Works of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels 1852

Heroes of the Exile

NOTE: Passages marked between [ ] square brackets were crossed out by Marx in the final draft.


"Singe, unsterbliche Seele,

der sündigen Menschen Erlösung [2]

[Sing, immortal soul
the redemption of fallen
mankind] — through Gottfried Kinkel.

Gottfried Kinkel was born some 40 years ago. The story of his life has been made available to us in an autobiography, Gottfried Kinkel. Truth without Poetry. A Biographical sketch-book. Edited by Adolph Strodtmann. (Hamburg, Hoffmann & Campe, 1850, octavo.)

Gottfried is the hero of that democratic Siegwart [3] epoch that flooded Germany with endless torrents of tearful lament and patriotic melancholy. He made his debut as a simple lyrical Siegwart.

We are indebted to Strodtmann the Apostle, whose "narrative compilation" we follow here, both for the diary-like fragments in which his pilgrimage on this earth is paraded before the reader, and for the glaring lack of discretion of the revelations they contain.

"Bonn, February — September 1834"

"Like his friend, Paul Zeller, young Gottfried studied Protestant theology and his piety and industry earned him the admiration of his celebrated teachers" (Sack, Nitzsch and Bleck, p. 5).

From the very beginning he is "obviously immersed in weighty speculations" (p. 4), he is "tormented and gloomy" as befits a budding genius. "Gottfried's gloomily flashing brown eyes" "lit upon" some youths "in brown jackets and pale-blue overcoats"; he at once sensed that these youths wished "to make up for their inner emptiness by outer show" (p. 6). He explains his moral indignation by pointing out that he had "defended Hegel and Marheinicke" when these lads had called Marheinicke a "blockhead"; later, when he himself goes to study in Berlin and is himself in the position of having to learn from Marheinicke he characterises him in his diary with the following belletristic epigram (p. 61):

"Ein Kerl ,der spekuliert,
ist wie ein Tier auf dürrer Heide
von einem loosen Geist im Kreis herumgeführt,
und ringsumher ist schöne grüne Weide."

[I tell you a chap who's intellectual
Is like a beast on a blasted heath
Driven in circles by a demon
While a fine green meadow lies round beneath.] [4]

Gottfried has clearly forgotten that other verse in which Mephistopheles makes fun of the student thirsting for knowledge:

"Verachte nur Verstand und Wissenschaff!"

[Only look down on knowledge and reason!] [5]

However, the whole moralising Student Scene serves merely as an introduction enabling the future Liberator of the World to make the following revelation (p. 6).

Listen to Gottfried:

"This race will not perish, unless a great war comes.... Only strong remedies will raise this age up from the mire!"

"A second Flood with you as a second and improved edition of Noah!" his friend replied.

The light brown overcoats have helped Gottfried to the point where he can proclaim himself the "Noah in a new Flood". His friend responds with a comment that might well have served as the motto to the whole biography.


"My father and I have often had occasion to smile at your passion for unclear ideas!"

Throughout these Confessions of a Beautiful Soul [6] we find repeated only one "dear idea", namely that Kinkel was a great man from the moment of his conception. The most trivial things that occur to all trivial people become momentous events; the petty joys and sorrows that every student of theology experiences in a more interesting form, the conflicts with bourgeois conditions to be found by the dozen in every consistory and refectory in Germany become world-shaking events from which Gottfried, overwhelmed by Weltschmerz, fashions a perpetual comedy.

[Thus we find that these confessions consistently present a double aspect — there is firstly the comedy, the amusing way in which Gottfried interprets the smallest trivia as signs of his future greatness and casts himself in relief from the outset. And then there is the rodomontade, his trick of complacently embellishing in retrospect every little occurrence in his theologico-lyrical past. Having established these two basic features we can return to the further developments in Gottfried's story.]

The family [of his "friend Paul" leaves Bonn and] returns to Württemberg. Gottfried stages this event in the following manner.

Gottfried loves Paul's sister and uses the occasion to explain that he has "already been in love twice before"! His present love, however, is no ordinary love but a "fervent and authentic act of divine worship" (p. 13). Gottfried climbs the Drachenfels together with friend Paul and against this romantic backcloth he breaks into dithyrambs:

"Farewell to friendship! — I shall find a brother in our Saviour; — Farewell to love — Faith shall be my bride; — Farewell to sisterly loyalty — I am come to the commune of many thousands of just souls! Away then, O my youthful heart, learn to be alone with your God; struggle with him until you conquer him and force him to give you a new name, that of Holy Israel which no-one knows but he who receives it! I give you greetings, you glorious rising sun, image of my awakening soul!" (p. 17).

