1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Herwegh, Georg

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

HERWEGH, GEORG (1817-1875), German political poet, was born at Stuttgart on the 31st of May 1817, the son of a restaurant keeper. He was educated at the gymnasium of his native city, and in 1835 proceeded to the university of Tübingen as a theological student, where, with a view to entering the ministry, he entered the protestant theological seminary. But the strict discipline was distasteful; he broke the rules and was expelled in 1836. He next studied law, but having gained the interest of August Lewald (1793-1871) by his literary ability, he returned to Stuttgart, where Lewald obtained for him a journalistic post. Called out for military service, he had hardly joined his regiment when he committed an act of flagrant insubordination, and fled to Switzerland to avoid punishment. Here he published his Gedichte eines Lebendigen (1841), a volume of political poems, which gave expression to the fervent aspirations of the German youth of the day. The work immediately rendered him famous, and although confiscated, it soon ran through several editions. The idea of the book was a refutation of the opinions of Prince Pückler-Muskau (q.v.) in his Briefe eines Verstorbenen. He next proceeded to Paris and in 1842 returned to Germany, visiting Jena, Leipzig, Dresden and Berlin — a journey which was described as being a “veritable triumphal progress.” His military insubordination appears to have been forgiven and forgotten, for in Berlin King Frederick William IV. had him introduced to him and used the memorable words: “ich liebe eine gesinnungsvolle Opposition” (“I admire an opposition, when dictated by principle.”) Herwegh next returned to Paris, where he published in 1844 the second volume of his Gedichte eines Lebendigen, which, like the first volume, was confiscated by the German police. At the head of a revolutionary column of German working men, recruited in Paris, Herwegh took an active part in the South German rising in 1848; but his raw troops were defeated on the 27th of April at Schopfheim in Baden and, after a very feeble display of heroism, he just managed to escape to Switzerland, where he lived for many years on the proceeds of his literary productions. He was later (1866) permitted to return to Germany, and died at Lichtenthal near Baden-Baden on the 7th of April 1875. A monument was erected to his memory there in 1904. Besides the above-mentioned works, Herwegh published Einundzwanzig Bogen aus der Schweiz (1843), and translations into German of A. de Lamartine's works and of seven of Shakespeare's plays. Posthumously appeared Neue Gedichte (1877).

Herwegh's correspondence was published by his son Marcel in 1898. See also Johannes Scherr, Georg Herwegh; literarische und politische Blätter (1843); and the article by Franz Muncker in the Allgemeine deutsche Biographie.