TRANSLATED FROM THE FOURTH GERMAN EDITION
By MRS. GEORGE HORROCKS
WITH A SUPPLEMENTARY CHAPTER OF RECENT EVENTS
By EDGAR SALTUS
THE HISTORY OF GERMANY
THE RISE OF PRUSSIA
CCXLIV. Art and Fashion
Although art had, under French influence, become unnatural, bombastical, in fine, exactly contrary to every rule of good taste, the courts, vain of their collections of works of art, still emulated each other in the patronage of the artists of the day, whose creations, tasteless as they were, nevertheless afforded a species of consolation to the people, by diverting their thoughts from the miseries of daily existence.
Architecture degenerated in the greatest degree. Its sublimity was gradually lost as the meaning of the Gothic style became less understood, and a tasteless imitation of the Roman style, like that of St. Peter's at Rome, was brought into vogue by the Jesuits and by the court architects, by whom the chateau of Versailles was deemed the highest chef-d'oeuvre of art. This style of architecture was accompanied by a style of sculpture equally unmeaning and forced; saints and Pagan deities in theatrical attitudes, fat genii, and coquettish nymphs peopled the roofs of the churches and palaces, presided over bridges, fountains, etc. Miniature turnery-ware and microscopical sculpture also came into fashion. Such curiosities as, for instance, a cherry-stone, on which Pranner, the Carinthian, had carved upward of a hundred faces; a chessboard, the completion of which had occupied a Dutchman for eighteen years; golden carriages drawn by fleas; toys composed of porcelain or ivory in imitation of Chinese works of art; curious pieces of mechanism, musical clocks, etc., were industriously collected into the cabinets of the wealthy and powerful. This taste was, however, not utterly useless. The predilection for ancient gems promoted the study of the remains of antiquity, as Stosch, Lippert, and Winckelmann prove, and that of natural history was greatly facilitated by the collections of natural curiosities.
The style of painting was, however, still essentially German, although deprived by the Reformation and by French influence of its ancient sacred and spiritual character. Nature was now generally studied in the search after the beautiful. Among the pupils of Rubens, the great founder of the Dutch school, Jordaens was distinguished for brilliancy and force of execution, Van Dyck, A.D. 1541, for grace and beauty, although principally a portrait painter and incapable of idealizing his subjects, in which Rembrandt, A.D. 1674, who chose more extensive historical subjects, and whose coloring is remarkable for depth and effect, was equally deficient. Rembrandt's pupil, Gerhard Douw, introduced domestic scenes; his attention to the minutiae of his art was such that he is said to have worked for three days at a broomstick, in order to represent it with perfect truth. Denner carried accuracy still further; in his portraits of old men every hair in the beard is carefully imitated. Francis and William Mieris discovered far greater talent in their treatment of social and domestic groups; Terbourg and Netscher, on the other hand, delighted in the close imitation of velvet and satin draperies; and Schalken, in the effect of shadows and lamplight. Honthorst attempted a higher style, but Van der Werf's small delicious nudities and Van Loos's luxurious pastoral scenes were better adapted to the taste of the times. While these painters belonged to the higher orders of society, of which their works give evidence, numerous others studied the lower classes with still greater success. Besides Van der Meulen and Rugendas, the painters of battle-pieces, Wouvermann chiefly excelled in the delineation of horses and groups of horsemen, and Teniers, Ostade, and Jan Steen became famous for the surpassing truth of their peasants and domestic scenes. To this low but happily-treated school also belonged the cattle-pieces of Berchem and Paul de Potter, whose "Bull and Cows" were, in a certain respect, as much the ideal of the Dutch as the Madonna had formerly been that of the Italians or the Venus di Medici that of the ancients.
Landscape-painting alone gave evidence of a higher style. Nature, whenever undesecrated by the vulgarity of man, is ever sublimely simple. The Dutch, as may be seen in the productions of Breughel, called, from his dress, "Velvet Breughel," and in those of Elzheimer, termed, from his attention to minutiae, the Denner of landscape- painting, were at first too careful and minute; but Paul Brill, A.D. 1626, was inspired with finer conceptions and formed the link between preceding artists and the magnificent Claude Lorraine (so called from the place of his birth, his real name being Claude Gelee), who resided for a long time at Munich, and who first attempted to idealize nature as the Italian artists had formerly idealized man. Everdingen and Ruysdael, on the contrary, studied nature in her simple northern garb, and the sombre pines of the former, the cheerful woods of the latter, will ever be attractive, like pictures of a much-loved home, to the German. Bakhuysen's sea-pieces and storms are faithful representations of the Baltic. In the commencement of last century, landscape-painting also degenerated and became mere ornamental flower-painting, of which the Dutch were so passionately fond that they honored and paid the most skilful artists in this style like princes. The dull prosaic existence of the merchant called for relief. Huysum was the mosrt celebrated of the flower-painters, with Rachel Ruysch, William von Arless, and others of lesser note. Fruit and kitchen pieces were also greatly admired. Hondekotter was celebrated as a painter of birds.
Painting was, in this manner, confined to a slavish imitation of nature, for whose lowest objects a predilection was evinced until the middle of the eighteenth century, when a style, half Italian, half antique, was introduced into Germany by the operas, by travellers, and more particularly by the galleries founded by the princes, and was still further promoted by the learned researches of connoisseurs, more especially by those of Winckelmann. Mengs, the Raphael of Germany, Oeser, Tischbein, the landscape-painters Seekatz, Hackert, Reinhardt, Koch, etc., formed the transition to the modern style. Frey, Chodowiecki, etc., gained great celebrity as engravers.
Architecture flourished during the Middle Ages, painting at the time of the Reformation, and music in modern times. The same spirit that spoke to the eye in the eternal stone now breathed in transient melody to the ear. The science of music, transported by Dutch artists into Italy, had been there assiduously cultivated; the Italians had speedily surpassed their masters, and had occupied themselves with the creation of a peculiar church-music and of the profane opera, while the Netherlands and the whole of Germany were convulsed by bloody religious wars. After the peace of Westphalia, the national music of Germany, with the exception of the choral music in the Protestant churches, was almost silent, and Italian operas were introduced at all the courts, where Italian chapel-masters, singers, and performers were patronized in imitation of Louis XIV., who pursued a similar system in France. German talent was reduced to imitate the Italian masters, and, in 1628, Sagittarius produced at Dresden the first German opera in imitation of the Italian, and Keyser published no fewer than one hundred and sixteen.
The German musicians were, nevertheless, earlier than the German poets, animated with a desire to extirpate the foreign and degenerate mode fostered by the vanity of the German princes, and to give free scope to their original and native talent. This regeneration was effected by the despised and simple organists of the Protestant churches. In 1717, Schroeder, a native of Hohenstein in Saxony, invented the pianoforte and improved the organ. Sebastian Bach, in his colossal fugues, like to a pillared dome dissolved in melody, raised music by his compositions to a height unattained by any of his successors. He was one of the most extraordinary geniuses that ever appeared on earth. Handel, whose glorious melodies entranced the senses, produced the grand oratorio of the "Messiah," which is still performed in both Protestant and Catholic cathedrals; and Graun, with whom Frederick the Great played the flute, brought private singing into vogue by his musical compositions. Gluck was the first composer who introduced the depth and pathos of more solemn music into the opera. He gained a complete triumph at Paris over Piccini, the celebrated Italian musician, in his contest respecting the comparative excellencies of the German and Italian schools. Haydn introduced the variety and melody of the opera into the oratorio, of which his "Creation" is a standing proof. In the latter half of the foregoing century, sacred music has gradually yielded to the opera. Mozart brought the operatic style to perfection in the wonderful compositions that eternalize his fame.
The German theatre was, owing to the Gallomania of the period, merely a bad imitation of the French stage. Gottsched, who greatly contributed toward the reformation of German literature, still retained the stilted Alexandrine and the pseudo-Gallic imitation of the ancient dramatists to which Lessing put an end. Lessing wrote his "Dramaturgy" at Hamburg, recommended Shakespeare and other English authors as models, but more particularly nature. The celebrated Eckhof, the father of the German stage, who at first travelled about with a company of actors and finally settled at Gotha, was the first who followed this innovation. He was succeeded by Schroeder in Hamburg, who was equally industrious as a poet, an actor, and a Freemason. In Berlin, where Fleck had already paved the way, Iffland, who, like Schroeder, was both a poet and an actor, founded a school, which in every respect took nature as a guide, and which raised the German stage to its well-merited celebrity.
At the close of the eighteenth century, men of education were seized with an enthusiasm for art, which showed itself principally in a love for the stage and in visits for the promotion of art to Italy. The poet and the painter, alike dissatisfied with reality, sought to still their secret longings for the beautiful amid the unreal creations of fancy and the records of classical antiquity.