We see how the departure of his friend gives Gottfried the opportunity to sing an ecstatic hymn to his own soul. As if that were not enough, his friend too must join in the hymn. For while Gottfried exults ecstatically he speaks "with exalted voice and glowing countenance", he "forgets the presence of his friend", "his gaze is transfigured", "his voice inspired", etc. (p. 17) — in short we have the vision of the Prophet Elijah as it appears in the Bible complete in every detail.

"Smiling sorrowfully Paul looked at him with his loyal gaze and said: 'You have a mightier heart in your bosom than I and will surely outdistance me — but let me be your friend — even when I am far away.' Joyfully Gottfried clasped the proferred hand and renewed the ancient covenant" (p. 18).

Gottfried has got what he wants from this Transfiguration on the Mount. Friend Paul who has just been laughing at "Gottfried's passion for unclear ideas" humbles himself before the name of "holy Israel" and acknowledges Gottfried's superiority and future greatness. Gottfried is as pleased as Punch and graciously condescends to renew the ancient covenant.

The scene changes. It is the birthday of Kinkel's mother, the wife of Pastor Kinkel of Upper Cassel. The family festival is used to proclaim that "his mother, like the mother of our Lord, was called Mary" (p. 20) — certain proof that Gottfried, too, was destined to be a saviour and redeemer. Thus within the space of twenty pages our student of theology has been led by the most insignificant events to cast himself as Noah, as the holy Israel, as Elijah, and, lastly, as Christ.


Inevitably, Gottfried, who when it comes to the point has experienced nothing, constantly dwells on his inner feelings. The Pietism that has stuck to this parson's son and would-be scholar of divinity is well adapted both to his innate emotional instability and his coquettish, preoccupation with his own person. We learn that his mother and sister were both strict Pietists and that Gottfried was powerfully conscious of his own sinfulness. The conflict of this pious sense of sin with the "carefree and sociable joie de vivre" of the ordinary student appears in Gottfried, as befits his world-historical mission, in terms of' a struggle between religion and poetry. The pint of beer that the parson's son from Upper Cassel downs with the other students becomes the fateful chalice in which Faust's twin spirits are locked in battle. In the description of his pietistic family life we see his "Mother Mary" combat as sinful "Gottfried's penchant for the theatre" (p. 28), a momentous conflict designed to prefigure the poet of the future but which in fact merely highlights Gottfried's love of the theatrical. The harpy-like puritanism of his sister Johanna is revealed by an incident in which she boxed the ears of a five-year-old girl for inattention in church — sordid family gossip whose inclusion would be incomprehensible were it not for the revelation at the end of the book that this same sister Johanna put up the strongest opposition to Gottfried's marriage to Mme. Mockel.

One event held to be worthy of mention is that in Seelscheid Gottfried preached "a wonderful sermon about the wilting wheat".


The Zelter family and "beloved Elise" finally take their departure. We learn that Gottfried "squeezed the girl's hand passionately" and murmured the greeting, "Elise, farewell! I must say no more". This interesting story is followed by the first of Siegwart's laments.

"Destroyed!" "Without a sound." "Most agonising torment!" "Burning brow." "Deepest sighs," "His mind was lacerated by the wildest pains", etc. (p. 37).

It turns the whole Elijah-like scene into the purest comedy, performed for the benefit of his "friend Paul" and himself. Paul again makes his appearance in order to whisper into the ear of Siegwart who is sitting there alone and wretched: "This kiss is for my Gottfried" (p. 38).

And Gottfried at once cheers up.

"My plan to see my sweet love again, honourably and not without a name, is firmer than ever" (p. 38).

Even amid the pangs of love he does not fail to comment on the name he expects to make, or to brag of the laurels he claims in advance. Gottfried uses the intermezzo to commit his love to paper in extravagant and vainglorious terms, to make sure that the world is not deprived of even his diary-feelings. But the scene has not yet reached its climax. The faithful Paul has to point out to our barnstorming maestro that if Elise were to remain stationary while he continued to develop, she might not satisfy him later on.

"Oh no!" said Gottfried. "This heavenly budding flower whose first leaves have scarcely opened already smells so sweetly. How much greater will be her beauty when... the burning summer ray of manly vigour unfolds her innermost calix!" (p. 40).

Paul finds himself reduced to answering this sordid image by remarking that rational arguments mean nothing to poets.

"'And all your wisdom will not protect you from the whims of life better than our lovable folly' Gottfried replied with a smile" (p. 40).

What a moving picture: Narcissus smiling to himself! The gauche student suddenly enters as the lovable fool, Paul becomes Wagner [7] and admires the great man; and the great man "smiles", "indeed, he smiles a kind, gentle smile". The climax is saved.

