This text is intended for users whose text readers cannot use the "real" (unicode, utf-8) version. Curly quotes and apostrophes have been replaced with the simpler "typewriter" form. A few Greek words in one paragraph have been transliterated and shown between marks.
Forms such as 8^o, 12^o with superscript "o" have been changed to 8vo, 12mo. Typographical errors are listed at the end of the text.]
LAURENCE STERNE IN GERMANY
A Contribution to the Study of the Literary Relations of England and Germany in the Eighteenth Century
HARVEY WATERMAN THAYER, Ph.D.
Sometime Fellow in Germanic Languages and Literatures, Columbia University
Copyright 1905, Columbia University Press, New York
Mr. Thayer has undertaken to write, in detail and from the sources, the history of Sterne's vogue in Germany. As thus broadly defined the task had not before been attempted, although phases of it had been treated, more or less thoroughly, in recent monographs. The work here submitted, the result of careful research in a number of American and European libraries, is in my judgment an interesting and valuable contribution to our knowledge of the literary relations of England and Germany at the time of the great renascence of German letters.
Columbia University, May, 1905.
The following study was begun in the autumn of 1901, and was practically finished now more than a year ago. Since its completion two works of interest to lovers of Sterne have been issued, Czerny's study of Sterne's influence upon Hippel and Jean Paul, awork which the present author had planned as a continuation of this book, and Prof. Cross's new definitive edition of Sterne.
I desire here to express my thanks to Prof. W.H. Carpenter, Prof. Calvin Thomas and Prof. W.P. Trent, under whose guidance my last year of University residence was spent: their interest in my work was generous and unfailing; their admirable scholarship has been and will continue to be an inspiration. Iam indebted to Prof. Carpenter and Prof. Thomas for many helpful suggestions regarding the present work, and the latter especially has given freely of his valuable time to a consideration of my problems. Iam grateful also to several other friends for helpful and kindly service, and to many librarians in this country and in Europe for their courtesy.
NEW YORK, May 1, 1905.
Chapter I. Introduction 1
Chapter II. Sterne in Germany before the Publication of The Sentimental Journey 9
Chapter III. The Publication of The Sentimental Journey 35
Chapter IV. Sterne in Germany after the Publication of The Sentimental Journey 55
Chapter V. Sterne's Influence in Germany 84
Chapter VI. Imitators of Sterne 112
Chapter VII. Opposition to Sterne and His Type of Sentimentalism 156
Chapter VIII. Bibliography 183
The indebtedness of German culture to other peoples has been the theme of much painstaking investigation. The history of German literature is, in large measure, the story of its successive periods of connection with the literatures of other lands, and hence scholars have sought with industry and insight to bound and explain such literary inter-relations.
The latter half of the eighteenth century was a period of predominant English influence. The first half of the century had fostered this ascendency through the popularity of the moral weeklies, the religious epic, and the didactic poetry of Britain. Admiration for English ideals was used as a weapon to combat French dominion in matters of taste, till a kind of Anglomania spread, which was less absolute than the waning Gallomania had been, only in such measure as the nature of the imitated lay nearer the German spirit and hence allowed and cherished a parallel independence rather than demanded utter subjection. Indeed, the study of English masters may be said to have contributed more than any other external cause to the golden age of German letters; to have worked with untold beneficence in bringing faltering Germany to a consciousness of her own inherent possibilities. This fact of foreign awakening of national greatness through kinship of inborn racial characteristics removes the seeming inconsistency that British influence was paramount at the very time of Germany's most individual, most national, outburst.
The German literary world concerned itself zealously with each new development across the channel. The German literary periodicals were diligent and alert in giving their subscribers adequate intelligence concerning new books in England, and various journals devoted exclusively to a retailing of English thought for German readers are by their very existence eloquent testimony to the supreme interest in things British. Through the medium of these literary journals, intelligence concerning British literary interests was disseminated, and the way was thus prepared for the reception of the British authors themselves. Every English writer of eminence, every English literary movement was in some way or other echoed in the literature of the German fatherland. English authors were read in the original, and in numerous and popular translations. AGerman following is a well-nigh certain inference from an English success. Sometimes the growth of German appreciation and imitation was immediate and contemporaneous, or nearly so, with the English interest, as in the case of the German enthusiasm for Bishop Percy's "Reliques." At other times it tarried behind the period of interest in England, and was gradual in its development. The suggestion that a book, especially a novel, was translated from the English was an assurance of its receiving consideration, and many original German novels were published under the guise of English translations. Hermes roguishly avoids downright falsehood, and yet avails himself of this popular trend by describing his "Miss Fanny Wilkes" upon the title page as "So gut als aus dem Englischen bersetzt," and printing "so gut als" in very small type. Mller in a letter to Gleim, dated at Cassel, May 27, 1781, proposes to alter names in Liscow's works and to publish his books as an English translation: "Germany would read him with delight," he says, and Gleim, in his reply, finds the idea "splendid." Out of this one reads clearly how the Germany of that time was hanging on the lips of England.
As has been suggested, conscious or unconscious imitation in the home literature is the unavoidable result of admiration for the foreign; imitation of English masters is written large on this period of German letters. Germany is especially indebted to the stirring impulse of the English novel.
The intellectual development of a people is observable in its successive periods of interest in different kinds of narration, in its attitude toward the relation of fictitious events. The interest in the extraordinary always precedes that in the ordinary; the unstored mind finds pleasure only in the unusual. An appreciation of the absorbing, vital interest of everyday existence is the accomplishment of reflective training, and betokens the spiritualized nature. Yet it must be observed in passing that the crude interest of unschooled ignorance, and undeveloped taste in the grotesque, the monstrous, the unreal, is not the same as the intellectual man's appreciation of the unreal in imagination and fancy. The German novel had passed its time of service under the wild, extraordinary and grotesque. The crudities of such tales of adventure were softened and eliminated by the culturing influence of formal classicism and by a newly won admiration for the everyday element in life, contemporaneous with and dependent upon the gradual appreciation of middle-class worth. At this point the English novel stepped in as a guide, and the gradual shaping of the German novel in the direction of an art-form is due primarily to the prevailing admiration of English models.
The novel has never been a characteristic method of German self-expression, while if any form of literary endeavor can be designated as characteristically English, the novel may claim this distinction; that is, more particularly the novel as distinguished from the romance. "Robinson Crusoe" (1719) united the elements of the extraordinary and the everyday, being the practical, unromantic account of a remarkable situation; and its extensive vogue in Germany, the myriad confessed imitations, may be said to form a kind of transition of interests. In it the commonplace gains interest through the extraordinary situation. Such an awakening assures a certain measure of interest remaining over for the detailed relation of the everyday activities of life, when removed from the exceptional situation. Upon this vantage ground the novel of everyday life was built. Near the mid-century comes another mighty influence from England, Richardson, who brings into the narration of middle-class, everyday existence, the intense analysis of human sensibilities. Richardson taught Germany to remodel her theories of heroism, her whole system of admirations, her conception of deserts. Rousseau's voice from France spoke out a stirring appeal for the recognition of human feelings. Fielding, though attacking Richardson's exaggeration of manner, and opposing him in his excess of emotionalism, yet added a forceful influence still in favor of the real, present and ordinary, as exemplified in the lives of vigorous human beings.
England's leadership in narrative fiction, the superiority of the English novel, especially the humorous novel, which was tacitly acknowledged by these successive periods of imitation, when not actually declared by the acclaim of the critic and the preference of the reading public, has been attributed quite generally to the freedom of life in England and the comparative thraldom in Germany. Gervinus enlarges upon this point, the possibility in Britain of individual development in character and in action as compared with the constraint obtaining in Germany, where originality, banished from life, was permissible only in opinion. His ideas are substantially identical with those expressed many years before in an article in the Neue Bibliothek der schnen Wissenschaften entitled "Ueber die Laune." Lichtenberg in his brief essay, "Ueber den deutschen Roman," is undoubtedly more than half serious in his arraignment of the German novel and his acknowledgment of the English novelist's advantage: the trend of this satirical skit coincides with the opinion above outlined, the points he makes being characteristic of his own humorous bent. That the English sleep in separate apartments, with big chimneys in their bedchambers, that they have comfortable post-chaises with seats facing one another, where all sorts of things may happen, and merry inns for the accommodation of the traveler,—these features of British life are represented as affording a grateful material to the novelist, compared with which German life offers no corresponding opportunity. Humor, as a characteristic element of the English novel, has been felt to be peculiarly dependent upon the fashion of life in Britain. Blankenburg, another eighteenth-century student of German literary conditions, in his treatise on the novel, has similar theories concerning the sterility of German life as compared with English, especially in the production of humorous characters. He asserts theoretically that humor (Laune) should never be employed in a novel of German life, because "Germany's political institutions and laws, and our nice Frenchified customs would not permit this humor." "On the one side," he goes on to say, "is Gothic formality; on the other, frivolity." Later in the volume (p.191) he confines the use of humorous characters to subordinate rles; otherwise, he says, the tendency to exaggeration would easily awaken displeasure and disgust. Yet in a footnote, prompted by some misgiving as to his theory, Blankenburg admits that much is possible to genius and cites English novels where a humorous character appears with success in the leading part; thus the theorist swerves about, and implies the lack of German genius in this regard. Eberhard in his "Handbuch der Aesthetik," in a rather unsatisfactory and confused study of humor, expresses opinions agreeing with those cited above, and states that in England the feeling of independence sanctions the surrender of the individual to eccentric humor: hence England has produced more humorists than all the rest of the world combined. There is, however, at least one voice raised to explain in another way this deficiency of humor in German letters. Acritic in the Bibliothek der schnen Wissenschaften attributes this lack not to want of original characters but to a lack of men like Cervantes, Ben Jonson, Butler, Addison, Fielding.
