Open wide, proud Missolonghi, open wide thy portals high, Where repose the bones of heroes, teach us cheerfully to die! Open wide thy vaults! Within their holy bounds a couch we'd make, Where our hero, laid with heroes, may his last long slumber take! Rest beside that Rock of Honor, brave Count Normann, rest thy head, Till, at the archangel's trumpet, all the graves give up their dead!
LIED VOR DER SCHLACHT.
Wer fuer die Freiheit kampft und faellt, desz Ruhm wird bluehend stehn, Solange frei die Winde noch durch freie Luefte wehn, Solange frei der Baeume Laub noch rauscht im gruenen Wald, Solang' des Stromes Woge noch frei nach dem Meere wallt, Solang' des Adlers Fittich frei noch durch die Wolken fleugt, Solang' ein freier Odem noch aus freiem Herzen steigt.
Wer fuer die Freiheit kaempft und faellt, desz Ruhm wird bluehend stehn, Solange freie Geister noch durch Erd' und Himmel gehn. Durch Erd' und Himmel schwebt er noch, der Helden Schattenreihn, Und rauscht um uns in stiller Nacht, in hellem Sonnenschein, Im Sturm, der stolze Tannen bricht, und in dem Lueftchen auch, Das durch das Gras auf Graebern spielt mit seinem leisen Hauch, In ferner Enkel Hause noch um alle Wiegen kreist Auf Hellas' heldenreicher Flur der freien Ahnen Geist; Der haucht in Wundertraeumen schon den zarten Saeugling an Und weiht in seinem ersten Schlaf das Kind zu einem Mann; Den Juengling lockt sein Ruf hinaus mit nie gefuehlter Lust Zur Staette, wo ein Freier fiel; da greift er in die Brust Dem Zitternden, und Schauer ziehn ihm durch das tiefe Herz, Er weisz nicht, ob es Wonne sei, ob es der erste Schmerz. Herab, du heil'ge Geisterschar, schwell' unsre Fahnen auf, Befluegle unsrer Herzen Schlag und unsrer Fuese Lauf; Wir ziehen nach der Freiheit aus, die Waffen in der Hand, Wir ziehen aus auf Kampf und Tod fuer Gott, fuers Vaterland! Ihr seid mit uns, ihr rauscht um uns, eu'r Geisterodem zieht Mit zauberischen Toenen hin durch unser Jubellied; Ihr seid mit uns, ihr schwebt daher, ihr aus Thermopylae, Ihr aus dem gruenen Marathon, ihr von der blauen See, Am Wolkenfelsen Mykale, am Salaminerstrand, Ihr all' aus Wald, Feld, Berg und Thal im weiten Griechenland!
Wer fuer die Freiheit kampft und faellt, desz Ruhm wird bluehend stehn, Solange frei die Winde noch durch freie Luefte wehn, Solange frei der Baeume Laub noch rauscht im gruenen Wald, Solang' des Stromes Woge noch frei nach dem Meere wallt, Solang' des Adlers Fittich frei noch durch die Wolken fleugt, Solang' ein freier Odem noch aus freiem Herzen steigt.
SONG BEFORE BATTLE.
Whoe'er for freedom fights and falls, his fame no blight shall know, As long as through heaven's free expanse the breezes freely blow, As long as in the forest wild the green leaves flutter free, As long as rivers, mountain-born, roll freely to the sea, As long as free the eagle's wing exulting cleaves the skies, As long as from a freeman's heart a freeman's breath doth rise.
Whoe'er for freedom fights and falls, his fame no blight shall know, As long as spirits of the free through earth and air shall go; Through earth and air a spirit-band of heroes moves always, 'Tis near us at the dead of night, and in the noontide's blaze, In the storm that levels towering pines, and in the breeze that waves With low and gentle breath the grass upon our fathers' graves. There's not a cradle in the bounds of Hellas broad and fair, But the spirit of our free-born sires is surely hovering there. It breathes in dreams of fairy-land upon the infant's brain, And in his first sleep dedicates the child to manhood's pain; Its summons lures the youth to stand, with new-born joy possessed, Where once a freeman fell, and there it fires his thrilling breast, And a shudder runs through all his frame; he knows not if it be A throb of rapture, or the first sharp pang of agony. Come, swell our banners on the breeze, thou sacred spirit-band, Give wings to every warrior's foot, and nerve to every hand. We go to strike for freedom, to break the oppressor's rod, We go to battle and to death for our country and our God. Ye are with us, we hear your wings, we hear in magic tone Your spirit-voice the paean swell, and mingle with our own. Ye are with us, ye throng around,—you from Thermopylae, You from the verdant Marathon, you from the azure sea, By the cloud-capped rocks of Mykale, at Salamis,—all you From field and forest, mount and glen, the land of Hellas through!
Whoe'er for freedom fights and falls, his fame no blight shall know, As long as through heaven's free expanse the breezes freely blow, As long as in the forest wild the green leaves flutter free, As long as rivers, mountain-born, roll freely to the sea, As long as free the eagle's wing exulting cleaves the skies, As long as from a freeman's heart a freeman's breath doth rise.
When we remember all that was compressed into this short life, we might well believe that this ceaseless acquiring and creating must have tired and weakened and injured both body and mind. Such, however, was not the case. All who knew the poet agree in stating that he never overworked himself, and that he accomplished all he did with the most perfect ease and enjoyment. Let us only remember how his life as a student was broken into by his service during the war, how his journey to Italy occupied several years of his life, how later in Dessau he had to follow his profession as teacher and librarian, and then let us turn our thoughts to all the work of his hands and the creations of his mind, and we are astonished, not only at the amount of work done, but still more at the finished form which distinguishes all his works. He was one of the first who with Zeune, Von der Hagen, and the brothers Grimm, labored to reawaken an interest in ancient and mediaeval German literature. He was a favorite pupil of Wolf, and his "Homerische Vorschule" did more than any other work at that time to propagate the ideas of Wolf. He had explored the modern languages of Europe,—French, Italian, English, and Spanish; and his critiques in all these fields of literature show how intimately acquainted he was with the best authors of these nations. Besides all this, he worked regularly for journals and encyclopaedias, and was engaged co-editor of the great "Encyclopaedia of Arts and Sciences," by Ersch and Gruber. He also undertook the publication of a "Library of the German Poets of the Seventeenth Century," and all this, without mentioning his poems and novels, in the short space of a life of thirty-three years.
I almost forget that I am speaking of my father; for indeed I hardly knew him, and when his scientific and poetic activity reached its end, he was far younger than I am now. I do not believe, however, that a natural affection and veneration for the poet deprives us of the right of judging. It is well said that love is blind, but love also strengthens and sharpens the dull eye, so that it sees beauty where thousands pass by unmoved. If one reads most of our critical writings, it would almost appear as if the chief duty of the reviewer were to find out the weak points and faults of every work of art. Nothing has so injured the art of criticism as this prejudice. A critic is a judge; but a judge, though he is no advocate, should also be no prosecutor. The weak points of any work of art betray themselves only too soon; but in order to discover its beauties, not only a sharp, but an experienced eye is needed; and love and sympathy are necessary above anything else. It is the heart that makes the critic, not the nose. It is well known how many of the most beautiful spots in Scotland, and Wales, and Cornwall, were not many years ago described as wastes and wildernesses. Richmond and Hampton Court were admired, people travelled also to Versailles, and admired the often admired blue sky of Italy. But poets such as Walter Scott and Wordsworth discovered the beauties of their native land. Where others had only lamented over bare and wearisome hills, they saw the battle-fields and burial-places of the primeval Titan struggles of nature. Where others saw nothing but barren moors full of heather and broom, the land in their eyes was covered as with a carpet softer and more variegated than the most precious loom of Turkey. Where others lost their temper at the gray cold fog, they marveled at the silver veil of the bride of the morning, and the gold illumination of the departing sun. Now every cockney can admire the smallest lake in Westmoreland or the barest moor in the Highlands. Why is this? Because few eyes are so dull that they cannot see what is beautiful after it has been pointed out to them, and when they know that they need not feel ashamed of admiring it. It is the same with the beauties of poetry, as with the beauties of nature. We must first discover what is beautiful in poetry, and, when it is discovered, communicate it; otherwise the authors of Scotch ballads are but strolling singers, and the Niebelungen songs are, as Frederick the Great said, not worth powder and shot. The trade of fault-finding is quickly learnt; the art of admiration is a difficult art, at least for little minds, narrow hearts, and timid souls, who prefer treading broad and safe paths. Thus many critics and literary historians have rushed by the poems of Wilhelm Mueller, just like travellers, who go on in the beaten track, passing by on the right hand and on the left the most beautiful scenes of nature, and who only stand still and open both eyes and mouth when their "Murray" tells them there is something they ought to admire. Should an old man who is at home here meet them on their way, and counsel the travellers to turn for a moment from the high road in order to accompany him through a shady path to a mill, many may feel at first full of uneasiness and distrust. But when they have refreshed themselves in the dark green valley with its lively mill stream and delicious wood fragrance, they no longer blame their guide for having called somewhat loudly to them to pause in their journey. It is such a pause that I have tried in these few introductory lines to enforce on the reader, and I believe that I too may reckon on pardon, if not on thanks, from those who have followed my sudden call.
VI. ON THE LANGUAGE AND POETRY OF SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN.
After all that has been written about the Schleswig-Holstein question, how little is known about those whom that question chiefly concerns,—the Schleswig-Holsteiners! There may be a vague recollection that, during the general turmoil of 1848, the German inhabitants of the Duchies rose against the Danes; that they fought bravely, and at last succumbed, not to the valor, but to the diplomacy of Denmark. But, after the treaty of London in 1852 had disposed of them as the treaty of Vienna had disposed of other brave people, they sank below the horizon of European interests, never to rise again, it was fondly hoped, till the present generation had passed away.
