Citation
The influence of the English eighteenth-century satirists on G. Ch. Lichtenberg and the Nachtwachen von Bonaventura

Material Information

Title:
The influence of the English eighteenth-century satirists on G. Ch. Lichtenberg and the Nachtwachen von Bonaventura
Creator:
Katritzky, Linde, 1928-
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
ix, 398 leaves : ; 28 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Comparative literature -- English and German ( lcsh )
Comparative literature -- German and English ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- English -- UF
English literature -- History and criticism -- 18th century ( lcsh )
English thesis Ph. D
Satire, English -- History and criticism ( lcsh )
City of Gainesville ( local )
Satire ( jstor )
Poetry ( jstor )
Theater ( jstor )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Thesis:
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1988.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references.
Additional Physical Form:
Also available online.
General Note:
Typescript.
General Note:
Thesis (Ph. D.)-- University of Florida, 1988.
General Note:
Vita.
Statement of Responsibility:
by A.J. Dietlinde Katritzky.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
Copyright A. J. Dietlinde Katritzky. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Resource Identifier:
024218050 ( ALEPH )
19735861 ( OCLC )

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Full Text











THE INFLUENCE OF THE ENGLISH EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY
SATIRISTS ON G. CH. LICHTENBERG AND
THE NACHTWACHEN. VON BONAVENTURA








BY



A. J. DIETLINDE KATRITZKY


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS
FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY





UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA



1988


0TY F FLUR1A LiWRAMIES


























Copyright 1988

by

A. J. Dietlinde Katritzky













ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS


For this, my late second opportunity to enter

academia, I am indebted to the American university

system, and in particular to the College of Liberal

Arts and Sciences at the University of Florida; to

its Dean Dr. Charles F. Sidman, and to the many

professors, colleagues and friends there, who have

helped and encouraged me over the past seven years.

My special thanks go to the Department of

Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures where I

started my research on Lichtenberg and the

Nachtwachen in 1983 under the guidance of Dr.

Christian J. Gellinek, where Dr. Hal Rennert always

provided helpful advice, and where the new chairman,

Dr. Alexander Stephan, gave much-appreciated counsel

and backing.

In 1984 I was fortunate enough to be accepted,

together with my research interests, by the

Department of English. I wish to express my deep

gratitude to its Chairman Dr. Melvyn New, and to Dr.

Richard E. Brantley, Dr. Alistair M. Duckworth, and

Dr. Brian R. McCrea, not only for agreeing to serve

on my committee, but also for providing me with new


iii









and valuable perspectives on my work. The interest

these specialists in English eighteenth-century

literature took in G. Ch. Lichtenberg was a great

encouragement to my belief in the close affinity

between Lichtenberg, the Nachtwachen and English

satire. During my long searches for relevant links

my chairman, Dr. Brian R. McCrea, gave unstintingly

of his time and expertise: he patiently read numerous

drafts, and always provided penetrating and

constructive comments.

I also thank Dr. Sidney R. Homan, Jr., for his

helpful reading of my chapter on Shakespeare, and

Donald Ball for drawing my attention to M. Bakhtin

and his theory of the menippea.

Grateful acknowledgement is due to the

Lichtenberg-Gesellschaft, its Chairman Dr. Wolfgang

Promies and, among other members, Dr. Peter Brix, Dr.

Fritz Ebner, Dr. Hans Ludwig Gumbert, Ulrich Joost,

Drs. Georg Christoph and Astrid Lichtenberg, to Otto

Weber and Werner Wegmann. While not all are yet

convinced by my hypothesis, everybody was most

helpful and supportive.

I am also indebted for valuable help in locating

documents and references to Mr. N. H. Robinson,

Librarian to the Royal Society of London, to Mr.









Helmut Drubba, Hannover, and to Dr. Horst Fleig,

Tubingen.

Dr. James A. Deyrup, who initiated me into the

mysteries of word processing, and who repeatedly

rescued me with remarkable patience and good humor

from seemingly desperate situations, deserves special

commendation.

Last, not least, I thank my husband, Dr. Alan R.

Katritzky, for advice and active support with

research problems, and for putting up cheerfully--

most of the time--with life with a graduate student.













TABLE OF CONTENTS


Rage

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ............................. iii

ABSTRACT.................................... vii

INTRODUCTION: PROBLEM AND PROPOSAL............. 1

CHAPTERS

I. GEORG CHRISTOPH LICHTENBERG:
HIS LIBRARY AND READING ................ 18

II. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (1564-1616)
IN AN EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY CONTEXT....... 58

III. WILLIAM HOGARTH (1697-1764) AND VISUAL
CONCEPTION IN THE NIGHTWATCHES.......... 94

IV. ROBERT BURTON (1577-1640)
AND THE SATIRIC TRADITION OF ENGLISH
LITERATURE IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY... 128

V. JONATHAN SWIFT (1667-1745)
AND THE SATIRIC TECHNIQUES
OF LICHTENBERG AND BONAVENTURA......... 162

VI. ALEXANDER POPE (1688-1744)
AND THE SCRIBLERIANS................... 210

VII. THE NINTH NIGHTWATCH.
A DIGRESSION ON MADNESS, A DUNCIAD,
AND A SATIRE ON THE SOCRATIC DIALOGUE.. 246

VIII. HENRY FIELDING (1707-54)
DOUBLE VISION AND MULTIPLE PERSPECTIVES.283

IX. LAURENCE STERNE (1713-68)
AND KREUZGANG'S LIFE AND OPINIONS....... 326

CONCLUSION................................... 373

BIBLIOGRAPHY.................................. 384

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .......................... 397

vi









Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate
School of the University of Florida in Partial
Fulfillment of the Requirements for the
Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

THE INFLUENCE OF THE ENGLISH EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY
SATIRISTS ON G. CH. LICHTENBERG AND
THE NACHTWACHEN. VON BONAVENTURA

By

A. J. Dietlinde Katritzky

August 1988


Chairman: Brian R. McCrea
Major Department: English


In 1804 the Nachtwachen. Von Bonaventura was

published anonymously in Germany. Hardly noticed at

first, the slender volume has attracted increasing

acclaim and critical attention. Uneasily assigned to

the romantic period, it was attributed to a large

number of possible, and often mutually incompatible

authors alive and active in 1804.

Striking parallels exist, however, between

Bonaventura and G. Ch. Lichtenberg's variously and

extensively documented thought processes. If

attributed to Lichtenberg (1742-99), and analysed

from the viewpoint of his literary values and habits,

the penumbral world of the Nachtwachen is illuminated

by the enlightened concerns of the eighteenth

century, and in turn reflects German and English

intellectual life and development during that period.

vii









Lichtenberg was an active participator and catalyst

in this important cultural interchange, and his

appreciation of contemporary English literature was

based on a thorough knowledge of the English

tradition. In this study I attempt to demonstrate

that Bonaventura shared this background.

Comparison with the English eighteenth-century

satirists shows that the Nachtwachen are a menippea,

a sub-species of the satire, which evolved in

antiquity from the Socratic tradition. While satire

is mainly concerned with criticism of present

conditions, menippean satire refrains from attacking

singular events or particular situations, and

questions basic problems. It deals with life in the

universal sense, its proper conduct, purpose and

ultimate eschatological consequences. The menippea

can therefore be defined as serio-comic summary of

mankind's philosophical achievement, and as such was

particularly congenial to the Age of Enlightenment.

To reflect the human condition in its entirety,

the menippea incorporates extremes which range in

style from formal rhetoric to vulgarisms, and in

subject matter from the absurd and distorted to the

sublime, and Lichtenberg, a leading German anglophile

and the most accomplished satirist of his time,


viii









perfected his skills by studying English models,

especially Swift, Pope, Fielding, and Sterne.

The primary aim of viewing the Nachtwachen

through his perspective is not to establish the true

identity of Bonaventura, but to arrive at a valid

interpretation of his intricate, multi-meaningful,

and exceedingly condensed text, and its significance

in the context of the late eighteenth century.














INTRODUCTION: PROBLEM AND PROPOSAL.


One of the most controversial books in German

literature are the Nachtwachen. Von Bonaventura. This

work appeared anonymously in 1804 in the publishing

house of Ferdinand Dienemann in Penig, Saxony, a firm

which specialized in novels, mainly of a trivial and

ephemeral nature.1 Established in 1802, the business

went already bankrupt in 1806 during the upheavals of

the Napoleonic Wars, when all its stock and documents

were dispersed and lost.

Initially the Nightwatches was hardly noticed.

The only documented contemporary reaction is a letter

by the novelist Jean Paul (1763-1825).2 He suggests

that Friedrich Wilhelm Schelling (1775-1854) must be


1 Nachtwachen. Von Bonaventura is the original
title. As it is ambiguous, many different versions
are in use. Unless these are quoted, I refer to the
work as Nightwatches, because the page numbers given
in this study are taken from the English version in
Die Nachtwachen des Bonaventura: The Night Watches of
Bonaventura. Edinburgh Bilingual Library. Transl. and
intr. Gerald Gillespie (Austin: University of Texas
Press), 1971.
2 Letter by Jean Paul to Paul Thierot, dated
January 14, 1805. Cited by Wolfgang Paulsen, ed.,
Bonaventura. Nachtwachen (Stuttgart: Reclam, 1984),
pp. 162-63.









2

hiding behind the pseudonym Bonaventura,

becauseSchelling had used it previously to publish a

poem in the Athenaum. Jean Paul also draws attention

to Bonaventura's indebtedness to his own style and

manner.

The assumed authorship of Schelling remained

unchallenged until 1903, when the critic Wilhelm

Dilthey declared that it was not possible for

Schelling to have written the book.3 Since then

scholars have proposed many names without resolving

the controversy for long. Among the most famous of

these are E.T.A. Hoffmann, Clemens Brentano, and

recently Jean Paul himself. Many minor and even

obscure literary figures were also seriously

considered.4


3 Paulsen, p. 165.

4 The following works refer particularly to
these authors: Rudolf Haym, Die Romantische Schule.
Ein Beitraq zur Geschichte des deutschen Geistes
(Berlin: Weidmannsche Buchhandlung, 1870). A foot-
note calls the Nightwatches without doubt one of the
most ingenious productions of Romanticism (p. 636).
Haym connects E. T. A. Hoffmann for the first time
with Bopnaventura, but finds influences of Jean Paul,
too, who is now also suggested by Andreas Mielke,
Zeitgenosse Bonaventura (Diss., Yale University,
1981). Erich Frank proposed Brentano as author and
published the book as: Clemens Brentano: Nachtwachen
von Bonaventura. Ed. and intr. Erich Frank
(Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 1912).
E. T. A. Hoffmann has again been proposed by
Rosemarie Hunter-Lougheed, Die Nachtwachen von
Bonaventura: e. Fruhwerk E.T.A. Hoffmanns?
(Heidelberg: Winter, 1985). This work contains an
up-dated and extensive survey of the publishing











First of these was Caroline Schlegel-Schelling,

the daughter of the Gottingen Professor of Oriental

Languages, Johann David Michaelis (1717-91). Hermann

Michel proposed her in 1904 as co-authoress with her

husband.5 In Schelling's persistent silence

regarding the authorship, Michel saw an overriding

desire to avoid any further embarrassment after the

controversies in which marriage with the divorced

wife of August Wilhelm Schlegel (1767-1845) had

embroiled him. This judgement was partly based on

the vehement and controversial opinions to which the

nightwatchman gives voice, but more so on his

unsqueamish references to illicit love and body

functions.

Among other candidates Friedrich Gottlob Wetzel

(1779-1819) was promoted because he wrote a poem in

which he related mind and stomach in ways similar to


history of the Nightwatches and of most of the
assumed authors in Chapter I, 1: "Rezeptions- und
Forschungsgeschichte", pp. 13-45. Among recent
summaries: Gerhart Hoffmeister. "Bonaventura:
Nachtwachen (1804/05)." Romane und Erzahlungen der
deutschen Romantik: Neue Interpretationen (Stuttgart:
Reclam, 1981), pp. 194-212; Jeffrey L. Sammons, "In
Search of Bonaventura: The Nachtwachen Riddle 1965-
1985." The Germanic Review, LXI, 2, 1986, pp. 50-56;
Ruth Haag. "Noch einmal: Der Verfasser der
Nachtwachen von Bonaventura". Euphorion, LXXXI, 3,
1987, pp. 286-97.

5 Nachtwachen von Bonaventura. Intr. Hermann
Michel. Deutsche Literaturdenkmale des 18. und 19.
Jahrhunderts. Vol. 133 (Berlin: Behrs, 1904; rpt.
Liechtenstein: Kraus, 1968).











Bonaventura.6 Owing to his general obscurity his

claims were hard to disprove. They were only

seriously challenged when Jost Schillemeit proposed

Ernst August Friedrich Klingemann (1777-1831), an

able dramatic producer, but a writer of limited

talents.7 The hypothesis raised many doubts, but

stimulated a wave of renewed interest in the elusive

Bonaventura. Independently Horst Fleig had also

arrived at the conclusion that Klingemann and

Bonaventura were identical.8

The mere fact that a reasonable and, at least in

part, convincing case can be made for each of these

"authors" as well as for many others, testifies to

the unusual depth and diversity of this extraordinary

book, and confirms the claim of its protagonist to be

a representative of mankind (". me, who am called

man," p. 167). This diversity is further revealed by

the incompatible and divergent ways in which literary

6 Die Nachtwachen des Bonaventura. Ed. and
postscr. Franz Schulz (Leipzig: Insel, 1909),
pp. 154-59.
7 Jost Schillemeit, Bonaventura. Der Verfasser
der "Nachtwachen" (MWinchen: Beck, 1973).

8 Horst Fleig, Zersprungene Identitat.
Klingemann-Nachtwachen von Bonaventura) (Tubingen:
Rohmanuskript Promotion, 1974), and Literarischer
Vampirismus: Klingemanns 'Nachtwachen von
Bonaventura'. Studien zur deutschen Literatur,
Vol. 83 (Tubingen: Niemeyer, 1985).










critics tend to view the slender volume. The

Niqhtwatches has been interpreted as a trivial novel,

as the autobiographical relevations of a failed poet,

and as a dazzling work of genius compared to which

the Faust of Goethe and Byron pales.9

The assignation to trivial literature accords

with the profile of the Dienemann publishing house,

but hardly with the nature of the work. It is

characterized by frequent shifts in style, mood and

time, digressions which are thematically but not

structurally integrated, satirical ambiguities and

difficult philosophical allusions. All these stand

in opposition to the generic requirements of the

trivial novel, which call for clear and consecutive

narration, a conventional and predictable plot,

undemanding vocabulary, uncontroversial opinions and

a satisfying conclusion.

Most critics have balanced their assessment of

the book. They acknowledge flashes of brilliance,

but pronounce the whole uneven, capricious and rather





9 Franz Heiduk, "Bonaventuras 'Nachtwachen'.
Erste Bemerkungen zum Ort der Handlung und zur Frage
nach dem Verfasser." Aurora. Jahrbuch der
Eichendorff-Gesellschaft, XXXXI, (1982), pp. 143-165.
This highly favorable opinion was given by Ernst von
Lasaulx in a letter to Joseph Gorres of March 28,
1831. Often quoted, e.g. Hunter Lougheed, p. 20.











reckless.10 From such judgements grew the conviction

that the book must have been written by a person of

great promise in his unrestrained youth.

Further problems are presented by the genre.

The Nightwatches has been reluctantly classified as a

novel.11 Jeffrey Sammons, however, drew attention to

the work's structure, which is so sophisticated that

it escapes the notice of the reader whose

expectations are conditioned by conventional novels.

Sammons discovered five interconnected narrative

cycles within the framework of the Sixteen

Nightwatches in which the nightwatchman Kreuzgang

relates his thoughts and adventures.12 These

unconventional numbers led Rita Terras to interpret

the structure of the NiQhtwatches as a homage to

10 Jean Paul's judgement initiated this
approach. It was followed by Karl August Ludwig
Varnhagen von Ense who wrote into his diary on August
17th, 1843 that he had read the novel by Schelling.
His criticism was strongly tinged by his antagonism
to the presumed author. He found the book "immature,
arbitrary, unorganic, also talented, glittering and
full of promise, and no lack of cheek. Altogether,
however, an incredibly weak production and too
insignificant for Schelling." (Quotations from German
sources are translated by Linde Katritzky, unless
otherwise stated). Varnhagen's letter is quoted in
most of the secondary literature on Bonaventura, e.g.
Hunter-Lougheed, p. 23.
11 Paulsen, p. 180: "Whoever was Bonaventura, he
must have been a young man .", pp. 172-73.
12 Jeffrey L. Sammons, The Nachtwachen von
Bonaventura. A Structural Interpretation (The Hague:
Mouton & Co., 1965).










Juvenal, whose sixteen satires are divided into five

books.13 The implications of her ingenious inference

were never seriously pursued, mainly because the

Nightwatches has always been judged within the

context of German Romanticism which did not favor

satire as a genre. The nightwatchman himself,

however, uses the word "satire" and its derivatives

repeatedly, and calls himself at the beginning of his

first round a "satirical Stentor" (p. 31). The

metonymic use of the Homeric hero, whose voice

equalled that of fifty others, emphatically and

unequivocally identifies Kreuzgang as a satirist, but

is atypical for a German romantic protagonist.

Nevertheless, valid reasons exist for an

allocation of the work to the romantic period apart

from the date of publication. Many of the concerns in

the Nightwatches are identical with romantic themes

or at least close to them. Comparison with English

satirists will show, however, that these romantic

leitmotife could derive from the tradition of

menippean satire as well. The book contains

references to Dr. Erasmus Darwin and the London

clockmaker Samuel Day on both of whom articles



13 Rita Terras, "Juvenal und die satirische
Struktur der 'Nachtwachen von Bonaventura'." German
Quarterly, LII, (1979), pp. 18-31.











appeared in Germany in 1804.14 Consequently it was

taken for granted that the work could not have been

written prior to these publications, and that

Bonaventura must be an author active during 1804.

This thesis attempts to demonstrate:

1) that the Nightwatches are a menippean satire

written in the tradition of eighteenth-century

British literature, particularly that of Swift, but

softened by the feeling which Addison, Johnson, and

especially Fielding added to the genre, and by the

sentiment contributed by Sterne;



14 The journal Der Freimathice carried a
supplement on "English Literature" on March 2nd,
1804, which contained information about Erasmus
Darwin's The Temple of Nature. Though Darwin's Temple
of Nature appeared posthumously in 1803, the two
aspects of it which are used in the Nightwatches were
favorite ideas of Dr. Darwin and are mentioned in
both his previous major works, The Botanic Garden
(1789) and Zoonomia (1794-96), see Linde Katritzky,
"Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, F.R.S." Notes and
Records of the Royal Society of London, XXXIX, Nr. 1,
1984, pp.41-49. Another supplement which also
appeared at the beginning of March described the
night clock by Samuel Day, to which a footnote in the
Nightwatches refers at the end of the Sixth
Nightwatch, see Schillemeit, p. 72. An anonymous
article about the same clock is also in the Magazin
aller neuen Erfindungen, Entdeckungen und
Verbesserungen, IV (Leipzig: Baumgartnerische
Buchhandlung, n.d.). Hermann Michel, p. xvi, assumes
that the year of publication is 1804. For
connections between Darwin and the Lunar Society with
this clock see Adrien Burchall, "The Noctuary or
Watchman's Clock: Its Introduction and Development."
Antiquarian Horology. Proceedings of the Antiquarian
Horological Society, XV, Nr. 3, 1985, pp. 231-51.










2) that the book is not the result of impetuous

inspiration but designed with unusual complexity and

profundity; it reveals exceptional erudition, and is

grounded in wide reading which includes English

literature and philosophy of the eighteenth century;

3) that the text accords with the opinions and the

range of learning of the acknowledged master of German

satire, Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742-99), one of

the prominent representatives of the late

Enlightenment and a leading German Anglophile.15

An assignment of the Nightwatches to the late

Enlightenment should also lead to a better

understanding of the interaction between the German

classic and romantic literary movements, and

strengthen the conclusions of Anglo-American literary

criticism that the differences between these two

epochs are not as distinct as has been traditionally

maintained in German literary history.16 Proposing

the Anglophile, enlightened thinker Lichtenberg as

the probable author of the enigmatic Nightwatches

15 These chronological problems are discussed in
Linde Katritzky, "Eine Untersuchung der Eigennamen in
den Nachtwachen von Bonaventura und bei Georg
Christoph Lichtenberg." Thesis for the Degree of
Master of Arts, Gainesville: University of Florida,
1984; pp. 38-49.
16 E.g. M. H. Abrams, The Mirror and the Lamp:
Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1953).










should therefore imply that the literary habits and

the scientific thinking of eighteenth-century England

played a considerable part in the origins of German

romanticism. It is hoped that this thesis may

contribute toward clarifying some of these issues,

though it will deal primarily with the relationship

of the Nightwatches with English satirists of the

eighteenth century.

As Bonaventura's text is woven from an unusual

wealth of material, and infused with allusions and

associations gathered from the entire range of

European eighteenth-century experience, I cannot hope

to deal with the full extent of the implications,

ambiguities and coded references. I follow Northrop

Frye in considering this exceptional richness and

variety not as incidental embellishment, but as one

of the generic characteristics of menippean satire.

Frye describes this sub-genre as "a combination of

fantasy and morality" and defines "creative treatment

of exhaustive erudition" as its organizing principle.

He sees Plato as "a strong influence on this type".17




17 Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism
(1957; Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973),
3rd. paperb. ed., pp. 310-11. It is worth noting that
Plato's theories are quoted in the Nightwatches (p.
37). The thought is repeated without mention of Plato
on pp. 123, 213.











In his Anatomy of Satire Gilbert Highet sees

Bion Borysthenes, a follower of the Socratic

tradition, as the true originator of what became

known as the Menippean satire, for he was the "first

to dress philosophy in the flowery clothes of a

prostitute." By this is meant that he was the first,

or at least the first who is known, who explained

important philosophical problems in the crude terms

which could be readily understood even by the lowest

and most illiterate. Bion, a freed slave who was

born around 325 B.C., thus spread the achievements of

Greek philosophy among the uneducated, who could

profit from them though they were unable to deal with

abstract concepts.18

This combination of profound thoughts with the

free discussion of those aspects of life which are

usually avoided in polite society became one of the

distinguishing characteristics of the menippea.

These were carefully categorised in a penetrating

study of the genre by Mikhail Bakhtin.19 He

18 Gilbert Highet, The Anatomy of Satire
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1962), pp.
31-32.

19 Mikhail Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoevsky's
Poetics. Ed. and transl. Caryl Emerson (1984;
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1986). Chap.
IV, "Characteristics of Genre and Plot Composition in
Dostoevsky's Works", p. 101-80, esp. p. 112-19.
Bakhtin's work appeared first with the title Problems
of Dostoevsky's Art, Leningrad, 1928. It was expanded










credits Bion Borysthenes with first mingling

philosophy with "crude slum naturalism," (Problems,

p. 115) and enumerates fourteen particular

characteristics of the menippean satire, noting

especially its free interplay of opposite features:

fact and fantasy; the serious and the comic;

philosophical universalism and trivialities; wisdom,

absurdity and insanity. "All sorts of violations of

the generally accepted and customary course of events

and the established norms of behaviour and etiquette"

are classified as part of the menippean concern to

unmask the deceiving appearances of life and to get

closer to ultimate truth (Problems, p. 117). "Sharp

contrasts and oxymoronic combinations abrupt

transitions and wide use of inserted genres:

novellas, letters, oratorial speeches, symposia, and

so on", widen the scope of the menippea to involve

the full paradox of life (Problems, p. 118). Bakhtin

calls the levels traditionally explored by the

menippea: "Olympus, the nether world, and earth"

(Problems, p. 133). Every part of the menippea serves

as "moral experimentation" (Problems, p. 152), which

is the connecting principle of the genre. The

frequent flights into fantasy and the "creation of



for a second edition, Moscow, 1963, and did not
become available to the West until twenty years later.










extraordinary situations" are therefore not subject

to whim, but are carefully designed to serve "as a

mode for searching after truth, provoking it, and,

most important, testing it." Thus "the fantastic is

subordinated to the purely ideational function,"

(Problems, p. 114) and the possibilities of human

experience in every extreme are invoked in a quest

for the essence and purpose of life. This search is

also the motivation of Kreuzgang, Bonaventura's

protagonist, and the organizing principle of his

sixteen nightwatches.

In regard to this unlimited variety of subject

matter Bahktin remarks that "while possessing an

inner integrity, the genre of the menippea

simultaneously possesses great external plasticity

and a remarkable capacity to absorb into itself

kindred small genres, and to penetrate as a component

element into other large genres" (Problem, p. 119).

This loosely connected narrative form is operative

throughout the Nightwatches and was supposedly

practised by the Greek cynic Menippus. His works

have not survived, but among his followers were the

Greek Lucian and the Roman Varro, and later Petronius

and Apuleius. At first the genre used a mixture of

prose and verse, and for this reason a French

collection of political satires which appeared










anonymously in 1594 took the title Satire Menippde,

for it used a medley of styles and languages.

As the menippea brings together different

elements which are taken from a large variety of

other genres, it is not very stable and has no pure

form. It "has baffled critics, and there is hardly

any fiction writer deeply influenced by it who has

not been accused of disorderly conduct."20 Precisely

this accusation, levelled against the early work of

Dostoevsky, led Bakhtin to investigate Dostoevsky's

poetics, to define the genre and to detect the

pattern of intellectual purpose and structural

organisation. His conclusions apply also in

remarkable degree to the Nightwatches, a work which

has likewise attracted a large share of criticism for

nonconformity to the generic demands of the novel.21

Similarities between Dostoevsky's early work and

the Nightwatches have already been noted by Rado

Pribic in his study, Bonaventura's "Nachtwachen" and

Dostoevsky's "Notes from the Underground." Pribic

calls this: "A Comparison in Nihilism," and

20 Frye, p. 313.

21 E.g. Jeffrey L. Sammons, "In Search of
Bonaventura: The Nachtwachen Riddle 1965-85." The
Germanic Review, LXI, Nr. 2, 1986, p. 50: ". .
failures of coherence not only indicate haste in
composition but make me doubt that the book was
written by a major author of the time."










interprets both the Niqhtwatches and the Notes from

the Underground from this perspective. He gives a

plausible explanation why Dostoevsky could have been

familiar with the German work, of which many copies

were left unsold in St. Petersburg, when Dienemann

collapsed in 1806.22

The author of the Nightwatches has deliberately

structured his text as a menippea. Numerous

references indicate intentional adherence to its

standards. Comparison with English eighteenth-

century satire shows that he followed the examples of

Swift, Fielding, Sterne and others. The Nightwatches

also reveals its author to be well aquainted with

German thought. Echoes of Lessing's work are

particularly noticeable, especially the "69. Stuck"

of the "Hamburgische Dramaturgie."23

Conscious choice of genre is an eighteenth-

century attitude and one of the conventions and

restrictions which the Sturm und Drang in Germany

tried to sweep away, and against which the romantic

writers also revolted. It is therefore a

22 Rado Pribic, Bonaventura's "Nachtwachen" and
Dostoevsky's "Notes from the Underground." A
Comparison in Nihilism. Slavistische Beitrage, Vol.
79 (Minchen: Otto Sagner, 1974), p. 10.
23 Gotthold Ephraim Lessings samtliche
Schriften. Ed. Karl Lachmann (1894; rpt. Berlin:
Walter de Gruyter, 1968), Vol. 10, "Hamburgische
Dramaturgie, '69. Stuck'," pp. 76-80.










characteristic which sets the author of the

Niqhtwatches apart from these literary movements.

Nevertheless the romantic period was rich in

menippean elements which, as Bakhtin notes, were

especially prominent and influential in E.T.A.

Hoffmann (Problems, p. 155). An investigation of the

Niqhtwatches reveals the English contribution to this

development, and shows that the paradox of the

exceptional originality of this work, within a

crowded reference system of constantly recalled

literary works of outstanding merit, was achieved in

accordance with Edward Young's prescript on how to

imitate the masters properly: "Let us be as far from

neglecting, as from copying, their admirable

compositions."

This aspect of Young's conjectures on

originality was brushed aside by the German

enthusiasts who only followed Young in extolling the

merits of genius. Bonaventura, however, as did

Lichtenberg, also listened to Young's further advice:

"It is by a sort of noble contagion, from a general

familiarity with their writings, and not by any

particular sordid theft, that we can be the better

for those who went before us." Like Lichtenberg

after him, Young also stressed the importance of

imitating methods, which are of universal importance,










rather than works, which are relevant to conditions

of the past. Thus he pointed out: "He that imitates

the divine Iliad, does not imitate Homer; but he who

takes the same method, which Homer took, for arriving

at a capacity of accomplishing a work so great."24

Bonaventura, like the German writers of the

Storm and Stress, and of the romantic period,

disdained imitation of previous texts, but unlike

these contemporaries did not reject the past, but

studied the methods and aims of outstanding previous

writers in depth. This thesis traces the influence

of the English eighteenth-century satirists on his

text, and also attempts to demonstrate that

Bonaventura, in taking their methods, also studied

the sources of their inspiration.


















24 Edward Young, "Conjectures on Original
Composition." Critical Theory since Plato. Ed.
Hazard Adams (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich,
1971), pp. 340-341.














CHAPTER I

GEORG CHRISTOPH LICHTENBERG: HIS LIBRARY AND READING.



Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, whose patterns of

thought show striking parallels to those of

Bonaventura, was born in 1742 in Ober-Ramstadt, a

small town near Darmstadt. He was the seventeenth and

last child of a Lutheran pastor who came from a

family with a strong pietistic tradition. Such views

were favored by the court in Darmstadt at the time

and in 1750 Konrad Lichtenberg was therefore

appointed Superintendent of Church affairs for the

principality. He died, however, the following year,

leaving his widow in straitened circumstances. From

early youth his youngest son suffered from a spinal

weakness which eventually dwarfed and crippled him.

A natural liveliness and inclination to socialize

notwithstanding, this handicap imposed on him the

position of an outsider, and as such he developed and

perfected his unusually keen gifts as an observer.

His talents were fostered at the Grammar School

in Darmstadt. He left in 1761 with an excellent

record, but had to wait until 1763 before he could








19

enter the university in Gottingen, for he was

dependent on a stipend from his sovereign, which

could only be obtained with difficulty.

How he spent the intervening years can be

surmised from a letter he wrote to Johann Arnold

Ebert (1723-95) in 1794. He calls him his teacher of

thirty-three years ago and recalls the endless

nocturnal hours he was then devoting to Young's Night

Thoughts, a work which Ebert had vigorously promoted

and translated several times.1

Lichtenberg developed and maintained a close

relationship with the man from whose work he had

profited in his autodidactic efforts to acquire a

knowledge of English and England. Ebert played a

prominent part in the change of German cultural

orientation from France to England at a time when

French was still the leading foreign language in

Germany. English literature was mainly known through

French mediation, notably by Voltaire, whose Letters

Philosophiques (1734) first aroused continental

interest in English affairs, and by Diderot. Ebert

was himself a minor poet, and John Louis Kind gives

him much credit for subordinating his own creativity


1 Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Schriften und
Briefe, 5 vols. Ed. Wolfgang Promies. Vol. IV,
Briefe (Munchen: Hanser: 1967), p. 893, Letter to
Johann Arnold Ebert, July 31, 1794.









20

to the promotion of English writers, especially

Edward Young (1683-1765). While his own work

received little notice, "all contemporary writers,

commentators, and periodicals join in the universal

acclamation and praise over the zeal, scholarship,

and merit of the 'foremost and greatest English

scholar and genius', the translator of the 'Night

Thoughts'".

From 1751 onwards, Ebert published translations

of the "Night Thoughts," as well as of Young's other

works, and he revised them until the year before his

death. Kind calls him "one of the ablest German

translators of English writers in the eighteenth

century." Ebert "devoted the best part of his life

to the works of Young, learned English early and read

all the foremost British authors in the original."

While he ardently admired Young, he also saw his

weaknesses, and the merits of Young's fellow-

countrymen.2

Ebert had belonged to a group of young Leipzig

students who had gathered round Christian Furchtegott

Gellert (1715-1769), one of the leading literary

figures of the German enlightenment. They became


2 John Louis Kind, Edward Young in Germany (New
York: AMS Press, 1966), p. 82.
(Quotations are documented at the end of the
relevant passage.)








21

interested in eighteenth-century English literature,

which they originally studied in French translations,

and they contributed to a journal inspired by

Addison's example, the Neue Beytrage zum Vergnugen

des Verstandes und des Witzes, usually called the

Bremer Beytrage. The journal flourished from 1745-

1748 and showed a strong interest in English

literature, introducing, for instance, the works of

Prior, Glover and Thomson to German readers. The

contributors admired Pope and Swift, and adopted the

organization of the Scriblerus Club. They met in a

Leipzig coffee house and cooperated on unsigned

articles.3 To this circle belonged also men of such

distinction as Klopstock, Lessing and his cousin

Christlob Mylius, the brothers Johann Elias and

Johann Adolf Schlegel, and Gotthelf Abraham Kastner

(1719-1800), first Lichtenberg's professor and then

his colleague in Gottingen. Kastner was as celebrated

for his satiric epigrams as for his brilliance in

mathematics, and Lichtenberg's personal acquaintance

with leading members of this group of distinguished

Anglophiles, such as Lessing and Klopstock, appears

to be due to Kastner.



3 Leonard Marsden Price, English Literature in
Germany (Berkeley: University of California Press,
1953), p. 59.








22

Ebert had originally planned to translate all

the most important English works, but, starting with

the first seven "Nights" of Young, he soon found his

energies fully absorbed in the task "of translating,

annotating, and expounding from his chair in

Braunschweig the works of Young alone."4

Lichtenberg developed a specially close bond to this

thorough scholar, and kept up a lifelong exchange of

ideas with him.

The easy familiarity with English literature,

which Lichtenberg had already acquired when he

started his notebooks in 1764, prepared him perfectly

for the life in Gottingen, to which he came as a

student of mathematics and astronomy in 1763. With

the exception of two visits to England and several

minor excursions in Germany, he remained there for

the rest of his life. The University of Gottingen

had been founded 1734-37 by King George II, who was

also the Elector of Hanover, and thus the new seat of

learning was destined from the start to become a

particularly active center of Anglo-German cultural

exchange. The exceptionally liberal conditions which

the absent ruler had created for his new institution

attracted many of the brightest scholars, both as

teachers and students. A constant influx of young

4 Price, English Literature in Germany, p. 115.








23

Englishmen, eager to finish their education in their

sovereign's foreign domain, ensured continuing

contact with the latest intellectual developments in

England.

Lichtenberg visited England for the first time

in 1770 as a guest of Lord Boston, the influential

father of one of his earliest students, and was

introduced by him not only to the social and

intellectual leaders of London society, among them

Joseph Priestley, but also to the king himself. As a

result of this meeting, Lichtenberg came to London

again in 1774, this time the personal guest of King

George III and Queen Charlotte in their royal palace

at Kew.5

Lichtenberg freely shared his impressions from

this journey in lively communications which were

widely read already during his own lifetime, for even

in an age in which letter writing had been perfected

as an art he was acclaimed as a correspondent of

outstanding wit and brilliance. He was always attuned

to the status and concerns of his addressees, ranging

from Marie Tietermann, housekeeper of the Osnabrick

inn at which he stayed during 1772/73 while surveying



5 Hans Ludwig Gumbert, "Der 22.April 1770." Das
Lichtenberq-Gesprach in Ober-Ramstadt 1977. Ed. Otto
Weber (Ober-Ramstadt: Verein far Heimatgeschichte
e.V., 1982), pp. 5-16.








24

the country in the service of the king, to leading

scientists and high officials. His letters display

not only his stylistic versatility, but also afford a

particularly comprehensive overview of the concerns

of his times, traits in which Bonaventura, too,

displays particular competence. To keep abreast of

current issues and affairs was one of Lichtenbergs

foremost aims, for he followed his own advice "Bemuhe

dich. nicht unter deiner Zeit zu sein."6 His keen

observations, deeply reflected experiences and

penetrating opinions are also preserved in his

writings on a large number of subjects, and in his

voluminous private notes, started in 1764, which

record his intellectual pursuits. All these give

insight into one of the leading minds of the late

enlightenment and into the interchange of ideas which

shaped the epoch. The extent to which Lichtenberg

contributed to the intellectual and scientific




6 Promies, Vol. I, p. 302, D 474.
Lichtenberg's posthumously published notes, his
so-called aphorisms, are numbered according to the
letters assigned by himself to his notebooks. The
individual notes were given consecutive numbers by A.
Leitzmann in 1902, who, however, omitted many of the
notes which were considered of minor importance at
the time, especially those with scientific content.
Promies published the entire notes for the first
time, and though he retained Leitzmann's system, he
he had to change the numbers. All quotations conform
to his usage.








25

concerns of his age is only now revealed by recent

editions of his entire works.7

Access to this material has resulted in a

growing awareness of the importance and topical

relevance of Lichtenberg's thoughts, which is also

reflected in the publication of the contents of his

library.8 Though their variety is impressive, the

large number of books Lichtenberg owned at his death

is by no means indicative of all his reading. Only

Hesperus by Jean Paul (No. 1614) is listed, for

instance, while notebook entries show that

Lichtenberg knew and critically appraised all the

works of this writer which appeared during his own

life time (L 87, L 514, L 581, L 592, L 615).9

7 Besides the authoritative Promies ed. (1968-
74) there is Georg Christoph Lichtenberg. Schriften
und Briefe, 4 vols. Ed. Franz H. Mautner (Frankfurt:
Insel, 1983); Briefwechsel. Ed. Ulrich Joost and
Albrecht Schone (Munchen: C. H. Beck), Vol. I, 1983,
Vol. II, 1985. The planned 5 vols. will bring
together the 1650 letters still known to exist.
(Previously 1215 of Lichtenberg's letters were
printed in 65 different publications, Vol. I, p. XV).
The documents concerning the two visits to
England are found in Lichtenberg in England.
Dokumente einer Begegnung, 2 vols. Ed. Hans Ludwig
Gumbert (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1977).
8 Bibliotheca Lichtenbergiana. Katalog der
Bibliothek Georg Christoph Lichtenbergs. Ed. and ann.
Hans Ludwig Gumbert (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz,
1982). Nos. in the text follow Gumbert.


9 Lichtenberg's notebook entries are numbered
in chronological order, the letters denoting his
diaries. I quote according to Promies, Vols. I and II.








26

Much similar proof of Lichtenberg's critically

astute and wide-ranging reading exists. Only a few

selected examples, which throw special light on his

interests and habits, can therefore be given in this

preliminary survey, but more information from the

Bibliotheca Lichtenbergiana will be provided in

following chapters. In view of the remarkable overlap

with the concerns of Bonaventura, it is noteworthy

that Lichtenberg kept his library up to date until

shortly before his death on February 24th, 1799, in

spite of his rapidly declining health. Investigation

of the proper names in the Nightwatches has

correspondingly shown that Bonaventura uses up-to-

date information until 1798, with a particular

concentration of remarks and allusions connected to

scientific progress made during the last decade of

the century.10

The four decisive centers of English influence

on German letters during the eighteenth century were

Hamburg, Zurich, Leipzig and Gottinge,11 and

Lichtenberg was personally involved with events in

all of them. In Gottingen he was himself the leading

10 Katritzky, "Untersuchung der Eigennamen," pp.
32-76.

11 Leonard Marsden Price, English>German
Literary Influences (Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1919), pp. 159-61.








27

Anglophile, and close to many of the intellectual

leaders who emerged from the Leipzig circle, though

he kept modestly quiet about his prestigious

connections. Only one sentence in a letter of July

31st, 1794, relates Young's and Ebert's lasting

impression on Lichtenberg's mind,12 and a single,

tantalizingly terse note witnesses to his only

recorded meeting with Lessing, on March 8th, 1777:

"Lessing called" (F 406).

Such glimpses have to be supplemented with

information gleaned from other sources. In Lessing's

case many remarks reveal a high regard, which shows

itself also in efforts to find a befitting epitaph

for a genius who was so greatly neglected and ill

rewarded for his great contributions to German

letters (J 239 and 313). Lichtenberg was well versed

in Lessing's works and owned several, among them

Ernst and Falk. Discussions for Freemasons (1778).

On August 31st, 1778, he reported to Heinrich

Christian Boie that he had read the manuscript of

this treatise, which he called one of the best works

he had seen in a long time, adding that if freemasons

are the people described by Lessing it must be a sin




12 Promies, Vol. IV, No. 665. An Johann Arnold
Ebert, p. 893.









28

against human nature not to be counted among them.13

This positive view of freethinkers is shared by

Bonaventura.14 The first three of the discussions

between Ernst und Falk had been published by Johann

Christian Dieterich (1722-1800), Lichtenberg's friend

and landlord, whose connections with men of letters

extended and reinforced Lichtenberg's own contacts.

Two volumes of Lessing's Hamburgische Dramaturgie

were also in Lichtenberg's library. In this major

work of mediation between English and German culture

"Part 69" is concerned with serio-comic writing and

starts with a reminder of the strong Spanish

influences on this genre. Lessing quotes here at

length from the satiric New Art of Comedy Writing, in

which Lope de Vega acknowledges classic sources for

the intermingling of serious and ludicrous aspects,

and arrives at the conclusion: "Nature itself teaches

us this diversity, and in this her beauty partly

originates.",,15

In the same article Lessing also pleads in

favour of the Hanswurst, the clown banned from the

German stage by the strict Johann Christoph Gottsched

13 Ed. Joost, Briefwechsel, Vol. I, No. 521, p.
878.
14 Nightwatches, pp. 31-36.

15 Lessinqs samtliche Schriften, Vol. X,
"Hamburgische Dramaturgie, '69. Stuck'," pp. 76-80.








29

(1700-1766) for disorderly behaviour and free use of

unseemly language. Lessing suggests satirically that

the antics of this popular character should be

confined to the stage, and not in future be witnessed

so frequently in real life. Stage metaphors--a

recurring device in tragi-comedy--are used by Lessing

in various ways in this article, as when he deplores

that in plays as in life the most important roles are

so often allocated to the worst actors.

Correspondingly the Hanswurst in the Fourth

Nightwatch "excuses the marionette director for

having ordered things like our Lord God and entrusted

the most important roles to the least talented

actors" (p. 75). The "marionette play with Clown"

(p. 73) contains also various other references to the

theory of tragi-comic writing as explained by

Lessing, whom Bonaventura singles out with Kant,

Goethe and Schiller (pp. 179, 181).

This puppet interlude in the Fourth Nightwatch

with its heroine Columbine, is also linked to Justus

Moser (1720-94), with whom Lichtenberg was personally

acquainted, and whose books he kept in his library.16

Chief justice of the criminal court in Hanover, privy

councilor and councilor of justice, Moser was expert

in various subjects, notably law and history. He was

16 Bibliotheca Lichtenberqiana, Nos. 1164 and 1883.








30

also keenly interested in literature and literary

criticism, which he regarded in accordance with the

English Enlightenment as a means of educating the

public. He wrote a treatise in defense of Harlequin

in which he commented on the commedia dell'arte. To

him this genre represented a world where the

grotesque is part of a peculiar circle or microcosm

to which Columbine and other traditional characters

belong. Literary use of such standard characters he

commended as a convenient shortcut and abbreviation,

as their universally known traits obliterate the need

for detailed exposition.17

Gottingen provided excellent opportunities to

keep pace with intellectual developments in Germany

and was the ideal place to contact those in England

who, under George III, actively continued the liberal

cultural policy of the founder. Lichtenberg had only

a very meager stipend when he started his career in

Gottingen, but his exceptional linguistic competence

assured him the post of tutor to young English

noblemen, and by this means he continued to

supplement his income during most of his life. Many

17 Justus Moser, Samtliche Werke, Vol. II. Ed.
Oda May (Oldenburg: Gerhard Stalling, 1981).
"Harlekin oder Verteidigung des Grotesk-Komischen"
(1761), pp. 306-342. Mikhail Bakhtin. Rabelais and
His World (1965; Cambridge, Mass.: The M.I.T. Press,
1968). Bakhtin comments on "Harekin's" influence on
tragi-comic writing, pp. 35-36.









31

years later, when the younger royal princes were sent

to study in Gottingen, Lichtenberg was appointed

their tutor and they came to live in his house.18

Though a third visit to England never materialized,

the constant influx of students and visitors from

England enabled Lichtenberg to keep in close touch

with the newest thoughts and developments there, and

in 1793 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society

of London, with which he had already been in close

contact since his first acquaintance with Priestley.

From 1765 onwards, Lichtenberg wrote his

assorted thoughts into notebooks, for which he

himself suggested the English word "wastebooks" (E

46). The expression is taken from the language of

merchants and refers to a rough ledger into which

everything is entered as it occurs, without the order

which is imposed during a later draft. The term

therefore indicates the intention to utilise these

thoughts for further writing, and many were indeed

used by him for this purpose in miscellaneous ways.

When they were posthumously published, the editors






18 Mautner, Vol. IV, pp. 484-85, letter to
Samuel Thomas Sommering, June 2nd, 1786. Adolf
Friedrich was in Gottingen 1786-1791, August
Friedrich 1786-90, Ernst August 1786-1791.








32

added numbers to the notes, which became collectively

known as aphorisms.19

Franz H. Mautner starts his discussion on the

themes of the early notebooks with the statement:

"The most frequent object of Lichtenberg's

observations, of his thoughts and therefore also of

his ideas is man".20 As Mautner shows, Lichtenberg's

notes mirror the tendency of his age to unite all

intellectual disciplines into a "science of man," a

task in which Lichtenberg himself was actively

engaged. The attempt to work towards an

"understanding of man in all levels of society" (F

37) constituted, indeed, the unifying idea behind the

multifarious interests and investigations, to which

Lichtenberg's work as professor of natural philosophy

and astronomy inevitably led. Through his passion for

knowledge and constant application "he became the

leading German expert in a number of scientific

fields, including geodesy, geophysics, meteorology,

astronomy, chemistry, statistics, and geometry, in

19 The first edition aiming at some sort of
comprehensiveness was undertaken by Albert Leitzmann,
who chose the name Aphorismen, though only part of
the notes belong to this genre which made Lichtenberg
famous. Georg Christoph Lichtenberqs Aphorismen. Ed.
Albert Leitzmann. Deutsche Literaturdenkmale (Berlin,
1902-08; rpt. Nendeln, Liechtenstein: Kraus, 1968).
20 Franz H. Mautner, Lichtenberg. Geschichte
seines Geistes (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1968),
p. 10.










addition to his foremost field and prime interest--

experimental physics.1"21

Bonaventura combines these diverse interests in

his metaphors and images, as in his whole outlook on

life. The description of Don Juan "all in flames like

a volcano, through whose millenary layers the inner

fire all at once found its vent" (pp. 91 and 93), is

but one of many examples, while signifying themes

from natural history permeate the entire work, like

the recurring references to Versteinerung--

petrification, fossilization--or the persistent

descriptions of thunder and lightning.22

Lichtenberg's pioneering electrical experiments

were famous. In 1780 he erected in Gottingen one of

the first lightning conductors, and his innovations

attracted the attention of Allessandro Volta (1745-

1827), who visited him in 1784 and 1785. With the

leading work of Benjamin Franklin (1706-90) in this

field, Lichtenberg was, of course, familiar, but

characteristically he did not restrict his interest

21 Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Vol.
VIII (New York: Scribners, 1973).
22 The decisive importance of the understanding
and demystification of thunderstorms is pointed out
by Engelhard Weigl, "Entzauberung der Natur durch
Wissenschaft--dargestellt am Beispiel der Erfindung
des Blitzableiters," Jahrbuch der Jean-Paul-
Gesellschaft, XXII, 1987, pp. 7-39. Lichtenberg's
contribution is highlighted, esp. pp. 21-22.









34

in Franklin to the professional aspect alone. He

reported to J. A. H. Reimarus in 1792 that whatever

Franklin wrote was distinguished by bons sens, and

that in his writing, be it on the constitution of a

new nation or the cure of smoky chimneys, the quid

was as instructive as the quomodo.23 The epitaph

which Franklin had composed for himself Lichtenberg

copied down in English:

The body of/Benjamin Franklin, Printer/(like a
cover of an old book/its contents worn out/and
stript of its lettering and gilding)/ Lies
here, food for the worms;/yet the work s h a 1 1
not be lost/For it shall (as he believed) appear
once more, in a new and most beautiful
Edition,/corrected and revised/by the author.
F 738

As Lichtenberg himself was actively involved in

the publishing business of his friend Dieterich,

metaphors taken from the printers' language had, as

to Bonaventura, a special appeal for him, and like

the author of the Nightwatches he was obsessed by

thoughts about eternity. The entry D 372, for

instance, states in one of the tantalizing

compressions which often baffle commentators:

23 Mautner, Schriften und Briefe, Vol. IV, p.
608. Lichtenberg refers to: "A Letter from Dr. B.
Franklin, to Dr. Ingenhausz, Physician to the
Emperor, at Vienna, on the Causes and Cure of Smokey
Chimneys in Transactions of the American
Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, Vol. II, p. 1-
36."
Material from Franklin's letter is used in two
entries in the so-called Goldpapierheft, Nos. 38-39,
Promies Vol. II, p. 219.









35

"Message to the book-binder regarding the immortality

of the book." A note from the last wastebook claims:

"The art of printing is indeed a Messiah among the

inventions" (L 667). In a similar vein, Bonaventura

has his poor poet start his "Letter of refusal to

Life" in Franklin's terminology: "Man is good for

nothing. Therefore I am striking him out. My Man has

found no publisher, neither as persona vera nor

ficta; for the last (my tragedy) no book dealer is

willing to advance the printing costs" (p. 133).

Franklin's sentiments are even more closely

paraphrased in the call to the "Beloved fellow

citizens!" during the faked judgement day, when

Kreuzgang declares in exasperation: "Behind you lies

the whole of world history like a silly novel, in

which there are some few tolerable characters and a

legion of wretched ones. Ah, your Lord God made a

mistake only in this one regard, that he did not

himself elaborate it but left it up to you to write

at it. Tell me, will he indeed consider it now worth

the effort to translate the botched thing into a

higher language or must he not rather, when he sees

it lying before him in its whole shallowness, tear it

to shreds in wrath and deliver you with all your

plans over to oblivion?" (p. 105).








36

Bonaventura, like Lichtenberg, will develop and

rephrase his models rather than quote them, because

both are stimulated to develop their exceptionally

original ideas by pondering on and reacting to the

accepted canon. Lichtenberg urged readers to

"endeavour to stay abreast of your time" (D 474),

Bonaventura"s agreement with this maxim is revealed

by the ease with which he draws analogues from the

wide range of eighteenth century epistemology. The

large number of Lichtenberg's letters24 and his

notebooks provide much clearer insights into the

development and applications of his thoughts than are

available for most other thinkers, and they also make

it possible in many instances to trace where and how

they originated. A further and invaluable source for

this information is the catalogue of Lichtenberg's

library. This has been assembled by Hans Ludwig

Gumbert by adding to the inventory of books that were

auctioned, the list of the works which friends put

aside for the family after Lichtenberg's death, and

the handwritten record of those books which

Lichtenberg lent to others between September 18th,

1785 and January 1799. Though Gumbert has

accumulated by such means 1911 entries, many

24 Unfortunately nothing has survived of letters
to and from England, though there is much indirect
evidence in his writings that many were written and received.








37

including several volumes, he also cautions that a

complete catalogue of Lichtenberg's library can never

be reconstructed.25 This is mainly owing to

Lichtenberg's extensive lending habits, which

resulted from his conviction that good books must be

circulated as much as possible. Thus his own reading

preferences contributed significantly to the

intellectual climate of his age.

Starting already with D 9, Lichtenberg, for

instance, repeatedly mentions that he was reading,

and striving to understand, Jacob Bohme. Yet nothing

can be traced in his possession of this mystic, who

is considered a specially formative influence on the

romantic epoch.26 Liberal lending habits may well

account for this gap. They may also be responsible

for the lack of any works by Hans Sachs (1494-1576)

to whom Lichtenberg referred with familiarity during

his early years.27 Of the Dutch philosopher Frans

25 Bibliotheca Lichtenberqiana, pp. xi-xii.

26 Fritz Martini, Deutsche Literaturgeschichte
(Stuttgart: Alfred Kroner, 1968), p. 333: "The
mystical tradition of a Meister Eckhart, Tauber and
Jakob Bohme merged during the romantic epoch with a
speculative natural science that searched for magical
and subconscious depths." Also Adams, pp. 216 and 218.
27 Ed. Joost, Briefwechsel, Vol. I, Letters Nos.
102, 103, 108, written at the end of 1772. Hans
Sachs is also regarded as a rediscovery of the
romantics, because of their love for the Middle Ages,
see Martini, p. 327.









38
Hemsterhuis (1721-90)--likewise mentioned by

Bonaventura and another favourite of the romantic

age--Lichtenberg owned five volumes; two, the Oevres

philosophiques, a present from Friedrich Heinrich

Jacobi, who had translated some of Hemsterhuis'

writings.28

An unusually large number of Lichtenberg's books

were gifts received from authors and publishers, and

also from well-wishers, among them George III. While

unsolicited contributions to the library somewhat

complicate the question of what Lichtenberg actually

read, they reflect in themselves his wide contacts,

and the esteem in which he was held by the learned.

Though Lichtenberg could not afford to spend much on

books and died at a comparatively early age, Gumbert

judges his collection as of the highest possible

standing.29

A special feature is its comprehensiveness;

mathematics and natural sciences comprise catalogue

numbers 1-951, while 952-1911 cover the other fields

of knowledge, with a particularly strong emphasis on

philosophy and literature. Here as elsewhere English

works, both in the original and in translation, are

strongly represented, as are the classic authors upon

28 Bibliotheca Lichtenbercriana, Nos. 1307-1310.

29 Bibliotheca Lichtenbercriana, pp. xv-xvi.









39
whom English eighteenth-century criticism relied so

heavily that Ian Jack regards the Augustan Age, with

its faith in classical theory, as the last epoch of

the Renaissance.30

Jack's concern is with satire, and in this field

Lichtenberg's library was especially well stocked.

He owned the works of Horace in Latin and English,

among them the prestigious edition by Baskerville,

1762 (Nos. 1516-1522). He owned a selection of

dialogues (No. 1523) by Lucian, a German translation

of Juvenal and a volume of satires by Juvenal and

Persius (Nos. 1728-29). The Satiricon of Petronius

is represented in a Latin, a German and an English

edition (Nos. 1746-48). Only fragments of this Roman

satire have survived. They come from the 15th and

16th part, subdivisions which are numerically

reflected also in the Nightwatches.31

Only in his first published satire, Timorus

(1771), did Lichtenberg give vent to his own

sarcastic criticism of the legal apparatus; for while

such attacks had become part of English satire and

had always been a strong ingredient of the menippea,


30 Ian Jack, Augustan Satire. Intention and
Idiom in English Poetry. 1660-1700 (Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 1952), p. 156.
31 The Works of Petronius Arbiter (1736; rpt New
York: AMS Press, 1975).









40

in Germany they were not tolerated. Consequently his

remarks in this area are mainly confined to his

private notes, and to reflections that in Germany

only private themes, particularly the world of

learning, remained safe subjects for satire (e.g. J

865).

Lichtenberg's concern with the procedures of law

was, however, strongly represented in his library by

Nos. 1208-1238a, which include a work on a case of

infanticide (No. 1227) by Gottfried August Burger

(1747-94), who lived for a while also in Dieterich's

house, and was helped and befriended by Lichtenberg.

A man of many parts, he became most famous for his

ballad "Lenore" (1774), which is cited as an example

for love transcending the boundaries of life in the

Tenth Nightwatch (p. 161). No. 1213 is a compendium

on German Civil Law by the Gottingen professor H. M.

G. Grellmann (1756-1804), who also wrote a book on

gypsies, in which he attempted to investigate their

history, way of life and tribal constitution

(No.1839). This work was printed by Dieterich in

1783, and Lichtenberg had a copy of the second

edition (1787) in his library. The author of the

Niqhtwatches uses the authentic gypsy term for people

outside their tribe, Blanker (p. 234), a sign that he

was well versed in gypsy ways and lore.









41

From another professorial colleague, C. F. G.

Meister, brother of Lichtenberg's teacher,

predecessor and friend, A. L. F. Meister, there are

the first two parts of a voluminous work on criminal

law (No. 1231). Though such books were usually gifts

from author or printer, there is evidence that

Lichtenberg actually used them, for legal analogies

are often employed in his writings.

A specially remarkable feature of Lichtenberg's

library is the number of English books in all its

many subdivisions. Among the law titles ten works

fall in this category, two of them in German

translation. No. 1233 includes "The whole

Proceedings of the King's Commission of the Peace .

held at Justice Hall in the Old Bailey. Taken in

Short-Hand. London, 1775-90." How much Lichtenberg

actually owned of this extensive series remains

doubtful, as he lent parts of his collection to

friends, among them Burger.

Lichtenberg's extensive knowledge and use of

English books is so well attested that Hans Ludwig

Gumbert was first alerted to the incompleteness of

the library auction catalogue through its lack of

works by Pope and Fielding.32 These were then

located in the list of books kept for the family. Few

32 Bibliotheca Lichtenbergiana, p. 208; p. xi.









42

of the leading English authors of the eighteenth

century were found to be missing, and of many

important works there is more than one edition, and

frequently a German translation as well.

Of Shakespeare (No. 1796-1801), for instance,

there are nine volumes of the London edition of 1760,

and ten volumes of the London edition of 1773, the

latter with notes by Samuel Johnson and George

Steevens. There is also a German translation by

Johann Joachim Eschenburg (1743-1820), an Anglophile

whom Lichtenberg knew well and with whom he

corresponded. Only volumes VI and VII of this 1775-

77 edition could be found in Lichtenberg's

possession. Gumbert assumes that the others were lost

in lending.33 Of the separate copies which

Lichtenberg owned, King Lear and Timon of Athens were

published by the Theatre-Royal in Drury Lane, while

Hamlet and Macbeth were from the Johnson edition

(Nos. 1796-1801). Wieland is represented by Nos.

1631- 33, though not by his Shakespeare translation.

Lichtenberg had a specially high esteem for this

author, whom he aligned with Shakespeare and Sterne

(B 322).

Johnson was regarded by Lichtenberg as a

particularly significant writer, and valued


33 Bibliotheca Lichtenbergiana, p. 284.








43

especially for his clarity of thought and the

apparent facility with which he explains moral and

abstract precepts in simple parabolic metaphors (J

788). Johnson's writings are densely dotted with

memorable maxims and aphorisms, in which everyday

experience is distilled into precepts of general

validity, a mode of expression which was to bring

acclaim to Lichtenberg too. They shared other

attitudes, notably a rejection of the prevailing urge

to construct intellectual systems, partly because of

their confining narrowness, but even more so because

they are inconsistent with the everchanging realities

of life and do not take into account the inadequacy

of human knowledge. Though they saw no virtue in the

mere accumulation of knowledge, they upheld the value

of tradition, but stressed the limitations of human

understanding and hence the necessity to keep options

open. Neither attempted therefore to record his

philosophy in a systematic manner.

Jean H. Hagstrum shows that Johnson approached

literature as the representation of the available and

universal experience of life, and that he expected

literature to lead back again to life and

experience.34 Lichtenberg shared this view, and like

34 Jean H. Hagstrum, Samuel Johnson's Literary
Criticism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
(1952) 1968), pp. 174, 179.









44
Johnson derived his intellectual decisiveness from

his consistent endeavour to apply the lessons

enshrined in philosophy and literature to the

practical problems of life. Both men regarded

subjectivism as dangerous escapism and tried to stem

its tide.

Lichtenberg's many different ventures into

publishing were directed by the desire to counteract

diffuse and wishful thinking with empiricism, and his

wish to publicize Johnson's work in Germany appears

as part of this strategy. In 1782 he prepared for

the Gottinqische Magazin, of which he was founder and

main editor, a report on Pope's life and works, which

he had translated and adapted from Johnson's Lives of

the English Poets.35 He promised a sequel on Pope's

characteristics as an author at the end of the

article, and planned to bring further lives of

English poets from Johnson to the attention of his

readers. Nothing came of this, as the magazine ceased

publication in 1784. Lichtenberg therefore suggested

that Dieterich should print the whole edition of

Johnson's English poets.36 Lichtenberg spent much

35 Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Vermischte
Schriften, Vol. V. Ed. by Lichtenberg's Sons
(Gottingen: Dieterichsche Buchhandlung, 1844), pp.
33-70. (Rpt. from Gottingisches Magazin, Part 3,
No.l, 1782).
36 Briefwechsel, Vol. II, Nos. 1044 and 1097.









45
time on this enterprise and also took over the final

revision. It proved, however, unprofitable and

Dieterich abandoned the ambitious venture after only

two volumes.37 Though Lichtenberg was alert to

Johnson's occasional limitations and sometimes

deviated from his judgements, especially in regard to

Fielding (J 807), he considered the Lives of the

Poets as a masterpiece in which the fusion of life

and literature was achieved on the basis of the

Horatian precept of educating while entertaining.

Horace recommends this mixture of the useful

and the pleasant in his Ars Poetica which was much

consulted by the literary critics of the

Enlightenment. Johnson discussed these poetic

instructions in depth and quoted frequently from

them.38 Ars Poetica, also known as the Epistle to

the Pisos, is several times evoked by Bonaventura and

quoted by Kreuzgang, the protagonist of the

Niqhtwatches (p. 195), who also aspires to the

Horatian ideal "to unite the useful with the

pleasurable" (p. 219). Even in his scientific

37 Personal information from Frau Elisabeth
Willnat, Gottingen, from an unpublished dissertation
on Dieterich's Publishing House.
38 James Boswell, Life of Johnson (1791). Ed. R.
W. Chapmann (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980),
pp. 120, 140, 158, 360, 443, 693, 771-74, 939, 1034,
1093.








46

writing Lichtenberg adhered to this maxim to such a

degree that his entertainingly presented ideas were

widely disseminated among the general public, but

were not always taken seriously by specialists. He

owned Horace's works in several editions in Latin and

in English, including the much admired Baskerville

edition of 1762, plus a German translation of a Dutch

work on Quintus Horatius Flaccus as Citizen of Rome,

(Nos. 1516-22).

Lichtenberg owned, and frequently consulted,

Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language, in the

London edition of 1773 (No. 1460). Several of his

notes attest to exceptional interest in the meaning

of words, and to his exceptional command of the

English language. For example:

In Johnson's Dictionary the words: Predilection,
respectable, descriptive, sulky, mimetick,
isolated, inimical, decompose have been omitted
by oversight. (J 836)

Similar concern is shown in J 811 and in J 822, and

he noted that "in the word abandon in Johnson's great

Dictionary credulity should have been used instead of

cruelty" (J 1041). Besides two different editions of

Johnson's Lives of the Poets, Lichtenberg also owned

a separate edition of the Life of Savage--a

celebrated eighteenth-century account of the

sufferings of a poor poet--and the Milton volume of








47

Dieterich's abortive Johnson series which Lichtenberg

had edited himself (Nos. 1651-53, 1659).

The works catalogued in the Bibliotheca

Lichtenbergiana indicate thorough and solid reading

habits. In conjunction with the notes and remarks in

letters, the contents of the library demonstrate that

Lichtenberg investigated the topics which

particularly concerned him in considerable depth.

Though "the difficulty of access to the large and

varied canon of his writings," is as formidable in

the case of Johnson39 as it is for Lichtenberg, the

thoughts and methods of both authors are

exceptionally well documented: for Lichtenberg,

through the self-testimony of his notebooks and in

lesser measure through his correspondence; for

Johnson, through the meticulous preservation of his

conversations by James Boswell (1740-1795). The

minutiae which these testimonies contain were a

deliberate contribution to the "science of man,"

acute observations towards a true and rounded concept

of human personality.

Boswell's attention to seeming trivia accords

with the opinion of Johnson, whom he reports as

having said: "The great thing to be recorded is


39 Samuel Johnson. Ed. Donald Green (Oxford:
Oxford University Press), 1984. Introduction, p. xii.









48
the state of your own mind; and you should write down

everything that you remember, for you cannot judge at

first what is good or bad; and write immediately

while the impression is fresh, for it will not be the

same afterwards."40

To this principle Lichtenberg adhered all

through his adult life, and to the same end: to study

the human condition and the workings of the mind. He

also shared Johnson's conviction that the key to

human behaviour can be found anywhere, in common life

as well as in noteworthy historic events. He is not

joking when he attributes his own considerable

psychological understanding to observations at

weddings, christenings and university feasts (E 189)

and he held that family life mirrors great political

incidents with its miniature wars and peace treaties,

resolutions, reforms and power struggles (L 106).

Like many of Lichtenberg's ideas, which are

crowded together in his notebooks without context,

introduction or follow-up, this suggestion might

appear as the whimsical inspiration of the moment.

It does, however, echo one of Johnson's Rambler

essays, which states that "no nation omits to record

the actions of their ancestors, however bloody,


40 Boswell, e.g. pp. 25, 868, 997, 1013, 1023,
1088; p. 513.








49

savage and rapacious" and then goes on to claim: "The

same disposition, as different opportunities call it

forth, discovers itself in great or little things."

Johnson therefore offers to relate "the history and

antiquities of the several garrets" in which The

Rambler has resided.41 He ends with the "observation

of Juvenal, that a single house will show whatever is

done or suffered in the world," thus pointing back to

a source which was particularly popular with the

English eighteeenth-century satirists, Lichtenberg

included (Nos. 1728-29). For Bonaventura, too, the

microcosm of common or particular events represents

the world (p. 143).

Johnson and Lichtenberg share a heritage of

classical satire; among its major themes are

madness, suicide, superstitions and dreams. These

reflect general trends in a time which based its

epistemology on the study of classical authors.

Nevertheless, the serious intensity with which

Johnson and Lichtenberg approached these darker

problems was exceptional, and several parallelisms

show that Lichtenberg based some of his thoughts on

Johnson's work.


41 Samuel Johnson, pp. 239-42, p. 239, Rambler,
No. 161, Tuesday, October 1, 1751, "A Rooming-House
Chronicle."









50

In the Socratic effort to "know thyself"

Lichtenberg habitually dissected and rationalized

his dreams, and he tells how once in a dream he

related an incident to someone else, who then

reminded him of a detail he had entirely forgotten.

How, he asked himself, could that happen, as it was

his dream, and he himself must therefore have

reproduced everything in it (L 587). Similarly,

Johnson "related, that he had once in a dream a

contest of wit with some other person, and that he

was very much mortified by imagining that his

opponent had the better of him." On reflection,

however, he found that the wit of this supposed

antagonist by "whose superiority" he felt himself

depressed, was also furnished by himself.42

Besides literary themes the two men also shared

many acquaintances, as Lichtenberg moved partly in

the circles which Johnson frequented. He kept

modestly quiet about most of his social experiences

in London, but recorded that he dined with General

Paoli.43 As he refers to Boswell's description of

him (E 269), he must have been familiar with

Boswell's Account of Corsica (1768), though it was

42 Boswell, p. 1069.

43 Ed. Gumbert, Lichtenberg in England, Vol. I,
p. 92, March 15, 1775.








51
not in his library. Neither did he own Johnson's

Journey to the Western Islands (1775) or Boswell's

Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides (1785), though his

own visit to the Isle of Heligoland in 1773 recalls

Johnson's celebrated excursion, and was not less

trend-setting.44 Interest in the Hebrides was also

kindled by the Ossianic controversies, which aroused

even stronger passions in Germany than in England, as

enthusiasm for Ossian had stimulated "a lyric genre

which flourished for a brief time under the name of

bardicc' poetry."45

Though Lichtenberg emphatically opposed these

effusions, he refrained from taking sides in the

Ossian question, possibly because several writers he

valued, like Gerstenberg, von Haller and especially

his friend Eschenburg, were filled with admiration

for McPherson's Celtic imitations, the more so as the

ancient Celts were freely equated with the Germanic

tribes. Lichtenberg himself was interested in the

religious aspects of Ossian's songs, as they seemed

to him an uncanny anticipation of modern thoughts on

God and nature. He even had agreed to get some

44 Wolfgang Promies. "Der Deutschen Bade-
Meister: Georg Christoph Lichtenberg und die
Wirkungen aufgeklarter Schriften." Photorin, IV,
1981, pp. 1-15 (pp. 2-3).
45 Price, English Literature in Germany, p. 126.









52

additional Ossianic poems printed, which were offered

to him as authentic by Edmund de Harold.46 Probably

he soon identified them as forgeries, because nothing

came of the plan. He also noted that there was no

mention of the wolf in Ossian, an observation which

Boswell likewise records. Additionally he mentions

that the cock occurs, though introduced into Europe

much later. Johnson regarded Ossian as a fraud,

because McPherson could not show him any original

manuscripts. His verdict that "a man might write

such stuff for ever, if he would abandon his mind to
it"47 sums up Lichtenberg's often voiced opinion on

German neo-bardic poetry.

Ossian's supposed father was the legendary

Fingal, and his famous cave on the Scottish island

Staffa is mentioned by Kreuzgang as one of the

desirable places to which a beggar might gain

entrance (p. 217). Johnson and Boswell came close to

it, but did not include Staffa in their itinerary.

It had, however, been visited in the previous year by

46 Ed. Joost, Briefwechsel, Vol. II, No. 1097.

47 Boswell, p. 615, probably emanating from
Thomas Percy; p. 1207.









53
Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820) whose description first

drew attention to this wonder of nature.48

Lichtenberg was introduced to Sir Joseph Banks

and his companion on the journey round the world with

Captain Cook, Dr. Daniel Solander (1730-1781), in

March 1775, and they in turn acquainted him with

Omai, the native from Tahiti who frequented London

society until he returned to his native island with

Captain Cook on his third and last voyage.49 All

three were also acquainted with Johnson and

Boswell.50 Sir Joseph Banks joined Johnson's

Literary Club in 1778,51 and he was President of the

Royal Society when Lichtenberg was admitted. Such

48 Significantly Kreuzgang talks of a "free pass
to nature," but the three places he mentions are all
distinguished by literary and philosophical
connections. His experience of nature is thus in the
tradition of the Enlightenment: evocative of
incidents and literary precedent. This attitude is
also exemplified by Johnson and Boswell, who on their
Scottish tour expressed their responses to nature by
quoting passages from literature, especially from
Shakespeare.

49 Mautner, Lichtenberg. Geschichte seines
Geistes, p. 132.

50 Cf. Johnson's opinions on Omai, Boswell, p.
723, April 1776. Lichtenberg had met him at a dinner
given by Sir John Pringle, President of the Royal
Society and personal physician to the Queen, who had
acted as an intermediary between him and Lichtenberg;
see Letter to Ernst Gottfried Baldinger, 10th January
1775, ed. Joost, Briefwechsel, Vol. I, No. 269, pp.
494-95.
51 Boswell, p. 1005: "Mr. Banks desires to be
admitted; he will be a very honourable accession."








54

connections intensified Lichtenberg's interest in

Johnson, which is reflected in his reading in the

winter 1789/90 of Sir John Hawkins' Life of Samuel

Johnson.52 He also read Mrs. Thrale-Piozzi's

Anecdotes (1786) on Johnson, shortly after he

finished with Boswell's Life, probably because

Boswell discusses Mrs. Thrale and her work so

frequently. Boswell also comments on the affair of

the hapless Rev. Dr. W. Dodd, who was hanged in 1777

for embezzlement. Johnson's unsuccessful

championship of his case turned it into a cause

cdlebre to which Lichtenberg referred in his article

"Uber Physiognomik" (1778).53 Lichtenberg's interest

in Soame Jenyns' View of the Internal Evidence of the

Christian Religion (No. 1325), may also be due to

Johnson who reviewed this work in: "A Free Inquiry

into the Nature and Origin of Evil." (1757). Many of

Johnson's ideas on life and afterlife, which are

otherwise widely diffused in his writings in the form

of general maxims and observations, are distilled in

this essay. Jenyns himself offers little more than a

summary of current thoughts, including the concept of

the universe as a system of beings descending by

52 See Promies, Vol. I, notebook entries
beginning with J 199.

53 Promies, Vol. III, pp. 256-95, p. 272, also F
942.








55

insensible degrees, from infinite perfection to

absolute nothing, with man on probation to find a

place commesurate with his achievements.

Such ideas go back to antiquity, especially to

Pythagoras, but in the eighteenth century they had

been reactivated through contact with the East. Hence

Johnson speaks of the "Arabian scale of existence."

He confesses to have often considered such a system

himself, "but always left the inquiry in doubt and

uncertainty."54 Lichtenberg held similar views.

Thoughts on a celestial hierarchy surface in his

notes over many years, and in D 412, for instance, he

declares,

I can hardly believe that it will be possible to
prove that we are the work of a highest being,
and not have rather been assembled by a very
imperfect one to while away the time.

This tormenting impossibility of arriving at a

definitive conclusion becomes a central quest for

Kreuzgang, who resembles Johnson and Lichtenberg also

in this, that the search for eternity does not

deflect his mind from the realities of everyday life.

Johnson was an active observer and judge of the

political contentions which stirred his times, and,

when the controversies with the American colonies

reached their height, he produced "An Answer to the

54 Samuel Johnson, pp. 522-43, p. 539; pp. 524-25.









56

Resolutions and Address of the American Congress"

that was intended to calm tempers and support law and

order: Taxation: No Tyranny (1774). Lichtenberg

owned an anonymous answer to it: Taxation Tyranny

(1775, No. 1123). According to diverse notes and

excerpts, Lichtenberg was also a regular reader of

the Gentleman's Magazine, which Johnson had helped

"to convert from a rather dreary collection of

reprints from current newspapers to the prototype of

the modern 'intellectual' journal, designed to inform

and stimulate the minds of the educated and

educatable general public."55

Johnson's and Lichtenberg's comprehensive

knowledge and understanding of the enlightened

concerns of their time fuelled their passionate

intellectual preoccupation with the problems of

progress. They were also farsighted enough to

recognize human limitations, and this acceptance

resulted in a strong sense of responsibility towards

the public. Hence they were both convinced that "the

only end of writing is to enable the readers better

to enjoy life or better to endure it."56

Even a brief comparison of the contents of

Lichtenberg's library with his reading and writing


55 Samuel Johnson, Introduction, pp. xi-xii.

56 Samuel Johnson, p. 536.








57

shows that his wish to make Johnson more accessible

to German readers was based on thorough study and an

exceptionally systematical and comprehensive

knowledge of eighteenth-century English writers.

Bonaventura shares this background and has also this

in common with Lichtenberg, that while his

inspirations may seem spontaneous and often

effervescent, closer investigation will prove their

enlightened and farsighted intent which begins to be

fully appreciated only in present times.














CHAPTER II

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (1564-1616)
IN EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY CONTEXT.



Pursuit of English literary influences on the

Niqhtwatches reveals strong parallels to

Lichtenberg's reading, his thoughts, interests and

preferences; Kreuzgang's references to Shakespeare

demonstrate the same thorough and unusual knowledge

of the English dramatist's works that distinguished

Lichtenberg. Kreuzgang, too, values Shakespeare's

insight into the human condition, and he commands

Lichtenberg's exceptional paraphrasing techniques:

his gift to absorb the best thoughts of others and

turn them to his own purpose. When Klaus

Bartenschlager observes of Bonaventura's methods:

"Shakespeare is not discussed, but integrated into

the perspective of the narrator,"1 he also describes

the methods of Lichtenberg.



1 Klaus Bartenschlager, "Bonaventuras
Shakespeare: Zur Bedeutung Shakespeares fur die
'Nachtwachen'." GroBbritannien und Deutschland.
Festschrift fur John Bourke (Munchen: Goldmann,
1974), pp. 347-71, p. 348.









59
Bartenschlager concentrates his investigation

mainly on the virtuosity with which this integration

is achieved. As the Shakespearean absorption of the

Niqhtwatches surpasses the contemporary German norm

in intensity and extent, even at a time when

admiration of Shakespeare was at a peak,

Bartenschlager treats the Nightwatches in comparative

isolation. Where he refers to literary context he

does so in general terms, and restricts himself to

German literary criticism. Thus he refers to Herder,

Goethe, Tieck and Schlegel,2 all of whom, however,

had evolved their views directly or indirectly from

the English literary critics who were led and

stimulated by Dryden into a growing realisation of

the unusual genius their country had produced.

John Dryden's Essay of Dramatic Poesy (1668)

heralded a shift of focus from Ben Johnson to

Shakespeare, and based the claim for the latter's

superiority on the daring presentation of "mirth

mixed with tragedy." Acceptance of Dryden's views

was facilitated by his patriotic opinion that the

English, and foremost Shakespeare, "have invented,

increased and perfected a more pleasant way of

writing for the stage, than was ever known to the


2 Bartenschlager, p. 348.









60
ancients or moderns of any nation, which is tragi-

comedy. ,3

Shakespeare is therefore praised as the

unsurpassed master of mixing serious scenes with

merry interludes, and to this technique, which after

all mirrors the hazards and unpredictable changes of

life itself, he added the perception that while both

aspects of the human existence may remain

irreconcilable, they can nevertheless illuminate each

other. Dryden sees Shakespeare as "the man who of

all modern, and perhaps ancient poets, had the

largest and most comprehensive soul.''4 The renewed

interest in Shakespeare's plays which resulted from

Dryden's praise led to various new editions, notably

those of Pope (1725) and Johnson (1765).

Pope proclaimed that

if ever any Author deserved the name of an
Original, it was Shakespeare; his poetry was
Inspiration indeed: he is not s o m u c h a n
Imitator, as an Instrument, of Nature; and 'tis
not so just to say that he speaks from her, as
that she speaks thro' him.
His Characters are so much Nature her self,
that 'tis a sort of injury to call them by so
distant a name as Copies of her...every single




3 Hazard Adams, Critical Theory since Plato (New
York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1971), John Dryden,
"An Essay of Dramatic Poesy," pp. 228-257, p. 244.

4 Ed. Adams, "An Essay of Dramatic Poesy," p. 247.










character in Shakespear is as much an
Individual, as those in Life itself."5

Kreuzgang's appreciation of Shakespeare is

similar. Klaus Bartenschlager sees it as part of the

controversy over creating versus imitating, a

persistent late eighteenth-century theme in

aesthetics which, in his view, for Bonaventura's

generation was insolubly linked with Herder's

exhortation of Shakespeare's genius.6

Lawrence Marsden Price found in Herder's essay

"echoes of Pope, Warburton, Johnson, and Young, who

had extolled Shakespeare's knowledge of the human

soul or even called him creator," and he suggests

that "for verbal parallels couched in like effusive

tones we must turn to Henry Home." With all these

authors, including Herder, Lichtenberg was quite

familiar.7 He also contributed actively to the


5 Poetry and Prose of Alexander Pope. Sel. and
intr. Aubrey Williams (Boston: Houghton Mifflin,
1969), "Preface to the Works of Shakespeare," pp.
460-472, pp. 460-61.
6 Bartenschlager, p. 348.

7 Price, English Literature in Germany, p. 246.
Lichtenberg owned: Complete Works of Alexander Pope,
with his last correction. Together with the notes of
William Warburton, London 1764, 6 vols. Bibliotheca
Lichtenbergiana, No. 1662; a German prose translation
of Warburton's Pope edition by Johann Jacob Dusch,
1784, No. 1663; a German translation of Henry Home's
Elements of Criticism (1762) in 3 vols., Leipzig
1763-66, No. 1316; Johann Gottfried Herder Briefe zur
Beforderung der Humanitat. Riga 1793 (No. 1311), and
Ursachen des qesunkenen Geschmacks bei den









62

reception of Shakespeare's works in Germany, for he

valued the Elizabethan poet above all as an inspired

interpreter of human nature, and held him up as an

example to young writers, because his characters were

not copied from literature but from life, and thus of

permanent and general value. With this validity in

mind he himself used Shakespeare's works as the ideal

against which to test thoughts and emotions. He had

already integrated Hamlet into his way of thinking

when he wrote on December 2nd 1770, in one of the

suicidal moods which tempted him throughout his adult

life,

Luckily under the circumstances I still have a
good conscience, otherwise I would already have
gone, the sooner the better to the rest, from
which Hamlet shrank because of the dreams which
he feared would disturb it. (B 338)

Long before Wilhelm Meister was published (1787-88),

from which the German romantics took their cue,

Hamlet had already become part of his way of

thinking.

A strong influence on Lichtenberg's sense of

Shakespeare was Johnson's "Preface to Shakespeare,"

first published in 1765 in Johnson's eight-volume

edition of Shakespeare's plays. This essay follows



verschiedenen V61olkern. da er qebliihet. Berlin 1775
(No. 1775) and Vom Erkennen und Empfinden der
menschlichen Seele. Bemerkungen und Traume. Riga
1788, a work on dreams and the soul, (NO. 1313).









63
Pope in criticism of various details and methods in

Shakespeare's works. Johnson confirms and enlarges

Dryden's patriotic views regarding the serio-comic

genre, and he declares Shakespeare to be "above all

writers, at least above all modern writers, the poet

of nature; the poet that holds up to his readers a

faithful mirror of manners and of life." Nature

equates to human nature, as it does throughout the

enlightenment, and Johnson admires "practical axioms

and domestic wisdom" and believes "that from his

works may be collected a system of civil and

economical prudence." Johnson was convinced that:

"Nothing can please many and please long, but just

representations of general nature." Shakespeare's

ability to create characters "which are the genuine

progeny of common humanity," revealed him therefore

as a poet in the original sense of the word, a

maker.8

When he talks of Ophelia, Kreuzgang evaluates

Shakespeare in the same terms. After "the mighty

hand of Shakespeare, that second creator, had seized

her violently," he witnesses at first with critical

and later with passionate fascination a



8 Ed. Adams, "Preface to Shakespeare", pp. 329-
336, p. 330.








64

"transformation of the real into a poetic person"

(p.199).

Johnson's "Preface to Shakespeare" became a

touchstone of English literary criticism. It was not

much noted in Germany,9 but it left traces in

Lichtenberg's satirical attacks on literary and

intellectual abuses. The best known of these, "On

Physiognomy against the Physiognomists" (1778), is

preceded by a quotation from Henry V (Act 11,2) and

he uses also various examples from Antony and

Cleopatra,10 plays which Johnson had singled out in

his "Preface."

Never content with mere citation, Lichtenberg

merges comments from both works to express his own

praise of Shakespeare, "who was able to combine for

his purpose distant concepts, which perhaps never

before had met in a human mind, and who could call


9 In the 69. Part of the Hamburgische
Dramaturgie, which was published in December 1767,
Lessing does not mention Johnson by name, but
attributes to "one of our most recent writers" the
view that Shakespeare has been censured for his
tragi-comic vein, though this should instead be
regarded as a virtue, as it imitates the natural
process of human existence. Besides the English
claims for priority in this field--championed by
Dryden and Johnson--Lessing acknowledges the strong
Spanish influences on the mixed genre, and draws
especial attention to Lope de Vega's satiric New Art
of Comedy Writing. Lessings samtliche Schriften, Vol.
X, pp. 77-78.