There is undoubtedly some truth in both points of view, but the defects of the eighteenth century German novel are due in larger measure to the peculiar mental organization of German authorship than to lack of interesting material in German life. The German novel was crushed under the weight of pedantry and pedagogy. Hillebrand strikes the root of the matter when he says, "We are all schoolmasters, even Hippel could not get away from the tutorial attitude." The inborn necessity of German culture is to impart information, to seek recruits for the maintenance of some idea, to exploit some political, educational, or moral theory. This irresistible impulse has left its trail over German fiction. The men who wrote novels, as soon as they began to observe, began to theorize, and the results of this speculation were inevitably embodied in their works. They were men of mind rather than men of deeds, who minimized the importance of action and exaggerated the reflective, the abstract, the theoretical, the inner life of man. Hettner, with fine insight, points to the introduction to "Sebaldus Nothanker" as exhibiting the characteristic of this epoch of fiction. Speculation was the hero's world, and in speculation lay for him the important things of life; he knew not the real world, hence speculation concerning it was his occupation. Consequential connection of events with character makes the English novel the mirror of English life. Failure to achieve such a union makes the German novel a mirror of speculative opinions concerning life.
Hence we have Germany in the mid-eighteenth century prepared to accept and adopt any literary dogma, especially when stamped with an English popularity, which shall represent an interest rather in extraordinary characters and unusual opinions than in astounding adventure; which shall display a knowledge of human feeling and foster the exuberant expression ofit.
Beside the devotees of any literary fashion are those who analyze philosophically the causes, and forecast the probable results of such a following. Thinking Germany became exercised over these facts of successive intellectual and literary dependence, as indicative of national limitations or foreboding disintegration. And thought was accordingly directed to the study of the influence of imitation upon the imitator, the effects of the imitative process upon national characteristics, as well as the causes of imitation, the fundamental occasion for national bondage in matters of life and letters. The part played by Dr. Edward Young's famous epistle to Richardson, "Conjectures on Original Composition" (London, 1759), in this struggle for originality is considerable. The essay was reprinted, translated and made the theme of numerous treatises and discussions. One needs only to mention the concern of Herder, as displayed in the "Fragmente ber die neuere deutsche Litteratur," and his statement with reference to the predicament as realized by thoughtful minds may serve as a summing up of that part of the situation. "Seit der Zeit ist keine Klage lauter and hufiger als ber den Mangel von Originalen, von Genies, von Erfindern, Beschwerden ber die Nachahmungs- und gedankenlose Schreibsucht der Deutschen."
This thoughtful study of imitation itself was accompanied by more or less pointed opposition to the heedless importation of foreign views, and protests, sometimes vigorous and keen, sometimes flimsy and silly, were entered against the slavish imitation of things foreign. Endeavor was turned toward the establishment of independent ideals, and the fostering of a taste for the characteristically national in literature, as opposed to frank imitation and open borrowing.
The story of Laurence Sterne in Germany is an individual example of sweeping popularity, servile admiration, extensive imitation and concomitant opposition.
[Footnote 1: This is well illustrated by the words prefaced to the revived and retitled Frankfurter Gelehrte Anzeigen, which state the purpose of the periodical: "Besonders wird man fr den Liebhaber der englischen Litteratur dahin sorgen, dass ihm kein einziger Artikel, der seiner Aufmerksamkeit wrdig ist, entgehe, und die Preise der englischen Bcher wo mglich allzeit bemerken." (Frankfurter gel. Anz., 1772, No.1, January3.)]
[Footnote 2: Elze, "Die Englische Sprache und Litteratur in Deutschland," gives what purports to be a complete list of these German-English periodicals in chronological order, but he begins his register with Eschenburg's Brittisches Museum fr die Deutschen, 1777-81, thus failing to mention the more significant, because earlier, journals: die Brittische Bibliothek, which appeared first in 1759 in Leipzig, edited by Karl Wilhelm Mller: and Bremisches Magazin zur Ausbreitung der Wissenschaften, Knste und Tugend, Von einigen Liebhabern derselben mehrentheils aus den Englischen Monatsschriften gesammelt und herausgegeben, Bremen and Leipzig, 1757-1766, when the Neues Bremisches Magazin begins.]
[Footnote 3: Briefe deutscher Gelehrten aus Gleim's Nachlass. Bd. II, p.213.]
[Footnote 4: "Geschichte der deutschen Dichtung," V, pp. 184ff. The comparative inferiority of the German novel is discussed by l'Abb Dnina in "La Prusse Littraire sous Frdric II," Berlin, 1791. Vol. I, pp. 112ff. See also Julian Schmidt, "Bilder aus dem geistigen Leben unserer Zeit." Leipzig, 1870. IV, pp. 270ff.]
[Footnote 5: III, pp. 1 ff.]
[Footnote 6: Vermischte Schriften, II, p.215.]
[Footnote 7: "Versuch ber den Roman." Frankfort and Leipzig, 1774, p.528. This study contains frequent allusions to Sterne and occasional quotation from his works, pp. 48, 191, 193, 200, 210, 273, 351, 365, 383, 426.]
[Footnote 8: There is a similar tribute to English humor in "Ueber die moralische Schnheit und Philosophie des Lebens." Altenburg, 1772, p.199. Compare also Herder's opinion in "Ideen zur Geschichte und Kritik der Poesie und bildenden Knste," 1794-96, No. 49, in "Abhandlungen und Briefe ber schne Literatur und Kunst." Tbingen, 1806, I, pp. 375-380; compare also passages in his "Fragmente" and "Wldchen."]
[Footnote 9: Second edition, Halle, 1807, II, pp. 309ff. The definition of humor and the perplexing question as to how far it is identical with "Laune," have received considerable attention at the hands of aesthetic critics; compare, for example, Lessing in the "Hamburgische Dramaturgie."]
[Footnote 10: VII. p. 353. 1761.]
[Footnote 11: "Deutsche Nationalliteratur," II, p.535. Hamburg, 1850.]
[Footnote 12: "Geschichte der deutschen Literatur im achtzehnten Jahrhundert," III,1, pp. 363ff.]
[Footnote 13: See Introduction to "Briefe ber Merkwrdigkeiten der Litteratur" in Seuffert's Deutsche Litteraturdenkmale des 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts. The literature of this study of imitation in the Germany of the second half of the eighteenth century is considerable. The effort of much in the Litteratur-Briefe may be mentioned as contributing to this line of thought. The prize question of the Berlin Academy for 1788 brought forth a book entitled: "Wie kann die Nachahmung sowohl alter als neuer fremden Werke der schnen Wissenschaften des vaterlndischen Geschmack entwickeln und vervollkommnen?" by Joh. Chr. Schwabe, professor in Stuttgart. (Berlin, pp. 120; reviewed in Allg. Litt. Zeitung. 1790. I, pp. 632-640.) Perhaps the first English essay upon German imitation of British masters is that in the Critical Journal, Vol. III, which was considered of sufficient moment for a German translation. See Morgenblatt, I, Nr. 162, July 8, 1807. Awriter in the Auserlesene Bibliothek der neusten deutschen Litteratur (Lemgo, 1772-3), in an article entitled "Vom Zustande des Geschmacks beim deutschen Publikum," traces the tendency to imitate to the German capacity for thinking rather than for feeling. (III, pp. 683ff.) "Das deutsche Publikum," he says, "scheint dazu bestimmt zu seyn, nachzuahmen, nachzuurtheilen, nachzuempfinden." Justus Mser condemns his fellow countrymen soundly for their empty imitation. See fragment published in "Smmtliche Werke," edited by B.R. Abeken. Berlin, 1858. IV, pp. 104-5.]
[Footnote 14: Herder's smmtliche Werke, edited by B.Suphan, Berlin, Weidman, 1877, I, 254. In the tenth fragment (second edition) he says the Germans have imitated other nations, "so dass Nachahmer beinahe zum Beiwort und zur zweiten Sylbe unseres Namens geworden." See II, p.51. Many years later Herder does not seem to view this period of imitation with such regret as the attitude of these earlier criticisms would forecast. In the "Ideen zur Geschichte und Kritik der Poesie und bildenden Knste," 1794-96, he states with a burst of enthusiasm over the adaptability of the German language that he regards imitation as no just reproach, for thereby has Germany become immeasurably the richer.]
[Footnote 15: The kind of praise bestowed on Hermes's "Sophiens Reise" is a case in point; it was greeted as the first real German novel, the traces of English imitation being hardly noticeable. See Magazin der deutschen Critik, Vol. I, St.2, pp. 245-251, 1772, signed "Kl." Sattler's "Friederike" was accorded a similar welcome of German patriotism; see Magazin der deutschen Critik, III, St.1, p.233. The "Litterarische Reise durch Deutschland" (Leipzig, 1786, p.82) calls "Sophiens Reise" the first original German novel. See also the praise of Von Thmmel's "Wilhelmine" and "Sophiens Reise" in Blankenburg's "Versuch ber den Roman," pp. 237-9. Previously Germans had often hesitated to lay the scenes of their novels in Germany, and in many others English characters traveling or residing in Germany supply the un-German element.]
STERNE IN GERMANY BEFORE THE PUBLICATION OF THE SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
It is no exaggeration to assert that the works of Yorick obtained and still retain a relatively more substantial position of serious consideration and recognized merit in France and Germany than in the countries where Sterne's own tongue is spoken. His place among the English classics has, from the foreign point of view, never been a dubious question, amatter of capricious taste and unstable ideals. His peculiar message, whether interpreted and insisted upon with clearness of insight, or blindness of misunderstanding, played its not unimportant part in certain developments of continental literatures, and his station in English literature, as viewed from a continental standpoint, is naturally in part the reflex of the magnitude of his influence in the literature of France and Germany, rather than an estimate obtained exclusively from the actual worth of his own accomplishment, and the nature of his own service as a leader and innovator in English letters.
Sterne's career in German literature, the esteem in which his own works have been held, and the connection between the sentimental, whimsical, contradictory English clergyman and his German imitators have been noted, generally speaking, by all the historians of literature; and several monographs and separate articles have been published on single phases of the theme. As yet, however, save for the investigations which treat only of two or three authors, there has been hardly more than the general statement of the facts, often inadequate, incomplete, and sometimes inexact.
