Category Archives: Schiller

Friedrich Schiller: “The Battle”

austrian-prussian-cuirassiers-1200Austrian and Prussian cuirassiers at the

Battle of Lobositz

Seven Years War, 1st October, 1756


The Battle

Heavy and solemn,
A cloudy column,
Through the green plain they marching came!
Measure less spread, like a table dread,
For the wild grim dice of the iron game.
The looks are bent on the shaking ground,
And the heart beats loud with a knelling sound;
Swift by the breasts that must bear the brunt,
Gallops the major along the front–
And fettered they stand at the stark command,
And the warriors, silent, halt!
Proud in the blush of morning glowing,
What on the hill-top shines in flowing,
“See you the foeman’s banners waving?”
“We see the foeman’s banners waving!”
“God be with ye–children and wife!”
Hark to the music–the trump and the fife,
How they ring through the ranks which they rouse to the strife!
Thrilling they sound with their glorious tone,
Thrilling they go through the marrow and bone!
Brothers, God grant when this life is o’er,
In the life to come that we meet once more!
See the smoke how the lightning is cleaving asunder!
Hark the guns, peal on peal, how they boom in their thunder!
From host to host, with kindling sound,
The shouting signal circles round,
Ay, shout it forth to life or death–
Freer already breathes the breath!
The war is waging, slaughter raging,
And heavy through the reeking pall,
The iron death-dice fall!
Nearer they close–foes upon foes
“Ready!”–From square to square it goes,
Down on the knee they sank,
And fire comes sharp from the foremost rank.
Many a man to the earth it sent,
Many a gap by the balls is rent–

O’er the corpse before springs the hinder man,
That the line may not fail to the fearless van,
To the right, to the left, and around and around,
Death whirls in its dance on the bloody ground.
God’s sunlight is quenched in the fiery fight,
Over the hosts falls a brooding night!
Brothers, God grant when this life is o’er
In the life to come that we meet once more!
The dead men lie bathed in the weltering blood
And the living are blent in the slippery flood,
And the feet, as they reeling and sliding go,
Stumble still on the corpses that sleep below.
“What, Francis!” “Give Charlotte my last farewell.”
As the dying man murmurs, the thunders swell–
“I’ll give–Oh God! are their guns so near?
Ho! comrades!–yon volley!–look sharp to the rear!–
I’ll give thy Charlotte thy last farewell,
Sleep soft! where death thickest descendeth in rain,
The friend thou forsakest thy side shall regain!”
Hitherward–thitherward reels the fight,
Dark and more darkly day glooms into night–
Brothers, God grant when this life is o’er
In the life to come that we meet once more!
Hark to the hoofs that galloping go!
The adjutant flying,–
The horsemen press hard on the panting foe,
Their thunder booms in dying–
The terror has seized on the dastards all,
And their colors fall!
Closed is the brunt of the glorious fight
And the day, like a conqueror, bursts on the night,
Trumpet and fife swelling choral along,
The triumph already sweeps marching in song.
Farewell, fallen brothers, though this life be o’er,
There’s another, in which we shall meet you once more!


Schiller: “Arouse ye, my comrades, to horse! to horse!”

Excerpt, “The Camp of Wallenstein,” by Friedrich Schiller. From Scene XI. Translated by James Churchill.

wallenstein's camp



Arouse ye, my comrades, to horse! to horse!

To the field and to freedom we guide!

For there a man feels the pride of his force

And there is the heart of him tried.

No help to him there by another is shown,

He stands for himself and himself alone.


[The soldiers from the background have come forward during the singing

of this verse and form the chorus.]




No help to him by another is shown,

He stands for himself and himself alone.




Now freedom hath fled from the world, we find

But lords and their bondsmen vile

And nothing holds sway in the breast of mankind

Save falsehood and cowardly guile.

Who looks in death’s face with a fearless brow,

The soldier, alone, is the freeman now.




Who looks in death’s face with a fearless brow,

The soldier, alone, is the freeman now.




With the troubles of life he ne’er bothers his pate,

And feels neither fear nor sorrow;

But boldly rides onward to meet with his fate—

He may meet it to-day, or to-morrow!

And, if to-morrow ’twill come, then, I say,

Drain we the cup of life’s joy to-day!




And, if to-morrow ’twill come, then, I say,

Drain we the cup of life’s joy to-day!


[The glasses are here refilled, and all drink.]




‘Tis from heaven his jovial lot has birth;

Nor needs he to strive or toil.

The peasant may grope in the bowels of earth,

And for treasure may greedily moil

He digs and he delves through life for the pelf,

And digs till he grubs out a grave for himself.




He digs and he delves through life for the pelf,

And digs till he grubs out a grave for himself.




The rider and lightning steed—a pair

Of terrible guests, I ween!

From the bridal-hall, as the torches glare,


[Unbidden they join the Scene]


Nor gold, nor wooing, his passion prove;

By storm he carries the prize of love!




Nor gold, nor wooing, his passion prove;

By storm he carries the prize of love!




Why mourns the wench with so sorrowful face?

Away, girl, the soldier must go!

No spot on the earth is his resting-place;

And your true love he never can know.

Still onward driven by fate’s rude wind,

He nowhere may leave his peace behind.




     Still onward driven by fate’s rude wind,

     He nowhere may leave his peace behind.




[He takes the two next to him by the hand—the others do the same—and

form a large semi-circle.]

     Then rouse ye, my comrades—to horse! to horse!

     In battle the breast doth swell!

     Youth boils—the life-cup foams in its force—

     Up! ere time can dew dispel!

     And deep be the stake, as the prize is high—

   Who life would win, he must dare to die!




     And deep be the stake, as the prize is high—

     Who life would win, he must dare to die!



Schiller: “The Invincible Armada”





She comes, she comes—the burden of the deeps!

Beneath her wails the universal sea!

With clanking chains and a new god, she sweeps,

And with a thousand thunders, unto thee!

The ocean-castles and the floating hosts—

Ne’er on their like looked the wild water!—Well

May man the monster name “Invincible.”

O’er shuddering waves she gathers to thy coasts!

The horror that she spreads can claim

Just title to her haughty name.

The trembling Neptune quails

Under the silent and majestic forms;

The doom of worlds in those dark sails;—

Near and more near they sweep! and slumber all the storms!


Before thee, the array,

Blest island, empress of the sea!

The sea-born squadrons threaten thee,

And thy great heart, Britannia!

Woe to thy people, of their freedom proud—

She rests, a thunder heavy in its cloud!

Who, to thy hand the orb and sceptre gave,

That thou should’st be the sovereign of the nations?

To tyrant kings thou wert thyself the slave,

Till freedom dug from law its deep foundations;

The mighty Chart the citizens made kings,

And kings to citizens sublimely bowed!

And thou thyself, upon thy realm of water,

Hast thou not rendered millions up to slaughter,

When thy ships brought upon their sailing wings

The sceptre—and the shroud?

What should’st thou thank?—Blush, earth, to hear and feel

What should’st thou thank?—Thy genius and thy steel!

Behold the hidden and the giant fires!

Behold thy glory trembling to its fall!

Thy coming doom the round earth shall appal,

And all the hearts of freemen beat for thee,

And all free souls their fate in thine foresee—

Theirs is thy glory’s fall!


One look below the Almighty gave,

Where streamed the lion-flags of thy proud foe;

And near and wider yawned the horrent grave.

“And who,” saith He, “shall lay mine England low—

The stem that blooms with hero-deeds—

The rock when man from wrong a refuge needs—

The stronghold where the tyrant comes in vain?

Who shall bid England vanish from the main?

Ne’er be this only Eden freedom knew,

Man’s stout defence from power, to fate consigned.”

God the Almighty blew,

And the Armada went to every wind!



Schiller: “Genius”



Do I believe, thou ask'st, the Master's word,
The Schoolman's shibboleth that binds the herd?
To the soul's haven is there but one chart?
Its peace a problem to be learned by art?
On system rest the happy and the good?
To base the temple must the props be wood?

Must I distrust the gentle law, imprest,
To guide and warn, by Nature on the breast,
Till, squared to rule the instinct of the soul,--
Till the School's signet stamp the eternal scroll,
Till in one mold some dogma hath confined
The ebb and flow--the light waves--of the mind?

Say thou, familiar to these depths of gloom,
Thou, safe ascended from the dusty tomb,
Thou, who hast trod these weird Egyptian cells--
Say--if Life's comfort with yon mummies dwells!--
Say--and I grope--with saddened steps indeed--
But on, thro' darkness, if to Truth it lead!

