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Cornell University Library 
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History of German literature. 


^ 1924 026 076 525 
















The work on which the following pages are based has 
reached a sixth edition within a short period of time, 
and enjoys a high reputation in Germany. That por- 
tion which treats of the Heroic Sagas is considered 
superior to anything that has been written on the sub- 
ject. Its author, Vilmar, held an office in the Depart- 
ment of Public Worship and Education, under the 
notorious Hessian minister, Hassenpflug. According 
to the German papers, he belongs to that party in 
Germany which stands up for the national Luther- 
anism as opposed to the foreign Calvinism. These 
views, which Vilmar advocated with great vigour, 
excited odium in some quarters ; and on the disgrace 
and downfall of Hassenpflug, Vilmar's retirement was 
greeted with loud jubilee by the democrats, who stig- 
matised him as a tyrant and represser of national 
liberty. Since then, he has been Professor of Theology 
at Marburg. In many respects, Vilmar's work (which, 
it is only fair to say, exhibits no leaning towards 
despotism, civil or ecclesiastical) surpasses those of 
his predecessors on the same subject. With more 
enthusiasm for his theme, and a fresher style than 
Gervinus, he is less minute and matter-of-fact than 


Koberstein, though sufficiently so for a foreign 

StUlj with all its excellences, the Editor of the fol- 
lowing pages felt convinced that the German work 
would not suit the English reader in the shape of a 
regular translation. It is in vain to deny it ; but any- 
thing approaching to a faithful translation from the 
German is distasteful to English readers. The idioms 
of the two languages cannot be made to correspond. 
The ways of thought, too, of the two nations are as 
diverse as the poles asunder. "While the Englishman, 
rather than get too deep, becomes at times superficial, 
the German literati are often so profound that they stir 
up the mud at the bottom, and become obscure. It 
may be that Germany is the officina, where half the 
thought of Europe is elaborated; but this officina is 
like the workshop of the ingenious mechanic, which 
contains many useful articles mixed up with articles 
of no use at all. That great padlock, for instance, vast 
and ponderous, hanging before the door, which is a 
mere dummy ; this knife, with 365 blades, which can 
be of no practical use ; this snuff-box, out of which 
springs a miniature bird and warbles pleasantly, but not 
half so well as a real feathered songster ; this complex 
machine for measuring the height of the clouds, which 
can only be properly used when the experimenter is 
himself in nuhibus. A German period is often like an 
Indian army, with its baggage train, its cooks, its 
bearers, its what-not, all clogging the free motion of 
the advancing force. Instead of keeping along the 


high road of thought, a German writer must dive every 
moment into a side lane, so that, besides the main idea 
of a sentence, we are introduced to all its cousins- 
German and distant relatives. These may be very inte- 
resting people indeed, but we get positively tired of the 
multitudinous family. The very best German learned 
writers — it is of them exclusively that we venture to 
make these remarks — keep a sort of circumlocution office. 
With a language approaching to the Greek in flexibility, 
they make it appear to the very worst advantage. Bishop 
Hoadly's "periods of a mile" were as nothing to Ger- 
man sentences in length and involution. In fact, to 
render a German work available to the English public, 
an Englishman must bring to bear upon it something 
like a Berdoe's quartz-crushing machine ; pulverise the 
huge mass, and disintegrate it, in order to get at the 
residuum of really fine gold. On comparing this 
English volume with the original, it will be found 
that the Editor has had recourse to this kind of expe- 
dient, getting rid, as much as possible, of the earthy 
particles, and using rather violent measures to ac- 
complish this, but retaining to the best of his power 
the fine metal, of which there was rich abundance. 

With regard to the scope of Vilmar's work, it will 
be sufficient to say that the Author has by no means 
followed an exhaustive process, or given a history of 
each and all of the different literary products of Ger- 
many. On the contrary, he has confined his attention 
for the most part to those works which, in subject- 
matter and form, seem to reflect most faithfully the 


national characteristics of, his countrymen, in their 
mode of thought, their inner life, their manners, and 
the spirit of each succeeding age. 

With this object, he has mainly, as might have been 
expected, addressed himself to the poetical works — 
especially the earlier ones — of Germany, as best illus- 
trating these various matters. 

It is a remarkable fact, and one which has often 
been lost sight of, that at a very remote period Ger- 
many possessed a grand national Epic. Long before 
Tasso and Ariosto, Dante, or Petrarch, or Shakespeare, 
let alone Goethe or Schiller, were thought of, Ger- 
many had poets like Walther von der Vogelweide 
and Wolfram von Eschenbach, and Epics such as 
"Gudrun" and the " Nibelungenlied.'' 

Vilmar divides his history into three periods : — 
I. The Oldest Period, 
II. The Old Period. 
III. The New Period. 

The First of these Periods he makes to commence 
at the middle of the fourth century, and go down to the 
year 1150. During this period occurred the struggle 
between Heathenism and Christianity. 

The Second Period reaches from 1150 to 1624. 
During this period we see German Nationalism amal- 
gamated with Christianity into one harmonious 

, This Period is classed by the author under the fol- 
lowing subdivisions : — 

1. The Period of Preparation, 1150— 1190. 


2. The Classical Period, or Period of National Epic 
and the Minnesingers, 1190 — 1300, when German 
literature reached its zenith. 

3. The Period of the decay and decadence of Poetry, 
1300 — 1517 (about) ; the period when the E.eformation 
may be said to have commenced. 

4. The Period of the struggle between the new ideas 
and the old notions, when foreign culture was ousting 
national cultui'e, 1517 — 1624. 

The New Period begins in 1624, when German 
Christian elements were now thoroughly interpene- 
trated and amalgamated with foreign elements. 

To this Period he also assigns a threefold sub- 
division : — 

1. The Period when the foreign domineered over the 
domestic; the age of learned poetry, 1624 — 1720, i.e. 
from Opitz to the first appearance of Bodmer. 

2. The preparation of a new state of independence, 

3. The Second Classical Period, beginning with 
Klopstock, and ending 22d March 1832, the day of 
Goethe's death. 

With regard to the two volumes now presented to 
the English public, it will be proper to state that it 
was thought best that this work and the companion 
one by Professor Max Miiller should be in two distinct 
volumes ; so that the English narrative might not be 
broken by the interposition of lengthy passages from 
the writings of the authors described. 

The march of the story in the first volume, descrip- 


tive of each succeeding author, his times, &c., will be 
found to keep pace with the successive specimens of 
their works exhibited in the second. 

While the second volume is a spacious gallery lined 
with a long vista of carefully selected works of art of 
various degrees of merit, with the date and name of 
each author appended to the frames — from the " Mbe- 
lungenlied " and " Gudrun," by the Cimabues and 
Giottos of the bright dawn of German literary art, to 
Schiller and Goethe, its Angelos and Titians, — the 
first volume is a sort of catalogue raisonne, showing 
when and where and how the individual writers lived 
and moved and had their being; — what schools they 
founded or belonged to; the character and scope of 
their works ; their influence upon their age, its customs, 
manners, and habits of thought; and the influence it, 
in its turn, exercised upon them. 

By this method of arrangement it is hoped that the 
twin works will prove more comprehensive and clear, 
and therefore more useful and instructive, than any on 
the same subject that have appeared in this country. 

It only remains to add, that the notes have been 
removed from the end of the book to the foot of the 
page to which they refer. 

Lincoln College, Oxford, May, 1858, 



The Oldest Pebiod - .... i 

The Old Pbbiod -----. 28 

The New Pbeiod --.--- 310 

Schools - - - - - .318 

Eomance .-..-- 350 

Gottsched - - - - - - 362 

Klopstock . - - - - - 391 

Goethe - - - - - - 431 




The translation of the Bible by the Gothic Bishop 
Ulfilas is the most ancient monument of German lite- 
rature in existence. Between it and all subsequent 
literary productions there is an interval of at least 
three hundred years. Upon this work a science en- 
tirely modern has been constructed, namely, that of 
German etymology and historical grammar. Indeed, 
the comprehension not only of the old High German, 
but also of the middle High German poems depends in 
a great measure upon a knowledge of Gothic. 

Ulfilas was bishop of the Western Goths, and died 
A.D. 388, in the seventieth year of his age*, after crown- 

* Professor G. Waitz found in a manuscript, belonging most probably 
to the fourth century, and preserved in Paris, some polemical obser- 
Tations of a certain Arian bishop, Maximinus, against the Council of 
AquUeia (a.d. 381). In this book, which must have been committed to 
■writing before the year 397, there was inserted an independent treatise 
by Bishop Auxentius, of Dorostor (Silistria), upon the life of Ulfilas. 



ing his faithful labours as a Christian instructor by 
the translation of the Bible into Gothic. According 
to tradition, the only parts of It which he did not 
translate were the Books of Kings and Chronicles, 
for fear of rousing thereby the martial propensities of 
his people. 

For the prosecution of this work there Is some reason 
to suppose that he invented a peculiar alphabet, partly 
Old German, partly borrowed from the Greek. For 
centuries this production was held in high estimation 
by the West Goths, as they advanced first into Italy, 
and then Into Spain ; and Its language was still under- 
stood as late as the ninth century. After this it was 
lost ; and all that was known of it was from the noticea 

In his earliest years Auxentins was entrusted by his parents to TJlfilas, 
who instructed him in the Bible. See G. Waitz, " Ueber das Leben und 
die Lehre des Ulfila. Hannover, 1 840." Up to this period ( 1 840) people 
had not got beyond the indistinct surmise that TJlfilas was bishop, and 
wrote his work between 360 and 380 (see Gabelentz et Loebe Ulfilag, 
" Teteris et Novi Testamenti Versionis Gothics Eragmenta quae super- 
sunt," &c., 1836 and 1843, Proleg. p. 1). But we leam from Auxentius' 
account, that TJlfilas was consecrated bishop of the Goths in the year 

The Gospels were first published from the Silver Codex by Franz 
Junius, Dordrecht, 1665, and frequently afterwards. In 1805, at 
Weiszenfcls, by Zahn, together with the fragments discovered by Knittel 
at Wolfenbiittel. The Pauline Epistles, by Mai and Castiglioni, Milan, 
1819-1839, and a Gothic exposition of the Gospel of St. John, under the 
title " Slteireins," by Massmann, in 1 834. The above cited work of Gabe- 
lentz and Loebe contains all the memorials of the Gothic language. 
Comp. Massmann, Gothica Minora in Haapt's " Zeitschrift fiir das 
deutsche Alterthum," 1, 294, seq. 

It has been photographed by Dr. Leo, of Berlin ; and a new edition 
has lately appeared at Berlin by Professor Massmann, with a literal 
rendering into Greek and Latin notes, a vocabulary, and an historical 
introduction. — Editor. 


of Greek ecclesiastical writers, who stated that a trans- 
lation of the Bible had once been made by a certain 
Ulfilas. Six hundred years had elapsed when, towards 
the close of the sixteenth century, one Arnold Mer- 
cator, a Belgian geometrician in the service of Wilhelm 
IV., Landgrave of Hessia, spread abroad the rumour 
that a very ancient German translation of the four 
Gospels, written on parchment, was to be found in the 
abbey of Werden. This precious MS. subsequently got 
to Prague, and upon the capture of that city by Count 
Konigsmark, a.d. 1648, was conveyed to Sweden, 
where it is still preserved in the library of Upsala, 
under the name of the Codex Argenteus. The letters 
are written in silver upon purple vellum; and the 
whole is bound in silver by the generosity of the 
Swedish Marshal Lagardie. Two hundred and fifty 
years later, viz., a.d. 1818, the Epistles of St. Paul, 
translated by Ulfilas, were discovered by Cardinal Mai 
and Count Castiglioni in the monastery of Bobbio in 
Lombardy. Of the translation of the Old Testament 
nothing but a few lines remain. The language of this 
venerable relic is the mother of the present High- 
German, as it is called ; which, if superior to its pro- 
genitor in the flexibility and flow of its sentences, is 
vastly inferior to it in the purity and euphony of its 
vowels, its grammatical strictness, the wealth and 
fulness of its forms, variety and accuracy of expression; 
and above all, in point of earnestness and dignity. It 
was when this work was drawn to light, after being 
hidden for a thousand years, and not before, that people 
began to obtain a true insight into the German language. 



.Of the many who have investigated this most per- 
fect and most interesting language, Jacob Grrimm haa 
shown himself to be the interpreter most worthy of the 

With this short preamble we shall proceed to 
describe the commencement of German Poetry. 

Julian the Apostate relates that he heard the 
Germans on the Rhine singing their national songs, 
and that these sounded to him just like the cries of 
screaming birds of prey. Following him, many of the 
moderns, especially Adelung, the compiler of the well- 
known German Dictionary, have been of opinion that 
early German poetry, like the people themselves, was 
essentially rude and barbarous, and only attained to a 
higher perfection as the people progressed in civilisa- 
tion. But this opinion is a wrong one. It is at the 
outset of a people's existence as a nation that its poetry 
is always most noble and most natural. When, in 
the course of ages, the poetry of a nation has used up 
its most ancient materials, when it begins to grow tired 
of itself, and to cast about at random for some new 
theme instead of taking that which is most obvious 
and natural, when the popular taste has become vitiated 
by intellectual over-refinement, — then it is that a peo- 
ple's poetry is in danger of sinking into barbarism and 

Traditions have come down to us from the very 
earliest times of lays current in ancient Germany in 
honour of her kings and victorious heroes. According 
to Tacitus, the Germans celebrated in songs, which 
were ancient even in his time, the praises, of Tuisco, 


the son of Earth, and his son Mannus ; they had battle 
hymns in honour of the God of War or of Victory, 
whom that author calls Hercules, but who was probably 
the God Sachsnot, or Ziu. And lastly, he relates how 
that Arminius, the liberator of Northern Germany, 
and his "victory over Varus in the Teutoburg Forest, 
were still renowned in song one hundred years after 
that event. But all these songs disappeared together 
with the Cheruscan tribe to whom they belonged : and 
it was reserved for a Roman to preserve the memory 
of Arminius to his country. The old heroic songs of 
the Gothic Kings, Berig and Filumer, which still existed 
among that people in the sixth century, and from which 
all their ancient history is derived, have likewise dis- 

Two legends, however, of heathen times, and dating 
as far back, at least, as the fourth century, are still 
extant. One of these is the Heroic-Saga, or Mythus 
of Sigfried, the Dragon Slayer, or the Horny * Sig- 
fried ; the other is the Animal-Saga of Eeynard the 
Fox and Isegrim the Wolf, both of which have lived 
on in unimpaired vitality through centuries ; and have 
been worked up into regular poems by some of the 
greatest poets. The story of Sigfried, the bright hero, 
who, while still a boy, forged his mighty sword, Bal- 
mung, at the traitorous smith's in the depths of the 
primseval forest, who slew the gold- guarding dragon 
Frasnir, liberated the Valkyre Brunhild from the ever- 

* Sigfried bathed in the Wood of the dragon, and his skin thereby 
became hard as horn, except in one spot, where a leaf intervened. — 

B 3 


flaming castle, and perished by treachery in the midst 
of his blazing career of glory — evidently refers to a 
period when German heathenism still subsisted in aU 
its natural vigour, and the tranquil days of old were 
as yet undisturbed by the so-called migration of the 
nations. Impelled by this latter movement, the Saga 
was borne from Germany to the kindred countries of 
the north, to Norway and Iceland, where it was pre- 
served in its old mythic shape ; while in the country 
of its birth, it lost, under the modifying influences of 
Christianity, most of its heathen and mythic character. 
Thus metamorphosed, it forms the first part of the 
" Nibelungenlied," of which more hereafter. 

The Saga of Reynard the Fox and Isegrim the Wolf 
is clearly one, which could only have originated when 
a people was in a state of primaeval simplicity, and 
when man and beast lived together in child-like famili- 
arity. But in the name used for the fox we have a 
striking proof that this must have been the case, and 
that the Francs of the fifth century must have brought 
this Saga with them over the Rhine to France ; for the 
fox is called in the Saga Reginhart (i.e. the prudent 
counsellor, the cunning), which has been modernized 
into Reinhart, or the Low German diminutive, Reineke. 
And this old German name, Reinhart, or Reynard, has 
entirely superseded the old French name of the beast, 
Goupil. But this never could have taken place except 
at a period when the language of the Francs was 
the prevailing language of Gaul, and when the mean- 
ing of the word (Reinhart) was still perfectly current, 


which ceased to be the case, in Germany at least, as 
early as the eighth century. 

When the nations began to migrate, heroes of greater 
and greater renown march into the scene of song. 
First come the Kings of the East Goths of the 
Amalian line, Ermanarich and his nephew, called in 
history Theodoric the Great, and in the Saga Die- 
trich of Bern, after Sigfrid, the most renowned of the 
German heroes. Then the race of the Wolfings, 
Dietrich's vassals; the most conspicuous of whom 
are Dietrich's aged retainer, Hildebrand, and his 
son Hadubrand. After these follow the Burgun- 
dian Kings, Gunther, Gieselher, and Gemot, with 
their sister Kriemhild, the virgin full of grace and 
modesty, the devoted wife, the widow bloodthirsty 
and revengeful; and in her train, the grim and 
terrible, yet withal noble, Hagen of Tronei, with his 
grey hair and fierce countenance. Then we have 
Attila, King of the Huns, called Etzel in the Saga, 
Among his attendants is the Margrave Eudiger of 
Bechlarn, the most profound creation of German 
feeling, who has gone through the double struggle, 
first of soul then of body. And, lastly, Walther of 
Wasichenstein or of Aquitaine, who fled from Attila 
with Hildegunde, his betrothed, and in his flight had 
the terrible contest with the king of the Burgun- 
dians at Wasichenstein (the Vosges). Besides these 
there are from the North of Germany, Hettel, king of 
the Frieses or Hegelings, with his daughter Gudrun, 
the faithful bride ; also the Stormarn or Danish King, 

B 4 


Horant, the sweet singer, with his uncle Wate, the 
hero with the ell-broad beard, who rages in battle like 
a wild boar, with his rolling eyes and gnashing tusks. 
On the other side are the Norman Kings Ludwig 
and Hartmut, and, lastly, Beovulf, king of the Jutes, 
whose Saga the Angles carried over to Britain in the 
fifth century, where it was committed to writing in 
the eighth. 

We know from numerous testimonies that as early 
as the sixth, seventh, and eighth centuries bold tuneful 
songs passed from mouth to mouth, descriptive of these 
heroes, their deeds, and their fortunes. 

In the halls of kings, and in the chambers where the 
heroes sat, minstrels sang these well-known lays, the 
crowd of guests accompanying the strain. Many of 
these compositions were written down by the monks, 
partly as a pastime, partly by way of grammatical 
exercise. Thus, in the year 821, the monastery of 
Eeichenau, on the Lake of Constance, possessed twelve 
of them. Eginhard relates that Charlemagne caused 
a collection of them to be made ; but all the efforts 
that have been made for centuries to discover these 
collections have hitherto been unsuccessful. 

It is true that we do possess these lays in another 
shape ; but this is in the modern version of the thir- 
teenth century, and not in the ancient form of the eighth 
and- ninth. Besides these, there are only three other 
pieces extant belonging to the ancient period. Of 
which only one is in the original Old High German, 
another is in a Latin translation, and the third is in the 
Anglo-Saxon tongue. None of these owe their preser- 


vatlon to the care of Charlemagne. On the contrary, 
it was by a lucky accident that the most important of 
the three, the poem of Hildebrand and his son Hadu- 
brandj has come down to us. It is written in Old High 
German, with an occasional tendency to the Low Ger- 
man dialect; and belongs to the cyclus of Sagas on 
Dietrich of Bern. The story is a kind of sequel to 
that of the Nibelungenlied, Dietrich, together with 
Hildebrand, has been thirty years from home in the 
land of the king of the Huns. He has now returned 
to his country after the great contest in which all the 
Burgundians, and, at last, Kriemhild herself, the lovely 
and terrible, the widow of Sigfrid and wife of Attila, 
have fallen. He has gained the victory also over 
Otacher (Odoacer), the leader of his domestic foes. 
Hildebrand is still his companion ; who, when he started 
from home, left behind him a young wife and infant 
son. This son is Hadubrand, now a doughty warrior, 
who, not knowing his father, advances to meet him as 
a foe. Hildebrand recognises his son, and seeks to 
deter him from the attack; but in vain. "Dead is 
Hildebrand, my sire, the son of Heriband," replies 
the youth ; " sailors have told me so, who came over 
the Wendelsee (Mediterranean sea)." Hildebrand un- 
winds his golden armlets, the fairest and most coveted 
ornaments of a German warrior, and oifers them to his 
son. But the stripling answers defiantly, " With the 
lance (Ger) must thy gifts be received : sword-point to 
sword-point. Thou art a sly old Hun, who seekest to 
entrap me to my ruin." "Alas! great God," cries 
Hildebrand, " woe is me. Sixty summers and winters 

B 5 


have I been a wanderer from home ; and now shall my 
dear son hew me with his sword, or else I be his mur- 
derer. Yet craren were he, most craven of the men of 
Ostland (the East-Goths), who should withhold thee 
from the strife thou so lustest for." Hereupon father 
and son first hurled their lances of ash, fixing them 
deeply the one into the other's shield. Then the shield- 
splitters rush on each other, hewing so fiercely with 
their brands, that the linden-wood shields grow smaller 
and smaller at each stroke. Here the poem, which is 
unfortunately only a fragment, breaks off. The re- 
mainder of the story still exists, it is true, but not in 
the same antique shape. Seven hundred years later, 
viz., at the end of the fifteenth century, this epic legend, 
which had been passed on from mouth to mouth, was 
again versified with some success by a popular poet, 
Kaspar V^on der Roen, under the title of" Der Vater mit 
dem Sohne " (the Father and his Son). This poem, which 
wants the power of the original, is to be found in 
Wackernagel's and other collections. The upshot of 
the story was that the father conquered the son, and 
then both return to the lonely wife and mother. 

This poem, which, next to the work of Ulfilas, is the 
most remarkable remnant of the oldest German litera- 
ture, owes its preservation to two monks of the monas- 
tery of Fulda, who lived at the beginning of the ninth 
century. It is not unlikely that they had formerly 
been in the army, and that this was one of the remi- 
niscences of their secular days, which in their leisure 
hours they committed to writing. It is inscribed upon 
the blank pages at the beginning and end of a religious 
work, and is in two different hands, as if one had written 


and the other dictated it alternately. This rare manu- 
script has been preserved, since the thirty years' war, in 
the museum of Cassel.* 

The second specimen of that age, which, as aforesaid, 
ia only a Latin translation, dates from the beginning of 
the tenth century. It is a pithy and life-like history 
of Walther of Aquitaine, and his deadly contest with 
Gunthar, king of the Burgundians, and his men of 
war, in a defile of the Vosges, through which passed 
the ancient highway.f Twelve champions, one after 
another, attack the hero, and try to rob him of the trea- 
sures he had brought from the land of the Huns, and 
of Hildegund, his betrothed, who had escaped from 
Attila, by whom she had been detained as a hostage. 
Each struggle is depicted with much individuality and 
freshness. Each warrior wears different arms, and 
though Walther comes off conqueror in every case, yet 
each victory differs from the other; so that the interest 
is sustained throughout, down to his last tremendous 

* The " HildebrandsUed " was first printed in 1 729 by G. V. Eckhart, 
in his "Commentarii de Eebus IFrancise Orientalis,"i. pp. 864-902. But 
then, and long afterwards, it was looked upon as " a romance in prose," 
until at length, in 1812, the poetic form of alliteration was pointed out by 
the Brothers Grimm, " Die beiden altesten aUiterierenden Gedichte, das 
HildebrandsUed und das Wessobrunner Gebet." W. Grimm published 
an exact fac-simile of the MS. in 1830, in two folio leaves, while in 1833 
Lachmann edited, an acute and comprehensive explanation of the restored 
text. See " Histor.-philol. Abhandlungen der Berliner Academic der 
Wissenschaften," 1 835, pp. 1 23-1 62. Wilhelm Miiller has recently endea- 
voured to put this poem in the Strophe form. See Haupt's Zeitschr. iii. 
pp. 447-452. 

f Edited for the last time, and first explained by J. Grimm, in the 
"Lateinische Gedichte des 10 und 11 Jarh. von Grimm und Schmeller,'" 
1838, pp. 3-53, the explanations, pp. 64-126, and in the preface. 

B 6 


fight with Hagen of Tronei, with whom he had once 
lived as with a brother, at the court of Etzel. It is 
true that the contest bears an air of bloodthirstiness 
and rude ferocity. King Gunthar loses a foot, Walther 
a hand, Hagen an eye and some of his teeth; but when 
the fight is done and peace concluded, these mutilations 
give rise to much good-humoured jocularity among the 
combatants. Walther returns home to his father, 
Alphari, at Lengers, celebrates his marriage with Hilde- 
gund, and on the demise of the former reigns as king 
for thirty years. Many of these contests remind one of 
those in Homer. The conclusion of the poem, descrip- 
tive of how "Walther, all his battles over, ruled justly 
and lived tranquilly to the end of his days, finds no 
parallel in antique poetry, not even in the Odyssey. 
This peaceful end and aim of battles and expeditions is 
an essentially German idea. 

In the third and last heroic poem, the Anglo-Saxon 
Beovulf, we have a good specimen of the uncommon 
vigour exhibited by old German poetry in the descrip- 
tions of nature, and still more so in those of battles. 
Here are described the heroic deeds of Beovulf, kins: 
of the Jutes, and above all, his murderous fight with 
Grendel, the sea-monster, and his mother; and also his 
last contest with a dragon, in which he met his death. 
The piece abounds with episodes, one of which describes 
a known historical fact.* An extract has been pub- 

* Beovulf was first edited by Thorkelin, Copenhagen, 1815. Then 
by John M. Kemble. The Anglo-Saxon Poems of Beovulf, " The Tra- 
veller's Song," and "The Battle of Finnesburg," second edit. Lond., 1835, 
together with a translation of the Anglo-S. poem of Beovulf, with a 
copious glossary, 1837. The last edition is that by Thorpe; Parker 


lished by Professor Leo, and a bad translation of it hj 
Professor Etmiiller at ZiiricL 

We shall now proceed to give a general view of this 
most ancient heroic poetry. 

On the authority of Klopstock, a mythical notion 
sprung up, and for a long time prevailed in Germany, 
in the days when Ossian was the rage, that both the 
material and the form of this eldest poetry were the 
exclusive creation and possession of a school of bards. 
Suffice it to say, that there never was a minstrel caste, or 
a people called Bards, among the Germans. The thing, 
as well as the name, was purely Celtic. Poetry with the 
Germans was a national affair, and belonged not to in- 
dividuals, but to the whole people. It described what 
all had equally experienced, seen, and felt ; and when a 
poet stepped forward, it was not to describe a matter 
subjectively, i. e., as it affected his own feelings indivi- 
dually. On the contrary, he was only the favoured 
organ through which that which was the common poeti- 
cal property of the nation was expressed. What he 
said came home at once to the bosoms of all his hearersj 
and awoke their liveliest and deepest sympathies. The 
poets of those days did not labour after effect, in which 
the greatest s,trength of modern poetry consists. The 
Sagas above mentioned were not the result of indi- 
vidual invention. Some of them were the actual ex- 
periences of all the people ; as, for instance, that of 
Hildebrand and Hadubrand, which is clearly an his- 
torical transaction, the details of which, down to the 
very fact of a dialogue having been held, are perhaps 
a faithful record of what actually occurred. Others, 


again, were versions of occurrences commonly re- 
ceived and believed among the nation at large, at a 
period when there was no distinction between learned 
and unlearned, gentle and simple, but all, from the 
king to the humblest subject, spoke the same dialect, 
and were of the same way of thinking in all the essen- 
tial matters and customs of life. The term Poet (Dich- 
ter) used above is hardly correct. Singer (Sanger) is 
the word more applicable to those days, when the popu- 
lar ballads were not composed and written down {dich- 
ten, Latin dictare) by individuals, but lived on in the 
mouths of the people. In the royal halls the harp 
passed from hand to hand, and all could join in, at least 
in the most important passages. This singing together, 
which is a national characteristic of the Germans, is 
mentioned by Tacitus. 

The Danish king Hrodgar, in the poem of Beovulf, 
himself grasps the harp and sings the deeds of his 
fathers. Horant, the Stormarn king, in the poem of 
Gudrun, makes the castle, which he had entered as 
warrior and hero, re-echo with his lay ; while Volker, 
in the Nibelunglied, who yields to none in valour, sur- 
passes all in song and minstrelsy. This it was which 
added so much to the pathos and interest of the song. 
The minstrel was telling the story of his own life, the 
battles he had won, the dangers he had endured. Not 
but what there were also professional singers, who had 
rich store of sagas about the different German tribes, 
and who wandered from court to court, where they re- 
ceived a hearty welcome and ample guerdon. In fact, 
the name of one of these has come down to us, the 


blind Frisian, Bemlef, who was in the retinue of 
Ludger, Bishop of Miinster, about the year 800, All 
that is contended for is, that these strolling minstrels 
did not make their ballads, much less invent the mate- 
rials of them, but sung — as anybody else might and 
did sing — what was current in the living traditions of 
the people. 

The very form of the most ancient German poetry is 
in the most intimate accordance with its subject-matter. 
Even to this day German versification depends entirely 
upon the accent, and not upon the quantity, as was the 
case among the Greeks and Romans. But in ancient 
times this essential principle was carried out much more 
strictly than now. The verse was then jointed by 
means of the most important words in it. These words 
were, so to say, the supports of the line, and were 
therefore called song staves (Liedstabe), corresponding 
to one another by means of like initial letters. This 
form of verse, in which rhyme, properly so called, was 
unknown, was called alliterative or stave rhyme, from 
the three staves on which the line rested. Although this 
alliterative principle — this custom of connecting words 
belonging to each other by the same initial letters — has 
disappeared from German poetry these thousand years, 
and, from the very nature of the language, can never 
return, yet traces of it are still to be met with in many 
current proverbial expressions : e. g., Wohl und Wehe, 
Haut und Haar, Land und Leute, Kind und Kegel, 
Schutz und Schirm, Stock und Stein. All the oldest 
heroic ballads, as, for instance, those of Hildebrand 
and Beovulf, were written in this alliterative verse. 


When the song was sung, these alliterative words were 
musically emphasised, the company joining in by striking 
their swords upon their shields, or by uttering hollow 
sounds into the concave side of them, a custom men- 
tioned by Tacitus. There was a noble simplicity and 
grandeur about the strain, which enthusiasts compare 
to the sound in the tree-tops of some dark forest struck 
by the evening wind. It is difficult now-a-days to form 
anything like a true idea of the imposing effect thus pro- 
duced. Most of the attempts to re-introduce this sort 
of verse have failed ; as for instance Eiickert's " iZoland 
der ^ies am iJathaus zu Bremen." The following lines, 
however, from Fouque's " Thiodolph " have almost 
caught the right tone : — 

" PTeit im TTeinberg, 
Wohnea zwei Sohwestem, 
Kubn zwei ^lingen 
Zw ischen ^ippen starren. 
TFenn die Schwestern uiohnen 
PTirtlich an einem Heerd 
Wenn die £lingen Mirren 
^raftig in einer Hand," 
It is nevertheless generally true that when the spirit 
has fled which created these natural sounds, aU attempts 
at re-creating them must degenerate into mere empty 
form and artifice. This observation is borne out by the 
otherwise successful verses of Karl Lappe. We subjoin 
a specimen from his " Frostnacht " (Frostnight) : — 
" iMede dir /reudiger i^'rost der Nacht 
^linkende Wanke Blame des Schnees ! 
iVbrdliche, mehmt nordischer Tone 
^raitigcn ^ang, Mlrn wie der Skalde I 
Sliome nur Stuxm, stteug uud kalt, 


Mit Aerbem flanche das Haar mir streifend 
Mag auch des il/aien weiche Mi]ie, 
Die fispelden Ziifte, find und Schlaff 
Kersteckte Feilchen, Fergissmeinnichte, 
iJbthelnder i?osen gefeierter ifuhm 
^11 der ^uen athmender Duft 
Der Sinne Sehnen sattigen immer ? 
ZToheres ^eischet des Herzen's Gelust, 
TFill auch der W^onnen TTechsel sehn ! 
Statt der sanften «udJiclieu Zier 
Strebt er den starkenden <Stahl zu trinken 
Der Aostlichen ftlaren j^alte Becher." 

The ancient language was far richer in poetic appli- 
ances for this sort of verse than the modern. For 
instance, in one of the old German dialects there are 
eight diiferent expressions for the idea " man," each of 
which was used according to the context. Thus, 
uueros uuarum uuigeo an uuahtu means " the men 
were watching the steeds ; " rincos thes rikien sS,tun 
an rAnum, " the men of the mighty (Lord or King) sat 
in council ;" Segg was in selda undar gisindun, " the 
man was at home among the followers ;" degano de- 
chisto was er Deodrihhe, " most beloved of men was he 
to Dietrich." The language was equally rich in adjec- 
tives, which, as in the examples given above, were joined 
with substantives which had the same initial sound. 
Thus, the heroes were called schnell, bald (originally, 
i. q. rasch, kiihn, quick, bold), strenge (stark-sehnig, 
strong-muscled), reich (which originally also meant 
machtig, mighty) ; then hugi, derbi (sinnfest, resolute) ; 
ellanruof (kraft-beriihmt, strength-renowned) ; all of 
which epithets were characteristic of the different heroes. 
The usual German epithets for heroes now-a-days are 


tapfer, which originally meant heavy, ponderous ; but 
which has now lost all plastic signification ; or mutig, 
which, in the ancient heroic language, signified angry, 
passionate. With them, gross, great, might be used as 
an epithet of the sea, or of a camel. They would also 
have said gross of hunger or necessity, but certainly 
not of a hero. Modern German is more supple, but it 
abounds in hyperbole and exaggeration, and wants the 
accurate terminology, the slow yet majestic pace, and 
the calm tranquillity of the ancient tongue. Then, 
again, if we revert to the old descriptions of battles. 
The lanky wolf follows the host out of the forest, and 
sings his grim even-song, longing for his banquet. The 
black raven waits for the corpses, and croaks over the 
battle-field, exulting in the prey. The sword rushes 
like a serpent on the foe, and the bitter bite of the axe 
strikes grim death- wounds into men pale with the con- 
test ; while the war-stream, and the dark-red battle- 
drops pour down upon the gleaming steel, dyeing it with 
the life-fountain. All this betokens a power and a 
brilliancy of poetic description not easily surpassed. 

To this old poetic world an antagonist at length arose 
in the shape of Christianity. The collection of lays, 
which his father Charlemagne had so carefully made, 
Lewis the Pious would not even read, but carelessly per- 
mitted them to perish. No doubt songs about Tuisco, 
the earth-bom progenitor of the race, and about the' trans- 
formation of the father of Sigfried and his sister Signs 
into wolves, would be distasteful to Christian notions, and 
would be regarded as an impediment to the spread of 
Christianity. This objection would apply still more 


forcibly to the numerous forms of incantation, where the 
names of Wuotan, Donar, Ziu, Balder, Sachsnot, and 
other heathen deities occur. Hence the frequent inter- 
dicts launched against all sorts of profane songs by synods 
and other ecclesiastical authorities ; the consequence of 
which was the almost total destruction and oblivion of 
every poem which bore a special mythological character, 
and which would, therefore, have thrown the strongest 
light on the inner life of that heathen age. Two forms 
of incantations alone survive,' which were unexpectedly 
discovered at Merseburg in the year 1841.* All these 
heroic poems and incantations were in the alliterative 
form, which, consequently came to be pursued with dis- 
like and suspicion as if it were a heathenish device, until 
at length it utterly vanished from Northern Germany 
towards the end of the ninth century, having disap- 
peared in the South, which had been converted to 
Christianity earlier, at a stiU remoter period. But 
while Christianity gave the impulse to the decline of 
this ancient phase of poetry, yet there was another, and 
a more powerful, instrument at work. This was the 
growing tendency of the poets of the age to give ex- 
pression to their own sentiments as well as to those 
the people. The spirit of the times had gradually 
altered. The new development required a new form of 
verse. The alliterative form was exploded, and perhaps 
it was best that it should be so, before it had degene- 
rated, as it did in Iceland and Norway, into mere lifeless 
and mechanical form. 

* Discovered by "Waitz, and edited by Grimm. " Ueber zwei eut- 
deckte Gedichte aus der Zeit des deutschen Heidenthums, 4, 1842." 


In otlier poems everything that was derived from the 
ancient mythus, or served to remind one of it — as for 
instance, in the earlier history of Sigfrid — was either 
expunged or grew obsolete. In other cases people were 
disinclined to part with their dear old heroic lays all 
at once ; so the heathenish parts were modified and 
altered into the Christian sense. Thus, in the poem of 
Beovulf, as we now have it, there are a number of 
Christian additions discernible, which have been evi- 
dently interpolated to soften oflF the parts too glaringly 
pagan in spirit. So in "Waltber of Aquitaine, — which, 
it is true, had passed through the hands of the monks 
of St. Gall, — Walther, at the beginning of the fight, 
utters a violent speech of defiance (gelpf) in the ap- 
proved fashion of those days. This remains without 
alteration ; but immediately afterwards the monks make 
the hero fall down, his arms stretched out in the form 
of a cross, and beg pardon of God for his impiety. 
But, in the main, all these heroic ballads were gradually 
banished from the higher classes upon the advance of 
Christianity, and were only sung among the lower 
orders, who still clung with affection to the old-world 
memories of gods and heroes. In the ninth century 
they utterly vanish from the history of literature, to 
reappear 300 years later, old and yet young, forcible 
yet withal soft and beautiful. 

Sacred poetry next came into fashion. Though 
the subjects were religious, yet at first it still retained 
not only the alliterative principle, but likewise the old 
epic forms, together with the forcible and lofty method 
of description to be found in the old popular compo- 


sitions. Such was the so-called "Wessobrunner Gebetj" 
printed in all the old collections, and which begins 
thus : — " This I found to be the greatest human 
wisdom; when the earth was not, nor the Heaven 
above; neither hills nor trees; when the sun shone 
not, and the moon gave no light ; when there was no 
ocean, no end nor boundary, then was there an 
Almighty God." 

Another Christian poem in the alliterative form 
describes the end of the world and the last judgment. 
It is called muspilli, a heathen name of rather uncertain 
meaning, which is the term used in the poem for the 
end of the world.* Unfortunately only a fragment of 
it remains. In sublimity of description it stands only 
second to Holy writ. 

Another poem is an Old-Saxon Harmony of the 
Gospels, which was written at the instance of Lewis 
the Pious in the ninth century, and was first printed a 
thousand years afterwards, under the editorship of Pro- 
fessor Schmeller, by the title of Heliand (the Saviour). 
This poem, which was perhaps the joint composition of 
several Saxons just after the conversion of that country 
to Christianity, gives a history of the life of Christ after 
the combined accounts of the four Evangelists. It is by 
far the grandest and most perfect specimen of Christian 
poetry in existence. Nay, apart from its Christian 
subject, it is one of the noblest productions of poetic 

* Muspilli, " Bruchstiick einer alt-hochdeutschen alliterierenden Dich- 
timg vom Ende der Welt, yon J. P. Schmeller," 1832. For this poem 
likewise a strophic form is claimed hy W. Miiller, in Haupt's Zeitschrift, 
3, 452, seq. 


genius that ever appeared, and which in many respects 
is thought by the Germans to match with the Homeric 
compositions. It is a genuine Christian epos, simple 
and inartificial as it ought to be, and not disfigured, 
like Klopstock's " Messiah," by the violent introduction 
of Christian mythology, or by unsuitable imagery. 
Simple facts are related in the traditional alliterative 
form. It is Christ in Germany, Christ among the 
Saxons, that is here described. The King of kings 
and Lord of lords approaches with his innumerable 
train to distribute around the rich gifts of eternal life. 
As he passes the Castle of Jericho the blind men ask 
who is the highest and holiest of the passing host? 
A hero gives answer that Jesus of Galilee is the holiest 
and the best, and that it was he who was coming near 
with his people. When the Lord begins the sermon on 
the mount, the whole scene is described just in those 
grand forms in which the German kings and princes 
were wont to meet in council before the eyes of all the 
people. " Nearer around the mighty Lord, the Prince 
of Peace, stand the white men, whom God's Son hath 
chosen for himself. Further below are the hosts of the 
people. The faithful await the word of their King, 
thinking in silent reverence what message the Ruler of 
All is about to bring to the assembled multitudes. And 
the great Shepherd, God's own child, sits over against 
the men to teach in wise words the praise of God to 
the people of the earth. Long did He sit, and silently ; 
and they looked at Him long, and loved Him in their 
hearts ; the Holy Lord, mild in His spirit. Then He 

The oldest period. 23 

opened His mouth, the omnipotent One, and taught His 
elect, who of all people were dearest to God. Blessed 
were they who in this world were poor and lowly, for 
God would give them eternal life in the land of 
Heaven, the green paradise of God." 

This poem is highly important, as illustrating the 
history of the introduction of Christianity into Ger- 
many; and not the less so, that this composition, so 
fervid and so true, was the work of Saxons, a people 
who had been converted to Christianity by the sword, 
and who were therefore popularly looked upon as in 
heart still opposed to its doctrines. 

Thirty years after the Heliand was written, another 
Harmony of the Gospels was composed by Otfrid, a 
Benedictine monk of Weissenburg in Alsace. The old 
epic forms and the old alliteration are here entirely 
wanting. While in the last-mentioned poem the whole 
Saxon people with one mighty voice sing the praises of 
the Eternal, we have here but the voice of an indi- 
vidual monk, who is for ever obtruding himself upon us 
with his everlasting I; and although there is often much 
that is good, and feeling, and proper in his narration ; 
though at times he even approaches the sublime, yet he 
frequently becomes tame and feeble and diffuse, where 
a few powerful touches would have better answered 
the purpose. As a storehouse of German language the 
poem is invaluable, and its value is, if possible, enhanced 
by the uncommon care and accuracy bestowed on the 
metrical part. In fact, it is from this work of Otfrid's 
alone that all the scientific rules of German versification 
must be derived. Alliteration is here succeeded by the 


musical principle, rhyme, wMcli has prevailed to the 
present day. 

Unlike the Old-Saxon harmony, this far inferior har- 
mony of Otfrld's, instead of being lost for nine hundred 
years, appears to have been always more or less known. 
During the Reformation, it was produced as one of the 
ancient evidences of Christian truth, and first printed 
by Matthias Flacius, the theologian of Illyria, at the 
instance of one Kiedesel. A new edition of it by 
Graff appeared in 1831, under the title of " Krist." 

Another poem, usually known under the name of the 
" Ludwigslied," deserves mention.* It is a description, 
written at the time, of the victory of the Frankish 
King Ludwig III. over the Normans at the battle of 
Saucort, in the year 881. Though lively for the most 
part in style, and popular in colouring, yet it cannot be 
compared for a moment vsdth the old epic, which was 
now no more. It is written in rhyme, which had now 
got generally into vogue. 

The other poetical remains of this period are chiefly 
of a religious nature; and, together with the contefn- 
porary prose literature, are not worthy of notice.f The 

* The so-called " Ludwigslied " was discovered by MabiQon, and edited 
by Schilter, 1696. Subsequently the MS. disappeared, and was not re- 
discovered till 1837, at Valenciennes, by A. H. Hoffmann; see Eluoneusia, 
" Monuments des Langues romane et tudesque dans le 9"" Siecle. Publies 
par Hoffmann et Willems. Gand. 1837." An extract is printed in W. 
Wackemagers "Alt-d. Lesebuch," second edit. Sp. 105. Unless one may 
choose to divide it into strophes of two lines, it is properly not a song, 
but a Leich, a term which is explained elsewhere. It was no doubt the 
work of an ecclesiastic. 

t The poetical pieces of this period are, — " Ein Lied auf den heiligen 
Petrus;" "Ein Leich von Christus uud der Samariterin;" "Ein Leich 


latter consist of laborious translations, or commentaries 
on parts of the Bible, by the learned inmates of St. Gall 
and other monasteries ; or they are codes of ecclesi- 
astical rules, or theological treatises. Besides these there 
are some extracts from Aristotle, from Boethius, and 
Marcianus Capella. As sources of German language 
they are many of them most important, but much less 
so as illustrating the history of German literature. 

On the extinction of poetry, prose, as usual, succeeded 
to an equally exclusiTC dominion. This remark will 
apply to Germany from the end of the ninth to the 
middle of the twelfth century. 

In conclusion, we may here notice a literary curiosity. 
As is well known, there are still extant several Christian 
formulae of faith, prayers, and renunciations of the Devil, 
dating from the eighth and ninth centuries, and among 
others, those wherein the Saxon converts renounced 
Wuotan, Donar, and Sachsnot. In the number of these 
there used formerly to figure a Saxon prayer, or vow, 
addressed to Wodan, which began " Hilli krote Wodane," 
and then followed a Saxon form of submission to Charle- 
magne. These pieces were Saxon, it is true, but be- 
longed to the eighteenth century, and not to the eighth 
The author was a municipal scribe of Goslar. 

From the tenth century a sleep came over German 
poetry, and continued down to the middle of the twelfth. 

von h. Georg," (see a subseq uent note) ; "Ein (half-Latin) Leich von Ottos 
des Grossen Versbhnung mit seinem Bruder Heinrich;" " Bin Gebot j" 
and some fragments of partly alliterative songs of war, hunting, or my- 
thology, which last are preserved in a work on rhetoric by the monks of 
St. Gall. The prose literature of this period is cited by Koberstein Grund- 
rise, 4th edition, pp. 94-100. 



The nation was engaged in assimilating the great prin- 
ciples of Christianity ; in working them into its very 
life and blood. Not that the old heroic lays of Sigfrid 
and Dietrich, of Kriemhild and Hagen, of Walther and 
Etzel, were forgotten. Songs, too, were written on the 
Battle of Eresburg in 912 ; on Adelbert of Babenberg ; 
Kuonrad the Short ; on the hunting of the ure-ox by 
the Bavarian Duke Erbo; and the Hungarian wars of 
the Emperor Henry III. But these were mere dreams, 
which vanished when the nation awoke. The language 
was inaccurate, the verse careless and uncouth, and the 
descriptions meagre. It is not pretended that the above 
is a thorough explanation of the causes of the extinc- 
tion of German poetry during two centuries and a half; 
the facts merely are stated and the possible reasons 

Politically, Germany was by no means dormant 
in that period ; and it is not impossible that this very 
political activity and greatness, e. g. in the time of 
Henry the Saxon and Henry III., may have been 
among the reasons which threw the people's poetical 
powers into abeyance. 

Again, the ecclesiastical grandeur, such as prevailed 
in the reign of Henry the Pious, though favourable to 
learning, and to Latin as the language of chm-ch litera- 
ture, was not favourable to the development of national 
poetry. It is true that Hruodswintha, or Boswitha, 
as she is called, the nun of Gandersheim, wrote Latin 
comedies in imitation of Terence; and histories in 
the Latin tongue were written by "Witekind of Corvei, 
Dietmar of Merseburg, and Lambert of AschaflPenburg. 


But this was nothing but politics and learning playing 
into each other's hands to prevent the poetic genius of 
the people from awaking. 

Poetry did awake when the spark from the East set 
all the West in one mighty flame of enthusiasm ; when 
the seed planted in Germany in the eighth and ninth 
centuries, and which had been growing in secret for 
nearly three centuries, burst forth at once into full 
flower. This, of course, refers to the time of the 
Crusades, which was, in fact, the manifestation of the 
old western heroic character, blended with, and sanc- 
tified by, the spirit of Christianity. It was then that 
the genius of the old heroic song was suddenly aroused. 
Then came the time of the Minnesingers, the first 
classical period of German literature. 




Before, however, the Middle-High-German poetry 
reached its cuhninating point, a short preparatory 
period intervened, beginning about 1150 a.d., and 
closing with the appearance of Heinrich von Veldekin, 
who flourished between 1184 and 1188. The chief 
diiference between the poets of this short intervening 
period and those who immediately succeeded lies 
in their language and versification. They lived on 
the Middle and Lower Bhine, and wrote in the dialect 
which prevails in those parts — at least on the Lower 
Ehine — even to the present day. This dialect is a 
mixture of High and Low German elements, in which 
the original vowel sounds are confused, and, even in 
the consonantal system, the Middle-High- German 
forms are often mixed up with the Middle-Low-German 
forms : on which account Jacob Grimm has now defined 
it as the Middle-Low- German as opposed to the Middle- 
High-German, with which he formerly classed it. Of 
course this must not be confounded with the Middle 
Netherlandish, the mother of the present New 
Netherlandish, or Dutch. As may be well imagined, 
this dialect was deficient in that general perfection, that 
accuracy, and harmonious purity of rhyme, which so 
distinguished the dialect that afterwards attained uni- 
versal sway, the Middle- High-German. 

Neither do we find in it that accurate measure of the 
lines which was first introduced by Veldekin, the father 


of the Middle-Hlgh-German poetry : tho»ugli he did not 
bring it to perfection. It wanted, moreover, the right 
number of rises (arsis), as well as their accurate pro- 
portion to the falls (thesis) ; a rule which Otfrid had, 
with a true genius for language, observed three hundred 
years before. 

To restore harmony of sounds, and purity of rhymes, 
and to adapt the tone and flow of the verse to the subject 
matter, was a task reserved for the succeeding writers, 
who did not so much imitate Otfrid herein as follow 
their own pure poetical instincts. This improvement 
in the language, and more especially in the versification, 
was called " rime rihten " (to arrange the rhyme) ; a 
very ancient expression which the Middle-High-German 
poets used of their own compositions in contradistinction 
to those of an earlier date. In the preparatory period 
above mentioned the so-called short pairs of rhymes is 
the form which universally prevails. 

The subject-matter of the poems written in this pre- 
paratory period (1150—1190) is almost entirely the 
same as that of the poetry of the succeeding period. 
Thus, we have the poem of " King Rother," an heroic 
saga. As a specimen of the animal saga, we have the 
oldest known version of " Reynard the Fox." The 
beautiful fragment of " Count Rudolf " is a romance 
of chivalry. The foreign saga is represented by the 
priest Conrad's " Song of Roland," and by Eilhartson 
Oberg's version of " Tristan ; " the classical saga by 
the priest Lamprecht's " Leben Alexander's des Gros- 
sen" (Life of Alexander the Great); while among 
historical Epopoeas are the " Lied von heiligen Anno " 



(the Life of St. Anno, Archbishop of Cologne), and the 
" Kaiser Chronik." Besides these there are a number of 
legends and the beginnings of Minne poetry in Diet- 
mar von Aist, and others. 

We pass now to the period between 1190 and 1300, 
when Old-German poetry reached its zenith. 

The home of this earliest German classic poetry was 
South Germany; including, first and principally, Suabia, 
the land of the Hohenstaufen ; then the Upper Rhine, 
Switzerland, Bavaria, Austria, and Franconia. Hence 
the epithet " Suabian " applied by Bodmer and others 
to this period and to the dialect in which this poetry 
was written. Jacob Grimm, on the other, hand, called 
this dialect the " Middle-High-German," which term is 
the one now exclusively used. 

This language, which was regularly and system- 
atically organized, first out of the Gothic and then out 
of the Old-High-German, falls short of its predecessors 
in fullness of grammatical terminations and in gravity 
of expression ; but it is vastly superior to the present 
German language, which arose out of it under Low- 
German influences, in the wealth of its terminology, 
in delicacy of expression, in precision of sound, and in 
the purity and harmony of the rhymes. 

If for a moment we endeavour to recall the state of 
the then world — ^the world as it was from the middle 
of the twelfth to the middle of the thirteenth century, 
in respect to politics, belief, customs, social life, art and 
science — the great influence that the Christian church 
exercised on the growth of German poetry at once 
becomes apparent. The spirit of Christianity had, in 


the nations of the West, and especially in Germany, 
become the spirit of the people. Most strongly deve- 
loped in the nobility and clergy, it penetrated also into 
the masses, not as a doctrine but as a fact, not as an 
abstract science but as an element of existence. Chris- 
tianity with the Germans was not a notion and con- 
ception, but a possession and enjoyment. The spiritual 
satisfaction arising from the inward and outward gran- 
deur of the Christian church was so general and so 
strong, that not even the struggles between the Em- 
perors and the Popes, which lasted for more than two 
hundred years, could interfere with it. 

The old poets, and, still more, the poets of the period 
now under consideration, describe doubt -as a most sad 
state, and utterly destructive of the soul. Even in the 
days of heathenism the German had this touch of strength 
and truth and tenacity in his character. He was in 
unity with himself, settled and clear in his views. What 
he was, he was out and out, life and soul. Christianity, 
which will have us altogether, life, soul^ and spirit, was 
the very thing to suit such a character as this. Chris- 
tianity offered that sense of comfort, calm, and security 
which the people felt the want of, and enabled them to 
give true vent to their deepest aspirations. 

While the national mind was in this state the 
Crusades supervened ; by which thoughts rose into 
deeds, and Christian heroism was proved in glorious 
actions. Call the Crusades a fantastic undertaking if 
you will — a sentence nevertheless which would hardly 
be justified before the tribunal of history, certainly 
not before the higher tribunal of Christian civilization, 

C 4 


— still this very fantasticalness gave no mean impulse 
to the highest poetic capacities of the age. For five 
hundred years the nation had lived within itself, at 
most defending its domestic hearths against the invasion 
of Hungarian hordes. From generation to generation 
the people had been confined within the narrow pre- 
cincts of their towns and quiet villages. Contented 
with their simple castles, or lonely cottages, on the 
edge of the forest or on the green heath, they knew 
nothing, and cared nothing, about what lay beyond. 
But now, all on a sudden, a new world appeared, and 
the unknown magnificence of the East, rendered more 
gorgeous by the magic colours of distance, was opened 
to their view. Gay cavalcades of French crusaders, 
mounted on riphly caparisoned steeds, and clad in glit- 
tering mail, swept along the re-opened highways of 
Grermany, lusting for conquest, hoping for victory, 
ohaunting martial songs, as they passed before the 
wondering eyes of the population. No marvel, then, 
they fell into an indescribable tumult of conflicting 
feelings. Sweet love of home and irresistible desire 
to roam; bitter regret at parting and joyous wish 
for travel ; such were the emotions that rent the youth 
of Germany, and which all the poems of that day do 
not fail to dwell upon, as, for instance, the immortal 
" Parcival " of Wolfram von Eschenbach. 

Add to all this, the political greatness of the 
German Empire. The Emperor was the temporal 
head of Christendom ; the nobility and their relatives 
the flower of European chivalry ; and the people, under 
their Emperor, ruled the world. Let us consider also 


the personal qualities of those who then filled the 
Imperial throne, the race of Hohenstaufeu ; so genial 
and joyous, so enthusiastic and abounding in great 
ideas. Taken as a whole, no period could have been 
more fertile than this in all the highest and most en- 
nobling incentives to poetry. The mighty Barbarossa 
himself was a poetical figure of the first order, from the 
day when he so firmly grasped the sceptre, till that 
on which he sank in the waters of the Selef. The 
memory of the Emperor with the flame-red beard has 
never been forgotten in Germany, and the notion still 
prevails among the people that when he wakes from 
his slumber in the depths of the Kiffhauserberg, the 
nation will awake to its former greatness. Nor must 
it be forgotten that in those days Germany was in 
a state of inward as well as of outward unity. All 
were penetrated with the same national pride on 
account of the nation's greatness ; and all had the 
same poetical sympathies. The memory of the legen- 
dary heroes of the olden time belonged to all. All 
had the same tongue. It was not split up as it is now 
into clumsy dialects on the one hand, and into the 
superfine language of conversation on the other. 
Lastly, the manners and customs of all were alike, 
and faithful to the traditions of their forefathers. No 
more congenial state of things could be Imagined for 
the fostering of the poetic element. No sooner was 
the music struck than everyone caught up the lay ; it 
resounded from castle to castle, from town to town, 
and a thousand voices from far and near joined in the 

C 5 


The poetry of those times may be divided into two 
sorts, popular or natural poetry, and art poetry. The 
former describes the national experiences of all the 
people. Here fact follows fact in rapid succession ; 
there is no stopping to think and dwell on the past. 
All is clear without the aid of foreign figures. Arti- 
ficial turns and tricks of composition are out of place ; 
there is no straining after effect. The people's joys 
and woes are sounded by themselves, now in loud and- 
jubilant strains, now in deep and pathetic tones. Like 
nature herself, natural poetry is ever fresh and young. 
To use the words of one who, after Herder, was the 
first to discover the true essence of poetry generally, 
and of German poetry in particular, — Jacob Grimm- — 
" natural poetry is a living book, full of genuine his- 
tory, which a man can understand wherever he opeus 
it ; but which he can never read to the end or under- 
stand throughout."* 

Art-poetry, on the contrary, is the result of reflection 
and thought, the work of the individual poet. It is not 
life itself, but life mirrored through his mind. It is the 
experience, not of a whole people, but of one, who has 
often got the start of his contemporaries. Nay, it is 
frequently no real experience of the poet at all, but 
simply something that he has guessed at by the force 
of poetic divination. Hence his own individuality, be 
it great or small, mean or noble, is continually pressed 
into the foreground ; and, in order that he may be more 
pleasing to his readers, he has recourse to figures and 

* J. Grimm iiber den aljdeutschen Meistergesang, 1811, p. 6. 


comparisons. In the development of a nation s poetic 
capacities both of these kinds of poetry are requisite. 
Without a national poetry a nation would not be a 
nation at all; without art-poetry it could only be a 
nation whose legitimate development had been violently 

The first of these two kinds of poetry — national 
poetry — was represented in the twelfth and thirteenth 
centuries by strolling minstrels, who went with their 
budget of sagas and songs from castle to castle, from 
land to land; and, whether at popular assemblies or 
festivals, in hall or in market-place, sang their loud 
and artless strains about the grandeur of the old petty 
kings and their faithful retainers ; and thus was awak- 
ened and fostered that old love of song and minstrelsy 
that was characteristic of the people. These itinerants 
and their hearers knew nought of books, or of ditties 
long hidden and now again brought to light. All was 
living oral tradition. 

" Tins ist in alten Maren Wunders viel geseit* 
Von helden lobebaeren, Von grozer chuoneit: 
Von vrouden und hoch-geziten, Von weinen und von chlagen, 
Von chuner rechenstriten, Muget ir nu wunder horen sagen." 

These words, which commence the " Nibelungslied, " 
are the key-note of all German national poetry. In 
regard to form, the popular poetry is arranged in 
strophes adapted for singing. These are of two kinds : 
the so-called Mbelung strophe, consisting of four long 

* We find in ancient story wonders many told, 
Of heroes in great glory, with spirit free and bold : 
Of joyousness and high tides, of weeping and of woe, 
Of noble heroes striviDg, mote ye new wonders know, 
e 6 


lines of six feet each (except the last, which has seven), 
and each ending with a single rhyme* ; and the Berner 
Ton, so called because several of the independent sagas 
of "Dietrich" of Bern are written in it, and which 
consists of one strophe of thirteen lines. 

Art-poetry was mainly the production of emperors 
and kings, nobles and knights. Thus we have poems 
by Henry VI., the son of Barbarossa, and by King 
Conradin, who was beheaded at Naples by the axe of 
the executioner; also by Wenceslaus, King of Bohemia; 
by Heinrich, Duke of Breslau ; by Otto, Margrave of 
Brandenburg; and by the immortal poets, Hartmann 
von der Aue, Wolfram von Eschenbach, Walther von 
der Vogelweide, and Ulrich von Lichtenstein, who were 
all of noble lineage. They sang for the most part to the 
brilliant assemblages of courtly knights, august dames, 
and lovely damsels that filled the courts of princes. 
Newly invented romances, ornate in language and 
artistic in description, songs of the heart's joys and 
sorrows, such were their constant theme; and while 
popular poetry was conspicuous for its adherence to tra- 
ditional forms and subjects, these art-poets were for ever 
aiming at something novel and foreign. It was their 
endeavour to invest their poetry with all the fanciful 
and rich colouring that was shed around the world of 
chivalry in those days, when the magnificence of France 
and Spain, and the fascinating splendours of the East, 

* The rhymes at the end of the third and fourth lines of the poem 
may appear to be douhle. But they are not so in reality ; the words 
"chlagen" and "sagen" were pronounced as monosyllables. Many 
other apparent infractions of the rule in the text are to be explained in 
the same way. — Editor. 


had been just revealed by means of the Crusades to the 
admiring knighthood of Germany. On this account this 
art-poetry has been also called knightly or court-poetry. 

Its form was — for artistic narrative — the short pairs 
of rhymes, i.e., pairs of lines of four feet, each pair end- 
ing in single rhymes, or of three feet, if ending in 
double rhymes ; for lyrics, the tripartite strophe. 

But to return to folk or national poetry, as repre- 
sented in epic. It is to be observed that in the chief 
Old-German Epics there is no principal hero, properly 
so called. The cause of this is probably to be sought 
in the manner in which these epics originated. They 
most probably took their rise from a number of detached 
poems in honour of different heroes. These in process 
of time would flow together into one great deep and 
majestic stream. Of such mighty streams of poetry 
Germany possesses two. The one pouring headlong,; 
impetuous, foaming and bellowing through the rocks — 
the " Nibelungen Not;" the other gliding clear and 
smooth, yet strong and deep, through smiling, verdant 
fields — the poem of " Gudrun." 

We may here mention one remarkable feature which 
these two German Epics possess in common with the 
Iliad. The chief characters in each are placed in sub- 
jection, so to say, to another ; this quality of obedience 
being in fact a chief ingredient in the true heroic cha- 
racter. Achilles Is not the leader of the Greeks, but 
Agamemnon. Hector is only the first of those who 
serve Priam the Trojan King. Dietrich is the ally of 
Etzel; while Eudiger serves Etzel, and Hagen and • 
Volker serve Gunther the Burgundian King. Even 


Sigfrid, who originally belongs to the Gotter-saga, is 
made, in the " Nibelungen Lied " — albeit for a short 
period — to serve another. 

The second rank among the Old- German Epics is 
occupied by poems descriptive of a single hero, after the 
manner of Homer's " Odyssey," or of some one exploit 
of an individual hero. These poems, which were pre- 
served fresh from age to age in the pure oral tradition 
of the people, possess a high degree of poetical interest, 
and one scarcely inferior to that of the great Epopoeas. 
Such are the " Hildebrand's Lied," which belongs to 
the oldest Period. Such also " Walther of Wasichenr 
stein ;" " Ecken Ausfart ; " " Sigenot ;" " Dietrich's 
Elucht zu den Hunnen;" « Alphart's Tod;" «Ka- 
benschlacht ;" as well as the saga of Herzog Ernst, 
and others. All these independent sagas were known 
at the time when the great Epics first originated, and 
are often expressly alluded to therein. Indeed, they 
are frequently of essential service towards our due 
comprehension of the latter. They form, as it were, 
a poetic back-ground, of unfathomable depth, so that 
when we have read them we fancy there must still 
be something more behind ; beyond the lowest depth, 
one deeper still, concealing an inexhaustible supply of 
poetic sagas. Thus every page in the " Mbelungenlied," 
to the diligent student, points, like the Homeric Epics, 
to some far-off epic distance, which heightens the charm 
of the perusal. 

In the third rank may be placed those poems which 
further develope, and are supplementary to, the genuine 
old heroic songs. These, although not deficient in 


freshness and powerj are, as may readily be iinagined, 
neither so simple nor so natural as the old heroic songs, 
and they want their quiet grandeur and confidence. 
First of these stands the song of " Kosengarten zu 
Worms ;" likewise some poems in amplification of the 
saga of " Dietrich of Bern." Thus we see that the old 
epic saga came to be developed artistically. The poet, 
instead of being borne along on the joyous stream, 
stands as it were on the margin of the flood, reflecting 
as he beholds it passing by. Thus the poet's sorrow 
for the heroes who have fallen in the " Nibelungen Not " 
breaks forth into words in the poem called the " Klage " 
(lament). Similar to this, though more of a narrative 
character, is the poem of "Biterolf und Dietlieb." 
Lastly come imitations, where the transition from 
popular poetry into art poetry becomes complete. The 
subject-matter, which no longer is confined to living 
popular tradition, is set forth, and adorned with all the 
art that each individual poet has at command. Nature 
is merged into art ; and the poetic impulse of the whole 
people subsides into the invention and reflection of an 
individual. Several such imitations are to be found in 
the later Greek poetry. But the best known produc- 
tion of the kind is the " JEneid " of Virgil. Kunst-Epos 
(art-epic) is the name given to this kind of poetry in 

Before proceeding to examine the several creations 
of the German epic, we will here take a rapid glance 
at its chief characteristic. This may be summed up in 
the word fidelity; mutual fidelity between the prince 
and his people. He is generous, and never tired of 


giving SO long as he has anything to give ; they are 
grateful, and their gratitude only ends with their life. 
They are ready to fight, and bleed, and die, and give 
up all they hold most dear, for their beloved lord. 
And he, on the other hand, will not suffer anything to 
separate him from his faithful retainers, short of the 
downfall of himself and his race. Hagen smites 
Sigfrid dead out of fidelity to his queen, Brunhild. 
Hagen is against the expedition into the land of the 
Huns ; but since the Kings, his masters, have resolved 
upon it, he sets out firm and undaunted as the " hel- 
flicher Trost" (help and comfort) of the Nibelungs, 
although he knows beforehand that this expedition wiU 
be the death of himself and his masters, and the de- 
struction of the Burgundian race ; and he struggles by 
the side of his loved lords until the end. When, on the 
other hand, the enemy promise the Burgundian Kings 
free passage on condition of their delivering up Hagen, 
a cry of horror bursts from their hearts. " Perish 
rather fatherland, and wife, and blooming bride, and 
young existence ; perish rather the nobl^ race of the 
Burgundians, of which we are the last ;" and so Hagen 
is not delivered up. Again, Eudiger, the squire of 
Kriemhild and Etzel, fights the fierce fight of death 
with Gemot, the Burgundian, his best friend ; for 
Gemot, although the brother, is yet the foe of his mis- 
tress. Neither survives the other ; they fall together, 
but Rudiger is faithful to the end. So again, in 
the poem of " Wolfdieterich," Berchtung, the old tutor 
in arms and attendant of Wolfdieterich, who, with 
his sixteen sons, has gone to battle for his master, 


looks round witli a smile towards his lord, as five of 
them fall one after another, that his lord may not 
mark that one of his beloved retainers has fallen. 
The remaining eleven are taken prisoners, and now 
Wolfdietrich, who is sad for the loss of his faithful 
ones, wanders many years through all the world, alone 
and poor, undergoing countless dangers and struggles 
In search of them. Kingdoms, the hand of an Empress, 
fresh retainers by the thousand, are offered him ; but 
he will have none of them, if he cannot have his old 
servants back again. Rather will he wander on, poor 
and lonely, till he has discharged Lis debt of fidelity to 
his men, and liberated them from imprisonment. 

Such is the pulse that beats through the German 
Epos. And unless we keep this in view, we shall fail 
to comprehend its meaning. In short, the greatness of 
the heroes so intimately depends upon the quality of 
faithfulness, that it may be said to be the poetical 
mainspring of the whole. We fail to discover this 
feature in the Greek Epos ; or if there at all, it is 
only in a subordinate degree, and in very faint outline. 
And hence It is, that while the Greek Epos possesses 
a more general interest, the German Epos possesses a 
deeper one. 

We now pass on to the several productions of 
national heroic poetry, distinguishing between the 
Sagas, on which they are based, according to the 
several national races. 

The first group of Sagaa Is the Lower Rhenish or 
Frankish ; the hero Is Sigfrid, whose abode is Santen, 
on the Lower Rhine. 


The second set of Sagas is the Burgundian. The 
heroes are Grunther, Gemot, and Giselher, with their 
mother Ute, their sister Kriemhild, and Gunther's 
wife, Brunhild. Then come their followers, chief 
among whom are Hagen and Volker. Their residence 
is Worms. 

The third is the East-Gothic. The hero is Dietrich, 
who from his residence, Verona (Germanice Bern), 
bears the name of Dietrich von Bern. His chiefest 
attendant and weapon-master is old Hildebrand, of the 
race of the Wolfings ; next to him, Wolfhart, Wolf-* 
brandt, Wolfwin, all Wolfings ; together with Sigestab, 
Helferiph, and four others. 

The fourth Saga-group is devoted to Attila or Etzel, 
King of the Huns, his first wife Helche and their sons ; 
his retainer Kiidiger von Bechlam, and his allies, 
Hawart, Duke of Lorraine, with his vassal Iring, and 
Irnfrid, Prince of Thuringia. Etzel's abode is at 
Etzelburg in Hungary, liodH Ofen. 

These four series of Sagas are combined in the 
poem of the Nibelungen Not, and in its artistic sequel 
the Klage. Tiie first batch of Sagas, that of Sigfrid, 
has also a special poem on the exploits of Sigfrid before 
he comes into connexion with the Burgundians, viz., 
the lay of Sigfrid's fight with the Dragon, or of 
"hiirnin Sigfrid." In like manner there are a whole 
set of songs about Dietrich of Bern, in which he is 
described as quite disconnected with the other Saga- 
series, e. g., Ecken Ausfart, Kcinig Laurin, Riesen 
Sigenot ; or where he is in connexion with Etzel only, 
and not with the Nibelungs, e. g., the song of "Dietrich's 


Flight to the Huns;" "Alphart's Tod;" and the 
" Ravenna," or " Rabenschlacht," besides some others. 
The poem of " Rosengarten " is a later attempt to 
connect Dietrich with Sigfrid and the Burgundians. 

The Burgundian Saga-series also possesses a poem, 
which was reproduced separately in this period, on the 
deeds of Walter of Aquitaine. 

The fifth is the North-Grerman, the Frisian-Danish- 
Norman, series of Sagas, which depicts the maritime 
life of the Northern German . The scene is laid in 
Friesland among the islands on the North-Sea. The 
heroes are Hettel, King of the Hegelings (Frisians), 
Horant, King of the Stormans, his attendant and uncle 
Wate, and Hettel's daughter Gudrun. The song of 
Gudrun, in which these sagas are embodied, is, after 
the Nibelungen Not, the finest specimen of the German 
Epic Muse. 

The sixth and last series is the Lombardic. The 
heroes are King Rother, King Otnit, Hugdietrich, and 
his son Wolfdietrich. Their home is Garten (Lago di 
Garda) in Lombardy ; the scene is laid partly in Lom- 
bardy, partly in Southern Tyrol, and partly in the East. 
There are three poems belonging to this series ; the 
tale of King Rother — which belongs to the antecedent 
period, — the poem of King Otnit, and the still more 
elaborate one of Hugdietrich and Wolfdietrich. Ac- 
cording to the legend, Otnit, Hugdietrich, and Wolf- 
dietrich are much older than Dietrich of Bern ; and it 
is not improbable that these Lombard Sagas are based 
originally on traditions, which go farther back than the 
times of the latter. But, in their present shape, they 


bear unmistakeable signs of belonging to the time of 
the Crusades, and are consequently the most modern 
of all the Sagas. Passing over the history of these 
Sagas*, we shall proceed to give an epitome of the 

In Burgundian land, at the old Royal Castle of 
Worms on the Rhine, a noble king's daughter, whose 
father had died young, grew up to blooming woman- 
hood, charming and lovely to behold. Dreams, pro- 
phetic of the future, hover lightly over the head of the 
sweet Kriemhild in the midst of the still seclusion, in 
which, agreeably to the custom of the age, her child- 
hood and commencing youth are spent. She dreams 
that she has a falcon, which she nurtures for many a 
day, until two eagles suddenly swoop down and crush 
her gentle favorite in their cruel talons. Sad at heart, 
when she awakes, she recounts her dream to her 
mother, who thus Interprets her daughter's sweet, but 
fearful, forebodings. 

" The falcon is a noble knight, for whom thy future 
is destined ; may God preserve him, lest thou lose him 
too early." " What sayst thou of knights, dear mother ?" 
replies the daughter ; " I had liefer far be without 
knight's love, and preserve my virgin beauty imtil 
death ; lest my wooing some day end in woe." " Not 

* " Die deutsche Heldensage TOn Wilhelm Grimm, Gottmgen," 1829. 
The only comprehensive description from original sources of the entire 
range of German Sagas. With regard to Grasse's ■work, " Die grossen 
Sagenkreisze des Mittelalters," 1842, we mnst warn our readers in the 
same way as it has been ah-eady done byEoherstein in his "Grundrisz," 
4thedit. p. 175 a. 


SO hasty, my child" rejoins the mother ; " wilt thou 
ever be glad of heart, thou wilt be so from knightly 
wooing. Thou shalt be a noble hero's beauteous wife." 

Thus the first presentiment of the unspeakable woe 
that was to follow, comes from the depths of the 
virgin's heart like a distant echo, and the shade of the 
dream rises higher and higher athwart the clear heaven 
of her life and love. It sweeps ever darker and darker 
over the first spring days of her affection ; ever darker 
and darker over the brilliant marriage feast. The sun's 
rays pale and grow faint through the gloom, till at last 
it sinks with a blood-red glare into eternal night. 

Meanwhile, rejoicing in his youth and strength, the 
bold Sigfrid, son of Sigmund and Sigelinde, lives at 
Santen, on the Lower Rhine. Renowned, even in 
boyhood, for giant strength, he had, as he grew up, 
travelled from land to land, and given proofs of mighty 
prowess. At last a report reaches him of the beautiful 
maiden at Worms on the Upper Rhine, and straightway 
the handsomest, the most engaging, and the noblest 
hero of the day, starts off with his inen of war for 
Worms to court the fairest, the sweetest, and most 
modest damsel that any land could boast of. Here, 
too, a murmur of warning presentiment escapes from 
the lips of his wise father. King Sigmund ; a tear for her 
dear son, whom she fears to lose, falls from the eye of 
Sigelinda upon his strong hand. Still he proceed.s on 
his journey, loaded with rich presents by his parents. 
The strangers halt their richly caparisoned steeds before 
the Royal Castle of Worms : very giants in youthful 
strength, and clad in mail of matchless splendour. But 


nobody recognises the knights that have halted before 
the castle, or the youth of kingly stature at their head. 
So Hagen von Tronei is sent for, who knows all 
foreign lands, but even he is unacquainted with these 
heroes. Still, he sa,ys, they must be princes or princely 
envoys ; whencesoever they come they are high-spirited 
warriors, no doubt. And soon after he adds, " I have 
never seen Prince Sigfrid, but, by my troth, I fain 
must think that it can be only he that stands yonder 
with so lordly a mien. Yes,, it is Sigfrid, who won 
from the dark race of Schilbung and Nibelung the 
vast treasure of red gold /and precious stones ; who 
seized upon their lands, and took in hot fight from the 
dwarf Alberich, his cape, which renders the wearer 
invisible. This is the same Sigfrid, who slew a dragon 
and bathed himself in its blood, so that his skin is as 
invulnerable as horn. Such terrible heroes as these 
must have a friendly reception." 

Sigfrid is entertained in a manner befitting his rank. 
Contests of knightly prowess take place in the court- 
yard of the palace. Kriemhild steals a furtive glance 
through the window, and, at the sights of the youthful 
ero, forgets all the amusements, all the occupations of 
her secluded maidenhood. But a whole year is spent 
by Sigfrid at the court of the Burgundian king before 
he can obtain a sight of her whom he ha,s come to woo. 
He enters the king's service and starts for the wars, 
where he distinguishes himself in many a deed of daring. 
He goes down the Rhine with the Burgundian host, 
and marches through Hessia into the distant land of 
the Saxons, whose king, Liutger, together with King 


Liutgart of Denmark, had declared war against Bur- 
gundy. In the murderous strife Sigfrid bears off the 
palm. He takes Liutgart prisoner, and Liutger with his 
Saxons surrender. Messengers arrive at Worms with 
the joyful news, and one of them is introduced into the 
presence of Kriemhild, whose heart, it is rightly sup- 
posed, is not at Worms, but with the heroes fighting in 
Saxony. " Now, tell me thy news," says Kriemhild, 
" and tell me true, and then I wUl give thee aU my 
gold, and be kind to thee ever after." " No one, my 
noble lady," says the messenger, " was more famous in 
the fray than the stranger from the Netherlands. Sig- 
frid's hand it was that won the day. It was he who 
took, and he who has sent the Saxon hostages that you 
will see come up the Rhine." Hereupon she orders 
ten marks of gold and rich garments to be given to the 
messenger for his tidings, which wer£ dear to all, but 
to none dearer than to the royal maid whose bosom 
bums with a hidden flame. After this, she sits silent 
at the narrow window of the palace, looking down the 
road which must be traversed by the victors. At last 
they appear on the distant plain by the Rhine, and throng 
about the castle flushed with victory and joy ; her lover 
among the number, the hero of heroes, the observed 
of all observers. Still he cannot see her; for, with 
maiden coyness, she keeps her secluded chamber. At 
last a great tournament is fixed for the merry Whit- 
suntide, and from far and near flock the highest and the 
best, among them two and thirty princes, to the court 
of the Burgundian kings; and then, at length, may 
Kriemhild appear for the first time in public, by the 


side of her mother Ute, attended by a hundred cham- 
berlains and a hundred noble matrons and damsels. She 
rises like the dawn from out of the dim clouds, and she 
shines in the mild beauty of youth and silent love like 
the moon and the stars through the mists of night. 
Sigfrid stands aloof " How could I ever think' to woo 
thee. That were a foolish fancy. But must I leave 
thee ; I would sooner die." Hereupon Gunther, in 
courtly fashion, on a hint from Gremot, bids Sigfrid 
approach and greet their sister. The hero advances, 
and bows like a lover before the maiden ; the force of 
longing desire draws them together, and they look at 
each other with sidelong glances of love. Still they 
speak not till after the religious service, which began 
the festival, is over, when the maiden thanks the knight 
for the valorous aid he had given her brothers. " It 
was all done in thy service, Kriemhild," is the answer of 
Sigfrid ; and " now that he has found his tongue," he 
stays for the twelve days of the festival in the neigh- 
bourhood of the loved maiden. The stranger guests 
now depart, and Sigfrid also prepares to set out for 
home ; " for he did not trust himself to woo the object 
of his affections." Nevertheless, he easily allows him- 
self to be persuaded by Giselher to tarry a while longer 
in the spot where he was dearer than all, and where he 
daily saw the fair Kriemhild. 

Now there was a Queen who lived beyond the sea ; 
beautiful she was exceedingly, and possessed withal of 
superhuman strength. Whoever came to woo her 
must first contend with her in hurling the lance, and 
throwing the stone, and springing after the stone when 


thrown, and she promised to be the bride of the man 
who could conquer in all three trials ; if beaten they 
were to lose their heads. Many a champion had come 
to seek the hand of the warrior-virgin Brunhild, but 
none had ever returned. King Gunther of Burgundy 
determines to risk his life for her love, and calls on 
Sigfrid to help him in his wooing. Sigfrid assents, on 
condition that Gunther gives him his sister to wife, 
which Gunther promises to do, so soon as Brunhild 
shall have come to Burgundy. The compact is sealed 
with an oath, and the ship is equipped for the voyage. 
Golden shields and rich apparel are carried down to 
the shore, and many a tearful eye follows the heroes, 
as with swelling sails they set off on their voyage. 
Sigfrid, the skilful seaman, grasps the helm, and Gun- 
ther takes the oar. After a voyage of twelve days they 
arrive at Isenstein, where Brunhild resides. On the 
sea shore they see three vast palaces and a spacious 
hall, surrounded by six-and-eighty towers of strange 
and awful architecture, and all built of green marble. 
Sigfrid alone is acquainted with this wondrous castle ' 
and its lofty mistress. She, too, knows the hero that 
approaches, alas! too well. "Welcome," she says, 
without first asking the name of the strangers, " wel- 
come. Sir Sigfrid to my land ; and wherefore have you 
come ? " " There stands Gunther," he replies, " King 
upon the Khine. To win thy love hath he come. He 
is my lord, and I his vassal. In thy behoof are we 
here." The contest now begins: Sigfrid supplying the 
place of Gunther, who has no chance with the maiden, 
such is her supernatural strength. The magic cape 


makes Sigfrid invisible. Brunhild's terrible ger (spear), 
with its heavy shaft and broad three-edged iron, is now 
brought forth; and then a ponderous round stone, so 
heavy that it requires the force of twelve heroes to drag 
it into the ring. She turns back the sleeves from her 
white arms, grasps the shield and spear, and commences 
the fight. Gunther, who cannot see Sigfrid, trembles 
at the sight of his antagonist, although the struggle 
was of his own seeking. Sigfrid takes Gunther's 
shield and bids him only imitate his gestures. The 
Valkyr hurls the spear, and the sparkles flash from the 
shield of her opponent, like flames waving in the wind. 
Sigfrid reels for a moment under the force of the blow, 
but recovers himself directly, and then hurls the spear 
against the maiden with still greater force ; she wards 
it off' with her shield, but falls. "Thanks for the shot," 
she cries, springing to her feet, "thanks, noble Gunther." 
Enraged at her discomfiture, she now seizes the stone, 
hurls it afar, and then at a bound springs beyond it, 
making her armour clatter again. But the bold Sig- 
frid, lithe and agile of limb, seizes at once the mighty 
stone, casts it still further than the maiden, and in the 
same Instant that he throws it, makes an enormous 
bound, far outstripping her's, although he bore the 
king along with him under his arm. The Valkyr turns 
to her attendants with the exclamation, " Come hither, 
my, mates and men. King Gunther shall be your lord." 
Preparations are now made for departure. Sigfrid, 
after first paying a visit to his kingdom of the Nibe- 
lungs, and taking from thence much treasure and many 
men, proceeds in advance to Worms to announce the 


victory, and the approach of the new queen. The ob- 
ject had been gained. BrunhUd is betrothed to Gun- 
ther, while Kriemhild and Sigfrid, in the presence of 
the whole court, exchange the kiss of betrothal. But 
meanwhile, tears fall down the cheeks of the beautiful 
Brunhild. Sad and conscience-stricken, Gunther de- 
mands the cause of her grief She answers, " I weep 
for thy sister Kriemhild, because thou hast wedded her 
not to a king, but to one of thy vassals." " Peace, my 
fair queen," replies Gunther, " I will tell thee another 
time why I have given my sister to Sigfrid ; he will 
make her a good spouse." 

This is the first fold of the unlucky knot, the secret 
windings of which are hereafter to be revealed. As 
we have seen above, Brunhild and Sigfrid were not 
strangers to each other, the cause which she assigns for 
her grief is evidently a feigned one ; for she must know 
that Sigfrid is as much a king as Gunther. It is equally 
plain that Gunther gives her an evasive answer, for fear 
of betraying himself. It must have been all along appa- 
rent to the reader that Brunhild had some previous 
claim to Sigfrid's affection. Her love, long suppressed, 
now bursts forth into the flames of jealousy. And here 
we get a glimpse of the deities of the old pagan world. 
A writing appears on the wall, full of threatening 
augury, which makes the hearts of the beholders shud- 
der. Brunhild, — as we know from the Scandinavian 
sagas, in which this legend, originally a German one, is 
preserved in its pagan form, — was a Valkyr of the great 
German God, Wuotan (Odin), who had sent her to 
sleep with a prick of the magic thorn, and shut her up, 

s 2 


for a punishment, within a circling wall of flaming fire. 
Upon this, Sigfridj the victorious god of the sun and of 
spring, the god of nature with the bright shining eyes, 
breaks through the flaming wall, and delivers the cap- 
tive. They are then wedded, the sun-born god with the 
earth-born maiden. But short is their nuptial joy. 
Sigfrid departs, departs for ever from his young bride ; 
just like the year, ever moving onward In his remorseless 
career, parts from his first love, the verdant spring, for 
his second love, the glowing summer. 

This legend still lives on In the mouth of the Germans, 
but In an altered shape. Instead of the awful Valkyr, 
surrounded by a flaming wall, we have In the fairy tale, 
Dornroschen, an enchanted maiden of wondrous beauty, 
who has been pricked by a spindle, and sleeps behind 
a wall of thorns until released by her deliverer.* 

* For a criticism of the mythology of the " Nlbelmigenlied," see W. 
Grimm's " Deutsche Heldensage ;" Lachmann, "Kritik der Sage ron den 
Nibelmigen " (first in Ehein. Museum, 1 829, pp. 435-464 ; and then in 
" Anmerkungen zu den Nihelungen und zurKlage," 1836, pp. 333-349), 
W. Miiller," Versuch einermythoIogischenErklarungderNibelungsage," 
1841. All the other attempts at a mythological or historical exposition 
of the " Niebelungensage '' are failures ; e. g., Cruger's " Der ITrsprung des 
Nibelungenlieds," 1841. From this condemnation we must except Peter 
Erasmus Miiller's excellent " Sagabibliothek," which, however, treats 
more of the northern shape of the Saga. To the observations in the 
text on the origination of the " Nibelungenlied" from separate songs, we 
may add thatW. Miiller, in his " Ueber die Liedervon der Nibelungen," 
broaches quite a novel idea, viz., that the first part of the poem, with the 
exception of a few later additions, originates from two authors. This 
idea, which is based on good grounds, is a medium between Lachmann's 
notion and the old hypothesis, which ascribed the whole work to one 
writer only. In 1853 Adolf Holtzman started a conjecture which was 
meant to upset the whole of Lachmann's theory about the origin of the 
Nibelungenlied. This he endeavoured to do by showing that the Eecension 


In the " Nibelungenlied," at least in its present shape, 
the above mythic background is either presupposed, or 
purposely omitted. But if we lift up the curtain,, 
what a wondrous vista may be seen in the far distance. 
The more than human Valkyrs, Sigfrid the magnificent 
God of Light and Power ; Wuotan, the Lord of the 
World and Giver of Victory ; and beyond these, Do- 
nar and Ziu, Fro and Frowa, and all the figures, whe- 
ther dreadful or benign, of the old pagan mythology 
of Germany ; and further still, the terrible powers of 
Nature herself, the phantoms of a wild primaeval 

But to return to the course of our story. It is true 
that only at intervals we obtain a glimpse of the 
demons lowering in the background ; but there is no 
lack of demons of another sort. Jealousy, envy, 
hatred, bloody revenge, nre all there. But these are 
blended with the noblest aspirations of the human 
breast, with love, and fidelity, and gratitude ; just in 
fact as these are blended indissolubly in the heart of 
man, so that one and the same pulsation produces love 
and hate, envy and gratitude. This transformation of 
the Saga from the harsher mythic character into a 
milder and softer form, is solely attributable to the 

of the poem, which was declared hy Lachmann to be the oldest, was only 
a clumsy ahbreviation of the detailed description ; while this last was the 
original shape of the poem, as it appears in the text of Laszberg's MS. 
and edition. This assertion occasioned a considerable contest, which is 
not yet decided. Holtzmann's proposition can only gain the victory if 
he succeed in showing that all the oldest German epics, — the "Beovulf,' 
the " Hildebrandslied," and even the " Heliand," and the later popular 
poems, are clumsy abbreyiations of broader originals. 

D 3 


humanizing influences of Christianity. Ominously the 
tale moves on. The first step has been taken towards 
the fulfilment of Kriemhild's dream. Brunhild's 
jealousy has been awakened. Although she had been 
conqueredj yet ever and anon the wild spirit of war 
and contention comes upon her. On the evening of 
her marriage she has a contest with Gunther, who, 
being no longer assisted by Sigfrid, as on the former 
occasion, is shamefully beaten. To heighten his 
disgrace, the bride binds him hand and foot with her 
girdle, and hangs him up by a hook in the wall, from 
which he is not released until after abject entreaty. 
Sad and disconcerted, he applies next day to Sigfrid, 
who slips into his magic cape, contends with the bride, 
and overcomes her as before. But this time he takes 
from her, unobserved, the girdle and a ring, both of 
which he gives to his wife Kriemhild, a gift which is 
destined to be fatal to himself and spouse, and not only 
so, but to all their kith and kin. 

But the Nemesis still slimibers. The happy pair 
set out for the land of Sigfrid's parents, Sigmund and 
Sigelinde. Sigmund resigns the crown in favour of 
his son. Kriemhild becomes the mother of a son, who 
is called Gunther, after his uncle. Brunhild also bears 
a son, who is called Sigfrid, For ten years Sigfrid 
and his spouse live in undisturbed happiness. He, the 
great ruler, not only of the Netherlands, but also of the 
more distant country of the Nibelungs, and the posses- 
sor of vast treasures ; she, the happiest of queens. 

But ten years have not extinguished the fire that 
burns in the bosom of Brunhild. "How is it," she 


often says to her husband, "how is it that all these 
years Kriemhild has never visited our court ? Is 
not Sigfrid our liegeman, and yet these ten years he 
has done no suit or service?" Gunther, who is well 
aware that Sigfrid's arrival will only bring to light his 
disgrace and shame, replies soothingly, " How can I 
bring them hither, when they live so far away? That 
were too much to require of them." But Brunhild 
knew how to touch the strings of her husband's weak 
though haughty heart : " "Were he twice as great and 
rich, and lived twice as far off, yet he must obey, what- 
ever his lord commands him. Besides, how delightful 
it would be to see Kriemhild again, so modest, so grace- 
ful, and so kind." Gunther yields, and sends messen- 
gers to Sigfrid, who find him in Norway, at the castle 
of the Nibelungs, and bid him to a festival at Worms, 
on Solstice-day, the usual period for such entertain- 
ments. Sigfrid, after taking counsel with his father 
and followers, resolves to accept the invitation. Accom- 
Danied by Kriemhild and the aged Sigmund (his mother, 
Sigelinde was dead), and a thousand noble knights for 
his retinue, he sets off for "Worms, joyous and unsus- 
pecting, and bearing with him rich presents for the 
Burgundian court. His little son, Gunther, who is 
left behind, is fated never to see his father and mother 

Arrived at King Gunther's court, they meet with a 
brilliant reception. Thousands of knights flock to the 
tournament from every side. The kings, with their 
escort of gay cavaliers, ride in sumptuous apparel 
through the streets; noble dames and beauteous damsels 

D 4 


appear at the windows. The sound of trumpets, of 
drums, and flutes re-echoes through the spacious city 
on the Rhine. But amid these festal strains ever and 
anon the shrill tones of jealous hate fall upon the ear ; 
the hoarse voices of contention drown the sweet mur- 
murs of the flute, and give the murderous signal which 
shall soon affright the halls of the castle and the streets 
of the city, shall soon fill every land, and shall make 
many a heart to quake, even when a thousand years 
have rolled by. 

The two queens sit beside each other, as in the fair 
days of yore. Kriemhild thinks of those days, when 
she only enjoyed in prospect the happiness which is 
now hers in reality. " I have a husband," so she says 
in the innocence of her loving heart, " who deserves to 
be lord of all these kingdoms." The fatal spark had 
fallen. " How," rejoins Brunhild, with darkening 
visage, " How were that possible ? These kingdoms 
belong to Gunther, and will continue so." Kriemhild, 
lost in loving affection for her lord, does not hear the 
words of rising passion, and goes on in her careless 
prattle. "Look at him, how noble he looks yonder, 
marching before the rest like the moon before the stars. 
Therefore it is that my heart is glad." Brunhild 
rejoins that Gunther takes precedence before all the 
other princes ; and Kriemhild retorts that Sigfrid is as 
good as Gunther. Then it is that the rage of Brun- 
hild bursts forth. " When thy brother wooed and won 
me, Sigfrid himself said that he was Gunther's vassal, 
and as such I have always considered him." Kriemhild 
begs her to desist from these observations, for her 


brothers had not given her to a vassal. " I shall not 
stop," retorts Brunhild; "thy husband was and is 
nought but a liegeman/' Then it is that the just wrath 
of Kriemhild finds vent : " Yet Sigfrid is more noble 
than my brother Gunther ; besides which, it is strange 
that he has never paid him all these years either service 
or tribute." " Well, we shall see," replies the other, 
" whether people will show you as much respect as you 
me." "Yes, we shall see," cries Kriemhild, " whether, 
in the procession to church, I shall not take precedence 
of you." 

The queens go separately to the Minster. Brunhild 
stops before the building and waits for RriemhUd. 
When the latter arrives, she bids her stand still with 
an imperious voice, in the face of all her train, " for a 
vassal's wife has no right to go before her queen." 
Then for the first time, the gentle woman flies into a 
rage. " It beseemeth not thee to talk. Sigfrid wooed 
and then deserted thee. He, and not Gunther, was thy 
vanquisher, so 'tis thou who art a vassal's wife ; " and 
then, repenting of her words as soon as she had uttered 
them, she adds, " Thou art to blame for this quarrel. 
It grieves me much, I do assure thee. Most ready 
am I to be thy true friend again.'' But no. As they 
came out of the Minster, Brunhild stops Kriemhild, 
and requests her to explain, in order that she may take 
sanguinary vengeance on Sigfrid, if he has boasted of 
her love. Kriemhild shows the ring, and then — upon 
Brunhild saying that she had stolen it — the girdle. 
Humbled, yet breathing vengeance against Sigfrid for 
betraying her, Brunhild resolves upon his death. But 

D 5 


it is not true that Sigfrid has ever boasted of his 
triumphs. All he had told Kriemhild was, that the 
ring and girdle once belonged to Brunhild. And so 
he says, "They have both forgotten themselves. It 
grieves me sorely, Gunther, that my wife hath 
troubled thine. Let us, and the women also, say no 
more about it." 

But Brunhild's wrath is not to be appeased. Boiling 
with impotent rage, she keeps her chamber, when 
Hagen finds her, and hears from her own lips the deep 
insult that had been put upon her. His queen weeps. 
She has been insulted by a vassal; he must die. 
KriemhUd's three brothers, and Ortwin of Metz are 
consulted. Giselher alone, the youngest of the three, 
looks on the affair as a mere woman's quarrel, and far 
too insignificant to be atoned for by Sigfrid's death. 
The rest, Gunther among the number, after a short 
hesitation, resolve that he must die. A false alarm of 
war is to be spread ; Sigfrid is sure to go on the expe- 
dition, and at a favourable opportunity he is to be 

Before leaving for the war Hagen waits on Kriem- 
hild to bid her the customary adieu. She has almost 
forgotten the dispute, and has not the faintest suspicion 
that she sees before her one who has sworn the death of 
her husband. "Hagen," she says, "we are relations. 
To whom rather than to thee shall I entrust the safety 
of my Sigfrid ? Guard him well, I charge thee on thine 
allegiance. When he bathed in the dragon's gore there 
was one spot between his shoulder-blades which was 
covered by a broad leaf of the linden. Here he is 


vulnerable. When the war spears are flying thick one 
might strike him there. So shield him, Hagen, I be- 
seech thee." "Well," says the traitor, "but sew, I 
pray thee, a mark, my lady, on his dress, just in the 
exact spot which I am to guard. " And so the unsus- 
pecting creature sews a silken cross on her husband's 
tunic with her own hand. The expedition being now 
no longer necessary, it is changed into a grand hunting 
party. Sigfrid takes a last farewell of his affectionate 
spouse. Her soul is troubled with dark forebodings, 
just as it was in the days of her childhood, when she 
dreamt of the falcon and the eagles ; for she has had a 
dream where she saw two cliffs fall upon Sigfrid, in the 
ruins of which he disappears. Sigfrid comforts her. 
Nobody can be his foe ; he has been kind to all. He 
will soon be back again. She fears, but what and 
whom she knows not. Hagen, the only one that could 
be a source of alarm to her, she thinks she has made 
her friend. But she parts from Sigfrid with the words, 
" Eight ' sorry I that thou dost leave me thus. " The 
chase is over. The hunters are wearied and thirsty, 
but they have nothing at hand to slake their thirst 
withal. Hagen, however, bethinks him of a fountain 
in the neighbouring forest, whither, by his advice, they 
repair. The wide-spreading linden that shades the 
fountain is in sight, when Hagen expresses a wish to 
have a specimen of Sigfrid's renowned speed of foot. 
" Let us race to the fountain, " is Sigfrid's reply ; " I 
will retain my coat and spear and shield ; you throw 
yours aside." Off they set, bounding like panthers; 
but Sigfrid comes in far the first. He then lays 

s 6 


down his arms, and waits till the king comes up and 
drinks, before venturing to quench his own thirst. 
When Gunther has drunk, he also stoops down to the 
spring. While he is so engaged the treacherous Hagen 
removes the arms out of his reach and darts the spear 
right through the cross mark on Sigfrid's back. Mor- 
tally wounded, he springs to his feet to take vengeance 
on his murderer. The only weapon left him, however, 
was his bejewelled shield, with which he rushes upon 
Hagen. Out fly the precious stones with the violence 
of his blows. Hagen is smitten to the earth, and the 
shield is dashed to pieces. But the hand of death is 
upon the hero. His cheeks grow pale and his feet 
totter, and the husband of Kriemhild sinks down among 
the flowers which are bedabbled with his heart's blood. 
"Cowards," he cries to his murderers, "it is thus ye 
have rewarded my fidelity; it is thus that ye treat your 
blood relations." The Burgundian knights now rush 
to the spot, and break out into loud lament. Gunther 
too is heard bewailing. Waking for a moment from 
his death-trance the murdered man exclaims, " Why 
weep for the mischief ye yourselves have done? It 
were better omitted." The fiendish Hagen mocks at 
all alike, and rejoices at the catastrophe. This draws 
one more sentence from the dying man. • " Had I but 
known your murderous intent, defence had been an easy 
thing. Alas ! for thee, my wife, Kriemhild. Alas ! for 
my son, that one can say of him that his nearest kin 
were guilty of murder;" and then, still thinking of his 
best-beloved, he says, " Noble King Gunther, if thou 
canst still be true to any one, then let me commend to 


thee my wife. She is thy sister; protect her as becomes 
a prince. Never again shall I be seen by my father 
and my men." And so he dies. His corpse is placed 
on a gold-red shield and carried to Worms, on the 
Rhine. It is proposed by some that they shall say he 
was slain by robbers. "Not so," cries Hagen; "what 
recks it if Kriemhild know that I slew him. She has 
insulted Brunhild too deeply for me to care whether 
she weeps or no." 

They arrive at Worms, and the wretch, Hagen, 
deposits the dead body at Kriemhild's door, being well 
aware that she will see it in the morning when she goes 
to matins. And so it comes to pass. The domestic 
who precedes Kriemhild with a light bids her stop, for 
the corpse of a knight is lying in the street. A loud 
cry of horror bursts from Kriemhild. She knows who 
it is without being told. " They have murdered thee ! " 
she screams. " Thy shield has not been hewn in 
battle. Whoever has done this shall die." Sigfrid's 
father and retainers are awakened by the noise, and 
they rush forward through the purlieus of the palace, 
bent on revenge. Kriemhild bids them bide their time. 
There was a superstition in those days, which even now 
is not extinct, that when the murderer approached the 
bier, the wounds of the murdered man would break out 
afresh. She resorts to this test. And just when Gun- 
ther was in the act of trying to persuade her that her 
husband had fallen by some unknown robbers, Hagen 
comes near, and the wounds begin to flow. " I know 
the robbers well," she cries, " and God will avenge the 
deed." The body is placed in a coffin and borne out to 


the grave, followed by Kriemliild in an agony of woe. 
The coffin, rich with gold and silver, is broken open for 
her to take another look at Sigfrid. With her white 
hand she lifts up the head and imprints a kiss on his 
pale lips. 

Sigmund and his retainers depart from Worms ; but 
Ki'iemhild cannot quit the spot where her love began 
and had so luckless an ending. She cares not for 
crown or treasures, nor yet for her child, now that 
Sigfrid is gone., Two thoughts alone possses her 
mind : grief and revenge. At first grief takes the pre- 
eminence ; but by degrees revenge asserts its power, 
and therefore it is that she is indifferent to her child. 
It may here be remarked that in this Saga, in its oldest 
form, no mention is made of the child. So Homer, in 
the classical epic, is averse to introducing characters 
which are of little interest for the development of the 

For three years after the death of Sigfrid, Kriemhild 
vouchsafes not a word to her brother Gunther. Upon 
Hagen she will not even deign to look. For the pur- 
pose of reconciling their sister, the brothers send for 
the famous hoard (hort) which Sigfrid gave to Kriem- 
hild for a wedding present, and which is guarded by 
Alberich in the land of the Nibelungs. For four nights 
and as many days twelve wagons are employed in trans- 
porting the treasure from the hollow mountain, where 
it lay, to the ship. On its arrival it is presented to 
Kriemhild, who becomes friends with the brothers, but 
not with Hagen. To alleviate her woe, Kriemhild 
spends her time in munificent deeds of charity. 


It is now that her adversary Hagen again crosses 
her path. He fancies that her almsgiving will gain all 
the people to her side and make them disaffected to the 
king. In opposition to .the wish of the brothers he 
seizes on the treasure. Gemot advises that they should 
sink it into the Rhine, which is accordingly done, an 
oath being taken by all that they will never divulge 
the spot.* 

When the Nibelung's hoard has been thus brought 
into the land of the Burgundians, they take the name 
of Nibelungen, just in the same way that Sigfrid him- 
self was called Nibelung, or lord of the Nibelungs, on 
becoming possessed of the treasure. 

For this reason the second part of the poem was, at 
the time of its composition, called " Nibelungen Not," 
while the whole now bears the name of " Nibelungen 

In order fully to comprehend the importance of this 
treasure, the abstraction of which stirred up afresh 
Kriemhild's wrath against her brothers, and led to their 
downfall, we must remember what immense store the 
Old-Germans, at least from the third or fourth century, 
set upon " red gold " and jewels. Coloured robes and 
golden ornaments, as may be seen from the old ballads, 
were the customary gifts of kings. In the poem of 
" Beovulf," ring-giver or gold-dispenser is synonymous 
with " king." 

But another circumstance deserves observation. Not 
only does the Nibelung-gold give its own name to the 

* According to the popular tradition, it was buried in the Rhine, be- 
tween Worms and Lorsch, where it continues to this day. 


successive possessors of it, but it also seems to bring 
about their ruin. Schilbung and Nibelung are slain by 
Sigfrid on account of the treasure. Sigfrid, the second 
possessor, is cut off in the zenith of his renown. And 
the Burgundian kings, the third possessors, are, as the 
poem expressly states, destroyed for not revealing 
where the treasure was hid. It is plain that we are 
here upon the dark confines of Pagan mythology. The 
gold is the property of the sons of darkness, of mist 
(nebel: hence Nibelungen. Niflheim is, in the Northern 
mythology, the name for the Land of the Dead). 

Whoever gives himself up to the gold, falls into the 
power of the spirits of the subterranean world ; becomes 
in fact a Nibelung, or doomed to death ; while the gold 
itself is destined to pass from his hands. It is accord- 
ingly sunk into the Rhine, where the spirits regain 
possession of it ; the idea of the fatal fascination which 
gold exercises on man, thus worked out, affords a 
glimpse at the deeply imaginative cast of mind possessed 
by the old Germans.* 

The period of vengeance now arrives, and we pass 
into the second part of the poem. In distant Hungary 
(Heunen or Hunnenland), Helche, the wife of Etzel, 
King of the Huns, dies. Her two sons had previously 
fallen by the side of Dietrich of Bern in the battle 
of Ravenna. Etzel wishes to marry again, and the 
widow of Sigfrid is recommended to him by his faithful 
counsellor. Margrave Riidiger of Bechlarn. After some 
hesitation as to whether he ought to marry a Christian, 

'See the edition published by Cotta, and so ably illustrated by Schnorr, 


he decides in the affirmative, and despatches KUdiger 
himself to the Burgundian court with offers of marriage, 
EUdiger, on his journey westward, stops at his home, 
Bechlarn, in Austria, and relates to his wife Gotelinde, 
and his daughter, the object of his journey, who, 
though rejoiced that he should have been selected for 
so honourable a mission, grieve for the death of Helche. 
Riidiger arrives at Worms incognito. Hagen, however, 
exclaims in astonishment, " 'Tis long since I saw the 
bold blade RUdiger; but if I am not much deceived, 
this must be B.iidiger himself come from the land of 
the Huns." " Wherefore," asks the king, " should he 
come hither?" But at this moment a recognition takes 
place, and there is great joy in consequence. Hagen 
had formerly met Riidiger at the court of King Etzel. 
The king and his brothers are in favour of the proposal, 
but Hagen is against it. " Friend Hagen," rejoins the 
king, "thou canst now give a proof of thy fidelity, 
and make it up with Kriemhild by consenting to her 
marriage." But Hagen remains immoveable. " Let 
Kriemhild wear Helche's crown, and thou wilt see 
what misfortunes she will cause us." Hagen alone of 
all the court, he who perpetrated the murder, has dark 
presages of the impending destruction that will follow 
her marriage. Kriemhild, too, declines the proposition, 
" God forbid that you should jest thus with a poor 
wretch like me. What should I have to do with a man 
who has already won one woman's heart?" Neverthe- 
less she consents to see Riidiger; but no sooner has 
she done this, than she begins a piteous wail for her 
murdered husband. Riidiger appears the next day. 


But she replies to his offers with " Margrave EUdiger, 
had you known what I have endured, you would never 
ask me to wed again. In Sigfrid I lost more than any 
woman can hope to regain." Still Kiidiger renews his 
solicitations, when she asks time for reflection till the 
following day. Meanwhile, her brothers, Giselher and 
Gemot, reason with her. " If any can abate thy grief 
'tis Etzel. From the Ehine to the Khone, from the 
Elbe to the ocean, there is no monarch so powerful as 
he." " Weeping and wailing befit me more than royal 
pomp," she replies ; " I can no longer queen it as of yore. 
My beauty is all faded." The night is spent by her in 
sorrowful reflection. When E-iidiger comes next day 
to hear her final answer, she persists in her refusal ; 
until he says to her aside, " Had you none else in 
Hunnen-land but me and my true retainers, none 
should insult you with impunity." She raises herself 
in an instant at the words ; the thought of vengeance 
filling her with new life. " Swear then," she cries, " to 
avenge my wrongs." Kiidiger swears, little suspecting 
what bloody thoughts lurk in her bosom ; or that the oath 
will bring about destruction and woe to him and his. 

