Translations of German Poetry in American Magazines 1741-1810
by Edward Ziegler Davis
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MONOGRAPHS DEVOTED TO THE COMPARATIVE STUDY OF THE Literary, Linguistic and Other Cultural Relations OF Germany and America


MARION DEXTER LEARNED University of Pennsylvania





Instructor in German and Sometime Harrison Research Fellow in Germanics, University of Pennsylvania



Copyright, 1905





The present study is an extension of a thesis, presented to the Faculty of the Department of Philosophy of the University of Pennsylvania in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. The object has been to treat the material in the early American magazines which gave readers information about Germany and other Teutonic countries. While the primary aim has been to discuss the translations of poetry and the original poems bearing on the subject, all relevant prose articles have also been listed. Since many of the magazines used are extremely rare and almost unique, the texts from them are here reprinted in order to make such information accessible. As some of the translations and poems, however, have been traced to Thomas Campbell, Sir Walter Scott, William Wordsworth, Thomas Gray and others, whose works are to be found in almost any library, reprinting was unnecessary in these cases. M. G. Lewis' Tales of Terror and Wonder has had, besides many early imprints, a recent edition by Henry Morley in 1887 and the poems from it that appeared in the American magazines are here mentioned by title only, the one exception being The Erl-King, which is included because of several variants. Long poems like The Wanderer of Switzerland (which itself would make a small book) are not reprinted.

Parts II to V are arranged chronologically, so as to show the gradual growth of the German influence. Translations and poems are therefore reprinted under the date of their first appearance; later publications of them in the magazines are here recorded simply by title, with a note giving the earliest date. The texts are reprinted exactly as they appeared in the early American periodicals, thus presenting the information about Germany in the same form in which readers of a century ago received it. Mistakes are often interesting as illustrative of an ignorance about German names and words. Only the most evident typographical errors have been corrected, such as "spweep" for "sweep," "bilssful" for "blissful," and "fustain" for "sustain." Differences due to eighteenth century orthography are retained.

The subject has been investigated to the end of the year 1840, but this volume treats only the period ending with 1810. Often for the sake of complete lists, however, poems of a later date are mentioned. Throughout Parts II to V, notes by the present author, except mention of sources from which the reprints are made, are inclosed in brackets.

The courtesy and assistance rendered in obtaining the magazines make me indebted to the attendants in the various libraries visited, particularly to Mr. Allan B. Slauson, of the Library of Congress. I wish to thank Professor Daniel B. Shumway, of the University of Pennsylvania, for helpful criticism, and Professor John L. Haney, of the Philadelphia Central High School, for valuable information about the German literary influence in England during the period under discussion and for improvements suggested in the preparation of the Introduction.

I am especially indebted to Professor Marion D. Learned, of the University of Pennsylvania, at whose suggestion and under whose inspiration the present investigation has been carried on.










The important influence which German literature has exercised on American culture and literature extends from the early part of the nineteenth century. This influence was, in a measure, a continuation of the interest and activity that had existed in England during the last quarter of the eighteenth century. Prior to 1790, numerous translations from Gellert, Wieland, Klopstock, Lessing, Goethe and Schiller appeared from time to time, but it was not until William Taylor of Norwich began to write, that the movement, which culminated in the works of Coleridge, Carlyle and others, assumed definite form.[1]

[Footnote 1: John L. Haney, German Literature in England before 1790, in the Americana Germanica, IV, No. 2.

Cf. also, Dr. Haney's monograph, The German Influence on Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Philadelphia, 1902.

Georg Herzfeld, William Taylor von Norwich, Halle a. S. 1897.]

American literature at this time was still subservient to that of England and it is not surprising that the new literary impulse from Germany should have found reflection on this side of the Atlantic. This foreign influence was further aided by direct contact with Europe. By the second or third decade of the last century the studies of American scholars abroad became an important factor in our intellectual development. In 1819 Edward Everett returned from Europe to become professor of Greek at Harvard University. He had studied at the University of Goettingen, where he had become enthusiastic for the methods of German scholarship. While in Europe he secured for Harvard College a large number of German books, which soon proved to be a stimulus to the students of the institution. In 1823 W. E. Channing in his Remarks on National Literature advocated the study of French and German authors, so that our literature might attain a position of independence from that of England.[2] Two years later, in 1825, Karl Follen entered upon his duties at Harvard College as instructor in German.[3]

[Footnote 2: The Works of William E. Channing, Boston, 1849. Geo. D. Channing. Vol. I-277.

Cf. also, the remark of Francis Hopkinson, p. 194.]

[Footnote 3: As early as 1754 William Creamer (or Cramer) was appointed Professor of the French and German Languages, at the University of Pennsylvania, which position he held for twenty-one years. In 1780 a German Professorship of Philology was established in the same institution. J. C. Kunze, the first appointee, lectured in German on Latin and Greek. After 1784, his successor, J. H. C. Helmuth, carried out the same policy.

Cf. M. D. Learned, Address at the Opening of the Bechstein Library, University of Pennsylvania, March 21, 1896.]

Before Edward Everett went abroad to study, however, American scholars had begun to seek wider cultural advantages at the centres of learning in Europe.[4] They were mostly theological students, or men more or less closely connected with the diplomatic service. The most prominent among the latter class was John Quincy Adams, who spent several years in Europe. His interest in German literature is shown by the fact that he translated Wieland's Oberon, which however was not published, because Sotheby's translation had just appeared in London.[5]

[Footnote 4: Benjamin Franklin's visit to the University of Goettingen is described in the Goettingische Anzeigen for Sept. 13, 1766, which states that the session of the Royal Society of Sciences held on the 19th of the preceding July was more impressive than usual. "The two famous English scholars, the royal physician, Mr. Pringle, and Mr. Benjamin Franklin, from Pennsylvania, who happened to be at that time in Goettingen on a trip through Germany, took their seats as members of the society."

Cf. the account by Dr. E. J. James (The Nation, Apr. 18, 1895, p. 296), reprinted in B. A. Hinsdale's article Foreign Influence upon Education in the United States, published in the Report of the Commissioner of Education, 1897-98. Vol. I, pp. 604-607.

Cf. also, L. Viereck, German Instruction in American Schools, ibid., 1900-1901. Vol. I, p. 543.]

[Footnote 5: Adams wrote also an account of his journey to Silesia in July, 1800. This was in the form of twenty-nine letters to his brother, written during the trip, and thirteen more added after his return to Berlin. Although they were private communications, the editor of the Port Folio secured them for his magazine and printed them anonymously, without suppressing personal references, as the author would have done, had he known of the publication.

"Whether these passages ever came under the observation of the persons affected is not certain. So long as they remained confined to the columns of an American publication of that day, the probabilities would favor the negative. But they were not so confined. Again, without the knowledge or consent of the author, an individual, unknown to him, but fully aware of the facts in the case nevertheless took the collection from the Portfolio to London, and there had them printed for his own benefit, in an octavo volume, in the year 1804. From this copy they were rendered into German, and published at Breslau the next year, with notes, by Frederick Albert Zimmerman; and in 1807 a translation made into French, by J. Dupuy, was published in Paris by Dentu.

"Thus it happened that these letters, originally intended as purely familiar correspondence, obtained a free circulation over a large part of Europe without the smallest agency on the part of the author, or any opportunity to correct and modify them as he certainly would have done had he ever possessed the power."

Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, Edited by Charles Francis Adams. 12 vols., Philadelphia, 1874. Vol. I, 240-241.

The American publication began in the Port Folio, I-1, Jan. 3, 1801, Phila. For a review of the English edition, cf. The Monthly Review or Literary Journal, XLV-350, December, 1804, London.]

A little later, in 1809, Alexander Hill Everett went to Russia as secretary to the legation and spent several years in different cities on the continent.[6] George Ticknor visited Germany in 1815 to prepare for his duties as professor of modern languages at Harvard; and George Bancroft, after graduating from college in 1817, studied for five years at Goettingen, Heidelberg and Berlin. Henry E. Dwight was at Goettingen from 1824-1828 and in the next year published in New York Travels in the North of Germany, 1825-6. It was about this time that James Fenimore Cooper began his European travels, which lasted from 1826 to 1833.[7] Thus, American scholars had been acquiring German thought and culture at first hand, before Longfellow or Emerson went abroad for the first time. With these two the German influence in America reached its height—Longfellow in literature, and Emerson in his transcendental philosophy.

[Footnote 6: "He [A. H. Everett] had probably studied German while he was associated with John Quincy Adams in St. Petersburg, where German influence was strong and the study of the language and literature could be pursued under the most favorable conditions. The United States Magazine and Democratic Review, New York, Vol. X (N. S.) 1842—p. 461, states that he studied at St. Petersburg, among other things, the modern languages."

Frederick H. Wilkens, Early Influence of German Literature in America in the Americana Germanica, III, No. 2, p. 155.]

[Footnote 7: M. D. Learned, German as a Culture Element in American Education, Milwaukee, 1898.]

This was the second channel by which German literature became known in this country. The first, as has already been indicated, came indirectly through England. There, considerable activity in this line had been manifest since 1790. Books of translations were published and the magazines contained many fugitive pieces from the German. It is chiefly a reflex of this interest that we find in American periodicals to the end of 1810.