Nay, Friend, thou know'st the golden time--the age
Whose legends live in many a poet's page?
When heavenlier shapes with Man walked side by side,
And the chaste Feeling was itself a guide;
Then the great law, alike divine amid
Suns bright in Heaven, or germs in darkness hid—

That silent law--(call'd whether by the name
Of Nature or Necessity, the same),
To that deep sea, the heart, its movement gave--
Sway'd the full tide, and freshened the free wave.
Then sense unerring--because unreproved--
True as the finger on the dial moved,
Half-guide, half-playmate, of Earth's age of youth,
The sportive instinct of Eternal Truth.

Then, nor Initiate nor Profane were known;
Where the Heart felt--there Reason found a throne:
Not from the dust below, but life around
Warm Genius shaped what quick Emotion found.
One rule, like light, for every bosom glowed,
Yet hid from all the fountain whence it flowed.
But, gone that blessed Age!--our wilful pride
Has lost, with Nature, the old peaceful Guide.

Feeling, no more to raise us and rejoice,
Is heard and honored as a Godhead's voice;
And, disenhallowed in its eldest cell
The Human Heart--lies mute the Oracle,
Save where the low and mystic whispers thrill
Some listening spirit more divinely still.

There, in the chambers of the inmost heart,
There, must the Sage explore the Magian's art;
There, seek the long-lost Nature's steps to track,
Till, found once more, she gives him Wisdom back!
Hast thou--(O Blest, if so, whate'er betide!)--
Still kept the Guardian Angel by thy side?

Can thy Heart's guileless childhood yet rejoice
In the sweet instinct with its warning voice?
Does Truth yet limn upon untroubled eyes,
Pure and serene, her world of Iris-dies?
Rings clear the echo which her accent calls
Back from the breast, on which the music falls?

In the calm mind is doubt yet hush'd--and will
That doubt tomorrow, as today, be still?
Will all these fine sensations in their play,
No censor need to regulate and sway?
Fear'st thou not in the insidious Heart to find
The source of Trouble to the limpid mind?

No!--then thine Innocence thy Mentor be!
Science can teach thee naught--she learns from thee!
Each law that lends lame succor to the Weak--
The cripple's crutch--the vigorous need not seek!
From thine own self thy rule of action draw;
That which thou dost--what charms thee--is thy Law,
And founds to every race a code sublime--
What pleases Genius gives a Law to Time!

The Word--the Deed--all Ages shall command,
Pure if thy lip and holy if thy hand!
Thou, thou alone mark'st not within thy heart
The inspiring God whose Minister thou art,
Know'st not the magic of the mighty ring
Which bows the realm of Spirits to their King:
But meek, nor conscious of diviner birth,
Glide thy still footsteps thro' the conquered Earth!

Schiller: “Monument of Moor the Robber”




A Suppressed Poem


‘Tis ended!

Welcome! ’tis ended

Oh thou sinner majestic,

All thy terrible part is now played!


Noble abased one!

Thou, of thy race beginner and ender!

Wondrous son of her fearfulest humor,

Mother Nature’s blunder sublime!


Through cloud-covered night a radiant gleam!

Hark how behind him the portals are closing!

Night’s gloomy jaws veil him darkly in shade!

Nations are trembling,


At his destructive splendor afraid!

Thou art welcome! ‘Tis ended!

Oh thou sinner majestic,

All thy terrible part is now played!



In the cradle of wide-open heaven!

Terrible sight to each sinner that breathes,

When the hot thirst for glory

Raises its barriers over against the dread throne!


See! to eternity shame has consigned thee!

To the bright stars of fame

Thou hast clambered aloft, on the shoulders of shame!

Yet time will come when shame will crumble beneath thee,

When admiration at length will be thine!


With moist eye, by thy sepulchre dreaded,

Man has passed onward—

Rejoice in the tears that man sheddeth,

Oh thou soul of the judged!


With moist eye, by the sepulchre dreaded,

Lately a maiden passed onward,

Hearing the fearful announcement

Told of thy deeds by the herald of marble;

And the maiden—rejoice thee! rejoice thee!


Sought not to dry up her tears.

Far away I stood as the pearls were falling,

And I shouted: Amalia!


Oh, ye youths! Oh, ye youths!—

With the dangerous lightning of genius

Learn to play with more caution!


Wildly his bit champs the charger of Phoebus;

Though, ‘neath the reins of his master,

More gently he rocks earth and heaven,

Reined by a child’s hand, he kindles

Earth and heaven in blazing destruction!


Obstinate Phaeton perished,

Buried beneath the sad wreck.


Child of the heavenly genius!

Glowing bosom all panting for action!

Art thou charmed by the tale of my robber?

Glowing like time was his bosom, and panting for action!

He, like thee, was the child of the heavenly genius.


But thou smilest and goest—

Thy gaze flies through the realms of the world’s long story,

Moor, the robber, it finds not there—

Stay, thou youth, and smile not!

Still survive all his sins and his shame—

Robber Moor liveth—in all but name.


Schiller: “The Rider’s Song”

Excerpt, “Ballads from the German.” Translator: Henry Inglis. 1864


“The Rider’s Song”


Mount, brothers, mount!  To the field – to the field!

To the battle of Freedom away!

Still in the battle the Man is revealed;

And his pulses still beat in the fray:

Spirit and hand in the fight are his own;

And he stands in his manhood alone.


Earth is a dungeon, and Freedom hath fled,

Here are none but the lord and the slave;

Nations of impotent cowards are led

By the crafty and not by the brave:

He who the skeleton monarch can scan

With a warrior’s glance — is a man.


For him is no fear, for him is no care;

Life’s disquiets, he casts them away;

Rides to the battle to do and to dare –

Or tomorrow he falls, or today:

Fate may decree him tomorrow’s delay;

Let him labor for Freedom today.


Blest is the lot of the warrior bold!

He is free from the husbandman’s toil,

The earthworm that creeps and drudges for gold,

With his spade in the festering soil;

In digging and delving his moments are passed,

And he digs his own graves at the last.


Godlike the man on his courser of fire!

Of the race of the Centaurs is he!

Unbidden he comes in his grim attire

To the hall of wedding revelry:

Short is his wooing and scanty his gold;

But the loved one he bears from the fold.


Why weeps the pale maiden?  Why doth she wail?

Let the rover go – the rover go;

Inconstant is he from the summer gale;

He hath no home on the earth below;

He is born by fate on the billow’s crest;

The foot of the soldier knows no rest.


Loosen your swords at the trumpeter’s peal!

For the riders who wield them – til well!

When brothers are bound by heart-strings of steel,

Earth will tremble at victory’s kneel;

No scepter is held so high or so fast,

But the rider will reach it at last.


Mount the war-horses and tighten the reins;

Bare your swords and your breasts to the foe;

Come with the life-blood of youth in your veins,

While the flood tide is yet at the flow;

But if there be aught in your courage untrue,

To freedom and life bid adieu.


Schiller: “Pegasus in Harness”




Once to a horse-fair,—it may perhaps have been
Where other things are bought and sold,—I mean
At the Haymarket,—there the muses' horse
A hungry poet brought—to sell, of course.

'The hippogriff neighed shrilly, loudly,
And reared upon his hind-legs proudly;
In utter wonderment each stood and cried:
"The noble regal beast!" But, woe betide!

Two hideous wings his slender form deface,
The finest team he else would not disgrace.
"The breed," said they, "is doubtless rare,
But who would travel through the air?"

Not one of them would risk his gold.
At length a farmer grew more bold:
"As for his wings, I of no use should find them,
But then how easy 'tis to clip or bind them!

The horse for drawing may be useful found,—
So, friend, I don't mind giving twenty pound!"
The other glad to sell his merchandise,
Cried, "Done!"—and Hans rode off upon his prize.

The noble creature was, ere long, put-to,
But scarcely felt the unaccustomed load,
Than, panting to soar upwards, off he flew,
And, filled with honest anger, overthrew
The cart where an abyss just met the road.

"Ho! ho!" thought Hans: "No cart to this mad beast
I'll trust. Experience makes one wise at least.
To drive the coach to-morrow now my course is,
And he as leader in the team shall go.

The lively fellow'll save me full two horses;
As years pass on, he'll doubtless tamer grow."
All went on well at first. The nimble steed
His partners roused,—like lightning was their speed.

What happened next? Toward heaven was turned his eye,—
Unused across the solid ground to fly,
He quitted soon the safe and beaten course,
And true to nature's strong resistless force,

Ran over bog and moor, o'er hedge and pasture tilled;
An equal madness soon the other horses filled—
No reins could hold them in, no help was near,
Till,—only picture the poor travellers' fear!—

The coach, well shaken, and completely wrecked,
Upon a hill's steep top at length was checked.