Fashion, that masker of nature, that creator of deformity, had, in truth, arrived at an unparalleled pitch of ugliness. The German costume, although sometimes extravagantly curious during the Middle Ages, had nevertheless always retained a certain degree of picturesque beauty, nor was it until the reign of Louis XIV. of France that dress assumed an unnatural, inconvenient, and monstrous form. Enormous allonge perukes and ruffles, the fontange (high headdress), hoops, and high heels, rendered the human race a caricature of itself. In the eighteenth century, powdered wigs of extraordinary shape, hairbags and queues, frocks and frills, came into fashion for the men; powdered headdresses an ell in height, diminutive waists, and patches for the women. The deformity, unhealthiness, and absurdity of this mode of attire were vainly pointed out by Salzmann, in a piece entitled, "Charles von Carlsberg, or Human Misery."
[Footnote 1: Also his brother John, who painted with equal talent in the same style.—Trans.]
[Footnote 2: Called also Gerardo dalle Notti from his subjects, principally night-scenes and pieces illuminated by torch or candle-light. His most celebrated picture is that of Jesus Christ before the Tribunal of Pilate.—Ibid.]
[Footnote 3: Gothic architecture has been likened to petrified music.]
[Footnote 4: He was assisted in his dramatic writings by his wife, a woman of splendid talents.—Trans.]
CCXLV. Influence of the Belles-Lettres
The German, excluded from all participation in public affairs and confined to the narrow limits of his family circle and profession, followed his natural bent for speculative philosophy and poetical reverie; but while his thoughts became more elevated and the loss of his activity was, in a certain degree, compensated by the gentle dominion of the muses, the mitigation thus afforded merely aggravated the evil by rendering him content with his state of inaction. Ere long, as in the most degenerate age of ancient Rome, the citizen, amused by sophists and singers, actors and jugglers, lost the remembrance of his former power and rights and became insensible to his state of moral degradation, to which the foreign notions, the vain and frivolous character of most of the poets of the day, had not a little contributed.
After the thirty years' war, the Silesian poets became remarkable for Gallomania or the slavish imitation of those of France. Unbounded adulation of the sovereign, bombastical carmina on occasion of the birth, wedding, accession, victories, fetes, treaties of peace, and burial of potentates, love-couplets equally strained, twisted compliments to female beauty, with pedantic, often indecent, citations from ancient mythology, chiefly characterized this school of poetry. Martin Opitz, A.D. 1639, the founder of the first Silesian school, notwithstanding the insipidity of the taste of the day, preserved the harmony of the German ballad. His most distinguished followers were Logau, celebrated for his Epigrams; Paul Gerhard, who, in his fine hymns, revived the force and simplicity of Luther; Flemming, a genial and thoroughly German poet, the companion of Olearius during his visit to Persia; the gentle Simon Dach, whose sorrowing notes bewail the miseries of the age. He founded a society of melancholy poets at Koenigsberg, in Prussia, the members of which composed elegies for each other; Tscherning and Andrew Gryphius, the Corneille of Germany, a native of Glogau, whose dramas are worthy of a better age than the insipid century in which they were produced. The life of this dramatist was full of incident. His father was poisoned; his mother died of a broken heart. He wandered over Germany during the thirty years' war, pursued by fire, sword, and pestilence, to the latter of which the whole of his relations fell victims. He travelled over the whole of Europe, spoke eleven languages, and became a professor at Leyden, where he taught history, geography, mathematics, physics, and anatomy. These poets were, however, merely exceptions to the general rule. In the poetical societies, the "Order of the Palm" or "Fructiferous Society," founded A.D. 1617, at Weimar, by Caspar von Teutleben, the "Upright Pine Society," established by Rempler of Loewenthal at Strasburg, that of the "Roses," founded A.D. 1643, by Philip von Zesen, at Hamburg, the "Order of the Pegnitz-shepherds," founded A.D. 1644, by Harsdoerfer, at Nuremberg, the spirit of the Italian and French operas and academies prevailed, and pastoral poetry, in which the god of Love was represented wearing an immense allonge peruke, and the coquettish immorality of the courts was glowingly described in Arcadian scenes of delight, was cultivated. The fantastical romances of Spain were also imitated, and the invention of novel terms was deemed the highest triumph of the poet. Every third word was either Latin, French, Spanish, Italian, or English. Francisci of Luebeck, who described all the discoveries of the New World in a colloquial romance contained in a thick folio volume, was the most extravagant of these scribblers. The romances of Antony Ulric, duke of Brunswick, who embraced Catholicism on the occasion of the marriage of his daughter with the emperor Charles VI., are equally bad. Lauremberg's satires, written A.D. 1564, are excellent. He said with great truth that the French had deprived the German muse of her nose and had patched on another quite unsuited to her German ears. Moscherosch (Philander von Sittewald) wrote an admirable and cutting satire upon the manners of the age, and Greifenson von Hirschfeld is worthy of mention as the author of the first historical romance that gives an accurate and graphic account of the state of Germany during the thirty years' war.
This first school was succeeded by a second of surpassing extravagance. Hoffman von Hoffmannswaldau, A.D. 1679, the founder of the second Silesian school, was a caricature of Opitz, Lohenstein of Gryphius, Besser of Flemming, Talander and Ziegler of Zesen, and even Francisci was outdone by that most intolerable of romancers, Happel. This school was remarkable for the most extravagant license and bombastical nonsense, a sad proof of the moral perversion of the age. The German character, nevertheless, betrayed itself by a sort of naive pedantry, a proof, were any wanting, that the ostentatious absurdities of the poets of Germany were but bad and paltry imitations. The French Alexandrine was also brought into vogue by this school, whose immorality was carried to the highest pitch by Guenther, the lyric poet, who, in the commencement of the eighteenth century, opposed marriage, attempted the emancipation of the female sex, and, with criminal geniality, recommended his follies and crimes, as highly interesting, to the world. To him the poet, Schnabel, the author of an admirable romance, the "Island of Felsenburg," the asylum, in another hemisphere, of virtue, exiled from Europe, offers a noble contrast.
Three Catholic poets of extreme originality appear at the close of the seventeenth century, Angelus Silesius (Scheffler of Breslau), who gave to the world his devotional thoughts in German Alexandrines; Father Abraham a Sancta Clara (Megerle of Swabia), a celebrated Viennese preacher, who, with comical severity, wrote satires abounding with wit and humorous observations; and Balde, who wrote some fine Latin poems on God and nature. Praetorius, A.D. 1680, the first collector of the popular legendary ballads concerning Ruebezahl and other spirits, ghosts and witches, also deserves mention. The Silesian, Stranizki, who, A.D. 1708, founded the Leopoldstadt theatre at Vienna, which afterward became so celebrated, and gave to it the popular comic style for which it is famous at the present day, was also a poet of extreme originality. Gottsched appeared as the hero of Gallomania, which was at that time threatened with gradual extinction by the Spanish and Hamburg romance and by Viennese wit. Assisted by Neuber, the actress, he extirpated all that was not strictly French, solemnly burned Harlequin in effigy at Leipzig, A.D. 1737, and laid down a law for German poetry, which prescribed obedience to the rules of the stilted French court-poetry, under pain of the critic's lash. He and his learned wife guided the literature of Germany for several years.
In the midst of these literary aberrations, during the first part of the foregoing century, Thomson, the English poet, Brokes of Hamburg, and the Swiss, Albert von Haller, gave their descriptions of nature to the world. Brokes, in his "Earthly Pleasures in God," was faithful, often Homeric, in his descriptions, while Haller depictured his native Alps with unparalleled sublimity. The latter was succeeded by a Swiss school, which imitated the witty and liberal-minded criticisms of Addison and other English writers, and opposed French taste and Gottsched. At its head stood Bodmer and Breitinger, who recommended nature as a guide, and instead of the study of French literature, that of the ancient classics and of English authors. It was also owing to their exertions that Mueller published an edition of Rudiger Maness's collection of Swabian Minnelieder, the connecting link between modern and ancient German poetry. Still, notwithstanding their merit as critics, they were no poets, and merely opened to others the road to improvement. Hagedorn, although frivolous in his ideas, was graceful and easy in his versification; but the most eminent poet of the age was Gellert of Leipzig, A.D. 1769, whose tales, fables, and essays brought him into such note as to attract the attention of Frederick the Great, who, notwithstanding the contempt in which he held the poets of Germany, honored him with a personal visit.
Poets and critics now rose in every quarter and pitilessly assailed Gottsched, the champion of Gallomania. They were themselves divided into two opposite parties, into Anglomanists and Graecomanists, according to their predilection for modern English literature or for that of ancient Greece and Rome. England, grounded, as upon a rock, on her self-gained constitution, produced men of the rarest genius in all the higher walks of science and literature, and her philosophers, naturalists, historians, and poets exercised the happiest influence over their Teutonic brethren, who sought to regain from them the vigor of which they had been deprived by France. The power and national learning of Germany break forth in Klopstock, whose genius vainly sought a natural garb and was compelled to assume a borrowed form. He consecrated his muse to the service of religion, but, in so doing, imitated the Homeric hexameters of Milton; he sought to arouse the national pride of his countrymen by recalling the deeds of Hermann (Armin) and termed himself a bard, but, in the Horatian metre of his songs, imitated Ossian, the old Scottish bard, and was consequently labored and affected in his style. Others took the lesser English poets for their model, as, for instance, Kleist, who fell at Kunersdorf, copied Thomson in his "Spring"; Zachariae, Pope, in his satirical pieces; Hermes, in "The Travels of Sophia," the humorous romances of Richardson; Mueller von Itzehoe, in his "Siegfried von Lindenberg," the comic descriptions of Smollett. The influence of the celebrated English poets, Shakespeare, Swift, and Sterne, on the tone of German humor and satire, was still greater. Swift's first imitator, Liscow, displayed considerable talent, and Rabener, a great part of whose manuscripts was burned during the siege of Dresden in the seven years' war, wrote witty, and at the same time instructive, satires on the manners of his age. Both were surpassed by Lichtenberg, the little hump-backed philosopher of Goettingen, whose compositions are replete with grace. The witty and amiable Thuemmmel was also formed on an English model, and Archenholz solely occupied himself with transporting the customs and literature of England into Germany. If Shakespeare has not been without influence upon Goethe and Schiller, Sterne, in his "Sentimental Journey," touched an echoing chord in the German's heart by blending pathos with his jests. Hippel was the first who, like him, united wit with pathos, mockery with tears.
