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Minnie (Herzog) Seiler. In the winter he resides in Berlin, and in the summer at Rheinbreitbach, a favorite resort on the Rhine. Here he lives in the Burghaus, where he places the scene of Die Burgkinder. As these lines are being written (1916), he is active in the European War.
Recent writers have, for the most part, abandoned the naturalistic school and the related tendencies. They are striving to reach a new goal, independently of established forms and technic in fiction. Herzog belongs to this new school of writers. The list of his writings is already very long. Among his novels, Die Wiskottens (1905) has done most to establish his fame, after various other successes in drama and novel. He pictures in this novel the rise of a family in the large manufacturing class of Barmen, in the Wupper Valley, the center of the silk and ribbon manufacturing industry. His next novel was the Hanseaten (1908), where he tells realistically of the life of the great exporters and shipbuilders of Hamburg. If less technical and less realistic, Herzog is more poetic and charmingly optimistic in his next novel, Die Burgkinder (1911). All the love for the Rhine and his native soil and a deep fatherly love for humanity prevail throughout. The Heimatkunst is practiced here with all the understanding and devotion that a big-hearted man can have for his homeland, after having seen much of the world and of people abroad. Rudolf Herzog said once, during his visit to the far West of the United States: “I have seen much of the world, but there is no place that is so dear to me as the city of Düsseldorf and the country of the Rhine.” He has proved his love for that part of the world by laying there the scenes of so many of his books, and by choosing it for his summer home. Here at Rheinbreitbach he wrote the novel Die Burgkinder, having constantly before him the picturesque ruins and castles, the flowing Rhine, and the simple and gay people of these Rhenish parts.
Die Heimatkunst, according to Adolf Barthel, "is a loving surrender to one's home country, told with all the truthfulness and poetic realism that is possible.” Herzog possesses this loving surrender to his Heimat- und Vaterland. His most recent novel, Das grosse Heimweh (1915), is founded upon the impressions he received during his tour through North America, and deals with the question of the preservation of Deutschtum in this country.
Herzog's philosophy is one of uplifting optimism. The Burgherr, who seems to reflect the author's personal views, never despairs. Even at the saddest moments, he points out the awakening of a brighter future.
His views toward religion are broad and unorthodox. “Religion ist Pflichterfüllung; die lernt man im Leben besser und fruchtbringender als hinter Klostermauern.” He teaches us that that which is worth possessing is worth fighting for. Hein and Sibylle decide that they must win their castle by conquest, in order to appreciate its full worth. Herzog also believes that we should be content with that which God has given
When Sibylle longs for the more exciting life of the metropolis of Paris, Hein says to her: “Sehne dich nicht immer nach fremden Dingen, auch in Paris kochen sie mit Wasser wie bei uns."
The simple life is glorified by Herzog, the life of the farmer who cultivates the soil intelligently. "Weinberge anlegen und wüste Felder in Kultur bringen, kann nicht jeder Bauer,” says Hein. As regards character building, Herzog has a very beautiful philosophy. Like the great German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, who has influenced the Germans so greatly,
particularly at the time of the rejuvenation of the German nation after Napoleon's oppression, he tells us that every man must win his own nobility of character for himself. Happiness lies only in ourselves. “Make your home your own,” he says, “and then look farther.” He believes in cleanliness of mind as well as of body, and does not lay so much value upon exterior appearance.
Herzog believes in letting children develop according to their own individual talents and inclinations. He would merely guide them and let them benefit by his own experience. His own teaching is “Nie der Masse folgen," but to develop individuality of character and personality. With regard to brotherly love and fellow-feeling in misfortune, for instance in
says that we are all brothers in misfortune (“Im Unglück sind wir alle Brüder”). He teaches loyalty and patriotism. “True to your native land is to be true to yourselves.” To become a great man is for Herzog the same as to be a true
Self-respect is the foundation and blessing of all our actions, and not much stress should be laid on gain of material wealth or worldly fame. This philosophy he personifies in the secluded, unselfish, retired life of the truly noble Burgherr, who says: “Man kann auch ohne einen Namen ein edler Mensch sein.” His trust in the help of God is manifest throughout. Barthel says to Hein before the occupation of Paris by the Germans: “Was Gott tut, das ist wohl getan.” We feel his fearlessness of death, — his love for peace and order. The high moral tone of a book like Die Burgkinder carries one away from the sordid things of this life to a higher and nobler sphere.
HERZOG AS AN EDUCATOR
Die Burgkinder was dedicated by the author to his sons. In this novel he expresses his educational views through the character of the noble Burgherr, who devotes his life to the bringing up of the boy Heinrich and extends his fatherly love to the three children, Barthel, Johannes, and Sibylle, who seek refuge at the castle. There could be nothing more beautiful than the devotion and wisdom with which he brings up this adopted family.
As Lessing in his Nathan der Weise, and Luther in his writings, so Herzog teaches that our hearts must tell us whether we do right or wrong; and, like those reformers, he bases morality on man's own judgment.
In the education of the children, he surrounded them with a sound moral influence. He laid great emphasis on spiritual as well as physical culture and development. Natural science was taught to the children out of doors. Swimming and riding they learned at an early age. He watched the needs and talents of each child and let each develop naturally. The great responsibility which Herzog represents the Burgherr as feeling, in educating the children, is reflected in Heinrich's relation to him. “Der Vater war ihm ein Träger jeder Wahrheit und Gerechtigkeit, der Gärtner und Pfleger seiner Seele, der grosse, gütige Lächler bei jedem Weh.” The father becomes rich through the happiness which he gives to the children. He grows in strength and happiness through the increasing feeling of responsibility. He believes in giving children a sunny youth, and disapproves of comparing the worth of different children with each other. “A father should provide, but not compare.” He imbues the child with a love for home, for nature, and for justice. Barthel's affection for his fosterfather is shown in the words, “He is my good conscience.” As the father does not separate good and bad deeds, but looks only at the impelling motives, so he is no petty judge of virtue and sin, according to the laws of men.
Herzog understands the sensitiveness of children so well that he fully realizes the value of ideal conditions in their early training. He says in regard to this: “Children have such a delicate organism that you cannot leave them out of your sight day or night. There is need of a tender hand to lead them early. Loud and scolding words make them timid, obstinate, and untruthful, or else make them loud and scolding people.” “Kinder erziehen, das heisst sie waffentauglich machen für den Kleinkrieg des Lebens” is his theory. Every one who would attain freedom within and without must reach this freedom through his own experiences. Through teaching, we learn and gain experience (“Lehren und dadurch selber lernen”).
GERMANY ABOUT 1800
The period around the year 1800 is, perhaps, as far as true greatness is concerned, the greatest in German history. Goethe, Schiller, Herder, Kant, Klopstock, Wieland, Beethoven, the Humboldts, Johann Maria von Weber were living; Lessing, Glück, Haydn, Mozart, and the great Frederick had not been gone long, and were still alive in the memory of the living. The artistic, poetic, and religious or spiritual side of life absorbed the interest of men, and not economic, social, or political questions. Herzog reflects this period when he enters into its spirit in striving to delineate ideal perfection of character. The Burgherr leads an almost ideal life of self-culture and character building, and he inspires the children in his charge with this same striving for the highest ideals in life.
The drawback in this movement was its lack of interest in the external relations of life. It was almost with contempt that some people looked down upon political and social questions. Some of the great Germans of this time completely lost their own nationality. At first, before the Reign of Terror began, educated Germans followed events with interest and sympathy; not a few went to Paris to fight for the cause of liberty. The Rhenish Germans were enthusiastic about it that they even invited their French