Yet these Schleswig-Holsteiners have an interest of their own, quite apart from the political clouds that have lately gathered round their country. Ever since we know anything of the history of Northern Europe, we find Saxon races established as the inhabitants of that northern peninsula which was then called the Cimbric Chersonese. The first writer who ever mentions the name of Saxons is Ptolemy,(18) and he speaks of them as settled in what is now called Schleswig-Holstein.(19) At the time of Charlemagne the Saxon race is described to us as consisting of three tribes: the Ostfalai, Westfalai, and Angrarii. The Westphalians were settled near the Rhine, the Eastphalians near the Elbe, and the intermediate country, washed by the Weser, was held by the Angrarii.(20) The name of Westphalia is still in existence; that of Eastphalia has disappeared, but its memory survives in the English sterling. Eastphalian traders, the ancestors of the merchant princes of Hamburg, were known in England by the name of Easterlings; and their money being of the purest quality, easterling, in Latin esterlingus, shortened to sterling, became the general name of pure or sterling money. The name of the third tribe, the Angrarii, continued through the Middle Ages as the name of a people; and to the present day, my own sovereign, the Duke of Anhalt, calls himself Duke of "Sachsen, Engern, und Westphalen." But the name of the Angrarii was meant to fulfill another and more glorious destiny. The name Angrarii or Angarii(21) is a corruption of the older name, Angrivarii, the famous German race mentioned by Tacitus as the neighbors of the Cherusci. These Angrivarii are in later documents called Anglevarii. The termination varii(22) represents the same word which exists in A.-S. as ware; for instance, in Cant-ware, inhabitants of Kent, or Cant-ware-burh, Canterbury; burh-ware, inhabitants of a town, burghers. It is derived from werian, to defend, to hold, and may be connected with wer, a man. The same termination is found in Ansivarii or Ampsivarii; probably also in Teutonoarii instead of Teutoni, Chattuari instead of Chatti.
The principal seats of these Angrarii were, as we saw, between the Rhine and Elbe, but Tacitus(23) knows of Anglii, i.e. Angrii, east of the Elbe; and an offshoot of the same Saxon tribe is found very early in possession of that famous peninsula between the Schlei and the Bay of Flensburg on the eastern coast of Schleswig,(24) which by Latin writers was called Anglia, i.e. Angria. To derive the name of Anglia from the Latin angulus,(25) corner, is about as good an etymology as the kind-hearted remark of St. Gregory, who interpreted the name of Angli by angeli. From that Anglia, the Angli, together with the Saxons and Juts, migrated to the British Isles in the fifth century, and the name of the Angli, as that of the most numerous tribe, became in time the name of Englaland.(26) In the Latin laws ascribed to King Edward the Confessor, a curious supplement is found, which states "that the Juts (Guti) came formerly from the noble blood of the Angli, namely, from the state of Engra, and that the English came from the same blood. The Juts, therefore like the Angli of Germany, should always be received in England as brothers, and as citizens of the realm, because the Angli of England and Germany had always intermarried, and had fought together against the Danes."(27)
Like the Angli of Anglia, the principal tribes clustering round the base of the Cimbric peninsula, and known by the general name of Northalbingi or Transalbiani, also Nordleudi, were all offshoots of the Saxon stem. Adam of Bremen (2, 15) divides them into Tedmarsgoi, Holcetae, and Sturmarii. In these it is easy to recognize the modern names of Dithmarschen, Holtseten or Holsten, and Stormarn. It would require more space than we can afford, were we to enter into the arguments by which Grimm has endeavored to identify the Dithmarschen with the Teutoni, the Stormarn with the Cimbri, and the Holsten with the Harudes. His arguments, if not convincing, are at least highly ingenious, and may be examined by those interested in these matters, in his "History of the German Language," pp. 633-640.
For many centuries the Saxon inhabitants of those regions have had to bear the brunt of the battle between the Scandinavian and the German races. From the days when the German Emperor Otho I. (died 973) hurled his swift spear from the northernmost promontory of Jutland into the German Ocean to mark the true frontier of his empire, to the day when Christian IX. put his unwilling pen to that Danish constitution which was to incorporate all the country north of the Eider with Denmark, they have had to share in all the triumphs and all the humiliations of the German race, to which they are linked by the strong ties of a common blood and a common language.
Such constant trials and vicissitudes have told on the character of these German borderers, and have made them what they are, a hardy and determined, yet careful and cautious race. Their constant watchings and struggles against the slow encroachments or sudden inroads of an enemy more inveterate even than the Danes,—namely, the sea,—had imparted to them from the earliest times somewhat of that wariness and perseverance which we perceive in the national character of the Dutch and the Venetians. But the fresh breezes of the German Ocean and the Baltic kept their nerves well braced and their hearts buoyant; and for muscular development the arms of these sturdy ploughers of the sea and the land can vie with those of any of their neighbors on the isles or on the Continent. Holsten-treue, i.e. Holstein-truth, is proverbial throughout Germany, and it has stood the test of long and fearful trials.
There is but one way of gaining an insight into the real character of a people, unless we can actually live among them for years; and that is to examine their language and literature. Now it is true that the language spoken in Schleswig-Holstein is not German,—at least not in the ordinary sense of the word,—and one may well understand how travellers and correspondents of newspapers, who have picked up their German phrases from Ollendorf, and who, on the strength of this, try to enter into a conversation with Holstein peasants, should arrive at the conclusion that these peasants speak Danish, or, at all events, that they do not speak German.
The Germans of Schleswig-Holstein are Saxons, and all true Saxons speak Low-German, and Low-German is more different from High-German than English is from Lowland Scotch. Low-German, however, is not to be mistaken for vulgar German. It is the German which from time immemorial was spoken in the low countries and along the northern sea-coast of Germany, as opposed to the German of the high country, of Swabia, Thuringia, Bavaria, and Austria. These two dialects differ from each other like Doric and Ionic; neither can be considered as a corruption of the other; and however far back we trace these two branches of living speech, we never arrive at a point when they diverge from one common source. The Gothic of the fourth century, preserved in the translation of the Bible by Ulfilas, is not, as has been so often said, the mother both of High and Low German. It is to all intents and purposes Low-German, only Low-German in its most primitive form, and more primitive therefore in its grammatical framework than the earliest specimens of High-German also, which date only from the seventh or eighth century. This Gothic, which was spoken in the east of Germany, has become extinct. The Saxon, spoken in the north of Germany, continues its manifold existence to the present day in the Low-German dialects, in Frisian, in Dutch, and in English. The rest of Germany was and is occupied by High-German. In the West the ancient High-German dialect of the Franks has been absorbed in French, while the German spoken from the earliest times in the centre and south of Germany has supplied the basis of what is now called the literary and classical language of Germany.
Although the literature of Germany is chiefly High-German, there are a few literary compositions, both ancient and modern, in the different spoken dialects of the country, sufficient to enable scholars to distinguish at least nine distinct grammatical settlements; in the Low-German branch, Gothic, Saxon, Anglo-Saxon, Frisian, and Dutch; in the High-German branch, Thuringian, Frankish, Bavarian, and Alemannish. Professor Weinhold is engaged at present in publishing separate grammars of six of these dialects, namely, of Alemannish, Bavarian, Frankish, Thuringian, Saxon, and Frisian: and in his great German Grammar Jacob Grimm has been able to treat these, together with the Scandinavian tongues, as so many varieties of one common, primitive type of Teutonic speech.
But although, in the early days of German life, the Low and High German dialects were on terms of perfect equality, Low-German has fallen back in the race, while High-German has pressed forward with double speed. High-German has become the language of literature and good society. It is taught in schools, preached in church, pleaded at the bar; and, even in places where ordinary conversation is still carried on in Low-German, High-German is clearly intended to be the language of the future. At the time of Charlemagne this was not so; and one of the earliest literary monuments of the German language, the "Heliand," i.e. the Saviour, is written in Saxon or Low-German. The Saxon Emperors, however, did little for German literature, while the Swabian Emperors were proud of being the patrons of art and poetry. The language spoken at their court being High-German, the ascendency of that dialect may be said to date from their days, though it was not secured till the time of the Reformation, when the translation of the Bible by Luther put a firm and lasting stamp on what has since become the literary speech of Germany.
But language, even though deprived of literary cultivation, does not easily die. Though at present people write the same language all over Germany, the towns and villages teem everywhere with dialects, both High and Low. In Hanover, Brunswick, Mecklenburg, Oldenburg, the Free Towns, and in Schleswig-Holstein, the lower orders speak their own German, generally called Platt-Deutsch, and in many parts of Mecklenburg, Oldenburg, Ostfriesland, and Holstein, the higher ranks too cling in their every-day conversation to this more homely dialect.(28) Children frequently speak two languages: High-German at school, Low-German at their games. The clergyman speaks High-German when he stands in the pulpit; but when he visits the poor, he must address them in their own peculiar Platt. The lawyer pleads in the language of Schiller and Goethe; but when he examines his witnesses he has frequently to condescend to the vulgar tongue. That vulgar tongue is constantly receding from the towns; it is frightened away by railways, it is ashamed to show itself in parliament. But it is loved all the more by the people; it appeals to their hearts, and it comes back naturally to all who have ever talked it together in their youth. It is the same with the local patois of High-German. Even where at school the correct High-German is taught and spoken, as in Bavaria and Austria, each town still keeps its own patois, and the people fall back on it as soon as they are among themselves. When Maria Theresa went to the Burgtheater to announce to the people of Vienna the birth of a son and heir, she did not address them in high-flown literary German. She bent forward from her box, and called out: "Hoerts! der Leopold hot an Bueba": "Hear! Leopold has a boy." In German comedies, characters from Berlin, Leipzig, and Vienna are constantly introduced speaking their own local dialects. In Bavaria, Styria, and the Tyrol, much of the poetry of the people is written in their patois; and in some parts of Germany sermons even, and other religious tracts, continue to be published in the local vernaculars.