10 Promies, Vol. III, "uber Physiognomik; wider
die Physiognomen." pp. 256-95, pp. 256, 279, 281.










the world an 0 and finally the stage a wooden O," a

view which equates the world with nothing.11

Lichtenberg demonstrates here a technique which

Bartenschlager finds especially characteristic for

Bonaventura,12 and also shows his thorough

familiarity with a tradition which is not only

important to Shakespeare's imagery, but is an

integral part of tragi-comic writing, especially of

menippean satires from Lucian onwards.13


11 Promies, Vol.111, p. 279. Lichtenberg
amalgamated Antony and Cleopatra, V, 2: "His face was
as the heavens; and therein stuck/ A sun and moon,
which kept their course, and lighted/ The little 0,
the earth," and Henry V, Chorus,I: "can this cockpit
hold/ The vasty fields of France? or may we cram/
Within this wooden 0 the very casques/ That did
affright the air at Agincourt?"
12 Bartenschlager, p. 359: "Das bisher Gesagte
zeigt den strengen Perspektivismus des
Nachtwachendichters in der Wahl seiner Shakespeare-
Motive und ihre kunstvolle Integration in die
Weltsicht des Protagonisten, durch Auswahl,
Teilidentifizierung, Kontrastierung, Parodie und
originelle Umwandlungen verschiedener Art."
13 Lucian. "Icaromenippus" in Towards
Excellence. Ed. Vincent Milosevich (New York:
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973), e.g. p. 23: "some
relieve the Gods of all care, as we relieve the
superannuated of their civic duties; in fact, they
treat them exactly like supernumeraries on the
stage;" p. 27: "Well, friend, such are the earthly
dancers; the life of man is just such a discordant
performance; not only are the voices jangled, but the
steps are not uniform, the motions not concerted, the
objectives not agreed upon--until the impresario
dismisses them one by one from the stage, with a "not
wanted;" p. 32: "their model is the tragic actor,
from whom if you strip off the mask and the gold-
spangled robe, there is nothing left but a paltry
fellow hired for a few shillings to play a part."









66
When Kreuzgang speaks of "Cleopatra's flower

basket, among the roses of which the poisonous snake

lay in wait" (p. 69), he refers to the same scene in

Antony and Cleopatra from which Lichtenberg took the

simile of life, seen as an empty stage. By filling

the basket of figs with flowers,14 Bonaventura

moulds the metaphor closer to his own purpose and to

the German environment in which Kreuzgang operates.

Just before the entrance of the "rural fellow"--

one of Shakespeare's tragic clowns--Cleopatra has

envisaged her fate in captivity as that of an

"Egyptian puppet," and she fears that there "the

quick comedians extemporarily will stage us." The

clown delivers the fatal basket with a melancholy

discourse on worms and death, the gods and the devil.

The fifth act of Antony and Cleopatra abounds in the

key words which permeate the Niqhtwatches.

Bartenschlager regards as "the sum of the plays

of which Kreuzgang takes note: Hamlet, Lear, Macbeth,

with a reference to the Tempest and possibly also to

Troilus and Cressida." All are plays which deal with

primary concerns of the nightwatchman, and the first






14 Act V, Sc. II: Guard: "Here is a rural
fellow he brings you figs."









67

three made a lasting impression on Lichtenberg, while

he was in England.15

The allusions to the Tempest and to Troilus and

Cressida occur when Kreuzgang compares the antique

ideal of beauty with an ugly reality, exemplified by

Caliban and Thersites (p. 195). Thersites in Troilus

and Cressida is, according to Robert C. Elliot,

"unquestionably the greatest master of scurrilous

abuse among characters of this type" in Shakespeare;

a pharmakos who suffers for the evils of the

community; a provoker, a "railer who is privileged to

abuse whom he will;" a figure with general traits for

which Thersites has been metonymic since Homer.16

Kreuzgang with his sarcastic despair is one of his

descendants.

The mocking and bitter aspects of Shakespeare's

fools, which the acerbic Thersites represents, occupy

the center stage in Timon of Athens. The Greek

satirist Lucian of Samosata had devoted one of his

Dialogues to Timon, and Robert C. Elliot sees

Shakespeare approach closest to satire in this play.

He counts Shakespeare's Timon with Moliere's Alceste

15 Bartenschlager, p. 359; Ed. Gumbert,
Lichtenbercg in England, Vol. II, p. 274.
16 Robert C. Elliot, The Power of Satire: Magic,
Ritual. Art (Princeton: Princeton University Press,
1960), pp. 136-39.









68
and Swift's Gulliver among "the great misanthropes of

literature: a satirist satirized, with "full

cognizance of the dreadful power of the extreme."

Humour, though much of it bitter and even invective,

softens the impact of human limitations and

imperfections in this black comedy. Yet "the

denunciation of man is frightfully powerful and it

stands.",,17

This basic attitude is not the only reminiscence

of Timon in the Nightwatches. A central symbol in

Timon is "eating roots," which epitomizes reliance on

nature rather than on the fickleness of man. Already

in Act I, Sc. II Apemantus, a churlish philosopher

and a more stoic double or alter ego of Timon,

declares at the end of an apostrophe to the immortal

gods: "Rich men sin, and I eat root." Moderation,

frugality and self-sufficiency are the virtues which

he wants to promote by this symbolic action. Timon

learns to aspire to these virtues only in Act IV,

when he has lost his immense riches and with them his

sycophantic friends, and decides to retreat into the

wilderness of self-imposed exile. Cursing the earth,

asking for universal discord by imploring that

"twinned brothers of one womb" should be set against

each other through different fortunes, (an event of


17 Elliot, p. 167.








69

which the Fourth and Fifth Nightwatches tell), he

finally calls out "Earth, yield me roots" (Act IV,

Sc. III). While he digs he finds a treasure of gold,

but finally recognizing and despising its potential

for evil he casts it aside and persists in looking

for roots. When thieves beset him, he advises them:

"Why should you want? Behold the earth hath roots."

"That nature, being sick of man's unkindness/

Should yet be hungry!" he exclaims and then

apostrophises nature in the words which Kreuzgang

uses repeatedly: "Common Mother thou," and he

implores nature to

yield him, who all thy human sons doth hate
From forth thy plenteous bosom one poor root.
(Act IV, Sc.III)

Equivalent events occur in the Fifteenth

Nightwatch. After one of his misanthropic outbursts

of "aggravated hatred for all the men of reason" (p.

217) Kreuzgang calls himself, like Timon, a beggar

and rejoices that "the earth still had roots in her

lap which she did not deny," and calls her "this

ancient mother" (p. 219). The root he digs out

constitutes the only sustenance of which he partakes

during a narration abounding in metaphors of eating

and digestion. Further indication of the symbolic

nature of this meagre meal is a preceding reference

to Horace's advice in the letter to the Piso Family








70
"to unite the useful with the pleasurable", for it

breaks the illusion of a romantic enjoyment of nature

by drawing attention to deliberate artistic devices.

Like the Niqhtwatches, Timon of Athens ends on a

note of despair. Timon dies, declaring

oxymoronically, and with significance for the last

words in the Nightwatches: "My long sickness of

health and living now begins to mend and nothing

brings me all things." This "nothing," reminiscent of

Kreuzgang's final words, is one of the many uses of

the word in Shakespeare.

Timon promises that his gravestone will be an

oracle to those who survive him (Act V, Sc. I). After

some difficulties in deciphering the words, his

epitaph is finally found to declare

Here lies a wretched corse, of wretched soul
bereft;
Seek not my name; a plague consume the wicked
caitiffs left!
Here lie I, Timon; who alive all living men did
hate:
Pass by and curse thy fill; but pass and stay
not here thy gait.
(Act V, c. III)

Elliot interprets "Timon's last words from out

the nothingness he coveted" as a snarl.18 They

contain, however, several indications which leave

room for optimism: body and soul are taken as

separable and only temporarily united entities, and

18 Elliot, p. 160.









71
death is therefore bereft of finality; and the twice

repeated exhortation "pass" implies that a better

place can be reached by those who are prepared to

move on. Shakespeare sows these seeds of hope almost

imperceptibly and they can be easily cast aside or

overlooked, and Bonaventura hides his clues with

similar care.

The Niqhtwatches also tell of hidden treasure,

but there is a change of emphasis from Timon: instead

of sterile metal a young child is found, unencumbered

by any worldly possessions but "already a quite

complete citizen of the world" (p. 61). Goethe's

ballad Der Schatzgraber (1798) a genie similarly

conveyed the message that life and active endeavour,

not gold, constitute real riches. Bonaventura does

not deliver such advice; he relies on hints and

implications, and expects the reader to find a

meaningful pattern in them, as he will have to do in

reality, if he desires life to make sense.19

The Fifth Nightwatch ends with Timon's wish,

that two "brothers of one womb" should be divided by

strife and scorn each other (Act IV, Sc. III). Their


19 The Christian child-symbol was secularized by
the romantics, as epitomized in the painting of
Philipp Otto Runge (1777-1810): Der Morgen (1805).
Kreuzgang's symbolic conception during Christmas
night affirms the allegorical character of his family
history.









72

catastrophe compresses in a few paragraphs the

complicated intrigues of Othello, with lago's

fabrication and manipulation of misleading evidence,

and the desperate regret of the husband, who

understands the truth too late and follows the murder

of an innocent wife with suicide. The melodramatic

aspects of this scenario are subordinated to the

human paradox that loss or threatened loss

intensifies the wish to possess, and enhances what is

otherwise not valued enough. Bonaventura writes:

Ponce only awoke when she died, and now for
the first time he seemed to love, because he had
lost love, and to feel a loving heart so as to
pierce it through. (p. 97)

The gory end is left to the imagination of the

reader: "Silently he was remarried with Ines," and

the full extent of the tragedy is merely mirrored in

the survivor's reaction: "Don Juan stood mute and

insane among the dead."

The opinion that life attains its value through

the fear of death was shared by Lichtenberg with

Shakespeare and recurs in the Nightwatches. Among

his first notebook entries Lichtenberg claimed: "To

make us more receptive to our good luck when it is

losing some of its lustre we have to imagine that it

has been lost and that we had received it only this

very moment" (A 72). This thought he presented later









73

in a polished and often quoted aphorism: "Lasting

luck looses lustre merely by its length" (F 6).

In Much Ado About Nothing it is the Friar, the

exponent of moderation and good sense, who offers

this insight:

That what we have we prize not to the worth
While we enjoy it; but being lacked and lost,
Why, then we rack the value, then we find
The virtue that possession would not show us
While it was ours. (Act IV, Sc.I)

This bitter comedy presents tragic themes, but

transposes them into a key that allows a lighthearted

final solution, as if to demonstrate the arbitrary

fickleness of life. While in Othello Shakespeare

dispenses with comic relief, he varies the theme with

the lago-like traitor Don John in Much Ado About

Nothing, which has tomb scenes reminiscent of Romeo

and Juliet, misunderstandings and pretended death,

and hovers dangerously close to real tragedy. The

constant masking and unmasking creates no

lighthearted or festive spirit, but rather an

atmosphere of uncertainty where happiness or horror

can gain the upper hand at any moment, and may result

in bliss or destruction according to the whim of

circumstances. Bitter love and "enraged affection"

(Act II, Sc.III) add to the ambivalence as they do in

Kreuzgang's intense and unromantic wooing.









74

The play also contains a group of nightwatchmen

led by their constable Dogberry, whose blundering

ignorance mingles with sound instinct, and

paradoxically solves enigmas which confound shrewder

minds. His instructions foreshadow some of the

decisions Kreuzgang takes on his nightly rounds, as

for instance, when Dogberry counsels: "If you meet a

thief, you may suspect him, by virtue of your office,

to be no true man; and, for such kind of men, the

less you meddle or make with them, why, the more is

for your honesty" (Act III, Sc. III). When Kreuzgang

makes a similar decision he seems as whimsical and

ineffective as Dogberry, but he too, like

Shakespeare, is commenting on the helplessness of

well-meaning people faced with the injustice of this

world.

Dogberry's conclusions are distilled from

experience, as well as from his own peculiar logic

and thus he leaves his men with the exhortation: "The

watch ought to offend no man; and it is an offence to

stay a man against his will." The men respond by

deciding to "sit here upon the church-bench till two,

and then all to bed," an example followed by

Kreuzgang. "Among the favorite places in which I am

accustomed to stop during my nightwatches," he









75

reports, "belongs the ledge in the old Gothic

cathedral" (p.59).

On his second visit to England, Lichtenberg

recorded that he had seen Much Ado About Nothing on

December 10th, 1774, with the actor John Lee in the

lead. Less than a year later, on November 7th, 1775,

he noted that he had seen Garrick as Benedick for the

seventh time. He had been to Othello during his

first and shorter stay in England, and when he came

to London next in 1774/75 he saw King Lear, Macbeth,

and Hamlet repeatedly.20

The fame of London theatrical life, and in

particular of its most celebrated actor, David

Garrick (1717-79), had spread to Germany, and

visitors were eager to bring back news of his

outstanding performances. On his second visit to

England, Lichtenberg was able to see the admired

actor, now very near the end of his career, in

several of his most famous roles, and on October

15th, 1775, he was introduced to him by the favorite

page of his host in London, the King. Garrick paid








20 Ed. Gumbert, Lichtenberq in England, Vol. II,
pp. 58, 196, and 274.









76

him the compliment to declare that he had never heard

a foreigner speak so free of accent.21

Admiration for Garrick's brilliance led

Lichtenberg to analyse not only the craft by which he

achieved his effects on the stage, but also the roles

in which he starred. As Garrick specialised in

expressing even minute and detailed changes in human

thoughts and motivation, Hamlet became the part with

which he was most identified. Lichtenberg saw him

twice in this character. When his friend in

Gottingen, the Anglophile Christian Heinrich Boie

(1744-1806), asked for an account of this experience,

Lichtenberg produced a penetrating analysis of

Garrick's craft, and centered his report on the

Hamlet performance.

Boie was an influential critic himself, and the

editor of the journal Deutsches Museum, which

contributed much to the formation of German public

opinion in literary matters. Altogether Lichtenberg

wrote three letters for his friend, and in his usual

thorough manner not only described the actor for whom

the readers had indicated so much interest, but also

the plays in which he excelled and even the whole



21 Ed. Joost, Briefwechsel, Vol. I, p. 569,
Letter No. 289 to Johann Andreas Schernhagen, Oct.
16, 1775.









77

English theatrical scene, as the background which

made his perfection possible.

To gain a better understanding of the reasons

for Garrick's outstanding success, Lichtenberg also

went to watch the actor Henderson as Hamlet.22 The

letters show passionate interest in the plays, and

demonstrate the importance of Garrick for the growth

of general interest in Shakespeare.23 The precise

and almost cinematic descriptions are the best record

of Garrick's acting techniques which has ever come to

light.24

The influence of Hamlet on German literature

became considerable, especially after Goethe

integrated the role into the educational scheme of

his Bildunasroman, Wilhelm Meister, on which he

started work after Lichtenberg's letters appeared in

the Deutsches Museum. Goethe's ideas on Hamlet, and

the stage direction which Wilhelm Meister envisages


22 Ed. Joost, Briefwechsel, Vol. I, p. 802,
Letter No. 475.
23 Lichtenberg's Visits to England As Described
in his Letters and Diaries. Tr. and annot. Margaret
L. Mare and W. H. Quarrell. Oxford Studies in Modern
Languages and Literature (1938; New York: Benjamin
Blom, 1969).
24 George W. Stone, Jr. and George M. Kahrl,
David Garrick. A Critical Biography (Southern
Illinois University Press, 1979), p. 485.









78
for the part,25 are so consistent with Lichtenberg's

report in the Second Letter that Goethe's views must

have been influenced either by Lichtenberg or else by

other accounts of Garrick's acting.

Goethe's discourse on Hamlet in Wilhelm Meister

aroused much enthusiasm for the play in Germany and

exerted strong influence on romantic writers.

Wilhelm Meister is therefore mentioned by Klaus

Bartenschlager as a source of inspiration for the

Nightwatches. Though Bartenschlager discusses the

work in a romantic context and arrives at a

nihilistic interpretation, his overall conclusions

are surprisingly compatible with the author profile

of Lichtenberg. He notes particularly Bonaventura's

exceptional handling of quotes and references, which

cause him to call the Niqhtwatches "a literary echo-

gallery in which references and allusions--with and

without indication of sources--abound." Accordingly,

a particular trademark of the author is that

"Shakespeare is not discussed or merely quoted, but

integrated into the narrative perspective and

functionalised creatively for the narration." As an

example of this technique, the metonymic use of the


25 Goethes Werke. Ed. by command of the Grand
Duchess Sophia of Saxony (Weimar: Hermann Bohlaus
Nachfolger, 1899), Vol. XXII, Wilhelm Meister, Book
IV, Chap. xiii, pp. 73 ff.









79
three witches in Macbeth is given; they are evoked to

describe the fearful apparitions disturbing the

dignity of the freethinker's death in the Second

Nightwatch. Bartenschlager comments: "After

Bonaventura has chosen the analogy of the Macbeth-

witches, associations seem to crowd in on him."26

Lichtenberg was an avid advocate of associative

thought, and he had studied David Hartley's theories

in this field in some depth, as they were propagated

by his friend Joseph Priestley.27 Talking of himself

in the third person, Lichtenberg vividly describes

his habit of thinking in associations:

Before anyone can even recite the Lord's Prayer
he can enumerate ten aspects [of a problem], his
thoughts arrive as if brought to him by a
hobgoblin. (D 120)

The full extent of these associations was always

difficult to comprehend, as Lichtenberg's

comprehensive knowledge exceeded that of most of his

contemporaries, and it cannot easily be recovered

26 Bartenschlager, p. 349, p. 353.

27 David Hartley (1705-57) attributes the
evolution of higher concepts to association of basic
ideas. His Observations on Man, his Frame, his Duty.
and his Expectations was published in 1749, but
acquired a wider readership when Priestley edited and
republished it in 1774 as Hartley's theory of the
human mind on the principle of the association of
ideas with essays relating to the subject of it.
After his return from the second sojourn in England,
Lichtenberg's Notebook E shows intensive reading of
this work, E 453 ff.








80

now, when so much of the eighteenth-century

epistemology is no longer generally accessible. But

where it is possible to follow Lichtenberg's thoughts

in some detail, their depth is shown to derive from

the habitual comparing and super-imposing of various

ideas, and by this method he manipulates common

concepts to yield multifaceted meaning. Bonaventura

masters the same technique, and it enables him to say

much with an exceptional economy of words. The

Macbeth-witches are a case in point.

On his nocturnal rounds Kreuzgang notices "three

figures creeping like carnival masks along the

churchyard wall." Notwithstanding a hint of

carnival, a sinister impression is created by a

preceding flash of lightning as well as by the

cemetery location, and the feeling of doom is

confirmed when "the three had dissolved into the air

like Macbeth's witches" (p. 39). Later "the air cast

bubbles, and the three Macbeth ghosts were suddenly

visible again, as if the storm wind had whirled them

there by their pates. The lightning illuminated

twisted devil's masks and snaky hair and the whole

hellish contrivance" (pp. 41 and 43).

Paucity of invention can hardly account for the

repetition of a metaphor by an author of Bonavenura's

complexity, especially as the second passage









81

demonstrates that when he uses few words it is not

for want of finding apt expressions. According to

Boswell, Johnson said of Shakespeare's witches: "They

are beings of his own creation; they are a compound

of malignity and meanness, without any abilities."28

These negative qualities characterize exactly the

evil apparitions in the Nightwatches and their

mixture of destructiveness and intellectual

impotence. To consider such passages in tandem is

like reading the text through a three-dimensional

viewer: it yields a depth of perception which remains

hidden from the unaided eye. Bonaventura uses the

insights accumulated by Shakespeare and Johnson to

gain access to an enlarged view of existence, but he

directs the focus onto new and different aspects.

This "strong perspectivism" is commended by

Bartenschlager, who notices that only such

Shakespearean motifs are used as are compatible with

Kreuzgang's philosophy. Such emphasis is achieved by

"selection, partial integration, contrasting, parody

and various quite original variations."29 All these

devices unite to create new issues out of

Shakespeare's plays in which, however, Hamlet is

constantly discernible as the dominant voice.

28 Boswell, p. 1017.

29 Bartenschlager, p. 359.








82

Hermann Michel saw in this leitmotif a borrowing from

Hamlet.30 Bonaventura, however, does not lift ideas

from other authors without thorough scrutiny; and

during the process he transforms and revises what he

has found. Consequently Kreuzgang does not quote

Hamlet, but relives relevant aspects of his

experience, and thus the references to Shakespeare

are code-words which can be used to understand

Kreuzgang's deeper motives and aims.

The information that Kreuzgang "was once playing

Hamlet, as guest role, in a court theatre" (p.199)

seems inconsistent with the casual aside that he also

"limped by nature and did not have the best

appearance" (p. 53). The role-playing should

therefore be accepted on a higher level, where it can

explain various of the nightwatchman's rather

confusing characteristics, such as his intellectual

and ineffectual reactions to evil, his self-analysing

despair of the world and of his own indecisive

helplessness, his dread of the unknown beyond the

grave, his unsatisfied need to understand what is

going on around him and what part he should take in

the proceedings.

Kreuzgang's reactions to the ills of the world,

or rather his lack of them, find their explanation in


30 Michel, Einleitung, pp. xxviii-xxix.









83

Hamlet's words when these are taken in their

entirety. The few hints and quotations in the text

of the Nightwatches act merely as signposts to the

fuller information which is contained in

Shakespeare's works. Like the doomed Prince of

Denmark, Kreuzgang is basically an idealist with a

rational, sophisticated mind which perceives with

uncompromising clarity the wrongs of the world. But

at the same time his thoughtfulness prevents him from

attempting any remedial action, for his exceptional

intelligence recognizes clearly that the results of

any human enterprise, however well meant and planned,

are destined to elude human control. Hamlet's

introspective anguish and emotional conflicts are

therefore as much a part of the nightwatchman's

nature as his consequent alienation from his fellow

men, for they regard as madness what in truth is a

form of higher, though frustrated and impotent

wisdom.

Shakespeare furnishes rich examples of those

types of madness which constitute extreme states of

the human mind. This dimension of his work is

highlighted when Kreuzgang is confined to the lunatic

asylum, for he assumes the pseudonym Hamlet for an

exchange of letters with the love of his life, who in

turn has so intensely identified herself with the









84
role of Ophelia that she has assumed the name and

gone mad herself. Unconventional love letters result

and are presented in the Fourteenth Nightwatch. The

unexpected change in genre baffled critics until Rita

Terras found a correspondence between the structure

of the Nightwatches and Juvenal, who employs the

epistolary form in his Twelfth and Thirteenth

Satire.31 In the tightly structured context of

Kreuzgang's self-revelations, the parallel should be

considered as an indication that the letters are to

be read in a satirical, self-mocking context and that

the world of Juvenal is never far from the author's

mind.

A connection like this removes the love affair

with a crazed actress in the lunatic asylum from

grotesque melodrama to the menippean realm of a

search for absolute truth and final meaning, while

the names under which the correspondence is conducted

alert the reader to interpret Bonavnetura with

Shakespeare in mind. At the same time this role-

playing reinforces a leitmotif of the menippean

tradition, that the world is a stage on which

everybody has been allotted a part without being

given a choice in the selection. Shakespeare has

varied this metaphor again and again; the best known


31 Rita Terras, p. 25.









85

version is delivered by Jaques, the fool in As You

Like It, which Lichtenberg saw performed in London on

October 18, 1775:

All the world's a stage,
And all men and women merely players;
They have their exits and entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts.
(Act II, Sc. VII)

Following this famed statement Jaques traces man's

transformation from hopeful infant through youth and

manhood to the "pantaloon," the fool, and finally to

his "second childishness and mere oblivion/sans

teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything," thus

paraphrasing the "nothing" with which Kreuzgang's own

narration comes to an end.

The constant allusions to Shakespeare in the

Nightwatches alert the reader to the nature of

Kreuzgang's predicament. He is not wrestling with

purely personal problems, but with questions which

have agitated profound minds throughout history, and

for which Shakespeare has found the most vivid and

memorable, and at the same time generally accessible

expression.

Kreuzgang approaches the quest freshly and with

some new insights, notably from Kant's critical

inquiries into the potential of the human mind, which

are especially evoked in the exchange of letters with

Ophelia. As such profound questions admit of no









86
definite responses, he cannot be expected to advance

further than Shakespeare, and therefore follows

Jaques' conclusions:

It is all role, the role itself and the
playactor who is behind it, and in him in turn
his thoughts and plans and enthusiasm and
buffooneries--all belong to the moment
and swiftly flee, like the word on the
comedian's lips. (p. 209)

When he concludes his last letter: "Love me, in a

word, without further pondering," (p. 211) the

seeming flippancy reveals in fact the wisdom which

recognizes love as the one experience by which man

can transcend his isolation in space and time.32

The epistolary interpolation in the Fourteenth

Nightwatch provides one of the numerous examples of

Bonaventura's virtuosity in blending ideas from the

full range of sources from which Western civilisation

drew its inspiration and strength. This creative

approach to outstanding works of the intellect

accords with the precepts of the enlightenment which

Lichtenberg endeavoured to promote. To him the

inevitable prerequisite for meaningful artistic


32 Cf. Eccl. IX, 9: "Live joyfully with the wife
whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy
vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all
the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in
this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under
the sun." Like Shakespeare's insights, those of
Ecclesiastes also run consistently through the
Nichtwatches.









87

achievement was familiarity with the views held by

the great thinkers of all ages, combined with

personal probing into the methods by which they

arrived at their conclusions. These he wanted

constantly tested, for he agreed with Johnson in the

"Preface to Shakespeare"

What mankind have long possessed thy have often
examined and compared; and if they persist to
value the possession, it is because frequent
comparisons have confirmed opinion in its
favour.

Shakespeare, that "comprehensive genius" as Johnson

calls him,33 is constantly used in the Nightwatches

as a touchstone with which Kreuzgang tests the

validity of his own opinions.

Bartenschlager describes the work as somber, and

as the most nihilistic prose work of the German

Romantic Epoch, as well as that of the greatest

genius.34 Its romantic and despairing elements are,

however, already present in Shakespeare, especially

in those works which are quoted or alluded to by

Kreuzgang, who knows and uses them in the

assimilatory way which Lichtenberg recommended and

practiced.



33 Ed. Adams, "Preface to Shakespeare,"
pp. 329, 336.

34 Bartenschlager, p. 347.









88

Most of the plays which are worked into the

fabric of the Nightwatches were made memorable to

Lichtenberg through the sensitive interpretations of

Garrick, and he wrote about this experience: "To act

like Garrick and to write like Shakespeare are the

effects of very deep-seated causes." He elaborated

this thought at various times, for he wanted to

recommend the art of these men as an example to those

idealistic young German writers who expected genius

to inspire them as if they were possessed and without

much effort on their part. He therefore stressed

about Garrick:

Almost all the newer English authors, who are so
much read, imitated, and aped by us, were his
friends. He helped form them, while they in
their turn helped to form him. Man was his
study, from the cultured and artificial denizens
of the salons of St. James, down to the savage
creatures in the eating-houses of St. Giles. He
attended the same school as Shakespeare, and
like the latter, did not wait for inspiration,
but worked hard (for in England all is not left
to genius, but worked hard for); by this school
I mean London, where a man with such a talent
for observation can learn as much by experience
in a year as in a whole lifetime spent in some
little town, where all have the same hopes and
fears, the same subjects for wonder and gossip
and nothing is out of the ordinary.35

As Lichtenberg shared the eighteenth-century

belief that literature is the repository of man's

accumulated wisdom, he regarded all its


35 Ed. Mare, Lichtenberg's Visits to England,
pp. 11, 8.








89

manifestations with seriousness. His certainty about

the importance of literature turned him into one of

the first and foremost who saw the inherent dangers

in German idealism, which centered more and more on

grand and sublime concepts and progressively lost

touch with reality.

The literary controversies into which this

attitude involved him vibrate through various parts

of the Niqchtwatches, notably in the "Dithyramb on

Spring" (p. 189), and in passages where the

playwrights Iffland and Kotzebue are ridiculed. One

such text follows directly on an exclamation in which

Kreuzgang couples Hamlet's famous question "To be or

not to be" with an invocation of the devil, showing

that even when Bonaventura uses common expletives he

remains conscious of literary precedent, for

Shakespeare often uses the devil to indicate

spontaneous or emphatic speech.

Hamlet, for instance, when reminded that his

father died four months ago and that it is time to

cease mourning, calls out: "Nay then, let the devil

wear black, for I'll have a suit of sables" (Act III,

Sc. II). The effect of that single dark figure among

colourful courtiers is vividly described by

Lichtenberg. The stranger in black, the enigmatic

"tall manly figure, wrapped in a cloak" who "strode









90
through the arch and stood on a grave stone" in the

Fourth Nightwatch (p. 76), brings Hamlet to mind all

the more, as Kreuzgang continues:

I always step before an alien unusual human life
with the same feelings as before a curtain
behind which a Shakespearean drama is to be
produced; and I like it best if the former as
well as the latter is a tragedy, for, besides
genuine seriousness, I can suffer only tragic
jest and such fools as in King Lear; precisely
because these alone are truly audacious and
carry on their clownery en qros, and without
regard, over the whole of human life. (p. 67)

As Kreuzgang himself identifies with Hamlet,

projection of that figure onto another character

should be an indication that Kreuzgang sees himself,

or part of himself, in the strangers he meets during

his watch. He achieves the association by various

means. When he introduces the poet he tells of

having been just such a poet himself (p. 31), in

other cases the connections are more circumspect.

When he calls a vagrant, of whom nothing else is told

but that he is dying in poverty and solitude, a

Joseph, whom "the brothers have cast out," it must

be remembered that Kreuzgang sees himself as such a

Joseph figure, spurned by others for the superior

qualities of his intellect. He watches as this

pathetic "beggar with neither house nor home fights

against slumber, which wants to lay him so sweetly

and enticingly in death's arms," and his fear of

consequences prevents him from interference. It is









91
then that he repeats Hamlet's question: "Shall I

cheat death of a beggarly life? By the devil, I

really do not know what is better--to be or not to

be!" (p. 159). Hamlet, in the same predicament

decided for life, because he feared that existence

after death might be worse. Kreuzgang elected to let

the beggar die, for "the brothers are not worthy that

Joseph walk among them!--Let him sleep away." With

Hamlet's situation in mind, his judgement would

indicate at least a strong hope for a better

existence after death, though like Hamlet, Kreuzgang

cannot be absolutely sure and thus leaves the

question open.

Such associations abound in the text, but they

are not revealed at first sight or by casual reading,

just as it is not likely that the beginning of the

Nightwatches will immediately be identified with the

first scene of Hamlet. Yet in both works a

nightwatch establishes the dark and sombre mood in

which the plot is to unfold, in both a watchman

starts his round of duty, and a ghost is almost

instantly mentioned.

Kreuzgang introduces spectres in a seemingly

irrelevant aside, remarking that he has protected

himself "against the evil spirits with the sign of

the cross" (p. 29). Lichtenberg shared an interest




Full Text
THE INFLUENCE OF THE ENGLISH EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY
SATIRISTS ON G. CH. LICHTENBERG AND
THE NACHTWACHEN. VON BONAVENTURA
BY
A. J. DIETLINDE KATRITZKY
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS
FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
1988
iMBtelTY OF FLORIDA LIBRARIES

Copyright 1988
by
A. J. Dietlinde Katritzky

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
For this, my late second opportunity to enter
academia, I am indebted to the American university
system, and in particular to the College of Liberal
Arts and Sciences at the University of Florida; to
its Dean Dr. Charles F. Sidman, and to the many
professors, colleagues and friends there, who have
helped and encouraged me over the past seven years.
My special thanks go to the Department of
Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures where I
started my research on Lichtenberg and the
Nachtwachen in 1983 under the guidance of Dr.
Christian J. Gellinek, where Dr. Hal Rennert always
provided helpful advice, and where the new chairman,
Dr. Alexander Stephan, gave much-appreciated counsel
and backing.
In 1984 I was fortunate enough to be accepted,
together with my research interests, by the
Department of English. I wish to express my deep
gratitude to its Chairman Dr. Melvyn New, and to Dr.
Richard E. Brantley, Dr. Alistair M. Duckworth, and
Dr. Brian R. McCrea, not only for agreeing to serve
on my committee, but also for providing me with new
iii

and valuable perspectives on my work. The interest
these specialists in English eighteenth-century
literature took in G. Ch. Lichtenberg was a great
encouragement to my belief in the close affinity
between Lichtenberg, the Nachtwachen and English
satire. During my long searches for relevant links
my chairman, Dr. Brian R. McCrea, gave unstintingly
of his time and expertise: he patiently read numerous
drafts, and always provided penetrating and
constructive comments.
I also thank Dr. Sidney R. Homan, Jr. , for his
helpful reading of my chapter on Shakespeare, and
Donald Ball for drawing my attention to M. Bakhtin
and his theory of the menippea.
Grateful acknowledgement is due to the
Lichtenberg-Gesellschaft, its Chairman Dr. Wolfgang
Promies and, among other members, Dr. Peter Brix, Dr.
Fritz Ebner, Dr. Hans Ludwig Gumbert, Ulrich Joost,
Drs. Georg Christoph and Astrid Lichtenberg, to Otto
Weber and Werner Wegmann. While not all are yet
convinced by my hypothesis, everybody was most
helpful and supportive.
I am also indebted for valuable help in locating
documents and references to Mr. N. H. Robinson,
Librarian to the Royal Society of London, to Mr.
iv

Helmut Drubba, Hannover, and to Dr. Horst Fleig,
Tübingen.
Dr. James A. Deyrup, who initiated me into the
mysteries of word processing, and who repeatedly
rescued me with remarkable patience and good humor
from seemingly desperate situations, deserves special
commendation.
Last, not least, I thank my husband, Dr. Alan R.
Katritzky, for advice and active support with
research problems, and for putting up cheerfully—
most of the time—with life with a graduate student.
v

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS iii
ABSTRACT VÜ
INTRODUCTION: PROBLEM AND PROPOSAL 1
CHAPTERS
I.GEORG CHRISTOPH LICHTENBERG:
HIS LIBRARY AND READING 18
II.WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (1564-1616)
IN AN EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY CONTEXT 58
III.WILLIAM HOGARTH (1697-1764) AND VISUAL
CONCEPTION IN THE NIGHTWATCHES 94
IV.ROBERT BURTON (1577-1640)
AND THE SATIRIC TRADITION OF ENGLISH
LITERATURE IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY... 128
V.JONATHAN SWIFT (1667-1745)
AND THE SATIRIC TECHNIQUES
OF LICHTENBERG AND BONAVENTURA 162
VI.ALEXANDER POPE (1688-1744)
AND THE SCRIBLERIANS 210
VII.THE NINTH NIGHTWATCH.
A DIGRESSION ON MADNESS, A DUNCIAD,
AND A SATIRE ON THE SOCRATIC DIALOGUE.. 246
VIII.HENRY FIELDING (1707-54)
DOUBLE VISION AND MULTIPLE PERSPECTIVES.283
IX.LAURENCE STERNE (1713-68)
AND KREUZGANG'S LIFE AND OPINIONS 326
CONCLUSION 373
BIBLIOGRAPHY 384
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 397
vi

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate
School of the University of Florida in Partial
Fulfillment of the Requirements for the
Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
THE INFLUENCE OF THE ENGLISH EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY
SATIRISTS ON G. CH. LICHTENBERG AND
THE NACHTWACHEN. VON BONAVENTURA
By
A. J. Dietlinde Katritzky
August 1988
Chairman: Brian R. McCrea
Major Department: English
In 1804 the Nachtwachen. Von Bonaventura was
published anonymously in Germany. Hardly noticed at
first, the slender volume has attracted increasing
acclaim and critical attention. Uneasily assigned to
the romantic period, it was attributed to a large
number of possible, and often mutually incompatible
authors alive and active in 1804.
Striking parallels exist, however, between
Bonaventura and G. Ch. Lichtenberg's variously and
extensively documented thought processes. If
attributed to Lichtenberg (1742-99), and analysed
from the viewpoint of his literary values and habits,
the penumbral world of the Nachtwachen is illuminated
by the enlightened concerns of the eighteenth
century, and in turn reflects German and English
intellectual life and development during that period.
vii

Lichtenberg was an active participator and catalyst
in this important cultural interchange, and his
appreciation of contemporary English literature was
based on a thorough knowledge of the English
tradition. In this study I attempt to demonstrate
that Bonaventura shared this background.
Comparison with the English eighteenth-century
satirists shows that the Nachtwachen are a menippea,
a sub-species of the satire, which evolved in
antiquity from the Socratic tradition. While satire
is mainly concerned with criticism of present
conditions, menippean satire refrains from attacking
singular events or particular situations, and
questions basic problems. It deals with life in the
universal sense, its proper conduct, purpose and
ultimate eschatological consequences. The menippea
can therefore be defined as serio-comic summary of
mankind's philosophical achievement, and as such was
particularly congenial to the Age of Enlightenment.
To reflect the human condition in its entirety,
the menippea incorporates extremes which range in
style from formal rhetoric to vulgarisms, and in
subject matter from the absurd and distorted to the
sublime, and Lichtenberg, a leading German anglophile
and the most accomplished satirist of his time,
viii

perfected his skills by studying English models,
especially Swift, Pope, Fielding, and Sterne.
The primary aim of viewing the Nachtwachen
through his perspective is not to establish the true
identity of Bonaventura, but to arrive at a valid
interpretation of his intricate, multi-meaningful,
and exceedingly condensed text, and its significance
in the context of the late eighteenth century.
ix

INTRODUCTION: PROBLEM AND PROPOSAL.
One of the most controversial books in German
literature are the Nachtwachen. Von Bonaventura. This
work appeared anonymously in 1804 in the publishing
house of Ferdinand Dienemann in Penig, Saxony, a firm
which specialized in novels, mainly of a trivial and
ephemeral nature.1 Established in 1802, the business
went already bankrupt in 1806 during the upheavals of
the Napoleonic Wars, when all its stock and documents
were dispersed and lost.
Initially the Nightwatches was hardly noticed.
The only documented contemporary reaction is a letter
by the novelist Jean Paul (1763-1825).2 He suggests
that Friedrich Wilhelm Schelling (1775-1854) must be
1 Nachtwachen. Von Bonaventura is the original
title. As it is ambiguous, many different versions
are in use. Unless these are quoted, I refer to the
work as Nightwatches. because the page numbers given
in this study are taken from the English version in
Die Nachtwachen des Bonaventura: The Night Watches of
Bonaventura. Edinburgh Bilingual Library. Transí, and
intr. Gerald Gillespie (Austin: University of Texas
Press), 1971.
2 Letter by Jean Paul to Paul Thierot, dated
January 14, 1805. Cited by Wolfgang Paulsen, ed.,
Bonaventura. Nachtwachen (Stuttgart: Reclam, 1984),
pp. 162-63.
1

2
hiding behind the pseudonym Bonaventura,
becauseSchelling had used it previously to publish a
poem in the Athenaum. Jean Paul also draws attention
to Bonaventura's indebtedness to his own style and
manner.
The assumed authorship of Schelling remained
unchallenged until 1903, when the critic Wilhelm
Dilthey declared that it was not possible for
Schelling to have written the book.3 Since then
scholars have proposed many names without resolving
the controversy for long. Among the most famous of
these are E.T.A. Hoffmann, Clemens Brentano, and
recently Jean Paul himself. Many minor and even
obscure literary figures were also seriously
considered.4
3 Paulsen, p. 165.
4 The following works refer particularly to
these authors: Rudolf Haym, Die Romantische Schule.
Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des deutschen Geistes
(Berlin: Weidmannsche Buchhandlung, 1870). A foot¬
note calls the Niahtwatches without doubt one of the
most ingenious productions of Romanticism (p. 636) .
Haym connects E. T. A. Hoffmann for the first time
with Bopnaventura, but finds influences of Jean Paul,
too, who is now also suggested by Andreas Mielke,
Zeitgenosse Bonaventura (Diss., Yale University,
1981). Erich Frank proposed Brentano as author and
published the book as: Clemens Brentano: Nachtwachen
von Bonaventura. Ed. and intr. Erich Frank
(Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 1912).
E. T. A. Hoffmann has again been proposed by
Rosemarie Hunter-Lougheed, Die Nachtwachen von
Bonaventura: e. Frühwerk E.T.A. Hoffmanns?
(Heidelberg: Winter, 1985). This work contains an
up-dated and extensive survey of the publishing

3
First of these was Caroline Schlegel-Schelling,
the daughter of the Gottingen Professor of Oriental
Languages, Johann David Michaelis (1717-91). Hermann
Michel proposed her in 1904 as co-authoress with her
husband.5 In Schelling's persistent silence
regarding the authorship, Michel saw an overriding
desire to avoid any further embarrassment after the
controversies in which marriage with the divorced
wife of August Wilhelm Schlegel (1767-1845) had
embroiled him. This judgement was partly based on
the vehement and controversial opinions to which the
nightwatchman gives voice, but more so on his
unsqueamish references to illicit love and body
functions.
Among other candidates Friedrich Gottlob Wetzel
(1779-1819) was promoted because he wrote a poem in
which he related mind and stomach in ways similar to
history of the Nightwatches and of most of the
assumed authors in Chapter I, 1: "Rezeptions- und
Forschungsgeschichte", pp. 13-45. Among recent
summaries: Gerhart Hoffmeister. "Bonaventura:
Nachtwachen (1804/05)." Romane und Erzáhlungen der
deutschen Romantik: Neue Interpretationen (Stuttgart:
Reclam, 1981), pp. 194-212; Jeffrey L. Sammons, "In
Search of Bonaventura: The Nachtwachen Riddle 1965-
1985." The Germanic Review. LXI, 2, 1986, pp. 50-56;
Ruth Haag. "Noch einmal: Der Verfasser der
Nachtwachen von Bonaventura". Euphorion. LXXXI, 3,
1987, pp. 286-97.
5 Nachtwachen von Bonaventura. Intr. Hermann
Michel. Deutsche Literaturdenkmale des 18. und 19.
Jahrhunderts. Vol. 133 (Berlin: Behrs, 1904; rpt.
Liechtenstein: Kraus, 1968).

Bonaventura.6 Owing to his general obscurity his
claims were hard to disprove. They were only
seriously challenged when Jost Schillemeit proposed
Ernst August Friedrich Klingemann (1777-1831), an
able dramatic producer, but a writer of limited
talents.7 The hypothesis raised many doubts, but
stimulated a wave of renewed interest in the elusive
Bonaventura. Independently Horst Fleig had also
arrived at the conclusion that Klingemann and
Bonaventura were identical.8
The mere fact that a reasonable and, at least in
part, convincing case can be made for each of these
"authors" as well as for many others, testifies to
the unusual depth and diversity of this extraordinary
book, and confirms the claim of its protagonist to be
a representative of mankind (". . . me, who am called
man," p. 167). This diversity is further revealed by
the incompatible and divergent ways in which literary
6 Die Nachtwachen des Bonaventura. Ed. and
postscr. Franz Schulz (Leipzig: Insel, 1909),
pp. 154-59.
7 Jost Schillemeit, Bonaventura. Per Verfasser
der "Nachtwachen" (München: Beck, 1973).
8 Horst Fleig, Zersprungene Identitat.
Klingemann-Nachtwachen von Bonaventura) (Tübingen:
Rohmanuskript Promotion, 1974), and Literarischer
Vampirismus: Klingemanns 'Nachtwachen von
Bonaventura7. Studien zur deutschen Literatur,
Vol. 83 (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1985).

5
critics tend to view the slender volume. The
Nightwatches has been interpreted as a trivial novel,
as the autobiographical relevations of a failed poet,
and as a dazzling work of genius compared to which
the Faust of Goethe and Byron pales.9
The assignation to trivial literature accords
with the profile of the Dienemann publishing house,
but hardly with the nature of the work. It is
characterized by freguent shifts in style, mood and
time, digressions which are thematically but not
structurally integrated, satirical ambiguities and
difficult philosophical allusions. All these stand
in opposition to the generic requirements of the
trivial novel, which call for clear and consecutive
narration, a conventional and predictable plot,
undemanding vocabulary, uncontroversial opinions and
a satisfying conclusion.
Most critics have balanced their assessment of
the book. They acknowledge flashes of brilliance,
but pronounce the whole uneven, capricious and rather
9 Franz Heiduk, "Bonaventuras ^achtwachen'.
Erste Bemerkungen zum Ort der Handlung und zur Frage
nach dem Verfasser." Aurora. Jahrbuch der
Eichendorff-Gesellschaft. XXXXI, (1982), pp. 143-165.
This highly favorable opinion was given by Ernst von
Lasaulx in a letter to Joseph Górres of March 28,
1831. Often quoted, e.g. Hunter Lougheed, p. 20.

6
reckless.10 From such judgements grew the conviction
that the book must have been written by a person of
great promise in his unrestrained youth.
Further problems are presented by the genre.
The Nightwatches has been reluctantly classified as a
novel.11 Jeffrey Sammons, however, drew attention to
the work's structure, which is so sophisticated that
it escapes the notice of the reader whose
expectations are conditioned by conventional novels.
Sammons discovered five interconnected narrative
cycles within the framework of the Sixteen
Nightwatches in which the nightwatchman Kreuzgang
relates his thoughts and adventures.12 These
unconventional numbers led Rita Terras to interpret
the structure of the Nightwatches as a homage to
10 Jean Paul's judgement initiated this
approach. It was followed by Karl August Ludwig
Varnhagen von Ense who wrote into his diary on August
17th, 1843 that he had read the novel by Schelling.
His criticism was strongly tinged by his antagonism
to the presumed author. He found the book "immature,
arbitrary, unorganic, also talented, glittering and
full of promise, and no lack of cheek. Altogether,
however, an incredibly weak production and too
insignificant for Schelling." (Quotations from German
sources are translated by Linde Katritzky, unless
otherwise stated). Varnhagen's letter is quoted in
most of the secondary literature on Bonaventura, e.g.
Hunter-Lougheed, p. 23.
11 Paulsen, p. 180: "Whoever was Bonaventura, he
must have been a young man . . .", pp. 172-73.
12 Jeffrey L. Sammons, The Nachtwachen von
Bonaventura. A Structural Interpretation (The Hague:
Mouton & Co., 1965).

Juvenal, whose sixteen satires are divided into five
books.13 The implications of her ingenious inference
were never seriously pursued, mainly because the
Niahtwatches has always been judged within the
context of German Romanticism which did not favor
satire as a genre. The nightwatchman himself,
however, uses the word "satire” and its derivatives
repeatedly, and calls himself at the beginning of his
first round a "satirical Stentor" (p. 31) . The
metonymic use of the Homeric hero, whose voice
equalled that of fifty others, emphatically and
unequivocally identifies Kreuzgang as a satirist, but
is atypical for a German romantic protagonist.
Nevertheless, valid reasons exist for an
allocation of the work to the romantic period apart
from the date of publication. Many of the concerns in
the Niahtwatches are identical with romantic themes
or at least close to them. Comparison with English
satirists will show, however, that these romantic
leitmotife could derive from the tradition of
menippean satire as well. The book contains
references to Dr. Erasmus Darwin and the London
clockmaker Samuel Day on both of whom articles
13 Rita Terras, "Juvenal und die satirische
Struktur der 'Nachtwachen von Bonaventura'." German
Quarterly. LII, (1979), pp. 18-31.

8
appeared in Germany in 1804.14 Consequently it was
taken for granted that the work could not have been
written prior to these publications, and that
Bonaventura must be an author active during 1804.
This thesis attempts to demonstrate:
1) that the Nightwatches are a menippean satire
written in the tradition of eighteenth-century
British literature, particularly that of Swift, but
softened by the feeling which Addison, Johnson, and
especially Fielding added to the genre, and by the
sentiment contributed by Sterne;
14 The journal Per Freimüthige carried a
supplement on "English Literature" on March 2nd,
1804, which contained information about Erasmus
Darwin's The Temple of Nature. Though Darwin's Temple
of Nature appeared posthumously in 1803, the two
aspects of it which are used in the Nightwatches were
favorite ideas of Dr. Darwin and are mentioned in
both his previous major works, The Botanic Garden
(1789) and Zoonomia (1794-96), see Linde Katritzky,
"Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, F.R.S." Notes and
Records of the Royal Society of London. XXXIX, Nr. 1,
1984, pp.41-49. Another supplement which also
appeared at the beginning of March described the
night clock by Samuel Day, to which a footnote in the
Nightwatches refers at the end of the Sixth
Nightwatch, see Schillemeit, p. 72. An anonymous
article about the same clock is also in the Magazin
aller neuen Erfindungen, Entdeckungen und
Yerbesserungen. IV (Leipzig: Baumgártnerische
Buchhandlung, n.d.). Hermann Michel, p. xvi, assumes
that the year of publication is 1804. For
connections between Darwin and the Lunar Society with
this clock see Adrien Burchall, "The Noctuary or
Watchman's Clock: Its Introduction and Development."
Antiguarían Horology. Proceedings of the Antiguarían
Horological Society. XV, Nr. 3, 1985, pp. 231-51.

9
2) that the book is not the result of impetuous
inspiration but designed with unusual complexity and
profundity; it reveals exceptional erudition, and is
grounded in wide reading which includes English
literature and philosophy of the eighteenth century;
3) that the text accords with the opinions and the
range of learning of the acknowleged master of German
satire, Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742-99), one of
the prominent representatives of the late
Enlightenment and a leading German Anglophile.15
An assignment of the Nightwatches to the late
Enlightenment should also lead to a better
understanding of the interaction between the German
classic and romantic literary movements, and
strengthen the conclusions of Anglo-American literary
criticism that the differences between these two
epochs are not as distinct as has been traditionally
maintained in German literary history.16 Proposing
the Anglophile, enlightened thinker Lichtenberg as
the probable author of the enigmatic Nightwatches
15 These chronological problems are discussed in
Linde Katritzky, "Eine Untersuchung der Eigennamen in
den Nachtwachen von Bonaventura und bei Georg
Christoph Lichtenberg." Thesis for the Degree of
Master of Arts, Gainesville; University of Florida,
1984; pp. 38-49.
16 E.g. M. H. Abrams, The Mirror and the Lamp;
Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1953).

10
should therefore imply that the literary habits and
the scientific thinking of eighteenth-century England
played a considerable part in the origins of German
romanticism. It is hoped that this thesis may
contribute toward clarifying some of these issues,
though it will deal primarily with the relationship
of the Niahtwatches with English satirists of the
eighteenth century.
As Bonaventura's text is woven from an unusual
wealth of material, and infused with allusions and
associations gathered from the entire range of
European eighteenth-century experience, I cannot hope
to deal with the full extent of the implications,
ambiguities and coded references. I follow Northrop
Frye in considering this exceptional richness and
variety not as incidental embellishment, but as one
of the generic characteristics of menippean satire.
Frye describes this sub-genre as "a combination of
fantasy and morality" and defines "creative treatment
of exhaustive erudition" as its organizing principle.
He sees Plato as "a strong influence on this type".17
17 Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism
(1957; Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973),
3rd. paperb. ed., pp. 310-11. It is worth noting that
Plato's theories are quoted in the Niahtwatches (p.
37). The thought is repeated without mention of Plato
on pp. 123, 213.

11
In his Anatomy of Satire Gilbert Highet sees
Bion Borysthenes, a follower of the Socratic
tradition, as the true originator of what became
known as the Menippean satire, for he was the "first
to dress philosophy in the flowery clothes of a
prostitute." By this is meant that he was the first,
or at least the first who is known, who explained
important philosophical problems in the crude terms
which could be readily understood even by the lowest
and most illiterate. Bion, a freed slave who was
born around 325 B.C., thus spread the achievements of
Greek philosophy among the uneducated, who could
profit from them though they were unable to deal with
abstract concepts.18
This combination of profound thoughts with the
free discussion of those aspects of life which are
usually avoided in polite society became one of the
distinguishing characteristics of the menippea.
These were carefully categorised in a penetrating
study of the genre by Mikhail Bakhtin.19 He
18 Gilbert Highet, The Anatomy of Satire
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1962), pp.
31-32.
19 Mikhail Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoevsky's
Poetics. Ed. and transí. Caryl Emerson (1984;
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1986). Chap.
IV, "Characteristics of Genre and Plot Composition in
Dostoevsky's Works", p. 101-80, esp. p. 112-19.
Bakhtin's work appeared first with the title Problems
of Dostoevsky's Art. Leningrad, 1928. It was expanded

credits Bion Borysthenes with first mingling
philosophy with "crude slum naturalism," (Problems.
12
p. 115) and enumerates fourteen particular
characteristics of the menippean satire, noting
especially its free interplay of opposite features:
fact and fantasy; the serious and the comic;
philosophical universalism and trivialities; wisdom,
absurdity and insanity. "All sorts of violations of
the generally accepted and customary course of events
and the established norms of behaviour and etiquette"
are classified as part of the menippean concern to
unmask the deceiving appearances of life and to get
closer to ultimate truth (Problems, p. 117). "Sharp
contrasts and oxymoronic combinations . . . abrupt
transitions and . . . wide use of inserted genres:
novellas, letters, oratorial speeches, symposia, and
so on", widen the scope of the menippea to involve
the full paradox of life (Problems. p. 118). Bakhtin
calls the levels traditionally explored by the
menippea: "Olympus, the nether world, and earth"
(Problems. p. 133). Every part of the menippea serves
as "moral experimentation" (Problems. p. 152), which
is the connecting principle of the genre. The
frequent flights into fantasy and the "creation of
for a second edition, Moscow, 1963, and did not
become available to the West until twenty years later.

extraordinary situations" are therefore not subject
to whim, but are carefully designed to serve "as a
13
mode for searching after truth, provoking it, and,
most important, testing it." Thus "the fantastic is
subordinated to the purely ideational function,"
(Problems. p. 114) and the possibilities of human
experience in every extreme are invoked in a quest
for the essence and purpose of life. This search is
also the motivation of Kreuzgang, Bonaventura's
protagonist, and the organizing principle of his
sixteen nightwatches.
In regard to this unlimited variety of subject
matter Bahktin remarks that "while possessing an
inner integrity, the genre of the menippea
simultaneously possesses great external plasticity
and a remarkable capacity to absorb into itself
kindred small genres, and to penetrate as a component
element into other large genres" (Problem, p. 119) .
This loosely connected narrative form is operative
throughout the Nightwatches and was supposedly
practised by the Greek cynic Menippus. His works
have not survived, but among his followers were the
Greek Lucian and the Roman Varro, and later Petronius
and Apuleius. At first the genre used a mixture of
prose and verse, and for this reason a French
collection of political satires which appeared

anonymously in 1594 took the title Satire Ménippée.
for it used a medley of styles and languages.
14
As the menippea brings together different
elements which are taken from a large variety of
other genres, it is not very stable and has no pure
form. It "has baffled critics, and there is hardly
any fiction writer deeply influenced by it who has
not been accused of disorderly conduct."20 Precisely
this accusation, levelled against the early work of
Dostoevsky, led Bakhtin to investigate Dostoevsky's
poetics, to define the genre and to detect the
pattern of intellectual purpose and structural
organisation. His conclusions apply also in
remarkable degree to the Nightwatches. a work which
has likewise attracted a large share of criticism for
nonconformity to the generic demands of the novel.21
Similarities between Dostoevsky's early work and
the Nightwatches have already been noted by Rado
Pribic in his study, Bonaventura's "Nachtwachen" and
Dostoevsky's "Notes from the Underground." Pribic
calls this: "A Comparison in Nihilism," and
20 Frye, p. 313.
21 E.g. Jeffrey L. Sammons, "In Search of
Bonaventura: The Nachtwachen Riddle 1965-85." The
Germanic Review. LXI, Nr. 2, 1986, p. 50: ".
failures of coherence not only indicate haste in
composition but make me doubt that the book was
written by a major author of the time."

15
interprets both the Nightwatches and the Notes from
the Underground from this perspective. He gives a
plausible explanation why Dostoevsky could have been
familiar with the German work, of which many copies
were left unsold in St. Petersburg, when Dienemann
collapsed in 1806.22
The author of the Nightwatches has deliberately
structured his text as a menippea. Numerous
references indicate intentional adherence to its
standards. Comparison with English eighteenth-
century satire shows that he followed the examples of
Swift, Fielding, Sterne and others. The Nightwatches
also reveals its author to be well aquainted with
German thought. Echoes of Lessing's work are
particularly noticeable, especially the "69. Stück"
of the "Hamburgische Dramaturgie."23
Conscious choice of genre is an eighteenth-
century attitude and one of the conventions and
restrictions which the Sturm und Drang in Germany
tried to sweep away, and against which the romantic
writers also revolted. It is therefore a
22 Rado Pribic, Bonaventura's "Nachtwachen" and
Dostoevsky's "Notes from the Underground." A
Comparison in Nihilism. Slavistische Beitráge, Vol.
79 (München: Otto Sagner, 1974), p. 10.
2 3 Gotthold Ephraim Lessings samtliche
Schriften. Ed. Karl Lachmann (1894; rpt. Berlin:
Walter de Gruyter, 1968), Vol. 10, "Hamburgische
Dramaturgie, '69. Stück'," pp. 76-80.

16
characteristic which sets the author of the
Nightwatches apart from these literary movements.
Nevertheless the romantic period was rich in
menippean elements which, as Bakhtin notes, were
especially prominent and influential in E.T.A.
Hoffmann (Problems. p. 155). An investigation of the
Nightwatches reveals the English contribution to this
development, and shows that the paradox of the
exceptional originality of this work, within a
crowded reference system of constantly recalled
literary works of outstanding merit, was achieved in
accordance with Edward Young's prescript on how to
imitate the masters properly: "Let us be as far from
neglecting, as from copying, their admirable
compositions."
This aspect of Young's conjectures on
originality was brushed aside by the German
enthusiasts who only followed Young in extolling the
merits of genius. Bonaventura, however, as did
Lichtenberg, also listened to Young's further advice:
"It is by a sort of noble contagion, from a general
familiarity with their writings, and not by any
particular sordid theft, that we can be the better
for those who went before us." Like Lichtenberg
after him, Young also stressed the importance of
imitating methods, which are of universal importance,

rather than works, which are relevant to conditions
of the past. Thus he pointed out: "He that imitates
the divine Iliad. does not imitate Homer; but he who
takes the same method, which Homer took, for arriving
at a capacity of accomplishing a work so great."24
Bonaventura, like the German writers of the
Storm and Stress, and of the romantic period,
disdained imitation of previous texts, but unlike
these contemporaries did not reject the past, but
studied the methods and aims of outstanding previous
writers in depth. This thesis traces the influence
of the English eighteenth-century satirists on his
text, and also attempts to demonstrate that
Bonaventura, in taking their methods, also studied
the sources of their inspiration.
24 Edward Young, "Conjectures on Original
Composition." Critical Theory since Plato. Ed.
Hazard Adams (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich,
1971), pp. 340-341.

CHAPTER I
GEORG CHRISTOPH LICHTENBERG: HIS LIBRARY AND READING.
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, whose patterns of
thought show striking parallels to those of
Bonaventura, was born in 1742 in Ober-Ramstadt, a
small town near Darmstadt. He was the seventeenth and
last child of a Lutheran pastor who came from a
family with a strong pietistic tradition. Such views
were favored by the court in Darmstadt at the time
and in 1750 Konrad Lichtenberg was therefore
appointed Superintendent of Church affairs for the
principality. He died, however, the following year,
leaving his widow in straitened circumstances. From
early youth his youngest son suffered from a spinal
weakness which eventually dwarfed and crippled him.
A natural liveliness and inclination to socialize
notwithstanding, this handicap imposed on him the
position of an outsider, and as such he developed and
perfected his unusually keen gifts as an observer.
His talents were fostered at the Grammar School
in Darmstadt. He left in 1761 with an excellent
record, but had to wait until 1763 before he could
18

19
enter the university in Gottingen, for he was
dependent on a stipend from his sovereign, which
could only be obtained with difficulty.
How he spent the intervening years can be
surmised from a letter he wrote to Johann Arnold
Ebert (1723-95) in 1794. He calls him his teacher of
thirty-three years ago and recalls the endless
nocturnal hours he was then devoting to Young's Night
Thoughts. a work which Ebert had vigorously promoted
and translated several times.1
Lichtenberg developed and maintained a close
relationship with the man from whose work he had
profited in his autodidactic efforts to acquire a
knowledge of English and England. Ebert played a
prominent part in the change of German cultural
orientation from France to England at a time when
French was still the leading foreign language in
Germany. English literature was mainly known through
French mediation, notably by Voltaire, whose Letters
Philosophigues (1734) first aroused continental
interest in English affairs, and by Diderot. Ebert
was himself a minor poet, and John Louis Kind gives
him much credit for subordinating his own creativity
1 Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Schriften und
Briefe. 5 vols. Ed. Wolfgang Promies. Vol. IV,
Briefe (München: Hanser: 1967), p. 893, Letter to
Johann Arnold Ebert, July 31, 1794.

20
to the promotion of English writers, especially
Edward Young (1683-1765). While his own work
received little notice, "all contemporary writers,
commentators, and periodicals join in the universal
acclamation and praise over the zeal, scholarship,
and merit of the ' foremost and greatest English
scholar and genius', the translator of the 'Night
Thoughts'".
From 1751 onwards, Ebert published translations
of the "Night Thoughts," as well as of Young's other
works, and he revised them until the year before his
death. Kind calls him "one of the ablest German
translators of English writers in the eighteenth
century." Ebert "devoted the best part of his life
to the works of Young, learned English early and read
all the foremost British authors in the original."
While he ardently admired Young, he also saw his
weaknesses, and the merits of Young's fellow-
countrymen .2
Ebert had belonged to a group of young Leipzig
students who had gathered round Christian Fürchtegott
Gellert (1715-1769), one of the leading literary
figures of the German enlightenment. They became
2 John Louis Kind, Edward Young in Germany (New
York: AMS Press, 1966), p. 82.
(Quotations are documented at the end of the
relevant passage.)

21
interested in eighteenth-century English literature,
which they originally studied in French translations,
and they contributed to a journal inspired by
Addison's example, the Neue Bevtráqe zum Verqnüqen
des Verstandes und des Witzes. usually called the
Bremer Bevtráqe. The journal flourished from 1745-
1748 and showed a strong interest in English
literature, introducing, for instance, the works of
Prior, Glover and Thomson to German readers. The
contributors admired Pope and Swift, and adopted the
organization of the Scriblerus Club. They met in a
Leipzig coffee house and cooperated on unsigned
articles.3 To this circle belonged also men of such
distinction as Klopstock, Lessing and his cousin
Christlob Mylius, the brothers Johann Elias and
Johann Adolf Schlegel, and Gotthelf Abraham Kástner
(1719-1800), first Lichtenberg's professor and then
his colleague in Gottingen. Kástner was as celebrated
for his satiric epigrams as for his brilliance in
mathematics, and Lichtenberg's personal acquaintance
with leading members of this group of distinguished
Anglophiles, such as Lessing and Klopstock, appears
to be due to Kástner.
3 Leonard Marsden Price, English Literature in
Germany (Berkeley: University of California Press,
1953), p. 59.

22
Ebert had originally planned to translate all
the most important English works, but, starting with
the first seven "Nights" of Young, he soon found his
energies fully absorbed in the task "of translating,
annotating, and expounding from his chair in
Braunschweig the works of Young alone."4
Lichtenberg developed a specially close bond to this
thorough scholar, and kept up a lifelong exchange of
ideas with him.
The easy familiarity with English literature,
which Lichtenberg had already acquired when he
started his notebooks in 1764, prepared him perfectly
for the life in Gottingen, to which he came as a
student of mathematics and astronomy in 1763. With
the exception of two visits to England and several
minor excursions in Germany, he remained there for
the rest of his life. The University of Gottingen
had been founded 1734-37 by King George II, who was
also the Elector of Hanover, and thus the new seat of
learning was destined from the start to become a
particularly active center of Anglo-German cultural
exchange. The exceptionally liberal conditions which
the absent ruler had created for his new institution
attracted many of the brightest scholars, both as
teachers and students. A constant influx of young
4
Price, English Literature in Germany, p. 115.

23
Englishmen, eager to finish their education in their
sovereign's foreign domain, ensured continuing
contact with the latest intellectual developments in
England.
Lichtenberg visited England for the first time
in 1770 as a guest of Lord Boston, the influential
father of one of his earliest students, and was
introduced by him not only to the social and
intellectual leaders of London society, among them
Joseph Priestley, but also to the king himself. As a
result of this meeting, Lichtenberg came to London
again in 1774, this time the personal guest of King
George III and Queen Charlotte in their royal palace
at Kew.5
Lichtenberg freely shared his impressions from
this journey in lively communications which were
widely read already during his own lifetime, for even
in an age in which letter writing had been perfected
as an art he was acclaimed as a correspondent of
outstanding wit and brilliance. He was always attuned
to the status and concerns of his addressees, ranging
from Marie Tietermann, housekeeper of the Osnabrück
inn at which he stayed during 1772/73 while surveying
5 Hans Ludwig Gumbert, "Der 22.April 1770." Das
Lichtenberg-Gesprach in Ober-Ramstadt 1977. Ed. Otto
Weber (Ober-Ramstadt: Verein für Heimatgeschichte
e.V., 1982), pp. 5-16.

24
the country in the service of the king, to leading
scientists and high officials. His letters display
not only his stylistic versatility, but also afford a
particularly comprehensive overview of the concerns
of his times, traits in which Bonaventura, too,
displays particular competence. To keep abreast of
current issues and affairs was one of Lichtenbergs
foremost aims, for he followed his own advice "Bemühe
dich, nicht unter deiner Zeit zu sein."6 His keen
observations, deeply reflected experiences and
penetrating opinions are also preserved in his
writings on a large number of subjects, and in his
voluminous private notes, started in 1764, which
record his intellectual pursuits. All these give
insight into one of the leading minds of the late
enlightenment and into the interchange of ideas which
shaped the epoch. The extent to which Lichtenberg
contributed to the intellectual and scientific
6 Promies, Vol. I, p. 302, D 474.
Lichtenberg's posthumously published notes, his
so-called aphorisms, are numbered according to the
letters assigned by himself to his notebooks. The
individual notes were given consecutive numbers by A.
Leitzmann in 1902, who, however, omitted many of the
notes which were considered of minor importance at
the time, especially those with scientific content.
Promies published the entire notes for the first
time, and though he retained Leitzmann's system, he
he had to change the numbers. All guotations conform
to his usage.

25
concerns of his age is only now revealed by recent
editions of his entire works.7
Access to this material has resulted in a
growing awareness of the importance and topical
relevance of Lichtenberg's thoughts, which is also
reflected in the publication of the contents of his
library.8 Though their variety is impressive, the
large number of books Lichtenberg owned at his death
is by no means indicative of all his reading. Only
Hesperus by Jean Paul (No. 1614) is listed, for
instance, while notebook entries show that
Lichtenberg knew and critically appraised all the
works of this writer which appeared during his own
life time (L 87, L 514, L 581, L 592, L 615).9
7 Besides the authoritative Promies ed. (1968-
74) there is Georg Christoph Lichtenberg. Schriften
und Briefe. 4 vols. Ed. Franz H. Mautner (Frankfurt:
Insel, 1983); Briefwechsel. Ed. Ulrich Joost and
Albrecht Schóne (München: C. H. Beck), Vol. I, 1983,
Vol. II, 1985. The planned 5 vols. will bring
together the 1650 letters still known to exist.
(Previously 1215 of Lichtenberg's letters were
printed in 65 different publications, Vol. I, p. XV).
The documents concerning the two visits to
England are found in Lichtenberg in England.
Dokumente einer Begegnung. 2 vols. Ed. Hans Ludwig
Gumbert (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1977).
8 Bibliotheca Lichtenbergiana, Katalog der
Bibliothek Georg Christoph Lichtenbergs. Ed. and ann.
Hans Ludwig Gumbert (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz,
1982). Nos. in the text follow Gumbert.
9 Lichtenberg's notebook entries are numbered
in chronological order, the letters denoting his
diaries. I quote according to Promies, Vols. I and II.

26
Much similar proof of Lichtenberg's critically
astute and wide-ranging reading exists. Only a few
selected examples, which throw special light on his
interests and habits, can therefore be given in this
preliminary survey, but more information from the
Bibliotheca Lichtenbergiana will be provided in
following chapters. In view of the remarkable overlap
with the concerns of Bonaventura, it is noteworthy
that Lichtenberg kept his library up to date until
shortly before his death on February 24th, 1799, in
spite of his rapidly declining health. Investigation
of the proper names in the N ightwatches has
correspondingly shown that Bonaventura uses up-to-
date information until 1798, with a particular
concentration of remarks and allusions connected to
scientific progress made during the last decade of
the century.10
The four decisive centers of English influence
on German letters during the eighteenth century were
Hamburg, Zürich, Leipzig and Góttinge,11 and
Lichtenberg was personally involved with events in
all of them. In Gottingen he was himself the leading
10 Katritzky, "Untersuchung der Eigennamen," pp.
32-76.
11 Leonard Marsden Price, English>German
Literary Influences (Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1919), pp. 159-61.

27
Anglophile, and close to many of the intellectual
leaders who emerged from the Leipzig circle, though
he kept modestly quiet about his prestigious
connections. Only one sentence in a letter of July
31st, 1794, relates Young's and Ebert's lasting
impression on Lichtenberg's mind,12 and a single,
tantalizingly terse note witnesses to his only
recorded meeting with Lessing, on March 8th, 1777:
"Lessing called" (F 406) .
Such glimpses have to be supplemented with
information gleaned from other sources. In Lessing's
case many remarks reveal a high regard, which shows
itself also in efforts to find a befitting epitaph
for a genius who was so greatly neglected and ill
rewarded for his great contributions to German
letters (J 239 and 313). Lichtenberg was well versed
in Lessing's works and owned several, among them
Ernst and Falk. Discussions for Freemasons (1778).
On August 31st, 1778, he reported to Heinrich
Christian Boie that he had read the manuscript of
this treatise, which he called one of the best works
he had seen in a long time, adding that if freemasons
are the people described by Lessing it must be a sin
12 Promies, Vol. IV, No. 665. An Johann Arnold
Ebert, p. 893.

28
against human nature not to be counted among them.13
This positive view of freethinkers is shared by
Bonaventura.14 The first three of the discussions
between Ernst und Falk had been published by Johann
Christian Dieterich (1722-1800), Lichtenberg's friend
and landlord, whose connections with men of letters
extended and reinforced Lichtenberg's own contacts.
Two volumes of Lessing's Hamburgische Dramaturgie
were also in Lichtenberg's library. In this major
work of mediation between English and German culture
"Part 69" is concerned with serio-comic writing and
starts with a reminder of the strong Spanish
influences on this genre. Lessing guotes here at
length from the satiric New Art of Comedy Writing, in
which Lope de Vega acknowledges classic sources for
the intermingling of serious and ludicrous aspects,
and arrives at the conclusion: "Nature itself teaches
us this diversity, and in this her beauty partly
originates."15
In the same article Lessing also pleads in
favour of the Hanswurst. the clown banned from the
German stage by the strict Johann Christoph Gottsched
13 Ed. Joost, Briefwechsel. Vol. I, No. 521, p.
878.
14 Niqhtwatches. pp. 31-36.
15 Lessings sámtliche Schriften. Vol. X,
"Hamburgische Dramaturgie, '69. Stück'," pp. 76-80.

29
(1700-1766) for disorderly behaviour and free use of
unseemly language. Lessing suggests satirically that
the antics of this popular character should be
confined to the stage, and not in future be witnessed
so frequently in real life. Stage metaphors—a
recurring device in tragi-comedy—are used by Lessing
in various ways in this article, as when he deplores
that in plays as in life the most important roles are
so often allocated to the worst actors.
Correspondingly the Hanswurst in the Fourth
Nightwatch "excuses the marionette director for
having ordered things like our Lord God and entrusted
the most important roles to the least talented
actors" (p. 75) . The "marionette play with Clown"
(p. 73) contains also various other references to the
theory of tragi-comic writing as explained by
Lessing, whom Bonaventura singles out with Kant,
Goethe and Schiller (pp. 179, 181).
This puppet interlude in the Fourth Nightwatch
with its heroine Columbine, is also linked to Justus
Moser (1720-94), with whom Lichtenberg was personally
acquainted, and whose books he kept in his library.16
Chief justice of the criminal court in Hanover, privy
councilor and councilor of justice, Moser was expert
in various subjects, notably law and history. He was
16
Bibliotheca Lichtenberoiana. Nos. 1164 and 1883.

30
also keenly interested in literature and literary
criticism, which he regarded in accordance with the
English Enlightenment as a means of educating the
public. He wrote a treatise in defense of Harlequin
in which he commented on the commedia del1/arte. To
him this genre represented a world where the
grotesque is part of a peculiar circle or microcosm
to which Columbine and other traditional characters
belong. Literary use of such standard characters he
commended as a convenient shortcut and abbreviation,
as their universally known traits obliterate the need
for detailed exposition.17
Gottingen provided excellent opportunities to
keep pace with intellectual developments in Germany
and was the ideal place to contact those in England
who, under George III, actively continued the liberal
cultural policy of the founder. Lichtenberg had only
a very meager stipend when he started his career in
Gottingen, but his exceptional linguistic competence
assured him the post of tutor to young English
noblemen, and by this means he continued to
supplement his income during most of his life. Many
17 Justus Móser, Sámtliche Werke. Vol. II. Ed.
Oda May (Oldenburg: Gerhard Stalling, 1981).
"Harlekin Oder Verteidigung des Grotesk-Komischen"
(1761), pp. 306-342. Mikhail Bakhtin. Rabelais and
His World (1965; Cambridge, Mass.: The M.I.T. Press,
1968). Bakhtin comments on "Harekin's" influence on
tragi-comic writing, pp. 35-36.

31
years later, when the younger royal princes were sent
to study in Gottingen, Lichtenberg was appointed
their tutor and they came to live in his house.18
Though a third visit to England never materialized,
the constant influx of students and visitors from
England enabled Lichtenberg to keep in close touch
with the newest thoughts and developments there, and
in 1793 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society
of London, with which he had already been in close
contact since his first acquaintance with Priestley.
From 1765 onwards, Lichtenberg
wrote
his
assorted
thoughts
into notebooks, for
which
he
himself
suggested
the English word "wastebooks"
(E
46) . The expression is taken from the language of
merchants and refers to a rough ledger into which
everything is entered as it occurs, without the order
which is imposed during a later draft. The term
therefore indicates the intention to utilise these
thoughts for further writing, and many were indeed
used by him for this purpose in miscellaneous ways.
When they were posthumously published, the editors
18 Mautner, Vol. IV, pp.
Samuel Thomas Sommering, June
Friedrich was in Gottingen
Friedrich 1786-90, Ernst August
484-85, letter to
2nd, 1786. Adolf
1786-1791, August
1786-1791.

32
added numbers to the notes, which became collectively
known as aphorisms.19
Franz H. Mautner starts his discussion on the
themes of the early notebooks with the statement:
"The most frequent object of Lichtenberg's
observations, of his thoughts and therefore also of
his ideas is man".20 As Mautner shows, Lichtenberg's
notes mirror the tendency of his age to unite all
intellectual disciplines into a "science of man," a
task in which Lichtenberg himself was actively
engaged. The attempt to work towards an
"understanding of man in all levels of society" (F
37) constituted, indeed, the unifying idea behind the
multifarious interests and investigations, to which
Lichtenberg's work as professor of natural philosophy
and astronomy inevitably led. Through his passion for
knowledge and constant application "he became the
leading German expert in a number of scientific
fields, including geodesy, geophysics, meteorology,
astronomy, chemistry, statistics, and geometry, in
19 The first edition aiming at some sort of
comprehensiveness was undertaken by Albert Leitzmann,
who chose the name Aphorismen. though only part of
the notes belong to this genre which made Lichtenberg
famous. Georg Christoph Lichtenbergs Aphorismen. Ed.
Albert Leitzmann. Deutsche Literaturdenkmale (Berlin,
1902-08; rpt. Nendeln, Liechtenstein: Kraus, 1968).
20 Franz H. Mautner, Lichtenberg. Geschichte
seines Geistes (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1968),
p. 10.

33
addition to his foremost field and prime interest—
experimental physics."21
Bonaventura combines these diverse interests in
his metaphors and images, as in his whole outlook on
life. The description of Don Juan "all in flames like
a volcano, through whose millenary layers the inner
fire all at once found its vent" (pp. 91 and 93), is
but one of many examples, while signifying themes
from natural history permeate the entire work, like
the recurring references to Versteinerunq—
petrification, fossilization--or the persistent
descriptions of thunder and lightning.22
Lichtenberg's pioneering electrical experiments
were famous. In 1780 he erected in Gottingen one of
the first lightning conductors, and his innovations
attracted the attention of Allessandro Volta (1745-
1827), who visited him in 1784 and 1785. With the
leading work of Benjamin Franklin (1706-90) in this
field, Lichtenberg was, of course, familiar, but
characteristically he did not restrict his interest
21 Dictionary of Scientific Biography. Vol.
VIII (New York: Scribners, 1973).
22 The decisive importance of the understanding
and demystification of thunderstorms is pointed out
by Engelhard Weigl, "Entzauberung der Natur durch
Wissenschaft—dargestellt am Beispiel der Erfindung
des B1itzableiters," Jahrbuch der Jean-Paul-
Gesellschaft. XXII, 1987, pp. 7-39. Lichtenberg"s
contribution is highlighted, esp. pp. 21-22.

34
in Franklin to the professional aspect alone. He
reported to J. A. H. Reimarus in 1792 that whatever
Franklin wrote was distinguished by bons sens, and
that in his writing, be it on the constitution of a
new nation or the cure of smoky chimneys, the quid
was as instructive as the quomodo♦2 3 The epitaph
which Franklin had composed for himself Lichtenberg
copied down in English:
The body of/Benjamin Franklin, Printer/(like a
cover of an old book/its contents worn out/and
stript of its lettering and gilding)/ Lies
here, food for the worms;/yet the work shall
not be lost/For it shall (as he believed) appear
once more, in a new and most beautiful
Edition,/corrected and revised/by the author.
F 738
As Lichtenberg himself was actively involved in
the publishing business of his friend Dieterich,
metaphors taken from the printers' language had, as
to Bonaventura, a special appeal for him, and like
the author of the Nightwatches he was obsessed by
thoughts about eternity. The entry D 372, for
instance, states in one of the tantalizing
compressions which often baffle commentators:
23 Mautner, Schriften und Briefe. Vol. IV, p.
608. Lichtenberg refers to: "A Letter from Dr. B.
Franklin, to Dr. Ingenhausz, Physician to the
Emperor, at Vienna, on the Causes and Cure of Smokey
Chimneys in Transactions of the American
Philosophical Society. Philadelphia, Vol. II, p. 1-
36. "
Material from Franklin's letter is used in two
entries in the so-called Goldpapierheft. Nos. 38-39,
Promies Vol. II, p. 219.

35
"Message to the book-binder regarding the immortality
of the book." A note from the last wastebook claims:
"The art of printing is indeed a Messiah among the
inventions" (L 667) . In a similar vein, Bonaventura
has his poor poet start his "Letter of refusal to
Life" in Franklin's terminology: "Man is good for
nothing. Therefore I am striking him out. My Man has
found no publisher, neither as persona vera nor
ficta; for the last (my tragedy) no book dealer is
willing to advance the printing costs" (p. 133).
Franklin's sentiments are even more closely
paraphrased in the call to the "Beloved fellow
citizens!" during the faked judgement day, when
Kreuzgang declares in exasperation: "Behind you lies
the whole of world history like a silly novel, in
which there are some few tolerable characters and a
legion of wretched ones. Ah, your Lord God made a
mistake only in this one regard, that he did not
himself elaborate it but left it up to you to write
at it. Tell me, will he indeed consider it now worth
the effort to translate the botched thing into a
higher language or must he not rather, when he sees
it lying before him in its whole shallowness, tear it
to shreds in wrath and deliver you with all your
plans over to oblivion?" (p. 105).

36
Bonaventura, like Lichtenberg, will develop and
rephrase his models rather than quote them, because
both are stimulated to develop their exceptionally
original ideas by pondering on and reacting to the
accepted canon. Lichtenberg urged readers to
"endeavour to stay abreast of your time" (D 474) ,
Bonaventura"s agreement with this maxim is revealed
by the ease with
which he draws
analogues
from
the
wide range of eighteenth century
epistemology.
The
large number of
Lichtenberg's
letters24
and
his
notebooks provide
much clearer
insights
into
the
development and applications of his thoughts than are
available for most other thinkers, and they also make
it possible in many instances to trace where and how
they originated. A further and invaluable source for
this information is the catalogue of Lichtenberg's
library. This has been assembled by Hans Ludwig
Gumbert by adding to the inventory of books that were
auctioned, the list of the works which friends put
aside for the family after Lichtenberg's death, and
the handwritten record of those books which
Lichtenberg lent to others between September 18th,
1785 and January 1799. Though Gumbert has
accumulated by such means 1911 entries, many
24 Unfortunately nothing has survived of letters
to and from England, though there is much indirect
evidence in his writings that many were written and received.

37
including several volumes, he also cautions that a
complete catalogue of Lichtenberg's library can never
be reconstructed.25 This is mainly owing to
Lichtenberg's extensive lending habits, which
resulted from his conviction that good books must be
circulated as much as possible. Thus his own reading
preferences contributed significantly to the
intellectual climate of his age.
Starting already with D 9, Lichtenberg, for
instance, repeatedly mentions that he was reading,
and striving to understand, Jacob Bóhme. Yet nothing
can be traced in his possession of this mystic, who
is considered a specially formative influence on the
romantic epoch.26 Liberal lending habits may well
account for this gap. They may also be responsible
for the lack of any works by Hans Sachs (1494-1576)
to whom Lichtenberg referred with familiarity during
his early years.27 Of the Dutch philosopher Frans
25 Bibliotheca Lichtenbergiana. pp. xi-xii.
26 Fritz Martini, Deutsche Literaturgeschichte
(Stuttgart: Alfred Kroner, 1968), p. 333: "The
mystical tradition of a Meister Eckhart, Tauber and
Jakob Bóhme merged during the romantic epoch with a
speculative natural science that searched for magical
and subconscious depths." Also Adams, pp. 216 and 218.
27 Ed. Joost, Briefwechsel. Vol. I, Letters Nos.
102, 103, 108, written at the end of 1772. Hans
Sachs is also regarded as a rediscovery of the
romantics, because of their love for the Middle Ages,
see Martini, p. 327.

38
Hemsterhuis (1721-9 O)--1ikewise mentioned by
Bonaventura and another favourite of the romantic
age—Lichtenberg owned five volumes; two, the Oevres
philosophicrues. a present from Friedrich Heinrich
Jacobi, who had translated some of Hemsterhuis7
writings.28
An unusually large number of Lichtenberg's books
were gifts received from authors and publishers, and
also from well-wishers, among them George III. While
unsolicited contributions to the library somewhat
complicate the question of what Lichtenberg actually
read, they reflect in themselves his wide contacts,
and the esteem in which he was held by the learned.
Though Lichtenberg could not afford to spend much on
books and died at a comparatively early age, Gumbert
judges his collection as of the highest possible
standing.29
A special feature is its comprehensiveness;
mathematics and natural sciences comprise catalogue
numbers 1-951, while 952-1911 cover the other fields
of knowledge, with a particularly strong emphasis on
philosophy and literature. Here as elsewhere English
works, both in the original and in translation, are
strongly represented, as are the classic authors upon
28 Bibliotheca Lichtenberqiana. Nos. 1307-1310.
29 Bibliotheca Lichtenbercriana. pp. xv-xvi.

