Supplementary Appendix: Schelling’s Pastor of Drottning

“The Last Words of the Pastor of Drottning, in Zealand.” [*]

Henrik Steffens originally provided Schelling with the material for this poem, which also interested Goethe and which he himself, Steffens, wanted to treat dramatically: [1]

I was inclined to view as my own, unique possession one particular, puzzling story I had brought along with me from my fatherland, a story that quite unsetled Goethe when he heard it and that Schelling treated in terza rima, and I tried for a long time to turn it into a dramatic play.

As is well known, according to this story a pastor living in a desolate, barren landscape is forced one night to wed a couple in a church jutting out of the dunes, the only edifice left of a former village on the spot. A strange people, speaking an unknown language, has landed on the desolate coast and filled the entire church; the pastor must perform the ceremony against his will. He is forced out of his home and brought to the church, the strange people embark, but one then finds the bride murdered in the church.

The story’s insoluble puzzle was to be intimated rather than resolved. I did, however, want the pastor to portray a heaven of clear religious disposition, and the bridegroom an abyss of titanic, hellish aberration. But the overall plan never really became clear to me. Although most of the fragments of this play have disappeared from among my papers, the project occupied me so long and so enduringly that it really did constitute a considerable part of my life at the time.

What I find especially noteworthy in this fragment is the personality of the tragic hero. It is the same personality that occupied me thirty years later when I worked out Malkom. [2] I can assure you that while writing Malkom, I was not thinking of this fragment; no genuinely conscious recollection extended from that earlier work into the later period.

Hence how astonished was I when after almost forty years I now read through these fragments again and recognized the theme of the new novella. Indeed, I even found that individual details resurfaced. Hence quite without my having even been aware of it, the image of a striking personality had accompanied me through all those years.

Allow me to reproduce this one brief fragment, the prayer the pastor speaks, kneeling, precisely when the two strange men enter and force him with threats to accompany them to the distant church:

'Tis a night beautiful and quiet.
Yearning melancholy alone keeps watch.
All is calm around me.
Silent now the whirrings and buzzings of the air.
Wonderfully bright does the moon cast
Its radiant glow on the waves.
Quietly blinking the cordial stars
As if beckoning us up yon to their climes.
Would I could hasten to you even now,
But, alas, here below must I linger yet,
Gazing up, somberly, quietly, at God
Through the husk of earthly heaviness,
Still pulled downward, unwillingly,
By the comely arc of heaven.

Hear, oh Christ, you who alone are true,
What my deep yearning does speak,
Weigh all the gloomy years
And my duty faithfully fulfilled,
Behold my gray hair,
The wrinkles in my face.
My eyes alone are yet clear
From the light of heaven above.
Lay the body on the bier,
I fear not that hour,
When the spirit does to heaven fly,
When this earthly husk does break,
And your radiance reveal itself,
Graciously, through judgment.

In his edition of Schelling’s letters, Gustav Plitt remarks: [3]

Schelling’s literary estate includes a small sheet of paper, written by a non-German, containing the story that Steffens had brought along and that underlies Schelling’s poem “Die letzten Worte des Pfarrers zu Drottning auf Seeland”; the text of that page follows.

On 16 January 1800, Friedrich Schlegel wrote in this regard to Schleiermacher: [4] “Schelling, who absolutely does not want to be named, has delivered an extremely beautiful poem in terza rima, dealing with what is literally a true story.” Schelling’s literary estate also includes an English translation of the poem.

There was once a village in Zealand, on the coast of Denmark. This village had a church, which stood, however, a half mile from it, quite isolated and solitary in a field, whose pastor lived in the village. One Saturday evening, at midnight, when the pastor was still awake, studying his sermon for the next morning, two strangers come into his house and tell him, while showing him a large number of ducats and a loaded pistol, that he is immediately to go to the church with them and wed a certain couple, in which case he will receive the ducats; should he refuse, however, they will shoot him on the spot.