There are here and there a few enthusiastic champions of dialects, particularly of Low-German, who still cherish a hope that High-German may be thrown back, and Low-German restored to its rights and former dominion. Yet, whatever may be thought of the relative excellences of High and Low German,—and in several points, no doubt, Low-German has the advantage of High-German,—yet, practically, the battle between the two is decided, and cannot now be renewed. The national language of Germany, whether in the South or the North, will always be the German of Luther, Lessing, Schiller, and Goethe. This, however, is no reason why the dialects, whether of Low or High German, should be despised or banished. Dialects are everywhere the natural feeders of literary languages; and an attempt to destroy them, if it could succeed, would be like shutting up the tributaries of great rivers.
After these remarks it will be clear that, if people say that the inhabitants of Schleswig-Holstein do not speak German, there is some truth in such a statement, at least just enough of truth to conceal the truth. It might be said, with equal correctness, that the people of Lancashire do not speak English. But, if from this a conclusion is to be drawn that the Schleswig-Holsteiners, speaking this dialect, which is neither German nor Danish, might as well be taught in Danish as in German, this is not quite correct, and would deceive few if it were adduced as an argument for introducing French instead of English in the national schools of Lancashire.
The Schleswig-Holsteiners have their own dialect, and cling to it as they cling to many things which, in other parts of Germany, have been discarded as old-fashioned and useless. "Oll Knust hoelt Hus,"—"Stale bread lasts longest,"—is one of their proverbs. But they read their Bible in High-German; they write their newspapers in High-German, and it is in High-German that their children are taught, and their sermons preached in every town and in every village. It is but lately that Low-German has been taken up again by Schleswig-Holstein poets; and some of their poems, though intended originally for their own people only, have been read with delight, even by those who had to spell them out with the help of a dictionary and a grammar. This kind of homespun poetry is a sign of healthy national life. Like the songs of Burns in Scotland, the poems of Klaus Groth and others reveal to us, more than anything else, the real thoughts and feelings, the every-day cares and occupations, of the people whom they represent, and to whose approval alone they appeal. But as Scotland, proud though she well may be of her Burns, has produced some of the best writers of English, Schleswig-Holstein, too, small as it is in comparison with Scotland, counts among its sons some illustrious names in German literature. Niebuhr, the great traveller, and Niebuhr, the great historian, were both Schleswig-Holsteiners, though during their lifetime that name had not yet assumed the political meaning in which it is now used. Karsten Niebuhr, the traveller, was a Hanoverian by birth; but, having early entered the Danish service, he was attached to a scientific mission sent by King Frederick V. to Egypt, Arabia, and Palestine, in 1760. All the other members of that mission having died, it was left to Niebuhr, after his return in 1767, to publish the results of his own observations and of those of his companions. His "Description of Arabia," and his "Travels in Arabia and the Adjoining Countries," though published nearly a hundred years ago, are still quoted with respect, and their accuracy has hardly ever been challenged. Niebuhr spent the rest of his life as a kind of collector and magistrate at Meldorf, a small town of between two and three thousand inhabitants, in Dithmarschen. He is described as a square and powerful man, who lived to a good old age, and who, even when he had lost his eyesight, used to delight his family and a large circle of friends by telling them of the adventures in his Oriental travels, of the starry nights of the desert, and of the bright moonlight of Egypt, where, riding on his camel, he could, from his saddle, recognize every plant that was growing on the ground. Nor were the listeners that gathered round him unworthy of the old traveller. Like many a small German town, Meldorf, the home of Niebuhr, had a society consisting of a few government officials, clergymen, and masters at the public school; most of them men of cultivated mind, and quite capable of appreciating a man of Niebuhr's powers. Even the peasants there were not the mere clods of other parts of Germany. They were a well-to-do race, and by no means illiterate. Their sons received at the Gymnasium of Meldorf a classical education, and they were able to mix with ease and freedom in the society of their betters. The most hospitable house at Meldorf was that of Boie, the High Sheriff of Dithmarschen. He had formerly, at Goettingen, been the life and soul of a circle of friends who have become famous in the history of German literature, under the name of "Hainbund." That "Hainbund," or Grove-club, included Buerger, the author of "Lenore;" Voss, the translator of Homer; the Counts Stolberg, Hoelty, and others. With Goethe, too, Boie had been on terms of intimacy, and when, in after life, he settled down at Meldorf, many of his old friends, his brother-in-law Voss, Count Stolberg, Claudius, and others, came to see him and his illustrious townsman, Niebuhr. Many a seed was sown there, many small germs began to ripen in that remote town of Meldorf, which are yielding fruit at the present day, not in Germany only, but here in England. The sons of Boie, fired by the descriptions of the old, blind traveller, followed his example, and became distinguished as explorers and discoverers in natural history. Niebuhr's son, young Barthold, soon attracted the attention of all who came to see his father, particularly of Voss; and he was enabled by their help and advice, to lay, in early youth, that foundation of solid learning which fitted him, in the intervals of his checkered life, to become the founder of a new era in the study of Ancient History. And how curious the threads which bind together the destinies of men! how marvelous the rays of light which, emanating from the most distant centres, cross each other in their onward course, and give their own peculiar coloring to characters apparently original and independent! We have read, of late, in the Confessions of a modern St. Augustine, how the last stroke that severed his connection with the Church of England was the establishment of the Jerusalem bishopric. But for that event, Dr. Newman might now be a bishop, and his friends a strong party in the Church of England. Well, that Jerusalem bishopric owes something to Meldorf. The young schoolboy of Meldorf was afterwards the private tutor and personal friend of the Crown-Prince of Prussia, and he thus exercised an influence both on the political and the religious views of King Frederick William IV. He was likewise Prussian Ambassador at Rome, when Bunsen was there as a young scholar, full of schemes, and planning his own journey to the East. Niebuhr became the friend and patron of Bunsen, and Bunsen became his successor in the Prussian embassy at Rome. It is well known that the Jerusalem bishopric was a long-cherished plan of the King of Prussia, Niebuhr's pupil, and that the bill for the establishment of a Protestant bishopric at Jerusalem was carried chiefly through the personal influence of Bunsen, the friend of Niebuhr. Thus we see how all things are working together for good or for evil, though we little know of the grains of dust that are carried along from all quarters of the globe, to tell like infinitesimal weights in the scales that decide hereafter the judgment of individuals and the fate of nations.
If Holstein, and more particularly Dithmarschen, of which Meldorf had in former days been the capital, may claim some share in Niebuhr the historian,—if he himself, as the readers of his history are well aware, is fond of explaining the social and political institutions of Rome by references to what he had seen or heard of the little republic of Dithmarschen,—it is certainly a curious coincidence that the only worthy successor of Niebuhr, in the field of Roman history, Theodore Mommsen, is likewise a native of Schleswig. His History of Rome, though it did not produce so complete a revolution as the work of Niebuhr, stands higher as a work of art. It contains the results of Niebuhr's critical researches, sifted and carried on by a most careful and thoughtful disciple. It is, in many respects, a most remarkable work, particularly in Germany. The fact that it is readable, and has become a popular book, has excited the wrath of many critics, who evidently consider it beneath the dignity of a learned professor that he should digest his knowledge, and give to the world, not all and everything he has accumulated in his note-books, but only what he considers really important and worth knowing. The fact, again, that he does not load his pages with references and learned notes has been treated like a crimen loesae majestatis; and yet, with all the clamor and clatter that has been raised, few authors have had so little to alter or rectify in their later editions as Mommsen. To have produced two such scholars, historians, and statesmen as Niebuhr and Mommsen, would be an honor to any kingdom in Germany: how much more to the small duchy of Schleswig-Holstein, in which we have been told so often that nothing is spoken but Danish and some vulgar dialects of Low-German!
Well, even those vulgar dialects of Low-German, and the poems and novels that have been written in them by true Schleswig-Holsteiners, are well worth a moment's consideration. In looking at their language, an Englishman at once discovers a number of old acquaintances: words which we would look for in vain in Schiller or Goethe. We shall mention a few.
Black means black; in High-German it would be schwarz. De black is the black horse; black up wit is black on white; gif mek kil un blak, give me quill and ink. Blid is blithe, instead of the High-German mild. Bottervogel, or botterhahn, or botterhex, is butterfly, instead of schmetterling. It is a common superstition in the North of Germany, that one ought to mark the first butterfly one sees in spring. A white one betokens mourning, a yellow one a christening, a variegated one a wedding. Bregen or brehm is used instead of the High-German gehirn; it is the English brain. People say of a very foolish person, that his brain is frozen, de brehm is em verfrorn. The peculiar English but, which has given so much trouble to grammarians and etymologists, exists in the Holstein buten, literally outside, the Dutch buiten, the Old-Saxon bi-utan. Buten in German is a regular contraction, just as binnen, which means inside, within, during. Heben is the English heaven, while the common German name is Himmel. Hueckup is a sigh, and no doubt the English hiccough. Duesig is dizzy; talkig is talkative.
There are some curious words which, though they have a Low-German look, are not to be found in English or Anglo-Saxon. Thus plitsch, which is used in Holstein in the sense of clever, turns out to be a corruption of politisch, i.e. political. Kruedsch means particular or over nice; it is a corruption of kritisch, critical. Katolsch means angry, mad, and is a corruption of catholic, i.e. Roman Catholic. Kraensch means plucky, and stands for courageux. Fraenksch, i.e. Frankish, means strange; Flaemsch, i.e. Flemish, means sulky, and is used to form superlatives; Polsch, i.e. Polish, means wild. Forsch means strong and strength, and comes from the French force. Kluer is a corruption of couleur, and Kunkelfusen stands for confusion or fibs.
Some idiomatic and proverbial expressions, too, deserve to be noted. Instead of saying, "The sun has set," the Holsteiners, fond as they are of their beer, particularly in the evening after a hard day's work, say, "De Suenn geiht to Beer," "The sun goes to beer." If you ask in the country how far it is to some town or village, a peasant will answer, "'n Hunnblaff," "A dog's bark," if it is quite close; or "'n Pip Toback," "A pipe of tobacco," meaning about half an hour. Of a conceited fellow they say, "He hoert de Flegn hosten," "He hears the flies coughing." If a man is full of great schemes, he is told, "In Gedanken foert de Bur ok in't Kutsch." "In thought the peasant, too, drives in a coach." A man who boasts is asked, "Pracher! haest ok Lues, oder schuppst di man so?" "Braggart! have you really lice, or do you only scratch yourself as if you had?"
