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But, as such, the Romantics, Milton, and the “Satanic” or Byronic Hero have been much on my mind of late.
Excerpt from Appendix C to “The Statesman’s Manual, or The Bible the Best Guide to Political Skill and Foresight” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge – 1816..
Satan Arousing the Rebel Angels
But in its utmost abstraction and consequent state of reprobation, the Will becomes satanic pride and rebellious self-idolatry in the relations of the spirit to itself, and remorseless despotism relatively to others; the more hopeless as the more obdurate by its subjugation of sensual impulses, by its superiority to toil and pain and pleasure.
In short, by the fearful resolve to find in itself alone the one absolute motive of action, under which all other motives from within and from without must be either subordinated or crushed.
This is the character which Milton has so philosophically as well as sublimely embodied in the Satan of his Paradise Lost. Alas! too often has it been embodied in real life!
Too often has it given a dark and savage grandeur to the historic page! And wherever it has appeared, under whatever circumstances of time and country, the same ingredients have gone to its composition; and it has been identified by the same attributes.
Hope in which there is no cheerfulness; steadfastness within and immovable resolve, with outward restlessness and whirling activity; violence with guile; temerity with cunning; and, as the result of all, interminableness of object with perfect indifference of means; these are the qualities that have constituted the commanding genius!
These are the marks that have characterized the masters of mischief, the liberticides, and mighty hunters of mankind, from Nimrodto Napoleon. And from inattention to the possibility of such a character as well as from ignorance of its elements, even men of honest intentions too frequently become fascinated.
Nay, whole nations have been so far duped by this want of insight and reflection as to regard with palliative admiration, instead of wonder and abhorrence, the Molocks of human nature, who are indebted, for the far larger portion of their meteoric success, to their total want of principle, and who surpass the generality of their fellow creatures in one act of courage only, that of daring to say with their whole heart, “Evil, be thou my good!
by Matthäus Kasimir von Collin (1779-1824), “Nachtfeier”
By Franz Peter Schubert (1797-1828), “Nacht und Träume”, op. 43 no. 2, D. 827 (1822?), published 1825. Translation © by KarenL.
Nacht und Träume
Holy night, you sink down;
Dreams also float down
As your moonlight fills the room,
Fills the sleeping hearts of men.
They listen with pleasure;
Crying, when the day awakes:
Return, fair night!
Fair dreams, return!
Excerpt, “The Sonnets of Europe.” A Volume of Translations, selected and arranged, with notes, by Samuel Waddington. 1886.
Excerpt, “A Book of Ballads from the German.” Translated by Percy Boyd, Esq. 1848.
THE WOMEN OF WEINSBERG
It was the good King Konrad with all his army lay
Before the town of Weinsberg full many a weary day;
The Guelph at last was vanquished, but still the town held out;
The bold and fearless burghers they fought with courage stout.
But then came hunger, hunger! That was a grievous guest;
They went to ask for favor, but anger met their quest.
"Through you the dust hath bitten full many a worthy knight,
And if your gates you open, the sword shall you requite!"
Then came the women, praying: "Let be as thou hast said,
Yet give us women quarter, for we no blood have shed!"
At sight of these poor wretches the hero's anger failed,
And soft compassion entered and in his heart prevailed.
"The women shall be pardoned, and each with her shall bear
As much as she can carry of her most precious ware;
The women with their burdens unhindered forth shall go,
Such is our royal judgment--we swear it shall be so!"
At early dawn next morning, ere yet the east was bright,
The soldiers saw advancing a strange and wondrous sight;
The gate swung slowly open, and from the vanquished town
Forth swayed a long procession of women weighted down;
For perched upon her shoulders each did her husband bear--
That was the thing most precious of all her household ware.
"We'll stop the treacherous women!" cried all with one intent;
The chancellor he shouted: "This was not what we meant!"
But when they told King Konrad, the good King laughed aloud;
"If this was not our meaning, they've made it so," he vowed,
"A promise is a promise, our loyal word was pledge;
It stands, and no Lord Chancellor may quibble or map hedge."
Thus was the royal scutcheon kept free from stain or blot!
The story has descended from days now half forgot;
'Twas eleven hundred and forty this happened, as I've heard,
The flower of German princes thought shame to break his word.
