1. General Disposition; — 2. Background and Initial Reception; — 3. Later developments; — 4. Bubu — bubu — bubu — bu!; — 5. Puseltusel. — 6. The Ode. — 7. The Farewell Poem; — 8. The Kamchatkan Dog; — 9. Wilhelm’s Public Declaration of Authorship.
1. General Disposition.
This dramatic satire, known among the Romantics as Wilhelm’s “Kotzebuade,” derives from the most intimate familiarity with the plays of August von Kotzebue, and picks up on the brief exile Kotzebue suffered after being apprehended inadvertently as a spy in Russia, banished to Siberia, and rehabilitated, experiences he then recounted in Das merkwürdigste Jahr meines Lebens (Berlin 1801). Friedrich Schlegel mentions Kotzebue’s anticipated return in his letter to Wilhelm on 6 August 1800 (letter 265j): “Kotzebue is certain to return.”
Wilhelm’s piece is in part also a belated response to Kotzebue’s anti-Romantic satire, The Hyperborean Ass, which had been performed during the Leipzig book fair in the autumn of 1799. Wilhelm’s Ehrenpforte was published anonymously and without place of publication or publisher. Rudolf Haym, Die romantische Schule, 763, calls it, despite its weaknesses, “alongside Schelling’s polemical piece against the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung the most significant among the purely polemical accomplishments of the Romantics.”
The Ehrenpforte is introduced by sonnets, then proceeds to the splendid central dramatic part, “Kotzebue’s Rettung oder der tugendhafte Verbannte. Ein empfindsam-romantisches Schauspiel in zwei Aufzügen” (“Kotzebue’s rescue or: the virtuous exile. A sentimental-romantic play in two acts”). Gloria Flaherty, “Empathy and Distance: German Romantic Theories of Acting Reconsidered,” in Romantic Drama, ed. Gerald Gillespie (Philadelphia 1994), 181–208, here 197, remarks:
August Wilhelm [Schlegel] considered August Friedrich Ferdinand von Kotzebue one of the worst perpetrators of theatrical naturalism and took him to task in Ehrenpforte und Triumpbogen. Purporting to celebrate Kotzebue’s adventures in Russia, especially his triumphant return from banishment to Siberia, it presented a satirical collection of sonnets, epigrams, odes, ballads, a travelogue, and “Kotzebue’s Rescue or the Virtuous Exile: A Sentimental-Romantic Play in Two Acts.”
The play, constructed out of the same techniques Tieck employed in his prologue and upside-down world, pokes fun at the mimetic doctrine and the resultant confusion it caused about aesthetic reality and about acting.
2. Background and Initial Reception.
I know not whether I already wrote you as much, but after your departure from Jena [late June 1800] I began a burlesque, or rather a composition and collection of burslesques concerning Kotzebue’s Siberian arrest and journey. I have in the meantime put it aside, of course, because I am simply in no mood to work on anything of that sort just now. It must be published just when he returns to Germany.
But now I read in the Allgemeine Zeitung that he is still imprisoned, in Schlüsselburg. If his release is delayed too long, I might decide to publish these things in the Taschenbuch, naturally under the special rubric: Ehrenpforte und Triumphbogen für den Theater-Präsidenten von Kotzebue bei seiner gehofften Rückkehr in das Vaterland der Plattheit, which would doubtless cause a great éclat. I have already finished 6 sonnets, several epigrams in distichs, a Lied that might be set to music, and a Romanze.
To all this I will yet add more sonnets and epigrams, an epistolary travelogue in terza rima, and a quite small dramolette. — It goes without saying that nothing should be said of any of this beforehand.
Wilhelm finished work on 20 November 1800 (see also Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter from Braunschweig on 24 November 1800 [letter 275], according to which Wilhelm had just finished the piece, which would then be published in “two weeks”), writing then to Schleiermacher on 21 November 1800 (Aus Schleiermacher’s Leben 3:242):
Please forgive me, my good friend, for having missed several postal days before writing you. I was so engrossed in the Kotzebuade and in part so vexed that it was not yet finished that I postponed answering a whole pile of letters until its completion. I finished yesterday and was also immediately able to come to terms with the publisher. Vieweg is printing it, and I am hoping you yourself will have it in two weeks. Only do not mention it to anyone yet.