39
whom English eighteenth-century criticism relied so
heavily that Ian Jack regards the Augustan Age, with
its faith in classical theory, as the last epoch of
the Renaissance.30
Jack's concern is with satire, and in this field
Lichtenberg's library was especially well stocked.
He owned the works of Horace in Latin and English,
among them the prestigious edition by Baskerville,
1762 (Nos. 1516-1522). He owned a selection of
dialogues (No. 1523) by Lucian, a German translation
of Juvenal and a volume of satires by Juvenal and
Persius (Nos. 1728-29) . The Satiricon of Petronius
is represented in a Latin, a German and an English
edition (Nos. 1746-48) . Only fragments of this Roman
satire have survived. They come from the 15th and
16th part, subdivisions which are numerically
reflected also in the Nightwatches.31
Only in his first published satire, Timorus
(1771), did Lichtenberg give vent to his own
sarcastic criticism of the legal apparatus; for while
such attacks had become part of English satire and
had always been a strong ingredient of the menippea,
30 Ian Jack, Augustan Satire. Intention and
Idiom in English Poetry, 1660-1700 (Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 1952), p. 156.
31 The Works of Petronius Arbiter (1736; rpt New
York: AMS Press, 1975).

40
in Germany they were not tolerated. Consequently his
remarks in this area are mainly confined to his
private notes, and to reflections that in Germany
only private themes, particularly the world of
learning, remained safe subjects for satire (e.g. J
865) .
Lichtenberg's concern with the procedures of law
was, however, strongly represented in his library by
Nos. 1208-1238a, which include a work on a case of
infanticide (No. 1227) by Gottfried August Bürger
(1747-94), who lived for a while also in Dieterich's
house, and was helped and befriended by Lichtenberg.
A man of many parts, he became most famous for his
ballad "Lenore" (1774), which is cited as an example
for love transcending the boundaries of life in the
Tenth Nightwatch (p. 161) . No. 1213 is a compendium
on German Civil Law by the Gottingen professor H. M.
G. Grellmann (1756-1804), who also wrote a book on
gypsies, in which he attempted to investigate their
history, way of life and tribal constitution
(No. 1839). This work was printed by Dieterich in
1783, and Lichtenberg had a copy of the second
edition (1787) in his library. The author of the
Nightwatches uses the authentic gypsy term for people
outside their tribe, Blanker (p. 234), a sign that he
was well versed in gypsy ways and lore.

41
From another professorial colleague, C. F. G.
Meister, brother of Lichtenberg's teacher,
predecessor and friend, A. L. F. Meister, there are
the first two parts of a voluminous work on criminal
law (No. 1231). Though such books were usually gifts
from author or printer, there is evidence that
Lichtenberg actually used them, for legal analogies
are often employed in his writings.
A specially remarkable feature of Lichtenberg7s
library is the number of English books in all its
many subdivisions. Among the law titles ten works
fall in this category, two of them in German
translation. No. 1233 includes "The whole
Proceedings of the King's Commission of the Peace . .
. held at Justice Hall in the Old Bailey. Taken in
Short-Hand. London, 1775-90." How much Lichtenberg
actually owned of this extensive series remains
doubtful, as he lent parts of his collection to
friends, among them Bürger.
Lichtenberg's extensive knowledge and use of
English books is so well attested that Hans Ludwig
Gumbert was first alerted to the incompleteness of
the library auction catalogue through its lack of
works by Pope and Fielding.32 These were then
located in the list of books kept for the family. Few
32
Bibliotheca Lichtenbergiana. p. 208; p. xi.

42
of the leading English authors of the eighteenth
century were found to be missing, and of many
important works there is more than one edition, and
frequently a German translation as well.
Of Shakespeare (No. 1796-1801), for instance,
there are nine volumes of the London edition of 1760,
and ten volumes of the London edition of 1773, the
latter with notes by Samuel Johnson and George
Steevens. There is also a German translation by
Johann Joachim Eschenburg (1743-1820), an Anglophile
whom Lichtenberg knew well and with whom he
corresponded. Only volumes VI and VII of this 1775-
77 edition could be found in Lichtenberg's
possession. Gumbert assumes that the others were lost
in lending.33 Of the separate copies which
Lichtenberg owned, Kino Lear and Timón of Athens were
published by the Theatre-Royal in Drury Lane, while
Hamlet and Macbeth were from the Johnson edition
(Nos. 1796-1801). Wieland is represented by Nos.
1631- 33, though not by his Shakespeare translation.
Lichtenberg had a specially high esteem for this
author, whom he aligned with Shakespeare and Sterne
(B 322).
Johnson was regarded by Lichtenberg as a
particularly significant writer, and valued
33
Bibliotheca Lichtenbergiana. p. 284.

43
especially for his clarity of thought and the
apparent facility with which he explains moral and
abstract precepts in simple parabolic metaphors (J
788) . Johnson's writings are densely dotted with
memorable maxims and aphorisms, in which everyday
experience is distilled into precepts of general
validity, a mode of expression which was to bring
acclaim to Lichtenberg too. They shared other
attitudes, notably a rejection of the prevailing urge
to construct intellectual systems, partly because of
their confining narrowness, but even more so because
they are inconsistent with the everchanging realities
of life and do not take into account the inadeguacy
of human knowledge. Though they saw no virtue in the
mere accumulation of knowledge, they upheld the value
of tradition, but stressed the limitations of human
understanding and hence the necessity to keep options
open. Neither attempted therefore to record his
philosophy in a systematic manner.
Jean H. Hagstrum shows that Johnson approached
literature as the representation of the available and
universal experience of life, and that he expected
literature to lead back again to life and
experience.34 Lichtenberg shared this view, and like
34 Jean H. Hagstrum, Samuel Johnson's Literary
Criticism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
(1952) 1968), pp. 174, 179.

44
Johnson derived his intellectual decisiveness from
his consistent endeavour to apply the lessons
enshrined in philosophy and literature to the
practical problems of life. Both men regarded
subjectivism as dangerous escapism and tried to stem
its tide.
Lichtenberg' s many different ventures into
publishing were directed by the desire to counteract
diffuse and wishful thinking with empiricism, and his
wish to publicize Johnson's work in Germany appears
as part of this strategy. In 1782 he prepared for
the Gottinoische Magazin. of which he was founder and
main editor, a report on Pope's life and works, which
he had translated and adapted from Johnson's Lives of
the English Poets.35 He promised a sequel on Pope's
characteristics as an author at the end of the
article, and planned to bring further lives of
English poets from Johnson to the attention of his
readers. Nothing came of this, as the magazine ceased
publication in 1784. Lichtenberg therefore suggested
that Dieterich should print the whole edition of
Johnson's English poets.36 Lichtenberg spent much
35 Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Vermischte
Schrif ten. Vol. V. Ed. by Lichtenberg's Sons
(Gottingen: Dieterichsche Buchhandlung, 1844), pp.
33-70. (Rpt. from Gottingisches Magazin. Part 3,
No.1, 1782).
36
Briefwechsel. Vol. II, Nos. 1044 and 1097.

45
time on this enterprise and also took over the final
revision. It proved, however, unprofitable and
Dieterich abandoned the ambitious venture after only
two volumes.37 Though Lichtenberg was alert to
Johnson's occasional limitations and sometimes
deviated from his judgements, especially in regard to
Fielding (J 807), he considered the Lives of the
Poets as a masterpiece in which the fusion of life
and literature was achieved on the basis of the
Horatian precept of educating while entertaining.
Horace recommends this mixture of the useful
and the pleasant in his Ars Poética which was much
consulted by the literary critics of the
Enlightenment. Johnson discussed these poetic
instructions in depth and guoted freguently from
them.38 Ars Poética, also known as the Epistle to
the Pisos, is several times evoked by Bonaventura and
quoted by
Kreuzgang, the
protagonist
of
the
Nicjhtwatches
(P-
195), who
also aspires
to
the
Horatian ideal
"to unite
the useful with
the
pleasurable" (p. 219) . Even in his scientific
37 Personal information from Frau Elisabeth
Willnat, Gottingen, from an unpublished dissertation
on Dieterich's Publishing House.
38 James Boswell, Life of Johnson (1791). Ed. R.
W. Chapmann (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980),
pp. 120, 140, 158, 360, 443, 693, 771-74, 939, 1034,
1093.

46
writing Lichtenberg adhered to this maxim to such a
degree that his entertainingly presented ideas were
widely disseminated among the general public, but
were not always taken seriously by specialists. He
owned Horace's works in several editions in Latin and
in English, including the much admired Baskerville
edition of 1762, plus a German translation of a Dutch
work on Quintus Horatius Flaccus as Citizen of Rome.
(Nos. 1516-22).
Lichtenberg owned, and frequently consulted,
Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language, in the
London edition of 1773 (No. 1460). Several of his
notes attest to exceptional interest in the meaning
of words, and to his exceptional command of the
English language. For example:
In Johnson's Dictionary the words: Predilection,
respectable, descriptive, sulky, mimetick,
isolated, inimical, decompose have been omitted
by oversight. (J 836)
Similar concern is shown in J 811 and in J 822, and
he noted that "in the word abandon in Johnson's great
Dictionary credulity should have been used instead of
cruelty" (J 1041). Besides two different editions of
Johnson's Lives of the Poets. Lichtenberg also owned
a separate edition of the Life of Savage—a
celebrated eighteenth-century account of the
sufferings of a poor poet—and the Milton volume of

47
Dieterich's abortive Johnson series which Lichtenberg
had edited himself (Nos. 1651-53, 1659).
The works catalogued in the Bibliotheca
Lichtenbergiana indicate thorough and solid reading
habits. In conjunction with the notes and remarks in
letters, the contents of the library demonstrate that
Lichtenberg investigated the topics which
particularly concerned him in considerable depth.
Though "the difficulty of access to the large and
varied canon of his writings," is as formidable in
the case of Johnson39 as it is for Lichtenberg, the
thoughts and methods of both authors are
exceptionally well documented: for Lichtenberg,
through the self-testimony of his notebooks and in
lesser measure through his correspondence; for
Johnson, through the meticulous preservation of his
conversations by James Boswell (1740-1795). The
minutiae which these testimonies contain were a
deliberate contribution to the "science of man,"
acute observations towards a true and rounded concept
of human personality.
Boswell's attention to seeming trivia accords
with the opinion of Johnson, whom he reports as
having said: "The great thing to be recorded ... is
39 Samuel Johnson. Ed. Donald Green (Oxford:
Oxford University Press), 1984. Introduction, p. xii.

48
the state of your own mind; and you should write down
everything that you remember, for you cannot judge at
first what is good or bad; and write immediately
while the impression is fresh, for it will not be the
same afterwards."40
To this principle Lichtenberg adhered all
through his adult life, and to the same end: to study
the human condition and the workings of the mind. He
also shared Johnson's conviction that the key to
human behaviour can be found anywhere, in common life
as well as in noteworthy historic events. He is not
joking when he attributes his own considerable
psychological understanding to observations at
weddings, christenings and university feasts (E 189)
and he held that family life mirrors great political
incidents with its miniature wars and peace treaties,
resolutions, reforms and power struggles (L 106).
Like many of Lichtenberg's ideas, which are
crowded together in his notebooks without context,
introduction or follow-up, this suggestion might
appear as the whimsical inspiration of the moment.
It does, however, echo one of Johnson's Rambler
essays, which states that "no nation omits to record
the actions of their ancestors, however bloody,
40 Boswell, e.g. pp. 25, 868, 997, 1013, 1023,
1088; p. 513.

49
savage and rapacious" and then goes on to claim: "The
same disposition, as different opportunities call it
forth, discovers itself in great or little things."
Johnson therefore offers to relate "the history and
antiquities of the several garrets" in which The
Rambler has resided.41 He ends with the "observation
of Juvenal, that a single house will show whatever is
done or suffered in the world," thus pointing back to
a source which was particularly popular with the
English eighteeenth-century satirists, Lichtenberg
included (Nos. 1728-29). For Bonaventura, too, the
microcosm of common or particular events represents
the world (p. 143).
Johnson and Lichtenberg share a heritage of
classical satire; among its major themes are
madness, suicide, superstitions and dreams. These
reflect general trends in a time which based its
epistemology on the study of classical authors.
Nevertheless, the serious intensity with which
Johnson and Lichtenberg approached these darker
problems was exceptional, and several parallelisms
show that Lichtenberg based some of his thoughts on
Johnson's work.
41 Samuel Johnson, pp. 239-42, p. 239, Rambler.
No. 161, Tuesday, October 1, 1751, "A Rooming-House
Chronicle."

50
In the Socratic effort to "know thyself"
Lichtenberg habitually dissected and rationalized
his dreams, and he tells how once in a dream he
related an incident to someone else, who then
reminded him of a detail he had entirely forgotten.
How, he asked himself, could that happen, as it was
his dream, and he himself must therefore have
reproduced everything in it (L 587). Similarly,
Johnson "related, that he had once in a dream a
contest of wit with some other person, and that he
was very much mortified by imagining that his
opponent had the better of him." On reflection,
however, he found that the wit of this supposed
antagonist by "whose superiority" he felt himself
depressed, was also furnished by himself.42
Besides literary themes the two men also shared
many acquaintances, as Lichtenberg moved partly in
the circles which Johnson frequented. He kept
modestly quiet about most of his social experiences
in London, but recorded that he dined with General
Paoli.43 As he refers to Boswell's description of
him (E 269), he must have been familiar with
Boswell's Account of Corsica (1768), though it was
42 Boswell, p. 1069.
43 Ed. Gumbert, Lichtenberg in England. Vol. I,
p. 92, March 15, 1775.

51
not in his library. Neither did he own Johnson's
Journey to the Western Islands (1775) or Boswell's
Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides (1785), though his
own visit to the Isle of Heligoland in 1773 recalls
Johnson's celebrated excursion, and was not less
trend-setting.44 Interest in the Hebrides was also
kindled by the Ossianic controversies, which aroused
even stronger passions in Germany than in England, as
enthusiasm for Ossian had stimulated "a lyric genre
which flourished for a brief time under the name of
'bardic' poetry.”45
Though Lichtenberg emphatically opposed these
effusions, he refrained from taking sides in the
Ossian guestion, possibly because several writers he
valued, like Gerstenberg, von Haller and especially
his friend Eschenburg, were filled with admiration
for McPherson's Celtic imitations, the more so as the
ancient Celts were freely equated with the Germanic
tribes. Lichtenberg himself was interested in the
religious aspects of Ossian's songs, as they seemed
to him an uncanny anticipation of modern thoughts on
God and nature. He even had agreed to get some
44 Wolfgang Promies. "Der Deutschen Bade-
Meister: Georg Christoph Lichtenberg und die
Wirkungen aufgeklárter Schriften." Phqtqrin, IV,
1981, pp. 1-15 (pp. 2-3).
45 Price, English Literature in Germany, p. 126.

52
additional Ossianic poems printed, which were offered
to him as authentic by Edmund de Harold.46 Probably
he soon identified them as forgeries, because nothing
came of the plan. He also noted that there was no
mention of the wolf in Ossian, an observation which
Boswell likewise records. Additionally he mentions
that the cock occurs, though introduced into Europe
much later. Johnson regarded Ossian as a fraud,
because McPherson could not show him any original
manuscripts. His verdict that "a man might write
such stuff for ever, if he would abandon his mind to
it"47 sums up Lichtenberg's often voiced opinion on
German neo-bardic poetry.
Ossian7s supposed father was the legendary
Fingal, and his famous cave on the Scottish island
Staffa is mentioned by Kreuzgang as one of the
desirable places to which a beggar might gain
entrance (p. 217). Johnson and Boswell came close to
it, but did not include Staffa in their itinerary.
It had, however, been visited in the previous year by
46 Ed. Joost, Briefwechsel. Vol. II, No. 1097.
47 Boswell, p. 615, probably emanating from
Thomas Percy; p. 1207.

53
Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820) whose description first
drew attention to this wonder of nature.48
Lichtenberg was introduced to Sir Joseph Banks
and his companion on the journey round the world with
Captain Cook, Dr. Daniel Solander (1730-1781), in
March 1775, and they in turn acquainted him with
Omai, the native from Tahiti who frequented London
society until he returned to his native island with
Captain Cook on his third and last voyage.49 All
three were also acquainted with Johnson and
Boswell.50 Sir Joseph Banks joined Johnson's
Literary Club in 1778,51 and he was President of the
Royal Society when Lichtenberg was admitted. Such
48 Significantly Kreuzgang talks of a "free pass
to nature," but the three places he mentions are all
distinguished by literary and philosophical
connections. His experience of nature is thus in the
tradition of the Enlightenment: evocative of
incidents and literary precedent. This attitude is
also exemplified by Johnson and Boswell, who on their
Scottish tour expressed their responses to nature by
quoting passages from literature, especially from
Shakespeare.
49 Mautner, Lichtenberg. Geschichte seines
Geistes. p. 132.
50 Cf. Johnson's opinions on Omai, Boswell, p.
723, April 1776. Lichtenberg had met him at a dinner
given by Sir John Pringle, President of the Royal
Society and personal physician to the Queen, who had
acted as an intermediary between him and Lichtenberg;
see Letter to Ernst Gottfried Baldinger, 10th January
1775, ed. Joost, Briefwechsel. Vol. I, No. 269, pp.
494-95.
51 Boswell, p. 1005: "Mr. Banks desires to be
admitted; he will be a very honourable accession."

54
connections intensified Lichtenberg's interest in
Johnson, which is reflected in his reading in the
winter 1789/90 of Sir John Hawkins' Life of Samuel
Johnson. ^2 He also read Mrs. Thrale-Piozzi's
Anecdotes (1786) on Johnson, shortly after he
finished with Boswell's Life. probably because
Boswell discusses Mrs. Thrale and her work so
frequently. Boswell also comments on the affair of
the hapless Rev. Dr. W. Dodd, who was hanged in 1777
for embezzlement. Johnson's unsuccessful
championship of his case turned it into a cause
célébre to which Lichtenberg referred in his article
"Ãœber Physiognomik" (1778).53 Lichtenberg's interest
in Soame Jenyns' View of the Internal Evidence of the
Christian Religion (No. 1325) , may also be due to
Johnson who reviewed this work in: "A Free Inquiry
into the Nature and Origin of Evil." (1757). Many of
Johnson's ideas on life and afterlife, which are
otherwise widely diffused in his writings in the form
of general maxims and observations, are distilled in
this essay. Jenyns himself offers little more than a
summary of current thoughts, including the concept of
the universe as a system of beings descending by
53 See Promies, Vol. I, notebook entries
beginning with J 199.
53 Promies, Vol. Ill, pp. 256-95, p. 272, also F
942.

55
insensible degrees, from infinite perfection to
absolute nothing, with man on probabtion to find a
place commesurate with his achievements.
Such ideas go back to antiquity, especially to
Pythagoras, but in the eighteenth century they had
been reactivated through contact with the East. Hence
Johnson speaks of the "Arabian scale of existence."
He confesses to have often considered such a system
himself, "but always left the inquiry in doubt and
uncertainty."54 Lichtenberg held similar views.
Thoughts on a celestial hierarchy surface in his
notes over many years, and in D 412, for instance, he
declares,
I can hardly believe that it will be possible to
prove that we are the work of a highest being,
and not have rather been assembled by a very
imperfect one to while away the time.
This tormenting impossibility of arriving at a
definitive conclusion becomes a central quest for
Kreuzgang, who resembles Johnson and Lichtenberg also
in this, that the search for eternity does not
deflect his mind from the realities of everyday life.
Johnson was an active observer and judge of the
political contentions which stirred his times, and,
when the controversies with the American colonies
reached their height, he produced "An Answer to the
54
Samuel Johnson, pp. 522-43, p. 539; pp. 524-25.

56
Resolutions and Address of the American Congress"
that was intended to calm tempers and support law and
order: Taxation: No Tyranny (1774). Lichtenberg
owned an anonymous answer to it: Taxation Tyranny
(1775, No. 1123). According to diverse notes and
excerpts, Lichtenberg was also a regular reader of
the Gentlemans Magazine, which Johnson had helped
"to convert from a rather dreary collection of
reprints from current newspapers to the prototype of
the modern 'intellectual' journal, designed to inform
and stimulate the minds of the educated and
educatable general public."55
Johnson's and Lichtenberg's comprehensive
knowledge and understanding of the enlightened
concerns of their time fuelled their passionate
intellectual preoccupation with the problems of
progress. They were also farsighted enough to
recognize human limitations, and this acceptance
resulted in a strong sense of responsibility towards
the public. Hence they were both convinced that "the
only end of writing is to enable the readers better
to enjoy life or better to endure it."55
Even a brief comparison of the contents of
Lichtenberg's library with his reading and writing
55 Samuel Johnson. Introduction, pp. xi-xii.
56 Samuel Johnson, p. 536.

57
shows that his wish to make Johnson more accessible
to German readers was based on thorough study and an
exceptionally systematical and comprehensive
knowledge of eighteenth-century English writers.
Bonaventura shares this background and has also this
in common with Lichtenberg, that while his
inspirations may seem spontaneous and often
effervescent, closer investigation will prove their
enlightened and farsighted intent which begins to be
fully appreciated only in present times.

CHAPTER II
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (1564-1616)
IN EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY CONTEXT.
Pursuit of English literary influences on the
Nightwatches reveals strong parallels to
Lichtenberg's reading, his thoughts, interests and
preferences; Kreuzgang's references to Shakespeare
demonstrate the same thorough and unusual knowledge
of the English dramatist's works that distinguished
Lichtenberg. Kreuzgang, too, values Shakespeare's
insight into the human condition, and he commands
Lichtenberg's exceptional paraphrasing techniques:
his gift to absorb the best thoughts of others and
turn them to his own purpose. When Klaus
Bartenschlager observes of Bonaventura's methods:
"Shakespeare is not discussed, but integrated into
the perspective of the narrator,"1 he also describes
the methods of Lichtenberg.
1 Klaus Bartenschlager, "Bonaventuras
Shakespeare: Zur Bedeutung Shakespeares für die
'Nachtwachen'." GroBbritannien und Deutschland.
Festschrift für John Bourke (München: Goldmann,
1974), pp. 347-71, p. 348.
58

59
Bartenschlager concentrates his investigation
mainly on the virtuosity with which this integration
is achieved. As the Shakespearean absorption of the
Nightwatches surpasses the contemporary German norm
in intensity and extent, even at a time when
admiration of Shakespeare was at a peak,
Bartenschlager treats the Nightwatches in comparative
isolation. Where he refers to literary context he
does so in general terms, and restricts himself to
German literary criticism. Thus he refers to Herder,
Goethe, Tieck and Schlegel,2 all of whom, however,
had evolved their views directly or indirectly from
the English literary critics who were led and
stimulated by Dryden into a growing realisation of
the unusual genius their country had produced.
John Dryden's Essay of Dramatic Poesy (1668)
heralded a shift of focus from Ben Johnson to
Shakespeare, and based the claim for the latter's
superiority on the daring presentation of "mirth
mixed with tragedy." Acceptance of Dryden's views
was facilitated by his patriotic opinion that the
English, and foremost Shakespeare, "have invented,
increased and perfected a more pleasant way of
writing for the stage, than was ever known to the
2
Bartenschlager, p. 348.

60
ancients or moderns of any nation, which is tragi¬
comedy ." 3
Shakespeare is therefore praised as the
unsurpassed master of mixing serious scenes with
merry interludes, and to this technique, which after
all mirrors the hazards and unpredictable changes of
life itself, he added the perception that while both
aspects of the human existence may remain
irreconcilable, they can nevertheless illuminate each
other. Dryden sees Shakespeare as "the man who of
all modern, and perhaps ancient poets, had the
largest and most comprehensive soul."4 The renewed
interest in Shakespeare's plays which resulted from
Dryden's praise led to various new editions, notably
those of Pope (1725) and Johnson (1765).
Pope proclaimed that
if ever any Author deserved the name of an
Original. it was Shakespeare; his poetry was
Inspiration indeed: he is not so much an
Imitator, as an Instrument, of Nature; and 'tis
not so just to say that he speaks from her, as
that she speaks thro' him.
His Characters are so much Nature her self,
that 'tis a sort of injury to call them by so
distant a name as Copies of her...every single
3 Hazard Adams, Critical Theory since Plato (New
York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1971), John Dryden,
"An Essay of Dramatic Poesy," pp. 228-257, p. 244.
4 Ed. Adams, "An Essay of Dramatic Poesy," p. 247.

61
character in Shakespear is as much an
Individual, as those in Life itself."5
Kreuzgang's appreciation of Shakespeare is
similar. Klaus Bartenschlager sees it as part of the
controversy over creating versus imitating, a
persistent late eighteenth-century theme in
aesthetics which, in his view, for Bonaventura's
generation was insolubly linked with Herder's
exhortation of Shakespeare's genius.6
Lawrence Marsden Price found in Herder's essay
"echoes of Pope, Warburton, Johnson, and Young, who
had extolled Shakespeare's knowledge of the human
soul or even called him creator," and he suggests
that "for verbal parallels couched in like effusive
tones we must turn to Henry Home." With all these
authors, including Herder, Lichtenberg was quite
familiar.7 He also contributed actively to the
5 Poetry and Prose of Alexander Pope. Sel. and
intr. Aubrey Williams (Boston: Houghton Mifflin,
1969), "Preface to the Works of Shakespeare," pp.
460-472, pp. 460-61.
6 Bartenschlager, p. 348.
7 Price, English Literature in Germany, p. 246.
Lichtenberg owned: Complete Works of Alexander Pope,
with his last correction. Together with the notes of
William Warburton. London 1764, 6 vols. Bibliotheca
Lichtenbergiana. No. 1662; a German prose translation
of Warburton's Pope edition by Johann Jacob Dusch,
1784, No. 1663; a German translation of Henry Home's
Elements of Criticism (1762) in 3 vols., Leipzig
1763-66, No. 1316; Johann Gottfried Herder Briefe zur
Befórderung der Humanit’át. Riga 1793 (No. 1311) , and
Ursachen des gesunkenen Geschmacks bei den

62
reception of Shakespeare's works in Germany, for he
valued the Elizabethan poet above all as an inspired
interpreter of human nature, and held him up as an
example to young writers, because his characters were
not copied from literature but from life, and thus of
permanent and general value. With this validity in
mind he himself used Shakespeare's works as the ideal
against which to test thoughts and emotions. He had
already integrated Hamlet into his way of thinking
when he wrote on December 2nd 1770, in one of the
suicidal moods which tempted him throughout his adult
life,
Luckily under the circumstances I still have a
good conscience, otherwise I would already have
gone, the sooner the better to the rest, from
which Hamlet shrank because of the dreams which
he feared would disturb it. (B 338)
Long before Wilhelm Meister was published (1787-88),
from which the German romantics took their cue,
Hamlet had already become part of his way of
thinking.
A strong influence on Lichtenberg's sense of
Shakespeare was Johnson's "Preface to Shakespeare,"
first published in 1765 in Johnson's eight-volume
edition of Shakespeare's plays. This essay follows
verschiedenen Vólkern, da er geblühet. Berlin 1775
(No. 1775) and Vom Erkennen und Empfinden der
menschlichen Seele. Bemerkunaen und Traume. Riga
1788, a work on dreams and the soul, (NO. 1313).

63
Pope in criticism of various details and methods in
Shakespeare's works. Johnson confirms and enlarges
Dryden's patriotic views regarding the serio-comic
genre, and he declares Shakespeare to be "above all
writers, at least above all modern writers, the poet
of nature; the poet that holds up to his readers a
faithful mirror of manners and of life." Nature
equates to human nature, as it does throughout the
enlightenment, and Johnson admires "practical axioms
and domestic wisdom" and believes "that from his
works may be collected a system of civil and
economical prudence." Johnson was convinced that:
"Nothing can please many and please long, but just
representations of general nature." Shakespeare's
ability to create characters "which are the genuine
progeny of common humanity," revealed him therefore
as a poet in the original sense of the word, a
maker.8
When he talks of Ophelia, Kreuzgang evaluates
Shakespeare in the same terms. After "the mighty
hand of Shakespeare, that second creator, had seized
her violently," he witnesses at first with critical
and later with passionate fascination a
8 Ed. Adams, "Preface to Shakespeare", pp. 329-
336, p. 330.

64
"transformation of the real into a poetic person"
(p.199) .
Johnson's "Preface to Shakespeare" became a
touchstone of English literary criticism. It was not
much noted in Germany,9 but it left traces in
Lichtenberg's satirical attacks on literary and
intellectual abuses. The best known of these, "On
Physiognomy against the Physiognomists" (1778), is
preceded by a quotation from Henry V (Act 11,2) and
he uses also various examples from Antony and
Cleopatra.10 plays which Johnson had singled out in
his "Preface."
Never content with mere citation, Lichtenberg
merges comments from both works to express his own
praise of Shakespeare, "who was able to combine for
his purpose distant concepts, which perhaps never
before had met in a human mind, and who could call
9 In the 69. Part of the Hamburgische
Dramaturgie. which was published in December 1767,
Lessing does not mention Johnson by name, but
attributes to "one of our most recent writers" the
view that Shakespeare has been censured for his
tragi-comic vein, though this should instead be
regarded as a virtue, as it imitates the natural
process of human existence. Besides the English
claimes for priority in this field—championed by
Dryden and Johnson—Lessing acknowledges the strong
Spanish influences on the mixed genre, and draws
especial attention to Lope de Vega's satiric New Art
of Comedy Writing. Lessings samtliche Schriften. Vol.
X, pp. 77-78.
10 Promies, Vol. Ill, "Ãœber Physiognomik; wider
die Physiognomen." pp. 256-95, pp. 256, 279, 281.

65
the world an 0 and finally the stage a wooden 0," a
view which equates the world with nothing.11
Lichtenberg demonstrates here a technique which
Bartenschlager finds especially characteristic for
Bonaventura,12 and also shows his thorough
familiarity with a tradition which is not only
important to Shakespeare' s imagery, but is an
integral part of tragi-comic writing, especially of
menippean satires from Lucian onwards.13
11 Promies, Vol.III, p. 279. Lichtenberg
amalgamated Antony and Cleopatra. V, 2: "His face was
as the heavens; and therein stuck/ A sun and moon,
which kept their course, and lighted/ The little 0,
the earth," and Henry V. Chorus,I; "can this cockpit
hold/ The vasty fields of France? or may we cram/
Within this wooden 0 the very casques/ That did
affright the air at Agincourt?"
12 Bartenschlager, p. 359: "Das bisher Gesagte
zeigt den strengen Perspektivismus des
Nachtwachendichters in der Wahl seiner Shakespeare-
Motive und ihre kunstvolle Integration in die
Weltsicht des Protagonisten, durch Auswahl,
Teilidentif izierung, Kontrastierung, Parodie und
originelle Umwandlungen verschiedener Art."
13 Lucian. "Icaromenippus" in Towards
Excellence. Ed. Vincent Milosevich (New York:
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973), e.g. p. 23: "some
relieve the Gods of all care, as we relieve the
superannuated of their civic duties; in fact, they
treat them exactly like supernumeraries on the
stage;" p. 27: "Well, friend, such are the earthly
dancers; the life of man is just such a discordant
performance; not only are the voices jangled, but the
steps are not uniform, the motions not concerted, the
objectives not agreeed upon—until the impresario
dismisses them one by one from the stage, with a "not
wanted;" p. 32: "their model is the tragic actor,
from whom if you strip off the mask and the gold-
spangled robe, there is nothing left but a paltry
fellow hired for a few shillings to play a part."

66
When Kreuzgang speaks of "Cleopatra's flower
basket, among the roses of which the poisonous snake
lay in wait" (p. 69), he refers to the same scene in
Antony and Cleopatra from which Lichtenberg took the
simile of life, seen as an empty stage. By filling
the basket of figs with flowers,14 Bonaventura
moulds the metaphor closer to his own purpose and to
the German environment in which Kreuzgang operates.
Just before the entrance of the "rural fellow"—
one of Shakespeare's tragic clowns—Cleopatra has
envisaged her fate in captivity as that of an
"Egyptian puppet," and she fears that there "the
quick comedians extemporarily will stage us." The
clown delivers the fatal basket with a melancholy
discourse on worms and death, the gods and the devil.
The fifth act of Antony and Cleopatra abounds in the
key words which permeate the Niohtwatches.
Bartenschlager regards as "the sum of the plays
of which Kreuzgang takes note: Hamlet. Lear. Macbeth,
with a reference to the Tempest and possibly also to
Troilus and Cressida." All are plays which deal with
primary concerns of the nightwatchman, and the first
14 Act V, Sc. II: Guard:
fellow ... he brings you figs."
"Here is a rural

67
three made a lasting impression on Lichtenberg, while
he was in England.15
The allusions to the Tempest and to Troilus and
Cressida occur when Kreuzgang compares the antigüe
ideal of beauty with an ugly reality, exemplified by
Caliban and Thersites (p. 195). Thersites in Troilus
and Cressida is, according to Robert C. Elliot,
"unquestionably the greatest master of scurrilous
abuse among characters of this type" in Shakespeare;
a pharmakos who suffers for the evils of the
community; a provoker, a "railer who is privileged to
abuse whom he will;" a figure with general traits for
which Thersites has been metonymic since Homer.16
Kreuzgang with his sarcastic despair is one of his
descendants.
The mocking and bitter aspects of Shakespeare's
fools, which the acerbic Thersites represents, occupy
the center stage in Timón of Athens. The Greek
satirist Lucian of Samosata had devoted one of his
Dialogues to Timón, and Robert C. Elliot sees
Shakespeare approach closest to satire in this play.
He counts Shakespeare's Timón with Moliére's Alceste
15 Bartenschlager, p. 359 ; Ed. Gumbert,
Lichtenberg in England. Vol. II, p. 274.
16 Robert C. Elliot, The Power of Satire; Magic.
Ritual, Art (Princeton: Princeton University Press,
1960), pp. 136-39.

68
and Swift's Gulliver among "the great misanthropes of
literature: a satirist satirized, with "full
cognizance of the dreadful power of the extreme."
Humour, though much of it bitter and even invective,
softens the impact of human limitations and
imperfections in this black comedy. Yet "the
denunciation of man is frightfully powerful and it
stands."17
This basic attitude is not the only reminiscence
of Timón in the Nightwatches. A central symbol in
Timón is "eating roots," which epitomizes reliance on
nature rather than on the fickleness of man. Already
in Act I, Sc. II Apemantus, a churlish philosopher
and a more stoic double or alter ego of Timón,
declares at the end of an apostrophe to the immortal
gods: "Rich men sin, and I eat root." Moderation,
frugality and self-sufficiency are the virtues which
he wants to promote by this symbolic action. Timón
learns to aspire to these virtues only in Act IV,
when he has lost his immense riches and with them his
sycophantic friends, and decides to retreat into the
wilderness of self-imposed exile. Cursing the earth,
asking for universal discord by imploring that
"twinned brothers of one womb" should be set against
each other through different fortunes, (an event of
17
Elliot, p. 167.

69
which the Fourth and Fifth Nightwatches tell), he
finally calls out "Earth, yield me roots" (Act IV,
Sc. Ill). While he digs he finds a treasure of gold,
but finally recognizing and despising its potential
for evil he casts it aside and persists in looking
for roots. When thieves beset him, he advises them:
"Why should you want? Behold the earth hath roots."
"That nature, being sick of man's unkindness/
Should yet be hungry!" he exclaims and then
apostrophises nature in the words which Kreuzgang
uses repeatedly: "Common Mother thou," and he
implores nature to
yield him, who all thy human sons doth hate
From forth thy plenteous bosom one poor root.
(Act IV, Sc.Ill)
Equivalent events occur in the Fifteenth
Nightwatch. After one of his misanthropic outbursts
of "aggravated hatred for all the men of reason" (p.
217) Kreuzgang calls himself, like Timón, a beggar
and rejoices that "the earth still had roots in her
lap which she did not deny," and calls her "this
ancient mother" (p. 219) . The root he digs out
constitutes the only sustenance of which he partakes
during a narration abounding in metaphors of eating
and digestion. Further indication of the symbolic
nature of this meagre meal is a preceding reference
to Horace's advice in the letter to the Piso Family

70
"to unite the useful with the pleasurable", for it
breaks the illusion of a romantic enjoyment of nature
by drawing attention to deliberate artistic devices.
Like the Nightwatches. Timón of Athens ends on a
note of despair. Timón dies, declaring
oxymoronically, and with significance for the last
words in the Nightwatches; "My long sickness of
health and living now begins to mend and nothing
brings me all things." This "nothing," reminiscent of
Kreuzgang's final words, is one of the many uses of
the word in Shakespeare.
Timón promises that his gravestone will be an
oracle to those who survive him (Act V, Sc. I). After
some difficulties in deciphering the words, his
epitaph is finally found to declare
Here lies a wretched corse, of wretched soul
bereft;
Seek not my name; a plague consume the wicked
caitiffs left!
Here lie I, Timón; who alive all living men did
hate:
Pass by and curse thy fill; but pass and stay
not here thy gait.
(Act V, c. Ill)
Elliot interprets "Timón7s last words from out
the nothingness he coveted" as a snarl.18 They
contain, however, several indications which leave
room for optimism: body and soul are taken as
separable and only temporarily united entities, and
18
Elliot, p. 160.

71
death is therefore bereft of finality; and the twice
repeated exhortation "pass" implies that a better
place can be reached by those who are prepared to
move on. Shakespeare sows these seeds of hope almost
imperceptibly and they can be easily cast aside or
overlooked, and Bonaventura hides his clues with
similar care.
The Niohtwatches also tell of hidden treasure,
but there is a change of emphasis from Timón; instead
of sterile metal a young child is found, unencumbered
by any worldly possessions but "already a quite
complete citizen of the world" (p. 61) . Goethe's
ballad Per Schatzoraber (1798) a genie similiarly
conveyed the message that life and active endeavour,
not gold, constitute real riches. Bonaventura does
not deliver such advice; he relies on hints and
implications, and expects the reader to find a
meaningful pattern in them, as he will have to do in
reality, if he desires life to make sense.19
The Fifth Nightwatch ends with Timón's wish,
that two "brothers of one womb" should be divided by
strife and scorn each other (Act IV, Sc. Ill). Their
19 The Christian child-symbol was secularized by
the romantics, as epitomized in the painting of
Philipp Otto Runge (1777-1810): Per Morgen (1805).
Kreuzgang's symbolic conception during Christmas
night affirms the allegorical character of his family
history.

72
catastrophe compresses in a few paragraphs the
complicated intrigues of Othello. with Iago's
fabrication and manipulation of misleading evidence,
and the desperate regret of the husband, who
understands the truth too late and follows the murder
of an innocent wife with suicide. The melodramatic
aspects of this scenario are subordinated to the
human paradox that loss or threatened loss
intensifies the wish to possess, and enhances what is
otherwise not valued enough. Bonaventura writes:
Ponce only awoke when she died, and now for
the first time he seemed to love, because he had
lost love, and to feel a loving heart so as to
pierce it through, (p. 97)
The gory end is left to the imagination of the
reader: "Silently he was remarried with Ines," and
the full extent of the tragedy is merely mirrored in
the survivor's reaction: "Don Juan stood mute and
insane among the dead."
The opinion that life attains its value through
the fear of death was shared by Lichtenberg with
Shakespeare and recurs in the Nightwatches. Among
his first notebook entries Lichtenberg claimed: "To
make us more receptive to our good luck when it is
losing some of its lustre we have to imagine that it
has been lost and that we had received it only this
very moment" (A 72). This thought he presented later

73
in a polished and often quoted aphorism: "Lasting
luck looses lustre merely by its length" (F 6).
In Much Ado About Nothing it is the Friar, the
exponent of moderation and good sense, who offers
this insight:
That what we have we prize not to the worth
While we enjoy it; but being lack'd and lost,
Why, then we rack the value, then we find
The virtue that possession would not show us
While it was ours. (Act IV, Sc.I)
This bitter comedy presents tragic themes, but
transposes them into a key that allows a lighthearted
final solution, as if to demonstrate the arbitrary
fickleness of life. While in Othello Shakespeare
dispenses with comic relief, he varies the theme with
the Iago-like traitor Don John in Much Ado About
Nothing, which has tomb scenes reminiscent of Romeo
and Juliet, misunderstandings and pretended death,
and hovers dangerously close to real tragedy. The
constant masking and unmasking creates no
lighthearted or festive spirit, but rather an
atmosphere of uncertainty where happiness or horror
can gain the upper hand at any moment, and may result
in bliss or destruction according to the whim of
circumstances. Bitter love and "enraged affection"
(Act II, Sc.Ill) add to the ambivalence as they do in
Kreuzgang's intense and unromantic wooing.

74
The play also contains a group of nightwatchmen
led by their constable Dogberry, whose blundering
ignorance mingles with sound instinct, and
paradoxically solves enigmas which confound shrewder
minds. His instructions foreshadow some of the
decisions Kreuzgang takes on his nightly rounds, as
for instance, when Dogberry counsels: "If you meet a
thief, you may suspect him, by virtue of your office,
to be no true man; and, for such kind of men, the
less you meddle or make with them, why, the more is
for your honesty" (Act III, Sc. III). When Kreuzgang
makes a similar decision he seems as whimsical and
ineffective as Dogberry, but he too, like
Shakespeare, is commenting on the helplessness of
well-meaning people faced with the injustice of this
world.
Dogberry's conclusions are distilled from
experience, as well as from his own peculiar logic
and thus he leaves his men with the exhortation: "The
watch ought to offend no man; and it is an offence to
stay a man against his will." The men respond by
deciding to "sit here upon the church-bench till two,
and then all to bed," an example followed by
Kreuzgang. "Among the favorite places in which I am
accustomed to stop during my nightwatches," he

75
reports, "belongs the ledge in the old Gothic
cathedral" (p.59).
On his second visit to England, Lichtenberg
recorded that he had seen Much Ado About Nothing on
December 10th, 1774, with the actor John Lee in the
lead. Less than a year later, on November 7th, 1775,
he noted that he had seen Garrick as Benedick for the
seventh time. He had been to Othello during his
first and shorter stay in England, and when he came
to London next in 1774/75 he saw King Lear. Macbeth,
and Hamlet repeatedly.20
The fame of London theatrical life, and in
particular of its most celebrated actor, David
Garrick (1717-79), had spread to Germany, and
visitors were eager to bring back news of his
outstanding performances. On his second visit to
England, Lichtenberg was able to see the admired
actor, now very near the end of his career, in
several of his most famous roles, and on October
15th, 1775, he was introduced to him by the favorite
page of his host in London, the King. Garrick paid
20 Ed. Gumbert, Lichtenberg in England. Vol. II,
pp. 58, 196, and 274.

76
him the compliment to declare that he had never heard
a foreigner speak so free of accent.21
Admiration for Garrick's brilliance led
Lichtenberg to analyse not only the craft by which he
achieved his effects on the stage, but also the roles
in which he starred. As Garrick specialised in
expressing even minute and detailed changes in human
thoughts and motivation, Hamlet became the part with
which he was most identified. Lichtenberg saw him
twice in this character. When his friend in
Gottingen, the Anglophile Christian Heinrich Boie
(1744-1806), asked for an account of this experience,
Lichtenberg produced a penetrating analysis of
Garrick's craft, and centered his report on the
Hamlet performance.
Boie was an influential critic himself, and the
editor of the journal Deutsches Museum. which
contributed much to the formation of German public
opinion in literary matters. Altogether Lichtenberg
wrote three letters for his friend, and in his usual
thorough manner not only described the actor for whom
the readers had indicated so much interest, but also
the plays in which he excelled and even the whole
21 Ed. Joost, Briefwechsel. Vol. I, p. 569,
Letter No. 289 to Johann Andreas Schernhagen, Oct.
16, 1775.

77
English theatrical scene, as the background which
made his perfection possible.
To gain a better understanding of the reasons
for Garrick's outstanding success, Lichtenberg also
went to watch the actor Henderson as Hamlet.22 The
letters show passionate interest in the plays, and
demonstrate the importance of Garrick for the growth
of general interest in Shakespeare.23 The precise
and almost cinematic descriptions are the best record
of Garrick's acting techniques which has ever come to
light.24
The influence of Hamlet on German literature
became considerable, especially after Goethe
integrated the role into the educational scheme of
his Bildunqsroman. Wilhelm Meister. on which he
started work after Lichtenberg's letters appeared in
the Deutsches Museum. Goethe's ideas on Hamlet, and
the stage direction which Wilhelm Meister envisages
22 Ed. Joost, Briefwechsel. Vol. I, p. 802,
Letter No. 475.
23 Lichtenberg's Visits to England As Described
in his Letters and Diaries. Tr. and annot. Margaret
L. Mare and W. H. Quarrell. Oxford Studies in Modern
Languages and Literature (1938; New York: Benjamin
Blom, 1969).
24 George W. Stone, Jr. and George M. Kahrl,
David Garrick. A Critical Biography (Southern
Illinois University Press, 1979), p. 485.

78
for the part,25 are so consistent with Lichtenberg's
report in the Second Letter that Goethe's views must
have been influenced either by Lichtenberg or else by
other accounts of Garrick's acting.
Goethe's discourse on Hamlet in Wilhelm Meister
aroused much enthusiasm for the play in Germany and
exerted strong influence on romantic writers.
Wilhelm Meister is therefore mentioned by Klaus
Bartenschlager as a source of inspiration for the
Nightwatches. Though Bartenschlager discusses the
work in a romantic context and arrives at a
nihilistic interpretation, his overall conclusions
are surprisingly compatible with the author profile
of Lichtenberg. He notes particularly Bonaventura's
exceptional handling of quotes and references, which
cause him to call the Nightwatches "a literary echo-
gallery in which references and allusions—with and
without indication of sources—abound." Accordingly,
a particular trademark of the author is that
"Shakespeare is not discussed or merely quoted, but
integrated into the narrative perspective and
functionalised creatively for the narration." As an
example of this technique, the metonymic use of the
25 Goethes Werke. Ed. by command of the Grand
Duchess Sophia of Saxony (Weimar: Hermann Bóhlaus
Nachfolger, 1899), Vol. XXII, Wilhelm Meister. Book
IV, Chap, xiii, pp. 73 ff.

79
three witches in Macbeth is given; they are evoked to
describe the fearful apparitions disturbing the
dignity of the freethinker's death in the Second
Nightwatch. Bartenschlager comments: "After
Bonaventura has chosen the analogy of the Macbeth-
witches, associations seem to crowd in on him."26
Lichtenberg was an avid advocate of associative
thought, and he had studied David Hartley's theories
in this field in some depth, as they were propagated
by his friend Joseph Priestley.27 Talking of himself
in the third person, Lichtenberg vividly describes
his habit of thinking in associations:
Before anyone can even recite the Lord's Prayer
he can enumerate ten aspects [of a problem], his
thoughts arrive as if brought to him by a
hobgoblin. (D 120)
The full extent of these associations was always
difficult to comprehend, as Lichtenberg's
comprehensive knowledge exceeded that of most of his
contemporaries, and it cannot easily be recovered
26 Bartenschlager, p. 349, p. 353.
27 David Hartley (1705-57) attributes the
evolution of higher concepts to association of basic
ideas. His Observations on Man, his Frame, his Duty,
and his Expectations was published in 1749, but
acguired a wider readership when Priestley edited and
republished it in 1774 as Hartley's theory of the
human mind on the principle of the association of
ideas with essays relating to the subject of it.
After his return from the second sojourn in England,
Lichtenberg's Notebook E shows intensive reading of
this work, E 453 ff.

80
now, when so much of the eighteenth-century
epistemology is no longer generally accessible. But
where it is possible to follow Lichtenberg's thoughts
in some detail, their depth is shown to derive from
the habitual comparing and super-imposing of various
ideas, and by this method he manipulates common
concepts to yield multifaceted meaning. Bonaventura
masters the same technique, and it enables him to say
much with an exceptional economy of words. The
Macbeth-witches are a case in point.
On his nocturnal rounds Kreuzgang notices "three
figures . . . creeping like carnival masks along the
churchyard wall." Notwithstanding a hint of
carnival, a sinister impression is created by a
preceding flash of lightning as well as by the
cemetery location, and the feeling of doom is
confirmed when "the three had dissolved into the air
like Macbeth's witches" (p. 39). Later "the air cast
bubbles, and the three Macbeth ghosts were suddenly
visible again, as if the storm wind had whirled them
there by their pates. The lightning illuminated
twisted devil's masks and snaky hair and the whole
hellish contrivance" (pp. 41 and 43).
Paucity of invention can hardly account for the
repetition of a metaphor by an author of Bonavenura's
complexity, especially as the second passage

81
demonstrates that when he uses few words it is not
for want of finding apt expressions. According to
Boswell, Johnson said of Shakespeare's witches: "They
are beings of his own creation; they are a compound
of malignity and meanness, without any abilities."28
These negative qualities characterize exactly the
evil apparitions in the Nightwatches and their
mixture of destructiveness and intellectual
impotence. To consider such passages in tandem is
like reading the text through a three-dimensional
viewer: it yields a depth of perception which remains
hidden from the unaided eye. Bonaventura uses the
insights accumulated by Shakespeare and Johnson to
gain access to an enlarged view of existence, but he
directs the focus onto new and different aspects.
This "strong perspectivism" is commended by
Bartenschlager, who notices that only such
Shakespearean motifs are used as are compatible with
Kreuzgang's philosophy. Such emphasis is achieved by
"selection, partial integration, contrasting, parody
and various quite original variations."29 All these
devices unite to create new issues out of
Shakespeare's plays in which, however, Hamlet is
constantly discernible as the dominant voice.
28 Boswell, p. 1017.
29 Bartenschlager, p. 359.

82
Hermann Michel saw in this leitmotif a borrowing from
Hamlet.30 Bonaventura, however, does not lift ideas
from other authors without thorough scrutiny; and
during the process he transforms and revises what he
has found. Consequently Kreuzgang does not quote
Hamlet. but relives relevant aspects of his
experience, and thus the references to Shakespeare
are code-words which can be used to understand
Kreuzgang's deeper motives and aims.
The information that Kreuzgang "was once playing
Hamlet, as guest role, in a court theatre" (p.199)
seems inconsistent with the casual aside that he also
"limped by nature and did not have the best
appearance" (p. 53) . The role-playing should
therefore be accepted on a higher level, where it can
explain various of the nightwatchman's rather
confusing characteristics, such as his intellectual
and ineffectual reactions to evil, his self-analysing
despair of the world and of his own indecisive
helplessness, his dread of the unknown beyond the
grave, his unsatisfied need to understand what is
going on around him and what part he should take in
the proceedings.
Kreuzgang's reactions to the ills of the world,
or rather his lack of them, find their explanation in
30
Michel, Einleitung, pp. xxviii-xxix.

83
Hamlet's words when these are taken in their
entirety. The few hints and quotations in the text
of the Nightwatches act merely as signposts to the
fuller information which is contained in
Shakespeare's works. Like the doomed Prince of
Denmark, Kreuzgang is basically an idealist with a
rational, sophisticated mind which perceives with
uncompromising clarity the wrongs of the world. But
at the same time his thoughtfulness prevents him from
attempting any remedial action, for his exceptional
intelligence recognizes clearly that the results of
any human enterprise, however well meant and planned,
are destined to elude human control. Hamlet's
introspective anguish and emotional conflicts are
therefore as much a part of the nightwatchman's
nature as his consequent alienation from his fellow
men, for they regard as madness what in truth is a
form of higher, though frustrated and impotent
wisdom.
Shakespeare furnishes rich examples of those
types of madness which constitute extreme states of
the human mind. This dimension of his work is
highlighted when Kreuzgang is confined to the lunatic
asylum, for he assumes the pseudonym Hamlet for an
exchange of letters with the love of his life, who in
turn has so intensely identified herself with the

84
role of Ophelia that she has assumed the name and
gone mad herself. Unconventional love letters result
and are presented in the Fourteenth Nightwatch. The
unexpected change in genre baffled critics until Rita
Terras found a correspondence between the structure
of the Niqhtwatches and Juvenal, who employs the
epistolary form in his Twelfth and Thirteenth
Satire.31 In the tightly structured context of
Kreuzgang's self-revelations, the parallel should be
considered as an indication that the letters are to
be read in a satirical, self-mocking context and that
the world of Juvenal is never far from the author's
mind.
A connection like this removes the love affair
with a crazed actress in the lunatic asylum from
grotesque melodrama to the menippean realm of a
search for absolute truth and final meaning, while
the names under which the correspondence is conducted
alert the reader to interpret Bonavnetura with
Shakespeare in mind. At the same time this role-
playing reinforces a leitmotif of the menippean
tradition, that the world is a stage on which
everybody has been allotted a part without being
given a choice in the selection. Shakespeare has
varied this metaphor again and again; the best known
31
Rita Terras, p. 25.

85
version is delivered by Jaques, the fool in As You
Like It. which Lichtenberg saw performed in London on
October 18, 1775:
All the world's a stage,
And all men and women merely players;
They have their exits and entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts.
(Act II, Sc. VII)
Following this famed statement Jaques traces man's
transformation from hopeful infant through youth and
manhood to the "pantaloon,” the fool, and finally to
his "second childishness and mere oblivion/sans
teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything," thus
paraphrasing the "nothing" with which Kreuzgang's own
narration comes to an end.
The constant allusions to Shakespeare in the
Niqhtwatches alert the reader to the nature of
Kreuzgang's predicament. He is not wrestling with
purely personal problems, but with questions which
have agitated profound minds throughout history, and
for which Shakespeare has found the most vivid and
memorable, and at the same time generally accessible
expression.
Kreuzgang approaches the quest freshly and with
some new insights, notably from Kant's critical
inquiries into the potential of the human mind, which
are especially evoked in the exchange of letters with
Ophelia. As such profound questions admit of no

86
definite responses, he cannot be expected to advance
further than Shakespeare, and therefore follows
Jaques' conclusions:
It is all role, the role itself and the
playactor who is behind it, and in him in turn
his thoughts and plans and enthusiasms and
buffooneries—all belong to the moment
and swiftly flee, like the word on the
comedian's lips. (p. 209)
When he concludes his last letter: "Love me, in a
word, without further pondering," (p. 211) the
seeming flippancy reveals in fact the wisdom which
recognizes love as the one experience by which man
can transcend his isolation in space and time.32
The epistolary interpolation in the Fourteenth
Nightwatch provides one of the numerous examples of
Bonaventura's virtuosity in blending ideas from the
full range of sources from which Western civilisation
drew its inspiration and strength. This creative
approach to outstanding works of the intellect
accords with the precepts of the enlightenment which
Lichtenberg endeavoured to promote. To him the
inevitable prerequisite for meaningful artistic
32 Cf. Eccl. IX, 9: "Live joyfully with the wife
whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy
vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all
the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in
this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under
the sun." Like Shakespeare's insights, those of
Ecclesiastes also run consistently through the
Nichtwatches.

87
achievement was familiarity with the views held by
the great thinkers of all ages, combined with
personal probing into the methods by which they
arrived at their conclusions. These he wanted
constantly tested, for he agreed with Johnson in the
"Preface to Shakespeare"
What mankind have long possessed thy have often
examined and compared; and if they persist to
value the possession, it is because freguent
comparisons have confirmed opinion in its
favour.
Shakespeare, that "comprehensive genius" as Johnson
calls him,33 is constantly used in the Nightwatches
as a touchstone with which Kreuzgang tests the
validity of his own opinions.
Bartenschlager describes the work as somber, and
as the most nihilistic prose work of the German
Romantic Epoch, as well as that of the greatest
genius.34 Its romantic and despairing elements are,
however, already present in Shakespeare, especially
in those works which are quoted or alluded to by
Kreuzgang, who knows and uses them in the
assimilatory way which Lichtenberg recommended and
practiced.
pp.
33 Ed. Adams, "Preface to Shakespeare,"
329, 336.
34 Bartenschlager, p. 347.

88
Most of the plays which are worked into the
fabric of the Nightwatches were made memorable to
Lichtenberg through the sensitive interpretations of
Garrick, and he wrote about this experience: "To act
like Garrick and to write like Shakespeare are the
effects of very deep-seated causes." He elaborated
this thought at various times, for he wanted to
recommend the art of these men as an example to those
idealistic young German writers who expected genius
to inspire them as if they were possessed and without
much effort on their part. He therefore stressed
about Garrick:
Almost all the newer English authors, who are so
much read, imitated, and aped by us, were his
friends. He helped form them, while they in
their turn helped to form him. Man was his
study, from the cultured and artificial denizens
of the salons of St. James, down to the savage
creatures in the eating-houses of St. Giles. He
attended the same school as Shakespeare, and
like the latter, did not wait for inspiration,
but worked hard (for in England all is not left
to genius, but worked hard for); by this school
I mean London, where a man with such a talent
for observation can learn as much by experience
in a year as in a whole lifetime spent in some
little town, where all have the same hopes and
fears, the same subjects for wonder and gossip
and nothing is out of the ordinary.35
As Lichtenberg shared the eighteenth-century
belief that literature is the repository of man's
accumulated wisdom, he regarded all its
35 Ed. Mare, Lichtenberg's Visits to England,
pp. 11, 8.

89
manifestations with seriousness. His certainty about
the importance of literature turned him into one of
the first and foremost who saw the inherent dangers
in German idealism, which centered more and more on
grand and sublime concepts and progressively lost
touch with reality.
The literary controversies into which this
attitude involved him vibrate through various parts
of the Niqhtwatches. notably in the "Dithyramb on
Spring" (p. 189) , and in passages where the
playwrights Iffland and Kotzebue are ridiculed. One
such text follows directly on an exclamation in which
Kreuzgang couples Hamlet's famous question "To be or
not to be" with an invocation of the devil, showing
that even when Bonaventura uses common expletives he
remains conscious of literary precedent, for
Shakespeare often uses the devil to indicate
spontaneous or emphatic speech.
Hamlet, for instance, when reminded that his
father died four months ago and that it is time to
cease mourning, calls out: "Nay then, let the devil
wear black, for I'll have a suit of sables" (Act III,
Sc. II). The effect of that single dark figure among
colourful courtiers is vividly described by
Lichtenberg. The stranger in black, the enigmatic
"tall manly figure, wrapped in a cloak" who "strode

90
through the arch and stood on a grave stone" in the
Fourth Nightwatch (p. 76), brings Hamlet to mind all
the more, as Kreuzgang continues:
I always step before an alien unusual human life
with the same feelings as before a curtain
behind which a Shakespearean drama is to be
produced; and I like it best if the former as
well as the latter is a tragedy, for, besides
genuine seriousness, I can suffer only tragic
jest and such fools as in King Lear; precisely
because these alone are truly audacious and
carry on their clownery en qros. and without
regard, over the whole of human life. (p. 67)
As Kreuzgang himself identifies with Hamlet,
projection of that figure onto another character
should be an indication that Kreuzgang sees himself,
or part of himself, in the strangers he meets during
his watch. He achieves the association by various
means. When he introduces the poet he tells of
having been just such a poet himself (p. 31) , in
other cases the connections are more circumspect.
When he calls a vagrant, of whom nothing else is told
but that he is dying in poverty and solitude, a
Joseph, whom "the brothers have cast out," it must
be remembered that Kreuzgang sees himself as such a
Joseph figure, spurned by others for the superior
qualities of his intellect. He watches as this
pathetic "beggar with neither house nor home fights
against slumber, which wants to lay him so sweetly
and enticingly in death's arms," and his fear of
consequences prevents him from interference. It is

91
then that he repeats Hamlet's question: "Shall I
cheat death of a beggarly life? By the devil, I
really do not know what is better—to be or not to
be!" (p. 159). Hamlet, in the same predicament
decided for life, because he feared that existence
after death might be worse. Kreuzgang elected to let
the beggar die, for "the brothers are not worthy that
Joseph walk among them!—Let him sleep away." With
Hamlet's situation in mind, his judgement would
indicate at least a strong hope for a better
existence after death, though like Hamlet, Kreuzgang
cannot be absolutely sure and thus leaves the
question open.
Such associations abound in the text, but they
are not revealed at first sight or by casual reading,
just as it is not likely that the beginning of the
Niqhtwatches will immediately be identified with the
first scene of Hamlet. Yet in both works a
nightwatch establishes the dark and sombre mood in
which the plot is to unfold, in both a watchman
starts his round of duty, and a ghost is almost
instantly mentioned.
Kreuzgang introduces spectres in a seemingly
irrelevant aside, remarking that he has protected
himself "against the evil spirits with the sign of
the cross" (p. 29) . Lichtenberg shared an interest

92
in superstitious beliefs with other thinkers of his
age, such as Johnson, who also wanted to fathom ideas
which persist so universally notwithstanding their
seeming irrationality. The question of whether ghosts
can and do exist falls also into this category and
exercised especially Johnson's mind. Lichtenberg
himself was mainly interested, when he saw the ghost
of Hamlet's father in London, by what means Garrick
created awe and terror and left his audience with a
lasting impression of fright.
He shares this memorable event in his "Second
Letter from England," where he reports that while the
ghost "stands motionless," the fear which it exudes
is reflected and magnified by Garrick's reaction.
This he describes in minute detail, concluding:
His whole demeanour is so expressive of terror
that it made my flesh creep even before he began
to speak. The almost terror-struck silence of
the audience, which preceded his appearance and
filled one with a sense of insecurity,
probably did much to enhance this effect.36
Lichtenberg emphasized in his writings
consistently that he venerated Shakespeare as one of
the greatest masters of language and as an
unsurpassed observer of the hidden springs of human
behaviour, and that he considered this combination
indispensable in the study of man. His "Letters from
36 Ed. Mare, Lichtenberg's Visits to England, p.
10.

93
England" pay special tribute to the great English
dramatist, and at the same time they demonstrate, how
seriously Lichtenberg took his own precept that
intellectual gains can only be expected when the best
that is available has been absorbed, and then is
integrated into new thought patterns. His voluminous
writings and letters show that references to
Shakespeare were part of his normal system of
thinking, and that he used them habitually to test
his own conclusions about life. He practised and
recommended this method years before the superb
translations of Schlegel and Tieck turned Shakespeare
into one of the best loved authors in Germany. Tieck
and the brothers Schlegel, incidentally, had been
students in Gottingen and were known to Lichtenberg
personally.
After their masterful translations became
available and Wilhelm Meister had set the tone,
guotations from Shakespeare and allusions to his
works became common practice for educated Germans.
Imaginative variations of his thoughts, however, and
creative use of his language and ideas, still remain
a rarity. Lichtenberg and Bonaventura are outstanding
exceptions.

CHAPTER III
WILLIAM HOGARTH (1697-1764)
AND VISUAL CONCEPTS IN THE NIGHTWATCHES.
While Shakespearian allusions are the most
immediate signs of English influences in the
Nightwatches. references to Hogarth and his serio¬
comic subjects are also particularly noticeable.
These merit special attention in the search for the
author, as well as for the meaning and intent of the
Nightwatches. for this English master of the
pictorial moral satire figures much less frequently
in German literature than Shakespeare. Writers who
valued Hogarth for his insights into human nature
rather than for his wit and dramatic subject matter
are rarer still. In England it was mainly Fielding
who acknowledged Hogarth's keen observations of human
nature and his didactic intentions, and he paid
repeated homage to these gifts in all his three major
novels. His exclamation in Tom Jones after the
escape of Sophia, "O Shakespeare, had I thy pen! 0
Hogarth had I thy pencil!" (X,viii), shows the high
regard for the artist which Lichtenberg tried to
communicate in his commentaries on Hogarth's prints.
94

95
William Hogarth (1697-1764) was the first
English painter to gain international acclaim. That
he is increasingly recognized as a key interpreter of
the English eighteenth century life, is demonstrated
by the growing habit of illustrating books from and
about this era with his works. These were promoted
in Germany already during his lifetime by the efforts
of Lessing and his cousin Christlob Mylius, who had
obtained the collaboration of the artist himself in
his translation of Hogarth's aesthetic treatise The
Analysis of Beauty (1753). The German version
appeared only a year after publication in London.
In an age when fluent elegance in writing had
become a widespread accomplishment, Hogarth's clumsy,
awkward prose failed to arouse the response which he
had expected for his theories on art. While this
handicap was removed in the German rendering, the
Zerqliederunq der Schónheit nevertheless attracted
little notice. Only gradually were some of its ideas
accepted and integrated, especially his concept of
the line of perfect beauty as a wave, because nature
does not know any straight lines. The idea was later
adopted by Friedrich Schlegel as a guideline to
writing, when he recommended the Arabeske as pattern
for the construction of novels. Wolfgang Paulsen
suggests, therefore, that the structure of the

96
Niqhtwatches follows the wavy line of narration as
demanded by Schlegel, and put into practice in his
own novel Lucinde (1799)-1
Kreuzgang uses the same argument with which
Hogarth commended his wave-like line of beauty, for
he refers repeatedly to nature and real life when he
justifies his narrative techniques. He uses the
metaphor of an undulating river for his digressive
and convoluted scheme of narration: "my story...like
a narrow stream, winds through the rocky and sylvan
passages which I heaped all around" (p.199).2
Lichtenberg already recommended this mode of writing
in 1770 when he remarked that he regarded this
undulatory technique the most suitable, long before
he knew about Hogarth's line of beauty or Sterne's
method en Ziczac (B 131). This remark is
characteristically preceded by thoughts on how the
zigzag path can be transposed from artistic
convention to real life, for Lichtenberg was always
anxious to apply the lessons of art and literature to
reality. Preoccupied with the sequence of birth,
life and death, he proposes that the path between the
two unalterable points of beginning and end can be
1 Paulsen, Nachwort, pp. 163-80, pp. 178-79.
2 The German translation for Hogarth's "Line of
Beauty" is Schlanqenlinie. Bonaventura uses the verb
schlangeln. thus providing the link with Hogarth.

97
elongated if they are not connected by a straight and
single minded approach, but rather by a meandering
effort of crowding as much varied experience between
them as possible (B 129).
Though most of Lichtenberg's aphorisms were only
published after his death, he shared his ideas freely
during his lectures and discussions. The brothers
Schlegel were among his students, as was Ludwig
Tieck. They were all personally known to him, and
how far their romanticism was shaped by the
prevailing attitude of the late enlightenment in
Gottingen, of which Lichtenberg was the most visible
exponent, has yet to be investigated in depth.
While Hogarth's treatise on beauty in art was
largely neglected, the German imagination instead was
captured by the Gedanken über die Nachahmung der
griechischen Werke in der Malerei und Bildhauerkunst
which Johann Joachim Winckelmann published in 1755.
This work stimulated almost immediately widespread
interest in the visual arts and their classic models,
and presented Greek sculpture as the ideal of
unsurpassable perfection. Greece itself was not
readily accessible to the normal traveller at the
time, so Rome became the focal point of desire for
German intellectuals, and it remained so during the

98
romantic period and until the expressionists re¬
orientated aspiring artists to Paris.
Automatic and often mindless veneration of
classical works soon became fashionable as a result
of Winckelmann's immense impact on German aesthetics.
Kreuzgang ridicules this attitude in the episode of
the "invalids' home of immortal gods and heroes,
given shape amid a miserable humanity" (p. 193). He
warns "a little dilettante" whom he finds worshipping
"a Medici Venus without arms . . . 'The divine
backside is too elevated for you, and you cannot get
up there, considering your puny stature, without
breaking your neck!'" He thus paraphrases and
parabolizes a concern which no longer worried the
romantics, who had substituted the national for the
classical past, but which excercised Lichtenberg, who
opposed all conventional adulation, and proposed that
great men should not be imitated in their works, but
rather in the efforts and attitudes which resulted in
their outstanding achievements.
Kreuzgang endorses this opinion and his earthy,
often irreverent satire is steeped in the realism of
which Hogarth was the greatest visual master of his
age. While Johann Kaspar Lavater (1741-1801), who
created the fashion for physiognomy, presented only
selected specimens of Hogarth's art, which emphasized

99
deformed characters and depravity, Lichtenberg was
always anxious—in literature, art and life—to
consider all available aspects of a personality. His
Commentaries on Hogarth have been largely ignored or
dismissed by art critics, because they are concerned
neither with Hogarth's painting techniques nor with
aesthetics. Frederick Antal, interested in Hogarth's
place in the history of ideas rather than in his
influence on the development of painting, appreciates
Lichtenberg's commentaries as a major contribution to
the understanding of Hogarth's importance, as of his
time. Antal acclaims the Gottingen professor as one
of the foremost German experts on England, and as one
of the most active mediators between the two
cultures, and he calls him
the outstanding exponent and greatest
connoisseur of English thought in Germany.
Politically, too, he favoured the English
constitution ... No foreigner knew England
. . . more thoroughly, whether her court or her
lower classes, her literature, theatre, art,
philosophy or science. Nothing was more
congenial to his rationalism and empiricism than
the realism of English art and literature.3
Antal correctly implies that Lichtenberg, unlike
so many of his contemporaries who also admired
English achievements, did not copy English examples,
but accepted from them what was congenial and in
3 Frederick Antal, Hogarth and his Place in
European Art (New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1962),
pp. 206-207.

100
accordance with his own philosophy. What he admired
in Hogarth was the gift for didactic satire, a
positive realism which did not shrink from
degradation but always left hope for improvement, and
the unsurpassed genius to reveal in a single visual
moment the true character of his figures, their past
and even their possibilities for the future.
Besides Lichtenberg it is Jean Paul (1763-1825)
who among German writers most frequently refers to
Hogarth. His "Preface" to E. T. A. Hoffmann's
Phantasiestücke in Callots Manier was written in
1813, and shows that he appreciated the influence of
Hogarth's engravings on literature. But he sees them
as "poetische Zerrbilder," poetical caricatures, and
places their worth below the work of Callot.4 This
French artist commanded indeed a much wider range of
subjects than Hogarth, but in his dramatic scenes the
single human being appears submerged into the mass of
suffering or agitated mankind. Hogarth's particular
gift, to strip the individual of all conventional
masks, is ignored in Jean Paul's evaluation.
This is the quality in Hogarth which Fielding
and Lichtenberg most admired. Bonaventura recognizes
4 E. T. A. Hoffmans Werke. Ed. Georg Ellinger,
1st ed. (Berlin: Deutsches Verlagshaus Bong & Co.,
n.d.), p. 16.

101
it, too, and uses it to illustrate his own
observations. He refers directly to Hogarth three
times, and shows his exceptional familiarity with his
world by using the name always attributively. In the
Seventh Nightwatch, where Kreuzgang recalls being
delivered to the madhouse for his satires on
"killings of the soul by church and state," the court
consisted of "half a dozen men with juridical masks
before their countenance, under which they concealed
their own scoundrel's physiognomy and the other half
of their Hogarth face." He goes on to claim that
"they understand the art of Rubens, with which he
transformed a laughing face into a weeping one by
means of a single stroke" (p. 119 and 121) , thus
demonstrating not only considerable knowledge in the
field of painting, but also determination to apply it
to life and literature.
The reference to "the other half of their
Hogarth face" presupposes unusual familiarity with
Hogarth's heads, especially as it does not apply to
the etching which would most easily suggest itself in
the circumstances, The Bench. an assembly of judges
of which Hogarth drew several versions. Horst Fleig
found the correct source of the allusion in
Lichtenberg's commentary to A Midnight Modern
Conversation, a print of which Hogarth engraved the

102
first version in 1733. In his almanac of 1786
Lichtenberg had already dealt with this popular scene
which became known in Germany as the
Punschgesellschaft. and when he began in 1794 to
publish more detailed commentaries, he chose as his
second subject for explanation the same print once
again.
In describing a prominent figure seated
centrally behind the table, Lichtenberg interprets
the drunk as a representative of the jus utrumque.5
and satirically twists this legal term into denoting
the two sides of law: justice and injustice.
Ingeniously, and with the help of several other word
plays, he demonstrates that the drowsy asymmetrical
face represents these two opposed aspects, with the
left, or sinister side illustrating the law.6 Fleig
detected this source for Kreuzgang's metaphor,
because his candidate for Bonaventura, August
Klingemann, alluded to it in a theatrical review of
1807.
Fleig draws explicit attention to the influence
on the Niqhtwatches of the Hogarth-Lichtenberg
volumes on which Klingemann wrote an article in 1804.
5 Jus utrumque: the canonical and the secular
(Roman) law in German legal parlance.
6 Promies, Vol. Ill, p. 693.

103
Reinforcing the parallels which had already been
noted (for instance by Gillespie) between
Lichtenberg's commentary on The Rake's Progress and
the mad-house scenes in the Ninth Nightwatch, Fleig
draws attention to the metaphor of microcosm which is
used in both cases for the lunatic asylum, while the
world at large is called the macrocosm. He also
points out correspondences between the Eighth and
Ninth Nightwatches and the last two prints of the
Rake's Progress.7
Commenting on Kreuzgang's habit of describing
events as if he had visualized them in a painting or
in woodcuts, Fleig locates the link in Lichtenberg's
Commentaries. He touches, however, only lightly on
Kreuzgang's references to Hogarth's Finis or
Tailpiece. and consequently concludes that the
Hogarth-Lichtenberg model applies only in a limited
sense.8
Hogarth's Tailpiece is twice mentioned in the
Nightwatches. It is used for literary satire on
Kotzebue when Kreuzgang suggests that "time could
fire the last pipe it smokes here with a scene from
his last drama and, thus inspired, pass over to
7 Fleig, Literarischer Vampirismus. pp. 90-91,
71, 99, and 97.
8 Fleig, Literarischer Vampirismus. pp. 72-73,
71, and 75.

104
eternity!" (p. 71). August von Kotzebue (1761-
1819), a prolific, successful but shallow dramatist
who also churned out satires, tales and historical
works, though mentioned five times by name in the
Nightwatches. does not immediately seem predestined
for presence at such a solemn moment. He had,
however, crudely satirized Lichtenberg and his
relationship to Maria Dorothea Stechard in a play
Doktor Bahrdt mit der eisernen Stirn. The girl died
barely aged seventeen before Lichtenberg could marry
her. He was heartbroken and expressed repeatedly
bitter resentment towards Kotzebue (e.g. J 794, 847,
867, 872, 873, 1231).
A coded reference to Hogarth's Finis may be
Ophelia's declaration that as she cannot escape her
role she will read it to the very end—the exeunt
omnes—behind which the actual "I" will probably
begin (p. 213). The Latin stage direction accords
perfectly with the theatre background to the letters
in the Fourteenth Nightwatch, but Lichtenberg
mentions in his almanac article that the words are
visible in a book of comedies which Hogarth shows
among the broken debris of his last engraving among
other emblems of finality.9
9 Lichtenberg, Goettinger Taschenkalender für
das Jahr 1791. "II) Finis", pp. 206-210, p. 207.

105
The Tailpiece is named the second time in the
Sixteenth Nightwatch, where its introduction into the
opening sentence leaves no doubt that this chapter
was intended by the author as the last and final one.
Kreuzgang starts
I wish my brush could complete this ultimatum
and Hogarthian tail-piece quite distinctly
before every man's eyes; unfortunately,
however, the colours needed are lacking in the
night, and I can make nothing but shadows and
airy nebulosities flit before the lens of my
magic lantern, (p. 229)
While everything will now come to an end, life itself
is experienced as a darkness in which man sees but
indistinctly, and the lens of Kreuzgang's magic
lantern paraphrases Paul's metaphor: "Now we see
through a glass darkly ..." (1 Cor. XIII, 12).
In both cases life is experienced as a penumbral
condition, "nothing but shadows," and it is merely
lack of illumination which prevents man from
perceiving the higher reality which is all around
him. The nightwatches are thus but a metaphor for
groping in a darkness so somnolent that most people
fall asleep and refuse active participation, and even
the alert and ever awake watchman cannot expect to
see clearly and distinctly. Yet the effort is
important, for by asserting that while on earth "man,
that Oedipus, progress only as far as blindness, but
not in a second plot to transfiguration" (p. 143) ,

106
Kreuzgang affirms belief in a continuity of existence
after death.
The Tailpiece occupies a unique position in
Hogarth's work. Lichtenberg acquired from the
artist's widow in London the very copy on which
Hogarth expended his last efforts. An article in his
almanac of 1791 is dedicated to print under its most
common title Finis. and Lichtenberg had the engraving
reproduced in its entirety in spite of the small
pocket-book format of his publication. He informs his
readers that Hogarth announced a few months before
his death in lighthearted company that his next work
would show the end of everything on earth. During
the ensuing surprise and banter one friend pointed
out in fun that this would of necessity include the
artist himself. Hogarth affirmed this with a deep
sigh and told his friends that the sooner the end
would come for him, the better.
Hogarth engraved both the word "Finis" in large
and legible letters on smoke exhaled by the enfeebled
Father Time, and the title, The Bathos, or Manner of
Sinking in Sublime Paintings, under the scene which
he crammed with emblems of death and decay. In its
total metonymity Finis evokes Hogarth's early
beginning as an engraver of emblematic devices.
There is no sense of hope or humor, and as other

107
critics Lichtenberg missed Hogarth's usual
intellectual level, though he detected a spark of
customary inventiveness in the darkly negative
message of the gallows, the only object that remains
erect in a scene of utter desolation and
disintegration.10
Hogarth's fame as an interpreter of his age was
achieved through passionate involvement with the
important concerns of his time. Lichtenberg always
propagated such an attitude as prerequisite to
intellectual stature, and Antal recognizes this
spiritual kinship by calling Lichtenberg's "consuming
interest in mankind—as consuming as Hogarth's."11
Hogarth was actively involved in most of the
major concerns of his epoch, and Ronald Paulson
regards it as one of the central facts of his life
"that he was connected in some way with almost all
the great philanthropies and humanitarian projects of
his time—from the parliamentary committee on prison
reform of 1729 to the Foundling Hospital, from St.
Bartholomew's Hospital to the London [hospital] and
the Bethlehem [Bedlam]. One cannot dissociate this
obvious interest and involvement from the theme that
10 "II) Finis," pp. 206, 208.
11
Antal, p. 207.

108
runs through his engraved works."12 He was equally
abreast of literary and critical developments, for he
was in constant demand to illustrate some of the most
influential English authors of his century, such as
Swift, Pope, Fielding and Sterne, and from his keen
perception of their achievement developed personal
bonds of esteem and friendship, especially with Henry
Fielding.13 Thus he gave a title to his ultimate
work which links it so obviously with Peri Bathous or
the Art of Sinking in Poetry, a literary satire from
the Scriblerus Club, published under the pseudonym
Martinus Scriblerus, the learned dunce whose lavish
praise is meant as condemnation.
This satire on shallow and pretentious writing
is attributed mainly to Pope. It proceeds through
brilliant manipulation of words and their double
meaning to equate bathos, or the profound, with the
low and therefore common, in art, which is
satirically recommended as being most readily
understood and thus most in demand. Chapter XIII
deals with "A Project for the Advancement of the
Bathos" and recommends "a Rhetorical Chest of
12 Ronald Paulson, Hogarth: His Life. Art, and
Times. 2 Vols. (New Haven: Yale University Press,
1971), Vol. II, p. 35.
13 See R. E. Moore, Hogarth's Literary
Relationships (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota
Press), 1948.

109
Drawers" into which tropes and similes from all times
should be collected, while "every Composer will soon
be taught the Use of this Cabinet, and how to manage
all the Registers of it, which will be drawn out much
in the Manner of those in an Organ."14
Hogarth followed Pope's advice and heaped around
the expiring Father Time every conceivable symbol of
death and decline, but by drawing attention to his
source of inspiration, he provided a ludicrous
perspective on a scene which is otherwise noticeably
lacking in light touches. The comic relief which he
usually adds freely to his tragic scenes is in this
last instance only provided by the incongruity of a
satiric title and the tragic content. This technique
of abrupt juxtaposition of extremes is disturbing to
the reader and viewer. Some of Bonaventura's most
perturbing passages rely on the same method.
Ronald Paulson sees in the subject of this last
print "the whole world regarded tragically when it is
of course only comic,"15 but Antal also notes that in
his ultimate work Hogarth "mocks at painting in the
grand style, even if in his customary ambiguous way,
and pokes fun at the trivial objects it sometimes
14 Poetry and Prose of Alexander Pope,
pp. 428-29.
15 Ed. Paulson, Hogarth; His Life. Art and
Times, p. 408.

110
depicts."16 Awareness of the comic undercurrents
within the unremittingly sombre scene is strongly
expressed in both critical appraisals. In
establishing the Tailpiece as the point of reference
for his ultimate nightwatch, Bonaventura reminds his
readers of the stoical and creative way in which
Hogarth awaited his death, and exhorts them to use
this last work as a visual aid and complement to his
own final statements. At the same time, he follows
Hogarth's method of revealing his sources and thereby
introduces not only a distancing device, but also a
burlesque element into the grief and bewilderment
aroused by the knowledge of certain death.
The universality of this despair is demonstrated
by the number and long tradition of the emblems for
the end of all things which Hogarth has assembled.
Bonaventura matches these by the many references to
mankind's dread of death and the human impotence to
penetrate with rational means beyond it. In both
cases, puns and allusions are used to create the mood
of inescapability and inevitability, and their
prevalence reveals a pattern of deliberate intent.
Hogarth's skill in working with allusions and
puns is well recognized, and Paulson describes his
last work as punning "on a scale unprecedented even
16
Antal, pp. 167-68.

Ill
in his work."17 Bartenschlager observes a similar
concentration of coded cues when he calls the
Niqhtwatches "a literary echo gallery."18
Hogarth's integration into Bonaventura's
narration is no less thorough and organic than that
of Shakespeare, and many other Hogarthian touches can
be discerned besides those which have already been
noted by critics. The poor poet, whose towering
aspirations contrast ludicrously with the demeaning
restrictions imposed on him by his poverty, is
another figure which connects the world of Kreuzgang
to that of Hogarth. In his Distressed Poet (1736)
Hogarth was one of the first to highlight through art
the plight of the unsuccessful idealist who has to
subsist in a garret while planning to improve the
universe. Notes scattered all over the floor testify
to his disconsolateness, and at the same time reveal
the direction in which his thoughts are taking wing.
A drawn sword hints at thoughts of suicide. A
famished dog (not mice as in the Eighth Nightwatch,
p.129) gnaws on a book, symbol for the highest
achievement a writer can attain. The painting, Antal
17 Ed. Paulson, Hogarth: His Life, Art and
Times. p. 409.
18
Bartenschlager, p. 349.