Translated by Kate Freiligrath-Kroeker
Prussian Cuirassiers at Battle of Gravelotte – Franco-Prussian War
Juliusz Kossak, 1871
Die Trompete von Gravelotte
Aug. 16, 1870
Death and Destruction they belched forth in vain,
We grimly defied their thunder;
Two columns of foot and batteries twain,
We rode and cleft them asunder.
With brandished sabres, with reins all slack,
Raised standards, and low-couched lances,
Thus we Uhlans and Cuirassiers wildly drove back,
And hotly repelled their advances.
But the ride was a ride of death and of blood;
With our thrusts we forced them to sever;
But of two whole regiments, lusty and good,
Out of two men, one rose never.
With breast shot through, with brow gaping wide,
They lay pale and cold in the valley,
Snatched away in their youth, in their manhood's pride--
Now, Trumpeter, sound to the rally!
And he took the trumpet, whose angry thrill
Urged us on to the glorious battle,
And he blew a blast--but all silent and still
Was the trump, save a dull hoarse rattle,
Save a voiceless wail, save a cry of woe,
That burst forth in fitful throbbing--
A bullet had pierced its metal through,
For the Dead the wounded was sobbing!
For the faithful, the brave, for our brethren all,
For the Watch on the Rhine, true-hearted!
Oh, the sound cut into our inmost soul!--
It brokenly wailed the Departed!
And now fell the night, and we galloped past,
Watch-fires were flaring and flying,
Our chargers snorted, the rain poured fast--
And we thought of the Dead and the Dying!
Excerpt, “The Poetry of Germany, Consisting from Upwards of Seventy of the Most Celebrated Poets.” Translated into English Verse by Alfred Baskerville. 1853.
The Right Word
Deep ’neath the Rhine’s green billow
A golden treasure lies,
Knew’st thou the spell of magic
’Twould at thy voice arise;
That magic word which holdeth,
With but a single sound,
The mighty torrent’s surges,
As if in fetters bound.
Deep in the valley buried
A sword all-conqu’ring lies,
And he who can possess it
Against the world may rise.
One word must first be spoken,
The earth then opens, and lo!
From out her rocky chambers
The steel will brightly glow.
And there on yonder mountains,
Deep in the shaft profound,
By dwarfs and gnomes well guarded,
There may a key be found;
It opens every portal,
For ever ’tis thy own,
Know’st thou ’mong words unnumbered
That one right word alone.
How have I mused already
In vain so long, so long,
Till, word by word commencing,
It ended in a song!
But still as yet lie hidden
That treasure, key, and sword,
And what I sang so often
Was never the right word.
Excerpt, “Lay of the Minnesingers, or German Troubadours of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries.” London: 1825. Translator: Edgar Taylor.
Like the sun’s uprising light
Shines that maid, before whom fade
Other charms, however bright;
As the stars at break of day,
Late so brilliant, fade away.
When my spirit light had flown
Wanton forth in pleasure’s quest,
Then those beaming have shone
O’er the rover’s path, and led
Home to her from whom it sped.
When again its wing it took
Falcon-like for joy to soar,
Ne’er the gentle spell it broke;
Soon again it sought its home
In that breast it wandered from.
O’er its fear was ever coming
Lest its mistress, at the thought
That for other loves ‘t was roaming,
Vengeful all its joys might blight;
Therefore back it winged its flight.‘
Théodore Géricault by Alexandre Colin, 1816.
And yet the essential element of him,
As of all such men,
Is not scorching fire…
But shining illuminative light.
1814 – The Wounded Cuirassier
Portrait of Lord Byron
The Kiss 1822
Cheval Gris Pommele
Horse-Market: Five-Horses-at-the-Stake 1816-19
Marie de Medici.
CHAMOUNY AT SUNRISE
.From the deep shadow of the silent fir-grove,
I lift my eyes, and trembling look on thee,
Brow of eternity, thou dazzling peak,
From whose calm height my dreaming spirit mounts
And sours away into the infinite!
Who sank the pillar in the lap of earth,
Down deep, the pillar of eternal rock,
On which thy mass stands firm, and firm hath stood,
While centuries on centuries rolled along?
Who reared, up-towering through the vaulted blue,
Mighty and bold, thy radiant countenance?
Who poured you from on-high with thunder-sound.