The pastor does not consider long before agreeing to accompany them, and so the two strangers lead him to the church. On arrival, however, he finds the entire church illuminated and filled with people, all of whom, however, speak a foreign language. On one side of the church, a fresh grave has been dug. They lead him to the altar, where a handsome, richly dressed young gentleman and a beautiful young girl — who, however, looks rather pale and disturbed — are waiting for him to marry them.

He does so, then is given the money and told to leave. He acts as if he is going, but instead hides in a dark passageway he knows about and awaits the outcome. At first everything is quiet, then after a while he suddenly hears loud murmuring and a pistol shot, whereupon everything becomes quiet again, the lights are extinguished, and everyone goes out.

Since it was night, he can see nothing, so he decides to return home and to come back the following morning to see whether he can find any trace of what has happened. He does indeed return the next morning, finds the church empty, everything in its proper place, and the freshly dug grave filled in; he opens it and there finds dead the young girl for whom he had performed the wedding ceremony the night before. [5]


Interestingly, Schelling’s piece was reprinted in 1837 in a German reader for students of the German language in Great Britain, and an English translation appeared in 1845: [6]



“The event described in this poem is recorded in the church-book of Drottning, from which it was copied and first communicated to the German public by Profesor Steffens.” — M. Klauer-Klattowski, Ballads and Romances. London: 1837.

My life wastes, and my heart, except for sighs,
	Hath grown as toneless as a broken lute.
The pleading Image looks into mine eyes,
	And mutely bids me rest no longer mute.
O Heaven! O Earth! ye witnessed that dread Night
	Which left my prostrate soul so destitute!
Ye everburning orbs on high, whose light
	Rays through the living universe, ye saw,
And, had ye voice, would have divulged the sight!
	Shall I bide silent when the all-holy law
Of God's own Truth coërces me to speak?
	Shall a compulsory vow thus overawe
My spirit, made by Terror infant-weak?
	I sinned — but must I perish in my sin?
No! — there is mercy even for me to seek
	Before Heaven's throne — to seek, perchance to win.
To these pale tablets I at length confide
	The record I here tremblingly begin.

'Twas on a Sabbath even, at Christmas-tide.
	I watched within my dwelling, through whose drear
Cold rooms the melancholy nightwind sighed
	In fitful tones, that fell upon mine ear
Almost like wailings of a soul in sorrow.
	God's Holy Book lay on my table, near
My few notes of a homily for the morrow.
	When lo! the door swang wide, and by the dim
Lamp's gleam I saw, with feelings I can borrow
	No speech to paint, a Man of giant limb
And frame, and features dark as middle night,
	Approach me! Momently there followed him
A second form, a Woman, tall and slight,
	In black habiliments, and closely veiled. [7]
Where stayed ye then, ye Messengers of Light,
	Ye who sustain the good man when, assailed
by Satan's hosts, he stands bound hands and feet?
	Alas! ye left me, and my spirit failed!
No corpse lay ever in its winding-sheet
	More powerless than in that dark hour was I!
The fate that yet remained for me to meet
	I felt I neither could forecast nor fly.
Anon the Man addressed me in a voice
	Of thrilling depth — "Priest! we would gladly buy
Thy services for one brief hour: the choice
	To bless us or condemn us rests with thee!
Come with us! We will make thy heart rejoice
	At the rich wedding banquet — and thy fee
Shall be a thousand ancient crowns in gold!"
	A league from hence, beside the weltering sea,
Widowed and lone, the remnant of an old
	Forsaken and forgotten chapel stands.
A desolate pile and mournful to behold!
	Half buried under weeds and drifted sands
Its ruinous walls extend along the shore.
	A fearful storm which ravaged many lands
O'erwhelmed it, as traditions tell, of yore,
	Upon a sacred Sabbath-festival.
To this drear spot, which oftentimes before
	I had been wont to seek at evening-fall
To pour my spirit freelier forth in prayer,
	My guides proposed to lead me. Midnight's pall
Wrapped now the universal earth and air,
	And only a few stars shone pale in heaven.
My heart was filled with ghastliest despair!
	What could I do, thus nerveless and bereaven?
My spellbound senses seemed no more mine own.
	I moved as in a dream some demon-driven
Wretch wanders darklingly through wastes unknown!
	Ere yet I had guessed it we were on our march.
Howbeit, my sould at length resumed its tone
	Of trust in God. Meanwhile, the welkin's arch
Grew brighter, and the moon's blue beams played far
	Along the landscape's groves of pine and larch.
We sped as in some wingèd viewless car,
	So ghostlike was our marvellous slight along,
And rapid, as the transit of a star.
	The Shapes conversed, but in a mystic tongue,
I knew not what they spake, nor sought to know.
	One firm resolve — to perpetrate no wrong —
As Consciousness and Will returned by slow
	Degrees, alone possessed my harassed soul.
The sullen booming of the sea-waves' flow
	Now rose upon the many-pinioned wind.
The wan moon shrank again behind a cloud,
	And left in gloom the giant cliffs that lined
The stormy coast. I prayed, though not aloud,
	To God, as we drew nigh the temple-porch —
When, what a wonder met my sight! A crowd
	Of human figures, each with lamp or torch,
Who flitted out and in, and fro and to!
	Was this indeed the old deserted church?


