Volume 02

An Evening - Frederick Engels

An Evening by Frederick Engels

Works of Frederick Engels, 1840

An Evening


Written: in July 1840
First published: in the Telegraph für Deutschland No. 125, August 1840
Signed: Friedrich Oswald


To-morrow comes!
Shelley

1

I sit in the garden. ‘Neath the ocean’s rim
The old day’s sun has slowly slipped from sight,
And hidden shafts that draw their strength from him
Now fill the heavens with scintillating light.
But with day’s brilliance fading from the sky,
The flowers stand and grieve in silent sadness;
Meanwhile the birds, safe in the tree-tops high,
Carol their love-songs full of joy and gladness.
Ships that have traced the oceans with their wake
Now lie at anchor in the peaceful bay.
From end to end the timbered bridges shake
As the tired people trudge their homeward way.
The cool wine bubbles in the crystal glass.
I leaf through Caldetön’s great comedies,
Drinking my fill to very drunkenness
On heady wine and headier tragedies.

2

The radiance in the West is almost gone.
Patience! A new day’s coming — Freedom’s day!
The sun shall mount his ever-shining throne
And Night’s black cares be banished far away.
New flowers shall grow, but not in nursery beds
We raked ourselves and sowed with chosen seeds:
All earth shall be their garden full of light;
’ Written in English in the original. (Shelley, Queen Mab.)
All plants shall flourish in far alien lands.
The Palm of Peace shall grace the Northern strands,
The Rose of Love shall crown the frozen wight,
The sturdy Oak shall seek the Southern shore
To make the club that strikes the despot down,
And he who brings his nation peace once more
Shall wear upon his head the oak-leaf crown.
The Aloe, flourishing all over Earth,
Is like the People’s spirit everywhere,
As prickly, coarse, and lacking grace as they are,
Till, with a crash, there suddenly bursts forth
Through every obstacle a blossom bright —
The Freedom flame, that glowed concealed from sight;
Its scent is far more like to reach the Lord
Than all the incense of the pious fraud.
Only the Cypress-trees are left alone,
Abandoned in the grove, their meaning gone.

3

The birds on their green branches greet the dawn
With paeans of tumultuous song, and know
That when the drifting cloudlets have withdrawn
Their steamy summits to the vales below,
Then shall the sun begin to mount his throne —
These birds are minstrel singers, every one;
Their words fly free as the free winds that blow;
And winds and words as one united go.
These songsters do not haunt the castle walls
(Those stately homes have long since tumbled down),
But, in proud oaks unbent by howling squalls,
Boldly they look towards the rising sun,
Though they be dazzled when his brilliance falls
To ring the earth with radiant light around.
1, too, am one of Freedom’s minstrel band.
’twas to the boughs of Börne’s great oak-tree
I soared, when in the vales the despot’s hand
Tightened the strangling chains round Germany.
Yes, I am of those plucky birds that make
Their course through Freedom’s bright aethereal sea.
Though I be just a sparrow in their wake,
Rather that little sparrow would I be
Than the caged nightingale that can’t take wing
And only to a prince’s car may sing.

4

No longer does the cargo vessel press
Across the ocean to enrich the few
Or swell the greedy merchant’s revenue:
It bears the seeds of human happiness.
It is a noble stallion prancing high,
Whose rider slays all hypocrites and crawlers,
It is the fearless scourge of human dolours,
It is a thought that dreams of Liberty.
The flag bears not the royal coat of arms
For the ship’s frightened crew to tremble under;
It bears the cloud on which, after the thunder,
After the lightning bolts of raging storms,
The reconciling Freedom rainbow forms.

5

The bridge of Love shall throw its spans unseen
Across from heart to heart; between the piers
Runs Passion’s wild and ever-rushing stream,
The swiftly flowing torrent of the years.
The bridge is diamond hard: it will not sag.
Across goes Freedom’s bravely shining flag.
Across goes Man. Where'er his feet may lead him,
Wherever he may choose to cast his eye,
He sees a friendly roof against the sky
And knows that food and drink are there to meet him;
A very home from home awaits to greet him,
Wherever he may make his bed and lie.
A bridge of purer faith shall pierce the clouds.
Man shall ascend it, climbing without fear
Its heavenward steps to gaze on, humbly proud,
The Eternal Archetype of All the Spirits.
Out of his bosom issues forth Mankind,
And to his bosom Men return again,
All conscious links in the great spirit-chain
By which Eternal Matter is confined.

6

New wine shall fill your glasses to the brim,
Pure Freedom wine’s intoxicating brew:
Not the unwary senses to bedim,
But jaded senses to exchange for new,
That with revived perception you may hear
The spheres in heaven singing high and low;
That the blood coursing through your veins may clear,
Transformed into pure Aether, which flows through
The Infinities; that your eye-beams may spear
Primordial Space, like warriors bold that go
To storm the starry summits without fear.
Between, like jack-o'-Lanterns in the sky,
Images of past woe are gliding by.

7

And there shall rise another Calderön,
Pearl-fisher in the tide of poetry,
With images like flames ascending from
The layered wood of the sweet Cedar-tree.
With golden lyre, he shall exalt in song
The bloody stamping out of Tyranny.
Mankind shall hear proud Victory’s refrain,
And Peace shall flourish in the world again.
He too shall sing how Mankind made a stand
Against the cruel hordes of Tyranny
Upon Mantible Bridge* [88]; how that brave band
Fought on through levelled spears to victory
And so set foot on Freedom’s hallowed land;
How Doctor of His Honour** came to be
Man, like the Constant Prince,*** condemned to languish
In chains until deliverance from anguish;
How Freedom came, The Daughter of the Air,****
Descending earthwards from aethereal space
To sing her magic songs, so wondrous fair;

How Life became a Dream***** of joy and grace,
And how the Cup of Happiness shone clear
Of furious ferment showing not a trace;
And how the sun shall put the clouds to flight,
Bringing sweet April-and-May-Mornings****** light.

8

But say, when is the new sun going to rise?
When will the bad old times be cracked asunder?
We saw the old sun sinking in the skies —
How long must night’s oppression keep us under?
The melancholy moon peers through the cloud,
And white mists, bivouacked in the vales below,
Hide all that lives on earth beneath their shroud.
Like blind men tapping through the dark we go.
Patience! For look, already heavenward bound,
The sun would chase the gloomy clouds away.
The very mists that crawl along the ground
Are Spirits’ dawn-breeze-wakened roundelay.
The morning star dances his upward way.
The mists are pierced by shafts of blood-red fire.
Do not the flowers unfold to greet the day?
Do you not hear the joyful feathered choir?
Now half the heavens are filled with radiance bright.
The snow-capped mountains blaze with ruby light.
The golden clouds rear up their noble heads
Like the sun’s fiery chariot-drawing steeds.
Look yonder, where the densest light rays run
In joyous throng to greet the new-born sun!

Notes by Engels:

* La puente de Mantible.
** El midico de su honra..
*** El principe constante.
**** La hija del aire.
***** La vida es sueño.
****** Mañano do Abril y Mayo.

 


Book Wisdom - Frederick Engels

Book Wisdom by Frederick Engels

Works of Frederick Engels, 1839

Book Wisdom [3]


Written: in March 1839
First published: in Der Bremer Stadtbote No. 8, March 24, 1839
Signed: Th. Hildebrandt


He is not wise who from his reading draws
Nothing but floods of useless erudition.
For all his learning, life’s mysterious laws
Are a closed book beyond his comprehension.
He who acquires a thorough textbook grounding
In Botany, won’t hear the grass that grows.
Nor will he ever teach true understanding
Who tells you all the dogma that he knows.
Oh, no! The germ lies hid in man’s own heart.
Who seeks the art of life must look within.
Burning the midnight oil will not impart
The secret of emotion’s discipline.
The man is lost who hears his own heart’s voice
And spurns it, wilfully misapprehending.
Of all your words so noble and so wise
The most profound is human understanding.

 


Ernst Moritz Arndt - Frederick Engels

Ernst Moritz Arndt by Frederick Engels

Ernst Moritz Arndt [98]


Written: in October-December 1840
First published: in Telegraph für Deutschland Nos. 2-5, January 1841
Signed: F. Oswald


Telegraph für Deutschland No. 2, January 1841

Like the faithful Eckart of the legend, old Arndt stands on the Rhine and warns the youth of Germany, who for many years now have been gazing across to the French Venusberg and the seductive, passionate maidens, the ideas, [99] that beckon from its pinnacles. But the wild youths do not heed the old hero and storm across, and not all of them remain in enervated prostration like the new Tannhäuser Heine.

This is Arndt’s position in relation to the German youth of today. Though all hold him in high esteem, his ideal of German life does not satisfy them; they want more freedom to act, fuller, more exuberant vitality, ardent, impetuous throbbing in the veins of world history which carry Germany’s life-blood. Hence the sympathy for France, not, of course, the sympathy of submission about which the French romance, but that loftier and freer form whose nature has been so admirably set forth by Börne in his Franzosenfresser, in contrast to Germanising one-sidedness.

Arndt has sensed that the present is estranged from him, that it does not respect him for his thought but respects his thought for the sake of his strong, manly personality. Hence, as a man whose life had been given meaning both by his talent and conviction and by the course of developments over a number of years, he was faced with the duty of leaving his nation a memorial of his cultural development, his way of thinking and his times, which he has done in his much discussed Erinnerungen aus dem äussern Leben.

Disregarding its trend for the moment, Arndt’s book is also aesthetically a most interesting publication. This concise, pithy language has not been heard in our literature for a long time and deserves to make a lasting impression on many of the young generation. Better firm than flabby! There are, of course, authors for whom the essence of the modern style is that every ripple of the muscles, every taut sinew of speech should be prettily enveloped in soft flesh, even at the risk of appearing effeminate. No, give me the manly, bony structure of Arndt’s style rather than the spongy manner of certain “modern” stylists! Particularly since Arndt has avoided the idiosyncrasies of his comrades of 1813 so far as possible and comes near to affectation only in the absolute use of the superlative (as in the southern Romance languages). Nor should one look in him for that repulsive mixing of languages which has again become the fashion; on the contrary, he shows how few alien shoots we need graft on our language without being at a loss. The carriage of our thoughts does indeed run better on most roads with German rather than French or Greek horses’, a fact which ridicule of the extremes of the puristic trend does not alter.

Let us now examine the book more closely. Most of it is taken up with the idyll of his early life, which is drawn with a genuinely poetic hand. Anyone who has spent his first years as Arndt did, can be eternally thankful to God! Not in the dust of a big city, where the joys of the individual are crushed by the interests of the whole, not in children’s homes or philanthropic prisons, where budding vigour is blunted; no, it was under the open sky in fields and woods that nature formed the man of steel at whom an effeminate generation gazes as at a northern warrior. The great plastic force with which Arndt depicts this period of his life almost compels one to believe that all idyllic composition are superfluous as long as our authors experience such idylls as Arndt did. What will appear most strange to our century is the self-discipline of the young Arndt, which combines German chastity with Spartan vigour. But this vigour, so naive, so free from any Jahn-like bragging, as it hums to itself its hoc tibi proderit olim [this will come in handy one day], cannot be recommended enough to our stay-at-home youths. Young men who shun cold water like mad dogs, who put on three or four layers of clothing when the weather is the least bit frosty, who make it a point of honour to obtain exemption from military service on grounds of physical weakness, are truly a fine support for the Fatherland! As for chastity, it is regarded as a crime even to speak of it in an age where one’s first inquiry in every town is the way to the “gate where the last of The houses stand”. [From Goethe’s ballad Der Gott und die Bajadere] I am certainly no abstract moralist, I detest all ascetic nonsense, and shall never pass judgment on fallen love; but it grieves me that moral seriousness threatens to disappear and that sensuality strives to set itself up as the highest good. The emancipation of the flesh in practice will always have to blush beside an Arndt.

With the year 1800 Arndt enters the profession allotted to him. Napoleon’s armies flood Europe, and as the French Emperor’s power increases Arndt’s hatred of him grows; the, Greifswald professor protests in the name of Germany against the oppression and has to flee. At last the German nation rises up and Arndt returns. We could wish that this part of the book contained more detail; Arndt retires modestly into the background before the arming of the nation and its deeds. Instead of leaving us to guess that he was not inactive he should have described his part in the developments of the time in greater detail, and told us the history of these days from the subjective standpoint. Later events are treated still more briefly. What is remarkable here is on the one hand the increasingly pronounced tendency to orthodoxy in religious matters, on the other the mysterious, almost servile, kiss-the-rod manner in which Arndt speaks of his suspension. But those who find this strange will have been convinced by Arndt’s statements issued recently in the public press, in which he regards his reinstatement as an act of justice, not of grace and favour, that he still possesses his ‘ old firmness and determination.

Arndt’s book gains particular importance, however, from the simultaneous publication of a mass of memoirs on the war of liberation. The glorious period when the German nation, for the first time in centuries, rose once more in all its power and greatness and opposed foreign oppression is vividly brought close to us again. And we Germans cannot recall these battles often enough if we are to keep awake our somnolent national consciousness; of course not in the sense of a party which believes it has now done everything and regards itself complacently in the mirror of history, resting on the laurels of 1813, but rather in the opposite sense. For the greatest result of the struggle was not the shaking off of foreign rule, whose elaborate artificiality, resting as it did solely on the Atlas shoulders of Napoleon, was bound to come crashing down of its own accord sooner or later, nor was it the “freedom” which was won; it was the deed itself, or rather an aspect of it, which only very few people at the time clearly sensed. That we became conscious of the loss of our national sanctuaries, that we armed ourselves without waiting for the most gracious permission of the sovereigns, that we actually compelled those in power to take their place at our head [Cf, K. Bade, Napoleon im jahre 1813, Altona, 1840 — Note by F. Engels], in short, that for a moment we acted as the source of state power, as a sovereign nation, that was the greatest gain of those years, and therefore after the war the men who had felt this most clearly and had acted accordingly with the greatest resolution, were bound to appear dangerous to the governments. — But how soon the moving power went to sleep again! The bane of disunity absorbed for the parts the impulse so much needed for the whole, split the general German interest into a multitude of provincial interests and made it impossible to provide Germany with a foundation for state life such as Spain created for herself in the Constitution of 1812. [100] On the contrary, the gentle spring rain of general promises which surprised us from the “higher regions” was too much for our hearts bowed down by oppression, and we fools did not reflect that there are promises the breaking of which can never be excused from the point of view of the nation, but very easily from that of the individual. (?) Then came the Congresses <[101] giving the Germans time to sleep off their intoxication with freedom and wake up to find themselves back in the old relationship of Your Most Gracious Majesty and Your Most Humble Servant. Those who had not yet lost their old aspirations, and could not reconcile themselves to having no active part in the life of the nation, were driven by all the forces of the time into the blind alley of Germanisation. Only a few distinguished spirits broke out of the labyrinth and found the path which leads to true freedom.

The Germanisers wanted to complete the facts of the war of liberation and to free a now materially independent Germany from foreign intellectual hegemony as well. But for that very reason Germanisation was negation, and the positive elements with which it plumed itself lay buried in an unclarity from which they never quite emerged; what did come up into the daylight of reason was for the most part paradoxical enough. Its whole world view was philosophically without foundation since it held that the entire world was created for the sake of the Germans, and the Germans themselves had long since arrived at the highest stage of evolution. The Germanising trend was negation, abstraction in the Hegelian sense. It created abstract Germans by stripping off everything that had not descended from national roots over sixty-four purely German generations. Even its seemingly positive features were negative, for Germany could only be led towards its ideals by negating a whole century and her development, and thus its intention was to push the nation back into the German Middle Ages or even into the primeval German purity of the Teutoburger Wald. Jahn embodied this trend in its extreme. This one-sidedness turned the Germans into the chosen people of Israel and ignored all the innumerable seeds of world history which had grown on soil that was not German. It is against the French especially, whose invasion had been repulsed and whose hegemony in external matters is based on the fact that they master, more easily than all nations at least, the form of European culture, namely, civilisation — it is against the. French that the iconoclastic fury was directed most of all. The great, eternal achievements of the revolution were abhorred as “foreign frivolities” or even “foreign lies and falsehoods”; no one thought of the kinship between this stupendous act of the people and the national uprising of 1813; that which Napoleon had introduced, the emancipation of the Israelites, trial by jury, sound civil law in place of the pandects, [102] was condemned solely because of its initiator. Hatred of the French became a duty. Every kind of thinking which could rise to a higher viewpoint was condemned as un-German. Hence patriotism too was essentially negative and left the Fatherland without support in the struggle of the age, while it went to great pains to invent bombastic German expressions for foreign words which had long been assimilated into German. If this trend had been concretely German, if it had taken the German for what he had become in two thousand years of history, if it had not overlooked the truest element of our destiny, namely, to be the pointer on the scales of European history, to watch over the development of the neighbouring nations, it would have avoided all its mistakes — On the other hand, one must not ignore the fact that Germanisation was a necessary stage in the formation of our national spirit and that together with the succeeding stage it formed the contrast on whose shoulders the modern world view rests.

Telegraph für Deutschland No. 3, January 1841

This contrast to the Germanising trend was the cosmopolitan liberalism of the South-German estates which worked for the negation of national differences and the formation of a great, free, united humanity. It corresponded to religious rationalism and stemmed from the same source, the philanthropy of the previous century, whereas the Germanising trend consistently led to theological orthodoxy, at which almost all its adherents (Arndt, Steffens, Menzel) arrived in due course. The one-sidedness of cosmopolitan liberalism has so often been exposed by its opponents, albeit in a one-sided fashion, that I can be brief where this trend is concerned. The July revolution at first seemed to favour it, but this event was exploited by all parties. The actual destruction of the Germanising trend or rather of its propagating power dates from the July revolution and was inherent in it. Yet so was the collapse of the cosmopolitan trend; for the overwhelming significance of the great week [The events of the July revolution in France (July 27-August 2, 1830)] was the restitution of the French nation in its position as a great power, whereby the other nations were compelled to close their ranks as well.

Even before this latest world-shaking event two men had been working quietly on the development of the German, or as it is preferably called the modern, spirit, two men who almost ignored each other in their lifetime and whose complementary relationship was not to be recognised until after their death, Börne and Hegel. Börne has often and most unjustly been branded as a cosmopolitan, but he was more German than his opponents. The Hallische Jahrbücher has recently linked a discussion of “political practice” with the name of Herr von Florencourt [103]; but he is certainly not its representative. He stands at the point where the extremes of the Germanising trend and cosmopolitanism meet, as happened in the Burschenschaften, [104] and was only superficially affected by the later developments of the national spirit. The man of political practice is Börne, and his place in history is that he fulfilled this calling perfectly. He tore the ostentatious finery off the Germanising trend and also unmercifully exposed the shame of cosmopolitanism, which merely had impotent, more pious wishes. He confronted the Germans with the words of the Cid: Lengua sin manos, cuemo osas fablar? [Tongue without hands, how dare you speak? (Poema del Cid.)] No one has described the glory of the deed like Börne. With him all is life, all is vigour. Only of his writings can it be said that they are deeds for freedom. Do not speak to me here of “reasoned definitions”, of “finite categories"! The manner in which Börne understood the position of the European nations and their destiny is not speculative. Yet Börne was the first to show the relationship of Germany and France in its reality and thereby did a greater service to the idea than the Hegelians, who were meanwhile learning Hegel’s Enzyklopädie by heart and thought that they had thereby done enough for the century. That same portrayal also proves how high Börne stands above the level of cosmopolitanism. Rational one-sidedness was as necessary for Börne as excessive schematism for Hegel; but instead of understanding this we do not get beyond the crude and often false axioms of the Briefe aus Paris.

By the side of Börne and opposed to him, Hegel, the man of thought, presented big already completed system to the nation. Authority did not take the trouble to work its way through the abstruse forms of Hegel’s system and his brazen style; but then, how could it have known that this philosophy would venture from the quiet haven of theory onto the stormy sea of actuality, that it was already brandishing its sword in order to strike directly against existing practice? For Hegel himself was such a solid, orthodox man, whose polemic was directed at precisely those trends which the state power rejected, at rationalism and cosmopolitan liberalism! But the gentlemen at the helm did not appreciate that these trends were only combated in order to make room for the higher, that the new teaching must first root itself in recognition of the nation before it could freely develop its living consequences. When Börne attacked Hegel he was perfectly right from his standpoint, but when authority protected Hegel, when it elevated his teaching almost to a Prussian philosophy of the state, it laid itself open to attack, a fact which it now evidently regrets. Or did Altenstein, whose more advanced standpoint was a legacy of a more liberal age, receive such a free hand here that everything was laid to his account? Be that as it may, when after Hegel’s death the fresh air of life breathed upon his doctrine, the “Prussian philosophy of the state” sprouted shoots of which no party had ever dreamt. Strauss will remain epoch-making in the theological field, Gans and Ruge in the political. Only now do the faint nebulae of speculation resolve themselves into the shining stars of the ideas which are to light the movement of the century. One may accuse Ruge’s aesthetic criticism of being prosaic and confined within the schematism of the doctrine; yet credit must go to him for showing the political side of the Hegelian system to be in accord with the spirit of the time and for restoring it in the nation’s esteem. Gans had done this only indirectly, by carrying the philosophy of history forward into the present; Ruge openly expressed the liberalism of Hegelianism, and Köppen supported him; neither was afraid of incurring enmity, both pursuing their course, even at the risk of a split in the school, and all due respect to their courage for it! The enthusiastic, unshakeable confidence in the idea, inherent in the New Hegelianism, is the sole fortress in which the liberals can find safe retreat whenever reaction gains a temporary advantage over them with aid from above.

These are the most recent developments of German political consciousness, and the task of our age is to complete the fusion of Hegel and Börne. There is already a good deal of Börne in Young Hegelianism, and Börne would have little hesitation in signing many an article in the Hallische Jahrbücher. However, the combining of thought and action is in part not yet conscious enough, in part it has not yet penetrated the nation. Börne is still looked upon by many as the exact opposite of Hegel, but just as Hegel’s practical importance for the present (not his philosophical significance for eternity) is not to be judged by the pure theory of his system, neither is Börne to be flatly rejected because of his one-sidedness and his extravagances, which have never been denied.

Telegraph für Deutschland No. 4, January 1841

I trust that I have characterised the attitude of the Germanising trend to the present day sufficiently and may now proceed to a detailed review of the trend’s individual aspects as expounded by Arndt in his book. The wide gulf which separates Arndt from the present generation is expressed most clearly in the fact that he is indifferent to those matters of state for which we sacrifice our life-blood. Arndt declares himself a decided monarchist; good. Yet he never once discusses whether the monarchy is to be constitutional or absolute. The point of difference is this: Arndt and his whole company believe that the well-being of the state consists in sovereign and people being attached to each other by sincere love and co-operating with each other in the striving for the common good. We, however, are convinced that the relationship between the governing and the governed must first be regulated by law before it can become and remain amicable. First law, then equity! Where is there a sovereign so bad that he does not love his people and is not loved by them — I speak here of Germany — simply because he is their sovereign? But where is there a sovereign who can claim to have brought his people any real advance since 1815? Is it not all our own work; is not what we own our in spite of control and supervision? It is all very fine to talk of the love between a sovereign and his people, and since the great poet [An ironical reference to Balthasar Gerhard Schumacher] of “Heil Dir im Siegerkranz” sang that “a free man’s love makes the steep heights secure where sovereigns stand”, ever since then infinite nonsense has been talked about it. The kind of government threatening us from a certain quarter might be called an up-to-date reaction. Patrimonial courts to promote the formation of a high aristocracy; guilds to reawaken a “respectable” burgher estate; encouragement of all so-called historical seeds, which in reality are old, cut-off stalks.

But it is not only in this respect that the Germanising trend has let itself be cheated of freedom of thought by a determined reaction; its ideas on the constitution are the whispered promptings of the gentlemen of the Berliner politisches Wochenblatt. It was painful to see how even the solid, quiet Arndt allowed himself to be dazzled by the sophisticated glitter of the “organic state”. Phrases about historical development, making use of the given factors, organism, and so on, must once have possessed a charm which entirely eludes us now because we realise that they are mostly fine words which do not seriously mean what they actually signify. Challenge these ghosts point-blank! What do you understand by the organic state? A state whose institutions have grown with and out of the nation in the course of the centuries, and which have not been constructed from theory. Very well; now apply this to Germany! This organism is supposed to consist of the citizens being divided into nobility, burghers and peasants, and everything else that goes with it. All this is supposed to lie hidden in nuce in the word organism. Is that not deplorable, shameful sophistry? Self-development of the nation, does that not look exactly like freedom? You grasp at it with both hands and what you get is the full burden of the Middle Ages and the ancien regime. Fortunately this sleight-of-hand cannot be laid to Arndt’s account. Not the supporters of division into estates, but we, its opponents, want an organic state life. The point at the moment is not “construction from theory”; it is what they want to blind us with: the self-development of the nation. We alone are serious and sincere about it. But these gentlemen do not know that every organism becomes inorganic as soon as it dies; they set the corpses of the past in motion with their galvanic wires and try to fool us that this is not a mechanism but life. They want to promote the self-development of the nation and fasten the ball and chain of absolutism to its ankle so that it will go ahead more quickly. They do not want to know that what they call theory, ideology, or God knows what, has long passed into the blood and sap of the nation and in part has already come to life; that not we, therefore, but they have lost their way in the utopias of theory. For that which was indeed still theory half a century ago has developed as an independent element in the state organism since the revolution. Moreover, and this is the main thing, does the development of mankind not rank above that of the nation?

And what about the estates? The dividing line between burghers and peasants simply does not exist; not even the historical school [105] takes it seriously; it is put there only pro forma, to make the separation of the nobility more plausible to us. Everything turns on the nobility. When the nobility goes, so does the estates system. And with the nobility’s position as an estate things look even worse than with its composition [A pun on the German words Stand and Bestand]. An entailed hereditary estate is absolute nonsense according to modern conceptions. Not in the Middle Ages, of course. In those days in the free cities of the Empire (as in Bremen, for example, even today) there were hereditary guilds with hereditary privileges, pure bakers’ blood and pure pewterers’ blood. Indeed, what is the pride of the nobility compared with the consciousness: My ancestors have been beer-brewers for twenty generations We still have butchers’, or in the more poetical Bremen name, bone-choppers’ blood in the nobility, since the military profession, laid down by Herr Fouqué as proper to it, is continual butchery and bone-chopping. For the nobility to regard itself as an estate, when no calling is exclusively reserved for it under the law of any state, neither the military nor that of the large landowner, is ridiculous arrogance. Anything written on the nobility could have as a motto this line by the troubadour William of Poitiers: “I'll make a song about sheer nothing.” And since the nobility feels its own inner nothingness, no nobleman can hide the pain of it, from the very intelligent Baron of Sternberg to the very unintelligent C. L. F. W. G. von Alvensleben. The tolerance which would leave the nobility the pleasure of regarding itself as something special so long as it does not demand any privileges is most misplaced. For as long as the nobility represents something special, it will desire and must have privileges. We stand by our demand: No estates, but a great, united nation of citizens with equal rights!

Telegraph für Deutschland No. 5, January 1841

Another thing which Arndt demands of his state is entails, in general an agrarian legislation laying down fixed conditions for landed property. Apart from its general importance, this point also deserves attention because here too the up-to-date reaction already mentioned threatens to put things back on the footing before 1789. How many have been raised to the nobility recently on condition that they institute an entail guaranteeing the prosperity of the family! — Arndt is definitely against the unlimited freedom and divisibility of landed property; he sees as its inevitable consequence the division of the land into plots none of which could support its owner. But he fails to see that complete freeing of the land provides the means of restoring in general the balance which in individual cases it may, of course, upset. While the complicated legislation in most German states and Arndt’s equally complicated proposals will never eliminate, but only aggravate anomalies in agrarian relations, they also hinder a voluntary return to the proper order in the event of any dislocation, necessitate extraordinary interference by the state and hinder the progress of this legislation by a hundred petty but unavoidable private considerations. By contrast, freedom of the land allows no extremes to arise, neither the development of big landowners into an aristocracy, nor the splitting up of fields into patches so small as to become useless. If one scale of the balance goes down too far, the content of the other soon becomes concentrated in compensation. And even if landed property were to fly from hand to hand I would rather have the surging ocean with its grand freedom than the narrow inland lake with its quiet surface, whose miniature waves are broken every three steps by a spit of land, the root of a tree, or a stone. It is not merely that the permission to entail means the consent of the state to the formation of an aristocracy; no, this fettering of landed property, like all entails, works directly towards a revolution. When the best part of the land is welded to individual families and made inaccessible to all other citizens, is not that a direct provocation of the people? Does not the right of primogeniture rest on a view of property which has long ceased to correspond to our ideas? As if one generation had the right to dispose absolutely of the property of all future generations, which at the moment it enjoys and administers, as if the freedom of property were not destroyed by so disposing of it that all descendants are robbed of this freedom! As if human beings could thus be tied to the soil for all eternity Incidentally, landed property well deserves the attention which Arndt devotes to it and the importance of the subject would certainly merit thorough discussion from the highest standpoint of the present time. Previous theories all suffer from the hereditary disease of German men of learning who think they must assert their independence by each having a separate system of his own.

If the retrograde aspects of Germanisation deserve closer examination partly for the sake of the revered man, who defends them as his own convictions, partly because of the favour which they have found of late in Prussia, another of its tendencies must be all the more decisively rejected because it is again threatening to prevail among us: hatred of the French. I will not join issue with Arndt and the other men of 1813, but the servile twaddle which without any principle all newspapers now serve up against the French is utterly repulsive to me. It requires a high degree of obsequiousness to be convinced by the July convention [106] that the Eastern question is a matter of life or death for Germany and that Mohammed Ali endangers our nationhood. By supporting the Egyptian, France has from that standpoint indeed committed against the German nation the same crime of which she became guilty at the beginning of the century. It is sad that for half a year already one has not been able to open a newspaper without meeting this newly awakened French-eating fury. And what is it for? To give the Russians enough additional land and the English enough trading power so that they can get us Germans in a vice and crush us to smithereens! The stable principle of England and the system of Russia, these are the sworn enemies of European progress, not France and her movement. But because two German sovereigns have found it proper to join the convention, the affair has suddenly become a German concern, France is the old godless, “Gallic” sworn enemy, and the perfectly natural arming of a truly insulted France is a crime against the German nation. The ridiculous clamour of a few French journalists for the Rhine frontier is thought worthy of lengthy rejoinders, which are unfortunately never read by Frenchmen, and Becker’s song “They shall not have it"’ ["Sie sollen ihn nicht haben” — the first line of N. Becker’s song Der deutsche Rhein ] is par force turned into a folk-song. I do not grudge Becker his song’s success and I will not examine its poetic content, I am even glad to hear such expressions of German sentiment from the left bank of the Rhine, but I share the view of the articles already published in this journal which have just come to hand that it is ridiculous to want to elevate this modest poem into a national anthem. “They shall not have it.” So again negative? Can you be satisfied with a negative folk -song? Can German nationhood find support solely in polemic against foreign countries? The text of the Marseillaise is not worth much in spite of all its enthusiasm, but how much more noble is its reaching out beyond nationality to mankind. And now, after Burgundy and Lorraine have been torn from us, after we have let Flanders become French and Holland and Belgium independent, after France has already advanced in Alsace as far as the Rhine and only a relatively small part of the once German left bank of the Rhine is still ours, we are not ashamed to talk big and to write: at least you shall not have the last piece. Oh, the Germans! And if the French had the Rhine, we would cry with the most ridiculous pride: they shall not have it, the free German Weser, and so on to the Elbe and Oder, until Germany was divided up between France and Russia, and it was only left for us to sing: they shall not have it, the free stream of German theory, so long as it calmly flows into the ocean of infinity, so long as a single unpractical ideal fish flaps a fin on its bottom! Instead of which we should do penance in sackcloth and ashes for the sins through which we have lost all those beautiful lands, for the disunity and the betrayal of the idea, for the provincial patriotism which deserts the whole for the sake of local advantage, and for the lack of national consciousness. True, it is a fixed idea with the French that the Rhine is their property, but to this arrogant demand the only reply worthy of the German nation is Arndt’s: “Give back Alsace and Lorraine[”

For I am of the opinion, perhaps in contrast to many whose standpoint I share in other respects, that the reconquest of the German-speaking left bank of the Rhine is a matter of national honour, and that the Germanisation of a disloyal Holland and of Belgium is a political necessity for us. Shall we let the German nationality be completely suppressed in these countries, while the Slavs are rising ever more powerfully in the east? Shall we give up the Germanness of our most beautiful provinces to buy the friendship of France; possession going back barely a century which could not even assimilate what was conquered-shah we accept this and the treaties of 1815 [the decisions of the Vienna Congress] as a judgment of the world spirit against which there is no appeal?

On the other hand, however, we are not worthy of the Alsatians so long as we cannot give them what they now have: a free public life in a great state. Without doubt, there will be another war between us and France, and then we shall see who is worthy of the left bank of the Rhine. Until then we can well leave the question to the development of our nationhood and of the world spirit, until then let us work for a clear, mutual understanding among the European nations and strive for the inner unity which is our prime need and the basis of our future freedom. So long as our Fatherland remains split we shall be politically null, and public life, developed constitutionalism, freedom of the press, and all else that we demand will be mere pious wishes always only half-fulfilled; so let us strive for this and not for the extirpation of the French! Nevertheless, Germanising negation has still not fully completed its task: there is still plenty to be sent home over the Alps, the Rhine, and the Vistula. The Russians can have the pentarchy, [107] the Italians their papism with all its hangers-on, their Bellini, Donizetti and even Rossini if they want to make him out greater than Mozart and Beethoven, and the French their arrogant opinion of us, their vaudevilles and operas, their Scribe and Adam. We want to chase all these crazy foreign habits and fashions, all the superfluous foreign words back whence they came; we want to cease to be the dupes of foreigners and want to stand together as a single, indivisible, strong, and with God’s will free German nation.

 


F. W. Krummacher’s Sermon on Joshua - Frederick Engels

F. W. Krummacher’s Sermon on Joshua by Frederick Engels

Works of Frederick Engels, 1839

F. W. Krummacher’s Sermon on Joshua [28]


Written: in May 1839
First published: in the Telegraph für Deutschland No. 84, May 1839


In a recent sermon in Elberfeld on Joshua 10:12-13, where Joshua bids the sun stand still, Krummacher advanced the interesting thesis that pious Christians, the Elect, should not suppose from this passage that Joshua was here accommodating himself to the views of the people, but must believe that the earth stands still and the sun moves round it. In defence of this view he showed that it is expressed throughout the Bible. The fool’s cap which the world will give them for that, they, the Elect, should cheerfully put in their pockets with the many others they have already received. — We should be happy to receive a refutation of this sad anecdote, which comes to us from a reliable source.

 


From Elberfeld - Frederick Engels

From Elberfeld by Frederick Engels

Works of Frederick Engels, 1839

From Elberfeld


Written: in the autumn of 1839
First published: in the Telegraph für Deutschland No. 178, November 1839
Signed: S. Oswald


For some time there have been loud and bitter complaints about the deplorable power of scepticism; here and there one looked gloomily at the toppled edifice of the old faith, anxiously waiting for the clouds covering the sky of the future to break. With a similar feeling of melancholy I laid down the Lieder eines heimgegangenen Freundes; they are the songs of a dead man, a genuine Wuppertal Christian, recalling the happy time when one could still cherish a childlike belief in a doctrine whose contradictions can now be counted on the fingers, when one burned with pious zeal against religious liberalism, a zeal at which people now smile or blush. — The very place of printing shows that these verses must not be judged by ordinary standards, that no brilliant thoughts, no unfettered soaring of a free spirit are to be found here; indeed, it would be unfair to expect anything but a product of pietism. The only proper standard that can be applied to these poems is provided by earlier Wuppertal literature, about which I have already vented my irritation at length to allow one of its products for once to be judged from a different standpoint. And here it is undeniable that this book reveals progress. The poems, which appear to come from a layman, although not an uneducated one, are in their thought at least on the level of those of the preachers Döring and Pol; at times even a faint hint of romanticism, as far as that can go together with the Calvinistic doctrine, is unmistakable. As regards form, they are undeniably the best that Wuppertal has produced so far; new or unusual rhymes are often used not without skill; the author even rises to the distich or the free ode, forms which are actually too elevated for him. [Friedrich Wilhelm] Krummacher’s influence is unmistakable; his phrases and metaphors are used everywhere. But when the poet sings:

Pilgrim: Though lamb of Jesus’ flock you be,
No ornament of His I see
On Thee, O lamb so still.