Vieweg published and distributed the piece in mid-December 1800. Wilhelm received his copies on 16 December and sent them to various friends, including Schleiermacher and Fichte (KGA V/4 365–66). He also sent a copy of the play — calling it “a small farce” — to Goethe on 16 December 1800 (Körner-Wieneke 111):
Here I am sending along a small farce with which I have grandly distracted myself and from which I hope that you, too, might derive some entertainment. There will be perhaps all the less objection to it if it be viewed as a ‘carnival liberty’ here at the beginning of the new century. The one copy is for Herr Schiller, though I do ask both you and him not to pass it along to anyone else until you hear that it has already taken the normal route to the public at large, nor in general to divulge that you received it from the author, for although I cannot really reckon with not being recognized as the author and have accordingly taken no great steps in that regard, to a certain extent it must nonetheless remain a sort of public secret.
Goethe’s favorite portion was the “Festgesang deutscher Schauspielerinnen” (“Celebratory song of German actresses”), rather feeble (so Erich Schmidt) satirical poems. Even Schiller found it witty. Goethe writes to Schiller from Jena on 22 December 1800 (Correspondence Between Goethe and Schiller 2:353):
The enclosed graceful composition will probably have already found its way to you; if not, keep it for a few days; it cannot be denied that it contains brilliant passages.
Schiller responds from Weimar on 24 December 1800 (ibid., 2:354):
For the novelty enclosed in your last, my best thanks. I enjoyed it very much, some of the bon mots are admirable; the work might have stood a somewhat greater wealth of substance and also of forms; as it now is, it can be too readily surveyed and exhausted; it ought to contain an infinite, unsurveyable wealth of wit and mischief. I have as yet not heard anything said about it here.
Schelling’s review in the Erlangen Litteratur-Zeitung (1801) 35 (19 February 1801) (Sämmtliche Werke 7:535–41) is, so Erich Schmidt, a bit forced and is by no means one of his better pieces either intellectually or stylistically.
Friedrich Schlegel initially thought Clemens Brentano was the author of the review, writing to Wilhelm on 27 March 1801 (letter 303a):
I have been told that author of the review of your Ehrenpforte in the Erlanger Zeitung is Brentano. Although I have not read it yet, you probably already have. Hence this note.
In the review, Schelling remarks concerning this “inspired” invention that he himself actually had no personal reason to find a satire of Kotzebue and related persons good:
We can view the whole as a phenomenon that is completely new in German literature and in many respects, especially from the perspective of art and poesy, quite significant.
That this assault by the most trite baseness [in Kotzebue’s Hyperborean Ass] against an important literary personality merited a severe rebuke is undeniable. But Kotzebue’s Der hyperboräische Esel would have long ago been forgotten had it not occasioned a poem that in its own way must doubtless be reckoned among the most significant ever published in German literature.
It was the well-known Ehrenpforte und Triumphbogen für den Theater-Präsidenten von Kotzebue. Neither previously nor afterward has there been a comparable poem of this sort. The content of the piece is indelibly inculcated on the reader precisely because the variations of the same, seemingly insignificant theme are so multifarious, and so rich, new, and surprising in every turn of phrase.
And though it may seem to have disappeared and been forgotten amid the Strudel of confused literary fermentation, and though some time may yet have to pass before it is rediscovered and appreciated in its historical objectivity, it nonetheless remains quite unforgettable even today for those who experienced the initial appearance of this poem.
Its appearance made an indescribable impression. Young people howled; but even its adversaries, even Kotzebue had one particular advantage on their side that they did indeed know how to engage. For some reason or other that now escapes me, Kotzebue had been detained during his stay in Riga and dragged off to Siberia [Kotzebue had been detained as an alleged Jacobin and exiled to Tobolsk in Siberia; he returned to Germany in 1801].
Although powerful intervention on his behalf enabled him to leave Russia for a quick return, the event in and of itself, as threatening and dangerous as it seemed to be, was nonetheless of considerable advantage to him. His misfortune occurred essentially contemporaneous with the composition of this farce. People thus tried to demonstrate that Schlegel had chosen precisely this point in time in order to destroy his opponents as ruthlessly and cruelly as possible, all the more so insofar as the Siberian imprisonment constituted the primary content of the farce itself.