112
suggests, may have been inspired by Henry Fielding's
Author's Farce (1730).19
Lichtenberg discussed the Distressed Poet in his
almanac of 1790, where he added the subtitle "Der
Dichter in der Noth”—the poet in need/despair. A
suicide who hanged himself in a garret was shown by
Hogarth in his Gin Lane (1751) . An almanac article
of 1795 deals with this and its companion print Beer
Street.
When Lichtenberg began his more elaborate
separate commentaries in 1794, he started the new
series with Strolling Actresses dressing in a Barn
(1738).20 The exuberance of emblematic detail in
this print lends itself particularly well to
sophisticated interpretation, and therefore it had
already been selected as one of the subjects for the
first of Lichtenberg's Hogarth articles in 1784. The
incongruity of the poetic imagination in the face of
a humbling reality is once again the general topic of
the satire.
A company of strolling players is shown in the
sgualor of a barn preparing themselves for their
stage appearance as queens and goddesses. An actor,
dressed as deus ex machina, hangs his socks for
19 Antal, p. 102.
20 Promies, Vol. Ill, pp. 669-88.

113
drying on the theatrical thunderclouds, a detail
echoed when the marionette theater director in the
Fifteenth Nightwatch hangs himself on stage from a
cloud (p. 227) . Each object is an integral part of
the scene and at the same time an emblem, and every
gesture and action is loaded with actual as well as
symbolic meaning. Hogarth offers a hilarious view of
life behind the curtains, and at the same time a
theater-metaphor that unmasks the pretensions and the
tragedy of life.
Lichtenberg starts his exposition with the
question, why men are present when the artist calls
his work Strolling Actresses, and he concludes that
from Hogarth significance must always be expected,
most of all in his choice of titles. Lichtenberg
uses all available clues—theatre bills strewn on the
floor between broken eggs, a chamber pot and a
discarded pair of breeches, and an Act of Parliament
against strolling players (1737) prominently
deposited next to another chamber pot near an
emperor's crown—to detect in the crowded scene a
coded call of defiance by the spirited women against
the parliamentary supression of their art. Thus a
comical, lively scene contains a universal parable of
life, but on another level presents a particular

114
dilemma to which Hogarth wants to draw special
attention.21
Such subtle, multi-layered satire, and the art
of fusing several messages together delighted
Lichtenberg, who was himself a master of suggesting
implications with the fewest possible words. So is
Bonaventura, who adds to his impressive display of
theatre-metaphors when he has his Clown declare in
the Prologue:
What is the point of seriousness anyway? Man is
a facetious animal by birth, and he merely
acts on a larger stage than do the actors on
the small one inserted into this big one as in
Hamlet; however importantly he may want to take
things, in the wings he must still put off
crown, sceptre and theatrical dagger and creep
into his little dark chamber as an exited
comedian, until it pleases the director to
announce a new comedy, (p. 139)22
Thus the Clown sums up in a nutshell Hogarth's
parable of the strolling actresses as interpreted by
Lichtenberg.
Placing the crown next to the chamber pot is a
typical Hogarthian ploy. While Lichtenberg
particularly admired these touches, Goethe spoke for
most educated Germans when he found fault with such
crude naturalism. Moore points out that Fielding,
21 Promies, Vol. Ill, pp. 669-71.
22 The reference to "a new comedy" is one of the
many indications that Kreuzgang expects existence
after death.

115
like Hogarth, met with similar objections in England,
for he "refused to idealize his characters, thus to
most contemporaties they were 'low.'"23 The
Nightwatches stand in the same tradition and have
still to contend with criticism of their deliberate
menippean mixture of the coarse and ludicrous with
the sublime.
The theater perspective is also used in the
illustrations for a new edition of The New
Metamorphosis (first published 1708) , one of the
first commissions with which Hogarth was entrusted.
The work is an opportunistic adaptation of Apuleius'
Golden Ass by Charles Gildon (1665-1724), an English
writer now mainly remebered through Pope's
disparaging mention of him in the Dunciad. Gildon
added considerable spice to the classic tale by
transforming his protagonist not into an ass, but
rather a Bolognese lap dog, an animal with
considerably better opportunities to observe human
frailties at close quarters. The racy interludes
which he introduced were mainly of the Decameronic
kind. Most of the serious concerns which distinguish
The Golden Ass by Apuleius were thereby lost; but
Gildon tried to preserve some vestige of symbolic
significance by treating his main characters
23
Moore, p. 157.

116
allegorically. The protagonist is therefore turned
into Fantasio, a permanent child in appearance but a
man in mind and deed, while his mother is Donna Musa
des Intentiones.
The second edition in 1724 was illustrated by
the comparatively inexperienced and unknown Hogarth,
and unlike his later practice he simply supplied
mostly reissues of already existing plates.24 The
frontispiece shows two asses accompanying Apuleius
and Lucian, the classic masters of the menippea, and
the originators of the plot. Two satyrs support the
four figures, thereby advertising The New
Metamorphosis as a satire. These six figures
foreground a scene from Gildon's tale. Hogarth added
only minor but significant details: a church which
represents the spiritual dimension required of the
menippea, and a curtain through which a view of the
action can be gained, a visible expression of the
satirical contention that life is but a stage play.
From the original, Gildon retained the long tale
of Amor and Psyche, one of the earliest digressions
in menippean literature, and the most popular of them
all. It has no other connection with the main story
than that it is recounted to comfort and encourage a
24 Ronald Paulson, Hogarth's Graphic Works. 1st
compl. ed. rev. (New Haven: Yale University Press,
1970). Vol. II, Nr. 38, Cat. Nos. 35 ff.

117
damsel in distress, but it suggests lofty spiritual
dimensions behind the tragic-comic trials and
tribulations of the main plot.
The Fourth Plate in this series ( Nr. 41, Cat.
Nr. 38) is of special interest in connection with the
Niqhtwatches. It is the only one which Hogarth added
himself, and it could almost pass for an illustration
of the moment in the Niqhtwatches where the alchemist
shoemaker finds the coffer containing a child instead
of the expected treasure. Hogarth's infant is fully
dressed, and the scene, instead of crossroads, is a
dilapidated room in a desolate castle to which the
dwarf Fantasio had been forced to flee, hidden in a
trunk. Of the three persons present, the servant who
accompanied the boy corresponds to the shoemaker,
especially as he stands near a tripod which Hogarth
added—just like Bonaventura—to introduce a touch of
the supernatural (p. 65) . The mistress of the ruin
can be described in the very words which Kreuzgang
uses for his gypsy mother, a "great gigantic figure,"
(p. 233) "with shaggy hair tousled about her
forehead" (p. 61). In Gildon's Metamorphosis she is
the witch Invidosa, and the little refugee who seeks
her protection is horror-struck when he finds that
she expects him to become her lover. In his
reluctant embrace she changes, however, into a

118
beautiful young girl, and a passionate love affair
with a tragic ending ensues.
Gildon's enchantress is thus a variation of the
mythical demons who personify the human passions
which afford a vision of never ending bliss, but lead
to loneliness and death. Her affinity to Kreuzgang's
gypsy mother illuminates the allegorical significance
of his ill-assorted parents, and the human dichotomy
which they symbolize.
A woman very much like that appeared to
Lichtenberg in the last dream he found significant
enough to record. This occurred during the night of
February 9th to 10th in the month of his death, and
concerns a strange and seemingly senseless encounter
in a country pub where people played dice. A "tall
bony woman" sat nearby and knitted, reminiscent of
the goulish female-spectators around the guillotine,
who counted their stitches together with the heads
that rolled. When the dreamer asked her what could
be won in the dice game, she answered "Nothing," and
the encounter ends on this single word as
tantalisingly as the Nightwatches. leaving the reader
to draw his own conclusions (L 707) . While such a
woman represents irrational and subconscious traits,
the spiritual side of humanity with its intellectual
demands and unfulfillable striving towards

119
perfection, as symbolised by gold, is represented by
the alchemist father.
The pain and pressure exerted by the
incompatability of such extremes in human nature is
expressed by Bonaventura with the emblematic skill of
Hogarth by a term from genetics, lex cruciata (p.
Ill) . While this indicates the biological law of
crossbreeding, the expression could also be
translated as the rule that life eguals agonizing
suffering.
The child seen on the Third Woodcut (p. 63) is
as yet undisturbed by conflicting passions. The
dichotomy of body and soul is, however, already
apparent as symbolized by the particulary racy
Shrovetide plays of the shoemaker and mastersinger
Hans Sachs (1494-1576), on which the infant Kreuzgang
sits, and the book from which he feeds his mind,
Bohme's Aurora. The body position emphasizes the
split in human personality once more by assigning the
books to his upper and lower regions, and by allowing
him close contact with the earthy artisan poet, while
access to the mystic speculations of Bohrne is
attained through the windows of the soul, the eyes.
Bonaventura uses paintings to establish emblems
and allegories in Hogarth's manner, and to compress
his narration, while at the same time activating the

120
reader's imagination and participation. For this
reason the early years of the poor poet are also
explained through a painting, which supplies instant
information about a happy and loved childhood (p.
131) . Numerous phrases and metaphors witness to
Bonaventura's habitual pictorial thinking.
Lichtenberg's interest in the visual arts was
intense, for he regarded them as a prime repository
for the development, change and dispersal of ideas.
His knowledge of the great works of art was
extensive, and he was especially well placed while in
London as guest of the King and of many great houses
to acquaint himself with great works, as well as with
the critical theories about them. He left a record
of many artists and celebrated works which he saw
during his second visit to England, and mentions
among others an impressive head of the blind Homer.25
When his passionately desired project of visiting
Rome came to nothing, Lichtenberg communicated his
keen dissapointment to Johann Gottwert Müller in the
self-satirizing form of an abbreviated tragedy, where
he condenses his frustrated hopes and interest into
acts. "In the second act," he reports, "Laokoon made
25 See Lichtenberg in England, ed. Gumbert,
Vol. I, p. 106. Homer's Head from the collection of
Dr. Mead as illustration of the many classical
sculptures which Lichtenberg saw in England.

121
his appearance, the Apollo of Belvedere and the
Medici Venus in Florence; all walls were covered with
Raphaels and Corregios."26
Every one of these highlights in Lichtenberg's
vision of Italy is mentioned by Bonaventura. He has
integrated the visual arts into his tale in a truly
original manner, but in the didactic spirit of the
enlightenment, as expressed by Jonathan Richardson
(1665-1745) in his Theory of Painting (1715),
according to whom they should be "esteemed not only
as an enjoyment, but as another language, which
completes the whole art of communicating our
thoughts." Richardson sees painting as a means of
passing on information, and he formulates the
attitude of the enlightenment when he claims:
The great and chief ends of painting are to
raise and improve nature; and to communicate
ideas; not only those which we may receive
26 Promies IV, 1784, p. 593.
Bonaventura uses Correggio's Nativity to illustrate
the symbolic meaning of light at the death of the
freethinker. "It is the double illumination in the
Correggio night and fuses the earthly and heavenly
ray into one marvellous splendour" (p. 33).
That "the splendour radiating from the figure of
Christ throws light all around," and that "mortal
eyes cannot bear" such "rays of supernatural light"
was already noticed by Giorgio Vasari, The Lives of
the Artists (1550 and 1568), sel. and tr. George
Bull, New York: Penguin Books, (1965) 1977 p. 281.
Following Vasari many later critics commented on
this dual source of light, among them Sir Joshua
Reynolds in his Discourses (1769-90), and long before
him Jonathan Richardson in his Theory of Painting
(1715).

122
otherwise, but such as without this art
could not possibly be communicated; whereby
mankind is advanced higher in the rational
state, and made better; and that in a way easy,
expeditious, and delightful.27
He also refers to it as "this hieroglyphic language
[that] completes what words or writing began and
sculpture carried on, and thus perfects all that
human nature is capable of in the communication of
ideas, till we arrive at a more angelical and
spiritual state in another world." Bonaventura has
developed this idea to include music, "the mysctic
hieroglyph (93)," which bridges the gap between
intellectual and emotional understanding. "It is the
first sweet sound of the distant beyond, and the muse
of song is the mystical sister who points the ways to
heaven" (p. 37) . Lessing based several of his
theories on the relation between writing and the
visual arts on Richardson's works. Sometimes he even
used the same examples, for instance Timanthes'
technique which so impressed Bonaventura (p. 197) of
conveying inexpressible grief by shrouding the
face.28 Lessing's opinion that Timanthes refrained
from displaying his artistic brilliance out of
27 Jonathan Richardson, Works (1773; rpt.
Hildesheim: Georg 01ms, 1969), p.247. The facsimile
is reproduced from a copy in the possession of the
Library of the University of Gottingen.
28 Richardson, pp. 21, 256 and p. 52.

123
compassion with suffering, and that he veiled the
grief that could not be alleviated, has to be taken
into account when Kreuzgang's reactions to the
misfortunes of others are assessed.29
Laokoon pleads for artistic restraint not only
out of compassion, but also from aesthetic
consideration. Lessing admits of but one exception
to this rule: when starvation is the subject. His
paradigm is Ugolino from Dante's Inferno. Canto XXX,
and Ugolino is also shown in the extremities of his
plight in the Nightwatches (p. 133).
As Bonaventura deviates in some details from
Dante's description, it is generally assumed that his
source must have been the drama Ugolino (1768) by
Heinrich Wilhelm von Gerstenberg (1737-1823). It is
not known whether Lichtenberg knew this tragedy,
though he was familiar with Gerstenberg with whom he
became acquainted as editor of the Gottingische
29 Lessing, Vol. XI, "Wie die Alten den Tod
gebildet: eine Untersuchung," (1769), pp. 3-55.
Lessing arrives here at the conclusion that the
youthful genii with inverted torches on antique
sarcophaguses are personifications of death. From
this he deduced that death was not experienced as
gruesome in classical times, an opinion which he
finds reinforced by the conception of Sleep and Death
as twin brothers (p. 11). Vol. IX, "Laokoon: Oder
über die Grenzen der Malerei und Poesie." l.Teil
1766, pp. 16-17.

124
Maqazin.30 But on his second sojourn in England he
made a special note of two prints, one of them being
an Ugolino painted by West and engraved by Green.31
George III had appointed the American Benjamin
West in 1772 as court painter. Lichtenberg's
references to him must therefore be taken seriously,
though the Ugolino print could not be located in the
collections of the British Museum or of Her Majesty
the Queen, and it is not included in The Paintings of
Beniamin West by H. v. Erffa and A. Staley.32
This episode from the Inferno was a popular
topic for painters at the time, for the example of
Ugolino had been chosen by the Richardson to advance
his own contention that painting is superior to all
the other arts. Arranging history, poetry, sculpture
and painting in ascending order, he bases his
argument, somewhat ingeniously, on the judgment that
Dante improved considerably on the account of the
Florentine historian Vallani. A bas-relief wrongly
attributed to Michelangelo was appraised by
Richardson as surpassing both of them, and he
30 Promies, Vol. Ill, p. 395, No. 269: Letter to
Heinrich Wilhelm von Gerstenberg, 1780.
31 Ed.Gumbert, Lichtenberq in England. Vol. I,
p. 37.
32 Helmut v. Erffa and Allen Staley, The
Paintings of Beniamin West (New Haven: Yale
University Press), 1986.

125
clenches his proof by claiming "could we see the same
story painted by the same great master, it will be
easily conceived that his must carry the matter still
farther." Therefore: "painting compleats [sic] and
perfects . . . this is the utmost limit of human
power in the communication of ideas." 33
Richardson, a fashionable though undistinguished
artist, was a discerning art critic. As friend of
Pope, Gay and Prior, he was sensitized to the
intellectual currents of his time, and his Theory of
Painting was the first important work on aesthetic
theory by an English author. Lessing was influenced
by a French translation, and used and refined many of
his ideas. Richardson advocated interest in art as a
way of improving perception and manners, and his view
of painting was that it should serve to raise and
improve nature, and above all to communicate ideas.
This concept, especially regarding the dissemination
of ideas, was accepted by Lessing and Lichtenberg, as
by all art critics of the enlightenment. Bonaventura
also accepts Richardson's claim that "painting has
another advantage over words; and that is, it pours
ideas into our minds, words only drop them. The
33 Richardson, "A Discourse on the Science of a
Connoisseur," pp. 241-346, pp. 256-263.

126
whole scene opens at one view, whereas the other way
lifts up the curtain little by little."34
Richardson's challenge concerning the Ugolino-
theme was only taken up after his son republished his
works in 1773, and dedicated them to Sir Joshua
Reynolds, President of the Royal Academy and Fellow
of the Royal Society. Sir Joshua rose to the
occasion, and his painting Ugolino was finished in
the same year and exhibited to general acclaim at the
Royal Academy. A mezzotint of this work was produced
by J. Dixon in the following year.
Prominent among the painters of the
enlightenment who followed Richardson's precepts was
Heinrich Füssli (1741-1825), or Henry Fuseli as he
was called when he settled in England after he became
involved in a controversy with the city fathers of
his native Zürich, and had to flee with his fellow
culprit, Johann Kaspar Lavater (1741-1801). His art
visualises in Richardsonian manner all the major
intellectual and literary trends of his time. Like
Richardson and Hogarth, Fuseli was a painter with a
passionate interest in a variety of contemporary
concerns, and he became closely associated with
leading minds in England—especially Garrick and his
34
p. 2.
Richardson, "Theory of Painting,"
pp. 1-157,

127
circle, and later with Blake. He also kept in touch
with events in Germany, and remained close to
Lavater, and through him to Goethe and the Weimar
writers.
Fuseli's work is filled with menippean images
and the extremes which are an integral part of the
genre. He was fascinated by the power and serene
perfection of classic art, but more so by irrational
passions and emotions, by dreams and the
superstitious recesses of the human mind. Much of
his work is of disturbing intensity, but he could
also command the satiric vein, and his first drawing
of the Ugolino-theme is a mock-heroic parody of the
grand manner. He was inspired by classic ideals, as
well as by Shakespeare, Milton, the Ossianic
rhapsodies and the German epic tradition, but his
paintings also witness to the doubts and torments of
the late enlightenment. His themes, which parallel
largely those of Bonaventura, mirror with exceptional
intensity the intellectual developments of the late
enlightenment and its affinity to romanticism.

CHAPTER IV
ROBERT BURTON (1577-1649) AND THE SATIRIC
TRADITION OF ENGLISH
LITERATURE IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY.
In the words of Northrop Frye, "the Menippean
satirist, dealing with intellectual themes and
attitudes, shows his exuberance in intellectual ways,
by piling up an enormous mass of erudition about his
theme." Hence Frye regards Burton's Anatomy of
Melancholy, for which "this creative treatment of
exhaustive erudition is the organizing principle," as
"the greatest Menippean satire in English before
Swift."1 If we trace Burton's influence upon
eighteenth-century English satire, we can begin to
understand how this tradition of exhausitve
erudition, in which the Niohtwatches participate,
indicates Bonaventura's orientation towards England.
Robert Burton's massive work was published in
1621 under the pseudonym Democritus Junior, a name
that was to provide the reader with a proper
perspective. Democritus, as Burton recalls in a
1 Frye, Anatomy. p. 311.
128

129
lengthy introduction, was a philosopher who found the
perpetual follies of his fellow men a source of never
ending amusement. The mostly tragic anecdotes from
human history cramming the pages of the Anatomy are
thus presented as a tragi-comedy; the human condition
appears both pitiable and ludicrous.
The address of "Democritus Junior to the Reader"
starts with a stage metaphor, adding a further
indication of the satirical intention:
Gentle Reader, I presume thou wilt be very
inquisitive to know what antick or personate
actor this is that so insolently intrudes upon
this common theatre to the world's view,
arrogating another man's name; whence he is, why
he doth it, and what he hath to say.2
Reader participation, which is such an essential part
of the menippean tradition, is therewith demanded
from the beginning. Burton takes such cooperation
for granted, while later satirists solicit it much
less openly and much more subtly. Swift, in
particular, displayed fertile invention in assuring
the reader's attention. Next Burton defines his
theme by quoting Martial:
No Centaurs here, or Goraons look to find
Mv subject is of man, and human kind.
2 Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy. Ed.
Floyd Dell and Paul Jordan-Smith (1621; New York:
Tudor Publishing Co., 1948). "Democritus Junior to
the Reader," p. 11.

130
Still addressing the reader, he paraphrases this
statement bluntly in his own words, "Thou thyself art
the subject of my discourse." While the focus of the
satire is thus turned onto the reader, and he is
warned not to laugh at others without first examining
his own record, Burton does not exempt himself. He
calls repeatedly to mind that "Democritus himself had
a merry kind of madness," and he always includes
himself when speaking of human failings: "No man
amongst us so sound, of so good a constitution, that
hath not some impediment of body or mind. We have
all our infirmities, first or last, more or less."3
References to the famous and the obscure of all
ages, and copious quotations from ancients and
moderns alike, are not just casual asides with which
the author of the Anatomy parades his learning. They
constitute the core of his method to present human
deviations from rational behaviour as comprehensively
and from as many different angles as possible.
Wherever feasible, examples from classic literature
are therefore paired with illustrations from the
scriptures, and pagan and Christian writers are set
side by side. All contribute to the depressing
realisation that human folly prevails everywhere and
transcends all ages and creeds.
3
Burton, p. 11; pp. 341, 119.

131
To achieve comprehensiveness, Bonaventura
likewise couples references from classical authors
and the scriptures, though, as he aims at utmost
brevity, he is allusive where Burton is deliberately
discursive and copious. From the scriptures both
authors parallel particularly Ecclesiasticus with its
themes of human folly, madness and despair; the view
that "much study is a weariness to the flesh" (Eccl.
XII, 12), and the recurrent theme that "all is
vanity."
By amassing evidence of irrational passions, and
by heaping example upon example, Burton turns
suffering and pathos into the absurd. Ever willing
to disclose his procedures and sources, he describes
the serio-comic attitude with which the menippea
reacts to human tragedies when he confesses that he
"did sometimes laugh and scoff with Lucian, and
satirically tax with Menippus, sometimes again I was
bitterly mirthful, and then again burning with rage;
I was much moved to see that abuse which I could not
amend."4 Kreuzgang's reactions approximate this
oxymoronic attitude very closely.
Burton's aim is to investigate how "passions and
perturbations of the Mind" cause melancholy, and he
considers man a "microcosm" in which "the body works
4
Burton, p. 15.

132
upon the mind . . . sending gross fumes into the
brain, and so disturbing the soul, and all faculties
of it." In support of this view he guotes Horace:
The body, clogged with yesterday's excess.
Drags down the mind as wellT5
The spirit, prevented from soaring off into higher
regions by the gross demands of the body, is one of
the basic subjects of menippean satire, and the
Anatomy thrives on this dichotomy. As the
physician's skill during the seventeenth century was
far from refined and Burton never minced words, some
of his proposed remedies are crude indeed. Never,
though, obscene, for he is not after titillation but
searches earnestly to reconcile the inherent passions
and longings of human nature with reality.
His method seems deceptively simple, a mere
compilation of the collective wisdom and experience
of the ages. By clever juxtaposition he exposes,
however, confusion and contradiction everywhere.
What one sage recommends another is sure to condemn,
and when good advice is unanimous, people are bound
to disregard it. While human knowledge is thereby
held up to ridicule, Burton is also teaching the
useful lesson that nothing must be believed without
the test of experience. Only by sifting the evidence
5
Burton, p. 217.

133
and by using inherited knowledge to practical ends is
progress possible, and this idea is illustrated by
the parable which Burton attributes to a Didacus
Stella : "A dwarf standing on the shoulders of a
Giant may see farther than a Giant himself."6
Burton recommends with this simile how human
insights should be advanced by patient accumulation
of knowledge, and explains how he created out of the
mass of inherited erudition what Bakhtin calls "the
deliberate multi-styled and heterovoiced nature of
all" serio-comic genres, which "reject the stylistic
unity" natural to other genres, and are characterized
by "multi-toned narration, the mixing of high and low
. . . inserted genres—letters, found manuscripts,
retold dialogues, parodies on the high genres,
parodically reinterpreted citations."7 Out of this
"vast Chaos and confusion of books" Burton has shaped
something entirely new and unique, and he expresses
awareness of this in the words of one Macrobius: "tis
all mine and none mine." He constantly reveals not
only his sources, but also his methods, and so he
tells us that his amalgamation is "as a good house¬
wife out of divers fleeces weaves one piece of cloth,
a bee gathers wax and honey out of many flowers, and
6 Burton, p. 20.
7 Bakhtin, Problems. p. 108.

134
makes a new bundle of all."8 Bonaventura's technique
is closely attuned to this method.
The parable of the bees is ascribed by Burton to
Lucretius and Varro, and it was later used and
cleverly expanded by Swift in his Battle of the
Books. Swift follows Burton also in using the
pseudonym as a guide to the reader with which he must
interpret the satiric intention of a work. His crass
use of scatological imagery echoes the language of
the Anatomy while Sterne, who borrowed and
paraphrased freely from Burton, replaced offending
crudeness with hints and allusions.
When medical and rational means fail to cure a
patient from melancholy—which in Burton's view is a
serious, but still reversible step towards madness—
he recommends psychological remedies, and flinches
not from deceit. He claims:
The pleasantest dotage that ever I read, said
Laurentius, was of a Gentleman at Senes in
Italy, who was afraid to piss, lest all the Town
should be drowned; the Physicians caused the
bells to be rung backward, and told him the
Town was on fire, whereupon he made water, and
was immediately cured.9
Gulliver saves the burning apartments of the
Empress in Liliput in a manner strongly reminiscent
8 Burton, p. 19.
9 Burton, p. 477.

135
of this anecdote.10 There is also an unmistakable
affinity between Burton's anecdote and case history
No.1 in the Ninth Nightwatch. When Kreuzgang
introduces this unfortunate lunatic by referring to
numerous ancient examples of misapplied greatness, "a
Curtius, Coriolanus, Regulus and the like," he uses
Burton's accumulative manner of confirmation as if to
draw attention to a connection with the Anatomy. The
insanity of No.l consists
in valuing mankind too high and himself too low;
therefore in contrast to bad poets, he retains
his body fluids because he fears bringing on a
general deluge through their release, (p. 147)
Equating generally-admired martial heroes, like
Coriolan, with insanity accords also with Burton's
procedure. He classifies the urge to conquer and
dominate as a grievous aberration of the mind and
thus as a clear sign of madness. Burton's piquant
and amusing story is not simply retold in the
Nightwatches. but has been reshaped into a parable of
general significance by translating it into an
allegory. Every detail is transposed onto a
different plane and a singular, peculiar incident is
10 Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels and Other
Writings by Jonathan Swift. Ed. and intr. Miriam Kosh
Starkmann (1962; Toronto: Bantam Books,1981). From
the revised ed. of 1735. The original title is
Travels into several Remote Nations of the World by
Lemuel Gulliver, first Surgeon and then a Captain of
several Ships (1726). Part I, Chapt. v.

136
thereby transformed into a metaphor for the anguish
of a productive mind, unable to find an outlet for
its titanic creativity.
In a Germany conditioned by Greek orientated
idealism and the high standards of classical beauty,
scatological metaphors were not appreciated, nor
likely to be interpreted as parables of existential
significance. In his metonymic manipulation of the
Italian tale Bonaventura also uses an idea which
Lichtenberg recorded in some notes for a proposed
satire around April 1776: "Seine gelehrte Nothdurft
auf Papier verrichten,"—to respond to the learned
call of nature on paper.
Burton's definition of madness as a more violent
stage of melancholy,11 and of melancholy as a state
to which everybody is prone, in particular scholars
and thinkers, strongly stimmulated eighteenth-
century preoccupation with madness. It is also
helpful in understanding Kreuzgang's use of madness
as a metonym for the irrational predicament that man
is compelled to search for knowledge, though Eccl. I,
17, 18 has already lamented that "in much wisdom is
much grief: and he that increaseth knwoledge
increaseth sorrow."
11
Burton, p. 122.

137
Such "syncrisis (that is, juxtaposition)" is
typical of the menippea, and leads to the "sharp
contrasts and oxymoronic combinations" which are so
characteristic of the genre.12 In this spirit Burton
assembles from myths, history and the Bible suitable
grounds for consolation "against Sorrow for Death of
Friends or otherwise," adding "and so should we
rather be glad for such as die well, that they are so
happily freed from the miseries of this life." He
even relates how the Thracians wept "when a child was
born, feasted and made mirth when any man was
buried."13 The funeral oration which Kreuzgang
composed as a christening gift to his foster-father's
little son is part of this oxymoronic ancient
tradition (p. 113). While it satirically repeats the
age-old negative view of life, it satirizes at the
same time those who thought that "the title [of his
christening oration] was a mistake" (p. 114) , both
for their blindness to the tragedy of life and for
their unfamiliarity with classic and biblical
precedent.
Northrop Frye notes that the menippea has
"baffled critics, and there is hardly any fiction
writer deeply influenced by it who has not been
12 Bakhtin, Problems. pp. 115-16, p. 118.
13 Burton, p. 539.

138
accused of disorderly conduct."14 Typifying this
loose construction, Burton often interrupts the flow
of his narration with digressions? his explanation
for the first suffices for them all: "I hold it not
impertinent to make a brief digression . . . for the
better understanding of that which is to follow; . .
. it may peradventure give occasion to some men, to
examine more accurately, search farther into this
most excellent subject."15 Swift uses digressions in
his Tale of a Tub in like manner, and Bonaventura' s
many interpolations are also intended for the same
purpose and stand in the same tradition. Rosemary
Hunter, who regards digressions as "the salient
structural device" in the Nicrhtwatches. sees in them
a special link to Sterne,16 who in turn was strongly
influenced by Burton.
By guoting copiously from Horace and from
Juvenal, Burton managed to combine the two schools of
satire represented by these classic authors: elegant
ridicule and burning indignation. Bonaventura
attempts a similar fusion, providing a reference to
14 Frye, p. 313.
15 Burton, p. 127.
16 Rosemarie Hunter, "Nachtwachen von
Bonaventura and Tristram Shandy." Canadian Review of
Comparative Literature. CRCL/RCLC, I, 1974, pp. 218-
34, p. 227.

139
Juvenal by the unusual number of his chapters and by
careful organization of his narration into five
cycles,17 and to Horace by direct mention of his
Letter to the Pisans, also known as Ars Poética (p.
195) .
Burton's exhaustive treatment of his chosen
subject, mankind itself, assured that later writers
had to use many of his topics and satirical devices.
His influence can therefore be traced in much of
English eighteenth-century literature, but the form
of encyclopedic compilation which he chose for his
satire was rarely re-used, though Frye proposes to
adopt the word anatomy as a replacement for the term
menippea.18
However, Daniel Defoe in his History of the
Devil does provide such an anatomy.19 In this rather
uneven work Defoe (1661-1731) follows the conception
and reception of the Devil from biblical times
onwards. Defoe's irony and witty observations begin
to sparkle when he reaches contemporary
manifestations of this ancient enemy of mankind; and
17 Terras, pp. 23-25.
18 Frye, pp. 311-12.
19 Daniel Defoe, The History of the Devil.
Ancient and Modern in Two Parts (172 8; rpr. E. P.
Publishing Ltd., 1927), from the 1819 London ed. by
T. Kelly.

140
he warns especially against self-assured
sophistication, which denies the existence of demons
and therefore falls easy prey to the devil when he
appears in his modern elegant guise in guite ordinary
and thus unexpected surroundings.
Defoe presents the cloven foot as the sign of
the goat, and he believes that this animal was chosen
to represent evil because of its similarity to sheep,
which are the symbol of the saved. In a variation on
the old theme of duality, already inherent in the
devil's origin as a fallen angel, he presents the
dangers of evil not in their abhorrent traits, but
precisely in their affinity to goodness, which allows
perversion in unguarded moments. To drive this moral
home Defoe points out that the ram and swine also
have a cloven hoof.20
Interpreted in this light, Kreuzgang's limp is
not just a mark of his godfather, the devil, but a
sign of the split human nature in a much wider
context. He himself draws attention to this double
aspect when he mentions Vulcan almost casually in the
same paragraph in which he tells of his affliction
(p. 53), for Vulcan's limp was caused by a fall from
Olympus, just as Satan's by expulsion from heaven.
20
Defoe, p. 288.

141
Both were punished for aspiring to be like the
highest god, an ambition which is inherent in the
in the quest for knowledge to which Kreuzgang is
committed.
Defoe points out the frequent idiomatic
appearance of the devil in everyday language, and
plays with such oxymoronic combinations as "a dear
devil,"also "the keenest little devil," or "merry
devils." He quotes proverbial references to the
devil's misshapen ugliness, warning not to rely on
this image. Now, he explains, the devil acts "in the
grand manner," having finally caught up with the
polite principles and the refined wickedness
developed during the Roman Empire. From a
terrifying spectre, that frightened off all but the
most depraved and desperate, he has turned himself
into a man of the world, ready to deceive even the
most goodnatured and innocent.21 It is this
polished devil who hovers in the background of the
Niohtwatches. and shows himself openly in the short
fragment, also attributed to Bonaventura, "The
Devil's Almanac."22
21 Defoe, p. 324, p. 335, pp. 338-339, p. 412.
22 Ed. Paulsen, Nachtwachen. "Des Teufels
Taschenbuch," p. 145-47.

142
The blue light, which burns during Kreuzgang's
conception (p.235) is mentioned several times in The
History of the Devil, where Defoe reports "all insist
that the candles burnt blue, and all pretended that
the Devil was certainly in the room, and was the
occasion of it."23 The gypsy mother's enigmatic
reference to blue light as an indication of the
devil's presence accords with Defoe's reference. In
German folklore blue light has ambiguous
connotations, and can also indicate the location of
hidden treasure or confer magical powers.24
When Kreuzgang sits before the mirror of his
imagination and perceives among other reflections
staring at him "en face the devil as well" (p. Ill) ,
the experience is reminiscent of an incident related
by Defoe. A girl was teasingly assured that the
devil could even assume her pleasing appearance, and
to prove this a specially prepared mirror was
teasingly handed to her which "had a hollow case so
framed behind a looking-glass," that she could see
the Devil's face with her own superimposed on it.
23 Defoe, pp. 392-93, p. 382.
24 Handwórterbuch des deutschen Aberolaubens.
Ed. H. Báchtold-Stáubli (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter,
1927), entries on "blau" and "Licht." Cf. The
Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm. Tr. and
intr. Jack Zipes (New York: Bantam Books, 1987), No.
116. "The Blue Light," pp. 418-21.

143
The terrified maiden was then told with idiomatic
ambiguity, "it was nothing but her own natural
picture, she proves herself still to be the devil of
a lady."25
Another anecdote from The History of the Devil,
this one taken by Defoe from Rocheford's Memoires. p.
179, also resurfaces in the Nightwatches. It tells
how the magistrates of Bern in Switzerland, finding
that French actors opened a puppet show in their
tranquil town, "had certainly condemned the poor
puppets to the flame for devils, and censured, if not
otherwise punished their masters."26 The same
disaster—updated to satirize the fear and frenzy
surrounding the French Revolution—befalls Kreuzgang
and his marionettes. "Servants of the court .
took the entire company prisoners in the name of the
state, because they had been declared politically
dangerous" (p. 227).
At Lichtenberg's death only Vol. II of The
Adventures of Robinson Crusoe from the London, 1776
edition was in his library (No. 1640) . Two short
notes show, however, that his interest in Defoe was
active and continuing: an entry on the inside of the
cover to his note book K, "To read Defoe's writings.
25
Defoe,
pp.
328-29.
26
Defoe,
pp.
328-29, pp. 402-03

144
An essay on his life and works in the European
Magazine 1793. January and February,"27 and one from
his diary of 1775 "The political history and modern
history of the Devil contains here and there some
very good humour and satire."28
The same diary, written during the second
sojourn in England, also contains a critical
appraisal of two plays by Samuel Foote (1720-77), and
Lichtenberg was especially intrigued by one of them,
The Devil upon two Sticks, which he saw on May 15th,
1775. Though he regarded it as written without any
plan, he admired the topical multi-directed satire of
the play, especially that against the medical
profession, which he found far more bitter than in
Moliere.29 The comedy is among three by Foote which
Lichtenberg owned (No. 1773, 1773a, 1774). Loosely
based on Alain-René LeSage's Le diable boiteux
(1707), with its modernn devil, Foot's farce owed
its exceptional success to its satiric attack on
current affairs.
Numerous similarities between LeSage's work and
the Nightwatches were already noticed by Hermann
27 Ed. Leitzmann, Aphorismen. Vol. 141, p. 141.
28 Ed. Gumbert, Lichtenberg in England. Vol. I,
p. 163.
29 Ed. Gumbert, Lichtenberg in England. Vol. I,
p. 145.

145
Michel in 1904.30 Above all they share the episodic
structure for which unity is provided by a lame and
physically ill favoured protagonist, and this is also
the organizing arrangement in Foote's comedy. Few of
the other features which the Nightwatches have in
common with LeSage's menippea were, however, used by
Foote, and Bonaventura must therefore have been
acquainted with LeSage himself.
Lichtenberg owned a bi-lingual edition of Gil
Bias (NO. 1733), and he preferred this work, together
with the Arabian Nights. Robinson Crusoe, and Tom
Jones "a thousand times to the Messiah" by Klopstock
(F 69). Gil Bias features also in the observation:
Robber's caves have already been used in fiction
by Lucian, who is said to have in his turn taken
them from an earlier source; Apuleius, Heliodor,
Aristo, Spenser and Le Sage J 352.
Written in early 1790 this note bears witness to
Lichtenberg's interest in the latest romantic
literary trends, as well as to his customary
thoroughness in tracing all phenomena back to their
origins as far as possible. This characteristic
allows us to assume Lichtenberg's familiarity with
the serio-comic Le diable boiteux. in which Burton's
themes of madness are combined with the Anatomy's
30
Michel, pp. xvii-xviii.

146
search for "perfect knowledge of human life,"31 while
the devil appears as a polite man of the world with
all the good manners Defoe credits to him.
"In connection with the philosophical
universalism of the menippea," Bakhtin perceives "a
three-planed construction" where "action and dialogic
syncrisis are transferred from earth to Olympus and
to the nether world." He traces the "dialogues of
the dead," which later became a special genre, to
this tradition.32 Graveyard-locations, as in LeSage,
often fulfill this requirement, to which Burton
responds only by numerous references to the devil and
evil spirits throughout his work, but also by a
special "Digression on the nature of Spirits, bad
Angels, or Devils, and how they cause Melancholy."33
LeSage uses the more conventional graveyard scene of
the menippea, where the hero is acquainted with the
fate of the dead who repose there.34
From this menippean scenery and mood springs
also the English graveyard poetry of which Edward
31 Alain Rene Le Sage, Asmodeus or the Devil
upon two Sticks. Tr. James Townsend (London: J. C.
Nimmo and Bain, n.d.), Chapt. iii, p. 14.
32 Bakhtin, Problems. p. 116.
33 Burton, pp. 157-76.
34 Le Sage, Chapt. xii: "Of the Tombs, the
Ghosts, and Death," pp. 178 ff.

147
Young and Thomas Gray (1716-71) were the principal
representatives. Lichtenberg owned the second
edition of Gray's Poems. London 1775 (No. 1648). In a
letter to Eschenburg he discusses his problems in
translating Gray's expression "moody madness" from
"A Distant Prospect of Eton College", which he used
for his description of Hogarth's Bedlam scene, Plate
VIII of the Rake's Progress.35
Lichtenberg also owned Young's works, both in an
English edition of 1757 and in Ebert's translation of
1768-74 (Nos. 1673-74). The influence of the
melancholy Night Thoughts on the Nightwatches has
been frequently recognized, but Horst Fleig has shown
that Bonaventura also refers to Young's satire "The
Centaur not Fabulous." On the titleplate the centaur
is shown dressed as a scaramouch from the commedia
dell 'arte. He tramples with his hooves on the Ten
Commandments, and flouts a streamer with the Greek
words "gnothi seauton," know thyself.
This unusual combination recurs in the Ninth
Nightwatch, where Kreuzgang introduces, with a
sarcastic dig at Lavater's physiognomy, his "own
little fool's chamber," which contains "a bust of
Socrates, by whose nose you recognize his wisdom,
just as you recognize Scaramouch's folly." A satire
35
Promies IV, p. 946, May 8, 1796.

148
on "all three bread faculties"—those which could
lead to wealth and honour—follows, where Kreuzgang
proposes "wearing all three doctor's hats piled one
on top of the other" (p. 155). Fleig interprets this
idea as inspired by the three tiers of the Chinese
pagoda which rises behind the centaur.36 The
suggestion gains plausibility from Kreuzgang's
explanation:
What a surplus of wisdom and money—a desirable
combination of the two opposed goods, a highest
idealisation of the centaur nature in man, when
the well satisfied animal below allows the
higher rider to strut about audaciously . . .
[sic], (p. 157).
Not only are all the components of Young's title
plate reworked into metaphors which define
Kreuzgang's own existential position, he compresses
also important thoughts from Young's satire into his
short summary. "The Centaur not Fabulous" claims that
centaurs are not myths, but an allegory of man with
his lower half part of the animal world. The
creature is therefore emblematic of the split nature
of man, which is one of the characteristic themes of
the menippea. Young's satirical use of the
mythological hybrid is reminiscent of Burton's
quotation of Martial.
36 Fleig, Literarischer Vamoirismus. pp. 232-35;
p. 234, Fig. 10; text pp. 234-35.

149
Burton's hope for improvement of the human
condition lies in strict adherence to the Socratic
advice "Know thyself." Young, like Burton, uses
satire as a vehicle for advocating this command,
which became a leitmotif of enlightened literature in
England, and like Burton—and indeed the menippea in
general—he took man as the subject of "The Centaur
not Fabulous."
Joseph Addison (1672-1719) also propagates the
need of man to come to terms with himself. His
formulation "The whole man must move together," was
quoted by Lichtenberg various times and used as the
motto of his notebook C, which he started on July
27th, 1773.37 Most important about Addison for our
purpose, however, are his ties—quiet and implicit—
to both Burton and Lichtenberg. Addison's Spectator
influenced German literary life decisively. His
moral, optimistic philosophy, based on Locke and
Shaftesbury, satisfied the rationalistic age and
directed the enlightened quest for progress. His
elegant style improved literacy; the breadth of his
topics aroused interest in learning. His wit and
gentle satire assured him a large readership in
37
Promies, Vol. I, p. 155.

150
Germany, too, where the Spectator stimulated a large
number of moralizing weeklies.38
Lichtenberg's edition of the Spectator is the
6th, London 1723, and of the eight volumes IV and V
are missing (No. 39) . Lord Boston's ex libris
suggests that Lichtenberg received the work as a
present from his host during his first visit to
England. The Gottinqischer Taschenkalender was
written for á similar section of the public as that
addressed by Addison, and followed the pattern
pioneered by him, including reports on the newest
fashions for ladies. This deliberate lure accustomed
new readers to the amusingly presented serious
topics. Literacy was thereby spread and a
responsible attitude to life was packaged into an
attractive mixture of humour and irony, and for
better understanding abstract themes were translated
into anecdotal and parabolic narration. Lichtenberg
followed Addison also in using literary criticism as
a means of influencing and shaping public opinion.
Addison's influence was extensive, and like that
of Burton, it is not always easy to trace in
particular cases, because he, too, dealt with topics
of such diverse nature and based his discourses on so
38 Price, English Literature in Germany. Chapt.
iv, "The Moralizing Weeklies," pp. 51-60.

151
many different sources. His special gift was the
interpretation of current thoughts, and the
explanation of problems through memorable similes.
Where his themes can be paralleled with those of the
Nightwatches. the connection confirms therefore their
prominence in English eighteenth-century thought in
general, rather than a direct link with the
Spectator.
Theatre metaphors and their origin in classical
literature belong to this category. Addison quotes
Epictetus among others:
We are here (says he) as in a theatre, where
every one has a part alotted to him. The great
duty which lies upon a man is, to act his part
in perfection. We may, indeed, say that our
part does not suit us, and that we could act
another better. But this (says the philosopher)
is not our business. All that we are concerned
in is, to excel in the part which is given us.
If it is an improper one, the fault is not in
us, but in Him, who has 'cast' our several
parts, and is the great disposer of the drama.39
This is followed by a passage from "the little
apocryphal book, entitled 'The Wisdom of Solomon,/"
which exposes the vanity of human desire for longing
and recognition, and says of "the righteous man . . .
we fools accounted his life madness."
39 The Works of the Right Honourable Joseph
Addison. Ed. H. G. Bohn, 6 Vols. (London: George Bell
and Sons, 1888) Vol. Ill, Nr. 219, pp. 100-01.
The parentheses show that Addison adopted
Burton's method of distancing himself from his
subject matter by allocating responsibility for it elsewhere.

152
A later essay develops these thoughts. It
starts with an explanation of Addison's technique:
When I have finished any of my speculations, it
is my method to consider which of the ancient
authors have touched upon the subject that I
treat of. By this means I meet with some
celebrated thought upon it, or a thought of my
own expressed in better words, or some
similitude for the illustration of my
subject.40
Both Lichtenberg and the author of the Nightwatches
follow this enlightened procedure. They also share
Addison's partiality for a belief in the
transmigration of the soul, a theme which crops up
frequently in the Spectator. The idea that "human
souls, upon their leaving the body, become the soul
of such kinds of brutes as they most resemble in
their manners" is ascribed to Pythagoras' speech in
the fifteenth book of Ovid, of which Addison quotes
part in the translation by Dryden. In another essay
this belief is traced to Sir Paul Rycaut's account of
Mohamedans. While Addison treats the subject on this
occasion with some good-natured humour, at other
times he presents it more seriously as a "Platonic
notion."41
Twice Lichtenberg mentions his own belief in
transmigration in connection with his early youth (F
40 Addison, Vol. Ill, Nr. 221, p. 102.
41 Addison, Vol. II, Nr. 211, p. 89, Nr. 343, p.
335; Vol. II, Nr. 90, p. 406.

153
1217, J 853). He contemplated this possibility all
through adult life, and recorded at the end that he
had given some account of his thoughts on
metempsychosis in his notebook K, p. 18 and p. 24 (L
958) . Unfortunately these pages have not survived.
In E 474 Lichtenberg proposes to test his opinions on
transmigration with Hartley's theories, in J 2043
with Kant's philosophy. In A 91 he suggests the polyp
as analogy to his idea of metempsychosis, and D 161
gives a hint of his meaning, for there he speculates
that man might be half spirit and half matter, just
as the polyp is half animal and half plant. He adds:
"the most interesting beings exist always at the
borderline."
Transmigration is a rare theme in German
literature, and the ninetheenth-century edition of
Grimm's Wórterbuch registers use of the word
Seelenwanderunq only in an essay by Herder in
historical context, and twice by Jean Paul as a
figure of speech.42 But Bonaventura mentions it on
various occasions, and his final chapter suggests the
possibility that "the shapes of the decayed assume a
kindlier form and blossom forth again as beautiful
flowers" (p. 239). A satirical variation of this
42 Jacob und Wilhelm Grimm, Deutsches
Wórterbuch (Leipzig: S. Hirzel, 1854).

154
vision is given when No. 10 and No. 11 in the lunatic
asylum are presented as "evidence for metempsychosis;
the first barks as a dog and formerly served at
court; the second has changed himself from a state
official into a wolf" (p. 155) . In the Twelfth
Nightwatch Kreuzgang exclaims satirically: "If there
is a transmigration of souls, which I do not doubt,
and if the departed spirits, as would then not be
improbable, travel just as easily into flowers and
fruits, etc. , as into animals--where then does this
connecting canal of spirits reside other than in the
stomach swallowing them" (p. 187).
The interrelation between body and soul, stomach
and mind, leads back to Burton, whose "Digression of
Spirits" already reports of spirits, "that they are
the souls of men departed, the good and more noble
were deified, the baser grovelled on the ground, or
in the lower parts, and were devils." Burton also
mentions a chain of beings which may link God and
man, attributing to "Plato in Critias, and after him
his followers" the opinion, that "spirits or devils
were men's governors and keepers, our lords and
masters, as we are of our cattle."43
Bonaventura's Mad Worldcreator in the Ninth
Nightwatch is akin to these slightly lesser spirits:
43
Burton, p. 158, p. 172.

155
powerful but neither perfect nor omniscient. He is
reminiscent of Lichtenberg's speculation that the
world may be the work of a subaltern being, the
experiment of one who was as yet unskilled and
inexperienced, and that a chain of beings between man
and God might be quite possible (K 69). Johnson, in
his "Review of [Soame Jenys], A Free Inquiry into the
Nature and Origin of Evil. (1757)" calls this same
concept "the Arabian scale of existence,"44 and he
quotes Jenyns as asserting that "the supreme being .
. . has
created
innumerable
ranks and orders
of
beings."
Man,
according to
this view, is
on
probation,
preparing himself
to join either
the
higher or the lower ranks.
Johnson shared many themes with Addison, and his
periodical essays follow the same precept of
disseminating knowledge and perception through
excellent and lucid writing. Addison's worldly-wise
optimism and his enlightened confidence in progress
are not shared by Johnson, whose passionate
commitment to the concerns of the soul made him aware
of the fragility of human achievement, and of the
uncertainties of man's status after death. When he
44 Samuel Johnson. "Review of [Soame Jenyns], 'A
Free Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Evil',"
pp. 522-543, p. 543.

156
wrote a Latin ode on the theme "Know Thyself" he
confessed that
turning to survey its territory,
that night'shadowed tundra,
the mind is full of fear—of ghosts,
of the fleeting glimmer
of the thin shadows of nothing,
the absence of shapes, the shimmer.
What then am I to do?
Let my declining years go down to the dark?
Or get myself together,
gather the last of my gall,
and hurl myself at some task
huge enough for a hero?"45
At the end of the Niqhtwatches Kreuzgang is similarly
torn between the echoes of "Nothing" and the heroic
urge to "go forth prepared to face the giant of the
other world!" (p. 147).
Like Burton, Lichtenberg, and Bonaventura,
Johnson, too, appreciated the satires of both Horace-
-from whom he translated several odes—and Juvenal.
His two most famous poems are London, an imitation of
Juvenal's third satire, and The Vanity of Human
Wishes. an imitation of the tenth, in which themes
from the scriptures, notably from Ecclesiasticus, are
merged with the classic model. In London Juvenal's
Rome is transposed into a contemporary setting, but
both cities are only metonymic for the habitat of
man, and merely provide the stage on which he commits
his follies and his crimes. Together with the Lives
45 Samuel Johnson, p. 539, p. 29.
(Translated from the original Latin by John Wain).

157
of the Poets. Lichtenberg liked these two odes
particularly among all the works of Johnson.46
Johnson's most popular Life was An Account of
the Life of Mr Richard Savage, Son of the Earl Rivers
(1774). With its melodramatic storyline of scandal
and tragedy, and the demasking perspectives on
highest society and on life in the gutter, it was
read in Germany more than any of Johnson's other
works. Lichtenberg knew it already in 1769, when he
compares Savage to the German poet Johann Christian
Günther, whose hopes were similarly blighted. Both
men, in his opinion, show that brilliance is often
purchased with deficiency in talents which are taken
for granted in the average population (A 116).
The Life of Savage is so strongly reflected in
the Niohtwatches that Karl-Heinz Meyer has recently
proposed Johann Karl Wezel (1745-1819), whose history
shows striking parallels with that of Savage, as
Bonaventura.47 Johnson's Lives include others who
epitomized the plight of the intellectual and
idealist, a theme on which the menippea thrives and
on which Burton had also much to say. The ill-fated
46 Promies, Vol. IV, p. 513, Letter to Edmund
von Harold, June 20, 1783.
47 Karl-Heinz Meyer, "Johann Karl Wezel und die
'Nachtwachen von Bonaventura'." Neues aus der Wezel-
Forschung. Heft 2. Arbeitskreis Johann Karl Wezel des
Kulturbundes der DDR, Sonderhausen, 1984, pp. 63-86.

158
Thomas Otway and the suicide Thomas Chatterton belong
to this group, and to Johnson himself, as to his
friend Oliver Goldsmith, the poor poet in the garret
was no mere literary convention, but a reality
familiar from bitter experience.
Johnson felt, and sometimes resisted the current
interests of the enlightenment to such a degree that
his time is known in England as the Age of Johnson.
Similarities between themes and concerns in the
Nightwatches and Johnson's single excursion into
fiction, The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia
(1759) , need therefore prove no more than that both
authors share an intellectual background. Johnson
compressed much of his philosophy into this short
"oriental tale," which he wrote according to Boswell
"in the evenings of one week" under the shadow of his
mother's death, "that with the profits he might
defray the expense of his mother's funeral, and pay
some little debts which she had left." Though the
deeply religious Johnson omitted all direct reference
to Christian belief, Boswell insists that "Johnson
meant, by showing the unsatisfactory nature of things
temporal, to direct the hopes of man to things
eternal."48 Lichtenberg, always keenly interested in
48
Boswell, pp. 240 and 424.

159
Samuel Johnson's work and thoughts, read Boswell's
Life hot from the press in 1791.49
In structure, philosophical content, and length
the Nightwatches have much in common with Rasselas.
Both present loosely connected episodes. Actions in
both tales may be violent, as the kidnapping in
Rasselas (Chapt. xxxiii) or a nun's murder in the
Nightwatches. They are, however, not reported
spontaneously but reach the reader already filtered
through an active mind. Like Johnson's prince,
Kreuzgang is driven by a constant hunger of
imagination; and both recognize the paradox which
disturbed the minds during the enlightenment—that
the human spirit cannot find happiness without
something to desire, yet can never be satisfied until
everything longed for is within its reach. Both
works deal with attitudes toward death and dying, and
both end with "nothing," a word which has been
skillfully woven into each text with differing
techniques and subtly changing shades of meaning.
Johnson ends his tale with "The Conclusion, in which
Nothing is Concluded." The prince and his party
return from whence they came, because "of these
49 The Life of Samuel Johnson was published in 2
volumes in London 1791. Lichtenberg began reading on
September 17, 1791, see "Diary," Promies, Vol. II, p.
730.

160
wishes that they had formed they well knew that none
could be obtained" (Chapt. xlix).
The madness which satiric tradition couples with
excessive speculative learning is introduced by
Johnson in the digression "The History of a Man of
Learning" (Chapts. xl-xliv). Burton provides the
classic origins of the delusions from which Johnson's
mad astronomer, the hero of this interlude, suffers.
He quotes "Leonartus Fuchsius, Felix Plater, and
Hercules de Saxonia" who "speak of a peculiar fury,
which comes by overmuch study. Fernelius puts study,
contemplation, and continual meditation, as an
especial cause of madness ... so doth Levinus
Lemnius. Many men (saith he) come to this malady by
continual study, and night-walking, and, of all other
men, scholars are most subjects to it." As
Democritus Jr., he has already told his readers:
If any man shall ask . . . who I am, that so
boldly censure others, have I no faults? Yes,
more than thou hast, whatsoever thou art. We are
the merest ciphers, I confess it again, I am as
foolish, as mad as any one.
I seem to you insane, I pray you think so
(Petronius)
I do not deny it, let the mad men be removed
from the people. My comfort is, I have more
fellows, and those of excellent note.
When Burton's satiric persona Democritus
concludes, "that all the world is melancholy, or mad,
dotes, and every member of it," he presents himself
at the same time humbly as an average representative

161
of all mankind, and proudly as a thinker who follows
the example of the greatest, such as Socrates.50
Kreuzgang repeats this menippean pattern which was
followed by the English eighteenth-century satirists,
notably Swift and the Scriblerians.
50
Burton, p. 101.

CHAPTER V
JONATHAN SWIFT (1667-1745)
AND THE SATIRIC TECHNIQUES OF LICHTENBERG
AND BONAVENTURA.
References to the body and its functions in the
Niqhtwatches are mild compared to eighteenth-century
English usage, which in many instances showed hardly
a break with the lively language of Renaissance and
Jacobean drama or the racy realism of Burton, but
they irritated the sensibilites of nineteenth-century
readers conditioned by the abstract refinement of
German idealism and unused to bluntness in serious
literature. English satirists of the eighteenth
century employed such language frequently, and none
more than Jonathan Swift, the erudite and respected
Dean of St. Patrick's, Dublin.
Lichtenberg learned to admire Swift's dazzling
irony, his hard-hitting wit and the command of
rhetorical rules with which he achieved the apparent
ease of his expression, although his first notebook
entry about the Dean is somewhat disparaging, and he
even calls him a fool in it. Significantly, the
excerpt from Swift which follows this remark is a
162

163
lampoon of the efforts to establish the longitude,
and exposes the Dean's want of empathy with
scientific achievements (B 43). The frequent attacks
of Swift and his circle on scientists, and in
particular on the Royal Society and the interest the
Hanoverian Kings took in it, were not likely to meet
with Lichtenberg's approval.1 But Swift's
penetrating wit and the compelling logic of his
satire soon won Lichtenberg's praise, as two further
notes immediately testify. The first is an epigram
translated by Swift from the French which deals with
the satiric theme of fools and madmen:
Sir, I admit Your gen'ral rule
That every poet is a fool,
But You Yourself may serve to show it
That every fool is not a poet. B 44
The next entry already contains high approbation, and
sets Swift up as an example for satirists, praising
in particular the general applicability of his
thoughts, B 45.
1 Jonathan Swift. "Ode for Musick, on
Longitude:"
The Longitude mist on / By wicked Will Whiston,
And not better hit on / By good Mr. Ditton.
So Ditton and Whiston / May both be bepist on
And Whiston and Ditton / May both be beshit on
etc.
While not representative of Swift at his best, the
rhyme—copied by Lichtenberg in B 43—exemplifies
Swift's prejudices and misapprehensions about the
importance of contemporary scientific work, as well
as his uninhibited use of language.

164
Lichtenberg owned the works of Jonathan Swift,
London 1766-79, 24 volumes, and a German translation
of the Tale of a Tub (No. 1758-59) . No. 1300 in
Bibliotheca Lichtenberqiana is a German translation
of Swift's satirical treatise "An Argument to Prove
that the Abolishing of Christianity in England May,
as Things now Stand, be Attended with Some
Inconveniences, and Perhaps Not Produce Those Many
Good Effects Proposed Thereby" (1708), but as this
title is usually abbreviated, Swift has not been
identified as the author.
As late as 1798 Lichtenberg published in his
Taschenkalender a list of oddities amassed by an
English collector which he had found in 1775 in the
library of an English country house on the back
leaves of a volume of Swift's collected works. The
items, written down "in the manner of Swift,"
positively invite satiric comment and include such
treasures as "a knife without blade and the handle
missing," and a butter dish in the form of a skull
with a lid so tastefully fashioned that the butter is
pressed into the shape of a human brain.2 Some
bottles of "Iceland-Madeira" Lichtenberg adapted to
German understanding as "Lappland wine from 48,"
2 Promies, Vol. Ill, pp. 451 ff. , p. 452, and
Kommentar zu Band III, pp. 212-15.

165
using "Lappland" as an antonym for "fresh, active and
lively" exactly as Bonaventura does in the Third
Nightwatch, when he describes the old judge "buried
in piles of documents like a Lapplander interred
alive" (p. 51) . The dried out old man is signing
death warrants and pouring over legal tomes, one the
Peinliche Halsordnung. which Lichtenberg chose to
translate the English Habeas Corpus Act in the list
of items "in the manner of Swift." This weighty
legal code had been set to music by the eccentric
collector himself.3
The list of oddities testifies to Lichtenberg's
habit of browsing through Swift's works and to his
empathy with Swift's brand of humor. His collected
notes show that he read, reread and thought about
Swift's work, especially Gulliver's Travels and A
Tale of a Tub.4 How much his own sure-aimed irony
and masterly satiric techniques owed to Swift's
exacting example has not yet been sufficiently
appreciated.
Richard M. Meyer, who contributed considerably
to the revival of interest in Lichtenberg, published
his small volume Jonathan Swift und Georg Christoph
3 Promies, Vol. Ill, p. 456.
4 See D 214, D 666, RA 72, L 431; Ed. Joost,
Briefwechsel. Vol. I, Nos. 69, 131, 609.

166
Lichtenberg, zwei Satiriker des 18. Jahrhunderts
(1886) without drawing any lines of contact between
his two separate essays. Only once does he mention
in passing that Lichtenberg's satirical base
corresponds considerably to that of Swift, but in the
same sentence he also points out fundamental
differences between the two authors. As Meyer had to
base his opinions on the selected writings published
posthumously by Lichtenberg's family, this is hardly
surprising.5 Even Franz H. Mautner mentions only
casually in his extensive study on the development of
Lichtenberg's thoughts that irony was a natural way
for Lichtenberg to express himself, and that Liscow—
a German satirist much admired in his time—and Swift
were the two models for his satirical work.6 This
statement is not further elaborated and Mautner
hardly mentions Swift at all.
A different assessment of Swift's influence on
Lichtenberg begins to emerge from the commentaries
which Wolfgang Promies compiled for the assorted
writings contained in Volume III of his comprehensive
Lichtenberg edition. Meyer lacked this material, yet
5 Richard M. Meyer, Jonathan Swift und Georg
Christoph Lichtenberg, zwei Satiriker des 18.
Jahrhunderts (Berlin, 1886), pp. 81-82.
6 Mautner, Lichtenberg. Geschichte seines
Geistes, p. 86. Christian Ludwig Liscow (1701-60) was
himself much influenced by Swift.

167
his simultaneous fascination with Swift and
Lichtenberg shows that he sensed an affinity in their
outlook and techniques. Meyer was also among the
first literary critics who studied the Niqhtwatches.
and the first to draw a line from them to
Lichtenberg, for he declared that the author seems to
have been familiar with Lichtenberg's brief satire
"Petition from the Lunatic Asylum" (E 245, E 58).
This short piece lampoons contemporary German
writing, and in particular uses the exuberant and
ungrammatical elliptical style of Lavater. It is
phrased as a request for a library, and only the
title indicates that the plea emanates from madmen.
The title is therefore an integral part of the
satiric structure, as it contains the only indication
of how the letter must be understood. Title and
letter are, of course, in German, but the petition is
addressed in English to "My Lords," showing the
strong English background against which Lichtenberg
developed and perfected his own satirical genius.
This connection surfaces everywhere in his work, and
Meyer therefore described him as someone who felt in
German and thought in English.7
Lichtenberg's consistent opposition to Lavater's
intuitive, effusive, and experimentally unsupported
7
Meyer, p. 72.

168
physiognomy sprang from his own support of the
English empirical method, and from his wish to
understand man and his true nature—which also
inspired the unmasking stratagems of the English
satirists. These techniques appealed strongly to
Lichtenberg's own satiric inclinations, and his
implacable antagonism toward Lavater's simplistic
parlor-game physiognomy originated from the same
considerations as Swift's relentless fight against
all absuses of the intellect.
To Lichtenberg, as to the English writers he
admired, the face was not an open book, but a mask
behind which the well-disciplined and better educated
attempted to conceal their true nature. Thus he
calls the effects of a too normative education a
"copper mask" which is forced on children (D 19), and
sees some people hide beneath a "mask of fat," a
substance which is acquired and therefore a true part
neither of body nor soul (E 172) . He was convinced
that "reading from the surface is the cause of our
erroneous ideas, and in some respects of our total
ignorance."8 Unmasking in all its various forms was
therefore a major concern to him.
8 Promies, Vol. Ill, "Ãœber Physiognomik; wider
die Physiognomen," pp. 256-95, p. 265.

169
Tearing off disguises and stripping away
pretences is a traditional task of the satirist, and
Swift pursued it persistently. The brutal Yahoos
whom Gulliver met on his last voyage are an example
of this zeal
in its
most
uncompromising form.
Deprived of
clothes
and
all the
finery of
civilisation,
these creatures appear
lower than
animals.9 A different unmasking of human pretensions
is accomplished through the pathetic struldbruggs,
whom Gulliver encounters in the Kingdom of Luggnagg,
where they are born without the ability to die. As
they lose their youth, strength and possessions, they
turn the dream of immortality into a nightmare, and
expose human limitations in an unflattering and
brutally realistic manner.10
The Nightwatches. too, treat immortality as a
challenge which mankind is ill equipped to meet. When
it falls to the lot of the stranger in the cloak, he
uses his interminable existence paradoxically only
for repeated suicide attempts. Kreuzgang's desperate
but futile efforts to imagine how man can measure up
to eternity transpose man's inability to deal with
infinity onto a higher level, and meet Bakhtin's
9 Gulliver's Travels. Part IV: "Voyage to the
Country of the Houyhnhnms."
10 Gulliver's Travels. Part III, Chapt. x.

170
menippean requirement for a three planed
construction, where the action ranges from earth to
heaven and hell.11
In Gullivers Travels. Book III conforms closest
to the characteristics which Bakhtin noted in the
menippea. While the Olympian dimension is introduced
by the novelty of an island floating in the sky, the
nether-world is represented by a visit to
Glubbdubbdrib, the Island of Sorcerers and Magicians.
There the Governor has the power "of calling whom he
pleaseth from the dead, and commanding their services
for twenty-four hours but no longer." By this magic
he calls the spirits of various illustrious men, and
even of whole dynasties for Gulliver's instruction,
among them Alexander the Great, who assured Gulliver
"upon his honor, that he was not poisoned, but died
of a fever by excessive drinking." No comment is
added or needed, apart from Gulliver's explication:
"one thing I might depend upon, that they would
certainly tell me truth, for lying was a talent of no
use in the lower world." This almost casual aside
is all the guidance the reader is given through a
pageant of merciless unmasking, for neither Gulliver,
nor the Glubbdubbdribian sorcerers, nor yet the
author provides any explanation.
11
Bakhtin, Problems. p. 116.

171
The art of manipulating the reader into framing
and answering guestions for himself, and the skill of
compressing a maximum of meaning into a minimum of
words are brilliantly displayed in this interlude.
Take for one example Gulliver's report: "Next I saw
Hannibal passing the Alps, who told me he had not a
drop of vinegar in his camp."12 The modern reader,
unfamiliar with the details of Livy's History of
Rome. needs to be told that according to Livy,
Hannibal succeeded in crossing the Alps by building a
fire on an impass and saturating it with vinegar.
Instant recall of such learned details was never
common, and Swift's aside is all too easily
attributed to exuberant imagination. Many remarks by
Lichtenberg and Bonaventura, based on reading which
is not generaly accessible, share this fate.
Once this is understood, one short
sentence not only demolishes the myth-building of
hero-worshipping historians, but also exposes the
staggering credulity of succeeding generations who
failed to query how the prodigious amounts of vinegar
required for the success of such an engineering feat
should have been procured amidst the hardships of an
Alpine winter. Thus, while the reader is still
12 Gulliver's Travels. Part III, Chapt. ix-xi,
"Gulliver in the Kingdom of Luggnagg." Chapt. vii-
viii, pp. 190, 192, 191, 192.

172
laughing at Livy's credulity, he is suddenly
confronted with his own thoughtless acceptance of
tradition. In his aphorisms Lichtenberg strove to
achieve the same economy of language. Swift's aim in
briefly bringing the famous dead to life was, as he
puts it in A Tale of a Tub, to furnish "a plain
instance how little truth there often is in general
surmises."
Swift himself was well aware that many of his
allusions would not be generally accessible, and he
says as much in "On Poetry: A Rhapsody" (1733):
To statesmen would you give a wipe
You print it in italic type.
When letters are in vulgar shapes
'tis ten to one the Wit escapes;
But when in capitals expressed
The dullest reader smokes the jest.13
Among those who did appreciate Swift's
virtuosity and his skill in manipulating references
was Lichtenberg. He, too, aimed for brevity in
expression, and he knew that he faced the same
problem of being misunderstood. In E 257 he
discourses on the depth of thought in classical
writers and exemplifies his plea for multifarious
meaning by showing that it is not necessary for
everybody to understand everything, as long as all
13 Gulliver's Travels et al.: "A Tale of a Tub,"
pp. 279-394, p. 283; "Swift's Poems," pp. 506-35, p.
525.

173
derive some benefit from what they read. Thus the
moon delights, in different ways, the astronomer, the
wanderer at night and the babe in arms who sees a
silver ball. Though unequal in their powers of
understanding, each person is satisfied by the same
object.
Never content with passive admiration,
Lichtenberg strove to assimilate and adapt the
techniques which impressed him. Even though he
himself shared the concerns of the Royal Society, and
even though the experiments in astronomy,
mathematics, and mechanics ridiculed in Book III of
Gulliver were connected with his own research, he
could appreciate Swift's brilliance, and the
sophistication of his satire. Bonaventura parallels
this attitude. While he deftly employs Swift's
satiric techniques, he also incorporated the
scientific insights of the eighteenth century into
his work.
Swift's influence is especially noticeable in
Lichtenberg's early satiric sketches and fragments,
before he encountered the storms of criticism which
were raised by the acerbic manner of Swift. Though
much admired in its English context, Swift's scathing
raillery was not appreciated when transposed into the
German environment, where petty courts and

174
regulations, general supervision and censorship,
stifled all criticism of public affairs. These
constrictions may be one reason why many of
Lichtenberg's planned satires never progressed beyond
outlines and disconnected notes.
The earliest of these fragments was probably
written in 1768 or shortly after, and consists merely
of a two-page "Introduction by the Translator" for a
work to be called Lorenz Eschenheimers empfindsame
Reise nach Laputa."14 Both the title and the
reference to the translator show clearly that
Lichtenberg was consciously working in the tradition
of English eighteenth-century satire, in particular
that of Swift and Sterne, for "empfindsame Reise" is
the German for "sentimental journey," and the voyage
to Laputa starts Part III of Gulliver.
Much of the general plan can be surmised by the
many literary allusions in the full title, and it is
further outlined in the opening sentence:
Educated society has regretted for a long time
and with good reason that the famed Lemuel
Gulliver has not made more strenuous efforts
during his visits to Laputa and Lagado to
Promies, Vol. Ill, pp. 610-11, and Kommentar
zu Band III, pp. 2 92-9 3 . " Lorenz Eschenheimers
empfindsame Reise nach Laputa. Schreiben des Herrn
x? + dx5ddy Trullrub, Áltesten der Akademie zu
Lagado, das Empfindsame im Reisen zu Wasser und zu
Lande und im zu Hause sitzen betreffend. Aus dem
Hochbalnibarischen übersetzt von M. S."

175
arrange a link between the Academy there and one
in Europe.
Gulliver's third journey was even less popular in
Germany than in England. Not many were able to
decode the allusions and implications of this
menippean excursion into fantasy, and comparatively
few were familiar with this part of Gulliver's
adventures, which was more often than not left out of
translations altogether. Lichtenberg's fragment
refers to Gulliver's promise to one of the scientists
in the Academy of Lagado, "if ever I had the good
fortune to return to my native country, that I would
do him justice" (Part III, Chapt.v).
The subtitle gives further clues in condensed
form. It announces that the work is a "Manuscript of
x3 + dx5ddy Trullrub, Esq., senior of the Academy of
Lagado, concerning Sentimental Journeys across Oceans
and Continents and while Staying at Home. Translated
from the Highbalnibaric by M. S." One must recall
Gulliver's experience, especially in Chapter v, in
order to read any meaning into these words.
Lichtenberg demonstrates here the high demands he
makes of his readers, from whom he expects
familiarity with great authors in considerable
detail.
The
initials M.
S. have
not been decoded,
but
probably
stand for
Martinus
Scriblerus, for
the

176
satire uses Swift's territory of Laputa and
Balnibari. Even the short exposition makes it quite
clear, however, that though Lichtenberg appropriates
Swift's methods—especially his technique of
manipulating double meaning and linguisitc
ambiguities—he intended to pursue his own original
ideas, and to draw on a variety of sources.15 The
ending . . ddy" is not German and is therefore a
further indication of English inspiration. The root
signs are explained by the translator as indicating
moral or abstract meaning for the word they precede,
the root power changes the meaning from, for example,
Zorr, a nice and virtuous woman to Zorr2, a whore,
or from molom, a scholar to molom2 a windbag. This
explanation leaves the reader to deduce the
significance of 3 and 5. To add to the multiplicity
of meanings, the fictitious translator claims to have
15 The subtitle is an instance of Lichtenberg's
technique of blending different sources, for which
Bonaventura also shows a particular predilection. It
acknowledges not only indebtedness to English models,
but also to a brilliant German satirist, Christian
Reuter (1665-after 1702) who wrote a Journal of
Schelmuffkv's Curious and very Dangerous Journeys
Across Oceans and Continents which lampoons the
pretensions of both those who go on Grand Tours, and
those who have to stay at home, and make up for their
lack of experience by lively imagination.
Christian Reuter. Schelmuffskys wahrhaftiae curióse
und sehr aefahrliche Reisebeschreibung zu Wasser und
Laude. Stuttgart: Philipp Reclam Jun., 1977. First
printed in 1696 in the fictitious town of Schelmrode
under the pretence that Schelmuffsky was the author,
and the editor was a certain E. S.

177
obtained the manuscript with considerable trouble
from a Dutch herring-fisher. The information seems
arbitrary and gratuitous unless one remembers
Gulliver's enemy, a Dutchman and "malicious
reprobate," who caused him to "be set adrift in a
small canoe," thereby initiating his adventures in
Part III. Ambiguity is achieved by the fact that
Gulliver himself travelled for some time in the guise
of a Dutchman, or as he himself says "a Hollander,
because my intentions were for Japan, and I knew the
Dutch were the only Europeans permitted to enter into
that kingdom."16 The herring fisher with the
manuscript could therefore be the disguised Gulliver
himself or else his implacable enemy, which invites
two completely opposed interpretations of the pages
which have been thus obtained. Not content with
these complications, the translator archly explains
that he himself could only understand the meaning
with greatest difficulty thanks to his knowledge of
Japanese to which the Balnibaric language shows
certain affinities.
The short fragment proves that Lichtenberg had
thought about Swift's satire and its implications in
considerable detail, that he made skillful use of
16 Gulliver's Travels.
Chapt. ix, pp. 198-99.
Part III, Chapt. i,

178
Swift's techniques, and that he equalled if not
surpassed Swift in demands on the reader's own
initiative and erudition. It also demonstrates
Lichtenberg' s gift for compressing complicated
thoughts by frequent and deliberate use of allusions
and associations.
Leibniz and his vision of mechanisation and a
universal language Swift ridicules by having Gulliver
inspect an engine at the Grand Academy of Lagado
(Chapt.v), "so contrived, that the words shifted into
new places, as the square bits of wood moved upside
down." 17 Lichtenberg held a very different opinion
of this philosopher, whose works he owned in the
original Latin (Nos. 427, 1345 -49). He studied them
with interest and approval (A 12) , and was led by
them to acquire the habit of analysing his own ideas
and their origin as far as humanly possible.
Nevertheless he used the mechanical engine, with
which Swift ridiculed Leibniz and his attempts to
define a universal language, in his satiric
fragments. This so-called Kurbelmethode occurs also
in an outline for a satire on mindlessness, which was
17 Gullivers Travels. Part III, Chapt. v,
pp. 180-84.

179
printed posthumously but cannot be dated, as no
manuscript has survived.18
Just before Gulliver is introduced to the
professor of "speculative learning" who invented the
language machine, the very one to whom he promised to
do justice if ever he returned to his native land, "a
man born blind" is pointed out to him, "who had
several apprentices in his own condition: their
employment was to mix colours for painters, which
their master taught them to distinguish by feeling
and smelling." The endeavor may appear ludicrous,
especially when reported in Swift's sardonic matter-
of-fact manner. Similar experiments were, however,
actually carried out, especially by Robert Boyle
(1627-1691), with whose works Lichtenberg was, of
course, familiar (Nos. 190-92, 724, 816). Boyle was
motivated by the same considerations which later
turned Locke's attention to people born blind, for by
their reactions it was hoped to learn more about the
mechanism of the human mind, and how far its imagery
is acquired through the senses.
18 Promies, Vol. Ill, p. 613. This short
fragment is called "Beitráge zur Geschichte des ***."
The title, "Contributions to the History of ***,"
points to Fielding's influence and is further proof
of Lichtenberg's habit tendency to blend and
superimpose intellectual experiences which were of
special importance to him.

180
Lichtenberg's interest in blindness is shown by
various notes. They are brief unemotional references
to a medical case, or to a learned publication, which
reveal detached scientific concern with the
problem.19 This he extended also to the reactions of
those born deaf, both human beings and animals,
asking himself: "Are there examples of animals born
deaf? Deaf dogs can hardly be expected to be mute"
(K 415) . How far the senses were dependent on each
other and on environmental stimuli, was one of the
questions which eighteenth-century science tried to
elucidate, and it was hoped that those born without
one or more of the senses could provide, or at least
advance the answers. Bonaventura transposes this
scientific concern into existential dimensions, and
consistently likens the lot of mankind in general to
someone born blind into an environment in which he
cannot orientate himself properly, and compares the
few who begin to perceive more clearly with Homer,
Oedipus and Ugolino, who have been blinded by
unbearable sights.
In his later satires Lichtenberg continued to
practice complex techniques, but he concealed his
methods and sources much more than in the Empfindsame
Reise nach Laputa. The fragment was only published
19
See D 296, D 395, D 639, D 641, F 1209, J 1664.

181
posthumously, and he did not pursue the ideas in it
any further. Whether he ever intended to do so is
not clear. In a survey of the various satirical
plans which Lichtenberg never expanded, Gerhard
Sauder suggests that the undemarcated contours of
such fragments serve in themselves as special devices
to stimulate the imagination, and are a pointer to
the open-endedness and fluidity of truth as such.20
Lichtenberg's satiric plans, like Swift's
fictitious titles, serve to suggest a certain train
of thought, but leave it to the reader's imagination
to supply the probable contents of the non-existent
book.21 The method has the advantage of introducing
the outrageous without actually mentioning anything
indecorous. It serves also to include a wide range
of other thoughts with the utmost economy of
expression. The same end is served by Bonaventura's
version of a non-existent work—the rejected Tragedy
Man which Kreuzgang finds in the garret where the
poor poet committed suicide. Only the "Prologue by
the Clown" is quoted (p. 137); the tragedy itself
having to be imagined by the reader. Like Gulliver,
20 Gerhard Sauder, "Lichtenbergs ungeschriebene
Romane." Photorin. I, 1979, pp. 3-14, p. 13.
21 e.g. Gulliver's Travels et al: " A Tale of a
Tub," p. 278: "Treatises wrote by the same Author,
most of them mentioned in the following Discourses,
which will be speedily published ..."

182
having to be imagined by the reader. Like Gulliver,
and the Hack in the Tale of a Tub, the Clown is by no
means identical with the author, but provides the
perspective for the Prologue. This is also the case
with Photorin, the satiric persona to whom
Lichtenberg attributed his first, anonymously
published satire Timorus (1773).22 Lichtenberg also
employed fictitious titles and supported his satiric
arguments, like Swift, by the authority of non¬
existent learned volumes.23 In Timorus he bases his
case on ancient legal records of his own invention.
While some of Lichtenberg's satirical fragments
might have been written merely to highlight and
outline a problem, others show clearly that he had a
longer and more coherent satire in mind. To this
group belongs a short unfinished piece simply
entitled "Christopher Seng," and several entries in
Notebook B which are connected with it.24 The brief
22 Promies, Vol. Ill, pp. 205-36.
23 Gullivers Travels et al.. pp. 349, and 390.
24 Promies, Vol. Ill, pp. 608-609. See also B
319, B 320, and a fragmentary preface in B 321, which
does not specifically refer to "Christoph Seng," but
seems to belong to the general conception behind it,
and concentrates on a thought which foreshadows the
Sixth Nightwatch, both in the wish: "could I cry out
aloud and my words had the penetration of the trumpet
on the Day of Judgment," and in the conclusion, that
though thousands would hear, few if any would
respond.

183
synopsis of less than a page and a half takes
Christopher Seng to the university, involves him in
theology, law and mathematics, brings him into
contact with high society as tutor to a nobleman's
son, and with low life when he works as a sailor,
then a soldier, then a small shopkeeeper. The
outline does not follow the ascending development of
the Bildungsroman. with its pattern of ever widening
circles of perception, and the ending which
reconciles the hero with his fate, and offers him
meaning in life.
Christopher Seng is endowed from the beginning
with insights that are deeper, and feelings that are
more responsive and rational than those of others,
and like Kreuzgang he has to pay for these gifts with
increasing alienation from his fellow men. Various
other themes from the Niqhtwatches are also
interwoven: Christopher loses his reason due to an
unhappy love affair, but recovers to take on a new
but humble position. Like Kreuzgang he forfeits his
job by arguing against public opinion; he defends a
peasant accused of adultery, but the mob, which pays
ardent lip service to Christian doctrine, cannot
follow Christ's example.
Exposition of the plot is followed by two
succinct character sketches. In the first and more

184
extended one, Christopher Seng's thoughts and
feelings are likened to two persons who have nothing
to do with each other. What Bakhtin sees first
manifested in the menippea, and calls "moral-
physiological experimentation: a representation of
the unusual, abnormal, moral and psychic states of
man—insanity of all sorts (the theme of the maniac),
split personality,"25 turned for Lichtenberg into a
life-long preoccupation with duality.26 For him, in
the tradition of the enlightenment, these mental
states were not abnormal, but merely extreme
manifestations of the human condition, which could be
studied with their help as if observed through a
magnifying glass.
Christoph was Lichtenberg's own Christian name,
and the complicated personality exhibits unmistakable
traits of himself. Seng is not a common family name,
but the stem of the verb sengen: to singe, scorch,
burn. Thus the name indicates that the work was not
intended as a novel, but a satire. Lichtenberg
himself suggests this interpretation. He coupled the
word sengen with Swift when he admonished aspiring
25 Bakhtin, Problems. p. 116.
26 Albert Schneider, "Le Double Prince. Un
important émprunt de E. T. A. Hoffmann a G. C.
Lichtenberg." Annales Universitatis Saraviensis.
Lettres, Sarrebruck, IV, 1953, pp. 292-99.

185
German writers who were simply copying the
idiosyncrasies of famous men without understanding
their craft or their intentions. While Bonaventura
ridicules the poet who is content with "Kant's nose,
Goethe's eyes, Lessing's forehead, Schiller's mouth
and the backside of several famous men" (p. 179) ,
Lichtenberg delivers the same message rather more
directly:
Do you imagine you would earn any thanks by
writing, for instance, in synoptic sentences, by
swearing and reviling like Shakespeare,
playing the lyre like Sterne, singeing and
burning like Swift, or playing the trumpet like
Pindar? I am not saying that really writing
like Shakespeare, Sterne, Swift and Pindar would
fail to have any effect; in that case you might
move an honest soul here and there, but just to
swear and revile, play the lyre, singe and burn
will achieve nothing. (D 610)
Swift and his islands in Book III of Gulliver
also inspired Lichtenberg's plan of a satire on "The
Island Zezu."27 Notes to this purpose are jotted
down without coherence, but their organizing
principle is revealed by the first sentence:
The reason why this island has been left
unrecorded for so long is that the strange
customs of the inhabitants suggested to
publishers everywhere that a description of it
would really be a satire on their own country. I
was well aware that there are parts of the body
of which one does not like to write. But that
there are such countries, who would have thought
that? (D 78)
27
D 78, 82, 86, 116, 136, 152, 165, 166, 181.