But leisure had I little to pursue
	Inquiries, for my guides already stood
Before the ruined altar; and I knew
	That I was called to wed them. Yet, my mood
Was rather one of recklessness than dread;


And, turning to the Pair, with hardihood
Beyond my natural temperament, I said —
	"If ye be denizens of a holier sphere,
Whose faith in Christ has raised ye from the dead,
	Why come ye unto me? What seek ye here
Which was not yours amid the realms of bliss?
	But if ye be — and such ye are, I fear —
Unblessèd spirits wandering from the Abyss,
	What mean your acts, and who or what hath given
Ye power to desecrate a place like this?"
	Scarce had I spoken ere my brain seemed riven
Asunder as by lightning's fiercest arrow!
	One terrible Word from him with whom I had striven,
Breathed in mine ear, thrilled through my bones and marrow;
	And by such light as moon and stars yet gave,
I could discern anear my feet a narrow
	Trench hollowed in the sands — an open grave!
The Bride now raised her veil with mournful smile,
	And looked at me as one with power to save —
Her face was beautiful, but sad the while.
	Meantime, again the same unearthly throng
I had already noted filled the aisle,
	And lights of many colours flamed along
The walls and roof. Then all at once began
	That multitude a solemn choral song —
An anthem to the Lord as God and Man —
	Wherewith in undulating strains was blended
Rich music, such as fabulous Peristán
	Might fail to parallel. As this ascended
Visions of rapturous glory seemed to beam
	On my tranced soul; and when the hymn had ended
Methought I awoke from some celestial dream,
	And Darkness held me again in tenfold thrall!
The phantom choristers appeared to stream
	Now towards the chancel rails: their forms were tall,
Their features firebright, their costumes antique.
	I must, then, yield, whatever might befall!
Bewildered more than human tongue may speak,
	I joined the cold hands of the Pair in one,
And then went through the ceremony — in Greek —
	For so the Bridegroom willed it. It was done,
But oh! what anguish felt I, what remorse!
	How was it that the Evil Powers had won
This victory o'er me? Could I not by force
	Of prayer have been preserved from thus profaning
The sanctuary? Now was I as a corse,
	With nothing of the spirit's life remaining —
No soul, no vital energy! But vain
	Were henceforth all repentance and complaining.
As yet I guessed not what retributive pain
	Still waited on my fault — the worst was now
To come: a heavier yoke, a darker chain,
	Was now permitted by the Lord to bow
Me earthwards — yea, and gravewards! At the gate
	That Dark Unknown imposed on me a vow,
Too horrible to recapitulate,
	Of lifelong secresy on what I had seen.
Perhaps to-night I am doubly reprobate
	In violating this. But no! — between
Two evils lies my election — and I chuse.
	Enough! The stars yet glimmered, and the keen
Winds, laden with unhealthful damps and dews,
	Blew chillily athwart the wintry wild,
And ever moaned among the pines and yews
	That grew amid the gaunt rocks darkly piled
Along the seacoast. One thought only lent
	Me consolation — I had not defiled
My hands with lucre, though the feeling rent
	And rankled as a javelin at my heart,
That I had been the unwitting instrument
	Of — could or can I doubt it? — Satan's art!
The night wore darker, but my road was one
	Whereon I scarcely needed lamp or chart.
I walked with rapid steps, and might have gone
	Some furlongs, when a deep reverberant sound,
Most like a cannon's peal, but in its tone
	Far hollower, startled me. I turned around,
And gazed and listened towards the spot I had left.
	The echoes hereabouts are known to abound,
But all was gloom and stillness. Half bereft
	Of sense I reached my home and couch. The bright
And dusky threads inwoven through the weft
	Of my mysterious destiny that night
Were mingled in the texture of my dreams;
	And ere the morning's first faint blush of light
I arose. The ruddy northern meteor gleams
	Were shooting down the sky o'er field and fell;
And, moved — as then it seemed to me, and seems
	Even yet — by impulse irresistible,
I trod anew the pathway to the shore.
	With what emotions did my bosom swell
As I again drew near the chapel-door!
	The golden dawn shone far along the strand.
I seemed, by miracle, to breathe once more
	The air of happiness! Was it but the bland
Excitement springing from the hour and spot
	That sacred morn? I could not understand —
But all my last night's agonies were forgot,
	Or but remembered as a dream! I slowly
Moved up the aisle. . . . O Heaven! that I could blot
	That moment from my existence! Oh, ye Holy
And Everliving Powers! the sudden sight
	That there transfixed my gaze, and gave me wholly
To wretchedness afresh! The morning-light
	Fell full upon — the grave — and in that grave
Lay her cold corpse whom on the previous night
	I had wedded to — Perdition!

