slavonic countries, Heine's name is sure to be one of the first
on the lists. On English lists there are usually ninety English books
and ten foreign, but Heine's name is certain to be among the ten. The
belief that it is possible to find a hundred books which would be
the best reading for every one, a belief which has its origin in the
Protestant notion of there being one such great book, is of course
childish, and the question interesting only in so far as it shows what
an entirely impersonal ideal of culture exists in the mind both of
the questioner and of those who naïvely set themselves to answer his
question. It is instructive, however, _à propos_ of Heine, to notice
the results in certain specific cases. No small astonishment was
expressed in Germany a few years ago, when a great number of English
lists were published, and Heine was found in them all--a distinction
shown to no other German author, for there were lists which contained
no book by Goethe.

This universal fame is not, however, founded on Heine's merits alone,
but also on the fact that much of his writing demands only the very
slightest amount of culture for its comprehension, and of refinement
of mind for its enjoyment; the latter quality being indeed rather a
hindrance to the enjoyment of some of it. Still its main foundation is
the fact that, after all, his talent was, in its way, the most eminent
of that period.

If, then, the value of a literary work of art is evidenced by its power
of resistance to time, and its attraction for foreign readers, and
yet these qualities form no proper criterion of its value, how are we
to gauge it? By the originality and vigour of the spiritual life and
of the emotion of which the work is an expression, together with its
power of impressing these characteristics on the reader. All art is
the expression of some emotion, and has for its object the production
of emotions. The deeper a signet gem is cut, the sharper, the clearer
are the outlines in wax. The deeper the impression in the soul of the
artist, the clearer, the more forcible is its artistic expression. The
emotions of the artist differ from those of other men only in this,
that they leave in his memory that species of impression, which, when
he reproduces it, infects listener or reader.

The questions to which any work provides us with answers are such
as the following: How far-sighted was the author? How deeply did he
penetrate into the life of his time? How characteristically did he feel
joy, or grief, or sadness, or love, or enthusiasm, or cynicism? We
say: So great was the horror, or disgust, inspired in him by stupidity
or wickedness; so sharply or wittily did he revenge himself and us on
contemptible stupidity or worthlessness. From the best we receive an
impression of high-mindedness or greatness, of love of truth or love
of beauty; in the case of inferior men we suffer from deficiency in
understanding, in depth of feeling, in sense of beauty, or in strength
of character.

Now the literary group under consideration includes no creative minds
of the highest, and only one of very high rank, namely Heine. It
bequeathed to posterity little that was tangibly great. It denied, it
emancipated, it cleared up, it let in fresh air. It is strong through
its doubt, its hatred of thraldom, its individualism.

In Germany, especially in North Germany, it has never stood so low in
general estimation as at the present day. Those writers who, about the
year 1830, made war upon all the forms of tyranny which weighed upon
the German-speaking peoples, have in our days been overtaken by an
unpopularity which shows no signs of decrease.

The explanation is simple. The younger generation of the Germany of
to-day, which has the unification of the Empire behind it--that
unification which to the men of 1830 was a fantastic hope--and which
has seen Germany put forth its united strength in prompt, universally
successful action, that generation takes little interest in the old
dreamy speculations as to how the unification was to be brought about,
and is bored by these old writers' everlasting ridicule of German
sleepiness and inactivity, German pedantry and theorising, now that
results have shown how practical and how resolute the flouted Germany
could be when an opportunity was offered her.

More especially since the Franco-German war, the writers who half a
century ago were always praising France at the expense of Germany,
or maintaining that liberty would bring to Germany those blessings
which actually came to her through Bismarck, have been placed under a
sort of ban. They are looked on as bad patriots and foolish prophets.
Only a small minority are able to perceive how powerfully that very
indignation, that scorn for the contemptible existing conditions,
helped to bring on the change and improvement that followed. And still
fewer in number are those who read in the literature of the Thirties
and Forties a living reproach for betrayed or forgotten ideals, and
who, as they turn over the leaves of these old books, ask themselves
sadly what, in the new order of things, has become of the best that
these men fought for.



Of the authors who in those days stood in the foremost rank, Ludwig
Börne is now almost the most neglected. The subjects on which he wrote
are obsolete, and none but those interested in the personality of the
writer read his short prose pieces in the form of newspaper articles
or letters, for the sake of the style, or of the spirit in which the
subject is treated. It was in the later years of his life that Börne
first really made a name for himself by his _Letters from Paris_;
and the abstract hatred of princes and the republican faith which
find expression in these letters are entirely out of place in the
young Empire of to-day. No personality could be more utterly out of
keeping with the new order of things. Where the idea of the State is
by slow degrees becoming all-powerful: where, from above, despotically
socialistic, it seeks to restrict initiative, transforms as many
citizens as possible into paid officials, and gives the paid official
precedence of the simple citizen, and from below, revolutionarily
socialistic, strives with all its might to restrict individual freedom
of action: there markedly self-reliant characters inevitably disappear,
and the rugged, independent individuality seems something illegal,
something which no one can accept as a model of culture. Börne's was
just such an angular individuality and perfectly independent character.

[Illustration: LUDWIG BÖRNE]

In the German middle-class of to-day, speaking generally, the only task
that seems worthy of a man is to build up, to forward, to strengthen
or remould the already acquired. The iconoclastic tendency of Börne's
mind at once alarms. The fire which warmed his age and generation is
to the new generation that of a Don Quixote who charges with his lance
at fortress and castle walls. And yet Börne, too, had a hand in the
production of the iron architecture of the new Iron Age of Germany. His
fire melted the ore out of which the new pillars of society have been

Perhaps nothing has injured Börne more in the estimation of the present
generation than his violently prejudiced denunciation of Goethe.
Goethe, as productive and intelligent spirit, is so great, and his
temperament and personality are so unique, that in our own day a man's
judgment of him gives a valuable clue to that man's mind and character.
And although in those days there were quite a number of writers, not
only belonging to the clerical party, but also among the opposition,
who detested Goethe, there can be no doubt that Börne gave clear proof
of narrow-mindedness by the manner in which he wrote of the venerable
old man in Weimar, by the nature of his protests against the general
belief in Goethe's greatness as a man and as a poet.

But in order to understand how it came about and what it signified that
a revolutionary political moralist like Börne entertained a feeling
of positive hatred and of lasting and lively resentment towards the
greatest genius in all German literature, it is necessary that we
should understand how, from his very birth, Börne's fate placed him in
a position of antagonism to the great man whom he was driven to judge
by an alien and therefore a false standard.

Goethe and Börne were natives of the same town, born, one thirty-seven
years after the other, in Frankfort-on-Main. Frankfort was an old
imperial fortified city, with gates and towers which indicated the
boundaries of the town in earlier days, and an outer circle of gates,
towers, walls, bridges, ramparts and moats round the new town. It
was a fortified place enclosing smaller fortifications in the shape
of monastic buildings and castle-like mansions. There was something
unalterable about the town, which was surrounded by a sort of halo of
ancient, venerable independence. It was a patrician republic, in which
a stranger was practically without the pale of the law. Woe to him
if he engaged in a law-suit with a Frankfort citizen in a Frankfort
court of justice, though it might be clear as noon-day that he was in
the right! The ruling families formed an exclusive coterie, and their
social intercourse was marked by much old-fashioned ceremony. No one
dreamed of the possibility of tampering with any of the old political
or social institutions of the city. The authorities had no spirit of
enterprise, the inhabitants no feeling that change of any kind was
possible. Such a thing as political cohesion with the rest of Germany
was unthought of. In the Germany of that day each town, and in the town
each quarter, was a little world by itself.

Goethe was a young patrician. His father was an Imperial Councillor
(_kaiserlicher Rath_). As soon as the young man had acquired a thorough
knowledge and understanding of his native town, it must have seemed to
him that fate could not possibly have any other lot in store for him
but that of a prosperous Frankfort citizen. For the town enthralled
him; its best families took possession of the handsome, gifted youth,
their women made much of him, their tradition bound him. There was
nothing to attract him to the larger towns, Vienna or Berlin, which
were then practically as far from Frankfort as Rome and St. Petersburg
are in our days. Fate appeared to have destined him to become in
due time a lawyer, paterfamilias, public official, house-owner, and
literary notability in his native town.[1]

Goethe's actual evasion of this fate was, as every one knows, mainly
due to the fact which calls down Börne's wrath upon him, that he became
the retainer of a prince, that the Duke of Weimar gave him an important
appointment at his little court.

Börne, too, was born in Frankfort-on-Main, but in the Jews' quarter.
In his day it was a misfortune to be born a Jew in Germany; for there,
as elsewhere, the Jews had none of the rights of citizens. But it was
a special misfortune to be born a Jew in Frankfort-on-Main. In other
large towns, the position which Jews by this time took in society to
a certain extent counterbalanced their political disqualifications.
Both in Vienna and Berlin many Jewish houses were frequented as centres
of liberal-minded culture and brilliant wit. Jewesses of genius like
Rahel, charming Jewesses like Henriette Herz, Baroness Grotthuis,
Baroness Arnstein, the Prince of Reuss's consort, and many others,
were soon to become leaders of society in the capitals of Prussia and
Austria. But in Frankfort, in every walk of life, the barrier between
the religions was an impassable one.

All Jews were compelled to live in the narrow, mean, over-populated
Judengasse, which was their only place of abode for 334 years, from
1462 onwards. The contrast we read of in novels between the outward
meanness and inward splendour of the Ghettos did not exist here; the
interiors of the houses corresponded to their exteriors; in the small,
dark rooms no display of splendour or of taste was possible. A few
years ago we had the best of all opportunities of judging of the kind
of life the inhabitants of the Judengasse must have lived. One side
of the street was pulled down, and a single stunted row of deformed,
hunchbacked, cramped, startled-looking houses, in which great gaps had
already been made by the axe of the leveller, was exposed to the full
light of day, from which their little blinking bull's-eye windows gave
them the appearance of shrinking.

As soon as it began to grow dark, all the inhabitants of the Ghetto
were locked in. When they walked through the streets or round the
ramparts in the day-time, they dared not set foot on the pavement
or foot-paths, but had to keep to the middle of the road. They were
obliged to take off their hats and make a low bow to every passer-by
who called: "Mach mores, Jud'!" In order to prevent their too rapid
increase, only fourteen couples were permitted to marry each year.
Although even at that time a large proportion of the Frankfort Jews,
with Rothschild at their head, were wealthy, a strong society barrier
existed between the religions. They were even separated in the Masonic
Lodges, which are consecrated to "brotherly love" and the worship of
"the highest Being."

It is clear that such a condition of things must have had a strong
influence on a receptive young mind.

On the 6th of May 1786, in house No. 118 of that Judengasse which has
now disappeared, there was born to the "Jew merchant Jakob Baruch" a
third son, the same who in 1818, shortly before his baptism, exchanged
the name Juda Low Baruch, given him at his birth, for that of Ludwig
Börne. The family stood in very high estimation. Börne's grandfather
was a rich and remarkably benevolent man. He built and fitted up a
synagogue for the community at his own expense. He was the business
agent at Neckarsulm of the Teutonic Order, and was thence transferred,
on account of his ability and honesty, to Mergentheim, the headquarters
of the Order, where he took up his residence. An Electorship becoming
vacant, he did such good service, in the course of the election, to
the House of Hapsburg, that Maria Theresa with her own hand signed a
document promising all sorts of privileges to him and his descendants
if they should at any time take up their abode in Austria.

This man's son, Jakob Baruch, inherited, it seems, his father's ability
and sagacity without his orthodox religious faith. He was a clever man
of business, with considerable diplomatic talent, much esteemed at
courts and by high officials for his knowledge of human nature, his
clearsightedness and coolness; a cold, prudent man, to whom life had
taught the lesson that the best thing those in his position could do
was to live quietly and thus avoid exciting hatred. He held enlightened
opinions on religious subjects, and the wearisome Jewish ceremonial,
which, chiefly for his father's sake, he felt obliged to observe with
all his household, was a burden to him personally. It was not till late
in life that he tried to emancipate himself. Being a rich man's son,
he had received a fair education; it is said that he was at the same
school in Bonn as Prince Metternich; but his cautiousness led him to
give strict orders to his own son's one tutor to confine himself to the
old Jewish course of instruction--the Bible, the prayer-book, and the

The boy was quiet and shy. As he was the one of her children his mother
cared least for, and was constantly in disgrace with the tyrannical old
servant, his home-life was one of severe discipline, his father too,
no doubt with the manifestation of independence in thought or action.
One result of this was, that when he first came into contact with the
outer world, his emotions blunted, his intellect doubly keen, he looked
at everything from the purely intellectual point of view. A thing was
stupid or not stupid, and that was all.[2]

The religious observances of his home and of the synagogue aroused in
the boy a feeling of aversion as dead ritual; the religious instruction
he received at home made as little impression on him as his attendance
at the synagogue. Certain prayers, as, for instance, the prayer for the
reinstitution of sacrificial worship, displeased him, in spite of his
boyish orthodoxy. To the horror of those about him, he said: "That is a
stupid prayer."

His learning was mere committing to memory, his teacher not believing
himself what he taught; and it was all quickly forgotten. As a grown
man, he did not know a single word of Hebrew, had no understanding
whatever of Jewish customs, and no affection even for the Old
Testament, of which Heine was such an enthusiastic admirer. The man who
himself reminds us of an Old Testament prophet, has not one allusion
to the prophets in all his writings. From time to time, indeed, with
complete indifference, and merely as a well-known illustration, he
refers to some Bible narratives; but as Steinthal acutely observes,
he quotes even such a passage as Samuel's republican warning against
the establishment of a kingdom, which one would expect to excite his
every sympathy, as if he were quoting one of Æsop's fables.[3]

Schiller's essay, _The Mission of Moses_, was the first hint of a
rational conception of religion that reached the boy. It made a deep
impression on him, and shook his faith. Naïvely simple as the essay
is, with its implicit trust in the historic accuracy of the Bible
narrative, it yet inevitably produced a revolution in the mind of the
youthful reader, who now for the first time saw the most important
events in the life of his people and of their lawgiver divested of
every miraculous element, Providence itself being superseded by

Various anecdotes exist, illustrating the awakening of the spirit of
criticism in the boy, and the play of the different forces which formed
his character. One day, when it was raining heavily and the road was
inch-deep in mud, he was walking with his tutor outside the gates of
the town. "Let us walk on the footpath," said Börne. "Do you not know,"
answered the teacher, "that we are forbidden to do that?" The boy's
reply, "no one sees us," gave the tutor an opportunity for a moral
exhortation, with remarks on the sacredness of law. "That is a stupid
law," said Börne.

The tutor was careful to avoid occasions of exciting bitterness in the
child. But there were so many. No Jew was allowed to be present at
any open-air public amusements, not even at a balloon ascent. On all
festive occasions, as, for instance, when the town was decorated for
the reception of royal guests, the Jews were shut up in the Judengasse;
on the day of the coronation of Leopold II. some of their leading men
ventured out, but were at once arrested and taken to the guard-house.
They were prohibited from entering most of the hotels, and from setting
foot in any public grounds or open spaces. The general rule was: Where
there is green grass, no Jew must be seen. On Sundays the gates of
the Judengasse were locked at four o'clock in the afternoon, and the
sentry allowed no one to pass out except persons taking letters to the
post-house or going for medicine to the apothecary's. Little Börne used
to say: "I only don't go out because the sentry is stronger than I am."
Yet when the boy, who early showed signs of a distinctly benevolent
disposition, was accosted one day by two beggars, the one a Jew, the
other a Christian, it was to the latter he gave all the money he had
in his pocket. "Why do you not give the preference to one of your own
people?" asked the tutor. "Because it is written in the Proverbs of
Solomon that we are to heap coals of fire on our enemies' heads." The
conscientious tutor would not hear of this reason: "it was based on the
false assumption that the Christians are the enemies of the Jews."

It is easy to understand that such impressions, received in childhood,
must have caused Börne's ancestry to weigh more upon his mind than it
would have done under normal conditions. And even if he could have
forgotten it, the frequent humiliations experienced in his youth, and
in later years the perpetual allusions to his nationality made both by
his opponents and his champions, would have constantly reminded him of
it. With reference to these perpetual allusions he writes in _Briefe
aus Paris_ (Feb. 7, 1832): "It is like a miracle! The thing is always
happening, and yet is always new to me. One set of people reproach me
with being a Jew; another set forgive me for it; a third go the length
of praising me for it; but they one and all think of it. It is as if
they had been conjured into this magic Jewish circle; none of them can
get clear of it. And I know quite well what is the evil spell. These
poor Germans! They live in the basement, weighed down by seven stories
of higher ranks, and it eases their perturbed minds to talk of human
beings who live even lower down than they do, right down in the cellar.
The fact that they are not Jews consoles them for not even being
court-councillors (_Hofräthe_)."

It cannot, however, be asserted that Börne was peculiarly sensitive
on the subject of his Jewish extraction. He often declaimed with
the greatest indignation against the oppression of the unfortunate
inhabitants of the Ghettos, but he could not do what many expected
of him, could not advocate the emancipation of the Jews with greater
warmth than other kindred causes. A pursuit of liberty with only that
end in view he looked upon as one-sided and egoistic.

Moreover, the Jews inspired him with a feeling of dissatisfaction,
of aversion, originating in the antipathy which Frankfort commerce,
consisting chiefly in banking business, early awoke in the born poet
and idealist. It horrified him to hear a Frankfort merchant speak with
the same enthusiasm and ardour of Rothschild or the Austrian loan, with
which "a lover of art would speak of a Raphael." In 1822 he wrote: "My
aversion from traders and Jews, as such, has reached a climax, now that
I have got away from Frankfort, and see what it really means to enjoy
life." Börne was by no means incapable of appreciating great commercial
undertakings from the æsthetic as well as the practical point of view.
Not many years later, the exchange and the harbour of Hamburg excite
his lively admiration. But the Frankfort merchants, Rothschild among
them, appeared to him, with their speculations in government stock, to
be connected with what he abhorred above everything--the dismembered
state of Germany and the Metternichian principles. His writings abound
in thrusts at "the ennobled German Jews, who are on terms of the most
familiar intimacy with all the ministers and royal mistresses," and
in consequence look with complete indifference on the Poles' struggle
for liberty. Rothschild especially is to him the symbol of evil: "The
government could not be more despicable if Rothschild the Jew were
king, and had formed a ministry of bill-brokers.... Rothschild will
stand till the last day of kings. What a day of reckoning! what a
crash!" In his bitter hatred of him he goes so far as to call it a
disgrace to the Jewish nation when Rothschild is sentenced in Paris to
two days' imprisonment for declining, in spite of repeated warnings,
to have his cabriolet numbered. Börne had, of course, no personal
enmity to the man, but he detests him as "the great broker of all those
State loans which give monarchs the power to defy liberty." Being
firmly persuaded, after the Revolution of July, that another great
revolution was close at hand, he mistakenly considers it stupid of the
Jews to curry favour with those in power throughout Europe. But he is
right when he calls them "stupider than cattle" for imagining that in
the event of a threatening revolution they will be protected by the

With sound political judgment he perceives, what events in Russia have
confirmed, that it is exactly at such a time that those in power will
deliver them up to the tender mercies of popular hatred in order to
escape themselves.[4]

The fact of Börne's being born without the pale of Christian society
did not produce in him any excessive sympathy with his co-religionists;
but the severe discipline of his joyless childhood, the coldness of his
parents, the aversion aroused in him by the cupidity, cowardly caution,
and other vices generated by oppression which he observed in those
around him, all contributed to forge a spirit that could never be bent,
softened, or broken--a character on whose adamantine firmness neither
flattery nor threats made the smallest impression. The severity of this
character of ermine-white purity, a severity born of the burning love
of justice, at times clad itself in the garment of humorous irony, at
times in that of scathing ire. As a writer Börne was for Germany much
what Paul Louis Courier was for France, that is to say, a political
tribune, as satirical and as liberty-loving as the Frenchman, less
clear-sighted in matters of the day, but with more feeling, more
imagination, an all-round richer nature.[5]

For in Börne's case firmness of character did not preclude gentleness
of disposition. The weak, always rather sickly boy, who grew up
in a sunless street, shut off from fresh air and from nature, was
tender-hearted. The germ of tenderness in his nature was perhaps first
developed by reading that German author who exercised most influence
on the formation of his opinions and his style--Jean Paul. It is from
Jean Paul, his best comforter in the dark days of his youth, that
Börne, the author, is directly descended.

To him Jean Paul was the poet of those who are born in obscurity. He
loved him as the spokesman of those who suffer wrong. He saw in him
a priest of justice, an apostle of mercy. His famous commemorative
oration gives us some idea of his youthful enthusiasm, and at the same
time shows what it was in Jean Paul's style that he endeavoured to
make his own. Real emotion makes itself felt through the artificial
antitheses in such a passage as this:--

"We will sorrow for him whom we have lost, and for those who have not
lost him. For he did not live for all. But the time is coming when he
will be born for all, and then all will mourn for him. He stands with
a patient smile at the gates of the twentieth century, waiting till
his lagging people overtake him. Then he will lead the tired and the
famishing into his city of love."

And there is clever character-drawing in such lines as the following:--

"In countries the towns only are counted; in towns, only the towers,
the temples, and the palaces; in houses, their masters; in nations,
parties; and in parties, their leaders.... By narrow, overgrown paths
Jean Paul sought out the neglected village. In the nation he counted
the human beings, in towns the house-roofs, and under every roof each

It was possibly Jean Paul's political attitude which first brought
Börne under his spell. Jean Paul early took his place in German
literature as the inheritor of Herder's cosmopolitan sentiments and
doctrines. Herder had persistently exalted love of humanity, at the
expense of patriotism and national antipathy. Jean Paul continued
to proclaim the common brotherhood of man. All his writings were,
moreover, pervaded by a general spirit of political liberalism,
resembling that formulated in the Declaration of the Rights of Man,
which had electrified him; and he treats of sovereigns, courts, and
the great world generally, in a tone of sustained irony. At times he
regards as close at hand a coming golden age, in which it will no
longer be possible for nations, but only for individuals, to sin, and
from which the spectre of war shall have disappeared; at other times
he relegates it to a very far off future; but the rapidity of what was
and is called _historic progress_ induced both him and his disciple to
imagine that universal brotherhood was not very distant.

It was, however, not only his grand conception of the future that made
Jean Paul so attractive to Börne, but also the idyllic and satiric
qualities of his talent. Börne adopted some of his comical names of
places (_Kuhschnappel Flachsenfingen_), and as a young man imitated
his humorous style. Many of the short tales and sketches contributed
to periodical literature--the comic _Esskünstler am Hoteltisch,
Allerhochstdieselben, Hof- und Commerzienräthe, Die Thurn und Taxissche
Post_ (the postal system of the day), &c. &c.--are in Jean Paul's
manner, though Börne keeps closer to reality both in his facts and
his local colouring than Jean Paul does. Börne attacks State, Church,
executive, manners, and customs in Jean Pauls farcical fashion; but he
has not his predecessor's stores of observation to fall back on, and
does not approach him in variety of knowledge.

By way of compensation, his style is in many ways superior to Jean

Börne, who was not gifted with any profound artistic feeling, or
delicate appreciation of style, admired the inartistic in Jean Paul
as being unartificial. He did not feel that the profusion of imagery
was collected from here, there, and everywhere, and was seldom the
natural outgrowth of the subject it adorned. That Oriental wealth of
simile, that flowery luxuriance of language, pleased his taste as being
poetical; and the want of harmony in the periods, the heavy ballast of
the innumerable parenthetic clauses, were to his ear only evidences of
the naturalness of the style. To him, too, Goethe's plastic art was
only coldness, while the impersonal style of Goethe's old age was a
horror. When he read Jean Paul's works, the living, restless ego in
them came forth to meet his own warm-hearted, passionate ego.

He unconsciously remoulded Jean Paul's style on the lines of his
own individuality, that individuality which discloses itself in his
earliest letters, and whose distinguishing traits were modified or
developed, but never altered. There were no wildernesses, no primeval
forests in his mind, as there were in Jean Paul's. He did not think
of ten things at a time, all inextricably entwined. No; in his case
both fancy and reasoning-power were clear, and concise in expression.
His acquaintance with Johannes von Müller's works early produced a
propensity for pithy, Tacitus-like brevity. From the first there was
a half French, half Jewish tendency to antitheses and contrast in his
style. He loved symmetry of thought and symmetry of language; his
spiritual _tempo_ was quick; as a writer he was short-winded. Hence
short, sharp, strong sentences following each other at a gallop; no
rounded periods. Metaphors abound; yet they are not so numerous as to
jostle each other out of place, and all are apt and suggestive; he
did not ransack note-books for them, like Jean Paul; they presented
themselves in modest abundance. He employed similes freely; but in
his clear-headed fashion he arranged them almost algebraically in his
sentences, so that they produce the effect rather of equations than of
scattered flowers.

By degrees his decidedly marked individuality took shape in a decidedly
individual humorous style. Jean Paul's humour spreads itself throughout
lengthy and discursive investigations, narratives, romances; not so
Börne's. He was never able to produce a political, poetical, critical,
or historical work of any length; he could not write books, only pages.
His was an essentially journalistic talent.[6] And this determines the
character of his humour.

Playful humour was his, but also that sarcastic wit which stings like
a lash, and yet thrills and touches by an indirect appeal to the
feelings; his that bitterness of complaint and accusation which assumes
the conciliatory form of an attempt to comfort; and that melancholy,
which with a smile and a whimsical conceit rises above time and place.
But something similar to this might be said of other great humorists.
What distinguishes Börne (from Sterne, Jean Paul, and others) is, in
the first place, the strength, the violence of the reaction produced in
him by all the occurrences of the day which came within the bounds of
his horizon. A comparatively trifling incident in real, and especially
in public, life is sufficient to set all the chords of his being in
vibration. The second peculiarity is that all occurrences directly
act upon one and the same point in his spiritual life, that passion
for liberty which was born of the keenest sense of justice. One of
his critics, Steinthal, explains in a masterly manner the connection
between this fact and the fact of his inability to produce a great
work. He never thought systematically, never combined with each other
all the many things that one after the other occupied and affected
his mind, but looked on each separately in its relation to the centre
point of his being.[7] His humour brought the miserable reality into
juxtaposition with the ideal demand of his intellect; but he gave no
picture of the different elements of reality, he merely focussed them.

Given such a state of matters, it is easy to understand how inevitable
it was, not only that Börne should place Schiller high above Goethe,
but also that he should consider Jean Paul to be greatly Schiller's
superior. And it is highly characteristic that what he objects to in
Schiller is not his purely poetical shortcomings, but his want of moral
idealism. We are accustomed to think of Schiller as unassailable on
this point, but to Börne's ruthless severity of moral requirement he
is not so. Börne's pronouncement on the character of Wilhelm Tell is
especially enlightening. To him Tell is nothing but a Philistine--
a good citizen, father, and husband, but a man the essence of whose
character is submissiveness. He did not appear at the Rüth, that
meeting-place of the elect, to take the oath; he had not the courage to
be a conspirator. His words:

"Der Starke ist am mächtigsten _allein_"--
(The strong man is strongest alone)

are to Börne the philosophy of weakness; a man who has only the
strength necessary to get the better of himself, is strongest alone,
but he that has strength to spare after gaining the mastery over
himself, will rule others also. The critic reviews Tell's actions one
by one. Tell does not uncover to the hat on the pole, but his is not
the noble defiance of the lover of liberty; it is only Philistine
pride, a mixture of a sense of honour with fear; he passes the pole
with his eyes cast down, that he may be able to say he has not seen it.
And when Gessler calls him to account, he is humble--so humble that we
are ashamed of him; he says the omission was accidental, and shall not
occur again.

The famous apple incident arouses no admiration in Börne. A father
may dare everything for his child's life, but he has no right to
hazard that life. Why did Tell not shoot the tyrant at once instead
of beseeching like a woman with his reiterated "Lieber Herr! lieber
Herr!"? He deserved to have his ears boxed. And when the governor, in
the storm on the lake, trusted himself to him, as enemy trusts enemy,
was it not treachery and a knavish trick on Tell's part to leap on
shore, push the boat out into the lake and leave him to the mercy of
the storm? Börne finds strong cause of offence in the speech:

   "Ich aber sprach: Ja, Herr mit Gottes Hilfe
    Getrau ich mir's, und helf uns wohl hindannen.
    So ward ich meiner Bande los und stand
    Am Steuerruder und _fuhr redlich hin._"[8]

"How," exclaims the critic, "are we to explain such Jesuitry in the
simple-minded man? It is inconceivable to me, too, that any one can
consider Tell's next action moral, much less beautiful--he lies in
safe ambush, and kills his enemy, who has no idea that he is in danger."

No one can be surprised that a man in whose spiritual organism the
sense of justice was so sharply, so intensely developed that it almost
took the place of the æsthetic sense, should be wanting in the organ
of appreciation for Goethe, whose craving for justice was undoubtedly
less developed.

In 1802, after one or two years' residence with a professor at Giessen,
young Börne was sent to Berlin, his father being obliged to give in
to his desire to study, although on account of his religion this
could only lead to his becoming a doctor, a profession for which as
yet he showed no turn whatever. He boarded in the house of the famous
physician and Kantian, Marcus Herz, whose public lectures on philosophy
had drawn such crowded and influential audiences, that the appointment
of Professor of Philosophy was conferred on him before any University
of Berlin existed. Herz was an eminent physician, a clear thinker, and
a good orator; a friend of Lessing, whose poetry he valued as highly as
his critical writings. Hence the mysticism of the Romantic school, more
especially Hardenberg's, was to him both meaningless and obnoxious.
As he died in 1803, his influence on young Börne's development was
inconsiderable. All the more powerful was the impression made on the
youth by Herz's famous wife, Henriette, _née_ Lemos. She was seventeen
years younger than her husband, to whom she was betrothed, without
her consent being asked, at the age of twelve. Remarkably beautiful,
mistress of many languages, admired by numbers of the most eminent
scientific men and authors of the day, she made her house one of the
most frequented, most talked of, most looked up to in Berlin. She was
thirty-eight, Börne sixteen, but this naturally did not prevent the
young man from at once falling violently, though hopelessly, in love
with the most beautiful, most distinguished woman it had been his lot
to meet.

The charming Henriette presented in outward appearance, as well as in
character, a marked contrast to her little, clever, ugly husband; she
was a faultless beauty, tall and stately as Queen Louise, with the
small head we see on Greek statues. She went by the name of the Tragic
Muse or the Beautiful Circassian. She was worshipped by Wilhelm von
Humboldt, by Mirabeau, by Schleiermacher, and after her husband's death
she was surrounded by a bevy of men of position, who all wooed the fair
widow in vain. She refused all offers, in spite of her poverty rejected
even the hand of the richest noblemen in Germany, and took the place of
governess to the future Empress of Russia. She was as severely virtuous
as she was intoxicatingly beautiful. She was on terms of intimacy with
more than one man, but always within the strict bounds of friendship.

In her circle a line was drawn between the admissible coquetry which
aims at enthralling the whole man, and the inadmissible, which only
aims at enthralling his senses. She herself belonged to the dangerous
class of virtuous flirts. Of a passionless temperament and much
addicted to sentimental moralising, she founded in her younger days a
"Tugendbund" (league of virtue), in which Wilhelm von Humboldt played
the principal part, and of which old and young, known and unknown men,
were members. They called each other Thou, wrote long letters to each
other in foreign languages or in Greek or Hebrew characters, exchanged
rings or silhouettes, aimed at each other's "moral development,"
desired "to attain happiness by self-devotion" (unencumbered by
duties, for self-devotion knows no duties), and ignored the rules and
regulations of conventional propriety--but in all chastity and honour.
Rahel laughed at them, and would have nothing to do with the league.

The letters the members of the league exchanged bear a strong
resemblance to those which passed a little later in Denmark between
Kamma Rahbek and Molbech. They were absorbed in their own feelings,
but in constant self-examination, thereby naturally depriving their
feelings of all freshness. Friends of different sexes explained to
each other in interminable letters, with written tears, how they
mutually supplemented and developed one another. They tore themselves
up into lint, and contemplated themselves in this unravelled condition;
they did not collect themselves for each other's benefit, but spun
themselves out. They put their inner man under pressure till the
result was a liquid--tears, heart's blood, or such like--and this
they poured into the bosom of a like-minded friend, without themselves
becoming in any way more remarkable or original under this treatment.

The beautiful and noble Henriette Herz herself was less an original
personality than what the Germans call an "Anempfinderin." From the
remarkable men with whom she came in contact, she seldom assimilated
more than what she picked up from a surface knowledge of their ways
and doings. What brought her particularly into notice was the tender
friendship existing between her and Schleiermacher. It was much talked
about in Berlin, but with no insinuation of evil. The contrast was too
striking between the "Tragic Muse" and little Schleiermacher, whose
distinguished head was set upon a fragile, slightly deformed body.
People smiled good-naturedly when they saw the little pastor coming
out of Henriettas house in the evening with a lantern fastened to the
button of his coat, or when they met him in the daytime hanging on the
arm of his majestic Melpomene. A caricature appeared, in which she was
represented carrying him--the jewel, as he was called--in her hand,
like a parasol.[9]

Even if young Börne had been the fresh, red-cheeked youth he was
not, he would hardly have made much impression on his proud, spoiled
foster-mother. At first she did not even understand what was the matter
with the young man, whose passion--described in his own memoranda
was a real school-boy worship, of the kind produced at his age by
half-conscious instinct and exaggerated ideas of the perfection of
woman. One or two attempts which he made, through the medium of the
servant, to procure arsenic from an apothecary's, opened Henriette
Herz's eyes to the position, and she did her best, by an admixture
of kindness with strictness, to bring him to reason.[10] That she was
not quite insensible to his adoration, or quite innocent of a certain
amount of coquetry, which masqueraded in this case as motherliness,
is shown by the following little incident. Börne had taken her to be
between twenty-eight and thirty, but at the dinner-table, on the 3rd of
December 1802, she told him that she was thirty-four. In the evening
she added two to this figure, but she never acknowledged more than
the thirty-six, and on the 5th of March 1803, Börne still supposes
this to be her age. So the charming "Frau Mutter," as she allowed him
to call her, made herself two years younger than she was. Naturally
he continued to love, to admire, to despair, to suffer the pangs of
hell because of her indifference, and to feel the bliss of heaven when
she smiled at him or said a friendly word; also to be so suspicious,
bitter, unreasonable, and capricious that at last it became necessary
to send him away.

He went to Halle to continue his studies there. As he was leaving he
handed her the diary of his emotions--she had, it seems, advised
him to pour forth his sorrows on paper--and a number of passionate
letters addressed to herself. He continued to write to her from Halle
with unchangeable devotion and passionate longing, but in absence he
soon so far recovers himself as no longer to be entirely absorbed
in the sifting of his own feelings; we presently have calm and
entertaining criticism of his surroundings, and a certain dignified
self-esteem, combined with self-criticism. In these letters we already
notice the characteristic combination of enthusiasm for ideas,
indignant denunciation of slavishness, and sharp satire. They give
us an understanding of Börne's real nature--a temperament to which
licentiousness presents as little temptation as does drink, a soul that
suffers under weakness of body, suffers from the inward conflict that
ensues where there is courage without power, love that meets no return,
undefined longing to do great deeds without any definite aim. Here and
there we come upon a threat of what, when once his powers are matured,
awaits the Philistine crowd that now smile at him--upon a wrathful
presentiment of future humiliations, and fiery projects of revenge on
those who, as he already knows, will shamelessly revile him because of
his birth, and torture him by calling his reserve cowardice.[11]
It is plain that one result of young Börne's stay in Berlin has been
the maturing of his emotional life, and also that his intellectual
powers have been stimulated by his being brought into contact, in
Marcus and Henriette Herz's house, with the most eminent men of the day.

Börne was studying at Halle when the battle of Jena was fought. Shortly
afterwards that university was suppressed by Napoleon, and he went to
pursue his studies at Heidelberg, full of patriotic rancour against the
French, to which he gave vent in a pamphlet which the censor refused
to pass. Whilst one result of Napoleon's triumphal progress was the
expulsion of the students from Halle, another was a complete revolution
in the political conditions of Börne's native town. In 1806 Dalberg,
as "Prince-Primas" of the newly formed Rhenish Confederation, took
possession of Frankfort-on-Main. One of his first acts was to improve
the position of the Jews, and in 1810 Napoleon issued an ordinance
removing all burdens resting upon them and upon serfs. In 1811 the
Jewish community in Frankfort received the full rights of citizens,
in consideration of a sum of 440,000 guldens, which was paid up by
the following year. The first result of all this, as far as Börne was
concerned, was that he gave up the study of medicine, which he had
taken to unwillingly, and only because he was debarred from every
other, and entered on that of political economy and jurisprudence, as
opening the way to a government appointment. In 1818 he took the degree
of Doctor of Philosophy.

His father, who had been extremely dissatisfied with his want of
application as a student, and with being constantly called on to
pay small debts, and who was now no less dissatisfied with him for
throwing up the study of medicine, insisted that he should begin to
support himself, and procured for him a small post in the Frankfort
police establishment, an appointment which contrasts comically with the
position which he afterwards took as an author.

He was appointed "Aktuarius," sat in the old, dark Römer building,
examined passports and journeymen's certificates, entered minutes, and
on state occasions, dressed in uniform and wearing a sword, represented
local authority.

But he had also by this time made his _début_ as a writer. He
contributed to a Frankfort daily paper articles crammed with primeval
German rhetoric, defying the mighty Corsican with a patriotic
enthusiasm which he at times allows to run away with common sense. They
are appeals to the youth of Germany, and passionate expressions of
blind, loyal faith in the rulers of Germany.[12] He is absolutely
hopeful of the result of "the war of liberation."

He had no foreboding that he himself would be one of the first victims
of victory. Hardly had the Emperors of Russia and Austria and the King
of Prussia entered Frankfort, when the seven years' rule of Prince
Dalberg came to an end. The Grand Duchy of Frankfort was blotted from
the list of States, and the old constitution came into force again. The
citizenship which the Jews had acquired at such a high price was simply
taken from them again, of course without the return of the money. "It
was," writes Karl Gutzkow, "as if the couriers who rushed back and
forwards between Vienna, where the Peace Congress was sitting, and
the other German towns where reactionary congresses were being held,
tore furrows in the blood-manured soil of Germany, in which the ruling
powers dared to sow the seed of the old prejudices and privileges."

The fall of the French power deprived Börne of his appointment, and his
brothers in misfortune of their rights as men; he was impersonal enough
in his way of looking at things to consider the foreign rule a disgrace
from first to last.

It is not surprising that Goethe's indifference to this, as to other
results of the great reaction, strengthened Börne's hatred for a
personality that appeared great upon no side accessible to him. In
his notice of Bettina's book, _Goethe's Briefwechsel mit einem Kinde_
("Goethe's Correspondence with a Child")--perhaps the most misleading
criticism he ever wrote--Börne says: "What made Goethe, that greatest
of poets, the smallest of men? What entwined hops and parsley in his
wreath of laurel? What set a night-cap on his lofty brow? What made him
a slave of circumstances, a cowardly Philistine, a mere provincial?
He was a Protestant, and his family belonged to the ruling class in
Frankfort, from among whom its senators were chosen. At the age of
sixty, at the zenith of his fame, with the incense-clouds under his
feet separating and sheltering him from the base passions of the
valley-dweller, it angered him to hear that the Frankfort Jews demanded
the rights of citizens, and he foamed with rage at the 'humanitarian
twaddlers' who championed their cause."

It was his relations with the great ones of the earth that Börne could
least of all forgive Goethe.

He overlooked the fact that the generation that lay between him and
Goethe meant a complete change in the position of the author towards
men of rank and the public generally. In Germany in the eighteenth
century authors did not live on their works, but on their dedications.
Poets were obliged to seek the favour of a high-born patron, to educate
young noblemen, or accompany young princes on their educational tours.
Wieland accepted money in return for his dedications; Schiller gladly
accepted the assistance which the Duke of Augustenburg procured for him
from Denmark. In the end of the eighteenth century, kings, princes,
and the aristocracy generally, took a true and keen interest in
philosophy and poetry, in all the new truth and beauty; they sought the
acquaintance of authors, and associated with them as with their equals.
With the French Revolution these admirable relations came to an end,
but Goethe's position dated from before the Revolution.

Börne blinded himself with gazing at disconnected expressions of
Goethe's veneration for rank. Somewhere or other he copies this passage
from Goethe's diary: "I afterwards had the unexpected happiness of
being permitted to pay my homage to their Imperial Highnesses the
Grand Duke Nicholas and his consort, in my own house and garden. The
Grand Duchess graciously allowed me to write some lines of poetry
in her elegantly splendid album." Börne adds: "This he wrote in his
seventy-first year. What youthful power!" The older Börne grew, and
the more he developed, by his own conscious volition, into a simple
incarnation of political conviction, into a being of whose feelings,
talents, and wit political conviction had taken possession, to whom it
had become a religion, with all the outward expressions of religion,
faith, worship, fanaticism--the more unworthy and contemptible did
Goethe's rôle of spectator of the political struggles of the day
appear to him. Elsewhere he writes: "I have finished Goethe's journal.
No drier or more lifeless soul exists in the wide world, and nothing
can be more comical than the simplicity with which he lays bare his
own callousness.... And these are the consuls chosen by the German
people--Goethe, who, more timid than a mouse, burrows in the ground,
and gladly dispenses with light, air, liberty, everything, so long
as he is left in peace in his hole gnawing at his stolen bacon; and
Schiller, more noble, but equally faint-hearted, who seeks refuge
from tyranny above the clouds, where he vainly cries to the gods for
aid, and, dazzled by the sun, loses sight of the earth, and forgets
the human beings whom he intended to help. And meanwhile the unhappy
country, without leaders, without guardians, without advisers, without
protectors, falls a prey to its kings, and the nation becomes a byeword
among nations."

From the summer of 1818 onwards, Börne, who till then had only
published an occasional pamphlet, appears as an independent journalist,
publisher of the _Die Wage_ ("The Balance"), most of the articles in
which he wrote himself. He was the first German journalist in the
grand style, and first to make the periodical press of Germany a
power. The possessors of the now rare numbers of that old epoch-making
magazine "of politics, science, and art," look on them as treasures.
Its success is to be ascribed to its publisher and chief contributor's
lively style and apt wit. It treated of politics, literature, and the
drama, and had on its staff men like Görres (before his conversion) and
Willemer, Goethe's rationalistic, liberal-minded friend ("Suleika's"
husband); but whatever the subject under treatment might be, it took
a political colouring from the manner in which it was approached. For
three months of the four years during which Börne continued to publish
_Die Wage_, he was also editor of the daily newspaper, _Zeitung der
freien Stadt Frankfurt_, a position he had to give up because of the
constant annoyance to which he was subjected by the censorship. He
afterwards edited another daily paper, _Die Zeitschwingen_; but this
was suppressed, and its editor sentenced to a short imprisonment. Börne
now paid his first visit to Paris, whence he for a time wrote letters
for Cotta's various periodical publications; but by 1822 he was again
in Germany, where a long and dangerous illness soon swallowed up all
his savings, and compelled him to apply to his father for assistance.

His father was exceedingly dissatisfied with him. All his other
children did him credit, he said; but this son, now unable to support
himself, had had a most expensive education, and what was there to show
for it? He could do nothing but write articles with a tendency highly
disapproved of by his (the father's) patron, Prince Metternich, in
Vienna. What was the good of making enemies for himself? of attacking
the great? Was it becoming in his position of life? What position,
indeed, did he suppose himself to occupy, seeing he allowed himself
such liberty of speech? By this time he might have been a doctor in
good practice, or a barrister, and counsel for Rothschild; instead of
which he elected to be a hack writer for periodicals, spending the
trifle he got for his articles on travelling, and closing every avenue
to success by his impious attacks on those in authority.

And Börne's father had sufficient political sagacity to be aware
that it was quite unnecessary for his son to be either a doctor or
an advocate in order to find lucrative employment. He knew very well
where Herr von Gentz's and Herr Friedrich von Schlegel's bank-drafts
came from. And besides, had not his son Maria Theresa's promise to fall
back on?[13]

From the very commencement of Börne's career as a journalist, his
talent had attracted the attention of the great reactionaries. On the
18th of May 1819, Rahel writes that Gentz has recommended _Die Wage_ to
her, as containing the cleverest, wittiest writing of the day, the best
of its kind since Lessing's time. Börne's father was perfectly aware
that Herr von Gentz praised his son's style, and Prince Metternich
his grasp of politics.[14] So he privately set to work to secure an
advantageous sphere of operation for him on the sunny side of society.
Before young Börne was told anything about it, Metternich had eagerly
come forward with the most liberal proposals: The young man was to
live in Vienna with the title, position, and emoluments of an Imperial
Councillor (kaiserlicher Rath), and with no claim made on him for any
service in return. Everything he chose to write was to be entirely
exempt from censorship; he should be his own censor. And if, in the
course of a few months, he should elect to give up his appointment, he
was to be free to do so. In such a position he would have the very best
opportunity of working for the cause of progress and humanity.

His father wrote: "Dear Louis! I beg of you to read this letter as
carefully as I have read it. Believe me, the independence you prize so
highly is an uncertain possession; will you, can you retain it? Why
should not you, too, at last think of making a settled position for
yourself?... On what is your present bliss founded? Surely not on the 500
francs (Cotta's monthly payment)? Make up your mind, for the sake of
your future, to take a journey to Vienna at my expense; I beseech of
you not to throw away this chance of success...."

Börne refused everything point blank, refused to hold any communication
with those in power.[15] Goethe might allow himself to be appointed
Privy Councillor at a court, but he, Börne, would not. And yet the
temptation must have been greater in the case of the born plebeian,
who had had to take off his hat at the bidding of every passer-by,
than it was in the case of the great patrician. In reading the hard,
contemptuous, and unjust words which Börne wrote of Goethe, we must not
forget that behind these words there was a man who would not do what
Goethe did.

Börne was devoid of artistic sense in the strict acceptation of the
term. He frankly confessed the fact himself, and, moreover, betrays it
in his intolerance of those to whom it is a matter of indifference what
the artist represents, but all-important how he represents it. Artists
and connoisseurs of this type are utterly repugnant to him. It disgusts
him that any man can prefer a painting of still life to a painting of a
Madonna. His natural bias towards the lofty, the sublime, the divine,
leads him to demand these qualities in art, and to declare frankly
that all works of art in which these qualities are wanting, are to him
simply daubs or monstrosities.[16]

We cannot agree with Steinthal when he says that Börne was at home in
every domain of culture, every sphere of artistic production; for that
very branch of art to which the name art is more specially applied, was
a sealed book to him. This naturally did not prevent his writing much
that is sensible and instructive about works of art; but what he wrote
is not art criticism.

Börne has been often and much praised for his energetic condemnation
of the German fatalistic tragedies (_Schicksalstragödien_) which
began in his day to take possession of the stage and to confuse men's
minds. But it is to be observed that it is not as æsthetically
reprehensible that he objects to them; he looks at the matter from
the moral or religious point of view. The belief that a certain date,
say the 24th of February, is peculiarly fraught with fate for any
family, is stupid and futile. It has no connection whatever either
with the belief of the ancients in an inevitable, pre-ordained fate,
or with the Christian belief in an omniscient Providence, or with the
modern determinist theory of cause and effect, which has undermined
the earlier belief in so-called freewill. But to Börne the belief in
question is an unreasonable one only because it is a confusion of two
theological systems. His chain of reasoning is this: death is either
a loving father, who takes his child home, in which case fate is not
tragic, or a Kronos, who devours his own children, in which case it is
unchristian.[17] As if that were any objection! It might still be
extremely poetical.

Börne is so clever and clear-headed that his opinion as to the worth
or worthlessness of the many dramas it falls to his lot to criticise
is almost always correct. He thoroughly enters into the spirit of
Oehlenschläger's _Correggio_, and is full of indulgence for the
weaknesses of the play, but quite oblivious to its scenic effect. He
shows thorough appreciation of dramatists like Kleist and Immermann
and young Grillparzer. But when he begins to give his reasons for
blame or praise, the inartistic temperament invariably betrays itself,
and he frequently displays all the many prejudices of the idealist.
He is undoubtedly justified in his unfavourable opinion of Inland's
_Die Spieler_ ("The Gamblers"), for instance. But the justification he
offers is most peculiar: "What has gambling to do on the stage?" he
cries; "one might as well dramatise consumption in all its different
stages." There is only this difference, one would imagine, that
consumption is a physical ailment, gambling a vice. His position is one
that is characteristic of idealism, namely, that there is no need to
go to the theatre to see what we can see at home. He gives as examples
poverty, debt, a faithful wife's patient endurance of hardships; and
instead of remarking on the dull, inartistic spirit in which such
things are represented, he exclaims: "Are these such rare sights that
we should pay money to see them? On the stage, humanity ought to be
raised a step above its common level." And he goes on to explain that
it was for this reason the Greek and Roman tragedians had recourse
to mythic fable, and to maintain that the modern dramatist ought to
represent the real characters of ancient days; or, if nothing will
serve him but to grapple with the present, that he must only venture
to reproduce its passions. We perceive that Börne is possessed by the
naïve belief that the "classic" characters of olden times stood on a
higher level than the human beings of to-day; and that he does not
understand how every-day reality, properly treated, can be refined into

A still stronger proof than these academic utterances of Börne's
inability to appreciate simple, primitive poetry, is his indifference
to the Old Testament. In a letter to Henriette Herz, written in
his nineteenth year, we come upon a passage of absolutely alarming
sterility, dry and senile as a joke on the Pentateuch by Voltaire--
and this after Goethe: "It has always appeared to me as if it had been
the intention of the old Jews, from Abraham down to Solomon the Wise,
to parody the history of the world. Read Joshua or the Book of Kings,
and you will at once be struck by their resemblance to Blumau."[18] A
comparison between these venerable compilations of memorable legends
and historical events and a clumsy German parody of Virgil's _Æneid_
could only be instituted by a critic who, devoid of all appreciation
of antique literary form, set himself to find in every work some
modern sentimental, religious, or political moral. It is quite of a
piece with this that Börne should end by blindly admiring the vague,
half Biblical, half modern unctuous pathos of Lamennais' _Paroles d'un

[1] Hermann Grimm: _Goethe_.

[2] Gutzkow: _Börne's Leben_.--M. Holzmann: _Ludwig Börne. Sein Leben
und Wirken_.

[3] Steinthal: _Ludwig Börne. Illustrirte deutsche Monatshefte_, Juni

[4] L. Börne: _Gesammelte Schriften_. Reclam. Leipzig, III. 112, 129,
167, 173, 209, 244, 259, 313.

[5] See _Main Currents_, iii. chap. xiii.

[6] "Was jeder Morgen brachte, was jeder Tag beschien, was jede Nacht
bedeckte, dieses zu besprechen hatte ich Lust und Muth."

What each morning brought, each day's sun shone on, each night
covered--that was what I had the desire and the courage to discuss.

[7] "Im Centrum seines Geistes trafen unzählige Strahlen zusammen, nur
dass dieselben durch keine Peripherie verbunden waren."

Countless rays were focussed in the central point of his mind, but no
periphery united these rays.

[8] So I said: Yes, my Lord, with God's help I can do it, can bring us
all safe to land. Then I was unloosed, and took the helm and _steered
honourably onward_.

[9] Karl Hillebrand: "La société de Berlin," in _Revue des Deux Mondes_.

[10] Fürst: _Henriette Herz_, p. 185.

[11] _Briefe des jungen Börne an Henriette Herz_, 164, 167. "O, wenn
ich dies bedenke, wie ein Sturm braust es in meinem Innersten, es
möchte die Seele aus ihrem Wohnhaus stürzen, und sich den Leib eines
Löwen suchen, dass sie den Frechen begegnen könnte mit Klauen und
Gebiss." _Translation:_Oh, when I think of this, a storm rages within
me; the soul struggles to burst from its lodging, that it may find for
itself the body of a lion, and rush upon the shameless ones with claws
and teeth.

[12] "Aber lasst uns nicht, männernde Jünglinge, unsere Kraft
vergeuden, sondern die Lust in keuscher Ehe umarmen, damit sie
fruchtbar und unsterblich werde ... Es ziemt uns nicht, uns keck in den
Rath der Fürsten einzudringen; sie sind besser als wir." _Translation:_
But let us not squander our strength, O youths who are becoming men;
let us embrace joy in chaste wedlock, that she may become fruitful and
immortal.... It becomes us not audaciously to thrust ourselves into the
counsels of princes; they are better than we.

[13] Karl Gutzkow: Birne's Leben, Ges. Werke, xii. 328, 329.

[14] Metternich was even acquainted with the later, quite revolutionary
letters from Paris. On the 26th of January 1834, Princess Melanie
Metternich writes in her diary: "I spent the early hours of the evening
with Clemens, to whom I read Börne's _Letters from Paris_. They are
of course as malicious as possible, but the style, with its dæmonic
extravagance, is remarkably clever." (Metternich's _Posthumous Papers_,
v. 545, quoted by Holzmann.)

[15] He writes to his father: "Gentz, too, was doubtless a Liberal
to begin with, but he could give securities for a sincere conversion
which I cannot give. He had been sold to England for many years before
he took service with Austria. He is sensual, extravagant, the most
dissolute man in the country."

[16] "A frog, a cucumber, a leg of mutton, a Wilhelm Meister, a
Christ--it is all the same to them; they actually forgive a Madonna her
holiness, if she is well painted. So am not I, and never was. In nature
I have always sought God, God only, and in art the divine; and where I
did not find God, I saw nothing but miserable botch-work. History, men,
and books I have judged in like manner--unfortunately!"

[17] "I have never been able to understand their conception of fate,
their confusion of the antique with the Romantic idea, their Christian
paganism. Death is either a loving father, who comes to fetch his child
home from the school of life, in which case fate is not tragic; or he
is the cannibal Kronos, who swallows his own children, in which case it
is unchristian. Your fate is a hermaphrodite, unable either to beget or
to bring forth."

[18] _Briefe des jungen Börne,_ p. 143.



But for this lack of poetic-artistic understanding, it would be
difficult to explain how Börne came to take the share he did in the
reaction against Goethe which was set on foot by some of the leading
men of the day. For, though he had a quite individual, spontaneous
animosity to Goethe, Börne was certainly not the originator of the
reaction, which was in full swing before he took any part in it. About
the time when the Pietists were gloating over Pastor Pustkuchen's
parody of the _Wanderjahre_, with its attack on the impiety of Goethe,
the pagan, progressive, youthful politicians were beginning to
approve of investigations into Goethe's political convictions, which
measured them by the very latest standard and made him out to be an
"aristocrat," with no feeling for the people, and in reality with no

The first writer of any note who perseveringly and fanatically devoted
himself to the systematic disparagement of Goethe was Wolfgang Menzel
(born in 1798), a man who before the age of thirty had made his name
famous and feared by the help of a certain coarse literary ability,
tremendous self-assurance, and the severity of his creed as a Liberal,
Nationalist, and moralist. Like Börne, he was originally a disciple of
Jean Paul. But his _Streckverse_ (1823), which were much admired in
their day, and which are unmistakable imitations of that master, carry
Jean Paul's peculiar kind of humour to the verge of caricature. Things
that have no natural connection whatever with each other are forced
into juxtaposition to produce an aphorism, in much the same manner as
totally unconnected ideas are coupled together in a pun. He writes:
"All Saints' Day comes before All Souls'; the prophets reach heaven
before the people." "The religion of antiquity was the crystal-matrix
of many resplendent gods; the Christian religion is the mother-of-pearl
that encloses one god only, but one beyond all price." "This mortal
life is a bastinado." "Every church bell is a diving-bell, beneath
which the pearl of religion is found."[1]

In his periodical, _Deutsche Litteratur_, he began, in 1819, an attack
upon Goethe, which he carried on with insane conceit and immovable
faith in the justice of his cause. He first tried to undermine the
admiration of the reading world for Goethe's originality, examined
his works with the aim of discovering imitations or plagiarisms, and
demonstrated the existence of foreign influence everywhere throughout

In his first connected work on the history of literature, _Die deutsche
Litteratur_, which was published in 1828, in two parts, he calmly
accuses Goethe of having flattered all the prejudices and vanities of
his time. He declares him to be possessed of nothing more than great
descriptive ability, great "talent," which is a thing unattended by
inward conviction, "a hetaira, who is at every one's beck and call."
Goethe has always, he declares, swum with the stream, and on its
surface, like a cork; he has ministered to every weakness and folly
that happened to be in fashion; under the fair mask of his works a
refinement of sensuality lies concealed; these works are the blossom
of that materialism which prevails in the modern world. Goethe has no
genius, but a very high degree of "the talent for making his readers
his accomplices," &c, &c.[2] Heine, who was uncritical enough in his
review of the book to praise both it and its author--praise which he
was soon to regret--would have nothing to say to Menzel's doctrine that
Goethe's gift was not genius, only talent. He expresses the opinion
that this doctrine will be accepted by few, "and even these few will
confess that Goethe at times had the talent to be a genius."[3]

Menzel continued the cannonade in his numerous contributions to
periodicals, and in a new, very much enlarged, edition of his work
on German literature. He convicts Goethe of three distinct kinds of
personal vanity and six kinds of voluptuousness ("dreierlei Eitelkeiten
und sechserlei Wollüsteleien"). He analyses his works, great and small,
one by one, measures them by his own patriotic standard, and declares
them to be despicable. _Clavigo_ he condemns, because Goethe makes
Clavigo desert Marie. That he afterwards makes him die by the hand
of her brother goes for nothing, in fact is only an additional cause
of offence to Menzel, who knows that in real life Clavigo lived on
happily, which make his death on the stage a mere _coup de théâtre._[4]
To find sufficient immorality in the play, the critic must,
we observe, take advantage of his knowledge of circumstances that
do not concern it. _Tasso_ is to him Goethe's _Höflingsbekenntniss_
("Confessions of a Courtier"), in which he betrays the vanity of
the _parvenu_, to whom the high rank of a woman is an irresistible
attraction.[5] The reader will have no difficulty in imagining
for himself all the moral reflections for which Menzel finds occasion
in _Die Mitschuldigen_, in _Die Geschwister_, where "voluptuousness
casts sidelong glances at the pretty sister," in _Stella_, where it
craves the excitement of bigamy ("nach dem Reiz der Bigamie gelüstet")
and in the _Mann von fünfzig Jahren_, which is the special object of
his indignation. Even _Wilhelm Meister_ is to Menzel only an expression
of the shamefully light esteem in which Goethe held true virtue, and
the strong attraction which the outward conditions of rank possessed
for him.[6] _Die Wahlverwandschaften_ he regards as the type
of "the novel of adultery," which takes for its theme the desire of
voluptuousness after untried sensations ("die Wollüstelei, die das
Fremde begehrt"). _Die Braut von Korinth_ is simply the expression of
the voluptuousness whose desire is set on corpses, "die sogar noch in
den Schauern des Grabes, in der Buhlerei mit schönen Gespenstern einen
_haut goût_ des Genusses findet"--(which even amidst the horrors of
the grave finds a _haut goût_ of sensual enjoyment in intercourse with
beautiful spectres).

Where it is impossible to bring an accusation of immorality, Menzel
returns to his accusation of want of originality. It is not only its
glorification of middle-class Philistinism that stamps _Hermann und
Dorothea_ as an inferior work, but also the direct imitation of Voss's
_Luise_. According to Menzel, Goethe showed real originality only in
_Faust_ and _Wilhelm Meister_, because in these two works he copied
himself. In his youth he borrowed from Moliere and Beaumarchais, from
Shakespeare and Lessing, and his later iambic tragedies are "the fruits
of his rivalry with Schiller." Added to all this, he was, God knows, no

Let us compare Börne's attacks on Goethe with Menzel's, and we shall
find, in spite of similar extravagance of expression, this great
difference, that Börne does not attempt to judge, still less to condemn
Goethe's great works, nor does he condescend to accusations of sexual
immorality; he invariably confines himself to attacking Goethe in his
political relations. Saint-René Taillandier correctly observes that
Börne gave expression to everything that was rankling in his heart when
he took as motto for his review of Bettina's _Goethe's Briefwechsel mit
einem Kinde_ ("Goethe's Correspondence with a Child"), these words from

   "Ich dich ehren? Wofür?
    Hast du die Schmerzen gelindert
    Je des Beladenen?
    Hast du die Thränen gestillet
    Je des Geängsteten?"[7]

Though he could only appreciate those of Goethe's works in which the
fire of youth was perceptible, his attacks are not based on contempt
for the other works, but on the fact that Goethe, so highly favoured in
the matter of ability and of social position, never thought of devoting
that ability, that position, to the improvement of the existing
conditions of life in Germany. It is easy to cull foolish passages
conceived in Menzel's strain from Börne's works. In his Journal of
1830, for instance, he writes of Goethe's luck in having succeeded in
imitating with his talent the handwriting of genius for sixty years
without being detected; and in another place he calls Goethe the
rhyming, Hegel the rhymeless, thrall.[8]  But to understand these wild and
regrettable outbursts, we must make ourselves acquainted with Börne's
bill of accusation against both Goethe and Schiller.

He started from the premise (in all probability quite a false one) that
Goethe, by making timely and energetic protest, could have prevented
the Resolutions of Karlsbad, could have secured the liberty of the
press and the other spiritual rights of which the reaction had deprived
the German nation. In any case, whatever the results might have been,
he was firmly convinced that it was Goethe's duty to have protested.
Instead of this, what happens? "Geheimrath von Goethe, the Karlsbad
poet," as Börne, knowing that he goes there every year to drink the
waters, satirically nicknames him, subscribes himself _servant_ among
other servants of his Prince ("wir sämmtlichen Diener"); confesses
in his _Tag- und Jahres-Hefte_ that he wrote his stupid little play
_Der Bürgergeneral_ (the whole plot of which hinges on the stealing
of a pail of milk from the peasant Martin), with the intention of
ridiculing the French Revolution; also confesses that, far from taking
Fichte's part when that philosopher was accused of teaching atheism
in the University of Jena, he was much annoyed at the vexation caused
to the court by the outside interference which Fichte's utterances
provoked.[9] Another cause of offence was the way in which,
when Oken's _Isis_ was published, Goethe bewailed the peaceful times
brought to an end by the establishment of the liberty of the press in
Weimar, "the further consequences of which every right-thinking man
with any knowledge of the world foresees with alarm and regret."[10]
And the same feeling of disappointment and mortification was aroused in
Börne when he read that Schiller, whom he highly esteemed, had at the
very crisis of the French Revolution declared in his announcement of
the new periodical _Die Horen_, that from this publication everything
in the nature of criticism of the government, of religion, or of
the political questions of the day, would be expressly and strictly

We must bear all this in mind when we read Börne's flaming
denunciations--ablaze with a passion for liberty that forgets
to be just--of Schiller and of Goethe, his lament that in their
correspondence these two greatest minds of Germany show themselves
so small that nothing at all would be better ("so Nichts sind--nein
weniger als Nichts, so wenig"), and that they actually are what he,
the confirmed democrat, considers the worst thing possible, a pair of
confirmed aristocrats. He sees in Schiller a worse aristocrat than
Goethe, for Goethe's partiality is merely for the upper classes of
society, whereas Schiller will associate with none but the _élite_ of
humanity. It is Börne's belief that Goethe might have been the Hercules
who should cleanse the Augean stables of his country; but he rather
elected to fetch the golden apples of the Hesperides, and to keep
them for himself.[12] He compares him in his own mind with the great
productive spirits of other countries; with Dante, who championed the
cause of justice; with Alfieri, who preached liberty; with Montesquieu,
who wrote the _Lettres Persanes_; with Voltaire, who dared everything
and gave up all his other occupations to assist a persecuted man, or to
vindicate the memory of one who had been unjustly condemned to death;
with the republican Milton; with Byron, whose life was one struggle
against tyranny, intelligent or unintelligent--and he summons him
before the judgment seat of posterity. "That terrible, incorruptible
judge will say to Goethe: A mighty mind was given to thee, didst thou
ever employ it to oppose baseness? Heaven gave thee a tongue of fire,
didst thou ever champion justice? Thou hadst a good sword, but it was
drawn to defend thyself alone."[13]

We cannot deny that Börne has pointed to real flaws in Goethe's
greatness, and to real limitations in his nature, even though we know
that some of his qualities were bought at the price of these defects,
and that a certain limitation was inevitable if the many-sidedness of
his genius was not to be its bane. It was not for him to do what Börne
required of him. Still we must understand the proportion of justice
there is in Börne's attacks, to be able to forgive him this violent
and foolish expression of resentment against Goethe during those years
when the hopes of the Liberals in the results of the Revolution of July
were receiving their double death-blow, from the subjection of the
French Government to the power of the great financiers, and from the
suppression of the Polish revolt. He is now more bitter and violent
than ever. He calls Goethe a prodigious _obstructive_ power, compares
him to a cataract on the eye of Germany, and expresses the opinion that
not until the old man of Weimar dies will German liberty be born. (Nov.
20, 1830.)[14]

It was on the 1st of October 1831, after whole days spent in despair
over events which conveyed the impression, specially painful to
this obstinately hopeful man, that France was lost and the reaction
victorious, that his anger reached boiling-point. He took up Goethe's
_Tag- und Jahres-hefte_, and was horrified by its author's "apathy."
Goethe tells how, when he was with the army in Silesia in 1790, he
wrote one or two epigrams, and how later, at the royal headquarters in
Breslau, he lived the life of a hermit, completely engrossed in the
study of comparative anatomy. He adds that what originally led to his
taking up this study was his finding a half-cloven sheep's skull one
evening in Venice on the sand-hills of the Lido.

"What!" writes Börne, "Goethe, a highly gifted man, a poet, in the best
years of his manhood ... to be in the council of war, in the camp of
the Titans, on the very spot where, forty years before, the audacious
yet sublime war of kings against their peoples began, and to find no
inspiration in these surroundings, to be moved to neither love nor
hatred, neither prayer nor curse, to nothing but a few epigrams, which
he himself does not consider worth offering the reader. And with the
finest of regiments, the handsomest of officers passing in review
before him, he finds nothing better to turn his attention to than
comparative anatomy! And walking by the sea-shore in Venice--Venice,
that _Arabian Night_ in stone and mortar, where everything is melody
and colour, both nature and art, man and state, past and present,
liberty and despotism; where even tyranny and murder merely clank like
the chains in some gruesome ballad (the Bridge of Sighs and the Council
of Ten are scenes from Tartarus)--Venice, towards which I turn my
longing eyes, but cannot turn my steps, because the Austrian police
lies in wait like a serpent at the city gates and repels with the
terror of its poisonous gaze--there, after sunset, when the red glow
of evening was spread over sea and land, and the waves of crimson light
broke upon the man of stone, and imparted their colour to his eternal
greyness; when, perhaps, the spirit of Werther came upon him, and he
felt that he still had a heart, that there were human beings around
him and a God above him; and the beat of his heart, the apparition
of his dead youth terrified him, and he felt the hair standing up on
his head--he behaved as usual, escaped from his terrors, avoided all
disagreeable reflection, by creeping into a cloven sheep's skull and
hiding there till night and coldness once more descended upon his
heart! And I am to honour that man! to love that man! I would sooner
throw myself in the dust at the feet of Vitzli-Putzli, sooner lick the
spittle of the Dalai Lama!"

Certainly Börne ought to have honoured this man, and for the very
reason for which he despises him. For perhaps at no time was he more
clearly worthy of all honour. Börne, by his own showing, would, like
the ordinary tourist in Venice, have spent himself in vague moonlight
and sunset romancings on the subject of the Bridge of Sighs, the
terrors of tyranny, the blessings of liberty, and all the melody and
colour--Goethe gazed at his sheep's skull. What was there remarkable
about it? It was split; and with his naked eye, that seeing eye which
pierced into the deepest recesses of nature, into the innermost
workshop of life, whence issue all its various forms, Goethe _saw_ the
great truth, which he had already suspected, that all the bones of the
skull were in reality metamorphosed vertebræ, thus making a discovery
in the science of osteology that was closely connected with one he
had already given to the world in his work on the _Metamorphosis of
Plants_, and founding philosophic anatomy, as he had already founded
philosophic botany. Börne did not perceive that this man, whose
life-work is one of the foundation-stones in the edifice of the modern
world, in this particular instance, with his intuition of the unity
underlying all variety of form, in his divine simplicity, resembles one
of the fathers of ancient science, a Thales or a Heraclitus.

Börne's attacks on Goethe do not come under the same category as
Menzel's. They are never malicious, much less base. Though they
certainly now and again hit some vulnerable spot in the great man, they
throw more light on Börne's own nature than they do on Goethe's; and,
even where they most clearly show the limitation of his intelligence,
they witness to the purity of his character. They have been powerless
to affect men's admiration for Goethe's genius. It would be as foolish
to judge Goethe by the false political standard set up by Börne in 1830
as to judge Börne himself by the false German standard of 1870, which
those do, who say of him, what he said of Goethe, that he was no true
patriot. It was natural, nay inevitable, that Börne should undervalue
Goethe. It is possible to understand his want of understanding without
sharing his dislike. And it is possible to do full justice to the rush
of his pathos, to the elasticity and keen sparkle of his wit, without
forgetting, as our eyes light on the seething, flashing cascades of his
prose, that there is a deep, calm, wide ocean, called Goethe.

[1] "Allerheiligen geht vor Allerseelen, die Propheten haben den Himmel
eher als das Volk.--Die Religion des Alterthums war die Cristalmutter
vieler glänzenden Götter, die christliche ist die Perlemutter
eines einzigen aber unschätzbaren Gottes.--Das Erdenleben ist eine
Bastonade.--Jede Kirchenglocke ist eine Taucherglocke, unter welcher
man die Perle der Religion findet."

[2] Menzel: _Die deutsche Litteratur_, ii. pp. 205-222.

[3] Heine: _Sämmtliche Werke._ xiii. 265.

[4] "Der Dichter ... fühlt zwar, dass das Schicksal in's Mittel treten
müsse, und lässt den Verräther durch eine rächende Bruderhand fallen;
wie vielmehr muss uns dieser Theaterstreich indigniren, wenn wir
wissen, dass der berühmte Liebhaber in der Wirklichkeit fortgelebt, um
das Unglück zu beschreiben, welches er angerichtet."

The poet ... it is true, feels that destiny ought to intervene, and
therefore the betrayer falls by the brother's avenging hand; but
this _coup de théâtre_ only arouses more indignation in us, who know
that in real life the famous lover lived on happily, to describe the
misfortunes of which he had been the author.

[5] "Die Eitelkeit des Emporkömmlings, die in den Frauen zugleich das
Vornehme, das Königliche, begehrt." _Translation_: The vanity of the
_parvenu_, who is not attracted simply by women, but also by their
position, their royal birth.

[6] "Geadelt zu werden, im Reichthum zugleich den _haut goût_ de
Vornehmigkeit in behaglicher Sicherkeit zu geniessen, war ihm für
dieses Leben das Höchste."

[7] _I_ honour thee? Wherefore? Hast thou ever lightened the burden of
the heavy laden? ever stayed the tears of the distressed?

[8] "Welch ein beispielloses Glück musste sich zu dem seltenen Talent
dieses Mannes gesellen, dass er sechzig Jahre lang die Handschrift des
Genies nachahmen konnte und unentdeckt geblieben!... Goethe ist der
gereimte Knecht, wie Hegel der ungereimte."

[9] "Fichtes Äusserungen über Gott und göttliche Dinge, über die man
freilich besser ein tiefes Stillschweigen beobachtet." _Translation:_
Fichte's utterances on the subject of God and things divine, on which
it is undoubtedly better to preserve unbroken silence.

[10] L. Börne: _Gesamm. Schriften_, iii. 216, 217, 222.

[11] "Vorzüglich aber und unbedingt wird sich die Zeitschrift Alles
verbieten, was sich auf Staatsreligion und politische Verfassung

[12] Börne: iii. 536, 572.

[13] Ibid. 573.

[14] "Dieser Mann eines Jahrhunderts, hat eine ungeheure, _hindernde_
Kraft! er ist ein grauer Staar im deutschen Auge.... Seit ich fühle,
habe ich Goethe gehasst; seit ich denke, weiss ich warum. (20 November
1830.) Es ist mir als würde mit Goethe die alte deutsche Zeit begraben;
ich meine an dem Tage müsse die Freiheit geboren werden."

This man of a century possesses a prodigious _obstructive_ power! he is
a cataract on the eye of Germany.... Ever since I could feel, I have
hated Goethe; ever since I could think, I have known why. (20 November
1830.) I feel as if the old German era will be buried with Goethe, as
if liberty must be born on that day.



It is in the first volumes of the _Letters from Paris_ that Börne
reaches his high-water mark as an author. He was not capable of writing
books, not even of writing essays and dissertations; for his explosions
of emotion or thought there was no form so suitable as that of a
letter. And these are real letters, not newspaper-articles, nor even
newspaper correspondence, but letters written to a friend, without
thought of publication until that friend took the initiative, and asked
Börne's permission to make an experimental selection of passages which
might be of interest to the general public.

The friend in question was Frau Jeannette Wohl, a lady who plays an
important part in Börne's life, though perhaps not so important a part
as he plays in hers. For upwards of twenty years, from 1816, when he
made her acquaintance, till his death in 1837, he gave her his entire
confidence, and rarely took any step without consulting her; and to
her, during the same period, his career as an author, his health, his
circumstances generally, were of more importance than all else.

When they saw each other for the first time, he was thirty and she
thirty-three. She had been married to a rich man, with whom she had
lived unhappily. After nursing him through a long illness, she got a
divorce from him, refusing to accept any share of his fortune or to
retain his name. When Börne and she lived in the same town, he read
aloud to her everything that he wrote; when they were separated, she
would at one time urge him to work, eager that he should win fame and
independence; at another, fearing that he was too diligent, and that
his health, at all times precarious, might suffer, she would beg him
not to be too conscientious in the fulfilment of his engagements to the
publishers, but to allow himself sufficient leisure and recreation.

Jealous of his honour, she underwent long periods of anxiety and
irritation when it seemed to her that he was neglecting his duty to
the public. Börne had taken payment in advance from the subscribers to
_Die Wage_ for the second volume of that periodical, and then, after
bringing out only five numbers, made a lengthy pause, partly because
he was tired of the work, and partly because, being in pecuniary
difficulties, he was anxious to find more remunerative employment. Her
letters, which he always looked for with almost feverish eagerness,
at this time keep _Die Wage_ before his eyes by every device which
the ingenuity and perseverance of an anxious woman can suggest. She
entreats and threatens, she scolds and teases, she sends him four long
pages with nothing upon them except _Die Wage, Die Wage._

But she is often quite as anxious to distract and amuse him, to prevent
him from over-exerting himself and to keep up his spirits. When he is
taken seriously ill at a distance from her, she grieves that she is not
able to look after him, has once actually made up her mind to hazard
her reputation by going to him; she knows very well that if she does,
people will no longer believe that what unites them is only friendship.

It was in reality a feeling midway between friendship and love, for
which no name exists. After Jeannette's death there was found among her
papers an ordinary _Gesindebüchlein der freien Stadt Frankfurt_,[1]
on the cover of which Börne had written his name, with the usual
particulars. On its first page stands:

Took service    With whom?    For how     In what      Left service
                               long       capacity?       when?

15. Jan. 1818   Frau Wohl.    For ever.   As friend.   On the day of
                                                         his death.

There could be no more laconic expression of a voluntary lifelong
devotion. And the last words were literally fulfilled, for it was on
Jeannette's face that the dying man's last look rested, and to her that
he spoke his last words: "You have given me much happiness."

Jeannette Wohl's portrait, which Börne declared to be a good one, shows
us a woman with a longish face, regular, pleasing features, a high
forehead, an expressive, beautifully formed mouth, and bright, kindly
eyes; the firm chin indicates energy. Her voice is said to have been
remarkably sweet. Hers was not a particularly original, and still less
was it a productive mind; she was one of those women who can merge
their own individuality in that of the man to whom they are devoted. To
Börne, the author, her natural feminine capacity for inspiring a man
with confidence in himself was invaluable; she was as much offended
by any disparaging remark he made on the subject of his own ability
or deserts, as if it had been made by another. She was comfort and
consolation to him in human form. In her he had a being on whom he
could place absolute reliance, to whom he could confide everything
without the slightest fear of ever being misunderstood, far less
betrayed, and to whom he could address all his literary efforts. She
was to him an epitome of the ideal public for whom he wrote.

In one of his confidential letters he writes that his feeling for
Jeannette is described in the following passage from _La Nouvelle
Heloïse_: "C'est cette union touchante d'une sensibilité si vive et
d'une inaltérable douceur; c'est cette pitié si tendre à tous les
maux d'autrui; c'est cet esprit juste et ce goût exquis qui tirent
leur pureté de celle de l'âme; ce sont, en un mot, les charmes des
sentiments, bien plus que ceux de la personne, que j'adore en vous."
And we learn, from a letter of Jeannette's written in 1833, after this
friendship had lasted seventeen years, that the attraction he exercised
was at least equal to that which he experienced. She describes as a
sort of _idée fixe_, or chronic ailment, the excitement that takes
possession of her about the time when the mail may be expected. The day
she writes, she had been obliged to give up her usual occupations and
lie on the sofa, and when at last the letter arrives, she weeps for joy.

She looks after his money matters, calculates the payments due to him,
draws his police pension for him; at one time, when he has a great
longing to travel in Italy, but cannot do it for want of means, she
takes a lottery ticket, in the hope of winning the necessary sum, and
when she is disappointed in this, wishes to sell her piano, but finds
she cannot raise the required amount in this way either.[2] And
all this without the incentive of love, in the narrower sense of the
word. Her friends believed her to be capable of doing even more for
him. At the time that it first occurred to her that Börne ought to
publish his letters to her, she expressed to a cousin the naïve doubt
if it were possible to publish letters before the death of the person
to whom they were addressed, to which the cousin replied that she had
not the least doubt that Jeannette was quite ready to let herself be
buried if it would do any good to Dr. Börne.

They often travelled together, and sometimes, it would seem, lived
together; but the nature of their relation to each other never
altered. It is probable that at one time, in the first stage of their
friendship, Börne tried to persuade Jeannette to marry him, but her
fear lest the relation existing between them might lose its charm
by being turned into an ordinary, everyday marriage, a fear which
Börne himself afterwards shared, proved an insurmountable obstacle.
Considering that they were both free to dispose of themselves as
they would, it seems hardly possible that their relation could have
remained what it was for all these years without the existence of some
slight, it might be almost unconscious, physical antipathy on her side,
or on both sides. An outward hindrance to their union undoubtedly
existed in the difference of their creeds. Börne belonged to the
Christian, Jeannette to the Jewish confession; her orthodox mother
was strongly opposed to her becoming a Christian, and in those days
great difficulties were placed in the way of mixed marriages. But this
was not the main difficulty. Jeannette herself writes that to marry
Börne would require "more courage and more self-confidence" than she
possesses. And in this instance we see the man whom we knew in his
youth as the passionate lover, and who all his life long suffered from
a jealous disposition, quickly rise to the height of pure devotion; he
constantly urges Jeannette, for her own sake, to marry a man worthy of
her, and make a happy home.

In 1821, in answer to the words just quoted, Börne writes: "I swear
to you by Almighty God that, ardent and often expressed as my desire
to make you mine may have been, it has always been more of your
happiness than of my own that I have thought. My love for you makes me
happy; what more could marriage give me, since it could not increase
that love? Though I did not confess it to you, I always dreaded that
marriage might drag down our beautiful friendship to the level of
everyday, sordid reality. But I thought, what I still think, that _you_
would gain something by it, and this would indirectly have increased
my happiness. So there is nothing to prevent you from marrying another
man; you and I should lose nothing by that."