Sh then gives him her hand in token of consent, 
and before long they set off to Hungary, her brothers 
bearing her company as far as Veringen, on the 
Danube. On the way they stop at Eudiger's castle 
of Bechlam, on the Danube, where his wife Gotelind 
receives her new mistress with much affection. 

After a short interval of rest they proceed by way of 
Medelike (hodii Molk) to the castle of Zeizenmauer, 
where numberless hordes, which are subject to Attila's 


sway, join the procession. At Tulna she is received 
liy Etzel with four-and-twenty kings and princes in his 
train. Among those who do homage to her here are 
Blodel, Etzel's brother, Hawart the Bold, King of the 
Danes, and his retainer Iring the True. Here come 
Imfrid, Landgrave of Thuringia (known in history as 
Hermanfrid, son-in-law to Theodoric the Great), and 
the Saxon Ltords, Gibeke and Hornboge, and Prince 
Ramung of Wlachenland. But who is it that stands at 
the head of that group of knights with the wolf- 
helmets ? He is tall, and like a lion about his loins, 
which look as if they were cast in bronze. His clear 
eye and kingly forehead remind her of Sigfrid, but 
it is Sigfrid's cheerful youth changed into the sober 
experience of ripe manhood, across whose brow the 
storms of fortune have passed. His redundant locks 
are confined by a kingly circlet ; with his nervous left 
hand he grasps his sword-hilt, while his right rests on 
a lion-shield. It is Dietrich of Bern, King of the 
Goths, the greatest hero of his time, and, after Sigfrid, 
the most renowned in German legend, who, together 
with his band of Wolfings, is a guest at the court of 
Etzel. On their arrival at Vienna the marriage is 
celebrated with surpassing magnificence, and the fes- 
tivities continue for seven days. But Kriemhild, the 
cause of all this vast concourse and jubilee, "her 
thoughts were far away on the Ehine, and on the 
happy days she spent with Sigfrid. Her eyes grew 
moist, but she was forced to hide her- tears." And 
thus she descends the Danube to her new home of 
Etzelnburg, sick at heart in the midst of her splendour. 


Seven years have elapsed, when she brings forth a 
prince, who is christened Ortlleb. After this, six 
more years expire, and then the day of vengeance 
begins. " Many a long year I have been in a foreign 
land," she says to Etzel, " and none of my relations 
have been to see me ; and people say that I am an 
exile who has no friends or home. Send, I pray thee, 
to Worms, and invite all my relatives to a festival." 
The king at once despatches the warrior-minstrels, 
Werbel and Swemlin, to invite the Burgundian court 
to an entertainment on Solstice-day. 

When the envoys arrive at Worms, seven days are 
taken to consider whether the invitation should be 
accepted. Hagen strenuously opposes going. "We 
shall lose our life and honour. Etzel'S'wife will have 
her revenge at last." Rumold, another knight, is of 
the same opinion. But Gemot says, " If you are 
afraid, we will go alone." Hagen on this advises that 
if they must go they had better not go unguarded. 
His advice is followed. Among the multitude of 
retainers that join the expedition is the bold and 
joyous Volker of Alzei, skilled in the viol and in song, 
and also Dankwart, Hagen's brother. Kriemhild is 
full of terrible joy when she hears that they are coming. 
Her aim is accomplished. 

Dark forebodings of the future still agitate the Bur- 
gundian court. Ute, the aged mother of Kriemhild, 
dreams before they start that all the birds in the land 
are dead. Hagen, disconcerted at the omen, would 
again have dissuaded them from the expedition. But, 
stung by the ridicule of Gemot, he determines to be of 


the party ; and, on account of his knowledge of the 
roads, is selected as guide. 

On arriving at the Danube, they find the waters out. 
Hagen, who goes through the lonely forest in search of 
the ferryman, hears the sound of splashing waters, and 
sees two water-sprites, or swan-maidens, bathing. Being 
aware that they could foretell the future, he has recourse 
to a stratagem for the purpose of obtaining the infor- 
mation he desires. He removes their clothes ; upon 
which the forms of the deep approach, and, to get her 
clothes back again, one of them says, " Great honour 
awaits you in Etzel's land." But the next moment the 
sinister voice of the other calls out of the waves, 
" Hagen, son of Aldrian, be warned. Go back while 
there is time. None of you wiU return over the 
Danube except the chaplain of the king." 

By the assistance of the spirits he then finds the 
ferryman, whom, after a desperate struggle, he murders, 
casting his corpse into the water. After ferrying all 
the rest of the party over, he returns for the chaplain, 
whom, to break the spell, he hurls into the stream. 
" God's poor priest" at first tries to regain the boat, 
but is thrust back into the water by the merciless 
Hagen. He then makes for the shore which they had 
left, and which he succeeds in reaching. Hagen, when 
he perceives him escape, knows that all is over, and 
breaks the boat to pieces. Henceforward he is prepared 
for death. 

In their passage through Bavaria they have a fight 
with Gelfrat, the reigning prince, in which Dankwart 
plays the most conspicuous part. At last they arrive 


at the castle of Bechlarn, -where they meet with a most 
friendly reception. It often occurs in real life that the 
destruction of all our domestic happiness is preceded by 
some moment of intense pleasure. So it is here. "We 
have a beautiful picture of domestic felicity in the noble 
Eiidiger, with his gentle spouse Gotelind, and their 
blooming daughter, Dietlinde, who receive the party 
with the greatest hospitality. The modest Dietlinde 
gives them each the kiss of welcome, till she comes to 
Hagen, whose ferocious visage makes her shudder; but, 
being admonished by her father, she offers him her pale 
cheek. In the afternoon she again joins the festive 
throng, and listens to the music of Volker von Alzei. 
Good fellowship has reached Its height, when the Bur- 
gundians sue for the hand of Dietlinde for the young 
prince Giselher. The betrothal at once takes place ; 
and it Is arranged that they shall marry on the return 
of the Burgundians homeward. Volker again delights 
them all with his various songs, some grave, some gay, 
till the hour of separation arrives. Before parting, 
Kiidlger presents Gemot with his favourite sword, 
which he has wielded in many a battle. Gemot wears 
it from that time forward, and the last blow he deals 
with it Is on the head of the noble donor. Hagen 
also receives as a souvenir from Gotellnde the shield- 
of her father, Nodung, which had hung up as a precious 
relic in Kiidiger's hall of arms. 

Old Hildebrand, Dietrich's retainer, Is the first to 
hear of their arrival In Hungary, and bears the tidings 
to his master, who at once rides forth to meet them. 
Hagen espies him coming, and says, " Up, noble lords 


and kings ; yonder comes a royal band. It is the daring 
warriors of the Amelungs, with him of Bern at their 
head."' Up stand the princes to receive Dietrich, who 
dismounts. "Welcome Gunther, Gemot, and Giselher ; 
welcome Hagen, Volker, and Dankwart. Know ye 
not how much Kriemhild still grieves for the hero from 
the-Mbelung-land. " "She may grieve for long, for 
that matter," retorts the unfeeling Hagen; "he was 
done to death many a year ago. She had best hold to 
the Hun-king. Sigfrid will never come back. " " How 
Sigfrid died it boots not now to ask," replies the Gothic 
king ; " enough that as long as Kriemhild lives, she 
threatens woe. Hagen, thou champion of the Nibelungs, 
beware of her." Dietrich hereupon further informs 
them in confidence that Etzel's wife prays each morning 
to God in heaven for vengeance on Sigfrid's murderers. 
" It can't be altered now," chimes in the merry musician, 
Volker ; " let us off and away to Etzel's court and wait 
for whatever betide." 

The news of the Burgundians' approach having now 
reached Etzel and his queen, they go to the window 
and see the well-known banners just entering the castle. 
" Those are my relatives," cries Kriemhild; "whoever is 
true to me, let him remember my sorrow." The Huns 
flock together to get a sight of fierce Hagen who slew 
Sigfrid, Kriemhild's former spouse. There he comes on 
his lofty steed, the dark, grey-haired warrior, with his 
fiery eye and fearful countenance ; his frame as if it 
were of wrought iron. He dismounts and approaches 
Dietrich. "Who is that strong warrior standing by 
the side of Dietrich ?" exclaims the Hun-king from the 


window. An old Burgundian, who had accompanied 
Kriemhild hither, replies, " That is him of Tronei : his 
sire was Aldrian. He looks friendly there, by Dietrich's 
side, but he is a man of fiercest mood." And the king 
remembers how, in days gone by, Aldrian was at his 
court, and how he himself, being then but a stripling, 
contended in many trials of skill and strength with 
Hagen and Walter of Wasichenstein. 

The mass of the Burgundians are lodged in the 
neighbourhood, under the command of Dankwart; while 
the kings and higher nobles take up their abode in the 
palace. In the midst of the bustle Hagen meets Volker, 
and, conscious of their approaching fate, they swear to 
stand by each other until death. From a window 
Kriemhild sees them sitting on a bench of stone, with 
a crowd of Huns staring at them in silent awe. She 
bursts into tears, and when her people demand the 
cause of her weeping, bids them take vengeance upon 
Hagen. Sixty men arm and descend towards the court- 
yard, led by the queen, who purposes surprising Hagen 
into a public confession of his crime. "I know him 
well," she says, " he is so insolent that he won't deny it." 
Volker, who perceives the crowd descending the stairs, 
bids Hagen be on his guard, who expresses utter con- 
tempt for such adversaries. "But, Volker," he con- 
tinues, " art sure thou wilt stand by me, as I by thee ?" 
" That will I, as long as life shall last," answers Volker. 
" Come one, come all, I'll never budge a foot." "May 
God in heaven reward thee," replies his friend, " what 
want I more ? " This oath of mutual fidelity is preserved 
throughout. Were it not for this redeeming feature,. 


Hagen would be a perfect monster. Volker rises on 
the approach of the queen, but Hagen retains his seat 
with an air of cool defiance. But his insolence does 
not stop here. He places across his knee a gleaming 
sword, the hilt of which is set with a jasper green as 
grass. Kriemhild recognises It at once. It is the 
renowned Balmung which used to hang at Sigfrid's 
side. This was indeed a cruel thrust, ripping up 
afresh the old heart's wound. " Who sent for thee. 
Sir Hagen? How dared you ride hither after what 
you've done ?" " Nobody sent for me," is the reply ; 
" three kings were bidden bere. They are my masters, 
and I their man. Where they are am I also." " You 
know surely why I hate you," she continues ; " you 
slew Sigfrid, whom I shall never cease to mourn." 
"What need of mincing matters further," he bursts 
out. " Ay ! I slew Sigfrid because the dame Kriem- 
hild insulted thp fair Brunhild. Do your worst; here 
am I to answer for the wrong." The signal of mortal 
defiance has thus been given. But a pause ensues. 
The Huns fear to begin the attack on Hagen armed 
with the sword of Sigfrid, and the minstrel Volker 
with his sword-fiddle-bow ;* till at last the two grim 
warriors rise quietly from the bench, and with firm 
tread stalk across to the hall, to defend their masters in 
case of need. The queen follows them to greet her 
relatives ; but only to Giselher, her youngest brother, 
will she vouchsafe the kiss of amity. On perceiving 

* The bold minstrel was in utrumque paratus : to fight with stern 
necessity, or sweep the strings of his instrument, gay even amid the 
storm of fate. — Editor. 



this, Hagen immediately fastens his helm tighter. 
Kriemhild then enquires for the Nibelung treasure ; 
had they brought It with them? "The Nibelungen- 
hort," replies Hagen, " was sunk into the Ehine, and 
there it will stay till doomsday." And then he adds 
contemptuously, "I haye had enough. to bring from 
the Rhine, what with my shield and helm, and sword 
and buckler." On Kriemhild's next requesting them 
to deliver up their arms, as was usual on a friendly 
■visit, Hagen is against complying with the request. 
Suspecting that they had been forewarned by some- 
, body, she asks who it was. " 'Twas I," replied the 
Gothic king, boldly stepping forward, "I warned them." 
Abashed by the piercing open eye of Dietrich, Kriem- 
hild stifles her rage and hurries silently away, casting, 
a§ she does sc^ furious glances at her foes. 

Presently, after being received by Etzel, the guests 
retire to rest. As he enters the vast sleeping chamber, 
a cry of anguish escapes from the youngest brother, 
the newly-betrothed Giselher. Hagen and Volker 
keep guard without, still and motionless. Yet Volker 
takes his viol once more. Its clear sweet tones break 
the silence of the night, and sound the knell of the 
Burgundis^n race. 

But noi A band of Hu-hs- who attempt to surprise 
the sleepers are frightened away by Hagen's terrible 
voice. Next day a tournament (Buhurt) is held, 
whereat Volker, getting from sport to earnest, kills a 
Hun, and a general combat is alone prevented by the 
firmness of the king. 

Kriemhild next tries to gain over old Hildebrand, 


and then Dietrich, but in vain. Dietrich reminds her 
that the Burgundians are her relatives, and had come 
relying on her good faith. They had done Mm no harm. 
So that Sigfrid should never be avenged by Dietrich. 

At last the queen persuades Blodelin, her husband's 
brother, by the promise of a great reward, to attack 
Dankwart's Burgundians, who lodged near at hand. 
He goes to execute his mission. The queen returns to 
the banquet hall. Hither her son Ortlieb is also 
brought, and introduced by Etzel to the company. 
The king even says that the boy shall be sent to 
Burgundy to complete his education. At the sight of 
Kriemhild's son, Hagen, in a transport of fury, hints 
that the young prince has not long to live. The whole 
company, together with Etzel, are thrown into conster^ 
nation at this menace, when suddenly the storm begins. 

Blodel, true to his promise, had gone with an armed 
band to the. adjoining hostel, and told Dankwart that 
he was come to take vengeance on him for his brother 
Hagen's murder of Sigfrid. By way of answer, 
Dankwart, at one stroke, severs his head from his body. 
Upon this Blodel's retainers set upon the Burgundians, 
and after a murderous fight the whole of the latter are 
alain, except Dankwart, who escapes, and rushing up 
the stairs in spite of the steward, who tries to stop 
him, gains the inner door of the royal hall. 

Covered with gore, and his drawn sword in his 
hand, he tliunders out, "Why sit you here so long, 
brother Hagen? Thou, and God in heaven are to 
blame for what's been done. Knights and knaves are 
all lying dead in the hostel." " Guard the door, 

E 2 


Dankwart, that none escape," cries Hagen savagely, 
springing to his feet and drawing his sword, " Now we 
drink the cup of remembrance, and offer up the king's 
wine."* In the next moment the severed head of the 
innocent lad lay in his mother's lap. A second blow, 
and the child's attendant lies dead at Hagen's feet. A 
third lops off the right hand of the minstrel Werbel. 
Straightway Volker, then Gunther and Gemot, and 
lastly Giselher, rise upon the Huns, who fall in their 
blood one after another till the floor is covered with 
corpses. Tolker and! Dankwart guard the door to 
prevent anyone from entering, the former exclaiming 
to Hagen that two men can keep the door better than 
a thousand bolts. In the midst of the tumult, the 
queen, in an agony of terror, implores Dietrich's pro- 
tectioDr, who, though he had declined to be the minister 
of her vengeance, is not unmindful of the duty he owes 
to the spouse of his royal friend and patron. He rai^s 
his mighty voice, which resounds through the whcde 
castle, Kke the blast of a buffalo-hom. The din of 
battle pauses for a moment at the soun^ when Diet- 
rich demands permission for himself and his followers 
to retire. Gunther replies that his quarrel is only with 
those who have murdtered his men. And so Etzel, the 
queen, and Eiidiger, togetheif with Dietrich and his 
men, are allowed to leave the halL They have scarcely 

* "Nuntrmken-wirdieMinne.undopfemdesKbDigs'Wem." A fear- 
fully beautiful expression. According to the old heathen custom, at the 
close of the feast a cup was drained in memory of the dead (Minne origi- 
nally means recoUecfion). So here the banquet closes with a cup in 
memory of Sigfrid ; but the drink is blood, and the cups are swords 
The king's wine is the blood of his son and his friends. 


gone when the butchery begins afresh, and the whole 
of Etzel's attendants being slain, their bodies are cast 
down the stairs by the Burgundians. 

Hagen now appears in the doorway, and taunts the 
aged Etzel for retiring from the fight; while Volker 
derides the Huns as a pack of cowards. Stung to fury 
by the insult, Kriemhild promises Etzel's shield full of 
gold to the man who kills Hagen. 

Upon this the noble Iring, Margrave of Denmark, 
hurls his spear at Hagen, and then attacks him sword 
in hand. The chambers resound with the blows struck 
on helm and targe; but Hagen is invincible. The 
Margrave then rushes on Volker, Gunther, and Gemot 
in succession, and lastly on Giselher, who strikes him 
down. But he is up again directly, and inflicts a deep 
wound on Hagen, with his sword, Waske. Maddened 
with the wound, Hagen dashes furiously on his assailant, 
striking fire from his helmet at every stroke of his 
sword, and the Dane is driven down the staircase. 
After cooling his temples for a brief space in the evening 
breeze, while Kriemhild holds his shield, Iring again 
rushes to the onset. Loud and fierce is the struggle, 
till Hagen with a blow of his sword cuts through his 
foe's targe and helmet, and then, before he can recover 
from the shock, brains him with his heavy battle-axe. 
Clamourous for revenge his friends rush up the stairs, 
but to no purpose. Irnfrid, the Thuringian, is slain by 
Volker ; while Hawart meets with a similar fate from 
the hand of Hagen. 

Darkness has descended on the fray, and the com- 
batants part for a space. In the stillness of the night 

E 3 


the blood is heard running down the gutters into the 
courtyard. Hagen and Volker, though exhausted by 
the combat, keep their accustomed watch. At length, 
feeling certain what their ultimate fate must be, and 
weary of suspense, they demand to be let out into the 
courtyard below, so that they may fight and die at once 
like heroes, sword in hand. Kriemhild, fearful that her 
prey may escape her, refuses to consent. On this the 
love of life Speaks from the lips of her youngest brother 
Giselher. " Alas! fair sister, I little thought, when at 
your invitation I came across the Rhine, to meet with 
such distress. What have I done that I should die in 
foreign land ? Faithful have I ever been to thee, and 
never did you wrong. I had thought to find thee deaf 
and kind. If I needs must die, let my death be quick." 
Moved at this touching appeal, Kriemhild demands that 
Hagen be delivered up. " As for you, I will let you 
live ; you are my brothers, and the children of one 
mother." " We'll die with Hagen," cries Gemot, " even 
were we a thousand brothers." " We'll die with Hagen," 
adds Giselher, " faithful to the death." 

Foiled in her attempt, the rage of Kriemhild knows 
no bounds. She causes the hall to be set on fire ; and 
fanned by the wind the flames soon illumine the dark 
sky. The captives, suffocated by the smoke and heat 
and tormented with intolerable thirst, scream out in 
desperation. Let the living quench their thirst with 
the blood of the dead, is the counsel of the terrible 
Hagen. His counsel is taken. 

Thicker and thicker fall the burning rafters from the 
roof; the gasping prisoners who survive press close to 


the stone walls of the building, and endeavour with 
their shields to protect themselves from the scorching 
heat. At last the short summer night — longer than, 
the longest night of winter — was over. All the wood 
of the building is consumed ; and in the grey dawn the 
desperate remnant of the band is seen among the 
smoking ruins, bent on fighting to the last. 

Every attempt of the Huns to take the hall proves 
fruitless. Their corpses again cover the stairs by 
hundreds. At this juncture the king turns to Elidiger 
of Bechlarn as a last resource, and conjures him by his 
allegiance to do battle in his behalf. Riidiger is in a 
great strait. If he refuses to avenge the queen, he 
breaks the oath he swore her thirteen years before at 
Worms, and is faithless to his king and host If he re- 
sponds to the appeal, he will be a traitor to those who 
came hither undsr his safe conduct. In either case he 
will becovered withinfamyfor the rest of his days. What 
shall he do? His strong German heart, is torn asunder 
with the intensity of the inward struggle. At last his 
mind is made up. He will be faithful to his sovereign. 
He will sacrifice all for him — body, ay, and soul also. 
His men arm themselves. He himself advances to the 
door, and gives the Burgundians fair warning ; that he 
may thus far at least be free from the imputation of 
treachery. They remind him that they have come 
hither under his safe conduct. Giselher fondly imagines 
that the father of his betrothed is come to bring them 
aid, but is undeceived by EUdiger, who announces that 
he is come, not as a friend, but as a foe, and that he is 
prepared to die in the struggle. Fidelity to his king 

£ i 



must yieU before fidelity to his friends. Ere the 
fight begifls Riidiger hands over to Hagen his own 
shield in exchange for the one that the Burgundian had 
deceived from Gotelinde as a token of friendship. 

Gemot hastening to the assistance of his men, who 
are attacked by Kiidiger, is slain by the latter, but in 
the same moment he gives Riidiger his death-wound 
with his own sword. 

Loud lamentations for the fallen sound through the 
jtalace and reach the ears of Dietrich of Bern, who 
Sends to enquire the cause. Shocked to hear of Kiidl- 
ger's death, he despatches Hildebrand to demand where- 
fore the Burgundians had done this. The Burgundians 
with scoffs and taunts refuse to deliver up the dead 
body. It is then that the mighty race of the Ame- 
lungs, with Hildebrand at their head, contrary to the 
orders of Dietrich, fly to arms. Volker, the sweet 
musician, is stricken dead by Hildebrand, Gisel er 
aind the Gothic prince Wolfart fall by each other's 
hand ; and Hagen, eager to avenge his friend Volker's 
death, rushes with irresistible impetuosity on Hilde- 
brand, who is forced to retire severely wounded. He 
Returns alone to Dietrich ; " I am the only one left," he 
cries, "the rest of thy men are slain." So Dietrich 
advances alone towards Gunther and Hagen, who are 
the Sole survivors of the Burgundian band, and bids 
them yield. " Not till the sword of the Nibelnngs is 
broke asunder," Is Hagen's proud reply, Dietrich 
fights with Hagen, gives him a desperate wound, then 
seizes him with the gripe of a lion, binds him, and 
brings him to Kriemhild. Gunther fares no better. 


After recommending the queen to spare their lives, 
Dietrich retires with sad and serious mien. 

But Kriemhild has not yet quaffed the cup of ven- 
geance to the dregs. To her inquiries for the treasure, 
the hero of Tronei, though fettered, and mortally 
wounded, replies, " As long as one of my masters lives 
I'll not tell thee where it is hidden." She at once has 
the head of her brother Gunther cut off, and carries it 
by the hair to Hagen. " Ha ! ha ! " he cries, "I thought 
it would come to this. It's finished now just as you 
willed it should. The king, and Gemot, and young 
Giselher, they're dead and gone : all, all. None knows 
where the treasure is but God and I alone. You, fiend, 
shall never know." " Then all that's left me," exclaims 
the queen, "is this my Sigfrid's sword." She draws it 
from the scabbard, and Kriemhild, once so sweet and 
lovely, once so true and loving, avenges Sigfrid's death 
by plunging it into his murderer. 

Up springs old Hildebrand, enraged that the queen 
should so mercilessly slay those whom his lord has com- 
mended to her mercy, and cuts her down. With a 
piercing scream Kriemhild falls dead by the side of her 
mortal foe. Thus sadly, — so concludes the poem, — the 
king's high feast was ended, as sadness ever follows 
after joy. 

This tone of sorrow, with, which the great epic con- 
cludes, is kept up in an artistic poem (kunst-gedicht), 
which is called in consequence the Klage (lament). 

None of the characters in this piece moves our, com- 
passion more than the Queen Ute, the aged mother 
and sole survivor of the Burgundian race. She was 

E 5 


buried in the convent of Lorsch, heart-broken at her 
loss. No new facts are given in this poem ; which is 
a mere recapitulation by Swemlin and others, who are 
despatched with the melancholy news to the surviving 
relatives of the disasters above related. It is evident, 
however, that the author of the Lament, who lived in 
Austria, must have had access to some version of the 
Nibelung strife, different from that which we possess, 
and that he must have been entirely ignorant of the 
first part of the present " Nibelungenlied." 

This leads us to some general remarks on the origin 
of this poem. Of course nobody will insist, in a com- 
position of this kind, on historical accuracy of facts or 
dates. The historic truth of an epic consists in a true 
conception and delineation of life and manners. Set- 
ting aside Sigfrid, however, in whose case inquiry is 
almost entirely at fault, there are some points in the 
poem which are historically true. Thus the three Bur- 
gundian kings are a matter of history. The same may 
be said of the destruction of a royal Burgundian race by 
Attila. Attila himself, his brother Bleda (here Blode- 
lin), and Dietrich, who was of the blood of the Ama- 
lians, the royal race of the East Goths, are also historic 
personages. The transactions in which they figured 
must have taken place from 451 to about 500, but in 
the poem they are compressed into a shorter space. 
Attila, who died in the year 453, a.d., cannot have 
been contemporary with Theodoric, whose reign com- 
menced in 489. 

StiH a sort of historical veracity is preserved through- 
out in the main features of the story ; such as, for in- 


stance, Attila's universal dominion, and the vast hordes 
tinder his sway, — the bloody battle of the Huns at 
Chalons, in the year 451, when blood was actually 
drunk, — and lastly, Theodoric's rule, which, as being the 
first German one on E.oman ground, would be gratify- 
ing to the national pride. Upon the whole then, it 
may be assumed that the portion of the poem referring 
to Dietrich and Etzel could not have existed before 
the second half of the sixth century^ 

The Saga, of Sigfrid, therefore, which is mythic in 
origin, would be, primarily, quite distinct from these 
Sagas of Attila and Dietrich. It is true that, in the 
older form of the Sigfrid's Saga, there is an Atli, and a 
sister who revenges herself, though not on her brothers, 
but on Attila for them; and it was not till the appearance 
of the historic Attila, the Hun-king, that this older 
mythic Atli became blended with the historical one. 
Probably this amalgamation took place after the ninth 
century, at the same time that the Sigfrid Saga' was 
transformed from its mythic into its heroic shape- 
It could not have been till somewhere in the latter 
half of the twelfth century, perhaps about 1170, that 
the various scattered ballads, embodying these distinct 
Sagas, became combined into one. The " Nibelungen- 
lied," in the oldest shape in which it now exists, was 
committed to writing about the year 1210. 

As for fixing upon any person as its author, in the 
strict sense of the word, this is of course out of the 
question. The idea that it was written by Henry of 
Ofterdingen has long been given up as fabulous. What 
happened to the poem in 1210 was confined to writing 

E 6 


down the current popular ballads, and joining them to- 
gether, with some slight embellishment. Twenty of 
these separate balladsi, out of which conjoined the whole 
poem sprung, were discerned by the late Professor 
Lachmann, who clearly pointed out all the additions 
made to the original text by the last arranger. With 
few exceptions, these additions are made with much 
skill, and were evidently the work of a genuine poet. 
They chiefly consist of spurious descriptions, allusions 
to costly of luxury, such as silken stuffs, and 
also peculiar arrangements of the metre. 

These twenty ballads have been since translated, in 
a separate form, by Carl Simroek, by which additional 
light is thrown on th<e subject, and the startling con- 
trast between what is original and what has been foisted 
into the poem becomes still more apparent. 

Besides this edition of the original twenty poems on 
which the " Nibelungenlied" is based, there is another by^ 
Lassberg and another by Sch<)nhuth. In Lachmann's 
edition the. oldest form of die poem is ^ven. Von der 
Hagen'^s text is a mixture, and, therefore, not to be 
depended on. 

Simrock's translation into (modem) German is the 
best, and next to it comes that of Pfizer. Hinsberg and 
Rebenstock have made such alterations in the metre 
that the poetical value of the original is lost to us ; but 
even in Simrock's translation there is much that falls 
far short of the original in freshness and power. 

As may readily be imagined, during the fourteenth 
and fifteenth centuries, when art-poetry was all the 
fashion, this simple epic found fewer admirers than now. 


Still It could not have been so much neglected after all, 
for no less than twenty manuscripts of it have been 
discovered belonging to that period. In the sixteenth 
and seventeenth centuries, however, its very existence 
was all but unknown. Wolfgang Lazius alone, an 
Austrian writer of the sixteenth century, seems to have 
been aware of it, as he made use of it in his history of 
national migrations. 

About the middle of the last century two manu- 
scripts of it were discovered by Bodmer at the castle 
of Hohenems, in the Orisons, who printed the second 
part of the poem under the title of " Chriemhilden 
Eache " (Chriemhild's Revenge). An edition of the 
whole, under the name of " Nibelungenlied," was after- 
wards produced by Miiller, the Swiss, who received in 
consequence the following letter from Frederick the 
Second, king of Prussia. " You have much too favour- 
able an opinion of these things. To my mind they are 
not worth a charge of powder, and I'll have no such 
trash in my library." This epistle Is preserved in a glass 
case at the library of Zurich, as an indication of what 
the general opinion about the poem was in those days. 
Johannes v. Miiller was the only man of the time who 
esteemed the poem at its real worth. H. von der Hagen 
has done much towards causing it to be duly appreciated. 

"We shall now proceed to give a brief description of 
the remaining poems. 

Among the Sagas about Sigfrid is a piece called 
Hurnin Sigfrid (horned Sigfrid), the language of 
which is of the fifteenth century, and its metre of the 


tblrteentb, while the subject-matter Is derived from a 
period much more remote.* 

The account here of the youthful adventures of 
Sigfrid agrees with that given by Hagen in the Nibe- 
lungslied; with the following exceptions. Sigfrid 
comes to a smith, who sends him into the forest for coal, 
as he pretends, but In reality that he may be killed by 
a dragon. Sigfrid, however, kills the monster, casts trees 
on the top of him and sets them on fire. The horny 
skin of the dragon melts with the heat, and with this 
Sigfrid anoints hl&iself, and becomes invulnerable all 
over, except at a point between the shoulders which he 
could not reach. KriemhUd, the daughter of Gibich, 
King of Burgundy, has been carried off by a dragon, 
who, In the course of a year will be transformed into 
his original human shape, and will then marry her. 

This interweaving of the mythical is not to be found 
in the " NIbelungenlied." Sigfrid, on this, starts as a 
lone knight-errant to her rescue. In the depths of the 
forest he hears her cries, but cannot discover the cave 
within which she Is imprisoned, until at last he over- 
takes a dwarf riding through the thicket on a black 

* The poem of " Hiimin Sigfried " is known only from ancient printed 
editions (Frankfort, about 1538; Nuremburg, about 1560, 1585), and 
copied from them into Hagen and Primisser's "Heldenbuch." It is in 
the so-called Nibelung-strophe, which fell into disuse in the fifteenth 

According to Knapp (vol. iv. of the "Archivfiir Hess. Geschichte," 
1845), there is a legend current at Grassellenbach, in the Odenwald, to the 
effect that there is near this village the identical fountain at which Sigfrid 
was slain, called Sigfridsbrunnen. On the position of the Gnitaheide, see 
Grimm, "Die Hcldensage," p. 41, and " Mone, Untersuchungen zur 
Geschichte der deutschen Heldensage." p. 45, 1836. 


steedj with a spai'kling crown upon his head. From 
him he learns that a giant, called Kuperan, guards 
the entrance to the dragon's cave. This giant, he 
at length discovers, armed — as the legendary giants 
always were — with a pole of steel, four edged, and 
sharp as a knife ; and on his head is a helmet blazing 
like the sun. He at once springs upon the " tiny boy," 
as he disdainfully calls Sigfrid ; but the latter is too 
nimble for him, jumping backwards and forwards five 
fathoms at a bound. The monster is eventually beaten, 
and promises to guide Sigfrid to the dragon cave ; but 
instead of this, he breaks his word, as all giants do, and 
re-commences the attack, but with no better success 
than before. He then brings Sigfrid to a steep spot, 
where there is hardly footing for one man at the time, 
and again assaults him. A struggle for life and death 
ensues, till at last Sigfrid teai's open the giant's wounds 
and hurls him don'n the precipice, so that he is dashed 
to pieces amid the loud laughter of the maiden. The 
fight with the dragon then begins, and so dreadful Is 
the encounter, tliat the dwarves in the bowels of the 
hill, fearful that it will fall and crush them, bring 
King Nibelung's treasure out of their holes. In the 
end, the dragon is hewn to pieces, the damsel is rescued 
and marries her preserver, who becomes master of the 
Nibelung-treasure. The dwarf Eugel, however, one 
of its guardians, predicts that he will meet with an 
early and violent end. The poem here passes into 
the story of the " Nibelungenlied," the first part of 
wliich, it would appear, went by the name of Higfrid's 


This very ancient notion of the transformation of men 
into dragons, and back again into their original forms, is 
an attempt to penetrate into the realms of darkness and 
the secrets of the incorporeal world ; and in some respects 
it is akin to the (Wehrwolf) superstition still existing 
in Germany, that men are occasionlly changed into 
wolves, and wolves into men. The legends about giants 
are nothing but a reminiscence of sojne strange people, 
who dwelt of old in the countries now occupied by a 
later race ; answering in fact to the Cyclopes of Homer. 

In spite of the mythical character of the Sagas about 
Sigfrid, a local habitation has been marked out for 
them. The spring where Hagen killed Sigfrid was 
shown in the Odenwald as late as the sixteenth century. 
In like manner, the place where Sigfrid slew the dragon 
(Gnitaheide, in the Northern alect) was well known 
till about the end of the twelfth century. This spot, 
which may have been the scene of some historical inci- 
dent, was between Stadtbergen and Mayence, if we 
are to credit the veracious account of an Icelandic 
traveller who lived at the above-mentioned period. 

Of the poems, devoted exclusively to Dietrich of 
Bern, the mention of two must suffice : Ecken Ausfart 
(Ecke's expedition), and King Laurin. 

The first of these is written in the Berner Ton, that 
is, in strophes of thirteen lines each. The metre is brisk 
and lively ; and the first two-thirds of the poem contain 
fine poetic features. Parts of the tale savour of a very 
remote antiquity. The plot is as follows: — Three 
strong warriors in Heathen land, Easolt, his brother 
Ecke (Egge), and the wild Ebenrot, sit in their haJl and 


talk of heroic deeds. " Sir Dietrich of Bern," who has 
vanquished the giant Grime and his wife Hilte, is 
pronounced to be the boldest of the bold. This excites 
Ecke's martial ardour ; and, upon the requisition of one 
of three queens, who overhear the conversation, he 
undertakes to bring them Dietrich as a prisoner. Hav- 
ing, by the aid of the queen, been equipped in the coat 
of mail (Briinne) once worn by King Otnit, and after- 
wards by Wolfdietrich ; also with shield and sword, he 
sallies forth on foot, no horse being equal to his weight. 
As he springs like a leopard through the bushes, his 
helm hitting against the branches sounds like a bell, 
terrifying the startled game. At length he arrives at 
Bern, and as he goes through the streets, his golden 
mail glistens, so that the people fly before the man 
"who stands in the midst of fire." Learning from 
Hildebrand that his master is in the Tyrol, he sets off 
in pursuit, and finds on the road three men slain, and 
another who has been wounded by the Bernese. By 
this man's direction he follows the track of Dietrich, 
and comes upon him towards evening. At first the 
Bernese champion refuses to dismount; but, subse- 
quently, on being taunted with cowardice, he does so, 
and a furious fight begins by the light of the setting 
sun. Night separates the combatants, and they keep 
watch and sleep in turns. At dawn Ecke awakes his 
adversary, in genuine giant fashion, by a kick of his 
foot. The struggle is renewed; the voices of the 
song-birds heralding the day are drowned in the din. 
Dietrich is hard pressed by his opponent ; his helmet 
Hildegrim smeared with blood ; his shield with the red 


lion hacked to pieces. He retires into the thicket, 
which serves him as a shield. At this moment a little 
dwarf whispers him from a tree overhead to put his 
trust in God. Upon this he attacks Ecke with fresh 
vigour, who fancies he has two fighting against him. 
Ecke is overthrown ; but being set free again attacks 
the magnanimous victor, who repents him that he has 
spared his life. Hurled to the ground for the third time, 
Ecke is summoned to yield, but only answers with scoffs. 
And Dietrich at last pierces him with his sword through 
the joints of his harness. But no sooner is this done than 
he discovers, from a ring which Ecke wore, the name 
of his antagonist, and bewails his death. In the death- 
struggle Ecke springs from the ground and then falls 
back dead. At first Dietrich scruples about taking the 
coat of mail, which is unscathed, for fear people should 
say that Ecke had been murdered. Subsequently, after 
shortening it so as to fit him, he takes it, as well as 
Ecke's helm, into which he fastens a carbuncle taken 
from his own helmet. He then digs a grave eighteen 
feet long, in which he places the corpse, with the words 
" God be gracious to thee, my Ecke," and rides away. 

This poem of the thirteenth century is still extant 
in the shape in which it must have been sung by the 
minstrels of that period. Long after this — even as late 
as the beginning of the seventeenth century — it was 
still a popular song.* 

* A fragment of -what was most likely the oldest shape of the " Ecken- 
lied," Docen Misc. ii. 194. See 244 strophes from a MS. of the thirteenth 
or fourteenth century, edited by Joseph von Lasaberg (Meister Seppen 
Ton Eppishusen), 1832; and by Schonhuth, the Klage, with Sigenot and 


King Laurin, on the other hand, has not reached us 
in the form of a popular song — at least of the thirteenth 
century. The extant version of it is by Kaspar von der 
Kon, a popular singer of the fifteenth century.* 

The plot is as follows: — Laurin, King of the Dwarves, 
has a beautiful rose-garden in the Tyrol, which is 
fenced in by a silken-thread instead of a wall. Who- 
ever broke this thread had his hand and foot lopped off. 
Many a one had suffered this penalty, when Dietrich 
of Bern and "VVittich started off to put down the nui- 
sance. Dietlieb of Styria, whose sister Similde had 
been carried off by Laurin, and who is in the compul- 
sory service of the ravisher, has to fight with the 
adventurers. Peace is brought about by the interven- 
tion of Hildebrand. But the treacherous Laurin 
inveigles the strangers into a hollow mountain, sends 
them to sleep by a magic potion, and then throws them 
into a dungeon. Dietrich awakes, and, in his rage on 
discovering where he is, breathes flames from his mouth, 
and burns his bonds asunder. He performs a similar 
service for his fellow-prisoners. A long fight ensues, 
Laurin being protected by a magic ring, but at last he 
is taken captive. This time Dietlieb is against the 
Dwarves, and in the end liberates his sister. Laurin is 
taken to Bern (Verona), where, according to one story, 
he gets his living as a conjurer; according to another, 

Eggenlied, 1839. An old edition of 1491 (repeated often till 1577) has 
284 strophes. The text in v. d. Hagen's " Heldenbuch," 1820, is after Kas^ 
par T. d. Koen's version, with arbitrary additions from the old edition. 

* Possibly there was a version of Laurin as early as the twelfth cen- 
tury. Ettmuller's edition, "Kunech Luarin," 1829, is after a version of 
the fourteenth or fifteenth century, but it is deficient in criticism. 


he receives Christian baptism. From this Saga Fouqu^ 
took the best parts of his " Magic Ring," which, with 
" Thlodolfs Farten," is the only German romance of 
chivalry (Ritterroman) deserving the name. 

The above two poems, as also those of the " Giant 
Sigenot," "Dietrich's Fight with the Dragon," and 
"Dietrich's Flight to the Huns," — all refer to a 
period anterior to his contest with the Burgundians. 
The legend of Dietrich is, in fact, as follows : — Driven 
from his kingdom by his uncle Ermanrich, he flies to 
the court of King Etze.l, by whose aid he conquers his 
uncle at the battle of Raben (the historic battle of 
Ravenna between Dietrich and Odoacer, in the year 
493). After this he stops twelve years longer at Etzel's, 
returning home, subsequently to the fight with the Bur- 
gundians, after thirty years' absence. The mythical 
stories, which primarily were told of Sigfrid, were by 
degrees transferred to the originally historic personage 
Dietrich. This is true of the fire-breathing anecdote, 
which is to be found in many other poems besides 
" Laurin." Even Dietrich's sudden death in 526 A.D.- 
received a mythic colouring. Thus he is feigned to have 
been carried off by spirits nobody knows whither ; or he 
is living in a wilderness, where he will fight with dragons 
till doomsday. A hero such as Dietrich could never 
perish out of the memories of the people, any more than 
Barbarossa, who, though likewise a veritable historic 
personage, is invested with the same supernatural 

In the Rdbensclilacht (Battle of Ravenna) Dietrich 
is in connexion with Etzel, but not with the Burgun- 


dians. This poem, which at the bottom is good and 
ancient, is written in strophes of six lines each. In its 
present shape, however, it dates from the fourteenth 
century, a period when popular poetry began to decline. 
The sons of Etzel, Scharf and Ort, have, contrary to 
the will of their mother Helche, gone with Dietrich to 
Ravenna, to assist him against Ermanrlch. Dietrich, 
who has promised their mother to be responsible for 
their safety, leaves them, together with his own brother 
Diether, under the care of Ilsan. Eager, however, 
to join in the fray, they ask and obtain permission 
to ride towards the city. As ill luck would have it, 
they come across Ermanrich's follower, the terrible 
Wittich, who rushes upon them with his sword Mimung. 
For a whole day they fight, and at last one brother is 
slain ; when the old warrior advises the other stripling 
to retire, as he would be loth to slay him also. The lad, 
however, bent on avenging his brother's death, refuses 
the offer, and in spite of his spirited resistance meets 
with his death-wound. A similar fate overtakes Die- 
ther, Dietrich's brother. Dietrich, on hearing of the 
sad fall of the Hun princes, advances on Wittich, who, 
not waiting for his furious foe, springs into the sea, and 
is received by Wdchilt, a mermaid. Hereupon follows 
a touching lament by Queen Helche on seeing her sons' 
horses return with their saddles empty, and hearing 
from Biidiger, after a long silence, " Yonder they lie 
upon the Raben heath ! " She curses Dietrich for not 
protecting her sons according to his pledge, but forgives 
him afterwards on seeing how afflicted he is at their 


In the " Rabenschlacht," as we have it at present, 
several unimportant personages are introduced ; some 
also, who must have been unknown to the original Saga,. 
It is evident that it is meant to be an imitation of the 
'" Nibelungenlied;" the opening words in both are the 
same; but the effect of the poem is only marred in 
consequence. Nothing can be more awkward than the 
introduction of Sigfrid, who has nothing whatever to 
do with the story.* 

The Rosengarten zu Worms, the last poem belonging 
to these sets of Sagas that we shall mention, is another 
still more curious instance of jumbling Sagas together. 
At the time when epic invention was on the decline, 
somebody conceived the humorous idea of making 
Sigfrid and Dietrich, — who in the original Sagas never 
do or can meet, — come into hostile collision with each 
other. The poem before us was the result of this bright 
idea. The story is on this wise. Kriemhild holds court 
at Worms, where she has a beautiful rose garden (the 
name Rosengarten is still to be met with at Worms), full 
of magic wonders. This garden is under the wardership 
of Sigfrid and other Burgundians, whose task it is to keep 
off all intruders. In case, however, of their being over- 
come, KJriemhild's father, Gibich, — such was his name 

* The poem on the battle of Eavenna is printed in the second volume 
of the " Heldenhuch," by Hagen and Primisser, and repeated in the first 
volume of Hagen's " Heldenhuch" of 1855. Both editions are uncritical. 
EttmiiUer has made a bold and not infelicitous attempt to separate the 
story of the death of the sons of Etzel and Hclchen from the " Kaben- 
schlacht," and make it an independent epic. The six- lined strophe he has 
here converted into one of four lines, " Daz raaere von vroun Helchen 
siinen. Aus der Eavennaschlacht ansgehoben von L. Ettmiiller. 
Ziirich, 1846. 


in the oldest and most genuine traditions, — promises to 
hold his kingdom under the suzerainty of the victor, 
"vs'ho is also to be rewarded with a wreath of roses and 
a kiss from Kriemhild. Hereupon Dietrich of Bern, 
urged by Hildebrand, undertakes the adventure and 
conquers Sigfrid. The contests are described with 
animation, and quite in the old popular tone. The cha- 
racters of the traditional personages, Hagen, Hildebrand, 
and Dietrich, are well kept up, only that Kriemhild is 
from the very first a domineering and almost barbarous 
kind of person. Ilsan, however, Hildebrand's brother, is 
the chief figure of the piece. It is drawn with evident 
zest, and is eminently characteristic of the popular taste 
of the time. He has been twenty years a monk, and is 
grown old and grey ; but as there is a difficulty in procur- 
ing a twelfth warrior to go upon the expedition to Worms, 
he is sent for from the monastery to join it. Heavy knocks 
are heard at the door of the building, and Ilsan, from in- 
side, vows vengeance upon the intruder. A monk, who 
looks out, reports is an old man with three wolves 
on his shield, and a golden serpent on his helmet. 
" That must be my brother Hildebrand," says Ilsan. 
" And at his side there is a youth on horseback, of 
warlike mien, and bearing on his shield the device of 
a grim lion." " That is Sir Dietrich," cries Ilsan ; 
and the gate is at once thrown open. " Benedicite, 
brother," is Hildebrand's salutation to the monk, who 
only imprecates a curse on him for being everlastingly- 
engaged in war ; but upon learning that he too is in- 
vited to go on a fighting expedition, the martial pro- 
pensities of the greybearded friar awake within him. 


He flings away his cowl and cloak, disclosing to view 
the dress of a man-at-arms which he had always worn 
beneath it. " A capital pastoral staff that," remarks 
Dietrich, pointing to his sword. Ilsan, having ob- 
tained the abbot's permission, sets off at once, pursued 
witli all sorts of imprecations by a tribe of reverend 
brothers, whom he used to pull about by the ears and 
beard for not obeying his orders. No sooner does he 
arrive at Worms than he gives the rein to his real 
nature, rolling in the flower beds, fisticufling whoever 
comes in his way, fighting in a most unclerical manner ; 
and on receiving the kiss from Kriemhild after the vie- 
tory,rubbing the skin off her cheeks with his rough beard. 
The monks who cursed him are not forgotten. On his 
return he brushes their heads with his rose-chaplet till the 
thorns draw blood ; and, on their declining to help him 
to confess his sins, he ties them together by their beards 
and hangs them up across a pole. The above is a picture 
of the rude but popular order of Mendicant Friars, as 
contrasted with the genteeler order of Benedictines. 
For centuries, Ilsan the monk was a favourite character 
among the masses in Germany. The carvers in wood 
of the fifteenth century had a special liking for him, 
and his name continued to be proverbial deep into the 
time of the Reformation. 

The monk in " Eabelais," and in Fischart's " Gargan- 
tua," are, in their best features, copies of the Monk Ilsan. 
The poem under consideration was the last creation of 
the Epic Muse. Composed before 1295, it soon got 
spread about far and wide in a variety of versions, and 
maintained its popularity till the old ballads and sagas 


had been entirely forgotten. It was not till late in the 
seventeenth century that its memory became extinct.* 

Of the North Sea Sagas, the poem of " Gudrun " is 
the only one with which we are acquainted. It was 
discovered about forty years ago. 

The sea, with its waves, its storms, its ships, and its 
vikings, is here laid open to our view. 

Unlike the " Nibelungenlied," where woman is pour- 
trayed in all her most transcendent charms, but after- 
wards becomes all that is fearful and horrible, the 
character of the heroine Gudrun is exalted and gentle 
throughout. In short, all the characters, from first to 
last, are sustained with a truth and fidelity not to be 

We have here the legendary history of three gene- 
rations; — first, of Hagen, king of Ireland, and his 
youthful adventures ; next of his daughter Hilde, who 
was wooed by Hettel, the Frisian king ; and, lastly, of 
Gudrun, the daughter of Hettel and Hilde. 

To begin with the second part, the wooing of Hilde 
by Hettel. Horant and his followers, Frute and Wate, 
have arrived as King Hettel's ambassadors at the Irish 
court. The gigantic Wate soon manages to place 
himself on the very best terms with the court ladies, 
who archly inquire which he prefers, the danger of the 

* The " Eosengarten " has been handed down in four different forms. 
The first is the basis of the version in the " Heldenbuch." The second, 
now lost, of Kaspar Ton der Eoen's version (see a subsequent note). A 
third has been edited, with an excellent preface, by W. Grimm, "Der 
Eosengarten," 1836. The fourth, of which there are two MSS. extant, but 
which vary from each other, is in Hagen and Primisser's " Heldenbuch," 
vol. ii. 



battle-field or their society ? The giant, who in fight 
was as impetuous as the wild boar, answers without 
reflection, that he is fond of lady's bower, but fonder 
still of the battle-field. The court ladies laugh loudly 
at this reply, and inquire whether he has a wife and 
children at home. Meanwhile, in the stillness of the 
evening, the sea-washed palace resounds with Horant's 
wondrous music. Ravished by the tones of the royal 
singer, the very birds break off their evening song. 
Next morning, when he resumes his lay, they again 
become mute; all the sleepers in the palace are 
awakened; the king and queen come out upon the 
battlements ; and their daughter says, " Dearest father 
mine, oh ! make him sing once more." 

At eventide the Danish king lifts up his voice for 
the third time, which rings more sweetly than ever the 
bells were known to ring. The workmen forget their 
tasks ; the sick believe they are well again ; the beasts 
of the forest cease to feed ; the insects in the grass and 
the fishes in the wave intermit their restless motion. 
And the singer wins the maiden he had been sent to 
woo. She goes with him over the sea, and becomes 
King Hettel's bride. 

Their children are Ortwin and Gudrun. Hartmut, 
a son of the Norman king, sues for the hand of the 
latter; but an ancient feud between the two families 
proves fatal to his wishes. Another lover appears in 
the person of Herwig, king of Seeland, and wins the 
hand of Gudrun with his sword. Shortly after their 
betrothal, he sets off with her father for a distant land. 
During their absence, the rejected suitor, Hartmut, and 


his father, King Ludwig, surprise the castle and carry- 
off Gudrun. The robbers are pursued by Hettel, 
Herwig, and "Wate, who come up with them on an 
island in the North Sea, Wulpensand, or Wulpenwerd. 
Here a bloody battle is fought, renowned through 
Germany in many an ancient ditty. As avalanche 
upon avalanche is borne down the mountains after a 
storm, so the spears fly in quick succession. The com- 
batants, who stand up to their armpits in the sea, dye 
the water with their blood all around, as far as one 
might cast a javelin. As evening approaches, Gudrun's 
father is slain by the Norman king. The sun has 
already set, but Wate in his rage and fury, makes it 
daylight again with the sparks he strikes from the 
helmets of the foe. But the increasing darkness render- 
ing it hard to distinguish friend from foe, the com- 
batants separate. In the night, however, the Normans 
make off with their booty, threatening Gudrun and her 
maiden with instant death in the waves if they raise 
a cry for succour. 

The Frisians have been so weakened in the struggle 
that pursuit is out of the question, and Wate is com- 
pelled to return in silence to the castle which he had 
so often entered with shouts of triumph. To the 
inquiry of the agonized Queen HUde, " Where is my 
lord, oh! where my friends?" he answers briefly, 
" I'll not deceive thee, they are slaughtered all :" 
" when the new race has come to man's estate, we'll 
have revenge." 

Amid sighs and tears the Norman coast is descried 
by Gudrun, with the castles on the shore. The old 

F 2 


king addresses her kindly, and tells her that all she sees 
is hers if she will marry Hartmut. She would rather 
die, she replies, than marry him and break her plighted 
troth. In a paroxysm of rage the wild Norman chief 
seizes her by the hair and casts her overboard into the 
sea. Hartmut jumps after her. He is just in time to 
seize her by her yellow tresses, and drags her into the 
ship. Hartmut's mother, Gerlinde, at first receives 
Gudrun with kindness, but finding her inexorable, pro- 
ceeds to maltreatment; and she who was born to a 
crown is forced to perform the most menial oflSces, such 
as lighting the fires and washing the linen on the sea- 
shore. Nevertheless, she continues patient and true, 
and submits to every humiliation. 

At last, after many a long year, the time is come 
when a new generation is old enough to undertake her 
liberation. After a dangerous voyage the Frisian war- 
riors arrive at an island, from the lofty trees of which 
they can discern the distant Norman towers. Gudrun, 
as was her daily wont, repairs to the shore to wash 
linen, when an angel in the shape of a bird — (a swan- 
maiden who can foretell the future, such as appear in the 
" Nibelungenlied ") — comes to comfort her. Kegardless 
of herself, Gudrun's first words are, " Does Hilde live, 
mother of poor Gudrun ? My brother Ortwin ; Herwig, 
my betrothed, are they alive ; Horant and Wate too ?" 

On returning home she is scolded by Gerlinde for 
Idleness ; and very early next morning, although it was 
before Easter, and fresh snow had fallen In the night, she 
is sent out barefoot to the shore to finish her washing. 
This very morning Ortwin and Herwig, who had gone 


out to gain intelligence, arrive in a boat at the spot 
where poor Gudrun is shivering in the frost, her beauti- 
ful hair streaming over her shoulders in the wintry- 
blast. The two warriors approach the maiden, and bid 
her " Good morrow," a mode of greeting which is very- 
scarce with her mistress Gerlinde. In spite of her 
mean dress and humiliating task, they at once recognize 
Gudrun. She tells them that the country is strongly 
guarded, and all the talk is about Frisians (Hegelings), 
who, it is feared, will make a descent upon the coast. 
It being bitterly cold, the knights beg the maiden to 
accept their cloaks as a shelter, but Gudrun replies, 
" Heaven forfend that I should dress in man's attire." 
Her brother Ortwin next asks whether a maiden named 
Gudrun was not once stolen and brought to this place. 
While Herwig is busily engaged in comparing the 
features of the serving girl with those of the noble 
princess to whom he was once betrothed, he even calls 
Ortwin by name. " Alas ! " says Gudrun, " were 
Ortwin and Herwig still alive, they would have come 
long; ago to rescue us. I am one of the stolen maidens, 
but Gudrun, she's long since dead." Upon this the 
king of Seeland stretches out his hand, and says, " In 
that case thou wilt know this ring which I wear upon 
my finger. I am Herwig, and with this ring was 
Gudrun betrothed to me." The maiden's eyes light up 
with sudden joy, and though she would fain hide her 
menial condition, she is overcome, and says, " I know 
the gold full well, for once 'twas mine. And, see, here 
is the ring that Herwig sent to me." Still, it is diffi- 
cult to convince her brother and her lover that she is not 

p 3 


married to Hartmut, and they express their horror that, 
in spite of her being his wife, she was condemned to such 
a degrading occupation. On learning the true reason of 
it — her love for him — Herwig wants to carry her oif at 
once. But " 'No," says Ortwin, with the genuine 
straightforwardness of the day, "no; what we lost in 
fair fight we'll not regain by stealth. Rather than that, 
I'd let a hundred sisters die." 

The two princes return to the fleet and raise loud 
lamentations at the long humiliation of Gudrun. Old 
Wate bids them dye the garments red which she had 
washed white. Yes, that very night. The air is clear, 
the heaven bright with moonshine. So prepare at once 
to attack the castle. Gudrun, in whom her native pride 
has been awakened, throws the linen into the sea. For 
this she is beaten by Gerlinde. To escape further 
maltreatment, Grudrun pretends that she will marry 
Hartmut. The morning star is still high in heaven, 
when one of Gudrun's fellow-maidens looks out of the 
window and sees the blaze of approaching shields and 
helmets. The warder also, on the battlements, soon 
espies the enemy, and cries, " To arms ! to arms ! ye 
Norman warriors ; ye've slept too long — to arms ! " 

The fight begins. Ludwig, the Norman king, falls, 
fighting bravely, by the hand of Herwig. To avenge 
his loss the cruel Gerlinde orders Gudrun to be put to 
death; but her infamous design is frustrated by the 
noble-minded Hartmut in the very moment of its execu- 
tion. Hartmut is taken prisoner, and Wate, rushing 
into the female apartments, decapitates the queen, in 
spite of Gudrun's efforts to save her ; and with her one 


of Gudrun's own domestics, who, to curry favour with 
Gerlinde, had tortured her gentle mistress. 

Hereupon the invaders return home. A recon- 
ciliation takes place, followed by a three-fold marriage, 
viz., between Herwig and Gudrun, Hartmut and 
HUdburg, a companion of Gudrun's, and between 
Gudrun's brother Ortwin and Ortrun, the daughter of 
the Norman king; the only one in the land of the 
stranger who had pitied Gudrun, and sought to lighten 
her load of misery. 

A modern author would probably have made 
Hartmut die a hero's death, like his father, as he could 
not obtain the lady of his choice; but the author of 
Gudrun has another and a nobler object in view. The 
two races are to be reconciled, and the ancient feud is 
henceforward to be succeeded by peace and goodwill ; 
and with this consummation the epic grandly concludes. 

To the Emperor Maximilian I. we are indebted for 
the preservation of this poem. He caused it, with 
several others (e. g., the " Nibelungenlied," " Iwein," 
and "Erec," &c.), to be transcribed, about the year 
1517, in one large volume, and placed in the Ambras 
Library in the Tyrol. Just 300 years after his death 
it was again brought to light.* The piece has been 

* The first edition of " Gudrun" appeared in vol. 1. of Hagen's " Helden- 
buch," 1820. This same text -was put into pure Middle-High-German, but 
■with arbitrary arrangement of the metre, by Ziemann, 1835. Vollmar's 
edition, 1845, is better, but the preface by Schott is of little value. Two 
attempts have been made lately to treat the poem of Gudrun like the 
" Nibelungenlied," and separate the genuine parts, which rest upon old 
Volksage,from later additions. EttmiillerC Gudrun lieder," 1841)divides 
the whole into three epics, " Hagene," " Hagene und Hettel," and " Gudrun." 
Of the 1,705 strophes of the original text, 951 are rejected as not genuine. 



modernized by Schulz, under the pseudonym of " San 
Marte," but his lyrics have quite destroyed its epic 
character. Gervinus's version has never been com- 
pleted. That by Keller is in the original metre, which 
is the same as that of the " Nibelungenlied." It is 
a work of merit, quite equal, in short, to Simrock's 
version of the " Nibelungen," but it falls short of the 
original in freshness and delicacy. 

A cursory glance will now be bestowed upon the 
sixth, or Lombardic, set of Sagas. It comprehends 
three poems, " Konig Eother," " Konig Otnit," and 
" Hug- and Wolf-dietrich." The first of these dates 
from about the year 1170. 

King Rother reigns at Bare (Bari in Apulia, one of 
the most favourite places in the middle ages of embark- 
ing for the Holy Land). Being desirous of marrying 
" a well-born wife," he sends twelve retainers to Con- 
stantinople to sue for the daughter of the Emperor 
Constantine. Eother himself goes in disguise to Con- 
stantinople and carries off the princess. But by the 
artifice of a musician, who is dispatched for this pur- 
pose by Constantine, she is recovered. Upon this 
Rother sails to Constantinople with an immense host, 
and compels Constantine to restore the lady. 

The second attempt -was that of Prof. Miillenhof, of Kiel, " Kudrun die 
echten theile des gedichtes mit einer Kritischen einleitung," 1845. Here 
the preamble, by Hagen, is omitted. The story of "Hetel and Hagen" 
is divided into seven small parts, and that of " Gudrun " into eighteen. 
In this recension only 415 strophes of the traditional text are retained. 

A good translation of " Gudrun" was also published by Karl Simrock in 
1843. The text of Miillenhof has been rendered into modem German 
by Both. 


The narrative is artificial ; but there are several 
features indicative of freshness and power, e. g., the 
reciprocal constancy of the king and his retainers to 
each other. The giant band that accompanies Eother to 
Constantinople is described with much life. One of these 
monsters in a passion stamps his foot knee deep into the 
earth, dashes a lion against a wall, and strikes fire by 
rubbing a pair of millstones together. All this, how- 
ever, looks very much like an obscure reference to the 
Crusades, and the panic of the Emperor Alexius I., 
the father of Anna Commena, on the arrival of the 
western hosts.* 

" Otnit," which is composed in the popular Nibelung 
measure, can hardly be older than the year 1250. 
King Otnit's voyage to woo a heathen princess, with 
which the poem commences, is exceedingly animated 
and life-like. After a severe contest Otnit wins the 
maiden, takes her home, and causes her to be baptized 
by the name of Sidrat. They then reign happily 
together for many years at home at Garda. 

"Hug- and Wolf-dietrich" begins in a similar manner. 
Hug-dietrich vroos a king's daughter in disguise, and 
wins her. His son "Wolf-dietrich, as being the offspring 
of a clandestine marriage, is deprived of his inheritance 
by his brothers. In the war which he wages with them 

* The poem of " King Eother" appears to be derived from some old 
popular poet. It continually refers to another older source, sometimes 
called " Lied" (lay, song), sometimes " Buch." The mention in it of a 
Duke of Meran would indicate that the poem was composed after 1181. 
It was first printed in Hagen and Biisching's "Gedichte des Mittel- 
alters," 1 vol., 1811, hut incorrectly; it is given much more correctly 
and completely in Massmann's " Gedichte des 12. Jahrhunderts," ii. 162. 

p 5 


in consequence, five of his retainers are killed and the 
rest taken prisoners. His faithful affection for these 
retainers is, as it were, the pivot of the poem. " God 
preserve my men " is his constant thought ; his own 
safety is never considered. And so he marches out into 
the wide world, and has all sorts of adventures in their 
behalf with pagans, giants, and dragons. The artificial 
complications of the plot, for no distinct purpose, are 
essentially un-German, and would indicate that the 
saga, originally, could not have appeared in its present 
shape. In his wanderings, Wolf-dietrich stumbles on 
Otnit, whom he vanquishes. By the intervention of 
Otnit's wife they both become friends again, and Otnit 
starts with Wolf-dietrich in quest of the captives. Sub- 
sequently, Wolf-dietrich starts alone on a pilgrimage to 
Jerusalem. Meanwhile Nachaol, the pagan father- 
in-law of Otnit, sends two young dragons to Otnit, one 
of which in due time devours him. The fidelity of 
Otnit's dog and horse is described with touching sim- 
plicity. Wolf-dietrich eventually returns, takes ven- 
geance on the dragon, and becomes possessed of Otnit's 
famous coat of mail (Brlinne), and also of his widow, 
Sidrat; which done, he renews the contest with his 
brothers, is victorious, and liberates his men. Finally, 
he resigns his empire to his son, Hugdietrich, and retires 
into a monastery, where he dies in a nocturnal conflict 
with ghosts.* 

* Originally the story of King Otnit (more correctly Ortnit) -was 
quite independent of the history of Wolf-dietrich ; which, however, must 
have got amalgamated with a very early version of it. In this older 
shape, in which Otnit's death is recorded directly after the story of his 
marriage, it was edited by Ettmuller, "Kiinec Otnides mervart unde tod," 


These sagas, with all their merits, are not to be 
compared with the "Nibelungenlied" and "Gudrun;" 
and yet they, together with the "Eosengarten" and 
" Laurin," were of all others those most extensively 
known, even at a period when the rest of the Old German 
poetry had sunk into oblivion. In fact, they form the 
" Heldenbuch," to be mentioned below. 

It is perhaps needless to state that the authors of the 
various poems which have been adduced are entirely 
imknown. By some the poems of " King Otnit " and 
" Wolf-dietrich " have been ascribed to Wolfram von 
Eschenbach; and " Rosengarten " and "Laurin" to 
Heinrich von Ofterdingen — an assumption requiring 
no confutation. 

"We now pass to the Art-Epics, the tales of the court 
poets, which, though inferior to the great national epics 
in simplicity and grandeur, are often conspicuous for 
noble ideas and beauty of diction. The first group is 
devoted to the French Sagas of Charlemagne. Of these 
our attention will be confined to the " Rolandslied," and 
" Wilhelm von Oranse." The second group comprehends 
the saga of " Der Heilige Gral " (connected with that of 

1838, and in 1855 by Von der Hagen, in his (new) "Heldenbuch." In 
the other shape it was edited by Mone, 1821. 

" Hug-und Wolf-dietrich " has never yet been printed complete in its 
older form (the Niebelung strophe), but partly in Oechsle's "Hugdie- 
triohs Brautfart und Hochzeit," 1834; then (from the Vienna MS.) in 
" Haupts Zeitschrift f iir deutsches alterthum," iv. 401-462 (536 strophes). 
Here, however, the story of Otnit is mixed up with that of Wolf-die- 
trioh. Wolf-dietrich, without Hugdietrich and without Otnit, is published 
by Hagen in his (new) "Heldenbuch," 1855, 2 vols. Here is aUo 
" Alphart's Tod." 

r 6 


Artus) ; the " Parcival " by Wolfram von Eschenbach, 
" Titurel " and " Lohengrin." In the third group we have 
the Celtic tradition of King Artus and the knights of 
his round table ; " Tristan and Isolt," by Gottfried of 
Strasburg ; " Erec and Iwein," by Hartman von der 
Aue ; " Wigalois," by "Wernt of Grafenberg, with a 
mass of other poems. The fourth group consists of 
elalsorations of antique poems and sagas ; such, for in- 
stance, as the story of the Trojan war, which appeared 
in a multiplicity of shapes ; that of " JEneas," after 
Virgil, by Heinrich von Veldekin, the father of Middle- 
High-German poetry ; and of " Alexander the Great." 
In the fifth group we have the legends of saints ; then 
the chronicles and historic poems; and, lastly, the 
smaller tales. 

The first three groups, viz., the " Legend of Charle- 
magne," of the " Gral," and "King Artus," are generally 
classed under the head of Romantic poetry, although, 
strictly speaking, this appellation belongs only to the 
" Charlemagne." 

The word Eomantic is in fact nothing else but the 
word Romanic. It was the name of the language 
spoken by the Italians, French, and Spaniards, and 
which, at the beginning of the middle ages, was formed 
out of the lingua Romana. Romant was the name given 
by the older French to poems in the popular tongue, 
lingua Romana, as opposed to the classic Latin. It was 
not till the sixteenth century that one of these poems 
was transplanted under its own name into Germany, 
This was the fantastic story of " Amadis," which became 
a Kreat favourite with the Germans. From that time 


forward the term Romantic was applied to eveiything 
that was fantastic and adventurous, and Romance to tales 
in prose full of marvellous occurrences. It is in this sense 
that Wieland says, in reference to his " Oberon " : — 

" Saddle the Hippogriffs, ye Muses nine, 
And straight we'll ride to land of old Romance." 

Hence arose the strange mistake of classing the old 
German popular poetry under the term Eomantic — an 
error which has of late been rectified; so that now 
nothing is understood under the term Romantic poetry 
but what can be proved to have been derived from the 
Romanic (or Romance) peoples. 

The Sagas about Charlemagne are, in German, almost 
exclusively represented by the " Rolandslied," or song 
of Roland. This legend, which, though originally a 
creation of German fancy, first took root on French 
soil, found its way into all the countries of Europe, 
Besides the German, there is likewise a Latin, an Italian, 
an English, and an Icelandic version of it. The memory 
of Roland is still preserved in the Pyrenees in obscure 
local traditions ; in the names of mountains, rocks, and 
flowers; while the (so-called) statues of Roland at 
Bremen, and elsewhere) recall his name, although these 
pillars were originally intended as mementos of Charle- 
magne's jurisdiction. The legend of Roland took its rise 
from an historical event of no great importance, which 
happened in the years 777 and 778. And here we have 
a good example of the relation in which saga poetry 
stands to history. While the historical transaction on 
which the legend is ba,sed is either lost sight of, or so 


altered as to be almost unrecognisable ; the spirit of the 
age— the ideal, so to speak, cf the century — when the 
event took place, is caught and reflected with a truth 
and precision which history has never reached to. 
Whether such a person as Roland ever existed may 
well be doubted. According to Eginhard, an embassy 
was, in the year 777, sent by the Stadholder of Cassaris 
Augusta (Saragossa) to Paderborn, to supplicate the 
aid of Charlemagne against the Emir Abderrahman. 
In the following year the Emperor went to Spain, but 
soon after the conquest of Saragossa was recalled home 
by an outbreak of the Saxons. While marching through 
the Pyrenees he was attacked by the mountaineers and 
suffered considerable loss, on which occasion, as many 
MSS. add, Hruodlandus was slain. From this trivial 
incident, then, arose the Saga of " Roland/' 

Charlemagne is represented as the mighty champion 
of Christendom ; his contest with the Moors is the con- 
test of Christianity against heathenism ; his victory is 
the victory of the believer over the infidel ; and thus 
the death of Roland at Ronceval is an image of the 
company of saints, who may suffer for a while, but are 
in the end eternally triumphant. The national colour- 
ing in which the heroes of the " Nibelungenlied " are 
depicted here almost entirely disappear. Instead of 
being German warriors, the warriors of the poem rather 
remind us of Joshua, of Gideon, and Barak. They are 
one and all " Champions of the true faith, instruments 
in God's hand; and bound to die as martyrs in his 
cause." It is not their sovereign and the reigning 
dynasty for which they fight ; it is not honour and 


renown that they seek ; nor yet vengeance on the foe ; 
their end and aim is Heaven. 

These ideas, which had been current in France for 
a hundred years, — in short, ever since Carl Martel's 
victory over the infidels at Tours, — now attached them- 
selves to Charlemagne. In him, as the temporal head 
of western Christendom, was embodied the figure of 
France victorious over the heathen ; and thus the 
exploits of his predecessors became, as it were, trans- 
ferred to him. 

In Kerlingen — the name by which the country of 
the Western Franks was known in Germany from the 
tenth to the fourteenth century — these legends about 
the great deeds of the King of the Franks must have 
first taken root. Subsequently, in the time of the 
Crusades, when Christian heroism came out in a new 
phase, these legends were shaped into song. About 
the year 1095 these songs were set down in a Latin 
chronicle, which went by the name of " Turpin." After- 
wards they appeared in French versions ; from one of 
which the German poem originated. 

Properly speaking, then, these descriptions of the 
Christian heroism, not of France, but of Germany, 
were not originally a poem but a story ; albeit a story 
of grand and noble features. 

The rapid action of the " Mbelungenlied " and 
" Gudrun" is wanting. Art is everywhere apparent : for 
instance, in the long-winded speeches, in the repetitions, 
in the chronicles of battles — told more in the spirit of 
an historian than of a poet — and lastly, in the frequent 
descriptions of the warlike dress and warlike pomp of 


the South : all which features are quite foreign to the 

German epic in its original purity. The piece, as we 

now have it, is the work of Konrad, the priest, who, at 

the instance of Duke Henry, the Lion, translated it 

from a French original, between 1173 and 1177. 

The poet commences with an address to God, which 

was afterwards imitated in many Christian poems : — 

" Maker of all things, 
King of all kings, 
Judge over all. 
To thee I call; 
Send to my mouth 
The words of thy truth.'' 

Charlemagne, warned by an angel, starts with his 
army and twelve princes to Spain, to fight against the 
infidel. He reduces all the country except Saragossa, 
the residence of Marsilie, the pagan king. That 
monarch calls a council of his vassals in this emergency. 
One of them, the old and astute Blanscandiz, suggests 
a pretended submission. The Emperor would then 
retire, and they might set upon the forces which he 
left behind. This counsel is adopted. Blanscandiz 
sets ofi" for Corderes, before which town Charlemagne 
then lay. With palms in their hands, and accompanied 
by ten white mules, laden with gold, the envoys, as 
they descend into the valley, espy the Imperial forces, 
and their waving banners of green, red, and white. 
Arrived at the Emperor's quarters, they behold on the 
one side fights between bears and lions, on the other, 
young warriors contending in knightly exercises. IMusic 
and singing meet their ears on every side. Tame eagles 


sweep over the heads of the lords and ladies, and pro- 
tect them from the sun's glare ; agile falcons ascend and 
descend through the air. In the midst of all this mag- 
nificence the Emperor is seated in tranquil majesty. 
His eyes gleam like the star of the morning, so that he 
is recognised afar off, and nobody dares ask " which is 
he?" None might compare with him. His coun- 
tenance was shining as the sun at midday, so that the 
envoys could not endure to look on him. Terrible he 
was to the foe, kind to the poor, victorious in war, 
merciful to transgressors ; an upright judge, and teacher 
of justice which had been taught him by angels ; and, 
lastly, the true soldier and servant of God. 

The Emperor summons a council of his twelve 
princes to consider the proposals of the pagan king. 
Roland, Olivier, Turpin, and Naimes of Bavaria, appre- 
hensive of treachery, vote in the negative. Genelun 
of Mayence, father-in-law to Roland, is for accepting 
the offered terms. It being at last determined to send 
an embassy to Marsilie, Roland volunteers his services, 
which are declined by the Emperor. On this, Roland 
proposes his father-in-law, Genelun, who curses his re- 
lative for wishing to send him on a mission of certain 
death. But go he must, notwithstanding. Charle- 
magne reaches him his glove, Genelun lets it fall; which 
is considered an evil omen. On the way to Saragossa, 
Blanscandiz, who is aware of Genelun's hatred against 
Roland, persuades him to betray the youthful warrior 
into the hands of the Moors. Genelun concerts a plan 
with the Moorish king accordingly. On his return 
he is received with distinguished honours. His pro- 


position to make Eoland ruler over half Spain is lis- 
tened to by Charlemagne, who on the following night 
is troubled with oppressive dreams. Koland starts for 
his government, and encounters an immense hostile 
force. The pagan army is thrice destroyed, and as 
many times renewed, while the army of the Christians 
gradually melts away. The pagans now rush on to the 
fourth and final struggle ; the whole plain reverberates 
with their war songs, the blasts of horns, and the clank 
of armour. Undismayed by the immense odds, the 
small band of true believers presses on to the fight 
with joyous hearts ; they dash into the very midst of 
the foe, and show them that Durandarte and Altecler, 
Eoland's and Olivier's swords, are as trenchant as 
ever. The Lord, ever ready to help those that call upon 
him, did great wonders that day by the hand of his 
people ; the helmets blazed with a fire as if from Hea- 
ven, till it seemed that doomsday was come. But still 
the swarthy foemen keep advancing, like the trees of 
the forest in multitude ; heaps upon heaps fall the 
brave ; the darkness of death overshadows their eye- 
sight, but they cheerfully endure it all, for they have 
fought for a heavenly kingdom ; their bodies lie among 
the heathen, but their souls are with the saints. Bishop 
Turpin bids the very small remnant pray to God for 
mercy, as not one will escape alive. The Emperor will 
avenge their death. At last Eoland seizes his ivory 
horn with both hands, and blows so loud a blast that it 
drowns the din of the battle ; the Emperor in the dis- 
tance hears the sound, and hastens up with succours, 
but all are slain before he arrives, — Olivier, Turpin, and 


last of all, Eoland, who breaks his good horn, Olifant, 
on the head of a pagan, who supposing him to be dead, 
had come up to plunder the corpse ; he next tries to 
break his sword, Durandarte, lest it should fall into the 
hands of the heathen ; ten times he strikes it against 
a rock, but ten times to no purpose. His sword, which 
had served him truly in all his battles, still stands by 
him in the hour of death, without dent and without 
flaw, gleaming as in the days of victory. That sword, 
which had been his companion against the Lombard, 
the Saxon, and the Moor, he now resigns into the 
hands of the true warrior, Christ. To Him he prays 
for his Emperor, and all his Carlovingians ; then he 
bows his head to death ; from that moment to reign in 
everlasting bliss with the arch-angels of Heaven. 

Next follows a description of Charlemagne's ven- 
geance upon the Paynim ; the lament for Eoland, and 
the punishment of the traitor Genelun, who is torn to 
pieces by wild horses at Aix-la-Chapelle. 

In this ancient poem there are some truly epic 
incidents; such, for instance, is the attempt of the 
Christian hero to destroy his sword, that It may serve 
nobody but the Lord of Heaven. (In the French 
version of the Saga he actually buries it in the water). 
The heathen SIgfrld's sword, on the contrary, when Its 
master is no more, is made the instrument In another's 
hands to avenge his death.* 

* The " Rolandslied " was first published in 1 727 in the second volume 
of Schiller's "Thesaurus," but with great omissions; in 1838, complete, 
by W. Grimm, " Euolandes Lied," with the illustrations of the Pala- 
tinate MS. The French source is not yet discovered. Nearest to the 


The version of this legend, executed at a later period 
by an Austrian poet, called the " Strieker," is but a 
sorry aifair.* 

Another poem, which belongs to the Carlovlngian 
Sagas, is the "Karlmainet," formerly known under the 
name of "Biermunt." 

Wolfram von Eschenbach's " Wilhelm von Oranse " 
is one of the most perfect productions of the art-poetry 
of this period. It is based on a foreign original, which 
was procured for "Wolfram by Hermann,' Landgrave of 
Thuringia, but it only contains the middle part of the 
legend. The matter is of subordinate interest ; not so 
the descriptions ; every page abounds with fresh beau- 
ties. In the year 1250, Ulrich von Tiirheim, a writer 
of very ordinary powers, wrote a continuation of it ; 
and fifteen years later, a beginning was composed by 
Ulrich von dem Tiirlin, an equally bad poet.f 

German " Eolandslied " is " Le chanson de Roland ou de Eoncevaux " 
(edited by F. Michel, 1837 ; extracts by A. Keller, altfranz. Sagen, i. 59). 
This is attributed to one Turold. 

* The Strieker's " Karl " is hitherto printed only in the second volume 
of Schilter's " Thesaurus." He seems to have made use of other older 
German poems besides the " Eolandslied." 

t The extant fragments of " Karlmainet " were published by Lachmann 
in 1 836 in the " Abhandlungen der Berliner Akademie." A later version 
of the work is to be found in Massmann's "Denkmaler," p. 155, and in 
Benecke's "Beitrage," ii. 611, under the title of "Breimunt," 

Wolfram von Eschenbach's " Wilhelm von Oranse " was, together 
with Ulrich von Turheim's rhymed commencement of the Saga, first 
published by Casparson, 1782 and 1784, but after a bad MS., and uncri- 
tically. In 1833 it was published in a complete form by Lachmann, 
along with the other works of Wolfram. Of the legend of " Wilhelm von 
Oranse " (Guilliaume au court nez) there was an older Lower-Ehenish 
version. See Eeuss, " Fragment eines Gedichts von den Heldenthaten 
der Kreuzfahrer im Eeiligen Lande," 1839^ 


The "Helmonskinder" is a saga of this period, at the 
bottom of which there lies considerable poetic power. 
It relates to the contest before Charlemagne and his 
vassals. But the only German version of it is a trans- 
lation from a Dutch poem made about the year 1470, 
by one Johannes Grumelkut, alias Johann von Soest, 
of Hesse Cassel. This is only a tame and spiritless 

In the poem of "Flos and Blankflos," (Fleur et 
Blanchefleur, Rose and Lily,) the best part is the 
description of the tender affection subsisting between 
the two chief personages of the piece.* 

The Sagas concerning the " Heilige Graal " next 
claim our attention. We now enter into a world of 
enchantment, peopled with fantastic shapes. At one 
time fancy revels in its most glowing splendoui-s ; at 
another we are in the realm of sober serious thought ; 
and anon misty shadows are drawn across the scene. 
The whole may be considered as an apt reflex of 
the age of the Hohenstaufens, with its gravities and 
gaieties, its earnest comictions, and its genial taste for 
Deep-rooted in the mythology of Hindostan, is the 

No edition has yet appeared of the continnation of the legend of TTO- 
hehn, commonly called ■■ Der Starke EenneTrart," irhich was written by 
Ulrich von Tiirheim as his continnation to Gottfried's " Tristan." 

* ■' Flos and Blankflos " (Flore and Blanscheflnr) was composed by 
Konrad Flecke in 1230, after the French original of a certain Koprecht 
von Orbent His model is Gottfried of Strasburg. There is a very in- 
complete reprint of this poem in the Miiller collection, vol. ii. A 
serviceable edition of the poem appeared at Qnedlinbnrg, 1846, '-Flore 
und Blanscheflnr eine erzahlung von Eonr. Flecke," 


legend of a spot in the world, secure alike from all the 
wants and all the cares of this life ; where pleasure is 
to be had without labour, and happiness without alloy. 
A spot where there is no wish, because there is 
nothing left to wish for ; where there is no hope, 
because every hope is fulfilled ; a spot where the thirst 
for knowledge is appeased, and the soul is at peace for 
evermore. The same legend of an earthly Paradise is 
shadowed forth by Homer and Herodotus in their 
" Banquets of the Gods," and in the sun-tables of the 
pious Ethiopians. It lives, too, in the Indian legend 
of " The Grove of Cridavana," vocal with the hum of 
bees and song of birds, the abode of wisdom and of 

When men began to wander further and further 
from God, all that was left of this Paradise was one 
precious relic. Some fancied this was a costly cup, 
from which the golden gifts of Heaven streamed upon 
mankind; others that it was a shrine preserved in a 
temple, like the Caaba at Mecca. 

This pagan legend was seized by the reflecting 
mind of the middle ages, and converted into a symbol 
of the Christian church upon earth. 

A precious stone of matchless brilliancy, so runs the 
Christian legend, was wrought into a cup. This cup, 
which belonged to Joseph of Arimathea, was the one 
used by our Saviour at the Last Supper, and the same 
which caught the blood that flowed from his pierced 
side after the Crucifixion. Hence the vessel became 
endued with a mysterious power. Wherever it was, 
there were good things in abundance. Whoever 


looked upon it, even though he were sick unto death, 
could not die that week; whoever looked at it con- 
tinually, his cheeks never grew pale, nor his hair grey. 
This vessel is the Heilige Graal (dish or cup). Every 
Good Friday a white dove descended from Heaven 
with the host, and placed it on the vessel, which was 
supported at one time by floating angels, at another 
by spotless virgins. No greater honour can be con- 
ceived among men than to be its keeper and guardian ; 
but it is an honour of which not every man is worthy, 
A self-denying, pure, and lowly-minded people, such, 
and such only, may aspire to the honour. Its de- 
fenders form a special order of chivalry ; valiant in 
fight, prudent and wise, true to the gentler sex, and 
faithful to the Lord of Heaven. They are called 
Templars, from the temple where the vessel is pre- 
served (Templeisen). In this name there Is an evident 
allusion to the Knights Templars, who, as they existed 
originally, were the very ideal of Christian heroism. 
For many a year after Joseph of Arimathea had 
brought this vessel into the West, no one was found 
worthy to be its guardian, until Titurel, son of a king 
of France (Anjou ?), brought it to Salvaterre, in Biscay, 
where he built for it a temple on Montsalvage, and a 
castle for the knights who were to guard it.* The top 
of this hill was of polished onyx, which shone like the 
moon. The ground-plan of the temple and adjacent 

* On the Saga of the " Gral," which is still obscure, see Joseph Gorres' 
" Binleitung zum Lohengrin. — San Marte (Schalz) Lehen und Dichten 
Wolframs von Escheubach," ii. 357 ; and Simrock's " Uebersetzung 
des Parcival," i. 481, 


buildings was laid out in a single night by the power 
of the holy vessel. The temple itself was one hundred 
fathoms in diameter. Around it were seventy-two 
chapels of an octagonal shape. To every pair of 
chapels there was a tower six stories high, approach- 
able by a winding stair on the outside. In the centre 
stood a tower twice as big as the others, which rested 
on arches. The vaulting was of blue sapphire, and in 
the centre a plate of emerald, with the Lamb and 
banner of the Cross in enamel. All the altar-stones 
were of sapphire, as symbols of the propitiation of 
sins. Upon the inside of the cupola, surmounting the 
temple, the sun and moon were represented in diamonds 
and topazes, and shed a light, as of day, even in the 
darkness of the night. The windows were of crystal, 
beryl, and other transparent stones. The floor was 
translucent crystal, under which were all the fishes of 
the sea carved out of onyx just like life. The towers 
were of precious stones inlaid with gold ; their roofs of 
gold and blue enamel. Upon every tower there was a 
crystal cross, and upon it a golden eagle with expanded 
wings, which at a distance appeared to be flying. At 
the summit of the main tower was an immense car- 
buncle, which served, like a star, to guide the templars 
thither at night. In the centre of the building under 
the dome was a miniature representation of the whole, 
and in this the holy vessel was kept* 

* " Sulpiz Boisseree iiber die Besclireibung des Tempels des Heilig. 
Grals,'' Munich, 1834 (also in the " Transactions of the Munich Aca- 
demy, 1835," i. 307). The description is to be found in the " Jiingere 
TiturrI," edited by Hahn, 1842, strophe 31 1. 


Tlio above description nt once reminds us of the 
temple of the new Jenisalcui in the Apocalypse ; but 
at the same time it is evidently meant as a glowing 
ideal of German architecture geneitilly. The cliapel 
o( the Holy Cross near Prague, in which the crown 
jowelv-4 of Bohennia are preserved, is an exact model of 
the magnificent temple just described. It was built 
by tlio Emperor Charles IV. The reputed Sangrcal 
(t7 sarro cafiiio) has been preserved for centuries at 
Genoa ; for some time it was at Paris. In fact it 
existed at the time when the poem was written, for 
the reader is specially warned against believing in its 
virtue or authentieity. All round the temple was a 
thick wood of ebony, cypress, and cedai" trees, through 
which nobody could penetrate unbidden ; in the some 
way tliat none can come to Christ, unless he be called 
of Him. 

For many centuries this temple flourished in all its 
original grandeur, until at length the people of the 
"West grew so ungodly, that they wei'c no longer 
thought worthy to have it in the midst of them. So 
the sacred vessel, temple and all, wei-e transported by 
aiigois into the East, tlie land of medieval fairy-tales 
iuid wonders, the land of Prester John. 

The above legend was, accoi-ding to AVolfram von 
Eseheubaeh. first put into definite shape by tlie Mooi"s 
in Sjiain. It was then probably put into its Christian 
dress by the Spaniards, smd became further poetically 
developed in France and Germany. Still it is not to be 
found in any independent poem in the German language, 
but is mixed up with the British legend of King Arthur 



and the Bound Table, which has really nothing to do 
with it. 

Artus, or Arthur, is the old national hero of 
Britain, the champion of the Celts against the inroads 
of the conquering Germanic races. As a nation, the 
Celts have ceased to be. But by a sort of poetical 
retribution, this Saga, the embodiment of their 
national consciousness, has ruled supreme for near a 
thousand years throughout the whole Bomanic and 
Germanic world. 

At Caerlleon (the Castle of Leon), on the Usk, in 
Wales, the monarch keeps court, with his beautiful 
■Queen Ghwenhwywar (in Eomance, Ginovre). They 
are surrounded by a glittering throng of knights and 
ladies ; the former a model of gallantry and valour, the 
latter of feminine grace and virtues. Foremost among 
this brilliant assemblage are twelve knights seated at a ' 
round table. They are the bravest of the brave, the 
noblest of the noble, and form a court of chivalry. To 
be one of their number is the highest honour to which 
a knight can aspire ; — to be excluded from King 
Arthur's court, the deepest disgrace that can befall 
him. It was from the court of King Artus that 
knights set out in search of adventures, such as rescuing 
distressed damsels, humbling oppressors, conquering 
giants and dwarves, and disenchanting enchanted per- 
sons. One of the chief scenes of the wonders of the 
legend is the wood of Brezilian (Celtic Broch-allean, 
the wood of Solitude), which to this day bears this 
name in the province of -Bretagne. 

The original Welsh legends about King Arthur, 


which first came to light a few years ago, being, 
perhaps, extracts from some earlier legends, are nothing 
better than a mass of adventures without aim or reason, 
full of trivialities, and, with much affectation of mystery 
and importance, told in the dryest style possible; at 
one time the story is overloaded with unsuitable orna- 
ment ; at another it is naked and bald. Yet, notwith- 
standing these defects, the British legends found great 
favour in the twelfth century with the French, who, it 
must be remembered, had next to no national Epos 
of their own. In their hands, the rude form of the 
originals would seem to have received a more attractive 
guise. The chief use they made of them was as a 
vehicle to represent their ideal of courtly chivalry; 
which, in the twelfth century, had arrived at the zenith 
of its magnificence. It was early in the twelfth century 
that the Saga of Artus reached Germany through 
France. Several epics of various merit were con- 
structed upon it as a basis. A comparison of these 
with each other is particularly instructive. First, we 
have works in which the inmost depths of human life 
are mirrored forth in a wonderful manner ; then others 
so exquisite in description that, as Gervinus remarks, 
the reader quite forgets the insipidity of the story; 
after this, others which aim at artistic narrative, but 
miss their mark ; and so on till we arrive at works so 
stiff' and stupid, as to be unworthy of criticism. The 
most prominent personages in the legend are Pareival 
(as he is called in the French and German, but in the 
Welsh, Peredur), Lohengrin, Tristan, Iwein, Erec, 
Gawain, Wigalois, Wigamur, Gauriel, and Lanzelot. 

a 2 


The above two legends, then, that of the Gral, and 
King Arthur, are combined with each other in three Ger- 
man poems : " Parcival," " Titurel," and " Lohengrin." 
In each of these, however, the Gral is the main topic, 
Arthur being introduced episodically. Before giving a 
more detailed account of the Parcival, a few words 
upon the author. Wolfram von Eschenbach was born 
at the small town of that name near Ansbach, where 
his monument was still to be seen in the fifteenth 
century. Descended from a poor, but knightly family, 
he was one of that circle of poets who, at the end of 
the twelfth, and for the first fourteen years of the 
thirteenth century, mustered at the brilliant court of 
Hermann, the munificent Landgrave of Thuringia. 
An anticipation this of a similar spectacle which was 
witnessed at the court of the same country six hundred 
years later. Wolfram composed some of his poems at 
the Wartburg, near Eisenach.* But, as he himself 
informs us, he did not take up his permanent abode 
there ; being sometimes engaged elsewhere in the 
service of Count Wertheim, who was his feudal lord. 
He must not be confounded with the herd of strolling 
knights and minstrels who frequented the Thuringian 
court. In fact, in the " Parcival," he reprehends such 
trespassers on the landgrave's hospitality. Not one of his 
poems is dedicated to a prince ; though his " Parcival " 
is inscribed to a noble lady, the object of his passion. 
Her name, however, in conformity with the courtly 

* The "Parcival" about the year 1204, the " Willehalm" about 1215 
and Vn&. 


Spirit of the age, is left unmentioned. History has 
left us no further particulars concerning Wolfram; 
even the year of his death is unknown. 

"Wolfram, in this epic of " Parcival," describes the 
weal and woe of the inner man ; the soul and her aspira- 
tions ; the conflict between the world and the spirit, 
between pride and humility. In this respect it re- 
sembles Goethe's " Faust." The first may be called a 
psychological epic, the latter a psychological drama. 

The legend, then, of the " British Peredur," or 
"French Parcival," may be regarded as a skeleton, 
which Wolfram transformed into a creature of flesh 
and blood and muscle, full of life and soul and motion. 
In his hands the fable of " Arthur " becomes a type of 
worldly life, joyous, contented, splendid ; while the 
Saga of the " Gral " represents a higher existence, 
spiritual and eternal. 

Parcival, placed as he is between world and spirit, 
time and eternity, is the seeking erring man, devoted 
to this world, denying God, proud and defiant. Then 
he is the converted man, overcoming pride by humility, 
inquiring for the spiritual and eternal, and at last 
attaining to happiness and the possession of the spiritual 

The following is a sketch of the plot: — 

Parcival's father was Gamuret, of the blood royal of 
Anjou. His mother was Herzeloide, descended from 
the royal line, which had the custody of the sacred 
Gral. His father dying young, Parcival was brought 
up by his mother like an anchorite, in the sohtary 
desert of Soltane, adjoining the forest of BrezUian. 

G 3 


For she feared that, like his father, the love of adven- 
ture might lead him into danger, and, like his father, 
he would perish prematurely. In childish sport the 
lad carves a bow and arrow, with which he shoots the 
song-birds of the forest. But presently he bursts into 
tears to think that their song has ceased, and he is the 
cause of it. Ever after this he lies under the trees and 
listens to the birds as they sweetly warble. His little 
heart is full, and he runs weeping to his mother. The 
mother would slay the birds that make him sad, but 
he begs for their life, and she gives her son a kiss. 
'? Shall I disturb the feathered warblers' peace — the 
peace and joy that God to them has given ?" " Oh ! 
what is God?" inquires the boy. His mother answers, 
" Brighter is God than e'en the brightest day ; yet 
once he took the form and face of man. In trouble 
pray to him, for he is true. Not so the fiend, the 
faithless Lord of Hell. Of him beware; beware of 
wavering doubt." The lad devotes himself to hunting, 
and waxes into manhood ; when one day, on a lonely 
path through the forest, he discovers the print of 
horses' hoofs. " Can that be the devil," thinks he, 
" that my mother is so fearful of." At this moment 
three stately knights, armed cap-^-pie, and superbly 
mounted, advance towards him. In an instant all the 
grandeur of the distant world is revealed to the youth's 
inward eye. He thinks that each of the knights must 
be a Godi Nothing now will stop him. He must 
out of the verdant solitudes around him ; — out of his 
mother's arms, into the gay world of chivalry ; there to 
fight battles and win glory ; — out to king Artus' court. 


the flowet and pink of knighthood. His mother, who 
cannot repress his new-born spirit for trayel and ad- 
venture, has him a dress made ; but such a dress I It 
is not that of a knight-errant, but of a fool. Sackcloth 
and calfskin are its materials. And so he rides away ; 
torn by conflicting emotions ; the irresistible longing to 
roam ; and regret at leaving home : a condition of mind 
which is strikingly expressed by the old German word 
" tumb." This state of uncertainty and inexperience 
pervades all our hero's career. It is the usual antago- 
nism between thought and action ; between the world 
within, still, reflecting, and innocent, and the world 
without, all glitter, and grandeur, and confusion. The 
son's departure breaks his mother's heart. She kisses 
him and follows his footsteps. But when his form 
disappears from her view she sinks to the ground and 
her eyes close for ever. 

Parcival arrives at the court of Artus, which hap- 
pened then to be at Nantes. His grotesque appear- 
ance makes a general sensation. A princess who had 
never laughed in. her life laughs at the sight of him. 
This is an incident, by the bye, of not unfrequent 
occurrence in compositions of this class. His valour, 
though rude and undisciplined, is also the theme of 
universal remark. Subsequently, he takes lessons 
from an aged knight in all the rules and practice of 
chivalry. Parcival's simplicity, and the characteristic 
method in which old Gurnamanz conveys his instruc- 
tion, are among the best parts of the poem. 

His first notable exploit is the deliverance of Queen 
Konduiramur from her insolent suitors ; after which he 



becomes her husband, but soon sets out again to see his 
mother, of whose death he is unaware. On his journey, 
he comes one evening to a lake, where he inquires of 
the fishermen for some place of entertainment. One of 
them, in rich apparel, but of sad aspect, directs him to 
a castle where he promises him good entertainment. 
On reaching the castle he gains admittance by men- 
tioning who had sent him thither. A dazzling sight 
meets his astonished gaze within. In a spacious saloon 
hung with a hundred lustres, four hundred knights 
are seen sitting on a hundred couches. Fires of aloe 
wood cast their aromatic odours around. A door like 
polished steel opens, and four princesses clad in dark 
scarlet enter with golden lamps. After these follow 
eight noble virgins clad in green velvet, bearing a 
transparent plateau of garnet. Six others succeed, car- 
rying silver vessels; and after them yet another six, 
who attend upon the fairest of the fair, the virgin 
queen, Eepanse de joie. The latter bears a vessel of 
marvellously brilliant pebble, which she places before 
the king. But in the midst of all this magnificence 
there is a source of deep affliction. The king himself 
sits muffled in furs, sad, and sufiering from severe 
wounds. The entrance of an attendant with a lance 
dripping with blood is the signal for universal lamenta- 
tion. Parcival sits beside the king, and, through the open 
door, perceives In an adjoining apartment a very aged 
man with snow white hair, stretched upon a bed. He 
has arrived at the castle of the Oral, and yet he knows 
it not; — knows not that he has arrived at the place 
of highest bliss, and also of deepest suffering, which he 


alone can alleviate ; — knows not that the Gral stands 
before him;— knows not that the hoary patriarch is his 
own ancestor, Titurel, king of the Gral ; that the sick 
king is his own uncle, Anfortas, and the queen his 
aunt. He cares nought, and asks nought about all 
this, although the king gives him a sword and points 
to his wounds. He partakes of a costly supper, and 
sleeps in a costly bed. Next morning, when he 
awakes, he finds his clothes and sword by his bedside, 
and his horse standing ready saddled without ; but 
there is not a soul to be seen throughout the deserted 
halls of the castle. As he rides away, a squire hails 
him from the buUding, in derisive tones, for not asking 
about what he had seen. Directly afterwards he meets 
with a young girl weeping over the corpse of her lover. 
He has seen her once before ; but although she is 
unknown to him she is in reality his foster sister 
Sigune, the bride of Tschionatulander. From her he 
learns what an error he has been guilty of in not 
"inquiring after" the happiness that was so near him. 
She curses him for showing no commiseration for 
Anfortas, and with this leaves him. 

Parcival rides onward sunk in a deep reverie, when 
three drops of blood falling on the snow recall to his 
mind his wife Conduiramur ; how a tear stood in each 
eye and one upon her chin when he deserted her. A 
dream of home comes over him, and he longs to see her 
again once more. But many years must elapse pre- 
viously ; and then he will find his wife and twin-sons 
on this very spot. And so these ruddy drops, while 
they remind him of the past, are also an augury of 

a 5 


the future. " Thus we again recognise dreams and 
thoughts of our childhood, when they come across us in 
after years. Or like an aged man, as he beholds the 
rising sun, bethinks him that once, when he was a child 
and sitting on a bank, he saw it rise just in this manner, 
and that he has never seen it rise so since. He knows 
that it shone so before he was born, and thinks how it 
will soon shine upon his grave."* This incident of the 
blood- drops in the snow is not new. It is to be found 
in the oldest Celtic and German Sagas ; and reappears 
in the fairy tales "Sneewitch" and " Machandelbaum." 

The knights, who have been despatched by King 
Artus, cannot wake Parcival out of his reverie till they 
cover up these blood-drops. King Artus offers to take 
him into his Table-round, but the witch Kundrie, the 
messenger of the Gral curses him, so he bids farewell 
to all thoughts of worldly adventures, dedicates himself 
to the service of the Gral, and departs, disquieted within 
himself and doubting God. 

Pour years he wanders in distraction and doubt. 
During this period he is entirely lost sight of, and we 
have before us a different scene. We see secular chi- 
valry in all its gorgeousness, with Gawein for its hero ; 
who, like Parcival, ultimately goes in quest of the 

At length, one Good Friday, Parcival reappears. 
A cavalier in a grey mantle meets him and bids him 
simply and solemnly reflect on the higher end of his ex- 
istence, and on that God to whom he has been faithless. 

» Grimm, « Altdentsche Wiilder," i. 5. 


Under his guidance Parcival arrives at a hermit's, whom 
he finds is his uncle Trevrizent. From him he learns 
that pride and doubt -will never win the sacred vessel. 
Anfortas, the king of the Gral, once went to battle 
with the cry of " Amur ;" but worldly love was un- 
suited for his high vocation, and therefore it was that 
he had been wounded by the poisoned spear which 
Parcival had seen. From an inscription on the Gral it 
is known that his torments will never end till a knight 
comes and inquires about the vessel and about the 
sufferings of the king. To this knight, Anfortas will 
resign the kingdom, and it is no other than Parcival, 
his nephew. 

We next encounter Gawein, the worldly cavalier, 
disenchanting the Chateau Merveil, which has been 
placed under a spell by that infamous magician, 
KKngsobr, — Klingsohr, who afterwards appears as an 
historical personage, and who had the famous contest 
in singing with Wolfram himself on the Wartburg. 
Meantime Parcival passes by the castle, and, although 
fully aware what a grand field for achieving worldly 
honour lies here before him, he passes onward uncon- 
cerned upon his new path., So that the knights in front 
of the castle can scarcely believe their eyes, that it is 
Parcival himself who has thus passed by. Subsequently 
Parcival fights and conquers the worldly champion, 
Gawein, without intending it. This shows that thoughts 
must rise into actions; that the spiritual power must,.if 
necessary, be able to measure itself against the temporal. 
Subsequently he fights for Gawein, and is admitted into 
the Table-round. But he speedily leaves the walks of 

G 6 


secular chivalry to fulfil the task that is imposed upon 
him. He meets and vanquishes the leader of a band of 
heathens, whom he discovers to be Feirefiz, his half- 
brother. He has long been purified inwardly; by the last 
act his outward purification is also accomplished. The 
messenger of the Gral, who once cursed him, announces to 
him that he is destined to be the King of the Gral; and 
he sets off for the temple. He releases his uncle from 
his sufferings by asking after the cause of them; succeeds 
to the kingdom of the Gral ; finds his wife and two 
children, the younger of whom, Kardeis, is crowned 
king of his worldly dominions. The elder^ Lohengrin, 
is destined to succeed his father. It is now made a 
rule that from henceforward, whenever a knight is 
sent out on a mission by the Gral, he must permit no 
questions to be asked about his descent, Lohengrin's 
wife, the young Duchess of Brabant, in spite of warn- 
ing, persists in questioning her husband upon the for- 
bidden topic ; on which, he leaves her for ever, and is 
conveyed back to the Gral in a skiff drawn by a swan, 
an incident familiar to the student of the old German 
Sagas. And so ends the poem ; which, in order fully 
to be appreciated, must be read over and over again. 
Wolfram himself jokingly mentions the crabbedness of 
his German. Others called him " an inventor of strange 
wild stories ;" but, notwithstanding this, the " Parci- 
val " continued for many centuries to be regarded as 
the masterpiece of chivalresque poetry ; and this even 
though his language must have become perfectly unin- 
intelligible after two centuries. Upon the invention of 
printing it was one of the first books that appeared 


from the press. This was as early as 1477. In 1784 
an edition came out by Miiller, the editor of the 
" Nibelungenlied." Besides this, we have an excellent 
critical edition of all Wolfram's works by Lachmann. 
Two translations have also appeared very lately, one 
by San-Marte (Schulz), which, though readable, is at 
times faulty. It also contains an analysis of "Wilhelm 
von Oranse," and the "Younger Titurel," as well as some 
researches into the Sagas of the " Gral " and " Artus." 
Simrock's translation is upon the whole satisfactory. 

Wolfram also commenced a history in verse of Titurel, 
the old Gral-king ; or rather of Tschionatulander and 
Sigune, their first love, adventures, and miserable 
end. The poem is written in strophes of seven lines 
each; but is in an unfinished and fragmentary state. 
In point of form it is among the most finished speci- 
mens of court-poetry of the thirteenth century still 

About the year 1270 one Albrecht von Scharfen- 
berg wrote a poem upon Titurel, which he passed ofi" in 
Wolfram's name ; and which, although a very second- 
rate affair, was for a long time held to be genuine. It 
was called the " Younger Titurel," in contradistinction 
to the fragment of the genuine " Titurel" by Wolfram. 

Lohengrin, the third poem of the series, M'as also 
attributed to Wolfram, but without any foundation. 
It is written in the Meistersanger strophe, the so-called 

* The fragments of " Titurel," written by Wolfram, were first made 
known by Docen, 1810. They are in Lachmann's edition of "Wolfram 
von Esehenbach," 1833. The only edition of the "Tounger Titurel," 
which exists in a good many MSS., is that of Hahn, "Der Jiingere 
Titurel," 1842. 


black strain (schwarze Ton) of Klingsohr, and describes 
the exploits and fortunes of Lohengrin, the son of 
Parcival, which are jumbled up with the true history 
after a strange and clumsy fashion. The poem opens 
with the musical contest on the Wartburg. It then 
accompanies our hero, who is married to the Duchess of 
Brabant, to the wars, some of which are purely fabulous, 
others historical; and concludes with hia separation 
from the Duchess, in consequence of her indiscreet 
inquiries about his birth and lineage.* Some of the 
similes in this piece are good ; the descriptions of man- 
ners are also faithful. Here, as elsewhere (e. g., in 
Grimm's fairy tales), we meet with that strange mythi- 
cal fancy, representing great heroic families as sprung 
from the depths of the sea. The embodiment of this 
idea is a mysterious swan, which appears from time to 
time in the story. This saga was current among the 
Angles and Danes, no less than among the Franks and 
Guelphs. It became mixed up with the legends of 
Charlemagne and the Gral, and even with those of the 
Roman invasion. It reappears in the story of Saint 
Genove'.a; and lingers on still, according to the very 
probable supposition of J. Grimm, in the fable of " The 
Blind Hessian." 

We shall now advert to Gottfried von Strasburg's 
poem of " Tristan and Isolt." 

In the whole range of German literature no other 
instance occurs of two contemporary authors so entirely 

* "Lohengrin," ed. Gorres, 1813. The text is not critically treated, hut 
the preface, mentioned in note at page 119 ahove, is worthy of perusal. 

t J. Grimm's "Deutsche Mythologie," second edition, pp. 343,346. 
Comp. H. Leo iiher Beowulf, 1839, p. 18. 


diverse as Wolfram and Gottfried. It Is a diversity 
not only of subject-matter and form, but likewise of 
language and of ideas. And first, for the subject- 
matter. One feature indeed is common to them both. 
They both worked upon French versions of ol,d British 
legends. These Celtic legends, as we remarked pre- 
viously, abounded with a heap of adventures thrown 
together without the least connection. But they had 
another peculiarity. They were often exceedingly im- 
moral. They set at nought laws human and divine 
without the least compunction. Possibly French frivo- 
lity made bad worse, and some of the obscenity is due 
to the translators; but the germs of this immorality 
subsisted already in the Celtic originals. 

One of these stories, which in its utter contempt for 
the marriage-tie may compete with the most abandoned 
productions of the modern French school, was selected 
by Gottfried as the subject of his poem, " Tristan and 
Isolt." Out of the dull materials before him he has 
created a picture full of life and spirit, and that spirit 
his own — a psychological picture so true and profound 
as to surpass anything of the kind that was ever pro- 
duced. His theme is love ; of the earth, earthy ; all- 
consuming, devouring love ; love bent on enjoyment, 
and blind to everything besides. The dictates of con- 
science, the calls of duty, are put entirely out of sight. 
Nothing interferes with the sweet delusion. Woman is 
depicted, dissolved in engrossing passion, fanning the 
unholy flame with all her might. The man, on the other 
hand, abandons himself heart and soul to her bewitching 
spells, till the mind Is so utterly enervated and unstrung 


that he cannot even be constant to the ohject of his 
affections. AH this is painted with much truth and 
force, and at the same time with surpassing liveliness 
and naivet6. 