Although the poem proves that the author had anticipated Kotzebue’s release, the moral sensibility evoked by his adversaries did indeed weaken the overall effect the piece would otherwise unquestionably have had. Kotzebue’s influence on the public through the theater was considerable and powerful. The rather sickly sensuous stimulation of a passing emotion that replaced genuine moral sensibility, admixed, moreover, with base and low elements, was simply all-too-pleasing to the masses of both the higher and lower classes. The world from which this assault on such a pathetic person had emerged seemed to people to constitute a sacrilege.
It took considerable courage to attack Kotzebue, and the triumphant feeling of victory expressed in the farce itself, and which engages in such facile play with this adversary Kotzebue, supported as he was by the masses, is one of the outstanding features of this piece.
3. Later developments.
Vieweg, however, Wilhelm’s publisher, essentially cheated Wilhelm out of profits from the piece by covertly and illegitimately publishing reprints; Wilhelm writes to the publishers Mohr und Zimmer from Geneva on 2 May 1810 (A. W. Schlegels Briefwechsel mit seinen Heidelberger Verlegern, ed. Erich Jenisch [Heidelberg 1922], 86):
I readily admit that I would prefer to have you publish these materials [research on the Nibelungenlied] rather than anyone else. Since the very beginning of our relationship, I have had the most complete trust in you and indeed have consistently found that trust confirmed. Nothing is more unpleasant for me than to have to watch over the assertion of my rights. Even though I know for certain that Herr Vieweg has reprinted the Ehrenpforte without my prior knowledge, I have lost not a single stroke of the pen trying to demand what is owed me.
Even quite late in life, Wilhelm himself still felt the Ehrenpforte was a “meritorious” piece of writing (Zeitschrift für Bücherfreunde 20  18):
And such indeed it was, for I was living at the time in the repressed church [i.e., metaphorically: of the Romantic school] while Kotzebue stood in the highest favor [in Berlin], being invited for afternoon readings before the family circle [of Friedrich Wilhelm III]. In the meantime, I learned that His Majesty himself was particularly amused and delighted by what were in fact the boldest jests in the piece.
He had written similarly to Schelling on 26 May 1801 (Plitt 1:36):
The Ehrenpforte has been read by the king, queen, queen mother, in a word: by the entire court amid grand laughter.
4. Bubu — bubu — bubu — bu!
The refrain after each stanza in the “celebratory song of German actresses at Kotzebue’s return” (“Festgesang deutscher Schauspielerinnen bei Kotzebue’s Rückkehr”) became popular among the children of Jena after the play’s appearance (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, “Tänzer und Tänzerinnen. Der zuschauende Großvater,” Kupfersammlung zu J[ohann] B[ernhard] Basedows Elementarwerke für die Jugend und ihre Freunde: Erste Lieferung in 53 Tafeln. Zweyte Lieferung in 47 Tafeln von L bis XCVI [Leipzig, Dessau, Berlin 1774], plate v.c):
This “celebratory song” appears after the two-act play in Ehrenpforte und Triumphbogen 85–88 (Sämmtliche Werke 2:327–29). The first three stanzas (of eight) read approximately:
Dearest, dearest Kotzebue! No rest we've had since they from us Did take you 'way, O you, you, you. Until you now to us returned, How sad we've been, alas, how spurned, For so in love with you, and true We've been, but now we welcome you, Our Kotzebue! our Kotzebue! Bubu — bubu — bubu — bu! We who, should you leave us here, Would fare quite ill without you, dear: Shakespeare, Goethe, Schiller would they Make us inhumanely play, Forcing on us iambics so severe From which only you can rescue us, our dear, Our Kotzebue! our Kotzebue! Bubu — bubu — bubu — bu! 'Tis you, the one most dear to our hearts, Who knows just what to write for our modest parts. Speeches, tears, you compose so fine Of just the sort we use at home when we whine, So much so that when on stage we declaim, We believe: "Oh, my: 'tis I!" to general acclaim. No one can do this like you, like you, Our Kotzebue! our Kotzebue! Bubu — bubu — bubu — bu!