Strange to say, the truth of this last, audacious assertion was put
to the proof. At a somewhat advanced age, Jeannette actually fell in
love with and married a man much younger than herself. It was their
mutual admiration for Börne that brought the couple together, and in
Jeannette's answer to the letter in which Straus asks her to marry
him there is a long reference to Börne, so enlightening in its simple
eloquence that it cannot be dispensed with in this estimate of his
character as a man and as an author. She writes:

"The Doctor has no one in the world but me; I am to him friend, sister,
all that these words convey of kindliness, friendliness, sympathy. Can
you grudge this to him, to whom life has given nothing else, and who
has reconciled himself to his fate ... is even contented with it.... Ican
think of no other possibility than that the Doctor should be free to
come to us when, where, and for as long as he chooses; for altogether,
if he wishes. I can't say _you_, my heart is too full; canst _thou_
think anything else possible? If so, then all is different from what
I thought. I!--we!--dream of deserting a man like the Doctor--why,
he would be a ruined, a lost man! I would rather give up everything,
rather die, than have that upon my conscience; I could not do it,
even if I would.... I am trembling all over, and as pale as death from
writing even these few words on the subject. For nothing agitates me
so deeply as the very thought of such treason, of such infidelity to
such fidelity. As long as I live, till I draw my last breath, I shall
feel for Börne the love of a daughter for her father, of a sister for
her brother, of a friend for a friend. If you do not understand, cannot
grasp the situation, do not know me well enough--then all is over, all
is night. I can write no more. But no more is necessary. I am thankful
this is over."[3]

Events proved that Straus thoroughly entered into Jeannette's feelings,
indeed shared them. He, too, became a faithful friend to Börne. For
five months in the summer of 1833 Börne lived with them in Switzerland.
They then removed, for his sake, to Paris; where they all lived
together from the end of 1833 till his death, spending the summers
at Auteuil. The one person who permitted himself to make disparaging
comment on this arrangement was Heine, in that unfortunate passage
in his book, _Ludwig Börne_, which led to the duel in which he was
wounded by Straus. Heine afterwards, of his own free will, expunged the
passage. But in anger and grief at the harm done to his reputation by
this work on Börne, he was heard to call Jeannette the baleful woman
who, on his triumphal progress as Germany's chosen poet, crossed his
path, prophesying evil, and caused him to start back and drop his
laurel wreath in the dirt.[4]

It is certain that Jeannette never forgave Heine his unpardonable
molestation; yet no one could have been less of a Megæra. What Börne
once wrote to her, joking, as he often did, on the subject of her
faulty orthography, was almost true, namely, that in the letter he had
received that day there were more faults than she had herself, for
there was one.

In her opinions we can follow the different steps of Börne's political
development. After the Revolution of July she, too, is a radical
democrat. In the expressive words of her biographer, Schnapper-Arndt:
"She most frequently thinks with Börne, at times in opposition to him,
never without him. But she does seem to be perfectly independent in her
passionate sympathy with the revolt of the Polish nation, a feeling so
strong that it leads her to heap reproaches on Börne for being capable
at such a moment of writing about the Italian opera in Paris. The
Polish scythemen, the liberty of Poland--nothing else is worthy to be
mentioned along with this. It seems to her that every one must help;
she gives her own most cherished possessions to the cause; and nothing
can exceed her shame when Germany shows itself indifferent to it,
nothing her joy when she can send Börne proofs of the fact that a storm
of sympathy and enthusiasm is sweeping over the country."

[1] The "service book" which German employés are required to keep.

[2] On this occasion Börne writes: "Love has affected the reason of
many a human being, but I never heard of human kindness doing so. No
one was capable of this but you.... It is well that you have never
found the man of your heart--you cannot even stand wine mixed with

[3] All this information on the subject of Jeannette is to be found in
Gottlieb Schnapper-Arndt's article: _Jeannette Straus-Wohl und ihre
Beziehungen zu Börne. Westermanns Monatshefte_, April 1887.

[4] (Alfred Meissner: _Erinnerungen_, p. 79, &c.



The progress of the insurrection in Poland, which lasted from the
winter of 1830 till the summer of 1831, was followed with lively
sympathy by almost all the nations of Europe. All knew that the
struggle in Poland was deciding whether absolutism or national liberty
was to prevail in the Europe of the future. The movements of the
combatants were eagerly noted; every victory of the Poles was hailed
with popular rejoicing, every defeat was heard of with sorrow. Towards
the close of the struggle, when it became evident that the Poles,
unaided, could not triumph, numerous appeals were addressed by German
subjects to their respective governments, urging them to assist Poland.
The Germans then possessed the quality, which Bismarck afterwards laid
to their charge as a fault--a fault of which he has cured them--of
being almost more interested in the welfare of other nations than in
their own, to the extent even of desiring that welfare when it could
only be purchased by some surrender of power on the part of Germany.

When all was over with the Poles, the Germans tried to give proof of
their sympathy by showing as much hospitality as possible to the Polish
refugees on their wanderings through Central Europe to France. They
everywhere met with a warm reception; a committee was appointed in
almost every German town to collect money for them and help them on
their journey. Jeannette Wohl's letters to Börne at this time contain
many significant details. She tells that a number of Polish officers
who came by water from Hanau to Frankfort-on-Main were escorted all the
way by enthusiasts, that bands played and salutes were fired as they
entered the town, and that, they were carried shoulder high through
the crowd. When bands of Poles march through the town, all heads are
uncovered as they pass. The town defrays their expenses at the hotels.
A wounded Polish officer, who dies at one of the hotels, is followed to
his grave by thousands, including the city militia. A goldsmith sets a
splinter of iron taken from the wound of another Polish officer in the
shape of a little sword, and presents it to him.

With the fall of Poland the bulwark which protected Germany from the
influence of the Russian autocracy was broken down. The defeat of the
Poles was a defeat for the champions of liberty in every country. The
shock was a violent one.

A man who lived at Bremerhafen at the time when the infernal machine
devised by the wholesale murderer, Thomas, exploded, tells how,
immediately after he had heard the report of the fearful explosion, a
torn, bleeding hand flew in at his open window and fell upon the desk
at which he sat writing. Something of the same kind happened to German
authors' when Warsaw capitulated. Shattered Poland's dissevered hand
fell without warning upon their desks. Heine writes in 1831, in his
introduction to Kahldorf's book on the aristocracy: "I feel while I am
writing as if the blood shed at Warsaw were gushing from my paper, and
as if the Berlin officers' and diplomatists' shouts of joy were ringing
in my ears."

The three Powers that had divided Poland determined to take immediate
advantage of the victory to overpower dismayed European Liberalism,
and this in four countries at the same time--in Germany, where the
Bundestag was to inaugurate, and Prussia and Austria to carry out, a
still more energetic reaction; in Italy, which was once more to be
occupied by Austria; in Portugal, where Don Miguel was to be supported
against his brother; and in the Netherlands, where the King of Holland
was to be assisted in his struggle with rebellious Belgium.

Immediately after the suppression of the Polish revolt, a note was
addressed by the Cabinet of St. Petersburg to the German governments,
in which Russia advised them to keep the revolutionary tendencies in
their respective countries in check, and offered them her assistance in
doing so. The censorship at once became more severe, and many Liberal
newspapers and periodicals were suppressed. The Chambers of the South
German States protested, and the utterances of the Liberal press, in
spite of all warnings and threats, became more violent and reckless
from day to day. The general belief had hitherto been that it was
the desire of the sovereigns to meet the wishes of their people, but
that they were held back by their advisers. Now this belief fell to
the ground. The conviction became general that the unification of all
the German countries in one constitutional, strongly democratic State
was at hand. Politically short-sighted, and imbued with all manner of
optimistic ideas, the general public were unable to believe that such
a movement as that originated by the Revolution of July could exhaust
itself without any political result. The champions of Liberalism had
preached "progress" as a religion, and people had arrived at the belief
that progress must inevitably be victorious, and that each attempt at
reaction would actually work for good in the end.

Such was the state of public opinion at the time of the publication
of the first volume of Börne's _Letters from Paris_, which gained him
great popularity. They were promptly suppressed. (November 1831.) This
suppression, and the abuse heaped on the author by his opponents, added
to the sensation which the bold language of the book had created.

In these letters, Börne's style is only occasionally humorous, whereas
in his earlier writings it invariably was so. We seldom find the
quiet, resigned sort of humour distinguishing, for instance, his
characteristic description of his capture by night and his imprisonment
in Frankfort in 1820: "I was refused a boot-jack _Stiefelknecht_ = boot
servant or slave), that the distressing symbol of servitude might not
be always before my eyes. I was only allowed to use knife and fork in
the presence of a warder, in case I should injure myself. Paper, pen,
and ink were granted me only after repeated entreaties, and paper in
restricted quantity; they were afraid my health might suffer from my
sitting still too much. Every evening a warder came with a lantern to
examine the stove and see that it did not smoke, as smoke might be
injurious to my fine eyes; he also examined the grating in front of the
window, to make sure that thieves could not break in, &c, &c."

It is only at the commencement of his stay in Paris, while he is kept
in a state of constant elation by the supposed attainment of great
political results, that he still jests lightly and freely (as, for
example, on the subject of the many Princes Henry of Reuss, Greiz, and
Schleiz, who are now being punished by the revolution in Gera for all
the agony the committing to memory of their respective numbers cost him
at school); the jesting tone soon vanishes from his letters, and the
striking, convincing similes are all that remains of his old style.

His chief feeling, when he thinks of his Fatherland, is shame. In
the Days of July, Englishmen and Dutchmen, Spaniards and Italians,
Poles and Greeks, helped to fight for the liberty of France, which
means the liberty of all nations; but no Germans were there. With its
administration of justice, its censorship, and its guilds, Germany will
soon be the antiquarian museum of Europe. But more obnoxious to him
than anything else is the German spirit of loyalty and humility. The
Spaniards, the Italians, the Russians, and all the others are slaves;
the people that speak the German tongue are lackeys. Slavery only makes
men unhappy, it does not degrade them; servitude degrades. (January
25th 1831.) At an international dinner in Paris, when speeches were
being made by Liberals of every nationality, shame for his country
prevented him from getting up to speak on its behalf. He thought: These
Poles, these Spaniards, who have spoken, represent their country. "But
what do I represent? what achievements do I recall? I stand alone,
I am a lackey, wearing, like all other Germans, the livery of Count
Münch-Bellinghausen." (14th December 1831.)

Closely connected with this feeling of shame is an irritability, an
inclination to be indignant with every one and everything, which gives
a certain impression of weakness, of failing health. Everything, great
and small, is "infuriating--from the long-suffering of the nations
and their slowness to rise in revolt, to a rude letter from Spontini
to the Berlin orchestra; from the proposal to grant Louis Philippe a
liberal civil-list, to the deficiencies of an encyclopædia.[1]
As time goes on he actually seeks out provocations. We come upon such
expressions as: "I am cheerful, for I have been angry;" or "You cannot
give me greater pleasure than by reporting cases of German stupidity to

But in the years immediately following the Revolution of July, shame
and anger are drowned in a storm-tossed sea of hope. Börne feels as
absolutely certain of the speedy approach of a universal conflagration,
followed by the victory of liberty, as the first Christians felt of the
immediate end of the world, followed by the day of judgment, with its
decree of salvation for the elect, and damnation for the hard of heart.
He is in a state of excitement which makes it impossible for him to be
the chronicle-writer of his time; he feels that it is his mission to be
its prophet, in twelve long volumes, if need be.[2]

Alas, it is only the pessimistic prophets who, sooner or later, always
prove to be right. And Börne was an optimistic prophet, an enthusiast,
naïvely and incorrigibly given to believing in what he wished. Events
in France have inspired him with the belief that the death-knell of the
reaction has sounded. He seriously reproaches himself for being ashamed
to kiss such and such a Frenchman's hand, "the hand which has burst
our fetters, and given to us serfs the accolade of knighthood." (17th
September 1830.) He knows that the end is at hand. On the occasion of
Charles X.'s laying some foundation-stone, Börne remarks that it is
high time for kings to stop making themselves ridiculous by laying the
foundation-stones of buildings. It would be more suitable for them now
to nail the last tile on the roofs. For the time is at hand when the
royal cooks will ask each other: "For whom shall we be preparing dinner
to-morrow?" (19th September 1830.) A month after this, being asked
what he thinks likely to happen, he expresses his firm conviction that
the following spring will see the whole of Europe in conflagration.
He pities the diplomatists, positively feels sympathy for them. When
the Polish insurrection breaks out, he does not believe, taking the
great strength of the Russians into consideration, that it will be as
easy for the Poles as for the Belgians to attain their object, but
is sure that they will succeed in the end. And like a refrain recurs
the assertion that, one after another, all the countries of Europe
will emancipate themselves, Germany alone remaining in its miserable
condition. And yet at times he foresees the salvation of Germany. When
the cholera is raging in Moscow, he understands its signification,
sees the finger of God in it: "This is once more the naked hand of
God. The Powers are prevented from gathering together great armies,
and if, in spite of everything, they persist in doing so ...  I have a
presentiment--no, it is more than that, I _know_ that the cholera will
do what as yet nothing else has had the power to do, it will rouse the
most procrastinating and timid nation on the face of the earth to show
courage." (3rd November 1830.) His confidence in the ultimate success
of the Poles increased, supporting itself on the theory that those
always win who have no choice but victory or death. At the close of
the year 1830 he is certain that the ruling sovereigns are doomed; his
"modest" New Year's wish for his friend and himself is, that 1831 maybe
a better year for them than it will be for emperors and kings. He will
have to say to his servant: "If an emperor comes, keep your eye upon
him, and don't leave him alone in my room." And he ends by assuring
him that in 1831 a dozen of eggs will be of more value than a dozen
princes. (26th December 1830.)

On the 8th of January 1831, he maintains that if only the Poles can
avoid a pitched battle, the Russians, "powerful as they are, are lost."
And he still takes it for granted that the French will take up arms in
defence of Poland: France would be insane (_ganz von Sinnen_) if she
did not take advantage of this unique opportunity to weaken the power
of Russia. On the 11th of February he is perfectly positive that there
will be war. He himself has never doubted it for a single day, and
many who would not believe it before, have come round to his opinion.
Outbursts of rejoicing are frequent. The Poles have once more received
help from above; there is "tolerably certain" news of rebellion having
broken out in several Russian provinces. On the 6th of March, when
things are looking extremely bad for Poland, he has another false piece
of news to rejoice over. A Parisian commercial house has received
intelligence that the Russian forces have been scattered, and also that
the Lithuanians are in revolt behind them, "which will decide matters."
He is jubilant. From this time onwards, tyrants will be threatened with
the Poles, as naughty children are threatened with the chimney-sweep.
Nicholas boasted that he would roll the Poles together like a ball of
yarn; the ball has turned into a bomb, which has blown him to pieces!
Börne actually has visions of Paris illuminated on the occasion. On the
18th of March, when it is no longer possible to believe in the truth
of the favourable news, he is already mounted on a new chimera. All is
well; for in France itself a great change is impending: "Matters here
are in such a position, that I daily, nay hourly, expect a revolution.
Things cannot continue as they are for four weeks longer...."

It is undoubtedly a strong proof of Börne's honesty that he allowed
Jeannette to publish his letters as they came from his pen, unedited,
without any suppression or modification of prophetic passages to which
facts speedily gave the lie. But their perusal does not increase
our faith in him as a politician. The contradiction between what is
prophesied and what happens is at times so marked as to be comical.
On the 25th of December he is in despair because of Lafayette's
indecision: Lafayette is omnipotent, can bring about whatever he
pleases, has only to threaten to give up the command of the National
Guard to reduce the king, the ministers, and the Chambers to immediate
submission. Next day, the 26th of December, he announces shortly
that Lafayette has been deposed from his command, without so much
as a dog barking. Strange, says the reader to himself, that such an
eager politician should never have felt it a necessity to study the
science of politics, in order to be able to form his conclusions with
some understanding of the subject--that he should have been perfectly
satisfied to produce ephemeral journalistic effusions, of value to-day,
to-morrow cast into the oven.

What constantly misleads Börne is that optimism of his, which has
been already alluded to, an optimism at once naïve and fanatical,
which perpetually discovers reasons why the evil that happens is at
the same time the best thing that could happen. In March 1831, he
trembles for the Poles, and declares that he is prepared for the worst.
"But," he continues, "such a victory would be more disastrous for the
Russians than all their defeats. The arrogant Nicholas would become
presumptuous, and believe that he could dispose of France as easily
as of Poland." What a ground of comfort! Börne goes on hoping for a
revolution in Paris which shall shake all thrones. But it does not
come. He presently discovers that this quietness of France is more
dangerous for the crowned heads than anything else could be. On the
30th of November 1831, he writes: "For forty years France has been the
crater of Europe. When that crater ceases to shoot forth flames, no
throne in Europe will be safe for one night.... Nothing could have been
so disastrous for the monarchs as the fall of Warsaw. They have ruined
a miracle, and therefore now believe themselves capable of working
miracles." In other words: A revolution in Paris is good, no revolution
is still better. The victory of Poland would have been the ruin of the
monarchs; the fall of Poland is more fatal for them still.

At the bottom of all this is Börne's very remarkable, implicit faith
in God, which is but rarely disturbed by the doubts of his ever active
brain. The formula to which he almost always has recourse when he
needs comfort is, that he trusts in God. Nicholas advances against the
Poles with an overwhelming force; Börne "trusts in God." It is, as a
matter of fact, only the Polish nobility who have risen in revolt, but
Börne "trusts in the wisdom of God and the stupidity of his so-called
representatives." He himself is, he declares, wiser than all the rest
in France, as he was wiser than the rest in Germany; why? Because he
"believes in God and nature," while the others believe in men and

Yet at times his faith wavers. We saw how at first he rejoiced over the
cholera, saw the finger of God in it, felt that it would drive even
the Germans to revolution. Only two months later (19th January 1831)
he describes its actual effect, the manner in which it is paralysing
the nations and aiding in the demolition of such liberty as still
exists. At first he wrote: "What nothing else has been able to do,
the cholera will do;" now it is the exact opposite: "What no Emperor
of Russia, no devil could prevent, the cholera prevents." And he who
saw in that plague "God's naked hand," now exclaims: "And the priests
would have us believe that this is a judgment of God!" Nine months
later (25th November) he gets out of the difficulty with a witty,
thoughtless joke: "It is not often that God sends a heavenly commission
of justice down to earth to investigate into the stewardship of his
representatives, and so far, when such a thing has happened, it has
not improved matters. The heavenly emissaries are out of their element
on earth; they make mistakes, they even allow themselves to be bribed.
We saw this lately, in the case of the Asiatic cholera, which punished
the oppressed in place of the oppressors. God only helps those who
help themselves."[3]

Once only, when the fall of Poland is evidently at hand (5th March
1831), we feel that Börne's faith in his system is seriously shaken.
When the Russians are getting the upper hand, he, as usual, makes
free use of his favourite words--God, the devil, &c. He comes to the
conclusion that "not even the wisdom of God, nothing but the stupidity
of the devil can save Poland now." And then he interrupts himself with
a question: "But is there a God at all? My heart does not doubt it yet,
but one's brain feels bewildered enough at times. And even if he does
exist, of what use is an eternal God to mortal man? Were he mortal like
us ... he would take account of time and life, would not delay justice
so long, would not wait to pay to future generations that which was
their forefathers' due. Liberty can and will triumph, sooner or later;
but why not now? It may triumph the very day after the fall of Poland;
and that would be enough to break one's heart.... Can there be a
God? Is this justice? We loathe cannibals, stupid savages, who only
eat the flesh of their enemies. But we are reconciled to a far worse
cannibalism--to the torturing, slaughtering, hewing asunder of the
present, body and soul, with its joys and its happiness, its wishes and
its hopes, to satisfy the appetite of the future."[4]

A few days later, however, he returns to his accustomed faith in God
and to that optimism over which no disappointments can prevail.

Here and there in these letters we come upon sheer political twaddle,
such as the fantasies on the consequences of the revolt in Hanover,
and here and there on proofs of a positively foolish credulity, as,
for example, when Börne allows himself to be persuaded that it is
Metternich who has instigated the disturbances in South Germany in
order that he may take possession of Bavaria while the troops are
occupied; and again, that it is Louis Philippe's secret intention to
reinstate the dynasty of Charles X. on the throne.[5]

But frequently too we come upon utterances that show real political
sagacity, a natural capacity for grasping a situation, and an unusual
gift of prevision.

On the 9th of November 1830, only four months after the Revolution,
Börne already perceives that all that has happened amounts to no more
than this, that the industrial magnates, those who understand nothing
but "fear and money," have come into power. And he is quite certain
that, since this Revolution has not attained its object, those in
power refusing to see anything in it but a change of dynasty, a new
revolution is unavoidable, "and may be expected without fail." A week
later, with correct appreciation of the facts, and logical deduction,
he explains how events will follow on one another: As these merchants
and manufacturers, who for fifteen years have been declaiming against
aristocracy, have hardly got into power before they endeavour to form
a new aristocracy, of monied men, of adventurers, not based like the
old on a principle, but upon privileges conferred by the possession of
property; the French people, with their passion for equality, will,
the next time they make a revolution, attack that which is now the
foundation of privilege, namely, property; and this process will be
accompanied by such horrors as no previous revolution has witnessed.
Börne, we observe, has a prevision of socialism as a power; he
prophesies the Commune. A year later (1st December 1831) he feels so
certain how things will go that he writes: "I so plainly foresee the
great war between the poor and the rich that I feel as if we were in
the middle of it now;" and at this period, in spite of his strong moral
bias, he has come to the conclusion that the first thing to be aimed
at is the support of right by might. If this is not practicable, then
all that can be done is to touch men's hearts, to gain them for the
good cause by working upon their feelings, and to pursue tyranny with
ridicule, hate, and contempt. It is of no use whatever to be simply
honest, to have the right on one's side. No; "their honesty is their
bane. They imagine that the main thing is to be, and to prove that they
are, right. They talk of liberty as a barrister would talk of some
piece of property. As if it were reasons that were wanted here!" (1st
February 1831.)

The man who shows himself to us in these letters, is, after all, a
political enthusiast, a lover of liberty, rather than a statesman.
He not only loves the common people but, like Rousseau, he has a
true admiration for those who have not been "spoiled" by wealth or
education; and this admiration goes hand in hand with a steadily
increasing hatred of all the legitimate sovereigns and princes of
Europe, which, when Börne casts all moderation from him along with his
illusions, turns into veritable nihilism. "To think that ten yards
of hempen cord would suffice to give the world peace, happiness, and
quiet."[6] The peoples--the sovereigns,--the peoples--the sovereigns;
it was between these poles that the pendulum of Börne's political
thought incessantly swung; they were the poles of the political
thought of the time. And it was natural enough that he should stop
short at this antithesis, because he was essentially a democrat, such
a confirmed democrat that, as he himself plainly tells us, he took no
interest whatever in the study of the individual human being. It was
as much of a nuisance to him to have to inquire into the peculiarities
distinguishing one human being from another, as it was to have to
decipher extremely minute handwriting. He preferred to occupy himself
with humanity in the mass and with books. (3rd November 1830.) It is no
wonder that we miss in him the delicate psychological insight which we
look for in a great writer. To compensate for this deficiency we have
the sympathy with whole nations, with whole classes, with a wide circle
of readers, which enables an author to electrify a public, and ensures
popularity during his lifetime even to a peculiarly audacious writer
occupying a peculiarly precarious position.

Not that Börne is unjust or prejudiced in his judgment of individuals.
On the contrary, he shows the calm benevolence of superior
intelligence; though he also undoubtedly at times evinces a real
middle-class antipathy to what is over-aristocratic, and corresponding
indulgence towards what is commonplace. When De Musset appears, he
is at once struck by a kinship with Heine which surprises him in a
Frenchman. He promptly recognises, even over-estimates Berlioz's
genius, and every one knows how neglected and misunderstood Berlioz
was. Prince Pückler he criticises appreciatively, without any warmth,
but with a proper discernment of his merits; only he cannot understand
how it was possible for any one to believe that Pückler's bright, but
essentially unpoetical letters, could have been written by Heine. As
regards Heine himself, it is for long only his worship of Napoleon that
is distinctly antipathetic to Börne, who appreciates, nay admires him
in every other respect.

There is something suggestive in Börne's sincere admiration for Paul
de Kock, in the warm appreciation with which he mentions him, and the
zest with which he perseveringly reads eight volumes of his novels on
end. It is their naïve and faithful representation of the life of the
Parisian _petit bourgeois_ that seems to Börne so admirable. He goes
the length, though half in jest, of praising De Kock's philosophy of
life, and on this hardly suitable occasion mounts his old hobby, and
writes: "Though he does not, like Goethe in _Wilhelm Meister_, serve
up didactic letters with truffles, he gives us good strong philosophy
dressed in bourgeois fashion." (3rd March 1831.) Paul de Kock exalted
at the expense of Goethe!

This sort of criticism says little for Börne's æsthetic sense. Of his
political sagacity convincing proof is given by his pronouncements on
Talleyrand. In 1830 he at once feels quite confident that Talleyrand
will serve France well in London, and does not allow his confidence
to be shaken by the Parisians' hatred of that diplomatist. He sees
the absurdity of the loud complaint of the Liberal newspapers that
Talleyrand, as one of the framers of the Peace of Vienna, is certain
to support the Holy Alliance. He comprehends that neither the Holy
Alliance nor anything else is holy to Talleyrand. And long afterwards
he again refers to the unreasonableness of the accusation brought
against that sagacious diplomatist of having served and betrayed
every government in turn, acutely remarking that he did not betray
governments, he only deserted them, and that not until they were dead.
What Börne reads in Talleyrand's hard face is necessity, cast as it
were in bronze.

But the chief cause of the leniency of Börne's judgments is to be
sought, not in his intellect, but in his heart, in the tenderness of
his nature, in the strong bias towards kindly interpretation, which
is not contradicted by his many violent, inconsiderate utterances;
for these themselves, closely examined, prove to be but expressions
of his love to his kind. He was a loving-hearted man, and in so far
a Christian by nature, by instinct. This is the explanation of his
conversion to Christianity. The reproach of hypocrisy in his case is a
foolish one; his conception of Christianity may not have been profound,
but he acted from honest, independent conviction. He became a Christian
because he was a democrat and a humanitarian. To him Christianity was
not simply a continuation and supplement of Judaism, it was rather the
religion of humanity, and more especially "the religion of all poor
devils." Every man who loved his kind was in Börne's eyes a Christian.
Christianity was moreover to him the religion of liberty, especially
in its Catholic form; for it was as Catholicism that it had destroyed
the world-empire of the Romans. In the ardent love of liberty of
these Poles with whom he has so much sympathy, he sees a proof of the
liberalising power of Catholicism.[7]

Börne does not personally believe in the dogmas of Christianity, or
consider that faith is its essence; yet any attack on these dogmas
is most repugnant to him. He sneers at Saint-Simonism because of its
antagonism to the Christian religion, and he considers Strauss's
_Life of Jesus_ to be not only a useless, but a mischievous book. All
this makes it easy to understand how it was possible for him, in the
last years of his life, to be completely carried away by a democratic
Catholic like Lamennais, whose _Paroles d'un Croyant_, an attempt to
blend Liberalism with religion, he translated and overrated. Religious
Radicalism, as here expressed, was the magic formula to which the free
and the locked-up powers of his own soul responded.

In the course of the first volumes of the _Letters from Paris_,
Börne, following the general trend of Oppositionist feeling in
Germany, progressed from enthusiasm for constitutionalism to hope of
revolution. In April 1832, not six months after their publication, one
of the leaders of the Opposition, Dr Siebenpfeiffer, issued a general
invitation to all the different German nationalities to attend a great
national festival, to be held at the castle of Hambach, near Neustadt
on the Haardt, on the 27th of May, the anniversary of the concession
of the Bavarian constitution. It was to be a festival of brotherhood
for all whose desire and aim was the regeneration of Germany. This
festival, however, seemed so suspicious to the government of Rhenish
Bavaria, that it was forbidden; strangers were prohibited from
visiting Neustadt or its environs from the 26th to the 28th of May,
and any assemblage of more than five persons in the streets or other
public places was forbidden. These prohibitions excited such general
discontent that the authorities were obliged to withdraw them.

People streamed to the festival from every point of the compass. Almost
every German country sent representatives--the majority, of course,
being inhabitants of the Palatinate itself. Even Frenchmen were there
in large numbers, and Poles naturally were not lacking. The assembly
numbered about thirty thousand in all.

Börne, who came from Paris, was the most fêted guest. His journey to
Neustadt was a sort of triumphal procession. He was cheered everywhere.
Torchlight processions and serenades were the order of the day.

He writes from Freiburg; "You have no idea what an impression my
_Letters from Paris_ have made in Germany. I never expected anything
like it myself. Meyer, Wurm, and others had given out, had printed,
that I could never again show myself in Germany, because I should
be turned out of all respectable society. Nice prophets they are! I
have done nothing but receive homage ever since I arrived. My room is
never empty. I often have not chairs enough for my visitors. At the
Hambach festival all present desired to make my acquaintance. It was
so fatiguing that it has made me ill. When I made my appearance on the
street in Neustadt, shouts were heard from the restaurants and from the
passing carriages of: 'Hurrah for Börne! hurrah for the author of the
_Letters from Paris!'_ The Heidelberg students serenaded me. All the
patriots, Wirth and the rest, declared that the credit of the patriotic
movement in Germany was due to me; I was first; the others all came
after. Many, moved to tears, arid unable to speak for emotion, embraced
me warmly. It has been the same thing here in Freiburg. The students
came to my house in the evening, serenaded me, and shouted: 'Hurrah for
the champion of German liberty!'... What will my critics say to this,
those critics who called me a bad patriot? Public opinion does not
allow itself to be misled." Absurdly enough, with all this enthusiasm,
his watch was stolen at the Hambach festival.

On the morning of the 27th of May, the enormous procession made its
way from Neustadt to the ruins of the castle of Hambach. Every one
wore black, red, and gold colours, and black, red, and gold flags were
carried in front of the procession, the ranks of which were swelled
by a great number of women, wearing black, red, and gold belts.
Siebenpfeiffer and the Bavarian Liberal journalist, Wirth, were the
principal speakers. They proclaimed the sovereignty of the people to
be the foundation on which every state must rest, and declared that
Germany would ere long be a republic. All the speeches made were
violent, and all described the degradation of Germany as the work of
her sovereigns, in combination with the aristocrats. Wirth proposed
the toast (for which he had afterwards to do penance by a long
imprisonment) of "The united free states of Germany," and "federated
republican Europe," and shouted as he waved the sword of honour that
had been presented to him: "Accursed, three times accursed be the
rulers of Germany!" These words were re-echoed by part of the assembly;
there were shouts of: "Down with kings and princes! To arms! To arms!"

The participators in the Hambach festival had, however, no immediate,
practical aim in view. Supposing the moment to have been favourable--a
tolerably doubtful supposition--they allowed it to pass without taking
advantage of it.

Heine writes humorously and bitterly: "I dare hardly tell the story, it
seems so incredible, yet I have it from a reliable source, from a man
who is an honest and truthful republican, and was himself a member of
the committee at Hambach which deliberated on the impending revolution.
This man told me in confidence that, when it came to the question of
competence, to a dispute as to whether the patriots then assembled at
Hambach were really competent to begin a revolution in the name of the
whole of Germany, those who advised immediate action were outvoted, and
the conclusion arrived at was that they were incompetent." Heine calls
this the best story he has ever heard, good enough to make him forget
all the troubles of this vale of tears, and even to cheer him after
death in the dusky tedium of the realm of shades. Then he speaks words
of comfort to kings and princes, tells them how it is quite unnecessary
that they should imprison any more worthy citizens; they may sleep in
peace; they are in no danger; the German revolution is still far off;
the question of competence is not yet decided.[8]

For many years after he made Heine's literary and personal
acquaintance, Börne's feeling towards that author was a friendly one;
he spoke of him with affection, gave him his full due as a poet, and
more especially appreciated him as a great power in the service of
universal emancipation. But their natures were too unlike to permit
of his judgment being quite unprejudiced. From 1831 onwards we come
upon spiteful references to Heine in the Letters. Although Börne was
devoid of petty vanity, the frequent comparisons made between Heine
and himself rankled in his mind, especially as, in the matter of
ability and gifts, they were often to his disadvantage. And Heine's
_Französische Zustände_ ("The Situation in France") offended and
wounded him; its perusal roused in him a feeling of ill-humour to
which he gave vent (in the last volume of the _Letters from Paris_)
in cutting satire, which struck Heine as it were from above, and, in
the eyes of many readers, stamped him with the brand of political

It was in reality the deep-seated antagonism between the natures of
the two fellow-combatants that found vent on this occasion. Börne
did not understand the real nature of the difference between himself
and Heine. To him it seemed to be the difference between manly
earnestness and boyish frivolity, or, taken in its highest aspect,
between devotion to truth and devotion to form, to art. With accurate
perception he detected and exposed some of the small puerilities and
snobberies of which Heine, when dazzled by the tinsel of life, could
at a time be guilty, and also some of his unjust mockeries of ideal
endeavour clothed in clumsy or naïvely popular form. Börne detested
the Rothschilds, by whom Heine was impressed and fascinated. Börne,
who felt out of his element in drawing-rooms, was quite at home among
democratic artisans, and in gatherings of German emigrants, no matter
how wild the schemes they planned, or how unpractical the undertakings
for which they collected money; Heine, on the contrary, was annoyed
by the constant solicitations to support this or that democratic
undertaking, was quite unsuited to be a member of the democratic
fraternity, preferred, in spite of his revolutionary leanings, to keep
himself to himself, and had no intention whatever of being on terms of
hail fellow well met with any chance band of emigrant fellow-countrymen.

In a letter dated the 25th of February 1833, Börne jeers at Heine
for various things, amongst others for writing of the inhuman policy
pursued by Austria for the last three hundred years as "sublime
perseverance"; for calling King Louis of Bavaria, whom he afterwards
so unmercifully satirised, "one of the noblest and most intellectual
monarchs that ever sat upon a throne"; and for declaring it to be
"courageous and admirable" of the Messrs. Rothschild to remain in Paris
during the cholera, while he, at the same time, casts ridicule on the
unpaid exertions of the German patriots. On these points, and others,
Börne is right, but nevertheless he shows no delicate discernment or
profound comprehension of Heine's real character.

In the case of Heine, as in the case of Goethe, he stood face to face
with a genius he was unable to judge impartially, though he by no means
wronged his restless contemporary to the same extent or in the same
manner as he did his great predecessor.

[1] Stock expressions: "O, es ist zum Rasendwerden! (it is maddening!)
O, ich habe eine Wuth! (I am in a transport of rage!)." On the subject
of the encyclopædia: "Eine starke halbe Stunde musste ich das Schreiben
unterbrechen, und meine Wuth war grenzenlos." (I had to stop writing
for a good half hour, and was infuriated beyond all bounds.)

[2] "Was, wo, worauf, womit soll ich schreiben? Der Boden zittert, es
zittert der Tisch, das Pult, Hand und Herz zittern, und die Geschichte,
vom Sturme bewegt, zittert selbst.... Prophet wollte ich sein zwölf
Bände durch."--What, where, upon what, with what am I to write? The
ground, the table, the desk, hand and heart tremble, shaken by the
hurricane, history itself trembles.... A prophet I would be, throughout
twelve volumes.

[3] _Börne_, iii. 75, 86, 172; 43, 99, 267.

[4] _Börne_, iii. 159, 160.

[5] _Börne_, 98, 39, 270.

[6] "Und mit Zehn Ellen Hanf wäre der Welt Friede, Glück, und Ruhe zu

[7] "Das einzige Volk im Norden, das seit dreihundert Jahren nie
aufgehört sich für die Freiheit zu erheben, ist das polnische, und es
blieb katholisch."

The one nation of the North that for three hundred years has not ceased
to make a stand for liberty, is Poland, and Poland remained Catholic.

[8] Heine: _Sämmtliche Werke_, xii. 153.



For Heinrich Heine also, as already observed, the present moment in
the development of the new German Empire is an unfavourable one.
He is reproached with so much, that it is difficult to summarise.
First there is his infatuation for France, and his supposed or real
frivolity; then his un-German extraction and wit, his sentimentality,
his foppery, his wantonness; and lastly, the defiant manner in
which he parades his irreligion. New Germany is indifferent in
religious matters, but tacitly so, and in the matter of morals it is
thoroughly disciplined. In the Germany of to-day the highest virtues,
truthfulness, independence, high spirit, and sensitiveness, are of much
less account than dutifulness, correctness, social discipline, military
smartness--_Schneidigkeit_, as it is called. In Heine's time the
opposite was the case. No value was put on discipline. Piety counted
for more than religion, humanity for more than patriotism. The best
men of those days did not regard patriotism as an unqualified virtue;
nor did they consider that justice ceased to be a virtue when shown to
another nation.

To an abstract Radical bent of mind there was added in Heine's case the
hatred of Prussia, whose future he did not foresee, whose strength he
did not realize--that strength of which Carlyle gives us the best idea
in his delineation of the father of Frederick the Great, a strength
which lay in the ability, by means of sober severity, to conquer chaos,
crush all foolish opposition, and rule. Heine's was no undefined
dislike, it was the Rhinelander's mortal enmity to Prussia. Read his
lines to the Prussian eagle:

   "Du hässlicher Vogel! wirst du einst,
    Mir in die Hände fallen,
    So rupfe ich dir die Federn aus
    Und haue dir ab die Krallen.

    Du sollst mir dann in luft'ger Höh'
    Auf einer Stange sitzen
    Und ich rufe zum lustigen Schiessen herbei
    Die _rheinischen_ Bogenschützen."[1]

At the Congress of Vienna, after repeatedly refusing, Prussia at last
consented to take over the Rhine Provinces. Instead of the rounding
off of her frontier in the east for which she had hoped, she thus
acquired territory at a distance, and came to rule over a race of
Germans totally unlike the Old-Prussians. This Rhine Province was the
region where, in days gone by, the line of separation between Kelts
and Germans lay. Most of it had been included in the Roman military
province. At a later period the land came under priestly rule,
which accounts for the fact that it was in no way influenced in the
eighteenth century by the spirit of Frederick the Great. Old, decaying
clericalism came here into direct contact with the French Revolution,
and the propagators of the revolutionary ideas were joyfully welcomed.

The Old-Prussian's feeling towards the Rhinelanders was the distrust
of antipathy, a feeling the Rhinelanders returned with interest. At
the Rhine the Prussians were, and continued to be strangers, unwelcome
strangers. When he spoke of a son serving in the army, the Rhinelander
said: "He is with the Prussians." The government official transferred
from Berlin to Cologne or Düsseldorf put on airs, and disparaged
everything, and the Rhinelander long regarded a transfer to one of the
old Prussian provinces as a sort of exile to Siberia. Complaints were
heard everywhere of Prussia's inability to gain the affections of the
peoples she had conquered.[2]

[Illustration: HEINRICH HEINE]

Heinrich Heine was born near the close of the century at Düsseldorf,
then capital of the duchy of Jülich-Cleve-Berg. For six years the
town was garrisoned by French revolutionary troops. They took their
departure in 1801, and Max Joseph of Pfalz-Zweibrücken became Grand
Duke; but in 1806 he was made King of Bavaria, and Joachim Murat was
installed as Grand Duke in his stead. Only two years later Murat had to
make way for the eldest son of the King of Holland, or, in reality, as
the boy was not of age, for Napoleon, as his guardian. The country was
now governed exactly according to the French pattern; serfdom, feudal
law, and statute-labour were abolished, and complete religious liberty
was proclaimed. This last innovation led to Napoleon's being revered by
the Jewish population of the Rhine Provinces as their saviour from the
oppression of a thousand years.

There can be no doubt that the contact with the audacious, victorious
Frenchmen of that day powerfully influenced Heine's mental development.
His respect for traditional authority was early undermined. His natural
wit was developed in the direction of what the French call _esprit_.
The germs of his enthusiastic admiration for Napoleon were generated.
That enthusiasm seems to us to-day to be an isolated phenomenon in the
German literature of the century; in reality it was very far from being

Let us go back to Wieland, and we shall find that he held Napoleon
in the same high estimation, even before such an opinion had been
justified by the events of history. In 1798 he declares that France
stands in need of a dictator, and that no one is fit for the post
except General Bonaparte, then in Egypt. In 1800 he prophesies that
Bonaparte will and must make himself king, and defends him against the
attacks of the English newspapers. Napoleon, having been told of these
prophecies, had a lengthy interview with Wieland at Erfurt in 1808.

None of the great Germans at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of
the nineteenth century knew what national enmity meant. It was without
a spark of any such feeling that Goethe, in the capacity of spectator,
made the campaign of 1793 in France. Schiller valued his certificate of
French citizenship, and believed that it might come to be of use to his
children. Knebel, Goethe's friend, wished that he dared sing Napoleon's
victories. Goethe himself looked on with complacency while Napoleon
shattered the kingdom of Frederick the Great into fragments; it is
evident that he must have regarded that kingdom of Prussia as a passing
phenomenon in the history of Germany. He had witnessed Napoleon's rise
and victorious career, and had seen him suppress that anarchy which
was so hateful to himself, the aristocrat and evolutionist. At last he
made his personal acquaintance, saw him surrounded by his marshals,
in an atmosphere of brightness, amiability, geniality, general
irresistibility. The personal impression made upon him by Napoleon was
such as to increase his previous admiration for him. Hence it was that
even after the Russian campaign, even during the rehabilitation of
Germany, Goethe continued to say: "It is all of no use; the man is too
strong for them." It was not till all was over that he made a sort of
compulsory amends by writing a play for the fête on the occasion of the

Goethe's valuation of Napoleon has been the subject of much discussion;
less well known is the impression which the great Frenchman made on
Hegel, who, as Heine's teacher and chosen philosopher, influenced
him quite as much as Goethe. Hegel was born a subject of the small,
despotically-ruled State of Würtemberg. He longed for a fatherland, but
had never known what it was to have one, and in the beginning of the
century he was so embittered by the situation in Germany, and roused
to such anger and scorn by the political stupidity of his countrymen,
that he, like Goethe, welcomed Napoleon with the unqualified enthusiasm
of a cosmopolitan. He had spent his youth dreaming of a possible
reconciliation of the real with the ideal, but had never come into
contact with a real living power until Napoleon crossed his path and
aroused his enthusiasm. It was said of Goethe that he took advantage
of the distraction caused by the roar of the cannon at Jena to marry
Christiane Vulpius without rousing remark; of Hegel it was said that
he finished his work _Die Phænomenologie des Geistes_ ("Philosophy of
Mind") in Jena itself, while the battle was raging. It is a fact that
it was exactly at this time that he despatched the last pages of the
work to his publisher; and there is a very striking contrast between
his calm indifference to the ruin of Prussia and his keen anxiety lest
any of the precious packets of manuscript should be lost in transit at
that unsettled time. A letter to his publisher, which accompanied one
of the packets, bears the date of the battle.

In the work, to which the finishing touches were put under such
circumstances, Hegel expounded his theory of the development of the
human mind with a curious mixture of historical and psychological
argument. He maintained that humanity had now reached its goal, that
such individual mortals as had attained to the highest degree of
understanding, now possessed the insight of gods, that their lives,
lives of far-reaching influence, were now simply the harmonious
unfolding of an existence such as the Greeks imagined that of their
gods to be, absolutely contented, absolutely reconciled. While Hegel
was writing his concluding words, which are to the effect that history
is but a play of the spirit that is conscious of itself as spirit,
Napoleon drew rein at the gates of Jena.

And Hegel saw him, and seeing him, rejoiced. "I have seen the emperor,
that soul of the world," he writes from Jena. "It truly gives one a
strange feeling to see one such single individual who, concentrated
on a single point, sitting on his horse here in Jena, influences and
rules the world. As far as the Prussians are concerned, nothing better
could have been prognosticated--but only such a man could have made
such way between Thursday and Monday; it is impossible to refuse him
admiration." And it is not only the emperor Hegel admires, but the
whole French people. Three months later he writes that in the history
of the day he sees convincing proof that culture overcomes barbarism,
that intellect overcomes unintellectuality. And he even adds: "I have
long wished the French army success, now all do so; nor can it fail to
be successful, considering the enormous difference between its leaders
and soldiers and those of the enemy."[3]

If Heine had ever imagined that his enthusiasm for Napoleon required
any apology, he might have found one in the fact that he was but
following in the footsteps of the man whom he invariably spoke of
with reverence as "the great Hegel, the greatest philosopher Germany
has produced since Leibnitz," the man of whom he makes the very
questionable assertion that he quite unquestionably "towers high
above Kant," and whom he criticises with such lenient and gentle
disparagement as the following utterance conveys: "Hegel allowed
himself to be crowned in Berlin, and alas, to be anointed too."

Not only Heine's great models and teachers, but contemporaries like
Varnhagen von Ense, who had actually shed his blood in the war against
Napoleon, shared his enthusiasm, and were equally free from patriotic
enmity to France. Of the Dane Baggesen, who, half German by nature, was
fain to be more German than the Germans, Varnhagen writes: "His hatred
of Napoleon and the French is peculiarly offensive; it is an aversion
which amounts to loathing, and yet it is groundless, for all that is
good in us Germans, all that we are proudest of in ourselves, he holds
in horror and would fain suppress with the help of Kant, Jacobi, Voss,
and Klopstock." Kant is evidently included in this list on account of
the very un-German "categorical imperative," the others on account of
the extreme narrowness of their patriotism.

The cult of Napoleon is thus, we see, to be traced in the words and
works of the men who had the greatest influence on Heine's development
and on that of young Germany in general.

It inspired Heine's muse several years before it became epidemic in
France, and Heine rises to an equal height of enthusiasm with Beyle
and Hugo. It is not too much to say that the poetic expression of this
enthusiasm in his youthful poem _The Two Grenadiers_ (which he probably
wrote at the age of eighteen, though he himself claims to have written
it at sixteen) surpasses anything of the same nature that exists
in French. Not even Béranger's _Souvenirs du Peuple_ is so simply
grand, although it, better than any other poem, has given tangible
and touching expression to the French popular Napoleonic legend. In
Heine's _Grenadiers_ the rhythm of each line answers exactly to its
mood and matter--the mournful iambics: _Der Andre sprach: das Lied
ist aus_; the fiery anapæsts: _Dann reitet mein Kaiser wohl über mein
Grab_. The grenadier's impossible request to his comrade to carry his
corpse to France passes almost unnoticed. The wildness of the principal
strophe: _Was schert mich Weib, was schert mich Kind_, the grenadier's
protest against the supposition that he is tied by the wife and child
he has left at home, contrasts forcibly with the sentimentality of the
Romantic style. It is only ostensibly that this poem glorifies fidelity
to Napoleon personally; what it really glorifies is loving fidelity to
the great leader, unbounded enthusiasm for the great personality.

The gift of describing by means of introducing characters into lyric
poetry was common to both Béranger and Heine. But Béranger was a
song-writer, Heine a genius. _The Two Grenadiers_ begins, as Heine
almost always begins, quietly, smoothly. Nothing could be more unlike
this than Victor Hugo's lyric attack: _Lui! toujours lui!_ Heine does
not produce his effect by direct representation, but by delineation
of the less important, of the small things in which the great are
reflected, and which provide a standard to gauge them by; then at last,
following on and issuing from the simple dialogue, comes the burst of
visionary enthusiasm.

That the object of this worship was hardly worthy of it, does not make
the feeling itself less admirable. It is a feeling of exactly the same
kind that Heine describes in the _Reisebilder_, when he tells how, as a
child, he saw Napoleon riding through the ducal garden in Düsseldorf.
The chapter begins: "But what were my feelings when I saw himself, saw
him with my own highly-favoured eyes, himself, Hosannah! the Emperor!"
Note the _Hosannah!_ In the moment of ecstasy, the recollections of
childhood bring the Old Testament cry of salutation and rejoicing to
his lips. And what did the child think on the occasion? He remembered
that it was forbidden, under a penalty of five thalers, to ride through
the avenue. And, lo and behold! there was the emperor, with all his
officers, riding straight through--the shuddering trees bent forward as
he passed....

As a political poet, Heine is considered to be revolutionary, and so
he was. But his political animosity is exclusively aroused by medieval
conditions, medieval beliefs. He is anti-clerical in good earnest,
but not democratic in good earnest. His longest political poem,
_Deutschland, ein Wintermärchen_, ("Germany, a Winter's Tale"), gives
abundant evidence of this. It rises to real passion only where the
poet's invisible companion, the lictor with the terrible axe, breaks
up the skeletons of the Three Kings in the Cathedral of Cologne, "the
miserable skeletons of superstition." But it is in this great poem,
Heine's most important work, that we have the clearest expression of
the political feelings and principles which animated him, the element,
new to German poetry, of warlike challenge and hand-to-hand struggle.
Nothing of the kind is to be found in Goethe. In the end, indeed,
Goethe was persuaded of "the absolute pitiableness of the time," but
he feared that the overthrow of existing authorities would only make
things worse. Not even in Schiller can we find any direct reference to
the politics of the day. His political feeling finds a vent in dramas
whose theme is liberty. But in Heine, from 1830 onwards, we have always
this direct expression of the faith that was in him. His soul was
in politics. And in politics he was honest, even in cases where his
honesty was misunderstood.

Turn to that passage in the _Reisebilder_ which is most frequently
cited as an expression of his boastfulness and affectation, the
passage following on the description of his visit to the battlefield
of Marengo: "'This will be a fine day,' called my travelling
companion.--Yes, it will be a fine day, silently echoed my heart,
uplifted in prayer, trembling with sadness and joyfulness. Yes, it will
be a fine day, and the sun of liberty will gladden the earth. A new
generation will spring up and flourish, begotten in free embrace, not
in a prison bed, under the control of clerical warders; and this free
birth will generate free thoughts and feelings, of which we born serfs
have not even a presentiment ..." then at the end these words: "I know
not if I deserve that a laurel wreath should one day be laid on my
coffin. Poetry, dearly as I have loved it; has always been to me but a
divine plaything, or a weapon consecrated to divine purposes.... But
lay on my coffin a _sword_, for I was a brave soldier in the Liberation
War of humanity."

This political warfare of Heine's is spoken of with the utmost contempt
by German historians of literature, historians proper, and literary
critics; not only by Menzel, but by such men as Goedeke, Treitschke,
Grisebach (Heine's imitator and denouncer), and Hehn, whose perception
in other cases is so remarkably acute. Even Scherer is cold and
depreciatory. When the Italian poet Carducci some years ago celebrated
Heine in an ode as a hero in the struggle of liberty, even Karl
Hillebrand, the best literary critic in Germany, who had at one time
been Heine's secretary, and had always spoken of him with reverence
and admiration, made a sort of protest, declaring that Heine himself
had never taken the thing so seriously. This disfavour and distrust is
not surprising. The frivolity in Heine's character led in his youth
to repellent political vacillation. In 1827, in the hope of being
appointed to a professorship at Munich, he was ready to disown his
previous principles to please King Louis, but gained nothing by it. He
offered at the same time to defend the wretched Duke of Brunswick, the
diamond-Duke, in return for a Brunswick order; but in this case also he
was disappointed. It was not till 1830 that he began to show political
strength of character.

We must also remember that in Heine's writings there is an absence of
all "pathetic gesture." He was too proud to employ it. Germans cannot
understand this. But grievous wrong is done him. The pathos was in his
soul. His whole soul is in the little poem _Enfant Perdu_, with which
one of the divisions of _Romancero_ concludes, and which he wrote when
he was no longer young. He really was what he here calls himself, an
advanced and forgotten outpost, left to be shot down. And when, in his
posthumous prose hymn, he cries: "I am the sword, I am flame," it is
but the truth. The light of his flame, the sparks of his sword-blows,
still shine bright. Many still warm themselves at his fire.

As already mentioned, Börne, in his _Letters from Paris_, calls Heine
an inconsistent, vacillating, characterless politician. He does not
so much reproach him with overrating himself personally as with
overrating the influence of the individual human being. For it is
Börne's opinion that the individual is no longer of much importance.
Even a Voltaire or a Rousseau would not be a powerful influence
nowadays. Individuals are now merely the heralds of the people. This
Heine forgets. Then, in his desire to please the democrats, he declares
that the Jesuitic-aristocratic party in Germany malign him because he
makes a bold stand against absolutism; but almost at the same time, in
order to curry favour with the aristocrats, says that he has made a
stand against Jacobinism, and that he is, and always will be, a good

Börne does not always understand a joke. Heine gives a droll account of
a Paris millinery establishment which he frequented the summer before
he writes, where he, as a royalist, was one against sixteen, the eight
young shop-girls and their eight lovers being all violently aggressive
republicans. Elsewhere he writes: "God knows I am no Republican. I know
that when the Republicans are victorious, they will cut off my head ...
a piece of foolishness for which I am quite ready to forgive them."
Börne adds: "Not I. A lunatic asylum would be the proper place for
Republicans that were such fools as to suppose that it was necessary to
get rid of Heine in order to attain their aims."

In spite of their jesting tone, there is something in these and similar
utterances of Heine's which puzzles the reader. Intermittent outbursts
of violent Radicalism, everywhere an undertone of the most pronounced
revolutionary feeling--and these constantly recurring assurances that
he is not a Jacobin, not even a Republican.

An explanation is required, an explanation which no one has yet offered.

For to say that Heine was characterless, characterless to such a
degree, that in the most serious matters, and with the eyes of two
great nations upon him, he perpetually contradicted himself, is no
explanation at all. The vagueness, the contradiction must lie in his

Remember his faithful, boundless devotion to Napoleon, which once more
and for the last time finds expression in the _Winter's Tale_, in the
dirge of the dead emperor, brought in his coffin from St. Helena to

    "Die elysäischen Felder entlang,
     Durch des Triumphes Bogen,
     Wohl durch den Nebel, wohl über den Schnee
     Kam langsam der Zug gezogen...."[4]

And then think of the scene (from the _Reisebilder_) on the battlefield
of Marengo. The Russian asks Heine: "Are you a good Russian?" And
Heine answers: "Yes, I am a good Russian." For, he goes on to explain,
the incessant change of war-cries and of representatives in the great
struggle has now led to this--that the most enthusiastic friends of
the Revolution look for the salvation of the world from the domination
of Russia, look upon the Emperor Nicholas as the standard-bearer of
liberty in Europe. The Russian government is permeated with Liberal
ideas, its absolutism is simply a dictatorship, which gives it the
power to put these ideas into practice, &c, &c.

The mistake is colossal in its simplicity. But for our present purpose
this is of no consequence. What interests us is the fact that Russian
absolutism, thus understood by Heine, received from him the same
measure of approval and sympathy as he had formerly bestowed on the
rule of Napoleon. Give this due consideration. Heine, the most advanced
representative of Radicalism among the poets of his time, declares
the Emperor Nicholas, the most tyrannical autocrat of his time, to be
the standard-bearer of liberty! Can this be the same man who took a
childish pleasure in invariably associating in his mind the thought of
royal or imperial rank with the thought of the guillotine? Remember his
words to Barbarossa: "Du wirst hier an ein Brett geschnallt--das senkt
sich, &c, &c." (They fasten you to a plank--it is lowered, &c), and the
concluding apostrophe to the venerable old emperor: "Die Republikaner
lachen uns aus--sehn sie an unserer Spitze--so ein Gespenst mit Scepter
und Krön." (The Republicans will laugh us to scorn, if they see us led
by an old spectre like you, with sceptre and crown). We see that he
sets some value on the opinion of the Republicans, sees things to a
certain extent from their standpoint.

Or again, think of that extraordinarily witty poem "1649-1793-?" which
first treats of the short and sharp justice meted out to kings in the
English and French Revolutions, and then prophesies the impending
German revolution, but declares that:

   "Der Deutsche wird die Majestät
    Behandeln stets mit Pietät.
    In einer sechsspännigen Hofkarosse,
    Schwarz panaschirt und beflort die Rosse--
    Hoch auf dem Bock mit der Trauerpeitsche
    Der weinende Kutscher--so wird der deutsche
    Monarch einst nach dem Richtplatz kutschirt,
    Und unterthänigst guillotinirt."[5]

If this is not simply playing with words and with feelings, there
must be an explanation of it, a key to it which Heine himself did
not possess. For that there is self-contradiction in such words is

The explanation is that Heine was at one and the same time a
passionate lover of liberty and an out-and-out aristocrat. He had
the freedom-loving nature's thirst for liberty, pined and languished
for it, and loved it with his whole soul; but he had also the great
nature's admiration for human greatness, and the refined nature's
nervous horror of the rule of mediocrity.

In other words, there was not a drop of conservative blood in Heinrich
Heine's heart. His blood was revolutionary. But neither was there a
drop of democratic blood in his heart. His blood was aristocratic, his
desire was to see genius acknowledged as leader and ruler.

When, in his historical retrospects or previsions, he sees a worthless
king or emperor guillotined, he applauds. But he would give to Cæsar
that which is Cæsar's. _Apodote ta Kaisaros Kaisari_ is the saying of
Jesus which is most deeply engraved on his mind. He does not dread a
condition of liberty, to which any liberty we have yet known on earth
is child's play; but he does not believe that liberty would result
from the realisation of the Philistine ideals of the average mind. All
mediocrity, Liberal and Republican mediocrity included, he abhors, as
inimical to great individuality, to great liberty.

Hence his distrust of the North American Republic, his want of
enthusiasm for its liberty:

   "Manchmal kommt mir in den Sinn
    Nach Amerika zu segeln,
    Nach dem grossen Freiheitsstall,
    Der bewohnt von Gleichheitsflegeln...."[6]

If Heine adores the _Marseillaise_, it is because the _Marseillaise_
is to him the symbol of the great revolt. If he worships Napoleon,
it is because Napoleon is the over-thrower of kings and of the old
order of the world; and if, in Napoleon's case, he overlooks all that
is inimical to liberty, it is because Napoleon is in his eyes the
representative of the people, free from any suspicion of democratic

It is only at a rare time, when he is despondent, when he is not
himself, but is making use of a borrowed formula, that Heine commits
himself to the foolish, plebeian assertion that the power of the great
personality is a thing of the past--a theory which is in reality
nothing but the classic expression of middle-class envy. In his heart
of hearts Heine is so convinced of the contrary that he can go to the
mad extreme of imagining Nicholas, the obdurate representative of the
principle of coercion, to be the chief champion of liberty in Europe.
But Nicholas was at least a personality, a power. And Heine was genius
enough to feel that in the last instance personalities and powers are
the only things that count. Numbers do not, neither do monarchs, not
even in quantities. Hence Heine's standing joke on the subject of the
three dozen German monarchs.

What Heine dreaded was perhaps in the first place a life without
beauty. Fourier's Phalanstery, the great home of labour, where
everything, down to the beer, is equally distributed, where there is no
room for any superfluity, not even for the superfluity which is known
by the name of art, seemed to him to be inevitable in the future, but
did not satisfy him.

But still more repugnant to him was a life without all greatness,
with equality in mediocrity as its religion, and hatred to genius, to
inquiring minds, to those who openly discard Nazarene asceticism, as
its only real morality. And equally repugnant to him was society as
he knew it, dominated by an unintellectual clergy and an unrefined
aristocracy, and society as he foresaw it, composed of emancipated
slave souls, who had only exchanged the servility which was their
instinct for free indulgence in the envy which lay at the root of all
their morality.

He certainly took part with those who rose in revolution against Louis
XVI., that worthy locksmith who became a king. But he as certainly took
part with Cæsar against Brutus, that dunce of a usurer, who could do
nothing but stick a knife into a great man.

Heine imagined himself to be a monarchist; he called himself so from
sincere conviction, because he was a Cæsarian, and had not the word to
express it. He imagined himself to be a democrat, and called himself
so; because he was born a plebeian, hated all unjust privileges of
birth, and felt himself in eternal opposition to the squirearchy and
the clergy. But in his inmost soul he was consistent. The apparent
contradiction in his political sympathies and tendencies arose from the
fact that he loved greatness and beauty as truly as he loved liberty,
and that he was not prepared to sacrifice the highest development of
humanity on the altar of unreal equality and real mediocrity.

[1] If I ever get hold of thee, thou ugly bird, I will pluck out thy
feathers and cut off thy claws, perch thee high in air on a pole, and
call the archers of the Rhineland to the merry shooting-match.

[2] K. Mendelssohn-Bartholdy: _Preussen und Frankreich zur Zeit der
Julirevolution_, p. 25, &c.

[3] Haym: _Hegel und seine Zeit_.

[5] The German will ever treat royalty with respect. 'Tis in a carriage
of state, drawn by six horses with sable plumes and trappings--on the
box a weeping coachman with crape-bound whip--that the German monarch
will be driven to the place of execution, and there most submissively

[6] At times the fancy takes me to set sail for America, that great
liberty-stable, where the equality-bumpkins congregate....



It seems most probable that Heinrich Heine was born on the 13th of
December 1797. His father, Samson Heine of Hanover, as a young man
took part in a campaign in Flanders and Brabant, in the capacity of
quartermaster (with the rank of an officer) to the Duke of Cumberland,
but after his marriage with Peira (Betty) von Geldern, settled down
as a merchant in Düsseldorf. He was a handsome, placid, grave man,
without much ability, even as a merchant. He had no taste for art or
poetry, but he had a childish love of a fine uniform, and aristocratic
tastes for gambling, actresses, dogs, and horses. He is said to have
taken twelve horses with him when he removed to Düsseldorf. The poet's
mother was a woman of keen intelligence and deep feeling, and was very
musical. She had received a good education, spoke French and English as
fluently as German, was a disciple of Rousseau, whose _Émile_ she had
studied, and an admirer of Goethe. She early rebelled against prejudice
and conventionality, and differed from her husband, who reverenced
Napoleon, in being an ardent patriot. Education was her hobby, and she
taught her children with great care and patience. Both parents were
free-thinkers in the matter of religion--the father indifferent, the
mother a deist; but they brought up their children in the observance of
the old Jewish ritual.

After a short time at a Jewish school for young children, where, it may
be, the foundation was laid for that knowledge of the Bible which is
so conspicuous in his writings, Heinrich was placed in an educational
establishment carried on in an old Franciscan monastery by French
ecclesiastics, principally Jesuits, who were at the same time educated
men of the world. He had had a happy childhood in his home, and at
school, too, he found friends and protectors, who took his part when
his religion or his mocking tongue threatened to get him into trouble.

The earliest noticeable peculiarity in the future poet was a
nervousness, which steadily grew upon him, and which showed itself in
the disagreeable and even painful effect produced in him by any kind of
noise. Piano-playing and loud talk, at times even his sister's sweet,
melodious voice, affected him as screaming affects ordinary nerves. And
his sense of smell was as acute as his hearing. From a child he, like
Goethe, loathed tobacco smoke. He had no taste for music, and never
learned to dance. At fifteen he began to write good verse.

The Rhineland, with its joyousness, but also with its superstition,
tradition, and legend; the Catholic worship of these parts, with its
medieval buildings and ceremonies and pilgrimages, over which the
Romantic poetry of the day cast a transfiguring halo; the impressions
produced by Jewish descent, by the poetry of the Bible, and by the
craving for liberty, and the self-contempt engendered in the Jews
by oppression; the enthusiasm for the French and for Napoleon, and
afterwards, following quickly upon this, the patriotic awakening of
Germany, which led all the pupils in the highest class of the school,
Heine among them, to attempt (most of them in vain) to enlist as
volunteers in the War of Liberation--all these outward conditions and
psychological experiences formed and set their imprint on the boy's
mind. The great humorists, such as Cervantes and Swift, were his chosen
reading; _Don Quixote_ and _Gulliver's Travels_ his favourite books.

In his sixteenth year he had a first romantic attachment to a girl
of his own age, Josepha by name, the daughter of an executioner, who
lived with her aunt, the widow of another executioner, a woman avoided
and feared by all. Heine has told us that the young girl was strangely
pale, that her movements were rhythmic and dignified, that she had
finely cut features, large, dark eyes, and blood-red hair. She knew and
taught him many ballads, was, he himself tells us, the first to awaken
his taste for popular poetry, and altogether, what with her radiant
beauty and the atmosphere of weirdness and horror that surrounded her,
exercised no small influence on the budding poet. In Heine's first
poems we observe a tendency towards thoughts of death and the grave,
which seems to have been one result of the tender attachment of the two
children. In No. 6 of the _Dream Pictures_, the eternal damnation which
is the price that must be paid for the possession of the beautiful
woman who appears in the dream, seems to symbolise the dishonour which
clung to the executioner's whole race, and acted like a curse on all
who dared to connect themselves with it.

After 1816, Josepha's image is supplanted in Heine's soul by that of
another young girl. His parents, on whom the brilliant career of the
Rothschilds had made a great impression, destined their Harry (as he
was originally called) to be a merchant. They sent him first to a
commercial school in Düsseldorf, then for a few months to a banker in
Frankfort, and finally placed him in an office in Hamburg, where his
uncle, the well-known Salomon Heine, had risen to be a great man in
the commercial world. In 1818, with the help of this rich uncle, on
whom he remained practically dependent for the rest of his life, Heine
began business for himself, as a commission agent for English drapery
goods. Few were surprised when, in the following spring, the firm of
"Harry Heine & Co." stopped payment. But in his uncle's house Heine had
found not only the crusty benefactor who, generous to his nephew as he
was, never understood him and was always irritated by him, but also, in
that benefactor's third daughter Amalie, the woman who was to be the
fate of his youth, and whom he has extolled and execrated under various
names--Maria, Zuleima, in correspondence Molly. He is never tired of
celebrating her charms; she shines in beauty resplendent as that of
the goddess who emerged from the sea foam; her eyes, lips, and cheeks
are those of the Madonna in the Cathedral of Cologne; her eyes are
violets, her hands lilies, &c, &c. But it does not appear that she ever
loved him. He hoped in time to win her affections, and it is possible
that he may now and again have received tokens of her favour; from his
poems we are led to understand that her marriage to a landed proprietor
from Königsberg, in the year 1821, stunned him at the time, and was
afterwards regarded by him as unpardonable treachery.

Heine had shown how little fitted he was for the career of a merchant,
and had moreover acquired a thorough distaste for it; fresh help from
his uncle now enabled him to prepare himself for one of the learned
professions. In 1819, soon after the Jewish Reform secession, he left
Hamburg, and travelled by Düsseldorf to Bonn, there to study law and
work for the degree which his uncle required that he should take.

The University of Bonn, which was closed for several years during the
French rule, had lately been reopened, and had a staff of excellent
professors. But it was just at this time that, in consequence of the
Resolutions of Karlsbad, the prosecution of the students' unions
(Burschenschaften) and of all national movements among the students
began; and almost immediately after his arrival at the university,
Heine, having taken part in a fête on the anniversary of the battle of
Leipzig, was summoned before a magistrate and involved in a petty and
futile political law-suit, which could not fail to arouse in him a keen
personal detestation of the new reaction. The certificate he received
at the matriculation examination in 1819 was to the effect that he knew
no Greek, had only a slight and unpractical knowledge of Latin, and was
not qualified to enter for examination in mathematics at all; but that
he was "not entirely wanting in knowledge of history" and that "his
German work, though strange in style, showed praiseworthy effort."

The young student, in the velvet coat and frilled shirt, with lace
falling over his white, beautifully shaped hands, aimed at careless
elegance in dress and deportment. He was of middle height; his
light-brown hair, which he wore rather long, framed a beardless,
regular-featured face. The nose was almost Grecian, the eyes were blue,
the mouth was large and expressive, and the lips were often parted in
that cold, scornful smile so frequently referred to in his poems.

He attended lectures on the history of the German language, on the
_Germania_ of Tacitus, on the _Niebelungenlied,_ and other historical
and literary subjects; dividing his time between these and the law
course, lectures on Roman law, German law, &c. A professor who had an
undoubted influence upon the young poet was A. W. Schlegel, the leader
of the Romantic school. To him Heine showed his verses. _Almansor_ was
written about this time.

Towards the end of 1820 Heine left Bonn for Göttingen, with the good
intention of applying himself diligently to the study of law at the
university there. But, as he tells us very plainly in the _Harzreise_,
the place was distasteful to him, and in the course of a few months,
moreover, on account of some trifling quarrel with another student,
he was rusticated. This led to his going to Berlin in 1821. There,
in Varnhagen's house, the intellectual centre of the day, where
Rahel gathered around her the aristocracy of culture, talent, and
birth, he soon made acquaintance with the élite of the best society
of the capital. At night, in Lutter and Wegener's restaurant in the
Behrenstrasse (still in existence), he met the leading lights and
genial Bohemians of the day, among them men like E. T. W. Hoffmann and
Grabbe. And here, after several fruitless attempts, he succeeded in
finding a publisher, who was willing to take the risk of bringing out
his first collection of poems and to give him forty copies of the book
by way of payment. It appeared in December, 1821, made his name known,
almost famous, and at once called forth both imitations and parodies.

At the university Heine attended the lectures of the first scholars
of the day--Hegel, to whom he was ardently devoted; Bopp, the great
authority on Sanscrit; Wolf, the classical philologist; and Eduard
Gans, the great lawyer. He entered with youthful zeal into the schemes
of a circle of men whose object it was to bring about a reform of
Judaism, and who were attempting to initiate the Jews into the ideas
of European culture. With an equal amount of youthful bitterness, he
attacked in _Almansor_, in foreign garb, the renegade Jews who deserted
the common cause; and also, though indirectly, Christianity, which
he regarded as a hostile power. _Almansor_ was published, along with
Heine's other youthful work, _William Ratcliff_, in 1823; it was acted,
but had no success, because of the race hatred felt for its author.[1]

The life Heine led in Berlin was not compatible with any proper
progress in his studies. It was but a continuation of the dissipated
life to which he had accustomed himself in Hamburg. In 1823 he
determined to turn over a new leaf, and consequently left Berlin, went
first to his parents at Lüneburg, thence to Hamburg, and from Hamburg
returned to Göttingen, where in 1825 he took his degree of Doctor of
Law. Immediately after this he was baptized. He did not change his
religion from conviction of the truth of Christianity; on the contrary,
his antipathy to it was strong, and he was thoroughly ashamed of the
step which he took simply with the aim of extricating himself from the
humiliating and galling position of dependence on his uncle; income,
office, or profession being attainable on no other condition. His frame
of mind at this time is depicted in that overrated fragment, _Der Rabbi
von Bacharach_, which, in spite of some spirited and artistic passages,
really proves that Heine was incapable of writing a historical novel.
At the end of this work, the author, in the disguise of a fictitious
character, confesses the shame he felt at going over to a religion
which to him was the enemy's camp.

In the correspondence between Varnhagen and Rahel, we find occasional
allusions to Heine, which give us a good idea of him as he was in those
days. Curiously enough, the first time Varnhagen mentions "our little
Heine," he quotes an exhortation of Rahel's to the young man, which is
very remarkable, because it shows with what acute perception she had
at once discovered the very author with whom he had, indeed, something
in common, but whom it would have been fatal to him, both personally
and in a literary sense, to resemble. The exhortation is: "You must not
become a Brentano. I cannot stand that!" At another time she writes
jestingly: "Heine must and shall be real, even if he has to be thrashed
into it.

'Be real, O man!'"

And Varnhagen, too, understood him well. How acute is the following
remark in a letter to Rahel, written six years later: "And now, in
addition to all the other wise and clever people who entertain you, you
have Heine with you, the original, the far-travelled, the fresh Heine!
Fresh in this case does not necessarily mean fresh from the sea; for
salt herring, too, and that because they _are_ salted, may be called
fresh." The same idea recurs in an observation he makes on Heine at the
age of thirty: "I hope you will see him often, and that he will try to
benefit by his intercourse with you. He requires to be preserved in a
good spiritual atmosphere, for there is something about him that spoils

Rahel and Varnhagen were the first to proclaim Heine's talent. The
earliest laudatory notice of his poems was written by his fashionable
diplomatic patron. Yet it is plain that they detected and deplored the
weaknesses in his character, which might become dangerous, even fatal,
to his great poetic gifts.

[1] G. Karpeles: _Biographie Heinrich Heine's_, 1885.

[2] _Briefwechsel zwischen Varnhagen und Rahel_, vi. 48, 56, 316, 344.
Other interesting utterances of Rand's on the subject of Heine are as
follows: "I hardly see Heine; he is entirely taken up with himself,
says he must work hard, is almost surprised that such a real thing as
his father's death, his mother's grief, should affect him.... He looks
healthier, hardly complains now at all; but slight grimaces that used
to be only occasional with him, have grown to be habitual, and are not
becoming; for instance a twitching of the mouth in speaking, which I
used to think rather fascinating, though it was no good sign." "I was
intending to write about Heine. The conclusion I have come to is, that
his talent is very great, but that unless it matures, it will lose all
substance, will degenerate into hollow mannerism." Varnhagen answers:
"The one hope for Heine is that he should gain the foothold of truth;
once firmly established on that, he may let his talent sally forth to
seek prey and disport itself where it will" (vi. 347, 356, 365).



The most popular of Heine's books in our day, that with which his name
is most inseparably connected, the _Buch der Lieder_ of 1827, consists
of groups of poems belonging to different years and periods.

The first group, _Junge Leiden_ (1817-1821), is, as such, the weakest.
It is divided into four parts: Dream Pictures, Songs, Romances,
Sonnets. The subjects treated are: early recollections of Düsseldorf
and of a happy childhood there, his love to his mother, Napoleon
worship, much Catholic Rhineland romance, churchyard dances of death
with rattle of bones, and all sorts of visions. We have the jesting
tone--jocose complaints of the embarrassments resulting from the
all too speedy disappearance of the ducats; and the bitter tone,
produced by the poet's resentment of the humiliations to which he, as
an unsuccessful and defaulting young merchant, was subjected by the
wealthy citizens of Hamburg. We have outbursts of affection for college
friends, and of admiration for A. W. Schlegel, a man as distinguished
in the literary world as at the university; and also patriotic
outbursts in the "Burschen" style, which Heine quickly tired of. We
have passionate expression of the self-consciousness of genius, and we
have love-griefs and plaints of various sorts--first love's aspirations
(blended in E. T. W. Hoffmann's manner with churchyard horrors),
and then exceedingly sentimental laments over unreturned love, and
outbursts of wild, despairing accusation of the false one, who has
given him his deathblow, and who drinks his blood and eats his heart
at her wedding feast. In one single poem, _Die Fensterschau_, the mood
suddenly changes into a sort of coarse jollity.

Of these youthful poems, which for the most part are old-fashioned
in form, the best are the famous epigrammatic quatrain beginning:
"Anfangs wollt' ich fast verzagen" (I at first was near despairing),
the earliest example of the condensation of Heine's style; a few of
the sonnets, which are much more passionate than the great majority of
German sonnets; and lastly, among the romances, _Belsazer_, probably
inspired by Byron's _Hebrew Melodies_, and the inimitable ballad of the
_Two Grenadiers_, already referred to.

The second group, which owes its odd title, _Lyric Intermezzo_, to the
fact that it first appeared as a lyric interlude between the two bad
tragedies, _Almansor_ and _Ratcliff_, published in 1823, treats of the
same subjects as the first, but in more uncommon forms and with freer
artistic manipulation. Two critics, Ernst Elster and Wilhelm Bölsche
(the former in the introduction to his edition of the original text of
the _Buch der Lieder_, the latter in an independent work on Heine),
have pointed out with much critical acumen that in this division we
seldom have a direct expression of the poet's love troubles, but
rather a sort of extract of them, which he gives us from memory. His
imagination runs riot among the old sufferings, now and again actually
playing with them; hence we have an occasional unlucky expression;
the reader at times doubts the reality of the feeling, and becomes
suspicious of the constant assurances of a killing grief, in despite of
which life goes on and art is not neglected.

But it was only natural that Heine should fall back upon this one
passion, even though it had received no new nourishment in the
interval. He had felt none since which could compare with it in
strength or in influence upon his inner life. It was, and it remained,
the most important incident in his life. It seems as if any happiness
it brought him had been most transient; hence the first time he sang
of his love he dwelt exclusively on its woes, on the absence of all
return, on his forsakenness, on the treachery and cold cruelty of the
beloved. Now that he was so far disenthralled, he related the whole
real or imaginary history of the passion, from the day when it first
awoke to life to the hour when he was as dead for her; and imparted
greater piquancy and fulness to its life story by giving each of its
separate moments some background drawn from nature in one or other of
her many moods. In the _Dream Pictures_ night reigned supreme. Now
we have the budding of the leaf, the singing of the birds, and the
starlight of May.

That the love supposed to be at first felt by the beloved one for the
poet is only a fiction, and does not really agree with the facts of
the case, Heine involuntarily discloses when he paints tender scenes
between them. For in these the lover never feels himself to be the
possessor; even when he holds the object of his desire in his arms his
only feeling is longing:

   "Lehn deine Wang' an meine Wang',
     Dann fliessen die Thränen zusammen!
    Und an mein Herz drück fest dein Herz,
     Dann schlagen zusammen die Flammen!

    Und wenn in die grosse Flamme fliesst
     Der Strom von unseren Thränen,
    Und wenn dich mein Arm gewaltig umschliesst--
     _Sterb' ich vor Liebessehnen._"[1]


    Thy cheek incline, dear love to mine,
     Then our tears in one stream will meet, love!
    Let thy heart be pressed till on mine it rest,
     Then the flames together will beat, love!

    And when the stream of our tears shall light
     On that flame so fiercely burning,
    And within my arms I clasp thee tight--
     I shall die with love's wild yearning.
           (Translated by SIR THEODORE MARTIN.)

This favoured lover, who, when the flames meet, dies of longing,
betrays himself to be in reality a thoroughly unsatisfied lover.

Hence the best of the purely erotic poems are those which express
love's longing and those which depict its sad decay. Conspicuous
amongst the poems of tender longing is the charming Oriental song,
_Auf Flügeln des Gesanges, Herzliebchen, trag' ich dich fort_, which
fascinates by its exotic Indian landscape and by its delicate fervency
of feeling. Heine longed for India as Goethe longed for Italy; his
spiritual home was on the banks of the Ganges, as Goethe's was on the
banks of the Tiber. It is probable that Bopp's lectures first turned
his thoughts in the direction of that Oriental dream-land; but in
picturing it he employs the purely imaginative, Romantic style, which
he inherited, remodelled for himself, and used in painting the far-off
and alluring.

How simply beautiful is such a verse as:

   "Dort wollen wir niedersinken
     Unter dem Palmenbaum,
    Und Lieb' und Ruhe trinken
     Und träumen seligen Traum."[2]


   We'll lie there, in slumber sinking,
    'Neath the palm tree by the stream,
   Raptures and rest deep drinking,
    Dreaming the happiest dream.
                       (C. G. LELAND.)

But a verse like:

   "Dort liegt ein rothblühender Garten
     Im stillen Mondenschein,
    Die Lotosblumen erwarten
     Ihr trautes Schwesterlein."[3]


   There a red-blooming garden is lying
    In the moonlight silent and clear;
   The lotus flowers are sighing
    For their sister so gentle and dear.
                        (E. A. BOWRING.)

beautiful as it is, caressing as it sounds, has something of the
unnaturalness which often strikes the reader in Heine's painting of
nature. The colouring is vivid, but not real; local colours obtrude
themselves to the detriment of the general tone. "Rothblühender,"
(red-blooming) is hardly the word that it would naturally occur
to one to use in describing a garden seen by moonlight. In the
lines: "Gegenüber am Fenster sassen _Rosengesichter_ dämmernd und
_mond_beglänzt." (At the opposite window glimmered rose-faces,
bright in the moonlight glow), from the later poem _Abenddämmerung_
("Twilight"), we have the same sort of effect, produced at the same
expense of naturalness. The declaration that the lotus flowers are
expecting their dear sister sounds like an old-fashioned compliment
in the midst of this gorgeous Ganges imagery. We have much the same
expression in the stanza:

   "Es flüstern und sprechen die Blumen
      Und schau'n mitleidig mich an:
    Sei unsrer Schwester nicht böse,
      Du trauriger, blasser Mann!"[4]


   The flowers are whispering and talking;
     With pity my features they scan:
   O, pray do not chide our sister,
     Thou sorrowful, pale-faced man!
                          (C. G. LELAND.)

This is a madrigal style which Heine leaves behind in his later work.

Another of the verses in this wonderfully emotional song of the Ganges
has characteristics which point to Heine's derivation from the Romantic
school, with its arbitrary interpretation of nature:--

   "Die Veilchen kichern und kosen
    Und schau'n nach den Sternen empor."[5]


   The violets titter, caressing,
   Peeping up as the planets appear.
                     (C. G. LELAND.)

It is quite audacious enough to represent violets as caressing each
other; we are reminded of Hans Andersen's enchanted gardens; to make
them titter is certainly too much of a good thing. Émile Zola affects
this same style in his description of the Paradou garden.

The next song, which is conceived in the same spirit, the song of
the lotus flower that fears the splendour of the sun, is a charming
poem, despite its flower-innocence, marvellously, meltingly sensuous.
Sensual-spiritual desire is here intensified till it reaches the verge
of hysteria; for the poet, not content with making the lotus flower
blossom and glow and shine and exhale fragrance and tremble, when her
lover, the moon, awakes her with his rays, actually makes her weep.[6]

[6] _Cf_ W. Kirchbach: _Heine's Dichterwerkstatt_, in _Magazin für die
Litteratur_, Jahrgang 57, Nr. 18, 19, 20.

Next in real feeling to the poems of desire come those that express the
relinquishment, the cessation of the passion. The finest example is
poem No. 59 in the _Intermezzo_, which in its first verse describes the
falling of a star, the star of love, from heaven; in its second, the
falling of the apple-blossoms from the tree; in its third, the sinking
of a swan to its watery grave; then sums all up in the concluding

   "Es ist so still und dunkel!
      Verweht ist Blatt und Blüth',
    Der Stern ist knisternd zerstoben,
      Verklungen das Schwanenlied."[7]


   The silence and the night fall,
     The blossoms all have fled,
   In sparks the star has vanished,
     The swan and his song are dead.
                             (H. F.)