"Holstein singt nicht," "Holstein does not sing," is a curious proverb; and if it is meant to express the absence of popular poetry in that country, it would be easy to convict it of falsehood by a list of poets whose works, though unknown to fame beyond the limits of their own country, are cherished, and deservedly cherished, by their own countrymen. The best known among the Holstein poets is Klaus Groth, whose poems, published under the title of "Quickborn," i.e. quick bourn, or living spring, show that there is a well of true poetical feeling in that country, and that its strains are all the more delicious and refreshing if they bubble up in the native accent of the country. Klaus Groth was born in 1819. He was the son of a miller; and, though he was sent to school, he had frequently to work in the field in summer, and make himself generally useful. Like many Schleswig-Holsteiners, he showed a decided talent for mathematics; but, before he was sixteen, he had to earn his bread, and work as a clerk in the office of a local magistrate. His leisure hours were devoted to various studies: German, Danish, music, psychology, successively engaged his attention. In his nineteenth year he went to the seminary at Tondern to prepare himself to become a schoolmaster. There he studied Latin, French, Swedish; and, after three years, was appointed teacher at a girls' school. Though he had to give forty-three lessons a week, he found time to continue his own reading, and he acquired a knowledge of English, Dutch, Icelandic, and Italian. At last, however, his health gave way, and in 1847 he was obliged to resign his place. During his illness his poetical talent, which he himself had never trusted, became a source of comfort to himself and to his friends, and the warm reception which greeted the first edition of his "Quickborn" made him what he was meant to be,—the poet of Schleswig-Holstein.
His political poems are few; and, though a true Schleswig-Holsteiner at heart, he has always declined to fight with his pen when he could not fight with his sword. In the beginning of this year, however, he published "Five Songs for Singing and Praying," which, though they fail to give an adequate idea of his power as a poet, may be of interest as showing the deep feelings of the people in their struggle for independence. The text will be easily intelligible with the help of a literal English translation.
DUTSCHE EHR AND DUTSCHE EER.
Dar keemn Soldaten aewer de Elf, Hurah, hurah, na't Norn! Se keemn so dicht as Wagg an Wagg, Un as en Koppel vull Korn.
Gundag, Soldaten! wo kamt jue her? Vun alle Bargen de Kruez un Quer, Ut duetschen Landen na't duetsche Meer— So wannert un treckt dat Heer.
Wat liggt so eben as weert de See? Wat schint so gel as Gold? Dat is de Marschen er Saat un Staat, Dat is de Holsten er Stoet.
Gundag jue Holsten op duetsche Eer! Gundag jue Friesen ant duetsche Meer! To leben un starben vaer duetsche Ehr So wannert un treckt dat Heer.
German Honor and German Earth.
There came soldiers across the Elbe, Hurrah, hurrah, to the North! They came as thick as wave on wave, And like a field full of corn.
Good day, soldiers! whence do you come? From all the hills on the right and left, From German lands to the German sea,— Thus wanders and marches the host.
What lies so still as it were the sea? What shines so yellow as gold? The splendid fields of the Marshes they are, The pride of the Holsten race.
Good day, ye Holsten on German soil! Good day, ye Friesians, on the German sea To live and to die for German honor,— Thus wanders and marches the host.
Dat treckt so trurig aewer de Elf, In Tritt un Schritt so swar— De Swalw de wannert, de Hatbar treckt— Se kamt wedder to tokum Jahr.
Ade, ade, du duetsches Heer! "Ade, ade, du Holsten meer! Ade op Hoffen un Wiederkehr!" Wi truert alleen ant Meer.
De Storch kumt wedder, de Swalw de singt So froehlich as all tovaer— Wann kumt de duetsche Adler un bringt Di wedder, du duetsche Ehr?
Wak op du Floth, wak op du Meer! Wak op du Dunner, un week de Eer! Wi sitt op Haepen un Wedderkehr— Wi truert alleen ant Meer.
They march so sad across the Elbe, So heavy, step by step,— The swallow wanders, the stork departs,— They come back in the year to come.
Adieu, adieu, thou German host! "Adieu, adieu, thou Holsten sea! Adieu, in hope, and to meet again!" We mourn alone by the sea.
The stork comes back, the swallow sings As blithe as ever before,— When will the German eagle return, And bring thee back, thou German honor!
Wake up, thou flood! wake up, thou sea! Wake up, thou thunder, and rouse the land! We are sitting in hope to meet again,— We mourn alone by the sea.
Dar kumt en Brusen as Vaerjahswind, Dat draehnt as waer dat de Floth,— Will't Froehjahr kamen to Wihnachtstid? Hoelpt Gott uns suelb'n inne Noth?
Vun alle Bargen de Kruez un Quer Dar is dat wedder dat duetsche Heer! Dat gelt op Nu oder Nimmermehr! So rett se, de duetsche Ehr!
Wi hoert den Adler, he kumt, he kumt! Noch eenmal haept wi un harrt! Is't Friheit endlich, de he uns bringt? ls't Wahrheit, wat der ut ward?
Sunst hoelp uns Himmel, nu geit't ni mehr! Hoelp du, un bring uns den Herzog her! Denn wuellt wi starben vaer duetsche Ehr! Denn begravt uns in duetsche Eer!
30 December, 1863.
There comes a blast like winter storm; It roars as it were the flood. Is the spring coming at Christmas-tide? Does God himself help us in our need?
From all the hills on the right and left, There again comes the German host! It is to be now or never! O, save the German honor!
We hear the eagle, he comes, he comes! Once more we hope and wait! Is it freedom at last he brings to us? Is it truth what comes from thence?
Else Heaven help us, now it goes no more! Help thou, and bring us our Duke! Then will we die for German honor! Then bury us in German earth!
December 30, 1863.
It is not, however, in war songs or political invective that the poetical genius of Klaus Groth shows to advantage. His proper sphere is the quiet idyl, a truthful and thoughtful description of nature, a reproduction of the simplest and deepest feelings of the human heart, and all this in the homely, honest, and heartfelt language of his own "Platt Deutsch." That the example of Burns has told on Groth, that the poetry of the Scotch poet has inspired and inspirited the poet of Schleswig-Holstein, is not to be denied. But to imitate Burns, and to imitate him successfully, is no mean achievement, and Groth would be the last man to disown his master. The poem "Min Jehann" might have been written by Burns. I shall give a free metrical translation of it, but should advise the reader to try to spell out the original; for much of its charm lies in its native form, and to turn Groth even into High-German destroys his beauty as much as when Burns is translated into English.
Ik wull, wi weern noch kleen, Jehann, Do weer de Welt so grot! We seten op den Steen, Jehann, Weest noch? by Nawers Sot. An Heben sell de stille Maan, Wi segen, wa he leep, Un snacken, wa de Himmel hoch, Un wa de Sot wul deep.
Weest noch, wa still dat weer, Jehann? Dar roehr keen Blatt an Bom. So is dat nu ni mehr, Jehann, As hoechstens noch in Drom. Och ne, wenn do de Scheper sung— Alleen in't wide Feld: Ni wahr, Jehann? dat weer en Ton— De eenzige op de Welt.
Mituenner inne Schummerntid Denn ward mi so to Mod, Denn loeppt mi't langs den Ruegg so hitt, As domals bi den Sot. Den dreih ik mi so hasti um, As weer ik nich alleen: Doch Allens, wat ik finn, Jehann, Dat is—ik stah un ween.
I wish we still were little, John, The world was then so wide! When on the stone by neighbor's bourn We rested side by side. We saw the moon in silver veiled Sail silent through the sky; Our thoughts were deeper than the bourn, And as the heavens high.
You know how still it was then, John; All nature seemed at rest; So is it now no longer, John, Or in our dreams at best! Think when the shepherd boy then sang Alone o'er all the plain, Aye, John, you know, that was a sound We ne'er shall hear again.
Sometimes now, John, the eventides The self-same feelings bring, My pulses beat as loud and strong As then beside the spring. And then I turn affrighted round, Some stranger to descry; But nothing can I see, my John,— I am alone and cry.
The next poem is a little popular ballad, relating to a tradition, very common on the northern coast of Germany, both east and west of the peninsula, of islands swallowed by the sea, their spires, pinnacles, and roofs being on certain days still visible, and their bells audible, below the waves. One of these islands was called Buesen, or Old Buesum, and is supposed to have been situated opposite the village now called Buesen, on the west coast of Dithmarschen. Strange to say, the inhabitants of that island, in spite of their tragic fate, are represented rather in a comical light, as the Boeotians of Holstein.
WAT SIK DAT VOLK VERTELLT.
Ol Buesen hggt int wille Haff, De Floth de keem un woehl en Graff. De Floth de keem un spoel un spoel, Bet se de Insel uenner woehl. Dar blev keen Steen, dar blev keen Pahl, Dat Water schael dat all hendal. Dar weer keen Beest, dar weer keen Hund, De ligt nu all in depen Grund. Un Allens, wat der lev un lach, Dat deck de See mit depe Nach. Mituenner in de holle Ebb So sueht man vunne Hues' de Koepp. Denn dukt de Thorn herut ut Sand, As weert en Finger vun en Hand. Denn hoert man sach de Klocken klingn, Denn hoert man sach de Kanter singn; Denn geit dat lisen daer de Luft: "Begrabt den Leib in seine Gruft."
WHAT THE PEOPLE TELL.
Old Buesen sank into the waves; The sea has made full many graves; The flood came near and washed around, Until the rock to dust was ground. No stone remained, no belfry steep; All sank into the waters deep. There was no beast, there was no hound; They all were carried to the ground. And all that lived and laughed around The sea now holds in gloom profound. At times, when low the water falls, The sailor sees the broken walls; The church tower peeps from out the sand, Like to the finger of a hand. Then hears one low the church bells ringing Then hears one low the sexton singing; A chant is carried by the gust: "Give earth to earth, and dust to dust."
