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biblical and worldly events, the style is very popular, and often reminds the reader of our best epic poems of antiquity.
ORENDEL. We are informed, that Christ's coat, spun by the Virgin, and made up by St. Helena, having been presented, by King Herod, to an old merchant, the latter had, after several fruitless attempts to wash out the blood-stains, placed it in a stone box, and then thrown it into the sea. This box had been opened by a siren, and the contents washed on shore, where, after having remained for nine years, a pilgrim had found it and thrown it again into the sea. We are then told that a whale swallowed it.
Now, there lived at Trêves, on the River Moselle, a mighty king, called "Eipel,' whose son Orendel, after having been made a knight, was desired by his father to sue for the hand of Queen Breida, who then kept watch over the holy grave at Jerusalem. Orendel starts with a large fleet, but has the misfortune of being wrecked. All perish; he alone is thrown on the dreary strand, helpless and naked. Here he enters the service of a fisherman, called Martin Eisen,' who one fine day catches the same whale who nine years before had swallowed the coat. Orendel, left in a rather primitive state after his wreck, is happy to buy the coat found in the whale's body for 30 ducats, a sum said to have been sent to him by the angels. The garment, it appears, possessed the power of rendering the wearer invulnerable against the attacks of the heathen. Orendel starts for Jerusalem, where his prepossessing manners soon gain him the affection of Queen Breida, in spite of the templars, who endeavoured to thwart him in every possible way. With the sword of David, lent to him by Queen Breida, and assisted by three angels, Orendel succeeds in overcoming two formidable giants. He then returns to Jerusalem, is met by the lovely Breida, but, alas! to their inexpressible disappointment, when just on the point of entering the bridal chamber, an angel appears, and commands them to postpone the marriage for nine years longer, an order to which they, as may well be imagined, submit, rather reluctantly. Six weeks later, the giant Pellian advances against Orendel, who, surrounded on all sides, is fortunately released by Queen Breida. After various other adventures, Orendel is ordered by an angel to start for Trier, to deliver his own father, in a town besieged by the heathen. Breida and Eisen, however, follow him in the expedition, and Orendel obtains an easy victory over his opponents.
Breida, having subsequently dreamt that the holy Graal (chalice) had been lost, Orendel starts for Jerusalem, after having concealed his coat in a stone coffin.
Breida and Eisen also follow him thither, are all taken prisoners, but miraculously released by their army. And now the gentle readers will naturally expect that the long delayed marriage should take place at last. We are sorry to disappoint them, for the pitiless angel finally condemns them to celibacy for the rest of their days. Fortunately, however, their disappointment did not last long; for we are told, that after .six months and two days, they were released from their earthly troubles.
ANNOLIED. Anno, Archbishop of Cologne, under the Emperor Henry III., was entrusted with the government of the empire during the minority of Henry IV.; he died in the year 1075, and was made a saint in the year 1183, on account of his pure and spotless life.
The poem, respecting which there exist doubts, was either written in celebration of this event, or at an earlier period, often reminds the reader of our best epic poems of antiquity, bears both a martial and religious character, and was evidently written by an inhabitant of the Lower Rhine.
The resemblance it bears in many respects to the 'Kaiserchronik,' has led to all kinds of unfounded assertions and imputations; but it is now proved, beyond doubt, that, far from its being an imitation of the latter, the author of the ‘Kaiserchronik, must have drawn his inspirations principally from the 'Annolied.'
SALOMON AND MOROLT. Salomon elopes with the beautiful daughter of King Cyprian, of India, and makes her his wife. King Pharao, at the instigation of Cyprian, endeavours to regain the fair lady, but is beaten, and taken prisoner by Salomon, who, strangely to say, appoints the latter guardian of the lovely dame, a proceeding, the dangers of which Salomon's brother, Morolt, vainly points out, by reminding him that he, who wants to extinguish the fire, ought not to feed it.'
Wer Stroh noch zu dem Feuer thut, leicht zündet es sich Also geschieht dir mit König Pharao, willst du deine Frau ihn hüten lan. What had been predicted, took place, and both effect their escape. Morolt, who seems to have taken the matter much to heart, now determines to bring back the fugitives, causes a leather ship to be made, and after having for several years traversed the sea,
in search of them, he lands, one day, near the Wendelsee,' the abode of the guilty couple. Having disguised himself, he proceeds to the castle, and is admitted by the queen, during Pharao's temporary absence. She even consents to play at chess with him, and promises, that in case of his winning the game, he should obtain the king's own beautiful sister. Morolt succeeds in checkmating the queen by a stratagem; for he possessed a ring, from the interior of which a nightingale by some ingenious mechanism, poured forth the most beautiful strains so as to distract the queen's attention. Mit fröuden er über dem brete saz; bis daz sie schâch unde stein vergaz die künigin schouwete die nahtegorl, Da mite werte er daz spil. Morolt, however, is recognised, and condemned to death. He escapes; and, for a considerable time, succeeds in entering Pharao's castle in various disguises, and to play him, and to his courtiers, all sorts of tricks, the most favourite of which was to lull them to sleep, and then to shave their heads. Salomon, informed of the whereabouts of the couple, starts with a large army, but having entered the castle in disguise, he is recognised, and condemned to death, in spite of the prayers of King Pharao's sister. When led, on the following morning, to the gallows, Salomon begins to blow his horn, at the signal of which, Morolt and the army arrive and release him.