In America, likewise, German literature was made known to English readers by means of translations either in book form or in the magazines. The subject of translations in book form has been treated in the recent article by Wilkens already mentioned. He discusses German drama, fiction, poetry, philosophy, theology and pedagogy, and gives in an appendix "A List of the Translations of German Literature that were printed in the United States before 1826." These books, however, were not the first means of introducing German authors to American readers. The first mention of this foreign literature we find, as a rule, in the magazines. Here are numerous accounts of the lives of German writers, criticism of their books, notices of editions (English or American) and besides these, many translations of poetry and the shorter prose works. These articles or translations do not, of course, antedate the earliest appearance of the same works in England, but it is safe to say that whatever information on German literature was offered in the American magazines reached the American public sooner than the copies of an English book sent over here to be sold. Many readers learned to know foreign literature through the medium of the periodicals who would not think of purchasing all the books, of which they had read reviews or selections. This was especially true of the poetry. The prose works were usually too long for republication in the magazines and could be announced only through critiques or abstracts. Even here, however, some of the longer pieces appeared, such as The Apparitionist (Schiller's Geisterseher) in the N. Y. Weekly Mag., I-16, etc., 1795, N. Y., and in the same magazine II-4, etc., Tschink's Victim of Magical Delusion, while The Mirror of Taste and Dramatic Censor, I, 1810, contains Emilia Galotti, translated by Miss Fanny Holcroft. These prose pieces, being long, were continued from number to number, but for the poetry this was not necessary. Poems of the size of Klopstock's Messiah or Gessner's Death of Abel appeared in the magazines only in selections or extracts, while on the other hand most of the lyric poems, being short, could very easily be reprinted entire in translation. With hardly an exception, the short poems of German authors appeared in America in the periodicals some time before they were issued in book form; for example, the earliest publication of Gessner's Idyls mentioned by Wilkens was in 1802,[8] whereas single idyls had been translated for the magazines in 1774, 1775, 1792, 1795, 1798, 1799, two in 1793, three in 1796 and five in 1801. Similarly, the first American imprint of M. G. Lewis' Tales of Wonder was issued in New York in 1801, while five selections in it had already appeared in the Weekly Mag., 1798-9, Phila.[9] In addition to these there were found in the American magazines before 1811, ten translations from Buerger, eight from Gellert, five from Lessing, four from Haller, three from Goethe, two each from Jacobi, Klopstock, Matthisson and Schickaneder, and one each from "Adelio," Buerde, Kotzebue, Patzke, "Sheller," and "Van Vander Horderclogeth," together with several translations, for which the name of the original author was not given. None of these were printed in book form before 1826.[10]

[Footnote 8: New Idyls, by S. Gessner. Philadelphia, 1802.]

[Footnote 9:

Buerger, Leonora [Wm. Taylor—some variants], Vol. I-221. Buerger, The Chase [Sir Walter Scott], Vol. II-413. ——, The Water King [M. G. Lewis], Vol. III-92. Goethe, The Erl-King [M. G. Lewis], Vol. III-93. ——, The Erl-King's Daughter [M. G. Lewis], Vol. III-94.

The last three, however, were also in Lewis' Ambrosio or the Monk, Philadelphia, 1798.]

[Footnote 10: Wilkens' List. Two selections from Buerger and two from Goethe appeared in Lewis' collections, but no editions of their poems exclusively were issued. Klopstock's Messiah was published three times before 1811, but not his shorter poems.]

The first translations of German poetry printed in America are to be sought, therefore, in the magazines and it was here also that the public received its first information about the lives of the German literati. It is the object of the present study to consider the German influence in the early American periodicals, treating especially the translations of German poetry published in them.[11] Together with these are to be found in Part III translations from the other Teutonic literatures more or less closely connected with the German, namely, translations of Dutch, Danish, Norwegian and Icelandic poetry, and also original poems on German literature, history, biography, etc.,—for example, Ode on the late Victory obtained by the King of Prussia, Charlotte's Soliloquy—to the Manes of Werter, and Burlesque on the Style, in which most of the German romantic Ballads are written. To this has been added a list of translations of German prose, and a list of original articles on Germany, etc., so that a complete estimate of the German influence in these magazines can thus be obtained.

[Footnote 11: Wilkens mentions about a dozen magazines incidentally but no attempt has been made to investigate this field.]

The scope of the present work comprises the American magazines published before 1811. By the term "American magazines" is meant all magazines published in English, whether in the United States or Canada. Periodicals in German, Spanish, French or other foreign languages have been excluded. In as much as the study is primarily concerned with literature it has been necessary, on account of the great scope of the subject, to omit publications of a non-literary type, e. g., newspapers, gazettes, periodicals dealing solely with history, religious magazines, almanacs, etc. This method of exclusion is not an easy one, for during the period under discussion the magazine and the newspaper approached each other, the former printed news and the latter gave specimens of literature, usually short poems. It happened sometimes that a translation which appeared in a magazine had been printed first in a newspaper. For example, The Name Unknown, "Imitated from Klopstock's ode to his future mistress. By Thomas Campbell," is to be found in the Newport Mercury, 1803, Newport, just three years before it was printed in The Evening Fireside, II-165, Phila. This illustrates the importance of the newspaper in this connection, especially since the latter contained also numerous paragraphs on things German, but it is a field for separate investigation and in this connection must take second place as compared with the literary periodicals.

Similarly the religious magazines often contain poems relative to our subject, so that it has been necessary to include some of these publications. Thus, the Boston Observer and Religious Intelligencer, I-152, 1835, Boston, contains the poem Trust in God, "Translated from the German," whereas others indicate on their title page their dual character, e. g., The Literary and Theological Review, 1834-39, N. Y., The Monthly Miscellany of Religion and Letters, 1839, etc., Boston, and The Monthly Mag. of Religion and Literature, 1840, Gettysburg. Most of the religious magazines, however, belong to the period after 1810.

Lastly, even some of the almanacs come almost within the range of the present discussion, for the earlier ones have poems[12] and interesting information, and were carefully read by the general public. Most of these had their vogue before the literary magazine became prominent and therefore represent a period before the German literary influence had made itself felt. Of those that were examined, none contained material to warrant their inclusion in the list given in Part V.

[Footnote 12: Universal American Almanack, or Yearly Mag., 1764, Phila., contains a poem entitled Golden Verse of Pythagoras.]

Whenever periodicals were found to be of the types just mentioned, they were omitted from further consideration. There are two other kinds of publications, however, that have been included in the present investigation. The first is the English magazine reprinted in this country. Since it is impossible to exclude all translations in American magazines made by Englishmen—as will be shown later on—it has been found practical to take, as the basis of selection, all periodicals actually published on this side of the Atlantic. The only examples of this class that fall within our period are The Mirror, I-II, 1803, Phila.—a reprint of a magazine of the same name, that appeared in Edinburgh, 1779-1780, The Connoisseur, I-IV, 1803, Phila. (London, 1755) and The Quarterly Review, I-IV, printed in London and reprinted in New York, 1810. In some instances the material in the American edition differs from that of the English, so that it is quite necessary to include this class of periodicals.

The other type of publications, alluded to, is the miscellany. It contained poems, prose selections and articles on a wide range of subjects. It differed from the magazine simply in one respect, namely, that it was issued with less regularity. It offers, however, valuable additions to the present collection.[13] Thus, even by omitting all irrelevant publications, the field is a broad one and rich in important material.

[Footnote 13: Curiosities of Literature, 1793, Philadelphia. Miscellanies, 1796, Burlington. A Book, a periodical work, 1807, New York. The Thistle, 1807, Boston. Charms of Literature, 1808, Trenton. The Hive, 1810, Hartford.]

In any investigation of the early American magazines the difficulty of locating copies is apparent. The editions of many of these periodicals were small, especially if issued from the less important literary centers; so that now, after the lapse of a hundred years, their volumes are extremely hard to trace. Another fact that aided in the disappearance of these publications was their short existence. If a periodical, like the American Museum or the Port Folio, ran for a number of years, it became well known and its volumes were carefully preserved. The libraries attempted to get complete sets and thus the magazine was made accessible for future generations. A large number of these magazines, however, had a precarious existence for a year or more, and then were discontinued for lack of support. Indeed, the many failures among these literary ventures cause one to wonder why others were undertaken, and yet year after year new magazines were launched on the market with full anticipation of success. This certainly indicates a widespread demand for this class of literature and if the kind offered did not happen to suit the taste, the fickle public was constantly deserting the old for the new.

The investigator is moreover impeded in his progress by lack of definite and trustworthy information about these publications. There is no complete list of the American magazines during the years under discussion, although work has been done on the period to the end of 1800. Paul Leicester Ford published a Check-list of American magazines printed in the eighteenth century (1889, Brooklyn, N. Y.). This was an attempt to list all publications referred to by any writer, whether accessible or not. The present investigation, however, has brought to light thirty-five or forty volumes of magazines (including twenty new titles), evidently unknown to Ford, not to speak of several newspapers of more or less literary value; but the latter seem to have been omitted intentionally from the Check-list.

