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level with the prairie, and, as far as I immediately supplied by the obliging barcould judge, no more than knee-deep in tender with a glass - fortunately for him any part. No sooner had I got well out a small one, though its cost is ten cents beyond its sedgy border than the fun (for containing a villanous compound, looking, the flies, that is) began, and one came it is true, not unlike the genuine article at hovering near me, my unprotected state its muddiest, but the only effect of which, no doubt presenting most unusual attrac-if taken in any quantity, is to produce tions. I flicked it off, and was sharply unlimited nausea. Such, however, is the bitten in the rear by another, of whose force of imagination, or of kabit, for I can presence I had not till then been aware. attribute it to nothing else, that men will Gradually the number of my assailants sit playing cards by the hour, the stakes increased, and fierce and fast waged the being that delectable concoction, which unequal combat — fick here, bite there. they make believe to toss off with a relish, In vain I sought refuge in the none too though next to the pleasure of winning pellucid shallows of the lake - my head the game, in this case if in any, must cerwas still at their mercy. In vain í grov- tainly have been that of losing it. But elled altogether beneath the surface; want for all the care taken to keep intoxicants of breath forced me up again, until the out of the country, spirits are smuggled battle degenerated on my part into a sort and surreptitiously sold up here. Some of wild Indian war-dance, the handker- of our men going up to Calgary got as chief, which I swept madly about, doing drunk as any British navvy could desire duty for a tomahawk. And something of on the wretched stuff palmed off as whisthe old brave's delight in slaughter in- key, and at the most exorbitant price. spired me when I laid
an enemy low. But The great drawback to section life, the “raskils" were too many for me, and, when remote from any town, is the dreari. sore discomfited, I at last beat a hasty ness and monotony of its surroundings, and ignominious retreat, closely followed which would be apt to depress the spirits by my adversaries, who kept skirmishing even of a Mark Tapley, and few of us around to the bitter end.
were sorry to receive our discharge. Winter sets in early in the North-West, It was late one bleak November night, and from the commencement of the dark the snow lying thick upon the ground, mornings we never started to work before that the train which was to bear us to eight o'clock, sometimes, after driving out Winnipeg, a distance of several hundred to raise a piece of track, finding the ground miles, came down from the Rockies, impenetrable to our shovels, owing to the already nearly full of men it had picked frost. On such occasions we were free up from the sections on its way. Short to occupy ourselves as we chose, some of time was given us to get “aboard,” and the men preparing traps for foxes, or else the two young Prussians, who were to investigating results with regard to those stay on with Joe for the winter, obligingly they had set over night — fox-skins meet- helped me in with my box (having, as I ing with a ready sale. Only a few of the afterwards discovered, greatly lightened hands are kept on after November, two on it of its contents). The last image on my each section, the rest getting free passes mind was that of Joe, standing somewhat east, there being next to no work on the disconsolately watching our departure, his track until the frost breaks up.
honest countenance scantily illumined by It is in the spring that the majority of the light from the telegraph operator's the laborers find their way to these parts, shanty. The scene of our sometime and many of those fresh from the old labors was soon left far behind, as on we country probably know little of the sort of sped, stopping at each section on our way life awaiting them. For one thing, the to take in living freight, until the cars sale of intoxicating liquors being prohib- were crammed. A motley crew we were, ited, the uninitiated and thirsty pilgrim and cooped up together through what experiences a rough awakening when, at seemed an eternity, the only diversion one of the Western towns his train may being the passing of the train-boy at in. stop at, making straight for a, saloon, of tervals through our midst offering his which there are no lack, he, in the inno- wares for sale, and the occasional quarcence of his heart, demands refreshment relling of the men after the whiskey region for his failing spirit in the shape of beer. had been reached. Not that his request is denied, for he is
From The Westminster Review. most cautious be able to deny that the SACHS: THE PEOPLE'S GOETHE story and the plot are worked out with OF THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY.
remarkable skill and much delicacy. The BY KARL BLIND.