Down from old winter’s everlasting realm,
O jagged streams, over rock and through ravine?
And whose almighty voice commanded loud,
“Here shall the stiffening billows rest awhile!”
Whose finger points yon morning star his course?
Who fringed with blossom-wreaths the eternal frost?
Whose name, O wild Arveiron , does thy din
Of waves sound out in dreadful harmonies?
“Jehovah!” crashes in the burning ice;
Down through the gorge the rolling avalanche
Carries the word in thunder to the vales.
“Jehovah!” murmurs in the morning breeze.
Along the trembling tree-tops; down below
It whispers in the purling, silvery brooks.
Frederike Sophie Christiane Brun
Excerpt, “The Lock and Key Library: Classic Mystery and Detective Stories – German.” Edited by Julian Hawthorne, 1909.
Melanchthon was dancing with the Bat, whose costume represented her in an inverted position. the wings were folded close to the body, and in the claws she held a large gold hoop upright, which gave the impression that she was hanging, suspended from some imaginary point. The effect was grotesque, and it amused Melanchthon very much, for he had to peep through this gold hoop, which was exactly on a level with his face, while dancing with the Bat.
She was one of the most original masks — and at the same time one of the most repelling ones — at the fete of the Persian prince. She had even impressed his highness, Mohammed Darasche-Koh, the host.
“I know you, pretty one,” he had nodded to her, much to the amusement of the bystanders.
“It is certainly the little marquise, the intimate friend of the princess,” declared a Dutch councilor in a Rembrandt costume. He surmised this because she knew every turn and corner of the palace, to judge by her conversation. And but a few moments ago, when some cavalier had ordered felt boots and torches so that they might go down into the courtyard and indulge in snowballing, the Bat joined them and participated wildly in the game. It was then — and the Dutchman was quite ready to back it with a wager — that he had seen a well-known bracelet on her wrist.
“Oh, how interesting,” exclaimed a Blue Butterfly. “Couldn’t Melanchthon discreetly discover whether or not Count Faast is a slave of the princess?”
“Don’t speak so loud,” interrupted the Dutch councilor. “It is a mighty good thing that the orchestra played the close of that waltz fortissimo, for the prince was standing here only a moment since.”
“Better not speak of such things,” whispered an Egyptian, “for the jealousy of this Asiatic prince knows no bounds, and there are probably more explosives in the palace than we dream. Count de Faast has been playing with fire too long, and if Darasche-Koh suspects…”
A rough figure representing a huge knot dashed by them in wild flight to escape a Hellenic warrior in shimmering armour.
“If you were the Gordian knot, Mynherr, and were pursued by Alexander the Great, wouldn’t you be frightened?” teased the inverted Bat, tapping the Dutchman coquettishly on the end of the nose with her fan.
“The sharp wit of the pretty Marquise Bat betrays her,” smiled a lanky Satan with tail and cloven foot. “What a pity that only as a Bat are you to be seen with your feet in the air.”
The dull sound of a gong filled the room as an executioner appeared, draped in a crimson robe. He tapped a bronze gong, and then, resting his weight on his glittering cudgel, posed himself in the center of the big hall.
Out of every niche and lobby the maskers streamed toward him — harlequins, cannibals, an ibis, and some Chinese, Don Quixotes, Columbines, bayaderes and dominoes of all colors.
The crimson executioner distributed tablets of ivory inscribed with gold letters. “Oh, programmes for the entertainment!” chorused the crowd.
“THE MAN ON THE BOTTLE”
Marionette Comedy in the Spirit of Aubrey Beardsley
By Prince Mohammed Darasche-Koh
The Man in the Bottle …. Miguel, Count de Faast
The Man on the Bottle …. Prince Mohammed Darasche-Koh
The Lady in the Sudan Chair ….. ???
Vampires, Marionettes, Hunchbacks, Apes, Musicians
Scene of Action: A Tiger’s Maw
“What! The prince the author of this marionette play?”
“Probably a scene out of the “Thousand and One Nights.”
“But who will play the part of the Lady in the Sedan Chair?”