Here is none of the sombre earnestness of Wolfram. 
The words and the metre are admirably adapted to the 
subject ; clear and bright, smooth and flowing. There 
are no heavy and uninteresting episodes of knights and 
knightly games to interrupt the smiling tenor of the 
love-story. The lovers, and they alone, are before us. 
All is sprightly, and gay, and graceful. At times the 
tale rises into the lyrical, both in tone and measure ; or 
rather we may pronounce it to be Minne poetry, in all 
its careless luxuriance, all its alluring charms, thrown 
into the dress of narrative. 

From what has been said it will be at once apparent 
what a striking contrast was exhibited between Wolfram 
and Gottfried. Indeed it was Gottfried who slight- 
ingly called Wolfram " an inventor of strange, wild 
stories." A man of the world Ijjse he was would 
necessarily feel no sympathy for the holy earnestness, 
the staid dignity, of his contemporary. This was quite 
beyond him, quite out of his line. To swim with the 
stream, or rather in front of it, to point the way to 
pleasure and gratification, such was his vocation; while 
Wolfram, with warning voice, strives to stem the tor- 
rent of worldly fashion. It is not impossible that the 
high ground taken by Wolfram, his claim to be a censor 
and instructor of the age, raised a spirit of opposition in 
Gottfried, and first struck from him the poetic spark 
which blazes forth in " Tristan and Isolt." 


Here, in this thirteenth century, which was so 
thoroughly penetrated with the spirit of Christianity, 
we perceive the first germ of that antagonism to a 
Christian life and practice which was afterwards so 
conspicuous. Gottfried's " Tristan " gave the first im- 
pulse to that new movement, although the poet himself 
owed his inspiration primarily to the shock which Chris- 
tianity had given to the age in which he lived. He 
may be considered as the forerunner of that appetite 
for worldly and physical enjoyment, for material ad- 
vantage and possession, which In the fourteenth and 
fifteenth centuries caused Europe to degenerate into 
mere animalism, hypocrisy, and disbelief. 

Gottfried left his work unfinished. His modern 
admirers are of opinion that, if he had completed it, he 
would have wound up with a wholesome moral, showing 
how subversive the indulgence in carnal appetites is to 
the true spirit of chivalry. The poem itself contains 
no indications of such intention. 

Ulrich von TUrheim and Heinrlch von Freiburg both 
wrote continuations of " Tristan." The first is very 
brief. The latter, though written with more skill and 
ornateness, is much inferior to the model.* At the same 
time it must be mentioned that Gottfried's was not the 
first German version of "Tristan." In the twelfth 

* Gottfried's " Tristan " appeared first in vol. ii. of Miiller's Collection, 
1784, -with tbe continuation of " Heinrich von Freiburg," a bad and useless 
edition. Later it was edited by Eberhard v. Groote, 1821, with TJlricli 
von Tiirheim's continuation; by Hagen, 1823, with both continuations, 
and a glossary; and, lastly, in 1843, by Massmann. Gottfried, — yiho is 
always called Meister, not Herr, — must have been of burgher rani, but 
a man of learning, and have written " Tristan" about 1210. 


century, one Eilhart von Oberg wrote what was appa- 
rently nothing more than a translation from the French, 
with none of Gottfried's brilliancy. This version was 
afterwards much altered and converted into a prose 
work, which was a good deal read till late in the six- 
teenth century.* Another German version is that of 
Immermann ; the last that by H. Kurtz. No poet of 
the thirteenth century was so much imitated by his own 
and the succeeding generations as Gottfried. There 
are several Minne songs written in his honour. Rudolf 
von Ems, and other writers of art-epics, designate him 
as their model. The other poems upon the Artus-saga, 
though differing from each other in merit, constituted a 
distinct class when compared with the works of Wolfram 
and Gottfried. They adhere to the subject-matter as 
they find it in the French translations. There is no 
prevailing idea in them, which, as in the case of 
"Tristan" and "Parcival," animates the whole, and 
renders it superior to the original. Their excellence 
consists in lopping off superfluities, in skilfully con- 
necting adventures together which it seemed difficult to 
connect, in giving a lively and pleasing story, closely 
following the original, and in putting the quaintTlooking 
figures into a German dress, 

Hartmann von der Aue stands pre-eminent in these 

* Eilhart von Oberg was bom in the province of Hildesheim, and 
lived between 1189 and 1207. The few extant fragments of hia original 
work are in Hoffmann's " Fnndgruben," i. 231. A later poetical version 
exists only in MSS. (Pfalzer Hs. 346, and at Dresden). The prose 
romance appeared first in 1484, then in 1498, and often. It was printed 
in Peyerabend's "Buch der Liebe," 1587, and from thence in Biisching 
and Hagen's ,"Buch der Liebe," 1809. 


I'espects. His "Erec" and "Iwein" are upon the Artus- 
saga. The former, also called " Erec and Enite," is a 
youthful composition. It was written about 1290. In 
it the stiflfness of the old Celtic stories is not entirely 
overcome.* His marvellous powers as a story-teller are 
first unfolded in " Iwein," the Knight with the Lion, 
written about ten years Mer. His style is particularly 
easy and natural, and suits itself exactly to the matter 
in hand, whether it be earnest harangue, merry joke, 
or rapid conversation. Nothing can be done better. 
Indeed, his skill as a narrator is so exquisite that, even 
where the plot is dull and uninteresting, we go on 
reading merely for the description's sake. The true- 
hearted motto with which the poem opens and closes, 
" Swer an rehte giiete wendet sin gemiiete dem volget 
saelde unde ^re :" — 

" Who to real goodness turneth his mind, 
He shall have honour and fortune combined;" — 

proves the writer to have been an honest, upright, and 
well-meaning man. And it is the exercise of the social 
virtues that he seeks to place prominently forward in 
the character of his hero. Iwein is the copy of the 

* "Ereo and Enite" was discovered in 1821, last among the works 
of Hartmann, and it was edited by Haupt in 1839. Erec, son of King 
Lac, after obtaining the fair Enite to wife, omits, in her embraces, all. 
knightly exercises. This draws upon him universal contempt, the reason 
of which is disclosed to him by Enite. His love for her at once turns to 
rancorous hate, and he commands her to follow him on his travels in 
search of adventure, though she is not to speak a word to him. Then 
follow a number of terrible trials, not only for Erec, who deserved it, 
but for the innocent Enite. There is a foreign tone about the matter of 
this poem which is not agreeable. 


moderate people of the age — those, in short, who were 
not strong enough to live up to the lofty pattern of 
Parcival — ^not weak enough to approve of Tristan. 
How much the fahle has gained from the art of the 
narrator will become at once apparent by comparing 
this work with the Welsh original, edited by Lady 
Guest, under the title of the " Lady at the Fountain," 
and with Chretien of Troyes' "Chevalier au Lion." 
" Parcival " has also been edited by the same lady, as 
well as "Erec," under the title of " Geraint, son of 
Erbin." There is an excellent German edition of 
" Iwein," by Lachmann and Benecke, to which are 
appended explanatory notes, and a first-rate glossary by 
Benecke.* All the other poems upon the Artus-saga 
are poor imitations of Hartmann. " Wigalois, or the 
Knight with the Wheel," was written about 1212, by 
a young knight, Wirnt von Grafenberg, Here and 
there he copies Gottfried. It is clumsily done.f Ulrich 
von Zazichoven's " Lanzelot vom See " is of about the 
same date (not 1192). It is weak and unconnected, 
and retains the obscurity of the original.^ Heinrich 

* The first edition of " Iwein," by Benecke and Lachmann, appeared in 
1 827, a second in 1 843 ; a translation and explanation, by Count Baudissen, 
in 1845. The "Welsh romances, edited by Lady Gnest, are entitled " The 
Mabinogion from the Llyfr coch o Hergest," Llandovery, 1838-1840; 
a translation into German, with a good preface on the Arthur-saga, 
" Die Arthur-sage und die Marchen des rothen Buchs von Hergest," 
was published by San Marte (A. Schnlz) in 1842. These Celtic remains 
are unfortunately more interesting in a learned than poetic point of view. 

t " Wigalois der Bitter mit dem Bade von Wirnt von Gravenberch," 
edited by Benecke, 1819, with notes and glossary. A new edition, with 
critical notes, was published by !F. PfeifFer, 1847; a translation, by Count 
Baudissen (Guy von Waleis), 1847. 

J "Lanzelot. Eine Erzalung von Ulrich von Zatzikhoven," von 


Yon dem Tiirlin's *' Aventiure Krone," written about 
1220, describes Arthur and his knights.* It is a poor 
aiFair. Poorer still are " Wigamur, or der Ritter mit 
dem Adler,"t and " Gabriel von Muntavel, or der Ritter 
mit dem Bock,"| both dating from the middle of the 
thirteenth century, or a little later. 

Reviewing the above works in order of time, we 
obtain the following result. First, in Eilhart's " Tris- 
tan," we have a faithful but rude imitation of the 
Welsh original. Then come Hartmann's " Erec" and 
" Iwein," which, though ornate, never rise to the dignity 
of original ideas. Then follow the poems of Wolfram 
and Gottfried, abounding with thought and original 
genius. The summit is here reached. In the suc- 
ceeding poets a decline is at once visible. They either 
adhere slavishly to the originals, like Ulrich, or indo- 
lently copy Hartmann, e.g. Wirnt, Heinrich Tiirlin, 

Hahn, 1845. Xhe editor tries to defend the writer against the attacks of 
Gervinus, but this "WipsalligeLanzelet" is a sorry personage. UWch's 
description is naked, and has no soul in it. 

* It was edited, 1852, by SchoU, in the " Bibliothek des Lit. Vereins 
zu Stuttgart." Parts were published before, e. g. a panegyric on the 
deceased poets Hartmann, Keinmar, &c., in Haupt's " Die Lieder und 
Biichlein und der arme Heinrich von Hartmann," 1842, p. xii. (pre- 
viously in Hagen's " Minnesanger," iv. 263) ; also " Die sage vom Zauber- 
becher," by Hahn, in " F. Wolf uber die Lais Sequenzen und Leiche," 
1841, p. 378, sqq. 

t " Wigamur " was composed by an unknown poet, edited by Hagen 
and Biisching, 1811, in their "Dichtungen des Mittel-alters." 

X " Gabriel Ton Muntavel " von Kunhart von Stoffel is still unprinted. 
A fragment is given in "Wackernagel alt-d. Leseb.," second edition, 
i. p. 643. Connected with the Artus poetry is likewise " Daniel von 
Blumenthal," by the Strieker, and " Gawein," by an unknown poet, 
Walwan, and other heroes of the Artus group, probably had special 
poems in their honour. 


and the author of " Wigamur " and " Gabriel," who is 
said to have been one Master Kunhart von Stoffel. 
In the educated world of the succeeding centuries this 
Artus poetry, notwithstanding its defects, continued to 
be held in high estimation. Nay, the poorest specimens 
often stood in the highest favour with the reading public. 
As a proof of the veneration in which the knights of 
the round-table were held, it may be recorded that so 
late as the sixteenth century the nobility of South 
Germany often christened their children by the names 
of Parceval, Wigamur, and Wigalois. 

We shall now pass on to the fourth group, viz., 
poems upon antique characters and antique Sagas ; e. g. 
the " History of the Trojan war," the tale of " .^neas," 
the legend of " Alexander the Great." These occupy 
the long interval from about 1170 to the end of the 
thirteenth century. 

The most noteworthy feature of all these pieces is 
that everything appears in a thoroughly German dress. 
Hector is not a Trojan hero, nor Achilles a Greek, nor 
Turnus an Italian. They aU speak like German war- 
riors of the age of chivalry. 

In like manner, Alexander is not the Alexander of 
history, but a German king. 

Besides which, the legends of Troy, with the ex- 
ception of the history of -^neas, did not come from 
their poetical source. Homer ; for Homer was quite 
unknown to the West till the fifteenth century. They 
were derived from much later and obscurer sources, viz., 
Dares and Dictys. " Alexander " was based not upon 


history, biit upon the Saga, which was a mixture of 
Oriental, Persian, Jewish, and Christian elements. 
No doubt, at first sight, these poems look very sur- 
prising. In the same way, that fault has been found 
with Schiller's " Wallenstein," because everything about 
it bears the air of the eighteenth century, and not o 
the period of the thirty years' war. Indeed it would 
be only necessary to substitute German names for those 
of JEneas, Turnus, and Lavinia, to have a thorough 
German romance. They are Gawain and Erec over 
again. It is a striking proof of the force of German 
genius in those days that some, though not all, of these 
pieces, notwithstanding the strange transmutation that 
has been effected in them, do not look in the least like 
travesties; neither do the incongruities strike us dis- 

The Saga of "Alexander the Great " was elaborated 
by several writers ; e.g., by Ulrich von Eschenbach* (no 
relation of Wolfram's), and by Kudolf von Ems;t but 
the version bearing the name of one Priest Lamprecht, 
and dating from the twelfth century, is unquestionably 
far the best. Perhaps after all, this name, which is 
mentioned at the beginning of the poem, is the name of 
the author of the French version, Clerc Lambert ; in 

* The " Alexandreis " of U. v. Eschenbach was composed between 
1248 and 1284, and is still unprinted,see"WeckherlinBeitrage," 1-32. A 
story out of it, due to another hand, " Alexander und Zwerg Autiloye," 
is given in "Wackernagel die Handschriften der Bas. Univ. Bibl." 1836, 
p. 27. 

t Eudolf von Ems' " Alexandreis " was probably written between 
1238 and 1241. All that has been printed of it is a passage, of literary 
interest, in Hagen's " Minnesanger," iv. 865. 


which case the name of the author of the German ver- 
sion is unknown. Be this as it may, the writer must 
have been an ecclesiastic, as is plain from the contents 
of the poem, and particularly from the end. 

The legend of Alexander, the mighty world-con- 
queror, who first opened the East to "Western enter- 
prize, had long been current in both quarters of the 
globe. The echo of his destroying footsteps was heard 
in Persian story, and caught up, at an early period, in 
the poetical romances of the West. The work of 
Curtius Rufus must have been, in fact, little better than 
a romance; but it was not till the mediaeval times, 
which, in the migrations of the nations, and afterwards 
in the Crusades, bore some resemblance to the age of 
Alexander, that the Saga reached its full development. 

All the experiences of the Crusaders, both in fact 
and imagination, — lands teeming with wonders, expe- 
ditions full of monstrous adventures, Paradise itself 
regained on earth, — all this was transferred by Italians 
and Frenchmen to Alexander the Great, and from those 
countries the infection spread to Germany. The poem 
of one Aubrey of Besan^on (in German "Alberich 
von Bisenziin "), of which, as yet, we have no very ac- 
curate knowledge, must have been the chief work on 
the subject. It is quoted both by French and German 
writers of the Alexandriner-legend, and also by the 
author of the work before us, who lived in the twelfth 

This is written in Imperfectly rhymed couplets ; the 
language is Middle-Low-German, with a tinge of High- 
German about it. The style has little flexibility ; is 


often abrupt and dry : still there is much in it that 
savours of the old popular poetry. Here and there 
its tone reminds us even of the alliterative poetry of the 
" Hildebrands-lied," and " Beowulf," qualities which the 
author could not have borrowed from his foreign ori- 
ginal, but which must have been due to his own talents. 
Thus it is related of Alexander, that in his earlier years 
he showed his strength and courage, " and when any- 
thing misliked him, he looked just like a wolf does, 
when he stands over his prey;" and in one of the battles 
with the Persians, " Alexander fights with the fierce- 
ness of an angry bear, when attacked by the hounds." 
Indeed, there is somewhat of the old heroic type dis- 
cernible in all the numerous battles that occur. In 
a duel (Einwig) between Alexander and Porus, the 
combatants draw their swords, and spring upon each 
other with the ferocity of forest boars. Jealousy (i. e. 
desire for the mastery) is between them ; loud is the 
clang of steel ; fire shoots from the shield-rims ; again 
and again they dash to the fray ; sword cut and sword 
thrust strike harness and helm ; and now the combat 
becomes general ; the green meadows redden with the 
blood of the slain; it fills the furrows, it rolls over into 
the depths below. But another side of the Alexander 
legend is here exhibited. In a supposed letter to Aris- 
totle,- — ^a literary production, which, in the middle ages, 
existed in almost every European language, — Alexander 
describes the wonders which he encounters. This is 
very felicitously done. The style is simple and popular, 
and hence an interest attaches to the poem, which later 
and more elaborate descriptions of the same topics can- 



not boast of. Thus, Alexander comes with his forces 
into a dark wood, the lofty trees of which intertwine 
their branches so as to exclude the sun's rays. Fresh 
limpid rivulets run from the wood down into the val- 
ley. Sweet song of birds sounds through the foliage, 
and is re-echoed from the wooded shade. The ground 
is covered with an incalculable multitude of unopened 
flowers of marvellous size. The blossoms, which look 
like great globes, are tinted with rose-colour and snow- 
white ; suddenly they open, and from each perfumed 
chalice issues a maiden of wondrous beauty. The 
thousand little lovely creatures then raise a melodious 
strain vying with the song of the birds ; and thus they 
float, singing and dancing in the cool shade of the 
forest. The children of the green shade and noiseless 
solitude are pink and white, like the flowers whence 
they spring. But the sun's scorching ray falls upon 
them, they fade and die ; like the flowers which May 
calls into life, and Autumn to death. 

" Faded all the flowers, 
All the maidens dead, 
Leafless all the Ijowers, 

All the joys have fled. 
Birds have ceased their singing, 
Founts no longer flow," 

But with all these pretty descriptions there is also 

no lack of grand and solemn thoughts. " AU is vanity, 

and the greatest earthly grandeur must come to nought; 

so sang Alberich," says the poet, " in the spirit of 

Solomon, and so sing I." Alexander conquered the 

world, he possessed all the wealth of Ind, and then he 


arrived at Paradise, and thought to take it by storm also. 
But it is not by force of arms, not by passion, that 
Paradise is to be won ; he only is worthy of it who con- 
quers himself. And so the conqueror of the world must 
perforce turn back at the very threshold. Henceforth 
he lived a life of moderation, left off war, flung away 
ambition, and at last there remained to him 

Of tbis earth but seven feet long, 
Just like to the poorest man.* 

This incident of Alexander being turned back at the 
very gates of Paradise because he lacked humility, is re- 
peated in all the later Alexander Sagas; indeed it still 
lived in the memory of poets, and even of the people, 
as late as the seventeenth century, when all that was 
old and good disappeared. Gervinus gives a most 
exaggerated estimate of the value of this poem. At 
the same time it must be confessed that Lamprecht's 
"Alexander," and the " Rolandslied," are the very best 
works of the age now under consideration, and that they 
surpass everything in the same walk of later times. 

The only version of the tale of " .^neas" is that by 
Heinrich von Veldekin, the Father of Middle-High- 
German poetry. As hia name indicates, he was a 
native of Lower Germany. The date of the composition 
is between 1184 and 1188. As he cannot have had 

* Lamprecht's "Alexander" has been edited by Massmann twice j 
first in 1828, in " Denkmaler,'' pp. 1 6-75 ; then, 1837, in his " Gedichte 
des 12 Jahrh." i. p. 64. A comprehensive edition of it, by H. Weismann 
appeared iu 1850, "Alexander Gedicht des 12 Jahrh., &c. TJrtext und 
Uebersetzung," &c., 2 vols. This lengthy work has not done much for 
the furtherance of the Alexander literature. 



access to the original— indeed, if he had, he would 
hardly have been able to read it — he must have worked 
after a foreign model. In this work, in which he 
clothes Latin poetry in a German dress, he presents a 
pattern of writing, sucn as remained exclusively in 
fashion for more than 200 years ; rising in Wolfram 
and Gottfried to its highest pitch, as the poetry of 
thought and feeling: while in Konrad von Wurzburg, 
who lived eighty years later, it becomes the ne plus 
ultra of elegant versification. Afterwards it gradually 
sunk ; until, in the time of the Reformation, this sort 
of writing became extinct. 

Veldekin was also a frequenter of the Thuringian 
court on the Wartburg, of which he was the heart and 
soul. From this point, as a centre, his influence as a 
writer of court-romances and lyric tales of chivalry 
spread with astonishing rapidity throughout Germany, 
the South part of it especially. Omateness of style, 
smoothness and finish of delineation, purity of language, 
accurate versification, regularity and harmoniousness of 
rhyme, such are his characteristics. And though he 
cannot be called the inventor of all this, for it was 
actually lying ready to hand, although people did not 
know it, yet he was the first to give it expression and 
utterance. Just in the same way that Opitz, 400 years 
later — who, though no poetic genius any more than 
was Veldekin, was a man of talent-^had the power of 
saying cleverly the right thing at the right moment, 
and thus of striking the chord of popular sympathy. 
Kind feeling and naivete are the distinctive features 
of Veldekin's " Eneit." It eschews great characters. 


The modicum of the solid, the grand, the heroic, that 
Virgil had retained in the " JEneid," has evaporated. 
Popular traits are seldom, if ever, to be found.* 

The versions of the Trojan war may be briefly men- 
tioned. Numbers of them are still extant : one of these 
is by Herbert, a Hessian, born at Fritzlar ; it is entitled 
" Liet von Troje," and was written early in the thir- 
teenth century. He also found a patron in the Land- 
grave Hermann, who helped him to procure the original 
from which he copied. Much of the old stiffness, which 
the higher class of poets had got rid of, still clings to 
his composition. But, on the other hand, he has still 
much of that popular air which tip-top art-poetry had 
managed to polish utterly away. The language, versi- 
fication, and rhyme, are such as would not have passed 
muster with the fastidious court poets. In fact, the 
stamp of the Lower-Hessian dialect is vinmistakeably 
impressed upon the poem ; a dialect hovering between 
High- and Low-German.f 

Konrad von Wurzburg, who died at Basel in 1287, 
is a poet of a totally different sort. Elegance of lan- 
guage, harmony of versification, copiousness of diction, 
point him out as an imitator of Gottfried von Stras- 
burg : and in him they reach perfection. But tropes, 
phrases, and figures are often made to compensate for 
qualities of a more substantial kind. "We shall have 
occasion to revert to him hereafter. His " Trojan 
War," which is unfinished, and is his last production, is 

* Veldekin's "Eneit" was printed in Miiller's collection, 1784. 
(Ettmulle 's is the last and best edition. — Editor.') 
f "Herbert's von Fritzlar Lied von Troye," G. Frommann, 1837, 


by no means his best. More than double the length of 
"Parcivalj" which is 30,000 lines long, it of course 
contains much that is superfluous. But what stamps 
it as the work of a transition period is the exaggeration 
of the descriptions. At one time these are overloaded 
with ornament, at another they sink into coarseness and 
common-place. * 

The external form of poetry reached its highest per- 
fection at the time when Konrad wrote, i. e. between 
1240 and 1300. Rhyme, verse, diction, all the tech- 
nical part of the art, was as high as it could be. But 
the soul of poetry was wanting. The grand and the 
genuine is succeeded by what is bastard and trivial. 
Empty phraseology, and spiritless imitation, replace 
feeling and originality. The colouring is glaring and 
extravagant. In place of choosing simple subjects, the 
poet grasps at the abstract, the learned, the remote : 
and then, finding that his writings do not take with the 
public, he complains of being neglected and misunder- 
stood, of the stupidity of the age, of its indifference to 
poetry in its highest sense. Complaints of this kind 
are proof positive, were all other wanting, that the poet 
who utters them lived after 1240, or at least 1250. 

We now pass to the fifth and last group. Church 
legends. The mass of these productions in the twelfth 
and thirteenth century — not to mention in the four- 
teenth and fifteenth — is almost without limit. 

* Little more than half of Konrad's " Trojanerkrieg " was printed in 
the third folume of MuUer, which is unfinished and rare. A portion of 
the second half is printed in Mone's " Anzeiger," 1837, Sp. 267. Eonrad 
himself left the work unfinished. 


Nearly all the saints in the calendar had their 
respective legends ; from the Virgin Mary down to 
Elizabeth of Hungary. In all these poetical legends 
we must not look for a world of action and heroic enter- 
prize ; a world of passion, love, and revenge ; for lofty 
flights and exalted ideas; but for pure and pleasing 
pictures of tranquil scenes, inspired by faith and devo- 
tion. But if it is the essence of poetry to be absorbed 
in the subject ; if real warmth of feeling, unaffectedly 
expressed, is one of its chief ornaments ; if ardent soul- 
drawn faith in the Invisible and Eternal is the soil that 
has ever produced poetry's choicest flowers ; then these 
simple pious legends will not fail to be appreciated as 
they ought. The unadorned simplicity, the purity, the 
tenderness, the humility of the Virgin Mary ; the 
patient countenances of the martyrs, such as are to be 
seen in the old breviaries ; all this could only have 
been painted by the hand of one who felt what he was 
about; who was imbued with the same spirit. Even 
so it is with these poetic legends. The same spirit of 
pious faith, reverence, and devotion dictated them. If 
the popular romances, and the knightly epics of art- 
poetry represent to us the expeditions and exploits of 
the Crusaders, Church legendary poetry, in the same 
way, is the song of the humble pilgrim with his 
scallop-shell and his staff, bound on his lonely way 
to Jerusalem, to kneel in prayer at the Holy Se- 
pulchre; afterwards to return to his home, poor as 
he went, though full of unspeakable comfort. If 
knightly poetry is the poetry of worldly magnificence, 
full of merriment, and music, and song, of dance and 



•festival; the poetry of earthly love for an earthly 
bride; then the poetry of the Church legends is the 
poetry of voluntary poverty, of the lonely cell and 
quiet garden, of the monastery shut in by its lofty 
walls ; it is the poetry of the brides of Heaven, who, 
without plaint or regret, bid adieu to the world's joys 
for a life of tranquil devotion. 

With the Mother of God they approach the cross, 
and a sword pierces their side also. With Saint Csscilia 
they hear the angels playing ; with Holy Theresa they 
wander through the glades of Paradise. Is Minne- 
poetry the gentle homage paid to earthly loveliness and 
grace ; then is Church-legendary poetry the homage 
paid to the Virgin-Mother of God ; it is the love of 
this world refined and spiritualized into a love that is 
heavenly, and that fadeth not away. For it must be 
remembered that at this same period, when woman was 
the object of a worship, such as has never been paid to 
her before or since, the Virgin was also adored most 
deeply, simply, and truly. 

If we could for a moment imagine to ourselves the 
child-like poetic faith of those days, before the reverence 
for the Virgin Mary and the Saints had settled into a 
regular worship, and undergone that debasement and ex- 
aggeration which caused the reaction of theEeformation, 
then we should be enabled to form a true estimate of 
the poetry now under consideration. We should see 
that it was a necessary part of the poetic wreath of the 
thirteenth century. 

Of these legends, all of which are derived from the 
Apocryphal Gospels, we shall select a few instances. 


The twelfth century, the period preceding the one 
■which we are now describing, produced several ex- 
amples. One of the oldest is a song in honour of 
the Virgin Mary, composed by Werner, a monk of 
Tegernsee, in Bavaria, in the year 1173. A part of it 
is still extant in the author's own handwriting. Some- 
what later it was altered in shape, appearing in three 
parts.* There is a staid and severe air about this poem 
which places it in a favourable contrast with many of 
the later legends. When the Virgin is born " the 
enmity between God and man is removed. Men are 
invited to the table of God, to the living bread, which 
saves the soul in time of need. Man became the asso- 
ciate of angels. Honey and milk flowed out of the 
earth. God blessed the world, and rained help from 
Heaven. When God shone upon all, then came the 
vine ; the true turtle-dove was heard everywhere. 
The day when she was born is blessed by all the folk ; 
who long with God's bride to rise above their sins, and 
serve under his banner." 

" A Litany to all the Saints " is in the same style, 
and of the same date. There is a good deal of genuine 
enthusiasm about it, expressed with force and dignity. 
It begins with an invocation to Christ. " Thou'rt 
called Wisdom's-fount, the key of compassion, comforter 
of the poor, lover of pure hearts, way to eternal life, 
chief-stone of Heaven's stair ; thou defendest, thou re- 

* Werner von Tegernsee died 1197. The older fragment is in Doeen's 
"Miscell."ii. 103, and in Hoffmann's" Fundgr."ii. 213. The new version 
was published 1802 by Oetter, and 1837 by Hoffmann (Jundgr. ii. 145). 
A specimen of Werner's non-religioas poetry occurs below. 



deemest, thou burnest and coolest, thou moistenest and 
parchest, thou shuttest and openest, thou stayest and 
goest, thou strengthenest and makest afraid, thou freest 
and preservest, thou quickenest and nourishest, thou 
lullest to sleep and awakeaest, thou hidest and thou 
makest known ; rain down these thy spiritual gifts upon 
our dry hearts, that we may bring forth rich and eternal 
fruit." After invoking the Virgin, the Archangels, 
John the Baptist, and the Apostles, the poem thus pro- 
ceeds : — " Sweet champion of all God's martyrs, who 
liftedst the banner first, and borest it away to martyr- 
dom, when thou wert stoned to death ; free us. Holy 
Stephen, from all our troubles ; and thou. Saint Lau- 
rentius, who wert roasted on the gridiron, come and 
comfort us. With you will we fight the spiritual 
fight ; with you win the spiritual victory. You carried 
the cross before us that we should follow in your 
footsteps." * 

The best known of the legends in honour of the 
Holy Family is one written by a Carthusian monk, 
Bruder Philip, in the middle of the thirteenth century. 
It was copied and re-written numbers of times, and 
continued to be read till the sixteenth century. Its 
simple, unpretending, and hearty manner make the best 
parts of it very interesting.f 

* The "Litanei aller Heiligen," the author of which calls himself 
Heinrich, in the older version, is printed in the older form from a MS. 
of the twelfth century in Hoffmann's "Fundgr." ii. 216; in a later form 
from a Strashurg MS. in Massmann's " Gedichte des 12 Jarh." i. p. 43. 

■j- Brother Philip's " Leben der Heiligen Familie " (" Marienlehen ") 
was published by Kiickert, Breslau, 1853. The subject-matter and 
extracts are in Docen's " Miscellaneen," 1807, ii. 66. 


"Die Kindheit unseres Herrn," by Konrad von 
Fussesbrunnen, written at the beginning of the thir- 
teenth century, is the best poem of the sort. It was 
long known by name, but it was only lately that the 
poem itself was discovered and printed.* Konrad von 
Wiirzburg's " Goldene Schmiede," — a glorification of 
the Virgin, — is perhaps the most perfect of his works. 
Herein he represents himself as a smith, who makes of 
gold and precious stones the adornment of the Empress 
of Heaven. " Could I in the smithy of my heart," he 
says in the opening, " forge a poem of gold, with lumi- 
nous thoughts like carbuncles set therein, then would I 
write a brilliant eulogy in thy honour. But even if my 
speech could soar aloft, as if borne on eagles' wings, it 
never could reach to the level of thy praise. Sooner 
could marble and precious stones be bored by a straw, 
or the diamond by soft lead, than I could glorify thee as 
thou deserves! When the stars have been numbered, 
and the motes in the sunbeam, and the sand, and the 
leaves, then, and not till then, will thy praises be meetly 
sung." The poet then launches forth into a set of most 
exalted encomiums of the Virgin-Mother. Many of the 
images are borrowed from Holy writ ; and, in fact, had, 
before Konrad's time, been referred to the Virgin by 
German poetical writers. Such, for instance, as Aaron's 
rod and Gideon's fleece. So that Konrad's merit does 
not consist so much in originality, as in putting these 
figures into a brilliant and highly poetical form. A 
collection of these figures from Konrad and others has 

* Konrad von Pussesbrunnen's poem is printed in Hahn's " Gediohte 
der 12 und 13 Jarh." 1840, p. 67. 



been prefixed by W. Grimm to bis new edition of tlie 
" Goldene Schmiede." For 200 years Konrad's poem 
■was in great celebrity, and was an object of wonder and 
imitation to most of the succeeding writers on the same 

Among the vast mass of legends on single saints may 
be mentioned " Der Heilige Gregor auf dem Steine," 
written by Hartmaun, after his "Erec," and before 
his " Iwein ; " where his talents as a narrator are 
shown to the best advantage. The story, which used 
to be read out in the churches until the sixteenth cen- 
tury, is briefly this: — Gregory unwittingly married 
his own mother, and, to atone for the error, caused 
himself to be chained for seventeen years to a solitary 
rock in the ocean. At the expiration of this period it 
was revealed to the Romans that there was nobody 
among them worthy to fill the Papal stool, then 
vacant ; but there was a man who had sat on a rock 
these seventeen years as an expiation for involuntary 
sin ; — him they must choose. He is brought to Rome 
accordingly, and not only he, but his father and mother, 
who were brother and sister, obtain pardon of their 
sins. Sinners therefore must learn from this history, 
that pardon is vouchsafed to those only who are truly 
penitent.* Rudolf von Ems's poem on the conversion 
of the heathen king, Barlaam, by a Christian youth. 

* " Gregor auf dem Steine " was first published by Greith, " Spicile- 
gium Vaticanum," 1838, p. 180; then by Lachmann, 1838, in a complete 
shape. The legend is also in Koberger's " Passional" (1488), and in the 
"Postill und Ewangely Buoeh'' (Basel, 1514), as a commentary on the 
Gospel of the 1 7th Sunday after Trinity. Bl. 222 c. 


Josaphat by name, is also remarkable for genial nar- 
ration. This legend, which has appeared in all lan- 
guages, may be adduced as a model of legend-writing 
in detail, during the best period. Its date is between 
1230 and 1240.* 

Two other legends exemplify Konrad von Wiirz- 
burg's brilliancy of language and fullness of descrip- 
tion. One is " Saint Sylvester," who, by the power 
of Christ, brought a wild steer to life again, which 
the Jewish leader had killed by the mention of 
Jehovah's name; upon which the Jews, and also 
Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine, embrace 
Christianlty.f The other is the legend of " Saint 
Alexius," which appeared in no less than eight versions. 
The simple form, however, in which it was produced 
by some unknown poet of the first half of the thirteenth 
century, is preferable to the more elaborate work of 

Alexius, the son of Euphemianus, a distinguished 
Roman, at the time of Theodosius the Great, marries 
a noble virgin, Adriatica by name. On the evening 
of the festal day, when the music and rejoicings are 
at their height, Alexius looks at a taper which 

* Eudolf 's " Barlaam und Josaphat " was published by Kopke, 1818, 
and with correcter text, 1843, by F. Pfeiffer. There are also two other 
German poetical versions of this legend, one by a certain Bishop Otto. 
The first composition of it is ascribed usually to Johannes Damascenus, 
in the eighth century. 

t Konrad von Wiirzburg's " Sylvester," von Wilhelm Grimm, Got- 
tingen, 1841. 

J " Sanct Alexius Leben in acht gereimten Mittel-hoch-deutschen 
Behandlungen, nebst geschiohtlicher Einleitung so wie deutschen, griech. 
und latein. Anhangea." H. Massmann, 1843. 


stands near, and thinks of the nothingness of all sub- 
lunary things. " See," says he, looking towards his 
blooming bride, " See, Adriatica, how brightly it burns, 
and yet it will soon be burnt out. So it is with the 
world, old and young soon return to dust, Man is a 
shadow that soon vanishes — a flower which quickly 
fades. Therefore will we take refuge from the world, 
think of our souls, and renounce these transitory joys." 
Hereupon he takes off the golden ring and gives it 
back to the bride. " God will preserve thee on the 
way," is the pious bride's reply. "I will continue true 
to thee for ever and aye." Alexius departs, while 
Adriatica falls into a swoon. Arrived at Pisa, he 
changes his goodly robes for the habit of a beggar, and 
suffers all sorts of privations of his own accord, till his 
bright face grows pale and squalid, and his rich locks 
thin ; and no one recognised him. The messengers 
despatched by his father in quest of him, see him 
among the crowd of mendicants and give him alms, 
without knowing who he is. He next journeys to 
Edessa, and from thence to Jerusalem, sojourning for 
twelve years in the Holy Land. Meantime his parents 
sit upon the ground and mourn for their son. His bride, 
like a forlorn turtle-dove, laments her lover. Alexius 
returns to Lucca, and sits thirsty and a-hungered 
before an image of the Redeemer. The verger of the 
church meanwhile is informed, by a voice from heaven, 
that a poor man lies without, in- prayer, whom God 
has need of. He must, therefore, lead him inside. On 
the entry of Alexius all the church bells in the city 
commence ringing. People flock together from all 


quarters, and on learning what has happened, continue 
praising God all night. Alexius, shrinking from the 
honour in store for him, gets on board a ship sailing 
to Africa. But God disposes it otherwise, and the 
vessel is carried by a storm to Rome. Here he comes 
to his father's palace, and solicits alms. A pallet is 
laid for the beggar under the stairs. The servants 
throw hot broth on him as they pass, but he endures it 
all with patience. It was hard, forsooth, to see his 
father and mother pass by daily ; harder still to see his 
bride, and hear her inquiries after Alexius. He tells 
how that he once knew Alexius; how constant and 
true he was. " And did he think of me ?" inquires the 
bride. " Oh, yes ; he thought of the ring he gave thee 
at parting, and how sad you were. And he thought of 
his father and mother, and then his heart was fulL 
But he resigned all for the sake of eternal life." " Did 
he ever think to return ?" she asks. " That I never 
could learn," is the answer. "Did he ever regret what 
he had done ?" " Never." Thus they talked with one 
another day by day, and the sweet sorrow of the 
faithful bride was renewed each time they talked. But 
his voluntary sufferings at last came to an end. Alexius 
wrote on a parchment an account of his life and adven- 
tures, and so died with the document in his hand. At 
the same instant all the bells of the Lateran and the 
rest of the churches in. Rome began ringing. God was 
the ringer. It is revealed that the saint is lying dead 
in the house of Euphemianus. Euphemianus discovers 
the corpse ; the countenance is radiant with angelic 
light. In his hand he clutches the parchment. The 


father, the two Emperors, Arcadius and Honorius, the 
Pope himself, all fail to disengage it from the dead 
man's grasp. Upon this A driatica approaches, weeping, 
and the hand immediately relaxes its hold. 

The lamentations which follow the discovery are even- 
tually brought to an end by the Pope. The corpse is 
conveyed to the minster, and all sorts of wonders are 
performed at the coffin. 

The father, who dies two years later, is buried on 
one side of the coffin, the mother on the other. Last 
of all, Adriatica dies also, and, at her request, her 
remains are consigned to the same coffin as her lover, 
the dust moving itself to make way for her virgin 

Another poem, the style of which is pure and lan- 
guage good, hymns the praises of Saint Elizabeth, the 
most renowned saint of the middle ages. Every line of 
it is instinct with the love and devotion of the writer. 
This legend, which remained for a long time unknown, 
is in six books. It must not be confounded with a 
miserable doggerel on the same subject, written one 
hundred years later. No work could possibly give us 
a better notion of the thoughts and feelings of that 
period than this does. The saint herself is done to the 
life. We see her kneeling in prayer while the Holy 
Communion Is being administered. " Exalted by love, 
floating in rapture, steeped in joy, surrounded by gloryj" 
her bliss is ineffable. With the inward eye she has seen 
the wonders of the Godhead. She next slumbers on 
the lap of her female friend Isentrut. In her sleep she 
smiles and weeps alternately; and on awaking exclaims, 


'* Yes, Lord, Thou wilt be with me and I wltli Theei 
for ever." Being questioned, she states that she has 
seen the Lord Jesus in the spirit. When that compas- 
sionate countenance looked on her she smiled ; when it 
was turned away she wept. And then he asked whether 
she would abide with him for ever. And she said, 
" Yea, Lord, for ever and ever. Never will I leave or 
forsake Thee." 

Celestial music is heard when she dies ; her remains 
are carried to the tomb by emperors and princes, because 
in this life she despised worldly honours. All this, 
together with her exaltation to Heaven and canoniza- 
tion, is excellently described.* 

With the exception of a fragment of a poem on Saint 
George, written in the ninth centuryf, the legend of 
" Pilatus" may be considered one of the earliest that 
appeared in a German version. In style it resembles 
Wernher's " Mary," and the " Litany of All Saints, " 
mentioned above. The date of these poems is the same, 
viz., pretty early in the preparatory period, 1150-1190. 
The peculiarity of this composition is the odd mixture 
of Christian, German, and perhaps Celtic elements. 

The tale runs thus. At Mayence there was a Ger- 
man king, Tyrus or Zirus by name, who ruled over the 

* Extracts from " Saint Elizabeth" are printed in Graff's "Diutiska,'' 
i. 343, seq. The poem was composed after the year 1297, for the death 
of Elizabeth's second (third) daughter, the nun of Altenhurg, is men- 
tioned, and this occurred August 13, 1297. 

f The oldest version of the legend of Saint George is a Leich, printed 
in Hoffmann's "Fundgr." i. p. 10. Another version, dating 1231-1253, 
by Reinbot von Durne, is printed, bnt in debased language, in Hagen 
and Biisching's " Gedichte des Mittelalters," 1 vol. 


region of the Meuse, the Khine, and the Main. This 
king had an illegitimate son, Pilatus, by the daughter 
of a poor miller. Pilatus, after killing his brother, who 
was the lawful heir to the throne, was sent by his father 
as a hostage to Kome. Here he committed a second 
murder, and was now sent to Pontus (so Pontius is 
written in the old Saxon " Harmony of the Gospels "), 
where he conquers the barbarians of the country, and is 
in consequence selected to subjugate the Jews. The 
fragment here breaks off, but the sequel of the legend 
is this. After the death of our Saviour, Pilatus, being 
summoned to Rome on account of his unjust sentence, 
committed suicide, and his body was thrown into the 
Tiber. A great inundation was the consequence. The 
body was therefore taken out of the Tiber and cast into 
the Rhone. But the evil spirit of the murderer of Christ 
could not rest; so to prevent disaster the body was 
again taken out and put into the lake on Mount Pilatus, 
in Switzerland. Here it will lie till the judgment -day. 
Whenever anything is cast into the lake, he lashes it 
into fury; and it is he that breeds the storms that 
descend from the mountain. It is not improbable that 
we owe this mixing up of Pilate with transactions in 
Germany, be they historical or mythic, to the twenty- 
second Roman Legion, which was stationed in Pales- 
tine at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, but 
soon after changed its quarters to Mayence. 

With this legion the first Christians possibly arrived 
in Germany, and in the cruel king's son, who perhaps 
bore a similar name, they recalled the infamous Pilate 
of Palestine. His end, however, reminds us of the 


water sprites of the Celtic sagas.* The legend of 
" Saint Oswald" is similarly mixed up with stories of the 
mythic world and of old national heroes.f While the 
accounts of Saint Brandanus and his travels, like the 
Saga of " Duke Ernst," bear a strong resemblance to 
mediaaval fairy tales4 

Still more remarkable is the way in which the 
Chi-istian legend, entitled " Der ungenahete Eock 
Christi (the seamless Coat of Christ),'' which is said to 
have been discovered at Treves in 1512, attached Itself 
as far back, perhaps, as the twelfth century to the oldest 
heroic Saga of Germany. This Saga has no connexion 
with any other Saga, and has therefore not yet been 
mentioned. The legend in question, the style of which 
combines the stiffness of the twelfth century with the 
uncouthness of the fifteenth century §, relates how the 
Grey Coat of Christ became the property of one King 
Orendel and his wife Breida. How that the said Oren- 
del left his father. King Eigel of Treves, went on a sea- 

» The legend of " Pilate '' is in Mone's "Anzeiger," 1835, Sp. 434. 
Massmann's " Ged. des 12 Jarh." 145. 

t The legend of " Saint Oswald," by a strolling minstrel of the twelfth 
century, was published by EttmuUer, 1835. On the connexion between 
this description and the heroic legends " Orendel," " Traugmund," &c., 
see Mone's " Anzeiger," 1835, Sp. 414. A later version is in Haupt's 
" Zeitschrift," ii. 92. 

J See a subsequent note respecting " Saint Brandanus." 

§ The original version, dating from the twelfth century, and, like 
" Saint Oswald," and " Salomo and Morolf," composed by a stroller, was 
published, 1844, by V. d. Hagen ; "Der ungenahte graue Eock Christi ; 
wie Konig Orendel ihn erwirbt, darin Frau Breiden und das heilige 
Grab gewinnt und ihn nach Trier bringt," &c. It was printed from the 
unique MS. collated with the old Augsburg edition of 1512, which last 
is preferable to the MS. A translation of the old poem was published 
by Simrock, 1845 ; "Der ungenahte Eock," &c. 


Voyage, suffered shipwreck, and saved himself on a 
plank. After which he was sheltered by one Master 
Eisen, a fisherman, became possessed of the coat and 
also of Breida, the most beautiful of women, and re- 
turned to Treves. Shortly after which he died, as was 
foretold by an angel. Now in the " Heldenbuch " 
mention is made of a certain hero and king at Treves, 
Erntelle, together with his wife Brigita, and who was the 
oldest hero that ever was. Aventinus, likewise, in his 
chronicle, mentions one Herold, a bishop and king, or 
high-priest at Treves, and his wife Pyrga. His father's 
name was Eigel, a name perpetuated in the Eigel- 
Stones of the Rhine and Moselle to the present day. 
In the Northern Mythology we also meet with Or- 
vandil (Orendel), whose toe was thrown by Thor up to 
Heaven, where it became a star. " Eearendel " is the 
Anglo-Saxon term for a glittering star. 

Arundel, therefore, or, as it may originally have 
been written, Aruwentil, must signify the Arrow- 
shooter; all which indicates that we have before us 
a very ancient mythic personage. Nay, this probably 
explains the story of Tacitus in his " Germania," that 
Ulysses and his father Laertes once came to the Rhine 
and built Asciburgium, where an altar once stood in- 
scribed with the name of Laertes. Now if Tacitus, — 
who considered "Wuotan to correspond to Mercury, 
and Donar to Jupiter, — ^had ever got to hear of this 
Aruwentil and his father Eigil, he would very likely 
identify them with Ulysses and Laertes, and look 
upon the Eigel-stones as altars of Laertes; unless, 
perhaps, the conjecture may be hazarded that the 


legend of Ulysses was at home in Germany quite as 
much as it was in Greece.* 

Having now finished our brief survey of the several 
groups of art-epic, we shall touch upon the isolated 
stories not connected with any one of these groups in 
particular. Some of these are after the fashion of the 
sacred legends, or Biblical stories. Others are not sacred, 
but profane in character, although with a few exceptions 
written in a grave style ; while past and present, legend 
and history, or the poet's own fancy, in turn supply 
the subject-matter. They were, for the most part, to 
the thirteenth century what romances and novels are 
to the nineteenth. There is no rich legendary back- 
ground to lend an interest to the story. The hero is 
quite detached from the traditional figures of the popu- 
lar romances. The consequence is that their poetic 
value, for the most part, depends not on the matter, 
but on the power of the individual writer in each 
instance. This became essentially the case in the 
second half of the thirteenth century. The poet was 
everything, the material nothing, Literary history be- 
comes thenceforward less a history of art than of books. 

The "Annolied" is a piece written about 1170 in 
short-rhymed couplets. ' It describes the life and ex- 
ploits of Anno, Archbishop of Cologne, from 1045 to 

* Respecting Orendel (Oervandil, Aruwentil), see J. Grimm's 
" Deutsche Mythologie," i. 347. Only that Wendel, cited by Grimm 
(lb. p. 349) from Mathesius (so also Sirarock, p. xvii.), has nothing 
to do with Oer-yandil (Aruwentil). Mathesius alludes to S. Wendelinus, 
the patron Saint of Shepherds. 


1075. Interspersed with these are poetical descrip- 
tions of notable events in Biblical and profane history. 
Among other personages, Julius Caesar is introduced. 
Many passages are in the genuine popular vein, and 
admirably done. The commencement, for instance, is 
derived word for word from the old heroic songs, and 
most likely refers to the " Nibelungenlied." Another 
passage, descriptive of the Battle of Pharsalia, resem- 
bles parts of Lamprecht's "Alexander," and has the 
very air of an ancient war-song. " Caesar sends for 
aid to the warriors of the German land ; and when they 
knew his will, they assembled in great numbers from 
Gallia and Germania, with shining helmets, and strong 
hauberks and shields. Like a flood they poured upon 
the land ; and as they approached Rome, Pompey and 
the Senate became alarmed, and fled to Egypt. Who 
can enumerate the hosts that hastened from the East to 
fight with Csesar. They were like the snow falling on 
the Alps, like the hail rushing from the clouds. Csesar 
advanced with inferior numbers, and then there was 
such a battle as never was seen in this world," (meri- 
garto, i. e., the world surrounded by the sea). " Ha ! 
how the weapons clanged when the warriors met ; the 
horns bellowed, blood-streams flowed (herehorn duzzin, 
beche blutis vluzzin). The earth rumbled and the 
abyss trembled, when the mightiest of this world 
charged each other with the sword. There lay many 
a heap bathed in gore. There you might see Pompey's 
warriors die, cloven to the brain, when Caesar won the 
victory." So again, when Anno, before his end, dreams 
that he is going to Heaven, and fancies that he comes 


into a noble hall, hung with gold. " Many a gem 
blazed everywhere ; song and manifold joy was there. 
There sat bishops shining like stars. Bishop Bardo was 
one, and Bishop Arnold, and Saint Heribert gleamed 
like gold ; all of one life, all of one mind. And one 
stool is vacant ; this is for Anno ; here he soon will sit, 
as soon as the spot of mortality has been wiped out." 
M. Opitz's last work was an edition of this poem, 
which appeared a few weeks before his death of the 
plague in 1639. The old MS., the only one in ex- 
istence, was burnt, together with his papers. 

The " Kaiserchronik " was nearly contemporaneous 
with the " Annolied." It contains many passages which 
are also to be found in the " Annolied." How this came 
about is not ascertained. In this remarkable work, of 
which many versions appeared in the thirteenth century, 
we have a sort of legendary account of the most notable 
saints jumbled up together with profane history. The 
whole, however, is generally done in a good old poetic 

* This has appeared in two editions; first, Massmann's "Der Keiser 
nnd der Kunige buoch oder die sogen. Kaiserchronik. Ged. des 12 
Jahrh. von 18,578 Eeimzeilen nach 12 Tollstandigen und 17 unvolls. 
Handschriften nebst Worterbuch," in three volumes. Also "Die 
Kaiserchronik nach der altesten Handschrift des Stiftes Vorau," by 
Joseph Diemer. In the oldest MSS. it goes back to the year 1147, and 
must have been -written in this form not later than 1 1 60. A later version 
brings the work down to the death of Frederick 11., and another to 
Kudolf of Hapsburg. 

The "Annolied" is in the editions of Opitz's works, published by 
Fellgibel; also in that by Sodmer and Breiting, 1745, p. 179. It is 
wanting in the Frankfort and Amsterdam editions; an independent 
edition appeared in 1848, " Maere von Sente Annen " von Dr. Bezzen- 


Rudolf von Ems, a prolific writer already mentioned, 
who lived just at the end of the best period, composed 
a similar work, which stood in even higher repute. 
This was done for Konrad IV., and contained all the 
Old Testament history down to Solomon, when the 
author's death prevented its completion. The style is 
after Gottfried von Strasburg, and is simple and grace- 
ful ; sometimes too pleasing and courtly for the great- 
ness of the theme. With this work Rudolf combined a 
history of heathen nations, whence the name " Welt- 
chronik " given to the whole.* Rudolf's superior powers 
as a poet become best apparent by comparing this poem 
with a similar work by Johann Enikel, an Austrian by 
birth, or with a stiff and tasteless imitation of Rudolf 
by some anonymous writer, living about the same time 
at the Thuringian court. ^f Rudolf's " Weltchronik " 
likewise merits notice as having been, down to 
Luther's time, the only source from which the laity 
obtained a knowledge of Old Testament history. 

We shall now pass on to mention a few of the very 
numerous smaller sacred stories. 

"Kaiser Heraclius," was written upon a foreign model 
by a certain Otto about the middle of the thirteenth 
century or a little later, but not, as Massmann its editor 

* Rudolf's "Weltchronik" is not yet printed, for the text of the 
edition of Schiitze, 1779 and 17S1, under the title of "Die Histor. 
Biicher des alten Testaments," is altogether corrupt. Extracts from the 
genuine Tprork arc in Graff's "Diutiska," i. 47-72; from the spurious 
and anonymous TPOrk in Docen's " Misc." ii. 39 ; and from both in Vil- 
mar's " Die zwei Eecensionen und die Handschriften-familien der Welt- 
chronik, Rudolfs von Ems," 1839. 

* Enikel's (Enenkel's) work is not yet printed. Extracts in Docen's 
" Misc." ii. 160. 


oddly enough conjectures, by Otto von Freising, In the 
twelfth century. This poem is distinguished for its 
purity and fluency of diction.* The fable is as follows : 
Heraclius, the son of rich parents, is gifted from his 
birth with the faculty of discerning the hidden power 
of stones, the value of horses, and the inmost thoughts 
and secret actions of women. After his father's death, 
his mother, with his consent, gives all her goods to the 
poor, and is reduced thereby to penury. The infant 
phenomenon himself becomes a slave. Eventually he 
is purchased by an Imperial chamberlain, and gives 
proofs of his wonderful powers in the presence of the 
Emperor. From among many thousand stones and 
horses, he selects what appears to be the most worth- 
less stone and most worthless horse, and enacts with 
these such marvels as stone or horse never enacted 
before. He then, to the dismay of the many beautiful 
and high-born dames who thronged the court, selects 
as a wife for the Emperor, a low-born damsel. It is 
true she was very beautiful, but she was more, she 
was chaste, — a quality which the others wanted, as 
Heraclius well knew by the magic power which he 
possessed. For many years the Emperor, whose name is 
Phocas, lives on the happiest terms witli his Athenais. 
At last, before going out to war, he determines, con- 
trary to the advice of Heraclius, to immure her, during 
his absence, in a tower. This over-carefulness leads to 
a similar catastrophe with that in " Tristan " and other 

• " Eraclius Detitsches und Franzosisches Ged. des 12 Jahrh. jenes 
von Otto, dieses von Gautier von Arras." Massmann, 1842, edited for 
t he first time. 



poems. The lady is piqued, and by the aid of an old 
woman, called Morphea, dishonours her husband. All 
this is narrated in the fashion of Gottfried, and with 
much of his ornament. ' On the return of the Emperor 
with Heraclius from the expedition, the lynx-eyed seer 
finds her out at once. She is made to do penance, and 
by the advice of Heraclius, who lays the blame on the 
Emperor himself, she is divorced and married to her 
lover. After this signal proof of his wisdom, Heraclius 
becomes more famous than ever ; till at last he is made 
Emperor. After this, he recovers, in a dreadful war, the 
Holy Rood, which had been carried off by the Persians ; 
an event which the Romish church stUl commemorates 
at the festival of the Elevation of the Cross. The first 
half of this story — which is thus mixed up with the well- 
known legend of the elevation of the Cross — is borrowed 
from the far nobler story of "Crescentia,"* which belongs 
to the twelfth century. In this, Crescentia is entrusted 
by her husband, during his absence at the wars, to his 
brother. This brother tempts her to break her marriage 
vows ; but she resists his base proposals, and manages 
to shut him up in a tower. The wretch maligns her 
to her husband on his return, who spurns her from 
him. She endures much misery without complaint, 
until her innocence is established, and she becomes a 
saint in consequence. This tale is the foundation of 
many others of similar import, e. g., " Griseldis." 

* The oldest form of " Crescentia '' is to be found in the " Kaiser, 
chronik." A version of the thirteenth century is in "Mailath und 
JiofiSnger Coloczaer Codex Altdeutscher Gedichte,'' 1817, p. 245. A 
prose version in " Haupt und Hof&nann's altdeutsche Blatter," i. 300. 


• This mixture of the sacred and the profane in Hera- 
clius is a proof of the gradual secularisation of eccle- 
siastical life. Hartmann von der Aue's poem " Der 
arme Heinrich," which he wrote at the close of the 
twelfth century* , is a pious or moral poem in the best 
sense, though it has nothing of the legend about it. 
From the twelfth to the sixteenth century, Europe was 
visited by the plague of leprosy, and the extent of its 
ravages may be guessed from the many hospitals for 
lepers still existing in the outskirts of German towns. 
Many superstitions prevailed in respect to this disease; 
one of which was that it could only be cured by the 
blood of a virgin, who gave herself up as a voluntary 
sacrifice. Upon this half-heathen superstition is based 
Hartmann's delightful story. A rich man, blessed with 
every human happiness, falls sick of the disorder, and 
suffers all the tortures of Job. But unlike Job, instead 
of being patient, he curses the day and hour that he 
was born. The doctors of Salerno, in Italy, to which 
city he repaired for advice, could do him no good. The 
only means of cure they were able to suggest was 
that mentioned above. But of what use was their 
suggestion ? For where could a virgin be found who 
would sacrifice herself for one smitten with leprosy? 
Poor Heinrich returns to his home in Suabia, sorrowful 
and dejected, gives up his possessions, and retires to a 
lone farm-house. The farmer's daughter, a girl of 

* Hartmann's "Anuer Heinrich" is one of the Middle-High-German 
poems that have been most frequently edited, e. g. in " Miiller's Col- 
lection," vol. i.i then in 1815, by the Grimms; afterwards hy Lach- 
mann; by Wackernagel, 1842; by TV. MiilZer, with glossary; and by 
Haupt; and translated by Simrock, 1830. 

I 2 


twelve years, touched with compassion at his sufferings, 
nurses him just as if he were clean, and not an object of 
loathing to all the world. After some time she hears 
of the one only method by which he could be cured, 
and straightway the idea seizes her that it is she who 
is to effect the cure. In the stillness of the night the 
young creature weeps as she broods over this idea; and 
her readiness to die, her ardent longing to give relief to 
the sick person, the firmness with which she adheres 
to her resolve, in spite of the entreaties of her parents 
and the patient, who at first looks upon it as a mere 
girlish freak ; all this is admirably described. She sets 
out in company with her sick master to Salerno, does 
not flinch for a moment under the cross-examination of 
the physician, who wants to make out that she is acting 
under intimidation ; nor yet at the sight of the knife 
which is whetted before her eyes. The pure disinte- 
rested affection of a devoted female heart could not 
possibly be described more touchingly and truly than it 
is here by Hartmann. At last, just at the very moment 
when the maiden is about to be slaughtered, Heinrich, 
melted by her exceeding goodness, ceases to be so 
anxious for his cure, yields to the will of God, and 
humbly takes his sickness as a dispensation of the Al- 
mighty. At his request, the physician desists from the 
deadly operation, while he returns home in company 
with the damsel, whose only grief is that she has not 
been permitted to fall a sacrifice. And lo ! now that he 
has humbled himself before God, his leprosy is taken 
away. In the end the maiden becomes the wife of him, 
whom she had thus saved bodily as well as spiritually. 


Eudolph von Ems's "Der gute Gerhard/' which after 
baving been long supposed to be lost, has lately turned 
up, is a poem of similar tendency, though more secular 
in form.* The Emperor, Otho the Eed, according to the 
story, was a wise and just emperor, and his wife Otto- 
gebe, a kind-hearted lady, who moves her husband to 
spend his wealth in pious objects, and among other 
things, to found the bishopric of Magdeburgh. The 
story, by the way, confounds Otho the Great with his 
son Otho II., called the Eed, from the colour of his 
hair. The Emperor, however, becomes vainly puffed at 
the thought of what good he has done, and parades 
his own merits before the Almighty; whereupon it is 
revealed to him that God will no more regard his offer- 
ings. Temporal honour he may have, but spiritual and 
eternal glory shall never be his. He ought to have 
acted like the Good Gerhard, a simple merchant at 
Cologne, whose name, though he was no prince, was 
written down in the book of the living. Upon this 
the Emperor sets out for Cologne to see this man. In 
reply to the Emperor's inquiries, Gerhard says that the 
Good Gerhard is only a chance nickname given him 
by the people of the city. This does not satisfy his 
Majesty, tiU at last Gerhard is induced to relate his his^ 
tory, but not until after he had wrestled in prayer, and 
satisfied himself that there would be nothing wrong in 
so doing. The tale which follows is furnished with all 

» "Der Gute Gerhard, erne Erzahlung von Budolf von Ems," Morite 
Eaupt, 1840. The Saga is certainly not Rudolf's invention, but ■who 
■was the author is not ascertained. Simrock translated it into modem 
German, 1847. 


the ornament of chivalric poetry, while it is at the same 
time a model description of simplicity and unpretend- 
ing modesty. Once Gerhard's thoughts were centred 
upon the acquisition of riches, and the great object of 
his ambition was that his son should, like him, be called 
the rich Gerhard. Having by a lucky venture gained 
a large sum of money in heathen lands, he voluntarily 
parted with the whole of it to ransom some English 
knights, and a Norwegian king's daughter, from slavery. 
He then relates how this damsel was betrothed to an 
English king, William, who had disappeared in a storm 
at sea ; how he took and nourished her for years at his 
house at Cologne, in hopes that her lover would appear ; 
but at last, being convinced that the king was no more, 
he makes preparations for marrying her to his son ; when 
suddenly the lost king appears, although in beggar's 

Gerhard makes his son at once resign all claims to 
the lady. He accompanies the king to England, and is 
recognised by the English nobility, who wish to raise 
him to the throne ; but he steadfastly declines all 
honour and reward, and will only, " for the sake of the 
red lips of the beautiful queen, his foster-daughter," 
accept a breast ornament and a ring for his wife, and 
then returns a simple merchant to "Cologne. All this 
is so vividly narrated that we fancy we have the lowly- 
minded, yet energetic, Gerhard before us. His example 
has such an effect upon the Emperor, when he thinks 
of the little good that he himself has done, and his pride 
on the strength of it, that he returns to Magdeburg and 
confesses that the good a man does he must do, not for 


his own sake, but for God's, else it is not good. He 
repents of his presumption, and now he achieves not 
only temporal, but eternal glory. 

This work of Rudolf is perhaps his oldest and best, 
and the one best suited for the exhibition of his powers. 
His " Wilhelm von Dourlens, or Orlienz,"* is an inferior 
production. It is the history — after a foreign model, 
and mixed up with much legendary matter — of a Bra- 
bant prince. Most of the secular stories — of which this 
is one — are based upon foreign originals. Some go 
back to the twelfth century : e. g., the fragment of the 
" Graf Rudolf," edited by W. Grimmf, which plea- 
santly describes the life of the Crusaders. " Darifant," 
" Demantin," and " Crane," are three similar poems by 
Bertolt von Holle, who lived in the middle of the 
thirteenth century, f Other poems are of German 
origin, as Konrad von "Wurzburg's well-told legend of 

* " Orlienz," not yet printed, is a history of Wilhelm the Conqueror, 
handled in a foreign fashion. An extract in Mone's " Anzeiger," 1835, 
Sp. 27. 

t "Grave Euodolf," 1828, 4.; "Graf Kudolf," second edition, 
1844, 4. 

J " Darifant " and " Demantin " are as yet only known in fragments ; 
those frqm " Darifant " were discovered and published by Nyerup ; 
reprinted by W. Miiller, in Haupt's " Zeitschrift," ii. 179. Those from 
"Demantin" are in Massmann's "Deukmaler," 75. Fragments of 
" Crane " were first discovered and published by W. Grimm (under the 
title of " Assundin." Lemgo, 1827) ; others by W. Miiller, and published 
by him in Haupt's " Zeitschrift," i. 57. He soon concluded that the 
■writer of the two above works and this must be one and the same person. 
Recently an almost perfect MS. of " Crane " has been discovered. The 
connection between " Crane " and " Graf Rudolf," only conjectured by 
VUmar, has been proved by W. Grimm, " Gr. Eud.," second edition, 
p. 47. 


" The Emperor Otho with the Beard." Here we 
learn how the Emperor has sworn by his beard to take 
vengeance on Heinrich von Kempten, who has killed 
his steward. How Heinrich hereupon lugs the Im- 
perial beard ; how he masters the Emperor, and compels 
him to give him his life, on condition that he sees his 
face no more. How Heinrich after this saves the Em- 
peror's life in the Italian wars, gets pardoned in conse- 
quence, and is promoted to great honours.* There are 
also extant two remarkable historic poems upon King 
Albrecht and Adolf von Ifassau, and the battle of 
Hasenbiihl, on July 2, 1298 ; the first of which contains 
allusions to the sagas of " Dietrich " and " Sigfrid."f 

"Meier Hehnbrecht" is important as a delineation 
of German peasant life at the commencement of the 
thirteenth century. Its author was an Austrian, 
Werner der Gartner.| 

" Herzog Ernst " is one of the few old national Sagas 
which have survived among the people until the present 
day. It existed, though not as a poem, before the year 
1 180, but only two small fragments are extant of it in 
that original shape. In the middle of the thirteenth 
century a fresh version of it appeared, which was for a 

* " Otte mit dem Barte,'' von Cuonrad von Wiirzeburc, von A. Hahn, 

t The poem here meant of "King Albrecht and Adolf von Nassau," is 
in Hanpt's " Zeitschrift," iii. 7-25. It contains Lower-Rhine forms of 
expression. A totally different, and mnch less important poem, is one 
printed in Graff's " Dintiska," iii. 314-323. 

% The poem of " Meier Helmbrecht," ■which is supposed to have been' 
of Bavarian origin, is printed in Haupt's " Zeitschrift," iv^ 31 8 ; also in 
the "Wiener JahrbUcher," 1839. 


long time attributed to Veldekin ; but this supposition 
could not be correct, for it is not likely that he sur- 
vived beyond the beginning of that century^ That he 
was the author even of the older poem is more than 

Herzog Ernst is the son of the Bavarian Duchess 
Adelheit, who takes for her second husband Otho the 
Ked. Otho is here confounded, as in two other poems, 
with his father, Otho the Great. Ernst has a feud with 
his step-father, and quits the kingdom, going on a 
journey to Jerusalem with his faithful retainer, Count 
Wetzel. Now it happens that in history two rebellious 
Dukes Ernst are mentioned ; one a Bavarian, in the 
time of Ludwig the Pious ; the other a Suabian, in the 
time of Konrad the Salian, in the eleventh century, 
and actually that Emperor's step-son by his wife Gisela, 
and both were assisted by a Count Wernher, or 
Wetzel ; so that here we have a mixture of dates and 
persons pretty much in the same way as AttUa and 
Dietrich are mixed up in the Saga. The son-in-law of 
Konrad died at Constance in 1030, and soon after that 
he became a hero of popular romance in that part of 
Germany. But it is the second part of the Saga which 

* In the year 1180 Count Berthold von Andechs applied to Abbot 
Ruprecht, of Tegemsee, for permission to copy the " LibeUus teutonicus 
de Herzogen Emesten." In the thirteenth century the legend must have 
been -widely disseminated ; in prose, however, and not in song, as is plain 
from the reference in " Maier Helmbreoht," v. 956. The fragments of 
the oldest versions, dating from the twelfth century, are printed in Hoff- 
mann's " Pundgrube," i. 228. The older recension of the version of 
the thirteenth century remains unprinted ; the later one is published by 
V. d. Hagen, in " Ged. des Mittelalters," 1811. 


has lent to it its chief interest. Here we are introduced 
to the fabulous wonders of the East. On his journey 
to Jerusalem Duke Ernst arrives at a lonely castle, the 
magnificence of which recalls to us the famous Castle of 
the Gral. But in this castle, although it is provided 
with an abundance of good cheer, there is not a human 
being to be seen. The Crusaders enjoyed themselves 
here for some days, feasting on the cool wines and 
dainty viands, and bathing in the golden baths, which 
are fed by pipes of silver. At last one morning an 
extraordinary sound is heard, just as if a quantity of 
cranes were going to alight at the castle. And sure 
enough there they came, the sharp-nebbed generation, 
with their long dry necks, and beaks an ell long. They 
are clad in costly silks, and an Indian maiden, whom 
they had carried off, is in the midst of them, looking in 
her tears like a rose bathed in dew. The crane-king 
presents his long neb to her red little mouth, and makes 
tender love-speeches in tones anything but harmonious. 
Ernst and his knights, enraged at the sight, set upon 
the cranes ; numbers fell on both sides, but they fail to 
rescue the damsel owing to the deadly strokes of the 
cranes' bills. The chieftains again put to sea, and 
eventually discern a lofty island, with a forest of masts 
adhering to it. This is a magnetic rock, which draws 
vessels towards ii. Ernst's ship is soon cracking to 
pieces among the ruins of countless barks that have 
perished there already. The Duke and his surviving 
companions are then carried by griffins to another 
island. Eventually he comes to the country of the 
Arimasps, who have only one eye, and assists their 
king in his war with the Flat-feet, as they are called. 


This people can run across morassesj where neither 
horse nor man can follow them, and, when it is wet 
weather, put their feet over their heads like an umbrella. 
He also goes against the Long-ears, who use their ears 
at times for cloaks, and then against a race of giants so 
big that Ernst only reaches to their knee. In every 
contest he is victorious. At length he arrives at Jeru- 
salem, where he performs further wonderful exploits. 
He then returns to Germany, and on Christmas morn 
becomes reconciled to the Emperor, who relents as he 
hears the Bishop read the Gospel of the day, and thinks 
of the blessings which this anniversary commemorates. 
As the reader will have seen, most of these incidents 
are derived from the oriental fairy tales. In the 
fifteenth century this poem was converted into a popular 
song, and became so great a favourite that the measure 
of Bern, in which it was written, was also called Duke 
Ernst's measure. There is another version of "Herzog 
Ernst," which dates from the sixteenth century, but 
which is derived from a Latin source. 

There are other poems composed of like popular ma- 
terials, but written in a playful tone. " Solomon and 
Morolf " is a piece of this description. Morolf is an 
astute fool, who, in a conversation with King Solomon, 
turns each of his wise sayings into nonsense. 

Something of the kind existed as early as the sixth 
century ; and in the thirteenth Morolf had grown into 
a proverb. In, fact, there are two poems of this name: 
one by a popular poet of the twelfth century,* the 

* The perversion of SolomOD's wisdom by Morolf is referred to by 
lYeidank t81,.3-4). There are many genuine German features about 


other is a dialogue, of the fourteenth or fifteenth cen- 
tury. In this, Morolf (or Markolf, as he is here called,) 
asserts that Nature beats habit. Solomon has a favourite 
cat who has been taught to sit by him at table, and 
hold a candle. Markolf lets a mouse out of his sleeve, 
which runs across the table. The cat starts, but a 
menacing motion is made by the king, and art prevails 
over Nature. A second mouse runs out of Markolf's 
sleeve, and the cat, in its agitation, shakes the light 
to and fro; but the threatening attitude of the king has 
its eflfect, and habit is still victorious. A third mouse 
jumps out, and down goes the candle, and with it 
crockery and habit are overthrown. 

The second poem of this sort is " Pfaflfe Amis. " 
Pfaffe Amis is one of those heroes of roguery and fun, 
of lying and trickery, which have been current for cen- 
turies in Germany under the names of Pfaffe von Kalen- 
berg, Peter Leu, Bochart, and, lastly, of Till Eulen- 
splegel. Pfaffe Amis, whose name and condition are 
most likely derived from England, but whose roguish 
tricks are of German growth, is a diverting personage. 
In France, Loraine, England, and Constantinople, — - 
everywhere, in short, — he evinces equal dexterity in 
hoaxing greenhorns. This poem, which abounds with 

the story of "Solomon and Morolf." J. Grimm ("Mythol.," second 
edition, p. 415) seems almost to consider it a German legend, i. e. with 
foreign names and localities. Both pieces, the story of " Solomon and 
Morolf," and the dialogue between them, are pijnted in Hagen and 
Busching. In point of form " Orendel " much resembles " Solomon 
and Morolf." In it, too, the five-lined strophe originally prevailed, 
afterwards known as the " Jacobston," " Liadenschmidt," and " Schlacht 
von Pavia." Both the poems are divided into parts, corresponding with 
the draughts of wine handed to the narrators. 


wit and humour, is the work of the same Strieker (as he 
is called) who wrote an indifferent version of the " Ro- 
landslied." Here, however, he is completely at home. 
The same may be said of his short stories and fables.* 

Parson Amis has a fat benefice, of which his bishop 
intends to deprive him, unless he can answer certain 
questions. He is no other than Biirger's Abbot of St. 
Gall, whom Biirger borrowed from Burkhard Waldis, 
who in his turn had taken him from the oral popular 
traditions of his time. "How many days is it since 
Adam? " is one of the questions put to Amis. " Seven," 
is the reply, " and after that another seven, and so on." 
" Where is the centre of the world?" " My church," 
answers Amis, "is just in the centre. Let your ser- 
vants measure with a cord, and if I am wrong by the 
breadth of a straw you may take away my benefice." 
This joke is still extant in reference to a village in 
Lower Hessia. *' How far are we from heaven ? " 
" As far as a man can bawl. Mount up, Sir Bishop, 
and if, when you are up there, you don't hear my voice 
from below, I've lost." Amis is next compelled to 
teach an ass, on pain of losing his place. " A man, " he 
remarks, " requires twenty years to learn anything well, 
so for an ass we shall want thirty." This is agreed to, 
and he proceeds to purchase a little donkey for the 
purpose, before which he places an old volume with 
hay inserted between the leaves. Long-ears being 

* "Pfaffe Amis" is given best in Benecke's "Beitrage," ii. 493; also 
before (1817) in the " Coloczaer Codex." There is also an old edition 
of the poem, of the end of the fifteenth or beginning of the sixteenth 
century. A translation of it appeared by Berlit, in 1851. 


hungry, fumbles about for the hay, and turns over the 
leaves in search of it. Presently the Bishop arrives to 
examine the donkey-school. " You see, my Lord, he 
has made some progress already. He can manage to 
turn over the leaves." The Bishop expresses his satis- 
faction at what has been done. Amis next takes his 
grey-coated pupil into the room, and places before him 
on the table a large book, quite new, but with no hay 
in it. The donkey, anxious for provender, begins dili- 
gently turning over the leaves as before; and not 
finding any thing, expresses his dissatisfaction by 
discordant braying. " See, Sir Bishop," says Amis, 
" he is beginning his alphabet. At present he has not 
got further than the first letter, which he has repeated 
with such emphasis in order to do you honour." This 
is one of the best-known tricks of the real Eulen- 
spiegel. What follows shows the position in which the 
laity of Germany stood in relation to the clergy in the 
middle of the thirteenth century, which is the date of 
the original story. 

Amis visits a rich and foolish farmer's wife, whose 
husband is from home. To her he pretends to be an 
exceedingly pious individual, and she is quite delighted 
at the idea of having so much godliness under her 
roof At his request the household cock is killed 
and roasted. This Amis eats clean up, all but the 
bones, promising that before cock-crow next morn- 
ing she shall be rewarded two-fold, both temporally 
and eternally, for the sacrifice. The rogue had pre- 
viously purchased a cock the fac-simile of the victim. 
This he lets slip at dawn, and it immediately begins to 


crow. " Behold thy cock again," he says. " The sign 
has been vouchsafed. Thou art sure of eternal salva- 
tion." All which the good housewife religiously be- 
lieves. He then celebrates mass with thirty tapers 
around him, and gives indulgences for all sins, past, 
present, and to come. Before his departure, at the 
lady's earnest entreaty, he accepts as a present a bale 
of white linen, 100 ells long. But hardly has he 
departed, when the husband comes home, and learns 
what a fool his wife has been making of herself. " By 
Heaven, I'E make him disgorge the cloth," he cries, 
and starts off in hot pursuit. Amis espies him on his 
track, and nimbly inserts a piece of burning tinder in 
the folds of the bale. Pale with rage, the rider charges 
at him with these words : " Villain and cheat, out with 
the cloth." With admirable humility. Amis suppli- 
cates him not to visit on his head his wife's act of piety. 
" She had forced it upon him ; there was the cloth ; he 
had no wish to retain it." After administering a sound 
drubbing to his reverence, the good man makes off in 
high spirits at the recovery of his property. By and 
by he observes a smell of burning. The cloth begins to 
smoke. The rider unwraps it ; when lo ! it is all in a 
blaze. Conscience-stricken, the man at once perceives 
that this is a punishment from Heaven upon him, for 
taking away what had been given to God. Frightened 
out of his wits, he leaves the cloth burning on the 
grass, and starts helter-skelter after the priest, whom 
he begs for mercy's sake to pardon hipa, and he will 
repay him double. Upon these terms the cunning 
sharper expresses himself satisfied. The neighbours. 


too, pay him pretty stiffly to be remembered in his 
prayers ; and the good priest, who had been favoured 
with such a signal manifestation from Heaven, becomes 
thoroughly appeased. "Toffel im Paradiese," dating 
from the fifteenth century, is evidently another version 
of this story.* 

We shall now pass on to consider the Animal-sagas. 
It has already been shown that the Saga of " Eeitihart 
the Fox and Isengrim the Wolf" was taken by the 
Franks over the Rhine.f 

The root of this Saga lies in the harmless natural 
simplicity of a primseval people. We see described 
the delight which the rude child of nature takes 
in the animals, — in their slim forms, their gleaming 
eyes, their fierceness, nimbleness, and cunning. Such 
Sagas, illustrative of the ways and doings of the beasts, 
would naturally have their origin in an age when the 
ideas of the shepherd, and the hunter occupied a great 
portion of the intellectual horizon of the people ; when 
the herdsman saw in the ravenous bear one who was 
his equal, and more than his equal, in force and adroit- 
ness, the champion of the woods and wilds ; when the 
hunter, in his lonely ramble through the depths of the 

* A joke, related in most of the German "Joe Millers" of the 
sixteenth century, and also elaborated by Hans Sachs. The -ffidow of 
a peasant fancies a student arrived from Paris is come from Paradise, 
and gives him some presents for her husband there. See also " Jugend- 
zeitung," 1808, No. 143. 

t The only satisfactory account of the character of the " Thiersage " 
is given by Jacob Grimm in his introduction to "Keinhart Fuohs," 


forest, beheld in the hoary wolf and red fox, as they 
stole along, hunters like himself, — mates, so to say, and 
companions, and whom he therefore addressed as such. 
But there was another reason why herdsman and 
hunter wished to be on a good footing with these deni- 
zens of the solitudes. It was not so much the physical 
violence of these beasts that they dreaded, as the in- 
visible demon within them : that demon which glared 
out so terribly from the eyes of the wolf, and exercised 
such a supernatural power. So that these animals 
came to be looked on as an incorporation of the dark 
powers of nature. Hence it was that the herdsman 
would call the wolf by any name but its own. The 
wolf was gold-foot, the fox blue-foot. In Hessia the 
wolf was called Holzing, i. e., the creature of the wood, 
while in other parts of Germany his name was disguised 
under wul or wulch, instead of plain wolf.* 

So that originally this kind of poetry was the ex- 
ponent of a peculiar sort of feeling prevailing among 
the people, and had nothing whatever to do with the 
didactic or satiric; although at a later period satiric 
allusions began to be interwoven with it. 

At first the personages were the beasts of the Ger- 
man forest : the wolf, the fox, with the bear as king, 
though subsequently the lion took his place ; and this 
fact indicates that the Animal-saga was indigenous to 
Germany ; or, more properly, it may be said to belong 
to the Franks. For, apparently, the Anglo-Saxons and 
Scandinavians knew as little of it as did the Celts. Its 

* So the Norwegians call this animal Graabeen, grey-legs. — Editor. 



home was the centre of "Western Germany, the North 
of France, with Flanders (where the soft-toned Pro- 
ven9al dialect yielded to the German), and, later, 
Northern Germany. At no period did the Animal-saga 
penetrate to the South of France. 

The names, too, as has been briefly indicated before, 
are German. The epic name of the wolf is Isangrim, 
i. e., eisengrimmig (iron-grim), indicating the sharpness 
of the wolfs bite. The fox is called Keginhart, i. e., 
the prudent counsellor. The bear is Bruno, the brown. 
All of them appellations bestowed likewise on mankind, 
and thus raising these animals to something much 
above mere beasts in the abstract. 

Subsequently, when the Saga came back again to 
Germany from France, some of the secondary per- 
sonages retained their French name^ e. ff. the cock, 
which is called ChantecMr (in Reineke Vos, Can- 
tard). This is also the case with the lion (noble), 
after he was promoted to be king of the beasts in- 
stead of the bear. This exchange of kings is due 
to French influence. In Fromund of Tegemsee's 
poem (about 990), the bear is still king. But in the 
middle of the twelfth century, when the Saga had re- 
turned from France, the lion was on the throne. The 
ass always kept his original name Baldewin (hence the 
present French name Baudet for that animal), which 
means jolly, unconcerned how the world wags, provided 
he may enjoy his thistle in quiet. The she-wolf is 
Herisuintha (corrupted into Hersant in the French), 
i. e. strong and quick as the host of fighting men. These 
Animal-sagas are localised, for instance, in Flanders, at 
Arras; in Germany, on the Rhine ; in the same way as 


tte Nibelung-saga was also localised. In the allego- 
rical and satirical poems, this localisation is evidently 
sought on purpose ; but in the original Animal-saga it 
is, so to say, quite unintentional and by chance. Lastly, 
we must not omit to specify the quiet simplicity of the 
narrative, without any ornament or design. And then 
it will not be too much to say, that we have here an 
epic based, no less than the heroic epic, on the truth of 
nature, — an epic which found a thousand responsive 
chords in the bosom of the people, and was handed 
down carefully from father to son for many generations. 

In the same way that the heroic epic grew gradually 
out of a number of heroic tales and war-songs, mixed 
up with accounts of mythic deities ; so the animal-epic 
of Germany must have been formed by degrees out 
of tales of the chase, poetically blended with pieces of 
animal mythology. 

After circulating in the mouths of the people fof 
many centuries, it was first committed to writing in 
the Netherlands. The earliest specimen was written in 
Latin, under the title of " Isengrimus," by one Magister 
Nivardus of South Flanders, at the beginning of the 
twelfth or end of the eleventh century. Here there 
are only two wolf-stories, one showing how the sick 
lion was cured by the hide of Isengrim ; another con" 
cerning the pilgrimage of the chamois who had been 
waylaid by Isengrim. The second work on the subject 
is also in Latin. It appeared in North Flanders about 
fifty years later than the first, under the title of " Eei- 
nardus." Besides the above two tales, it contains ten 
more. Satirical allusions to the Pope and ecclesiastical 


shown to the Cistercians and their founder St. Bernard; 
so that the author must have been a Benedictine, 

About the middle of the twelfth century, that is, 
at the period when " Reinardus " appeared in Flanders, 
the Animal-saga went through the same process as the 
Carlovingian Epic. After springing up in Germany it 
passed over to France, and then back again to the place 
of its birth ; only, that the subject-matter was retained 
much more tenaciously than in the case of the Carlovin- 
gian Epos, there being nothing foreign in it but the 
names already mentioned. 

The author of this new German version of the Saga 
after the French was one Heinrich der Glichesare, as 
he called himself, of Alsace. It appeared in the middle 
of the twelfth century, and contains ten tales about the 
fox and the wolf, written in the severe style of that 
century. About fifty, or at the most sixty, years 
later, this poem, "Reinhart Fuchs," was re-written 
in the purer German that had prevailed since Velde- 
kin's time ; but, beyond this, it was little altered. The 
author's name is not mentioned. Both these poems are 
in short rhymed couplets, the usual form of narrative 
poetry. The latter came to light again about 1816. 
The former, that by Glichesare, was considered lost, 
until a few years ago, when a third of it was discovered 
written on some parchment book-covers at Melsungen, 
in Hessia.* After this period, there appeared a number 
of French versions, which contained as many as twenty- 
eeven stories. 

* J. Grimm, " Sendschreiben an Karl Lachmann iiber Beinliart 
Fuchs," 1840. 


In 1250 a Dutch version appeared by one Willem 
(commonly called de Matoc), which work was con- 
tinued, but in a very inferior style, by an anonymous 
writer in the middle of the fourteenth century. 

At the end of the fifteenth century, "WUlem's " Rei- 
naert," which had been divided into books, was trans- 
lated by one Nikolaus Baumann, a Westphalian, living 
at Liibeck, into Low-German under the title of " Rei- 
neke Vos." The original High-German version, and 
even the name " Eeinhart," have been superseded in con- 
sequence. In this Dutch version the satirical parts are 
stronger than in the old High-German version of the 
Saga. Hence, in the sixteenth century, a period which 
was especially prone to satire, the false notion got 
abroad that the whole piece was intended for a satire ,; 
that it was a speculum vita aulicce (mirror of court-life); 
and it was actually translated into Latin. Of the ori- 
ginal impression of the poem, which appeared in 1498, 
only one copy is extant; another edition appeared in 
1711, by Hackman; and a third in 1834, by Hoffmann 
von Fallersleben, with a good glossary attached. 
Among many versions from the Latin, one was by 
Gottsched, who was but ill fitted for such a work, 
and another by Goethe. This last, as J. Grimm 
observes, is not natural enough and simple enough to 
give us a correct idea of the genuine Animal-saga.* 

* The idea of the Brothers Grimm upon the whole amounts to this: 
that the sesopic or didactic animal fahle is a corruption of the " Thier- 
sage." The shaping of the fable to suit the epimythia (moral) is 
destructive to its poetic simplicity. Gervinus on the other hand con- 
siders the fables of ^sop and the German animal fable as entirely 
independent of each .other. 


As in the heroic Epos, there are certain poetas 
which are isolated altogether from the main stream, 
such as " Ecken Ausfart;" and others, like " Hornerne 
Sigfried," which, though blended with the main current 
of heroic song, also exist in an independent form. 
So it is with animal Epic. And out of these isolated 
poems seems to have arisen Animal Fable. 

In the thirteenth century, fable was called blspel, i. e. 
beispiel, example. Epic, on the other hand, was de- 
signated as maere ; and this is the term used of the 
" Eeinhart Fuchs," showing that it was in reality an 
epic narrative, and not a fable. 

Of this fable, then, — in which animals appear, and 
which is totally distinct from the animal Epic, — there 
were three writers who lived in the best days of Ger- 
man poetry. The Strieker above mentioned, the 
author of a version of the " Rolands-lied," of " Priest 
Amis," and other short tales; — Boner, the Swiss, 
and Gerhart von Minden, which last lived a little 
later, viz., in the middle of the fourteenth century. 
All of them narrate in a simple and agreeable tone ; 
the Strieker especially. His collection of fables is 
called "Die Welt," (the world); where the expe- 
riences of daily life are illustrated by examples from 
animate and inanimate nature.* Boner's ninety-nine or 
one hundred fables were written about the year 1300. 
He borrows a good deal from JEsop. The title of his 
work, which is perhaps the oldest German printed 
book (1461, at Bamberg), was " Edelstein ;" and it con- 

* The original collection of Strieker's fables is hardly now extant ; 
many of them have been printed, e, g. in the Brothers Grimm's " Alt- 
deutsche Walder." 


tinued to be a favourite with the public for two hun- 
dred years.* Grerhart also follows ^sop. His work 
was only lately discovered.! These three are the 
models for the fable-writers of the sixteenth century, 
Erasmus Alberus and Burkhard Waldis, who in their 
turn were imitated by Hagedorn, Gellert, Lichtwer, 
Zacharia, Lessing (partly), down to Frolioh, the fable- 
writer of our time. 

We now pass from didactic fable to didactic poetry, 
properly so called. Maxims of worldly wisdom, descrip- 
tions of the customs, circumstances, and ideas of that 
day; warnings against evil ; exhortations to chastity and 
honour ; such are its topics. As early as the twelfth 
century there were writers in this line. There is still 
extant a piece by one Heinrich, an Austrian poet, 
written before the year 1163. It is in two parts; the 
first is entitled " Vom gemeinen Leben," i. e., Con- 
cerning common Life ; the second, " Von des Todes 
Gehiigede," i. e., Thoughts upon Death. The diction is 
good, and the style earnest and impressive.^ Another 
collection of maxims, entitled " Besoheidenheit des 
Freidank," is well known. It was written in May 

* Boner's "Edelstem" was published, 1757, by Bodmer ("Fabela 
aus der Zeit de Minnesinger"); 1816, by Benecke; and last, 1844, by 
Franz Pfeiffer. 

t ." Gerhart von Minden " belongs properly to the following period, 
as he wrote his fables in 1370. They are 102 in number. Of these, 
twenty-one, together with the titles of the others, have been published 
by the discoverer, F. Wiggert, Magdeburg, 1836, in the work called 
"Zweites Scherflein zur Forderung der Kenntniss deutscher Mundarten 
und Schriften.'' 

I Heinrich's poem is printed in Massmann's " Deutsche Gedichte des 
12 Jahrh." ii. p. 343, with which compare the supplement by J, Grimm, 
in the " Gott. gel. Anzeiger," 1838, No. 56. 


1229. Under the term " Bescheidenheit " (modesty) 
was anciently comprehended the power of possessing 
a due amount of world-wisdom and probity combined. 
The name "Freldank" Is, perhaps, a fictitious one. 
Grimm conjectures the real author to have been 
Walther von der Vogelwelde, the first lyric poet 
of his day* The work consists, for the most part, 
of popular sayings, such as were then in vogue, and 
even now, after a space of sis hundred years, still 
continue to be so. They are put together with much 
skill ; and the language is all the more impressive for 
being simple and homely. The other portion of the 
book contains the reflections of one well versed in the 
highest and lowest grades of ecclesiastical life, as well 
as In political and social affairs, upon the faults of the 
age. His censures are grave and earnest, but free from 
all malice and bitterness. He describes a chattering 
tongue as being boneless itself, but breaking stone and 
bone ; separating friends, disgusting lovers with love. 
Court-fashion, as compelling a short man to walk upon 
tip-toe. Deceit and lying as more welcome at court 
than the children of princes, and agreeable to all Lords, 
but the Lord of all. He gives us maxims about money, 
that notable salve, than can soften the most obstinate 
disposition. "We then have observations on B,ome, and 
the ecclesiastical government there ; and on the Cru- 
sades, In which the author himself bore a part under 
the Emperor Frederick the Second. At one time, he 

* " Vridankes Bescheidenheit," von W. Grimm, 1834. J. Grimm 
has advanced strong reasons against the identity of- Walther von der 
Vogelweide and Freidank in "Gedichte dcs Mittelalters auf Konig 
Friedrich I.," 1844, p. 8. 


enlivens us witli a vein of pleasantry ; at another, his 
talk is of solemn subjects — God and eternity, anti- 
christ and the last day. But whatever the topic, there 
is a genuine, a natural, and healthy tone throughout. 
There is nothing forced or artificial, nothing superfluous 
or wearisome ; so pithy and rapid is the whole, that it 
is more like action than description. Very soon after 
this poem was written, it rose into universal estimation. 
As early as 1260, poets quoted Freidank and his wise 
sayings. It seemed as if he had been the first to give 
expression to that which was already in the hearts and 
mouths of thousands. He was one of the few ancient 
writers that lived in the grateful recollection of the 
people down to the seventeenth century, when all that 
was good sank into oblivion. His work was called a 
secular Bible, and it still may serve as a vade mecum, 
full of pleasure and profit. 

Tomasin von Zirklaere, a native of Friule, who was 
originally unacquainted with the German language, 
wrote a poem entitled the ""Welsche Gast," about 
1216. This work likewise deserves favourable mention, 
on account of its tone and style ; but it has neither the 
freshness nor the popular air of Freidank's " Beschei- 

In the year 1300 a similar work appeared by one 
Hugo von Trimberg, a schoolmaster of Theuerstadt, a 
suburb of Bamberg. It was entitled " Renner." But 
it is inferior in most respects to Freidank's poem. At 
times it is unnecessarily spun out; long-winded re- 

* On Tomasin's family name, se'rHaupt's " Zeitschrift," v. 241. His 
work was published by Euckert, 1852. 



flections and stories being Introduced to illustrate the 
maxims. Besides which no little erudition is super- 
added, a thing unknown to Freidank. The strange 
title Renner, i. e. runner, indicates that it is meant to 
run through all lands and disseminate wisdom. In fact, 
it did become very widely circulated down to the six- 
teenth century. Hugo's first work, which he lost, was 
called the " Samler," collector.* 

Besides these we may mention "King Tyrol von 
Schotten's advice to his son Friedebrant ;"t and a 
similar work entitled " Winsbeke ;" also a mother's 
advice to her daughter, " Winsbekin."| These poems 
are not in an epic but a lyric shape. 

In addition to these there are several lyric didactic 
poems of the thirteenth century. 

"We thus arrive at the strictly lyrical or Minne poetry 
of this epoch, the manifold productions in which can 
only be briefly described. 

Ancient heroic poetry, which sings the deeds of a 

* The " Eenner" was printed in 1549, after a version of Seb. Brant's. 
The Historical Society of Bamherg published another, but not good, 
edition, 1833-34. 

f "Konig Tyrol und sein Sohn Friedebrant" were originally subjects 
of an epic poem, of which only fragments surrire ; see J. Grimm, in 
Haupt's " Zeitschrift," L p. 7. The didactic poem of " King Tyrol and 
his son Friedebrant" is in Schiller's "Thesaurus" (vol. ii.), and in 
Hagen's " Minneanger," ii. 248. 

% " Der Winsbeke und die Winsbekin" — poems which certainly did 
not originally belong to each other — are printed in Beneoke's "Beitrage," 
ii. 455, and in Hagen's " Neues Jahrbuch,'' ii. 182. A special edition 
came out by M. Haupt in 1845. Add to these didactic poems the col- 
lection made by Sigfrid Helbing, an Austrian knight, about 1295-1298. 
It is a very useful contribution to the History of Manners, and is edited, 
with notes, by Karajan, in Haupt's " Zeitschrift," iv. 1-284. 


whole people out of the mouth of a whole people, is 
always succeeded by a poetry, which is the expression, 
not of a nation's feelings, but of the feelings of an 
individual;* a poetry which does not describe deeds but 
sensations and feelings, the joys and sorrows of an 
individual heart. 

If these feelings are such as have moved the hearts 
of all, though they are described by one, then we have 
the popular lay (Volkslied). If they are the exclusive 
experience of a single person, then we have art-lyric or 
Minne-poetry, which was so universally cultivated in 
the spring-time of German song. Minne, as being the 
main subject of this sort of poetry, has given its name 
to it. It signifies the silent longing thought on the 
beloved one, sweet reminiscenses of her, whose name 
the lover does not venture to pronounce. There is 
nothing of impurity about it ; it is tender and profound, 
and essentially German. 

One chief charm of this kind of poetry is its youth- 
ful simplicity and diffidence. When the maiden's gaze 
meets that of the lover, he casts his eyes down to 
the ground abashed. One friendly glance from the 
sweet face of his fair enslaver, and he is satisfied. It 
is only when the boys and girls meet in the merry 
Maytide, and foot it under the linden trees, that thb 
bashful dreamer takes courage and joins his loved one 
in the dance. Her name we never find mentioned in 
all the numerous productions of the Minnesingers; 
although there can be no doubt that in each of these 
the heroine is not an imaginary, but a real personage. 

* Grimm,"Alt-Deutscher Meistergesang," p. 141. 
K 2 


Nay, the singer himself avoids coming too prominently 
before his readers. Thus Walther von der Vogelweide 
only covertly alludes to himself, by mentioning the 
lady Hildegund : this latter name calling to mind the 
well-known popular epic of Walther of Wasichenstein 
and Hildegund. The joys of Spring, and gladness of 
Summer; Autumn-sadness, and Winter-lament, which 
aptly mirror forth the vicissitudes in the singer's 
feelings, frequently form the commencement of his 
strain. This sympathy with the ever-changing scenes 
of nature, which is another mark of the juvenile 
emotions of Minne-poetry, has incurred the ridicule of 
the modems. But it is totally distinct from the morbid 
sentimentality and affected love of nature of some of 
the poems of the last century which have been so 
admirably described in Werther. 

Again, the tenderness and purity of woman's mind, 
and the devotedness of her affection, are touchingly and 
truly painted by these poets. Indeed, the very exis- 
tence of this species of poetry is clearly attributable 
to the ennobling and soothing influence — we may add 
the poetic influence — which she exercised on the 
sterner sex. She formed, as it were, the ideal side of 
society. The homage which ever since that time has 
been paid by the Western nations of Christendom to the 
fair sex, then amounted to something like adoration ; a 
feeling which had its origin alike in the courtly ob- 
servances and strict notions of chivalry, and in the holy 
influences of Christianity. Never was the poet more 
under the inspiration of woman than in the last half of 
the twelfth and beginning of the thirteenth century. 


Of fickleness, inconstancy, jealousy, broken vows, 
Minne poetry knows nothing. Here, woman is hope- 
ful and unalterably true ; for she cannot be otherwise. 
To sum up all, Minne poetry may be pronounced an 
essentially feminine poetry. 

Not so the poetry of the Troubadours, which was in 
a great measure its contemporary. That may be 
called an essentially masculine poetry ; the poetry of a 
southern people, restless and ardent. Inconstancy, 
jealousy, separation, reconciliation amid doubts and 
reproaches, in short, all the vagaries of vehement, reck- 
less passion, such are its features in contradistinction 
to the gentleness, the hopeful yearning, the modesty 
and reserve, of Minne-poetry. From this it is clear 
that the latter could never have been borrowed from 
the former. Minne-poetry is not Komantic, but en- 
tirely German. It is just possible that Germany 
caught the general inspiration for this sort of poetry 
from France : but this is all that can be aflSrmed.* 

Another prominent feature of this poetry is its rich 
melodiousness. It was meant, not to be read, but 
sung ; sung to the sound of the zither or violin, for the 
most part by the poet himself; sometimes in the circle 

* The only instance of a German minnesinger borrowing features 
from the Romance poetry of the Trouhadonrs is Eudolf, Corait of Neuen- 
hurg. In the Weingarten MS. he is called Count of Fenis: to judge 
from which name, and his birth-place, Neufehatel, he was himself half 
Romance. Bodmer, in 1 7 63, showed that some of his strophes are imitated 
from the Prench singer, Folqnet, of Marseilles. But this imitation does 
not go beyond a few individual pictures ; as a whole, the German is 
widely different from the Romance original. SeeHagen's "Minnesinger," 
iv. p. 50. Wackemagel's •' Alt-franzoslsche Lieder und Leiche," 1846, 
p. 193. 

TC 3 


of gentle ladies, among whom was the object of his 
passion; sometimes to the merry movement of the 
dance. So that all this poetry, in its copious ringing 
language, in its delicate* intertwining of rhymes, in 
its lines of different lengths, in its abrupt pauses, and 
so forth, is from first to last nothing but music. 

The Strophe is composed of two equal parts, fol- 
lowed and wound up by another of different length. 
The two former are called Stollen, the latter one 
Ahgesang, — a threefold division of the strophe, which 
has been preserved to the present day. On the other 
hand, the number of lines, their length, and the arrange- 
ment of the rhymes, vary in almost every poem accord- 
ing to the will of the poets. Besides this tripartite strophe 
form, there was another form, which adapted itself 
entirely to the music ; whereas in that just mentioned 
the music was adapted to the rhyme. This was the 
Leich, originally an ecclesiastical form of poem derived 
from the long-drawn modulations of the last syllable of 
Hallelujah, and hence, as used by the Church, called 
Sequenz. At the end of the twelfth century it was 
also employed for secular poems ; and it is one of the 
most fascinating and lively, as well as most unfettered 
forms of Minne-poetry. The melody of the Italian 
language and poetry are often praised ; but there is, 
perhaps, nothing more musical and melodious in the 
whole field of poetry than those strains which Heinrich 
von Risbach, Heinrich von Ofterdingen, Wolfram von 
Eschenbach, and Walther von der Vogelweide, sang 
on the Wartburg at the beginning of the thirteenth 


Worldly love, however, is not the exclusive theme of 
the Minnesanger poetry. Impassioned strains of hea- 
venly Minne, praises of the Virgin, fervid eulogies of 
the Crusades, pious reflections on the wisdom and works 
of the Creator, are also to be found in their productions. 
Some of them go a step further, and sing in earnest 
tones of the Emperor and his vassals, of the Pope, the 
Church, and the clergy, the customs and course of 
the age, and the vanity of sublunary things. And thus, 
in fact, they pass over into the domain of didactic 
poetry; specimens of which have been mentioned 
above in " King Tyrol," " Winsbeke," and " Winsbekin." 
Hence the poetry, as well as the life, of the knightly 
minstrels of the thirteenth century has been divided 
into Frauendienst, Herrendienst, and Gottesdienst, i. e. 
service to the ladies, to their masters, and to God. 

By far the greatest part of these poets were of 
knightly rank. Their art was a courtly one, and they 
exercised it amid the higher circles, and under the roofs 
of princes and nobles. The people, on the contrary, 
took but little interest in it ; what they loved most to 
hear were the old heroic songs, sung by blind strol- 
ling minstrels. In one respect, however, popular and 
Minne poetry were alike, they were neither of them 
committed to writing, but sung from memory, and 
handed down by oral tradition. Most of the minne- 
singers, even Wolfram von Eschenbach himself, could 
neither read nor write. Ulrich von Lichtenstein had 
to carry a billet-doux for weeks in his pocket before he 
could meet with somebody to decipher it. Many of 
these poets had a lad in their service (singerlein), to 

K 4 


whom they taught their pieces, and who at times went 
and sang them to the knight's lady-love. It was not 
till this art was on the wane that the verses of some of 
the singers were collected and written down. The best 
of these collections was made at Zurich, and was known 
under the name of the " Manessian MS." From thence 
it went to Heidelberg, and is now in the Library at 
Paris. It is full of beautiful miniatures of the knightly 
pQpts, together with the escutcheons of each. There is 
another collection of older date, which formerly be- 
longed to the Monastery of Weingarten, and is now at 
Stuttgard. A third, called the " Heidelberg MS.," is 
likewise more ancient. Both of these have lately been 
printed, the former with its illustrations entire. 

From a survey of the above collections, which manir 
festly contain only the best songs, and those which were 
most generally known, we may form some idea of the 
vast number of knightly singers [Herren) in those days. 
It is also evident that besides these there were, at a com- 
paratively early period, Mdster, people of the burgher 
classes, who followed the art. Among them we even 
meet with a Jew, Siisskind by name. The art would 
doubtless be subject to certain rules, and this would 
prepare the way for the Meistergesang of the following 

Of the 160 Minnesingers, of whose songs specimens 
survive, we shaU here briefly allude to a few.* 

* The first edition of the " Minnesingers " -was undertaken by Bodmer 
and Breitinger, after the Paris MS., in 1758-59. " Sammlung von 
Minnesingem aus dem Schwabischen Zeitpuncte CXL. Dichter enthal- 
tend; durch Ruedger Manessen, -weiland des Eathes der nralten Zyrich." 


With Heinrich von Veldekin, in the year 1184^ not 
only knightly poetry generally, but Minne poetry also, 
reached its palmiest days. Contemporary with him — 
possibly even a little before him — were Von Kiirenberg, 
Dietmar von Eist, and some others. These sang in a 
simpler strain, and for the most part in the Nibelungen- 
strophe ; at times also in short minne-sentences, of one 
or two strophes. There is a firm and heroic carriage 
about their poetry, which makes the delicate and re- 
fined touches here and there interspersed all the more 
attractive. The falcon, with which the " Nibelungen- 
lied" opens, is a favourite image of theirs. Thus 
Kiirenberg makes his lady-love sing — 

" I brought up a falcon for longer than a year ; 
When I had tamed him just as I would, 
And circled his plumage with gold, 
Then he rose up aloft, and flew to other lands 
Since then I haye seen him fly all hrilUant and fair ; 
He bears on his foot silken thongs, 
And his feathers gleam all red like gold. 
God bring those together that fain would pair." 

So Dietmar von Eist's love stands alone by the heath, 
and awaits her lover, when she espies a falcon on the 
wing, and sings: 

" Good luck to thee, falcon, thou'rt off to thy love •, 
Thou hast chosen one tree in the wood, 
And so I have done ; my eyes chose one, 

2 vols. 4. Supplement in Benecke's " Beitrage." In 1840 appeared von 
der Hagen's " Minnesinger des 12, 13, 14 Jahrhunderts," &c., 3 vols. 4. 
The last of which contains the biography of each poet. This laborious 
and comprehensive work is deficient in criticism. The Weingartner 
MS. was printed in 1843, and the Heidelberg MS. in 1844, both at thq 
expense of the Literary Society at Stuttgart, 



And for this they me envy, the beauteous dames j 
Can't they leave me alone mth my joy ? 
I don't long for any of their lovers." 

Another time Kurenberg'^ love hears a voice singing, 

as she stands late one evening on the battlements. She 

cries, — 

" That's the lay of the man who hence must go, 
Or I can no longer resist him." 

He answers : — 

" NoTV bHng me my steed, and bring me my mail, 
1 must out of the land for a lady's sake, 
Who'll force me to adore her." 

But the world must know nought of this, and he con- 
tinues : — 

" The even-star hides, and so do thou, 
Fair lady, -when thou dost behold me: 
Turn thine eyes on another. 
That none may know 
What's passed between us two," 

Another poet is Friederich von Hausen*, a brave and 
valiant knight from the Rhine, who is so lost in the 
sweet remembrance of his love that he wished people 
"Grood morning " when it was night. He told his love 
how she alone had taken his heart captive, but she 
won't believe him, until at last he took the cross and 
started for Palestine with Frederick the Ked-beard. 
Hereupon she calls him her iEneas, in allusion to Vel- 
dekin's JEneis, which in those days was the mirror of 

* His " Minnelieder " are to be found in Hagen's " Minnesinger," 
i. 212. Concerning his life and death, see lachmann, " Zum Iwein," 
4431, second edition, p. 317j Haupt, " Die Lieder und Buchlein," p. xvLj 
Hagen, "Minnesinger," iv. 150. 