Gottfried finally manages to leave Bonn. He gives this summary of his educational attainments to date.

"Unfortunately I am increasingly unable to accept Hegelianism; my highest aspiration is to be a rationalist, at the same time I am a supernaturalist and a mystic, if necessary I am even a Pietist (p. 45).

This self-analysis requires no commentary.

"Berlin, October 1834-August 1835."

Leaving his narrow family and student environment Gottfried arrives in Berlin. In comparison with Bonn, Berlin is relatively metropolitan but of this we find no trace in Gottfried any more than we find evidence of his involvement in the scientific activity of the day. Gottfried's diary entries confine themselves to the emotions he experiences together with his new compagnon d'aventure, Hugo Dünweg from Barmen, and also to the minor hardships of an indigent theologian: his money difficulties, shabby coats, employment as a reviewer, etc. His life stands in no relation to that of the public life of the city, but only to the Schlössing family in which Dünweg passes for Master Wolfram [von Eschenbach] and Gottfried for Master Gottfried von Strasbourg (p. 67). [8] Elise fades gradually from his heart and he conceives a new itch for Miss Maria Schlössing. Unfortunately he learns of Elise's engagement to someone else and he sums up his Berlin feelings and aspirations as a "dark longing for a woman he could [call] wholly his own.

However, Berlin must not be abandoned without the inevitable climax:

"Before he left Berlin Weiss, the old theatre producer, took him once again into the theatre. A strange feeling came over the youth as the friendly old man led him into the great auditorium where the busts of German dramatists have been placed and with a gesture towards a few empty niches said meaningfully:

'There are still some vacant places!'"

Yes, indeed, there is still a place vacant awaiting our Platenite [9] Gottfried who solemnly allows an old clown to flatter him with the exquisite pleasure of "future immortality".

"Bonn, Autumn 1835 — Autumn 1837"

"Constantly balancing between art, life and science, unable to reach a decision, active in all three without firm commitment, he resolved to learn, to gain and to be creative in all three as much as his indecision would permit" (p. 89).

Having thus discovered himself to be an irresolute dilettante Gottfried returns to Bonn. Of course, the feeling that he is a dilettante does not deter him from taking his Licentiate examination and from becoming a Privatdozent at the university of Bonn.

"Neither Chamisso nor Knapp [10] had published the poems he had sent them in their magazines and this upset him greatly" (p. 99).

This is the public debut of the great man who in private circles lives on intellectual tick on the promise of his future eminence. From this time on he definitely becomes a hero of dubious local significance in belletristic student circles until the moment when a glancing shot in Baden suddenly turns him into the hero of the German Philistines.

"But more and more there arose in Kinkel's breast the yearning for a firm, true love, a yearning that no devotion to work could dispel" (p. 103).

The first victim of this yearning is a certain Minna. Gottfried dallies with Minna and sometimes for the sake of variety he acts the compassionate Mahadeva [11] who allows the maiden to worship him while he meditates on the state of her health.

"Kinkel could have loved her had he been able to deceive himself about her condition; but his love would have killed the wilting rose even more quickly. Minna was the first girl that could understand him; but she was a second Hecuba and would have borne him torches and not children, and through them the passion of the parents would have burnt down their own house as Priam's passion burned Troy. Yet he could not abandon her, his heart bled for her, he was indeed wretched not through love, but through pity."

The godlike hero whose love can kill, like the sight of Jupiter, is nothing but an ordinary self-regarding young puppy who in the course of his marriage studies tries out the role of the cad for the first time. His revolting meditations on her health and its possible effects on children become the occasion for the base decision to prolong the relationship for his own pleasure and to break it off only when it provides him with the excuse for yet another melodramatic scene.

Gottfried goes on a journey to visit an uncle whose son has just died; at the midnight hour in the room where the corpse is laid out he stages a scene from a Bellini opera with his cousin, Mlle. Elise II. He becomes engaged to her, "in the presence of the dead" and on the following morning his uncle gladly accepts him as his future son-in-law.

"Now that he was lost to her forever, he often thought of Minna and of the moment when he would see her again. But he was not afraid as she could have no claims on a heart that was already bound" (p. 117).

The new engagement means nothing but the opportunity to bring about a dramatic explosion in his relationship with Minna. In this crisis we find "duty and passion" [12] confronting each other. This explosion is produced in the most philistine and rascally way because our bonhomme denies Minna's legal claims upon his heart which is already committed elsewhere. Our virtuous hero is of course not at all disturbed by the need to compound this lie to himself by reversing the order of events in the matter of his "bound heart".

Gottfried has plunged into the interesting necessity of being forced to break "a poor, great heart".