It is very characteristic of Heine that, as the poem stands, it does
not produce the impression that he has really witnessed any one of the
three natural scenes depicted; they are simply symbols, arbitrarily
selected and combined.

Amongst this passionate verse he has interspersed poems of a totally
different description, treating of far more trivial amours. Some of
the most exceptionable of these he did not include in the _Buch der
Lieder_, not even, for example, the very harmless:--

   "Du sollst mich liebend umschliessen,
      Geliebtes, schönes Weib!
    Umschling mich mit Armen und Füssen
      Und mit dem geschmeidigen Leib!"[8]


   Come, twine in wild rapture round me,
     Fair woman, beloved and warm,
   Till thy feet and hands have bound me,
     And I'm wreathed with thy supple form!

But we have, among others, _Die Welt ist dumm, die Welt ist blind_
("The world is stupid, the world is blind"), with its description of
burning kisses. There are also other epigrammatic verses of a serious,
passionate character, such as the well-known _Ich hab' dich geliebet
und liebe dich noch_ ("I have loved thee long, and I love thee now");
and, finally, in the very famous _Ein Jüngling liebt ein Mädchen, die
hat einen Andern erwählt_ ("A young man loves a maiden, who another
to him prefers"), with intentional triviality of diction, and with an
impersonality which is unusual with him, Heine generalises the human
fate which has made of him an erotic poet.

To the collection of poems which form the second part of the _Lyric
Intermezzo_, the title _Heimkehr_ ("The Home-Coming") is given.
They were written in 1823-1824 in Hamburg and Cuxhaven, and the
"home-coming" is the poet's return to Hamburg, the scene of his love
romance, where the sight of all the familiar surroundings causes his
heart's wounds to bleed afresh. With this main theme is associated
another, new in German poetry--the sea, which Heine now saw for the
first time.

Mingled with the lamentations over his lost love, which the sight of
the environments of the old tragedy calls forth, are records of new
impressions. There is first a wild outbreak of the old passion; he
broods once more over all its agonies; he is miserable in the streets,
where he feels as if the houses were falling on him, and still more
miserable in the rooms where she plighted her faith to him. What is new
in these songs of unhappy love is the hatred, always alike passionate
and wild, that flames up over the grave of buried happiness.

But on his travels the poet has met the family of his beloved, and her
younger sister resembles her, especially when she laughs; she has the
same eyes, the eyes that have made him so unhappy. In a letter dated
August 23rd, 1823, he tells his best friend that "a new folly has been
engrafted on the old." Ernst Elster's careful study of letters and
poems has enabled him to show that about this time Heine's first and
very unfortunate passionate attachment to Amalie Heine was superseded
by a passion for Therese Heine, who was her sister's junior by eight
years. Eveline and Ottilie are the poetic names bestowed on Therese.
The new passion was a violent one, but in all probability met with as
little return as the first. Hence the well-known lines:

   "Wer zum ersten Male liebt,
    Sei's auch glücklos, ist ein Gott;
    Aber wer zum zweiten Male
    Glücklos liebt, der ist ein Narr.

    Ich, ein solcher Narr, ich liebe
    Wieder ohne Gegenliebe;
    Sonne, Mond und Sterne lachen,
    Und ich lache mit--und sterbe."[9]


    He who for the first time loves,
    Though unloved, is still a god;
    But the man who loves a second
    And in vain, must be a fool.

    Such a fool am I, now loving
    Once again, without return;
    Sun and moon and stars are smiling,
    And I smile with them--and perish.

In the year 1828 Therese Heine was engaged and married to a Dr. Adolf
Halle. Among Heine's posthumous poems are bitterly satirical verses on
the bridegroom and the wedding. He had the unchivalrous poet's habit of
revenging himself by satire when he met with a rebuff. But the poems in
_Heimkehr_ which refer to Therese are not inspired with the bitterness
and hatred which Heine frequently displays in writing of her elder
sister. He praises Therese's beauty, her lovely eyes, her purity; she
is like a flower; he prays to her as others pray to Paul and Peter and
the Madonna; and he struggles against his feelings, dreads this new
passion. Both pride and shyness forbid him to declare it; it would be
better for her if she did not love him; at times he has himself tried
to prevent the awakening of love in her soul; but, having been only too
successful in the attempt, the desire for her love once more asserts
itself. He is too proud to speak of his passion and of his suffering,
mockery and jests are on his lips, while inwardly he is bleeding to
death; but she does not understand him, does not see that his heart is
trembling, is breaking. Hence these lines:

   "O, dieser Mund ist viel zu stolz
      Und kann nur küssen und scherzen;
    Er spräche vielleicht ein höhnisches Wort,
      Während ich sterbe vor Schmerzen."[10]


   Alas, this mouth is far too proud,
     'Twas made but for kissing and sighing;
   Perchance it may speak a scornful word,
     While I with sorrow am dying.

But this time the threat of dying is not intended to be taken
literally. For in another poem we find the sincere assurance:--

   "Glaub' nicht, dass ich mich erschiesse,
      Wie schlimm auch die Sachen steh'n!
    Das Alles, meine Süsse,
      Ist mir schon einmal gescheh'n."[11]


    Fear not that I shall languish,
      Or shoot myself: oh, no!
    I've gone through all this anguish
      Already, long ago.

Undoubtedly, however, he felt deeply and suffered greatly this time
also. Strange as it sounds, cousin-love, which is, as a rule, merely
the initiation into the life of passion, its first preliminary stage,[12]
(Note 20) was the only serious, and not perfectly transient passion
known to young Heine. And no feeling experienced later, in his mature
manhood, approached in intensity to this youthful twin-passion for two
sisters, the second of whom reminded him of the first.


    Aux prés de l'enfance on cueille
    Les petites amourettes
    Qu'on jette au vent feuille à feuille,
    Ainsi que des pâquerettes;
    On cueille dans ces prairies
    Les voisines, les cousines,
    Les amourettes fleuries
    Et qui n'ont pas de racines.

Among the emotional poems which refer to this episode in his psychic
history, Heine introduced (exactly as he did in the _Intermezzo_)
verses relating to less serious love affairs, to college adventures,
and even to quite low, venal, erotic pleasures. He omitted from the
_Buch der Lieder_ some of the most objectionable of these, which
originally formed part of the _Heimkehr_, amongst others the amusing,
though impudent:

   "Blamier mich nicht, mein schönes Kind,
      Und grüss mich nicht unter den Linden;
    Wenn wir nachher zu Hause sind,
      Wird sich schon Alles finden."[13]


   Don't compromise me, my pretty one,
     Don't bow to me in "Rotten Row";
   At home together afterwards
     I'll make up for it, that you know.

--and even such a merry wanton rhyme as:--

   "Himmlisch war's, wenn ich bezwang
      Meine sündige Begier;
    Aber wenn's mir nicht gelang,
      Hatt' ich doch ein gross Plaisir."[14]


   'Twas heavenly joy to overcome
      Each sinful wish and thought;
    But when I couldn't, truth to tell,
      That, too, much pleasure brought.

What we are most struck by in the poems of this division is the
author's double gift of song and painting. Along with the capacity
for producing those outbursts of mixed passion, which sound like the
unaffected heart-cry of modern humanity, he here reveals a special
talent for painting, for producing figures by means of light and shade
and colour, without outline.

There is the scene in the lonely parsonage, with the disunited,
despairing family (_Der bleiche, herbstliche Halbmond_). The son is
determined to be a highway robber, the daughter has made up her mind to
sell herself to the Count. With all its vividness, however, this scene
is not one of the best. There is too much old-fashioned Romanticism
in the idea of the dead father in his black robes standing outside,
knocking at the window. The next poem, _Das ist ein schlechtes Wetter_,
is a most masterly production. We see the little old woman hobbling
across the street with her lantern late on the dark and stormy evening,
to make purchases for her tall, beautiful daughter, who is lying in the
arm-chair at home, blinking sleepily at the light, her golden locks
falling over her sweet face--it is like an old Dutch painting.

Still finer is the group of eight poems which was the result of his
stay at Cuxhaven. _Wir sassen am Fischerhause_ is a little marvel
of artistic ability--that talk with the girls, sitting outside the
fisherman's hut, in which far-off India and Ultima Thule are described
in a few words: "By the Ganges all is brightness and fragrance, giant
trees blossom, and beautiful, tranquil men and women kneel to the lotus
flowers. In Lapland the people are dirty and small; their heads are
flat and their mouths are wide; they cower round the fire, roast fish,
and screech and scream."

Then there are merry poems, treating of light characters like the girl
whom he searches for through the whole town and finds in a fashionable
hotel, and the girl in whose heart the blue hussars are quartered.

And lastly, there are single epigrammatic verses, which every one
now knows by heart, but which, at the time they appeared, gave great
offence and made enemies for their author. Especially noteworthy is the

   "Selten habt ihr mich verstanden,
      Selten auch verstand ich euch,
    Nur wenn wir im Koth uns fanden,
      So verstanden wir uns gleich."[15]


   Little by thee comprehended,
     Little knew I thee, good brother;
   When we in the mud descended
     Soon we understood each other.

It is incomprehensible that this verse should ever have been regarded
as a confession of unclean instincts. It only applies to those who find
their way straight to any exceptionable or indecent passage in a book,
as the sow finds her way to the mire, and stops there. That it never
occurred to Heine that he was making any admission of having desired to
appeal to his reader's sensual instincts or cynic tendencies is best
proved by the poem which immediately follows on the lines in question,
the one beginning:

   "Doch die Kastraten klagten,
      Als ich meine Stimm' erhob;
    Sie klagten und sie sagten:
      Ich sänge viel zu grob."[16]


   How the eunuchs were complaining
     At the roughness of my song!
   Complaining and explaining
     That my voice was much too strong.

He could not have declared more unmistakably that, where he is
straightforward, plain-spoken, or cynical, it is only the result of his
modern tendency to realistic truthfulness, of his antipathy to romantic
embellishment, and of his instinctive inclination to face the bitter
truth of life.

And there is quite as little justification for the general complaint
of what Julian Schmidt has called the low-mindedness of Heine's sudden
leaps from the sublime to the sordid. We have a typical instance of
these sudden changes of style and mood in the poem _Frieden_ ("Peace"),
one of the group of North Sea poems, in which Heine, during a calm at
sea, beholds the giant form of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, striding
over sea and land. He is clothed in white; his head touches the clouds;
the heart in his breast is the sun, the red, flaming sun, and this
sun-heart sheds its illuminating, warming rays over land and sea. Then
there is a sudden revulsion of mood. Heine calls to mind a miserable,
canting fellow in Berlin, weak in mind and body, strong in faith--what
would not _he_ give to be able to hit upon such pious imagery, by means
of which he might ingratiate himself with those in power and perhaps
attain to the position of court-councillor in the pious town on the
Spree--what dreams he would have of a hundred thalers rise in salary!

Heine most undoubtedly spoiled the effect of his beautiful vision.
He broke up his poem, shattered its melody with grotesque discords;
but yet it is easy to understand that in the case of a poet with
his experience of modern life, the second vision was a perfectly
natural sequel to the first; and in any case it is unjustifiable to
speak of this connection of ideas, this "idea-leap," as a symptom of
low-mindedness. In this connection Wilhelm Bölsche makes the true and
pertinent observation that no one has accused Goethe of low-mindedness
because he allows the gibes of Mephistopheles to follow directly upon
Faust's confession of faith to Gretchen (_Heinrich Heine_, p. 106). And
yet the only difference is that in _Faust_ the pathos and the ribaldry
are put into the mouths of two people, whereas in the lyric poem the
poet makes himself directly responsible for both.

Almost at the end of this collection (_Heimkehr_), we come upon a
couple of poems which are distinguished by depth of feeling and
perfection of form. The particular arrangement of their rhymes would
distinguish them from the majority of the small poems, if nothing else
did, as it is one we seldom meet with in Heine. The first, _Dämmernd
liegt der Sommerabend_ ("Summer eve with day is striving"), which
describes the beautiful elf-maiden bathing in the river by moonlight,
has the diaphanous haze of a Corot landscape. The rhythmic treatment
of the second gives it a unique place in the collection. It is the
pathetic, fantastic:

   "Der Tod, das ist die kühle Nacht,
      Das Leben ist der schwüle Tag.
    Es dunkelt schon, mich schläfert,
      Der Tag hat mich müd gemacht.

    Über mein Bett erhebt sich ein Baum,
      Drin singt die junge Nachtigall;
    Sie singt von lauter Liebe,
      Ich hör' es sogar im Traum."[17]


    Death is a cool and pleasant night,
      Life is a sultry day.
    'Tis growing dark-I'm weary,
      For day has tired me with his light.

    Over my bed a fair tree gleams,
      And in it sits a nightingale:
    She sings of naught save love,
      I hear it even in dreams.

The next division of the _Buch der Lieder, Aus der Harzreise_ (1824),
contains the delightful mountain-rhymes conceived in the course of
a walking tour which Heine took by way of refreshment after his law
studies in Göttingen. Here we have charming pictures of mountain
scenery and peasant life, and a tone of witty, bold self-laudation,
kept up with irresistible audacity. The beautiful and witty poem
about the knight of the Holy Spirit was doubtless suggested by the
catechising scene in _Faust_, but has an originality of its own which
has made it popular all the world over.

The _Buch der Lieder_ closes with the North Sea poems (_Die Nordsee_,
1825-1826), inspired by two visits to Norderney, and written in
forcible, irregular rhythm. In them we observe first and foremost a
particular understanding of nature which is a new gain for German

As far as nature was concerned, Goethe seemed to have exhausted
everything. His love for every living thing, his feeling of kinship
with animals and plants, his persuasion that the human being is one
with all other beings, his intuition of the unity that underlies
perpetual change of form--this gift of resolving all nature into
feeling was his earliest characteristic. It was soon superseded, or
rather supplemented, by his capacity for observing and reproducing
natural scenes without any ascription of his own feelings to them. He
studies nature, becomes an observer and investigator, and finally,
thanks to the steadily increasing profundity of his observation, in
combination with his genial intuition, an epoch-making discoverer in
two great domains of natural science. We see him pass through all the
phases of a great mind in its relation to nature--the emotional, the
religious-pantheistic, the poetic-scientific--and see him in the end
lay such exclusive stress upon material impressions that he thrusts all
that is psychical from him as merely disturbing. His views become more
and more positive and realistic. In his essay on granite he writes: "I
do not fear the reproach of its being a spirit of contradiction that
has led me from the observation and delineation of the human heart,
that youngest, most multiform, most mobile, most changeable part of
creation, that which it is easiest to unsettle and to shake, to the
observation of nature's oldest, firmest, deepest, most immovable son"[18]
--namely, granite.

[18] Goethe: _Werke_, xxxiii. 164.

In what domain was it still possible for a German poet to display
fresh, original understanding of nature? From the human heart to
granite Goethe had embraced them all.

There was one left. Goethe had never sung the sea. He saw it for the
first time when he was nearly forty, in Venice, from the Lido. "I
heard a loud noise," he writes; "it was the sea, and I soon saw it,
rolling high waves up the beach, as it drew back. It was midday and
ebb-tide. At last, then, I have seen the sea also with my own eyes."
A little further on we come upon the short sentence: "Yes, the sea is
a wonderful sight." In the Fifth Act of the Second Part of _Faust_,
where the sea and navigation are touched on, it is less the sea itself
that is in question than the rescuing of land from it and the making of
canals. This was all that Goethe had written about the sea.

In Heine's North Sea poems we hear, for the first time in German
poetry, the roar of the ocean, with all its freshness and in all its
might. Here for the first time we have shells in the sand beneath our
feet, and sea-gulls in the air above us. The sea is painted in storm
and calm, from the shore and from the ship, by day and by night, with
the peace that at times lies over it, and with the madness of the
hurricane; we have the sweet day-dreams to which it gives rise, and
also the sea-sickness; there arise from its depths and there hover
over its expanse a whole company of mythic figures, old and new, old
that have been metamorphosed into new, a world of gods and goddesses,
Tritons and Oceanides, at times pathetic, more frequently burlesque.
And yet there is comparatively little description; it is the poet's
own memories, griefs, and hopes that fill these poems. And it is his
intense longing to be able to breathe freely that breaks forth in
the famous cry with which the ten thousand Greeks, after their long
and terrible march, hailed the element that spoke to them of home:
"Thalatta! Thalatta!--I salute thee, O eternal sea!"

Amongst these poems are some of Heine's most beautiful and
unforgettable. First there is the humorously frivolous idyll _Die Nacht
am Strande_ ("Night by the Seashore"); the poet's visit to the pretty
fisherman's daughter, with the masterly description of her appearance,
as she sits bending over the fire:

   "Dass die flackernd rothen Lichter
    Zauberlieblich wiederstrahlen
    Auf das glühende Antlitz,
    Auf die zarte, weisse Schulter,
    Die rührend hervorlauscht
    Aus dem groben, grauen Hemde,
    Und auf die kleine, sorgsame Hand,
    Die das Unterröckchen fester bindet
    Um die feine Hüfte."[19]


   Till the flashing, ruddy flame-rays
   Shine again in magic lustre
   On her glowing countenance,
   On the soft and snow-white shoulder
   Which so touchingly peers out
   From its coarse grey linen covering,
   And on the busy little hand
   Which is fastening the garment
   That conceals her slender limbs.
             (Adapted from LELAND.)

Then we come on a poem which is unique in its lyric vigour, _Erklärung_
("Declaration"), to that Agnes whose name the poet would fain write on
the dark vault of heaven with the highest fir of Norway, dipped in the
crater of Etna. And there is also the little, reflective poem _Fragen_
("Questions"), admirable in its pregnant brevity, which gives us an
idea of the mood in which Heine conceived the foolhardy idea of writing
a "Faust," after Goethe, a plan which he actually did not hesitate to
mention to Goethe himself, when he visited him in Weimar. In some of
these North Sea poems, and that even when he is belittling and sneering
at himself, there is a repellent tone of self-satisfaction. Amongst
those which are quite free from it, must be mentioned that masterly
piece of pure humour, _Im Hafen_ ("In Harbour"), the immortal fantasy
of the Town Cellar of Bremen, in which Heine, whose sobriety was almost
equivalent to total abstinence, gives us a most irresistible picture of
a clever man's merry carouse.



It is impossible for a northerner of mature years and fairly sound
artistic training to study Heinrich Heine's poems without feeling his
taste offended by figures and expressions which in Heine's case early
became lifeless mannerisms. The Romance nations do not feel this.
One actually hears competent critics of Romance nationality compare
Heine's lyrics with Goethe's, and give the preference to Heine's as
more plastic and more spiritual. To Romance readers Goethe is, as a
rule, wanting in transparency; the French say of Heine: _On y voit
mieux_. They do not feel that in Goethe's case words always represent
things; whereas in Heine's case, expressions are often set pieces,
which are inserted to produce a certain poetical effect, but which
have no vision, no actuality behind them. Few poets have made such
abuse of lily-hands, rose-cheeks, and violet-eyes, these monstrous
colour-blotches, in describing female beauty, or of the various
attributes of spring--flowers that exhale fragrance, nightingales that
sing both day and night--in proclaiming the praises of the lovely month
of May. The nightingale in particular becomes under his treatment a
purely heraldic bird in the coat-of-arms of love.

In Goethe's case all the words are images, and this is the reason
why he requires to employ so little imagery. In Heine's the words
are constantly allegories, devoid of perspicuity and of that inward
connection which is the logic of poetry. Take as an instance: "Aus
meinen Thränen spriessen--vie' blühende Blumen hervor,"[1] where by
flowers poems are meant; or: "Sprüh'n einmal vert dächt'ge Funken--aus
den Rosen, sorge nie--diese Welt glaubt nicht an Flammen--und sie
nimmt's für Poesie,"[2] where we are presented with a skein of
images more entangled than those of the notorious old Scandinavian
transcriptions of the decadent period in Skaldic poetry--sparks struck
out of roses; sparks, which the everyday world will not accept as fire;
rose sparks, which are called poetry!


    Up from my tears are growing
    Fair flowers in many vales.


If suspicious sparks should issue
  From the roses--fearless be!
This dull world in flames believes not,
  But believes them poetry.

What one objects to most in these poems with their allegorical
rhetoric is the combination of sentimentality and materialism. Sighs
and tears are talked of as if sighs were very loud breaths and tears
very tangible substances. We have, for instance: "Und meine Seufzer
werden--ein Nachtigallenchor" (And from my sighs go flying, A choir of
nightingales), still further materialised by the addition of: "Und
vor deinem Fenster soll singen--das Lied der Nachtigall" (And the
nightingales at thy window, Shall sing all the summer hours). A still
more striking instance is to be found in the typical poem of the lonely

   "Was will die einsame Thräne?
      Sie trübt mir ja den Blick,
    Sie blieb aus alten Zeiten
      In meinem Auge zurück."[3]


    What means this lonely tear-drop
      Which dims mine eye to-day?
    It is the last now left me
      Where once so many lay.

We are initiated into this particular tear's family history and present
lonely situation; it had many bright sisters, who now are no more, so
that it is left solitary in its eyecorner. It is addressed much as one
would address any good old comrade, told to go its way, now that all
the others have gone:--

   "Du alte, einsame Thräne,
      Zerfliesse jetzunder auch!"[4]


   Thou tear-drop old and lonely,
     Do thou, too, pass away!

The sentimentality is so crude that no parody could be more comic than
this mournful apostrophe, which the arch-scoffer wrote in all good

Every defect in the artist as a man, comes out in his art. It is always
a want of simplicity, of genuine feeling, that produces the sentimental
or ostentatious or clap-trap expression. Heine's shortcomings in this
way are strongly felt when we compare certain outbursts of his with
Goethe's expression of similar feelings.

Take, for example, the poem in which Heine describes himself as the
ill-fated Atlas; condemned to bear the whole world of suffering:

   "Du stolzes Herz, du hast es ja gewollt,
    Du wolltest glücklich sein, unendlich glücklich,
    Oder unendlich elend, stolzes Herz!
    Und jetzo bist du elend."[5]


   Proud heart, 'twas thine own choice,
   Thou chosest to be happy, infinitely happy,
   Or infinitely miserable, proud heart!
   And now thou art miserable.

These are lines one does not forget. But the exclamation of the first
line, which expresses a perilous extreme of self-reliance, becomes
self-complacency when Heine's stanza is placed alongside of Goethe's
simple and grand

   "Alles geben die Götter, die Unendlichen,
    Ihren Lieblingen ganz:
    Alle Freuden, die unendlichen,
    Alle Schmerzen, die unendlichen,

[6] What the eternal Gods, give to their favourites, they give without
alloy-infinite joy, infinite sorrow--without alloy.

It would be most unreasonable to blame Heine because he employs other
and more violent methods than Goethe does--to say, for instance, of
a poem like _Ein Jüngling liebt ein Mädchen_ ("A young man loves a
maiden"), that Goethe would have shrunk from the grotesqueness of the
bitter, desperate ending: "Und wem sie just passieret, Dem bricht das
Herz entzwei" (And he to whom it happens, It breaks his heart in two).
It would have been abhorrent to him for much the same reason that it
would have been abhorrent to an old Greek. What is simply new, simply
_modern_ in the feeling, is justifiable. Even the grotesqueness is in
this case artistically led up to.

But at times the grotesque grimace is all that is left of the modern
element. Take that famous poem: _Mein Herz, mein Herz ist traurig_
("My heart, my heart is heavy"). It contains an admirable description
of a wide landscape, viewed from the height of the old bastion. We
see the blue town moat, with a boy fishing from a boat, and away on
the other side of the moat, small and clear, we see summer-houses and
gardens, men and oxen, meadows and woods, girls bleaching clothes, a
turning mill-wheel sending out diamond dust, and at the foot of the
old grey tower a sentry-box, with the sentry walking up and down, his
gun flashing in the sunlight. H. C. Andersen, writing of this poem,
remarks, "And the end is so _affecting_: 'Ich wollt', er schösse mich
todt'" (I wish he would shoot me dead). Affecting? No. Startling;
for nothing has prepared us for it. The ejaculation is possibly not
entirely insincere; but it is so nervous that it is practically
meaningless; it is in so far untruthful, that these big words only
express a momentary mood, not a serious, determined desire.

Goethe has expressed, if not longing for death, at least reconciliation
to the idea of death, in the famous, immortal lines:

   "Ueber allen Gipfeln
    Ist Ruh.
    In allen Wipfeln
    Spürest du
    Kaum einen Hauch.
    Die Vögelein schweigen im Walde.
    Warte nur, balde
    Ruhest du auch."[7]


   O'er all the hill tops
   Is quiet now,
   In all the tree tops
   Hearest thou
   Hardly a breath;
   The birds are asleep in the trees.
   Wait; soon like these
   Thou too shalt rest.

It is unnecessary to direct attention to the contrast between the two
poet-natures which is revealed by a comparison of this melody in words
with Heine's discord; but note, from the purely artistic point of view,
how marvellously in keeping all the different parts of the little poem
are. It is one breath from the first word to the last: The calm of
evening over the forest and in the human soul, the cessation of all
desire, the resolution of all discords, the heart, great and tender,
feeling itself one with all nature.

Alongside of this perfection, the defects of Heine's lyric
effect-style, in its occasional inartistic application, show up only
too glaringly. It is akin, in its weaknesses, to the allegorising,
fantastic style of the German Romanticists, from whom Heine, the poet,
is lineally descended. And yet he is as far from being a genuine
Romanticist as he is from being what some consider him, a genuine
modern realist.

He calls his _Atta Troll_ the last free forest ditty of Romance. Others
have, in unfriendly criticism, called his poetry the decomposition
process of Romance. "I wrote _Atta Troll_" he says, "for my own
amusement, in the whimsical dream-style that prevailed in that Romantic
school in which I passed the pleasantest years of my youth, and ended
up by thrashing the schoolmaster." But in this case the Romanticism is
really only the rich, glittering garment, in which the modern spirit
masques, and which it finally throws off. None of the elements of
Romance are wanting--animals talk, bears exchange ideas, we listen to
a pug-dog's confidences, and we are conducted into a legendary region,
the valley of Roncesvalles. Not even the blue flower is wanting:

   "Ronceval, du edles Thal,
    Wenn ich deinen Namen höre,
    Bebt und duftet mir im Herzen
    Die verscholl'ne blaue Blume."[8]


    Ronceval, thou noble valley!
    Whensoe 'er I hear thy name,
    That blue flower so long departed
    O'er my spirit sheds its fragrance.

The dream-world reveals itself to us; great spirit eyes look into ours.
The poet, with his guide, goes hunting in the Pyrenees. This guide has
an old mother, who is reputed to be a witch. We are introduced into the
witch's hovel, with the stuffed birds, the ghost-like vultures, and at
night bears and ghosts perform a burlesque and weird dance.

The spirit as well as the style of this poem is Romantic to a certain
point; there are declamations against the clumsy, didactic poetry of
the day, against utilitarianism as applied to poetry, and there is
literary satire (of Freiligrath, Karl Mayer, Gustav Pfizer) in the
style favoured by the Romanticists.

And yet there is sedulous realism in the representation of localities
and circumstances. Strictly speaking, the poem is simply an account of
a stay which Heine and a young French lady friend make at Cauterets
in the Pyrenees, where they see a bear dance in the market-place. The
bear escapes from his master, takes flight to the mountains, where he
is hunted down, shot, and flayed by Laskaro, the guide. The poet's
Juliette gets the skin to lay on the floor by her bed; and Heine gives
us the superfluous information that many a night he himself has stood
bare-footed on this same skin.

So the tale is realistic enough. The details of the journey too are
faithfully reproduced. We get the impression that Heine's description
of the little mountain town up to which he clambered, and where the
children danced in a circle to the accompaniment of their own singing,
exactly corresponds with what he saw and heard. Even the refrain of the
song: _Girofflino, Girofflette_, is doubtless the real one.

Nevertheless the finest, most powerful parts of this poem are not in
the least realistic. They are visions. And the finest vision is that
in which by night from the window of the cottage the poet watches the
whole Wild Hunt tear three times round the horizon. He never did finer
figure-painting than the passage in which we follow the shining figures
across the darkness of the night sky--Diana, the fairy Abunde, and
the beautiful Herodias, in wild wantonness playing at ball with the
Baptist's bloody head.

A parallel may be drawn between Heine's art and that of Rembrandt.
There is nothing academic about either of them; both bear the distinct
stamp of modernity. But when we call Heine a great realistic poet,
we make an assertion of the same qualified truth as when we call
Rembrandt the great colourist. Rembrandt cannot be said to be one of
the greatest colour-realists, for the reason that several painters
surpass him in the power of reproducing local colour and its exact
value, and of showing the actual form and colour of an object seen in
half darkness. It is not colour, but light, that is the main thing
with Rembrandt.[9] To him light is life; the battle of life is the
battle of light, and the tragedy of life is the tragedy of light,
struggling and dying in damp and darkness. To indicate in what his real
greatness as a painter lies, he ought rather to be called a luminist
(an expression of Fromentin's) than a colourist, if by luminist we
understand an artist whose specialty is the apprehension and treatment
of light. He sometimes sacrifices drawing, even painting, in his
eagerness to produce some effect of light. Think, for example, of the
badly painted corpse in the _Lesson in Anatomy_. But it is exactly
what makes him less successful than the realists in tasks requiring
absolute truthfulness--the painting of hands, the exact reproduction of
stuffs--that makes him so great when he causes light to express what it
alone indicates to him, the inner life, the world of waking visions.

[9] _Cf_. Fromentin: _Les maîtres d'autrefois_.

Something similar to this is the case with Heine. How few real figures
this great poet has bequeathed to us! Those who would measure his
deserts by what he has done in this way find themselves obliged to fall
back upon that crude, grotesque sketch of an old Jew servant, Hyacinth,
as his best character.

No, if Heine is to be judged by his pictures of real life, many an
inferior poet surpasses him.

But think of his visions, of the world of waking dreams in his poems
and in his prose! As a rule he starts closer to earth than other
poets, but presently, above the darkness of earth a gleaming vision
appears--and disappears.

This is felt even in such small poems as the one already referred to
as containing the talk in the fisherman's cottage about the Ganges and

Think too of the way in which Heine calls up the image of Napoleon
before his readers. In the _Two Grenadiers_ it has the effect of a
vision. The words, "Dann reitet mein Kaiser wohl über mein Grab" ('Tis
my Emperor riding, right over my grave), are like a revelation in the
darkness of night, illuminated by the glitter of swords. In the equally
admirable description in the _Reisebilder_, the vision is conjured up
in the form of a recollection of childhood.

Or remember how Heine brings the image of Jesus before us. In the poem
_Frieden_ ("Peace") he sees him, robed in glittering white, striding
over the waves. In _Deutschland, ein Wintermärchen_ ("Germany, a
Winter's Tale"), he paints a grey, winter morning on the Paderborn
heath; when the mist rises, he sees by the side of the road, in
the dawning light, a wooden crucifix with the image of the great
enthusiast, who desired to save mankind, and now hangs there "as a
warning to others."

   "Sie haben dir übel mitgespielt,
    Die Herren vom hohen Rathe."[10]


   A sorry trick they played thee indeed,
   The lords of the council stately.

The heart-felt sadness, the bitter humour, that find expression in
familiar, disparaging comment, heighten the impression of human
grandeur, of solemn horror, much as this same impression is intensified
when Hamlet, hearing his father's ghost under ground, calls: "Well
said, old mole! Canst work i' the earth so fast?" In the flash of
Heine's wit the reader sees Jesus, not now as the Prince of Peace, but
as the man who scourged the desecrators of the Temple and sent fire
upon earth.

_The Winter 's Tale_ is, taken as a whole, a characteristic example
of Heine's artistic procedure. All the twenty-seven divisions of the
long poem are constructed on the same plan. They begin close to earth,
materially, with reminiscences of travel, vulgar realistic impressions;
then the writer, without warning, by unnoticeable transitions, rises
to the height of passion, to powerful pathos, wild contempt, glowing
admiration, destructive or constructive enthusiasm, divine madness
that, as it were, rolls thunderbolt on thunderbolt; and then all sinks
back once more into the grey dulness of everyday events and situations.

Heine arrives at Cologne, sups on an omelet and ham, drinks a bottle
of Rhenish wine, and then saunters out into the streets. He calls the
town's past days to mind: here the priests had free play, here men and
books were burned at the stake; here stupidity and malice wantoned like
dogs on the open street. Suddenly in the moonlight the Cathedral, the
great spiritual Bastille, appears to his sight and arouses his wrath.
As he saunters along, he catches sight of a figure behind him which
it seems to him he ought to know. And now we glide into a perfectly
new world, the world of vision. The figure follows him as if it were
his shadow, stopping when he stops. He has often noticed it beside
him before, when he sat late at night at his desk. Under its cloak
it holds, and always has held, something that glitters strangely and
that resembles an axe, an executioner's axe. This figure is the poet's
lictor, who follows his master, instead of preceding him as the Roman
lictor did.

In the succeeding divisions Barbarossa reveals himself in the same
visionary style, coming and going twice.

Heine is an epoch-maker, not only in German lyric poetry, but in poetry
in general. He introduced a new style, the combination of sentiment
and humour in lyric poetry, and a new idea, the introduction of prose
into poetry, either by way of foil or by way of parody. His position
as epoch-maker is due to his historic position, to his having lived
at the period when Romantic perversion of reality was giving way to
pessimistic realism; this explains the fusion of the two elements which
we find in his writings.

Hence, too, it comes that the most characteristic domain in the
province of his art is the domain of chiaroscuro, a chiaroscuro akin to

To make the central objects stand out from the shadow or half-darkness
in which they are concealed; to make light, natural light, produce a
ghostly, supernatural effect by conjuring it forth from a sea of dark
shadow-waves, bringing it flickering or flaring out of half-darkness;
to make darkness penetrable, half-darkness transparent--this is
Rembrandt's art.

Heine's, which is closely related, consists in gradually,
imperceptibly, conjuring forth out of the world of reality, and back
into it again, a perfectly modern, fantastic dreamworld.

At times the vision is in a full blaze of light, and the reality hidden
in black darkness; but presently the vision fades, and the reality
gradually emerges into the light.



It has already been mentioned that Heine, when a student in Bonn,
conceived an enthusiastic admiration for the founder of the Romantic
school. A. W. Schlegel's personality was as attractive to him as his
teaching. In Schlegel, Heine admired the man who had guided German
poetry from artificiality to truth. He was dazzled, too, by the
fashionable professor's aristocratic bearing, his knowledge of the
world, his acquaintance with the good society and famous people of the

He was also touched by the kindly interest which Schlegel showed in
himself and his first literary efforts. It was to Schlegel that he was
indebted for his early initiation into the secrets of metrical art, and
for something more valuable still, confidence in his own powers and his

In Heine's first prose article, that on Romanticism, written in 1820,
he expresses his gratitude and makes his Romantic confession of faith
in the same breath. He protests against the idea of Romanticism being
"a mixture of Spanish enamel, Scotch mists, and Italian jingle"; no,
Romantic poetry ought not to be obscure and vague; its images may
be as plastic in contour as those of classic poetry. "Hence it is,"
he writes, "that our two greatest Romanticists, Goethe and A. W.
Schlegel, are at the same time our greatest plastic artists." And he
names Goethe's _Faust_ and Schlegel's _Rome_ in the same breath, as
models of plastic outline, concluding pathetically: "O, that those
who love to call themselves Schlegelians would lay this to heart!"
This passage should be noted by those whose only knowledge of Heine's
connection with Schlegel is derived from the low attack on the latter's
private life in _Die Romantische Schule_. It was to A. W. Schlegel,
moreover, that Heine addressed his three first sonnets. In the earliest
he thanks him for his personal kindness, and declares his own great
indebtedness to him; in the second he extols him for the service which
he has rendered to German poetry by banishing that caricature in hoop
and patches which in his day figured as the Muse; in the third he
praises him for his introduction of English, Spanish, early German,
Italian, and Indian poetry into modern German literature. The tone is

   "Der schlimmste Wurm: des Zweifels Dolchgedanken,
    Das schlimmste Gift: an eigner Kraft verzagen,
    Das wollt' mir fast des Lebens Mark zernagen;
    Ich war ein Reis, dem seine Stützen sanken.

    Da mochtest du das arme Reis beklagen,
    An deinem güt'gen Wort lässt du es ranken,
    Und dir, mein hoher Meister, soll ich's danken,
    Wird einst das schwache Reislein Blüthen tragen," &c.[1]

[1] The most dangerous worm--doubt, with its dagger tooth; the most
deadly poison--distrust of one's own powers, were eating away my life;
I was a sapling bereft of its supports.

Thou hadst pity on the poor sapling, thou gavest it the support of
encouraging word; if ever the weak sapling blossoms, thine, great
master, be the praise.

It is under this first Romantic influence that Heine writes his
earliest, purely Romantic poems in archaistic style, verses like:

   "Die du bist so schön und rein,
    Wunnevolles Magedein,
    Deinem Dienste ganz allein
    Möcht' ich wohl mein Leben weihn.

    Deine süssen Aeugelein
    Glänzen mild wie Mondenschein,
    Helle Rosenlichter streun
    Deine rothen Wängelein."

This reminds us forcibly of Tieck's earliest verses, those introduced
into his tales. In the one little poem from which these stanzas are
taken, we come upon Wunne, Magedein, Aeugelein, Wängelein, Mündchen,
weiland, a whole string of diminutives and archaisms.

Heine's next model was a genial, true poet, who died in 1827, at
the early age of thirty-one--Wilhelm Müller, the author of the
_Müllerlieder_, particularly well known from Schubert's musical
setting, and of the _Griechenlieder_, which were equally admired in
their day. A son of Wilhelm Müller's is the well-known German-English
philologist, Max Müller, whose novel, _Deutsche Liebe_, the story
of the tender love of a young German savant for a sickly, bedridden
princess, is said to be based on events in his father's life.

On the 7th of June 1826, Heine writes to Müller: "I am magnanimous
enough to confess frankly that the resemblance of my little Intermezzo
metre [the one most frequently employed by Heine] to your usual
metre is not purely accidental; the secret of its cadence was in all
probability learned from your verses." He goes on to explain that he
had early felt the influence of the German popular ballad and song,
and that at Bonn, Schlegel had initiated him into the art of verses;
"but," he adds, "it is in your verse that I seem for the first time
to have found the clear ring, the true simplicity, which I have always
aimed at. How clear, how simple your poems are, and they are one and
all popular poems. In mine only the form is popular; the ideas are
those of conventional society."

It was from Müller that Heine first learned how to evolve new popular
forms out of the old. To behold as it were with our own eyes the birth
and growth of Heine's style, we only need to set certain of his verses
alongside of Müller's.

Müller writes:

   "Wir sassen so traulich beisammen
    Im kühlen Erlendach,
    Wir schauten so traulich zusammen
    Hinab in den rieselnden Bach."

And Heine:

   "Wir sassen am Fischerhause
    Und schauten nach der See,
    Die Abendnebel kamen
    Und stiegen in die Höh'."

How closely this last stanza resembles such a stanza of Müller's as:

   "Die Abendnebel sinken
    Hernieder kalt und schwer,
    Und Todesengel schweben
    In ihren Dampf umher."[2]

[2] Wilhelm Müller: _Gedichte_, i. p. 26; "Thränenregen," p. 194;
"Dasselbe noch einmal."

These are the introductory lines of a long, beautiful poem called
_Hirtenbiwouak in der römischen Campagna_, the most important part of
which is the shepherd's song of longing for his sweetheart. How much
Heine must have learned from such a verse as that which describes the
young girl:

   "Darunter sitzt ein Mädchen,
    Die Spindel in der Hand,
    Und spinnt und sinnt und schauet
    Herab in's eb'ne Land."

We do not find Wilhelm Müller marring the impression of his idyll by
any sudden revulsion of mood; there is nothing of the devil in him; the
gentle andante is maintained to the end of the piece. But it is not in
this that the principal difference between his style and Heine's lies;
for Heine at times retains his tranquil mood throughout a whole poem.
The essential difference is the extraordinary condensation of Heine's
style, as compared with Müller's. He gives in one verse, at most two,
what the other requires ten to express.

The novelty in his lyric style is its unparalleled condensation. The
poems are all epitomes. They present us with a spiced, fragrant essence
of passion, experience, bitterness, mockery, wit, emotion, and fancy;
an essence of poetry and prose in combination. Psychologists talk of a
condensation of thought;[3] in comparison with the pupil's thought,
the master's is condensed. In the history of all mechanism, increasing
condensation is to be observed. Once there were only church clocks; now
people carry clocks in their pockets. That is to say, the mechanism
which once required for its wheels and springs the space provided by a
church clock, now finds room enough in a watch. In like manner, many an
old tragedy does not contain more thoughts or more feeling than a Heine
poem of two or three verses.

[3] Lazarus: _Das Leben der Seele_, 2nd edition, p. 229.

Heine's short stanza has, then, two advantages over Wilhelm
Müllers--more passion, and much greater condensation of style.

In his favourite short iambic metre, Heine is influenced by Wilhelm
Müller, in his trochees he resembles another Romantic, far more
Romantic poet, Clemens Brentano. In Heine's _Romancero_ there are some
curious correspondences with Brentano's _Romanzen vom Rosenkranze_
("Romances of the Rosary"). These latter were written before
_Romancero_, but as they were not published till 1853, Heine cannot
possibly have been influenced by them.

In the second of the _Rosary Romances_ we read of the hero, Cosmo,

   "Aus dem Wasserspiegel mahnt
    Ihn des Alters ernste Bote:
    Du wirst bald die Schuld bezahlen,
    Spricht des Hauptes Silberlocke."[4]

[4] The solemn messengers of age, the white locks of the man who gazes
at him from the water-mirror, cry: Soon thou must pay thy debt.

In Heine's posthumous poem _Bimini_, one  of the divisions begins:

   "Einsam auf dem Strand von Cuba,
    Vor dem stillen Wasserspiegel,
    Steht ein Mensch und er betrachtet
    In der Flut sein Konterfei.

    Eben nicht mit sonderlichem
    Wohlgefallen scheint der Greis
    In dem Wasser zu betrachten
    Sein bekümmert Spiegelbildniss."[5]


    On the shore of Cuba's island
    Stands an old man solitary,
    Gazing at his own reflection
    In the tranquil water-mirror.

    Not with any special pleasure
    Does the sad and aged man
    See beneath him in the water
    His own image, sorrowful.

Metre, situation, idea are identical in the two passages.

There is also a certain resemblance between the tale of a mystery-book
in the Ninth Romance of the Rosary and the story of the beautiful
casket in Heine's poem of _Jehuda ben Halevy_.[6] Only that Brentano's
story of the passing of the mystery-book from hand to hand, through
many ages, merely opens up to us a Romantic wonder-world, whereas
Heine's tale of the wanderings of the casket is at the same time a jest
at the vicissitudes of life: the pearls first belong to Smerdis, who
gives them to Atossa, then to the great Alexander, who gives them to
Thais, then in course of time to Cleopatra, to a Moorish sultan, to
the regalia of Castille, and to the Baroness Solomon Rothschild, in a
compliment to whom the life-history of the casket terminates.

[6] _Cf_. Eduard Grisebach; _Die deutsche Litteratur_, p. 254, &c.;
where, however, a definite influence is insisted on, regardless of
Heine's priority.

It is quite certain that Heine is indebted to Clemens Brentano for the
subject of what in Germany is the best known and most sung of all his
songs, the song of _Lorelei_, "Ich weiss nicht was soll es bedeuten."

As far back as 1802 Brentano had published, in his _Godwi,_ a ballad
entitled "Lorelei." It is not the story of a siren, but of a young girl
of Bacharach on the Rhine, who was so beautiful that all men fell in
love with her. She was accused of witchcraft. But the bishop, who ought
to have condemned her to be burned, fell in love with her himself. She
desires to die, for the one man she loves will have nothing to say
to her and has gone away; so, on her way to the convent to which the
bishop is sending her, she climbs a high cliff, Lurelei (Ley means
slate-rock), and in despairing longing for her beloved, throws herself
into the Rhine.

This ballad suggested to a writer called Nikolaus Vogt the fabrication
of a Rhine legend, which he published in 1811, passing it off as an
old one. In it Lorelei, on her way to the convent, sees the man of her
heart sail past her on the Rhine, and throws herself from the cliff in
grief at having failed to win him. Three of her adorers follow her to a
watery grave. Hence a rock in that neighbourhood is known by the name
of the Dreiritterstein (Rock of the Three Knights). The last incident
was perhaps suggested by the ending of Brentano's poem:

   "Wer hat dies' Lied gesungen?
    Ein Schiffer auf dem Rhein.
    Und immer hat geklungen
    Vom hohen Felsenstein:
       Lore Lay!
       Lore Lay!
       Lore Lay!
    Als wären es unser Drei."[7]

[7] Who was it sang this song? A boatman on the Rhine. And still we
heard the cry, from the high cliff overhead: "Lore Lay! Lore Lay! Lore
Lay!" Me-seemed that we were three.

From this fabricated legend a certain Count Loeben, in 1821, took the
theme for a poem, _Lorelei_,[8] in which the young girl who drowns
herself is transformed into a mermaid, whose singing lures into the
depths those who are sailing past:

   "Da wo der Mondschein blitzet
    Um's hohe Felsgestein,
    Das Zauberfräulein sitzet
    Und schauet auf den Rhein.

    Es schauet herüber, hinüber,
    Es schauet hinab, hinauf,
    Die Schifflein ziehen vorüber,
    Lieb' Knabe, sieh nicht auf!

    Sie singt dir hold am Ohre,
    Sie blickt dich thöricht an,
    Sie ist die schöne Lore,
    Sie hat dir's angethan," &c.[9]

[8] A. Strodtmann: H. Heine's _Leben und Werke_, 2nd edition, i. 696.

[9] Where the moonlight glitters on the lofty cliff, there the
magic-maiden sits, and gazes on the Rhine. She looks across the stream,
looks up the stream and down; softly the boats glide past-look not
on her, O youth! She sings so sweetly in your ear, she looks at you
bewitchingly; she is the lovely Lore, and in her spells you're caught.

Now take Heine's world-famed poem, first a students' song, then a
popular song, melting and thrilling with the tender harmony of melody
and words. The direct imitation is unmistakable. The theme is the
same, the metre is the same, even some of the rhymes are the same:
"blitzet--sitzet;" instead of "an--gethan, Kahn--gethan." But what a
difference! Feeling has been added. First the personal starting-point,
the inexplicable melancholy of the narrator and his inability to banish
the old legend from his thoughts, then the instantaneous, clear,
definite picture of the landscape:

   "Die Luft ist kühl, und es dunkelt,
      Und ruhig fliesst der Rhein,
    Der Gipfel des Berges funkelt
      Im Abendsonnenschein.

    Die schönste Jungfrau sitzet
      Dort oben wunderbar,
    Ihr gold'nes Geschmeide blitzet,
      Sie kämmt ihr goldenes Haar."[10]


    The cool air darkens, and listen,
    How softly flows the Rhine!
    The mountain peaks still glisten
    Where the evening sunbeams shine.

   The fairest maid sits dreaming
   In radiant beauty there.
   Her gold and her jewels are gleaming,
   She combeth her golden hair.
                         (E. LAZARUS.)

And something more has been added--that element of dæmonic passion
which the earlier manipulators of the theme were unable to communicate
to it. Heine here represents an elemental luring power, akin to that
delineated with simpler means and more powerful effect by Goethe in
_Der Fischer_. But Goethe, in conformity with his nature, describes a
tranquil, enchanting ensnarement; Heine, in conformity with his, an
instantaneous, irresistible, maddening bewitchment.

A still more profound insight into Heine's art, in the making, and into
the manner in which his fancy deals with a theme, is perhaps to be
gained by observing how he makes use of a subject which offers itself
to him in prose.

In Henri Beyle's book, _De l'amour_, he evidently found the three
following anecdotes, translated from the Arabic. 1. Sahid ben Agba one
day asked an Arab: "Of what tribe art thou?" "Of that tribe," answered
the Arabian, "in which men die when they love." "Then thou art of the
tribe of Asra?" "Yea, verily, by the Lord of Kaaba!" "Whence comes
it that ye love thus?" "Our women are beautiful, and our young men
chaste." 2. A man once asked Arua ben Hezam of the tribe of Asra: "Is
it true that ye love with a tenderness surpassing that of all other
men?" "It is true," answered Arua. "Thirty young men of my tribe have
I seen carried off by death, whose only sickness was that of love." 3.
An Arab of the tribe Beni-Fazarat said one day to an Arab of the tribe
Beni-Asra: "Ye think that to die of love is a sweet and noble death;
whereas it is nought but weakness and foolishness." "Thou would'st
not speak so," answered the other, "had'st thou seen the great dark,
long-lashed eyes of our veiled women, seen their teeth gleam between
their brown lips when they smile."

Here we have the origin of Heine's famous _Der Asra_: "Täglich ging die
wunderschöne." He first paints the place for us--the garden with the
fountain whose white waters flash; then he shows us the slave, standing
there every day when the sultan's daughter comes to walk, paler every
day; then he tells how the princess one evening closely questions the
slave: "I would know thy name, thy race, thy family...":

   "Und der Sklave sprach: 'ich heisse
    Mohamet, ich bin aus Yemen
    Und mein Stamm sind jene Asra,
    Welche sterben, wenn sie lieben.'"[11]


    Spake the youthful slave, "My name is
    Mahomet, I come from Yemen;
    And by birth I am an Asra,
    One who dieth when he loves."
                          (E. LAZARUS.)

Heine, as we see, has disdained all explanations. We enjoy the
marvellous conciseness of these monumental words, this power as it were
of hewing out the speech in stone. But what, on closer investigation,
is the spiritual substance of the poem? Not much more than a laconic
combination of the words love and death. It is the same combination
that is to be found in all Heine's youthful poems, in the shape of love
and suffering, love and poison, love and suicide--in Alfred de Musset,
too, there is the same stereotyped coupling of _l'amour_ and _la mort_.

Here, as in general with Heine, the expression is epigrammatic,
therefore quite simple.

We have now sufficient material before us to give us a certain insight
into the formation of Heine's poetic style. It will be interesting to
study it finished and fully developed.

We may start from the last-mentioned poem with its epigrammatic point.
It is characteristic of Heine that neither here nor elsewhere does he
deeply concern himself with the true inwardness of a feeling; he only,
as a rule, points and sharpens the expression of it. This is the case
even with the feeling of love, which he has treated more frequently
than any other. And it is characteristic of his want of the power to
put himself in another's place, that it has only been possible for him
to give expression to masculine love; he has never put a passionate
utterance of feeling into the mouth of a woman.

Nothing would have been more impossible for Heine than to write such a
poem as Goethe's famous:

   "Freudvoll und leidvoll,
    Gedankenvoll sein,
    Langen und bangen
    In schwebender Pein,
    Himmelhoch jauchzend,
    Zum Tode betrübt,
    Glücklich allein
    Ist die Seele die liebt."[12]


    And sadness
    And pensiveness blending;
    And burning
    In torment ne'er ending;
    Sad unto death,
    Proudly soaring above,
    Happy alone
    Is the soul that doth love.

For this is the living delineation of a woman's heart, this is the very
inner life of love, its pulsation, its oscillation between bliss and
woe. The epigrammatic quality of Heine's style alone would make such
an unfolding of the emotional life impossible. And there is the same
concentration when he narrates an event. It is a condensation without
parallel in poetry; he produces his effect by making the briefest
possible statement or suggestion. As an example of this take the lines:

   "Es war ein alter König,
      Sein Herz war schwer, sein Haupt war grau;
    Der arme, alte König
      Er nahm eine junge Frau.

    Es war ein schöner Page,
      Blond war sein Haupt, leicht war sein Sinn,
    Er trug die seid'ne Schleppe
      Der jungen Königin."[13]


    There was an aged monarch,
      His heart was sad, his head was grey;
    This foolish, fond old monarch
      A young wife took one day.

    There was a handsome page, too,
      Fair was his hair and light his mien;
    The silken train he carried
      Of the beautiful young queen.

Observe the telling effect of the inversion: "Blond war sein Haupt;" it
is as if the verse began to rejoice and dance. Then comes the end:

   "Kennst du das alte Liedchen?
      Es klingt so süss, es klingt so trüb;
    Sie mussten beide sterben,
      Sie hatten sich viel zu lieb."[14]


    Dost know the ancient ballad?
      It sounds so sweet, it sounds so sad:
    Both of them had to perish
      Too much love to each other they had.

This is admirable. But we are not told the story; we only suspect it as
we suspect the story of the slave and the sultan's daughter. And here
again love is coupled with death.

A certain emptiness in Heine's conception of love strikes us here
again. This love has no real substance, no spiritual significance. It
was not till shortly before he lay down upon his death-bed that Heine
began to describe a love that has real inward substance. The love of
the _Buch der Lieder_ is for the most part wrath excited by coldness or
faithlessness, an unfruitful thing, that awakens no sympathy. The later
of the love-poems are frequently sensual or frivolous, and the more
exaggerated the expression, the less are we affected by the value of
the feeling:

   "Mein Herz ist wie die Sonne,
      So flammend anzuseh'n.
    Und in ein Meer von Liebe
      Versinkt es gross und schön."[15]


    My heart is like the sun, dear,
      Yon kindled flame above;
    And sinks in large-orbed beauty
      Within a sea of love.
                      (E. LAZARUS.)

There is too much self-observation and too much boastfulness in this
youthful rodomontade. And it is the same with:

   "Ich hab' dich geliebet und liebe dich noch,
      Und fiele die Welt zusammen,
    Aus ihren Trummern stiegen doch
      Hervor meiner Liebe Flammen."[16]


   I have loved thee long, and I love thee now,
     And, though the world should perish,
   O'er its dying embers still would glow
     The flames of the love I cherish.

Admitting that this is probably so expressed for the sake of artistic
effect, we must also admit that the style is a good, perfectly modern
style. We can see it all with the mind's eye. The heart sinks like the
sun into a sea. From the ruins of the world rise the flames of love.
And still more powerful and much more picturesque is the scene in which
the name of Agnes is written on the vault of heaven. What is wanting is
substance in the feeling. Think, for the sake of comparison, of those
profoundly human lines of Goethe's:

   "Kanntest jeden Zug in meinem Wesen,
      Spähtest, wo die reinste Nerve klingt,
    Konntest mich mit einem Blicke lesen,
      Den so schwer ein sterblich Aug' durchdringt."[17]

[17] Thou knewest every impulse of my nature, thine eye detected where
the nerve thrilled keenest, thou couldst read me at a glance, me, so
impenetrable to mortal eye.

--or of the following, which complete the impression:

   "Tropftest Mässigung dem heissen Blute,
      Richtetest den wilden, wirren Lauf,
    Und in deinen Engelsarmen ruhte
      Die zerstörte Brust sich wieder auf."[18]

[18] The hot blood by thee was tempered, the wild, aimless course by
thee directed; and in thine angel arms the torn breast found rest and

This is the expression of the healthiest, fullest, mutual sympathy,
of love's gratitude, of perfect understanding. For such feeling Heine
did not find expression until, with the shadow of death upon him, he
loved _la Mouche_, the guardian angel of his death-bed. Until then it
is never the healthy, tranquillising, happy element in love that he
concerns himself with. It is in another domain that he is master. The
modern poet, he reproduces passionate desire with a Correggio-like
blending of colours and tones that is more effective than Goethe's
antique limpidity. With Goethe desire is Greek or Italian. Think, for
instance, of the poem of the orange:

   "Ich trete zu dem Baume
    Und sage: Pomeranze!
    Du reife Pomeranze;
    Du süsse Pomeranze!
    Ich schüttle, fühl', ich schüttle,
    O fall in meinen Schoos!"[19]


    I take my stand beneath the tree,
        And cry: O orange!
        O orange ripe!
        O orange sweet!
    Feel, feel how I shake thy tree!
    O fall into my lap

Then compare the feeling, the glow, the fragrance, the exuberance of
such a poem of desire as Heine's wonderful: _Die Lotosblume ängstigt
sich vor der Sonne Pracht_ ("The lotus-flower is fearful of the sun's
resplendent beam").

It is very characteristic of the two poets that (as has already been
noted), whenever the representation of love-longing glides into a
delineation of foreign lands, Goethe prefers to paint Italy, Heine
Hindostan. In Mignon's song of longing, without a superlative or a
diminutive, with a power like that of a God, Goethe summons before our
eyes the picture of the classic land where the citrons bloom. There is
a power in it all, a force in each distinguishing trait, that Heine
does not attain to. But compare this with the bewitching sweetness of
Heine's _Auf Flügeln des Gesanges_ ("Oh, I would bear thee, my love, my
bride, afar on the wings of song"), the dreamy longing, the charm and
the mystery of the perspective that opens out to us:

   "Es hüpfen herbei und lauschen
      Die frommen, klugen Gazelln,
    Und in der Ferne rauschen
      Des heiligen Stromes Welln."[20]


    Gazelles come bounding from the brake,
      And pause, and look shyly round;
    And the waves of the sacred river make
      A far-off slumb'rous sound.
                    (Sir THEODORE MARTIN)

This is an immortal stanza. Goethe, even when he gives the reins to
longing, is always, like his own goldsmith of Ephesus, the great, wise
heathen, who makes images of the gods; in Heine's visionary brain there
was that particle of divine frenzy without which it had been impossible
for the Düsseldorf merchant's son to understand and reproduce the
fatalistic, self-effacing dreaminess of ancient India.

Heine's peculiarities of style stand out even more sharply against the
background of Goethe's, when we compare the way in which the two give
expression to what is not exactly desire, but the pure longing of love.

Think of the following lines, which Goethe puts into Mignon's mouth:

   "Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt, weiss was ich leide,
    Allein und abgetrennt von aller Freude,
    Seh' ich an's Firmament nach jener Seite.
    Ach, der mich liebt und kennt, ist in der Weite.--
    Es schwindelt mir, es brennt mein Eingeweide.
    Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt, weiss was ich leide."[21]


    My grief no mortals know, except the yearning!
    Alone, a prey to woe, all pleasure spurning,
    Up towards the sky I throw a gaze discerning.
    He who my love doth know seems ne'er returning;
    With strange and fiery glow _my heart is burning_[*]
    My grief no mortals know, except the yearning.

[*]In the original, _my bowels are burning_.

This is the master in the fulness of his power. Much art has been
expended in the representation of the wearing monotony of longing--the
five doubly rhyming lines, the languishing metre--interrupted by
the audacious, realistic expression: "Es schwindelt mir, es brennt
mein Eingeweide." Now compare with this, one of Heine's most perfect
expressions of pure love-longing, and we shall see what the plastic
fancy and the perfected laconicism of style which we traced in course
of development have succeeded in producing for time and eternity:

   "Ein Fichtenbaum steht einsam
      Im Norden auf kahler Höh'.
    Ihn schläfert: mit weisser Decke
      Umhüllen ihn Eis und Schnee.

    Er träumt von einer Palme,
      Die fern im Morgenland
    Einsam und schweigend trauert
      Auf brennender Felsenwand."[22]


    A pine-tree stands alone on
      A bare bleak northern height;
    The ice and snow they swathe it
      As it sleeps there, all in white.

    'Tis dreaming of a palm-tree,
      In a far-off Eastern land,
    That mourns, alone and silent,
      On a ledge of burning sand.
             (Sir THEODORE MARTIN.)

This is hardly rhymed. The only real rhyme is the very commonplace
_Land_ and _Wand_. The pine dreams in the snow, the palm grieves
dumbly in the burning heat--that is all. It is not seen, it is fancied
or invented, hence it cannot be painted (though I did once see a
painting of it in a German exhibition, an idiotically absurd, double
picture); but it is, nevertheless, an unforgettable, an immortal poem.
And the reason is that the symbol is so marvellously effective in its
simplicity--these two clear outlines instinct with feeling, which
express the impossibility of overcoming the obstacle which prevents
the union of two who really belong to each other.

If Goethe's strength lies in the expression of healthy feelings,
comparatively simple and uncomplicated, Heine's lies in the expression
of complex modern feeling, of feelings whose unsound state is the
result of painful experiences. Goethe could never have written the
following lines, with their jarring contrasts and enigmatical meaning:

   "Wenn ich in deine Augen seh'
    So schwindet all mein Leid und Weh:
      .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    Doch wenn du sprichst: ich liebe dich!
    So muss ich weinen bitterlich."[23]


    Whene'er I look into thine eyes,
    Then every fear that haunts me flies:
      .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    But when thou sayest: "I love thee;"
    Then must I weep, and bitterly.
                 (Sir THEODORE MARTIN)

Why must he weep? I have heard the naïve answer: Because she is lying.
Alas! it is not such a simple matter as that. He has heard these words
from other lips, lips which have now ceased to utter words of love; he
knows how long such a passion as a rule lasts, and the sound of her
voice startles him out of his forgetfulness--he doubts the durability
of her feeling or the durability of his own. It is very interesting to
note the way in which Heine had wrestled with these words. Originally
the last line was: "Dann wein' ich still und bitterlich." Then the
word "bitterlich" was altered to "freudiglich," which changed the
original tenor of the poem, and finally the line received its present

[24] H. Hüffer: _Aus dem Leben Heinrich Heines,_ p. 153.

Heine was not happy enough and not great enough to attain
to reconciliation with existence. It was not possible, apart from all
else, that the man who was so long an exile, so long sick to death,
should look upon life with the same eyes as the man who was thoroughly
sound and healthy, in affluent circumstances, honoured by the great
majority, the friend of his sovereign. Hence the expressions of revolt,
of bitterness, and of cynicism so frequently to be found in Heine are
exceedingly rare in Goethe. Goethe, as a rule, puts them into the
mouth of his Mephistopheles. Heine, who was destitute of the dramatic
faculty, is himself responsible for every outburst, because he always
speaks in his own name. Goethe's bitterest utterances, moreover, are
not contained in his works. It is only in the Paralipomena to _Faust_,
for instance, that we find this passage:

   "Nach kurzem Lärm legt Fama sich zur Ruh,
      Vergessen wird der Held so wie der Lotterbube,
    Der grösste König schliesst die Augen zu,
      Und jeder Hund bepisst gleich seine Grube."[25]


    Fame's short-liv'd turmoil o'er, she sleeps,
      Hero and waif, oblivion's their doom;
    The greatest king, life o'er, his eyes doth close,
      And straightway every dog defiles his tomb.

Heine dwells upon the ideas which Goethe only calls up to banish
again. Goethe, too, can be blasphemous. He wrote that poem which is so
frequently quoted, so seldom understood: _Wer nie sein Brod mit Thränen
ass_ ("He that with tears did never eat his bread"). It is a bitter,
passionate appeal against the ordering of the world. But its bitterness
is a bitterness that is choked with tears, not the wild and desperate
bitterness of Heine's splendid _Fragen_ ("Questions") or the poem _Lass
die heiligen Parabeln_ ("Holy parable discarding"), in which occur the

   "Warum schleppt sich blutend, elend,
      Unter Kreuzlast der Gerechte,
    Während glücklich als ein Sieger
      Trabt auf hohem Ross der Schlechte?

    Also fragen wir beständig,
      Bis man uns mit einer Handvoll
    Erde endlich stopft die Mäuler,
      Aber ist das eine Antwort?"[26]


    Wherefore bends the Just One, bleeding
      'Neath the cross's weight laborious,
    While upon his steed the Wicked
      Rides all-proudly and victorious?

    Thus are we for ever asking,
      Till at length our mouths securely
    With a clod of earth are fastened--
      That is not an answer, surely?

The expression is here, as usual with Heine, on a lower plane, more
terrestrial, more boldly outspoken, yet by no means unworthy of the

Outbursts of satiety and weariness of life are not infrequent with
him. We do not need to search long among his poems to find expressions
of the mood of having done for good and all with principle, with
endeavour. Nothing of this kind is to be found in Goethe. His _Vanitas
vanitatum_, the song _Ich hab' meine Sache auf Nichts gestellt_ ("My
trust in nothing now is placed") has, very significantly, become a
convivial drinking song. In other words, there is no real, bitter
earnest about Goethe's desperation; therefore it soon changes into
jovial recklessness. Goethe has not Heine's overpowering feeling of the
misery of life, and in so far he is really less Christian.

If it is instructive to compare the two poets' lyric expression of
fatalistic indifference, it is equally so to compare their expression
of the feeling of aspiration, of manly resolve. In this case we may
take the song _Feiger Gedanken_ ("Cowardly Thoughts") from _Claudine
von Villa Bella_, as characteristic of Goethe; it might serve as a
motto for his conduct throughout life. One can hardly imagine a more
vigorous expression of manly determination than that of the lines:
"Allen Gewalten zum Trutz sich erhalten," &c. (A bold front shown, to
powers of earth and heaven).

Compare with this Heine's poem, _An die Jungen_ ("To the Young"). The
impetuous rush of the rhythm and the picturesque quadruple rhyme would
alone suffice to make this a splendid, fascinating composition. The
first verse, with its allusion to the golden apples which Hippomenes
dropped in front of Atalanta, is a whole poem in itself:

   "Lass dich nicht kirren, lass dich nicht wirren
      Durch goldne Aepfel in deinem Lauf.
    Die Schwerter klirren, die Pfeile schwirren,
      Doch halten sie nicht den Helden auf."[27]

[27] Heed not the confusion, resist the illusion Of golden apples that
lie in thy way! The swords are clashing, the arrows are flashing, But
they cannot long the hero delay. (BOWRING.)

From the picture and example of the hero, who will not be stopped
in his career, we pass to that of Alexander. What is wanted is
determination and boldness:

   "Ein kühnes Beginnen ist halbes Gewinnen,
      Ein Alexander erbeutet die Welt,
    Kein langes Besinnen! Die Königinnen
      Erwarten schon kniend den Sieger im Zelt.

    Wir wagen und werben! besteigen als Erben
      Des alten Darius' Bett und Thron.
    O süsses Verderben! o blühender Sterben!
      Berauschter Triumphtod zu Babylon!"[28]


     A daring beginning is half way to winning,
       An Alexander once conquered the earth!
     Restrain each soft feeling! the queens are all kneeling
       In the tent, to reward thy victorious worth.

     Surmounting each burden, we win as our guerdon
       The bed of Darius of old, and his crown;
     O deadly seduction! O blissful destruction!
       To die drunk with triumph in Babylon town.

Upon victory follows the homage of the queens, then sweet perdition,
seductive ruin, death in the intoxication of triumph--what
Sardanapalian sentiment in this appeal to youth, this exhortation to
relentless determination! The fight here is for honour, and for women
as the spoil of battle, not that struggle for the combatant's own
individual freedom, of which Goethe writes so simply:

   "Nimmer sich beugen,
    Kräftig sich zeigen,
    Rufet die Arme
    Der Götter herbei."[29]


    Nevermore yield thee!
    Show life has steeled thee!
    Thus call the arms of
    The Gods to thine aid.

Goethe's feeling is purer and fuller, the music of his language is
simpler; with Heine the melody is, as it were, gorgeously orchestrated.
In Goethe's case there is nothing for the eye, not a single picture.
It is characteristic that his idea is the grander, Heine's the more
modern, more complex, just as Heine's metrical expression is more
sensuously insinuating, produced by an art which devotes more attention
to detail.

Now take a picturesque, descriptive subject--the Three Kings of the
East, as they are called to mind at the Feast of the Epiphany. It is
treated in a broad, lively, popular, genuinely naïve manner in Goethe's
_Epiphanias:_ "Die heil'gen drei König' mit ihrem Stern" (The Three
Kings of the East with their Star). The three kings, the white, the
brown, and the black, are described as they appeared when they went
about, dressed up, from house to house in the country; and the poem

   "Die heil'gen drei König' sind wohlgesinnt,
    Sie suchen die Mutter und das Kind,
    Der Joseph fromm sitzt auch dabei,
    Der Ochs und Esel liegen auf Streu."[30]


    The Three Kings of the East with reverence lowly
    Seek out the babe and mother holy,
    Good Joseph's there too, and close by
    The ox and ass on the litter lie.

Heine does not view the legend in a more religious light than Goethe,
but he settles his features into a more serious expression, speaks more
concisely, draws with a sharper outline, obtains a totally different
effect. Goethe rouses and cheers his readers by his broad and merry
artlessness; Heine's words bore their way into men's minds and leave
their sting there. He seems to aim at producing the same effect as that
of an old Florentine painting:

   "Die heil'gen drei König' aus Morgenland,
      Sie frugen in jedem Städtchen:
    Wo geht der Weg nach Bethlehem,
      Ihr lieben Buben und Mädchen?

    Die Jungen und Alten, sie wussten es nicht,
      Die Könige zogen weiter,
    Sie folgten einem goldenen Stern,
      Der leuchtete lieblich und heiter.

    Der Stern blieb steh'n über Josephs Haus,
      Da sind sie hineingegangen,
    Das Oechslein brüllte, das Kindlein schrie,
      Die heil'gen drei Könige sangen."[31]


    The three holy kings from the Eastern land
      Inquired in every city:
    Where is the road to Bethlehem,
      Ye boys and maidens pretty?

    The young and the old, they could not tell,
      The kings went onward discreetly;
    They followed the track of a golden star,
      That sparkled brightly and sweetly.

    The star stood still over Joseph's house
      And they entered the dwelling lowly,
    The oxen bellowed, the infant cried,
      While sang the three kings holy.

There is a certain amount of waggery in this. What a concert! But also,
what painting! The fewest words possible--not a stroke, not a touch too
much, and the most telling, prompt effect.

Let us now, in conclusion, think of one of those abstract figures
which occur in all lyric poetry--more or less carefully wrought-out
personifications of an idea such as peace, happiness, unhappiness--and
in this domain also compare Heine with Goethe. Here again it will be
observed that Goethe has the fuller note, Heine the firmer outline.

Goethe wrote these lines to peace:

   "Der du von dem Himmel bist,
    Alles Leid und Schmerzen stillest,
    Den, der doppelt elend ist,
    Doppelt mit Erquickung füllest,
    Ach, ich bin des Treibens müde!
    Was soll all der Schmerz, die Lust?
         Süsser Friede!
    Komm, ach komm in meine Brust!"[32]


    Child of heaven, that soothing calm
      On every pain and sorrow pourest,
    And a doubly healing balm
      Find'st for him whose need is sorest,
    Oh, I am of life aweary!
      What availeth its unrest--
    Pain that findeth no release,
      Joy that at the best is dreary?
           Gentle peace,
    Come, oh come unto my breast!
                   (Sir THEODORE MARTIN.)

There is no picture here, no real personification. There is a crescendo
movement through the first six lines, which culminates in the outburst:
"Süsser Friede!"--though we could not feel quite certain that this
outburst was coming.

Now take Heine's personifications of fortune and misfortune, as
contained in the following verses:

   "Das Glück ist eine leichte Dirne
      Und weilt nicht gern am selben Ort,
    Sie streicht das Haar dir von der Stirne
      Und küsst dich rasch und flattert fort.

    Frau Unglück hat im Gegentheile
      Dich liebefest an's Herz gedrückt,
    Sie sagt, sie habe keine Eile,
      Setzt sich zu dir an's Bett und strickt."[33]


    Oh, Joy, she is a lichtsome hizzy,
       She winna bide wi' ye ava';
     She strokes your broo an' maks ye dizzy
       Wi' ae fond kiss, then flits awa'.

     Dame Sorrow is a canty kimmer,
       A fond embrace ye'll hae frae her;
     She vows she's naewise thrang, the limmer,
       Knits by your bed an' winna stir.
                                       (W. A.)

Seldom have two ideas been transformed into two living forms with
so few strokes; and there is nothing much finer in all modern
myth-creation than the last two lines, between which are to be read the
record of profound and terrible experience.

Heine, as we have seen, makes his earliest appearance in the Romantic
school, and learns his trade from A. W. Schlegel, who imparts to him
his own correct taste. In the earliest period of his development he is
addicted to Romantic ghost stories and Romantic archaisms. Then, in
the matter of metre, he begins to study and imitate Wilhelm Müller;
in his most famous poem he borrows from Clemens Brentano. He soon
forms his own style, the distinguishing feature of which is extreme
condensation of thought, feeling, and imagery. Heine makes everything
present and living, introduces even into tranquil themes a nervous,
at times dæmonic, passion, not infrequently exaggerates until he
becomes grotesque, occasionally exchanges the light of day for the
glaring brightness of electric light--a kind of un-naturalness which is
nevertheless to be found in nature. His most effective poetic quality
is pregnant brevity.

By reason of the blend of wit and imagination in his nature, he is
inclined to produce his effects by contrasts, to seek for striking
disharmonies and incongruities; he has a special fancy for the effect
produced by letting a commonplace, vulgar reality imperceptibly
make way for a poetic vision, or allowing such a vision to fade and
evaporate and give place to all too familiar reality.

His style is essentially modern--everything graphic, everything
perspicuous. What is it that constitutes a great writer? The possession
of the power to call forth mental visions or moods, visions by means
of moods or moods by means of visions. It was especially the latter
faculty that Heine cultivated in himself; he never fails in the matter
of clear outline and picturesque effect.

At his zenith he can no longer be compared with his teachers and
contemporaries. To gauge the power and versatility of his style it
was necessary to compare it with the greatest style of the age--with
Goethe's. In the process he often, as we have seen, comes far short,
but it not so very seldom happens that he establishes his right to
almost equal admiration. It is, however, enough for him that it is
possible, and now and again necessary, to compare him with Goethe.

A style is the expression of a personality and a weapon in the
warfare of literature. Goethe's style, with all its greatness, is not
sufficiently complex to grapple with modern ideas. But Heine's, that
weapon which in its best days was as finely tempered as those old
Spanish blades which could be bent like osiers, but which no armour
could snap, was better suited than any other to cope with modern life
in its hardness and ugliness, its charm, its restlessness, and its
wealth of glaring contrasts. It also possessed in the highest degree
the power of working upon the nerves of modern readers, who have more
inclination for spiced dishes and heating beverages than for plain food
and pure wine.



There can be little doubt that nothing has been more injurious to
Heine's general reputation than his indiscreet loquacity on sexual
subjects. Whole groups of his poems are in ill repute on this account;
those, for instance, which compose the collection _Verschiedene_
(Various), most of which have been unjustly condemned, although there
are certainly some which are anything but sublime in their theme or
refined in their treatment of it. In _Der Gott und die Bajadere_ ("The
God and the Bayadere") Goethe had shown how even a very equivocal
subject can be ennobled by sublimity of style. And even when, as in
the Venetian epigrams, he treats of Bayaderes who are certainly not
purified by love, and dwells upon the poet's relations with them, the
antique metre in itself produces the effect of distance, and we are not
offended by any objectionable word. These few epigrams, too, lie almost
buried in the mass of Goethe's writings. Moreover, in reading them, we
feel that he is the man whom nature created in order that she might
learn from him what she is like in her entirety.

With Heine, communicativeness on the subject of his relations with
the other sex occupies too important a place, and is not always in
good taste. It gains him ten readers for one whom it alienates, but it
sometimes happens that the one thus lost was worth more than the ten

And yet this frankness is, in a manner, his strength. It need not have
been so personal, but it is quite indispensable in one who desires to
compass not only the tragic, but also the comic hemisphere. And in this
quality, and in his many shameless personal attacks, he resembles the
greatest comic poet of all times.

Towards the end of his _Winter's Tale_, immediately after the wanton
passage in which he smells out the future of Germany by putting his
head down the opening of Charlemagne's night-throne, he declares that
the noblest of the Graces have tuned the strings of his lyre, and that
this lyre is the same which was sounded in days gone by, by his father,
"the late Aristophanes, the favourite of the Muses," He adds that in
his last chapter he has attempted to imitate _The Birds_, "the best of
father's dramas."

He thus, we observe, prided himself on artistic descent from the
greatest comic poet of ancient Greece.

For a moment we are taken aback. Other German poets, such as Platen
and Prutz, have imitated the form of the Aristophanic comedy, its
trimeters, choruses, parabases, the whole of that irregular and yet
regular form of art built up by the Greek comic school; but Heine
never even made an attempt to master this poetical form, or any other.
It is characteristic of him that, persevering and conscientious as
he was in ensuring the telling precision of the single metrical or
prose expression (I never saw a manuscript with so many corrections
as that of his _Atta Troll_, in the Royal Library of Berlin), it was
impossible for him to submit to the artistic restriction of any of the
great poetic forms. It tallies with this, that in his longer works the
plan of the whole is quite vague, but every single line has been gone
through again and again.

There is probably no exaggeration in saying that he never, in his
capacity as an artist, set himself a task and carried it out.

Once only he attempted to write a long, connected prose work, a romance
or novel. Whether, as some maintain, the greater part of the manuscript
was destroyed by a fire, or whether, as I for one believe, the work was
never completed, the fact remains that all we have of it is a fragment.
And even this fragment, _Der Rabbi von Bacharach,_ is, when carefully
examined, nothing but a very much antedated transcription of Heine's
own private experiences.

Nor did he ever attempt a severely connected metrical composition. His
only long poems, _Atta Troll_ and _Deutschland, ein Wintermärchen_
("Germany, a Winter's Tale"), are irregular, whimsical fantasies,
soap-bubbles rocked upon cobweb tissue of the brain, only connected by
a uniformity of tone and design.

The idea of translating or adapting Aristophanes would never have
occurred to Heine. He was not like Goethe, who, in spite of his
enormous original productivity, condescended to translate and adapt
for his countrymen (Diderot, Benvenuto Cellini, Voltaire). When Goethe
made acquaintance with Aristophanes, he was enchanted with him, and
it is Goethe, not Heine, who undertakes to transplant _The Birds_ on
to German soil; but it is characteristic that in his hands the play
undergoes a metamorphosis, is transformed from a political into a
literary satire. In Goethe's play the two discontented politicians
have become literary adventurers; in the owl (as proved by a letter
from Jacobi to Heine) he satirises Klopstock, in the parrot, young
Cramer. It was in the epilogue to this adaptation that Goethe bestowed
on Aristophanes the immortal appellation, "der ungezogene Liebling der
Grazien" (the froward favourite of the Graces), which suits Heine so

Heine was too lazy ever to have studied, translated, adapted, or
imitated an ancient classic poet, but, supposing him to have done so,
he would never, like Goethe or Platen, have made pure literary comedies
of the Aristophanic plays; it was the grand political satire that
attracted him.

It is probable that Heine is the wittiest man that ever lived, or at
least the wittiest man of modern times. Voltaire is, undoubtedly,
looked upon as a sort of personification of wit; but his wit is
sensible and dry, not poetic and imaginative like Heine's.

Platen, the proud and stiff, acted unwisely when he wrote the work in
which he satirises Heine, _Der romantische Oedipus_, in the outward
form and style of the Aristophanic comedy, for he had nothing in
common with Aristophanes but fine versification and coarse language.
Heine, on the contrary, had all the chief qualities of Aristophanes
combined--wit, wanton wildness, imagination, lyric sweetness,
shamelessness, and grace. Without grace and wit, shamelessness is
undoubtedly a base and repellent quality. But in this combination with
noble qualities it is uncommon. The Aristophanic poet must not, cannot
have the pride which shrinks from amusing the coarse minded, who only
understand a man when they meet him in the mire. He dares not shrink
from debasing himself to a certain point, in order to gain a wider
field of vantage.

It is useless for an author to attempt, as Platen did, to impress his
readers before all else with the idea of his high-mindedness, and to
inspire them with respect for his person; it is useless for him to
proclaim that he intends "to crush his antagonists with genuine wit."
It is not possible to appear at one and the same time in the character
of a refined gentleman and an Aristophanic poet. A man is a failure
in the latter rôle if he sets more value on the esteem of others
than on the triumph of art. The compensation in the case of the true
Aristophanic poet is, that his poetry has a compass unattainable by the
dignified poets (a Schiller or a Hugo); it reflects the whole of human
life, from its highest functions to its lowest.

Though there are so few formal points of contact between Heine's
lyric-satiric poems and the great fantastic comedies of Aristophanes,
it is nevertheless probable that since the days of ancient Greece there
has been no wit so nearly akin to the wit of Aristophanes as Heinrich

This assertion is not based upon any misconception of the extraordinary
dissimilarity in the character of their life-work. The Aristophanic
comedy with its grand and exact technical structure is the expression
of the artistic culture of a whole nation, a monument that commemorates
the religious festivals of which it was the outcome. Aristophanes
built upon a foundation laid, a substructure prepared, by a whole line
of distinguished predecessors, whose style was similar, whose talent
was akin to his, and to whose labours he succeeded, in much the same
manner as Shakespeare did to the work of his predecessors; hence the
Aristophanic comedy as a form of art is to a much greater extent a
collective production than Heine's stanza is. Quite apart from our
knowledge of the fact that Eupolis and Kratinos accused Aristophanes
of making inadmissible use of the ideas of his predecessors, we can
see for ourselves, from one of his own comedies, _The Knights_, that
plays with titles like the Birds, the Wasps, the Frogs had already been
produced by the comic poet Magnes; the chorus disguised as reptiles,
insects, birds, was thus not a thing invented by Aristophanes, it was
an inheritance. It is only because we are not acquainted with the
Greek poet's predecessors that his life's work appears to us to be a
purely individual production, the type of grand fantastic comedy, in
comparison with whose exuberance of life almost all modern comedy seems
spiritless and weak.