Do I rave? Is this illusion? — madness? Would it were! Even madness were a blessing could it save Me from self-torment, conscience, and despair! Oh! blest are they who from their youth have known But summer years! — or those, assailed by care, Who cast their burden upon God alone, And make their sufferings glorify His Name! Yet will I hope, albeit my peace be flown, For Heaven and Grace are evermore the same Howe'er men change. And now, before I die, I leave this chronicle of my sin and shame Behind me. If it ever meet the eye Of others, let them breathe a prayer for me! My sands are nearly spent — mine hour is nigh. Lord! give my weary spirit rest in Thee! [8]


[*] “Die letzten Worte des Pfarrers zu Drottning auf Seeland” (differently in the table of contents: “in Seeland [Eine wahre Geschichte]; and even later as “des Pfarrers Drottning auf Seeland” cited in Bertha Pelican, Annette Freiin von Droste-Hülshoff: Ein Bild ihres Lebens und Dichtens [Freiburg im Breisgau 1906], 84),” Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1802 (1801), 118–28 (Sämmtliche Werke 10:431–37), under the name Bonaventura, a name coined presumably by Wilhelm Schlegel after Schelling offered a different version in a letter to Wilhelm on 30 April 1801 (letter 309a):

You ask for at least a fictitious name. – Call me Venturus, for that I am indeed, and would prefer to conceal my own name behind this modest cipher rather than reveal it outright in so immodest a fashion among names as impressive as those that will be adorning this collection.

Wilhelm accordingly wrote to Ludwig Tieck on 28 April 1801 (Lohner 65): “Schelling has chosen the cipher ‘Venturus’ for his contributions, but has nothing else yet to contribute.” This choice seems to have prompted the later assumption that Schelling (as Bonaventura) was also the author of the “Nachtwachen von Bonaventura,” Journal von neuen deutschen Original Romanen (1805), whose author was instead Ernst August Klingemann.

