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The story of
secret retreat on Montsalvat to dwell for awhile with ordinary mortals in the Duchy of Cleves, solely because Elsa, the beautiful daughter of the Duke of Luneburg, needed some knight to protect her from the fury and tyranny of her guardian, Frederick of Telramund, was a favorite theme of Middle German poetry and romance. The most beautiful account of the rescue of Elsa and of her subsequent marriage to Lohengrin, as well as of their pathetic separation, is found in Richard Wagner's exquisite opera.
A short distance below the point where the Rhine enters Holland the broad channel separates into two parts: the one flowing in a northwesterly direction empties into the Zuyder Zee, the other and larger channel flows a little southwest, at first through an immense canal, and finally under the name of the Meuse passes Rotterdam and into the North Sea. And now with Byron we must say:
"Adieu to thee, fair Rhine! How long, delighted,
Or lonely contemplation thus might stray;
Wild but not rude, awful yet not austere,
1. What historic and literary associations has the Rhine in the neighborhood of Lake Constance? 2. What famous artists have given fame to Basle? 3. What is the legend of the altar of Alt-Breisach? 4. What connection has Worms with the heroes of the Nibelungenlied? 5. How is Charlemagne associated with Mayence? 6. Who were Frauenlob and Gutenberg? 7. What tragic event belongs to the period of Charlemagne's life at Ingelheim? 8. What is the most famous wine region of the Rhine? 9. What does the Niederwald monument commemorate? 10. What was the legend of the Mouse Tower? 11. What events took place at the Königsstuhl? 12. How is the Lorelei connected with the Nibelungen lay? 13. How is the curious "Pfalz" accounted for? 14. What ancient custom prevailed for centuries at St. Goar? 15. What is the legend of the Castle of the Mouse? 16. What part does the castle Drachenfels play in German literature? 17. What great events took place at Aix-la-Chapelle? 18. What legends belong to the lower Rhine in Holland?
1. What was the story of Eginhard and Emma? 2. In what poem occur the lines,
3. What caused the overthrow of Rhinefels? 4. What is Heine's version of " The Hostile Brothers"? 5. What is the story of "Ritter Toggenberg"? 6. Why is Kevlaer called the City of Pilgrims?
The Rhine. Baedeker. The Rhine. Victor Hugo. Pilgrims of the Rhine. Bulwer. Ekkehard. A tale of the tenth century. J. V. von Scheffel (Crowell & Co.) Life of Charlemagne. Eginhard. Legends of the Rhine. H. A. Guerber (A. S. Barnes & Co.) Holbein (Masters in Art Series). The Fall of the Nibelungers. Lettson (trans.) Stories of the Wagner Opera. Guerber (Dodd, Mead & Co.) Legends of the Wagner Opera. Weston (Scribners). Scrambles Amongst the Alps. Whymper. The second part of this book covers a journey down the Rhine. Höher als die Kirche. Hillern (Heath & Co.) A charming little German story giving the legend of the Altar of Alt-Breisach. For those who read German, the following delightful book will well repay careful attention: Der Rhein, Geschichte und Sagen seiner Burgen, Abteien, Klöster und Städte. Von W. O. von Horn (W. Oertel).
CRITICAL STUDIES IN GERMAN LITERATURE.
BY ROBERT WALLER DEERING.
(Professor of Germanic Languages and Literature, Western Reserve University.)
The Spirit of the world,
Their vaunts, their feats, let a sardonic smile
For one brief moment wander o'er his lips -
AM a Jew, I am a Christian, I am tragedy, I am comedy — a Greek, a Hebrew; an adorer of despotism, an admirer of communism; a Latin, a Teuton; a beast, a devil, a god." It is thus that Heinrich Heine describes himself. The statement was doubtless written in one of his many irresponsible moods, and the contrasts may be purposely exaggerated, but there is much truth in it. His friend, Théophile Gautier, adds this testimony:
"He was cheerful and sad, devout and skeptical, kind and cruel, sentimental and cynical, tender and scornful, classic and romantic, impulsive and logical- everything,
Readers of Heine may expect at every step to meet with glaring contradictions, often of the most irreconcilable kind. He was an enigma to himself and to his times, and to many remains so even today. Despite the many dark spots in his checkered career he deserves our regard, for he is the keenest satirist, after Goethe, the most graceful, gifted poet of the century, the best embodiment of his restless, discontented age, and one of the most important, though unwholesome, influences in modern German letters. Everybody sings his exquisite songs and reads his brilliant, blistering satires; there are few who are not attracted even by his impudence, and fewer still who are not interested by the sad story of his sins and his suffering.
More than any other poet Heine was the creature of circumstance, a remarkable example of splendid genius gone adrift for lack of the helm of character. To follow his erratic course we must first go back to the great formative forces that made and started him and then study the influences of moral wind and tide which impelled and turned him, and finally drove him to that shipwreck of life, which makes him such a joy to his enemies, such a sorrow to his friends, and such a riddle to his readers.