interest never fags for a moment; and Those who went to hear, during one of there are humorous scenes of irresistible the recent London seasons, Richard Wag; effect, albeit those strangely err who asner's “Master-singers of Nuremberg, sume that the poet composer meant to invariably came back with a feeling of write a “comic opera.” delight. Friends and foes of the so-called
Still, any one more deeply acquainted “music of the future" joined, in this with the works and the former standing of case, in a chorus of applause.
the “ cobbler bard of Nuremberg" would The “music of the future," we may wish some higher traits had been added in say in passing, is not a word of the com- the treatment of his figure. Full allowposer's own coining: It was invented by ance may certainly be made for the playan adversary, and afterwards — as has so wright's necessities. Strong contrasts are often happened in history — attributed to always theatrically impressive. Now, by the victim himself. Hans Sachs never way of effective set-off, Walter von Stolsaid of himself, as is so often asserted, zing, who, in the tournament of song, earns that he was
the prize for melodic verse, and carries off, a shoe
as the doubly successful lover, the charınmaker and poet too.
ing daughter of Pogner, the goldsmith, is ("Hans Sachs war ein Schuh
brought forward, by Wagner, in colors of macher und Poet dazu."')
nobiest beauty of mind, as against a crowd Yet this absurd ditty is almost the only of handicraftsmen - bakers and pewterthing some men know, or believe they ers, grocers, soap-boilers, and furriers, know, of the works of the patriarch of the who are mere pedantic dabblers in poetry. master-singers and the father of the Ger. To some extent, this striking contrast may man secular drama. So also, Richard even account for the great success of the Wagner is guiltless of having described representation. But from the natural tenhis own compositions as the “music of the dency to exaggeration which is involved future." In a letter to Hector Berlioz, in the droll antithesis, the image of Hans contained in the seventh volume of Wag: Sachs himself seems to me unduly to ner's “ Collected Writings and Poems," suffer. the reader may find the details of this Altogether, it can scarcely be said that quid pro quo.
full justice has been done to him in this But by one of those strange freaks of portraiture. No doubt, at the end, atoneill-luck, against which the best-intentioned ment is made for the insufficiency. Then are not always proof, Wagner himself the wreath of honor, gained by Walter von commits the unpardonable mistake of put. Stolzing, is placed by Eve's hand on the ting in the mouth of " the people's Goethe brow of Hans Sachs, when the latter vinof the sixteenth century that self-same dicates the poetic art of the people in a rhyme which some bigoted Romanist hater patriotic harangue addressed to the triumof the memory of Hans Sachs had weakly phant young scion of a noble family: invented as a would-be squib against him! This harangue, beginning with the
However, opinion here and abroad is at words, “ Verachtet mir die Meister nicht," one on the exquisite charm of the music is strictly true, historically speaking, as in the “ Meistersinger von Nürnberg.” regards the national life of Germany in Thoughtful English critics, otherwise not times past. Before the tribunal of poetin the least enamored of Wagner's later ical art, long pedigrees and famed ances. style or second manner, have pronounced try, however noble and worthy, escutcheon, it to be of unsurpassed beauty — refined, spear, and sword, went for nothing. A captivating, and always suggestive of the master-singer alone, who had himself dramatic sentiment and situation. At the given his proofs, could confer the prize ; same time, we confess that the question and this he did on the sole ground of may be raised whether the impression merit. When literature was no longer created by the play is quite in keeping honored by courts and princes, it found a with the character and the literary impor- safe place of shelter, in evil days of storm tance of the whilom head of the civic and stress, among the people of the cities. bards of Germany.
There it was cultivated in a national sense, In Wagner's play, the description of But for the master-singers, the true Ger. town life in the later mediæval epoch is, man sentiment would have sadly degenno doubt, a graphic one. Nor will the erated. Hence, Wagner is fully justified
in making Hans Sachs admonish the ter,” and sentencing such recusants" to young bearer of a noble name to give due be banished into the frog-pond" instead honor to those civic poets of the Father of being permitted to approach the serene land as the guardians of the patriotic | heights where genuine bards dwell. spirit.