The tune was set to music, and the piano part included at the end of the publication:
Puseltusel is the daughter of the Kamchatkan village mayor (the toyon) in the theatrical section “Kotzebue’s Rettung oder der tugendhafte Verbannte. Ein empfindsam-romantisches Schauspiel in zwei Aufzügen.” Part of this section in the Ehrenpforte draws from and parodies — often word for word — lines from Kotzebue’s play Graf Benjowsky oder die Verschwörung auf Kamtschatka. Ein Schauspiel in fünf Aufzügen (Leipzig 1795), Eng. trans.Count Benyowsky; or, the Conspiracy of kamptschatka, The German Theater, trans. Benjamin Thompson, vol. 2 (London 1811), lines with which all the members of the Romantic circle would have been familiar (illustration to original play: Taschenbuch für das Jahr 1810: Der Liebe und Freundschaft gewidmet [Frankfurt]):
Her main appearance occurs in act 2. Gloria Flaherty, “Empathy and Distance: German Romantic Theories of Acting Reconsidered,” 198, remarks concerning the excessive theatrical naturalism for which Wilhelm chides Kotzebue:
The second act begins in Siberia as Kotzebue demonstrates his virtue by resisting the advances of Puseltusel, the village leader’s libidinous daughter. Her bear dance enraptures him so much, however that he starts screaming when she gives him a box on the ear. His companion chides him, “Get hold of yourself, stand fast, it’s only Puseltusel and not an actual bear.” Thereaupon Kotzebue remarks, “Ah — it’s true! — This work of art produced quite too strong an illusion in me.”
Kotzebue is speaking with her father, the mayor (the toyon), text from Ehrenpforte und Triumphbogen 58–65; Sämmtliche Werke 2:306–12 (for a contextually similar illustration, see the “Scene in a Tartar Village” from the English translation of Kotzebue’s account of his exile, in August von Kotzebue, The Most Remarkable Year of the Life of Augustus von Kotzebue; Containing an Account of His Exile into Siberia, and of the other extraordinary Events which happened to him in Russia, trans. Benjamin Beresford, 3 vols. [London 1802], plate following 2:120):
Toyon. But in the future I intend to provide for your support. You can get a piece of bark and catfish fat here every single day.
Kotzebue. My gratitude —
Toyon. Quiet! You are not to get them for nothing. My daughter would very much like to learn German from you.
Kotzebue. Sweet labor! How enchanted will I be to hear the sounds of my fatherland echoing form her small, thick tongue!
Toyon. What she really wants is to read all the chivalric romances.
Kotzebue. Which belies her delicate disposition. Then I would also hope to imbue her with the slatkayatrava nectar of my own writings as well.
Toyon. (calls offstage) Puseltusel, are you there?
Puseltusel (enters from a back section of the yurt).
Puseltusel. Yes, father?
Toyon. Come here, girl, the German bear dancer is there.
Puseltusel. Ah, but am I smooth enough? (She reaches into a bowl of whale fat and hastily smears a handful over her hair.)
Kotzebue. What charming, innocent coquettishness!
Toyon. I must away to my dog shed. I will leave the teacher alone with the pupil and go prepare a serving of dried fish for him. (exits)
Puseltusel. Listen, my dear Kotzebotzel, people have told me that in the stories you perform, the girls always run after the men. I like that.
Kotzebue. Beautiful Puseltusel, I also arranged it thus for the pleasure of such dear children as you.
Puseltusel. I think I should like to run after you.
Kotzebue. Sacred nature! you dissemble not even the slightest!
Puseltusel. Or even better, run off with you for good.
Kotzebue. (aside) Unless I be wholly deceived, she loves me. What am I do? If it could become a means whereby my exile — But no! Please be present for me in this dangerous hour, O thou image of my Roman Octavia [Kotzebue’s Octavia. Trauerspiel in 5 Akten (Leipzig 1801)]! Protect me from yet again making common cause with base nature after finally, through such labor, having attained to the ideal.
Puseltusel.You answer not, and converse with yourself.
Kotzebue. I am wondering how it might be possible to run away with you, but find no answer.
Puseltusel. We will find a way; for now just be merry and teach me German. What is the word for one’s nose, or ears, or backside?
Kotzebue The rump.
Puseltusel. The rump — the rump — Look, how I know that now. The rump. So how do you say: “The backside moves back and forth”?
Kotzebue. The rump “wiggles.”
Puseltusel. The rump wiggles. Ah, is that ever beautiful! (Places her hand behind her with a deep breath.) The rump wiggles. Am I ever a smart pupil! I even feel what I’m learning.