Sterne's period of literary activity falls in the sixties, the very heyday of British supremacy in Germany. The fame of Richardson was hardly dimmed, though Musus ridiculed his extravagances in "Grandison der Zweite" (1760) at the beginning of the decade. In 1762-66 Wieland's Shakespeare translation appeared, and his original works of the period, "Agathon," begun in 1761, and "Don Silvio von Rosalva," published in 1764, betray the influence of both Richardson and Fielding. Ebert (1760—) revised and republished his translation of Young's "Night Thoughts," which had attained popularity in the previous decade. Goldsmith's "Vicar of Wakefield" (1766) aroused admiration and enthusiasm. To this time too belongs Ossian's mighty voice. As early as 1762 the first bardic translations appeared, and Denis's work came out in 1768. Percy's "Reliques," published in England in 1765, were extensively read and cited, astimulating force to parallel German activity. Aselection from the "Reliques" appeared in Gttingen in 1767.
The outlook maintained in Germany for the worthy in British thought, the translatable, the reproducible, was so vigilant and, in general, so discerning that the introduction of Yorick into Germany was all but inevitable. The nature of the literary relations then obtaining and outlined above would forecast and almost necessitate such an adoption, and his very failure to secure recognition would demand an explanation.
Before the publication of Tristram Shandy it would be futile to seek for any knowledge of Sterne on German soil. He had published, as is well known, two sermons preached on occasions of note; and a satirical skit, with kindly purpose, entitled "The History of a Good Warm Watchcoat," had been written, privately circulated, and then suppressed; yet he was an unknown and comparatively insignificant English clergyman residing in a provincial town, far, in those days very far, from those centers of life which sent their enlightenment over the channel to the continent. His fame was purely local. His sermons had, without doubt, rendered the vicar of Sutton a rather conspicuous ecclesiastic throughout that region; his eccentricities were presumably the talk of neighboring parishes; the cathedral town itself probably tittered at his drolleries, and chattered over his sentiments; his social graces undoubtedly found recognition among county families and in provincial society, and his reputation as a wit had probably spread in a vague, uncertain, transitory fashion beyond the boundaries of the county. Yet the facts of local notoriety and personal vogue are without real significance save in the light of later developments; and we may well date his career in the world of books from the year 1760, when the London world began to smile over the first volumes of Tristram Shandy. From internal evidence in these early volumes it is possible to note with some assurance the progress of their composition and the approximate time of their completion. In his wayward, fitful way, and possibly for his own amusement more than with dreams of fame and fortune, Sterne probably began the composition of Shandy in January, 1759, and the completion of the first installment is assigned to the summer or early autumn of that year. At the end of the year the first edition of the first two volumes was issued in York, bearing the imprint of John Hinxham. Dodsley and Cooper undertook the sale of the volumes in London, though the former had declined to be responsible for the publication. They were ready for delivery in the capital on the first day of the new year 1760. Sterne's fame was immediate; his personal triumph was complete and ranks with the great successes in the history of our literature. On his arrival in London in March, the world aristocratic, ecclesiastic, and literary was eager to receive the new favorite, and his career of bewildering social enjoyment, vigorous feasting and noteworthy privilege began. "No one", says Forster, "was so talked of in London this year and no one so admired as the tall, thin, hectic-looking Yorkshire parson." From this time on until his death Sterne was a most conspicuous personage in English society, astriking, envied figure in English letters.
And yet it was some time before Germany learned of the new prodigy: for reasons which will be treated later, the growth of the Sterne cult in Germany was delayed, so that Yorick was in the plenitude of his German fame when England had begun to look askance at him with critical, fault-finding eye, or to accord him the more damning condemnation of forgetfulness.
The first mention of Sterne's name in Germany may well be the brief word in the Hamburgischer unpartheyischer Correspondent for January 19, 1762, in a letter from the regular London correspondent, dated January 8. In a tone of particularity which would mark the introduction of a new and strange personality into his communications, the correspondent states the fact of Sterne's departure for Paris in pursuit of lost health. This journal may further be taken as an example of those which devoted a remarkable amount of space to British affairs, since it was published in the North German seaport town, where the mercantile connection with Britain readily fostered the exchange of other than purely commercial commodities. And yet in Hamburg Sterne waited full two years for a scanty recognition even of his English fame.
In the fourth year after the English publication of Shandy comes the first attempt to transplant Sterne's gallery of originals to German shores. This effort, of rather dubious success, is the Zckert translation of Tristram Shandy, arendering weak and inaccurate, but nevertheless an important first step in the German Shandy cult. Johann Friedrich Zckert, the translator, was born December 19, 1739, and died in Berlin May 1, 1778. He studied medicine at the University of Frankfurt an der Oder, became a physician in Berlin, but, because of bodily disabilities, devoted himself rather to study and society than to the practice of his profession. His publications are fairly numerous and deal principally with medical topics, especially with the question of foods. In the year after the appearance of his Shandy translation, Zckert published an essay which indicates the direction of his tastes and gives a clue to his interest in Tristram. It was entitled "Medizinische und Moralische Abhandlung von den Leidenschaften," and discloses a tendency on the part of the author to an analysis of the passions and moods of man, an interest in the manner of their generation, and the method of their working. This treatise was quite probably written, or conceived, while its author was busied with Shandy, and his division of the temperaments (p.53) into the sanguine or warm moist, the choleric or warm dry, the phlegmatic or cold moist, and the melancholy or cold dry, is not unlike some of Walter Shandy's half-serious, half-jesting scientific theories, though, to be sure, it falls in with much of the inadequate and ill-applied terminology of the time.
Zckert's translation of the first six parts of Tristram Shandy appeared in 1763, and bore the imprint of the publisher Lange, Berlin und Stralsund. The title read "Das Leben und die Meynungen des Herrn Tristram Shandy," the first of the long series of "Leben und Meynungen" which flooded the literature of the succeeding decades, this becoming a conventional title for a novel. It is noteworthy that until the publication of parts VII and VIII in 1765, there is no mention of the real author's name. To these later volumes the translator prefaces a statement which contains some significant intelligence concerning his aim and his interpretation of Sterne's underlying purpose. He says he would never have ventured on the translation of so ticklish a book if he had foreseen the difficulties; that he believed such a translation would be a real service to the German public, and that he never fancied the critics could hold him to the very letter, as in the rendering of a classic author. He confesses to some errors and promises corrections in a possible new edition. He begs the public to judge the translation in accord with its purpose "to delight and enliven the public and to acquaint the Germans with a really wonderful genius." To substantiate his statement relative to the obstacles in his way, he outlines in a few words Sterne's peculiar, perplexing style, as regards both use of language and the arrangement of material. He conceives Sterne's purpose as a desire to expose to ridicule the follies of his countrymen and to incorporate serious truths into the heart of his jesting.
Since the bibliographical facts regarding the subsequent career of this Zckert translation have been variously mangled and misstated, it may be well, though it depart somewhat from the regular chronological order of the narrative, to place this information here in connection with the statement of its first appearance. The translation, as published in 1763, contained only the first six parts of Sterne's work. In 1765 the seventh and eighth parts were added, and in 1767 a ninth appeared, but the latter was a translation of a spurious English original. In 1769, the shrewd publisher began to issue a new and slightly altered edition of the translation, which bore, however, on the title page "nach einer neuen Uebersetzung" and the imprint, Berlin und Stralsund bey Gottlieb August Langen, Parts I and II being dated 1769; Parts III and IV, 1770; Parts V, VI, VII and VIII, 1771; Part IX, 1772. Volumes III-VIII omit Stralsund as a joint place of publication. In 1773, when it became noised abroad that Bode, the successful and honored translator of the Sentimental Journey, was at work upon a German rendering of Shandy, Lange once more forced his wares upon the market, this time publishing the Zckert translation with the use of Wieland's then influential name on the title page, "Auf Anrathen des Hrn. Hofraths Wielands verfasst." Wieland was indignant at this misuse of his name and repudiated all connection with this "new translation." This edition was probably published late in 1773, as Wieland in his review in the Merkur gives it that date, but the volumes themselves bear the date of 1774. We learn from the Merkur (VI. 363) that Zckert was not responsible for the use of Wieland's name.
These are the facts of the case. Meusel in his account of Zckert gives the date of the first edition as 1774, and the second edition is registered but the date is left blank. Jrdens, probably depending on the information given by the review in the Merkur, to which reference is made, assigns 1773 as the date. This edition, as is shown above, is really the third.
This Zckert translation is first reviewed by the above mentioned Hamburgischer unpartheyischer Correspondent in the issue for January 4, 1764. The review, however, was not calculated to lure the German reader of the periodical to a perusal either of the original, or of the rendering in question: it is concerned almost exclusively with a summary of the glaring inaccuracies in the first nineteen pages of the work and with correct translations of the same; and it is in no sense of the word an appreciation of the book. The critic had read Shandy in the original, and had believed that no German hack translator would venture a version in the language of the fatherland. It is a review which shows only the learning of the reviewer, displays the weakness of the translator, but gives no idea of the nature of the book itself, not even a glimpse of the critic's own estimate of the book, save the implication that he himself had understood the original, though many Englishmen even were staggered by its obtuseness and failed to comprehend the subtlety of its allusion. It is criticism in the narrowest, most arrogant sense of the word, destructive instead of informing, blinding instead of illuminating. It is noteworthy that Sterne's name is nowhere mentioned in the review, nor is there a hint of Tristram's English popularity. The author of this unsigned criticism is not to be located with certainty, yet it may well have been Bode, the later apostle of Sterne-worship in Germany. Bode was a resident of Hamburg at this time, was exceptionally proficient in English and, according to Jrdens and Schrder, he was in 1762-3 the editor of the Hamburgischer unpartheyischer Correspondent. The precise date when Bode severed his connection with the paper is indeterminate, yet this, the second number of the new year 1764, may have come under his supervision even if his official connection ended exactly with the close of the old year. To be sure, when Bode ten years later published his own version of Shandy, he translated, with the exception of two rather insignificant cases, none of the passages verbally the same as the reviewer in this journal, but it would be unreasonable to attach any great weight to this fact. Eight or nine years later, when undertaking the monumental task of rendering the whole of Shandy into German, it is not likely that Bode would recall the old translations he had made in this review or concern himself about them. Abrief comparison of the two sets of translations suggests that the critic was striving merely for accuracy in correcting the errors of Zckert, and that Bode in his formal translation shows a riper and more certain feeling for the choice of words; the effect of purposeful reflection is unmistakable. Of course this in no way proves Bode to have been the reviewer, but the indications at least allow the probability.