186
Lichtenberg goes on to describe an academy of
sciences that recalls Swift's learned institution in
Lagado, and here as there the operator of a
mechanical device is distinguished by the title
professor. Automation is equated with mindless
copying, and this theme is developed through highly
sophisticated puppets—robots in modern language.
Their creators lived in ages long past, and though
they are universally revered, nobody has ever thought
of preserving their knowledge or studying their
methods (D 116). Thus the puppet-imagery relates to
the eighteeenth-century controversy of ancients
versus moderns, with which Swift deals in his Battle
of the Books.
The puppet theme connects D 116 with the
Nightwatches. and so does an abrupt remark that is
not explained any further: "At funerals,
nightwatchmen.1,28 Another concurrent theme is the
odeum of Pericles, which the good people of Zezu had
erected on a mountain half a mile outside their town.
This was filled with statues, and learned professors
could dress these up as their adversaries and rage
against them if they felt inclined to fight (D 181).
In the Nightwatches the "invalid's home of immortal
28 Promies, Vol. I, p. 248: "Bei
Leichenbegángnissen, Nachtwáchter."

187
gods" is a similar odeum placed likewise just outside
town (p. 191 and 193). The problem of suicide, never
far from Lichtenberg's mind, was also to be discussed
in the proposed satire (D 165), as were the
irreconcilable demands of body and mind:
The preface could start with bread and
immortality, the two focal points towards which
the mind gravitates with its satellite the body,
or the body with its satellite, the mind.
(D 166)
The paradoxical duality of these conflicting
motivations is also a leitmotif of the Nightwatches.
But while Swift, with the accent on the body,
envisages the struldbruggs, who cannot die and remain
tied to a deteriorating physical presence in
perpetuity, Bonaventura transfers this "dreadful
prospect of never dying" (p. 206) into spiritual
spheres and equates immortality with eternity.
The significance of "Zezu" is not explained.
Though the word looks outlandish, it might, however,
just be the phonetical rendering of the German
command seh' zu: observe, look out. In a note on
Zezuan history Lichtenberg declares that satires are
not only legal on the island, but positively
encouraged, provided that nobody is attacked who
lived after the Great Flood, and even of those who
were active before this time a good six or seven must
be exempted from any criticism (D 86) . This

188
persiflage of German censorship provides some
probable reasons why Lichtenberg abandoned so many of
his literary plans.
Not all of his satires remained plans and
fragments. Those which he published during his life
time under a variety of pseudonyms established him as
the foremost German master of the genre. Though by
no means imitations of Swift, his powerful influence
is strongly evident in them.
Brief and to the point is the "Handbill in the
name of Philadelphia."29 Written and distributed in
Gottingen in 1777 as an anonymous sheet, it ridiculed
a celebrated magician who called himself after the
New World town in which he claimed to have been born.
Imposters, such as the outrageous self-styled Count
Cagliostro (1743-95)—an almost exact contemporary of
Lichtenberg — found, the enlightenment not
withstanding, credit in highest society and they
abused their privileges deplorably. Philadelphia,
too, had dazzled the credulous. That the people of
Gottingen, with so much learning in their midst,
should know no better than to fall prey to his
promises activated Lichtenberg's satiric instincts.
29 Promies, Vol. Ill, pp. 253-55: "Anschlag-
Zeddel im Ñamen von Philadelphia."

189
He produced an advertisement for the magician,
praising his extraordinary powers with litotic
ambiguity. His friend Dieterich printed the handbill
with types that had been out of use for a
considerable time to conceal the origin of the bill,
and the plan resulted in perfect success.
Philadelphia left town in a hurry, though a
performance was still outstanding for which a large
sum had already been subscribed.30
Mautner calls the distribution of this anonymous
handbill a Humanistenstreich. a learned prank. He
draws attention, however, to a close resemblance with
Swift's short satire "The wonders of all the wonders
that ever the world wondered at" (1721). The affinity
had first been noted by Jean Paul,31 who was himself
an admirer of Swift, though he changed his genre from
the satire—for which resonance was largely lacking
in the German miniature states—to the novel.32
30 Promies, Kommentar zu Band III, pp. 101-107.
For a detailed account of the affair, Promies quotes
a letter of Dieterich to Lichtenberg's brother Ludwig
Christian.
31 Mautner, Lichtenberq. Geschichte seines
Geistes.
p. 165, p. 172.
32 Wulf Kópke, Erfolqlosiqkeit, Zum Frühwerk
Jean Pauls (München: Wilhelm Fink, 1977), pp. 105 and
404.

190
Lichtenberg's text starts with high praise of
the world-renowned magician, followed by the
announcement of his arrival by mailcoach—implying he
could have travelled through the air, had he but
chosen to do so. A description of his rather dreary
repertory follows, includeing the promise that
he will collect all the watches, rings and
jewels from the audience, and if people insist
on it, their money as well. Everybody will
obtain a receipt. He will then heap everything
into a case and depart with it. Eight days
later every one has to tear up their receipt.
No sooner is that accomplished, lo and behold,
watches, rings and jewels will be there. This
trick has earned him lots of money.
The ambiguous "there" is the only pointer to the true
nature of the proposed miracle. The art of deceiving
through words which are open to different
interpretations is the stock-in-trade of tricksters
and charlatans, and both Swift and Lichtenberg
studied their methods and profited from them.
Swift's similar satire succeeds by comparable
means. After announcing that the "famous artist John
Emanuel Schoits" has newly arrived in town, a list of
wonders he will perform is enumerated without
comment. It includes miracles like this:
He likewise draws the teeth of half a dozen
Gentlemen; mixes and jumbles them in a hat;
gives any person leave to blindfold him, while
he returns each their own, and fixes

191
them as well as ever.33
Lichtenberg claims a similar miracle for
Philadelphia, but refines the procedure:
he gently extracts the teeth of three or four
ladies, asks the assembly to mix them carefully
in a bag, inserts them into a small cannon,
shoots them unto the ladies heads and behold,
each has her teeth again, clean and white as
before.
Swift's ideas are used, but not copied. The
inutility of the promised miracles is used to expose
their absurdity. When Lichtenberg informs us that
his magician has to use the normal means of
conveyance, and Swift emphasizes that his will
collect for "the first seat a British Crown, the
second a British Half-Crown, and the lowest a British
Shilling," both authors really state that
such performers are incapable of working miracles.
Much of what Lichtenberg learned from Swift was
put to brilliant use in his first published satire
Timorus (1773), Greek for defender. As the subtitle
explains, this is "The Defence of Two Israelites who,
impelled by the strength of Lavater's proofs and the
Gottingen pork sausages, have accepted the true
faith, by Conrad Photorin, Candidate of Theology and
Belles Lettres."34 Though Photorin is Greek for
33 Kommentar zu Band III gives the full text of
Swift's satire, pp. 104-105.
34 Promies, Vol. Ill, pp. 205-36.

192
Lichtenberg, Conrad Photorin is not an authorial
pseudonym. The eager young theologian, with his
narrow outlook, has a personality distinctly
different from that of the real author. His fumbling
incompetence turns his defense of any cause into
litotic attack, and the lines of combat are drawn
with an ambiguity which obliges the reader constantly
to reorient himself. With Photorin, Lichtenberg
adopts the Swiftian solution of letting his
antiheroes condemn themselves.35
Creating a satiric persona for such a purpose is
a technique which Swift frequently employed. When he
attacks in "The Bickerstaff Papers" the practice of
filling almanacs with gloomy and sensational but
conjectural predictions, he does so through the
putative author Bickerstaff, who claims to be himself
an astrologer. For this reason, Swift's spokesman
"could not possibly lay the fault upon the art, but
upon those gross impostors, who set up to be the
artists."36 Faulting the practitioners rather than
the discipline is also Kreuzgang's approach to
problems. Where Goethe's Faust blames philosophy,
35 On this technique see Ronald Paulson, Satire
and the Novel in Eighteenth Century England (New
Haven: Yale University Press, 1967), p. 103.
36 Jonathan Swift, Bickerstaff Papers and
Pamphlets on the Church. Ed. Herbert Davis (Oxford:
Basil Blackwell, 1940), pp. 139-50.

193
medicine, law, and theology as useless to his purpose
(Faust I. 354-59), for Kreuzgang philosophers,
scholars, theologians are the culprits (p. 103) , and
in Timorus it is the hypocritical practice of
religion which is ridiculed, not religion itself. In
the "Apology" to his Tale of a Tub Swift makes the
same point, stressing that he intends "to expose the
abuses and corruptions in Learning and Religion."37
The immediate occasion for the satire were
Lavater's endeavors to convert the Jewish philosopher
Moses Mendelssohn to Christianity in 1769.
Mendelssohn declined with a tact and modesty which
won him universal sympathy, but Lavater persisted
nevertheless with his proselytyzing. The incident
turned into a cause célebre, for it was the first
time in Germany that the moral victory in a public
religious debate had gone to a Jew.
Refusing to accept defeat, Lavater christened
two other Jews in Berlin and attributed their
conversion to the power of his arguments in the
Mendelssohn controversy.38 In the same year two Jews
in Gottingen also embraced Christianity. Their moral
fibre differed so strongly from that of Mendelssohn,
with whom Lichtenberg was on personal and friendly
37 Gullivers Travels et al.. p. 286.
38 Kommentar zu Band III, pp. 82 ff.

194
terms, that Lichtenberg's satire was activated. Both
converts were vagrants, one a convicted felon, and
their change of religion was widely attributed to
hopes for social and economic, rather than celestial
advantages. In defending these men and their
sincerity, Photorin uses litotes to ridicule
Lavater's missionary zeal. His main target is,
however, the general hypocrisy of confessing and
praising a genuine change of heart which is neither
practised nor expected.
Religion emptied of its spiritual content is
also the theme of A Tale of a Tub, with which Timorus
has many parallels. Swift represents God as a father
who begueaths to his three sons identical coats with
very precise instructions. They are under no
circumstances to alter them or to adapt them to any
fashions. Peter represents Roman catholics, Martin
the Church of England, Jack the dissenters, and the
tale of their disobedience and quarrels is the story
of Christian, and—by implication—human folly. It
is told in a menippean mixture of narration,
reflection, and digressions, which culminates in "A
Digression in Praise of Digressions".-^ "An
Apology," a "Postscript," a letter "To the Right
Honourable John Lord Somers," an address by "The
39
Gulliver's Travels et al.. p. 356.

195
Bookseller to the Reader," the "Epistle dedicatory to
His Royal Highness Prince Posterity," and finally
"The Preface" introduce the Tale of a Tub. This
planned confusion is a deliberate ploy to involve the
reader and supply him with different, sometimes
conflicting perspectives, while at the same time it
satirizes the over-extended contemporary use of
dedications. As Timorus is much shorter than the
Tale. it only has two introductions where Swift uses
six. One of these is a dedication, signed by
Photorin, "To Oblivion," who is addressed as a great
and mighty gueen, and thus evokes associations to
Swift's Prince Posterity as well as of Queen Dullness
of Pope's Dunciad. The other is a preface by the
editor in the form of a letter to the reader. Both
introductions denigrate through inappropriate praise,
and thus take up the main theme of the satire from
the beginning.
The similarity of Her Majesty Oblivion to
Swift's Prince Posterity has not escaped attention.40
Parallels also exist between Lichtenberg's
"Introduction by the Editor" and Swift's address of
"The Bookseller to the Reader." Both serve to
distance the real as well as the pretended author
from the reading public, and to commend the work from
40
Kommentar zu Band III, p. 84 (note to p. 206).

196
the viewpoint of a person who disclaims all
responsibility for its contents, yet has a natural
interest in its promotion. Sophisticated subtleties,
based on a penetrating intellect and a thorough
mastery of rhetoric, abound in Swit's and
Lichtenberg's satires. Bonaventura's text has to be
read on the same level to reveal its interlocking and
multi-layered meaning, and its intentional
ambiguities.
Timorus takes the form of a sermon, and the
imaginary congregation is apostrophised occasionally.
Idiomatic references to the devil—characteristic of
Lichtenberg's style as of Bonaventura's—fit quite
naturally into the pseudo-theological context.
Direct and indirect use of Bible quotations is rather
more conspicuous in Timorus than in Lichtenberg's
other writings, which suggests a deliberate effort to
strengthen the illusion of a theological author. The
printed form of the sermon is a further parody of
Lavater, whose preaching was for a time so
fashionable that his unedited words were rushed into
print.
In harmony with the theological tone and with
Lavater's well-known habits, Timorus ends with
overflowing assurances of selfless good will and the
final exhortation "Grow in Faith." Faith is here

197
substituted for the "grace" in 2 Peter XIII, 18.
While the sermon thus ends on an authentic note, the
colloquial usage of the German Glaube—faith—in the
sense of uncritical acceptance is also brought into
play.
Enthusiasts, those who are carried away by their
inspirations and wishful thinking, are an aversion
which Lichtenberg and Bonaventura share with Swift.
The Dean applied the term mainly to religious
dissenters, Lichtenberg and Bonaventura, writing
after the secularizing process which took place
during the eighteenth century, to poets.
In the Tale of a Tub Swift satirizes such people
mainly in the person of Jack, especially in Section
IX, the "Digression on Madness," and in Section VIII,
which leads up to it and contains a discourse or
digression on wind. Here Swift introduces variations
on Burton's "Digression of Air,"41 exploring all
connotations of the word, from spirit and anima mundi
to inflatus and belching, and he plays on sophisms
such as "Words are but wind; and learning is nothing
but words; ergo, learning is nothing but wind."42
The digressions in the Tale of a Tub add
elements of constant uncertainty and surprise to the
41 Burton, pp. 407-438.
42 Gulliver's Travels et al. p. 362.

198
witty, but somewhat predictable parable of the three
coats. While they inform the reader they also
disorient him, which is precisely what Swift wants to
achieve, as it is the satirist's aim "to give form to
the shifting ambiguities and complexities of
unidealized existence.1,43 Not satisfied merely to
confront his readers with these, Swift manipulates
the menippean conventions to force his public into
intellectual and moral decisions.
The first of the digressions--Lichtenberg
translates the term with Ausschweifung44—concerns
critics, writers on whom the enlightenment,
Lichtenberg included, focussed much attention. Satire
is a genre particularly interested in pedigrees,
partly to parody human self-agrandisement, but also
to establish a link with tradition, to extend the
allegorical dimension, and to alert the reader to a
multiplicity of implications. In this spirit Swift
describes the background for
the TRUE CRITIC, whose original is the most
ancient of all. Every true critic is a hero
born, descending in a direct line from a
celestial stem by Momus and Hybris, who begat
Zoilus, who begat Tigellius, who begat
Etcetera the Elder; who begat Bentley, and
43 Frye, p. 223.
44 Promies, Yol. Ill, p. 229.

199
Rymer, and Wotton, and Perrault, and Dennis, who
begat Etcetera the Younger.45
The passage only makes sense to those familiar
with the names it mentions. Lichtenberg read,
digested and remembered it, for he used ideas from it
in his commentary to the first print of Hogarth's
Rake's Progress (1796). Speaking of the Rake's
recklessness with his inheritance, he first refers to
the disregard of the three brothers in the Tale of a
Tub towards their father's last will, and then
remarks that whatever an Etcetera I has hoarded, an
Etcetera II will invariably squander. Context and
wording are adapted to Lichtenberg's own purpose, but
the connection with the Tale of a Tub is preserved by
a footnote in which Lichtenberg attributes the
expression to Swift.46
Swift's device of quoting learned and weighty
sources of his own invention may burlesque Burton and
his constant references, frequently to quite obscure
and inaccessible documents, but it is also a useful
distancing device. Thus Swift's digression on wind
is introduced by the bold claim: "The learned
Aeolists maintain the original cause of all things to
be wind." Aeolists are soon exposed by the Hack's
45 Gulliver's Travels et al.. Section III, p. 329.
46 Promies, Yol. Ill, p. 823.

200
litotes as pretenders to inspiration, in plain words
windbags. The chapter warns against imagination and
idealism divorced from reality, and corresponds
therefore to the Eighth Nightwatch, where the fate of
the poor poet epitomizes the same theme. His lofty
aspirations are parabolized as well as satirized by
his abode "high up over the city in a free garret,"
where he "ruled ... so high in the airways" (p.
29) .
Bonaventura follows Swift and Lichtenberg in the
use of metaphors which are taken from daily life and
from immediate personal experience to illustrate
abstract concepts. All three are masters in
sustaining such imagery through many variations. In
the Tale of a Tub Swift already uses sleep in the
metaphorical sense of the Nightwatches.47 When his
Hack informs the reader "I wake when others sleep and
sleep when others wake," he is not talking of his
personal routine, but of attitudes to life, and like
the nightwatchman he claims to perform this task for
the benefit of others.
Clothes metaphors are the special hallmark of
the Tale of a Tub. They explain the superficiality,
changeability and hypocrisy of human behaviour.
47 Adelung's definition of "Nachtwache" is a
watch that protects the sleep of others.

201
Details like embroidery, fringes, and gold lace are
introduced to deepen the analogy. All these similes
lead to the question: "What is man himself but a
microcoat, or rather a complete suit of clothes with
all its trimmings?"48 Lichtenberg admired this
technique of expressing abstractions in everyday
language. A plan for a satire, sketched out on
December 20th, 1773 begins with the suggestion:
Writing an allegory on the present state of
criticism using gardens in the way Swift does
clothes in A Tale of a Tub might work quite
well. (D 214)
In using clothes metaphors when speaking of Swift's
works, he pays homage to his special genius as well
as to the brilliant imagery in the Tale of a Tub:
Swift certainly often dresses the children of
his imagination strangely enough, so that they
can hardly be distinguished from clowns and
acrobats; however the materials, trimmings and
stones he uses are always genuine. (G 121)
Literary criticism, which figures so prominently
in the Night wat ches. was one of Lichtenberg's
persistent concerns, for like the English writers of
the eighteenth century from Addison to Johnson he
realised the importance of the critic in shaping
public opinion, and he deplored any misuse of this
influential office. In the Nightwatches literary
criticism plays also an important part, and so does
48 Gulliver's Travels et al.. p. 379,
pp. 321-22.

202
an inhabitant of Grub Street. Lichtenberg was so
familiar with this place that he thought of ways to
translate its meaning into German (C 75 and D 148).
The concept was still alien to the German situation,
where writing was not yet an accepted profession. In
Goethe's Wilhelm Meister, which started the German
trend of artists as protagonists, the hero never can
travel in search of inspiration and, following his
lead, painters and writers in German romantic fiction
wandered in search of new horizons with little
concern for those drab necessities of life which
dominated the frustrating existence of the house¬
bound Grub Street inhabitants.
As late as 1839 the picture of a Poor Poet in an
attic, Karl Spitzweg's Per arme Poet, caused an
outcry when it was first exhibited in Munich. It
took many years before the public was reconciled to
the subject and the painting became a general
favorite. But in English eighteenth-century
literature, Swift's Hack is only one of innumerable
predecessors of Bonaventura's poor poet.
Bonaventura not only uses themes from The Tale
of a Tub, and shares its dominant concern with
unmasking human pretensions, but he also employs the
imagery of Swift's satire. Clothes metaphors are
handled with skill and imagination, notably to

203
characterize the poet who wrote "to leading spirits
for old cast-off clothes," and decks himself out with
Kant's shoes, Goethe's hat and Schiller's sleeping
cap (p. 179). To all this, he adds Lessing's wig, a
part of human attire which Swift neglected, but which
Lichtenberg freely uses in Swift's manner (L 4).
Hair-pieces feature prominently in Lichtenberg's
controversial "Fragment concerning Tails."49 In this
travesty of Lavater's physiognomical procedure, tails
from pigs to wigs are analysed to deduce the
character of the owner in language which parodies
Lavater's incoherent rhapsodies. An indelicate
double meaning is introduced by silhouettes of so-
called student's tails, most of them in the shape of
hair pieces, but some unmistakably phallic. This
spirited lampoon was published in 1783 without
Lichtenberg's consent or knowledge, and much to his
embarrassment, for he had written it in 1777 strictly
for the private amusement of some intimate friends.
Many readers recoiled—at least in their public
reactions—and the publication impaired Lichtenberg's
reputation as a serious scholar.
Swift's corporeal analogies are by no means all
of this suggestive nature. Thus the "Digression in
Praise of Digressions" is introduced by the claim
49
Promies, Vol. Ill, pp. 533-38.

204
that "the commonwealth of learning is chiefly obliged
to the great modern improvement of digressions: the
late refinements in knowledge, running parallel to
those of diet in our nation, which among men of a
judicious taste are dressed up in various compounds,
consisting in soups and olios, fricassees, and
ragouts." Allusions to diet recur in the Academy of
Lagado, where Gulliver is introduced to a novel
method of learning:
The proposition and demonstration were fairly
written on a thin wafer, with ink composed of a
cephalic tincture. This the student was to
swallow upon a fasting stomach, and for three
days following eat nothing, but bread and water.
As the wafer digested, the tincture mounted to
his brain, bearing the proposition along with
it.50
Bonaventura uses the same imagery, almost the same
words, but employs them in an extended and higher
context. Considering the stomach as the "connecting
canal of spirits" he declares "through it they ascend
as vapours into the head, after the animal part has
in turn gone its way." The link with Swift's eating
and reading metaphor is then reestablished, because
Kreuzgang goes on to observe that from this "it is as
plain as day that we can absorb the great wise men, a
Plato, Hemsterhuis, Kant, et al. in ourselves merely
by contentedly eating our way into them" (p. 187).
50
Gulliver. Part III, Chapt. v.

205
Mechanically acquired learning is a traditional
target of satire. The attack on legal abuses are an
even more integral part of the genre. In Timorus
Lichtenberg displays his skill in this field, and
demonstrates that his wit is distilled from thorough
acquaintance with laws and legal proceedings. He
quotes from an ancient legal code of his own
invention to prove why only minor criminals are ever
prosecuted, and establishes on this authority that
the converted Jew with the prison record must be a
harmless offender. The argument is syllogistically
pursued on several levels and conducted throughout in
a brilliant parody of archaic legalese.51 The
fictional records report that when long ago law was
applied with strict regard to justice, the prisons
were soon overflowing. To save the system it was
finally agreed that only petty offenders and poor
devils—a favorite expression of Lichtenberg as of
Bonaventura—should be sent to jail.
Lichtenberg dissected problems as relentlessly
as Swift. Not only back to their origins, however,
but also forward to their future implications. His
conclusions often resulted, therefore, in
surprisingly accurate forecasts, as has become clear
only in recent times, though his contemporaries
51
Promies, Vol. Ill, pp. 215 ff.

206
usually regarded his prophesying as inspired whimsy.
In Timorus he arrived at the chilling thought, "If
ever (and who can tell whether that will not be the
case one day) criminals will outnumber us, then we
will be put into prisons."52 Bonaventura likewise
considers the possibility that "in a state full of
nothing but thieves, honesty alone would have to be
punished with the rope" (p. 129).
Mistrust of systems is another of Lichtenberg's
prime concerns which he shares with the English
eighteenth-century satirists and with Bonaventura.
Thus Kreuzgang remarks about the mad world creator:
It is almost dangerous for us other fools to
have to tolerate this titan among us, for he has
his consistent system just as well as Fichte,
and basically has an even smaller opinion of man
than the latter, (p. 153)
Lichtenberg's aversion against systems stemmed from
the conviction that as long as they are based on
insufficient knowledge, they are bound to be faulty
and therefore an impediment to any further progress
of understanding. His satire is also directed
against intellectuals who misuse their learning.
In Gullivers Travels Swift lashes out at what
he assumes are "mistakes in natural philosophy," and
says "that new systems of nature were but new
fashions, which would vary in every age; and even
52
Promies, Vol. Ill, p. 216.

207
those who pretend to demonstrate them from
mathematical principles would flourish but a short
period of time, and be out of vogue when that was
determined."53 Lichtenberg's position was similar.
In his last notebook he wrote about political
systems, surmising that mankind would rush for ever
from one order into another (L 34) . Occasion for
this remark was a book which had impressed him enough
to record the date of reading, October 28th, 1796.
This was Per politische Tierkreis, Oder die Zeichen
der Zeit by Huergelmer, and it seems to have been a
political satire in which human beings were compared
with animals, much in the manner of the "Prologue to
the Tragedy: Man," where the Clown claims that "most
men . . . acquire in their physiognomies a striking
racial resemblance with birds of prey, as for
instance vultures, hawks, etc;" and that "the older
aristocracy is sooner able to trace its pedigrees to
the beasts of prey than to apes" (p. 139).
Like Swift and Lichtenberg, Kreuzgang cannot put
his trust in human leadership, systems or
institutions. He perceives the faults and flaws in
human reasoning all too clearly, and the self-
satisfied confidence around him fills him with grave
53 Gulliver's Travels. Book III, Chapt. vii, p.
194.

208
foreboding. He sees himself surrounded by
uncertainties and trusts in nothing.
"Nothing" is also the theme on which Swift ends
his tale: "I am now trying an experiment very
frequent among Modern authors; which is to write upon
Nothing; when the subject is utterly exhaused to let
the pen still move on; by some called the ghost of
wit, delighting to walk after the death of its body."
Further variations on this theme raise the suspicion
that the author may really be embarrassed to find the
final words, when he suddenly connects his digression
on the writer's predicament to the very essence of
his discourse, the quest for meaning in life:
The conclusion of a treatise resembles the
conclusion of human life, which hath sometimes
been compared to the end of a feast; where few
are satisfied to depart. 54
The Clown's "Prologue" ends much like Swift's Tale of
a Tub: the serious purpose behind the frills becomes
suddenly apparent, and the seeming irrelevancies
assume unexpected significance. They are revealed as
froth on the surface which hides the great issues of
life and death, destiny and eternity from immediate
view, because they would be too painful to envision:
The death's head is never missing behind the
ogling mask and life is only the cap and bells
which the Nothing has draped around to tinkle
54
Gulliver's Travels et al. p. 393.

209
with and finally to tear up fiercely and hurl
from itself, (p. 141)
After the Prologue ends and the Clown departs
the Ninth Nightwatch begins. Like Section IX in the
Tale of a Tub it is a digression on madness. Though
the use of the same chapter-number deliberately draws
attention to Swift's paramount influence on
Kreuzgang's Bedlam experience, the combined work of
the Scriblerians has contributed significantly to
Bonaventura' s design. Pope and the other
Scriblerians will, therefore, be discussed before
Swift's connection with Bonaventura is extended to
the Ninth Nightwatch.

CHAPTER VI
ALEXANDER POPE (1688-1744) AND THE SCRIBLERIANS.
Pope's major works were well known in Germany
among the erudite, who appreciated his polished
language, the accuracy of his satiric darts, and the
ease of access to English philosophy which he
offered, especially to the thoughts of Shaftesbury.1
His collected works were owned by Lichtenberg in an
English edition of 1764, and in German translation.
The library contained also a German edition of the
Essay on Criticism which included the original text
(Nos. 1662-64) , and an English edition of the Essay
on Man. Of this there was also a German translation
which included other, not further specified
translations from Pope (Nos. 1381-82).
Lichtenberg admired especially Pope's ease of
expression, and his gift for explaining abstract
ideas in concrete and clearly understandable terms.
That it was primarily this linguistic presentation
which fascinated him is shown by the fact that he
1 Price, English Literature in Germany.
Chapt. v, "Pope and Philosophic Poetry," pp. 61-72.
210

211
copied various lines of Pope into his notebooks in
the original English, a habit which started early in
1770 (A 135) and continued to the end of his life (L
448 and L 700).
Stimulation by Pope is suggested by the plan to
write a satire in his manner, one of many satiric
proposals of which only brief hints survive:
To imitate "a key to the lock." To interpret
the Sorrows of Werther in relation to America or
similar circumstances, or with a view to the
revelations (Fata) of the Christian Religion.
Inquisition in Spain. (F 332)
Such cryptic remarks do not allow accurate
assessment of what Lichtenberg actually had in mind.
F 332, like others of Lichtenberg7s satirical
outlines, could easily be taken for the whim of an
idle hour. Reference to the Key to the Lock shows,
however, that Lichtenberg not merely read fashionable
masterpieces. He also went into their background,
and familiarized himself with everything that had any
bearing on them. As Pope had published A Key to the
Lock in 1715 anonymously, with the satirical intent
to interpret his own Rape of the Lock in a wrong and
misleading way, and thus mock his detractors, the
reference shows that Lichtenberg was thinking in

212
terms of multilevelled irony when he sketched out his
compressed plan for a satire.2
The ironic pose of vindicating a work by
fallacious attacks presupposes an alert and well
educated audience, and Lichtenberg delighted in such
intellectual challenge. Pope's pamphlet already
discloses in the title a technique in which
Lichtenberg himself excelled: skilful play with the
different, often contradictory meanings of words,
especially those which were common and frequently
used. The ambiguities which can be created by
dexterous verbal manipulation surprise and thus
delight, but they also serve the serious purpose of
inducing a fresh survey of familiar surroundings, as
they induce thought and contemplation. In such a
work anonymity is more than author protection, it is
a literary device by which the reader is deprived of
authorial guidance, and forced to decode the messages
without any help.
Pope is mainly renowned for the lucid clarity of
his diction and for the quotability of his couplets,
which often seem effortlessly simple. His delight in
ambiguities, parodies, burlesques and mystifications
2 The pamphlet to which Lichtenberg refered is A
Key to the Lock or a treatise proving beyond all
contradiction the dangerous tendency of a late poem
entitled the rape of the lock to government and
religion. It was published in London, 1715.

213
was shared by the members of the Scriblerus Club.
The originator of this select circle, and initially
the driving force behind it was Pope himself, though
his friend Jonathan Swift was to become the visible
center of a group which included the learned and
versatile Dr. John Arbuthnot (1667-1735), physician
to Queen Anne; Thomas Parnell (1679-1718), author of
the "Night-Piece on Death", probably the herald of
the eighteenth-century graveyard poetry; John Gay
(1685-1732) , author of the Beggars Opera; and Robert
Harley, the first earl of Oxford (1661-1724), a
prominent Tory politician and man of letters.
A Key to the Lock was written while the
activities of the club were at their height, and it
is likely that all Scriblerians took a hand in it.3
They had set themselves the task of "not merely
ridiculing the follies of party writers, critics,
editors, and commentators, but of satirizing all
follies among men of learning, whether philosophers
or artists, antiquarian or travelers, teachers or
poets, lawyers or dancing masters." This
responsibility they approached with "vigorous and
3 Memoirs of the Extraordinary Life, Works, and
Discoveries of Martinus Scriblerus. Written in
Collaboration by the Members of the Scriblerus Club,
John Arbuthnot, Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, John
Gay, Thomas Parnell and Robert Harley, Earl of
Oxford. Ed. Charles Kerby-Miller (New Haven: Yale
University Press, 1950). Introduction, p. 42 and n. 2.

214
skeptical common sense, . . . scorn for cant,
hypocrisy and enthusiasm4 . . . fear of disorder and
unbridled innovation . . . distrust of projectors and
schematists." They possessed "exceptionally well-
informed minds, . . . [an] extraordinarily rich sense
of the ridiculous, . . . ingenious fancy and copious
wit."5 Lichtenberg combined these aims and
qualities, and he also shared the verbal virtuosity
of these men, all of whom figure in his notes and
letters.
The wit of the Scriblerus Club was too topical
and intellectually demanding to attain popularity
even in England, and in Germany only few were able to
savor it properly. Lichtenberg highly enjoyed Dr.
Arbuthnot's Law is a Bottomless Pit which later
achieved fame as The History of John Bull. Already
during his second stay in England he had reached the
conclusion: "John Bull represents the character of
the Englishman" (E 68) . The same opinion is again
expressed in his travelling journal, where he also
notes that either Swift is the author or more likely
Dr. Arbuthnot, as Swift would hardly have treated the
Scots with so much fairness. Whether this was an
4 The word is to be taken in the eighteenth-
century sense where it denotes reliance on
inspiration rather than on reason and evidence.
5 Ed. Kerby-Miller, Memoirs. Introduction, p. 73.

215
independent or acquired opinion, the remark witnesses
to considerable familiarity with Scriblerian
thoughts.6
The Scriblerians were especially concerned with
the abuses of learning which lead to miscarriage and
perversion of justice, a prime target for satire
since antiquity. Their extensive use of satire as "a
most effective weapon . . . against the object of
their special hatred . . . law, lawyers and the legal
profession" is the topic of a thesis by James Walter
Carter. Their efforts in this field were
significant, in that they "indirectly brought about a
reform of the very abuses and corruptions prevalent
in the legal processes and profession of which they
wrote." 7
In the Nightwatches this tradition continues.
Misapplications of law are satirically exposed in
many instances: in the figure of the wizened old
judge, in whom everything human was "erased with only
the mere expression of work remaining" (p. 51) ; in
the rally for the Last Judgement in the Sixth
6 Ed. Gumbert, Lichtenberq in England. Vol. I,
p. 154.
7 James Walter Carter, Scriblerian Satire
against Law. Thesis for the Degree of Master of Arts,
Gainesville: University of Florida, 1958, p. 9,
p. 109.

216
Nightwatch; in the judicial murder of the nun (p. 165
-69) .
Lichtenberg's own satires on the law rival those
of the Scriblerians in exuberant spirit and
inventiveness only in his first published satire.
Later he kept largely guiet about a subject on which
any controversy was severely discouraged in heavily
censored Germany. That injustice nevertheless
affected him strongly in the Scriblerian spirit is
shown by occasional asides in his notes and letters.
Thus he records:
Sometimes a sentence comes to mind first thing
in the morning which then keeps recurring to the
memory all day long. Thus on February 28th,
1778 I said nearly every guarter of an hour "law
is a bottomless pit." (F 877)
The Scriblerian hey-days were in 1714, but while
common interests inspired works which gained fame and
acclaim, these were mainly published later, so
Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1726) or Gay's Beggar's
Opera (1728). The main joint effort appeared later
still, when Pope included The Memoirs of Martinus
Scriblerus in the second volume of his prose works in
1741.
The object of the satire is to expose
intellectual follies in all walks of life, and
Martinus satirizes those who are carefully educated,
but crammed with knowledge, rather than led to

217
understanding. He has developed a narrow and
pedantic outlook and serves admirably to demonstrate
the favorite Scriblerian techniques of strategic
fallacious reasoning which destroys the adversaries'
argument by stretching it to absurd extensions. His
companion and foil is Conrad Crambe, a born punster
with "a natural disposition to sport himself with
words," who prides himself on his Treatise of
Syllogisms. another non-existent book that is used to
satiric purpose. His glaring incompetence
notwithstanding, Conrad teaches metaphysics.®
In Lichtenberg's Timorus the function of the
glib and verbose Conradus Crambe, somebody clearly
unqualified to judge, is assigned to equally shallow
and self-assured Conrad Photorin. Though Conrad was
the name of Lichtenberg's father, the similarity of
the two satiric persona should not be overlooked, for
both operate on the Scriblerian plan to ridicule by
ironic praise the works and attitudes which the
satire as a whole attacks.
This method had been brilliantly exercised
during a Renaissance controversy in which the German
scholar Johannes Reuchlin (1455-1522) had defended
some Jews, and thereby conflicted with the
authorities of the church. As it was too dangerous
8
Ed. Kerby-Miller, Memoirs. p. 118.

218
to come out openly in his defense, Epistolae
obscurorum virorum appeared under various fictitious
names, prominently among them one Conrad, a name so
popular at the time in Germany, that it designated
practically "everyman." These Letters of the Obscure
Men ( 1515-17) prudently took up Reuchlin's cause by
exaggerated support of his attackers, but with the
fallacious arguments of misinformed ignorance, and in
such deficient Latin that their want of a sound cause
was easily exposed. By casting Conrad in a similar
role, the Scriblerians seem to have acknowledged
their indebtedness to the earlier satire, and Conrad
Photorin stands in the same tradition.
Timorus includes a lengthy digression on Siamese
twins called Helena and Judith.9 The same girls also
appear in the Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus. where
the taller and fair one is called Lindamira, and
becomes for a short and confusing period the wife of
Martinus. ”The Double Mistress,” as this grotesque
episode is called, serves mainly to ridicule
cumbersome legal procedure, for by marrying one of
the sisters Martin gets inextricably involved with
both, a situation which supplies lawyers and judges
with ample opportunities for ingenious sophistry.
9 Promies, Vol. Ill, pp. 225-27.
10 Ed. Kerby-Miller, Memoirs. Chapt. xiv-xv.

219
In a firework of wit which offended many
sensibilities, Martinus is legally pronounced a
lawful husband, a bigamist, an adulterer, and a
perpetrator of incest. The final annulment of the
ill- fated union indicates the propensity of legal
procedures to grind to a halt after feverish
activities. Bishop Warburton omitted the whole
incident from his edition of The Works of Alexander
Pope in 1751.
Charles Kerby-Miller reinstated "The Double
Mistress" in his 1950 edition. He traces the episode
to "twins, whose names were Helena and Judith, . . .
born in Szony, in Hungary, on October 26th, 1701,"
who were exhibited in The Hague. There the English
scholar William Burnet saw them, and he "sent a
description and a print of them to Sir Hans Sloane,"
which was read to the Royal Society on May 12th,
1708.11 The Scriblerians used this case history to
expose empty legal verbiage.
Conrad Photorin, true to his role as pompous and
shallow theologian, names as his source the
Philosophical Transactions and the controversial
Treatises on the Principal Truths of Natural Religion
(1754) by H. S. Reimarus, only to denigrate the
learned Reimarus, whose denial of the supernatural in
11
Ed. Kerby-Miller, Memoirs, pp. 294-95.

220
religion12 led to bitter attacks. Conrad refers to
Reimarus, scholar and theologian, as a lay person,
whom few theologians would read, and follows in this
the Scriblerian plan for satire to denigrate the good
and praise the bad. Through this satiric method
Lichtenberg also accuses the adversaries of Reimarus
in general of not having read his works. Through
Reimarus the topos of freethinkers is introduced into
Timorus. Martinus Scriblerus13 and the Nightwatches
are likewise concerned with this theme.
The enlightened Reimarus, through the anecdote
of the twins, investigated the correlation of body
and soul, an aspect of the double with which
Lichtenberg increasingly occupied himself. Conrad
Photorin, however, interprets Reimarus on a purely
superficial level, and identifies the more alert
Judith with the soul, and the subdued Helena with the
body. The allegory is then extended to their
quarrels and disagreements, from whence Conrad
returns to the main argument of his letter, the
conversion by Lavater of two Jews who had been
accused of having changed their religion because of a
12 Lichtenberg used the word Fata for
revelation, thereby indicating his mistrust in
knowledge that cannot be verified empirically (F
332) .
13 Ed. Kerby-Miller, Memoirs. e.g., p. 138.

221
predilection for pork sausages, in other words for
purely secular advantages. Proving through the
example of the twins that body and soul are one,
Conrad argues that whether something is done for the
body or for the soul must needs be all the same.
In Timo ru s Lichtenberg's persistent
preoccupation with twinning aspects showed itself for
the first time. His continuing contributions to the
problems of double perspectives are counted by Albert
Schneider among the reasons, why he sees in
Lichtenberg an important forerunner of the romantic
movement.14 The episode of the two brides in the
Nightwatches leads to a matrimonial outcome similar
to that experienced by Martinus Scriblerius: the
groom with an original choice of two girls is left
with nothing. The satirical didactic purpose of the
melodramatic episode is revealed in a concluding
paragraph, which emphasizes, as in the complementary
story of the two brothers, the repeat pattern of this
human triangle:
. . . near by, youths are still singing and
carousing and squander life and love and poetry
in a brief swift intoxication which by morning
14 See Albert Schneider, "Le Double Prince."
For further affinities between Lichtenberg and the
romantics see also Albert Schneider, Lichtenberg.
Précurseur du Romantisme. I, L'homme et 17 oeuvre
(Nancy: Société d'Impressions Typographiques, 1954).
II. Lichtenberg, Penseur (Paris: Société d'Edition
'Les Belles Lettres', n.d.), p. 162.

222
is dispelled—when their deeds, their dreams,
their hopes, their wishes and everything around
them has become sober and grown cold . . .
(p. 163)
In The Nightwatches the rejected girl is merely
referred to as "the white one," while her rival is
alternately called "the red one" or "the rose." The
distinction corresponds to that of the fair and
lively Lindamore, the bride of Martinus, while in her
dark sister "Indamora the Lily overcame the Rose."15
The stereotypes in both works indicate that the
events are not actual but representative, and when in
the Nightwatches the rose swoons and dies, turning
from red to white herself, the symbolism of the
interchanging characteristics from the tale of the
two opposite brothers is once more repeated. At the
same time the ludicrous elements of a neverending
tragic situation are highlighted.16 The short
interlude points to the affinities between
Bonaventura and the Scriblerians, and compresses the
full range of menippean possibilities into a few
short paragraphs, from the grotesgue to the profound,
15 Ed. Kerby-Miller, Memoirs. p. 146.
16 Cf. F 678, where Lichtenberg guotes an
epigram referring to one of Queen Anne's wars
They both did fight, they both did beat
they both did run away,
They both did strive to meet again
The guite contrary way.

223
from literary sophistication to the rudiments of
street ballads (p. 161 and 163).
The Scriblerians devote their first Chapter to
their protagonist's genealogy, a common menippean
device by which they satirize the human vanity of
claiming distinction as a birth right, and at the
same time establish their hero as an allegorical
rather than a real person. Thus Martin's father is
represented as a German of Münster, "by Profession an
Antiquary" who claims co-sanguinity with such famed
alchemists as Albertus Magnus and Paracelsus.17
Lichtenberg did not share the Scriblerian
disdain for natural science. He fully appreciated
the royal efforts to promote mechanical advances,
especially in horology, for as an astronomer he
realized that among the benefits these bestowed on
humanity were considerable improvements in
17 As Münster borders on Hanover this seems a
satire on Leibniz, a close associate of the House of
Hanover whose possible transference to England was
discussed during the time the Scriblerians were
active. The interest of the Hanoverian Kings in
mechanical devices and natural science which the
Scriblerians ridicule individually and as a group,
was largely inspired by Leibniz, who was also the
inventor of a tentative calculating machine—a device
which is satirized in Martinus Scriblerus as well as
in Volume III of Gulliver's Travels (Chapt. v, pp.
180-83).

224
navigation.18 In accordance with this attitude, the
alchemist father in the Niahtwatches functions as an
extension of Kreuzgang's personality, symbolizing his
background of science, learning and traditional
values, while the gypsy mother represents his
passionate and impulsive side. Thus the grotesque
genealogy exposes the incongruous coupling in human
nature of instinct and reason.
In satire as in morality plays, proper names are
traditionally used for characterization, and the
Scriblerians utilise this for Martinus and his family
tree, as well as for his companion Conrad Crambe who
proposes: "There cannot be more in the conclusion
than was in the premises; that is children can only
inherit from their parents."19 In Kreuzgang's case
this characterisation is, however, extended to an
evil god-father, and a foster father who is a mystic
artisan. By compressing his hero's background in
this manner, Bonaventura can dispense with the
complicated pedigrees which characterize Martinus and
other menippean protagonists. As inquiries into the
meaning of life are the prime concern of the
menippea, the Scriblerians explain: assertion:
1 ft
e.g. J 1155 where "Hugenus, Dr. Hooke and
Harrison" are praised as creators of clocks, and for
having extended the limits of science.
19 Ed. Kerby-Miller, Memoirs. p. 122.

225
In this Design of Martin to investigate the
Diseases of the Mind, he thought nothing so
necessary as an Enquiry after the Seat of the
Soul; in which at first he labour'd under
great uncertainties. Sometimes he was of
opinion that it log'd in the Brain, sometimes in
the Stomach, and sometimes in the Heart.
Afterwards he thought it absurd to confine
that sovereign Lady to one apartment, which made
him infer that she shifted it according to the
several functions of life: The Brain was her
Study, the Heart her State-room, and the Stomach
her Kitchen.20
As if in direct response to this passage, Kreuzgang
commences his contemplations on the central role of
the stomach with the declaration:
As others the head or the heart, so I assume the
stomach to be the seat of life. (p. 185)
Keeping in mind the raunchy wit of the Scriblerus
Club and its occasional use by Lichtenberg and
Bonaventura, seat may be taken here in both its
literal and abstract meaning.
Both discussions occur in a twelfth chapter, in
conjunction with other parallels probably a
sophisticated method of allusion. Intentional
parallelism is indicated by the ending of both
chapters with a comparison of man to a machine.
Kreuzgang refers to man as "this artful machine" in
which a thousand wheels are driving and turning" (p.
187), while the Scriblerians wind up their chapter by
satirizing the invention of a "Hydraulic Engine."
20
Ed. Kerby-Miller, Memoirs, p. 137

226
The Freethinkers, to whom the Scriblerians refer
several times, are represented in the Nightwatches
mainly by the intellectual in the First Nightwatch,
whose death directs the focus from the start towards
problems concerning the existence and continuation of
the soul, and provides at the same time opportunity
for hard-hitting satire of the abuses of learning in
theology (p. 35 ff.).
Both works also pay tribute to the Spanish
contributions to tragi-comic literature by mention of
Spain in various ways. Of Martinus it is said that
due to "the Gravity of his Deportment and Habit [he]
was generally taken for a decayed Gentleman of
Spain." He and his foil Conrad Crambe evoke Don
Quixote and Sancho Panza;21 and when "the Revenge of
a cruel Spaniard" drives Martinus "almost through the
whole terragueous globe" a mixture of chivalry and
futile fanaticism is indicated merely by casting a
Spaniard in the role of pursuer. Bonaventura, in
turn, chooses a Spanish setting for the tragedy of
the opposed brothers.
Abuses of teaching are exposed by the
Scriblerians when Martin's teacher freguently carries
"him to the Puppet-Show of the Creation of the world,
21 Memoirs, e.g. pp. 124 and 169; Introduction,
"The Literary Background," pp. 68 ff.

227
where the Child with exceeding delight gain'd a
notion of the History of the Bible."22 This passage
is one of many in English eighteenth-century
literature which witnesses to the popularity of
puppet-plays, and Bonaventura, too, draws much of his
imagery from them.
Among the many devices to expose pretensions,
the Scriblerians included Latinizing their hero's
name. Bonaventura follows the lead by using
alternately the Latin form "Olearius" for Dr.
Oehlmann, his quintessntial dunce.
Subtleties of this kind were often only
accessible to a restricted circle even among
contemporaries, and such sophisticated authorial
intent is frequently missed. Not surprisingly The
Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus shares the fate of
menippean satires to be often misunderstood.23 The
text was particularly difficult to appreciate, as the
work was published so long after the events which
provoked the satire.
22 Ed. Kerby-Miller, Memoirs. Chapt. iv, "Of the
Suction and Nutrition of the Great Scriblerus in his
Infancy, and of the first Rudiments of his Learning,"
p. 107, and commentary p. 215.
23 Frye, Anatomy. After proposing to rename the
menippea "anatomy," Frye writes: "It is the anatomy
in particular that has baffled critics, and there is
hardly any fiction writer deeply influenced by it who
has not been accused of disorderly conduct," p. 313.

228
Among those able to savor the Scriblerian wit,
erudition, and linguistic virtuosity of the Memoirs
was Lichtenberg. He softened Samuel Johnson's
negative judgment on the Memoirs when he published in
1782 "Pope's Leben und Schriften" in his
Gottingisches Maqazin. 24 The article shows
Lichtenberg's quick reaction to publications in
England which he deemed of importance, as well as his
particular interest in Pope. His translation follows
Johnson fairly closely, but is adapted to the
interests of German readers. Some passages are
shortened, explanations are interpolated, and many
footnotes are provided, mainly to explain unfamiliar
names. The comparative failure of Martinus
Scriblerus is attributed to the range of learning
which it presupposes in the reader, and Lichtenberg
underlines especially the affinity to Don Quixote,
and also to a French satire by a Mr. Oufle, a
pseudonym which he explains as an anagram of "le
fou."25
24 Gottinqisches Maqazin. 3rd year, 1st part,
1782, pp. 62 ff., repr. Vermischte Schriften (1844),
Vol. V, 1844, "Nachricht von Popes Leben und
Schriften aus Johnson's Prefaces biographical and
critical to the works of the english poets. London,
1781," pp. 33-70.
25 Lichtenberg, Vermischte Schriften (1844),
Vol. V, pp. 59-60.

229
Lichtenberg owned an expurgated Warburton 1764
edition of Pope in 6 volumes (No. 1662) in which the
episode of "The Double Mistress" was duly omitted,
but he studied his favorite English authors also in
their native country, where he read their works and
visited places connected with their memories. During
his second visit he paraphrased a couplet from Pope's
"Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot," and excerpted lines from
the Essay on Criticism which playfully use the word
"nothing" in the plural:
such mighty nothings in so strange a stile [sic]
amaze th'unlearned and make the learned smile.
(326-27)26
Particular interest in the nature of "nothing" is
shown by substitution of Pope's epithet "laboured"
with the oxymoronic and more emphatic "mighty."
In "The Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot" Pope speaks of
his detractors in terms to which Lichtenberg and
Bonaventura supplied several variants:
There are, who to my Person pay their court,
I cough like Horace. and tho' lean, am short,
Ammon's great Son one shoulder had too high,
Such Ovid's nose, and "Sir! you have an Eve—"
Go on, obliging Creatures, make me see
All that disgrac'd my Betters, met in me:
Say for my comfort, languishing in bed,
"Just so immortal Maro held his head:'
And when I die, be sure you let me know
Great Homer dy'd three thousand years ago.
11. 115-124.
26 Ed. Gumbert, Lichtenberg in England. Vol. I,
pp. 37 and 159; pp. 231, 606 and 619, Vol. II, p. 170.

230
Pope uses here irrelevant idiosyncracies of the
famous to expose the hollowness of flattery, and of
those who are concerned with nothing but trivia.
Lichtenberg adapted the idea to deride the vanity of
dunces, simultaneously deploring the fact that genius
is so readily admired, and so seldom studied or
understood. This paradox occupied his thoughts for
many years. In October 1776 he wrote:
He united in himself the attributes of the
greatest men. He always dropped his head like
Alexander, and fumbled in his hair like Caesar.
He could drink coffee like Leibniz, and
when he settled down in an easy chair he forgot
food and drink like Newton, and had to be woken
up like him. His wig he wore like Dr. Johnson
and one of his fly-buttons was always open just
like with Cervantes (F 492).
In early summer 1798 he repeated the observation,
this time more concisely and pointedly:
Like Alexander he held his head to one side,
like Cervantes he always had his fly open, and
like Montaigne he was unable to count, neither
with numbers nor with money (L 471).
In the Twelfth Nightwatch, Bonaventura uses the
same topos, but superimposes a satire on Lavater's
brand of physiognomy. Kreuzgang meets a poet who is
pursuing immortality, and eagerly reveals his
strategems:
I have tried in every way to advance myself, but
always in vain; until I finally found I have
Kant's nose, Goethe's eyes, Lessing's forehead,
Schiller's mouth and the backside of several
famous men; I called attention to this and
arrived; indeed, people began to admire me.
Next I pushed things further, I wrote to leading

231
spirits for old cast-off clothes, and fortune
benevolently granted that I now stride about in
shoes in which Kant once walked with his own
feet, during the day set Goethe's hat on
Lessing's wig, and in the evening wear
Schiller's night cap; indeed, I went still
further, I learned to cry like Kotzebue and
sneeze like Tieck, and you won't believe what an
impression I can often thereby bring about; a
creature lives after all in its body and would
rather have to deal with this than with the
mind; it is no shadowboxing when I tell you that
someone, before whom I once wandered in as
Goethe, with hat set backwards and hands hidden
in the folds of my coat, gave me the assurance
that I amused him more than Goethe's writings.—
People have been asking me since then to the
most elegant tables and I get on quite well
there, (p. 179 and 181)
Identification with irrelevant characteristics of the
famous exposes this modern poet as a sham. The
satire, however, hits also the public which is so
easily pleased with the mere trappings of fame.
Of special interest for Lichtenberg and the
Niqhtwatches is also Pope's "Epistle to Mr.
Jervas,"27 for it is dedicated to the painter Charles
Jervas (1675-1739) and deals "With Drvden's
Translation of Fresnov's Art of Painting." which had
appeared in 1695. Pope celebrates in this address to
his friend the "Sister-arts" of painting and poetry
which "... each from each contract new strength and
light," (line 16) and reflect "images . . . from art
to art" (line 20) . Raphael and Virgil are the
27 Poetry and Prose of Alexander Pope. Sel. and
intr. Aubrey Williams (New York: Houghton Mifflin
Company, 1969), pp. 101-103.

232
standard setters, and Corregió is praised for his
soft line. These two painters also figure in the
Nightwatches as measures of perfection.
Lichtenberg showed in his Commentaries to
Hogarth how much he sympathized with the view that
all achievements of the intellect and imagination
should be integrated. Bonaventura continues in this
tradition, his coupling of art and poetry, though,
has been interpreted as a romantic trait. While for
the romantics art was an aesthetic experience, and
poetry and music were regarded as gates into a realm
of beauty and harmony that transcends reality, the
enlightenment viewed the arts as an opportunity to
expand the human capacity to come to terms with
reality, and thus improve the tasks of life. As
literary criticism was rated an influential aid to
enlarged perception and heightened sensitivity, Pope,
Lichtenberg and Bonaventura resorted to it
extensively. All three practice literary criticism
in the satiric form at which the Scriblerians
excelled.
Perhaps the best known example of this rarely
used satiric sub-genre is Peri Bathous or the Art of
Sinking in Poetry, which was first published in March
1728. It is usually credited to Pope, who is thought
to have written it with some help from Swift and Dr.

233
Arbuthnot, for it appeared under the name of Martinus
Scriblerus and thereby acknowledges strong influence
from the Scriblerus Club. It works on what Ronald
Paulson calls "the Swiftian solution" of letting the
antihero condemn himself,28 for Martin praises and
quotes passages from the poets whom Pope has attacked
in the Dunciad. Their more or less glaring
weaknesses are deftly demonstrated by lavish praise
from the narrow-minded and insensitive Martin, but
also by the strict generic rules he discusses, which
frame his knowledgeable, but uncomprehending
explications.
Satire has to be attentive to genre. As it
attacks transgressions and deviations, it needs an
accepted canon as a model of the desirable, and
examples which it can recommend. In Peri Bathous the
title already shows that the treatise takes its lead
from the essay of the first century A. D. literary
critic Longinus, On the Sublime. (Peri Hupsous),
which later exerted strong influence on romantic
poets. Longinus is occupied with "the consideration
of the means whereby we may succeed in raising our
own capacities to a certain pitch of elevation.1,29
28 Paulson, Satire and the Novel, p. 103.
29 Ed. Adams, Critical Theory since Plato.
Longinus, "On the Sublime," pp. 77-102, p. 77.

234
Pope achieves his satire by manipulating the
meanings of "sublime" and "profound." He has
Martinus to understand these concepts in their common
meaning of high and low, and while his satiric
persona guilelessly talks of altitude, Pope is really
stigmatizing the prevalence of uninformed and
perverted public judgment.
"We shall find those who have a taste for the
Sublime to be very few, but the Profound strikes
universally, and is adapted to every Capacity,"
Martinus declares, and he goes on to argue that few
are interested in risking the trouble and fatigue to
climb high peaks: hence the majority will always be
content to remain comfortably close to the ground.
Why then should all honors and dignities "be
bestowe'd upon the exceeding few meager inhabitants
of the Top of the Mountain"?30
By equating mountain with Parnassus, Pope can
sustain his metaphor, and condemn mental inertia by
letting Scriblerus praise the common-sense of staying
out of trouble's way and remaining comfortably at the
bottom. Thus he proves "that the Bathos, or
Profound, is the natural Taste of Man, and in
particular, of the present Age" (Chapt. II). By this
double talk Pope generalizes his satire to fit any
30
Poetry and Prose of Alexander Pope, p. 391.

235
target that comes to mind. But he also provides a
sophisticated guide for rhetoric, as the the learned
Martinus displays all the most important figures of
speech, linguistic embellishments and literary rules
in a sustained parody of their true meaning. In this
essay Pope exercises the whole range of traditional
craftsmanship with which the seemingly artless barbs
of satire are forged, and which induced Alvin P.
Kernan to say that the satirist "is always an
extremely clever poetic strategist and manipulator of
language who possesses an incredibly copious and
colorful vocabulary and an almost limitless arsenal
of rhetorical devices."31 Peri Bathous epitomizes
Pope's first principle of criticism, as emphasized by
Ian Jack, to consider the generic nature of a piece,
and the intent of its author.32 In Peri Bathous Pope
delights in parading his thorough mastery of the
rhetorical apparatus, which is the essential base for
successful satire, as persuasion is the satirist's
task. Several particular touches in their works
suggest that Lichtenberg and Kreuzgang studied Pope's
31 Alvin P. Kernan, "The Cankered Muse: Satire
of the English Renaissance." In Satire: Modern Essays
in Criticism. Ed. Ronald Paulson (Englewood Cliffs,
N. J.: Prentice-Hall, 1971), p. 251.
32 Ian Jack, Augustan Satire. Intention and
Idiom in English Poetry, 1660-1700 (Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 1952), p. 77.

236
amusing and instructive work, and profited from the
lesson.
Lichtenberg repeatedly attacked Johann Heinrich
Voss (1751-1826) , known to him since Voss was a
student and member of the enthusiastic poetic circle
known as the Góttinger Hain. Lichtenberg writes
against the adoration of Klopstock, and the worship
of genius among these young men, for he shared the
antipathy of the English eighteenth-century satirists
against all forms of unsubstantiated enthusiasm. He
voiced his disapproval in many different ways, but he
took up his pen when Voss, who translated the Odyssey
and Iliad (1781-93), became a philological adversary
of Christian Gottlob Heyne (1720-1812), professor in
Gottingen. Lichtenberg contributed several essays to
the controversy, casting Voss as a dunce in the
Scriblerian sense, and attacking him with the
satirical apparatus which the Scriblerus Club had
perfected. He acknowledges this connection with the
exasperated exclamation: "Oh! If only someone would
write a Dunciad now!"33
German readers had, however, never been exposed
to the constant satiric crossfire which was a by¬
product of English party strife, and though
33 Promies, Vol. Ill, "Ãœber die Pronunciation
der Schópse," pp. 296-308, p. 299.

237
Lichtenberg's darts are somewhat less virulent than
those which Pope or Swift directed against their
targets, the his essay was widely criticized as too
sharp and offensive.34
Klopstock had already irritated Lichtenberg
considerably by proposing a revised German
orthography,35 and now Voss attempted to revise Greek
spelling. Thus the actual occasion of Lichtenberg's
attack was comparatively trivial, especially as there
was no immediate danger that any of these proposals
would be adopted. But the blow was aimed at the
forces of dullness, the abuses of learning in a wider
sense, and these were the targets against which the
Scriblerians had fought before him. In an essay that
appeared in the Deutsches Museum in 1782, Lichtenberg
introduces Voss thinly disguised as the principal of
a school. A young pupil questions him eagerly on the
most advantageous application of his new rules, and
this artless innocence exposes their futility and
34 E.g. Ich war wohl kluq, dass ich dich fand.
Heinrich Christian Boies Briefwechsel mit Luise Meyer
1777-85. Ed. Use Schreiber (München: Biederstein,
1963) p. 193, letter of December 16th, 1782. In view
of Lichtenberg's satiric stance Luise Meyer wrote on
January 23, 1785: "There can be nothing more vain on
earth as such a Góttinger scholar who does not
acknowledge any other merit and looks down on
everybody else as poor wretches."
35 Ed. Joost, Briefwechsel. Vol. I, No. 561,
letter to Carl Friedrich Hindenburg, 1778, where
Lichtenberg mimics and ridicules Klopstock's proposals.

238
illogical contradictions. Voss paid his homage to
the venerated Homer by envisaging him in a gown woven
of the aurora borealis, and Lichtenberg lampoons this
metaphoric excess on two different occasions.36
Quite similar examples of poetic fancy are
stigmatized by Pope, who has Martinus propose that
"when a true Genius looks upon the Sky, he
immediately catches the Idea of a Piece of Blue
Lutestring, or a Child/s Mantle" and recommends "this
happy and antinatural way of thinking to such a
degree, as to be able, on the appearance of any
Object, to furnish his Imagination with Ideas
infinitely below it."37
In Chapter X Martinus Scriblerus deals with
"Tropes and Figures: and first of the variegating,
confounding, and reversing Figures," in Chapter XI
with those that magnify and diminish. Much of his
advice is followed in the "Dithyramb on Spring" of
the Nightwatches. This short piece is written in the
"Florid Stile," which according to Martinus is most
"proper to the Bathos. as Flowers which are the
Lowest of Vegetables are most Gaudy. and do many
times grow in great Plenty at the bottom of Ponds and
36 Mautner, Schriften und Briefe. Vol. II,
404 and 420.
37 Poetry and Prose of Alexander Pope, p. 396.

239
Ditches.” In support Pope has Martinus quote from
Aphra Behn: "The Groves appear all drest in Wreaths
of Flowers/And from their leaves drop aromatic
Showers . . .1,38
The "Dithyramb" follows Martinus7 advice,
amplifying the message that spring has arrived in a
bewildering medley of tropes which pair the trivial
with the sublime. While Spring is apostrophized, and
winter introduced as her "gloomy brother," the
parallelism is immediately disturbed by a new
conceit: "Blushing in morning's glow, the young earth
steps forth as a budding virgin" (p. 189) . The
illogical metaphor—for on what could the earth step,
if not on itself—recalls Pope's quotation from
Theobald: "None but Himself can be his Parallel,"
which contains a similar physical impossibility.39
The apparition unnerves winter to such a degree that
he flees "and the shields and armour in which he
stood encased rattle crashing pell-mell and shatter."
The inconsistent figures of speech conform to
Martinus' rules on metaphoric magnification,
amplification and coupling of opposites. The "florid
style" which heaps and mixes metaphors is also of the
38 Poetry and Prose of Alexander Pope, pp. 410-
20; p. 423.
39 Poetry and Prose of Alexander Pope, p. 412;
p. 402, from Theobald's "Double Falsehood."

240
type Peri Bathous recommends as particularly
poetical: "The trees twine their branches in fragrant
garlands and proffer them to the sky; the eagle
ascends prayerfully into the sun's splendour as to
God, and the lark swirls after him, exulting over the
adorned earth. Every fragrant calix becomes a bridal
chamber" (p. 189). When Bonaventura parodies poetic
effusion, few cliches are missing.
In a passage especially close to the techniques
of the "Dithyramb," Martinus commends an author who
has "amplified a Passage in the 104th Psalm: "He
looks on the Earth, and it trembles. He touches the
Hills, and they smoke."
The Hills forget they're fix'd, and in their
Fright
Cast off their Weight, and ease themselves for
flight;
The Woods, with Terror wing'd, out-fly the Wind.
And leave the heavy, panting Hills behind.
As Martinus points out officiously; "You here
see the Hills not only trembling, but shaking off
their Woods from their Backs, to run faster: After
this you are presented with a Foot Race of Mountains
and Woods, where the Woods distance the Mountains,
that like corpulent pursy Fellows, come puffing and
panting a vast way behind them."40 The sprightly
steps of the earth in the "Dithyramb" recall this
40
Poetry and Prose of Alexander Pope, p. 406.

241
passage, and the Insane World Creator alludes to the
same verse from the 104th Psalm when he looks on the
world-ball in his hand and speaks of the earthquakes
which are occasioned there by his casual contact (p.
153). In the Nightwatches the earthquake of Lisbon in
1755 is recalled in this seemingly playful aside.
Not much that is celebrated in poetry escapes
Pope's attention, from the sublime manifestations of
God to "The Inanity, or Nothingness" with which some
moderns easily fill "every second Verse."41 Here
Pope equates "nothing" with the irrelevant,
insignificant and trivial, which is the dominant
meaning of the word in eighteenth-century usage.
Among other parallels is a passage in Chapter IX
where Pope pays attention to "Imitation, and the
manner of Imitating." As an illustration, he cites a
verse in which Virgil describes the Etna together
with a modern evocation of the same location, which
Martinus infinitely prefers. The eruption is likened
to vomit, and Martinus declares in admiration:
"Horace, in search of the Sublime. struck his Head
against the Stars; but Empedocles. to fathom the
Profound, threw himself into Aetna: And who but would
41
Poetry and Prose of Alexander Pope, pp. 418-19.

242
imagine our excellent Modern had also been there,
from this Description?"42
James Sutherland sees the satirist as focussing
on one particular issue while ignoring the complexity
of life, as drawing his strength from drastic
simplifications.43 For the writer of menippeas the
puzzles and unresolvable paradoxes of life are,
however, the organizing principle of his genre.
Bonaventura masters all these intricacies, and the
brevity of his expression is the result of
comprehensive knowledge, persistent thought and a
thorough familiarity with the art of rhetoric.
It was the dearth of these qualities which the
Scriblerus Club deplored. Pope's Dunciad. first
published anonymously in 1728, was a direct outcome
of their reflections on general intellectual lethargy
and its consequences. A revised and enlarged copy
was printed in 1743. The Dunciad has a universal
theme: the impediment and defeat of common sense by
irrational forces, and the adverse impact of mental
inactivity on human progress—fears which are
allegorized in "the restoration of the reign of Chaos
and Night, by the ministry of Dulness their
42 Poetry and Prose of Alexander Pope, p. 408.
43 James Sutherland, English Satire (Cambridge:
University Press, 1958), p. 18.

243
daughter.”44 The theme, though universal, is
elaborated with so much topicality and so many
references and allusions which presuppose thorough
familiarity with Pope's literary contemporaries, that
the work did not achieve popularity in Germany.
There it was regarded rather as a precept of how to
finish off adversaries with invective, and the
imitations which resulted were mainly feeble and "led
to no valuable creative work." Price sees Pope in
Germany mainly as an intermediary of the views of
Shaftesbury, and as the inspiration behind a vogue
for clarity and simplicity in expression that was of
short duration. 45
Lichtenberg, however, understood the objectives
of the Dunciad. for he used it as a metonym for the
narrow-minded shallowness and professional
incompetence which is epitomized by Martinus
Scriblerus and his associates. For example, he says
of Vossens "ill-advised and childish innovations"
that they belong to the theater or a Dunciad.46 He
tried to popularize Pope by various means and to
counteract the misunderstanding and even ridicule
44 Poetry and Prose of Alexander Pope, pp. 304-305.
45 Price, English Literature in Germany, pp. 40-
41; pp. 71-72.
46 Promies, Vol. Ill, p. 299.

244
with which the English poet had met. It was Pope's
"Life" that he chose as the first of Johnson's Lives
of the English Poets for his Gottinqische Magazin.47
The article ends with the unfulfilled promise to
discuss Pope's literary merit in the next number.
Lichtenberg's empathy with Pope, whose physical
disabilites he shared, may have induced him to
substitute his own year of birth, 1742, for the year
in which Pope died. The Royal Society registered him
as being born in 1744,48 and he alluded to his
idiosyncratic relocation of the date of his birth to
1744 in F 1217. The cryptic sentence contains a
reference to metemphsychosis, and mentions his
curious tendency to think of himself "probably" as
two years younger than his real age.49 Strangely,
both men died in their fifty-sixth year.
The personal world which Lichtenberg kept hidden
behind his often tantalizingly short allusions still
remains private. Of his public objectives, however, a
close second to his didactic purpose to advance and
47 Lichtenberg, Vermischte Schriften (1844),
Vol. V, pp. 34-35, see n. with a poem from Voss or
his friends, in which Pope's misshapen figure is
ridiculed; pp. 70 ff.
48 Personal information from the Librarian of
the Royal Society, Mr. N. H. Robinson.
49 See also Wolfgang Promies, Georg Christoph
Lichtenberg in Selbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten
(Reinbeck bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1964), p. 7.

245
promote knowledge and understanding was his fight
against incompetence. In this he shared targets,
goals and satirical weapons with the members of the
Scriblerus Club, and took especially the Dunciad as
his model. Correlations to this poem can also be
traced in the Niohtwatches where they culminate in
the Ninth Nightwatch.

CHAPTER VII
THE NINTH NIGHTWATCH:
A DIGRESSION ON MADNESS, A DUNCIAD, AND A SATIRE
ON THE SOCRATIC DIALOGUE.
After guiding reader expectation towards the
Tragedy: Man. and following directly the "Exit
Prologus" (p. 143), the Ninth Nightwatch leads into a
surprisingly different world, and thus presents
challenges to interpretation, the more so as the
Clown's introduction ends by raising high hopes for a
significant seguel:
I have now more or less heralded myself and in
any case can now allow the tragedy itself to
appear with its three unities: of time—to which
I shall hold strictly, so that man does not
perhaps stray into eternity; of place—which is
going to remain fixed in space; and of action—
which I shall limit as much as possible, so that
man, that Oedipus, progress only as far as
blindness, but not in a second plot to
transfiguration, (pp. 141 and 143)
The emphasis on literary rules in this passage
recalls that Oedipus. the tragedy by Sophocles,
served French classicists and their German followers
as a paradigm for plot construction and provided the
model of the three Aristotelian unities: time, place
246

247
and action.1 While showing his familiarity with the
neoclassical rules, Bonaventura announces firmly that
he will apply them in his own way, and take what
freedoms he finds appropriate. This authorial
statement is styled as a variation of the frequent
stage metaphors, and presents new aspects of
Kreuzgang's constant queries concerning the
interaction of life and death. By equating
theatrical time with human time, he implies belief in
eternity, and gives voice to his vision of life as
part of a larger and ongoing process.
In speaking of "Man, that Oedipus," he uses the
name metonymically as synedoche for human fate in
general.
Oedipus, it
will be
remembered,
was
determined
to find the
truth.
Distinguished
by
exceptional sagacity and wisdom, he was yet neither
able to understand and handle his own fate, nor to
escape the disaster ordained for his house. When he
finally recognized his true situation, he tore out
his own eyes in despair, preferring blindness to
clear sight. Blindness inflicted by the inablility
or disinclination to bear reality is repeated several
1 E.g. Heinrich Wilhelm von Gerstenberg,
Vermischte Schriften. 3 vols. (1815-1816; rpt.
Frankfurt am Main: Athenaum, 1973), Vol. Ill,
p. 258.

248
times throughout the Niqhtwatches; Homer and Ugolino,
too, suffered this fate.
What Bonaventura has to say about the three
unities implies denial of a happy solution; but he
indicates that a second plot will lead to
transfiguration. The brief glimpse of better things
to come is, however, immediately counterbalanced by
the Clown's sombre talk of masks:
the more masks there are on top of the other,
all the more fun it is to pull them off one
after the other down to the penultimate
satirical one, the Hippocratic and the last
fixed one, which no longer laughs and cries—the
skull, hairless fore and aft, with which the
tragicomedian departs in the end (p. 143).
The appearance of the Clown as the speaker of
the Prologue has already served as warning that the
Tragedy: Man cannot be a conventional drama in the
grand manner. His parting words stress again the
serio-comic, mock heroic play that might be expected
to follow. But the sequel is the Ninth Nightwatch
with an account of the madhouse, and the last time
Kreuzgang fulfilled his duties as "vice or sub¬
overseer" there.
The unforeseen change in pace and content
unsettles, and Jeffrey Sammons feels therefore that
"it is worth saying that IX is unquestionably the
weakest chapter in the book. The satirical
possibilities of describing a set of twenty inmates

249
of a madhouse are limitless, but Bonaventura's
ordinarily rich imagination is simply not up to it."
Sammons also states that "if the continued
accusations of the critics that Bonaventura is
careless and lacks the will to artistic perfection
have any validity," this chapter furnishes the
proof.2
"Abrupt transitions and shifts, ups and downs,
rises and falls, unexpected comings together of
distant and disunited things, mesalliances of all
sorts" are, however, the mark of the menippea, a
genre which according to Bakhtin "is full of sharp
contrasts and oxymoronic combinations."3 This
literary tradition is followed by Bonaventura, as
shown, for example, by Kreuzgang's oxymoronic
questions at the end of the chapter: "perhaps error
might even be truth, folly wisdom, death life—
exactly the opposite of how one at present takes it!"
(p. 157).
The beginning of the Ninth Nightwatch is also
oxymoronic. Kreuzgang confides that "among the many
thorns of my life I did find at least one rose in
full flower ... in the madhouse." A variation of
the Clown's digression on masks follows, this time
2 Jeffrey L. Sammons, p. 46.
3 Bakhtin, Problemss, p. 118.

250
using an onion-simile to explain that layer upon
layer has to be stripped off before the essence can
be recognized:
Humanity is organized exactly in the manner of
an onion; layer by layer, one is inserted into
the other down to the smallest one, in which man
himself fits quite tinily (p. 143).
Progressing from a masked head to humanity, the
thought is repeated a third time and now projected
into universal and transcendental proportions, as
Kreuzgang continues: "So humanity builds into the
great temple of heaven . . . smaller temples . . .
and into these still smaller chapels and
tabernacles." The great world-religion—a concept
taken from Spinoza—is parceled into ever narrower
divisions; we get "religions for Jews, Heathens,
Turks and Christians; indeed, the latter are not even
satisfied with this, but are boxing themselves in yet
anew." Likewise is the world as such organized, this
"general insane asylum out of whose windows so many
heads are looking, some partially, some totally
crazed; even in here there are yet smaller madhouses
built in for particular fools" (p. 143) . These
variations on the same theme, using metaphors from
masks to madhouses, assure thematical continuation
from the Eighth to the Ninth Nightwatch, and
highlight the allegorical and universal relevance of
the digression on madness which follows.

251
In her investigation of the structure of the
Niqhtwatches. Dorothea Sólle-Nipperdey acknowledges
the madhouse scenes as a change of perspective, and
the preoccupation with masks reveals to her the
Einschachtelung. boxes within boxes, as an organizing
principle.4 Bonaventura conforms to this reading by
using the word schachteln. to fit as into boxes. In
A Tale of a Tub. Swift proposes:
not to digress farther in the midst of a
digression, as I have known some authors enclose
digressions in one another like a nest of
boxes.5
As Germans were not as familiar as the English
with these oriental artifacts, Bonaventura translates
the simile into the plant world. His use of the
common and unromantic onion6 for that purpose has
baffled some readers. The onion was, however, as
Lichtenberg records in F 416, already sacred to the
Egyptians, and as early as 1769 he himself had seen
in it an emblem of man, his nerves resembling the
4 Dorothea Sólle-Nipperdey, Untersuchungen zur
Struktur der Nachtwachen von Bonaventura (Gottingen:
Vandenhoek & Ruprecht, 1959). Palaestra.
Untersuchungen der deutschen und Englishen Philologie
und Literaturgeschichte, Vol. 230.
5 Gullivers Travels et al.. "A Digression in
the Modern Kind," (Tale of a Tub. Section V), p. 346.
6 The German word Zwiebel is ambiguous, and can
mean onion or plant-bulb. Adelung notes also the verb
zwiebeln with its double meaning: a) to tease, vex
and bring to tears, (still in use) and b) to cleanse
and restore pictures by rubbing them with onion juice.

252
roots, and the body in both cases serving for their
support. Visible is only the pot "in which Man (the
nerves) has been planted" B 35. The pot corrresponds
to the masks and layers of artificiality which hide
true nature from view.
Kreuzgang's sustained metaphor of boxes within
boxes finishes with a vision of the world in which
the partitions between sanity and insanity become
blurred and life in the madhouse is shown to be but a
subdivision of "the general insane asylum" without.
This view is already taken by Swift's mouthpiece, the
Hack, in the Tale of a Tub. In the "Digression on
Madness" he voices the opinion that there is no very
signigicant difference between life within and
without Bedlam, and for this reason he proposes "a
bill to appoint commissioners to inspect into Bedlam
and the parts adjacent" to recruit "admirable
instruments for the several offices in a state,*****,
civil, and military." The dots stand for
"ecclesiastical".7
Just after this proposal, and before a
description of the lunatics who would be so perfectly
fitted for high public office, the Hack assures the
reader that his solicitude is occasioned by "that
high esteem I have ever borne that honourable
7
Gulliver's Travels et al.. p. 374.

253
society, whereof I had sometime the happiness to be
an unworthy member." Poised between a discussion of
the ruling classes and the inmates of Bedlam, the
remark could refer to either and thus confuses the
demarcation lines between the two groups even
further, especially as he continues:
Is any student tearing his straw in piece-meal,
swearing and blaspheming, biting his grate,
foaming at the mouth and emptying his pisspot in
the spectator's faces? Let the right
worshipful, the commissioners of inspection,
give him a regiment of dragoons, and send him
into Flanders among the rest.8
Swift starts conventionally enough with a
description of expected Bedlam behaviour, which
people at his time flocked to watch for diversion.
Then with one of his sudden changes of strategy, he
draws the connection with a type of behaviour to
which society takes no exception, especially if it
occurs far away from home. Affinities between the
sane and the insane then are demonstrated in
politics, trade, law, medicine and religion—in fact,
all the important public services, the traditional
targets of satire. Whether the Hack is raving mad
himself, or on the contrary sees the human condition
more clearly than others, is obscured by his
indistinct position within the Tale. Clarification
of this question is left to the reader.
8
Gulliver's Travels et al.. p. 375.

254
Swift's satire mirrors the eighteenth-century
fascination with madness, of which Hogarth left a
moving visual record in his Plate VIII of the Rake's
Progress. Lichtenberg calls the scene "a sepultura
inter vivos, more properly a burial among the civic
dead,” and he says of the dying Rake, in words which
echo Swift and foreshadow Bonaventura: "In the
Microcosmos where he lives now, affairs are ordered
very much as they are in the extended Macro-Bedlam,
the world itself; not all the madmen are chained, and
even the chains have their degrees.”9
Lichtenberg visited Bedlam himself during his
second stay in London, and the very few remarks he
made about this event testify to the lasting
impression it made on him. In his London diary he
records the haunting memory of a woman staring out of
a garret window, as he left the distressing scene.10
Such heads looking out of the windows of the insane
asylum have become a metaphor for the vacuity of life
in the Niahtwatches (p. 143).
Lichtenberg's familiarity with English affairs
is shown in the commentary to Plate VIII by a passing
9 Ed. Herdan and Herdan, Lichtenberg's
Commentaries. "A Rake's Progress," PI. VIII, p. 264,
pp. 263-64.
10 Ed. Gumbert, Lichtenberg in England. Vol. I,
p. 195.

255
reference just by surname to a once popular prophet,
a Richard Brothers (1757-1824) from Newfoundland, who
announced the millenium and was confined to Bedlam
for his pains--a fate repeated in Kreuzgang's
experience.
Hogarth opens the view into the crowded corridor
of the madhouse. Three cells, numbered as in the
Nightwatches. are visible in the background; one of
them is closed and Lichtenberg speculates that this
may be arranged so that everybody can people it with
those desperate cases that exhibit the symptoms
closest to their own nightmares. For Lichtenberg
there is no doubt that the invisible inhabitant
suffers from the madness of love. In the Ninth
Nightwatch this particular affliction is likewise
shielded from public view: "No. 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16
are variations on the same street ballad, love,"
declares Kreuzgang, and proceeds without further
explanations to the next cell where No. 17 is
absorbed with his own nose and serves as a paradigm
for "entire faculties" (p. 155).
Repetition, one of Bonaventura's highlighting
devices, is used to indicate the intensity of
suffering which love is causing. Silence on the
subject is another affirmation of the havoc wrought
by love, if the three times repeated reference to the

256
veil cast over the deepest grief by the Athenian
painter Timanthes is taken as indication. Further
evidence of the importance of love as a cause of
human madness is the introduction of the chapter as
well as its conclusion. Both speak of love with the
metaphor "Maytime in the madhouse" (p. 143 and 157),
but significantly, love itself does not belong in
this chapter and merits "another nightpiece." While
madness through love reveals the misuse of the
emotional sensibilities, the delusions arising from
philosophy, science and poetry imply the aberrations
of the intellect. As a German, Bonaventura had to
couch his satire in private terms, as in the case of
No. 5, who "held talks which were too reasonable and
understandable, therefore they have sent him here."
The case is a variation of Kreuzgang's own
experience. Seen in conjunction with the opinion
that "in a state full of nothing but thieves, honesty
alone would have to be punished with the rope" (p.
129) the short and seemingly mild comment
constitutes, in fact, a devastating attack on public
affairs. No. 6, who "became deranged through the
derangement of taking seriously a potentate's joke"
(p. 147), epitomizes the misery caused by the
hypocrisy, lies and deceit in public life against

257
which men like the Scriblerians, Fielding, Johnson
and Sterne fought so relentlessly.
The descriptions of the diseased minds are often
so short and the allusions so complex that it is
difficult to see always clearly what Bonaventura
really had in mind. No. 7 has been "venturing too
high in poetry" and No. 8 "pushed the emotion in his
comedies too extravagantly in his days of reason."
Consequently, they both have been taken for poets.11
As one of them "now imagines he burns as flame, just
as the latter by contrast flows off as water," they
represent, however, a number of controversies,
including the opposing systems and theories which
sprung up during the eighteenth century regarding the
origin of the earth, and whether water or fire was
the first principle. The exact details matter
little. As Kreuzgang sides with Lichtenberg and
regards all systems as faulty, the passions they
rouse and the strife they cause appears inevitably
sterile and unproductive in his view. Swift's
examination of "the great introducers of new schemes
in philosophy ... in the academy of modern Bedlam,"
is written in the same spirit.12
11 Sólle-Nipperdey, p. 65.
12 Gulliver's Travels et al.. pp. 368-69.

258
Altogether the Ninth Nightwatch uses the same
surrealistic methods which Swift handles so
masterfully in his Tale of a Tub, most of all in his
"Digression on Madness." Disturbing thoughts are
presented in an atmosphere confused by doubts, and
then illuminated by satiric glimpses of tragedy and
comedy, and by flashes of truth which constantly
highlight new aspects and thereby add as much to
confusion as to understanding. All this is part of
the menippean plan. As the genre maximises reader
involvement, it leaves loose ends everywhere,
especially in place of a conclusion.
When Swift declares of "unmasking" that it
"has never been allowed fair usage, either in the
world or the play-house," he uses menippean stage
imagery in his search for the truth. The illusory
world of the theatre is, however, left far behind,
when he talks about reality behind pretenses:
Last week I saw a woman flayed, and you will
hardly believe how much it altered her person
for the worse. Yesterday I ordered the carcass
of a beau to be stripped in my presence, when
we were all amazed to find so many unsuspected
faults under one suit of clothes.13
Nowhere does Bonaventura go as far as that, but
he follows Swift in other details. One of the madmen
described by the Hack is "gravely taking the
13
Gullivers Travels et al.. pp. 372-73.

259
dimension of his kennel, a person of foresight and
insight, though kept quite in the dark; for why, like
Moses, ecce cornuta erat eius facies."14 To this
corresponds in the Nightwatches No. 10, he who "barks
as a dog and formerly served at court" (p. 155).
Kreuzgang speaks at the end of his digression on
madnesss of "a highest idealisation of the Centaur
nature in man, when the well-satisfied animal below
allows the higher rider to strut about audaciously"
(p. 157). In the title plate to Young's satire, "The
Centaur not Fabulous," to which Fleig has related the
passage, this mythological creature tramples the two
tablets with the Ten Commandments under foot. To
retain this combination Kreuzgang continues:
But on closer examination I found everything
vain and recognized in all this lauded wisdom
nothing other than the cover which is hung over
the Mosaic countenance of life so that it not
see God. (p. 157)15
In the frontispiece, the Mosaic tablets are
metonymic for the morals and decency which mankind
arrogantly disregards. Swift's interest in the
biblical reference is occasioned by the double
meaning of cornutus. which can be translated as
horned or shining, and fits his design well in either
14 Gulliver's Travels et al.. p. 375.
15 "I found everything vain," is the recurrent
theme of Eccl.

