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Siehst du vor Anker dort
Yonder at anchor, see
The Amphitrite lying,
With gaily painted sides,
Ghosts, goblins, and all other supernatural visitants have long been unsparingly hunted out from every nook of Christendom, and have disappeared from amongst us as utterly as though they had never been. It would be almost as difficult to catch one of themselves by gas-light, as to find an Englishman, capable of writing his own name, who would avow a firm faith in their existence. The very miners of Germany, formerly proverbial for their credulity, are becoming freethinkers as to the article of kobolds, while the workers in our English coal-pits, as Mr. Kohl feelingly remarks, are downright materialists, and never see an inch into the black stones they pick at, or dream of the sprites that lurk within them. The feelings of wonder, awe, and terror, will now respond only to natural instigations, and the poet and the romance writer must own that a part of their occupation is gone. But there is yet one vast region of the earth, the last asylum of proscribed phantoms, across the borders of which philosophy finds that her writ does not run. There are spirits in the deserts of Africa as surely as there are honest men in Pennsylvania, or virtuous sages among the journalists of La Jeune France. Do you doubt the fact? Look at the mirage. On a spot where a moment before nothing met your eye but interminable, bare, brown sand, and a sky of brass, you shall see all at once a broad rolling river, with a noble forest waving on its banks, and beyond it hills covered with human dwellings and crowned with fortresses. You see this, your companions see it, every man in the caravan sees it. Philosophy cannot explain the phenomenon, but will shabbily put you off with mere talk about optical illusions,' words that leave you no wiser than you were before. She cannot define the nature or law of these illusions, or determine beforehand what shape they shall necessarily assume. Then there are illusions of hearing too; for did not the author of Eöthen hear the bells ringing to church in the desert, as plainly as ever he heard them in his native parish among the Blaygon hills? The sight of a ghost, we imagine, could scarcely have surprised him more. In sober earnestness we appeal to the strictest rules of logic, and we ask: If it is certain that spectres of rivers, lakes, forests, hills, and buildings, do rise up suddenly out of the sands, and vanish as they came, no man knows how, what greater improbability is there that apparitions of men, women, dromedaries, and horses, should come and go in the same mysterious fashion? With this preface we proceed to lay
The Traveller's Vision; or, The Ghost Caravan.
before our readers The Traveller's Vision' (Gesicht des Reisenden), or, as we should rather call it,
"TWAS in the desert's depths we took our night-rest on the ground,
many a mile.
The horses, ho!-they're brea kingloose :-quick, each man to his own! For shame! like sheep by lions scared-why quake ye so and groan? Though they press you close, though their floating robes your very beards are brushing,
Shout, Allah! Allah! and away the spectre host goes rushing.
Stand fast, till in the morning breeze your turban feathers stream,
Objectors have not failed to note what they call our author's excessive predilection for things outward and material, rather than for what is inward, spiritual, and ideal. Heine, whose fame he eclipsed, and who seems to bear him little good-will, has a fling at the sensuous character of Freiligrath's muse, that is worth mentioning at least for its wit. The hero of Heine's poem, 'Atta Troll,' is an old bear, one that has received a superior education, has seen the world, and danced before the beau monde in the most fashionable resorts of the Pyrenees. He runs away from his keepers and escapes to his den, where we hear him recounting his experiences, and indulging in melancholy reflections on the injustice of man towards the rest of the animal creation. In what respects are the beasts, he asks, especially the bears, inferior to man ? What architect can surpass the beaver? Are there not learned pigs and horses skilled in arithmetic? Are there not bears, and giraffes, and dromedaries that sing and compose ballads? Is Freiligrath no poet? (Ist Freiligrath kein Dichter?) A critic in the Revue des Deux Mondes*** attributes to our author, une imagination assez peu Allemande.' In the limited sense in which we may admit the phrase to be true, it conveys praise rather than censure; it implies bold innovation. made where it was much needed. A man ought not to be robbed of his rights of literary citizenship because he sets his countrymen the first good example of departure from inveterate bad practices. We heartily wish that Germany had many Freiligraths: a little less of metaphysics, and a little more consideration given to the realities of God's breathing world, would tend vastly to exalt the wisdom, welfare, and dignity of the Teutonic nations. We think the Germans might reach this desirable consummation without un-Germanising themselves: but perhaps the French critic is of opinion that the character of Martin Luther's mind was 6 assez peu Allemand.' He would have the German, who would be a German indeed, bend his eyes perpetually inward, after the manner, we suppose, of the monks of Mount Athos, as described by an abbot of the eleventh century. When thou art alone in thy cell, shut thy door and seat thyself in a corner: raise thy mind above all things vain and transitory; recline thy beard and chin on thy breast; turn thy eyes and thy thoughts towards the middle of thy belly, the region of the navel, and search the place of the heart, the seat of the soul. At first all will be dark and comfortless; but, if thou persevere day and night, thou wilt feel an ineffable joy; and no sooner has the soul discovered the place of the heart, than it is involved in a mystic and ethereal light.'t Heaven knows how long learned Deutschland has been
* M. Saint-René Taillandier, tome iv., 460.