In Klopstock, Anglo and Graecomania were combined. The latter had, however, also its particular school, in which each of the Greek and Roman poets found his imitator. Voss, for instance, took Homer for his model, Ramler, Horace, Gleim, Anacreon, Gessner, Theocritus, Cramer, Pindar, Lichtwer, AEsop, etc. The Germans, in the ridiculous attempt to set themselves up as Greeks, were, in truth, barbarians. But all was forced, unnatural, and perverted in this aping age. Wieland alone was deeply sensible of this want of nature, and hence arose his predilection for the best poets of Greece and France. The German muse, led by his genius, lost her ancient stiffness and acquired a pliant grace, to which the sternest critic of his too lax morality is not insensible. Some lyric poets, connected with the Graecomanists by the Goettingen Hainbund, preserved a noble simplicity, more particularly Salis and Holty, and also Count Stolberg, wherever he has not been led astray by Voss's stilted manner. Matthison is, on the other hand, most tediously affected.
The German, never more at home than when abroad, boasted of being the cosmopolite he had become, made a virtue of necessity, and termed his want of patriotism, justice to others, humanity, philanthropy. Fortunately for him, there were, besides the French, other nations on which he could model himself, the ancient Greeks and the English, from each of whom he gathered something until he had converted himself into a sort of universal abstract. The great poets, who shortly before and after the seven years' war, put an end to mere partial imitations, were not actuated by a reaction of nationality, but by a sentiment of universality. Their object was, not to oppose the German to the foreign, but simply the human to the single national element, and, although Germany gave them birth, they regarded the whole world equally as their country.
Lessing, by his triumph over the scholastic pedants, completed what Thomasius had begun, by his irresistible criticism drove French taste from the literary arena, aided Winckelmann to promote the study of the ancients and to foster the love of art, and raised the German theatre to an unprecedented height. His native language, in which he always wrote, breathes, even in his most trifling works, a free and lofty spirit, which, fascinating in every age, was more peculiarly so at that emasculated period. He is, however, totally devoid of patriotism. In his "Minna von Barnhelm," he inculcates the finest feelings of honor; his "Nathan" is replete with the wisdom "that cometh from above" and with calm dignity; and in "Emilia Galotti" he has been the first to draw the veil, hitherto respected, from scenes in real life. His life was, like his mind, independent. He scorned to cringe for favor, even disdained letters of recommendation when visiting Italy (Winckelmann had deviated from the truth for the sake of pleasing a patron), contented himself with the scanty lot of a librarian at Wolfenbuettel, and even preferred losing that appointment rather than subject himself to the censorship. He was the boldest, freest, finest spirit of the age.
Herder, although no less noble, was exactly his opposite. Of a soft and yielding temperament, unimaginative, and gifted with little penetration, but with a keen sense of the beautiful in others, he opened to his fellow countrymen with unremitting diligence the literary treasures of foreign nations, ancient classical poetry, that, hitherto unknown, of the East, and rescued from obscurity the old popular poetry of Germany. In his "Ideas of a Philosophical History of Mankind," he attempted to display in rich and manifold variety the moral character of every nation and of every age, and, while thus creating and improving the taste for poetry and history, ever, with childlike piety, sought for and revered God in all his works.
Goethe, with a far richer imagination, possessed the elegance but not the independence of Lessing, all the softness, pathos, and universality of Herder, without his faith. In the treatment and choice of his subjects he is indubitably the greatest poet of Germany, but he was never inspired with enthusiasm except for himself. His personal vanity was excessive. His works, like the lights in his apartment at Weimar, which were skilfully disposed so as to present him in the most favorable manner to his visitors, but artfully reflect upon self. The manner in which he palliated the weaknesses of the heart, the vain inclinations, shared by his contemporaries in common with himself, rendered him the most amiable and popular author of the day. French frivolity and license had long been practiced, but they had also been rebuked. Goethe was the first who gravely justified adultery, rendered the sentimental voluptuary an object of enthusiastic admiration, and deified the heroes of the stage, in whose imaginary fortunes the German forgot sad reality and the wretched fate of his country. His fade assumption of dignity, the art with which he threw the veil of mystery over his frivolous tendencies and made his commonplace ideas pass for something incredibly sublime, naturally met with astonishing success in his wonder-seeking times.
Rousseau's influence, the ideas of universal reform, the example of England, proud and free, but still more, the enthusiasm excited by the American war of independence, inflamed many heads in Germany and raised a poetical opposition, which began with the bold-spirited Schubart, whose liberal opinions threw him into a prison, but whose spirit still breathed in his songs and roused that of his great countryman, Schiller. The first cry of the oppressed people was, by Schiller, repeated with a prophet's voice. In him their woes found an eloquent advocate. Lessing had vainly appealed to the understanding, but Schiller spoke to the heart, and if the seed, sown by him, fell partially on corrupt and barren ground, it found a fostering soil in the warm, unadulterated hearts of the youth of both sexes. He recalled his fellow-men, in those frivolous times, to a sense of self-respect, he restored to innocence the power and dignity of which she had been deprived by ridicule, and became the champion of liberty, justice, and his country, things from which the love of pleasure and the aristocratic self-complacency, exemplified in Goethe, had gradually and completely Weaned succeeding poets. Klinger, at the same time, coarsely portrayed the vices of the church and state, and Meyern extravagated in his romance "Dya-Na-Sore" on Utopian happiness. The poems of Muller, the painter, are full of latent warmth. Burger, Pfeffel, the blind poet, and Claudius, gave utterance, in Schubart's coarse manner, to a few trite truisms. Musaeus was greatly admired for his amusing popular stories. As for the rest, it seemed as though the spiritless writers of that day had found it more convenient to be violent and savage in their endless chivalric pieces and romances than, like Schiller, steadily and courageously to attack the vices and evils of their age. Their fire but ended in smoke. Babo and Ziegler alone, among the dramatists, have a liberal tendency. The spirit that had been called forth also degenerated into mere bacchanalian license, and, in order to return to nature, the limits set by decency and custom were, as by Heinse, for instance, who thus disgraced his genius, wantonly overthrown.
In contradistinction to these wild spirits, which, whether borne aloft by their genius or impelled by ambition, quitted the narrow limits of daily existence, a still greater number of poets employed their talents in singing the praise of common life, and brought domesticity and household sentimentality into vogue. The very prose of life, so unbearable to the former, was by them converted into poetry. Although the ancient idyls and the family scenes of English authors were at first imitated, this style of poetry retained an essentially German originality; the hero of the modern idyl, unlike his ancient model, was a fop tricked out with wig and cane, and the domestic hero of the tale, unlike his English counterpart, was a mere political nullity. It is perhaps well when domestic comforts replace the want of public life, but these poets hugged the chain they had decked with flowers, and forgot the reality. They forgot that it is a misfortune and a disgrace for a German to be without a country, without a great national interest, to be the most unworthy descendant of the greatest ancestors, the prey and the jest of the foreigner; to this they were indifferent, insensible; they laid down the maxim that a German has nothing more to do than "to provide for" himself and his family, no other enemy to repel than domestic trouble, no other duty than "to keep his German wife in order," to send his sons to the university, and to marry his daughters. These commonplace private interests were withal merely adorned with a little sentimentality. No noble motive is discoverable in Voss's celebrated "Louisa" and Goethe's "Hermann and Dorothea." This style of poetry was so easy that hundreds of weak-headed men and women made it their occupation, and family scenes and plays speedily surpassed the romances of chivalry in number. The poet, nevertheless, exercised no less an influence, notwithstanding his voluntary renunciation of his privilege to elevate the sinking minds of his countrymen by the great memories of the past or by ideal images, and his degradation of poetry to a mere palliation of the weaknesses of humanity.
[Footnote 1: He was a friend of Grotius and is styled the father of German poetry.—Trans.]
[Footnote 2: Of which an edition, much esteemed, was published by Lessing and Ramler.]
[Footnote 3: Adam Elschlager or Olearius, an eminent traveller and mathematician, a native of Anhalt. He became secretary to an embassy sent to Russia and Persia by the duke of Holstein.—Trans.]