"After a pause Gottfried went on: 'At the same time, Minna, I feel I owe you an apology — I have sinned against you — the hand which I let you have yesterday with such feelings of friendship, that hand is no longer free — I am engaged!'" (p. 123).

Our melodramatic student takes good care not to mention that this engagement took place a few hours after he had given her his hand "with such feelings of friendship".

"Oh God! — Minna — can you forgive me?" (loc. cit.)

"I am a man and must be faithful to my duty — I may not love you! But I have not deceived you" (p. 124).

After re-arranging his duty after the fact it only remains to produce the unbelievable. He dramatically reverses the whole relationship so that instead of Minna forgiving him, our moral priest forgives the deceived woman. With this in mind he conceives the possibility that Minna "might hate him from afar" and he follows this supposition up with this final moral:

"'I would gladly forgive you for that and if that were the case you can be assured of my forgiveness in advance. And now farewell, my duty calls me, I must leave you!' He slowly left the harbor ... from that hour on Gottfried was unhappy" (p. 124).

The actor and self-styled lover is transformed into the hypocritical priest who extricates himself from the affair with an unctuous blessing; Siegwart's sham conflicts of love have led to the happy result that he is able in his imagination to think himself unhappy.

It finally becomes apparent that all of these arranged love stories were nothing but Gottfried's coquettish infatuation with himself. The whole affair amounts to no more than that our priest with his dreams of future immortality has produced Old Testament stories and modern lending-library phantasies after the manner of Spiess, Clauren and Cramer [13] so that he may indulge his vanity by posing as a romantic hero.

"Rummaging among his books he came across Novalis' Ofterdingen [14] the book that had so often inspired him to write poetry a year before. While still at school he and some friends had founded a society by the name of Teutonia with the aim of increasing their understanding of German history and literature. In this society he had assumed the name of Heinrich von Ofterdingen.... Now the meaning of this name became clear to him. He saw himself as that same Heinrich in the charming little town at the foot of the Wartburg and a longing for the 'Blue Flower' took hold of him with overwhelming force. Minna could not be the glorious fairy-tale bloom, nor could she be his bride, however anxiously he probed his heart. Dreaming, he read on and on, the phantastic world of magic enveloped him and he ended by hurling himself weeping into a chair, thinking of the 'Blue Flower'."

Gottfried here unveils the whole romantic lie which he had woven around himself; the carnival gift of disguising oneself as other people is his authentic "inner being". Earlier on he had called himself Gottfried von Strasbourg; now he appears as Heinrich von Ofterdingen [14] and he is searching not for the "Blue Flower" but for a woman who will acknowledge his claims to be Heinrich von Ofterdingen. And in the end he really did find the "Blue Flower", a little faded and yellow, in a woman who played the much longed-for comedy in his interest and in her own.

The sham Romanticism, the travesty and the caricature of ancient stories and romances which Gottfried re-lives to make up for the lack of any inner substance of his own, the whole emotional swindle of his vacuous encounters with Mary, Minna and Elise I & II have brought him to the point where he thinks that his experiences are on a par with those of Goethe. Just as Goethe had suddenly rushed off to Italy, there to write his Roman Elegies after undergoing the storms of love, so too Gottfried thinks that his day-dreams of love qualify him for a trip to Rome. Goethe must have had a premonition of Gottfried:

Hat doch der Walfisch seine Laus,
Kann ich auch meine haben.

[And if the whale has his lice
I can have them too] [15]

"Italy, October 1837 — March 1838"

The trip to Rome opens in Gottfried's diary with a lengthy account of the journey from Bonn to Coblenz. This new epoch begins as the previous one had concluded, namely with a narrative richly embellished by allusions to the experiences of others. While on the steamer Gottfried recalls the "splendid passage in Hoffmann" where he "made Master Johannes Wacht produce a highly artistic work immediately after enduring the most overwhelming grief". As a confirmation of the "splendid passage" Gottfried follows up his "overwhelming grief" about Minna by "meditating" about a "tragedy he had long since intended to write" (p. 140).

During Kinkel's journey from Coblenz to Rome the following events take place:

"The friendly letters he frequently receives from his fiancee and which he answers for the most part on the spot, dispel his gloomy thoughts" (p. 144).

"His love for the beautiful Elise II struck root deeply in the youth's yearning bosom" (p. 146).

In Rome we find:

"On his arrival in Rome Kinkel had found a letter from his fiancee awaiting him which further intensified his love for her and caused the image of Minna to fade even more into the background. His heart assured him that Elise could make him happy and he gave himself up to this feeling with the purest passion.... Only now did he realize what love is" (p. 151).