260
sense. While Swift quotes Ex. XXXIV, 35, where Moses
face glows from the encounter with God, Kreuzgang's
allusion is less clear. Fleig notes that
Bonaventura's metaphor is closer to Ex. XXXIII, 19-23
than to Ex. XXXIV, 35, but that the quotation is not
used correctly, and seems to have been
misunderstood.16 Indeed, in Exodus Moses veils
himself when he is speaking with the children of
Israel, and "when he went in before the Lord to speak
with him, he took the veil off," (Ex. XXXIV, 33-34).
The image of the veiled Moses is only implied in
Ex. XXXIII, 20, where God says to him: "Thou canst
not see my face, for there shall no man see me and
live." This verdict seems incompatible with Ex.
XXXIII, 34, but it confirms Bonaventura's metonymic
use of blindness for the inability of man to see his
true position in relation to the universe, and it
parallels the allegorical use of Moses' veil by St.
Paul, and Jacob Bohrne in his Mvsterium Magnum.17
16 Fleig, Literarischer Vampirismus. p. 234-35.
Fleig adds, that when Klingemann uses Ex. XXXIII,
19-23 metaphorically in 1828 he does so correctly.
17 2. Cor. Ill, 13-18, where the veil of Moses
represents the blindness and ignorance of the
unconverted, but: "nevertheless, when it all shall
turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away."
Theosophia Revelata. Vol. XVII, Mvsterium Magnum, cum
Epitome. Erklárung über das erste Buch Mosis, nebst
dem kurzen Extract. Chapt. XI, "Von der Heimlichkeit
der Schópfung," summary p. 66.

261
Where Swift's penetrating wit reveals through
verbal ambiguities that the ludicrous and the sublime
can cohabit in the same expression, Bonaventura
superimposes references and allusions from diverse
sources to fuse a wealth of meaning into short
phrases and even single words. The structure and the
general themes of his text are built upon the same
principles. Thus, besides parallels to Swift's Tale,
others to Pope's Dunciad run also strongly through
the Ninth Nightwatch. Book the Fourth of the Dunciad
starts by setting a mood akin to that of the
Niqhtwatches;
Yet, yet a moment, one dim ray of light
Indulge, dread Chaos, and eternal Night!
Of darkness visible so much be lent,
As half to show, half veil, the deep intent.
As in the Dunciad. Chaos and Night are often
evoked in the Niqhtwatches. According to ancient
belief, reiterated in Paradise Lost, they rule that
part of the universe in which God has not yet
established his order. The oxymoron "darkness
visible" is used by Milton as a description of hell,
and most of Pope's readers would recognize the quote
without prompting. Before Pope draws his Fourth Book
to an end, he shows
Skulking Truth to her old cavern fled,
Mountains of casusistry heaped o'er her head!
(641-42)

262
In the Ninth Nightwatch, Kreuzgang/s "own little
fool's chamber," the final room that is shown, and
the only one into which the reader is admitted,
corresponds to this cavern-retreat. In the terms of
the Dunciad, Kreuzgang represents the opposition to
the Daughter of Chaos, Queen Dulness, who establishes
her rule at the end of Pope's satire:
Lo! thy dread empire, CHAOS! is restored;
Light dies before thy uncreating word:
Thy hand, great anarch! lets the curtain fall;
And universal darkness buries all (653-66).
With Kreuzgang cast in the role of Truth.
epitomizing the triumphant dunces falls to his
opponent Dr. Oehlmann. It is clear that he is an
important part of Bonaventura's design, for he is
singled out by bearing the only proper name in the
text apart from the nightwatchman himself. Moreover
the importance of this name is stressed by its
alternative appearance in a common and a Latinized
form.
Latinizing their names was an accepted practice
among German scholars, whose language of discourse
was Latin until well into the seventeenth century.
The works of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716)
were still written in that tongue, and even Christian
Thomasius (1655-1728), a progressive philosopher at
the university of Halle, and the first German

263
university professor to lecture in the vernacular,
used the Latin version of his name.
In eighteenth-century satiric usage, however,
latinizing a name is emblematic for self-
aggrandizement and vainglorious obfuscation, as
demonstrated by Martinus Scriblerus, the satiric
mouthpiece of the Scriblerus Club, who represents the
misuses of intelligence and knowledge.
Oehlmann/Olearius is similarly characterisized by his
name. His dedication to self-interest conforms to
the command of Pope's Dulness to her children:
My sons! be proud, be selfish, and be dull.
Guard my prerogative, assert my throne (582-83).
In the microcosm of the asylum he also corresponds to
the "Tyrant supreme" who
shall three estates command,
And MAKE ONE MIGHTY DUNCIAD OF THE LAND!
(603-04)
He has learned "but to trifle," (457) and
personifies the main characteristic of those who
abuse the gift of intellect because they "See all in
self, and but for self be born" (480) . He is also
an empty head that consoles "with empty sound," (542)
hears "the voice of fame" (543) rather than that of
duty, and tranquilizes himself and others with "the
balm of Dulness" (543).
The names Oehlmann and Olearius are both still
in use, though not common. Various parallels have

264
been suggested; Gillepsie points to Goethe's lawyer
Olerairus in Gótz von Berlichingen.18 "Sanitátsrat
Ohlhafen" in Jean Paul's Siebenkás has also been
proposed as a possible connection. As Ohlhafen—oil
pot—refers to the unctions and potions freely
dispensed by quacks, the combination with the
distinguished title "Sanitátsrat" is therefore
designed to cast doubts on the doctor's competence.
Lichtenberg appreciated Jean Paul's techniques.
He enjoyed and eagerly read his works, including
Siebenkás. as far as they appeared during his life
time (e.g. L 87). The name, therefore, could well be
inspired by Jean Paul. The antagonist who would fit
the personality of Dr. Ohlmann in Lichtenberg's
perspective is the Swiss Dr. Johann Georg von
Zimmermann (1728-95), a court physician in Hanover.
He had been knighted by the emperor, and had
ingratiated himself at many courts, including that of
Frederick the Great, whom he attended at his death.
He was among the very few—Johann Heinrich Voss
was another—whom Lichtenberg ever attacked by
name.19 The controversy started when Zimmermann
convinced Lavater that his Phvsiognomische Fragmente
18 Gillespie, p. 251.
19 Mautner, Lichtenberg. Geschichte seines
Geistes, "Bildnis seines Geistes," p. 35.

265
should be printed. While Lichtenberg became in time
convinced that Lavater really meant well and acted in
good faith, he always saw Zimmermann as one who
neither cared for truth nor science, and would use
any opportunity to further his own advantage.
Lichtenberg7s initial objections to Lavater's
unscientific theories had been answered by Zimmermann
in an article published in the Deutschen Merkur by
challenging Lichtenberg publicly to submit his own
silhouette for analysis. This thinly veiled allusion
to his severe physical deformity failed to sting
Lichtenberg to a response, but it aggravated his
aversion to a man who resorted to such tactics in a
dialogue concerned with scientific and general
truth.20
Besides attacking Zimmermann in publications,
and latinizing his official title privately to
Hofmedicus (e.g. F 744, F 928, F 992), Lichtenberg
denounced him as a pretentious writer, (e.g. F 985)
and referred to him as Don Pomposo.21 He also
sketched out various plans for satires against him;
in all of them Zimmermann appears as vainglorious and
empty headed. This role is expressed in the name he
20 Mautner, Lichtenberg. Geschichte seines
Geistes, p. 175.
21 Promies, Yol. IV, p. 738.

266
is given in some of these satiric fragments, Don
Zebra, an ass distinguished among the common herd by
his striped and ostentatious coat.
In J 616 Lichtenberg speaks of "Don Zebra's
versteinerte Prose," using the word "petrified" which
occurs so freguently in the Nightwatches; like
Bonaventura he uses it as metonym for lack of sense
and animation. In J 667 an epitaph is suggested for
Zimmermann: "Grand philosophe, grand Médecin et grand
fou." Close to this is J 664, which describes a
relationship which parallels that between Kreuzgang
and Olearius: "He despises me, because he does not
know me, and I despise his accusations, because I
know myself."
Whoever has stood model to Olearius, he is
presented as an archetypal hypocrite and anti-Faust,
the intellectual who uses his gifts and opportunities
exclusively for personal advancement, and cares only
for the prestige of office and nothing for the
responsibilities. He has no interest whatsoever in
the welfare of those entrusted to his care, and thus
represents all the types against whom the
Scriblerians directed their satiric wit, including
statesmen and politicians. Bonaventura's attack on
this Scriblerian target is conducted in a micro-

267
Dunciad for which he has chosen the form of a mock
Socratic-dialogue.
Swift refers to this tradition when he
parodically reduces the Socratic afflatus to inflatus
in his Tale.22 Kreuzgang also alludes to Plato's
theory on madness, when he speaks in the Second
Nightwatch of his own "superpoetic hours," and
recommends his "nightwatchman's horn as a genuine
antipoeticum.11 As so often, he ends his general
discourses with satiric critique of the moderns in
the manner of Swift, for he continues, "This remedy
is cheap and of the greatest importance as well,
since people in the present day follow Plato in
considering poetry to be a rage, with the sole
difference that he derived this rage from heaven and
not from the booby hatch" (p. 37).
In the Seventh Nightwatch Kreuzgang combines a
clever satire on law with further ridicule of
contemporary writers, when he argues that
"inspiration is to be equated with drunkenness," but
that it "absolves from punishment if the drunken
person has not put himself in to this condition
culpóse, which obviously is not to be assumed in the
case of an inspired man, since inspiration is a gift
22
Gulliver's Travels et al.. p. 361.

268
of the gods" (p. 123). It is this defense which lands
him in the madhouse.23
There, Kreuzgang closely watches his fellow
sufferers and familiarizes himself with their case
histories, but none of them respond to his presence.
The Socratic dialogue requires a partner eager for
instruction and keen to learn the truth. While
Socrates meets such companions, Kreuzgang is not so
lucky. All he encounters is indifference. Cells
represent the total withdrawal of each individual;
everyone is committed to his own fixation, and there
is not a spark of the interaction through which the
Socratic method takes effect. Kreuzgang's lively
discourse elicits no response from anybody. It turns
into a lonely monologue to which Olearius only reacts
by occasionally shaking his head.
Like the cases under his care, this physician
has no interest in anyone but himself. He is
dedicated to the smooth running of his institution,
but not to the welfare of those entrusted to him.
The lack of communication and cooperation, and the
tragic isolation of man is demonstrated in this
23 Cf. Eccl. IX, 16-18, starting" Wisdom is
better than strength: nevertheless the poor man's
wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard."

269
Bedlam-microcosm by the grotesque charade of the
offical medical round.
Only the Insane World Creator, one of the cases
whom Kreuzgang introduces to the ineffective
physician, speaks at length. His attitude, however,
admits of no discussion. He is case No. 9, a further
recall of Swift's chapter on madness. His monologue
deals with the important problems which agitate
Kreuzgang, but it provides a reversed perspective on
them: the view of an outsider watching the antics of
man from a detached distance. Before No. 9 goes into
any details he declares: "things have got more and
more crazily confused on the globe, and I don't know
whether I should laugh or be vexed over it" (p. 149).
Bonavntura confirms thereby the serio-comic duality
of his whole satire, even at the beginning of a
speech which allows very little scope for humor and
complacency, for it puts "ultimate philosophical
positions ... to the test." It is thus central to
the whole text, for "the menippea is a genre of
'ultimate questions'."24
The World Creator develops two types of
philosophical positions: those pertaining to
religion, and those concerning natural science. The
inverted scale from which the enigmatic madman
24
Bakhtin, Problems. p. 115.

270
contemplates the world as through his "magnifying
glass" (p. 149) is brilliantly sustained by continued
use of diminutives—mainly translated by use of the
adjective little—and by a time scale in which
seconds stand for centuries. In this context, man's
achievements predictably pale into insignificance.
The boldness of the speech consists in ascribing to
God a large part of the blame for the failure. When
he declares, "This tiny speck, into which I blew a
living breath and called it man, does now and then
annoy me with his little spark of godhead which I
implanted in him in overhaste and over which he
became deranged," he reestablishes not only Plato's
connection between madness and divinity, but also
casts doubt on God's omnipotence and the absolute
perfection of his plans. The real identity of this
provocative speaker is carefully concealed by the
mad-house allegory.
To reconcile the idea of a benevolent and
omniscient creator with the prevalence of misery and
suffering on earth is one of the problems to which
eighteenth-century religious philosophy devoted much
thought. Bonaventura's World Creator dismisses most
of the ingenious answers when he declares: "the speck
fancied itself to be god and constructed systems in
which it admired itself" (p. 151) . He does not

271
suggest any better solutions himself, for that is not
the aim of the menippea. The satirist merely sets
out to draw attention to problems, to disturb
/
complacency, and, if at all possible, to induce
thoughtful reactions. The "Monolog of the Insane
World Creator" is admirably suited to this purpose,
for it confirms that mankind's tragedy is to be
afflicted with "the premonition of god which it
carries about inside," and which "causes it to be
more and more profoundly confused, without in the
process ever reaching a clear decision" (p. 149).
Though this verdict is taken as final, hope is
not entirely destroyed. By affirming the value of
"the gay flower world, with the children who play
among them" (p. 149), youth and innocence are left as
reason to believe that the exhausting cycle of
rebirth and renewed folly may yet be broken. What
Bonaventura casts in doubt is not God's creative
power, but his continuing interest in a particular,
and rather insignificant star, a thought which has
already troubled the psalmist:
When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy
fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast
ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of
him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
Ps. VIII, 3-4.
The same short psalm also praises the regenerative
potential of children to which Bonaventura alludes

272
repeatedly: "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings
hast thou ordained strength" (Ps. VIII, 2).
The first part of No. 9's monologue recognizes
man's unquenchable thirst for knowledge as a
consequence of the divine spark implanted in him. It
also acknowledges the narrow restrictions under which
this divine gift can be exercised, by a brief
allusion to puppets. After declaring: "I should have
left the doll uncarved!" (p. 151), the Creator
mentions various possibilities of dealing with the
problem, and in passing shakes the Argument of
Desire, on which the enlightenment placed its hopes
for salvation.
After the metaphysical proof of God and
immortality—that the soul is different in nature and
consistency from the body, and therefore of necessity
imperishable--was undermined by Locke and
demonstrated as untenable by his successors, the
moral argument was introduced instead. Johnson
resorts to it in his Rasselas: "Since the common
events of the present life happen alike to the good
and bad, it follows from the justice of the Supreme
Being, that there must be another state of existence,
in which a just retribution shall be made, and every
man shall be happy and miserable according to his

273
works."26 This argument was considerably weakened by
Shaftsbury, with his emphsis on the completeness of
the secular moral system, and by Hume's rejection of
a possible separation of good and evil, for he argued
that Heaven and Hell suppose two distinct species of
men, the good and the bad, but that the greatest part
of mankind "float betwixt vice and virtue."26
Johnson was much preoccupied with these
problems. So was Bonaventura, as demonstrated by the
twice repeated tale of the two brothers, in which the
traditional twin division of the good and the evil
side of the same personality is hopelessly intermixed
and confused. When his World Creator speaks of man,
the mote who "does often dream so very pleasantly of
immortality and thinks, just because it dreams such a
thing, it must come true" (p. 151) , he mentions in
one breath the comforting eighteenth-century doctrine
and the counter-arguments and doubts about it.
The Argument of Desire "relies on "man's general
dissatisfaction with the world, whether that world
25 Samuel Johnson, The History of Rasselas
Prince of Abyssinia. 1759. Chapt. II. (Editions of
this work are numerous and chapters short, sometimes
less than a page. Only Chapter numbers are therefore
guoted).
26 Robert G. Walker. Eiqhteenth-Century
Arguments for Immortality and Johnson's 'Rasselas'.
ELS Monograph Series Nr. 9 (University of Victoria,
B.C., Canada, 1977), p. 25.

274
were just or unjust," and concludes from the general
and persistent human wish for infinitely more than
can be obtained in this life that there has to be a
point beyond life towards which such overpowering
yearning must be directed. "A moral God who would not
allow man to desire in vain" has still to be
presupposed, but the emphasis of this argument is now
entirely "on the hopes and fears of men, attributes
which might be verified empirically."27
Kreuzgang is possessed by the desire on which
this argument is based, and he is maddened by the
human inablitity to assert with purely rational means
the existence of "a moral God who would not allow man
to desire in vain." This is also the answer Kant
gave in his investigation of the potential and
limitations of the human mind, which he laid out in
his three Critiques. The final of these, the Kritik
der Urteilskraft (1790) is divided into a "Critigue
of Aesthetic Judgment" and a "Critigue of
Teleological Judgment," which takes away the comfort
of Aristotle's teleological expectation that a final,
but as yet unknown cause, will justify all seeming
injustice and confusion on earth. Like Bonaventura,
Kant does not reject this possibility out of hand.
He merely determines that it must remain a hypothesis
27
Walker, p. 26.

275
and cannot ever be proved by human means, for the
order which humanity tries to impose on nature and
history is only a reflection of its own need for
accountability, and no proof of realities in the
universe.
When the monologue is brought to a halt,
Kreuzgang emphazises its importance by the
Scriblerian method of condemnation. "What an
infamous insanity that is," he interjects. "If a
rational man came out with the like, people would
surely confiscate it" (p. 151).
The seemingly spontaneous interposition explains
why doctrinal
doubts had to
be
uttered
by one
who
enj oyed
the
traditional freedom of
fools,
and
explains
why
satirists of
all
ages
needed
this
archetype. The voice of insanity serves also the
purpose for which Swift uses his Hack: it deprives
the reader of clear instructions for interpretation
and allows undecided conclusions. This is even more
apparent in the second part of the "World Creator's"
monologue, which deals with the implications of the
newly emerging natural sciences on the view man has
to take of himself and his role in the universe.
Lichtenberg was officially professor of
experimental physics, and the physicists and their
new systems are first to be considered by the madman,

276
while he is toying with a child's ball in his hand,
reminiscent of Lichtenberg's vision in his dream of a
scientist.28 This brief and intensely poignant story
raises the topical doubt of whether man is far¬
sighted enough to interfere in nature without
destroying what he seeks to order and investigate,
and Lichtenberg includes himself in the satire by
taking over the role of the well-meaning, but
fumbling scientist, much as Kreuzgang takes upon
himself the part of the dedicated but disoriented
philosopher. Interpretation of the dream is
facilitated by the description of the old man whose
benevolent serenity, and the deference which it
induces in the beholder, leave no doubt about his
divinity.
In Bedlam no such help is given, for the
intention of the menippea is to stir up doubts, not
to calm them. The only clues are contained in the
monologue itself, and in the toying with the ball,
which shakes the earth and affords—as the Creator
well knows—"a broad field for the teleologists" (pp.
151 and 153).
Geology was also one of Lichtenberg's subjects,
but the earthquake of Lisbon 1754 was an epochal
event for the whole of Europe, because it showed the
28 Promies, Vol. Ill, pp. 108-11, "Ein Traum."

277
flaws in religious complacency as well as in the
enlightened reliance on progressive improvement of
the human condition. The monologue refers to this
landmark in the history of European thought, but
refrains from taking active part in the controversy
by cautiously interjecting the gualifying "perhaps,"
when the Creator speaks of the confusion which is
aroused on earth "whenever I perhaps play ball and
thereby a few dozen countries and cities collapse and
a number of the ants are smashed" (p. 153).
The wish "to be as gods, knowing good and evil"
(Gen. Ill, 5) is exposed in all its presumption at
the end of the monologue when the Creator exclaims:
"By the devil! It is almost vexatious to be God, when
such people carp at you!—I'd like to squash the
whole ball!" . . . (p. 151). While the remark, and
indeed the whole monologue, stresses God's power to
put an end to man's endeavors at any time, it does
not belittle these efforts, nor ridicule science in
the manner of Swift. As was the case with
Lichtenberg, Bonaventura does not doubt the validity
of the natural sciences, only man's ability to deal
with them in a responsible manner.
Just when the seriousness of No. 9's incoherent
discourse becomes apparent and oppressive, Kreuzgang
cuts in with a reminder that the scene of action is

278
after all a madhouse, and the speaker is only a fool.
He does not, however, administer this sedative
without acknowledging the enigmatic speaker as a
Titan, and a thinker whose world view resembles that
of Fichte (p. 153), the philosopher whose thoughts
Lichtenberg studied at the close of his life, as
shown by the final notes in his last waste book, and
by his last letter.29
None of these highly relevant issues elicit the
slightest interest from Dr. Olearius, who shakes his
head but refuses to get involved. Only at the very
end of the chapter does he prescribe for Kreuzgang
"much exercise and little or no thinking at all,
because he was of the opinion that my delusion had
come about through extravagant intellectual feasting,
just as in the case of others indigestion arises
through too copious physical enjoyment" (p. 157) .
Mental and physical intake, and the process of
digestion belong to the satiric metaphors of the
menippea since Petronius' "Feast of Trimalchio" , the
longest and best known episode of his Satyricon.
Appropriately the real theme of this "Feast" is taste
and tastelessness.
Significantly for the number of chapters in the
Niqhtwatches. only fragments of the fifteenth and
29
Promies, Vol. IV, p. 1011.

279
sixteenth book of the Satvricon have survived.
Lichtenberg owned them in German, English and Latin
versions (Nos. 146-48). Swift in particular made
good use of Petronius' eating imagery. His
definition of digressions as "late refinements in
knowledge, running parallel to those of diet in our
nation," and his repeated references to "olios"
exploit also the derivation of satire from satura, a
Roman dish, a type of cold salad in which a mixture
of ingredients were combined, and made more palatable
by plentiful addition of oil and vinegar.
Before Swift elaborates this satura metaphor in
his "Digression in Praise of Digressions," he uses
the simile of "an Iliad in a nutshell to prove that
even famous works can be empty of content, and can
resemble "a nutshell in an Iliad.1,30 Kreuzgang
paraphrases the simile in the Ninth Nightwatch when
he speaks in connection with Schlegel about "a grand
Iliad, issued in sixteenmo" (p. 153).31
30 Gullivers Travels et al.. p. 356.
31 Schelling, long the leading candidate for
Bonaventura, married Schlegel's wife Caroline in
1803; hence the remark was interpreted as expressing
his resentment. Herrman Michel, who thinks that
Caroline Schlegel-Schelling also had a hand in the
writing, supports this view. Michel, pp. lxiii-lxiv.
Lichtenberg knew the brothers Schlegel well, see
Promies, Vol. II, p. 712. He was also well
acquainted with Caroline's family, for her father,
Johann David Michaelis (1717-1791), was professor of
philosophy and oriental languages in Gottingen.

280
Literary critique, including the mentioning
of particular names to epitomize general failings and
abuses, is an organizing principle of Pope's Dunciad,
as well as of Bonaventura who likewise castigates
general shortcomings through examples from literature
and from the world of writers. Like the Dunciad and
all Scriblerian satires, Bonaventura combines
"extraordinary philosophical universalism and a
capacity to contemplate the world on the broadest
possible scale," with "moral-psychological
experimentation," and a special "concern with current
and topical issues."32 For the author of the
Nightwatches. unlike the Scriblerians, scientific
progress is an integral part of this comprehensive
pattern. His Ninth Nightwatch ends very much like
the Dunciad, with the representative of Queen Dulness
in firm control, exulting in his own ignorance and
lack of imagination. But Bonaventura introduces a
positive twist, for Olearius only thinks he has the
last word. Unperceived, Kreuzgang establishes his
own superiority, and demonstrates his contempt by the
remark: "I let him go."
By ending inconclusively, the chapter defies the
attempts of Dulness to establish absolute rule.
Kreuzgang rescues from the encounter an unrepentant
32
Bakhtin, Problems. pp. 115-18.

281
attitude and unshaken belief in Kant's precept that,
while teleology cannot be proved, it has to be
retained as the only feasible working hypothesis.
There is no other way than to labor in the limited
light of the divine spark which drives man towards
goals he may sense, but not see.
This interpretation agrees with Kreuzgang's
reference to the bust of Socrates and to
"Scaramouch's folly." Scaramouch is a sub-species of
the fool from the commedia dell' arte, less popular
than Harlequin, whose attire the centaur in Young's
title plate is wearing. Justus Moser in his Harlekin
Oder Verteidigung des Grotesk-Komischen recommends
the use of exaggerated and even grotesque situations
to draw attention to abuses which are so common that
they are no longer noticed, and are complacently
accepted. Of Scaramouche he notes as main
characteristic the honest joy with which he laughs
behind the back of those who have hit and misused him
because he has outwitted them by wearing the fool's
dress of Harlequin, and his persecutors do not know
who he really is.33 Lichtenberg found this passage
so relevant that he copied it verbatim (KA 237) .
Moser's characterization confirms Scaramouche as the
perfect comic complement to the tragic Socrates, and
33
Moser, Samtliche Werke. Vol. 2, p. 328.

282
reveals the two names as synonyms for heroic and
mock-heroic, tragic and comic defiance of the rule of
ignorance. Kreuzgang spurns officialdom and the
ruling opinions with the assertion: "It is my idée
fixe that I consider myself more rational than the
reason deduced in systems and wiser than professional
wisdom" (p. 157).
Mirrored in the micro-cosmos of the lunatic
asylum, the Ninth Nightwatch--Bonaventura's
digression on madness—represents the tragedy of man
as the self-centered misapplication of the divine
gift of reason. Using the grotesque exaggeration
recommended by Moser as the organizing principle of
the chapter, Bonaventura draws attention to the
devastating, and at the same time ludicrous
misappropriation of the divine spark that has been
entrusted to mankind. Kreuzgang's refusal to accept
Oehlmann's cure indicates an alternative to the
triumph of Dulness, for it indicates congruence with
Bohme's mystic belief, that suffering willingly borne
must lead to redemption. A further mental attitude
which can transcend the realm of Dulness is love,
which for this reason needs a different chapter.
Kreuzgang concludes therefore by "saving another
nightpiece for . . . Maytime in the madhouse."

CHAPTER VIII
HENRY FIELDING (1707-54)
SATIRIC DOUBLE VISION AND EMBLEMATIC NARRATIVE.
The Augustan satiric tradition was continued by
Fielding, who acknowledged his debt to Scriblerian
technigues by repeated use of the pseudonym
"Scriblerus Secundus."1 Like the Augustans he took
as his models the best of the classic writers from
whom, like the Scriblerians, he learned a superior
and fluent command of rhetoric. While master of all
rhetorical technigues, Fielding placed particular
emphasis on that part of the Aristotelian tradition
which insists that every case has at least two sides,
and hence should be considered under dual aspects.
This doubling developed new dimensions in
Fielding's writing. He evolved it not only into a
confrontation of good and evil persons, but carried
duality into his characters, most of whom exhibit
mixed motives and mingled natures in accordance with
the precepts of Shaftesbury and Hume. Fielding also
1 F. Homes Dudden, Henry Fielding, His Life.
Works, and Times. 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1952), p. 60, n. 9.
283

284
mixed genres, and freely combined elements from quite
different literary categories. In drama he therefore
preferred the double focus of tragi-comedy, and in
prose he fused elements of drama, romance, satire,
essay, and newspaper reporting.2 The satiric
orientation of this mixture is described in the
introduction to Tom Jones (I. i.). Called a "bill of
fare to the feast," it paraphrases the original
meaning of satire, which is satura, and plays on the
metaphors of food and digestion, inherent in the
satiric tradition. These images are not restricted
to this initial chapter, but freely used in many
different contexts.
The satiric spice with which Fielding binds his
many literary ingredients together is applied in the
spirit of Shaftsbury's idea of ridicule as test of
truth.3 Shaftesbury's maxim, much quoted during the
eighteenth century, is paraphrazed by Kreuzgang who
combines, as so often, insights from literature with
2 Brian McCrea, "Romances, Newspapers, and the
Style of Fielding's True History," Studies in English
Literature 1500-1900. 1981, Vol. Ill, pp. 471-480.
3 Anthony Ashley Cooper, Third Earl of
Shaftesbury. "A Letter Concerning Enthusiasm," (1708)
Section II. In Enlightened England. Rev. ed. Ed.
Wylie Sypher (1947; New York: W. W. Norton, 1962),
p. 201, "How comes it to pass, then, that we appear
such cowards in reasoning, and are so afraid of the
test of ridicule?"

285
impeccable scientific imagery when he declares in one
of his aphoristic comments:
A satire is like a touchstone, and every metal
that brushes against it leaves behind the token
of its worth or worthlessness, (p. 117)
How this test of irony is employed by Fielding, and
penetrates into his style and diction, is shown by
Glenn W. Hatfield, who investigated Fielding's use of
irony and recognized it as "a way of speaking truth
in a corrupt medium," namely a language in which
terms like honour, love and truth were commonly so
often used to denote the very opposite of what they
were originally intended to convey. Hatfield places
satire on medicine and law prominently into this
context, and states that "Fielding's ridicule of
medical and legal jargon, of ranting sermon oratory
and of other verbal sins he associates with the
professions is nearly always relevant to larger
social and ethical evils."4 This expanded vision is
shared by Kreuzgang, and is particularly noticeable
in his attack upon the professions in the address to
his "Beloved fellow citizens" in the Sixth Nightwatch
(pp. 101-07).5
4 Glenn W. Hatfield, Henry Fielding and the
Language of Irony (Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 1968), p. 6, p. 127.
5
Cf. Eccl. IX, 16-18.

286
Brian McCrea has found that Fielding's doubling,
through integration of styles, and thus of values,
extends even to "a balanced and conjunctive sentence
structure that is best described as symmetrical," and
that this syntactic twinning allows "persistent
linking of two types of value in a symmetrical
frame." Bonaventura is too concise to allow himself
the leisure of such balanced periods. He achieves
thematic and stylistic counterpoints by a staccato
technique in which episodes, ideas and sentences
rapidly follow each other, and frequently change
direction, but are bonded by satire, which unifies
incongruent ingredients. This method enables him to
present a concentrated and often paradoxical amalgam
of ideas, for Bonaventura, like Fielding, "certifies
serious comedy as a meaningful bridge for the gap
between divine and secular worlds."6
Fielding's elegant periods create the detachment
which is necessary for such a panoramic view of the
human condition; but his most important stylistic
device—the authorial voice—is so filled with
empathy for all the characters that Fielding's satire
looses the Swiftian sting and softens with feeling.
While Fielding's pervading aim is to expose hypocrisy
and unmask pretentiousness, he shows also a
6
McCrea, Romances, p. 477, p. 480, and p. 477.

287
willingness to bear with human shortcomings, as these
are an integral part of the dual nature of man.
Fielding's hallmark is therefore a "superb balance
between satire and sentiment,"7 and, corresponding
with this double focus, one of his major artistic
accomplishments is the ability to discuss serious
concerns in light and comic tones.8
Lichtenberg admired Fielding's "philosophy of
life," (F 1169) and owned his works in 12 vols. (No.
1643). His interest in the English author preceded,
however, this London edition of 1775. Entries from
Notebooks A to L show appreciation and understanding
of a writer of whom Lichtenberg said: ". . . his
foundling is certainly one of the best works ever
written. Had he known how to arouse just a little
more empathy for Sophia, and had he been at times
somewhat more concise in his authorial remarks,
perhaps no other work would surpass it" (F 1074).9
7 Brian McCrea, Henry Fielding and the Politics
of Mid-Eighteenth-Centurv England (Athens: University
of Georgia Press, 1981), p. 167.
8 J. Paul Hunter, Occasional Form: Henrv
Fielding and the Chains of Circumstance (Baltimore:
Johns Hopkins University Press), 1975, p. 104.
9 Lichtenberg showed, however, considerable
appreciation of Sophia by bestowing her name on
married women whom he wanted to honour especially.
See Promies IV, No. 490, p. 634, letter to Johann
Gottwert Müller, March 31, 1785. "Reccomend me to
your dear Sophie: I know now no better name for your
dear wife."

288
This entry is from August or September 1778; the
diary of 1771, which was written almost entirely in
English, has a remark for June 30th in that language
which also attests to Lichtenberg's special fondness
for Fielding:
I read the 3d volume of the foundling [sic] and
part of the 4tl1. I know no english [sic] book
of the belles lettres kind, which I should like
better to be the author of than Tom Jones, Mr.
Adams10 preferred the Spectator. Mr. Adams
knew Fieldings [sic] son at school, he tells me.
he was a good genius, and looked always dirty.11
A fortnight later, on July 14th, the diary relates,
also in English: "Lockt up in my room, finished
Joseph Andrews." It was not the first reading, for
Joseph Andrews figures already in A 99 and Parson
Adams in B 290. D 666 recalls a passage from the
Voyage to Lisbon. This entry bears the title "To be
cast in plaster or gold" and combines a number of
quotations, many of which are in English. Without
10 On his return from the first journey to
England, Lichtenberg escorted Charles Adams and his
brother Jacob from London to Gottingen, where both
remained under his special care until their return
home in July 1772. Ed. Joost, Briefwechsel. Vol. I,
No. 69, p. 127, letter to Joel Paul Kaltenhofer, July
18, 1772, also letters Nos. 70 and 71. Mr. Adams is
further mentioned in letter No. 545, which reveals
some of the non-academic problems Lichtenberg had to
face in his capacity as a tutor.
11 Promies, Vol. II, p. 606. Lichtenberg's
interest in Henry Fielding and his background
extended to his blind brother, Sir John Fielding,
whose activities he watched while in London during
1774-75, see also ed. Gumbert, Lichtenberg in
England. Vol. I, p. 90.

289
giving chapter and verse, it also includes a sentence
from the last pages of Joseph Andrews, a position
which bestows symbolic significance on the remark:
Undressing to Fanny was properly discovering,
not putting off ornaments (IV. xvi.).
Lichtenberg here touches upon a recurrent motive not
only in Joseph Andrews, but in Fielding's entire
oeuvre. Mark Spilka has drawn attention to The
Champion for January 24, 1740, where "Fielding . . .
cites Plato to the effect that men would love virtue
if they could see her naked." Spilka demonstrates
how states of undress and nakedness eguate in
Fielding's first novel with unmasking and revealing
the truth. Thus when Joseph is discovered naked on
the road in an episode which parallels, though
negatively, the biblical parable of the Good
Samaritan, Fielding tests the willingness of each of
the passengers in a passing stagecoach "to accept
Joseph as he is. for what he is—a defenseless human
being.1,12
Bonaventura likewise uses nakedness in this
Platonic sense, when he reveals as the only treasure
in a strangely discovered chest the "stark naked"
12 Mark Spilka, "Comic Resolution in Fielding's
'Joseph Andrews'," (from College English. XV, Oct.
1953, pp. 11-19) repr. Henry Fielding und der
englische Roman des 18.Jahrhunderts. Ed. Wo1fgang
Iser (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft,
1972), pp. 93-94.

290
little Kreuzgang (p. 65). The German term
mutternackt recalls the discovery of Joseph Andrews
in a ditch after a robbery, "sitting upright, as
naked as ever he was born" (I. xii.), and emphazises
the symbolism of the event. Its emblematic nature is
further underlined by the parents with whom Kreuzgang
is united at the end of the work, just like Joseph
and Tom also find their true parents only at the end
of their histories.
In the "Second Woodcut" (p. 61) Kreuzgang refers
with modesty to his original state as "sans all
moveable property," ohne alie fahrende Habe. a legal
term meaning without any possessions. His state is
therefore emblematic for uncorrupted human potential,
just as it is envisaged by Dr. Harrison, the
enlightened paragon in Fielding's last novel Amelia;
The nature of man is far from being in
itself evil; it abounds with benevolence,
charity, and pity, coveting praise and honour,
and shunning shame and disgrace. Bad education,
bad habits, and bad customs, debauch our nature,
and drive it headlong as it were into vice. The
govenors of the world, and I am afraid the
priesthood, are answerable for the badness of
it. Instead of discouraging wickedness to the
utmost of their power, both are too apt to
connive at it (IX. v.).
Kreuzgang is discovered like Tom Jones in "the beauty
of innocence" (I. iii.), and their foundling status
sets both boys apart from social convention. In their

291
different ways they can, therefore, represent mankind
rather than a particular social strata.
The somewhat static personality of Tom Jones,
and of most other characters in Fielding, has been
discussed by many critics. In the Nightwatches.
instead of Fielding's contemporary plot, we are
confronted with abstracts parables, and reflections
on reflections; Kreuzgang is even more static and
does not change at all through his nocturnal
experiences.13 Following Bergson, Maynard Mack sees
such changeless personalities as the mark of the
comic writer, who "subordinates the presentation of
life as experience ... to the presentation of life
as spectacle."
Mack's description of comic techiques in
Fielding illuminates also Bonaventura's methods, for
Mack sees tragic action as self-discovery, and comic
action as self-exposure, with
"the emphasis ... on the permanence and
typicality of human experience, as projected in
persistent social species whose sufficient
destiny is simply to go on revealing themselves
to us. For this reason, the great comic
characters of literature whether Shakespeare's,
Fielding's, or Dickens' do not essentially
change. They are enveloped in events without
being involved by them, and remain immutable
like Fielding's lawyer, who has been 'alive
13 E.g. Paulsen, Nachtwachen. p. 175,
"Bonaventura does not want to know anything, for he
already knows everything."

292
these four thousand years' and seems good for as
many more."14
Such tentative affinities in themes, structure
and outlook abound between Fielding's work and the
Nightwatches. They show how closely related the
world of Bonaventura is to the eighteenth century and
to Fielding, who himself drew extensively on the
knowledge and epistemology of his age, and in turn
had his writings copied and diffused by innumerable
followers, especially in Germany.15 This is true
even, or rather particularity, where the Nightwatches
appear most steeped in romantic coloration, for
precisely those elements which are primarily regarded
as typical for the German romantic period correspond
most closely to important focal points of Fielding's
work.
14 Maynard Mack, "Joseph Andrews and Pamela."
(1948) repr. Fielding. A Collection of Critical
Essays. Ed. Ronald Paulson, Englewood Cliffs, N. J. :
Prentice-Hall, 1962, pp. 52-58, p. 58, p. 57.
15 E.g. Blanchard records that Amelia was
reprinted in Frankfurt in 1763, 1764, 1768; in
Leipzig in 1781, 1781-82, 1797. Frederic T.
Blanchard, Fielding the Novelist. A Study in
Historical Criticism (1926; New York: Russel &
Russel, 1966), p. 181. Price, English Literature in
Germany. p. 182. reports that of the at least 283
German novels published between 1774 and 1778, 50 or
more bore as chief or secondary title Geschichte des
. . . or Geschichte der . . . . in clear indication
of the influecne of Joseph Andres and Tom Jones on
German letters.

293
Echoes of Cervantes have been variously noted in
Bonaventura's text, and, as Tieck translated Don
Quixote at the turn of the century (1799-1803),
interest in Cervantes is often claimed as a
charcteristic of the German romantics. In England,
however, Cervantes was much quoted during the
enlightenment, most of all by Fielding, whose
admiration for the Spanish author and indebtedness to
him are facts to which he himself draws constant
attention. Fielding's early play, Don Quixote in
England, was rewritten and performed in 1734, and
passages referring to Cervantes occur frequently in
his works. Particularly well known are references in
Joseph Andrews. III. i., "Matter prefatory in praise
of biography," and in Tom Jones. XIII. i., "An
Invocation." Here Fielding apostrophizes "Genius" by
summming up the inspiration of tragi-comic satire:
Come, thou that hast inspired thy Aristophanes,
thy Lucian, thy Cervantes, thy Rableais, thy
Moliere, thy Shakespeare, thy Swift, thy
Marivaux, fill my pages with humour till
mankind learn the good nature to laugh only at
the follies of others, and the humility to
grieve at their own.
Lichtenberg shared Fielding's predilection for
these writers who left their imprint on Western
literature, and in particular on the menippea.16 How
16 Lichtenberg's familiarity with Pierre
Marivaux (1688-1763) is shown by an anecdote about
him recorded in J 232.

294
closely his artistic values coincided with Fielding's
is also shown by their joint admiration of Hogarth.17
Fielding, as Moore observes, "is defining his own art
in terms of that of the painter."18 With Lichtenberg
and Bonaventura such visual experience has become a
habit.
Esteem for Garrick, and veneration of
Shakespeare, to whom both found access through
Garrick's interpretations, is another bond between
Fielding and Lichtenberg. Fielding pays tribute to
Garrick's genius by decribing the same scene which
Lichtenberg chose as the focal point of his Letters
from England: Hamlet's confrontation with the ghost
of his father. This famous account of Garrick's
impact on an audience occurs in Tom Jones ( VI. v.),
where Tom visits a performance of Hamlet with his
companion Partridge who "was all attention." As
Partridge refuses to accept that Garrick is not
really seeing a ghost, and is not genuinely terrified
by the apparition, and as he contends that the actor
is no good because anybody would behave like him in a
17 Among many examples is Fielding's description
of Mrs. Partridge (Tom Jones. II, iii.): "Whether she
sat to my friend Hogarth or no, I will not determine,
but she exactly resembled the young woman who is
pouring out her mistress's tea in the third picture
of the Harlot's Progress." Lichtenberg refers to this
passage in his Commentary (Promies, Vol. Ill, p. 762).
18
Moore, p. 108.

295
similar situation, he offers the highest praise of
Garrick's art. The incident reveals the ideal which
the eighteenth century admired: to explore and get to
know man's nature, not individually, but generally.
Partridge is taken by Lichtenberg as just such a
type, when he speaks in F 1096 of "a Partridge or a
bad minister.”
Partridge's fear-ridden "imagination
possessed with the horror of an apparition, converted
every object he saw or felt into nothing but ghosts
and spectres" (VII. xiv.), and provides a foil to
Tom's bravery and common sense. Partridge also
affords Fielding the opportunity for enlightened
comment on the presumed existence of ghosts, which
caused much controversy during the eighteenth
century.19 Bonaventura's learned footnote,
referrring to an article of the subject, deprives his
own ghosts of all romantic terror and immediacy, and
banishes them to the realm of intellectual
speculation (p. 239).
19 Dr. Johnson's remarks sum up the position of
many enlightened intellectuals: "It is wonderful that
five thousand years have now elapsed since the
creation of the world, and still it is undecided
whether or not there has ever been an instance of the
spirit of any person appearing after death. All
argument is against it; but all belief is for it.'"
Boswell, p. 900. For German interest in the topic cf.
Friedrich Schiller, Per Geisterseher (1787-89).

296
Like ghosts, Shakespeare was also differently
experienced by the enlightenment and by the
romantics. The latter admired him as a genius who
created his own world and freely broke the neo¬
classic rules. For the former it was his unique gift
to "copy nature" and create so may characters, all of
them unmistakably individual and yet also clearly
recognizable as universal prototypes.20 This made
him a favorite of those eighteenth-century thinkers
who were committed to the Socratic command "Know
thyself." Like Bonaventura and Lichtenberg, Fielding
refers to him frequently in this sense, bestowing by
Shakespeare's testimony the seal of truth on his own
observations. The introspective Hamlet is for
Fielding, as for Lichtenberg and Bonaventura, the
favorite, but he also draws freely on Shakespeare's
other work. He describes the nocturnal appearance of
Tom in bandages streaked with blood "so that the
20 The orientation toward generality was also
one of Lichtenberg's dominant tendencies. Fielding
gives it perfect voice when he describes a sentinel
who fainted after having witnessed the appearance of
Tom Jones, looking worse than the "bloody Banquo" and
adds: "I whish with all my heart some of those actors
who are hereafter to represent a man frighted out of
his wits had seen him, that they might be taught to
copy nature instead of performing several antic
tricks and gestures for the entertainment and
applause of the galleries." (VII. xiv.)
Lichtenberg's literary criticism of writers who
imitate famous works without having observed reality
for themselves is here presented in the form of stage
metaphors.

297
bloody Banquo was not worthy to be compared to him"
(VII. xiv.). Bonaventura uses the same reference.21
Fielding's "Comparison between the world and the
stage," records and develops the long tradition of
stage metaphors, and expands and paraphrases the
speech by Jacques, the fool in As You Like It. (II.
vii.) which also compares "all the world" to a stage.
Fielding added many new facets to this imagery, and
translated also the philosophical and religious
dilemma of the dual nature of man into a theatre
idiom:
A single bad act no more constitutes a villain
in life than a single bad part on the stage.
The passions, like the managers of a playhouse,
often force men upon parts without consulting
their judgement, and sometimes without any
regard to their talents. Thus the man as well
as the player may condemn what he himself acts;
nay, it is common to see vice sit as awkwardly
on some men as the character of lago would on
the honest face of Mr. William Mills
(VIII. i.).
Don Juan's stupefaction at the end of the Othello
tragedy in the Fifth Nightwatch reflects this
character assessment precisely.
From the start of his digression on the world
and the stage, Fielding acknowledges his indebtedness
to tradition:
21 Don Juan is both attracted and scared by a
veiled woman "as if the riddle of his life were
hidden behind these veils, and ... he feared the
moment when they would fall as though a bloody ghost
of Banquo should rise from them" (p. 89).

298
The world hath been often compared to the
theatre, and many grave writers as well as the
poets have considered human life as a great
drama, resembling in almost every particular
those scenical representations which Thespis is
first reported to have invented and which have
been since received with so much approbation and
delight in all polite countries. (VII. i.)
Aristotle is then credited with calling the stage "an
imitation, of what really exists." Fielding
enumerates "reasons which have induced us to accept
this analogy between the world and the stage," among
them "the brevity of life." In support of his own
opinions, he quotes Shakespeare, and also part of "a
poem Deity, published about nine years previously and
long since buried in oblivion—proof that good books
no more than good men do always survive the bad."
World history is here called "the vast theatre of
time," and the deity is addressed as the stage
director. The spectacle ends with the total
dissolution of the world:
Then at Thy nod the phantoms pass away;
No traces left of all the busy scene,
But that remembrance says—
the things have been."
To this display of stage metaphors Fielding adds:
In all these, however, and in every other
similitude of life to the theatre, the
resemblance hath been always taken from the
stage only. None, as I remember, have at all
considered the audience at this great drama.
Fielding's chapter on "A comparison between the
world and the stage" is a key treatise on this

299
subject. Bonaventura studied it to good advantage
and turned its theories into practice. He adopted
the viewer perspective recommended by Fielding, and
used it repeatedly, as when he confides to the
reader: "I always step before an alien unusual human
life with the same feelings as before a curtain
behind which a Shakespearean drama is to be produced"
(p. 67).
The drama which he thus introduces concerns an
abortive suicide attempt; when "everything had
already been finished, right up to the falling of the
curtain . . . the man's arm, already lifted for the
fatal stroke, suddenly grew rigid" (p. 69) . At the
end of the episode Bonaventura sums up an incident
rich in tragic potential, Shakespearean allusions,
and theatre metaphors by directly addressing the
reader:
Take the matter from its lighter side; for it is
amusing and worth the effort to attend this
great tragicomedy, world history, as spectator
up to its last act, and you can give yourself
that quite unique pleasure finally, when at the
end of all things, as sole survivor, you stand
above the general deluge upon the last
projecting mountain peak to hiss the entire
production on your own hook, and then wild and
angry, a second Prometheus, hurl yourself into
the abyss." (p. 73)
As in the poem quoted by Fielding, the stage analogy
is retained consistently to the conclusion, but by
following Fielding's suggestions, Bonaventura imbues

300
it with urgency and dramatic desperation, and turns
the poem's tone of elegiac resignation into one of
disturbing defiance.
Stage metaphors are more to Fielding and
Bonaventura than mere stylistic embellishments. They
are an important distancing device which removes the
action from the confusion of everyday life, and
presents it already edited: abstracted, reflected and
restructured. On a stage, incidental detail has been
eliminated and the outcome is already pre-ordained.
Nothing can be changed and the action calls therefore
not for active intervention, only for intellectual
participation. Besides the menippea, the English
Rehearsal Plays also made ample use of theatre
emblems, and Fielding delighted and excelled in this
genre.
Hamlet. which Bonaventura uses as one of the
many frames within which he displays his ideas, was
already similarly employed by Fielding in his satiric
Tragedy of Tragedies or the Life and Death of Tom
Thumb the Great (1731). As J. P. Hunter has shown,
echoes of Shakespeare's tragedy permeate the whole
play. Their intended effect is not parody, rather a
reminder of the dramatic tradition at its best,
against which lesser writers can be set off and

301
satirized.22 For this reason satires, and especially
the manippea, need frequent referal to patterns of
perfection. Fielding, Lichtenberg and Bonaventura
are particularly inventive and versatile in
integrating literary highlights and insights into
their own work.
Hunter has also followed the overtones of
Fenelon's satiric prose epic Télémaoue23 in Tom
Jones. He found that the similarities extend to
structure as well as to themes and incidents. Both
works consist of 18 books divided into 3 equal parts,
and in each section the hero gets involved with an
"earthly" lady.24 In similar fashion Fielding also
uses Don Quixote. Le Sage's Gil Bias. Scarron's Roman
comiaue. Marivaux' Marianne and Le pavsan parvenu,
besides the classic examples of the Homeric
22 Hunter, p. 29.
23 Lichtenberg owned the work in a Spanish
edition of 1756 (No. 1678). His high appreciation of
Fenelon is expressed in L 211, where he suggests that
every king and regent should use his Directions pour
la conscience d'un Roi as a guidebook, and refers to
Herder's remarks about this treatise.
In L 186 Lichtenberg recommends that important
thinkers should reveal their methods of study and
preparation. He refers to Dr. Johnson as having also
recommended this as a routine that would benefit
humanity, and quotes him—in English—"such is the
labour of those who write for immortality." The note
closes with the question: "How, for instance, was
Telemach written?"
24 Hunter, pp. 133-35. See also Rita Terras for
Bonaventura's use of this technique.

302
Odvssev.26 Virgil's Aeneid is deliberately echoed in
the last and more sombre novel Amelia. as Fielding
himself points out in his The Covent Garden Journal
(Nr. 8, January 28, 1752). So is the Book of Job,
and biblical allusions and paraphrased parables are
frequent in all his novels.
Fielding, as Bonaventura after him, is not
imitating or quoting at random, but aims at an
consolidation of Western tradition to create what
Hunter calls a "telescopic, universal and epical"
panorama of life.26 This vision aims at an
integration of all possible aspects, and was also
favoured by Lichtenberg, who added a scientific
dimension to Fielding's combination of insights from
literature, philosophy and art. In the menippea,
however, the reader is expected to fuse these
components. Thus "juxtaposition of contrary points
of view" to expose "the conflict of comedy and
gravity" and to give "the illusion of independence
from the medium and agent of narration" is to Glenn
W. Hatfield a deliberate device with which Fielding
induces the reader to evaluate each situation for
himself, and to test his own ethic against the
25 Homer Goldberg deals particularly with these
affinities in his The Art of Joseph Andrews (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press), 1969.
26
Hunter, p. 216.

303
eventualities of life.27 The same technique is used
by Bonaventura, though in his concise and condensed
text the changes between sentiment and cynicism,
comedy and tragedy occur much more rapidly than in
the leisurely narration of Fielding.
The independent and clearly defined authorial
voice, one of Fielding's remarkable innovations, is
given ample scope in his novels, especially in Tom
Jones. where it takes over the introductory chapters
of each book altogether. In the Niqhtwatches a
corresponding voice becomes audible only in
Kreuzgang's occasional asides, which have, however,
the same function: to lead the reader into the frame
of mind with which the author wants him to approach
the text.28
Apart from the authorial interpolations on a
variety of topics, which are mainly presented in the
guise of literary and generic discussions, Fielding
also presents digressions of a different nature.
These, like his main narration, are centered on
parabolized human interest stories, like the rather
lengthy tale of "The Man on the Hill" in Tom Jones
(VIII. xi-xiv.). Bonaventura's digressions are
27 Hatfield, p. 203.
28 E.g. Wolfgang Iser "Die Leserrolle in
Fielding's 'Joseph Andrews" und 'Tom Jones'." Ed.
Iser, pp. 282-318.

304
short, and like his text, abstract and loose-jointed.
To draw the connections, fill in the background, and
supply the missing pieces is a task left to the
reader. Recurrent themes are the signposts which
help in this task.
Among Bonaventura's leitmotifs are masks and
unmasking, themes also predominant in Fielding from
his first comedy, Love in Several Masks (1728) and
his first published poem, The Masquerade (1728) to
his last novel Amelia, where a masquerade and its
consequences play a prominent part (X, ii-iv.).
Closely akin to stage metaphors, the mask has an
emblematic function. It is metonymic of dissembling
and hypocrisy, that sin against the spirit of truth
which Fielding persistently attacks as one of the
main causes for human disasters, small and domestic
as well as public and great.
Also stage-related is the marionette imagery for
which the Niohtwatches are particularly renowned.
This aspect is frequently assessed in conjunction
with romantic interest in puppet performances,
notably Kleist's essay "Ãœber das Marionettentheater"
(1810).29 Puppetry flourished, however, in England,
particularly during the eighteenth century. George
Speaight states that
29
E.g. Gillespie, Introduction, p. 19.

305
few periods of history can have been so
sympathetic to the puppets as the eighteenth
century, and never before could the puppets so
naturally hold up the mirror of ridicule to
their masters. Never before or since have
puppets played quite so effective and so well
publicized a part in fashionable society; never
before or since have puppet theatres so
successfully made themselves the talk of the
town.
Speaight lists Hogarth and Swift among the keen
observers of puppets, and notes that The Rehearsal at
Gotham (1754) by John Gay, the Scriblerian, adapts
the puppet-show incident from Don Quixote to English
conditions.30 The same episode is used and updated
by Fielding in Tom Jones (XII. v.). In Don Quixote
the audience takes passionate sides and becomes
seriously involved in the miniature world, though not
with quite such disastrous consequences as in the
Fifteenth Nightwatch.
Fielding uses the puppets to burlesque the world
of the theatre, which to him is but a metonym for the
world at large. Bonaventura turns the events in the
Fifteenth Nightwatch into a satire on the French
revolution, but he, too, universalizes his immediate
target into a repeat pattern of human folly. Like
Fielding, he achieves this double vision by
interjecting general remarks. Thus after reporting a
30 George Speaight, The History of the English
Puppet Theatre (London, 1955; New York: John de
Graff, n.d.), pp. 92, 177, and 173.

306
rousing address to his "Dear Countrymen" verbatim,
Kreuzgang remarks dryly, as to himself:
On the whole, whenever it happens not to be
suffering from idées fixes. mankind is an
honest, simple beast and easily accommodates
itself to absolute contraries; indeed, I believe
it capable, though today it has rent the light
bond which fettered it, of tomorrow letting
itself be cast in chains with the same
enthusiasm, (p. 227)
All three incidents focus on spectator reaction,
which is particularly spontaneous towards puppets,
whose secret Speaight sees in "their ability to
arouse the sympathetic imagination of their
audience."31
Both Fielding and Bonaventura also use puppet
imagery to demonstrate manipulation of people and
events, and to highlight the limitations of free
will, just as Kant has done at the very end of the
First Part of his Critique of Practical Reason.
There he argues that if human reason were ever
powerful enough to understand God and eternity with
its dreadful majesty, human actions would necessarily
be reduced to mere mechanical reactions, so that as
"in a marionette play, everybody would gesticulate
well, but the figures would lack life."32
31 Speaight, p. 269.
32 Immanuel Kant, Kritik der praktischen
Vernunft (1788; Stuttgart: Reclam, 1973), pp. 232-33.
Erster Teil, II. Buch, 2. Hauptstück, IX. Von der der
praktischen Bestimmung des Menschen weislich

307
Fielding uses puppet-metaphors similarly in
Jonathan Wild (1743, III. xi.), when he satirizes
Robert Walpole, the once all powerful minister:
To say the truth, a puppet-show will illustrate
our meaning better, where it is the master of
the show (the great man) who dances and moves
everything, whether it be the King of Muscovy
or whatever other potentate alias puppet which
we behold on the stage; but he himself keeps
wisely out of sight, for should he once appear,
the whole motion would be at an end.
After elaborating the simile somewhat further,
Fielding draws the connection to the world at large:
It would suppose thee, gentle reader, one of
very little knowledge in this world to imagine
thou hast never seen some of these puppet-shows
which are so freguently acted on the great
stage.
Jonathan Wild contains also a chapter "Of hats"
(II, vi.) in which hats are satirically substituted
for the political disguises people assume to gain
power. Fielding states his purpose right at the
beginning: "As these persons wore different
angemessenen Proportion seiner Erkenntnisvermogen.
The sentences following directly after the
marionette metaphor end and sum up the Kritik. They
are especially relevant to the interpretation of the
Niqhtwatches. Kant states here that to follow the
moral law within will not assure any worldly
advantages; but adhering to it allows man a view into
the world beyond, albeit only a dim and indistinct
one. All efforts of reason cannot achieve any
certainty only a "very dark and ambiguous view into
the future." The wisdom which created us cannot be
understood in human terms, but has to be venerated as
much in what it has revealed to human reason as in
what it is withholding.

308
principles. i.e. hats, frequent dissensions grew
among them." Bonaventura uses the conceit at the end
of the Ninth Nightwatch, where he ridicules three of
the most frequently attacked non-political targets in
eighteenth-century satire, the medical, legal and
religious professions. He identifies them with their
respective doctor's hats and proposes to wear them
all three like "a holy trinity," so he can reap in
one person the benefits which these professions
derive from the dead and dying (p. 155 and 157).
Even more than in his novels, Fielding applied
the puppet-mirror of ridicule when writing for the
stage. Several of his own plays were favorites with
the Puppet-showmen of his day, and in 1730 he had
even introduced Punch and Joan into his own "Puppet-
Show," The Pleasures of the Town, which comprised the
final act of the Author's Farce—though this satiric
little drama was designed for human performers, not
marionettes." The Author's Farce, presents in a
comic vein the problems of a poor poet, beleaguered
by worries and creditors. It satirizes the world of
the theatre and of writers, but uses literary
critique to hit at targets in the world at large,
especially in politics.
"In March 1748—at the height of his activities
as editor of The Jacobite's Journal and while he was

309
doubtless writing furiously to finish Tom Jones—
Fielding opened his own puppet theatre in Panton
Street under the name of 'Madame de la Nash'.11 as
Martin Battestin found out. Fielding, as Battestin
notes, "seems always to have delighted in the comedy
of Punch and Joan and to have considered them, quite
seriously, as a valid and vital, if minor, part of
the satiric tradition of the English theatre."33
Though Lichtenberg's notes on any one subject
are intermittent, and the full extent of his interest
in Fielding can only be surmised from fragmentary
comments, L 602 and 606, which refer to The
Historical Register for the Year 1736. show that he
was reading Fielding's plays even at the end of his
life, and that he studied their style and
expressions.34 The marionette play in The Author's
Farce follows human action. This sequence is reversed
in the Nightwatches. where the puppet interlude
33 Martin C. Battestin, "Fielding and 'Master
Punch' in Panton Street." Philological Quarterly.
XLV, I, January, 1966, pp. 191-208, p. 192, p. 198.
Punch corresponds to the German Hanswurst. the figure
banned from the stage by Gottsched in 1730 in his
Versuch einer critischen Dichtkunst vor die
Deutschen, where use of the monologue was also
vetoed. Gillespie translates Hanswurst in the
Nightwatches as "Clown."
34 Cf. L 602: "Fielding has actually written a
Preface to a Dedication. S. Vol. IV. p. 153."
L 606: "Under the rose (sub rosa) is also in
Fielding (Historical Register Works T. IV. p. 189)."

310
precedes the realistic presentation, thereby
accenuating the tracic, rather than the farcical
aspects of the events.
Bonaventura's twice repeated love triangle has
been taken as parody or burlesque of Schiller's Braut
von Messina which was written in 1801/02.35 Rivalry
between brothers for a bride was, however, long
before that date a favorite theme of the Sturm und
Drang, and Schiller himself had treated it already in
his first tragedy The Robbers (1779/80). The theme
of fraternal competition for the same girl may have
been suggested to him by Thomas Otway's The Orphan
(1680), in which the passion of twin brothers for the
same young woman leads to a triple death, for
Schiller's tragedies parallel other Otway plays. Don
Carlos (1787) accords thematically with Otway's Don
Carlos (1676), and the Revolt of Fiesco in Genua
(1782) with Otway's Venice Preserv'd (1682).
Thomas Otway, a prototype of the poor, starving
poet, whose frustrating life is vividly described by
35 See Schillemeit, p. 29. Paralells were first
noted by R. M. Meyer, "Nachtwachen von Bonaventura,"
Euphorion. Leipzig: Carl Fromme, 1903, Vol. 10,
London: Johnson Reprint, 1967, pp. 583 ff. H. Michel
expressed doubts that Bonaventura's aim should have
been mere persiflage. He notes: "As so often in the
Nightwatches. one feels that there must be more
beneath the surface than meets the eye," p. xxxiii.
See also Gillespie, Introduction p. 7, and n. 16, pp.
249-50.

311
Johnson, is mentioned several times by Fielding, who
may himself have taken the brotherly rivalry in Tom
Jones from The Orphan. especially as this particular
tragedy is twice mentioned in the novel.36 Though
the theme of the antagonistic brothers goes back to
Genesis, and was treated in depth by Milton in
Paradise Lost, the biblical story lacks the topos of
the contested bride. Price actually credits the
remarkable popularity of this tragic human interest
story during the Sturm and Drang to Fielding.37
While the hostile brothers were a favorite theme
in the German literature of the late eighteenth
century, Lichtenberg's interest in the double
extended much beyond individual case histories to
every aspect of life and human nature. He even
planned a satrical novel about Siamese twins. As it
was to be called Per doppelte Prinz 38 (J 1138, 1142,
36 In VIII. x., Partridge meets with an old
woman who "answered exactly to that picture drawn by
Otway in his Orphan.11 In XI. v. , another old woman
"resembled her whom Chamont mentions in the Orphan."
37 Price, English Literature in Germany, p. 192.
38 The title Per doppelte Prinz recalls Varro's
manippea Bimarcus, The Pouble Marcus, "also known in
English as 'The Pouble Varro' and 'Varro Split'."
Bakhtin gives a summary of this satire, p. 117 and
n. e. A "dialogue between the two Marcuses, that is
between a person and his conscience, is in Varro
presented comically." Varro's work helps to round
off the contours of Lichtenberg's much too short and
inconclusive satiric outline.

312
1144 ) it was presumably meant to carry political
overtones, which may explain why the idea was never
further developed. Lichtenberg's pursuit of polarity
extended to scientific considerations, (e.g. J 1512)
and to the ultimate guestions which are already
evoked in Hamlet's monologue. J 153 asks whether
perhaps body and soul, too, correspond to a dual
pattern, like man and wife, and so many other doubles
which God has distinguished by special favour.
Albert Schneider specifically comments on the
symbolic significance of Lichtenberg's view of
dualism, and he has shown that Lichtenberg's twin-
ideas were of considerable influence on the German
romantics, especially on E. T. A. Hoffmann, with whom
the Doppelganger in literature is usually
associated,39 though Lichtenberg's Double Prince and
Bonaventura's antithetical brothers, and nightly
alter egos considerably predate Hoffmann.
Lichtenberg, as Price reports, was sometimes
called the German Fielding.49 Fielding's biographer,
Wilbur L. Cross also recounts that
Lichtenberg, whose zeal for Fielding knew no
bounds, declared that he was 'the greatest
novelist in the world'; and not long before his
death designed a novel on the pattern of 'Tom
39 Schneider, "Le Double Prince," pp. 292-99.
40 Price, English Literature in Germany, p. 188,
see also Promies, Vol. IV, p. 731, No. 892.

313
Jones'. Though the work was never completed,
Lichtenberg was known, because of his trenchant
wit and vast knowledge of men displayed in his
miscellaneous writings, as 'The German
Fielding'." 41
Lichtenberg's opinion that most German writers
were deficient in wit as Sterne and Fielding
practised it, and that such wit was impossible
without thorough learning (Wissenschaft) is given in
F 263. This appreciative remark displays an
understanding of Fielding's scope and background
knowledge, and a penetration of English satiric
techniques, which was quite exceptional at the time.
Lichtenberg's own writing always aims at brevity,
and at the utmost concentration of meaning. He does
therefore not concern himself with descriptions or
reiteration of reality, but—whether in metaphors,
fables or short stories—presents parables and
reflected views. Bonaventura likewise omits
completely the "illusion of reality" which for
Hogarth and Fielding was a ruling principle.42
Instead, the tense text contains emblematic abstracts
of the ingredients which Fielding recommends in his
Preface to Joseph Andrews for the "comic epic poem in
prose": extended and comprehensive action, a large
41 Wilbur L. Cross, The History of Henry
Fielding. Vol. Ill (1918; New York: Russell &
Russell, 1963), p. 194.
42
Moore, p. 149.

314
circle of incidents, and a great variety of
characters. Only essential and timeless features
stand out against the dark backdrop of the sixteen
nights, and against the Solomonic judgement, which
Kant confirmed, that all earthly endeavour will
amount in the end to very little or nothing. As for
the meaning and meanings of "nothing," Fielding
approaches Shakespeare in imaginative exploration.
His "Essay on Nothing," playfully brings together
serious and lighthearted thoughts, starting with
considerations of "The Antiguity of the Word," and
the assertion:
There is nothing falser than the old proverb
which (like many other falsehoods) is in every
mouth: "Ex nihilo nihil fit." Thus translated
by Shakespeare, in Lear: "Nothing can come of
nothing." Whereas in fact from nothing proceeds
every thing.
The tone of the essay is mock serious; by
deliberately misinterpreting some expressions
Fielding forces the reader to realise that the word
is open to widely differing explications and glosses
over a multitude of ambiguities and paradoxes. He
pronounces as falsehood the general assumption "That
no one can have an idea of nothing." For his part
Fielding believes men grossly deceive themselves who
"confidently deny us the idea" of nothing or would
substitute "something" for it. "Many very wise men .
. . having spent their whole lives in the

315
contemplation and pursuit of nothing, have at last
gravely concluded—That there is nothing in this
world."4 3
Far from expressing nihilism or existentialist
despair, Fielding elaborates in Section III "On the
Dignity of
Nothing;
and an endeavour
to
prove that
it
is the end
as well
as Beginning of
all
Things."
He
proceeds
with irony and tongue
in
cheek,
and
demonstrates, for
instance, that
the
dignity
of
infamous
noblemen
consists in
"Nothing."
In
Fielding's serio-comic treatise solemn aspects are
also considered, especially the Christian view "that
the world is to have an end, i.e. to come to
nothing." Self-mockery, a hall-mark of Fielding's
satire, is operative in the final conclusion that
"true virtue, wisdom, learning, wit, and integrity
will most certainly bring their possessors--
nothing."44
The intellectual nightwatchman personifies this
truth, though the reader has to follow him almost to
the end of his self-revelation before he can fully
43 The Complete Works of Henry Fielding. Vol.
XIV, Miscellaneous Writings (Vol. I). Ed. W. E.
Henley (rpt. New York: Barns and Noble, 1967), "An
Essay on Nothing", pp. 309-319, pp. 310, 311,
and 312.
44 Fielding, Miscellaneous Writings (Vo. I).,
pp. 315 ff., 317, and 319.

316
appreciate the dismal failures of Kreuzgang's
blighted hopes to achieve "something." The
"nothing," which appears throughout the text of the
Nightwatches in Fieldingesgue variations, is thus a
satiric counterpoint to worldly aspirations and human
creativity, which are symbolized by Kreuzgang's
varied career.
Lichtenberg thought much about the ultimate
meaning of the concept "nothing." Using, like
Fielding, a syllogism, he noted early in 1773 in
English, and therefore obviously as a guote:
A leg of mutton is better than nothing
Nothing is better than heaven
Therefore a leg of mutton is better than heaven
(C 179).
With his usual analytical penetration he attributes
the wrong conclusion to the ambiguity of "nothing,"
and declares the word in the first line a sub-species
of that in the second. Efforts to define the word
recur throughout his writings. They are always
connected with the problems of existence, of which
present personal life is seen as only a fleeting
fragment. For instance, during one of his freguent
death wishes, Lichtenberg hoped:
If only the dividing line were already passed.
My God, how I long for the moment when time will
cease to be time for me and I will return into
the womb of the maternal all and nothing, where
I slept while the Hainberg was formed, while
Epicure, Caesar, Lucretius lived and wrote, and

317
Spinoza conceived the greatest thought ever to
spring from a human brain (J 293).
In L 195, where he attempts to distill the
principle of decent living from parallels in
philosophical, religious, humanistic and political
precepts, Lichtenberg also deals with the realization
"that everything is nothing.11 an insight which in his
view can only be understood properly when it has
resulted from the most intense mental effort. Among
those who meet this criterion is Kreuzgang, from
whose mind thoughts on the finality and vanity of
human life are never far removed.
In a passage where "madhouse" is equally
emblematic for the individual, the nation, the earth
or the universe, and the storm corresponds to any
physical or mental disturbance, Kreuzgang looks out
into a bleak cosmic void:
The storm raged wildly about the madhouse.- I
lay against the bars and looked into the night,
beyond which there was nothing further to be
seen in heaven and on earth. It was for me as
if I were standing close to the Nothing and
cried into it, but there was no more sound—I
was frightened, for I believed I had really
called, but I heard myself only in me.
(p. 213).45
45 Pierre-Simon de Laplace, with whose works
Lichtenberg as professor of astronomy was familiar
(No. 683) had already anticipated the conception of
the black hole, but as he could not verify it by
experiments, his thoughts were considered up to very
recently as suspect speculations and the relevant
passages were omitted from later editions.
Kreuzgang seems here to confront a similar

318
An arrowswift flash of lightning illuminates the
somber scene briefly, like the span of life set
against eternity, and after that Kreuzgang sees
himself alone "in the Nothing" (p. 213). Though
terrified, he is not overpowered by the reign of
darkness, and the integrity of individual life is
thus asserted even in the bleakest moments.
A dream seguence which follows provides negative
proof of Locke's theory about the external "great
source of most of the ideas we have." These,
according to Locke, depend wholly upon our senses.46
Deprived of vision, Kreuzgang finds himself in the
total dark completely dependent on his own inner
resources, and has to acknowledge them as guite
inadeguate in accordance with Locke's conclusion:
phenomenon. See also Ecc. XII, 3, "In the days when
the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the
strong men shall bow themselves, and those that look
out of the windows be darkened."
46 John Locke. An Essay Concerning Human
Understanding. (1690), Book II, Chapt. I, "Of Ideas
in General, and their Original," Sec. 3: "The Objects
of Sensation." This was not in Lichtenberg's library,
but he shows his familiarity with Locke's theories in
Book E and F, especially in connection with his work
with David Hartley's philosophy, whom Priestley
praised as having surpassed Locke (E 453). F 11
reviews a discussion in the Gottinigische Gelehrte
Zeitung (1776) in which Priestley is accused of
having misunderstood Locke. Lichtenberg deals with
the formation of concepts, and how far the soul can
reflect itself without external input. This is the
very question which Kreuzgang tries to fathom as he
stares out of the window.

319
if there be nothing but the strength of our
persuasions, whereby to judge of our
persuasions: if reason must not examine their
truth by something extrinsical to the
persuasions themselves, inspirations and
delusions, truth and falsehood, will have the
same measure, and will not be possible to be
distinguished.47
All Kreuzgang can do is to accept the maxim
which Locke has underlined in the same paragraph:
"Reason must be our last judge and guide in
everything. 11 Throughout his nightwatches,
Kreuzgang7s actions and reactions confirm this
guideline, which was already established by Socrates.
How far this human reason will stretch and whether it
can be trusted are Kreuzgang7s questions. He
pursues them with a fervent persistence that
transposes Fieldings7 realistic problems—how people
should coexist most harmoniously and rewardingly—to
an intense level of intellectual inquiry.
Locke's "Essay Concerning Human Understanding"
not only stimulated the English empiricists of the
eighteenth century and provided the basis for the
theories of Hartley and a challenge for Kant, it also
influenced the literature of the period, including
Fielding. A Lockean reference in one of his
authorial asides illuminates a stage metaphor:
Thus the hero is always introduced with a
flourish of drums and trumpets, in order to
47
Locke, IV, xix, Sec. 14.

320
rouse a martial spirit in the audience and to
accommodate their ears to bombast and fustian,
which Mr. Locke's blind man would not have
grossly ered in likening to the sound of a
trumpet.48
As the nearest approach to a mind unfurnished
with external objects, a person born blind could
serve to verify Locke's theories, and throughout the
enlightenment keen interest was therefore focused on
the reactions and behaviour of such unfortunates.49
Bonaventura's many allusions to blindness should be
interpreted as commentaries upon empirical philosophy
from Locke to Kant. Bonaventura frequently alludes
to Oedipus, which was quite common during the
enlightenment, and occurs also in Fielding, where,
for instance, "part of the Man of the Hill's tale is
Oedipus Rex in reverse."50
Counter-balancing the tragedy of blindness and
suffering in Lichtenberg and Bonaventura is
Harlequin, the clown from the commedia dell' arte who
plays a prominent part in Fielding's farces. These
48 Tom Jones. IV. i.
49 e.g. George Berkely, Essay towards a New
Theory of Vision (1709), esp. Sec. 41, and A Treatise
Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge (1710),
Sec. 43, ". . . a man born blind and afterwards made
to see, would not, at first sight think the things he
saw to be without his mind, or at any distance from him."
50 Andrew Wright, Henry Fielding Mask and Feast
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1965), p.
88 •

321
were too closely connected to topics of the moment to
arouse much interest abroad. Lichtenberg knew them,
however, and quoted them, as in his brief, allusive
note "The tragic Harlequin" [Per traqische Hanswurstl
(F 1177). The connection to Fielding and his Pasquín
is drawn by F 1165 which links the formulation
"Zimmermann der Grosse" expressively with Tom Thumb
the Great. and thus shows that Lichtenberg had
Fielding's satiric metaphors in mind at the time.
The line in Pasquín to which "der tragische
Hanswurst" refers is in the Prologue which promises
that Harlequin will "storm in tragic rage." This
unusual blend of farce and tragedy in a prologue is
repeated in the "Clown's Prologue to the
Tragedy:Man," which forms the actual and structural
center of the Nightwatches (p. 137) . Fielding's use
of the term Harlequin provides a link with the world
of the commedia dell'arte. This is emphazised in a
contemporary cartoon, now in the British museum,
where the cast of Pasquin appears in the traditional
costumes of this genre. In the Ticket for the
Author's Benefit similar figures are shown, a further
sign that Fielding's farce was interpreted as part of
the commedia dell'arte tradition.51
51 Complete Works of Henry Fielding. Vol. XI,
The Pasquin Cartoon, p. 164, Ticket to the Author's
Benefit, p. 192; p. 203.

322
Fielding's favorite structure for his farces was
the "Rehearsal Play," in which audience participation
is maximised, and the viewers are never allowed to
forget that what happens is only a stage production.
This Verfremdunoseffekt52 deprives the action of
immediacy and turns it from an appeal to the senses
into one to the intellect. In his introduction to
The Author's Farce. Charles B. Wood shows that this
"'emblematical' method (to borrow a term from the
critic Sneerwell in Pasguin) is likely to give
characters and plot an allegorical significance and
often does not pretend to represent surface
appearances of life as we know it. At times,
however, what may be called non-realistic elements
are juxtaposed or mingled with realistic elements in
such a way that a peculiar satiric effect is
gained."53
Kreuzgang uses similar Verfremdunaseffekte when
he draws the reader's attention to his own efforts
52 Brecht's expression is here used in agreement
with Patricia Meyer Spacks, "Some Reflections on
Satire," in ed. Ronald Paulson, Satire: Modern Essays
in Criticism (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall,
1971), p. 362. "The best account of satiric intent
has been supplied by a theorist who did not propose
to describe satiric effects at all. Bertold Brecht's
account of the purpose of his "epic theatre" is
suggestive about the purposes of the satire."
53 Henry Fielding, The Author's Farce. Ed.
Charles B. Woods. Regents Restoration Drama
(University of Nebraska Press, 1966), p. xvi.

323
and skills in being able to write in different styles
(p. 85). Fielding's authorial voice also delights in
these literary accomplishments. In Hatfield's
judgment
the intrusive commentary, the digressions, the
chats with hypothetical readers, the self-
conscious theoretical flourishes, and other
mannerisms are not just comic tricks at the
expense of the narrative tradition. They are
the "Art and Pains" reguired to set the author's
mind "at a Distance and make it its own Object."
They are a "Mirror for the Understanding" in
which the thinking mind that assumes
responsibility for the artifice and the rhetoric
as well as for the ethical norms of the
narrative is itself made an objective image, a
sharper and more compelling image, often, than
any of the characters of the fictional worlds
for which he is the agency because he is closer
to the reality which we ourselves inhabit.54
This description of Fielding's innovative
authorial techniques applies in like measure to the
nightwatchman. Similarly F. Homes Dudden describes
Fielding's narrator in ways directly applicable to
the Niqhtwatches. He assumes at will
the role of interpreter, commentator, and
critic. It was his habit to break off his
narrative at frequent intervals, that he might
come forward . . . and chat, as it were
familiarly and confidentially with his readers.
His communications were of various kinds.
Sometimes he would explain details in the
related history, . . . sometimes he would
comment on the characters and their actions;
sometimes he would expatiate on the theory of
his art, or on some problem of life and
conduct."55
54 Hatfield, p. 208.
55 Dudden, p. 1104.

324
Alter's summary of Fielding's art and artifice
also speaks equally for Bonaventura's literary
methods:
Fielding, like the best allusive poetry of
Dryden and Pope, invokes--in a sense,
recapitulates—a whole spectrum of European
civilization from Homer and Horace to the French
neoclassicists and the eighteenth-century
English essayists.56
When Price discusses the considerable influence
of Fielding on the German novel, he concludes that
German critics failed to appreciate the fundamental
difference between Richardson and Fielding, and that
"ready enough to imitate other authors, the Germans
have been unable to vie with Fielding."57 Bonaventura
may be regarded as an exception, for he understood
and employed Fielding's literary techniques, though
his menippea compresses the satiric critique of human
follies into allegory, where Fielding relies largely
on realistic and representational, and therefore much
more expansive, exemplification. Fielding works in
allegorical and moral dimensions, while Bonaventura
proceeds to anagogy, the highest level of literature,
56 Robert Alter, Fielding and the Nature of the
Novel (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press,
1968), p. 189. For Lichtenberg's interest in Dryden
see Bibliotheca Lichtenberaiana. No. 1642, an
unidentifiable edition of John Dryden, Alexander's
Feast.
57 Price, English Literature in Germany. Chapter
XIV, "Fielding and the Realistic Novel," p. 182.

325
which requires mystical and spiritual interpretation,
and thus in itself epitomizes the ultimate duality of
all human endeavour.
Paulson notes "a relentlessly humanizing
tendency in irony from Swift onwards and a move
towards character from the abstract idea."58 This
trend is strongly expressed in Fielding's approach to
satire, but it is reversed by Bonaventura and his
predilection for pure reason. At the same time
Bonaventura advances from Fielding's techniques to
those of Sterne, of whom Watt states
Sterne, like Fielding, was a scholar and a wit,
and he was equally anxious to have full freedom
to comment on the action of his novel or indeed
on anything else. But whereas Fielding had
gained this freedom only by impairing the
versimilitude of his narrative, Sterne was able
to achieve exactly the same ends without any
such sacrifice by the simple but ingenious
expedient of locating his reflections in the
mind of his hero—the most recondite allusion
could thus be laid at the door of the notorious
inconsequences of the process of the association
of ideas.59
This was also the stance adopted by Bonaventura, in
whose text Locke's and Hartley's association of
ideas, to which Lichtenberg was so committed, is
orchestrated with intellectual virtuosity.
58 Ronald Paulson, Fielding: a Collection of
Critical Essays (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice
Hall, 1971), Introduction, p. 6.
59 Ian Watt, The Rise of the Novel. Studies in
Defoe. Richardon and Fielding (Berkeley: University
of California Press, 1962), p. 293.

CHAPTER IX
LAURENCE STERNE (1713-68)
AND KREUZGANG'S LIFE AND OPINIONS.
When Lichtenberg placed Fielding higher than
Sterne in his comparison (F 1074) he had their
respective didactic purposes in mind, and he took
into consideration that Fielding's forgiveness of
human failings is always based on the merit of the
individual case, while Sterne's good natured humor
often evades real evil; his delight in the ludicrous
at times takes precedent over moral evaluation.
Lichtenberg, who followed the traces of his
literary heroes while in England, visited the grave
of Sterne.1 There he found neither the tombstone nor
the epitaph—both supplied by two freemasons from
their private means—adequate to honor the great
author. Admiration for his works had, however, not
blinded him to the shortcomings of Sterne the man.
Of these he must have heard from many who experienced
1 Promies, Vol. IV, p. 232. The visit is
mentioned in a letter to Dieterich dated March 15,
1775, as having taken place on the previous day, and
also in a letter to Professor Christian Gottlob
Heyne, which was started on March 6th, but written in
stages over a period of time.
326

327
them at first hand, for he frequented the same
circles in which the Prebendary from York had been
made welcome not all that many years previously.
In G 2 Lichtenberg warns his German compatriots
who were moved to tears by Sterne's exquisite
sentiments that Yorick, the authorial voice of the
Sentimental Journey, was not the same as Sterne, whom
he calls a
creeping parasite, a flatterer of the great, and
an insufferable leech to those with whom he
decided to dine. He arrived without being
invited for breakfast, and when his host went
out on a visit to get rid of him, he came along
unbidden, for he refused to imagine that he
could be unwelcome anywhere. On returning home
he came along again, and finally sat down to
dinner, monopolizing the conversation and
talking all the time about himself".
Thus G 2 insists on the importance "for the
understanding of Augustan [English eighteenth-
century] prose satire . . . that a distinction be
maintained between the author and his ironic
persona."2 This prerequisite is taken into account
in all of Lichtenberg's own satires and applies also
to Kreuzgang, who should not be regarded as a
straight projection of his author.
Lichtenberg hints in G 2 at many unworthy
intrigues which Sterne conducted, but to tell of
2 Melvyn New, Laurence Sterne as Satirist. A
Reading of Tristram Shandv (Gainesville:University of
Florida Press, 1969), p. 60.

328
them, he says, would earn him accusations of planting
nettles on the grave of him, who so lovingly removed
them from the grave of Lorenzo. Lichtenberg warns,
however, that Sterne would not have paused to take
the time for this pious service to the dead, had a
dinner invitation from a Duke awaited his attention,
or had pulling nettles from a grave not sounded so
particularly spiritual. In the same passage
Lichtenberg calls Sterne an unsurpassably pleasing
prattler and painter of feelings. The casual
reference to Lorenzo's grave shows how well known
Yoricks exploits had become in Germany.3
When Tristram Shandy took London by storm in
1760 there was little reaction in Germany, where the
situations and allusions were too alien to stir up
much interest. The many digressions were little
understood and further alienated readers. Sterne's
extraordinary popularity in Germany began only when
his Sentimental Journey appeared in 1768. It was
instantly and ably translated by J. J. Bode, who was
helped and inspired by Ebert, and also by Lessing,
who suggested "empfindsam" as an apt rendering of
3 Laurence Sterne. A Sentimental Journey. Vol.
I. "The Snuff-Box. Calais." Price, English Literature
in Germany, gives some instances of the impact this
incident had in Germany, where even "Lorenzo Dosen,"
little horn boxes, were manufactured.