"If this is always sure to be the case,"
Hans cried, and cut a very sorry face,
"He'll never do to draw a coach or wagon;
Let's see if we can't tame the fiery dragon
By means of heavy work and little food."

And so the plan was tried.—But what ensued?
The handsome beast, before three days had passed,
Wasted to nothing. "Stay! I see at last!"
Cried Hans. "Be quick, you fellows! yoke him now
With my most sturdy ox before the plough."

No sooner said than done. In union queer
Together yoked were soon winged horse and steer.
The griffin pranced with rage, and his remaining might
Exerted to resume his old-accustomed flight.

'Twas all in vain—his partner stepped with circumspection,
And Phoebus' haughty steed must follow his direction;
Until at last, by long resistance spent,
When strength his limbs no longer was controlling,
The noble creature, with affliction bent,
Fell to the ground, and in the dust lay rolling.

"Accursed beast!" at length with fury mad
Hans shouted, while he soundly plied the lash,—
"Even for ploughing, then, thou art too bad!—
That fellow was a rogue to sell such trash!"

Ere yet his heavy blows had ceased to fly,
A brisk and merry youth by chance came by.
A lute was tinkling in his hand,
And through his light and flowing hair
Was twined with grace a golden band.

"Whither, my friend, with that strange pair?"
From far he to the peasant cried.
"A bird and ox to one rope tied—
Was such a team e'er heard of, pray?

Thy horse's worth I'd fain essay;
Just for one moment lend him me,—
Observe, and thou shalt wonders see!"

The hippogriff was loosened from the plough,
Upon his back the smiling youth leaped now;
No sooner did the creature understand
That he was guided by a master-hand,
Than 'ginst his bit he champed, and upward soared
While lightning from his flaming eyes outpoured.

No longer the same being, royally
A spirit, ay, a god, ascended he,
Spread in a moment to the stormy wind
His noble wings, and left the earth behind,
And, ere the eye could follow him,
Had vanished in the heavens dim.


Schiller: “Criminal From Lost Honour” 1/2

Excerpt, “Tales from the German, Comprising Specimens from the Most Celebrated Authors.” London: 1844. Translator: John Oxenford.
Translator’s Note: Goethe and Schiller have attained that universal celebrity, that it would be mere impertinence to say any thing about their lives in a sketch like this.
Those eminent promoters of German literature in this country, Mr. T. Carlyle and Sir E. B. Lytton, have done all they could to make the English public familiar with the life of Schiller, and a tolerably full notice of his literary progress will be found in No. LX. of the Foreign Quarterly Review. Those who can read German are recommended to the elaborate life of Schiller by Dr. Hoffmeister, which is a perfect treasury of information and criticism.
Schiller’s “Criminal from Lost Honour” was written during what is called the “second period” of his life, when after the completion of Don Carlos he had quitted dramatic writing for a time, and devoted himself to the study of philosophy and history. The facts of the story he had learned from his friend Abel at an early period. Hoffmeister’s remarks on this story may be found interesting.
“This misguided man, Wolf,” says Hoffmeister, “appears as a mournful sacrifice to the law, which, from this example, should learn mercy. The severity of law has, from a merely conventional offence, elicited a grievous crime, and him, who sinned from thoughtlessness, and was delivered to the care of justice, she has cast off as though he were absolutely worthless.
The progress in crime, which is gradually forced upon the man by civil institutions, and his return to virtue, when vice has completed her lesson, are developed and painted to our eyes with extraordinary art. Every action is deduced from thoughts and motives; and these, again, are deduced from states of mind, which necessarily result from the reciprocal action which the soul of the man, and the circumstances by which he was surrounded, had upon each other.
Everywhere do we find natural connexion; not a link in the chain is wanting. This psychological novel, like a tragedy, awakens in the reader not only pity, but terror. He feels that in the situation of the unhappy man, he would not have been better himself.
The writer fulfills his purpose of plucking us down from our proud security. Man is just as good or bad, we say to ourselves, as his external situation; out external situation is the fate of all of us and we see in the history of a single individual a sketch of the common lot of man. Moreover, this history of the ‘criminal’ is so remarkable in point of style, that one always reads it with fresh interest.
The language is extremely simple, clear, and natural, and there is not a trace of the wearisome, constantly occurring breaks, and the affected antitheses that marked Schiller’s early style. Every thing shows that the author moved in a clear, free element. In some portions he has been eminently successful; as, for instance, in describing the poacher’s state of mind, when he is about to point his gun, at his evil genius, Robert.
If, after all our praise, we have one particular to blame, it is this circumstance, that the weakly and delicate ‘ Host of the Sun,’ who had not as yet distinguished himself in the trade of thieving, should have been unanimously chosen by the robbers for their leader, on his first entrance into their cave. Although he was well known to them as a good poacher, they might yet have reasonable doubts whether he was qualified to be their captain.”




In the whole history of man there is no chapter more instructive for the heart and mind than the annals of his errors. On the occasion of every great crime a proportionally great force was in motion.

If by the pale light of ordinary emotions the play of the desiring faculty is concealed, in the situation of strong passion it becomes the more striking, the more colossal, the more audible, and the acute investigator of humanity, who knows how much may be properly set down to the account of the mechanism of the ordinary freedom of the will, and how far it is allowable to reason by analogy, will be able from this source to gather much fresh experience for his psychology, and render it applicable to moral life.

The human heart is something so uniform and at the same time so compound! One and the same faculty or desire may play in a thousand forms and directions, may produce a thousand contradictory phenomena, may appear differently mingled in a thousand characters, and a thousand dissimilar characters and actions might be spun out of one kind of inclination, though the particular man, about whom the question was raised, might have no suspicion of such affinity.

If, as for the other kingdoms of nature, a Linnaeus for the human race were to arise, who could classify according to inclinations and impulses, how great would be the empire, when many a person whose vices are now stifled in a narrow social sphere, and in the close confines of the law, was found in the same order with the monster Borgia.

Considered from this point of view, the usual mode of treating history is open to much objection, and herein, I think, lies the difficulty, owing to which the study of history has always been so unfruitful for civil life. Between the vehement emotions of the man in action, and the quiet mind of the reader, to whom the action is presented, there is such a repelling contrast, such a wide interval, that it is difficult, nay, impossible for the latter, even to suspect a connexion.

A gap remains between the subject of the history and the reader which cuts off all possibility of comparison or application, and which, instead of awakening that wholesome alarm, that warns too secure health, merely calls forth the shake of the head denoting suspicion. We regard the unhappy person, who was still a man as much as ourselves, both when he committed the act and when he atoned for it, as a creature of another species, whose blood flows differently from our own, and whose will does not obey the same regulations as our own.

His fate teaches us but little, as sympathy is only founded on an obscure consciousness of similar peril, and we are far removed even from the bare suspicion of such similarity.

The relation being lost, instruction is lost with it, and history, instead of being a school of cultivation, must rest content with the humble merit of having satisfied our curiosity. If it is to become anything more and attain its great purpose, it must choose one of these two plans: either the reader must become as warm as the hero, or the hero must become as cold as the reader.

I am aware that many of the best historians, both of ancient and modern times, have adhered to the first method, and have gained the heart of their reader, by a style which carries him along with the subject. But this is an usurpation on the part of the author, and an infringement on the republican freedom of the reading public, which is itself entitled to sit in judgment: it is at the same time a violation of the law of boundaries, since this method belongs exclusively and properly to the orator and the poet. The last method is alone open to the historian.

The hero then must be as cold as the reader or what comes to the same thing we must become acquainted with him before he begins to act; we must see him not only perform, but will his action. His thoughts concern us infinitely more than his deeds, and the sources of his thoughts still more than the consequences of his deeds. The soil of Vesuvius has been explored to discover the origin of its eruption; and why is less attention paid to a moral than to a physical phenomenon?

Why do we not equally regard the nature and situation of the things which surround a certain man, until the tinder collected within him takes fire? The dreamer, who loves the wonderful is charmed by the singularity and wonder of such a phenomenon; but the friend of truth seeks a mother for these lost children. He seeks her in the unalterable structure of the human soul, and in the variable conditions by which it is influenced from without, and by searching both these he is sure to find her.

He is now no more astonished to see the poisonous hemlock thriving in that bed, in every other part of which wholesome herbs are growing, to find wisdom and folly, virtue and vice, together in the same cradle.

Not to mention any of the advantages which psychology derives from such a method of treating history, this method has alone the preference, because it uproots the cruel scorn and proud security with which erect and untempted virtue commonly looks down upon the fallen, because it diffuses the mild spirit of toleration, without which no fugitive can return, no reconciliation between the law and its offender is possible, no infected member of society can escape utter mortification.