Minne all over Germany, but at the same time assures 
him she will never he his Dido. Having fastened the 
sacred emblem to his breast, the knight sings :— 

"Body and heart desire to part, 
That lived so long a time together ; 
My body would fain agamst Pagans flght, 
But my heart loves a lady more than aught in the world. 
!Pull sad am I that thus they'll sever. 
Her eyes have the mischief done, 
And God alone can the strife decide. 
Since I can't quiet thee, my heart. 
Nor still thine inward sorrow. 
In God will I put my trust 

I thought when I took the cross for the honour of God 
That I should get rid of my pain ; 
But my heart cares little what wiU become of me. 
How oft have I begg'd and pray'd her. 
But she would not imderstand. 
Transient her vows as the summer brief 
Of my joys, that I spent in Treves." 

And so the knight leaves her, whom he had besought 
in vain, but sends her many a warm greeting from be- 
yond the sea. Sometimes he thinks of what he would 
say if he was near her, and this shortens the tedium of 
his journey. It was sad at home, but here it is three 
times more so, but he consoles himself with the thought 
that perhaps she will have a friendly recollection of 
him, " for he of all men was her most devoted admirer." 
In the MS. we have a miniature of the singer, standing 
on ship-board, and casting a leaf into the sea for the 
rolling waves to carry to the distant home of his love, 
the home of his heart. Triederich von Hansen never 
returned. After a valiant fight and glorious victory, 
he fell nobly before the walls of Philomelium, in Asia 

E 6 


Minor, not many days before his master, the Emperor, 
on the Monday after Ascension 1190, lamented by the 
whole army. 

Another of these poets was one Spervogel, whose 
religious pieces at times verge on the sublime : — 

" ' The herbs of the wood,' he sings, ' and the golden ore, 
And the depths of the world are known to God ; 
They are all in Thine hand, and the heavenly Hosts 
Can never sufficiently praise Thee.' " 

Again — 

" He is mighty and strong, who was horn at Christmas tide, 
Jesus the Holy, the theme of universal praise. 
They that in darkness dwell. 
And praise not Jesus, the Saviour, 
On them the sun does not shine. 
Nor the moon, nor the radiant stars. 
In Heaven's a house, and a golden way leads thereto ; 
It rests upon marble pillars, and shines with precious stones. 
None may enter in but such as are free from sin." 

But many of these old writers of sacred poetry in- 
dulged in lighter effusions. Thus, Wemher von Te- 
gernsee, the author of a life of the Virgin, could write 
in this strain : — 

" Thou art mine, and I am thine ; be of this assured ; 
Locked up art thou in my heart, and the key is lost ; 
Ever must thou there remain." 

liines which we should be inclined rather to attribute 
to a Tyrolese minstrel of our time than to a grave 
monk of the year 1173. 

Gottfried von Strassburg wrote a beautiful hymn, 
ninety-four strophes long, in honour of the Virgin, 
which begins thus : — " Thou rose-blossom, thou lily- 


leaf, thou Queen of lofty estate, such as none hath 
reached but thou ; thou hearts-ease for every pain, thou 
joy in sorrow, to thee be sung praise and honour."* 

There are likewise some remarkably pretty songs by 
"Wolfram von Eschenbach, where the watchman on the 
battlements announces the coming day, and warns the 
lovers that it is time to separate. This form of poem 
(Wachterlied) soon became very popular, and was con- 
verted into a spiritual song. The latest of these sacred 
songs is the well-known one by Philip Nicolai, " Wake 
up, cries the voice." In like manner, Hartmann von 
der Aue is not only a narrative poet, but also one of 
the best of the Minnesingers. 

Walther von der Vogelweide, on the other hand, 
was purely a Minnesinger (unless he be the author of 
" Freidank "), and indeed one of the best of them, if 
not the very best. Some of his songs breathe nothing 
but gentleness and affection ; some are jocund beyond 
measure, while in others he sings, in deep and solemn 
tones, not only the praises of God and the Virgin, 
but also the transitoriness of worldly things, the 
honour of the German people, the duties and dig- 
nities of the Emperor, the obligations of his subjects, 
the rights of the Pope, and the grandeur of that true 
Church which does not strain after temporal power. 
In fact, he spoke out the truth with calm simplicity, 
giving expression to the sentiments of the noblest and 
best part of the German nation. "Walther's earliest 
productions date from about 1190, if not earlier. His 

* This panegyric is printed complete, and with critical care, in Haupt's 
" Zeitschrift," iv. 513-555. 


" MInnelleder " are of this period. On the death of the 
Emperor Heinrich VI., in 1197, he turned his atten- 
tion more to public matters. After this he was twice 
at the Thuringian Court, first in the time of the Land- 
grave Hermann, and secondly in that of the Landgrave 
Ludwig, the husband of St. Elizabeth. His last poems 
were most probably composed in the year 1228, when 
Frederick IL was preparing for his Crusade, in which 
expedition he must have been personally present, if he 
be the same person as the author of " Freidank." He 
must have been of an unusually vigorous and active 
frame, as at this period he was over sixty. 

Walther's poems have been admirably translated into 
modern German by Simrock, the editor of the " Nibe- 
lungen " and " Parcival," with explanations by Wacker- 
nagel. Uhland also wrote an excellent description of 
his poetry. The most celebrated of Walther's " Minne- 
lieder" is his " Praise of Women" (Lob der Frauen) : 

" Durchsusset und gebliimet sind die reinen Ftanen ; 
Es gab niemals so wonniglicbes anznsehaaen. 
In Lnften nocli anf Erden noch in allengriinen Auen. 
Lilien und der Kosen Blnmen, wo die leuchten 
Im Maienthaue durch das Gras, und kleiner "Vogel Sang, 
Sind gegen diesfe Wonne ohne Farb und Klang, 
So man sieht schone Frauen. 
Das kann den triiben Mut erquicken, 
Und loschet alles Trauern an derselbe Stand, 
Wenn lieblioh lacht in Lieb ihr siisser rother Mund, 
Und Pfeir aus spiel'nden Angen schiessenins Mannes Herzens Grund." 

Througbly sweet and blooming are the pure women ; 

Never was there aught so enchanting to behold, 

In the air or on the earth or in the verdant meadows. 

The lilies and the roses, when they gleam 

With May-dew through the grass ; the song of tiny birds, 


Are, compared with this delight, reft of sound and colour, 
Provided that we see beauteous ■women. 
This can the gloomy mood hoth quicken, 
And extinguish sadness j the selfsame hour 
When their sweet red mouth so loving smiles, 
And shafts from their playful eyes pierce into the bottom of man's 

Not less renowned is one of his political poems : 

" leh sass auf einem Steine," 

Here, after passing a sharp censure on the contest 
for the imperial throne, and the political intrigues of 
the Court of Rome, he complains, in tones of deep 
sadness, of the transitoriness of all that had contri- 
buted to render his own life dear to him and happy. 

" O weh, wohin geschwunden sind alle meine Jahr,'" 


Walther died at Wurzburg, and lies buried under a 
tree in the Minster Garden. He bequeathed a sum to 
purchase bread for his friends the birds; and for a 
number of years they were regularly fed upon his 
grave-stone, where he had caused four holes to be made 
for the purpose. At last, in the fifteenth century, the 
greedy monks appropriated the dole to themselves. 
But it was only in modern times that the tomb was 

* Walther's poems have been twice published^ with explanation by 
Lachmann, viz. in 1827 and 1843 (third edition superintended by Haupt, 
1853). Compare Uhland, "Walther von der Vogelweide," 1821, and 
" Gedichte Walthers, &o., iibersetzt von K. Simrock und Wilhelm 
Wackemagel, 1833." See Walther's Life, in Hagen's "Minnesinger,*' 
iv. p. 160. One of the most important events in his life was discovered 
and cleared up by Karajan, in "Ueber zwei Gedichte Walthers," &c., 
Wien, 1851. 


Another Minnesinger was Ulrich von Liechtensteinj 
the ancestor of the princely Austrian house of that 
name, who has left us a perfect account of his three- 
and-thirty years' experiences as a poet and knight. 
This work, entitled " Frauendienst " (Service of the 
Ladies), has been edited by Tieck, Here we see the 
transition of poetry into reality, — the mixing up of 
the pure ideal with the incidents of common life, — 
a realisation, in fact, of the poetry of Gottfried von 
Strasburg, — all which denotes the approaching decay 
of this sort of poetry. The whole is composed with 
much ndiveti and ease. Numerous love-songs are 
interspersed, not to mention love-letters (Biichlein), 
of which we have many specimens dating from that 
period, some by Hartmann. 

Whilst still a boy, Ulrich had heard sung that no- 
body could ever attain to honour unless he was ready 
to be the faithful servant of the fair sex, and loved as 
his own soul some good and virtuous damsel. This was 
a part of a true knight's duties. And such good heed 
did he take of this lesson, that on becoming, at the age 
of twelve (about 1211), the page of a noble lady (pro- 
bably a princess of Meran), he at once fell in love with 
his mistress. When he brought her flowers, he re^ 
joiced that her white fingers touched what had been 
touched by his own; nay, he would drink the water 
that had been poured over her delicate hands. After 
learning the knightly arts of tilting and tourney, he is 
dubbed a knight. One of his female friends, learning 
the secret of his passion, offers to mediate between 
the two. 


The princess listens to his addresses, but only in a 
Platonic sense. One of her objections to him is, that 
he has an ugly mouth — an objection not ill-founded, 
for he has three lips instead of two. On hearing this, 
he rides oiF to a doctor in Styria, who cuts off the 
swelling which bore the appearance of a third lip. He 
submits to the operation without flinching. On his 
recovery, the lady consents to an interview, but merely 
in order to see how his lip looks. The way in which 
he describes his own bashfalness, and how, when his 
heart bid him speak, his courage failed him, and how 
the lady, to punish him, plucks a lock of hair from his 
head just when he is helping her to dismount, are all 
told in the simplest and liveliest style imaginable. 

In one of the many encounters that he braved in 
honour of his mistress, the little finger of his right 
hand was left hanging by a bit of skin. The lady 
hearing that he had lost his finger in her service, 
expresses her sorrow for him. But being subsequently 
informed that the finger was still on his hand, she 
accuses him of falsehood. On this he gets a friend to 
cut off the digit in question, which had already begun 
to heal, and sends it to the princess in a case of green 
velvet with a lid of gold, accompanied by a love-letter. 
But the hopes of the fantastic knight are doomed to 
disappointment. The lady will have nothing to do 
with him. Upon this he dresses himself up as the 
Lady Minne or Venus, and with a quantity of atten- 
dants in costly attire parades through Austria, bringing 
together a vast concourse wherever he goes. For 
Lady Minne, as she was called, travelled about to 


prove the valour of the knights in the tournament, 
and distributed golden rings to all who broke a lance 
with her; which rings had the power of gaining and 
retaining a lady's love. All this took place solely in 
honour of a lady who was already married ; the poet 
himself being also, as he ingenuously informs us, in a 
similar predicament, and the father of a family of chil- 
dren. Here, then, we have a foreign Tristan or Lan- 
celot in German reality. But his love was no Isolde or 
Ginevra. The lady's pure mind and firm resolve were 
proof against his attacks. Pretending to listen to his 
suit, she admits him through the window of her cham- 
ber. But he is instantaneously pitched out again in 
a most ludicrous manner, rolling down the wall, with 
the loose stones rolling after him, and by his cries 
alarming the warders, who cross themselves, think- 
ing it is the foul fiend himself bundling out of the 
castle. This notable event took place in the night 
of the 14th of June 1227. The lover's ardour is by 
no means cooled by this reception. He becomes 
desperate, wants to drown himself, and begins singing 
and love-letter writing as much as ever. The lady* 
urges him to go to the Crusades and forget her ; but 
he is much too love-sick to make the attempt. For 
four years longer he continues to persecute her, until 
at last she serves him a trick more degrading than 
before ; so degrading, in fact, that he does not venture 
to narrate it. Cured at length of this folly, he com- 

* I'rau. This word, -which now signifies -woman, or -wife, then meant 
the adored mistress of the heart ; while -weib, or gemahel, -was the term 
for woman in her more prosaic relation of wife. 


mences writing doleful ditties and lampoons on faithless 
women. Presently, however, he selects another mis- 
tress, and to do her honour rides about the country 
with a magnificent retinue, in the character of King 
Artus. His attendants he names Gawein, Lanzelot, 
Iwein, Kalogreant, &c. And all this strange stuff is 
told us by a man of six-and-fifty, who narrates the 
pranks of twenty or thirty years ago as if he had only 
just played them. Whether he ever sobered down is 
very doubtful. Time enough he certainly had to do so, 
for he lived to the age of seventy-six.* At any rate, 
we learn from this poem what an influence the British 
romances, " Tristan " especially, must have had ; and it 
thus also becomes comprehensible how the word Minne, 
even so early as the fourteenth century, came to bear 
an impure signification ; and in the fifteenth was con- 
sidered too bad to pass the lips. At last, after three 
hundred years had passed away, it reappeared in its 
ancient purity and dignity. 

In the numerous poems of Sir Nithart we have 
another unpleasant side of the Minne-song, This poet, 
who was a Bavarian by birth, and whose tomb is still 
to be seen in the church of St. Stephen, at Vienna, 
lived about the same time as UlricL Like the rest of 
his brother poets, he begins with descriptions of nature, 
praises of spring and the flowers ; he then passes into 
praises of the fair ; but soon after most of his pieces 

* " Ulrich von Lichtenstein, mit Anmerkungen von T. von Karajan," 
ed. Lachmann, 1841. In Lachmann's edition is also Ulrich's "Frauen- 
buoh." Ulrich wrote the " Frauendienst," 1255; the " Frauenbnoh,'' 
1257. He was bom probably 1199 (1200), and died 1274 or 1276. See 
his life in Hagen, iv. p. 321. 


degenerate into descriptions of the peasant life of those 
days, and how they aped the knights in dress and 
armour. (The word dorper, applied by Nithart to 
these simple villagers, is the original of the modern 
Tolpel, clown.) Nithart's best descriptions are those 
of the peasant dances, and the horse-play they and he 
practised iipon each other. Instead, therefore of de- 
picting the gentle emotions and inward fancies of love, 
he descends more to vulgar realities, which become 
interesting by the happy humour with which he de- 
scribes them. The measure of these poems is uncom- 
monly lively, just suited to the bouncing dance and 
riotous mirth of a village festival. The descriptions 
are full of vigour, and at times approach the genuine 
popular tone, while words are used which the polished 
language of the day rejected as obsolete. Neverthe- 
less, Nithart's poetry was by no means intended for 
the masses, but rather for the edification of the higher 
circles at the expense of the peasants; in short, he 
forms the link connecting the courtly Minne-song with 
comedy and popular poetry. For centuries his works 
were famous, and were printed tiU late in the sixteenth 
century. His pranks among the peasants elevated him 
into a sort of mythical personage, under the name of 
Bauernfeind. By some he became confused with the 
merry priest of Kalenberg, who lived a century later, 
and by others he was called a second Eulenspiegel. 
Upon the whole, he may be placed by the side of Amis 
and Morolf, as the representative of comedy and satire 
in the period we are describing.* 

* Nithart's life (by Wackemagel) is in Hagen, iv. p. 435. His 
poems, ibid. ii. 98., iii. 183., i68d-i68g. But many of these are not 


Helnrich von Meissen, called " Frauenlob," is an 
Instance among the Minnesingers of those peculiar 
defects which, as in the case of Konrad von Wiirzburg, 
marked a decline in poetical taste. Complaints of not 
being sufficiently appreciated by his contemporaries; 
parade of learning ; introduction of all sorts of hetero- 
geneous characters into his pieces — such as King Arthur 
and Ahasuerus, Solomon and Sampson, Aristotle and 
Sigfrid ; great artificiality of form and metre : such are 
some of his characteristics. One of his measures, his 
zarter Ton, has no less than twenty-one rhymes in a 
strophe, while another, his iiberzarter, has as many as 
thirty-four. His Leich on the Holy Virgin is an ex- 
traordinary combination of scholastic erudition and 
metrical artifice. 

Like most of the later Minnesingers, he was not a 
knight, nor yet a doctor of theology, as tradition re- 
lates, but a strolling minstrel of the middle class, He 
was called " Frauenlob " from the praises bestowed by 
him on the women, among whom he stood in great 
repute. The latter part of his life he resided at 
Mayence, where he founded the school of Master- 
singers. On his death in 1318, his body was carried 
to the grave by the weeping women of Mayence, who, 

his. Nithart is cited (almost proverbially) by W. Ton Escbenbaeh, in 
" Willehalm," 212, 12-13. He lived at the court of Frederick "der 
Streitbar" of Austria, who died 1246. But Nithart was not then living, 
because he is spoken of as dead in Wernher's " Meier Helmbrecht " (see 
note, p. 176), which was written in the lifetime of Frederick. 

Der Neidhart Fuchs, who, according to several chroniclers in the 
fourteenth century, lived at the Austi-ian court, under Otto the Jovial, 
and is said to have played similar pranks with the peasants, can only be 
indebted for his existence to a confusion of persons or names. 


with loud lamentations, poured so much wine upon his 
grave that the whole church swam with it.* 

The piece still extant, under the title of the " San- 
gerkrieg auf der Wartburg " (the Contest of the Singers 
on the Wartburg), is written chiefly in this learned and 
artificial manner. It is possible that such a contest 
actually did take place on the Wartburg in the year 
1206 or 1207, the year when St. Elizabeth was born. 
But the circumstances under which it arose are un- 
questionably imaginary, and seem to have been a kind 
of mournful reminiscence of times gone by, when poetry 
stood in high estimation. The first part could not have 
been written earlier than the first half of the thirteenth 
century. The second part, when the mythical Klingsohr 
of Hungary makes his appearance, and has a contest 
of wit with Wolfram of Eschenbach, is of much later 

It now remains for us only to advert briefly to the 
prose productions of this first classical period of German 
literature; if such can be said to have existed at a 
period when the life of the people was instinct with 
poetry. The very law-books of that day, the Schwaben- 
spiegel, the Sachsenspiegel, and others, breathe the 
poetical spirit of the time. Still more so is this the 
case with the productions of eloquence, — the sermons. 
What softness and flexibility of language, what poetical 

* "Heinrich von Meissen des Frauenlobs Leiehe, Spriiche, Streit- 
gedichte und Lieder," &c. Bttmiiller, 1843. 

f The " Sangerkrieg" is in Hagen, ii. p. 2. seq. Compare J. Grimm, 
"Uber den altd. Melstergesang," p. 77.; Koberstein, "Uber das Alter, 
&c. des Gedichts von Wartburger Kriege," 1823; Lucas, "Uber den 
Krieg von Wartburg," 1838. 


sublimity joined with earnest teaching, what delicacy 
and force combined ; how affectionate and cheerful, and 
yet how strict ! It is the outpouring of a heart filled 
with the importance and truth of the subject, — of a 
speaker who will not stoop to ornament to give effect 
to his message. 

These sermons, in fact, of the twelfth and thirteenth 
century, of which a tolerable quantity is still extant, 
might well serve as models of pulpit eloquence at the 
present day. In those times, monks of the Mendicant 
order wandered about Germany, full of genuine na- 
tional feeling, and sympathizing with the ignorant mul- 
titude, to whom neither Benedictine nor Secular cared 
to preach. Thousands would flock to listen to their 
words, at one time in the cathedral or in the pulpit 
outside of it, at another on the mountain side or under 
the green linden tree. Berthold, the Franciscan monk 
of Eegensburg, a native of Winterthur in Switzerland, 
was one of these preachers. Vast crowds followed him 
about the country ; and it is said that sometimes his 
audience numbered as many as twenty thousand. 
Many of his sermons are still extant; a glance at 
which will be sufficient to show the secret of his great 

* Berthold died 1272. Eleven of his sermons were published by Ch. 
Kling, 1824. Compare J. Grimm's "Eecension, Wiener Jarbiicher," 
1825, voL xxxii. He was a pupil of the Minorite, Brother Dayid, who, 
besides numerous works in Latin, has left German ascetic treatises, 
printed in Pfeiffer's "Deutsche Mystiker, des 14 Jarh.'' 1845, 1 vol. 
pp. 309 and 375. Other sermons have been published in a separate 
form by Leyser, 1838 j Both, 1839 ; Gricshaber, 1844 and 1846 j also 
in collections, as Graff's " Diutiska," Hoffmann's "Puudgruben," Mone's 
•' Anzliger," 


The period to which we shall now turn, viz., from the 
beginning of the fourteenth to the end of the fifteenth 
century, exhibits an utter decay of all those great qua- 
lities that distinguished the poetry of the thirteenth 
century. We now enter upon a poetical wilderness, 
with only a few solitary oases in it to arrest our course. 

With the fall of the Hohenstaufens the political 
condition of Germany altered. Eudolf of Hapsburg 
studied his own interests more than those of the empire, 
and was less solicitous for the honour of Germany than 
for the aggrandisement of his own family. And so it was, 
that when the Minnesingers hastened to the Imperial 
court, hoping great things for poetry from the newly- 
elected Eudolf, they were bitterly disappointed. That 
generous patronage under which letters flourished 
during the Hohenstaufen dynasty, was withheld by 
the house of Hapsburg. Rudolf wished to have Austria 
and her love, but not Austria's love-songs. The min- 
strels who sought his court went away poor and 
neglected ; and their poems are full of sad complainings 
at their lot. And as it was with the Emperor, so it 
was with the other princes of the land. Busied in the 
fruitless conflict of parties, they had no leisure for 
song, and so the singers, from the absence of listeners, 
became mute. As time progressed, things grew worse. 
Eudolf 's successors were actuated by the same spirit. 
The impulses which had been awakened by the Crusades 
gradually died out ; the eye of the nobility no longer 
dwelt upon some grand and distant object; Ideal 
aspirations no longer warmed their bosom ; and. In- 
stead, they became infected with a cold, narrow egotism. 


Endless feuds and contentions ensued in consequence; 
the law of might prevailed, — a state of things which 
continued from the middle of the fourteenth to the 
beginning of the sixteenth century, and which the 
temporal power failed to put an end to. If to this be 
added the dreadful scourges of plague and famine 
which visited Europe in the middle of the fourteenth 
century, and threw Germany into an agony of alarm, 
we shall cease to wonder that poetry vanished. Iq 
such times there was no place for it. In the fifteenth 
century the prospect was still gloomier. For not only 
had politics degenerated into a nonentity, but it was the 
same with the Church and with morals. The feud 
between the Emperor, Lewis the Bavarian, and the 
Pope, who placed Germany under an interdict, shook 
the people's religious belief to its centre. 

Forgetful of their sacred calling, the clergy went 
beyond the laity in sensuality and egotism, and so lost 
the control which they formerly possessed over the 
rude manners and barbarous tendencies of the age. 
The two pillars of German poetry, Truthfulness and 
Christian faith, tottered ; and with them the graceful 
structure that had been raised upon them. Archi- 
tecture and painting, it is true, flourished in the 
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and afford us a 
mournful solace for the loss of their parents, the 
manly Heroic song and lovely Minne poetry of bygone 

There were other causes contributing to the decay 
of poetry. As the power of the Emperor and the 
nobles diminished, the towns rose Into importance with 



their trade and manufactures ; but trade and manufac- 
tures have never been congenial to poetry. 

Again, that tendency to inventions and discoveries, 
and the mastery of the powers of nature, which first 
made its appearance in the fourteenth century, and 
which is in fact the distinguishing mark of that and 
the succeeding century, was anything but favourable to 
poetry. Poetry lost rather than gained by the dis- 
covery of new worlds by the invention of the compass, 
of gunpowder, of watches, nay, even by that of printing. 
At the close of the fifteenth century, when material 
activity was at its zenith, poetry was at the lowest ebb. 

Indeed, those periods of the world's history, in which 
the mind of man has been wholly and successfully bent 
on the subjugation of nature's powers, and on the 
development and application of the exact sciences, have 
never been morally or poetically great. Before printing 
was invented, a pget's works passed current only among 
an initiated few ; kindred spirits, in fact, who took an 
interest in such matters ; they never fell into the hands 
of the profane crowd who cared for none of those 

But with the invention of printing all was altered. 
The poet had no longer before him distinct persons, 
living faces, so to say, looking on him, respect for 
whom would make him careful what he wrote and what 
he recited. His critics now were a heterogeneous, in- 
distinct mass, called the public, of whom he knew 
little, and for whom he cared less. This contempt for 
his readers lasted till late in the sixteenth century. No 
wonder that under such circumstances the number of 


base mechanical poetasters, miscalled poets, became 

From that time to the present, poetry became a mere 
matter for the eye, something to be read ; whilst, be- 
fore the days of printing, it was an affair of song and 
recitation, — a poetry instinct with life, and worthy of 
the name. The world would never have had its 
" Iliad," its " Odyssey," and its " Nibelungenlied," had 
the then race of men been acquainted with printing. 
Under the empire of the press, poetry ceased to have 
a tradition ; and exactly in proportion as that empire 
extended, German heroic poetry declined ; and it is not 
a little singular that the only genuine poetry of the 
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was in the possession 
of persons who could neither read nor write. We 
allude to the Volkslied, or national song. 

Printing chiefly served the purposes of learning 
Only ; and it is learning that we must number among 
the enemies of poetry after the fourteenth century. 
"We have seen her threatening in the thirteenth cen- 
tury; working prejudicially in the fourteenth; and 
now in the fifteenth, she becomes poetry's deadly foe. 
This hostility was kept up unflaggingly even down to 
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries ; and it was 
only in the second classical period of German poetry 
that she was repulsed, though by no means vanquished. 
The wounds she inflicted are not even now scarred over. 
That subtle Invention of the mixed Romance peoples 
which was cultivated with such surprising acutenessj — 
we mean the Scholastic Philosophy, — began to be known 
and represented in Germany as early as the thirteenth 

L 2 


century. Early in the fourteenth it took up its quar- 
ters in Prague, and then in Heidelberg, and a century 
later in Leipsic. Knowledge began to preponderate 
over living experience, to an extent which augured 
little good. A separation was the quick result, not 
such as that between the various grades of society, or 
between clergy and laity, but the separation between, 
the men of knowledge and those who knew nothing. 
The former, in accordance with the proverb, " Know- 
ledge puffeth up," despised the latter, and holding them 
to be unworthy of their own lofty position, and in- 
capable of attaining to it, left them to the deepest 
barbarism. All poetry that did not suit their peculiar 
theories of wisdom, they ignored. Hence it is that in 
this period, especially the former half of it, two sorts of 
poetry are met with : one artificial, erudite, subtle, and 
stilted, such as we indicated in the case of Frauenlob ; 
the other rude, uncouth, and clumsy. The former was 
in the service of the wise, the latter of the unwise. 
But wisdom soared so rapidly, that the first of these 
was left altogether in the lurch, and the last alone 
survived. This, in so far as it treated of national 
subjects, belonged to the old heroic poetry, and was, in 
fact, a continuation of it, and, as such, was regarded 
by the men of wisdom as mere stuff and nonsense. 

Indeed, the chief characteristic of the poetry of this 
age may be pronounced an endeavour to return to the 
old national tone. In the fifteenth century, when, from 
the causes just mentioned, poetry had fallen deeply 
enough, the revival of letters, as it is called, took 
place; that is to say, people were made acquainted 


■with the original Greek and Roman clasaics. Placed 
side by side with these, the German poetry of the day 
cut a sorrier figure than ever, and national poetry, 
national spirit, and independence became at a total 
discount. Nothing would now go down with the 
reading and writing world but Latin poetry. The 
learned actually grew ashamed of their mother tongue, 
and with much simpHcity acknowledged that they were 
mere benighted barbarians till the light of Greek and 
Latin poetry rose upon their view. The ancient gran- 
deur of the German empire and its head, the ancient 
grandeur of German poetry, were forgotten as though 
they had never been. Philological poetry now seized 
upon the vacant throne, and with its fine phrases ruled 
the world for fiiU 300 years. 

Of the advantage which German poetry derived 
from philological research, we shall speak hereafter. 

So much for German poetry's external foes. Its 
enemies within next claim our attention. It will be 
necessary here to go back a little. We have seen that 
early in the thirteenth century, when German poetry 
was in full bloom, its noblest and most gifted votaries 
did not select the noblest themes to descant upon. 
Instead of bringing the light of their genius to bear on 
the immortal materials of national epic, they frittered 
away their powers on foreign and trivial subjects. The 
heroic sagas of their country they pass by with neglect, 
if not contempt, not foreseeing the retribution which 
would necessarily follow. That tendency of the in- 
ferior poets of the thirteenth century to prefer form to 
substance, art to nature, plainly indicated how things 

t 3 


would end. The love of highly-coloured descriptions 
which characterised the poets of that day, was a sure 
sign of impending decline. The tints, from being 
bright, presently become glaring ; and so, by an easy 
transition, in place of the exquisite and delicate han- 
dling which we so admired in Wolfram, Hartmann, 
and Gottfried, we pass into the most coarse and vulgar 
common-place. The original expressions of earlier 
poets, in them so natural and so becoming, by degrees 
grew into phrases, until at last, when the decline of 
poetry fairly set in, hese became in the mouths of 
their successors unmeaning nonsense. Just in the 
same way the poetasters of some years ago bandied 
about the glowing words of Schiller and Gothe, not 
knowing what they were talking about ; and the 
pseudo-patriotic writers between 1838 and 1848 de- 
graded the cries of freedom of 1813 and 1814 into 
meaningless phraseology. Again, the noble and melo- 
dious dialect, which at the beginning of the thirteenth 
century had grown into the common language of the 
educated classes, in the two succeeding centuries ber 
came debased, and ceased to be the exclusive vehicle of 
poetry, which adopted first one dialect, then another, 
at will. It is true that all the poets of the period now 
under consideration do not share equally in the defects 
above mentioned. There is a great difference between 
those of the fourteenth and those of the fifteenth cen- 
tury ; indeed, the latter are so universally defective, 
that they deserve the name of clumsy rhymers rather 
than of poets. In the latter century, the accentuation 
of the words, which in the thirteenth century was so 


exceedingly fine and subtle, began to waver; while 
in the metre we meet not unfrequently with a foot too 
much or too little. Add to which, the old rule of dis- 
tributing the sense over two verses is lost sight of; and 
after the fourteenth century almost every line com- 
pletes a sentence ; so that the pairs of rhymes, which 
sounded so musically in the mouths of Hartmann, 
Gottfried, and Wolfram, become wearisome and mo- 

The prose works, however, of the fifteenth century, 
when poetry had sunk as deeply as it well could do, 
have something very hearty and attractive about them. 
The language is sonorous, and the sentences smooth 
and rounded, — qualities which the sixteenth century, 
so fertile in prose, might well envy 

And now for a brief survey of the poetical pro- 
ductions of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. 

The old national epic still continues in the minds 
and mouths of the people throughout the whole of this 
period. Versions appeared of the " Eavenna Schlacht," 
the " Rosengarten," " Konig Laurin," and other Sagas 
belonging to the Dietrich of Bern group. But in 
these we miss the firm connected shape of the original, 
and the descriptions are disjointed and confused-. 
In one single point, however, progress is visible, 
we mean the versification. The old long lines of the 
Nibelungen strophe, which could only coexist with 
the ancient language, now became a strophe of eight 
short lines which rhymed alternately ; the uneven lines 
with double rhymes, the even with single rhymes as 

L 4 


At the same time the fourth foot in the second half 
of what was formerly the fourth long line was now 
done away with in its equivalent, the eighth short line ; 
so that all the lines of the strophe now had an equal 
number of feet. This form, which became the pre- 
vailing one in the fifteenth century, was originally 
called Hildebrandston, from the Hildebrandslied, which 
had continued to be the people's chief favourite ; and 
all the most popular songs of the fifteenth and six- 
teenth centuries were written in it. Subsequently, 
this strophe went by other appellations, e. g. the Ben- 
zenauer Ton, from a song hereafter to be mentioned ; 
" Herzlich thut mich erfreuen," from another song be- 
ginning with the above words ; " WUhelm von Nassau," 
and so forth. This harmonious strophe has continued 
for centuries to be the people's favourite, and is still 
used by the Grerman ballad singers of the present day. 
Protestant hymns, e. g. that still sung in German 
churches " Befiehl du deine Wege," are also in the 
same shape. Nay, in many modern art-poems this old 
strophe is adopted, e. g. in " Frisch auf zum frolichen 
Jagen ;" " Dir folgen meine Thranen ;" and others. 

In this strophe, then, there appeared, during the first 
half of the fifteenth century, versions of such second- 
rate poems as " Otnit," " Hug-" and « Wolf-dietrich," 
and " Eosengarten ;" not of the Nibelungenlied ; that 
was a cut above the degenerate tastes of the age. In these 
Versions much of the beauty of the original is sacrificed 
to the rhyme ; but notwithstanding many defects, they 
are, upon the whole, not unpleasing : lively and fresh 
they certainly are. To these three poems was added 


another, viz. " Konig Laurin ;" and these four together 
were called the " Heldenbuch." This was twice printed 
in the fifteenth century, and several times in the six- 
teenth*, and serves to keep alive some remembrance of 
the old heroic poetry till the end of that century, until 
at last, in the seventeenth century, the " Heldenbuch " 
also fell into contempt and oblivion, and the great days 
of old were utterly forgotten. 

About the year 1472, these subjects, viz. "Otnit," 
" Wolf-dietrich," " Rosengarten," with several other 
Sagas belonging to the Etzel and Dietrich group, were 
elaborated afresh by Kaspar von der Roenf , of Miinner- 
stadt; and this version was also called by its editor. 
Von der Hagen, the " Heldenbuch." | 

This second version is a most lamentable affair, and 
tasteless beyond conception. AU that is good and 
genuine and poetical in the old poems, the author has 
struck out as though on purpose. Indeed he plumes 
himself on having eliminated "much useless talk." 
By only one of his contemporaries, presently to be 
mentioned, is this Caspar surpassed. 

As for the art epic, the old poems of Charlemagne 
are now almost forgotten. 

The later poems, " Heimonskinder," " Ogier von 

* The oldest edition of the " Heldenbuch " does not give the place and 
the date of the publication; the second is 1491; others, 1509, 1545, 
1560, 1590. 

t He was most likely a bankelsanger, or ballad-singer, so qalled be- 
cause these people mounted on banke (benches) to recite their compo- 

I Kaspar von der Eoen's version of the " Heldensagas," much of 
■which is taken from originals now lost, is printed in Hagen and Pri- 
misser's " Heldenbuch," in the original language, 1820 and 1825. 

L 5 


Danemark," " Malagis der Zauterer," " Valentin und 
Namelos," &c., were now imported from the Nether- 
lands, and appeared in mere translations. Of the 
Alexander Saga wretched versions continued to appear. 
At the beginning of the fourteenth century the notable 
discovery was made that Wolfram had omitted many 
most important adventures of Parcival's in the Grai- 
Saga ; and accordingly, in 1336, one Von Eapoltstein 
caused a translation to be made of these additions from 
the French work of Menessier, and interpolated them 
in Wolfram's " Parcival." * 

But this is nothing to the doings of Ulrich Futerer, 
or Fiirterer, a Bavarian poet, by trade a heraldic 
painter, who in the year 1478, produced a kind of 
cyclic poem, containing all the separate Sagas of the 
Artus group connected together, and written in the 
Titurel-strophe. This monstrosity was never printed. 
It is only a proof of the poetical degeneracy of the 
age, that an uncouth rhymster should have ventured 
■ to produce a couple of folios of absurdities, written in 
that ingenious metre which none but its inventor, that 
deep-thinker and dexterous master of language, Wolfram 
von Eschenbach, knew how to manage. The prose 
versions of " Tristan and Isolt," dating 1470-1480, are 
of a better stamp. 

The old legendary poetry stiU continued to be cul- 
tivated during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, 
and in the early part of the former century with 
success. Such, for instance, was a grand Passionale 

• On the version of " Parcival," at the instance of M. von Eapoltstein, 
see A. Keller, Romvart, 1844, p. 647. 


(passion-poem), containing an account of our Saviour 
and the Virgin, and also of the Apostles, and some 
later saints.*! Another piece, "Littower," gives the 
history of the conversion of a heathen king. It was 
written by one Schondoch, a poet not otherwise 
known. This legend, which is also told of the Saxon 
Wittekind, relates how that the pagan, in the disguise 
of a beggar, stole into a church meditating evil against 
the Christian monarch and his religion, when suddenly, 
from the uplifted Host, issues a child of wonderful 
beauty, and comes towards him unseen by all the rest. 
He is then seized, and led into the presence of the 
Christian king ; his heart is moved, he receives the rite 
of baptism with his followers, and humbles himself 
before the Lord of Heaven. All this is told with 
much grace and simplicity.f 

In the second half, however, of the fourteenth and 
throughout the fifteenth century, the verse-legends fall 
off considerably, and become coarse and exaggerated in 
the extreme. Such was Hermann of Sachsenheim's 
" Golden Temple," an imitation of Conrad of Wurz- 
burg's " Golden Smith." In the " Travels of Saint 

* "Das alte Passional," ed. K. Hahn, 1845. Here, however, are 
wanting, besides several legends of the Madonna, the whole of the third 
book. Compare "Marienlegenden," Stuttgart, 1846, ed. Pfeiffer. The 
third book was published in 1852 by P. Kbplce, " Das Passional, &c. 
des 13 Jahrhunderts." The first book contains the legends of "Jesus 
and Maria ;" the second, those of the " Apostles ;" the third, those of 
the " Saints," arranged according to the calendar. The work contains 
at least 100,000 verses. 

If this work belongs to the thirteenth century, which Vilmar now 
thinks, it will come above, p. 156. 

f An edition for private circulation was prepared in 1826 by Joseph 

von Lassberg. 

L 6 


Brandanus" we have a heap of all sorts of wonderful 
adventures, most likely taken from some older com- 
positions which have been lost.* To obtain a fair 
notion of the vast difference between the legends of the 
close of the thirteenth century (and that was not the 
best period) and those of the fifteenth, we need only 
compare the old poem of S. Elizabeth with the miser- 
able rhymings of Johann Eothe in 1430, although the 
last is much the best known of the two.f After this, . 
legendary poetry passes into legendary prose. 

It may here be stated parenthetically, that " Reineke 
Vos," already mentioned, is by far the best of all 
the extant narrative poems of the fifteenth century. 
This period is very rich in tales, not based on the great 
saga-groups, but on modern or historical occurrences ; 
the more out-of-the-way and strange, and the more 
distorted and overlaid with a tissue of extraneous 
legend, the better. Allegory was next taken up — a sure 
sign of a declining poetry. It would profit little to enter 
at length into a description of these works. Such were 

• Brandanus, an Irish bishop, is said to have died in 577. The story 
of his adventures must be of Irish origin ; it has obtained a ■wiie circu- 
lation. Even in the "Sangerkrieg auf derWartburg" (Minnesinger, ii. 
Str. 46 and .56) reference is made to these legends. There is a High-Ger- 
man poetical version, still unprinted. A Low-German version, perhaps of 
tie fourteenth century, taken from the Dutch, is to be found in Brun's 
" Romantische nnd andere Gediohte in altplatt-deutscher Sprache," 1798, 
p. 159. In the fifteenth century, the travels of S. Brandanus seem to 
have been particularly popular, as a quantity of editions appeared of the 
story, but in a prose shape. 

t Johannes Eothe's " Leben der heil. Elizabet" is in Menken, "Script, 
rer. Germ." ii., but printed from the worst manuscript existing. The 
prologue, wherein the author mentions himself is in " Bragur," tL 2. 
p. 140. 


the version of the old Oriental saga of "Apollonlus of 
Tyre," written at the beginning of the fifteenth century 
by one Helnrioh von der Neustadt, of Vienna*, or 
" Duke William of Austria," f a work written at the 
beginning of the fourteenth century ; " Friedrich von 
Schwaben,"t and others. The " Seven Wise.Masters" 
is an Indian story, first translated from Indian into Ara- 
ble ; from that language into Greek, from Greek into 
Latin, from Latin into French, and thence into German 
rhymes, by Hans Bliheler, one of the better poets of the 
commencement of the fifteenth century, and still current 
in a prose shape.§ Some of these productions, however, 

• The Greek story of ApoUonius of Tyre, -which was widely circu- 
lated, and of which there was even a prose version in Anglo-Saxon (ed. 
Thorpe, 1834), was known also in Germany as early as the twelfth 
century, for in Lamprecht's " Alexander" it is referred to, in the account 
of the destruction of Tyre. The rhyme version by Heinrich von 
(Wienerisch) Neustadt stiU remains unprinted. A prose version, com- 
posed by Heinrich Steinhofel, of Weil, after Gotfrid of Viterbo, was 
published in 1471. Compare "Wiener Jarb.," 1823, vol. 22. p. 62. 

t The poem of "William and his Beautifiil Agleie" was written in 
1314 by Johann von Wiirzburg. It is extant ia several MSS., but has 
never been printed. It was published in a prose form in 1481, and has 
also been dramatised by Hans Sachs. 

J Extracts of this poem, which belongs, at the earliest, to the end of 
the fourteenth century, are in "Bragur," vi. 1. p. 181., 2. 190., vii. 1. 
p. 209. It is a story reminding one of the Celtic poems, with a number 
of adventures invented or borrowed from earlier sources. One of the 
best passages is taken from the old German Heldtosage of " Wieland 
der Schmid." Compare W. Grimm, "Deutsche Heldensage," p. 401. 

§ The version of this poem by Biiheler, who lived at the court of the 
Archbishop of Cologne, was edited by A. Keller, with a learned preface, 
in 1841. " Diocletianus leben, von H. v. Biihel." There was in exist- 
ence another rhymed version of the " Seven Wise Masters," and from 
this the extracts are taken in Hagen's " Grundriss," p. 303. Compare 
A. Keller, " Le Roman des Sept Sages," p. cix. The German prose was 
printed la 1473. 


have afforded poetical materials to modern German poets. 
Thus, for instance, it is from " Peter von Staufenberg 
und die Meerfei,"* a poem of the 'middle of the four- 
teenth century, that Fouque got the substance of his 
beautiful tale " Undine." Schiller's " Gang nach dem 
Eisenhammer" is also based on a story of those days. 
Of smaller tales of an anecdotal character — a species 
of composition best suited to the powers of that age — 
there was no lack ; nay, even as late as the fifteenth 
century we meet with some by no means despicable 
specimens in this line. They may be classified under 
three names, which had come down from the thirteenth 
century. Serious narratives, chiefly didactic, of real 
events (^Mcsre, whence Mdrchen) ; droll stories, the 
result of pure invention (^Aventiure, Abenteuer — an ex- 
pression applied as late as the time of Opitz to tales of 
fancy) ; and, lastly, Allegories {Bispel, by which ex- 
pression fable, akin to allegory, continued to be desig- 

Of these three, the Abenteuer are in the best style.f 
The allegorical poems reach right through the four- 
teenth and fifteenth centuries to the beginning of the 

* " Der Bitter v. Staufenburg, ein alt-deutscBes Gedicht," Engelhard, 
1823. The old poem, which cannot he of much remoter date than that 
assigned to it in the text, was edited by Fischart, in an old version, 1588. 
From this old version comes the modernised extract in the " Wnnder- 
hom," i. 407. 

t Collections of these tales were made as early as the thirteenth 
century, like the collection of fahles and stories by the Strieker and 
others (mentioned at page 190), under the title of " Die Welt." From 
a collection of the fourteenth century, extracts are printed in the 
" Koloczaer Codex altd. Gedichte," ed. Mailath and KofBnger, Pesth, 
1817. Another collection is contained in the three first volumes of 


sixteenth. At times they are ■written in strophes. 
One Hadamar von Laber * wrote an allegorical " Jagd- 
gedicht von der Minne." The " Morin," by Hermann 
von Sachsenheimt, describes the journey to the Venus- 
berg, and the fidelity of the faithful Eckart. Besides 
these, we have the well-known " Theuerdank," of 
which the Emperor Maximilian composed the ma- 
terial, and partly also the form. Maximilian (or his 
chaplain, Melchior Pfinzing, who edited it,) here 
gives an account of his own youthful adventures in 
very bad rhymes, under the figure of a journey to 
woo Ehrenreich (Mary of Burgundy), daughter of 
King Rumreich (Charles the Bold). On the road, 
Theuerdank (Maximilian) meets with three enemies in 
three defiles. Their names are severally Eiirwittig, 
Unfalo, and Neidelhart, and they each try to stop 
and kill him. Eiirwittig no doubt represents the 
recklessness of his youth ; Unfalo its mishaps ; Nei- 
delhart its political enemies. The whole abounds 
with a set of improbable stories and sporting anec- 
dotes. At last Theuerdank is victorious, and by a 
sort of poetical justice, Eiirwittig is beheaded, Unfalo 
hanged, and Neidelhart hurled from a wall. The best 
part of the work are the wood-cuts. Of the rest the 

Lassterg's "Liedersaal" (1820-1822). A collection of 90 pieces, most 
of them printed before, is in Hagen's " Gesammtabenteur," 1850, 3 

* This poem is in the Titurel-strophe, and was written in the fif- 
teenth century, perhaps after some older model. There are many MSS. 

f This poem was composed in 1453, and published in 1513, and often 
subsequently. Sachsenheim also wrote, in 1455, the " Goldener Tempel." 


less said the better. And yet it was the work of a 
celebrated emperor, and got up on parchment in the 
most costly style. Forty copies only were printed. It 
abounded in mysterious allusions, to unravel which 
many attempts were made. Three editions appeared 
between 1517 and 1537. Waldis then remodelled it, 
and the work appeared in four several editions. In the 
seventeenth century a fresh version appeared, and the 
book sold at auctions for hundreds of ducats.* At 
present " Theuerdank" reposes in the dust of the libra- 
ries, as its writer does in that of the tomb. 

Of historical poems, an Austrian chronicle, com- 
monly called " Von Horneck," is the work of a certain 
Ottokar.f Another, describing the Council of Kost- 
nitz, is scarcely readable. 

"We shall now proceed to lyrical poetry ; a more 
pleasing theme. In the period now under considera- 
tion, the Minne-poetry of the twelfth and thirteenth 
century still continued to be cultivated ; nay, as late 
as the fifteenth century, we find noble persons writing 
it, and not without success. Such were Heinrich 

* The text of "Theuerdank" was published by K. Haltans, 1836, 
after the edition of 1517. 

t Ottokar of Styria's " Oestreiohische Chronik " was composed between 
1300 and 1317, and printed in Pez, "Scriptores rer. Austr.," torn. iii. 
Compare Schacht "Aus. undiiber Ottokar's Chronik," 1821, "Jacobi 
de Ottoc. Chron. Austriaco," 1839. The " LiTlandische Eeimchronik" 
belongs to the end of the thirteenth or beginning of the fourteenth cen- 
tury; published by Bergmann, 1817, and Pfeiffer, 1844. The "Deutsch- 
ordens Chronik von Nikolaus von Jeroschin," dating from the fourteenth 
century, is merely a translation of the Latin Chronicle of Peter of Dus- 
burg, but philologically important. Extracts of it were edited in 1854 
by Pfeiffer, with a capital glossary. 


von Miigeln* of Meissen, Count Oswald von Wolken- 
.Bteinf, Count Hugo von Montfort-I The latter being, 
like the olden knights, ignorant of reading and writing, 
composed his poems on horseback or in the chase, and 
dictated them to his Jager, Burk Mangolt. But, as 
we have before observed, chivalry had now for the 
most part divorced itself from poetry ; which fell into 
the hands of the Meister, i, e, the burghers of the 
wealthy rising towns. Thus Minnegesang became 
Meistergesang, which was framed on the strictest rules, 
and in the hands of such men as Muscatbliit§ aiid 
Michael Beheim|| degenerated into frivolity and artifice. 
These, however, must not be reckoned among the 
later Meistersingers, properly so called. 

It is not exactly known when this institution of the 
Meistersingers, and their poetical guilds, arose in the 

* He lived ia the middle of tlie fourteenth century. Compare Hagen 
andBiisching, "Aitd. Museum," ii. 180 and 196. In the tradition of 
the Meistersingers, he ■was said to be "a doctor of theology of Prague," 
and one of the founders of their art. He is the author of one of the 
oldest German prose translations, viz. that of " Valerius Maximus." 

t He was bom in the Tyrol, 1363-1367, died 1445. Compare Hoff- 
mann, "Fundgr.," i. 238. His poems -were edited in 1847 by Beda 

t Bom 1357, died 1423. Compare Aufsesz, " Anzeiger," 1832, sp, 
178 ; 1833, sp. 292. Mone, " Anzeiger," 1834, sp. 200. Wackemagel, 
" Altd. Lesebuch,'' p. 949. 

§ Muscatbliit — of course, a fictitious name — lived at the beginning 
of the fifteenth century, and still wrote in 1437. Compare Aufsesz, 
"Anzeig.," 1832, sp. 258; 1833, sp. 230 and 268. "Altd. Museum," 
i. 123; il 189. An edition of his poems by Von Groote appeared in 

II He -was bom in the vicinity of Weinsberg, 1416, and -was still 
living in 1474. Hagen (" Samlung fiir altd. Lit."), p. 75, prints a number 
of his poems, and Karajau his " Buch von den Wienern." 


cities. Frauenlob is said to have been the founder of 
the oldest, viz. that of Mainz ; but this is no doubt a 
fiction. At all events, there must be sofne confusion 
between a church and burgher singing school. This 
much is certain, that these guilds existed in the middle 
of the fifteenth century ; and towards the close of it 
were looked upon as institutions of great antiquity. 
Their head-quarters were in South Germany; espe- 
cially in Mainz, and then in Augsburg, Nuremburg^ 
Memmingen, Colmar, Ulm, and other small cities. In 
some of these cities, the guild comprehended only per- 
sons of the same trade, e. g. the shoemakers in Colmar, 
and the weavers in Ulm. But in most places th6 
musical citizens of various trades formed themselvea 
into one society for the purpose. A regular guild they 
did not profess to be. Upright, virtuous, and good, 
these masters looked upon their art as devoted to holy 
purposes. Indeed, after the Keformation, their effu- 
sions were always on Bible texts ; and if these pieces 
do not represent the poetry of the age, they at all 
events represent the best points of its social life ; the 
probity, sobriety, contented domesticity, and the united 
spirit of the German burghers. When the weaver- 
master had left his loom, the shoemaker put by thes 
implements of his art, and the tailor had hung his 
shears on the wall, he would then, in the silence of his 
chamber, set about composing songs original or imi- 
tated ; and, when Sunday approached, he hung out the 
" Schultafel," tricked out with various devices, to an- 
nounce that on the Sabbath afternoon, after service, 
there would be a singing exercise (Schule gesungen) 


at the Rathaus, or (as was later the case) in the Chiarch. 
On that day, the masters of the association, singers and 
poets, together with the scholars and lovers of music, 
and a large number of burghers and their families, asT 
sembled at the appointed rendezvous. The masters 
to hear the new poems recited, the scholars for practice 
in the art, while a reverential silence pervaded the vast 
assembly. Above, sat the presidents of the associa- 
tion (Gemerk) ; to wit, the Biichsenmeister (treasurer), 
the Schllisselmeister (manager), the Merkmeister, and 
the Kronmeister. Next to Merkmeister stood the 
Merker, i. e. critics, judges, who " marked " all the 
faults, and at the conclusion gave their award on the 
merits of the singers. The victor was then crowned 
by the Kronmeister with a chaplet. This was often 
very costly, and was the permanent property of the 
association. Besides this, a jewel (Kleinod) was hung 
by a chain from his neck. In many populous and rich 
cities the association possessed a great number of valu^ 
ables (together also called Kleinod) ; so that at every 
meeting, masters already distinguished might appear 
with their decorations, to the great delight and pride, 
doubtless of all the friends and relatives present. 
Hereupon, the best poems were inscribed in a great 
book, which was carefully preserved by the Schliissel-. 
meister. Such was the Sunday and HoUday amuse- 
ments of the artizans of that period, the forefathers 
of the modern workmen ; amusements of which their 
descendants have no reason to be ashamed. Let it be 
remembered also, that those were days when the higher 
class of burghers wasted their powers and substance in 


luxury and riotous living ; the peasant was in a state 
of physical and mental degradation ; the learned, like 
the masses, were inmioderate drinkers ; while the nobles 
lavished their hereditary portion in feuds and bloodshed. 

For centuries the Meister singing continued. In 
the sixteenth century it was at its zenith. After 
leaving its birthplace, Mainz, it found a second home 
at Nuremberg, where the last meeting took place about 
the year 1770.* In Ulm it survived even the shock 
of the French Revolutionary wars. Twelve old Sing- 
meisters still existed there as late as 1830. Driven 
from their " Schaustube " in the Rathaus, they held 
their meetings in the private dwellings of artizans, 
where they sung their songs memoriter. And it seems 
surprising how tradition could preserve for so many 
years pieces of such artistic intricacy alike in the text 
and music. 

In the year 1839, four only of these aged people 
survived; the Biichsenmeister, the Schliisselmeister, 
the Merkmeister, and the Kronmeister. On the 21st 
of October 1 839, they celebrated the obsequies of the 
art, bequeathing their Schultafel and other properties 
to the Liederkranz at Ulm, accompanied by the wish 
" that the Liederkranz may emulate its predecessor in 
length of existence."! 

After all, this Meistergesang was more an art of 
rhyme than poetry, properly so called. The ideas were 
of secondary consideration ; words and syllables every- 
thing. In later times, when the Meistersingers re- 

* See Hasleiu, in " Bragur," iii. p. 69. 

t " Augsburg Allgem. Zeitung," 1839, No. 311, Supplement, p. 2432. 


sided for the most part in the cities of the reformed 
faith, care was taken that nothing should occur in 
their compositions of a contrary doctrinal tendency. 
The metrical system (Strophenbau) was tripartite, like 
that of the old Minnesingers. Sometimes there were as 
many as one hundred rhymes in a strophe. AU sorts 
of odd names were applied to it. There was the blue 
and the red (Ton) mode, and the yellow violet mode ; 
the red nut-blossom mode ; the striped saffron-flower 
mode ; the warm winter mode ; the yellow lion-skin 
mode ; the short ape mode, and the fat badger mode. 
At the end of the seventeenth century there were no 
less than two hundred and twenty-two different kinds 
of tunes or sing-strophes in full vogue. Twelve men 
were held in honour as the founders of art. Of these 
some were genuine Minnesiogers, e. g. Walther von 
der Vogelweide, Wolfram (transmuted by them into 
"Wolfgang Eohn), Reinmar von Zweter, Marner, Re- 
genbogen, and, above all, Frauenlob. Tabulatur was 
the name given by the Mastersingers to the strict rules 
which regulated their art ; a word still used in Ger- 

Such then was the poetry of the Meistersingers, 
"With the times it had no points of contact, exclusively 
adhering to what was old and traditional. It is not 
from any intrinsic merit of its own, but merely from 
its being a continuation of the Minnegesang, that it is 
important in a literary point of view. In the history 
of manners and civilization it is of much more moment. 

In this same period there flourished another sort of 
lyric poetry of vastly greater importance, the Secular 


popular lay (Weltliche Volkslied). It was the very- 
antipodes of Melstergesang. In it the people's joys 
and sorrows find an artless utterance. Often rude and 
vehement, it is, nevertheless, always animated and not 
seldom highly poetical. The old popular poetry bursts 
forth in lyrical, if not in epic, shape ; and that with 
wondrous power. With such power, indeed, that it 
served to inspire a Herder and a Goethe after a lapse 
of more than two centuries. The Melstergesang kept 
one even tenor throughout. It had no development. 
Not so the national song, which began in the fourteenth, 
grew in the fifteenth, and was at its best in the six- 
teenth century, which is really beyond the limits of the 
period of which we are treating. But It will be best to 
take the whole history of this sort of poetry at once, 
with the exception of one branch hereafter to be 

There is no doubt that national songs, in the sense 
in which we here regard it, existed as early as the 
twelfth century ; songs or poems where the author 
gave utterance to his feelings and experiences with 
truth and intensity. At the same time he never got 
beyond generals. He never, as in the art-poetry of the 
Minne-lied, entered into circumstantial and connected 
details of Individual experience. Such efiusions may 
possibly have been current in circles to which the artistic 
Minne never descended, but they were never committed 
to writing at the time, and were overwhelmed by the 
court poetry. In the fourteenth century, however, 
when the court poetry died out, and the Minnegesang 
gradually subsided into silence, these sounds of nature 


were once more heard, and (with the paltry excep- 
tion of the Meistergesang) ruled supreme during the 
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, over the whole field of 
lyric poetry. From the " Limhurg Chronicle " we learn 
that in the fourteenth century, songs of this kind were 
sung and whistled by knights and serving-men in town 
and country all over the land. 

The "Volkslied" (national lay) of this period is 
entirely on the same basis as the old " Volkslied," 
from which the old Epic originated. The incidents and 
experiences of real life are its theme, as they were of 
the old epic national lay. But with this important dif- 
ference, that it is the experiences, not of a nation, but 
of an individual, which are now sung. There it is acts, 
here feelings, which are pourtrayed. But then they are 
feelings so simple, so true, so universal, that everybody, 
and not the poet alone, has experienced them. So that 
in both kinds, this national lay and the old national lay, 
the actions and feelings are not imaginary, but already, 
so to say, in existence. In such compositions, of course, 
any strict connexion or consecutive order cannot be 
expected any more than in the feelings and thoughts 
which course through the mind. Hence the parts are 
thrown together rhapsodically according to the impulse 
of the moment. As for filling up the details, analysing 
the thoughts and feelings, and giving a colouring to the 
whole, after the manner of art-poetry, with these the 
Volkslied does not concern Itself in the least. Hence 
the apparent gaps and leaps with which it abounds no 
less than the ancient Epic. It was this " Kecke Wurf," 
this rapid transition, that Goethe so much admired. 


The music is like the text, simple, yet moving in the 
extreme; artless melody, in short, regardless of the 
rules of harmony, but admirably suited to the words. 
Indeed, the greatest musical composers have seldom 
achieved such perfection in this respect. Volkslieder 
(national lays) that are not sung are not worthy of 
the name. 

And who was the author of these songs ? It is with 
them as with the old Epic. The name of no distinct 
person stands on record as their author ; in fact they 
are the offspring, not of individual invention, but of a 
whole nation's heart. They describe circumstances and 
feelings which are the common property of all that 
have sprung from the same national stock, in which all 
have a sympathy more or less. The actual writer, if 
there ever was one, is lost in the crowd of according 
spirits, of which he is the mouth-piece. The very- 
same subjects we find handled at opposite ends of 
Germany, differing only in local colouring and dialect. 

Now, in some parts of Germany even at the present 
day, where modern song-books have not quenched the 
fire of the people's invention, something of the same 
sort of operation is at work which doubtless brought 
into being the old Volkslieder. Societies meet to- 
gether, one sings a strophe, a second adds another 
strophe on the spur of a moment, and a third catches 
the inspiration. This is the case with the Heimgarten 
(evening societies of the people) in the Tyrol. So in 
Upper Hessia the people still sing on, i. e. compose, in 
spite of the song-books, without Gleim, and Gross- 
heim, and Abela. In the weaving-room, when the 


songstress has exhausted her budget of songs, another 
improvises a verse, and another catches up the tuneful 
strain. Many of the songs so improvised bear such a 
striking similarity to the old Volkslieder that, as afore- 
said, we must ascribe to both a similar origin. In 
ancient times the materials of these Volkslieder were 
very frequently historical. At the close of the poem 
it is often stated that the transactions are described by 
" one who was an eye-witness ;" and the truth-like 
simplicity of the description made the piece current in 
a much more extended circle than that to which it 
originally belonged. Thus the robber-knight Eppelin 
von Gaila, and the landlouper Schiittensamen, were 
first sung in and about Nuremberg. So also, in the 
fourteenth century, Lindenschmidt, likewise a robber, 
was sung in the Breisgau country ; but afterwards 
they were all well known throughout Germany. So 
the song on the capture of Kuffstein, and execution of 
its defender, Hans Benzenauer, by MaximlUan I., which 
was composed in 1505, and was sung all over the country 
for a full century, gave the melody to several other 
songs of a like nature. 

In like manner the Landsknechts sang songs on the 
battle of Pavia in the very moment of victory — songs 
which lived in the mouths of the people for a good 
hundred years. 

To the same class belong the old Swiss songs on the 
battles of Sempach and Murten; and those of Mo- 
ringer, Heinrich der Lowe, the Knight Trimunitas, 
and others. 



But the mass of the Volkslieder consists of love- 
pieces, e. g., on parting, on constancy and inconstancy, 
on separation, on meeting again after an absence of 
seven years, on never meeting more. There are mes- 
sages sent to the loved one hy dear Miss Nightingale ; 
laments for the death of the bride, which will never 
cease till all the waters run out, and that will never be. 
Nothing can be more touching than these simple songs, 
with their heartfelt melody. " Insbruck, ich muss dich 
lassen " (Insbruck, I must leave thee, must go to a 
foreign land) ; or, " Warum bist du denn so traurig ?" 
(Why so sad, then, dearest ? Think'st that I'll forget 
thee ? Thou dost please me all too well. Leaves and 
grass may fade and languish, but not true love ; though 
lost to sight, to memory thou art dear) ; or, " So viel 
Stern am Himmel stehen, an dem blauen giildnen 
Zelt " (So many stars in Heaven stand, in the tent of 
blue and gold) ; or, " Es steht ein Baum in Odenwald, 
der hat viel griine Aest" (There stands a tree in 
Odenwald, with many branches green) ; or the song of 
inconstancy, " Es stehen drei Sternlein am Himmel " 
(Three little stars in Heaven stand); or that of 
constancy, "Es stund eine Linde im tiefen Thai" 
(There stood a linden in the deep vale) ; and very 
many others might be cited, a single one of which is 
worth a whole volume describing mock feelings and 
sensations at second hand. Then the power of such 
songs, the force with which they go direct to the heart, 
— with this Germany became experimentally acquainted 
not long ago. 


The melody of the " Mantel-lied," for instance, which 
In reality belonged to a song of the sixteenth century, 
beginning, "Es waren einmal drei Grafen gefangen," 
— what an electrical effect it had all the country over, 
as soon as the sound of it was re-awakened. Other 
Volkslieder are of a festive nature, full of genuine, 
hearty hilarity — of wit and humour, teeming with fun 
and frolic, e. g., " Der liebste Buhle den ich han, der 
liegt beim Wirt im Keller ; der hat ein holzin Kbckleia 
an, und heisst der Muskateller " (The dearest lover that 
I have, he lies in mine host's cellar ; a wooden jacket 
he has on, his name is Muscadeller) ; or, " Wie soil ich 
mich hinkehren, ich dummes Briiderlein? Wie soil 
ich mich ernahren? mein Gut ist aUzu klein" (0, 
whither shall I go, a lad so dull as I ? How ever get 
my living, with a little estate like mine ?) All these 
are quite as simple and true to nature as the others. 

Many of these pieces, as may well be imagined, are 
somewhat abrupt and unpolished, but not a single one 
of them can be called rude. In them we see painted 
to the life the careless independence and the uneasy 
gadding spirit of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. 
It has also been remarked that this national poetry was 
almost entirely the poetry of man, whereas the Minne- 
gesang was the poetry of woman. While we admire 
the gentleness, the modesty, the feminine sensibility of 
the latter, the manly strength, the vehemence and 
rapidity of the former must not be underrated. It was 
this sort of poetry, then, that filled every mouth and 
every heart, from the hoary veteran to the lisping 
infant, during the second half of the fourteenth, the 

H 2 


fifteenth, and, above all, the sixteenth century. Num- 
berless were the pieces composed in it. Like the Minne- 
poetrjj 300 years before, it resounded, but in louder 
tones, through every village and town of the land. At 
the beginning of the sixteenth century, when it was 
almost entirely oral, it had reached its zenith. It was 
not till the middle of that century that collections 
began to be made; and twenty-five years later, pe- 
dantry, and a taste for everything foreign, began to tell 
upon it prejudicially. So that productions in national 
poetry dating from the beginning of the seventeenth 
century remind us of the modern attempts in the same 
line, in which J. H. Voss and even Schiller failed. It 
was a case of poems for the people, instead of poems 
out of the people. In the palmy days of erudite poetry, 
i. e., during the seventeenth century and at the begin- 
ning of the eighteenth, the Yolkslied was utterly 
forgotten and despised. It was reserved for Herder, 
in his book on German Art, and in his " Volkerstim- 
men," to point out these forgotten gems. Goethe fol- 
lowed, addressing himself to this sort of material with 
all the power of his poetical genius. His lyrical pieces 
are evidence of this ; indeed, it is in the treatment of 
topics of popular caste that he shines most conspicuous. 

It is from these Volkslieder, that Burger derives the 
best features of his compositions ; while his worst are 
due to forced and unnatural imitations of them. 
" Leonora" is of tlie former class ; of the latter, the 
" Daughter of the Pastor of Taubenhain." But it was 
a long time before the Volkslied asserted for itself 
that influence generally, which it must have if a peo- 


pie's poetical feeling is sound. The illuminati of the 
latter part of the last century were no friends of 
poetry, least of all of Folk-poetry. Herder and Goethe 
came in for a good share of their ridicule and indigna- 
tion; while Campe pronounced the inventor of the 
spinning-wheel to be an immeasurably greater man 
than the poet of the " Iliad" and the " Odyssey." 

The bookseller Nicolai also had his fling at the 
VoUislied in a couple of Almanacs, but to little 
purpose. It was not, however, tiU thirty years after 
Herder that Clemens Brentano, in conjunction with 
Achim von Arnim, edited the " Wunderhorn," a most 
choice collection of pieces of the fifteenth and six- 
teenth centuries, which placed German Folk-poetry in 
that commanding position which it has never ceased to 
occupy since in the eyes of all good judges. The worst 
part about this book is the corruptness of the text, bits 
of the genuine old Volkslied being often mixed up 
with more modern lucubrations. 

L. Uhland is also the editor of another capital col- 
lection of the same kind.* Of less note are the collec- 

* "Alte Hoch- und Nieder-deutsohe Volkslieder," &o., Lud-wig 
Uhland, vol. 1, in 5 books, 1844-1845. Here are 365 lays, many of 
which, however, do not belong to the period mentioned in the text, e.g. 
the very ancient fragment of a Jagdlied (hunting song) (see note, p. 25), 
and the " Traugemundslied ;'' as also a number of hymns, and, among 
others, Luther's " Bin fester Burg." This excellent collection, however, 
includes a third part about of the lays most sung in the fifteenth and 
sixteenth centuries; although it omits some of the most famous Lands- 
knecht songs. Even Uhland has omitted " Gott griiss dich Bruder 
Veite," " Es geht ein frischer Sommer daher," aud others. 

Of the numerous collections of songs of the sixteenth century, only 
one has been reprinted, viz. " Liederbuchlein, darrnnen 260 allerhand 
schoner weltlicher Lieder," 1582 (also 1578 and 1584), under the odd 

M 3 


tions of "Wolf, Soltau, and Korner. There is only one 
living German poet — Heinrich Hoffman von Fallers- 
leben — who has succeeded in reproducing the old 
Volkslied ; and this he has done to admiration. 

Our history must now return to the fourteenth and 
fifteenth centuries, when we find the first germs of the 

Between the decay of Minne-poetry and the appear- 
ance of the Volksliedj there are several intermediate 
productions which represent the transition from the 
quiet descriptive poetry of the older period, with its 
refinements of expression and thought, to the more 
.lively and bouncing tones of Folk poetry. 

Some of the later Minne-singers, such as Counts 
Wolkenstein, and von Montford, now and then give 
forth tones, which remind us of the coming poetry. 
The same may be said of the not unfrequent inter- 
locutory pieces between two lovers, which have much 
of the familiar, hearty, and lively spirit of the Volks- 
lied ; e.g. the piece called " Empfahen," where a girl 
begias, " Willkomm, mein liebstes ein " (Welcome, my 
dearest). He replies, " Genad traut Fraulein rein " 
(I greet thee, maiden, tender and true). " Where 
hast thou been, wanderer, so long away from me ? 
How has it fared with thee the while?" " Nought 
pleased me, though I saw full much to please." 
" Hast ever thought on me ?" " Lady, on thee my 

title of "Das Amtraser Liederbuch vom 1582," edited by Bergmann, 
Stuttgart, 1845. A unique copy of the edition of 1582 is preserved 
at Vienna ; it was printed at Frankfort. 


thought hath ever been." " Art sure, wast constant 
ever?" " I swear it." " Sure ! that glads my heart." 
" Lady, 'tis true." Many of these amoebaean pieces 
were set to the music of the trumpet or horn,* and the 
effect was remarkably good. Another class of poems 
now commences, which subsequently plays no unim- 
portant part, and which, though in the form of the 
Minnelied, are in substance Volkslieder — we mean the 
drinking songs. The Minne poetry, and indeed the 
whole poetry of the thirteenth century, had nothing of 
the kind, with the exception of a humorous piece, called 
" Weinschwelg." One of these drinking songs runs 
thus : " Wine, wine, from the Rhine, very clear and 
fine. Thy colour gleams with light, like crystal or ruby 
bright. Thou givest medicine for sorrow. Then pour 
out wine and drink, dear Katie, mine. Eed cheeks 
.makest thou. Olden foes thou reconcil'st ; the Augus- 
tines and Beguines. Both forget their pain and sorrow ; 
and their — German, their — Latin too." 

Akin to these are the numerous apostrophes to wine, 
e.g. that by the humorous writer, Hans Eosenbliit, be- 
ginning ',' Nun gesegn dich Gott, du lieber Eidgesell " 
(Now bless thee God, thou comrade dear, thy name is 
Tickle-gum, &c.). f 

During the whole of this period, but principally at 
the end of the fourteenth and beginning of the fifteenth 

* The lay here cited stands, -with others, in Hofflnann's "I'undgr.," 
i. 383. Compare Wackernagel, " Lesehuch," i. sp. 969-972. 

t "Der ■Weinschwelg" is in the Brothers Grimm's "Altdentsche 
Walder," iii. 13. Compare Wackemagel, " Lesebueh," i. sp. 575. Ten 
Weingriisse, of Eosenbliits, with the ten corresponding Weinsegen, are 
in Haupt and Hoffmann's " Altd. Blatter,'' p. 401. ' 

M 4 


century, religious poetry was written with much suc- 
cess. The old Minne-poetry had also its religious side ; 
chiefly in the Lobesange and Leiche . of Gottfried von 
Strassburg and others. But whereas in them the writer 
did not get beyond mere abstract reflections and descrip- 
tions of heavenly things, religious poetry now became 
something much more real, depicting what the writer 
had himself experienced and felt. Such, for example, 
is the beautiful lay, " Himmelreich ich freu mich 
dein," &c. (Realms of Heaven, what joy is yours; 
would that I might there behold Jesus and his Mother 
dear, our beauteous Lady ; and the Angels with the 
crowns singing so prettily. How happy must they be ; 
God is so loveable.") * The same features are observ- 
able in many of the religious poems of Heinrich von 
Lauflenberg and the monk of Salzburg, who lived 
at the end of the fourteenth and the beginning of the 
fifteenth centiuy.f 

From the tenth to the fifteenth century, macaronic 
verse is often met with. Such is the Christmas hymn, 
which has, however, a thoroughly national tone about 
it, beginning, " In dulci jubilo, nun singet und seid 

* The lay, " Hommelrtche ich frowe mich din," is printed in "Wacker- 
agel, i. 893. 

t The Benedictine Johannes (or Hermann) of Salzhurg lived in the 
second half of the fourteenth century. Haapt and HofEmann, "Alt. BL," 
ii. 325. Heinrich von Lauffenhurg, priest at Freiburg, in the Breisgau, 
and, subsequently to 1445, belonging to the Johanniter Monastery at 
Strasburg, Uved in the first half of the fifteenth century. Aufsesz " Anz." 
1832, sp. 41. See poems by both writers in P. Wackemagel, " Das 
deutsche Kirchcnlied," 1841. The most important treatise on the 
spiritual poems before the Eeformation is HofiFmann's " Geschiohte de 
deutschen Kirchenliedes bis auf Luther's Zeit," 1832 and 1854. 


froh; unsers Herzens Wonne liegt in prsesepio, und 
leuchtet wie die Sonne matris in gremio. Alpha es 
et O. Alpha es et 0." 

" In dulci juMo, let the glad song flow ; 
Our heart's delight lies in prsesepio, 
Like the sun so bright, matris in gremio. 
Alpha art and 0. Alpha art and 0." 

This song, dating from the middle of the fifteenth 
century, so expressive of a whole people's joy, was 
preserved unaltered in the Evangelical church of Ger- 
many for centuries, and only ceased to be sung at 
Christmas a few years ago. 

In the period now under consideration, as well as in 
that antecedent to it. Didactic poetry was nearly allied 
to lyric poety. On it we see clearly stamped the cha- 
racter of the whole period : the transition from the 
artificial to the popular and simple, and the final pre- 
ponderance of the latter. In the fourteenth century 
there were still two poets, who with all their stiffness 
in form and material, most strongly remind us of the 
thirteenth century and the good days of poetry. We 
mean Heinrich der Teichner, an Austrian, a tender 
and imaginative gnomic poet (spruchdichter),* and 
Peter Sachenwirt, also an Austrian.f 

Another sort of poem is what may be called the 
riddle-poem, e. g. the " Traugemundslied," {i. e. Inter- 

* See " "Wiener Jahrb." 1818, i. Supplement, p/26. Poems of his are 
printed in Docen's "Miscell." ii. 228, and in Lassherg's "Liedersaal." 
A collection was made by Karajan, 1855. 

t Primisser's "Peter Suchenwiits Werke," 1827. Compare Kober- 
stein's"ireber die Sprache des Sucheuwirt," 1828; "QusestionesSuchen- 
wirtianae," 1842. 

K 5 


preter song), the questions in which resemble those in 
the text of the " Dessau March," though they are more 
poetical. " Now, tell me, Master Traugemunt, two- 
and-seventy lands thou know'st, what makes the Rhine 
so deep ? What makes the women so charming ? 
"What makes the meadows so green? What makes 
the knights so bold ? If thou canst tell me this, I'll 
think you a fine feUow." " Thou'st come to the right 
man. From many a source the Rhine is deep; 'tis 
love that makes the women charm. From many a root 
the meadows are green. From many a wound the 
knights are bold."* Another sort of poem, in which 
the popular wisdom delighted to appear from the four- 
teenth till the end of the sixteenth century, and which 
even now is not quite obsolete, was the Priamel, (from 
praeambulum, prelude,) which, after a set of antecedent 
sentences, often winds up with a pithy little remark, 

" He who will wash a rayen white. 

And does the same with all his might, 

Or by the sun-light dry the snow, 

And box up all the winds that blow; 

Who'll cry, 'Bad luck, who'll buy, who'll buy?' 

To shave bald pates industrious try. 

To make fools wise will undertake, — 

Why, he's an ass, and no mistake." 


" Bohemian monk and Suabian nun ; 
Indulgence from Carthusian won ; 
A Polish bridge, and Wendish truth; 
Tor stolen hens a gypsy's ruth ; 

* This poem, which rests in part on very ancient tradition, and be- 
longs to the minstrel poetry, was first published in the third volume of 
"Miiller's Collection;" then by Grimm in the "Altd. Walder," ii. 8-30; 
also in " Wackemagel," i. sp. 831; and Uhland's work mentioned above. 


Italian reverence, Spaniard's oatli ; 
A German fast, a Cologne maid ; 
A daughter handsome, tut a jade ; 
Red beard, or how of alder made j — 
For these thirteen, or twice as many, 
No one would give a half-penny." 

In many of these Priamels there is often much wit 
and truth mixed up with great vulgarity.* 

At the end of the period tow being discussed, 
satire begins to makes its appearance ; but we shall 
defer our description of it, as well as the " Schwanke/' 
" Possen/' and " Volksbiicher/' till the sixteenth cen- 
tury, which was pre-eminently the period of German 
comedy and satire. 

In this age we also find the beginnings of German 
dramatic poetry. "With the Germans, as with the 
Greeks, the drama rose out of religious worship. On 
the anniversary of the Passion, the Gospel history of 
our Saviour's sufferings and death was declaimed by 
eeveral persons, each of whom represented those who 
were present at the scene, as the' Apostles, Herod, 
Pilate, the High Priest, &c., whilst the Priest spoke 
the words of our Saviour. This used to be done from 
the twelfth to the seventeenth century in Roman Ca- 
tholic and Evangelical Churches. The speakers soon 

* The form of the Priamel goes hack to the twelfth century, and is 
also met with in the Scandinavian Havamal. Some of the sayings 
in Preidank's " Bescheidenheit " have the same shape; W. Grimm, 
"Freidank," p. cxxii. later Priamels of the fifteenth century are 
printed in Esohenburg's "Denkmaler," -1799, p. 385. Some of the 
sixteenth century are in Kirchhof 's " Wendunmut," 1565, and elsewhere. 
A collection of fifteenth century Priamels is printed hy Keller in " Alte 
gute Schwanke," 1847. 

M 6 


began to wear costume ; and, at the same time, the 
speaking, no doubt, became acting. The language used 
was principally Latin ; the place, the church. The text 
of the Gospels was not strictly adhered to. It was 
abbreviated and versified; and interpolations made 
in it from the ecclesiastical traditions. The clergy 
arranged the text, indeed, they superintended the whole 
affair. Even at an early period, hymns and bits of 
recitative in German were interspersed. The Lament 
of Mary under the Cross was, perhaps, the first part 
that was thus Germanised. So, then, the drama of 
Germany was in its commencement religious, and, of 
course, tragic. But, in the fourteenth century, with 
this tragic element a comic one was likewise combined. 
This part was sustained partly by the covetous Judas, 
partly by the merchant, who sells spices to the women 
on their way to the tomb of the Saviour, and who ap- 
pears in the exact character and costume of a travelling 
quacksalver, or cheap jack of the day. The Church, 
impatient of this profanation of ecclesiastical and holy 
things, issued numerous decretals on the subject. 
Several of these, dating from the thirteenth and four- 
teenth century, drawn up by bishops and provincial 
synods, still survive. In them all acting in churches, 
and unseemly dresses and jokes, are strictly forbidden. 
The representation was consequently removed from the 
church to the open air, and assumed a more popular 
shape. Latin made way for German verse ; and the 
Church seems rather to have favoured these represen- 
tations, so long as they were under the management 
of the clergy and temporal authorities. Indeed, such 


plays of the " Passion " and " Resurrection " continued 
to be acted in some places till late in the eighteenth 
century. And in Southern Bavaria they have been 
revived of late, not without success* 

The transactions which took place at the birth of 
Christ were also represented; e. g., the song of the 
angels, the finding of Christ by the shepherds, the 
adoration of the magi ; as well as parts of the parables. 
Thus the history of the five wise and five foolish virgins 
was represented by certain monks at Eisenach, in the 
year 1322. The exclusion of the five foolish virgins 
made such an impression on Frederick Margi-ave of 
Meissen, who was present, that he was struck with 
apoplexy a few days after. In the latter part of the 
fourteenth century the events in the lives of various 
saints came also to be thus represented. These religious 
dramas have received the name of Mysteries in France, 
Italy, and England; but the usual name in Grermany 
"was always Spiel. 

Although there wais sufficient evidence to prove that 
Passion and Easter Plays were very commonly played 
In Germany, especially in the central part of It, and 
this not In towns only, but also In villages ; yet, even 
till a very recent period few complete texts were dis- 
coverable, and these only of Easter Playsf and Plays 

* In Ober-Ammergaii, a secluded spot in the Bavarian Tyrol, a 
Passions-spiel is thus represented. — Editor. 

t An Easter play of the fifteenth century is printed in Hoffmann's 
"Fundgr.," ii. 298. (Extracts preTiously in Wackernagel, "Lesebuch," 
1835, p. 781). Another, of the fourteenth century, is inMone's "Alt.- 
deutsche Schauspiele," 1841. A third, in Mone's "Schauspiele des 
Mittelalters," 1846, vol. ii. pp. 33-106. The last is repeated by Ettmiiller, 
"Dat spil fan der npstandige," 1851. 


of Saints* Perhaps in some cases the dialogue was 
traditional, and did not require to be written down ; at 
least only the beginning words of the speeches. T^is 
is the case with a play which was performed at Franlc- 
fort, where the stage directions are written in Latin. 
The more important portions only would be written at 
length, as the " Lament of Mary," or those parts that 
differed from the old-established form. It was not till 
the year 1842 that a perfect Passion Play was dis- 
■covered. This was formerly played at Alsfeld.f Since 
then two others have been found. 

In these pieces we must not look for a great display 
of art. There is a falling off alike in the language and 
the versification. The " Lament of Mary" is the best 
part. " Alas ! Death, this anguish thou could' st end, 
would'st thou but send thy messengers hither to me. 
,0h! woe is me, Death will part us. Death, take us 
both, that He may not mourn alone. Child of my heart, 
the light of thine eyes has paled. Thy might and thy 
strength is gone. "Woe is me! my beloved Son. Alas! 
for Thy great agony. Oh woe ! how sadly dost Thou 

* A play of St. Dorothea is given in Hoffmann, "Fundgr." ii. 284; 
of the Ascension of the Virgin, in Mone, "Alt-d. Schansp. ;" also ibid, u 
Corpus Christi play. With these we may include the history, in the 
form of dialogue, of Theophilus, printed in Brun's "Eomant. Ged.," 
1798, p. 288. 

t Vilmar inserted specimens of this play in Haupt's " Zeitsohrift f. 
Alterthum," 1843, ili. 477. Gervinus (ii. 370) notices a Passion play 
in the Heidelberg Library (Cod. Pal. 402). A Passion play of the 
fourteenth century, has since been published by Mone, " Schauspiele des 
Mittelalters," 1846, vol. i. p. 72 ; one of the fifteenth, ibid., ii. 183 ; also 
a play on the Infancy of Jesus, ibid., i. 143 ; of the Burial of Christ, ii. 
131 ; of the Ascension, i. 254; and of the Last Judgment, 273, 


hang. Oh woe ! how Thou dost wrestle with Death. 
Oh woe ! how Thy limbs quiver. Alas ! what shall I, 
poor woman, do, since I saw my Child suffer so great 
pain. In this hour a sword doth pierce to the very bot- 
tom of my heart ; Simeon's cruel sword. It hath found 
me out. In this hour abundant pain is mine. Ah ! my 
beloved ChUd, speak one word; say I am Thy mother. 
Alas ! He cannot ; He is dead. Oh ! thou hard cross- 
tree, what misery thou hast wrought me. Didst thou 
but know what hangs on thee, thou would'st fold thine 
arms together, and let my poor Son rest." 

John leads the wailing mother down from the cross ; 
but hardly has she departed when Jesus exclaims, " Eli, 
Eli, lama sabachthani ?" and the mother cries in touch- 
ing accents, " Oh ! woe is me, I hear a cry ; that was 
my Child that called out in his anguish ;" and then she 
hastens back to the cross and remains there till consum- 
matum est. The modern features in these plays which 
are most worthy of noting are the dispute between the 
merchant who has sold the ointment to Mary Magdalen 
and Maria Salome, and his wife; and the higgling 
between Judas and Caiaphas, who has paid him the 
thirty pieces in base coin. So also one of the best 
parts in the Alsfeld Passion Play is a quaint scene 
where Mary Magdalen, before her conversion, gives 
herself up to worldly delights. She adorns herself 
before a glass, sings jovial songs, dances immoderately, 
and after tiring one partner out, says, " Yes, yes, sir, 
you're tired out. Can't I dance though. As many 
as you please. I'll serve you all alike." 


There is one curious Mystery about Pope Joan, 
entitled "Ein schcin Spiel von Frau Jutten." The 
author of which is said to have been one Theodorich 
^chemberg, a town clergyman. This piece, however, 
is not, as might be expected, of a comic nature, but 
quite of a serious cast. A troop of demons with very 
strange names, which also recur in the Alsfeld play, 
entices Joanna to commit the fraud, for which she 
afterwards does penance.* 

Out of this mixture of the tragic and comic element 
there sprung tragedy and comedy, properly so called. 
The first specimens of the latter were the Fastnacht- 
spiele, or Shrove-tide plays. These were of the nature 
of low farce ; witty, but coarse and obscene. Several 
specimens remain, the composition of two writers: 
Hans Kosenbllit, of Nuremburg (mentioned above as 
the author of drinking songs), and called Schnepperer f 
from his ribaldry ; and Hans Folz, a barber, also of 
Nuremberg, though born at Worms, t 

* Schemberg's (or Schemteck's) play of " Frau Jutte " is said to 
date from 1480, and was published at Eisleben, by EQeronymus Tilesius, 
in 1565. It -was reprinted in Gottscbed's " Notiger Vorrat," &c. 1757- 
1765, vol. il p. 81, and lately in Keller's " Fastnacbt-spiele," ii. 900. 

f Kosenbliit lived in the middle of tbe fifteenth century. A number 
of his sayings (Spriicbe) are given by Keller, ibid., 1083-1195. Six of 
his dramas, more correctly, stories in dialogue, are given by Gottsched, 
ibid., ii. 43 ; two in Tieck's " Deutsches Theater ;" a seventh, from a 
Munich MS., has been published by Margraff. , 

J He lived about 1480. His Eastnachtspiele, and numerous jests, 
are only preserved in print. Many are in Keller, iii. 1195, scg. Gervinus 
and Koberstein make him to have written as early as 1447. This is 
more than doubtful. Of his tale, " Pfarrer im Loch," he does not say 
that it was written in 1447, but only that the incident on which it is 
based occurred in that year. All the known Fastnachtspiele of the 


If we are to judge from what took place in this 
respect with the Greeks, the time for the rise of the 
German drama is now arrived. Epic has had its run, 
and is complete and finished. Lyric poetry followed ; 
and the period is now at hand when objective and 
subjective poetry penetrate into dramatic representa- 
tions. But, as compared with Greece, Germauy has 
this disadvantage ; that the first germs of its drama 
appeared at a time when all the old national memories 
were becoming obsolete ; when literature and every- 
thing was gone to the bad ; a time when much hap- 
pened, but nothing was done. And hence it was that 
the germs were choked and no such thing as a national 
drama was formed. And although many times sub- 
sequently a national drama seemed on the point of 
coming into existence, it always came to nothing. 

All that now remains is to say a few words about 
the Prose of this period. The works on history must 
first be mentioned. The peculiar merit of the chronicle 
writers of the fourteenth and fifteenth century, is their 
simple unpretending style of narrative, a style well 
suited to the facts they relate. Upon the whole, the 
historians of the fourteenth are superior to those of the 
fifteenth century, in fluency and flexibility of style. 
Most distinguished in this respect are the Strasburg 
chroniclers, Friederich Closener, who Kved in the 

fifteenth century (by Eosenbliit, Tolz, Gengenbach, Schemberg, and 
otters), amounting to 121 in all, were published, -with good commen- 
taries, by Keller, in three volumes, 1853. Most of them are revoltingly 
rude, and do not contain a particle of poetry. 


middlej* and Jacob Twinger who lived at the close of 
the fourteenth century.f Next to these In merit are 
the " Limburg Chronicle,"| a portion of the Hersfeld 
History, by an anonymous writer ; Johann Eiedesel's § 
Hessian Chronicle, and Peter Eschenloer,|l a Silesian 
historian of the fifteenth century. The Swiss chronicles 
of Diebold Schilling and Petermann Etterlin,! written 
at the end of the fifteenth century, are much harder in 
style, and still more so is the strange allegorical history 
of the reign of Frederick III., and Maximilian I., 
entitled " Der Weisskunig." The author of this work, 
as of " Theuerdank," was most likely the Emperor Maxi- 
milian himself ; the redaction of it being confided to his 
secretary Treitz-sauerwein. The best part of it are 
the excellent wood-cuts by Hans Burgmaier. Both 
manuscripts and wood-cuts lay unprinted for nearly 
three hundred years, and were not put in the press till 
the year 1775. 

* Priest and Choral Vicar at the Cathedral of Strashurg. He finished 
his "Chronicle" ia 1362. It is the first prose chronicle of universal 
,6erman history, and was published by the Literary Society of Stuttgart 
in 1842. 

t Extracts of Twinger's "Chronicle" were published by Schilter in 

J In its original shape this "Chronicle" reaches to 1398. The author 
was the Limburg Town Clerk Tilemann (Emmel ?). It was pubhshed . 
in 1619 by Faust v. Aschaffenburg ; then in 1720 and 1826 (1828). In 
the two last editions the language is modernized. 

§ This began with the year 1232, and reached to 1327. The author 
was probably tutor of Count John of Ziegenhain (1334-1341). It is 
only preserved in Gerstenberger's (1522) version. 

II "Geschichten der Stadt Breslan," &c. 1440-1479, ed. Kunisch 
1827. Eschenloer died 1481. 

*[ Schilling was of Bern, and wrote the " Burgundian "Wars of 1468- 
1480;" first printed in 1743. Etterlia wrote a "Chronica der Eidgenos- 
senschaft," printed 1507. 


After the Historical prose comes the Didactic-ascetic 
prose, which however in point of pliancy and softness 
surpasses the former. Its chief subject was the mystic 
theology of the day; the" scholastic theology being 
written in Latin. While the schoolmen treated chiefly 
of knowledge and learning, the Mystics turned their 
attention for the most part to the perfection (ausbildung) 
of the inner man. Briefly, they wished to possess Christ 
himself, rather than know much about Christ's doc- 
trines ; they used the mother tongue as the best means 
of expressing the strength and truth of their feelings, 
and thus attained to a correctness, dexterity, and 
perspicacity of expression, which still command our 
admiration, while there is a poetic tinge about their 
style strongly reminding us of the Franciscan Berthold 
mentioned above, page 215. In some respects this 
mystic school was a forerunner of the Keformation. 
Of its numerous treatises, collections of aphorisms, and 
of rules for a contemplative life, sermons, and so forth, 
a few only will here be mentioned. In the first half 
of the fourteenth century we meet with the chiefs of 
the party in Germany. Such were Heinrich Seusse, 
commonly called Suso, whose writings excel in fervour, 
depth, and tenderness, in cheerful and genuine piety, 
while no work of the period* surpasses them in 
harmonious polish and flexibility of style. Next comes 
Johann Tauler (properly Taler), the celebrated monk- 

* Heinrich von Berg, called Seusse (Suso), after the name of his 
mother, with his monastic name, Amaudus, was born, 1300, at Kostnitz. 
In his thirteenth year he entered the Dominican order, and died at Ulm, 
1365. His works were printed in 1482 and 1512, and published in 
modern language by M. Diepenbrock. 


preacher of Cologne and then of Strasburg, whose 
sermons in force, depth, and truth, are hardly to be 
surpassed.* The following times of polemic theology 
and abstruse dialectics ignored him. John Eck, the 
head of the schoolmen of the sixteenth century, on the 
Roman Catholic side, and Theodore Beza on the 
Eeformed side, thought but little of Tauler. It was 
reserved for Ph. J. Spener to be the first to acknow- 
ledge his merits.f The works of both these remark- 
able men, Seusse and Tauler, have lately been 
modernized to the detriment occasionally of the style. 

The following books of devotion also, though often 
tiresome from the quantity of allegories, abound in 
excellent passages. Hermann von Fritzlar's "Lives 
of the Saints ;"| Otto von Passau's " Four and Twenty 
Elders, or the Golden Throne of the Loving Soul," 
belonging to the fourteenth century ; also " The Four 
and Twenty Harps," an imitation of Otto of Passau's 
work ; and " The Treasure Holder, or Shrine of true 
Kiches," belonging to the fifteenth century. 

At the conclusion of this period there was a remark- 
able preacher, Johann Geiler, called of Keisersberg, 
who was one of the last of the mystic school, and, like 
Tauler, resided at Strasburg. He died, March 10, 
1510, and is buried in Strasburg Minster. His 

* Tauler was torn about 1290, and died at Strasburg, 1361. His 
sermons were first published in 1498 ; an enlarged edition in 1521 ; and 
by Spener in 1688 j frequently in modern times. , 

t Twenty-five of Tauler's sermons have lately appeared in an English 
dress, with a preface by Kingsley. — Editor. 

J " Deutsche Mystiker des 14 Jahrhunderts," ed. T. Pfeiffer, 1845, 
vol. i. It contains Fritzlar and Nikolaus of Strasburg, as well as David 
of Augsburg, who belonged to the thirteenth century. See note, p. 215. 


celebrity was equal to that of Tauler, who preceded 
him by one hundred and fifty years. In the first half 
of his work, entitled " Granatapfel " (Pomegranate), 
where he treats of man in his beginning, progress, and 
perfection, the style is like Tauler's ; and yet he differs 
from Tauler and the elder mystics by entering more 
exactly into Bible history, whence arises a more de- 
cided influence upon the outer life. Hence the style 
here is more vigorous, and more in the popular vein than 
that of his predecessors. This is still more the case in 
other works, where he attacks the depravity of morals, 
the luxury and voluptuousness of the age, and the 
worldliness of the spiritual class. Now and then, his 
descriptions appear strange, and even comic. Thus his 
pulpit definition of " bishop," which was repeated so 
many times in the sixteenth century. " In his opinion 
it was derived from ' Beisschaf ' (bite-sheep), because, 
in the present day, instead of feeding their sheep, the 
bishops bit and devoured them like so many savage dogs 
and wolves." Elsewhere he. compares the life of a 
Christian man with that of a hare, and in a series of 
discourses carries out the comparison in detail. A hare 
runs better uphill than down; so a Christian man, and 
especially a monk, ought to run better and more dili- 
gently uphill in good works to God the Father, than 
downhill after his lusts. The hare has long ears; so 
a Christian, and especially a monk, ought to have long 
ears to hear what God says. The hare is roasted, so 
the spiritual hare must be roasted in the fire of adver- 
sity. , The hare is lai'ded, for it is but dry and lean 
eating by itself; so the spiritual hare, that he may not 


be dried up in the fire of sufferings, must be larded 
with the fat of devotion and love. Bizarre as this may 
appear, and indeed is, yet we forget the strangeness of 
it not only in the preacher's genuine and fervent zeal, 
but also in the extreme cleverness with which he car- 
ries out the comparison. 

At one time people would only admit of there having 
been this one real preacher before Luther ; but we have 
seen that this was not the case. At the same time 
there is no doubt that Geiler was the sole popular 
preacher whose sermons are extant of the days just 
before Luther. Most popular in style are those ser- 
mons of his which were written down by Johann Pauli, 
the Franciscan monk. 

All the other prose of this period, especially the 
translations of foreign works, is far behind that of his- 
tory and the pulpit. The old translation of the Bible 
before Luther's, of which up to the year 1520 there 
appeared fourteen editions, bears the impress of the 
mystic school. Upon the whole it is smoother and 
softer than that of Luther, to which for this very reason 
it is inferior, although here and there it may have the 
advantage. The old translation of Boccacio, and the 
writings of Albrecht von Eybe, and Nicolaus von 
Wyle, are stiff and clumsy from too close an adherence 
to the original. 

The sixteenth century and the first twenty-four 
years of the seventeenth century are comprised in the 
period now to be treated o£ In the struggle which 
henceforward takes place between modem ideas and 


the worn-out elements of the past, the last embers of 
the old poetical national consciousness become utterly- 
extinguished. Even in the thirteenth century there 
were indications of this in the improper preponderance 
of art-poetry over natural-poetry. In the fourteenth 
and fifteenth centuries, as we have seen, this art- 
poetry was entirely beaten out of the field, and to it 
succeeded a New kind of Popular Poetry, which, 
though incomparably behind the Old Popular Poetry 
in extent, depth, and fulness, was, nevertheless, 
fresh and vigorous. In the sixteenth century the Old 
Folk-poetry utterly disappears, and this New Folk- 
poetry rapidly rose to perfection. But before long it 
in its turn succumbed. 

The chief causes of its downfal were, the exclusive 
domination now assumed by learning, and the sharp dis- 
tinction drawn between the learned and unlearned, the 
encroachments of polemical theology upon literature 
generally, the introduction of foreign laws, and the 
altered position of the state ensuing thereon — against all 
these novelties it was unable to maintain its ground. 
Attacked, confined, despised, and oppressed on all sides, 
it is forced to retire, and in the place of the Old Art 
poetry and the Old and New Popular Poetry, we 
have the Learned Poetry of the modern time, with 
Martin Opitz at its head. In, the midst of the Babel 
of sounds that now ensues, there is heard one pure 
genuine German note, high and clear above the rest 
This is the " Evangelical Church Hymn." 

As aforesaid, there was a general fight going on 
between the Old and the New in every department — 


in religious and ecclesiastical matters — in morals and 
public life — in politics and jurisprudence. But in the 
department of national literature there is not alone a 
destruction of the old, but also a creation of what is 
new. Two phenomena catch our attention. A novel 
kind of Prose now arises, the expression of a new-world 
consciousness — a prose which was to be the standard 
and the rule of all prose compositions for centuries to 
come. And, secondly, we behold the development of 
Comedy and Satire. Wherever these two have come 
out strongly, it was a sign that two worlds, an old 
and. a new, were in' the throes of separation. With 
Aristophanes the old Greek world came to an end. 
The world of Hellenic deeds closed, and the world of 
Hellenic thought began. And so it is that in German 
literature Johann Fischart stands as the landmark 
between the old and the new German world. Thus 
likewise Persius and Juvenal stand on the boundary 
between the old Roman world-sovereignty and the 
new Greco-Eroman life of the Empire. 

These two phenomena, then, are so essentially 
peculiar to the sixteenth century, that, though it pos- 
sesses much in common with the two preceding cen- 
turies, it must be considered by itself as a separate period. 

From the above it appears that it is clearly an his- 
torical mistake to say with the moderns — chiefly those 
of the Eomish party — that the sixteenth century 
arbitrarily destroyed all the recollections of the old and 
better German period from mere lust of revolution ; 
or that they ignored and suppressed all the grand old 
literature out of hatred to Popery. The glory of the 


ancient literature had long before this been dimmed.. 
The German world had long been quite dead to the 
nobler gratification afforded by the poetry of former 
centuries ; and so the writers of the sixteenth century 
threw away the faded wreath, and forsaking a path 
which was no longer tenable, struck out a new line, 
more according with the spirit of the age. The inter-< 
ruption to the progress of German literary culture is 
much to be lamented; but not less so the degeneracy 
of national consciousness and the utter destruction of 
national recollections, the loss of political greatness and 
political truth, the severance of the old bands of love 
and gratitude between emperor and prince, prince 
and nobility, nobility and peasants. All this was on 
the point of taking place in the sixteenth century, but 
the blame of it must not be attached solely to the 
century and its ecclesiastical events. 

Theological polemics, it is true, were inimical to the 
interests of German national poetry ; but the foe of all 
others most destructive to . it, for the time being, was 
the taste for classic erudition, for Greek and E,oman 
philology, which now set in with a zeal and energy 
truly marvellous : so much so that the sixteenth cen- 
tury is acknowledged to be the golden age of the 
philologers. For some time the national element was 
thrown into the shade by the classical and foreign one. 
At last, however, after a long and tedious process, an 
amalgamation of the two was effected; and after a 
period of three hundred years, we have the second 
classical period of German poetry. Indeed, it is pos- 
sible that, had not the Greeks and Romans held un- 
disputed sway over German literature for so many 


centuries, its modern revival could never have been 
effected : but of this hereafter. 

While the study of Greek and Roman philology was 
thus in the ascendant, nothing would go down but 
what savoured of the ancient classics. Public life 
became, so to say, a great school for making Latin 
speeches and Latin verses. The real world of action 
and fact was thrown into the shade by an unreal world 
of books. The poetry of the people, under such cir- 
cumstances, was looked upon pretty much in the same 
light as the invading Komans regarded the poetry of 
the ancient Germans. In the sixteenth century "a, 
German poet " was a term of reproach. Instead of the 
history of their forefathers, the young generation had 
nothing but cramped compendiums of the history of 
foreign nations placed before them. It seemed, in fact, 
to be the policy of that age — a policy of which Germany 
still shows the evil effects — to denationalize the people 
as much as possible, and make so many antique, 
heathens of them, as far as thought and feeling were 

But although German popular poetry thus deceased, 
it made a merry end of it. Unaware of its impending 
dissolution, unconcerned about the contempt and indif- 
ference it encountered almost universally amoncr the 
higher classes, its sallies were as lively, as boisterous, 
as unrestrained as of yore. The split that separated 
North and South Germany in religious and ecclesi- 
astical matters, and went to the very heart of the 
people, seemed to do it no injury. On the contrary, 
its humour seemed to become more wakeful, more 
animated, in consequence. At first, Protestants and 


Catholics alike preserved the old poetical reminiscences, 
especially the national song (Volkslied.) But at the 
close of the sixteenth century the wounds inflicted on 
the nation began to tell on their poetry. Hencefor- 
ward the poetic power seemed to reside exclusively 
with the Protestants in the North of Germany ; and, 
indeed, from that time to the present, it is only in this 
part of the country that literature generally has taken 
root and flourished. 

We will now proceed to examine the several walks 
of poetry in detail. The old national epic was just 
about to expire. Not only was there nothing new 
written in it, but even the old was forgotten. In the 
sixteenth century, there could scarcely have been a 
soul, except the Emperor Maximilian and his secretary, 
and the learned historian "Wolfgang Lazius, who knew 
a word of the " Nibelungenlied " and " Gudrun." The 
" Heldenbuch " was reprinted several times, it is true, in 
the course of the sixteenth century ; but in the eyes of 
the learned it passed for a barbarous old wives' book ; 
and in the beginning of the seventeenth century it was 
looked upon as a curious piece of antiquity, — indeed, 
many regard it as such now, and not as what it really 
is, a bit of the very life and soul of the people. Several 
of the separate Sagas, e. g. those of Dietrich, were also 
printed ;* but among the learned they were despised 

* The separate sagas were published chiefly in Nuremberg, (" Der 
Riese Sigenot" by V. Neuber, the "HildebrandsUed" by K. Hergotin, 
the "HornenSigfried"byG.Wachter); also in Strasburg (the "Sigenot" 
and " Ecken Ausfart" by Christian Miiller) ; at Frankfort (by Wigand 
Han); occasionally, too, in Lower Germany, but in the Platt-deutsch 
N 2 


even more than the " Heldenbuch." Their small octavo 
form at once indicated that they were only intended 
for the illiterate rabble. Sigfrid's ''Dragon Fight" 
was in the mere form of a broadside. 

The old Art-Epic was likewise all but defunct. It 
IS true, that at the end of the preceding century a 
version of Ovid's " Metamorphoses " by Albrecht von 
Halbergtadt*, a poet of the beginning of the thir- 
teenth century, appeared in print ; as likewise Konrad 
von WUrzburg's pretty tale of " Engelhart and Engel- 
trut." t But the former work found favour chiefly on 
account of its classical contents. It is somewhat sin- 
gular that no MS. of either of these works is to be 

The material of the Artus-saga was also still known ; 
not, however, through the ancient poems, but by the 
prose German versions from the French. But at the 
end of this period, i. e. about 1620 A.D., both National 
and Art Epic fell into oblivion, or at the most were 
only to be found among the miscellaneous stock in 
trade of travelling hawkers. 

dialect (e. g. tlie recently discovered lay of " Ermanrichs Tod "). At 
Nuremberg these sagas kept teing reprinted till late in the seventeenth 
century. In 1661, Endter, of that city, published "Sigenot" and the 
" Hildebrandslied." 

* Written A..D. 1210. This was modernised by Georg "Wikram, and 
in this altered shape the poem went through several editions, e.g. 1545 
and 1581. 

t "Engelhart" is based upon the saga of "Amiens and Amelins." 
Compare If eller, " Le Eoman des Sept Sages," p. ccxxxi., and " Diocle- 
tianus," p. 63, Mone, " Anzeig." 1838, sp. 145. The tale was published, 
in a tolerably modest modernisation, at Frankfort, 1573, by Kilian Han, 
and edited, in 1841, with restored text, by Haupt. 