Little Lamb: Oppressed, but only to arise,
The lamb shall go to Paradise.
Be silent, Pilgrim, be a lamb;
Meek and low through gate may go,
Be silent, pray, and be a lamb,

this is no imitation, but Krummacher himself! Nevertheless one can find passages in these poems which are truly moving by their genuineness of feeling; but, alas, one can never forget that this feeling is for the most part morbid! And yet, even here one can see how fortifying and comforting a religion which has truly become a matter of the heart is, even in its saddest extremes.

Dear reader, forgive me for presenting you with a book which can be of infinitely little interest to you; you were not born in Wuppertal, perchance you have never stood on its hills and seen the two towns [Barmen and Elberfeld] at your feet. But you too have a homeland and perhaps return to it with the same love as 1, however ordinary it looks, once you have vented your anger at its perversities.

 


German Volksbuecher - Frederick Engels

German Volksbücher by Frederick Engels

Works of Frederick Engels, 1839

German Volksbücher


Written: in May-October 1839
First published: in Telegraph für Deutschland Nos. 186 and 188-191, Nov. 1839
Signed: Friedrich Oswald

[German Volksbücher were similar to the English chap-books of the same period, that is, cheap popular books intended for the mass of the people and containing legends, tales, poetry, etc.]


Telegraph für Deutschland No. 186, November 1839

Is it not a great commendation for a book to be a popular book, a book for the German people? Yet this gives us the right to demand a great deal of such a book; it must satisfy all reasonable requirements and its value in every respect must be unquestionable. The popular book has the task of cheering, reviving and entertaining the peasant when he returns home in the evening tired from his hard day’s work, making him forget his toil, transforming his stony field into a fragrant rose garden; it has the task of turning the craftsman’s workshop and the wretched apprentice’s miserable attic into a world of poetry, a golden palace, and showing him his sturdy sweetheart in the guise of a beautiful princess; but it also has the task, together with the Bible, of clarifying his moral sense, making him aware of his strength, his rights, his freedom, and arousing his courage and love for his country.

If, generally speaking, the qualities which can fairly be demanded of a popular book are rich poetic content, robust humour, moral purity, and, for a German popular book, a strong, trusty German spirit, qualities which remain the same at all times, we are also entitled to demand that it should be in keeping with its age, or cease to be a book for the people. If we take a look in particular at the present time, at the struggle for freedom which produces all its manifestations — the development of constitutionalism, the resistance to the pressure of the aristocracy, the fight of the intellect against pietism and of gaiety against the remnants of gloomy asceticism — I fail to see how it can be wrong to demand that the popular book should help the uneducated n and show him the truth and reasonableness of these =s, although, of course, not by direct deduction; but on no account should it encourage servility and toadying to the aristocracy or pietism. It goes without saying, however, that customs of earlier times, which it would be absurd or even wrong to practise today, must have no place in a popular book.

By these principles we should, and must, also judge those books which are now genuinely popular German books and are usually grouped together under this name. They are products in part of medieval German or Romance poetry, in part of popular superstition. Earlier despised and derided by the upper classes, they were, as we know, sought out by the romantics, adapted, even extolled. But romanticism looked at their poetic content alone, and how incapable it was of grasping their significance as popular books is shown by Görres’ work on them [J. Görres, Die teutschen Volksbücher]. Görres, as he has shown but lately, actually versifies all his judgments. Nevertheless, the usual view of these books still rests on his work, and Marbach even refers to it in the announcement of his own publication. The three new revised adaptations of these books, by Marbach in prose, and Simrock in prose and poetry two of which are again intended for the people [29] call for another precise examination of the material adapted here from the point of view of its popular value.

So long as opinions about the poetry of the Middle Ages vary so widely, the assessment of the poetic value of these books must be left to the individual reader; but naturally no one would deny that they really are genuinely poetic. Even if they cannot pass the test as popular books, their poetic content must be accorded full recognition; yes, in Schiller’s words:

What in immortal song shall live forever,
Is doomed to die in life,
[From Schiller’s poem Die Götter Griechenlands]

many a poet may find yet one more reason to save for poetry by means of adaptation what proves impossible to preserve for the people.

There is a very significant difference between the tales of German and Romance origin. The German tales, genuine folk stories, place the man in action in the foreground; the Romance give prominence to the woman, either as one who suffers (Genovefa), or as one who loves, passive towards passion even in her love. There are only two exceptions, Die Haimomkinder and Fortunat, both Romance but also folk legends; while Octavianus, Melusina, etc., are products of court poetry which only reached the people later in prose adaptations. — Of the humorous tales only one, Salomon und Morolf, is not directly of Germanic origin, while Eulenspiegel, Die Schildbürger, etc., are indisputably ours.

If we view all these books in their entirety and judge them by the principles stated at the beginning, it is clear that they satisfy these requirements only in the one respect that they have poetry and humour in rich measure and in a form which is easily understood in general even by the least educated, but in other respects they are far from adequate, some of them a complete contradiction, others only partially acceptable. Since they are the products of the Middle Ages, they naturally fail entirely in the special purpose which the present age might require them to fulfil. Thus in spite of the outward richness of this branch of literature and in spite of the declamations of Tieck and Görres, they still leave much to be desired; whether this gap is ever to be filled is another question which I will not take it upon myself to answer.

Telegraph für Deutschland No. 188, November 1839

To proceed now to individual cases, the most important one is undoubtedly the Geschichte vom gehörnten Siegfried. — I like this book; it is a tale which leaves little to be desired; it has the most exuberant poetry written sometimes with the greatest naivety and sometimes with the most beautiful humorous pathos; there is sparkling wit — who does not know the priceless episode of the fight between the two cowards? It has character, a bold, fresh, youthful spirit which every young wandering craftsman can take as an example, even though he no longer has to fight dragons and giants. And once the misprints are corrected, of which the (Cologne) edition in front of me has more than a fair share, and the punctuation is put right, Schwab’s and Marbach’s adaptations will not be able to compare with this genuinely popular style. [30] The people have also shown themselves grateful for it; I have not come across any other popular book as often as this one.

Herzog Heinrich der Löwe. — Unfortunately I have not been able to get hold of an old copy of this book; the new edition printed in Einbeck [31] seems to have replaced it entirely. It starts with the genealogy of the House of Brunswick going back to the year 1735; then follows a historical biography of Herzog Heinrich and the popular legend. It also contains a tale which tells the same story about Godfrey of Bouillon as the popular legend of Heinrich der Löwe, the story of the slave Andronicus ascribed to a Palestinian abbot called Gerasimi with the end substantially altered, and a poem of the new romantic school of which I cannot remember the author, in which the story of the lion is told once more. Thus the legend on which the popular book is based disappears entirely under the trappings with which the munificence of the clever publisher has furnished it. The legend itself is very beautiful, but the rest is of no interest; what do Swabians care about the history of Brunswick? And what room is there for the wordy modern romance after the simple style of the popular book? But that has also disappeared; the adapter, a man of genius, whom I see as a parson or schoolmaster at the end of the last century, writes as follows:

“Thus the goal of the journey was reached, the Holy Land lay before their eyes, they set foot on the soil with which the most significant memories of religious history are linked! The pious simplicity which had looked forward in longing to this moment Changed into fervent devotion here, found complete satisfaction here and became the keenest joy in the Lord.”

Restore the legend in its old language, add other genuine folk legends to make a complete book, send this out among the people, and it would keep the poetic sense alive; but in this form it does not deserve to circulate among the people.

Telegraph für Deutschland No. 189, November 1839

Herzog Ernst. — The author of this book was no great poet, for he found all the poetical elements in oriental fairy-tales. The book is well written and very entertaining for the people; but that is all. Nobody will believe any longer in the reality of the fantasies which occur in it; it can therefore be left in the hands of the people without alteration.

I now come to two legends which the German people created and developed, the most profound that the folk poetry of any people has to show. I mean the legends of Faust and of Der ewige Jude. They are inexhaustible; any period can adopt them without altering their essence; and even if the adaptations of the Faust legend after Goethe belong with the Iliads post Homerum, they still always reveal to us new aspects, not to mention the importance of the Ahasucrus legend for the poetry of later times. But how do these legends appear in the popular books! Not as products of the free imagination are they conceived, no, as children of a slavish superstition. The book about the Wandering Jew even demands a religious belief in its contents which it seeks to justify by the Bible and a lot of stale legends; it contains only the most superficial part of the legend itself, but preaches a very lengthy and tedious Christian sermon on the Jew Ahasuerus. The Faust legend is reduced to a common witches’ tale embellished with vulgar sorcerer’s anecdotes; what little poetry is preserved in the popular comedy has almost completely disappeared. These two books are not only incapable of offering any poetical enjoyment, in their present shape they are bound to strengthen and renew old superstitions; or what else is to be expected of such devilish work? The awareness of the legend and its contents seems to be disappearing altogether among the people, too; Faust is thought to be no more than a common sorcerer and Ahasuerus the greatest villain since Judas Iscariot. But should it not be possible to rescue both these legends for the German people, to restore them to their original purity and to express their essence so clearly that the deep meaning does not remain entirely unintelligible even to the less educated? Marbach and Simrock have still to adapt these legends; may they exercise wise judgment in the process!

We have before us yet another series of popular books, namely, the humorous ones, Eulenspiegel, Salomon und Morolf, Der Plaff vom Kalenberge, Die sieben Schwaben, and Die Schildbürger. This is a series such as few other nations have produced. The wit, the natural manner of both arrangement and workmanship, the good-natured humour which always accompanies the biting scorn so that it should not become too malicious, the strikingly comical situations could indeed put a great deal of our literature to shame. What author of the present day has sufficient inventiveness to create a book like Die Schildbürger? How prosaic Mundt’s humour appears compared with that of Die sieben Schwaben! Of course, a quieter time was needed to produce such things than ours which, like a restless businessman, is always talking about the important questions it has to answer before it can think of anything else. — As regards the form of these books, little needs changing, except for removing the odd flat joke and distortions of style. Several editions of Eulenspiegel, marked with the stamp of Prussian censorship, are not quite complete; there is a coarse joke missing right at the beginning which Marbach illustrates in a very good woodcut.

In sharp contrast to these are the stories of Genovefa, Griseldis and Hirlanda, three books of Romance origin, each of which has a woman for heroine, and a suffering woman at that; they illustrate the attitude of the Middle Ages to religion, and very poetically too; only Genovefa and Hirlanda are too conventionally drawn. But, for heaven’s sake, what are the German people to do with them today? One can well imagine the German people as Griseldis, of course, and the princes as Markgraf Walther; but then the comedy would have to end quite differently from the way it does in the popular book; both sides would resent the comparison here and there on good grounds. If Griseldis is to remain a popular book I see it as a petition to the High German Federal Assembly for the emancipation of women. But one knows, here and there, how this kind of romantic petition was received four years ago, which makes me wonder greatly that Marbach was not subsequently counted among the Young Germans. [32] The people have acted Griseldis and Genovefa long enough, let them now play Siegfried and Reinald for a change; but the right way to get them to do so is surely not to praise these old stories of humiliation.

The first half of the book Kaiser Octavianus belongs to the same class, while the second half is more like the love stories proper. The story of Helena is merely an imitation of Octavianus, or perhaps both are different versions of the same legend. The second half of Octavianus is an excellent popular book and one which can be ranked only with Siegfried; the characterisation of Florens and his foster-father Clemens is excellent, and so is that of Claudius; Tieck had it very easy here. [33] But running right through is there not the idea that noble blood is better than common blood? And how often do we not find this idea among the people themselves! If this idea cannot be banished from Octavianus — and I think it is impossible — if I consider that it must first be eradicated where constitutional life is to arise, then let the book be as poetic as you like, censeo Carthaginem esse delendam. [I am of the opinion that Carthage must be destroyed]

Telegraph für Deutschland No. 190, November 1839

In contrast to the tearful tales of suffering and endurance I have mentioned are three others which celebrate love. They are Magelone. Melusina and Tristan. I Like Magelone best as a popular book; Melusina is again full of absurd monstrosities and fantastic exaggerations so that one could almost see it as a kind of Don Quixote tale, and I must ask again: what do the German people want with it? On top of that the story of Tristan and Isolde — I will not dispute its poetic value because I love the wonderful rendering by Gottfried von Strassburg, [34] even if one may find defects here and there in the narrative — but there is no book that it is less desirable to put into the hands of the people than this. Of course, here again there is a close connection with a modern theme, the emancipation of women; a skilful poet would today hardly be able to exclude it from an adaptation of Tristan without falling into a contrived and tedious form of moralising poetry. But in a popular book where this question is out of place the entire narrative is reduced to an apology for adultery and whether that should be left in the hands of the people is highly questionable. In the meanwhile the book has almost disappeared and one only rarely comes across a copy.

Telegraph für Deutschland No. 191, November 1839

Die Haimonskinder and Fortunat, where we again see the man in the centre of the action, are another couple of true popular books. Here the merriest humour with which the son of Fortunat fights all his adventures, there the bold defiance, the unrestrained relish in opposition which in youthful vigour stands up to the absolute, tyrannical power of Charlemagne and is not afraid, even before the eyes of the prince, to take revenge with its own hand for insults it suffered. Such a youthful spirit that allows us to overlook many weaknesses must prevail in the popular book; but where is it to be found in Griseldis and its like?

Last but not least, the Hundertjährige Kalender, a work of genius, the super-clever Traumbuch, the unfailing Glücksrad, and similar progeny of miserable superstition. Anyone who has even glanced at his book, knows with what wretched sophistries Görres made excuses for this rubbish. All these dreary books have been honoured with the Prussian censor’s stamp. They are, of course, neither revolutionary, like Börne’s letters [L. Börne, Briefe aus Paris], nor immoral, as people claim Wally [K. Gutzkow, Wally, die Zweiflerin] is. We can see how wrong are the charges that the Prussian censorship is exceedingly strict. I hardly need waste any more words on whether such rubbish should remain among the people.

Nothing need be said of the rest of the popular books; the stories of Pontus, Fierabras, etc., have long been lost and so no longer deserve the name. But I believe I have shown, even in these few notes, how inadequate this literature appears, when judged according to the interest of the people and not the interest of poetry. What is necessary are adaptations of a strict selection which do not needlessly depart from the old style and are issued in attractive editions for the people. To eradicate forcibly any which cannot stand up to criticism would be neither easy nor advisable; only that which is pure superstition should be denied the stamp of the censor. The others are disappearing as it is; Griseldis is rare, Tristan almost unobtainable. In many areas, in Wuppertal, for example, it is not possible to find a single copy; in other places, Cologne, Bremen, etc., almost every shopkeeper has copies in his windows for the peasants who come into town.

But surely the German people and the best of these books deserve intelligent adaptations? Not everybody is capable of producing such adaptations, of course; I know only two people with sufficient critical acumen and taste to make the selection, and skill to handle the old style; they are the brothers Grimm. But would they have the time and inclination for this work? Marbach’s adaptation is quite unsuitable for the people. What can one hope for when he starts straight away with Griseldis? Not only does he lack all critical sense, but he cannot resist making quite unnecessary omissions; he has also made the style quite flat and insipid — compare the popular version of the Gehörnter Siegfried and all the others with the adaptation. There is nothing but sentences torn apart, and changed word order for which the only justification was Herr Marbach’s mania to appear original here since he lacked all other originality. What else could have driven him to alter the most beautiful passages of the popular book and furnish it with his unnecessary punctuation? For anyone who does not know the popular version, Marbach’s tales are quite good; but as soon as one compares the two, one realises that Marbach’s sole service has been to correct the misprints. His woodcuts vary greatly in value. — Simrock’s adaptation is not yet far enough advanced for judgment to be passed on it; but I trust him more than his rival. His woodcuts are also consistently better than Marbach’s.

These old popular books with their old-fashioned tone, their misprints and their poor woodcuts have for me an extraordinary, poetic charm; they transport me from our artificial modern “conditions, confusions and fine distinctions” into a world which is much closer to nature. But that is not what matters here; Tieck, of course, made this poetic charm his chief argument — but what weight has the authority of Tieck, Görres and all other romantics when reason contradicts it and when it is a question of the German people?

 


Joel Jacoby - Frederick Engels

Joel Jacoby by Frederick Engels

Works of Frederick Engels, 1840

Joel Jacoby


Written: in January-March 1840
First published: in the Telegraph für Deutschland No. 55, April 1840
Signed: Friedrich Oswald


Görres’ troupe of tight-rope dancers has acquired a valuable recruit in Joel Jacoby. The role of clown was previously performed by Herr Guido Görres, whose jokes, however, were not appreciated by the public; but in his Kampf und Sieg the new member has recently again demonstrated his vocation for this role in surprising fashion. Such a versatile man, who can wear with equal grace the red cap and purple of David, the frock-coat of a candidate eager for a post, or the penitential shirt of a catechumen, who finds pleasure in acting as a walking advertisement, carrying in front of him an issue of the Berliner politisches Wochenblatt and behind him the publications list of Manz in Regensburg — such a man is quite at his ease in all roles. Now he makes his first appearance without being in the least embarrassed, and while “Prosperity and peace, struggle and victory, sound their strains for you”, he has one eye on the Order of the Red Eagle and the other on the bishop’s mitre.

“What should I give you for your refreshment?” he asks the public. “Do you want something from the year 1832 or 1834, 1836 or 1839? What should I declaim, Marat or Jarcke, David or Görres or Hegel?” But he is generous and gives us a ragout of all the reminiscences that spring up in the desert of his mind, and it is true that he gives us something refreshing.

One is perplexed how to deal with this nonsense. I shall readily be permitted not to analyse the perfidy of disposition and chaotic confusion of ideas which distinguish also this work of the author; we are indeed faced with a semi-lunatic in whose mind his own shapeless thought embryos have other people’s ideas grafted on them to produce an unbridled orgy! How much, for example, can our poet know of his own past if he calls himself “a quiet man"! He, who for the past eight years has continually shouted, raged and stormed for the revolution, against the revolution, for Prussia, for the Pope. He, a quiet man? He, whose plaints were always equivalent to complaints [A pun on the German words Klagen and Verklagen] the born informer who always cast suspicion on a massive scale — does he belong to the country’s quiet men?

Franz Karl Joel Jacoby’s confusion of language is in keeping with his confusion of ideas. I would never have believed that the German language could be so closely linked with the most confused conceptions. Words which have never been seen in company with one another are here thrown together; ideas which are mutually antagonistic are here coupled together by an all-powerful verb; the most lawful and innocent expressions occur suddenly among reminiscences from Joel’s revolutionary years, among suspicious-looking phrases of Menzel’s, Leo’s and Görres’, among incorrectly understood thoughts of Hegel’s, and over all this the poet brandishes his riding-whip so that the whole wild pack rushes along, knocking one another over, turning somersaults, and reeling, until it finally comes to rest in the bosom of the church as the sole source of salvation.

The actual content of this masterpiece, which is composed in accordance with a pseudo-parallelism, in the old “grand manner of saying everything twice” (and even three or six times!), consists of the lyrical laments of a Jew and a catechumen, and then the laments of a Catholic, where the author abandons one-sided lyrical subjectivity and develops a genuine modern drama, in the centre of which the vigorous personality of the author acts a tragic role (he is at least mournful enough to look at), and over whose disconsolate confusion rises the medieval dawn of the Catholic Church. The new prophet Joel rises up in gigantic form out of the modern chaos and predicts the downfall of all revolutionary, liberal, Hegeling, [49] and Protestant efforts, which will give way to a new age of absence of thought. A curse is pronounced on everything that does not bow down before the crosier. Only the “Prussian Fatherland” receives pia desideria [Pious wishes]; on the other hand, the Carlist Basques and the “Belgian nightingale” [50] perish to the joy of their master Loyola. One sees that the terrorism of the Jacobin era remains firmly in Herr Jacoby’s memory. A bloody judgment is held on all enemies of Jesuitism and the monarchist principle, above all on the new philosophers, who carry a dagger in a sheath of mind-confusing ideas, and among their many-coloured rags the well-known shroud (at least Herr Jacoby knows it very well from former days) in which the priests and princes together sleep their sleep of death. But the new prophet knows them, “I have always understood you,” he says himself. On the other hand, he acquits the master [Hegel] because a few of the latter’s ideas have entered Herr Jacoby’s heated brain like snowflakes, and there, of course, have turned to water. In face of the chorus of vultures and owls that now follows, as also in face of the infernal rejoicing, criticism is justly silent.

In Joel Jacoby we see the horrifying extreme to which all knights of unreason are driven in the end. That is the final outcome of all hostility to free thought, of all opposition to the absolute power of the mind, whether it appears in the form of wild, unruly sansculottism or the unthinking servile mind; whether it is represented by the parted hair of the pietist or the tonsure of the priest. Joel Jacoby is a living trophy, a sign of the victory which the thinking mind has achieved. Anyone who has ever entered the lists on behalf of the nineteenth century can gaze in triumph on this unfortunate poet of our time, for sooner, or later all its other adversaries will suffer the same fate.

 


Karl Beck - Frederick Engels

Karl Beck by Frederick Engels

Works of Frederick Engels, 1839

Karl Beck


Written: in November-early December 1839
First published: in the Telegraph für Deutschland Nos. 202-203, December 1839
Signed: Friedrich Oswald


Telegraph für Deutschland No. 202, December 1839

I am a Sultan, driven by storms that blow,
My warrior hosts are armoured forms of song,
And grief has laid a turban on my brow
With many mysteries its folds among.
[K. Beck, Nächte. Gepanzerte Lieder. From the poem Der Sultan]

With these bombastic words Herr Beck approached the German poets’ ranks, demanding admission; in his eyes the proud awareness of his calling, about his lips an expression of modern world-weariness. Thus he stretched out his hand for the laurel wreath. Two years have passed since then; does the laurel appeasingly cover the “mysterious folds” of his brow?

There was much boldness in his first collection of poems. Gepanzerte Lieder, a Neue Bibel, a Junges Palästina [35] — the twenty-year-old poet jumped straight from the top form into the third heaven! That was a fire such as had not blazed for a long time, a fire which gave out much smoke because it came from wood that was too fresh and green.

The Young Literature developed so rapidly and brilliantly that its adversaries perceived they stood to lose rather than gain by arrogant rejection or condemnation. It was high time to take a closer look at it and to attack its real weaknesses. Thus, the Young Literature was, of course, recognised as an equal. Soon quite a number of these weaknesses were found — whether real or apparent does not concern us here., but the loudest claim was that the former Young Germany had wanted to dethrone lyric poetry. Heine, of course, fought against the Swabian[36]; Wienbarg made bitter comments on the humdrum lyrics and their eternal monotony; Mundt rejected all lyrics as being out of tune with the times and prophesied a literary Messiah of prose. That was too much. We Germans have always been proud of our songs; if the Frenchman boasted of his hard-won charter and derided our censorship, we pointed proudly to philosophy from Kant to Hegel and to the line of songs from the Song of Ludwig [37] to Nikolaus Lenau. Are we to be deprived of this lyrical treasure? Behold, there comes the lyrical poetry of the “Young Literature” with Franz Dingelstedt, Ernst von der Haide, Theodor Creizenach and Karl Beck.

Beck’s Nächte appeared shortly before Freiligrath’s poems. [F. Freiligrath, Gedichte] We know what a sensation both these collections of poems made. Two young lyrical poets had emerged with whom at that time none of the younger could be ranked. A comparative study of Beck and Freiligrath was made in the Elegante Zeitung [Zeitung für die elegante Welt] by Kühne [38] in the manner familiar from the Charaktere. I would like to apply Wienbarg’s remark about G. Pfizer to this criticism. [39]

The Nächte are chaos. Everything lies in motley disorder. Images, often bold, like strange rock formations; seeds of a future life, but drowned in a sea of phrases; now and then a flower begins to bud, an island to take firm shape, a crystal layer to form. But still everything is in confusion and disorder. The words:

Oh, how the frenzied, flashing images
Race through my wrathful, thunder-laden head,
[K. Beck, Nächte. Gepanzerte Lieder. Zweiundzwanzigste Nacht]

fit not Börne but Beck himself.

The image which Beck gives of Börne in his first attempt is terribly distorted and untrue; Kühne’s influence here is unmistakable. Apart from the fact that Börne would never have used such phrases, he also knew nothing of all the desperate world-weariness which Beck ascribes to him. Is that the clear-headed Börne, the strong, imperturbable character whose love warmed but did not burn, least of all himself? No, it is not Börne, but merely a vague ideal of a modern poet composed of Heine’s coquetry and Mundt’s flowery phrases; the Lord preserve us from its realisation! Frenzied and flashing images never raced in Börne’s head; his locks never stood on end with curses against heaven; in his heart midnight never sounded, but always morning; his sky was never blood-red but always blue. Fortunately, Börne was never filled with such dreadful despair that he could have written Die achtzehnte Nacht. If Beck ‘ did not gabble so much about the Red of Life with which his Börne writes I should believe that he had never read the Franzosenfresser. [L. Börne, Menzel, der Franzosenfresser] Let Beck take the most melancholy passage of the Franzosenfresser and it is bright day compared with his affected night-of-storm despair. Is not Börne poetic enough in himself, must he first be spiced with this newfangled worldweariness? I say newfangled because I can never believe that this sort of thing is a part of genuinely modern poetry. Börne’s greatness is precisely that he was above the miserable flowery phrases and cliquish catchwords of our days.

Telegraph für Deutschland No. 203, December 1839

Before a definite judgment of the Nächte could be formed, Beck had already come forward with a new series of poems. Der fahrende Poet showed him to us from a different angle. The storm had blown itself out and order began to emerge out of chaos. One had not expected such excellent descriptions as those in the first and second songs; nor had one believed that Schiller and Goethe, who had fallen into the clutches of our pedantic aesthetics, could offer material for such a poetic unity as is to be found in the third song, nor that Beck’s poetic reflection could hover in almost philistine calm over the Wartburg as now in fact it did.

With Der fahrende Poet Beck had formally entered literature. Beck announced the Stille Lieder, and the journals reported that he was working on a tragedy, Verlorene Seelen.

A year passed. Except for a few poems nothing was heard of Beck. The Stille Lieder remained unpublished and nothing definite could be learned of the Verlorene Seelen. Eventually, his Novellistische Skizzen appeared in the Elegante. An attempt at prose by such an author would command attention in any event. I doubt, however, whether this attempt satisfied even a single friend of Beck’s Muse. The earlier poet could be recognised in a few metaphors; with careful cultivation the style could be developed quite nicely; but that is all one can say for this little tale. Neither in profundity of thought nor poetic imagination did it rise above the usual sphere of literature meant for entertainment; the invention was rather ordinary and indeed ugly, and the execution was commonplace.

A friend told me during a concert that Beck’s Stille Lieder had arrived. just then the adagio of a Beethoven symphony began. The songs will be like this, I thought; but I was mistaken, there was little Beethoven and a great deal of Bellini lamentation. I was shocked when I took the booklet in my hands. The very first song was so infinitely trivial, so cheaply mannered, only given a spurious originality by an affected turn of phrase.

Only the enormous dreaming in these songs still recalls the Nächte. That a lot of dreaming was done in the Nächte could be excused; it could be overlooked in Der fahrende Poet; but now Herr Beck never comes out of his sleep at all. He is dreaming already on page 3; p. 4, p. 8, p. 9, p. 15, p. 16, p. 23, p. 31, p. 33, p. 34, p. 35, p. 40, etc., dreams everywhere. In addition there is a whole series of dream images. It would be ridiculous if it were not so sad. The hope of originality dwindled to a few new metres, and to make up for it there are suggestions of Heine and an infinitely childish naivety which runs most repulsively through almost all the songs. The first part, Lieder der Liebe. Ihr Tagebuch, suffers particularly. I would not have expected such weak, revolting pap from the blazing flame, the noble, strong spirit that Beck wants to be. Only two or three songs are tolerable. Sein Tagebuch is a little better; here there is occasionally a real song to make up for the frequent nonsense and drivel. The worst of the drivel in Sein Tagebuch is Eine Träne. We know what Beck produced earlier in tear poetry. There he let “the suffering, that bloody, raw corsair, sail in the quiet sea of tears” [K. Beck, Nächte. Gepanzerte Lieder. From the poem Der Sultan] and “grief, the dumb, cold fish”, splash about in it. Now this is joined by:

Teardrop, not in vain
So large and round a-brimming,
All life’s joy and pain
In your lap (?) are swimming.
So much, so much in you
My love and lute are swimming too,
Teardrop, not in vain
So large and round a-brimming.
[K. Beck, Stille Lieder. From Die Träne]

How stupid it is! The better part of the whole booklet is to be found in the dream images, and some of the songs there are at least heartfelt. Particularly Schlaf wohl! which, to judge by the date of its first publication in the Elegante, [40] must belong to the earlier of these songs. The final poem is among the better ones, although somewhat verbose, and at the end there is again the “tear the strong shield of the world spirit”. [K. Beck, Stille Lieder]

To conclude there are attempts at the ballad. The Zigeunerkönig, with an opening which smacks strongly of Freiligrath’s descriptive manner, is weak compared with the vivid portrayal of gipsy life in Lenau, and the gushing phrases, which are meant to make us find the poem fresh and strong, only render it more repulsive. Das Räslein is, however, a prettily reproduced moment. Das ungrische Wachthaus is in the same class as the Zigeunerkönig; the last ballad of this cycle is an example of how a poem can have flowing and sonorous verses and beautiful phrases without leaving much impression. The earlier Beck would have presented the sinister robber Janossyk more vividly in three striking images. And this Beck must have a final dream on the last page but one and so the booklet ends, but not the poem, the continuation of which is promised for the second slim volume. What does this mean? Are poems, like journals, to end with “to be continued"?

After several theatre managements had declared it impossible to produce, Verlorene Seelen was, we hear, destroyed by the author; he now appears to be working on another tragedy, Saul; at least, the Elegante has only published the first act and the [Allgemeine] TheaterChronik an extensive prospectus of it. This act has already been reviewed in these columns. [41] Unfortunately I can only confirm what is said there. Beck, whose uncontrolled and uncertain fantasy makes him incapable of presenting characters in the round, who compels all his personages to use the same phrases, Beck, who showed in his interpretation of Börne how little he can understand a character, let alone create one, could not have hit upon a more unfortunate idea than to write a tragedy. Beck was forced unwittingly to borrow the exposition from a recently published model, [42] to make his David and Merob speak in the tearful tone of Ihr Tagebuch, to present Saul’s changes of mood with the crudeness of a comedy at a country fair. Hearing this Moab speak you begin to realise the significance of Abner as his model; is this Moab, this coarse, bloody disciple of Moloch, more like an animal than a man, supposed to be Saul’s “evil spirit"? A child of nature is not a beast, and Saul, who opposes the priests, does not for that reason find pleasure in human sacrifice. In addition, the dialogue is wooden beyond measure, the language feeble, and only a few tolerable images, which, however, cannot carry the weight of even one act of a tragedy, recall the expectations which Herr Beck no longer seems capable of fulfilling. [43]

 


Landscapes - Frederick Engels

Landscapes by Frederick Engels

Works of Frederick Engels, 1840

Landscapes


Written: at the end of June and in July 1840
First published: in Telegraph für Deutschland Nos. 122-123, July/August 1840
Signed: Friedrich Oswald


Telegraph für Deutschland No. 122, July 1840

Hellas had the good fortune of seeing the nature of her landscape brought to consciousness in the religion of her inhabitants. Hellas is a land of pantheism; all her landscapes are — or, at least, were — embraced in a harmonious framework. And yet every tree, every fountain, every mountain thrusts itself too much in the foreground, and her sky is far too blue, her sun far too radiant, her sea far too magnificent, for them to be content with the laconic spiritualisation of Shelley’s spirit of nature, [The words “spirit of nature” are in English in the original. In Shelley’s works, in particular in Queen Mab, the pantheistic figurative symbol of Pan appears. down with burning anger on the bare barren sand — there you have a representation of the Jewish world outlook] of an all-embracing Pan. Each beautifully shaped individual feature lays claim to a particular god, each river will have its nymphs, each grove its dryads — and so arose the religion of the Hellenes. Other regions were not so fortunate; they did not serve any people as: the basis of its faith and had to await a poetic mind to conjure into existence the religious genius that slumbered in them. — If you stand on the Drachenfels or on the Rochusberg at Bingen, and gaze over the vine-fragrant valley of the Rhine, the distant blue mountains merging with the horizon, the green fields and vineyards flooded with golden sunlight, the blue sky reflected in the river — heaven with its brightness descends on to the earth and is mirrored in it, the spirit descends into matter, the word becomes flesh and dwells among us — that is the embodiment of Christianity. The direct opposite of this is the North-German heath; — here there is nothing but dry stalks and modest heather, which, conscious of its weakness, dare not raise itself above the ground; here and there is a once defiant tree now shattered by lightning; and the brighter the sky, the more sharply does its self-sufficient magnificence demarcate it from the poor, cursed earth lying below it in sackcloth and ashes, and the more does its eye, the sun, look down with burning anger on the bare barren sand — there you have a representation of the Jewish world outlook.

The heathland has been much reviled, all literature [In the third volume of Blasedow the old man is concerned for the heath. — Note by Engels.] has heaped curses on it and, as in Platen’s Oedipus, it has been used only as a background for satire, but people have scorned to seek out its rare charms, its hidden poetic connections. One must really have grown up in a beautiful region, on mountain heights or forest[crowned crags, to feel properly the frightening, depressing character of the North-German Sahara, but also to be able to detect with pleasure the beautiful features of this region, which, like the mirage in Libya, are not always visible to the eye. The really found only in the potato fields on the t the homeland of the Saxons, the most S, is poetic even in its desolation. On a stormy night, when clouds stream ghost-like past the moon, when dogs bay to one another at a distance, gallop on snorting horses over the endless heath and leap with loose reins over the weathered granite blocks and the burial mounds of the Huns; in the distance the water of the moor glitters in the reflected moonlight, will-o'-the-wisps flit over it, and the howling of the storm sounds eerily over the wide expanse; the ground beneath you is unsafe, and you feel that you have entered the realm of German folk-lore. Only after I became acquainted with the North-German heathland did I properly understand the Grimm brothers’ Kinder- und Haus-Mirchen. It is evident from almost all these tales that they had their origin here, where at nightfall the human element vanishes and the terrifying, shapeless creations of popular fantasy glide over a desolate land which is eerie even in the brightness of midday. They are a tangible embodiment of the feelings aroused in the solitary heath dweller when he wends his way in his native land on such a wild night, or when he looks out over the desolate expanse from some high tower. Then the impressions which he has retained from childhood of stormy nights on the heath come back to his mind and take shape in those fairy-tales. You will not overhear the secret of the origin of the popular fairy-tales on the Rhine or in Swabia, whereas here every lightning night — bright lightning night, says Laube — speaks of it with tongues of thunder.

The summer thread of my apologia for the heath, carried by the wind, would probably continue to be spun out, if it had not become entangled with an unfortunate signpost painted in the colours of the land of Hanover [Yellow and white] I have long pondered over the significance of these colours. It is true that the royal Prussian colours do not show what Thiersch tries to find in them in his bad song about Prussia [80]; nevertheless, by their prosiness they remind one of cold, heartless bureaucracy and of all that the Rhinelander still cannot find quite plausible about Prussianism. The sharp contrast between black and white can provide an analogy for the relation between king and subject in an absolute monarchy; and since, according to Newton, they are not colours at all, they can be an indication that the loyal frame of mind in an absolute monarchy is that which does not hold a brief for any colour. The gay red and white flags of the people of the Hanse towns were at least fitting in olden days; the French esprit displays its iridescence in the tricolour, the colours of which have been appropriated by phlegmatic Holland too, probably in derision of itself; the most beautiful and significant, of course, is still the unhappy German tricolour. But the Hanoverian colours! Imagine a dandy in white trousers who has been chased for an hour at full speed through road-side ditches and newly ploughed fields, imagine Lot’s pillar of salt [81] — an example of the Hanoverian Nunquam retrorsum [Never turning back (inscription under the rampant steed of the Hanoverian coat of arms)] of former times as a warning for many-imagine this honourable memorial splashed with mud by ill-bred Bedouin youths, and you have a Hanoverian frontier post with its coat of arms. Or does the white signify the innocent basic law of the state and the yellow the filth with which it is being bespattered by certain mercenary pens?