Had the criminal of whom I am now about to speak a right to appeal to that spirit of toleration? Was he really lost for the bodyof the state, without a possibility of redemption? I will not anticipate the reader’s verdict. Our leniency will no more avail him, since he perished by the hand of the executioner, but the dissection of his crime will perhaps instruct humanity, and possibly instruct justice also.

Christian Wolf was the son of an innkeeper in a provincial town (the name of which must be concealed for reasons which will be obvious in the sequel), and, his father being dead, he assisted his mother in the business till his twentieth year. The business was bad, and Wolf had many an idle hour. Even from his school days he was notorious as a loose kind of fellow.

Grown up girls complained of his audacity, and the lads of the town reverenced his inventive powers. Nature had neglected his person. A little insignificant figure, curly hair of an unpleasant blackness, a flat nose, and a swollen upper lip, which had been moreover put out of its place by the kick of a horse, gave a repulsiveness to his appearance, which scared all the women away from him, and afforded abundant material for the wit of his comrades.

Obstinately did he endeavour to gain what had been denied him; because he was unpleasant he determined to please. He was sensual, and persuaded himself that he was in love. The girl whom he chose ill-treated him; he had reason to fear his rivals were more fortunate; nevertheless the girl was poor.

A heart that was closed to his endearments might possibly open to his presents, but he himself was oppressed by want, and his vain endeavour to produce an effective exterior absorbed the small gains of his miserable business.

Too indolent and too ignorant to restore his dilapidated affairs by speculation, too proud, and also too delicate to exchange the condition of master which he had hitherto held, for that of peasant, he saw but one path before him a path which thousands before and after him have taken with better success that of stealing honestly. His native town bordered on a wood, which belonged to the sovereign; he turned poacher, and the profits of his depredations were faithfully placed in the hands of his mistress.

Among the lovers of Johanna was Robert, a huntsman in the service of the forester. This man soon perceived the advantage which had been gained over him by the liberality of his rival, and filled with envy, he investigated the source of this change. He appeared more frequently at the Sun this was the sign of the inn and his watchful eye, sharpened by envy and jealousy, soon showed him whence the money had been procured.

A short time before, a severe edict had been revived against poachers, condemning transgressors to the house of correction. Robert was unwearied in observing the secret paths of his rival, and finally succeeded in catch the unwary man in the very fact. Wolf was apprehended, and it was only by the sacrifice of all his property, that he was able and then with difficulty to escape the awarded punishment by a fine.

Robert triumphed. His rival was beaten out of the field, and Johanna’s favour was at an end, now he was a beggar. Wolf knew his enemy, and this enemy was the happy possessor of Johanna. An oppressive feeling of want was combined with offended pride, necessity and jealousy raged together against his sensitiveness, hunger drove him out upon the wide world, revenge and passion held him fast.

For a second time he turned poacher, but Robert’s redoubled vigilance was again too much for him. Now he experienced all the severity of the law, for he had nothing more to give, and in a few weeks he was consigned to the house of correction attached to the capital.

This year of punishment had passed, absence had increased his passion, and his stubbornness had become greater under the weight of his misfortune. Scarcely had he regained his freedom than he hastened to the place of his birth to show himself to his Johanna.

He appeared, and all shunned him. Pressing necessity at last subdued his pride, and overcame his sense of personal weakness, he offered himself to the opulent of the place, as willing to serve for daily hire. The farmer shrugged his shoulders as he saw the weakly looking creature, and the stout bony frame of a rival applicant was decisive against him in the mind of the unfeeling patron.

He made one effort more. One office was still left the very last post of an honest name. He applied for the vacant place of herdsman of the town, but the peasant would not trust his pigs to a scape-grace. Frustrated in every effort, rejected at every place, he became a poacher for the third time, and for a third time had the misfortune of falling into the hands of his watchful enemy.

The double relapse had increased the magnitude of the offence. The judges looked into the book of laws, but not into the criminal’s state of mind. The decree against poachers required a solemn and exemplary satisfaction; and Wolf was condemned to work for three years in the fortification, with the mark of the gallows branded on his back.

This period also had elapsed, and he quitted the fortification, a very different man from the man he was when he entered it. Here began a new epoch in his life. Let us hear him speak himself, as he afterwards confessed to his spiritual adviser, and before the court.


“I entered the fortification,” he said, “as an erring man, and I left it a villain. I had still possessed something in the world which was dear to me, and my pride had bowed down under shame.

When I was brought to the fortification, I was confined with three and twenty prisoners, two of whom were murderers, while all the rest were notorious thieves and vagabonds. They scoffed at me. when I spoke of God, and encouraged me to utter all sorts of blasphemies against the Redeemer. Obscene songs were sung in my presence, which, graceless fellow as I was,I could not hear without disgust and horror; and what I saw done, was still more revolting to my sense of decency.

There was not a day in which some career of shame was not repeated, in which some evil project was not hatched. At first I shunned these people, and avoided their discourse as much as possible; but I wanted the sympathy of some fellow creature, and the barbarity of my keepers had even denied me my dog. The labour was hard and oppressive, my body weak; I wanted assistance, and, if I must speak out, I wanted compassion also, and this I was forced to purchase with the last remains of my conscience.

Thus did I ultimately become inured to what was most detestable, and in the quarter of the year I had surpassed my instructors.

I now thirsted after the day of liberty, as I thirsted after revenge. All men had offended me, for all were better and happier than me. I considered myself the martyr of natural rights, the victim of the law. Grinding my teeth, I rubbed my chains, when the sun rose behind the mountain on which the fortification stood; a wide prospect is a two-fold hell for a prisoner.

The free breeze that whistled through the loop-holes of my tower, the swallow that perched on the iron bar of my grating, seemed to insult me with their liberty, and made my confinement the more hideous. Then I swore a fierce, unconquerable hate against all that resembles man, and faithfully have I kept my oath.

My first thought, as soon as I was free, was my native town. Little as I had to hope there for my future support, much was promised to my hunger for revenge. My heart beat more wildly as I saw the church-steeple rise in the distance from the wood. It was no more that heartfelt comfort, which I felt, when first I returned thither. The remembrance of all the afflictions, all the persecutions which I had suffered then roused me at once from a frightful torpor; every wound bled afresh, every scar was opened.

I quickened my steps, for I walked in the thought of terrifying my enemy by my sudden appearance, and I now thirsted as much after new humiliation as I had before trembled at it.

The bells were ringing for vespers, while I stood in the middle of the market. The congregation was thronging to church. I was now recognised, and every one who came near me shyly shrank back. I was always very fond of little children, and even now, by an involuntary impulse, I gave a groschen to a boy who was skipping by me. The boy stared at me for a moment, and then flung the groschen into my face.

Had my blood been cooler I should have remembered that the beard, which I had brought with me from the fortification, disfigured my face in the most frightful manner, but my bad heart had infected my reason. Tears, such as I had never shed, ran down my cheeks.

The boy does not know who I am, nor whence I come, I now said to myself, half aloud, and yet he shuns me like some noxious beast. Have I any mark on my forehead, or have I ceased to look like a man because I can no longer love one?’ The contempt of this boy wounded me more bitterly than three years’ service in the galleys, for I had done him a kindness, and could not charge him with personal hatred.

I sat down in a timber-yard opposite the church. What I actually desired I do not know, but this I know, that I rose with indignation; when, of all my acquaintance that passed, not one would give me a greeting. Deeply offended, I left the spot to seek a lodging, when just as I was turning the corner of a street I ran against my Johanna.

“The Host of the Sun!” she cried aloud, and made a movement to embrace me. “Thou returned, dear Host of the Sun! God be praised !”

Her attire bespoke misery and hunger, her aspect denoted the abandoned condition to which she had sunk. I quickly surmised what had happened; some of the prince’s dragoons who had met me, made me guess that there was a garrison in the town.

“Soldier’s wench!” cried I, and laughing, I turned my back upon her. I felt comforted that in the rank of living beings there was still one creature below me. I had never loved her.

My mother was dead, my creditors had paid themselves with my small house. I had lost every body and every thing. All the world shunned me as though I were venomous, but I had at last forgotten shame. Before, I had retired from the sight of men because contempt was unendurable. Now I obtruded myself upon them, and felt delight in scaring them.

I was easy because I had nothing more to lose, and nothing more to guard. I no more needed any good quality, because none believed I could have any.

The whole world lay open before me, and in some strange province I might have passed for an honest man, but I had lost the spirit even to appear one. Despair and shame had at last forced this mood upon me. It was the last refuge that was left me, to learn to do without honour, because I had no longer a claim to it.

