[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

his native tongue ; but he could understand Greek better than he could speak it. He was so eloquent, indeed, that he might have passed for a teacher of eloquence. He most zealously cultivated the liberal arts, held those who taught them in great esteem, and conferred great honors upon them. He took lessons in grammar of the deacon Peter of Pisa, at that time an aged man. Another deacon, Albin of Britain, surnamed Alcuin, a man of Saxon extraction, who was the greatest scholar of the day, was his teacher in other branches of learning. The King spent much time and labor with him studying rhetoric, dialectics, and especially astronomy. He learned to reckon, and used to investigate the motions of the heavenly bodies most curiously, with an intelligent scrutiny. He also tried to write, and used to keep tablets in blanks in bed under his pillow, that at leisure hours he might accustom his hand to form the letters; however, as he did not begin his efforts in due season, but late in life, they met with ill success.

He cherished with the greatest fervor and devotion the principles of the Christian religion, which had been instilled into him from infancy. Hence it was that he built the beautiful basilica at Aix-la-Chapelle, which he adorned with gold and silver and lamps, and with rails and doors of solid brass. He had the columns and marbles for this structure brought from Rome and Ravenna, for he could not find such as were suitable elsewhere. He was a constant worshipper at this church as long as his health permitted, going morning and evening, even after nightfall, besides attending mass; and he took care that all the services there conducted should be administered with the utmost possible propriety, very often warning the sextons not to let any improper or unclean thing be brought into the building, or remain in it. He provided it with a great number of sacred vessels of gold and silver, and with such a quantity of clerical robes that not even the door-keepers were obliged to wear their every day clothes when in the exercise of their duties.Life of Charlemagne ; translation of TURNER.


EICHENDORFF, JOSEPH VON, German poet and novelist, born at Lubowitz (his father's baronetcy), near Ratibor, in Silesia, March 10, 1788; died at Neisse, November 26, 1857. He studied law at Halle and Heidelberg from 1805 to 1808. He resided for some time at Vienna and Paris, and in 1813 he entered the Prussian army as a volunteer and served two years in the War of Liberation. After the war he was appointed successively Government Counsellor at Breslau, Dantzic, Königsberg, and Berlin. In 1844 he retired from the public service and resided at Dantzic, Vienna, Dresden, and Berlin. He wrote Ahnung und Gegenwart (Presage and Presence) (1815); Krieg den Philistern (War on the Philistines, a dramatized fairy tale) (1824); Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts (From the Life of a Good-for-Nothing) (1826). In 1837 he published a collection of poems, and in 1842 his complete poetical works were published in four volumes at Berlin under the title Sammtliche Poetisch Werke, and five volumes of Vermischte Schriften (Miscellaneous Writings) in 1866.

Eichendorff was one of those later German Romanticists who drew their inspiration from Goethe, who, though they could not hope to equal Wilhelm Meister, enriched the German language with the wealth of their imagination and the bulk of their work after classic models. His genius was distinctly lyrical. Though he wrote a couple of tragedies and a comedy he seemed to be deficient in that constructive faculty which is such an essential element in dramatic writing. Himself a wanderer, influenced by the popular songs of the day, a favorite subject of his lyrics was the wandering minstrel of the Middle Ages. He liked to write poems from the stand-point of some particular character, such as a soldier, sailor, huntsman, fisherman, shepherd, miller, apprentice, etc., putting his songs of love and joy into their own mouths. Many of his lyrics were set to music and sung by composers of eminence. Scherer says, in his History of German Literature : “Eichendorff's Taugenichts is written in the most delightful vein; it is an improbable story, full of misunderstanding, error and strange occurrences, and the reader is most infected with the light-hearted mood of the hero, who triumphs over all obstacles, sings the most beautiful songs, never knows what is happening around him, but is always dreaming and loving." In his later years Eichendorff published several valuable works on literary history and criticism, including Ueber die Ethische und Religiose Bedeutung der Neueren Romantischen Poesie in Deutschland (1847); Der Deutsche Roman des Achtzehnten Jahrhundert in Seinem Verhältniss zum Christenthum (1851); Geschichte der Poetischen Literatur Deutschlands (1856).

“ His poems," writes Professor Goebel, of Leland Stanford University, “are of an unusual sweetness of melody, tenderness, and depth of feeling, and elegance of form.” His History of the

« ForrigeFortsett »