† Gibbon, xi., 388.
The Confession of Faith.'
practising this manœuvre, with what effect let history tell. Surely the time is come when a change of posture would be a welcome relief to her.
We need not enter upon any formal disquisition to prove that Freiligrath is no mere mannerist, and that he is capable of something better than fiddling, however well, upon a single string; fortunately he has, by the publication of his new volume, rendered unnecessary any such vindication of his general powers, and of his warm and generous sympathies. The Confession of Faith' does him honour as a poet and as a man. We cannot better elucidate its tone and temper than by quoting the author's modest and manly preface, for the fuller understanding of which, it may be proper to premise one or two remarks. In 1839, encouraged by the enthusiasm with which his first volume was received, Freiligrath withdrew from commercial pursuits. His means, which were probably not large, were increased, in 1842, by a small pension spontaneously bestowed on him by the King of Prussia. Whatever sinister motives may have prompted this seemingly graceful act of patronage, sure we are that it was received in no sordid and truckling spirit. Vulgar minds thought otherwise; the pension increased the unmerited odium Freiligrath had incurred by his opposition to the popular idol of the day, George Herwegh; and by his bold and honest protest, in the name of common sense, against the ranting nonsense of that very conceited young man. He saw plainly that the cause of national freedom might be damaged, but could never be faithfully served by such champions as Herwegh and his followers: mischief only could be expected when such planets ruled the hour, and he resolved to bide his time. The King of Prussia had made most liberal promises on his accession to the throne, and the frankhearted poet would not, while a hope remained, believe his king guilty of deliberate falsehood. Leaving, therefore, to others to man the battlements of party,' he chose his own station on the lofty watch-tower;' but having looked thence in vain for any token of royal justice and good faith, he has come down and mingled in the fray with the determined energy of a man whose purposes are not caprices, but whose warm earnest heart acts in happy concert with his sound, clear head. The following is the preface:
"The turn which things have very recently taken in my more restricted fatherland, Prussia, has, in many respects, painfully undeceived me, belonging as I did to the number of those who still hoped and trusted; and this it is, which has called forth most of the poems in the second section of this volume. Not one of them, I can safely affirm, is a made thing (gemacht); every one of them has grown out of current circumstances, and has been a necessary and unavoidable result of the
VOL. XXXIV. NO. LXVIII.
clashing of those circumstances with my sense of right and my convictions, just as has been the resolution simultaneously adopted and carried out, of resigning into the king's hands my much talked of little pension. About new year, 1842, I was much surprised by the intimation that it had been conferred on me; since new year, 1844, I have ceased to receive it.
"Whilst I thus, by word and deed, openly and decidedly declare myself on the opposition side, I do at the same time prefix the first section of this volume to the second; before the unambiguous utterances of a thoroughly defined and firmly fixed system of political opinion, I publish the less sure and certain expressions of an inchoate system, of one yet undergoing the process of formation. I cannot do otherwise. He who stands at the goal should not deny even the circuitous route by which he has reached it. This is my creed, and this is the sole reason that induces me, on this occasion, to republish those older poems. Other motives, and especially those of hatred and envy, which were imputed to me on the occasion of my song against Herwegh, are as foreign to me now as they were then, and I here absolutely disavow them. The main object I have in view is to bring to a conclusion, visible to myself and others, a now past transition-period of my poetical and political education.
"And so I trustingly commit this collection, old and new, to the heart of the German people. The judicious and deliberate will, I hope, easily discover the numerous clues that lead from the first section to the second. They will, I hope, perceive that there can be no question in this case of any thing else than a progress and a development; none of an act of desertion, none of a prostitute change of flag, none of a flippant and frivolous catching after a thing so holy as the love and esteem of a people. They will, perhaps, the more readily perceive this, if they consider, at the same time, that the whole course of schooling which I, as an individual, have gone through before the eyes of the nation, is, after all, the same which the nation collectively had to undergo, and is still partially undergoing, in its efforts after political knowledge and thorough political education ;-and the worst they will have to allege against me will probably, in the end, be limited to this one fact, that I am now come down from the 'loftier watch-tower' to the 'battlements of party. To this charge I must certainly plead guilty. Firmly and unflinchingly I take my stand by the side of those who are resolute to breast the current of despotism. No more life for me without freedom! However the lot of this book and my own may fall; so long as the oppression endures under which I see my country suffering, my heart will bleed, and heave indignantly, and my mouth and my arm shall not weary of doing what they may towards the winning of better days. Thereto help me, next under God, the confidence of my fellowcountrymen! My face is turned towards the future."
The fine hearty song of which we are about to offer a translation, has the first claim on our attention, not more for its intrinsic excellence than in consideration of its having been honoured with the veto of the Upper and Lower Courts of Censorship.