Had my pride and vanity survived my degradation, I must have destroyed myself. What I had actually resolved upon was yet unknown even to myself. I had to be sure a dark remembrance that I wished to do something bad. I wished to merit my fate. The laws, I thought, were beneficial to the world, and therefore I embraced the determination of violating them. Formerly I had sinned from necessity and levity, now it was from free choice, and for my own pleasure.

My first plan was to continue my poaching. Hunting altogether had gradually become a passion with me, and besides I was forced to live some way. But this was not all ; I was tickled at the thought of scorning the princely edict, and of injuring my sovereign to the utmost of my power. I no more feared apprehension, for I had a bullet ready for my discoverer, and I knew that I should not miss my man.

I killed all the game that came across me, a small quantity of which I sold on the border, but the greater part I left to rot. I lived miserably, that I might be able to afford powder and ball. My devastations in the great hunt were notorious, but suspicion no longer touched me. My aspect dissipated it : my name was forgotten.

This kind of life lasted for several months. One morning I had, as usual rambled through the wood, to follow the track of a deer. I had wearied myself for two hours in vain, and was already beginning to give up my prey as lost, when I suddenly discovered it within gun-shot.

I was about to take aim and fire, when I was suddenly startled by the appearance of a hat which lay on the ground a few paces before me. I looked closer, and discovered the huntsman Robert, who from behind the thick trunk of an oak tree was levelling his gun at the very animal which I had designed to shoot. At this sight a deadly coldness passed through my bones. Here was the man whom I detested more than any living thing, and this man within reach of my bullet.

At the moment I felt as if the whole world depended on the firing of my gun, and the hatred of my whole life seemed concentrated in the tip of the finger that was to give the fatal pressure to the trigger. An invisible fatal hand was suspended over me, the index of my destiny pointed irrevocably to this black minute. My arm trembled, when I allowed my gun the fatal choice, my teeth chattered as in an ague fit, and my breath,with a suffocating sensation, was confined in my lungs.

For the duration of one minute did the barrel of the gun waver uncertainly between the man and the deer, one minute and one more and yet one more. It was a doubtful and obstinate contest between revenge and conscience, but revenge gained the victory, and the huntsman lay dead on the ground.

My gun fell as it had been fired. ‘Murderer,’ I stammered out slowly. The wood was as silent as a churchyard, and I could hear plainly that I said ‘murderer.’ When I drew nearer, the man had died. Long did I stand speechless before the corse, when a shrill burst of laughter came as a relief.

“Will you keep counsel now, friend?” said I, and boldly stepping up to the murdered man, I turned round his face towards myself. His eyes were wide open. I was serious, and again became suddenly still. An extraordinary feeling took possession of me.

Hitherto I had sinned on account of my disgrace, but now something had happened for which I had not yet atoned. An hour before, I think, no man could have persuaded me that there was any thing under heaven worse than myself, whereas, now I began to suspect that my condition an hour before was, perhaps, an enviable one.

God’s judgments did not occur to me, but I had a dim recollection of sword and cord, and the execution of an infanticide which I saw while a school-boy. There was something peculiarly terrible to me in the thought that my life from this moment had become forfeit. More I do not recollect. My first wish was that Robert was still living. I endeavoured forcibly to recall to my mind all the wrong that the deceased had done me during his life, but strange to say. my memory seemed to have perished.

I could recall nothing of that, which a quarter of an hour before had impelled me to madness. I did not understand how I had been induced to commit this murder. I was yet standing by the corpse. The crack of some whips, and the noise of carts, which were passing through the wood, brought me to my senses. The deed had been committed scarcely a quarter of a mile from the high road, and I was forced to think of my own safety.

Unintentionally I strayed deeper into the wood. On the way, it struck me that the deceased once possessed a watch. I needed money to reach the border and yet I lacked courage to return to the spot, where the dead man lay. A thought of the devil and of an omnipotence of the deity began to terrify me. However, I summoned all my audacity, and resolved to set all hell at defiance.

I returned to the place. I found what I had expected, and also money amounting to rather more than a dollar in a green purse. Just as I was about to put them both up, I suddenly stopped, and began to reflect. It was no fit of shame, nor was it the fear of increasing my crime by plunder. I believe it was out of a spirit of defiance that I flung away the watch, and only kept half the money. I wished to be taken for a personal enemy of the murdered man, but not for one who had robbed him.

I now fled deeper into the wood, which I knew extended four German miles to the north, and there touched the border of the country. Till noon I ran breathless. The rapidity of my flight had dissipated the anguish of my conscience, but the return of that anguish was frightful, when my strength more and more declined.

A thousand hideous forms passed before me, and struck into my heart, like sharp knives. Between a life filled with an increasing terror of death, and a violent end, the awful choice was now left me and choose I must. I had not the heart to quit the world by self-destruction, and I was terrified at the prospect of remaining in it.

Fixed as it were between the certain torments of life, and the uncertain terrors of eternity unable to live or to die I passed the sixth hour of my flight — an hour brimful of horrors, such as no living man could narrate.

Slowly absorbed in myself, and with my hat unconsciously slouched over my face, as if I wished to conceal myself from the eye of inanimate nature, I had insensibly followed a narrow path, which led me through the deepest part of the thicket when suddenly a rough imperious voice called to me. ‘Stop.’

The voice was quite close; my abstraction and the slouched hat had prevented me from looking round. I raised my eyes and saw a wild man, armed with a great knotted club, approaching me. His figure was almost gigantic at least my first surprise made me think so and the colour of his skin was a yellow mulatto sort of black, with which the whiteness of a squinting eye stood in terrible contrast.

Instead of a girdle he had a thick rope wound twice round a green woollen coat, in which were stuck a broad knife and a pistol. The cry was repeated, and a powerful arm held me fast. The sound of a man had frightened me, but the aspect of a villain gave me new heart. In my present situation, I had cause to tremble before every honest man, but none to tremble before a robber.

“Who is there?” said the apparition.

“One like yourself”‘ was my answer, * if you really correspond to your appearance.’

“That is not the way out? What are you looking for here?”

“What is that to you?” retorted I, insolently.

The man considered me twice from top to toe. It seemed as though he wished to compare my figure with his own, and my answer with my figure. “You speak as rudely as a beggar,” he said at last.

“Perhaps so. I was a beggar yesterday.”

The man laughed. “One could swear you did not want to pass for any thing better now.”

“For something worse then.” I wished to proceed.

“Softly friend, why in such a hurry? What time have you to lose?”

“I reflected for a moment. How the words came to my tongue I do not know. “Life is short,” said I, slowly, “and hell lasts forever!”

He stared at me. “May I be d–d,” he said at last, “if thou hast not brushed close by a gallows.”

“Very possibly. So good bye for the present, comrade!”

“Stop, comrade!” he cried, as he drew a tin flask out of his hunting-pouch, took a good draught from it, and handed it to me.

Flight and anguish had exhausted my energies, and nothing had passed my lips the whole day. I had already feared that I should have sunk from exhaustion in this wood, where no refreshment was to be expected for three miles round. Judge how joyfully I responded to this health. With the animating draught new strengthflowed into my bones, new courage into my heart, and I felt hope and the love of life.

I began to think that perhaps I was not quite wretched ; so much at least was the welcome beverage all to do. Yes, I must even confess that my situation approached that of happiness, for at last, after a thousand vain hopes, I had found a creature who eeemed similar to myself. In the condition to which I had fallen I should have drank good fellowship with the spirit of evil himself for the sake of having a confidant.

The man had stretched himself out on the grass. I did the same. “Your liquor has done me good,” said I. “We must become acquainted.”

He struck fire to light his pipe.

“Have you carried on this business long?”

He looked hard at me. “What do you mean by that?”

“Has this often been stained with blood?” I drew the knife from his girdle.

“Who are you?” said he, in a fearful tone, and he laid down his pipe.

“A murderer like you, but only a beginner.”

The man stared at me, and took up his pipe again. “Do you reside here ?” he said at last.

“Three miles off. I am the Host of the Sun, of whom perhaps you have heard.”

The man sprung up as if possessed. “The poacher Wolf!”

“The same!”

“Welcome, comrade, welcome !” cried he, and shook my hands violently. “That is brave, that I have you at last, mine Host of the Sun! Day and night have I been thinking how to get you. I know you well. I know all. I have reckoned on you long ago.”

“Reckoned on me ! For what?”

“The whole country round is full of you. You have enemies! A bailiff has oppressed you, Wolf ! They have ruined you, and the wrongs you have suffered cry aloud to Heaven.” The man became warm. “Because you have shot a few hogs,which the prince feeds in our fields, they have dragged you about for years in the house of correction and the fortification. They have robbed you of your house and business and made you a beggar.