* * * * *
THE GREAT WARS WITH FRANCE
CCXLVI. The French Revolution
In no other European state had despotism arrived at such a pitch as in France; the people groaned beneath the heavy burdens imposed by the court, the nobility, and the clergy, and against these two estates there was no appeal, their tyranny being protected by the court, to which they had servilely submitted. The court had rendered itself not only unpopular, but contemptible, by its excessive license, which had also spread downward among the higher classes; the government was, moreover, impoverished by extravagance and weakened by an incapable administration, the helm of state, instead of being guided by a master-hand, having fallen under Louis XV. into that of a woman.
In France, where the ideas of modern philosophy emanated from the court, they spread more rapidly than in any other country among the tiers-etat, and the spirit of research, of improvement, of ridicule of all that was old, naturally led the people to inquire into the administration, to discover and to ridicule its errors. The natural wit of the people, sharpened by daily oppression and emboldened by Voltaire's unsparing ridicule of objects hitherto held sacred, found ample food in the policy pursued by the government, and ridicule became the weapon with which the tiers-etat revenged the tyranny of the higher classes. As learning spread, the deeds of other nations, who had happily and gloriously cast off the yoke of their oppressors, became known to the people. The names of the patriots of Greece and Rome passed from mouth to mouth, and their actions became the theme of the rising generation; but more powerful than all in effect, was the example of the North Americans, who, A.D. 1783, separated themselves from their mother-country, England, and founded a republic. France, intent upon weakening her ancient foe, lent her countenance to the new republic, and numbers of her sons fought beneath her standard and bore the novel ideas of liberty back to their native land, where they speedily produced a fermentation among their mercurial countrymen.
Louis XV., a voluptuous and extravagant monarch, was succeeded by Louis XVI., a man of refined habits, pious and benevolent in disposition, but unpossessed of the moral power requisite for the extermination of the evils deeply rooted in the government. His queen, Marie Antoinette, sister to Joseph II., little resembled her brother or her husband in her tastes, was devoted to gaiety, and, by her example, countenanced the most lavish extravagance. The evil increased to a fearful degree. The taxes no longer sufficed; the exchequer was robbed by privileged thieves; an enormous debt continued to increase; and the king, almost reduced to the necessity of declaring the state bankrupt, demanded aid from the nobility and clergy, who, hitherto free from taxation, had amassed the whole wealth of the empire.
The aristocracy, ever blind to their true interest, refused to comply, and, by so doing, compelled the king to have recourse to the tiers-etat. Accordingly, A.D. 1789, he convoked a general assembly, in which the deputies sent by the citizens and peasant classes were not only numerically equal to those of the aristocracy, but were greatly superior to them in talent and energy, and, on the refusal of the nobility and clergy to comply with the just demands of the tiers-etat, or even to hold a common sitting with their despised inferiors, these deputies declared the national assembly to consist of themselves alone, and proceeded, on their own responsibility, to scrutinize the evils of the administration and to discuss remedial measures. The whole nation applauded the manly and courageous conduct of its representatives. The Parisians, ever in extremes, revolted, and murdered the unpopular public officers; the soldiers, instead of quelling the rebellion, fraternized with the people. The national assembly, emboldened by these first successes, undertook a thorough transformation of the state, and, in order to attain the object for which they had been assembled, that of procuring supplies, declared the aristocracy subject to taxation, and sold the enormous property belonging to the church. They went still further. The people was declared the only true sovereign, and the king the first servant of the state. All distinctions and privileges were abolished, and all Frenchmen were declared equal.
The nobility and clergy, infuriated by this dreadful humiliation, embittered the people still more against them by their futile opposition, and, at length convinced of the hopelessness of their cause, emigrated in crowds and attempted to form another France on the borders of their country in the German Rhenish provinces. Worms and Coblentz were their chief places of resort. In the latter city, they continued their Parisian mode of life at the expense of the avaricious elector of Treves, Clement Wenzel, a Saxon prince, by whose powerful minister, Dominique, they were supported, and acted with unparalleled impudence. They were headed by the two brothers of the French king, who entered into negotiation with all the foreign powers, and they vowed to defend the cause of the sovereigns against the people. Louis, who for some time wavered between the national assembly and the emigrants, was at length persuaded by the queen to throw himself into the arms of the latter, and secretly fled, but was retaken and subjected to still more rigorous treatment. The emigrants, instead of saving, hurried him to destruction.
The other European powers at first gave signs of indecision. Blinded by a policy no longer suited to the times, they merely beheld in the French Revolution the ruin of a state hitherto inimical to them, and rejoiced at the event. The prospect of an easy conquest of the distracted country, however, ere long led to the resolution on their part of actively interfering with its affairs. Austria was insulted in the person of the French queen, and, as head of the empire, was bound to protect the rights of the petty Rhenish princes and nobility, who possessed property and ecclesiastical or feudal rights on French territory, and had been injured by the new constitution. Prussia, habituated to despotism, came forward as its champion in the hope of gaining new laurels for her unemployed army. A conference took place at Pilnitz in Saxony, A.D. 1791, between Emperor Leopold and King Frederick William, at which the Count D'Artois, the youngest brother of Louis XVI., was present, and a league was formed against the Revolution. The old ministers strongly opposed it. In Prussia, Herzberg drew upon himself the displeasure of his sovereign by zealously advising a union with France against Austria. In Austria, Kaunitz recommended peace, and said that were he allowed to act he would defeat the impetuous French by his "patience;" that, instead of attacking France, he would calmly watch the event and allow her, like a volcano, to bring destruction upon herself. Ferdinand of Brunswick, field-marshal of Prussia, was equally opposed to war. His fame as the greatest general of his time had been too easily gained, more by his manoeuvres than by his victories, not to induce a fear on his side of being as easily deprived of it in a fresh war; but the proposal of the revolutionary party in France—within whose minds the memory of Rossbach was still fresh—mistrustful of French skill, to nominate him generalissimo of the troops of the republic, conspired with the incessant entreaties of the emigrants to reanimate his courage; and he finally declared that, followed by the famous troops of the great Frederick, he would put a speedy termination to the French Revolution.
Leopold II. was, as brother to Marie Antoinette, greatly embittered against the French. The disinclination of the Austrians to the reforms of Joseph II. appears to have chiefly confirmed him in the conviction of finding a sure support in the old system. He consequently strictly prohibited the slightest innovation and placed a power hitherto unknown in the hands of the police, more particularly in those of its secret functionaries, who listened to every word and consigned the suspected to the oblivion of a dungeon. This mute terrorism found many a victim. This system was, on the death of Leopold II., A.D. 1792, publicly abolished by his son and successor, Francis II., but was ere long again carried on in secret.
Catherine II., with the view of seizing the rest of Poland, employed every art in order to instigate Austria and Prussia to a war with France, and by these means fully to occupy them in the West. The Prussian king, although aware of her projects, deemed the French an easy conquest, and that in case of necessity his armies could without difficulty be thrown into Poland. He meanwhile secured the popular feeling in Poland in his favor by concluding, A.D. 1790, an alliance with Stanislaus and giving his consent to the improved constitution established in Poland, A.D. 1791. Herzberg had even counselled an alliance with France and Poland, the latter was to be bribed with a promise of the annexation of Galicia, against Austria and Russia; this plan was, however, merely whispered about for the purpose of blinding the Poles and of alarming Russia.
The bursting storm was anticipated on the part of the French by a declaration of war, A.D. 1792, and while Austria still remained behind for the purpose of watching Russia, Poland, and Turkey, and the unwieldy empire was engaged in raising troops, Ferdinand of Brunswick had already led the Prussians across the Rhine. He was joined by the emigrants under Conde, whose army almost entirely consisted of officers. The well-known manifesto, published by the duke of Brunswick on his entrance into France, and in which he declared his intention to level Paris with the ground should the French refuse to submit to the authority of their sovereign, was composed by Renfner, the counsellor of the embassy at Berlin. The emperor and Frederick William, persuaded that fear would reduce the French to obedience, had approved of this manifesto, which was, on the contrary, disapproved of by the duke of Brunswick, on account of its barbarity and its ill-accordance with the rules of war. He did not, however, withdraw his signature on its publication. The effect of this manifesto was that the French, instead of being struck with terror, were maddened with rage, deposed their king, proclaimed a republic, and flew to arms in order to defend their cities against the barbarians threatening them with destruction. The Orleans party and the Jacobins, who were in close alliance with the German Illuminati, were at that time first able to gain the mastery and to supplant the noble-spirited constitutionalists. A Prussian baron, Anachasis Cloots, was even elected in the national convention of the French republic, where he appeared as the advocate of the whole human race. These atheistical babblers, however, talked to little purpose, but the national pride of the troops, hastily levied and sent against the invaders, effected wonders.
The delusion of the Prussians was so complete that Bischofswerder said to the officers, "Do not purchase too many horses, the affair will soon be over"; and the duke of Brunswick remarked, "Gentlemen, not too much baggage, this is merely a military trip."