It is a somewhat longish effusion, this In point of fact, more might be said as hearty glorification by Goethe of the Nuto the far-reaching special influence of the remberg poet – written, so to say, in the quaint Nuremberg master himself. Ay, latter's own archaic style, and much interthrough the distance of ages Hans Sachs larded with words taken from his racy acted as the virtual teacher of our greatest Franconian vocabulary. The extraordipoets - not a few will say: the greatest nary esteem in which "Goethe held Hans poet which the German nation has pro- Sachs may be seen from the two introduc. duced. And as Wagner's drama is likely tory verses. The “dear master" is there to come again before the English public, depicted as, on a Sunday morning, havit may well be worth while to look more ing put off his dirty leather apron and closely into the position really occupied donned a festival raiment, “ he, too, rests by Hans Sachs in German literature. on the seventh day" from all the work he
For the purpose of setting matters at had done — " from many a tug and many once right through an authority, to which a stroke.” But as the spring sun touches most men will bow on a subject of poetical him, his very rest gives birth to new work; judgment, we will, first and foremost, for he feels that he is holding a little quote Goethe himself,
world, a microcosm, hatching in his brain, Upon him his worshipping admirers which is beginning to move and to live, have fondly conferred the name of Alt- and which he would fain bring forth. Has 11eister -- a designation strikingly recall- he not — so Goethe's poem goes on ing the character and habits of the older eye true and full of wise insight? And poetical life of Germany, but rather at is not his a loving heart which fondly variance with the “classic,” “Hellenic," takes in and makes his own that which he “Olympian” character attributed to Goe has seen so clearly and purely? Has he the.' This “ Alt-Meister" name was, nev. not a tongue that clearly pours forth into ertheless, given for good reasons. Goethe subtle speech? Ay, the Muses rejoice at openly avows that he began his own career such qualities; and hence they wish to by taking the Meistersinger, and Hans ordain him a Mastersinger. Sachs more particularly, as an example to Then, a noble, beauteous, and truthful be followed and looked up to. In his bio- woman is introduced -namely, the Gengraphical sketch, “ Dichtung und Wahr- ius of Nature. Under her guidance, Hans beit," Goethe says of himself:
Sachs sees and portrays the world with its In order to find a congenial poetical soil on passionate and curiously confused striv. which we could take our stand, and where ings, as Albrecht Dürer saw and por. we could breathe with true freedom of mind trayed it. In rapid allusion, a number of (freisinnig), we had to go back a few centu other guides and associates of the Nuries, when solid capacities rose splendidly remberg poet are referred to; representafrom a chaotic condition; and thus we entered tives of history and mythology, of merry into friendly intercourse with the poetry of tales and mad drollery, as well as of rothose bygone ages, The Minnesingers (Ger-mantic love. Taught, spurred, and alterman Troubadours) were too far removed from us. We would first have had to study their nately rallied and nagged, or caressed by language; and that did not suit us. Our ob- them, Hans Sachs never ages in his loving ject was to live, and not to learn. Hans quality. His heart will not grow cold. Sachs, the truly masterly poet, was nearest to At last Posterity places on his head the
A genuine talent, although not after the oak-wreath, which had always hovered, manner of those knights and courtiers; but a with living foliage, in the welkin, ready to plain citizen, even as we boasted of being. descend upon his brow. A banishing His didactic realism agreed with our bent, curse, therefore — so Goethe concludes and we used, on many occasions, his easy upon the croaking crew that ever ignored rhythm, his facile rhyme.
the master! This was published in 1811, when In one thing Goethe was mistaken; and Goethe was at the mature age of sixty- his mistake is easily accounted for. At two years. Long before, in his “Poetical his time, when he thus powerfully restored Mission of Hans Sachs,” he had sung the the memory of Hans Sachs, the position praise of the citizen poet in most fervent which the latter had held in the esteem of strains; uttering strange curses against his contemporaries was utterly obscured; " the folk that would not know their mas. and not even Goethe knew it in its full
extent. Nor were all the works of Hans | ence in Latin or French. A deep chasm Sachs then attainable to the would-be was thus created between the cultured and reader. Goethe's description of the mas- the popular classes. ter's varied activity is, therefore, of neces No wonder that, under such circum. sity somewhat imperfect.