Even the magazines of Philadelphia, the literary center of the country during the eighteenth century, have not been listed. "A complete list of the Philadelphia magazines is impossible. Many of them have disappeared and left not a rack behind. The special student of Pennsylvania history will detect some omissions in these pages, for all that has here been done has been done at first hand, and where a magazine was inaccessible to me, I have not attempted to see it through the eyes of a more fortunate investigator."[14] What is here said of Philadelphia is equally true of Boston, New York, Baltimore and the other centers of literary activity of a century ago.

[Footnote 14: Albert H. Smyth, The Philadelphia Magazines and their Contributors, 1741-1850. Philadelphia, Robert M. Lindsay, 1892. Preface, p. 5.]

In spite of the difficulties just mentioned it has been possible, after an extended search, to find enough volumes of the magazines to form an almost complete list for the period in question. What omissions there may be are, for the most part, obscure and unimportant publications, which failed to attract enough attention to be included in the large collections of this class of literature. One condition favored the preservation of the American magazines; there were a few institutions, like the Philadelphia Library Company, the American Philosophical Society, and others, which were in existence during the period when most of these publications were issued. It has been possible for them to amass a fairly representative collection of contemporaneous literature. On the other hand, more recent institutions, like the Boston Public Library or the Library of Congress, have displayed such industry in collecting, that they now have splendid lists of these early periodicals.

The plan of the present investigation has been, therefore, to visit those libraries where large numbers of the books needed are located and thus, by combining the material secured in the different places, to approach as near as possible to completeness. One library fills out the gaps of another and it often happens that, in order to see the entire set of a magazine, it is necessary to visit three or four libraries. A record has been kept as to where the individual volumes are, but as useful as this information might be for those working in the same or in a kindred field it has been found too complex to be indicated in the list of magazines given in Part V.[15] The material here included is based on a personal examination of about three hundred volumes representing one hundred and twenty-eight different magazines.

[Footnote 15: A list of the libraries consulted is given at the beginning of Part V.]

In treating the German influence in the American magazines, it is important to consider the position which the magazine held during this early period. Difference in conditions enabled the periodical to play quite a different role from that which it now plays. In the eighteenth century, as compared with the present day, free libraries were scarce and readers had to depend largely on the books they could buy or borrow. Then, too, books were expensive, because many had to be imported from abroad, and those printed here could not be sold as cheaply as now. These conditions favored the magazines, which were inexpensive and furnished to their readers, besides original matter, republications of the best literature of Europe. They kept the public abreast with the times and supplied the place now occupied by the numerous libraries and books which can be purchased at a moderate cost.

Another element which the magazine of a century ago did not have to contend with so vigorously was the newspaper. The modern newspaper is becoming larger and larger, and is making increased demand every day on the time and interest of the public. In the eighteenth century and the first decade of the nineteenth this was not the case. To be sure, there were many newspapers, gazettes and advertisers, but they were comparatively small in size, consisting usually of only four or six pages. "At the period of the American Revolution, journalism had nowhere reached [an] advanced stage of effectiveness. In America, especially, the newspapers were petty, dingy, languid, inadequate affairs; and the department of the newspaper now devoted to editorial writing, then scarcely existed at all."[16] Many editors considered the news available to be sufficient merely for a weekly instead of a daily issue. This is not surprising. With the absence of the modern telegraph, telephone, ocean cable and steam railroad the facility for getting news from a distance was greatly diminished. Then, too, as the population of the country was much smaller than now, the most important domestic news could be told in a few columns. All this tended to keep the newspapers within moderate proportions, and although they were numerous, it is safe to say that they did not make such a demand on the reader's time as to divert his attention from a more serious kind of literature. People had, therefore, plenty of leisure for careful perusal of the magazines, and these, by giving in many cases a summary of the news, decreased the necessity for the newspaper. For advertisements and business announcements the gazettes and advertisers were the main source, but for general information and current literature persons did not have to devote so much attention to the newspaper.

[Footnote 16: M. C. Tyler, The Literary History of the American Revolution, I, 1763-1776, New York, 1897, p. 18.]

As far as can be learned, the magazine in this early period was regarded in a more serious light than to-day. It was not a means to while away an idle hour—something to be glanced at hastily and then thrown aside. The editors attempted, on the contrary, to give the best literature at their disposal, whether original or reprint, and endeavored to improve the public taste by selecting matter that would be acceptable to a scholarly audience. "A striking difference between the older magazine and the recent ones is the conspicuous absence from the journal of a century ago of what is commonly called 'light literature.'"[17]

[Footnote 17: Smyth, op. cit., p. 20.]

Tyler mentions the same conditions. "Our colonial journalism soon became, in itself, a really important literary force. It could not remain forever a mere disseminator of public gossip, or a placard for the display of advertisements. The instinct of critical and brave debate was strong even among those puny editors, and it kept struggling for expression. Moreover, each editor was surrounded by a coterie of friends, with active brains and a propensity to utterance; and these constituted a sort of unpaid staff of editorial contributors, who, in various forms,—in letters, essays, anecdotes, epigrams, poems, lampoons,—helped to give vivacity and even literary value to the paper."[18]

[Footnote 18: M. C. Tyler, A History of American Literature, II, 1676-1765, New York, 1878, pp. 304, 305.]

Considering these facts, it is seen that the magazines of the period under discussion played a more important role in the cultural development of the people than they do now. They were not as numerous, nor were so many copies of each number issued then as now, but the population was also much smaller, and consequently a smaller number of periodicals sufficed, although relatively they may have been as numerous. One thing seems certain,—in the absence of so much other reading matter, the magazine went into the home and was perused with care by the different members of the household. We have only to refer to the attention given to the almanacs during a period slightly earlier, and these did not attempt to present as much entertaining literature as the magazines. The prominence of these literary periodicals in the development of American thought and culture is usually overlooked, but should certainly be recognized in the history of literature in America.

All this is very pertinent to the subject. The importance of the translations and poems, here reprinted, in bringing things German before the American public depends naturally upon the importance of the channel by which they were introduced. From what has just been said, it is evident that the magazine not only had a wider and freer scope then than now, but also attempted to preserve as high a literary and scholarly standard as was possible for that day. What was admitted to its pages had therefore considerable weight and influence, and became known at once as far as the magazine circulated. It is for this reason that the appearance of so many poems and prose articles relating to the German countries becomes so important, and the interest here aroused was to increase many fold in the decades immediately following.

The publication of translations of German poetry in the American magazines indicates a twofold activity. In the first place it shows active interest and enthusiasm on the part of a few individuals who read and appreciated German literature and who had the ability not only to understand the foreign poetry but also to translate it for their fellow countrymen. How many there were who could read the original, it is impossible to say, but these translators were certainly only a small part of the Americans who understood German. In the second place the appearance of German poems in the magazines indicates a growing acquaintance with German literature, on the part of the public at large. From the fact that the number of translations increased from year to year we may infer that they found favor in the eyes of the readers. Even if the circulation of the individual magazines was small, the combined effect of so many must have been considerable.

It may seem at first thought that relatively few poems have been collected in proportion to the ground covered.[19] There is a limitation, however, that must not be overlooked. Only a small part of each magazine was devoted to poetry and, after the original productions and the republications of English verse (which naturally received first consideration), German could only hope for its share along with the other foreign literatures. It is remarkable how many foreign literatures are represented in the sections of these magazines devoted to poetry. There are translations from the Latin, French, German, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, Norse (Icelandic), Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Irish, Welsh, Greek, Laplandish, Persian and Turkish. In all this mass of translations, German ranks perhaps third as regards quantity; it is exceeded only by the Latin and French.[20] This is true, however, only for the period to the end of 1810. The situation in the three succeeding decades is very different, but will be discussed at a later time.

[Footnote 19: There are in the magazines of the period, 71 translations of German poetry and 10 duplicates; 68 original poems and translations of other Teutonic poetry, and 24 duplicates.]

[Footnote 20: No list of the translations from the Latin and French in these magazines has been made, so that a numerical comparison with those from the German is at present impossible.]

There is another reason why these magazines did not contain more translations from the German. The period under consideration coincides very closely with the classical epoch of German literature and many of the masterpieces were not issued until near the end. Hermann und Dorothea appeared in 1797 and Wallenstein three years later, while Wilhelm Tell was not finished until 1804 and the completed Faust (first and second parts) was published twenty-three years after the period closes. The dates of much of the classical German literature precluded the possibility of its being translated until two thirds of the period had passed. However valuable these works are, it is not remarkable that they should not have become known immediately on this side of the Atlantic. For the Germans here, the originals were all that were needed, and it naturally took some time for the English part of the population to realize the worth of the books and to demand translations. These causes, then, prevented the German influence in the magazines from assuming larger proportions.