Of the few story-tellers in verse during this century, 
Hans Sachs*, the cobbler and Melstersinger of Nu- 
remberg, far excels the rest in fertility, liveliness, and 
humour, and in the popular nature of his verse. His 
compositions were of the serious as weU as the jocose 
kind. The former he calls " Histori und Geschicht," 
the latter "Fabeln und gute Schwenk," fables and 
good jokes. This remarkable man was and is the 
best known German poet of the sixteenth century. 
Creative poet and moulder of the spirit of his age he was 
not ; but he possessed uncommon talent for mastering 
any given subject. His style is easy and free from 
stiffness ; his tone is gentle and without exaggeration ; 
while his wit and humour are amusing in the extreme. 
These good qualities are most conspicuous in his 
secular stories. His dramas stand next. The most that 
can be said of his sacred compositions, e. y. versions of 
different parts of the Bible, is that they evince a cer- 
tain mechanical facility in versifying. His Meister- 

* There are three cheap editions of Hans Sachs' works. The first was 
superintendedby himself, in 3 vols, folio, 1558-1561, Nnremherg, George 
Wilier. This eontaias 789 poetic pieces, and was often repuhlished 
down to 1591. The second edition, in 5 toIs. folio, 1570-1579, Nu- 
remberg, J. Lochner. The two last toIs. of this edition contain 580 
new pieces, over and above those in the first edition. The third edition, 
in 5 quarto vols., Kempten, 1612-1617. In 1712 it was republished 
at Augsburg, with a new title. In this, two pieces respecting the 
Evangelical Church are wanting. Bertuch, at Weimar, 1778, and 
Haslein, 1781, and Becker, Gotha, 1821, tried to get up new editions^ 
but failed. Busching's modernized selection, in 5 vols, 1816 — 1824, is 
a failure. Gotz's edition, in 4 vols., 1829-30, is fair upon the whole. 
A reprint of the rare original edition is much wanted. Respecting 
H. Sachs' unprinted works, see a Programme at Leipzig by Naumann, 
1843, and another at Zwickau, by Hertel, 1854.. 
N 3 


gesange are pretty much on a par with those of the 
other writers in this line. It is evident from his verses 
that the old traditional form of the short pair of rhymes 
was not capahle of being restored to its ancient glory. 
Perhaps the new language did not permit of it. In- 
deed, the technical deficiencies so apparent in many 
parts of his verse, indicate that the old German art of 
versification was on the eve of a revolution, such as 
Opitz afterwards introduced. In spite of this, his 
merits as a story-teller cannot he gainsayed. All the 
artificial scribblers of the seventeenth century, and 
all the conceited poetasters of the eighteenth, who pro- 
fessed to look down on the cobbler of Nuremberg, are 
immeasurably inferior to him. In rapidity and anima- 
tion of description, in soundness of feeling and natural- 
ness of expression, he is much above Gellert, and not 
less superior to the writers of the present day, when 
the taste for artificial writing has again revived. How 
simple and yet how vivacious is his " Schlarafienland " 
(Utopia) ; how delicately and yet how inimitably he 
hits off many of the topics of the day. Nothing of the 
kind either in High or Low German at all comes near it. 
Again, his stories of " St. Peter with the Goat " (" St. 
Peter mit der Geiss "), and " The Lazy Peasant Lad " 
(" Der faule Bauemknecht ") : how naive and hearty ; 
how sharp and teUing ! And then, how admirably he 
describes the busy bustling of a quarrelsome woman in 
his " KiflFerbeskraut !" Here a lover of gardening asks 
for advice as to what flowers and vegetables he had 
better plant in his garden. Several sorts of seeds are 
recommended to him, some for show, some for use ; and. 


last of all, some Kifferbsen (summer peas). At the men- 
tion of these he screams out, "O no Kifferbsen, no Kiffer- 
beskraut !* I've enough of that at home. Like weeds, 
it won't be got rid of. It's never frost-bitten in winter, 
never burnt up in summer ; it grows all over the house. 
In the cellar, in the bath, in the kitchen, parlour, 
chamber, Kifferbeskraut gives me endless bother; in 
the cock-loft worst of all. Whatever my wife's about, 
there is this everlasting plague. Whether she is wash- 
ing the children, or carrying water, or baking cakes, 
setting the kitchen to rights, sweeping the house, 
making the beds, cleaning feathers, drying flax in the 
sun, scouring the pans, or having a wash^ the weed 
straight grows apace, tiU I get in such a stew that I'm 
fairly lost. My wife gives me such a lot of it — fills 
me, chokes me with it, so that I devoutly wish it had 
never been sown. Yes, curse it and confound it, root 
and branch ; many a good fellow would be so heartily 

But it is not in domestic scenes only that he excels. 
The peculiarities of artizan life are likewise inimitably 
described. The tailor throws great pieces of cloth to 
the mouse, and is horrified in a dream to see the 
Devil with a huge flag made of aU the odds and 
ends of cloth which he (the tailor) had ever " sent to 
the mouse " (e. e., purloined as his perquisite :) Upon 
this he vows by all that is most sacred he will never 
throw anything to the mouse again. For a long time 

* There is a punning allusion in Kifferbsen to the -vrord " keifeu," 
to scold. To make it intelligible, we may translate it by " scarlet-run- 
ner," which facetious persons might apply to a scolding woman's tongue. 

K 4 


he keeps his vow, till at last he gets a piece of gold 
brocade to make up. The other journeymen tailors 
remind him of the flag ; upon which he observes he 
does not think there is any gold brocade in the flag ; 
and forthwith flies a great piece after the mouse. At 
last the tailor dies, and St. Peter, out of compassion, 
permits him to sit behind the stove in heaven. One 
day, peeping out of his corner down upon the earth 
below, he sees a woman stealing a piece of cloth, and 
hurls the Almighty's footstool at her, which makes her 
hump-backed for life. Presently his escapade is dis- 
covered, and the Lord says to him, " Oh, tailor, tailor ! 
suppose I. had thrown my footstool at you every time 
you stole the folk's cloth and threw it after the mouse. 
Why, your house would not have had a tile left on it 
by this time, and you would have been on crutches, 
with your back bent and legs crooked. How dare 
you throw, then, you vulgar fellow ! " 

Our worthy poet confines himself in this manner to 
a description of the customs and notions actually pre- 
valent among the middle and lower classes, and therein 
displays his poetic powers to considerable advantage. 
He often borrows from other authors, ancient and 
modern, who had become known through the medium 
of translations ; and the wonder is that a cobbler could 
ever have read so much, and that he could have dressed 
up what he borrowed with such propriety. In Ger- 
many the interest taken in him has never been equal 
to his deserts. In the days of the Reformation he 
may be said to have represented the Burgher party, 
which was in favour of that movement, and he enjoyed 


the esteem of Melancthon. His poem, " Die Witten- 
bergische Nachtigall," was written in 1523, in honour 
of the good cause, which he did much to promote among 
the citizens of Nuremberg. 

Among the race of erudite poets that now followed 
he fell into contempt, being considered the very ideal 
of bad rhymers. " Hans Sachse was a cobbler and 
poet all in one," was a line in ererybody's mouth. 
Hoffmannswaldau, however, was alive to his real merits. 
But it was Goethe who emphatically called attention 
to the Volkslied (popular poetry), and the value of 
Hans Sachs. Wieland, too, although he had little in 
common with the poet of Nuremberg, was very sensible 
of his worth. To give an idea of his fertiUty, we may 
mention that, in the months of July, August, and 
September, 1563, i. e., in the poet's sixty-ninth year, 
he wrote four-and-twenty " Geschichten und Schwanke" 
and six religious pieces, besides " Meistergesange," and 
that many of the first-mentioned are among his best 
compositions. From 1514 to 1569 he never relaxed 
this poetical activity, so that it is not difficult to con- 
ceive how that, two years earlier than this (1567), he 
had already written 208 comedies and tragedies, 1,700 
humorous stories (Schwanke), and 4,200 master songs. 
"We have little difficulty in summing them up, for, with 
the business-like habit of a burgher, he not only affixes 
his name to all his pieces, but likewise the year and 
very day of their composition. Of course many of these 
pieces betray symptoms of hurry, and other imperfec- 
tions. But this remark applies least to his printed 
pieces, as he himself selected these from the rest with 

N 5 


the most scrapulous nicety, taking care to exclude 
from the press every one of his master songs. Many 
of the poets of the seventeenth century, and of a still 
later date, would have done well to have imitated him 
in this respect. In his eightieth year, he lost his 
hearing and speech, and became imbecile. One of 
his grateful pupils relates how the old man used to sit, 
his hair and beard snow-white, with his great book 
open on the desk before him, just giving a bow to 
visitors, and regarding them with mild and friendly 
countenance, until at last he fell gently asleep, on the 
25th January 1576, in the eighty-second year of his 

The other noticeable story-teller of the sixteenth 
century is Johann Fischart, named Menzer, who was 
one of the first spirits of the century. His poem, 
which we have here to mention, gives a description of 
the voyage of the Zurich Kifle Club from thence to 
Strasburg, in one day of the month of June 1576 ; 
and, in proof of the rapidity of the transit, a kettle of 
millet broth, which had been cooked at Zurich, was 
still warm when they got to Strasburg. " Das gliick- 
haft Schiff von Ziirich," (the Lucky Ship of Zurich,)* 
is the title of the piece. The descriptions are remark- 
ably truthful and life-like ; the language is noble, and 
full of pith and concentration. Besides, the poet con- 
ceives the whole from a high point of view. It is his 

* It -was re-edited, 1828, by K. Hailing. The explanations in it, 
however, are -worthless, and the catalogue of Ksohart's writings defi- 
cient. Compare the article " Tischart," in the " Allg. Encyclopadie von 
Ersch und Gruher." 


object to show wbat can be done by energy and 
strength of will ; the straightforwardness of the con- 
federate burghers, and the importance of friendly inter- 
course between the different cities, are also put before 
the reader. In fact, the poem is not only the best of 
the narrative kind during this and the two next cen- 
turies, but it is among the best that was ever written 
in this line in German. 

Of the remaining narrative poems of this period none 
deserves to be mentioned. Valentin Andrea, in his 
" Christenburg," attempts to imitate Fischart ; but he 
is much too allegorical and long-winded.* 

Animal Epic also was known to the age which 
we are now describing by the poem " Eeinecke Vos," 
and even the learned world took favourable notice 
of it, but with that taste for satire, then so prevalent, 
only as a species of satirical poetry. This view of It 
originated an entirely new sort of poetry, which, 
though inferior to the genuine animal epic, nevertheless 
exercised a very sensible influence on Germany from 
that day to this. We allude to the so-called " Alle- 
goric-Satiric-Animal " Poem, which holds an interme- 
diate place betweeen Animal Epic and Fable, and is 
peculiar to the period now under consideration. The 
chief specimens in it are G. RoUenhagen's "Frosch- 

* Johann Valentm Andrea was a theologian of importance as far as 
the inner history of the evangelical church is concerned. He ^ras a 
really learned person, and therefore opposed to the useless learning of 
his time. He was greatly admired by Spener, and Herder has called 
special attention to him. His " Christenburg," written 1620, was re- 
discovered lately, and published by Griineisen in- Dlgen's " Zeitschrift 
fur historische Theologie," voL vi. 1. 

H 6 


meuseler," Fischart's "Flohatz/' C. Fuchs' "Ameisen 
und Miickenkrleg," W. Spangenberg's " Ganskonig," 
and Rose von Kreuzheim's " Eselkcinig," the last in 
prose. To some of these the above designation will 
hardly apply. The liveliest and wittiest of them, for 
instance, Fischart's " Flohatz," is a purely comic poem, 
especially in the first half of it ; anything but satiric or 
allegorical ; least of all didactic. The subject, as the 
name imports, are the small animals that plague hu- 
manity ; and the sufferings they inflict upon a traveller 
in Italy are described with incomparable reality and 
humour. The compassion which the victim stands in 
need of, but which it is impossible to give him, forms a 
truly comic antithesis. Of course there is no lack of 
coarseness about it, a thing inseparable from low 
comedy. So popular was it in 1577 that the copies 
were laid hands on and thumbed to pieces as they came 
out of the press, which accounts for the paucity of 
copies of it at the present day, notwithstanding the 
many editions that appeared.* To the " Frosch- 
raeuseler," on the contrary, the appellation of aUegoric- 
satiric-didactic may correctly apply. EoUenhagen 
wrote it about 1560, but it was first printed in 1595 ; 
since then frequently. According to the author, this 
poem is intended as a sort of "Weltspiegel (mirror of the 
world), and is based on Homer's " Batrachomachia." 
The introduction is thoroughly epic, with familiar 
and tender sympathy for the animal kingdom. Pre- 
sently the animal epic ceases, and the beasts that 

* "Flohatz "appeared in numerous editions before 1577, but they are 
all lost. After 1577 six editions are known. 


appear are nothing but men in disguise, who converse 
about all sorts of things secular and- spiritual, e. g., on 
the papacy and alchymy, treasure-digging, and the 
advantages of monarchy, with numerous illustrations 
from the world of fable. It is not till near the end, 
when the frogs and mice fight, that the story again 
inclines to the epic. The poetic effect of the whole 
loses from the abundance of allegory ; but the style is 
animated, the language pure, and the versification 
clever; and the descriptions are careful and clear, so 
that the " Froschmeuseler " may be considered what it 
always has been, one of the best poetic products of 
the sixteenth century. The greater part of it might 
be read with advantage even now. 

The other poems are less noteworthy. The " Gans- 
konig," by Spangenberg, son of the well-known his- 
torian and theologian of that name, is in praise of roast 
Martinmas goose, and the only epic part about it is the 
preamble, when the birds debate whom they shall 
choose for a king. But even this part is all speeches, 
and no action. The language is good and the verse 
flowing. It appeared at Strasburg in 1607, i. e., 
at the extreme limit of the period which we are con- 

Fuchs' "Ameisen und Miickenkrieg," afterwards 
altered by one Pastor Balthasar Schnurr, of Schmal- 
kald, is a fair version of a macaronic poem (Itahan 
and Latin).* The " Eselkonig" (King of the Asses) 

* It is an imitation of the " Moscaea" Of Teofilo Folengo (which last 
■was imitated in Spanish by J. Villaviciosa, see Huber " Span. Lesebuch," 
1832, p. 403). It was published first at Sohmalkald, 1580 j Schnurr's 


is not a bad satire (in prose) on the biped namesakes of 
that animal, who attain to riches and honour without 
deserving it. But it is not very important.* 

Akin to the animal epic is the didactic fable. Of 
this there are two representatives, Erasmus Alberus 
and Burkard Waldis, both natives of Hessia, and both 
clergymen. The former died at Neubrandenburg in 
Mecklenburg. Waldis, after being a monk, led a 
desultory life, and at last became Vicar of Abterode. 

It is not in the invention of new animal fables that 
their chief merit lay, but in their method of descrip- 
tion : that of Alberus is lengthy, but correct ; while 
that of Waldis is very lively and humorous. The 
former only wrote forty-nine fables f, while the latter 
has left versions of three hundred fables from other 
languages. It now becomes the fashion more than in 
the case of the Strieker, to give, after the manner of 
JEsop and Phaedrus, under the title of fables, short 
epigrammatic tales from real life, humorous stories, 
jests, &c., which is the case with the three hundred 

version, 1612 j re-edited by Genthe, 1833, and yrith a new title, in 

* Putlished at Ballenstadt about 1617-1620. A specimen of it 
appears in Waekemagel,3, 1, sp. 605-620. 

t " Das Buch von der Tugent und Weisheit, &o. durch Erasmmn 
Albenun," 1550. Alberus -was probably not bom at Staden (after- 
wards priest there), though educated there. Hence he calls the in- 
habitants "his countrymen." He wrote most of his fables in the 
quiet period of his life, while a schoolmaster at ITrsel (1525-1527), and 
clergyman at Sprendlingen (1527-1528). He says he wrote them " in 
his youth," and now publishes them (1^50, while he was at Magdeburg), 
" revised and corrected." A few fresh notices on his life, by H. Fallers- 
leben, appeared in the " Mecklenburgisches Volksbuch" of 1846, 
p. 187. 


fables of Waldis.* The fourth hundred are his own 
composition, with the exception of a few specimens, 
one of which, (" Die Betfart des Esels in Gesellschaft 
des Fuchses und Wolfes,") belongs to the old animal 
epic. All these are made up of merry tales, jokes, and 
anecdotes, mostly of the day. Some, however, are 
traditionary, as, for instance, the tale of the swineherd 
who becomes an abbot, and which partly belongs to 
the Saga of " Pfaff Amis," and from which Biirger drew 
the materials of his " The Emperor and the Abbot." 
In the same way Hagedorn, GeUert, and Zacharia got 
the best of their materials from the fables of the old 
Parson of Abterode. Of didactic and descriptive 
poems there was no lack in these days. Hans Sachs' 
" Landsknechts-Spiegel" vividly pourtrays the life of 
these wild soldiers. Fischart and Bartholomaus Ring- 
vald are also worthy of mention. 

Fischart's didactic poems are superior to any of the 
sixteenth century; and indeed, in some respects, to 
any didactic pieces of modern times. Many of them 
are to be found in a volume of his, the first half of 
which contains a translation of Plutarch's work on 
marriage, the second half an original treatise by 
Fischart himself on domestic life. It is remarkable 
with what delicacy this greatest of German satirists 
paints the happiness and tranquillity of home ; the quiet 

* Waldis was rector of Abterode from September 13th, 1544, and 
must have died 1555, or soon after. His " Fabelbuch " appeared 1548. 
" Esopus gantz neuw gemacht, &c. durch B. Waldis," often republished. 
The newest and best account of Waldis is given by Mittler in the 
"Hessisches Jahrbuch" of 1855. 231, (also in a separate form). A 
drama by Waldis, "Der verlorene Sohn," was re-edited by Hoefer, 1851. 


indoor' occupations, the gentleness, the untiring in- 
dustry, of the genuine housewife. Prose and verse 
alike are replete with earnestness and tenderness. The 
following extracts in proof of our opinion* '' There- 
fore a husband should treat his wife with consideration. 
He must not be rude to her, but mild and faithful. 
For rudeness only breeds shyness, and shyness broken 
vows, and then comes remorse. But kindness and 
gentleness will make her true and willing. A man 
must not be a storm-wind to turn the house upside 
down, but imitate the sun's wit, which works not by 
sudden but by gradual heat," &c. 

And then of the wife : — " When he shouts she'll be 
silent. When he's silent, then she'll speak to him. 
Is he heated, she'U be cool. Is he furious, shell be 
calm. Is he moody, she will soothe him. Is he 
impetuous, she'll be gentle. Does he rage, she will 
yield. Is he savage, she is meek. He is the sun, she 
is the moon. She's the night, he has the might of day. 
That which the sun has parched by day the night 
doth cool by the moon's power. Unless this is done, 
then, as the proverb says, ' Two hard stones never 
grind small,' A wise woman lets the maii storm ; but, 
on the other hand, she'll not let him sulk long, but by 
gentle ways and friendly speech she'll loosen his tongue 
by times." 

With equal warmth and force, and no less tender- 
ness, he describes the relations that ought to subsist 
between Christian parents and their children. Parental 

* These passages occur in the " Ehzuchtbiichlein," 1578, A. 7h. and 
D. 6 a. 


and filial joys and duties have never been better 
described than in the short poem of scarcely two 
hundred lines, which until lately was unknown.* 
Nothing can be sweeter and more truthful than his 
praise of country life and that favourite instrument, the 
lute ; while his " Earnest Advice to his dear Fellow- 
countrymen," wherein he talks of " das Deutsche 
Adlergemiith," is an appeal to national honour so 
forcible and solemn, that three centuries have not pro- 
duced its equal. It is to be found in Wackernagel's 
" Lesebuch." 

Bartholomaus Eingwald, pastor of Lengefeld,in the 
Altmark, lived a little later. His poem, " Die lautere 
"Warheit," prescribes the duties of a worldly and spi- 
ritual warrior. Here we have a vivid picture of the 
state of Germany in those days, with its dissensions, 
drunkenness, frivolity, and love of gorgeous apparel. 
Though earnest in tone, the piece does not lack humour 
and vivacity. The language is pure, and the verse 
tolerably fluent. It soon became a favourite in Korth 
Germany; and between 1.585 and 1598 went through 
ten editions. His other didactic poem, " Der treue 
Eckart" (a vision of Heaven and Hell), is a capital 
portrait of contemporary manners. The vanity of a fin6 
lady is hit off with the utmost sharpness and simplicity. 

In the period which we are now describing, we have 
Meistergesang sticking tenaciously to its old groove, 
and gradually stiffening into incurable rigidity ; while 

* The "Anmanungzu christKcher Kinderzucht" was published by 
Vihnar in the "Znr Literatur J. Kscharts," 1846 ; is also to be found 
in the excellent -work of Below and Zaoher, " J. Fischart's Geistliche 
Lieder, Christliche Kinderzucht und Lob der Lauten," Berlin, 1849. 


the "Volkslied," which originated in the preceding 
period, in this period blooms and dies. 

The only poet who could infuse the slightest breath 
of life into the old artificial forms of the old Minne- 
gesang, is Burkard Waldis, the Hessian. He composed 
a version of the whole Psalter in old Minnesinger 
fashion, but in the tripartite strophe. The prominent 
faults of the Master-singers, their stiffiaess und clumsi- 
ness, their painful minuteness and precision, are here 
not in the least observable. Many of these psalms 
continued to be sung in churches throughout the seven- 
teenth century, some even to our times. 

In the midst of these fruitless attempts to revive the 
art of ancient days, we see indications of the new era 
which was to be inaugurated by Opitz fifty years later, 
in the choice of ancient and romance metres, and in the 
exuberant use of epithets. 

■ ^ Paul Melissus, whose real name was Schede, and 
who was endowed with considerable poetic powers, was 
the first person of any note to introduce classic poetry 
into Germany. In the beginning of the second half of 
the sixteenth century he composed the first German 
sonnets and " Terzines." He also wrote Iambics and 
Trochaics, wherein he affected the elegance of the 
modem Latin poets. His language is at times stilted, 
and almost monstrous; but his expressions are often 
apt and true. His chief work is a version of the first 
fifty psalms. 

But the noblest production of the German lyric muse 
in the sixteenth century, is the " Evangelical Church 

In the oldest times, the only part the community 


took In church music was to sing the Kyrie eleison in 
the Litany. Later they sang short strophes in pro- 
cessions. The brilliant poets of the thirteenth century 
did nothing towards bringing the people to participate 
in religious song. In those days they got no further 
than the religious lay, with its deep reflections on the 
mysteries of Heaven, of the Creation and of Redemp- 
tion ; its brilliant descriptions of the wonders of the 
Holy Trinity, the grace and sublimity of the Mother 
of God, and the glories of eternal life. In such topics 
as these the mind of the singer was absorbed. 

These compositions were never meant to be intro 
duced into the Church Liturgy, nor were they adapted 
for it. Church song was, and continued to be, Latin, 
and was under the auspices of the ecclesiastical autho- 
rities. It was epic in its nature, dwelling on the 
Almighty's works — Creation, Redemption, Sanctifi- 
catlon — in an abstracted point of view, without alluding 
to the effect of those things on the hearts of men. 
The admirable productions of Latin hymnic in this 
line are well known. 

But towards the middle of the fourteenth, and stUl 
more in the beginning of the fifteenth century, eccle- 
siastical song like lyric poetry began to adapt them- 
selves to the wants of the people, whUe the great 
truths of Christianity were enunciated in simpler speech; 
the Christian joy and Christian sorrow, not of Indi- 
viduals, but of the mass, also found utterance. Many 
of these Church hymns assumed the identical form 
of national songs (Volkslied). Indeed, many secular 
songs were, by an easy process, transformed into 


religious songs, e. g., the pieces of the monk, Jbhanh 
von Salzburg and Heinrich von Laufenberg. So also 
the lay « In dulci Jubilo." 

The very essence of the Reformation was that it 
-made a sense of sin, and redemption by Jesus Christ, 
a matter for the heart of each individual man. It is 
personal experience of sin and of mercy upon which it 
lays so much stress. The middle wall of partition 
between clergy and laity is broken down ; for whatever 
may be the diversity of spiritual gifts accorded to each, 
to all alike the same means of salvation are open. And 
in this sense it is that the Reformation was a truly 
popular phenomenon. And hence her poetry — the 
" Evangelical Church Hymn " — is also popular in the 
strictest signification. What was said before of popu- 
lar poetry, epic as well as lyric, applies with equal 
force to it. It describes only what the writer has 
really felt, really experienced, or rather only what is 
true of all alike, what all have felt and experienced. 
Sorrow for sin, the assurance of salvation, the heavenly 
joy of the Christian's heart, the feeling of " Thou art 
mine and I am thine, and none shall part us" — all 
these, as they convulsed the soul, find their quick 
utterance in the " Church Hymn." It is the very out- 
pouring of the bottom of the heart Standing still, 
contemplation, picturing and describing, tropes and 
erudition are as foreign to the genuine "Evangelical 
Hymn" as they were to the old popular epic. In form, 
too, it is popular. The Hildebrandston, the tripartite 
strophe, and the short pairs of rhymes, all of them long 
recognised vehicles of popular poetry, are the dress 


■which the real *' Evangelical Church Hymn" of the 
sixteenth century exclusively wore, and continued to 
wear, at least its best specimens, in the succeeding 
period. Add to this, as above hinted, many of these 
hymns adopt the tone and style, and even the melody 
of secular poems of those days. Thus, the air of 
" O "Welt, ich muss dich lassen !" which is the same as 
the modern " Nun ruhen alle Walder," is akin to that 
of " Insbruck, ich muss dich lassen/' So, " Herzlich 
thut mich verlangen," one of the most beautiful dirges 
of the close of this period, reminds us of the older 
spiritual song, " Herzlich thut mich erfreuen," which 
last is nothing more nor less than a metamorphosis of 
the summer song, " Herzlich thut mich erfreuen die 
liebe Sommerzeit/' So in the song, ''Es ist das Heil 
uns kommen her," there are direct references to the old 
hero-song then in vogue among the people. 

The people's love for their earthly monarchs and 
heroes, which had been so long preserved in popular 
lay, was now, in the ''Evangelical Hymn," trans- 
ferred to the King of Heaven, and the strong Hero 
who had conquered death. The feelings of humanity, 
joy, grief, constancy, were centered not on worldly but 
heavenly objects; and thus the popular songwas hallowed 
by the Gospel. It cannot be said, however, that the 
Church made the material of the popular lay its own. 
It is not the substance, but rather the spirit of the 
people's lay which has passed over into the sacred song. 
Above all, it must be remembered that, as in the secu- 
lar, so in the spiritual lay, the melody is intimately 


bound up -wltli the text. It is song that makes the 
hymn everything, — the united voice of the people. 
Eegarded in this light, as a holy popular song (not 
poem), we can understand the almost magical effect 
which it produced on the masses in the days of the 
Reformation. Hardly was one of these pieces com- 
posed before it was sung at every door ; the minstrel was 
surrounded by a multitude, who caught up the melody, 
and before he had got to the end of his song chimed in 
with loud and joyful tones. Thus it spread like wild- 
fire to every church, to every hearth, and made thou- 
sands of converts to the evangelical faith. Luther's 
songs, " Nun freut euch liebe Christen gmein," " Aus 
tiefer Not schrei ich zu Dir ;" Paul Speratus's " Es ist 
das Heil uns kommen her ;" Nicolaus Decius's " Allein 
Grott in der Hoh sei Ehr," were borne, as it were, on 
the wings of the wind from one end of Germany to the 
other, were drunk in by hearts thirsting for the tidings 
of salvation, and at once were imprinted fast on the 
memories of the people — men, women, and children 
alike — by them to be handed down to succeeding 
generations. Nothing so true, so mighty in operation, 
so edifying, so original, so affecting aU and belonging 
to all, can ever be produced by any succeeding age. 
For the true standard of genuine church lyrics we 
must always revert to the Keformation. It is only the 
true Evangelical Church Hymn that breathes that 
lively, that practical, that personal interest in the God- 
head, which constitutes its very essence. The Mora- 
vian hymns are more explanatory and doctrinal, and 


therefore often dry and tedious. One only, which is as 
popular now as it was in 1550, surpasses all the rest, 
" Nun lasst uns den Leib hegraben." The later Evangeli- 
cal hymns, too, are often mere repetitions of the origi- 
nal and early ones. The best lays of all are by Luther 
himself, Paul Speratus, Nicolaus Decius, and Paul 
Eber, in the first half and middle of the sixteenth cen- 
tury ; then those of Nikolaus Hermann, Martin Schalling, 
Bartholomaus Rlngwald, Ludwig Helmbold, Philipp 
Nicolai, Johann Pappus, Christoph Knoll, and Valerius 
Herberger, in the second half of the sixteenth and begin- 
ning of the seventeenth century. The theme of all these 
older hymns is the universal Evangelical faith, without 
any special reference to peculiar circxmistances. The 
grave events of succeeding times, the plague, and the ; 
Thirty Year's War, gave birth to the heartfelt " Kreuz- 
und Trost-Lieder" (Lays of the Cross and of ComfortJ, 
which, in fact, are the only poetic productions of the 
seventeenth century. 

1 Before proceeding to consider the Comedy and Satire 
of this period, a few words on the development of the 
German drama. If the national consciousness had con- 
tinued strong enough in itself, and had also not been 
weakened by erudition on the one hand, and religious 
struggles on the other, that would have perhaps hap- 
pened in Germany which happened in ancient Greece. 
The Sagas of Sigfried, Dietrich, and Hildebrand would 
have been dramatized, in the same manner as Euripides 
and Sophocles dramatized the heroes of Troy and the 
tale of CEdipus. It is the province of the dramatist, 
in fact, as we learn from the Greeks, not to invent, but 


to clothe materials, traditionary and well known to all 
the people, with a flesh-and-blood interest, in keeping 
with the ideas of the age in which he lives, while he 
preserves the ancient likeness. Thus, the best modern 
German dramas are based on popular and traditionary 
materials, e.g. Goethe's " Gotz von Berlichingen," and 
especially his "Faust." So Schiller's " Wallenstein " 
and "Wilhelm Tell." 

The reason, however, that no satisfactory parallel 
can be established between the growth of the Greek 
and the German drama, is, that at the time when, 
according to the usual course of things, drama ought to 
have arisen in Germany, the popular poetic elements, 
the old hero Sagas, were on the point of becoming ob- 
solete with the people, and were ignored by the intel- 
lectual aristocracy. And so the days, when it was 
possible to have constructed a national drama, went by, 
and even the examples of Schiller and Goethe, in after 
times, have availed but little. 

If, instead of writing elegant Latin verses, which 
nobody reads now-a-days, Cobanus Hessus and Euri- 
cius Cordus, or Frischlin (who did write Latin dramas) 
had made better use of their poetic powers, — had dra- 
matized subjects like the death of Sigfrid, or Margrave 
Kudiger, or the Death of the Sons of Etzel, or Hilde- 
brand and his Son, or Otnit and Hugdietrich, or even 
Duke Ernest, how different the German drama would 
have been. The sixteenth century might then, perhaps, 
have produced a German Shakespeare. 

It is true that Hans Sachs, with his characteristic 
sound sense and right tact, took up some of these 


national subjects, and actually made the Death of 
Sigfrid the topic of a drama. About the same time, 
also (1545), the history of Tell was produced and acted 
as a drama in Switzerland ; * and in the beginning of 
the seventeenth century Jacob Ayrer, of Nuremberg, 
dramatized Otnit and Hugdietrich. But these isolated 
attempts fell flat on an age devoted to nought but 
antique learning. Contemptuous pedants pronounced 
these remarkable experiments to be old wives' tales. 
And so it was that the following age had to begin the 
task anew with no better success. A third attempt in 
the eighteenth century was equally fruitless, until at 
last Lessing struck out the only way towards a drama, 
if not a national one. We shall merely remark, further, 
that there are considerable merits in the dramatic pro- 
ductions of Hans Sachs, especially in his " Fastnacht- 
spiele" (Shrove-tide plays). The dialogue is often lively, 
and the action truthful and rapid. Ayrer 's pieces are 
ruder and coarser. 

And now for the comic and satirical writings of this 
period, which, as we shall find, were its natural charac- 
teristic and production ; for these two, as we have hinted 
above, always have been, and always will be, the birth 
of an age when an old state of things is passing away, 
and all is becoming new — when, consequently, every- 
thing teems with incongruities and contradictions. It 

* " Eiu hiipsoh und lustig Spyl vorzyten gehalten zu Vry, von dem 
frommeu und ersten Eidgenossen, W. Thellen," ed. E. Meyer, 1843. 
Concerning the Jacob Ayrer there mentioned, and his " Opus Thea- 
tricum" (1618), see Helbig, in Prutz's "Literar. Taschenbuch,'' 1847, 
p. 441 ; also Tieck's " Deutsches Theater," and Henneberger's " Jahr- 
buch," 1855, p. 32; also Schmitt, "Jacob Ayrer," 1851. 



was so with the irony of Socrates ; it was so with the 
undying comedy of Aristophanes. They stood on the 
debateable ground between two totally distinct worlds 
of Greek culture. So it was in Grermany in the six- 
teenth century. A revolution in everything was in 
progress, and the offspring of it were men like Brant, 
Hutten, Murner, Fisehart — books like " Eulen- 
spiegel " and " Lalenbuch," " Faust " and " Fortuna- 
tus." There never was such a century of unextinguish- 
able laughter as the sixteenth, in spite of aU its bitter 
struggles and storms. No century was ever so addicted 
to animal excess, to inordinate eating and drinking, and 
yet at the same time so fuU of earnestness and depth 
of feeling — so replete with austere learning and un- 
tiring zeal — so capable of resignation and self-sacrifice. 
Never was there a period when, with such a conscious- 
ness of order and morality, immorality and lewdness 
were more rampant — where, side by side with the most 
elegant and refined modern tastes, was witnessed so 
much brutality and coarseness of demeanour. Low 
avarice and utter indifference about money and posses- 
sions — love of home and domestic quiet and insatiate 
desire for roaming ; these, and many more, were among 
the striking contradictions of the times. Of course 
comedy must not describe these anomalies by halves, 
but set them down in all their glaring contrast. And 
so there is nothing tame about the satire of those 
days, no glossing over n:iatters, but it advances to 
its task just as it ought, unsparing, vigorous, undis- 

Foremost among these satirists stands Sebastian 


Brant, syndic of Strasburg, whose " Ship of Fools " 
. was written as early as 1494. But he Is best men- 
tioned here because he It was that gave the tone which 
prevailed through the whole of the sixteenth century. 
His work is called " Ship of Fools," because there were 
so many that no carriage could hold them ; and here 
they come from all sides, wading and swimming to- 
wards the ship, for fear of being left behind. But 
whoever looks upon himself as a fool is not taken on 
board — only those who fancy themselves witty. One 
hundred and thirteen sorts of fools are admitted. Each 
one is fitted with a cap set with bells exactly to his 
measure. Brant takes the lead himself, in the capacity 
of book-fool, a personage then so common, — one who 
has many books, and is everlastingly purchasing more, 
without ever reading or understanding them. Then 
comes the miser-fool, dandy-fool, honour-fool, old fool, 
&c., many of them sketched sharply, and to the life ; 
some, however, but poorly. The versification is a dis- 
jointed and degenerate sort of short pairs of rhymes. 
It is written in the hard and rude dialect of Alsace, 
but which possessed the advantage of having more 
derisive nicknames in it than any other dialect of 
Germany. The book took wonderfully, and went 
through many editions and reprints. It was translated 
into Low German (Piatt Deutsch) and Latin, and imi- 
tated in German and Latin. Its jokes and aphorisms 
were soon in everybody's mouth, and Geiler of Kai- 
sersberg even made it the theme of several sermons. 
And as a true mirror and uncompromising lasher of 
contemporary vices, the book well deserved its reputa- 

o 2 


tlon; although, of course, many of its allusions are 
necessarily lost upon us. It is a pity that the new 
edition by Strobel, of Strasburg, has done so little to 
clear up the difficulties.* 

Brant died in 1530; but, previously to this, Stras- 
burg had produced a rival in the same line. This was 
Thomas Muruer, a Franciscan monk, who, in biting 
wit, keen satire, largeness of view, and poetic anima- 
tion, surpassed Brant. There was an uneasiness in his 
character which kept him always on the move from 
place to place, concocting all sorts of schemes and plans, 
always envious and dissatisfied, proud and obstinate, 
fomenting discords wherever he came. Hence the air 
of rude and coarse defiance, instability, and impatience 
of control which pervades his works. In spite of all 
this, he is one of the greatest masters of satire that 
Germany has produced. 

According to his own account,f he wrote his " Nar- 
renbeschworung " (exorcism of fools) in the year 1508, 
the idea of which he evidently took from Brant's 
" Narrenschifi"," though it is by no means a slavish 
imitation of that work, as Gervinus and others errone- 
ously imagine. Next followed his " Schelmenzunft " 

* An excellent edition of Brant's "NarrenschifF" appeared in 1854, 
ty Zarnoke. 

t Mnrner says in his book, printed at the end of 1522, " Von dem 
gros^en Lutherischen Narren :" — " Fuji fourteen years ago I exorcised 
the little fools only." So that there may have been an edition of 
the " Narrenbeschworung" in 1 506. The first known edition is that of 
1512. Of " Das Buch vom gross. Luth. Narren," two editions appeared 
in 1848, by Kurz, with good explanations ; and also in Scheible's collec- 
tion, " Das Kloster," vol. x. In vol Tiii. of the same work Mumer's 
" Gauchmatt" is also printed. 


(guild of rogues), full of the most caustic wit, and not 
without passages of reckless and unnecessary coarse- 
ness. It is an epitome of some of his sermons preached 
at Frankfort-on-the-Maine, which, to judge from appeai-- 
ances, must have been tolerably coarse. The object of 
his fiercest and most successful onslaughts are the 
monks and their hypocrisy. After this he wrote some 
other satirical works, e. g., " Die Badenfart," " Die 
Gauchmatte," "Die Miihle von Schwindelsheim. " 
About this time Luther made his appearance on the 
scene. Before long Mumer (who had translated 
Luther's woik on the Babylonian Captivity into 
German), arriving at the conviction that Luther was a 
deceiver of the people and a destroyer of the faith, fell 
foul of the great reformer and his party with all the 
force of his satire. His remarkable treatise, written in 
the year 1522, " Vbn dem grossen Lutherisehen Narren 
wie ihn Dr. Murner beschworen hat," went beyond 
all his previous efforts. Owing to the great scarcity 
of copies of this, his most important work, many of the 
critics, who never saw it, have formed very false ideas 
of Murner as a writer. As a satire on the Reforma- 
tion, it excels all other works for the vigour and unde- 
viating pertinacity with which it pursues the object in 
view, and the only writings on the Protestant side that 
can be put in the balance against it are those of Fischart. 
The polished Fischart, with his imperturbable good 
temper, and calm smile of conscious superiority, of 
course has the better of the Franciscan monk, with his 
coarse and frantic bitterness. But it cannot be denied 
that Murner, who does not enter upon the inward 

o 3 


essence of the Reformation, deals the most skilful and 
deadly blows at its external weaknesses. Such were, 
for instance, the rage for iconoclasm; the attempts 
made, chiefly by Von Hutten to upset all order, social 
as well as ecclesiastical ; the empty cries of the mob for 
liberty, verity, and the Gospel. No doubt there are 
passages in it of uncommon coarseness, but even the 
most unseemly expressions are not without poetic jus- 
tification, and the work by no means deserves the 
appellation of pasquinade, given it by Gervinus. The 
descriptions are springy and animated beyond mea- 
sure, though his versification is harsher and language 
more rugged even than Brant's. Compared with this 
poetical effusion, Murner's prose works on the same 
subject are of much less mark, alike in breadth and 

Ulrich von Hutten's world-renowned satires on 
the opposite side, and the " Epistolae Obscurorum 
Virorum," in which this remarkable man also had a 
share, were written originally in Latin, and therefore 
hardly belong to a history of German literature. 
Indeed, many of them are untranslateable ; while in 
others, which were translated under the superinten- 
dence of the author, the wit has lost much of its point. 
His " Klagrede,'' moreover, is rather a lecture than a 
satire ; and it is uncertain whether certain prose writings 
that have been attributed to him, e.g., " Der Karsthans" 
(or peasant with the axe), was really by him or not. 
Be this as it may, it was this piece which drew forth 
Murner's chief work just mentioned. 

Many other works in German and Latin of the days 


of the Reformation have nothing comic or satirical 
about them but the title-page. Such, for instance, are 
" Der Barf iisser Monche Eulenspiegel und Alkoran," 
by Erasmus Alberus, and C. Spangenberg's " Wider 
die bosen sieben ins Teufels Kamoffelspiel." In the 
latter part of the sixteenth century there was quite a 
passion for giving ridiculous and unmeaning titles of 
this sort to dry polemical treatises. 

With Johann Fischart (named Menzer) we shall now 
pass from the poetry to the prose works of this period. 
It was in 1570 that he first began to make a noise in 
the world as a writer of satire. Indeed, he is the great- 
est satirist of Germany. He wrote both in poetry and 
prose. Like the two authors just mentioned. Brant 
and Murner, he was of Strasburg, so that Alsace 
is quite the home of German satire. In 1570 he 
wrote "Der Nachtrabe, oder die Nebelkrah" (the 
night-raven or mist-crow) against one Jacob Rabe, 
who had become a pervert to Popery ; and, soon after, 
some satirical poems in rhyme on the Franciscans and 
Dominicans (" Der Barf iisser Sekten und Kiittenstreit," 
and " Von St. Dominici des Predigermonchs und St. 
Francisci artlichem Leben"), as well as other pieces, 
some of which have been lost. In 1579 appeared his 
version of Philip Mamix von Aldegonde's Dutch work, 
" Beyencorf der roomscher Kerke," under the title of 
" Bienenkorb des Heiligen romischen Immenschwarms, 
seiner Hummelszellen oder Himmelszellen, Hurnaus- 
nester, Bramenschwiirm und Wespengetos," (the Holy 
Roman bee-hive, with its drone-cells and Heaven-cells, 

o 4 


its hornets' nests, swarms of gadflies and buzzing wasps), 
a work which went through numerous editions and 
reprints, and is the best known Fischart ever wrote. 
At last, in the year 1580, appeared "Das Vierhornige 
Jesuiterhiitlein," in rhymes, the wittiest and most caustic 
satire on the Jesuits that has ever been written * 

He soon took, and with far greater success, to com- 
positions of a more secular nature, using Rabelais as 
his model ; as, for instance, in his witty satire (written 
1573) upon the prevailing rage for astrology and horo- 
scope-casting, &c. Eabelais, on the other hand, had 
imitated some older German writer. " Aller Praktik 
Grossmutter " are the first words of the long-winded 
title of Fischart's book on the above subject. His most 
important work appeared 1575, being a version of part 
of " Gargantua and Pantagruel," under the title of 
" Affenteuerliche. ungeheuerliche Geschichtschrift," 
which title was altered in the third edition. His 
comic work, " Podagramisches Trostbiichlein," is also 
an imitation, but not of Eabelais. It is entirely free 
from all indelicacy and coarseness. His " Catalogus 
Catalogorum," in the manner of Rabelais, appeared 

* In 1845 a new edition of Kschart's " Jesuiter-Hutlein" appeared 
(Leipsig, Engelmann) under the title of " Jesu- Wider, &c." It was a 
reprint of the edition of 1603, with all its typographical eiTors and 
uncalled-for alterations. In Scheible's " Kloster," vol. x. p. 907, there is 
another edition of it after that of 1591. In vol. viii. ibid, is Fischart's 
" Geschichtklitterung," after the edition of 1617 (whereas the edition 
of 1582 is the only one that ought to have heen used), and likewise his 
" Aller Praktik Grossmutter," but this is entirely after the edition of 
1 623. In the tenth volume are " Flohatz," " Ehezuchtbuchlein," and the 
" Podagramisches Trostbiichlein," with several other smaller pieces of 
Pisch art's. 


shortly before his death in 1589. It is an attack upon 
the monstrous book-learning and rage for books pre- 
vailing at the time, and in exuberance of wit is thought 
by Vilmar to surpass the productions of the greatest 
of French satirists 

The most striking peculiarity of Fischart is his 
despotic power over the German language. He made 
it supply him with new expressions, and twisted it 
about in a most extraordinary manner to suit his pur- 
poses. In those days, when nobody read more than the 
title-pages of books, the names he gave to his were 
cited as curiosities.* It is a mistake, however, to sup- 
pose that he deals in mere shallow verbal witticisms. 
There is a depth, a strength, and a point in his mad 
verbal escapades, which makes the fools of all times 
tremble. In English it is quite impossible to convey 
an adequate idea of his marvellous style. It is a series 
of surprises. After a long facetious preamble, he comes 
down with the rapidity of a harpoon. His antics are 
those of Proteus. Now soft and gentle, now imperious 
and haughty. This moment smiling coaxingly like an 
infant, the next grinning like a tiger-cat. Now sad 
and melancholy, now bursting out into loud laughter. 
Now full of sober earnestness, now teeming with wanton 
ribaldry. One thing only he has not — tears. To com- 
pare this coarse, angular, sharp Fischart, a very satirist 
born, with the dreaming, loving, gentle Jean Paul, as 
Horn has done, is a mistake. 

* Justus George Sohottel, one of the most important German gram- 
marians of the seventeenth century, thus cites Fischart's " Gargantua," 
in his " Arheit von der teutschen Haubtsprache," 1663, p. 379. 

o 5 


rischart mirrors forth with wonderful exactness the 
contradictions and anomalies of his age : the greatness 
and the littleness of the then Germany ; the bookish 
wisdom of the would-be learned and the rude igno- 
rance of the crowd ; the new world of foreign culture 
side by side with the traditionary recollections of the 
country; the pompous circumlocution of the semi- 
Latin statesman and the wild noisy rattle of the 
midnight carouse. In him we have a concentration 
of all the people life of the sixteenth century. He is 
a very mine of information about their customs and 
language, love and hatred, joke and jest, proverbs and 
anecdotes, songs and lays. Like a genuine satirist, he 
also abounds in local and contemporary allusions, which 
it is quite impossible to decipher without throwing one's 
self completely into the ideas of the sixteenth century. 

It will not be advisable, if indeed it were possible, to 
give here an analysis of his chef-d'oeuvre, " Gargantua." 
Gargantua, as is well known, was a figure taken by 
Kabelais from the old French Saga and clothed by him 
in modern dress, with a view of representing the follies 
and eccentricities, the deformities and monstrosities, of 
his time. Fischart follows Rabelais, but makes his 
Gargantua infinitely more grotesque and satirical. 

The book contains a world of information, serious 
and comic, upon the sixteenth century. His " Bienen- 
korb" (bee-hive) is also capital. It takes the Pro- 
testant side of the question, while Murner's " Luther- 
ischer Narr" takes the Romanist side, each unsur- 
passed in its way. Fischart smiles with the cool air 
of conscious victory; while Murner, less skilful in 


hla weapons, ruslies on with angry words and furious 

In the next century all Fischart's works, except his 
" Bienenkorb," were forgotten, and even hisname was 
almost unknown; but this arises from his habit of 
appearing pseudonymously. Thus, in his ecclesiastical 
satires, he calls himself Jesuwalt Pickhart ; in " Gar- 
gantua," &c., Elloposkleros ; and in his "Praktik" 
Winhold Alkofribas Wiistblutus, and so on. In the 
days of Gottsched and Adelung, who, as Tieck says, 
had interdicted all joking under a severe penalty, he 
was utterly despised. The latter called him a mere 
Hanswiirst (buffoon). It was not till the end of the 
last century that people again began to value him as 
he deserved. His works, which exceed fifty in 
number, have become very scarce. 

A few words, in conclusion, on the numerous col- 
lections of jests and anecdotes, and also the Yolks- 
biicher (Folk-books). At the beginning of the sixteenth 
century, a Latin work by one Bebel appeared, entitled 
" Facetiae." It is a sort of Joe Miller. Most of the droll 
conceits in it had been long in circulation among the 
people, and some of them still are so. Not less popular 
than the above work was another, which appeared soon 
after, " Schimpf und Ernst " (joke and earnest). It 
was from the pen of Johann Pauli, a Franciscan monk, 
but originally a Jew, who was a disciple of Geiler's, 
and edited his sermons. This collection, like the other, 
embodies many of the elements of living popular tra- 
dition. The following specimens will give a taste of its 
quality. A man had three daughters, and each daughter 

o 6 


had a lover; but the father's means did not allow of 
his giving them all dowries at once, so his daughters 
had to decide in the following way which should marry- 
first. They were all to wash their hands, and then dry 
them in the air without a towel. She whose hands 
were dry first, was to marry first. The youngest, how- 
ever, with loud cries of " I want no husband, I want 
no husband," keeps fighting and struggling with her 
wet hands. In her pretended efforts to resist, her 
hands dry first, and she was married first. 

The wife of a burgher had committed some crime, 
for which she was condemned to be exposed publicly 
in the pillory. Her husband, who was devotedly 
attached to her, could not bear the thoughts of her 
being subjected to this degradation ; so he sought out 
the oflicer of justice, and by dint of a present prevailed 
on him to let him suffer the punishment instead ; and 
he endured all the ignominy with the greatest patience. 
Wot long after his wife quarrelled with him, and was 
ungrateful enough to upbraid him in public with the 
words, " I never have stood in the pillory like you." 
In this simple anecdote we have an admirable picture 
of low selfishness and diabolical ingratitude. 

There appeared also a number of other books in the 
comic vein ; some of them in Alsace, e. g., " Die Gar- 
tengesellschaft," by Trey ; " Der Wegkiirzer," by 
Montanus ; " Das Eastbiichlein," by Lindner ; " Das 
Rollwagen-biichlein," byWickram (some of this author's 
productions are the predecessors of the romance) ; and 
the " Katzipori." All of these were in vogue till late 
in the seventeenth century. 


But the best of these jest-books is one entitled 
" Wendunniut," written In 1562, by Hans Klrchof, 
Burgrave of Spangenburg. Here there is a happy 
mixture of the grave with the gay. Many of the stories 
throw a great deal of light on the history of manners in 
the sixteenth century. The last of these collections, 
like the first, is in Latin, and is the work of Otto 
Melander, schoolmaster at Marburg. It is entitled 
" Jocoseria." The style is elegant, but the best of the 
stories are borrowed. What is original is full of scandal 
and bad wit. This collection is the best known of any. 

A much longer term of existence fell to the lot of 
the Volksbiicher properly so called, i. e., books of 
popular stories, which nearly all, without exception, 
originated in the sixteenth century, and which are still 
in vogue. Some of the Volksbiicher contain old He- 
roic Sagas, partly native, e. g., those of the " Horned 
Sigfrid " and " Duke Ernest ; " partly foreign, e. g. 
" Tristan," " Octavian," Magellone," " Melusine." 
But what we are chiefly here concerned with are the 
Volksbiicher of a funny character. One of the oldest of 
these, " PfafFe vom Kalenberg," dates from the four- 
teenth century. It is the history of a parson who is 
up to all sorts of fun and jokes, some of them not of 
the most savoury kind. He resembles Pfaff Amis, 
only that he is not so given to cheating, and is, more- 
over, a real historical character. His parish was Kalen- 
berg, near Vienna, and he is said to have been court 
preacher, if not court fool, to Duke Otto, the Merry, 
grandson of Rudolf of Hapsburg. Many of the jokes 


attributed to him, doubtless, belonged to others of his 
cloth, who, like him, were more fitted for dragoons than 
parsons.* He had a worthy compeer in Peter Leu, a 
Suabian, originally a currier's boy, afterwards a priest, 
who played all sorts of jokes-f The work devoted to 
Kalenberg was by Philip Frankfurter, that to Leu by 
Achilles Widman. Both are in rhyme, and were often 
printed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. 
Some of the anecdotes were still in vogue long after. 
For instance, one hot summer day, Kalenberg sum- 
mons all his parishioners to see him fly from the top of 
his church steeple over the Danube. They duly re- 
spond to the summons, and wait in the heat for many 
hours, assuaging their thirst with the priest's bad wine, 
which they pay for in good coin. Here, in fact, lay 
the joke. At length, when he is on the point, appa- 
rently, of taking flight, he asks the peasants if they had 
ever seen a person fly. No, say they, such a thing 
was never heard of. " Quite so," said Kalenberg, 
" neither shall I. Go home and say you have all been 
here." Again, Peter Leu divides his sermon into three 

* Philip Prankfiirter's "Pfaffe Ton Kalenberg" appeared in print 
1550, 1582, 1596, and frequently till 1620. But the first editions must 
belong to the beginning of the sixteenth or end of the fifteenth century. 
It is to be found in a modernised shape in Hagen's " Narrenbuch," 1811, 
p. 269. He is often cited proverbially by the writers of the sixteenth 
century, Luther among the number. 

_J- The history of Peter Leu, printed in 1560, and in later editions, 
generally appended to " Kalenberg," is to be found in a modern shape 
in Hagen's " Narrenbuch," p. 353. Plogel, in his " History of Court 
Fools," drew attention to both their works, as throwing light on the 
history of manners. 


parts. "The first part you cannot understand, the 
second part I cannot, the third neither you nor I." 

At the beginning of the era now treated of, ap- 
peared the famous book called " Eulenspiegel."* 

Many of Till Eulenspiegel's best jokes had been 
played before by Priest Amis, Nithart, the Minne- 
singer, Kalenberg, and others. Again, many of them 
are the traditionary jokes of various trades, and can 
only be rightly appreciated as such. It is, in fact, these 
jokes, which were not the result of invention, but 
which really occurred to the journeyman in his trade, 
that give to the book its never-failing popularity and 
indisputable comic value. It is possible that there was 
some more than usually facetious travelling artizan in 

* SeeGbrre's "Die deutschen Volksbiicher," 1807, who -well describes 
the poetic influence of these old productions of the Volksage. 

The book of " Till Eulenspiegel" was edited, with notes, by Lappen- 
berg, 1854, not to mention the many renovations of it, the best of which 
is that by Simrock. Lappenberg entitles it, "Dr. Thomas Murner's 
Eulenspiegel," but the assumption that it was written by Murner only 
rests on the untrustworthy notice of an anonymous pamphlet of the 
sixteenth century. Moreover, the style of the preface, let alone of the 
book itself, is not that of Murner. Besides, the text of the oldest 
edition, 1519, (said to have been edited by Murner,) gives evidence of 
having been originally composed in Flatt Deutsch, e. g. in the Low- 
German expression for mother. Indeed, Lappenberg (p. 347) himself 
admits the probability of such a Piatt Deutsch version of it of the year 
1483 (compare Lessing's works, xi. 492), and, in that case, the assump- 
tion that Murner was the author at once falls to the ground. The editions 
of " Eulenspiegel" are very numerous. Kschart turned it into rhyme, 
probably in 1570. There are extant translations of it into Dutch, 
French, English, and Danish, of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. 
Grasse's assertion ("Lehrbuch der allg. Lit. Gesch." ii. 2, 1020), that 
the oldest Dutch translation dates from the year 1495, is devoid of proof. 
Many of the tricks played in "Eulenspiegel" are very disgusting, to 
the great detriment of the comic element. 


the north of Grermany, on whom many of the old jokes 
long current throughout the land were fathered, and 
who may, perhaps, have himself repeated them, inten- 
tionally or unintentionally. In process of time this 
might, possibly lead to a life of him being written, in 
which were embodied all the various scattered stories. 
It may be that his name was Till, and that he was buried 
at MoUen, in Mecklenburg, in 1350. Indeed, not so 
many years ago, a lime-tree stood on his supposed grave, 
into which every travelling journeyman made a point of 
hammering a nail. He could not, however, have been 
called Eulenspiegel, for this word refers to a proverb 
of the sixteenth century : " Der Mensch erkennt seine 
Fehler eben so wenig wie eine Affe oder cine Eule, die 
in den Spiegel sehen, ihre eigene Hasslichkeit erken- 
nen " (a man is no more aware of his own faults, than 
is an ape or an owl that looks into a mirror aware of 
its own ugliness). Besides, although the book Eulen- 
spiegel was In print at the end of the fifteenth century, 
yet in South Germany the name was almost entirely 
unknown in the middle of the sixteenth ; the name 
" Bochart" being used instead.* It was only till 
after this time that the name " Eulenspiegel" became 
general, and absorbed all former fools and names of 

The same may be predicated of the " Schildbiirger," 
otherwise " Lalenbuch." For a long time the sayings 
and doings of the burghers and magistrates of small, out- 
of-the-way places, their coxcombry, their pretentious- 

* See Setastian Frank, " Guldin Arch." 1558, fol. Bl. 267a ; Kirchhof, 
« Wendunmut," JSTos. 410, 411. 


ness, and stupidity, were the butt of popular ridicule. 
The anecdotes about these, however, were not the 
result of invention, but were actual facts. Many of 
the most important features ofthese are to be found in 
poems of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. It 
was not till the end of the sixteenth century that they 
were collected*, and fastened on the town of Schilda — 
not so exclusively, however, as the travelling jokes on 
Eulenspiegel, for every county of Germany can boast ot 
its Abdera, its abode of pompous fatuity. In Bavaria 
there is Weilheim ; in Brunswick, Scheppenstedt : 
Hessia has its Schwarzenborn. 

Again, the legend of Dr. Faust was current from the 
beginning of the sixteenth century, while the well- 
known Volksbuch was written in the second half of the 

There is no doubt that there really did exist one 
Johann Faust, who dealt in magic, and played all sorts 

* A few features of these gentry are to be found as early as the thir- 
teenth century, e. g. in Freidank's " Bescheidenheit," in Seinfrid von 
Braunschweig. In the sixteenth century they appear in Behel, B. Waldis, 
Frischlin, &c., without being fixed on any particular town. The book 
"Von den Schildbiirgem" (Lalenbuch) appeared first in 1598. It is 
modernized in Hagen's " Narrenbuch," 1811, pp. 1-214,448-486. Com- 
pare "Leipziger Lit. Z." 1812, No. 161. 

t Raumer, "Histor. Tasehenbuch," 5 Jargang, p. 125. Taust was seen 
by the Abbot Tritheim in the year 1506 at Gelnhausen; by Konrad 
Mutius Eufus, 1513, at Erfurt. They call him a gyrovagus, battologns, 
circumcellio, merus ostentator, and fatuus. The story of Faust was 
printed first at Frankfort, 1588; with notes, by Widman, in 1599; and 
with further additions by Pfizer, in 1674. Widman's version, without 
his own and Pfizer's notes, was published at Eeutlingen, 1834. Com- 
pare Hagen, " Ueber die altesten Darstellungen der Faust-sage," 1844 ; 
also the books of Diintzer, Eeichlin-Meldegg, and Peter, 


of extraordinary pranks. He lived in the first thirty 
years of the sixteenth century, and, according to the 
best accounts, was a native of South Germany — it is 
said of Kundlingen, in Suabia. Many of the things, 
however, which are attributed to him, were also as- 
cribed to other personages. For instance, the black 
dog, under which the Devil is disguised, is also coupled 
with the name of Cornelius Agrippa, a contemporary of 
Faust, and also with that of Pope Sylvester II. So the 
Winter-garden may be traced back to Albertus Magnus. 
And just as " EiUenspiegel " was the embodiment of all 
the travelling handicraftsmen's jokes, and the " Schild- 
biirger" of the stupidities of municipal functionaries, so 
" Faust " was the hero of every thing that was mar- 
vellous and superstitious. 

Another Saga, that of the " "Wandering Jew " 
(Ewiger Jude), can be traced back far into the thir- 
teenth century. It does not, like the preceding ones, 
belong to Germany exclusively, though it was in Ger- 
many that it was especially developed, becoming con- 
nected in the sixteenth century with a real personage, 
who made his appearance in Hamburg and other parts 
of North Germany.* 

This short allusion to the German Volksbiicher must 
suffice. "We will only further mention the tale of 
" Fortunatus," which perhaps originated in Bretagne ; 

* Grasse, "Die Sage vom Ewigeu Juden," 1844. Matthew of Paris, 
the English chronicler in the first half of the thirteenth century, men- 
tions the legend, then current, of an Armenian who professed to have 
seen the Jew Kartaphilus, who was afterwards baptized, and called 
Joseph. The story of the Wauderiug Jew, who appeared in Hamburg 
in 1547, was printed in Germany in 1602, and frequently afterwards. 


nay, may have possibly belonged to the ancient Ger- 
man mythology ; also, the odd tale of " Finkenritter," 
which gives a capital notion of the inordinate addiction 
to lying of the itinerants of the sixteenth century ; 
and whether the work of Fischart or of some older 
author,* is, at all events, the precursor of " Captain 
Eodomond" and " Sohelmufski"in the seventeenth, and 
of " Munchhausen " in the eighteenth century. 

After all, these productions of the sixteenth century, 
be they never so light and fanciful, have survived 
the heavy compositions of the succeeding generation. 
While the stilted trash of the seventeenth and begin- 
ning of the eighteenth century is now obsolete, " Fjulen- 
spiegel," the " Schildbiirger," and " Faust " have re- 
mained in everybody's mouth, and, trifles as they are, 
afford no little gratification, not the least of which, per- 
haps, consists in the recollection that they are the 
bequests of an age when Germany was still German. 

From the above we have seen that in these still lioger- 
ing Volksagas there lay abundance of poetical material, 
hidden, it is true, and overlaid by rubbish, but which 
it only wanted a Klinger, a Schlegel, a Tieck, and a 
Goethe to bring to the light of day, and elaborate into 
something choice and beautiful. Even now, much of 
this old material is still unworked. Wieland's " Ab- 

* The little work called " Finkenritter,'' which is still current as a 
Folk-hook, was printed first at Strashurg between 1559 and 1570. If, 
as Meusebach is said to have assumed, Fischart did write it, it must have 
been one of his earliest works ; the fable, however, was, without doubt, 
in existence before. As early as 1571, at a time when Fischart had 
scarcely come out as an author, "Finkenritter" is mentioned quite pro- 
verbially by J. Nass, in his "Von Fratris Joannis Naseu Esel," Bl. 54 a. 


derites" shows what could he made of the Schild- 
hlirgers. What a pity that his tale is laid in Greece 
instead of in Germany ! 

A few observations here, in conclusion, on the lan- 
guage of Luther. It is the new High German, a com- 
pound of the hard popular dialect of the South of Ger- 
many and the softer speech of the North ; and it is in this 
style, so pithy, compact, and forcible, that the intellect 
of Germany still professes to write. All agree that his 
translation of the Bible is a re-creation of the German 
language ; and this great result is due to the manner in 
which he set about the task. He devoted himself, body 
and soul, to his work, his whole being absorbed in the 
spirit of Revelation. It was with an intense horror of 
sin, and heartfelt experience of the comforts of the 
Gospel, that he translated the Bible ; and therefore it 
is that, as that book transformed and ruled the world, 
so this translation of it transformed and ruled the Ger- 
man language. 

Only one branch of prose kept aloof from that of 
Luther. This was that of the old mystic school, 
which was now on the point of dissolution. Its repre- 
sentatives, such as Kaspar Schwenkfeld and Sebastian 
Frank, declared him to be the founder of a new 
papacy, and continuing in their old groove of tranquil 
subjectiveness and dreamy contemplation, adhered 
tenaciously to the hereditary smoothness of the mystic 
style. Frank's productions are first rate in their way. 
His historical and theological writings, especially his 
paradoxes, are quite a pattern of philosophic style, 
soft, smooth, and pliant in the extreme. No good 


account of this remarkable man has yet appeared. He 
was the author of the first history of the world in 
the German language, and also wrote a collection of 
proverbs, with ingenious commentaries thereon.* Agri- 
cola of Eisleben had preceded him with a similar work ;t 
while, at the end of the century, Eucharius Eyering 
followed in the same line. These proverb-collectors 
of this period supply the place of the old gnomic poets, 
— of a Welscher Gast, a Freidank, and a Renner. 
But it is time to leave this part of our subject. 

* Sebastian Prank's " Sprichworter " appeared first at Frankfort in 
1541, then at the same place in 1554, 1565, and often. In the Zurich 
edition of 1545 the arrangement and language are altered for the worse. 
Prank's historical works are, the "Zeitbuch und Geschichtsbibel," 1531, 
folio, (of which many editions stiU exist,) " Weltbuch, Spiegel und 
Bildniss des ganzen Erdbodens," 1534, and "Teutscher Nation Chro- 
nik," folio. The latter work is not much more than a compilation. Of 
his theological works, the most remarkable are his "Paradoxa," 1533, 
and his additions to his translation of Erasmus' " Moriae Encomium," 
his " Giildin Arch,'' and " Verbiitsehiertes Buch." 

f Agricola's " Sprichworter," appeared first at Magdeburg, 1528, in 
the Low German dialect (comp. Weigand in the Allg. Kirchenz., 1841, 
No. 167), then, in 1529, in High German. The later editions are much 
enlarged, so that the last, that of 1592, contains 749 proverbs. 



This second great division of the history of German 
literature commences with Martin Opitz and the year 
1624. Its peculiar characteristic is that it endeavours 
to amalgamate foreign poetic elements with those which 
are essentially German. Rejecting the old traditions, 
and deserting the path that the people had followed for 
eight centuries, it bids a formal adieu to the past. 
Of all the early living sources of poetic inspiration 
nothing remains. The old life of the people is as much 
forgotten and lost as if it had never been. A loss 
never to be repaired, not even by the highest excellen- 
cies at which German poetry arrived by following 
another path. The old edifice was broken down, but 
fortunately there was strength sufficient in the German 
intellect to erect a new one, not indeed such as the old 
one was, rearing itself majestically on the lofty hill 
in the midst of the forest, but one of a different sort, 
more inhabitable, more accessible, placed on the great 
highway of European intercourse. 

But before this consummation was arrived at, a time 
of ignoble lethargy and disreputable bondage inter- 
vened. Tor a full century, from 1624 to 1720 (1730), 
foreign elements ruled triumphant, and German poetry 
lay prostrate. A turn for the better ensued from 1720 
to about 1750. After this an improved state of things 


succeeded, and from 1750 to 1832, we may reckon as 
the second classical period of German literature. 

It was in 1680 that what was left of German poetry 
gradually died out. First one voice and then another 
became dumb. Instead of the Volkslied (popular lay), 
all free, fresh, and natural, we have a spiritless, artificial 
counterfeit, tricked out with all sorts of tasteless pedan- 
tries, which has been called Gesellschaftslied (society- 
lay) by Hoffman of Fallersleben. At last, at the close 
of the century, the victory of classic philology, learned 
theology, and jurisprudence, over everything that could 
be called German, was complete. An irreconcileable 
rupture ensued between learned and unlearned. On 
the one side were a set of pedants buried in their books, 
and having no sympathy with national life ; on the 
other side were masses without knowledge, without 
aspirations. The so-called Gelehrte and GebUdete 
(learned and polished folks) looked with contempt on 
everything belonging to the people, their language, 
their poetry, their very faith, their ideas, their whole 
life. The people in turn became suspicious and indif- 
ferent to everything that appertained to their learned 
contemners. They could not understand the language 
current among their superiors ; nay, the very language 
of the parson in the pulpit became unintelligible to 
them. How could it be otherwise, when the higher 
classes claimed as their exclusive prerogative every- 
thing belonging to the mind and the intellect ? For 
two centuries this schism continued in full force. Even 
the Reformation, which had prevented the worst evil 
of all,- the exclusion of the masses from that common 


fountain of belief, the Biblcj in its further development 
widened the existing breach, and undid much of the 
previous good it had done, by entering the arena of 
dogmatic strife. But what did the most harm of all 
was the influence which countries to the south and west 
of Germany, but France especially, began to exercise 
upon German intellect and German culture. German 
simplicity of manners, nay, the very language itself, 
disappeared from the court and from the castles of the 
nobility. The higher literati, the public officials, even 
the richer burghers, ceased to speak their mother 
tongue. Nothing would do but a slavish imitation of 
French manners and French language. The a-la-mode 
age, as the writers of that day call it, had fairly set in. 
Absurd affectations of expression, perukes, etiquette, 
hypocrisy, ceremoniousness, and a love of the grandiose 
— such were the Frenchified tastes of Germany from the 
middle of the seventeenth to the middle of the eigh- 
teenth century. The result of this was that it became 
the most ridiculous, as well as the most unhappy, 
nation in Europe. And, as might be expected, this 
state of affairs was sharply impressed upon the poetry 
of the time. The ultimate consequence of this triumph 
of erudition, and of French fashions, was an extraordi- 
nary barrenness in poetical production. For a period 
of thirty years, from 1590 to 1620, not a poem worth 
mentioning appeared. 

Now, had the love of classical philology prevailing 
in the sixteenth century moved the verse-writers of the 
seventeenth century to go to the fountain-head, and 
take for their models the great works of Greece and 


Rome, the seventeenth century would not have been 
what it is, the most melancholy epoch in the his- 
tory of German literature. But, instead of this, 
they only imitated imitations of the originals. The 
worst feature in the Latin poetry of the sixteenth 
century had been that it was based on the later 
Latin poets, and not on those of the best age ; while 
from the Greeks it borrowed but little of its in- 
spiration. And it was these very Latin poems of the 
sixteenth century, that the classical poets of the seven- 
teenth took as their model. The trashy spick-and-span 
Latin and Dutch versification of a Daniel Heinsius was 
the much admired ideal of an Opitz, a Tscherning, and 
a Gryphius. It is lamentable to see how one German 
verse-maker in these days complimented another as 
a German Virgil, a very TibuUus, Horace, or Proper- 
tius; although there were not wanting instances of 
similar absurd flattery in the sixteenth century. From 
this day forward it was on the field of learning that 
German poetry exhibited its prowess. What a man 
had experienced himself, felt in his own heart, seen 
with his own eyes, such was not the substance of his 
poems ; but he only described what he had learned, what 
he had read. Eoman mythology, too, was the means 
now selected to give a particular colouring and bril- 
liancy to the German muse ; and the verse writers 
plumed themselves not a little on its introduction. If 
the muse was passionless, fancy kme, the verse lag- 
gard and rhymeless, a Jupiter and Juno were brought 
to give aid; Minerva and Apollo were also there; the 
modest Cynthia and Yenus with Cupid formed part of 


the poetical machinery. People fancied that poets 
could be made, like philologers, by time and practice ; 
that, by attention to rules, one poet might win laurels 
as well as another. Certain implements of trade must, 
of course, be at hand. Mythology, for^ instance ; me- 
thods of expression, borrowed from Latin and French 
poetry ; a stock of choice epithets, tropes, and meta- 
phors : provided with these, one might make Tcrses 
like shoes, or poems like coats. As for epics, one 
might, with perseverance, construct one as good as 
those of Homer : better too. Were not there plenty of 
faults in his ? Could not the learned writers of these 
modern days achieve something much more -perfect ? 

It is only on these grounds that one can at all under- 
stand the vast number of poetasters of the seventeenth 
century, who, without possessing any special call for the 
art, looked upon themselves as the upholders of the poetic 
genius of Grermany. We alluded above to the choice 
epithets which now came into vogue. ] Now through all 
its vicissitudes German poetry had never lost sight of 
the necessity of using simple and appropriate epithets. 
The green grass, the green wood, the wild wood, the 
dark night, were hitherto considered as sufficiently 
poetical expressions. The German poetry of the 
seventeenth century looked upon all this as rude and 
out of date. More attractive epithets must be in- 
vented, something sharper and more telling;* and so 
an expression like " dark evening," must be discarded. 
"Brown evening," that was the right phrase. \ And 

* See Hofmannwaldau, in the preface to his took, " Deutsche Ueber- 
setzungen und Gedichte," Breslau, 1679. 


accordingly " brown evening " ran frona mouth to 
mouth, as something perfectly charming, a marvel of 
poetic invention, and throughout the seventeenth cen- 
tury the, evening continued to be " brown, "^j In like 
manner /Qgitz's poems are full of " salted tears," 
" glassy waters," "cold north-stars," " pale cares," &c. 
With him the world is no longer "world," but "a 
round," "a great round," "a beautiful round," "a 
desert round." jHand is no longer "hand," but "fist;" 
the sea "blue salt." And yet Opitz is the most 
moderate of them aU. Lohenstein and his school 
ran quite epithet-mad. Indeed he has become a pro- 
verb of tumidity and bombast. Sound, not sense, was 
the motto of poetry-writers. We may quote the well- 
known lines of Opitz. 

"Die Lerche schreit auch: Dir, Dir, lieben Gott allein 
Singt alle Welt ; Dir, Dir, Dir, -will ich dankbar sein." 

" Tlie lark cries too: Thee, Thee, good God alone 
Sings all the world ; to Thee, Thee, Thee, will I be grateftiL" 

The chief merit of Opitz consists in his introduction 
of a new metrical system into Germany. This refers 
principally to narrative and not to lyric poetry. Every- 
body felt that an improvement was necessary, but 
nothing was done till he wrote a small volume in 1624, 
" Die deutsche Poeterei," on the appearance of which 
a perfect revolution took place. The doctrine herein 
propounded is, that in German verse, arsis and thesis 
must as regularly alternate as in antique trochaic 
and iambic verse long and short syllables alternate 
with each other. As for dactyls, Opitz discarded 

F 2 


them as unfitted for German poetry.' Notwithstanding 
which, these feet, as well as amphibrachs, anapsests, 
creticsj were before long introduced, with all the 
different kinds of ancient metre. 

With regard to the change inaugurated by Opitz, 
there is no doubt that the short pairs of rhymes (the 
form of the old poetic narrative) was now become 
utterly obsolete. In fact, it would only suit a pliant 
and musical tongue, such as was the Middle High- 
German. In New High-German it looked hard and 
inflexible. The tongue had altered, and the verse must 
necessarily be altered also, to bring the one into 
harmony with the other. The old short rhyme pairs 
were already, in the seventeenth century, pronounced 
nothing but doggerels. Unfortunately, however, the 
substitute hit upon by Opitz was, if possible, a change 
for the worse. This was the Alexandrine, borrowed 
from the Erench, and which the Germans praised to 
the skies as the ne plus ultra of German versification. 
This delusion prevailed down to the time of Lessing ; 
and very lately Elickert and FreUigrath have both put 
forward the pretensions of the " Wiisten-E,oss von Alex- 
andria" (the desert-steed of Alexandria). Another 
change made by Opitz was putting the epithet between 
the article and substantive. \ Instead of " das Miindlein 
rot, die Handlein weiss," he would write, " das rote 
Miindlein," &c. 

We must not omit to mention here, as a remarkable 
feature of those times, the foundation of societies pro- 
fessedly for the improvement of the German language 
and poetry. But they were mere silly imitations of 


similar societies in Italy, e. g., the " Arcadians " at 
Rome, the " Sleepers," at Genoa, and the " Delia 
Crusca," at Florence, which was perhaps the most 
absurd of all : with many others, aU of them scenes of 
nonsense and pompous buffoonery. On the 24th of 
August, 1617, the " Eruchtbrlngende GeseUschaft" 
(" Fruit-bearing Society ") was founded at "Weimar, in 
the presence of three Dukes of Saxony and a host of 
other princes and nobles.* This society was in every 
respect worthy of its illustrious prototypes. Each 
member had as his symbol some plant or product of a 
plant, e.g., one had a roll of white bread, with the device, 
" Nothing better." It is perhaps needless to observe, 
that the "fruit" produced by this august society was 
nil. Similar societies were founded at Strasburg and 
in Lower Saxony ; an " Order of the swan" in Hol- 
stein ; at Nuremberg, " The crowned order of flowers,"' 
which still exists. Such were the productions of those 
unfortunate times; — form without substance — husk 
without kernel — socially, politically, and poetically. 
The only sounds of true poetry at aU audible are the 
Evangelical Church Lays of Gerhard, and a few others. 
But we must enter into some particulars. 

* See Hille, "Der Teutsohe PalmenTjaiiin," 1647, and Ludwig, Prince 
of Anhalt, " Der Fruchtbrmgenden Gesellsohait Namen," &c., Frank- 
fort, 1648. From these two works arose the chief work on the Society, 
viz. George Neumark's (under his social name, " der Sprossende," " the 
Sprouter,") "Der neu-sprossende deutsche Palm-baum," &c., Nurem- 
berg, 1673. The most recent account of the Society is Barthold's 
" Geschichte d. F. Gesell.," 1848. 

p 3 

318 german liteeatuee. 


It will be most convenient to divide the verse writers 
into schools. Such were the first Silesian School, with 
Opitz at its head. The school of Konigsberg ; that 
of Nuremberg ; * Eist's School, in Holstein ; f and that 
of Philip von Zesen. In the last third of the century 
we have the second Silesian School, descended from 
•Opitz; and the poetry of common-place, under the 
patronage of Christian Weise. In this description the 
prose writings will be included, save and except the 

As far back as the year 1620, Silesia, which was 
less disturbed than the rest of Germany by the troubles 
of the times, exhibited not a few traces of poetical 
talent. This was, however, all in the classical line, 
which had flourished there since the days of Trotzendorf. 

P opular p oetry was not at home in that region. 
Here, then, in this classic soil, it was that " purity of 
German language, verse and rhyme," grew under the 
auspices of Martin Opitz. flOpitz had nothing of the 
inventive genius about him. He was a man of ordinary 
talent, who had a knack of taking the right cue and 
sailing with the popular gale, whichever way it blew. 
"Weak, good-tempered, and vain, in a strong age he 

* Johann Herdegen (Amarantes), "Historische Nachricht von des 
Hirten- und Blumen-Ordens," &c., Nuremberg, 1744. 

f One of them was Andreas Godeke, who wrote " Zimbrisehe Kriegs 
und Siegeslieder," Hamburg, 1667. iVr an account of the Order of the 
Swan, see Konrad von Hbyelen, " Deutscher Zimber-Swan," Lubeck, 
1666-67; Otto Schulz, "Die deutschen Sprachgesellschaften des 17 
Jahrhunderts," Berlin, 1824. 


-would have been despised ; hut in times of weakness he 
was the very man to thrive. \ Gervinus and Hoffmann 
von Fallersleben have been very severe upon him in 
their histories of German literature.* The secret of 
his popularity was, that he was all things to all men. 
At one and the same time he was translating for 
the Burgrave of Dohna, a Roman Catholic work, 
" Becanus," the object of which was to make papists 
of the people of Silesia ; and Grotius' work " De 
Veritate," for the town-council of Breslau, the bitter 
opponents of the Burgrave. Opitz made friends of 
everybody : of the Dukes of Silesia, the Danish princes, 
the Emperor Ferdinand 11., the King of Poland, and 
later of Oxenstiern. He was ready to toady — not the 
greatest of the dead, but the very smallest of the 
living. This will partly explain why the author of such 
middling poems, — which, compared with many of the 
sixteenth century, dwindle into insignificance — was . 
elevated into a " Pindar, a Homer, and a Maro," by 
his contemporaries. What really did in part entitle 
him to his celebrity was, not the substance, but the 
masterly^^r22i_©f his compositions. He it was who 
first restored German poetry to its natural flow, made 
it run smoothly, and in unison with the state of the 
language, as well as lightly and harmoniously, as of 
yore. But in saying that he is a master of form, pretty 
nearly all has been said in his favour that he deserves. 
On the other hand, his demerits are the demerits 
common to all the writers of his time. He is all fiction 

* Gervinus, " Gescliichte der poet. Nationalliteratur," iii. 213; Hoff- 
mann, "Politische Gedichte," &c., 1843, p. 217. 

p 4 


from beginning to end, and he it is that gives the tone 
to all the poetry of Germany till the days of Lessing 
and EHopstock. The feelings and sentiments are facti- 
tious, only exist upon paper, not in the heart of the 
poet. The disguise is transparent. It is all mere fine 
phrases, which too frequently sink into the weak, the 
trivia], and the mean. We have the screwed-up fancies 
of a pedant, who, when he emerges from the four walls 
of his study, is quite beside himself at the sight of a 
calf feeding on the meadow. We have the compli- 
ments of the smooth courtier, the set speeches of a half 
Christian — meve lip-talk without heart. He is the 
great authority in all sorts of occasional pieces, whe- 
ther of a congratulatory or condoling character, which 
abounded in the seventeenth century to a sickening 
degree. His " ICnQgtgedichte," " consolatory poems," 
written during the reverses of war, are the oldest and 
,far the best of his verse compositions. They did not 
come to light, it is true, till 1633, i. e. about twelve years 
after they were written. But the reason is, that they 
were of a strong Prote^ant tinge, and the author 
wished to earn his laurels first from the Emperor Fer- 
dinand II. and Count Dohna. They are often very 
learned, it is true, and frequently look like translations 
from the Latin ; but of all his descriptive pieces, they 
only have any truth in them. Next after these we may 
place several of his lyric pieces. His " Zlatna," on 
tranquillity of mind, is much inferior ; as likewise his 
" Vielguet," on true happiness ; while his " Vesuvius" 
is the most tedious descriptive poem imaginable. His 
"Daphne," a pastoral, is a pitiful affair; while his 


many Biblical imitations are dry and meagre. The 
largest space in his works is occupied by his transla- 
tions, e.g. of the "Antigone" of Sophocles, Seneca's 
" Trojan Women," and from the French and Dutch. 
His translations are open to less animadversion than his 
other pieces. The "Antigone" is still quite readable. 
His " Annolied" is mentioned elsewhere.* 

Passing over Buchner and a host of others, we next 
come to Paul Flemming, who, though no Silesian, 
wrote more than anybody in the spirit and form of 
Opitz. A hymn of his, " In alien meinen Thaten lass 
ich den Hochsten raten," is still sung in the churches 
of Germany. But he is most known as a lyrist, — an 
inferior one, it is true, — but yet infinitely truer than 
Opitz and his nuijierous crew. His song, " "Wie er 
woUe geklisset sein," is rather celebrated, although 
Gervinus has shown that another ode of his, on the 
marriage of one Schnorkel, (the first in the third book 

* Martin Opitz -was bom 23d December. 1597, at Bunzlau, and wrote 
verses in 1619, while still a student at Heidelberg. Afterwards he joined 
with D. Heiusius at Leyden. !From 1622-1624 he was teacher of 
philosophy at Weissenburg, in Transylvania, and it is to his residence 
there that we owe his poem of " Zlatna." Trom 1626 he was secretary 
to the Burgrave of Dohna, and ennobled by the Emperor in 1 629, under 
the title of " Opitz von Boberfeld." In 1636 he was made secretary and 
historiograph of the kingdom of Poland, and died of the plague at 
Danzig, 20th August, 1639. The first edition of his poems appeared at 
Strasburg in 1624, edited by Zinkgref. The first edition, superintended 
by himself, at Breslau, 1625, and two others, Breslau, 1629 and 1637-38. 
An important edition is that which appeared after his death, Danzig, 
1 641. The most complete of the late editions is Breslau, 1690, but very 
incorrect. The first part of an edition by Bodmer and Breitinger 
appeared in 1745. Another edition is that of Triller, Frankfort, 1746. 
A complete critical edition is still wanting. 

F 5 


of his odesj) Is of much higher merit. One thing at 
least can be said in his praise, viz., that there is more 
poetry and life, and less of the mechanical, in his 
occasional pieces than in those of Opitz and most of 
his followers. His poems, for instance, on Germany, 
and on his step-mother, are really good. His sonnet to 
himself, beginning " Sei dennoch unverzagt gib dennoch 
unverloren," is excellent ; while his own epitaph, written 
three days before his death, in the thirty-first year of his 
age at Hamburg, half a year after the death of Opitz, 
betrays somewhat of the common vanity of the time, 
but evinces withal no little poetical power.* 

Andreas Gryphius is the third leader of this school, 
which died out with him in 1664, As a lyrist he is 
little behind Flemming. Instead of depicting the cheer- 
ful side of life, like Flemming, he selects the earnest 
side of it. This feature of his composition is exem- 
plified in the lay " Die Herrlichkeit der Erden muss 
Staub und Asche werden," which is still sung in German 
churches. His " Kirchof-Gedanken," ("Church-yard 
Thoughts,") a poem in fifty strophes, is also celebrated. 
The tendency observable in it to exaggerated descrip- 
tion, as well as the indulgence in unnatural exclama- 
tions, and artificial and bombastic expressions, are still 
more glaring in his tragedies. He has been called the 
Father of German dramatic poetry. In some respects 
this may be true. He determined the direction of 

* Flemming was bom 5th October, 1 609, at Hartenstein, in the Vogt- 
land, and went as physician with the embassy of the Duke of Gottorp 
to Persia in 1634, returning in 1639 ; he died at Hamburg, 7th April, 
1640. His poems were first published at Jena, 1642; the best known 
is the enlarged edition of Merseburg, 1685. 


German tragedy towards foreign and modern subjects, 
and ordered the description according to the rules of 
art. He was the first to introduce order and connexion 
of eventSj and gave an individuality to the different 
characters. But it would be an error to say that 
Gryphius took the right and true path, or that he was 
the first to awaken the dramatic consciousness of the 

His tragedies are for the most part on very out-of- 
the-way subjects, e. g., " Leo the Armenian," the By- 
zantine Emperor who was murdered at the Christmas 
festival in the year 820. This is one of his best. It 
was written in 1646, and re-modelled 1661. Another 
is styled " Papinianus," who was executed by Caracalla. 
Both these pieces are deficient in incident, but rich 
in sententious passages and rhetorical exclamations. 
**Karl Stuart," on the trial and death of Charles I., is 
more like a rhetorical exercise than anything else. Little 
can be said in praise of " Katharlna von Georgien," the 
subject of which is taken from Chardin's " Voyages en 
Perse." " Cardenio und Celinde " is borrowed from 
an Italian novel. It is one of his weakest pieces. All 
these plays are divided into scenes, just as at present, 
besides which they are provided with a chorus. In 
" Karl Stuart " the chorus is represented by the ghosts 
of murdered English kings. In " Katharina," in addi- 
tion to the ghosts of murdered people, we have the 
Virtues, Death, and Love. In " Leo " the chorus 
consists of priests and maidens. Ghosts, however, are 
introduced, who do not belong to the chorus. Thus, 
in " Leo," we have the ghost of the Patriarch of Jeru- 

V 6 


salem ; and, in " Katharina," Eternity is summoned 
from Heaven to speak the prologue. In comedy, 
Gryphius achieved much better things. His two 
original prose comedies, " Peter Squenz " and " Hor- 
ribilicribrifax," are excellent in their way. They are, 
both of them, a great advance upon the old Shrove-tide 
farces. The first of these pieces is nearly allied with 
the well-known episode in Shakespeare's " Midsummer 
Night's Dream." Early in the seventeenth century 
this interlude was introduced by Daniel Schwenter on 
the German stage, in the shape given it by the Eng- 
lishman Cox. From this, as Gryphius himself states, 
he caught the idea, but the details are his own. A set 
of bungling would-be comedians have the audacity to 
try their powers in learned mythical subjects. Here, 
as in Shakespeare, Pyramus and Thisbe are the objects 
of their histrionic ambition. It is a case of comedy 
within comedy, where the actors flounder along into all 
sorts of absurdities, to the great diversion of the Royal 
audience. These potentates, on the conclusion of the 
divertissement, decline to give a farthing for the play 
itself, but reward the players with fifteen guldens for 
every blunder they have made. 

In " Horribilicribrifax " the action is less connected, 
but the two retired ofiicers, Captain Horribilicribrifax 
and Captain Diridaradatumdarides, admirably represent 
the braggadocio partizans of the Thirty Years' "War. 
One of these is for ever interlarding his conversation 
with Italian, the other with French. Sempronius, the 
retired schoolmaster, is an inimitable caricature of the 
preposterous erudition of those days, which was con- 


tinually expressing itself in phrases from Virgil and 
Cicero, never forgetting to add, inquit Cicero, inquit 
Yirgilius. Coarse passages are not wanting in these 
pieces, but at all events Gryphius divests his comedies 
of the stiffness and uniformity of the Silesian school, and 
assays to do, what that school did not, describe real life.* 
He also tried his skill in epigram, at that time called 
Beischriften, but he was far surpassed by Friedrich 
von Logau, a Silesian nobleman, who in 1638 issued a 
collection of 200 epigrams, and in 1654 another of 
3,553. In description and flow of language Logau is 
not a whit inferior to the heads of the school, while in 
truth of feeling, earnestness of purpose, and in terse- 
ness of expression, he excels them all, Opitz included. 
The best half of these epigrams are so good that Ger- 
many may well be proud of them. Indeed, they are 
quite on a par with anything of the kind by "Wernicke, 
Kastner, and Gockingk, and superior to the epigrams 
of Haug. One of their best features is that they are 
not exclusively devoted to literary topics, or private 
follies, but to matters of general interest, and to the 
public affairs of the time. Would it, then, be believed 
that fifty years after his death, Logan's name was for- 

* Andreas Gryphius was torn 11th Octoher, 1616, at Grossglogau. 
After nearly ten years spent in travel, he was made Syndicus of the 
Principality of Glogau in 1647, and died 16th July, 1664. His "Leo 
der Armenier" appeared in 1639, 1650, 1663; the " Horribilicribrifax,'' 
1661 ; the "Epigrams," 1663. These editions have become rare. The 
first collective edition of his works appeared, under his own superin- 
tendence, 1657; a second, containing his poems written after that date, 
was published by his son. Christian Gryphius, 1698; wanting, however, 
" Das "Verliebte Gespenst." It was re-edited by Palm, Breslau, 1855, 
with the " Geliebte Dornrose," a piece in the Silesian dialect. 


gotten ? — a striking contrast to the success of Opitz. 
But there was a good reason for it. He despised all 
the dedicational and laudatory trash of the day, and 
would not even aflfix his name to his epigrams, which 
professed to be the work of Salomo von Golau. His 
works are, of course, not to be found in the catalogue 
of the "Fruit-bearing Society," of which he was a 
member; and the Polyhistor, Morhof, did not know 
his real appellation. An anonymous selection appeared 
in 1702, which omits the best of his epigrams, and 
spoils many of the rest. It was reserved for Lessing 
and Rammler to point out his merits. Even their 
edition, containing about one-third of his pieces, fails 
to give a correct idea of him as a describer of contem- 
porary manners. This can only be obtained in the 
complete edition of his original works.* 

Joachim Eachel represents poetic satire in this 
school. He was a native of North Germany, and died 
at Sleswig in 1669. His six or (if the last two are 
genuine) eight satires, are too learned for satire 
proper. His descriptions of the degenerate state of 
youthful education, as also that of the ever-ready poets 
of the day, are good, although the former is an imi- 
tation of Juvenal, and contains much that is quite 
un-German. Prose satire is represented by Hans 
Michael Moscherosch, of Alsace.f His " Gesichte 

* Mederich von Logau was bom at Nimptsch, in Silesia, 1604 ; -was 
in the service of the Duke of Liegnitz, and died 1655. The complete 
edition of his epigrams is entitled " Salomons von Golau deutscher Sinn- 
Getiehte Drey Tausend." 

f Bom at Wilstadt, in the county of Hanau-Liehtenberg, in Alsace, 
7th March, 1600 (old style) ; -was in the service of Counts Leiningen, the 


Philanders von Sittenwald " waa very popular at one 
time, and not unworthily so. His chief value lies in 
the sketches of contemporary manners. But the satire 
disappears almost entirely in a cloud of allegory. On 
the whole, this piece leaves anything rather than a 
comic or satirical impression. While the writer pro- 
fesses to satirize pedantry and affectation of the foreign, 
he falls into the very fault itself. The work is crammed 
with Latin verses, and French, Italian, and Latin 
phrases. While it assails the unnatural stiffness and 
silly knowingness of the day, it is itself a specimen 
of the absurdities it assails. With the works of the 
older satirists, Murner and Pischart, it had nothing in 
common. , It is thoroughly modem, and a product of 
the modern learning. It is true that the author ex- 
pressly states that it is his object to pourtray ^-la-mode 
virtues in a-la-mode colouring ; but it seems to come so 
natural to him that nobody can believe that his object 
is ridicule. Still, the work is an important contribution 
to the social history of those days. Indeed, in one part, 
" Soldatenleben," there are more vivid glimpses at the 
Thirty Years' War than can be found anywhere else. 

Counts Kriechlngen, tlie Dukes of Croy, the King of Sweden, and, after 
1656, was privy-councillor at Hanau. He died at Worms, 4th April, 
1669. The first edition of his works appeared in 1640, containing seven 
Gesichte; the second in 1642-1643, with four more, or eleven In all. 
In the same year, or 1 644, appeared " Pflaster wider das Podagram," 
and " Soldatenlehen," both separately. The edition of 1646 or 1647 
contains all thirteen Gesichte. In the fourth edition, of 1650, a new 
piece, " Reformation," is added. These fourteen appeared, with addi- 
tions, in 1665, and again in 1677. In 1645 eleven spurious Gesichte 
appeared, along with the genuine ones, by an imknown author, at 
Frankfort-on-the-Maine. In 1830 the genuine Gesichte, together with a 
biography of Moscherosoh, were published by Dittmar. 


Like most of the works of the school, it is not original 
being an imitation of Quevedo's " Suenos." Still, then 
is no little originality about it in reference to Germany 
He found many imitators, but none are worthy of re 

Lastly, we have the collectors of anecdotes, who tool 
the place of the earlier proverb collectors, as these 
in their turn, had succeeded the older gnomic poets 
Julius Wilhelm Zinkgraf, born in the Palatinate, bui 
resident in Alsace, and the friend of Opitz, whos< 
works he edited, stands first here. He coUectec 
" Apophthegmata," or clever sayings of distinguishec 
Germans, old and modern. It begins with sayings o: 
emperors, and ends with sayings of fools, and is so wel 
done, that it is well worth reading, Subsequently, ii 
was published, with additions, by Weidner; but the 
additions are much inferior to the original. A tolerable 
selection from it was published several years ago bj 

The Konigsberg group or School is represented bj 
Robert Eoberthin, Heinrich Albert, and Simon Dach 
They chiefly wrote lyrics, and their best productions 
are fraught with more life and naturalness than any- 
thino' of the Silesian School. There is an excellem 
church-hymn by Albert, " Einen guten Kampf hab 
ich in der Welt gekampfet." Dach's " Annchen vor 
Tharau " is sung at the present day.* 

* Eobert Eoberthin, who called himself Berintho, lived till 1648, a 
Brandenburg councillor at Konigsberg. Albert 'va.s organist at Konigs 
berg till 1668, and published these poems, -vrith some others, and witl 
musical notes, 1638-1650. Dach was, till 1659, professor of poetry a 
Konigsberg. The complete edition of his works appeared 1696. 


A striking contrast to this natural poetry is afforded 
by the productions of the society called Pegnitzschafer 
at Nuremberg. Artificial and strained to excess, their 
very essence seems to depend upon dactyls and anapaests 
cunningly arranged. Sugared, effeminate, and unreal, 
they suit the age exactly. Not only the seventeenth 
century teemed with these Idyllic Daphnes and Daph- 
nises ; but even in the eighteenth there was no lack 
of this Arcadian trumpery. Gessner closed the series. 
Dramas too, with abundance of singing, but very little 
sense, poured forth in Nuremberg. The Coryphsei of 
this school were George Philip Harsdorfer and Johann 
Klei. The latter had a great turn for writing spiri- 
tual "Singspiele" (melodrames), e.g. "Herod the Child- 
murderer," "The Fight between the Angel and the 
Dragon," Here is a specimen of his quavering, jin- 
gling, whirligig versicles : — 

"Wir holen Violen in blumiGhten Auen, Narzissen entspriessen 
von perlenen Thauen, 
Die besten der Westen nun blumen ausstreuen, die !Felder, die 

Walder ihr Laubwerk erneuen, 
Die Blatter vom Wetter sehr lieblichen spielen, es nisten und 
pisten die Vogel im Kiihlen." 

Hartzdorfer gained great celebrity by his " Frauen- 
zimmer-Gesprachspiele," a sort of ladies' encyclopaedia ; 
and still more by his recipe for writing poetry, " Der 
Poetische Trichter," dedicated to Moscherosch.* 

Another group of poetasters, anxious to maintain "the 
ornateness, and sweetness, and purity of the primjeval 

* See Julius Tittmann, " Die NUrnberger Dichterschule, Harsdorfer, 
Klay," Birken, 1847. 


heroic tongue of Germany," clustered round Johann 
Rist, pastor at "Wedel, in Holstein. In constructing 
lyrics he was very expert ; but with him poetry was a 
mechanical and superficial affair. It is only in religious 
poetry that he displays any truth or originality. Of 
Jacob Schwieger, alias Philidor der Dorferer's, nume- 
rous lyric compositions, "Des Fluchtigen fliichtige 
Feldrosen " and " Die Greharnischte Venus," are the 
only ones that rise above the common-place. 

He also wrote tragedies, comedies, and "Misch- 
spiele " (mixed pieces), e. g. " Der Vermeinte Prinz," 
from the Italian of Pallavicini; "Ernelinde," from 
the English ; also an original drama " Die "Wittekinder." 
Here we have introduced Hans "Wurst (the German 
Jack-pudding), with his dull, coarse buffoonery, the 
almost invariable adjunct of all German plays, till he 
was formally and solemnly banished by Gottsched. 

One more group of the middle of the seventeenth 
century remains to be mentioned ; Philip von Zesen's 
" Eosengesellschaft," (Society of Roses). Like the 
Nuremberg Society, they thought of nothing but jingle 
and omateness ; and even went beyond them in artifi- 
ciality. They had a particular passion for madrigals 
(called by Zesen " Shattenliedlein "), and French and 
Italian rondeaux. These, Zesen put into dactylic 
metre, which in his opinion bore the palm over every 
other kind of verse. In his excessive anxiety to purify 
the language he indulged in manifest absurdities. Nature 
he called " producing-mother ;" crown prince, "kingly 
prince ;" theatre, "show-castle ;" obelisk, " sun-point ;'> 
a verse was " Dichtling " (diminutive, from dichten, to 


write poetry). Venus was "Lustinije" (feminine of Lust, 
i. e. pleasure). Aphrodite, "Schauminne" (her foami- 
ness). Juno, " her heavenliness ;" a mask, " a mumming 
face ;" a window was " daylighter," and so on.* The 
marvellous eflfect which such words would produce is 
evident. Zesen was a most prolific versifier. In the 
year 1637, when he was eighteen, he began his career, 
and wrote away till he was seventy. Purist in lan- 
guage as he was, he is called by Calov, the theologian, 
" Corrumpuntius patrise linguae." Kachel calls him, 
ironically, " The Poet ;" and " Zesianer " was for a 
long time a term of ridicule. Still he had many 
defenders and many imitators ; and his adherents were 
extant even in Gottsched's time.f 

We shall now briefly allude to some poetical com- 
positions which, though contemporary with the first 
Silesian School, were independent of it. 

The evangelical church lay must come first. In 
those days of pedantry and artificiality, it alone still 
preserved a tone of genuine truth ; it alone was popular 

* A catalogue of these -wonderful expressions was appended by 
Zesen to the " Adriatische Eosemunda," 366. 

t Zesen was bom in Priorau, near Dessau, 1619, and, after living in 
a variety of places, among others at Amsterdam, for a long time, died at 
Hamburg, 1689. His earliest works are, " Adriatische Eosemund," 1645, 
and the translations from the French, " Ibrahim und Isabella," 1645," So- 
phonisbe," 1646. His latest written works are the Biblical Eomances, 
" Assenat," 1 670, " Moses and Simson," 1679. A collection of his lyrics 
appeared 1670, entitled " Dichterisches Eosen- und Lilienthal." Zesen 
was most celebrated for his introduction to German poetry, which ap- 
peared in numerous editions after 1640, under the title of " Hoch- 
deutscher Helikon." 


in the highest sense. Powerful and active must have 
been that faith which could extract from writers like 
Gryphius and Flemming — sunk as they were in alle- 
gorical fancies and starched unrealities — such genuine 
effusions of Christian faith as "In alien meinen 
Thaten," and " Die Herrlichkeit der Erden." 

In the main, the character of the evangelical church 
hymn in this period is the same as we have seen it 
was in the sixteenth century. It is an exponent of 
one's own immediate personal feelings and experience ; 
not the result of poetic fancy and divination. It comes 
from the heart and goes to the heart. It addresses 
itself to the masses, to every rank and age ; it gives 
utterance to the people's joys and sorrows ; it belongs 
to the church and to all. But it differs from the elder 
evangelical church hymn in this, that whereas in the 
latter few allusions are made to especial circumstances 
of society, and the influence exercised thereon by the 
evangelical faith, the new church hymn lays the 
greatest stress on the position of Germany as affected 
by the evangelical faith, with the troubles and disorders 
of the thirty years' war. It abounds with funeral songs, 
songs of the Cross and of comfort, and family songs 
for morning and evening. Most of these hymns 
are in the old popular short pair of rhymes, which 
had been abandoned by the secular poets ; in the 
ancient and now despised Hildebrandston, together 
with the tripartite strophe system. The method of 
expression, too, is simple ; there are no tropes and 
metaphors, no scene-painting, abstractions, or reflexions. 
Lastly, the hymns of the seventeenth century are 


smootli and flowing, as conapared with the rugged 
power and elevation of those of the sixteenth. 

Of course, these observations principally refer to 
the best and acknowledged hymns of the evangelical 
church; indeed, taken as a whole, they are only appli- 
cable to one poet, Paul Gerhard. His " Ein Lammlein 
geht und tragt die Schuld ; " " Ich singe dir mit Herz 
und Mund;" "O Haupt voU Blut und Wunden;" 
" Ich bin ein Gast auf Erden ; " " Nun ruhen alle 
Walder;" "Befiehl du deine Wege," are among the 
choicest specimens of the German lyric muse. Of 
Gerhard's one hundred and twenty songs, some are not 
church but spiritual songs, e. g., " Geduld ist euch von 
noten ;" " Nicht so traurig, nicht so sehr ;" all are 
written in the simple child-like old tone, coming from 
the deepest and most sacred recesses of the heart. Next 
in merit are the hymns of the Electress of Branden- 
burg, " Jesus meine Zuversicht," and " Ich will von 
meiner Missethat zum Herren mich bekehren." Then 
we may mention Rinkart's " Nun danket alle Gott ;" 
Neumark's " Wer nur den lieben Gott lasst walten ;" 
Rodigast's ""Was Gott thut das ist wohlgethan;" 
Albinus' " Alle Menschen miissen sterben." 

In Rist's hymns there is more life and solemnity 
than even in Gerhard's. At times he approaches the 
sublime, e. g. " Auf, auf, ihr Eeichsgenossen, der Konig 
kommt heran ; " " O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort ;" " O 
Schwert das durch die Seele bohrt ;" " O Anfang sen- 
der Ende." Like the rest of his school, however, he is 
inclined to painting details, e. g,, in the hymn " O 


Johann Heermann, of Koben, in Silesia, stands 
midway between the old and new period of Church 
Hymns. His pieces exhibit features belonging to both. 
Some of them are written in the Sapphic metre which 
now came into fashion ; e. g., " Herzliebster Jesu, was 
hast du verbrochen 1" He also uses the Alexandrine ; 
e. g., in "O Gott, du frommer Gott!" which Rinckart 
afterwards availed himself of in " Nun danket alle 
Gott." At a later period we meet with the hexameter, 
which is quite incompatible with this species of com- 
position ; e. g., in Neander's " Lobe den Herren, den 
machtigen Konig der Ehren." The writer, too, be- 
comes more subjective in tone; describes his own 
individual feelings rather than those of the crowd ; and 
indulges more in Christian phantasy than Christian 
experience. The jingle of fine words and descriptions 
in glaring colours crept into the Church hymn after 
the time of Gerhard; so that a confusion arose which 
even continues to the present day between the genuine 
Church hymn and the spiritual song. With the seven- 
teenth century the real Church hymn disappeared, and 
in its place we have only (geistliche) spiritual lays, 
songs of contemplation, thought, and description, made 
to be read, not sung; till at last the noble old hymn 
died out with Gellert, and was superseded by unevan- 
gelical, not to say unchristian, rhymes. 

Of writers belonging to no particular school the 
following may be mentioned. Friedrich von Spec, a 
Jesuit monk, who began to write about 1 620, although 
his poems were not published tiU fourteen years after his 
death. The tone of his pieces reminds us of the Monk 


of Salzburg and Heinrich von Laufenberg ; while they 
also bear many points of resemblance to the Evan- 
gelical Hymn. The name he gave them was " Trutz- 
Nachtigall," meaning that he would sing in spite of the 
nightingale. The most characteristic feature of these 
poems is a child-like, heartfelt feeling for nature, joined 
with an ardent love of the Saviour. lu the first feature, 
as well as in his tendency to playfulness, he resembles 
the old Minnesingers ; in the second, the Evangelical 
Lay writers. Never esteemed by his own church, 
and unnoticed by the Protestants, he was first taken 
up by the Romantic School. Spee overflowed with 
Christian love in its fullest sense ; it gushes forth in 
his poems, about which there is a reality not to be 
found in the artificial productions of the Silesian School. 
He was one of the first to set his face against the trials 
for witchcraft, and wrote a book on the subject. His 
Christian feeling is evidenced by the answer he gave to 
Philip von Schonborn, afterwards Elector of Mayence, 
when he asked him how, at the age of forty, his hair 
had come to be icy-grey. " My hair has grown grey 
with grief to think that of all the witches I have had 
to attend to the scaffold, I could not find one that was 
not innocent." * 

* !Friedrlch vou Spee was born at Kaiserswert, in 1591; entered the 
Society of Jesus at Cologne, 1610 ; lived 1624-1626, at Paderbomj 
1627-1629, at Wiirzbnrg; 1630-31, at Falkenhagen. While here he 
published his " Cautio Criminalis." He died at Treves, August 7, 1635, 
of over-exertion in attending the wounded soldiers at the storming of 
that city by the Spaniards, May 6, 1635. The " Tratz-Nachtigall " 
first appeared at Cologne, 1649, 12mo. Verses of his are also to be 


George Eudolf "Weckherlin was, so to say, the proto- 
type of Opitz ; for he wrote learned poetry and em- 
ployed the new measurement in verse before Opitz. 
In style and language he is harder than his successor. 
Living for the most part in London, he did not exer- 
cise the influence which he might have done on his 
contemporaries. " Wakkerlin sings as good as he 
can," was the compassionate remark of Zesen* respect- 
ing him. 

Johann Scheffler, of Silesia, is better known by the 
name he assumed of Angelus Silesius. At a later 
period of his life he turned Roman Catholic. But 
before this he wrote some hymns which are still used 
by the Evangelical Church. For heartfelt fervour, they 
are unsurpassed in the language. His " Cherubinischer 
Wandersmann" contains a quantity of apophthegms 
about the world and art, diametrically opposed to 
the sententious wisdom and pretence of the Silesian 
School. Thus, in the sentence headed " Ohne "Warum." 
i. e., " "Without a wherefore," he says, " The rose is 
without a wherefore. It blooms because it does bloom; 
it thinks not of itself, does not ask whether people see 
it." These proverbs are imbued with a high spirit of 

found in the " Giildene Tugendtuch," 1649. The former -work, together 
with these verses, was edited by Clemens Brentano, 1817, hut with the 
orthography altered. The " Trutz-Nachtigall " was also published iu 
1641, by Hiippe and Junkmaun. 

* " Eosemunde," the poem from whence this line is taken, contains a 
long and laudatory catalogue of the" then living poets and poetesses. Of 
Buchner, he writes, " Der grosse Buchner, — dehm sich kein Zizero, 
noch Maro gleichen kan." 


poetry, but at times are disfigured by the Pantheistic 
notions which Scheffler held ; e, g. 

" God lives not without me: 
I know that without me God can't exist a second. 
Annihilate me, and he gives up the ghost." 