The Prussians, it is true, wondered that the inhabitants did not, as the emigrants had alleged they would, crowd to meet and greet them as their saviors and liberators, but at first they met with no opposition. The noble-spirited Lafayette, who commanded the main body of the French army, had at first attempted to march upon Paris for the purpose of saving the king, but the troops were already too much republicanized and he was compelled to seek refuge in the Netherlands, where he was, together with his companions, seized by command of the emperor of Austria, and thrown into prison at Olmuetz, where he remained during five years under the most rigorous treatment merely on account of the liberality of his opinions, because he wanted a constitutional king, and notwithstanding his having endangered his life and his honor in order to save his sovereign. Such was the hatred with which high-minded men of strict principle were at that period viewed, while at the same time a negotiation was carried on with Dumouriez, a characterless Jacobin intriguant, who had succeeded Lafayette in the command of the French armies.
Ferdinand of Brunswick now became the dupe of Dumouriez, as he had formerly been that of the emigrants. In the hope of a counter- revolution in Paris, he procrastinated his advance and lost his most valuable time in the siege of fortresses. Verdun fell: three beautiful citizens' daughters, who had presented bouquets to the king of Prussia, were afterward sent to the guillotine by the republicans as traitoresses to their country. Ferdinand, notwithstanding this success, still delayed his advance in the hope of gaining over the wily French commander and of thus securing beforehand his triumph in a contest in which his ancient fame might otherwise be at stake. The impatient king, who had accompanied the army, spurred him on, but was, owing to his ignorance of military matters, again pacified by the reasons alleged by the cautious duke. Dumouriez, consequently, gained time to collect considerable reinforcements and to unite his forces with those under Kellermann of Alsace. The two armies came within sight of each other at Valmy; the king gave orders for battle, and the Prussians were in the act of advancing against the heights occupied by Kellermann, when the duke suddenly gave orders to halt and drew off the troops under a loud vivat from the French, who beheld this movement with astonishment. The king was at first greatly enraged, but was afterward persuaded by the duke of the prudence of this extraordinary step. Negotiations were now carried on with increased spirit. Dumouriez, who, like Kaunitz, said that the French, if left to themselves, would inevitably fall a prey to intestine convulsions, also contrived to accustom the king to the idea of a future alliance with France. The result of these intrigues was an armistice and the retreat of the Prussian army, which dysentery, bad weather, and bad roads rendered extremely destructive.
Austria was now, owing to the intrigues of the duke of Brunswick and the credulity of Frederick William, left unprotected. As early as June, old Marshal Lukner invaded Flanders, but, being arrested on suspicion, was replaced by Dumouriez, who continued the war in the Netherlands and defeated the stadtholder, Albert, duke of Saxon- Tescheu (son-in-law to Maria Theresa, in consideration of which he had been endowed with the principality of Teschen and the stadtholdership at Brussels), at Jemappes, and the whole of the Netherlands fell into the hands of the Jacobins, who, on the 14th of November, entered Brussels, where they proclaimed liberty and equality. A few days later (19th of November) the national convention at Paris proclaimed liberty and equality to all nations, promised their aid to all those who asserted their liberty, and threatened to compel those who chose to remain in slavery to accept of liberty. As a preliminary, however, the Netherlands, after being declared free, were ransacked of every description of movable property, of which Pache, a native of Freiburg in Switzerland, at that time the French minister of war, received a large share. The fluctuations of the war, however, speedily recalled the Jacobins. Another French army under Custines, which had marched to the Upper Rhine, gained time to take a firm footing in Mayence.
[Footnote 1: To the archbishopric of Cologne belonged the bishopric of Strasburg, to the archbishopric of Treves, the bishoprics of Metz, Toul, Verdun, Nancy, St. Diez. Wuertemberg, Baden, Darmstadt, Nassau, Pfalz-Zweibruecken, Leiningen, Salm-Salm, Hohenlohe-Bartenstein, Loewenstein, Wertheim, the Teutonic order, the knights of St. John, the immediate nobility of the empire, the bishop of Basel, etc., had, moreover, feudal rights within the French territory. The arch- chancellor, elector of Mayence, made the patriotic proposal to the imperial diet that the empire should, now that France had, by the violation of the conditions of peace, infringed the old and shameful treaties by which Germany had been deprived of her provinces, seize the opportunity also on her part to refuse to recognize those treaties, and to regain what she had lost. This sensible proposal, however, found no one capable of carrying it into effect.]
[Footnote 2: His sons were the emperor Francis II., Ferdinand, grandduke of Tuscany, the archduke Charles, celebrated for his military talents, Joseph, palatine of Hungary, Antony, grand-master of the Teutonic order, who died at Vienna, A.D. 1835, John, a general (he lived for many years in Styria), the present imperial vicar-general of Germany, and Rayner, viceroy of Milan.—Trans.]
[Footnote 3: Gentz, who afterward wrote so many manifestoes for Austria, practically remarks that this celebrated manifesto was in perfect conformity with the intent and that the only fault committed was the non-fulfillment of the threats therein contained.]
[Footnote 4: From Cleve. He compared himself with Anacharsis the Scythian, a barbarian, who visited Greece for the sake of learning. He sacrificed the whole of his property to the Revolution. Followed by a troop of men dressed in the costumes of different nations, of whom they were the pretended representatives, he appeared before the convention, from which he demanded the liberation of the whole world from the yoke of kings and priests. He became president of the great Jacobin club, and it was principally owing to his instigations that the French, at first merely intent upon defence, were roused to the attack and inspired with the desire for conquest.]
[Footnote 5: Dumouriez proposed as negotiator John Mueller, who was at that time teaching at Mayence, and who was in secret correspondence with him. Vide Memoirs of a Celebrated Statesman, edited by Rueder. Rueder remarks that John Mueller is silent in his autobiography concerning his correspondence with the Jacobins, for which he might, under a change of circumstances, have had good reason.]
CCXLVII. German Jacobins
In Lorraine and Alsace, the Revolution had been hailed with delight by the long-oppressed people. On the 10th of July, 1789, the peasants destroyed the park of the bishop, Rohan, at Zabern, and killed immense quantities of game. The chateaux and monasteries throughout the country were afterward reduced to heaps of ruins, and, in Suntgau, the peasants took especial vengeance on the Jews, who had, in that place, long lived on the fat of the land. Mulhausen received a democratic constitution and a Jacobin club. In Strasburg, the town-house was assailed by the populace, notwithstanding which, order was maintained by the mayor, Dietrich. The unpopular bishop, Rohan, was replaced by Brendel, against whom the people of Colmar revolted, and even assaulted him in the church for having taken the oath imposed by the French republic, and which was rejected by all good Catholics. Dietrich, aided by the great majority of the citizens of Strasburg, long succeeded in keeping the sans culottes at bay, but was at length overcome, deprived of his office, and guillotined at Paris, while Eulogius Schneider, who had formerly been a professor at Bonn, then court preacher to the Catholic duke, Charles of Wurtemberg, became the tyrant of Strasburg, and, in the character of public accuser before the revolutionary tribunal, conducted the executions. The national convention at Paris nominated as his colleague Monet, a man twenty-four years of age, totally ignorant of the German language, and who merely made himself remarkable for his open rapacity. This was, however, a mere prelude to far greater horrors. Two members of the convention, St. Just and Lebas, unexpectedly appeared at Strasburg, declared that nothing had as yet been done, ordered the executions to take place on a larger scale, and, A.D. 1793, imposed a fine of nine million livres on the already plundered city. The German costume and mode of writing were also prohibited; every sign, written in German, affixed to the houses, was taken down, and, finally, the whole of the city council and all the officers of the national guard were arrested and either exiled or guillotined, notwithstanding their zealous advocacy of revolutionary principles, on the charge of an understanding with Austria, without proof, on a mere groundless suspicion, without being permitted to defend themselves, for the sole purpose of removing them out of the way in order to replace them with trueborn Frenchmen, a Parisian mob, who established themselves in the desolate houses. Schneider and Brendel continued to retain their places by means of the basest adulation. On the 21st of November, a great festival was solemnized in the Minster, which had been converted into a temple of Reason. The bust of Marat, the most loathsome of all the monsters engendered by the Revolution, was borne in solemn procession to the cathedral, before whose portals an immense fire was fed with pictures and images of the saints, crucifixes, priests' garments, and sacred vessels, among which Brendel hurled his mitre. Within the cathedral walls, Schneider delivered a discourse in controversion of the Christian religion, which he concluded by solemnly renouncing; a number of Catholic ecclesiastics followed his example. All the statues and ecclesiastical symbols were piled in a rude heap at the foot of the great tower, which it was also attempted to pull down for the promotion of universal equality, an attempt which the extraordinary strength of the building and the short reign of revolutionary madness fortunately frustrated. All the more wealthy citizens had, meanwhile, been consigned either to the guillotine or to prison, and their houses filled with French bandits, who revelled in their wealth and dishonored their wives and daughters. Eulogius Schneider was compelled to seek at midnight for a wife, suspicion having already attached to him on account of his former profession. It was, however, too late. On the following morning, he was seized and sent to Paris, where he was guillotined. All ecclesiastics, all schoolmasters, even the historian, Friese, were, without exception, declared suspected and dragged to the prisons of Besancon, where they suffered the harshest treatment at the hands of the commandant, Prince Charles of Hesse. In Strasburg, Neumann, who had succeeded Schneider as public accuser, raged with redoubled fury. The guillotine was ever at work, was illuminated during the night time, and was the scene of the orgies of the drunken bandits. On the advance of the French armies to the frontiers, the whole country was pillaged.