In the Baltic, too, similar traditions are current of sunken islands and towns buried in the sea, which are believed to be visible at certain times. The most famous tradition is that of the ancient town of Vineta,—once, it is said, the greatest emporium in the north of Europe,—several times destroyed and built up again, till, in 1183, it was upheaved by an earthquake and swallowed by a flood. The ruins of Vineta are believed to be visible between the coast of Pomerania and the island of Ruegen. This tradition has suggested one of Wilhelm Mueller's—my father's—lyrical songs, published in his "Stones and Shells from the Island of Ruegen," 1825, of which I am able to give a translation by Mr. J. A. Froude.
Aus des Meeres tiefem, tiefem Grunde Klingen Abendglocken dumpf und matt, Uns zu geben wunderbare Kunde Von der schoenen alten Wunderstadt.
In der Fluthen Sehooss hinabgesunken Blieben unten ihre Truemmer stehn, Ihre Zinnen lassen goldne Funken Wiederscheinend auf dem Spiegel sehn.
Und der Schiffer, der den Zauberschimmer Einmal sah im hellen Abendroth, Nach derselben Stelle schifft er immer, Ob auch rings umher die Klippe droht.
Aus des Herzens tiefem, tiefem Grunde Klingt es mir, wie Glocken, dumpf und matt: Ach, sie geben wunderbare Kunde Von der Liebe, die geliebt es hat.
Eine schoene Welt ist da versunken, Ihre Truemmer blieben unten stehn, Lassen sich als goldne Himmelsfunken Oft im Spiegel meiner Traeume sehn.
Und dann moecht' ich tauchen in die Tiefen, Mich versenken in den Wiederschein, Und mir ist als ob mich Engel riefen In die alte Wunderstadt herein.
From the sea's deep hollow faintly pealing, Far off evening bells come sad and slow; Faintly rise, the wondrous tale revealing Of the old enchanted town below.
On the bosom of the flood reclining, Ruined arch and wall and broken spire, Down beneath the watery mirror shining, Gleam and flash in flakes of golden fire.
And the boatman who at twilight hour Once that magic vision shall have seen, Heedless how the crags may round him lour, Evermore will haunt the charmed scene.
From the heart's deep hollow faintly pealing, Far I hear them, bell-notes sad and slow, Ah, a wild and wondrous tale revealing Of the drowned wreck of love below.
There a world, in loveliness decaying, Lingers yet in beauty ere it die; Phantom forms, across my senses playing, Flash like golden fire-flakes from the sky.
Lights are gleaming, fairy bells are ringing, And I long to plunge and wander free, Where I hear the angel-voices singing In those ancient towers below the sea.
I give a few more specimens of Klaus Groth's poetry, which I have ventured to turn into English verse, in the hope that my translations, though very imperfect, may, perhaps on account of their very imperfection, excite among some of my readers a desire to become acquainted with the originals.
HE SAe MI SO VEL.
He sae mi so vel, un ik sae em keen Wort, Un all wat ik sae, weer: Jehann, ik mutt fort!
He sae mi vun Lev un vun Himmel un Eer, He sae mi vun allens—ik weet ni mal mehr!
He sae mi so vel, un ik sae em keen Wort, Un all wat ik sae, weer: Jehann, ik mutt fort!
He heeld mi de Hann, un he be mi so dull, Ik schull em doch gut wen, un ob ik ni wull?
Ik weer je ni boes, awer sae doch keen Wort, Un all wat ik sae, weer: Jehann, ik mutt fort!
Nu sitt ik un denk, un denk juemmer deran Mi duech, ik muss seggt hebbn: Wa geern, min Jehann!
Un doch, kumt dat wedder, so segg ik keen Wort, Un hollt he mi, segg ik: Jehann, ik mutt fort!
HE TOLD ME SO MUCH.
Though he told me so much, I had nothing to say, And all that I said was, John, I must away!
He spoke of his true love, and spoke of all that, Of honor and heaven,—I hardly know what.
Though he told me so much, I had nothing to say, And all that I said was, John, I must away!
He held me, and asked me, as hard as he could, That I too should love him, and whether I would?
I never was wrath, but had nothing to say, And all that I said was, John, I must away!
I sit now alone, and I think on and on, Why did I not say then, How gladly, my John!
Yet even the next time, O what shall I say, If he holds me and asks me?—John, I must away!
Se is doch de stillste vun alle to Kark! Se is doch de schoenste vun alle to Mark! So weekli, so bleekli, un de Ogen so grot, So blau as en Heben un deep as en Sot.
Wer kikt wul int Water, un denkt ni sin Deel? Wer kikt wul nan Himmel, un wuenscht sik ne vel? Wer sueht er in Ogen, so blau un so fram, Un denkt ni an Engeln, un allerhand Kram?
In church she is surely the stillest of all, She steps through the market so fair and so tall,
So softly, so lightly, with wondering eyes, As deep as the sea, and as blue as the skies.
Who thinks not a deal when he looks on the main? Who looks to the skies, and sighs not again?
Who looks in her eyes, so blue and so true, And thinks not of angels and other things too?
KEEN GRAFF IS SO BRUT.
Keen Graff is so brut un keen Mueer so hoch, Wenn Twe sik man gut suend, so drapt se sik doch.
Keen Wedder so gruli, so duester keen Nacht, Wenn Twe sik man sehn wuellt, so seht se sik sacht.
Dat gif wul en Maanschin, dar schint wul en Steern, Dat gift noch en Licht oder Luecht un Lantern.
Dar fiunt sik en Ledder, en Stegelsch un Steg: Wenn Twe sik man leef hebbt—keen Sorg vaer den Weg.
No ditch is so deep, and no wall is so high, If two love each other, they'll meet by and by.
No storm is so wild, and no night is so black, If two wish to meet, they will soon find a track.
There is surely the moon, or the stars shining bright, Or a torch, or a lantern, or some sort of light;
There is surely a ladder, a step, or a stile, If two love each other, they'll meet ere long while.
JEHANN, NU SPANN DE SCHIMMELS AN!
Jehann, nu spann de Schimmels an! Nu fahr wi na de Brut! Un hebbt wi nix as brune Per, Jehann, so is't ok gut!
Un hebbt wi nix as swarte Per, Jehann, so is't ok recht! Un buen ik nich uns Weerth sin Soen, So buen'k sin juengste Knecht!
Un hebbt wi gar keen Per un Wag', So hebbt wi junge Been! Un de so glueckli is as ik, Jehann, dat wuell wi sehn!
MAKE HASTE, MY JOHN, PUT TO THE GRAYS.
Make haste, my John, put to the grays, We'll go and fetch the bride, And if we have but two brown hacks, They'll do as well to ride.
And if we've but a pair of blacks, We still can bear our doom, And if I'm not my master's son, I'm still his youngest groom.
And have we neither horse nor cart, Still strong young legs have we,— And any happier man than I, John, I should like to see.
DE JUNGE WETFRU.
Wenn Abends roth de Wulken treckt, So denk ik och! an di! So trock verbi dat ganze Heer, Un du weerst mit derbi.
Wenn ut de Boem de Blaeder fallt, So denk ik glik an di: So full so menni brawe Jung, Un du weerst mit derbi.
Denn sett ik mi so truri hin, Un denk so vel an di, Ik et alleen min Abendbrot— Un du buest nich derbi.
THE SOLDIER'S WIDOW.
When ruddy clouds are driving past, 'Tis more than I can bear; Thus did the soldiers all march by, And thou, too, thou wert there.
When leaves are falling on the ground, 'Tis more than I can bear; Thus fell full many a valiant lad, And thou, too, thou wert there.
And now I sit so still and sad, 'Tis more than I can bear; My evening meal I eat alone, For thou, thou art not there.
I wish I could add one of Klaus Groth's tales ("Vertellen," as he calls them), which give the most truthful description of all the minute details of life in Dithmarschen, and bring the peculiar character of the country and of its inhabitants vividly before the eyes of the reader. But, short as they are, even the shortest of them would fill more pages than could here be spared for Schleswig-Holstein. I shall, therefore, conclude this sketch with a tale which has no author,—a simple tale from one of the local Holstein newspapers. It came to me in a heap of other papers, fly-sheets, pamphlets, and books, but it shone like a diamond in a heap of rubbish; and, as the tale of "The Old Woman of Schleswig-Holstein," it may help to give to many who have been unjust to the inhabitants of the Duchies some truer idea of the stuff there is in that strong and staunch and sterling race to which England owes its language, its best blood, and its honored name.
"When the war against Denmark began again in the winter of 1863, offices were opened in the principal towns of Germany for collecting charitable contributions. At Hamburg, Messrs. L. and K. had set apart a large room for receiving lint, linen, and warm clothing, or small sums of money. One day, about Christmas, a poorly clad woman from the country stepped in and inquired, in the pure Holstein dialect, whether contributions were received here for Schleswig-Holstein. The clerk showed her to a table covered with linen rags and such like articles. But she turned away and pulled out an old leather purse, and, taking out pieces of money, began to count aloud on the counter: 'One mark, two marks, three marks,' till she had finished her ten marks. 'That makes ten marks,' she said, and shoved the little pile away. The clerk, who had watched the poor old woman while she was arranging her small copper and silver coins, asked her,—'From whom does the money come?'
" 'From me,' she said, and began counting again, 'One mark, two marks, three marks.' Thus she went on emptying her purse, till she had counted out ten small heaps of coin, of ten marks each. Then, counting each heap once over again, she said: 'These are my hundred marks for Schleswig-Holstein; be so good as to send them to the soldiers.'
"While the old peasant woman was doing her sums, several persons had gathered round her; and, as she was leaving the shop, she was asked again in a tone of surprise from whom the money came.
" 'From me,' she said; and, observing that she was closely scanned, she turned back, and looking the man full in the face, she added, smiling: 'It is all honest money; it won't hurt the good cause.'
"The clerk assured her that no one had doubted her honesty, but that she herself had, no doubt, often known want, and that it was hardly right to let her contribute so large a sum, probably the whole of her savings.