To continue with the religious character of various regions, the Dutch landscapes are essentially Calvinist. The absolute prose of a distant view in Holland, the impossibility of its spiritualisation, the grey sky that is indeed the only one suited to it, all this produces the same impression on us as the infallible decisions of the Dordrecht Synod. [82] The windmills, the sole moving things in the landscape, remind one of the predestined elect, who allow themselves to be moved only by the breath of divine dispensation; everything else lies in “spiritual death”. And in this barren orthodoxy, the Rhine, like the flowing, living spirit of Christianity, loses its fructifying power and becomes completely choked up with sand. Such, seen from the Rhine, is the appearance of its Dutch banks; other parts of the country may be more beautiful, I do not know them. — Rotterdam, with its shady quays, its canals and ships, is an oasis for people from small towns in the interior of Germany; one can understand here how the imagination of a Freiligrath could ply with the departing frigates to distant, more luxuriant shores. Then there are the cursed Zeeland islands, nothing but reeds and dykes, windmills and the tops of chiming church steeples, between which the steamboat winds its way for hours!

But then, with what a blissful feeling we leave behind the philistine dykes and tight-laced Calvinist orthodoxy and enter the realm of the free-ranging spirit! Helvoetsluys vanishes, on the right and the left the banks of the Waal sink into the rising, jubilant waves, the sandy yellow of the water changes to green, and now what is behind is forgotten, and we go forward into the dark-green transparent sea!

And now have done with grieving,
And shed that bitter load.
And you'd go travelling onwards
Time to be up and leaving
To take the great highroad.
The sky leans gently downwards
To mingle with the sea —
In tired despondency?

The sky bends downwards, holding
The world with all its charms,
Happy to be enfolding
Such beauty in his arms.
As if to kiss her lover
The wave leaps up to the sky,
And you'd wish life was over,
In dark despondency?

The God of Love, descending,
Makes all this world his own;
To dwell here without ending,
He gives himself through Man.
And does that God not really
Abide within your breast?
Then let him reign more freely
And shine his worthiest.

Then climb on to the rigging of the bowsprit and gaze on the waves, how, cleft by the ship’s keel, they throw the white spray high over your head, and look out, too, over the distant green surface of the sea, where the foaming crests of the waves spring up in eternal unrest, where the sun’s rays are reflected into your eyes from thousands of dancing mirrors, where the green of the sea merges with the blue of the sky and the gold of the sun to produce a wonderful colour, and all your trivial cares, all remembrance of the enemies of light and their treacherous attacks disappear, and you stand upright, proudly conscious of the free, infinite mind! I have had only one impression that could compare with this; when for the first time the divine idea of the last of the philosophers [probably Hegel] this most colossal creation of the thought of the nineteenth century, dawned upon me,: I experienced the same blissful thrill, it was like a breath of fresh sea air blowing down upon me from the purest sky; the depths of speculation lay before me like the unfathomable sea from which one cannot turn one’s eyes straining to see the ground below; in God we live, move and have our being! We become conscious of that when we are on the sea; we feel that God breathes through all around us and through us ourselves; we feel such kinship with the whole of nature, the waves beckon to us so intimately, the sky stretches so lovingly over the earth, and the sun shines with such indescribable radiance that one feels one could grasp it with the hand.

The sun sinks in the north-west; on its left a shining streak rises from the sea — the Kentish coast and the southern bank of the Thames estuary. Already the twilight mist lies on the sea, only in the west is the purple of evening spread over the sky and over the water; the sky in the east is resplendent in deep blue, from which Venus already shines out brightly; in the south-west a long golden streak in the magical light along the horizon is Margate, from the windows of which the evening redness is reflected. So now wave your caps and greet free England with a joyful shout and a full glass. Good night, and a happy awakening in London!

Telegraph für Deutschland No. 123, August 1840

You who complain of the prosaic dullness of railways without ever having seen one should try travelling on the one from London to Liverpool. If ever a land was made to be traversed by railways it is England. No dazzlingly beautiful scenery, no colossal mountain masses, but a land of ‘soft rolling hills which has a wonderful charm in the English sunlight, which is never quite clear. It is surprising how various are the groupings of the simple figures; out of a few low hills, a field, some trees and grazing cattle, nature composes a thousand pleasant landscapes. The trees, which occur singly or in groups in all the fields, have a singular beauty that makes the whole neighbourhood resemble a park. Then comes a tunnel, and for a few minutes the train is in darkness, emerging into a deep cutting from which one is suddenly transported again into the midst of smiling, sunny fields. At another time the railway track is laid on a viaduct crossing a long valley; far below it lie towns and villages, woods and meadows, between which a river takes its meandering course; to the right and left are mountains which fade into the background, and the valley is bathed in a magical light, half-mist and half-sunshine. But you have hardly had time to survey the wonderful scene before you are carried away into a bare cutting and have time to recreate the magical picture in your imagination. And so it goes on until night falls and your wearied eyes close in slumber. Oh, there is rich poetry in the counties of Britain! It often seems as if one were still in the golden days of merry England and might see Shakespeare with his fowling-piece moving stealthily behind a hedge on a deer-poaching expedition, or you might wonder why not one of his divine comedies actually takes place on this green meadow. For wherever the scenes are supposed to occur, in Italy, France or Navarra, his baroque, uncouth rustics, his too-clever schoolmasters, and his deliciously bizarre women, all belong basically to merry England b and it is remarkable that only an English sky is suited to everything that takes place. Only some of the comedies, such as the Midsummer Night’s Dream, are as completely adapted to a southern climate as Romeo and Juliet, even in the characters of the play.

And now back to our Fatherland! Picturesque and romantic Westphalia has become quite indignant at its son Freiligrath, who has entirely forgotten it on account of the admittedly far more picturesque and romantic Rhine. Let us console it with a few flattering words so that its patience does not give out before the second issue appears. [83] Westphalia is surrounded by mountain ranges separating it from the rest of Germany, and it lies open only to Holland, as if it had been cast out from Germany. And yet its children are true Saxons, good loyal Germans. And these mountains offer magnificent points of view; in the south the Ruhr and Lenne valleys, in the east the Weser valley, in the north a range of mountains from Minden to Osnabrück — everywhere there is a wealth of beautiful scenery, and only in the centre of the province is there a boring expanse of sand which always shows up through the grass and corn. And then there are the beautiful old towns, above all Münster with its Gothic churches, with its market arcades, and with Annette Elisabeth von Droste-Hillshoff and Levin Schücking. The last-named, whose acquaintance I had the pleasure of making there, was kind enough to draw my attention to the poems of that lady, [84] and I could not let this opportunity slip without bearing part of the blame which the German public has incurred in regard to these poems. In connection with them it has once again been proved that the much-vaunted German thoroughness treats the appreciation of poetry much too light-heartedly; people leaf through it, examine whether the rhymes are pure and the verses fluent, and whether the content is easy to understand and rich in striking, or at least dazzling, images, and the verdict is complete. But poems like these, which are marked by a sincerity of feeling, a tenderness and originality in the depiction of nature such as only Shelley can achieve, and a bold Byronic imagination-clothed, it is true, in a somewhat stiff form and in a language not altogether free from provincialism — such poems pass away without leaving a trace. Anyone,, however, who is prepared to read them rather more slowly than usual — and, after all, one only takes up a book of poems in the hours of a siesta — could very well find that their beauty prevents him from going to sleep! Furthermore, the poetess is a fervent Catholic, and how can a Protestant take any interest in such? But whereas pietism makes the man, the schoolmaster, the chief curate Albert Knapp, ridiculous, the childish faith of Fräulein von Droste becomes her very well. Religious independence of mind is an awkward matter for women. Persons like George Sand, Mistress Shelley [Mary Wollstonecraft-Shelley, née Godwin], are rare; it is only too easy for doubt to corrode the feminine mind and raise the intellect to a power which it ought not to have in any woman. If, however, the ideas by which we children of the new stand or fall are truth, then the time is not far off when the feminine heart will beat as warmly for the flowers of thought of the modern mind as it does now for the pious faith of its fathers — and the victory of the new will only be at hand when the young generation takes it in with its mother’s milk.

 


Letters from Wuppertal - Frederick Engels

by Frederick Engels

Works of Frederick Engels, 1839

Letters from Wuppertal [4]


Written:in March 1839
First published:in the Telegraph für Deutschland Nos. 49, 50, 51 and 52 for March and Nos. 57 and 59 for April, 1839.


I

Telegraph für Deutschland No. 49, March 1839

As is well known, people understand by this name, held in much ill-repute among the Friends of Light, [5] the two towns of Elberfeld and Barmen, which stretch along the valley for a distance of nearly three hours’ travel. The purple waves of the narrow river flow sometimes swiftly, sometimes sluggishly between smoky factory buildings and yarn-strewn bleaching-yards. Its bright red colour, however, is due not to some bloody battle, for the fighting here is waged only by theological pens and garrulous old women, usually over trifles, nor to shame for men’s actions, although there is indeed enough cause for that, but simply and solely to the numerous dye-works using Turkey red. Coming from Düsseldorf, one enters the sacred region at Sonnborn; the muddy Wupper flows slowly by and, compared with the Rhine just left behind, its miserable appearance is very disappointing. The area is rather attractive: the not very high mountains, rising sometimes gently, sometimes steeply, and heavily wooded, march boldly into green meadows and in fine weather the blue sky reflected in the Wupper causes the red colour to disappear completely. After a bend round a cliff, one sees the quaint towers of Elberfeld straight ahead (the humble houses are concealed behind gardens), and a few minutes later one reaches the Zion of the obscurantists. Almost outside the town is the Catholic church; it stands there as if it has been expelled from the sacred walls. It is in Byzantine style, built very badly by a very inexperienced architect from a very good plan; the old Catholic church has been demolished to make room for the left wing, not yet built, of the Town Hall; only the tower remains and serves the general good after a fashion, namely, as a prison. Immediately afterwards one comes to a large building, its roof supported by columns, but these columns are of a most remarkable kind; they are Egyptian at the bottom, Doric in the middle, and Ionic at the top; moreover, for very sound reasons, they dispense with all superfluous accessories, such as a plinth and capitals. This building used to be called the museum, but the Muses kept away and there remained only a huge burden of debt so that not very long ago the building was sold by auction and became a casino, a name which adorns the bare façade, dispelling all reminders of the former poetic name. Incidentally, the building is so clumsily proportioned that at night it looks like a camel. Here begin the dull streets, devoid of all character; the fine new Town Hall, only half completed, is situated so awkwardly owing to lack of space that its front faces a narrow, ugly side street. Finally, one comes to the Wupper again, and a fine bridge shows that you are approaching Barmen, where at least more attention is paid to architectural beauty. As soon as you cross the bridge, everything assumes a more friendly character; large, massive houses tastefully built in modern style take the place of those mediocre Elberfeld buildings, which are neither old-fashioned nor modern, neither beautiful nor a caricature. New stone houses are springing up everywhere; the pavement ends and the street continues as a straight highway, built up on both sides. Between the houses one catches sight of the green bleaching-yards; the Wupper is still clear here, and the closely approaching mountains with their lightly sketched outlines, and the manifold alternation of forests, meadows and gardens from which red roofs peep out everywhere, make the area increasingly attractive the farther one goes. Halfway along the avenue one sees the façade of the Lower Barmen church, set somewhat back; it is the valley’s most beautiful building, very well constructed in the noblest Byzantine style. But soon the pavement begins again and the grey slate houses jostle one another. There is, however, far more variety here than in Elberfeld, for the monotony is broken by a fresh bleaching-yard here, a house in modern style there, a stretch of the river or a row of gardens lining the street. All this leaves one in doubt whether to regard Barmen as a town or a mere conglomeration of all kinds Of buildings; it is, indeed, just a combination of many small districts held together by the bond of municipal institutions. The most important of these districts are: Gemarke, the ancient centre of the Reformed faith; Lower Barmen in the direction of Elberfeld, not far from Wupperfeld and above Gemarke; farther on Rittershausen, which has Wichlinghausen on the left, and Hekinghausen with the remarkably picturesque Rauhental on the right. These are all inhabited by Lutherans of both churches [6]; the Catholics — at most two or three thousand — are scattered throughout the valley. After Rittershausen, the traveller at last leaves behind the Berg area and goes through the turnpike to enter the Old-Prussian Westphalian region.

This is the outward appearance of the valley which in general, apart from the gloomy streets of Elberfeld, makes a very pleasant impression; but the latter, as experience shows, is lost on the inhabitants. There is no trace here of the wholesome, vigorous life of the people that exists almost everywhere in Germany. True, at first glance it seems otherwise, for every evening you can hear merry fellows strolling through the streets singing their songs, but they are the most vulgar, obscene songs that ever came from drunken mouths; one never hears any of the folk-songs which are so familiar throughout Germany and of which we have every right to he proud. All the ale-houses are full to overflowing, especially on Saturday and Sunday, and when they close at about eleven o'clock, the drunks pour out of them and generally sleep off their intoxication in the gutter. The most degraded of these men are those known as Karrenbinder, totally demoralised people, with no fixed abode or definite employment, who crawl out of their refuges, haystacks, stables, etc., at dawn, if they have not spent the night on a dung-heap or on a staircase. By restricting the previously indefinite numbers of ale-houses, the authorities have now to some extent curbed this annoyance.

Telegraph für Deutschland No. 50, March 1839

The reasons for this state of affairs are perfectly clear. First and foremost, factory work is largely responsible. Work in low rooms where people breathe more coal fumes and dust than oxygen — and in the majority of cases beginning already at the age of six — is bound to deprive them of all strength and joy in life. The weavers, who have individual looms in their homes, sit bent over them from morning till night, and desiccate their spinal marrow in front of a hot stove. Those who do not fall prey to mysticism are ruined by drunkenness. This mysticism, in the crude and repellent form in which it prevails there, inevitably produces the opposite extreme, with the result that in the main the people there consist only of the “decent” ones (which is what the mystics are called) and the dissolute riff-raff. This division into two hostile groups, irrespective of their nature, is capable by itself of destroying the development of any popular spirit, and indeed what hope is there in a place where even the disappearance of one of the groups would be of no avail, since the members of both are equally consumptive? The few healthy people to be found there are almost exclusively joiners or other craftsmen, all of whom have come from other regions. Robust people can also be found among the local-born leather-workers, but three years of such a life suffice to ruin them physically and mentally: three out of five die from consumption, and it is all due to drinking spirits. But this would not have assumed such horrifying proportions if the factories were not operated in such a reckless way by the proprietors and if mysticism did not take the form it does and did not threaten to gain an increasing hold. Terrible poverty prevails among the lower classes, particularly the factory workers in Wuppertal; syphilis and lung diseases are so widespread as to be barely credible; in Elberfeld alone, out of 2,500 children of school age 1,200 are deprived of education and grow up in the factories — merely so that the manufacturer need not pay the adults, whose place they take, twice the wage he pays a child. But the wealthy manufacturers have a flexible conscience, and causing the death of one child more or one less does not doom a pietist’s soul to hell, especially if he goes to church twice every Sunday. For it is a fact that the pietists among the factory owners treat their workers worst of all; they use every possible means to reduce the workers’ wages on the pretext of depriving them of the opportunity to get drunk, yet at the election of preachers they are always the first to bribe their people.

In the lower social strata mysticism is most prevalent among the craftsmen (I do not include manufacturers here). It is a pitiful sight to see one of them in the street, a bent figure in a very long frock-coat, with his hair parted in the pietist fashion. But anyone who really wants to get to know this breed should visit the workshop of a pious blacksmith or boot-maker. There sits the master craftsman, on his right the Bible, on his left — very often at any rate — a bottle of schnapps. Not much is done in the way of work; the master almost always reads the Bible, occasionally knocks back a glass and sometimes joins the choir of journeymen singing a hymn; but the chief occupation is always damning one’s neighbour. One sees that the tendency here is the same as everywhere else. [7] Their proselytising zeal is not without fruit. In particular, many godless drunkards, etc., are converted, mostly in a miraculous way. But this is not surprising; these proselytes are all enervated, spiritless people, and persuading them is a mere bagatelle; they become converted, allow themselves to be moved to tears several times a week, and secretly continue their old way of life. Some years ago all this business suddenly came to light, to the . horror of all the hypocrites. An American speculator turned up calling himself Pastor Jürgens; he preached several times attracting large crowds, for most people imagined that being an American he must be dark-skinned or even black. How amazed they were that he was not merely white but preached in such a way that he had the whole church in tears; incidentally, the reason for this was that he himself began to whimper when all other means of moving his audience had failed. The believers were unanimous in their wonder; true, there was some opposition from a few sensible people, but they were simply decried as godless. Soon Jürgens began to organise secret gatherings; he received rich gifts from his prominent friends and lived in clover. His sermons attracted larger crowds than any others, his secret gatherings were filled to overflowing, his every utterance made both men and women weep. All were now convinced that he was at the very least a demi-prophet and would build a new Jerusalem, until one day the fun came to an end. What was going on at his secret gatherings suddenly came to light; Herr Jürgens was arrested and spent a few years doing penance for his piety, while under investigation in Hamm. Later he was released, after promising to make amends, and sent back to America. It also became known that he had already practised his tricks in America, for which he had been deported, and in order not to get out of practice had given a rehearsal in Westphalia, where, owing to the leniency, or rather the weakness, of the authorities, he had been freed without further inquiries and had finally crowned his dissolute life by another repetition in Elberfeld. When it was revealed what had actually taken place at the gatherings of this noble creature, everyone rose up against him, and no one wanted to have anything to do with him; everyone turned away from him, from Lebanon to the Dead Sea, that is to say, from Mount Rittershaus to the weir at Sonnborn on the Wupper.

Telegraph für Deutschland No. 51, March 1839

But the real centre of all pietism and mysticism is the Reformed community in Elberfeld. From the early days it was marked by a strict Calvinist spirit, which in recent years owing to the appointment of extremely bigoted preachers — at present four of them officiate there — has developed into the most savage intolerance and falls little short of the papist spirit. Regular trials of heretics take place at the meetings; the behaviour of anyone who fails to attend the meetings is reviewed; they say: so and so reads novels, it is true the title-page states that it is a Christian novel, but Pastor Krummacher has said that novels are godless books; or so and so seems to be a God-fearing man, but the day before yesterday he was seen at a concert — and they wring their hands in horror at the abominable sin. And if a preacher is reputed to be a rationalist (by this they mean anyone whose opinion differs in the slightest from theirs), he is taken to task and carefully watched to see whether his frock-coat is perfectly black and his trousers of the orthodox colour; woe to him if he allows himself to be seen in a frock-coat with a bluish tinge or wearing a rationalist waistcoat! If someone turns out not to believe in predestination, they say at once: he is almost as bad as a Lutheran, a Lutheran is little better than a Catholic, and Catholics and idolaters are damned by their very nature. But what sort of people are they who talk in this way? Ignorant folk who hardly know whether the Bible was written in Chinese, Hebrew or Greek, and who judge everything, whether relevant or not, from the words of a preacher who has been recognised for all time as orthodox.

This spirit had existed ever since the Reformation gained the upper hand here, but it remained unnoticed until the preacher G. D. Krummacher, who died a few years ago, began to foster it in precisely this community. Soon mysticism was in full bloom, but Krummacher died before the fruit ripened; this occurred only after his nephew, Dr. Friedrich Wilhelm Krummacher, had developed and formulated the doctrine in such a strict form that one is at a loss whether to regard the whole thing as nonsense or blasphemy. Now the fruit has ripened, but no one knows how to pluck it and so in time it will inevitably fall off miserably rotten.

Gottfried Daniel Krummacher, brother of the Dr. F. A. Krummacher who was well known for his parables in Bremen, died about three years ago in Elberfeld after a long period of office. When over twenty years ago a preacher in Barmen taught predestination from his pulpit in a less strict form than Krummacher, the congregation began smoking in the church, created a disturbance and prevented him from preaching on the pretext that such a heretical sermon was no sermon at all, so that the authorities were compelled to intervene. Krummacher then wrote a dreadfully rude letter to the Barmen magistracy, such as Gregory VII might have written to Henry IV, [8] demanding that the bigots should not be touched, since they were only defending their beloved Gospel. He also preached a sermon on the same lines, but he was only ridiculed. All this is characteristic of his frame of mind, which he preserved to his dying day. Moreover, he was a person of such peculiar habits that thousands of anecdotes were told of him, judging by which he should be regarded either as a strange eccentric or an exceptionally rude individual.

Dr. Friedrich Wilhelm Krummacher is a man of about forty, tall, strong, with an impressive figure, but since he settled in Elberfeld his circumference has noticeably increased. He has a very peculiar way of dressing his hair, which is imitated by all his supporters. Who knows, some day it may become the fashion to wear one’s hair à la Krummacher, but such a fashion would surpass all preceding ones, even powdered wigs, in lack of taste.

As a student he was involved in the demagogy of the gymnastic associations, composed freedom songs, carried a banner at the Wartburg festival [9], and delivered a speech which is said to have made a great impression. He still frequently recalls those dashing times from the pulpit, saying: when I was still among the Hittites and Canaanites. Later the Reformed community in Barmen chose him for their pastor and his real reputation dates from this period. He had hardly been appointed before he caused a split by his doctrine of strict predestination, not only between Lutherans and Reformists, but also among the latter, between the strict and moderate supporters of predestination. On one occasion an old orthodox Lutheran coming back a little tipsy from seeing friends had to cross a broken-down bridge. That seemed to him somewhat dangerous in his condition and he began to reflect: if you get over safely it will be all right, but if not you will fall into the Wupper and then the Reformists will say that this was as it should be; but that is not as it should be. So he turned back, looked for a shallow place and then waded across waist-deep, with the blissful feeling that he had robbed the Reformists of a triumph.

When a vacancy occurred in Elberfeld, Krummacher was chosen for it, and immediately all dissension ceased in Barmen, whereas in Elberfeld it became still fiercer. Already Krummacher’s inaugural sermon made some people angry and delighted others; the dissension continued to increase, particularly because soon every preacher, although they all held the same views, formed his own party consisting of his congregation alone. Later people got bored with the business and the eternal shouting of I am for Krummacher, I am for Kohl, etc., ceased, not through love of peace, but because the parties became more and more distinct from one another.

Krummacher is undeniably a man of excellent rhetorical, and also poetic, talent; his sermons are never boring, the train of thought is confident and natural; his strength lies primarily in painting gloomy pictures — his description of hell is always new and bold no matter how often it occurs — and in antitheses. On the other hand, he very often resorts to biblical phraseology and the images found in the latter, which, although his use of them is ,always ingenious, are bound in the end to be repetitive; interspersed with them one finds an extremely prosaic picture from daily life or a story based on his own life-history and his most insignificant experiences. He drags all this into the pulpit, whether appropriate or not; not long ago he regaled his reverent audience with two sermons about a journey to Württemberg and Switzerland, in which he spoke of his four victorious disputes with Paulus in Heidelberg and Strauss in Tübingen, naturally quite differently from Strauss’ account of the matter in a letter. — In some passages his declamation is very good, and his powerful, explicit gesticulations are often entirely appropriate, but at times incredibly affected and lacking in taste. Then he thrashes about in the pulpit, bends over all sides, bangs his fist on the edge, stamps like a cavalry horse, and shouts so that the windows resound and people in the street tremble. Then the congregation begins to sob; first the young girls weep, then the old women join in with a heart-rending soprano and the cacophony is completed by the wailing of the enfeebled drunken pietists, who would be thrilled to the marrow by his words if they still had any marrow in their bones; and through all this uproar Krummacher’s powerful voice rings out pronouncing before the whole congregation innumerable sentences of damnation, or describing diabolical scenes.

Telegraph für Deutschland No. 52, March 1839

And what a doctrine this is! It is impossible to understand how anyone can believe in such things, which are in most direct contradiction to reason and the Bible. Nevertheless, Krummacher has formulated the doctrine so sharply, following and firmly adhering to all its consequences, that nothing can be refuted once the basis is accepted, namely, the inability of man on his own to

desire what is good, let alone do it. Hence follows the need for this ability to come from outside, and since man ‘cannot even desire what is good, God has to press this ability on him. Owing to God’s free will, it follows that this ability is allotted arbitrarily, and this also, at least apparently, is supported by the Scriptures. — The entire doctrine is based on such pretence of logic; the few who are chosen will, nolentes, volentes, be saved, the rest damned for ever. “For ever? — Yes, for ever!!” (Krummacher.) Further, the Scriptures say: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me [John 14:6.]. But the heathen cannot come to the Father by Christ, because they do not know Christ, so they all exist merely to fill up hell. — Among Christians, many are called but few are chosen; but the many who are called are called only for the sake of appearance, and God took care not to call them so loudly that they obeyed him; all this to the glory of God and in order that they should not be forgiven. It is also written: for the wise men of this world the wisdom of God is foolishness [Cf. 1 Corinthians 3:18]; the mystics regard this as an order to make their creed quite meaningless so that this statement may be fulfilled. How all this fits in with the teaching of the apostles who speak of rational worship of God and the rational milk of the Gospel is a secret beyond human understanding.

Such doctrines spoil all Krummacher’s sermons; the only ones in which they are not so prominent are the passages where he speaks of the contradiction between earthly riches and the humility of Christ, or between the arrogance of earthly rulers and the pride of God. A note of his former demagogy very often breaks through here as well, and if he did not speak in such general terms the government would not pass over his sermons in silence.

The aesthetic value of his sermons is appreciated only by very few in Elberfeld; for, compared with his three colleagues, nearly all of whom have an equally large congregation, he appears as figure one, and the others as mere noughts who serve only to enhance his value. The oldest of these noughts is called Kohl ["Kohl” is a surname but also a German word meaning rubbish], which at the same time characterises his sermons. The second is Hermann, no descendant of the Hermann, [10] to whom a monument is now being erected which should survive history and Tacitus. The third is Ball, namely, a ball for Krummacher to play with. All three are highly orthodox and imitate the worst aspects of Krummacher in their sermons. The Lutheran pastors in Elberfeld are Sander and Hülsmann, who used to be deadly enemies, when the former was still in Wichlinghausen and became involved in the famous quarrel with Hülsmann in Dahle, now in Lennep, the brother of his present colleague. In their present position, they behave with courtesy to each other, but the pietists try to revive the dissension between them by constantly accusing Hülsmann of all kinds of misdemeanours against Sander. The third in this company is Döring, whose absent-mindedness is most odd; he is incapable of uttering three sentences with a connected train of thought, but he can make three parts of a sermon into four by repeating one of them word for word without being at all aware of it. Probatum est. His poems will be dealt with later.

The Barmen preachers differ little from one another; all are strictly orthodox, with a greater or lesser admixture of pietism. Only Stier in Wichlinghausen is worthy of some attention. It is said that Jean Paul knew him as a boy and discovered excellent talents in him. Stier held office of pastor in Frankleben near Halle, and during this period he published several writings in prose and verse, an improved version of the Lutheran catechism, a substitute for it, and a small book as an aid to its study for dull-witted teachers, and also a booklet on the lack of hymn books in the province of Saxony, which was particularly praised by the Evangelische Kirch-Zeitung [11] and did at least contain more rational views on church songs than those which can be heard in blessed Wuppertal, although it also has many unfounded judgments. His poems are extremely boring; he also distinguished himself by making some of Schiller’s pagan poems acceptable to the orthodox. For example, lines from Die Götter Griechenlands he revised as follows:

When vain Earth you held in domination
With Sin’s treacherous and deceitful bond,
Leading many a mortal generation,
Hollow Idols of a mythic land!
When your sinful cult still scintillated,
Things were different, different then by far,
When with flowers your shrines were decorated,
Venus Amathusia!

Really very ingenious, truly mystical indeed! For six months now Stier has been in Wichlinghausen in place of Sander, but so far he has not enriched Barmen literature.

Langenberg, a little place near Elberfeld, by its whole character still belongs to Wuppertal. The same industry as there, the same spirit of pietism. Emil Krummacher, brother of Friedrich Wilhelm, has his post there; he is not such a strict believer in predestination as his brother, but imitates him very much, as the following passage from his last Christmas sermon shows:

“With our earthly bodies we are still sitting here on wooden benches, but our spirits together with minions of believers are borne aloft to the sacred heights and, after observing the rejoicing of the heavenly hosts, they go down to lowly Bethlehem. And what do they see there? First of all, a poor stable, and in the poor, poor stable a poor manger, and in the poor manger poor, poor hay and straw, and on the poor, poor hay and straw lies like the poor child of a beggar, in poor swaddling clothes, the rich Lord of the world.”

Something should now he said about the mission-house, but the book Harfenklänge, by an ex-missionary [J. Ch. F. Winkler], which has already been mentioned on the pages of this journal [Telegraph für Deutschland] is sufficient testimony to the spirit that prevails there. [12] Incidentally, the inspector of this mission-house, Dr. Richter, is a learned man, an eminent orientalist and naturalist, and has also published an Erklärte Hausbibel.

Such are the activities of the pietists in Wuppertal; it is difficult to imagine that such things can still take place in our day; however, it looks as though even this rock of old obscurantism will not be able to withstand the surging flood of time any longer; the sand will be washed away and the rock will collapse with a great fall.

II

Telegraph für Deutschland No. 57, April 1839

It goes without saying that in an area so full of pietist activities this spirit, spreading in all directions, pervades and corrupts every single aspect of life. It exerts its chief influence on the education system, above all on the elementary schools. Part of them are wholly controlled by the pietists; these are the church schools, of which each community has one. The other elementary schools, over which the civil administration has greater influence, enjoy more freedom, although they, too, are under the supervision of the clerical school inspectors. Here too the retarding effect of mysticism is very obvious; for whereas the church schools still drum nothing but the catechism into their pupils, apart from reading, writing and arithmetic, as of old under the Elector Karl Theodor of blessed memory, in the other schools the rudiments of some sciences are taught, and also a little French, with the result that after leaving school many of the pupils try to continue their education. These schools are rapidly developing and since the Prussian Government came to office, [13] they have advanced far ahead of the church schools, behind which they used to lag considerably. The church schools, however, have a much greater attendance because they are far cheaper, and many parents still send their children to them partly out of an attachment to religion, partly because they consider that intellectual progress of the children gives worldliness the upper hand.

Wuppertal maintains three high schools: the municipal school in Barmen, the modern secondary school in Elberfeld, and the grammar school in the same city.

The Barmen municipal school, which is very poorly financed and therefore very badly staffed, nevertheless does everything in its power. It is wholly in the hands of a limited, niggardly governing body which in most cases also selects only pietists as teachers. The headmaster is also not averse to this trend, but is guided by firm principles in discharging his duties and manages very skilfully to keep every teacher in his place. Next to him comes Herr Johann Jakob Ewich, who can teach well from a good textbook and in history teaching is a zealous supporter of the Nösselt system of anecdotes. He is the author of many pedagogical works of which the greatest, i.e., in size, is entitled Human, published in Wesel by Bagel, two volumes, 40 printed sheets, price 1 Reichstaler. They are all full of lofty ideas, pious wishes and impracticable proposals. It is said that in practice his teaching lags far behind his beautiful theory.

Dr. Philipp Schifflin, the second senior teacher, is the most efficient teacher in the school. Probably no one in Germany has delved so deeply into the grammatical structure of modern French as he has. He took as his starting point, not the old Romance language, but the classical language of the last century, particularly that of Voltaire, and went on from there to the style of the most modern authors. The results of his research are contained in his Anleitung zur Erlernung der französischen Sprache, in drei Cursen, of which the first and second courses have already appeared in several editions, and the third will be out by Easter. Without doubt, next to Knebel’s, this is the best textbook on the French language which we possess; it met with universal approval as soon as the first course appeared and already enjoys an almost unprecedented circulation throughout Germany and even as far as Hungary and the Baltic provinces of Russia.

The remaining teachers are young graduates, some of whom have been excellently trained, while others are full of all sorts of jumbled knowledge. The best of these young teachers was Herr Köster, a friend of Freiligrath; an annual report contains his outline of poetics, from which he has totally excluded didactic poetry, and put the classes usually allotted to it under the epic or lyric ; this article testified to his insight and clarity. [14] He was invited to Düsseldorf, and since the members of the governing body knew him as being opposed to every kind of pietism, they very willingly released him. The very opposite of him is another teacher [Rudolf Riepe] who, when asked by a fourth-form pupil who Goethe was, replied: “an atheist”.

The Elberfeld modern secondary school is very well financed and can therefore select better teachers and arrange a fuller curriculum. On the other hand, it is addicted to that horrible system of filling up exercise books which can make a pupil dull-witted in six months. Incidentally, the administration is little in evidence: the headmaster [P. K. N. Egen] is away half the year and proves his presence only by excessive severity. Linked with the modern secondary school is a trade school where the pupils spend half their lives scribbling away. Of the teachers one must mention Dr. Kruse who spent six weeks in England and wrote a little work on English pronunciation which is remarkable for being completely unusable; the pupils have a very bad reputation and were the cause of Diesterweg’s complaints about the Elberfeld youth.

The Elberfeld grammar school is in very straitened circumstances, but is recognised as one of the best in the Prussian state. It is the property of the Reformed community, but suffers little from the latter’s mysticism, since the preachers are not interested in it and the school inspectors have no understanding of grammar school affairs; but it has to suffer all the more because of their stinginess. These gentlemen have not the slightest idea of the advantages of the Prussian grammar school education; they try to provide the modern secondary school with everything — money and pupils — and at the same time reproach the grammar school for being unable to meet its expenditure out of school fees. Negotiations are now taking place for the government, which is very concerned in the matter, to take over the grammar school. If this does not happen, it will have to close down in a few years’ time for lack of funds. The selection of teachers is now also in the hands of the school inspectors, people capable, it is true, of making very accurate entries in a ledger, but with no conception at all of Greek, Latin or mathematics. Their guiding principle in selection is as follows: it is better to choose a mediocre Reformist than an efficient Lutheran or, worse still, a Catholic. But as there are far more Lutherans than Reformists among the Prussian philologists, they have hardly ever been able to apply this principle.

Dr. Hantschke, a royal professor and temporary headmaster, comes from Luckau in Lausitz, writes poetry and prose in Ciceronian Latin and is also the author of a number of sermons, works on education and a textbook for the study of Hebrew. He would have been made permanent headmaster long ago if he were not a Lutheran and if the school inspectorate were less miserly.

Dr. Eichhoff, the second senior teacher, in conjunction with his junior colleague, Dr. Beltz, wrote a Latin grammar which, however, was not very well reviewed by F. Haase in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung. [15] His best subject is Greek.

Dr. Clausen, — the third senior teacher, is, undoubtedly, the most capable man in the entire school, with an expert knowledge in all spheres of learning, and outstanding in history and literature. His lectures have a rare charm; he is the only one who can arouse a feeling for poetry among the pupils, a feeling which would otherwise be bound to perish miserably among the philistines of Wuppertal. As far as I know, his only written work is a thesis in an annual report, “Pindaros der Lyriker”, which won him a high reputation among grammar school teachers in Prussia and beyond her borders. [16] It did not, of course, reach the book market.