329
"sentimental.”4 This translation appeared already in
1768, followed by a second edition and another
translation in the next year. Fortified by the
success and by Lessing, Bode later translated Tom
Jones in six volumes (1786-88), retaining most of the
original, while in most translations a great deal,
especially of the authorial voice, was cut out.5
The enthusiastic reception of the Sentimental
Journey encouraged Bode to translate Tristram Shandy
as well, and the list of his subscribers contained
the leading literary names in Germany, including
Goethe, Herder, Klopstock and Wieland.6
No copy of Tristram Shandy was in Lichtenberg's
library, but his references to names and situations
from the work in his notes and letters testifies to
his thorough familiarity with the Shandean world.7
He owned the Sentimental Journey in a London edition
of 1768, The Sermons of Mr. Yorick. London 1768, 4
vols., and Letters to his most intimate friends. A
Fragment in the Manner of Rablais. To which are added
prefix'd Memoirs of his Life and Family written by
4 Price, English Literature in Germany. Chapt.
XV, "Sterne and the Sentimental Novel," p. 193.
5 Cross, The History of Henry Fielding, p. 190.
6 Price, English Literature in Germany, p. 194.
7 E.g. Promies, Vol. IV, p. 340. Letter to Karl
Friedrich Hindenburg of August 24, 1778.

330
himself and published by his daughter, Mrs. Medalle.
London 1775, 3 vols. (Nos. 1670-72). An entry at the
beginning of Wastebook B testifies that Lichtenberg
had also read Yoricks Sentimental Journey in the
translation of Bode, and corrected by Lessing.8
Sterne's whimsical humour and goodnatured
tolerance of human failings became immensely
fashionable. Empfindsamkeit. his supposed brand of
sentimentality, turned into a password for a literary
epoch and, as Price puts it, "the 'Emfindsamen'
worshipped at Sterne's feet."9 It was against this
indiscriminate adoration that Lichtenberg directed
his complaint: "Sternean simplicity of manners, his
warm and feeling heart, his soul in sympathy with
everything noble and good, all the other cliches, and
the sigh alas poor Yorickl which says everything and
nothing, have now become catchwords with us” (G 2).
What he himself admired was Sterne the satirist,
whose knowledge of the human mind enabled him to
reveal character traits through the most trivial
incidents, and whose ability to connect quite
different matters was in line with Locke's theory of
associations.
8 Leitzmann, Vol. 123, p. 196.
9 Price, English Literature in Germany, p. 195.

331
The concepts which Locke had formulated had been
elaborated by David Hartley (1705-57) . While
Shaftesbury and his school considered human morality
as an innate quality, Hartley, in his Observations on
Man, his Fame, his Duty, and his Expectations (1749),
regards it as a trait that develops from association
of ideas. Not inborn goodness, but the ability to
combine thoughts and to look at events from differing
perspectives is therefore seen as the quality which
distinguishes man from the rest of creation, and at
the same time gives him the only opportunity which
exists on earth to transcend immediate reality.
Hartley's ideas were supported by his experience as
physician, and complemented with his theory of
vibrations.
Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) was so impressed by
these arguments that he reissued Hartley's work with
an introduction by himself, in which he stressed the
indebtedness to Locke and pointed out that "what we
call new thoughts are only new combinations of old
simple ideas or decompositions of complex ones." He
insisted that
simplicity in causes, and variety in effects,
which we discover in every other part of nature:
all our intellectual pleasures and pains, all
the phenomena of memory, imagination, volition,
reasoning, and every other mental affectation

332
and operation, are only different modes, or
cases of the association of ideas."10
Some have claimed that Sterne's mode of writing
satirizes, yet also illustrates this point of view to
perfection.
Lichtenberg's initial interest in Hartley was
stimulated by his friendship with Priestley,11 but he
was soon contemplating, discussing and disseminating
Hartley's ideas on his own, as he found them so
congenial. He had already praised "Yorick" in KA 272
for his gift of connecting distant things, and
Sterne's brilliance in allusions and associations was
a talent which in Lichtenberg's estimation amounted
to genius. When therefore some of Sterne's
posthumous notes were criticized as trivial,
Lichtenberg defended their value by pointing out that
their meaning depended on the context, and he
compared Sterne's collection of trifles to a
painter's careful preparation of his colours (L 186).
The analogy emphasizes Lichtenberg's conviction that
Sterne's seemingly intuitive and spontaneous whimsies
10 Hartley's Theory of the Human Mind,
pp. xxvi and xxiv.
11 Promies, Vol. IV, pp. 236 and 253, where
Priestley's introduction to Hartley's Theory of the
human mind is discussed. Priestley expects that the
individual will cease to exist after death. See also
E 453 for Priestley and Hartley.

333
were meticulously prepared and carefully planned.
That this procedure applied equally to Lichtenberg's
own working methods, was already recognized in 1886
by Richard M. Meyer, who sees in Lichtenberg the most
eager apostle of the English way of thinking in
Gottingen, and insists that his conception of
Sterne's true merits was clearer than that of most of
his contemporaries.12 The reason for this Meyer sees
in Lichtenberg's method of arriving at conclusions
not in a direct way, but circumspectly and by
induction, based on acute observation of facts,
especially of the sort which most other people regard
as insignificant.
Study of human trivia as key to the real
motivation and mechanism of the human mind was an
approach to character interpretation which
Lichtenberg shared with Sterne, or to phrase it in
more modern terms, both writers regarded the
unconscious or subconscious as the best indication of
truth. Like Sterne, Lichtenberg liked to look behind
the scenes, for he knew how easily appearances could
be arranged for effect, while the trivialities which
normally pass unnoticed reveal the true nature behind
the mask of affectation. Lichtenberg despaired about
Yorick's enthusiastic admirers because of their
12
Richard M. Meyer, pp. 75, 60, and 71.

334
indiscriminating imitations and their failure to
grasp Sterne's complexity. He censured their zeal—
which all too often degenerated into mere
absurdities—with metaphors similar to those which
characterize the unsuccessful poet in the
Niohtwatches. who hides his own insignificance under
the cast-off outer garments of the great and
demonstrates thereby that he aspires to their
eminence in appearance only, while ignoring
completely the challenge of their genius (pp. 179 and
181) .
As Lichtenberg was constantly warning against
writing from second hand experience, he admired
Sterne's intimate knowledge of human motivations, as
well as the intellectual dexterity with which he
could manipulate reader reactions (F 1107), and the
apparent ease with which he presented his ideas.
What others regarded as inspired whims, Lichtenberg
appreciated as the result of a painstaking process of
perfecting an idea, for he believed that Sterne must
have polished his witty remarks for weeks, before
they acquired the impromptu impact of a sudden flash
of lightning (F 750).
Note F 750 is especially illuminating in this
regard as Lichtenberg himself was a master of such
seemingly spontaneous wit, and he himself perfected

335
his proficiency by diligent study of other experts in
the field. How he analyzed their example and
profited by it is shown in C 47 where Sterne's
apostrophes are appraised as a deliberate technique
which adds zest to an argument. A suggestion is
added how Lichtenberg might himself use that approach
to advantage.
Lichtenberg's first satiric fragment, "Lorenz
Eschenheimers empfindsame Reise nach Laputa" already
shows a blending of Swift's manner with Sternean
traits. While his contemporaries in Germany were
inspired by Sterne's oddness, his delight in the
ridiculous, his goodnatured compliance with human
weakness and above all his erratic rambles, which
were all taken as a celebration of individuality and
an assertion of artistic freedom, Lichtenberg admired
Sterne's art for the purpose and structure which it
concealed, for its serious implications, and for the
virtuosity with which trivialities or sexual innuendo
were manipulated to serve the satiric intention.
Bonaventura has taken from Sterne much of what
Lichtenberg did. The method en Ziczac. already
praised in B 131, was chosen by Bonaventura as the
structural principle of his text; and as Jeffrey L.
Sammons has shown, the seeming incoherence of the
Nightwatches conceals the highly disciplined and

336
sophisticated planning which is also apparent behind
Sterne's digressive excursions. While Sterne and
Bonaventura both digress with great calculation, the
Niqhtwatches practice economy of means where Sterne
allows himself to become expansive.
Affinities between Tristram Shandy and the
Nightwatches have already been examined by Rosemarie
Hunter, who notes that "both novels have been
described as fictional biographies," and "both have
anti-heroes rather than heroes." Kreuzgang "tells
his life and opinions, with a heavy stress on the
opinions. There are digressions, insertions,
flashbacks. A wide panorama of man's foibles,
hypocrisy, and narrow-mindedness is painted with a
wealth of detail-interwoven with fragments of the
biographical story."13
Like Tristram Shandy, Kreuzgang is not revealing
his history within a linear time frame or in
consecutive narration. His narration is also
governed by Sterne's blissful disregard of
chronological order, for he, too, is not interested
in events, but in human reactions to them, though
these are predominantly emotional in Sterne and
intellectual for Kreuzgang.
13
Hunter, "Nachtwachen von Bonaventura," p. 220.

337
Both authors follow the serio-comic requirements
of the menippea and draw deliberate attention to
their genre by, among other devices, repeated mention
of tragi-comedies. Sterne accomplishes this in his
Sentimental Journey by the seemingly gratuitous
information that his hero attended the opera comique
in Paris. Importance is given to this signifier by
reiteration,14 a method which is repeatedly used in
the Nightwatches.
Insistence on genre and careful adherence to its
demands is a mark of the eighteenth-century writer.
Satire as a genre has to be inconclusive, -for its aim
is to withhold the answers in order to stimulate the
reader into working out solutions for himself. This
is not always recognized; loose ends—especially in
the menippea which can so closely resemble the novel
—are therefore often considered a weakness. Hence
Frye remarks: "An extraordinary number of great
satires are fragmentary, unfinished, or anonymous."15
Bonaventura parallels Sterne in other ways. His
use of the Clown to speak the prologue of a tragedy
recalls Sterne's inclusion of a sermon in Tristram
Shandy, and more daring still, the publication of his
14 Laurence Sterne. A Sentimental Journey. Book
II," The Passport. The Hotel at Paris," and "The Act
of Charity. Paris."
15
Frye, p. 234.

338
sermons under the pseudonym Yorick. Though the name
also stands for York, the city with which Sterne
identified himself, he himself suggests the
connection with the jester in Hamlet in Chapter XI of
Book I.
Predictably Sterne was strongly attacked for
allocating the authorial voice of his sermons to a
court jester. The Monthly Review proclaimed it as
"the greatest outrage against Sense and Decency, that
has been offered since the first establishment of
Christianity." It asked indignantly: "Would any man
believe that a Preacher was in earnest, who should
mount the pulpit in a Harlequin's coat?"16 The
public became, however, reconciled to Sterne's
innovative authorial voice, and Bonaventura adapted
it to his own purposes when he used the Clown as
herald for a tragedy.
Echoes from Yorick's Sermons are faintly
discernible in the Nightwatches. One of them fills in
the background to Kreuzgang's "funeral oration . . .
when a little boy was born," (p. 113) for it deals
with Eccl., VII, 2-3: "It is better to go to the
house of mourning than to the house of feasting."17
16 Laurence Sterne, The Sermons of Mr. Yorick.
Intr. Wilbur L. Cross (New York: J. F. Taylor & Co.,
1904), I, pp. xxix-xxx.
17 Sterne, Sermons. Vol. I, Sermon II, pp. 19-33.

339
Wilbur L. Cross says about this sermon: "a beautiful
allegorical veil hangs over the drama, under which we
pass through scenes alternating with joy and sorrow,
depicted with perfect art. This dramatic discourse
is Sterne's most complete allegory of human life."18
Another of Sterne's sermons takes as its text
Genesis I, 15 and is called "Joseph's History
Considered—Forgiveness of Injuries."19 Sterne
dwells on Joseph's nature as being fundamentally
different from that of his brothers, for he was kind,
loving, and concerned for all of them, while they
were selfish, mean and narrow-minded. Sterne's vivid
interpretation of the biblical text illuminates the
metaphoric use of Joseph in the Tenth Nightwatch (p.
161) .
The Sermons deal, however, on the whole with
themes and queries common to their times; their
subject matter provides, therefore, only a general
indication of Bonaventura's focus. A more revealing
similarity between Sterne and Bonaventura is found in
their references to Hamlet. Sterne uses
Shakespeare's tragedy as a backdrop against which he
projects and tests his heroes. For this effect he
18 Wilbur L. Cross, The Life and Times of
Laurence Sterne. New enlarged ed. (New Haven: Yale
University Press, 1925), Vol. I, p. 228.
19 Sermons. Vol. I, Sermon XII, pp. 193-210.

340
does not just rely on Yorick, but introduces constant
allusions and references, so that, as in the
Nightwatches. the reader is repeatedly reminded to
maintain a double focus, and to interpret the text
with Shakespeare's tragedy in mind.
A further reference to Sterne in the
Nightwatches is the description of the dehumanised
judge writing death warrants, "buried in piles of
documents, like a Laplander interred alive" (p. 51).
Bonaventura does not pause to refer his readers to
"The Author's Preface" in Tristram Shandy, where
Tristram talks of North Lapland,
where the whole province of a man's concernments
lies for near nine month together within the
narrow compass of his cave,—where the spirits
are compressed almost to nothing,—and where the
passions of a man, with everything which belongs
to them, are as frigid as the zone itself; —
there the least quantity of judgment imaginable
does the business,—and of wit—there is a
total and an absolute saving,—for as not one
spark is wanted,—so not one spark is given.
Bonaventura compresses the whole passage, into
the short simile of "a Laplander interred alive" (p.
51) . Baffling until the connotation is understood,
the description surprises by its precision, and
displays at the same time Bonaventura's short-hand
method of allusion, his erudition and his amazing
recall of literary detail.
The Preface to Tristram Shandv is particularly
celebrated because it is placed into Chapter XX of

341
Book III. By this unusual device Sterne not only
ridicules the custom of writing empty prefaces, but
also indicates his intention to have his own preface
read and generally discussed. In this belated
introduction he explains his own contribution to the
theory of association with the characteristic
nonchalance with which he habitually presents
important problems in frivolous guise. Reviewing the
implications of wit and judgment, he calls upon a
variety of witnesses that equals—and burlesques—
Burton's method of establishing himself as an
unbiased reporter by attributing all his information
to others. Mixing fact and invention with Swiftian
ease, Sterne declares:
wit and judgment in this world never go
together; inasmuch as they are two operations
differing from each other as wide as east is
from west.—So says Locke;—so are farting and
hiccuping, say I. But in answer to this,
Didius, the great church lawyer, in his code de
fartandi et illustrandi fallaciis. doth maintain
and make fully appear, That an illustration is
no argument,—nor do I maintain the wiping of a
looking glass clean to be a syllogism.
Lichtenberg poured over these pages. In Timorus
Conrad Photorin quotes the last part of the passage,
either from memory or with the subtle intention to
adapt it more closely to the context of book-learning
in which Conrad's pretensions flourish, for it
appears as Brillenwischen ist noch kein Svlloaismus—

342
to wipe spectacles clean does not amount to
syllogism.20
Photorin quotes Latin and Greek authorities in
the same sentence together with Sterne, whom he
latinises into a Prábendarius Sterne and calls a
Scandalum ecclesiae. while dismissing his opinions as
fool's talk (Possen). This criticism of an author
whom he highly valued shows clearly that Photorin is
a satiric mouthpiece with whom Lichtenberg did not
expect to be identified. Instead Photorin
personifies
the rhetorical trope of irony, which at one time
referred almost solely to the 'blame-by¬
praise' figure, [and] had come to define for the
Augustan satirists the fundamental organizing
principle of their work—an ironic persona whose
intensely serious engagement in the bathetic,
the trivial, and the absurd was the starting
point of an attack on human folly and
perversity."
Melvyn New argues that this "rhetoric of mock-
encomium" pervades Tristram Shandy.21 It is also a
device by which Kreuzgang apportions blame, thereby
forcing the reader constantly to assess whether the
nightwatchman is using his sober judgement or the
rhetoric of satiric inversion.
While Conrad Photorin is cast in the mold of
Martinus Scriblerus—the learned, narrow-minded,
20 Promies, Vol. Ill, p. 226.
21 New, p. 64.

343
self-satisfied pedant—Yorick, Tristram Shandy, and
Kreuzgang establish a separate pattern. In their
different ways all three aspire to a generality which
offers the reader possibilities for identification,
and by this method the impact of their often
unexpectedly acerbic irony is sharpened. Where they
ridicule man's follies—as opposed to castigating
particular misuses in certain fields such as law,
medicine, or theology—they therefore direct the
satire also against themselves. A good example of
this is in Tristram Shandy. V. xv., which begins:
Had this volume been a farce, which, unless
every one's life and opinions are to be looked
upon as a farce as well as mine, I see no reason
to suppose—the last chapter, Sir, must have set
off thus.
Ptr. .r. .r. . ing—twing—twang—prut—trut 'tis
a cursed bad fiddle.
Melvyn New's satiric reading of the text shows
that "Tristram's play on the word 'farce' provides
both an ironic selfappraisal of his efforts thus far
and the signal which sets him fiddling."22 In the
midst of further onomatopetic incoherence, Sterne
introduces, as if casually, the word "nothing," one
of his recurring leitmotifs which appears in ever
changing context. He declares "there is nothing in
playing before good judges." He also weaves elliptic
phrases into his description of playing on a violin
22
New, p. 160.

344
which is out of tune, "wickedly strung." These
indicate that a "grave man in black" is silently
watching.
The man in black, enigmatic as in Goldsmith's
The Citizen of the World and in the Niahtwatches.
gives a serious undertone to the menippea. The
serio-comic polarity is further emphazised by the
extreme contrasts with which Tristram enlivens his
speech:
I had rather play a Cappriccio to Calliope
herself than draw my bow across my fiddle before
that very man; . . . I'll stake my Cremona to a
Jew's trump, which is the greatest musical odds
that ever were laid, that I will this moment
stop three hundred and fifty leagues out of tune
upon my fiddle, without punishing one single
nerve that belongs to him.
While the man in black himself remains a shadow
figure, such hyperbole defines him as somebody quite
out of this world--death or devil—and thus
establishes the uneasy feeling that, while life may
be a farce it will nevertheless inevitably end in
tragedy and death.
Anticipating the Niqhtwatches. Sterne uses
literary criticism and similes from music to explain
general truths. Music played on an instrument that
is out of tune thus is turned into a metaphor for the
cacophony of life. The dichotomy between the ideal,
which can be imagined but not realized, and the
pitiful reality is already inherent in Shandy's

345
fiddling. Bonaventura only elaborates and up-dates
the image when he repeatedly presents the out-of-tune
"Mozart symphony executed by bad village musicians"
(p. 75) . Kreuzgang uses Sterne's imagery even more
directly when he compares his heart to "a string
instrument absurdly tuned on purpose, on which
therefore nothing can ever be played in a pure key,
unless it be that the devil might once advertise a
concert on it." (p. 167)
Tristram's self-ironizing remarks on farce while
he fiddles and "the grave man in black" silently
watches are among the signs which Melvyn New has
noted of "death's growing dominance in Tristram's
study throughout Volumes V and VI." Conseguently,
when in Volume VII, Chapter I, Death himself knocked
at Tristram's door, it is but a "logical and dramatic
consequence of Tristram's previous activity."23
The implied presence of death, and the ultimate
questions about the value and aim of life which are
thereby posed are the theme which unifies the
digressive texts of Sterne, as well as the
Nightwatches. Melvyn New connects Sterne with "the
'dance of death' tradition in having Death lead
Tristram (or, more accurately, pursue him) across the
length of France to a final dance with Nannette in
23
New, p. 173.

346
the last chapter." Though New makes it clear that
"the danse macabre is not essentially a satiric
tradition," he shows that through "the close
relationship between sermon and satire in the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries ... it passed
freely from one to the other and became one of the
satirist's methods to remind his reader of the
ubiquity of death, the ultimate last journey to the
grave."24
Tristram flies from Death with precipitate
haste, though he knows that there is no escape for
him, and that the outcome must be the same as in the
traditional Dance of Death where resignation reigns
from the start. But to him the essence of life is,
as for Kreuzgang, self-assertion, and resistance
against Dulness, mediocrity and defeat, and so he
flees even though there is no geographical point
which can offer him a sanctuary. His journey can
therefore never be completed.
Less spectacular is the nightwatchman's retreat
from death. He takes an inward turn, and withdraws
from the world, becoming more and more alienated.
The point of refuge from which he might hope to defy
the invisible threat is his inner self, and he is
therefore searching for his identity. Conforming with
24
New, p. 173.

347
enlightened aims he does this not as an individual
but as a representative of mankind, for the
correlation between life and eternity was to the age
a general and not a personal challenge.
The invisible presence of Death in the
Niqhtwatches is established from the first page, when
the stillness in the dark streets is described as
"dead silence" (p. 29) . Such colloquialisms are
frequently employed in the manner of Sterne who
introduces them as if they were merely casual
embellishments. While on the surface they add lively
immediacy to his language, they constantly keep the
image of death visible in the background. "The wind
chopped about: s'Death!-" (VII. ii.). "A clatter in
the house shall wake the dead" (VII. xi.). "The devil
it is! said I" (VII. xxxiv.).
Such expressions jolt the memory, and with their
ungentlemanly crudity they form an intermediary link
between the escatological allegory of the travelogue
in Book VII and the bawdy aspects, which are provided
by Tristram's lively interest in wordly pleasures.
This polarity pervades every incident, however
trifling, and infuses the apparently capricious humor
with dark and unexpected dimensions.
Bonaventura uses the same pattern. Beside
idiomatic phrases concerning death, those of related

348
subjects like
devil
and
grave
are also freely
introduced,
even
in such seemingly
r neutral
asides as
the aphorism
"Sobriety is the tomb
of art!"
(p. 187).
As in Sterne
they
keep
the ultimate
questions
concerning
death,
dying
and
the possibilities
afterwards
in
the
mind,
and
provide
a somber
counterpoint to the farcical situations of life.
The people whom Kreuzgang meets on his nightly
rounds are like the figures in the Dance of Death,
not individuals but prototypes of human experience.
As Kreuzgang sees himself as representative of
humanity, (der ich Mensch heisse. p. 167), the people
he encounters are mostly projections of his own
personality, and many of them are pursued or
overtaken by death while he wakes and watches. The
detached fascination with which he observes and
analyses their end is only possible because he
experiences each death not as an individual calamity,
but as a central part of the "Tragedy: Man" in which
he himself has been allocated a part.
The poet in the garret is an embodiment of his
own former aspiration—"I was once of your kind" (p.
31) . The freethinker foreshadows his own death, and
a sequel to life on earth which can be anticipated
mystically, but not rationally (p. 31-37). Self-
identification even includes the mysterious "tall

349
manly figure, wrapped in a cloak" (p. 67) that "man
on the grave" (p. 69) whose suicide attempts prove
futile, for Kreuzgang reports of himself a similar
incident, although it happened in a dream: "Beyond
myself, I tried to annihilate myself—but I remained
and felt myself immortal! ..." (p. 215).
All these men lack a proper name. They are not
characters but rather the types we expect in
menippean satire as defined by Northrop Frye's theory
of genres:
The Menippean satire deals less with people as
such than with mental attitudes. Pedants,
bigots, cranks, parvenus, virtuosi, enthusiasts,
rapacious and incompetent professional men of
all kinds, are handled in terms of their
occupational approach to life as distinct from
their social behavior. The Menippean satire
thus resembles the confession in its ability to
handle abstract ideas and theories, and differs
from the novel in its characterization, which is
stylized rather than naturalistic, and presents
people as mouthpieces of the ideas they
represent.25
As in the Dance of Death, individuality is
merged into the common fate, but the Niqhtwatches
stress the contradictions in human nature through
these odd and sometimes bizarre types of its
characters. Sterne uses similar ploys to expose dark
reality behind a confused and incoherent surface.
Bonaventura's satire is more precise and
therefore more bitter than Sterne's, and his
25
Frye, p. 309.

350
paradigms are more poignant and despairing. This is
especially obvious in the female characters. There
is no room in the semi-darkness of Kreuzgang's storm
riven rounds for light-hearted banter and fleeting
flirtations, or for the conventional pleasantries
exchanged with chambermaids. Nor is there time to
imply and gradually insinuate the idea of a Dance of
Death. The theme is directly introduced in the Tenth
Nightwatch, a chapter filled with confrontations with
death, where skaters are described as "dancing the
Basel dance of death to this funeral music" (p. 159).
Then—as if in confirmation of Locke and Kant and
their claim that the human mind cannot conceive of
anything of which it lacks experience—at the end of
the final night, Kreuzgang speculates
no doubt countless stars are sparkling and
swimming there above us in heaven's ocean, but
if they have worlds, as many clever heads
assert, then there are also skulls on them and
worms, as here below; and that holds throughout
the whole immensity, and the Basel dance of
death merely grows all the merrier and wilder
thereby and the ballroom grander, (p. 245)
The Death of Basel, the famous Tod von Basel.
was one of the great sights of this important town
and a potent attraction, especially to Englishmen on
the Grand Tour, who visited it in great numbers.2^
26 Paul-Henry Boerlin, Der Basler Prediger-
Totentanz, in Unsere Kunstdenkmáler. Mitteilunasblatt
der Gesellschaft für schweizerische Kunstcreschichte.
XVII, Nr. 4, Basel, 1966, pp. 128-140.

351
Many of them also stopped and studied in Gottingen,
and related their experiences there. Prints and
copies of this large fresco enjoyed a brisk sale, and
ensured it wide publicity. The huge memento mori was
painted during the fifteenth century onto the
churchyard wall of the Dominican Monastery,
presumably just after the devastating outbreak of the
Black Death in 1439. In Basel the twenty-four
traditional pairs were expanded to thirty-nine, and
each was accompanied by two stanzas. In the first,
Death announces his victims' occupation and doom, in
the last his human partners reply that they have no
choice but to comply with his commands. There is no
dramatic struggle, and neither fear nor terror, only
hopeless resignation.
The Dance is arranged in a procession like a
polonaise, and the nightwatchman gives a good
impression of it when he compares it with skaters,
who "are turning with airy agility on the sheet of
ice in the meadow" (p. 159) . The "sheet of ice" not
only conveys the chill of the entertainment, but also
introduces a further metonym for the fragile
vulnerability of life.
Not many women appear in the Basel frescoe, for
in the emblematic representation they can only typify
the young and the old, the rich and the poor, the

352
vain and, in the person of a rather central abbess,
those with a religious calling; while the numerous
men impersonate the different professions. The
paucity of women, and their generalized and
indistinct personalities in the Niahtwatches.
conforms with this allegorical display of mankind.27
In the Nightwatches the abbess is not even
mentioned. But as the authority responsible for the
entombing of the beautiful young mother, her presence
casts a deathly shadow over the convent scene. In
Tristram Shandy the digression concerning the Abbess
of Andouillets (VII, xxi-xxiv.) takes up five
chapters of uneven length. One of them comprises
only a few lines and these are liberally interspersed
with dashes.
The anecdote relates how the abbess and her
resourceful novice contrived to pronounce forbidden
words, the only ones which are supposed to induce two
mules to draw their carriage uphill. They endeavour
to preserve their integrity by the simple expedient
of saying each of them only half of the wicked words,
and thus a meaningless and consequently sinless
27 The Tod von Basel was demolished at the
beginning of the nineteenth century when it was found
to be in urgent need of costly restoration. The wall
was pulled down with great speed to forestall
protests, and only a few fragments could be saved.
Most of these have by now found their way into the
Historisches Museum in Basel.

353
syllable. That they have literally conformed to the
letter, while sinning against the spirit is a
transgression which does not worry them. The two
nuns are guite oblivious to their sin against the
Holy Spirit to which the anecdote draws attention.
The tale has all the smuttiness of a crude joke,
which Sterne turns into an elegant entertainment by
the erudition of his allusions and insinuations. He
also provides a context which elevates the rude prank
into a parable not less critical of institutionalized
religion than the much more spine-chilling scene
which Kreuzgang watches in the convent (p. 165-69).
Both incidents are not concerned with individuals and
their particular fate, but with mental attitudes.
Indicted are not just women, or even religious
orders, but the hypocrisy of human nature that
conscientiously pursues the letter and offends
against the spirit with impunity.
The dashes and dots which Sterne uses so
profusely to induce the reader to fill in his own
conclusions are very sparingly applied by
Bonaventura. Instead he uses the method of Timanthes
and leaves a void to set the readers' imagination to
work. Lest this be forgotten he reminds them every
now and again of his technigue. Thus he lets the
procession of nuns "and in their midst the walking

354
bride of death," pass by without horrified outcry,
offering only the comment, "the tragic muse, the less
hand-wringing she does, the more profoundly she moves
us" (p. 167).
The gothic atmosphere of the tomb scene is
almost as little accentuated in the Nightwatches as
in Tristram Shandy, or in the Sentimental Journey.
There, nothing is told of the scenery or the tomb of
Father Lorenzo, but that "he was buried, not in his
convent, but according to his desire, in a little
cemetery, belonging to it, about two leagues off."
How forgotten he lies all by himself is only implied
by Yorick "plucking up a nettle or two" from his
grave. As this act of charity causes him to "burst
into a flood of tears," we must conclude that the
desolation of the scene is overwhelming (The Snuff
Box. Calais).
Sterne mentions the scenery only insofar as it
is reflected in Yorick7s reaction. He does not stop
to exploit the descriptive possibilities of the grave
yard. Where he takes note of the environment it is
only to illustrate human nature. Thus Father
Lorenzo's wish to be buried so far from the monastery
projects by topographical means his alienation from
the religious order to which he belonged, while the

355
neglect of his grave reflects in turn the monks'
rejection of him.
Where nature is noticed in the Niahtwatches. it
serves the same parabolic purpose, as in a comparison
of the two dissimilar brothers, where scenes from
nature are first used as descriptive epithets. Juan
"stood all in flames like a volcano," (p. 89) while
Ponce "was like a tree which, robbed of its
transitory vernal embellishment, stretches its naked
branches stiff and bewildered into the breezes" (p.
91). The situation is then summed up:
Thus the same lightning flash ignites a forest
for it to illuminate the horizon a thousand
nights through, while it travels fleetingly over
the heath and singes the meagre flowers for them
to wither and leave no trace behind.28
Inherent in these quotations is the theological
and mythological background which can provide
perspectives into eternity from every point, however
randomly selected. Sterne and Bonaventura
continually apply this device, often by mere hints
28 The powerful image is not taken from nature
directly, but from "Milton's description of the devil
and his host of of fallen angels." Milton's passage
is highly recommended by Richardson for its
"profusion of ornament, particularly in similes, but
in each of them there is a great oeconomy shewn [sic]
in the language, not a word but is to the purpose."
Richardson, Works. p. 133. A similar paraphrase from
Paradise Lost was noticed for Tristram Shandv (VI.
xxxv.). "STILLNESS, with SILENCE at her back, entered
the solitary parlour, and drew their gauzy mantle
over my uncle Toby's head." Tristram Shandv. New, The
Notes. p. 437, commentary on p. 561, nn. 19-22.

356
and the lightest of touches which are difficult to
detect. At other times they rely on well known
mythological implications, such as the lameness,
which allegorizes divine punishment for presumption
and a fall from heaven, as experienced by Satan and
Vulcan. Conversely, lameness is also the hard won
mark of divine acceptance for Jacob, who acquired it
wrestling with God—a methaphor for persistent
pursuit of a worthy aim—and survived, proclaiming:
"I have seen God face to face, and my life is
preserved" (Gen., XXXII, 24-30). The episode
epitomizes the promise of redemption after
perseverance and suffering which Jakob Bohrne treats
in his exegesis of Genesis, Mvsterium Magnum.
Sterne assigns this impediment almost casually
to a rustic musician who is playing for the village
dance. That it may signify more than a deplorable
physical defect can be inferred from the allusion to
the gods, contained in his description as one "whom
Apollo had recompensed with a pipe" (VII, iviii).
The allusion to Pan is reinforced by the alternating
metonym "nymphs" for "the rustic daughters of labour"
who draw Tristram into their dance. These hints
change the rural amusement imperceptibly into a
vision of life in Arcadia.

357
Bonaventura employs an identical technique when
Kreuzgang mentions lameness without further
explanation, but in the context of classical
allusions. The aside may be taken for nothing more
than a figure of speech, but it prompts the
perceptive reader to consider the possibility of
allegorical implications. Reminiscing about the
couple planning adultery, the nightwatchman relates:
And it was not long until my Mars crept to his
Venus. Since I limped by nature and didn't have
the best appearance, I lacked as Vulcan really
little more than the golden net. (p. 53)
The physical handicap is not integrated into the
story in any realistic way by either Sterne or
Bonaventura. In Sterne's situation it connects the
scene to Greek mythology, and through it to a vision
of perfection which humanity can only imagine. In
Kreuzweg's case the impediment is not only a reminder
of his godfather, the devil, but also of his nights
of wrestling, like Jacob, with the problems of death
and eternity.
The enigmatic biblical report of Jacob's
encounter with God shows man in a position of near
equality to God, and lameness as the mark of courage
to have challenged him and forced from him a
blessing. The different facets of lameness thus
characterize Kreuzgang like the contradictory faces

358
that stare at him out of the mirror of his
imagination (p. Ill).
Such devices are intended to activate reader
participation, but they also serve the purpose of
turning common incidents into parables of general
significance. Both were processes in which
Lichtenberg delighted, for he strongly believed that
"what you find out for yourself leaves a trail in the
intellect which can be of further use in different
contexts" C 196. To understand, assimilate and
explain great thoughts by fitting them into the frame
of personal experience is a corner stone of his
Gedankensvstem. his method of acquiring, arranging,
and utilising ideas. He outlined his ideal of
empathy between author and reader as early as 1769:
Where people are unable to hear you think, it is
necessary to speak, but as soon as you arrive at
a point where it is possible to take thoughts
for granted which co-incide with our own, one
has to stop speaking. Such a book is Sterne's
Journey, but most books contain nothing between
two memorable points but the most ordinary
common sense, a long drawn line where a dotted
line would have sufficed. B 86
The nightwatchman likes to lead the reader along
just such dotted lines as constitute Lichtenberg's
ideal. While he keeps his feelings shrouded to the
point of sometimes obscuring them altogether, he does
register much more forcibly than Sterne does his

359
disappointment about the imperfections of life and
the gap between imagination and reality.
Between Sterne's goodnatured acceptance of human
shortcomings, and the nightwatchman's dark despair
about the perverse irrationalities of mankind lies
the chasm of the French Revolution. This destroyed
with its unexpected atrocities the enlightened belief
in progressive perfection, and in the basic
benevolence of the human disposition. What appeared
as flaws which increased insight, patience and good
will might overcome in time were now revealed as
cracks under which an unfathomable abyss opened.
When, therefore, both authors use similar means for
similar ends, they handle them in different ways.
Love ending in madness illustrates the point.
In Tristram Shandy this affliction is
personified by the forsaken shepherdess Maria in her
lyrical rural setting (IX. xxiv.). Melvyn New points
to this episode as "intended by Tristram to show his
secret springs being touched."29 Tristram
demonstrates his capacity for empathy in this
interlude in several ways, for on the road towards
Maria, he had his "uncle Toby's amours running all
the way" in his head, and they affected him as if
they had been his own, "so that whether the roads
29
New, p. 193.

360
were rough or smooth, it made no difference;
everything . . . [he] saw or had to do with, touched
upon some secret spring either of sentiment or
rapture" (IX. xxiv).
The encounter with the shepherdess belongs
thematically to Tristram's journey in Book VII, and
is part of his unsuccessful flight from death. But
Sterne instead inserts it into Volume IX, close to
the end. He prefaces the episode with an invocation
to the "Gentle Spirit of sweetest humour, who erst
didst sit upon the easy pen of my beloved CERVANTES,"
and proclaims himself unfitted to the task
yet now that I am got to it, anyone is welcome
to take my pen, and go on with the story for me
that will 1 see difficulties of the
descriptions I'm going to give and feel my
want of powers.
Kreuzgang protests with similar frustration his lack
of skill to describe the full force of human passions
and the havoc they create. Sterne's order is
inversed, for Kreuzgang offers his remarks only when
he has finished his tale of love and death:
What wouldn't I give to be able to narrate with
the same nice coherence and directness as other
honest Protestant poets and magazine writers,
who become great and splendid in so doing and
exchange their golden ideas for golden
realities. It simply has not been granted to
me, and the brief, simple murder story has cost
me sweat and toil enough and, none the less,
still looks shaggy and motley enough, (p. 97)

361
There is no reference to Cervantes, but it will
be remembered that the location of Kreuzgang's tale
is Spain. The elements of Bonaventura's love story
are as basic, and therefore as melodramatic, as those
of Sterne's famed tale of the girl sitting on a bank
and playing woeful tunes on a flute, the haunting
image of lost love, reason and hope. Cervantes had
already introduced madness and derangement among
love-struck shepherds into his Don Quixote to expose
as illusory and escapist any hopes that an untainted
paradise might be found in the wilderness of
nature.30 It is the men who suffer from lovesickness
and ensuing madness in his narration. Maria, like
Ophelia, shows the female aspects of a derangement
which has its origins in the incompatability of ideal
love with the realities of mundane existence.
Though Maria takes up little space in Tristram
Shandy. her significance as a focus of love and
compassion is considerable. More than anyone else
she succeeds in drawing Tristram closer to herself
and thus further out of his own isolation. She
reappears in the Sentimental Journey, where the
30 Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, The Adventures
of Don Quixote. First Part, Chapt. XII, "The
Goatherd's Story, and Chapt. XIII, "The Conclusion of
the Story."

362
vignette is enlarged into three short chapters which
bear her name as title (Vol. II).
The episode inpired much languid imitation in
Germany, especially in Darmstadt, Lichtenberg' s
hometown, where a group of literary enthusiasts
wallowed in Empfindsamkeit. They were active mainly
between 1770 and 1775. Lichtenberg's contemporary,
Johann Heinrich Merck (1741-1791), belonged to this
circle. Merck's friend Goethe visited Darmstadt, and
found much support there for his early literary
efforts.
Central to the circle was Louise von Ziegler, a
lady in waiting at the Darmstadt court, who "thought
of herself as Maria of Moulines." Caroline von
Flachsland also belonged to this group. She was
betrothed to Herder and reported to him that Louisa
had reconstructed Maria's grave in her garden, and
that she was accompanied by a little lamb, which ate
and drank with her. The prudent substitution for the
emblematically and factually inconvenient goat of a
docile and socially much more acceptable lamb is
symptomatic of the attitudes exhibited by many of
Sterne's most visible German disciples at the time.31
31 Price, English Literature in Germany, p.
195. See also Fritz Ebner, Musen wohl. doch auch
Politik. Lebensbilder aus Darmstadts Verganqenheit.
(Darmstadt: Justus von Liebig Verlag, 1982), p. 13-19.

363
Goethe's admiration for Louisa, whom he addressed in
poetry as "Lila," goes far to explain Lichtenberg's
acerbic and repeated criticism of the young poet's
early works.
The love interest in the Niahtwatches has
nothing of "Lila's" diffuse sentimentality. Whether
in the twice repeated story from Spain, in the
invisble suffering of Nos. 12-16 in the asylum, or in
Kreuzgang's own "Maytime in the madhouse" (pp. 157,
199-217)—those who pursue the ideal of love come to
serious and irreversible grief. The nightwatchman's
own love, Ophelia, has Maria's function, and the
attributes which both women share with Shakespeare's
heroine: a passive non-comprehension of life's
cruelties, and an unfulfillable need for wholeness;
but Bonaventura's Ophelia is anything but a pattern
for a sentimental cult.
Mozart's symphony turns into a travesty when
performed by the incompetent. Likewise all the love
interests in the Niahtwatches are preordained to end
in failure and dismay, because the participants
themselves are human, and so fall short of the ideal.
Like Tristram, Kreuzgang is included in this tragic-
comic pattern. Bonaventura adds intensity and
Swiftian intellectual despair to Sterne's penetrating

364
perception, and does not let his dissappointed lovers
linger on in pastoral dignity.
The question why perfection is so elusive, and
whether it could satisfy man's restless longing even
if it were obtainable, exercised many enlightened
minds. To Johnson's Rasselas the problem is central,
for the Abyssinian prince grew up in an enclosure
where "all the diversities of the world were brought
together; the blessings of nature were collected, and
its evils extracted and excluded" (Chapt. I) . Yet,
needless to say, he wanted to escape, "because
pleasure has ceased to please," (Chapt. III).
Hogarth had considered the problem from the
viewpoint of the painter. When he attempted to
create a serene and joyful companion series to the
calamitous but hugely successful Marriage á la Mode,
not only was there no popular response, he himself
lost interest and left the enterprise unfinished.32
Lichtenberg mentioned this dissappointment at
the end of his commentaries to the Marriage á la
Mode. Characteristically he offered a reason for the
failure, and he presented it in the form of a
32 The Happy Marriage series survives only in a
number of oil sketches, and engravings after lost
paintings, which seem to be quite without a plot.
David Bindmann, Hogarth (Norwich: Thames and Hudson,
1981), pp. 115 and 118. See also Paulson, Hogarth:
His Life, Art, and Times. Vol. II, pp. 11 and 15.

365
literary allusion, which is used so frequently in his
writings, as in the Nightwatches:
Probably his friends gave him to understand in
good time that he was in the same position as
his great fellow-countryman Milton; Milton
lives, as we know, through his lost, and not
through his regained, paradise.33
In his theoretical treatise, The Analysis of
Beauty. Hogarth did not neglect the phenomenon. He
wrote:
It is strange that nature hath afforded us so
many 1 ines and shapes to indicate the
deficiencies and blemishes of the mind, while
there are none at all that point out the
perfections of it beyond the appearance of
common sense and placidity.34
Neither did Sterne miss the paradox, though he
touches on it but lightly in his amiable way,
choosing as his simile the fruitful abundance and
undisturbed tranquillity of a verdant plain, and
presenting it in terms of literary criticism, that
device so favoured by the English satirists of the
eighteenth century:
There is nothing more pleasing to a traveller—
or more terrible to travel writers, than a large
rich plain; especially if it is without great
rivers or bridges; and presents nothing to the
eye but one unvaried picture of plenty: for
after they have once told you that 'tis
delicious! or delightful! (as the case happens)
33 Ed. Herdan and Herdan, Lichtenbera's
Commentaries; Promies, Vol. Ill, pp. 988-89.
34 William Hogarth, The Analysis of Beauty
(1753). Ed. Joseph Burke (Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1955), p. 141.

366
—that the soil was grateful, and that nature
pours out all her abundance, etc....they have
then a large plain upon their hands, which they
know not what to do with—and which is of
little use to them but to carry them to some
town; and that town, perhaps of little more, but
a new place to start from to the next plain—and
so on (VII. iliii.).
When Bonaventura confronts this dilemma, he
projects it into eternity and is shatterd by his
inability to imagine how the human ego could endure a
permanent equilibrium. His experience on earth has
not furnished him with guidelines in this perplexity.
As epitomized by Tristram, Rasselas and
Voltaire's Candide, mankind persists in regarding the
plain of plenty merely as convenient departing point
to reach ever new horizons. The problem which none
of the enlightened thinkers could solve in purely
rational and human terms becomes truly terrifying
when measured against immortality, for Kreuzgang
arrives at the distinctly disturbing conclusion, that
only the perishable parts of man—those which he
shares with the animals—can ever find perfect
satisfaction. Without the stomach as constant
instigator, man would regress into stupor and
indolence. The thought is particularly developed in
the digression "Apology for Life" (p. 183 ff.) which
foresees
The mind without the stomach is like the bear
who indolently sucks his own paw. He is but the
treasurer of this sack suspended in him, and if

367
you cut it off him, then he is done for. (p. 185
and 187)35
Tristram claims a similarly central position for the
stomach in his cryptic, almost cynical remark which
ends the Maria episode:
"What and excellent inn at Moulins!" (IX. xxiv.)
The satirical method in this exclamation, which
feeds on the unexpected sudden connection between two
quite unrelated subjects, is traced back to Rabelais
by Melvyn New.36 As Kreuzgang has set his horizons
far beyond the next inn, the pleasantries of life
cannot offer him any escape route, not even the
temporary relief with which Tristram contents
himself. To the nightwatchman the need for food, and
the enjoyment it can provide, merely prove that the
ego, when stripped of its animal nature, will have to
face the terrifying ordeal for which the buried-alive
nun serves as paradigm. What can the mind, left with
35 Lichtenberg used the unusual simile of the
bear and his paws at various times, so in B 223,
where he notes: "People become scholars just as some
become soldiers, because they have no aptitude for
anything else; their right hand has to earn their
bread and they can be said to lay down like the bears
in winter and suck out of their paws." A list of
suggestions which were entered at the start of
Wastebook E includes "the sucking of their paws by
bears to be used as analogy for writing books"
(Leitzmann, Vol. 136, p. 364). See also Eccl. IV, 5:
"The fool foldeth his hands together and eateth his
own flesh," and VI, 7: "All the labour of man is for
his mouth and yet the appetite is not filled."
36
New, p. 194.

368
nothing but its own resources, hope and achieve?
"Will it be able to beguile time for itself? . . . "
(p. 169). Such questions about the self cannot be
answered from human experience.
When the Porter asks, after the young mother is
immured, "do you hate mankind now?" Kreuzgang's reply
may seem like an attempt at changing the subject. It
indicates however, how totally he identifies with the
fate of the condemned woman
'I am practically alone with myself'—I said—,
'and hate or love just as little as possible! I
attempt to think that I think nothing, and that
way I finally manage to get so far as to arrive
at myself!'. . . (p. 169).
The ellipsis is used with discretion, and indicates
that both question and answer only touch on the
problem which exceeds the considerable intellectual
capabilities of the nightwatchman.
The word "nothing" looms large in this
statement, as it does also in so many Sternian
phrases. The religio-mythical connotations of the
word are indicated by its synonymity with Solomon's
"Vanity," and its use by the psalmists. Bonaventura
and Sterne manipulate it with dexterity and exploit
its ambiguities, which are highlighted in the
Nightwatches. because the last and final "Nothing" is
not given as a straight reply to Kreuzgang's
intellectual torment, but as the inconclusive call of

369
an echo, as if to re-inflrce the Locke-Kantean
contention that the mind is unable to reach out
beyond itself.
In the context of an argument on immortality,
Sterne's "nothing" also is indeterminate. Tristram's
elliptical discussion of the problem gives no clear
indication whether his digression on souls (VII.
xiv., xv.) merely ridicules the serious challenge
which a common word which nearly everybody takes for
granted presented to many eighteenth-century
thinkers, or whether his burlesque is intended as a
sincere contribution to the dialogue of ideas. The
menippea with its open-ended, fragmentary approach,
leaves room for more than one interpretation.
As usual, Tristram starts with a seemingly
wildly unconnected thought: "I was under a vow not to
shave my beard till I got to Paris; yet I hate to
make mysteries of nothing." But this immediately
places "nothing" in the context of vow and mystery.
He goes on to quote from Lessius (1554-1623) , a
Jesuit scholar, who claims that only one Dutch cubic
mile would be needed to contain all the dammned souls
from Adam to the end of the world.
Tristram's calculations that people since Adam,
and with them presumably their souls, have grown
smaller and smaller is based on a cabbalistic

370
tradition which Bonaventura also uses to satiric
purpose when he reminds the young art worshipper in
the "invalid's home of immortal gods" of his "puny
stature." Kreuzgang explains: "Since the fall,
before which Adam, as is well known, through the
assurances of the rabbis measured his hundred yards,
we have become noticeably smaller and are shrinking
more and more from age to age" (p. 193).
With similar satiric logic Sterne concludes that
in Lessius' time souls "were as little as can be
imagined We find them less now And next
winter we shall find them less again; so that if we
go on from little to less, and from less to nothing,
I hesitate not one moment to affirm, that in half a
century, at this rate, we shall have no souls at all"
(VII. xiv•)•
Yorick the preacher cannot discuss this
proposition with the florid ease and blithe abandon
of Tristram the ironic person, who zigzags away from
problems when they become too pressing, and may or
may not approach them later from a guite different
direction. A sermon on the "Abuses of Conscience"
substitutes, however, conscience for souls and warns
that though well working consciences are taken for
granted, many people manage altogether without one
and others, as David in the case of Uriah, with one

371
that is conveniently selective. In this sermon
Sterne also provides the key to the anecdote of the
Abbess of Andouillets and her hypocritical ilk:
The surest way to try the merit of any disputed
notion, is to trace down the consequences such
a notion has produced, and compare them with the
spirit of Christianity.37
Lichtenberg secularized this precept, and many
of his far-sighted predictions owe their origin to
its rigorous application. Kreuzgang follows the same
guideline when he demands an "explanation for every
single substance," and "soars ever higher from
natural science into theology" (p. 63). Like Sterne,
he is also capable of drawing a quick line from any
triviality, such as a shoe (p. 63) , to the most
challenging questions. In the light of Yorick's
sermon, the "nothing" in Tristram's digression on
souls becomes synonymous with "worthless, because
inactive." Sterne and Bonaventura are, however, not
content with final definitions. Their verbal
virtuosity is constantly displayed by the many
variations of meaning they are able to reveal.
Beside all these features, Lichtenberg and
Bonaventura have also this in common with Sterne and
his distinguished predecessors in English eighteenth-
century satire; while they are steeped in rhetorical
37
Sterne, Sermons. Yol. II, p. 116.

372
tradition, and their writings abound with literary
allusions, and with references to the current and
common concerns of their times, they have produced
works of inspiring and exemplary originality.

CONCLUSION
Themes and techniques in the Nightwatches concur
with Lichtenberg's literary criteria, as with his
spheres of interest. But in the absence of all
documentary proof, neither he—nor anybody else—can
be acclaimed as undisputed author of the Nightwatches
bv Bonaventura. The writer of this remarkable text
should, however, be recognized as the possessor of an
exceptionally sharp intellect which was thoroughly
steeped in rhetoric and the classical tradition;
which focused on the concerns of the enlightenment,
especially man's place in the universe; which was
interested in, and familiar with all university
disciplines, and the printing trade; which was
conversant to an outstanding degree in literature,
philosophy, and science, and in particular with their
development in England. Like Lichtenberg and
Ecclesiasticus, but unlike the romantics, Bonaventura
did not dream of a Golden Age of long ago.1 He was
probing the limits of human knowledge in all
1 Eccl. VII, 10: "Say not thou, What is the
cause that the former days were better than these?
for thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this."
373

374
directions, but wary enough of any possible progress
to use satire as his preferred mode of expression.
In this genre he demonstrates a thorough
familiarity with the English satirists of the
eighteenth century, and he follows the tradition of
Swift, Pope and the other Scriblerians, Fielding and
Sterne. Like Lichtenberg, all these writers enjoyed
the satires of Lucian, and Bakhtin might refer to any
of their work when he says of this Greek master of
the menippea that
the satires of Lucian, taken as a group, are an
entire encyclopedia of his times: they are full
of overt and hidden polemics with various
philosophical, religious, ideological and
scientific schools, and with the tendencies and
currents of his time; they are full of the
images of contemporary or recently deceased
public figures, 'masters of thought' in all
spheres of societal and ideological life (under
their own names, or disguised) ; they feel out
new directions in the development of everyday
life; they show newly emerging types in all
layers of society, and so on. They are a sort
of Diary of a Writer, seeking to unravel and
evaluate the general spirit and direction of
evolving contemporary life. 2
While this thesis concentrates on Bonaventura's
exceptional familiarity with English language,
culture and literature, and in particular with the
menippean tradition which flowered in English satire
during the eighteenth century, it must be stressed
that there are other means by which Bonaventura's
2
Bakhtin, Prolems, p. 118.

375
dense text could be analysed, and that he was as
familiar and concerned with life and conditions in
his own country as with those in England.3
While most of his paradigms are chosen from
sources which may now be considered rather obscure,
and were so already in large measure to the romantics
of the early nineteenth century, during the
enlightenment the majority of them were so widely
accessible as to be almost cliches. Never, though,
did Bonaventura use any trope without revealing
unexpected facets of these time-worn examples, or
without illuminating their inherent meaning in new
and unexpected ways.
The fleeting reference to Ugolino, for instance,
needs footnoting now. Gerstenberg, however, begins a
short introductory passage to his tragedy Ugolino by
stating that the plot is too well known to demand any
explanation, and Lessing starts his review of the
play with exactly the same words. In England the
episode was at the time so well known that Paget
3 E.g. Linde Katritzky, "Goethe in den
'Nachtwachen. Von Bonaventura' und in den Schriften
Georg Christoph Lichtenbergs." Goethe-Jahrbuch
(Weimar), 1987, pp. 157-168. Similar connections
exist to many other German eighteenth-century
writers, notably Lessing, Moser, Herder, Wieland,
Klopstock and the writers of the Góttinger Hain,
Tieck and the brothers Schlegel, Jean Paul, and the
philosophers Kant and Fichte. There are also
recurrent parallels to the mysticism of Jacob Bohrne.

376
Toynbee sees it as "hackneyed" already in 1781.
Frances A. Yates, who quotes this from Toynbee's
Dante in English Literature (1909) remarks on "the
curious fact that before any complete translation of
Dante exists in English, there are already three
verse and three prose renderings of the Ugolino
episode, and a picture of the subject by one of the
greatest of English artists. Dante seems to make his
entry into eighteenth-century England in the form of
Ugolino."4
Relying on this background of common knowledge,
Bonaventura can omit the gruesome gothic details.
His emphasis is not on the anguish and the pathetic
plight of the suffering individual, experienced as a
romantic hero "different from the society that has
failed him." While Jack D. Zipes thus sees the
romantic hero as "essentially an anticultural hero in
that he represents the primacy of the individual over
society,"5 Kreuzgang and even the Poor Poet, who in
4 Frances A. Yates, "Transformations of Dante's
Ugolino," in Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld
Institutes. Vol. XIV (The Warburg Institute,
University of London, 1951), p. 94. A verse
translation of the episode by Edward Young was not
published during the eighteenth century.
5 Jack D. Zipes, the great refusal, studies of
the romantic hero in german and american literature
(Bad Homburg: Athenáum, 1970), pp. 21 and 31.

377
some measure seems to conform to this romantic
pattern, consistently stress the universality and
general relevance of their attitudes.
When the Poor Poet therefore explains himself in
his "Letter of Refusal to Life" (p. 133 and 135), by
using allusions to Dante, he experiences his own fate
not as exceptional but as representative and
parabolic, and diverts the perspective away from
himself onto the world at large:
they are letting me starve, like Ugolino in the
greatest hunger tower, the world, the key for
which they have cast before my very eyes into
the sea forever.
The digressive letter is one of many inserted
genres in the Nightwatches. These are, according to
Bakhtin, "presented at various distances from the
ultimate authorial position."6 It starts with a
reversal of Franklin's epitaph, and shows from the
beginning a shift of emphasis from the individual
fate onto general conditions: "Man is good for
nothing. Therefore I am striking him out. My Man
has found no publisher, neither as persona vera nor
ficta." Like "Ugolino turned blind from hunger" the
poet is "conscious of his blindness." Like
Empedocles he cannot bear it and prefers "to mount
the battlements and hurl" himself "down."
6
Bakhtin, Problems. p.118.

378
The deed is neither commended nor condemned, for
the menippea poses questions and exposes problems for
which there are no answers. Use of the reversed
epitaph suggests, however, that there are other
solutions besides the one chosen by the poet. The
position of Dante's Ugolino episode at the end of the
Inferno (Canto XXXIII, 1-78) points, like other
signifiers in the Nightwatches. to the expectation
that life will continue after death, for Dante left
Hell directly after encountering such extreme
suffering to proceed to Purgatory and hence to
Paradise. St. Bonaventura greets him there
(Paradiso, Canto XII), the great mystic, who "holds a
central and pivotal position” in the history of
Western spirituality," whose masterpiece, Itinerarium
mentis in Deum. Ewert Cousins as The Soul's Journey
into God, though due to the ambivalent connotations
of mens.mentis. he translates in his text " the terms
mens as "soul" and as "mind” depending on the
connotations of the context.7 Kreuzgang, who
parallels
this
quest for
meaning
in
life
and
continuance
into
eternity,
pursues
it,
however,
solely with
the
faculties
of the mind.
He
has
7 Bonaventure
. The Soul'
s Journev
into
God.
The
Tree of Life. The Life of St. Francis. Transí, and
intr. Ewert Cousins (New York: Paulist Press, 1978),
Introduction, pp. 1 and 20-21.

379
therefore to dispense with the religious dimension in
his reasoning, but he points to it continuously,
nevertheless, through various associations, not least
by presenting his ventures under the pseudonym
Bonaventura.
Among various asides which tie in with this
interpretation is a seemingly casual remark at the
end of praise for "tragic jest and such fools as in
Kina Lear." when Kreuzgang in one of his many
metaphors from stage and literature condemns "good-
natured composers of comedies" for writing
as if life were the highest thing and not rather
man, who goes further than life, which makes up
merely the first act and the inferno in the
Divine Comedy through which, in order to seek
his ideal, he is travelling . . . [sic] (p. 67)
Ugolino thus represents Man—his helpless
suffering, his restrictive confinement, his raging
intellectual hunger and his blindness, his utter
inability to look beyond the walls of his dark and
narrow dungeon. He also epitomizes the extremity of
hell beyond which there is hope for redemption in the
sense of Dante, and also of Jacob Bohrne who
experiences the darkest hour as the beginning of
morn.8
8 This is the leading idea in Jacob Bohrne's
Aurora; Kreuzgang refers to it in the First
Nightwatch when he censures the zealous priest who
"paints the beyond in audacious pictures; not,
however, the beautiful aurora of the new day and the

380
By assuming that every component of the
composition carries emblematic significance, and is
part of an interconnecting orchestration, we can
approach the Nightwatches through any detail in the
text and find a multilayered structure that reaches
beyond literal meaning into allegorical, symbolical
and mystical/spiritual levels.
Lichtenberg applied this intensively
interpretative method to his Hogarth Commentaries,
adapting his explications to the sophisticated
emblematic methods of the comic-serious and satiric
genres of the enlightenment, which parabolized
general truth in individual incident, and therefore
habitually worked with multi-meaningful
implications.9
When the Nightwatches are placed and analyzed
within this generic framework, they will be viewed as
a tightly structured text in which each detail is
deliberately manipulated to demonstrate the confusion
and limitations of life, the closeness of sanity and
insanity, and the inconclusiveness of even the most
budding arbours and angles" (p. 33).
9 The technique is epitomized by a remark to
Plate III of The Harlot/s Progress: "Here furniture
has to explain personalities." Promies III, p. 758.

381
advanced and profound human arguments.10 The reader
is left with unanswered and, if Kant can be trusted,
unanswerable ultimate questions, to which he should
ideally react with his own responses, for if he
expects to be redeemed in the mystico-religious sense
of Bóhme, he must be prepared to take his own cross
willingly upon himself.
That Kreuzgang has done so is shown by his name.
It means calvary, the walk towards suffering and
death. Willful substitution of this variant for his
original name, Kreuzweg, signifies acceptance of
Bohme's mystical commitment. Both names are
ambivalent, and like the nightwatchman's allegorical
genealogy expressive of the complex paradoxes in
human nature. Kreuzgang stands also for cloister, a
place of spiritual rest and contemplation. Kreuzweg,
crossroad, is a position where everything converges
and departs. In this sense it is used by Sophocles,
when Oedipus meets his fate and kills his father at a
crossroad. In folklore, it is also the meeting place
10 Eccl., e.g. II, 19: "And who knoweth whether
he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have
rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and
wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun.
This is also vanity."

382
of spirits, both benevolent and—more commonly—
evil.11
Rudolf Haym's evaluation of the Niahtvatches as
one of the most fascinating works of the romantic
epoch illustrates that Bonaventura's work still
exerts its challenge, but that profound changes in
perception, intention, and motivation took place when
the age of enlightenment turned into the romantic
epoch. Words began to communicate different
intentions; satiric critique of prevailing conditions
was swept aside by vehemently expressed hopes for an
idealized future, and the artist transformed himself
from a didactic mentor with the ambition to instruct
while he entertained, into a creative prodigy
overflowing with innate genius, superior to the rest
of mankind, and set apart from it.
That the Nicrhtwatches allow varied
interpretations and respond to approaches from
successive epochs in different ways is a measure of
their author's exceptional intellect and brilliance.
He achieved the depth and sparkle of his imagery by
overlaying his images with all the available thoughts
and comments of important previous thinkers, then
11 Báchtold-Stáubli,
deutschen Aberalaubens.
Handwórterbuch des

383
fusing them in Lichtenberg's manner under the intense
heat of his own scrutiny.
He succeeded in explaining the difficult and
profound in easily accessible parabolic metaphors,
and by infusing the commonplaces of his time with
startling significance, though his intense economy of
style and metaphor acts frequently as an initial
impediment to understanding. As long as the problems
of man's ultimate destination remain unresolved, and
the Tragedy; Man—the selfish mis-use of man's mental
gifts—is still performed on the great stage of this
world, the ideas which he communicated to posterity
are worthy of serious consideration. They deserve
also a prominent place in the history of ideas, as a
window into a former age, and as witness to one of
the most important literary and philosophical
movements in modern Western thought, the ongoing and
mutually invigorating exchange between England and
Germany.

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
A. J. Dietlinde Katritzky was born as the
daughter of Dr. Friedrich Kilian and Renate, née
Vocke, in Ansbach, Germany, in 1928. She attended
schools in Obernburg am Main (1934-38), Aschaffenburg
am Main (1938), and Munich (1939-47), and studied at
the University of Munich from 1947-1952. She
interrupted her studies in 1950 to visit England
where she obtained the Cambridge Efficiency Diploma
in English. After the Staatsexamen in History,
English and German, she married in 1952 Alan R.
Katritzky, then a research student in chemistry in
Oxford, England, and since August 1980 Kenan
Professor of Chemistry at the University of Florida.
They lived in Oxford, Cambridge and Norwich (England)
where they raised four children.
In August 1982 she became a full time teaching
assistant and graduate student in the Department of
Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures at the
University of Florida, where she was offered a
visiting lecturership in 1985, after obtaining the
degree of Master of Arts in 1984.
397

398
In August 1984 she was accepted as a graduate
student by the Department of English at the
University of Florida and entered the fascinating
world of English eighteenth-century enlightenment and
satire with a course by Dr. Brian R. McCrea.

I certify that I have read this study and that
in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of
scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in
scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree
of Doctor of Philosophy.
Brian R. McCrea, Chairman
Associate Professor of
English
I certify that I have read this study and that
in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of
scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in
scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree
of Doctor of Philosophy.
I certify that I have read this study and that
in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of
scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in
scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree
of Doctor of Philosophy.
Alistair M. Duckworth
Professor of English

I certify that I have read this study and that
in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of
scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in
scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree
of Doctor of Philosophy.
Professor of English
I certify that I have read this study and that
in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of
scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in
scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree
of Doctor of Philosophy.
Charles F. Sidman
Professor of History
This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate
Faculty of the Department of Englisch in the College
of Liberal Arts and Sciences and to the Graduate
School and was accepted as partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
August 1988
Dean, Graduate School

,W.iy.ERSITY OF Florida
miiniwiw,
3 1262 08557 1908




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THE INFLUENCE OF THE ENGLISH EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY SATIRISTS ONG. CH. LICHTENBERG AND THE NACHTWACHEN. VON BONAVENTURA BY A. J. DIETLINDE KATRITZKY A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 1988

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Copyright 1988 by A. J. Dietlinde Katritzky

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS For this, my late second opportunity to enter academia, I am indebted to the American university system, and in particular to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Florida; to its Dean Dr. Charles F. Sidman, and to the many professors, colleagues and friends there, who have helped and encouraged me over the past seven years. My special thanks go to the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures where I started my research on Lichtenberg and the Nachtwachen in 1983 under the guidance of Dr. Christian J. Gellinek, where Dr. Hal Rennert always provided helpful advice, and where the new chairman, Dr. Alexander Stephan, gave much-appreciated counsel and backing. In 1984 I was fortunate enough to be accepted, together with my research interests, by the Department of English. I wish to express my deep gratitude to its Chairman Dr. Melvyn New, and to Dr. Richard E. Brantley, Dr. Alistair M. Duckworth, and Dr. Brian R. McCrea, not only for agreeing to serve on my committee, but also for providing me with new iii

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and valuable perspectives on my work. The interest these specialists in English eighteenth-century literature took in G. Ch. Lichtenberg was a great encouragement to my belief in the close affinity between Lichtenberg, the Nachtwachen and English satire. During my long searches for relevant links my chairman, Dr. Brian R. McCrea, gave unstintingly of his time and expertise: he patiently read numerous drafts, and always provided penetrating and constructive comments. I also thank Dr. Sidney R. Homan, Jr., for his helpful reading of my chapter on Shakespeare, and Donald Ball for drawing my attention to M. Bakhtin and his theory of the menippea. Grateful acknowledgement is due to the Lichtenberg-Gesellschaft, its Chairman Dr. Wolfgang Promies and, among other members, Dr. Peter Brix, Dr. Fritz Ebner, Dr. Hans Ludwig Gumbert, Ulrich Joost, Ors. Georg Christoph and Astrid Lichtenberg, to Otto Weber and Werner Wegmann. While not all are yet convinced by my hypothesis, everybody was most helpful and supportive. I am also indebted for valuable help in locating documents and references to Mr. N. H. Robinson, Librarian to the Royal Society of London, to Mr. iv

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Helmut Drubba, Hannover, and to Dr. Horst Fleig, Tiibingen. Dr. James A. Deyrup, who initiated me into the mysteries of word processing, and who repeatedly rescued me with remarkable patience and good humor from seemingly desperate situations, deserves special commendation. Last, not least, I thank my husband, Dr. Alan R. Katritzky, for advice and active support with research problems, and for putting up cheerfullymost of the time--with life with a graduate student. V

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TABLE OF CONTENTS ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS. . . . . . . . iii ABSTRACT vii INTRODUCTION: PROBLEM AND PROPOSAL........... 1 CHAPTERS I. GEORG CHRISTOPH LICHTENBERG: HIS LIBRARY AND READING 18 II. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (1564-1616) IN AN EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY CONTEXT 58 III. WILLIAM HOGARTH (1697-1764) AND VISUAL CONCEPTION IN THE NIGHTWATCHES ......... 94 IV. ROBERT BURTON (1577-1640) AND THE SATIRIC TRADITION OF ENGLISH LITERATURE IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY ... 128 V. JONATHAN SWIFT (1667-1745) AND THE SATIRIC TECHNIQUES OF LICHTENBERG AND BONAVENTURA ......... 162 VI. ALEXANDER POPE (1688-1744) AND THE SCRIBLERIANS 210 VII. THE NINTH NIGHTWATCH. A DIGRESSION ON MADNESS, A DUNCIAD, AND A SATIRE ON THE SOCRATIC DIALOGUE .. 246 VIII. HENRY FIELDING (1707-54) DOUBLE VISION AND MULTIPLE PERSPECTIVES.283 IX. LAURENCE STERNE (1713-68) AND KREUZGANG'S LIFE AND OPINIONS ...... 326 CONCLUSION ......................... 373 BIBLIOGRAPHY. . . . . . 384 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. . . . . . 397 vi

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Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy THE INFLUENCE OF THE ENGLISH EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY SATIRISTS ONG. CH. LICHTENBERG AND THE NACHTWACHEN. VON BONAVENTURA By A. J. Dietlinde Katritzky August 1988 Chairman: Brian R. McCrea Major Department: English In 1804 the Nachtwachen. Von Bonaventura was published anonymously in Germany. Hardly noticed at first, the slender volume has attracted increasing acclaim and critical attention. Uneasily assigned to the romantic period, it was attributed to a large number of possible, and often mutually incompatible authors alive and active in 1804. striking parallels exist, however, between Bonaventura and G. Ch. Lichtenberg' s variously and extensively documented thought processes. If attributed to Lichtenberg (1742-99), and analysed from the viewpoint of his literary values and habits, the penumbral world of the Nachtwachen is illuminated by the enlightened concerns of the eighteenth century, and in turn reflects German and English intellectual life and development during that period. vii

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Lichtenberg was an active participator and catalyst in this important cultural interchange, and his appreciation of contemporary English literature was based on a thorough knowledge of the English tradition. In this study I attempt to demonstrate that Bonaventura shared this background. Comparison with the English eighteenth-century satirists shows that the Nachtwachen are a menippea, a sub-species of the satire, which evolved in antiquity from the Socratic tradition. While satire is mainly concerned with criticism of present conditions, menippean satire refrains from attacking singular events or particular situations, and questions basic problems. It deals with life in the universal sense, its proper conduct, ultimate eschatological consequences. purpose and The menippea can therefore be defined as serio-comic summary of mankind's philosophical achievement, and as such was particularly congenial to the Age of Enlightenment. To reflect the human condition in its entirety, the menippea incorporates extremes which range in style from formal rhetoric to vulgarisms, and in subject matter from the absurd and distorted to the sublime, and Lichtenberg, a leading German anglophile and the most accomplished satirist of his time, viii

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perfected his skills by studying English models, especially swift, Pope, Fielding, and Sterne. The primary aim of viewing the Nachtwachen through his perspective is not to establish the true identity of Bonaventura, but to arrive at a valid interpretation of his intricate, multi-meaningful, and exceedingly condensed text, and its significance in the context of the late eighteenth century. ix

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INTRODUCTION: PROBLEM AND PROPOSAL. One of the most controversial books in German literature are the Nachtwachen. Von Bonaventura. This work appeared anonymously in 1804 in the publishing house of Ferdinand Dienemann in Penig, Saxony, a firm which specialized in novels, mainly of a trivial and ephemeral nature. 1 Established in 1802, the business went already bankrupt in 1806 during the upheavals of the Napoleonic Wars, when all its stock and documents were dispersed and lost. Initially the Nightwatches was hardly noticed. The only documented contemporary reaction is a letter by the novelist Jean Paul (1763-1825). 2 He suggests that Friedrich Wilhelm Schelling (1775-1854) must be 1 Nachtwachen. Von Bonaventura is the original title. As it is ambiguous, many different versions are in use. Unless these are quoted, I refer to the work as Nightwatches, because the page numbers given in this study are taken from the English version in Die Nachtwachen des Bonaventura: The Night Watches of Bonaventura. Edinburgh Bilingual Library. Transl. and intr. Gerald Gillespie (Austin: University of Texas Press), 1971. 2 Letter by Jean Paul to Paul Thierot, dated January 14, 1805. Cited by Wolfgang Paulsen, ed., Bonaventura. Nachtwachen (Stuttgart: Reclam, 1984), pp. 162-63. 1

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hiding behind the pseudonym Bonaventura, becauseSchelling had used it previously to publish a poem in the Athenaum. Jean Paul also draws attention to Bonaventura' s indebtedness to his own style and manner. The assumed authorship of Schelling remained unchallenged until 1903, when the critic Wilhelm Dilthey declared that it was not possible for Schelling to have written the book. 3 Since then scholars have proposed many names without resolving the controversy for long. Among the most famous of these are E.T.A. Hoffmann, Clemens Brentano, and recently Jean Paul himself. Many minor and even obscure literary figures were also seriously considered. 4 3 Paulsen, p. 165. 4 The following works refer particularly to these authors: Rudolf Haym, Die Romantische Schule. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des deutschen Geistes (Berlin: Weidmannsche Buchhandlung, 1870). A foot note calls the Nightwatches without doubt one of the most ingenious productions of Romanticism (p. 636). Haym connects E. T. A. Hoffmann for the first time with Bopnaventura, but finds influences of Jean Paul, too, who is now also suggested by Andreas Mielke, Zeitgenosse Bonaventura (Diss., Yale University, 1981). Erich Frank proposed Brentano as author and published the book as: Clemens Brentano: Nachtwachen von Bonaventura. Ed. and intr. Erich Frank (Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 1912). E.T. A. Hoffmann has again been proposed by Rosemarie Hunter-Lougheed, Die Nachtwachen von Bonaventura: e. Fruhwerk E.T.A. Hoffmanns? (Heidelberg: Winter, 1985) This work contains an up-dated and extensive survey of the publishing 2

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First of these was Caroline Schlegel-Schelling, the daughter of the Gottingen Professor of Oriental Languages, Johann David Michaelis (1717-91). Hermann Michel proposed her in 1904 as co-authoress with her husband. 5 In Schelling's persistent silence regarding the authorship, Michel saw an overriding desire to avoid any further embarrassment after the controversies in which marriage with the divorced wife of August Wilhelm Schlegel (1767-1845) had embroiled him. This judgement was partly based on the vehement and controversial opinions to which the nightwatchman gives voice, but more so on his unsqueamish references to illicit love and body functions. Among other candidates Friedrich Gottlob Wetzel (1779-1819) was promoted because he wrote a poem in which he related mind and stomach in ways similar to history of the Nightwatches and of most of the assumed authors in Chapter I, 1: "Rezeptionsund Forschungsgeschichte", pp. 13-45. Among recent summaries: Gerhart Hoffmeister. "Bonaventura: Nachtwachen (1804/05)." Romane und Erzahlungen der deutschen Romantik: Neue Interpretationen (Stuttgart: Reclam, 1981), pp. 194-212; Jeffrey L. Sammons, "In Search of Bonaventura: The Nachtwachen Riddle 19651985." The Germanic Review, LXI, 2, 1986, pp. 50-56; Ruth Haag. "Noch einmal: Der Verfasser der Nachtwachen von Bonaventura". Euphorion, LXXXI, 3, 1987, pp. 286-97. 5 Nachtwachen von Bonaventura. Intr. Hermann Michel. Deutsche Li teraturdenkmale des 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts. Vol. 133 (Berlin: Behrs, 1904; rpt. Liechtenstein: Kraus, 1968). 3

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Bonaventura. 6 owing to his general obscurity his claims were hard to disprove. They were only seriously challenged when Jost Schillemei t proposed Ernst August Friedrich Klingemann (1777-1831), an able dramatic producer, but a writer of limited talents. 7 The hypothesis raised many doubts, but stimulated a wave of renewed interest in the elusive Bonaventura. Independently Horst Fleig had also arrived at the conclusion that Klingemann and Bonaventura were identical. 8 The mere fact that a reasonable and, at least in part, convincing case can be made for each of these "authors" as well as for many others, testifies to the unusual depth and diversity of this extraordinary book, and confirms the claim of its protagonist to be a representative of mankind (" ... me, who am called man," p. 167). This diversity is further revealed by the incompatible and divergent ways in which literary 6 Die Nachtwachen des Bonaventura. Ed. and postscr. Franz Schulz (Leipzig: Insel, 1909), pp. 154-59. 7 Jost Schillemeit, Bonaventura. Der Verfasser der "Nachtwachen" (Miinchen: Beck, 1973). 8 Horst Fleig, Zersprungene Identitat. Klingemann-Nachtwachen von Bonaventura) (Tiibingen: Rohmanuskript Promotion, 1974), and Literarischer Vampirismus: Klingemanns 'Nachtwachen von Bonaventura'. Studien zur deutschen Literatur, Vol. 83 (Tiibingen: Niemeyer, 1985). 4

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critics tend to view the slender volume. The Nightwatches has been interpreted as a trivial novel, as the autobiographical relevations of a failed poet, and as a dazzling work of genius compared to which the Faust of Goethe and Byron pales. 9 The assignation to trivial literature accords with the profile of the Dienemann publishing house, but hardly with the nature of the work. It is characterized by frequent shifts in style, mood and time, digressions which are thematically but not structurally integrated, satirical ambiguities and difficult philosophical allusions. All these stand in opposition to the generic requirements of the trivial novel, which call for clear and consecutive narration, a conventional and predictable plot, undemanding vocabulary, uncontroversial opinions and a satisfying conclusion. Most critics have balanced their assessment of the book. They acknowledge flashes of brilliance, but pronounce the whole uneven, capricious and rather 9 Franz Heiduk, "Bonaventuras 'Nachtwachen'. Erste Bemerkungen zum Ort der Handlung und zur Frage nach dem Verfasser." Aurora. Jahrbuch der Eichendorff-Gesellschaft, XXXXI, (1982), pp. 143-165. This highly favorable opinion was given by Ernst von Lasaulx in a letter to Joseph Gorres of March 28, 1831. Often quoted, e.g. Hunter Lougheed, p. 20. 5

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reckless 1 From such judgements grew the conviction that the book must have been written by a person of great promise in his unrestrained youth. Further problems are presented by the genre. The Nightwatches has been reluctantly classified as a novel. 11 Jeffrey Sammons, however, drew attention to the work's structure, which is so sophisticated that it escapes the notice of the reader whose expectations are conditioned by conventional novels. Sammons discovered five interconnected narrative cycles within the framework of the Sixteen Nightwatches in which the nightwatchman Kreuzgang relates his thoughts and adventures. 12 These unconventional numbers led Rita Terras to interpret the structure of the Nightwatches as a homage to lO Jean Paul's judgement initiated this approach. It was followed by Karl August Ludwig Varnhagen von Ense who wrote into his diary on August 17th, 1843 that he had read the novel by Schelling. His criticism was strongly tinged by his antagonism to the presumed author. He found the book "immature, arbitrary, unorganic, also talented, glittering and full of promise, and no lack of cheek. Altogether, however, an incredibly weak production and too insignificant for Schelling." (Quotations from German sources are translated by Linde Katritzky, unless otherwise stated) Varnhagen' s letter is quoted in most of the secondary literature on Bonaventura, e.g. Hunter-Lougheed, p. 23. 11 Paulsen, p. 180: "Whoever was Bonaventura, he must have been a young man ... ", pp. 172-73. 12 Jeffrey L. Sammons, The Nachtwachen von Bonaventura. A Structural Interpretation (The Hague: Mouton & Co., 1965). 6

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Juvenal, whose sixteen satires are divided into five books.13 The implications of her ingenious inference were never seriously pursued, mainly because the Nightwatches has always been judged within the context of German Romanticism which did not favor satire as a genre. The nightwatchman himself, however, uses the word "satire" and its derivatives repeatedly, and calls himself at the beginning of his first round a "satirical Stentor" (p. 31). The metonymic use of the Homeric hero, whose voice equalled that of fifty others, emphatically and unequivocally identifies Kreuzgang as a satirist, but is atypical for a German romantic protagonist. Nevertheless, valid reasons exist for an allocation of the work to the romantic period apart from the date of publication. Many of the concerns in the Nightwatches are identical with romantic themes or at least close to them. Comparison with English satirists will show, however, that these romantic leitmotife could derive from the tradition of menippean satire as well. The book contains references to Dr. Erasmus Darwin and the London clockmaker Samuel Day on both of whom articles 13 Rita Terras, "Juvenal und die satirische Struktur der 'Nachtwachen van Bonaventura'." German Quarterly, LII, (1979), pp. 18-31. 7

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appeared in Germany in 1804. 14 Consequently it was taken for granted that the work could not have been written prior to these publications, and that Bonaventura must be an author active during 1804. This thesis attempts to demonstrate: 1) that the Nightwatches are a menippean satire written in the tradition of eighteenth-century British literature, particularly that of Swift, but softened by the feeling which Addison, Johnson, and especially Fielding added to the genre, and by the sentiment contributed by Sterne; 14 The journal Der Freimuthige carried a supplement on "English Literature" on March 2nd, 1804, which contained information about Erasmus Darwin's The Temple of Nature. Though Darwin's Temple of Nature appeared posthumously in 1803, the two aspects of it which are used in the Nightwatches were favorite ideas of Dr. Darwin and are mentioned in both his previous major works, The Botanic Garden (1789) and Zoonomia (1794-96), see Linde Katritzky, "Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, F.R.S." Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, XXXIX, Nr. 1, 1984, pp.41-49. Another supplement which also appeared at the beginning of March described the night clock by Samuel Day, to which a footnote in the Nightwatches refers at the end of the Sixth Nightwatch, see Schillemeit, p. 72. An anonymous article about the same clock is also in the Magazin aller neuen Erfindungen, Entdeckunaen und Verbesserungen, IV (Leipzig: Baumgartnerische Buchhandlung, n.d.). Hermann Michel, p. xvi, assumes that the year of publication is 1804. For connections between Darwin and the Lunar Society with this clock see Adrien Burchall, "The Noctuary or Watchman's Clock: Its Introduction and Development." Antiquarian Horology. Proceedings of the Antiquarian Horological Society, XV, Nr. 3, 1985, pp. 231-51. 8

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2) that the book is not the result of impetuous inspiration but designed with unusual complexity and profundity; it reveals exceptional erudition, and is grounded in wide reading which includes English literature and philosophy of the eighteenth century; 3) that the text accords with the opinions and the range of learning of the acknowleged master of German satire, Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742-99), one of the prominent representatives of the late Enlightenment and a leading German Anglophile. 15 An assignment of the Nightwatches to the late Enlightenment should also lead to a better understanding of the interaction between the German classic and romantic literary movements, and strengthen the conclusions of Anglo-American literary criticism that the differences between these two epochs are not as distinct as has been traditionally maintained in German literary history 16 Proposing the Anglophile, enlightened thinker Lichtenberg as the probable author of the enigmatic Nightwatches 15 These chronological problems are discussed in Linde Katritzky, "Eine Untersuchung der Eigennamen in den Nachtwachen von Bonaventura und bei Georg Christoph Lichtenberg." Thesis for the Degree of Master of Arts, Gainesville: University of Florida, 1984; pp. 38-49. 16 E.g. M. H. Abrams, The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1953). 9

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should therefore imply that the literary habits and the scientific thinking of eighteenth-century England played a considerable part in the origins of German romanticism. It is hoped that this thesis may contribute toward clarifying some of these issues, though it will deal primarily with the relationship of the Nightwatches with English satirists of the eighteenth century. As Bonaventura' s text is woven from an unusual wealth of material, and infused with allusions and associations gathered from the entire range of European eighteenth-century experience, I cannot hope to deal with the full extent of the implications, ambiguities and coded references. I follow Northrop Frye in considering this exceptional richness and variety not as incidental embellishment, but as one of the generic characteristics of menippean satire. Frye describes this sub-genre as "a combination of fantasy and morality" and defines "creative treatment of exhaustive erudition" as its organizing principle. He sees Plato as "a strong influence on this type 11 1 7 17 Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism (1957; Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973), 3rd. paperb. ed., pp. 310-11. It is worth noting that Plato's theories are quoted in the Nightwatches (p. 37). The thought is repeated without mention of Plato on pp. 123, 213. 10

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In his Anatomy of Satire Gilbert Highet sees Bion Borysthenes, a follower of the Socratic tradition, as the true originator of what became known as the Menippean satire, for he was the "first to dress philosophy in the flowery clothes of a prostitute." By this is meant that he was the first, or at least the first who is known, who explained important philosophical problems in the crude terms which could be readily understood even by the lowest and most illiterate. Bion, a freed slave who was born around 325 B.C., thus spread the achievements of Greek philosophy among the uneducated, who could profit from them though they were unable to deal with abstract concepts.18 This combination of profound thoughts with the free discussion of those aspects of life which are usually avoided in polite society became one of the distinguishing characteristics of the menippea. These were carefully categorised in a penetrating study of the genre by Mikhail Bakhtin.1 9 18 Gilbert Highet, The Anatomv (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 31-32. He of Satire 1962) pp. 19 Mikhail Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics. Ed. and transl. Caryl Emerson (1984; Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1986). Chap. IV, "Characteristics of Genre and Plot Composition in Dostoevsky's Works", p. 101-80, esp. p. 112-19. Bakhtin's work appeared first with the title Problems of Dostoevsky's Art, Leningrad, 1928. It was expanded 11

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credits Bion Borysthenes with first mingling philosophy with "crude slum naturalism," (Problems, p. 115) and enumerates fourteen particular characteristics of the menippean satire, noting especially its free interplay of opposite features: fact and fantasy; the serious and the comic; philosophical universalism and trivialities; wisdom, absurdity and insanity. "All sorts of violations of the generally accepted and customary course of events and the established norms of behaviour and etiquette" are classified as part of the menippean concern to unmask the deceiving appearances of life and to get closer to ultimate truth (Problems, p. 117). "Sharp contrasts and oxymoronic combinations . abrupt transitions and . wide use of inserted genres: novellas, letters, oratorial speeches, symposia, and so on", widen the scope of the menippea to involve the full paradox of life (Problems, p. 118). Bakhtin calls the levels traditionally explored by the menippea: "Olympus, the nether world, and earth" (Problems, p. 133). Every part of the menippea serves as "moral experimentation'' (Problems, p. 152), which is the connecting principle of the genre. The frequent flights into fantasy and the "creation of for a second edition, Moscow, 1963, and did not become available to the West until twenty years later. 12

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extraordinary situations" are therefore not subject to whim, but are carefully designed to serve "as a mode for searching after truth, provoking it, and, most important, testing it." Thus "the fantastic is subordinated to the purely ideational function," (Problems, p. 114) and the possibilities of human experience in every extreme are invoked in a quest for the essence and purpose of life. This search is also the motivation of Kreuzgang, Bonaventura's protagonist, and the organizing principle of his sixteen nightwatches. In regard to this unlimited variety of subject matter Bahktin remarks that "while possessing an inner integrity, the genre of the menippea simultaneously possesses great external plasticity and a remarkable capacity to absorb into itself kindred small genres, and to penetrate as a component element into other large genres" (Problem, p. 119). This loosely connected narrative form is operative throughout the Nightwatches and was supposedly practised by the Greek cynic Menippus. His works have not survived, but among his followers were the Greek Lucian and the Roman Varro, and later Petronius and Apuleius. At first the genre used a mixture of prose and verse, and for this reason a French collection of political satires which appeared 13

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anonymously in 1594 took the title Satire Menippee, for it used a medley of styles and languages. As the menippea brings together different elements which are taken from a large variety of other genres, it is not very stable and has no pure form. It "has baffled critics, and there is hardly any fiction writer deeply influenced by it who has not been accused of disorderly conduct." 20 Precisely this accusation, levelled against the early work of Dostoevsky, led Bakhtin to investigate Dostoevsky's poetics, to define the genre and to detect the pattern of intellectual purpose and structural organisation. His conclusions apply also in remarkable degree to the Nightwatches, a work which has likewise attracted a large share of criticism for nonconformity to the generic demands of the novel. 21 Similarities between Dostoevsky's early work and the Nightwatches have already been noted by Rado Pribic in his study, Bonaventura's "Nachtwachen" and Dostoevsky's "Notes from the Underground. Pribic calls this: "A Comparison in Nihilism," and 20 Frye, p. 313. 21 E.g. Jeffrey L. Sammons, "In Search of Bonaventura: The Nachtwachen Riddle 1965-85." The Germanic Review, LXI, Nr. 2, 1986, p. 50: failures of coherence not only indicate haste in composition but make me doubt that the book was written by a major author of the time." 14

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interprets both the Nightwatches and the Notes from the Underground from this perspective. He gives a plausible explanation why Dostoevsky could have been familiar with the German work, of which many copies were left unsold in St. Petersburg, when Dienemann collapsed in 1806.22 The author of the Nightwatches has deliberately structured his text as a menippea. Numerous references indicate intentional adherence to its standards. Comparison with English eighteenthcentury satire shows that he followed the examples of Swift, Fielding, Sterne and others. The Nightwatches also reveals its author to be well aquainted with German thought. Echoes of Lessing's work are particularly noticeable, especially the "69. Stuck" of the "Hamburgische Dramaturgie. 112 3 Conscious choice of genre is an eighteenth century attitude and one of the conventions and restrictions which the Sturm und Orang in Germany tried to sweep away, and against which the romantic writers also revolted. It is therefore a 22 Rado Pribic, Bonaventura's "Nachtwachen" and Dostoevsky's "Notes from the Underground." A Comparison in Nihilism. Slavistische Beitrage, Vol. 79 (Munchen: Otto Sagner, 1974), p. 10. 23 Gotthold Ephraim Lessings samtliche Schriften. Ed. Karl Lachmann {1894; rpt. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1968), Vol. 10, "Hamburgische Dramaturgie, '69. stuck'," pp. 76-80. 15

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characteristic which sets the author of the from these literary movements. Nightwatches Nevertheless apart the romantic period Bakhtin was rich in menippean especially elements which, prominent and as influential notes, in were E.T.A. Hoffmann (Problems, p. 155). An investigation of the Nightwatches reveals the English contribution to this development, and shows that the paradox of the exceptional originality of this work, within a crowded reference system of constantly recalled literary works of outstanding merit, was achieved in accordance with Edward Young's prescript on how to imitate the masters properly: "Let us be as far from neglecting, as from copying, their admirable compositions." This aspect of Young's conjectures on originality was brushed aside by the German enthusiasts who only followed Young in extolling the merits of genius. Bonaventura, however, as did Lichtenberg, also listened to Young's further advice: "It is by a sort of noble contagion, from a general familiarity with their writings, and not by any particular sordid theft, that we can be the better for those who went before us. Like Lichtenberg after him, Young also stressed the importance of imitating methods, which are of universal importance, 16

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rather than works, which are relevant to conditions of the past. Thus he pointed out: "He that imitates the divine Iliad, does not imitate Homer; but he who takes the same method, which Homer took, for arriving at a capacity of accomplishing a work so great. 1124 Bonaventura, like the German writers of the Storm and Stress, and of the romantic period, disdained imitation of previous texts, but unlike these contemporaries did not reject the past, but studied the methods and aims of outstanding previous writers in depth. This thesis traces the influence of the English eighteenth-century satirists on his text, and also attempts to demonstrate that Bonaventura, in taking their methods, also studied the sources of their inspiration. 24 Edward Young, "Conjectures on Original Composition." Critical Theory since Plato. Ed. Hazard Adams (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1971), pp. 340-341. 17

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CHAPTER I GEORG CHRISTOPH LICHTENBERG: HIS LIBRARY AND READING. Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, whose patterns of thought show striking parallels to those of Bonaventura, was born in 1742 in Ober-Ramstadt, a small town near Darmstadt. He was the seventeenth and last child of a Lutheran pastor who came from a family with a strong pietistic tradition. Such views were favored by the court in Darmstadt at the time and in 1750 Konrad Lichtenberg was therefore appointed Superintendent of Church affairs for the principality. He died, however, the following year, leaving his widow in straitened circumstances. From early youth his youngest son suffered from a spinal weakness which eventually dwarfed and crippled him. A natural liveliness and inclination to socialize notwithstanding, this handicap imposed on him the position of an outsider, and as such he developed and perfected his unusually keen gifts as an observer. His talents were fostered at the Grammar School in Darmstadt. He left in 1761 with an excellent record, but had to wait until 1763 before he could 18

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19 enter the university in Gottingen, for he was dependent on a stipend from his sovereign, which could only be obtained with difficulty. How he spent the intervening years can be surmised from a letter he wrote to Johann Arnold Ebert (1723-95) in 1794. He calls him his teacher of thirty-three years ago and recalls the endless nocturnal hours he was then devoting to Young's Night Thoughts, a work which Ebert had vigorously promoted and translated several times. 1 Lichtenberg developed and maintained a close relationship with the man from whose work he had profited in his autodidactic efforts to acquire a knowledge of English and England. Ebert played a prominent part in the change of German cultural orientation from France to England at a time when French was still the leading foreign language in Germany. English literature was mainly known through French mediation, notably by Voltaire, whose Letters Philosophigues (1734) first aroused continental interest in English affairs, and by Diderot. Ebert was himself a minor poet, and John Louis Kind gives him much credit for subordinating his own creativity 1 Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Schriften und Briefe, 5 vols. Ed. Wolfgang Promies. Vol. IV, Briefe (Miinchen: Hanser: 1967), p. 893, Letter to Johann Arnold Ebert, July 31, 1794.