As was promised in the preface to Parts VII and VIII, to which reference has already been made, the new edition was regarded as an opportunity for correction of errors, but this bettering is accomplished with such manifest carelessness and ignorance as to suggest a further possibility, that the publisher, Lange, eager to avail himself of the enthusiasm for Sterne, which burst out on the publication of the Sentimental Journey, thrust this old translation on the public without providing for thorough revision, or complete correction of flagrant errors. The following quotations will suffice to demonstrate the inadequacy of the revision:
I, p. 6: Well, you may take my word that nine parts in ten of a man's sense or his nonsense,
P. 5: Gut, ich gebe euch mein Wort, dass neun unter zehnmal eines jeden Witz oder Dummheit.
(The second edition replaces "Witz" by "Verstand," which does not alter the essential error of the rendering.)
P. 7: The minutest philosophers.
"Die strengsten Philosophen" remains unchanged in second edition.
P. 7: Being guarded and circumscribed with rights.
P. 3: "Ein Wesen das ebenfalls seine Vorzge hat" is unaltered.
P. 8: A most unaccountable obliquity in the manner of setting up my top.
Meine seltsame Ungeschicklichkeit meinen Kopf zu recht zu machen.
This last astounding translation is retained in the second edition in spite of the reviewers' ridicule, but the most nonsensical of all the renderings, whereby "the momentum of the coach horse was so great" becomes "der Augenblick des Kutschpferdes war so gross" is fortunately corrected.
These examples of slipshod alteration or careless retention contrast quite unfavorably with the attitude of the translator in the preface to parts VII and VIII, in which he confesses to the creeping in of errors in consequence of the perplexities of the rendering, and begs for "reminders and explanations" of this and that passage, thereby displaying an eagerness to accept hints for emendation. This is especially remarkable when it is noted that he has in the second edition not even availed himself of the corrections given in the Hamburgischer unpartheyischer Correspondent, and has allowed some of the most extraordinary blunders to stand. These facts certainly favor the theory that Zckert himself had little or nothing to do with the second edition and its imperfect revision. This supposition finds further evidence in the fact that the ninth part of Shandy, as issued by Lange in the second (1772) and third (1774) editions, was still a translation of the spurious English volume, although the fraud was well known and the genuine volume was read and appreciated. Of this genuine last part Dr. Zckert never made a translation. It may be remarked in passing that a translation bristling with such errors, blunders which at times degrade the text into utter nonsense, could hardly be an efficient one in spreading appreciation of Shandy.
A little more than a year after the review in the Hamburgischer unpartheyischer Correspondent, which has been cited, the Jenaische Zeitungen von gelehrten Sachen in the number dated March 1, 1765, treats Sterne's masterpiece in its German disguise. This is the first mention of Sterne's book in the distinctively literary journals. The tone of this review is further that of an introducer of the new, and the critique is manifestly inserted in the paper as an account of a new book. The reviewer is evidently unaware of the author's name, since the words which accompany the title, from the English, are nowhere elucidated, and no hint of authorship, or popularity in England, or possible far-reaching appeal in Germany is traceable. The idea of the hobby-horse is new to the reviewer and his explanation of it implies that he presumed Sterne's use of the term would be equally novel to the readers of the periodical. His compliment to the translation indicates further that he was unacquainted with the review in the Hamburgischer unpartheyischer Correspondent.
A little more than a year later, June 13, 1766, this same journal, under the caption "London," reviews the Becket and de Hondt four-volume edition of the "Sermons of Mr. Yorick." The critic thinks a warning necessary: "One should not be deceived by the title: the author's name is not Yorick," and then he adds the information of the real authorship. This is a valid indication that, in the opinion of the reviewer, the name Yorick would not be sufficiently linked in the reader's mind with the personality of Sterne and the fame of his first great book, to preclude the possibility, or rather probability, of error. This state of affairs is hardly reconcilable with any widespread knowledge of the first volumes of Shandy. The criticism of the sermons which follows implies, on the reviewer's part, an acquaintance with Sterne, with Tristram, a "whimsical and roguish novel which would in our land be but little credit to a clergyman," and with the hobby-horse idea. The spirit of the review is, however, quite possibly prompted, and this added information supplied, by the London correspondent, and retold only with a savor of familiarity by this critic; for at the end of this communication this London correspondent is credited with the suggestion that quite probably the sermons were never actually preached.
The first mention of Sterne in the Gttingische Gelehrte Anzeigen is in the number for November 15, 1764. In the report from London is a review of the fifth edition of Yorick's Sermons, published by Dodsley in two volumes, 1764. To judge by the tenor of his brief appreciation, the reviewer does not anticipate any knowledge of Sterne whatsoever or of Shandy among the readers of the periodical. He states that the sermons had aroused much interest in England because of their authorship "by Lorenz Sterne, author of Tristram Shandy, abook in which a remarkable humor is exhibited." He mentions also that the sermon on the conscience had already been published in the novel, but is ignorant of its former and first appearance. Three years later, July 20, 1767, the same periodical devotes a long critical review to the four-volume London edition of the sermons. The publisher's name is not given, but it is the issue of Becket and de Hondt. The restating of elementary information concerning authorship is indicative of the tardy progress made by Yorick in these years in gaining recognition in Germany. The reviewer thinks it even necessary to add that Yorick is the name of the clergyman who plays a waggish (possierliche) rle in Shandy, and that Sterne cherished the opinion that this designation on the title-page would be better known than his own name.
In the meantime Swiss piety and Swiss devotion to things English had been instrumental in bringing out a translation of Sterne's sermons, the first volume of which appeared in 1766. The Swiss translation was occasioned by its author's expectation of interest in the sermons as sermons; this is in striking contrast to the motives which led to their original publication in England. The brief preface of the translator gives no information of Sterne, or of Shandy; the translator states his reasons for the rendering, his own interest in the discourses, his belief that such sermons would not be superfluous in Germany, and his opinion that they were written for an increasing class of readers, "who, though possessed of taste and culture and laying claim to probity, yet for various reasons stand apart from moral instruction and religious observance." He also changed the original order of the sermons. The first part of this Swiss translation is reviewed in the Allgemeine deutsche Bibliothek in the first number of 1768, and hence before the Sentimental Journey had seen the light even in London. The review is characterized by unstinted praise: Sterne is congratulated upon his deviation from the conventional in homiletical discourse, is commended as an excellent painter of moral character and situations, though he abstains from the use of the common engines of eloquence. His narrative powers are also noted with approval and his ability to retain the attention of his hearers through clever choice of emphasized detail is mentioned with appreciation. Yet in all this no reference is made to Sterne's position in English letters, afact which could hardly have failed of comment, if the reviewer had been aware of it, especially in view of the relation of Sterne's popularity to the very existence of this published volume of sermons, or if it had been expected that the fact of authorship would awaken interest in any considerable number of readers. The tone of the review is further hardly reconcilable with a knowledge of Sterne's idiosyncrasies as displayed in Shandy. Abrief consideration of the principles of book-reviewing would establish the fact indisputably that the mentioning of a former book, some hint of familiarity with the author by open or covert allusion, is an integral and inevitable part of the review of a later book. This review is the only mention of Sterne in this magazine before the publication of the Sentimental Journey. Acomparison of this recension, narrow in outlook, bound, as it is, to the very book under consideration, with those of the second and third volumes of the sermons in the same magazine during the year 1770, is an illuminating illustration of the sweeping change brought in by the Journey. In the latter critique we find appreciation of Yorick's characteristics, enthusiastic acceptation of his sentiment, fond and familiar allusions to both Shandy and the Sentimental Journey. In the brief space of two years Sterne's sentimentalism had come into its own.
The Bremisches Magazin, which was employed largely in publishing translations from English periodicals, and contained in each number lists, generally much belated, of new English books, noted in the third number for 1762, among the new books from April to December, 1760, Mr. Yorick's Sermons, published by Mr. Sterne, and then, as customary in these catalogues, translated the title into "Herrn Yorick's Predigten ans Licht gestellt von Hn. Sterne." Four years later, in the first volume of the Neues Bremisches Magazin, announcement is made of the third and fourth volumes of Yorick's Sermons. During this period sufficient intelligence concerning Sterne is current to warrant the additional statement that "This Mr. Sterne, the author of the strange book, Tristram Shandy, is the author himself." The notice closes with the nave but astounding information, "He took the name Yorick because he is a preacher in York; furthermore, these sermons are much praised." No further proof is needed that this reviewer was guiltless of any knowledge of Shandy beyond the title. The ninth volume of Shandy is announced in the same number among the new English books.
In 1767, the year before the publication of the Sentimental Journey, we find three notices of Tristram Shandy. In the Deutsche Bibliothek der schnen Wissenschaften is a very brief but, in the main, commendatory review of the Zckert translation, coupled with the statement that the last parts are not by Sterne, but with the claim that the humor of the original is fairly well maintained. The review is signed "Dtsh." Another Halle periodical, the Hallische Neue Gelehrte Zeitungen, in the issue for August 10, 1767 reviews the same volumes with a much more decided acknowledgment of merit. It is claimed that the difference is not noticeable, and that the ninth part is almost more droll than all the others, an opinion which is noteworthy testimony to its originator's utter lack of comprehension of the whole work and of the inanity of this spurious last volume. The statement by both of these papers that the last three volumes, parts VII, VIII and IX, of the Zckert translation, rest on spurious English originals, is, of course, false as far as VII and VIII are concerned, and is true only ofIX.