The period treated in the present study is from 1741 to 1810 inclusive. The year 1741 is chosen as marking the beginning of the American periodicals of a literary type. The publications of an earlier date that were examined were devoted almost entirely to news, or were almanacs that contained no literary material, for example, the New England Kalendar, I, 1706, Boston, or the New Weekly Journal, 1728, Boston. These have been omitted from the list. It is therefore not until 1741 that our period really begins. The two magazines which were to be the pioneers of this extensive class of American literature had been announced in the previous year. The Phila. Weekly Mercury (Oct. 30, 1740) gives the prospectus of a magazine to be edited by John Webbe and printed by Andrew Bradford; while in the Pennsylvania Gazette (Nov. 13, 1740) Franklin announced The General Magazine and Historical Chronicle for all the British Plantations in America. A bitter controversy soon arose,—Franklin claiming that Webbe had stolen his plans, and Webbe accusing Franklin of using his position as Postmaster to exclude the Mercury from the mail. Both magazines were issued in January, 1741; Webbe's journal, The American Magazine; or a Monthly View of the Political State of the British Colonies, ran for three months and Franklin's for six months.[21] With these, then, the investigation for the present subject begins. As has been indicated, the work has been extended to the end of the year 1840. After that, German literature was established as a well known factor in our intellectual development, as is shown by the numerous books of translations and imitations, and the magazines were, henceforth, less important in this particular. The period here treated extends only to the end of 1810. These years witnessed the beginning of the movement and the first period of considerable activity in this field. During the years immediately following 1810 there was a decline in the German literary influence in the American magazines.[22]

[Footnote 21: John Bach McMaster, Benjamin Franklin as a Man of Letters, Boston, 1887, p. 129 seq.]

[Footnote 22: A similar decline in the German literary influence was noticed also in England after 1810.]

To estimate definitively the amount of literary activity in America with respect to things German, as illustrated by these translations and poems, would require considerable information concerning the translators. If the translator lived in England and his work was simply reprinted in an American magazine, the literary activity belongs more to England than to this country; but the fact that the poem was reprinted shows a desire to acquaint readers here with foreign poetry, the only difference being that the influence came through England and not from Germany direct. Where the works printed are from the pen of an American, they represent not only the ability of the writer to appreciate German, but also the active interest to reproduce it for the American public; the translation is then entirely an American product. As to Englishmen here doing this kind of work, it would be of advantage to know whether they were merely travelers or sojourners, or had been here long enough to be considered an integral part of our civilization. However useful this information would be, it is, in a majority of cases, unobtainable. Most of the translations appeared without any indication as to authorship. One thing that may partly account for this was the tendency of the early magazines to copy and plagiarize. Scores of poems were found which had previously been printed in other periodicals (American or English), but for the source of which no credit was given. Even the author's name was suppressed. In one instance an editor inserted a poem that had appeared in the very same magazine one or two years earlier, and yet the readers were to receive it as something new.[23] The only possible means of identification in these cases is by comparison with published collections of translations. Several translations have thus been traced to Sir Walter Scott, M. G. Lewis, William Taylor of Norwich and others. Many are reprints from English magazines, concerning which it is impossible at present to give more accurate information. The subject has not been investigated with respect to the English periodicals, and since their number is far greater than the American, it would require a separate study to prepare a list of translations from the German published in them. It is, therefore, impracticable to exclude from the present discussion translations and poems by Englishmen, for it is only where the author's name is mentioned, or a note given, stating that the translation was made for such and such a magazine, that we can be sure whether it was an American product or not. The important fact is that the translation appeared in America and helped to make known to American readers certain specimens of German literature.

[Footnote 23: The Moss Rose, From the German [of Krummacher]. The Minerva, I-40, May 4, 1822 and II-296, Dec. 20, 1823, N. Y.]

In the selection of material certain limitations were necessary. In the list of prose translations and articles dealing with the German countries, everything has been mentioned which refers directly or indirectly to Germany. This is important in giving a complete estimate of the interest shown, for there was a desire to know something about German prose works, German biography and history as well as German poetry. From the list of translations reprinted here, however, have been excluded all translations of dramas except certain selections, such as songs or short scenes approaching the lyrical mood. In most of the portions of dramas reproduced the passages are too long for republication or the interest is wholly dramatic and not lyric. The subject of the present study is, then, specifically—the German lyric poetry which appeared in English in the magazines of America.

The term "poetry" is here taken in a liberal sense and includes more than the translations of German verse alone. Some translations were found whose originals, though prosaic in form, are poetic in content. This was readily recognized by the translators, who have accordingly given metrical renderings. For example, we have Letter LXI of the Sorrows of Werter Versified; four of Gessner's prose idyls have been rendered into verse, and in the later period Krummacher's prose fable, The Moss Rose, appears five times in verse (1819, 1822, 1823, 1829, 1831) and twice in prose (1827, 1833). Similarly, prose translations of German verse have been included, e. g., two fables from Gellert (1796), Morning, from Haller (1793), and the Swiss song, Ranz des Vaches (1805).[24] On the other hand, prose translations of Gessner's prose idyls are recorded by title only. Another poem of a different class must be mentioned. In the volumes examined only one German poem written in America was found. This was Hoffnung by "Adelio" and a note stated that it was written "For the Philadelphia Repository" (Feb. 18, 1804, Phila.). At the end were the words: "A poetical translation is requested." The following number (Feb. 25) contained a translation.

[Footnote 24: The Ranz des Vaches has also four metrical versions:

1833—The Lady's Book, VI-164. 1833—The Juvenile Rambler, II-84. 1835—Amer. Mo. Mag., V-424. 1809—The Visitor, I-72 (entitled Cow Boy's Chant).]

Another group of poems calling for some attention includes those translated from the French. These are of two kinds. In the first place there are poems written in French by Germans or Swiss, such as the poems of Frederick the Great, and also the Ranz des Vaches. As to the latter, the French verses are given in two instances together with the translation,[25] so that it is certain what the original was. In other instances no mention is made of the source. Since part of the population of Switzerland has always been German, a German form of the song very likely existed. It is difficult, therefore, to say whether this or the French version was used by the translator. The title is French but this might have been retained for the German stanzas.

[Footnote 25: Boston Weekly Mag., III-60, Feb. 2, 1805, Boston.

The Visitor, I-72, June 3, 1809, Richmond. ]

The second class of translations from the French comprehends those from authors who usually wrote in German; thus, Navigation, "From the French of Gessner" (1803), and The Usurer, "From the French of Gellert" (Port Folio, XVI-245, 1823). Either these may have been taken from French translations of the German,[26] or the word "French" may be a mistake.[27] This second group has been classed with the translations of German poetry (Part II); while the first group from the French belongs to Part III.

[Footnote 26: The British Museum catalogue mentions "Fables et Contes [trans. principally from the German of C. F. Gellert, etc.], 1754."]

[Footnote 27: Cf. The Earth's Division, "Trans. from Goethe [sic], by L. E. L." Waldie's Port Folio, Part I-123, Apr. 11, 1835, Phila.

Also, Benevolence, "A Fable from the German of Galleret" [sic], 1802.]

No attempt is here made to discuss the critical estimate that the Americans of this period placed upon German literature. This would require a consideration of all the prose articles, whereas the present study has been devoted entirely to the poetry. It is hoped that, from the list given in Part IV, such information may be obtained. Besides the several paragraphs on German literati, the individual poems are often preceded by an introductory note praising the original of the translation. Even back in the eighteenth century, people were considering the utility of the modern languages as opposed to the classics. The American Museum, for example, published a Speech on the learned languages, by the Hon. Francis Hopkinson, which concludes with the remark that the "languages most in use are, in truth, the most useful to be known."[28]

[Footnote 28: Amer. Mus., III, Jan.-June, 1788, p. 539. Cf. Part IV, p. 194; also the remark of W. E. Channing, Part I, p. 1.]

On the other hand there were unsympathetic writers who ridiculed the Germans and their literature. The Monthly Magazine published a letter entitled Literary Industry of the Germans, which decried their pedantic scholarship in unprofitable directions.[29] This attack is also expressed in the form of parodies, of which the following were found: The Wolf King, a satire on The Water King, The Fire King, etc. (1802), The Paint King, a burlesque on The Cloud King, The Fire King and others (1809, 1833), Against Faustus (1804), The Squeaking Ghost, "a tale imitated from the German, according to the true and genuine principles of the horrifick" (1808, 1809, 1810), Parody on Buerger's Earl Walter (1807), Ode to the German Drama, "Parody of Gray's Ode to Adversity" (1806), and Burlesque on the style in which most of the German romantic ballads are written (1799, 1801). In some of these instances the parodies may denote no real hostility but merely a rhymester's attempt to be clever.

[Footnote 29: "A German writer, L. W. Bruggeman, has published, at Stettin, in Pomerania, a Prussian province, a work, in English, on which he has laboured twenty-five years. It contains a view of all the English editions, translations and illustrations of the ancient Greek and Latin authors. In the execution of this work, he has been at great expense, being obliged to purchase and import a great number of English books. This is a very curious specimen of learned perseverance and labour. That a man should spend his life in recounting the translations of ancient authors into a language foreign to his own! It is one of the most difficult, tiresome, unpopular, and unprofitable branches of the trade. Germany, however, affords innumerable instances of this kind of literary diligence. There is a press at Leipsic abundantly supplied with editions and interpretations of Chinese, Abyssinian, Coptic and Syriac productions."

Mo. Mag. and Amer. Rev., II-8, 1800, N. Y.]