His world is the topsy-turvy world. When, in the _Peace_, Trygaios
saddles a stinking carrion-beetle and on it, as his Pegasus, mounts
through the clouds to the dwellings of the Gods, or when he drags
Peace up by a fathom-long rope from the deep well into which she has
been thrown by War, these proceedings are represented as if there were
nothing in the least unusual or impossible about them; no explanation
is offered; and we are compelled to believe in them. When, in _The
Birds_, we hear two silly fellows, who are posing as philosophers,
disclose their crazy plans for building a city in the clouds, it all
sounds very mad, and when we see the Birds receive these men with
reverence, we do not conceive any higher opinion of their intelligence,
we are only struck by the comicality of the birds being so stupid as
to put their trust in them. But when we hear that the city is actually
built, that fortune has attended the enterprise and that it has been
crowned with success, we feel that the world set before us here is not
our own everyday world, but one with whose laws things are compatible
which are contrary to the laws of ours.

This new world is purely fantastic, in so far as it is antagonistic to
the laws of probability and of nature. It is a world in which madness
triumphs, and the poet pretends that this is as it should be. Not till
the spectator begins to wonder _where_ this topsy-turvy world can
be, _where_ such things happen, _where_ political effrontery on such
a gigantic scale, far from being confounded and put to shame, wins
confidence and is rewarded--not till then is he led back to reality, to
the recognition in this world of his own world, his own home, Athens.

Three of the Aristophanic comedies in our possession, _The Birds, The
Frogs_, and _Peace_, do not pass, or pass only in part, on earth; they
are meteoric or underground dramas. And it is in these only that Gods
are represented, and then merely that they may be rated, ridiculed, or
beaten. In the world of reality they do not reveal themselves; for it
is only in the world of fancy that they are believed in.

Heine, the modern poet, dares not ask his readers to follow him into
the same sort of supernatural world; and yet he cannot dispense with
the supernatural; hence that constantly recurring use and abuse of
dreams, for which hardly any parallel is to be found among other modern
poets. Within the frame-work, as it were, of the dream, he dares to be
extraordinary, to be Aristophanic.

As has been already remarked, he resembles Aristophanes in the depth of
his shamelessness and in the height of his lyric flight.

Allusions to difficulties of digestion and the like, play a less
important part in Heine's writings than in those of Aristophanes, who,
however, we must remember, himself declared that he despised this
kind of comicality. According to him its only recommendation was that
it provoked the laughter of the least cultured part of the public.
But such things are frequently referred to by Heine too, at times in
the plainest of terms (notably in his attack on Platen), and with
him, almost as often as with Aristophanes, we have to be on our guard
against certain noisome insects.

Heine of course cannot allow himself the same freedom of speech in
sexual matters as the old Greek did, but to make up for this, he
never hesitates to make an allusion that will atone for any want of
outspokenness. And now and then there is almost no circumlocution; what
as a general rule is indicated by a smile or a grimace is shouted to
all and sundry with a loud guffaw, as, for instance, at the conclusion
of _Deutschland_, and in such poems as _Der Ungläubige_ ("The

And yet again, as with Aristophanes, so with Heine; from this constant
insistence upon that in man which reminds us of his dwelling-place
during the earliest stages of his development, he rises to the purest,
most delicate lyric utterance. He, who so thoroughly comprehends the
material origin of all living things, in one of his poems derives them
all from the song of the nightingale:

   "Im Anfang war die Nachtigall
    Und sang ihr Lied: Zükükt! Zukükt!"[1]


    In the beginning was the nightingale,
    Who sang her song: Zükükt! Zükükt!

We cannot but be reminded of the beautiful lines in _The Birds_:

   "Gentlest and dearest, thou dost sing
    Consorting still with mine thy lay,
    Lov'd partner of my wild-wood way,
    Thou'rt come, thou'rt come; all hail! all hail!
    I see thee now, sweet nightingale."

Heine, like Aristophanes, makes merry at the expense of the Gods. His
satire is naturally more cautious than the old Greek's; the modern
world does not stand jesting on this subject as well as the ancient
world did. In the works of Heine, who wrote under the censorship of the
police and of modern society, we have no counterpart to the scene in
_The Frogs_, where Dionysus, the god of comedy, who has shown himself
both boastful and cowardly, gets one thrashing after another, and at
last appeals to his own priest, who occupied a place of honour among
the spectators, to help him in his extremity. And yet there is not
very much, from playful banter to broad jocularity and the most biting
sarcasm, that Heine does not allow himself. Hyacinth's valuation of
the various religions (in the _Reisebilder_) is well known. He will
have nothing to say to Catholicism, which, with its pealing of bells,
its incense fumes, and its "Melancholik," is no religion for a citizen
of Hamburg; he tests Protestantism by buying lottery tickets with the
numbers which he finds on the hymn-board in a Lutheran church; and he
disposes of Judaism in the well-known words: "It is not a religion at
all, but a misfortune." In the amusing and audacious verses entitled
_Disputation_, a rabbi and a Capucin monk defend their respective
dogmas; each, in offensive terms, boasts of the happiness conferred by
his doctrine; the royal bride who is to decide the dispute declares
herself incapable of doing so, as the only thing she has noted is that
they both stink. In a passage in his book on Börne, Heine's mockery
of religion becomes almost dramatic. He tells how, when he was living
on the island of Heligoland, he was often drawn into arguments with a
Prussian Councillor of Justice on the subject of the Trinity. During
one of these discussions, the thinness of the flooring permitted them
to hear distinctly what was being said in the room below, where a
phlegmatic Dutchman was instructing their hostess how to distinguish
between cod, haberdine, and stock-fish--which are in reality one and
the same fish, but with three names, denoting three different degrees
of saltness.

As far as earthly potentates are concerned, Heine's comic assaults are
not less audacious, not less fantastic than those of Aristophanes.
Aristophanes showed courage in his attacks on Kleon and Theramenes;
he occasionally chanced to defend the good cause; but as a rule it
was the bad cause he upheld, for he made himself the spokesman of an
indefensible conservatism, and of unjust personal animosities. Heine
was less frequently unjust or mean, and he was never conservative.
But he recalls Aristophanes to us by his aristocratic propensities,
by the grim character of his personal attacks (those on Meyerbeer,
for instance), and also by the form of these attacks, for example the
amusing way in which he turns to account well-known, pathetic passages
from other poets.

He made witty attacks on Frederick William IV., in _Deutschland_, where
Hammonia warns Heine himself against "the king of Thule," and in the
poem _Der neue Alexander_; and he wrote a whole series of satirical
poems on King Ludwig of Bavaria and his doings. This latter king, whom
Heine in past days had extolled, was flattered as a Mæcenas by a whole
band of contemporary artists and poets. In the _Lobgesänge auf König
Lüdewig_, Heine falls foul of all his weaknesses, his gallery of beauty
in the Munich palace, his bad verses, his annoyance when several of the
famous men of science and artists whom he patronised allowed themselves
to be persuaded to leave Bavaria and settle in Prussia. On the subject
of the gallery of beauty we have:

   "Er liebt die Kunst, und die schönsten Frau'n,
    Die lässt er porträtiren,
    Er geht in diesem gemalten Serail
    Als Kunst-Eunuch spazieren."[2]


    In love with art, he collects fair dames
    In counterfeit presentment,
    And in this painted harem finds,
    Art-eunuch-like, contentment.

When writing of the migration to Prussia of the various men of note,
Heine seizes the opportunity to give a side-hit at his old scape-goat,

   "Der Schelling und der Cornelius,
    Sie mögen von dannen wandern.
    Dem einen erlosch im Kopf die Vernunft,
    Die Phantasie dem Andern.

    Doch dass man aus meiner Krone stahl
    Die beste Perle, dass man
    Mir meinen Turnkunstmeister geraubt,
    Das Menschenjuwel, den Massmann,

    Das hat mich gebeugt, das hat mich geknickt,
    Das hat mir die Seele zerschmettert,
    Mir fehlt jetzt der Mann, der in seiner Kunst
    Den höchsten Pfahl erklettert...."[3]


    That Schelling should go, and Cornelius too,
    Without a tear I can see--
    The one has lost his reasoning power,
    The other all his fancy.

    But to steal from my crown its brightest gem,
    Its pearl of price, was cruel;
    My master-gymnast they've filched away,
    Massmann, mankind's chief jewel.

    This crime has bent and broken me,
    'Tis soul-destroying, cynical--
    I have lost the man who had clambered up
    To his art's supremest pinnacle.

Of King Ludwig's essays in poetry he writes:

   "Herr Ludwig ist ein grosser Poet,
    Und singt er, so stürzt Apollo
    Vor ihm auf die Knie und bittet und fleht:
    Halt ein! ich werde sonst toll, o!"[4]


    King Ludwig is a poet great;
    When he sings, the mighty Apollo
    Falls on his knees and begs and prays:
    O stop! or my death will follow!

Still wittier is the parody of King Ludwig's poetical style, in the
inscription above the resting-place of Atta Troll in the Bavarian

   "Atta Troll, Tendenzbär, sittlich--
    Religiös; als Gatte brünstig;
    Durch Verfuhrtsein von dem Zeitgeist
    Waldursprünglich Sansculotte;

    Sehr schlecht tanzend, doch Gesinnung
    Tragend in der zott'gen Hochbrust
    Manchmal auch gestunken habend;
    Kein Talent, doch ein Charakter!"[5]


    Atta Troll, a bear of impulse;
    Devotee; a loving husband;
    Full of sans-culottic notions,
    Thanks to the prevailing fashion.
    Wretched dancer; strong opinions
    Bearing in his shaggy bosom;
    Often stinking very badly;
    Talentless, a character!

The harshness and the strained participial construction both remind us
of the style of the royal effusions which any visitor to Munich may
study for himself below the frescoes on the walls of the arcades.

This is merely personal satire of crowned heads; but Heine's satire,
like that of Aristophanes, is frequently directed against existing
political, social, and literary conditions, and it is then that he is
obliged to call the dream to his aid. With its help he descends into
the depth of the earth, or mounts to a fantastic world above the clouds.

This, as already mentioned, happens more especially in _Deutschland_.
Observe with what care and skill Heine prepares for the fantastic
description of Barbarossa's subterranean dwelling-place in the
Kyffhäuser. First he introduces the refrain of an old legendary ballad:
"Sonne, du klagende Flamme!" (Sun, thou accusing flame!) with a sketch
of the legend which tells how the sun acted as the accuser of the
murderer of a young maiden; then he describes the good old nurse who
sang this ballad and told many an entrancing tale--the tale of the
princess disguised as a goose-herd, the tale of the emperor who lived
deep down in the earth below the mountain; this second he relates at
length--and presently all else is forgotten; we see Barbarossa with
his mail-clad followers, we hear him call them to horse, to arms,
to battle, to avenge the wrong which the murderers have done to the
golden-haired Germania. Then we return to the mood of the nursery
ballad, and to its refrain: "Sonne! du klagende Flamme!" now chanted
with enthusiasm and rejoicing. There is an Aristophanic _verve_
in this poetic description of the old arsenal, the empty suits of
armour, the faded flags, the sleeping soldiers, and then the sudden
revulsion, the appeal to awakening power, the supplication that the
Middle Ages may return again, as being infinitely preferable to the
sanctimonious Prussia of the day, with her mixture of Gothic folly and
modern falsehood. The two following cantos, which contain a further
description of the interior of the mountain, and conversations with
Barbarossa, take the form of an account of a dream which the poet had
while travelling at night in the stage-coach.

The anti-Prussian rhapsody in the inn at Minden is prepared for in the
same manner. Heine wants to summon forth the Prussian eagle, and to
pluck him and shoot him. If Aristophanes had had the same designs, he
would have introduced the eagle without more ado. Heine goes to work in
his roundabout way. In the act of falling asleep he dreams that the red
bed-curtain tassel above his head turns into an eagle with feathers and
claws, which threatens to tear the liver out of his breast, and which
he taunts with bitter hatred.

In a few single instances Heine's artistic procedure is bolder, more
like that of the great Greek. One of these is the splendid harangue to
the wolves at night in the Teutoburgerwald. At midnight the traveller
hears them howling round his carriage, which has lost a wheel. He comes
out and makes a speech to the savage brutes:

   "Mitwölfe, ich bin glücklich, heut'
      In eurer Mitte zu weilen,
    Wo so viel' edle Gemüther mir
      Mit Liebe entgegen heulen."[6]


    Brother wolves! it gives me great pleasure to-day
      To tarry awhile midst your growling,
    Where so many noble spirits have met,
      Around me lovingly howling.

And the speech is a humorous imitation of those which great men are
in the habit of making on such occasions: This is an hour which to
him will be ever memorable. They lie who say that he has joined the
dogs; the idea of becoming court-councillor to the lambs has never
even occurred to him. From time to time he has dressed himself in a
sheepskin, but only for the sake of the warmth; he is and always will
be a wolf.

In the scene between the poet and the strapping woman with the mural
crown who represents Hamburg, we have, as Heine himself informs us, a
direct imitation of the wedding of Peithetaerus and Basileia in _The
Birds_. It is wanton and boyishly frolicsome; its licentiousness is
really more offensive than that of similar passages in Aristophanes,
who never appears in his own plays except in defence of himself as a
poet. Heine does not go the same length as Aristophanes, but he is more

In _Atta Troll_ the parallel between the two poets is still more
obvious. Here Heine's imagination has freer play, because the hero
is not a man, but a bear. There is fine fancy in the passage where
the bear, after his flight, is described dancing for his cubs in the
moonlight. There is inimitable humour in his declamation against the
rights of man, and in his boast of the more ancient rights of bears,
which recalls the charming parabasis in _The Birds_, in which it is
established that the bird world is the oldest: Everything proceeds from
the original egg, the egg of Night, Love first of all, and the birds
are children of Love. Atta Troll's pride in the animal world is most
amusing, especially so because Heine manages to insinuate into the
bear's utterances sarcastic hits at persons whom he himself wishes to
depreciate--Freiligrath, for instance, whose popular but foolish poem,
_Löwenritt_, and infelicitous _Mohrenkönig_ had roused his mirthful

   "Giebt es nicht gelehrte Hunde?
    Und auch Pferde, welche rechnen?
      . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Schreiben Esel nicht Kritiken?
    Spielen Affen nicht Komödie?
      . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Singen nicht die Nachtigallen?
    Ist der Freiligrath kein Dichter?
    Wer besäng' den Löwen besser?
    Als sein Landsmann, das Kamel?"[7]


    Are there not such things as learned
    Dogs, and horses too, who reckon?
      .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    Write not asses criticisms?
    Are not apes all good comedians?
      .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    Are not nightingales good singers?
    And is Freiligrath no poet?
    Who can sing of lions better
    Than their countryman, the camel?[*]

[*]In German slang "camel" is equivalent to "blockhead."

A good deal of what the bear says, sounds like satire on foolish
communistic democracy. He holds forth volubly against property--bears
are born without pockets, but men have pockets and stuff them; and
discourses eagerly on equality:

   "Strenge Gleichheit! Jeder Esel
    Sei befugt zum höchsten Staatsamt,
    Und der Löwe soll dagegen
    Mit dem Sack zur Mühle traben."[8]


    Strict equality! Each donkey
    Be entitled to high office;
    On the other hand, the lion
    Carry to the mill the sack.

But on the whole it is harmless, stingless satire, fantastical
banter alike of the clerical party and communists, misanthropes and
revolutionists, cosmopolitans and patriots--for the bear speaks like
them all in turn. A very wonderful passage is Atta Troll's sermon
against atheism and its development from his deism, the passage

   "Hüte dich vor Menschendenkart,
    Sie verdirbt dir Leib und Seele;
    Unter allen Menschen giebt es
    Keinen ordentlichen Menschen."[9]


    Guard against man's ways of thinking,
    They destroy both soul and body;
    'Mongst all men there's no such thing as
    Any good and decent man.

There is a gay profundity in the warning against Feuerbach and Bauer,
and there is wit, as brilliant as Voltaire's, but richer, and warmer,
in the description of the creative deity:

   "Droben in dem Sternenzelte,
    Auf dem gold'nen Herrscherstuhle,
    Weltregierend, majestätisch,
    Sitzt ein kolossaler Eisbär" &c.[10]


    In yon starry bright pavilion,
    On the golden seat of power,
    World-directing and majestic,
    Sits a mighty polar-bear.

What humour there is in the description of the bear-saints who dance
before his throne!

The bear gives us something of the phraseology of all the different
parties in turn, but it is the bigoted Teuton that he chiefly favours;
it is he who is most severely satirised. The sleek bear-damsels remind
us of a German pastor's daughters; the youngest cub turns somersaults
exactly like Massmann, and is, like him, the product of home education,
has never been able to learn Greek or Latin, or any language but his

By strange, fantastic detours Heine invariably brings his reader back
to the realities of his native land.

Aristophanic, in this respect, is the passage in which, when it
rains, the cry is heard: "Six-and-thirty kings for an umbrella!" and
again, when shelter is reached: "Six-and-thirty kings for a warm

And absolutely Aristophanic is the suppressed passage, in which the
bird Hut-Hut tells how Solomon and Balkis ask each other riddles in the
realm of shades, riddles like:

   "Wer ist wohl der grösste Lump
    Unter allen deutschen Lumpen;
    Die in allen sechs und dreissig
    Deutschen Bundesstaaten leben?"[11]


    Who, think you, is the paltriest wight
    Amongst the crowd of worthless fellows
    In all the different States of Germany,
    Which are in number six-and-thirty?

Balkis, to whom the question is put, sends secret messengers to make
inquiry in every country and state in Germany, but each time she
informs Solomon of the discovery of a specially contemptible wretch, he

   "Kind! es giebt noch einen grösser'n!
    (Child! there is a worse one still!)

And it is explained to us as a peculiarity of Germany, that as often as
we imagine we have discovered her most despicable character, one still
more despicable makes his appearance. There is no progress so certain
as the progress in general contemptibility. It was only yesterday that
X. appeared to be the sorriest knave, to-day he is not to be named
in comparison with N. N. Heine must have felt that he had plentiful
stores of invention to draw upon, else he would hardly, in his final
revision of the poem, have rejected this means of satirising his
opponents, one by one, in the most amusing manner.

In purely literary satire, too, Heine's methods have a distinct
resemblance to those of Aristophanes. An example of this is the hit in
_Atta Troll_ at the Swabian school of poets--the cat in the witch's
cottage, which is a bewitched Swabian poet, who will turn into a man
again when a pure maiden can read Gustav Pfizer's poems on New Year's
eve without falling asleep. Another example is the satire in the same
poem on the following rather ridiculous lines of Freiligrath's _Der
Mohrenfürst_ (The Moorish Prince) with their far-fetched simile:

   "Aus dem schimmernd weissen Zelte hervor
    Tritt der schlachtgerüstete fürstliche Mohr;
    So tritt aus schimmernder Wolken Thor
    Der Mond, der verfinsterte, dunkle, hervor."[12]

[12] From the glistening white tent the royal Moor issues forth, armed
for the fray; even as the moon, gloomy and dark, issues from the
glistening gate-way of the clouds.

It is a poem about a negro king, who is taken prisoner, brought to
Europe, and made to play the drum outside a circus; while doing so
he thinks of his former greatness, and beats his drum to pieces. The
idea of the black man at the opening of the tent resembling the moon
appearing through the clouds is undoubtedly comical.

In _Atta Troll_ the red tongue hangs out of the bear's black jaws
as the moon shows herself through white clouds. And towards the end
of the poem Heine tells us how, in the Jardin des Plantes, he makes
acquaintance with a negro caretaker, who confides to him that he is
Freiligrath's negro king, that he has married a white Alsatian cook,
whose feet remind him of the feet of the elephants in his native land,
and whose French sounds to him like the negro tongue. She feeds him so
well that he has developed a little round black stomach, which shows
itself through the opening of his shirt like a black moon, appearing
from behind white clouds.

And there is something especially Aristophanic in the recklessly brutal
satire upon Platen in the second part of the _Reisebilder_. Certain
amusing artifices in their literary warfare are common to the Greek
and the German comic poet. In _The Frogs_, in the contest between
Æschylus and Euripides (a poet whom Aristophanes hates), Æschylus
tacks a refrain, equivalent to "spoiled his verse," to everything that
Euripides recites. In the _Reisebilder_ Heine revenges himself by
making Hyacinth alternately tack the words _von vorn_ (from the front)
and _von hinten_ (from behind) to the end of Platen's lines, thereby
maliciously perverting their meaning.

The Aristophanic comedy resembles the majestic frescoes that cover
the interior of some great dome; to compare Heine's comic writings
with those of Aristophanes, is to compare pictures carefully painted
on the easel with such frescoes. In the Greek comedies there is the
light and space of the Sistine Chapel; in them, as in the frescoes of
Michael Angelo, everything is large, sweeping, strong; the creation
of a mind that sets recognised rules at defiance by the vehemence of
its lyric emotion, the audacity of its fore-shortening, and the force
of its allegory. Only that Michael Angelo's world is solemnly, wildly
tragic, whereas the world of Aristophanes is dithyrambic, a world of
caricatures set in a framework of Greek social conditions.

Compared with Aristophanes, Heine is a private, stay-at-home citizen.
Aristophanes holds forth to an audience of thousands in the broad
daylight of the theatre; Heine communes with his public sitting alone
in his room. But the scenes that depict themselves simply on the retina
of his eye, are aglow with more ardent, passionate life than those
which Aristophanes embodied on the stage. And his aims are not the
purely local aims of the Greek poet. When he is at his best, he appeals
to millions who are not of his nationality, appeals, indeed, to the
elect among all who can read. His lyric poetry is more personal, more
intense, more nervous than that of any Greek; his satire is dedicated
to the cause of general ideas, which did not exist for Aristophanes. He
is not less witty than his Greek forerunner, and he always fought for
political progress and personal liberty, whereas the enemy of Euripides
and Socrates most frequently fought for a past that was gone beyond
recall, a past to which he himself most certainly did not belong.



Heine's prose is not on the same level with his verse. In his most
famous prose book, the _Reisebilder_, he shows himself to be a pupil of
Sterne; in later works, where he has attained to greater independence,
he is always witty and lively, but seldom properly qualified to treat
the subjects of his choice. Whether he is writing on German philosophy
for French readers, or on French art for Germans, he does it in equally
dilettante fashion. Judged as journalism, his writing was always
excellent, but he is too strong, too great a man to be classified as a

Too much has been made of Heine's superficiality by the pedants among
his detractors. He was not a hard worker, but he was by no means idle,
and he possessed a fund of solid and varied knowledge. Still, it is
only as a poet that he is great; most of his prose writings treat of
the passing topics of the day; and his fame has been actually injured
by the publication of his letters, which, as a rule, present him to
us in an unfavourable light, namely entirely taken up with his own
interests. Pecuniary difficulties are a tiresome subject, even when
they happen to be the pecuniary difficulties of a genius.

Heine, as every one knows, did not live to be an old man. He was
carried off in the prime of his mental powers by a terrible disease.

He had always been delicate and suffering; in his youth he was plagued
by severe headaches, and was obliged to be so moderate in the matter
of drink that his friends used laughingly to declare that he contented
himself with _smelling_ a bottle of Rhenish wine which he kept in his
room. His nervous system was undermined while he was still a young
man, but it is certain that this was to a much less extent the result
of excesses than is generally believed, for Heine is a real _fanfaron
des vices_, given to perpetual boasting of his own depravity. He was
attacked by the disease which is so frequently the fate of those who
have lived lives of unbroken mental productivity. An affection of the
spine, with paralysis first of the eyelids and in course of time of
almost the whole body, consigned him to that "mattress-grave" in Paris,
where he lay for nearly eight years.

His life, which can neither be called a great nor a happy one, falls
of itself into two distinctly defined parts--the life in Germany till
the Revolution of July, and the life in Paris from 1831 till his
death in 1856. It was a life led without calculation, but not without
instinctive perception of the direction in which possibilities of
development for his talent lay; it is hardly probable that Heine would
have attained to his great cosmopolitan fame, or even that he would
have become so eminent a satiric poet, if he had lived in his native
country all his life.

His youthful years in Germany are passed under the oppression of the
reaction--his _Reisebilder_ won popularity as an expression of the
general political dissatisfaction--but he soon makes up his mind that
it is useless to meddle with politics. The Revolution of July puts
new life into everything; Heine goes off to Paris, settles there,
and is kept there by the embargo placed upon his works in all the
states of the German Confederation. The Guizot Government secretly
give him the small pension which enables him to live in comparative
comfort. His acceptance of this laid him open to accusations, which,
though they were not altogether groundless, were in many points quite
unjustifiable. It must be borne in mind that Heine did not understand
the art of making money; and even if he had, it would have been of
little use to him. Many thousands of pounds must have been made by the
sale of his books, but he himself made over the most profitable of
them all, the _Buch der Lieder_, to Campe in payment of an old debt of
50 Louis d'ors, and was all his life long dependent on the unwilling
assistance of his rich uncle. If he, and if the little Parisian
grisette whom he married, had had more idea of economy, it might have
been unnecessary for him to accept Government support. The fact of his
accepting it no doubt occasionally prevented him from criticising the
French ministry freely in German newspapers, but it had no other bad
result, and least of all did it induce him to write anything he did not

From French soil he waged uninterrupted, unremitting intellectual
warfare with the European reaction. In this respect he may be called
Byron's great successor. Only a few years after the sword of sarcasm,
wielded in the cause of liberty, had slipped from the hands of the
dying Byron, it was seized by Heine, who wielded it for a whole
generation with equal skill and power. Yet for the eight last years it
was a mortally wounded man who fought.

At no time did he write truer, more incisive, more brilliant verse
than when he lay nailed to the low, broad bed of torture in Paris. And
never, so far as we know, has a great productive mind borne superhuman
sufferings with more undaunted courage and endurance. The power of
the soul over the body has seldom displayed itself so unmistakably.
To bear such agonies as his in close-lipped silence would have been
admirable; but to create, to bubble over with sparkling, whimsical jest
and mockery, to let his spirit wander the world round in charming and
profound reverie, while he himself lay crippled, almost lifeless, on
his couch--this was great.

He lay there shrunk to a skeleton, with his eyes closed, his hands
almost powerless, his noble features painfully emaciated; the white,
perfectly formed hands were nearly transparent; at times, when he
spoke, a Mephistophelian smile passed over the suffering, martyr-like
face. At last, as in the case of Tithonus of old, all that really
remained of the man was his voice; but it was a voice of many notes, of
many whimsies, many jests.

He continued to be mentally active. It was as if the driving-wheel went
on turning without steam, as if the lamp went on burning without oil.

It is not true that he reverted to a connection with any church; but
the suffering man clung to a kind of piety and faith in God which was a
legacy from the days of his youth. At this faith he himself sometimes
smiled. We have such a smile in the words with which on the last day
of his life he tried to pacify an excited acquaintance: _Dieu me
pardonnera--c'est son métier._

It is a touching proof of his strength of mind and of his filial
affection that during his whole long illness he took the greatest care
that all knowledge of his sufferings should be kept from his old mother
in Hamburg; to the last he wrote her cheerful, amusing letters, and he
caused any passages that might have awakened her suspicions to be taken
out of the copies of his works that were sent to her.

Another pleasant impression of his spiritual condition is conveyed by
the circumstance that he, the most wanton-tongued of men and poets on
the subject of love, changed during his illness into the tenderest and
most spiritual exponent of that passion. The last year of his life was,
as is well known, sweetened by the admiration and devotion of the young
and beautiful woman who, though German born, made her appearance as
a French authoress under the pseudonym of Camille Selden.[1]

[1] Meissner: _Erinnerungen an Heinrich Heine_. Camille Selden: _Les
derniers jours de Henri Heine_, 1884.

She was then about twenty-eight, blue-eyed, fair-haired, and so
charming, gentle, and attractive, that she won Heine's heart the first
time she visited him. Soon he could not live without her; he was
miserable if a few days passed without his seeing her, though he was
often in such pain that he was obliged to request her to delay her

It is in the poems and letters to her, published after Heine's death,
that we find that fervency, depth, and fulness of passion which we feel
to be wanting in the rest of his love poetry.

He calls her his spiritually affianced bride, whose life is bound
up with his by the will of fate. United, they would have known what
happiness is; separated, they are doomed to misery:

   "Ich weiss es jetzt. Bei Gott! du bist es,
    Die ich geliebt. Wie bitter ist es,
    Wenn im Momente des Erkennens
    Die Stunde schlägt des ew'gen Trennens!
    Der Willkomm ist zu gleicher Zeit
    Ein Lebewohl!"[2]


    I know it now. By heaven! 'tis thou
    Whom I have loved. How bitter now,
    The moment we are joined for ever,
    To find the hour when we must sever!
    The welcome must at once give way
    To sad farewell!

Half laughing, half weeping, he bemoans the compulsory platonic
affection of two lovers, to whom an embrace is an impossibility:

   "Worte! Worte! keine Thaten!
      Niemals Fleisch, geliebte Puppe,
    Immer Geist und keinen Braten,
      Keine Knödel in der Suppe!"[3]


    Words, empty words, and never deeds!
      No roast for us, my puppet sweet,
    Not even dumplings in the soup;
      A feast of mind, but not of meat!

When, at a rare time, she keeps him waiting, he is frantic with

   "Lass mich mit glüh'nden Zangen kneipen,
      Lass grausam schinden mein Gesicht,
    Lass mich mit Ruthen peitschen, stäupen--
      Nur warten, warten lass mich nicht!"[4]


    With red-hot irons scar my flesh,
      Pinch me with pincers glowing hot,
    Or have me heat with many stripes--
      But oh! to wait compel me not!

But the great mystic poem which celebrates the nuptials of the dead
poet with the passion-flower that blossoms on his grave, is a poem of
resignation, resignation in the presence of Death:

   "Du warst die Blume, du geliebtes Kind,
    An deinen Küssen musst' ich dich erkennen.
    So zärtlich keine Blumenlippen sind,
    So feurig keine Blumenthränen brennen.

    Geschlossen war mein Aug', doch angeblickt
    Hat meine Seel' beständig dein Gesichte,
    Du sahst mich an, beseeligt und verzückt
    Und geisterhaft beglänzt vom Mondenlichte."[5]

[5] Thou wast that flower, beloved! I knew thee by thy kisses; no
flower lips kiss so tenderly, no flower tears burn so scorchingly. My
eyes were fast closed, but my soul gazed steadfastly upon thy face; and
in the moonlight's ghostly sheen, blissful and trembling, thou did'st
return my gaze.

These images, these feelings, belong to an insubstantial world, a world
like the blind man's, where there are kisses, but not from visible
lips, and tears which fall from unseen eyes, a world fragrant with the
perfume of flowers that cannot be touched, and illuminated by magic,
spirit-like moonshine instead of the light of the sun. There is no
substantiality and there is no sound:

   "Wir sprachen nicht, jedoch mein Herz vernahm
    Was du verschwiegen dachtest im Gemüthe--
    Das ausgesprochene Wort ist ohne Scham,
    Das Schweigen ist der Liebe keusche Blüthe."[6]

[6] We said not a word, but my heart felt all thy unspoken
thoughts--the spoken word is a shameless thing, silence is love's
chaste blossom.

They held noiseless converse, but what they talked of we are forbidden
to ask:

   "Frag, was er strahlet, den Karfunkelstein,
    Frag, was sie duften, Nachtviol' und Rosen--
    Doch frage nie, wovon im Mondenschein
    Die Marterblume und ihr Todter kosen!"[7]

[7] Ask the ruby to explain its fiery glow, ask violet and rose
to analyse their perfume, but never seek to know of what the
passion-flower and her dead lover talk so caressingly in the pale

Heine rises here to a level with Shelley, the sublimest of modern lyric
poets. This is Shelley's note--the violin strain of an Ariel, clear and
spirit-like and full, and entirely modern in its trembling, thrilling,
almost morbid tenderness.



Börne and many later critics have maintained that Heine was never in
earnest about anything, and have condemned him accordingly. Setting
aside slighter and unimportant causes, Börne's resentment was really
aroused by what appeared to him to be Heine's determination not to
espouse the cause of any party. He himself, as far as it was possible
in those unparliamentary days, was an extreme partyman in literature.

It is now a generally accepted, trite axiom, that art is its own
aim and end, but then people were accustomed to look upon it as the
handmaid of the great general aims of the day; and in all German
literary productions of that period, important and unimportant, we feel
exactly what it was that induced the writer to take up his pen. Even an
author as strongly actuated by a purpose as Heine was, did not satisfy
those who, like Börne, lived for their convictions. They applied to him
the expression "talented but characterless" ("wohl ein Talent, aber
kein Charakter"), which he ridicules so unmercifully in _Atta Troll_.
Even in the introduction he alludes jestingly to the consolation for
the great majority which is contained in the doctrine that respectable
people are as a rule bad musicians, while, to make up for this, good
musicians are anything but respectable people--and every one knows that
respectability and not music is the important thing in this world.

Elsewhere Heine maintains that it is, as a rule, a sign of a man's
narrowmindedness when he is straightway discerned and held in high
esteem by the narrow-minded majority as a man of character; the chief
reason for such distinction being that a narrow, superficial, but
always consistent philosophy of life is what the multitude most easily

Stoic firmness was assuredly not one of the qualities of Heine's
nature. Allowing that in certain given circumstances he showed want of
character, we proceed to what is really the vital question: Ought the
poet to be a party-man?

At the time when Heine was jeering in _Atta Troll_ at those who in
their philanthropic and political ardour imagined strength of character
to be a sufficient substitute for talent, a serious literary war
was being waged in Germany over the question whether the poet ought
to be a party-man or to take up a position superior to all parties.
_Atta Troll_, which pours such ridicule on Freiligrath's youthful
poems, appeared in the autumn of 1841; in November of the same year
Freiligrath, who till then had been best known by oriental poems in
Victor Hugo's style, and who had a short time previously accepted
a pension from the King of Prussia, wrote, in a poem entitled _Año
Spanien_ (on Diego Leon, the Spanish general shot in 1841) the
following lines on the poet as such:

   "Er beugt sein Knie dem Helden Bonaparte,
    Und hört mit Zürnen d'Enghien's Todesschrei:
    Der Dichter steht auf einer höhern Warte
    Als auf den Zinnen der Partei."[1]

This sentiment was condemned by Georg Herwegh in the poem _Die Partei
(an Ferdinand Freiligrath_), the most striking lines of which are:

   "Partei! Partei! wer sollte sie nicht nehmen,
    Die noch die Mutter aller Siege war!
    Wie mag ein Dichter solch ein Wort verfehmen,
    Ein Wort, das alles Herrliche gebar!
    Nur offen wie ein Mann: Für oder wider?
    Und die Parole: Sklave oder frei?
    Selbst Götter stiegen vom Olymp hernieder
    Und kämpften auf den Zinnen der Partei."[2]

A year later, in his poem _Duett der Pensionirten_, Herwegh taunted
Freiligrath with accepting a pension from the King of Prussia,
whereupon Freiligrath, as is well known, threw up his pension, joined
the ranks of the political poets, and developed so rapidly into a
Radical and revolutionary, that at the time of the outbreak in 1848, he
was looked upon as the representative revolutionary poet in Germany. It
is plain, then, that Freiligrath considered Herwegh to be in the right.
Still this does not prove him to have been so.

The question whether and to what extent the poet ought to be a
party-man is a very complex one. It is so in the first instance because
of the ambiguity of the word party, a word which Heine and Börne,
Freiligrath and Herwegh employed with a different meaning at different

The poet, even if he is a small-minded man, can only lose by pinning
his faith to any narrow, political, party programme, to any social or
religious theory. How is it possible that his ideals should exactly
correspond with the limited, definite aims of any party! Thomas Moore
was a Whig poet, Walter Scott a Tory poet, because, with all their
great talent, they were not great minds. Byron went more to the
root of things than either of them, or than either of the political
parties--yet every one instinctively feels that it is absurd to say
that Byron, as a poet, did not take a side in politics or religion. He
did so even more markedly than Schiller, who also could not be said to
belong to any political party, for one reason because there were none
in the Germany of his day.

There are certain branches of literature which plainly have nothing
to do with party. The poet of love, as such, belongs to no political
or religious party; though it is not impossible that he may belong to
an art party, for as soon as there is any question of style in art,
we at once encounter party again. But the moment he begins to treat a
theme in which there is any trace of theory, of thought, of fundamental
principle, he is obliged to choose his side, to rank himself among the
disciples of this or that philosophy of life.

When, however, as in Freiligrath's case, we have simply an assertion of
the poet's right to admire Napoleon and yet to be incensed by the death
of d'Enghien, party does not come into question at all; for all that is
meant is, that the poet has not dispossessed himself of his right to
judge the past with equity and to see the vices as well as the virtues
of his heroes. The question of party, strictly so called, is not a
question of the judging of the past, but of the shaping of the future;
and no man can proceed in two directions at the same time.

Another difficulty presents itself to us in the word party. It means,
generally speaking, part of the population of one's own country. And
the poet ought to belong to his country and his people, not only to
part of them. Looked upon in this light, party is the narrower, country
the wider conception, and if by party an actual political party,
corresponding more or less perfectly to its name or its programme, is
meant, then as a matter of course country is superior to party.

But if we take the word party in the sense in which we use it when we
speak of Schiller and of Byron as party-men, then party is a wider,
a grander conception than country. For by country we understand a
definitely bounded tract of land, definitely limited interests, a
definitely circumscribed history; but by party in this sense we
understand a system of ideas which, from their very nature, are not
confined to any place--world-wide thoughts, the great general interests
of humanity. And even if the party sided with represents only the great
moving ideas of one age, an age is a wider, greater native land than
a country; and the poet does his people a service by extending their
horizon beyond their country's bounds.

Börne and Heine were, in my opinion, both strong party-men, but none
the less both zealous patriots, their patriotism quite uninjured by
their partisanship.

The official press of the day proclaimed Börne to be not only a mad
Radical, but a libeller of his country. He had the dangerous habit of
expressing all his opinions in such violent terms that they offended,
wounded, or incited to action. There was an outcry of indignation when
he wrote that any nation had a right to depose its king even if it
were only because it had taken a dislike to the shape of his nose. And
whole volumes of invective were called forth by his observations on the
servility (_Bedientennatur_) of the Germans. He had gone so far as to
call them "a nation of flunkeys."

He himself writes: "What can I do with people who really seriously
believe that I have advised the nations of Europe to depose their
kings as soon as they take a dislike to their noses.... If I were to
say: Gentlemen! I did not mean you to take me so literally, they would
perhaps believe me--but that would avail me nothing. They would say:
You ought to have remembered that you do not write for educated readers
only, but that a large proportion of your readers are uneducated men.
To this I would answer nothing but: Take me to prison! Then when I was
brought into court I would say: Gentlemen! The German is a crocodile!
(Cries of indignation. Crocodile! Order!) Gentlemen! The German is a
crocodile! (Order! Judge: You are abusing your right of self-defence.)
Gentlemen! The German is a crocodile--I beg of you to allow me to
continue. When I use the word crocodile I am not hinting at savage
instincts or crocodile tears. The German is tame and good-natured,
and weeps tears that are as sincere as the tears of a whipped child.
If I have applied the name of crocodile to the German, it is only on
account of his skin, which does resemble that of the crocodile. It
consists of hard scales, and is like a slated roof. Anything solid
that falls upon it rebounds, anything liquid runs off. Suppose, now,
gentlemen, that you wished to mesmerise such a crocodile, with the
final intention of curing his weak nerves, but in the first instance of
making him so clear sighted that he could see inside himself, discover
his own disease, and find out the proper remedy for it. How would you
set about it? Would you gently stroke the crocodile coat-of-mail with
your warm hand? No, you would not be so foolish; you know that would
make no impression on it. You would stamp on it, drive nails into it,
and if that were not enough, you would fire a hundred bullets at it,
calculating that ninety-nine of them would take no effect, and that
the hundredth would bring about just the mild, modest results your
mesmerism was intended to produce. This is what I have done."[3]

One sees that Börne's strong language on the subject of German
servility and indolence is simply the negative expression of his
patriotism. It is a patriotism which as a rule finds only indirect
expression, but we feel it as distinctly in his melancholy derision as
in the enthusiastic demonstrations of others.

As regards Heine, Börne's charges were, no doubt, to a certain extent
well founded. The versatile poet's temperament made the monotonous
struggle for a political conviction hard for him, and he was, as
we have already shown, drawn two ways and rendered vague in his
utterances by feeling himself to be at one and the same time a popular
revolutionist and an enthusiastic aristocrat. But his objection to
connecting himself with any of the existing political or religious
parties was more a proof of his high intellectual standard than of
anything else. His raillery in _Atta Troll_ at the canting preachers of
the Opposition is delightful and perfectly justifiable; it only shows
that he abhorred dogmatism in all its forms.

Börne is wrong in assuming that Heine, the man, was false to his
party, taking that word in its greater, wider, signification, namely,
the ideas for which he contended. For to these he was faithful, even
throughout the eight long years when he lay on his deathbed, with
difficulty opening his paralysed eyelids to look for God in that heaven
whose emptiness he himself had so sadly and defiantly described.

And Heine was as true a patriot as Börne. Every reader of his
works must remember the beautiful passage at the conclusion of the
_Reisebilder_, in which he tells how the Emperor Maximilian sate in
sore straits in the Tyrol, encompassed by his enemies, forgotten by his
knights and courtiers. Suddenly the door of his prison cell was opened,
and there entered a man in disguise, whom the Emperor recognised as
Kunz von der Rosen, his faithful court jester.

I feel it to be not only beautiful but true when Heine says: "O German
fatherland! beloved German people! I am thy Kunz von der Rosen. The
man whose only business it was to amuse thee, to cater for thy mirth
in times of prosperity, makes his way into thy prison in time of need.
Here, under my cloak, I bring thee thy strong sceptre and thy beautiful
crown--dost thou not recognise me, my Emperor? ... Thou liest in
fetters now, but in the end thy rightful cause will prevail; the day of
deliverance is at hand, a new time is beginning, my Emperor, the night
is over; look out and see the ruddy dawn."

If we beware of attaching too much importance to single expressions, to
the wanton or arrogant outbursts scattered here and there throughout
his works, we shall perceive that the feeling which finds classic
expression in the words just quoted was very strong in Heine's breast.
Neither his party standpoint, nor the admiration of things foreign
which it entailed, affected a very sincere, deep love of his native
land, which made exile in many ways a punishment to him. But he had
not the kind of patriotism which he somewhere ascribes to the average
German, the kind that narrows the heart, makes it shrink like leather
in the cold. His was the patriotism that warms the heart and widens it
until it is able to embrace the whole realm of civilization.[4] How
could he help loving Germany! As he himself has said, and as we all
must say each of his own country: "The truth is--Germany is ourselves."
His whole nature and character were determined by his German birth and
upbringing. The second half of his life being spent in an exile that
was partly voluntary, partly compulsory--in so far a homeless man, that
his works were prohibited throughout the German Confederation--the
German language became to him a true, a grander, a real fatherland. He
himself called the German tongue the most sacred of all possessions,
the unsilenceable call to liberty, a new fatherland for him whom
stupidity or malice has banished from the land of his birth.

[1] He bows the knee to Bonaparte, the hero, yet d'Enghien's death-cry
arouses his wrath: the poet observes from a higher watch-tower than the
battlements of party.

[2] What! not a party man! Is not strong party feeling the mother of
all victory? How can a poet calumniate the word in which lies the germ
of all the noblest deeds? Speak out like a man: Are you for or against
us? Is your watchword slavery or freedom? The Gods themselves descended
from Olympus and fought on the battlements of party.

[3] _Letter from Paris_, Dec. 15, 1831.

[4] Heine: _Werke_, vi. 51. _Cf_. xiv. 45, and xiii. 16.



All who are familiar with Heine's works or letters are aware of the
warm friendship and brotherhood in arms that united him in his youth to
Karl Immermann. He proposed to Immermann to insert some of his epigrams
in the _Reisebilder_, and as a matter of fact there are several pages
of them in the book between the divisions _Norderney_ and _Das Buch Le
Grand_. They satirise various literary personages and events of the
day. The attacks on those writers who imitated Oriental forms of poetry
incensed Platen, and induced him to write his dramatic satire, _Der
romantische Oedipus_, which in its turn called forth Heine's well-known

It was very curious that Platen, in his irritation, should with one
blow stamp as Romanticists the two men who, each in his own way, did
so much (more than Platen himself) to unswathe from the wrappings of
Romanticism a new spirit, a new art--the spirit, the art of modern

Karl Immermann (born in 1796) was three years older than Heine. He was
the son of a correct, austere Government official in Magdeburg, and was
himself a man of strong character and solid culture, early imbued with
that old Prussian spirit of which there was not a trace in Heine. They
were contrasts in almost everything.

Immermann fought in the battle of Waterloo as a volunteer, entered
Paris with the army, afterwards retired with the rank of an officer,
and studied law at the University of Halle. His strong feeling of
justice led him into disputes with the powerful students' union,
Teutonia, which had usurped a kind of moral authority over all the
students, and enforced its principles, especially that of purity of
life, in a domineering, brutal fashion. For several years he continued
to oppose the practices of the Union, and more than once during this
time was obliged to invoke the power of the law to protect him from the
insults and persecution to which he was subjected by his antagonists.
The consequence of this was that he was hated by the great majority as
an informer--the more so as the political reactionaries took advantage
of this opposition to the traditional malpractices of the students'
unions, to attack, and, where it was possible, suppress the unions, a
proceeding for which Immermann was in no way responsible. From this
time onwards he stood alone. Much in his character, much of its dryness
and peculiarity, had its origin in this isolation, which also favoured
the development of pride and self-esteem.

[Illustration: IMMERMANN]

In 1819, Immermann was given a Government appointment (that of
_Divisionsauditor_), in the town of Münster, in Westphalia, an old,
strictly Catholic, provincial town, where at first he felt himself out
of sympathy with every one and everything. But here, ere long, he made
acquaintance with the woman who was to be the most powerful influence
in his life.

Elisa von Lützow was the wife of Brigadier-General Adolf von Lützow,
the famous leader of the volunteer corps celebrated in Körner's song.
By birth she was a Dane, a Countess Ahlefeldt-Laurvig of Tranekjær
in the island of Langeland. When Immermann first saw her she was
twenty-nine, and, according to the testimony of her contemporaries,
a most fascinating woman, graceful, charming, intelligent, of
aristocratic bearing, and yet genial. From her earliest youth she had
made a deep impression on the men who came within her sphere.

She had grown up the supposed heiress of great wealth, but in an
unhappy home; her father and mother had become estranged from each
other, and about the time she was fourteen they separated. Count
Ahlefeldt, a favourite of Frederick VI., was a pleasure-loving man, a
pasha with a constantly changing harem; he was a patron of music and
of the drama, kept a private orchestra, and entertained companies of
French and German actors at Tranekjær; so hospitable and recklessly
extravagant was he that even his great wealth could not stand the drain
upon it. What brought Elisa and Immermann together was her applying to
him for legal advice when her father not only refused to make over to
her what had been left her by her mother, who had died in 1812, but
also to pay the yearly income which he had settled upon her.

Count Ahlefeldt long refused his consent to his daughter's marriage
with the poor and as yet undistinguished foreign officer, but he gave
it in 1810, and when, in 1813, the youth of Prussia joyfully and
enthusiastically rose to arms at the call of Frederick William III.,
and Lützow formed the famous volunteer corps known by his name, his
wild and daring riflemen (_die wilde, verwegene Jagd_) found their
Valkyrie in their leader's beautiful wife, who was worshipped by the
whole regiment as a superior being. Elisa, who appears to have spoken
German from her childhood, felt herself at home on German soil, became
a faithful daughter of her new fatherland, and identified herself with
its interests. She inspirited the brave, nursed the wounded with heroic
devotion, was the confidante, helper, and comforter of the best among
the young men. After a victory, the choicest of the booty was always
presented to her. The lieutenant who first stepped into Napoleon's
captured carriage after the fight at Belle-Alliance brought her, as a
remembrance, a pair of gloves and two glasses of the Emperor's.

After the conclusion of peace she lived with her husband in the
different garrison towns to which he was transferred. In 1817 they came
to Münster. The stiff, narrow-minded, bigoted tone of its society was
antipathetic to her; but here, as elsewhere, she gathered round her
a circle of enthusiastic admirers, who were charmed by her taste and
by the keen intelligence which she displayed, without being a great
talker--sometimes only by a smile and a nod.

To Immermann she was like a revelation from a higher, nobler world,
for which in his lonely, joyless life he had been longing. Lützow's
quarters were in a castle-like building that had been a convent, with
high windows and great folding doors. Here, surrounded by flowers,
statues, books, birds, dogs, and admirers, she seemed like a noble
lady of olden days, or one of those princesses of the Renaissance who
attracted poets to their courts and inspired them.

With the year 1825 came a great change in Elisa's life. The
good-natured and chivalrous but volatile and impressionable Lützow fell
so violently in love with an insignificant flirt that he requested his
wife to set him at liberty again. This she was not prepared to do; but
after she happened to overhear Lützow remark to a friend that when he
was quite young he had made up his mind to marry a great heiress, a new
light was thrown upon the determination he had shown in their early
days to win her, and her feelings towards him changed. Her pride was
hurt; she presently informed him that she would no longer stand in the
way of his happiness, and agreed to a divorce, the reason of which she
kept secret.

Not an angry word passed between husband and wife. The divorce was
pronounced in April 1825. Both before and after it Lützow wrote Elisa
letters which testify to a most friendly feeling and warm admiration.
It was an unlucky day for him when he took the step which separated
them. He was universally blamed, and when it came to the point, his
capricious enslaver would have nothing to say to him. He repented his
delusion when it was too late. Some years afterwards, in order to make
a home for himself again, he married his brother's widow, but this
lady's temper was so bad that it made the last years of his life most

The divorce left Elisa homeless and solitary, and this led to
gradually increasing intimacy with young Immermann, who saw in her his
ideal, and was passionately desirous to make her his wife. But Elisa
shuddered at the thought of a second marriage; the disillusionments
of her wedded life had disgusted her with matrimony in general, and
she reflected, moreover, that she was six years older than the young
poet. When Immermann, in 1827, was promoted to the appointment of
_Landesgerichtsrath_ in Düsseldorf, he passionately urged her to
accompany him there. She agreed to do this, though she again refused to
marry him; both, however, vowed never to think of marriage with any one

The lovers inhabited a country house in the village of Derendorf, close
to Düsseldorf, where they had their separate suites of apartments. This
house, which lay in a great rose garden, they decorated with exquisite
taste, and here they lived a full and happy life for a number of years.
Düsseldorf was at that time the resort of many of the best artists in
Germany, painters like Schadow, Lessing, Hildebrandt. Thither, too,
came poets (like Grabbe), composers (Mendelssohn), art amateurs, and
critics from all parts. Immermann's and Elisa von Ahlefeldt's house was
a rendezvous for all these. In Elisa's circle in Münster, Immermann
had distinguished himself as a clever reader of dramatic works; here
he continued to give semipublic readings of the same description.
This gradually developed a desire on his part to manage a theatre.
He rehearsed a number of trial plays with the Düsseldorf theatrical
company; artists from other parts came to his assistance; the great
actor, Seydelmann from Berlin, played Nathan; Felix Mendelssohn put two
operas on the stage for him and directed the performance.

Elisa's father died in 1832. She did not inherit all the wealth that in
her youth was expected to be her portion, but the cousin who succeeded
to her father's title and property settled a handsome annuity on her.
She and Immermann now travelled together--on the Rhine, to Dresden,
in Holland; a tour which Immermann took alone is described in his
_Reisejoumal_, which consists entirely of the letters he wrote to
Elisa. Everything else was written beside her, and subjected to her
affectionate but frequently severe criticism.

After an existence of three years, Immermann's theatre, failing to
obtain state aid, had to be closed. This was a great grief to him. He
sought to distract himself by a tour in Franconian Switzerland. His
_Fränkische Reise,_ the description of this tour, also consists of
letters to Elisa. They were the last he wrote her. For during this
absence he met, in Magdeburg, a girl of nineteen, Marianne Niemeyer
by name, who made a very strong impression on him. When he rejoined
Elisa he once more, to her surprise, asked her to marry him. As before,
she refused. It would seem as if he had been pretty certain of the
answer he would receive, and only desired to salve his conscience.
For immediately afterwards, unknown to Elisa, he began a lively
correspondence with Marianne, proposed to her, and was accepted. Elisa
heard of his engagement from others, and at once resolved to leave
Düsseldorf. She did so in August 1839, Immermann accompanying her and
the friend with whom she travelled as far as Cologne. Till this time,
in spite of her forty-nine years, she had retained her beauty; now she
suddenly grew old. In October 1839 Immermann married; in August 1840 he
died. Elisa survived him fifteen years.[1]

It is quite obvious that the connection with Elisa, which for so many
years was pleasurable and helpful to Immermann, in the end became
burdensome to him. But it is unwarrantable to assert (as Goedeke
has done) that it was the breaking off of this connection and his
subsequent lawful marriage which first gave Immermann the creative
vigour which he displayed in his last important work, _Münchhausen_. It
was conceived and executed under Elisa's influence to quite the same
extent as his other works.

Her personality and the position in which he stood to her often and in
many ways influenced his writings. She is supposed to have suggested
his drama, _Petrarca_, which treats of Petrarch's love of Laura,
and represents the irresistible strength of a passion inspired by a
high-born lady even when the said lady is not free. Her views on the
subject of love, and its unqualified justification as such, are said to
be recognisable in the drama, _Cardenio und Celinde_. She was probably
his model for the heroine of the comedy, _Du schelmische Gräfin_, and
certainly the model for Johanne in the novel _Die Epigonen_. But all
this is as nothing in comparison with the general development and
refining influence which she exerted over him as an author.

Immermann's is a curious fame. Of all his works only one is still read,
his novel, _Münchhausen_; and only one part of this novel, the smaller
half of it (now separated from the rest and published by itself), will
carry his name down to posterity. This one small volume is in reality
of more value than all the rest of his work.

In its construction, _Münchhausen_, following the general rule of the
Romantic tales, was intentionally disorderly; the book begins, for
example, with the eleventh chapter. The hero, a Westphalian baron, is
a descendant of the old lying Münchhausen, and, like him, a fantastic
liar. The whole was meant to be a sort of satiric repertory of the
various humbugs and nonsensicalities of the day, amongst which the
author's humour might play at will. But out of all this irregular
play of fancy, which corresponds to the title _Eine Geschichte in
Arabesken_, there was gradually developed the great rural romance
which has taken a place in German literature under the name of _Der
Oberhof_. Its principal characters, the village magistrate (_der
Hofschulze_) and the fair-haired Lisbeth, represent a new truth, a new
creative art. They live and move on "the red soil" of Westphalia, and
in their persons the German peasant is for the first time introduced
into literature without the sentimentality of the pastoral idyll or the
distortion of the opera ballet, undoubtedly conventionalised, but with
caste and race individuality. There is a vigorous, fresh naturalness
about these characters, which will never grow old.

_Der Oberhof_ has taken its place as the original type of all the
European peasant tales, and in certain points it is superior to any of
them, old-fashioned in many ways as it now seems. Hundreds of fantastic
threads connect this admirable story with the romance of Romanticism,
but it is easy to cut them, and then we have before us as it were
the hard crystal into which Romanticism finally condensed itself in
Immermann's mind.

It is the custom nowadays to regard the peasant tale as a direct
offshoot of Romanticism. Yet it undoubtedly, both in France and in the
North, marked the transition to an art which, was more true to nature
than the Romantic.

It signified a complete change of sphere in German art when Immermann
gave up writing historical or fantastic dramas in iambic verse, the
scenes of which were laid in countries which he had never seen,
and portrayed ordinary human life in the little known province of
Westphalia, where he had lived and exercised the functions of a
judge. There were no railways in the Westphalia of those days, and no
manufactures; but it was a country of patriarchal, wholesome manners
and customs, and he had only to represent it with the faithfulness
which illuminates, to produce an effect infinitely surpassing that of
any of the earlier arbitrary creations of his poetic imagination.

The wealthy peasant landowner, who is the principal personage in this
story, is the prototype of all the sturdy, independent farmers of
the German peasant tales, and of many in those of other countries.
Excellent as many of Auerbach's characters of this type are, he
surpasses them all in what may be called the historic greatness which
is imparted to this character by the intimate relation which we feel
to exist between it and the far back past of the country. This peasant
appears on the background of traditions still in force, which link the
present with almost forgotten times.

He is a genuine peasant. He is not in the least amiable; he has had
no time to cultivate amiability; from his boyhood, life has been too
hard to allow of that. His distinguishing qualities are sound common
sense, seriousness, obstinacy, pride of position, and permissible
self-interest. There is a granite-like foundation to his character. He
has the true peasant shrewdness, not to say shiftiness, in business;
he is always ready to advise his neighbours how best to hold their own
against the authorities when any forced sale of land is threatened,
always on his guard against emissaries of the government, even
when their mission is the construction of new roads or some such
improvement; he is cold in his family relations, and has all the
prejudices of the rustic.

And yet he is great. He rules, and he always carries his point. He
not only reigns over his own large estate like the stern, patriarchal
kings of old, upholding good old customs, keeping his eye on every
one and everything, admonishing in proverbs, rewarding with the
honour of retention in his service; but, unquestionably the superior
of all his neighbours, he has induced them to regard him as their
leader, and has quietly, without disturbance or revolt of any kind,
led them to free themselves from the supremacy of state authorities
and to rule themselves under him as a sort of judge of the old Jewish
type. In his district both law-suits and criminal cases are unknown;
no one goes to law with his neighbour; no one is ever accused of a
crime; one might take it to be an oasis of innocence and peace. It
is far from being that; but since medieval times the secret courts
of justice (_Vehmgerichte_) have existed here, and the peasants,
under the influence of this great peasant, have agreed to uphold
these, and thus privately provide for the maintenance of equity and
justice among themselves. They assemble secretly at night in a lonely
place and settle their own disputes. The sentences are accepted and
executed without dispute. The only punishment awarded is a sort of
excommunication of the malefactor, which is as severe a chastisement as
any that could be imposed by a state judge. A peasant whom all avoid,
whom no one will help, with whom no one will have any dealings, suffers
from almost as strict isolation as the man confined in a prison cell.

As a symbol of his power and dignity the old "Hofschulze" treasures a
sword, which he believes to be what tradition calls it, the sword of
Charlemagne, and which he regards as his most precious possession. His
hand is on its hilt when he pronounces judgment. This sword, which was
dug up somewhere in the neighbourhood, is really a perfectly common
weapon, possibly two hundred years old; and we have an admirable
description of how the old farmer is at times tormented by doubts of
its antiquity, doubts which, with his peasant shrewdness, he tries to
dispose of once for all. He tempts an antiquarian in the neighbourhood
with the sight of a beautiful amphora, and then obliges him to give in
payment for it a written certification that the sword had undoubtedly
belonged to Charlemagne.

The tragic catastrophe of the story is brought about in this way. A
man who is now a vagrant had, in consequence of an intrigue with the
daughter of the "Hofschulze," been attacked by her brother and had
killed him in self-defence. This vagabond, to revenge himself on the
"Hofschulze" for the sentence of excommunication which has ruined his
life, steals the sword and hides it where no one can find it. The loss
breaks the old man's spirit. All the mysteries of the secret court of
justice are divulged, and he is obliged to stand his trial.

Granted permission to make a last speech, he says: "Your Worship! I
have no doubt that the clerk is noting me down in his minutes as a
fool, and my sword and secret judgment-seat as foolery; for so, if
I mistake not, I heard the young gentleman call the things that lie
nearest to my heart. I would fain give some explanation regarding this
foolery." And he goes on to say how, ever since he could think, he has
observed that, after calamities such as hailstorms, floods, failure of
crops, or cattle-plague, some of those gentlemen came to the district
who not only understand how to write reports, but also how to judge
everything much better than the people concerned; they described the
calamity after it was past, but were never there at the time to help;
and if a little money happened to be sent, it never reached those who
needed it most. "One thing was more astonishing than all else. One
or other of these government gentlemen would order things so in the
district that we peasants could not refrain from laughing at it all.
In a year or two the same gentleman would come driving in a carriage
and four, with all kinds of ribbons and orders on his breast, looking
as if he had helped to create the world. Thinking over all this in my
plain way, I came to the conclusion that the government gentlemen were
of little service to us peasants; nor did they come to do us service;
they came to write, and they wrote until they wrote themselves into a
carriage and four.... And then I thought (for all my life I have been
given to thinking) that a steady, industrious man will always get on
if he watches the wind and the weather, and attends to his business
and is a good neighbour.... And first I accustomed myself, even in
times of trouble, never to think of help; I paid my taxes and bore my
own burdens ... and then I accustomed my neighbours to do the same.
They followed my example; we settled our own affairs among ourselves,
and many matters about which much ado would have been made elsewhere,
were never heard of beyond the bounds of the parish.... By degrees
we came to settling everything. A peasant has understanding enough to
tell who has the best claim to a certain wall or strip of meadow. And
when a house has been broken into, the village nearly always knows who
has been the thief; but because it is not always possible to bring
sufficient proof, a man well known to be a rascal may impudently and
scandalously show his face and enjoy his booty, which its rightful
owner never recovers. So we quietly took the law into our hands, and no
one could accuse us of anything, for we injured no man; we only refused
to hold any communication whatsoever with the evildoers whom we placed
under the ban; and of this ban men were more afraid than of the judge's
sentence and prison."

"And," he concludes, "if other people would but do the same, if the
townsmen, the merchants, the noblemen, the scholars, would but manage
their own affairs, things would be better than they are. Men would no
longer be like stupid children, for ever crying for father and mother,
but every man would be like a prince in his own house and among his
equals. And the king himself would then be a far mightier monarch, a
ruler like no other, for he would rule over hundreds of thousands of

We have the feeling at the end of the story that, now the secret is
divulged and the sword stolen, the days of popular justice are at an
end. But the author gives us his own opinion on this subject by the
mouth of the wise pastor, who declares that the independence which
is the watch-word of this peasant and his friends is a reality which
cannot be done away with by being divulged, that the idea which has
united them, the idea that a man is dependent on his neighbours, not
on strangers who stand in a perfectly artificial relation to him, does
not require the support of the tribunal under the old lime-tree. In the
peasant farmer himself, the mighty old yeoman, he sees the true sword
of Charlemagne, which no thief can steal, the true backbone of the

Observe that this is written by an author who was a magistrate and the
son of a Prussian government official.

A marked contrast to the strong, stern figure of the old peasant, but
drawn with as sure a hand, is Lisbeth, the fair-haired, country girl
who is the heroine of the tale. Young Count Oswald, who wanders about
the country shooting, falls in love with her, and it is the eventful
love-story of these two young people which forms the chief attraction
of the book. Immermann had in his writings long shown himself to be a
firm believer in the unbounded power of love over humanity, but here
he tells the story of young love as he had never done before. We have
the beat and glow of two innocent young hearts. The youth and maiden
meet, full of budding, swelling, healthy presentiments and hopes. No
renunciation or disappointment has as yet cooled one drop of their warm
blood. The distance between them is bridged over in an original manner.
The young sportsman, who has inherited from his parents a taste for
shooting, along with absolute incapacity to hit anything, for once in
his life succeeds in setting his mark on a living creature; he lodges a
whole charge of small shot in the girl's shoulder. The shame and regret
he feels give place in time to ardent love. When she has recovered and
the two have discovered that they love each other, they go together one
day into the wood.

"'I want to ask your wounds to forgive me,' he said--undid her
kerchief, and kissed the small red spots between her breast and her
white shoulder. She did not resist; her little hands lay folded on her
lap, and she sat quite still, a resigned victim of love; but she looked
at him bashfully, entreatingly. He could not bear that look; he quickly
covered breast and shoulders again with the kerchief, fell at her feet,
pressed her knees to his heart, and then walked away a few steps to
overcome his emotion."

This suffers in translation. It must be read as it occurs in the
original, this little field idyll, in which the lovers play like
children; she stands up against him that he may measure her height; he
plays with her curls; from time to time she gently whispers: "O du!"
but this is all she can say; they make a meal on apples and bread,
which they buy from a woman they meet, agreeing that novel writers lie
when they assert that love lives on air; she eats from his hand and he
from hers. It is all as natural and as good as anything of the same
style in Auerbach, Keller, or Björnson.

And Immermann's description of the sorrows of love is no less
admirable. Nothing in the book surpasses the passage in which the old
farmer tells Lisbeth that her lover is a young nobleman, and makes
her understand that she must not expect him to marry her. Oswald
has concealed his position and given himself out to be an ordinary
forester, only with the intention of giving her a joyful surprise
later. If she had taken time to think, she would have come to the
conclusion that she need have no fear of his proving unfaithful.
But the knowledge that her lover has lied is a blow that upsets her
equilibrium, and Immermann profoundly remarks, "For love, as long as it
is unshaken, is divine penetration ... but once shaken, once driven to
conjecture and surmise, it is madness, which passes cathedrals without
seeing them and takes molehills for mountains." This is a profound
saying, because it is a true psychological appreciation of a feeling
which is the product of unknown causes. Heine's psychology of love
was very simple; when he complains, it is always of faithlessness as
a wrong knowingly committed. Immermann here represents what may be
called the somnambulistic action of the feeling, the instinct, unerring
as that of the sleep-walker, which it possesses when undistracted by
disturbing forces.

Both in broad outline and in minute detail this first of the peasant
novels is sterling poetry. The influence of fantastic Romanticism
is still distinct; the secret tribunal, the sword of Charlemagne,
the enthusiasm for old customs are Romantic features; even Lisbeth's
fanciful pedigree--the fathering of this truthful young being on
the old liar Münchhausen--betrays that the tale is an outgrowth of
an earlier Romantic literature. All this, however, only throws into
stronger relief the laborious, yet vigorous, process of condensation
by which healthy, modern realistic appreciation and treatment of
popular subjects was evolved out of the arbitrary fantasticality which
immediately preceded it.

Immermann is one of the company of authors, including Daniel Defoe,
l'Abbé Prévost, the Danish poet Wessel, Chamisso, and Bernardin de St.
Pierre, who prove that a single volume is enough to carry a writer's
name down to posterity, even if everything else that he has written
be quickly forgotten. As a matter of fact, only this one work of
Immermann's lives. He wrote mock-heroic poems, such as _Tulifäntchen_,
which was much appreciated in its day, but is now unreadable. He
wrote works which, for their day, must be pronounced meritorious,
but which are now given over to moth and rust, such as the drama
_Merlin_ (1831), a great Romantic work in well-written verse, a sort
of unsuccessful pendant to the Second Part of Goethe's _Faust_ and
the historic tragedy which was first known as _Das Trauerspiel in
Tirol_ ("The Tragedy in the Tyrol"), but was re-named _Andreas Hofer_.
The second of these plays is the better of the two; it is founded on
Immermann's own youthful recollections of the formidable resistance
encountered by the French in the Tyrol, and is written with both the
ability and the will to present a faithful and impartial picture of
the two hostile races, so unlike in their character and in their
development. This work in its original form, as published in 1826,
criticised by Börne in his _Dramaturgische Blätter_, and satirised
by Platen in _Der romantische Oedipus_, is interesting, especially
as a sort of mongrel, the offspring of Kleist's genius mated with
Schiller's muse; for the hero reminds us of Schiller's _Wilhelm Tell_,
and the love affair between the Frenchman and the Tyrolese girl, with
its tragic ending, of Kleist's _Die Hermannschlacht_. But the play
was too devoid of any really profound, impressive originality to live
long, and when, in 1831, Immermann re-wrote it, suppressing everything
that had given offence or called forth adverse criticism--the whole
love-story and the incident (again recalling Kleist) of the sword
which the angel restored to Hofer in a dream--he himself took away
what life there was in it. Pride, if nothing else, should have made
him retain the character which Platen had tauntingly nicknamed the

It was an unlucky chance which made bitter enemies of two lovers of
liberty like Immermann and Platen, and two rare spirits like Platen and
Heine. That which gave rise to the whole literary feud, to the clumsy,
ugly attacks on Immermann and Heine in _Der romantische Oedipus_,
to Immermann's retort, _Der im Irrgarten der Metrik umhertaumelnde
Cavalier_ ("The Reeling Knight in the Labyrinth of Metre"), and to
Heine's crushing attack on Platen in the _Reisebilder_, deadly from its
very stench, was such a paltry trifle, such an insignificant though
contemptuous distich, that only an arrogant and quarrelsome disposition
like Platen's could have made it the occasion of a war with poisoned

Platen's letters show what dire offence he took at the two lines
by Immermann in the _Reisebilder_, which might be construed as
referring to his ghazels, and how determined he was to revenge himself
ruthlessly. Great and serene in the region of pure art, and a manly
champion of political liberty, he displays in his onslaught on the men
who had insulted him, an offensively boastful degree of self-admiration
and an insolence which is partly the arrogance of rank and partly the
recklessness of wounded vanity. His letter from Rome of the 18th of
February 1828, shows that he really knew nothing about Immermann's
_Das Trauerspiel in Tirol_, which he had determined to attack. _Der
romantische Oedipus_ was almost finished when he wrote to Fugger: "Be
sure to tell me something about Immermann's _Andreas Hofer_, something
of the plot and any piquant nonsense. I need it for the end of my Fifth
Act, where I make him go quite mad." The boundless contempt with which
Platen treats Immermann in his play can thus, in spite of his protests,
only be regarded as vindictiveness. As regards Heine, it is simply his
Jewish birth with which Platen taunts him in both letters and play.
In the play everything turns on this--Heine is the Petrarch of the
Feast of Tabernacles, the pride of the synagogue. So personal is the
satire that Nimmermann is made to say, that though he is content to be
Heine's friend, he would not be his mistress, for his kisses reek of
garlic, &c. From Platen's letters it is easy to see that he completely
underestimated the strength of the antagonists whom he thus challenged.
He feels that he is capable of "crushing that Jew, Heine," whenever he
chooses to do so. When his friends try to persuade him that attacks
on Heine because of his birth carry no weight, he replies, quite
unmoved: "That he is, or was, a Jew is no moral offence, but a comical
ingredient. Intelligent readers will judge whether or not I have turned
it to account with Aristophanic cunning." So sure, so superior does
he feel himself, that even in December 1828, immediately before he is
utterly discomfited by Heine's return blow, he sees in him nothing but
"an impudent Jew, a miserable scribbler and sans-culotte." His moral
indignation at the first books of the _Reisebilder_ was, however, so
great that he calls the author and his like "veritable Satans."[2] The
treatment he met with was not undeserved; scorn was returned for scorn,
and his underestimation of Heine and Immermann was cruelly avenged. The
scurrilous part of Heine's attack injured himself most by exciting the
disapprobation of his own friends and admirers.

The fact that the names Immermann and Platen came to form a
constellation of hate was actually due to the similarity of their
natures, to the feeling of solitariness which, combined with a
self-esteem that was always on the alert, made them prone to proclaim
their own praises and to attack others with undue bitterness and
with insufficient understanding. These two men, each in his own way,
represent the transition from Romanticism to modern liberalism. Platen,
who followed in the footsteps of the Romanticists in his assiduous
cultivation of foreign forms, the oriental ghazel, the southern sonnet,
the ancient Greek Aristophanic comedy and Pindaric ode, shortly before
his early death wrote songs and poems (_Political Poems_, including
the _Polish Songs_--posthumously published) which are on the highest
level of spirited modern lyric poetry. And Immermann, who all his life
had treated tragic or fantastic themes with Romantic extravagance
or symbolism, not long before he died impregnated a piece of homely
reality with a spirit of true poetry by which the following generation
throughout the whole of Europe was influenced.

[1] Ludmilla Assing: _Gräfin Elisa von Ahlefeldt_, 1857.

[2] Platens _Werke_. Letters of 18th February, 12th March, and 13th
December 1828.



It was the Hegelian philosophy, in combination with the Revolution of
July, which drove thinking men to take their part in the stirring life
of modern history and politics. Not that Hegel himself sympathised
with the Revolution of July. Such a violent interference with what to
him now represented the rational state of things, could hardly appeal
to him, in his sixtieth year, as the great Revolution had done. In
politics he had long been a strong Conservative.

But none the less certainly did the Revolution of July change
the character of the Hegelian philosophy. It was the historical
turning point, the historical crisis that was needed to transfer
that philosophy from the lecture-room to the arena of life. One
of the peculiarities of the philosophy was, that it was capable
of diametrically opposite interpretations. From this time onwards
we observe it to be one of the most powerful instruments in the
remoulding, the reconstruction of life. We saw that it was so in the
case of Heine, who never alludes to Hegel's conversion to Prussian
Conservatism except to apologise for it; to him Hegel is always the
great philosopher of the new era, the mighty sovereign of the realm of

[Illustration: HEGEL]

Until Hegel was called to Berlin he had been unsuccessful as a teacher.
He had attracted little attention at the other universities, and in his
younger days had often lectured to only three or four students. Now he
was at the height of his fame. Unlike Schelling, who reached maturity
so early, and became so early barren, Hegel, the man of heavier,
slower nature, entered the most momentous stage of his career with his
forty-eighth year.

Great expectations were formed of him, and he fulfilled them all.
His insight was extraordinary; he seemed thoroughly to belong to his
time, and yet to live as it were above it--familiar with all its ideas
and judging them all with calm superiority and profound conviction.
Hundreds upon hundreds of listeners streamed to his lecture-room.

The young student who saw him for the first time thought him an
odd-looking figure. He had aged early, his originally powerful
figure was bent, and the impression he produced when he entered the
lecture-room was that of old-fashioned middle-class respectability. He
went to his desk, seated himself, became absorbed in his manuscript,
turning over the large leaves and looking up and down them for what
he wanted. His carriage was awkward and characterless, his expression
listless, his face worn and wasted, not by passion but by the most
arduous mental labour. But he had a fine, noble head, and when he
turned his face, with a look of profound, dignified, yet simple
earnestness towards his hearers, the imprint of high intellect was

He began to speak, cleared his throat, coughed and stammered, had
difficulty in finding his words. He had a strong Swabian accent, and
a jerky, unrhythmical delivery; involved himself in long, intricate
sentences which he seldom managed to bring to a satisfactory
conclusion; sought long for the exact word required to express his
meaning, but never failed to find it; and when found, it always struck
his hearers as extraordinarily telling, whether it was a perfectly
familiar or a very uncommon expression. In time this peculiar delivery
simply served to make intelligible to the listener the extraordinary
difficulty and intricacy of the mental process. There might be tiresome
repetitions, but if the student let his attention wander and missed a
few sentences, as likely as not he was punished by losing the thread of
the discourse. For by means of apparently insignificant intermediate
steps some thought had been made to betray its one-sidedness,
its narrowness, to involve itself in contradictions, and these
contradictions had to be, or were already, explained away.

What struck one as peculiarly characteristic of his lecturing was
the combination of two features: the speaker's concentration in his
subject, which made it seem as if he spoke entirely for its sake; and
his keen anxiety to make himself plainly understood, which made it seem
as if after all he spoke chiefly for the sake of the hearer.[1]

He was a wretched orator, this professor, but a wonderful thinker and
expounder. The technical terms he employed were bewildering--that
extraordinary terminology in which "an sich" meant according to its
constitution, and "an und für sich," the completed, absolute existence;
but his hearers became accustomed to it, and soon began to feel as if
they were floating above the earth in abstractions so refined and so
ingeniously complementary that the dialectic of Plato's _Parmenides_
seemed clumsy in comparison; at times as if they were penetrating
ever deeper into ever more concrete subjects. The speaker's voice
grew stronger, he looked round with a free, confident glance while,
with a few pregnant words, he characterised an intellectual movement,
an age, a nation, or some specially remarkable individual, such as
that nephew of Rameau's who, without being named, is described in the

The novice who heard the famous thinker propound, without any
illustration, the abstract ideas which applied to everything--spirit
and nature, matter and mind--ideas of which it was said that they
enclosed the seen and the unseen in their mysteriously but methodically
woven net--might at first feel tempted to run away, or at any rate not
to come back again.

But he did come back, for the laborious delivery soon fascinated him,
and he began to feel that he was making progress. Every now and then
a lightning-flash of thought illuminated the darkness. The pupil
began to comprehend that, in his master's mind, there was no question
of this being a system like other systems, a more profound or more
comprehensive plan of instruction than other plans, but that the man
regarded himself as the originator of an entirely new science, which
comprehended the whole of existence, explained everything, God and
the world, and was the completion of everything; for the thoughts of
all earlier thinkers were discernible in his system, as all the lower
animal forms are traceable in the human embryo; everything that had
gone before had prepared his way, all endeavours found their fulfilment
in him; from this time forwards progress could only lie in the
direction of more special development of the separate sections of the
great completed plan.

The pupil was henceforth under the master's magic spell. The very
abstruseness of the terminology was now an attraction the more;
difficulties acted as spurs; it seemed to him a point of honour, a
matter of vital importance, that he should understand. And with what
rapture he understood!--understood that the whole world of sense
was only appearance; the great reality was thought. These separate,
individual appearances were not real, not true, only the universal was
real. I think, and by inevitable laws the progress of my thought leads
me to the complete understanding of myself and of the world. I think my
own thought, not regarding it as my own, but as the universal thought,
as the thought of all other human intelligences in union with mine; I
deprive them all of the individuality which appears to be essential
but is not, and see in all these intelligences one intelligence, and
in it the principle of existence. This first principle, which finds
its highest expression in man, is that which permeates, which creates
the world. This first principle, which works and creates blindly in
nature, is in me conscious of itself. The absolute, the idea, that
which is popularly known as God, is not a conscious or personal being,
for consciousness and personality presuppose the existence of something
outside the consciousness and personality; and yet it is not quite
unconscious. Man's consciousness of God is God's self-consciousness. I
cease to live as a single, fortuitous human being, in order to feel the
universal life live and pulsate in me.

Logic, which has been nothing but a sort of childish scholastic
discipline, which inculcated self-evident facts by the aid of barbaric
formulæ (Barbara, Celarent, Ferio, Camestres, Baroco), logic, which
had languished and died in ignominy long ago, came to life again in
the doctrine of the thoughts of existence in their connection and
their unity; for the first thought necessitated, produced the second,
amalgamated with it into a third, which in its turn summoned up its
antithesis, which was at the same time its complement. Thought of
necessity produced thought, until the thought-serpent set its tooth
into its own tail, thus forming one inviolable circle, from which the
realms of nature and spirit again detached themselves, dropping as the
rings dropped from Draupner, the ring of Odin.

And all the sciences came and drank of the new metaphysic, as of a
fountain of life, and all renewed their youth. And the system gradually
rose before the disciple's eye, homogeneous, carefully articulated,
severely symmetrical, of an internal infinity, a spiritual Organon,
a gigantic Gothic cathedral, every little part of which repeated
the whole, every little triad the great Trinity--thought, nature,
and spirit. It rose, built upon the granite foundation of thought,
all the buttresses and arches of the realm of nature supporting it
as it mounted towards the spirit, soaring to heaven in the mighty
three-storied tower of which religion formed the lowest, art the
middle, and philosophy the highest course.

But even more to the disciple than the system was the method. For
the method, the imperative thought-process, was the key to earth and
to heaven. It was by virtue of the method that he understood. It was
by virtue of the method that he saw the history of the world to be a
connected drama, one grand drama of liberation, in which every race had
its part, and all the parts were interdependent.

It was, after all, a truly great thought-poem, which men took for a
scientific demonstration; a new species of poetry, more dramatic and
more masterly in construction than that which Schelling's intellectual
perception had revealed to him; a new intoxicant, more subtle and
potent than that provided by the natural philosopher. The system has,
indeed, collapsed, the machinery of the method, too fine and intricate,
has come to pieces in our hands; only a few of the great fundamental
thoughts remain. But he who in his early youth has passed through the
Hegel period in his own mental experience, perfectly understands the
rapturous enthusiasm of the youth of that day, and the strength they
drew from these cosmic thoughts, world-ideas.

Among Hegel's pupils about the year 1830 there were already
master-thinkers like Hotho, Gans, Marheineke, Michelet; and almost all
the men of mark who appeared in the most diverse intellectual domains
from this time until far on in the Fifties, belonged at first to the
Hegelian school--Rosenkranz and Werder, Strauss and Fischer, Feuerbach,
Marx, and Lassalle. Cousin came from France, Heiberg from Denmark, Vera
from Naples, to fit themselves for propagating his doctrines in their
native countries.

From the professorial chair in Berlin, the Hegelian philosophy spread
throughout Germany, throughout the earth. Seldom or never has a
spiritual monarch's throne stood so secure. At the time of Hegel's
death (by cholera) in 1831, his followers compared him to Aristotle, to
Alexander the Great, even to Christ.