The first influences to be reckoned with are those of heredity and early environment, for in no case is the adage that the child is father to the man more true than here. He inherited a nature which could not but develop as it did a keenly susceptible nature powerfully influenced by surroundings and without the moral strength and positiveness to rise
The first of this series of Critical Studies, "Lessing's Nathan the Wise,' appeared in February, "Schiller's 'Wilhelm Tell,'" in March, "Goethe's 'Faust,' Part I," in April,
Goethe's 'Faust,' Part II," in May.
Heine an enigma
to himself and to
Influences of heredity and environment.
above them or to change either them or himself to his advantage. Heine descended from genuine Jewish stock, of the trading class on one side, of the cultured, professional class on the other. His father, he says, was "a little Jew with a big beard," an easy-going, gallant, handsome man, a lover of good living, fair women, wine, cards, horses, and dogs; a devoted soldier, a great admirer of Napoleon, a man without natural gifts and with little education, but with a good, kind heart and an open, generous hand. His mother, Peira van Geldern, was the daughter of a famous Jewish physician, a cultured, gifted, ambitious woman of much natural sense and shrewdness; a petite, graceful little mother with great plans for her children, a good housewife, with time and taste for music and poetry herself, but too practical to encourage verse-making in her son. The boy inherited the alert mind, the quick wit, and the ambitious nature of his mother; but alas! also the unstable, fantastic, frivolous character of his father, as well as his love for art and romance. It is natural, therefore, that he should grow up a highly nervous, sensitive, precocious boy, whose overwrought imagination expressed itself in many strange, fantastic ways. As a child he planted his stockings in the garden in the firm belief that they would grow up as much needed new trousers for his father; when older he used to run away from his mother and read for hours in the library of an uncle, who had been a great traveler and lived as a robber sheik among the Bedouins of Africa; the boy's imagination was so vivid that he actually believed he was his uncle, and he lived over again the reckless life he found recorded in the latter's diaries. He also eagerly read the poetry and legends and folk-songs of the romantic middle ages and unconsciously stimulated his own exuberant native fancy thereby.
Heine was born in the old art city of Düsseldorf, but the date of his birth will perhaps never be known. The reason is that it was often wilfully changed-now set forward to secure his entrance into a higher class at school, and now backward to escape compulsory military service. He himself assigns January 1, 1800 and claims to be on that account "one of the first men of the century." The best evidence points to December 13, 1797. The important point is that his childhood covered the time of the French occupation of the Rhine country. His ambitious mother, admiring Napoleon and grateful to the French for many privileges granted the Jews, determined to train her son for the service of the Emperoras diplomat or "governor of conquered provinces, or the like. To this end he received the best educational advantages possible to him; he went to school to an old Franciscan convent, and then to a lyceum conducted by the Jesuits in Düsseldorf. Of the terrors and torments of that time he wrote most amusing accounts in later life:
As to Latin, Madam, you have no idea how complicated that is! The Romans would surely have had no time left to conquer the world, if they had had to learn Latin. These fortunate people knew in their cradles what nouns take -im in the accusative, but I had to learn them by heart in the sweat of my face. I am glad that I know them, because they have been a great solace and comfort in many a dark hour. But, Madam, the irregular verbs they differ from the others in that it costs you more beatings to learn them— they are awfully hard. I have often stood before the crucifix in the convent and prayed: "Oh thou poor, likewise tortured God, if it is at all possible, see to it that I don't forget the irregular verbs." Of Greek I will not speak at all; it makes me too angry. The monks
of the Middle Ages were not far wrong when they said Greek was invented by the Devil. God knows the sufferings it caused me. With Hebrew it was better, for I have always been partial to the Jews, though to this hour they crucify my good name. Yet in Hebrew I could never get along as well as my watch, which from intimate intercourse with pawnbrokers has acquired many Jewish customs — for instance it wouldn't go on Saturdays. It wasn't my fault that I did so little in geography, because the French were always changing the map by their conquests. It was better in natural history, for there such changes are impossible. I learned how apes and kangaroos and rhinoceroses look and even now on the street I often recognize many people as these old acquaintances.-Condensed from the original.
But alas! Waterloo came, Napoleon fell, and Heine's ambitions for a Napoleon's fall. career as French statesman were rudely shattered. It is the first of that long series of cruel disappointments that filled and embittered his life. This should not be forgotten by those who think him lacking in patriotism. When we remember his own and his father's hero-worship of Napoleon and the fond hopes it inspired, and realize that he and his people owed all they enjoyed of material advantage and social recognition to the French, it does not seem strange that he had little love for Prussia. Again, the German Empire dates from Sedan (1870); in Heine's day there was no Germany to love; it was a land divided against itself, ruled by some two score" duodecimo princelets," blind to the welfare of the whole country and striving in petty despotic ways for self aggrandizement. It is not strange that the ambitious, disappointed, irritable Heine should score them with a wit that fell like the lash of scorpions. We regret his personal pique and spite and the coarse, brutal method it used, but we should not forget that he often told them the truth and that it is usually the truth that hurts.