It is worthy of note that several of the poems in these magazines may be grouped together, thus indicating particular interest in certain subjects. Each group forms, as it were, a cycle, though the individual poems were usually written by different persons. One of these groups attests the popularity of Frederick the Great, even before the American Revolution. The translations from his poetry are: Relaxation of War (1758, 1795, 1798), The King of Prussia's Ode imitated in rhime (1758), A literal translation of the King of Prussia's Ode (1758), Translation of an Epistle from the King of Prussia to Monsieur Voltaire (1759), Ode to Death (1786, 1806), Prayer of Frederick II in Behalf of Poets (1805), and A Song (1811). The original poems about Frederick are: Winter, a poem, containing a reference to "great Frederick's noble feats" (1758), On the compleat Victory ... (1758), Ode on the late Victory obtained by the King of Prussia (1758), On the glorious Victory ... (1758), The Third Psalm paraphrased, "Alluding to his Prussian Majesty" (1758), On reading in the publick Papers ... (1758), The Royal Comet, referring to "Prussia's great Frederick" (1758), and Mr. Voltaire's letter to his Prussian Majesty, Translated (1758).

Another group treats the kings of the natural elements, so common in German literature: The Erl King (1798, July 1833, Sept. 1833, 1835, 1836, 1838, 1839), The Erl King's Daughter (1798), The Water King, a Danish Ballad (1798), The Wolf King, a parody on The Water King, The Fire King, etc. (1802), Hrim Thor, or the Winter King (1802), Grim, King of the Ghosts (1802) and The Paint King, a burlesque on The Cloud King, The Fire King, etc. (1809, 1810, 1833). This interest in the weird element explains the popularity of Buerger's Lenore, which appears in translation in 1798, 1801, 1804, 1823, 1836, 1839, 1840.

Switzerland is described in a variety of poems, treating all phases of the life and scenery. The most prominent among them is the Swiss song, which is variously translated as the Ranz des Vaches, the Cow Boy's Chant, and The Song of the Swiss in a Strange Land (1805, Oct. 15, Oct. 29, Nov. 1, Nov. 8, Dec. 17, 1808, June, June 3, 1809, twice in 1833 and once in 1835). In addition to the translations, there are four imitations of the same poem: The Swiss Exiles' Song (1835), The Switzer's Return [from America] (1836), The Switzer's Song of Home (1837, 1838), and The Swiss Emigrant's Dream of Home (1840).[30]

[Footnote 30: A translation of Schiller's Ranz des Vaches in "William Tell" is given in The Constellation, III-266, July 7, 1832, N. Y.]

The last group of poems to be mentioned refers to Goethe's novel, Die Leiden des jungen Werthers. This was evidently popular in America, though by no means causing the widespread delirium and sentimentality that had been rife in Germany. During our period the book was published here six times in translation, and an English imitation, The Letters of Charlotte, during her Connexion with Werter, had three American reprints.[31] These, together with translations imported from England, must have made Werter well known in this country. It is not surprising, therefore, to find in the magazines eight poems on the subject: Narcissa, containing a reference to Werter in the third stanza (1787), Charlotte's Soliloquy—to the Manes of Werter (1787), Death of Werter (1787), Werter's Epitaph (1787, 1791, 1805), On Reading the Sorrows of Werter (1790), Letter LXI of the Sorrows of Werter, Versified (1791), Werter's Farewell to Charlotte (1798) and Charlotte at the Tomb of Werter (1809).

[Footnote 31: Wilkens, op. cit., p. 164 seq.]

The early American magazines, then, were instrumental in making German literature and especially German poetry known in America. It was possible for them to print translations of individual poems of an author long before there was a demand for them in book form. Gessner, Buerger, Gellert, Lessing and others have already been mentioned in this connection. It is interesting to note just what poets were introduced to the American public by means of the magazines. Gessner and Buerger were the most popular, the former appearing twenty-five times and the latter ten times before 1811. Gessner was perhaps the German poet best known in America. During this period his Death of Abel had no less than sixteen American imprints and four imitations, while translations of his Idyls appeared in book form twice in 1802 and once in 1807.[32] Buerger, on the other hand, was known only through these poems in the magazines, or perhaps through imported books. No volume of translations of his poems belongs to this period of American printing.

[Footnote 32: Wilkens, op. cit., p. 108 seq. and 164 seq.

In England, likewise, the Idyls were constantly on the book-market and The Death of Abel had 20 editions before 1800. Cf. Herzfeld, op. cit., p. 6.]

After these, Gellert, Lessing and Haller had some share of recognition both by translation and criticism. Goethe, as has been shown, was known as the author of Werter. As for his lyrical productions, only two appeared, The Erl-King (1798) and Frederick and Alice, "Imitated rather than translated from a fragment introduced in Goethe's Claudine von Villa Bella" (1807). Other poets, like Jacobi, Klopstock, Matthisson, Kotzebue, Patzke or Buerde, found an occasional admirer, but not enough was done to bring their characteristics plainly before the public. In addition to these, there were numerous parodies and original poems, which helped to emphasize the importance of things German. This influence, moreover, was aided by the translations of prose works and by articles on German literature, history and biography, which are scattered through the pages of these periodicals. The American magazines accomplished considerable for German in this country. The movement here treated grew until it assumed a widespread importance a few decades later, but the period to the end of 1810 is interesting as marking the beginning. It was the first epoch of this type of literary activity in America.



THE OLD MAN. From Gesner. From the London Magazine, Oct. 1773.

[Prose translation.]

Royal Amer. Mag., p. 14, Jan. 1774, Boston.

[Reprint from the London Mag., p. 437, Sept. 1773, London. Preceding the title: "For the London Magazine."

Salomon Gessner, Palemon, Idyllen, Erste Folge. Concerning the prose translations from Gessner, cf. p. 16.]

For the Pennsylvania Magazine.


[Prose translation.]

Penna. Mag., I-359, Aug. 1775, Phila.

[S. Gessner, Myrtil. Thyrsis. Idyllen, Erste Folge.]

Description (with an elegant Engraving) of the celebrated Tomb of Madame Langhans, executed by Mr. John Augustus Nahl, late Sculptor to the King of Prussia, and which is to be seen in the choir of the parish church of Hindlebanck, two leagues from Berne.

As the inscription and verses of the Tombstone, which were written by the celebrated M. de Haller, could not with propriety be introduced in the engraving, we insert them here, in a free translation from the original German.

Hark! the majestic sound! the trumpet hear! See the astonish'd tombs give up their prey! Oh God! my Savior! 'tis thy voice I hear! And with my child, I come t'eternal day, Awake my infant; open now thine eyes, Leave the corruption of thy mortal birth, Arise my child, to thy Redeemer rise, And taste at length the joy denied on earth, Before his face death must yield to life; Hope to real joy ... there, purged from sins, Serenety succeeds to grief and strife, Time flies... Eternity begins.

In this blessed hope Sure that her Saviour will fulfill his promise, Reposes in this Tomb, Guarded by a tender and sorrowful husband, Mary Magdalen Waber, Born 8th August, 1723; And who departed this life on Easter-Eve 1751, The wife of George Langhans, Preacher of the gospel at Hindelbanck.

Boston Mag., I-56, Dec. 1783, Boston.

THE BACCHANALIAN. (Translated from the German.)

The thunder rolls dreadfully through the dark sky, To the cellar I quickly retire; Think not that I wish from the thunder to fly; No—'tis for the best wine to enquire.

Universal Asylum and Columbian Mag., IV-253, Apr. 1790, Phila.


Though Homer fired my youthful breast, My tender fancy deep imprest, Ere grief had made me smart: Yet of him Ossian has ta'en place; His woe-fraught strains, with solemn grace, Now occupy my heart.

To what a world of direful kind, The Bard illustrious leads my mind, 'Midst heaths and wilds to stray; Where the fierce whirlwinds sweep the plain; Where the moon feebly holds her reign; And ghosts elude the day.

To hear from off the mountains steep, The plaintive sounds, from caverns deep, Of water's dismal roar: To hear the maiden's doleful cries, That on her warrior's tomb-stone dies, Who her did much adore.

I meet this bard of silver hair, He wanders in the valley drear, Whilst grief his mind consumes: His father's footsteps tries to trace In vain, for time does them efface; He only finds their tombs.

The pale moon sinks, amid the waves, He contemplates her as she laves Her tresses in the sea: Reflects on time for ever gone, When danger pleased and spurred him on, Till every foe did flee.

When he returned on evening grey, The moon shone on his Bark of prey, His trophies won, displayed: When by his countenance, I find Deep-rooted sorrow fill his mind, That youth so soon decayed.

When I perceive that glory bright To fade so soon, to sink in night, And tottering to the grave: And when around he casts an eye On the cold earth, where he must die, The fate of e'en the brave.—

The traveller will come, he cries, He'll come who saw my beauty rise, And anxiously enquire; Where is the bard and warrior gone, Where is Fingal's illustrious son, Whither does he retire.

Then searching o'er the field and mead, He lightly on my tomb shall tread, But me he ne'er shall find: Then I, my friend, like a true knight, My sword shall draw, my prince to right, And ease his troubled mind.

And this atchieved, with grief opprest, Could plunge it deep in my own breast, And eager for him bleed: To follow him now half divine, Hero of the Fingalian line, Who by my hand was freed.

Universal Asylum and Columbian Mag., VI-50, Jan. 1791, Phila.

[Goethe, Die Leiden des jungen Werthers. Letter dated Oct. 12, 1772.]

AMYNTAS. [a]. A Pastoral Fragment.

[Prose translation.]

Mass. Mag., IV-351 June 1792, Boston.