“Die letzten Worte des Pfarrers zu Drottning, auf Seeland” was originally intended for but ultimately not included in the second (and final overall) issue of Athenaeum (1800); see Schelling to Wilhelm Schlegel on 6 July 1800 (letter 265):

Caroline tells me you were asking for the “Pastor.” I regret that it is probably too late, otherwise I would immediately enclose it. I will now probably send it along to Schiller.

Schiller, however, would not continue his Musen-Almanach, and Schelling had indeed waited too late to have the piece included in the final issue Athenaeum, which would appear in August 1800. Once Wilhelm was in Bamberg, however (probably around 24 July 1800), he convinced Schelling to publish it instead in his and Ludwig Tieck’s anticipated anthology, which appeared in the autumn of 1801 as their Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1802. Wilhelm writes to Schleiermacher on 16 June 1800 (Aus Schleiermacher’s Leben 3:186):

At first, our intention was to conclude Athenaeum with a rather nice poetic concert, in which case I myself would have composed a grand elegy about which I have long been thinking. Although we also have a very nice horror story in terza rima by a friend, both it and the execution of several other poetic plans will be reserved for a poetic anthology [the Musen-Almanach], which will now likely not be published this year.

Wilhelm then writes to Tieck from Bamberg on 14 September 1800 (Briefe an Ludwig Tieck 3:235):

I for my part am earmarking everything I write from now on for the anthology, and currently have several ideas and plans. — I have composed but one song and one sonnet on the object of my grief; I simply have not yet had the peace of mind or the leisure for more, but I plan on producing a whole series of such. . . .

Schelling will doubtless contribute several pieces, including first of all “Die letzten Worte des Pfarrers zu Drottning auf Seeland” and then presumably several Lieder. He would probably compose more poetry if he were not losing so much time now because of sickliness and grief. Back.

[1] Was ich erlebte 4:402–5. Steffens did in any case treat the material in a novella with the title “Die Trauung” (“the marriage ceremony”), Novellen von Henrich Steffens, Gesammt-Ausgabe, vol. 1 (Breslau 1837), 289–303, adding that the events took place in the village of Rörwig in the “district on Olsherred” on the island of Zealand.

See also the additional information in Eduard Arens’s review of Bertha Pelican, Annette Freiin von Droste-Hülshoff: Ein Bild ihres Lebens und Dichtens (Freiburg im Breisgau 1906), in the Literarischer Handweiser zunächst für all Katholiken deutscher Zunge 45 (1907) no. 13, 497–500, here 500:

The reprint appended to the collected novellas of Heinrich Steffens (vol. 1 [Breslau 1837]; this appendix is apparently not included in every copy) mentions the “pastor of Mittelfahrt on Seeland,” whereas Steffens himself mentions the peninsula Olsherred and the village Rorwig as the legend’s setting in his own adaptation “Die Trauung: eine Sage des Nordens.”

This legend in its own turn is still very much alive in various coastal locales along the North and Baltic Seas, and the material Steffens introduced to our literature exhibits a rich history indeed. Detlev von Liliencron [1804–1909] adapted it in a ballade, and the Dane Wilhelm Bergsöe in a narrative, “Die Braut von Rörvig” (“the bride of Rörvig”). Back.

[2] Malkom: Eine norwegische Novelle, 2 vols. (Breslau 1831). Back.

[3] Plitt 1:293. Back.

[4] Aus Schleiermacher’s Leben 3:148; KFSA 25:47. Back.

[5] Rørvig (Rörwig), the village in which the event allegedly takes place, is located on the north coast of Zealand, the latter here circled on the map of Denmark from Map of the Empire of Germany including all the states comprehended under that name with the Kingdom of Prussia, &c. (London 1782):


Here the more specific location of Rørvig (Johannes Janssonius, Selandiae In Regno Daniae Insulae Chorographica Descriptio Johannes Janssonius [1600–99]):


Below the church at Rørvig (1) on an early postcard and (2) on a 1908 postcard, photograph by Poul Helms, Nyk.Sj.-SOC.:



Photographs in the running text: (1) exterior: on a photogravure from 1930; (2) interior with altar: from ca. 1918 by unknown photographer.