On the literature of the following decade, and in especial on the
so-called Young Germany, Hegelianism acted as an emancipating spiritual
power, a power that destroyed faith in religious dogma and freed the
individual from the burden of the Christianity of the State church.
We have already observed that even such an essentially lyric nature
as Heinrich Heine's took on the tinge of Hegelianism in this respect,
quite independently of the fact that his keen understanding was trained
in the school of Hegel; in the peculiar turn of his wit we trace the
influence of the Hegelian dialectic, which makes every idea pass over
into its opposite (unity of opposites).

But it was as a sort of modern Hellenism that the Hegelian philosophy
exercised the most powerful influence upon young minds. What may be
called Hegel's Hellenic influence was even stronger than Goethe's.

The reader doubtless remembers the passage in Heine's book on Börne in
which he writes on Börne's Nazarenic narrowness. He tells us that he
calls it "Nazarenic" to avoid employing the words Jewish or Christian,
words which to him convey the same meaning, because he does not use
them to designate a faith but a disposition, a nature; and he places
the word Nazarenic in opposition to the word Hellenic, which also to
him signifies an innate or acquired disposition and view of things
generally. In other words, all humanity is divided for him into
Nazarenes and Hellenes, men with ascetic, image-hating dispositions,
inclined to morbid spiritualisation, and men of cheerfully realistic
temperament, inclined to genial self-development. And he designates
himself a Hellene--a name which no Romanticist would ever have bestowed
on himself.

Hellenism in this sense emanated abundantly from Hegel. His whole
intellectual bent is in the direction of that tendency of the time to
present modern matter in antique manner, which we observe in Goethe
when he writes his _Iphigenia_, and in Thorvaldsen when he represents
the Princess Barjátinska in Greek dress. It was not by mere chance that
Hegel and Thorvaldsen were born within a few months of each other in
the year 1770. Nor was it a mere accident that Hegel best understood
that side of Goethe's nature which turned towards Greece.

Hegel had received his early training in his native country,
Würtemberg, under two influences, that of eighteenth century
enlightenment with its revolt against theology, and that of classic
antiquity. Even as a schoolboy he was keenly interested in the study of
the Greek language and literature; as a mere child he was devoted to
the _Antigone_ of Sophocles, which in later life was to him the typical
Greek work of art, and is constantly referred to in his writings. He
declared the study of the ancient classics to be the real introduction
to philosophy, and his own system as a whole he gradually moulded on
the plan of the ancient systems. It stands in the same relation to the
Aristotelian structure of thought in which Goethe's _Iphigenia_ stands
to a play of Euripides, or Thorvaldsen's "Triumphal Procession of
Alexander" to the frieze of the Parthenon.

His primary natural disposition towards Christianity is shown in
his studies and researches as a youthful theologian, the substance
of which, taken from the original manuscripts, has been given to
the public by Haym. In these early writings he maintains that the
Greco-Roman religion was a religion for free men, that a free
community, a free state, was the highest ideal of the Greek, an
ideal to which he consecrated his labour and his life. The God of
Christianity was only a substitute for lost republican liberty. Men
had lost power; they could no longer will, but only wish and pray. And
the more slavish they grew, the more was a God outside of themselves
and above themselves a necessity to them. And it is Hegel's opinion
that for us, in our days, has been reserved the task of demanding the
return of those treasures--the property of man--that were flung up into
heaven. In this he anticipates Heine and Feuerbach.[2]

In his youth Hegel always sees Jewish antiquity through classic
spectacles. He calls their ancient history "a condition of unmitigated
ugliness." The great tragedy of the Jewish nation is, he says, a very
different thing from a Greek tragedy; it neither awakens pity nor
terror; for these feelings are only called forth by the fate following
on the inevitable errors of a noble nature. He sees the history and
fate of the Jews against a background of Sophoclean conception of
life and Aristotelian theories. Such ideas as law and punishment are
repugnant to him. The Christian doctrine of the forgiveness of sin
he can only accept by converting it into the idea of fate reconciled
by love. In other words, he can only admire the sufferings of Christ
when he looks upon them as he looks upon the sufferings of Oedipus in
Colonos, namely, as a fate overtaking the innocent, not as a sacrifice
offered for the sins of others.

All that he rescues for himself from the shipwreck of positive religion
is the person and life-story of Jesus--that beautiful divine-human
personal life which is to him an equivalent for the citizen-life of
the ancient world. But his Jesus is not Jesus pure and simple, but a
Jesus-Apollo such as Heine describes in his poem _Frieden_--the giant,
who bears the red, flaming sun in his breast for a heart. We have a
similar fusion of heathenism and Christianity in the well-known preface
to _Romancero_, where Heine talks of his last genuflection "before the
ever blessed goddess of beauty, our dear lady of Milo." For this is not
Venus pure and simple, but Venus-Madonna.

Thus Hegel himself is the originator of that pagan Hellenism, of which
it was the fashion to accuse Young Germany.

And in his philosophy we can even detect the spirit which might
evolve such a watchword as "the emancipation of the flesh." This was
a French expression introduced by Heine into German literature, which
was eagerly taken up by his admirers and imitators, and was specially
execrated by the enemies and denouncers of the new literature. It
certainly might be suspected of an immoral meaning in Heine's mouth
and of an ugly meaning in Heinrich Laube's; but amongst the best of
the men of the young generation it meant nothing but what Goethe and
Hegel, too, had in reality desired. Karl Gutzkow has insisted, and
with reason, that only a low mind coupled with this expression ideas
of licence for all bad passions. For the word flesh in itself conveyed
no objectionable meaning. The New Testament says: "The Word was
made flesh." Flesh, in the Christian acceptation of the word, means
the natural, the unbaptised, the original man. Its emancipation in
reality meant to the young enthusiasts of the day nothing more than
the restoring of her rights to nature, war against what is contrary
to nature. What they desired was to make the laws of nature the rule
of conduct, to release nature from interdict and ban.[3]

A neo-Hellenism realised in the Hegelian spirit was what was present to
their minds.

It did not seem a matter of great consequence to them that Hegel should
end his days as a rigid Prussian Conservative, or that his _Philosophy
of Right_ should recognise all existing institutions as "holy things,"
and make out the highest ethical conceptions to be "idols." He had
underestimated the strength of the scientific doubt of the day.

How many institutions still presented themselves as objects of
veneration and faith to the normal mind of the period? Four at
most--the monarchy, the church, marriage, and property. As regards
these, Hegel's doctrine is as follows:

He does not uphold the monarchy as a guarantee for continuity in the
execution of great political plans; no, the monarch is to him simply
the logically necessary pinnacle of the state-building, something like
the dot over the i--a most inconsistent position of Hegel's; to him in
all other instances the subjective (the personal) is only a transient
form of energy, so that logically the monarch ought to be in time
merged in the sovereignty of the State. His defence of monarchy is thus
a concession to existing circumstances. Was it any wonder that the
following generation drew its own logical conclusion?

With regard to the Church, Hegel took up the position which was
subsequently publicly taken up by his disciple Cousin as French
Minister of State. He allowed his followers, the so-called Hegelians
of the Left, men like Göschen, to demonstrate the harmony of his
philosophy with the Bible and with ecclesiastical Christianity,
actually in his review bestowing excessive praise on Göschen's
aphorisms. The man who in his youthful letters to Schelling had
attacked the philosophy of Kant because it could be made to lend itself
to the service of orthodoxy, the man who had adjured Hölderlin never
to make peace with dogma, now in his own religious philosophy took
the ambiguous course of making out every dogma to be the symbol of a
thought, and allowing the dogma to stand, with the explanation that it
figuratively expressed the same truth as science. Was it any wonder
that his pupils drew their own inferences?

Marriage, Hegel regarded as an incident in family life, justified to
much the same extent as family property. How it was brought about
was of comparatively small importance; arrangement by the parents
was probably the most moral way. In his aversion from the arbitrary
action of the individual, he dwelt on the irrationality of the private
individual's capricious fancy for this or that girl ("dass er sich
gerade auf dieses Mädchen capricionire"). He spoke on this subject half
like an old Spartan, half like a narrow old bourgeois, and the youth of
the day, being neither Spartan nor narrow, did not accept his doctrine.

Property Hegel considered morally justified only as the common
property of the family. Only when it is not the possession of an
individual is what he calls the egotism of greed overcome. Of course
he vehemently condemns Communism. But an impetus had been given to
logical conclusion-drawing, and the time came when Hegelians like Marx
and Engels drew revolutionary conclusions from the philosophy of the
apparently Conservative master.

[1] Hotho: _Vorstudien für Leben und Kunst_, p. 383. Haym: _Hegel und
seine Zeit_., p. 392. Scherer: _Mélanges d'histoire religieuse_, p. 299.

[2] "Die Objectivität der Gottheit ist mit der Verdorbenheit und
Sklaverei der Menschen in gleichem Schritt gegangen, und jene ist
eigentlich nur eine Offenbarung dieses Geistes der Zeiten.... Ausser
früheren Versuchen blieb es vorzüglich unseren Tagen aufbehalten, die
Schätze, die an den Himmel geschleudert worden sind, als Eigenthum
der Menschen wenigstens in der Theorie zu vindiciren; aber welches
Zeitalter wird die Kraft haben, dieses Recht geltend zu machen und sich
in den Besitz zu setzen?"

The objectivity of the Divinity has gone hand in hand with the slavery
and corruption of humanity, and is in reality only one sign of the
spirit of the times.... Attempts have been made before, but it has been
specially reserved for our age to vindicate at least in theory, as the
property of man, the treasures which have been hurled up into heaven;
but what age will have the power to enforce this right and to place man
in possession of his own?

[3] Karl Gutzkow: _Rückblicke auf mein Leben_, p. 135.



When, from the all-embracing thought of Hegel, the noble art of Platen,
the polished wit of Börne, the lyric and satiric genius of Heine, the
classic fulness of Immermann's _Oberhof_, we pass on to the men to
whom the name Young Germany was more particularly applied, we feel the
change to be in the artistic sense a fall--a fall from the confidence
and perfect skill of masters to the immaturity and makeshifts of
beginners. And among the men of Young Germany there were those who
were destined for ever to remain beginners. More especially is the
transition from Heine to his successors felt like a fall from graceful,
god-like audacity to clumsy youthful defiance of all established
custom, all conventional morality.

And yet the best of these men in their best moments displayed a
self-devotion unknown to Heine.

The Young Germany of accepted tradition includes neither Heine, Börne,
and their contemporaries (who were regarded as its fathers), nor the
circle of young scientific men who expressed their views in Ruge's and
Echtermeyer's _Hallische Jahrbücher_, nor the group of political poets
who in the Forties gave literary expression to the feelings which found
practical expression in the deeds of 1848.

The name in its traditional acceptation has a much narrower
signification than that given to it in the present volume.

Its originator was a very earnest, but not specially gifted North
German author, Ludolf Wienbarg, born at Altona in 1803. In 1834, under
the warlike title of _An Æsthetic Campaign_ (a title invented by Campe,
the publisher), Wienbarg published a series of lectures which he had
delivered in Kiel, and for which he had been deprived of his right to
lecture, though their inoffensive matter and their unctuous manner
were little calculated to produce excitement of any kind. To this
book, which it is a hard task to wade through nowadays, is prefixed
the dedication: "To the young Germany, not the old, I dedicate this
book" (Dem jungen Deutschland, nicht dem alten, widme ich dieses
Buch). This is all that men remember to-day of Wienbarg's lectures. By
young Germany he meant all the young German minds that had broken with
tradition in art, church, state, and society, and were devoting their
literary talents to the furtherance of the reforms which they felt to
be imperative.

The programme he proposes for the new literature is alarming in its
vagueness. Its conception of life is to be founded on a harmonious
union of sensuality and spirituality. He proclaims a new Hellenism, in
which the sensual will be more permeated by spirit than in the case of
the Greeks, and the spiritual more permeated by the sensual than in the
case of the Christians. But before literature can be born again, life
itself must be. Not till the life around them has become healthy and
harmonious, can the young generation produce a true work of art.

There was, as we see, nothing new in these declamations and prophecies.
Heine had already said the same thing in a hundred ways, comic or
poetic; even Menzel in his first period had said the same with all the
eloquence of the unsuccessful poet and violent partisan. Here it was
expressed in the flowery language and with the rhetoric which seldom
fails to produce its effect on immature minds.

The only novelty lay in the fact that now for the first time the
exponent of these ideas was a representative of that young generation
who regarded Heine as the great author of the age, and that now for
the first time expression was given to the theory that prose was the
literary form of the new age, and of more value than poetry. Wienbarg's
æsthetic theories resolve themselves into glorification of Heine,
whom he proclaims to be the great, the greatest prose author. Not till
now, he declares, under the influence of French prose, has German
prose really been formed. Schiller's style he calls the language of
the parade, and Goethe's the language of the court. All the earlier
great authors, even Jean Paul, lived, according to him, within a magic
circle, far removed from the stir of the world. What distinguishes the
prose of a Heine, a Börne, a Menzel, a Laube, from that of the earlier
writers is, in his opinion, the want of tranquillity, of placidity
(Behaglichkeit), but it is this want that gives it its superiority, the
superiority of life. Heine especially is praised for having disdained
"the passing fame" of a lyric poet in order to play upon the colossal,
cosmic instrument which lies under the hands of a master of German

First Mundt and then Laube, neither of whom was capable of writing a
respectable verse, joined eagerly in this glorification of prose at
the expense of poetry, the more willingly as by so doing they entered
a protest against the Swabian school of poetry, the tardy offspring of
Uhland's branch of Romanticism. Mundt positively elevated this cult
of prose to the rank of the newest gospel. How little real ability
Wienbarg possessed is clearly shown by his second work, _Zur neuesten
Litteratur_, a collection of weak essays, in which the only thing we
find to admire is his courageous fidelity to Heine at a time when
envious rivals and moral doctrinaires had turned the tide of popular
opinion against him.

Wienbarg had called the name Young Germany into existence, but as yet
it designated no exactly specified group of authors. Strangely enough
it was first applied to definite individuals in connection with a
public denunciation and harsh legal proceedings.

The facts were as follows: A number of young authors had gradually
brought themselves into notice, who were not exactly in league with
each other, but whose common watchword was, spiritual emancipation.
They all held aloof from Christianity and dreamed of a new, pantheistic
religion for the new era. Many of them desired, under the name of
"the emancipation of the flesh" or "rehabilitation of the flesh," the
abolishment of the traditional code of morals, and more freedom in
the conditions regulating the union and separation of the two sexes.
Both the expression of this desire and the desire itself were, in the
case of a man like Laube, unpleasantly epicurean, in the case of a man
like Gutzkow, unnecessarily defiant and curiously morbid; with others
again, such as Mundt, it took the form of championship of what he
vaguely called the emancipation of woman, by which he merely meant more
independence in home life and in marriage. By all these authors certain
distinguished women were held in high honour--in France, George Sand,
by whom they were strongly influenced; in Germany, Rahel, Bettina,
Charlotte Stieglitz.

They all talked much and loudly of the rights of youth, had all imbibed
a certain faith in liberty from Hegel, and all owed their general
political tendency to the Revolution of July. Their aim was to identify
literature with life, as Hegel had reconciled idea with reality. They
had no really profound sympathy with each other, and they soon went
each his own way. They were widely enough separated as regarded their
places of residence. Heine lived in Paris, Weinbarg at Kiel--entirely
isolated; Gutzkow resided in South Germany, Mundt was in Berlin,
Laube in Leipzig; and the distances separating these places were
very considerable then. Laube was very soon in many ways an opponent
of Gutzkow, and a cold, unpleasant critic of Mundt and Kühne. Mundt
attacked Gutzkow. An accidental meeting between Laube and Gutzkow in
the north of Italy in 1833 contributed to their estrangement rather
than their reconcilement. There was no other community between these
writers than that usually existing between men of the same age and
calling; they were much less a political party than a literary coterie;
nevertheless literature was not to them its own aim and end; they
desired to devote themselves to the service of the spirit of the age.[1]

This was the reason why they did not occupy themselves with the pure
forms of literary art, neither with epic nor with lyric poetry, and but
sparingly with dramatic. They all idolised the "Zeitgeist" (spirit of
the times), and did homage to it in journalism and fiction, in critical
and argumentative essays, in fanciful descriptions of travel, after
the pattern of Heine's and Prince Pückler-Muskau's, and at times in
long-winded novels.

[Illustration: KARL GUTZKOW]

The most able of them all was undoubtedly Karl Gutzkow, born in
Berlin in 1811, a man of a tireless, energetic, inquiring spirit,
absorbed in the thousand problems of modern life, a cross between an
analytical critic and a poet, but a man to whom nothing came of itself
and who achieved nothing with ease. His personality had no charm, his
youth no freshness, his prose no rhythm. But he was bold, inventive,
intelligent, and enterprising. He had the gift of pathos, but not the
lyric gift; his style was effective, but unmelodious. His mind was
specially open to ideas, to all the thoughts and spiritual movements
that were abroad at that day. By nature he belonged to the ungainly,
but his literary enthusiasm was so genuine, his ambition so great, and
his will so strong, that he gradually became an intellectual centre and
diffused his influence in many directions. There was a time, about the
year 1840, when a great part of what was best in German literature took
its tone from him and his adherents.

We saw how it was the Revolution of July that awakened in him a
desire to write. The following year, the great year of dismissals,
imprisonments, and banishments in Prussia, put the pen into his hand.
It was a time when every word underwent the strictest censorship; even
the advertisements in the _Intelligenzblatt_ were carefully examined,
in case they might contain some hidden political meaning.

Gutzkow began by publishing a newspaper, _Forum der Journallitteratur_.
He had been brought up on the Hegelian idea of the progress of the
world towards ever greater liberty. As Gottschall has expressed it:
"There swam before his eyes a constant succession of political sunrises
and world-liberating theories." His newspaper reached a circulation of
seventy copies, and was then given up.

Wolfgang Menzel, at that time the acknowledged master of German
criticism, had repeatedly invited Gutzkow to come to Stuttgart and
assist him in the editorship of his _Litteraturblatt_, as he himself,
having been elected a member of the Würtemberg Parliament, was no
longer able to conduct it alone.

In spite of his hatred of Goethe, nay, partly because of it, Menzel,
at this period of his career, was revered by the youth of Germany much
as Katkóf and Ploug in their first periods were revered in Russia and
Denmark. He, above all others, was to them the man of the day, the
friend of liberty. One of Gutzkow's aims in his newspaper had been to
defend Menzel, the man after his own heart, against the attacks of
his enemies--and Menzel had many enemies, for as a reviewer he was
disputatious, quarrelsome, and abusive. But he was, or seemed to be,
a man of sincere convictions. He urged the necessity for a profounder
conception of patriotism and of religion than was then in vogue, but
at the same time he was an ardent Liberal in politics, and as such an
admirer of Börne and Heine, who looked upon him as a trusty companion
in arms; in Parliament he championed all progressive measures, amongst
others the emancipation of the Jews.

Gutzkow, not yet much over twenty, short, slight, fair, and pale-faced,
entered the presence of his lord and master, who was thirteen years
older than himself, with a bashful reverence which he has compared to
that of the student who appears before Mephistopheles-Faust in the
first part of Goethe's drama. He saw a man with broad shoulders, a well
developed chest, and dark hair, whose clean-shaven face reminded him
of a Romish priest's. Round the mouth, with its ugly yellow teeth, a
satiric smile played; the expression of the short-sighted eyes behind
the spectacles was half defiant, half dignified. The man's temper
seemed to be violent, his will inflexible. An expression of faun-like
sensuality would come over his features when he talked of some erotic
book, and yet Goethe's worldliness was as hateful to him as his
indifference to politics, and he uncritically bowed the knee to men and
phenomena that to his mind represented the mysterious. His character
was a genuine priestly blend of irony and mysticism. He loved Voltaire,
and enthusiastically admired Görres.

Master and pupil agreed well at first, both in their social and in
their business relations. Gutzkow, who lived now in one, now in another
of the towns in the neighbourhood of Stuttgart, indefatigably reviewed
the great parcels of books sent him by Menzel. He soon caught the
brisk, sweeping journalistic style, and all went well. The youthful
works which he himself published, naturally found a more than lenient
critic in Menzel. Yet they were poor enough. _Briefe eines Narren an
eine Närrin_ ("Letters from a Male to a Female Fool") are humorous
effusions without originality, in a style which is partly an imitation
of Jean Paul, partly of Heine; and _Maha Guru, the History of a God_,
the description of the psychological condition of a Tibetan who is made
Dalai-Lama and consequently worshipped as a divinity, is a piece of
fantastic writing, now totally unreadable. Yet Menzel, when reviewing
this latter book, chose from amongst the vignettes which alternately
figured on the title-page of his review, a laurel wreath, and had
Gutzkow's name twice printed within its circle.

Gutzkow's intention in _Maha Guru_ was to show how the god who is
supposed to be incarnated in the Dalai-Lama is subordinated to the
man in him, the false divinity being completely thrown into the shade
by the true nobility, true divinity of the human being. But besides
this, the book was intended to be a philosophical-satirical romance
in the old style, representing home institutions in foreign guise.
The Tibetan theocracy was intended to suggest the European hierarchy,
the Tibetan polyandry the European emancipation of woman. The foreign
scenery, which Gutzkow had never seen, the foreign customs, which were
not described for their own sake, could not interest. The book was
suggested to him by the story of the French atheist, Billaud-Varennes,
who escaped the guillotine during the Reign of Terror, took refuge in
America, and was there worshipped by the Indians as a god. His skill in
catching, training, and stuffing birds made such an impression on them
that they looked upon him as a second creator. But all this had little
to do with Tibet, and the would-be gravity of Gutzkow's theme.

Up to this time Young Germany and its fathers had not seemed to Menzel
to be sacrilegious scoffers or bad patriots. Gutzkow's irreligion so
far had not disturbed the good relations between him and his master.
Menzel himself praised Börne's _Letters from Paris_, which were
attacked on all sides, as manly utterances, and excused their strong
expressions as outbursts of feeling which must not be too roughly dealt
with; he compared them to the glow-worms which shine so beautifully on
mild summer nights, but which turn into poor little grey insects when
seized by rough hands.

But it was inevitable that the tie between Gutzkow and Menzel should
soon be loosed. From the first Gutzkow had received warnings not to
involve himself too deeply with the Stuttgart author. Hegel himself,
who took an interest in the young man, had said to him: "How can any
one bind himself to a man like that?" The first disagreement between
them was on the subject of Menzel's attitude to the South German lyric
poets, the so-called Swabian school, followers of Uhland, a poet who
not only enjoyed the fame which he most undoubtedly deserved, but a
far greater. As a good Swabian, Menzel esteemed and supported these
men--Gustav Schwab, Gustav Pfizer, Karl Mayer, &c.--as bulwarks of
conventional piety and morality. But Gutzkow, with his keen sense of
what was the life-idea of the time, Gutzkow, to whom literature was the
church militant, had the greatest objection to such Sunday afternoon,
gilt-edged poets, men who put into rhyme old, dead ballad themes, or
their own petty, sentimental feelings, whilst they were cautiously
watching over their interests as government servants aspiring to
professorships or consistory counsellorships.

When _Goethe's Conversations with Eckermann_ appeared, it became known
how severely Goethe had judged his admirer Uhland's poetry. He would
hear of nothing but the ballads, considering all the rest unworthy of
notice. And a most contemptuously disparaging verdict upon the whole
Swabian school, from Uhland to Pfizer, was presently published in
_Goethe's Correspondence with Zelter_: he (Goethe) had never expected
anything fresh or capable from that quarter; the fellows concealed
their want of genius under the moral-religious-poetical beggar's cloak.[2]

After this Gutzkow took courage and proclaimed that to him also this
antiquated pastoral and cloistral Romanticism was an abomination.
In an essay entitled _Goethe, Uhland, und Prometheus_ he made a
violent attack on those poets who sought and "found their creed in
their certificates of baptism, their morals in conventionality, their
principles in established custom, and their poetry in the poetry of
other people." What have you to offer us? he cried. Evening walks in
the setting sun. Where is your effort to keep pace with the times?

Meanwhile the reaction against the Revolution of July was in full
progress everywhere. The policy of Prussia, as well as that of Austria,
was controlled by Metternich; and when the youth of Germany began to
understand on what side the power and the energy were, and probably
would be for long to come, they went over to that side. Gutzkow says,
that out of every hundred students at the University of Berlin at that
time, ninety-seven were strong Conservatives; and every meeting with an
old school or college companion, more especially if he happened to be a
civil servant or an officer, left a most painful impression on his mind.

In such circumstances it often happens that high-spirited, able young
men lose their heads and commit rash actions for which they are blamed
all their lives.

Schleiermacher was dead, laid to rest with great ceremonial, mourned
as a father of the Protestant Church, one of the saints of theology.
It had long ago been said, and well said, of him, that his character
answered to his name (Schleiermacher = veilmaker). By dint of
ambiguities and uncertain utterances he had kept himself popular to the
end of his days. No one had brought up against him that Romantic sin of
his youth, the _Vertrauliche Briefe um Lucinde_ ("Confidential Letters
on the Subject of Lucinde.")

But now Gutzkow, who erroneously concluded that this forgotten book
would be omitted from the edition of Schleiermacher's works then in
preparation, could not resist the temptation to republish it, and to
defend himself and his friends against the perpetual accusations of
godless immorality by showing that their erotic views, and even their
doctrine of the rehabilitation of the flesh, had been held by that man
of God who was the revered lord and master of the theologians.

This might have been a good tactical move if the youth, for he was
still only twenty-three, had not written a foolish, boyish preface to
the book. In it he addresses himself to the "watchmen of Zion," scoffs
at their sanctimoniousness and spiritual coquetry, and thus adjures
them:--"For one moment cast your priestly robes from you, forget that
a man whom you still perpetually crucify was God, and listen to what
happened once on a time elsewhere, in the world of liberty, youth, and

What had happened was the publication of Schlegel's _Lucinde_, that
lewd skeleton, which in Gutzkow's eyes is glorious and classic, and of
Schleiermacher's letters about it, which in Gutzkow's estimation are
divine. The Letters speak for themselves. They absurdly over-estimate
_Lucinde_, but the genuine human feeling in them is beautiful and
courageous. In Gutzkow's preface everything is emphasised in a
disagreeably defiant manner. He avers that love is of the nature of
genius, maintains that priestly action neither adds to nor takes from
the sacredness of marriage, tauntingly declaims against the cold
prose of the ordinary marriage, "the water-soup weddings, the sordid
procreation of children and struggle for mouldy bread." He winds up
flippantly with: "Now tell me truly, Rosalie! Is it not since you
have worn spurs on your little silk boots, since I have taught you
how to throw your cloak over your shoulder, since I have invented a
new sort of inexpressibles for you, so that every one takes you to be
my youngest, dearly loved brother, is it not since then that you know
what I meant by: I love you?" And not content with this female wearer
of breeches, who is the realisation of his idea of the emancipation
of woman, Gutzkow last of all plays out an atheistic trump; "Where is
Franz?--Come here, dear boy. I know they baptized you secretly. Who is
God? What! you don't know, you innocent atheist, you philosophic child!
Oh, if the world too had only not known about God, how much happier it
would have been!"

No specially acute critical faculty is needed to detect the unreality
in this student's braggadocio. The original of the Rosalie who was to
follow Gutzkow about in page's dress was more probably the Kaled of
Byron's _Lara_ than any Heidelberg or Berlin seamstress. It is easy to
imagine what effect such a preface to such a book would produce on the
general public and on orthodox journalism.

Only a drop was needed to fill the cup of public indignation, and
that drop Gutzkow did not fail to add. In 1835 he wrote _Wally, die
Zweiflerin_ ("The Sceptic"), which is an exceedingly weak story, with a
positively burlesque crucial episode, but which nevertheless influenced
the course of events more powerfully than any other German literary
work of the day.

Strauss's _Life of Jesus_ had lately come out, and its resolution of
the historical element in that life into myths, bold and fanciful to
the verge of folly as the hypothesis was, had violently perturbed the
thinking minds of Germany. Indignation was universal. A thousand-voiced
cry of condemnation rose from the Eider to Switzerland. For many a
year, in the public mind, there was a dark stain on the name of David

The book was talked about everywhere, and Gutzkow one evening began to
discuss its problem with a young girl to whom he was attached. "Don't
let us talk about that," she said, "the very thought drives me mad!"
These words made a strong impression on him.

Strauss's book itself had not satisfied him. Rationalist as he was, he
felt the need for a historic Jesus, and betook himself to the study of
Reimarus's old _Wolfenbüttel Fragments_, to which Lessing before him
had devoted so much attention. He determined to publish a selection
from these, but it was in vain that he applied with this intention to
the most courageous of the German publishers, Campe. In spite of his
bold political attitude, Campe dared not expose himself to the rancour
of the Hamburg clergy, Pastor Goetze's successors in the cure of souls.

It was about this time that the noble Charlotte Stieglitz committed
suicide. The impression produced by this tragic event combined itself
in Gutzkow's mind with the impressions made by his young friend's
remark and by Reimarus's Biblical criticism--and _Wally, the Sceptic_,
was the result.

It is a childish book, this _Wally_, but it is innocent, honest, and
artless. The heroine is a young lady moving in good society, who, in
despair at not being able to overcome the religious doubts awakened
in her mind by the man she loves, the sceptical, _blasé_ Cæsar, kills
herself with a dagger.

Gutzkow had been unable to withstand the temptation of reminding the
venerable lights and defenders of the Church, the dignitaries of all
the different classes of the Order of the Red Eagle, that there had
once lived men named Hume, Voltaire, Lessing, &c. There was something
fascinating to a young man in the idea of reminding such grand folks of
such forgotten existences. But it ought to have been done with talent.
In Gutzkow's novel the plot was a mere excuse for ventilating theories,
_Wally_ was a weak imitation of _Lélia_, the last novel which George
Sand had published.

But its author was in the spring-tide of his youth. It seemed to him
as if the whole world were growing young again. The glow of Hegel's
sinking sun still illuminated the horizon, Bettina arose like a morning
star, the ever-young wisdom of Rahel was scattered abroad over the
earth after her death like fruitful dew, Lenau's and Rückert's early
poems were like the song of the lark, Ruge's first critical articles
and Feuerbach's first philosophic writings were like fresh spring
breezes that cleared the air--the time seemed to him so sunny, so
promising, so laden with fruit, that it was as it were symbolised by
the two glorious summers of 1834 and 1835, with their rich harvests of
corn and wine. And it was then he committed his first great youthful

He was not satisfied with embodying his religious heterodoxy in his
book; he also proclaimed his moral heterodoxy, his defiance of the
accepted code of sexual morality--a very clumsy and immature defiance.
But the best idea of how very innocently Gutzkow interpreted that
watchword, "the emancipation of the flesh," which he himself employs,
is to be gained from the notorious scene in _Wally_, which was intended
by the author to express his worship of beauty.

Wally loves Cæsar and is loved by him, but they cannot marry each
other, because Wally has been obliged to betroth herself to the
Sardinian ambassador. Cæsar entreats her that she will as it were
symbolically celebrate a spiritual marriage with him by showing herself
to him in all her naked beauty the night before her wedding. In an
old German ballad, the heroine, Sigune, thus displays herself to

No one will deny that Cæsar's request is insane and its fulfilment
ridiculous. But the intention of the scene was so chaste and its
execution so inoffensive, that only positive low-mindedness could have
made it the occasion of calling for the assistance of the police. We
read; "The cloak slips from the young hero's shoulders; his hair waves
freely and luxuriantly. To the left there appears out of the sun-mist
an image of intoxicating beauty--Sigune, displaying herself more
bashfully than the Medicean Venus hides her nakedness. She stands there
helpless, dazzled by the glamour of the love that besought this favour;
her will is gone; she is the personification of shame, innocence, and
self-abandonment. And in sign that this is a consecrated, holy scene,
no roses bloom, but a high-stemmed lily has shot upwards close to her
body, symbolically covering her as the flower of chastity. It all
happened in one breathless, silent moment--it was sacrilege, but the
sacrilege of innocence and of woeful, eternal renunciation." This is

The relations between Gutzkow and Menzel were no longer what they had
been. Now and again, in some preface or article, Gutzkow had ventured
to make a small joke at the expense of his former patron, or a modest
protest against one or other of his utterances. And in a more practical
way Gutzkow had for some time past been a thorn in the side to Menzel.
His literary supplement to the Frankfort newspaper, _Phoenix_, was a
dangerous rival to Menzel's _Litteraturblatt._ But there was worse than
this. Gutzkow had gradually got into friendly correspondence with the
leaders of the new literature, Laube, Wienbarg, Mundt, &c, men who were
rapidly taking possession of all the more important literary organs
in Berlin, Leipzig, Frankfort, and Hamburg. When, in 1835, Gutzkow
and Wienbarg issued the prospectus of a literary review in the style
of _Revue des Deux Mondes_, with almost all the most eminent literary
names in Germany on its list of contributors--university professors
like Boeckh, influential writers like Varnhagen, not to mention a
talented author like Börne and a genius like Heine--Menzel felt the
necessity for striking a telling blow.

An invitation to subscribe to the _Deutsche Revue_ had been published.
It was written by Gutzkow, in flowery, metaphoric language--declares
that science is longing to escape from musty class-rooms into the free
open air, that the bird of Minerva is no longer the owl, which is
afraid of the light, but the eagle, which gazes steadfastly into the
sun, &c., &c.

Instead of confining his attack to this programme, which was
inoffensive and in some respects promising, Menzel, in his
_Litteraturblatt_ of the 11th and 13th September 1835, published a
general manifesto against the company of young authors headed by
Karl Gutzkow. The apology for this action, which he makes as an
old man (in his _Memoirs_, p. 304), shows unquestionable proof of
narrow-mindedness, but not of any honest conviction. To emphasise
the cosmopolitan tendencies and French sympathies of Young Germany,
he wrote of it as "La jeune Allemagne." He directed his principal
attack against _Wally_, from which book he quoted a few disconnected
passages to show that the whole novel was immoral and sacrilegious; the
insignificant sensual element in the story, the Sigune scene, is made
its main feature.

"Only in the deepest mire of immorality, only in brothels, are such
atheistic views hatched. They were in vogue among the philosophical
parasites of the old French court. In the Palais Royal they were
translated from the language of the court into that of the Jacobins.
Herr Gutzkow has taken it upon himself to transplant once again into
Germany that infamous French ape who, in the arms of a harlot, mocks
at God, but he has done it in an age which, praise be to God, is more
mature and more manly than the age of Voltaire. Even then vice was
foiled by the natural disposition of our nation; now it will be even
more impossible for it to effect an entrance. Literature will expel
it, public opinion brand it.... If such a school for the most impudent
immorality and the most refined falsehood is allowed to establish
itself in Germany, if all the noble minds of the nation do not set
themselves against it, if German publishers do not beware, but venture
to offer such poison for sale and to praise their wares, we shall soon
see the result.... But I will tread down your filth, though I know
that I shall defile myself by doing so; I will bruise the head of the
serpent that warms itself in the hot-bed of sensuality.... As long as
I live, such infamous dishonouring of German literature shall not go

And Menzel, the practical journalist, was not satisfied, like the
ordinary author, with saying a thing once for all. He repeated his
accusations in one number after another of his paper with growing
emphasis, more abusive language, more venomous imputations, appealing
more and more plainly to the State to interfere while it was yet time.

On the 26th of October he wrote: "I know that their war against
Christianity, against morality, against marriage is of no more
significance than the war of young owls against the old sun. But
a spark may give rise to a conflagration.... Upon the new literary
judgment-seat in Frankfurt, Venus vulgivaga will be enthroned in place
of justice ... never will these men, who only believe in the flesh, these
priests of foulness, forgive an author for being purer than they are....
Is it possible to sit still and allow them to propagate French morality
among us by word and deed? Under the mask of French republicanism,
this libellous, infamous new Frankfurt school is introducing the most
frightful immorality. The flesh, unbridled sensuality, the abolition
of marriage, are their watchwords, and they not only write obscene
books themselves, but serve up the old ones afresh.... They are to a
certain extent disciples of Saint-Simon, they proclaim a still more
dissolute republicanism, without any virtue, a hetæra-republic on
the grandest scale.... As yet these principles are confined to the
narrower, aristocratic circles of literature.... But to what do these
doctrines appeal but to the bestiality and ferocity which, though they
are still slumbering, would be so easily aroused in the great capitals
and manufacturing towns, with their obscene haunts of drunkenness and

On the 11th of November Menzel directly denounces the Prussian
university professors who have been rash enough to promise Gutzkow
their co-operation in his review: "Are the universities not State
institutions? Does the Prussian State no longer protect Christianity,
morality, marriage? We have heard so much of the moral, religious,
Conservative spirit that prevails in Prussia. Are we now to see the
most eminent professors of Berlin, Königsberg, and Halle following at
the heels of an obscene Marat, who, like the real Marat, literally
preaches the sacrament of 'the irresistible moment' and a republic of
sans-culottes and sans-chemises? Are we to hear them raving with him
against Christianity, morality, marriage, the family, modesty, against
God and immortality, against German nationality and the established
order of things?" And he concluded his outburst by applying the
designation of a Jewish party to the good Germans, Gutzkow, Wienbarg,
Laube, Mundt, and Kühne, because of their sympathy with the ideas of
Börne and Heine. Young Germany, he declared, was in reality Young

As a consequence of this denunciation, Karl Gutzkow was arrested on
a charge of blasphemy and lewd writing, and Menzel was dishonourable
enough to go on exciting public indignation against him whilst he was
in confinement and the case was being tried at Mannheim. The sentence
pronounced was, however, only ten weeks' imprisonment for attacking the
existing religious institutions of Baden.

But fear of the revolutionary movements which Menzel maintained would
be the result of the teaching of Young Germany, induced the German
Confederation to take action, and on the 10th of December 1835 the
Federal Diet passed a resolution, which aimed at nothing less than
the annihilation of the whole group of authors, young and old, which
it comprehends under the designation Young Germany. It reads as
follows: "In view of the fact that a school of literature has lately
come into existence in Germany, a school now known by the name of
'Young Germany,' or 'the young literature,' whose aim is, by means of
belletristic writings, accessible to all classes of readers, impudently
to attack the Christian religion, to discredit the existing conditions
of society, and to subvert all discipline and morality, the Council
of the German Confederation (Bundesversammlung) ... has unanimously
passed the following resolutions: (1) All the German Governments bind
themselves to bring the penal and police statutes of their respective
countries and the regulations regarding the abuse of the press in their
strictest sense to bear against the authors, publishers, printers, and
disseminators of the writings of the literary school known as 'Young
Germany' or 'the young literature,' to which notably belong Heinrich
Heine, Karl Gutzkow, Heinrich Laube, Ludolf Wienbarg, and Theodor
Mundt, as also by all lawful means to prevent the dissemination of the
writings of this school by booksellers, lending libraries, or other
means," &c., &c.

It was in this manner that the appellation Young Germany first became
familiar to the general public. It was the German Police-Confederation
which, constituting itself a critical authority, stigmatised a group of
authors, mentioned by name, as an immoral and injurious "school"--and
this on the information of one single rival of these men in the favour
of the reading public.

Menzel was to Young Germany what Southey in his day was to the
"Satanic school" in English literature, _alias_ Byron and Shelley,
or Katkóf, a generation later, to the "traitorous school" in Russian
literature--Herzen, Ogarev, and Bakunin. In disturbed times the
informer is as necessary an appendage to the foreground figures as the
envious rival and spy was to the hero of the old tragedies.

[1] See Ludwig Geiger: _Das junge Deutschland und die preussische
Censur_. Berlin, 1900.

[2] "Wundersam ist es, wie sich diese Herrlein einen gewissen
sittig-religiös-poetischen Bettlermantel so geschickt umzuschlagen
wissen, dass, wenn auch der Ellenbogen herausguckt, man diesen Mangel
für eine poetische Intention halten muss."

The fellows manage to throw a kind of moral-religious-poetic beggar's
cloak so cleverly round them, that, even if the bare elbow shows, we
are obliged to consider this defect a poetic intention.



The determination of the Federal Council to suppress the writings
of Young Germany not only nipped the _Deutsche Revue_ in the bud,
but also put an end to the existence of Mundt's _Litterarischer
Zodiacus_, published in Leipzig, and prevented the publication of
Laube's _Mitternachtszeitung_, which was to have appeared in Brunswick.
Immediately after Menzel's first attack on Gutzkow and his friends,
Mundt, with the valour of the prudent man, had written a series of
severe articles against Heine, Gutzkow, and Wienbarg--but all to no
purpose; his fate was sealed.

It seemed for a time as if the resolution were intended not only to
affect everything that the proscribed authors had already written, but
everything that they might write in the future.

An edict of the Prussian Government, dated 11th December 1835,
expressly provides that "the _future_ literary productions of Heinrich
Heine, wherever they may be published and in whatever language, are
to be subject to the same regulations as the writings of Gutzkow,
Wienbarg, Laube, and Mundt." And not only was every possible measure
taken to silence the obnoxious authors, but (as in Russia, when a man
is in disgrace with the Government) it was made illegal, even for those
who desired to write disparagingly of them, to print their names.
Mundt's name was erased from the list of contributors to the _Berliner
Jahrbücher für wissenschaftliche Kritik_, and in the announcements of
Varnhagen and Mundt's edition of Knebel's _Literary Remains_, Varnhagen
alone might be named as editor.

Excessively strict precautions were at the same time taken with
regard to foreign publications. A few inoffensive English and French
newspapers were countenanced. In the case of all the others the
expedient was resorted to of requiring the same postage to be paid for
them as for letters, thereby raising the cost of such papers to at
least 500 thalers (£75) per annum.[1]

To the leaders of Young Germany the Government thus offered the
compulsory choice between biding their time in defiant silence and
purchasing other conditions for themselves by disowning their past
and making humiliating promises for the future. No one who has
had any experience of the average valour of the denizens of the
literary world can feel surprised that few stood this test, that many
accepted the second alternative. Neither Heine, Wienbarg, nor Gutzkow
gave in; but many others made pitiable exhibitions of themselves.
Crowds of the young authors who had plumed themselves upon their
revolutionary-philosophical, their oppositionist-political ideas, now
hastened to prove their philosophic commonplaceness, their political
innocuousness. The name "Young Germany" had been an honourable name;
but now that those who had borne it found themselves the objects of
special police surveillance, they refused to acknowledge it, each
declaring that he, at least, did not belong to the party, and that if
he ever had done so, it was an old story, and he had since then become
a most respectable member of society. In this case, as so often, it
was proved that modern high-class education only provides desultory
knowledge, does not form character, and least of all amongst those who
make their living by their pens.

August Lewald, who to all intents and purposes belonged to the group,
procured the annulment of the prohibition of his periodical, _Europa_,
by making a declaration that he had never printed anything inimical
to the Government, to religion, or to morality, and was consequently
in no wise compromised by any of the mischievous proceedings of Young
Germany. Eduard Duller, who had been co-editor with Gutzkow of the
paper, _Phoenix_, publicly disclaimed all sympathy with the aims of
Young Germany and declared his principles to be perfectly different
from those of his former fellow-workers. Theodor Mundt professed
that he had always kept clear of "that manufactured category," Young
Germany, as it was plain that such an appellation must sooner or later
become a literary nickname (Ekelname); and in the preface to his
new periodical, _Dioskuren für Wissenschaft und Kunst_, he declared
that his aim was to counteract the literary excesses of recent times
by the display of a settled conviction devoid of any principle of
destructiveness (_worin nichts Verheerendes wuchert_).

Meekest of all, perhaps, was Heinrich Laube, he who had been the most
daring and defiant of the Young Germans, he whom Heine had called "one
of those gladiators who die in the arena"--an appreciation which now
seemed somewhat ridiculous. He affirmed, in the _Allgemeine Zeitung_,
that in promising Dr. Gutzkow to contribute to his new review, he had
never dreamt of aiding and abetting the party known by the name of
Young Germany in its attacks on the existing conditions of society,
much less in its attempts to disturb and overturn them. On the
contrary, he had from the first plainly signified that he did not
identify himself with the movement.

On New Year's day, 1836, in the announcement of his
_Mitternachtszeitung_, which he had obtained permission to publish
on condition that his name did not appear as editor, he wrote that
he had become another man, that literature was no longer to him an
expression of political desires, that it was not his intention to take
any part in the literary disputes of the moment, "the rough-and-tumble
fights with uncombed hair and unwashed hands"; no, it had long been
his idea to form "a neo-Romantic school," and in it he would have no
disintegrating, destructive elements. He would support the existing,
not make war upon it. He would not identify himself with Menzel
(actually!) but neither could he take part with the so-called Young
Germany. He who had been the most daring of them all was the quickest
and most adroit in wheeling round.

Day after day, too, as was to be expected, the newspapers contained
declarations by the different university professors who had been
incautious enough to promise their co-operation in the _Deutsche
Revue_. Ulrici, Eduard Gans, Hotho, Rosenkranz and Trendelenburg,
Hegelians and Anti-Hegelians, all, one after the other, cleared
themselves from the charge of complicity. They repented with their
official souls. They vied with each other in their utter repudiation of

Heine did not belong to the number of those who lose their courage or
their heads in a difficulty. And in any case, partly because of his
established reputation, partly because of the personal security ensured
by his residence abroad, this interdict was not such a serious blow
to him as to the others. On the 28th of January 1836, after receiving
intimation of the prohibition of his books, he addressed a solemn
protest to the Federal Diet, a proceeding about which he immediately
afterwards jokes in a private letter to his publisher. In this protest
he expresses his astonishment at having been judged without a trial,
and without having been given any opportunity to defend himself. He
reminds the Federal Diet that Martin Luther did not meet with such
treatment at the hands of the Holy Roman Empire--not that he would
think of comparing himself with Luther, "but the pupil naturally
appeals to the precedent of his master." But what he especially desires
to protest against is his compulsory silence (which he was privately
determined to break as soon as possible) being taken for an admission
of culpable intentions, or even for a disavowal of his earlier
writings. To Laube, of whose new attitude he was still ignorant, he
wrote about the same time that, in the matter of politics, it was, for
the present, allowable to make any number of concessions, political
forms being of no consequence as long as the conflict for the highest
life-principles was still going on; but they must hold to their right
of free discussion of religious and moral topics, or there would soon
be an end of all Protestant liberty of thought. Laube, as we know,
finding himself obliged to give in to a certain extent, gave in all
round at once, struck simultaneously his political, religious, and
moral flags.

It was a slight consolation to the sufferers that the informer did not
go unpunished. Heine wrote _Ueber den Denunzianten_ and Börne wrote
_Menzel der Franzosenfresser_ ("The Frenchman-eater"), which is with
reason regarded as his wittiest and at the same time most warm-hearted

But the more severe punishment came from Heine, who threw himself upon
his victim with all his tiger-like strength, and shook him till there
was nothing left of him but a shapeless, ridiculous bundle.

Heine points out how carefully Menzel has chosen the time for making
his accusations, a time when the leaders of the movement were either in
exile, or silent, or in safe keeping behind bolts and bars. He exposes
Menzel's hypocrisy, showing how, as long as he was connected with
Gutzkow, he looked on silently, though he knew Christianity to be in
peril of its life. He is quite ready to give him credit for "a certain
physical morality"--for a man can be virtuous alone, but to be vicious
he must have a companion. Herr Menzel's personal appearance stands him
in good stead when he is desirous to flee from vice. Heine has far
too high an opinion of the good taste of vice to be able to believe
that it would run after a Menzel. Poor Goethe was not so fortunately
gifted in this particular. Of Menzel's political opinions Heine is
afraid to speak for political reasons. Nor can he say what he thinks of
his private life (as if by a printer's error _Privatschelmenleben_ is
substituted for _Privatmenschenleben_) in the first instance for want
of space.

Never did Heine write anything at once so insulting and so crushing.

And how did matters stand with Gutzkow, who at the early age of
twenty-four had become a kind of centre of literary events, and upon
whom "the Goliath of the Philistine army" had fallen? For a moment he
was astonished and cast down. It was his first instructive experience
of life. His sin was that he had expressed his feelings naïvely and
honestly in a second-rate novel, and its result was that he now found
himself denounced as a plague of society, mocked at by his enemies,
forsaken and disowned by his friends. With perfect calm he heard
himself compared to the men who had prepared for the enormities
perpetrated at Minister under Jan van Leyden--division of property,
marriage with twelve wives, &c. He was inexperienced enough to look
forward to the legal proceedings against him with expectations of
victory, and when he was arrested at Mannheim, he went to prison
with a feeling of relief. In prison he did not hear the yelling of
the press; he heard nothing but the squeaking of the mice that ran
over his bed. He could lead a peaceful life, a life of uninterrupted,
quiet production. He wrote his novel _Seraphine_ and a work entitled
_Philosophic der That und des Ereignisses_ ("Philosophy of Action
and Event"), a kind of criticism of Hegel's _Philosophy of History_.
When he came out of prison he took up his life-work again with firm
determination, but for a time wrote anonymously and expressed himself
more cautiously.

About a year before this he had fallen in love with a young girl in
Berlin, and become engaged to her. But the Berlin newspapers called him
an atheist. The young lady's mother was a foolish, hysterical woman.
One day she would embrace Gutzkow, the next threaten to throw a knife
at him and shriek to her daughter, "Choose between him and me!" As the
wisdom of allowing her daughter to unite her fate with Gutzkow's became
more and more questionable, the mother's amiable days became fewer, the
unamiable more frequent, and in the end the young lady, as an obedient
daughter, drew back altogether. This episode had made a tremendous
impression on Gutzkow's young heart. It had taught him that to hold
convictions contrary to those of the people one lives amongst isolates
a man even in private life, and that he who sets the opinion of his
neighbours at defiance cannot expect to be successful in life or in

His friends behaved no better to him. No sooner was he released from
prison than he was overwhelmed with reproaches and complaints by
persons to whom he had previously promised literary employment, and who
were now not only disappointed in their hopes, but compromised by the
patronage he had extended to them.

His first disappointment in love led to one of his best shorter
stories, _Der Sadducäer von Amsterdam_. And the disappointment,
combined with the general disillusionment, produced the frame
of mind which characterises the dramatised version of the story
which he published many years later under the title of _Uriel
Acosta_--undoubtedly his best drama, probably his best work.

The hero is a historic personage, Gabriel, afterwards Uriel Acosta,
born in 1594, a religious philosopher of Jewish nationality. His
parents were baptised Christians, but he himself, on account of his
disbelief in Christianity, was obliged to leave his native land,
Portugal, and take refuge in Holland. Then he threw in his lot with the
Jews, but soon began to publish works in which the Jewish doctrines
were as freely criticised as the Christian. For this he was condemned
to pay fines, and in the end was sentenced to a most humiliating
penance. After public acknowledgment and recantation of his errors,
he was to lie on the ground at the threshold of the synagogue and
allow himself to be trodden under foot by the whole congregation of
the faithful. After seven years of persecution he submitted to the
sentence, but immediately afterwards, in despair at having retracted
his opinions, shot himself (in 1647). He was the forerunner, and, if we
may believe tradition, the teacher of Spinoza.

In the little old-fashioned story, _Der Sadducäer von Amsterdam_, the
most important personages of the future drama are outlined. Judith, the
vacillating and finally faithless woman, beloved of Acosta, was very
evidently suggested by the inconstant Berlin lady. The style is artless
and weak. Spinoza is introduced as follows: "She called, and her only
child, a boy of seven, came running up to his uncle, whom he easily
recognised in the moonlight. Bare your heads! That boy was Baruch

What attracted Gutzkow as a young man to this theme was evidently its
pathos, its being the story of the first martyr for free-thought.

In our days we read of such a life without being remarkably impressed
by it. The spiritually emancipated know that all the advance that
has been made amounts to this, that they are now tolerated. The life
that they have lived has so accustomed them to hear all that they
hold highest condemned, and all that they regard as base or foolish
extolled, that no story of this kind affects them much.

It was different with the generation of 1830 in Germany. Even the
fact that Uriel Acosta sued for pardon and recanted did not lessen
Gutzkow's interest in him. In the novel he writes: "We who have been,
as it were, born into a state of constant martyrdom for the sake of
our convictions, who have lived in it all our lives, must refrain from
condemning a man who had the courage to protest against the dogmas of
a fanatical, intolerant religion, but who, nevertheless, was capable
of cringing beneath the hand that had chastised him." He depicts the
confusion in Uriel's soul: Faith is the blind man's staff; his eyes
are suddenly opened; but they are utterly unaccustomed to distinguish
objects; they cannot, like the staff to which he has been so long
accustomed, save him from falling; and so he gropes more helplessly
than before.

After the storm raised by Menzel had passed in all its fury over
Gutzkow's head, the story of Acosta inevitably acquired quite a new
significance for him. Considering it now, he saw not only its purely
dramatic possibilities, but the correspondence of its main features
with the main features of his own life story. He, too, had been
placed under ban and interdict; he, too, after being cursed, had been
deserted; he, too, had paid the penalty of intrepid thought; he, too,
had been flung on the ground before the threshold of the injured
Church, and the whole multitude had passed over him and trampled on him.

In 1846, in Paris, under the influence of the acting of great
tragedians, Gutzkow dramatised the story. He made various alterations
in it. To increase the interest of the plot, he idealised the chief
female character. In the tragedy of _Uriel Acosta_, Judith is the
betrothed of another; Uriel is her master. But when the Rabbis, with
solemn ceremony, pronounced the terrible curse, when all draw back from
him and he is left alone on one side of the stage, whilst the words:

               "Fluch dem Freund
    Der Dir im Elend je die Treue hält!
    Nie giebt sich Dir ein liebend Herz des Weibes,"[2]

are being spoken, she crosses the stage and places herself by his side
with the famous and beautiful speech ending with the line:

   "Er _wird_ geliebt! Glaubt besseren Propheten!"[3]

Of a personage who hardly appears at all in the novel, Gutzkow made
an imperishable character, the best and most original in the drama,
the aged Chief Rabbi, Ben Akiba. This old man has in reality only one
conclusive speech, which he repeats again and again to Uriel and to the

    "Es war alles da."
    (This has all been before.)

Admirable words! Ben Akiba is age, that has seen all these things
before, seen the Church attacked, seen the Church triumphant, seen
sceptics and champions arise, seen them humiliated, defeated, dead, and
buried. The others believe that this is something new; it is all old,
it all leads to no result. Ben Akiba is dogmatic conservatism in human
form; he is experience, shaking its heavy head. If youth were to listen
to him, despairing indifference would be the inevitable result.

Uriel lets himself be persuaded to recant. He does it for his mother's
and Judith's sake. His old, blind, believing mother comes to him, and
in a scene which never fails to affect the audience, persuades him to
recant and submit to the ignominious punishment--persuades only by her
silent dignity and the strength of her love, without a single entreaty
to do this or anything else for her sake. Uriel takes the step, hoping
that it will remove a weight from his mother's heart and make it
possible for him to marry Judith. But whilst he is still in prison
preparing for the penance, his mother dies, and Judith is forced to
marry Ben Jochai. He degrades himself in vain. Judith poisons herself,
and he (the drama in this point keeping to fact) shoots himself.

By reason of its theme, the tragedy of _Uriel Acosta_ occupies a
unique place in the German literature of the day. It is a tragedy of
free-thought, a drama that gives us a better idea than anything else
does of the period which produced it--a period of energetic struggle
for liberty, and of still more energetic oppression--and of the
spirit of that Young Germany which was so gallant in advance, but so
prone to defection and retractation. It is a play, too, which bears
unmistakable testimony to its author's qualities of head and heart. Any
one who compares Gutzkow's _Uriel Acosta_ with Heine's _Almansor_, will
subscribe to the affirmation already made, that the best men of Young
Germany in their best moments displayed a manly earnestness which we do
not find in Heine.

On the German stage _Uriel Acosta_ has now long been a favourite play.
The pure style and the treatment of the subject remind us of Lessing's
_Nathan der Weise_, but in energy and pathos Gutzkow in this case
surpasses Lessing. In spite of some weak parts, such as the Spinoza
scene, the dramatic construction is excellent.

Of all Gutzkow's works, this play has had the widest circulation. It
has been translated into all the Slavonic and all the Latin languages,
into English, Hungarian, and Swedish.

In Germany it was for a time, as Gutzkow himself aptly remarked, a
sort of barometer indicating the state of public opinion. When the
ecclesiastical reaction was in the ascendant, it was prohibited in many
of the theatres. When there was a change of system, the prohibition was
cancelled. It is significant that in Austria its performance was always
permitted in the provinces, but that the Concordat with the Pope stood
in the way of its being played in the Burg Theater of Vienna. As was to
be expected, the play was long in reaching Denmark; it was first played
there in the Nineties.

After 1835 Gutzkow writes nothing childish or crude. From this time
onwards he is the great, indefatigable literary worker; a student
and critic who possessed the faculty of discerning and explaining
the relation in which all characters, past or present, stood to the
requirements and problems of his day; an acute distinguisher of
the various drifts of the times; a psychologist distinguished for
his understanding of individual character. His _Goethe_ (1836) is
a thoughtful little work, in the first instance a protest against
Menzel; his long series of portraits (_Zeitgenossen_, afterwards
_Säkularbilder_) show qualities which somewhat later stood him in good
stead as a novelist; his _Life of Börne_ (1840) is a tribute to the
memory of that progenitor of Young Germany and a challenge to Heine,
whose injudicious and ungenerous work on Börne had lowered him in the
estimation of the young generation.

A special interest attaches to Gutzkow's dramatic attempts from the
fact that he and Laube were the first German authors of any position
since the days of Kleist to connect themselves with the theatre and to
win an honourable place for themselves on the German stage. Gutzkow
makes a laboured beginning with sentimental dramas that no longer
satisfy the public taste. His _Richard Savage, oder der Sohn einer
Mutter_ (1839) is from beginning to end a high-flown extravaganza. A
talented English poet, who has grown up in ignorance of his parentage,
discovers his mother in a beautiful, brilliant, aristocratic woman
of the world, who refuses to acknowledge him or to have anything
whatever to do with him. The play is a series of representations of
his fruitless attempts to win this mother's cold heart. _Werner, oder
Herz und Welt_ (1840), is a pathetic, middle-class drama, turning on
a theme on which Gutzkow rang many changes, the struggle in a man's
heart between an old attachment and a more recently formed connection.
Heinrich Werner has allowed himself to be adopted by people in a
position above his own. He has been ennobled under the name of von
Jordan, and has deserted a poor but charming young girl in order to
marry a lady of position. But in his new, affluent circumstances, he
misses his former plain, studious life, and, most of all, Marie Winter,
the girl to whom he had been engaged, and whom he cannot forget. He
suddenly meets her again as governess in his own house. He is long
distracted between his duty to his wife and his attraction to this
girl, whom he is determined to love only platonically, but whom he
really loves above everything. At last things come to a crisis. The
wife asserts her rights, rights that Heinrich refuses to acknowledge.
His morality is a higher, a freer than hers. She "shudders at his
principles." The knot is finally cut by a _deus ex machinâ_. A young
friend of Heinrich's comes to an agreement with Marie that he and she
will marry, and so prevent the breaking up of the family. The tragic
motive is thus, we observe, deprived of its point.

The first of Gutzkow's plays that it still gives one a reasonable
amount of pleasure to see is _Zopf und Schwert_ ("Pigtail and Sword"),
written in 1843. It is a play which has kept its place on the German
stage, but which never gained a firm footing outside of Germany
from the fact of its being a species of national drama. The beat of
a Prussian's heart is felt in it. Gutzkow's aim was to represent
Frederick William I. and his court in a comedy like those which
Scribe was bringing out so successfully about the same time. The
historic appreciation is, however, far from being so superficial as
in Scribe's comedies. Gutzkow had an eye for the admirable as well as
for the comical qualities of the miserly family tyrant, the monarch of
Spartan severity. But the very fact of the play being a comedy made a
really profound study of the character an impossibility. And it was
not Gutzkow's habit, and still less was it Laube's, to investigate
into historical characters and situations until they arrived at the
historic, as opposed to the traditional truth. Their history was simply
the vehicle of a more or less cleverly concocted plot. We have only to
open the first volume of Carlyle's _Frederick the Great_ to find such
an immensely more powerful and impressive picture of the eccentric
Prussian king with his tall grenadiers, that Gutzkow's in comparison
shrinks into a mild pleasantry. And we have only to look at a few
pages of the Memoirs of Gutzkow's heroine, Wilhelmine of Bayreuth,
to see that in the relations between her and her father there was no
suggestion of comedy. But, putting aside all thought of historical
correctness, we have a very pretty intrigue-play, with a historic
colouring which cannot fail to appeal to lovers of Prussia. _Zopf und
Schwert_ is a species of light-hearted pendant to Kleist's serious
_Prins von Homburg_.

Of the other plays written by Gutzkow in the Forties, _Das Urbild des
Tartüffe_ ("The Prototype of Tartuffe") has been the most successful,
but it is a much over-estimated work. A very charming little work
is _Der Königslieutenant_, an unassuming play, written for Goethe's
centenary, and treating of him in his youthful days.

The long historical novels, _Die Ritter vom Geist_ ("The Knights of
the Spirit"), _Der Zauberer von Rom_ ("The Roman Magician"), &c,
which Gutzkow wrote during the reaction period after 1848, and which
immensely strengthened his hold over the minds of his contemporaries,
do not come within the scope of the present work. They were the
forerunners of Spielhagen's long series of novels.

Next to Gutzkow, Heinrich Laube (born in Sprottau, in Silesia, in
1806) was the most eminent member of the new group. He is a clear-cut
type, a man with plenty of fresh, vigorous talent, exuberant spirits,
an intuitive perception of what is effective, a gift of slight, but
in most instances adequate character delineation, and, to start with,
many daring but shallow and second-hand ideas. He is not devoid of
feeling, nor totally devoid of earnestness, but his distinguishing
quality is his brisk, energetic practicalness. Between 1826 and 1832
he studied theology at Halle and Breslau. In 1832 he embarked on the
career of a journalist in Leipzig. In his unpedantic literary style,
as also in his outward appearance, there was something that seemed
to point to Slavonic blood in his veins. As a student he loved to go
about in a Polish braided coat, and eccentric caps and cloaks of his
own invention. He wrote with a fluency and vehemence, with a crude
naturalness and a want of exactitude which were not German. His blood
was hot and flowed quickly; he had the sanguine, choleric temperament,
without a touch of melancholy.

As a member of a student's union (Burschenschaft) and because he
had given too free expression to his sympathy with the Revolution
of July and its results in Germany, he was, in 1834, expelled from
Saxony and sentenced to nine months' imprisonment in Berlin. In the
introduction to his drama, _Monaldeschi_, we find an account of his
life in prison, of the monotony of that beautiful summer of 1834, which
he spent in his cell, without a book--nothing but a bed, a table, a
stool, and a pitcher of water. He also gives an indirect and more
effective description of the same experience in the Third Part of _Das
junge Europa_, where Valerius, upon scraps of paper procured with the
greatest difficulty, writes his impressions during a long confinement
in a Prussian prison.

We know what his conduct was after the Federal Council had prohibited
his writings as belonging to the Young German school; but to judge
him fairly we must remember that this blow came upon him immediately
after his release, and that, in spite of his subsequent cautious
behaviour, he was again, soon after his marriage in 1837, condemned to
imprisonment for participation in the doings of the Burschenschaften.
This time the punishment was mild, thanks apparently to the protection
of Prince Pückler-Muskau. The place of imprisonment was a country
house on the Prince's property of Muskau; for a cell he was given a
hall; instead of a skylight he had eight windows, looking in three
different directions. Even a short daily walk in the famous park was
permitted. He might read and write as much as he chose. His wife shared
his imprisonment. From this time onwards he shows extreme moderation
in politics. When, in 1848, he is elected a member of the German
National Assembly, he sides, not with the republican, but with the
"hereditary-imperial" party.

Laube makes his début in literature as a disciple of Heine. His
_Reisenovellen_, a long series of volumes, are the direct offspring of
the _Reisebilder_. But along with the influence of Heine we trace that
of Heinse. From Heine Laube takes liveliness and ingenuity of style,
and also to a certain extent the personal coxcombry by which we are
sometimes very unpleasantly affected; but it is from Wilhelm Heinse,
for whom he had an extreme admiration, and whose works he edited,
that he derives the undisguised sensualism which displays itself
in a positive cult of woman's outward charms constantly and loudly
proclaimed. In Heinse's case this worship of female form and colouring,
this adoration of the fleshly, is more primitive, more naïvely
Bacchanalian, more sincerely religious, than in Laube's. Laube at times
offends by coarseness, at times by an almost personal boastfulness of
woman-killing qualities, and at times it is too perceptible that he is
writing for the purpose of annoying his respectable neighbours.

When, in his old age, he began to republish his youthful works, the new
generation were astounded by the breaches of good taste which youthful
readers some forty years before had admired, and many assented to the
severe judgment which had lately been passed on him by Emil Kuh in the
chapter on Young Germany contained in his book on Hebbel. But it is
unfair to allow a little coarseness and want of taste here and there to
keep us from estimating Laube's work in its integrity.

In the _Reisenovellen_, in spite of the off-hand way in which they
are written, there is little originality. At the very beginning,
in the division entitled _Leipzig_, with its French sympathies and
its reverence of Napoleon, there is too strong a suggestion of the
_Reisebilder_. Laube, like Heine, in his childhood saw the great
Emperor; so he gives us to understand, but in such an uncertain manner
that we are left in doubt as to whether it was in a dream or in
reality; and Laube, too, has--in the person of Gardy the dragoon--his
drummer Legrand.

Those who wish to get a real, full impression of what Laube was as
a young man, ought to read his novel, _Das junge Europa_ (4 vols.
1833-37). A whole, long stage of his development is placed clearly
before us in this now pardonably forgotten book, which retains its
interest only for the historian. Its three parts--the Poets, The
Soldiers, The Citizens--are three works differing very much from each
other in kind and in quality.

In the First Part the author is completely under the influence of
Heinse's _Ardinghello_. "The Poets" is a sort of prose hymn to female
beauty and free love, in the old-fashioned form of a novel in letters,
which communicate the love fates of about a dozen people. When the
reader has struggled through them, there is left on his mind an
impression of the wild ecstatic desire of young, vigorous, hopeful
men, and of the resolute self-surrender of young and daring or tender
women, the impression of a generation in whose veins glows a desire for
liberty--political, social, erotic--which breaks down all forms and
all conventions. We see into an imaginary, romantic world, the world
of Laube's youthful dreams, where there is abundance of power and of
life, and of illusions as to the renovation of the world by means of
revolutions of various kinds. It is a romance of beautiful bodies and
beautiful souls, male and female, the essence of whose being is revolt
against Christianity and against marriage.

Between the First and the Second Part, a considerable change has
evidently come over the author's views; he has received his impression
of the strength of the reaction; he has ripened into a man. In the
First Part one could hardly help mixing up the characters, for the
men were only distinguished from each other by their more or less
fiery, erotic, uncontrollable temperaments, the woman only by the
dissimilarity of their physical charms; in the Second Part we are
introduced into a world where a real struggle for national and
political liberty is going on. The letter form is abandoned, and there
are comparatively few characters.

It is the revolt of Poland which is described; Valerius, one of the
principal characters in the First Part, is led by his enthusiasm
for liberty in general to join the Poles. The subject-matter is
interesting, though here and there we have too much of the purely
historical. The Poles as a people are described impartially and with
a sure touch; their characteristics--the strong patriotic feeling
inspiring high and low, the prejudices and tyranny of the nobility, the
savagery and vigour of the lower classes--are depicted as they mirror
themselves in the mind of the German volunteer. The distrust with which
he, as a foreigner, is received, the want of liberal-mindedness in
the devotees of liberty, which he observes more especially in their
conduct to his friend, a Polish officer of Jewish descent, gradually
dissipate the illusions which he had cherished of a golden future for
Europe, the final outcome of the Revolution of July. There is a tragic
tone throughout the book. We are shown how fruitless the rebellion of
the Poles is, how it ends, as it was fated to end, in crushing defeat;
and we are shown how the young Jew, Joel, in spite of his valiant
endeavours on the battlefield to gain for himself those rights which
his aristocratic countrymen enjoy, can never rise from his position as
the pariah of Polish society. The woman he loves dares not give him
her hand; a common peasant disdains his sympathy. After the revolt
is suppressed, he puts off his uniform in despair and shoulders the
pedlar's wallet. The Christians repudiate him, the Jews he himself long
ago alienated by his alliance with the Christians, his humanity gives
him no rights; there is nothing for it but to forget his learning, his
philosophy, his scientific and military talent, and to wander from
village to village, selling ribbons, as his forefathers did.

This character has a special interest for Danes, as it evidently
suggested to Goldschmidt some of the leading characteristics of the
hero of his novel, _En Jöde_ ("A Jew"); he, too, becomes a Polish
officer during the struggle for liberty, and he too, repulsed
everywhere, in the bitterness of despair ends his career as a
money-lender, outside the pale of society.

The Third Part of _Das junge Europa_ ("The Citizens") is an inferior
production. Its chief interest for us lies in what it tells us of
two of the most enthusiastic, indomitable heroes of the First Part,
Hippolyt and Constantin. Hippolyt is finally driven to despair by the
civilisation of the modern world, which leaves no room for the great
exception, but requires all to be alike small. The bold Constantin,
who fought in the streets of Paris in the Days of July, makes his
appearance not very many years later as a Prussian judge, inflexibly,
fanatically severe in his dealings with political revolutionaries.
Constantin enters into long explanations of the influences that have
wrought the change in his convictions (this character was evidently
drawn from the life); but the author is still so possessed by the
ideals of his own youth, that he makes this man commit suicide in
despair at having been unfaithful to these ideals.

From the year 1849 till his death in the Eighties, Laube, as is well
known, devoted all his powers to the theatre. He speedily became
the best and most highly esteemed theatrical manager of Germany and
Austria. As such he always retained a preference for the French drama.
What he himself wrote for the stage is what will keep his name longest
in remembrance.

Of the many historical dramas which he produced, the most
important--_Monaldeschi_ (1834), _Struensee_ (1844), and _Die
Karlsschüler_ (1847)--are suggestive of the ideals of Young Germany as
they took shape in Laube's mind. The last-mentioned play became popular
and is still often put on the stage; the others are effective pieces in
a style that is now obsolete.

The character of Monaldeschi is a vigorous conception. He is the
bold, unscrupulous adventurer, who has no higher aim than to make his
way and to enjoy life to the full, but who understands the meaning
of power, and desires to use his power worthily--the Hippolyt of
_Das junge Europa_ in historic costume. With Queen Christina's more
complex feminine character, Laube has not been so successful, though
his representation of her has elements out of which a good actress
could make a telling part. But the play as a whole is overweighted by
the intolerable sentimentality of the love scenes (Monaldeschi has a
romantic attachment to a certain Sylva Brahe), and it suffers as a work
of art from its author's dread of offending a Philistine public's sense
of propriety. The real relations between Christina and Monaldeschi are
smoothed down into indistinctness. The sharp edges of historic fact
are filed away to make the subject fit into the mould of theatrical

In _Struensee_, the second of Laube's dramas in which the action
passes at a Scandinavian court, still greater liberties have been
taken with history and historical characters. Laube makes Struensee
the noble, liberty-loving reformer, whose only fault is an excessive
German humanity, which shrinks from shedding blood. Had he only
been a trifle less high-minded and scrupulous, he might easily have
remained in power. The weakness that is his ruin is his chivalrous,
platonic devotion to Caroline Mathilde, who returns the sentiment
in an equally innocent manner. Christian VII. is represented as an
estimable, somewhat taciturn monarch, subject to attacks of melancholy.
Struensee's fall is brought about entirely by Germans, who are
partly envious of him, partly enraged because he will not comply
with their unreasonable wishes; and the bitter moral of the play is,
that the worst enemies of a German intellectual hero are his own
countrymen--Germans have always had to suffer most from Germans, who
show their want of patriotism even in their relations with foreigners.

Quite apart from the historic inaccuracy of the character, the
sentimentally erotic Struensee, with "his enthusiasm for all that
is noble and beautiful," is a very impossible parvenu minister of
state. Laube has tampered with facts to the extent of representing
Struensee's death as the result of a shot fired, by order of Guldberg,
at the moment of his arrest in the castle on the 17th of January
1772. The chief reason, and at the same time excuse, for all this
perversion of facts lay in the necessity for presenting them in such
a shape that the censorship might not forbid the play on account of
the possibility of its giving offence to a friendly power. We get some
idea of how severe this censorship was, when we read that, in spite of
Laube's precautions, the performance of _Struensee_ was for many years
prohibited in Prussia, out of consideration for the feelings of the
Danish royal family.

It is, nevertheless, impossible to understand why such a perfectly
harmless and studiously, punctiliously, inoffensive play as _Die
Karlsschüler_ should, immediately after its appearance in 1846, have
been prohibited throughout Austria, Prussia, Hanover, Würtemberg,
Hesse-Cassel, all the Grand Duchies and several of the Duchies. It is
in reality nothing whatever but a panegyric on the youthful Schiller,
in a representation of the well-known difficulties he got into as a
young regimental surgeon in the service of Duke Karl of Würtemberg,
ending with his flight from Stuttgart to Mannheim. It forms a
parallel to Gutzkow's Goethe comedy, _Der Königslieutenant_, which it
surpasses in dramatic vigour. In this case, too, Laube has sacrificed
strict historic truth. Duke Karl's character is softened and toned
down exactly as King Frederick William's was in Gutzkow's _Zopf und
Schwert_. This is not only art which is compelled to be cautious, but
art which has come into being under the oppression of a tradition which
has insinuated itself into the very disposition of the artist. But the
disposition was a cheerful, buoyant one, and the hand that wrote these
scenes was light and skilful. Something of the lustre that surrounds
its hero's name is shed upon the play. It is probable that as long as
Schiller retains his great popularity in Germany, Germans will enjoy
seeing this transcription of his youthful history--though they know
many facts concerning that history now that were not known at the
time _Die Karlsschüler_ was written. Such a play is not calculated to
produce much effect out of Germany.

After Gutzkow's and Laube's, Mundt's is the name that occurs most
frequently when mention is made of the leaders of Young Germany. It is
about the year 1835 that Mundt is most distinctly the mouthpiece of
the feelings and ideas of that school. In 1835 he published _Charlotte
Stieglitz, ein Denkmal_, the only one of his historical delineations
which had any real influence on the minds of the youth of the day. This
work, no doubt chiefly owing to its subject, but also to its pathetic,
affectionately reverent treatment of that subject, took thousands of
hearts by storm. In the same year appeared his _Madonna, Unterhaltungen
mit einer Heiligen_ ("Converse with a Saint"), which, more than any
other of his works, gives expression to the sentiments of Young
Germany, and a clue to the character of its author.

Theodor Mundt, born at Potsdam in 1808, was a man capable of
enthusiastic, yet clear-sighted devotion to causes and to persons. He
had Wienbarg's enthusiastic temperament (though not his bravery), with
a much more highly gifted, many-sided mind. And yet there was no edge
or pungency in his wit, no grace in his whimsicality, no method in his
works, no conciseness in his style. His book on Charlotte Stieglitz
is the only one of his works that has survived him, and it has done
so thanks to its subject. He could be caustic and biting and unjust,
as weak natures are apt to be, but even his most caustic tirades
are not the expression of any warlike inclination; they are only
penned in self-defence and self-assertion, are called forth by some
misunderstanding on the part of an opponent, and are no more dangerous
than the thrusts of an angry wether.

It is surprising to the modern reader that a work like Mundt's
_Madonna_ can ever have been considered a dangerous book. To understand
how this could be, we must keep in mind that those in power at the
time of its publication stood in terror of shadows. It is, however, a
book which must not be overlooked by any one who is making a study of
the period, for there is something typical in its expression of the
thoughts and enthusiasms of the youth of the day.

In its very formlessness, _Madonna_ is characteristic of Mundt, and
of those whose literary taste was identical with his. It contains
prose lyric effusions, descriptions of travel, personal confessions,
world-revolutionising theories of the rehabilitation of the flesh by
means of a hitherto unknown mystic creed--all this grouped round a
central female figure and interwoven with her story.

The book opens with a "post-horn symphony," well written in the old
Romantic style, but not Romantic in tendency. It is a glorification
of "movement," the shibboleth which Mundt invented and fell in love
with. Movement is to him what progress and the struggle for freedom
were to others--the watchword of the new era. He talks of the party
of movement; the new literature is to him the literature of movement
(_Bewegungslitteratur_); in a postscript to _Madonna_ he calls that
book _ein Bewegungsbuch_. We perceive that the expression is perfectly
neutral and innocent.

The only readable part of _Madonna_ nowadays is the heroine's
narrative of her life experiences. The author meets her in a little
Bohemian village; when he first sees her, walking in a Roman Catholic
procession, he is tremendously impressed by her extraordinary beauty.
Later in the same day he accidently makes his way into her father's
cottage, wins the narrow-minded, bigoted old man's heart (in a very
improbable manner) by the unction with which he tells him the story of
Casanova, who had at one time lived in that neighbourhood in the castle
of Dux, receives an invitation to supper, and spends part of the night
in a sentimental conversation with the daughter, whom he discovers to
be a woman deserving, in his estimation, the name of saint--a secular
or worldly saint (_eine Weltheilige_)--and who, in that capacity,
embraces and kisses him, weeping hot tears. He is obliged to leave the
neighbourhood next morning, but soon afterwards receives from her an
immoderately lengthy letter--_Die Bekenntnisse einer weltlichen Seele_
("The Confessions of a Worldly Soul")--in which she makes a frank
revelation of herself and all her experiences.

This beautiful girl is an unfortunate victim. She has been enticed by
a relative, a depraved woman, to leave Teplitz, her native town, where
she lived in poverty with her parents, and come to Dresden. There,
under the pretext of providing for her future, this woman educated her
for a rich debauchee, a man of high position, whose prey she was to
become as soon as she was grown up. The time comes; all preparations
are made; at night she is locked into a room with her benefactor and
pursuer, whom she loathes. She forcibly breaks away from him, manages
to get out, and, in her despair, seeing a light in the room of a young
theological student who lives in the same house, takes refuge with him.
She has long loved this young man and he her. Now with chaste passion
she gives herself to him, and he cannot find it in his heart to repulse
her. But on the following day, repenting as a Christian of his sin,
he commits suicide. The young girl has to make her way on foot from
Dresden to her native village in Bohemia, where, after her experience
of the life and variety of a great town, she pines in sadness and
loneliness. Her old father, with whom she lives, is a cripple and a
fanatically bigoted Roman Catholic.

The point in this story evidently lies in the innocence of the young
girl's self-abandonment, innocence which the world calls guilt. To
the author his heroine is a saint, a Madonna, the type of lovable
womanliness. She is a carnal saint, undoubtedly; but it is his creed
that we can conceive of nothing more holy, that there exists nothing
more spiritual, than the carnal. And he propounds a neither new nor
remarkable, but somewhat peculiarly formulated theory of the necessity
for a fusion of flesh and spirit, for the abolition of the distinction
between spiritual and carnal. "The world and the flesh must be
reinstated in their rights, in order that the spirit may no longer have
to live in the sixth storey, as it does in Germany." And he brings the
narration of a very lengthy Bohemian legend of Libussa to a close with
the jubilant cry: "The free woman is sovereign; let her decide, let her
speak, for she has the right to speak! And sweet is the happiness of
free love!"

Mundt began as a Hegelian, but his Hegelianism has, as we see, turned
into a sort of fantastic mysticism. Christ declared that his kingdom is
not of this world, and yet he came to us and himself became world. God,
out of love, entered into the flesh, and the world's flesh has become
holy since it became God. Hence the kingdom of God flourishes over
the wide earth, and yet it is, as Christ declared, not of this world,
that is, not of the world which is flesh only, and which sets its face
against the free "movement" of thought. Like an insufficiently trained
pedant, Mundt involves himself in lengthy and confused polemics against
"the beyond" which is without "the here," and against "the here" which
refuses to know anything of "the beyond." He ends by enthusiastically
proclaiming the praises of what he calls "the image" (as distinct from
both spiritless matter and immaterial spirit): "O ye philosophers! what
you want is the image.... I contend for the rehabilitation of the

If there ever was a man unsuited to be a leader and teacher of
other men, it was this unctuous proclaimer of self-evident truths.
_Madonna_ was followed by a long series of historical novels (a still
longer series came from the pen of Mundt's wife, who wrote under the
pseudonym of Louise Mühlbach), and a considerable number of critical
and historical writings. Amongst these latter one of the best is his
_Geschichte der Litteratur der Gegenwart_ ("History of Present Day
Literature"), 1842, because in it he treats a subject with which he
has a thorough acquaintance; but it, too, like all his other works,
is formless, full of undigested material, and spoiled by would-be
profundity. He reads, for instance, a special meaning into the fact
that Hegel died of cholera. Hegel's system, he writes, was, like
Casimir Périer's, a universally levelling _juste-milieu_ system:
hence he, like Casimir Périer, was fated to die of this universally
levelling malady. It was a malady which must be regarded as the
physical expression of the general anguish of the times. Troubled
and restless, the body had attacked its own intestines, and was at
last obliged to pay the penalty of its craving to know and understand
itself, by performing the last possible process of self-examination,
that of vomiting itself up.[5]

In a work entitled _Das junge Deutschland_, consisting for the
most part of letters to the publisher, Feodor Wehl, the well-known
theatrical manager, has endeavoured to give the reading world a
more favourable idea of Mundt than that prevalent in our days; and
he has succeeded in producing the impression that Mundt was a man
with excellent intentions, many acquirements, and no small degree of
enthusiasm in the causes that were sympathetic to him. He is not, and
never will be considered, a great writer.