stances, the memory of Hans Sachs should Goethe also erred in thinking that it was have grievously suffered. There were but Posterity which placed the wreath of too many who, whilst being well achonor on the Nuremberg poet's brow. quainted with Homer, Æschylus, EuripThe contemporaries of Sachs had done ides, and Aristophanes, with Ovid, Vergil, so. Posterity, on the contrary, for some and Horace, even with the fragments of time forgot, even abused and vilified, the Ennius, scarcely knew anything more of people's bard, with the exception, always, the foremost popular poet of the sixteenth of at least a few of those who had made the century than the ridiculous rhyme meant literature of the later Middle Ages their as a satire upon him, but which has often special study, and who could consequently been foolishly held to be a short autobioassign him his true place. These circum- graphical description from his own pen. stances must be taken into account, in Strange to say, few men seem even to order not to lose from sight the various have noted the glaring impossibility of points of contact which, in spite of un- Hans Sachs speaking of himself in the doubted differences growing in course of ditty alluded to in the past ! time more and more marked, constitute a Yet there had once been a time when his strong and consecutive line of tradition name shone over all German lands; when from one school of song to the other. Luther, who understood something about
Heroic poetry of anonymous creation, poetry and music, together with the the Minnesinger schools, and the Master- learned Melancthon, held Hans Sachs in singer guilds, mainly were the earlier lit- high honor as a fellow-worker in the erary outcome of Germany. In accord- Reformation cause; and when impartial ance with the high value now set upon scholars esteemed the power and richness what for some time had been much neg- of his language, the inany-sidedness of lected, is the habit, at present, of calling his mind, his varied and extraordinary the Minnesingers our “first classics.” knowledge, as well as the lifelike descripThe period of which Lessing, Herder, tions that characterize nearly all his poetKlopstock, Wieland, Goethe, and Schiller | ical works - barring, we must add, his are the foremost representatives, is des. crude tragedies. ignated as the “second classic epoch.” The epoch of the Reformation was filled
Between the most flourishing time of with his fame. But even long after the the town's poets and the time of Goethe a Thirty Years' War, the learned Wagenkind of break occurred. It coincided with seil, in his standard work (* Von der Meis. the miseries and the political disruption tersinger Holdseliger Kunst: 1697), exconsequent upon the Thirty Years' War. pressed an opinion that the poems of For a while it seemed as if the intellectual Hans Sachs would be revered as long as light of the nation was hopelessly dimmed, the world lasts. This loving testimony though master minds, like Leibnitz, the and over-eager prophecy was not destined philosopher, still shone forth in single to be fulfilled during the beginning of the splendor. The gigantic and protracted eighteenth century. The terrible misforstruggle for spiritual freedom, in which tunes of the country had destroyed many Germany had been reduced by the sword, of the best roots of German life; and thus by pestilence, by famine, by emigration, the recollection of the refined poetry of to nearly one-third of her former popula- the Minnesinger age almost vanished, tion, heavily told upon her whole life, among the masses, like a dream forgotten. political, industrial, literary, and, more The work done during the Meistersinger especially, poetical.
