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Weimar, on the 3rd of May 1761. We first of all find him studying jurisprudence at Jena; in 1783 he was a counsellor in the Reval government; in 1787 president; and, a short time afterwards, established as dramatic poet to the Vienna theatre. While Kotzebue was on a tour in Russia, in the year 1800, and had reached the frontiers of that empire, suddenly, and without the least notice, he was arrested, and transported to the deserts of Siberia. It was lucky for him that he had written a little play, entitled, "Der Leibkutscher Peter des Grossen," which happened to be translated into the Russian language just at the time. This production was brought under the eye of the emperor Paul I, and he at once recalled him from his banishment, and constituted him even director-in-chief of the Petersburg theatres. Kotzebue has related this curious epoch of his life in a volume entitled " Das merkwiirdigste Jahr meines Lebens." In 1814 Kotzebue was counsellor-general at Konigsberg; in 1819 he returned to Manheim, where he was murdered, by a political and fanatical student, named "Sand," a native of Wundsiedel, on the 23rd of March 1819.
AMADEUS GOTTFRIED ADOLF MUELLNER (1774-1829) Was born at Langendorf, near Weissenfels, on the 18th of October 1774. He was a nephew of Burger the poet, which circumstance exercised, no doubt, an influence over his own poetical inclinations. Milllner was a barrister, and died on the 17th of June, 1829.
Muixner was an exceedingly clever dramatic writer, and was endowed with great descriptive powers. His tragedy entitled "Die Schuld" was his great work. It contains many noble thoughts and graphic delineations, which receive, in several of the scenes, a masterly perfection and finish. The style of Miillner is very poetical and imaginative; while the musical and fanciful genius of the versification frequently reminds us of Schiller. The characters that figure in his pieces are, for the most part, vigorous and truthful, but his denouements are strained and unnatural.
"Der 29*0 Februar," occasioned by Werner's "24to Februar," is one of this author's tragedies, the early scenes of which are, perhaps, the best he has written; but its merits decline very much towards the conclusion. Miillner's pieces have always secured a liberal share of stagepopularity and applause.*
FETEDEICH LUDWIG ZACHAEIAS WERNEE (1768-1828) Was born in Konigsberg, on the 18th of November 1768 ; and at this place he pursued his studies. After making a tour, which lasted several years, he went over to the Roman Catholic faith, at Rome, in the year 1810. He died on the 17th of June 1823.
Werner may be considered a dramatic poet, although his works have anything but an artistic finish. Werner is deficient in perspicuity and good taste; yet his invention is fertile, and his characters are skilfully brought out. His first effort was in a dramatic poem, entitled "Die Sohne des Thals," and gave promise of excellence. It is bold in execution; is written in a fine vein of language; its characters are happily conceived; and in parts it is highly poetical. But it has the usual fault of young and enthusiastic writers,—it is overloaded with high-sounding and glittering diction.
"Der 24te Februar" is a finished production in its way, evincing originality, and an intimate knowledge of the human heart. Werner entitled this tragedy thus, because that day of the year was a most eventful day to him, it being the anniversary of the death of his mother, and his friend Mnioch.
* Burger und Milllner,—ein Briefwechsel. 1833.
His tragedy, "Das Kreuz an der Ostsee," is too unifonnly sombre. "Martin Luther, oder die Weihe der Kraft" he afterwards, in a critical sense, designated as "die Weihe der Unkraft," yet the opening scene and "der Reichstag zu Worms" are very powerfully written. His"Heilige Kunigunde" is, compared with "the 24th February," a very warm piece, but its warmth is an artificial one, and wants nature.
Werner also tried lyrics, amongst which the poem, " Ich komme vom Gebirge her" has become " volksthiimlich."
FRIEDRICH MAXIMILIAN VON HUNGER
Was born at Frankfort, 1753. Studied theology at Giessen; and in 1778, became officer in the Austrian service. In 1780, he went to Petersburg, as officer and lecturer to the grand duke Paul. He was colonel under Catharine; in 1796, major-general; then installed as director of the military academies; and in 1811, was raised to be lieutenant-general. He died at Dorpat, 1831.