Anyhow, Angelas Silesius is out and out one of the 
most distinguished poetical personages to be found in 
Germany for two whole centuries.* 

Two satire-writers remain to be mentioned, whose 
productions are conceived more in the popular style, 
and remind us of the satire of the sixteenth century. 
The one is Wilhelm Laurenberg, of Rostock, the last 
German poet who wrote anything worth mentioning 
in Low-German (Platt-deutsch). His "Veer olde 
bercimede Schertzgedichte" are, it is true, written in the 
Alexandrine, then in fashion ; but the matter is quite 
of a popular nature, and in the true comic vein. The 
subjects of his ridicule are the verse-writing for pay, 
and the Frenchified fashions in dress and domestic life. 
The best idea of his merits is obtained by comparing 
him with his contemporary Rachel, who handled the 
same topics after the manner of Opitz. The other is 
Johann Balthaser Schuppius, of Giessen, who was Pro- 
fessor of History and Eloquence at Marburg from 1635 
to 1646. Subsequently he was Court-preacher at 
Braubach, and in this capacity preached the sermon on 

* Scheffler was horn at Breslau, 1624, and died there, 1677. Origi- 
nally a physician, and attached as such to the Court of Wiirtemberg, on 
becoming a pervert to Popery, he took orders, and was assessor to the 
Bishop of Breslau. His religious poems (also entitled " Heilige SeeJen- 
lust") appeared in the same year, as " Chenihiniseher Wandersmaun," 



the conclusion of tte peace of "Westphalia, at Mlinster. 
After this he was head of the clergy at Hamburg, 
where he died 1661, aged 51. Full of life and energy, 
he was a declared foe of the Opitz school, and of the 
useless pedantry of the times. Instinct with wit, 
humour, and earnestness — abounding with felicitous 
allusions to the topics of the day, and couched in a 
lively natural style, his writings contrast forcibly with 
the starched and stilted prose then so much in vogue. 
Perhaps they are the very best of the seventeenth cen- 
tury. His sermons, too, unlike those of his colleagues, 
are In the popular tone, and, though at times coarse, 
very impressive, and occasionally touching. One of 
these, on the New Year — due allowance being made 
for the congratulatory parts, which were In accordance 
with the then fashion — is quite a model of popular 
eloquence. It was these very discourses which in- 
flamed the wrath of the Hamburg clergy. The dis- 
sensions which resulted In consequence we have to 
thank for the majority of his satirical and humorous 
pieces. In modem times he had become totally for- 
gotten, until he was rescued from oblivion by Wachler.* 

Having thus briefly described the opponents of the 
Opitz school, we shall proceed to investigate its further 
development and fortunes. 

That Opitz tried to regulate the metre, and bring It 

* See Wachler, on Schuppius, in his " Vorlesnngen," &o. 1818-1819, 
ii. 64, and in Ebert's " Ueberlieferungen," 1826, 1. 2, p. 140. Most of his 
chief writings in the German language (all short treatises) were written 
in his later years, 1656-1660. He was bom at Giessen, 1610; died at 
Hamburg, Octoher^^l€61. 


info unison with the state of the language, has been 
already stated. But, on the other band, the propensity 
of his adherents for external ornamentation, for quaint 
and select epithets, for jingling sounds, for word-paint- 
ing, and the like — although he himself may have kept 
within modest bounds — soon passed all limits. The 
declamation and rhetoric of the older school now swelled 
into bombast and false pathos. The colouring ran mad ; 
the lofty tones rose into a scream. A monstrosity was 
the result, which bore within itself the germ of its own 
dissolution. Such was the fate of the second Silesian 
School — so called because its chiefs, Christian Hofmann 
von Hofmannswaldau and Daniel Caspar von Lohen- 
stein, were, like their predecessors of forty years before, 
natives of Silesia. 

Another collateral cause of decay, often before al- 
luded to, was the prevalent idea inculcated by count- 
less manuals, that poetry was not an innate gift, but an 
art easily attained by practice — an article of luxury, 
that every one might acquire, and must acquire, if he 
wished to be in the mode, by going to school for it. 
According to this notion, poetry would become a mere 
mechanical operation ; and such was the creed of Chris- 
tian Weise, (rector of the school at Weissenfels, and then 
at Zittau,) with his train of wishy-washy verse-writers. 

Miserable as their compositions were, they, never- 
theless, did one good : dethroned the bombast of the 
second Silesian School. Gottsched joined them, and 
this led to the dispute between him and the Swiss, 
which prepared the way for the second classical period 
of German Literature. 

Q 2 


Christian Hofmann von Hofmannswaldau*, tte elder 
representative of the second Silesian School, was, in his 
youth, personally acquainted with Opitz. From him, in 
a great measure, he took his poetic inspiration. But he 
was, as he himself states, influenced most by the immoral 
effusions of the French, and by the poetry of GuarinI 
and Marino, whose honeyed, bombastic, and impure 
verse, often merely calculated to tickle the ear, was just 
the stimulant required by the enervated scribblers of the 
day. From this source it was that Hofmannswaldau 
derived his " sharpened " epithets, as he calls them ; 
his multiplication of strong phrases; his nauseously 
sweet images ; his forced descriptions, sublime and 
ridiculous in a breath, and his inconceivable indecency ; 
defects, however, in which he was imitated, if not 
exceeded, by Lohenstein and others. Besides his 
separate lyric pieces, his most characteristic work is 
his " Heldenbriefe," or amatory epistles, after the man- 
ner of Ovid, exchanged between a number of distin- 
guished lovers, e. g. Charles the Fifth and Barbara 
von Blomberg ; Albert III. of Bavaria and Agnes 
Bernauerin ; Duke Henry of Brunswick and Eva von 
Trott ; Abelard and Heloise. 

Charles the Fifth writes to Barbara as follows : — 

" The year has four seasons, thou hnt one : 
The spring for ever hlooms round thy fresh mouth ; 

* Christian Hofmann von Hofmannswaldau, bom at Breslau, 1618; 
died there in 1679, as Prseses of the Council. None of his poems were 
published till the year of his death, 1679; ("Deutsche Uehersetzungen 
und Gedichte). Long after his death many of them were published, for 
the first time, in " Hbfinanswaldau und anderer Deutschen Auserlesene 
Gedichte," 1697-1727. 


No -winter is -with thee; for the light of thine eyes 

The sun itself can hardly shine. 

Thou hearest virtue in a purple cup, 

Adorned, it seems, with whitest ivory ; 

Thy mouth is the resort of a thousand nightingales, 

Where angel-tongues chime in with the music." 

Eva Trott writes to the Duke of Brunswick in these 
terms : — 

" O would that I could change my mouth to honeycomh ; 
Would that my breast were changed into a swan's ; 
Could I hut give to thee, with gentle hand. 
Some pleasure untasted yet by lovers. 
Could I, like balsam, melt upon thy lap, 
Methinks the maid, thro' which the Sun must pass (i.e. the 

sign Virgo) 
Would yield to me in honour ; 
For I am more than her, — she never gets a kiss." 

These specimens will suffice to show the style of his 

Lohensteiuj* a younger poet with a more exuberant 
fancy, goes still further in all the worst features of the 
school, especially in indecency. In those days, while 
people lived indecently in France, they wrote inde- 
cently in Germany ; and thus both these writers were 
very honourable earnest men, whose lives were quite 
free from the impurities of their poems. It was only 
the higher classes, and not the mass of the people, that 
were infected with this poison. Indeed, from the end 

* Daniel Kaspar von Lohenstein, born at Nimptsch, 1635; died, an 
Imperial Councillor, at Breslau, 1683. With the exception of "Ibrahim 
Bassa," which appeared in 1650, and "Ibrahim Sultan," which appeared 
1673, his dramas were published between 1661 and 1665. He collected 
his lyric poems (" Blumen," " Rosen," " Hyacinthen," " GeistUohe Gedan- 
ken," " Thranen,") in 1680. In Neukirch's collection, mentioned in the 
preceding note, his " Venus," and other poems, are to be found. 

Q 3 


of the thirty years' war to the French Eevolution may 
be pronounced the best, the most moral, and most reli- 
gious, period of Germany. Lohenstein wrote several 
dramas, which were highly admired. Also a great num- 
ber of lyric and descriptive poems. Of the latter, his 
" Venus " was greatly praised. He is also the author 
of a romance, hereafter to be mentioned. The bombast 
of his style is proverbial. Here is a specimen from his 
tragedy of Agrippina : — 
Megsera speaks : 

" Arch murderer! (Nero) as the bloody weals, 
Stricken by my serpent-rod, 
Imprint Orestes' swarthy neck. 
Because he slew his mother, 
So shall my whip, with tenfold greater pains, 
Thee crimson: fire and sulphur blacken thee." 

Tisiphone : 

" Come, sisters, help me bind up rods ; 
Come, lend me your viper hair; 
Help me to kindle rosin from Phlegethon 
Hither, with tinder, sulphur, pitch ; 
Lay bare his limbs ; use torches, flame, and rod, 
tJntil the flame is quenched in the murderer's blood." 

His best drama, perhaps, is " Ibrahim Bassa." But, 
perhaps, a specimen from the poems of one of his 
scholars will show to what an absurd pitch of bombast 
the school arrived : — 

" Nectar, and sugar, and juicy cinnamon. 
Pearly dew, honey, and Jupiter's juice. 
Balsam, that glimmers brighter than coal-flame, 
Of every plant the powers united. 
In flavour these are bitter more than sweet, 
Compared with the nectar of sugary kisses." 


All that needs be remarked further is, that the spiri- 
tual songs of the Halle school, and also of Zinzendorf, 
were infected with the absurdities of Lohenstein ; and 
that he and his disciples begot the monster " poetical 
prose," which is hardly yet exterminated in Germany. 

Very little need be said about the other offshoot of the 
second Silesian School, the " Water Poets " with Weise 
at their head. In his opinion, every youth who wished 
to cut a figure in the world, must spend some hours 
each day in writing verses.* True to this theory, he 
made great endeavours to have poetry-writing taught 
in the German Gymnasia. His efforts were crowned 
with success ; and a precious set of versifiers were pro- 
duced. Hunold, to wit, who called himself Menantes ; 
and who, in concert with the Pietist School of Franke, 
at Halle, successfully opposed the voluptuous tone 
introduced by Lohenstein.f Then, again, Postel, 
Henrici, Corvinus {alias Amaranthes), Hanke, Bar- 
thold Feind, von Besser, and J. Ulrich Konig, whose 
poems were edited by Gottsched, and highly praised by 
him for their purity of form, though in matter they are 
utterly deficient^, — and lastly, Daniel "Wilhelm Triller, 

* " Cliristian Weise der Griinenden Jugend notwendige Gedanken," 
1675 (1690). No. xx-rii. p. 72. 

t Hunold lived at Halle from 1708 to his death in 1718. He pub- 
lished a collection of poems by Tarious writers, including his own under 
the name of Menantes, in opposition to the obscene tone of Hof- 
mannswaldaH. Here are poems by J. Lange, Bogazky, Knorr von 
Bosenroth, and Eambach. In p. 745 he speaks out most plainly 
against the indecent poetry of the day, which he had himself formerly 

:j: Heinrieh Postel, of Hamburg, must not be confounded with Nikolaus 
von Bostel, of Stade, whose poems were first published after his early 

Q 4 


the editor of some spurious works of Opitz. As late as 
1739 he sang the merits of the poet Brookes in the 
following strain : — 


" Great Brookes, oh ! say how far thou'lt go. 
How high thy fame like eagle soar. 
Thy verse, enchantress of the soul, 
Can by its power e'en dead hearts move." * 

These pretty poetasters dwelt, for the most part, 
at Hamburg, and at Leipzig, making Upper Saxony 
renowned as the fatherland of German poetry and 
German culture — a renown which Gottsched trum- 
peted further throughout the rest of Germany, which 
he contemptuously styled " the provinces." Nay, 
even Adelung was thoroughly convinced that their 
verses would be immortal, and this in the days, not 
merely of Klopstock and Lessing, but of Schiller and 
Goethe. " Either," said he, " Upper Saxony has 
whoUy degenerated from the good taste of 1740- 

death in 1708. Barthold Feind was also of Hamburg. He had a talent 
for writing operas, and was acquainted with Sbakespere's works, a rare 
accomplishment in those days. Henrici, known under the name of 
Picauder, as the author of frivolous poems, in three volumes. He, as 
well as Corvinus (Amaranthes), and Hanke, were of Saxony. The last 
is the author of the well-known hunting-song, " Auf, auf ! auf, auf, zum 
Jagen, auf in die griine Haid," the basis of many other songs, see his 
" Gedichte," i. p. 144. Of the regular Silesians of the second School 
the favourite was Muhlpfort, of Breslau, a contemporary of Lohenstein. 
His renown among the christening and wedding poets has survived for 
more than a hundred years. 

* These lines are to be found in his " BethlehemitischerKindermord," 
p. 62. He also wrote " Der Sachsische Prinzenraub," 1743, a poem in 
four books, in the manner of Gottsched, 


1760, or these provincials (Goethe and Schiller) have 
got on an entirely wrong track.* 

Between the bombastic poets of the second Silesian 
School and these wishy-washy rhymesters, there were 
several intermediate verse-writers who shared the de- 
fects of both, but to a more moderate extent. Indeed, 
some of them remind us, though in a faint degree, of 
the simplicity of the first Silesian School. Even 
Weise shows himself capable of better things, chiefly, 
however, in the prose line. His " Drei Erznarren," a 
satiric romance, written under the pseudonym of Ca- 
tharinus Civilis, is by no means one of the worst pro- 
ductions of the day. Johann von Assig and Hans 
Asmann von Abschatz were also among this inter- 
mediate class. They were both natives of Silesia. The 
latter, in the choice of matter, strongly resembles Hof- 
mannswaldau. Again, Benjamin Neukirch, a Silesian, 
but resident at Ansbach, disgusted with Lohenstein's 
want of taste, adopted a more measured and dignified 
tone. Unfortunately, however, the poems of Neukirch 
and others, while they dropped high-flown bombast, 
became, at the same time, dry and empty. They would 
have nothing to do with the Italians, and knew nought 
of the best modern French models, let alone the Greek 
and Latin. (Neukirch took Fenelon's " Telemachus" 
for an epic, and translated it into German Alexan- 
drines !) Christian Gryphius, son of the elder of that 
name, had a great idea of Hofmannswaldau, and in- 
finitely preferred him to Opitz. But his tone is more 
that of the older Silesian School. Like his father, he is 

* Adelung, " Magazin fiir die deutsche Spraohe," 1783. 
Q 5 


expert in sad and melancholy poetry. In his poem on 
the death of his two children, and on the suflferings of 
his sister, there are touches of genuine feeling. But 
the writer with most truth about him, notwithstanding 
all his Hofmannwaldauesque expressions, is Christian 
Gunther, of Striegau, whose poems enjoyed a high 
reputation even in the time of Gellert, Klopstock, and 
Lessing. Dissolute in habits, but not bad-hearted, he 
was disowned by his father, and no entreaties on the 
part of the son could bring about a reconciliation. 
This circumstance imparts to all his poems referring 
to it, a warmth and life quite unknown in these days. 
But this same feature is also discernible in many of his 
amatory and occasional pieces. If the poem in recol- 
lection of his youth is genuine, which is most likely the 
case, it is much to his honour. His great weakness 
was, that he could not keep sober, and he died of 
drink and misery in 1723. 

The lamentable condition of German poetry at the 
end of the seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth 
century at last produced a reaction ; and a literary 
contest ensued, — the first in the history of German 
letters. Christian Wernicke — subsequently a Danish 
Councillor of State — in a volume of epigrams (" Poet- 
ische Versuche in Ueberschriften," 1697,) made an on- 
slaught, not only on Hofmannswaldau and Lohenstein, 
but also on Weise. In these epigrams, which, next 
to Friedrich von Logau's, were the best of the 
time, and are well worthy of attention, he probes 
the sore in the body poetic to its very bottom, with 
unsparing hand laying bare the sources of the evil. 


Here is a specimen : — 

Ok certaik Poems. 

" Csesura ? good ; the Verse ? flows well ; the Rhyme ? adroit ; 
The Words ? in order. Nothing disordered — but the sense." 

This and other similar effusions fired the resentment 
of the Hamburg poetasters, Postel, Hunold, and Co. 
Postel replied with a sonnet, wherein he compared 
Wernicke to a hare hopping about a dead lion (Hof- 
mannswaldau). Wernicke rejoined with a comic heroic 
poem, " Hans Sachs," wherein he represents that for- 
gotten poet as the king of all shallow rhymers, and 
about to crown as his successor on the throne one 
Stelpo, i.e. Postel. Upon this, Hunold entered the 
lists, and poetic attack and rejoinder followed each 
other in quick succession. 

It was this contest that first shook the universal 
belief in the incomparable excellence of Hofmanns- 
waldau and Lohenstein. Their worshippers fell off in 
number from year to year, and the dry rhymers began 
to obtain the upper hand. Even Hunold himself even- 
tually took part against the impurities of this school, 
which ultimately disappeared from German poetry ; 
partly through the influence of Franke and the reli- 
gious school. But with the banishment of bombast, 
nothing very great would have been achieved in poetry, 
unless new matter had been supplied. Had poetry 
continued in its negative position, It would have been 
a mere affair of empty rules, and frigid insipidity. 

Such were the verses of Benjamin Neukirch and of 
von Besser ; which for some time served as models for 

<5 6 


imitation. But there was too much talent in those who 
had hitherto been adherents of the Lohenstein school, 
to attach themselves to mechanical rhymers like Hen- 
rici and Corvinus ; and they began to look around for 
some new material, some nobler and more independent 
shape for German poetry. And it was in this attempt 
we see the first gleam of the new poetical dawn after 
a long and dreary night. 

Foremost among these heralds of the dawn, stands 
Friedrich Rudolph Ludwig von Canitz*, born 1654, 
died 1699. He and Wernicke were the only ones that 
did not suffer themselves to be carried away by the 
stream of a depraved age. In his lifetime, it is true, 
he exercised less influence than Wernicke, for his 
poems were confined to private circulation ; most of 
them were first published in 1700 by Joachim Lange, 
the theologian of Halle. In his didactic poetry, he 
denounces most emphatically the Lohenstein school, as 
well as the poverty-stricken exercises and occasional 
pieces of Weise and his sect. And though in point of 
matter he himself never achieves anything of import- 
ance, yet there is an earnestness and a gravity in his 
view of human life, which even Wernicke comes short 
of; while his language is not only more measured, but 

* Bom 27th November, 1654; died, a Privy Councillor at Berlin, 
11th August, 1699. Unlike the heap of contemporary poets, he was not 
a prolific -writer. His " Satyre iiber die Poesie," discusses the taste of 
the day. His two religious poems, " Unser Heiland ist gebunden," and 
•' Wenn Blut und Xiiste schaumen," were long known ; and almost 
equally so his dirge on the death of his first wife ; an expression in which 
"Was fiir Wellen und fur Flammen schlagen iiber mir zusanmien," hag 
become proverbial. New editions of his poems appeared from 1700 to 
1727. The tenth, 1727, is the best ; the later ones follow it. 


likewise purer, nobler, and more fluent, than that of 
Wernicke. By the poets presently to be mentioned 
Canitz was looked upon as a model, and for a long 
period he was held to be one of the best authorities. 
About this same period, we perceive, in the person of 
a pseudonymous writer, E,einhold von Freienthal, an 
awakening of poetical taste in Switzerland, which coun- 
try soon after played so important a part in the deve- 
lopment of German poetry. His poems, at aU events, 
show that the yoke under which the Muse groaned was 
become everywhere insupportable, and that she was 
gasping for more nature, simplicity, and truth. 

Barthold Heinrich Brookes*, a senator of Hamburg, 
was one of the first to proceed still further in the path 
struck out by Canitz and "Wernicke. The new matter 
selected by him was a true and affectionate study of 
Nature. At times he becomes wearisome by his mi- 
nuteness of detail. His " Irdisches Vergniigen in 
Gott," (Earthly Pleasure in God,) for instance, though 
it contains most felicitous descriptions, is on the whole 
too long-winded and diffuse. The gossiping tendency 
of the older period was yet unsubdued, as well as the 
over-addiction to too much finish of description. Still 
there is a vast gulf between the empty and babbling 
monotony of the mechanical rhymsters and the true- 
hearted verbosity of the Hamburger; a vast gulf 
between the unreal glaring scene -painting of the se- 

* Bom 1680, died 1747. His " Irdisches Vergnugen in Gott "ap- 
peared by degrees from 1723 to 1748 ; tlie nintli and last part after his 
death. The first fire parts -went through many editions. The first 
seven, in twenty years. 


cond Silesian School, and the true, though all too true 
and microscopical, manner of this simple poet, who stu- 
died a snow-flake or the hues of a carnation with most 
painstaking minuteness. Even in his congratulatory 
poems, of which he wrote not a few, and in his trans- 
lation from the Italian of Marino's " Murder of the 
Innocents," there is a staid and earnest tone, prophetic 
of the new period of the Halle school, with its Hage- 
dorn and Uz. 

Another Hamburger, Michael Kichey, much resem- 
bled him, as also Karl Friedrich Drollinger, of Baden, 
a zealous admirer of Canitz and Brockes, and the 
pioneer of a new period. He also foretold, in 1724, 
the future influence of Switzerland in German 


After this short survey of the literature of the seven- 
teenth century, it only remains for us to say some 
words on the Romance, which originated in this period, 
and, during it, underwent a number of viscissitudes, 
which are of the greatest interest for the history of 
culture, if not of poetry. 

The oldest prototypes and predecessors of the modem 
Romance are, partly, the art-epics, grounded on the 
matter of foreign sagas, partly the poetic tales — espe- 
cially those of foreign origin — which, disconnecting 
themselves from the saga, enjoyed an independent 
existence of their own. With the decline of art- 


poetry, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, de- 
clined also the taste of the hearing and reading public, 
first, for the poetic form of these tales, then for the 
matter of them. Prose was better suited for the then 
stage of culture, and therefore it is that, besides a few 
traces of prose versions of foreign epopcei of the thir- 
teenth century, we have in the fifteenth century prose 
stories from " Tristan and Isolt," " Wigalois," " Flos 
and Bankflos," also from " Pontus and Sidonia," " Hug- 
schapler," " Lother and MaUer," " Fierabras," and many 
others.* The German Yolksbiioher, also, already men- 
tioned, " Kaiser Octavian," " Melusine," " Magellone 
and Peter with the Silver Key," " Duke Ernest," &ic. ; 

* The romance of " Pontus und Sidonia,'* which was one of the most 
famous, is the only one resting on a German basis. It is the old 
English story of the fourteenth century, " Hornchilde and Maiden Ei- 
menild " (Ritson's Ancient Romances, iii. 295). Compare J. Grimm in 
Hagen's "Altd. Museum," ii. 284. " Pontus and Sidonia" was translated 
from the French in the middle of the fifteenth century, by the Scottish 
Princess Eleanor, the wife of Duke Sigmund of Austria. It was printed 
in 1485, and frequently since. 

" Der Hugschapler " (Hugo Capet, whose fabulous history it contains) 
was written at the beginning of the fifteenth century, by Margarethe, 
Duchess of Loraine. She also composed the romance of " Lother und 
Mailer,'' which belongs to the Carlovingian group of Sagas. A German 
translation of it was written by her daughter Elizabeth, Duchess of 
Nassau-Saarbriicken, in 1437, and printed in 1514. A new version of 
it was published by Fr. Schlegel, 1805. See his works, vol. vii. 

"Kerabras," like "Lother and MaUer," belongs to the Carlovingian 
group, and has been known in Germany since 1533. Together with 
" Tristan und Isolt," and " Pontus and Sidonia," it forms the contents of 
V. d. Hagen's " Buch der Liebe," 1809. " Melusine " must be of Celtic 
extraction. It was translated from the Prench in 1456, by Diiring von 
Eingoltingen of Bern, and the translation printed in 1474. "Mage^ 
lone" was first translated into German at the same time as "Kaiser 
Ootavianus," viz., in 1535. The latter, by W. Salzmannj the former, 
by Veit Warbeck. 


at least tke half of them can be placed in this category." 
In the sixteenth century the higher orders, who were 
becoming more and more estranged from the lower, 
indulged In this taste for what was foreign, marvellous, 
and fantastic still more and more. The French litera- 
ture,, in its older poetry and in its more recent prose 
versions of -the same, supplied them with ample ma- 
terials for gratifying the passion. In addition to the 
pieces mentioned above, " Tristan," &c., (which were 
published in 1587 by Feierabend, of Frankfort, In a 
collection entitled "Buch der Hebe,") Amadis* was 
now imported from France, and with it the term 
Komance. Besides these tales, based on an old epic 
foundation, a new sort of composition had arisen in 
Italy, chiefly through the instrumentality of Boccacio, 
as early as the middle of the fourteenth century. It 
was founded on the occurrences of the day, and was 
hence called Novel; and these novels were diffused 
throughout Germany In the fifteenth and sixteenth 
centuries, not in imitations, but In translations. 

In the beginning of the seventeenth century, the 
heroic saga and heroic lay became quite extinct, and 
their place was occupied by this romance literature, 
borrowed from the countries to the south and west of 
Germany. Translations and versions increased in 
number. De Rosset's '' Traurige Geschichten " was 

* The origin of " Amadis " is still obscure ; most likely it is Portu- 
guese or Spanish, and composed in the fourteenth century. In its oldest 
form it is comprised in four hooks, Trbich afterwards swelled out to 
twenty-four. It was brought to Germany shortly before 1569, and pub- 
lished in a German translation by the bookseller, Feierabend, 1569-70. 


translated by Martin ZelUer, and became a favourite 
book with the higher classes. Presently, imitations 
from the French appeared, all of them in the bad taste 
of the age, either intolerably dry and prolix, after the 
manner of the elder, or sprawling and bombastic, after 
the manner of the younger Silesian School. 

Philip von Zesen, mentioned above, was one of the 
earliest and most popular writers in this line. His love- 
story, entitled " Die Adriatische Eosemund Hitter- 
hold's von Blauen," though an inconceivably duU affair, 
is note-worthy from its being the first book of the 
kind. In the preface he expresses his joy that this 
sort of composition had now found favour in Germany, 
after having been hitherto confined to Spain, Italy, and 
France. " It was high time," he continues, " for Ger- 
many to infuse into this sort of literature an ' amiable 
earnestness ; ' as all the foreign examples were mere 
tattle, devoid of pith and vigour." According to his 
own statement, this was to be his last as well as first 
novel — a determination which he did not adhere to. 
In the same way, he did not follow the counsel which 
he gave his countrymen, not to translate anything from 
foreign languages. He is the author of at least two 
other original romances, on biblical and rabbinical sub- 
jects : " Simson," an heroic love-story, and " Assenat," 
the traditional name of the wife of the Patriarch 
Joseph. The latter, especially, was long a favourite 
with the reading world, and the matter has been re- 
worked by Jung Stilling and others. Two other 
romances were translated by him from the French, 
''Ibrahim and Isabella's "Wonderful History," and 


" The African Sophomsbcj" both on the model of 
'' Rosemund." Zesen's style is very eccentric. In his 
later works he is much given to short abrupt sentences, 
■wherein he exhibits a strange contrast to the diffuse, 
pathetic, dragging style of later romance-writers. At 
times, however, he becomes quite childish and absurd. 
His orthography, moreover, and way of rendering 
foreign words, are odd and perverse beyond belief. In 
dulness, however, he is far surpassed by his successors 
in the love-story line, e. g. Grimmelshausen, the author 
of " Proximus and Lympida." As for action, there is 
none in these romances. In " Eosemund," even, not a 
little space is taken up with the preparations the heroes 
and heroines make for writing their love-letters, e. g, 
biting their quiUs, tearing up the paper, and, when the 
voluminous epistle is at length completed, it is given at 
length for the benefit of the reader. 

The stories of " Simson " and " Assenat " are by no 
means confined to love affairs. The latter purports to 
be a history, not only of love, but of state, and de- 
scribes at length the Government and Court of Egypt. 
In fact, a time had now arrived when, instead of de- 
scribing great and heroic deeds of universal interest, 
the Romance was for ever twaddling about matters of 
state, courtly pomps and ceremonies, solemn audiences, 
and festivals. This was quite in keeping with the 
Louis Quatorze taste, which now began to hold domi- 
nion over Germany, and gave the death-blow to the 
old mutual fidelity between king and people, — the 
fatherly kindness of the monarch on the one hand, and 
the corresponding gratitude of his lieges. So that, in 


the long list of heroic and state romances which now 
followed and found favour with the reading-world, we 
have a most true mirror of the ideas and culture of the 
times — indeed this may be predicated of all the German 
romances from the middle of the seventeenth century 
to this day. 

A touch of the grand is attempted in the succeeding 
romances, by making the heroes do mighty deeds. A 
back-ground of seemingly great importance is intro- 
duced. This is the case with the two romances, " The 
marvellous History of the Christian-German-Grand- 
duke Hercules and the Bohemian Princess Valisca," 
and " Hercules and Herculadisla," by Heinrich Buch- 
holz, court-preacher at Brunswick. The first of these 
is intended, on the one hand, to counteract the Frenchi- 
fied taste for " Amadis," and tales of that class ; and at 
the same time for the spiritual edification of the reader. 
For this purpose this long-winded tale of conversion to 
Christianity is thickly interspersed with prayers and 
spiritual songs. This wonderful composition first saw 
the light in 1659, when the strange combination of the 
worldly and the spiritual was unfavourably received by 
the critics. Notwithstanding which adverse judgment 
and its own absurdities, it held its ground for a good 
hundred years. In 1744 this " Christian Romance" 
appeared in an abbreviated shape, the hymns and 
prayers being left out. In 1781 it was published in a 
remodelled form. Soon after the appearance of the 
above, Duke Anton Ulrich, of Brunswick — known for 
his hymns, and for his perversion to Rome at a very 
advanced age— produced his " Love Story of Ara- 


inenaj" and " Octavia, a Roman History." The former 
■was remodelled In 1782. The latter became very famous. 
In it we have the history of the Koman emperors, from 
Claudius to Vespasian. But the chief interest of this 
romance lies in the eighty-and-forty episodes which it 
contains, abounding with anecdotes of the great and 
small courts of his time, under fictitious names. To 
most of these the key is lost ; but they are not without 
moment, as bearing upon the history of contemporary 
manners and politics. But there was another romance 
which quite ravished the reading world, and which 
stood in high estimation for a full century, viz., Hein- 
rich Anselm von Ziegler und Kliphausen's " Asiatische 
Banise, oder blutiges, jedoch mutiges Pegu." The 
author died young. Adorned with all the prosaic 
splendours of the second Silesian School, its very open- 
ing enchanted every heart. " May lightning, thunder, 
and hail, the avenging tools of Heaven, shatter the 
pomp of thy gilded towers, and the vengeance of the 
Gods consume all the inhabitants of the city, who have 
worked the downfal of the kingly house. If the Deity 
permitted it, my eyes could become thunder-pregnant 
clouds, and these my tears cruel deluges. "With a thou- 
sand clubs, like a fire-work of just rage, I would aim at 
the heart of the accursed blood-hound, and certainly 
not miss it." And could any heart withstand the se- 
ductive apostrophes with which a loving princess, 
dagger in hand, addresses the royal lover who had 
spurned her ? "Behold, then, pitiless tyrant, how splash- 
ing blood will cry to the Gods night and day for ven- 
geance on thy insensible heart. Boast not, adamantine 


soul, that thy princess hath loved thee to the death, and 
hath pierced her heart for this love's sake ; for this stab 
will go through my heart, but through thy soul, — will 
cause me a passing pain, but thee everlasting torment. 
Yes ! my bloody ghost shall pursue you to the end of 
the world ; hourly sweep before thine eyes, and upbraid 
thee with thy cruelty." Upon this she proceeds to 
stab herself, but is prevented by an honest soldier. 
Again, how the responsive heart of the reader must 
have sympathised with the bliss of the Emperor Balacin 
and his Princess Banise, who, together with three other 
royal pairs, after conquering the enemy, were married 
in the camp. What a captivating description that is, 
where " those lively generals, Paduck, Mangostan, 
Martong, and Ragoa, bethought them how they might 
procure some suitable diversion for the heroic victors. 
At last they hit upon the clever and graceful expedient 
of serenading them with a contest, deftly set to music, 
between Venus and the God of "War, wherein it was so 
arranged that the Goddess of Love should be repre- 
sented by lutes, harps, and other pleasant stringed 
instruments of music, accompanied by the sweet voices 
of twelve Portuguese boys ; while the part of Mars 
was ably filled by trumpets, kettle-drums, and other 
warlike instruments, assisted by twelve adults of the 
same nation." 

But a work by Lohenstein himself was intended to 
be the pink of all romance. " Arminius and Thus- 
nelda," as this renowned story is entitled, was edited by 
the author's brother, after Lohenstein's early death, 
A.D. 1689, and was received with thunders of applause. 


There is no doubt, however, that, even by contem- 
poraries, this book was more praised than read. To 
wade through four goodly quarto volumes was a task 
fitted to exhaust the patience of the most insatiable 
devourer of romance that ever existed. A second and 
last edition of it appeared about forty years later. 
Nevertheless, this work is by far the best that Lohen- 
stein ever wrote, and, notwithstanding its prolixity, 
is to be preferred, in point of style, to all the other 
romances that have been mentioned. 

A quantity of these " Tales of State, Love, and 
Heroism," as they were called, appeared. The most 
expert fabricator in this line was August Bohse, or as 
he called himself, Talander. Subsequently the historico- 
political romance came into vogue, and continued to be 
very popular for some forty years, or till about 1720. 
It arose out of the secret statesmanship and diplomacy 
which, owing to various causes, e.g. the example of 
Lewis XIV., the establishment of the permanent Diet, 
and the system of the European balance of power, now 
became the order of the day. The diplomatic wisdom, 
cabinet intrigues, political secrecy, grandiloquence, and 
make-believe that prevailed in high places, were in 
these romances acted over again in the most solemn 
seriousness, generally under fictitious names. Pre- 
sently they assumed the form of political geography, 
and before long they became regular political chronicles. 
One of the oldest is " Aeyquam, or the Great Mo- 
gul," by one Hagdom, date 1670. Eberhard "Werner 
Happel, of Upper Hessia, now made his appearance, 
■who got his living by wandering from place to place 


writing bad books. In his "Asiatisoher Onogambo" 
the loves of the Emperor Xunchius and other roaming 
heroes are described, with the lands through which 
they travelled. His " Insulanische MandoreU" gives 
a geographical and historical description of certain 
Islands where the scenes of the love adventures are laid. 
Then there is his " Italienischer Spinelli ; " " Der 
Spanische Quintana," 1686; "Der Franzosiche Cor- 
mantin;" "Der Ottomanische Bajazet;" " Der Deutsche 
Carl," containing the author's own love adventures; 
with many others, partly by Happel, partly by E,ost 
and others. 

Next came the Robisonades, in imitation of De Foe's 
romance, "Robinson Crusoe," which appeared in 1714. 
Herein he perhaps had in view the adventures of two 
or three different personages ; e. g. Serrano, a Spaniard^ 
who was cast away on the island bearing his name in 
the "West Indian Ocean, and Alexander Selcraig, or 
Selkirk, who for five years lived on the solitary island 
of Juan Fernandez. This work appeared in a German 
translation in 1721, and elicited in Germany, as well 
as throughout Europe, the greatest admiration and a 
countless host of imitators. Between 1722 and 1755 
more than forty Robinsons appeared in Germany, and 
were read with frantic eagerness. There were the Ger- 
man Robinson, the Italian Robinson, the clerical ditto ; 
the Saxon, the Silesian, the Franconian Robinson ; two 
Westphalian Robinsons at once ; the moral, the medi- 
cinal, the invisible Robinson ; and even the Bohemian 
Robinson. Then there was the European Roblnsonetta : 
"Miss Robinson, or the cunning young maid;" "Ro- 



bunse, with her daughter, Kobinschen," and so forth 
The books are generally worse than the titles. After 
this came the histories of the Avanturies, e. g. that 
remarkable book, " Wunderliche Fata," &c. ; or, " The 
marvellous fortunes of certain mariners, especially 
Albertus Julius, a native of Saxony, who in his eigh- 
teenth year went to sea, and with three others was 
wrecked on a savage rock, after ascending which he 
discovered a most beautiful country, where he married," 
&c., by Gisandern. The author's real name was 
Schnabel, and his book, which came out in four parts, 
between 1731 and 1743, is better known under the 
title of " Die Insel Felsenburg." It was re-edited in 
1825, with an introduction by Tieck. This book was fol- 
lowed by the Travelling Aventurier, the Curious Aven- 
turier, the Swiss, Bremen, and Leipzig Aventuriers. 

The passion for this sort of literature endured for 
many years. In 1788 the last Robinsonade appeared, 
under the title of " Wenzel von Erfurt ;" and about 
the same period the old Robinson was contracted to 
the dimensions of a child's story-book by Campe. The 
■tendency of all this literature was quite in keeping 
with the Deism which had risen up in England and 
France at the end of the seventeenth and beginning of 
the eighteenth century. It was in keeping with the 
strong inclination manifested everywhere to emanci- 
pate oneself from everything historical and traditional ; 
to begin life, so to say, afresh, with a new state of 
society and civilisation. It corresponded with the 
eager zeal then displayed for the palpable and natural, 
as a counterbalance to the stiff conventionalism, to the 


powdered and be-peruked shams that lorded it over 
society at large. The Eobinsonades and Aventuriers 
effected in the masses of the reading world what Mon- 
tesquieu and B-ousseau did in the learned world, in the 
the world of rulers over Church and State. Visions 
of a return to a state of nature long pervaded the com- 
munity, and Lafontaine's " Child of Nature" is all of a 
piece with the dreams of Robinson and Rousseau. To 
the Robinsonian succeeded the Sentimental Romances. 
After these, in the stormy times preceding the Revolu- 
tion, the Romances of Knight-errantry and Robbers. 
Next came the Family Romances, an apt exponent of 
the political impotence of Germany, when she was by 
necessity thrown back upon domestic subjects only. 
And last came the Historical Romance, still in vogue. 
From the above remarks the truth of the previous 
assertion will appear — that for two centuries the dif- 
ferent phases of Romance have faithfully reflected the 
manners of the day. 

But there is one romance which is generally con- 
sidered the precursor of the Robinsonades, though in 
many respects it surpasses them all. "We mean the 
" Abenteuerliche Simplicissimus," which came out in 
1669, i.e. twenty years after the thirty years' war, or 
German war, as it was called ; and where the events of 
that war are depicted with uncommon truth and life. 
The hero of this poetical romance is brought up at the 
house of a peasant in the deepest solitudes of the 
Spessart Forest. And the shepherd lad's lonely life is 
admirably portrayed. Then follow descriptions of the 
marauding Swedes, their head-quarters at Hanau, the 



movements of the troops, the bivouac ; and above all, 
the forays of the Free companions in Westphalia, This 
work is so fresh and genuine ; much of it is conceived 
in so truly poetic a vein, that, with the exception of 
Schuppius' writings, the seventeenth century can show 
nothing comparable to it. The last book would have 
been better omitted, according to the original plan of 
the writer, as it bears strong evidences of the times in 
which it was written. Indeed it is very astonishing 
that the author of " Simplicissimus " could have con- 
cocted such balderdash as " Proximus and Lympida.'' 
His name whs Christopher von Grimmelshausen ; he 
was a native of Gelnhausen, and magistrate at Eenchen 
in the present Grand Duchy of Baden.* In " Simpli- 
cissimus " he narrates his own personal experiences ; in 
the other what he had learnt and picked up. Hence the 
poetic life of the one, and the prosy flatness of the other. 
Many editions of " Simplicissimus " have appeared. 
Within the present century it was modernised by 
Haken, and in 1836 by Biilow. 


We have now arrived at a period when German 
literature is to bloom once more. The flower, how- 
ever, is not of spontaneous growth, as in the olden 

* BHs name was only recently discovered, as he concealed it under 
various anagrams, e. g. Samuel Greifnson vom Hirsehfeld, or Germann 
Schleifheim von Sulsfort. The person who discovered it was Echter- 
meyer, in 1838. " Hallische Jarbiicher," ] 838, Nos. 52-54. Grimmels- 
hausen died 17th August, 1676. Compare " Passow, Blatter fiir lit. 
Unterhaltung," 1843, Nos. 259-264; 1844, No. 119; 1847, No. 273. 


times, but the hardly-earned product of much labour 
and disappointment. In the former case, we wandered 
over a heath full of exuberant wild flowers shooting up 
at random from under the rock, or by the side of the 
brook ; here we are in a garden, laboriously reclaimed 
from the wilderness, with its spruce parterres, its gor- 
geous flower-beds, its choice exotics. Art has been 
made to emulate nature, but only by dint of manifold 
experiments and infinite trouble. 

But we must trace the operation more narrowly. 
As we have seen, in the endeavour to get rid of the 
bombast of the second Silesian School, poetry affected a 
jejune simplicity ; and so became flat and washy. The 
first step towards improvement, therefore, was to give 
it pith and substance. New rules must be laid down ; 
new models found for this purpose. Canitz as we 
have seen, took the lead in the movement. Still, 
the time-honoured fashion of elaborating mechanical 
imitations in verse, not only of the Latin, but what 
was still worse, of the inferior modem foreign writers, 
was the great impediment to improvement. While this 
lasted, the best ancient models, especially the Greeks, 
were not to be thought of. As a first step in the right 
direction, better modern models were introduced. The 
inane operas of Italy, which had done so much mischief, 
were discarded. The attention of the Germans was 
directed to the French writers, Corneille, Eacine, 
Moliere, and Boileau ; to Addison's and Steele's Spec- 
tator, and to Milton. "Which of these two classes of 
writers ought to be followed ; whether Germany should 
take for her model the regularity of the French, or the 



power of Milton ; this was the essence of that dispute 
between Gottsched and Bo'dmer, which mainly served 
to revive the poetic consciousness of Germany. 

Johann Christoph Gottsched, a name which became 
proverbial for haughtiness, bad taste, pedantry, and 
vulgarity, was the chief of the party which cried up the 
French and their regularity. The involuntary benefits 
this man rendered German literature, by serving as a 
whetstone to sharpen the wits, and provoke the anta- 
gonism of other writers, were very great. Still, he 
had other merits of his own, which have been obscured 
by his ridiculous pedantry and affected airs. Regard 
must be had to the peculiar times and circumstances in 
which he was placed. He it was who, as Professor of 
Eloquence at Leipzig, first made it his business to put 
down the exclusive dominion hitherto enjoyed by Latin 
verse-writing. He it was who first claimed for Ger- 
man poetry a rank equal to, nay, greater than, that of 
the Latin school-poetry. He it was who taught the 
higher and more polished classes of the community that 
French plays were by no means indispensable to the 
boards, and showed them German pieces constru cted 
on the same rules of composition, style, andjailguage 
as the French ones. He it was who, after composing 
several regular dramas, induced Neuber, the actress, at 
Leipzig, in 1737, solemnly and formally to exile Hans- 
wurst from the German stage. It is true that, in so 
doing, the last remnant of the old popular vein was 
thus banished the theatre ; but Hanswurst had become 
a low and indecent Jack-pudding when Gottsched eX' 
pelled him. Doubtless, the proper thing would havp 


been to reform and ennoble this popular personage; 
but to this task neither Gottscbed nor his contempo- 
raries were equal. But, at all events, he restored 
poetry, and especially the stage, to its proper attitude 
(Haltung), although at first this was very stiff and 
wooden. He introduced better models and fresh rules ; 
although he was foolish enough to make these rules 
the be-all and end-all of poetry. And it was this 
crotchet that effected his downfall. Still, it must not 
be forgotten, that in his " Kritische Dichtkunst," (Cri- 
tical Art of Poetry,) which was received with much 
favour on its publication in 1729, he laid down some 
excellent rules about poetry. Again, his tragedy 
" Der Sterbende Cato," (Dying Cato,) with its regular 
earnest versification, put the first stop to the prosy gos- 
siping miscalled tragedies, the stupid comedies, and 
the sing-song operas that disgraced the boards. By his 
literary periodicals*, moreover, he did much to awaken 
a taste for German language and literature. His his- 
torical account of older German theatrical pieces is use- 
ful. Nor is his German grammar, unscientific as it is, 
devoid of merit, considering what sort of treatises in 
this line were written at that time. Gottsched was at 
the height of his fame between 1730 and 1740 ; being 
the sole dictator of German taste from his throne at 
Leipzig. In 1740 began his dispute with Bodmer, 
which ended in his utter discomfiture. Instead, how- 

* His periodicals are, "Beitrage zur Krit. Historie der deutsehen 
Sprache, Poesie, und Beredsamkeit," 1732-1744. "Neuer Biichersaal 
der Schonen Wissensohaften," 1745-1754. "Das Neueste aus der 
anmutigen Gelehrsamkeit," 1751-1762. 

B 3 


ever, of acknowledging himself beaten, he some years 
later, made an attack upon Klopstock, and then upon 
Lessing, with the old and blunted weapons, and fell, in 
consequence, into thorough contempt. He died in 

The head of the English or Milton party was 
Johann Jacob Bodmer of Zurich. In the management 
of poetic forms he was perhaps inferior to Gottsched, 
and certainly so in knowledge of the classical models. 
What he surpassed Grottsched in was a just percep- 
tion of the essence and true source of poetic art. He 
knew that this must be lively, feeling, fresh, inartificial 
fancy ; that poetry, in short, is a work of the imagina- 
tion. This was the doctrine of Bodmer and his friend 
Breitinger. It was in diametrical opposition, not only 
to Gottsched, but to all the Latin school-poets of the 
sixteenth and seventeenth century, and to the school of 
Opitz, who held that poetry is an affair of the under- 
standing, of calm deliberation, not of the fancy. Fancy 
was looked up to by Gottsched's school, true to the dry 
dulness of the "Wolfian philosophy, with an evil eye ; 
as, in short, the mother of all sorts of irregularities and 
follies. First learn the rules of poetry, said they, then 
write poetry. In poetry the rules are everything. In 
1721, Bodmer began his journal "Discourse der Ma- 
lern," wherein he sought to imitate the style of the 
" Spectator." But, for nearly nineteen years, his 
influence on his contemporaries was hardly percept- 
ible, and he was on excellent terms with Gottsched, 
sharing with him in his worship of Opitz, and passing 
encomiums on the " Sterbende Cato." 


At last, in 1737, tlje irreconcilable difference of 
opinion between the Swiss and the Saxons came out in 
the estimate formed by the two parties respectively on 
Milton's " Paradise Lost." The dry and Frenchified 
Gottsched detested Milton from the bottom of his soul ; 
and he attacked him in the second edition of his " Art 
of Poetry" (1737) with the same weapons as Voltaire 
had done. This attack he continued in his magazine, 
" Contributions to the History of the German Lan- 
guage." On this, 1740, Bodmer wrote his "Vom 
Wunderbaren in der Poesie," which Gottsched, accus- 
tomed to consider himself the sole arbiter of taste, 
replied to with great vehemence. Bodmer rejoined 
with his " Betrachtungen iiber die poetlschen Gemalde 
der Diohter." The strife was now waged in various 
periodicals by the two parties, with great earnestness, 
not unmixed with ridicule and vulgar sarcasm. The 
result of the fight was, that all the young and lively 
talents of the age deserted Gottsched and espoused the 
cause of Bodmer. Poeta nascitur, non Jit, was his 
motto. He had shown that genuine poetry must be 
imbued with the great and the sublime ; that it must 
be natural, not artificial. Poetry must work, said he, 
upon the reader and hearer, like grand pictures work 
upon the beholder. And thus it was that he first set 
going again that taste for poetry, which had been 
dormant for more than a century. 

While this battle was being fought out, other cir- 
cumstances contributed to impair the authority of Gott- 
sched. The rigour of his dictatorship, which he sought 
to maintain by all sorts of mean expedients, had long 



become Insufferable at Leipzig, At last, in 1739, he 
contrived to fall out with Madame Neuber, the direc- 
tress of the Leipzig Theatre, who retaliated by intro- 
ducing him on the stage, to the great delight of the 
public ; while a young poet, named Kost, gave a 
poetical account of the affair in a poem entitled " The 
Prelude" (Das Vorspiel). At the same time Pyra, 
also a Saxon, dealt him a mortal blow in a tract en- 
titled " A Proof that Gottsched's Sect is a Corrupter 
of Taste;" a position which he makes good by an 
analysis of the "Dying Cato." Gottsched now pa- 
tronised the most pitiful rhymesters more than ever, 
declaring them to be incomparable poets ; the result 
of which was that in the evening of his days he was 
deserted. Goethe, who saw him, has given us a 
graphic picture of his state of isolation. 

Still in the lower ranks of polished society, as it was 
called, Gottsched's Influence, combined as It was with 
the French school of poetry, made itself long felt even 
after his death. People of mediocre understanding liked 
the mediocre style of Gottsched; It flattered their powers 
of comprehension. They and their Idol set their faces 
against anything rising above the common-place, and 
stigmatised it as extravagant and eccentric. Gottsched 
talked of Klopstock (he always called him Klopfstock, 
asserting that his very name had a blunder in It,) as the 
" seraphic poet with the misralmic ideas." It Is this 
antipoetic disposition of his, according as It did with 
the tastes of so many, that prevented Lessing, and 
then Goethe, from exercising that influence on the 
nation that might have been expected. The fact was. 


that their poetry fell upon ground that had been 
stamped hard by Gottsched and his crew. 

Bodmer's adherents were of a worthier order : Klop- 
stock, Wieland, who, however, afterwards fell away 
from him, and Goethe. He died at the age of eighty- 
four, 2d Jjinuary, 1783, having lived long enough to 
witness the triumph of the ideas which he advocated, 
a triumph which went beyond his fondest hopes. To 
the end of his life he was open to the impressions of 
poetry, and took a friendly interest in the progress of 
the new school. It was only in maturer years that he 
was incited by the young Klopstock to attempt writing 
poetry himself. His " Noachide," an epic on the 
Deluge, is a failure ; indeed, he wrote no poetry worth 
mentioning. But, though no poet himself, he well 
knew what genuine poetry is. He it was who first 
recognised the worth of the old masters, and used his 
best endeavours to make them better known and 
esteemed by his countrymen. Germany has to thank 
him for the first edition of " Boner's Fables," for the 
first edition of the " Minnesingers," (it was the only 
one till 1838,) for the discovery and publication of the 
" Nibelungenlied," and for the preparation towards an 
edition of "Parcival." But though he' thus stirred up 
the love of national poetry, it m.ust not be inferred that 
he was fully aware of the true merits of these pieces. 
Indeed, the time was as yet unable to appreciate them 
jis they deserved. 

But we must not pass over Gottsched's followers in 
entire silence. His wife, Luise Adelgunde Victorie, 
nee Kulmus, was his faithful fellow-labourer in the field 

H 5 


of literature. She translated plays from the French, 
and Pope's " Eape of the Lock ;" wrote original plays, 
and had a literary correspondence and disciples of her 
own. In flexibility and versatility of mind she was 
far superior to her pedantic and precise husband, and 
not less so in poetic, taste. The best thing she has left 
us are her letters. 

When Gottsched's popularity was far on the wane, 
he met with a young lieutenant of Cuirassiers in whom 
he thought he had discovered just the man to put for- 
ward as a successful rival to Klopstock and his party. 
This was Christoph Otto von Schonaich, a scion of the 
princely house of Schonaich-Carolath-Beuthen. He 
had just written an heroic poem, " Herman oder das 
befreite Deutschland " (Herman, or the Liberation of 
Germany). This, Gottsched hastened to present to 
Voltaire, in manuscript, hoping to coax from him an 
opinion in favour of it. The poem was then printed 
with copper-plate illustrations, and dedicated to Wil- 
liam VIII. of Hessia, and a preface was added by 
Gottsched, extolling it to the skies. The poem is 
written in trochaics, and the first eight lines have a 
good deal of patriotic freshness about them. It 
begins : — 

" Von dem Helden will ioh slngen, dessen Arm sein Volk besohiitzt, 
Dessen Schwert auf Deutschlands Peinde fiir sein Vaterland 
" I -will sing you of the hero, whose right arm his people saved, 
'Gainst the foemen of his country, whose bright blade like light- 
ning waved." 

The rest of the poem is miserably weak and heavy. 
In spite of this, a second edition appeared in 1753, a 


third in 1760, and, which is almost incredible, a fourth 
in 1805, the year of Schiller's death. The poet was 
solemnly crowned by Gottsched; and further served 
his patron by a satire on Bodmer and Klopstook. The 
title of this is, " The whole Doctrine of JEsthetics in a 
Nutshell," &c. The dedication runs " To the Creator 
of Spirit, the Seer, the new Evangelist, the Dreamer, 
the divine Saint Klopstock, the Theologian ; also to the 
Bard of the Deluge, the Patriarchal Poet, the Kabbini- 
cal Story-teller, the Father of the Misraimio and Holy 
Art of Poetry, Bodmer, this collection of new accents 
is dedicated by the Collectors." This squib was in- 
tended to ridicule Klopstock's overloaded language in 
the " Messiah," which Gottsched looked on as perfectly 
monstrous. The satire is not without force. But at 
the time it only served to plunge Gottsched and Scho- 
naich into disgrace. Schonaich's name became a by- 
word for a bad rhymer ; but he survived all his enemies 
as well as his friends, — Gottsched, Lessing, Bodmer, 
Klopstook, Gleim, Herder, and even Schiller,-^dying on 
the 15th November, 1807. Another of Gottsched's 
partisans was Nauman, the author of an heroic poem 
" Nimrod," who in length of days rivalled Schonaich. 
Another was Schwabe, who tried to unite the forces 
of the party in a periodical " Belustigungen des Ver- 
standes und Witzes ;" but without success. He also 
wrote a famous satire, " The Ink-stand filled full," in 
the Bodmer controversy ; while another satire of his, 
" The Critical Almanach," is said to have been the 
death of Pyra, mentioned above. 

Two poets and one satirist now remain to be men- 
E 6 


tioned, who took no part in the Bodmer controversy, 
but were, notwithstanding, instrumental in bringing 
about the new period. 

Albrecht von Haller* was one of the brightest orna- 
ments of the University of Gottingen. In his youth 
he was smitten with the Lohenstein poetry ; but by the 
force of his intellect, perhaps, too, from the circum- 
stance of his being out of the atmosphere of Saxony 
and Silesia, — he got rid of his fetters, and at the age 
of one and twenty entered upon another line. Like 
Bodmer, he selected the English for his models, — 
chiefly their moral, philosophical, and descriptive poems. 
He was urged to this by DroUinger. The object he 
continually keeps in view is the culture and education 
of national life. Though now and then a trope re- 
minds us of the Lohenstein leaven, yet, on the whole, 
his style is succinct and close. Much of his writings 
turns upon the highest problems of knowledge and 
belief— the origin of evil; wherein he follows the 
" Theodieee" of Leibnitz. Still, he did for poetry 
what it was eminently in need of. He rescued it from 
the follies in which it had floundered for so many years, 
taught it to rise to noble thoughts and aspirations, and 
infused into it a tincture of genuine feeling ; and 
therefore we may consider Haller as not belongino- to 
the transition period, but as the beginner of the new 
period. In the didactic line he had many followers ; 
the best known is Creutz, the author of " The Graves." 

* Born at Berne, 1708 ; from 1737 to 1753, Professor of Medicine at 
Gottingen; from 1753 to his death, 12th December, 1777, resided at 
Berne, as director of the Bex Saltworks. 


Haller's chief poem is " The Alps." Its descriptions of 
nature are truthful, and may be said to resuscitate a 
long-forgotten art. 

As Groethe has remarked, it was Haller's great sci- 
entific reputation that helped to make his influence 
on poetry so sensibly felt. He also thoroughly routed 
that most offensive class?' the occasional rhymers of 
the day. 

The next poet is Friedrich von Hagedom*, the only 
poet of those times who still lives in the mouth and 
memory of Germany. As a fable-writer, he has been 
followed by Gellert, Lichtwer, Zacharia, and Pfeffel. 
He is the poet of social pleasure and contentment ; 
the writer of Anacreontics in the fashion of Horace. 
Uz, Gleim, Wieland, and many others, trod in his foot- 
steps. In early life he was a follower of Brookes, and 
wrote moral pieces and epigrams. In fluency of style 
and ease of description, few German writers excel 
Hagedorn. In him we remark the direct influence of 
Horace, and the first good fruit that German poetry 
had ever shown of its two centuries-long study of clas- 
sical philology. Self-reliant and averse to controversy, 
he would have nothing to do with the dispute between 
the Swiss and the Leipzigers. But there are proofs 
enough in his poems that he inclined more to Bodmer 
than Gottsched. Three of his pieces are still univer- 
sally known : the fable, " A hungry Hen found a 

* Hagedorn was born at Hamburg, 1 708 ; died there, 28th October, 
1754. Like Klopstooli afterwards, he led a life of literary leisure, which 
was a seductive ideal for later poets. A thorough treatise on Hagedorn 
by K. Sohmitt, is to be found in Henneberger's "Jahrbuch," 1855, 
p. 62-110. 


fine Diamond ; " his May-song, " The Nightingale's 
ravishing lays are sounding so charming again;" and, 
above all, his " John, the merry Soap-boiler," which he 
confesses to have borrowed from Burkard Waldis. 

The satirist above alluded to is Christian Ludwig 
Liscow, of Lubeck, the friend of Hagedorn. Most of 
his satires are directed against private individuals; but 
this very circumstance gives them a truth and a sharp- 
ness which Eabener's don't possess. The sarcasm is, 
perhaps, on the whole, monotonous ; but it is generally 
very telling. Although he directs his shafts against 
obscure individuals, yet these in reality represent very 
important contemporary phenomena. In the person of 
Sievers, for instance, he is really attacking the swarms 
of pufiFed-up ignoramuses, e.g. the Orthodoxians and 
Wolfians, who, in their struggles against the Pietists, 
and the inroads of Deism, betrayed their utter incapa- 
city for the task. Nevertheless, the fact of their being 
aimed at private individuals of little mark, has impaired 
the estimation of Liscow's satires in the eyes of the 
public, and brought personal satire generally into dis- 
repute. Hence the care taken by Eabener to say that 
" he does not allude to any individual in particular ; " 
hence, too, the vapid generalism of his satires. Liscow's 
best satire, " Das Lob der Schlechten Scribenten," is 
conceived in more general terms. It is this which 
marks him as the man of the Future. But he was soon 
forgotten; while Kabener, though vastly his inferior, 
was preferred before him. He died in 1760 ; and al- 
though several critics, entitled to speak with authority, 
have called attention to his merits, and his satires have 


been re-edlted by Miiohler, yet at present lie is very 
little known.* 

There are not a few other poets belonging to this pe- 
riod who, albeit sprung from Gottsched's school, either 
soon left him for another master, e.g. Klopstock, or 
though outwardly still adhering to the party of Gott- 
sched, yet in reality took up an independent position. 

One of Gottsched's most trusty retainers was Joachim 
Schwabe, who died at Leipzig, while Professor of 
philosophy in the University there. In the year 1741 
(as we mentioned above, p. 371), he had set up a 
magazine in the interests of his master, " Belustigungen 
des Verstandes und Witzes " (Recreations of Under- 
standing and Wit). A number of Gottsched's young 
disciples joined in the undertaking, Gellert, Eabener, 
Gartner, Kastner, and others. Disgusted however, 
with the iron despotism of Gottsched, who, just as the 
whim suited him, would patronise the most tasteless 
botchers as well as themselves, many of these youths 
severed themselves from him entirely, and set up a 
periodical of their own. Into this no article was 
admitted until it had been examined by a committee 
of themselves, and improved or altered as might be 
thought expedient. Their president was Karl Chris- 

* The opinions on Liscow are as diverse now as ever. Gervinus 
(" Neuere Gesehichte," &e., i. 60) says, that he " far excels Eabener in 
manliness, courage, solidity, and feeling," and that " his style, true to that 
of the French, is precise, and devoid of fancy, but pure and bold ;" an 
opinion in which Vilmar coincides. W. Wackernagel, on the other hand, 
" Lesebuch," iii. 2, p. ix., says his writings are " tedious pasquinades." 
Concerning the events of Liscow's enigmatical career, compare Helbig, 
" C. R. Liscow," 1844, and Lisch, " Liscow's Leben," 1 845. 


tian Gartner (who died at Brunswick in 1791, near 
eighty years old). Though not the best poet, he was 
the best critic among them. Next to him stood Cra- 
mer, and Adolf Schlegel, the father of the brothers 
Schlegel. And thus it was that in the year 1742, a 
new weekly periodical saw the light, which made quite 
an epoch in literature, " Neue Beitrage zum Vergniigen 
des Verstandes und "Witzes " (New Contributions to the 
recreation of Wit and Understanding). This publica- 
tion, which appeared at Bremen, and was, therefore, 
also called " Bremische Beitrage," was the first that was 
expressly intended for female readers. Kabener soon 
joined the new party, then Arnold Schmidt, Ebert, and 
Zacharia ; later Gellert and Giseke ; also Hagedorn and 
Gleim, and lastly Klopstock ; the three first cantos of 
whose " Messiah" appeared in the pages of the periodical. 

The most distinguished person of this school was 
Christian Fiirchtegott Gellert.* Passing over his 
Lectures on Moral Philosophy, we shall here consider 
him as a writer of dramas, romances, fables, and church 

* Born at Hainiehen, near Freiburg, in Saxony, 4th July, 1715. 
Magister at Leipzig ; and from 1761 to 1769, Extraordinary Professor 
of Philosophy. He died 13th December of that year. His fables and 
tales first appeared in the " Eelustigungen des Verstandes und Witzes," 
1743; a better collection in 1746, 1748, and 1751. Many, however, as 
for instance, "Der Informator," and " Hans Nord," appeared first in the 
" Lehrgedichte und Erzalungen," 1754. These fables and tales were 
soon disseminated throughout Europe. Five or six French translations 
came out; besides which, they were rendered into Italian, Danish, 
Russian, &c. His fifty-four religious poems were published In 1767 ; 
and in the preface we see the author's great veneration for the old church 
hymn. The latest edition of his works appeared 1840. 


hymns. His dramas are thoroughly Gottschedian in 
taste. The only difference is, that here and there there 
is somewhat more flexibility of dialogue. The matter 
is in the homely Little-Pedlington style. Your Damons 
and Orgons with their respectable wives, who bore the 
reader to death. His romance, " The Swedish Coun- 
tess," hardly yields a jot even to the Aventuriers 
in strangeness and improbability of plot, while its lec- 
turing tone Is not to be borne. 

As a fable-writer Gellert ranks higher, though by 
no means so high as the great popularity of his fables 
and tales would indicate. In form they, almost without 
exception, follow Gottsched ; the great end and aim of 
whose poetry (as of Wolfs philosophy) was clearness. 
In straining to be clear, Gellert becomes over clear 
and loquacious, and thus degenerates into flatness and 
common-place. In him we don't find a particle of the 
poetry of nature. His beasts are only men in dis- 
guise-; men and women dressed a-la-mode. If we do 
laugh it is not the tedious wit, but rather the grimace 
accompanying it, that provokes our laughter. How, 
then, came it to pass that these fables met with such 
universal applause, that men like Wieland and Goethe 
undertook to defend them from animadversion ? For, as 
to the absence of poetry in them, Goethe, Herder, 
Lessing, and the modern critics are agreed. In the 
first place, the estimation in which Gellert's fables were 
held is due, in a great measure, to his high personal quali- 
ties, which are clearly impressed in many of these fables. 
So pure and noble was his character, so imposing, and 
yet withal so mild and unpretending,. that an attack 


upon his poetry would for thirty years after his death 
have been considered high treason. In the fables of 
Gellert the public saw and loved Gellert the man, — a 
love which still continued so long as the tradition of his 
goodness lived in the memory of the people. But there 
was also another cause for his popularity. Gellert's 
fables are just the sort of thing to interest unpoetical 
matter of fact people, who look upon poetry merely as 
making comprehensible in a picture what otherwise it 
is not easy to comprehend. With them poetry Is 
nought, if there is not something tangible about it ; if 
it does not confer some practical solid benefit ; if, in 
short, it is not as plain as a pike-staflf. Gellert's 
poetry taught them something ; they profited by it. 
It is schoolboy diet, the diet of beginners and learners. 
It is a step to improvement, and in this light it was 
viewed and defended by Goethe. 

Gellert's spiritual songs were no less popular, and 
continue to be so to the present day. They .have 
even been used as church hymns, though they hardly 
exhibit a vestige of the old Evangelical hymn. 
Written in the lecturing, instructing style of the 
Gottsched school, they are more didactic songs for the 
people, than Christian songs of joy and woe emanating 
from the people ; and that is the reason why they have 
never gone home to the heart of the masses. Cold and 
passionless, instead of praising the deeds of the Almighty, 
they are for ever occupied with man and his struggles, 
his good resolutions and bad fulfilments, and, at the 
best, only rise into the form of contemplative prayer. 
Like the fables, they owed much to the personal repu- 


tation of the writer ; more, perhaps, to the spirit of the 
age, which began to regard Christianity less as a fact 
than a doctrine. They do not, like the fables, indicate 
a step towards improvement, the beginning of some- 
thing better; but the commencement of that utter 
decay, which, soon after Gellert, overtook the Evan- 
gelical Church hymn. 

Gellert's successors in the Church hymn were 
Johann Andreas Cramer and Johann Adolf Schlegel, 
the middle of the three brothers Schlegel. Cramer 
also wrote odes, wherein he approaches rather to 
Elopstock. The remaining German fable- writers may 
as well be mentioned here, as, strangely enough, they 
are almost entirely disconnected with the progress of 
poetic culture, and are, for the most part, after the 
Gottsched-Hagedorn cut. Next after Gellert is Magnus 
Gottfried Lichtwer.* His fables were called by Johann 

* Lichtwer was born at "Wnrzen, 1719; died at Halberstadt, 1783. 
His fables first appeared 1748 ; an improved edition, 1758 and 1762; 
a new edition, 1828. Johann Gottlieb Willaraov, of Morungen, in East 
Prussia, died at St. Petersburg, 1777; his feblcs in dialogue appeared 
1765. Johann Benjamin Michaelis died at Halberstadt in 1772, when 
twenty-six years old ; his poems, consisting of fables, songs, and satires, 
appeared in 1768, and indicate much immature talent Gottlieb Wilhelm 
Burmann, of Hirschberg, in Silesia, lived an eccentric life at Berlin. 
Gottlieb Konrad Pfeffel, of Colmar, where he long had an educational 
establishment, became blind at twenty-one years of age ; he died 1809. 
His fables, which are mostly imitations from the French, were written 
1762-1774 ; also some more in 1783. He was the representative of the 
jejune enlightenment of the day. After him, fable was long quiescent, 
untU it was revived by Abraham Emanuel Prbhlich (bom at Bragg, in 
the Aargau, 1796); a priest of Aarau. His febles were published in 
1825, and are imbued with a real spirit of poetry. He also wrote other 
poems, and may be pronounced one of the truest and deepest singers of 
modern times, 


V. Miiller " Gellertian Professors of Morality." This 
is not true. There is often much originality and life 
about them ; and so much individuality and truth in 
some of the pictures from animal life, that they almost 
look like fragments of the old animal-epic. These 
fables are often spoilt by the moral appended to the 
end. Thus the celebrated one of " The Cat and the 
Master of the House " is spoilt by the moral of the 
broken mirror, and the evil effects of blind zeal. 
Others more in the narrative style are excellent, e. g. 
« Die Seltsamen Menschen," and " Der Kleine Toffel." 
The first edition of these fables was recommended by 
Gottsched. It was this, perhaps, that led Lessing 
and Eammler into an extraordinary literary misde- 
meanour. Unknown to the author they rewrote 
sixty-five out of Lichtwer's hundred fables, and pub- 
lished them under bis name, of course to his great 
chagrin. One effect, however, of this proceeding was, 
that in the next edition he introduced considerable 

Lichtwer was succeeded by Willamov, who wrote 
fables in dialogue ; then by Michaelis, Burmann, and 
Zacharia, who, like Hagedorn and Gellert, followed 
Burkard Waldis, and other older writers. Next comes 
Pfeffel, who at first imitated Gellert, but afterwards 
Elorian. He and Gellert are the only fable-writers 
who have got into the hands of children ; and yet 
Gellert is not so decidedly superior to any of the other 
fable- writers ; nay, in many points he is unquestionably 
below Lichtwer and Burmann. Pfeffel, too, surpasses 
him in expression, though not in matter;, while the 


former's views of life are as dry and insipid as they 
can be. 

Another branch of this Saxon School was Rabener, 
the satirist, who was briefly mentioned above in con- 
nexion with Liscow. The performances of this man 
bear no sort of proportion to his high reputation. This 
rested on pretty much the same basis as we have seen 
Gellert's did. He wrote what the dullest people would 
find amusement in. He confined himself to the lower 
circles of society, with their paltry and insignificant 
follies ; never ascending to the higher regions, where it 
would have perhaps been not so easy for his readers 
to follow him. For instance, he never refers to the 
contest between the poetical schools, then raging ; 
never alludes to the struggle going on between national 
life and the prevailing French culture, and the vices of 
the latter, so glaringly manifest among the higher 
classes. But it was this very timidity, this limited 
sphere to which he confined himself, that made him 
popular with the many, who seldom know what real 
satire is, and still seldomer can endure it ; while they 
set uncommon store by wit of the conventional sort. 
In the dull squireens, informers, lady's maids, misers, 
and schoolmasters of Rabener we behold the triumph 
of Gottschedian proslness and dry common-place. His 
writings are a striking testimony to the fact that 
immoralities and absurdities, common, with slight varia- 
tion, to all times, are not the proper subjects for satire, 
The follies peculiar to a particular age and race, 
the particular mania with which the most exalted of 
the nation are bitten : the struggle between two dia- 


metrically different worlds of culture ; such must be the 
theme of poetic satire. Something great, in short, 
universal, distinctive. A satirist that has no eye to 
observe this sort of thing, or, like Rabener, no courage 
to attack it, has nothing left to talk about but the petty 
weaknesses and meannesses of the everyday world. 
Hence the tameness that pervades his vrritings. In- 
deed, many of the squibs and lampoons that appeared 
on the subject of the Bodmer and Gottsched contro- 
versy are much more like real satire than the so-called 
satires of the Saxon Commissioner of Taxes.* 

Another poet who has been greatly over-rated was 
Justus Friedrich Wilhelm Zacharia.j Zacharia ex- 
hibited much poetic precocity, and at the early age 
of eighteen brought out the " Comic Epopoea," as he 
called it, in the manner of Pope. Gottsched took the 
young student by the hand, and in 1744 a well-known 
production of his appeared in Schwabe's periodical, 
''Recreations," &c. This was the "Eennomist," in 
which a lively picture is drawn of the doings of the 
students of Jena, their brutality, beer-drinking, sword- 
whetting, and beating the watchmen ; and this in the 
traditionary style of epic poetry. There is very little 

* Gottlieb Wilhelm Eabener, born at Wachau, in Saxony, 1714; 
died at Dresden, 1771. He began his career as a satirist in 1737, -with 
his only metrical piece, "Beweis dass die Reime unentbehrlich sind." 
His other satires came out chiefly between 1742 and 1748, in the "Be- 
lustigungen des Terstandes," and in the "Bremische Beitrage." He 
published a collective edition, 1751; and between then and 1777, his 
works went through eight editions. 

t Bom at Frankenhausen, 1726; died, a Professor at Brunswick, 1777. 
He flourished from 1744 to 1763. His "Fabeln uud Erziilimgen in 
Bureard Waldis Manier" appeared later, viz. 1771. 


of the comic In these pages. The best part of them are 
the scenes of student-life, Not that there is a grain of 
poetry in them ; but the circumstance that people had 
long been accustomed to an absence of all truth in 
description obtained for them a popularity which in 
poetical times would not have fallen to their lot. "Die 
Verwandlungen," another epopcea of his, appeared in 
the periodical called the " Bremische Beitrage," while 
others came out in a separate form, e g. " Schnupf- 
tuch " (a variation of Pope's " Eape of the Lock "), 
" Phaeton," and " Murner in der Holle." Both these 
are not in the rhymed Alexandrine, hitherto in vogue, 
but in the Klopstock Hexameter. All these poems 
are very stupid, and still more so the two following 
descriptive pieces, which long enjoyed a high re- 
pute : " Die Tageszeiten," in imitation of Kleist's 
" Spring," full of forced poetic descriptions, and what 
is worse, of the oddest digressions; and the "Four 
Ages of Woman." 

Abraham Gotthelf Kastner adhered to Gottsched 
during that poet's lifetime, and afterwards abstained 
from joining any of the new Schools of Poetry. But 
in no respect can he be considered as one of the regular 
Gottsched School. He enjoyed a high reputation in 
the literary world, and was, moreover, a staunch oppo- 
nent of the novel ideas in Church and State then 
prevalent. His poems are chiefly didactic; but it is 
with his epigrams that we have here to do. About 
half of them appeared in Gottsched's periodicals, the 
rest were written at a later period. In 1781 an edition 
of them appeared at Darmstadt, by Hopfner, contrary 


to the wishes of the author ; another by Justi, with his! 
consent, in 1800, the year in which he died. His 
epigrams are excellent. We will mention a few. That 
on Kepler ; on the battle of Rossbach (Gra3c^ Hippo- 
crene) ; on the poet growing old ; and on the motto, 
"Non datur vacuum." It is against Klopstock and 
his manner that the following lines are directed : — 

" So toll erhaten Gewasoh in reimlos ametrisohen Zeilen ; 
Seh ich f iir Verse nlcht an, mir ist es rasende prosa.'' 

" Such madly exalted -wish-wash, in lines without metre, and rhyme- 
I don't think are verses at all, but only some prose run distracted." 

Bodmer's eccentricities, e.g. his writing y for the 
German ii, and printing his works in Latin letters, 
came in for a share of his sarcasm. The hardness and 
emptiness of his style are also attacked in the following 
epigram: — 

" Seht die epischen Zeilen, frei vom Masse der Sylbeu 
Frel vom Zwange des Eeims, hart wie Zyrchische Verse, 
Leer wie Meisnisohe Eeime ; Seht, der glycliliche Kynstler 
!Fyllt die rijmisohen Lettern, wie pythagorisohen y y 
Zum Ermyden des Lesers, besser zu nytzende Bogen." 

There are also two good epigrams of his, ridiculing 
the fantastic dreams of freedom in the days of the Ee- 
volution. One is headed " Freiheitserklarung," the 
other " Allemands grands Admirateurs." 

Three weeks before his death, at the age of eighty- 
one, Kastner wrote his own epitaph, " Von miih und 
arbeit voll," &c., which is more remarkable for its 


Christian spirit than for any literary merit. Rendered 
into English, it runs thus : — 

" Full of pains and labours, my life lasted long ; 
Yet rejoicing withal in His service, ■who lent me power ; 
Believing in the Son, who gave Himself for ns, 
And of good cheer, I pass into eternity.'' 

A few words here on Johanu Arnold Ebert, of 
Hamburg, who, like Zacharia, resided subsequently 
in Brunswick. It is chiefly as the representative of 
English literature in North Germany, as Bodmer had 
been in South Germany and Switzerland, that he is 
remarkable. But he did much more than Bodmer ; 
he translated for the " Bremische Beitrage," Glover's 
"Leonidas," and, in 1760, Young's " Night Thoughts," 
which for a great many years exercised an extraordi- 
nary influence on the reading public of Germany. Soon 
after, he gave to the world translations of Eichardson's 
novels, " Grandison " and " Pamela," and then of " Os- 
sian." For a long time German literature was deeply 
infected with the peculiarities of this sort of writing ; 
its affectation of profound thought, its exquisiteness, 
its diffuseness,'its touching sentimentality. Indeed, 
the sentimental period, of which more anon when Wer~ 
' ther comes to be discussed, is intimately connected 
with these importations from England. 

Lastly, the dramatists of this era of preparation de- 
mand our notice, with the two Schlegels at their head. 
The youngest of the three brothers, Heinrich Schlege], 
only translated English pieces. He it was who, toge- 



ther with Ebert, spread the taste for English literature 
in Jforth Germany. He also superseded the Alexan- 
drine by the Iambic of five feet ; which Lessing after- 
wards used in his drama of " Nathan," and by this 
means brought it into general vogue. Schiller likewise 
made use of it in his tragedies. 

But to revert to the two elder brothers. Of these, 
the eldest, Johann Elias Schlegel, is the foremost re- 
presentative of the pre-Lessingian drama. From his 
example we learn, what an enthusiasm for national 
literature Gottsched, dry and wooden though he was, 
managed to awaken in the breast of the German youth. 
The reason of which is, that Gottsched's reforms 
touched exactly that point where it was most acutely 
and universally felt that reforms were wanting, viz. the 
Drama. While a schoolboy at Pforta, Schlegel used 
to write dramas and act them with his school-fellows. 
As he grew up he continued the pursuit with the 
greatest ardour, incited thereto by Gottsched, who in- 
troduced some of his plays upon the Leipzig boards. 
These plays, which met with unmeasured praise from 
all sides, are, no doubt, better than Gottsched's. The 
comedies have more life about them ; but still they are 
very tedious, the " Miissiganger " especially ; the " Ge- 
heimnissvoUe " less so. Of the tragedies, " Kanut " 
only need be mentioned. Their fault is deficiency of 
action and superfluity of talk ; poetry they have none. 
Schlegel died in 1749, in the thirty-first ye^r of his 
age, of over-much work. Many of his contemporaries 
succumbed in the same manner, e. g. Lessing's friend, 
Mylius ; Von Br awe, at the age of twenty ; and Von 


Cronegk, at six and twenty. The latter's tragedy of 
" Codrus " did not appear till 1757. It is an imitation 
from the French, though at the time it was praised for 
its incomparable orginality. We here have a painful 
example of the unsteady, indefinite manner in which 
the dramatic writers cast about them for a subject ; 
now disinterring something from the distant past, and 
tricking it out with modern patchwork to render it 
palatable; now drawing upon the most trivial produc- 
tions of the present. 

Although a hundred years have elapsed since then, 
Germany has not advanced much in the drama, in spite 
of the teaching of Lessing, and Goethe, and Schiller. 

Christian Felix Weisse* is a dramatist, who, though 
of later date, yet in the main wrote in the style of the 
older Saxon (Gottsched) school. At all events, he 
does not follow Lessing, although he was long intimate 
with him. His earliest and best works were written 
at the time when Gottsched, though already beaten, 
was still prolonging his contest with the Swiss and with 
the followers of Klopstock. It was reserved for Weisse 
to give him the coup de grace. At the instance of Les- 
sing he first essayed comedy, and with some success. 
In 1749 his " Matrone von Ephesus," and his " Leicht- 
glaubige," were favourite pieces. In 1752 he gained 
great applause by his " Die verwandelten Weiber oder 

* Bom 28th January, 1726, at Annaberg ; died, as Upper Secretary 
of Taxes, at Dresden, 16th December, 1804. He flourished, as poet, 
from 1750 to 1770. From 1760 to 1795, he edited the " Bibliothek der 
Wissenschaften," &c., a periodical which, together with Wielaud's 
" Merkur,'' and Nicolai's " Deutsche Bibliothek," -was the oracle of 

8 2 


der Teufel 1st los," taken from the English piece, " The 
DevU to Pay," This is now forgotten, all but the 
song in it, " Ohne Lieb und ohne Wein was war unser 
Leben." This play put Gottsched in an incredible 
passion. In his " Buchersaal " he attacked his former 
pupil, Weisse, as a young man who, with unheard-of 
audacity, was undoing all the good he (Gottsched) had 
done towards improving public taste. Not content with 
this, he assailed Dieskau, the Directeur des Plaisirs at 
Dresden, with the most earnest importunities, not to 
permit Weisse's play to be acted. His petition was 
written in most comical French, and was published by 
the other party, for which Gottsched brought an action 
'against them. Host, whose attack on Gottsched in the 
" Vorspiel " has already been mentioned, also known 
for his licentious pastorals, put the whole transaction 
into doggerel verse under the title, " Schreiben des 
Teufels an Herrn Gottsched, Kunstrichter der Leip- 
ziger Schaubiihne." The effect of this squib was 
indescribable. But what made the joke still better 
was, that Count Briihl, of Dresden, to whom Eost was 
private secretary, and to whom Gottsched preferred 
complaints of the treatment he had received, made the 
luckless victim read the squib, of which he complained, 
in his presence. From that day Gottsched was extinct 
in a literary sense, and it was Weisse who had brought 
about the catastrophe. The next play he wrote was 
the"Lustige Schuster," also from the English — the 
verses in which, " Minister flicken am Staate," are still 
known. Then followed " Poeten nach der Mode," a 
weak affair, but which was so far of importance that 


it attacked the parties both of Gottsched and Klop-; 
stock. From this date the latter party cut his ac- 

The merit of these plays is that their language is more 
pliant and flexible, more suited to comedy, than had 
hitherto been the fashion. They took with the middle 
classes even more than the comedies of Lessing, which 
appeared at the same time, although they can hardly 
in any respect be compared with them. Subsequently 
"Weisse attempted tragedy. He wrote " Edward III." 
and " Richard III." The latter of these was an uncom- 
mon favourite, although full of Frenchified phrase and 
mouthing — quite, in fact, in the antiquated Gottsched 
style, which Lessing attacks in his "Dramaturgy." 
His " Romeo and Juliet " won still greater laurels. It 
is from other sources beside Shakspeare, and this to its 
manifest disadvantage. His last tragedy was " Jean 
Galas," a piece replete with emotions, exclamations, and 
exaffgerations. Between his " E-ichard" and " Romeo" 
his operettas intervened, which, unfortunately, were 
long in vogue, e. g. " Lottchen am Hofe ;" " Die Liebe 
auf dem Lande," after the French; "Annette et 
Lubin ;" " Die Jagd," in which occurs the well-known 
sonff, " Als ich auf meiner Bleiche mein klares Gam 
begoss ;" the " Erntekranz," and, lastly, the " Dorf- 
barbier." These pieces were of course regarded with 
high disfavour by Bodmer, who beheld in them the 
return of the French frivolity. In fact, they are a 
recurrence to the jingling, empty, sing-song pieces 
which Gottsched had attacked and driven from the 
stage fifty or sixty years before, at the beginning of 

B 3 


the century ; so that he was partially right, after all. 
Marvellous as it may seem, these operettas ruled the 
boards when Lessing was at the height of his fame, 
and his " Minna von Barnhelm " was already written. 
"Weisse possessed great facility of composition, being 
able to write a tragedy in fourteen days in the midst 
of his avocations as a collector of the revenue. He 
also wrote lyric songs, " Scherzhafte Lieder," which 
were much admired ; his Amazonian songs still more 
so ; but they are now forgotten, as they deserve. Most 
enduring were his merits as a writer for children. 
His " Kinderfreund " is a continuation of Adelung's 
" Weekly Paper for Children." It commenced in 1775, 
but bears the unmistakable stamp of the old Saxon 
school. His songs for children are in an unsufferably 
pedantic tone. He tells us how alarmed he was to 
hear sung at the cradle of his first-born the stupid old 
nursery rhymes. But of all the nursery rhymes he 
ever wrote, not one is equal to the old song, " Wenn 
der jungste Tag will werden, fallen die Sternlein auf 
die Erden," which still lives on, while his are forgotten. 
Little better are his songs in which he wished to com- 
pel children to sing the praises of diligence, " Siisser 
angenehmer Fleiss, o wie herrlich ist der Preiss," or, 
" Morgen, Morgen, nur nicht heute," which are more 
than half Gottschedian in tone. 

Some other poets of this period — Kleist, Uz, and 
Glelm — are more allied to Klopstock, though still dis- 
tinct from him. They will be described after him. 



Friedrlcli Gottlieb Klopstock* was a man of great 
mental endowments, and whose superiority was uni- 
versally acknowledged from the very commencement of 
his career. Although he advocated the views of Bodmer, 
and formed his epic on the basis of Milton, — although, 
moreover, he resembled in style, language, and ideas 
the authors of the " Bremische Beitrage," yet there are 
features in his poetry distinct from all these. As for 
Gartner, Gellert, and Schlegel, everybody felt that, in 
comparison with Klopstock, they were nothing ; their 
day was past, and a new era of poetry had commenced. 
Something of a like nature occurred in the first clas- 
sical period of German literature. Heinrich von Vel- 
dekin exercised an influence over his contemporaries no 
less sudden and magical. He created a new verse, a 

* Born at Quedlinturg, July 2, 1724; died at Hamburg, March 14, 
1803. During his residence at Schulpforte (1739-45) he conceived the 
poetical idea of his "Messias," which he wrote at Leipzig, 1746-1748. 
His odes to Fanny (Friederike Schmidt) were written while he was 
tutor at Lagensalza, 1748-1749. In 1750 he resided some time with 
Bodmer at Zurich. From 1751 to 1771, chiefly in Copenhagen, whither 
he was invited by the Danish Minister Bernstorff, and received a pension 
that he might have leisure to complete the "Messias." From 1771, 
until his death, with the exception of a short residence in 1775 at Carls- 
ruhe, he lived at Hamburg. His long life was one of " happy leisure " 
for the Muses. His existence was chequered only with the joys and 
sorrows of domestic and social life ; which explains a good deal not only 
in his poetry, but in the productions of his school. Much light is thrown 
on his interior life in his descriptions of his relations with his wife (Meta 
MoUer, called Cidli in his odes ; married 1754, died 1758), and of her 
death in the eleventh volume of his works. Klopstock's Werke, Leip- 
aig, 1798-1817, Goschen. 



new language, new ideas, a new poetry. Still there is 
this diflference between him and Klopstock : Veldekin 
found iis materials ready to his hand, and it is chiefly 
in form that he employed his eminent talents. Klop- 
stock, on the other hand, although he is novel, and 
grand, and creative in the form of his verse, is stUl 
grander and more creative in respect to the matter. 

Klopstock was German to the core. German in 
earnestness and depth, in domestic feelings, in love of 
fatherland, German in simplicity and truth, and in his 
strong sympathy with nature. For a hundred and thirty 
years — ever since national feeling had become extinct' — 
there had been no end of talking about the German lan- 
guage, German poetry, German heroism, and what not. 
Every year poetry was to be more German than ever, 
and every year it was less so. The reason was, that the 
whole herd of soi-disant " Germans" had no nationality' 
a,bout them. Klopstock at last appeared upon the scene. 
He did not make a great parade about trying to be 
German, but was German, heart and soul. And it was 
his example that awakened an interest, sincere and 
universal, in Germany's past history — an interest 
which all the Arminiuses and Thusneldas of a Lohen- 
stein, the Wittekinds of a Postel, the Hermanns of a 
Schonaich, and even Bodmer himself, had failed to ex- 
cite. And yet, strangely enough, Bodmer had taken a 
right way to accomplish this, and Klopstock a strange 
and roundabout one, which did not so much differ from 
that followed by Lohenstein, Postel, and Schonaich. 

A second prominent element in Klopstock's character 
as a poet is his vivid Christian belief. Here, too, he 


may be called new and creative. We don't pretend to 
assert that there had not been true Christians before 
him, or that, in the century preceding him, Christian 
poets had not poured forth their faith in a flood of 
inspired hymns ; but since the days of the Reformation, 
except in the Protestant church-hymn, the spirit of 
Christianity had never been proclaimed with such truth 
and fervour, in tones so striking, so iiniversally touch- 
ing. Certainly it had never been so much part and 
parcel of a poet's existence, since the olden days of a 
Conrad, a Lamprecht, and a Wolfram von Eschenr 
bach. Not to the Church alone, but to all the world, 
Klopstock sang of the redemption of sinful man. Bold 
and free, he spoke from the depths of his soul, of 
Christianity, not as of a doctrine, but as a fact. The 
Saviour was his Saviour, whom he embraced with all 
the power and warmth of his soul. It was the person 
of the Ercdeemer that inspired his song, that gave it a 
form and consistency. Nor must we forget that for 
more than a hundred years before Klopstock, even in 
the Reformed Church, Christianity had become a matter 
of doctrine, of erudition, a dead conventional formula. 
The official psalmody of the Opitz school abundantly 
testifies to this cold Christianity of custom. In the spirit 
of Spener, Klopstock rose up with all the fire of his 
testimony against this dead belief. The bitter contests 
between the Pietists and the Orthodox party were over, 
and had been succeeded by a greater indifference than 
before. Be as hard with Klopstock as we will, — say his 
poetry is subjective, arbitrary, unecclesiastical, — say 
that it produced a profitless religion of emotion, — yet. 

s 5 


after all, we must allow that he was endowed with a 
Christian enthusiasm, quite new in those days, full of 
truth and poetry, kindling a similar feryour in his con- 

The next peculiarity of Klopstock is, that he was 
the first to make the measures and forms of classic 
antiquity the vehicle of German thought and German 
matter. In national feeling and Christian feeling, the 
old German poets were his equals ; but in this third 
feature he excelled them. There had been a long fight 
waged between classical lore and German nationality. 
For two hundred years the study of the classics had 
been carried on with intense zeal, throwing national 
feeling into the back-ground, and for a space of one 
hundred years German poetry and German feeling were 
all but extinguished by it. And yet what fruits had 
this sovereignty of the classics borne ? During all this 
period the Germans had not even learnt the true value 
of the antique models. The " polished" Virgil was 
pronounced supe^or toHomer, as is clear from the 
conversation between Gellert and Frederick 11, The 
most wooden, stiff imitations of the classics were 
brought to market, not containing a spark of antique 
poetical fire. Germany, in fact, was for centuries at 
school, cudgeling its brains to no purpose, " ever learn- 
ing, and still not able to get to the knowledge of the 
truth," till Klopstock appeared, shut the school doors, 
applied what had been learned, and transformed 
school-exercises into breathing, living, original poetry, 
but in the form and measure and mode of thought of 
the antique. Klopstock borrowed the grand ideas of 


the ancient epic and inspired ode, and grafted them on 
the German stock. The ancient measure, too, which 
had so often been tried in vain, he took and adapted to 
German poetry. Not that his blank verse, his hexa- 
meters, and the form of his odes are by any means per- 
fect models of versification. But the great good he 
wrought by introducing blank verse was, that he put 
an end to that mechanical rhyming and sing-songing, — 
that notion that sound was everything and sense no- 
thing ; and thus he made great and lofty and poetical 
ideas the pith and marrow of German verse. So, then, 
it appears that these three qualities, — nationality. 
Christian feeling, and anti-pedantic spirit, combining 
harmoniously together, for the first time, in the person 
of Klopstock, made him what he was. 

Another peculiarity of Klopstock, personally and 
poetically, is what we will call his universal sympathy ; 
in which he is the representative of a numerous class of 
followers. Nothing of the kind was known to the early 
times of poetry. This is due to the reaction then so pre- 
valent against the heartless ceremonial, the formality 
and hypocrisy of society. People were tired of hollow 
masquerade, and wanted to have something like genuine 
feeling ; a touch of nature unfettered by the trammels 
of conventionalism. It was this same instinct which 
made the Eobinsonades and Aventurier stories so 

friendship with Klopstock and his school amounted 
to a consuming passion. They were all feeling and sen- 
timentality, pathos, tears : always in a transport of in- 
effable sympathy. " Weinende Augen," " tearful eyes," 



play a conspicuous part in his poetry. But this excess 
of emotion is not confined to his heroes and heroines, 
it was the life of his school, and the admirers of the 
works of Richardson. They laid a wonderful stress on 
the momentary feelings and impulses of each individual. 
This sickly sentimentality, when applied to social and 
political matters, passed into the ideal, the visionary, 
and unpractical. They, became incapable of forming a 
correct judgment of the real state of things in the 
world around them. Hence it was that Klopstock, the 
poet of the century, the man of his age, fell into such 
inconceivable errors respecting the essence of the 
French Revolution. Not that he was revolutionary in 
his ideas, but he was a visionary, and it was this very 
vague hunting after the ideal and the unreal that in 
.France led to wild and bloody incendiarism. The evil 
effects of this idiosyncrasy of mind are clearly stamped 
on his poetry. It deals too much in vague sensations 
and impulses. It is ever attempting to express what 
is inexpressible ; and, while approaching a high pitch 
of lyric sublimity, it often fails in plastic firmness. 
Instead of true and simple language, descriptive of 
true and simple life, it frequently indulges in the rhe- 
toric of effeminate sentimentality. 

Klopstock conceived the first idea of his poem, " The 
Messiah," while yet a pupil at Schulpforte. The inspi- 
ration was due partly to a dream he had, partly to the 
" Paradise Lost." Indeed, much of the colouring is 
evidently borrowed from Milton's poem. The method 
chosen by him to represent the scheme of Redemption is 
what the Germans call " the objective mythological,'' 


t.e, the course of the transaction is described, not as it 
visibly occurred before man on earth, but as it was 
shaped in the councils of God the Father and God the 
Son in Heaven. The disadvantage of this method of 
treating the subject — instead of the other two ways he 
might have taken, viz,, those of describing Christ's works 
on earth, or the effects of the Gospel in converting men, 
— is, that it admits of very little action ; if the actions of 
the Almighty alone are to be represented. If, on the 
other hand, the author had travelled out of the record, 
and introduced action of his own invention, he would 
very likely have thereby offended the Christian sense^ 
and been wandering into the monstrous and fantastic. 
It is in this dilemma that he is involved throughout the 
poem. Hence its want of epic repose. Owing to the 
paucity of action it often merges from epic into the region 
of descriptive poetry. The whole abounds with speeches, 
conversations, and descriptions, which are interrupted 
with remarks that the thing described is indescribable. 
Episodes, too, are frequent, which often pass into rhe- 
torical and lyric eflfusions. The action, what there is 
of it, or, as we may call it, the Christian mythology, 
often hovers on the extreme verge between the allow- 
able and the objectionable. It is a proverbial saying 
that very few people have been able to read the " Mes- 
siah " from the beginning to the end. There are two 
reasons for this : first, the extreme length of the poem, 
secondly, the manifest falling off in poetic warmth after 
the tenth canto. When the author began his task he 
had no clear conception of it as a whole. In fact, he 
was engaged upon it full five and twenty years. The 


first three cantos appeared in 1748 ; the two following 
in 1751; from the sixth to the tenth in 1758; the 
eleventh to the fifteenth not till 1769, and the five last 
in 1773. The second half is not the produce of uncon- 
scious inspiration ; it is artificial and laboured. This 
remark is not inapplicable to the much-admired de- 
scription of the death of Mary at Bethany, in the 
twelfth canto. The first ten cantos, however, are 
a fine specimen of grand and touching descriptive 

It is in his odes that the excellence of Klopstock as 
a poet is most apparent. His muse here, less encum- 
bered by the weight of the theme, takes a more 
measured and majestic flight. Indeed, in the latter 
part of the Messiah, he threw aside the hexameter and 
inserted a number of lyric pieces and hymns instead. 
In his odes we see his own personal qualities strongly 
reflected ; his religious feelings ; his kindness ; his 
patriotism. There is, however, a wide difference 
between his earlier and later odes. The former, 
written before 1760, when he was quite a young man, 
are full of fiery enthusiasm and sublime rapture, 
wherever God and the Redeemer are the theme. Is 
friendship the subject, his verse is fervid and manly. 
Does he sing of Fanny or Cidli, he overflows with 
deep manly affection, and most touching, though not 
morbid, melancholy. Lastly, when he essays to raise 
a monument to the glory of his country, e. g. in " Hein- 
rich der Vogler," " Hermann und Thusnelde," &c., there 
is a proud tone of independence and self-reliance 
expressed in simple and natural language. 


With regard to his love-odes, they are not, like 
most love-odes had been since the days of Opitz, 
pure imagination. On the contrary, like the songs of 
the old Minnesingers, which they resemble in tone 
(although Klopstock did not know it), they are 
addressed to some real object of his affections. "We 
may here remark, that in this respect Klopstock's 
example has been followed by all the erotic poets 
since. His later odes, especially those written after 
1770, are, with few exceptions, remarkably cold. The 
religious ones affect grandeur of expression and descrip- 
tion. Those to his fatherland are disfigured by scraps 
of Northern mythology foisted into them. The rest 
are generally upon unsuitable topics. In most, the 
language is artificial, the style obscure, or they are 
unlyrically didactic. 

Klopstock is also known as the author of hymns, 
some of them original, others, older ones remodelled. 
But they wanted the popular element which is essential 
to the church hymn. They represent sesthetic and 
refined religious sensations rather than facts. His 
celebrated hymn, " Auferstehen ja auferstehen," is no 
exception. They may be called spiritual songs, but 
not church hymns. And then they are too much 
occupied with self, too full of emotion or whining 
sentiment^ which resolves itself at last into mere 
nonentity. Klopstock's dramatic poetry is of no great 
importance. He wrote three biblical pieces; the oldest 
of these, and the best, " Adam's Tod," is, after all, a 
mere luscious idyll. The two others " Salomo " and 
" David," are complete failures. 


Besides these, lie wrote three " Bardiete," as they 
are called. The earliest, which appeared in 1769, and 
was dedicated to the Emperor Joseph, is entitled the 
*' Hermannsschlacht." It met with great applause, and 
yet it is difficult to imagine a more utter mistake. 
The contrast here between the heroism portrayed, and 
the overstrained sentimentality and morbid effeminacy 
with which it is invested, is quite revolting. The 
caricatures of the Druids and Bards, their songs and 
sacrifices, are beyond bearing. In this piece is clearly 
impressed the influence of "Ossian," which first became 
known in Germany in 1764. There is that same 
unpoetical mixing up of old characters and modern 
sentiment, which has contributed so much to the de- 
pravation of taste. These vagaries of Klopstock's were 
diligently imitated by his admirers, in their " Barden- 
poesie " ("Poetry of the Bards "). 

Of Klopstock's prose works the less said the better, 
as in them he becomes quite trivial and childish. He 
lies buried at Ottensen, under a linden tree, by the 
side of his beloved Meta. 

Gotthold Ephraim Leasing* the other awakener of 
German poetical independence, is quite the opposite of 

* Of all the German poets of modern times Lessing's works alone 
have appeared in a critical and complete edition ; Lessing's " Samtliche 
Schriften," Berlin (Voss), 1838-1840, in 13 volmnes, edited by Lach- 
mann. This edition leaves very little to be supplied. Gottlieb Monike, 
" Lessingiana," 1843, chiefly refers to his epigrams. Korte, in his 
Biography of Thacr, went so far as to ascribe, Lessing's " Erziehung 
des Menschen-geschleehts," to that author. , The absurdity of the state- 
ment has been shown by Guhraner. Lessing was born at Camenz, 
January 27, 1729 ; died, as librarian, at Wolfenbuttel, Feb. 15, 1781. 


Klopstock. Klopstock is quiet, mild, and retiring; 
Leasing uneasy, sharp, taking a keen interest in the 
world around. Here we have lyric poetry dissolved in 
tenderness; there prose full of sober sense and cool 
self-possession ; here an easy laissez aller disposition ; 
there sharp criticism and excessive scepticism. The 
one attached to Christianity with child-like faith ; the 
other indifferent to positive religion, and taking up a 
position hostile to the Church ; in the one everything 
German and Christian; in the other antique and pagajn. 
In Klopstock's poetry the matter mastering the form ; 
in Lessing's, the form holding the matter in rigorous 
submission. In short, there were antagonistic prin- 
ciples in these two men which it was reserved for 
Goethe to reconcile. In the matter of his writings 
Lessing leans decidedly to the antique classic element, 
much more so than Klopstock, who was the finger-post> 
60 to say, in that direction ; while Lessing led off on it. 
In short, he- may be considered as a representative of 
that contest between Christianity and heathenism which 
had long been going on secretly in Germany, and 
which, towards the end of the seventeenth century, 
came out in its true colours in the tenets of English 
Deism. Lessing represents that party in Germany who 
are alway seeking and never finding ; who, in fact, prize 
the pursuit of truth higher than truth itself. Hence, 
in every instance where he handles the profounder 
problems of humanity, he is uneasy and polemical; there 
is always something unsatisfactory and inharmonious. 

Shifting about from place to place, now at Leipzig^ 
now at Berlin, now in Breslau, Hamburg, and WolfeuT 


biittelj with a number of irons in the fire at the same 
time, Leasing has laid himself open to the charge of 
desultoriness and uncertainty of object. Still, there 
was a vigour and an energy about all he did; a strength 
of purpose, a straightforwardness, and intelligence in 
his attacks on the literary faults of the day, that secured 
his success and demands our admiration. He was the 
first to throw off" the yoke of France, which pressed so 
heavily on German literature ; while he prevented it 
from being a too slavish imitator of the English. He it 
was who naturalised in Germany the touch and lucid 
form of the antique. He assailed the stupid formalism 
of "that great dunce," Go ttsched, as he called him; and 
criticised the shapeless descriptions in the "Messiah." 
Lange, and the other unskilful imitators of Horace; his 
old friend "Weisse, who imitated the French; the fables 
of Hagedorn, Gellert, and Lichtwer; indeed, didactic 
poetry generally ; and lastly, the taste for over-much 
painting and describing — all these came in for a share of 
his sarcasm. Like Bodmer, he makes creative, inventive 
power the first requisite of true poetry ; but this power 
he makes subservient to the strictest rules. In the 
drama he follows Shakspeare and the Canons of Ari- 

His principle was not to destroy, but to purify, to 
improve, to seek for new rules. His " Correspondence 
about Literature," with Nicolai, from 1759 to 1765 ; 
his " Laocoon, or concerning the Boundaries of Paint- 
ing and Poetry," which appeared in 1766 ; and the 
" Hamburgische Dramaturgic" (1768), are his chief cri- 
tical works. But, besides this, he was, next to Luther, 


the father of modern German prose. His style is that 
of animated dialogue, where one idea naturally produces 
another ; thought follows thought in logical sequence. 
We are delighted with the playful turns, but we are 
withal carried away, convinced, overpowered. The 
conversation is so lively and clear that we almost fancy 
we are bearing a part in it. Objection and refutation, 
question and answer, doubt and clearing up of doubt, 
follow each other in rapid succession, till the subject is 
thoroughly exhausted; and yet the writer does not 
dwell upon it a minute longer than is necessary to set 
the whole clearly before us. There is nothing super- 
fluous in word or thought, nothing for mere ornament, 
nothing half said ; he goes to the pith of the matter, 
and brings it home to us, and he has done. There 
must evidently be a great charm in that man's style 
who can make the most special and out of the way 
topics in science or art interesting sources of the 
greatest possible literary enjoyment. No wonder, then, 
that Lessing's style has, in its peculiar department, 
been considered a model for the last eighty years or 

Lessing's youthful epigrams and lyrics are unimpor- 
tant, although one of the latter, " Gestem, Briider konnt 
ihr's glauben," is still remembered. Of his prose fables 
it need only be remarked that they are written with 
epigrammatic brevity, and in strict keeping with the 
subject. It is in his dramas that he developes his 
powers. Even in his youthful comedies, "Die alte 
Juiigfer," " Der junge Gelehrte," " Der Misogyn," 
"Die Juden," "Der Schatz," the dialogue Is more 


lively and natural than all the contemporary efforts in 
the same line, although the plot does not rise above the 
ordinary. His tragedy, " Miss Sara Sampson," is of 
much higher calibre. Here he attempts to introduce 
the spirit of the English tragedy to the German boards. 
Hitherto the different personages had pronounced only 
rhetorical exercises ; here they are endued with some- 
what more of a natural character. But there still clings, 
both to this piece and to " Philotas" (1759), some of 
the sententious, moralising manner that had so long 
been traditional on the stage. With " Minna von 
Barnhelm " it is different. " Here," as Goethe says, 
" we have a glimpse at a higher and grander world 
than that in which poetry had hitherto moved." The 
dialogue is lively and rapid, without ornamentation and 
sententiousness, without being heavy and pathetic. 
The design is masterly, and the action moves along 
briskly to the goal. One chief reason why this piece 
rises above the level of its contemporaries is that it has 
for its back-ground the grand events of the Seven 
Years' War ; while the life it portrays is not an imagi- 
native, but a real one — the action not confined within 
the narrow bounds of domestic occurrences and petty 
embarrassments, but arising out of the great conflict of 
the nations. So that it may with justice be considered 
the first German national play, and the model for histo- 
rical pieces. The effects it wrought were prodigious. 
All the stiff old tragedies and dramas that encumbered 
the stage were swept away like so much lumber, and 
people returned to truth and nature once more. Un- 
fortunately the, good, fruits that ought to have resulted 


were to some extent marred by a crowd of ignorant 

Leasing himself did not pursue any further the path 
which he had struck out in " Minna von Barnhelm." 
His " Emilia Galotti," which appeared five years later, 
exhibits in many respects a striking contrast to the 
former piece. The subject of "Minna" is quite a 
model of dramatic interest ; "Emilia" is a model of tragic 
form. In this respect more can be learnt from it than 
from all the dramas of Schiller. In clearness of expo- 
sition it surpasses " Minna." The way in which the 
events are made to work hand in hand with the action 
is admirable. The characters are finely and sharply 
drawn, but without hardness or irregularity. Indeed, 
in this respect, Lessing excels Goethe in his "Tasso." 
The language is as precise and curt as possible. By 
some it has been called epigrammatic, — by Goethe, 
laconic. In point of material, it served Schiller and 
his followers as a model of what the Germans call 
burgher tragedy. The time for making a grand tra- 
gedy on the destinies of the nation, and on its national 
heroes, had passed by without being taken advantage 
of. In the days of Opitz and Gottsched foreign heroes 
had been attempted, but in vain. Nothing, therefore, 
remained but to take as the subject of a tragedy the 
fate and sufferings of individuals : their conflicts within 
and without, the destruction of some with their fami- 
lies. Topics, it is true, poor and insignificant as com- 
pared with the destinies of nations and heroes, but the 
only ones left open. Lessing had at an earlier period 
thought of dramatising the Eomau story of " Vir- 


ginia," and, in fact, this is the material of "Emilia 

At the close of his career, Lessing wrote his " Na- 
than," a piece which, neither in exposition nor in 
action, approaches the transparency of " Minna " and 
"^ Emilia." The language, however, is more simple 
and lively than in the latter. This piece was meant 
to be a polemical one (Gervinus calls it materialistic); 
and this makes its artistic value inferior to that of 
the two first mentioned. It is written in the Iambics 
of five feet, which were introduced by J. H. Schlegel 
and Weisse, and which now became the standing metre 
for the drama as long as it flourished. 