Kotzebue. Ah, such heavenly naïvité, — I cannot stand it any longer! — Dearest Puseltusel, I must away to your father in the dog shed for the dried fish.
Puseltusel. No, remain here instead, he will come back and bring it to you himself.
Kotzebue. No, no, I must absolutely go. (exits)
Puseltusel (stands silently for a long time after watching him leave, then paces nervously back and forth. She then reaches for a piece of tree bark, chews on it, then throws it away. Then, reflectively, picks up unfinished leggings of reindeer skin and begins to sew on them mechanically. Then she takes a deep breath, puts her hand on her backside, and says:)
The rump jiggles! (exits)
When she returns later in the scene at a different location, Kotzebue is present with another character, Benyowsky:
Kotzebue. Oh, my lofty friend! Today I was tempted for the first time to reconcile with my fate!
Benyowsky. How so?
Kotzebue. Do you know the daughter of the toyon?
Benyowsky. Puseltusel? How could I not know? (with an exultant voice) Her hair glistens with whale oil like a fir tree with autumn frost, her skin is covered by a crust like the steppe with snow. From behind she resembles the volcano of Kalitova, and from the front the hot sulphur springs of Apatchin.
Kotzebue. Alas, I had no time to notice her physical charms. Her charming disposition completely swept me away.
Kotzebue. I am to instruct her in German, in return for which she desires to sweeten my life.
Benyowsky. Death and damnation! Do you realize I love her? that this girl is mine?
Kotzebue. Friendship creates communal property.
Benyowsky. Love demands exclusive possession.
Kotzebue. Nature mocks such demands.
Benyowsky. Honor subdues nature.
Kotzebue. Honor among exiles is a burdensome medal on the frock of a beggar.
Benyovsky. It becomes a beggar’s frock only after one tears off the medal.
Kotzebue. With the molten silver one could patch that frock.
Benyowsky. And in the process merely rip more holes in the ragged thing. — But we are merely going astray in affected metaphors. In a word, I am jealous of you.
Kotzebue. I would not think I could prompt such a thing in anyone. And should a certain cordial intimacy ever arise between me and Puseltusel, my loyalty to my Roman Octavia would . . .
Benyowsky. Silence, she comes.
Kotzebue. Let us act quite naturally; it would vex the good girl were she to suspect discord between us.
Puseltusel. Ha! you foolish Kotzebotzel! Why did you suddenly run away as if a bear were chasing you? Now I have you again, and this time you will not get away. (She clings to his frock.)
Kotzebue. What a natural talent she is, having merely heard about my plays without ever seeing one herself!
Benyovsky. So, my girl, since you are the merry one, why not perform your charming bear dance for us!
Puseltusel. I would be glad to if it would please all of you. Make way. (She dances the Kamchatkan dance with all the gestures of a bear while also growling the musical accompaniment.)
Kotzebue. Ow ow ow ow ow! the bear is smacking me with its paws. I must away, away!
Benyovsky. Come to your senses, man, stand fast, it is only Puseltusel, not an actual bear!
Kotzebue. Ah — yes — so it is! — This work of art prompted an excessive illusion indeed in me.
Puseltusel. Brrr! Brrr! Brrr! you silly fellows! Do you not even understand me? You must perform the roles of the hunters!
(Kotzebue and Benyovsky dance along as hunters. Both quickly come to blows with her, and all exit into the hut.)
The toyon enters.
Toyon. My daughter and the German bear dancer are no longer at home; perhaps they are here? — The hut is closed off. Hello! anyone there?
Benyowsky (at the window). What do you want, old man?
Toyon. Is my daughter in there?
Toyon. What is she doing?
Benyowsky. Learning German. Everything Kotzebue presents to her, I then repeat for emphasis.
Toyon. Tell her to come out at once, or I’ll teach her Kamchatkan!
Benyowsky. Yes, yes! just cool off, old man. (closes the window) . . .
(Puseltusel comes out with Benyowsky and Kotzebue.)
Puseltusel. You are not angry, are you Father? I learned a lot of German.
6. The Ode to Kotzebue
The “Ode” (to Kotzebue as the “sans-culotte” and “aristocrat”) appears immediately after the “Celebratory song of German actresses” (Ehrenpforte und Triumphbogen 89–91; Sämmtliche Werke 2:330–31).