In the Neue Bibliothek der schnen Wissenschaften, the last number for 1766 contains the first mention of Sterne's name in this representative literary periodical. It is an article entitled "Ueber die Laune," which is concerned with the phenomena of hypochrondia and melancholia, considered as illnesses, and their possible cure. The author claims to have found a remedy in the books which do not depress the spirits with exhibition of human woes, but which make merry over life's follies. In this he claims merely to be following the advice of St. Evremond to the Count of Olonne. His method he further explains by tracing humor to its beginnings in Aristophanes and by following its development through Latin, new Latin (Erasmus, Thomas Morus, etc.), French and English writers. Among the latter Sterne is named. Unfortunately for the present purpose, the author is led by caution and fear of giving the offense of omission to refrain from naming the German writers who might be classed with the cited representatives of humor. In closing, he recommends heartily to those teased with melancholy a "portion of leaves of Lucian, some half-ounces of 'Don Quixote' or some drachms of 'Tom Jones' or 'Tristram Shandy.'" Under the heading, "New English Books," in the third number of the same periodical for 1767, is a brief but significant notice of the ninth volume of Tristram Shandy. "The ninth part of the well-known 'Life of Tristram Shandy' has been published; we would not mention it, if we did not desire on this occasion to note at least once in our magazine a book which is incontestably the strangest production of wit and humor which has ever been brought forth. ... The author of this original book is a clergyman by the name of Sterne, who, under his Harlequin's name, Yorick, has given to the world the most excellent sermons." The review contains also a brief word of comparison with Rabelais and a quotation from an English critic expressing regret at Yorick's embroidering "the choicest flowers of genius on a paultry groundwork of buffoonry." This late mention of Sterne's great novel, and the manner in which it is made are not without their suggestions as to the attitude even of the German literary world toward Yorick. The notice is written in a tone of forced condescension. The writer is evidently compelled, as representative of British literary interests, to bear witness to the Shandy craze, but the attitude of the review is plainly indicative of its author's disbelief in any occasion for especial concern about Yorick in Germany. Sterne himself is mentioned as a fitful whim of British taste, and a German devotion to him is beyond the flight of fancy.
Individual authors, aware of international literary conditions, the inner circle of German culture, became acquainted with Tristram Shandy during this period before the publication of the Sentimental Journey and learned to esteem the eccentric parson. Bode's possible acquaintance with the English original previous to 1764 has been already noted. Lessing's admiration for Sterne naturally is associated with his two statements of remarkable devotion to Yorick, both of which, however, date from a period when he had already become acquainted with the Journey. At precisely what time Lessing first read Tristram Shandy it is impossible to determine with accuracy. Moses Mendelssohn writes to him in the summer of 1763: "Tristram Shandy is a work of masterly originality. At present, to be sure, Ihave read only the first two volumes. In the beginning the book vexed me exceedingly. Irambled on from digression to digression without grasping the real humor of the author. Iregarded him as a man like our Liscow, whom, as you know, Idon't particularly fancy; and yet the book pleases Lessing!" This is sufficient proof that Mendelssohn first read Shandy early in 1763, but, though not improbable, it is yet rather hazardous to conclude that Lessing also had read the book shortly before, and had just recommended it to his friend. The literary friendship existing between them, and the general nature of their literary relations and communications, would rather favor such a hypothesis. The passage is, however, asignificant confession of partial failure on the part of the clever and erudite Mendelssohn to appreciate Sterne's humor. It has been generally accepted that Lessing's dramatic fragment, "Die Witzlinge," included two characters modeled confessedly after Yorick's familiar personages, Trim and Eugenius. Boxberger and others have stamped such a theory with their authority. If this were true, "Die Witzlinge" would undoubtedly be the first example of Sterne's influence working directly upon the literary activity of a German author. The fragment has, however, nothing to do with Tristram Shandy, and a curious error has here crept in through the remarkable juxtaposition of names later associated with Sterne. The plan is really derived directly from Shadwell's "Bury Fair" with its "Mr. Trim" fancifully styled "Eugenius." Those who tried to establish the connection could hardly have been familiar with Tristram Shandy, for Lessing's Trim as outlined in the sketch has nothing in common with the Corporal.
Erich Schmidt, building on a suggestion of Lichtenstein, found a "Dosis Yorikscher Empfindsamkeit" in Tellheim, and connected the episode of the Chevalier de St. Louis with the passage in "Minna von Barnhelm" (II,2) in which Minna contends with the innkeeper that the king cannot know all deserving men nor reward them. Such an identity of sentiment must be a pure coincidence for "Minna von Barnhelm" was published at Easter, 1767, nearly a year before the Sentimental Journey appeared.
A connection between Corporal Trim and Just has been suggested, but no one has by investigation established such a kinship. Both servants are patterns of old-fashioned fidelity, types of unquestioning service on the part of the inferior, arelation which existed between Orlando and Adam in "As You Like It," and which the former describes:
"O good old man, how well in thee appears The constant service of the antique world, When service sweat for duty, not for meed; Thou art not for the fashion of these times."
Tellheim recognizes the value of Just's service, and honors his subordinate for his unusual faithfulness; yet there exists here no such cordial comradeship as marked the relation between Sterne's originals. But one may discern the occasion of this in the character of Tellheim, who has no resemblance to Uncle Toby, rather than in any dissimilarity between the characters of the servants. The use of the relation between master and man as a subject for literary treatment was probably first brought into fashion by Don Quixote, and it is well-nigh certain that Sterne took his cue from Cervantes.
According to Erich Schmidt, the episode of Just's dog, as the servant relates it in the 8th scene of the 1st act, could have adorned the Sentimental Journey, but the similarity of motif here in the treatment of animal fidelity is pure coincidence. Certainly the method of using the episode is not reminiscent of any similar scene in Sterne. Just's dog is not introduced for its own sake, nor like the ass at Nampont to afford opportunity for exciting humanitarian impulses, and for throwing human character into relief by confronting it with sentimental possibilities, but for the sake of a forceful, telling and immediate comparison. Lessing was too original a mind, and at the time when "Minna" was written, too complete and mature an artist to follow another slavishly or obviously, except avowedly under certain conditions and with particular purpose. He himself is said to have remarked, "That must be a pitiful author who does not borrow something once in a while," and it does not seem improbable that the figure of Trim was hovering in his memory while he was creating his Just. Especially does this seem plausible when we remember that Lessing wrote his drama during the years when Shandy was appearing, when he must have been occupied with it, and at the first flush of his admiration.
This supposition, however undemonstrable, is given some support by our knowledge of a minor work of Lessing, which has been lost. On December 28, 1769, Lessing writes to Ebert from Hamburg: "Alberti is well; and what pleases me about him, as much as his health, is that the news of his reconciliation with Goeze was a false report. So Yorick will probably preach and send his sermon soon." And Ebert replies in a letter dated at Braunschweig, January 7, 1770, expressing a desire that Lessing should fulfil his promise, and cause Yorick to preach not once but many times. The circumstance herein involved was first explained by Friedrich Nicolai in an article in the Berlinische Monatsschrift, 1791. As a trick upon his friend Alberti, who was then in controversy with Goeze, Lessing wrote a sermon in Yorick's manner; the title and part of the introduction to it were privately printed by Bode and passed about among the circle of friends, as if the whole were in press. We are entirely dependent on Nicolai's memory for our information relative to this sole endeavor on Lessing's part to adopt completely the manner of Sterne. Nicolai asserts that this effort was a complete success in the realization of Yorick's simplicity, his good-natured but acute philosophy, his kindly sympathy and tolerance, even his merry whimsicality.
This introduction, which Nicolai claims to have recalled essentially as Lessing wrote it, relates the occasion of Yorick's writing the sermon. Uncle Toby and Trim meet a cripple in a ragged French uniform; Capt. Shandy gives the unfortunate man several shillings, and Trim draws out a penny and in giving it says, "French Dog!" The narrative continues:
"The Captain was silent for some seconds and then said, turning to Trim, 'It is a man, Trim, and not a dog!' The French veteran had hobbled after them: at the Captain's words Trim gave him another penny, saying again 'French Dog!' 'And, Trim, the man is a soldier.' Trim stared him in the face, gave him a penny again and said, 'French Dog!' 'And, Trim, he is a brave soldier; you see he has fought for his fatherland and has been sorely wounded.' Trim pressed his hand, while he gave him another penny, and said 'French Dog!' 'And, Trim, this soldier is a good but unfortunate husband, and has a wife and four little children.' Trim, with a tear in his eye, gave all he had left and said, rather softly, 'French Dog!'"
This scene recalls vividly the encounter between Just and the landlord in the first act of "Minna," the passage in which Just continues to assert that the landlord is a "Grobian." There are the same tactics, the same persistence, the same contrasts. The passage quoted was, of course, written after "Minna," but from it we gather evidence that Corporal Trim and his own Just were similar creations, that to him Corporal Trim, when he had occasion to picture him, must needs hark back to the figure of Just, acharacter which may well originally have been suggested by Capt. Shandy's faithful servant.
Among German literati, Herder is another representative of acquaintance with Sterne and appreciation of his masterpiece. Haym implies that Sterne and Swift are mentioned more often than any other foreign authors in Herder's writings of the Riga period (November, 1764, to May, 1769). This would, of course, include the first fervor of enthusiasm concerning the Sentimental Journey, and would be a statement decidedly doubtful, if applied exclusively to the previous years. In a note-book, possibly reaching back before his arrival in Riga to his student days in Knigsberg, Herder made quotations from Shandy and Don Quixote, possibly preparatory notes for his study of the ridiculous in the Fourth Wldchen. In May, 1766, Herder went to Mitau to visit Hamann, and he designates the account of the events since leaving there as "ein Capitel meines Shandyschen Romans" and sends it as such to "my uncle, Tobias Shandy." Later a letter, written 27-16, August, 1766, is begun with the heading, "Herder to Hamann and no more Yorick to Tobias Shandy," in which he says: "Iam now in a condition where I can play the part of Yorick as little as Panza that of Governor." The same letter contains another reference and the following familiar allusion to Sterne: "Grsen Sie Trim, wenn ich gegen keinen den beleidigenden Karakter Yoriks oder leider! das Schicksal wider Willen zu beleidigen, habe, so ist's doch gegen ihn und Hartknoch." These last quotations are significant as giving proof that Shandy had so far forced its claims upon a little set of book-lovers in the remote east, Herder, Hamann and a few others, that they gave one another in play names from the English novel. Aletter from Hamann to Herder, dated Knigsberg, June 10, 1767, indicates that the former shared also the devotion to Sterne.