Klinger's works abound with lofty and energetic thoughts; whilst his dislike of the world, and his misanthropical creed, awaken a kind of corresponding spirit in the reader's mind. Our author was one of the most industrious writers of his day, and in him we perceive the elements of the "Sturm and Drangperiode." Among his novels the most celebrated are: "Faust's Leben, Thaten und H61lenfahrt," " Geschichte Raphael's de Aquillas," a companion to his " Faust." His best production is, "Der Weltmann und der Dichter." Klinger also tried dramatic literature, and met with considerable success. He was a competitor with the celebrated Leisewitz for the prize offered by Schroder, the manager of the Hamburg theatre, for the best tragedy. It was one of the conditions, that the plot should turn upon a fratricide. Hence, Klinger's " Zwillinge,"—a drama wild and improbable in its design, but yet considered worthy of distinction: while Leisewitz's "Julius von Tarent," a truly excellent effort, was treated with an undeserved coolness. If we examine the structure of Klinger's dramatic style, we are led into the belief, that Shakspeare and Goethe were resorted to as models; at the same time it must be acknowledged, that, in occasional passionate scenes, Rousseau seems to have been affected.
JACOB MICHAEL REINHOLD LENZ (1750-1792)* Was born in Liefland, on the 12th of January 1750. He studied at Strasburg, where he made the acquaintance of several literary men, — of Goethe, among the rest . He evinced an enthusiastic fondness for theatrical entertainments; and for this gave up the more certain means of livelihood. He died at Moscow, in a state of insanity, brought on partially by poverty, on the 24th of May 1792. Lenz was a dramatic writer of no common order, chiefly in the humorous vein. But the miserable circumstances in which his whole life was passed, in addition to occasional fits of mental imbecility, conspired to empoison the genius of this richly-intellectual author. Iu the commencement of his career, Lenz seemed to be the very man to follow the path that Shakspeare had opened. Lenz's tragedies and comedies are altogether peculiar. A curious and ready turn of fancy, an equally singular and outri wit, and an odd and frantic style of language, are their leading characteristics. There is, however, a glaring carelessness evident in the getting up of his descriptive passages, and a total want of definite and proper arrangement.
* Stober, A. Der Dichter Lenz und Friederike von Sesenheiin. 1842.
AUGUST FRD3DR. ERNST LANGBEIN (1757-1835) Was born on the 6th of September 1757, at Radeberg, near
Dresden. Langbein had several minor law-appointments,
and pursued his studies at Leipsic. In 1802, he succeeded
in getting the public censorship at Berlin, in which place
he died, on the 31st of May 1835.
A great number of witty and amusing stories have proceeded from the pen of this author; but in all his pieces, a want of depth and artistic completeness is observable. He delights in depicting the comic aspects of human life, and in doing this he is often superficial and prejudiced. A strain of vulgarity is also occasionally discernible, as well as a leaning towards indecency. Langbein's ballads, " Romanzen," and poetic tales, are, for the most part, successful efforts in their way, and in them he certainly moves with ease and grace. A serenity of feeling, and an open, straightforward manner of expressing his thoughts, are the pleasant characteristics of many of his poems. They evince, besides, a cheerful and philanthropic mind, and abound with a well-timed and good-natured wit .
In some of Langbein's tales and legends he exhibits a naturalness and fluency which approximates him to Burger, and displays evidence of a strong poetical capability. Some of his metrical efforts, such as "Das grosse Loos," "Die Rossdecke," and particularly "Der Gastfreund," acquired in their day, and even now retain, a large share of popularity.
MORITZ AUGUST VON THUEMMEL (1738-1817) Was born on the 27th Sept. 1738, at Schonfeld, near Leipsic. After having studied jurisprudence, and distinguished himself therein, he became "wirklicher Geheim-Rath" and