Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]


TEICHNER (HEINRICH DER). Among the didactic poems of the second half of the 14th century, those of Teichner rank highest. He died before Suchenwirt, who, in one of his speeches, renders homage to the memory of his friend.

Teichner's fame as writer chiefly springs from his · Moralische Reden,' written in verse.

VINTLER (HANS) wrote, about 1411, a didactic work, called • Buch der Tugend,' derived from the Latin Flores virtutum,' in which he exposes the vices of the higher classes.

WEBER (Veir), born at Freiburg, in the Breisgau, wrote poems about 1474, fought in the ranks of the Swiss against Charles the Bold. In his best poem, the · Battle of Morgarten,' he describes the victories obtained over the Burgundians.

We here give Felton's translation of the poem, in which the author says:

• Vit Weber hat dis lied gemacht;
er ist selbs gewesen an der schlacht.'

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

WELSCHGATTUNG, a poem, of the year 1513, which owes its origin to the inspiration of an unknown author, who being, during a vision, reminded of his own sinful life, and of the prevailing social and political vices, exposed them with frankness and fervour. The verbosity prevailing in this poem is often relieved by a graphic description of the natural scenery.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

WINDECK (EBERHARD), born at Mayence, 1378.

His great talent as arithmetician having attracted the notice of King Sigismond (of Bohemia), he accompanied that prince in his foreign travels, and settled, after his return, in his native place, Mayence, where the corporation entrusted him with the task of examining the disordered state of the accounts of that town. In this place, he wrote also his 'Life of King Sigismond,' extending to the coronation of Frederick III., 1442, in which year he is said to have died. His style is heavy, but he describes his subjects conscientiously.

WOLKENSTEIN (Oswald Von), 1367—1445, endeavoured also to revive the old • Minnegesang.' He was conspicuous for his gallantry in the field, and for his wisdom in the council. After his return from the Holy Land, whither he had accompanied Duke Albrecht, he, with the Tyrolese nobility, resisted the encroachments of the people of Tyrol and Appenzell, leagued against Austria. He was ultimately ambassador at the court of the Emperor Sigismund, in which capacity he visited England, France, and Spain. During the struggles between Duke Ernest and his brother Frederick, of Austria, Wolkenstein, who had embraced the cause of the former, lost one eye during the siege, and retired after the campaign against the Hussites (1419), to his castle of Hauenstein, where he died at an advanced age. Wolkenstein had cultivated various forms of poetry both sacred and worldly, biographies in rhyme, and political and satirical poems. He shines, however, most in his love songs, many of which were written in praise of the beautiful Queen of Arragon, who is said to have fallen in love with him during his stay at her castle. WYLE, or' WEYL' (NICOLAS VON), distinguished among the prose

, writers of his time, was born in the canton of Argovy. From the scanty information we possess of his life, we only know, that he was, in the year 1478, chancellor in the service of Count Ulrich, of Wurtemberg. Refined in manners, of a classical education, well versed in Italian literature, he has enriched our literature by a considerable number of translations, called by him "Tütschungen.'

His translations of Euriolus and Lucretia,' by Æneas Sylvius, and of the history of Guiscardus and Sigismunda,' rendered him very popular with the higher classes. His translations of the 'Importance of Classics,' by Sylvius, are replete with remarks conducive to the cause of morality.

[ocr errors]





The legends about animals like the ‘Sigfridsage, must have sprung from the remotest past, whilst the traditional character which they have borne for so many a generation, convincingly proves how deeply they were rooted in the minds and hearts of the people. We should not be surprised at this; for, if the wonders of the inorganic world did at all times produce strong impressions on the keener instincts of primitive nations, the interest felt on their part for animated nature-for those animals, either the daily companions in their forest solitude, or against whose ferocity they had to protect themselves, must needs have been immeasurably greater. From this close association between the primitive man and the animal arose the Thiersage,' which, like that of the horny • Sigfrid,' originated among the Franks, was successively transplanted to Lorraine, Flanders, Northern France, and again to Germany, and found afterwards an expression in the early Latin poems, ' Ecbasis Captivi,' 'Isengrimus,' and · Reinardus,' the former dating from the 10th, the latter from the 12th century. These legends, the outpourings of primitive minds, did not, however, originally possess the satirical character they assumed subsequently, a fact which must no doubt be attributed to the higher state of intellectual training on the part of those who treated the subject.

Of ‘Isengrimus' and ' Reinardus' we possess two Latin versions : the former by Magister Nivardus, of South Flanders, dating from the beginning of the 12th century; the latter appearing 50 years later, by an unknown Benedictine monk of North Flanders.

About the same time appeared the first German version of the poem, having for its author an Alsacian, who adopted the pseudonym of Heinrich der Glichesare. Fifty years later, i.e., towards the beginning of the 13th century, a second German version appeared, improved in style, by an author whose name has remained unknown. Willem de Matoc's Dutch version, the first part of which appeared in 1250, was highly popular; but a second, attributed to Willem van Utenhove, of a century later, possesses less merit. After having undergone various transformations in the 14th and 15th centuries, Nicolaus Baumann published the poem in the Frisian dialect in the year 1496, there being no sufficient reason for the assertion made in the Lubeck edition, that Heinrich von Alkmar was the author of that version.