"The old woman remained silent for a time, but, after she had quietly scanned the faces of all present, she said: 'Surely it concerns no one how I got the money. Many a thought passed through my heart while I was counting that money. You would not ask me to tell you all? But you are kind gentlemen, and you take much trouble for us poor people. So I'll tell you whence the money came. Yes, I have known want; food has been scarce with me many a day, and it will be so again, as I grow older. But our gracious Lord watches over us. He has helped me to bear the troubles which He sent. He will never forsake me. My husband has been dead this many and many a year. I had one only son; and my John was a fine stout fellow, and he worked hard, and he would not leave his old mother. He made my home snug and comfortable. Then came the war with the Danes. All his friends joined the army; but the only son of a widow, you know, is free. So he remained at home, and no one said to him, "Come along with us," for they knew that he was a brave boy, and that it broke his very heart to stay behind. I knew it all. I watched him when the people talked of the war, or when the schoolmaster brought the newspaper. Ah, how he turned pale and red, and how he looked away, and thought his old mother did not see it! But he said nothing to me, and I said nothing to him, Gracious God, who could have thought that it was so hard to drive our oppressors out of the land? Then came the news from Fredericia! That was a dreadful night. We sat in silence opposite each other. We knew what was in our hearts, and we hardly dared to look at each other. Suddenly he rose and took my hand, and said, "Mother!"—God be praised, I had strength in that moment—"John," I said, "our time has come; go in God's name. I know how thou lovest me, and what thou hast suffered. God knows what will become of me if I am left quite alone, but our Lord Jesus Christ will forsake neither thee nor me." John enlisted as a volunteer. The day of parting came. Ah, I am making a long story of it all! John stood before me in his new uniform. "Mother," he said, "one request before we part—if it is to be"—"John," I said to him, "I know what thou meanest,—O, I shall weep, I shall weep very much when I am alone; but my time will come, and we shall meet again in the day of our Lord, John! and the land shall be free, John! the land shall be free!" '
"Heavy tears stood in the poor old woman's eyes as she repeated her sad tale; but she soon collected herself, and continued: 'I did not think then it would be so hard. The heart always hopes even against hope. But for all that'—and here the old woman drew herself up, and looked at us like a queen—'I have never regretted that I bade him go. Then came dreadful days; but the most dreadful of all was when we read that the Germans had betrayed the land, and that they had given up our land with all our dead to the Danes! Then I called on the Lord and said, "O Lord, my God, how is that possible? Why lettest Thou the wicked triumph and allowest the just to perish?" And I was told that the Germans were sorry for what they had done, but that they could not help it. But that, gentlemen, I could never understand. We should never do wrong, nor allow wrong to be done. And, therefore, I thought, it cannot always remain so; our good Lord knows his own good time, and in his own good time He will come and deliver us. And I prayed every evening that our gracious Lord would permit me to see that day when the land should be free, and our dear dead should sleep no more in Danish soil. And, as I had no other son against that day, I saved every year what I could save, and on every Christmas Eve I placed it before me on a table, where, in former years, I had always placed a small present for my John, and I said in my heart, The war will come again, and the land will be free, and thou shalt sleep in a free grave, my only son, my John! And now, gentlemen, the poor old woman has been told that the day has come, and that her prayer has been heard, and that the war will begin again; and that is why she has brought her money, the money she saved for her son. Good morning, gentlemen,' she said, and was going quickly away.
"But, before she had left the room, an old gentleman said, loud enough for her to hear, 'Poor body! I hope she may not be deceived.'
" 'Ah,' said the old woman, turning back, 'I know what you mean; I have been told all is not right yet. But have faith, men! the wicked cannot prevail against the just; man cannot prevail against the Lord. Hold to that, gentlemen; hold fast together, gentlemen! This very day I—begin to save up again.'
"Bless her, good old soul! And, if Odin were still looking out of his window in the sky as of yore, when he granted victory to the women of the Lombards, might he not say even now:—
" 'When women are heroes, What must the men be like? Theirs is the victory; No need of me.' "
Our attention was attracted a few months ago by a review published in the "Journal des Debats," in which a new translation of Joinville's "Histoire de Saint Louis," by M. Natalis de Wailly, a distinguished member of the French Institute, was warmly recommended to the French public. After pointing out the merits of M. de Wailly's new rendering of Joinville's text, and the usefulness of such a book for enabling boys at school to gain an insight into the hearts and minds of the Crusaders, and to form to themselves a living conception of the manners and customs of the people of the thirteenth century, the reviewer, whose name is well known in this country as well as in France by his valuable contributions to the history of medicine, dwelt chiefly on the fact that through the whole of Joinville's "Memoires" there is no mention whatever of surgeons or physicians. Nearly the whole French army is annihilated, the King and his companions lie prostrate from wounds and disease, Joinville himself is several times on the point of death; yet nowhere, according to the French reviewer, does the chronicler refer to a medical staff attached to the army or to the person of the King. Being somewhat startled at this remark, we resolved to peruse once more the charming pages of Joinville's History; nor had we to read far before we found that one passage at least had been overlooked, a passage which establishes beyond the possibility of doubt the presence of surgeons and physicians in the camp of the French Crusaders. On page 78 of M. de Wailly's spirited translation, in the account of the death of Gautier d'Autreche, we read that when that brave knight was carried back to his tent nearly dying, "several of the surgeons and physicians of the camp came to see him, and not perceiving that he was dangerously injured, they bled him on both his arms." The result was what might be expected: Gautier d'Autreche soon breathed his last.
Having once opened the "Memoires" of Joinville, we could not but go on to the end, for there are few books that carry on the reader more pleasantly, whether we read them in the quaint French of the fourteenth century, or in the more modern French in which they have just been clothed by M. Natalis de Wailly. So vividly does the easy gossip of the old soldier bring before our eyes the days of St. Louis and Henry III., that we forget that we are reading an old chronicle, and holding converse with the heroes of the thirteenth century. The fates both of Joinville's "Memoires" and of Joinville himself suggest in fact many reflections apart from mere mediaeval history; and a few of them may here be given in the hope of reviving the impressions left on the minds of many by their first acquaintance with the old Crusader, or of inviting others to the perusal of a work which no one who takes an interest in man, whether past or present, can read without real pleasure and real benefit.
It is interesting to watch the history of books, and to gain some kind of insight into the various circumstances which contribute to form the reputation of poets, philosophers, or historians. Joinville, whose name is now familiar to the student of French history, as well as to the lover of French literature, might fairly have expected that his memory would live by his acts of prowess, and by his loyal devotion and sufferings when following the King of France, St. Louis, on his unfortunate crusade. When, previous to his departure for the Holy Land, the young Senechal de Champagne, then about twenty-four years of age, had made his confession to the Abbot of Cheminon; when, barefoot and in a white sheet, he was performing his pilgrimages to Blehecourt (Blechicourt), St. Urbain, and other sacred shrines in his neighborhood, and when on passing his own domain he would not once turn his eyes back on the castle of Joinville, "pour ce que li cuers ne me attendrisist dou biau chastel que je lessoie et de mes dous enfans" ("that the heart might not make me pine after the beautiful castle which I left behind, and after my two children"), he must have felt that, happen what might to himself, the name of his family would live, and his descendants would reside from century to century in those strong towers where he left his young wife, Alix de Grandpre, and his son and heir Jean, then but a few months old. After five years he returned from his crusade, full of honors and full of wounds. He held one of the highest positions that a French nobleman could hold. He was Senechal de Champagne, as his ancestors had been before him. Several members of his family had distinguished themselves in former crusades, and the services of his uncle Geoffroi had been so highly appreciated by Richard Coeur de Lion that he was allowed by that King to quarter the arms of England with his own. Both at the court of the Comtes de Champagne, who were Kings of Navarre, and at the court of Louis IX., King of France, Joinville was a welcome guest. He witnessed the reigns of six kings,—of Louis VIII., 1223-26; Louis IX., or St. Louis, 1226-70; Philip III., le Hardi, 1270-85 ; Philip IV., le Bel, 1285-1314; Louis X., le Hutin, 1314-16 ; and Philip V., le Long, 1316-22. Though later in life Joinville declined to follow his beloved King on his last and fatal crusade in 1270, he tells us himself how, on the day on which he took leave of him, he carried his royal friend, then really on the brink of death, in his arms from the residence of the Comte d'Auxerre to the house of the Cordeliers. In 1282 he was one of the principal witnesses when, previous to the canonization of the King, an inquest was held to establish the purity of his life, the sincerity of his religious professions, and the genuineness of his self-sacrificing devotion in the cause of Christendom. When the daughter of his own liege lord, the Comte de Champagne, Jeanne de Navarre, married Philip le Bel, and became Queen of France, she made Joinville Governor of Champagne, which she had brought as her dowry to the grandson of St. Louis. Surely, then, when the old Crusader, the friend and counselor of many kings, closed his earthly career, at the good age of ninety-five, he might have looked forward to an honored grave in the Church of St. Laurent, and to an eminent place in the annals of his country, which were then being written in more or less elegant Latin by the monks of St. Denis.
But what has happened? The monkish chroniclers, no doubt, have assigned him his proper place in their tedious volumes, and there his memory would have lived with that kind of life which belongs to the memory of Geoffroi, his illustrious uncle, the friend of Philip Augustus, the companion of Richard Coeur de Lion, whose arms were to be seen in the Church of St. Laurent, at Joinville, quartered with the royal arms of England. Such parchment or hatchment glory might have been his, and many a knight, as good as he, has received no better, no more lasting reward for his loyalty and bravery. His family became extinct in his grandson. Henri de Joinville, his grandson, had no sons; and his daughter, being a wealthy heiress, was married to one of the Dukes of Lorraine. The Dukes of Lorraine were buried for centuries in the same Church of St. Laurent where Joinville reposed, and where he had founded a chapel dedicated to his companion in arms, Louis IX., the Royal Saint of France; and when, at the time of the French Revolution, the tombs of St. Denis were broken open by an infuriated people, and their ashes scattered abroad, the vaults of the church at Joinville, too, shared the same fate, and the remains of the brave Crusader suffered the same indignity as the remains of his sainted King. It is true that there were some sparks of loyalty and self-respect left in the hearts of the citizens of Joinville. They had the bones of the old warrior and of the Dukes of Lorraine reinterred in the public cemetery; and there they now rest, mingled with the dust of their faithful lieges and subjects. But the Church of St. Laurent, with its tombs and tombstones, is gone. The property of the Joinvilles descended from the Dukes of Lorraine to the Dukes of Guise, and, lastly, to the family of Orleans. The famous Duke of Orleans, Egalite, sold Joinville in 1790, and stipulated that the old castle should be demolished. Poplars and fir-trees now cover the ground of the ancient castle, and the name of Joinville is borne by a royal prince, the son of a dethroned king, the grandson of Louis Egalite, who died on the guillotine.