We see that Minna whom he only loved out of pity has re-entered the emotional scene. In his relationship with Elise his dream is that she will make him happy, not he her. And yet in his "Blue Flower" fantasy he had already said that the fairy-tale blossom which had given him such a poetic itch could be neither Elise nor Minna. His newly aroused feelings for these two girls now serve as part of the mis-en-scène for a new conflict.

"Kinkel's poetry seemed to be slumbering in Italy" (p. 151).


"Because he lacked form" (p. 152).

We learn later that a six-month stay in Italy enabled him to bring the "form" back to Germany well wrapped up. As Goethe had written his Elegies in Rome so Kinkel too meditated on an elegy called "The Awakening of Rome" (p. 153).

Kinkel's maid brings him a letter from his fiancee. He opens it joyfully —

"and sank back on his bed with a cry. Elise announced that a wealthy man, a Dr. D. with an extensive practice and even a riding horse had asked for her hand in marriage. As it would probably be a long time before he, Kinkel, an indigent theologian, would have a permanent position she asked him to release her from the bonds that tied her to him".

A scene taken over lock, stock and barrel from [Kotzebue's] Misanthropy and Remorse. [16]

Gottfried "annihilated", "foul putrefaction", "dry eyed", "thirst for revenge", "dagger", "the bosom of his rival", "heart-blood of his enemy", "cold as ice", "maddening pain", etc. (p. 156 and 157).

The element in these "Sorrows and Joys of a poor Theologian" that gives most pain to our unhappy student is the thought that she had "spurned him for the sake of the uncertain possession of earthly goods" (p. 157). Having been moved by the relevant theatrical feelings he finally rises to the following consolation:

"She was unworthy of you — and you still possess the pinions of genius that will bear you aloft high above this dark misery! And when one day your fame encircles the globe the false woman will find a judge in her own heart! — Who knows, perhaps one day in the years to come her children will seek me out to implore my aid and I would not wish to miss that" (p. 157).

Having, inevitably, enjoyed in advance the exquisite pleasure of "his future fame encircling the globe" he reveals himself to be a common philistinic cleric. He speculates that later on Elise's children will come to beg alms from the great poet — and this he would "not wish to miss". And why? Because Elise prefers a horse to the "future fame" of which he constantly dreams, because she prefers "earthly goods" to the farce he intends to perform with himself in the role of Heinrich von Ofterdingen. Old Hegel was quite right when he pointed out that a noble consciousness always transposes into a base one. [17]

"Bonn. Summer 1838 — Summer 1843"

(Intrigue and Love)

Having furnished a caricature of Goethe in Italy, Gottfried now resolves on his return to produce Schiller's Intrigue and Love. [18] Though his heart is rent with Weltschmerz Gottfried feels "better than ever" physically (p. 167). His intention is "to establish literary fame for himself through his works" (p. 169), which does not prevent him from acquiring a cheaper fame without works later on when his "works" failed to do what was expected of them.

The "dark longing" which Gottfried always experiences when he pursues a woman finds expression in a remarkably rapid succession of engagements and promises of marriage. The promise of marriage is the classical method by which the strong man and the superior mind "of the future" seeks to conquer his beloved and bind her to him in reality. As soon as the poet catches sight of a little blue flower that might assist him in his efforts to become Heinrich von Ofterdingen, the gentle mists of emotion assume the firm shape of the student's dream of perfecting the ideal affinity by the addition of the bond of "duty". No sooner are the first greetings over than offers of marriage fly in all directions à tort et à travers towards every Daisy and Water Lily in sight. This bourgeois hunt puts in an even more revolting light the unprincipled tail-wagging coquetry with which Gottfried constantly opens his heart to reveal all "the torments of the great poet".

Thus after his return from Italy Gottfried naturally has to "promise" marriage yet again. The object of his passion on this occasion was directly chosen by his sister, the pietistic Johanna whose fanaticism has already been immortalised by the exclamations in Gottfried's diary.

"Bögehold had just recently announced his engagement to Miss Kinkel and Johanna who was more importunate than ever in her meddling in her brother's affairs of the heart now conceived the wish, for a number of reasons concerning the family, that Gottfried should reciprocate and marry Miss Sophie Bögehold, her fiance's sister" (p. 172). It goes without saying that "Kinkel could not but feel drawn to a gentle girl.... And she was indeed a dear, innocent maiden" (p. 173). "In the most tender fashion" — it goes without saying — "Kinkel asked for her hand which was joyfully promised him by her parents as soon as" — it goes without saying — "he had established himself in a job and was in a position to lead his bride to the home of — it goes without saying — a professor or a parson."

On this occasion our passionate student set down in elegant verses an account of that tendency towards marriage that forms such a constant ingredient of his adventures.