In Klopstock we have seen the Christian poet in- 
spired with the loftiest ideas, the German poet full of 
ardent patriotism. Again, in Lessing we behold the 
disciple of the antique, the keen and lucid critic. In 
Christopher Martin Wieland we have a writer of a 
totally dififerent stamp. He is neither German nOr 
classical, but French; the advocate of those tastes 
which the other two opposed heart and soul. He dis- 
tinctly repudiates the noble and the great. With the 
sublime he has no concern. Animal enjoyment, sen- 
suality, frivolity, of these he is the apostle. Wieland 
represents poetically the practical materialism of Vol- 
taire, La Mettrie, Diderot, and the encyclopsedists. 
He advocates the popular philosophy of the sensualist, 
who considers thorough enjoyment of this life the 
height of wisdom, and the motto of live and let live — 
that is, in fact, the most refined egotism— to be the 


acme of morality. In a word, he is the German 
representatiye of the age of Louis XV. 

For the genuine antique he has but little taste ; what 
he best appreciates in antique life and antique poetry- 
is the period of its decline. The philosophy of Epicurus 
and Lucian is his model. But these he dresses up in 
a new costume ; for his Greek (e. g. in Agathon) are 
not Greek, but modern French characters. To him 
Greece is not a world of the noblest and purest forms, 
but a world of the most refined gratification of the 
senses. In the same way the romantic world has only 
charms for him in its dotage and decline. He loves 
most the seductive voluptuousness of Boccaccio and 
Ariosto, the very unideal sensuality of Amadis, the 
unchastised and almost thoughtless character of the 
fairy and allegoric poetry of romance, which, however, 
he only treated ironically. He was, therefore, the very 
man to suit those who could not endure the -Chris- 
tianity, the sublimity of Klopstock, wljo were out of 
all patience with the clear reasoning and rigorous logic 
ofLessing. He was just the person, too, to suit the 
higher classes, who had imbibed the subtle poison of 
France, and to whom thought was inconvenient, ideas 
troublesome, and enthusiasm an absurdity. It was the 
interest of the subject matter in Wieland's writings 
that made them during his lifetime more popular even 
than those of Klopstock and Lessing. After his death 
they were soon forgotten. We must also take into the 
account the fact that he was a good-tempered, worldly- 
minded man, who tried to make all the friends he 
could and no enemies ; made a point of never offending 


eminent people, and had not mettle enough for an 
earnest literary controversy. Doubtless, it was owing 
not a little to him that the succeeding prose and poetry 
writers espiancipated themselves from the stiff and arti- 
ficial style of the older " learned " period. He helped 
to check the overstrained sublimity of the Klopstock 
school. And it is his writings, so free, so natural, so 
■unconstrained, so instinct with cheerfulness and youth, 
that formed the intermediate step to the still lighter 
and easier style of Goethe ; who, fettered by no foreign 
rules, writes just as the nature of the subject dictates. 
But, in spite of all this, Wieland is deficient in almost 
all the qualities of a genuine classic poet. 

And what is the matter of his writings ? Modern 
French voluptuousness and indecency; the insipid 
philosophy of a Shaftesbury and a Voltaire disguised 
in Greek forms, as in the " Agathon," " Peregrinus 
Proteus," and " Aristippus ;" — the doctrine of tickling 
the senses, as in " Musarion oder Philosophic der 
Grazien," which acquired an inconceivable popularity. 
Pretty sweet-meats these, to refresh, to nourish, to 
edify the young generation. Again, In the " Nadine," 
in " Diana und Endymion," the " Neue Amadis," in 
that odious " Combabus," on which Wieland so espe- 
cially plumed himself for having here spoken out 
certain things in plain German, which people had 
hitherto supposed could only be enunciated in French ; 
in these and other pieces, the matter is only such gar- 
bage as society in a state of thorough effeteness, and of 
moral, political, and religious dissolution, could possibly 
take any pleasure in. Nay, even the subject of his 


" Oberon," — which, together with " The Abderites," is 
the only good subject he ever handled, — how little of 
the truly classic spirit does it possess ! How arbitrary, 
artificial, and fantastic ; and, then, how flat and com- 
mon-place ! Oberon and Titania the heroes of an epic ! 
How differently Shakspeare introduces them into his 
" Midsummer Night's Dream." Who can feel any 
interest for such cloud-shapes ; such theatrical figures ; 
not the natural creations of the poetic soul, but the 
misbegotten phantoms of a desultory, unstable imagina- 
tion. In " Oberon " there is none of the cool, fresh 
breath of the May morning, but the stifling, oppressive 
odours of the hot-house. In flne, the matter of 
" Oberon " does not stand a whit higher than that of 
" Wigamur," " Lanzelot," or " "Wigalois," And though, 
in point of style, the colouring may be clearer and more 
lively (Goethe's praise of " Oberon " refers to this), 
yet those poems have the advantage of being more 
simple, and in measured versification. 

And now to speak more particularly of the form (or 
treatment) of his writings. In his poetry, as well as 
in his prose, his pleasant cheerfulness of description 
frequently degenerates into nerveless softness, his ease 
into carelessness, his unconstrainedness into irregu- 
larity, and his copiousness into garrulity. In his prose 
the periods are spun out to such a monstrous length 
that Goethe and Schiller said of him in the " Xenia," 
" May the thread of your life be as long as your Prose 
Periods ; where, alas, Lachesis sleeps." In his poetry 
he juns riot into all sorts of motley and fantastic metres,, 
where the rhyme is loose and the measure looser. 



It is remarkable, that Wieland's mind was quite in- 
capable of handling lyrics. 

Many of the phenomena of his writings are to be 
explained by his personal peculiarities, and outward 
circumstances. A lad of much precocity, he wrote 
verses at the age of ten ; while he was brought up in 
straitened circumstances, and with the greatest strict- 
ness. Of a compliant disposition, and easily moulded 
by external impressions, he outwardly conformed to 
the religious turn prevailing in his father's house and 
at the school of Klosterbergen where he was educated, 
though without any corresponding inward impres- 
sion. At the age of eighteen he published a poem, 
"Ueber die Natur der Dinge ;" after which he attached 
himself intimately to Bodmer, who became the warm 
friend of the confiding youth, and fostered, or rather 
forced, his nascent talents. Sitting at one and the 
same table as Bodmer (so he himself tells us), he in- 
dited, quite in Bodmer's style and manner, an imitation 
of Klopstock, " Der gepriifte Abraham," and the so- 
called " Empfindungen eines Christen," a sort of prose 
psalmody. His outward religious conformity soon led 
him into religious exaggeration. In his preface to the 
last-named work, he made a fierce attack on the Poets 
of Wine and Love, i. e. Gleim and Uz. Subsequently, 
on his becoming connected with the family of Count 
Stadion, where French culture was the fashion, his re- 
ligious insincerity at once showed itself. Sick of his 
feigned Puritanism, he rushed into the opposite ex- 
treme, and became a convert to French lightness, 
frivolity, and indecency. Between 1760 and 1770, 


when he held an official situation at his native place, 
Biberach, his most scandalous effusions appeared. So 
bad were they, that Holty, Voss, and Boie (the 
" Hainbund " as they were called), burnt him in effigy 
at Gottingen. And so defective were they in form, 
that the " Alceste " was attacked by the young Goethe 
in his famous satire, " Gotter, Helden, und Wieland." 
After this he was appointed, as the man of the age, by 
the Elector of Mayence, to the professorship of literature, 
at Erfurdt; upon which he turned his attention to mo- 
dern theories of state, and wrote the " Goldener Spiegel 
oder die Konige von Scheschian." He then became 
tutor of the two Princes Kax^ August and Constan- 
tine of Saxe "Weimar. Placed in the midst of the noble 
coterie at Weimar, he laid aside his licentiousness, and 
wrote " Oberon " and " The Abderites," the latter of 
which is his most entertaining, if not his best, prose 
work. Then followed his Graecising Romances, " Pe- 
regrinus " and " Aristippus ;" after which he took to 
translating. His letters of Cicero, and the Epistles 
and Satires of Horace are well known and much read. 

Thus, then, we see him all his life open to the im- 
pression of the moment; receptive in the extreme, 
without being able to master, systematise, and assimi- 
late the impressions so acquired. Ever wavering be- 
tween the dictates of his own good nature and those of 
French shallow philosophy; between that dreaminess 
and diffidence so peculiar to the German, and the 
loosest frivolity, he tried his hand a everything. By 
those around him he was looked on as the model of a 
man of the world and as a paragon of learning. True 

I 2 


to tte dilettante spirit of the times, lie busied himself in 
everything, and took an Interest in nothing. He dab- 
bled in the antique and the modern, In the foreign and 
domestic, without really knowing any one of them. 
These qualifications, however, quite fitted him for the 
editorship of " The German Mercury," which he started 
in 1773, chiefly in order to make money. This weekly 
journal of literature and aesthetics was for thirty years 
the oracle of taste for the middle strata of society. 

Gervinus attributes the influence he had upon mo- 
dern poetry In a great measure to the fact that he 
raised mere sexual love to a poetical topic. This is 
quite true as far as narrative poetry is concerned. In 
this he set the fashion of making love, and love only the 
theme. But lyric poetry, especially that of Germany, 
always was of an amatory character long before Wie- 
land. Here a remarkable parallel occurs to our minds. 
When Wolfram von Eschenbach represented, in his 
"Parclval," the highest and the noblest aspirations, 
the greatest struggle that the soul of man has to wage, 
and the victory it achieved, he encountered a formida- 
ble antagonist. This was Gottfried von Strassburg, 
who, in his " Tristan," propounds and extols another 
class of Ideas, — worldly-mindedness, indifference to all 
laws human and divine, the empire of sensual desire. 
The same thing takes place over again in the period 
we are describing. Put Klopstock for Wolfram, for 
Gottfried, WIeland. In the one case, we have earnest- 
ness and sublimity, nationality and Christianity ; in 
the other, we have cosmopolitan notions, and notions 
contradictory of Christianity. On the one side, we have 


strictness and sobriety ; on the other, lively fascination, 
grace, soft voluptuousness. With this difference, how- 
ever, that Wieland never describes with the clearness 
and good taste of " Tristan ;" while Wolfram does not, 
like Klopstock, confine himself exclusively to spiritual 
topics, but treats of life in the concrete, the world in 
its reality. Gottfried calls Wolfram an inventor of 
wild, strange Mare. Wieland, in like manner, says 
that to him Klopstock is incomprehensible. In their 
Avorkings, too, the representatives of the two parties in 
the two ages have something in common. Wolfram 
never founded a school, properly so called ; but all the 
noble and elevated thoughts of Germany for three 
hundred years crystallised round him; whereas from 
Gottfried's poetry proceeded the germs of poetical 
decay. So, in like manner, a host of noble and grand 
aims and inplrations, turned upwards towards the 
poetic ideal, centred round Klopstock ; while the adhe- 
rents of Wieland were men of the lowest ideas ; so 
much so that they filled even him with alarm ; while 
his literary children at last collapsed in a filthy puddle. 
At the present day, his compositions, with few excep- 
tions, are neither read nor do they admit of being read. 
Goethe, it is true, in his speech on the poet's memory, 
passed a very favourable judgment on his writings ; but 
then he was speaking of him as a brother Mason ; not- 
withstanding which the oration will be found in reality 
to contain the elements of concealed reprobation. 

Before proceeding to discuss the second great Triad 
of poets of this era. Herder, Goethe, and Schiller, 

T 3 


we must revert for a moment to another group of 
writers which gathered round Gleim at Halberstadt, 
and which has been called the Halle or Prussian group. 
The walks they pursued are various. Many of them 
wrote Anacreontics, and such like compositions, after 
the manner of Hagedorn, and in turn were imitated by 
Wieland. They also wrote odes of an earnest nature, like 
those of Klopstock ; while in his endeavours after the 
strictly antique form, one of them, at all events, follows 
Lessing. Three of them, Kleist, Gleim, and Eammler, 
have this peculiarity; that' they do not, like Klop- 
stock, sing only the praises of Germany, but of Prussia 
in particular. Their chief idol was Frederick the Great, 
who had the gratitude almost to ignore their existence. 
Some of these poets were students at Halle at the time 
of the memorable contest between Bodmer and Gott- 
sched, and then formed friendships with each other 
which continued all their lives. 

The chief of this group was Johann Wilhelm Lud- 
■wig Gleim, Cathedral Secretary at Halberstadt for 
the space of five and fifty years. During this long 
period he vs^as otf good terms with, nay, affected the 
most enthusiastic friendship for, a number of poets 
utterly dissimilar in character, e. g. Leasing and 
Klopstock, "Wieland and Nicolai, Jacobi and Voss. 
The kind and benevolent way in which he took 
young men of lesser talent by the hand, and helped 
them to struggle out of obscurity, was worthy of all 
credit ; but it likewise gained for his poems a popu- 
larity which they by no means deserve. Never did 
any one get the reputation of a poet on cheaper terms 


than he did. Most of his verses are mere prosy, pitiful 
trifles, devoid of ideas. Now, he apes Petrarch, now 
Anacreon, now the old Minnesingers, in the strangest 
manner possible, without possessing a spark of their 
genius. All these amatory and drinking songs are 
utterly forgotten. 

Still louder were the plaudits showered upon his 
didactic poem, " Halladat." By many it was almost 
looked upon as a sort of new Revelation, though in fact 
it owed its origin to the part Gleim took in his friend 
Boyen's labours on the Koran. Outwardly it has 
much affinity with Klopstock's poetry, but it is really 
all Interjection and vapid description, with no life or 
substance about it. Gleim's war- songs concerning the 
campaigns of 1756 and 1757, which he puts into the 
mouth of a Prussian grenadier, made a great stir at 
the time. They bear the impress of the excitement con- 
sequent upon the great events then occurring, and are 
for this reason far the best things Gleim ever wrote ; 
but after all they are not songs for the people. The 
long descriptions, figurative expressions, mythological 
learning, exclamations, and what not, exclude them 
entirely from this category ; not but what they served 
to fan the flame of Prussian patriotism and warlike 
enthusiasm. Indeed, on the death of Frederick II., 
"the Prussian Grenadier" was presented with the 
deceased king's hat as a memento of his services. 

One of Gleim's oldest and most intimate friends was 
Ewald Christian von Kleist, whose memory he mourned 
all his life long. It was at Gleim's instigation that he 
cultivated his poetic talents, and In so doing showed 

I 4 


himself vastly superior to his master. His matter Is 
more earnest and dignified, his versification more sus- 
tained and measured, than in the loose, prose-like lines 
of Gleim. He is best known by his poem "Der 
Friihling," a fragment of a larger and unfinished, poem, 
" Die Landlust." It is true that there is no one great 
thought pervading this composition ; on the contrary, 
it is a series of pictures succeeding pictures ; but the 
delineations of nature are done with much simplicity, 
and in a truly poetical spirit. It appeared in 1749, 
and the reception it met with was enthusiastic. Nor 
was this undeserved, if we consider that those were 
days when the old conventional formalism, or Gott- 
sched's precise rhymes all about nothing, or Brookes' 
pettifogging nature-painting, were the patterns in 
vogue. After Hagedorn this was the first hearty 
attempt to get out of the closet into the living realities 
of fresh breathing nature outside. It is also a very 
striking characteristic of the tendency of the age to get 
rid of all traditional, all artificial culture, and with- 
drawing into the idyllic retirement of the country, to 
live only in the undisturbed enjoyment of one's own sen- 
sations. In point of metrical form, Kleist's " Friihling " 
is a pendant to the " Messiah," only that he prefixes 
one syllable to the beginning of the Hexameter, e. g. 
Em-pfangt mich kiihlende Schatten, &c. 

Among Kleist's followers were Zacharia, the author 
of " Tageszeiten," which is inferior to the " Friih- 
ling;" and the late idyllic poets, such as Geszner. 
Kleist's other poems are of less mark. Like Gleim he 
was a great Prussian patriot, and therefore he is placed 


here, and not with the elder school of Hagedorn, to 
which he was nearly allied. 

TJz, of Ansbach, was another of this coterie. On the 
one side he imitated the lively Anacareontics of his 
friend Gleim, and indeed excelled him in this species of 
composition. But, on the other side, he wrote serious 
odes after the manner of Klopstoclc, e. g. the Ode to the 
Deity, (" Mit sonnenrotem Angeslchte flieg ich zur 
Gottheit aufj") a style of writing, be it said, vastly 
more in consonance with the earnest and elevated turn 
of his own mind. Albeit, he was rather inclined to the 
older didactic style of poetry, still it must be allowed 
he did a very great deal towards introducing grander 
subjects, nobler and more natural language, and the 
antique measure. 

After the fierce onslaught made upon him by Wie- 
land, who called him and his friends " vermin," he 
wrote very little. He was, however, long a favourite 
of the better part of the German public, and worthily 
so ; for though his light paled before the splendour of 
Klopstock, still it was pure and pleasant to behold. 

Passing over INIiehaelis, who died young, Klamer 
Schmidt, Gotz, Ephraim Kuh, the Jew, who became 
insane, with others of this sort, we come to Johann 
George Jacobi, the elder of the brothers of Pempel- 
pfort. Gleim, who was much his senior, conceived for 
him a romantic friendship, at times verging on the 
absurd. During this period of toying blandishments, 
Jacobi wrote nothing of any value. In his pocket- 
book, the " Iris," however, between 1774 — 1775, he 
proved himself to be a capital song- writer. It is tru§: 


that he harps a good deal on trifles, and on IdyUIo 
repose ; indeed, he never entirely got rid of these tastes 
of the Gleim school. But Gervinus is much too hard 
upon him. Fot instance, if he had never written any- 
thing else but "Die Morgensteme priesen in hohem 
Jubelton," this alone ought to rescue him from obli- 
vion. Then, again, his " Song for Ash "Wednesday," 
his " Litany for All-Souls' Day," his lay of « The 
Mother," are as true, tender, and musical as anything 
of the kind in German. Nor must we omit to mention 
his " Sagt wo sind die Veilchen hin," so much sung forty 
or fifty years ago. 

The next person of this group whom we shall men- 
tion is Anne Louise Karsch. Her history is a remark- 
able one. Although born in humble circumstances, and 
subject all her days to poverty and wretchedness; in 
cold and hunger picking up sticks in the wood ; mal- 
treated by her second husband, a drunken, miserable 
tailor ; still this woman, without any literary culture, 
never lost the poetic faculty of her youth. She would 
write verses upon the Great King quite as good as 
those of Gleim and his choir. At times she really pro- 
duced some poetical ideas of no little merit, but she 
was not able to put them in shape. We may adduce 
the touching poem to her deceased uncle, the instructor 
of her youth, " Kommt heraufgestiegen aus dem Sande 
ilir Gebeine die ihr in dem Lande meiner Tugend eure 
Euhehabt;" also, "Wilhelms Frage bei dem friihen 
Tode seines Bruders.'" In fact, Jacobi's song above 
cited, " Die Morgensterne priesen," was inspired by 
her " Wo war ich als dich Morgensterne lobten." Her 


talents were inherited by her daughter, the Baroness 
Klencke, and her grand-daughter, Madame de Chezy. 

The most important personage in this group Is Carl 
Wilhelm Ramler ; but he may be considered rather as 
a connecting link between it and Lessing, on the one 
hand, and Klopstook on the other. The best of his 
poems, like his friend Gleim's, turn upon Prussian 
patriotism ; the rest of them are empty and unsubstan- 
tial. As a sharp, clear, unsparing critic, he resembles 
Lessing. In ode-wnting, he was the pupil of Klop- 
Btock; but eschewing that poet's extravagances, his 
odes have a finish and precision of form, which make 
them models in their way. Indeed, the whole modern 
art of translation from the antique is due to the fine ear 
and correct perception of Kamler ; and but for him, the 
hexameters of Voss, the trimeters of Solger, and the 
anapEests of Platen would have been impossible. It has 
been remarked that Ramler s imitations of the antique 
betray too often a stiffness and timidity, — that he is 
prone to the artificial pedantry of the Opitz school, and 
too apt to bore the reader with mythological ornament- 
ation. But what is worse still, in his later years, he 
became so given to filing and polishing, that in this 
mechanical operation he either forgot or purposely 
neglected the matter and substance of his poems. In 
this respect he has, with some justice, been compared to 
Gottsched. So great was the confidence his friends 
Lessing and others reposed in his critical acumen, that 
they subjected their poems to his supervision and cor- 
rection. Such a mania for altering and revising seized 
him in consequence, that he slashed and cut whatever 

T 6 


he got hold of in a most merciless manner, without the 
least regard to the style of the writer, so that it is diffi- 
cult to say what Kamler wrote and what the author. 
Among other things, he hit upon the strange fancy of 
converting Geszner's prose idyls into his own rigorous 
verse — an undertaking that brought him into great, 
discredit. He also translated the odes of Horace, a 
work for which at one time no praise was thought too 
great, but which afterwards was pronounced contempt- 
ible by its previous admirers. 

There is a perceptible difference between the trans- 
lations of the fifteen odes which Eamler published in 
1769, and the rest, which are of later date. The former 
are full of the spirit of Horace, with none of that timid 
accuracy so conspicuous in most of the latter. 

This Gleim-Eamler group diverged into two branches ; 
which have continued in a great measure independent of 
the revolution which the poetical world afterwards un- 
derwent. The first of these is represented by Christopher 
August Tiedge (died March 8, 1841). Connected with 
Gleim in early days, his smaller lyric pieces have quite 
the toying playfulness, the insignificance, and. the 
poverty of matter, so characteristic of that writer. In 
form, however, they exhibit somewhat more finish ; but 
upon . examination, this will be found to be little more 
than empty jingle. His didactic poem "Urania" is 
more celebrated. In this he sings of immortality in a 
cloudy dress of sentimental phrase, with the doctrines 
of Kant before his eye, — principles the very opposite of 
everything that is poetical. In those days, when it 
was the fashion to combine dry abstractions and orato- 


rical sentimentalities, the " Urania " made quite a furore 
in certain coteries ; just in the same way as the " Hal- 
ladat" of Gleim, the master of this school, had made a 
great sensation in the same circles forty years before. 

The other branch of this school is Slagemann, but 
lately deceased. His lyrics are like Eamler's in their 
patriotism, their precision of form, and also fii, the 
insignificance of their matter. His songs of liberty 
and those to his wife are deservedly forgotten. 

"We now turn to the second or greater half of the 
New Period. 

Klopstock's deep and genuine enthusiasm ; Lessing's 
sharp, clear criticism ; and last, not least, Wieland's 
reckless exhibition of sensuality, had set all the young 
spirits of Germany in a ferment. The best of them 
had arrived at the conviction that the culture hitherto 
in vogue would no longer do ; that a radical change 
must be wrought in poetry. 

All the poetic forms and materials of the last one 
hundred and fifty years became the object of a vehe- 
ment attack. The rising youth of the day stormed and 
raged against them. Something better they would 
have, something original; not what they had been 
taught and learned. The longing and the struggle to 
get back to the very foundations of human culture and 
human society, indicated, as we have seen, by the 
Deists, by the writers of the Kobinsonades, by Montes- 
quieu and Rousseau, with their novel doctrines about 
government and society ; by Klopstock, with his pri- 
mEBval German heroism j — it was this desire vhich' 


manifested itself, though in another shape, among all 
the greatest spirits of Grermany about the year 1770. 
The impulse was sudden and universal. It was the 
same impulse which in France, twenty-two years later, 
without undergoing that wholesome intellectual pro- 
cess it had gone through in Germany, threw itself with 
wild violence upon every existing institution, and upset 
society, church and state, while straining after an 
impossible ideal. The whole nation was seized by an 
uncontrollable desire to get rid of all its traditional 
culture, to return to a state of aboriginal nature. But 
in Germany the process was an intellectual one, 
thoroughly worked out in the mind of the nation. 
The revolution they wrought was in the domain of 
intellect ; they sighed and sought for a regeneration of 
the poetic gifts and powers of the nation, and this 
object was accomplished. 

The period of this poetic revolution, also called " the 
Storm and Impulse Period," after Klinger's drama, 
"Die Sturm- und Drang-Periode," commenced with 
■the appearance of Herder, in 1707, includes Herder, 
i Basedow, Goethe, Lavater, Lenz, Klinger, Miiller, and 
the Stolbergs, and ended with Schiller, in 1781. How- 
ever different these were in talent and mode of think- 
ing, they all agreed in this, that there was something 
darkly hovering in the depths of their soul, to which 
they longed to give a voice and an existence ; that the 
ideas within them were original, were diametrically 
opposed to anything hitherto known, and owed their 
parentage to them and nobody else. They felt that 
they were born to be the regenerators of the intellectual 


Avorld, to promulgate a new poetical revolution, drawn 
from the primteval poetry of the nations. But these 
were only the aspirations of young poetical geniuses, 
full of power and activity. Hitherto there was no 
fruit, and the crop might 'be blasted by vanity, by 
premature prodigality of their gifts, by the numerous 
other dangers to which these ardent spirits were ex- 
posed. In fact, some of them fell a prey to the way- 
ward eccentricities they indulged in, or were consumed 
in the flickering, unsteady flame of their own genius. 
Still, in spite of all their perverseness, their vagaries, 
their fancies, one and the same watchword served for 
the whole mass. They must recur to popular poetry, 
with Shakspeare and Homer for their models. These 
were the words of power that dissolved now and for 
ever the crumbling fabric of three centuries, "learned 
poetry." Strange as it may sound, it is nevertheless 
literally true, that though Homer had been read and 
re-read, and noted upon, and translated, for three hun- 
dred years, the Germans were essentially ignorant of 
its meaning. It was now that they first entered into 
the spirit of the Greek poet ; and no sooner was this 
done than they at once learned also to comprehend 
their own old national poetry, and thence to appreciate 
the national poetry of the cognate races of Europe. 
The lesson had been a laborious one, but it was at 
leno-th mastered, and its mastery is due to the energetic, 
uneasy spirits of the said Storm and Impulse Period. 

But we must now individualise the writers who 
solved the problem, and proclaimed the solution to 
their countrymen. As poetical producers, Hamann 


and his pupil Herder are comparatively of no great 
account ; their merit is that they spote first, and spoke 
effectually — " This is the way, walk ye in it/' This 
jire know to be true of Hamann, if from nothing else, 
from Goethe's express statement to this effect. 

Hamann urged a return to the simplicity of the 
"most ancient poetry — to the childhood of the peoples, 
and their child-like faith, as the true basis for the reno- 
vation of poetry. He urged it, not with the reasoning 
of a logical understanding, but with the full energy of 
his character. He pointed to the Old Testament as 
containing the elements of the oldest and most perfect 
poetry — as the source of that natural power, that fresh- 
ness and simplicity necessary for the production of 
grand poetry. Poetry he showed to be an unsearch- 
able mystery, not a business of the market-place, a 
mechanical craft to be plied in public. He it was who 
first became conscious, and taught others the same, that 
everything great in this world is not effected by the un- 
derstanding, or by the sensations, or by prudence, but 
by the whole heart and soul and body — all the human 
powers working in unison. He did not arrive at this 
conclusion from investigation, but by instinct, by his 
own immediate conviction. It was part and parcel of 
his natural character. He was branded, in conse- 
quence, by the spokesmen of the day as an abstruse 
dreamer, and even Gervinus has joined in the cry 
against him. Doubtless, many defects may be dis- 
covered in his style. It is anything but beautiful 
— full of sibylline senteaces, incomprehensible allu- 
sions, obscure expressions, sudden jumps. But, as 


aforesaid, we do not profess to weigh his merits as a 
poet, but only as one who animated his contemporaries 
to better things. 

In the same manner we must look upon Johann 
Gottfried Herder, not in the light of a creator, but of 
a pioneer in a better path, as one who awakened the 
national consciousness, elevated the people's aspirations. 
In this, his influence was incalculable. His was the 
innate faculty, fostered in a great measure by the 
study of Shakspeare and Homer, of throwing himself 
into the noblest parts of the inner life of all nations ; 
of bringing these foreign elements home to the heart 
of others. He was a universalist in the highest sense. 
If the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries had tried to 
comprehend the Greeks and the Eomans, if the next 
succeeding period had endeavoured to appreciate and 
import from France and the Netherlands, from Italy 
and England, it was in Herder that these endeavours 
first saw their end and accomplishment. Nay he went 
much further. It was from him and him only, that 
Germany learned to study and comprehend all the other 
nations of the earth, the Arab, the Persian, the Hindu, 
the Malay, the Chinese, the red men of America, with 
their language, their genius, their customs and poetry, 
their love and hate, to sympathise with their secret joys 
and sorrows. He it was who paved the way to an 
historical and comparative study of language. 

This universalism of Herder's stamped its classic 
character on the literature of this period, clothing the 
best materials in the noblest and most appropriate 
forms. He finished what Klopstock and Lessing 


began ; wedded the genius of Germany to the genius 
of foreign nations ; took foreign matter and clothed 
it in German forms, and vice versa. 

In 1767 appeared his "Fragmenten zur deutschen 
Literatur," and in 1768 his " Kritische Walder." In 
this last publication he first disclosed the essence of 
Homer, and made it comprehensible to his countrymen. 
Being a clergyman, he next turned to a study which 
must have been congenial to him, that of the poetry 
of Revelation, and brought out his " Aelteste Urkunde 
des Mensohengeschlechts," a subject which he pursued 
in several other treatises, e. g. in his " Vom Geiste der 
Ebraischen Poesie." In these he regards the Old 
Testament as a sublime and original creation, chiefly, 
however, of the human mind. From that time forward, 
at all events, the old notion was exploded, — the notion 
inculcated by the English and French deists, — that the 
Old Testament was a mass of tasteless fables, the 
product of a rude, undeveloped race of men. One 
injurious consequence, however, of Herder's view was, 
that the maxim came into vogue of measuring Revela- 
tion according to the world, instead of the world 
according to Revelation. 

Another important work of Herder's is his " Von 
deutscher Art und Kunst." Here he restores the 
oldest national songs to their poetic rights as the 
source and standard of all poetry, and vindicates them 
from the aspersions that had been thrown upon them. 
As the nation had before learnt what an epos was from 
his disquisitions on Homer, so from these disquisitions 
they first were able to comprehend the nature of lyric 


popular poetry as opposed to the poetry of art. The 
ideas he here broached were further taken up and 
more accurately defined and developed by the brothers 
Grimm, and the Romantic school. , 

But Herder was something more than a literary 
reformer. He also exercised a healing influence on 
society. By restoring the people's poetry to its legiti- 
mate place, he raised the condition of the people also. 
The common man could not now be looked down upon 
as one of the rude, stupid rabble. It was impossible, 
henceforth, for the higher classes to claim poetry and 
letters as their exclusive privilege. The intellectual 
life of the masses asserted for itself a due share of 
importance. And this put an effectual check on, the 
mock enlightenment of the day, which thought the best 
thing for the people was to rob them of every natural 
characteristic, all their intellectual inheritance, and 
stuff them with the odds and ends of a spurious culture. 
No wonder, then, that Herder was hated alike by the 
old intellectual oligarchies and by the new and shallow 
illuminati. Schlozer said "he was one of that new 
race of theologians, those gallant, witty gentlemen, 
who are equally fond of dogmas and street ballads." 
Nicolai also attacked him in "Kleyner feyner Al- 
manach von Volksliedern." This elicited, in 1788, 
Herder's " Stimmen der Volker in Liedern ;" a collec- 
tion of ballads of all nations ; most of which, however, 
had undergone a good deal of transformation in his 
hands ; the German ones the least. He had conceived 
the idea of such a work as far back as 1773. It was 
the first collection of the kuid ; although some popular 


songs had appeared separately in Jacobi's " Iris," and 
other publications. 

With no less eagerness Herder turned his attention 
to legendary lore and its delicate creations, so long 
sealed up to the people. His observations on this 
species of literature, and the valuable light thrown by 
it on the customs of past times, are excellent. As an 
original poet, Herder does not shine. His best poetical 
compositions are imitations and translations of popular 
songs. In these, however, we discover that wonderful 
power he possessed, of throwing his own spirit into 
foreign creations, of adapting his own mind and lan- 
guage to the thoughts and sensations of others. Next 
to these stand his legends ; the defect of which is that 
they are too didactic. His last work was a version of 
the " Cid " which did not appear till after his decease. 
It cannot be denied that in these Spanish romances, he 
has omitted some of the best parts. Occasionally, too, 
he has departed from the spirit of the original, and 
given his version a softness not to be found in his 
Spanish prototype, and incompatible with the old heroic 
poem. Still there is evidence enough that he was a 
poetical genius of a high order ; and his " Cid " must 
always rank among the best poetic creations of Ger- 

His other imitations and translations, e. g. the Greek 
Epigrams, the Odes of Horace, and of more recent 
Latin poets, the tales from the Greek mythology, all 
exemplify his uncommon aptness for accommodating 
himself to the minds of others without forfeiting his 
own individuality ; while at the same time they have 


not the flexibility and ease of the popular songa, nor 
the music of the « Cid." 

As for his entirely original poems, e. g. the secular 
lyrics, one can hardly imagine they are written by the 
same Herder ; they are so dogmatical, dry, and insipid. 
His Christian and Church hymnS are equally infelici- 
tous. We can understand why Klopstock failed to 
catch the popular tone of the true church hymn. He 
did not live among the people, but in the transcendental 
atmosphere of his own exclusive sensations. But this 
was not the case with Herder. He it was that had 
first awakened the attention of his countrymen to 
popular life and its claims. The only way therefore to 
explain the artificiality, the design, and esoteric nature, 
so to say, of his church hymns is, by saying that the 
sense for what was popular was only just awaking, and 
it was not to be expected that all the popular elements 
of poetry should at once be conceived and thoroughly 

His prose, especially that of his earlier works, re- 
sembles Lessing's. In his " Kritische Walder " he 
evidently imitates him. There is the same flexibility, 
the same endeavour, and with no less success, to be 
dialectical ; but he wants the classic repose and trans- 
parency of Lessing. Some of his works are in dithy- 
rambic vein ; high-flown and Klopstockian, e. g. " Die 
alteste Urkunde des Menschengeschlechts ;" and in a 
less degree, the treatise on the " Spirit of Hebrew Poe- 
try," and the " Philosophy of the History of Mankind." 

His best prose is unquestionably that written in 
imitation of Lessing ; but there is not that enduring 


interest in it that belongs to the prose of Lessing. The 
reason is, that there is a something spasmodic and un- 
equal in Herder, very different from the calmness of 
Lessing. With a tinge of Hamann's whimsicality, 
which in Herder becomes humour, he is at one moment 
off to the remotest regions of his universal knowledge, 
and in the next back to the narrow limits of his own 
individuality — ^letting us see the grand whole, which 
he has to show us, only through the prism of his own 
thoughts, sensations, and feelings. Again, he is full of 
fits and starts, scintillations and flashes — a conceit 
which has been much affected by the later German 
humorists, of whom, in fact, he may be called the in- 
tellectual father. With Herder's scientific activity — 
his relation to the philosophy of Kant — his theological 
correspondence, which was of much importance when 
he wrote it — with his historical works, e. g. " Ideen zur 
Philosophic der Geschichte der Menscheit," his most 
celebrated work, but which has been long superseded — 
we have no concern here, any more than with the 
minutiffi of his life. Suffice it to say that he could 
agree with nobody but Wieland. He was accused of 
priestly pride, of arrogance, censoriousness, and hyper- 
criticism. But, whatever his faults, this much at least 
is true, that he was the Atlas of the new poetical world 
of Germany.* 

* Herder -was torn August 25th, 1744, at Morungen, in East Prussia, 
in indigent circumstances. The difficulties he had to contend with in 
raising himself to independence were even greater than those encoun- 
tered by Klopstock and Lessing ; and the struggle accounts for many 
peculiarities of his character. In 1765 he became teacher at the Cathe- 
dral School at Kiga. Subsequently he travelled, part of the time, as 



There was no one upon whom Herder exercised a 
greater influence than Johann Wolfgang Goethe. It 
will be impossible, however, in a work like this, to give 
a complete history of this greatest of tbe^moaerii Ger- 
man poets. Indeed, the time has not yet come for 
forming a thorough and complete estimate of his cha- 
racter and writings. The reader must be content with 
some hasty outlines instead of an elaborate picture. 
Goethe's first poetical period precedes the year 1775, 
when he became attached to the Court of Weimar, and 
corresponds exactly with the " Storm and Impulse 

Goethe himself has related how, when he was resid- 
ing at Strasburg, he was drawn by Herder, his senior 
only by five years, but greatly his superior in point of 
sureness and clearness of views and in knowledge, 
into the intellectual struggle then raging among the 
young and ardent spirits of the day. Goethe was 
the very poet that Herder had imagined, but could not 
himself embody — the genius who, by the force of his 
own natural powers, went to life and the realities of the 
world around for the matter of his inspiration, mould- 
ing these into poetical shape — who spoke to the heart 
from the heart, and uttered what was to be in every- 
body's mouth. He threw off the trammels with which 

companion to a Prince of Holstern. From 1770 to 1775 he was Court 
Preacher at Biickeburg j from 1776, Court Preacher and General Super- 
intendent at "Weimar, where he died, 18th December, 1803. The last 
collective edition of his -works is Cotta's, 1827-1830, in 60 volumes. 


his predecessors in poetry were bound — its rules of art, 
its traditional models: The genius of reality was 
henceforward to be in the ascendant. Even Klopstock, 
as we have seen, was mastered by his material. It was 
reserved for the resolution and energy of the young 
Goethe to show how the poet could master his matter. 
What he sang he had felt and experienced ; it was his 
own heart's property. Unlike the matter of contem- 
porary poems, the matter of his was pure, and sound, 
and tranquil, bearing none of the impress of individual 
circumstances — of the uneasy fretfulness of the moment, 
of passion and inward struggle. His truth and warmth 
of feeling, together with that clear, profound calm of 
soul — the free and unfettered movement of his poetry — 
tlie great facility with which he suffers himself to be 
absorbed by the topic, or absorbs it into himself, alter- 
nately objective and subjective, at will — all this was 
natural to Goethe, and goes to form the elements of his 
poetical greatness. The other poets of his time, not 
excepting Klopstock, tried to be something; Goethe 
was what he was without effort. His earliest lyric pro- 
ductions are so true, so warm, so hearty and touching ; 
they betoken such inward certainty and firmness, that 
nothing but the old Volkslled can be compared with 
them. The latter, doubtless, to some extent served as 
his model of imitation, e. g. in his " Heiden-roslein," 
" Der Konig in Thule," " Das Lied eines gefangenen 
Grafen," &c. We will only further mention his 
"Gliick und Traum," " Stirbt der Fuchs so gilt der 
Balg," " Sehnsucht," " Nachtgesang," the poems to 
Lilli or Belinde, the " Trost in Thranen," the last of 


which is one of the best lyrics in any language. All 
these poems relate his own experiences, his own love- 
stories, yet there is no unruly passion in them — no 
troubled fermentation of feeling struggling vainly for 
expression, or, if it hits on the right expression, only 
doing so by chance. The fermentation is over; we 
have nought but the golden wine, sparkling and fra- 
grant. No cries of passion or disquiet break in to 
disturb the melodious sounds, which, like happy spirits, 
hover lightly over the tumult and the troubles of the 

In all these poems we trace a heartfelt feeling for 
nature. The various seasons, with their blossoms and 
their falling leaves, their heats and their storms, are 
here. They form, however, not the fore-ground, but 
the back-ground of the picture. There is no excessive 
scene-painting. There is not a line in the poem where 
we don't feel the life and the truth of nature without 
her being obtruded upon us in due form, and described 
in full. The feelings, too, are not shadowy and un- 
steady, based upon nothing, — not mere fleeting pa- 
roxysms ; they appear with firm outline, in clear and 
delicate colours. The action, moreover, is true, and in 
the most natural sequence. This sublime repose, this 
plastic grandeur, is most conspicuous in those pieces 
which are inspired from a keen perception of the 
antique mythus, e, g. in " Grenzen der Menschheit," 
" Prometheus," " Gesang der Gfiister Uber den "Was- 
sern," " An Schwager Kronos," " Ganymed," &c. 

What has been said of Goethe's early lyrics applies, 
some of it even with greater force, to his " Gotz von 



Berllehingeiij " and the "Leiden Werthers." Tte 
former rose out of the intimate acquaintance which 
he made with Shakspeare's works at the instance of 
Herder. The matter of this drama is derived from an 
early period of German popular life, and the whole is 
shaped in the Shakspearian spirit, but with none of 
the slavish imitation so common then and since. Per- 
haps there is no other work of Groethe's that so well ex- 
emplij&es his power of living over again the time that is 
past, of absorbing himself entirely into the subject. It 
was quite by chance that he had taken up the book of 
the Franconian knight, which, of all the literary pro- 
ducts of the sixteenth century is one of the most dull 
and unreadable ; and with his extraordinary power of 
assimilation, he managed to take in the life and spirit 
of those days, and out of the whole evolve a drama, 
which, for historic truth, poetic freshness, for its popular 
touches and delicacy, nowhere finds a parallel. We 
are here transplanted, as if by magic, into the very 
life, the ideas, the circumstances of those days. The 
obscure Franconian knight assumes, in our eyes, a 
shape and proportions pretty nearly such as those with 
which the people of the twelfth and thirteenth century 
invested the popular hero, Duke Ernest. It was no 
ideal of ancient days that Groethe sought to place 
before his readers ; but real flesh and blood people just 
as they were, with their earnestness and folly, their 
love and hatred. The actors in the great national 
movement of the sixteenth century rise up before us, 
and show us of what stuff they were made. They don't 
think, and feel, and talk, but act. And that is the 


reason why the Germans, in reading " Gotz," could 
almost fancy they were reading a bit of their own youth- 
ful history. In Gotz, and those around him, they could 
recognise themselves and their dear old forefathers ; 
and rejoiced in their presence just as the people of 
earlier centuries rejoiced in the presence of the old 
kings and heroes of the popular epic. Such a work as 
this is truer than all historical expositions. Indeed, it 
is not too much to affirm, that whatever real know- 
ledge the public acquired of the sixteenth century, they 
got from "Gotz von Berlichingen." In the selection of 
the hero of his piece Goethe evinced consummate tact. 
He is not one of the leading persons of the days of the 
Reformation. A far greater effect is produced by 
keeping those historical personages in the back-ground. 

Again, the matter of the piece bears a strong affinity 
to the state of Germany at the time when it was 
written. There the sturdy barons and chivalry of the 
empire are engaged in a stout conflict with the new 
political order of things and its modern innovations. 
Here Goethe and the original geniuses of the day were 
fighting the battle of progress against the cramped and 
bigoted tradition^of an antiquated culture. 

This is the only thing " revolutionary " about the 
work ; an epithet with which it has been unjustly 
stigmatised by Gervinus and others. 

The sole point in the piece worthy of reprehension 
isj that Goethe assigns an undue prominence — a little 
too much after the modern taste — to Adelheit. In the 
original sketch of the play this fault was even more 
conspicuous. The conclusion of the piece and death of 

V 2 


Gotz are likewise open to criticism. No wonder that 
this play, gushing, as it did, from the wells of fervid pa- 
triotism, excited the ire of the Frenchified Frederick II., 
who pronounced it an "imitation detestable des mau- 
vaises pieces anglaises," and full of d^goiitantes plati- 
tudes. Indeed, those who admired it mistook its 
purport ; for it stimulated the taste for wretched plays 
and romances of chivalry. 

One year later, and in the twenty-fifth year of his 
age, Goethe wrote his " Werther." The matter of this 
work is open to grave poetical objections. It describes 
the sentimentality of the day, which had been stimu- 
lated by the writings of Klopstock, and still more by 
" Ossian," then so fashionable in Germany. It describes 
the malady of the day, but not the cure. Goethe, as he 
himself informs us, was avictim to this disease, which con- 
sists in a complete prostration of the moral and physical 
faculties, in a painfully passive state ; during which the 
sufierer is the sport of all sorts of whims, humours, 
fancies, and feelings. Nay, these are his very meat 
and drink ; he luxuriates in tears. So exquisitely sen- 
sitive is he, that the least contact with the external 
world is death to him. He shrinks from his fellow- 
men and tbeir affairs, as the disturbers of his inward 
world with its sweet sensations and dreams. Inanimate 
nature, on the other hand, is his consuming passion. 
The dumb animals, too, how intensely he loves them • 
they are his only true friends ; they will sympathise, 
but not meddle, with his heart's bitterness and joy. 
Life, alas ! has no charms, no hopes, for him ; he longs 
for death, and die he does. This malady — which was 


the inevitable conclusion of that passion for a primitive 
state of nature^ and that antipathy for all the traditions 
of civilisation, action, knowledge, and belief — prevailed 
in Germany from the year 1765 till about the time of 
the French Eevolution, and swallowed up some of the 
best of the nation's powers, physical and intellectual. 
Among several grades of society it continued till the 
time of the war of freedom, when Germany at last got 
rid of It. As aforesaid, Goethe caught the infection, 
but his sound and vigorous mind at last triumphed 
over the complaint, and the fruit of this victory is 
" Werther/' With the completion of the work, so he 
himself tells us, he entirely recovered. This is the key, 
then, to that most lively and truthful description of the 
youth living for himself and in himself: with his in- 
tense passion for nature, his melancholy, his intellectual 
coma, his self-tormentings, his waverings between 
resisting and giving way to his morbid feelings, his 
final despondency and deatL The poet experienced all 
this, except the last. But we must not look on this book 
as merely sentimentality in the rough, with its wild 
mass of distracting feelings, its excruciating discontents 
and despondency. It is the poetry of the thing that 
we have before us. Goethe has come out of the fierce 
ordeal ; from his distant eminence the poet calmly 
surveys the scene, and from his individual experiences, 
he generalises into universal truths, feelings felt by all. 
But the world did not look upon the work from this 
poetical, and, indeed, only admissible, point of view. 
They regarded " Werther " as an apology for senti- 
mentality, an apology for suicide ; and, consequently, 

n 3 


it promoted the very disease it was meant to cure : 
the disease of which Goethe had cured himself. The 
" Werther-fever " became an epidemic. Lotte and 
Werther, in print and portrait, were disseminated 
all over Germany ; nay, throughout Europe ; even as 
far as China. Every syllable of the tale was believed 
to be true, and so everybody tried to fix the characters 
on some real individuals. Those who lived in the 
neighbourhood of L"t)tte's abode were aware of the in- 
tense interest and curiosity felt for her. English 
travellers even now visit a mound of earth, called 
" Werther 's grave," which has been heaped up by a 
speculative innkeeper at Wetzlar. 

Of Goethe's other juvenile productions, his " Laune 
des Verliebten," and his " Mitschuldigen," are mere 
studies, interesting only as contributions to the history 
of his mind. They belong to the old school, not to the 
new Goethe; but they exemplify his peculiarity of 
ridding himself of the unpleasant influence of actual 
life by means of poetic shapes. 

" Clavigo " is a great descent from " Gotz,'' — Merk 
coarsely stigmatised it as " ein Quark" (trifle); — and 
" Stella" from « Werther." 

His " Pater Brey " is a capital satire on that class of 
men who "make hill and valley all alike, and smear 
everything over with lime and gypsum ; " those egotis- 
tic levellers who are always meddling ; and without the 
faintest notion of the meaning of things, desire to 
square them according to their own standard. This 
class of individuals Is again sketched in Mittler, a 
character in the " Wahlverwandtschaften." 


One could hardly believe that this piece, " Pater 
Broy," so sharply and smootlily written, was originally 
a purely personal satire on Leuchsenring, the Jesuit- 
hunter; Merk is the Grocer, and Balandrino and 
Leonore, Herder and his bride. 

In like manner, the " Satyros" is an almost pro- 
phetical sketch of the revolutionary propagandists and 
professing regenerators of the age, though it probably, 
in the first instance, is a hit at Basedow. So the 
" Jahrmarkt zu Plundersweilen" is a lively picture of 
the naiTow-mindedness of a small market-town. The 
satire on D. Bahrdt of Giessen, and his modernisation 
of Christianity, is famous ; as also that on Wieland's 
pitiful description of Greek heroes in the " Alceste." 
All these pieces are in Hans Sachs'es form, and show 
what a poetical genius can effect even with obsolete 
forms. By tliese imitations, and the excellent poem, 
" Hans Saclisens poetische Sendung," he brought the 
worthy old poet into notice. Some fragments of simi- 
lar pieces of his have lately been published. Of all the 
poetical schemes of this period, none were ever realised 
but " Faust^" whicli stuck by him for sixty years. 
Guided by a true instinct, he relinquished his " Pro- 
metl\eus," " Mahomet," and the " Wandering Jew." 

On commencing his residence and official duties at 
Weimar, Gt)ethe's poetic progress became impeded. 
For neai'ly ten years he published notliing of note. 
Many people imagined then, and do so now, that this 
life of business and tlie court stunted and nipped the 
fresh sprouts of his genius, thus disappointing the hopes 
raised by his eai-ly productions. But the practical ac- 


tivity of actual life was an indispensable necessity of 
his existence ; and while thus occupied, he was bracing 
himself for new efforts. This much, however, is true, 
that by his intercourse with the Court of Weimar he 
ceased to be a popular poet. It is also true that, for a 
continuance, the place did not afford him enough scope 
for intellectual activity, or material for poetry. Im- 
pressed with this conviction, he tore himself from it, 
and took his journey to Italy, in order, by enlarging 
his sphere of observation, and by studying the treasures 
of plastic art, to give more precision to his hand in mass 
and form, and a wider scope to his thoughts. It may 
be that he had other reasons for this journey ; but, at 
all events, it had the very best effects on him as a poet. 

His Italian journey brought about the completion of 
his « Iphigenie," « Egmont," « Tasso," « Claudine," 
and " Faust" — the latter still as a fragment, but a 
fragment that embraced a world. 

The first sketch of the " Iphigenie," which has been 
recently published among his works, was in prose. In 
Italy he metamorphosed it into iambics of five feet. In 
this drama he solves the problem of that day — how to 
embody in a German form the spirit of antiquity, — 
how to amalgamate them, so that they suit exactly the 
one to the other. The deep, majestic repose of the 
dramatis ■persona, in spite of all their Inward emotions, 
the grand simplicity of the action and the language, 
the pellucidness of the whole — all this is in the tho- 
roughly antique spirit ; it is not an imitation, however, 
but a reproduction. At the .same time there Is a slmpli- 
<;ity and sincerity {Geist der Innigheii) about the whole, 


and a gentle breath of peace (e. g. at the conclusion), 
that are essentially German. Of real action there is 
little. This defect, in fact, has often been imputed to 
the German drama. But here, to use Schiller's words, 
we have thought in action; so that this very defect 
may stand not only as a warning, but a model of imita- 
tion, — first, to those who think the essence of the 
drama consists in a hurried succession of incidents, in 
action heaped upon action ; and secondly, to those who, 
neglecting action, run riot in rhetorical exposition. 
Here they both can learn, as Schiller says, " to make 
thought, action," (Gesinnung zur Handlung machen.) 
For the rest, it may be observed that " Iphigenie" is 
no national drama like " Gotz ;" but this is only a 
proof of the versatility of the poet's powers. 

" Tasso," which was also originally in prose, and was 
converted into a poetic shape under a southern sky, 
lies open, in a still greater degree, to the objection of 
want of action. But this is in some measure com- 
pensated by the exceeding delicacy and clearness, 
the firmness and precision with which the characters 
are drawn. The dialogue at the beginning of the piece 
between the Princess and Eleonore, with its delicate 
adumbrations, which almost look undesigned, of the 
whole course of the drama, is a great artistic treat. 
The initiated will discover something more than meets 
the eye. The man who can, from a feature or a word, 
unriddle a character and draw auguries of its future 
conflict with the world, has something here to muse 
upon with delight. Hardly any work is more calcu-' 
lated to put one out of conceit with common-place 


romances than " Tasso." One may return to It again 
and again. In one respect It resembles "Werther." 
It describes the poet's own experiences, — his own cir- 
cumstances ; but here he has emancipated himself from 
them, and they assume a clear and independent shape. 

" Egmont " did not, like " Iphlgenie " and " Tasso," 
first pass through the alembic of prose. There are ine- 
qualities in it, and a perceptible lack of completeness and 
finish, e. g. in the condemnation and execution scenes. 
It may be pronounced more a series of studies than one 
complete work of art. There Is not enough tragical 
grandeur about the hero. Schiller says the historic 
hero was greater than the dramatic one. The cream 
of the piece are the favourite scenes with Clarchen, 
which are the oldest, and are also derived from the 
poet's personal experiences. 

In 1831, Goethe finished his sixty-five years' poetical 
career, by producing that long-nourished conception of 
his, " Faust." As early as 1773 it was written down 
much the same in matter as when it, " as a frag- 
ment," appeared in 1790, although the critical knife 
and file had been vigorously used to his earlier designs 
of It. Little was added to the matter of it after his 
Italian journey. The most important addition is the 
" Hexenkuche," written at Rome in the Garden Bor- 
ghese. But in the year 1808 " Faust" appeared as a 
tragedy. In this edition he has added Faust's soli- 
loquy, which is followed by the Easter scene, the first 
conversation and agreement between Faust and Me- 
phistopheles, the death of Valentin, and lastly, aU that 
now stands in the piece, from the Walpurgis night to 


the end. The fragment of 1790 ended with the scene 
in the Minster. The idea lying at the bottom of this 
saga of Dr. Faust of the sixteenth century is a highly 
poetical one. It is the inextinguishable thirst of man 
for a degree of knowledge surpassing all the lengths 
and depths of human understanding; the straining after 
powers and enjoyments which he must be content to 
dispense with in this prison of flesh. Even in the old 
saga we have the Titanic nature of man rising out of 
the dark profound, storming upwards to the very gates 
of Heaven, and perishing fearfully in the attempt. It 
is, in fact, the Psychological side of the old fable of 
the " Titans." 

The period when Goethe composed " Faust " la- 
boured under similar symptoms. Men yearned to know 
what had never yet come within the sphere of human 
knowledge ; to penetrate even into the supernatural, 
exactly as in the days of the historical " Faust." They 
were sick of traditional science and " grey theory ;" 
they strove to clutch the golden fruit on the green tree 
of life. Independent inquiry ; nothing else would 
satisfy them; they sought for something, they knew 
not what ; they wandered restlessly onward without a 
guide, and not knowing whither they went ; with no 
clear or certain aim they rushed into the infinite ; the 
calm satisfaction of fruition had no charms for them ; 
in the wanton exuberance of youthful strength they 
would take nothing for granted ; they would acknow- 
ledge nothing that they had not felt and done, and 
experienced themselves. Such was the spirit of the 
days on which Goethe had fallen, and it is reflected in 

u 6 


" Faust." We must not, however, look at this drama 
from this historic point of view only ; otherwise it is a 
mere picture of that particular time. But it is more 
than this; it is a picture of the world. Into this cate- 
gory the poet exalted it from the very first. It became 
still more so by the addition of the "Prologue in 
Heaven," and most of all by the very latest additions 
above mentioned. In the second part, however, it sinks 
from the grandeur of an universal world-picture Into the 
narrower confines of a picture of the time, 

Faust represents not an individual, but man ; man 
in the independent exercise of his powers, endea^ 
vouring in the energy of his soul and his will to trans- 
cend " the flaming bounds of time and space," to take 
the universe by storm ; man, too, in all the contra- 
dictions of his nature, in his power and weakness, in 
his certainty and doubt. In truth and error, knowledge 
and ignorance. , 

Faust will not rest till he has sounded all the 
depths and recesses of hidden wisdom, till he has col- 
lected all the knowledge that mankind has been gar- 
nering up these thousands of years ; and lo, he has got 
what he lusted for ; and what is it after all ? He has 
the picture, but not the reality ; not living nature, but 
dust and ashes, the skeleton of dead knowledge ; not 
such wisdom as has bubbled up from the fresh fountain 
of life, and which in its turn spreads abroad rills of 
living water to refresh the plains of his own existence. 

To know is not to do, it is not enjoyment ; then and . 
then only can his desires be satisfied when his know- 
ledge becomes deed, and every deed enjoyment. In- 


deed, he cannot know anything really till he has tried 
it, and experienced it himself. And, therefore, since 
he has tried life, and it brings him no satisfaction, he 
will try death, and that by his own hand. At this 
moment, when he is on the point of taking the final 
step, the clear tones of the Easter hymn sound in his 
ears, " Christ has risen ! " At that sound his heart is 
again restored to unity with itself, as in the days of his 
boyhood. He can again enjoy the cheerful simplicity 
of that existence, with its days of work and of merry- 
making, when he lived contented in his burgher home. 
But he is again invaded by new doubts. Those simple 
enjoyments now pall upon his sense. He can no longer 
lay hold on those great words of Revelation which but 
now brought comfort to his soul. After that brief ele- 
vation he falls all the deeper. He is drawn into the circle 
of sensual pleasures ; he will drink deep of insatiable 
delights ; his capacity for enjoyment shall have no limit. 
He has done with knowledge ; he will experience, not 
only joy, properly so called, but bitter delight and 
sweet despair; in his simple self he will enjoy every- 
thing that falls to the lot of universal humanity. And 
so he plunges into the whirlpool of most complete en- 
joyment, as aforetime he had plunged into the stream 
of knowledge, that he may taste of all human joy and 
all human woe, and be himself all in all. And so he 
soars up to the highest summits of human pleasure 
(Gretchen), and down to its foulest abysses (Journey 
to the Brocken and Walpurgis night) ; destroys his own 
enjoyment, destroys the enjoyment and the life of others, 
and would like to come to a stand-still in his joys and 


griefs, but dare not, cannot. The true-hearted maiden 
is devoted to one joy, one grief only ; but Faust has no 
heart for that; he must on to others, — must make 
the whole round. Well may she exclaim, in hollow 
tones, " Henry, you make me shudder ! " Gretchen will 
go no further ; she halts in the midst of her immea- 
surable woe, and therefore she is " saved ;" but Faust 
is borne onward. " Hither to me I " is the last cry of 
the Demon. 

While in the first part of " Faust," the symbolical 
and typical figures embrace a world ; in the second, 
the robe of allegory is far too thin and scanty. There 
is also much that is enigmatical in it, which it is vain to 
seek to unriddle ; indeed, it is perhaps not at all worth 
the while to attempt to do so. 

In " Hermann and Dorothea," Goethe has most ad- 
mirably solved the difficult problem of the possibility, 
of constructing a " Burgher Epic," a poem that is, 
which, in the purest epic style, recounts the transac- 
tions of domestic middle-class life of the present day. 

As in the genuine epic, the poet's own personality 
is here kept entirely out of sight. He discards aU rhe- 
toric as a means of working upon the feelings. He 
uses description merely as the framework, employing 
the action alone in its full purity and simplicity to 
produce the effect required. At the same time, with 
true epic tact, he permits us to have occasional glimpses 
at a back-ground of great events ; and, in this respect, 
the poem differ from Voss's idyl, " Luise," from which 
he took the first idea. Some, who looked upon "Luise" 
as the beau ideal of domestic life-painting, have pro- 


nounced the " Hermann and Dorothea " an unworthy 
imitation of it. This poem was composed by Goethe 
at a time when he was in most lively intercourse with 
Schiller, an intimacy by which, as he himself affirms, 
he was stimulated and encouraged to further production. 
But Schiller exercised no direct influence upon the com- 
position. Indeed, in this poem, Goethe adhered to his 
old rule of never taking anybody into his confidence, 
about what he had in hand, until it was completed. 

Not so in the case of " Wilhelm Meister," which 
was the result of a long discussion between him and 
Schiller, during which he made many alterations in the 
original plan. The first six books were written as 
early as 1785, before the poet's journey to Italy; but 
it was not completed till just before he began " Her- 
mann and Dorothea." It has been allowed on all 
sides, that this work is very unequal ; and the begin- 
ning and ending in no respect tally. There are here 
many true and lively pictures of life, the result of the 
author's own experience, and there is no little epic 
freedom about it. But there is also in it a good deal of 
unpoetic reality, not to say much that is revolting to the 
moral sense. But the reader puts up with this in the 
expectation of finally arriving at the truth, that a man 
cannot become a great artist from the world around 
him, unless he be born an artist ; unless he can, through 
this innate power, draw the world outside into himself, 
assimilate it, and spiritually reproduce it. But instead 
of this, the action is dissolved in a cloud of mystery 
and dogmatising; or, in plain English, the magnilo- 
quent promises of the commencement end in smoke. 


The " Wahlverwandtschaften " (Elective Affinities) 
surpasses " Wilhelm Meister " in artistic finish. Like 
" Werther," which was written thirty-six years earlier, 
it describes a psychological disease of the modern 
world ; but without suggesting, or even wishing to 
suggest, any remedy. Nay, strangely enough, sub- 
mission to duty is here disease, and yielding to the 
sensations, health ! The very title of the work, which 
applies a chemical principle to the moral world, an- 
nounces a description of the way in which the higher 
will of human nature is bound to the lower powers of 
nature. The immoral tendency of this work is appa- 
rent. But it has this one merit : it gives a true history 
of an inward malady, without any gloss or conceal- 
ment. The poison is plain to see, its deadly effects 
are apparent, but it is not permitted to come nigh us. 
It is secured in a crystal flask of matcliless workman- 
ship, made by the poet's own hand. The description, 
in fact, has been executed with consummate skill. The 
characters are like so many statues, so clearly are they 
outlined. The circumstances are drawn with delicacy 
and precision. The contrast between internal disquiet 
and the peacefulness of external nature is most cleverly 

Goethe's biographies, which he commenced soon 
after the "Wahlverwandtschaften," and continued to his 
death, have all the excellencies and none of the faults 
of that work. There is no gloomy struggle here of 
antagonistic principles ; we have before us a life sound 
to the core. In "Wahrheit and Dichtung" ("Truth 
and Fiction"), as well as in the " Italian Journey " and 


the " Campaign in France," there is nothing fictitious 
or strained. The clear pellucid stream roUs onward, — 
now and then receiving a turbid brook mayhap, which 
it soon clarifies, and reflecting all the varieties of 
landscape through which it passes. Ever and anon 
we hear a hollow sound, betokening that it is passing 
through some rocky defile ; but before long it has 
issued forth again, and a light eddy or circle of foam 
dancing gaily onward, is the only evidence of the 
struggle that has been encountered in the depths 
below. There is assuredly not a line In this work 
that is merely imaginative. The term "Dichtung," 
rather arises from the fact that the author has omitted 
many minor details, e.g. in reference to the real 
names and circumstances of his Gretchen, Frlederike, 
and Lilli, which after all were best omitted.* 

* The interest felt by the public for Goethe -went into ridiculous 
extremes. It was considered a great gain by some to have discovered 
that his great-grandfather was a shoe-smith, and his grandfather a tailor, 
and afterwards landlord of the " Weidenhof," at !Frankfort. The least 
inkling about his love affairs was an object of ardent pursuit. Gretchen 
was the daughter of an innkeeper, at the sign of the " Rose," in Offen- 
bach, according to Bettina, who had it from the " Frau Bath." Frlede- 
rike was Priederike Brion, of Sesenheim ; died November, 1813, at 
Meissenheim, in Baden. LUli was Elizabeth Schonemann, afterwards 
married to Von Turkheim. See the unpleasant gossip in Nake, " Wall- 
fahrt nach Sesenheim," 1840 ; Pfeiffer, " Goethe's Friederike," 1841 ; 
A. Stober, "Der Dichter Lenz und Friederike von Sesenheim," 1842. 
These books indicate about the same amount of good sense as do the 
people who go staring at Goethe's house, in the Hirschgraben, at Frank- 
fort, although it is now entirely modernised, instead of visiting those 
ancient parts of the city which are as they were, and which were mixed 
up with the childish sports and dreams of the youthful poet. Again, 
the correspondence of Goethe with Schiller, Zelter, and others, is only 
interesting in a literary point of view ; whereas the few letters exchanged 


The dramas written by Goethe expressly for the 
stage, e. g. " Die Laune des Verllebten," " Die Mit- 
schuldigen," " Clavigo," " Die Aufgeregten/' " Gross- 
Cophtha," and others, are inferior to his more ideal 
ones, " Gotz " and " Faust." The two operas, " Erwin 
und Elmire " and " Claudine von Villabella," the latter 
of which first appeared in J. G. Jacobi's " Iris," in 1775, 
were, like " Iphigenie" and " Tasso," rewritten in Italy, 
and to this they owe their brilliancy and freshness. 

The "Natiirliche Tochter," was based upon the 
memoirs of the Princess Stephanie of Bourbon Conti. 
Schiller's dramatic activity stimulated Goethe to write 
it. Originally it was intended for one of a Trilogy, 
setting forth the moving ideas of the French Kevolu- 
tion. This plan, however, was not carried out. The 
subject was not a favourite one with the poet, and the 
characters are not drawn with his habitual felicity. 

Passing by his numberless unfinished compositions, 
e. g, " Nausikaa," " Der Achilleis," &c., we wiU refer 
for a moment to his oriental studies, the occupation 
of his extreme old age. At that period the "War of 
Liberty was being fought, and Goethe has been se- 
verely censured for taking so little interest in it. It 
may be alleged in his defence that he felt incapacitated, 

•with Madame Stein and the Countess Auguste Stolberg do open a deeper 
insight into his character. The correspondence, however, -with !F. H. 
Jacobi deserves notice ; and that with Charlotte Buff, and her husband, 
Kestner, published in 1855, shows that the connexion between the three 
was not only nobler, but more poetical than his account of it in 
Werther's Leiden. Goethe was bom at Frankfort on the Maine, 28th 
August, 1749, and died at Weimar, 22d March, 1832. See Lewis' Life 
of Goethe. 


physically and mentally, from entering the lists to any 
purpose ; so, as a refuge from the storms around him, he 
retreated into the domain of oriental poetry. And here 
we have only a fresh proof of his versatile powers. 

Goethe, in mind as well as body, always gives one 
the idea of perfect health. His whole being is free 
from strain, over-excitement, or violence. He never, 
as he says, ''rushed after some indistinct ideal, but 
let his feelings gradually develope themselves into ca- 
pacities." The fruits he bore were not artificially 
forced ; the stream of his poetry was not the result of 
hard pumping from the Pierian spring, but the spon- 
taneous effusion of his genius. At times it rested — 
presently, however, to gush forth again with fresh and 
living energy. To his healthy open eye the things and 
persons of this world showed themselves in their true, 
simple, and natural shape, — not distorted or magnified 
by a haze of delusive fancies. He fully comprehended 
objects in their most hidden essence. It was this 
faculty of apprehending things, and making them, so 
to say, his own, that is meant when the Germans talk 
of Goethe's " objectivity." It is this which lends to 
his poems such life and freshness, — to his prose style 
such calm grace, such an equable flow ; which renders 
his periods so clear and pellucid. 

Another result of this natural soundness of under- 
standing was, that he never suffered himself to be over- 
come and mastered by the subject in hand. With 
instinctive tact he avoided, as subjects of composition 
or thought, matters which he felt to be beyond his 
grasp and reach. He used to say that there were 


" certain lines of fortification to a man's existence," — 
bounds, as it were, which he could not pass, beyond 
which his powers availed not. No poet could estimate 
more exactly than he did the extent to which these 
powers reached in his own case. 

Again, Groethe was no book-worm — no writer of the 
closet ; but a man of life and of the world. Sitting 
brooding and dreaming alone was contrary to his 
nature. It was in the intercourse with his fellow-men, 
in practical activity, in seeing and enjoying the objects 
of the world around him, that he obtained his inspira- 
tions. This it was that sent him to Italy. Again, in 
respect to his studies of nature, which have so often 
been ridiculed, how fortunate the man who, when any- 
thing occurs to cross him, can vnthdraw from the tur- 
moil of the crowd — fly to the mountain solitudes, there 
to " hold converse with Nature's charms, and see her 
stores unrolled." This was one way, in fact, which 
he took to keep up the freshness and freedom of his 
thoughts. It is the poet of man and his doings taking 
his recreation, and relaxing for a while the tension of 
his mind. 

But there were some things which Goethe could not 
do. He could not comprehend the philosophy of the 
time. He had no taste for music. But what is most 
remarkable Is, that, though he could fathom all the 
heights and depths of man's nature — could understand 
all the emotions of the soul, and put them in poetical 
shape, he never could bring the movements of the 
nations, the life of the people in the mass, into har- 
mony with himself. With regard to the French Eevo- 


lution, for Instance, though he was dissatisfied with it, 
he never could make up his mind how to regard it ; in 
short, he could not see his way clearly through it. 

Schiller*, who was ten years Goethe's junior, and 
wrote his first works at the close of the " Sturm and 
Drang " period, imbibed many of its peculiar charac- 
teristics, both in his life and in his poems. Hence comes 
that tendency of his to the ideal, — that tendency to 
struggle against the restrictions of society, and of cir- 
cumstances generally, — that proneness, not so much to 
throw realities into a poetic form, as to throw his ideas 
into realities, — that love of lively description and strong 
oratorical colouring. And it is owing to this that he 
has become a greater favourite with the Germans even 
than Goethe, and especially with those of them who sym- 
pathise with his choice of subjects and way of thinking. 

His first piece, "Die Eauber," or, as he proposed 
calling it originally, " Der verlorene Sohn," was pro- 
jected before he reached his twentieth year, but 
was not printed till 1781, when he was two and 
twenty. Here we clearly see represented the line he 
took and always adhered to. In spite of Its many 

* SchUler was bom on the 11th (it was formerly said the 10th) 
November, 1739, at Marbach, near Stuttgart, and died at Weimar, 9th 
May, 1805. His biography, by his sister-in-law, Caroline von Wolzogen 
(2 vols., 1830), is agreeable, but not by any means complete. The most 
complete, but most one-sided, account of him, is that by K. Hofiineister 
("Schiller's Leben, Geistesentwicklung und Werke," 4 vols.). The 
The most compendious and trustworthy is that by Gustav Schwab. 
Compare his correspondence with Goethe, with Dalberg, Humboldt, and 
Korner. The latter is ponderous and minute ; and while it does not 
enhance Schiller's reputation as a poet, it lowers it as a man. See 
Carlyle's " Life of SchiUer." 


faults, — its rudeness of design, its crudeness and im- 
probability, its forced language, and its straining after 
effect, — it indicates a decided dramatic talent on the 
part of the writer. The action is brisk, and there is a 
tone of real feeling pervading the piece. It is an 
attempt to assert poetically the prevailing ideas of the 
period. That there might be no mistake about it, 
the vignette of a rampant lion was prefixed, with the 
motto, " in tyrannos." "We have here vice opposed to 
vice, sin to sin. The poet attacks the " coward mean- 
ness " of those in high places — the skulking poisonous 
malice that works in secret ; and the weapon he uses 
is the violent destruction of social and political order. 
This is the punishment he would apply. The former 
vice is incurable ; not so the second. The piece was 
received with immense applause, owing partly to its sub- 
jective truth, more perhaps to its pathological interest. 
The " Verschworung des Fiesco" represents, even 
more nakedly and decisively than " The Eobbers," the 
republican ideas then so rife ; but it exhibits much less 
truth of feeling and liveliness of action. The language, 
too, is a great deal less natural ; nay, its bombast re- 
minds us of Lohenstein. " Fiesco " is a political tra- 
gedy, a subject for which Schiller's youth, imperfect 
education, and want of experience in these matters, 
evidently unfitted him. In such hands the portraits 
are liable to lapse into caricatures, or shadowy outlines. 
One advantage " Fiesco " possesses over " The Eob- 
bers " is, that the characters are historic, and not such 
shapeless monstrosities as occur in that piece. But 
these bare republican figures had much less charm for 


the German public than the wild indefinite shadows of 
" The Robbers." And " Fiesco," much to the poet's 
surprise and sorrow, was received very coldly by the 

" Luise Millerin," or to use Iffland's name, " Kabale 
und Liebe," which was adopted by Schiller, goes a step 
further into actual life than "The Robbers" and 
" Fiesco." The basis of " The Robbers '' may be said 
to be everywhere and nowhere. The scene of "Fiesco" 
is laid in an actual Republican State ; but in " Kabale 
und Liebe " we have a most graphic presentment of 
the ideas then entertained, whether favourable or other- 
wise, about the Frenchified, frivolous, or debased world 
of the Court. All conceivable abominations are trans- 
ferred into this exalted region ; and on the other side 
we have the burgher world oppressed, despised, ill-used. 
Between these two opposites a struggle ensues, which 
makes our moral feelings revolt against the former 
class ; not, however, that the artist had any distinct 
consciousness of the object he had in view. " Kabale 
und Liebe" suggests, in fact, impossibilities. Such 
enormous rascality, such so-called generosity of soul, 
are more than human. The whole is a caricature, 
odious alike in a moral and an sesthetical point of view. 
At one time the German public thought otherwise. 
For many years this piece was a most decided favourite 
on the boards. 

The poet now begins to emerge from the region of 
indefinite aims, uncertain aspirations, and ill-directed 
powers. His youthful productions, though they faith- 
fully mirror forth the mental ferment then working in 


educated mindsj and give us an insight into the secret 
struggles a great poet has to undergo, are not interest- 
ing as works of art. In his next drama, " Don Carlos," 
we see him entering into another phase. Brighter and 
clearer objects are opening to his view. It is true 
that in the original draught of the first three acts, 
which were printed in the " Thalia" in 1785, we find 
him still possessed with that passionate interest for the 
vulgar ideas of the age. There Don Carlos is evidently 
the poet's favourite character, engaged as he is in the 
conflict with the authority of his royal father. But 
two years had elapsed, and " a change now came over 
the spirit of his dream," and, as the poet himself in- 
forms us, Carlos ceased to be his favourite, and Posa 
took his place. This explains why the fourth and 
fifth acts were written in an entirely different spirit. 
The length of the piece, we may observe paren- 
thetically, unfitted it for the stage, for which the poet 
intended all his dramas, and the first three acts were 
consequently much curtailed. It was the poet's original 
design to give a family picture of a princely house, to 
describe the domestic troubles that Philip II. brought 
about by his despotism. This idea, in fact, is kept 
in view through the first three acts. But now Posa 
is introduced; and we have liberty arrayed against 
despotism, cosmopolitan ideas against state-craft, the 
republic against the monarchy ; this, however, more in 
speech and thought than in action. It is a mistake to 
suppose that SchiUer meant to represent Posa as the 
ideal of friendship, and his death as a martyrdom in 
that cause. The poet himself took great pains to con- 


tradict this opinion. But after all, was it not a very 
natural one, considering that the world of that time 
was full of Klopstock and Gleim's " friendship-phan- 
tasies " above alluded to. 

With all this changing, the drama suffered not a little 
in an a^sthetical point of view. The exposition is 
confused and crowded, the action hurried, and the 
characters vague and wavering. Still the march of 
the poet's ideas since he wrote " The Robbers " must 
not be overlooked. In " The Robbers " it was only 
crime blindly battling with crime ; in " Fiesco," reck- 
less, murderous republicanism ; in " Cabal and Love," 
burgher magnanimity opposed to the worthlessness of 
those in power, while in " Don Carlos " we see cosmo- 
politan magnanimity face to face with the iron will of 
the despot and rigid state-forms. In short, in Schiller's 
dramas we have the French Revolution in an inverted 
order. His dramas end with what the French Revo- 
lution began. The Convention, with its keen scent 
for anything like kindred sympathies, recognised in 
the German dramatist one after their own heart, and 
decreed to "Mr. Gill^s" the honour of French citi 
zenship. But the decree did not reach the new 
citdyen till long after the chief act of the bloody tragedy 
at Paris had been played out. 

What greatly contributed to clear and tranquiUise 
the poet's once turbid spirit, was the study of history 
and philosophy, to which Schiller began to devote him- 
self in 1787, and still more his intimacy with Goethe, 
which began in 1794. Historian or philosopher, in 
the strict sense of the word, he was not, neither did he 



pretend to be. His intimacy with Goethe, which -woke 
the bard of Weimar from the poetic lethargy into 
which he had been thrown by his dissatisfaction at the 
French Revolution, had the incalculable advantage for 
Schiller, that henceforward he learnt how to master 
and arrange his subjects. To this period belong, not 
only Schiller's best lyric pieces, but also his great 
tragedies. The oldest and grandest of these is his 
Trilogy of " "Wallenstein," completed in 1799. The 
subject is the happiest he ever chose. Greatness in its 
decline ; a greatness standing forward in bold relief 
amidst the fierce ferment of the times ; a greatness his- 
torically great, and not needing any invention, but only 
a poetic shape ; a national personage who gained the 
contemporary sympathy of both the hostile parties ; a 
sympathy which was still existing in tradition. But it is 
not alone in the choice of the subject that Schiller shines, 
but also in the lifelike and artistic method of execution. 
At the same time the character of Wallenstein is in some 
measure allied to those of Moor, Fiesco, and Posa ; — 
to use the poet's own words, "He is a man of violent 
nature, struggling and wrestling for the great objects 
of mankind, dominion and liberty." As "The Robbers," 
" Fiesco," and " Carlos," were the prophetic counterparts 
of the French Revolution; so, as Gervinus has well 
remarked, Wallenstein was the prototype of Napoleon. 
From Schiller's correspondence with Goethe, we see 
what pains he took in carrying out the work; how he 
strove to grasp his subject in all the fulness of its 
historic reality. Here, in fact, he was Goethe's pupil ; 
so strikingly so, that until Goethe denied that he. 


had any hand in it (witli the exception of two lines), 
people fancied that the first part of " Wallenstein's 
Lager" was his. In one point ^chiller decidedly- 
failed. It is universally allowed that the part of 
the play of "Wallenstein" which he liked best, and 
which most pleased the public, is a mistake, and inter- 
feres with the effect of the drama. We mean the 
episode of Max and Thekla. There is also one other 
defect; Wallenstein fell by his own fault, and not 
through the overwhelming weight of circumstances, as 
Schiller supposes him to fall, which considerably lessens 
our tragic sympathy for the hero. 

His two next dramas, "Maria Stuart," and "Die 
Jungfrau von Orleans," earned almost more applause 
with the public than " Wallenstein ;" though in artistic 
value they are below it. The former possessed the 
materials for a genuine historic drama. But there is 
so much sentimentality, such a preponderance of the 
touching and rhetorical in it, that the historic almost 
falls into the background. We have moving scenes, 
but no powerful deeds; painful sufferings, but no 
violent struggles. Schiller tells us that he was sick of 
heroes, and longed to describe human sufferings, for 
which he could feel a human sympathy. But this was 
the very rock on which he had split in his four earlier 

The same may be: said of his "Jungfrau von Orleans," 
to which he gave the additional title of a "Romantic 
Tragedy." One of the gravest defects of this piece is 
that the maiden's religious enthusiasm is little more than 

X 2 


mere phrase ; and another — which naturally arose from 
the first — that Joanna, in her struggle between heavenly 
enthusiasm and earthly love, succumbs to the latter; 
whereas it was very easy to have supposed her impri- 
sonment and death brought about by the seductions of 
worldly honour to the neglect of her original mission 
from Heaven. Gervinus says she looks like a somnam- 
bulist, and the stricture is true. It is to this funda- 
mental mistake that we owe the numerous others, e, g., 
the exceedingly feeble scene with Montgomery ; the 
wonderful explanation between her and Duke Philip of 
Burgundy ; her sudden affection for Lionel, which is so 
baldly described ; and the tumultuary close of the piece, 
which is merely put in for effect. 

The " Braut von Messina " gave the signal for the 
appearance of a quantity of " Tragedies of Fate," by 
Werner, Miillner, Grillparzer, and others. 

Without any mythological background to support it, 
this drama rests on a dark decree of fate, to which 
innocent and guilty alike, the former first, fall victims. 
In the Greek legend of the " Labdacidae," fate and 
crime go hand in hand, and flow into one, and if the 
innocent do fall, their destruction is not connected 
with destiny, but with the crimes of the guilty ; whereas 
here, crime retires into the shade before fate, and in 
the later Fate-Tragedies it is utterly lost sight of. 
Schiller justified his introduction of the chorus in this 
play; but this was owing partly to his utter ignorance of 
the antique Tragedy. In the " Bride of Messina," the 
chorus are the retainers of the two brothers, and can. 


therefore, hardly represeut that Impartiality and un- 
biassed opinion which fell within the province of the 
ancient chorus. 

On the other hand, in this play of Schiller's, lan- 
guage unfolds its utmost brilliancy and magnificence. 
It was impossible to go further consistently with good 
taste ; so that all the efforts made to surpass him have 
as surely indicated a commencing decay, as did the 
similar attempts made in the thirteenth and seventeenth 

To " Wilhelm Tell" most critics have assigned the 
preeminence over all Schiller's dramas. It has been 
Said that, in its economy and exposition, it surpasses 
" Wallenstein ;" in its dramatic motives, the " Maid of 
Orleans," " Maria Stuart," and the " Bride of Mes- 
sina;" and all of them in the way in which the ideas 
are worked out. 

Nevertheless it has its defects. The murder of 
Geszler in the hollow way is improbable, and not in 
harmony with the piece. The scenes of rustic life, too, 
are artificial. The introduction of the parricide and 
the Brothers of Mercy is quite out of place. 

Still it must be confessed that the idea, which is 
obscured by passion in " The Bobbers," " Fiesco," 
" Cabal and Love," and which becomes purer in "Don 
Carlos," is here artistically- worked out and purged of 
all passion and prejudice on the part of the poet ; and 
in this respect, therefore, " Tell" is, always excepting 
" Wallenstein," the most perfect of Schiller's dramas. 

We shall now devote a few words to Schiller as a 
lyric and didactic poet. In his lyric, as. in his, dramatic 

X 3 


poems, two, or rather three, periods are clearly trace- 
able, la all his poems, the earliest as well as the 
latest, there is the same liveliness of description, the 
same clangour and brilliancy of language, the same 
strength and depth of feeling. But in the oldest> 
written between 1780 and 1782, we perceive a pas- 
sionate excitability, just like that shown in " The Rob- 
bers," — aimless overflowings of the feelings and fancy, 
the most vigorous and frequently the most successful 
touches of word-painting. We can distinctly hear the 
wail of the individual sounding even through the noise 
of " die Schlacht" (the battle). It is the cry of a soul 
dashing against its prison bars — struggling to get out 
it knows not whither. Owing to all this, there is no 
doubt a superabundance of phraseology in these early 
poems. Still, they will not fail of making an impres- 
sion, if we can only manage to transport ourselves into 
the writer's individual position and feelings- It is not 
without reason that " Hector's Abschied," " Amalie" 
(in the Robbers), " Minna," and " Die Kindermorr 
derin," have become so popular with the young. The 
exceeding passion of these poems has no doubt been 
, their chief recommendation. Few young men can 
have read, without being carried as it were aloft on 
eagle's wings, his poem of " Die der schaffende Geist 
einst aus dem Chaos schlug; durch die Schwebende 
Welt flieg ich des Windes Flug." 

His second period commences with his '' Song to 
Joy," ("Freude.") The poet's soul was now brighter, 
calmer, and more self-possessed. At the same time, 
however, this poem, which is dedicated to an abstrac- 


tion, marks the poet's entrance into a reflective and 
philosophising phase. The fine language and ringing 
verse hardly make up for the want of real matter. 
The same may be affirmed of two other poems, written 
at this time : " Resignation," and " Die Gotter Griech- 
enlands." The former begins with the motto of every 
heart that longed for the simple charms of nature, " Et 
in Arcadia ego," (I too was born in Arcadia.) But it 
immediately passes from this tone of soft sadness into 
one of cold, comfortless philosophy. The " Gods of 
Greece," beyond question, shows that the poet has done 
with the Christian world, and consequently merits the 
attack made upon it by Friedrich >Stolberg. " Die 
Kiinstler" was at one time more famous than now; 
more famou«, indeed, than it deserved. It is interesting 
as throwing light on the history of his poetical culture. 
To the period when Schiller worked in common with 
Goethe, we owe his most imperishable lyric poems. 
We allude to his Ballads and Romances, which were 
composed at the same time as his finest dramas, to which 
they are manifestly allied. " Der Ring des Poly crates," 
" Die Kraniche des Ibicus," " Der Taucher," " Der 
Gang nach dem Eisenhammer," " Der Handschuh," 
" Ritter Toggenburg," " Die Biirgschaft," and " Der 
Kampf mit dem Drachen," are coeval with " Wallen- 
stein." His " Hero und Leander," " Kassandra," 
" Sehnsucht," " Der Pilgrim," and " Der Jiingling am 
Bache," are coeval with " Maria Stuart," the " Maid of 
Orleans," and the " Bride of Messina ;" while the " Graf 
-von Habsburg," the " Berglied," and " Alpenjager," 

X 4 


are contemporaneous, in point of composition, with 
"William TeU." 

In spite of imperfections in many of these poems, 
there is nothing comparable to them in the German 
language, except Goethe's " Bride of Corinth." The 
pure epic diction, the modulated tones of expression, 
the almost faultless composition, the unflagging interest 
preserved throughout, the dignity of the subjects, and 
noble bearing of the whole, must strike every reader. 
Of the same date as •' Wallenstein," are the " Lied von 
der Glocke," and a number of other poems ; the merit 
of which is sufficiently attested by Goethe's simple 
epilogue. But the choicest flowers of Schiller's poetry are 
unquestionably the four following poems : " Der Spa- 
ziergang;" " Das. Gliick ;" "Der Genius," .and another, 
originally called " Das Reich der Schatten," afterwards 
" Das Eeich der Formen," and finally " Das Ideal und 
das Leben." In action, strictly so called, these poems 
may be deficient, but they contain another sort of 
action, the immediate revelation of the innermost 
secrets of the poetical genius. 

Goethe used to say, with much self-complacency, 
" People ought not to dispute whether he or Schiller 
was the greatest, but rather rejoice that there were 
two such fellows in existence." The dispute he refers 
to commenced among the disciples of the Romantic 
School. Novalls inveighed against the deficiency in 
moral power discernible in Goethe's poems, and his 
fondness for describing bad company and bad men. 
Others, e.g. Milliner, Borne, and Menzel, took up the 


cry, and pronounced Goethe to be a preacher of im- 
morality, of quietism, and what not; and, in fact, an 
anti-national poet W. Schlegel, on the contrary, with 
other chiefs of the Komantic School, took exception to 
Schiller. His descriptions were devoid of truth, said 
they, — his figures, of reality ; while others went 
further, and called him a mere poet of phrases ; till at 
last Riemer, of Weimar, discovered that all the good 
in Schiller, he had filched from his friend Goethe. 

Without entering into any lengthy comparison of 
the two poets*, we may say that the grand distinction 
between them is this. It was Goethe's wont to rise 
from particulars to generals ; Schiller's to descend from 
generals to particulars. Goethe starts from real life 
and its particularities, and raises it into poetic forms ; 
Schiller strives to impart to his general ideas, reality, 
life, and substance. 

In short, in the two individuals we see embodied, so 
to say, the ancient contrast between the poetry of 
nature and the poetry of art. And each was great in 
his own line. 

We may here remark that, wrongly or rightly, the 
rising youth of Germany have made up their minds 
that Goethe is the poet of servitude, and Schiller of 

On the position held by these two poets in reference 
to Christianity, there has been much diversity of 

* The twin monument lately erected at Weimar is very characteristic 
of the two poets. Goethe receives with a proud consciousness of his 
powers the offered laurel crown : Schiller seems to wave it away with 
his hand; his thoughts, like his eyes, are turned aloft to something 
nobler still, — Editor. 

jc 5 


opinion. Some have stigmatised Goethe and Schiller 
as mere heathens; their love of poetry an anti-christian 
worship of genius. Others again have ransacked their 
works for every possible passage or phrase containing 
the faintest whisper of Christianity, and have mar- 
shalled these together for the purpose of proving that 
both poets were Christians, or at all events Schiller. 
Others again, who are opposed to anything like histo- 
rical, or at least ecclesiastical Christianity, cite Groethe 
and Schiller as their authorities in this matter ; though 
they acknowledge them both to be believers in a 
universal religion, viz., God, virtue, and immortality. 

It cannot, indeed, be denied that both poets were 
in discord with Christianity. Goethe took the Pan- 
theistic point of view, or that which deifies Nature ; 
Schiller the rationalistic, or that which deifies man. 
Many passages in the writings of both poets, especially 
SchiUer, indicate a hostile attitude towards Chris- 
tianity. The preface to " The Robbers " may seem to 
betoken a different feeljng, but this was merely a 
forced concession on the poet's part. He was glozing 
over his real feelings. And if other passages may be 
found written in a spirit more friendly to Christianity, 
they only serve to convince us that the two poets 
could arrive at no satisfactory conclusion on the matter 
in their own minds. 

Vilmar endeavours, however, to show, that in spite of 
those storms that ruffled the surface, there was still 
underneath, in the depth of these two poets' minds, a 
serenity and calm. But we shall not follow him fur- 
ther in his arguments; merely adding, that he considers 


Schelling and Hegel, Humboldt, Savigny, and Grimm,, 
to be in reality thinkers in Goethe's spirit. 

A short survey will now be given of the separate 
groups and schools of poets which concentrated them- 
selves round Klopstock, Lessing, Wieland, Herder, 
Goethe, and Schiller. 

In the wake of Klopstock we have a number of 
biblical poets, old Bodmer at their head, and, in his 
early youth, Wieland. Most of their productions are 
feeble imitations of Klopstock's " Messiah," and have 
fallen into merited oblivion. Lavater, it is true, caught 
somewhat of Klopstock's lyric mood. But most of his 
pieces are mere echoes of Klopstock, fervent and feel- 
ing it is true, but mostly shapeless, and thoroughly 
rhetorical ; at times exaggerated and untrue. For a 
composer of Church hymns, Lavater's mind was too 
uneasy and too little imbued with ecclesiastical tradi- 
tion. He was better adapted by nature for writing 
religious poems ; but he marred his efforts by too hasty 
productions. Many of these contain only one poetic 
thought wrapped up and choked in such a mass of 
words, that he had occasionally to append to them ex- 
planatory notes. His oldest and most important com- 
- positions are his " Schweizerlieder." 

Intellectually allied with Lavater was Johann Hein- 
rich Jung.* His romances, " Florentin von Fahlen- 

* This -was the name he assumed in his autobiography. Heinrich 
Stilling, commonly called Jung- Stilling, was horn at the village of Grund, 
near Hilchenhach, in the Principality of Nassau-Siegen, 12th September, 
1740, and died at Heidelberg, 2nd April, 1817. 

X 6 


dorn " and " Theodore von der Linden," are long since 
forgotten ; and the same fate will, perhaps, overtake 
his " Heimweh " and " Siegesgeschichte." But this 
will never be the case with Heinrich Stilling's " Ju- 
gend, Jiinglingsjahre und Wanderschaft." Here there 
is a simplicity of description, a truth and depth of feel- 
ing, and what is more, a truth and depth of Christian 
experience, such as is scarcely to be found in any other 
work of German literature. The first pa.rt of his autobio- 
graphy, in which he had the assistance of his friend 
Goethe, is the most poetically complete. The character 
of old Eberhard StiUing is drawn in a masterly manner. 
The two next parts are very valuable as a history of 
the purification of the inner life. Indeed all these 
three parts are full of poetic freshness, and go to the 
hearts of all. In the fourth part, containing a history 
of Heinrich Stilling's domestic life, the interest begins 
to flag ; although the account of the death of his wife 
is very touching and real. The fifth part, describing 
his life at Marburg, is unimportant. 

The German elements of Klopstock's poetry inspired 
a mass of so-called bards. The chief of these is Karl 
Eriedrich Kretschmann, who styled himself " Ehingulf 
the Bard." He wrote two poems, "Die Herrmanns- 
schlacht," and " Herrmann's Tod," (called after Klopstock 
Bardiete,) and abounding with hollow phrases and 
violent expressions. He also composed a bardic poem 
on Kleist's grave. Kretschmann was at one time a great 
favourite, so much so, that people said that " with the 
exception of Klopstock and Denis, he was the only 


person who had caught the real Bardict one ;"* what- 
ever this may happen to mean. 

Denis, a Jesuit of Vienna, the self-styled " Sined 
the Bard," first translated " Ossian ;" and then wrote 
Bardic songs in the style of Ossian and Klopstock 
combined. . Like Kretschmann's poems, these are long 
since forgotten. " Prose run mad," is the way they 
are described by Kastner. His ode on the death of 
Gellert was longest remembered. Quite a host of 
" Bards" followed the lead of these notables, and to 
them we owe the proverbial " Barden-gebriill," (" Bel- 
lowings of the Bards.") 

One of these was Heinrich Wilhelm von Gersten- 
berg, who died 1823. His " Song of a Scald," written 
in 1766, does contain some real Northern mythology. 
He also wrote dramas in the style and spirit of Klop- 
" stock. His long-famous tragedy, " Ugolino," (after 
Dante,) is crammed full of horrors. It is downright 
Lohenstenian bombast ; only in the language of Klop- 
stock. His cantata, " Ariadne auf Naxos," written in 
1767, was acted times beyond number. The line, 
" Down, down from the rocks," used to set people in a 
shudder of delight, and dissolve them in floods of 
sweetly-bitter tears. In his earlier poems, Gerstenberg 
shows much of the Anacreontic vein of Hagedorn and 
Gleim, and even of Wieland. 

One of the most popular poets of his day, partly for 

his poems' sake, partly on account of his misfortunes, 

* This criticism is from Jbrdens' " Lexicon deutscher Dichter imd 
Prosaisfen," 1808, vol. iii. p. 106. The " Bards'' -were forerunners, and, 
in part, contemporaries of the " Genius period." They did not last long, 
Tiz. from ahout 1765 to 1775. 


was Christoph Daniel Friedrlch Schubart. He used to 
wander about Wurtemburg, and made a great sensa- 
tion wherever he came by giving "readings" of Klop- 
stock's " Messiah." He also adopted that poet's 
"patriotic" ideas, and, together with Weckherlin, pro- 
mulgated them in so indiscreet a manner that he was 
imprisoned. His best poem is " Auf, auf, ihr Brlider 
und seid stark," which is unaccountably wanting in the 
last edition of his works. He also affected Klopstock's 
pathos of expression, though in a somewhat coarser 
tone ; and it was this that made him such a favourite 
with the middle and lower ranks of society. 

At one time every lad in Germany could repeat by 
heart his " Vatermorder." The lines " Hugh, Hugh, a 
bone, and yet another bone," and " See'st thou blood 
vipon the wall," used to make their blood run delight- 
fully cold. Again, that tissue of phrases, "Die Fiirsten- 
gruft," was even more famous. Many of these songs 
were sung by the burghers and peasants of Wurtemburg. 
Schubart also wrote a number of most lascivious pieces 
in the tone and style of "Wieland. These he after- 
wards suppressed, ^.s a youth he was very profligate, 
but his ten years' confinement at Hohen-Asberg sobered 
him completely. He wrote henceforth nothing but 
religious poems, overflowing with feeling and passion, 
but of no poetic value. Most of his compositions are 
now forgotten.* 

* Schabart was born 20th March, 1739, at Obersontheim, in Wurtem- 
burg, aud died, 1794, at Stuttgart. He wrote in the " Genius Period," 
and he may be looked on as a sort of South-German representative of 
that kind of poetry. His confinement at Hohen Asberg lasted from 1777 
to 1787. He published his autobiography, 1791-1792, 


Another class of writers are the poets of Nature, who 
represented the softer elements of Klopstock's poetry^ 
his sadness and sensibility. Foremost among these 
stands Geszner, the Idyllic poet. His descriptions of 
Nature were long considered to be the ne plus ultra in 
that line. Indeed there is much that is good and true 
in them. But the accompanying delineations of human 
sensibilities are as soft as butter and nauseously sweet. 
The crown of his poetic prose are " Der erste Schiffer" 
and "Der Tod Abels; " the latter intolerably luscious, 
and withal meagre. The " Fischeridyllen" of Xaver 
Bronner, once a monk, are of better quality.* 

The poems of Friedrich Matthison were at one time in 
as high favour as the idyls of Geszner, and Schiller even 
had a high opinion of them. They were first brought into 
discredit by the Romantic School. He describes natural 
scenes with striking reality. "Das Mondscheingemalde," 
and " Der Abend," are models in this line.f 

Johann Gaudenz de Salis-Seewis is, like Matthison, 
a delineator of Nature ; he is no less real, but possesses 
greater power, and stands higher, because he connects 
his descriptions of Nature with human feelings. One 
of his most celebrated poems is " Das Grab ist tief und 
stille," but it is not one of his best.$ 

* Salomo Geszner was bom, 1730, at Zurich, and died, 1787, a book- 
seller, and member of the Council. Franz Xaver Bronner, a writer of 
kindred mind, was born at Danauwert, in 1758. He was originally a. 
Capuchin monk, but quitted the order, and died at Aarau, at the age of 
ninety-two, on the 12th August, 1850. 

f See A. "W. Sohle^el's estimate of his poems, in the treatise, 
" Matthison, Voss und Schmidt," &c. — Works, xii. 55. 

t Sails was born at Seewis, in the Grisons, 1762 ; died at Malans, 
28th January, 1834. During the time in which he wrote poetry, he was 


The Gottingen Poetical Confederacy, "Dichterbund," 
or " Hainbund," as it was called, next claims our atten- 
tion. Among its members and adherents were Biirger, 
Holty, the two Counts Stolberg, Johann Heinrich Voss, 
Miller, Leisewitz, Claudius, and Gockingk. Nearly 
all of these belonged to the " Genius Period," as it was 
called. Under the aegis of Klopstock they strove to 
make the poetry of Shakspeare and the Greeks the 
model of a new era, rejecting everything that was 
feeble, "obsolete, untrue, and un-German; Wieland, 
consequently, they especially eschewed. This con- 
federacy only lasted from the autumn of 1772 to the 
autumn of 1774, while these young men were at the 
University ; but the eflfects it produced were consider- 
able. It did not regenerate poetry it is true, but it 
helped to disseminate the good seed first cast by Klop- 
stock. Their organ was the Gottingen " Musen- 
almanach," which also contained papers by Klopstock 
and Goethe.* 

Captain of the Swiss Guard at Versailles. His contemporary, Matthi- 
Bon, was born, 1761, at Hohendodeleben, near Magdeburg, and died 1831. 
His poetical period was brief. What he wrote after 1796 is hardly 
worth mentioning. 

* The "Dichterbimd" of Gottingen flourished in the "Genius Period," 
and at the time when Goethe first made his appearance. Hardly one of 
its members wrote into the nineteenth century. Even Voss had ceased 
to write in 1802, when he made a collection of his poems. See Prutz, 
"Der Gottinger Dichterbnnd," 1841. The " Musenalmanach " was 
founded in 1770, by Gotter and Boje. The numbers of the first nine 
years are an important contribution to the history of poetry. Biirger 
was born 1st January, 1748, and died 8th June, 1794. . Holty was also 
born 1748, and died 1st September, 1776. Friedrich Leopold Count 
Stolberg was bom 17.50, and died 1819. Voss was born 17.51 ; died 
1826. Miiller was bom 1750; died, at Ulm, 1814. He only wrote. 


Gottfried August Burger did not, strictly speaking, 
form one of this society, as he left the University 
earlier ; indeed, in many respects he is quite distinct 
from them. Many of his poems bear the true impress 
of his own life, which was most unsettled ; in fact, the 
number of good poems that he wrote is small. His 
" Eitter Karl von Eichenhorst," or his " Knapp sattle 
mir mein Danenross," how unnaturally strained these 
are ! How inflated his " Lenardo und Blandine ;" 
how high-flown " Des Pfarrers Tochter von Tauben- 
hain ;" how trivial " Die Entfiihrung der Europa ;" 
how common his " Frau Schnips ;" how impure some 
of the elements of his " Dorfchen," an imitation of the 
" Hameau " of Bernard. But even in these feeble 
affairs we behold an ease of description, a flexibility of 
narration, and, above all, a harmony of language and 
flow of verse which remind us at times of the lays of 
the Minnesingers. It was this very facility and feli- 
cltousness of versification that led him to be so careless 
about the subject. "When he does light by chance on a 
good topic, his great powers are seen to their fullest 
advantage. Nearly all his pieces demonstrate natural 
aptitude for writing in a popular tone, which he had 
improved by the study of Percy's " Relics " and the 
compositions of Herder. There is a ringing music 
about his " Lenore," which even Schiller never ex- 
celled, and a popular tone of expression only surpassed 

till 1785. Boje, who was more of a critic and litterateur, was born 
1744, and died 1806. He gave up the publication of the " Ahuanach" in 
1776. To those mentioned in the text may be added Christian Adolf 
Overbeck, the Burgermaster of Lubeok, born 1755; died, 1821. He 
wrote songs for children and domestic poetry. 


by Goethe* Excellent also are " Das Lied vom 
braven Mann," " Robert," " Das Lied von Treue," and 
" Der Kaiser und der Abt." His sonnets are tbe best 
in the language, although they are among the eldest of 
the modern era. That " An das Herz," which was 
written in the days of his deepest misery, is the most 
noteworthy. No German poet was ever more popular 
than him. His " Lenore " passed instantaneously 
through the length and breadth of the land, and is to 
this day in the mouths of gentle and simple. Five- 
and-twenty years after his death his third wife, Elise 
Biirger, strolled about the country declaiming his poems 
with great pathos, although she had mainly been the 
cause of his early death. 

Holty, who died so young, the poet of tender feel- 
ings, sweet dreams, and sad foreboding, obtained a 
similar kind of popularity with Burger. All his poems 
give the impression of a pure juvenile genius, prema- 
turely blooming and withering. The desire, then so 
universal in Germany, for the simple, undisturbed en- 
jqyment of nature, for the repose of the country, was 
never expressed more purely and tenderly than by 
Holty. Nobody has painted melancholy with more 
reality. His " Traumbilder," in the manner of Klop- 
stock, and addressed to his future mistress, were among 
his best known and best liked productions. " Der alte 
Landmann an seinen Sohn, Ueb immer Treu und 
Eedlichkeit," is also well known. His Romances are of 
no great importance. 

* An excellent account of Lenore, and of all this coterie of poets, is given 
by Wackemagel, in Haupt and Hoffmann's " Altdeutsche Blatter," i. 174. 


Biirger, who commenced a translation of Homer, as 
well as Holty, had shown a disposition to amalgamate 
German feeling with antique forms. A further ad- 
vance in this direction was made by the brothers Stol- 
berg, especially Friedrich Leopold, of that name, and 
by Johann Heinrich Voss, who were such friends in 
youth and such bitter foes in old age. Stolberg's Odes 
and Hymns have more plastic truth than Klopstock's, 
and his songs more simplicity of feeling, although in 
some there is a manifest straining after effect and false 
pathos, e. g. in " Siisse heilige Natur," and " Sohn da 
hast du meinen Speer." Some of the descriptions of 
nature are admirable, e. g. " Wenn ich einmal der Stadt 
entrinn." He was the first to eschew the foolish bardie 
vagaries of Klopstock and return to real German an- 
tiquity, so that he must be considered the precursor of 
the subsequent Romantic School. Few of his poems 
are now heard of His perversion to popery has been 
censured as " an apostacy from the spirit of liberty." 

Johann Heinrich Voss was one of the most energetic 
members of the Hainbund, if not the most talented 
poet among them. He was fond of describing the 
country and still life ; he also shared with his con- 
temporaries the taste for introducing classic studies into 
German poetry. But the dry common sense of his 
character forbade him to indulge in the soft senti- 
mentality then so common. On the contrary, there 
is a touch of the mechanical, the utilitarian, and the 
commonplace in his poetry. Nevertheless, he was the 
first to make Homer accessible to his countrymen ; 
Day, more, he was, after Eammler, the first to teach the 


art of translating poetry into poetry ; and although his 
versions of Homer and Virgil are faulty, and his 
Shakspeare a caricature, yet, as without a Rammler 
there would have been no Voss, so had there been no 
Yoss, there would have been no Solger and Droysen. 
He gave fresh life and power to the poetic language, 
new versatility and firmness, and more accurate rules. 
As Eammler taught the proper ode measure, so Voss 
perfected the doctrine of the hexameter, which Klop- 
stock had initiated-. In short, his merits are chiefly in 
respect to language and form. His lyric pieces have an 
air of dull sobriety and dry reasoning about them, which 
are anything but lyrical. He was one of the first to 
Write so-called songs for the people, which in every 
respect are the antipodes of popular poetry. 

Again, his other poems, with few exceptions (e. g, the 
song for the new year, " Des Jahres letzte stunde 
ertcint mit ernstem schlag,") are weak, full of reflections 
and moralising, and stupid polemics. In Idyls he is 
much better ; vastly superior, indeed, to Geszner ; but 
in one only of these, " Der siebenzigste Geburtstag," 
has he embodied the life of the people in action. But 
even this does not rise beyond the rank of a Dutch 
picture, abounding in skilful painting of details, but 
without any grand prevailing idea. Too much pains, 
moreover, is expended in the description of Comfort, — 
a theme not by any means poetical. 

The three Idyls on serfdom are most natural and true 
in the details ; but there is a perceptible didactic object 
in them which greatly mars the poetic effect. The 
female characters in some of his Idyls (e. g., " Die 


Kirschenpfliickerm,"" DieBleicherin,""Der Heumad,") 
are very unreal, and written in Ms lyric style ; while 
his " Eiesenhiigel" is a complete failure. There are 
some very good features in his two Low German Idyls; 
but they are too artificial. His " Luise, ein landliches 
Gedicht," which gave the first impulse to Goethe's 
epic, " Hermann and Dorothea," threw the reading 
world into a perfect ecstasy. The first and simpler 
draught of this poem possessed attractions which were 
greatly diminished in its subsequent form. Here, too, 
a great deal too much stress is laid on Comfort. If, as 
Ernestine Voss asserts, the character of the " Pfarrer 
von Griinau " is intended as the ideal of a country 
parson, it is a decided failure. And yet at one time 
Goethe's poem was considered to be a mere un- 
fortunate imitation of " Luise/'* Still, as a succession 
of scenes of rustic life, without cares and without 
reflection, the poem is praiseworthy. There is truth, 
in the descriptions of nature and of human feelings, 
without descending into the commonplace. Luise ia 
an interesting character, and the love affair is described , 
Ayith tenderness and truth. 