Has it come to this, brother, that a man is worth no more than a hare? Are we not better than brutes of the field? And a fellow like you could suffer that?”

“Could I alter it?”

“That we shall see. But tell me, whence do you come, and what do you purpose?”

I began to tell him all my history. The man, without waiting till I had finished it, sprung up with joyous impatience, and drew me after him. “Come, brother Host of the Sun,” said he, “now you are ripe, now I have you when I wanted you. I shall get honour by you. Follow me.”

“Where will you take me?”

“Do not stop to ask, but follow.” He then forcibly dragged me along. We had proceeded about a quarter of a mile. The wood became more and more steep, pathless and wild, neither of us uttered a word, until at last my leader’s whistle startled me out of my meditations. I raised my eyes, we were standing on the edge of a steep rock, which was bowed down into a deep cleft. A second whistle answered from the interior hollow of the rock, and a ladder slowly rose from the abyss, as of its own accord.

My conductor descended first, and told me to wait till he returned. “I must first chain up my dog,” said he, “you are strange here, and the beast would tear you to pieces.”

I now stood alone before the abyss, and well I knew that I was alone. The improvidence of my leader did not escape my attention. It only required a hearty resolution to draw up the ladder ; then I should have been free, and my flight would have been secure. I confess that I perceived that. I looked down into the abyss, which was now to receive me, and it dimly reminded me of the descent into hell, from which there is no redemption.

I began to shudder at the career I was about to enter; only a rapid flight could save me. I resolved on this flight; I had already stretched my hand towards the ladder, but at once there was a thunder in my ears, a noise about me like the scornful laughter of hell, and it seemed to say: ‘ What can a murderer risk?’

My arm fell back as if paralysed. I had reckoned rightly, the time for repentance had passed, the murder I had committed lay towering up behind me like a rock, and cut off my retreat for ever. At the same time my conductor reappeared and told me I might come. There was now no longer any choice. I clambered down.

We had proceeded some steps, beneath the wall of the rock, when the ground became wider and some huts were visible. In the midst of these was a round grass plat, on which about eighteen or twenty persons were lying round a charcoal fire.

“Here comrades,” said my conductor, placing me in the centre of the circle. “Our Host of the Sun ! Bid him welcome!”

“The Host of the Sun!” cried all at once, and they all men and women rose and pressed round me. Shall I confess it. The joy was hearty and unaffected, confidence, nay, esteem appeared in every face; one pressed my hand, another familiarly shook me by my coat. The whole scene resembled that at the re-appearance of an old and valued friend. My arrival had interrupted the feast, which they had just begun.

They now continued it, and invited me to pledge the welcome. Game of all kinds formed the meal, and the wine flask passed without flagging from hand to hand. Good cheer and unity seemed to animate the entire band, and the contest among them all was who should show the most extravagant delight at my arrival.

They had seated me between two women, which was the post of honour at the table. I expected to find the refuse of their sex, but how great was my astonishment when I discovered among this infamous troop the most beautiful female forms that my eyes had ever beheld.

Margaret, the eldest and most beautiful of the two, could scarcely have been five-and-twenty. Her words were very bold, and her gestures still more so. Maria, the younger, was married, but she had fled from a husband, who had ill-used her. She was more elegant, but pale and delicate-looking, and less striking to the eye than her fiery neighbour. Both women strove hard to excite my passion.

The beautiful Margaret endeavoured to overcome my bashfulness by loose jests, but the whole woman was repulsive to me, and the bashful Maria had gained my heart for ever.

“You see, brother Host of the Sun,” began the man who had brought me, “You see how we live together, and every day is like this one. Is it not true, comrades?”

“Every day like this!” repeated the whole band. “If, then, you can resolve to find pleasure in our mode of life, strike a bargain and be our leader. I have held that post hitherto, but I will give it up to you. Are you content, comrades?” A joyful ‘ Yes !’ was responded from every throat.

My head was on fire, my brain was turned, and my blood was boiling with wine and passion. The world had cast me out as infected with the plague, but here I found a brotherly reception, honour, and comfort. Whatever choice I made death awaited me, but here I could at least sell my life for a higher price. Sensuality was my most violent tendency; hitherto the other sex had only shown me contempt, but here I should find favour and boundless enjoyment. My determination cost me but little.

“I stay with you, comrades!” cried I, loudly and resolutely, and walked into the midst of the band. “I remain with you,” I cried again, “if you will give me my beautiful neighbour.”

All agreed to grant my request, and I was the declared possessor of a harlot, and owner of a band of robbers.

To be continued…


Schiller: “Thoughts, 1781”



What mean the joyous sounds from yonder vine-clad height?

What the exulting Evoe?

Why glows the cheek? Whom is’t that I, with pinions light,

Swinging the lofty Thyrsus see?

Is it the genius whom the gladsome throng obeys?

Do I his numerous train descry?

In plenty’s teeming horn the gifts of heaven he sways,

And reels from very ecstacy!—

See how the golden grape in glorious beauty shines,

Kissed by the earliest morning-beams!

The shadow of yon bower, how lovingly it signs,

As it with countless blessings teams!

Ha! glad October, thou art welcome unto me!—

October’s first-born, welcome thou!

Thanks of a purer kind, than all who worship thee,

More heartfelt thanks I’m bringing now!

For thou to me the one whom I have loved so well,

And love with fondness to the grave,

Who merits in my heart forevermore to dwell,—

The best of friends in Rieger gave.

‘Tis true thy breath doth rock the leaves upon the trees,

And sadly make their charms decay;

Gently they fall:—and swift, as morning phantasies

With those who waken, fly away.

‘Tis true that on thy track the fleecy spoiler hastes,

Who makes all Nature’s chords resound

With discord dull, and turns the plains and groves to wastes,

So that they sadly mourn around.

See how the gloomy forms of years, as on they roll,

Each joyous banquet overthrows,

When, in uplifted hand, from out the foaming bowl,

Joy’s noble purple brightly flows!

See how they disappear, when friends sweet converse hold,

And loving wander arm-in-arm;

And, to revenge themselves on winter’s north wind cold,

Upon each other’s breasts grow warm!

And when spring’s children smile upon us once again,

When all the youthful splendor bright,

When each melodious note of each sweet rapturous strain

Awakens with it each delight:

How joyous then the stream that our whole soul pervades!

What life from out our glances pours!

Sweet Philomela’s song, resounding through the glades,

Ourselves, our youthful strength restores!

Oh, may this whisper breathe—(let Rieger bear in mind

The storm by which in age we’re bent!)—

His guardian angel, when the evening’s star so kind

Gleams softly from the firmament!

In silence be he led to yonder thundering height,

And guided be his eye, that he,

In valley and on plain, may see his friends aright.

And that, with growing ecstacy,

On yonder holy spot, when he their number tells,

He may experience friendship’s bliss,

Now first unveiled, until with pride his bosom swells,

Conscious that all their love is his.

Then will the distant voice be loudly heard to say:

“And G—, too, is a friend of thine!

When silvery locks no more around his temples play,

G— still will be a friend of thine!”

“E’en yonder”—and now in his eye the crystal tear

Will gleam—”e’en yonder he will love!

Love thee too, when his heart, in yonder spring-like sphere,

Linked on to thine, can rapture prove!”



Schiller: “Criminal From Lost Honour” 2/2

Excerpt, “Tales from the German, Comprising Specimens from the Most Celebrated Authors.” London: 1844. Translator: John Oxenford.


The following part of the history I entirely pass over; the merely detestable has nothing instructive for the reader. An unfortunate man who had sunk to this depth, would at last necessarily allow himself all that raises the indignation of mankind. He did not, however, commit another murder, as he himself confessed upon the rack.

The fame of this man shortly spread over the entire province. The high roads became unsafe; the citizens were rendered uneasy by the burglaries committed in the night. The name of the ” Host of the Sun” became the terror of the country-people. Justice searched for him, and a reward was offered for his head. He was fortunate enough to frustrate all attempts made against his liberty, and cunning enough to turn to the account of his safety the superstition of the wonder-loving peasantry.

His comrades had to spread the report that he had made a compact with the devil, and understood witchcraft. The district in which he played his part, belonged less at that time than now to the enlightened part of Germany. The reports were believed, and his person was secure. No one showed a desire to attack the dangerous fellow who had the devil at his service.