Notes on allusions in the text: The play Doktor Bahrdt mit der eisernen Stirn, oder: Die deutsche Union gegen Zimmermann. Ein Schauspiel in vier Aufzügen, “by Freiherr von Knigge” (n.p. 1790), an attack on Johann Georg Zimmermann maliciously attributed to Adolf Franz von Knigge, temporarily damaged Kotzebue’s reputation. — Concerning Kotzebue’s wife: Therese Huber wrote to her daughter Therese on 15 January 1803 (Therese Huber Briefe 1:396; see supplementary appendix 98a.1):
OdeIn Bahrdt you tried to court the mob With filthy jokes, pasquinades, and played the snob: O shame, disgrace, not just in thought, To you, shameful sans-culotte! And then you wrote, quite branded by reproach, A book for the nobility you enhanced by mere approach. Audacious deed, indeed, is that! And shameful, too, aristocrat! You abandoned your wife, deathly ill, through inaction, And thereby serve the world by providing distraction. O shame, disgrace, not just in thought, To you, shameful sans-culotte! Then in Paris the age's striving you scorn For a state with justice and freedom to be born. Audacious deed, indeed, is that! And shameful, too, aristocrat! Any and all means you use on stage, Be your arrows dull, Knittel verses you wage: O shame, disgrace, not just in thought, To you, shameful sans-culotte! You, the blind, seek goals far and near, Dare compare yourself with Shakespeare: Audacious deed, indeed, is that! And shameful, too, aristocrat! "Vox populi, vox Dei," in these lines you read: "Applause in the gallery means I'm a master, indeed!" O shame, disgrace, not just in thought, To you, shameful sans-culotte! But find one fault in your dramatic expression, And you charge envy, arrogance, and transgression: Audacious deed, indeed, is that! And shameful, too, aristocrat! Nature herself you think to caress By presenting people quite without dress: O shame, disgrace, not just in thought, To you, shameful sans-culotte! You boast then with the scarlet of noble renown, And turn your fool's cap into a proper crown. Audacious deed, indeed, is that! And shameful, too, aristocrat!
7. The Farewell Poem
The concluding poem “Abschied” (“Farewell”) (Ehrenpforte und Triumphbogen, 104; Sämmtliche Werke 2:341).
Note on allusions: in this context, “boring asses” is essentially a gesture akin to “flipping someone off”; concerning “Bahrdt,” see above, no. 6. In the second stanza, the allusion, of course, is to Kotzebue’s Hyperborean Ass.
FarewellBahrdt, whom you sheared, They cast into your beard [Bart]. You to the devil send? What for? Too much like whitewashing a Moor. For eternally your ears are paired Long and roughly behaired; For such is your style declared. Ah, were you never born! How they tousle your beard now shorn! You wanted to bore asses, And are yourself over-bored. These are the Hyperbore-eans, Whose pleasure it is To bore holes into heads Which, just as yours is thus be-eared, Do crown themselves with laurels. Ah, were you never born! How you are now over-shorn!
8. The Kamchatkan Dog
The scene with the Kamchatkan dog occurs in act 2 of the play proper, “Kotzebue’s Rettung,” (Ehrenpforte und Triumphbogen für den Theater-Präsidenten von Kotzebue, 73–74; Sämmtliche Werke 2:318):
A Kamchatkan dog comes running up, out of breath.
Benyowsky. Behold, behold, what business can this beast have?
Toyon. Speak more respectfully! he has no doubt come as a courier [from Paul I]. One must use race horses through the territory of the Koriaks, and from our border onward it is taken care of by dogs.
Dog. Bow wow! Kotzebow! You are free! The monarch has granted a pardon! You can now return. But such jo- o- o- oy, such run- run- run- running [Germ. Lau- Lau- Lau- Laufen, intended onomatopoeically rhyming with “bow wow”], I fear I must give up – up – up – up the ghost! (Falls over dead.) [Germ. au- au- au- auf, similarly intended onomatopoeically].
Kotzebue. O joy! O delight at my liberation! But — must it be embittered by the death of my emotional liberator, who now lies deceased before me like a Spartan after just proclaiming victory? — Poor little dog! When old age has granted me peace, your image, carved into marble, will one day adorn my garden, and providence itself shall through your gaze awaken in me perpetually renewed gratitude! . . . — Now onward, to the Fatherland!