In the first collection of "Fragmente ber die neuere deutsche Litteratur," 1767, the sixth section treats of the "Idiotismen" of a language. British "Laune" is cited as such an untranslatable "Idiotism" and the lack of German humorists is noted, and Swift is noted particularly as an English example. In the second and revised edition Herder adds material containing allusion to Hudibras and Tristram. The first and second "Kritische Wldchen" contain several references to Sterne and Shandy. Herder, curiously enough, did not read the Sentimental Journey until the autumn of 1768, as is disclosed in a letter to Hamann written in November, which also shows his appreciation of Sterne. "An Sterne's Laune," he says, "kann ich mich nicht satt lesen. Eben den Augenblick, da ich an ihn denke, bekomme ich seine Sentimental Journey zum Durchlesen, und wenn nicht meine Englische Sprachwissenschaft scheitert, wie angenehm werde ich mit ihm reisen. Ich bin an seine Sentiments zum Theil schon so gewhnt, sie bis in das weiche innere Mark seiner Menschheit in ihren zarten Fden zu verfolgen: dass ich glaube seinen Tristram etwas mehr zu verstehn als the common people. Nur um so mehr rgern mich auch seine verfluchten Suereien und Zweideutigkeiten, die das Buch wenigerer Empfehlung fhig machen als es verdient." We learn from the same letter that Herder possessed the sermons of Yorick in the Zrich translation. Herder's own homiletical style during this period, as evinced by the sermons preserved to us, betrays no trace of Sterne's influence.
Riedel, in his "Theorie der schnen Knste und Wissenschaften," shows appreciation of Shandy complete and discriminating, previous to the publication of the Sentimental Journey. This book is a sort of compendium, aseries of rather disconnected chapters, woven together out of quotations from aesthetic critics, examples and comment. In the chapter on Similarity and Contrast he contends that a satirist only may transgress the rule he has just enunciated: "When a perfect similarity fails of its effect, atoo far-fetched, atoo ingenious one, is even less effective," and in this connection he quotes from Tristram Shandy a passage describing the accident to Dr. Slop and Obadiah. Riedel translates the passage himself. The chapter "Ueber die Laune" contains two more references to Shandy. In a volume dated 1768 and entitled "Ueber das Publikum: Briefe an einige Glieder desselben," written evidently without knowledge of the Journey, Riedel indicates the position which Shandy had in these years won for itself among a select class. Riedel calls it a contribution to the "Register" of the human heart and states that he knows people who claim to have learned more psychology from this novel than from many thick volumes in which the authors had first killed sentiment in order then to dissect it at leisure.
Early in 1763, one finds an appreciative knowledge of Shandy as a possession of a group of Swiss literati, but probably confined to a coterie of intellectual aristocrats and novelty-seekers. Julie von Bondeli writes to Usteri from Koenitz on March 10, 1763, that Kirchberger will be able to get him the opportunity to read Tristram Shandy as a whole, that she herself has read two volumes with surprise, emotion and almost constant bursts of laughter; she goes on to say: "Il voudrait la peine d'apprendre l'anglais ne fut-ce que pour lire cet impayable livre, dont la vrit et le gnie se fait sentir chaque ligne au travers de la plus originelle plaisanterie." Zimmermann was a resident of Brugg, 1754-1768, and was an intimate friend of Frulein von Bondeli. It may be that this later enthusiastic admirer of Sterne became acquainted with Shandy at this time through Frulein von Bondeli, but their correspondence, covering the years 1761-1775, does not discloseit.
Dr. Carl Behmer, who has devoted an entire monograph to the study of Wieland's connection with Sterne, is of the opinion, and his proofs seem conclusive, that Wieland did not know Shandy before the autumn of 1767, that is, only a few months before the publication of the Journey. But his enthusiasm was immediate. The first evidence of acquaintance with Sterne, aletter to Zimmermann (November 13, 1767), is full of extravagant terms of admiration and devotion. One is naturally reminded of his similar extravagant expressions with reference to the undying worth of Richardson's novels. Sterne's life philosophy fitted in with Wieland's second literary period, the frivolous, sensuous, epicurean, even as the moral meanderings of Richardson agreed with his former serious, religious attitude. Probably soon after or while reading Shandy, Wieland conceived the idea of translating it. The letter which contains this very first mention of Sterne also records Wieland's regret that the Germans can read this incomparable original only in so wretched a translation, which implies a contemporary acquaintance with Dr. Zckert's rendering. This regret may well have been the foundation of his own purpose of translating the book; and knowledge of this seems to have been pretty general among German men of letters at the time. Though the account of this purpose would bring us into a time when the Sentimental Journey was in every hand, it may be as well to complete what we have to say of it here.
His reason for abandoning the idea, and the amount of work done, the length of time he spent upon the project, cannot be determined from his correspondence and must, as Behmer implies, be left in doubt. But several facts, which Behmer does not note, remarks of his own and of his contemporaries, point to more than an undefined general purpose on his part; it is not improbable that considerable work was done. Wieland says incidentally in his Teutscher Merkur, in a review of the new edition of Zckert's translation: "Vor drei Jahren, da er (Lange) mich bat, ihm die Uebersetzung des Tristram mit der ich damals umgieng, in Verlag zu geben." Herder asks Nicolai in a letter dated Paris, November 30, 1769, "What is Wieland doing, is he far along with his Shandy?" And in August, 1769, in a letter to Hartknoch, he mentions Wieland's Tristram among German books which he longs to read.
The Jenaische Zeitungen von Gelehrten Sachen for December 18, 1769, in mentioning this new edition of Zckert's translation, states that Wieland has now given up his intention, but adds: "Perhaps he will, however, write essays which may fill the place of a philosophical commentary upon the whole book." That Wieland had any such secondary purpose is not elsewhere stated, but it does not seem as if the journal would have published such a rumor without some foundation in fact. It may be possibly a resurrection of his former idea of a defense of Tristram as a part of the "Litteraturbriefe" scheme which Riedel had proposed. This general project having failed, Wieland may have cherished the purpose of defending Tristram independently of the plan. Or this may be a reviewer's vague memory of a former rumor of plan.
It is worth noting incidentally that Gellert does not seem to have known Sterne at all. His letters, for example, to Demoiselle Lucius, which begin October 22, 1760, and continue to December 4, 1769, contain frequent references to other English celebrities, but none to Sterne.
The first notice of Sterne's death is probably that in the Adress-Comptoir-Nachrichten of Hamburg in the issue of April 6, 1768, not three weeks after the event itself. The brief announcement is a comparison with Cervantes. The Gttingische Gelehrte Anzeigen chronicles the death of Yorick, August 29, 1768.
Though published in England from 1759-67, Tristram Shandy seems not to have been reprinted in Germany till the 1772 edition of Richter in Altenburg, ayear later indeed than Richter's reprint of the Sentimental Journey. The colorless and inaccurate Zckert translation, as has already been suggested, achieved no real popular success and won no learned recognition. The reviews were largely silent or indifferent to it, and, apart from the comparatively few notices already cited, it was not mentioned by any important literary periodical until after its republication by Lange, when the Sentimental Journey had set all tongues awag with reference to the late lamented Yorick. None of the journals indicate any appreciation of Sterne's especial claim to recognition, nor see in the fatherland any peculiar receptiveness to his appeal. In short, the foregoing accumulation of particulars resolves itself into the general statement, easily derived from the facts stated: Sterne's position in the German world of letters is due primarily to the Sentimental Journey. Without its added impulse Shandy would have hardly stirred the surface of German life and thought. The enthusiasm even of a few scholars whose learning and appreciation of literature is international, the occasional message of uncertain understanding, of doubtful approbation, or of rumored popularity in another land, are not sufficient to secure a general interest and attentiveness, much less a literary following. The striking contrast between the essential characteristics of the two books is a sufficient and wholly reasonable occasion for Germany's temporary indifference to the one and her immediate welcome for the other. Shandy is whimsicality touched with sentiment. The Sentimental Journey is the record of a sentimental experience, guided by the caprice of a whimsical will. Whimsicality is a flower that defies transplanting; when once rooted in other soil it shoots up into obscurity, masquerading as profundity, or pure silliness without reason or a smile. The whimsies of one language become amazing contortions in another. The humor of Shandy, though deep-dyed in Sterne's own eccentricity, is still essentially British and demands for its appreciation a more extensive knowledge of British life in its narrowest, most individual phases, amore intensive sympathy with British attitudes of mind than the German of the eighteenth century, save in rare instances, possessed. Bode asserts in the preface to his translation of the Sentimental Journey that Shandy had been read by a good many Germans, but follows this remark with the query, "How many have understood it?" "One finds people," he says, "who despise it as the most nonsensical twaddle, and cannot comprehend how others, whom they must credit with a good deal of understanding, wit, and learning, think quite otherwise of it," and he closes by noting the necessity that one be acquainted with the follies of the world, and especially of the British world, to appreciate the novel. He refers unquestionably to his own circle of literati in Hamburg, who knew Tristram and cared for it, and to others of his acquaintance less favored with a knowledge of things English. The Sentimental Journey presented no inscrutable mystery of purposeful eccentricity and perplexing personality, but was written large in great human characters which he who ran might read. And Germany was ready to give it a welcome.
[Footnote 1: A reviewer in the Frankfurter Gel. Anz., as early as 1774, asserts that Sterne had inspired more droll and sentimental imitations in Germany than even in England. (Apr.5, 1774.)]