These three schools were not founded until 1820; previously Elberfeld and Barmen had one Rektoratsschule [17] each and numerous private institutions which could not provide an adequate education. Their influence can still be felt in the Barmen merchants of the older generation. Not a trace of education; anyone who plays whist and billiards, who can talk a little about politics and pay a pretty compliment is regarded as an educated man in Barmen and Elberfeld. The life these people lead is terrible, yet they are so satisfied with it; in the daytime they immerse themselves in their accounts with a passion and interest that is hard to believe; in the evening at an appointed hour they turn up at social gatherings where they play cards, talk politics and smoke, and then leave for home at the stroke of nine. So they live day in, day out, with never a change, and woe to him who interferes with their routine; he can be sure of most ungracious treatment in all the best houses. — Fathers zealously bring up their sons along these lines, sons who show every promise of following in their fathers’ footsteps. The topics of conversation are pretty monotonous: Barmen people talk more about horses, Elberfeld people about dogs; and when things are at their height there may also be appraisals of fair ladies or chat about business matters, and that is all. Once every half a century they also talk about literature, by which they mean Paul de Kock, Marryat, Tromlitz, Nestroy and their like. In politics they are all good Prussians, because they are under Prussian rule and a priori very much against liberalism, but all this is only for as long as it suits His Majesty to preserve the Napoleonic Code, for all patriotism would disappear with its abolition. No one knows anything about the literary significance of Young Germany; it is regarded as a secret alliance, something like demagogues, under the chairmanship of Messrs. Heine, Gutzkow, and Mundt. [18] Some of the upper-class youth have probably read a little Heine, perhaps the Reisebilder, omitting the poems in it, or the Denunziant [H. Heine, Salon, Preface to Vol. 3], but they have only a hazy notion of the rest from the mouths of pastors or officials. Freiligrath is known personally to most of them and has the reputation of being a good fellow. When he came to Barmen he was deluged with visits from these green noblemen (as he calls the young merchants); however, he very soon realised what they were like and kept away from them; but they pursued him, praised his poems and his wine, and did their utmost to get on close terms with a man who had something in print, because for these people a poet is nothing, but an author whose works have been printed is everything. Gradually Freiligrath ceased to associate with these people and now meets only a few, since Köster left Barmen. Freiligrath’s employers [19] in their precarious situation have always behaved in a decent and friendly manner towards him; surprisingly he is an extremely accurate and diligent office worker. It would be quite superfluous to speak of his poetic achievements after Dingelstedt — in the Jahrbuch der Literatur and Carrière in the Berlin Jahrbücher have given such an accurate assessment of him. [20] It seems to me, however, that neither of them has paid sufficient attention to the fact that however far afield his thoughts may roam, he is still extremely attached to his homeland. This can be seen from his frequent allusions to German folk-tales, e.g., the Unkenkönigin (p. 54), Snewittchen [21] (p. 87), and others to which (p. 157) an entire poem (Im Walde) is devoted, from his imitation of Uhland (the Edelfalk, p. 82, Die Schreinergesellen, p. 85; the first of the Zwei Feldherrngräber also reminds one of Uhland, but only to his advantage), then Die Auswanderer and, above all, his incomparable Prinz Eugen. One must pay more attention to these few points in his poetry the farther Freiligrath strays in the opposite direction. A deep insight into the state of his feelings is afforded by Der ausgewanderte Dichter, particularly the excerpts published in the Morgenblatt [22]; here he already realises that he cannot feel at home in distant parts unless he has his roots in true German poetry.

Telegraph für Deutschland No. 59, April 1839

Journalism occupies the most important place in Wuppertal literature proper. At the top is the Elberfelder Zeitung edited by Dr. Martin Runkel, which under his perspicacious guidance won for itself a considerable and well-deserved reputation. He took over the editorship when two newspapers, the Allgemeine and the Provinzialzeitung, were merged; the newspaper came into being under somewhat unfavourable auspices; the Barmer Zeitung competed with it, but thanks to his efforts to get his own correspondents and to his leading articles Runkel gradually made the Elberfelder Zeitung one of the main newspapers in the Prussian state. True, in Elberfeld, where only a few people read the leading articles, the newspaper met with little recognition, but it received a much greater welcome elsewhere, which the decline of the Preussische Staats-Zeitung may have helped to bring about. The literary supplement, the Intelligenzblatt, does not rise above the usual level. The Barmer Zeitung, the publisher, editors and censors of which have frequently changed, is at present under the guidance of H. Püttmann, who from time to time writes reviews in the Abend-Zeitung. He would very much like to improve the newspaper, but his hands are tied by the well-justified parsimony of the publisher. Nor does the feature page with some of his poems, reviews or extracts from larger writings provide a remedy. The newspaper’s companion, the Wuppertaler Lesekreis, derives its material almost exclusively from Lewald’s Europa. In addition, there is also the Elberfeld Täglicher Anzeiger along with the Fremdenblatt — a product of the Dorfzeitung, which is unrivalled for its heart-rending poems and bad jokes — and the Barmer Wochenblatt, an old nightcap, with pietist asses’ ears sticking out constantly from its literary lion’s skin.

Of the other types of literature, the prose is of no value at all; if one takes away the theological or, rather, pietist works and a few booklets on the history of Barmen and Elberfeld, written very superficially, there is nothing left. But poetry is much cultivated in the “blessed valley” and a fair number of poets have taken up residence there.

Wilhelm Langewiesche, a bookseller in Barmen and Iserlohn, writes under the name of W. Jemand [Jemand means “someone"]; his main work is a didactic tragedy Der ewige Jude which is, of course, inferior to Mosen’s treatment of the same subject. As a publisher, he is more important than his Wuppertal rivals, which is very easy, incidentally, since the two of them, Hassel in Elberfeld and Steinhaus in Barmen, publish only genuinely pietist works. Freiligrath lives in his house.

Karl August Döring, the preacher in Elberfeld, is the author of numerous prose and poetry works; to him Platen’s words are applicable: “You are a river in full spate which no one can swim to the end. [A. Platen, Der romantische Oedipus, Act III, Scene 4]

He divides his poems into religious songs, odes and lyrics. Sometimes, by the middle of a poem he has forgotten the beginning and is carried away into most peculiar regions; from the Pacific islands with their missionaries to hell, and from the sighs of a contrite soul to the ice of the North Pole.

Lieth, the headmaster of a girls’ school in Elberfeld, is the author of poems for children; most of them are written in a now outmoded fashion and cannot bear comparison with the poems of Rückert, Güll and Hey, yet there are a few nice things to be found among them.

Friedrich Ludwig Willfing, indisputably the greatest Wuppertal poet, born in Barmen, is a man of unmistakable genius. Should you see a lanky individual, about forty-five years of age, wrapped in a long reddish-brown frock-coat half as old as its owner, above his shoulders a countenance that defies description, on his nose gold-rimmed spectacles through the lenses of which every glance from his lustrous eyes is refracted, his head crowned by a green cap, in his mouth a flower, in his hand a button which he has just twisted off his frock-coat — this is the Horace of Barmen. Day in, day out he walks on the Hardtberg hoping to come across a new rhyme or a new beloved. Until his thirtieth year this indefatigable man worshipped Pallas Athena, then fell into the hands of Aphrodite, who presented him with nine Dulcineas, one after the other; these are his Muses. Speak not of Goethe, who found a poetic aspect in everything, or of Petrarch, who embodied every glance, every word of his beloved in a sonnet — Willfing leaves them far behind. Who counts the grains of sand beneath his beloved’s feet? The great Wülfing. Who sings of Minchen (the Clio of the nine Muses), her stockings bespattered in a swampy meadow? No one but Willfing. — His epigrams are masterpieces of the most eccentric, popular crudity. When his first wife died he wrote an announcement of her death which reduced all maidservants to tears and an even finer elegy: “Wilhelmine — the most beautiful of all names!” Six weeks later he became betrothed again; and now he has a third wife. This ingenious man has new plans every day. When still in the full flowering of his poetic talent, he thought of becoming a button-maker, then a farmer, then a paper-merchant; finally he ended up in the haven of candle-making, so as to make his lamp shine in some way or other. His writings are like the sand on the sea-shore.

Montanus Eremita, an anonymous Solingen writer, [23] should be included here as a neighbour and friend. He is the most poetical historiographer of the Berg area; his verses are less absurd than tedious and prosaic.

Here, too, belongs Johann Pol, a pastor in Heedfeld near Iserlohn, who has written a slim volume of poems.

Kings come from God and missionaries too,
But Goethe the poet comes from mankind alone.

This reflects the spirit of the entire book. But Pol is also a wit, for he says: “Poets are lamps, philosophers are the servants of truth.” And what imagination is shown by the two opening lines of his ballad Attila an der Marne.

Like the monstrous avalanche, like sword and flint hard cutting all,
Through the blazing towns and ruins whirls the Scourge of God on Gaul.

He has also composed psalms, or rather combined fragments from the psalms of David. His greatest work is a song in praise of the quarrel between Hillsmann and Sander, written in a most riginal way, in epigrams. The whole thing centres round the idea that the rationalists dared

To slander and blaspheme against Lord God.

Neither Voss nor Schlegel have ever ended a hexameter with such a perfect spondee. Pol is even better than Döring at grouping his poems: he divides them into “religious chants and songs and miscellaneous poems”. [24]

F. W. Krug, candidate of theology, author of Poetische Erstlinge und prosaische Reliquien, and translator of a number of Dutch and French sermons, has also written a touching short novel [F. W. Krug, Kämpfe und Siege des jungen Wahlheim oder Lebersbilder aus dem Reiche des Wahren, Guten und Schönen] the manner of Stilling in which, among other things, he presents new evidence supporting the Mosaic account of the creation. A delightful book.

In conclusion, I must also mention a clever young man who has the idea that since Freiligrath can be a business clerk and a poet simultaneously, he should be able to as well. It is to be hoped that German literature will soon be enriched by some of his short novels, which will not be inferior to the best; the only shortcomings of which he can be accused are hackneyed treatment, ill-conceived design and careless style. I would willingly quote extracts from one of them, if decency did not forbid it, but soon perhaps a publisher will take pity on the great D. [Dürholt, a clerk in Barmen] dare not give his full name lest his wounded modesty leads him to sue me for libel) and publish his short novels. He also wants to be a close friend of Freiligrath.

This just about covers the literary manifestations of the world-famous valley to which, perhaps, should be added a few wine-inspired geniuses who from time to time try their hand at rhyming’, and whom I can warmly recommend to Dr. Duller as characters for a new novel. This whole region is submerged in a sea of pietism and philistinism, from which rise no beautiful, flower-covered islands, but only dry, bare cliffs or long sandbanks, among which Freiligrath wanders like a seaman off course.

 


Modern Literary Life 1: Karl Gutzkow as Dramatist; 2 Modern Polemics - Frederick Engels

Modern Literary Life by Frederick Engels

Works of Frederick Engels, 1840

Modern Literary Life [56]


Written: in March 1840
First published: in the Mitternachtzeitung für Leser Nos. 51-54, March 1840, and Nos. 83-87, May 1840
Signed: Friedrich Oswald


1
Karl Gutzkow As Dramatist

Mitternachtzeitung für gebildete Leser No. 51, March 26,1840

One would have thought that after Gutzkow’s well-known article in the Jahrbuch der Literatur [57] his opponents would feel moved to equally noble revenge; with the possible exception of Kühne, who was really dismissed too superficially here also. But one little knows the egoism of our literature if one expects any such thing. It was most significant that the Telegraph in its literary share-list took each writer’s evaluation of himself as the price at par. So it was predictable that Gutzkow’s latest writings would receive no special welcome from this quarter.

Nevertheless there are those among our critics who pride themselves on their impartiality to Gutzkow, and others who admit to a decided predilection for his literary work. The latter spoke very highly of his Richard Savage [58] the Savage which Gutzkow wrote in feverish haste in twelve days, while his Saul, [59] where one can see with how much love the poet worked on it, how carefully he nurtured it, they dismiss with a few words of half-hearted recognition. At the very time when Savage was making its fortune on every stage and all the journals were filled with reviews, those to whom knowledge of this play was denied should have been prompted to trace Gutzkow’s dramatic talent in Saul, which was available to them in print. But how few journals gave even a superficial criticism of this tragedy! One really does not know what to think of our literary life if one compares this neglect with the discussions aroused by Beck’s Fahrender Poet, a poem which is surely farther from classicism than Gutzkow’s Saul!

But before discussing this play we must consider the two dramatic studies in the Skizzenbuch [60] The first act of Marino Falieri, an unfinished tragedy, shows how well Gutzkow can fashion and shape each single act by itself, how skilfully he can handle the dialogue and endow it with refinement, grace and Wit. But there is not enough action, one can relate the content in three words, and so on the stage it would bore even those who can appreciate the beauties of the execution. Any improvement, it is true, would be difficult since the action is so constructed that to move anything from the second act to the first would only do harm elsewhere. But here the true dramatist proves his worth, and if Gutzkow is one, as I am convinced he is, he will solve the problem satisfactorily in the tragedy as a whole which he has promised to and will, we hope, soon complete.

Hamlet in Wittenberg already gives us the outline of a whole. Gutzkow has done well to give only the outlines here, since the most successful part, the scene in which Ophelia appears, would offend if depicted in greater detail. I find it inexplicable, however, that in order to introduce doubt, that German element, into Hamlet’s heart, Gutzkow should bring him together with Faust. There is no need whatever to bring this trait into Hamlet’s soul from without, since it is already there, and is inborn in him. Otherwise Shakespeare also would have especially motivated it. Gutzkow here refers to Börne, but it is precisely Börne who not only demonstrates the split in Hamlet but also establishes the unity of his character [L. Börne, Hamlet, von Shakespeare]. And by what agency does Gutzkow introduce these elements into Hamlet’s mind? Perhaps through the curse which Faust pronounces on the young Dane? Such deus-ex-machina effects would make all dramatic poetry impossible. Through Faust’s conversations with Mephistopheles which Hamlet overhears? If so, firstly, the curse would lose its significance, and, secondly, the thread leading from this character of Shakespeare’s Hamlet is often so fine as to be lost to sight, and, thirdly, could Hamlet speak so casually of other things immediately afterwards? It is different with the appearance of Ophelia. Here Gutzkow has seen through Shakespeare, or if not that, has supplemented him. It is a case of Columbus and the egg, after the critics have argued about it for two hundred years a solution is given here which is as original as it is poetical and probably the only possible one. The execution of the scene is also masterly. Those who were not convinced by a certain scene in Wally [61] that Gutzkow also has imagination and is not coldly matter-of-fact, can learn it here. The tender, poetic bloom on the delicate figure of Ophelia is more than one is entitled to expect from mere outlines. — The verses spoken by Mephistopheles are totally unsuccessful. It would require a second Goethe to reproduce the language of Goethe’s Faust, the melody that rings in the seeming doggerel; in anybody else’s hands these light verses would become wooden and ponderous. On the interpretation of the principle of evil I will not argue with Gutzkow here.

Now we come to our main work, König Saul. Gutzkow has been upbraided for having his Savage preceded by a number of trumpet blasts and fanfares in the Telegraph, although all the fuss is about two or three short notices; it does not occur to anybody that others have had their works welcomed by paid musicians; but because it is Gutzkow, who has told someone a home truth and perhaps done someone else a slight injustice, it is made out to be a great crime. With König Saul there is no room for such reproaches; it came into the world unannounced either by notices below the line or excerpts in the Telegraph. There is the same modesty in the drama itself; no spectacular effects with thunder and lightning rise like volcanic islands from a sea of watery dialogue, no pompous monologues are intoned whose inspired or moving rhetoric has to conceal a number of dramatic blunders; everything develops calmly and organically, and a conscious, poetic force leads the action safely to its conclusion. And will our critics read such a work once and then write an article whose bright, flowery flourishes show from what thin, sandy soil they sprout? I regard as a great merit of König Saul the fact that its beauties are not on the surface, that one must look for them, that after a single reading one may well throw the book contemptuously into a corner. Let an educated man forget how famous Sophocles is and then let him choose between Antigone and Saul; I am convinced that after a single reading he would find both works equally bad. By that I do not, of course, mean to say that Saul can be compared to the greatest poetic work of the greatest Greek; I only wish to indicate the degree of perverseness with which frivolous superficiality can judge. It was entertaining to see how certain sworn enemies of the author now suddenly believed themselves to have won an enormous triumph, how jubilantly they pointed to Saul as a monument to all Gutzkow’s hollowness and lack of poetry, how they did not know what to make of Samuel and pretended it was always being said of him “I don’t know if he is alive or dead”. It was amusing how beautifully they unconsciously revealed their boundless superficiality. But Gutzkow may be reassured; it happened thus to the prophets who came before him, and in the end his Saul will be among the prophets. Thus they despised Ludwig Uhland’s plays until Wienbarg opened their eyes [62]Precisely Uhland’s plays have much in common with Saul in the modest simplicity of their dress.

Mitternachtzeitung für gebildete Leser No. 52, March 27, 1840

Another reason why superficiality could dismiss Saul so easily lies in the peculiar conception of historical fiction. With historical works which are as well known as the first book of Samuel and regarded in so many and various ways, everyone has his own peculiar standpoint which he wishes to see recognised or heeded at least to some extent in the case of a poetic adaptation. One reader is for Saul, another for David, a third for Samuel; and everybody, however solemn his assurances that he is willing to let the poet have his views, is nevertheless piqued if his own are not respected. But Gutzkow has done well here to leave the common highway where even the most ordinary cart finds a rut. I would like to see the man who would undertake to create a purely historical Saul in a tragedy. I cannot be satisfied with the attempts hitherto made to place the story of Saul on a purely historical basis. Historical criticism of Old Testament scripture has not yet got beyond the bounds of old-fashioned rationalism. A Strauss would still have much to do here if he wanted to separate strictly and clearly what is myth, what is history, and what is interpolated by the priests. Furthermore, have not a thousand failures shown that the Orient as such is an infertile ground for drama? And where in the story is that higher power which emerges victorious when the individuals who have outlived themselves break down? Surely not David? He remains as before amenable to the influence of the priests and is a poetic hero at most in the unhistorical light in which the Bible presents him. Consequently Gutzkow has not only taken advantage here of the right belonging to every poet, he has also removed the obstacles standing in the way of a poetic presentation. How then would a purely historical Saul appear in all the trappings of his time and nationality? Imagine him speaking in Hebrew parallelisms, all his ideas relating to Jehovah and all his images to the Hebrew cult; imagine the historical David speaking in the language of the psalms — to imagine an historical Samuel is altogether impossible — and then ask yourselves whether such figures would be even tolerable in drama? Here the categories of period and nationality had to be removed, here the outlines of the characters as they appear in biblical history and in previous criticism had to undergo many very necessary changes; indeed, a great deal here which historically was known to them only as notions or at most as vague representations had to be developed into clear concepts. Thus the poet had the perfect right, for example, to assume that his characters were familiar with the concept of the church. — And one cannot but heartily applaud Gutzkow when one observes how he solved his problem here. The threads from which he wove his characters are all to be found, however entangled, in his source; many had to be pulled out and thrown away, but only the most biased criticism can charge him with having interwoven anything alien, except in the scene with the Philistines.

Grouped in the centre of the drama. are three characters by whose original portrayal alone Gutzkow made his material truly tragic. Here he shows a genuinely poetic view of history; no one will ever be able to convince me that a “coldly matter-of-fact” person “a debater”, would be capable of selecting from a confused tale precisely that which would produce the greatest tragic effect. These three characters are Saul, Samuel and David. Saul concludes one period of Hebrew history,, the age of the judges, the age of heroic legend; Saul is the last Israelite Nibelung whose generation of heroes has left him behind in an age he does not understand and which does not understand him. Saul is an epigone whose sword was originally destined to gleam through the mist of the age of myth but whose misfortune it was to have lived to see the age of advancing culture, an epoch which is ‘alien to him, which covers his sword with rust, and which he therefore seeks to drive back. He is otherwise a noble person to whom no human feeling is alien, but he does not recognise love when he encounters it in the apparel of the new age. He sees this new age and its manifestations as the work of the priests, whereas the priests only prepare it, are only tools in the hands of history from whose hierarchical seed sprouts an unsuspected plant; he fights the new epoch, but it prevails over him. It gains giant strength overnight and smashes the great, noble Saul together with all who oppose it.

Samuel stands at the transition to culture; here as always the priests, as the privileged possessors of education, prepare the state of culture among primitive peoples, but education penetrates to the people, and the priests must resort to other weapons if they want to preserve their influence on the people. Samuel is a genuine priest whose holy of holies is the hierarchy; he firmly believes in his divine mission, and is convinced that if the rule of the priests is overthrown Jehovah’s wrath will descend on the people. To his horror he sees that the people already know too much when they demand a king; he sees that moral power, the imposing frock of the priest, no longer suffices with the people; he must resort to the weapons of cleverness and unwittingly becomes a Jesuit. But the very crooked ways he now pursues are doubly hateful to the king who could never be the priests’ friend, and in the struggle Saul’s eyes soon become as sharp for priestly tricks as they are blind to the signs of the times.

The third element, which emerges victorious from this struggle, the representative of a new historical epoch in which Judaism attains a new stage of consciousness, is David, equal to Saul in his humanity, and far exceeding him in his understanding of the age. At first he appears as Samuel’s pupil, barely having left school; but his reason has not so bowed itself before authority as to lose its resilience; it springs up and restores his independence to him. Samuel’s personality ma still impress him, but his intellect always comes to his aid, his poetic imagination rebuilds the new Jerusalem for him as often as Samuel destroys it with the lightning of his anathemas. Saul cannot become reconciled with him since both are pursuing opposite aims, and when he says that he hates only what priestly deceit has put into David’s soul, he is again confusing the effects of priestly lust for power with the signs of the new age. Thus David develops before our eyes from a foolish boy to the bearer of an epoch, and so the seeming contradictions in his portrayal vanish.

In order not to interrupt the development of these three characters, I have deliberately passed over a question raised by all critics who took the trouble to read Saul once, the question of whether Samuel appears as a living person in the witches’ scene and at the end or whether his ghost delivers the speeches there recorded. Let us suppose that no easy or thoroughly satisfactory answer is to be found in Saul; would that be such a great fault? I think not — take him for what you like, and if you feel inclined start boring discussions about it; after all one finds the same thing in Shakespeare’s Hamlet whose madness all the critics and commentators have discussed for the past two hundred years “three long and three broad and altogether polygonally” [A quotation from Wienbarg’s article “Ludwig Uhland, als Dramatiker"] and from all angles. Gutzkow has not made the problem so very difficult, however. He has long known how ridiculous ghosts are in broad daylight, how mal à propos the Black Knight appears in Die Jungfrau von Orleans [Schiller, Die Jungfrau von Orleans, Act III, Scene 9] and that all ghostly apparitions would be quite out of place in Saul. In the witches’ scene especially the mask is easy to see through, even if the old high priest had not appeared earlier in a similar manner, before there was any talk of Samuel’s death.

Of the play’s remaining characters the best drawn is Abner, who devotes himself to Saul with utter conviction and due to perfect compatibility of temperament and in whom the warrior and enemy of the priests has relegated the man wholly into the background. Least successful, by contrast, are Jonathan and Michal. Jonathan indulges throughout in phrases about friendship, and insists on his love for David without, however, proving it in anything but words; he dissolves completely in the friendship for David, thereby losing all manliness and strength. His butter-like softness cannot properly be called character. Gutzkow was confused here as to what he should do with Jonathan. In any case he is superfluous like this. Michal is kept quite vague ani is characterised to some extent only by her love for David. How very unsuccessful these two figures are can best be seen in the scene where they converse about David. What is said there about love and friendship lacks all the striking sharpness, all the wealth of thought, to which we are accustomed in Gutzkow. Mere phrases which are neither quite true nor quite false, nothing remarkable, nothing significant. — Zeruiah is a Judith; I don’t know whether it was Gutzkow or Kühne who once said that Judith, like every woman who transcends the limits of her sex, must die after her deed if she does not want to appear unattractive; Zeruiah also dies accordingly. — In itself the characterisation of the Philistine princes is excellent and rich in entertaining features, but whether it fits into the play is a question still to be settled.

Mitternachtzeitung für gebildete Leser No. 53, March 30, 1840

I trust I shall be excused for not giving a consecutive analysis of the dramatic action; only one point must be emphasised here, namely, the exposition. This is excellent and contains features in which Gutzkow’s great dramatic talent is unmistakable. Wholly in keeping with Gutzkow’s quick, impetuous manner, the mass of the people appears only in short scenes. There is something awkward about large crowd scenes; if one is not a Shakespeare or a Goethe they easily become trivial and insignificant. By contrast, a few words spoken by a couple of warriors or other men from the crowd are often very effective and achieve perfectly their aim of sketching public opinion; moreover, they can appear much more frequently without being conspicuous and tiresome. So much for the first and fourth scenes of the first act. The second and third scenes contain Saul’s monologue and his conversation with Samuel, which are the finest and most poetic passages of the play. The classically restrained passion of the dialogue is characteristic of the spirit in which the whole play is written. After the general state of the action has been rapidly outlined in these scenes, we are introduced to more specific matters in the fifth scene between Jonathan and David. This scene suffers somewhat from a confusion of thought; several times one loses sight of the dialectical thread — without any doubt the result of the unsuccessful drawing of Jonathan right from the start. The final scene in the act is masterly, however. We are already familiar to some extent with the chief characters, and here they are brought together; David and Saul meet with the serious intention of being reconciled. Her e the poet had to develop their different natures, show their incompatibility and bring about the inevitable conflict instead of the intended reconciliation. And this task, which only the most lively awareness, the most acute delineation of the characters, the surest look into the human soul can deal with satisfactorily, is solved here unsurpassably; the transitions in Saul’s mind from one extreme to the other are so true psychologically, so finely motivated, that I must judge this scene the best in the whole play, in spite of the unfortunate episode with the son-in-law.

In the second act, the scene with the Philistines is striking, or, to use Kühne’s expression, “freshly piquant”, but I doubt whether its rich wit suffices to secure it a place in the tragedy. When Gutzkow lifted his Saul above the concepts of his age and ascribed to him a consciousness which he did not have, that can be justified; however, this scene introduces a purely modern concept, and David is standing on German soil here. That is damaging, at least for the tragedy. Comic scenes could still occur, but they would have to be of ‘a different kind. The comic element in tragedy is not there, as superficial criticism says, for the sake of variation or contrast, but rather to give a more faithful picture of life, which is a mixture of jest and earnest. But I doubt if Shakespeare would have been satisfied with such reasons. In real life does not the most moving tragedy invariably appear m comic dress? I will only remind you of the character who, though he appears in a novel as he must, is yet the most tragic I know, Don Quixote. What is more tragic than a man who from sheer love of humanity and misunderstood by his own age falls into the most comic follies? Still more tragic is Blasedow, a Don Quixote of the future, whose consciousness is more heightened than that of his model. Incidentally, I must here defend Blasedow against the otherwise penetrating criticism in the Rheinisches Jahrbuch which charges Gutzkow with having treated a tragic idea comically. [63] Blasedow had to he treated comically, like Don Quixote. If he is treated seriously, he becomes a prophet of world-weariness, a quite ordinary one, torn by emotion; remove the foil of comedy from the novel, and you have one of those formless, unsatisfactory works with which modern literature began. No, Blasedow is the first sure sign that Young Literature has left behind the period, necessary though it was, of wretchedness, of the Wallys and of the Nächte “written in red life”. — The truly comic in tragedy is to be found in the fool in King Lear or the grave-digger scenes in Hamlet.

Mitternachtzeitung für gebildete Leser No. 54, March 31, 1840

Here also that pitfall of the dramatist, the two last acts, has not been negotiated. by the author entirely without, damage. The fourth act contains nothing but decisions. Saul decides, Astharoth decides twice, Zeruiah decides, David decides. Then the witches’ scene which also yields only meagre results. The fifth act consists of nothing but battle and reflection. Saul reflects a little too much for a hero, David too much for a poet. One often thinks that one is hearing not a poet-hero but a poet-thinker, perhaps Theodor Mundt. In general Gutzkow has a way of making monologues less conspicuous by having them spoken in the presence of others. But since such monologues can rarely lead to decisions and are purely reflective, there are still more than enough real monologues.

The language of the play, as was to be expected of Gutzkow, is thoroughly original. We again find those images of Gutzkow’s prose which are so expressive that one is unaware of moving from simple, naked prose — into the flourishing region of the modern style, those pithy, apt expressions which frequently sound almost like proverbs. There is nothing of the lyric poet in Gutzkow, except in the lyrical moments of the action, when lyrical enthusiasm grips him unawares, and he is able to use prose, Hence the songs put into David’s mouth are either unsuccessful or insignificant. When David says to the Philistines:

I need but make you up as verses
For fun into a wreath,
[K. Gutzkow, König Saul, Act II, Scene 7]

what does it mean? — The basic thought of such a song is often very pretty, but the execution invariably miscarries. In other respects, too, one notices in the language that Gutzkow does not possess sufficient skill in writing verse, which is, of course, better than making the verses more flowing, but also more insipid, with old phrases.

Unsuccessful images have not been entirely avoided either. For example:

The anger of the priest
From whom the people first did wrest the crown
And then in whose emaciated hand
It should have been a staff.
[K. Gutzkow, König Saul, Act I, Scene 3.]

Here the crown is already an allegory for kingdom and cannot become the abstract basis for the second image of the staff. This is all the more striking as the mistake could so easily have been avoided, and proves clearly that verse still presents difficulties for Gutzkow.

Circumstances have prevented me from gaining a knowledge of Richard Savage. I admit, however, that the immoderate applause which greeted the first performances made me suspicious of the play. I recalled what had happened three years ago with Griseldis. [64] Since then enough disapproving voices have made themselves heard, the first and most thorough, as far as one can judge without knowing the play from accounts given in journals, strangely enough in a political paper, the Deutscher Courier. [65] But I can easily spare myself a criticism, for what journal has not already reviewed it? Let us wait, therefore, until it is available in print.

Werner, [66] Gutzkow’s most recent work, has received the same applause in Hamburg. To judge by its antecedents, the play is probably not only of great value in itself, but may be the first really modern tragedy. It is strange that Kühne, who has so often reviewed the modern tragedy that one might almost think he himself was writing one, has allowed himself to be forestalled by Gutzkow. Or does he not feel called upon to try his hand at drama?

However, we hope that Gutzkow, having prepared the way to the stage for the Young Literature, will continue with original, vital plays to drive shallowness and mediocrity from the usurped theatre. It cannot be done through criticism, however devastating; that we have seen. Those who pursue the same tendencies as himself will support him most strongly, and thus new hope is rising in us for the German drama and the German theatre.

II
Modern Polemics [67]

Mitternachtzeitung für gebildete Leser No. 83, May 21, 1840

The Young Literature has a weapon through which it has become invincible and gathers under its banners all young talents. I mean the modern style, which in its concrete vitality, sharpness of expression, and variety of nuances offers to every young writer a bed in which the river or the stream of his genius can comfortably roll on without his originality — if he has any — being infected too strongly with alien elements, Heine’s carbonic acid or Gutzkow’s caustic lime. It is a pleasure to see how every young author seeks to adopt the modern style with its proudly soaring rockets of enthusiasm which at their highest point dissolve in a gaily coloured shower of poetical fire or burst in crackling sparks of wit. In this respect the criticisms in the Rheinisches Jahrbuch, which I mentioned earlier in my first article of this series, are of importance; they are the first sign of the effect which a new literary epoch has had on Rhenish soil, fairly alienated from German poetry. Here is the whole modern style with its light and shade, its original but apt descriptions, and its iridescent poetic spotlight.

In these circumstances we can say of our authors not only: le style c'est l'homme [G. L. Buffon], but also: le style c'est la littérature. The modern style bears the stamp of mediation, not only between the celebrities of the past, as L. Wihl recently remarked, but also between production and criticism, poetry and prose. It is Wienbarg in whom these elements interpenetrate most intimately; in Die Dramatiker der retztzeit the poet has been absorbed into the critic. The same would apply to the second volume of Kühne’s Charaktere if there were more coherence in the style. — German style has gone through its dialectical mediation process; from the naive directness of our prose there emerged the language of the intellect which culminated in the lapidary style of Goethe, and the language of the imagination and the heart, the splendour of which has been revealed to us by Jean Paul. Mediation began with Börne, but in him the intellectual element nevertheless still dominated, especially in the Briefe, while Heine helped the poetical side to come into its own. Mediation is completed in the modern style; imagination and intellect do not unconsciously flow into each other, nor do they stand in direct opposition; they are united in style, as in the human mind, and since their unification is conscious, it is also lasting and genuine. Hence I cannot admit that fortuitousness which Wihl still tends to vindicate in the modern style, and I am compelled to discern a genetic, historical development here. — The same mediation occurs in literature; there is almost no one in whom production and criticism are not combined; even among the lyric poets Creizenach has written Der schwäbische Apoll and Beck a work on Hungarian literature, [68] and the reproach that the Young Literature is getting lost in criticism has its foundation far more in the mass of critics than of criticisms. Or do not the productions of Gutzkow, Laube, Mundt and Kühne significantly outweigh their critical writings, both in quantity and quality? Thus the modern style remains a reflection of literature. There is, however, one aspect of style which is always a sure test of its essence: the polemical. With the Greeks polemic took the form of poetry, becoming plastic with Aristophanes. The Romans clad it in the gown of the hexameter which was suitable for everything, and Horace, the lyric poet, developed it likewise lyrically into satire. In the Middle Ages, when the lyric was in full flower, it passed with the Provençals into sirventes and chansons, with the Germans into the Lied. When bare intellect made itself master of poetry in the seventeenth century, the epigram of the later Roman period was sought out to serve as the form for polemical wit. The French fondness for classical imitation produced Boileau’s Horacising satires. In Germany, the previous century, which fastened on to anything until German poetry began to develop in complete independence, tried all polemical forms until Lessing’s antiquarian letters found in prose the medium which permits the freest development of polemics. Voltaire’s tactics, which deal the opponent a blow now and then, are truly French; so is the sniping war of Béranger, who in the same French manner puts everything into a chanson. But what about modern polemics?

Forgive me, dear reader, you have probably long ago guessed the aim of this diatribe; but I happen to be a German and cannot rid myself of my German nature which always starts with the egg. Now, however, I will be all the more direct; it is a question of the dissensions in modern literature, the justification of the parties and especially the dispute at the root of all the rest, the dispute between Gutzkow and Mundt, or, as the matter now stands, between Gutzkow and Kühne. This dispute has now been going on for two years in the midst of oar literary developments and could not but have upon them an influence partly favourable, partly unfavourable. Unfavourable because the smooth course of development is always disturbed when literature lets itself become the arena of personal sympathies, antipathies. and idiosyncrasies; favourable because ‘ to speak in Hegelian terms, it stepped out from the one-sidedness in which it found itself as a party, and proved its victory through its very destruction; also because, contrary to the expectations of many, the “younger generation” did not take sides, but used the opportunity to free itself from all alien influences and to devote itself to independent development. If then a few have taken sides, they prove thereby how little confidence they have in themselves and of what little consequence they are to literature.

Whether. Gutzkow picked up the first stone, whether Mundt was the first to put his hand to his left hip, may be left unexamined; suffice it that stones were thrown and swords drawn. It is only a question of the deeper causes of a war which was bound to break out sooner or later; for nobody who has watched its whole course without bias will believe that, on either side there prevailed subjective motives, spiteful envy or frivolous love of fighting. Only in Kühne’s case was personal friendship with Mundt a motive, and in itself surely no ignoble one, for accepting Gutzkow’s challenge.

Mitternachtzeitung für gebildete Leser No. 84, May 22, 1840

Gutzkow’s literary work and aspirations bear the stamp of a sharply defined individuality. Only a few of his numerous writings leave a wholly satisfying impression and yet it cannot be denied that they are among the finest products of German literature since 1830. Why is this so? I believe I see in him a dualism that has much in common with the schism in Immermann’s mind which Gutzkow himself first tore open. Gutzkow possesses the greatest power of intellect, as is recognised by all German authors of belies-lettres, of course; his judgment is never at a loss, his eye finds its bearings with wonderful facility in the most complex phenomena. Alongside this intellect there is, however, an equally powerful heat of passion which expresses itself as enthusiasm in his productions and puts his imagination in that state of, I would almost say, erection, in which alone spiritual creation is possible. His works, though they are often very protracted compositions, come into being in a flash, and if on the one hand one can see in them the enthusiasm with which they are written, on the other this haste prevents the calm working out of detail and, like Wally, they remain mere sketches. More calm prevails in the later novels, most of all in Blasedow, which is chiselled with a plasticity altogether unusual in Gutzkow up to now. His earlier figures were character drawings rather than characters, metewra [High above] hovering between heaven and earth, as Karl Grün says. Nevertheless, Gutzkow cannot prevent the enthusiasm from giving way momentarily to intellect; in this mood are written those passages of his works which produce the disagreeable impression already mentioned. it is this mood which Kühne in his insulting language called “senile shivers”. — But it is also this passionate disposition which leads Gutzkow so easily into outbursts of wrath, often about the most insignificant things, and which brings into his polemic a gushing hatred, a wild vehemence, which Gutzkow surely regrets afterwards; for he must see how unwisely he acts in moments of fury. That he does see this is proved by the well-known article in the Jahrbuch der Literatur on whose objectivity he somewhat flatters himself — he knows, then, that his polemic is not free of momentary influences. — To these two sides of his mind, whose unity Gutzkow does not yet appear to have found, there is also added a boundless feeling of independence; he cannot bear the lightest fetters, and whether they were of iron or cobweb, he would not rest until he had smashed them. When against his will he was counted as belonging to Young Germany with Heine, Wienbarg, Laube and Mundt, and when this Young Germany began to degenerate into a clique, he was overcome by a malaise which left him only after his open breach with Laube and Mundt. But effectively as this desire for independence has preserved him from alien influence, it easily becomes heightened into a rejection of everything different, a withdrawal into himself, an excess of self-reliance, and then it borders on egoism. I am far from accusing Gutzkow of consciously striving for unrestricted domination in literature, but at times he uses expressions which make it easier for his opponents to charge him with egoism. His passionate disposition alone drives him to give himself wholly as he is, and so one can discern at once the whole man in his works. — Add to these spiritual characteristics a life continually wounded over the last four years by the censor’s scissors and the restrictions imposed on his free literary development by the police, and I may hope to have sketched the main features of Gutzkow’s literary personality.