In other places, where the plundering habits of the French had not cooled the popular enthusiasm, it still rose high, more particularly at Mayence. This city, which had been rendered a seat of the Muses by the elector, Frederick Charles, was in a state of complete demoralization. On the loss of Strasburg, Mayence, although the only remaining bulwark of Germany, was entirely overlooked. The war had already burst forth; no imperial army had as yet been levied, and the fortifications of Mayence were in the most shameful state of neglect. Magazines had been established by the imperial troops on the left bank of the Rhine, seemingly for the mere purpose of letting them fall into the hands of Custine: but eight hundred Austrians garrisoned Mayence; the Hessians, although numerically weak, were alone sincere in their efforts for the defence of Germany. Custine's advanced guard no sooner came in sight than the elector and all the higher functionaries fled to Aschaffenburg. Von Gymnich, the commandant of Mayence, called a council of war and surrendered the city, which was unanimously declared untenable by all present with the exception of Eikenmaier, who, notwithstanding, went forthwith over to the French, and of Andujar, the commander of the eight hundred Austrians, with whom he instantly evacuated the place. The Illuminati, who were here in great number, triumphantly opened the gates to the French, A.D. 1792. The most extraordinary scenes were enacted. A society, the members of which preached the doctrines of liberty and equality, and at whose head stood the professors Blau, Wedekind, Metternich, Hoffmann, Forster, the eminent navigator, the doctors Boehmer and Stamm, Dorsch of Strasburg, etc., chiefly men who had formerly been Illuminati, was formed in imitation of the revolutionary Jacobin club at Paris. These people committed unheard-of follies. At first, notwithstanding their doctrine of equality, they were distinguished by a particular ribbon; the women, insensible to shame, wore girdles with long ends, on which the word "liberty" was worked in front, and the word "equality" behind. Women, girt with sabres, danced franticly around tall trees of liberty, in imitation of those of France, and fired off pistols. The men wore monstrous mustaches in imitation of those of Custine, whom, notwithstanding their republican notions, they loaded with servile flattery. As a means of gaining over the lower orders among the citizens, who with plain good sense opposed their apish tricks, the clubbists demolished a large stone, by which the Archbishop Adolphus had formerly sworn, "You, citizens of Mayence, shall not regain your privileges until this stone shall melt." This, however, proved as little effective as did the production of a large book, in which every citizen, desirous of transforming the electorate of Mayence into a republic, was requested to inscribe his name. Notwithstanding the threat of being treated, in case of refusal, as slaves, the citizens and peasantry, plainly foreseeing that, instead of receiving the promised boon of liberty, they would but expose themselves to Custine's brutal tyranny, withheld their signatures, and the clubbists finally established a republic under the protection of France without the consent of the people, removed all the old authorities, and, at the close of 1792, elected Dorsch, a remarkably diminutive, ill-favored man, who had formerly been a priest, president.
The manner in which Custine levied contributions in Frankfort on the Maine, was still less calculated to render the French popular in Germany. Cowardly as this general was, he, nevertheless, told the citizens of Frankfort a truth that time has, up to the present period, confirmed. "You have beheld the coronation of the emperor of Germany? Well! you will not see another."
Two Germans, natives of Colmar in Alsace, Rewbel and Hausmann, and a Frenchman, Merlin, all three members of the national convention, came to Mayence for the purpose of conducting the defence of that city. They burned symbolically all the crowns, mitres, and escutcheons of the German empire, but were unable to induce the citizens of Mayence to declare in favor of the republic. Rewbel, infuriated at their opposition, exclaimed that he would level the city to the ground, that he should deem himself dishonored were he to waste another word on such slaves. A number of refractory persons were expelled from the city, and, on the 17th of March, 1793, although three hundred and seventy of the citizens alone voted in its favor, a Teuto-Rhenish national convention, under the presidency of Hoffmann, was opened at Mayence and instantly declared in favor of the union of the new republic with France. Forster, in other respects a man of great elevation of mind, forgetful, in his enthusiasm, of all national pride, personally carried to Paris the scandalous documents in which the French were humbly entreated to accept of a province of the German empire. The Prussians, who had remained in Luxemburg (without aiding the Austrians), meanwhile advanced to the Rhine, took Coblentz, which Custine had neglected to garrison (a neglect for which he afterward lost his head), repulsed a French force under Bournonville, when on the point of forming a junction with Custine, at Treves, expelled Custine from Frankfort, and closely besieged Mayence, which, after making a valiant defence, was compelled to capitulate in July.
Numbers of the clubbists fled, or were saved by the French, when evacuating the city, in the disguise of soldiers. Others were arrested and treated with extreme cruelty. Every clubbist, or any person suspected of being one, received five and twenty lashes in the presence of Kalkreuth, the Prussian general. Metternich was, together with numerous others, carried off, chained fast between the horses of the hussars, and, whenever he sank from weariness, spurred on at the sabre point. Blau had his ears boxed by the Prussian minister, Stein. A similar reaction took place at Worms, Spires, etc.
The German Jacobins suffered the punishment amply deserved by all those who look for salvation from the foreigner. Those who had barely escaped the vengeance of the Prussian on the Rhine were beheaded by their pretended good friends in France. Robespierre, an advocate, who, at that period, governed the convention, sent every foreigner who had enrolled himself as a member of the Jacobin club to the guillotine, as a suspicious person, a bloody but instructive lesson to all unpatriotic German Gallomanists.
The victims who fell on this occasion were, a prince of Salm-Kyrburg, who had voluntarily republicanized his petty territory, Anacharsis Cloots, and the venerable Trenk, who had so long pined in Frederick's prisons. Adam Lux, a friend of George Forster, was also beheaded for expressing his admiration of Charlotte Corday, the murderess of Marat. Marat was a Prussian subject, being a native of Neufchatel. Goebel von Bruntrut, uncle to Rengger, a celebrated character in the subsequent Swiss revolution, vicar-general of Basel, a furious revolutionist, who had on that account been appointed bishop of Paris, presented himself on the 6th of November, 1793, at the bar of the convention as an associate of Cloots, Hebert, Chaumette, etc., cast his mitre and other insignia of office to the ground, and placing the bonnet rouge on his head, solemnly renounced the Christian faith and proclaimed that of "liberty and equality." The rest of the ecclesiastics were compelled to imitate his example; the Christian religion was formally abolished and the worship of Reason was established in its stead. Half-naked women were placed upon the altars of the desecrated churches and worshipped as "goddesses of Reason." Goebel's friend, Pache, a native of Freiburg, a creature abject as himself, was particularly zealous, as was also Proli, a natural son of the Austrian minister, Kaunitz. Prince Charles of Hesse, known among the Jacobins as Charles Hesse, fortunately escaped. Schlaberndorf, a Silesian count, who appears to have been a mere spectator, and Oelsner, a distinguished author, were equally fortunate. These two latter remained in Paris. Reinhard, a native of Wurtemberg, secretary to the celebrated Girondin, Vergniaud, whom he is said to have aided in the composition of his eloquent speeches, remained in the service of France, was afterward ennobled and raised to the ministry. Felix von Wimpfen, whom the faction of the Gironde (the moderates who opposed the savage Jacobins) elected their general, and who, attempting to lead a small force from Normandy against Paris, was defeated and compelled to seek safety by flight. The venerable Lukner, the associate of Lafayette, who had termed the great Revolution merely "a little occurrence in Paris," was beheaded. The unfortunate George Forster perceived his error and died of sorrow. Among the other Rhenish Germans of distinction, who had at that time formed a connection with France, Joseph Goerres brought himself, notwithstanding his extreme youth, into great note at Coblentz by his superior talents. He went to Paris as deputy of Treves and speedily became known by his works (Rubezahl and the Red Leaf). He also speedily discovered the immense mistake made by the Germans in resting their hopes upon France. It was indeed a strange delusion to suppose the vain and greedy Frenchman capable of being inspired with disinterested love for all mankind, and it was indeed a severe irony, that, after such repeated and cruel experience, after having for centuries seen the French ever in the guise of robbers and pillagers, and after breathing such loud complaints against the princes who had sold Germany to France, that the warmest friends of the people should on this occasion be guilty of similar treachery, and, like selecting the goat for a gardener, entrust the weal of their country to the French.