[S. Gessner, Amyntas. "Bei fruehem Morgen kam der arme Amyntas...." Idyllen, Erste Folge.]


[Prose translation.]

Mass. Mag., V-195, Apr. 1793, Boston.

[S. Gessner, Thyrsis.

New Idylles By Gessner. Trans. by W. Hooper, M.D., 1776, London. P. 25, Thyrsis.]

AMYNTAS. A Pastoral Fragment from Gessner.

N. Y. Mag. or Lit. Repos., IV-584, Oct 1793, N. Y.

[Also in Mass. Mag., IV-351, June 1792, Boston.]


The moon retires—Nature's dark veil no more obscures the air and earth—the twinkling stars disappear and the reviving warmth of the sun awakens all creatures.

Already are the heavens adorned with its purple hues and its sparkling sapphires. Aurora, fair harbinger of the day, graciously dispenses smiles; and brightness of the roses which wreath her forehead dissipates the mists of night.

The flaming of the world advances from the eastern gate, triumphantly treading on the shining splendours of the milky way; clouds covered with Heaven's rubies, oppose him with their lightning, and a flame of gold spreads itself around the horizon.

The roses open to salute the sun with genial dews; and the lilies exhale delicious odours from their sattin'd leaves.

The vigilant hind flies to the labour-giving field; he guides with careful pleasure the earth-piercing plough; in the meantime his ears are delighted by the lightsome band of minstrels, which sweeten the air and the woods with their melodious notes. Thus doth benignant Heaven lighten the heavy pressure of toilful industry! O Creator! all that I see are the effects of thy power! thou art the soul of nature and doth actuate every part! the stated periods and glittering appearance of yon orbs, and the unquenched fires of the revolving sun, proceed from thy hands, and boast thy impression!

Thou illumest the solemn moon to guide us amid darkness; thou dost lend wings to the unseen wind, and by night thou dost enrich the earth with fruitful dews.

From the dust thou hast formed yon proud-topt mountain; from sand hast thou produced metals; thou hast spread yon firmament, and thou hast clothed it with clouds, that it may remain unpolluted by the exploring eye of man.

Thou hast wonderfully formed the veins of that fish which causes rivers to overflow, and which makes whirlpools, and spreads devastation with the flappings of his tail. Thou hast built the elephant, and thou hast animated its enormous bulk, that it resembles a moving mountain. Thou supportest yon splendid arches of the heavens upon the vast void; and with thy word thou hast produced from chaos this wondrous universe, filling it with order, and giving it no other limit than its grandeur.

Great God! created spirits are too insignificant to raise the glory of thy works! We lose ourselves in their immensity. To tell them one must resemble thyself on infinity. Humbly contented, I remain in my own prescribed circle. Incomprehensible Being! thy resplendent glories blind the presuming eye of man! and He from whom the earth receives its being, needs not the praises of a worm!

N. Y. Mag. or Lit. Repos., IV-720, Dec. 1793, N. Y.

[Albrecht von Haller, Morgen-Gedanken, Den. 25, Merz, 1725.]

MORNING. From Haller.

Phila. Minerva, I, May 30, 1795, Phila.

[Also in N. Y. Mag. or Lit. Repos., IV-720, Dec. 1793, N. Y.]

TRANSLATED POETRY. For the New-York Magazine.

THE ZEPHYRS, AN IDYL. [a]. (Translated from the German of Gesner, by W. Dunlap.)

[Prose translation.]

N. Y. Mag. or Lit. Repos., VI-760, Dec. 1795, N. Y.

[S. Gessner, Die Zephyre.]

TRANSLATED POETRY. For the New-York Magazine.

FIRST IDYL OF GESNER. (Translated from the German by Wm. Dunlap.)


[Prose translation.]

N. Y. Mag. or Lit. Repos., n. s., p. 49, Jan. 1796, N. Y.

[S. Gessner, Daphne. Chloe. "Sieh, schon steigt der Mond hinter dem schwarzen Berg...." First idyl—Zweite Folge, 1772.]

THE OLD MAN. Translated from the German of Gessner.

Phila. Minerva, I, Jan. 16, 1796, Phila.

[Also in The Royal Amer. Mag., p. 14, Jan. 1774, Boston.]

FABLE Imitated from the German of Gellert.

While a nightingale chanted in the midst of a forest, the neighbouring hills and vallies were delighted with her exquisite melody. Every wild bird forgot to sing, listening with fond admiration. Aurora tarried behind the hill, attending to her musical cadences; and Philomel, in honor of the goddess, warbled with unusual sweetness. At that she paused, and the lark took the opportunity of thus addressing her; 'Your music meets with just approbation; the variety, the clearness, and tenderness of the notes are inimitable; nevertheless, in one circumstance I am entitled to a preference. My melody is uninterrupted; and every morning is ushered with my gratulations. Your song on the contrary, is heard but seldom; and, except during a few weeks in the Summer, you have no claim to peculiar attention.' 'You have mentioned,' replied the Nightingale, 'the very cause of my superior excellence. I attend to, and obey, the dictates of Nature. I never sing but by her incitements; nor even yield to importunate, but uninspired inclination.'

Phila. Minerva, II, Apr. 23, 1796, Phila.

[C. F. Gellert, Die Nachtigall and die Lerche.

Free translation of the first stanza; the second, containing the application of the fable, omitted.]

A FABLE Imitated from the German of Gellert.

Clarine loved her husband with sincere affection—for he was a husband to her mind. Their desires and aversions were the same. It was Clarine's study to be agreeable, and by unwearied attention, to anticipate her husband's wishes. "Such a wife," says my male reader, who has thoughts of matrimony, "such a wife would I desire."—And such a wife mayst thou obtain.—Clarine's husband fell sick—a dangerous illness.—"No hope" said the physician, and shook his awful whig. Bitterly wept Clarine. "O death!" she cried, "O death! might I prefer a petition? Spare my husband; let me be the victim in his stead." Death heard, appeared, and "What," said the grim spectre, "is thy request?" "There," said Clarine sore dismayed, "There he lies; overcome with agony he implores thy speedy relief."

The Nightingale, I-199, June 16, 1796, Boston.

[C. F. Gellert, Die zaertliche Frau. The introductory stanza not translated.]

THE LASS OF FAIR WONE. From the German of Buerger.

Phila. Minerva, II, Dec. 17, 1796, Phila.

[G. A. Buerger, Des Pfarrers Tochter von Taubenhain.

W. Taylor of Norwich, The Lass of Fair Wone in the Monthly Magazine, I-223, Apr. 1796, London. Also in Taylor's Historic Survey of German Poetry, 3 vols., 1830, London. II-32, under the title The Parson's Daughter.]

VIRTUE REWARDED: A PASTORAL TALE. (From the German of Gesner).

[Prose translation.]

Phila. Minerva, II, Dec. 17, 1796, Phila.

[S. Gessner, Daphne. W. Hooper, New Idylles by Gessner, p. 33, Glicera.]


THE WISH (in imitation of Matthison).

Once more could I wish, ere yet my blest spirit Sunk in Elysium, peaceful mansion of shades! That spot t' revisit, where Infancy In dreams aerial, play'd 'round my brows.

The shrub of my country, whose branches o'erspread The cool nest of the patridge, waves gentler my friend, Than all the gay forests of laurel O'er the dust of the world's mighty conq'rors.

The streamlet of that mead, where in childhood I cull'd early violets, more musically murmurs 'Midst the alders once rear'd by my sire, Than the silver Blandusian fountain.

The hill, on which swains, in bands youthful and gay Danc'd 'round the trunk of the sweet blossom'd poplar, With greater rapture inspir'd my heart, Than Alps dazzling heights in roset glimm'ring.

Therefore could I wish, ere yet my blest spirit Sunk in Elysium, peaceful mansion of shades That spot t' revisit, where infancy In dreams aerial, play'd 'round my brows.

Then may death's smirking genius, of a sudden, Extinguish life's taper, well pleas'd I'll hasten To Xenophon and Plato's musing shade And to Anacreon's myrtle tufted bow'r.

Lit. Museum, or Mo. Mag., p. 47, Jan. 1797, West-Chester.

[F. Matthisson, Wunsch an Salis. "Noch einmal moecht' ich, eh in die Schattenwelt...."]

BENEVOLENCE. A FABLE. Imitated from the German of Gellert.

O'er Howard's tomb soft Pity weeps, Bewailing still her favourite's fate; And thence the Muse invokes her aid Of kindred merit to relate.

Like him to sympathize with woe, Like him to heal the broken mind; And rear Affliction's drooping head, Belinda's generous soul inclin'd.

But want of fortune oft, too oft, Her charitable views withstood; For what, alas! avails the will, Without the power of doing good?

Her uncle dies and leaves his niece A clear two thousand pounds per ann. "Ah! now," she cries, "I'm blest indeed, "I'll help the poor where'er I can."

Scarce had she spoke, when, at her door An old decrepid wretch appears; Bent on his crutch he begs an alms, And moves her pity with his tears.

Belinda felt for his distress, She heav'd a sigh and shook her head; Then to this aged son of woe Stretch'd forth a—crust of mouldy bread.

Amer. Universal Mag., I-28, Jan. 2, 1797, Phila.