While the latter’s nature thus proves to be thoroughly original, in Mundt we find an amiable harmony of all spiritual powers, which is the first prerequisite for a humourist: a calm intellect, a good German heart, and in addition the necessary imagination. Mundt is a genuinely German character, who, however, for precisely this reason, rarely rises above the ordinary and often enough verges on the prosaic. He possesses amiability, German thoroughness, sterling honesty, but he is not a poet concerned with artistic development. Mundt’s works prior to the Madonna are insignificant; the Moderne Lebenswirren is rich in good humour and fine detail, but worthless as a work of art and tedious as a novel; in the Madonna enthusiasm for new ideas gave him an impetus which he had not known before, but again the impetus did not produce a work of art, merely a mass of good ideas and splendid images. Nevertheless, the Madonna is Mundt’s best work, for the showers of rain sent into the literary sky shortly afterwards by the German cloud-gatherer Zeus [69] cooled Mundt’s enthusiasm considerably. The modest German Hamlet strengthened his protestations of harmlessness with innocent little novels in which the ideas of the times appeared with trimmed beard and combed hair, and submitted in the frock-coat of a suppliant a most abject petition for most gracious assent. His Komödie der Neigungen did his reputation as a poet an injury which he attempted to heal with Spaziergange und Weltfahrten instead of with new, rounded poetical works. And if Mundt does not throw himself into production with his earlier enthusiasm, if instead of travel books and journalistic articles he does not give us poems, then there will soon be no more talk of Mundt the poet. one could observe a second retreat by Mundt in his style. His preference for Varnhagen, in whom he thought he had discovered Germany’s greatest master of style, led him to adopt the latter’s diplomatic turns of phrase, affected expressions and abstract flourishes; and Mundt entirely failed to see that the fundamental principle of the modern style — concrete freshness and liveliness — was thereby violated to the core.

Mitternachtzeitung für gebildete Leser No. 85, May 25, 1840

Besides these differences, the intellectual. development of the two disputants had been wholly opposed. Gutzkow manifested from the start an enthusiasm for Börne, the “modern Moses”, which still lives on in his soul as fervent adoration; Mundt sat in the secure shade thrown by the giant tree of Hegel’s system and for a time betrayed the conceit of most Hegelians; in the early yea of his literary activity the axioms of the philosophical padishah that freedom and necessity are identical and that the aspirations of the South-German liberals are one-sided, prejudiced Mundt’s political views. Gutzkow left Berlin with distaste at conditions there and acquired a predilection for South Germany in Stuttgart which never left him; Mundt felt at home in Berlin life, loved to sit at the aestheticising tea-parties and distilled from the intellectual activity of Berlin his Persönlichheiten und Zustände, [70] that literary hothouse product which suffocated all free poetic activity in him and in others. It is saddening to see how Mundt, in the second issue of Freihafen for 1838, reviewing a work by Münch, goes into raptures in his description of such a personality, raptures to which he could never be roused by a work of poetry.[71] Berlin conditions — it is as if this word were invented for Berlin — made him forget everything else and he even let himself be misled into a ridiculous contempt for the beauties of nature, such as is revealed in the Madonna.

So Gutzkow and Mundt confronted each other when the ideas of the age suddenly made their paths cross. They would soon have separated, perhaps waved greetings to each other from afar and been happy to recall their meeting, had not the setting up of Young Germany and the Roma locuta est of the most serene Federal Diet compelled them both to unite. The state of affairs was thus radically altered. Their common fate obliged Gutzkow and Mundt to give weight in their judgments of each other to considerations the observation of which was bound in the long run to become unbearable for both of them. Young Germany, or Young Literature, as it called itself after the catastrophe from above so as to sound more harmless and not to exclude others with similar aims, was near to degenerating into a clique, and that against its will. From all sides one found oneself compelled to drop opposing tendencies, to cover up weaknesses, to overstress agreement. This unnatural, forced pretence could not last long. Wienbarg, the finest figure in Young Germany, withdrew; Laube had from the start protested against the conclusions which the state permitted itself; Heine in Paris was too isolated to quicken the literature of the day with the electric sparks of his wit; Gutzkow and Mundt, by mutual agreement, as I would like to think, were frank enough to break the public peace.

Mundt polemicised little and insignificantly, but once he let himself be misled into conducting his polemic in a manner inviting the sharpest censure. At the end of the article “Görres und die katholische Weltanschauung” (Freihafen, 1838, II) he says that if German religiousness will have nothing to do with Young Germany, the movement has sufficiently shown that it contains more than enough rotten elements as far as religion is concerned. It is clear that this refers not only to Heine, who does not concern us here, but to Gutzkow. However, even if the accusations were true, Mundt should at least have enough respect for those to whom he is bound by common fate not to champion narrow-mindedness, philistinism and pietism against them! Mundt could hardly behave worse than when he says in pharisaic triumph: God, I thank thee that I am not as Heine, Laube and Gutzkow, and that in the eyes of German religiousness if not of the German Confederation, I can pass as respectable!

Gutzkow, by contrast, took real pleasure in polemics. He pulled out all the stops and followed the allegro moderate of the Literarische Elfen [72] with an allegro furioso of literary notices. He had the advantage over Mundt in that he could expose the latter’s literary whims in full focus and place them within range of the permanently loaded gun of his wit. Almost every week at least one blow against Mundt could be found in the Telegraph. He knew how to profit by the overwhelming advantage which possession of a weekly journal gives over an opponent limited to a quarterly and his own works; it is particularly remarkable that Gutzkow intensified his polemic, allowing his contempt for Mundt’s literary gifts to appear only gradually, while the latter treated Gutzkow as an inferior personality immediately after the declaration of war, without regard for such a descending climax. — The usual artifices of political journals, recommending articles of the same colour in other journals, smuggling in hidden malice under the guise of recognition and praiseworthy objectivity, etc., were carried over into the literary sphere in this polemic; whether their own articles appeared under the pseudonyms of provincial correspondents cannot, of course, be determined, since right from the start there streamed to each party a crowd of obliging, nameless assistants, who would have felt very flattered if their labours were taken for the works of their commanding generals. Marggraff attributes most of the blame for the dispute to these interlopers who with their zeal wished to buy commendatory notices below the line. [73]

Towards the end of 1838 a third fighter entered the lists, Kühne, whose armoury we must review for the moment. For a long time Mundt’s personal friend and without doubt the Gustav to whom Mundt once appeals in the Madonna, his literary character also has much in common with Mundt, although on the other hand a French element is clearly evident in him. He is linked with Mundt particularly by their common development through Hegel and the social fife of Berlin, which determined Kühne’s taste for personalities and conditions and Varnhagen von Ense, the true inventor of these literary hybrids. Kühne is also one of those who give much praise to Varnhagen’s style and overlook the fact that what is good in it is really only an imitation of Goethe.

Mitternachtzeitung für gebildete Leser No. 86, May 26, 1840

The chief foundation of Kühne’s literary stature is esprit, that French, quickly combining intellect, linked with a lively imagination. Even the extreme of this trend, the cult of the phrase, is so little alien to Kühne that, on the contrary, he has achieved a rare mastery in handling it, and one cannot read reviews such as that of the second volume of Mundt’s Spaziergänge (Elegante Zeitung, May 1838) without a certain enjoyment. Naturally, it also happens often enough that this play with phrases makes a disagreeable impression and one is reminded of a few apt words of Mephistopheles which have become commonplace. [Goethe, Faust, Erster Teil, Studierzimmer: “Mit Worten gut sich trefflich streiten mit Worten ein System bereitein... “] In a journal one may well tolerate passages interwoven with phrases in this fashion; but when in a work like the Charaktere a passage occurs which reads quite well but lacks all real content — and that is more than once the case — this shows too much levity in selection. On the other hand, his French cleverness makes Kühne one of our best journalists, and it would surely be easy for him, with greater activity, to lift the Elegante Zeitung far above its present level. But oddly enough, Kühne is far from displaying the agility of mind which alone seems to correspond to the esprit in which he recalls Laube. — Kühne displays this trans-Rhenish nature most clearly as a critic. While Gutzkow does not rest until he has got to the bottom of his subject and forms his judgment from that alone without regard to any favourable or mitigating minor considerations, Kühne places the subject in the light of a witty thought, which, it is true, consideration of the object has most often inspired. When Gutzkow is one-sided, it is because he judges without due regard of person, more by the object’s weaknesses than its virtues and demands classical creations from budding poets like Beck; when Kühne is one-sided, he endeavours to regard all aspects of his object from a single viewpoint which is neither the highest, nor the most illuminating, and excuses the playfulness of Beck’s Stille Lieder with the truly apt phrase that Beck is a lyrical musician.

In Kühne one must further distinguish two periods; the beginning of his literary career was marked by a bias towards the Hegelian doctrine and, so it seems to me, by a devotion to Mundt or a community of views with him in which independence was not always duly respected. The Quarantäne marks his first step towards emancipation from these influences; Kühne’s views did not find their full development until the literary troubles after 1836. For a comparison of Kühne’s and Gutzkow’s poetic aims two works written at the same time are available, the Quarantäne im Irrenhause and Seraphine. Both reflect the whole personality of their authors. Gutzkow portrayed the reasonable and the genial side of his character in Arthur and Edmund; Kühne, as a beginner, revealed himself fully and more artlessly in the hero of the Quarantäne, as he looks for a way out of the labyrinth of the Hegelian system. Gutzkow excels, as always, in the sharpness of his portrayal of the soul, in the psychological motivation; almost the entire novel takes place in the mind. Such an intellectual compounding of the motives from nothing but misunderstandings, however, destroys all quiet enjoyment, even of the interspersed idyllic situations, and no matter how masterly Seraphine is on the one hand, it is a failure on the other. Kühne, by contrast, bubbles over with witty reflections on Hegel, German soul-searching and Mozart’s music, with which he fills three-quarters of the book, but in the end succeeds only in boring the readers and spoiling the novel as such. Seraphine does not contain a single well-drawn character; and Gutzkow’s aim, which was to show his ability to portray female characters, is realised least of all. The women in all his novels are either trivial, like Celinde in Blasedow, devoid of real womanliness, like Wally, or unlovely through a lack of inner harmony, like Seraphine herself. He almost seems to realise this himself when he makes Michal say in Saul:

You can lay open, like the human brain,
The very heart of woman,
You can show all a woman’s heart is made of;
But that which is the spirit of fife within it
No scalpel can lay bare, nor keen comparison.
[K. Gutzkow, Köng Saul, Act III, Scene 3]

The same lack of precise characterisation is displayed in the Quarantäne. The hero is not a complete character but a personification of the transitional epoch in the present-day consciousness, who therefore lacks all individuality. The remaining characters are almost all made too indeterminate so that one cannot properly say of most of them whether they are successes or failures.

Kühne had long been challenged by Gutzkow but had replied only indirectly by praising Mundt’s merits excessively and rarely mentioning Gutzkow’s. Eventually Kühne also came out in opposition to him, at first calmly and critically rather than polemically; he called Gutzkow a debater, but would not concede to him any further literary claim; soon afterwards, however, he began his offensive in a manner which perhaps no one had expected, with the article “Gutzkows neueste Romane [74]. Here with much wit Gutzkow’s dual nature is distorted into caricature and traced in his writings, but there is also such a mass of unworthy expressions, unfounded assertions and ill-concealed innuendoes that the polemic only benefited Gutzkow. He replied with a brief reference to the Jahrbuch der Literatur for 1839 (why has that for 1840 not yet appeared?) which carried his article on the latest literary disputes. The policy of winning minds by impartiality was shrewd enough, and the restraint which this article cost Gutzkow must be recognised; if it was not entirely satisfactory and, in particular, disposed too easily of Kühne, who can surely not be denied an important influence on present-day literature or a sound talent for the historical novel, although not yet very clear in the Klosternovellen, this can gladly be overlooked until his opponents have done as well or have excelled him.

Mitternachtzeitung für gebildete Leser No. 87, May 28, 1840

This Jahrbuch der Literatur, however, bore within itself the seed of a new split, Heine’s “Schwabenspiegel”. [75] Probably only a few of those involved know what actually happened; I find it best to pass over this whole embarrassing story. Or could not Heine muster the required number of sheets again soon to bring out an uncensored volume, which would also contain the complete “Schwabenspiegel"? Then one could at least see what the Saxon censorship considered, fit to cut and whether the mutilation is indeed to be laid to the charge of any censorship authority. [76] Enough, the flames of war were fanned again. Kühne behaved unwisely by accepting the stupid article on Savage and by accompanying Dr. Wihl’s explanation (which it was surely too much to expect the Elegante to accept, rather as if Beck had sent his declaration against Gutzkow to the Telegraph) with a currish parody which the other side likewise rejected with a bark. [77] This dog-fight is the most shameful blot on all modern polemics; if our men of letters start treating each other like beasts and applying the principles of natural history in practice, German literature will soon be like a menagerie and the long-awaited Messiah of literature will fraternise with Martin and van Amburgh.

To prevent the once more slackening polemic from going to sleep, an evil spirit stirred up the dispute between Gutzkow and Beck. [78] I have already given my judgment of Beck elsewhere, but, as I willingly admit, not without bias. The retrogressive step which Beck took in Saul and in the Stille Lieder made e suspicious and unfair to the Nächte and the Fahrender Poet. I ought not to have written the article, much less sent it to the journal which printed it. I may therefore be permitted to correct my judgment to the effect that I accord recognition to Beck’s past, the Nächte and Fahrender Poet, but that it would go against my conscience as a critic if I did not describe the Stille Lieder and the first act of Saul as retrogressive. The faults of Beck’s first two works were inevitable because of his youth, nay, in the press of images and the immature impetuousness of thought one might be inclined to see a superabundance of strength, and in any case here was a talent of which one might have the highest hopes. — Instead of those flaming images, instead of that wildly excited youthful strength, there is a tiredness, a languor in the Stille Lieder, which was least to be expected of Beck, and the first act of Saul is equally feeble. But perhaps this flabbiness is only the natural, momentary consequence of that over-excitement, perhaps the following acts of Saul will make up for all the defects of the first — but Beck is a poet, and even in its most severe and just censure criticism should show a proper respect for his future creative work. Every true poet deserves such reverence; and I myself would not like to be taken for an enemy of Beck’s, since, as I readily admit, I am indebted to his poetic works for the most varied and enduring stimulation.

The dispute between Gutzkow and Beck might well have been avoided. It cannot be denied that in the exposition of his Saul Beck followed Gutzkow to some extent, unwittingly, of course, but that does not detract from his honesty, only from his originality. Instead of being indignant about it, Gutzkow should rather have felt flattered. And Beck, instead of laying stress on the originality of his characters, which no one had called in doubt, had indeed to take up the gauntlet once it was thrown down, as he in fact did, but should also have revised the act, which one trusts he will have done.

Gutzkow now adopted a hostile position to all the Leipzig men of letters and has since harried them unremittingly with literary witticisms. He sees them as a regular band of organised ruffians which harasses him and literature in every possible way; but he would truly do better to adopt a different method of attack if he does not want to give up the fight. Personal connections and their reaction on public opinion are inevitable in Leipzig literary circles. And Gutzkow should ask himself whether he has never succumbed to this sometimes unfortunately unavoidable sin; or must I remind him of certain Frankfurt acquaintances? Is it surprising if the Nordlicht, the Elegante and the Eisenbahn occasionally agree in their judgments? The description clique is quite unfitting for these circumstances.

This is how matters stand at present; Mundt has withdrawn and no longer bothers about the dispute; Kühne also is rather tired of the interminable warfare; Gutzkow is also sure to see soon that his polemic must eventually become boring to the public. They will gradually begin to challenge each other to novels and plays; they will see that a journal is not to be judged by a biting literary article, that the nation’s educated circles will award the prize to the best poet, not the most impetuous polemicist; they will get used to a calm existence side by side, and, perhaps, learn to respect each other again. Let them take Heine’s conduct as an example, who in spite of the dispute does not conceal his esteem for Gutzkow. Let them determine their relative value not by their own subjective estimation, but by the conduct of the younger people to whom literature will sooner or later belong. Let them learn from the Hallische Jahrbücher that polemic may only be directed against the children of the past, against the shadows of death. Let them consider that otherwise literary forces may arise between Hamburg and Leipzig which will overshadow their polemic fireworks. The Hegelian school, in its latest, free development, and the younger generation, as they prefer to be called, are advancing towards a unification which will have the most important influence on the development of literature. This unification has already been achieved in Moritz Carrière and Karl Grün.

 


Night Ride - Frederick Engels

Night Ride by Frederick Engels

Night Ride


Written: at the end of 1840
First published: in the Deutscher Courier No. 1, January 3, 1841
Signed: Friedrich Oswald


One night, my carriage bore me all alone
Across that well-known German territory
Where many a heart, by power beaten down,
Rages in impotent and blazing fury.

In fury that the freedom bought so dear
With struggle and with ceaseless vigilance
Had been cast out, for venal tongues to jeer
And cavil at with cruel insolence.

A mist lay on the meadows, deep and calm.
At times, a gust of wind would smite amain
The poplar-trees and they, in quick alarm
Aroused from sleep, soon slumbered on again.

Clear was the air. Sharp hung the sickle moon,
A sword of Damocles above the town
Towards which I sped.
The wrath of kings flies soon
From far away to strike its victims down.

Around the carriage wheels run leaping packs
Of dogs that bark at me.
And do they howl just like the Capital’s paid writer-hacks,
Having caught wind of my free-thinking soul?

What do I care? Sunk in my cushions low,
I live in dreams of many brave tomorrows.
Make no mistake — just before dawn, we know,
The nightmare plumbs the deepest of its horrors.

Yes, morning comes at last in silence stealing.
A single star shines forth to light its way.
The pious wake to bells of freedom pealing —
No tocsin now, but peace this joyful day!

The spirit’s tree has coiled its root-limbs round
The past, to crush all things outworn and old,
And now its branches strew the world around
With shining blossoms of eternal gold!

And so I slept, and woke that morning after,
And saw the earth all happy, cleansed and bright,
And Stüve’s city [Osnabrack, whose burgomaster was Johann Karl Bertram Stüve ]filled with joy and laughter,
City of Freedom, bathed in morning light.

 


On Anastasius Gruen

On Anastasius Grün by Frederick Engels

Works of Frederick Engels, 1840

On Anastasius Grün


Written: in the first half of April 1840
First published: in the Telegraph für Deutschland No. 61, April 1840
Signed: F. 0.


In connection with Anastasius Grün’s application for the post of chamberlain, one is involuntarily reminded of the verses he published two years ago in the Elegante. The poem was entitled Apostasie and concluded:

God’s will, you'll know how well I fare
By this flag overhead.
God’s truth, if ever you see me there,
I'm sick or good as dead.
Then think of me as dead and gone:
Bitter, to cast one’s eye,
Living, on one’s own gravestone,
As one is passing by. [79]

It sounds almost like a premonition.

 


On the Death of Immermann - Frederick Engels

On the Death of Immermann by Frederick Engels

Works of Frederick Engels, 1840

On the Death of Immermann


Written: in September 1840
First published: in Morgenblatt für gebildete Leser No. 243, October 10, 1840
Signed: Friedrich Oswald


In the camp’s finest tent we'd sat all night
And mingled Spanish wine with German song.
The fields were turning grey in dawn’s first light;
Our eyes were aching — we'd stayed up so long.
The sun’s rays peeped into our tent and found
Our sherry bottles drained, in disarray.
The hour was late. Time we were homeward bound.
Come, let us mount the horses and away!

We flew. After carousing all night long,
What bliss to feel the freshness of the morrow.
Still in our ears the sound of strings and song;
Still far away the long day’s care and worry.
The shades of night had vanished. From the sky
Light fell on river, trees, fields bathed in dew.
We all looked up to trace with joyful eye
The sun’s bright progress through the cloudless blue.

We're home. Our steeds coursed well. Now I stand here
Upon the threshold of work’s tribulations.
Here is the paper. Let me draw fresh cheer
By drinking from the well-spring of the nations.
Russia, Great Britain, Turkish catastrophes!
And now for Germany — does all go well?
Ah, here.... What? Dead? Can I believe my eyes?
You, Immermann, must also bid farewell?
Defiant heart, so full of noble scorn,
Must you depart, then, for eternity,
Now that we see the rose despite the thorn
And bow to you in all humility?
Now that, like Schiller, proudly you beheld
Your people hang on every word from you?
Now that the love within your bosom held
Had blossomed forth with shining rays anew?

Aloof in German poetry’s sacred grove,
You shunned your fellow bards’ vociferous throng,
And by the Rhine in solitude you wove
The images of many a gentle song.
The mob’s harsh clamour never came to hurt you
In the flower garden where you toiled away.
So few the stories they could spread about you;
Living, you were a legend in your day.

Because the maltitude, that never can
Conceive what power inspires the poet’s lays,
Why should they heed the silent, serious man
Who wanders far from their well-trodden ways?
But you, 0 Immermann, that now have died,
Wanted to wrestle with yourself, alone,
And all the bitter jarring strife inside
That you grew up with, master on your own.

So, meditating through the long dark night
That held in thrall our German poetry,
In solitude you fought the inner fight
And battled through to see the dawning day.
When far above your dwelling’s mossy stones
July’s wild thunder rolled away at last,
You sent into the world your Epigones,
That requiem for a generation past.

And yet you saw the rising generation,
Those in whose hearts the youthful fires blaze,
Speak loudly to defend your reputation,
Your right to wear the bard’s full crown of bays.
In your abode you saw us drawing nigh,
You saw us silent at your feet, as we
Looked up into your rapt and thoughtful eye
And listened to your rolling poetry.

Now that the people, who forgot your name,
Have welcomed you with shouts of joy, bestowing
On you your rightful laurels of acclaim,
0 Immermann, is this a time for going?
Farewell! Here in this land of Germany
Poets to match your skill are very few.
I settled down to work, and swore to be
As German, and as strong and firm as you.

 


On the Invention of Printing - Frederick Engels

On the Invention of Printing by Frederick Engels

Works of Frederick Engels, 1840

On the Invention of Printing [48]


Translated: in the first half of 1840
First published: in the Gutenberrgs-Album, Braunschweig, 1840
Signed: Friedrich Engels


Shall then the Poet’s voice sing, only telling
Of bloody Ambition, Thrones in all their pride,
When Fame’s shrill trumpets sound about him, swelling
The lips in places where the Gods abide?
Have you forgotten shame? And do you waste
The precious gift of Praise with its bright light
On men to curses and to execration
Ever condemned by History outright?
Awake, awake! Song, that’s become so shy,
Soar up above the clouds,
With might unmatched to lofty triumph fly!
And he who wants the world to find his song
Well worthy of the laurels on his brow,
Must make his song from now
Unfold well worthy of the world, and strong!

They were not prodigal in olden days,
But freely at the Altar
Of beneficial Spirit, of Invention,
They spent the sacrificial smoke of Praise.
Saturn came down, and with the mighty plough
Divided he the Earth’s maternal breast.
And then mankind beheld
The living seeds grow on the barren ground.
Heaven received Man’s gratitude profound:
God of the Golden Age is Saturn called.
And were you not a God, you who once found
Body for Thought, for Word,
Fixing in signs the life of speech that would
Have otherwise flown off, by no ties bound?
Without you, Time had gone,
Still self-consuming, sinking, dying, down,
Buried forever in oblivion.
You came. ‘Twas then that Thought
Saw the swift widening of the narrow sphere
That once enfolded its long infancy.
It winged its way into that world so vast,
Where mighty dialogue doth fill the air
Between Time Future and deed-heavy Past.
You've helped the blind to see!
Immortal one, enjoy the honours rare,
The lofty hymns of praise,
That are your due alone, Exalted Spirit!
And Nature, just as if the one invention
Were of itself enough to prove her power,
Rests from that time and, parsimonious,
Gives the world no such wonder any more.

But Nature in the end bestirs herself,
To give another token: the icy Rhine
Sees Gutenberg come forth: “O vain endeavours!
What does it help you, that you can inspire
Your thoughts with life by writing,
If thought dies, petrified, dumb in the dire
Darkness of lethargy and long forgetting?
Say, can a single vessel be enough
E'er to contain the billowing sea that rages?
Much less can Man’s gifts of the Spirit be
Unfolded in a single volume’s pages!
What lacks? The art of flight? But when bold Nature
Created in one image countless beings,
Now, after hers, there comes my own Invention!
That, echoing a thousandfold, Truth might
Embrace the world with powerful proclamation,
Soaring aloft with Clarity’s sheer flight!”

He spoke. And there was Print. And lo! all Europe,
Astounded, moved, forthwith herself bestirs
With thunderous sound. As if by storm winds fanned,
Swift-rushing onward roars
The wrathful fire that has so long lain deep
In the dark bowels of the Earth, asleep.
O evil Pile, raised up for Ignorance there
By base brutality and Tyrants’ wrath!
Rocks glowing, the Volcano gushes forth,
And your foundations tremble in their fear!
What is this monster of the evil spirit,
This foul abortion, that, all scruples gone,
Founds on the old decaying Capitol
Its loathsome and abominable Throne,
And now bids to destroy, yea, murder all?

It stands, although the structure of its power
Is crumbling slowly. But one day that Throne
Shall fall and cast its ruins o'er the land.
A fastness perching on a crag alone
Thus crowns the summit of a mountain high.
The Sons of War once took up their abode
In its security.
Ruling by force of stolen power, they
Would sally forth exultant to the fray.
Deserted and alone,
The Keep stands in the forest, seen by none.
It still surveys, though crumbling with neglect,
The world all round with menacing aspect.
One day it shall fall down,
And then the fields shall groan,
Covered with ruins. Meanwhile, it shall be
Scarecrow and bogey to all folk that lived
In fear and terror of it recently.

That, then, was the first wreath of bay to deck
The brow of Reason; but Intellect now rises
Courageously, athirst for certain knowledge,
Encompassing the world in its embraces.
Copernicus soars to the starry places
Hitherto shrouded in a heavy pall;
And then he sees, immeasurably far,
Day’s bringer, our forever festive star,
The brightest luminary of them all.
Then Galileo feels beneath his feet
The Earth’s ball rolling; but blind Italy
Rewards him with a prison cell’s disgrace.
Meanwhile, the Earth sails onward ceaselessly
And swiftly through the infinite sea of space,
And with it, fast as lightning, sweep the stars,
Shimm'ring in flight. Then Newton’s fiery spirit
Is flung aloft into their very midst.
He follows, understands them,
Charting the tracks of forces
That keep them racing in their whirling courses.

What does it help you, then, to conquer Heaven,
To find the law that moves eternally
Air’s circle and the seas? To split the ray
Of light incorporeal; or to dig down
Into the bowels of Earth and snatch the cradle
Of gold and crystal? Spirit, return once more
To Man!

And so it did, only to pour
Its bitterness into lamentations loud:
"How is the Intellect with blindness cowed!
How rings that chain of iron
Forged by the frenzied powers of Tyranny,
From pole to pole each with the other vying,
And pins Man helpless lying,
Upon his death-bed, tired of slavery!
This must be ended.”

And the Despots heard,
And wielded in their vile and villainous hands
Two weapons to depend on — Fire and Sword.

“O senseless ones! Those very high-piled faggots
That threaten to devour me horribly,
That burn to keep me from the Truth away,
Are beacons guiding me along Truth’s way,
Are Torches to light up Truth’s victory!
Truth fondly I desire;
With rapture drunk, my heart to Truth gives prayer,
My spirit looks on Truth; I follow her,
Not of the sword afraid, nor yet of fire.
That being so, then shall I still demur?
Can I turn back again,
Retrace my steps? The waves of Tagus never
Run back towards the source from which they came
Once they have flowed into the mighty sea.
The mountains seek to bar its course in vain;
They cannot stay it in its onward motion.
It rushes in the train
Of Destiny that roars into the Ocean.”

And then the great day came
On which a mortal man arose outraged,
In wrath from all-encompassing disgrace,
And, with almighty voice,
Called out to all the World: Mankind is free!
And narrow boundaries no longer caged
The sacred call: it rose up on the wing
Of the great echo Gutenberg invented,
Soared up, a wondrous thing,
And swift, in mighty inspiration,
O'erleapt the mountains and the ocean wide
And o'er the very winds held domination.
It was not shouted down by Tyranny,
And loud and lusty rang on every side
The joyful cry of Reason: Man is free!

Oh, free, yes, free! Sweetest of words, the breast
Swells, beating faster at the sound of you;
My spirit, that you imbue,
O'erbrimming with your holy inspiration,
Soars to serene celestial dominions,
Bearing me on its fiery beating pinions.
Where are you all that hear
My singing, mortal beings? From on high,
I see the awesome prison doors of Fate
Open, the impenetrable veil of Time
Is torn apart — the Future lies before me!
I see full clear that Earth never again
Shall be the wretched planet where Ambition
And War with its fierce countenance can reign.

Now both of them are gone from Earth for ever,
As Plague and Storm, those torturers, prepare
To leave the zone they've pillaged and laid bare,
When Polar ice-winds threaten to blow over.
AB people felt their true equality;
With strength untamed, brave heroes struggled for
That right and won it with triumphant glee.
There are no Slaves or Tyrants any more.
Now Love and Peace fill all the World around,
And Love and Peace breathe over all the Earth,
And “Love and Peace!” both near and far resound.
And up aloft, upon his golden Throne
In blessing doth the Lord his sceptre raise,
Dispensing Air and joy all round below,
So that on all Earth’s ways
They might, as once of old, abundant flow.

Do you not see that column soaring there,
Towering in all its splendour to the sky,
A-throb with flashing light, eye-dazzling?
Less mighty are the pyramids so high,
The work of slaves who toiled in abject fear
Of one whose glory came from suffering.
See there, unwavering,
The eternal incense rise,
As the whole Earth gives thanks to Gutenberg.
For such beneficence, a modest prize!
Hail to the one who broke the insensate power
Of battering violence; raised the might of Reason,
The strength of soul, high o'er the world to fly!
Praise him who raised the Truth in triumph high,
Making his hands’ work fruitful for all time!
Sing the Well-Doer’s praise in song sublime!

Bremen

 


Open Letter to Dr.Runkel - Frederick Engels

Open Letter To Dr. Runkel by Frederick Engels

Works of Frederick Engels, 1839

Open Letter To Dr. Runkel [26]


Written: on May 6, 1839
First published: in the Elberfelder Zeitung No. 127, May 9, 1839


To Herr Dr. Runkel in Elberfeld

Elberfeld, May 6th

You have violently attacked me and my “Letters from Wuppertal” in your newspaper and accused me of deliberate distortion, ignorance of the conditions, personal abuse and even untruths. It does not matter to me that you call me a Young German, for I neither accept the charges you level against Young Literature nor have the honour of belonging to it. Up to now I have felt nothing but respect for you as a man of letters and journalist; I have even expressed my opinion to this effect in the second article, where I deliberately refrained from mentioning your poems in the Rheinisches Odeon [27] since I could not have praised them. Anyone can be accused of deliberate distortion, and this tends to be done wherever an account does not conform to the preconceived notions of the reader. Why do you not give a single example as evidence? As for ignorance of the conditions, I should have expected this reproach least of all did I not know what a meaningless expression this phrase has become, used everywhere for lack of anything better. I have possibly spent twice as much time as you in Wuppertal, have lived in Elberfeld and Barmen and have had the most favourable opportunity to observe closely the life of all social estates.

Herr Runkel, I do not, as you accuse me of doing, make any claim to genius, but it would indeed require an extraordinarily dull intelligence not to acquire a knowledge of the conditions in such circumstances, especially if one makes the effort to do so. As for personal abuse — a preacher or a teacher is just as much a public figure as a writer, and you would surely not call a description of his public actions personal abuse. Where have I spoken of private matters, or even of such as would require a mention of my name, where have I ridiculed such things? As for the alleged untruths, much as I would like to avoid coming to blows or even causing a sensation, I find myself compelled, in order not to compromise the Telegraph or my anonymous honour, to challenge you to point out a single one of the “multitude of untruths”. To be honest, there are in fact two. Stier’s adaptation is not printed word for word, and Herr Egen’s travels are not that bad. But please, now be so kind as to complete the clover leaf! You say further that I have not shown a single bright side of the district. That is so; I have throughout acknowledged competence in individual cases (though I have not shown Herr Stier in his theological importance, which I truly regret), but in general I was unable to find any purely bright sides; and I await a description of the latter from you. Furthermore, it never occurred to me to say that the red Wupper becomes clear again in Barmen. That would be nonsense, or does the Wupper flow uphill? In conclusion I would ask you not to pass judgment before you have read the whole, and in future to quote Dante accurately or not at all; he does not say: qui si entra nell’ etemo dolore [Here is the gateway to eternal pain], but per me si va nell’ eterno dolore [Through me you pass into eternal pain; Dante, La Divina Commedia] (Inferno, III, 2).

The author of the Letters from Wuppertal

 


Platen - Frederick Engels

Platen by Frederick Engels

Works of Frederick Engels, 1840

Platen


Written: in December 1839
First published: in the Telegraph für Deutschland No. 31, February 1840
Signed: Friedrich Oswald


Among the poetic offspring of the Restoration period, whose powers were not crippled by the electric shocks of the year 1830 and whose fame only became established in the present literary epoch, there are three who are distinguished by a characteristic similarity: Immermann, Chamisso, and Platen. All three possess unusual individuality, considerable character, and an intellectual power which at least outweighs their poetic talent. In Chamisso, it is sometimes imagination and feeling that predominate, and at other times calculating intellect; especially in the terza rimas the surface is altogether cold and rationalistic, but underneath one hears the beating of a noble heart; in Immermann, these two qualities oppose each other and constitute the dualism which he himself acknowledges and the extreme features of which his strong personality can bend together but not unite; lastly, in Platen, poetic power has abandoned its independence and finds itself at ease under the domination of the more powerful intellect. If Platen’s imagination had not been able to rely on his intellect and his magnificent character, he would not have become so famous. Hence he represented the intellectual in poetry, the form; hence also his wish to end his career with a great work of art was not granted. He was well aware that such a great work was essential to make his fame lasting, but he felt also that his powers were still inadequate for it and he put his hopes on the future and his preparatory work; meanwhile, time passed, he did not get beyond the preparatory work and finally died.

Platen’s imagination followed timorously the bold strides of his intellect, and when it was a matter of a work of genius, when his imagination should have ventured on a bold leap that the intellect could not accomplish, it had to shrink back. That was the source of Platen’s error in considering the products of his intellect to be poetry. His poetic creative powers sufficed for anacreontic ghazals and sometimes flashed like a meteor in his comedies; but let us admit merely that most of what was characteristic of Platen is the product of the intellect, and will always be recognised as such. People will tire of his excessively affected ghazals and his rhetorical odes; they will find the polemics of his comedies for the most part unjustified, but they will have to pay full respect to the wit of his dialogue and the loftiness of his parabases, and see the justification of his one-sidedness in the greatness of his character. Platen’s literary standing in public opinion will change; he will go farther from Goethe, but will come closer to Börne.