"Nach anders nichts trag' ich Verlangen
Als nur nach einer weissen Hand!"

[Nought else can stir my passion
So much as a white hand]

Everything else, eyes, lips, locks is dismissed as a mere "trifle".

"Das alles reizt nicht sein Verlangen
Allein die kleine weisse Handl" (p. 174)

[All these fail to stir his passion
Nought does so but her small, white hand!]

He describes the flirtation that he begins with Miss Sophie Bögehold at the command of "his meddling sister Johanna" and spurred on by the unquenchable longing for a hand, as "deep, firm and tranquil" (p. 175). Above all "it is the religious element that predominates in this new love" (p. 176).

In Gottfried's romances we often find the religious element alternating with the novelistic and theatrical element. Where he cannot devise dramatic effects to achieve new Siegwart situations he applies religious feelings to adorn these banal episodes with the patina of higher meaning. Siegwart becomes a pious Jung-Stilling [19] who had likewise received such miraculous strength from God that even though three women perished beneath his manly chest he was still able repeatedly to lead a new love to his home.


We come finally to the fateful catastrophe of this eventful life-history, to Stilling's meeting with Johanna Mockel, who had formerly borne the married name of Mathieux. Here Gottfried discovered a female Kinkel, his romantic alter ego. Only she was harder, smarter, less confused and thanks to her greater age she had left her youthful illusions behind her.

What Mockel had in common with Kinkel was the fact that her talents too had gone unrecognised by the world. She was repulsive and vulgar; her first marriage had been unhappy. She possessed musical talents but they were insufficient to enable her to make a name with her compositions or technical mastery. In Berlin her attempt to imitate the stale childhood antics of Bettina [von Arnim] [20] had led to a fiasco. Her character had been soured by her experiences. Even though she shared with Kinkel the affectation of inflating the ordinary events of her life so as to invest them with a "more exalted, sacred meaning", owing to her more advanced age she nevertheless felt a need for love (according to Strodtmann) that was more pressing than her need for the "poetic" drivel that accompanies it. Whereas Kinkel was feminine in this respect, Mockel was masculine. Hence nothing could be more natural than for such a person to enter with joy into Kinkel's comedy of the misunderstood tender souls and to play it to a satisfying conclusion, i.e. to acknowledge Siegwart's fitness for the role of Heinrich von Ofterdingen and to arrange for him to discover that she was the "Blue Flower".

Kinkel, having been led to his third or fourth fiancee by his sister was now introduced into a new labyrinth of love by Mockel.

Gottfried now found himself in the "social swim", i.e. in one of those little circles consisting of the professors or other worthies of German university towns. Only in the lives of Teutonic, christian students can such societies form such a turning point. Mockel sang and was applauded. At table it was arranged that Gottfried should sit next to her and here the following scene took place:

"'It must be a glorious feeling', Gottfried opined, 'to fly through the joyous world on the pinions of genius, admired by all' — 'I should say so', Mockel exclaimed. 'I hear that you have a great gift for poetry. Perhaps people will scatter incense for you also ... and I shall ask you then if you can be happy if you are not...' — 'If I am not?' Gottfried asked, as she paused" (p. 188).

The bait has been put out for our clumsy Iyrical student.

Mockel then informed him that recently she had heard

"him preaching about the yearning of Christians to return to their faith and she had thought about how resolutely the handsome preacher must have abandoned the world if he could arouse a timid longing even in her for the harmless childhood slumber with which the echo of faith now lost had once surrounded her" (p. 189).

Gottfried was "enchanted" (p. 189) by such politeness. He was tremendously pleased to discover that "Mocker was unhappy" (loc. cit.). He immediately resolved "to devote his passionate enthusiasm for the faith of salvation at the hands of Jesus Christ to bringing back this sorrowing soul too into the fold" (loc. cit.). As Mockel was a Catholic the friendship was formed on the imaginary basis of the task of recovering a soul "in the service of the Almighty", a comedy in which Mockel too was willing to participate.

"In 1840 Kinkel was appointed as an assistant in the Protestant community in Cologne where he went every Sunday to preach" (p. 193).