[C. F. Gellert, Die Gutthat.]

PRO PATRIA MORI From the German of Buerger.

For virtue, freedom, human rights, to fall, Beseems the brave: it is a Saviour's death. Of heroes only the most pure of all, Thus with their heart's blood tinge the battle-heath.

And this proud death is seemliest in the man Who for a kindred race, a country bleeds: Three hundred Spartans from the shining van Of those, whom fame in this high triumph leads.

Great is the death for a good prince incurr'd; Who wields the sceptre with benignant hand: Well may for him the noble bare his sword, Falling he earns the blessings of a land.

Death for a friend, parent, child, or her we love, If not so great, is beauteous to behold: This the fine tumults of the hearts approve; It is the walk to death unbought of gold.

But for mere majesty to meet a wound— Who holds that great or glorious, he mistakes: That is the fury of the pamper'd hound, Which envy, anger, or the whip, awakes.

And for a tyrant's sake to seek a jaunt To hell ——'s a death which only hell enjoys; Where such a hero falls—the gibbet plant, A murderer's trophy, and a plunderer's prize.

Amer. Universal Mag., I-141, Jan. 23, 1797, Phila.

[G. A. Buerger, Die Tode.]

THE LASS OF FAIR WONE. From the German of Buerger.

Amer. Universal Mag., I-211, Feb. 6, 1797, Phila.

[Also in Phila. Minerva, II, Dec. 17, 1796, Phila.]

THE BROKEN PITCHER. From the German of Gesner.

[Prose translation.]

The Key, I-69, Mar. 10, 1798, Frederick Town.

[S. Gessner, Der zerbrochene Krug.]

LEONORA. [a]. A Ballad from Buerger.

The following translation (made some years since) of a celebrated piece, of which other versions have appeared, and are now on the point of appearing, possesses so much peculiar charm and intrinsic merit, that we are happy in being permitted to present it to our readers.

[The translation follows.]

Weekly Mag., I-221, Mar. 17, 1798, Phila.

[G. A. Buerger, Lenore.

Wm. Taylor of Norwich, Lenora.

Mo. Mag. and British Register, I-135, Mar. 1769, London. M. G. Lewis, Tales of Wonder, 1801, London.

The translation appeared anonymously in the above mentioned, but was afterwards printed with several changes under the title Ellenore in Taylor's Historic Survey of German Poetry, II-40.

Also in Tales of Terror and Wonder, collected by M. G. Lewis. With an introduction by Henry Morley, 1887, London. Cf. Preface.]

TO A LITTLE CHARMER. From the German of Lessing.

Come kiss me, little Charmer, Nor suppose a kiss can harm you; Kisses given, kisses taken, Cannot now your fears awaken; Give me then a hundred kisses Number well those sweetest blisses, And, on my life, I tell you true, Tenfold I'll repay what's due, When to snatch a kiss is bolder And my fair one's ten years older.

Weekly Mag., II-30, May 5, 1798, Phila.

[G. E. Lessing, An eine kleine Schoene.]

For the Weekly Magazine.

THE SWALLOW. A FABLE. (From the German of Lessing.)

Believe me, my friend, the great world is not suited to philosophers or poets. We are insensible to their real worth; and they, alas! are often weak enough to exchange it for a mere nothing.

In early ages the swallow was as tuneful and melodious a bird as the nightingale; but she soon became weary of residing in solitary groves to excite the admiration of none but the industrious peasant and the innocent shepherdess. She left her humble friends, and removed into town. What was the consequence? As the inhabitants of the city had not leisure to attend to her divine song, she gradually forgot it, and in its stead learned to—build.

Weekly Mag., II-82, May 12, 1798, Phila.

[G. E. Lessing, Die Schwalbe.]

THE CHASE. By Gottfried Augustus Buerger.

Weekly Mag., II-413, July 28, 1798, Phila.

[G. A. Buerger, Der wilde Jaeger.

Sir Walter Scott, The Wild Huntsman. Published with William and Helen in 1796 and entitled The Chase.

M. G. Lewis, Tales of Wonder. Entitled The Wild Huntsmen. By Walter Scott.

Cf. note to Leonora, in the Weekly Mag., I-221, Mar. 17, 1798.]

THE ERL-KING. (The Original is by Goethe, Author of Werter.)

Who is it that rides through the forest so fast, While night frowns around him, while chill roars the blast? The father, who holds his young son in his arm, And close in his mantle has wrapped him up warm.

—"Why trembles my darling? Why shrinks he with fear?" "Oh father! my father! the Erl-king is near! The Erl-king, with his crown and his beard long and white!" —"Oh! thine eyes are deceived by the vapours of night."

—"If you will, dear baby, with me go away, I will give you fine clothes; we will play a fine play; Fine flowers are growing, white, scarlet and blue, On the banks of yon river, and all are for you."

—"Oh father! my father! and dost thou not hear What words the Erl-king whispers low in mine ear?"— —"Now hush thee, my darling, thy terrors appease: Thou hear'st 'midst the branches when murmurs the breeze."

—"If you will, dear baby, with me go away, My daughter shall tend you so fair and so gay; My daughter, in purple and gold who is drest, Shall nurse you, and kiss you, and sing you to rest."

—"Oh father! my father! and dost thou not see? The Erl-king and his daughter are waiting for me?" —"Now shame thee, my dearest! 'tis fear makes thee blind: Thou seest the dark willows which wave in the wind."—

—"I love you! I dote on that face so divine! I must and will have you, and force makes you mine!" —"My father! my father! Oh hold me now fast! He pulls me! he hurts, and will have me at last!"—

The father, he trembled; he doubled his speed: O'er hills and through forests he spurred his black steed: But when he arrived at his own castle-door, Life throbbed in the sweet baby's bosom no more.

Weekly Mag., III-93, Aug. 18, 1798, Phila.

[Goethe, Erlkoenig.

M. G. Lewis, Tales of Wonder, 1801, London.

The above text, however, is taken from Lewis' Ambrosio, or the Monk (1795), which has several variants. The first Amer. reprint of The Monk was taken from the fourth British edition, 1798, Phila. Cf. Preface.]

THE ERL-KING'S DAUGHTER. (The Original is Danish; but I read it in a German Translation.)

Weekly Mag., III-94, Aug. 18, 1798, Phila.

[J. G. Herder, Erlkoenigs Tochter in the Fourth Book (Nordische Lieder) of Stimmen der Voelker in Liedern. Trans. from the Danish.

M. G. Lewis, Tales of Wonder and The Monk.

Cf. note to The Erl-King.

The original is in the Kiampe Viiser.]

AMYNTAS, A PASTORAL TALE. [b] (From the German of the celebrated Gessner.)

[Prose translation.]

Weekly Mag., III, 347, 358, Mar. 23, 30, 1799, Phila.

[S. Gessner, Mycon. In the French version, entitled Amyntas.

W. Hooper, New Idylles, p. 18.]

FRIENDSHIP Translated from the German. Set to music by Russ.

Sure not to life's short span confin'd, Shall sacred friendship glow; Beyond the grave the ardent mind, Its best delights shall know.

Blest scenes! where ills no more annoy, Where heav'n the flame approves; Where beats the heart to nought but joy, And ever lives and loves.

There friendship's matchless love shall shine, (To hearts like ours so dear!) There angels own its pow'r divine; Its native home is there!

For here below, tho' friendship's charm Its soft delights display; Yet souls like ours, so touch'd, so warm, Still pant for brighter day!

Phila. Repos., I, Appendix (Nov. 15, 1800-Nov. 7, 1801), Phila.

[The above appeared in the Musical Appendix.]


The stormy winter drives us from the green, Nor leaves a flower to decorate the scene; The winds arise—with sweep impetuous blow, And whirl around the flakes of fleecy snow; Yet shall imagination fondly rise And gather fair ideas as she flies: The images that blooming spring pourtrays, The sweets that bask in summer's sultry rays, The rich and varied fruits of autumn's reign Shall ope their treasures, in a bounteous train; Of these the best, with choicest care display'd, Shall form a wreath, for thee, my lovely maid! So the fond shepherd, for his darling fair, Culls beauteous flowers to deck her flowing hair. The garden's rise shall grace my humble strains; If Daphne smiles 'twill well repay my pains! 'Twas, in the morn of youth, a shepherd found This happy art to decorate the ground; This is the spot, the enamour'd Lycas cries, Lycas the young, the gentle and the wise; Under this elm, fair Adelaide first gave The kiss of love to her devoted slave! Whilst he, in am'rous accents told his flame, With beating heart and agitated frame! Here faint and weak my charmer sank to rest, On the warm pillow of my panting breast! "Lycas," with interrupting sobs, she said, "Take the soft secret of an am'rous maid: Of all the swains that strive this heart to move, 'Tis Lycas only Adelaide can love! Ye peaceful groves—ye solitary springs— To you I oft confess'd my secret stings! And ye, sweet flowers bear witness to the truth Of the soft flame that prey'd upon my youth; Oft have your leaves that round me clust'ring grew, Drank my warm tears as drops of morning dew." My heart is full—what transport is my own! For, in my bosom, love has fixed his throne. Sacred to love this spot shall ever stand Deck'd with luxuriant beauties by my hands. Under this elm, the shadiest of the trees, The rose shall pour its odours on the breeze; Around its trunk the woodbine too shall rear Its white and purple flowers aloft in air. The treasures of the spring shall hither flow; The piony by the lily here shall blow. Over the hills, and through the meads I'll roam, And bring the blooming spoils in rapture home: The purple violet, the pink shall join, The od'rous shrubs shall all their sweets combine, Of these a grove of balmy sort shall rise, And, with its fragrant blossoms, scent the skies! Then round this little favour'd isle, I'll bring, With gentle windings, yonder silver spring; While eglantine and thorn shall interpose Their hedge, a rampart 'gainst invading foes— Lest sheep and rambling goats the place annoy, And spoil the promise of our future joy. Oh then approach, ye favour'd of the loves! Come and dwell here ye gentle turtle doves! On yonder spreading branches, perch'd on high, With coos repeated greet the lover's sigh! Then sportive sparrows round the roses play, And sing, delighted, from the bending spray! Ye butterflies, arrayed in coats of gold, On beds of roses fluttering revels hold! Here rest, upon the lily's waving stalk, And add new beauty to the evening walk. Then shall the shepherd passing, free from care, When zephyr spreads the perfumes thro' the air, Inhale the fragrance, and with transport cry, What hallow'd place is this? what goddess nigh? Does Venus own this gay, enchanted place? Or has Diana, wearied in the chace, Chosen a spot where choicest sweets abound, To slumber on the consecrated ground?