The authors of the second rank, the rearguard of Young Germany, men
like Gustav Kühne, Hermann Marggraff, and Alexander Jung, are in
reality his equals. Their gifts lie, like his, partly in the direction
of journalism, partly in that of creative authorship. They are men of
character, cultivation, and distinct literary ability, animated by the
same fundamental ideas as the men in the front ranks.

The reader who takes up Kühne's _Weibliche und männliche Charaktere_
(1838) will be agreeably surprised by the vigour and brilliancy of his
delineations, and by his accurate appreciations of public personages.
His heroines are those of his school--Rahel, Bettina, Charlotte
Stieglitz; but he sees them with his own eyes and describes them with
unpretentious enthusiasm. Among the poets, who are the subjects of
his laudatory criticism, are not only the great Radicals of a former
generation like Shelley, not only all the singers of freedom of his
own day, from Anastasius Grün to Karl Beck, but tranquil spirits
like Rückert and Chamisso. He is not remarkably original, but he is
impartial and unprejudiced.

The same can be said of Hermann Marggraff. Though his book
_Deutschlands jüngste Litteratur- und Culturepoche_ (1839), is written
in the spirit of Young Germany, its author always reserves his right to
perfectly independent judgment. He is a thoughtful, earnest critic and
a good writer, always natural, at times brilliant. His errors are much
more due to Conservative tendencies than to excessive modernity.

Unless we single out the _enfants perdus_ of this new school--and there
are such in every school--it cannot be said that its members gave any
real occasion for the violent attacks made upon it. It is not Young
Germany, but its assailants, who uniformly show the worst taste and
exaggerate most grossly.

Such an assailant was Tieck, now an elderly man. Several of his tales
contain thrusts at Young Germany; that in which it is satirised most
directly is _Der Wassermensch_; but the caricature is so overdone that
it loses all effect.

Florheim, the representative of Young Germany, is half crazy with
enthusiasm for Frenchmen and Jews. He poses as the democrat and
friend of freedom in a manner which we should consider foolish in an
ordinary schoolboy. He maintains that in every concert programme the
Marseillaise ought to have a place, to keep people from forgetting
what is the one thing above all others. He would have portraits of the
great heroes of liberty, Mirabeau, Washington, Franklin, Kosciuszko,
&c, inserted in every printed book, even in cookery books. In every
almanac, if he could have his will, July should be printed in red
letters, to keep the glorious Revolution of July in ever fresh
remembrance. And he hopes that all the truly noble will unite in
insisting that the nouns, prince, lord, king, count, squire, &c, shall
be written without capital letters, in order to show contempt for their

When the Privy Councillor (Geheimrath), the representative of
intelligent Conservatism, asks Florheim how he and his ("Sie, die Sie
sich das junge Deutschland nennen"--you who call yourselves Young
Germany) hope to carry out their plans and plots against the existing
order of things, he answers naïvely: "By perpetual abuse of all that
stands in our way." And he goes on to show how it was thus they treated
Goethe in the last years of his age--an assertion which is quite
contrary to fact--and how, now that they are the "party of movement"
and already in possession of the most important newspapers, they are
in a position to form an invisible and yet open league spread over the
whole of Germany, which shall ruin every author who is not of their
way of thinking, and make the reputation of its own members by means
of unscrupulous mutual laudations.[6]

The reality was very different from this. The caricature has the double
fault of not being like and not being amusing. Mundt took an ingenious
revenge some years later by suggesting the performance of Tieck's
fairy-tale comedies in Berlin.

[1] A. Strodtmann: H. Heine's _Leben und Werke_, 1874, ii. 174, &c.

[2] Cursed be the friend who is faithful to thee in trouble! Never
shall a woman's loving heart cherish thee.

[3] He _is_ beloved! Trust better prophets!

[4] Th. Mundt: _Madonna_, pp. 142, 274, 326, 374, 406.

[5] Mundt: _Litteratur der Gegenwart_, p. 353.

[6] L. Tieck: _Gesammelte Novellen_, Breslau, 1855, i. 38, 79.



The representation of the relation between literature and politics, the
history of literary events, and the delineation of the characters and
work of the most eminent of the men who constituted Young Germany, do
not sufficiently reveal to us the spirit, the psychical condition of
the time.

What is done, and what happens, is its outward manifestation. In books,
effect is a first consideration; what is represented in them must
be to a certain extent exaggerated, thrown into relief, if only for
the sake of distinctness. To find the clue to the intellectual life
_lived_ at any given period, we must get as close as possible to the
living, feeling, individual, and we must not neglect to supplement the
impression received from an observation of the leading men of the time
by a study of its typical women.

It is where there is more feeling than action, where, in spite of great
originality, the formative, the fashioning power is too slight entirely
to separate the production from the personality, that the student comes
into closest contact with the life-springs of a period. A letter from
a highly gifted woman tells us more of the living human being and its
real emotions than a political speech or a tragedy.

Not one of the few great women who ruled men's minds during the period
under consideration produced a work of art; not one of them even
attempted to. They neither wrote novels nor essays. Their literary
influence was a directly personal influence, and their power of
stirring men's minds was evidently due to the fact that something of
the inmost essence of the period was expressed in their personalities.
Their natures are unplastic, evasive; the contours of their spiritual
lives are blurred and indistinct; this makes it difficult to delineate
their characters, but makes it all the easier to feel the pulse of the
time in their utterances.

They help us to arrive at the result that the idea which shapes the
lives of the most noble characters of this period, and which makes
itself felt in the resistance they offered to the worship of rule and
the tyranny of custom, is the idea that the one course worthy of a
thinking, feeling, human being is independently and unconventionally
to interpret human life, human relations, for himself, and to base
his conduct on his own interpretation. This is not a new idea; it
originated in Germany with Herder, descended from him to all the
preachers of the gospel of Nature, including that Heinse who had such
a strong influence upon some of the leaders of Young Germany, but was
more especially developed and applied in all the relations of life
by Goethe. A careful study of the characters of the most remarkable
women of the time shows that the subterranean, hidden secret of the
period between 1810 and 1838, what had happened deepest down, was that
Goethe's theory of life had, point by point, displaced the Church
theory and taken possession of all the men of great instincts, of all
the really gifted minds of the day.

Rahel Varnhagen von Ense is, beyond all comparison, the greatest of
the women who occupied the attention of intellectual Germany in the
Thirties and Forties. She died in March 1833, and in 1835 her husband
published the three volumes of selections from her letters and journals
which revealed to the great reading public what manner of woman she had
been. This publication was followed by many others, of which she was
the main theme.

A less innately great, but much more talented woman than Rahel was
Bettina von Arnim, who, in 1835, published _Goethe's Briefwechsel mit
einem Kinde_ (Goethe's Correspondence with a Child), a work which
created a great sensation and was most favourably received.

Rahel's name is remembered by the quiet, powerful influence she
steadily exercised for so many years; Bettina's shines with the lustre
of her brilliant talent and sparkling wit; the third woman who made
a deep impression on the men and women of that day is remembered by
one action, her suicide. This was Charlotte Stieglitz, who committed
suicide in December 1834, and whose biography, diaries, and letters
were published by Theodor Mundt in 1835. She was at once made the
subject of studies and panegyrics by the new school. Gustav Kühne, in
particular, wrote an admirable notice of her. It was her death which,
as has been already mentioned, suggested Gutzkows _Wally_.

Rahel Antonie Friederike Varnhagen (family name originally Levin,
afterwards Robert) was born in Berlin in 1771. She would thus seem to
belong to quite another epoch than that of the Revolution of July; but
it was not until after her death that she became a public personage,
and entered, by means of her written words, into relations with the
literary public. She was one of those rare beings whose inexhaustible
vigour and freshness of mind enable them to understand everything and
every one, to sympathise with the most dissimilar individuals and
tendencies, to penetrate to the core of things; and whose wide and
untiring sympathy wins for them all their life long the affection and
admiration of the élite of their time, young and old. Rahel received
the same homage from Karl Gutzkow that she had received from Schelling
and Friedrich Schlegel, from Schleiermacher and Wilhelm von Humboldt.
She had shown herself a fervid patriot during the war of liberation,
superintending hospitals in Berlin and Prague; and she was admired
by Heinrich Heine, who dedicated the Lyric Intermezzo in the _Buch
der Lieder_ to her when she was fifty. She, who had been the intimate
of the famous men of the beginning of the century, the Prince de
Ligne, Fichte, Prince Louis Ferdinand, Fouqué, and many others,
surprised every one by her enthusiastic appreciation of Victor Hugo's
_Les Orientales_, and the writings of the Saint-Simonists. There is
something great about such a life, undramatic though it be.

It gives us a feeling of the many-sidedness of her character to
remember the long list of persons, differing from each other in
every possible way, with whom she was on intimate terms. There are
depths in her nature which still surprise us, and vaguenesses quite
incomprehensible to the modern mind. The magic of her nature lay in
the spoken word, the momentary impression, the opportune utterance: so
it is not easy to reconstruct. A strong influence emanated from her,
yet her real life was introspective; she was a woman of distinctly
aristocratic instincts and sentiments, and yet so tender hearted that
her sympathies extended far and wide.

The daughter of a rich Jewish merchant, as a girl plain-looking and
without talent of any description, she grows up in her father's house
in Berlin at a time when as yet the Jews had none of the rights
of citizens. At the age of twenty-five she has already become an
influential member of the best society of the capital, and from the
age of thirty till her death her house is the intellectual centre of
Berlin, and one of the intellectual centres of Germany. Her great
attraction was her perfect originality and unconventionality. All
human beings desire and love to see themselves mirrored in the mind
of a greater human being, all crave for sympathy, all would fain
be understood. And those who approached Rahel--princes and nobles,
diplomats and philosophers, poets and scientists--felt instinctively
that this young girl with the slight, graceful figure, the beautifully
formed limbs, the thick, waving hair surrounding a face with an
expression of suffering, but with a deep, steadfast look in its
dark eyes, was worthy of their confidence, and this for the one and
sufficient reason, that she was innocent of all prejudices.

She gladly associates with a charming hetæra like Pauline Wiese,
Prince Louis Fredinand's friend; is her and her cynical husband's
and her princely lover's confidante. She has a sincere regard for a
reactionary sensualist like Friedrich Gentz, warmly congratulates him
when he, at the age of sixty, wins the affections of Fanny Elsler, sees
in him the distinguished prose writer and the politician who had been
of national importance at a critical moment. Human beings are to her,
in Goethe's sense, natural products.

That she, with her strict personal morality and Liberal tendencies,
should have been able to rise to such a height of freedom from
prejudice and gain such a wide horizon, was primarily due to her having
been born in a sort of sanctuary outside the pale of society, that is
to say in the house of a wealthy Berlin Jew.

In intolerant, stiff old Prussia, the alien, despised, hooknosed
money-lenders had sat behind their counters for some centuries, with
no thought for anything but money--piling thaler upon thaler, buying
bills, and lending money even to princes. With all their wealth they
were ignorant, orthodox, superstitious. But during the period of
enlightenment the influence of Moses Mendelssohn thoroughly aroused
them. Their piety became a noble rationalism, and they comprehended
the meaning of knowledge and culture. By the close of the eighteenth
century they were giving their sons a perfectly new training, and
society was also beginning to look upon these sons as men to whom
reparation for a wrong was due.

It was in the generation of these sons that the Jewish houses all at
once opened their long closed doors, revealing interiors which in no
way resembled the cramped middle-class German houses--spacious rooms
with rich Oriental carpets and hangings; here and there a valuable
painting, made over to father or grandfather by some prince in
pecuniary difficulties; on the dinner tables gold and silver plate, the
finest crystal sparkling upon lace-edged linen, choice viands, and the
rarest wines. The mistress of the house and her daughters had received
a higher and more refined education than others in their rank of life;
they were deeply interested in theology, philosophy, and music; they
had developed quickly under the influence of the mixed society which
now frequented their house.[1]

For here, as upon neutral ground, met all those whom society usually
separated, members of all its different ranks and castes, and many whom
it altogether excluded; German and foreign actresses had the entrance
of no other middle-class houses in Berlin; here they were received on
the same footing as the other guests. The princes frequented no other
middle-class houses, if it were for no other reason than that the
company they met there bored them. To these houses they came, attracted
by the easy tone and by the wit of the women. It was a refined Bohemia.
It was the first development of the cosmopolitan spirit in the Berlin
of old Prussia.

It is in these circles that Rahel grows up, early distinguished by
her friendship with Prince Louis Ferdinand, the hero of the young
generation of that day, son of Frederick the Great's youngest brother.
He was about Rahel's own age, chivalrous, artistic, loose in his
morals, brave to foolhardiness, a first-rate musician, and a first-rate
cavalry general. Goethe describes him in his book on the campaign of
1793. Like all the princes of that day, he had been educated like
a Frenchman, to the extent (as we know from some of his published
letters) of not being able to spell German correctly; nevertheless
he was an ardent enemy of Napoleon, and burned to match his troops
against the great Emperor's. Like the Prince of Homburg in his day,
he disobeyed an order to retreat, and, infuriated by the defeat at
Saalfeld, refusing to flee, refusing to yield, was cut down by the
French hussars. He confided his wild love adventures to Rahel, and
found comfort, when suffering from the treachery of a faithless lady
love, in tranquil, serious conversation with his sisterly friend.

But Rahel was not always in a position to comfort others. In her young
days she stood sorely in need of comfort herself. By nature she was
of such an irritably nervous temperament that as a child she was with
difficulty kept in life: "Let the air be too dense or too rare, too
warm or too cold, and I am ill at once. And the slightest excitement
has a still worse effect. I cannot imagine any one more sensitive." In
nearly all her letters, immediately after the date, we find a detailed
description of the weather and temperature: "Friday, 14th March,
1828.--A grey day, with south-west wind, damp and yet spring-like,
though not inviting for a walk. Pigeons are flying. Every now and
then a blue window appears in the sky; at this moment sunlight is
coming through one of them." "23rd March, 1829.--The sun has broken
through the clouds and is shining brightly; a cold, sharp, unmistakable
north-east wind; impossible to go to the Thiergarten, where there is
still ice and it is as cold as in a cellar." "17th April,--Noon; spring
weather after rain; the trees turning green. To me the best time of the
whole year--no flies or mosquitoes, no heat. Spring is approaching,
wafting to us a thousand memories, and a thousand hopes which can never
be fulfilled, but which are a necessity to us."

Such natures deserve and arouse as much compassion as admiration.
Her friend, W. von Burgsdorf, writes to her: "When I saw you for the
first time, it struck me at once that you must have been educated by
long suffering." It was true; she had had an infirm body, a melancholy
youth, a severe father, and had early suffered humiliation. Her Jewish
birth was the cause of great unhappiness to her--an unhappiness almost
unworthy of her; she calls it a sword thrust into her heart by a
supernatural being at the moment of her birth. Not one fibre in her
nature attached her to the religious community to which by birth she
belonged. The memory of its fanaticism and of the fanatical enmity
displayed towards it was still fresh. As lately as 1756 the Jewish
community in Berlin had expelled a child from the town for having
carried a book for a Christian. And on the other side, even Moses
Mendelssohn could not go out with his children without having stones
thrown at them.

With all the power of his intellect and will, Rahel's father had
striven to overcome the sickly child's independence of character,
and only her unusual elasticity and strength of mind enabled her to
preserve her originality. When young she felt as if she had suffered
so much there could not possibly be anything left in her to be bent or

It was inevitable that a woman with this passionate nature should love
passionately and should suffer agony through her love. And she did not
escape her fate. Twice, when she loved most ardently, she experienced
as it were the feeling of being struck down with an assassin's knife
and of living for years with the knife in the wound.

At the age of twenty-four she formed a very strong attachment to Count
Karl von Finckenstein, the son of a Prussian minister, a man a year
younger than herself. They became engaged, and Rahel lived for some
years solely for this love. Finckenstein was good-hearted, very much
in love, and sincerely devoted to her, but his character was weak. He
told her what he had to bear from his family, whose pride revolted
against an alliance with a person of inferior position, and who
were endeavouring to make him give her up. Rahel's pride was deeply
wounded, and she gave him back his word. In character and intellect his
superior, she could easily have vanquished his scruples if she had made
up her mind to do so, but instead of this she set him free at once, and
he was weak enough, attached though he was to her, to take the liberty
she offered. She never overcame this first great humiliation.

Three years passed, and she fell in love again, this time passionately,
soul and senses, and the feeling was returned. Her second engagement
was to Don Raphael Urquijo, a particularly attractive young attaché
of the Spanish embassy in Berlin. The engagement lasted for a year.
They were passionately attached to each other, but their characters
were too unlike, he was too decidedly her inferior. He tormented and
insulted her with his jealousy to such an extent that to preserve
her self-respect she parted from him; but she did it with a feeling
of crushing, maddening grief, a feeling of loneliness, of being left
exposed to all the coldness of life without that shelter from it which
she, with her woman's heart, could so ill dispense with.

After Finckenstein's desertion, it had been proposed that she should
make a _mariage de convenance_. Her answer was: "I cannot marry, for I
cannot lie. Do not imagine that I am proud of myself for this; I cannot
do it, just as I cannot play the flute.... He must have no prejudices,
otherwise I could not stand it.... And he must not be stupid and
compel me to lie and pretend that I admire him. I must be able to say
exactly what I choose."

For long the needs of her heart were only incompletely satisfied, and
she applied herself all the more ardently to intellectual pursuits. It
was a great hindrance to her that she had acquired so little knowledge.
She herself talked about her dense ignorance. She was, of course,
very far from being ignorant, but so much is certain, that she never
acquired any real insight into what science is, and never thought a
scientific thought.

She had been taught as little Jewish dogma as history and geography.
She says that she grew up like a tree in the forest, and that it was as
impossible for her to learn religion as anything else. So she evolved
a religion of her own, which, as Karl Hillebrand correctly observes,
has something akin with Schopenhauer's doctrine; her ideas of a will in
nature, of the misery of the world, of compassion as the only source of
morality, are akin to his. She was a great admirer of Angelus Silesius
and Saint-Martin; like Goethe she was an ardent Pantheist, She copies
the German mystic's lines:

   "Alle Tugenden sind eine Tugend.
    Schau, alle Tugenden sind ein ohn' Unterschied.
    Willst du den Namen hör'n? Sie heisst Gerechtigkeit,"[2]

and writes beneath them:

"Weil sie Wahrheit ist Einfachheit, Unparteilichkeit, Selbstlosigkeit,
Austheilung für Alle."[3]

She saw everything in its unity, its entirety. There was something
of the Delphic priestess in her nature. It is a pity that her words,
disconnected from her personality as we have them, are so often dark
oracular sayings.

She was, says Karl Hillebrand, full of leniency towards the culpable,
of sympathy with the slighted and humble, of compassion for the poor;
the one thing she despised was correct mediocrity, and her contempt for
this she displayed openly, even when by so doing she made enemies.

Time passed, and she grew into the old maid; but years made no change
in her appearance and did not diminish her wonderful power. For ten
years she carried on a tender correspondence with her future husband,
Varnhagen von Ense. He was fourteen years younger than herself, was
first a brave officer, then a clever diplomatist, and finally an
excellent, very aggressive writer; he had to distinguish himself in
both war and peace before he could appear in the character of her
fiancé without being entirely overlooked. She married him when she was
forty-two, and had a perfectly happy married life for nineteen years.

Rahel owes her literary distinction to the fact that she was the
first in the literary circles of Berlin to comprehend and to proclaim
Goethe's real greatness. Long before any decisive opinion on this vital
question in German culture had been arrived at, Rahel, fully persuaded
of Goethe's genius, completely under the spell of its power, proclaimed
to all with whom she came into contact that this man was not to be
compared with other men; that he stood alone--the loftiest intellect,
the wisest counsellor and judge in all the affairs of life. This was
at a time when Goethe as an author was only one among the crowd, and
when others were ranked high above him. Long before the criticism of
the brothers Schlegel established his position beyond dispute, Rahel
had introduced the cult of the great, uncomprehended, misjudged genius
in her circle in Berlin, had everywhere proclaimed the praises of his
illuminating word, and declared his name to be a holy, a consecrated

In 1795, when she is only twenty-four, she is so fortunate as to meet
him at Teplitz. We learn from a letter from David Veit to Rahel,
what Goethe said about her: "Yes, that now is a girl of remarkable
intellect, a girl who is always thinking--and as to feeling--where is
the like of her to be found? We were constantly together, and were on
the most friendly, intimate terms." To Franz Horn, Goethe said: "She
is a girl with a loving heart; she feels everything very strongly, and
yet expresses herself very gently--we admire the originality and are
charmed by the amiability."

When Rahel is told this, she writes: "How can he know that I have
feeling? Never in my life was it so difficult for me to show myself as
I am. But why write thus? He is Goethe. And what he feels and says is
true. I believe what he says of me.... When you see him, Horn, greet
him from one who has always worshipped him, idolised him, even when no
one else praised, understood, admired him. And if he wonders at a staid
young woman sending him such a greeting, make him understand that her
excessive reverence for him prevented her telling him how she reveres
him. Tell him that this is not affectation, but true, tender feeling
(_Pflaumenweichheit_). It is not my fault that others affect what in my
case is serious earnest. Am I not right? Yes, yes! I worship him."

Nothing further happens; there is not the slightest attempt on Rahel's
part to keep up the acquaintance with Goethe, by correspondence, or any
other means. She never mentions his person, only his genius. Twenty
years pass, during which she sees nothing of him. Once, in 1811,
Varnhagen sends Goethe some appreciations of his poetry written by
Rahel. Goethe is much struck by them, pronounces the author to have a
remarkable gift of instantaneously grasping, comprehending, connecting,
helping, completing; but he never learns--Rahel having forbidden
Varnhagen to tell--who the author of the manuscript is. In 1815, in the
neighbourhood of Frankfort, Rahel sees Goethe again. There is something
touching about this meeting. Goethe is now sixty-six. He is visiting
his friend, Marianne von Willemer (the Suleika of the _Diwan_) at
Willemer's country house "die Gerbermühle." Rahel, who is in Frankfort,
accidentally sees him driving with his hosts, and in her sudden joyful
surprise calls loudly: "There is Goethe."

Twenty years, as already mentioned, have passed. It is a quarter past
nine on the morning of the 8th of September. Rahel, who had been
suffering from an affection of the eyes, has got up later than usual,
and is standing half-dressed, brushing her teeth, when the landlord
comes to say that a gentleman wishes to see her. Her maid hands her
his card. It is Goethe. And out of pure respect, that he may not have
to wait, she does not take time to dress herself properly, to make
herself look presentable: "I told them to ask him to walk into the
sitting-room, and only kept him waiting the time that it took me to put
on a dressing-gown (_Unterrock_). It was a black quilted dressing-gown.
I sacrificed myself so as not to keep him waiting one minute. It was
my one thought. I did not even excuse my dress; I did nothing but
thank him. I did not excuse myself, for it seemed to me that he must
know that _I_ obliterated myself, that _he_ was my one consideration.
Such was--alas!--the first impulse of my heart. Now, with the most
passionate, most comical, most torturing remorse, I think otherwise."

The feeling of being unsuitably, unbecomingly dressed, depressed her;
she said nothing that was worthy of her. After all these years of
love for him, of living in him, and longing for him, she saw him once
and once only in private for a few minutes, and this was the turn
things took. "But you must hear to the end how ridiculous I was," she
writes to Varnhagen. "When he had gone I dressed most carefully and
beautifully. I wanted to make up for everything. I put on a lovely
white dress with a high collar, a lace veil, my Moscow shawl.... Now I
can say as Prince Louis wrote: 'My market value has risen ten thousand
thalers. Goethe has visited me.'"

Rahel, after twenty years of waiting, after the worship of a lifetime,
receiving Goethe in a quilted dressing-gown rather than keep him
waiting ten minutes--this every one will confess to be a supreme
expression of feminine heroism. After the perusal of many volumes
of Rahel literature, this scene is what remains in one's mind as
definitely characterising her. It gives the measure of her reverence,
her understanding, and her capability of overcoming even the most
justifiable vanity of her sex.

It is to be regretted that a being with such rare attributes should
have been entirely destitute of talent, of all creative, plastic
power. Her ingenious and profound thoughts are scattered, as mere
observations, throughout private letters and records which otherwise
are of little interest to us nowadays. Probably none but enthusiastic
devotees of the women's rights theories are capable of reading much of
her at a time.

Her nature was not the artistic nature. Its essence was truthfulness.
She herself says: "In the great universal misery of this world, I
have consecrated myself to one God, truth; and every time I have been
saved, it has been by him." She was a staunch, reliable friend, yet,
even at the risk of sinking in the estimation of others, she frankly
and without shame confessed when the feeling of friendship had ceased
to exist. Closely connected with her truthfulness was her simplicity;
she made no pretence of being above common weaknesses, no secret of
her love of sweets and her keen interest in the latest Paris fashions.
And she was fortunate enough to feel what she deserved to feel, an
undisturbed inward harmony, partly innate, partly acquired, a perfect
consistency of her spiritual life with her convictions. This was what
gave her her great and justifiable self-confidence. "Pedantry cannot
exist within thirty miles of where I am," she used to say.

We have seen how great her moral tolerance was; in intellectual
matters she was equally forbearing. She neither demanded moral purity
nor marked ability in those she esteemed; what she did demand was
unaffectedness. She was unique in her keen recognition and appreciation
of whatever was natural and original, however unassuming; and she
herself, in spite of her searching intellect, was as naïve and fresh in
perception and expression as a gifted child.

When she was at the zenith of her reputation she was obliged to make
herself unapproachable, to surround herself with all sorts of social
barricades, that she might be free to choose her associates. She
invariably chose individuals of markedly original character.

One of her intimates, Count Tilly, writes to her: "I have a thousand
polite messages to give you before I close. One person admires you;
a second is devoted to you; a third is astonished by your words of
wisdom; a fourth is grieved to say farewell to you, even when it is
only a letter that must be brought to a close. It is I, myself, who am
all these different persons." This little pleasantry serves to give us
an idea of the varied impressions she produced.

Rahel often reflected on the subject of originality. She writes: "If
a person were to say, 'You imagine it is easy to be original--on the
contrary, it costs no end of trouble and exertion,' he would be thought
crazy. And yet the assertion would be a true one. Every one could be
original, if only people did not carelessly cram their heads with
half-digested maxims, which they pour forth again as carelessly."

There had been eminent and interesting women in German intellectual
society before Rahel. The latest were Caroline, Dorothea, and those
others known to fame through the Romanticists. Rahel is the first
great modern German woman, and the first to be completely conscious
of her originality.[4]

The pursuit of originality in her day was not without its accompanying
danger. It is not the danger of affectation that I allude to. In all
days and times there have been affected creatures who imagine that
they are original when they help themselves to soup with their shoes.
But the perpetual self-inspection and self-examination prevalent in
Rahel's day produced a dangerous tendency to impute singularity to very
ordinary feelings and impressions, a liability to become unaffectedly
unnatural, like the beautiful Henriette Herz and many of her friends,
whose outpourings have a haunting flavour of lamp-oil and ink. The
fire-writing of originality is something very different.

This is to be found in Bettina's _Goethe's Correspondence with a
Child_. Bettina's letters are written in the fiery characters, the
"singing flames" of passion.

Bettina von Arnim, a sister of Clemens Brentano, wife of Achim von
Arnim, by family and marriage connected with the Romanticists,
nevertheless belongs as an authoress to the Young German school.
Rahel admired and worshipped Goethe timidly, with a beating heart, a
quiet, dignified seriousness. Bettina's admiration showed itself in an
insinuating, half-sensuous, half-intellectual devotion, a determined
bur-like adhesiveness, and flights of the wildest enthusiasm.

In 1807, when she, as a native of the same town, made Goethe's
acquaintance through his mother, she must have been twenty-three,
but in her ways she was still a child, or rather a being midway
between child and woman. She comes to Weimar, provides herself with
a superfluous letter of introduction from Wieland, holds out both
her hands to Goethe as soon as she sees him, and forgets herself
altogether. He leads her to the sofa, seats himself beside her, talks
about the Duchess Amalie's death, asks if she has read about it in the
newspaper. "I never read newspapers," said I. "Indeed! I understood
that you were interested in all that goes on at Weimar." "No, I am only
interested in you, and I'm far too impatient to be a newspaper reader."
"You are a kind, friendly girl." A long pause. She jumps up from the
sofa and throws her arms round his neck.

This little anecdote suffices to show the difference between her
position to Goethe and Rahel's. From her childhood she had been
distinguished by a youthful daring more often met with in boys than
girls. At Marburg they still show a tower to the top of which she
climbed, drawing the ladder up after her, so that she might be alone.
Along with the agility of a young acrobat, she had something of
Mignon's childlike, innocent devotion. She is Mignon in real life, as
charming as ever, and far less serious.

In 1835, when her _Goethe's Briefwechsel mit einem Kinde_ came out,
Bettina was fifty. Arnim had died in 1831, Goethe in 1832. She had got
back the letters written by herself to Goethe between 1808 and 1811,
when an end was put to their intercourse by an act of discourtesy on
her part towards Frau Goethe, and had taken even greater liberties with
these letters than Goethe took in _Dichtung und Wahrheit_ with the
experience of his past life. She expressed in them not only all that
she had felt, but much that she now thought she ought to have felt;
she gave to their intercourse a more passionate colouring than really
belonged to it, and yet in the profoundest sense she was truthful. The
letters were at first accepted as genuine. But strong suspicions were
presently awakened by the fact of Bettina's having published poems,
which were undoubtedly addressed to other women, as if they had been
written to her; and there came a time when her letters lost all credit
as historic documents, and everything in them was considered to be
fictitious. In 1879, however, Loeper published the genuine letters
written by Goethe to Bettina, and it was then seen that in them she
had made almost no alteration; a few greetings were omitted and _thou_
was substituted for _you_--nothing more. In only one of the original
letters is she addressed as _thou_, but that letter is the only one
which Goethe did not dictate, but wrote with his own hand, so Bettina's
alteration was not altogether unjustifiable. Goethe was in the habit of
enclosing in his letters any poem which he had just written. Bettina
was conceited enough to imagine that poems addressed to Minna Herzlieb
(even those which played upon the name Herzlieb, and were consequently
incomprehensible to her) and to Marianne von Willemer, were meant for
her. This was an absurd but excusable mistake. It was inexcusable of
her to transpose these poems into prose and incorporate them in her
earlier letters, thereby producing the impression that Goethe had
simply put her thoughts and feelings into verse.

What she tells us of her intercourse with Goethe's mother, of her
eagerness to gather from that mothers lips information about Goethe's
childhood which might serve as an introduction to _Dichtung und
Wahrheit_, and also what she tells about Beethoven and the relation
in which she stood to him, is in all essentials absolutely true.[5]

No one with any feeling for poetic enthusiasm who has read Bettina's
book in his youth will ever forget the first impression produced by her
style. There is a vitality about it, an animation, a refined wildness,
a rhythmic ring and flow, which astound and fascinate. Turning from
Rand's dark hieroglyphs, which suggest a thousand secrets to us, but
which we seldom really understand, because the living life which was
the commentary is no more, it is refreshing to bathe in this clear
spring of naïve and charming devotion. Rahel is more profound and more
realistic. But talent is such a marvellous thing. The pleasure it gives
is great. We can and must excuse much for its sake.

In these letters Bettina is twenty-three to twenty-five years old,
Goethe fifty-eight to sixty. Hence her passion is not the ordinary
human passion of a young woman for a young man. She has grown up with
it; it is an inheritance from her mother, Maxe Brentano, who partly
suggested Werther's Charlotte. She loves Goethe's mother, as a young
woman always does love the mother of her beloved; she is grateful to
her for having borne him--"how else should I have known him!" Her
devotion to the son finds expression in letters to the mother, till she
meets him; then she writes to himself.

After that first embrace she looks upon him as her own. She writes to
his mother: "It is possible to acquire a kind of possession of a man
which no one can dispute. This I have done with Wolfgang. And it is
what no one ever did before, in spite of all these love affairs you
have told me about. Love is the key of the universe; through it the
spirit learns to comprehend and to feel everything. How else could it

These letters have been compared to ships laden with rich cargoes.
Goethe is the guiding star on all their voyages.

All her thoughts of him are thoughts of enthusiastic devotion: "I would
I were sitting at his door like some poor beggar child, so that he
might come out to give me a piece of bread. He would read in my eyes
what I am, would take me into his arms and wrap his cloak round me to
warm me. I know he would not tell me to go again; I should have my
place in his house; years would pass, and no one would know where I
was; years would pass and life would pass; I should see the whole world
mirrored in his face, and more I should not need to learn."

"Last May, when I saw him for the first time, he picked a young leaf
from the vine at his window and held it against my cheek and said:
'Which is softer, the leaf or your cheek?' I was sitting on a stool at
his feet. How often I have thought of that leaf, and of how he stroked
my forehead and my face with it, and played with my hair, and said: 'I
am a simple-minded man; it is easy to deceive me; there would be no
glory in doing it.' There was nothing brilliant in these words, but
I have lived that scene over again a thousand times in my thoughts;
I shall drink it in all my life, as the eye drinks light--it was not
intellectual converse, no! but to me it surpasses all the wisdom of the

There is poetry in this exaltation and in the way in which she tells
of his constant presence with her, of her longing for him, of her dumb
jealousy of the famous women who came, as Madame de Staël did, to make
his acquaintance; there is poetry in her distress at her inability to
be of any use to him, and in her vivid appreciation of her own capacity.

"I must tell you what I dreamt about you last night. I often have the
same dream. I am going to dance for you. I have the feeling that my
dance will be a success. A crowd has gathered round me. I look for
you, and see you sitting alone, straight opposite to me; but you don't
seem to see me. With golden shoes on my feet, my shining silver arms
hanging listlessly by my side, I step forward in front of you, and
wait. You lift your head, your eyes involuntarily rest upon me; with
light steps I begin to trace magic circles, and you keep your eyes upon
me. You follow me through all my bends and turns; I feel the triumph
of success. All that you dimly feel I show you in my dance; you marvel
at the wisdom it reveals. Presently I fling aside my airy mantle, and
let you see my wings, and away I fly, up to the heights. It rejoices
me that your eyes follow me, and I float down again and sink into your
open arms."

This symbolic description is both graceful and felicitous. In Bettina's
Goethe-worship there is something of the same love of mounting and
climbing that she displayed in her childhood. She climbed up on to the
shoulder of the great Olympian's statue--a statue she was perpetually
modelling--drew the ladder up after her, and sat there alone, revelling
in the pleasure of being so near him. But it was not her Goethe-worship
merely as such which made Bettina an ideal character, a Valkyrie, in
the eyes of Young Germany. What won their hearts was the political
liberalism to which she gave expression in her letters, and with which
she in vain tried to imbue the sage who sat aloof in Weimar, her ardent
admiration for the brave resistance of the Tyrolese to the domination
of France, her eager desire for the well-being of humanity, for the
extermination of poverty and all the other ills of society. It made
a powerful impression when she, a worshipper of Goethe, but a more
independent-minded one than Rahel, extolled Beethoven's republicanism
as greater, worthier than Goethe's submissive loyalty. She tries to
bring Goethe and Beethoven together; she wishes she could send Wilhelm
Meister to the Tyrol, to Andreas Hofer, that he might learn to feel
greater enthusiasm and to do manly deeds.

In the commencement of Frederick William's reign she was in favour at
court. There was a frank, friendly intimacy between her and the king;
she had almost as much influence upon him as Humboldt, when there was
any question of assisting talent or alleviating misery. But before long
her feelings led her openly to declare socialistic principles. In 1843
she published _Dies Buch gehört dem König_ ("This Book belongs to the
King"), a work in which she calls upon Frederick William to relieve the
distress of his subjects. From her youth she had looked upon herself as
the natural champion and advocate of the distressed. "The forsaken and
unhappy possessed a magnetic attraction for her," says Hermann Grimm,
who, as her son-in-law, knew her intimately. Her natural inclination
to help others, arid the early impressions made on her mind by the
French Revolution, produced those political sympathies to which she
unhesitatingly gave utterance, in the naïve expectation of receiving
support from royalty.

In 1831, when the cholera raged in Berlin, she went fearlessly among
the sick and suffering. Judging from the hard lot of the Berlin working
classes, she came to the conclusion that the whole nation was in a bad
way and in need of help. To her, liberty had always been a magic word.
She believed that whenever the words "Let there be light!" resounded
from the right quarter, liberty would manifest itself, and all the
feelings and dreams of humanity would take shape in harmonious music,
to the strains of which the peoples would march joyfully onwards.

Her book, which in a little introductory parable she dedicates to
the king, is written in the form of conversations. Goethe's mother
is the chief speaker. There is much warm feeling in the book, and a
considerable amount of information on the subject of the distress among
the lower classes, but too little political insight to make it readable

The authoress reaches a climax with the words: "Our sign is the banner
of liberty; its brightness lights up the black darkness of the times;
its brilliancy dazzles and terrifies those who are on the shore, but
we are glad and rejoice.... Dangers? Liberty knows no dangers! To it
everything is possible. The storm itself, the wildest of all storms,
is the captain of our ship."[6]

Such sentiments were not likely to meet with a favourable reception
at the Prussian court of that day. The book created a sensation, but
put an end to the good understanding between Bettina and the king. It
naturally only increased the political discontent of the masses, and
a pretext was found for seizing her next book (on Clemens Brentano),
because a repetition of the same sort of thing was feared.

Long before this, however, Bettina had received the unanimous homage
of the younger generation. Those interested should read Gutzkow's
account of his first visit to her, Mundt's description of her, Kühne's
poetical appreciation. Even Robert Prutz, severe as he is on all the
representatives and models of Young Germany, numbers himself among her
admirers. "Bettina's letters are," he says, "the last bright blaze of
Romanticism, the sparkling, crackling fireworks with which it closes
its great festival; but they are at the same time the funeral pile
upon which it consumes itself, the pillar of fire which rises from its
ashes--and shows us the way."

The third woman whose life and character made a deep impression on
the generation of 1830 was Charlotte Stieglitz, the daughter of a
Leipzig merchant named Willhöft. As a child Charlotte was quiet and
thoughtful, as a young girl there was something nun-like about her. In
1822 Heinrich Stieglitz, then in his twenty-first year, came to Leipzig
to study philology. From no fault of his own he had been mixed up in
the prosecution of the demagogues in Göttingen. He was a handsome young
fellow, audacious, and, to judge by his looks, passionate; and he was a
poet. Charlotte was then a beautiful girl of sixteen, whose appearance
suggested the possession of that supernatural quality which the Germans
in olden days ascribed to those women whom they believed to possess the
gift of prophecy. She had a high, open, intellectual forehead, curly
brown hair piled up in a tower-like coiffure, a thin, aquiline nose, a
beautiful mouth, large, star-like brown eyes that looked brightly and
bravely out into the world. She spoke low, but sang with a full, clear

Whatever else modern poets may have neglected, they have not neglected
to impress upon all, but more especially upon women, that a poet is a
superior being. When Charlotte fell in love with the handsome young
Stieglitz, who was fascinated by her, she felt that she had learned
what happiness is. The very idea of being the beloved of a poet, a
real, living poet, was bliss. And to this poet of hers she consecrated
her every feeling, her every thought, from the first time she saw
him until, twelve years later, she stabbed herself to the heart for
his sake. Even before they were engaged, the desire was ever present
with her to be able, all unknown to him, to do something really
difficult, really great for him. She had the feminine helpfulness, the
motherliness, the housewifely understanding, and the brave cheerfulness
which are among a woman's best qualities. The impression she produced
was that of gentle high-mindedness.

And this noble woman was unfortunate enough to mistake an effeminate
Leipzig student for the ideal man of her day-dreams--a poet of
inferior, perfectly mediocre talent, for a great artist. In order to
be able to marry, Stieglitz was obliged to find employment. In 1827
he became a teacher in the Berlin Gymnasium and at the same time
assistant librarian in the Royal Library, groaning immoderately over
the restraint imposed on him by these occupations. He was gloomy,
passionate, eager to distinguish himself as a poet, but any artistic
gift he had was purely bookish and unrealistic; he had no perseverance
or power of resistance in the struggle of life, but was one of those
whom adversity prostrates. He had the outward appearance of a genius;
in reality he was but a dull fellow.

It was a tragic misunderstanding on Charlotte's part. She believes
that he has an untamable, uncontrollable temperament. "You need not
deny it," she writes; "you ought to have been a brigand-chief." And
she calls him her dark, wild, poniard-wielder with the flashing eyes.
During their long engagement they live in different towns. His letters
are genial, natural, and affectionate; but one feels in them that he
is not unhappy away from her. She, more warmblooded, pines for him,
for his personal presence. Hers was the uncontrollable temperament--he
was the genuine bookman, as unlike a robber-chief as any librarian on
the face of the earth. About the same time as Victor Hugo in France,
he feels the poetical attraction of the East, and, sitting in his
library, makes as careful a study as he can of Oriental literature and
civilisation. From this study result the _Bilder des Orients_, three
volumes produced with much toil and trouble. There is a great deal of
pretty and graphic writing in them, and it was unjust that they were
so entirely overlooked; but the feeling which animates these Turkish
and Persian poems, these Stamboul tragedies and scenes from Ispahan,
these more than passable verses on the Greek war of liberation, is too
commonplace, too tame; the marked individuality, the savagery which
Charlotte saw in Heinrich Stieglitz is exactly what is wanting in them.
It is all too literary.

Shortly before their marriage in 1828, Charlotte, at her _fiancé's_
request, bought a poniard for him to wear on their wedding tour, the
weapon with which, six years later, she took her own life. It was
but a short time of unmixed happiness that she enjoyed after their
marriage. But she completely identifies herself with her husband, and
is miserable because he, the genius, is compelled to spend so much of
his time and energy on his library work and teaching. She devotes much
of hers to writing letters to their rich relations in Russia, who are
ministers and privy-councillors, and to other patrons and friends, in
the hope of improving his position. She encourages him indefatigably;
she knows every one of his poems by heart, parodies one of them with
affectionate playfulness. A certain scene in his tragedy, _Selim
III._, is costing him much time and trouble. One day when he comes
home, she leads him smilingly to his desk, where he finds it lying,
completed--the fine scene between the Sultan's mother and the physician
in the Third Act.

From time to time there came over her what she calls her
champagne-mood; she grieves that this is no longer the case with him.
She writes a poem to him, with a present of six quills, exhorting him
to be energetic and determined, and not to reflect too long before he

  "Giess ein Füllhorn aus mit Früchten,
     Blüth und Früchte gieb zugleich,
   Weisheit sei in deinem Dichten,
     Witz und Jugend mach' es reich.

   Menschen lass uns drinnen finden,
     Menschen die gelebt, gedacht,
   Lass von Lieb' dich warm entzünden
     Und von Zorns Gewitternacht."[7]

She firmly believes in the existence of mighty Titanic thoughts and
imaginations in his soul, which it is difficult for him to persuade his
lips to utter. Alas! he is not only uncommunicative, he is barren, and
on the verge of insanity, at times possibly over the verge. He listens
to her exhortations with indifference. She writes: "O Heinrich, for
God's sake let us be inconsistent at times, let us blaze up wildly,
despair madly, rise to the bliss of heaven, sink to the depths of
hell--anything but be stolidly indifferent!" We feel the spiritual
kinswoman, the admirer of Rahel, in these words.

Harassed by the drudgery of his daily life, troubled by the sterility
of his overrated talent, he was sometimes irritable, sometimes gloomily
stolid. She tries every means to brace him. At one time she fancies
that he is too lonely, that he requires the stimulation of more female
society--and she is not jealous. She writes (October 1834): "I wish,
Heinrich, that you could have more intercourse, either personal or
by correspondence, with clever, womanly women. They are the poet's
true public. It would be of interest to you to learn, frankly and
truthfully, what they think of you and your works. Such intercourse
would be both instructive and refreshing, a useful and agreeable
diversion for you."

She is determined that they are to travel, to go far afield. He throws
up his appointments and they go off to St. Petersburg and Finland. But
it is all in vain.

As she and Stieglitz stood looking at the waterfall of Imatra in
Finland, in July 1833, she spoke the following memorable words: "Is
not this like a great thought which has strayed into these mountain
solitudes? Feelings like mighty billows, thunderstorms, a hurricane,
would be a suitable accompaniment to this tumbling, foaming water. How
poor the song about the little violet would sound here, pretty as it is
in itself! Like the mighty waterfall, this foaming, wildly excited time
cries for mighty song. You will give what it demands...."

In October 1835, when he was making perpetual complaint of the small
pin-pricks of life, she said to him (as he himself has noted): "My
careful observation of you has led me to the conclusion that whoever
wishes to do you real service must provide a real, great sorrow for
you. Nothing would do you so much good as that; nothing would so surely
bring out your powers."

Like most people whose minds are affected, Stieglitz had periods of
violent excitement, after which he relapsed into his ordinary state of
silent, almost animal-like brooding. Once when they were on a walking
tour, he was so lost in his own thoughts, so indifferent to all else,
that she left him and went off by herself, hoping that this would rouse
him; but he did not even notice it. It was a kind of warning that her
_final_ desertion of him would be of no avail; but it was a warning
that she did not understand.

Entirely possessed by the latest ideas of the day, persuaded that a
poet ought to live in the world, to influence and be influenced by it,
it was her constant desire to drive him to action. She said to him one
day: "I long for your spiritual regeneration. You will be born again! I
know you will! Would that I could hasten that birth--even if it were by
artificial means! But how if my surgical operation miscarried!" And in
December 1834 she writes in her diary that Goethe's life becomes fuller
from the moment that Schiller enters into it, but that Goethe ought to
have profited more by his friend's death, and would have done so, if he
had not, according to his custom, determinedly refused to sorrow; if he
had allowed the sorrow to enter into him, to become part of himself,
the result would have been a renewal of youth as far as his poetical
productivity was concerned.

It was in this same month of December, 1834, that Stieglitz's disgust
with life reached a sort of climax. His malady took the form of
intellectual stagnation, of absolute incapacity to express himself.
Charlotte begged him, as if he had been a child, rather to rave and
storm as of old than to collapse in this terrible manner; but she
begged in vain. It was then that she determined to employ the last
means in her power, to take that step which she, with her innocent,
high-flown ideas, felt it obligatory to take, in order that a great,
simple sorrow might enter into his life, reawaken his genius, and give
his poetry new themes.

On the evening of the 29th she came home, knowing that she would have
two hours to herself, threw her short fur cape and boa on the hall
floor, hurried into her bedroom, locked the door of communication with
the kitchen, undressed, washed herself, put on a clean night-dress,
wrote a few lines to Heinrich expressing her belief that new life for
him would arise out of this misfortune, and exhorting him no longer to
be weak, but calm and strong and great. Then she lay down on the bed
and with a firm hand plunged the dagger of their wedding tour into her

       *       *       *       *       *

One's first impression is that these women, Rahel, Bettina, and
Charlotte, who all three became famous in the year 1835, have nothing
in common. Rahel dies in 1833 at the age of sixty-one, and her real
life-work, the first energetic vindication of Goethe's pre-eminence,
belongs quite as much to the eighteenth as to the nineteenth century.
Bettina, who is fourteen years younger, does not come before the public
till a year after Rahel's death; she combines the exalted enthusiasm
and the unreality of Romanticism with the reforming tendencies of Young
Germany. Charlotte's only achievement was to kill herself, a thing
which has been done by women times without number, though probably
never for the same reason.

But when we look a little deeper, we find that they have many traits
in common. They are all restless, with the restlessness distinctive of
their day, which manifests itself, not in outward hurry and strain,
but in strong emotions, not in the nervousness prevalent in our own
day, but in perpetual introspection. Then there is the peculiarity that
none of them transgress the laws of society, though none of them have
any respect for these laws. And there is the wonderful, ideal fidelity
which they all display. Rahel is Goethe's, from the first breath she
draws as a grown-up woman to her last. Bettina is Goethe's, with such
absorbing devotion that the scheme of erecting a colossal monument to
him which she advocated in her first published work (a monument which
she herself planned and had executed in miniature), becomes in her old
age an _idée fixe_. Charlotte so entirely belongs to the man on whom
her choice falls when she is sixteen, that she not only lives for him,
but dies for him.

Another thing they have in common is enthusiasm. Rahel's burns like a
steady, sacred flame; Bettina's breaks out in a pyrotechnic display
of ideas and visions; Charlotte's manifests itself in the resolute,
uncomplaining sacrifice of her life. It is genius that they all
worship; they have the enthusiastic German appreciation of poetic
genius; their great desire is to do what in them lies to promote its
recognition and glorification, or its development and emancipation;
to this task they devote their lives, regardless of the worthiness or
unworthiness of the object of their choice. Lastly, the thoughts and
feelings of all three are remarkably original. These women resemble
no other women. Never, to our knowledge, has there been such another
reflective emotionalist as Rahel, such another sylph-like enthusiast as
Bettina, such another suicide as Charlotte's, a suicide inspired by a
lofty though false æsthetic principle.

Those who look deeper into the matter and view these characters in the
light of history, see in Rahel's introspection and self-reflection,
the first form which woman's self-emancipation necessarily took in
the Germany of this century; this height of intellectual independence
had to be attained before the women in a country where they for
centuries had been relegated to simple domesticity could rise to
anything above it. In Bettina's triple enthusiasm, for Goethe, for
the ideas of political liberalism, and for social reform, the student
of history descries the transition stage between the era of art and
the era of liberalism and socialism. And in Charlotte's suicide he
sees an expression of the desire of the women of her day to snatch
the men from their literary quietism and place them face to face with
the seriousness, the tragedy of life. The whole era speaks when she
says to Stieglitz that the song of the violet cannot be sung to the
accompaniment of a great waterfall. None of these women could have
developed as they did at any other period, and at no other period
would they have been understood and appreciated as they were. To-day,
already, we find it difficult to understand them.

It is characteristic that the word _work_ finds no place in the
description of their lives. They never learned anything methodically,
and in their fear of being unfeminine are proud of this--as we observed
in the case of Rahel. Even that accomplished linguist, Henriette Herz,
is deeply offended because Jean Paul in one of his letters used the
expression, "M. Herz and his learned wife." Charlotte Stieglitz has
not the faintest idea that talent is developed by work, by obstinate
industry, and not by bereavements. And Bettina, the bayadere, who
imitates Mignon's egg-dance, has nothing whatever to do with work.
This fact impresses itself on us when we are annoyed by the slovenly
composition and the want of any real understanding of politics in her
book for the king.

About the year 1848 it began to be recognised that all this
intellectuality would have been more solid, more real, more lasting,
if these women had known something, had followed some course of study,
taken up one or other branch of science. All this soaring thought would
have been doubly valuable if it had in the first place been subjected
to regular discipline. To soar without previous training is often
mere waste of power. If Rahel had had a solid foundation of knowledge
to build upon, she would have had a very different influence upon
posterity. As it is, her ideas, obscure and lucid, chaff and seed-corn,
are scattered to the winds.

In the Thirties men still believed in an inspiration that could
dispense with knowledge, in a morality of the heart which rendered any
reform of the old social morality unnecessary, in a defiance of law
which allowed all laws to hold good, but kept clear of them all. This
state of matters Young Germany was bent upon altering.

During the Forties men had arrived at the persuasion that there was
something of greater value than sudden inspiration and a life of pure
intellectuality. There was humble and daring work to be done in science
and in politics. We see German philosophy develop in the direction of
radicalism, and we come upon poets whose aim it is to prepare the way
for political liberty.

[1] Karl Hillebrand: _Zeiten, Völker und Menschen_, ii. 5. _Aus dem
unzünftigen Schriftthum Deutschlands.--La société de Berlin. Revue des
deux mondes_, 1870.

[2] All virtues are one virtue; yea, verily, they are all one and the
same. Wouldst thou know its name? Its name is justice.

[3] Because justice is truth. Simplicity, fairness, unselfishness, a
share for all.

[4] _Rahel, ein Buch des Andenkens für Freunde_, i.-iii. _Briefwechsel
zwischen Varnhagen und Rahel_, i.-ii. Varnhagen: _Gallerie von
Bildnissen aus Rahels Umgang_, Ludmilla Assing: _Aus Rahels

[5] _Briefe Goethe's an Sophie von la Roche und Bettina Brentano nebst
dichterischen Beilagen_. 1879.

[6] _Dies Buch gehört dem König_, p. 531.

[7] Pour out thy horn of plenty; give us blossom and fruit together;
let there be not only wisdom, but wit and youth in thy words. In thy
pages let us find human beings, beings who have lived and thought; let
love, let anger's lightning-flash kindle thy Muse's flame.



With the year 1840 the literary movement enters upon a new, more
philosophic, and more political phase. Yet another generation had
arisen, a generation which owed its profoundest culture to Hegel,
and which, strangely enough, he had influenced chiefly in the
direction of politics. Schelling in his day had declared art to be the
highest manifestation of intellect. His principle, and that of the
Romanticists, was that the artist is the true man. What art had been to
Schelling, history was to Hegel--history, that eternal progress of the
idea of liberty, that great liberty-epic. And what the work of art had
been to Schelling, the State was to Hegel. To him the true, the perfect
human being is not the artist, but the citizen of a constitutional

This youngest generation was inspired by the Hegelian philosophy to
make the reform of the State its aim. It held the adherents of the
Young German school in light esteem, being of opinion that they had
not stood bravely by their colours, either in philosophy or politics,
that they were too belletristic, too epicurean. It would not join in
the old cry for the rehabilitation of the flesh, would not even listen
to it. Heine, in _Atta Troll_, had told the young generation that a
man of character without talent was no better than a bear; the young
men retorted that a man of talent without character was nothing but a
monkey--possibly a very amusing monkey, but nothing more.

That the Hegelian philosophy had again become a guiding principle was
made plain when the periodical known as the _Hallische Jahrbücher_
was brought out by Ruge and Echtermeyer in 1838. This organ of the
Hegelians of the Left disseminated the ideas which moulded not only
the politicians but also the poets of the day. In all essentials the
principles were the same as those in whose name Young Germany had taken
the field, but they were now proclaimed with more scientific precision
and more resoluteness. The elder men had to choose between joining the
Young Hegelians and reprobating the principles of their own youth, as
now proclaimed by others. As was only natural, they did not recognise
their own opinions as propounded by these bellicose youths, and there
was many a collision between the youngest generation and Gutzkow,
Laube, and Mundt.

The idea of the State now became the central idea of the day, the idea
of the State as a living organism, realised in the consciousness of
all its citizens. In the many philosophical, theological, æsthetic
feuds waged by this new generation, the State and the necessity for
its reform is always the burden of their cry. This was the season of
preparation for that absorption in the idea of the State which is so
characteristic of the Germany of later days, and which caused even a
revolutionary (but a Hegelian revolutionary) like Lassalle to exclaim:
"Do not malign the State! The State is God!" It is a sign of the nature
of the literary development that the _Hallische Jahrbücher_ began as
a philosophical, but was suppressed as a political periodical.[1]

[1] _Cf_. R. Prütz: _Vorlesungen über die deutsche Litteratur der

The new political ideas with which the nation was impregnated presently
broke forth in poetry and song. The first political poetry appears in
the same year as the _Jahrbücher_, and spreads political free-thought
in far wider circles. At first it was for the most part rhetorical, and
devoid of artistic value, but the common national feeling of the German
countries had slumbered so long that the mere watch-words "liberty" and
"fatherland" produced an electrical effect.

On the 7th of June 1840, Frederick William IV. ascended the throne of
Prussia. The new king presented in every respect a marked contrast to
the man who, succeeding in 1797, had wielded the Prussian scepter for
forty-two years. Frederick William III. had been the born soldier;
his son was an artist by nature, with mediocre half-suppressed
talents, a dilettante in art and science. The father had been a sober,
modest, steadfast character; the son was a fanciful enthusiast, as
impressionable as a woman. The father had been the devotee of duty,
an upright, dry, narrow-minded man, the son was full of romantic
ideas, clever, famous for his witty sallies. The father had been tall,
slender, soldierlike, in his bearing and dress; the son had soft,
rounded features, not unlike Queen Louisa's, was fat rather than
muscular, quick and jerky in his movements, communicative, sociable,
very talkative. The father had been a reliable man, the son was an
interesting one.

Though Frederick William IV., as Crown Prince, had had the best of
instructors in all the branches of a military education, he did not
take the lead in military matters. He was fond of calling himself a
Prussian officer, but the strict, pedantic discipline inseparable from
military service in time of peace, was wearisome to him, and at times
he, a Hohenzollern, was even known to jeer at State parades. Now and
again, however, it happened that he grew wildly enthusiastic. At a
review, the music, the clash of weapons, the loud commands, the firing,
produced in him a sort of poetic excitement. Carried away by military
enthusiasm, he once, on the occasion of a big sham-fight, led the
troops right into Berlin, regardless of the confusion thereby produced,
and of the hundreds of window-panes shattered by the volleys fired in
the streets.[2]

[2] Prutz: _Zehn Jahre_, i.

But for the most part it was with men of science and artists that
the Crown Prince consorted--scholars such as Humboldt, historians
like Ranke, painters like Cornelius, sculptors like Rauch. He was
much interested in architecture, made a study of the antique styles
in their application to ecclesiastical architecture of the Byzantine
type, sketched plans, tried to produce imposing effects by means
of colonnades and halls. He projected ideal landscapes, resembling
scenes on the Italian shores of the Mediterranean. He criticised
music and poetry. He specially encouraged and patronised the study of
ancient German customs and of all ancient art which had devoted itself
to the service of religion; and all this occupation with the past
increased his distaste for the time in which he lived, and developed
his inclination to restore the old order of things, or at any rate to
oppose reforms inspired by the modern spirit.

This inclination could not but be strengthened by the young prince's
intercourse with clergymen, and with the small circle of romantically
disposed aristocrats who were his familiar associates. From his
childhood he had been religious. As a boy he had, during the war with
Napoleon, learnt to believe in the sacredness of the old system of
government, in the divine right of kings, and in the mission of Austria
as heir of the Holy Roman Empire. He adopted the whole system of ideas
and enthusiasms of which Joseph de Maistre was the first and ablest
exponent. He studied Haller's _Restauration der Staatswissenschaft_.
Ere long he came to look upon the crown as a mystic jewel, a
combination of the priestly fillet of old with the dictator's golden
wreath; the kingly office became in his eyes a sacred calling, the king
himself a divinely inspired being. His ideal was a patriarchal relation
between the king and his people, much the same ideal as that which was
aimed at during the same period by the so-called Young England, the
followers of Disraeli.

Frederick William IV. was received by his people with all the confident
expectation with which a nation that is still in its political
childhood welcomes a new king. They believed of him what is believed
of all crown princes, that his principles were more liberal than his
father's. The hopes and expectations of the nation surrounded him
with a sort of halo. He began, as kings are wont to do, with an act
which appeared to justify the popular estimate of his character; he
proclaimed a general amnesty for political offences. This led all to
hope that he would fulfil the political desire of the country, that he
would confer on Prussia that benefit which was regarded as a necessary
condition of all progress, constitutional government.

As already stated, the Prussian people were in possession of a
distinct, definite, royal promise of a constitution, a promise the
fulfilment of which had been dishonestly delayed. This made their
hope all the stronger; they felt sure that this promise would now be

Soon after the new king's accession, the Estates of the Provinces of
Posen and East and West Prussia were summoned to meet at Königsberg,
for the purpose of paying homage to him. The Estates of East and
West Prussia replied to the announcement of this meeting by sending
in a most humble petition to the king, in which they besought him
to maintain and to complete the system of representative government
inaugurated by his glorious father, who, in this as in all else
faithful to his promise, had introduced representative government in
the provinces, but had left the completion of the work to his royal
successor "whom the nation loves with the truest devotion, and on whom
its dearest hopes are set" (in welchem die treueste Liebe und die
innigsten Wünsche des Landes sich begegnen).

The lower classes of citizens, all those who hoped that their
trades and industries would profit by the approaching festivities
at Königsberg, were highly incensed by this proceeding, which they
considered calculated to offend the king. The higher classes, on
the contrary, imagined that their gifted monarch would at once
gladly accede to the legitimate desire of his people; no one was
in a better position than he to understand the defects of the old
system of representation. But neither those who dreaded an outburst
of royal indignation nor those who expected a manifestation of royal
liberal-mindedness proved to be right.

Frederick William's vague answer was to the effect that the
constitution of the Estates rested upon a national, historic
foundation, that the king took a deep interest in the said institution,
that he was firmly determined to pursue the path entered on by his
predecessors, and that his faithful Estates might "place absolute
confidence in his intentions" with regard to the institution of the
Landtag (Parliament).

Little of positive assurance as there was in this message, it was
received with joy; it relieved one party from the dread of a stern
rebuff, and encouraged the sanguine hopes of the other. The festival at
Königsberg went off successfully, and was marked by general enthusiasm.
Its most imposing incident occurred immediately after the deputies
had repeated, word for word, the oath of allegiance read out to them.
Hardly had the echo of the loud Amen pronounced by the four hundred
voices died away, when the king was seen to rise from the throne, which
stood upon an open balcony, come forward to the rails, raise his arm
as if he were taking an oath, and begin to address the assembly. Every
word of his speech was clearly audible. He promised to be a just judge,
a faithful, painstaking, and merciful ruler, a Christian king like his
ever-to-be-remembered father. The concluding sentence bears witness to
his literary gift: "May God preserve our Prussian fatherland, for its
own sake, for Germany's, and for the world's--our fatherland, which is
made up of many parts, and yet is one whole, like that noble metal, a
mixture of many others, but itself one metal, liable to no rust but the
beautifying rust of centuries!"

Astonishment that a King of Prussia should thus of his own free will
give a promise to his people in return for theirs to him, combined with
the impression produced by this ostensibly improvised address from such
an animated and winning royal personage, to create a feeling of excited
jubilation. Above on the balcony the queen burst into tears, down below
the people wept, smiled through their tears, and pressed each other's
hands. In the transport of the moment it was not observed that there
was no definite political promise in the speech, nothing but liberal
generalities and romantic phraseology.

But the Königsberg festival was only a prelude to the great one held
in Berlin. In the minds of the inhabitants of his capital a halo of
golden promises still surrounded the person of the king. They were
determined to do everything in their power to show their devotion, and
to give the festival a character that was likely to be agreeable to
him. The military element was not allowed to preponderate; something
in the style of a medieval German municipal pageant was aimed at.
The different guilds, numbering in all about 10,000 men, marched in
procession, carrying their banners and emblems. As an agreeable little
surprise for the king, a great projecting piece of masonry at the
Rathaus (town hall) with which his carriage had come into collision one
day when he was Crown Prince, was altogether removed.

In the interval between the two festivals an incident occurred which
could not but awaken in the mind of the nation a suspicion of the
king's fickleness. On the 4th of October 1840, a royal order in council
was published which intimated, to prevent any misunderstanding, that
the king, in expressing his appreciation of the loyalty of the Estates,
had by no means declared himself to be in favour of a representative
constitution as formulated in the ordinance of the 22nd of May.

The princes and nobles were to take the oath of allegiance in the
palace, the citizens were to pay homage in the great square outside the
so-called Lustgarten. But from early morning rain fell in torrents. For
two whole hours the citizens stood outside the square, getting soaked
through, whilst the king listened, indoors, to the speeches of princes,
nobles, and clergy, and gave the rein to his own eloquence.

At last he stepped out on the balcony. But on this occasion people were
prepared to hear him speak; there was no question of improvisation.
Berlin would have felt itself insulted if the king, who had made a
speech at Königsberg, had received its homage in silence. And speak he
did. Every one could see the motion of his hands, but the size of the
square and the sound of the wind and the rain prevented his words being
heard. Every time he stopped speaking, the attentive crowd, imagining
that the speech was concluded, broke forth in loud acclamation; but
the king waved his hand, and proceeded. The rain poured, but still
he spoke. All watched his gesticulations. Four times the multitude
shouted "Hurrah!" in the belief that he had done, and four times he
began again. He promised to rule as one who feared God and loved man,
with his eyes open when attending to the needs of the people and of
the times, closed when called on to do justice--but the antithesis
was lost in the whistle of the wind and the rush of the rain. He
shouted: "Will you promise, while I am striving so to do, to stand
by me, in prosperity and in adversity? If so, give an answer in that
plainest, finest word of our mother-tongue, an honest 'Ja!'" Shouts
of "Bravo! bravo!" from the square. They thought he had finished. But
the king waved his hand and continued. At last he concluded by turning
the downpour of rain to account in his peroration, by taking it as a
favourable omen--though this also was lost on the audience. "So help me
God, I will keep the promises which I have made here and at Königsberg!
In sign hereof I raise my right hand to heaven. Proceed we now with our
high festival, and may God's blessing fall like his fertilising rain
upon us this day!"

But God's fertilising rain completely extinguished the festive spirit,
poured its chilling prose over both audience and orator.

No one could observe that any promises were kept, but neither could any
one name any particular promises that had been made by his Majesty. The
new king and his government soon showed themselves in their true light.

Eichhorn was nominated Minister of Public Worship (_Kultusminister_)
in place of the late Count Altenstein, the patron of Hegel and the
Hegelians. Eichhorn had already shown Pietistic leanings; it was
reported that he intended to introduce strict regulations regarding the
observation of holy-days, and possibly also rules of church discipline
binding on all Government officials. The indignation roused by this
report was so great that advantage was taken of the first possible
opportunity to display it. Racine's _Athalie_ was put on the stage by
the king's special request. There was no fault to be found with the
play itself, but it had a religious subject and had been originally
written for the inmates of a convent. On the occasion of its first
performance, January 4th, 1841, it was hissed by the audience, a
demonstration the meaning of which every one understood. People were
much more exasperated with the minister than with the king; for no one
doubted that the king was a sincerely religious man, whereas the life
Eichhorn had lived and the company he had kept led them to conclude
the opposite of him. And when it came to his making public use of the
expression, "the Christian state," that is the state of which the
unorthodox cannot be reckoned true citizens, war was waged against this
"square circle," as the expression was called, with all the weapons of
sober earnest and of mockery. Unfortunately the king had, a few months
before this, in one of his fits of political liberalism, possibly
influenced by his appreciation of wit, abolished the censorship of
caricature-drawing. So now Eichhorn was to be seen everywhere, in the
shape of a squirrel (_Eichhorn_ = squirrel) gnawing leaves, cracking
the empty nut of the Christian Church, &c., &c. The ungrateful
caricaturists did not even respect the king; and Heine, the greatest
caricaturist of the age, ridiculed royal indecision in the following
lines of _Der neue Alexander_:

   "Ich ward ein Zwitter, ein Mittelding, das weder Fleisch noch Fisch ist,
   Das von den Extremen unserer Zeit ein närrisches Gemisch ist.
   Ich bin nicht schlecht, ich bin nicht gut, nicht dumm und nicht gescheute,
   Und wenn ich gestern vorwärts ging, so geh ich rückwärts heute."[3]

[3] I'm neither fish nor flesh, neither this nor that, but a queer
compound of the extremes of the day; I'm not bad, I'm not good, not
stupid and not clever; if I walked forwards yesterday, I'll walk
backwards to-day.

But Eichhorn was not content with Christianising the State, he aimed
at Christianising science. He was particularly desirous to oust known
Hegelians from all good and influential appointments, the Hegelian
philosophy being distasteful to the king, because it left no play for
his imagination.

It was by the king's wish that Schelling was brought from Munich
to Berlin to fill the professorial chair left vacant by the death
of Hegel, that from that vantage ground he might propound his new
philosophy, that _Philosophie der Offenbarung_ (Philosophy of
Revelation) which, like some quack remedy, had been kept secret
for years, and yet puffed as if it were to introduce a new era. He
received a larger salary than had ever before been given to a Prussian
university professor (it was declared that he was almost as well
paid as a _premiere danseuse_); and it was certainly not the king's
fault that, in spite of all Schelling's endeavours, there seemed no
possibility of eradicating Hegelian unorthodoxy. As a matter of fact,
Schelling was a failure. He could not but feel that he was regarded
with contempt by the whole youth of a nation. Ch. Kapp wrote a clever
description of the court thinker's various metamorphoses since the
days of his youth, his apostasy from himself, the humbug in his
reconciliation of faith and thought; and Ludwig Feuerbach, in his
energetic language, styled him the philosophical Cagliostro of the
nineteenth century, and his philosophy a theosophic farce.

Eichhorn proceeded to take a variety of measures to counteract the
progress of science. He set a fixed limit to the number of teachers
at all the different Prussian universities, thereby reducing the
number of private lecturers and increasing the influence of the
Government. Professor Hoffman (von Fallersleben) was dismissed from
the University of Breslau, because of some harmless jests at politics
in his _Unpolitical Songs_--jovial, catching verses, which so exactly
chimed in with the Liberal ideas of the middle-class citizen that
they alarmed the authorities. The Biblical critic, Bruno Bauer's, two
books on the authenticity of the Four Gospels cost him his post of
lecturer at the University of Bonn. The servile Faculties carried out
the wishes of the Government: they approved of free scientific inquiry,
but could not approve of Bruno Bauer as a lecturer on _theology_. The
Hegelian theologian, Marheineke of Berlin, undauntedly declared that
he, too, was desirous that Bruno Bauer should be relieved from his
post as lecturer, because he considered that such an eminent critic,
a man of such thorough scientific training, should be promoted to a
really influential appointment. But Bauer's fate was sealed. The Halle
students petitioned that David Strauss might be appointed professor at
their university. The answer to their petition was a reprimand, and
the three students whose names headed the list of petitioners were
expelled. After Gans's death, the noted reactionary Stahl (author
of _Umkehr der Wissenschaft_) was appointed to his professorship
in Berlin. It was somewhat humiliating for the Government that the
students refused to listen to Stahl's first lecture; they drummed him
out of the lecture-room.

In the summer of 1841 there appeared in Switzerland a little book,
entitled _Gedichte eines Lebendigen_ ("Poems of a Living Man"). It
contained many an astounding verse; among others:

   "Reisst die Kreuze aus der Erden!
    Alle sollen Schwerter werden!
      Gott im Himmel wird's verzeihn.
    Lasst, o lasst das Verseschweissen,
    Auf den Amboss legt das Eisen,
      Heiland soll das Eisen sein."[4]


    Tear the crosses from the graves;
    'Tis the sword alone that saves;
      God forgives the deed ye do.
    Leave, oh leave your rhyming trade;
    Steel on anvil must be laid--
      Steel shall bring us safely through.


  "Brause, Gott, mit Sturmesodem durch die fürchterliche Stille,
   Gieb ein Trauerspiel der Freiheit für der Sklaverei Idylle!
   Lass das Herz doch wieder schlagen in der Brust der kalten Welt
   Und erweck ihr einen Rächer und erweck ihr einen Held!"[5]

[5] Let thy tempest blow, O God, and put an end to this terrible calm!
Give us a tragedy of liberty in place of this idyll of slavery! Set
the heart of the clay-cold world beating again; raise up for her an
avenger; awaken for her a hero!

The collection was prefaced by a poetical challenge "To the Dead Man,"
namely Prince Pückler, who had written under this pseudonym. He was
chosen as the representative of the careless pleasure-lovers who seek
distraction in travel. The attack was unjust, but how fine it sounded!

The anonymous author, whose name soon became public property, was a
young man of twenty-four, Georg Herwegh, born in Würtemberg in 1817,
and educated at the well-known Tübingen Institution. While serving his
time in the army, Herwegh quarrelled with an officer, and was obliged
to take refuge in Switzerland, where he lived for several years,
associating with other refugees and other youthful Radicals. His poems,
with their fresh, energetic, and yet vague Radicalism, at once made
their mark, and attained an immense circulation in the course of a few
months. The sentiment of these poems is somewhat mixed. Now it is with
tyrants, now with Philistines, that their author is at war; at one
time he discovers the enemies of the good cause in Germany itself, at
another abroad; now he writes as a staunch Republican; again, following
the example of Platen, he appeals earnestly, imploringly to the King of
Prussia, warning him, but at the same time assuring him that it is not
too late:

   "Du bist der Stern, auf den man schaut,
    Der letzte Fürst, auf den man baut."[6]


    Thou art the star to which we turn our eyes,
    Of monarchs all the last in whom our hope yet lies.

The public of that day overlooked the young poet's want of consistency;
his enthusiasm was infectious, his melodious lyrical rhetoric
irresistible. He was the first lyric poet who had taken men's hearts
by storm since the days of Goethe and Schiller. From the Alps to the
Baltic the young men sang: _Reisst die Kreuze aus der Erden!_

In the autumn of 1842 Herwegh took a tour through Germany, with a
practical aim in view. The work which he had begun as a poet, he
desired to carry on as a journalist, a political writer; his journey
was undertaken for the purpose of securing contributors to a monthly
magazine to be entitled _Der deutsche Bote aus der Schweiz_ ("The
German Messenger from Switzerland"); but it became a sort of triumphal
progress; he was entertained at banquets in Cologne and Leipzig, and
serenaded by the students of Jena; never before had such homage been
paid to a German poet.

Towards the end of October he arrived in Berlin, where he could not
expect to make as great a sensation, especially as he had followed
the advice of his companion, Ruge, and refused the advances of a very
unprosperous Radical association. But something happened which made
far more impression on the public mind than any popular demonstration
could have done--the king expressed a wish to make Herwegh's personal

So far the only public manifestation of Frederick William's æsthetic
sympathies had been his patronage of Tieck and Rückert, both of whom
he had invited to Berlin. Ludwig Tieck, now an old man, crippled with
rheumatism, occasionally read aloud at Court and put plays on the
stage; Friedrich Rückert was expected to assist in reorganising the
study of Oriental languages at the University, but proved unfit for
the task. Unprejudiced judgment in literary matters was certainly not
traditional in the Hohenzollern family. There was only one possible
precedent for the audience granted to Herwegh, and that was to be found
in the present king's own private reply to the ode in which Platen
conjured him to embrace the cause of unhappy Poland. In a cordial
letter to the poet, Frederick William, then Crown Prince, expressed
his hearty sympathy with the Poles and bewailed his inability to help.
The ode addressed by Herwegh to the king implored him to put down
clericalism; it was an agreeable surprise to find that this had given
no offence.

The audience took place on the 19th of November 1842. Herwegh was very
silent, depressed by the situation. The king was, as usual, eloquent
and communicative. He is reported to have said: "You are the second
enemy whom I have received this year; the first was M. Thiers (who
had threatened war in 1840, because of the support given by the great
powers to the Sultan in his quarrel with the Egyptian Pacha); but it
gives me greater pleasure to see you. We have our vocations, you and
I; mine is to be a king, yours to be a poet. I shall be faithful to
mine, as I trust you will be to yours. Nothing is more abhorrent to
me than vacillation; I esteem an Opposition which is actuated by real
conviction (wenn sie nur gesinnungsvoll ist)." Referring to Herwegh's
youth, he prophesied "a Damascus day" for him, concluding with the
words: "Until then, let us be honourable enemies."

Such particulars of this meeting of king and poet as reached the
ears of the public awakened feelings either of childish envy or
childish indignation among the oppositionist writers of the day. It
was considered that Herwegh ought (_à la_ Marquis Posa) to have taken
advantage of the opportunity to demand political liberty for Prussia.

A few days after the audience, Herwegh left Berlin. At Königsberg,
where he was again entertained at a banquet, he was surprised to
receive the news that his projected periodical, before its appearance,
had been declared contraband in Prussia. It was a prohibition for which
he might well have been prepared, for all books published abroad (his
own poems included) were contraband, except those for which special
licence had been granted. But already irritated by accusations of
treason brought against him in one and another Radical newspaper, he
was completely upset by this rebuff, and at once addressed an awkward,
unmanly, would-be pathetic letter to the king.

He pleaded the king's promise of honourable enmity, a promise which he
declared to be broken by this prohibition; he would not ask the king to
revoke this edict, though it was hard for him to see the child of his
Muse menaced while yet in its mother's womb, and hard to have to live
in a state of constant warfare with the law of the country; not that
the prohibition did him any harm, for he was fortunate enough to be at
that moment preparing the fifth edition of his poems, also a prohibited
book; but he felt impelled to address a last, honest, impassioned
appeal to the king; an appeal which, though private, was not merely his
own, but that of thousands, &c, &c.

The letter itself was stupid and indiscreet; its publication in a
Leipzig newspaper a few weeks later was a piece of folly that avenged
itself. In Stettin, Herwegh received orders to leave the country;
policemen escorted him to the stage-coach, from which he was forbidden
to alight in Halle. He had received a festive welcome in Prussia, but
his leave-taking was of the coldest.

The arch-scoffer Heine, in his poem, _Der Ex-lebendige_, has the
following lines:

   "Aranchuez! in deinem Sand'
      Wie schnell die schönen Tage schwanden,
    Als ich vor König Philip stand
      Und seinen uckermarkschen Granden.

    Er hat mir Beifall zugenickt,
      Als ich gespielt den Marquis Posa,
    In Versen hab' ich ihn entzückt
      Doch ihm gefiel nicht meine Prosa."[7]

[7] O my Aranchuez! how the days flew that I spent amidst thy sands!
those days when I stood in the presence of King Philip and his
Uckermark grandees. He nodded approval to me when I played Marquis
Posa; my verses charmed him, but my prose he could not stand.

And in _Die Audienz_ he jeers more mercilessly still at the Swabian

   "'Ich will, wie einst mein Heiland that,
      Am Anblick der Kinder mich laben.
    Lass zu mir kommen die Kindlein, zumal
      Das grosse Kind aus Schwaben.'

    So sprach der König, der Kämmerer lief
      Und kam zurück und brachte
    Herein das grosse Schwabenkind
      Das seinen Diener machte.

    Der König sprach: 'Du bist wohl ein Schwab?
      Das ist just keine Schande.'
    'Gerathen! erwidert der Schwab, ich bin
      Geboren im Schwabenlande.'
      . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    'Erbitte dir eine Gnade,' sprach
      Der König. Da kniete nieder
    Der Schwabe und rief: 'O geben Sie, Sire!
      Dem Volke die Freiheit wieder.'

    Der König stand erschüttert tief;
      Es war eine schöne Scene.
    Mit seinem Rockärmel wischte sich
      Der Schwab' aus dem Auge die Thräne.

    Der König sprach endlich: 'Ein schöner Traum!
      Leb' wohl und werde gescheidter!
    Und da du ein Somnambülericht bist,
      So geb' ich dir zwei Begleiter.

    Zwei sichre Gendarm', die sollen dich
      Bis an die Grenze führen.
    Leb' wohl, ich muss zur Parade geh'n,
      Schon hör ich die Trommel rühren.'"[8]


   "I will, as my gracious Saviour did,
      Find the sight of the children pleasant;
    So suffer the children to come, and first
      The big one, the Swabian peasant."

    Thus spake the monarch; the chamberlain ran,
      And return'd, introducing slowly
    The stalwart child from Swabia's land,
      Who made a reverence lowly.

    Thus spake the king: "A Swabian art thou?
      There's no disgrace in that, surely?"
    "Quite right! I was born in Swabia's land,"
      Replied the Swabian demurely.
      . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    "One wish I will grant thee," the monarch said--
      Then the Swabian in deep supplication
    Knelt down and exclaimed: "O sire, I pray grant
      Their freedom once more to the nation!"

    The monarch in deep amazement stood,
      The scene was really enthralling;
    With his sleeve the Swabian wiped from his eye
      The tear that was well-nigh falling.

    At last said the king: "In truth a fine dream!
      Farewell, and pray learn discretion;
    And as a somnambulist plainly thou art,
      Of thy person I'll give the possession

    To two trusty gendarmes, whose duty 'twill be
      To see thee safe over the border--
    Farewell! I must hasten to join the parade,
      The drums are beating to order."

It was not only humour that laughed, but envy and vindictiveness as
well. Men wreaked vengeance on their own former enthusiasm. The Herwegh
catastrophe was, moreover, attended by disastrous practical results.
The _Leipziger Allgemeine Zeitung_, the Opposition newspaper most
widely read in Prussia, was suppressed the day after it published the
letter to the king. The _Rheinische Zeitung_, the principal Liberal
paper published in Prussia, itself very soon received its death-blow.
And in Saxony, at the request of Prussia, Arnold Ruge's _Deutsche
Jahrbücher_ (first known as the _Hallische Jahrbücher_), the leading
periodical expressing the opinions of the reflective youth of the day,
was also suppressed.