9. Wilhelm’s Public Declaration of Authorship
Wilhelm made a public “declaration” in the Intelligenzblatt of the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1801) 113 (Saturday, 13 June 1801) 912, in which, contrary to the pious wish of the Intelligenzblatt of the Neue deutsche Bibliothek 58 (1801) no. 1:278–80, that he deny authorship of the Ehrenpforte, he expressly identifies himself as the author and refers readers to August Ferdinand Bernhardi’s preliminary assessment in the journal Kronos. Ein Archiv der Zeit that these orgies of fun were in fact not a pasquinade.
Although the piece appeared anonymously, it was immediately attributed to Schlegel. In an excerpt from a letter from Nürnberg of 1 March 1801 [in the Intelligenzblatt of the Neue deutsche Bibliothek 58 (1801) 1:278–80] . . . the writer characterizes the [i.e., Schelling’s] review of the Ehrenpforte in the Erlanger Litteratur-Zeitung [(1801) 35] as “truly abominable” for having praised the Ehrenpforte and then remarks that he hoped the attribution of the Ehrenpforte to A. W. Schlegel was in fact erroneous and that Schlegel himself might publicly deny such authorship of this reprehensible pasquinade.
It was in response to this missive that Schlegel published a declaration under his own name in the Intelligenzblatt of the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung in which he not only admitted to being the initiator of the Ehrenpforte, but also asserted that he had “no reason to be ashamed of this work of art,” but was in fact quite proud of it, and that those who understood anything about poetic style could have no doubt as to the author. . . .
Intelligenzblatt of the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1801) 113 (Saturday, 13 June 1801) 912; also in the Intelligenzblatt of the Erlangen Litteratur-Zeitung (1801) 23:177; repr. Fambach 4:547:
Insofar as the Neue deutsche Bibliothek has gone to some trouble with its humane desire, on behalf of my honorable name, to contradict as unfounded the general rumor that ascribes to my authorship the flyer Ehrenpforte und Triumphbogen für den Theater-Prässidenten von Kotzebue, let me, in order to demonstrate that I have absolutely no reason to be ashamed of this work of art, and rather am quite proud to claim it as my own, herewith declare that I am indeed the author of same.
Those who understand poetic style could not have doubted as much in any case. Nor was it ever my intention to maintain strict anonymity, which in any event I always viewed merely as part of the piece’s jesting disguise. And this suffices, for I have better things to do than to enhance the understanding of those confused minds who do simply cannot understand the difference between literary satire and pasquinade, or to sharpen the conscience of those who resist understanding such in the first place and whose selfish passions get involved.
Readers who fit into neither of these categories, but whose insufficient initiation into the orgies of jest do not prevent them from taking offense here and there, let me refer to the fine explanation one of my friends [doubtless Bernhardi] has presented in the first issue of the journal Kronos. My piece, in being reproached by quite ill-conceived vexation for being a pasquinade, undeniably does not yet thereby become such.
Although I have seen this assertion concerning the Ehrenpforte published in various places, I do not recall having found even the shadow of support adduced for the assertion. Should any measure of acumen be put forth to prove this accusation, a bit of entertainment I fear I cannot really hope to see from the lesser clamorers of our literature, one can be assured that its refutation will be quickly forthcoming from one of my friends or indeed even from me myself.
(Kronos. Ein Archiv der Zeit und des Geschmacks, ed. by Friedrich Eberhard Rambach, commenced publication in 1801 in Berlin along with Eunomia, ed. Fessler, as a continuation of the Berlinisches Archiv der Zeit und ihres Geschmacks.)
Schelling wrote to Wilhelm on 3 July 1801 (letter 323a) concerning the placement of the declaration.
[*] Ehrenpforte und Triumphbogen für den Theater-Präsidenten von Kotzebue bei seiner gehofften Rückkehr in’s Vaterland (Braunschweig: Vieweg, 1801) (“Gate of honor and triumphal arch for the theater president von Kotzebue on the occasion of his desired return to the fatherland.” Later title adds: “With music. Printed at the beginning of the new century”); repr. Sämmtliche Werke 2:257–342 + 4 pages of musical score.
See also Erich Schmidt’s introduction, (1913), 2:600–01, and Josef Körner, (1930), 2:50–51. — Additional references and materials concerning this piece occur in numerous letters in this edition especially in 1801.
Translation © 2014 Doug Stott