That his views, too, make him more akin to Börne is evident not only from a host of allusions in his comedies but already from several poems in his collected works, of which I shall mention only the ode to Charles X. A number of songs inspired by the Polish struggle for freedom were not included in this collection, although they were bound to be of great interest for a characterisation of Platen. They have now been issued by another publishing firm as a supplement to the collected works. [46] I find my view of Platen confirmed by them. Thought and character here have to be the substitute for poetry to a greater extent and more noticeably than anywhere else. For that reason Platen seldom feels at home in the simple style of the song; there have to be lengthy, extended verses, each of which can embody a thought, or artificial ode metres, the serious, measured course of which seems almost to demand a rhetorical content. With the art of verse, thoughts also come to Platen and that is the strongest proof of the intellectual origin of his poems. He who demands something else from Platen will not find satisfaction in these Polish songs, but he who takes up this booklet with these expectations will find himself richly compensated for the lack of poetic fragrance by an abundance of exalted, powerful thoughts that have sprung from a most noble character, and by a “magnificent passionateness”, as the preface aptly says. It is a pity that these poems were not published a few months earlier, ‘when German national consciousness rose against the imperial Russian European pentarchy [47]; they would have been the best reply to it. Perhaps the pentarchist, too, would have found in them many a motto for his work. [Allusion to K. Goldmann’s book Die europäische Pentarchie]

 


Preface to MECW Volume 2

Preface by Progress Publishers

Marx-Engels Collected Works Volume 2

Works of Frederick Engels, 1838-1842

Preface

The Second Volume of the Collected Works of Marx and Engels contains Engels’ early writings and letters dating from the years 1838 to 1842, grouped together in two main sections. A special section contains his poetic and prose works in manuscript of an earlier period (1833-37); other biographical material is given in appendices.

Engels’ outlook developed on similar lines to that of the young Marx. He had steeped himself in the progressive philosophical and political ideas of the time, and was moved by a sense of protest against the reactionary order in Germany. His ambition was to take part in the ideological and political controversies on the eve of her bourgeois revolution. Like Marx, Engels became an adherent of the Hegelian philosophy, drawing revolutionary conclusions from it and soon afterwards coming under the influence of Ludwig Feuerbach’s ideas, which helped to crystallise the materialist aspects of his thinking.

Engels, however, found it much harder than Marx to arrive at a progressive outlook. He came from the conservative and religious family of a Barmen industrialist and was forced by his father to leave school and go into business. This meant that he had to complete his education independently, to find his own way through the labyrinth of contemporary religious, philosophical, political and literary trends, and in much painful soul-searching to rise above the religious convictions nurtured in him since early childhood. It was in the main Engels’ critical analysis of religion and theology that led him to progressive philosophical ideas. Literature, too, had an important part to play in his development, particularly in his early years.

While espousing the rational elements in the views of Ludwig Börne and the writers of the Young Germany movement, and in Hegel’s philosophy and the Young Hegelians’ radical theories, Engels came to realise at each stage of his intellectual development the inconsistencies and limitations in their ideas, subjecting them to critical analysis as he carved out his own path to other views which were more profound and more radical. His attention was soon drawn to the contradictions of the society in which he lived and to the wretched conditions of the working masses. This was an additional stimulus to his turning his back on the bourgeois outlook. By late 1842 he had become an advocate of communist reconstruction of the existing social system, though he still saw this largely in utopian terms.

This stage in Engels’ intellectual evolution can be broadly summed up as the emergence and rapid development of revolutionary-democratic ideas, followed in the second half of 1842, two years before he and Marx began to work closely together, by his incipient transition from idealism to materialism, and from a revolutionary-democratic outlook to communism.

Engels’ early journalistic writings make up the first section of this volume. At the age of eighteen he became a regular contributor to the press and published many letters, articles and essays on literary and sociopolitical subjects in various journals and newspapers, as well as some poems and philosophical pamphlets. His first published work, the poem The Bedouin (September 1838), breathed a spirit of liberty.

A good dozen articles and letters from the young Engels’ pen appeared in the columns of the Hamburg journal, Telegraph für Deutschland, a mouthpiece of the Young Germany movement edited by Karl Gutzkow. Engels had already begun to discern the contradictory nature of Young Germany, but remained firmly in favour of its demands for a constitution, freedom of the press, abolition of all forms of religious coercion, and emancipation of women.

It was in the Telegraph für Deutschland that Engels published, in the spring of 1839, his first major journalistic work, “Letters from Wuppertal”, describing life in his home town of Barmen and neighbouring Elberfeld. With an eye for detail remarkable for his years Engels describes in these letters the grim working conditions in the factories, the terrifying poverty, the widespread disease and the drunkenness among the poorer classes. He likewise paints the true portrait of broad sections of the German bourgeoisie, with their philistinism, obscurantism and religious bigotry. With them pietism served as a mask for the inhuman exploitation of the unfortunate masses and the poverty of intellectual life. Engels’ highly critical attitude to the social conditions of his day is pointedly expressed in the irony and sarcasm with which he describes the mores of the burghers of Wuppertal.

In the article “German Volksbücher”, Engels attacks the “popular literature” which gave either overt or covert expression to the interests of the reactionary classes. Condemning the serving up of pious homilies and the idealisation of meekness in pseudo folktales, Engels demands books to foster the people’s proud awareness of its rights and dignity, to help arouse its courage and love for its country.

Subsequent articles by Engels, such as “Karl Beck”, “Platen”, “Retrograde Signs of the Times” and “Immermann’s Memorabilien”, show that already at this early stage he was coming to understand very well the processes then at work in German literature and distinctive aspects of the relationship between literature and society. In the article “Retrograde Signs of the Times”, he remarks that criticism should not only expose tendencies to hark back in art and literature, but also their links, often not visible at first glance, with related phenomena in politics and in public and social life.

Engels’ revolutionary-democratic approach to literature undeniably set him apart from other critics and writers of his day. This is especially evident in his articles on poets like August von Platen, Karl Immermann and Karl Beck. Beck’s poems had at first led Engels to expect great things in view of the love of freedom professed in them, but later proved a source of considerable disappointment. Engels stressed that contemporary poetry should not express a futile Weltschmerz but rather the positive fight for freedom and against tyranny, philistinism and religious bigotry (see this volume, p. 43).

It was in the autumn of 1839 that Engels acquainted himself with Hegel’s philosophy, to which he was led to turn after reading David Strauss Das Leben Jesu. Engels adopted a radical, revolutionary approach to Hegel’s philosophy from the start, and this helped him to escape the influence of the conservative aspects of Hegel’s ideas and, in particular, to recognise the narrowness of his political views. While Hegel presented the constitutional monarchy as the culmination of the process of historical development and even implied that the Prussian monarchy might well be regarded as the final stage of evolution of absolute spirit, Engels opposed to this the open-endedness of historical progress and mankind’s advancement (pp. 47-48).

In his article “Requiem for the German Adelszeitung”, published in April 1840, basing himself on the Hegelian theory of world history as the implementation of the idea of freedom, Engels attacked conservative trends in philosophy, romantic historiography, the “historical school of law”, etc., which proclaimed the eternal and immutable character of the medieval social system and the privileges of the nobility. Pouring scorn on the political programme of the Adelszeitung, Engels wrote: “The foreword teaches us that world history exists ... solely to prove that there must exist three estates: the nobility, which has to fight, the burghers — to think, and the peasants — to plough” (pp. 68-69). In this and other articles he attacked the feudal-monarchic institutions of Germany which had outlived their day, the bureaucracy and the censorship.

Engels’ revolutionary-democratic convictions were expressed still more clearly in his articles “Siegfried’s Native Town” (published in December 1840) and “Ernst Moritz Arndt” (published in January 1841). In these he calls for an all-out struggle against conservatism and philistinism, praises the urge to perform heroic exploits in the name of freedom, and protests against the suppression of “every free movement” (p. 136). Condemning the antipathy to the democratic principles of the French Revolution which was kept alive and encouraged by the German nobility, he proclaims a programme of democratic reform in Germany, including such demands as elimination of the vestiges of feudalism, liquidation of absolutism together with the social estates, introduction of trial by jury and formation of a united democratic state. He declares that “so long as our Fatherland remains split we shall be politically null, and public life, developed constitutionalism, freedom of the press, and all else that we demand will be mere pious wishes always only half-fulfilled” (p. 150).

In the article “Ernst Moritz Arndt”, Engels praises Arndt’s generation of German patriots for their role in the liberation struggle against Napoleon, while pointing out the national limitations inherent in their ideas. He castigates the German nobility’s reactionary Teutomania and arrogant attitudes towards. ot)ler nations, while at the same time rejecting the abstract cosmopolitanism and nihilism on the national question to be found among many representatives of the liberal bourgeoisie. But while criticising nationalist ideology in many of its aspects Engels had yet to dissociate himself completely from all the nationalist tendencies to be found in the work of such writers as Arndt. He echoed Arndt’s ideas about the return of Alsace and Lorraine to Germany and the “Germanisation of a disloyal Holland and of Belgium” (p. 149). But the main aspect of Engels’ article was not the re-echoing of Arndt’s demands, which he very soon came to regard as unwarranted, but his opposition to national prejudices, his stand for the idea of the equal-rights of nations, and his strongly voiced conviction that every nation deserves respect and makes its own specific contribution to world civilisation.

While still contributing to Gutzkow’s journal, Engels also wrote articles for a number of other German periodicals. His article “Modern Literary Life”, published in the Mitternachtzeitung (March-May 1840), shows his increasingly critical attitude to the adherents of the Young Germany movement. He draws attention to their inconsistency and irresolution, their incapacity for energetic action, their lack of ideological unity, and their unprincipled literary wrangling. By this time, Engels was clearly aware that the Young Germany movement had retreated a long way from the political radicalism of its forerunner, Börne, and lacked a coherent outlook. In “Modern Literary Life” he stressed the need to integrate progressive philosophy with political activity, an idea he was later to elaborate in a number of other articles. He expressed his conviction that essential in the fight for freedom was “cooperation between science and life”, between philosophy and the modem political trends, between Hegel and Börne (pp. 50-51).

Of particular interest in this volume are Engels’ reports in the newspaper Morgenblatt für gebildete Leser, which give a picture of the political, religious and cultural life of Bremen, where Engels worked in the office of a trading company between July 1838 and March 1841. “An Outing to Bremerhaven” (written in July 1840 but published in August 1841) reflects his sensitive awareness of social problems, and in particular his search for the cause of the working people’s underprivileged status, desperate poverty and lack of rights.

In the autumn of 1841 Engels went to Berlin for his military service. For a year he underwent military training in a brigade of the Guards’ Artillery and in his spare time attended lectures and seminars at Berlin University as a non-matriculated student. Finding himself at the centre of a fierce controversy between the various philosophical schools, he made contact with the Berlin group of Young Hegelians, who had formed a study circle which went by the name of “The Free”, and took a most active part in their fervent battle of ideas. At this stage his philosophical and political convictions had assumed an even more radical and consistently revolutionary-democratic character.

An important element of Engels’ writings in this period is his spirited defence of the philosophy of Hegel and the Young Hegelians from attacks by adherents of religious and conservative principles, and in particular by Schelling. Schelling, an old man by then, had veered to the right and lately been invited by the king of Prussia to Berlin University so as to root out the “dreadful dragon of Hegelianism” (p. 192). After regularly attending the lectures given by this prophet of irrationalism Engels dashed off a series of critical studies — Schelling on Hegel, Schelling and Revelation and Schelling, Philosopher in Christ — showing the reactionary, mystical character of Schelling’s latter-day ideas and the absurdity of his attempts to discredit Hegel, whom at one time he had praised. Engels still shares the Hegelian belief in the Weltgeist as the moving force behind historical development, but he is more clearly aware of the need to reject the conservative elements in Hegel’s thinking and go beyond “the limits within which Hegel himself had confined the powerful, youthfully impetuous flood of conclusions from his teaching” (p. 196). Engels gave a revolutionary meaning to Hegel’s doctrine of the omnipotence of thought and the triumph of reason and truth, which he saw as the triumph of democracy.

The pamphlet Schelling and Revelation bears obvious traces of the influence of Feuerbach’s Wesen des Chistenthums which Engels read in the second half of 1841. Following in Feuerbach’s footsteps while not as yet realising the essentially materialist character of his criticism of religion, Engels here takes his first step towards a materialist view of consciousness, and of the relation between reason (spirit) and nature. The pamphlet also testifies to a considerable advance in the evolution of Engels’ atheism. Feuerbach’s book, together with various works by Bruno Bauer on the history of early Christianity, helped Engels to shed the influence of religion.

An interesting work by Engels to be found in this volume is the satirical poem entitled The Insolently Threatened Yet Miraculously Rescued Bible written together with Edgar Bauer in June-July 1842. It is a sharp attack in Young Hegelian style on religious obscurantism and fanaticism. At the same time Engels is aware of the inconsistencies and the patchwork character of the Young Hegelian trend. He is pointedly ironical about the contradiction between the revolutionary talk of many members of “The Free” and their incapacity for practical action, which was already becoming evident by that time. Making no secret of where his own sympathies lie Engels names the most radical thinkers and writers of contemporary Germany, among whom he ranked Marx. Even before the two men met, Engels paints a dynamic and vivid portrait of Marx as an impassioned and indefatigable champion of the revolutionary cause.

A swarthy chap of Trier, a marked monstrosity.
He neither hops nor skips, but moves in leaps and bounds,
Raving aloud. As if to seize and then pull down
To Earth the spacious tent of Heaven up on high (p. 336).

Engels’ work on the opposition newspaper Rheinische Zeitung, from April 1842, marked the beginning of a new stage in his political and intellectual development. Marx, who also contributed to this paper, became one of its editors in the autumn of 1842. Between April and December 1842, Engels published seventeen articles and sketches in the Rheinische Zeitung (including “Diary of a Guest Student”, “Rhenish Festivals”, “Polemic Against Leo”, “On the Critique of the Prussian Press Laws”) in which he advocated radical social reform, freedom of speech and the press, and criticised conservative ideology and the timidity of the liberals. Engels’ articles for the Rheinische Zeitung contributed to setting the paper’s revolutionary-democratic tone, which it acquired under Marx’s editorship.

It was at this time that Engels made a clean break with the Young Germany movement. His review of Glossen und Randzeichnungen zu Texten am unserer Zeit, published in the Rheinische Zeitung, condemned the eclecticism and political spinelessness of its spokesmen who, to use his words, “have sunk into lethargy” (p. 280). Engels treated the ideas and political attitudes of this movement with still harsher criticism in his review of Alexander Jung’s book Vorlesungen über die moderne Literatur der Deutschen, published in the July issues’ of the Young Hegelian journal, Deutsche Jahrbücher. In this review Engels champions a committed literature and hurls passionate invective at the philosophy of “the golden mean”, which sought artificially to reconcile opposites.

In the columns of the Rheinische Zeitung, in particular in articles such as “North- and South-German Liberalism” and “Centralisation and Freedom”, Engels openly opposes bourgeois liberal ideology and treats the conciliatory stand of the Young Germany movement as merely one of its manifestations. Engels’ attitude to the liberal opposition was a genuinely dialectical one, a far cry from the nihilist attitude of “The Free”, who prided themselves on their show of radicalism. He recognised, given the conditions of that particular period, the progressive nature of the criticism directed by opposition spokesmen at the reactionary order in the German states. Yet he was aware that liberal moderation and inconsistency were serious obstacles to revolutionary initiative and efforts to arouse the people’s revolutionary energy.

The article “Centralisation and Freedom” shows that by the autumn of 1842 Engels was convinced of the limitations of liberalism and of its increasingly anti-popular tendencies in Germany and all over Europe. As a revolutionary democrat, he condemns the idealisation of the July monarchy in France and the Guizot régime, which was openly violating “the principles of popular sovereignty, of a free press of an independent jury, of parliamentary government” (p. 355) With deep historical insight he grasped the connection between bureaucratic centralisation and the absolutist state, going on to observe how the bourgeois régime of the July monarchy represented a direct continuation of the old absolutist order.

While attacking bourgeois liberalism, Engels continued his onslaught against the absolute monarchy, against the Prussian state and the ideologists of the “Christian German state”. This is clearly expressed in his article, “Frederick William IV, King of Prussia”, written in the autumn of 1842. which predicts inevitable revolutionary upheavals in Germany like those in France at the end of the eighteenth century. The censorship forbade the article being printed in Germany and it appeared in a collection published in Switzerland.

The first section of this volume closes with reports specially sent to the Rheinische Zeitung from England, where Engels went at the end of November 1842. His experiences in England, then the bastion of the capitalist world, were to play a decisive role in the development of his materialist ideas and his full turn to communism. These reports were written during his first few weeks in England and clearly indicate the subsequent direction of his ideas. He had been closely following the progress of the socialist and communist movements for some time, and was coming round to the view that communism alone could solve the social question. His acquaintance with economic and social conditions in England and with the English labour movement did much to confirm this opinion.

In the reports entitled “The Internal Crises”, “The English View of the Internal Crises”, “The Position of the Political Parties”, “The Condition of the Working Class in England” and “The Corn Laws”, Engels describes the mounting economic and political struggle in England, which he understood as rooted in the incompatibility of interests of the various classes. He describes with evident sympathy the English workers’ resistance to capitalist exploitation, in particular the activities of the Chartists. There was no doubt in his mind that the English working class was destined to play a crucial role in the coming social revolution: all that it needed to put an end to the domination of the propertied classes was to become aware of its real strength and to organise its ranks. Engels had still to overcome completely the contradictory aspects of his former outlook, with its Hegelian attribution of the dominant role in history to ideas rather than material interests. Yet he could not be blind to the fact that in an industrially developed country like England: “it will be interests and not principles that will begin and carry through the revolution; ... the revolution will be social, not political” (p. 374).

The second section of this volume contains Engels’ letters to his school friends Wilhelm and Friedrich Graeber, his sister Marie, his brother Hermann, the writer Levin Schücking and the journalist Arnold Ruge. They shed much light on the formation of his character, and show the wide range of his interests, his conviviality, his literary and artistic tastes and the workings of his rich and subtle mind.

Engels’ developing ideas in literature, philosophy, religion and politics emerge most clearly in his letters to the Graeber brothers, which reflect his gradual escape from religion. From the outset he conceived a violent dislike for pietism and the hypocritical orthodox forms of Christianity, and gradually came to doubt the very essence of Christian dogma. In his correspondence with the Graeber brothers, both clergymen, Engels conducted serious discussions on the authenticity of the Gospel legends and on the contradictions to be found in the Bible. Concentrated critical analysis, his searching study of the history of Christianity, his wide acquaintance with critical works on the Gospels, and his grasp of the Hegelian dialectic set Engels on a path which was to lead him to a scientific interpretation of religion and his subsequent elaboration of scientific atheism.

Engels’ letters dating from the years 1838 to 1842 give a clear idea of his literary interests, the extent of his reading, and his flair for subtle criticism. Originally Engels dreamed of the poet’s laurels and now and again quotes his own verses in his letters. Indeed, some of his poems made their way into print: they are often imitative in form, and it is the epigrams and satirical parodies which betray the greatest degree of originality. However, certain poems are set apart by their perceptive political and philosophical content, and their revolutionary implications. A good example is the ode on the anniversary of the July 1830 revolution in France which Engels sent to Friedrich Graeber in the summer of 1839 (pp. 463-64). It is a veritable hymn to revolution which the poet celebrates as a surge of vital energy among the popular masses, a truly popular festival.

Engels’ critical view of his own work made him realise that poetry was not his true vocation. This merely meant, however, that he turned with all the more energy to other forms of literary activity, to literary, social and political criticism. His letters bear witness to the intensity of his work in these fields. Engels’ original ideas, which subsequently found expression in his articles of literary criticism, were first expounded in his letters to the Graeber brothers before they appeared in print.

He was also to try his hand at translation, and rendered into German a poem, On the Invention of Printing (A la invencidn de la imprenta), by the Spanish poet M. J. Quintana. Even as a boy he had shown great interest in the study of foreign languages, for which, as his letters make clear, he had a phenomenal flair, and he was widely read in several languages. His letters to his school friends and the writer Levin Schücking show that what he looked for in literature was above all love of liberty and humanistic ideas. This explains his predilection for Shelley and his plans for publishing his own translations of the latter’s verse, which however, were never to materialise. He valued most in Shelley, whom he was always to admire, his praise of freedom and his furious protest at oppression. Engels used Shelley’s words “To-morrow comes!” as an epigraph to his poem An Evening, in which he expresses the conviction that the dark despair then reigning in Germany would give way to “Freedom’s day” (p. 107).

Engels often declares his political convictions more openly in his letters than in his literary writings, which were subject to censorship; he expounds them without concealing his hatred and contempt for despotism, the arbitrary rule of monarchs, the social arrogance of the aristocracy and the prosperous bourgeoisie, and the general atmosphere of political and intellectual bondage in his native land. Much of what Engels writes in his letters is permeated by a truly democratic spirit and reveals how, as he came to realise the transforming role of revolution in history, he began to advocate revolutionary methods for removing social and political barriers standing in the way of Germany’s advance and unification.

Engels had a tremendous zest for life, which shows itself abundantly in his letters. He took great interest in art and painting, travel and sport. He was something of a connoisseur of beer, wines and tobacco. He spent much of his leisure time riding, fencing, swimming and going for long walks. His letters to his favourite sister, Marie, also reveal his love of music: he was a keen concert-goer and opera-lover, and admired the works of Bach, Handel, Gluck, Mozart, Mendelssohn and above all Beethoven, and even attempted to write chorales himself. He was extremely sensitive to the grandeur and beauty of nature, and his landscape descriptions are often detailed and compelling (see “Landscapes”, “Wanderings in Lombardy”, etc.).

The two main sections of this volume are followed by a section of Early Literary Experiments, containing the poems Engels wrote in his schooldays and chapters of A Pirate Tale, written in 1837, in which for his heroes he turned to the Greek corsairs fighting against Turkish rule. This fragment and the poems shed some light on the very earliest formation of Engels’ literary tastes and social ideals.

The documents included in the appendices are also of biographical interest, and enable us to form some idea of the setting in which Engels spent his childhood and youth. This applies in particular to the letters from his father, one of which, addressed to Karl Snethlage (October 5, 1842), testifies to the strained relations which by then existed in the family, and to the pious and conservative father’s deep anxiety about his son’s free-thinking. To a large extent this accounted for the decision to send Engels to England, where it was hoped the eldest son would be cured of the malaise besetting German youth and return to the bosom of the Church. Engels’ father never imagined that in England Frederick would become a proletarian revolutionary and communist, to remain one till the end of his days.


This volume contains all the extant writings and letters of the young Engels, nearly all of which are here published in English for the first time. The supplementary material has not previously been published in English. Engels’ original drawings, musical notations, etc., are reproduced in the letters.

Letters written in a number of languages are printed in the original with a word-for-word translation in the footnotes. Words underlined by the author in the manuscripts are given in italics. Headings of articles and the dates and places of letters, provided by the editors, where the author’s own are missing, are given in square brackets. The asterisks indicate footnotes by the author; the editors’ footnotes are indicated by index letters, and reference notes by superior numbers.

This volume was compiled by Lev Golman and Vladimir Sazonov of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, who also prepared the preface and the greater part of the notes. Some notes, the name index, the index of quoted and mentioned literature and of periodicals, were prepared by Albina Gridchina. Yuri Vasin also assisted in the arrangement of the reference material.

All the articles, letters, etc., in this volume have been translated from the German, unless otherwise stated.

The prose was translated by jack Cohen, Clemens Dutt, Barbara Ruhemann and Christopher Upward, and edited by Frida Knight, Margaret Mynatt and Alick West (Lawrence & Wishart Ltd.), Kate Cook and Richard Dixon (Progress Publishers). The poems were translated by Alex Miller in consultation with Diana Miner and Victor Schnittke, except for The Single Combat of Eteocies and Polynices translated from Engels’ Greek composition by Robert Browning.

The volume was prepared for the press by the editors Lydia Belyakova, Yelena Chistyakova, Victor Schnittke and Lyudgarda Zubrilova, and the assistant-editor Tatyana Butkova, for Progress Publishers, and Irene Bach, scientific editor, for the Institute of Marxism-Leninism.

 


Reports from Bremen - Frederick Engels

Reports from Bremen by Frederick Engels

Works of Frederick Engels, 1840

Reports from Bremen


Written: in July 1840
First published: in Morgenblatt für gebildete Leser Nos. 181-182, July 30-31, 1840
Signed: F. 0.


Theatre. Publishing Festival

Morgenblatt für gebildete Leser No. 181, July 30, 1840

Bremen, July

As far as I know, no periodical of any note has a permanent correspondent in Bremen, and it could easily be concluded from this consensus gentium [universal opinion] that there is nothing to write about from here. But that is not the case; for have we not a theatre, which only recently had in succession Agnese Schebest, Caroline Bauer, Tichatscheck, and Mme Schröder-Devrient performing as visiting stars, and whose repertory could compete in quality with many other more famous theatres. Have not Gutzkow’s Richard Savage and Blum’s Schwärmerei nach der Mode already been shown here? The first of these two plays has by now been discussed to excess; I consider that a very recent review of it in the Hallische Jahrbücher, [85] if one leaves out the frequent hostile remarks, contains very much that is true and, in particular, hits on its basic mistake, namely, that the relationship between mother and child, as an unfree relationship, can never provide the basis for a drama. Perhaps Gutzkow was aware of this mistake beforehand, but he was right in not allowing that to prevent him from carrying out his plan; for if he wanted to break into the theatrical world with a single play he had to make some concessions to established theatrical routine, which he could always withdraw later if his plan was successful. He had to give his play an original foundation, even if this could not stand up to poetic criticism, and even if his scenes became melodramatic and effect-seeking. One can find fault with Richard Savage, one can condemn it, but one must also admit that by it Gutzkow proved his dramatic talent. — I would not say anything at all about Blum’s Schwärmerei nach der Mode had this play not been loudly hailed as “timely” in many journals. But there is absolutely nothing timely about it, neither in the characters, nor in the action, nor in the dialogue. It is true that Blum performed one service by having the courage to bring pietism on to the stage, but one cannot so easily dispose of this sprained foot of Christianity. One must at last stop looking for deception, greed or refined sensuality concealed behind pietism; real pietism decisively turns away from such exaggerations and extremes as were displayed in Königsberg, or such abuses as Stephan from Dresden indulged in. When Stephan with his unfortunate company came here to take ship for New Orleans, and no one had as yet the slightest moral suspicion of him, I myself saw how distrustfully the pietists here behaved towards him. Anyone who wants to write about this trend should try going to the “Quakers”, as they are called here, and see the love these people show towards one another, how quickly friendship is established between two complete strangers who know nothing more of each other than that they are both “believers”, with what assurance, consistency and determination they follow their path, and with what subtle psychological tact they are able to discover all their little faults, and I am convinced he would not write another Schwärmerei nach der Mode. Pietism is just as right in condemning this play as it is wrong in respect of the free thinking of our century. — Hence, too, the only notice of the play taken by the pietists here was to ask whether it contained “blasphemous speeches”.

The Gutenberg festival [86] has’ also been celebrated here, in the ultima Thule [An island lying at the extreme north of the habitable world, mentioned in ardent legends and in Virgil’s Georgics] of German culture, and indeed in a more gladdening way than in the other two Hanse towns. For several years past the printers had been putting by something from their wages each week to ensure a worthy celebration of the festival. Already at an early stage, a committee was set up, but here too difficulties were encountered from the state in holding the festival. Small cabals, mostly connected with particular personalities, developed, as is inevitable in such small states. For a while, nothing was heard of the whole affair, and it seemed that at most a “craftsmen’s gala” was being organised. Only on the eve of the festival did the interest become more general, the programme was issued, Professor Wilhelm Ernst Weber, well known for his excellent translations of the ancient classics and his commentaries on German poets, drew attention to the next day’s event by his speech in the big hall, and the merchants were undecided whether they ought not to grant their office workers a half-holiday next day. The festival day came; all ships on the Weser flew their flags, and at the lower end of the town were two ships, the mast-tops of which were connected by a long line of innumerable flags to form a huge arch of honour. On one of these ships was mounted the only available gun, which thundered throughout the day. The committee, together with all the assembled printers, marched in a solemn procession to the church and from there to the newly-built steamship Gutenberg which, with its snow-white, gilt-ornamented hull, is the finest steamer that ever sailed the Weser. For this, its inaugural journey, it was festively decorated with garlands and flags; the procession went on board, cruised with music and singing up the Weser as far as the bridge; there a halt was made, a choral was sung and one of the printers delivered a speech. While all the participants in the festival took part in a luncheon on board arranged by the ship’s owner, Herr Lange von Vegesack, the Gutenberg proceeded with a speed that did honour to its builder through the arch of flags to Lankenau, a pleasure resort below the town, thousands of people hailing it with shouts of “hurrah” from the bridge and the quayside. It was the festive procession and the Weser excursion that gave the celebration the character of a people’s festival, but even more so the distribution, at first restricted but later liberal, of tickets for an evening in a public garden which had been taken over and illuminated for the occasion. There the committee repaired after a banquet, and the festival concluded under the bright illuminations with music and the drinking of Haut-Sauternes, St. Julien an champagne.

Literature

Morgenblatt für gebildete Leser No. 182, July 31, 1840

Bremen, July

For the rest, life here is rather monotonous and small-townish; the haute volée, i.e., the families of patricians and monied aristocrats, are spending the summer on their landed estates; the middle-class ladies even in this fine period of the year cannot tear themselves away from their tea-parties, where cards are played and tongues wag; and the merchants day after day visit the museum, the stock exchange, or their club, to talk about coffee and tobacco prices and the state of the negotiations with the Customs Union [87]; few go to the theatre. — Interest in the current literature of the Fatherland as a whole is not to be found here; it is pretty generally held that Goethe and Schiller set the coping-stones of the arch of German literature, and that in any case the romantic writers served only as later ornamentations. People subscribe to a reading-club, partly because it is the fashion, partly because a siesta can be more comfortable with a periodical; but they are interested only in scandal and anything that the papers may say about Bremen. With many educated people this apathy may of course be due to lack of leisure, for here the merchant especially is always compelled to keep his business in mind, and any time he may have left over is taken up by the duties of etiquette towards his usually numerous relatives, visits, etc. On the other hand, there is a seclusive kind of literature here which has an ample circulation, partly through pamphlets, most of which are concerned with theological controversies, and partly through periodicals. The Bremer Zeitung, tactfully edited and with informative reports, used to en . a considerable reputation over a wide area, which however has decreased since its involuntary involvement in the political affairs of the neighbouring state. Its West-European articles are intelligently written, even if they are not definitely liberal-minded. A supplement to the newspaper, the Bremisches Conversationsblatt, tried to represent Bremen in current German literature and carried clever articles by Professor Weber and Dr. Stahr in Oldenburg; poems were supplied by Nicolaus Delius, a talented young philologist who could gradually achieve an honourable position also as a poet. But it proved difficult to recruit important outside contributors, and so the newspaper had to close down for lack of material. Another periodical, the Patriot, which endeavoured to serve as a worthier organ for the discussion of matters of local interest and at the same time to be more valuable from the aesthetic point of view than the small local newspapers, died because of the ambiguity of its position as neither a local newspaper nor an organ of belles lettres. The smaller local newspapers, — Which feed on scandals, feuds between actors, town gossip, and such like, can boast of a more tenacious existence. In particular, the [Bremisches] Unterhaltungsblatt, owing to its numerous contributors (almost every clerk in an office can boast of having written a few lines for the Unterhaltungsblatt), has achieved a singular degree of omniscience. If there is a nail sticking out of a seat in the theatre, if a pamphlet has not been ordered in the club, if a drunken cigar-maker has spent a night of merriment in the street, if a gutter has not been properly cleaned — the first to pay attention to it is the Unterhaltungsblatt. If a militia officer believes that his rank gives him the right to ride on the foot-path, he can be sure that the next issue of this newspaper will raise the question whether militia officers ought to be allowed to ride on the foot-paths. This excellent sheet could be called the providence of Bremen. Its chief contributor, however, is Crischan Tripsteert, the pseudonymous author of poems in Low German. It would be better for this dialect if it were abolished in accordance with Wienbarg’s demand rather than that it should have to let itself be misused by Crischan Tripsteert for his poems. The other local newspapers are of too low a level for even their names to be merely mentioned before the general public. Quite apart is the Bremer Kirchenbote, a pietistic-ascetic newspaper edited by three priests [Georg Gottfried Treviranus, Friedrich Ludwig Mallet, and F. A. Toel] to which Krummacher, the well-known writer of parables [Friedrich Adolf Krummacher], sometimes contributes. This newspaper is so zealous that the censorship is often compelled to intervene, although to be sure this only happens in extreme cases, since its tendency meets with approval in higher circles. It carries on a continual polemic against Hegel, the “father of modern pantheism”, and “his disciple, the ice-cold Strauss”, as well as against any rationalist who comes within ten miles. Next time I shall say something about Bremerhaven and social conditions in Bremen.

Marx/Engels Archive

Reports from Bremen - Frederick Engels

Reports from Bremen by Frederick Engels

Frederick Engels: Reports from Bremen

Rationalism and Pietism


Written: in September 1840
First published: in Morgenblatt für gebildete Leser Nos. 249-250, October 17/19, 1840
Signed: F. 0.


Morgenblatt für gebildete Leser No. 249, October 17, 1840

Bremen, September

At last once again a topic which extends beyond tea-party gossip, which so excites the entire public of our Free State that everyone takes sides either for or against, and which gives food for thought even to the more serious-minded. The thunderstorm in the sky of our age has struck even in Bremen, the fight for a freer or narrower conception of Christianity has been kindled even here, in the capital of North-German fundamentalism; the voices which were recently raised in Hamburg, Kassel and Magdeburg have found an echo in Bremen. — Briefly, the course of events was as follows: Pastor F. W. Krummacher, the Pope of the Wuppertal Calvinists, the St. Michael of the doctrine of predestination, visited his parents here and gave two sermons for his father [Friedrich Adolf Krummacher] in the Church of St. Ansgarius. The first sermon dealt with his favourite spectacle, the Last judgment, the second with an anathematising passage in the Epistle to the Galatians; both were written with the burning eloquence, the poetic, if not always well-chosen, splendour of imagery for which this richly talented pulpit speaker is famous; but both, particularly the last, flash with curses against those who think differently, as one might expect from such a harsh mystic. The pulpit became the presidential chair of a court of inquisition whence the eternal curse was hurled against all theological trends which the inquisitor did and did not know. Anyone who did not accept this crass mysticism as absolute Christianity was delivered up to the devil. And with a sophistry which emerged as strangely naive, Krummacher always managed to shelter behind the apostle Paul. “It is not I who is cursing, nay! Children, reflect, it is the apostle Paul who condemns you!” — The worst of it was that the apostle wrote in Greek and scholars have not yet been able to agree on the precise meaning of certain of his expressions. Among these dubious words is the anathema used in this passage, to which Krummacher, without more ado, ascribed the most extreme meaning of a sentence of eternal damnation. Pastor Paniel, the chief representative of rationalism in this pulpit, [94] had the misfortune to interpret this word in its milder sense, and in general to oppose Krummacher’s way of thinking; he therefore preached controversial sermons [K. F. W. Paniel, Drei Sonntagspredicten, mit Bezug auf eine besondere Veranlassung, am 12., 19. und 26. juli 1846 gehalten]. Whatever you may think of his views, his behaviour is irreproachable. Krummacher cannot deny that in composing his sermons he had in mind not only the rationalistic majority of the congregation, but Paniel in particular; he cannot deny that it is wrong for a guest preacher to try to prejudice a congregation against its appointed pastors; he must admit that a coarse wood needs a coarse wedge. What was the point of all the invective against Voltaire and Rousseau, whom even the worst rationalist in Bremen fears like the devil, or of all the curses against speculative theology, which, with two or three exceptions, his entire audience was as incapable of judging as he himself, what was the point of this except to disguise the very definite, even personal, tendentiousness of the sermons? — Paniel’s controversial sermons were certainly preached in the spirit of Paulus’ rationalism and, in spite of the lauded care in their arrangement and their rhetorical pathos, they suffer from all its weaknesses. It is all vague and verbose; where the poetic impulse is set in motion, it is like the working of a spinning-machine, and the treatment of the text like a homoeopathic brew; Krummacher has more originality in three sentences than his opponent in three sermons. — An hour from Bremen lives a pietistic country pastor [Johann Nikolaus Tiele] who is so superior to his peasants that he has begun to think himself a great theologian and linguist. He issued a tract against Paniel in which he brought into play the entire apparatus of a philological theologian of the last century. The scientific pretensions of the worthy country pastor were punctured most painfully in an anonymous paper. With as much spirit as learning the anonymous author [Wilhelm Ernst Weber], believed to be a deserving learned inhabitant of our town who has several times been mentioned in my previous report,’ has demonstrated to the clever “God’s word from the country” all the absurdities which he had extracted with great trouble from long antiquated handbooks. Krummacher issued a Theologische Replik to Paniel’s controversial sermons, in which he made an unconcealed attack on his whole personality, and, moreover, in a manner which nullified the charge of slander brought against his adversary. Though the reply takes skilful advantage of the weaknesses of rationalism, particularly those of his adversary, Krummacher acts clumsily in trying to demolish Paniel’s interpretation. The most capable work written from the pietistic standpoint in this controversy was the pamphlet by Pastor Schlichthorst, who lives nearby, in which rationalism, and that of Pastor Paniel in particular, was quietly and dispassionately traced back to its basis, Kantian philosophy, and the question was posed: Why are you not honest enough to admit that the foundation of your faith is not the Bible but its interpretation according to Kantian philosophy as expounded by Paulus? — A new paper by Paniel [K. F. W. Paniel, Unverholene Beurtheitung.] is expected to come from the press some time soon. Whatever it may prove to contain, he has stirred the old leaven, he has brought the Bremen people, who believed in everything but themselves, to their senses, and pietism, which till now has considered the fact that its adversaries were split among themselves into so many parties to be a gift from God, will now have to learn for once that we all stand united when it is a question of fighting obscurantism.