One lesson the young generation learned from what had happened. It
was no momentous matter that a young poet should have shown himself
embarrassed and then unmanly in his relations with a king. But the
men of this day had imagined themselves to have taken a great step in
advance of the men of the Thirties; they believed that they possessed
strength of character, whereas their elders had only been gifted with
talent. Now it was borne in upon them, not only that poets are little
calculated to make good political leaders, but also that the whole
generation must discipline itself severely if it were to stand any
firmer in the day of trial than its predecessors had done.

So now thinkers and politicians by profession (in almost too many
instances professors) took the lead. And the fact that the generation
which now revolutionised the mind of Germany failed so miserably in
the close of the struggle of 1848, is to be ascribed, not to want of
strength of character, but to that idealism which is bred in the minds
of men who have never ruled, to their belief in the irresistible powers
of ideas and ideals to realise themselves, and to their contempt for
that external brute force, which in theory was of minor importance,
but which, vanquished in the first brush, calmly allowed itself to
be disdained, and awaited the moment when, with renewed vigour, it
returned to the attack.

There was considerable difference of opinion as to the advisability
of the various measures taken by Frederick William's ministers, but
for the most part they were unfavourably criticised. Under every other
question smouldered the question of the Prussian Constitution. The
king's attempt to dispose of it by a rebuff had been unsuccessful, and
the means which he and his advisers employed to put down the movement
were extremely infelicitous. In the Silesian Landtag (Parliament) the
chief magistrate and other representatives of the town of Breslau had
proposed an address from the Silesian Estates on the subject of a
general assembly of the Estates of the whole kingdom--a Reichstag. The
king replied by a special announcement of the procedure to be observed
on the occasion of his approaching visit to Silesia, intimating that no
arrangements need be made for his festive reception and entertainment
in Breslau, as he would accept nothing from that town. This in May, in
reference to a journey to be taken in October, and festivities of which
there had as yet been no offer! And the king entered Breslau in state
and was fêted after all, though the festivities were not held specially
on his account, but on the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of
the incorporation of Silesia with Prussia. He contented himself with
deploring the absence in the invitation sent him of "expressions which
would have given him heart-felt pleasure," and with declining to stay
longer than a day or two on account of want of time.

Yet the king stood in need of the consent of the Estates of the realm
to the carrying out of a project of the utmost importance for the
whole country. The time of railways had come, and two matters had
to be arranged, a loan of the money needed for the construction of
State railways, and a State guarantee to the constructors of private
lines. According to a law passed by Hardenberg in 1820, the consent
of the Estates of the realm was imperative in both cases. The king
evolved an impossible plan; he proposed to convoke an assembly of six
hundred representatives chosen from the different provincial Landtage,
and to let this assembly play the part of Reichstände (Estates of
the realm). Metternich was obliged to interfere, and prove the utter
impracticability of the scheme.[9]

[9] Sybel: _Die Begründung des deutschen Reiches_, i. 107.

It was at this juncture that a small pamphlet, _Vier Fragen eines
Ostpreussen_ ("Four Questions by an East-Prussian"), made a sensation
throughout the whole of Germany. The little book appeared on the
spiritual horizon like the first distant flash of lightning that
preludes the storm. Purporting to be printed in Mannheim, it was
scattered abroad everywhere in the end of February 1841. Such careful
arrangements had been made that it found its way into the booksellers'
windows of every town in Prussia on the same day--every town except
Berlin, where it appeared a little later, a precaution taken to prevent
confiscation before the general distribution.

The Four Questions which it contained foreboded the downfall of
absolute monarchy. They were: What did the Estates ask? What right had
they to make such a request? What answer did they receive? What remains
for them to do?

The book's answer to the first question was that, as things now stood,
the people had almost no share in their own government, although the
general high level of education made it natural that they should wish
it. And their desire for a representative constitution, for a national
parliament, was made more ardent by the fact that they possessed no
other means, such, for instance, as a free press, of expressing their
opinions, and that they thoroughly distrusted the king's ministers
because of their arbitrariness, servility, and pietistic tendencies.
To the question: What right had the Estates to make such a demand?
the author replied: The right of authority, an authority declared and
recognised on the 22nd of May 1815. To the third question: What answer
did they receive? the reply was: A recognition of their loyalty, a
rejection of their proposal, and comforting promises of some vague
future indemnification. The answer to the fourth question: What remains
for the Estates to do? only occupied a line and a half. It was: To
demand now as a demonstrable right what they had previously solicited
as an act of grace.

The earnest, impressive tone of the pamphlet, its appeal to the
people's sense of justice and self-respect, aroused a keen desire to
know the name of the anonymous author. He himself had sent his book to
the king, with his name written on the title page: Dr. Johann Jacoby,
physician in Königsberg. The king at once ordered criminal proceedings
to be instituted against him. It appeared that he was a man of means,
and a very highly esteemed physician. In 1831, during the first and
most violent epidemic of cholera in Poland, he had gone there to study
the disease. At a later period he had had a protracted quarrel with a
Warsaw doctor, a regular quack, who, when the cholera broke out again
in 1837, advertised his discovery of an infallible remedy for "this
trivial, easily curable disease." Jacoby wrote a short scientific
article in disparagement of this man. The quack wrote an answer full
of insulting imputations, which he published in the Berlin newspapers.
By the help of influential friends he not only managed to secure the
prohibition of the publication of Jacoby's retort, but also to defeat
the latter's successive appeals to the Berlin censor's superior, to the
highest council of censorship, to Rochow, the Secretary of State, and
to the king himself. The publishers in Hamburg, Leipzig, Grimma, Basle,
and Berne, one and all refused to print the documents throwing light on
this affair. Any other man would now have given up the attempt to get
his reply to an attack in a contemptible newspaper article published.
Not so Jacoby. Month followed upon month. The manuscript travelled
thousands of miles, and was published at last in Paris, under the title
of _Contribution to a Future Historical Account of the Censorship of
the Press in Prussia_.

Such was Jacoby's character. Here at last was found what Young Germany
so sorely needed, what even Youngest Germany with its Herwegh had not
produced, that first essential in public life--a man. At last the
Germany of the Forties had found a strong political leader--not a
statesman in the proper sense of the word, for time showed that he was
incapable of accommodating himself to circumstances, that he could not
be satisfied with aiming at the attainable; but a man of inflexible
will, of absolute integrity, who with indomitable courage pressed
onwards to his goal.

The Government organs, the libellous press, began a systematic
attack upon him. There was nothing to lay hold of in his blameless
personality, but he was of Jewish descent. In a little pamphlet
published by the local magnates of a small town in the neighbourhood
of Königsberg under the title of _Stimme treuer Unterthanen seiner
Majestät des Königs von Preussen_ ("Voice of a Few Faithful Subjects
of his Majesty the King of Prussia"), we read: "Not from German, not
from Christian lips did these words proceed.... East-Prussia would be
disgraced if her sons had expressed such sentiments.... The seed of
Jacob did not hearken to the voice of God, did not acknowledge his only
begotten son, but put him to death; therefore they were cast off for
ever, and scattered abroad among the nations of the earth." Presently,
however, in all the booksellers' windows the portrait of Jacoby was to
be seen; his face, with its clear-cut features, was surrounded by four
marks of interrogation; he held his pen like a lance poised for attack.

The significance of the man who thus made his appearance was felt
by the poets, even by those with least strength of character, even
by Dingelstedt, who was then preparing to barter his oppositionist
principles for the title of _Hofrath_ (Privy Councillor). In
Dingelstedt's fine collection of poems, _Nachtwächters Weltgang_, we
find one with the heading: ????, evidently addressed to the King of

  "Du weisst, was das bedeuten will? Du wirst sie mir nicht streichen?
   Es sind ja nur unschuldige--vier kleine Fragezeichen.
   Die wurzeln tief, die ragen hoch; wie die gerühmten Eichen
   Des freien deutschen Volkes stehn vier kleine Fragezeichen.
   Du wolltest sie zwar nimmer sehn in deinen weiten Reichen,
   Doch drängen sie sich immer auf, vier kleine Fragezeichen.
       . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
   Und einst, wenn du gestorben bist, als Stempel dann und Aichen
   Stehn gross an deinem Monument--vier kleine Fragezeichen."[10]

[10] You know the meaning of these marks? You would never dream
of erasing them--four innocent little marks of interrogation? Yet
they strike deep root, they mount towards heaven, like the oak, the
emblem of the great, free German nation. You have done your best to
annihilate them throughout your wide realms, but they persistently
appear again, these four little marks of interrogation.... In years to
come, when you are dead, there will stand as sign and symbol on your
monument--four little marks of interrogation.

Herwegh, too, sang Jacoby's praises, as if he had a prevision that this
was a man who, placed face to face with the King of Prussia, would
play a more manly part than he himself had done. And the prevision was
correct In November 1848, when the king replied to the deputation that
waited on him to demand a change of ministers: "I will not listen to
any communication on this subject," it was Jacoby who stepped forward
and said: "It is the great misfortune of kings, that they will not
listen to the truth." Herwegh's poem, which has a J. as headings,

   "Und wieder ob den Landen
    Lag jüngst ein schwerer Bann:
    Da ist ein Mann erstanden,
    Ein ganzer, deutscher Mann.
    Ein deutscher und ein freier,
    Wer hätte das gedacht!
    Dass selbst die deutsche Leier
    Aus ihrem Schlaf erwacht."[11]

[11] Our country in these latter days lay under a heavy ban; but,
behold! there arose to deliver her one who with truth could be called a
man. A German, and a freeman--who could have dreamt it? who could have
looked for this awakening of the German lyre?

The proceedings against Jacoby were carried on with extraordinary
vigour. In less than four weeks he was brought up for examination
twenty times; ninety-six witnesses gave evidence, shop-women, cooks,
and school-children among the number. His real misdemeanour was
merely a transgression of the press-laws, namely circumvention of
censorship. But he was accused of instigation to disaffection--for
which the punishment was two years' imprisonment and disfranchisement;
of _lèse-majesté_--for which the punishment was four years' penal
servitude; and of high treason--punishment, "death, with application of
the most severe and deterrent pains and penalties."

It was in his native town, Königsberg, that Jacoby was brought to
trial; but the court there declared itself incompetent to deal with the
case, seeing that it was one of high treason, and passed it on to the
Kammergericht in Berlin. The Kammergericht, aware that the charge of
high treason was untenable, also declared itself unqualified, and sent
it back. The king was obliged to issue an order in council, requiring
the Königsberg court to proceed with the trial. It was altogether to
Jacoby's advantage to be tried by his fellow-citizens; but he disdained
the idea of an illegal acquittal, and obstinately demanded to be tried
by the Kammergericht in Berlin, since he was accused of high treason.
His wish had to be complied with. He was condemned to two and a half
years' imprisonment with hard labour and disfranchisement. But three
years later the highest court of appeal pronounced a full and free

In the meantime all over Germany money was collected to present him
with a civic wreath; subscriptions poured in; the names of eminent
men headed the lists. Once more the Government was obliged to take
action; the subscription lists were seized, the subscribers summoned,
and a stop put to the whole proceeding. While the police and the
censors were thus struggling to suppress the agitation for a free
constitution, there was issued, on the 11th of August 1842, the most
absurd regulation of which there is any record in the annals of an
autocratically governed country--one of the country's own existing
laws was added to the list of prohibited writings; it was forbidden
to reprint the law of the 22nd of May 1815 (that relating to the
institution of Estates of the Realm), because of its tendency to excite

In September 1842, those Prussians who had hoped to see their country
under the new king shake itself free from its humiliating relations
with the Emperor Nicholas, learned that Frederick William IV., in
Platen's day the warm, if platonic, friend of Poland, the hater of
Russian tactics, was preparing for a journey to Warsaw to meet the
Czar. On the return journey the king stopped at Kalisch to inspect the
monument erected there in memory of the meeting between the sovereigns
of Russia and Prussia in 1813. A Russian officer, General Berg (the
future castigator of Poland), translated the inscriptions for him. One
of them was: "May the Almighty give His blessing to the alliance and
friendship between Russia and Prussia, that it may advance the peace
and prosperity of both countries and inspire fear in their common
enemies!" On hearing this inscription read, the king hastened up the
steps of the monument and in the dust upon its side wrote with his
finger the word: Amen![12]

[12] Prutz: _Zehn Jahre_, i. pp. 237, 367, 516, &c.



Nevertheless, Frederick William IV. was, and remained, the most
intellectually gifted monarch of his day; his conversation gave
evidence of both intelligence and imagination. It was a principle with
him that all his feelings ought to be kingly; his published letters to
Humboldt, written in amusing court jargon, are bright and clever; his
sayings show quickness of apprehension, easily awakened compassion,
ready wit.[1] Nor can it be said that he was out of touch with
the German intellectual life and literature of the day; he showed
favour to all the "good" writers, and disfavour to the "bad"; but it
was not long before all Oppositionist writers were included in the
latter class.

In the beginning of the reign, Humboldt's was the dominating literary
influence at court. Alexander von Humboldt, now eighty, the most
famous scientist of the day, and a man of world-wide celebrity, kept
the king well posted up in all the latest intellectual and scientific
movements. His brother Wilhelm's liberal political theories had fallen
into complete disrepute; to his own he dared not give expression at
court; holding both superstition and reaction in abhorrence, he was a
silent witness of much that was repugnant to him, though he now and
again spoke his mind.[2] Honoured by the king and his intimates
as the ornament of the court and the pride of his country, he took
advantage of his position to further the cause of science and to say an
occasional helpful word for this or that persecuted author. Published
letters show that, before 1848, the king treated Humboldt with a
sort of playful familiarity, though there was no real, deep sympathy
between the two men. After 1848, when the Kreuzzeitung party became
all-powerful, Humboldt gave expression to his annoyance at having
lost his influence, in such remarks as, "It is no longer possible to
amuse the king;" or, "the king persists in wasting fruitless affection
on persons whom he has taken into favour." Amiability was not his
characteristic at court; he was often sarcastic, and became angry
when Ranke's political opinions found more favour than his. He was
disliked by many, amongst others by the queen, who disapproved of his
attachment to Louis Philippe and his family. He was in the habit of
reading aloud all varieties of literature, but never his own writings;
most frequently he read the _Journal des Débats_, whilst the king sat
planning landscapes and architectural drawings.

Another of those who read aloud to the royal family was Tieck, whom the
king had brought to Berlin from Dresden. Though Tieck was considerably
younger than Humboldt, court life was a burden to him because of his
bodily infirmity. Shakespeare and Kleist were the authors he most
frequently read from. The king ordered Tieck's own old fairy play,
_Puss in Boots_, to be performed in Berlin, it was like the appearance
of some antiquated spectre. At the king's instigation Tieck put the
_Antigone_ of Sophocles on the stage, and Mendelssohn composed music
for it. But Tieck was only one of literature's invalided soldiers. When
the court dined in the garden of Sans Souci, he was afraid of draughts,
even on the warmest days.

Another once famous author of the Romantic period whom the king called
to Berlin was La Motte Fouqué. Though not much over sixty, this writer
had completely outlived his reputation. His romances seemed to the
younger generation to belong to a pre-historic period. People were
tired of tales of chivalry and the service of love (_Minnedienst_) told
in a conventionally childish style; his unhistorical conception of past
times and his sanctimoniousness aroused derision. Had it not been for
the king's support, he would have died in want and oblivion.

In 1841, chiefly on the recommendation of Varnhagen, the king invited
to Berlin a great poet who did not belong to the Romantic school.
This was Friedrich Rückert (1788-1866). Rückert was only fifty-three,
but he did not belong to the period in which he lived; he was the
expression in the literature of the day of that German universality
which is unaffected by circumstances, of the gift of appropriation,
absorption and imitation of the peculiarities of all other races. All
his life long he shook poems out of his sleeve with a truly astonishing
skill. As a young man he was initiated by Joseph von Hammer into the
literatures of Arabia, Persia, and Turkey, and in 1826 he was appointed
lecturer in Oriental languages at the University of Erlangen, but his
duties as lecturer he constantly tried to evade.

There is something about him which reminds us of Goethe in the Divan
period, and something which he owes to the Schlegels and their
indefatigable study and translation. The essay on philology, _Ueber
das Wesen der Philologie_, which he wrote in 1811, shows the influence
of Friedrich Schlegel's work on the wisdom of ancient India; for he
starts from the idea of a "universal poetry," for which he considers
the German language the most sympathetic vehicle. And universal,
cosmopolitan poetry is exactly what this great master of style has
given us. He, as the German patriot, makes his début with _Geharnischte
Sonnette_ ("Armoured Sonnets"), polished and rather mannered verse.
This book is followed by volume after volume of love-poems to various
young women (five to six hundred poems). In the last and largest of
these volumes, _Liebesfrühling_, inscribed to his fiancée, Louise
Witthaus, feeling is predominant; everywhere else he is the didactic
poet employing lyric forms, here he is the singer. But even here, set
forms--as in the _Canzonets of the South_--stand in the way of the
simple, natural outburst of feeling, and already Rückert's inclination
to display his mastery over language shows itself in a hitherto
unexampled free invention of new words and ease in interlacing within
the limits of metre:

   "Welche Heldenfreudigkeit der Liebe,
    Welche Stärke muthigen Entsagens,
    Welche himmlisch erdentschwungene Triebe,
    Welche Gottbegeistrung des Ertragens!
    Welche Sich-Erhebung, Sich-Erwiedrung,
    Sich-Entäussrung, völl'ge Hin-sich-gebung,
    Seelenaustausch, Ineinanderlebung!"

There is more of philological and technical than of purely poetical
interest in such verse as this. But Rückert _was_ the philologist
as poet. His predominating gift is the gift of language in its two
developments--the capacity to learn languages and penetrate into
their spirit, and the capacity, due to his profound penetration into
the mysteries of his own language, to reproduce in German the best
poetry written in other languages. He delighted in creating linguistic
difficulties for himself to overcome. At one time we have him writing
in the old German style that corresponded to his Albrecht Dürer curls,
at another as a young officer of the time of Napoleon; now he is a
Bedouin telling us Hariri's tales with marvellous skill, and again a
Persian weaving his rhyme in the form of Ghazels or recreating the epic
of Rustum and Sohrab. He appears before us as a Turk in caftan and
turban, as a Chinaman with slippers and pig-tail; but most frequently
and with most pleasure he sits as a Brahmin on the banks of the sacred
Ganges, proclaiming in sonorous verse the thousand golden rules of
a happy philosophy of life. It is said of Théophile Gautier that he
was, intellectually speaking, equally at home in ancient Egypt, in
the Russia of to-day, in Constantinople, and in Seville. This is only
true to the extent that he was well acquainted with the climatic
characteristics and the monuments of many foreign lands. It may be
said with much profounder truth of Rückert, who comprehended the human
beings through their literatures, understood their language and thought
in their spirit. He never saw the foreign lands with his bodily eyes,
therefore he has neither Gautier's colour, nor his power of graphic
presentation; he views them all calmly, reflectively, with the eye of
the mind, and gives us the mental pictures in an astonishing variety
of metrical forms. Whoever desires to make acquaintance with excellent
specimens of his art should read _Hariri's Makamehs_ (more particularly
the division entitled _Jungfrau und Junge Frau_) or _Weisheit der

These works had gained Rückert a wide circle of readers and admirers
in Berlin; but the town, with its restlessness, was antipathetic to
him. He was to lecture on Oriental languages at the university, and his
first lectures were attended by a curious crowd; but this crowd soon
dwindled down to an audience of two or three, and Rückert gave up going
to the university. He sat in his room in the third flat of a house in
the Behrenstrasse and wrote poems in which he expressed his detestation
of Berlin and its agitated, modern life. Even the Berlin of the royal
romanticist was too modern for these celebrities of past days.

At a somewhat later date the king extended his patronage to Christian
Scherenberg, whose poems, more especially the battle-pieces _Waterloo_
and _Abukir_, were much admired at court--the author himself had to
read them aloud. Even as an octogenarian, Scherenberg retained his
place as a favourite in Berlin society. He was born in 1798. His
life had been a hard struggle. After the dissolution of his unhappy
marriage, he lived, from 1833 to 1840, in rooms in a small house at the
corner of the Bendlerstrasse, looking towards the Zoological Gardens,
in such poverty that he could not afford to buy firewood, and had to
send his children to gather sticks in the Gardens. He wrote poems,
tragedies, and comedies, for which he could never find a publisher;
nevertheless he was so successful in his attempts to keep up the
appearance of a gentleman, that his relations in Stettin believed he
had won fame under an assumed name, and begged him to "remove his mask"
and let them into the secret. All that his pen brought him was what he
received for composing begging letters and for copying; the rest of his
living he gained by acting as tutor to the families of the gardeners
who lived in the neighbourhood, giving lessons which, according to
agreement, were paid for in potatoes. A pretty story is told by Fontane
in his _Life of Scherenberg_. Great hopes had been entertained in the
Bendlerstrasse that a certain long-deferred payment would be made at
Easter in the shape of a juicy roast of veal; but in place of this, the
pupil, in his innocent desire to give pleasure, appeared with a lark
in a little green cage. On Easter morning, 1840, Scherenberg himself
carried the cage out to an open field, set the lark free, and wrote the
sweet poem, one verse of which runs:

   "Du, Vöglein, singst, das ist das Deine,
      Hub leise ich zur Lerche an,
    Ich geb' dich frei, das ist das Meine,
      Ein Jeder bete, wie er kann."[3]

The poor, struggling poet let the lark go, but kept its little clay
water-dish as a remembrance, promoting it to be his ink-pot.

At last his poems caught the fancy of the public, and the king,
delighted with the originality and rugged energy of the battle-pieces,
took their author into favour. The only thing connected with the time
when he read aloud at court that Scherenberg could be persuaded to talk
about, was the pleasure of the half-hour before the reading, spent in
his friend Count Bismarck-Bohlen's room, where men joked and smoked,
and afterwards drenched themselves with Eau de Cologne, because the
king disliked the smell of tobacco. Many years later there was another
potentate in Berlin at whose court Scherenberg was an attendant. This
was Ferdinand Lassalle. At his house the poet met livelier companions,
in whose society he not infrequently permitted himself to make fun
of his royal and aristocratic patrons. It was in his nature to suit
himself to his company; his court friends knew his weakness and excused

Another favourite at the Prussian court, as indeed at all the courts of
Europe, was Prince Hermann Pückler-Muskau, who from time to time came
to Berlin to visit the wife whom, though divorced from her, he still
loved. He was a handsome man, aristocratic in appearance and manners,
accomplished and versatile, a favourite with men because of his
spirit and gaiety, irresistibly charming to women; the list of famous
women who were devoted to him is a long one; it includes Sophie Gay,
Henriette Sontag, Bettina, and Ida Hahn-Hahn. In much the same manner
as the Prince de Ligne before him, Pückler-Muskau belonged, by right of
his intellectual qualities, to the international aristocracy of Europe.
His desire to shine did not lead him to over-estimate his powers, did
not even preclude real modesty. He was a brilliant vagabond, a master
of the art of living, and a skilled professional in one department of
art strictly so-called, namely, landscape gardening. He was the first
in Germany to desert the stiff, French style of laying out a garden,
and to reinstate nature in her rights. His garden at Muskau soon became
the model garden of Europe.

There were many strange episodes in his life. Nothing could be much
stranger than the story of his marriage. He was in love at the same
time with two young girls, daughters of Count von Pappenheim, whose
wife was a daughter of Chancellor Hardenberg. This lady, who was forty,
nine years older than Pückler, herself conceived such a violent passion
for him that she infected him with it. She gave up everything to become
his, and he married her, but with the proviso that he was to be at
complete liberty to dispose of his affections as he chose. The marriage
turned out happily. But after they had lived together for ten years the
couple amicably arranged a divorce, in the hope that the prince might
find and marry a rich heiress, and thereby repair his fallen fortunes.
With this aim in view he first visits London, then travels about in
Germany. He writes daily to his divorced wife, his Lucie, keeping her
faithfully informed of the progress he makes and of the difficulties
he encounters in his pursuit of an heiress. Unable to capture one, he
returns to Lucie, and they again live lovingly together for some years.
After this he travels for six years, returning at the end of that
time with a beautiful little slave, named Machbuba, whom he instals
at Muskau. With this arrangement the princess was not altogether
satisfied, though she had made it a rule never to plague him with
jealousy. At the age of seventy she still loved and worshipped him,
and in his intercourse with her he was always personified kindness,
frankness, and cordiality.

Prince Pückler had never had any serious thought of taking up the
profession of author, but in 1830 he determined to publish anonymously
the letters which he had written to Lucie during his travels in search
of an heiress. They had a great success. There was a society tone about
them very uncommon in German literature, an attractive carelessness
of construction, due to the fact that they were not written for
publication, a pleasing mixture of wisdom and frivolity. As already
mentioned, many ascribed their authorship to Heine. Their writer was
modern in the extreme, thoroughly _blasé_, an advanced Liberal, a
freethinker in the literal sense of the word.

For readers of to-day the four volumes of _Briefe eines Verstorbenen_
("Letters of a Dead Man") have much the same value as Madame de
Girardin's attractive five volumes, _Lettres parisiennes du Vicomte de
Launay_. She is fresher and writes infinitely better than the prince.
He has cosmopolitan experiences of classes and of countries that she
knows nothing about. As a specimen of his style, those interested
should read the unassuming account of his conversation with Goethe
in Weimar, to be found in the third volume of the Letters. Pückler's
enthusiastic reverence for Goethe has a genuine ring, and the same
may be said of Goethe's answer to Pückler's polite speeches. Goethe
at once begins to talk about Muskau (referred to in letters as M.),
and commends attempts like Pückler's to awaken the feeling for beauty,
dwells on the fact that the welfare of all would be rapidly advanced if
only each in his own sphere, great or small, would work faithfully and
lovingly--that is what Pückler is doing in Muskau, and he himself has
done no more.

Pückler's later volumes of travel, many in number, leave us quite cold.
They lack the spontaneity of the Letters, and are still more destitute
of that which could alone replace it, namely, literary talent. But
until about the year 1840 they stood as high in the favour of the
reading public as his first books, and their author's popularity was
unbounded; he was, like Franz Liszt, known and admired everywhere. As
late as 1854 Heine dedicates his _Lutetia_ to him in an enthusiastic
preface, in which he calls him "mein hochgefeierter und wahlverwandter
Zeitgenosse" (that highly honoured contemporary, to whom I feel myself
spiritually akin). And in Varnhagen's diary for July 7, 1839, we read:
"Prince Pückler's name acts like magic. It needs but to be mentioned,
and the great world of all countries listens in suspense. His fame is
stupendous, and the cleverer men are, the more they appreciate him."

In 1834 Varnhagen had said of him that he possessed one quality in
common with Young Germany, and that the most important, namely,
absolute freedom of thought; at a later period he said that Pückler
represented the upper house, Heine the lower house in modern German

Pückler's attitude to the House of Hohenzollern was one of chivalrous
devotion. He never came to Berlin without waiting on the king. He
appreciated Frederick William IV.'s culture and wit, but, being a
pronounced Voltairean, to whom every priest was a hypocrite and all
vague piety an abomination, the romantic strain in the king's character
repelled him. Like Humboldt he often fled from the court and took
refuge with Varnhagen, the keen observer and critic, who sat forgotten
in his corner, writing in his Journal (a diary kept in Sainte-Beuve's
manner) the history of the times. And in later years Pückler, too, was
a regular guest at Lassalle's small dinner-parties, where he often did
most of the talking; it is said that he was the only person privileged
by Lassalle to do so.[4]

To the authors already named we have only to add the aged Arndt, who in
his day had been persecuted as a demagogue, and we have the complete
list of the romantic, conservative, neutral, or aristocratic writers
whom the most powerful king in Germany succeeded in attaching to his
person. We see the length and the strength of the attachment. The
Opposition attacked every author who had the very slightest connection
with the court or with those in power. We have seen how Herwegh begins
his first book with a defiant attack on Prince Pückler. He jeered even
at Arndt--called him a sunset glow, incapable of illuminating the young
world--and received a poetical reproof from Freiligrath for so doing.

Freiligrath was the only one of the young poets whom the king at once
(1841) placed under an obligation (Geibel was taken into favour a year
or two later). General von Radowitz, who admired Freiligrath's poem
"Löwenritt," in spite of its unnaturalness, induced the king to look
favourably on its author and to grant him a pension of 300 thalers.
Herwegh, not content with making merry at Freiligrath's expense in
such lines as the following, where _Freiligrath_ is substituted for
_Mühlenrad_ (mill-wheel):

   "Mir wird von alle dem so dumm,
    Als ging mir ein Freiligrath im Kopf herum,"[5]

wrote in his _Duett der Pensionirten_:

        "_Geibel_: Bist du's?
    _Freiligrath_:      Ja, willst du mich kennen?
                   Ja, ich bin es in der That,
                   Den Bediente Bruder nennen
                   Bin der Sänger Freiligrath."[6]

This was more than Freiligrath could stand. He threw up his pension, a
step which was soon followed by his complete conversion. His volumes,
_Ein Glaubensbekenntniss_ ("A Confession of Faith"), published in
1844, and _Ça ira_, published in 1846, show a steadily increasing
passion of devotion to the revolutionary cause. He became the most
honoured poet of the party. Immediately after the publication of _Ein
Glaubensbekenntniss_ he was obliged to flee the country, going first
to Brussels and then to London, where he earned his livelihood as a

The following anecdote shows how popular he already was: From Brussels
he had taken an excursion to Antwerp. There he and his friends went on
board a barque that was lying in the river, ready to sail for Canton.
While the boatswain was showing them over the ship, the captain, with
some friends, came out of the cabin. Freiligrath's party made many
excuses, but the courteous sailor bade them welcome, and invited them
into the cabin. On one of the shelves of the little book-case stood
Freiligrath's Poems. "Are you not pleased that your poems are going
out to Canton?" asks one of his companions. "Eh!" says the captain.
"This is Freiligrath? The real Freiligrath?" On his question being
answered in the affirmative, the captain rushes to the speaking-tube:
"Hoist the flags! Man the yards! and serve champagne on deck!"[7]

The fermentation throughout Germany was rapidly becoming more violent.
Ever since 1842 the Hungarians under Kossuth had been defying
Metternich; in Bavaria the prestige of royalty had suffered from
King Ludwig's amour with the ballet-dancer, Lola Montez; in German
Switzerland the Radical and Jesuit parties were engaged in stern
conflict. In Prussia the authority of the State Church was being
vigorously asserted; Roman Catholicism was favoured, but all other
dissenters were harassed. It was not only the Free-Catholics, a sect
founded by Ronge, and the so-called Friends of Light, another free
sect, founded by Wislicenus, that were regarded with disfavour; even
Pietists were objected to, as not orthodox enough to suit the State
requirements. One protest after another reached the king from those
whose liberty in matters of conscience was threatened. And purely
political agitation was on the increase too. The leaders of the
opposition parties in all the States of Germany decried with one voice
the old Federal constitution (_Bundesverfassung_). Louder and louder
rose the cry in Prussia (the king having laid no great restrictions
on the liberty of the press) for the promised new constitution. From
abroad too came revolutionary impulses. Since 1846 Pius IX. had been
giving himself out as a Liberal and an Italian patriot. Insurrections
were breaking out all over Italy; Metternich was unable to prevent
them, and they were destroying his prestige. German emigrants in
Switzerland and North America did their best to fan the flame in

Meantime the King of Prussia occupied himself with the institution of
the new Order of the Swan and with architectural plans. He proposed the
erection of a great Hermann monument on the Rhine, as a demonstration
against constitutional France; and he set the builders to work again
on the Cathedral of Cologne, after a pause of 300 years. This latter
undertaking was considered symbolical, not from the national but from
the ecclesiastical point of view. It gave Heine occasion for various
protests and erroneous prophecies in _Deutschland, ein Wintermärchen_,
and also gave occasion to Strauss's clever pamphlet, _Der Romantiker
auf dem Trone der Cäsaren_, in which he manages to describe Julian the
Apostate as the enthusiastic religious reactionary, in such a way that
the parallel with Frederick William IV. suggests itself without being
pointed out.

The new literature, to which the king was distinctly inimical, soon
began to return his enmity with interest. He established Tieck,
the fretful, crippled old man, at Sans Souci as poet-laureate, and
Schelling, the mystifier, in Berlin as _summus philosophus_. He
caused the _Antigone_ of Sophocles and the _Medea_ of Euripides to be
performed in the theatres of Berlin and Potsdam, in hopes of thereby
counteracting the spirit of unrest in German literature. But that
literature went its own way.

[1] Examples of Frederick William's style of wit: When the king was at
the play, lackeys stood in attendance outside the door of the royal
box. One evening, when his Majesty, provoked by the tiresomeness of a
new play, left his box before the close of the performance, he found
one of the lackeys sitting on the floor of the passage, sound asleep,
his head leant against the wall of the box. Instead of being angry,
the king said: "Der hat gehorcht" (means both: He has listened, and:
He has obeyed). In 1848, in the palmy days of the Revolution, the king
was obliged to receive one deputation after another, sometimes of very
pretentious and presumptuous common people. He addressed the members
of one such deputation, one after the other. What are you?--A silk and
woollen cloth warehouseman, your Majesty.--Most interesting occupation.
And you?--A medical student.--Excellent preparation for taking part in
the government of the country! And so on, all the time with a most
polite, if ironical, smile. (Told me by an eye-witness.)

[2] The king was at one time deeply interested in the mysteries of
table-turning, but it was long before any of the palace tables could
be persuaded to perform, a fact which did not surprise Humboldt. At
last the king received him one morning with the exclamation: "Aha!
what do you say now? We sat round the table for a full half-hour last
night before it would move, but at last off it went, round and round,
faster and faster. How do you explain that?" "Why, your Majesty, in all
disputes it's the wiser of the two that gives in." (Related by Humboldt


    O little bird, to sing 'tis thine,
      gently to the lark began;
    I set thee free, that deed is mine;
      We all must pray as best we can.

[4] A. de Reumont: _Aus König Fr. Wilhelm IV. gesunden und kranken
Tagen.--Briefe Alex. v. Humboldt's an Varnhagen von Ense.--Varnhagen
von Ense's Tagebücher_.--Hillebrand: _Zeiten, Völker und Menschen II_.

[5] All that is going on makes me as stupid as if a mill-wheel (a
Freiligrath) were turning in my head.


"_Geibel_: Is this you?
_Freiligrath_: Yes! will you recognise me? Truly it is I; servants now
call me brother, yet I am the poet Freiligrath.

[7] Schmidt-Weissenfels: _Freiligrath._



In Anastasius Grün's (Count Alexander von Auersperg's) volume,
_Spaziergänge eines Wiener Poeten_ ("Walks of a Viennese Poet"),
there is a poem, the title and the refrain of which is: Why? When new
prohibitory enactments are pasted on the notice-board at the town-hall,
a little man comes and reads them and quietly asks: Why? When the
priests from their pulpits groan and howl at the sunlight, he asks:
Why? When men go out to fight sparrows with halberts and spears, and
use cannons to shoot larks, he asks: Why? And when they try, condemn,
and execute himself, from his very grave is heard the question: Why?

Something of this kind happened in Germany as soon as the patriarchal
faith in monarchy was thoroughly shaken. When an act of violence, or
a stupid act, or a subterfuge on the part of the Government killed
a hope, out of the grave of that hope grew a Why. And every Why
gave birth to others. The four questions of the East-Prussian were
inadequate now; questions grew and multiplied like those invisible but
dangerous animals which in an incredibly short time can undermine an
organism. Why revere? Why trust? Why endure? And, first and foremost,
why keep silence? When they are going to shake off the yoke, men begin
by refusing to bear it silently. Suffering and wrath, desire and
longing, now found vent in words, in song.

Political verse, of which there had been occasional specimens among
the work of Platen and Lenau, Uhland and Heine, now concentrates and
crystallises itself into a separate species of poetry, a separate
form of art. Political song of every variety is heard throughout the
land. It is a time of growth; men of talent come to the surface in
crowds--Hoffmann and Herwegh, Dingelstedt and Prutz, Freiligrath and
Max Waldau, Karl Beck and Mofitz Hartmann--such a rich and fragant
bloom as had never been seen in this domain before. Old Romanticists
expressed their contempt for prose (_i.e._ political) poetry, dogmatic
æsthetes declared these poets to be possessed of rhetoric and not of
lyric talent; but all to no purpose; the very number of them, and the
way in which they spontaneously fell into position as a group, showed
that they had the very best, the only unchallengeable reason for coming
into existence, namely, that they could not help it, that the spirit of
the times was making its voice heard through them; and soon they also
proved that they possessed the one and only right to exist, for they
were able to hold their ground, they took their position as literary
men, and gained the popular ear.

They had had a single forerunner in the Thirties, the above-mentioned
Austrian poet, Alexander Auersperg. His verse was imposing, somewhat
overloaded with imagery, at times wanting in taste; nevertheless it had
the true ring, and his pathos was genuine. Joseph II. is Auersperg's
hero, and it is from the "enlightenment" standpoint that he regards
that political liberty which he so eagerly desires. It is the power of
the priesthood that specially arouses his wrath; but he distinguishes
between _Pfaffen_ and _Priester_, attacks the worthless and sings the
praises of the high-minded among the clergy. Upon lines like:

   "Stoss in's Horn, Herold des Krieges: Zu den Waffen, zu den Waffen!
    Kampf und Krieg der argen Horde heuchlerischer, dummer Pfaffen!"[1]

follow others which extol the virtues of the really saintly priests.
Still we feel that in his opinion more of the former than of the latter
are to be found in his own day. He regards it as one of the signs of
the times that the fat, animal priest has been succeeded by the lean,
intelligent, ambitious one:

                 _Die Dicken und die Dünnen._

  "Fünfzig Jahre sind's, da riefen unsere Aeltern zu den Waffen,
   Krieg und Kampf den dicken, kugelrunden, feisten Pfaffen!
   Auch in Waffen stehn wir Enkel; jetzt doch muss die Lösung sein:
   Krieg und Kampf den dünnen, magern, spindelhagern Pfäffelein!"[2]

In spirited verse the courageous poet attacked now Metternich, now
the detective police, now the censorship. His poems display a frank,
vigorous spirit of opposition, no hatred, no wild resentment; one
feels that they are animated by anticipation of a glorious future and
enthusiasm for the great men of the past. But Auersperg's plastic power
is slight; he too often loses himself in a maze of allegory. The best
of the political poetry of the Forties is, both intellectually and
artistically, much superior to his.

About a year after his famous journey, from the effects of which he
had completely recovered, Georg Herwegh published a second volume of
_Gedichte eines Lebendigen_ ("Poems of a Living Man"), in which some
new and valuable qualities are combined with those characterising the
first. There is more confidence and more fire, and both enthusiasms
and animosities are less vague. We have fewer illusions, and a clearer
understanding of ends and means; no more appeals to a king to lead the
onward march of his people, or to God to give freedom and happiness to
all the nations of the earth. Frederick William IV. had extinguished
Herwegh's faith in princes, and Ludwig Feuerbach his faith in God.
But we gain the impression that the dawning light in men's minds has
broadened into the light of day.

In the old dawn-songs, which Shakespeare has imitated in _Romeo and
Juliet_, the young girl always tries to keep her lover with her by
declaring that it is not sunlight but moonlight that he sees, not the
lark but the nightingale that he hears. This idea is cleverly reversed
in the poem _Morgenzuruf_ ("Cry of the Morning"):

   "Die Lerche war's, nicht die Nachtigall,
    Die eben am Himmel geschlagen:
    Schon schwingt er sich auf, der Sonnenball,
    Vom Winde des Morgens getragen.
    Der Tag, der Tag ist erwacht!
    Die Nacht,
    Die Nacht soll blutig verenden.
    Heraus wer an's ewige Licht noch glaubt,
    Ihr Schläfer, die Rosen der Liebe vom Haupt,
    Und ein flammendes Schwert um die Lenden!"[3]

_Unglückliche Liebe_ ("Unhappy Love") is an epigram pointed against kings:

   "Nicht an den Königen liegt's--die Könige lieben die Freiheit,
    Aber die Freiheit liebt leider die Könige nicht."[4]

The tone of Herwegh's previous volume, even in its apparently
irreligious utterances, had been theistic. On the adjuration to tear
the crosses from the graves and use them as swords, follows the line:
"God forgives the deed ye do." But in this new volume we find a poem in
which Feuerbach's praises are sung because he has attacked the doctrine
of immortality, and a Song of the Heathen, which is more daring in its
mockery than any similar poem of Heine's:

   "Die Heiden--'s ist doch Schade um solch Ingenium.
    Sie hiessen Vier gerade und nahmen Fünf für krumm.
    Auch hatt' die Jungfernschaft ein End, sobald die Magd ein Kind gebar,
    Dieweil das neue Testament noch nicht erfunden war."

And, unlike Auersperg, who makes a distinction between the good and
the bad priest, Herwegh holds the whole brotherhood in derision,
mocks at Catholic and Protestant, shorn and unshorn, in the witty,
untranslatable epigram:

   "Ob sie katholisch geschoren, ob protestantisch gescheitelt,
    Gleichviel--immer geräth man den Gesellen in's Haar."

He had pricked before, now he stung; the singer of liberty had
developed into a herald and preparer of the approaching revolution.

If these powerful poems did not greatly move men's minds, it is to
be ascribed to the fact that the deficiencies of Herwegh's personal
character were subtly influencing his verse. They betray themselves
in a certain straining after effect, in his evident satisfaction with
his own witty sallies, and in his intellectual barrenness in every
domain except that of polemics. This second volume of poems is not a
collection which suggests that its author has any store of ideas, of
imagination, to draw upon. When we read it, we understand his life; and
his life helps us to understand this book, with which his career as a
poet practically came to a close. All that he subsequently wrote, and
he lived for thirty-two years longer, is contained in one small volume,
published after his death. The poems of this last collection are full
of wit and full of enthusiasm for liberty; they are written--hardly
four in the year--by a man who to the day of his death remained
faithful to his revolutionary youth.

Though faithful enough to his past, Herwegh was no worker in the
service of liberty. The latter part of his life was spent in idleness.
His career as a poet and critic began in 1839[5] and culminated with
_Gedichte eines Lebendigen_. He married a rich young Jewess, an
enthusiastic admirer of his poetry. After the Revolution of February
he took up the position of a leader in Paris, and invaded Baden at the
head of a body of republican German and French workmen; on the 27th of
April they were defeated by Würtembergian troops; thanks to his wife's
courage, Herwegh escaped. Heine has given a bitingly sarcastic, but
very unfair description of this campaign in _Simplicissimus I._ The
simple, truthful account which Herwegh's wife has published since, of
all the incidents of the revolt, and of the part which her husband
played in it, proves that, even if he lacked the tactical skill which
he laid no claim to possessing, he was a brave man. Herwegh now became
a member of the emigrant colony in London, and lived the emigrants'
perniciously idle life; they had literally nothing to do but concoct
futile plans for new revolutions and fall in love with one another's
wives. He afterwards lived in Paris and Zürich, always the same
inactive life, persistently dissatisfied with the progress of events
in Germany. Like Kinkel and like Moritz Hartmann, Herwegh was unable
to the day of his death (1875) to reconcile himself to the great
development of power attained by Germany at the expense of liberty. He
never relinquished the ideals of his youth; retained a manly admiration
even for Heine, who had held him up to derision.

Being such as he was, it was only natural that Herwegh should from the
very first be on the watch in the matter of his brother poets' fidelity
to their flag and the genuineness of their liberalism. His attacks
on Geibel and Freiligrath have already been noticed. He next turned
upon Anastasius Grün (Auersperg), who had gone to Vienna in hopes of
obtaining the appointment and rank of Chamberlain; his wife, by birth a
Countess Attems, was invested with the Order of the Star of the Cross,
and he wished to be able to accompany her to court. In stirring words
Herwegh entreated him to retrace his steps:

   "Darf man den Tempel um ein Weib entweih'n,
    Mit einem Weib um goldne Götzen tanzen," &c[6]

Dingelstedt retorted, defending Count Auersperg in a pretty poem:

   "O, sie will es nie begreifen, ihre Prosa und Gemeinheit,
    Das ein Geist wie Du, ein Name, bürgt für der Gesinnung Reinheit,
    Nur das Schlechte glaubt sie willig," &c.[7]

The retort evaded the attack instead of repulsing it. No one seriously
believed in a man like Auersperg having changed his convictions; the
ground of Herwegh's attack was that, holding such convictions, he had
solicited a court appointment. It was his own future position that
Dingelstedt defended; he was the next poet upon whom Herwegh turned,
with a satire that was all the fiercer because it was silent, or at
least only indirectly expressed.

Dingelstedt, like Herwegh, had been obliged to leave Germany to escape
the consequences of writing political poems. The two poets met in
Paris. There they one evening amused themselves by trying which could
write the better verses on the subject of his own imaginary political
conversion. Herwegh wrote the poem "Wohlgeboren" the burden of which
is: What is the use of all this talk of liberty and fatherland, of all
this enthusiasm, all this meddling with politics? What good has it done
me? No, no! for the future I will be a quiet, respectable citizen:

   "Du sollst, verdammte Freiheit, mir
      Die Ruhe fürder nicht gefährden;
    Lisette, noch ein Gläschen Bier!
      Ich will ein guter Bürger werden."[8]

This last line forms the refrain of all the verses. To outbid his
friend, Dingelstedt wrote the poem "Hochwohlgeboren," which begins:

   "Ein guter Bürger willst du werden?
      Pfui Freund!--Ein guter, Bürger--Du?
    Das also war dein Ziel auf Erden,
      Dem stürmten deine Lieder zu?
    O nimm's zurück, das ekle Wort,
      Wer mag sich so gemein geberden!
    Nein, nein, mich reisst es weiter fort:
      Ich muss Geheimer Hofrath werden!"[9]

In this poem, too, the last line of the first verse serves as refrain
to all the others.

Two years later Dingelstedt was Privy Councillor, librarian, and reader
at the court of the King of Würtemberg. Herwegh contented himself with
reprinting the two poems side by side.

Franz Dingelstedt (born in 1814) represents one of the most curious
types of the day. He is a revolutionary who ought to have been born
in the purple, a Prince Pückler in the guise of a poor schoolmaster,
a satirist who cannot dispense with appearances, a man of first-rate
abilities with neither serious vices nor serious enthusiasm, but
with ready wit and frequent poetic inspiration; early _blasé_, he
retains a certain practical activity of mind to the last. He was
born in the worst-governed country in Germany, Hesse-Cassel, under
the hated administration of Hassenpflug, became master at one of its
grammar-schools, aroused dissatisfaction by his emancipated opinions
and conduct and the liberal tone of his poetry, was transferred and
perpetually interfered with, and sent in his resignation in 1841, when
he was twenty-seven. Only one year after Herwegh he published his
first collection of political poetry, _Lieder eines kosmopolitischen
Nachtwächters_ ("Songs of a Cosmopolitan Night-Watchman"). Good verse,
clever poems, a good idea. The watchman in his uniform, armed with his
spiked mace, his horn in his hand, goes his nightly round, and, pausing
outside the houses, tells us what he sees and imagines within.

He is a genuine night-watchman--thoroughly weary of the old woman
at home, who is so ugly and so wrinkled, yet with whom he manages
to live peaceably, for she sleeps by night and he by day; a genuine
night-watchman, who sings the watchman's song about lights and fires;
looks up at the prisoners, the political prisoners, peering through the
iron bars and shaking them; shudders as he passes the cathedral with
all its relics, where the wind is howling so loud in the organ pipes;
and then laughs at himself for shuddering. It is twenty years since he
was inside the building, he is none of your seat-holding church-goers.

And yet he is not a genuine night-watchman. He has feelings and
opinions which are not those of a man in his station. In one house a
ball is going on; he listens to the music, and describes the dancing
and the behaviour of the fashionable company. What a sensation it would
create if he, lantern and mace in hand, snow on his cloak and cap, his
cheeks burning and frost on his beard, were suddenly to appear among
all these shadows! Outside another house stands the carriage of the
great, the all-powerful, Minister of State. The coachman is wrapped
in furs, but the poor uncovered horses are trembling with cold whilst
their master is playing cards within--just as if they could not revenge
themselves when he comes:

   "Ich rathe dir, lass die Karten ruhn,
      Und hüte dich fein, Ministerlein!
    Du hast es mit vier Hengsten zu thun,
      Bedenk', dass es keine Bürger sein."[10]

There are many pathetic passages. In one of the suburbs the watchman
passes a house where a poor wretch lies in his last agonies; he passes
the lunatic asylum, and the dread of madness that always seizes him
here is mingled with a strange feeling of attraction; he passes the
cemetery, where his poor father, who took his own life, lies in a
disdained, neglected corner; and on his way back he passes the palace,
where the prince tosses sleeplessly on his pillow of down, while the
sentry sleeps soundly standing in his box.

A night-watchman might easily have had some of these feelings--he would
never have expressed them thus; the mask is perpetually falling off.
There are one or two most masterly and natural expressions of popular
indignation, for example the tirade occasioned by the sight of light in
the sickroom of a cringing courtier whose extortions have impoverished
his country:

  "Warum er nicht schläft? warum er in Wuth die Spitzen am Hemde zerissen?
   Ein gutes Gewissen schläft überall gut, und nirgends ein schlechtes
   Er hat an des Landes Mark, die Schlang', sich voll gefressen, gesogen,
   Er hat--ein Menschenleben lang!--gestohlen, gelogen, betrogen."[11]

But there are also expressions of hatred and exasperation which we
feel belong to another class of society. We actually find the watchman
giving frivolous advice to a beautiful young lady who has been married
to an old reprobate, telling her how she may best revenge herself
upon him. At times his thoughts and reveries take a higher flight.
He is leaning on an old cannon, which stands on the rampart, shining
and dumb. Once its wheels rolled over dead and living on the field of
victory; once it gave the signal for the dread onslaught, for beside
the touch-hole there is an N. surmounted by the imperial crown. Now
its voice is only heard when some wretched prisoner has escaped from
his dungeon, or on the occasion of his Majesty's birthday, or when a
princess is born. "Patience!" cries the watchman to the cannon; "it may
be that ere long thou wilt once more pour thy balls upon the enemy; but
keep silent in the meantime, old veteran, or they will spike thee as
they are gagging us." Here the mask is completely thrown off.

After Dingelstedt had left Hesse-Cassel, he published _Nachtwächters
Weltgang_ ("The Night-Watch man's World Patrol"), in which the poet
is no longer the unsophisticated night-watchman--but the cultivated
revolutionary. He falls foul of bad kings, of the governments of
Hesse-Cassel, Prussia, and Hanover, and of false German patriotism:
"What, gentlemen, is a German patriot?--A man who serves the Lord
on Sunday and the king on week-days. What are the objects of his
desire?--Office, a title, and a ribbon for himself, bread for his
lawful offspring, and legitimate sovereigns for his country.--Away with
you, German patriot! The temple is no place for you! You are a Judas,
whose treacherous kiss has been the death of liberty!"

A few months later Dingelstedt was a Privy Councillor and Councillor
of Legation--held office, had a title, wore a ribbon. Naturally no one
believed in any genuine conversion, and it is not surprising that his
conduct was severely, and in some quarters spitefully, judged. The
numerous documents relating to his character and life which have been
published of late years (especially Julius Rodenberg's articles in the
_Deutsche Rundschau_ of 1889-90) throw a more favourable light upon
his action than that in which his contemporaries saw it. There was a
want of fine feeling about it, it was unseemly, but it was not base.
There was nothing wrong in the actual fact of his accepting the post
of reader to a cultivated and amiable sovereign, the fault lay in his
having so shortly beforehand proclaimed all sorts of democratic and
radical principles which he was not prepared to stand by.

He had the true artist's temperament, and yet was distinctly practical;
he was pleasure-loving and ambitious, unable to bear permanently the
humiliation of being poor and consequently ignored; he was above all
else impressed, strongly impressed, by the belief that in following
the path he had entered upon he was pursuing a _métier de dupe_. What
did he gain by refusing, because of his principles, to accept good
appointments and influential positions! What did the world gain by
clever men on principle leaving titles, money, office, orders, and
posts of honour to the stupid men! Was this the best way to improve
matters? His great desire was to play the sovereign in some domain of
art, to solve great scenic problems, to direct great theatres, to be
the favoured of beautiful women. Was he at all likely to attain it as
the exiled schoolmaster, the correspondent of the _Allgemeine Zeitung?_
Who would permanently hold in esteem the poor, independent journalist?
who would not, in course of time, esteem the influential courtier? Of
course there would be an outcry when he accepted the call--if only he
had not written that wretched poem to Herwegh!--but what was needed was
cool courage, ironical impenetrability, smiling indifference, and the
calm superiority which allows one's opponents to bawl till they are
tired; and these gifts he possessed.

He became, as every one knows, not only a courtier, but in course
of time manager of one court theatre after another--Stuttgart,
Munich, Weimar--ending his career as the influential director of the
Burgtheater in Vienna.

Heine, who was not strict, but witty, wrote the incomparable poem
"Verhofrätherei," which begins:

   "Verschlechtert sich nicht dein Herz und dein Stil,
    So magst du treiben jedwedes Spiel,
    Mein Freund, ich werde dich nie verkennen,
    Und soll ich dich auch Herr Hofrath nennen,"[12]

It expresses a mournful understanding of Dingelstedt's conduct,
and bitter contempt for the public to whom both he and Dingelstedt
addressed themselves.

Any one who desires to get a distinct and correct idea of Dingelstedt's
intellectual personality should compare the clever, graphic account of
his life, entitled _Münchener Bilderbuch_, with his own cyclus of poems
entitled _Ein Roman_. These poems show us far more of his inmost nature
than the verses of his early youth. But he had early experienced the
mingled feeling of attraction to the great world and contempt for it.
In the poem "Krähwinkel," he wrote of fashionable society:

   "Sie lügen, sie krakehlen, sie hassen sich bis auf's Blut,
    Zum Morden oder Stehlen fehlt ihnen nur der Muth.
    Sie möchten gern und wagen's nicht, das heisst denn Recht und Pflicht;
    Die denken können, sagen's nicht. Die Meisten denken nicht."[13]

Now he tells the story of a society amour. In England, at a ball, the
poet meets a lady of Hindoo blood, but English in every other respect.
She is spiritually akin to himself, gloomy and cold and weary of life.
They fall in love:

   "Wir klammerten uns, ob aus Zeitvertreib,
    Ob aus Verzweiflung, an einander an,
    Sie, ein verlornes, neugebornes Weib,
    Ich, ein verlorner, neugeborner Mann."[14]

The word "Zeitvertreib" (pastime) is a little too weak, the word
"Verzweiflung" (despair) is a shade too strong. There is German
puerility in this insistence upon fashionable frivolity and blank
despair. So much is certain; the two fall in love. We have plenty of
passion, hot and wild--more of sensuality in it than love, voluptuous
nights, secret pleasures, and coldly cynical front shown to the
world; then separation, farewell, and oblivion; until one day in a
conservatory in Amsterdam the decaying smell of a dead lotus-plant
makes him feel faint. He is reminded of her, and presses one of the
dead leaves to his lips as if it were the hand of a corpse.

Such characters as Dingelstedt significantly illustrate their age, they
do not create it. They are not the builders of the palace, they are its
gilders. No doubt the work of the gilder first attracts the eye, and
attracts far more eyes than the work of the builder, who in laying the
foundation of the palace determines its whole construction; but there
is also no doubt as to whose work is of the more importance.

These pleasure-loving poets, often disillusioned so young, with
no principles except the political convictions of which they sing
and boast, and to which they generally prove unfaithful, are of
social importance from the fact that they create the opinion of the
moment, general political opinion, and thereby accelerate the slow
reorganisation of society. But this outward reorganisation is not
itself the principal matter; political opinion is not the prime mover.
The outward revolution is a result of movements going on much deeper
below the surface. Perhaps the most powerful impulse is given by
philosophy with its quiet revolutionising of the religious view of life.

In this domain of philosophic agitation there appeared in the summer
of 1841 (the year in which Dingelstedt's first book was published, the
year following the publication of Herwegh's first) an epoch-making
thinker. In the work entitled _Das Wesen des Christenthums_ ("The
Nature of Christianity") he formulates great thoughts, founds and
expounds a philosophy of life which makes its influence felt in the
spoken and written words of all who come after him, all at least
whose minds attain their fullest development. Ludwig Feuerbach is the
foundation-stone upon which for the next twenty years every one builds,
everything is built.

When I say of him that he was great, a great man and a great thinker,
I myself resent the platitude. Great is a term which we hear so
constantly applied to this, that, and the other thing, that we
have come to be unaffected by it. There is not even any very keen
appreciation among us of the quality of greatness. The sense for it
is deadened by the cold, clammy manner in which the intellectually
great are handled by those who write learned treatises on their
work. Take up a history of philosophy, and you will find them all
arranged and labelled, one looking exactly like the other. There
they stand in a row, all treated with the same respect, and regarded
with the same interest--Schelling, who was a genius and a charlatan;
Trendelenburg, who accepted his appointment from Eichhorn and improved
his opportunities after the death of Altenstein; Strauss, who was a
second-rate thinker, and a bit of a pedant; Karl Vogt, who was a gifted
gourmand; Lotze, who was an excellent professor of philosophy, but
nothing more; and amongst the rest Feuerbach, one of a list, possibly
labelled as inferior, onesided men, calling themselves ideal realists
or something of the sort. The effect is demoralising.

He was great. This means that there is a wide, open space round him on
every side. It means that if we would understand him, we must separate
him clearly in our minds from all those men, all those facts that
jostle him in lesson-books and hand-books. That he was great means,
that he is altogether upon another level. The moment we catch sight of
him as he stands there alone, reverence takes possession of us.

Simply natural as he was in intercourse with friends, there was yet
something awe-inspiring about the man. Look at that face, in every
feature of which there is genius and character--obstinate, energetic
character. There is character in the mighty brow, in the small eyes,
in the big, fan-shaped beard. There is power in it all, power and
nobility, and manly beauty, stern as though cast in bronze.

Himself a genius, he belongs to a notably talented family; the father
one of the most distinguished criminal jurists of Germany; brother,
sister, nephew, all gifted. He is born at Landshut in 1804; studies at
Heidelberg; turns his attention to theology, first from the orthodox,
afterwards from the critical standpoint; then to philosophy, first
abstract, afterwards realistic, ever more realistic. He publishes
his _Gedanken über Tod und Unsterblichkeit_ ("Thoughts on Death and
Immortality") anonymously. The book is at first confiscated, but
subsequently allowed to circulate. After it becomes known that he
is the author, he applies in vain for professional appointments at
several of the South German universities, and similar attempts made
somewhat later in Berlin, France, Switzerland, and Greece prove equally
fruitless, in spite of the support of noted savants. From 1836 onwards
he lives a retired life in the country--till 1860 at Brückberg, near
Ansbach, afterwards at Rechenberg, near Nuremberg. In his later years
it is the life of a hermit. He corresponds with friends of his own
class and stamp, and also with men of the people (such as Konrad
Deubler of the Salzkammergut), who sometimes understand his writings
better and feel them more deeply than the so-called cultivated class.
In 1837 he married the love of his youth. It was not without influence
on his life that, in the beginning of the Forties, a young girl,
daughter of one of his friends, was for a time passionately attached to
him, an attachment which he returned.

His only course of lectures was delivered in 1848, at Heidelberg, but
not at the university; there he was dreaded and shunned. In 1842 his
friends had tried to get him appointed professor at Heidelberg; he at
first took kindly to their plan, but afterwards frantically opposed
it. "To try to make me a professor and that, too, in the ordinary
way, the way in which any blockhead can be made one ... is to place
me on a level with the fools that are posing as professors now, is
to insult, to disgrace me.... The professor's desk is no place for a
man with a head like mine. Do you know the proper place for my head?
Guess! The block: for my brain is as keen and as peremptory as the
executioner's sword, and I have no desire, no courage to do any deeds
but those for which men risk the loss of their heads."[15] His friend
had been advising him rather to call his work _Wesen der Théologie_
than _Wesen des Christenthums_. He answers: "I take no interest
whatever in the overturning of theology. I concern myself only with
great world-entities (welthistorische Wesen).... One must deal a mortal
blow, must deny on principle. To act means to take life--with the
determination, if necessary, to give one's own life in return."

This is more resolute language than the poets used; these views are
very different from theirs. Saint-René Taillandier animadverted on
the fact that Feuerbach, holding such views, did not take part in the
revolutionary movement of 1848. Feuerbach answered: "M. Taillandier!
When another revolution breaks out and I take part in it, know, to the
dismay of your godly soul, that that revolution will be victorious;
the last day of the monarchy and the hierarchy will have come. Alas!
I shall not live to take part in that revolution. But I am playing an
active part in another great and victorious one, the results of which
will not be evident till centuries have come and gone. For, according
to my philosophy--which you know nothing about and presume to judge
without having studied--according to my philosophy, which ignores gods,
and, consequently, miracles wrought by means of political measures,
space and time are necessary conditions of all being, all thought,
and all action. It was not, as has been asserted in the Bavarian
Reichsrathskammer, because the Parliament of Frankfort consisted of
unbelievers that it was such a complete and shameful failure; as
a matter of fact the majority of its members were believers--and
surely God, too, respects a majority; it was a failure because it was
destitute of the sense of place and time."[16]

Notwithstanding the number of different stages through which Feuerbach
passed in his progress towards realism, notwithstanding all that can
with justice be said of the diversity of the positions he took up, his
ground-thought, the key-stone of the vaulting upon which the whole
rests, is as simple as it is great. It is this: Man cannot be conscious
of a being that is higher than himself. If it were possible for man
to be conscious of himself--that is, his being or nature--as finite,
compared with another being apprehended as infinite, he would by this
consciousness limit his own being, _i.e._ deny it. His consciousness
would extend beyond the limits of his being, which is impossible, for
consciousness is simply the self-affirmation of being.

Instead, therefore, of saying with Hegel: Man's consciousness of God is
God's self-consciousness, we are compelled to say: Man's consciousness
of God is man's self-consciousness; religion is man's first and
indirect self-knowledge.

It is universally acknowledged that the idea, God, can only be
formulated by the aid of human predicates--God is love, God is
goodness, knowledge, power, &c. The subject here is nothing but the
personified predicate. The predicate is the original. What religion
really means is this: Love is divine, _i.e._ of absolute worth,
deserving of adoration; goodness, knowledge, power are divine.

Hence belief in a God is belief in man as the essential being.

The apparent axiom of religion is: I am nothing, measured with God; its
real axiom is: Everything else is nothing measured with me; everything
serves my purposes. By means of prayers and miracles, with God as
intermediary, I have everything at my disposal. God is the creation
of man's desire. The main desire of Christianity being unlimited
happiness, bliss, God is the means whereby bliss is attained, or, more
correctly, bliss and God are one.

In a word; theology is anthropology, the theological problem is a
psychological problem--which Feuerbach has solved in all essentials for
all time.

Viewed thus, his life-work is seen in its unity. Though it is not
possible to express the whole in a few words, yet it is easy to feel
that it is one single great thought, for which humanity is his debtor.

When a young man stands in the Pantheon in Rome, lost in admiration of
its dome, the most beautiful in the world, his most natural thought
is: O, like the builder of this temple, to have, were it but once in
one's life, an idea, simple and great as that which produced this
cupola--to conceive some single fundamental principle, some simple
and yet composite formula, capable of expansion to a whole scheme, of
dimensions as grand as this firmament in miniature! One such thought,
simple in its beginning, stupendous in its development, would give
greatness enough to any human life.

Feuerbach's was one of these fundamental thoughts.

[1] Sound the trumpet, herald of war! To arms! To arms! War to the
death with the wicked horde of stupid, hypocritical priests!

[2] Fifty years ago our parents declared war against the fat and flabby
priest; we, their children and grandchildren, have, like them, taken
up arms against the cloth; but our cry is: Death to the lean and lanky

[3] 'Tis the lark, not the nightingale, that sings so clear; the great
sun-ball is rising fast, borne by the winds of the morning. It is day!
it is day! The night will end in blood. Awake, all ye who believe in
the light eternal! Tear the rose-wreaths of love from your heads, and
gird yourselves with swords of flame!


   'Tis not the fault of the Kings--_they_ are all lovers of freedom;
    But their misfortune is this: Freedom has no love for them.

[5] His youthful writings are collected in _Gedichte und kritische
Aufsätze_, 1845, 2 vols.

[6] Would you desecrate the temple for the sake of a woman, dance with
her before golden idols, &c.

[7] Prosaic vulgar-mindedness cannot, will not, understand that thy
name, a mind like thine, is a security for integrity of purpose; it is
ready to believe only what is bad, &c.

[8] No longer, damned Liberty, shalt thou disturb my peace of mind.
Lisette! another glass of beer! For the future I'm a respectable

[9] A respectable citizen! You an ordinary respectable citizen! Shame
on you, my friend I Was this your aim in life? Is this the end of
all your passionate song? Take back the offensive word, I pray; just
imagine displaying such vulgar-mindedness! Mine is a nobler ambition: I
am determined to be a Privy Councillor!

[10] My advice to you is to drop the cards and look out for yourself,
O minister! Remember that you have to do with four stallions, not four

[11] You ask me why he lies sleepless? why in his rage he tears the
lace from his pillow? A good conscience sleeps well everywhere, a bad
conscience nowhere. He has sucked the blood of his country, gorged
himself with its substance; during a whole long life he has stolen and
lied and deceived.


    If heart and style remain still true,
    I'll not object, whatever you do.
    My friend, I never will mistake you,
    E'en though a Councillor they make you.

[13] They lie, they squabble, they hate one another with a deadly
hatred; it is only want of courage that keeps them from robbing and
murdering. They dare not do the things they long to do, and so they
talk much about right and duty. Those that think keep their thoughts to
themselves; most of them do not think.

[14] We clung to each other-was it to pass the time, or was it in
despair? she a lost, new-born woman, I a lost, new-born man.

[15] _Briefwechsel zwischen Feuerbach und Christian Kapp_, 1876, p, 176.

[16] _Wesen der Religion_, p. vii.



The profoundest characteristic of that literature which in the Forties
still continued to be known by the name of _Bewegungslitteratur_, is
its utter want of connection with official Germany. It is the absence
of any such connection that gives it its strength and its freshness.
Official Germany is not to be taken here in the narrow sense of
German officialdom; it means all that part of the people--German or
any other--which in normal circumstances appears to be the whole
people, and as such sets the stamp of nationality on all that is
produced by that people, the same stamp which it has set on all that
has emanated from it in the past. With what a later period has called
_Bildungsphilisterei_ (cultured philistinism), the most eminent
literary men of the period in question have no connection whatever.
There is no corresponding group of personalities and writings in
Scandinavian literature. Even the Radical poetry of the Scandinavian
students became official in the course of a very few years. The
most gifted of the German poets of the day are independent, or make
themselves independent, of official Germany, and bear like men the
consequences of the position they take up.

Among those who declare their independence, the most interesting figure
is Freiligrath, born in Detmold in 1810. Fair, blue-eyed, massively
built, and shaggy-maned, he is the true son of Westphalia. His father,
a schoolmaster, educated him against his will as a merchant, and to his
commercial education and pursuits are to be ascribed his freedom from
classical reminiscences, his exclusively modern literary culture, his
understanding of the foreign climes and countries with which commerce
brings us into communication, and his distinctly modern turn of thought.

Freiligrath is not, like Hoffmann von Fallersleben, his predecessor
in the field of political poetry, only a prolific song writer; he is
a genuine, inspired poet. Hoffmann, who had made a study of the old
German songs and ballads, and was himself a man of simple, popular
tastes, poured forth an inexhaustible stream of polemical verse,
directed against the squirearchy and bureaucracy, but he repeated
himself with the monotony of the popular poet. Freiligrath wrote
comparatively little, but every one of his poems has its distinct
individuality. He is influenced by that modern French and English
poetry of which he has given us so many admirable translations, and
makes his debut as a descriptive poet of the Victor Hugo school, but
soon develops a distinct literary individuality. He possesses in a very
high degree two qualities which are seldom found united, the faculty
of picturesque description and intensity of feeling. The former leads
him to depict themes from foreign lands, full of glowing colour, the
latter displays itself when he sings of home and fatherland. In his
revolutionary period his warm feeling became powerful pathos, and his
gift of graphic delineation was exclusively devoted to the service of
hostility and ire.

In his youth, in Amsterdam (1831), the sea and the shipping made a
deep impression on him. In his dreams he followed all the vessels that
glided out of the harbour bound for Africa, for India, for Turkey, for
America. He was seized by the desire to describe these foreign climes
as they appeared in his imagination, and Hugo's _Les Orientales_ not
only suggested the colours to be employed in the treatment of such
themes, but also the metrical form. Freiligrath alone among German
poets tried to master the alexandrines beloved of Frenchmen, despised
in Germany, and to vindicate their beauty. Strangely enough, in
spite of his usually correct ear, he so entirely misapprehended the
peculiarity of this metre that he always writes it in pure iambics, a
practice which Germans have continued.

He was possessed by the longing to roam--out into the wide world,
across the great ocean. Instead of German "garret poetry," he wrote,
in his garret, scenes laid in the deserts of Africa and the primeval
forests of America. He attempted tropical local colouring, which was
at times successful, at times unnatural; his linguistic specialty was
new and remarkable rhymes, produced with the assistance of resonant
foreign words like "Sykomore," "Tricolore," &c. His good verses were
like living, his bad, in their lifeless splendour, like stuffed

But this African Freiligrath is not the best Freiligrath. Freiligrath,
the Liberal patriot, is greatly his superior. After Herwegh's political
challenge had roused him, he took himself to task, tested with
simple-minded fairness those sympathies and tendencies of his nature
as to which he himself was not yet absolutely clear, and discovered
in the depths of his being an unquenchable desire for liberty and
a sympathy with the oppressed which on occasion could develop into
burning indignation and hatred. His genius chose the revolutionary
path, pursued it at full speed, and finally spread its wings and
flew. _Marseillaise_ after _Marseillaise_ came from the poet's pen.
O these hymns of 1848! they are enthusiasm itself, the enthusiasm that
begets enthusiasm. In the earlier ones we have fierceness, faith,
revolutionary piety, fiery sarcasm, the intoxicated jubilation of
victory; in the later, noble despair, sublime in its expression.

But the poems which anticipate the Revolution and incite to it are
also worth reading. Take, for instance, the volume entitled _Ça
ira_, published in 1846. In each of the poems of which it consists a
symbolical picture is graphically elaborated. In the first, a ship
is setting sail; her name is Revolution, she is the black fire-ship
that sends her rockets aboard that hypocritical craft, the Church,
and then points her guns at the silver fleet of Wealth. In another
we have a symbolical idea borrowed from Thomas Moore: the ice-palace
of despotism, which will crack, and break up, and melt away as soon
as spring comes. In _Wie man's macht_ ("How the Thing is Done") the
poet describes the storming of the arsenal of a capital with such
infectious ardour, so dramatically and vividly, that we see it all,
are ourselves in the thick of the fray. As the Revolution which he
foresees draws nearer and nearer, his poetry becomes more and more up
to date. He describes a Rhine steamer, which has the King and Queen
of Prussia on board. The steamer is a picture of German society. The
company on deck are enjoying the fresh air, the bright sunshine, the
beautiful scenery of the Rhine; but down below in the engine-room stand
the proletariat, in the shape of engineer and stoker, masters of the
volcano that drives the ship onwards. One push, one blow from them, and
the whole edifice of which the king is the crown, collapses; the deck
is blown to fragments, the flames mount to the clouds--but not yet,
thou angry element, not to-day! In such a poem as _Freie Presse_ the
course of events is anticipated: the insurrection is on the point of
breaking out; one day more, and there will be fighting in the streets.
Ammunition being short, the owner of the printing works orders his
workmen to melt down all the alphabets. And presently the hissing,
glowing mass is flowing into the bullet moulds. The times are such that
only in the form of bullets can the types emancipate humanity.

The days of Young Germany were over, but now it seemed as if Germany
herself had grown young.

Robert Prutz (born in 1816 at Stettin) received that classical
education which had been denied to Freiligrath. A critical student
of philosophy and history, he wrote upon many subjects, but it is
only as a political poet that he has any abiding significance. He was
one of the young men who ardently vented their opinions in Ruge's
_Hallische Jahrbücher_, the result in his case being banishment. He
is the Feuerbachian as poet. His political poetry, from the absolute
directness with which it follows its aim, is apt to be somewhat dry and
unimaginative, but his sober and yet warm love of liberty attracts us.
If you once learn to like him, it will be a thorough liking; you will
even highly prize his latest collection of poems, _Aus der Heimath_, a
book which has been foolishly condemned as sensual; it cannot be denied
that he showed bad taste in dedicating it to his wife.

In his best work, a little Aristophanic masterpiece entitled _Die
politische Wochenstube_ ("The Political Lying-in Room"), Zürich,
1843, Prutz, Holberg's warmest German admirer,[1] has succeeded in
epitomising the wit, the irony, the endeavour, and the hopes of the
younger generation.

It was only natural that a poet with Prutz's classical training
should adopt the Aristophanic method, the pity was that he followed
it too closely. His play became in consequence a jewel of price for
a select circle of readers instead of food for the multitude. It is
the production of a young, hopeful dreamer, whose faith in a glorious
future for Germany was quite as lively and as strong as the pleasure he
felt in demolishing with his sarcasm what was decrepit and decayed; the
burlesque figures and conceits stand out against an idealistic golden
background because the poet sees the sun of the future rising and
shining behind them.

The action passes partly in, partly outside of the house of a doctor
who keeps a kind of private lying-in hospital, where young ladies of
the upper classes at times take refuge. Of late his business has not
thriven. It had flourished when Pietism flourished in Königsberg; much
pious embracing had gone on then, which, with God's blessing, had
borne fruit; but now that the State Church has set itself to suppress
Pietism, his wards stand empty. He will soon be driven to apply for a
post on the staff of the Prussian official newspaper; those who are
fit for nothing else can always earn their bread in its service. The
Doctor's servant, Kilian, who is famishing, asks for food. The Doctor
advises him to have his stomach removed, takes out his knife to do the
operation, tells him that he will never feel hungry again, and that he
will confer an inestimable benefit on humanity if he can show himself
as a living proof that the operation is possible. For what is the rock
on which virtue splits nowadays? Why did Freiligrath take a pension?
Why did Dingelstedt allow himself to be branded. The stomach, and
nothing but the stomach is to blame for everything.

In the meantime Herr Schlaukopf (Mr. Sly) has come on the scene,
disguised as a beggar. He declaims some patriotic sentiment, in the
style of the Niebelungenlied, on the subject of Hermann the Cheruscan,
and then asks for a contribution for the statue of that national hero.
The Doctor is incautious enough to call the statue a scarecrow, a
hideous sentry brandishing a spit, on which Schlaukopf declares that he
shall pay for these words by at least twelve years' imprisonment with
hard labour. They fight, the Doctor pulls off Schlaukopfs false nose,
and thereupon recognises in him the friend of his youth, the quondam
socialist, singer of liberty, republican, and regicide, now advanced to
the post of "Wirklicher-geheimer-königlicher Leibspion" (Real Private
Royal Body-spy). They fall into each other's arms, and Schlaukopf tells
his errand, but not till he has assured himself that the Doctor holds
no awkward or seditious political beliefs. The Doctor, recognising the
importance of the man with whom he has to do, falls on his knees and
swears that he believes nothing except that crown-pieces are round.
Then Schlaukopf divulges the secret: "Germany, our mother-country, the
Germany of Frederick and of Luther, the fair-haired queen, is with

The Doctor is at first incredulous. Is it not dropsy, the result
of all the water-drinking introduced by these new total abstinence
associations? No, she is pregnant, and the only surprising thing about
it is that the fact has not been announced in the newspapers, which
usually inform the public when queens and princesses are in that
condition. And now Schlaukopf communicates the joyful intelligence that
the Doctor, as an experienced accoucheur, has been chosen to attend
Germania; he, and no other, is to deliver her. The Doctor dances for
joy, demands that he shall be rewarded with perquisites and an order,
requests Schlaukopf to bring the lady--but see, she comes!

Slaves, who represent the enthralled people, bear her in in a golden
chair. She is fair, with a fat, amiable face, a wide mouth, and eyes
of watery blue. All salute and do homage to her as Germania. But from
a confidential conversation between her and Schlaukopf we learn that
she is not the person she gives herself out to be. He asks her if she
is really pregnant; she replies that he ought to know best, he and the
others whom he has introduced to her. It seems that he has taken her
from the street and trained her to play her part. She is the official
Germania--and she has done everything that her artful masters have
ordered her to do, has bowed, and knelt, and pattered prayers at
command. And now, at command, she is pregnant. Schlaukopf abuses her,
and threatens to beat her; she taunts him and threatens in return to
run away and leave him to find another Germania where he best can.

Meanwhile in the darkness of night a stranger has appeared in the
street in front of the house, a woman with a harassed, hunted look,
who declares that she knows not where to lay her outlawed head. "I,"
she says, "the legitimate queen, must, like a common vagrant, hide my
royal head in the darkness of night, whilst she who has been exalted in
my stead and impudently allows herself to be called by my name, sleeps
voluptuously on silken pillows. Ye stones, be my pillow! For my people,
like their queen, have to lie on stone."

Through the night comes a cry, "Germania!" The woman in the house
and the woman on the street answer at the same moment. Wrangling and
confusion ensue, the gendarmes arrive, and an attempt is made to
discover which of the two has taken a name that does not belong to
her. "Not I!" cries the stranger to Schlaukopf. She maintains that he
has stolen her name and decked his brazen-faced paramour with it, and
concludes: "Shame on you both! I alone am the real, the true Germania!"
Kilian finds it impossible to believe that any one so slender and
emaciated can be Germania, but the serfs are thrilled to the heart by
the sweet sound of her voice. The diplomatic Schlaukopf alone keeps his

   "Allein, so thut ein wenig nur die Augen auf,
    Zu sehen braucht Ihr diese da und jene nur,
    So ist's ja klärlicb, welche hier die Rechte sei:
    In Lumpen jene, diese jedoch im seidnen Rock;
    Die abgemagert, hungerbleich, ein Schattenbild,
    Verbannt zu Bettlern, selber eine Bettlerin;
    Höchst stattlich diese, wohlgenährt, anmuthiglich,
    In hoher Herren ehrender Festgenossenschaft,
    Ja selbst gesegneten Leibes ist, wie Ihr seht."[2]

To this comparison between her rival's magnificence and her own poverty
the stranger answers with dignity:

   "Wohl spotte mein! In meine Wunde lege du
    Die blutbefleckten, diebsgewandten Finger mir!
    Auf meine Lumpen speie du, und rühme dich
    Weil ich ein armes, heimathlos vertriebnes Weib;
    Du weisst am besten, wessen Hand mein Blut vergoss,
    Und wer vom Haupt die Krone mir gerissen hat.
        . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Ihr bautest du Paläste, mir Gefängnisse.
    Ihr schmeichelten deine Schergen, mich verfolgten sie--
    Dir aber sag ich, Schattenkönigin, o du,
    Die du mit Zittern meines Namens dich erfrechst:
    Hinweg! verbirg dich! Räume du den Platz, der mir
    Allein gebührt! Denn eure Herrscherin bin ich."[3]

And the serfs bend low in homage to the woman who comes, not in regal
purple, but in rags like their own, saying to each other: "May not this
be the long-looked-for redresser of our wrongs, she who is to break our
yoke asunder and awaken the sleeping world with the lightning flash of

But now the two women are called upon to prove their respective claims.
Schlaukopf exclaims: "It is the legitimist principle we are called on
to defend!" and proceeds to prompt official Germania. That fat, fair
lady, who boasts that she bears the future of Germany in her womb and
claims in consequence to be treated with consideration and reverence,
repeats a long rigmarole, supposed to be the story of her life: In the
gray of eld she lay on bear-skins in the forest, drinking foaming mead
and eating beech-nuts and acorns. "Beech-nuts and acorns!" cry the
Doctor, Kilian, and Schlaukopf. "It is she." Then she tells how she
was sent to school to the priests, had her nose flattened against the
crucifix, became _christlich-germanisch_, endowed monasteries, built
churches, kissed the Pope's toe, &c, &c., and once more the Doctor,
Kilian, and Schlaukopf cry: "It is she!" She tells what a peaceable,
governable disposition she developed, how she allowed any one that
liked to box her ears, how her loyalty has now reached such a pitch
that if her master but whistle, she comes, stands on her hind legs,
fetches the stick--"In a word, I am a well-trained poodle." And again
we hear the jubilant chorus: "It is she!" She concludes: "God and the
king willing, I shall be in the future what I have been in the past. By
government order I am now, as you see, with child. O gendarmes, take
my part! Recognise me as the one, true, Germania, as the thoroughbred
German, and be assured that in return I will bring up my son as a

The gendarmes are of opinion that she has made out a good case, and
Schlaukopf is beginning to boast that the vagrant has been silenced,
when she in turn lifts up her voice. She does not understand the art
of self-praise, she says, nor has she much to praise herself for; the
future will show what she is. "I cannot deny," she continues, "that she
who stands there is a Germania; she is official Germany, the Germany
of the Government, of the Federal Diet; but the Germany of the German
people she is not; they do not know her, they do not care a straw for
her rotten genealogical tree. If you would know which is the true
Germania, ask these fettered serfs!" At this moment the other Germania
is seized with violent pains. She suddenly explodes with a loud report
and disappears in a cloud of smoke, which, as it gradually disperses,
takes the shape of pilgrim monks, of romantic poets who sing the
praises of the holy Middle Ages, of geese who lament that the Order
of the Swan is not yet instituted, of moderate Liberals singing the

   "Immer langsam voran, immer langsam voran!
    Dass der preussische Fortschritt nachkommen kann!"[4]

Then the serfs break their chains, cast themselves on the ground before
the poor stranger, and do homage to her as the true Germania, who is
still a virgin, but who one day will give birth to the ruler of the

The emblematical picture is a very fine, powerful one, and moreover
it is true. The German Empire of to-day is not the offspring of the
oppressed, divided Germany that was then extolled as pregnant with
future greatness; it is the outcome of the much-despised, the harshly
suppressed endeavours after liberty and unity. It is a mistake,
however, to have represented the true Germania with no past, with all
her power and glory in the future; though such a break of historical
continuity did not in those days seem the impossibility that it does in

One of the truths proclaimed by this Radical polemical poem admits of
no controversion, namely, that the official fatherland, the official
country, everywhere lays claim to all that the genius of the people
in times past has produced, to all their great men, even those whose
lives were one constant rebellion against it. It banished, imprisoned,
executed them--no matter; now it wears their portraits next its heart.
And the official fatherland claims, and always has claimed, to bear the
future in its womb. It not only maintains that the present existence
of all and of everything is inseparably bound up with its existence,
but that it is pregnant with the new age and is consequently entitled
to receive the respectful care that is the due of a pregnant queen.
For the thinking men of any people there is, besides this fatherland,
another, one that is not recognised, that is often disowned. It does
not deck itself with the national colours; for it the national song
is not sung. It exists wherever people feel and act in the spirit
that has been the spirit of the best of the country's sons. It has
the allegiance of all the thinking youth. Those of low degree have
more part and lot in it than those in place and power. To it alone the
future belongs.