He had already for a year followed his melancholy profession, when it began to grow insupportable. The band at whose head he stood, did not fulfil his brilliant expectations. A seductive exterior had dazzled him amid the fumes of the wine; now he saw with horror how frightfully he had been deceived. Hunger and want took the place of that superfluity by which his senses had been lulled; very often he had to risk his life on a meal, which was scarcely sufficient to keep him from starvation.

The phantom of that brotherly concord vanished; envy, suspicion, and jealousy raged among this abandoned crew. Justice had offered a reward to any one who should deliver him up alive, with a solemn pardon if he were an accomplice–a powerful temptation for the dregs of the earth! The unhappy man knew his peril. The honesty of those who betrayed God and man, was a bad security for his life. From this moment sleep was gone; a deadly and eternal anguish preyed on his repose.

The hideous spectre of suspicion rattled behind him, wherever he fled, tortured him when he was awake, lay down by him when he went to sleep, and scared him with horrible visions. His conscience, which had been for some time dumb, now recovered its speech, and the adder of remorse, which had slept, now awoke amid the general storm of his bosom. All his hatred was now diverted from mankind, and turned its frightful edge against himself.

He now forgave all nature, and found none but himself to execrate. Vice had completed its instruction of this unhappy being; his naturally good sense at last overcame the mournful delusion. Now he felt how low he had fallen, calm melancholy took the place of grinding despair. With tears he wished the past were recalled, for now he felt certain that he could go through it differently.

He began to hope that he might be allowed to become honest, because he felt that he could be so. At the highest point of his depravity, he was perhaps nearer to goodness than before his first fault. About the same time, the Seven Years’ War had broken out, and recruiting was going on with vigour. This circumstance inspired the unhappy man with hope, and he wrote a letter to his sovereign, an extract of which I insert :

“If your princely favour feels no repugnance towards descending to me, if criminals of my class are not beyond the sphere of your mercy, grant me a hearing, I beg of your most serene highness! I am a murderer and a robber; the law condemns me to death, the tribunals are in search of me, and I offer myself to serve as a volunteer.

But at the same time, I bring a singular request before your throne. I detest my life, and do not fear death, but it is terrible for me to die without having lived. I would live to make reparation for a portion of the past, I would live to make some atonement to the state, which I have offended. My execution will be an example to the world, but no compensation for my deeds. I detest vice, and have a burning desire for integrity and virtue. I have shown the talents for becoming formidable to my country. I hope I have some left to be of service to it.

I know that I am asking something which is unprecedented. My life is forfeit, and it is not for me to negotiate with justice. But I do not appear in bonds and fetters before you. I am still free and fear on my part has the smallest share in my request. It is for mercy that I ask. If I had a claim to justice, I should no longer venture to assert it. But of one thing I may remind my judge. The epoch of my crimes begins with the judgment that forever deprived me of honour.

Had fairness been less denied me on that occasion, I should not now, perhaps, have stood in need of mercy.

Show mercy, my prince, instead of justice. If it is in your princely power to move the law in my favour, then grant me my life. From henceforth it shall be devoted to your service. If you can do so, let me learn your gracious will from the public journals, and I will appear in the metropolis on your word as a prince.

If you have resolved otherwise, let justice do her part, I must do mine.”

This petition remained unanswered, and so did a second, and a third, in which the applicant asked for a trooper’s place in the prince’s service. His hopes for a pardon were utterly extinguished, so he resolved to quit the country, and to die as a brave soldier in the service of the King of Prussia.

He succeeded in escaping from his land, and began his journey. The road led him through a little provincial town, where he wished to pass the night. A short time before, mandates of exceeding strictness had been published throughout the country, requiring a severe examination of travellers, because the sovereign, a prince of the empire, had taken part in the war.

The toll-collector ( Thorschreiber) of this little town had just received a mandate, and he was sitting on a bench before the toll-bar, when the “Host of the Sun” came up. The appearance of this man had in it something comical, and at the same time wild and terrible.

The lean pony which he rode, and the grotesque choice of his attire, in which his taste had probably been less consulted than the chronology of his thefts, contrasted singularly enough with a face over which so many raging passions were spread, like mangled corpses on a field of battle.

The collector was struck by the sight of this strange wanderer. He had grown grey at the toll-bar, and by attending to his office for forty years had become an infallible physiognomist of all the vagabonds about. The falcon-glance of this investigator did not miss its man on this occasion. He at once fastened the town-gate, and asked the rider for his passport while he secured his bridle.

Wolf was prepared for chances of this kind, and actually had with him a passport, which he had taken shortly before while plundering a merchant. This single voucher, however, did not suffice to counteract the observation of forty years, and to move the oracle of the toll-bar to a recantation. He trusted his eyes more than the paper, and Wolf was obliged to follow him to the office of the bailiff.

The superior of the office examined the passport and declared it correct. He was an ardent lover of news, and it was his delight to chatter over the newspaper by his bottle. The passport told him that the bearer had come straight from those foreign countries, where the theatre of the war was situated. He hoped to get private intelligence from the stranger, and sent back a secretary with the passport to invite him to partake of a bottle of wine.

In the meanwhile the “Host of the Sun” was standing in front of the office, and the whimsical spectacle had assembled the rabble of the town in throngs. The people whispered into one another’s ears, pointed at the horse and rider, till at last the insolence of the mob increased to a loud tumult. The horse, at which every one pointed, was unluckily a stolen one, and Wolf fancied that it had been described in placards and was recognised. The unexpected hospitality of the superior confirmed his suspicion.

He now considered it certain that the falsity of his passport was discovered, and that the invitation was only a snare to catch him alive and without resistance. His bad conscience besotted him, so he clapped spurs to his horse and rode off without giving a reply. This sudden flight was the signal for an uproar.

“A thief!” cried all; and off they flew after him. To the rider it was a matter of life and death; he had already the start, his followers panted breathlessly, and he seemed to be on the point of escape. But a heavy hand pressed invisibly towards him, the watch of his destiny had run down, the inexorable Nemesis detained her debtor. The street to which he trusted had no outlet, and he was forced to turn back towards his persecutors.

The noise of this event had in the meanwhile set the whole town in an uproar; throng pressed on throng, all the streets were lined, and a host of enemies were marching towards him. He showed a pistol, the mob receded, and he would have made a way through the crowd by force. “A shot from this,” said he, “for the mad fool who detains me!”

A general pause was dictated by fear, when at last, a bold journeyman blacksmith darted on his arm from behind, caught the finger with which the insane man was about to fire, and forced it out of joint. The pistol fell, the disarmed man was pulled from his horse, and dragged to the office in triumph.

“Who are you?” asked the judge in a somewhat brutal tone.

“A man who is resolved to answer no question until it is put more courteously.”

“Who are you?”

“That which I represented myself to be. I have travelled all through Germany, and never found impudence at home, anywhere but here.”

“Your speedy flight renders you very suspicious. Why did you run?”

“Because I was tired of being the laughing-stock of your rabble.”

“You threatened to fire.”

“My pistol was not loaded.”

The weapon was examined, and, true enough, it contained no bullet.

“Why did you secretly carry arms?”

“Because I have with me articles of value, and because I have been warned against a certain ‘Host of the Sun,’ who is said to be roving about these parts.”

“Your replies argue much for your audacity, but little for the goodness of your cause. I will give you till to-morrow to discover the truth to me.”

“I shall abide by what I have already said.”

“Let him be conducted to the tower.”

“To the tower? I hope, Herr Superior, that there is still justice in this country. I shall require satisfaction.”

“I will give it you as soon as you are acquitted.”

The next morning the superior reflected that the stranger might be innocent after all ; a dictatorial address could effect nothing with his obstinacy, and it might, perhaps, be better to treat him with respect and moderation. He collected the jury of the place, and had the prisoner brought forward.

“Forgive me for the first outbreak, sir, if I accosted you somewhat hardly yesterday.”

“Very readily, if you treat me thus.”

“Our laws are severe, and your affair made a noise. I cannot release you without committing a breach of duty. Appearance is against you, and I wish you would say something, by which it might be refuted.”

“What, if I know nothing?”

“Then I must lay the case before the government, and you will, in the meanwhile, remain closely confined.”

“And then?”

“Then you run the risk of being flogged over the border as a vagrant, or, if mercy is shown, of being placed among the recruits.”

He was silent for some minutes, and appeared to be undergoing a severe contest, then he suddenly turned to the judge.

“Can I be alone with you for a quarter of an hour?”

The jury cast ambiguous glances at one another, but withdrew at a commanding sign from their head.

“Now, what do you want?”

“Your demeanour of yesterday, Herr Superior, would never have brought me to a confession, for I set force at defiance. The moderation with which you have treated me to-day has given me confidence and respect for you. I think that you are an honourable man.”

“What have you to say to me?”