When her hopes had failed that her son might serve the dynasty of Napoleon, the ambitious mother determined to devote him to the dynasty of Rothschild; if he could not become duke or marshal under the magic touch of the Emperor, he should become a merchant-prince with even greater power. His modern languages, intended to serve in diplomatic circles, would now be useful in the counting-house. Unfortunately for his commercial career, they led him into literature instead; he dreamed not of business, but of ghost-stories, robber-knights, and romantic adventures, and reveled in Swift and Sterne and Cervantes to the great stimulation of his already strong fantastic and satirical tendencies.
At eighteen his father took him to Frankfort to start him in business, but the attempt was a dismal failure; he showed no taste for practical affairs, and was only embittered and humiliated by the squalid wretchedness of his people and the petty persecution of the Christians. He found his fellow Jews huddled together in a dirty, narrow alley, living more like beasts than like men, forbidden to pass the gates of their quarter after six in the evening, and subject to irritating indignities at all times. His sensitive soul was filled with disgust for these Jews and with venomous hatred for their oppressors. At his mother's instance he tried business again this time under more favorable conditions in the firm of his wealthy uncle Solomon Heine, the money king of Hamburg. But again it was a failure. Falling desperately in love with his cousin Amalie, his Heine and Amalie. uncle Solomon's charming and accomplished daughter, he neglected his work and, though living on his uncle's bounty, spent his time idling about the streets and cafés composing love songs to the fair object of his
passion. She may at first have smiled upon the pale dreamer, but was soon repelled by his moody melancholy, by the fierce vehemence of his feeling, and by the idle, dissipated life he led. His repulse nearly drove him to insanity, but it made him what he became the most eloquent poet, the most merciless satirist of his time. Bitter and cruel as the disappointment was, it did not prevent the susceptible young man from bestowing his affections, a little later, upon Amalie's younger sister, Therese. He felt then, as often afterwards, that, as like cures like, the "best antidote for woman is woman," but he was again repulsed. To Book of Songs." these painful heart experiences we owe Heine's "Book of Songs," the
book that made him famous, that on the wings of Schubert's and Beethoven's music has carried his name round the world, and that will preserve his memory to posterity. It is a modest little volume, but it contains some of the choicest gems of lyric poetry in German or any other literature. No mere words can describe the deep feeling, the noble sentiment, the tender pathos, the haunting melancholy, the exquisite imagery, the perfect rhythm of many of these songs. They must be read to be enjoyed, and read in the original. Even the best translation takes all the soul out of poetry like this; though the form and features of the original be preserved, its very breath of life is gone-it is like a corpse, whose cheeks do not glow, whose eyes do not dream or flash or sparkle, whose heart does not thrill and throb with feeling; it is pale and still and cold. Unfortunately the sweet harmony of these tender minor chords is often rudely broken by the jangling discord of Heine's passionate, frenzied bitterness; the highest, holiest sentiment is mingled with a mocking cynicism, a bestial sensuality that might shock even Mephistopheles. It often seems as if he were bent on the wanton destruction of the fairest forms of his fancy; as if the sculptor, gone mad because the marble he had wrought into beauty could not become living reality, had thrown himself with furious curses upon it and shattered it with his hammer. If it be true that genius is only a step short of insanity, it is but kindness to assume that Heine had taken that step.
Heine gained much, but lost more in Hamburg - he had gotten experience and come to a sense of his power as a poet, but he had lost his peace of mind, his faith in humanity, his control of himself, his standard of character; he returned home a bitter cynic, a reckless man. But his ambitious mother was not yet beaten. She sold her jewels, enlisted Uncle Solomon's help, and determined to make a jurist of him. But he got int
trouble at Bonn, migrated to Göttingen, was suspended there, and went to Berlin. Here was a new world of society and art and letters and politics. He threw himself with enthusiasm into it, to the great advantage of his poetry, but to the lasting detriment of his health and character. Back again at home he besought his rich uncle to send him to Paris to live, but, neeting with stern refusal, saw himself obliged to go on with his detested law course. After a short trip to Kuxhaven, where he first saw the sea and was inspired by it to the loftiest heights of his poetry, and after another visit to Hamburg where he was driven almost to suicide by his hopeless love for Therese, he again settled down in Göttingen to law. A vacation trip through the Harz mountains offered the opportunity for his famous "Harz Journey," the first of a long
Life at Berlin.