The names of the chief actors of Vos' afford philological evidence of its existence in still earlier times, the stories of the • Wolf and the Fox' being already known to the Franks in the 4th, 5th, and 6th centuries. The ancient French name for fox was 'goupil,' but the fact of the principal actor being always called ‘rinart,' shows its Teutonic origin. Grimm, the eminent philologist, expresses himself on the subject thus : ‘Renart,' Reinhart,' in its earlier form ‘Reginhart, still earlier 'Raginohard,' Ragnohard,' is a proper name of frequent occurrrence in documents of the 7th, 8th, and 9th centuries, the meaning of which has long since ceased to be understood. The Frank word 'raginboron,' the Saxon .raedboran,' signify to decide, advise, give counsel before a tribunal. 'Raginhard' is an adviser, expert in counsel; and in all these fables the fox is always represented as the adviser. The French poem says

Si ai maint bon conseil doné, If often good advice I have given, Par mon droit mon nom ai Renart. It was by right for my name is Renart. We give here a short version of the poem itself. King Noble, the lion, having summoned all his subjects to appear before him, Fox, conscious of his misdeeds, is the only one who does not accept the invitation; and as it always happens on such occasions, for 'les • absents ont toujours tort,' many a complaint of Renard's behaviour is brought before the supreme judge. Isegrimm, the wolf, especially speaks in unmeasured terms of his sufferings : in vain does Grimmbart, the badger, raise his voice in defence of cunning Renard : but when Henning, the cock, gives finally a very harrowing description of his cruelly slaughtered little ones, the king determines to summon the offender before his tribunal. For this purpose, Bruin, the bear, is sent to Fox, who receives the ambassador very courteously, and invites him to a sumptuous meal, held in the farm-yard of old farmer Rusteval, where plenty of honey was to be found in the hollow of a cleft tree. Poor Bruin, so fond of sweets, now fairly puts head and paws into the cleft; but whilst thus relishing his meal, Fox draws out the wedge, and poor Bruin not only becomes a prisoner, but gets a severe thrashing into the bargain, and deems himself lucky enough to escape, with the loss of his cap and gloves. In this plight he appears before the King, whose rage may be imagined, and who now deputes Hinz the tom-cat, on the same errand. Fox, however, availing himself again of the inherent frailties of human nature, and knowing Hinz's propensities for tender meat, invites the latter to the parson's barn, famous for its plump mice: here poor Tom is caught in the very trap set for that rascally Fox. At his cries, the parson's la


bourers hasten to the spot, and Hinz gets a sound beating, and escapes. Now Grimmbart, the badger, is sent as ambassador, and he, probably from mutual affinity of sentiments, succeeds at last in inducing Fox to appear. The latter, after having, full of emotion (for foxes also have hearts) bid farewell to his family, sets out with Grimmbart, confesses to his companion his sins in anticipation of coming events, receives his absolution in due form, but is notwithstanding only with difficulty restrained from attacking a splendid cock strutting about proudly on the road. Having arrived at court, his case is soon disposed of, and he is condemned to death. All rejoice at this, except the badger, and Martin the ape; but fox,

; previous to his death, expresses his anxiety to confess all his sins. This confession is a master-piece of special pleading, for during the delivery of his speech, he, by malicious insinuations, completely turns the tables upon his enemies, whom he accuses of conspiring secretly against the life of the king; the queen then intercedes for fox, who not only is not punished, but comes off with flying colours, and returns triumphantly to his castle Malipertus, in order to relate to his family the issue of his adventures. We give here the celebrated defence extracted from Göthe's version, with a parallel translation. Spiritus Domini helfe mir nun! Ich sehe Spiritus Domini, assist me now! I do not

nicht einen Unter der grossen Versammlung, den ich In this large assembly whom I have not nicht irgend beschädigt

injured somehow. Erst, ich war noch ein kleiner Compan, At first, I was then a little fellow, and und hatte die Brüste

had hardly Kaum zu saugen verlernt, da folgt ich Been weaned, I followed my propensities

meinen Begierden Unter die jungen Lämmer und Ziegen, Among the young lambs and goats which die neben der Heerde

with the flock Sich im Freien zerstreuten; ich hörte die Were roaming about at pleasure; I heard blöckenden Stimmen

the bleating voices Gar zu gerne, da lüstete mich nach leckerer With pleasure, the dainty food set my Speise,

heart a longing, Lernte hurtig sie kennen. Ein Lämm- I quickly made their acquaintance, bit a chen biss ich zu Tode,

lamb till it dicd Leckte das Blut; es schmeckte mir köst. And licked the blood; how delicions, and lich! und tödtete weiter

killed moreover Vier der jüngsten Ziegen, und ass sie, Four of the youngest goats and ate them, und übte mich ferner;

thus continuing my practice. Sparte keine Vögel, noch Hühner, noch I spared neither birds, nor chickens, ducks, Enten, noch Gänse,

see one

or geese Wo ich sie fand, und habe gar manches Wherever I found them, and buried many im Sande vergraben,

a one in the sand, Was ich geschlachtet und was mir nicht Of those I had killed and did not want to

alles zu essen beliebte. Dann begegnet es mir; in einem Winter Then it happened one winter on the am Rheine

Rhine Lernt' ich Isegrim kennen, er lauerte hin- That I got acquainted with Isegrim, he ter den Bäumen

was lurking behind the trees, Gleich versichert er mir, ich sei aus And assured me at once that we were seinem Geschlechte,

related, Ja er wusste mir gar die Grade der Sipps. Nay more, he knew how to count the chaft am Finger

pedigree on his


« AnteriorContinuar »