Built in 1200–1250 CE and originally located at the center of the tiny village, sandstorms in 1527 prompted the relocation of the village itself further inland, while the church remained in its original location on a promontory. Cemetery markers date to the 1700s. Church lore still cites the allegedly Pomeranian legend of the “The Bride of Rørvig,” a legend eerily attested by a women’s skull with a bullet hole from a pistol found during work on the heating system. The pastor of the church at the time the legend may have taken place (1722–54) was Jacoc Johansen Hyphoff.

Concerning the background to the legend, see H. F. Feilberg, “Kleine Mitteilungen,” Blätter für Pommersche Volkskunde: Monatsschrift für Sage und Märchen, Sitte und Brauch, Schwank und Streich, Lied, Rätsel und Sprachliches in Pommern, 5 (1896) no. 1 (1 October), 93:

30. The nocturnal nuptials. According to J. M. Thiele, Danmarks Folkesagen (1843), 1:194, the Rørvig legend goes as follows.

One evening a century ago, it allegedly happened that a great ship anchored on the sea north of Rørvig. It was thought to be a Russian warship. That same night, the pastor of Rørvig was surprised by several cloaked and disguised, armed persons who ordered him, amid grievous threats and yet with the quiet promise of grand reward, to take his book and lead them to the church that he might conduct a wedding.

After arriving at the church, he found it brightly illuminated and a great many unfamiliar persons there amid the most profound silence. The bride and groom, royally clad, were standing at the altar; they seemed to be of elevated status. The bride was a pale as death. After the pastor had officially united them in marriage and the ceremony was over, a shot suddenly rang out in the church, and the bride fell dead before the altar.

The procession departed, taking the corpse with them, and disappeared in the dark night. The next morning, the ship had disappeared, having drawn up its anchor the previous night; the explanation of this event has remained shrouded in mystery to this very day.

Thus the text. A later footnote states that the legend was related by several old sailors and that an earlier pastor allegedly found the same legend written down in an old bible. The same motif has been used in a more recent Danish literature by W. Bergsoe in the story “Bruden fra Roerwig.”

I know nothing more about the origin of this legend, nor do I remember having encountered a variant in either Swedish or Norwegian collections. Roerwig is a small fishing village in norther Zealand.

Askov bei Bejen (Denmark)
Pastor em. Dr. H. F. Feilberg

Concerning the origin of the legend, see the conclusion of B. Oulot, “Der Wechsel der Dinge. Gedanken,” Der Salon für Literatur, Kunst und Gesellschaft 1 (1881), 221–31, “Ungelöste Räthsel der Geschichte. II. Die Trauung zu Rörwig,”228–31, here 231, a version in which the bride’s corpse is buried in the dunes:

After the pastor’s death, a written account of this event was found that had been slipped into the church registry. Some people believe this event was somehow mysteriously connected with the hasty and violent change of rulers after the deaths of Peter I [the Great, who died in 1725] and Catherine [his wife, who succeeded him but died in 1727]. The deep riddle of this gruesome deed will be difficult, or even impossible, to solve.

Concerning these “hasty and violent changes,” see Encycolopaedia Brittanica, 11th ed. (1911), vol. 23, 900 (s.v. Russia):

On the death of Peter (1725) the internal tranquility and progress of the empire were again seriously threatened by the uncertainty of the order of succession, and the autocratic power which he had wielded so vigorously passed into the hands of a series of weak, indolent sovereigns who were habitually guided by personal caprice and the advice of intriguing favourites rather than by serious political considerations.

During this period, which lasted from 1725 to 1762, the male line of the Romanov dynasty became extinct, and the succession passed to various members of the female line, which intermarried with German princes. In this way German influence was enormously increased and was represented by men of considerable capacity holding the highest official positions, such as Biren, Mimnich and Ostermann.