Shipping Project. Theatre. Manoeuvres

Morgenblatt für gebildete Leser No. 250, October 19, 1840

Bremen, September

A plan is under consideration here which, if implemented, would be of the greatest consequence, and not only for Bremen. A respected young local merchant has recently returned from London where he informed himself exactly about the equipment of the steamer Archimedes which, as you know, has a newly invented method of propulsion by an Archimedean screw. He went on the ship’s trial run round the whole of Great Britain and Ireland, in which it greatly exceeded the speed of steamboats equipped in the usual way, and he is now planning to apply the new invention to a newly designed steamship which is to provide a fast and regular service between New York and Bremen. The empty ship, the so-called hull, will be built by our master shipbuilder at his own expense, while the cost of the machinery, etc., is to be raised by shares. Everybody senses the importance of such an enterprise; although some of our sailing vessels make the crossing from Baltimore to here in the inconceivably short time of twenty-five days, their speed always depends on the wind which can treble the duration of such a voyage, and a steamboat, which in case of a favourable wind is also equipped for sailing, would undoubtedly need only eleven to eighteen days from a port in the United States to Bremen. Once a beginning is made with a steam packet-boat service between Germany and the American continent, the new equipment is bound to be developed quickly and have the greatest consequences for the linking of the two countries. We will not have to wait long before we can reach New York from any part of Germany in a fortnight, see the sights of the United States in a fortnight, and be back home again in a fortnight. A couple of railways, a couple of steamships, and that’s that; since Kant eliminated the categories of space and time from the sensory impressions of the thinking mind, mankind has been striving with might and main to emancipate itself from these limitations materially too.

An unprecedented animation prevailed in our theatre recently. Usually our stage is quite outside society; the subscribers pay their contributions and go there now and again when they have nothing better to do. Then Seydelmann came, and actors and public were filled with a fervour to which we are not accustomed in Bremen. One may complain as much as one likes about the decay of the spoken drama through the domination of opera, even Schiller and Goethe may find empty houses, while everybody rushes to hear the tootling of a Donizetti and Mercadante; but as long as the spoken drama can still achieve such triumphs through its most capable representative, our stage can still be cured of its languor. Besides some plays by Kotzebue and Raupach, we have seen Seydelmann as Shylock, Mephistopheles and Philipp (Don Carlos). It would be like pouring water into the sea if I were to enlarge upon his well-known interpretation of these roles.

The recent manoeuvres of the Oldenburg-Hanseatic brigade conducted in the adjoining part of the Oldenburg region give us a picture in miniature of the camp at Heilbronn. During the sham fight for the capture of a village our troops are said to have behaved so courageously that the force of the cannon fire shattered all the window-panes. The people of Bremen are glad that they have a new amusement spot and go out in droves to watch the fun, while their sons and brothers move to the guard posts and spend the merriest nights of their lives there with wine and song.

 


Reports from Bremen: An Outing to Bremerhaven - Frederick Engels

Reports from Bremen by Frederick Engels

Frederick Engels: Reports from Bremen

An Outing to Bremerhaven [89]


Written: in July 1840
First published: in Morgenblatt für gebildete Leser Nos. 196-200, August 17-21, 1841


Morgenblatt für gebildete Leser No. 196, August 17, 1841

Bremen, July

The Roland was due to leave at six o'clock in the morning. I stood leaning against the wheel-house and looked for familiar faces in the throng of people pushing to get on board the steamer. For today a Sunday outing to Bremerhaven had been arranged, and at reduced prices, so everybody took the opportunity to get a little nearer to the sea and to look at some big ships. I thought it strange that the craze for profit, which otherwise continually serves the monied aristocracy, should here for once make some concessions to democracy. The price reduction made it possible for the more impecunious to join in, and in addition the distinction between first and second class had been eliminated, which means a great deal in Bremen where the “upper crust” shy at nothing so much as mixed company. So the steamer became very full. True Bremen burghers, who had never once left the territory of the free Hanseatic town [90] and now wanted to show their families the port, formed the core of the party; coopers, emigrants and journeymen were also there in large numbers; here and there a man from the stock exchange was standing apart from the crowd since he belonged to high society, and everywhere one saw the pawns who are always pushed forward on the chessboard of a trading city, the office clerks, who are again divided into agents, senior apprentices and juniors. The agent already regards himself as an important person; he is only one step from independence; he is the factotum of his firm, he knows the situation of his house inside out, he is familiar with the state of the market and the brokers crowd around him at the stock exchange. Nor does the senior apprentice think much less of himself; although he is not on the same footing with his master as the agent, he already knows very well how to deal with a broker and especially a cooper or boatman and in the absence of the master and the agent he displays the consciousness that he now represents the firm and that the credit of an entire house depends on his conduct. The junior, however, is an unfortunate creature; at most, he represents the merchant house to the worker who packs the goods, or the postman in whose area the office is situated. As well as having to copy out all the business letters and bills of exchange, deliver invoices and pay them, he must also be the universal messenger boy, take letters to the post, tie up parcels, mark crates, and fetch letters from the post. Every day at noon you can see the post-office crowded with these “juniors”, waiting for the mail from Hamburg. And worst of all, the junior must take the blame for whatever goes wrong in the office, for it is part of his calling to be the scapegoat for the entire office. These three classes also keep strictly separate in society: the juniors, who for the most part have not yet worn out their school boots, like to laugh loudly and make much ado about nothing; the senior apprentices zealously debate the latest big purchase made by a sugar merchant, and each one has his own conjectures about it; the agents smile at jokes which are not for publication and could tell you a thing or two about the ladies present.

Morgenblatt für gebildete Leser No. 197, August 18, 1841

Bremen, July

The steamer set off. Although the people of Bremen can see such a spectacle every day, Bremish curiosity had to make itself felt nevertheless in the enormous mass of people who watched our departure from every vantage point on the shore. — The weather was not too promising; for it was the same old metallic sky of which Homer tells, though the side turned towards us, which the eternal gods do not have polished every day, had a considerable coating of rust. More than once a drop of rain extinguished my cigar with a hiss. The dandies who had up to now carried their mackintoshes over the arm found they had to put them on, and the ladies opened their umbrellas. — Seen from the Weser, the view of Bremen as you leave it is very pretty; on the left the new town with its long “dyke” planted with trees, on the right the gardens on the earthwork which stretch down to the Weser here and are crowned with a colossal windmill. But then comes the Bremen desert, willow bushes right and left, marshy fields, potato patches and a mass of broccoli fields. Broccoli is the favourite dish of the people of Bremen.

A lanky assistant insurance broker stood on the wheel-house, in spite of the pouring rain and sharp wind, and conversed in Low German with the captain who was quietly drinking his coffee. Then he hurried below again to a company of second-class merchants to report to them on the important pronouncements of the captain. The agents and the senior apprentices almost fought to get near this respected personality, but he took no notice of them, for today he was only speaking to established houses. Now he hurried down from the wheel-house with the news: “In a quarter of an hour we'll be in Vegesack.” “Vegesack!” repeated all the hearers delightedly, for Vegesack is the oasis of the Bremen desert, in Vegesack there are mountains sixty foot high, and the people of Bremen even speak of the “Vegesack Switzerland”. Vegesack is indeed situated quite prettily, or, as one saw here, “nicely” or “sweetly”, which makes one think of the latest consignment of brown sugar from Havana sold so advantageously. The view of the place from the Weser is charming; before you reach it you see many ships’ hulls on the Weser, some worn out, others newly built here. The Lesum flows into the Weser here and its hills also form quite “nice” banks which are even considered to be romantic, or so the schoolmaster from Grohn, a village near Vegesack, assured me on his honour. Soon after Vegesack the sea of sand really tries to send up some decent waves and descends fairly steeply into the Weser. Here are the villas of the Bremen aristocracy whose gardens add greatly to the beauty of the Weser’s banks for a short distance. Then it becomes dull and boring again. — I went below and in a little side room of the saloon found a crowd of “senior apprentices”, who had hoisted all their sails to entertain three pretty tailor’s daughters fittingly; a crowd of “juniors” jostled each other at the door, listening eagerly to the talk of the senior apprentices; behind them stood the ladies’ garde d'honneur, an old friend of the family, growling in annoyance at their behaviour. The conversation bored me, so I went back on deck and stood on the wheel-house. Nothing is more enjoyable than to stand like this above a crowd of people, to watch the thronging and to hear the babel of words rising from below. The fresh breeze has greater freshness up here, and if the rain is also felt more freshly, it is at least better than the drops which a philistine shakes down your neck from his umbrella.

Morgenblatt für gebildete Leser No. 198, August 19, 1841

Bremen, July

At last, after various uninteresting Hanover and Oldenburg villages, came a pleasant change, the free port of Bracke, its houses and trees forming an effective background to the ships on the Weser. Quite large sea-going vessels come as far as this, and the Weser is impressively wide from here on downstream except where it is broken up by islands. — The steamer went on after a brief stop and an hour and a half later we had reached our goal, in about six hours’ sailing altogether. As the fort of Bremerhaven came into view a book-dealer of my acquaintance quoted Schiller, the insurance broker quoted the Shipping and Mercantile Gazette, and a merchant quoted the latest issue of the import list. With a splendid curve the steamer entered the Geest’ a little river which flows into the Weser near Bremerhaven. But in spite of the captain’s warnings, the passengers crowded too near the bow of the ship, and the water being at its lowest ebb, the Roland, the representative of Bremen’s independence, ran aground on the sand with a jolt. The passengers dispersed, the engines reversed, and the Roland managed to get off the sandbank.

Bremerhaven is a young town. In 1827 Bremen bought a narrow strip of land from Hanover and had the port built there at enormous cost. Gradually an entire Bremen colony moved into it, and the population is still growing. Hence, everything here is Bremish, from the style of the buildings to the Low German language of the inhabitants, and the Bremen people of the old sort, who were perhaps irritated by the extraordinary tax levied to buy the strip of land, can now hardly conceal their pleasure when they see how beautiful, how practical, how Bremish everything is. — You get the best view of the whole straight from the steamer jet y. A beautiful, broad quay with the colossal port building in the middle standing out in unsuccessful antique style; the whole length of the port, with all its ships; on the left and beyond it the little fort which is occupied by Hanoverian soldiers, while its brick walls show only too clearly that it is there only pro forma. It is thus quite consistent that no one is allowed inside, although such permission is easily obtained for any Prussian fortress. — We walked along the quay in the rain. Now and then a side street offered a view into the centre of the town; everything is rectangular, the streets straight as a ruler, and the houses often still in the process of building. Only this modern layout of the place forms a contrast to Bremen. With the bad weather and church services not yet over, the streets were as quiet as in Bremen.

Morgenblatt für gebildete Leser No. 199, August 20, 1841

Bremen, July

I went on board a big frigate the deck of which was full of emigrants who stood watching the “yawl” being hauled up. A yawl here is any boat which has a keel and is therefore suitable for service at sea. The people were still cheerful; they had not yet trodden the last clod of their native soil. But I have seen how deeply it affects them when they really leave German soil forever, when the ship, with all its passengers on board, slowly moves from the quay into the roadstead and thence sails into the open sea. They are almost all true German faces, without falseness, with strong arms, and you need only be among them for a moment and see the cordiality with which they greet each other to realise that it is certainly not the worst elements who leave their Fatherland to settle in the land of dollars and virgin forests. The saying: stay at home and feed yourself honestly [Cf. Psalms 37:3] seems to be made for the Germans, but this is not so; people who want to feed themselves honestly go, very often at least, to America. And it is by no means always lack of food, much less greed, which drives these people into distant lands; it is the German peasant’s uncertain position between serfdom and independence, it is the inherited bondage and the rules and regulations of the patrimonial courts [91] which make his food taste sour and disturb his sleep until he decides to leave his Fatherland.

The people going over on this ship were Saxons. We went below to take a look at the inside of the ship. The saloon was most elegantly and comfortably appointed; a little square room, everything elegant, mahogany inlaid with gold, as in an aristocratic drawing-room. In front of the saloon were the berths for the passengers in small, nice little cabins; from an open door by the side we got a whiff of ham from the larder. We had to go on deck again to reach the steerage by another companion-way: “But it’s terrible down there”, [Schiller, Der Taucher] all my companions quoted when we got back. Down there lay the dregs who had not enough money to spend ninety talers on the cabin class fare, the people to whom nobody raises a hat, whose manners some here call common, others uneducated, a plebs which owns nothing, but which is the best any king can have in his realm and which alone upholds the German principle, particularly in America. It is the Germans in the cities who have taught the Americans their deplorable contempt for our nation. The German merchant makes it a point o honour to discard his Germanness and become a complete Yankee ape. This hybrid creature is happy if the German in him is no longer noticed, he speaks English even to his compatriots, and when he returns to Germany he acts the Yankee more than ever. English is often heard in the streets of Bremen, but it would be a great mistake to take every English speaker for a Britisher or a Yankee. The latter always speak German when they come to Germany in order to learn our difficult language; but these English speakers are invariably Germans who have been to America. It is the German peasant alone, perhaps also the craftsman in the coastal towns, who adheres with iron firmness to his national customs and language, who, separated from the Yankees by the virgin forests. the Allegheny mountains and the great rivers, is building a new, free Germany in the middle of the United States; in Kentucky, Ohio and in Western Pennsylvania only the towns are English, while everybody in the countryside speaks German. And in his new Fatherland the German has learnt new virtues without losing the old ones. The German corporative spirit has developed into one of political, free association; it presses the government daily to introduce German as the language of the courts in the German counties,’ it creates German newspapers one after another, which are all devoted to the calm, level-headed endeavour to develop existing elements of freedom, and, as the best proof of its strength, it has caused the “Native Americans"’ party to be founded which has spread through all the states and aims to hinder immigration and to make it difficult for the immigrant to acquire citizenship. [92]

“But it’s terrible down there.” All round the steerage runs a row of berths, several close together and even one above the other. An oppressive air reigns here, where men, women and children are packed next to one another like paving stones in the street, the sick next to the healthy, all together. Every moment one stumbles over a heap of clothes, household goods, etc; here little children are crying, there a head is raised from a berth. It is a sad sight; and what must it be like when a prolonged storm throws everything into confusion and drives the waves across the deck, so that the hatch, which alone admits fresh air, cannot be opened! And yet, the arrangements on the Bremen ships are the most humane. Everybody knows what it is like for the majority who travel via Le Havre. Afterwards we visited another, an American, ship; they were cooking, and when a German woman standing nearby saw the bad food and even worse preparation she said weeping bitterly that if she had known this before she would rather have stayed at home.

Morgenblatt für gebildete Leser No. 200, August 21, 1841]

Bremen, July

We went back to the inn. The prima donna of our theatre sat there in a corner with her husband, its ultimo uomo, and with several other actors; the rest of the company was very dull, and so I reached for some printed matter that lay on the table, of which an annual report on Bremen trade was the most interesting. I took it and read the following passages:

“Coffee in demand in summer and autumn, until slacker conditions set in towards winter. Sugar enjoyed a steady sale, but the actual idea for this only came with rising supplies.”

What is a poor man of letters to say when he sees how the manner of expression not only of modern belies-lettres but of philosophy is infecting the style of the broker! Conditions and ideas in a trade report — who would have expected that! I turned the page and found the description:

“Superfine medium good ordinary real Domingo coffee.”

I asked the agent of one of the leading Bremen merchant shippers who happened to be present what this superfine designation might mean. He replied: “Look at this sample I have just taken from a consignment delivered to us; that description will fit it roughly.” Thus I learned that superfine medium good ordinary real Domingo coffee is a pale grey-green coffee from the island of Haiti, each pound of which has fifteen half-ounces of good beans, ten half-ounces of black beans and seven half-ounces of dust, small stones and other rubbish. I then let myself be initiated into several other mysteries of Hermes and in this way passed the time until midday, when we partook of a very indifferent meal and were called back to the steamer by the bell. The rain abated at last, and no sooner had the steamer “laid” the Geest than the clouds broke and the rays of the sun fell bright and warming on our still wet clothes. To everybody’s astonishment, however, the steamer did not go upstream, but down the roadstead where a proud three-master had just anchored. We had barely reached the middle of the current when the waves grew bigger and the steamer began to pitch noticeably. Who, if he has ever been to sea, does not feel his pulse quicken when he senses this sign of the proximity of the seal For a moment he believes he is again going out into the free, roaring sea, into the deep, clear green of the waves, right into the middle of that marvellous light which is created by the sun, azure and sea together; he involuntarily begins to find his sea-legs again. The ladies, however, were of a different opinion, looked at each other in fright and grew pale, while the steamer, “in a gallant style” a as the English say, described a semicircle around the newly arrived ship and picked up its captain. The assistant insurance broker was just explaining to some gentlemen, who had vainly endeavoured to find the ship’s name on the bow, that according to the number on its flag it was the Maria, Captain Ruyter, and that according to Lloyd’s list it had sailed from Trinidad de Cuba between such-and-such a date, when the captain came up the steamer’s companion-way. Our assistant insurance broker met him, shook his hand with the expression of a protector, asked how the voyage had been, what cargo he was carrying, and in general conducted a long discourse with him in Low German, while I listened to the flatteries which the book-dealer was lavishing on the half-naive, half-flirtatious tailor’s daughters.

The sun went down in full glory. A glowing ball, it hung in a net of clouds, the strands of which seemed already to have caught fire, so that one expected it to burn through the net at any moment and drop hissing into the river! But it sank calmly behind a group of trees which looked like Moses’ burning bush., Truly, both here and there God speaks with a loud voice! But the hoarse croaking of a member of the Bremen opposition tried to shout Him down; this clever man was straining hard to prove to his neighbour that it would have been much wiser to deepen the fairway of the Weser for larger ships instead of building Bremerhaven. Unfortunately, the opposition here is too often motivated by envy of the power of the patricians than by the consciousness that the aristocracy resists the rational state, and in this matter its representatives are so narrow-minded that talking to them about the affairs of Bremen is as difficult as to firm supporters of the Senate. [93] — Both parties convince one more and more that such small states as Bremen have outlived themselves and even in a mighty union of states would lead a life under pressure from without and phlegmatically senile within. — Now we were close to Bremen. The high spire of the Church of Ansgarius, with which our “church troubles” were connected, rose from moor and heath, and soon we reached the tall warehouses framing the right bank of the Weser.

 


Reports from Bremen: Literature - Frederick Engels

Reports from Bremen by Frederick Engels

Works of Frederick Engels, 1840

Reports from Bremen


Written: in July 1840
First published: in Morgenblatt für gebildete Leser Nos. 181-182, July 30-31, 1840
Signed: F. 0.


Theatre. Publishing Festival

Morgenblatt für gebildete Leser No. 181, July 30, 1840

Bremen, July

As far as I know, no periodical of any note has a permanent correspondent in Bremen, and it could easily be concluded from this consensus gentium [universal opinion] that there is nothing to write about from here. But that is not the case; for have we not a theatre, which only recently had in succession Agnese Schebest, Caroline Bauer, Tichatscheck, and Mme Schröder-Devrient performing as visiting stars, and whose repertory could compete in quality with many other more famous theatres. Have not Gutzkow’s Richard Savage and Blum’s Schwärmerei nach der Mode already been shown here? The first of these two plays has by now been discussed to excess; I consider that a very recent review of it in the Hallische Jahrbücher, [85] if one leaves out the frequent hostile remarks, contains very much that is true and, in particular, hits on its basic mistake, namely, that the relationship between mother and child, as an unfree relationship, can never provide the basis for a drama. Perhaps Gutzkow was aware of this mistake beforehand, but he was right in not allowing that to prevent him from carrying out his plan; for if he wanted to break into the theatrical world with a single play he had to make some concessions to established theatrical routine, which he could always withdraw later if his plan was successful. He had to give his play an original foundation, even if this could not stand up to poetic criticism, and even if his scenes became melodramatic and effect-seeking. One can find fault with Richard Savage, one can condemn it, but one must also admit that by it Gutzkow proved his dramatic talent. — I would not say anything at all about Blum’s Schwärmerei nach der Mode had this play not been loudly hailed as “timely” in many journals. But there is absolutely nothing timely about it, neither in the characters, nor in the action, nor in the dialogue. It is true that Blum performed one service by having the courage to bring pietism on to the stage, but one cannot so easily dispose of this sprained foot of Christianity. One must at last stop looking for deception, greed or refined sensuality concealed behind pietism; real pietism decisively turns away from such exaggerations and extremes as were displayed in Königsberg, or such abuses as Stephan from Dresden indulged in. When Stephan with his unfortunate company came here to take ship for New Orleans, and no one had as yet the slightest moral suspicion of him, I myself saw how distrustfully the pietists here behaved towards him. Anyone who wants to write about this trend should try going to the “Quakers”, as they are called here, and see the love these people show towards one another, how quickly friendship is established between two complete strangers who know nothing more of each other than that they are both “believers”, with what assurance, consistency and determination they follow their path, and with what subtle psychological tact they are able to discover all their little faults, and I am convinced he would not write another Schwärmerei nach der Mode. Pietism is just as right in condemning this play as it is wrong in respect of the free thinking of our century. — Hence, too, the only notice of the play taken by the pietists here was to ask whether it contained “blasphemous speeches”.

The Gutenberg festival [86] has’ also been celebrated here, in the ultima Thule [An island lying at the extreme north of the habitable world, mentioned in ardent legends and in Virgil’s Georgics] of German culture, and indeed in a more gladdening way than in the other two Hanse towns. For several years past the printers had been putting by something from their wages each week to ensure a worthy celebration of the festival. Already at an early stage, a committee was set up, but here too difficulties were encountered from the state in holding the festival. Small cabals, mostly connected with particular personalities, developed, as is inevitable in such small states. For a while, nothing was heard of the whole affair, and it seemed that at most a “craftsmen’s gala” was being organised. Only on the eve of the festival did the interest become more general, the programme was issued, Professor Wilhelm Ernst Weber, well known for his excellent translations of the ancient classics and his commentaries on German poets, drew attention to the next day’s event by his speech in the big hall, and the merchants were undecided whether they ought not to grant their office workers a half-holiday next day. The festival day came; all ships on the Weser flew their flags, and at the lower end of the town were two ships, the mast-tops of which were connected by a long line of innumerable flags to form a huge arch of honour. On one of these ships was mounted the only available gun, which thundered throughout the day. The committee, together with all the assembled printers, marched in a solemn procession to the church and from there to the newly-built steamship Gutenberg which, with its snow-white, gilt-ornamented hull, is the finest steamer that ever sailed the Weser. For this, its inaugural journey, it was festively decorated with garlands and flags; the procession went on board, cruised with music and singing up the Weser as far as the bridge; there a halt was made, a choral was sung and one of the printers delivered a speech. While all the participants in the festival took part in a luncheon on board arranged by the ship’s owner, Herr Lange von Vegesack, the Gutenberg proceeded with a speed that did honour to its builder through the arch of flags to Lankenau, a pleasure resort below the town, thousands of people hailing it with shouts of “hurrah” from the bridge and the quayside. It was the festive procession and the Weser excursion that gave the celebration the character of a people’s festival, but even more so the distribution, at first restricted but later liberal, of tickets for an evening in a public garden which had been taken over and illuminated for the occasion. There the committee repaired after a banquet, and the festival concluded under the bright illuminations with music and the drinking of Haut-Sauternes, St. Julien an champagne.

Literature

Morgenblatt für gebildete Leser No. 182, July 31, 1840

Bremen, July

For the rest, life here is rather monotonous and small-townish; the haute volée, i.e., the families of patricians and monied aristocrats, are spending the summer on their landed estates; the middle-class ladies even in this fine period of the year cannot tear themselves away from their tea-parties, where cards are played and tongues wag; and the merchants day after day visit the museum, the stock exchange, or their club, to talk about coffee and tobacco prices and the state of the negotiations with the Customs Union [87]; few go to the theatre. — Interest in the current literature of the Fatherland as a whole is not to be found here; it is pretty generally held that Goethe and Schiller set the coping-stones of the arch of German literature, and that in any case the romantic writers served only as later ornamentations. People subscribe to a reading-club, partly because it is the fashion, partly because a siesta can be more comfortable with a periodical; but they are interested only in scandal and anything that the papers may say about Bremen. With many educated people this apathy may of course be due to lack of leisure, for here the merchant especially is always compelled to keep his business in mind, and any time he may have left over is taken up by the duties of etiquette towards his usually numerous relatives, visits, etc. On the other hand, there is a seclusive kind of literature here which has an ample circulation, partly through pamphlets, most of which are concerned with theological controversies, and partly through periodicals. The Bremer Zeitung, tactfully edited and with informative reports, used to en . a considerable reputation over a wide area, which however has decreased since its involuntary involvement in the political affairs of the neighbouring state. Its West-European articles are intelligently written, even if they are not definitely liberal-minded. A supplement to the newspaper, the Bremisches Conversationsblatt, tried to represent Bremen in current German literature and carried clever articles by Professor Weber and Dr. Stahr in Oldenburg; poems were supplied by Nicolaus Delius, a talented young philologist who could gradually achieve an honourable position also as a poet. But it proved difficult to recruit important outside contributors, and so the newspaper had to close down for lack of material. Another periodical, the Patriot, which endeavoured to serve as a worthier organ for the discussion of matters of local interest and at the same time to be more valuable from the aesthetic point of view than the small local newspapers, died because of the ambiguity of its position as neither a local newspaper nor an organ of belles lettres. The smaller local newspapers, — Which feed on scandals, feuds between actors, town gossip, and such like, can boast of a more tenacious existence. In particular, the [Bremisches] Unterhaltungsblatt, owing to its numerous contributors (almost every clerk in an office can boast of having written a few lines for the Unterhaltungsblatt), has achieved a singular degree of omniscience. If there is a nail sticking out of a seat in the theatre, if a pamphlet has not been ordered in the club, if a drunken cigar-maker has spent a night of merriment in the street, if a gutter has not been properly cleaned — the first to pay attention to it is the Unterhaltungsblatt. If a militia officer believes that his rank gives him the right to ride on the foot-path, he can be sure that the next issue of this newspaper will raise the question whether militia officers ought to be allowed to ride on the foot-paths. This excellent sheet could be called the providence of Bremen. Its chief contributor, however, is Crischan Tripsteert, the pseudonymous author of poems in Low German. It would be better for this dialect if it were abolished in accordance with Wienbarg’s demand rather than that it should have to let itself be misused by Crischan Tripsteert for his poems. The other local newspapers are of too low a level for even their names to be merely mentioned before the general public. Quite apart is the Bremer Kirchenbote, a pietistic-ascetic newspaper edited by three priests [Georg Gottfried Treviranus, Friedrich Ludwig Mallet, and F. A. Toel] to which Krummacher, the well-known writer of parables [Friedrich Adolf Krummacher], sometimes contributes. This newspaper is so zealous that the censorship is often compelled to intervene, although to be sure this only happens in extreme cases, since its tendency meets with approval in higher circles. It carries on a continual polemic against Hegel, the “father of modern pantheism”, and “his disciple, the ice-cold Strauss”, as well as against any rationalist who comes within ten miles. Next time I shall say something about Bremerhaven and social conditions in Bremen.

 


Reports from Bremen: Theatre. Publishing Festival - Frederick Engels

Reports from Bremen by Frederick Engels

Works of Frederick Engels, 1840

Reports from Bremen


Written: in July 1840
First published: in Morgenblatt für gebildete Leser Nos. 181-182, July 30-31, 1840
Signed: F. 0.


Theatre. Publishing Festival

Morgenblatt für gebildete Leser No. 181, July 30, 1840

Bremen, July

As far as I know, no periodical of any note has a permanent correspondent in Bremen, and it could easily be concluded from this consensus gentium [universal opinion] that there is nothing to write about from here. But that is not the case; for have we not a theatre, which only recently had in succession Agnese Schebest, Caroline Bauer, Tichatscheck, and Mme Schröder-Devrient performing as visiting stars, and whose repertory could compete in quality with many other more famous theatres. Have not Gutzkow’s Richard Savage and Blum’s Schwärmerei nach der Mode already been shown here? The first of these two plays has by now been discussed to excess; I consider that a very recent review of it in the Hallische Jahrbücher, [85] if one leaves out the frequent hostile remarks, contains very much that is true and, in particular, hits on its basic mistake, namely, that the relationship between mother and child, as an unfree relationship, can never provide the basis for a drama. Perhaps Gutzkow was aware of this mistake beforehand, but he was right in not allowing that to prevent him from carrying out his plan; for if he wanted to break into the theatrical world with a single play he had to make some concessions to established theatrical routine, which he could always withdraw later if his plan was successful. He had to give his play an original foundation, even if this could not stand up to poetic criticism, and even if his scenes became melodramatic and effect-seeking. One can find fault with Richard Savage, one can condemn it, but one must also admit that by it Gutzkow proved his dramatic talent. — I would not say anything at all about Blum’s Schwärmerei nach der Mode had this play not been loudly hailed as “timely” in many journals. But there is absolutely nothing timely about it, neither in the characters, nor in the action, nor in the dialogue. It is true that Blum performed one service by having the courage to bring pietism on to the stage, but one cannot so easily dispose of this sprained foot of Christianity. One must at last stop looking for deception, greed or refined sensuality concealed behind pietism; real pietism decisively turns away from such exaggerations and extremes as were displayed in Königsberg, or such abuses as Stephan from Dresden indulged in. When Stephan with his unfortunate company came here to take ship for New Orleans, and no one had as yet the slightest moral suspicion of him, I myself saw how distrustfully the pietists here behaved towards him. Anyone who wants to write about this trend should try going to the “Quakers”, as they are called here, and see the love these people show towards one another, how quickly friendship is established between two complete strangers who know nothing more of each other than that they are both “believers”, with what assurance, consistency and determination they follow their path, and with what subtle psychological tact they are able to discover all their little faults, and I am convinced he would not write another Schwärmerei nach der Mode. Pietism is just as right in condemning this play as it is wrong in respect of the free thinking of our century. — Hence, too, the only notice of the play taken by the pietists here was to ask whether it contained “blasphemous speeches”.

The Gutenberg festival [86] has’ also been celebrated here, in the ultima Thule [An island lying at the extreme north of the habitable world, mentioned in ardent legends and in Virgil’s Georgics] of German culture, and indeed in a more gladdening way than in the other two Hanse towns. For several years past the printers had been putting by something from their wages each week to ensure a worthy celebration of the festival. Already at an early stage, a committee was set up, but here too difficulties were encountered from the state in holding the festival. Small cabals, mostly connected with particular personalities, developed, as is inevitable in such small states. For a while, nothing was heard of the whole affair, and it seemed that at most a “craftsmen’s gala” was being organised. Only on the eve of the festival did the interest become more general, the programme was issued, Professor Wilhelm Ernst Weber, well known for his excellent translations of the ancient classics and his commentaries on German poets, drew attention to the next day’s event by his speech in the big hall, and the merchants were undecided whether they ought not to grant their office workers a half-holiday next day. The festival day came; all ships on the Weser flew their flags, and at the lower end of the town were two ships, the mast-tops of which were connected by a long line of innumerable flags to form a huge arch of honour. On one of these ships was mounted the only available gun, which thundered throughout the day. The committee, together with all the assembled printers, marched in a solemn procession to the church and from there to the newly-built steamship Gutenberg which, with its snow-white, gilt-ornamented hull, is the finest steamer that ever sailed the Weser. For this, its inaugural journey, it was festively decorated with garlands and flags; the procession went on board, cruised with music and singing up the Weser as far as the bridge; there a halt was made, a choral was sung and one of the printers delivered a speech. While all the participants in the festival took part in a luncheon on board arranged by the ship’s owner, Herr Lange von Vegesack, the Gutenberg proceeded with a speed that did honour to its builder through the arch of flags to Lankenau, a pleasure resort below the town, thousands of people hailing it with shouts of “hurrah” from the bridge and the quayside. It was the festive procession and the Weser excursion that gave the celebration the character of a people’s festival, but even more so the distribution, at first restricted but later liberal, of tickets for an evening in a public garden which had been taken over and illuminated for the occasion. There the committee repaired after a banquet, and the festival concluded under the bright illuminations with music and the drinking of Haut-Sauternes, St. Julien an champagne.

Literature

Morgenblatt für gebildete Leser No. 182, July 31, 1840

Bremen, July

For the rest, life here is rather monotonous and small-townish; the haute volée, i.e., the families of patricians and monied aristocrats, are spending the summer on their landed estates; the middle-class ladies even in this fine period of the year cannot tear themselves away from their tea-parties, where cards are played and tongues wag; and the merchants day after day visit the museum, the stock exchange, or their club, to talk about coffee and tobacco prices and the state of the negotiations with the Customs Union [87]; few go to the theatre. — Interest in the current literature of the Fatherland as a whole is not to be found here; it is pretty generally held that Goethe and Schiller set the coping-stones of the arch of German literature, and that in any case the romantic writers served only as later ornamentations. People subscribe to a reading-club, partly because it is the fashion, partly because a siesta can be more comfortable with a periodical; but they are interested only in scandal and anything that the papers may say about Bremen. With many educated people this apathy may of course be due to lack of leisure, for here the merchant especially is always compelled to keep his business in mind, and any time he may have left over is taken up by the duties of etiquette towards his usually numerous relatives, visits, etc. On the other hand, there is a seclusive kind of literature here which has an ample circulation, partly through pamphlets, most of which are concerned with theological controversies, and partly through periodicals. The Bremer Zeitung, tactfully edited and with informative reports, used to en . a considerable reputation over a wide area, which however has decreased since its involuntary involvement in the political affairs of the neighbouring state. Its West-European articles are intelligently written, even if they are not definitely liberal-minded. A supplement to the newspaper, the Bremisches Conversationsblatt, tried to represent Bremen in current German literature and carried clever articles by Professor Weber and Dr. Stahr in Oldenburg; poems were supplied by Nicolaus Delius, a talented young philologist who could gradually achieve an honourable position also as a poet. But it proved difficult to recruit important outside contributors, and so the newspaper had to close down for lack of material. Another periodical, the Patriot, which endeavoured to serve as a worthier organ for the discussion of matters of local interest and at the same time to be more valuable from the aesthetic point of view than the small local newspapers, died because of the ambiguity of its position as neither a local newspaper nor an organ of belles lettres. The smaller local newspapers, — Which feed on scandals, feuds between actors, town gossip, and such like, can boast of a more tenacious existence. In particular, the [Bremisches] Unterhaltungsblatt, owing to its numerous contributors (almost every clerk in an office can boast of having written a few lines for the Unterhaltungsblatt), has achieved a singular degree of omniscience. If there is a nail sticking out of a seat in the theatre, if a pamphlet has not been ordered in the club, if a drunken cigar-maker has spent a night of merriment in the street, if a gutter has not been properly cleaned — the first to pay attention to it is the Unterhaltungsblatt. If a militia officer believes that his rank gives him the right to ride on the foot-path, he can be sure that the next issue of this newspaper will raise the question whether militia officers ought to be allowed to ride on the foot-paths. This excellent sheet could be called the providence of Bremen. Its chief contributor, however, is Crischan Tripsteert, the pseudonymous author of poems in Low German. It would be better for this dialect if it were abolished in accordance with Wienbarg’s demand rather than that it should have to let itself be misused by Crischan Tripsteert for his poems. The other local newspapers are of too low a level for even their names to be merely mentioned before the general public. Quite apart is the Bremer Kirchenbote, a pietistic-ascetic newspaper edited by three priests [Georg Gottfried Treviranus, Friedrich Ludwig Mallet, and F. A. Toel] to which Krummacher, the well-known writer of parables [Friedrich Adolf Krummacher], sometimes contributes. This newspaper is so zealous that the censorship is often compelled to intervene, although to be sure this only happens in extreme cases, since its tendency meets with approval in higher circles. It carries on a continual polemic against Hegel, the “father of modern pantheism”, and “his disciple, the ice-cold Strauss”, as well as against any rationalist who comes within ten miles. Next time I shall say something about Bremerhaven and social conditions in Bremen.