“Oh, there is a great surprise in store for us,” twittered a seductive Incroyable, leaning on the arm of an Abbe. “Do you know, the Pierrot with whom I danced the tarantelle was the Count de Faast, who is going to play the Man in the Bottle; and he confided a lot of things to me: the marionettes will be very grewsome — that is, for those who appreciate the spirit of the thing — and the prince had an elephant sent down from Hamburg — but you are not listening to me at all!” And the little one dropped the arm of her escort and bolted into the swirling crowd.
New groups of masks constantly poured out of the adjoining rooms through the wide doorways into the big hall, making a kaleidoscopic play of colors, while files of costumed guests stood admiring the wonderful mural frescoes that rose to the blue, star-dotted ceiling. Attendants served refreshments, sorbets and wines in the window niches.
With a rolling sound, the walls of the narrow end of the hall separated and a stage was pushed slowly into view. Its setting, in red brown and a flaming yellow proscenium, was a yawning tiger’s maw, the white teeth glittering above and below.
In the middle of the scene stood a huge glass bottle in the form of a globe, with walls at least a foot thick. It was about twice the height of an average man and very roomy. The back of the scene was draped with pink silk hangings.
Then the colossal ebony doors of the hall opened and admitted a richly caparisoned elephant, which advanced with majestic tread. On its head sat the crimson executioner guiding the beast with the butt of the cudgel. Chains of amethysts dangled from the elephant’s tusks, and plumes of peacock feathers nodded from its head. Heavily embroidered gold cloths streamed down from the back of the beast, skirting the floor; across its enormous forehead there was a network of sparkling jewels.
The maskers flocked around the advancing beast, shouting greetings to the gay group of actors seated in the palanquin; Prince Darasche-Koh with turban and aigrette, Count de Faast as Pierrot, marionettes and musicians, stiff as wooden puppets. The elephant reached the stage, and with its trunked lifted one man after another from its back. There was much applause and a yell of delight as the beast seized the Pierrot and sliding him into the neck of the bottle, closed the metal top. Then the Persian prince was placed on top of the bottle.
The musicians seated themselves in a semicircle, drawing forth strange, slender instruments. The elephant gazed at them a moment, then turned about and strode toward the door. Like a lot of happy children, the maskers clung to its trunk, ears, and tusks and tried to hold it back; but the animal seemed not to feel their weight at all.
The performance began, and somewhere, as if out of the ground, there arose weird music. The puppet orchestra of marionettes remained lifeless and waxen; the flute player stared with glassy, idiotic eyes at the ceiling; the features of the rococo conductor in peruke and plumed hat, holding the baton aloft and pressing a pointed finger mysteriously to his lips, were distorted by a shrewd, uncanny smile. In the foreground posed the marionettes. Here were grouped a humpbacked dwarf with chalky face, a gray grinning devil, and a sallow rouged actress with carmine lips. The three seemed possessed of some satanic secret that had paralyzed their movements. The semblance of death brooded over the entire motionless group.
The Pierrot in the bottle now began to move restlessly. He doffed his white felt hat, bowed and occasionally greeted the Persian prince, who with crossed legs sat on the cap of the bottle. His antics amused the audience. The thick walls of glass distorted his appearance curiously; sometimes his eyes seemed to pop out of his head; then again they disappeared, and one saw only forehead and chin; sometimes he was fat and bloated, then again slender with long legs like a spider’s.
In the midst of a motionless pause the red silk hangings of the background parted, and a closed sedan chair was carried on by two Moors, who placed it near the bottle. A ray of pale light from above now illuminated the scene. The spectators had formed themselves into two camps. The one was speechless under the spell of this vampiric, enigmatic marionette play that seemed to exhale an atmosphere of poisoned merriment; the other group, not sensitive enough to appreciate such a scene, laughed immoderately at the comical capering of the man in the bottle.
He had given up his merry dancing and was trying by every possible means to impart some information or other to the prince sitting on the cap. He pounded the walls of the bottle as though he would smash them; and to all appearances he was screaming at the top of his voice, although not the slightest sound penetrated the thick glass.
The Persian prince acknowledged the movements of the Pierrot with a smile pointing with his finger at the sedan chair.
The curiosity of the audience reached its climax when it saw that the Pierrot had pressed his face against the glass and was staring at something in the window of the sedan chair. Then suddenly, like one gone mad, he beat his face with his hands, sank on his knees and tore his hair. Then he sprang furiously up and raced around the bottle at such speed that the audience saw only a fluttering cloth in his wake.