The main events of the period may be summarized very briefly. Peter, by his first marriage, had a son, the unhappy cesarevich Alexius, who figures more largely in imaginative literature than in history — a narrow-minded, obstinate, pious youth, who had no sympathy with his father’s violent innovations, and was completely under the influence of the old Muscovite reactionary faction. Intimidated by the paternal anger and threats he took refuge in Austria, and when he had been induced by illusory promises to return to Russia he was tried for high treason by a special tribunal, and after being subjected to torture died in prison (1718).

To avert the danger of a man of this type succeeding to the throne Peter made a law by which the reigning sovereign might choose his successor according to his own judgment, and two years later he caused his second wife, Catherine, the daughter of a Lithuanian peasant, to be crowned with all due solemnity, “in recognition of the courageous services rendered by her to the Russian Empire.” This gave Catherine a certain right to the throne at her husband’s death, and her claims were supported by Peter’s most influential coadjutors, especially by Prince Menshikov, an ambitious man of humble origin who had been raised by his patron to the highest offices of state.

On the other hand the great nobles of more conservative tendencies wished to get the young son of the cesarevich Alexius made emperor under their own control. The former faction triumphed, and Catherine reigned for about a year and a half, after which the son of the cesarevich Alexius, Peter II, occupied the throne from 1727 to 1730.

At first he was under the tutelage of Menshikov, who wished him to marry his daughter, but he soon contrived, with the aid of the Dolgorukis and other old families, to get his imperious tutor arrested and exiled to Siberia. The Dolgorukis and their friends thus came into power, and on the death of Peter II in 1730 they offered the throne to Anne, duchess of Courland, a daughter of Ivan V, elder brother of Peter the Great, on condition of her signing a formal document by which the seat of government should be transferred from St Petersburg to Moscow, and the autocratic power should be limited and controlled by a grand council composed of their own faction.

Anne accepted the condition and became empress, but when she discovered that the attempt to limit her powers in favour of a small conservative oligarchy was extremely unpopular among all classes, she submitted the question to an assembly of 800 ecclesiastical and lay dignitaries, and at their request the unlimited autocratic rule was re-established. Her reign (1730–40) was a regime of methodical German despotism on the lines laid down by her uncle, Peter the Great, and as she was naturally indolent and much addicted to frivolous amusements, the administration was directed by her favourite Biren and other men of German origin.

Having no male issue, she chose as her successor the infant son of her niece, Anna Leopoldovna, duchess of Brunswick, and at her death the child was duly proclaimed emperor, under the name of Ivan VI, but in little more than a year he was dethroned by the partisans of the Princess Elizabeth, a daughter of Peter the Great and Catherine I. As a true daughter of the great Russian reformer, Elizabeth (1741–61) relegated the German element to a subordinate position in the administration and gave her confidence to genuine Russians like Bestuzhev, Vorontsov, Razumovski (her morganatic husband) and the Shuvalovs.

Her hatred of Germans showed itself likewise in her persistent struggle with Frederick the Great, which cost Russia 300,000 men and 30 millions of roubles — an enormous sum for those days — but in the choice of a successor she could not follow her natural inclinations, for among the few descendants of Michael Romanov there was no one, even in the female line, who could be called a genuine Russian.

She proclaimed, therefore, as heir-apparent the son of her deceased elder sister Anna, Charles Peter Ulrich, duke of Holstein-Gottorp, a German in character, habits and religion, and tried to Russianize him by making him adopt the Eastern Orthodox faith and live in St Petersburg during the whole of her reign; but her well-meant efforts were singularly unsuccessful.

Impervious to Russian influence, he remained true to his original nationality, and by his undisguised aversion to everything in his adopted country and his passionate, childish admiration of Frederick the Great, he made himself so unpopular that within a few months of his accession, in December 1761, he was dethroned and assassinated by the partisans of his ambitious and able consort, the famous Catherine II. Back.