Neither his noble birth, nor his noble deeds, nor the friendship of kings and princes, would have saved Joinville from that inevitable oblivion which has blotted from the memory of living men the names of his more eminent companions,—Robert, Count of Artois; Alphonse, Count of Poitiers; Charles, Count of Anjou; Hugue, Duke of Burgundy; William, Count of Flanders, and many more. A little book which the old warrior wrote or dictated,—for it is very doubtful whether he could have written it himself,—a book which for many years attracted nobody's attention, and which even now we do not possess in the original language of the thirteenth or the beginning of the fourteenth centuries—has secured to the name of Jean de Joinville a living immortality, and a fame that will last long after the bronze statue which was erected in his native place in 1853 shall have shared the fate of his castle, of his church, and of his tomb. Nothing could have been further from the mind of the old nobleman when, at the age of eighty-five, he began the history of his royal comrade, St. Louis, than the hope of literary fame. He would have scouted it. That kind of fame might have been good enough for monks and abbots, but it would never at that time have roused the ambition of a man of Joinville's stamp. How the book came to be written he tells us himself in his dedication, dated in the year 1309, and addressed to Louis le Hutin, then only King of Navarre and Count of Champagne, but afterwards King of France. His mother, Jeanne of Navarre, the daughter of Joinville's former liege lord, the last of the Counts of Champagne, who was married to Philip le Bel, the grandson of St. Louis, had asked him "to have a book made for her, containing the sacred words and good actions of our King, St. Looys." She died before the book was finished, and Joinville, therefore, sent it to her son. How it was received by him we do not know; nor is there any reason to suppose that there were more than a few copies made of a work which was intended chiefly for members of the royal family of France and of his own family. It is never quoted by historical writers of that time; and the first historian who refers to it is said to be Pierre le Baud, who, toward the end of the fifteenth century, wrote his "Histoire de Bretagne." It has been proved that for a long time no mention of the dedication copy occurs in the inventories of the private libraries of the Kings of France. At the death of Louis le Hutin his library consisted of twenty-nine volumes, and among them the History of St. Louis does not occur. There is, indeed, one entry, "Quatre caiers de Saint Looys;" but this could not be meant for the work of Joinville, which was in one volume. These four cahiers or quires of paper were more likely manuscript notes of St. Louis himself. His confessor, Geoffroy de Beaulieu, relates that the King, before his last illness, wrote down with his own hand some salutary counsels in French, of which he, the confessor, procured a copy before the King's death, and which he translated from French into Latin.
Again, the widow of Louis X. left at her death a collection of forty-one volumes, and the widow of Charles le Bel a collection of twenty volumes; but in neither of them is there any mention of Joinville's History.
It is not till we come to the reign of Charles V. (1364-80) that Joinville's book occurs in the inventory of the royal library, drawn up in 1373 by the King's valet de chambre, Gilles Mallet. It is entered as "La vie de Saint Loys, et les fais de son voyage d'outre mer;" and in the margin of the catalogue there is a note, "Le Roy l'a par devers soy,"—"The King has it by him." At the time of his death the volume had not yet been returned to its proper place in the first hall of the Louvre; but in the inventory drawn up in 1411 it appears again, with the following description:(30)—
"Une grant partie de la vie et des fais de Monseigneur Saint Loys que fist faire le Seigneur de Joinville; tres-bien escript et historie. Convert de cuir rouge, a empreintes, a deux fermoirs d'argent. Escript de lettres de forme en francois a deux coulombes; commencant au deuxieme folio 'et porceque,' et au derrenier 'en tele maniere.' "
This means, "A great portion of the life and actions of St. Louis which the Seigneur de Joinville had made, very well written and illuminated. Bound in red leather, tooled, with two silver clasps. Written in formal letters in French, in two columns, beginning on the second folio with the words 'et porceque,' and on the last with 'en tele maniere.' "
During the Middle Ages and before the discovery of printing, the task of having a literary work published, or rather of having it copied, rested chiefly with the author; and as Joinville himself, at his time of life, and in the position which he occupied, had no interest in what we should call "pushing" his book, this alone is quite sufficient to explain its almost total neglect. But other causes, too, have been assigned by M. Paulin Paris and others for what seems at first sight so very strange,—the entire neglect of Joinville's work. From the beginning of the twelfth century the monks of St. Denis were the recognized historians of France. They at first collected the most important historical works of former centuries, such as Gregory of Tours, Eginhard, the so-called Archbishop Turpin, Nithard, and William of Jumieges. But beginning with the first year of Philip I., 1060-1108, the monks became themselves the chroniclers of passing events. The famous Abbot Suger, the contemporary of Abelard and St. Bernard, wrote the life of Louis le Gros; Rigord and Guillaume de Nangis followed with the history of his successors. Thus the official history of St. Louis had been written by Guillaume de Nangis long before Joinville thought of dictating his personal recollections of the King. Besides the work of Guillaume de Nangis, there was the "History of the Crusades," including that of St. Louis, written by Guillaume, Archbishop of Tyre, and translated into French, so that even the ground which Joinville had more especially selected as his own was preoccupied by a popular and authoritative writer. Lastly, when Joinville's History appeared, the chivalrous King, whose sayings and doings his old brother in arms undertook to describe in his homely and truthful style, had ceased to be an ordinary mortal. He had become a saint, and what people were anxious to know of him were legends rather than history. With all the sincere admiration which Joinville entertained for his King, he could not compete with such writers as Geoffroy de Beaulieu (Gaufridus de Belloloco), the confessor of St. Louis, Guillaume de Chartres (Guillelmus Carnotensis), his chaplain, or the confessor of his daughter Blanche, each of whom had written a life of the royal saint. Their works were copied over and over again, and numerous MSS. have been preserved of them in public and private libraries. Of Joinville one early MS. only was saved, and even that not altogether a faithful copy of the original.
The first edition of Joinville was printed at Poitiers in 1547, and dedicated to Francois I. The editor, Pierre Antoine de Rieux, tells us that when, in 1542, he examined some old documents at Beaufort en Valee, in Anjou, he found among the MSS. the Chronicle of King Louis, written by a Seigneur de Joinville, Senechal de Champagne, who lived at that time, and had accompanied the said St. Louis in all his wars. But because it was badly arranged or written in a very rude language, he had it polished and put in better order, a proceeding of which he is evidently very proud, as we may gather from a remark of his friend Guillaume de Perriere, that "it is no smaller praise to polish a diamond than to find it quite raw" (toute brute).
This text, which could hardly be called Joinville's, remained for a time the received text. It was reproduced in 1595, in 1596, and in 1609.
In 1617 a new edition was published by Claude Menard. He states that he found at Laval a heap of old papers, which had escaped the ravages committed by the Protestants in some of the monasteries at Anjou. When he compared the MS. of Joinville with the edition of Pierre Antoine de Rieux, he found that the ancient style of Joinville had been greatly changed. He therefore undertook a new edition, more faithful to the original. Unfortunately, however, his original MS. was but a modern copy, and his edition, though an improvement on that of 1547, was still very far from the style and language of the beginning of the fourteenth century.
The learned Du Cange searched in vain for more trustworthy materials for restoring the text of Joinville. Invaluable as are the dissertations which he wrote on Joinville, his own text of the History, published in 1668, could only be based on the two editions that had preceded his own.
It was not till 1761 that real progress was made in restoring the text of Joinville. An ancient MS. had been brought from Brussels by the Marechal Maurice de Saxe. It was carefully edited by M. Capperonnier, and it has served, with few exceptions, as the foundation of all later editions. It is now in the Imperial Library. The editors of the "Recueil des Historiens de France" express their belief that the MS. might actually be the original. At the end of it are the words, "Ce fu escript en l'an de grace mil CCC et IX, on moys d'octovre." This, however, is no real proof of the date of the MS. Transcribers of MSS., it is well known, were in the habit of mechanically copying all they saw in the original, and hence we find very commonly the date of an old MS. repeated over and over again in modern copies.
The arguments by which in 1839 M. Paulin Paris proved that this, the oldest MS. of Joinville, belongs not to the beginning, but to the end of the fourteenth century, seem unanswerable, though they failed to convince M. Daunou, who, in the twentieth volume of the "Historiens de France," published in 1840, still looks upon this MS. as written in 1309, or at least during Joinville's life-time. M. Paulin Paris establishes, first of all, that this MS. cannot be the same as that which was so carefully described in the catalogue of Charles V. What became of that MS. once belonging to the private library of the Kings of France, no one knows, but there is no reason, even now, why it should not still be recovered. The MS. of Joinville, which now belongs to the Imperial Library, is written by the same scribe who wrote another MS. of "La Vie et les Miracles de Saint Louis." Now, this MS. of "La Vie et les Miracles" is a copy of an older MS., which likewise exists at Paris. This more ancient MS., probably the original, and written, therefore, in the beginning of the fourteenth century, had been carefully revised before it served as the model for the later copy, executed by the same scribe who, as we saw, wrote the old MS. of Joinville. A number of letters were scratched out, words erased, and sometimes whole sentences altered or suppressed, a red line being drawn across the words which had to be omitted. It looks, in fact, like a manuscript prepared for the printer. Now, if the same copyist who copied this MS. copied likewise the MS. of Joinville, it follows that he was separated from the original of Joinville by the same interval which separates the corrected MSS. of "La Vie et les Miracles" from their original, or from the beginning of the fourteenth century. This line of argument seems to establish satisfactorily the approximate date of the oldest MS. of Joinville as belonging to the end of the fourteenth century.