“I see that you are an honourable man; I have long wished for a man like you. Give me, I pray, your right hand.”

“To what end?”

“That head is gray and reverend. You have been long in the world, have felt many sorrows is it not so? And have become more humane.”

“Sir, to what does this tend?”

“You are now distant by only one step from eternity soon, soon will you need mercy from God. You will not deny it to man. Do you suspect nothing? With whom do you suppose you are speaking?”

“What do you mean? You terrify me.”

“If you do not already suspect write to your prince how you found me, and that I myself of my free choice was my own betrayer –that God will be merciful unto him as he now shows mercy unto me. Entreat for me, old man, and then let a tear fall on your report.

I am Host of the Sun.”


Schiller: “The Hostage”





The tyrant Dionys to seek,

Stern Moerus with his poniard crept;

The watchful guard upon him swept;

The grim king marked his changeless cheek:

“What wouldst thou with thy poniard? Speak!”

“The city from the tyrant free!”

“The death-cross shall thy guerdon be.”


“I am prepared for death, nor pray,”

Replied that haughty man, “I to live;

Enough, if thou one grace wilt give

For three brief suns the death delay

To wed my sister—leagues away;

I boast one friend whose life for mine,

If I should fail the cross, is thine.”


The tyrant mused,—and smiled,—and said

With gloomy craft, “So let it be;

Three days I will vouchsafe to thee.

But mark—if, when the time be sped,

Thou fail’st—thy surety dies instead.

His life shall buy thine own release;

Thy guilt atoned, my wrath shall cease.”


He sought his friend—”The king’s decree

Ordains my life the cross upon

Shall pay the deed I would have done;

Yet grants three days’ delay to me,

My sister’s marriage-rites to see;

If thou, the hostage, wilt remain

Till I—set free—return again!”


His friend embraced—No word he said,

But silent to the tyrant strode—

The other went upon his road.

Ere the third sun in heaven was red,

The rite was o’er, the sister wed;

And back, with anxious heart unquailing,

He hastes to hold the pledge unfailing.


Down the great rains unending bore,

Down from the hills the torrents rushed,

In one broad stream the brooklets gushed.

The wanderer halts beside the shore,

The bridge was swept the tides before—

The shattered arches o’er and under

Went the tumultuous waves in thunder.


Dismayed he takes his idle stand—

Dismayed, he strays and shouts around;

His voice awakes no answering sound.

No boat will leave the sheltering strand,

To bear him to the wished-for land;

No boatman will Death’s pilot be;

The wild stream gathers to a sea!


Sunk by the banks, awhile he weeps,

Then raised his arms to Jove, and cried,

“Stay thou, oh stay the maddening tide;

Midway behold the swift sun sweeps,

And, ere he sinks adown the deeps,

If I should fail, his beams will see

My friend’s last anguish—slain for me!”


More fierce it runs, more broad it flows,

And wave on wave succeeds and dies

And hour on hour remorseless flies;

Despair at last to daring grows—

Amidst the flood his form he throws;

With vigorous arms the roaring waves

Cleaves—and a God that pities, saves.


He wins the bank—he scours the strand,

He thanks the God in breathless prayer;

When from the forest’s gloomy lair,

With ragged club in ruthless hand,

And breathing murder—rushed the band

That find, in woods, their savage den,

And savage prey in wandering men.


“What,” cried he, pale with generous fear;

“What think to gain ye by the strife?

All I bear with me is my life—

I take it to the king!”—and here

He snatched the club from him most near:

And thrice he smote, and thrice his blows

Dealt death—before him fly the foes!


The sun is glowing as a brand;

And faint before the parching heat,

The strength forsakes the feeble feet:

“Thou hast saved me from the robbers’ hand,

Through wild floods given the blessed land;

And shall the weak limbs fail me now?

And he!—Divine one, nerve me, thou!”


Hark! like some gracious murmur by,

Babbles low music, silver-clear—

The wanderer holds his breath to hear;

And from the rock, before his eye,

Laughs forth the spring delightedly;

Now the sweet waves he bends him o’er,

And the sweet waves his strength restore.


Through the green boughs the sun gleams dying,

O’er fields that drink the rosy beam,

The trees’ huge shadows giant seem.

Two strangers on the road are hieing;

And as they fleet beside him flying,

These muttered words his ear dismay:

“Now—now the cross has claimed its prey!”


Despair his winged path pursues,

The anxious terrors hound him on—

There, reddening in the evening sun,

From far, the domes of Syracuse!—

When towards him comes Philostratus

(His leal and trusty herdsman he),

And to the master bends his knee.


“Back—thou canst aid thy friend no more,

The niggard time already flown—

His life is forfeit—save thine own!

Hour after hour in hope he bore,

Nor might his soul its faith give o’er;

Nor could the tyrant’s scorn deriding,

Steal from that faith one thought confiding!”


“Too late! what horror hast thou spoken!

Vain life, since it cannot requite him!

But death with me can yet unite him;

No boast the tyrant’s scorn shall make—

How friend to friend can faith forsake.

But from the double death shall know,

That truth and love yet live below!”


The sun sinks down—the gate’s in view,

The cross looms dismal on the ground—

The eager crowd gape murmuring round.

His friend is bound the cross unto. . . .

Crowd—guards—all bursts he breathless through:

“Me! Doomsman, me!” he shouts, “alone!

His life is rescued—lo, mine own!”


Amazement seized the circling ring!

Linked in each other’s arms the pair—

Weeping for joy—yet anguish there!

Moist every eye that gazed;—they bring

The wondrous tidings to the king—

His breast man’s heart at last hath known,

And the friends stand before his throne.


Long silent, he, and wondering long,

Gazed on the pair—”In peace depart,

Victors, ye have subdued my heart!

Truth is no dream!—its power is strong.

Give grace to him who owns his wrong!

‘Tis mine your suppliant now to be,

Ah, let the band of love—be three!”


Goethe to Schiller

Ober-Rossla, April 6, 1801.
I wish you all happiness upon your return to Weimar, and hope soon to see you again, either by your coming to pay me a visit or by my again repairing to town.
My stay here suits me very well, partly because I move about in the open air all day, partly because I am drawn down to the common objects of life, and thus there comes over me a certain feeling of nonchalance and indifference such as I have not known for a long time.With regard to the questions contained in your last letter, I not only agree with your opinion, but go even further. I think that everything that is done by genius as genius, is done unconsciously.
A person of genius can also act rationally, with reflection, from conviction, but this is all done, as it were, indirectly.No work of genius can be improved or be freed from its faults by reflection and its immediate results, but genius can, by means of reflection and action, be gradually raised to a degree that in the end shall produce exemplary works. The more genius a century possesses, the more are individual things advanced.
With regard to the great demands now made of the poet, I too am of the opinion that these will not readily call forth a poet. The art of poetry requires of the person who is to exercise it a certain good-natured kind of narrowness enamored of what is Real, behind which lies concealed what is Absolute.
Demands made by criticism destroy the innocent, productive state, and give us as genuine poetry–in place of poetry–something that is in fact no poetry at all, as unfortunately we have seen in our own day; and the same is the case with the kindred arts–nay, with Art in its widest sense.
This is my confession of faith, which otherwise does not make any further claims.
I expect much good from your latest work. It is well conceived, and, if you devote sufficient time to it, will round itself off of its own accord. “Faust” also has meanwhile had something done to it. I hope that soon the only thing wanting in the great gap will be the disputation; this, it is true, will have to be looked upon as a distinct piece of work, and one which will not be accomplished at a moment’s notice.
The famous prize-question also has not been lost sight of during these days. In order to obtain an empiric foundation for my observations, I have commenced examining the character of the different European nations. In Link’s “Travels” I have read a good deal more about Portugal, and shall now pass on to Spain. I am daily becoming more convinced how much more limited everything appears when such observations are made from within.
Ritter came to see me for a minute, and has, among other things,directed my attention again to the theory of colors. Herschel’s new discoveries, which have been carried further and extended by our young naturalist, are very beautifully connected with that observation which I have frequently told you of–that Bolognian phosphorus does not receive any light on the yellow-red side of the spectrum, but certainly does so on the blue-red side. The physical colors are thereby identified with the chemical colors.
The time and care which I have devoted to this subject give me the greatest advantage in judging of new observations, inasmuch as, in fact, I have thought out some new experiments which will carry the matter further still. I foresee that I shall this year write at least two or three chapters more in my theory of colors. I am anxious, some day soon, to show you the latest.
Would you care to come to me on Thursday with Professor Meyer? Please talk this over with him, and I will then write to him more fully on the subject.
Meanwhile, farewell.


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