[Footnote 2: See Bibliography for list of books giving more or less extended accounts of Sterne's influence.]
[Footnote 3: Sterne did, to be sure, assert in a letter (Letters, I, p.34) that he wrote "not to be fed but to be famous." Yet this was after this desire had been fulfilled, and, as the expression agrees with the tone and purpose of the letter in which it is found, it does not seem necessary to place too much weight upon it. It is very probable in view of evidence collected later that Sterne began at least to write Tristram as a pastime in domestic misfortune. The thirst for fame may have developed in the progress of the composition.]
[Footnote 4: Fitzgerald says "end of December," Vol. I, p.116, and the volumes were reviewed in the December number of the Monthly Review, 1759 (Vol. XXI, pp. 561-571), though without any mention of the author's name. This review mentions no other publisher than Cooper.]
[Footnote 5: Quoted by Fitzgerald, Vol. I, p.126.]
[Footnote 6: The full title of this paper was Staats- und gelehrte Zeitung des Hamburgischen unpartheyischen Correspondenten.]
[Footnote 7: Meusel: Lexicon der vom Jahr 1750 bis 1800 verstorbenen teutschen Schriftsteller. Bd. XV. (Leipzig bey Fleischer) 1816, pp, 472-474.]
[Footnote 8: Berlin, bei August Mylius. 1764.]
[Footnote 9: Behmer (L. Sterne und C. M. Wieland, p.15) seems to be unaware of the translations of the following parts, and of the authorship.]
[Footnote 10: This attempt to supply a ninth volume of Tristram Shandy seems to have been overlooked. Aspurious third volume is mentioned in the Natl. Dict. of Biography and is attributed to John Carr. This ninth volume is however noticed in the London Magazine, 1766, p.691, with accompanying statement that it is "not by the author of the eight volumes." The genuine ninth volume is mentioned and quoted in this magazine in later issues, 1767, p.78, 206.]
[Footnote 11: This edition is reviewed also in Almanach der deutschen Musen, 1774, p.97.]
[Footnote 12: "Kein Deutscher, welcher das Uebersetzen aus fremden Sprachen als ein Handwerk ansieht."]
[Footnote 13: I, p. 111.]
[Footnote 14: "Lexicon der Hamburgischen Schriftsteller," Hamburg, 1851-1883.]
[Footnote 15: Tristram Shandy, I, p. 107, and Zckert's translation, I, p.141.]
[Footnote 16: In this review and in the announcement of Sterne's death, this periodical refers to him as the Dean of York, adistinction which Sterne never enjoyed.]
[Footnote 17: 1767, p. 691. The reference is given in the Register to 1753-1782 erroneously as p.791.]
[Footnote 18: "Predigten von Laurenz Sterne oder Yorick." Zrich, bey Fuesslin & Comp, 1766-69.3 vols.]
[Footnote 19: The Allgemeine deutsche Bibliothek was founded in 1765.]
[Footnote 20: XII, 1, pp. 210-211 and 2, p.202.]
[Footnote 21: For full title see Bibliography.]
[Footnote 22: Vol. I, p. 460.]
[Footnote 23: Edited by Klotz and founded in 1767, published at Halle by J.J. Gebauer. Vol.I, Part2, p.183.]
[Footnote 24: Vol. II, p. 500.]
[Footnote 25: The former says merely "the last parts", the latter designates "the last three."]
[Footnote 26: III, 1, pp. 1 ff.]
[Footnote 27: This article is not to be confused with Garve's well-known article published in the same magazine, LXI, pp. 51-77 (1798).]
[Footnote 28: IV, St. 2, pp. 376-7.]
[Footnote 29: This is from the February number, 1767, of the Monthly Review. (Vol. XXXVI, p.102.)]
[Footnote 30: The seventh and eighth volumes of Shandy, English edition, are reviewed in the first number of a short-lived Frankfurt periodical, Neue Auszge aus den besten auslndischen Wochen und Monatsschriften, 1765. Unterhaltungen, amagazine published at Hamburg and dealing largely with English interests, notes the London publication of the spurious ninth volume of Shandy (Vol. II, p.152, August, 1766). Die Brittische Bibliothek, another magazine consisting principally of English reprints and literary news, makes no mention of Sterne up to 1767. Then in a catalogue of English books sold by Casper Fritsch in Leipzig, Shandy is given, but without the name of the author. There is an account of Sterne's sermons in the Neue Hamburgische Zeitung, April, 1768.]
[Footnote 31: Mendelssohn's Schriften, edited by Prof. Dr. G.B. Mendelssohn. Leipzig, Brockhaus, 1844. Vol. V, p.171.]
[Footnote 32: Krschner edition of Lessing's works, III,2, pp. 156-157. See also "Lessing und die Englnder" by Josef Caro in Euphorion, VI, pp. 489ff. Erich Schmidt made the statement in his life of Lessing in the edition of 1884, but corrected it later, in the edition of 1899, probably depending on parallel passages drawn from Paul Albrecht's "Lessing's Plagiate" (Hamburg and Leipzig, 1888-1891), an extraordinary work which by its frequent absurdity and its viciousness of attack forfeits credence in its occasional genuine discoveries.]
[Footnote 33: Lessing. "Geschichte seines Lebens und seiner Schriften." Berlin, 1884, I, pp. 174, 465. This is omitted in the latest edition.]
[Footnote 34: Perry (Thomas Sargeant) "From Opitz to Lessing." Boston, 1885, p.162.]
[Footnote 35: Quoted by Lichtenberg in "Gttingischer Taschenkalender," 1796, p.191. "Vermischte Schriften," VI, p.487.]
[Footnote 36: Lachmann edition, Berlin, 1840. Vol. XII, p.240.]
[Footnote 37: XIII, pp. 209-10.]
[Footnote 38: XVII, pp. 30-45. The article is reprinted in the Hempel edition of Lessing, XVII, pp. 263-71.]
[Footnote 39: Nicolai uses the German word for colonel, atitle which Uncle Toby never bore.]
[Footnote 40: R. Haym. "Herder nach seinem Leben und seinen Werken." I, p.413.]
[Footnote 41: Haym, I, p. 261.]
[Footnote 42: Herder's "Briefe an Joh. Georg Hamann," ed. by Otto Hoffmann, Berlin, 1889, p.25, or "Lebensbild" II, p.140.]
[Footnote 43: "Briefe an Hamann," p. 27.]
[Footnote 44: Lebensbild II (I, 2), p. 256; also in Hamann's Schriften, ed. by Roth. Berlin, 1822, III, p.372. Hamann asks Herder to remind his publisher, when the latter sends the promised third part of the "Fragmente," to inclose without fail the engraving of Sterne, because the latter is absolutely essential to his furnishings.]
[Footnote 45: See Suphan I, p. 163; II, p.46.]
[Footnote 46: Suphan III, pp. 170, 223, 233, 277, 307.]
[Footnote 47: Briefe an Hamann, p. 49.]
[Footnote 48: . . . . in Auszug aus den Werken verschiedener Schriftsteller von Friedrich Just Riedel, Jena, 1767. The chapter cited is pp. 137ff.]
[Footnote 49: I, p. 106.]
[Footnote 50: Pp. 91-96; see also p. 331.]
[Footnote 51: Pp. 118-120, or Smmtliche Schriften, Wien, 1787, 4ter Th., 4ter Bd., p.133. Areview with quotation of this criticism of Shandy is found in the Deutsche Bibliothek der schnen Wissenschaften, II, p.659, but after the publication of the Mittelstedt translation of the Sentimental Journey had been reviewed in the same periodical.]
[Footnote 52: See "Julie von Bondeli und ihr Freundeskreis," von Eduard Bodemann. Hannover, 1874.]
[Footnote 53: Nicholas Ant. Kirchberger, the Swiss statesman and philosopher, the friend of Rousseau.]
[Footnote 54: Behmer, "Laurence Sterne und C.M. Wieland," pp. 15-17.]
[Footnote 55: "Ausgewhlte Briefe," Bd. II, p.285f. Zrich, 1815.]
[Footnote 56: V, pp. 345-6. 1774.]
[Footnote 57: See Lebensbild, V, p. 107 and p.40.]
[Footnote 58: 1769, p. 840.]
[Footnote 59: See Behmer, p. 24, and the letter to Riedel, October 26, 1768, Ludwig Wielands Briefsammlung. I, p.232.]
[Footnote 60: P. 856.]
[Footnote 61: These two aspects of the Sterne cult in Germany will be more fully treated later. The historians of literature and other investigators who have treated Sterne's influence in Germany have not distinguished very carefully the difference between Sterne's two works, and the resulting difference between the kind and amount of their respective influences. Appell, however, interprets the condition correctly and assigns the cause with accuracy and pointedness. ("Werther und seine Zeit." p.246). The German critics repeat persistently the thought that the imitators of Sterne remained as far away from the originals as the Shakespeare followers from the great Elizabethan. See Gervinus, Geschichte der deutschen Dichtung, I, 184; Hettner, "Geschichte der deutschen Literatur im 18. Jahrhundert," III,1, p.362; Hofer, "Deutsche Litteraturgeschichte," p.150.]
THE PUBLICATION OF THE SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
On February 27, 1768, the Sentimental Journey was published in London, less than three weeks before the author's death, and the book was at once transplanted to German soil, beginning there immediately its career of commanding influence and wide-spread popularity.