epoch was first neglected in those classes Once a country full of energy, replete which would fain pass as the guardians of with song, and characterized by great literary treasures. It was in the lower gaiety, Germany now had a tone of sad-popular strata that fragments of that which ness and resignation prevailing within to-day is considered of such high value her. Her very language, with its com- were really preserved with loving esteem. bined strength and aptitude for musical The contemporaries of the ingenious development, became overlaid with for- and widely famed “Nuremberg poet" eign elements, and had to be gradually pur. (such were the standing epithets formerly ified again by laborious efforts. Not a few, applied to Hans Sachs) had likened him even Leibnitz himself, wrote by prefer- with rather exaggerating comparison to
Vergil, Tibullus, Propertius, Euripides, store the reputation of a literary name and other lights of antiquity. On the upon which dirt was heaped ever and anon other hand, in later times, he who, in spite by vile hands. It is long enough, of his lowly origin, had acquired a re- Wieland wrote, “that Germany has ig. markable amount of knowledge; who at nored her poet, and that we all have forleast in early youth had apparently learnt gotten our master." the rudiments of Latin and Greek, also of Now there was no German writer in French; and who, if that is held doubtful, those days more imbued with Hellenic at any rate was acquainted with all the gracefulness of spirit, or more characterthen existing translations of classic and lized even by what is called French eleother remarkable works, was by those who gance, than Wieland was. His testimony, knew nothing of him, vilified as if he had together with that of Goethe, is therefore been an ignorant versifier of public fairs. of special importance. His detractors thereby only proved their Bertuch, directing attention to Wieown ignorance. Even the catalogue of land's and Goethe's opinion, wrote, more his library, which still exists, and which than a century ago, in an appeal for the comprised the Odyssey, Herodotos, Æsop, re-edition of the collected works of the Ovid, Seneca, Plinius, Plutarch, Sueto- poet: nius, etc., ought to put these slanderers Hans Sachs! How many are there among to shame.
us Germans who know more of that man than So it came to pass that at last only the that such was his name? But his mind, his name of Hans Sachs remained like a pil- heart, his high practical genius, his way of lar of disgrace. His works were utterly observing Nature, of rendering her impresforgotten by the cultured classes. Those sions truthfully, like the purest mirror — who works were almost lost - not to be had knows all this, except perhaps a few who do anywhere. Nobody among the learned not consider it too irksome a task to dig for and well-to-do cared for them. Mere book. old, dusty libraries? Had Goethe and Wie
sunken treasures of our country's literature in learned arrogance and scheming calumny land not raised in the Teutsche Merkur (1766) joined their efforts in pursuing his memo a noble and well-merited monument of honor ory: Priestlings, like Götzinger, who were to him, his memory would surely yet slumber well aware of his stout chainpionship of among us; and his works, the richest and the Reformation cause, defamed him as a most splendid treasure of German mediæval
poor rhymester and merry Jack Andrew” poetry, would perish forever. Shall we allow (Pritschenmeister).
our Ennius to be lost? Shall Englishmen Only slowly the unmerited disgrace was
and Frenchmen put us to shame? lifted from his name. Gottsched had said The edition intended by Bertuch never already: “ Hans Sachs was the great mind came out, owing to the lack of interest in that Germany once admired, and whom those days. In spite of Goethe's and men, somewhat defiantly, liked to call | Wieland's appeal, the wealthier classes the Homer of the Germans.'"
were still too far estranged then from a parison was certainly a most unlucky one. due appreciation of their own country's It shows, however, how highly his fame old intellectual life. stood at his own time.
People were content with wretched exFar more cautiously, over-cautiously, tracts from which no true image and full Ranisch vindicated the poet's memory, impression could be gathered of a poet who in his “ Historisch-Kritische Lebensbe- bad exercised great influence even on the schreibung Hans Sachsens," "the once mind of Goethe. We know better now. famed Mastersinger at Nuremberg." The We can, however, still remember, with a book was written in 1756, “in illustration degree of retrospective indignation, the of the history of the Reformation and of time not more than some twenty or German poetry." We see from it that at even fifteen years ago — when it was Ranisch's time “many a burgher and rather uphill work to convince the public peasant were yet in possession of some at large of the desirability of bringing out part of the works of Hans Sachs,” and a complete and critically arranged edition that these men of the people "did not of the extensive works of Hans Sachs, easily sell the treasure so dear to them to as well as of doing honor to his memory any learned man; preferring, as they did, by a suitable monument. What was to seek pleasant recreation in their perusal spoken and written then in support of the after work was done, or on the day of movement made in that direction, may to rest,"
many have seemed a cry in the wilder. Twenty years after Ranisch's publica- ness, to some even a scarcely justifiable tion, Wieland and Goethe sought to re-I cry.