The secret of the Lady in the Sedan Chair puzzled the audience considerably — they could only see that a white face was pressed against the window of the chair and was staring over at the bottle. Shadows cut off all further view.
Laughter and applause rose to a tumult. Pierrot had crouched on the bottom of the bottle, his fingers clutching his throat. Then he opened his mouth wide and pointed in wild frenzy to his chest and then to the one sitting above. He folded his hands in supplicaton, as though he were begging something from the audience.
“He wants something to drink! Such a large bottle and no wine in it? I say, you marionettes, give him a drink,” cried one of the maskers.
Everybody laughed and applauded.
Then the Pierrot jumped up once more, tore his garments from his chest and staggered about until he measured his length on the bottom of the bottle.
“Bravo, bravo, Pierrot! Wonderfully acted!” yelled the maskers.
When the man in the bottle did not stir again and made no effort to repeat his scene, the applause gradually subsided and the attention of the spectators was drawn to the marionettes. They still remained motionless in the poses they had assumed, but in their miens there was now a sense of expectancy that had not been there before. It seemed as if they were waiting for a cue.
The humpbacked dwarf, with the chalked face, turned his eyes carefully and gazed at the Prince Darasche-Koh. The Persian did not stir.
Finally, two figures advanced from the background, and one of the Moors haltingly approached the sedan chair and opened the door.
And then something very remarkable occurred — the body of a woman fell stiffly out on the stage. There was a moment of deathly silence and then a thousand voices arose: “What has happened?”
Marionettes, apes, musicians all leaped forward; maskers climbed up on the stage.
The princess, wife of Darasche-Koh, lay there strapped to a steel frame. Where the ropes had cut into her flesh were blue bruises, and in her mouth there was a silk gag.
A nameless horror took possession of the audience.
“Pierrot!” a voice suddenly shrilled. “Pierrot!” Like a dagger, indescribable fear penetrated every heart.
“Where is the prince?”
During the tumult, the Persian had disappeared.
Melanchthon stood on the shoulders of Mephisto, but he could not lift the cap on the bottle, and the air valve was screwed tightly shut.
“Break the walls of the bottle! Quick!”
The Dutch councilor tore the cudgel from the hand of the crimson executioner and with a leap landed on the stage.
A grewsome sound arose, like the toiling of a cracked bell. Like streaks of white lightning the cracks leaped across the surface of the glass. Finally the bottle was splintered into bits. And within it lay the body of the Count de Faast , his fingers clawing his breast.
Silently and with invisible pinions the gigantic ebony birds of terror streaked through the hall of the fete.
Excerpt, “A Metrical History of the Life and Times of Napoleon Bonaparte.” Editor William J. Hillis. New York: 1896.
Whatever his inclination may have been, Napoleon was not to be permitted to rest. Pitt, his greatest enemy, it is true, was dead, and Fox, his friend, had come into power in the English Cabinet, but this state of affairs was not to last. Fox dying, England succeeded in forming a new coalition between Russia, Prussia, and herself, and war was again declared against France.
Jena, Eylau, and Friedland, were the answer Napoleon gave to this challenge, and bitterly did Prussia, especially, pay for her rash attempt to free herself from the toils of the French conqueror. But the seed was being sown which was to bring forth victory and revenge for Prussia and all Germany. Defeat and humiliation were bringing to the surface those brave, unflinching spirits that nothing could conquer.
Had Frederick William been endowed with the same positive mind and courageous heart which Louisa, the Queen, possessed, the dawn of victory might have come sooner to that unhappy country. It took such soldiers as “Old Father Blucher” and such indomitable courage as Louisa possessed to cope with the magic power of Napoleon.
It is told that at the battle of Jena, when the Prussian army was routed, the Queen, mounted upon a superb charger, remained on the field attended only by three or four of her escort. A band of French hussars seeing her, rushed forward at full gallop, and with drawn swords dispersed the little group and pursued her all the way to Weimar.
Had not the horse her Majesty rode possessed the fleetness of a stag, the fair Queen would certainly have been captured.
The incident, be it history or not, gave occasion for the following poem.