Apart from Goethe, Voss had several Imitators, 
Many of them are mere exaggerated copyists, e. g., 
Neuffer, with his " Tag auf dem Lande," Kosegarten, 
with his " Jucunde," and Pastor Schmidt, of Wer- 
neuchen, near Berlin, whom Goethe chastised in his 
" Musen und Grazien in der Mark." The Idyls of 
Martin TJsteri, written in the Swiss dialect, contain 

* So Koch, in his " Compendium der deutschen Literatur-geschichte," 
1798, 2. p. 187. 


pictures of manners and delineations of character full 
of humour, and written In an earnest and excellent 
spirit. Johann Peter Hebel, a follower, but not an 
imitator of Voss, surpasses all others in the Idyl, and is 
truly popular in tone, an accomplishment which Voss 
tried to acquire in vain. His " Wiese" and other idyls 
are too erudite and fuU of ornament, but the descrip- 
tions of nature are exceedingly good. His idyl " Die 
Verganglichkelt," with a popular foreground, has, at 
the same time, a background such as none of the other 
idyllic poets here mentioned has produced ; and the 
" Sonntags Friihe" describes rustic life with incom- 
parable truthfulness and poetic feeling. Among his 
lyric pieces there are also to be found some of the best 
features of popular poetry. But it is especially in his 
prose works that Hebel has caught the genuine Volks- 
ton (popular tone), in its highest and best sense. The 
tales of the Ehelnlscher Hausfreund, the best of which 
are collected in the " Schatz-Kastlein," are full of 
humour and deep feeling, and the style is very lively 
and pleasing. These simple stories are the delight of 
youth and the amusement of age. The subject matter, 
be it remarked, is generally borrowed from the popular 
books of facetise and anecdotes of the sixteenth century.* 
Matthias Claudius was connected with the Gottingen. 
confederacy as a contributor to the " Musenalmanach." 
In true-hearted uprightness he is allied to Voss, whom 

* Hetel Tfas bom 11th May, 1760, at Basel, of poor peasant parents, 
in the Upperland of Baden. He became teacher at the Lyceum of 
Carlsruhe, and subsequently prelate, and died 22d September, 1828. He 
•wrote chiefly in the first decade of the present century. 


he also resembled in his love of describing nature. 
The soft melancholy of Holty, and Stolberg's liking for 
earnest Christian poetry, are also shared by him. His 
" Taglich zu singen " (" Ich danke Gott und freue mich/' 
&c. ) J his " Keise TJrians," " Rheinweinlied " ( " Bekranzt 
mit Laub den lieben voUen Becher "), which is certainly 
his composition, whatever may be said to the contrary*, 
and, above all, his " Abendlied " (" Der Mond ist aufge- 
gangen"), are known and sung everywhere. In his at- 
tempts at popular description he sometimes catches the 
true tone, but not always. Even his older poems, which 
are chiefly pictures of rustic happiness, exhibit some of 
the unnatural colouring to be found in Voss's poems 
on the same subject; while his prose sinks into tasteless 
mannerism and insufferable pedantry. But he has his 
good points, notwithstanding. He never became in- 
fected with the religious indifference so rife in those 
days ; never for a moment fell into the snare of hig- 
gling and haggling about the historic truths of Chris- 
tianity. It is no little credit to him that Schlosser and 
other modern historians accuse him of being deficient 
in sound sense. 

The soft tone of the Gottingen School, which, of all 
those here mentioned, Holty cultivated most, breaks 
out into pathetic susceptibility in Johann Martin 

* Matthias Claudius, bom 1740, died 1815, -wrote, after 1774, his 
" Asmus omnia sua secum portans," being a collection of his ■writings 
in the " Wandsbecker Bote," and -which, for the Saxon North of Germany^ 
have been -what Hebel's writings -were for the South. According to an, 
account, originating from Hebel himself, Sander of Carlsruhe was the 
author of the famous " Rheinweinlied ;" but this is incorrect, as it ap-- 
peared first in "Voss's " Musenalmanaoh" for 1776, Vith Claudius' name. 


Miller. His " Siegwart " appeared in 1776, two years 
after Groethe's " Werther." It describes, not an illicit, 
but a virtuous love, and the hero does not commit 
suicide, but pines to death on the grave of his Mari- 
anne. It is difficult to conceive how it ever could have 
been so popular as it was, for, to a modern reader, it 
seems unutterably dull and commonplace. But it was 
this very quality of commonplace that caused it to be 
preferred to " Werther." For it was on this account 
more capable of being realised to the commonplace crowd 
than the more subtle and lofty " Werther." It found 
a great many imitators. Miller's other romances are 
more stupid still. The best known is the " Geschichte 
Karls von Burgheim und Emiliens von Rosenhau." 
His verses were long popular, especially those in 
" Siegwart," "AUes schlaft, nur silbern schallet Mari 
annens Stimme noch," and " Es war einmal ein Gartner 
der sang ein traurigs Lied." This last describes the love- 
sick, languishing swain with great truth, and transports 
us at once into the feelings of those susceptible days. 
Leopold Friedrich Giinther Gockingk, though not one 
of the Gottingen Society, was intimate with its mem- 
bers, especially Burger. In his youthful satires, which 
are of no mark, he copies Rabener. His epigrams are 
much better. Many of his poetic epistles are very 
good, e. g., those, " An Auguste," " An seinen Fritz 
am Geburtstage," as also those to his servant. In his 
"Lieder zweier Liebenden" there is a truth and absence 
of artifice which contrast forcibly with the puling sen- 
timentality of the Siegwart School,* 

* Gockingk was bom 1748, and died at Berlin, 1828. 


"VVe now come to the dramatists of this period. 
Leisewitz, in his " Julius von Tarent," follows Lessing. 
The subject matter of this piece, the history of Duke 
Cosmus of Florence and his sons, is the same as that of 
Klinger's " Zwillinge." They were both written in 
competition for a prize offered by Schroder, in Ham- 
burg, in 1774, for the best prose tragedy. Klinger's 
piece obtained the prize. It breathes forth the passion 
of the " Genius " period ; while Leisewltz's play is 
more in the strict form of Lessing ; which, however, at 
times, becomes awkward. On first perusing it, Lessing 
supposed that Goethe was the author. 

With Leisewitz, therefore, we pass from the ad- 
herents of Klopstock to those of Lessing. Nicolal,* 
the bookseller of Berlin, resembled Lessing in his clear 
and intelligent way of looking upon things. But while 
this in Lessing rose into piercing artistic criticism, 
in Nicolai it subsided into flatness and jejuneness. 
Nothing would go down with Nicolal but what suited 
the commonest understandings, and might be turned 
to every-day utility. This was quite in the fashion of 
Gottsched. Anything like lofty poetry, or even true 

* Friedrich Christoph Nicolai was born at Berlin 1733, and died 
there 1811. In 1758 he commenced his "Bibliothek der schonen Wis- 
senschaften." From 1761 to 1765, in conjunction with Lessing, Abbt, 
and Mendelsohn, he published " Die Briefe " on modern literature, and 
in 1765 founded "Die allgem. deutsche Bibliothek," and continued it 
till 1792, in 128 volumes. His insipid romances appeared 1770-1780. 
His collection of anecdotes about Frederick II., and "Tour through 
Germany," are as flat as flat can be. In his "Kleyner feyner Alma- 
nach vOn Volksliedern " (1775 and 1776), he endeavoured to make the 
" Folks-lay " ridiculous, but, instead, led to the first careful inquiry into 
the subject. 



poetry at all, was his abomination. And so he made 
himself ridiculous by entering the lists against Goethe 
and Herder. In like manner he detested everything 
in the shape of philosophy, and therefore was an 
antagonist of the doctrines of Kant. Nay, more, he 
detested anything like a deep feeling of religion. In 
short, he hated whatever he could not understand. He 
was the hero of " the enlightenment and tastelessness " 
of the last quarter of the eighteenth century, and the 
leader of all those who from that day to this have had no 
taste or capacity for science, poetry, or religious belief. 
His most popular work was the miserable romance, 
" SebaldusNothanker," in which he satirizes the religion 
of the Church. Those who thought with him on these 
matters extolled it as a first-rate specimen of humorous 
satire. His " Sempronius Gundibert," and " Geschichte 
eines dicken Mannes," are duller still. In conjunction 
with Lessing, he set on foot " The Letters on German 
Literature," the first thoroughly critical paper that 
ever appeared. Afterwards, for thirty years, he pro- 
mulgated his doctrines of commonplace in the " Allge- 
meine deutsche Bibliothek." 

The lively style of Lessing was inherited chiefly by 
Johann Jacob Engel. In his " Philosoph fiir die "Welt," 
there are pieces not unworthy of Lessing. His 
" Lorenz Stark," which first appeared in Goethe and 
Schiller's " Horen," was long considered to be a pattern 
in its way, but is as dry and flat as possible. 

Lessing's followers in the dramatic line were not 
much to boast of either. The national tone of Minna 
von Barnhelm, the sharp and delicate delineations of 


character in Emilia Galotti, were not appreciated by 
them. Instead of this, they lookSd upon every-day 
middle-class life, in all its naked, dull reality, as the 
proper subject of the drama ; and this notion influences 
Germany to the present day. It is true there was 
now none of the unmeaning phraseology and hollow 
masquerade of Gryphius, Gottsched, and Co/s plays. 
On the contrary, truth and reality ruled triumphant. 
Crowds of foresters and upper foresters, and secretaries 
(a pet character), councillors of war and justice, house- 
wifes who go distracted at the mistakes of servants, 
persecuted maidens, and so forth, fill the stage. Worst 
of all, the playwrights also attempted the moving 
" dodge," and the effect of a piece was measured by 
the quantity of wet kerchiefs. 

Nor had Goethe, we may remark in passing, much 
better luck with his dramatic imitators. His " Gotz " 
called into existence not any genuine national dramas, 
but the most perfect monstrosities that ever afflicted 
the stage. 'Such were the middle-age pieces, with the 
bandits, ravishings, dungeons, Vehmgerichts, overflowing 
brimmers, castle-chaplains, and other charming ingre- 
dients. Count Torring's " Agnes Bernauerin," and 
" Kaspar der Thoringer," as well as Babo's " Otto von 
Wittelsbach," are not yet forgotten. At all events, 
these are better than Crauer's " Berthold von Zahrin- 
gen ;" Maier's " Fiirst von Stromberg ;" MoUer's " Graf 
von Waltron ;" and Hahn's " Robert von Hohenecken." 
If the dramas in imitation of Lessing were too true, 
and sank into insipid platitudes, these, on the other, 
were distorted and untrue. 

T 2 


The representative of that unfortunate imitation of 
Lessing, the Burner drama, or drama of every-day 
life, is August Wilhelm Iffland. In his pieces, which 
are still played now and then, there is so much resem- 
blance, that one may almost be mistaken for another. 
To use the words of Schfller, you can discover from 
the opening scenes what vices and what virtue will 
come out. Whether the poor uncle shoots himself 
through the head, or the wicked Mathes receives a 
deadly wound from old Fritz; whether the Amt- 
man absconds, or the secretary Falbring is imprisoned, 
it is pretty nearly one and the same story ; although 
the titles may be different. Great magnanimity and 
great meanness ; innocence bright as the sun and black 
criminality always stand side by side, like the bishop 
and knight in chess ; and the plot is so transparent, e.g., 
in " Die Dienstpflicht," that it really is no plot at all. 
The play with the most life about it is " Die Jager," 
which has been played times out of number ; but, after 
all, it is a matter of astonishment, how ever out of such 
materials the writer could have spun five acts.* 

All the faults which have been animadverted on, 
dry descriptions of prosy reality ; then again, whining 
pathos, or bombast and unreality, every-day common- 
place, affected, sentimentality, knightly brimmers ; 
are found united in August von Kotzebue.f Add to 

• Iffland was bom at Hanover 1759, died at Berlin 1814. His dra- 
matic works fill sixteen volumes. (Leipzig, 1798-1802.) In 1854 ap- 
peared a selection in 10 vols. 

t Bom at Weimar, 1761 j in Russia from 1781 to 1797 ; afterwards 
in Vienna ; sent to Siberia in 1800 ; afterwards in Weimar and Berlin; 


tbese, however, Wieland's voluptuousness and Nicolai's 
frivolltyj and the want of ideas of both, together with 
a little original indecency of his own ; and all this 
dressed up with the most charming impudence, with 
the most dexterous coolness, and you have the staple 
of Kotzebue's poetry. 

It has often been said that jealousy of Goethe and 
Schiller, who had settled in his native town of Weimar, 
induced the talented but vain and shallow Kotzebue to 
produce something that he imagined would throw both 
into the shade. For forty long years he plied this 
trade. It is strange that the Germans, albeit they 
might not discern the vileness of Kotzebue's pieces in 
an ffisthetic point of view, were equally short-sighted 
as to their moral worthlessness. His " Menschen- 
hass und Eeue," (" The Stranger " of the English 
boards,) with its mock feelings and crocodile tears, 
filled all the German theatres from 1789 downwards. 
His other plays, "Die Hussiten vor Naumburg," 
"Johanna von Montfaufon," and " Die Kreuz-fahrer," 
are still acted by strolling players. His farces, — they 
are not worthy of the name of comedies, e. g., " Der 
Wirrwarr," "Der Wildfang," "Der Schauspieler 
wider Willen," — are a thought better. His object here is 
merely to tickle the risible muscles, and this often done 
in miserable fashion, as in " Der Pachter Feldkiimmel." 
Besides two hundred and eleven plays, he perpetrated 

from 1806 to 1813 again in Eussia ; murdered 23rd March, 1819, at 
Mannheim. He wrote his most celebrated pieces from 1785 to 1795, but 
continued his literary labours to his death. The edition of 1827 com- 
prises forty-four vplumesj that of 1840, forty. 

T 3 


some romances, which are fitting counterparts to his 
dramas, e. g. his worthless " Leontine." 

We now begin to branch off into the Wieland School. 
Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter represented the prevailing 
French taste, not with the influence indeed of Wieland, 
but with a certain tact and firmness. Gotha, where he 
resided, was the town of all others where this French 
taste longest prevailed. Gotter was a person of ver- 
satile talents. Like the school of Gleim, he wrote 
Frenchified Anacreontics; like Weisze, he composed 
operettas ; like Gockingk, he imitated Horace's Epis- 
tles; and, in 1770, he combined with Boie to edit the 
" Gottingen Musenalmanach." He also wrote versions 
of French theatre pieces. But even in his lifetime 
he sank into the back-ground, and after his death, in 
1797, was quite forgotten. 

A still more direct influence was exercised by Wie- 
land on the Viennese poet Alxinger, whose " Doolin 
von Mainz" and " Bliomberis" were immediate imita- 
tions of Wieland's " Oberon." These, as well as 
Miiller's " Adalbert der Wilde," found favour with the 
public. But they exhibit the same arbitrary method of 
invention and description that proves so tiresome in 
Wieland. The irony of Wieland, which mars the effect 
of many good passages in his poems, was inherited by 
Aloys Blumauer, a Viennese Jesuit, afterwards a book- 
seller. He employs it without limit in his travesty of 
a part of the " JEneid." Some of his other poems, 
which are conspicuous for smoothness of language and 
easy fluency, are written in this burlesque style; but 


they have more of the real comic about them than his 
"JEneid." Like Wieland, Blumauer labours under 
a paucity of ideas. He was one of those who joined in 
the opposition to Church and Clergy which marked the 
days of the Emperor Joseph II. 

The wantonness of Wieland was imitated by Wilhelm 
Heinse, the author of "Ardinghello." This professes 
to be an " art romance," but it is merely a retrogression 
to the lowest sensuality.* It has been edited anew by 
one of the modern emancipators of the flesh, H. Laube. 
As was mentioned above, Wieland's imitators in this 
direction eventually subside into a puddle of filth, so 
nasty as to alarm their Archetype himself. 

The early works of Moritz August von Thiimmelf 
are quite in Wieland's vein; but his later ones pass 
into the humoristic line of the Hamann and Herder 
SchooL His little work, " Wilhelmine," which was at 
one time much read, is an abortion alike in form and 
matter. The form is a disagreeable sort of poetic prose, 
the matter silly and frivolous facetiae, without a single 
poetic thought. Nicolai's " Sebaldus Nothanker" claims 
to be considered as a continuation of " Wilhelmine." 
The " Inoculation der Liebe" is a poetic tale in 
the most ordinary Wieland style. Thiimmel's " Tra- 

* Heinse was bom 1749 ; died, 1803. To a certain extent he belongs 
to the geniuses of the " Storm Period." His worst productions -were 
those of that time. " Ardinghello," which is a little more tolerable, 
appeared in 1787. 

t Bom, 1738 ; died, 1817. His "Travels in France" appeared in 
ten parts, from 1795 to 1805. His "Wilhelmine," and "Inoculation," 
twenty years earlier. His collective works, comprising his Biography, 
by Gruner, were published last in 1839. 

T 4 


vels in the South of France" was written more than 
twenty years later. It is to some extent an imitation 
of Sterne's "Sentimental Journey;" but the execu- 
tion is original, and the style smooth and elegant. A 
hypochondriac solitary student becomes, by means of a 
long set of amatory adventures, a man of the world and 
a sensualist. Thus far the romance is in the offensive 
style of Wieland, and was, as such, severely censured 
by Schiller. Subsequently there is some didactic 
moralizing to show the impropriety of this part, instead 
of arriving at this conclusion by the development of the 
plot. In fact, the plot negatives the moral. At the 
same time, the work abounds with clever reflections in 
the tone of the Hamann and Herder School. 

And this brings us to consider Hamann further. It 
is not the matter, but the manner of his compositions 
which raises him into importance. In treating of little 
matters he manages to say great things. This art of 
striking sparks out of the most unpromising materials, 
of making uninteresting things interesting, and awaking 
an interest also in the person of the author, was pos- 
sessed likewise by Herder, though in a more universal 
and nobler form. 

The next successor to Hamann in this group of Ger-^ 
man humourists is Theodor Gottlieb von Hippel.* He 
is the author of " Lebenslaufe in aufsteigender Linie " 
and " Ereuz- und Quer- ziige des Eitters A — Z." In 
the former work the elegiac tone predominates. There 

* Born, 1741 ; died, 1796. The "Lebenslaufe" appeared 1779 lo 
1781. The "Kreuz- und Quer- ziige," 1793. His collective works, 
1827-1838, in 14 vols. 


are some excellent descriptions in it. But there is a 
good deal of talk about the unimportant concerns and 
experiences of the writer — a feature perceivable in 
Hamann and the other humourists. The latter work 
is more of a satirical nature, though it never rises high 
enough for genuine satire, and, compared with the 
" Lebenslaufe," it is dull and wearisome. 

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg,* the well-known com- 
mentator on the designs of Hogarth, wrote some smaller 
pieces, much more akin to real satire, e. g., that against 
Lavater, and that against the juggler Philadelphia; 
but he never, with all his projects, could succeed in 
producing a satire on a large scale. The defect with 
him was that he never could make up his mind how to 
view the various great questions of the age. As a com- 
mentator, however, on Hogarth, he was much more in 
his element, and had more scope for fancy and conjec- 
ture. In smoothness of diction, liveliness of descrip- 
tion, and in striking eifects, there are few descriptive 
works in German that surpass this of Lichtenberg's. 

We now come to Jean Paul Friedrich Eichter.f 
There was a section of the reading world which was in 

* Bom at Oberramstadt, near Darmstadt, 1742 j died a Professor at 
Gottingen, 1799. The best of his pieces were -written 1775-1785, chiefly 
for newspapers. They were collected after his death. His " Explana- 
tion of Hogarth," which he left incomplete, appeared 1794-1799. 

f Born 21st March, 1763, at Wunsiedel, and died at Baireuth, 24th 
November, 1825. His first work, " Gronlandische Prozesse," appeared 
1782. Except the "Komet,"]ie wrote nothing of importance after 1808. 
His satirical works are, the " Gron. Prozesse," " Die Auswahl aus den 
Teufels Papieren" (1788), " Des Feldpredigers Schmelzle Eeise nach 
Flatz " (1805), and " Katzenberger's Badereise " (1808), the last of 
which is the best. His other chief works are, " Die unsichtbare Loge " 

T 5 


a strait as to which they should prefer, the very grand 
or the very little ; the ideal or the real ; the elegiac 
tone or that of satire. For them the majestic sweep of 
Goethe's and Schiller's genius was oppressive and 
crushing, and they, therefore, elected to Involve them- 
selves in the soft silver threads of individual feeling. 
And the declared favourite of these people was Richter. 
In him there are many more various elements than in 
the former humourists. The taste for the sentimental, 
with its sweet gentle tones, stuck to him through life, 
and they are clearly heard in his last work, " Selina." 
Like humourists generally, he had no poetic develop- 
ment. His last works are exactly like his first. He is 
essentially the poet of youth ; youth with Its happy 
dreams and extraordinary doubts ; Its idyllic satisfaction 
and far-seeing plans. Its frivolous sports and great ima- 
ginings. All those who, like the poet himself, have 
somewhat of the boy in them their life long, are taken 
with Jean Paul. Others, again, who, as they advance 
in years, affect a more manly style of poetry, cease to 
take an interest in his productions. It has been observed 
that many of his admirers have afterwards become in- 
different to him, but not vice versa. Nobody who has 
read real satire will let him pass as a satirist. He is 

(1793), "Hesperus" (1795), "Quintus Kxlein" (1796), "Titan" 
(1800-1803), "Flegeljahre" (1803-1805). The popular "Blumen- 
Frucht- und Dornstiicke "(1796) are an insignificant affair. His works 
appeared in 1826-1828, in sixty parts, to irhich were added five sup- 
plementary volumes. In 1 840 there was a fresh edition, in thirty-three 
volumes. His "Biography " has been overdone, Spazier, Wahrheit aus 
J. Paul's Lehen, 1826, in eight volumes. Id. "Biographie Eichters,'' 
1833, in five volumes. 


too circuitous and loitering for that. This tendency to 
laggard description is visible alike in the " Gronlan- 
dische Prozessen," in the " Auswahl aus des Teufels 
Papieren," in " Katzenberger," and in " Feldprediger 
Schmelzle," and damages whatever of satire they 

But satire is not his forte. His charm consists in 
that innocent and hearty, that sad and yearning tone of 
his descriptions, — those playful flashes which he flings 
around. The beauty of isolated passages makes the 
reader blind to the defects of the whole. We forget, 
in the many shining traits of his individual characters, 
that scarcely one of these characters is consistently 
worked out, let alone poetically complete. He is 
always full of sentiment, and feeling, and contem- 
plation ; and hardly ever proceeds to action. The 
brilliancy of one passage dazzles our eyes, so that we 
do not perceive that it has around it two or three ob- 
scure ones. "We forget that he heaps up material 
without end, but does not digest it Nay, it is pos- 
sible that this very obscurity, — these dark, incom- 
prehensible hints, — these half-formed conclusions, — 
were the very spell that served to captivate his coun- 
trymen. Like so many children, he made them laugh 
and cry in a breath. In fact, with many, his enigma- 
tical way of writing, provoking as it did the reader's 
curiosity, was the main charm. But all this does not 
raise him to the dignity of an artistic writer. 

He never could master his material, so as to put it 
into artistic shape ; and yet there is hardly a page 
where we do not discover evidence of elaboration and 

T 6 


nicety in the working up of his heterogeneous matter. 
How intolerable is his style after reading the prose 
of Luther, or of Schiller, Lessing, and Goethe I How 
ungraceful that mannerism, that continual pausing, 
digressing, rushing hither and thither I Such an afflu- 
ence of unwrought material, — a style so intricate and 
involved, so full of shreds and patches, are quite at 
variance with the rules of descriptive writing. 

Still we must by no means lose sight of the bene- 
ficial influence exercised by Jean Paul on the middle 
ranks of society in those days of triviality, rudeness, 
and immorality. Many were glad to escape from the 
fever heats and colds of revolutionary agitation to the 
mild warmth of his writings. He saved them, as many 
of them feelingly testify. For half a generation, Jean 
Paul was the sole refuge of German heartiness and 
fervour, of innocence and affection. And were such 
rude, and cold, and desert times to recur, he might 
again prove the haven of repose for the tenderer spirits 
unfitted to cope with the tempest of the world. 

Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann, commonly called 
Amadeus Hoffmann, originally resembled Jean Paul, 
Subsequently, he struck into another line — the wild, 
horrible, and monstrous. Whilst Jean Paul adhered 
to the idyllic, and sought to interweave with every-day 
matters the bright ideals of gentle feeling, the ideals of 
sadness and tenderness, Hoffmann drew out from the 
dark depths of his imagination a flood of horrors, to 
confuse and overwhelm the mind. His " Phantasie- 
stxicken " and " Serapionsbriider," are not bad iu 
point of description ; but his works generally have less 


artistic finish about them than even those of Jean Paul. 
This will apply to " Kater Murr," « Teufelselixir," 
" Nussknacker," and " Mausekonig." * 

The rest of the numerous humourists have this fea- 
ture in connnon, that they all wander far away from 
Goethe, and most of them from Schiller. 

Such are Schummel, Meiszner, Knigge, Gottwerth 
Muller, Benzel-SternaUj Langbein, and others, Ernst 
Wagner's " Wilibald's Ansichten des Lebens " and 
" Keisen aus der Fremde in die Heimat," were once 
favourites in Germany, especially the first. He has 
not the wealth of Jean Paul, but he far surpasses him 
in the capacity for throwing his matter into poetic 
shape. His works sufier most from the practical re- 
marks and plans which he is fond of intruding upon 
the reader. 

As for Gottfried Seume, the burden of all his writings 
is himself, a personage, by the way, anything but rich 
in invention, and by no means agreeable or poetical ; 
on the contrary, very jejune and dry, while his humour 
is very like suppressed rage. 

"We now come to those writers who followed in the 
wake of Goethe and Schiller. And first may be men- 
tioned the fellow-workers of. Goethe in the " Storm 
and Impulse " Period. 

» Hoffmann -was bom at Konigsberg, 1776. He was a Prussian 
functionary in Poland from 1800 to 1806 ; afterwards, till 1814, Direc- 
tor of Music at Bamberg and Dresden ; from 1316 to his death, in 1822, 
Kamraergerichtsrat at Berlin. Hitzig has published (1823, in two 
volumes) an account of his literary labours, which fill up the last quarter 
of his life. 


Of these, Friedrich Maximilian Klinger is the most 
considerable. His wild dramas are in tone so like 
Schiller's, who came out later, that " The Kobbers " 
sounds as if it were the production of a second Klinger, 
and Schiller has been accused, in consequence, of not 
only imitating Klinger generally, but also of borrowing 
certain of his characters. Like Schiller, he endeavoured 
to pourtray " virtuous monsters " or "noble rascals." 
His characters are invariably caricatures, full of a sort 
of unconscious Titanic power, which is displayed in 
frightful phrases and terrible actions. His most fa- 
mous play is the " Zwillinge," mentioned above, 
written in 1774. It won the prize ; but now-a-days, 
nobody would care to read it through. His best 
known drama is " Sturm und. Drang," connected with 
the history of the Scottish kings. It was from this 
piece that the " Genius " Period came to be called by 
the well-known name " Sturm und Drang " Period. 
In 1778, Klinger left the theatre and entered into the 
service of Russia. From this time forward he began to 
be insipid. He still continued to depict the frightful 
and the destructive, reprobate wickedness, and hopeless 
misfortune, not, however, in dramas, but in romances. 
He still described the Titanic power of man in de- 
stroying, in working evil, in supporting calamity ; but 
it was with the coldness of a cynic, the calm of a stoic, 
which regards transactions the most horrible as mere 
every-day occurrences. Of these philosophical ro- 
mances, as we may almost call them, " Fausts Leben, 
Thaten und Hbllenfahrt " ranks first. 


This makes the third member of the "Genius^Period, 
besides Lessing, who had selected this favourite old 
subject. But Klinger's Faust is far inferior to the 
Faust of Goethe, who fought out the mighty struggle 
within. This is a mere contemporary picture, where 
the demoniacal lies in the world without. His romance 
of terror, " Geschichte E.afaels de Aquillas," appeared 
in 1793, and was still read with interest twenty-five 
years later. Both this and "Geschichte Giafars des 
Barmaciden," a similar production, were better liked 
than his Faust. In the " Genius " Period, Klinger used 
to go about Weimar in rags, and Wieland said of him 
that he looked as if he drank lion's blood and ate raw 
flesh. He died February 25, 1831, one year before 
Goethe, having become a Russian Lieutenant-General 
and Curator of the University of Dorpat. 

The painter Mxiller also took up the subject of 
Faust, and treated it quite in the ordinary fashion of 
the period. Faust is meant to represent "a royal 
soul," but aU that he has in common with Goethe's 
Faust is an insatiate taste for enjoyment. In all the 
features of poetic life he widely differs from him. In 
spite of a few happy hits, the piece looks like a mis- 
carried satire. One of his best works is " Genoveva," 
which drew the attention of the Romantic School to 
him when he had been long forgotten. But his best 
works are his Idyls, "Das Nuszkernen," and "Die 
Schafschur," wherein he describes real rustic life, very 
differently from what Geszner did, and in a much more 
sinewy style than Voss, who wrote a little later. 


Indeed, he exhibits not unfrequently sterling popular 

The folly of the " Genius" period is best characterised 
by Philip Hahn's monstrous piece, " Der Aufruhr in 
Pisa." Eeinhold Lenz was one of Goethe's friends in 
Strasburg, but a bad-dispositioned person. Like 
Grabbe, he died in misery and madness, and like him 
he threw together a quantity of heterogeneous matter 
in a rakehelly genial fashion. 

Leopold Wagner of Strasburg, who was also one of 
Goethe's false frieAds in the Strasburg period, is sure 
of immortality. He wrote a satire against Nioolai in 
his dispute with Goethe about " Werther," and also a 
drama, " Die Kindesmorderin," the material of which 
he had purloined from Goethe, who avenged himself 
by making Wagner Faust's famulus in the play. 

At the period when Goethe and Schiller were in 
their glory, a galaxy of •variously gifted and genial 
spirits centered round them at Weimar and Jena. 
Poetry made its influence felt in science, in the plastic 
arts, and in life. From this conjunction of poetry 
with life in those two cities, but more particularly in 
Jena, we do not, it is true, hear of any magnificent 
results. Still the idea had been broached that poetry 
must away from books and the closet, and penetrate 
into society, in order to purge it of all that was low and 

* Friedrich Miiller was bom at Kreuznach, 1750; lived long in 
Rome, and died there 23rd April, 1825. His works appeared separately 
from 1773 to 1781, and were little regarded. ^They were collected iu' 


mean and Philistine-like.* And such an idea must 
needs become prevalent where so many youthful geniuses 
were congregated together. At Jena there were at 
one and the same time Reinhold and Fichte, Schelling 
and Hegel, Woltmann, Thibaut, and Hufeland, Voss, 
the two Humboldts, and the two Schlegels, Steffens and 
Brentano, — all of them teaching and being taught, 
stimulating and striving. 

This idea, in fact, of preaching and restoring the 
unity of poetry with life is the fundamental idea of 
the new school which now arose, and which was called, 
chiefly by its opponents, the Romantic School. Ac- 
cording to this school, a poet was the ideal of the age — 
its supremest power. He it was who ought to make 
all the phenomena of the day, in life, in art, in science, 
his own, assimilate them, and then reproduce them in 
their purest form, — a dogma to be learnt only in the 
examples of Herder, Goethe, and Schiller. 

It was this idea of the unity of poetry and life that 
attached its apostles so warmly to the middle ages. 
They were right in holding up to admiration the days 
of the people's epic, and the Minnesingers of the 
thirteenth century, as a time when their ideal was at 
all events realised in a much higher degree than in the 
period when they were living. Here poetry was an 
afiair of dead papers and dumb reading ; there it was 
life-like, merry song, which accompanied life with its 
clear- sounding music, enlivening all its checkered and 
many-coloured career. This persuasion it was that 

* A term of contempt used by German students for low, common- 
place people. 


stamped itself so vividly on the works of Armin and 
Brentano, and on the brothers Grimm, and led them 
to take such delight in the popular song and legend. 
Further, this school felt a sympathy for poetry of all 
kinds, and therefore made it their particular business 
to reveal all the hidden treasures of Romance poetry, 
and to wed its forms to the German ideas, in the same 
way as the antique form had hitherto been wedded to 
the spirit of German poetry. This idea, however, of 
the unity of poetry with actual life involved the con- 
dition that there should be a unity between the two in 
everything ; in manners, in language, in ends and aims, 
and, above all, a unity in popular religious belief. This 
is what the heads of the school mean by their " sym- 
bolic views of the world ;" they look upon life, that is, 
as the symbol of some great mystery. This it was 
that threw Novalis back so decidedly on religion ; this 
it was that made Friedrich Schlegel a papist ; fancying 
as he did, that this inward unity was an impossibility 
for one holding the Reformed Faith. Finally, it was 
this idea that made the romantic school stand up for 
the old state forms, the time-honoured kingly rule, and 
the fidelity of the vassals, as the immovable symbol of 
all worldly dignity, honour, and grandeur : — notions 
which were, of course, quite incompatible with modern 
ideas, and as such have been stigmatized as hypocrisy, 
Jesuitism, priestcraft, tyranny of mind and conscience, 
and what not. 

There can be no doubt, however, that Germany owes 
much to this school. All the modern lyrics belong to 
it both in form and subject, with the sole exception of 


what is called Tendenz Lyrik, i. e. lyrics with a moral 
tendency. That new science, the History of Literature, 
was first started by it. Sculpture, painting, and phi- 
lology, as pursued by the brothers Grimm, owe a great 
debt to it ; so that, after all, this school has, in accord- 
ance with its principles, to some extent caused poetry 
to penetrate into actual life. It has also done no little 
for sound criticism and the correction of bad taste ; 
and has contributed much towards the just appre- 
ciation of Goethe's poetry. Domestic and family 
romances began at this period to be popular, along 
with the works of Lafontaine, and the theatre was in- 
vaded by the silly sentimentalities of the Burgher 
drama. Of all such affected, unmeaning, untrue emo- 
tion, which they considered the very opposite of true 
poetry, the Komantic School was the sworn foe. They 
ridiculed the soft pictures of nature by a Matthison, 
and laid bare with merciless hand the dramatic trash of 
a Kotzebue. 

Kotzebue and his adherents (Garlieb Merkel, who 
died in 1850, was one of the chiefest) did not shirk 
the contest. While the Romantic School arrayed their 
powers in the " Zeitung f Ur die elegante Welt," the 
stronghold of the Kotzebue party was the " Freimii- 
tigen," a journal which, albeit it was as stale, flat, and 
unprofitable as it well could be, pretended to advocate 
the highest interests of free thought, and even of Pro- 
testantism, as against "the Romanizing tendencies" of 
the Romantics, and took Ulrich von Hutten's portrait 
as its emblem. But besides Kotzebue's lucubrations, 
there was a swarm of other vapidities which were at 


that time in the full swing of popularity. Imitations of 
" Gotz" and "the Robbers" were rife, e.^., Zschokke's 
" Aballino." To which may be added, " Die Lowen- 
ritter," " Rinaldo Einaldini," and the countless other 
products of a Cramer, a Spiess, and a Schlenkert, most 
of which are based upon Wieland. Against this scum, 
which at the end of the last century almost destroyed 
all taste for the poetry of Schiller and Goethe among 
the middle classes, the school of Schlegel and Tieck 
set itself in opposition. Tieck especially was con- 
tinually doing battle against these romances of robbers 
and chivalry. But the Romantic School did not rest 

A. W. Schlegel flew at higher game. He attacked 
Schiller, and pronounced his dramatic figures deficient 
in lively reality, in warmth, and fulness. In them the 
unity of poetry and life seemed to him not io be ac- 
complished. This criticism of his was subsequently 
exaggerated by others of the school, who proceeded to 
inform the public that Schiller was no poet at all. This 
school even went so far as to set itself over Goethe, 
while in Novalis and Tieck it beheld the very revela- 
tion of poetry. 

It has been objected, moreover, to this school, and 
with some reason, that it is not enough natural and real, 
— that its criticism is mere clever playfulness, and too 
full of irony. It cannot be denied that in Tieck's 
" Phantasus" the natural power of fairy-poetry is much 
impaired by the accompanying artistic reflections, and 
by the clever conversations of a set of polite moderns 
that are interspersed. 


The great merit of A. "W. Schlegel lies in his rare 
faculty of adopting and assimilating foreign matter, the 
most considerable proof of which he exhibits in his 
translation of Shakspeare. His original poems are less 
remarkable for matter than for the pure transparency 
and excellence of the forms. Friedrlch Schlegel's 
lyrics are not numerous, but they excel his brother's 
in their fresh power and originality. But where he 

shines most is in the history of literature. He was the 
first to introduce profounder views into this species of 

composition ; indeed, he was the creator of it. His 
juvenile romance, " Lucinde," was defended even by 

Schleiermacher, but of genuine poetry it possesses very 


As for their dramatic attempts, neither the " Ion " 

of the elder, nor the " Alarcos " of the younger brother 

fall within the proper province of the German drama ; 

like the " Iphigenia " of Goethe, they are only dramas 

in form.* 

Novalis (Friedrich von Hardenberg), the friend of 

the Schlegels, though he wrote less, yet exercised an 

• August Wil'helm von Sehlegel was bora at Hanover, Sth Septem- 
ber, 1767 i lived during the period of the rise of the Komantic School 
at Jena ; afterwards in Berlin ; subsequently a good deal in the sooietj- 
of Madame de Staiil ; then at Paris, where he devoted himself to Indian 
literature. From 1818 he was Professor at Bonn, where he died 12th 
May, 1845. His works were collected in 1846. 

His brother, Friedrich, was born 10th March, 1772. When the Eo- 
mantic School began, he was teacher in Jena. After embracing the 
Roman faith, he lived chiefly at Vienna, and died at Dresden, Uth 
January, 1829. His works were collected, 1822, in ten volumes, and 
have frequently been republished. Both brothers wrote their poetical 
works in the latter part of the eighteenth and beginning (Sf the nine- 
teenth centuries. 


influence greater than theirs. He died young. It is only 
to his religious poems, however, that we can ascribe 
any high poetic value. His unfinished romance, 
''Helnrich von Ofterdingen," is an artistic failure. 
It does not so much consist in a life-like portrayal of 
characters, or a series of actions skilfully connected, as 
in a string of arguments. The rest of his writings are 
nothing but a collection of aphorisms and sentences, 
which are often keen and profound, but sometimes 
paradoxical, and not seldom obscure. Nevertheless, 
they have taught the youth of Germany deeper 
and more earnest views of life than they couM find 
among their greatest authors. They serve, to some 
extent, as a sort of commentary on the better- and best 
parts of literature generally. 

Ludwig Tieck was much more of a creative genius 
than his three friends just mentioned. His literary 
career lasted more than fifty years. Commencing 
with novels, he betook himself afterwards to drama- 
writing ; but returned eventually to the novel. His 
earliest works, " Abdallah," and " William Lbvell," 
were the produce of a period when his views were 
undeveloped. Like his last work, " Victoria Ac- 
corombona," there is a gloomy character about them, 
and they move in the oppressive atmosphere of un- 
softened passion. His " Franz Sternbald," which was 
supposed to be the joint work of Tieck and his friend 
Wackenroder, is, according to Tieck's own assurance, 
his own sole composition. Though unfinished, it is 
considered one of the best German " Art Romances," 
and has done much towards awakening a correct taste 


in art. His " Peter Lebrecht," " Gestiefelter Kater," 
" Prinz Zerbino," " Verkehrte Welt/' and especially 
his excellent dramas, " Leben und Tod Der Heiligen 
Genoveva/' " Fortunatus," and " Kaiser Octavianus," 
are ajl directed against the preposterous tendencies of 
the period. Here he attacks those shameful parodies 
of the Middle Ages, the stupid dramas and romances 
about knights and robbers, as well as the soft senti- 
mentality and trumpery common-place of the house 
and family romances. The three last-mentioned works 
are allowed to be the chef-dCceuvres of E-omantic 

In the " Phantasus," which is perhaps his most 
popular work, he dresses up with great skill and deli- 
cacy those capital old popular sagas of " Magelone " 
" Getreuer Eckart " and " Eothkappchen," ("Ked Eiding- 
hood.") The novels which he wrote in the last twenty 
years of his life, e. g., " Der Aufruhr in den Cevennen," 
" Das Dichterleben," are by many considered superior 
to his earlier poetic compositions — a judgment in which 
posterity will hardly coincide. 

His latest novels, " Der junge Tischlermeister," and 
" Victoria Accorombona," have not added to his fame. 
He rendered good service to the German drama by his 
" Dramaturgische Blatter," and " Deutsches Theater,'' 
and also by his participation in A. W. Schlegel's trans- 
lation of Shakspeare. He was also the first to make 
his countrymen acquainted with the spirit of the Min- 
nesingers by his translations and versions.* 

» Tieck was born 3Ist May, 1773, at Berlin, and died there 28th 
April, 1853. His earliest works, " Abdallah " (1795), and "William 


Ludwig Joachim (or Achim) von Arnlnij and Cle- 
mens Brentano, also laboured in the same cause, but in 
a different manner, viz., by editing afresh, rendering, 
and imitating the popular lyrics of the sixteenth cen- 
tury. Their " Wunderhorn " stands pre-eminent *in its 
way. In their other works, which are chiefly prose, 
there is a certain want of form, which detracts from the 
interest. It is seldom that Arnim, still seldomer that 
Brentano, finishes his story in the spirit in which it 
began. Brentano's best work is his latest, " Gockel 
Hinkel and Gackeleia;" which, in a delicate appre- 
hension of nature-life, is one of the best things in 
the language. The simplicity and fervour of this 
" Marchen " is with difficulty appreciated in these 
unquiet days.* 

In her romance, " Goethe's Briefwechsel mit einem 
Kinde," Bettina, the sister of Brentano, and wife of 
Arnim, has realised, with no little originality and skill, 
the old doctrine of the school, " the restoration of the 
unity between poetry and life." The life here described 
is so thoroughly imbued with the spirit of poetry, that 

Lovell" (1795), remind us, partly of the " Genius Period" of twenty- 
years before, partly of Heinse. His polemical works against the preva- 
lent unpoetio tendencies of the times, viz., " Peter Leberecht," " Gestie- 
felter Kater," and "Zerbino," date from 1797 to 1799. Then follow 
his romances, 1799. Then"Der Kaiser Octavianus," and in 1812 
" Phantasus." His collection of German Minnelieder appeared in 1803, 
and in 1812 his version of XJIrich Ton Liechtenstein's " Prauendienst" 
His lyrics were written during the same period as his romances. 

* Arnim was born 26th January, 1781, at Berlin, and died at Wie- 
persdorf, 21st January, 1831. Brentano was born at Prankfort-on-the- 
Maine, 1777 ; died at Aschaffenburg, 28th July, 1842. His posthumous 
works, published by Gorres, are not more important than those which he 
himself published. 


the reader fancies himself transported to the days of 
the Minnesingers, when life was poetry and poetry was 
life. The notion that this book was a recital of his- 
torical transactions has been detrimental to its fame. 

Friedrich Baron de la Motte Fouqud * endeavoured 
to represent the spirit of ancient chivalry in nobler 
forms than did the clumsy writers of the earlier chi- 
valric romances. In spite of the animadversions passed 
upon him, it may with truth be affirmed that Fouqud, 
although at times he is fantastic and vague, has tho- 
roughly succeeded in resuscitating poetically those 
merry days of chivalry and song at the end of the 
twelfth century. This applies especially to his " Zau- 
berringj" " Theodolf der Islander," and the beautiful 
tale " Undine." His poetry, though often felicitous, is 
not equal to his prose ; partly in consequence of his 
venturing to regions above his capacity, e. g. in " Sigurd 
der Schlangentodter." 

The remaining members of the Romantic school are 
now forgotten, e. g. A. F. Bernhardi, the brother- 
in-law of Tieck, Wilhelm Neumann, Alexander von 
Blomberg, Friedrich Krug von Nidda. The same is 
true of Karl Borromaus von Miltiz and Ernst von 
der Malsburg, the translator of Spanish dramas, al- 
though at one time these two were very popular. For- 
gotten, too, is Otto Heinrich Count von Loben, the 
effeminate and high-flown " Isidorus Orientalis." It is 
far otherwise with Karl Lappe, and also with Joseph v. 
Eiohendorf, whose poems and stories, and his " Leben 

* Bom at Brandenburg, 1777 ; died at Berlin, 23rd January, 1844. 
His " Zauterring " appeared in 1 815. 



eines Taugenichts," in heartfelt truth, surpass all the 
productions of the older Romantic School.* 

There are two writers who, though they were not 
regular members of the school, wrote in the spirit of it, 
especially lyrics. These are Friedrich Holderlin, whose 
mind was early obscured by the darkness of insanity, 
and Ernst Schulze, the poet of the " Bezauberte Kose " 
and " Cacilie." In his early poems Holderlin imitated 
SchiUer, and in theory espoused the dogmas of the 
Schlegel School, traces of which may be found in not 
a few of his poems. His peculiarity is that he does 
not, like the other romanticists, go back to the old 
national life of the Germans, but to the ancient Hel- 
lenism. He seeks to reconcile these two diametrical 
opposites, the reality of Greek life and the reality of 
modern life, and herein he betrays symptoms of that 
inward disunion which, in his thirty-second year, grew 
into insanity. In many of his poems he has attained 
to the pure antique form. The subject-matter, too, is 
often attractiye, the description clear and graceful, and 
the deep tone of sadness which pervades the whole is 
not without its charm. 

Like Holderlin, Ernst Schulze was the victim of an 
unhappy passion. A low, soft plaint pervades all his 
poetry, prophetic almost of his early death. So musical 
are his verses that he has been compared to the Minne- 
singers. In point of matter, his lyrics are much to be 
preferred to his romantic stories, "Die bezauberte 
Eose," and " Cacilie," which are artificial in sentiment, 

* For an account of the more important personages of the Romantic 
School, see " Briefe an Pouque," edited by Albertine t. Fouque, -with 
preface, &c., by Kletke, 1847. 


and want life and action ; while their sweetness is 
cloying, and monotony fatiguing. 

Chamisso, although a Frenchman by birth, was an 
admirable German poet. In point of form, his lyrics 
are quite in the style of the Romantic School. "With 
his " Schloss Boncourt '' few modern German lyrics can 
compare. Like Schlegel's School, he made it his task to 
appropriate and imitate foreign models ; and he did so 
with success. He even wrote verses in the Malay 
form, while, in his " Salas y Gomez," he strikes into 
the long-neglected walk of poetic narrative — a direc- 
tion in which none but Annette Droste has ventured 
to follow him. In his well-known " Peter Schlemhil " 
he has clothed in poetic forms the grief that he himself 
had experienced as an exile from his fatherland.* 

The time is not yet come to enter into a detailed 
account of the succeeding writers. A few outlines 
must suffice. 

Justinus Kerner caught, more than any of his 
contemporaries, the plaintive, passionate tone of the 
popular lay (Volbslied). His song, " Wolauf noch 
getrunken den funkelnden Wein," well portrays the 
German's desire to roam, and his love of home. Few 

* Louis Charles Adelaide de Chamisso de Boncourt, or, as he called 
himself, Adalbert von Chamisso, was born at the Castle of Boncourt, in 
Champagne, 27th January, 1781. Driven away by the Revolution, he 
went to Berlin, and was for ten years in the military service of Prussia. 
After studying in Berlin, he went, as naturalist, on the Eomauzow 
voyage of discovery, on board the Rurik. Subsequently, he was curator 
of the Botanical Garden at Berlin, and died 21st August, 1838. Before 
his travels, he was a thorough disciple of the romantic school, which 
then existed iu Berlin. " Peter Schlemhil " appeared in 1814. Most of 
his lyrics were written in the last ten years of his life. His works 
were published by Hitzig, in six volumes, in 1838. 

z 2 


writers have written songs so melodious — so made for 
singing — as he ; few are so seducing and touching. 

Uhland has pierced deep into the hearts of the youth 
of Germany with his poems on the history and legen- 
dary lore of his country. Keeping clear of the dreamy 
exaggeration which clung to the nationalism of the 
older romanticists, his songs are, like his sentiments, 
true, and his poetic figures real. 

Gustav Schwab is also a writer in the national vein, 
but with less marked character than Uhland. Like 
Kerner, he has made his countrymen familiar with the 
poetic sounds of the legend, and both of them surpass 
the older [Romantic School in truth of feeling and sim- 
plicity of portraiture. Schwab has also written poems 
of an earnest and religious cast, which have been 
imitated by Griineisen, Knapp, Stier, Spitta, and 
Victor Strauss. These serious poems are, however, 
more calculated for private than public use. 

Karl Simrock, who has been mentioned in the 
earlier part of this work, has devoted his talents to the 
old popular heroic poems. Sohie of these he has retold ■; 
while, in other cases, he has managed, out of long- 
forgotten sagas, to create new poems upon the ancient 
pattern, e. g. " Wieland der Schmid." 

Wilhelm Hauff, who died young, also wrote in the 
same line, but with too much youthful sentimentality. 
Far superior to him is August Heinrich Hofmann (von 
Fallersleben), who, in his songs of the German Lands- 
knechts, reproduced with marvellous felicity the best 
elements of the old popular lay of Germany. It is to 
be regretted that he has not gone on in this line, for 
which he has so remarkable a talent. 


Other, but less distinguished, writers in the national 
tone are the Swabians, Mayer, Gustav Pfizer, and 
Morite, the brothers August and Adolf Stober of 
Alsace, and the Austrians, Vogl, Seidl, and Draxler- 

Wackernagel, who has cultivated his talents by the 
study of the German Poetry of the olden time; Kopisch, 
the humourous lyrist ; Robert Reinick, a master in 
the naive and arch love-song ; Franz Gaudy, whose 
" Liebeslieder" are far better than his " Kaiser- 
lieder;" Freiligrath, who writes with clearness and 
sharpness of perception, but whos6 brilliant colouring 
often becomes glaring, who abounds in rhetoric and 
rhyme, while, at times, he falls into great harshness of 
expression ; and, lastly, Emanuel Geibel ; — all of these 
possess no little originality and poetic capacity. The 
delicacy and finely drawn figures of the lastTinentioned 
writer, his deep and heartfelt tones, render him one 
of the most notable poets of the day. 

But in originality of form and matter, most of the 
moderns are excelled by a lady — perhaps the only real 
poetess Germany ever produced — Anna Elizabet von 
Droste-Hiilshoff.* In her lyric poems she speaks out, 
with the sharp accents of truth, the deepest experiences 
of the pure female mind ; while her poetic tales are 
among the very best of the present age. Though in 
expression she may at times not be sufficiently clear, 
yet the subjects she selects are invariably poetical and 
noble, and often grand. 

* Bom at Miinster, and died, 24th May, 1848, at Meersburg, on the 
Lake of Constance, aged 51. Her poems, all written in the latter years 
of her life, were first published 1838, then 1844. 

z 3 


Giesebrecht is the poet of the serious and sincere 
side of German domestic life. Zedlitz is the poet of 
modern elegy, in his " Todtenkranzen, which have not 
met with the fame they deserve. He was, however, 
one of the first of his countrymen to write verses in 
honour of Napoleon. His " Waldfraulein" is quite in 
the elder romantic line. Wolfgang Menzel's " Riibe- 
zahl" is likewise in the earlier romantic mode. He 
has a great talent for description, and writes the most 
melodious verses, in language the morst correct. Not 
less noteworthy is "Wilhelm Miiller *, the poet of Greek 
liberty. The sweet strains of his " Keisender Wald- 
hornist" were soon followed by the deep, piercing notes 
of the Greek songs, which set all the world on fire, 
emanating, as they did, from a rare and genuine 

We now arrive at the transition from this old state 
of things, with its calm content; its delight in the 
ancient glories, actual and poetical, of Germany, and 
in its liberation from a foreign yoke ; and we pass to 
the new state of things, with its uneasy expectation 
and discontent. The men of this transition are Ana- 
stasius Griin (Anton Alexander Count Auersberg) 
and Nikolaus Lenau (Nikolaus Nimbsch von Streh- 
lenau).t The former, in his "Blatter der Liebe," half 

* The father of the present learned Taylor Professor of Modern 
Languages in the University of Oxford Editor. 

t Born, 1802, in Hungary. He -was one of those visionary and uneasy 
geniuses -who, in this life, look for a Utopia. Like HolderUn, he became 
deranged, and died in a madhouse, at Vienna, 22nd August, 1850. He 
published his collected poems, 1834. "Faust" appeared, 1837j "Savo- 
narola," 1838; "Die Albigenser," 1842. 

Died at Paris, 1S56.— Editor. 


imitates the usual tone of the Austrian poets, and half 
the playful manner of Heine. He soon, however, 
betook himself to national poetry, e. g. in " Der letzte 
Eiitter," and then to political poetry, in the " Spazier- 
gange eines Wiener Poeten," and in " Schutt." His 
style is always firm and noble, but not always flexible. 
His " Nibelungen in Track" bespeaks him to be no 
mean humorist. In thought and form Lenau is much 
less firm. His lyrics owe their reputation more to the 
interest of the moment than to any intrinsic merit. 
His "Faust" is confused, and his "Savonarola" and 
" Albigenser " good only in parts. 

Like the above, Heinrich Heine issued from the 
Eomantic School. But he soon adopted another tone, 
which was anything but beneficial to the cause of 
poetry. Remarkably deep poetic perception, with the 
most superficial frivolity, an unconstrained ease of ex- 
pression, accommodating itself to the subject with the 
most charming readiness ; and, on the other hand, not 
unfrequently, utter negligence and slovenliness of com- 
position, — such were his characteristics throughout. 
He has too lately passed away to admit of a final 
judgment being given upon him and his transient 
Aweary-of-the-world School ; but there is no doubt 
that posterity will judge of him as they judged of 
Biirger, that he was endowed with excellent points, 
nay, with almost a creative genius, which was ruined 
for want of moderation. 

The drama of the Schlegel School is represented by 
Matthaus von Collin, Heinrich von Kleist, who died 
early by his own hand, and Adam Oehlenschlager, the 
Dane. The first of these, albeit he makes a laudable 

Z 4 


attempt to place before us great historic characters, 
■yvith a grand historic . background, yet fails to infuse 
into his pieces the requisite quantum of life and move- 
ment. "With Lessing's "Minna" or Goethe's "Gotz" 
we cannot compare them; and they fall short of Schil- 
ler's "Wallenstein." 

Kleist's "Katchen von Heilbronn" and "Prinz von 
Hombui-g" are known on the German stage, and indicate 
considerable, but uncertain and undeveloped talent. 

The translations of Spanish dramas made by the 
successors of the Romantic School are a mistake. Not 
much can be said in praise of their own national plays. 
One of the best of these is Uhland's "Ernst von 
Schwaben," which handles the very ancient national 
legend that has been already mentioned. This piece 
has some good national colouring, and the old fidelity 
between Ernst and Wernher is well brought out. 
The other characters, however, lack individuality, and 
the transactions sufficient motive ; while the action is 
less regarded than the speech-making. Immermann's 
"Hofer" wants the proper poetic distance of events to 
make it dramatically effective. 

In his earlier dramas, " Die Sohne des Thales " (at 
least in the first part of it, " Die Templar auf Cypem"), 
"■ Das Kreuz an der Ostsee, " and " Martin Luther, " 
Zacharias Werner gave promise of a poetic realisation 
of the tenets of the New School.* In "Luther," 

* Frieiirich Ludwig Zacharias Werner born, 1768, at Konigsburg; 
died, 18^3, at Vienna. He ■wrote his early works during his residence 
at Warsaw, where he led a very dissolute hfe. In 1811 he turned 
Papist, at Eome; and a little afterwards wrote his "24th February," 
In 1814 he became a priest, and favourite preacher at Vienna. Not 
long before his death he joined the order of the Eedemptorists. A 


however, the matter and the manner become obscure. 
His " Der vier-und-zwanzigste Februar" is much more 
famous. This is the first of those "Tragedies of 
Fate/' afterwards so notorious, with which Houwald, 
Milliner, and Gi:illparzer invaded the stage. These, 
to wit, such plays as Milliner's " Schuld," about which 
all the world at one time raved, and Grillparzer's 
" Ahnfrau/' are the very counterpart of true poetry. 
The hollow pathos of these "Dramas of Fate/' no 
doubt, put Kotzebue to flight; but for thirty years 
they blocked up the way to anything better. Indeed, 
even now, the favour bestowed on such unpoetical 
pieces as Miinch-Bellinghausen's " Griseldis" evidences 
a depraved taste. 

The next group that remains to be mentioned after 
the Eomantic School, are the Patriotic poets of 1813, 
who are intimately allied with Kerner, Uhland, and 
Schwab. Foremost stands old Arndt, a native of the 
Island of Riigen, who has written songs which once 
enraptured and inflamed the hearts of Germany. 
Occasional songs, such as his " Was ist des Deutschen 
Vaterland," " Der Gott der Eisen wachsen liess," 
"Was schmettern die Trompeten? Husaren heraus," 
have not been equalled since the sixteenth century. 
Their greatest merit is that they spoke out the best 
feelings of the time, — a time such as Germany had 
not seen since the sixteenth century, — with perfect 
truth and without exaggeration and phrase. Since the 
ditties on the battle of Pavia, no war ditties have ever 

biography of him was published by Hitzig, 1823. A selection of his 
works appeared in 1841. 


been sung with such heart and soul as his, and so long 
as the glory and the joy 6f 1813 are remembered, so 
long will the memory of the old Bard of RUgen be 
retained by his countrymen. 

Theodor Komer, the poet of the "Leier und 
Schwert/' must next be mentioned. His poems have 
not the poetic force and truth of Arndt's. They 
smack of the rhetorical element, which, soon after the 
war of liberty, pervaded practical life among the youth 
of Germany. Still in those days they penetrated to the 
very hearts of his countrymen, and resounded among 
the ranks of those who were fighting for their father- 
land. Such were " Liitzow's wilde Jagd," " Manner 
und Buben," " Der Schwert," and " Die Eisenbraut," 
which he wrote a few moments before he met his 
death at Wcibbelin by the bullet of Franz the Musketeer, 
who still survives. 

His dramas are mere copies from Schiller. Still 
they are not unsuccessful ones, especially " Zriny," 
which in spite of all its exaggerations, has a fine 
historic back-ground. 

In Max von Schenkendorf's poems there is an in- 
fusion of Christian piety, which reminds us qf Novalis. 
His tone is not so much one of exultation in the battle 
and the victory, as of love for home and fatherland. 
His song " Von den deutschen Stadten," his " Bauern- 
lied," his " Erhebt euch von der Erde, ihr Schlafer aus 
der Euh," and above all those to the Empress Maria 
Ludovica Beatrix of Austria, must ever rank high in 
the field of poetry.* 

* Friedrich Gottfried Maximilian von Schenkendorf -was born at 
Tilsit, nth December, 1784; died at Coblentz, Uth December, 1819. 


Tn his " Geharniscbte Sonnetten," Friedrich Kiickert 
struck a key which people were not accustomed to in 
sonnet-writing. Subsequently, he devoted himself to 
Oriental studies, which was the latest poetical field of 
Goethe ; and he has here, we must confess, exhibited 
an incomparable mastery of language, although we may 
not approve of the choice of the subject. 

But his other poems, which are exceedingly nu- 
merbus, have a life and variety, a tenderness and 
fervour, and frequently a depth and earnestness, which 
stamp them as among the most important poetic pro- 
ducts of the period. 

Of these later poets, Count August Platen is the 
greatest master of form.* But his poems are too 
estranged from German thought, German love and 
life ; too bad-tempered, too cold and smooth, too arti- 
ficial, ever to become thoroughly popular. 

These defects are most frequent and most striking 
in his sonnets and odes, which, nevertheless, contain 
great poetic beauties. Still, as a master of poetic forms, 
of versification and metre, he has not his equal in the 
language. His poems are among the richest in great 
thoughts of modern times ; while in his dramas, " Der 
Schatz der Eampsinit," " Die verhangnisvoUe Gabel," 

His best poems are in his " yaterlandslieder," 1815, and his "Nachlass" 
(posthumous works), 1832. A collected edition of his poems appeared 
in 1837. 

* Count Platen-Hallermiinde -was horn at Anshach, 1796. Formerly 
a Bavarian ofScer ; suhsequently studied philosophy and philology, and, 
after 1826, chiefly resided in Italy. He died at Syracuse, 5th December, 
1835. His " Polenlieder " are not given in the collective edition of his 
works. They were printed in Strasburg, and were at one time much 
thought of; but they are far behind his other poems. 

z 6 


and " Der romantische CEdipus," he chastises the bad 
taste of his contemporaries with marvellous power. 
His other dramas, "Der Glaserne Pantoffell," in which 
he treats the fairy world almost in the fashion of 
Tieck, " Der Thurm von sieben Pforten," " Berengar," 
and " Treue um Treue," are pre-eminent in point of 
form ; but less so in sxibject-matter and treatment. 
His last drama, " Die Liga von Cambrai," shows that 
he had passed his zenith as a writer before the year 
1832. It is a mere sketch, full of speeches and de- 
void of action. Of Platen's other poems, some of his 
ballads, and his " Eclogues and Idyls," are most likely 
to endure ; while his agreeable and artistic fairy 
tale "Die Abbasiden," which the poet, singularly 
enough, considered to be his best work, is a mere play 
of the phantasy, of very fleeting interest. His best 
work, " Der romantische CEdipus," is spoilt by the 
undeserved satire it contains upon the poet Karl 
Immermann, who died five years after Platen. 

Immermann's name will be the last on our list, for 
his poetical romance, " Miinchhausen,'' is the only one 
of real artistic value that these times have produced.* 

* Karl Leberecht Immermann was born at Magdeburg, 1 796 ; died at 
Diisseldorf, 26th August, 1840. His " Miinehhausen," iu four volumes 
is his last complete work. " Tristan und Isolde "was never finished, 
and is, poetically, of no account. He and Platen are the only writers 
who have succeeded in treating some phases of the times satirically. 
TheHofschulze, and other characters in " Miinehhausen," indicate a deep 
and delicate sense for German nature-life on the part of the author. 



Abenteuer, tales of fancy, 230. 

" Abenteuerliehe Simplicissimus," by 

Grimmelshausen, 361. 
Abgesangi a division of the strophe, 

Adelung, compiler of the German 

Dictionary, 4. 
" ^neas," an art-epic by Veldekin, 

108, 147. 
jSneid of Virgil, best known art- 
epic, 39. 
"Aeyquam, or the Great Mogul," 

by Hagdorn, 3S8. 
'*Alberich von Bisenzun," poem 

of, 144. 
Albert, Heinrich, 328. 
Alberus, Erasmus, didactic fables 

of, 278. 
Albrecht von Scharfenberg, 133. 
"Alexander the Great," an art-epic, 

— — , German legend of, not based 

on history, 142. 
, version of, by Priest Lam- 

precht the best, 143. 
, experiences of the Crusaders 

embodied in, 144. 

, sketch of the poem, 145. 

Allegorical poems of 14th and 15th 

centuries, 228. 
AUegoric-Satirio-Animal poem, 275. 
Alliterative verse, the ancient Ger- 
man form ol versification, IS. 

. , specimens of, 16. 

, reasons for its disuse, 19. 

Alsace, the home of German satire, 


Ancient German legends, S. 

, why distasteful to Christian 

notions, 18. 

, modifications and alterations 

of, 20. 

Ancient German heroic poems, 7. 

, disappear in the 9th cen- 
tury, 20. 

Angelus Silesius, 336. 

Animal-epic of 1 6th century, 275. 

Animal-fable distinct from Animal- 
epic, 190. 

, writers of, in 13th centurv, 


, writers of, in 16th century, 


Animal-sagas, whence derived, 184. 

, indigenous to Germany, 185. 

, the names of, German, 186. 

, French influence on, 186. 

, localisation of, 187. 

, first committed to writing in 

the Netherlands, 187. 

, passed over to France, 188. 

Animals, superstitious regard of, by 
the ancient Germans, 185. 

" Annolied," the, account of, 165. 

"ApoUonius of Tyre," a poem of 
the 15th century, 229. 

" Apophthegmata," by Zinkgraf, 328. 

Architecture and painting in 14th 
and 15th centuries, 217. 

Arminius, memory of, preserved by 
Tacitus, 5. 

" Arminius and Thusnelda " by I.o- 
henstein, 357. 

Arndt, the old Bard of Riigen, 513. 

Arnim, Ludwig von, 504. 

Art-epic, 39. 



Art-epic, ^neidofVirgil best known, 

Art- epics of old period, 107. 
, the oldest prototypes of the 

modern romance, 350. 

, 5 principal groups of, 107, 108. 

, 1st group French sagas about 

Charlemagne, 109, 
, 2nd group " Der Heilige 

Gral, &c., 117. 
, Srd group " King Artus," &c., 

, 4th group, antique poems and 

sagas, 142. 

, 5th group, church legends, 1 50. 

, Stories not connected with 

these groups, 165. 
Art-lyric, or Minne poetry, 194. 
Art-poetry mainly the production of 

emperors and kings, 36. 

, also called court-poetry, 37. 

, form of, 37. 

, decline of, 328. 

Artus-Saga, poems of the, 140. 

, high estimation of, 142, 

"Assenat," romance by Ton Zesen, 

353, 354. 
"Asiatische Banise, &c." by von 

Ziegler and Kliphausen, 356. 
Attila, hero of the 4th saga group, 

Aventuriers, histories of the, 360. 


" Barden-gebriill," 469. 

Bards not known amongst the an- 
cient Germans, 13. 

, so-called, inspired by Klop- 

stock's poetry, 468. 

the forerunners of the " Genius- 
period," 469 71. 

" Barlaam and Josaphat," poem by 
Eudolph von Ems, 156, 157. 

Barthold Feind, 344 n. 

" Belustigungen des Verstandes und 
Witzes," 371,375. 

" Beovulf," ancient heroic poem in 
Anglo-Saxon, 12. 

, Christian additions to, 20. 

Berner Ton, a form of national 
poetry, 36. 

Berner Ton, why so called, 36. 

Bernlef, minstrel of the Sth cen- 
tury, 15. 

" Bescheidenheit des Freidank," a 
didactic poem, 191. 

Berthold the Franciscan monk, ser- 
mons pf, 215. 

Bertolt von Holle, poems of, 175. 

Bible, translation of the, by Ulfilas, 
the oldest monument of German 
literature, I. 

, Luther's translation of the, 

transformed the German language, 

" Blenenkorb " by Fischart, 295. 

" Biterolf und Dietlieb," Old Ger- 
man epic, 39. 

Blank verse introduced by Klop- 
stock, 395. 

Blumauer, his poems, 486. 

Boccacio, composition of novels in- 
troduced by, 352. 

Bodmer contrasted with Gottsched, 

, his contest with Gottsched, 

, various works of, 369. 

, his eccentricities, 384. 

Bohse, August, 358. 

Boner, fables by, 190, 369. 

Brandanus, 228. 

Brant, Sebastian, satirist, 291. 

" Braut von Messina," tragedy by 
Schiller, 460. 

Brentano, Clemens, 504. 

Brockes, Barthold Heinrich, 349. 

Bronner, Xaver, 471. 

Biirger, 472, 473. 

, his sonnets, 474. 

Burgundian series of, Sagas, 42. 

Burkhard Waldis, 191, 282. 

, his fables, 278. 

Canitz, 348. 

" Catalogus Catalogorum " by Fi- 
schart, 296. 

Chamisso, 507. 

Charlemagne, collection of German 
lays by, 8. 

, Sagas of, represented by the 

" Rolandslied," 109. 



" Cherilbinischer Wandersmann," by 

Soheffer, 336. 
Christian Church, its influence on 

German poetry in 12th and 13th 

centuries, SO. 
" Christian Romance," 355. 
Christianity antagonistic to the old 

German poetry, 18. 
, how suited to the German 

character, 3 1 . 
Chronicles, prose historic, of the 14th 

and 15th centuries, 208. 
and historic poems, art-epics, 

Church hymns, 283. 
— — disappeared with the 17th cen- 
tury, 334. 
Church legends, ISO. 
Classic poetry introduced into Ger- 
many by Melissus, 282. 
Classics, Greek and Roman, their 

Influence on German literature, 

224, 265. 
Claudius, Matthias, his works, 478, 

479 n. 
Clergy and laity, their position in 

13th century shown in " PfafTe 

Amis," 182. 
Codex Argenteus, 3. 
" Codrus," tragedy by von Cronegk, 

Collin, Matthaus von, 512. 
Comedies of Weisse, 387. 
Comedy, 256, 264. 

, origin of, 289. 

Comic works of the 16th century, 

" Count Rudolf," romance, 29. 
Cramer, 376, 379. 
" Crane," poem by Bertolt von Holle, 

" Crescentia," story of, 170. 
Crusades, revival of poetry in Ger- 
many at the time of the, 27, 31. 
Crusaders, their experience embodied 

in the Saga "Alexander the Great," 



Dach, Simon, 328. 

" Daniel von Blumenthal," 141 n. 

" Darifant," by Von Holle, 175. 
" Das Alte Passional," legendary 

poem, 227 n. 
" Das gliickhafl: Schiff von Zilrioh," 

by Fischart, 274. 
" Das Vierhbrnige Jesuiterhiitlein," 

Fischart, 296. •< 

Decay of poetry in the 14th and 

15th centuries, 216. 

, causes of, 217. 

Deistical tendency of romances of 

17th century, 360. 
notions regarding the Old Tes- 
tament exploded by Herder, 426. 
" Demantin," by Von HoJle, 175. 
Denis, his works, 469. 
" Der Aufruhr in Pisa," by Hahn, 

" Der arme Heinrich," by Hart- 

mann, 171. 
" Der Friihiing," by Kleist, 416. 
" Der Heilige Gregor auf dem 

Steine," church legend, by Hart- 

mann, 156. 
" Der Heilige Gral," art-epic, 107. 
" Der Gute Gerhard," by Rudolph 

von Ems, 173. 
" Der Romantische CEdipus," by 

Platen, 516. 
" Der treue Eokart," by RingwaUl, 

" Der ungenahete Rock Christi," 

church legend, 163. 
" Der Weisskunig," by Maximi- 
lian I., 258. 
Devotional works of 14th and 15th 

centuries, 260. 

poems of 1 6th century, 278. 

" Diohterbund," of Gbttingen, 472. 
Didactic-ascetic-piose, 259. 
Didactic poetry, 191, 249. 
" Die Deutsche Poeterei," by Opitz, 

" Die Kindheit unseresHerrn," 155. 
" Die lautere Warheit," by Ring- 

" Die Rauber," by Schiller, 453. 
" Die Welt," a collection of fables, 

by Strieker, 190. 
Dietmar von Eist, specimen of Minne 

poetry by, 201. 
Dietrich of Bern, hero of the East- 
Gothic sagas, 42. 



Dietrich, his fight with the Bur- 

gundians, 80. 

, poems relating to, 88, 91 , 92. 

, legend of, 92. 

" Die Insel Felsenburg," by Schna- 

bel, 360. 
" Don Carlos," by Schiller, 456. 
Drama, Lessing the model of, 404. 
Dramas of Goethe, 450. 

, religious, 253. 

Dramatic poetry, origin of German, 

Dramatists of the ISlh century, 

" Drei Erznarren," satiric romance, 

DroUinger, 350. 
Droste-Hiilshoflfvon, her lyric poem 



East-Gothic series of sagas, 42. 

Easter plays, 253. 

Ebert, Johann Arnold, 376. 

, his translations, 385. 

" Ecken Ausfart," Old German epic, 


, written in the Betner Ton, 88. 

, sketch of the poem, 88. 
" Edelstein," by Boner, the oldest 

printed German book, 190. 
" Egmont," by Goethe, 442. 
Eichendorf, J. von, 505. 
Eilhart von Oberg, 138 7j. 
" Emilia Galotti," by Lessing, a 

model of tragic form, 405. 
" Empfahen," a specimen of transi- 
tion from the Minnelied to the 

Volkslied, 246. 
Engel, Johann Jacob, 482. 
Epigrams of Kastner, 384. 

Von Logau, 825. 

Epithets, importance attached to, in 

17th centnry, 314. 
Erasmus Alberus, 191. 
" Erec," art-epic, by Hartmann, 

108, 139 n. 
" Ernst von Schwaben," by Uhland, 

" Erwin und Elmire," opera by 

Goethe, 450. 

Etzel, King of the Huns, hero of 

the Niebelungenlied, 64. 
" Eulenspiegel," 303. 
" Evangelical Church Hymn " of 

the 16th century, 382. 
of the 17th century, 331. 


Fable distinct from epic, 190. 

, didactic, 278. 

writers of the new period, 379, 

Fables of Hagedorn, 373. 

of Gellert, 377. * 

of Lichtwer, 380. 

Fastnachtspiele, first specimen of 

comedy, 256. 
Faust, Dr., legend of, 305. 
" Faust," Goethe's, 442. 

, Klinger's, 495. 

, Miiller's, 495. 

Fidelity the characteristic of Ger- 
man epics, 39. 
Fischart, 264, 274. p 

, didactic poems of, 279. 

, satirical works of, 295. 

, his peculiarity of style, 297. 

Flemming, 321, 322 k. 

" Flohatz," comic poem by Fischart, 

" Flos and Blankflos,*' art-epic of 

the Carlovingian sagas, 117. 
Folz, Hans, a comic writer, 256. 
Form for national poetry, 35. 

for artistic narrative poetry,37. 

for lyrics, 37. 

" Fortunatus," by Tieek, 503. 

Fouque, 505. 

, his "Magic Ring," whence 

taken, 92. 
, his " Undine," whence derived, 

Frank, Sebastian, 308. 
Franke, pietist school of, 343. 

, influence of, 347. 

" Frantz Sternbald," by Tieck, 502. 
Frauendienst division of Minne 

poetry, 199, 
"Frauendienst," by Von Lichten- 

stein, 208. 



Frauenlob, reputed founder of Meis- 

tergesang, 213, 234, 237. 
" Frauenzimraer-Gesprachspiele," by 

Hartzdorfer, 329. 
" Frau Jutte," by Schernberg, 2S6. 
Frederick II. of Prussia, his opinion 

of the Nibelungenlied, 85. 
Freiburg, H. von, 137. 
Freienthal, Reinhold von, a Swiss 

poet, 349. 
Freiiigrath, 509. 
French, British legends in favour 

with the, 123. 
, manners and language of the, 

their prejudicial influence on Ger- 
man poetry, 312. 

sagas of Charlemagne, 107. 

" Friederich von Schwaben," 229. 

Frblich, 191. 

" Froschmeuseler," a satirical poem, 

Fiiterer, Ulrich, a Bavarian poet, 


" GanskiJnig," by Spangenberg, 277. 

" Gargantua," by Fischart, 298. 

Gartner, 375. 

" Geharnischte Sonnetten." by 
Riickert, 515, 

Geibel, 509. 

Geiler, preacher of the mystic 
school, 260. 
. Gellert, 191, 375, 376 n. 

, dramas and fables of, 377. 

, cause of popularity of, 378. 

, spiritual songs of, 378. 

" Genoveva," by Miiller, 495. 

Gerhard, Paul, hymns of, 333. 

German character, 31. 

, Christianity specially suited to, 


etymology and historical gram- 
mar, on what constructed, 1. 

drama, 251, 257. 

, development of, 287. 

epics, 37 — 41. 

, fidelity the chief characteristic 

of, 39. 

history, first prose chronicle of, 

258, n. 

German language, Grimm the best 

interpreter of the, 4. 
ancient and rnodern, contrast 

between, 17. 
, societies founded for the im- 
provement of, 316. 
literature of the 16th cen- 
tury, great change in the, 264. 
. , influence of the Greek and 

Roman classics on, 221, 265. 

, second classical period of, 342. 

, revival of, 362. 

minstrels, 14. 

poetry, commencement of, 4 

, form of the most ancient, 15. 

, Upper Saxony the fatherland 

of, 344. 
. causes of its decay in 14th and 

ISth centuries, 216 — 223. 

, extinction of, 311. 

, lamentable condition of, in 

17th century, 346. 
is revived by Wernicke, &c., 

348, 349, 367. 
Germans, singing together a national 

characteristic of the, 14. 
Gerstenberg, 493. 
Gesellschaftslied, 311. 
" Gesichte Philanders von Sitten- 

wald," 327. 
Gessner, 329. 

, his attack on Weisse, 388. 

Geszner, the idyllic poet, 471. 

Giesehrecht, 510. 

Gleim, 415. ^— 

" Gliick und Traum," by Goethe, 432. 

" Gockel Hinkel und Gackelaia," 

by Brentano, 504. 
Gbckingk, 480. 
Goethe, 431. 
, reality and freedom of his 

writings, 432. 
, earliest lyric productions of, 

, his dramas, *' Gotz,*' 443 j 

" Wertber." 439. 

, his satires, 438. 

, his journey to Italy, 440. 

, his " Iphigenie," 440. 

, " Tasst)," 441. 

, " Egmont," 442. 

, " Faust," 442. 

, his biographies, 448. 



Goethe, interest felt by the public for, 

449 m. 

-, his dramas, 450. 

, studies of his old age, 450. 

, his soundness of understanding, 


I his self-complacency, 464. 

, compared with Schiller, 465. 

— ^, the pantheistic tendency of his 

writings, 466. 

, his dramatic imitators, 483. 

" Goldene Schmiede," by K. von 

Wiirtzburg, 155. 
Gospels, Ulfilas' translation of, 2 n. 
Gotter, 486. 
Gottesdeinst, division of Minne- 

poetry, 199. 
Gothic, knowledge of, necessary to 

comprehend the old and middle 

High German poems, 1. 
Gbttingen, poetical confederacy of, 

Gottsched, S39. 
, benefits rendered to German 

literature by, 364. 

, his various works, 365. 

, his contest with Bodmer, 365, 


, decline of his influence, 368. 

, writings of his wife, 369. 

" Gotz von Berlichingen," drama by 

Goethe, 434. 
Grimm, 4. 

Grimmelshausen, C. von, 362. 
Griin, 510. 
Gryphius, Andreas, leader of the 

Silesian school, 322, 325 n. 

, various works of, 323, 

, Christian, 345. 

Gudrun, Old German epic poem, its 

resemblance to the Iliad, 37. 
, one of the finest specimens of 

the German epic, 43. 

, sketch of the poem, 96 — 1 03. 

, translation of, 104 n. 

, preserved by the Emperor 

Maximilian, 103. 
Guest, Lady, edition of Welsh Ro- 
mances by, 140. 
Guilds of the Meistersingers, 234. 


Hagedorn, 191, 373. * 
" Halladat," by Gleim, 415. 
Halle, or Prussian group of writers, 

Haller, his influence on the revival 

of poetry, 372. 
Hamann, 424, 488. 
Hanke, 34S. 

Happel, various works of, 359. 
Harmony of the Gospels, old Saxon 

poem of the earliest period, 21. 

, by Otfrid, 23. 

, scientiflc rules of German ver- 
sification derived from it, 23. 
Hartraann von der Aue, 36, 138. 
, one of the best Mirmesingersj 

Hartzdorfer, writer of the Nurem- 
berg school, 329. 
Hauff, 508. 

Hansen, F. von, a Minne-poet, 202. 
Hebel, 478. 

Heerman, church hymns of, 334. 
Heidelberg, MS. collections of 

Minne-songs, 200. 
" Heilige Gral," the, art-epic, 107, 


, epitome of, 1 18. 

chapel at Prague, model of 

the temple described in the, 121. 

, legend of, 121. 

, combined with " King Artus," 

, spiritual existence represented 

by, 125. 
" Heimonskinder," ait-epic of sagas 

of Charlemagne, 117. 
Heine, Heinrieh, 511. 
Heinrich der Teichner, 249. 
Heinse, 487. 
" Heldenbriefe," by Hoffmanswaldau, 

" Heldpnbuch," 107 n, 225, 267. 
" Heliand," ancient sacred poem, 21. 
, composed by Saxons, in the 

9th century. 
Henrici, 343, 344 n. 
Herder, 430 n. - 
, his influence and universal 

knowledge, 425. 



Herder, a literary and social reformer, 

426, 427. 

, his various works, 428, 429. 

, his influence on Goethe, 431. 

" Horribilicribrifax," comedy by 

Gryphius, 324. 
" Hugdietrich und Wolfdietrich," a 

Lombardic saga, 43. 

, Kketcli of the poem, 105, 

Hunold, 343. 

, his contest with Wernicke, 

" Hiirnin Sigfried," poem of ISth 

century, 85. 
Humourists of the Hamann and 

Herder school, 487, 493. 
Hymns of the 16th century, 287. 
17th century, 332. 

" Ibrahim Bassa," drama by Lohen- 
stein, 342. 

Idyls of Geszner, 471. 

Voss, 476. 

Marten Usteri, 477, 

Hebel, 478. 

■ ■ IMiiller, 495. 

Iffland, 484. 

Ilsan, the monk, 96. 

Immermann, 516. 

Incantations, forms of ancient Ger- 
man, 19. 

Indian legend of an earthly paradise, 

" In dulci jubilo," Christmas hymn, 

Intellectual revolution in the 18th 
century, 422. 

Inventions and discoveries unfavour- 
able to poetry, 218. 

" Iphigenie," by Goethe, 440. < 

" Iris," by Jacobi, 417, 428. 

■' Isengrlmus," earliest specimen of 
animal-saga, 187. 

" Iwein," by Hartmann, 108, 139. 

Jacobi, writings of, 417. 

" Jagdgedioht von der Minne," al- 
legorical poem, 231. 

Jest-books of the 16th century, 

" Jugend, Jiinglingsjahre und Wan- 
derschaft," by Stilling, 468. 

" Julius von Tarent," by Leisewiti, 

"Jungfrau von' Orleans," tragedy by 
Schiller, 459. 


" Kabale und Liebe," by Schiller, 

" Kanut," tragedy, by Schlegel, 386. 
" Kaiserchronik," 167. 
** Kaiser Octavianus," drama, by 

Tieck, 503. 
" Kaiser Heraclius," by Otto, 168. 
" Karlmainet," poem of the Carlo- 

vingian sagas, 116. 
Karsch, her history and poems, 418. 
Kastner, 375. 

, his epigrams, 383, 384. 

, his epitaph, 385. 

Kerner, 507. 

" Kifferbeskraut," by Sachs, 270. 

" King Albrecht und Adolf von 

Kassau," historic poem, 176. 
" King Artus," art-epic, 108, 122. 
, various epics constructed upon 

it, 123. 
, combined with the " Gral," 


■, a type of worldly life, 125. 

" King Laurin," old German poem, 

" King Otnit," poem of the Lom- 
bardic sagas, 43. 

, sketch of it, 105. 

" King Rother," heroic saga, 29. 
" Klage," German epic, sequel to the 

Niebelungen Not, 39, 81. 
Klei, one of the Nuremberg school, 

Kleist, E. C. von, 415. 

, H. von, 512. 

Klinger, 494. 
Klopstock, 369. — ' 

, sketch of his life, 391 n. 

, compared with Veldekin, 392, 



Klopstock, his nationality, 392. 

, Christian enthusiasm of, 393. 
, adopts the ancient classic form, 


, his universal sympathy, 395. 

, bis sickly sentimentality, 396. 

, his " Messiah, 397. 

-, his odes and other works, 398, 

— — compared with Wolfram, 412. 
, group of poets who followed, 

467, 481. 
Knights Templars, 119. 
■- Konigsberg school of poetry, 328. 
Konrad von Wiirzburg, 149. 

, his " Goldene Sohmiede,"15S. 

, form of poetry in perfection in 

his time, 1 SO. 
— , his " Saint Sylvester," and 

** Saint Alexius," 1 57. 
— ■ — , " The Emperor with the 

Beard," by, 176. 
, " Engelhart und Engeltrut," 

Korner, patriotic poet, 514. 
Kotzebue, 484. 

, his jealousy of Goethe and 

Schiller, 485. 

, his contest with the Romantic 

school, 499. 
Kretschmann, 408. 
Kriemhild, heroine of the Sigfrid 

saga, 45. 
" Kritische Walder," by Herder, 

Kunhart von Stoffel, 142. 

" Landsknechts-Spiegel," by Sachs, 

" Lady at the Fountain," Welsh ori- 
ginal of " Iwein," 140. 

Laity and clergy of Germany, their 
position in ) Sth century shown in 
" Pfaffe Amis," 182. ' 

" Lanzelot, vom See," art-epic, 140. 

Lappe, 505. 

Laurenberg, a satirist of the 17th 
century, 337. 

Lavater, 467. 

Learning prejudicial to poetry, 219. 
" Leben Alexanders des Grossen," 

classic saga, by Lampreeht, 29. 
"Leben der Heiligen Familie," by 

Bruder Philip, 154. 
Legend of earthly paradise, 118. 
Legendary poetry of 14th and 15lh 

centuries, 226. 
Legends of saints, art-epics of 5th 

group, 108. 
Leich, an ecclesiastical form of poem, 

Leisewitz, 481. 
Lenau, 510, 511. 
"Lenore" by Biirger, 473. 
Lenz, 496. 
Lessing, 191, 400. 
contrasted with Klopstock, 


, his critical works, 402. 

, style of, 403. 

■, fables and dramas of, 403. 

, adherents of, 481. 

, dramatic imitators of, 483. 

Lichtenberg, 489. 

Lichtenstein, U. von, 36, 199, 20S. 

Lichtwer, 191, 379. 

" Liet von Troje," by Hprbort, 149. 

" Limberg Chronicle," 258. 

Liscow, a satirist of the new period, 

" Litany of All Saints," church le- 
gendary poem, 153. 
" Littower," legendary poem by 

Schondoch, 227. 
Logau, F. von, 325, 326 n. -» 
"Lohengrin," art-epic, 108, 133. 
Lohenstein, D. C. von, 339, 341. 

, specimen of his writings, 342. 

, his romance " Arminius and 

Thusnelda," 357. 
Lombardic series of sagas, 43. 
^ Lower Rhenish sagas, 4], 
" Ludwigslied," poem in rhyme of 

the 9th century, 24. 
" Luise" by Voss, 477, 
Luther, hymns by, 286. 
, translation of Bible by, trans- 
formed the German language, 308. 
, not adopted by the mystic 

school, 308. 
Lyric poems of Goethe, 432. ♦ 
Lyrical or Minne poetry, 194. « 



Lyrical poetry of 14th and ISth cen- 
turies, 230. 


" Maria Stuart," tragedy by Schiller, 

Matthison, 471. 
" Matrone von Ephesus," comedy 

by Weisse, 387. 
Maximilian, emperor, poem by, 231. 
, history of Frederick III. and 

Maximilian I., by, 258. 
" Meier Helmbrecht," by Werner 

der Gartner, 176. 
Meissen, H. von, defects of his 

poems, 213. 
, founder of school of melster- 

singers, 213. 
Meister, Minnesingers of the burgher 

class, 200. 
Meister gesang, 200, 233, 

poetry of the burghers, 281. 

more an art of rhyme than of 

poetry, 236. 
, odd names given to the system 

of, 237. 
, important as being a continu- 
ation of the Minne-gesang, 237. 
Meistersingers, guilds of the, 233. 
Melissus introduced classical poetry 

into Germany, 282. 
Mendicant friars, 96. 

, sermons of the, 215. 

Menzel, 510. 

" Messiah," by Klopstock, 396. 

Metrical system introduced by Opitz, 

Middle-High- German dialect, 30. 
Middle-Low- German dialect, 28. 
Miller, 480. 

Milton's " Paradise Lost," its influ- 
ence on German poetry, Se'. 
Minden, G. von, fables of, 190. 
" Minna von Barnhelm," by Lessing, 

the model for historical pieces, 404. 
Minne-poetry, or art-lyric, 1 95. 

, characteristics of, 196. 

distinct from poetry of the 

troubadours, 197. 
Minne-poetry entirely German, 197. 
, its melodiousness, 197. 

Minne-poetry, forms used in, 1 98. 

, various themes of, 199. 

, collections of, 200. 

, its translation into the Volks- 

lied, 246. 
Minne-singers, 27. 

chiefly of knightly rank, 199. 

, great number of them, 200, 

Minne-songs in honour of Gottfried, 


, best collection of, 200. 

Minstrels of 12th and ISth cen- 
turies, 35. 
" Miss Sara Sampson," tragedy by 

Lessing, 404. 
Monument to Goethe and Schiller 

at Weimar, 465 w. 
" Morin," by von Sachsenheim, 231. 
Miigeln, H. von, 233. 
Muhlfort, poet of the 2nd Silesian 

school, 344 w. 
Miiller, F., 496 n. 

, W., 510. 

" Miiiichausen," by Immermann, 516, 
Murner, a satirist, 292. 

, his various works, 293. 

" Musenalmanach," 472. 

Muspilli, sacred German poem of 

the earliest period, 21. 
Mystic theology, 259. 
school, representatives of the, 

Mythology introduced into German 

poetry, 313. 


" Narrenbeschwbrung," satire by 
Murner, 292. 

" Nathan," by Lessing, 406. 

National poetry revived in 18th cen- 
tury, 423. 

songs, 238. 

Natural poetry, 34. 

represented by strolling min- 
strels, 35. 

, form of, 35. 

Nature, poets of, 471. 

Netherlands, earliest specimen of 
animal-saga written in the, 187. 

Neukirch, 345, 347. 



NejT period of German literature, 


, its characteristics, 310. 

, second half of, 421. 

Nibelungen-strophe, a form of popu- 
lar poetry, 35. 
" Nibelungenlied," epitome of the 

poem, 44 — 82. 

, origin of, 82. 

, oldest existing form of, 83. 

, manuscripts of, 85. 

, first discovered and published 

by Bodmer, 369. 
Nibelungen-Not, Old German epic, 


, resemblance to the Iliad, 37. 

" Klage," the sequel to, 39. 

, sagas combined in, 42. 

Nicolai, his resemblance to Lessing, 

Nithart, the link between Minne- 

song and comedy, 21 1. 
North German series of sagas, 43. 
Novalis, 501. 

Novels, when first introduced, 352, 
Nuremberg school of poetry, 329. 


" Oberon," by Wieland, 409. 

" Octavia," a Roman history, 356. 

Odes of Klopstock, 398. 

Old period of German literature, 23 

— 309. 
Oldest period of, 1 — 27. 
Old German epics, 37. 

, of 2nd rank, SB. 

, of 3rd rank, 38. 

, characteristic of, 39. 

, authors of, unknown, 107. 

fell into oblivion, 267. 

Old Testament history, how known 

by the laity before Luther's time, 

— — , deistical notions respecting, 

exploded by Herder, 426. 
Operettas of Weisse, 389. 
Opitz, 310. 

, chief merit of, 315. 

', character of, 318. 

-, secret of his popularity, 319. 

, his various works, 320. 

Paradise, legend of, 118. 

" Parcival," by W. von Eschenbaoh, 
32, 226. 

, an art-epic of 2nd group, 108. 

, sketch of, 125. 

, one of the first printed books, 


— — , resembles Goethe's " Faust," 

Passion plays, 254. 

Patriotic poets, 513. * 

" Pater Brey," satire by Goethe, 438. 

Pegnitzsehafer, a society at Nurem- 
berg, 329. 

Peter Leu, 302. 

" Peter Schlemhil," by Chamisso, 507. 

" Peter Squenz," comedy by Gry- 
phius, 324. 

" Pfaflfen Amis," by Strieker, abounds 
with wit, ISO. 

, sketch of the poem, 181. 

" PfafFe vom Kalenberg," 301. 

Pfeffel, 380. 

" Phantasus," by Tieck, 503. 

Philological poetry, 221. 

" Pilatus," peculiarity of its compo- 
sition, 161. 

, origin of the legend, 162. 

Platen, 515. 

Poems, ancient German heroic, 7. 

of the 14th and 15th centuries, 


of the 1 6th century, 267. 

Poetic revolution in the 1 8th .cen- 
tury, 421. 

, its leaders, 424. 

Poetical confederacy of Gottingen^ 

Poetical prose, 343. 

Poetry, division of, 34. 

with the Germans a national 

affair, 13. 

, alliterative verse the form of 

old German, 15. 

, cause of the power and bril- 
liancy of ancient German, 17. 

, sacred, 20. 

-, decline of, from the 10th and 

12th centuries, 25. 

, causes of this decline, 26. 



Poetry revived at the time of the 
Crusades, 27, SI. 

, romantic, what properly so 

called, 108. 

, its external form in the highest 

perfection, 150. 

, didactic, 191 ; nearly allied to 

lyric, 249. 

, Minne, 195. 

-, decline in the 14th and 15th 

centuries, 216. 

, philological, 221. 

, religious, of the 14th and ISth 

centuries, 24S. 

, dramatic, 251. 

, new-popular, of the 16th cen- 
tury, 263. 

, learned, 313; its extinction, 


Political chronicles of the 17th cen- 
tury, 358. 

" Pontus und Sidonia," prose story 
of 15th century, 351 n. 

Postel, 343. 

Priamels, or prelude-poems, 250. 

Printing unfavourable to poetry, 

Prose, prevalence of, from 9th to 
1 2th century, 25. 

productions of the old period, 


of the ISth century, 323 n. 

16th century, 264, 295. 

, historical, 257. 

, didactic-ascetic, 259. 

stories of the 15th century, 351. 

, new kind of, in the 16th cen- 
tury, 264. 


Rabener, satirist of the new period, 


contrasted with Liscow, 374. 

, works of, 382 n. 

" Rabenschlacht," oldGerman epic, 


, sketch of the poem, 93. 

Rachel, poetic satirist, 326. 
Ramler, 419, 476. 
Reformation, poetry of the, 284. 

, satire on the, by Murner, 293. 

" Reinaert," Dutch version of 

"Reinhart Fuchs," by Willem, 

" Reinardus," second work on ani- 
mal-saga, 187. 

" Reinecke Vos," 189, 228, 275. 

" Reinhart Fuchs," 188. 

" Reinhart und Isengrin," 5, 29, 

contrasted with the Niebe- 

lungenlied, 110. 

, abstract of the poem, 112. 

, origin of the legend, 109 

Religious poetry of the 14th and 
] 5th centuries, 248. 

" Renner," a didactic poem, 1 93. 

Richter, 489 n. 

Riddle poem, 249. 

Ringwald, 281. 

Rist, 330 ; hymns of, 333. 

Roberthin, 328. f 

Robinsonades, imitation of " Robin- 
son Crusoe," 359. 

, their deistical tendency, 360. 

Rolandslied, art-epic, 107. 

Romance, origin of the term, 109. 

of the 17th century, 350 — 


, the term, when introduced, 

Romances, mirrors of the times, 355. 

, historico-political, 358. 

, historical, 361, 

Romantic school, 497. 

, Stolberg, the precursor of, 475. 

, its beneficial influence, 499. 

, contests of, with Kotzebue, 


, various members of, 505. 

" Rosemund," first German novel, 

Rosenbliit, comic writer, 247, 256. 
** Rosengarten zu Worms," old Ger- 
man epic, 39. 

, sketch of the poem, 94. 

, last of the epic poems, 96. 

" Rosengesellschaft," a society of the' 

17th century, 330. 
Rost, 368, 388. 
Riickert, 515. • 
Rudolf von Ems, 143. 
, various works of, 157, 168, 

173, 175. 
Rudolf of Hapsburg, decline of 

poetry under his rule, 216. 




Sachs, poet of the 16th century, 269. 

, his poetical activity, 273. 

, various works of, 139, 1.56, 


Saored poetry of the oldest period, 

Saga-poetry, Its relation to history, 

Sagas, 1st group of, the Lower Rhe- 
nish, 41. 

, 2nd group of, the Burgundlan, 


, 3rd group o^ the East- Gothic, 


, 4 th group of, devoted to At- 

tila, 42. 

, 5th group of, the North Ger- 
man, 43. 

; 6th group of, the Lomhardic, 


of Sigfrid, mythical character 

of the, 86. 

—— of Charlemagne, 109. 

" St. Alexius," legendary poem, 157. 

" St. Brandanus," legendary poem, 

" St. Elizabeth," legendary poem, 

160, 228. 
" St, George," legendary poem, 161. 
" St. Oswald," legendary poem, 163, 

" St. Sylvester," legendary poem, 157. 
St. Paul, Epistles of, translation of 

the, by Ulfilas, 3. 
Sails, J. G. de, 471. 
" Sangerkrleg auf der Wartbu rg," 2 1 4. 
" San Marte," by Schultz, 1 04. 
Satire, origin of, 289. 

, proper theme of poetic, 382. 

Satires of Rachel, 326. 

of Goethe, 438. 

Satiric poems of the 16th century, 

Satirical writers of the 16th century. 


18th century, 374, 381. 

" Satyros," by Goethe, 439. 

" Schatz-Kiisilein," by Hebel, 478. 
Soheffler, 336, 337 n. 
Schenkendorf, M. von, 514, 515 n. 

Schiller, his tendency to the ideal, 


, his dramas, 453, 458. 

, French citizenship decreed to, 

, Goethe's beneficial influence 

on, 458. 
, lyric and didactic poems of, 


, ballads and romances of, 463. 

, dispute as to his superiority 

over Goethe, 465. 

•, contrasted with Goethe, 465. 

, the rationalistic tendency of 

his writings, 466. 

, followers of, 493. 

" Schildbiirger," 304. 

" Schimpf und Ernst," 299. 

Schlegel, J. Ellas, dramas of, 286. f 

, J. Adolf, 379. 

, A. W., 501 n. 

attacks Schiller, 500. 

, Heinrich, 385. 

, Friederich, 501 n. 

Scholastic philosophy, 219. 
Schools of German poetry, 318. 
Schbnaich, a partisan of Gottsched, 

, his satire on 

Klopstock, 370. 
Schubert, 470. 
Schultze, 506. 
Schupplus, satirist 

preacher, 337, 
Schwab, 508. 

Schwabe, satires of, 371 ; his perio- 
dical, 375. 
" Schweizerlieder," by Lavater, 467. 
Schwieger, 330. 
" Seamless Coat of Christ," legend 

of, 163. 
Seqiienz, an ecclesiastical form of 

poem, 198. 
Sermons of the 12th and 13th cen- 
turies, 215. 

of Schupplus, 338. 

of Geiler, 262. 

of Tauler, 260 re. 

Seume, 493. 

" Seven Wise Masters," byBiiheler, 

Seusse, chief of the Mystic School, 


Bodmer and 




" Ship of Fools," satirical poem by 

Brant, 291. 
" Siegwart," by Miller, 480. 
" Sigenot," Old German epic, 38. 
Sigfrid, hero of the Lower Rhenish 

sagas, 41. 

and the Dragon, legend of, 60. 

Sigfridsbrunnen, 86 n. 
:-Silesian school of poetry, 318. 
second school of poetry, causes 

of its decay, 339. 
Simrock, 508. 

" Simpson," romance by Zesen, S53. 
Societies for improving the German 

language, 316. 
" Solomon and Morolf," 179. 
" Song of Roland," 29. 
Song staves, 15. 

" Sonntag's Friihe," by Hebel, 478. 
South Germany the home of the 

earliest German classic poetry, SO. 
Spee, F. von, 334. 
Spervogel, specimen of his Minne- 

poetry, 204. 
Spiritual existence represented by 

the " Gral," 125. 
Stagemann, 421. 
Stilling, 467 n. 
" Stimmen der Vblker in Liedern," 

by Herder, 427. 
Stolberg, precursor of the Romantic 

School, 475. 
StoUen, a division of the strophe, 

Strieker, 116, 181, 190. 
Storm and impulse period of German 

literature, 422, 493. 
Strasburg, G. von, 134. 

, beautiful hymn by, 204. 

contrasted with Wolfram, 135. 

, immorality of his writings, 135. 

much imitated, 138, 

, compared with Wieland, 412. 

Strophe, a form used in Minne-poetry, 


, threefold division of the, 198. 

, form of, in use in the 15th 

century, 224. 
" Sturm und Drang," drama, by 

Klinger, 422, 494. 
Superstitions of the ancient Germans 

as to animals, 185. 
Siisskind, a Jewish Minne-singer,'J0O. 


Tdbulatur, name given to the strict 

rules of Meistergesang, 237. 
Tacitus, ancient German songs men- 
tioned by, 4. 
, characteristic of the Germans 

noticed by, 14. 
, his story of Ulysses and Laertes 

explained, 164. 
Talander, 358. 
" Tasso," Goethe's, 441. 
Tauler, 259, 260 n. 
Templars, Knights, 119. 
Theological writings of the 12th 

and 13th centuries, 215. 
Theology, mystic, 259. 
" Theuerdank," poem, composed by 

the Emperor Maximilian, 231. 
Thummel, 487. 
Tieck, his novels and romances, 502, 

503 n. 
Tiedge, 420. 

" Titurel," art-epic, 108, 133. 
" Tbffel im Paradiese," 1 84. 
Trade not congenial to poetry, 218. 
Tragedy, 256. 
"Traugemundslied," the riddle-poem, 

" Traurige Geschichten," romance by 

De Rosset, 352. 
— , translated by Zeiller, 353. 
Triller, 343. 

Tripartite strophe, 37, 198. 
" Tristan and Isolt," art-epic, 108, 


, its prejudicial tendency, 137. 

" Trojan war," art-epic, 108, 142. 
" Trost in Thriinen," lyric by Goethe, 

« Trostgedichte," by Opitz, 320. 
Troy, German legends of, not derived 

from Homer, 142. 
" Trutz-Nachtigall," by Von Spee, 

Tiirlieim, U. von 137. 


" Ugalino," by Gerstenbcrg, 469. 
Uhland, 508. " 

Ulfiias, translation of the Bible ii^to 
Gothic, by, 2. 



Ulfilas, Codex Argenteus, his MS. 

of the Gospels, 3. 
■ , his translation of St. Paul's 

Epistles, 3. 
Ulrich von Eschenbaeh, 143. 
Undine, by Fouqu6, 505. 

, whence derived, 230. 

Unity of poetry with actual life the 

fundamental idea of the Romantic 

School, 498. 
Upper Saxony the fatherland of 

German poetry, 344. 
" Uranie," by Tiedge, 420. 
Usteri, 477. 
Uz, poet of the Halle group, 417. 


" Vatermb'rder," by Schubart, 470. 

Veldekin, the father of the Middle- 
High- German poetry, 28. 

, his poem of JEneas, 147. 

, characteristics of his writings, 


, Minne-poetry in perfection in 

his time, 201. 

compared with Klopstock, 391. 

VersiBcation, progress of, in 15th 
century, 223. 

, change in form of in 17th 

century, 316, 

Virgin Mary, song in honour of, 1 53. 

Volksbiicher, 299, 301, 306. 

Volkslied, popular lay, 195, 239. 

, transition of Minne-poetry to 

the, 246. 

becomes extinct in 16th cen- 
tury, 282. 

Volkslieder, origin of, 240. 

, their power, 242. 

brought into notice by Herder 

and Goethe, 244. 

, collections of, 245. 

" Vom gemeinen Leben," by Hein- 
rich, 191. 

" Von des Todes Gehugede," 191. 

" Von Deutseher Art und Kunst," by 
Herder, 426. 

Voss, 472, 475. 

, poems and Idyls of, 476. 

, various imitators of, 477. 


Wachterlied, a popular form of 

Minne-poetry, 205. 
Wackernagel, 509. 
Wagner, Ernst, 493. 

, Leopold, 496. 

" Wahrheit und Dichtung," by 

Goethe, 448. 
" Wahlverwandtschaften,"by Goethe, 

Waldis, 278, 279 n, 282. 
" Wallenstein," Schiller's, 458. 
" Walther von Wasichenstein," Old 

German epic, 38. 
" Walter of Acquitaine," Latin trans- 
lation of the ancient German poem 

of, II. 
, hero of the Burgundian sagas, 

" Wandering Jew," saga of the, 

Water poets, 343. 
Weckherlin, 336. » 
" Weinschweig," a Minne-poem, 247. 
Weise, 339, 343. 
Weisse, a satirist, 387. 

, works of, 388—390. 

, his facility of composition, 

" Welsche Gast," satiric poem by 

Zirklaere, 193. 
" Welsh Romances," by Lady Guest, 

" Weltchronik," by von Ems, 1 68. 
Weltliohe Volkslied, a kind of lyric 

poetry, 238. 
" Wendenmut." jest-book by Kirchof, 

" Wenzel von Erfiirt," the last of the 

Robinsonades, 360. 
Werner, Zacharias, 512, 513 n. 
Werner der Gartner, 176. 
Werner von Tegernsee, 153, 204. 
Wernicke, epigrams of, 346, 
, his contest with Postel and 

Hnnold, 347. 
" Werther," Goethe's, 436. 
" Wessobrunner Gebet," a sacred 

poem, 21. 



Wieland, the immorality of his 
writings, 408. 

, the form of his writings, 409. 

■, instability of his character, 4 1 0. 

compared to Gottfried, 412. 

, his followers, 486. 

" Wigalois," an art-epic, 108, 140. 

"Wigamur or der Ritter mit dem 
Adler," 141. 

" Wilhelm Meister," Goethe's, 447. 

" Wilhelm Tell," Schiller's, 461. 

" Wilhelm von Dourlens," by von 
Ems, 175. 

" Wilhelm von Oranse," art-epic, 
107, 116. 

" Winsbeke," 1 94. 

"Winsbekin," 194. 

Wolfram von Eschenbach, 124. 

, his poem " Parcival," 125. 

, his poem " Titurel," 1 33. 

, his style compared with Gott- 
fried's, 135. 

, his Minne-songs, 205. 

, a Meister-singer, 237. 

Worldly life, the fable of Arthur, a 
type of, 1 25. 

"Wunderhorn,"acollectionof Volks- 

lieder, 245. 
, of Arnim and Brentano, 594, 


" Younger Titurel," 133. 
" Young's Night Thoughts " trans- 
lated by Ebert, 315. 


Zacharia, 191, 382, 416. 

Zedliti, 510. 

Zesen, Philip von, his works, 330, 

331 n. 

, his absurdities, 330. 

one of the earliest romance 

writers, 353. 

, eccentricities of his style, 354. 

Zinkgraf, one of the Silesian School, 

" Zwillinge," tragedy by Klinger, 

481, 494.