Several causes operated together in favoring its pronounced and immediate success. Aknowledge of Sterne existed among the more intelligent lovers of English literature in Germany, the leaders of thought, whose voice compelled attention for the understandable, but was powerless to create appreciation for the unintelligible among the lower ranks of readers. This knowledge and appreciation of Yorick were immediately available for the furtherance of Sterne's fame as soon as a work of popular appeal was published. The then prevailing interest in travels is, further, not to be overlooked as a forceful factor in securing immediate recognition for the Sentimental Journey. At no time in the world's history has the popular interest in books of travel, containing geographical and topographical description, and information concerning peoples and customs, been greater than during this period. The presses teemed with stories of wanderers in known and unknown lands. The preface to the Neue Zeitungen von Gelehrten Sachen of Leipzig for the year 1759 heralds as a matter of importance a gain in geographical description. The Jenaische Zeitungen von Gelehrten Sachen, 1773, makes in its tables of contents, aseparate division of travels. In 1759, also, the "Allgemeine Historie der Reisen zu Wasser und zu Lande" (Leipzig, 1747-1774), reached its seventeenth volume. These are brief indications among numerous similar instances of the then predominant interest in the wanderer's experience. Sterne's second work of fiction, though differing in its nature so materially from other books of travel, may well, even if only from the allurement of its title, have shared the general enthusiasm for the traveler's narrative. Most important, however, is the direct appeal of the book itself, irresistible to the German mind and heart. Germany had been for a decade hesitating on the verge of tears, and grasped with eagerness a book which seemed to give her British sanction for indulgence in her lachrymose desire.
The portion of Shandy which is virtually a part of the Sentimental Journey, which Sterne, possibly to satisfy the demands of the publisher, thrust in to fill out volumes contracted for, was not long enough, nor distinctive enough in its use of sentiment, was too effectually concealed in its volume of Shandean quibbles, to win readers for the whole of Shandy, or to direct wavering attention through the mazes of Shandyism up to the point where the sentimental Yorick really takes up the pen and introduces the reader to the sad fate of Maria of Moulines. One can imagine eager Germany aroused to sentimental frenzy over the Maria incident in the Sentimental Journey, turning with throbbing contrition to the forgotten, neglected, or unknown passage in Tristram Shandy.
It is difficult to trace sources for Sterne in English letters, that is, for the strange combination of whimsicality, genuine sentiment and knavish smiles, which is the real Sterne. He is individual, exotic, not demonstrable from preceding literary conditions, and his meteoric, or rather rocket-like career in Britain is in its decline a proof of the insensibility of the English people to a large portion of his gospel. The creature of fancy which, by a process of elimination, the Germans made out of Yorick is more easily explicable from existing and preceding literary and emotional conditions in Germany. Brockes had prepared the way for a sentimental view of nature, Klopstock's poetry had fostered the display of emotion, the analysis of human feeling. Gellert had spread his own sort of religious and ethical sentimentalism among the multitudes of his devotees. Stirred by, and contemporaneous with Gallic feeling, Germany was turning with longing toward the natural man, that is, man unhampered by convention and free to follow the dictates of the primal emotions. The exercise of human sympathy was a goal of this movement. In this vague, uncertain awakening, this dangerous freeing of human feelings, Yorick's practical illustration of the sentimental life could not but prove an incentive, an organizer, arelief for pent-up emotion.
Johann Joachim Christoph Bode has already been mentioned in relation to the early review of Zckert's translation of Shandy. His connection with the rapid growth of the Yorick cult after the publication of the Sentimental Journey demands a more extended account of this German apostle of Yorick. In the sixth volume of Bode's translation of Montaigne was printed first the life of the translator by C.A. Bttiger. This was published the following year by the same house in a separate volume entitled "J.J. C.Bodes literarisches Leben, nebst dessen Bildnis von Lips." All other sources of information regarding Bode, such as the accounts in Jrdens and in Schlichtegroll's "Nekrolog," are derivations or abstracts from this biography. Bode was born in Braunschweig in 1730; reared in lowly circumstances and suffering various vicissitudes of fortune, he came to Hamburg in 1756-7. Gifted with a talent for languages, which he had cultivated assiduously, he was regarded at the time of his arrival, even in Hamburg, as one especially conversant with the English language and literature. His nature must have borne something akin to Yorick, for his biographer describes his position in Hamburg society as not dissimilar to that once occupied for a brief space in the London world by the clever fted Sterne. Yet the enthusiasm of the friend as biographer doubtless colors the case, forcing a parallel with Yorick by sheer necessity. Before 1768 Bode had published several translations from the English with rather dubious success, and the adaptability of the Sentimental Journey to German uses must have occurred to him, or have been suggested to him directly upon its very importation into Germany. He undoubtedly set himself to the task of translation as soon as the book reached his hands, for, in the issue of the Hamburgische Adress-Comptoir-Nachrichten for April 20, is found Bode's translation of a section from the Sentimental Journey. "Die Bettler" he names the extract; it is really the fifth of the sections which Sterne labels "Montriul." In the numbers of the same paper for June 11 and 15, Bode translates in two parts the story of the "Monk;" thus, in but little over three months after its English publication, the story of the poor Franciscan Lorenzo and his fateful snuff-box was transferred to Germany and began its heart-touching career. These excerpts were included by Bode later in the year when he published his translation of the whole Sentimental Journey. The first extract was evidently received with favor and interest, for, in the foreword to the translation of the "Monk," in the issue of June 11, Bode assigns this as his reason for making his readers better acquainted with this worthy book. He further says that the reader of taste and insight will not fail to distinguish the difference when so fine a connoisseur of the human heart as Sterne depicts sentiments, and when a shallow wit prattles of his emotions. Bode's last words are a covert assumption of his rle as prophet and priest of Yorick in Germany: "The reader may himself judge from the following passage, whether we have spoken of our Briton in terms of too high praise."
In the July number of the Unterhaltungen, another Hamburg periodical, is printed another translation from the Sentimental Journey entitled: "Eine Begebenheit aus Yoricks Reise frs Herz bersetzt." The episode is that of the fille de chambre who is seeking Crbillon's "Les Egarements du Coeur et de l'Esprit." The translator omits the first part of the section and introduces us to the story with a few unacknowledged words of his own. In the September number of the same periodical the rest of the fille de chambre story is narrated. Here also the translator alters the beginning of the account to make it less abrupt in the rendering. The author of this translation has not been determined. Bode does not translate the word "Sentimental" in his published extracts, giving merely the English title; hence Lessing's advice concerning the rendering of the word dates probably from the latter part of the summer. The translation in the September number of the Unterhaltungen also does not contain a rendering of the word. Bode's complete translation was issued probably in October, possibly late in September, 1768, and bore the imprint of the publisher Cramer in Hamburg and Bremen, but the volumes were printed at Bode's own press and were entitled "Yoricks Empfindsame Reise durch Frankreich und Italien, aus dem Englischen bersetzt."
The translator's preface occupies twenty pages and is an important document in the story of Sterne's popularity in Germany, since it represents the introductory battle-cry of the Sterne cult, and illustrates the attitude of cultured Germany toward the new star. Bode begins his foreword with Lessing's well-known statement of his devotion to Sterne. Bode does not name Lessing; calls him "awell-known German scholar." The statement referred to was made when Bode brought to his friend the news of Sterne's death. It is worth repeating:
"I would gladly have resigned to him five years of my own life, if such a thing were possible, though I had known with certainty that I had only ten, or even eight left.... but under the condition that he must keep on writing, no matter what, life and opinions, or sermons, or journeys." On July 5, 1768, Lessing wrote to Nicolai, commenting on Winckelmann's death as follows: "He is the second author within a short time, to whom I would have gladly given some years of my own life."
Nearly thirty years later (March 20, 1797) Sara Wulf, whose maiden name was Meyer and who was later and better known as Frau von Grotthus, wrote from Dresden to Goethe of the consolation found in "Werther" after a disappointing youthful love affair, and of Lessing's conversation with her then concerning Goethe. She reports Lessing's words as follows: "You will feel sometime what a genius Goethe is, Iam sure of this. Ihave always said I would give ten years of my own life if I had been able to lengthen Sterne's by one year, but Goethe consoles me in some measure for his loss."
It would be absurd to attach any importance to this variation of statement. It does not indicate necessarily an affection for Sterne and a regret at his loss, mathematically doubled in these seven or eight years between Sterne's death and the time of Lessing's conversation with Sara Meyer; it probably arises from a failure of memory on the part of the lady, for Bode's narrative of the anecdote was printed but a few months after Sterne's death, and Lessing made no effort to correct an inaccuracy of statement, if such were the case, though he lived to see four editions of Bode's translation and consequently so many repetitions of his expressed but impossible desire. Erich Schmidt reduces this willingness on Lessing's part to one year,—an unwarranted liberty.
These two testimonies of Lessing's devotion are of importance in defining his attitude toward Yorick. They attest the fact that this was no passing fancy, no impulsive thought uttered on the moment when the news of Sterne's death was brought to him, and when the Sentimental Journey could have been but a few weeks in his hands, but a deep-seated desire, born of reflection and continued admiration. The addition of the word "Reisen" in Bode's narrative is significant, for it shows that Lessing must have become acquainted with the Sentimental Journey before April 6, the date of the notice of Sterne's death in the Hamburgische Adress-Comptoir-Nachrichten; that is, almost immediately after its English publication, unless Bode, in his enthusiasm for the book which he was offering the public, inserted the word unwarrantably in Lessing's statement.
To return to Bode's preface. With emphatic protestations, disclaiming vanity in appealing to the authority of so distinguished a friend, Bode proceeds to relate more in detail Lessing's connection with his endeavor. He does not say that Lessing suggested the translation to him, though his account has been interpreted to mean that, and this fact has been generally accepted by the historians of literature and the biographers of Lessing. The tone of Bode's preface, however, rather implies the contrary, and no other proof of the supposition is available. What Bode does assert is merely that the name of the scholar whom he quotes as having expressed a willingness to give a part of his own life if Sterne's literary activity might be continued, would create a favorable prepossession for his original ("ein gnstiges Vorurtheil"), and that a translator is often fortunate enough if his selection of a book to translate is not censured. All this implies, on Lessing's part, only an approval of Bode's choice, afact which would naturally follow from the remarkable statement of esteem in the preceding sentence. Bode says further that out of friendship for him and regard for the reader of taste, this author (Lessing), had taken the trouble to go through the whole translation, and then he adds the conventional request in such circumstances, that the errors remaining may be attributed to the translator and not to the friend.