The Queen of Prussia’s Ride
Fair Queen, away! To thy charger speak,
A band of hussars thy capture seek;
Oh, haste! Escape! They are riding this way,
Speak, speak to thy charger without delay;
Behold! They come at a break-neck pace,
A smile triumphant illumes each face,
Queen of the Prussians, now for a race,
To Weimar for safety … fly!
She turned, and her steed with a furious dash,
Over the field like the lightning’s flash –
Away, like an arrow from steel cross-bow,
Over hill and dale in the sun’s fierce flow,
The Queen and her enemies thundering go,
On toward Weimar they sped.
The royal courser is swift and brave,
And his royal rider he tries to save,
“Vive l’Empereur!” rings sharp and clear;
She turns and is startled to see them so near,
Then softly speaks in her charger’s ear,
And away he bounds like a roe.
He speeds as though on the wings of the wind,
The Queen’s pursuers are left behind,
She fears, though each trooper grasps his reins,
Stands up in his stirrups, strikes spurs and strains;
For ride as they may, her steed still gains,
And Weimar is just before.
Safe! The clatter now fainter grows,
She sees in the distance her labouring foes,
The gates of the fortress stand open wide
To welcome the German nation’s bride
With gallop and dash, into Weimar she goes,
And the gates at once on her enemies close.
Give thanks, give thanks! She is safe with those
Who hail her with cheer on cheer!
Battle of Jenaa
THE ROGUE AND HIS MASTER
A certain man, named John, was desirous that his son should learn some trade, and he went into the church to ask the priest’s opinion what would be most desirable. Just then the clerk was standing near the altar, and he cried out, “The rogue, the rogue!”
At these words the man went away, and told his son he must learn to be a rogue, for so the priest had said. So they set out, and asked one man and another whether he was a rogue, till, at the end of the day, they entered a large forest, and there found a little hut with an old woman in it.
John asked the old woman, “Do you know any man who can teach roguery?
“Here,” said the old woman, “here you may learn, for my son is a master of the art.”
Then John asked the son whether he could teach it perfectly?
Said the rogue: “I will teach your son well; return in four years, and if you know your son then I will not ask any recompense; but if you do not, then you must give me two hundred dollars.”
John now went home, and left his son to learn roguery and witchcraft. When the time was up, the father set out to see his son, considering as he went along by what he should know him. On his away he met a little man, who stopped him, and asked, “Why are you grieving and looking so mournful?”
“Oh,” replied John, “four years ago I left my son to learn roguery, and the master said, if I returned in that time and knew my son, I should have nothing to pay; but if I did not know him, I must give him two hundred dollars. Since I have no means of recognizing him, I am troubled where to procure the money.”
Then the little man told him to take a basket of bread with him, and when he came to the rogue’s house to put the basket under a hollow tree which stood there. The little bird which should peep out would be his son.
John went and did as he was told, and out came a little bird to peck at the bread. “Holloa, my son! Are you here?”
The son was very glad to hear his father’s voice. “Father, let us go!”
But first the rogue-master called out, “The Evil One must have told you where to find your son!”
So the father and son returned home, and on their way they met a coach. The son said to his father. “I will change myself into a fine greyhound, and then you can earn some money by me.”
The lord who was riding in the coach called out, “Man, will you sell your dog?”
“Yes,” replied the father.
“How much do you want for him?”
“That is too much, my man,” said the lord, but on account of his very beautiful coat I will buy him of you.”
The bargain concluded, the dog was put inside the coach; but when they had traveled a mile or two, the greyhound jumped right out through the glass, and rejoined his father.
After this adventure they went home together, and the following day they went to the next village to market. On their way the son said, “Father, I will change myself into a horse, and then you can sell me. But first untie my bridle, and then I can change myself into the form of a man.”
The father drove his horse to market, and thither came the rogue-master and bought him for a hundred dollars.
But the father forgot to untie the bridle.
The rogue rode his horse home, and put him in the stable, and when the maid came with the corn, the horse said to her, “Undo my bridle, undo my bridle!”
“Ah, can you speak?” She was terrified, and untied the horse directly.
The horse thereupon became a sparrow, and flew away out at the door, pursued by the rogue, who changed himself also into a bird.
When they came up with each other, the rogue changed himself into water, and the other into a fish. But the rogue could not catch him so, and he changed himself into a cock.
But the other became a fox, and ate him..
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