Schiller. Revolt of Netherlands, V1

This etext was produced by David Widger


The present is the best collected edition of the important works of Schiller which is accessible to readers in the English language. Detached poems or dramas have been translated at various times since the first publication of the original works; and in several instances these versions have been incorporated into this collection. Schiller was not less efficiently qualified by nature for an historian than for a dramatist. He was formed to excel in all departments of literature, and the admirable lucidity of style and soundness and impartiality of judgment displayed in his historical writings will not easily be surpassed, and will always recommend them as popular expositions of the periods of which they treat.

Since the publication of the first English edition many corrections and improvements have been made, with a view to rendering it as acceptable as possible to English readers; and, notwithstanding the disadvantages of a translation, the publishers feel sure that Schiller will be heartily acceptable to English readers, and that the influence of his writings will continue to increase.

THE HISTORY OF THE REVOLT OF THE NETHERLANDS was translated by Lieut. E. B. Eastwick, and originally published abroad for students' use. But this translation was too strictly literal for general readers. It has been carefully revised, and some portions have been entirely rewritten by the Rev. A. J. W. Morrison, who also has so ably translated the HISTORY OF THE THIRTY YEARS WAR.

THE CAMP OF WALLENSTEIN was translated by Mr. James Churchill, and first appeared in 'Frazer's Magazine.' It is an exceedingly happy version of what has always been deemed the most untranslatable of Schiller's works.

THE PICCOLOMINI and DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN are the admirable version of S. T. Coleridge, completed by the addition of all those passages which he has omitted, and by a restoration of Schiller's own arrangement of the acts and scenes. It is said, in defence of the variations which exist between the German original and the version given by Coleridge, that he translated from a prompter's copy in manuscript, before the drama had been printed, and that Schiller himself subsequently altered it, by omitting some passages, adding others, and even engrafting several of Coleridge's adaptations.

WILHELM TELL is translated by Theodore Martin, Esq., whose well-known position as a writer, and whose special acquaintance with German literature make any recommendation superfluous.

DON CARLOS is translated by R. D. Boylan, Esq., and, in the opinion of competent judges, the version is eminently successful. Mr. Theodore Martin kindly gave some assistance, and, it is but justice to state, has enhanced the value of the work by his judicious suggestions.

The translation of MARY STUART is that by the late Joseph Mellish, who appears to have been on terms of intimate friendship with Schiller. His version was made from the prompter's copy, before the play was published, and, like Coleridge's Wallenstein, contains many passages not found in the printed edition. These are distinguished by brackets. On the other hand, Mr. Mellish omitted many passages which now form part of the printed drama, all of which are now added. The translation, as a whole, stands out from similar works of the time (1800) in almost as marked a degree as Coleridge's Wallenstein, and some passages exhibit powers of a high order; a few, however, especially in the earlier scenes, seemed capable of improvement, and these have been revised, but, in deference to the translator, with a sparing hand.

THE MAID OF ORLEANS is contributed by Miss Anna Swanwick, whose translation of Faust has since become well known. It has been. carefully revised, and is now, for the first time, published complete.

THE BRIDE OF MESSINA, which has been regarded as the poetical masterpiece of Schiller, and, perhaps of all his works, presents the greatest difficulties to the translator, is rendered by A. Lodge, Esq., M. A. This version, on its first publication in England, a few years ago, was received with deserved eulogy by distinguished critics. To the present edition has been prefixed Schiller's Essay on the Use of the Chorus in Tragedy, in which the author's favorite theory of the 'Ideal of Art' is enforced with great ingenuity and eloquence.







BOOK I.--Earlier History of The Netherlands up to the Sixteenth Century

BOOK II.--Cardinal Granvella

BOOK III.-Conspiracy of the Nobles

BOOK IV.--The Iconoclasts

Trial and Execution of Counts Egmont and Horn

Siege of Antwerp by the Prince of Parma, in the Years 1584 and 1585


Many years ago, when I read the History of the Belgian Revolution in Watson's excellent work, I was seized with an enthusiasm which political events but rarely excite. On further reflection I felt that this enthusiastic feeling had arisen less from the book itself than from the ardent workings of my own imagination, which had imparted to the recorded materials the particular form that so fascinated me. These imaginations, therefore, I felt a wish to fix, to multiply, and to strengthen; these exalted sentiments I was anxious to extend by communicating them to others. This was my principal motive for commencing the present history, my only vocation to write it. The execution of this design carried me farther than in the beginning I had expected. A closer acquaintance with my materials enabled me to discover defects previously unnoticed, long waste tracts to be filled up, apparent contradictions to be reconciled, and isolated facts to be brought into connection with the rest of the subject. Not so much with the view of enriching my history with new facts as of seeking a key to old ones, I betook myself to the original sources, and thus what was originally intended to be only a general outline expanded under my hands into an elaborate history. The first part, which concludes with the Duchess of Parma's departure from the Netherlands, must be looked upon only as the introduction to the history of the Revolution itself, which did not come to an open outbreak till the government of her successor. I have bestowed the more care and attention upon this introductory period the more the generality of writers who had previously treated of it seemed to me deficient in these very qualities. Moreover, it is in my opinion the more important as being the root and source of all the subsequent events. If, then, the first volume should appear to any as barren in important incident, dwelling prolixly on trifles, or, rather, should seem at first sight profuse of reflections, and in general tediously minute, it must be remembered that it was precisely out of small beginnings that the Revolution was gradually developed; and that all the great results which follow sprang out of a countless number of trifling and little circumstances.

A nation like the one before us invariably takes its first steps with doubts and uncertainty, to move afterwards only the more rapidly for its previous hesitation. I proposed, therefore, to follow the same method in describing this rebellion. The longer the reader delays on the introduction the more familiar he becomes with the actors in this history, and the scene in which they took a part, so much the more rapidly and unerringly shall I be able to lead him through the subsequent periods, where the accumulation of materials will forbid a slowness of step or minuteness of attention.

As for the authorities of our history there is not so much cause to complain of their paucity as of their extreme abundance, since it is indispensable to read them all to obtain that clear view of the whole subject to which the perusal of a part, however large, is always prejudicial. From the unequal, partial, and often contradictory narratives of the same occurrences it is often extremely difficult to seize the truth, which in all is alike partly concealed and to be found complete in none. In this first volume, besides de Thou, Strada, Reyd, Grotius, Meteren, Burgundius, Meursius, Bentivoglio, and some moderns, the Memoirs of Counsellor Hopper, the life and correspondence of his friend Viglius, the records of the trials of the Counts of Hoorne and Egmont, the defence of the Prince of Orange,

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