The people in Germany too little understood the real motives and object of the French Revolution, and were too soon provoked by the predatory incursions of the French troops, to be infected with revolutionary principles. These merely fermented among the literati; the Utopian idea of universal fraternization was spread by Freemasonry; numbers at first cherished a hope that the Revolution would preserve a pure moral character, and were not a little astonished on beholding the monstrous crimes to which it gave birth. Others merely rejoiced at the fall of the old and insupportable system, and numerous anonymous pamphlets in this spirit appeared in the Rhenish provinces. Fichte, the philosopher, also published an anonymous work in favor of the Revolution. Others again, as, for instance, Reichard, Girtanner, Schirach, and Hoffmann, set themselves up as informers, and denounced every liberal-minded man to the princes as a dangerous Jacobin. A search was made for Crypto-Jacobins, and every honest man was exposed to the calumny of the servile newspaper editors. French republicanism was denounced as criminal, notwithstanding the favor in which the French language and French ideas were held at all the courts of Germany. Liberal opinions were denounced as criminal, notwithstanding the example first set by the courts in ridiculing religion, in mocking all that was venerable and sacred. Nor was this reaction by any means occasioned by a burst of German patriotism against the tyranny of France, for the treaty of Basel speedily reconciled the self-same newspaper editors with France. It was mere servility; and the hatred which, it may easily be conceived, was naturally excited against the French as a nation, was vented in this mode upon the patient Germans, who were, unfortunately, ever doomed, whenever their neighbors were visited with some political chronic convulsion, to taste the bitter remedy. But few of the writers of the day took a historical view of the Revolution and weighed its irremediable results in regard to Germany, besides Gentz, Rehberg, and the Baron von Gagern, who published an "Address to his Countrymen," in which he started the painful question, "Why are we Germans disunited?" The whole of these contending opinions of the learned were, however, equally erroneous. It was as little possible to preserve the Revolution from blood and immorality, and to extend the boon of liberty to the whole world, as it was to suppress it by force, and, as far as Germany was concerned, her affairs were too complicated and her interests too scattered for any attempt of the kind to succeed. A Doctor Faust, at Buckeburg, sent a learned treatise upon the origin of trousers to the national convention at Paris, by which Sansculottism had been introduced; an incident alone sufficient to show the state of feeling in Germany at that time.
The revolutionary principles of France merely infected the people in those parts of Germany where their sufferings had ever been the greatest, as, for instance, in Saxony, where the peasantry, oppressed by the game laws and the rights of the nobility, rose, after a dry summer by which their misery had been greatly increased, to the number of eighteen thousand, and sent one of their class to lay their complaints before the elector, A.D. 1790. The unfortunate messenger was instantly consigned to a madhouse, where he remained until 1809, and the peasantry were dispersed by the military. A similar revolt of the peasantry against the tyrannical nuns of Wormelen, in Westphalia, merely deserves mention as being characteristic of the times. A revolt of the peasantry, of equal unimportance, also took place in Buckeburg, on account of the expulsion of three revolutionary priests, Froriep, Meyer, and Rauschenbusch. In Breslau, a great emeute, which was put down by means of artillery, was occasioned by the expulsion of a tailor's apprentice, A.D. 1793.
In Austria, one Hebenstreit formed a conspiracy, which brought him to the gallows, A.D. 1793. That formed by Martinowits, for the establishment of the sovereignty of the people in Hungary and for the expulsion of the magnates, was of a more dangerous character. Martinowits was beheaded, A.D. 1793, with four of his associates. These attempts so greatly excited the apprehensions of the government that the reaction, already begun on the death of Joseph II., was brought at once to a climax; Thugut, the minister, established an extremely active secret police and a system of surveillance, which spread terror throughout Austria and was utterly uncalled for, no one, with the exception of a few crack-brained individuals, being in the slightest degree infected with the revolutionary mania.
It may be recorded as a matter of curiosity that, during the bloodstained year of 1793, the petty prince of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt held, as though in the most undisturbed time of peace, a magnificent tournament, and the fetes customary on such an occasion.
[Footnote 1: Oberlin, the celebrated philologist, an ornament to German learning, a professor at Strasburg, rescued, at the risk of his life, a great portion of the ancient city archives, which had been thrown out of the windows, by re-collecting the documents with the aid of the students. On account of this sample of old German pedantry he pined, until 1793, in durance vile at Metz, and narrowly escaped being guillotined.]
[Footnote 2: At Bonn he had the impudence to say to the elector, "I cannot pay you a higher compliment than by asserting you to be no Catholic."—Van Alpen, History of Rhenish Franconia.]
[Footnote 3: He mulcted the brewers to the amount of 255,000 livres, "on account of their well-known avarice," the bakers and millers to that of 314,000, a publican to that of 40,000, a baker to that of 30,000, "because he was an enemy of mankind," etc.—Vide Friese's History of Strasburg.]
[Footnote 4: It was asserted that the Jacobins had formed a plan to depopulate the whole of Alsace, and to partition the country among the bravest soldiers belonging to the republican armies.]
[Footnote 5: John Mueller played a remarkable part. This thoroughly deceptive person had, by his commendation of the ancient Swiss in his affectedly written History of Switzerland, gained the favor of the friends of liberty, and, at the same time, that of the nobility by his encomium on the degenerate Swiss aristocracy. While with sentimental phrases and fine words he pretended to be one of the noblest of mankind, he was addicted to the lowest and most monstrous vices. His immorality brought him into trouble in Switzerland, and the man, who had been, apparently, solely inspired with the love of republican liberty, now paid court, for the sake of gain, to foreign princes; the adulation that had succeeded so well with all the lordlings of Switzerland was poured into the ears of all the potentates of Europe. He even rose to great favor at Rome by his flattery of the pope in a work entitled "The Travels of the Popes." He published the most virulent sophisms against the beneficial reforms of the emperor Joseph, and cried up the League, for which he was well paid. He contrived, at the same time, to creep into favor with the Illuminati. He was employed by the elector of Mayence to carry on negotiations with Dumouriez, got into office under the French republic, and afterward revisited Mayence for the express purpose of calling upon the citizens, at that time highly dissatisfied with the conduct of the French, to unite themselves with France. Vide Forster's Correspondence. Dumouriez shortly afterward went over to the Austrians, and Mueller suddenly appeared at Vienna, adorned with a title and in the character of an Aulic councillor.]
[Footnote 6: While in his proclamations he swore by all that was sacred (what was so to a Frenchman?) to respect the property of the citizens and that France coveted no extension of territory.]
[Footnote 7: Forster was so blinded at that time by his enthusiasm that he wrote, "all of those among us who refuse the citizenship of France are to be expelled the city, even if complete depopulation should be the result." He relates: "I summoned, at Grunstadt, the Counts von Leiningen to acknowledge themselves citizens of France. They protested against it, caballed, instigated the citizens peasantry to revolt; one of my soldiers was attacked and wounded. I demanded a reinforcement, took possession of both the castles, and placed the counts under guard. To-day I sent them with an escort to Landau. This has been a disagreeable duty, but we must reduce every opponent of the good cause to obedience."]
[Footnote 8: Where the weak garrison left by the French was disarmed by the workmen.]
[Footnote 9: Either the Prussian minister who afterward gained such celebrity or one of his relations.]
[Footnote 10: Here Skekuly forced the German clubbists, with the lash, to cut down the tree of liberty.]
[Footnote 11: Forster wrote from Paris, "Suspicion hangs over every foreigner, and the essential distinctions which ought to be made in this respect are of no avail." Thus did nature, by whom nations are eternally separated, avenge herself on the fools who had dreamed of universal equality.]
[Footnote 12: Cloots had incessantly preached war, threatened all the kings of the earth with destruction, and, in his vanity, had even set a price upon the head of the Prussian monarch. His object was the union of the whole of mankind, the abolition of nationality. The French were to receive a new name, that of "Universel." He preached in the convention: "I have struggled during the whole of my existence against the powers of heaven and earth. There is but one God, Nature, and but one sovereign, mankind, the people, united by reason in one universal republic. Religion is the last obstacle, but the time has arrived for its destruction. J'occupe la tribune de l'univers. Je le repete, le genre humain est Dieu, le Peuple Dieu. Quiconque a la debilite de croire en Dieu ne sauroit avoir la sagacite de connaitre le genre humain, le souverain unique," etc.—Moniteur of 1793, No. 120. He also subscribed himself the "personal enemy of Je"us of Nazareth."]
[Footnote 13: Whose nephew, the celebrated traveller, Rengger, was, with Bonpland, so long imprisoned in Paraguay.]
[Footnote 14: He had been already imprisoned and was ordered to the guillotine, but not being able to find his boots quickly enough, his execution was put off until the morrow. During the night, Robespierre fell, and his life was saved. He continued to reside at Paris, where he never quitted his apartment, cherished his beard, and associated solely with ecclesiastics.]
[Footnote 15: After an interview with his wife, Theresa (daughter to the great philologist, Heyne of Grottingen), on the French frontier, he returned to Paris and killed himself by drinking aquafortis. Vide Crome's Autobiography. Theresa entered into association with Huber, the journalist, whom she shortly afterward married. She gained great celebrity by her numerous romances.]
[Footnote 16: The popular work "Huergelmer" relates, among other things, the conduct of the Margrave of Baden toward Lauchsenring, his private physician, whom he, on account of the liberality of his opinions, delivered over to the Austrian general, who sentenced him to the bastinado.]