[6] Wilhelm Klauer-Klattowski, Ballads and Romances, Poetical Tales, Legends and Idylls of the Germans, with a translation of all unusual words and difficult passages and with explanatory notes (London 1837), 197–204, grammatical notes on 349–50 (page 349 is misnumbered as 249). Klauer-Klattowski identifies the author as Bonaventura, i.e., the same as in the Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1802.

“The Last Words of the Pastor of Drottning, in Zealand,” translated by James Clarence Mangan as part of his “Stray Leaflets from the German Oak — Seventh Drift,” Dublin University Magazine. Literary and Political Journal 26, July–December 1845 (Dublin 1845), no. 152 (August 1845), 145–48; repr. James Clarence Mangan, Anthologia Germanica; or, A Garland from the German Poets, and Miscellaneous Poems, 2 vols. (Dublin 1884), 1:244–54.

Title in English (in Fraktur) from the Dublin University Magazine, the poem itself being printed in Roman font; title in German (in Fraktur) and illustration from Adolf Ehrhardt, Theobald von Oer, Hermann Plüddemann, Ludwig Richter, and Carl Schurig, Deutsches Balladenbuch, mit Holzschnitten nach Zeichnungen, 2nd ed. (Leipzig 1858), 191 (original German poem on 191–97).

The editors of the Dublin University Magazine identify the author as Schelling rather than Bonaventura. Indeed, as early as 1823, the reviewer F*r unequivocally identifies F. W. J. Schelling as the author of this piece in his review of F. F. Heidenreich, Handbuch der deutschen Sprache und des deutschen Schrifttums, in the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1823) 193 (October 1823), 97–104; here: 99. that is, even during Schelling’s lifetime, his identity as the author of this piece had been discovered. Back.

[7] It is at approximately this point in the poem that Schelling later felt some need of improvement; he wrote to Wilhelm Schlegel on 20 April 1801 (letter 309a):

I would very much like to solicit your helping and ameliorative hand for several passages in the “Pastor.” If you might be willing to offer a few further improvements to this poem — one for which you have from the outset shown a bit of interest — especially at the beginning, e.g., in the passage —

No speech to paint, a Man of giant limb
And frame, and features dark as middle night

[Schwarz wie die Nacht und ihre dunkeln Mächte etc.]

among others, then I will give my approval beforehand and agree to them. I myself have neither a copy nor the leisure to work on the piece yet again.

Wilhelm, however, replied on 26 May 1801 from Berlin (letter 318a):

You mention certain changes in the “Last Words of the Pastor.” I for my part can think of no passage in which such seem necessary and would be hesitant try to do anything with it myself for fear of ruining something. But if you yourself would like to incorporate different readings, I will be glad to send a copy of the poem to you. But as I said, I myself do not believe such is needed.

Wilhelm changed nothing at least in the line Schelling cites in the letter. In his own turn, Schelling would write to Wilhelm again on 3 July 1801, apparently after attempting such changes himself (Plitt 1:344; Fuhrmans 2:333):

As far as the “Pastor” is concerned, I almost fear the later corrections more than the initial mistakes; I am well aware they were not particularly effective, and since it is, after all, an irregularly composed poem, I would prefer withdrawing some at least of the corrections lest it appear to deny its own character in a sense. Back.

[8] It is worth mentioning that Wilhelm Schlegel read the poem aloud at an evening souper he and Caroline held in Braunschweig in January 1801; see Caroline’s account in her letter to Schelling in early January 1801 (letter 279):

Listen, I do not want to conceal from you that the “Pastor” was also read aloud, and not a single person escaped the tremendous effect of this rather incorrect poem. It goes without saying that the author remained anonymous; only Luise suspected it might be by you and told me so afterward. Schlegel himself, who read it aloud, was once again completely captivated by it, and I began to tremble, a situation prompted in no small part, as is usual, by the mere notion that this was your work. Back.

Translation © 2014 Doug Stott