Pharao is slain, and the guilty queen pardoned. Salomon now returns to Jerusalem, accompanied by Pharao's sister. It appears, however, that his restless queen eloped a second time with King Princian, but being discovered again by Morolt, she is condemned to death. Pharao's sister becomes then the wife of Salomon, and adopts the name of Afra. The poem, evidently belonging to the twelfth century, appeared in the fourteenth, in an altered form. We possess, also, another poem, of the same name and period, based upon a Latin version.
It is, as already stated, a dialogue between Salomon, the representative of all that is austere, solemn, and grave, and Morolt, who, by his smart retorts, turns the wisdom and refined learning into ridicule, not without seasoning it with remarks anything but delicate.
GRADUAL DECLINE OF POETRY FROM THE MIDDLE OF THE XIV. TO THE FIRST QUARTER OF
THE XVI. CENTURY.
THE reaction, sure to follow at all times great physical and
mental efforts, had now commenced, and when the few endeavours made to keep alive the reminiscences of the past had proved fruitless, there remained only the recollection of that which once had been so lofty and refined.
The influence exercised by the crusades on mental life had ceased, and the tree being thus deprived of its life-sustaining sap, Poetry, kindled by the lofty aspirations of that era, declined accordingly; in fact, it lost its poetry.
A few wandering minstrels, called “Wappendichter' (poets of the crest), did not then disdain to attend princes at tournaments, or festive occasions, in order to describe in verse the knights' pedigrees, or extol their deeds : ultimately these poetasters degenerated into the more humble 'Spruchsprecher,' and 'Pritschenmeister,' a kind of Merry Andrews, whose functions were of a still less æsthetic character.
Other causes arose to favour this mental decline, and to spread gloom throughout the land.
Adolf of Nassau, and Ludwig the Bavarian, carried on their sanguinary struggles; famine, and a fearful pestilence, known under the name of · Black Death, desolated the land. Lawlessness and violence reigned supreme; the strong lording it over the weak; and the knights in their strong castles, laughing to scorn the threats of the emperor. Then followed the Hussite war with all its miseries ; no wonder, therefore, that Germany should have sunk under an accumulation of so many evils. The German clergy and nobility, depraved and ignorant, showed in their persons that a pernicious example from above is sure to demoralize the masses. Stupidity and inertness were, Maximilian I. excepted, the qualities of our rulers; whilst the aristocracy, represented by men like Eppele von Geilingen, knew no higher ambition than that of living by their saddles, i.e. to levy blackmail of the wandering citizens. The latter, on the other hand, showed their courage by upholding their civic rights, cultivating agriculture and the fine arts, and by supporting substantially the founding of universities, those nurseries of the mind, the bright beacons in the darkness around, the guardians
of civilization. That of Prague, founded in the year 1348, led the van; then followed Vienna, 1385; Heidelberg, 1387; Cologne, 1388; Erfurt, 1392; Leipzig, 1409; Rostock, 1419; Trêves, 1454; Griefswalde, 1456; Freiburg, 1456; Ingoldstadt, 1472; Mayence and Tübingen, 1477; Wittenberg, 1502; Frankfort on the Oder, 1506.
A discovery of incalculable importance to mental progress, the · art of printing,' made in the year 1440, by causing the products of the mind to be spread broadcast over the nation, prepared the crowning event, in consequence of which the mind could burst its last fetters. To that splendid art, and to the Press, its noble interpreter, civilisation is indebted for its most glorious triumphs; humanity for the realisation of its loftiest inspirations; liberty and morality for its staunchest defenders.
Then followed the discovery of America, which opened an inexhaustible mine to the industry and spirit of enterprise of that Anglo-Saxon race, which Providence seems to have destined to rule over the two hemispheres. Not less important to the cause of civilisation, was the taking of Constantinople, 1453, when, in consequence of the forced emigration of learned Greeks to Italy, the splendid tree of southern literature, of fine arts and science was transplanted into the soil of Western Europe, where, though often impeded in its growth, it could shoot forth its buds, expand and give shelter to those anxious to live under its benign and fostering influence. Yes, the cultivation of the fine arts, redeemed to a great extent the gloom then prevailing, and threw, as it were, a halo over that much-abused mediæval age, with its Hanseatic towns, honourable peace-loving citizens, domestic virtues, and prosperous commerce.
For the first newspaper, and the introduction of postal communication, dating likewise from this period, we areindebted to the Emperor Maximilian I., who, a promoter of learning himself, wrote several *Essays,' and laid the foundation for his historical work, subsequently published by his secretary, Marx Treizsauerwein.
Prose writing, thanks to the Upper Saxon dialect, would have improved still more but for those pedantic scholars whose predilections for the Latin language, in which they exclusively wrote, proved so detrimental to the development of our own national literature. POETRY, driven from the palaces, where only courtfools and poetasters represented it, settled now in the humble dwellings of the citizens; and here, stripped of its higher epic and lyric character, it gradually assumed a popular garb, and became • Meistergesang' and 'Volkslied.'