[Footnote 17: Schnelter says: "The first great conspiracy was formed in the vicinity of the throne, A.D. 1793. The chief conspirator was Hebenstreit, the commandant, who held, by his office, the keys to the arsenal, and had every place of importance in his power. His fellow conspirators were Prandstaetter, the magistrate and poet, who, by his superior talents, led the whole of the magistracy, and possessed great influence in the metropolis, Professor Riedl, who possessed the confidence of the court, which he frequented for the purpose of instructing some of the principal personages, and Haeckel, the merchant, who had the management of its pecuniary affairs. The rest of the conspirators belonged to every class of society and were spread throughout every province of the empire. The plan consisted in the establishment of a democratic constitution, the first step to which appears to have been an attempt against the life of the imperial family. The signal for insurrection was to be given by firing the immense wood-yards. The hearts of the people were to be gained by the destruction of the government accounts. The discovery was made through a conspiracy formed in Denmark. The chief conspirator was seized and sent to the gallows. The rest were exiled to Munkatch, where several of them had succumbed to the severity of their treatment and of the climate when their release was effected by Bonaparte by the peace of Campo Formio, which gave rise to the supposition that the Hebenstreit conspiracy was connected with the French republicans and Jacobins. The second conspiracy was laid in Hungary, by the bishop and abbot, Josephus Ignatius Martinowits, a man whom the emperors Joseph, Leopold, and Francis had, on account of his talent and energy, loaded with favors. The plan was an actionalis conspiratio, for the purpose of contriving an attempt against the sacred person of his Majesty the king, the destruction of the power of the privileged classes in Hungary, the subversion of the administration, and the establishment of a democracy. The means for the execution of this project were furnished by two secret societies." Huergelmer relates: "A certain Dr. Plank somewhat thoughtlessly ridiculed the institution of the jubilee; in order to convince him of its utility, he was sent as a recruit to the Italian army, an act that was highly praised by the newspapers." On the 22d of July, 1795, a Baron von Riedel was placed in the pillory at Vienna for some political crime, and was afterward consigned to the oblivion of a dungeon; the same fate, some days later, befell Brand-Btetter, Fellesneck, Billeck, Ruschitiski (Ephemeridae of 1796). A Baron Taufner was hanged at Vienna as a traitor to his country (E. of 1796).]
[Footnote 18: "The increase of crime occasioned by the artifices of the police, who thereby gained their livelihood, rendered an especial statute, prohibitory of such measures, necessary in the new legislature. Even the passing stranger perceived the disastrous effect of their intrigues upon the open, honest character and the social habits of the Viennese. The police began gradually to be considered as a necessary part of the machine of government, a counterbalance to or a remedy for the faults committed by other branches of the administration. Large sums, the want of which was heavily felt in the national education and in the army, were expended on this arsenal of poisoned weapons."—Hormayr's Pocket-Book, 1832. Thugut is described as a diminutive, hunchbacked old man, with a face resembling the mask of a fawn and with an almost satanic expression.]
CCXLVIII. Loss of the Left Bank of the Rhine
The object of the Prussian king was either to extend his conquests westward or, at all events, to prevent the advance of Austria. The war with France claimed his utmost attention, and, in order to guard his rear, he again attempted to convert Poland into a bulwark against Russia.
His ambassador, Lucchesini, drove Stackelberg, the Russian envoy, out of Warsaw, and promised mountains of gold to the Poles, who dissolved the perpetual council associated by Russia with the sovereign, freed themselves from the Russian guarantee; aided by Prussia, compelled the Russian troops to evacuate the country; devised a constitution, which they laid before the cabinets of London and Berlin; concluded an offensive and defensive alliance with Prussia on the 29th of March, 1790, and, on the 3d of May, 1791, carried into effect the new constitution ratified by England and Prussia, and approved of by the emperor Leopold. During the conference, held at Pilnitz, the indivisibility of Poland was expressly mentioned. The constitution was monarchical. Poland was, for the future, to be a hereditary instead of an elective monarchy, and, on the death of Poniatowsky, the crown was to fall to Saxony. The modification of the peasants' dues and the power conceded to the serf of making a private agreement with his lord also gave the monarchy a support against the aristocracy.
Catherine of Russia, however, no sooner beheld Prussia and Austria engaged in a war with France, than she commenced her operations against Poland, declared the new Polish constitution French and Jacobinical, notwithstanding its abolition of the liberum veto and its extension of the prerogatives of the crown, and, taking advantage of the king's absence from Prussia, speedily regained possession of the country. What was Frederick William's policy in this dilemma? He was strongly advised to make peace with France, to throw himself at the head of the whole of his forces into Poland, and to set a limit to the insolence of the autocrat; but—he feared, should he abandon the Rhine, the extension of the power of Austria in that quarter, and— calculating that Catherine, in order to retain his friendship, would cede to him a portion of her booty, unhesitatingly broke the faith he had just plighted with the Poles, suddenly took up Catherine's tone, declared the constitution he had so lately ratified Jacobinical, and despatched a force under Mollendorf into Poland in order to secure possession of his stipulated prey. By the second partition of Poland, which took place as rapidly, as violently, and, on account of the assurances of the Prussian monarch, far more unexpectedly than the first, Russia received the whole of Lithuania, Podolia, and the Ukraine, and Prussia, Thorn and Dantzig, besides Southern Prussia (Posen and Calisch). Austria, at that time fully occupied with France, had no participation in this robbery, which was, as it were, committed behind her back.
Affairs had worn a remarkably worse aspect since the campaign of 1792. The French had armed themselves with all the terrors of offended nationalism and of unbounded, intoxicating liberty. All the enemies of the Revolution within the French territory were mercilessly exterminated, and hundreds of thousands were sacrificed by the guillotine, a machine invented for the purpose of accelerating the mode of execution. The king was beheaded in this manner in the January of 1793, and the queen shared a similar fate in the ensuing October. While Robespierre directed the executions, Carnot undertook to make preparations for war, and, in the very midst of this immense fermentation, calmly converted France into an enormous camp, and more than a million Frenchmen, as if summoned by magic from the clod, were placed under arms.
The sovereigns of Europe also prepared for war, and, A.D. 1793, formed the first great coalition, at whose head stood England, intent upon the destruction of the French navy. The English, aided by a large portion of the French population devoted to the ancient monarchy, attacked France by sea, and made a simultaneous descent on the northern and southern coasts. The Spanish and Portuguese troops crossed the Pyrenees; the Italian princes invaded the Alpine boundary; Austria, Prussia, Holland, and the German empire threatened the Rhenish frontier, while Sweden and Russia stood frowning in the background. The whole of Christian Europe took up arms against France, and enormous armies hovered, like vultures, around their prey.
The duke of Coburg commanded the main body of the Austrians in the Netherlands, where he was at first merely opposed by the old French army, whose general, Dumouriez, after unsuccessfully grasping at the supreme power, entered into a secret agreement with the coalition, allowed himself to be defeated at Aldenhovenl and Neerwinden, and finally deserted to the Austrians. At this moment, when the French army was dispirited by defeat and without a leader, Coburg, who had been reinforced by the English and Dutch under the duke of York, might, by a hasty advance, have taken Paris by surprise, but both the English and Austrian generals solely owed the command, for which they were totally unfit, to their high birth, and Colonel Mack, the most prominent character among the officers of the staff, was a mere theoretician, who could cleverly enough conduct a campaign—upon paper. Clairfait, the Austrian general, beat the disbanded French army under Dampiere at Famars, but temporized instead of following up his victory. Coburg, in the hope of the triumph of the moderate party, the Girondins, published an extremely mild and peaceable proclamation, which, on the fall of the Gironde, was instantly succeeded by one of a more threatening character, which his want of energy and decision in action merely rendered ridiculous. No vigorous attack was made, nor was even a vigorous defence calculated upon, not one of the frontier forts in the Netherlands, demolished by Joseph II., having been rebuilt. The coalition foolishly trusted that the French would be annihilated by their inward convulsions, while they were in reality seizing the opportunity granted by the tardiness of their foes to levy raw recruits and exercise them in arms. The principal error, however, lay in the system of conquest pursued by both Austria and England. Conde, Valenciennes, and all towns within the French territory taken by Coburg, were compelled to take a formal oath of allegiance to Austria, and England made, as the condition of her aid, that of the Austrians for the conquest of Dunkirk. The siege of this place, which was merely of importance to England in a mercantile point of view, retained the armies of Coburg and York, and the French were consequently enabled, in the meantime, to concentrate their scattered forces and to act on the offensive. Ere long, Houchard and Jourdan pushed forward with their wild masses, which, at first undisciplined and unsteady, were merely able to screen themselves from the rapid and sustained fire of the British by acting as tirailleurs (a mode of warfare successfully practiced by the North Americans against the serried ranks of the English), became gradually bolder, and finally, by their numerical strength and republican fury, gained a complete triumph. Houchard, in this manner, defeated the English at Hondscoten (September 8th), and Jourdan drove the Austrians off the field at Wattignies on the 16th of October, the day on which the French queen was beheaded. Coburg, although the Austrians had maintained their ground on every other point, resolved to retreat, notwithstanding the urgent remonstrances of the youthful archduke, Charles, who had greatly distinguished himself. During the retreat, an unimportant victory was gained at Menin by Beaulieu, the imperial general. His colleague, Wurmser, nevertheless maintained with extreme difficulty the line extending from Basel to Luxemburg, which formed the Prussian outposts. A French troop under Delange advanced as far as Aix-la-Chapelle, where they crowned the statue of Charlemagne with a bonnet rouge.