This biographical comment may serve as an excuse for a brief discussion of Kinkel's position as a theologian. "In 1840" the critical movement had already made devastating inroads into the content of the Christian faith; with Bruno Bauer [21] science had reached the point of open conflict with the state. It is at this juncture that Kinkel makes his debut as a preacher. But as he lacks both the energy of the orthodox and the understanding that would enable him to see theology objectively, he comes to terms with Christianity on the level of Iyrical and declamatory sentimentality à la Krummacher. That is to say, he presents a Christ who is a "friend and leader", he seeks to do away with formal aspects of Christianity that he proclaims to be "ugly", and for the content he substitutes a hollow phraseology. The device by means of which content is replaced by form and ideas by phrases has produced a host of declamatory priests in Germany whose tendencies naturally led them finally in the direction of [liberal] democracy. But whereas in theology at least a superficial knowledge is still essential here and there, in the democratic movement where an orotund but vacuous rhetoric, nullite sonore, makes intellect and an insight into realities completely superfluous, an empty phraseology came into its own. Kinkel whose theological studies had led to nothing beyond the making of sentimental extracts of Christianity in the manner of Clauren's popular novels, was in speech and in his writings the very epitome of the fake pulpit oratory that is sometimes described as "poetic prose" and which he now comically made the basis of his "poetic mission". This latter, moreover, did not consist in planting true laurels but only red rowan berries with which he beautified the highway of trivia. This same feebleness of character which attempts to overcome conflicts not by resolving their content but by clothing them in an attractive form is visible too in the way he lectures at the university. The struggle to abolish the old scholastic pedantry is sidestepped by means of a "hearty" attitude which turns the lecturer into a student and exalts the student placing him on an equal footing with the lecturer. This school then produced a whole generation of Strodtmanns, Schurzes and suchlike who were able to make use of their phraseology, their knowledge and their easily acquired "lofty mission" only in the democratic movement.


Kinkel's new love develops into the story of Gockel, Hinkel und Gackeleia. [22]

The year 1840 was a turning point in the history of Germany. On the one hand, the critical application of Hegel's philosophy to theology and politics had brought about a scientific revolution. On the other hand, the coronation of Frederick William IV saw the emergence of a bourgeois movement whose constitutional aspirations still possessed a wholly radical veneer, varying from the vague "political poetry" of the period to the new phenomenon of a daily press with revolutionary powers.

What was Gottfried doing during this period? Together with Mockel he founded the "Maybug" (Maikäfer) "a Journal for non-Philistines" (p. 209) and the Maybug Club. The aim of this paper was nothing more than "to provide a cheerful and enjoyable evening for a group of friends once a week and to give the participants the opportunity to present their works for criticism by a benevolent, artistically-minded audience" (pp. 209-10).

The actual purpose of the Maybug Club was to solve the riddle of the Blue Flower. The meetings took place in Mockel's house, where, surrounded by a group of insignificant students Mockel paraded as "Queen" (p. 210) and Kinkel as "Minister" (p. 225). Here our two misunderstood beautiful souls found it possible to make up for the "injustice the harsh world had done them" (p. 296); each could acknowledge the right of the other to the respective roles of Heinrich von Ofterdingen and the Blue Flower. Gottfried to whom the aping of other people's roles had become second nature must have felt happy to have created such a "theatre for connoisseurs" (p. 254). The farce itself acted as the prelude to practical developments:

"These evenings provided the opportunity to see Mockel also in the house of her parents" (p. 212).

Moreover, the Maybug Club copied also the Göttinger Hain [23] poets, only with the difference that the latter represented a stage in the development of German literature while the former remained on the level of an insignificant local caricature. The "merry Maybugs" Sebastian Longard, Leo Hasse, C. A. Schlönbach, etc., were, as the biographical apologia admits, pale, insipid, indolent, unimportant youths (pp. 211 and 298).

Naturally, Gottfried soon began to make "comparisons" (p. 221) between Mockel and his fiancee, but he had "had no time hitherto" — much against his usual habit — "to reflect at all about weddings and marriage" (p. 219). In a word, he stood like Buridan's ass between the two bundles of hay, unable to decide between them. With her greater maturity and very practical bent Mockel "clearly discerned the invisible bond" (p. 225); she resolved to give "chance or the will of God" (p. 229) a helping hand.

"At a time of day when Kinkel was usually prevented by his scientific labours from seeing Mockel, he one day went to visit her and as he quietly approached her room he heard the sound of a mournful song. Pausing to listen he heard this song:

"Du nahst! Und wie Morgenröte
Bebt's über die Wangen mein, usw. usw.
Viel namenlose Schmerzen:
Wehe Du fühlst es nicht!

[You draw nigh! And like the dawn
There trembles on my cheeks, etc. etc.
Many a nameless pain.
Alas, you feel them not!]

A long drawn-out, melancholy chord concluded her song and faded gradually in the breeze" (pp. 230 and 231).

Gottfried crept away unobserved, as he imagined, and having arrived home again he found the situation very interesting. He wrote a large number of despairing sonnets in which he compared Mockel to the Lorelei (p. 233). In order to escape from the Lorelei and to remain true to Miss Sophie Bögehold he tried to obtain a post as a teacher in Wiesbaden, but was rejected. This accident was compounded by a further intervention by Fate which proved to be decisive. Not only was the "sun striving to leave the sign of Virgo" (p. 236), but also Gottfried and Mockel took a trip down the Rhine in a skiff; their skiff was overturned by an approaching steam-boat and Gottfried swam ashore bearing Mockel.