Another MS. was discovered at Lucca. As it had belonged to the Dukes of Guise, great expectations were at one time entertained of its value. It was bought by the Royal Library at Paris in 1741 for 360 livres, but it was soon proved not to be older than about 1500, representing the language of the time of Francois I. rather than of St. Louis, but nevertheless preserving occasionally a more ancient spelling than the other MS. which was copied two hundred years before. This MS. bears the arms of the Princess Antoinette de Bourbon and of her husband, Claude de Lorraine, who was "Duc de Guise, Comte d'Aumale, Marquis de Mayence et d'Elbeuf, and Baron de Joinville." Their marriage took place in 1513; he died in 1550, she in 1583.
There is a third MS. which has lately been discovered. It belonged to M. Brissart-Binet of Rheims, became known to M. Paulin Paris, and was lent to M. de Wailly for his new edition of Joinville. It seems to be a copy of the so-called MS. of Lucca, the MS. belonging to the Princess Antoinette de Bourbon, and it is most likely the very copy which that Princess ordered to be made for Louis Lassere, canon of St. Martin of Tours who published an abridgment of it in 1541. By a most fortunate accident it supplies the passages from page 88 to 112, and from page 126 to 139, which are wanting in the MS. of Lucca.
It must be admitted, therefore, that for an accurate study of the historical growth of the French language, the work of Joinville is of less importance than it would have been if it had been preserved in its original orthography, and with all the grammatical peculiarities which mark the French of the thirteenth and the beginning of the fourteenth century. There may be no more than a distance of not quite a hundred years between the original of Joinville and the earliest MS. which we possess. But in those hundred years the French language did not remain stationary. Even as late as the time of Montaigne, when French has assumed a far greater literary steadiness, that writer complains of its constant change. "I wrote my book," he says in a memorable passage ("Essais," liv. 3, c. 9)—
"For few people and for a few years. If it had been a subject that ought to last, it should have been committed to a more stable language (Latin). After the continual variation which has followed our speech to the present day, who can hope that its present form will be used fifty years hence? It glides from our hands every day, and since I have lived it has been half changed. We say that at present it is perfect, but every century says the same of its own. I do not wish to hold it back, if it will fly away and go on deteriorating as it does. It belongs to good and useful writers to nail the language to themselves" (de le clouer a eux).
On the other hand, we must guard against forming an exaggerated notion of the changes that could have taken place in the French language within the space of less than a century. They refer chiefly to the spelling of words, to the use of some antiquated words and expressions, and to the less careful observation of the rules by which in ancient French the nominative is distinguished from the oblique cases, both in the singular and the plural. That the changes do not amount to more than this can be proved by a comparison of other documents which clearly preserve the actual language of Joinville. There is a letter of his which is preserved at the Imperial Library at Paris, addressed to Louis X. in 1315. It was first published by Du Cange, afterwards by M. Daunou, in the twentieth volume of the "Historiens de France," and again by M. de Wailly. There are, likewise, some charters of Joinville, written in his chancellerie, and in some cases with additions from his own hand. Lastly, there is Joinville's "Credo," containing his notes on the Apostolic Creed, preserved in a manuscript of the thirteenth century. This was published in the "Collection des Bibliophiles Francais," unfortunately printed in twenty-five copies only. The MS. of the "Credo," which formerly belonged to the public library of Paris, disappeared from it about twenty years ago; and it now forms No. 75 of a collection of MSS. bought in 1849 by Lord Ashburnham from M. Barrois. By comparing the language of these thirteenth century documents with that of the earliest MS. of Joinville's History, it is easy to see that although we have lost something, we have not lost very much, and that, at all events, we need not suspect in the earliest MS. any changes that could in any way affect the historical authenticity of Joinville's work.(31)
To the historian of the French language, the language of Joinville, even though it gives us only a picture of the French spoken at the time of Charles V. or contemporaneously with Froissart, is still full of interest. That language is separated from the French of the present day by nearly five centuries, and we may be allowed to give a few instances to show the curious changes both of form and meaning which many words have undergone during that interval.
Instead of _soeur_, sister, Joinville still uses _sereur_, which was the right form of the oblique case, but was afterwards replaced by the nominative _suer_ or _soeur_. Thus, p. 424 E, we read, _quant nous menames la serour le roy_, _i.e._ _quand nous menames la soeur du roi_; but p. 466 A, _l'abbaie que sa suer fonda_, _i.e._ _l'abbaie que sa soeur fonda_. Instead of _ange_, angel, he has both _angle_ and _angre_, where the _r_ stands for the final _l_ of _angele_, the more ancient French form of _angelus_. The same transition of final _l_ into _r_ may be observed in _apotre_ for _apostolus_, _chapitre_ for _capitulum_, _chartre_ for _cartula_, _esclandre_ for _scandalum_. Instead of _vieux_, old, Joinville uses _veil_ or _veel_ (p. 132 C, _le veil le fil au veil_, _i.e._ _le vieux fils du vieux_); but in the nom. sing., _viex_, which is the Latin _vetulus_ (p. 302 A, _li Viex de _ la Montaingne_, _i.e._ _le Vieux de la Montagne_; but p. 304 A, _li messaige le Vieil_, _i.e._ _les messagers du Vieux_.) Instead of _coude_, m., elbow, we find _coute_, which is nearer to the Latin _cubitus_, cubit. The Latin _t_ in words like _cubitus_ was generally softened in old French, and was afterwards dropped altogether. As in _coude_, the _d_ is preserved in _aider_ for _adjutare_, in _fade_ for _fatuus_. In other words, such as _chaine_ for _catena_, _roue_ for _rota_, _epee_ for _spatha_, _aimee_ for _amata_, it has disappeared altogether. _True_ is _voir_, the regular modification of _verum_, like _soir_ of _serum_, instead of the modern French _vrai_; _e.g._, p. 524 B, _et sachiez que voirs estait_, _i.e._ _et sachez que c'etait vrai_. We still find _ester_, to stand ("_Et ne pooit ester sur ses pieds_," "He could not stand on his legs"). At present the French have no single word for "standing," which has often been pointed out as a real defect of the language. "To stand" is _ester_, in Joinville; "to be" is _estre_.
In the grammatical system of the language of Joinville we find the connecting link between the case terminations of the classical Latin and the prepositions and articles of modern French. It is generally supposed that the terminations of the Latin declension were lost in French, and that the relations of the cases were expressed by prepositions, while the s as the sign of the plural was explained by the s in the nom. plur. of nouns of the third declension. But languages do not thus advance per saltum. They change slowly and gradually, and we can generally discover in what is, some traces of what has been.
Now the fact is that in ancient French, and likewise in Provencal, there is still a system of declension more or less independent of prepositions. There are, so to say, three declensions in old French, of which the second is the most important and the most interesting. If we take a Latin word like annus, we find in old French two forms in the singular, and two in the plural. We find sing. an-s, an, plur. an, ans. If an occurs in the nom. sing. or as the subject, it is always ans; if it occur as a gen., dat., or acc., it is always an. In the plural, on the contrary, we find in the nom. an, and in all the oblique cases ans. The origin of this system is clear enough, and it is extraordinary that attempts should have been made to derive it from German or even from Celtic, when the explanation could be found so much nearer home. The nom. sing. has the s, because it was there in Latin; the nom. plur. has no s, because there was no s there in Latin. The oblique cases in the singular have no s, because the accusative in Latin, and likewise the gen., dat., and abl., ended either in vowels, which became mute, or in m, which was dropped. The oblique cases in the plural had the s, because it was there in the acc. plur., which became the general oblique case, and likewise in the dat. and abl. By means of these fragments of the Latin declension, it was possible to express many things without prepositions which in modern French can no longer be thus expressed. Le fils Roi was clearly the son of the King; il fil Roi, the sons of the King. Again we find li roys, the King, but au roy, to the King. Pierre Sarrasin begins his letter on the crusade of St. Louis by A seigneur Nicolas Arode, Jehan-s Sarrasin, chambrelen-s le roy de France, salut et bonne amour.
But if we apply the same principle to nouns of the first declension, we shall see at once that they could not have lent themselves to the same contrivance. Words like corona have no s in the nom. sing., nor in any of the oblique cases; it would therefore be in French corone throughout. In the plural indeed there might have been a distinction between the nom. and the acc. The nom. ought to have been without an s, and the acc. with an s. But with the exception of some doubtful passages, where a nom. plur. is supposed to occur in old French documents without an s, we find throughout, both in the nom. and the other cases, the s of the accusative as the sign of the plural.
Nearly the same applies to certain words of the third declension. Here we find indeed a distinction between the nom. and the oblique cases of the singular, such as flor-s, the flower, with flor, of the flower; but the plural is flor-s throughout. This form is chiefly confined to feminine nouns of the third declension.
There is another very curious contrivance by which the ancient French distinguished the nom. from the acc. sing., and which shows us again how the consciousness of the Latin grammar was by no means entirely lost in the formation of modern French. There are many words in Latin which change their accent in the oblique cases from what it was in the nominative. For instance, cantator, a singer, becomes cantatorem, in the accusative. Now in ancient French the nom., corresponding to cantator, is chantere, but the gen. chanteor, and thus again a distinction is established of great importance for grammatical purposes. Most of these words followed the analogy of the second declension, and added an s in the nom. sing., dropped it in the nom. plur., and added it again in the oblique cases of the plural. Thus we get—
SINGULAR. PLURAL. Nom. Oblique Cases. Nom. Oblique Cases. chantere chanteor chanteor chanteors From baro, baron baron barons baronis (O. Fr. ber) latro, larron larron larrons latronis (O. Fr. lierre) senior, seignor seignor seignors senioris (O. Fr. sendre) (sire)