 


Requiem for the German Adelzeitung - Frederick Engels

Requiem for the German Adelszeitung by Frederick Engels

Works of Frederick Engels, 1840

Requiem for the German Adelszeitung [51]


Written: in January-April 1840
First published: in the Telegraph für Deutschland Nos. 59 and 60, April 1840
Signed: Friedrich Oswald


Telegraph für Deutschland No. 59, April 1840

Dies irae, dies illa
Saecla solvet in favilla.
[The day of anger, the day the world is reduced to ashes. — This and other Latin quotations are taken from the sequence on the Last judgment in the Roman Catholic Requiem mass]

The day that Luther produced the original text of the New Testament and with this Greek fire burnt to dust and ashes the centuries of the Middle Ages, with their lordly splendour and feudal servitude, with their poetry and lack of thought, [52] that day and the three centuries that followed brought forth, at long last, a time

“which belongs wholly to the public, a time of which Napoleon, whose rare perspicacity cannot be denied in spite of his many qualities that are reprehensible, particularly in German eyes, said: ‘Le journalisme est une puissance'” [journalism is a power].

I quote these words here merely to show how little medieval, i.e., lacking in thought, is the prospectus of the Adelszeitung from which they are taken. [53] And the German Adelszeitung was intended to set the crown on this public and give it consciousness. For it is clear that Gutenberg did not invent printing to assist a Börne, who was certainly a demagogue, or Hegel — who is indeed servile in front, as Heine proved, and revolutionary behind, as Schubarth proved [K. Schubarth, Ueber die Unvereinbarkeit der Hegelischen Staatslehre mit dem obersten Lebens — und Entwicketungsprinzip des Preussischen Staats] — or any other burgher to spread his confused ideas throughout the world, but for the one and only purpose of enabling the Adelszeitung to be founded. — Peace be with it, it has passed away! It took only a stealthy, timid look at this nasty, unmedieval world, and its pure, maidenly soul, or rather its gracious young lady’s soul, recoiled before the abomination of desolation, before the filth of the democratic canaille, before the horrifying arrogance of those who are not admitted to court, before all those lamentable circumstances, relations and disorders of our time which, if they show themselves at the gates of nobles’ castles, are welcomed with a riding-whip. Peace be with it, it has passed away; it sees no longer the hollowness of democracy, the undermining of what exists, the tears of the high- and noble-born, it has passed into eternal sleep.

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine! [Eternal rest give unto it, O Lord!]

And yet we have lost much by its death. What joy there was in all the salons to which only gentlemen with sixteen generations of ancestors are admitted, what delight in all the half-lost advance posts of orthodox aristocracy! There sat the old gracious papa in his inherited arm-chair, surrounded by his favourite hounds, in his right hand his inherited pipe, in his left hand his inherited riding-whip, and reverently studied the antediluvian genealogical tree in the first book of Moses, when the door opened and the prospectus of the Adelszeitung was brought in to him. The nobleman, seeing the word Adel [Nobility] printed in large letters, hastily adjusts his spectacles and blissfully reads through the sheet; he sees that the new newspaper also gives space to family news, and he rejoices at the thought of his obituary — how he would like to read it himself! — when one day he is gathered to his ancestors. — Then the young squires gallop into the castle yard; the old man hurriedly sends for them. Herr Theoderich “von der Neige”, [Neige means “decline"] with a lash from his whip, drives the horses into the stable, Herr Siegwart rides down a few flunkeys, treads on the cat’s tail and in knightly fashion pushes aside an old peasant who has come with a request and has been refused; Herr Giselher orders the servants on pain of corporal punishment to make impeccable arrangements for the hunt; and so at last the young barons noisily enter the hall. Barking, the dogs rush to meet them, but are driven under the table with lashes from riding-whips, and Herr Siegwart von der Neige, who had quietened his favourite hound with a kick of his gracious boot, does not receive from the delighted father even the usual angry glance because of it. Herr Theoderich, who besides the Bible and the family tree has read a few things in the encyclopaedia and therefore knows how to pronounce foreign words more correctly than the others, has to read the prospectus aloud, and the old man amid his tears of joy forgets about the redemption ordinance and the burdens of the nobility.

Telegraph für Deutschland No. 60, April 1840

How morally — modestly — condescendingly the gracious lady rode into the modern world on her white paper palfrey, how boldly her two knights looked out into the world — each of them every inch a baron, each drop of their blood the fruit of sixty-four nuptials between partners of equal rank, each glance a challenge! First of all, Herr von Alvensleben, who has pranced his knightly charger over the and waste of French novels and memoirs so that now he can venture also on a tilt against bourgeois louts. His shield bears the device: “A properly inherited right can never be a wrong”, and he cries out to the world in a loud voice: “It has been vouchsafed to the nobles in the past to earn distinction, now they are resting on their laurels or, in plain language, they have grown idle; the nobles have given powerful protection to the princes and thereby to the peoples also, and I shall take care that these great deeds are not forgotten, and my beloved, the Adelszeitung — requiescat in pace [May it rest in peace] — is the most beautiful lady in the world, and whoever denies it, he — “

But here the noble hero falls off his horse, and in his place Herr Friedrich, baron de la Motte Fouqué, jogs into the lists. The old “light-brown” Rosinante, whose horseshoes had fallen off from prolonged sojourn in the stable, this hippogriff, which had never been well fed even in its best days and long ago ceased to make romantic leaps among the warriors of the North, suddenly began to stamp on the ground. Herr von Fouqué forgot the annual poetic commentary for the Berliner politisches Wochenblatt, ordered his armour to be polished and the old blind horse brought out, and with the grandeur of a lone hero set out on a crusade against the ideas of the times. But so that the honour-loving burgher estate would not think that the bent lance of the old warrior was directed against it, Fouqué throws it a foreword. [54] Such condescending kindness deserves discussion.

The foreword teaches us that world history does not exist in order to realise the idea of freedom, as Hegel most erroneously supposes, but solely to prove that there must exist three estates: the nobility, which has to fight, the burghers — to think, and the peasants — to plough. But there should be no caste distinctions; the estates should replenish and renovate one another, not by misalliances, but by elevation to a higher estate. It is, of course, difficult to understand how the nobility, “a lake clear as spring water” which pure springs combined to produce, which gushed forth from the heights of robber castles, could be in any need of renovation. But the noble baron allows that people who have not been only burghers, but also “ostlers”, and perhaps even tailors’ journeymen, should renovate the nobility. But how other estates should be renovated by the nobility, Herr Fouqué does not say. Probably by persons who have been degraded from the ranks of the nobility, or perhaps — since Herr Fouqué is kind enough to confess that the nobility in itself is no better at bottom than the canaille — it will be as much an honour for a nobleman to be raised to the burgher estate, or even to the peasant estate, as it is for the burgher to obtain a nobleman’s patent? Furthermore, in the Herr Fouqué state, care is taken to ensure that philosophy does not get the upper hand too much., Kant with his ideas of eternal peace [55] would have gone to the stake there, for where eternal peace prevails the nobility could not fight, at best only apprentices would.

It is clear that on account of his thorough studies of history and statecraft Herr Fouqué deserves to be raised to the thinking, i.e., the burgher estate; he has managed excellently to detect among the Huns and Avars, among the Bashkirs and Mohicans, indeed even among ante-diluvians, not only an honourable public, but also a high nobility. Moreover, he has made a totally new discovery — that in the Middle Ages, when the peasant was a feudal serf, the peasant estate was the giver and recipient of love and kindness in respect of the other two estates. His language is incomparable, he lays about him with “dimensions penetrating to the very roots.” and “knows how to extract gold from phenomena that are in themselves (Hegel — Saul among the prophets) most obscure”.

Et lux perpetua luceat eis [And may perpetual light shine upon them ]

they are truly in need of it.

The defunct Adelszeitung has indeed had some splendid ideas, for example, the one about the landownership of the nobility, and a hundred more which it would be impossible to praise, but its happiest idea, however, was that in its very first issue, among the announcements, it immediately advertised a misalliance. Whether it was prepared with equal humanity to include Herr von Rothschild in the German nobility, it did not say. May God comfort the unfortunate parents and raise the deceased to heavenly baronial rank.

And let them sleep in peace
Until the judgment Day.

We, however, shall sing a requiem for it and pronounce a funeral oration, as is the duty of an honest burgher.

Tuba mirum spargens sonum
Per sepulcra regionum
Coget omnes ante thronum.
[The trumpet spreading wonderful sound over the graves of all regions summons all before the throne]

Do you not hear the trumpet, whose sound overturns the tombstones and makes the earth shake with joy so that the graves burst open? The Day of judgment has come, the day that will never be followed by another night'; the spirit, the eternal king, has ascended his throne and at his feet are gathered all the peoples of the earth to render account of their thoughts and deeds; new life pervades the whole world, so that the old family trees of the peoples joyfully wave their leafy branches in the morning air, shedding all their old foliage to be at the mercy of the wind, which blows them together into a large funeral pyre which God himself ignites with his lightning. judgment has been pronounced on the races of the earth, a judgment which ‘ the children of the past would like to defend as much as in a lawsuit over inheritance, but the eternal judge inexorably threatens them with his piercing glance; the talent which they did not put to use is taken from them and they are cast out into the darkness where no ray of the spirit refreshes. them.

 


Retrograde Signs of the Times - Frederick Engels

Retrograde Signs of the Times by Frederick Engels

Works of Frederick Engels, 1840

Retrograde Signs of the Times


Written: in November 1839 — January 1840
First published: in Telegraph für Deutschland Nos. 26- 28, February 1840
Signed: Friedrich Oswald


Telegraph für Deutschland No. 26, February 1840

There is nothing new under the sun! That is one of those happy pseudo-truths, which were destined to have a most brilliant career, which have passed from mouth to mouth in their triumphal procession round the globe, and after centuries are still often quoted as if they had only just made their appearance in the world. Genuine truths have rarely been so fortunate; they have had to struggle and suffer, they have been tortured and buried alive, and everyone has moulded them as he thought fit. There is nothing new under the sun! On the contrary, there is enough that is new, but it is suppressed if it does not belong to those pliant pseudo-truths which always have a loyal “that is to say, etc.” in their train and like a flash of the northern lights soon give way to night again. But if a new genuine truth rises on the horizon like the red morning sky, the children of night know full well that it threatens the downfall of their kingdom and they take up arms against it. For the northern lights the sky is always clear, whereas the, roseate dawn usually occurs in an overcast sky, the gloom of which it has to conquer or enkindle with its flames. And it is such doubts obscuring the roseate dawn of our time which we now intend to pass under review.

Or let us tackle the subject in another way! Attempts to depict the course of history in the form of a line are familiar.

“The form taken by history,” states an intelligent work written to oppose Hegel’s philosophy of history, “is not ascent and descent, not a concentric circle or a spiral, but an epic parallelism, sometimes converging” (this is what the word should be instead of “congruent”), “sometimes diverging."
[K. Gutzkow, Zur Philosophie der Geschichte, S. 53]

Yet I prefer a free hand-drawn spiral, the turns of which are not too precisely executed. History begins its course slowly from an invisible point, languidly making its turns around it, but its circles become ever larger, the flight becomes ever swifter and more lively, until at last history shoots like a flaming comet from star to star, often skimming its old paths, often intersecting them, and with every turn it approaches closer to infinity. — Who can foresee what the end will be? And at those points where history seems to be resuming an old path again, short-sighted people who see no farther than their noses rise up and joyfully cry out that it is just as they thought! And there we are: there is nothing new under the sun! So our heroes of Chinese stagnation, our mandarins of retrogression are jubilant and pretend to have cut three centuries out of the annals of the world as an inquisitive excursion into forbidden regions, as a delirious dream — and they fail to see that history only rushes onward by the most direct route to a new resplendent constellation of ideas, which with its sun-like magnitude will soon blind their feeble eyes.

It is at just such a point in history that we now stand. All the ideas which have been advanced since Charles the Great, all the tastes which successively supplanted one another through five centuries, want to assert their extinct rights once more at the present time. The feudalism of the Middle Ages and the absolutism of Louis XIV, the hierarchy of Rome and the pietism of the past century contend for the honour of driving free thought from the field! Permit me not to speak of these at greater length; for some thousand swords, all sharper than mine, immediately flash in opposition to anyone who bears one of these devices on his shield, and we surely know that they all disintegrate in conflict with one another and under the adamantine foot of the forward moving time. But corresponding to those colossal reactionary phenomena in the life of the church and state are less noticed tendencies in art and literature, an unconscious harking back to earlier centuries, which, it is true, are not a threat to the times but nevertheless are a danger to contemporary taste, and whose composition has curiously enough nowhere been comprehensively treated.

We do not need to go far afield to encounter these phenomena. Only go to visit a salon furnished in the modern style and you will see whose spiritual offspring are the figures that surround you. All the rococo abortions of the period of crassest absolutism have been conjured up in order to force the spirit of the movement into the forms in which the “l'état c'est moi” felt at ease. Our salons, with their chairs, tables, cupboards and sofas, are decorated in the style of the Renaissance, and all that is needed is to put a wig on Heine and squeeze Bettina [von Arnim] into a hooped petticoat, and the restoration of the siècle will be complete.

Telegraph für Deutschland No. 27, February 1840

Such a room is of course eminently suitable for reading a novel by Herr von Sternberg, with his remarkable preference for the Per d of Madame de Maintenon. People have forgiven Sternberg for this caprice of his mind, they have also looked carefully, but of course in vain, for deeper reasons for it; I venture to assert, however, that precisely this feature of Sternberg’s novels, which for the moment perhaps promotes their circulation, will be a considerable obstacle to their prolonged existence. Apart from the fact that a perpetual harping on a most arid and prosaic period, in comparison with whose eccentric nature, floundering between heaven and earth and conventional puppets, our time and its children are still natural, does not precisely enhance the beauty of a literary work — apart from this fact, we are certainly too accustomed to regarding this period in a mocking light for it to have a lasting appeal to us under any other illumination, and to find such a caprice in every one of Sternberg’s novels finally becomes extremely boring. This tendency of his cannot be regarded as more than a caprice, in my opinion at least, and therefore has no deeper reason; nevertheless I think I have found its starting point in the life of “good society”. Undoubtedly, Herr von Sternberg was brought up for this society; he learned to move in it with pleasure, and perhaps found his proper home in its circles. So no wonder he flirts with a period whose social forms were far more definite and polished, though more wooden and tasteless than those of the present day. Far more audaciously than in the case of Herr von Sternberg, the taste of the siecle is expressed in its mother city, Paris, where it makes a serious pretence of wresting from the romantic writers their barely won victory. Victor Hugo arrived, Alexandre Dumas arrived, and the herd of imitators with them; the unnaturalness of the Iphigenias and Athalias gave way to the unnaturalness of a Lucrezia Borgia; cramped rigidity was followed by a burning fever; the French classics were shown to have plagiarised the ancient writers — and then Demoiselle Rachel appears and all is forgotten: Hugo and Dumas, Lucrezia Borgia and the plagiarisms; Phèdre and le Cid walk the stage with measured tread and stylish Alexandrine lines; Achilles parades with his hints at the great Louis, and Ruy Blas and Mademoiselle de Belle Isle hardly venture to emerge from wings in order at once to find salvation in German translation factories and on the stage of German national theatres. It must be a blissful relief for a legitimist to be able to forget the revolution, Napoleon, and the great week, [44] by watching Racine’s plays; the glory of the ancien régime rises from the grave, the world is draped with high-warp tapestries, Louis, the absolute monarch, walks along the well-clipped avenues of Versailles in brocaded waistcoat and full-bottomed wig, and an all-powerful array of mistresses rules the happy court and unhappy France.

While in all this the reproduction of the past remains in France itself, it seems that a peculiarity of previous-century French literature is seeking to repeat itself in German literature of the present day. I mean the philosophical dilettantism displayed by several recent authors just as much as by the Encyclopaedists. The place occupied by materialism among the latter is beginning to be taken by Hegel among the former. Mundt was the first who — to use his own phraseology — introduced the Hegelian categories into literature; Kühne, as always, did not fail to follow him and wrote the Quarantäne im Irrenhause, and although the second volume of Charaktere [F. G. Kühne, Weibliche und männliche Charaktere], betrays a partial falling off from Hegel, the first volume contains enough passages in which he tries to translate Hegel into the modern idiom. Unfortunately, these translations must be numbered among those which cannot be understood without the original.

The analogy is undeniable; will the conclusion which the author who has already been referred to drew from the fate of philosophical dilettantism in the previous century — namely, that with the system the germ of death is introduced into literature — will this conclusion be confirmed also in the present century? Will the roots of a system that surpasses all its predecessors in its consistency be obstacles encumbering the field cultivated by poetic genius? Or are these phenomena merely a sign of the love that philosophy has for literature and the fruits of which are so brilliantly manifested in Hotho, Rötscher, Strauss, Rosenkranz and the Hallische Jahrbücher? In that case, of course, the point of view would be different, and we could hope for that co-operation between science and life, between philosophy and the modern trends, between Hegel and Börne, which a section of so-called Young Germany aimed earlier at promoting. Apart from these two conclusions, there remains only one way out, one which, to be sure, looks somewhat strange compared with either of them: namely, to assume that Hegel’s influence will be of no importance for belles-lettres. I think, however, that there are few who will be able to make up their minds to adopt this course.

Telegraph für Deutschland No. 28, February 1840

But we must go farther back than to the Encyclopaedists and Madame de Maintenon: Duller, Freiligrath and Beck claim to represent the Second Silesian School of the seventeenth century [45] in our literature. Is there anyone to whom Duller’s portrayals in Ketten und Kronen, Der Antichrist, Loyola, Kaiser und Papst, do not recall the heaven-storming pathos of the Asiatische Banise written of old by Ziegler von Kliphausen or Lohenstein’s Grossherzog Arminius sammt seiner durchlauchtigsten Thusnelda? Beck has even quite surpassed these good men in pomposity; some passages of his poems are almost regarded as nothing but products of the seventeenth century dipped in a tincture of modern world-weariness; and Freiligrath, who also at times is incapable of distinguishing between pomposity and poetic diction, makes the retrograde step to Hofmannswaldau complete by reviving the Alexandrine [Allusion to Freiligrath’s series of poems] and re-introducing coquetting with foreign words. It is to be hoped, however, that he will discard this along with his foreign subject-matter.

Withered the palm, blown off the desert sand.
The poet seeks the heart of his homeland,
A different man, and yet the same!
[F. Freiligrath. From the poem Freistuhl zu Dortmund]

And, certainly, if Freiligrath were not to do so, in a hundred years’ time his poems would be regarded as a herbarium or a sand-box and used, like Latin rules of prosody, for teaching natural history in schools. A man like Raupach could not count on any other kind of practical immortality for his iambic chronicles, but it is to be hoped that Freiligrath will provide us with poetic works fully worthy of the nineteenth century. — However, it is nice, is it not, that in our revivalist literature since the romantics we have already covered from the twelfth to the seventeenth century? In that case Gottsched, too, will not make us wait much longer for him.

I confess to being perplexed how to arrange these individual items from a single point of view. I confess to having lost the threads by which they are linked to the torrent of time which keeps rolling on. Perhaps they are not yet ripe for a survey to be made with assurance, and will yet increase in size and number. But it remains remarkable that this reaction is conspicuous in art and literature as also in life, that the complaints of ministerial newspapers re-echo from walls that seem to have belonged to the “l'état c'est moi”, and that corresponding to the shouting of the modern obscurantists, on the one hand, is the exaggerated obscurantism, on the other hand, of a part of recent German poetry.

 


Siegfried's Native Town - Frederick Engels

Siegfried's Native Town by Frederick Engels

Works of Frederick Engels, 1840

Siegfried’s Native Town


Written: in November 1840
First published: in Telegraph für Deutschland No. 197, December 1840
Signed: Friedrich Oswald


There lived in the Low Lands a rich king’s heir by right,
His father Siegmunt, his mother Siglint hight,
In a castle brave that everywhere was famed
Down by the Rhine, and Santen it was named.
Der Nibelunge Not, [I] 20

The Rhine should not be visited only above Cologne, and young Germans particularly should not imitate the travelling John Bull who sits bored in the saloon of the steamer from Rotterdam to Cologne and only comes up on deck here because it is the beginning of his panorama of the Rhine from Cologne to Mainz, or his Guide for Travellers on the Rhine a Young Germans should choose a seldom visited place for their pilgrimage — I am speaking of Xanten, the native town of the Horny Siegfried.

A Roman city, like Cologne, it remained small and outwardly insignificant during the Middle Ages, while Cologne grew big and gave its name to an electoral archbishopric. But Xanten Cathedral looking out in splendid perfection far across the prose of the Dutch sand flats, and Cologne’s more colossal cathedral remained a torso. but Xanten has Siegfried and Cologne only St. Anno, and what is the Song of Anno [95] compared to the Nibelungs!

I came there from the Rhine. I entered the town through a narrow, dilapidated gate; dirty, narrow alleys led me to the friendly market-place, and from there I approached a gate built into the wall which encircled the former monastery court with the church. Above the gate, right and left, below a pair of small turrets, were two bas-reliefs, unmistakably two Siegfrieds, easily distinguished from St. Victor, the patron-saint of the town, who is to be seen above every house door. The hero stands in a closely-fitting coat of mail, spear in hand, driving the spear into the dragon’s jaws in the image on the right, and trampling down the “strong dwarf” Alberich on the left. It struck me that these bas-reliefs are not mentioned in Wilhelm Grimm’s Deutsche Heldensage, where everything else relating to the subject is collected. Nor do I recall having read of them anywhere else, although they are among the most important pieces of evidence for the local connections of the legend in the Middle Ages.

I passed through the echoing Gothic vaulted gateway and stood before the church. Greek architecture is clear, gay consciousness; Moorish is mourning; Gothic is holy ecstasy; Greek architecture is bright, sunny day; Moorish is star-spangled dusk; Gothic is dawn. Here in front of this church I sensed as never before the power of the Gothic style. Not when it is seen among modern buildings, like Cologne Cathedral, still less when it is built round with houses clinging to it like swallows’ nests, as with the churches in the North-German towns, does a Gothic cathedral make its most powerful impression; only between wooded hills, like the Altenberg church in the Berg country, or at least separated from everything alien, modern, between monastery walls and old buildings, like Xanten Cathedral. Only there does one feel deeply what a century can accomplish when it throws itself with all its might into a single, great aim. And if Cologne Cathedral, in all its gigantic dimensions, stood free and open to the gaze from all sides, like the church of Xanten, truly the nineteenth century would have to die of shame that for all its super-cleverness it cannot complete this building. For we no longer know the religious deed and so we marvel at a Mrs. Fry, who would have been a most commonplace phenomenon in the Middle Ages.

I entered the church; high mass was just being celebrated. The notes of the organ thundered down from the choir, a jubilant throng of heart-storming warriors, and raced through the echoing nave until they died away in the farthest aisles of the church. You, too, son of the nineteenth century, let your heart be conquered by them — these sounds have enthralled stronger and wilder men than you! They drove the old German gods from their groves, the led the heroes of a great age across the stormy sea, through they desert, and their unconquered children to Jerusalem, they are the shadows of hot-blooded centuries which thirsted for action! But when the trumpets announce the miracle of the transubstantiation, when the priest raises the glittering monstrance and the whole consciousness of the congregation is intoxicated with the wine of devotion, rush out, save yourself, save your, reason from this ocean of feeling that surges through the church and pray outside to the God whose house is not made by human hands, who is the breath of the world and who wants to be worshipped in spirit and in truth.

I went away shaken and asked to be shown the way to an inn, the only one in the little town. When I entered the inn parlour I could feel that I must be close to Holland. A quaintly mixed exhibition of paintings and engravings on the wall, landscapes cut into the window-panes, goldfish, peacock feathers and the ribbed leaves of tropical plants in front of the mirror clearly showed the host’s pride in possessing things which others do not have. This passion for rarities which in decidedly bad taste surrounds itself with products of art and nature, be they beautiful or ugly, and which feels most at home in a room full to bursting with such absurdities, is the Dutchman’s besetting sin. But what a shudder seized me when the good man took me into his so-called picture-gallery! A small room, all the walls densely covered with paintings of little value, although he claimed that Schadow had declared one of the portraits, which was actually much prettier than the rest, to be a Hans Holbein. A few altar pieces by Jan van Calcar (from a neighbouring small town) had lively colouring and would be of interest to an expert. But as for the rest of the room’s decorations! Palm leaves, coral branches and the like protruded from every corner; there were stuffed lizards everywhere, a couple of figures made of coloured sea-shells, such as one finds frequently in Holland, stood on the stove; in a corner was a bust of the Cologne Wallraf, and beneath it hung, desiccated like a mummy, the dead body of a cat, with one forepaw treading right on the face of a painted Christ on the cross. If my reader should ever stray into this one hotel in Xanten, let him ask the obliging host about his beautiful ancient gem; he possesses an exquisite Diana cut in an opal, which is worth more than his entire collection of paintings.

In Xanten one should not miss seeing the collection of antiquities in the possession of Mr. Houben a solicitor. It includes almost everything that has been dug up or found at Castra vetera. [96] The collection is interesting, but it does not contain anything of particular artistic value, as is to be expected of a military station, which Castra vetera was. The few beautiful gems which were found here are dispersed all over the town; the one piece of sculpture of any considerable size is a sphinx, about three feet long, in the possession of the innkeeper already mentioned; it is made of ordinary sandstone, badly preserved, and was never particularly beautiful.

I went out of the town and up a sandy rise, the only natural elevation for miles around. This is the mountain on which, according to the legend, Siegfried’s castle stood. At the entrance to a pine grove I sat down and looked at the town below. Surrounded on all sides by earthworks, it lay as it were in a cauldron, only the church rising majestically over the brim. On the right the Rhine embracing a green island with broad, gleaming arms, on the left the hills of Cleves in the blue distance.

What is it about the le end of Siegfried that affects us so powerfully? Not the plot of the story itself, not the foul treason which brings about the death of the youthful hero; it is the deep significance which is expressed through his person. Siegfried is the representative of German youth. All of us, who still carry in our breast a heart unfettered by the restraints of life, know what that means. We all feel in ourselves the same zest for action, the same defiance of convention which drove Siegfried from his father’s castle; we loathe with all our soul continual reflection and the philistine fear of vigorous action; we want to get out into the free world; we want to overrun the barriers of prudence and fight for the crown of life, action. The philistines have supplied giants and dragons too, particularly in the sphere of church and state. But that age is no more; we are put in prisons called schools, where instead of striking out around us we are made with cruel irony to conjugate the verb “to strike” in Greek in all moods and tenses, and when we are released from that discipline we fall into the hands of the goddess of the century, the police. Police for thinking, police for speaking, police for walking, riding and driving, passports, residence permits, and customs documents — the devil strike these giants and dragons dead! They have left us only the semblance of action, the rapier instead of the sword; but what use is all the art of fencing with the rapier if we may not apply it with the sword? And when the barriers are finally broken down, when philistinism and indifference are trodden underfoot, when the urge to action is no longer checked — do you see the tower of Wesel there across the Rhine? The citadel of that town, which is called a stronghold of German freedom, has become. the grave of German youth, and has to lie right opposite the cradle of the greatest German youth! Who sat there in prisons Students who did not want to have learnt to fence to no purpose, vulgar duellists and demagogues. [97] Now, after the amnesty of Frederick William IV, we may be permitted to say that this amnesty was an act not only of mercy but of justice. Granted all the premises, and in particular the need for the state to take measures against the student fraternities, nevertheless, everyone who sees that the good of the state does not lie in blind obedience and strict subordination will surely agree with me that the treatment of the participants demanded that they should be rehabilitated in honour and dignity. Under the Restoration and after the July days [1830, France] the demagogic fraternities were as understandable as they are now impossible. Who then suppressed every free movement, who placed the beating of the youthful heart under “provisional” guardianship? And how were the unfortunates treated? Can it be denied that this legal case is perfectly calculated. to show in the clearest light all the disadvantages and errors of both public and secret judicature, to make manifest the contradiction that paid servants of the state, instead of independent jurors, try charges of offending against the state; can it be denied that all the sentencing was done summarily, “in bulk”, as merchants say?

But I want to go down to the Rhine and listen to what the waves gleaming in the sunset tell Siegfried’s mother earth about his grave in Worms and about the sunken hoard. Perhaps a friendly Morgan le Fay will make Siegfried’s castle rise again for me or show my mind’s eye what heroic deeds are reserved for his sons of the nineteenth century.

 


St. Helena - Frederick Engels

St. Helena by Frederick Engels

Works of Frederick Engels, 1840

St. Helena


Written: in November 1840
First published: in the Telegraph für Deutschland No. 191, November 1840
Signed: Friedrich Oswald


Fragment

You proud pile in the ocean’s solitude,
Grim rock-tomb of a heart as strong as stone
That here on self-made history came to brood
And in Promethean agony died alone —
Black-cowled, you loom above the ocean’s flood,
Of all his many burnt-out candles, one
That God, in need of more illumination,
Kindled to light the work of his creation.

Well might they send the Hero to this place,
Who at the hour of the century’s birth
Lit with his firebolts history’s darkling face
And with his thunder filled all ears on earth,
Until within the walls of cosmic space
The babe’s first cry was lost as it burst forth;
Then Time threw coldly down in cruel jest
Another burnt-out stump to join the rest.

 


The Bedouin - Frederick Engels

The Bedouin by Frederick Engels

The Bedouin [1]


Written: in the first half of September 1838
First published: in the Bremisches Conversationsblatt No. 40, Sept. 16, 1838;
Source: MECW Volume 2;
Transcribed: Andy Blunden;


Now the bell rings, and suddenly
The silken curtain swift ascends.
And all in hushed expectancy
Wait for the evening to commence.

No Kotzebue commands the scene
To set the merry audience roaring.
No Schiller of the earnest mien
Steps forth, his golden words outpouring.

Sons of the desert, proud and free,
Walk on to greet us, face to face;
But pride is vanished utterly,
And freedom lost without a trace.

They jump at money’s beck and call
(As once that lad from dune to dune
Bounded for joy). They're silent, all,
Save one who sings a dirge-like tune.

The audience, amazed and awed
By what these acrobats can do,
Applauds them, just as it applauds
The trumperies of Kotzebue.

Fleet nomads of the desert lands,
You've braved the sun’s fierce noontide rays
Through harsh Morocco’s burning sands,
Through valleys where the date-palms sway.

And through the garden paradise
Of Bled-el-Djerid once you swept.
You turned your wits to bold forays.
Your steeds to battle proudly stepped.

You sat there, where moon lustres spill
By rare springs in a palm-tree grove,
And lovely lips with gracious skill
A fairy-story garland wove.

Sleeping in narrow tents you lay
In love’s warm arms, with dreams all round,
Till sunrise ushered in the day
And camels made their bellowing sound.

They jump at money’s beck and call,
And not at Nature’s primal urge.
Their eyes are blank, they're silent, all,
Except for one who sings a dirge.

 


To The Bremen Courier - Frederick Engels

To The Bremen Courier by Frederick Engels

Works of Frederick Engels, 1839

To The Bremen Courier [25]


Written:about April 27, 1839
First published:in the Bremisches Unterhaltungsblatt No. 34, April 27, 1839


Dear Bremen Courier,

Please don’t be offended
If you've become the laughing-stock of town.
Remember, friend, that folk have always tended
To ridicule what’s patently unsound.
Your sunshine days have very nearly ended
In the three months that you've been trotting round.
Have you been saying things you didn’t ought,
To give yourself such food for afterthoughts

My poems cost little effort when I did them;
The donkey work was almost wholly done.
I took your articles and parodied them;
The subject-matter came from you alone.
Simply subtract the rhyme-schemes and the rhythm —
The image that remains is all your own.
Rage, if you like, at your respectful and
Obedient servant,

Theodor Hildebrand

 


To The Enemies - Frederick Engels

To The Enemies by Frederick Engels

Works of Frederick Engels, 1839

To The Enemies [2]


Written: about February 24, 1839
First published: in Der Bremer Stadtbote No. 4, February 24, 1839
Signed: Theodor H.


Why can you never leave what’s well alone
And let a little honest striving
Or well-meant words said in a kindly tone
Do their good work among the living?
To falsify what people really mean
Is very easy to arrange.
Bad in the good is all too quickly seen,
But good to bad you'll never change.

Or is it that you seriously expect
To gain advantages by making light
Of others’ efforts? If you want respect,
Then win respect in your own right.
Use your own brains then; if you would succeed
Prepare to make the upward climb;
Hanging behind those who are in the lead,
Belittling them, you waste your time.

Say, can you hope to do the courier wrong
For whom you lay your spiteful snares?
He carries news, so let him pass along
As on his lawful way he fares.
If truth he brings, truth shall indeed prevail,
Transcending perfidy and fraud.
The wise old saying hits it on the nail
"Honesty is its own reward.”

 


Two Sermons by F.W. Krummacher

Two Sermons by F. W. Krummacher by Frederick Engels

Works of Frederick Engels, 1840

Two Sermons by F. W. Krummacher


Written: in early September 1840
First published: in the Telegraph für Deutschland No. 149, September 1840


We have before us the two sermons which caused the otherwise so pious people of Bremen to prohibit the Elberfeld zealot, F. W. Krummacher, from further officiating by invitation in the Church of St. Ansgarius. If the ordinary sermon in which God is spoken of only as the Father of the World or the highest Being generally sounds very watery, the text of these orations by Krummacher is lye, caustic, even aqua regia. They will be read with interest if only because of the originality displayed in communicating thus with the congregation from the pulpit; they show that Krummacher is a zealot of intelligence, blessed with wit and imagination. Whether he speaks in this fiery language out of a real rock-like faith in Christianity may he doubted; we believe that Krummacher is no hypocrite but that he fixed on this manner of preaching merely because he liked it and cannot now abandon it, the less so because the ordinary tone of the evangelical whisperers on love and of the preachers for the ladies is very insipid. This much is certain, however, that Krummacher is badly mistaken about the significance of the pulpit if he raises it to a seat of the Inquisition. What can a congregation take home from such a sermon? Nothing but that spiritual pride which is so repellent in pietism. He who demands of his congregation nothing but faith, who merely reiterates this rigid commandment in synonyms and uses the rest of the sermon-lecture for current polemics, will spread much self-conceit, pride and orthodox obduracy, but little Christianity. Krummacher seems to be methodically carrying on this task of elevating Christian simplicity into pride. The statement that spirit, wit, imagination, poetic talent, art and science are all nothing before God is a cliché to him.

He says:

“There is more joy in heaven over a repentant sinner than over the birth of a poet."
[F. W. Krummacher, Paulus kein Mann nach dem Sinne unsrer Zeit. Predigt]

He paints such a picture of the importance which the poorest member of his congregation could have that the latter must inevitably fancy himself higher and wiser than Kant, Hegel, Strauss, etc., whom Krummacher constantly anathematises in his sermons. Is it not possible that at the root of Krummacher’s inmost being there is frustrated ambition, a longing for distinction? There are many minds which have striven for the highest, failed to achieve it by diligence, talent and hard work, and then hope to win the eternal crown by an unexampled virtuosity of faith. This and nothing else, one is inclined to believe, explains Krummacher’s constant polemic against everything famous in the world. — It is truly painful to find in these sermons so few softening elements, so little pathos, feeling, or true grief. The tone of love cannot come easily to such a rigid zealot. And yet there are passages which reconcile us to this man’s strange nature. How few sermons we have in which one can find such a beautiful passage as the following:

“Yes, friends, the world does not end where the storm howls on the sea’s distant shore, or where the sorrowing moon walks on high and the silent stars look down in sadness on the earth. Beyond, there is another, wider, brighter region. Oh, ‘tis better to be there than here. There roses are no longer carried to the grave; there love no longer fears separation; there no drop of gall remains in the cup of joy. That such a world exists is as true as that the Lord Jesus visibly (?) ascended into it."
[F. W. Krummacher, Das letzte Gericht. Gastpredigt]