"As he drew towards the shore he felt her heart close to his and was suddenly overwhelmed by the feeling that only this woman would be able to make him happy" (p. 238).

On this occasion the experience that Gottfried has undergone is from a real novel and not merely an imaginary one: it is to be found in [Goethe's] Elective Affinities. This decided the matter; he broke off his engagement to Sophie Bögehold.


First love, then the intrigue. In the name of the Presbytery Pastor Engels protested to Gottfried that the marriage of a divorced Catholic woman to a Protestant preacher was offensive. Gottfried replied by appealing to the eternal rights of man and made the following points with a good deal of unction.

"1. It was no crime for him to have drunk coffee with the lady in Hirzekümpchen" (p. 249).

"2. The matter is ambiguous as he had neither announced in public that he intended to marry the lady, nor that he did not intend to do so" (p. 251).

"3. As far as faith is concerned, no-one can know what the future holds in store" (p. 250).

"And with that out of the way, may I ask you to step inside and have a cup of coffee" (p. 251).

With this slogan Gottfried and Pastor Engels, who could not resist such an invitation, left the stage. In this way, quietly and yet forcefully Gottfried was able to resolve the conflict with the powers that be.

The following extract serves to illustrate the effect of the Maybug Club on Gottfried:

"It was June 29, 1841. On this day the first anniversary of the Maybug Club was to be celebrated on a grand scale" (p. 253). "A shout as of one voice arose to decide who should carry off the prize. Modestly Gottfried bent his knee before the Queen who placed the inevitable laurel wreath on his glowing brow, while the setting sun cast its brightest rays over the transfigured countenance of the poet" (p.285).

The solemn dedication of the imagined poetic fame of Heinrich von Ofterdingen is followed by the feelings and the wishes of the Blue Flower. That evening Mockel sang a Maybug anthem she had composed which ends with the following strophe symptomatic of the whole work:

"Und was lernt man aus der Geschicht'?
Maikäfer, flieg!
Wer alt ist kriegt kein Weiblein mehr
Drum hör', bedenk' dich nicht zu sehr!
Maikäfer, flieg!

[And what's the moral of the tale?
Fly, Maybug, fly!
A man who's old will ne'er find wife,
So make haste, do not waste your life,
Fly, Maybug, fly!]

The ingenuous biographer remarks that "the invitation to marriage contained in the song was wholly free of any ulterior motives" (p.255). Gottfried perceived the ulterior motives but "was anxious not to miss" the opportunity of being crowned for two further years before the whole Maybug Club and of being an object of passion. So he married Mockel on May 22, 1843 after she had become a member of the Protestant Church despite her lack of faith. This was done on the shabby pretext that "definite articles of faith are less important in the Protestant church than the ethical spirit" (p. 315).

Und das lernt man aus der Geschicht',
Traut keiner blauen Blume nicht!

[So that's the moral of the tale:
The Bluest Flower will soon grow stale.]

Gottfried had established the relationship with Mockel on the pretext of leading her out of her unfaith into the Protestant Church. Mockel now demanded the Life of Jesus by D. F. Strauss and lapsed into paganism,

"while with heavy heart he followed her on the path of doubt and into the abysses of negation. Together with her he toiled through the labyrinthine jungle of modern philosophy" (p. 308).

He is driven into negation not by the development of philosophy which even at that time began to impinge on the masses but by the intervention of a chance emotional relationship.

What he brings with him out of the labyrinth is revealed in his diaries:

"I should like to see whether the mighty river flowing from Kant to Feuerbach will drive me out into — Pantheism!" (p. 308).

He writes just as if this particular river did not flow beyond pantheism, and as if Feuerbach were the last word in German philosophy!

"The corner-stone of my life", the diary goes on to say, "is not historical knowledge, but a coherent system, and the heart of theology is not ecclesiastical history but dogma" (ibid.).

He is clearly ignorant of the fact that the whole achievement of German philosophy lies in its dissolution of the coherent systems into historical knowledge and the heart of dogma into ecclesiastical history! — In these confessions the image of the counter-revolutionary democrat stands revealed in every detail. For such a person movement is nothing more than a means by which to arrive at a few irremovable eternal truths and then to subside into a slothful tranquillity.

However, Gottfried's apologetic book-keeping of his whole development will enable the reader to judge the intensity of the revolutionary impulse that lay concealed in the melodramatic hamming of this theologian.