[1] The name of one of Holberg's best known comedies is _The Lying-in
Room_ ("Barselstuen").

[2] To know which is the true Germania, you need but use your eyes.
Look first at one and then the other. Is not the one in rags, the other
clad in silk? the one starving and pale, a mere shadow, driven to house
with beggars, herself a beggar; the other stately, plump, and pleasant
to the sight, consorting with right honourable gentlemen; with child
moreover, as you plainly see?

[3] Yes, mock at me! Put your pilfering, blood-stained fingers into
my wounds! Spit on my rags, and proclaim me to be a poor, banished,
homeless woman. You know best whose hand shed my blood and tore the
crown from my head.... For her you built palaces, for me prisons. Your
menials flattered her, me they persecuted. And you, trembling phantom
queen, who have the effrontery to call yourself by my name, away! hide
yourself! make room for the rightful sovereign! make room for me!


    Slowly onward, slowly onward in the race!
    That Prussian progress may be able to keep pace!



There were real poets, aspiring spirits, who did not follow the general
trend of literature at this period. There were men like Eduard Mörike
(born in 1804), the last scion of the Swabian School, who broke the
bounds of its narrow tradition, and in his lyric verse may rather be
regarded as an offshoot of the Goethe stem--a genuinely gifted poet,
the idyllic, arch, melancholy singer of the inner life, author of the
immortal poem, _Denk es, O Seele!_ And there were men like Otto Ludwig,
the Thuringian, and Friedrich Hebbel, the Ditmarschian, the two most
robust originals in modern German literature, who were both born in
1813, and both developed their very dissimilar peculiarities after
1848--two gnarled, leafy oaks standing without the forest's bounds.
The only mark of the period in which they were youths is the peculiar
defiant gloom which lies deep down in both natures. Specially their
own is a kind of melancholy keen-sightedness, inclining towards bold
realism. They are the heralds of the realism of a later, unpolitical
age. But they have not the characteristic common to all the political
poets of their own age--sunny enthusiasm, a natural bias towards public
life, towards the radical reform, or, if necessary, the complete
revolution of society.

This bias, in combination with the philosophic lucidity due to the
influence of Hegel and Feuerbach, is perhaps most remarkably observable
in an author whose writings are, undeservedly, beginning to be
somewhat neglected nowadays, an author who, dying at the early age
of thirty-one, did not live to see the Revolution of March. This is
Friedrich von Sallet, a young German officer of extraordinary strength
of character, whose solid, comprehensive culture was due to his own
unaided efforts. In him the profound thought of his age is united with
its extreme, passionate Liberalism. After his dismissal from the army
in 1831, he devoted himself entirely to literature.

His best known work is his _Laien-Evangelium_, a kind of devotional
book for free-thinkers, a series of poems in which he gives a
symbolical modern interpretation to the various events of the Gospels.
He begins each poem with some story or lesson from the Bible, and then
proceeds to show the living, eternal kernel in it, and to cast away the
historical or mythical husks. The interpretations are at times rather
far-fetched, and the employment of but one metre throughout the whole
book undeniably tends to monotony. In its general conception the work
reminds us of another, older book, Leopold Schefer's _Laien-Brevier_;
but the contrast is great between Schefer's comfortable satisfaction
with the divine government of the universe, and Sallet's impatient
inclination to interfere with the natural course of events. We are also
slightly reminded of Rückert's _Weisheit der Bramanen_; but Sallet's
wisdom is a wrathful wisdom, no peaceful collection of golden rules of
life like Rückert's, but fiery denunciation of deceit and stupidity.
In his introductory poem Sallet compares those who had written
Oriental poetry before him to the Kings of the East, who offered gold,
frankincense, and myrrh to the Light of the world, and then fell back
again into their Oriental dream-life. Now, he says, light is once more
dawning, thought is once more rousing from their slumber both East and
West. In his eager advocacy of his ideals, he is too indifferent to
colouring, too Western; his book is spoiled by its too modern, directly
didactic tone.

The collection of poems known as _Gedichte_ is a much finer one. Here
again the political poems are the most important.

He describes a sleeping giant, on whose head and breast foolish dwarfs
are disporting themselves. They sit on chairs in his open mouth and
pay compliments to each other; spread their tables and dine upon his
stomach; declare that it is his duty to sleep--if he does not, they
will punish him with pin-pricks. They believe that God has created the
great giant solely that they may disport themselves merrily on the top
of him, the truth being that if he were to awake and rise there would
be an end of them. The poet himself is tickling the giant's nose with
his paper in hopes that he will perhaps sneeze; that alone would play
the deuce with them. He cries: "Awake and see how they are daring to
behave; it will be an easy matter for you to drive them away." And he
concludes: "I know perfectly well what the giant's name is, but I have
my reasons for not divulging it."

In another poem, _Ecce Homo_, instead of appealing to the people
as a people, he appeals to man as man: "There stands the old, grey
cathedral, and there the old, fortified royal castle, looking down on
wandering humanity passing beneath them, one generation after another.
Song is heard from the one, fealty is sworn in the other, from century
to century; we seem, in comparison with them, but insects of a day. And
therefore fools preach veneration for these houses of cards. For what
are they but card-castles, built for himself by man in his childhood!
He built them, and he can knock them down, and build others in their
stead. Heaven and earth are but soft clay, which man can mould as he

At times Sallet writes in a lighter, more playful tone: "What is the
name of the old man to whom people everywhere, but these good Germans
in particular, are devoted, though he has never done anything worth
doing? He stands in the pulpit, he drills the soldiers, he administers
justice, he lectures at the universities, and his voice carries weight
in the councils of the State. Taking a hundred steps to do what could
be done with one jump is called in his language 'the good old ways and
customs'; this is what he approves of, but if you produce anything
original and great, his wrath is aroused and he scolds and storms
till men begin to be afraid of you. He is wanting both in brains and
backbone, the old gentleman, and yet he rules almost absolutely, and to
oppose him successfully one would need to be as strong as a lion. There
is no reason for concealing his name; it is Old Routine."

Among the _Gedichte_ are also clever parodies, such as the one in which
the poet attacks the censor, by whom he was perpetually worried:

   "Kennst Du das Land, wo Knut und Kantschu blühn,
    Den Steiss von Zarenliebe machend glühn,
    Wo man das Zeitungsblatt schwarz überstreicht,
    Dass preussisch' Landtagsgift in's Volk nicht schleicht,
    Kennst du es wohl? Dahin, dahin,
    Möcht' ich mit dir, geliebter Censor, fliehn."

He is even more wroth with the cowardly prophet than with the censor:
"Ever so slight a blow with your hand," he says, "and the mummy falls
to pieces, once it has been brought up from the airless subterranean
halls to the light of day; it will stand intact so long as no hand is
raised against it." He is furious with those who declare that things
will happen of themselves, that historical evolution, &c, will bring
them about. Nothing irritates him so much as to hear people say: "A
change _must_ come; things _cannot_ go on as they are doing." "Since
the beginning of the world," he says, "nothing has ever happened of

He could not, on account of the censorship, attack monarchy directly,
but he gives us, in excellent verse, the parable of the bear. Much in
the same manner as wolves are kept in the Capitol in Rome, the bear is
kept in Berne as the emblem of the city. On this practice Sallet founds
his fable: "The people of the Canton of Berne in days of old kept a
bear. They let him live on the fat of the land, but they took good care
to keep his claws cut in case he should take it into his head to tear
them to pieces. When asked to explain what good the bear did them, they
answered with surprise: 'Explain! Why, what should he do! He eats his
fill, he moves about majestically, he growls--he is our bear, and that
is enough.' If questioned as to why they kept him, they gave answer:
'Because our fathers did. If the race were to die out, all would be
over with us.' If any one ventured once again to ask why, they only
shouted; 'Hold your tongue, or we'll beat out your brains.'

"One day loud cries were heard throughout the town; the citizens
thronged together--the bear lay dead. He had died suddenly; they had
no new bear ready to take his place, and everywhere the dolorous cry
resounded: 'It is all over with the Canton of Berne! Up and away, brave
hunters! Get us a new bear!

"In vain the hunters explore the mountains and the ravines; they cannot
find a bear. But in spite of this, wonderful to relate, corn and grapes
ripen, fruit grows on the trees--it seems as if nature were utterly
indifferent to the woe of Berne. The sun, though it saw the bear lie
dead, still rises every morning--the world still stands. What can be
the meaning of it?"

Witty as the fable is, it will hardly convince any supporter of
monarchy of the uselessness of that institution. Sallet only attacks
the foolish worship of the supposedly indispensable symbol, without
making any attempt to dispute the most frequently employed argument
in favour of monarchy, namely, the benefit which results from the
withdrawal of the highest of all positions from competition. He puts
his whole soul into another poem, _Aut--Aut_, a poem which became a sort
of watchword for the youth of the day. Its most characteristic verses

   "Die ihr den grossen Kampf der Zeit
    Ausfechten wollt, herbei ihr Ritter!
    Sprecht, welcher Sach' ihr euch geweiht,
    Sprecht frei durchs offne Helmgegitter!

    Für Fürstenmacht, für Volkesrecht?
    Für Geisteslicht, für Pfaffendunkel?
    Republikaner oder Knecht?
    Ja oder nein! nur kein Gemunkel!

And the poem concludes with an allusion to the time now fast
approaching when the last on one side or the other with cloven skull
will bite the dust.

Sallet did not live to take part in the great, decisive encounter for
which he so ardently longed. He died in 1843. Not long after his death
the storm-clouds begin to thicken and the birds to fly low. We are
approaching 1848.

Literature follows in Sallet's path. From all parts of Germany comes
the cry: "Let deeds follow upon words!" We hear it not only from the
poets of North Germany, the Rhineland, and Switzerland; three poets of
far-off Austria, Karl Beck, Alfred Meissner, Moritz Hartmann join in
the chorus.

Karl Beck, the son of a Hungarian and a Hungarian Jewess, born at Baja
in 1817, first studied medicine in Vienna, but gave that up, devoted
himself to literature under the auspices of Gustav Kühne, and produced
a succession of poetical works which attracted attention by their
faithful and vivid delineation of Hungarian scenery and Hungarian
national character. As regards this aspect of his work, Beck may be
classed with the Hungarian national poet, Petöfi, a man five years his
junior; but as the poet of liberty, he must be regarded as a disciple
of Börne--the only one who was of any importance as a poet. Like Börne
he is the champion of the Jewish race, of the proletariat, and of
political liberty. In his writing we have the Old Testament style and
pathos combined with the influence of the newest French and German
oppositionist literature. In Austrian poetry Anastasius Grün and Lenau
are his immediate predecessors. He had not the culture of a Prutz,
but his writing is distinguished by fervid colouring, emotional glow,
graphic power, and wrathful enthusiasm. He was, however, one of those
who, hailing the outbreak of the Revolution with joy, changed the
key-note of their song after the victory of the reaction. After the
magnificent revolt of Hungary had been crushed, he addressed a poem to
the Emperor of Austria in which he flatters the victor, and entreats
him to have mercy on the captive heroes. This poem enraged his old
companions in arms. They called to mind that he who was now playing
the part of a loyal subject of the Emperor of Austria had, before the
collapse, been a republican and a socialist.[2]

Alfred Meissner (born at Teplitz in 1822) and Moritz Hartmann (born at
Duschnitz in 1821), Bohemia's two best lyric poets, are both inspired
by the most ardent desire for political liberty.

It is unfair to allow the unpleasant ending to Meissner's literary
career to blind us to his unquestionably genuine poetical talent. It
is both pitiable and monstrous that one of Germany's best lyric poets
should, after an honourable youth, have descended so low as to buy the
manuscripts of an inferior novel-writer and publish them under his own
name, but it does not detract from his worth as author of the fine
poems which undoubtedly are his own. As specimens of a revolutionary
eloquence which was, and with reason, irresistible to the youth of the
Forties, read his glowing lines to the memory of Byron and George Sand.

Moritz Hartmann, Meissner's countryman and contemporary, is a figure
cast in different metal; there is no flaw in him; he is a hero as well
as an unusually gifted poet. No other German poet has loved liberty so
faithfully and passionately from his earliest youth to the day of his
death, or risked his life for it so daringly and so often.

Hartmann, who was one of the handsomest men it is possible to imagine,
was born of Jewish parents in the little town of Duschnitz. The family
was of Spanish origin, the name Hartmann being a translation of Duros.
Moritz was sent to school in Prague, where, as a boy, he witnessed the
banished King Charles the Tenth's melancholy entrance into the town.
At the early age of thirteen he emancipated himself from the religious
faith of his family, and while still a mere child was deeply affected
by the news of the discomfiture of the Polish revolutionists. As a
student he became acquainted with Lenau, to whom he devoted himself
with the enthusiasm of a boy and a disciple. From his childhood he
spoke both Czech and German, and his first book of poems, _Kelch und
Schwert_ ("Chalice and Sword"), contains abundant indication of his
love for the Czech language, which he ranks with Polish, and extols
as superior to Russian. But when it comes to the question of Czech
political sympathy with Russia and hatred of everything German, he is
entirely the German.

In _Kelch und Schwert_ (1845) the Bohemian predominates. The little
introductory poem tells us as much:

   "Der ich komm' aus dem Hussitenlande,
    Glaube, dass ich Gottes Blut genossen,
    Liebe fühl' ich in mein Herz gegossen,
    Lieb' ist Gottes Blut--mein Herz sein _Kelch_.

    Der ich komm' aus dem Hussitenlande,
    Glaube an die fleischgewordnen Worte,
    Dass Gedanken werden zur Kohorte
    Und jedwedes Lied ein heilig _Schwert?_[3]

A native of that country from which the emancipating doctrines of Huss
have been banished, he feels himself a Hussite, and interprets the old
Hussite war-cry, the right of the laity to receive the chalice in the
sacrament of the Lord's Supper, in a modern spirit, almost the spirit
of Feuerbach. In a poem on the German "songs of liberty" he tells the
lyric poets of Germany that song is not the hammer that will shatter
a prince's heart; also that liberty is a woman, and not to be won by
words alone. He feels for the Poles as if he were himself a Pole.
We are made aware that he loves a Polish lady, and that through his
love to her he has become in his heart her countryman. The poem, _To
C----a_, is one of the most beautiful that sympathy with Poland has
produced. Hartmann can at times be prolix and commonplace, but much
more frequently he is concise and dramatic. Some of his scenes impress
themselves indelibly on the reader's mind. Read, for instance, _Die
Drei_, the poem of the three exiles who meet in a lonely inn on the
plains of Hungary. They are sitting silent over their wine in the
stillness of night, when some one suddenly raises his glass and cries:
"Our country!" Of the three, one is a gipsy, one a Jew, and one a Pole.
They have no country; they look at their glasses and sit silent as

Even more impassioned than his pity for Poland is his pity for Bohemia,
"the poor stag that is bleeding to death in the depths of a forest."
Nothing is left to the Bohemians but their music, that sweet music
which awakes compassion for them everywhere, which sings and sobs and
melts men's hearts with its mysterious melodies.

We may say of this first book of poems what the poet himself has said
of the following: "Not a song in it but has been kissed on the brow by
liberty, the most beautiful and noble of all muses." He already gives
frank expression to his hatred of Metternich's Austria, that Austria
which in 1848, in his _Reimchronik des Pfaffen Mauritius_, he was to
call the Bastille of the nations, within whose walls the silence of
death is only broken by the clank of fetters.

The sensation created by _Kelch und Schwert_ meant exile for Hartmann.
He had, in the first instance, transgressed the laws of Austria by
publishing in a foreign town a work which had not been submitted to
Austrian censorship. He knew that if he were to return from Leipzig,
where he had been living for some time, in intercourse with Kühne and
Laube, he was liable to be arrested on the frontier. But he could not
resist the desire to see his mother again, and succeeded in making his
way secretly to his native town. It was not possible to conceal his
presence there; a traitor betrayed him, and he was obliged, before many
days had passed, to make his escape by a back-door while the police
were forcing their way into the house. In his _Zeitlosen_ there is a
set of poems entitled _Heimkehr und Flucht_, in which he describes this
youthful escapade, and thus proudly delineates his own character:

   "Und als der Verrath mich ausgewittert
    Und als die Häscher herangekommen,
    Da hat die bleiche Mutter gezittert,
    Der Schwester Aug' in Thänen geschwommen.
    Ich aber sprach: Die Thränen verwischet,
    Wir müssen scheiden und von einander,
    Und da mich rings die Gefahr umzischet,
    In Flammen werd' ich zum Salamander.

    Ich bin geboren, ich, für Gefahren,
    Sie lauern immer auf meinem Gange
    Wie Wegelagrer in dunklen Schaaren;
    Doch kenn' ich nimmer die Furcht, die bange.
    Ich bin zu Gefahren bestimmt und geboren,
    Sie lieben mich, wie Löwen den Meister.
    Ich hab' sie alle heraufbeschworen,
    Sie dienen mir, wie dem Zaubrer die Geister."[4]

On account of the prologue which he spoke at the Schiller Festival at
Leipzig on the 11th of November 1847, a festival which was in reality
a demonstration in favour of the liberty of the press, Hartmann was
accused of high treason and of offering affront to the Emperor of
Austria. In 1848, as soon as the revolution broke out, he hastened
to Prague. He and two friends, of whom Alfred Meissner was one, were
sent as a deputation to Vienna. He has given an exquisitely humorous
account of their audience with Archduke Franz Karl, who received them
because his brother, the Emperor, was ill, and who was perfectly
unable to understand what they wanted.[5] When the rabble, during
the disturbances in Prague, attempted to storm the Jewish quarter
and slaughter its inhabitants, it was Hartmann who rushed to the
university, persuaded a body of armed students to accompany him, and
with their assistance defended the quarter against the maddened crowd
until the grenadiers arrived.[6]

In the Parliament of Frankfort Hartmann voted with the extreme Left;
his aim was the unity of Germany as a republic. He spoke seldom, but
attracted much attention; he was known as the handsomest man in the
Parliament. Kinkel describes him at this time as a handsome, amiable
man, with firm convictions; "the Southern imagination of the Austrian
gave him fluency of speech, his German training had given him solidity;
with Jewish cosmopolitanism he combined a steadfast patriotism which
not unfrequently found utterance in proud words." At first he took part
enthusiastically in the proceedings of the Parliament. Afterwards,
when these became both tedious and barren, and the assembly showed
its incapability of laying any great and lasting new foundation, his
disappointment found vent in the witty, impressive _Reimchronik_, a
work written in the metre of Hans Sachs. Hartmann, however, was not
only a man of words, but a man of deeds. In the engagement in the
streets of Frankfort on the 18th of September, he exposed himself a
hundred times to the bullets of both parties in his endeavours to
arrange a truce. After the revolution had broken out in Vienna, he
and Froebel went there as deputies from Frankfort to the provisional
government to express the sympathies of the national assembly, and
Hartmann entered the army of the revolution as a common soldier. When
Vienna was defending itself desperately against the Croats, he one day,
with apparently certain death before him, joined a party that were
determined to march through a severe fire to gain possession of a mill,
and was made officer and leader when the original leader fell. After
the fall of Vienna he escaped, thanks to the protection of a lady of
high position, who procured him a falsified passport. He returned to
his duties in the Parliament of Frankfort, and, when it broke up, went
with the protesting party to Stuttgart. There this last remnant of the
Parliament was dispersed by force of arms.

All Hartmann's work, including the youthful poetry written before
1848, bears the mark of his resolute character. In the volume, _Neuere
Gedichte_, published in 1847, which as a whole is unpolitical, we
find in the division _Ost und West_ wild omens of the coming European
storm--for example, the irate poem to the King of Prussia, in which
Hartmann, deprecating Platen's and Herwegh's respectful attitude,
cries shame upon him for delivering up the Poles to the Russian knout,
and that other very touching poem, _Hüter, ist die Nacht bald hin?_
("Watchman, is the Night nigh past?"), which is one long sigh of
impatient desire for the dawning of the new era.

And now that Bohemia and Hungary, Franconia and North Germany, were
lifting up their voices in one great chorus--the voices of thinkers
and of poets blending in unison--the youth of the country, as soon as
they awakened to intellectual life, were impelled to join that chorus;
from the boy on the school-bench to the oldest student, their minds
were re-attuned, attuned to the key of revolution. Now they suddenly
began not only to imbibe a revolutionary spirit from the works of the
revolutionary writers of the day, but to read one into the writings of
approved neutral and conservative authors long since dead. At a given
moment it became their persuasion that all literature called to arms,
even that old classic literature which was living its immortal life in
handsome bindings on the bookshelves. A certain frame of mind is the
result of our reading of all books.

What had he been, that Schiller whose writings had been put into their
hands when they were children? What but a revolutionary, the motto of
whose first book was the famous saying that what medicines cannot cure,
cold steel cures, and what cold steel cannot cure, fire cures. Did
the spirit of his works in any single point harmonise with the royal
Prussian or the Austrian imperial spirit? What had Goethe's youthful
attitude been but one of Titanic defiance? Did not even the work of his
old age, the second part of _Faust_, end with the wish that he could
see a free people on free soil? He had loathed the Berlin of Frederick
II., would not his detestation of the Berlin of Frederick William IV.
be greater still? From the writings of Hegel, who had begun life as a
revolutionary and ended it as an ultra-conservative, they drew all the
conclusions which he himself had left undrawn. Feuerbach had declared
that he would have nothing to do with politics, nevertheless they
transposed his philosophic decapitation of the historical state into
the region of practical politics.

Yes, the clouds were gathering. In place of the swallows, the heraldic
eagles of Prussia and Austria were flying low. The monarchs attempted
in vain to exorcise the tempest. Frederick William IV. convened a
general Landtag (Parliament) in April 1847. With his convictions he
could not do otherwise than open it with a speech in which, in spite of
all concessions, real and apparent, he made it clear that he was not
prepared to take the decisive step which his people demanded of him.

"No power on earth," he cried, "will make me consent to the exchange of
the natural relation between a king and his people for a conventional,
constitutional relation; never with my will shall a written paper
interfere between Almighty God and this country, rule us with its
paragraphs, and supercede ancient, sacred loyalty."[7]

The time had come. The assembly demanded annual Parliaments and
complete fulfilment of the promises made in 1815 and 1829. Jacoby,
Heinrich Simon, Gervinus, and others criticised the king's proposals
and rejected them.

Then the storm broke--first in Switzerland, where in November 1847
the Liberal cantons armed and suppressed the Jesuitical _Sonderbund_
(league of the Catholic cantons), then with overpowering force in
Paris, then in all the German and many of the other European capitals.
As thunder in a mountainous country echoes from hill to hill, so the
thunder of the revolution echoed from one European country to another
in the mad and holy year, 1848.

[1] Ye knights who have made ready to take part in the great battle
of the day, lift your visors and speak clearly: On which side are you
fighting? Either--or!

Is it for the power of the sovereign or the rights of the people?
For spiritual light or priestly superstition? Are you republicans or
thralls? No evasion! Answer plainly! Either--or!

[2] _Cf_. Moritz Hartmann: _Reimchronik des Pfaffen Mauritius_. Chap.
v. "Apostel und Apostaten."

[3] I, who am of the land of the Hussites, believe that I have drunk
the blood of God; love has been poured into my heart; love is God's
blood, my heart his _chalice_.

I, who am of the land of the Hussites, believe in the word made flesh,
believe that thoughts become armed cohorts, that every song is a holy

[4] The traitorous friend had tracked me down, the minions of the law
had come; my mother turned pale and trembled, my sister's eyes were
bathed in tears. But I said: "Dry these foolish tears; my time has
come and I must go; the flames of danger hiss around me--I become a
salamander in their fiery glow."

I was born for danger; dangers, thick and dark, beset my path, yet I
know no fear; are they not my destiny? They love me as the lion loves
his tamer; 'tis I who have conjured them up, and they serve me as
spirits do the magician.

[5] Moritz Hartmann: _Gesammelte Werke_, x. p. 16, &c.

[6] Alfred Marchand: _Les poètes lyriques de l'Autriche_. Hartmann:
_Gesammelte Werke_, x. p. 23, &c.

[7] Keiner Macht der Erde soll es gelingen, das natürliche Verhältnis
zwischen Fürst und Volk in ein conventionelles, constitutionelles zu
verwandeln, und nun und nimmermehr werde ich es zugeben, dass zwischen
unserm Herrgott im Himmel und dieses Land ein geschriebenes Blatt sich
eindrängt, um uns mit seinen Paragraphen zu regieren und die alte
heilige Treue zu ersetzen.



   "Im Hochland fiel der erste Schuss--
    Im Hochland wider die Pfaffen!
    Da kam, die fallen wird und muss,
    Ja, die Lawine kam in Schuss--
    Drei Länder in den Waffen!
    Schon kann die Schweiz von Siegen ruhn:
    Das Urgebirg und die Nagelfluhn
    Zittern vor Lust bis zum Kerne!

    Drauf ging der Tanz in Welschland los--
    Die Scyllen und Charybden,
    Vesuv und Aetna brachen los:
    Ausbruch auf Ausbruch, Stoss auf Stoss!
    --'Sehr bedenklich, Euer Liebden!'
    Also schallt's von Berlin nach Wien
    Und von Wien zurück nach Berlin--
       Sogar dem Nickel graut es! (Nickel, _i.e._ Czar Nicholas.)

    Und nun ist denn auch abermals
    Das Pflaster aufgerissen,
    Auf dem die Freiheit, nackten Stahls
    Aus der lumpigen Pracht des Königssaals
    Zwei Könige schon geschmissen."[1]

Thus sang Freiligrath in February 1848, a few days after the revolution
in Paris. A long shudder, of pain and at the same time of relief,
passed through the whole of Germany. It was as if a window had been
opened, and air had reached the lungs of Europe. Example, the one power
that can do miracles, was forcing the German people to action. They
were also impelled by the fear that absolutism would now venture its
last move, would declare Germany to be endangered by the revolution in
France, and compel the people of Prussia and Austria to take up arms
against the French republic.

In Austria intolerance had gone as far as it could go. In 1846
Metternich's government had actually placed the _Herzensergüsse_ of
the Emperor Joseph II., collected and published by a banished patriot,
on the list of contraband books. And now the disturbances in the
Austro-Italian provinces, which were endangering the credit of the
state and the industries of the country, brought dissatisfaction with
Metternichs rule to a climax. The decisive defeat he had met with in
Switzerland, namely, the collapse of that Jesuitical "Sonderbund" which
with all his might he had supported against the Radicals, had given the
last blow to men's faith in his invincibility. In one of the provinces
of Prussia, Silesia, bureaucratic misgovernment had just produced
terrible consequences. Typhus, the result of starvation, had raged for
months among the miserably poor industrial population before those in
power had made any attempt to remedy the state of matters. Hundreds
of dead and dying lay by the roadsides. In the cold of January, poor,
solitary wretches starved in their hovels, and naked children pined to
death beside the corpses of their parents; no one came to their aid,
for the ignorant local authorities had, in order to prevent the spread
of infection, made it a punishable offence to enter any infected house.
All this time the government officials only appeared to collect the
taxes, which they did with harsh regardlessness of circumstances; and
when the Governor was attacked because no remedial measures had been
taken from August 1847 to the end of January 1848, he answered that no
formal appeal for assistance had been made.

In such circumstances the political leaders of the middle classes found
it an easy matter to rouse their own class to action, and the working
classes, hoping to improve their position, and exasperated by arbitrary
police regulations, everywhere followed in the footsteps of the middle

It is difficult for the present generation to enter into the feelings
of the men of 1848. The frame of mind which prevailed in Denmark
at that time cannot be regarded as typical. There, as elsewhere,
it undoubtedly was the instinct of national self-preservation and
pride that asserted itself. But whereas the other countries rose in
revolt against hereditary rule and coercion, in Denmark a revolt was
suppressed by the power of the hereditary monarchy and of insulted
national feeling. There was no thought of revolution in the minds of
the Danes; it was for old rights they fought, not for new ideas.

Everywhere else in Europe the oppressed peoples revolted. It was
long since anything but evil had fallen to their lot, since they
had witnessed the triumph of anything but wrong, use-and-wont, and
falsehood. Actual and detestable had with them come to be almost
synonymous terms. But they had a faith that could remove mountains
and a hope that could shake the earth. Liberty, Parliament, national
unity, liberty of the press, republic, were to them magic words, at the
very sound of which their hearts leaped like the heart of a youth who
suddenly sees his beloved.

The aspiring spirits of the generation of to-day do not feel thus.
They know that stupidity is a ferocious animal, and the hardest of all
to kill--that cowardice, the agile slave that stands at the beck of
power, is as strong as courage itself when there is any question of
defending ancient privilege--that what is known by the name of progress
is a feeble snail. The simpleton in the fable bought a raven that he
might see for himself if it was true that ravens live for two hundred
years. The friends of progress in our days know beforehand that all the
raven-black lies and raven-trickeries of all the privilege-rookeries,
great and small, will outlive them--for how many hundred years they
cannot tell. At a rare time they have seen good victorious, but never
have they heard it acknowledged that it is _their_ good which has
triumphed. They have always seen truth first abused, then if possible
killed--if that proved impossible, maimed and recognised. Therefore
they have little hope. Many of them, indeed, have killed hope in their
own breasts, as we kill a nerve that gives us too much pain. They have
been disappointed too often.

The men of 1848 had never relinquished their hope in the future. They
had been oppressed, and they had suffered so long that they had grown
accustomed to see brute force and hypocrisy triumphant, accustomed
to live in a sort of spiritual twilight. But they believed in the
coming day. And now, suddenly, they saw it. First a gleam, then a ray,
then a flame, then the whole horizon, as far as the eye could reach,
a sea of light. For the first time they heard loud, ringing voices
proclaim liberty to be the right of the people, without a voice raised
in opposition; and for the first time, with wondering eyes, they saw
power, that hitherto immovable mass, the giant bearer of oppression and
falsehood, begin to stir like some gigantic elephant, writhe and turn
and shake itself, throw off its riders, and move ponderously in the
direction of the high-spirited, ardent friends of liberty, the men of
the new day, who stood ready to fling themselves on its back and force
it to trample down all the ancient abuses.

For the younger men especially it was a moment without compare, a sight
that intoxicated them, that drove them wild. They shouted, they sang,
they rejoiced, and in their wild exultation they felt it a necessity to
act, to risk all, to give their lives if need be--anything, everything,
except be behindhand in greeting and ushering in the dawning day of

True it is that democratic illusions held high revelry; true it is
that there prevailed a touchingly naïve belief in the infallibility
of popular instincts; and true it is that the ability of theorists to
settle practical difficulties was greatly overestimated. But the first
impulse was irresistible, the original instinct was correct. Those who
really possessed capacity became leaders, took the command without
any fuss or parade, and were obeyed, not because of their outward
authority, but because their real superiority was felt by all.

The score of students who commanded on the barricades in Berlin may be
given as an instance. Many a so-called very ordinary man for a few days
of his life showed himself to be a hero. During the first months some
of the finest qualities of humanity displayed themselves and shone with
astonishing lustre.

It was in Austria that the revolutionary movement began, immediately
after the arrival of the news of the Revolution of February in Paris.
A speech made by Kossuth in the Hungarian Parliament on the 3rd of
March, demanding constitutional government for all the provinces of the
Empire, inaugurated the revolution both in Buda-Pesth and Vienna. On
the 11th of March a similar demand was made by the Czechs in Prague,
and before this, on the 6th of March, the Austrian Industrial Union
had presented a petition to Archduke Franz Karl, the presumptive heir
to the throne, requesting Metternich's dismissal, and also demanding
liberty of the press, the right of voting supplies, of taking part in
legislation, &c.

On this followed what has been called the petition storm. Every day,
every hour new petitions to the Emperor poured in. On the 12th of
March the students held a great meeting at the University, the result
of which was also a petition to the Emperor, demanding liberty of the
press, religious liberty, and liberty of instruction. The Emperor
received the deputation the following day, but gave an undecided
answer. In these unforeseen circumstances the 13th of March, the
opening day of the Lower Austrian Convention of the Estates, arrived
and found the Government unprepared. The populace crowded into the
enclosure of the assembly hall, where Kossuth's speech was read aloud
amidst excited rejoicings and shouts of "Hurrah for the constitution!"
A party forced their way into the hall and began to smash the furniture
and throw it out on to the heads of the soldiers; even Archduke
Albrecht, who was in command, was struck by a block of wood. Then the
order was given to fire, and the first Revolution of Vienna broke out.
The Italian troops fired, but the Austrians unscrewed their bayonets
amidst the joyful shouts of the crowd. At the Castle the gunners,
instead of shooting, placed themselves in front of their guns--as
we read in one of the poems of the day, Rick's _Das Lied vom braven

   "Vor der Burg in glühender Front,
    Des blutgen Befehls gewärtig,
    Vor der Burg in glühender Front,
    Da stehn die Kanonen fertig.
    Schon zittern die Thore, sie brechen schier,
    Jetzt gilt's, du braver Kanonier!

    Und du trittst vor die Mündung hin,
    Als wolltest du fesseln den Würger--
    Und du rufst mit begeistertem Sinn:
    Erst mich! dann den wehrlosen Bürger!--
    Dann schweigt das Commando, beschämt vor dir.
    Hab Dank, du braver Kanonier!"[2]

Towards evening it became clear to Metternich that no concessions
would now avail. He who for forty years had led the policy of Austria
hurriedly gave in his resignation and made his escape in disguise
in the imperial laundry cart. At nine o'clock the same evening the
troops were withdrawn from Vienna (exactly a week before the same
thing happened in Berlin), and citizens and students mounted guard
everywhere. The arsenal was opened, and in one day arms were served out
to 25,000 men.

There was some severe fighting in the outskirts of the town. So
fiercely resolute were the populace that, all unarmed, they pressed in
upon and disarmed two companies of grenadiers who were defending the
entrance to Metternichs villa. Those who resisted were trampled under

That same evening the abolition of the censorship and liberty of the
press were publicly announced. The intimation produced a feeling of
intense relief--it was as if a gag had been removed from the mouth of
the nation.

The newspapers, as a matter of course, instantaneously began to give
expression to the popular political ideas. It had hitherto been
impossible to treat even in poetic form any subject with a social or
political tendency; Austria had resembled a forest where the voices of
the birds were silent. Now suddenly pipe and call, whistle and song,
were heard from every bush and tree, a mighty and confused chorus.[3]

Poems of liberty were published in all the languages of Austria--German
and Czech, Slavonian and Croatian, Hungarian, Polish, and Italian. So
eager were men to make use of their new liberty that a whole bevy of
poems, superscribed _Erstes censurfreies Gedicht_ ("First poem printed
after the abolition of the censure"), appeared simultaneously.

The one generally accepted as the first is Frankl's _Die Universität_.
During the night between the 14th and 15th of March, one of the
professors, fearing an outbreak of the prisoners, requested the armed
students to despatch a guard to one of the prisons. Twenty students
were at once sent, under the command of Ludwig August Frankl. Whilst he
stood on guard that young man gave expression to the feelings of the
day in the song:

   "Was kommt heran mit kühnem Gange?
    Die Waffe blinkt, die Fahne weht,
    Es naht mit hellem Trommelklange
                    Die Universität.
     .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    Das freie Wort, das sie gefangen,
    Seit Joseph arg verhöhnt, verschmäht,
    Vorkämpfend sprengte seine Spangen
                    Die Universität."

In 1890, on his eightieth birthday, Frankl published a large volume of
able poetry; during his long life he has been an unusually productive
poet and writer of biography; he has been presented with the freedom of
Vienna and of three other European and Asiatic towns; but this song,
of which in course of time at least a hundred thousand copies were
printed, was what founded his reputation.

It was not, however, really the first poem printed after the abolition
of the censorship, for on the previous night Castelli had written his
song of the _Garde-National._ In the German language alone there are
three or four poems which lay claim to the same distinction. One of
these is the song of the Vienna student brigade,_ Erwacht, erwacht o
Brüder! Ein grosser Morgen tagt_ ("Awake, awake, O brothers! a great
morning is dawning"), and another is Fr. Gerhard's _Die freie Presse_,
which begins:

   "Die Presse frei! Die Glocken lasst ertönen
    Und läutet Jubel überall!
    Und ruft's hinaus zu Deutschlands fernsten Söhnen
    Die Presse frei, erstürmt der Freiheit Wall![4]

Simultaneously with these poems, which express such an innocent,
exuberant delight at being able to speak and write without restraint,
there appeared others full of the most childish gratitude to the
weak-minded Emperor. In them he is "the good Emperor," "our good
Ferdinand," &c, &c. People were ready to forget immediately that every
single concession had been, not granted, but forcibly extorted, or
else they believed naïvely that this was the way to make their late
oppressors forget it. In one of the many songs in praise of the Emperor
we read:

   "Heil dir, mein Kaiser! in all der Lust
    Zu der sich dein Volk ermannt hat,
    Sei Dir vor Allen ein Heil gebracht,
    Den es immer als edel erkannt hat."[5]

On the 16th of March the Hungarian deputation, 150 magnates with
Kossuth at their head, rode into Vienna, through the Prater, welcomed
with deafening cheers and showers of flowers. That day the number of
armed citizens had risen to 60,000. In the afternoon a herald appeared
on the balcony of the Castle and read the following proclamation: "We,
Ferdinand the First, by the grace of God Emperor of Austria and King
of Hungary and Bohemia, of Lombardy and Venice, of Dalmatia, Croatia,
Slavonia, Galicia, Illyria, &c, have now, in agreement with the wishes
of our faithful people, decided to take certain steps." On this
introduction follows the announcement of the liberty of the press, the
formation of the National Guard, and the convention of an assembly of
deputies for the purpose of drafting "that constitution which we have
determined to bestow on our country."

Saphir sang:

   "Schwert aus der Scheid, aus dem Herzen das Lied!
    Stimmt an das Lied der Lieder!
    Jauchzend ertön' es durch Reihe und Glied,
    Jauchzend durch jubelnde Brüder!
    Blank wie die Waffe und hell wie der Stahl
    Klinge das Lied von der Garde-National."[6]

Even the mocking-birds, we see, on this occasion ceased from mocking
and found voice to join in the universal chorus. In the persistent
employment of the French word, _Garde Nationale_, we have an example
of the importation and imitation which so largely characterised the

In turning over the pages of a collection of the German political
poems, several thousand in number, which were published in 1848 in
Vienna alone, we come upon many unknown names, but also upon almost
all that were well known at that time and on many that were destined
to become famous. We are struck by a poem of Bauernfeld's, _Wien an
die Provinzen_, weak from a literary point of view, but significant
from its indication of the first sign of reaction, namely, an attempt
made in the provinces to shake off what was called the tyranny of the
capital; in other words, to counteract the influence of the example set
by victorious, free Vienna. Friedrich Uhl, at a later period editor of
the _Wiener Abendpost_, the official organ of the Government, writes a
lament for the fallen revolutionary heroes:

   "Das schwarze Band, den schwarzen Flor
    Lasst in den Lüften wallen,
    Den Todten singt ein Klagelied,
    Die für die Freiheit gefallen."[7]

There are poems to Lenau, the most popular of living Austrian poets,
bewailing that the singer of liberty is now insane and silent, his ears
deaf to the victors' joyful shouts. Richard Wagner, as yet unknown to
fame, sends a "Greeting from Saxony to Vienna":

   "Ihr habt der Freiheit Art erkannt;
    Nicht halb wird sie gewonnen;
    Ist uns ihr kleinstes Glied entwandt,
    Schnell ist sie ganz zeronnen.
    Dies kleinste Glied ist unsre Ehre,
    Ehrlos ist, wer es lässt,
    Mit hellen Waffen, guter Wehre,
    Drum hieltet Ihr es fest."[8]

Amongst the writers of serious poems we find names like Grillparzer
and Hebbel; Saphir and Dingelstedt write mock-heroic elegies on the
last of the censors, both of them parodies of Schiller's _Nadowessische
Todesklage_; and there are no end of satiric thrusts at the King of
Prussia, who, curiously enough, was considered to have acted heretofore
in a more reactionary spirit, and now to be granting concessions more
unwillingly than the Austrian Emperor.

Since the beginning of March Berlin had been in a state of the
wildest excitement. Directly after the Revolution of February the
_Kreuzzeitung_ published an article advocating war with France. It
awakened extreme anxiety; people asked each other if long-suffering
Prussia was actually to be compelled to take up arms against the French
Republic. It was in these days that all Germany began to deck itself
in black, red, and gold, the colours symbolising unity and liberty.
Freiligrath wrote of them:

   "In Kümmerniss und Dunkelheit
    Da mussten wir sie bergen,
    Nun haben wir sie doch befreit,
    Befreit aus ihren Särgen;
    Ha, wie das blitzt und rauscht und rollt!
    Hurrah, du Schwarz, du Roth, du Gold!
          Pulver ist schwarz,
          Blut ist roth,
          Golden flackert die Flamme!"[9]

On the 7th of March the first great public meeting was held at In
den Zelten. It was resolved to present an address to the King,
demanding that he should immediately convene the Landtag and grant a
constitution. The address ended with the words: "No war with France!
Lawful liberty in our own country! Fraternal union of the whole great
German nation!" On the 12th of March a regiment of cavalry charged
the crowds at In den Zelten and dispersed them, but they collected
again in town, built barricades, and attempted to seize a gunsmith's
shop in the Jägerstrasse. Two men were killed in front of the Opera
House. Under the windows of the Castle the people shouted "Liberty!
Liberty of the press!" and insulted the sentries. On the 14th of March
a general Landtag was summoned. So far things had been managed on
the whole peaceably; but on the 15th of March the soldiers, who were
worn out with night-watching, and with having to hold themselves in
constant readiness in the barracks, began to behave roughly to the
crowd, to strike with the butt-ends of their guns, &c. Small barricades
which some boys had erected at the corner of the Kurstrasse and the
Gertraudenstrasse were charged by the Cuirassier Guards from Potsdam,
and the boys were cruelly handled.

At one o'clock on the 18th of March a royal proclamation was read
in front of the Castle. It declared that Germany was to be from
henceforth not a federation of States, but one federated State
(Staatenbund--Bundesstaat), with a common Parliament, a common army,
free-trade, liberty of emigration, and liberty of the press. At the end
of each sentence the crowd answered with thundering hurrahs. Cries were
heard of "Away with the soldiers!" and some stones were thrown. The
famous General von Pfuel, who was in command, forbade the soldiers to
fire, ordered the dragoons to dismount, and praised the discipline they
showed in obeying at once, furious as they were. When the town seemed
quiet he went home for a short time.

During his absence, in consequence of an order given, no one knows by
whom, though the embittered populace during the following days laid
the blame of it on the Prince of Prussia, the future Emperor William,
a regiment of dragoon guards arrived. The crowd shouted "Away!" The
dragoons wheeled round, and the crowd were beginning to cry "Bravo!"
when suddenly the soldiers charged in amongst them with naked swords.
At the same moment a battalion of infantry marched out at the Castle
gate, drew up in line, and also charged with levelled bayonets. Some
shots were fired--possibly by accident. With loud shrieks the crowd
instantaneously dispersed. Only a moment before joy had been at its
height; strangers had been embracing each other, waving their hats,
and shouting "Hurrah for the King"; now, as if at a preconcerted
signal, barricades sprang up, as they had done in Vienna, over the
whole town. There were two hundred of them, built of paving-stones,
gutter-planking, and carts. The town was a camp. Men fired on the
troops from every roof; those who could not get guns, threw stones.
Every axe, every thick stick became a weapon.[10]

The roofs were torn off corner houses, and paving-stones were carried
up in baskets. The students met, armed, in front of the University,
fastened tri-coloured cockades in their caps, and proceeded to man the
barricades. Powder and shot, axes and iron bars, were provided by the
merchants. On the evening of the 18th, the artillery opened fire in
the Königstrasse. The King looked on from the windows of the Castle,
incensed by the deputations that came entreating him to withdraw the
troops, but at times condescending to jest; what specially annoyed him
was the sight of the tri-coloured flags waving on the barricades. He
was ready, he said, to concede much to entreaty, nothing to illegal

Varnhagen, in his Diary, describes what he saw and heard from his
windows that night: "Asmall body of citizens under trusty leaders held
the streets, doubly watchful because their numbers were so few. For a
number of hours absolute darkness and silence prevailed; then, towards
morning, the sound of far-off drums was heard; troops were evidently
approaching. The citizen combatants were instantly on the alert; we
could hear them whispering. A youthful voice gave the word of command:
'To the roofs, gentlemen!' and every man went to his post. This calm,
determined command, given with noble simplicity, rang terrible and yet
inspiring through the darkness. One felt the dangers which those who
obeyed it were braving, for the general resistance was becoming weaker,
and it seemed as if they were doomed, after a fruitless struggle, to
meet an ignominious death, either by a fall from the roof, by the
soldiers' bayonets, or by the hand of the executioner." Varnhagen
concludes: "The heroic courage and determination of these daring youths
was most undoubtedly worthy of all admiration"--weighty words, coming
from the pen of an old, experienced officer.

On the night between the 18th and 19th of March, wherever barricades
were being erected or repaired, the windows were illuminated. But
the moment troops entered the street all was darkness. The soldiers
hewed and sabred right and left in the houses which they entered, and
showed mediæval brutality in their treatment of prisoners. Towards
morning the arsenal of the Garde-Landwehr regiment was captured by the
insurgents; they found that the locks of the guns had been destroyed,
but all the smiths of the quarter set to work and repaired the damage.

At last, in the course of the morning, a royal proclamation headed
_An meine lieben Berliner!_ was circulated, in which an attempt was
made to explain the events of the day before as being the result of
an unfortunate misunderstanding, "It had been necessary to clear
the square in front of the Castle with cavalry, ordered to advance
at a walking pace and with sheathed swords (_im Schritt und mit
eingesteckter Waffe_); two infantry muskets had about this time
gone off by accident, fortunately injuring no one; a company of
evil-disposed individuals, chiefly strangers, had taken advantage of
this unfortunate occurrence to stir up ideas of revenge in the minds
of the excited crowd; the troops had used their weapons, but not until
driven to do so by being repeatedly fired at. The King promises that
the troops shall be withdrawn from Berlin, and concludes with the hope
that both parties will forget what has happened."[11]

Meanwhile the struggle raged on with frightful exasperation on both
sides. In treating with the deputations that waited on him on the
morning of the 19th of March, the King attempted to make his promise
of withdrawing the troops conditional on the dismantling of the
barricades. But in the end everything was conceded--change of ministry,
release of the prisoners taken during the night, and withdrawal of
the troops. Amidst the shouts of the rejoicing crowd, to muffled beat
of drum and Chorale-music, the soldiers were marched off to Potsdam,
feeling that they had sustained a deadly insult at the hands of their
royal commander-in-chief.

An enormous crowd thronged to the Castle, partly consisting of
those who hoped by the force of numbers to exercise pressure on
their vanquished rulers, partly of curious idlers; all the funeral
processions from the streets where there had been fighting also made
their way there. The corpses were borne on biers, or, where the numbers
were too great, conveyed in open waggons, decorated with flowers,
ribbons, and scarves, the corpses too being decked with flowers.

Every available space in the neighbourhood of the Castle was closely
packed. The crowd demanded to see the King. With a pale face he stepped
out on the balcony. "Set the prisoners free!" shouted the crowd, and
he was actually obliged to order the release of all those who were
confined in the cellars of the Castle. The next proceeding was the
carrying of many of the most severely wounded insurrectionists into the
Castle, where their wounds were dressed. Now the funeral processions
began to arrive, a sight by which the crowd was thrown into a state of
the wildest agitation. Whilst the corpses were being carried into one
of the apartments on the first floor of the Castle, one orator after
another addressed the people. The speech which met with most approval
was one made by Karl Gutzkow, the refrain of which was "general arming
of the citizens." This the newly appointed ministers, who were moving
about among the crowd, vainly attempting to pacify them, were loth
to concede, but they were soon compelled to do so, for a scene which
occurred at this juncture made it impossible to resist the demands of
the people.

A new funeral procession arrived--four corpses were borne on
flower-decked biers through the crowd, their bloody wounds exposed to
view for the purpose of rousing the beholders to revenge. The biers
were deposited below the King's balcony, and the bearers raised a wild
shout of "The King! The Queen!" which found a thousand-fold echo among
the crowd. Two of the new ministers, Schwerin and Arnim, tried in vain
to gain a hearing; their voices were drowned in the cry of "The King!
The Queen!"

When the King and Queen actually appeared, on the balcony the people's
frenzy knew no bounds. The King to speak, but the bearers held high
the biers with their bloody burdens, and the crowd yelled "Off with
your hat!" And as each corpse was carried past the King was obliged to
uncover.[12] In Freiligrath's grand poem, _Die Todten an die Lebenden_,
written in the following year, the year of disillusion, we read:

   "Die Kugel mitten durch die Brust, die Stirne breit gespalten,
    So habt Ihr uns auf blutgem Brett hoch in die Luft gehalten!
    Hoch in die Luft mit wildem Schrei, das unsre Schmerzgeberde
    Den, der zu tödten uns befahl, ein Fluch auf ewig werde!
    Dass er sie sehe Tag und Nacht, im Wachen und im Traume--
    Im Oeffnen seines Bibelbuchs und im Champagnerschaume!
    Dass wie ein Brandmal sie sich tief in seine Seele brenne:
    Dass nirgendwo und nimmermehr er vor ihr fliehen könne!
    Dass jeder qualverzogene Mund, dass jede rothe Wunde
    Ihn schrecke noch, ihn ängste noch in seiner letzten Stunde!"[13]

On the 21st of March, at noon, the King rode out at the Castle gate
with a black, red, and gold band on his arm, and himself distributed
black, red, and gold favours. He was followed by the royal princes
and the Ministers, who were in despair at the humiliating proceeding;
at his side rode a veterinary surgeon, Urban by name. One of his
generals had in vain attempted to dissuade him from taking this step.
He answered: "Non, non, c'est décidé, nous allons monter à cheval."
Presently he drew rein and spoke as follows: "I am usurping no man's
right when I declare that I believe myself called to be the saviour
of the unity and liberty of Germany--that unity and liberty, based on
a free constitution, I will defend with the aid of German loyalty."
At the University he called for the professors and students, and said
to them: "Schreiben Sie sich's auf, meine Herren! Write down my words
to you, for they are for posterity. I place myself at the head of the
German nation; with its unity and liberty the existence of Prussia is
henceforth inseparably bound up. Write that down!" At the arsenal,
when he was again pouring forth promises, a piercing voice suddenly
cried: "Don't believe him, he is lying; he has always lied, and he is
lying now. Tear me in pieces if you like, but I say he is lying--don't
believe him!"

In Vienna, a few days later, the following poem appeared:

    Im grossen ungläubigen Altberlin sind nun die Wunder zu Hause,
    Da wird geschossen, gestürmt, gebrannt zwei Tage ohne Pause,
    Bis tausende liegen im rothen Sand. Den König betrübt die Wendniss:
    Die Flinten gingen von selber los. Das war nur ein Missverständniss.

    Durch's grosse, ungläubige Altberlin gehn wunderbare Witze,
    Ein König hüllt sich in Schwarz-Roth-Gold und stellt sich an
        Deutschlands Spitze,
    Ein König wird Ober-Demagog mit deutsch einheitlicher Sendniss,
    Doch Deutschland lacht und ruft mit Macht: Das ist ein

Another poem that bears witness to the irritated, sarcastic feeling
provoked by the events of these days is entitled _Erlkönig_, and begins:

   "Wer schiesst noch so spät auf's Volk ohne Wehr?
    Es ist ein König mit seinem Heer.
    Er hält sein Volk so treu im Arm,
    Er fasst es so sicher mit seinen Gendarmes.

    O Bürger, o Bürger, o hörest du nicht
    Was Erlkönig in der Zeitung verspricht," &c.

The Revolution of March in the capitals of Germany did not call
forth any particularly fine poetical effusions; it gave rise chiefly
to street songs, inflammatory and ephemeral verse; but the counter
revolutions, the terrible re-capture of Vienna in October and of Berlin
in November 1848, inspired a whole host of fine poems. The poets also
found inspiration in the martyr deaths of individual liberationists,
who either fell in fight or were murdered judicially after the
suppression of the revolution. The insurrection of Hungary, too, with
its suppression by the Russian army, awakened a sympathy which found
expression in touching poems.

The enthusiastic ecstasy in Vienna was of short duration. The democrats
did not consider the free constitution free enough. A central
political committee was formed as a sort of check on the government.
The existence of such a body was declared to be illegal, but popular
pressure compelled the government to retract this declaration and to
suspend the constitution. In the beginning of May the Emperor fled to
Innsbruck. An attempt was made to disband the student brigade, but as
this led to a renewal of barricade fighting, the ministry were obliged
to desist. The Emperor returned in August. During all this time the
capital was in a most excited state; the revolution had put a stop to
every kind of business, and the want of employment increased discontent
and restlessness. A deep impression was made by the intelligence of
the events of June in Paris, Cavaignac's victory being regarded as
equivalent to the suppression of the revolution in France. About the
same time came the news that Jellatschitsch, the Ban of Croatia, was
preparing to invade Hungary. Intercepted letters showed that in this
proceeding he had the support of the Court of Vienna and of Latour, the
Minister of War; and the consequence was that Count Lamberg, Latour's
envoy, was torn to pieces by the mob on his arrival at Pesth (September
28), and Latour himself, having declared his intention of despatching
troops to Hungary, was killed (October 7) by the enraged populace of
Vienna. In his poem, _Der 7 Oktober_, which is a eulogy of the murdered
man, Dingelstedt takes the opportunity to dissociate himself from the
revolution and all its doings.

The Emperor now fled from Vienna for the second time. Whilst Radetzky
suppressed the insurrection in Lombardy, Windischgrätz, who had been
appointed commander-in-chief, surrounded the capital with his troops.
In a struggle which lasted from the 24th to the 29th of October the
outworks and outlying parts of the town were captured, and the city
had already been driven by want of provisions and ammunition to agree
to the unconditional capitulation demanded by Windischgrätz, when the
cry was heard in the streets: "The Hungarians are coming." They had
been seen from the tower of St. Stephen's Church. There was great
rejoicing. The agreement to surrender was disregarded, the arms which
had already been given up were again seized at the arsenals, and
sorties were made to support the Hungarians, whose cannonading was now
heard. But the Hungarian army was completely routed by Jellatschitsch.
Windischgrätz entered Vienna on the 31st of October, followed by
Jellatschitsch on the 2nd of November. A state of siege was proclaimed,
and court-martials, sentences of death, and executions became the order
of the day.

Simultaneously with the elections for the first German Parliament
in Frankfort-on-Main, elections went on in Prussia for the Prussian
Constitutional Assembly, which was opened by the King in May. This
body numbered few eminent members, the best men having been sent to
Frankfort. Berlin was in an almost anarchic condition; the arsenal was
stormed and plundered, the political clubs terrorised and coerced the
Assembly. It rejected the constitution proposed by the government as
not sufficiently democratic. The result of this was a first change of
ministry. The new ministry made proposals which coincided more closely
with the wishes of the Assembly, but found themselves unable to agree
to the demand of the majority that it should be made a point of honour
with all officers who disapproved of the new constitution to leave
the army. A third ministry, with Pfuel for its leader, was formed. On
the last day of October, while the Assembly was debating an appeal to
the government "to support, by every means in its power, the cause of
popular liberty, at present endangered in Vienna," a mob broke in on
the meeting, attempted to influence its decision by violent means,
and insulted the Pfuel ministry. Then this ministry too resigned, and
on the 2nd of November the King put the reins of government into the
hands of a war ministry, with his step-uncle, Count Brandenburg, at its
head. This new government decreed the transference of the Assembly from
Berlin to Brandenburg, and brought the troops that had just returned
from Denmark under General Wrangel to Berlin. The citizens were
disarmed and a state of siege was proclaimed.

The revolutions of Vienna and Berlin had been fruitless; alike
fruitless were the proceedings of the first German Parliament
(Reichstag), which met at Frankfort on the 18th of May 1848, and was
forcibly dispersed by troops at Stuttgart on the 18th of June 1849.
The President it chose, Archduke John, did his best to subject it
to the domination of Austria; it made a vain offer of the imperial
crown of Germany to Frederick William IV. in April 1849; its sacred
inviolability was disregarded as early as November 1848, when
Windischgrätz ordered the execution of one of its members, Robert Blum,
at Brigittenau; it lost importance as a representative assembly by the
gradual desertion of its conservative members. When it was dispersed at
Stuttgart, the reaction was once more triumphant throughout Europe:

   "Da sah man die letzten der Getreuen,
    Die ausgeharrt beim Heiland, zerstreuen
    Sich, wandernd nach alien Seiten und Winden,
    Das Wort des Heiles zu verkünden,
    Wohl wissend, dass ein langes Exil
    Und Armuth, Noth und Dulden ihr Ziel,
    Und Qual und Tod und Kerkermauern.
    'Das Wort des Heils wird sie überdauern'
    Das merkt euch, ihr Knechte und blutigen Horden:
    Das Wort ist Fleisch und ist Gott geworden.[15]

Thus sang Moritz Hartmann, one of the last of the faithful. He rightly
felt that the ideas survived the outward changes.

By the end of 1848 the poets of the revolution had nothing left to
sing of but fallen heroes and extinguished hopes. Among these poets
Freiligrath and Hartmann rank highest, and as typical of the elegies
written on the fallen heroes, we may take the verses composed by these
two authors on Robert Blum, whose firm, gentle character, simplicity,
and prudence, stamped him in the minds of his contemporaries as the
ideal of a popular leader.

In his _Reimchronik_ Hartmann writes mournfully:

   "So ruhe sanft und gut, mein Robert!
    Nicht braucht's der Wunsch, dass leicht dir werde
    Die blutgetränkte Wiener Erde,
    Der Boden, den du dir erobert.
    Du bist nicht todt, trotz aller Klage
    Des deutschen Volks, trotz aller Lieder.
     . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Ein Mythus geht: der Robert lebt,
    Der Robert Blum, den sie erschossen
    Und jedes deutsche Herz erbebt:
    Das theure Blut ist nicht geflossen--
    Die Hoffnung raunt uns in die Ohren:
    Entflort, entflort die Trikoloren,
    Noch, noch ist Deutschland nicht verloren.
     . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Allüberall ist der dabei!
    Er wendet mit den Geisterhänden
    Und fängt mit seiner Brust das Blei,
    Das uns die Fürstenväter senden.
     . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    Und wandeln muss er, bis entrafft
    Das deutsche Volk sich dem Verräther
    Bis er entfürstet und entpfafft
    Den heilgen Boden seiner Väter."[16]

And a week after Blum's death, Freiligrath writes the magnificent
verses on the commemoration service in the Cathedral of Cologne, where
the mighty organ pealed forth Neukomm's requiem music:

  "Und heut in diesem selben Köln zum Weh'n des Winterwindes
   Und zu der Orgel Brausen schallt das Grablied dieses Kindes.
   Nicht singt die Ueberlebende, die Mutter, es dem Sohne:
   Das ganze schmerzbewegte Köln singt es mit festem Tone.
   Es spricht: Du, deren Schoos ihn trug, bleib still auf deinem Kammer!
   Vor deinem Gott, du graues Haupt, ausströme deinen Jammer;
   Auch ich bin seine Mutter, Weib! Ich und noch eine Hohe--
   Ich und die Revolution, die hohe, lichterlohe!
   Bleib du daheim mit deinem Schmerz! wir wahren seine Ehre--
   Des Robert Requiem singt Köln, die revolutionäre.
     . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
   Was greift ihr zu den Schwertern nicht, Ihr Singer und Ihr Beter?
   Was werdet Ihr Posaunen nicht, Ihr ehr'nen Orgeltuben,
   Den jüngsten Tag ins Ohr zu schrein den Henkern und den Buben?
   Den Henkern, die ihn hingestreckt auf der Brigittenaue--
   Auf festen Knien lag er da im ersten Morgenthaue!
   Dann sank er hin--hin in sein Blut--lautlos!--heut vor acht Tagen!
   Zwei Kugeln haben ihm die Brust, eine das Haupt zerschlagen."[17]

It is to Hartmann's _Reimchronik des Pfaffen Mauritius_ that we must
have recourse if we desire to view all the successive events and
impressions of 1848 in the mirror of poetry. Many of the details
of this poem have become difficult to understand; the reader of
to-day comes upon lists of names, of whose owners he knows little or
nothing--men like Bassermann, the parliamentary debater, and Hansemann,
the financier, in their day famous members of the Parliament of
Frankfort, now forgotten--but from parts of it, without the assistance
of any commentary, he gains a vivid impression of men's feelings, of
their exalted frame of mind, in that year of revolution. Very affecting
is a final outburst, in which the poet bewails the want of men:

   "Ich seh' Gelehrte und Professoren
    Und Präsidenten und Assessoren,
    Weinküfer seh' ich und Redakteure
    Superintendenten und Accoucheure
    Und Börsenleute und Zeitungsschreiber,
    Astronomen und Steuereintreiber,
    Lumpenhändler und Alterthumskenner,
    Biedermänner, Hansemänner, Bassermänner--
    Allein wo sind die _Männer_, die _Männer?_ "[18]

When Hartmann wrote these words he was living on the shores of the Lake
of Geneva, a banished man, and the best men of Germany and Austria who
had survived the great discomfiture were either in prison or, like
himself, in exile.

1848 is a year of no decisive political significance, although it
was in this year that the old order of things was for the first time
disturbed simultaneously in almost every country of Europe. The
local revolutions of 1789 and 1830, whatever they resulted in, were
successful revolutions, but the general European revolution of 1848 was
nothing in any single country but an unsuccessful attempt.

Yet 1848 is a year of great spiritual significance. After it men
feel and think and write quite otherwise than they did before it. In
literature it is the red line of separation that divides our century
and marks the beginning of a new era. It was a year of jubilee, like
that instituted by the old Hebrew law, that fiftieth year, in which
the trumpet was to be sounded throughout all the land, which was to be
hallowed, and in which liberty was to be proclaimed "throughout all the
land unto all the inhabitants thereof" (Lev. xxv. 8, &c). This year,
with its quick heart-beat, its all-subduing youthful ardour, was, like
that Bible year of jubilee, a year of returning into possession, a year
of redemption, in which "they that had been sold were redeemed again."
To this day we imbibe youthful enthusiasm from its days of March and
learn important lessons from its days of November.

It is the year of jubilee, the year of mourning, the boundary year.

[1] 'Twas in the mountains the first shot was fired--in the mountains,
against the priests! That shot loosened the avalanche--three countries
sprang to arms! Switzerland can already rest on her laurels; the
eternal mountains are trembling to their centres with joy.

The sport soon spread to Italy--Scylla and Charybdis, Vesuvius and
Etna broke loose; explosion upon explosion, blow upon blow!' "This is
becoming serious, my royal, my imperial brother!" is the message from
Vienna to Berlin, from Berlin to Vienna; even Nick begins to tremble.

And now the paving-stones are once more torn up, the stones of those
streets on to which ere now two kings have been ruthlessly flung by
armed liberty.

[2] In front of the castle in threatening line stand the cannon,
awaiting the word of command--the gates are shuddering and
yielding--the moment has come, brave gunner!

Forward to the muzzle he goes, as if the order had been to stop the
mouths of the destroyers; fearlessly he cries: "First me, then the
defenceless citizen!"--No farther command is given. Thou hast shamed
them! All thanks to thee, brave gunner!

[3] Frhr. von Helfert: _Wiener Parnass im Jahre_ 1848.

[4] The press is free! Peal the bells! sound the glad tidings far and
wide! Proclaim to the farthest-off of Germany's sons: The press is
free, the ramparts of liberty are stormed!

[5] All hail to thee, my Emperor! Full of joy in their accomplished
work, thy people greet thee, whom they have always known to be of noble

[6] As your swords leap from their scabbards, let a song, O my
brothers, come from your hearts! Let the song of songs resound through
your rejoicing ranks--bright as burnished armour, clear as ringing
steel, the song of the Garde-National!

[7] Let the black draperies flutter in the wind, and let a sad lament
resound for those who have laid down their lives in the cause of

[8] Ye have rightly understood the nature of liberty; we cannot half
possess her; if we but let her little finger be taken from us, she will
soon be gone. That little finger is our honour. Who lets that go knows
not what honour is. Therefore with strong arms and good swords ye have
defended it.


    In secret hiding-place and gloom
      Long time we have concealed it;
    But now at last the day is come,
      The day that has revealed it.
    Ha! how the smoke is round it rolled!
    Hurrah! thou Black and Red and Gold!
             Powder is black,
             Blood is red,
             Golden glows the flame!

[10] _Des deutschen Volkes Erhebung im Jahre_ 1848, _sein Kampf um
freie Institutionen und sein Siegesjubel._ Von J. Lasker und Fr.
Gerhard. Danzig, 1848.

[11] Eine Rotte von Bösewichtern, meist aus Fremden bestehend, die sich
seit einer Woche, obgleich aufgesucht, doch zu verbergen gewusst haben,
haben diesen Umstand im Sinne ihrer argen Pläne durch augenscheinliche
Lüge verdreht und die erhitzten Gemüther von vielen meiner treuen und
lieben Berliner mit Rachegedanken um vermeintlich vergossenes Blut
erfullt und sind so die greulichen Urheber von Blutvergiessen geworden.

[12] _Des deutschen Volkes Erhebung_, p. 54. Varnhagen: _Tagebücher_,
Adolf Streckfuss: _Erinnerungen aus dem Jahre_ 1848; _Der Zeitgeist_,
1889, Nr. 51.


  With bullets through and through our breast--our forehead
    split with spike and spear,
  So bear us onward shoulder-high, laid dead upon a blood-stained bier;
  Yea, shoulder-high above the crowd, that on the man that bade us die,
  Our dreadful death-distorted face may be a bitter curse for aye;
  That he may see it day and night, or when he wakes or when he sleeps,
  Or when he opes his holy book, or when with wine high revel keeps;
  That ever like a scorching brand that sight his secret soul may burn;
  That he may ne'er escape its curse, nor know to whom for aid to turn;
  That always each disfeatured face, each gaping wound his sight may sear,
  And brood above his bed of death, and curdle all his blood with fear!


The big, incredulous town of Berlin has become the home of miracles.
For two whole days they have been shooting, storming, burning there
without a pause; thousands are lying in the bloody dust. The King
is distressed by what has occurred; he says: "The guns went off of
themselves; the whole has been a misunderstanding."

In the old, incredulous town of Berlin strange tricks are being played;
a King decks himself in black, red, and gold, and declares himself to
be the leader of Germany, the arch-demagogue, chosen of heaven to bring
about German unity. But Germany only laughs and shouts: "This is a

[15] Then the last of the faithful, who had remained true to their
saviour, scattered to the four winds of heaven, to proclaim the word
of salvation, knowing full well that what awaited them was exile and
poverty, want and suffering, torture, imprisonment, and death. "The
word of salvation will survive them"; note this, ye slaves, ye bloody
hordes: The word has become flesh, has become God.

[16] Rest peacefully, rest well, my Robert! No need is there for us
to wish that light upon thy breast may lie the blood-drenched earth
of Vienna, the soil thy valour captured. Thou art not dead, despite
the loud laments and songs of mourning of the German people.... From
mouth to mouth spreads the report: "Our Robert lives, that Robert Blum
the tyrants shot"--and every German heart beats high. That precious
blood has not been shed; hope whispers in our ears: "The tri-coloured
standard is trailed in the dust, but Germany is not lost."... He is
with us everywhere! With his spirit hands he turns back the bullets, or
receives them in his breast--these bullets rained on us by our paternal
rulers.... A wanderer he, until the German people have released
themselves from the betrayer's grip, until he has cleared the sacred
land of his fathers, of princes and of priests.


   In this same city of Cologne, 'mid moaning winds of winter wild,
   To-day in deepest organ-tones resounds the grave-song of this child.
   'Tis not the mother bow'd in grief who sings it o'er her fallen son;
   Nay, all Cologne bewails the death of him whose toil too soon is done.
   With solemn woe the city speaks: Thou who didst bear the noble dead,
   Remain to weep within thy home, and bow to earth thine aged head;
   I also am his mother! Yea, and yet a mightier one than I,
   I and the Revolution's self, for whom he laid him down to die.
   Stay thou within and nurse thy woe. 'Tis we will do him honour here;
   'Tis we will watch and requiem sing for thy dead son upon his bier.
     . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
   Why grasp ye not your swords in wrath, O ye that sing and ye that pray?
   Ye organ-pipes, to trumpets turn, and fight the scoundrels with your
   And din into their dastard ears the dreadful news of sudden death,
   Those scoundrels who the order gave, the cruel murder dared to do--
   The hero leant him on his knee in that autumnal morning's dew,
   Then silent fell upon his face in blood--'tis eight short days ago--
   Two bullets smote him on the breast, and laid his head for ever low.

[18] I see scientists and professors, presidents and assessors,
wine merchants and editors, superintendents and accoucheurs; I see
financiers and journalists; I see astronomers and tax-collectors,
rag merchants and antiquarians; I see Messrs. Biedermann, Hansemann,
Bassermann--but where are the _men_, the _men?_



It is a mighty panorama, this, which the study of the feelings and
thoughts of Germany, first oppositionist, then revolutionary, between
1815 and 1848, unrolls to our view. We see the spirit of Metternich,
a spirit of shallowness, brooding over Austria and the whole of
Germany. We follow the new intellectual movement from the time when it
first finds expression at the Wartburg Festival in 1817. We see how
the assassination of Kotzebue gives occasion to the open persecution
of Liberalism and introduces a long period of ruthless reaction and
oppression, during which Goethe is regarded as the Quietist foe of
liberty and lauded or denounced as such, and German philosophy under
the auspices of Hegel becomes, in a rather questionable manner,
conservative. The oppositionist tendency finds occasional expression in
the writings of poets like Chamisso, Platen, and Heine, but the general
intellectual condition is one of depression, relieved by outbursts of
self-ridicule. The state of stagnation is put an end to by the news
of the Revolution of July 1830, which electrifies public feeling and
gives both poets and prose writers new courage and fresh inspiration.
The remembrance of Byron's life and death influences men in the same
direction, and the Polish revolt awakens sympathy and enthusiasm in
spite of the part that Germany takes in the annihilation of Poland as
a nation. Börne becomes the most eminent advocate of Liberalism in
politics, holds high the banner of liberty and justice, shows a noble
example in the matter of strength of character and conviction, but at
the same time displays a naïve and fanatical optimism which proves
that his is not the temperament required in a statesman. In Heine, the
greatest poet of the period, we feel the vibration of its every nerve.
In him modern poetry casts off the swaddling-clothes of Romanticism.
In love, in appreciation of nature, in his political, social, and
religious views, in his descriptive, poetic, and satiric style, he is
the man of our own day--fitter, as we pointed out, than any other to
grapple with modern life in its hardness and ugliness, its charm and
its restlessness, and its wealth of violent contrasts. About the same
time, in a different and yet kindred manner, Immermann, in his best
book, marks the transition to a more realistic style of art.

The Revolution of July had not only changed the tone of literature,
it had also altered the character of the Hegelian philosophy, which
from this time onwards is to be regarded as one of the strongest
influences in the revolutionising of men's conception of life; from
the doctrines of the master who died such a strong Conservative, his
pupils draw reformatory or revolutionary inferences and principles.
And now, with the echoes of the Revolution of July sounding in their
ears, appear a group of young authors; they are influenced by the
philosophy of Hegel and the poetry of Goethe, this last interpreted as
anti-Christian; Heine and Börne are their masters, Rahel and George
Sand their muses; they come to be known by the name of Young Germany.
They desire to assimilate literature with life, to subvert existing
religious and moral doctrines, to introduce a freer morality in the
matter of marriage and divorce and a new species of pantheistic piety.
The impeachment of these men by Menzel in 1835 is the signal for a
new series of persecutions directed against all that in that day went
by the name of the literature of movement (Bewegungslitteratur). Very
few of the representatives of the young generation show strength of
character when thus put to the test, but both the highly gifted men
(Gutzkow) and those of moderate ability (Laube, &c.) develop their
talents amidst these persecutions, and works are produced which
accurately mirror the hopes and struggles of the age, the thoughts and
feelings, temptations, mistakes, and victories of the individual.

Between the years 1830 and 1840 something has been happening quietly,
deep down in men's minds--Goethe's poetry and Goethe's philosophy of
life, at first championed exclusively by enthusiastic women, have been
steadily gaining influence over the cultivated, making them proof
against theological impressions but receptive to all great human ideas.
The cult of Goethe leads by degrees, even in the case of women, to the
cult of political liberty and social reform.

In 1840 German philosophy begins to develop in the direction of
Radicalism, and the poets begin openly to advocate the cause of
political liberty. The men of this new generation, too, owe their
philosophic training to Hegel, but they have metamorphosed his doctrine
into an atheistical, anti-monarchical doctrine. They regard the
standpoint of Young Germany with contempt as being purely belletristic,
and busy themselves with the nature of Christianity and the idea of the

On the throne of Prussia at this juncture sits a king with a curiously
complex character and many talents, a typical transition figure,
whose personality, especially in its relation to the literature and
intellectual life of the day, is of great interest. In the south of
Germany it is Metternich, in the north it is Frederick William IV., who
outwardly regulates the course of events. We see literary and political
celebrities being attracted by him, coming into collision with him,
and rebounding from him. The invalids of literature, men like Tieck
and Schelling, pass their last days under his protection; Herwegh
and Freiligrath are first attracted and then repelled by him; Jacoby
attacks him, Dingelstedt ridicules him.

And now we follow the development of political poetry, from its founder
Anastasius Grün to Herwegh and Dingelstedt, observing what a deep
impression such a thinker as Ludwig Feuerbach makes on the intellectual
life of his contemporaries. Men like Freiligrath and Prutz, Sallet and
Hartmann, are the petrels that foretell the storm; in 1848 we hear
the song of certain gifted poets high above the roar of the political
hurricane, and we also notice that these unexampled occurrences
transform men of minor or undeveloped talent into organs of the great
movement of the hour.

During our study of this fragment of literary history we have passed
in review a whole gallery of remarkable figures, devoting careful
attention to the most important or most typical.

We saw how Napoleon's great personality, in its legendary form,
exercised almost as powerful an influence on men's minds as Byron's.
Of the great intellectual forces of the eighteenth century, Goethe,
Jean Paul, Heinse, and Hegel are those by which our period is most
perceptibly influenced. Some of the Romanticists influence as
teachers and masters (Wilhelm Schlegel, Brentano, Chamisso), others
as antagonists (Tieck). Börne and Heine, geniuses of most dissimilar
types, by virtue of that polemical quality which was an essential
characteristic of both, influence the whole period.

What a wealth of remarkable, original characters! Glance at our gallery
of women--Rahel and Bettina, the friends of Goethe; Börne's friends,
Henrietta Herz and Jeannette Wohl; Heine's La Mouche, Immermann's
Elisa, and Princess Pückler and Charlotte Stieglitz--gifted women
and devoted wives! Or let your eyes wander over our collection of
male portraits--authors and men of the world, like Varnhagen and
Pückler; stiff, stately figures, like Platen and Immermann; others
that are all life and fire, like Börne and Heine; manly eccentrics,
like Jacoby; kingly figures, like Feuerbach; grimacing fanatics, like
Menzel; independent poets great and small, like Rückert, Hebbel,
Ludwig, and Scherenberg; agitators, like Wienbarg and Gutzkow; men of
pliant talent, like Laube and Mundt; weak desponders, like Stieglitz;
bold singers of liberty, like Hoffmann and Freiligrath; immature
characters, like Herwegh; problematic characters, like Dingelstedt and
Meissner; brave men, like Sallet, Hartmann, and Prutz. Even when their
productions are not of the highest quality, we study the men themselves
with interest.

       *       *       *       *       *

And yet what is presented in this volume can only be fully understood
by those who read it in its connection with the earlier volumes of the
work of which it forms a part, who regard it in the light of the last
act of a great historic drama. The plan of the work is indicated in the
introduction to the first volume, and is strictly adhered to throughout
all six.

The author's intention, as explained in the first lines of his work,
was, by means of the study of certain main groups and main movements
in European literature, to outline a psychology of the first half
of the nineteenth century. The year 1848, which, as a historical
turning-point, marks a conclusion for the time being, was indicated as
the point to which he intended to pursue his subject. The six groups
which, according to the original plan, have been portrayed, are, the
French Emigrant Literature, German Romanticism, the French Reaction,
English Naturalism, French Romanticism, and Young Germany. Each one
of the six parts of the work has in the course of years either been
re-written or revised.

The author's first proceeding was to separate and classify the chief
literary movements of the first half of the century, his next to find
their general direction or law of progression, a starting point, and a
central point.

The direction he discovered to be a great rhythmical ebb and flow--the
gradual dying out and disappearing of the ideas and feelings of the
eighteenth century until authority, the hereditary principle, and
ancient custom once more reigned supreme, then the reappearance of the
ideas of liberty in ever higher mounting waves. The starting point
was now self-evident, namely, the group of French literary works
denominated the Emigrant Literature, the first epoch-making one of
which bears the date 1800. The central point was equally unmistakable.
From the literary point of view it was Byron's death, from the
political that Greek war of liberation in which he fell. This double
event is epoch-making in the intellectual life and the literature
of the Continent. The concluding point was also clearly indicated,
namely, the European revolution of 1848. Byron's death forming the
central point of the work, the school of English literature to which
he belongs, became as it were the hinge on which it turned. The main
outlines now stood out clearly: the incipient reaction in the case of
the emigrants, held in check by the revolutionary ideas still in vogue;
the growth of the reaction in the Germany of the Romanticists; its
culmination and triumph during the first year of the Restoration in
France; the turn of the tide discernible in what is denominated English
Naturalism; the change which takes place in all the great writers of
France shortly before the Revolution of July, a change which results
in the formation of the French Romantic school; and, lastly, the
development in German literature which issues in the events of March

It is self-evident that the standpoint here adopted is a personal
one. It is the personal point of view, the personal treatment, which
presents literary personages and works thus grouped and ordered, thus
contrasted, thus thrown into relief or cast into shadow. Regarded
impersonally, the literature of a half-century is nothing but a chaos
of hundreds of thousands of books in many languages.

The personal standpoint is not, however, an arbitrary one. It has
been the author's aim to do justice, as far as in him lay, to every
single person and phenomenon he has described. No attempt has been made
to fit any of them into larger or smaller places than they actually
occupied. It is no whim or preconceived intention of the author that
has given the work its shape. The power which has grouped, contrasted,
thrown into relief or suppressed, lengthened or shortened, placed in
full light, in half light, or in shadow, is none other than that never
entirely conscious power to which we usually give the name of art.


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