P. D.

Port Folio, I-54, Feb. 14 1801, Phila.

[S. Gessner, Lycas, oder die Erfindung der Gaerten.]

For the Port Folio. MYRTILLO. An idyl, attempted from the German of Gessner.

At peaceful eve, Myrtillo sought the lake, Whilst the moon's beams upon its bosom played; The silent tract, illumin'd by its rays, The nightingale's enchanting tender note, Had held him bound in rapture's soothing trance. At length, arous'd, he homeward took his steps, And in the verdant bower, where clust'ring vines Before his lonely dwelling formed a porch Of simple structure, deeply slumbering found His venerable parent—his grey head Supported by his arm, while through the leaves The moon-beams pour'd their lustre on his face. With arms enfolded, and with swelling heart, He stood before his father—long he stood, His pious eyes fix'd fondly on the sage, Then rais'd them, swimming with his filial tears, And thro' the illumin'd leaves look'd up to heaven, Whilst grateful drops roll'd down his moisten'd cheek. Oh thou! at length he cried, whom, next the gods, I reverence, my father—ah, how soft Thy peaceful slumbers! Of the just and good How placid is the sleep! Thy tottering steps Were, doubtless, hither bent, in silent prayer To spend the hour of eve; but, at thy task Of duty, slumber seiz'd thee, whilst, for me, Thy prayer of love was wing'd into the skies, How happy is my lot! the fav'ring gods Must hear thy fond petition; else, why stands Our cot secure, amid the branches, bent With ripening fruit? why, else, such blessings shower'd Upon our healthy, fast increasing herd? Upon the golden produce of our fields? When oft the tear of joy bedew'd thy cheek, To see me, anxious, cherish and support Thy feeble age; when, towards the vault of heaven, You turn'd your swimming eyes, and blest your son; Ah! then, what words his blessings could express! My bosom swell'd with transport, and the tears O'erflow'd my glowing cheeks— When yester morn, reclining on my arm, You left our cot to feel the quickening beams Of the warm sun, and saw about thee sport The frolic herd, the trees, with fruit o'ercharg'd, And all the fertile country blooming round, "My hairs grow grey in peace," were then thy words; "Fields of my youth, be ever, ever blest! "My eyes, grow dim, shall not much longer view "Your heart-delighting scenes, for happier plains "Must I exchange you—plains beyond the skies." Ah, father, best belov'd, must I so soon Lose thee! my nearest friend!—distressing thought! Close to thy tomb, with filial love, I'll raise A modest altar, and with ardour seek Each blest occasion to relieve the woes Of the oppressed and wretched; on each day, That gives the happy chance of doing good, I'll pour sweet milk upon a parent's grave, And strew with flowers the ever sacred spot— He paus'd but kept his eyes, suffus'd with tears, Fix'd on the good old man; then, sighing; said, How still he lies, and smiles amidst his slumbers! Some of his virtuous deeds must hover o'er, In peaceful dreams, and fill his cheerful soul; Whilst the moon pours her rays upon his bare And shining temples, and his silver beard; Oh may the breeze, and dewy damps of eve— Do thee no harm. Then gently did he kiss His aged forehead, gently wak'd him up, And led him to his cot, in lighter sleep, On softest furs, to slumber out the night.

—P. D.

Port Folio, I-70, Feb. 28, 1801, Phila.

For the Port Folio. MYRTIL AND DAPHNE An Idyl. Attempted from Gessner.


Whither so early sister, ere the sun, Has, from behind yon hill, his course begun? Scarce has the swallow to the morning ray, Ventur'd to modulate his twittering lay. The early cock, whom richest plumes adorn Has yet but faintly hail'd the golden morn; Whilst thou, to some unknown attraction true, With hasty footsteps brush the silv'ry dew! What festival to-day, do you prepare, For fill'd with flowers, your basket scents the air.


Welcome dear brother, whither points thy way, Amidst the chilly damps of early day? On what fair purpose from yon new form'd bower, Hast thou come forth at twilight's silent hour? For me—I've pluck'd the violet and the rose, And sought each flower that round our cottage grows. Whilst o'er our parents gentle slumbers spread Their wings, I'll strew them on their peaceful bed; Then when the sunbeams gild the glowing skies Midst fragrant scents, they'll ope their aged eyes; Their hearts shall then with pious joy rebound, To find the blooming flowers, clust'ring round.


My best belov'd, not life itself can prove, Pleasing to me without a sister's love. For me, dear girl, when yester eve we met, Just as the sun had made a golden set, Our parent, resting on our fav'rite hill, Whilst we with fond attention watch'd his will; "How sweet (he cried) on yonder spot to rear, A shady bower to rest in, free from care!" I heard his wish as though I heard it not, Yet kept my thoughts fix'd firmly on the spot, And ere her early beams Aurora sent, My hasty steps toward the hill I bent, And rear'd the bower and to its verdant side, The waving, hazle branches, closely tied; See, sister, see, the work at length is done; Betray me not till I've his blessing won, Till he himself shall thither bend his way; Ah, then, with joy we'll celebrate the day.


How grateful, brother, will be his surprize, When first the distant bower shall greet his eyes! But let me haste and gently o'er their bed, My morning offering of fragrance spread.


When they shall wake amid the fragrant pile, They'll greet each other with a tender smile; And say, this is our Daphne's work, sweet child; Thus has our love the morning hours beguil'd. For our delight, how tender 'tis to keep A studious care whilst we were lock'd in sleep.


Yes, brother, when at his accustomed hour, Opening his casement he shall view thy bower, "Sure (he'll exclaim) I do not see aright, Or on yon hill an arbor greets my sight; Yes, that is Myrtil's work,—for this bereft Of his sweet sleep, his nightly couch he left: Such are the plans, his filial thoughts engage, And thus he soothes our fast declining age." And when with joy we'll greet the morning ray, With joy we'll celebrate the happy day, Each work to-day commenc'd shall prosper well, And peace and joy in every grove shall dwell.

P. D.

Port Folio, I-80, Mar. 7, 1801, Phila.

[S. Gessner, Mirtil und Daphne.]


Delia! when in your lover's eyes, At your approach soft lustre rise, When with charm'd ear, from thy sweet tongue, He listens to the thrilling song, O'er saddest scenes delights you fling, And winter wears the smile of spring.

When o'er the mead with you I stray, More fragrant is the new-mown hay, When gath'ring flow'rets at your side, The buds more vivid swell with pride, And bend, your snowy hand to meet, Or am'rous twine beneath your feet.

But when within your arms you press me, When with a long, long kiss you bless me, Ah! then in vain, the fairest flow'rs Exert their balmy-breathing pow'rs; In vain her sweets does Nature bring, In vain she wears the smile of spring.

Then Delia! nought on earth but thee, My ravish'd senses feel or see, With Love's wild frenzy then possessed, My trembling heart beats 'gainst thy breast, Then fondly sink, o'erpower'd with bliss, Only alive to Delia's kiss.

Q. V.

Port Folio, I-87, Mar. 14, 1801, Phila.

LEONORA. [b]. A Tale, from the German.

"Ah, William! art thou false or dead?" Cried Leonora from her bed. "I dreamt thou'dst ne'er return." William had fought in Frederick's host At Prague—and what his fate—if lost Or false, she could not learn.

Hungaria's queen and Prussia's king, Wearied, at length with bickering, Resolv'd to end the strife; And homewards, then, their separate routs The armies took, with songs and shouts, With cymbals, drum and fife.

As deck'd with boughs they march'd along, From every door, the old and young Rush'd forth the troops to greet. "Thank God," each child and parent cry'd, And "welcome, welcome," many a bride, As friends long parted meet.

They joy'd, poor Leonora griev'd: No kiss she gave, no kiss receiv'd; Of William none could tell; She rung her hands, and tore her hair; Till left alone in deep despair, Bereft of sense, she fell.

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