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ladies. This rumour reaching my ears, a thought struck me to make the story, no matter whether true or false, the subject of a ridiculous parody on Bürger's ballad of “The Women of Weinsberg;' and I must own, that after a lapse of sixteen years, I still consider it as one of the best pieces of humour I ever produced. But in proportion to its merit was its offence; and the more credit it gained, so much more did it draw upon me the heavy indignation of every female in the town.
certain Mr B-, who passed for a good poet, and valued himself not a little upon his poetical talents, took upon himself to be the ladies' champion, and did me the honour of making me the subject of another ballad, in which I was pretty severely handled : a very proper chastisement for casting reflections upon the whole sex, when perhaps not one deserved censure, or even ridicule.
The summer after my return from Jena was one of the happiest periods of my life, since, I then first enjoyed the entire confidential friendship of the admirable Musæus. I have already related, in my sketch of this worthy man's life, that we used to meet daily in his garden. We wrote together at the same table, using the same ink-glass, and even now I seem to behold the pleasant and goodnatured smile that illumined his countenance, the animation that beamed from his eyes, when he was about to commit to writing some humorous idea that had struck his fancy. He generally read over to me in the evening what he had written in the course of the day, though sometimes this entertainment was deferred to the end of the week. Was it then surprising, that as I had already endeavoured to imitate Wieland and Brandes, Goëthe and Hermes, I should now be struck with a passion for taking Musæus as my model?
About that time, Wittekind of Eisenach had formed a plan for publishing a miscellaneous work, consisting of tales, poems, &c. which was intended to be very voluminous, and to which he had given some com.; mon-place title that I have now forgotten. I was invited by him to become an assistant in this publication; but to that I would not consent, unless I had permission to give it a more attractive name. The publisher made no difficulty of complying with my terms, and I accordingly baptised the child by the name of Ganymede for the Literary World. I wrote a preface for the first volume, and contributed towards it, ‘I, a History in Fragments,' into which I endeavoured to transfuse Musæus's original turn of thought and style : how well I succeeded may easily be imagined. This was the first and last concern I had with Mr Wittekind and his work ; though, if I am not mistaken, it is still continued. By meeting with it sometimes in looking over catalogues, I am reminded of the sins of my youth.
My second production this summer was a collection of tales. These were published by Dyck at Leipsic, and were honoured with being printed in a very elegant
He has since conferred another honour upon them, wholly unexpected by me,
and not quite 50 satisfactory, in republishing them without my knowledge or consent, considerably altered and enlarged. A few weeks ago, wishing to form a complete collection of my works, I sent to Leipsic, among other things, for this insignificant production. I opened it, and began reading ; when, to my astonishment, I found there was a great deal of which I had not the slightest recollection. I could not imagine how it could happen, that I had so totally forgotten what was written by myself. I read on: but my surprise only increased; for still, what I was read. ing seemed in great measure new to me, till at length I was thoroughly convinced, that many things were introduced of which I was not the author. By degrees, memory assisted me to separate my own from foreign property; and, at the end of the retrospect I was equally convinced, that not only was I made responsible for no fewer than a hundred and fifty-three
pages, not a word of which I had written, but also, that much really of my own composition was omitted.
Let me not be supposed thus publicly to notice this circumstance, from the silly vanity of considering what I did myself as of so superior a nature, that it must necessarily be disfigured by these additions and alterations. I will readily allow, on the contrary, that from the inferiority of my own part, it could only be considered as a foil to the rest. But in what a light must I appear to the writers of the added pieces, should my book ever fall accidentally into their hands, and they should see their own children sent into the world under my name ? Must I not be justly considered as the most shameless and contemptible of all plagiarists, or rather as a literary impostor? And what besides must Weisse, the receiver of the military contributions, whom I have not the honour of knowing, even by sight, think of seeing a poem ad. dressed to him with the familiarity of an old acquaintance?
Finally, what shall we say to the publisher himself? In the year 1780, when this work was first printed, he engaged, in case of its coming to a new edition, to pay me a fixed additional sum by the sheet, for revis. ing and correcting it ; yet he has published this new and enlarged edition even without my knowledge.
The whole transaction is every way incomprehensible, and is perhaps a circumstance that never happened before to a living author. After much reflec. tion, I can find one only possible solution of it: a great part of the original edition of my tales, which certainly were not of a first-rate kind, might perhaps remain as useless lumber upon the publisher's hands, as might also be the case with some other work now consolidated with mine. But since my name has become more known, and has acquired some degree of reputation, he thought the time was arrived for indemnifying himself for this double loss; so, melting his two old shopkeepers together, has sent them out to seek their fortune, as the work of the author now the more popular. As a mercantile speculation, I must own this procedure to be ingenious, but I cannot possibly admire it as a matter of principle.
Yet, in consideration of the joyous day purchased with the money I received for the first publication of my tales, I pardon the subsequent offence. It was on my mother's birth-day, and to the last moment of my life I shall call up the recollection with transport. In a garden, decorated with garlands of flowers, part of which were formed into the initials of our names, I surprised her with a rural entertainment. In the preparations for this, the good Musæus, who was always eager to promote such innocent amusements, had busied himself extremely. A stage was formed by live hedges, upon which, a short and affecting little drama was performed by some children ; soft music played among the trees and shrubs, and in the evening the whole garden was illuminated with coloured lamps. It was the happiest day I ever experienced. Even now, the recollection brings tears into my eyes, since then, I saw tears of transport standing in those of my mother. Yes! Dyck is pardoned !
The third child I brought forth in Musæus' summerhouse, was a comedy in three acts, called “The Triple Vow. Passages and single scenes were not amiss. It was written with the intention of being played at a private theatre at Weimar, after the duchess's delivery, but unluckily, only in case of her presenting the world with a prince; and as it was her royal pleasure on this occasion perversely to produce a daughter, the performance fell to the ground, nor has the piece ever appeared in print.
Besides these productions, I wrote, about the same time, at the request of a very worthy man who honoured me with his friendship, some criticisms in a literary publication. If these bore the stamp of immature youth, at least they were free from any symptoms of the shameless critical acumen dealt out so liberally by maturer writers in the present days.
In the autumn of 1781, I went to Petersburgh.* The celebrated poet Lenz, author of the New Menoza,' was my predecessor in the office to which I was now appointed. He had excited' much dissatisfaction in his post, since, instead of attending regularly to the necessary public business, his attention was frequently diverted to a poem he was writing, for which there was no necessity at all. I resolved, therefore, to take warning from his example, and avoiding the rock upon which he had split, to forego the muses entirely; but ‘naturam si furcâ expellas. An entire half year indeed elapsed, in which, adhering firmly to my resolution, my superiors could not entertain the least suspicion that a spark of poetry illumined my breast, or that my name had ever appeared in the catalogues for Leipsic fair. This reserve, on the subject of my literary attainments, originated in observations I had myself made; by which I was convinced, that in the world at large, á being who understands nothing but how to make rhymes, is considered, and perhaps justly, as of very little account.
An accidental occurrence, however, once more irresistibly drew forth my vanity from under the charitable control of reason. The great and ex
* It does not directly appear, either from Kotzebue's own writings, or elsewhere, in what capacity he now went to the Russian capital. He certainly was for some years president of the High College of Justice in the territory of Ehstland, in the Russian province of Livonia ; but, from what follows, it should rather appear, that he did not enjoy this office till he went 10 reside at Revel: consequently, that his original appointment from the Russian government was of a different nature. Indeed, he mentions himself, in a subsequent passage, as being under the celebrated genera! Bawr, which corroborates the opinion that he had some other post before his presidency.-TRANSLATOR.