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20 to the promotion of English writers, especially Edward Young (1683-1765). While his own work received little notice, "all contemporary writers, commentators, and periodicals join in the universal acclamation and praise over the zeal, scholarship, and merit of the 'foremost and greatest English scholar and genius', the translator of the 'Night Thoughts'" From 1751 onwards, Ebert published translations of the "Night Thoughts," as well as of Young's other works, and he revised them until the year before his death. Kind calls him "one of the ablest German translators of English writers in the eighteenth century." Ebert "devoted the best part of his life to the works of Young, learned English early and read all the foremost British authors in the original." While he ardently admired Young, he also saw his weaknesses, and the merits of Young's fellow countrymen.2 Ebert had belonged to a group of young Leipzig students who had gathered round Christian Furchtegott Gellert (1715-1769), one of the leading literary figures of the German enlightenment. They became 2 John Louis Kind, Edward Young in Germany (New York: AMS Press, 1966), p. 82. (Quotations are documented at the end of the relevant passage.)

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21 interested in eighteenth-century English literature, which they originally studied in French translations, and they contributed to a journal inspired by Addison's example, the Neue Beytrage zum Vergnugen des Verstandes und des Witzes, usually called the Bremer Beytrage. The journal flourished from 17 4 51748 and showed a strong interest in English literature, introducing, for instance, the works of Prior, Glover and Thomson to German readers. T he contributors admired Pope and swift, and adopted the organization of the Scriblerus Club. They met in a Leipzig coffee house and cooperated on unsigned articles. 3 To this circle belonged also men of such distinction as Klopstock, Lessing and his cousin Christlob Mylius, the brothers Johann Elias and Johann Adolf Schlegel, and Gotthelf Abraham Kastner (1719-1800), first Lichtenberg's professor and then his colleague in Gottingen. Kastner was as celebrated for his satiric epigrams as for his brilliance in mathematics, and Lichtenberg's personal acquaintance with leading members of this group of distinguished Anglophiles, such as Lessing and Klopstock, appears to be due to Kastner. 3 Leonard Marsden Price, Germany (Berkeley: University 1953), p. 59. English Literature i n of California Press,

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22 Ebert had originally planned to translate all the most important English works, but, starting with the first seven "Nights" of Young, he soon found his energies fully absorbed in the task "of translating, annotating, and expounding from his chair in Braunschweig the works of Young alone. 114 Lichtenberg developed a specially close bond to this thorough scholar, and kept up a lifelong exchange of ideas with him. The easy familiarity with English literature, which Lichtenberg had already acquired when he started his notebooks in 1764, prepared him perfectly for the life in Gottingen, to which he came as a student of mathematics and astronomy in 1763. With the exception of two visits to England and several minor excursions in Germany, he remained there for the rest of his life. The University of Gottingen had been founded 1734-37 by King George II, who was also the Elector of Hanover, and thus the new seat of learning was destined from the start to become a particularly active center of Anglo-German cultural exchange. The exceptionally liberal conditions which the absent ruler had created for his new institution attracted many of the brightest scholars, both as teachers and students. A constant influx of young 4 Price, English Literature in Germany, p. 115.

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23 Englishmen, eager to finish their education in their sovereign's foreign domain, ensured continuing contact with the latest intellectual developments in England. Lichtenberg visited England for the first time in 1770 as a guest of Lord Boston, the influential father of one of his earliest students, and was introduced by him not only to the social and intellectual leaders of London society, among them Joseph Priestley, but also to the king himself. As a result of this meeting, Lichtenberg came to London again in 1774, this time the personal guest of King George III and Queen Charlotte in their royal palace at Kew. 5 Lichtenberg freely shared his impressions from this journey in lively communications which were widely read already during his own lifetime, for even in an age in which letter writing had been perfected as an art he was acclaimed as a correspondent of outstanding wit and brilliance. He was always attuned to the status and concerns of his addressees, ranging from Marie Tietermann, housekeeper of the Osnabruck inn at which he stayed during 1772/73 while surveying 5 Hans Ludwig Gumbert, "Der 22.April 1770." Das Lichtenberg-Gesprach in Ober-Ramstadt 1977. Ed. Otto Weber (Ober-Ramstadt: Verein fur Heimatgeschichte e.v., 1982), pp. 5-16.

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24 the country in the service of the king, to leading scientists and high officials. His letters display not only his stylistic versatility, but also afford a particularly comprehensive overview of the concerns of his times, traits in which Bonaventura, too, displays particular competence. To keep abreast of current issues and affairs was one of Lichtenbergs foremost aims, for he followed his own advice "Bemfthe dich. nicht unter deiner Zeit zu sein. n 6 His keen observations, deeply reflected experiences and penetrating opinions are also preserved in his writings on a large number of subjects, and in his voluminous private notes, started in 1764, which record his intellectual pursuits. All these give insight into one of the leading minds of the late enlightenment and into the interchange of ideas which shaped the epoch. The extent to which Lichtenberg contributed to the intellectual and scientific 6 Promies, Vol. I, p. 302, D 474. Lichtenberg's posthumously published notes, his so-called aphorisms, are numbered according to the letters assigned by himself to his notebooks. The individual notes were given consecutive numbers by A. Leitzmann in 1902, who, however, omitted many of the notes which were considered of minor importance at the time, especially those with scientific content. Promies published the entire notes for the first time, and though he retained Leitzmann's system, he he had to change the numbers. All quotations conform to his usage.

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25 concerns of his age is only now revealed by recent editions of his entire works. 7 Access to this material has resulted in a growing awareness of the importance and topical relevance of Lichtenberg' s thoughts, which is also reflected in the publication of the contents of his library. 8 Though their variety is impressive, the large number of books Lichtenberg owned at his death is by no means indicative of all his reading. Only Hesperus by Jean Paul (No. 1614) is listed, for instance, while notebook entries show that Lichtenberg knew and critically appraised all the works of this writer which appeared during his own life time (L 87, L 514, L 581, L 592, L 615) 9 7 Besides the authoritative Promies ed. (196874) there is Georg Christoph Lichtenberg. Schriften und Briefe, 4 vols. Ed. Franz H. Mautner (Frankfurt: Insel, 1983); Briefwechsel. Ed. Ulrich Joost and Albrecht Schone (Munchen: c. H. Beck), Vol. I, 1983, Vol. II, 1985. The planned 5 vols. will bring together the 1650 letters still known to exist. (Previously 1215 of Lichtenberg's letters were printed in 65 different publications, Vol. I, p. XV). The documents concerning the two visits to England are found in Lichtenberg in England. Dokumente einer Begegnung, 2 vols. Ed. Hans Ludwig Gumbert (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1977). 8 Bibliotheca Lichtenbergiana. Katalog der Bibliothek Georg Christoph Lichtenbergs. Ed. and ann. Hans Ludwig Gumbert (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowi tz, 1982). Nos. in the text follow Gumbert. 9 Lichtenberg' s notebook entries are numbered in chronological order, the letters denoting his diaries. I quote according to Promies, Vols. I and II.

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26 Much similar proof of Lichtenberg' s critically astute and wide-ranging reading exists. Only a few selected examples, which throw special light on his interests and habits, can therefore be given in this preliminary survey, but more information from the Bibliotheca Lichtenbergiana will be provided in following chapters. In view of the remarkable overlap with the concerns of Bonaventura, it is noteworthy that Lichtenberg kept his library up to date until shortly before his death on February 24th, 1799, in spite of his rapidly declining health. Investigation of the proper names in the Nightwatches has correspondingly shown that Bonaventura uses up-to date information until 1798, with a particular concentration of remarks and allusions connected to scientific progress made during the last decade of the century.lo The four decisive centers of English influence on German letters during the eighteenth century were Hamburg, Zurich, Leipzig and Gottinge, 11 and Lichtenberg was personally involved with events in all of them. In Gottingen he was himself the leading lO Katritzky, "Untersuchung der Eigennamen," pp. 32-76. 11 Leonard Marsden Price, Literary Influences {Berkeley: California Press, 1919), pp. 159-61. English>German University of

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27 Anglophile, and close to many of the intellectual leaders who emerged from the Leipzig circle, though he kept modestly quiet about his prestigious connections. Only one sentence in a letter of July 31st, 1794, relates Young's and Ebert's lasting impression on Lichtenberg's mind, 12 and a single, tantalizingly terse note witnesses to his only recorded meeting with Lessing, on March 8th, 1777: "Lessing called" (F 406). Such glimpses have to be supplemented with information gleaned from other sources. In Lessing's case many remarks reveal a high regard, which shows itself also in efforts to find a befitting epitaph for a genius who was so greatly neglected and ill rewarded for his great contributions to German letters (J 239 and 313). Lichtenberg was well versed in Lessing's works and owned several, among them Ernst and Falk. Discussions for Freemasons ( 1778) On August 31st, 1778, he reported to Heinrich Christian Boie that he had read the manuscript of this treatise, which he called one of the best works he had seen in a long time, adding that if freemasons are the people described by Lessing it must be a sin 12 Promies, Vol. IV, No. 665. An Johann Arnold Ebert, p. 893.

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28 against human nature not to be counted among them. 13 This positive view of freethinkers is shared by Bonaventura. 14 The first three of the discussions between Ernst und Falk had been published by Johann Christian Dieterich (1722-1800), Lichtenberg's friend and landlord, whose connections with men of letters extended and reinforced Lichtenberg's own contacts. Two volumes of Lessing's Hamburgische Dramaturgie were also in Lichtenberg' s library. In this major work of mediation between English and German culture "Part 69 11 is concerned with serio-comic writing and starts with a reminder of the strong Spanish influences on this genre. Lessing quotes here at length from the satiric New Art of Comedy Writing, in which Lope de Vega acknowledges classic sources for the intermingling of serious and ludicrous aspects, and arrives at the conclusion: "Nature itself teaches us this diversity, and in this her beauty partly originates. 1115 In the same article Lessing also pleads in favour of the Hanswurst, the clown banned from the German stage by the strict Johann Christoph Gottsched 13 Ed. Joost, Briefwechsel, Vol. I, No. 521, p. 878. 14 Nightwatches, pp. 31-36. 15 Lessings samtliche Schriften, Vol. x, "Hamburgische Dramaturgie, '69. Stuck'," pp. 76-80.

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29 (1700-1766) for disorderly behaviour and free use of unseemly language. Lessing suggests satirically that the antics of this popular character should be confined to the stage, and not in future be witnessed so frequently in real life. stage metaphors--a recurring device in tragi-comedy--are used by Lessing in various ways in this article, as when he deplores that in plays as in life the most important roles are so often allocated to the worst actors. Correspondingly the Hanswurst in the Fourth Nightwatch "excuses the marionette director for having ordered things like our Lord God and entrusted the most important roles to the least talented actors" (p. 75). The "marionette play with Clown" (p. 73) contains also various other references to the theory of tragi-comic writing Lessing, whom Bonaventura singles Goethe and Schiller (pp. 179, 181). as explained by out with Kant, This puppet interlude in the Fourth Nightwatch with its heroine Columbine, is also linked to Justus Moser (1720-94), with whom Lichtenberg was personally acquainted, and whose books he kept in his library.16 Chief justice of the criminal court in Hanover, privy councilor and councilor of justice, Moser was expert in various subjects, notably law and history. He was 16 Bibliotheca Lichtenbergiana, Nos. 1164 and 1883.

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30 also keenly interested in literature and literary criticism, which he regarded in accordance with the English Enlightenment as a means of educating the public. He wrote a treatise in defense of Harlequin in which he commented on the commedia dell'arte. To him this genre represented a world where the grotesque is part of a peculiar circle or microcosm to which Columbine and other traditional characters belong. Literary use of such standard characters he commended as a convenient shortcut and abbreviation, as their universally known traits obliterate the need for detailed exposition. 17 Gottingen provided excellent opportunities to keep pace with intellectual developments in Germany and was the ideal place to contact those in England who, under George III, actively continued the liberal cultural policy of the founder. Lichtenberg had only a very meager stipend when he started his career in Gottingen, but his exceptional linguistic competence assured him the post of tutor to young English noblemen, and by this means he continued to supplement his income during most of his life. Many 17 Justus Moser, Samtliche Werke, Vol. II. Ed. Oda May (Oldenburg: Gerhard Stalling, 1981). "Harlekin oder Verteidigung des Grotesk-Komischen" (1761), pp. 306-342. Mikhail Bakhtin. Rabelais and His World (1965; Cambridge, Mass.: The M.I.T. Press, 1968) Bakhtin comments on "Harekin' s" influence on tragi-comic writing, pp. 35-36.

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31 years later, when the younger royal princes were sent to study in Gottingen, Lichtenberg was appointed their tutor and they came to live in his house. 18 Though a third visit to England never materialized, the constant influx of students and visitors from England enabled Lichtenberg to keep in close touch with the newest thoughts and developments there, and in 1793 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, with which he had already been in close contact since his first acquaintance with Priestley. From 1765 onwards, Lichtenberg wrote his assorted thoughts into notebooks, for which he himself suggested the English word "wastebooks" (E 46). The expression is taken from the language of merchants and refers to a rough ledger into which everything is entered as it occurs, without the order which is imposed during a later draft. The term therefore indicates the intention to utilise these thoughts for further writing, and many were indeed used by him for this purpose in miscellaneous ways. When they were posthumously published, the editors 18 Mautner, Vol. IV, pp. 484-85, letter to Samuel Thomas Sommering, June 2nd, 1786. Adolf Friedrich was in Gottingen 1786-1791, August Friedrich 1786-90, Ernst August 1786-1791.

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32 added numbers to the notes, which became collectively known as aphorisms.19 Franz H. Mautner starts his discussion on the themes of the early notebooks with the statement: "The most frequent object of Lichtenberg's observations, of his thoughts and therefore also of his ideas is man 11 20 As Mautner shows, Lichtenberg's notes mirror the tendency of his age to unite all intellectual disciplines into a "science of man," a task in which Lichtenberg himself was actively engaged. The attempt to work towards an "understanding of man in all levels of society" (F 37) constituted, indeed, the unifying idea behind the multifarious interests and investigations, to which Lichtenberg's work as professor of natural philosophy and astronomy inevitably led. Through his passion for knowledge and constant application "he became the leading German expert in a number of scientific fields, including geodesy, geophysics, meteorology, astronomy, chemistry, statistics, and geometry, in 19 The first edition aiming at some sort of comprehensiveness was undertaken by Albert Leitzmann, who chose the name Aphorismen, though only part of the notes belong to this genre which made Lichtenberg famous. Georg Christoph Lichtenbergs Aphorismen. Ed. Albert Leitzmann. Deutsche Literaturdenkmale (Berlin, 1902-08; rpt. Nendeln, Liechtenstein: Kraus, 1968). 2 Franz H. Mautner, Lichtenberg. Geschichte seines Geistes (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1968), p. 10.

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33 addition to his foremost field and prime interestexperimental physics. 112 1 Bonaventura combines these diverse interests in his metaphors and images, as in his whole outlook on life. The description of Don Juan "all in flames like a volcano, through whose millenary layers the inner fire all at once found its vent" (pp. 91 and 93), is but one of many examples, while signifying themes from natural history permeate the entire work, like the recurring references to Versteinerung-petrification, fossilization--or the persistent descriptions of thunder and lightning. 22 Lichtenberg's pioneering electrical experiments were famous. In 1780 he erected in Gottingen one of the first lightning conductors, and his innovations attracted the attention of Allessandro Volta (17451827), who visited him in 1784 and 1785. With the leading work of Benjamin Franklin (1706-90) i n this field, Lichtenberg was, of course, familiar, but characteristically he did not restrict his interest 21 Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Vol. VIII (New York: Scribners, 1973). 22 The decisive importance of the understanding and demystification of thunderstorms is pointed out by Engelhard Weigl, "Entzauberung der Natur durch Wissenschaft--dargestell t am Beispiel der Erfindung des Blitzableiters, 11 Jahrbuch der Jean-Paul Gesellschaft, XXII, 1987, pp. 7-39. Lichtenberg's contribution is highlighted, esp. pp. 21-22.

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34 in Franklin to the professional aspect alone. He reported to J. A. H. Reimarus in 1792 that whatever Franklin wrote was distinguished by bons sens, and that in his writing, be it on the constitution of a new nation or the cure of smoky chimneys, the quid was as instructive as the guomodo. 2 3 The epitaph which Franklin had composed for himself Lichtenberg copied down in English: The body of/Benjamin Franklin, Printer/ (like a cover of an old book/its contents worn out/and stript of its lettering and gilding)/ Lies here, food for the worms;/yet the work sh a 11 not be lost/For it shall (as he believed) appear once more, in a new and most beautiful Edition,/corrected and revised/by the author. F 738 As Lichtenberg himself was actively involved in the publishing business of his friend Dieterich, metaphors taken from the printers' language had, as to Bonaventura, a special appeal for him, and like the author of the Nightwatches he was obsessed by thoughts about eternity. The entry D 372, for instance, states in one of the tantalizing compressions which often baffle commentators: 23 Mautner, Schriften und Briefe, Vol. IV, p. 608. Lichtenberg refers to: "A Letter from Dr. B. Franklin, to Dr. Ingenhausz, Physician to the Emperor, at Vienna, on the Causes and Cure of Smokey Chimneys in Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, Vol. II, p. 13 6 II Material from Franklin's letter is used in two entries in the so-called Goldpapierheft, Nos. 38-39, Promies Vol. II, p. 219.

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35 "Message to the book-binder regarding the immortality of the book." A note from the last wastebook claims: "The art of printing is indeed a Messiah among the inventions" (L 667). In a similar vein, Bonaventura has his poor poet start his "Letter of refusal to Life" in Franklin's terminology: "Man is good for nothing. Therefore I am striking him out. My Man has found no publisher, neither as persona vera nor ficta; for the last (my tragedy) no book dealer is willing to advance the printing costs" (p. 133). Franklin's sentiments are even more closely paraphrased in the call to the "Beloved fellow citizens!" during the faked judgement day, when Kreuzgang declares in exasperation: "Behind you lies the whole of world history like a silly novel, in which there are some few tolerable characters and a legion of wretched ones. Ah, your Lord God made a mistake only in this one regard, that he did not himself elaborate it but left it up to you to write at it. Tell me, will he indeed consider it now worth the effort to translate the botched thing into a higher language or must he not rather, when he sees it lying before him in its whole shallowness, tear it to shreds in wrath and deliver you with all your plans over to oblivion?" (p. 105).

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36 Bonaventura, like Lichtenberg, will develop and rephrase his models rather than quote them, because both are stimulated to develop their exceptionally original ideas by pondering on and reacting to the accepted canon. Lichtenberg urged readers to "endeavour to stay abreast of your time" (D 474), Bonaventura"s agreement with this maxim is revealed by the ease with which he draws analogues from the wide range of eighteenth century epistemology. The large number of Lichtenberg's letters 24 and his notebooks provide much clearer insights into the development and applications of his thoughts than are available for most other thinkers, and they also make it possible in many instances to trace where and how they originated. A further and invaluable source for this information is the catalogue of Lichtenberg' s library. This has been assembled by Hans Ludwig Gumbert by adding to the inventory of books that were auctioned, the list of the works which friends put aside for the family after Lichtenberg's death, and the handwritten record of those books which Lichtenberg lent to others between September 18th~ 1785 and January 1799. Though Gumbert has accumulated by such means 1911 entries, many 24 Unfortunately nothing has survived of letters to and from England, though there is much indirect evidence in his writings that many were written and receive::i.

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37 including several volumes, he also cautions that a complete catalogue of Lichtenberg's library can never be reconstructed.25 This is mainly owing to Lichtenberg's extensive lending habits, which resulted from his conviction that good books must be circulated as much as possible. Thus his own reading preferences contributed significantly to the intellectual climate of his age. starting already with D 9, Lichtenberg, for instance, repeatedly mentions that he was reading, and striving to understand, Jacob Behme. Yet nothing can be traced in his possession of this mystic, who is considered a specially formative influence on the romantic epoch. 2 6 Liberal lending habits may well account for this gap. They may also be responsible for the lack of any works by Hans Sachs (1494-1576) to whom Lichtenberg referred with familiarity during his early years. 2 7 Of the Dutch philosopher Frans 25 Bibliotheca Lichtenbergiana, pp. xi-xii. 26 Fritz Martini, Deutsche Literaturgeschichte (Stuttgart: Alfred Kroner, 1968), p. 333: "The mystical tradition of a Meister Eckhart, Tauber and Jakob Behme merged during the romantic epoch with a speculative natural science that searched for magical and subconscious depths." Also Adams, pp. 216 and 218. 2 7 Ed. Joost, Briefwechsel, 102, 103, 108, written at the Sachs is also regarded as a romantics, because of their love see Martini, p. 327. Vol. I, Letters Nos. end of 1772. Hans rediscovery of the for the Middle Ages,

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Hemsterhuis 38 (1721-90)--likewise mentioned by Bonaventura and another favourite of the romantic age--Lichtenberg owned five volumes; two, the Oevres philosophigues, a present from Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi, who had translated some of Hemsterhuis' writings. 28 An unusually large number of Lichtenberg's books were gifts received from authors and publishers, and also from well-wishers, among them George III. While unsolicited contributions to the library somewhat complicate the question of what Lichtenberg actually read, they reflect in themselves his wide contacts, and the esteem in which he was held by the learned. Though Lichtenberg could not afford to spend much on books and died at a comparatively early age, Gumbert judges his collection as of the highest possible standing. 29 A special feature is its comprehensiveness; mathematics and natural sciences comprise catalogue numbers 1-951, while 952-1911 cover the other fields of knowledge, with a particularly strong emphasis on philosophy and literature. Here as elsewhere English works, both in the original and in translation, are strongly represented, as are the classic authors upon 28 Bibliotheca Lichtenberqiana, Nos. 1307-1310. 29 Bibliotheca Lichtenbergiana, pp. xv-xvi.

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39 whom English eighteenth-century criticism relied so heavily that Ian Jack regards the Augustan Age, with its faith in classical theory, as the last epoch of the Renaissance. 3 0 Jack's concern is with satire, and in this field Lichtenberg' s library was especially well stocked. He owned the works of Horace in Latin and English, among them the prestigious edition by Baskerville, 1762 (Nos. 1516-1522). He owned a selection of dialogues (No. 1523) by Lucian, a German translation of Juvenal and a volume of satires by Juvenal and Persius (Nos. 1728-29) The Satiricon of Petronius is represented in a Latin, a German and an English edition (Nos. 1746-48). Only fragments of this Roman satire have survived. They come from the 15th and 16th part, subdivisions which are numerically reflected also in the Nightwatches. 31 Only in his first published satire, Timorus (1771), did Lichtenberg give vent to his own sarcastic criticism of the legal apparatus; for while such attacks had become part of English satire and had always been a strong ingredient of the menippea, 30 Ian Jack, Augustan Satire. Intention and Idiom in English Poetry. 1660-1700 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1952), p. 156. 31 The Works of Petronius Arbiter (1736; rpt New York: AMS Press, 1975).

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in Germany they were not tolerated. remarks in this area are mainly 40 Consequently his confined to his private notes, and to only private themes, reflections that in Germany particularly the world of learning, remained safe subjects for satire (e.g. J 865) Lichtenberg's concern with the procedures of law was, however, strongly represented in his library by Nos. 1208-1238a, which include a work on a case of infanticide (No. 1227) by Gottfried August Burger (1747-94), who lived for a while also in Dieterich's house, and was helped and befriended by Lichtenberg. A man of many parts, he became most famous for his ballad "Lenore" (1774), which is cited as an example for love transcending the boundaries of life in the Tenth Nightwatch (p. 161). No. 1213 is a compendium on German Civil Law by the Gottingen professor H. M. G. Grellmann ( 17 56-1804) who also wrote a book on gypsies, in which he attempted to investigate their history, way of life and tribal constitution (No.1839). This work was printed by Dieterich in 1783, and Lichtenberg had a copy of the second edition (1787) in his library. The author of the Nightwatches uses the authentic gypsy term for people outside their tribe, Blanker (p. 234), a sign that he was well versed in gypsy ways and lore.

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41 From another professorial colleague, C. F. G. Meister, brother of Lichtenberg's teacher, predecessor and friend, A. L. F. Meister, there are the first two parts of a voluminous work on criminal law (No. 1231). Though such books were usually gifts from author or printer, there is evidence that Lichtenberg actually used them, for legal analogies are often employed in his writings. A specially remarkable feature of Lichtenberg's library is the number of English books in all its many subdivisions. Among the law titles ten works fall in this category, two of them in German translation. No. 1233 includes "The whole Proceedings of the King's Commission of the Peace .. held at Justice Hall in the Old Bailey. Taken in Short-Hand. London, actually owned of 1775-90." How much Lichtenberg this extensive series remains doubtful, as he lent parts of his collection to friends, among them Burger. Lichtenberg's extensive knowledge and use of English books is so well attested that Hans Ludwig Gumbert was first alerted to the incompleteness of the library auction catalogue through its lack of works by Pope and Fielding. 32 These were then located in the list of books kept for the family. Few 32 Bibliotheca Lichtenbergiana, p. 208; p. xi.

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42 of the leading English authors of the eighteenth century were found to be missing, and of many important works there is more than one edition, and frequently a German translation as well. Of Shakespeare (No. 1796-1801), for instance, there are nine volumes of the London edition of 1760, and ten volumes of the London edition of 1773, the latter with notes by Samuel Johnson and George Steevens. There is also a German translation by Johann Joachim Eschenburg (1743-1820), an Anglophile whom Lichtenberg knew well and with whom he corresponded. Only volumes VI and VII of this 177577 edition could be found in Lichtenberg's possession. Gumbert assumes that the others were lost in lending.33 Of the separate copies which Lichtenberg owned, King Lear and Timon of Athens were published by the Theatre-Royal in Drury Lane, while Hamlet and Macbeth were from the Johnson edition (Nos. 1796-1801). Wieland is represented by Nos. 163133, though not by his Shakespeare translation. Lichtenberg had a specially high esteem for this author, whom he aligned with Shakespeare and Sterne (B 322). Johnson was regarded by Lichtenberg as a particularly significant writer, and valued 33 Bibliotheca Lichtenbergiana, p. 284.

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43 especially for his clarity of thought and the apparent facility with which he explains moral and abstract precepts in simple parabolic metaphors (J 788). Johnson's writings are densely dotted with memorable maxims and aphorisms, in which everyday experience is distilled into precepts of general validity, a mode of expression which was to bring acclaim to Lichtenberg too. They shared other attitudes, notably a rejection of the prevailing urge to construct intellectual systems, partly because of their confining narrowness, but even more so because they are inconsistent with the everchanging realities of life and do not take into account the inadequacy of human knowledge. Though they saw no virtue in the mere accumulation of knowledge, they upheld the value of tradition, but stressed the limitations of human understanding and hence the necessity to keep options open. Neither attempted therefore to record his philosophy in a systematic manner. Jean H. Hagstrum shows that Johnson approached literature as the representation of the available and universal experience of life, and that he expected literature to lead back again to life and experience. 34 Lichtenberg shared this view, and like 34 Jean H. Hagstrum, Samuel Johnson's Literary Criticism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, ( 19 5 2 ) 19 6 8) pp. 1 7 4 179

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44 Johnson derived his intellectual decisiveness from his consistent endeavour to apply the lessons enshrined in philosophy and literature to the practical problems of life. Both men regarded subjectivism as dangerous escapism and tried to stem its tide. Lichtenberg's many different ventures into publishing were directed by the desire to counteract diffuse and wishful thinking with empiricism, and his wish to publicize Johnson's work in Germany appears as part of this strategy. In 1782 he prepared for the Gottingische Magazin, of which he was founder and main editor, a report on Pope's life and works, which he had translated and adapted from Johnson's Lives of the English Poets. 35 He promised a sequel on Pope's characteristics as an author at the end of the article, and planned to bring further lives of English poets from Johnson to the attention of his readers. Nothing came of this, as the magazine ceased publication in 1784. Lichtenberg therefore suggested that Dieterich should print the whole edition of Johnson's English poets.36 Lichtenberg spent much 35 Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Vermischte Schriften, Vol. V. Ed. by Lichtenberg's Sons (Gottingen: Dieterichsche Buchhandlung, 1844), pp. 33-70. (Rpt. from Gottingisches Magazin, Part 3, No.1, 1782). 36 Briefwechsel, Vol. II, Nos. 1044 and 1097.

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45 time on this enterprise and also took over the final revision. It proved, however, unprofitable and Dieterich abandoned the ambitious venture after only two volumes.37 Though Lichtenberg was alert to Johnson's occasional limitations and sometimes deviated from his judgements, especially in regard to Fielding (J 807), he considered the Lives of the Poets as a masterpiece in which the fusion of life and literature was achieved on the basis of the Horatian precept of educating while entertaining. Horace recommends this mixture of the useful and the pleasant in his Ars Poetica which was much consulted by the literary critics of the Enlightenment. Johnson discussed these poetic instructions in depth and quoted frequently from them. 38 Ars Poetica, also known as the Epistle to the Pisos, is several times evoked by Bonaventura and quoted by Kreuzgang, the protagonist of the Nightwatches (p. 195), who also aspires to the Horatian ideal "to unite the useful with the pleasurable" (p. 219). Even in his scientific 37 Personal information from Frau Elisabeth Willnat, Gottingen, from an unpublished dissertation on Dieterich's Publishing House. 38 James Boswell, Life of Johnson (1791). Ed. R. W. Chapmann (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980), pp. 120, 140, 158, 360, 443, 693, 771-74, 939, 1034, 1093.

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46 writing Lichtenberg adhered to this maxim to such a degree that his entertainingly presented ideas were widely disseminated among the general public, but were not always taken seriously by specialists. He owned Horace's works in several editions in Latin and in English, including the much admired Baskerville edition of 1762, plus a German translation of a Dutch work on Quintus Horatius Flaccus as Citizen of Rome, (Nos. 1516-22). Lichtenberg owned, and frequently consulted, Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language, in the London edition of 1773 (No. 1460). Several of his notes attest to exceptional interest in the meaning of words, and to his exceptional command of the English language. For example: In Johnson's Dictionary the words: Predilection, respectable, descriptive, sulky, mimetick, isolated, inimical, decompose have been omitted by oversight. (J 836) Similar concern is shown in J 811 and in J 822, and he noted that "in the word abandon in Johnson's great Dictionary credulity should have been used instead of cruelty" (J 1041). Besides two different editions of Johnson's Lives of the Poets, Lichtenberg also owned a separate edition of the Life of Savage--a celebrated eighteenth-century account of the sufferings of a poor poet--and the Milton volume of

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47 Dieterich's abortive Johnson series which Lichtenberg had edited himself (Nos. 1651-53, 1659). The ~orks catalogued in the Bibliotheca Lichtenbergiana indicate thorough and solid reading habits. In conjunction with the notes and remarks in letters, the contents of the library demonstrate that Lichtenberg investigated the topics which particularly concerned him in considerable depth. Though "the difficulty of access to the large and varied canon of his writings," is as formidable in the case of Johnson 39 as it is for Lichtenberg, the thoughts and methods of both authors are exceptionally well documented: for Lichtenberg, through the self-testimony of his notebooks and in lesser measure through his correspondence; for Johnson, through the meticulous preservation of his conversations by James Boswell (1740-1795). The minutiae which these testimonies contain were a deliberate contribution to the "science of man," acute observations towards a true and rounded concept of human personality. Boswell's attention to seeming trivia accords with the opinion of Johnson, whom he reports as having said: "The great thing to be recorded ... is 39 Samuel Johnson. Ed. Donald Green (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 1984. Introduction, p. xii.

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48 the state of your own mind; and you should write down everything that you remember, for you cannot judge at first what is good or bad; and write immediately while the impression is fresh, for it will not be the same afterwards. 11 40 To this principle Lichtenberg adhered all through his adult life, and to the same end: to study the human condition and the workings of the mind. He also shared Johnson's conviction that the key to human behaviour can be found anywhere, in common life as well as in noteworthy historic events. He is not joking when he attributes his own considerable psychological understanding to observations at weddings, christenings and university feasts (E 189) and he held that family life mirrors great political incidents with its miniature wars and peace treaties, resolutions, reforms and power struggles (L 106). Like many of Lichtenberg's ideas, which are crowded together in his notebooks without context, introduction or follow-up, this suggestion might appear as the whimsical inspiration of the moment. It does, however, echo one of Johnson's Rambler essays, which states that "no nation omits to record the actions of their ancestors, however bloody, 40 Boswell, e.g. pp. 25, 868, 997, 1013, 1023, 1088; p. 513.

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49 savage and rapacious" and then goes on to claim: "The same disposition, as different opportunities call it forth, discovers itself in great or little things." Johnson therefore offers to relate "the history and anti qui ties of the several garrets" in which The Rambler has resided. 41 He ends with the "observation of Juvenal, that a single house will show whatever is done or suffered in the world," thus pointing back to a source which was particularly popular with the English eighteeenth-century satirists, Lichtenberg included (Nos. 1728-29) For Bonaventura, too, the microcosm of common or particular events represents the world (p. 143). Johnson and Lichtenberg share a heritage of classical satire; among its major themes are madness, suicide, superstitions and dreams. These reflect general trends in a time which based its epistemology on the study of classical authors. Nevertheless, the serious intensity with which Johnson and Lichtenberg approached these darker problems was exceptional, and several parallelisms show that Lichtenberg based some of his thoughts on Johnson's work. 41 Samuel Johnson, pp. 239-42, p. 239, Rambler, No. 161, Tuesday, October 1, 1751, "A Rooming-House Chronicle."

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50 In the Socratic effort to "know thyself" Lichtenberg habitually dissected and rationalized his dreams, and he tells how once in a dream he related an incident to someone else, who then reminded him of a detail he had entirely forgotten. How, he asked himself, could that happen, as it was his dream, and he himself must therefore have reproduced everything in it (L 587). Similarly, Johnson "related, that he had once in a dream a contest of wit with some other person, and that he was very much mortified by imagining that his opponent had the better of him." On reflection, however, he found that the wit of this supposed antagonist by "whose superiority" he felt himself depressed, was also furnished by himself. 42 Besides literary themes the two men also shared many acquaintances, as Lichtenberg moved partly in the circles which Johnson frequented. He kept modestly quiet about most of his social experiences in London, but recorded that he dined with General Paoli. 43 As he refers to Boswell's description of him (E 269), he must have been familiar with Boswell's Account of Corsica ( 1768) though it was 42 Boswell, p. 1069. 43 Ed. Gumbert, Lichtenberg in England, Vol. I, p. 92, March 15, 1775.

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51 not in his 1 ibrary. Neither did he own Johnson's Journey to the Western Islands (1775) or Boswell's Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides (1785), though his own visit to the Isle of Heligoland in 1773 recalls Johnson's celebrated excursion, and was not less trend-setting.44 Interest in the Hebrides was also kindled by the Ossianic controversies, which aroused even stronger passions in Germany than in England, as enthusiasm for Ossian had stimulated "a lyric genre which flourished for a brief time under the name of 'bardic' poetry. 11 45 Though Lichtenberg emphatically opposed these effusions, he refrained from taking sides in the Ossian question, possibly because several writers he valued, like Gerstenberg, von Haller and especially his friend Eschenburg, were filled with admiration for McPherson's Celtic imitations, the more so as the ancient Celts were freely equated with the Germanic tribes. Lichtenberg himself was interested in the religious aspects of Ossian's songs, as they seemed to him an uncanny anticipation of modern thoughts on God and nature. He even had agreed to get some 44 Wolfgang Promies. "Der Deutschen Bade Meister: Georg Christoph Lichtenberg und die Wirkungen aufgeklarter Schriften." Photorin, IV, 1981, pp. 1-15 (pp. 2-3). 45 Price, English Literature in Germany. p. 126.

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52 additional Ossianic poems printed, which were offered to him as authentic by Edmund de Harold. 46 Probably he soon identified them as forgeries, because nothing came of the plan. He also noted that there was no mention of the wolf in Ossian, an observation which Boswell likewise records. Additionally he mentions that the cock occurs, though introduced into Europe much later. Johnson regarded Ossian as a fraud, because McPherson could not show him any original manuscripts. His verdict that "a man might write such stuff for ever, if he would abandon his mind to it 1147 sums up Lichtenberg's often voiced opinion on German nee-bardic poetry. Ossian's supposed father was the legendary Fingal, and his famous cave on the Scottish island Staffa is mentioned by Kreuzgang as one of the desirable places to which a beggar might gain entrance (p. 217). Johnson and Boswell came close to it, but did not include Staffa in their itinerary. It had, however, been visited in the previous year by 46 d E. Joost, Briefwechsel, Vol. II, No. 1097. 47 Boswell, p. 615, probably emanating from Thomas Percy; p. 1207.

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53 Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820) whose description first drew attention to this wonder of nature. 48 Lichtenberg was introduced to Sir Joseph Banks and his companion on the journey round the world with Captain Cook, Dr. Daniel Selander (1730-1781), in March 1775, and they in turn acquainted him with Omai, the native from Tahiti who frequented London society until he returned to his native island with Captain Cook on his third and last voyage. 49 All three were also acquainted with Johnson and Boswe11. 50 Sir Joseph Banks joined Johnson's Literary Club in 1778, 51 and he was President of the Royal Society when Lichtenberg was admitted. Such 48 Significantly Kreuzgang talks of a "free pass to nature," but the three places he mentions are all distinguished by literary and philosophical connections. His experience of nature is thus in the tradition of the Enlightenment: evocative of incidents and literary precedent. This attitude is also exemplified by Johnson and Boswell, who on their Scottish tour expressed their responses to nature by quoting passages from literature, especially from Shakespeare. 49 Mautner, Geistes, p. 132. Lichtenberg. Geschichte seines SO Cf. Johnson's opinions on Omai, Boswell, p. 723, April 1776. Lichtenberg had met him at a dinner given by Sir John Pringle, President of the Royal Society and personal physician to the Queen, who had acted as an intermediary between him and Lichtenberg; see Letter to Ernst Gottfried Baldinger, 10th January 1775, ed. Joost, Briefwechsel, Vol. I, No. 269, pp. 494-95. 51 Boswell, p. 1005: "Mr. Banks desires to be admitted; he will be a very honourable accession."

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54 connections intensified Lichtenberg's interest in Johnson, which is reflected in his reading in the winter 1789/90 of Sir John Hawkins' Life of Samuel Johnson. 52 Anecdotes He also read Mrs. Thrale-Piozzi's (1786) on Johnson, shortly after he finished with Boswell's Life, probably because Boswell discusses Mrs. Thrale and her work so frequently. Boswell also comments on the affair of the hapless Rev. Dr. w. Dodd, who was hanged in 1777 for embezzlement. Johnson's unsuccessful championship of his case turned it into a cause celebre to which Lichtenberg referred in his article "Uber Physiognomik" (1778) 53 Lichtenberg's interest in Soame Jenyns' View of the Internal Evidence of the Christian Religion (No. 1325), may also be due to Johnson who reviewed this work in: "A Free Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Evil." ( 1757) Many of Johnson's ideas on life and afterlife, which are otherwise widely diffused in his writings in the form of general maxims and observations, are distilled in this essay. Jenyns himself offers little more than a summary of current thoughts, including the concept of the uni verse as a system of beings descending by 52 See Promies, Vol. beginning with J 199. I' notebook entries 53 p 1 romies, Vo III, pp. 256-95, p. 272, also F 942.

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55 insensible degrees, from infinite perfection to absolute nothing, with man on probabtion to find a place commesurate with his achievements. such ideas go back to antiquity, especially to Pythagoras, but in the eighteenth century they had been reactivated through contact with the East. Hence Johnson speaks of the "Arabian scale of existence." He confesses to have often considered such a system himself, "but always left the inquiry in doubt and uncertainty. 1154 Lichtenberg held similar views. Thoughts on a celestial hierarchy surface in his notes over many years, and in D 412, for instance, he declares, I can hardly believe that it will be possible to prove that we are the work of a highest being, and not have rather been assembled by a very imperfect one to while away the time. This tormenting impossibility of arriving at a definitive conclusion becomes a central quest for Kreuzgang, who resembles Johnson and Lichtenberg also in this, that the search for eternity does not deflect his mind from the realities of everyday life. Johnson was an active observer and judge of the political contentions which stirred his times, and, when the controversies with the American colonies reached their height, he produced "An Answer to the 54 Samuel Johnson, pp. 522-43, p. 539; pp. 524-25.

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56 Resolutions and Address of the American Congress" that was intended to calm tempers and support law and order: Taxation: No Tyranny (1774). Lichtenberg owned an anonymous answer to it: Taxation Tyranny (1775, No. 1123). According to di verse notes and excerpts, Lichtenberg was also a regular reader of the Gentleman's Magazine, which Johnson had helped "to convert from a rather dreary collection of reprints from current newspapers to the prototype of the modern 'intellectual' journal, designed to inform and stimulate the minds of the educated and educatable general public. 11 55 Johnson's and Lichtenberg's comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the enlightened concerns of their time fuelled their passionate intellectual preoccupation with the problems of progress. They were also farsighted enough to recognize human limitations, and this acceptance resulted in a strong sense of responsibility towards the public. Hence they were both convinced that "the only end of writing is to enable the readers better to enjoy life or better to endure it. 11 56 Even a brief comparison of the contents of Lichtenberg's library with his reading and writing 55 Samuel Johnson, Introduction, pp. xi-xii. 56 Samuel Johnson, p. 536.

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57 shows that his wish to make Johnson more accessible to German readers was based on thorough study and an exceptionally systematical and comprehensive knowledge of eighteenth-century English writers. Bonaventura shares this background and has also this in common with Lichtenberg, that while his inspirations may seem spontaneous and often effervescent, closer investigation will prove their enlightened and farsighted intent which begins to be fully appreciated only in present times.

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CHAPTER II WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (1564-1616) IN EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY CONTEXT. Pursuit of English literary influences on the Nightwatches reveals strong parallels to Lichtenberg' s reading, his thoughts, interests and preferences; Kreuzgang's references to Shakespeare demonstrate the same thorough and unusual knowledge of the English dramatist's works that distinguished Lichtenberg. Kreuzgang, too, values Shakespeare's insight into the human condition, and he commands Lichtenberg's exceptional paraphrasing techniques: his gift to absorb the best thoughts of others and turn them to his own purpose. When Klaus Bartenschlager observes of Bonaventura's methods: "Shakespeare is not discussed, but integrated into the perspective of the narrator, 111 he also describes the methods of Lichtenberg. 1 Klaus Bartenschlager, "Bonaventuras Shakespeare: Zur Bedeutung Shakespeares fur die 'Nachtwachen'." GroBbritannien und Deutschland. Festschrift fur John Bourke (Munchen: Goldmann, 1974), pp. 347-71, p. 348. 58

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59 Bartenschlager concentrates his investigation mainly on the virtuosity with which this integration is achieved. As the Shakespearean absorption of the Nightwatches surpasses the contemporary German norm in intensity and extent, even at a time when admiration of Shakespeare was at a peak, Bartenschlager treats the Nightwatches in comparative isolation. Where he refers to 1 i terary context he does so in general terms, and restricts himself to German literary criticism. Thus he refers to Herder, Goethe, Tieck and Schlegel, 2 all of whom, however, had evolved their views directly or the English literary critics who indirectly from were led and stimulated by Dryden into a growing realisation of the unusual genius their country had produced. John Dryden's Essay of Dramatic Poesy (1668) heralded a shift of focus from Ben Johnson to Shakespeare, and based the claim for the latter's superiority on the daring presentation of "mirth mixed with tragedy." Acceptance of Dryden's views was facilitated by his patriotic opinion that the English, and foremost Shakespeare, "have invented, increased and perfected a more pleasant way of writing for the stage, than was ever known to the 2 Bartenschlager, p. 348.

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60 ancients or moderns of any nation, which is tragi comedy. 113 Shakespeare is therefore praised as the unsurpassed master of mixing serious scenes with merry interludes, and to this technique, which after all mirrors the hazards and unpredictable changes of life itself, he added the perception that while both aspects of the human existence may remain irreconcilable, they can nevertheless illuminate each other. Dryden sees Shakespeare as "the man who of all modern, and perhaps ancient poets, had the largest and most comprehensive soul. 114 The renewed interest in Shakespeare's plays which resulted from Dryden's praise led to various new editions, notably those of Pope (1725) and Johnson (1765). Pope proclaimed that if ever any Author deserved the name of an Original, it was Shakespeare; his poetry was Inspiration indeed: he is not s o mu c h an Imitator, as an Instrument, of Nature; and 'tis not so just to say that he speaks from her, as that she speaks thro' him. His Characters are so much Nature her self, that 'tis a sort of injury to call them by so distant a name as Copies of her ... every single 3 Hazard Adams, Critical Theory since Plato (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1971), John Dryden, "An Essay of Dramatic Poesy," pp. 228-257, p. 244. 4 Ed. Adams, "An Essay of Dramatic Poesy, 11 p. 247.

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character in Shakespear is as much an Individual, as those in Life itself. 115 Kreuzgang's appreciation of Shakespeare is 61 similar. Klaus Bartenschlager sees it as part of the controversy over creating versus imitating, a persistent late eighteenth-century theme in aesthetics which, in his view, for Bonaventura's generation was insolubly linked with Herder's exhortation of Shakespeare's genius. 6 Lawrence Marsden Price found in Herder's essay "echoes of Pope, Warburton, Johnson, and Young, who had extolled Shakespeare's knowledge of the human soul or even called him creator," and he suggests that "for verbal parallels couched in like effusive tones we must turn to Henry Home. With all these authors, including Herder, Lichtenberg was quite familiar. 7 He also contributed actively to the 5 Poetry and Prose intr. Aubrey Williams 1969) "Preface to the 460-472, pp. 460-61. of Alexander Pope. Sel. and (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Works of Shakespeare, pp. 6 Bartenschlager, p. 348. 7 Price, English Literature in Germany, p. 246. Lichtenberg owned: Complete Works of Alexander Pope, with his last correction. Together with the notes of William Warburton, London 1764, 6 vols. Bibliotheca Lichtenbergiana, No. 1662; a German prose translation of Warburton' s Pope edition by Johann Jacob Dusch, 1784, No. 1663; a German translation of Henry Home's Elements of Criticism (1762) in 3 vols., Leipzig 1763-66, No. 1316; Johann Gottfried Herder Briefe zur Beforderung der Humanitat. Riga 1793 (No. 1311), and Ursachen des gesunkenen Geschmacks bei den

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62 reception of Shakespeare's works in Germany, for he valued the Elizabethan poet above all as an inspired interpreter of human nature, and held him up as an example to young writers, because his characters were not copied from literature but from life, and thus of permanent and general value. With this validity in mind he himself used Shakespeare's works as the ideal against which to test thoughts and emotions. He had already integrated Hamlet into his way of thinking when he wrote on December 2nd 1770, in one of the suicidal moods which tempted him throughout his adult life, Luckily under the circumstances I still have a good conscience, otherwise I would already have gone, the sooner the better to the rest, from which Hamlet shrank because of the dreams which he feared would disturb it. (B 338) Long before Wilhelm Meister was published (1787-88), from which the German romantics took their cue, Hamlet had already become part of his way of thinking. A strong influence on Lichtenberg's sense of Shakespeare was Johnson's "Preface to Shakespeare," first published in 1765 in Johnson's eight-volume edition of Shakespeare's plays. This essay follows verschiedenen Volkern. da er qebluhet. Berlin 1775 (No. 1775) and Vom Erkennen und Empfinden der menschlichen Seele. Bemerkungen und Traume. Riga 1788, a work on dreams and the soul, (NO. 1313).

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63 Pope in criticism of various details and methods in Shakespeare's works. Johnson confirms and enlarges Dryden's patriotic views regarding the serio-comic genre, and he declares Shakespeare to be "above all writers, at least above all modern writers, the poet of nature; the poet that holds up to his readers a faithful mirror of manners and of life." Nature equates to human nature, as it does throughout the enlightenment, and Johnson admires "practical axioms and domestic wisdom" and believes "that from his works may be collected a system of civil and economical prudence. Johnson was convinced that: "Nothing can please many and please long, but just representations of general nature. Shakespeare's ability to create characters "which are the genuine progeny of common humanity," revealed him therefore as a poet in the original sense of the word, a maker. 8 When he talks of Ophelia, Kreuzgang evaluates Shakespeare in the same terms. After "the mighty hand of Shakespeare, that second creator, had seized her violently," he witnesses at first with critical and later with passionate fascination a 8 Ed. Adams, "Preface to Shakespeare", pp. 329336, p. 330.

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64 "transformation of the real into a poetic person" (p.199). Johnson's "Preface to Shakespeare" became a touchstone of English literary criticism. It was not much noted in Germany, 9 but it left traces in Lichtenberg's satirical attacks on literary and intellectual abuses. The best known of these, "On Physiognomy against the Physiognomists" (1778), is preceded by a quotation from Henry V (Act II,2) and he uses also various examples from Antony and Cleopatra, 10 plays which Johnson had singled out in his "Preface." Never content with mere citation, Lichtenberg merges comments from both works to express his own praise of Shakespeare, "who was able to combine for his purpose distant concepts, which perhaps never before had met in a human mind, and who could call 9 In the 69. Part of the Hamburgische Dramaturgie, which was published in December 1767, Lessing does not mention Johnson by name, but attributes to "one of our most recent writers" the view that Shakespeare has been censured for his tragi-comic vein, though this should instead be regarded as a virtue, as it imitates the natural process of human existence. Besides the English claimes for priority in this field--championed by Dryden and Johnson--Lessing acknowledges the strong Spanish influences on the mixed genre, and draws especial attention to Lope de Vega's satiric New Art of Comedy Writing. Lessings samtliche Schriften, Vol. X, pp. 77-78. lO Promies, Vol. III, "Uber Physiognomik; wider die Physiognomen." pp. 256-95, pp. 256, 279, 281.

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65 the world an o and finally the stage a wooden o," a view which equates the world with nothing. 11 Lichtenberg demonstrates here a technique which Bartenschlager finds especially characteristic for Bonaventura,12 and also shows his thorough familiarity with a tradition which is not only important to Shakespeare's imagery, but is an integral part of tragi-comic writing, especially of menippean satires from Lucian onwards. 13 11 Promies, Vol.III, p. 279. Lichtenberg amalgamated Antony and Cleopatra, V, 2: "His face was as the heavens; and therein stuck/ A sun and moon, which kept their course, and lighted/ The little o, the earth," and Henry V, Chorus,I: "can this cockpit hold/ The vasty fields of France? or may we cram/ Within this wooden O the very casques/ That did affright the air at Agincourt?" 12 Bartenschlager, p. 359: "Das bisher Gesagte zeigt den strengen Perspektivismus des Nachtwachendichters in der Wahl seiner Shakespeare Motive und ihre kunstvolle Integration in die Weltsicht des Protagonisten, durch Auswahl, Teilidentifizierung, Kontrastierung, Parodie und originelle Umwandlungen verschiedener Art." 13 Lucian. "Icaromenippus" in Towards Excellence. Ed. Vincent Milosevich (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973), e.g. p. 23: "some relieve the Gods of all care, as we relieve the superannuated of their ci vie duties; in fact, they treat them exactly like supernumeraries on the stage;" p. 27: "Well, friend, such are the earthly dancers; the life of man is just such a discordant performance; not only are the voices jangled, but the steps are not uniform, the motions not concerted, the objectives not agreeed upon--until the impresario dismisses them one by one from the stage, with a "not wanted;" p. 32: "their model is the tragic actor, from whom if you strip off the mask and the gold spangled robe, there is nothing left but a pal try fellow hired for a few shillings to play a part."

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66 When Kreuzgang speaks of "Cleopatra's flower basket, among the roses of which the poisonous snake lay in wait" (p. 69), he refers to the same scene in Antony and Cleopatra from which Lichtenberg took the simile of life, seen as an empty stage. the basket of figs with flowers, 14 By filling Bonaventura moulds the metaphor closer to his own purpose and to the German environment in which Kreuzgang operates. Just before the entrance of the "rural fellow"one of Shakespeare's tragic clowns--Cleopatra has envisaged her fate in captivity as that of an "Egyptian puppet, 11 and she fears that there "the quick comedians extemporarily will stage us. 11 The clown delivers the fatal basket with a melancholy discourse on worms and death, the gods and the devil. The fifth act of Antony and Cleopatra abounds in the key words which permeate the Nightwatches. Bartenschlager regards as "the sum of the plays of which Kreuzgang takes note: Hamlet, Lear, Macbeth, with a reference to the Tempest and possibly also to Troilus and Cressida. 11 All are plays which deal with primary concerns of the nightwatchman, and the first 14 Act V, Sc II G d : uar : "Here is a rural fellow ... he brings you figs."

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67 three made a lasting impression on Lichtenberg, while he was in England.15 The allusions to the Tempest and to Troilus and Cressida occur when Kreuzgang compares the antique ideal of beauty with an ugly reality, exemplified by Caliban and Thersites (p. 195). Thersites in Troilus and Cressida is, according to Robert C. Elliot, "unquestionably the greatest master of scurrilous abuse among characters of this type" in Shakespeare; a pharmakos who suffers for the evils of the community; a provoker, a "railer who is privileged to abuse whom he will;" a figure with general traits for which Thersites has been metonymic since Homer 16 Kreuzgang with his sarcastic despair is one of his descendants. The mocking and bitter aspects of Shakespeare's fools, which the acerbic Thersites represents, occupy the center stage in Timon of Athens. The Greek satirist Lucian of Samosata had devoted one of his Dialogues to Timon, and Robert c. Elliot sees Shakespeare approach closest to satire in this play. He counts Shakespeare's Timon with Moliere's Alceste 15 Bartenschlager, p. 359; Ed. Gumbert, Lichtenberg in England, Vol. II, p. 274. 16 Robert C. Elliot, The Power of Satire: Magic, Ritual, Art (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1960), pp. 136-39.

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68 and Swift's Gulliver among "the great misanthropes of literature: a satirist satirized, with "full cognizance of the dreadful power of the extreme. Humour, though much of it bitter and even invective, softens the impact of human limitations and imperfections in this black comedy. Yet "the denunciation of man is frightfully powerful and it stands. 1117 This basic attitude is not the only reminiscence of Timon in the Nightwatches. A central symbol in Timon is "eating roots," which epitomizes reliance on nature rather than on the fickleness of man. Already in Act I, Sc. II Apemantus, a churlish philosopher and a more stoic double or alter ego of Timon, declares at the end of an apostrophe to the immortal gods: "Rich men sin, and I eat root." Moderation, frugality and self-sufficiency are the virtues which he wants to promote by this symbolic action. Timon learns to aspire to these virtues only in Act IV, when he has lost his immense riches and with them his sycophantic friends, and decides to retreat into the wilderness of self-imposed exile. asking for universal discord Cursing the earth, by imploring that "twinned brothers of one womb" should be set against each other through different fortunes, (an event of 1 7 Elliot, p. 167.

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69 which the Fourth and Fifth Nightwatches tell) he finally calls out "Earth, yield me roots" (Act IV, Sc. III). While he digs he finds a treasure of gold, but finally recognizing and despising its potential for evil he casts it aside and persists in looking for roots. When thieves beset him, he advises them: "Why should you want? Behold the earth hath roots." "That nature, being sick of man's unkindness/ Should yet be hungry!" he exclaims and then apostrophises nature in the words which Kreuzgang uses repeatedly: "Common Mother thou," and he implores nature to yield him, who all thy human sons doth hate From forth thy plenteous bosom one poor root. (Act IV, Sc.III) Equivalent events occur in the Fifteenth Nightwatch. After one of his misanthropic outbursts of "aggravated hatred for all the men of reason" (p. 217) Kreuzgang calls himself, like Timon, a beggar and rejoices that "the earth still had roots in her lap which she did not deny," and calls her "this ancient mother" (p. 219). The root he digs out constitutes the only sustenance of which he partakes during a narration abounding in metaphors of eating and digestion. Further indication of the symbol i c nature of this meagre meal is a preceding reference to Horace's advice in the letter to the Piso Family

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70 "to unite the useful with the pleasurable", for it breaks the illusion of a romantic enjoyment of nature by drawing attention to deliberate artistic devices. Like the Nightwatches, Timon of Athens ends on a note of despair. Timon dies, declaring oxymoronically, and with significance for the last words in the Nightwatches: "My long sickness of health and living now begins to mend and nothing brings me all things." This "nothing," reminiscent of Kreuzgang's final words, is one of the many uses of the word in Shakespeare. Timon promises that his gravestone will be an oracle to those who survive him (Act V, Sc. I). After some difficulties in deciphering the words, his epitaph is finally found to declare Here lies a wretched corse, of wretched soul bereft; Seek not my name; a plague consume the wicked caitiffs left! Here lie I, Timon; who alive all living men did hate: Pass by and curse thy fill; but pass and stay not here thy gait. (Act V, c. III) Elliot interprets "Timon's last words from out the nothingness he coveted" as a snarl. 18 They contain, however, several indications which leave room for optimism: body and soul are taken as separable and only temporarily united entities, and 18 Elliot, p. 160.

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71 death is therefore bereft of finality; and the twice repeated exhortation "pass" implies that a better place can be reached by those who are prepared to move on. Shakespeare sows these seeds of hope almost imperceptibly and they can be easily cast aside or overlooked, and similar care. Bonaventura hides his clues with The Nightwatches also tell of hidden treasure, but there is a change of emphasis from Timon: instead of sterile metal a young child is found, unencumbered by any worldly possessions but "already a quite complete citizen of the world" (p. 61). Goethe's ballad Der Schatzgraber (1798) a genie similiarly conveyed the message that life and active endeavour, not gold, constitute real riches. Bonaventura does not deliver such advice; he relies on hints and implications, and expects the reader to find a meaningful pattern in them, as he will have to do in reality, if he desires life to make sense. 19 The Fifth Nightwatch ends with Timon's wish, that two "brothers of one womb" should be divided by strife and scorn each other (Act IV, Sc. III). Their 19 The Christian child-symbol was secularized by the romantics, as epitomized in the painting of Philipp Otto Runge (1777-1810): Der Morgen (1805). Kreuzgang's symbolic conception during Christmas night affirms the allegorical character of his family history.

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72 catastrophe compresses in a few paragraphs the complicated intrigues of Othello, with Iago's fabrication and manipulation of misleading evidence, and the desperate regret of the husband, who understands the truth too late and follows the murder of an innocent wife with suicide. The melodramatic aspects of this scenario are subordinated to the human paradox that loss or threatened loss intensifies the wish to possess, and enhances what is otherwise not valued enough. Bonaventura writes: Ponce only awoke when she died, and now for the first time he seemed to love, because he had lost love, and to feel a loving heart so as to pierce it through. (p. 97) The gory end is left to the imagination of the reader: "Silently he was remarried with Ines," and the full extent of the tragedy is merely mirrored in the survivor's reaction: "Don Juan stood mute and insane among the dead." The opinion that life attains its value through the fear of death was shared by Lichtenberg with Shakespeare and recurs in the Nightwatches. Among his first notebook entries Lichtenberg claimed: "To make us more receptive to our good luck when it is losing some of its lustre we have to imagine that it has been lost and that we had received it only this very moment" (A 72). This thought he presented later

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73 in a polished and often quoted aphorism: "Lasting luck looses lustre merely by its length" (F 6). In Much Ado About Nothing it is the Friar, the exponent of moderation and good sense, who offers this insight: That what we have we prize not to the worth While we enjoy it; but being lack'd and lost, Why, then we rack the value, then we find The virtue that possession would not show us While it was ours. (Act IV, Sc.I) This bitter comedy presents tragic themes, but transposes them into a key that allows a lighthearted final solution, as if to demonstrate the arbitrary fickleness of life. While in Othello Shakespeare dispenses with comic relief, he varies the theme with the Iago-like traitor Don John in Much Ado About Nothing. which has tomb scenes reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet, misunderstandings and pretended death, and hovers dangerously close to real tragedy. The constant masking and unmasking creates no lighthearted or festive spirit, but rather an atmosphere of uncertainty where happiness or horror can gain the upper hand at any moment, and may result in bliss or destruction according to the whim of circumstances. Bitter love and "enraged affection" (Act II, Sc.III) add to the ambivalence as they do in Kreuzgang's intense and unromantic wooing.

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74 The play also contains a group of nightwatchmen led by their constable Dogberry, whose blundering ignorance mingles with sound instinct, and paradoxically solves enigmas which confound shrewder minds. His instructions foreshadow some of the decisions Kreuzgang takes on his nightly rounds, as for instance, when Dogberry counsels: "If you meet a thief, you may suspect him, by virtue of your office, to be no true man; and, for such kind of men, the less you meddle or make with them, why, the more is for your honesty" (Act III, Sc. III). When Kreuzgang makes a similar decision he seems as whimsical and ineffective as Dogberry, but he too, like Shakespeare, is commenting on the helplessness of well-meaning people faced with the injustice of this world. Dogberry's conclusions are distilled from experience, as well as from his own peculiar logic and thus he leaves his men with the exhortation: "The watch ought to offend no man; and it is an offence to stay a man against his will. 11 The men respond by deciding to "sit here upon the church-bench till two, and then all to bed," an example followed by Kreuzgang. "Among the favorite places in which I am accustomed to stop during my nightwatches," he

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reports, 75 "belongs the ledge in the old Gothic cathedral" (p.59). On his second visit to England, Lichtenberg recorded that he had seen Much Ado About Nothing on December 10th, 1774, with the actor John Lee in the lead. Less than a year later, on November 7th, 1775, he noted that he had seen Garrick as Benedick for the seventh time. He had been to Othello during his first and shorter stay in England, and when he came to London next in 1774/75 he saw King Lear, Macbeth, and Hamlet repeatedly. 2 0 The fame of London theatrical life, and in particular of its most celebrated actor, David Garrick (1717-79), had spread to Germany, and visitors were eager to bring back news of his outstanding performances. On his second visit to England, Lichtenberg was able to see the admired actor, now very near the end of his career, in several of his most famous roles, and on October 15th, 1775, he was introduced to him by the favorite page of his host in London, the King. Garrick paid 20 Ed. Gumbert, Lichtenberg in England, Vol. II, pp. 58, 196, and 274.

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76 him the compliment to declare that he had never heard a foreigner speak so free of accent. 21 Admiration for Garrick's brilliance led Lichtenberg to analyse not only the craft by which he achieved his effects on the stage, but also the roles in which he starred. As Garrick specialised in expressing even minute and detailed changes in human thoughts and motivation, Hamlet became the part with which he was most identified. Lichtenberg saw him twice in this character. When his friend in Gottingen, the Anglophile Christian Heinrich Boie (1744-1806), asked for an account of this experience, Lichtenberg produced a penetrating analysis of Garrick's craft, and centered his report on the Hamlet performance. Boie was an influential critic himself, and the editor of the journal Deutsches Museum, which contributed much to the formation of German public opinion in literary matters. Altogether Lichtenberg wrote three letters for his friend, and in his usual thorough manner not only described the actor for whom the readers had indicated so much interest, but also the plays in which he excelled and even the whole 21 Ed. Letter No. 16, 1775. Joost, Briefwechsel, Vol. I, p. 289 to Johann Andreas Schernhagen, 569, Oct.

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77 English theatrical scene, as the background which made his perfection possible. To gain a better understanding of the reasons for Garrick's outstanding success, Lichtenberg also went to watch the actor Henderson as Hamlet. 22 The letters show passionate interest in the plays, and demonstrate the importance of Garrick for the growth of general interest in Shakespeare. 2 3 The precise and almost cinematic descriptions are the best record of Garrick's acting techniques which has ever come to light. 24 The influence of Hamlet on German literature became considerable, especially after Goethe integrated the role into the educational scheme of his Bildungsroman, Wilhelm Meister, on which he started work after Lichtenberg's letters appeared in the Deutsches Museum. Goethe's ideas on Hamlet, and the stage direction which Wilhelm Meister envisages 22 Ed. Joost, Briefwechsel, Vol. I, p. 802, Letter No. 475. 23 Lichtenberg's Visits to England As Described in his Letters and Diaries. Tr. and annot. Margaret L. Mare and W. H. Quarrell. Oxford studies in Modern Languages and Literature (1938; New York: Benjamin Blom, 1969) 24 George W. Stone, Jr. and George David Garrick. A Critical Biography Illinois University Press, 1979), p. 485. M. Kahrl, (Southern

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78 for the part, 25 are so consistent with Lichtenberg's report in the Second Letter that Goethe's views must have been influenced either by Lichtenberg or else by other accounts of Garrick's acting. Goethe's discourse on Hamlet in Wilhelm Meister aroused much enthusiasm for the play in Germany and exerted strong influence on romantic writers. Wilhelm Meister is therefore mentioned by Klaus Bartenschlager as a source of inspiration for the Nightwatches. Though Bartenschlager discusses the work in a romantic context and arrives at a nihilistic interpretation, his overall conclusions are surprisingly compatible with the author profile of Lichtenberg. He notes particularly Bonaventura's exceptional handling of quotes and references, which cause him to call the Nightwatches "a literary echo gallery in which references and allusions--with and without indication of sources--abound." Accordingly, a particular trademark of the author is that "Shakespeare is not discussed or merely quoted, but integrated into the narrative perspective and functionalised creatively for the narration." As an example of this technique, the metonymic use of the 25 Goethes Werke. Ed. by command of the Grand Duchess Sophia of Saxony (Weimar: Hermann Bohlaus Nachfolger, 1899), Vol. XXII, Wilhelm Meister, Book IV, Chap. xiii, pp. 73 ff.

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79 three witches in Macbeth is given; they are evoked to describe the fearful apparitions disturbing the dignity of the freethinker's death in the Second Nightwatch. Bartenschlager comments: "After Bonaventura has chosen the analogy of the Macbeth witches, associations seem to crowd in on him. 1126 Lichtenberg was an avid advocate of associative thought, and he had studied David Hartley's theories in this field in some depth, as they were propagated by his friend Joseph Priestley. 27 Talking of himself in the third person, Lichtenberg vividly describes his habit of thinking in associations: Before anyone can even recite the Lord's Prayer he can enumerate ten aspects (of a problem), his thoughts arrive as if brought to him by a hobgoblin. (D 120) The full extent of these associations was always difficult to comprehend, as Lichtenberg's comprehensive knowledge exceeded that of most of his contemporaries, and it cannot easily be recovered 26 Bartenschlager, p. 349, p. 353. 27 David Hartley (1705-57) attributes the evolution of higher concepts to association of basic ideas. His Observations on Man, his Frame, his Duty, and his Expectations was published in 1749, but acquired a wider readership when Priestley edited and republished it in 1774 as Hartley's theory of the human mind on the Principle of the association of ideas with essays relating to the subject of it. After his return from the second sojourn in England, Lichtenberg' s Notebook E shows intensive reading of this work, E 453 ff.

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80 now, when so much of the eighteenth-century epistemology is no longer generally accessible. But where it is possible to follow Lichtenberg's thoughts in some detail, their depth is shown to derive from the habitual comparing and super-imposing of various ideas, and by this method he manipulates common concepts to yield multifaceted meaning. Bonaventura masters the same technique, and it enables him to say much with an exceptional economy of words. The Macbeth-witches are a case in point. On his nocturnal rounds Kreuzgang notices "three figures ... creeping like carnival masks along the churchyard wall." Notwithstanding a hint of carnival, a sinister impression is created by a preceding flash of lightning as well as by the cemetery location, and the feeling of doom is confirmed when "the three had dissolved into the air like Macbeth's witches" (p. 39). Later ''the air cast bubbles, and the three Macbeth ghosts were suddenly visible again, as if the storm wind had whirled them there by their pates. The lightning illuminated twisted devil's masks and snaky hair and the whole hellish contrivance" (pp. 41 and 43). Paucity of invention can hardly account for the repetition of a metaphor by an author of Bonavenura's complexity, especially as the second passage

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81 demonstrates that when he uses few words it is not for want of finding apt expressions. According to Boswell, Johnson said of Shakespeare's witches: "They are beings of his own creation; they are a compound of malignity and meanness, without any abilities. 1128 These negative qualities characterize exactly the evil apparitions in the Nightwatches and their mixture of destructiveness and intellectual impotence. To consider such passages in tandem is like reading the text through a three-dimensional viewer: it yields a depth of perception which remains hidden from the unaided eye. Bonaventura uses the insights accumulated by Shakespeare and Johnson to gain access to an enlarged view of existence, but he directs the focus onto new and different aspects. This "strong perspectivism" is commended by Bartenschlager, who notices that only such Shakespearean motifs are used as are compatible with Kreuzgang's philosophy. Such emphasis is achieved by "selection, partial integration, contrasting, parody and various quite original variations. 1129 All these devices unite to create new issues out of Shakespeare's plays in which, however, Hamlet is constantly discernible as the dominant voice. 2 8 Boswell, p. 1017. 29 Bartenschlager, p. 359.

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82 Hermann Michel saw in this leitmotif a borrowing from Hamlet. 3 0 Bonaventura, however, does not lift ideas from other authors without thorough scrutiny; and during the process he transforms and revises what he has found. Consequently Kreuzgang does not quote Hamlet, but relives relevant aspects of his experience, and thus the references to Shakespeare are code-words which can be used to understand Kreuzgang's deeper motives and aims. The information that Kreuzgang "was once playing Hamlet, as guest role, in a court theatre" (p.199) seems inconsistent with the casual aside that he also "limped by appearance" nature and (p. 53). did not have the best The role-playing should therefore be accepted on a higher level, where it can explain various of the nightwatchman's rather confusing characteristics, such as his intellectual and ineffectual reactions to evil, his self-analysing despair of the world and of his own indecisive helplessness, his dread of the unknown beyond the grave, his unsatisfied need to understand what is going on around him and what part he should take in the proceedings. Kreuzgang's reactions to the ills of the world, or rather his lack of them, find their explanation in 30 Michel, Einleitung, pp. xxviii-xxix.

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83 Hamlet's words when these are taken in their entirety. The few hints and quotations in the text of the Nightwatches act merely fuller information which as is signposts to the contained in Shakespeare's works. Like the doomed Prince of Denmark, Kreuzgang is basically an idealist with a rational, sophisticated mind which perceives with uncompromising clarity the wrongs of the world. But at the same time his thoughtfulness prevents him from attempting any remedial action, for his exceptional intelligence recognizes clearly that the results of any human enterprise, however well meant and planned, are destined to elude human control. Hamlet's introspective anguish and emotional conflicts are therefore as much a part of the nightwatchman's nature as his consequent alienation from his fellow men, for they regard as madness what in truth is a form of higher, though frustrated and impotent wisdom. Shakespeare furnishes rich examples of those types of madness which constitute extreme states of the human mind. This dimension of his work is highlighted when Kreuzgang is confined to the lunatic asylum, for he assumes the pseudonym Hamlet for an exchange of letters with the love of his life, who in turn has so intensely identified herself with the

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84 role of Ophelia that she has assumed the name and gone mad herself. Unconventional love letters result and are presented in the Fourteenth Nightwatch. The unexpected change in genre baffled critics until Rita Terr as found a correspondence between the structure of the Nightwatches and Juvenal, who employs the epistolary form in his Twelfth and Thirteenth Satire. 31 In the tightly structured context of Kreuzgang's self-revelations, the parallel should be considered as an indication that the letters are to be read in a satirical, self-mocking context and that the world of Juvenal is never far from the author's mind. A connection like this removes the love affair with a crazed actress in the lunatic asylum from grotesque melodrama to the menippean realm of a search for absolute truth and final meaning, while the names under which the correspondence is conducted alert the reader to interpret Bonavnetura with Shakespeare in mind. playing reinforces a tradition, that the At the same time this role leitmotif of the menippean world is a stage on which everybody has been allotted a part without being given a choice in the selection. Shakespeare has varied this metaphor again and again; the best known 31 Rita Terras, p. 25.

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85 version is delivered by Jaques, the fool in As You Like It, which Lichtenberg saw performed in London on October 18, 1775: All the world's a stage, And all men and women merely players; They have their exits and entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts. (Act II, Sc. VII) Following this famed statement Jaques traces man's transformation from hopeful infant through youth and manhood to the "pantaloon," the fool, and finally to his "second childishness and mere oblivion/sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything," thus paraphrasing the "nothing" with which Kreuzgang's own narration comes to an end. The constant allusions to Shakespeare in the Nightwatches alert the reader to the nature of Kreuzgang's predicament. He is not wrestling with purely personal problems, but with questions which have agitated profound minds throughout history, and for which Shakespeare has found the most vivid and memorable, and at the same time generally accessible expression. Kreuzgang approaches the quest freshly and with some new insights, notably from Kant's critical inquiries into the potential of the human mind, which are especially evoked in the exchange of letters with Ophelia. As such profound questions admit of no

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86 definite responses, he cannot be expected to advance further than Shakespeare, and therefore follows Jaques' conclusions: It is all role, the role itself and the playactor who is behind it, and in him in turn his thoughts and plans and enthusiasms and buffooneries--all belong to the moment and swiftly flee, like the word on the comedian's lips. (p. 209) When he concludes his last letter: "Love me, in a word, without further pondering," (p. 211) the seeming flippancy reveals in fact the wisdom which recognizes love as the one experience by which man can transcend his isolation in space and time. 32 The epistolary interpolation in the Fourteenth Nightwatch provides one of the numerous examples of Bonaventura' s virtuosity in blending ideas from the full range of sources from which Western civilisation drew its inspiration and strength. This creative approach to outstanding works of the intellect accords with the precepts of the enlightenment which Lichtenberg endeavoured to promote. To him the inevitable prerequisite for meaningful artistic 32 Cf. Eccl. IX, 9: "Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun." Like Shakespeare's insights, those of Ecclesiastes also run consistently through the Nichtwatches.

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87 achievement was familiarity with the views held by the great thinkers of all ages, combined with personal probing into the methods by which they arrived at their conclusions. These he wanted constantly tested, for he agreed with Johnson in the "Preface to Shakespeare" What mankind have long possessed thy have often examined and compared; and if they persist to value the possession, it is because frequent comparisons have confirmed opinion in its favour. Shakespeare, that "comprehensive genius" as Johnson calls him, 33 is constantly used in the Nightwatches as a touchstone with which Kreuzgang tests the validity of his own opinions. Bartenschlager describes the work as somber, and as the most nihilistic prose work of the German Romantic Epoch, as well as that of the greatest genius. 34 Its romantic and despairing elements are, however, already present in Shakespeare, especially in those works which are quoted or alluded to by Kreuzgang, who knows and uses them in the assimilatory way which Lichtenberg recommended and practiced. 33 Ed. Adams, "Preface to Shakespeare," pp 3 2 9 3 3 6 34 Bartenschlager, p. 347.

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88 Most of the plays which are worked into the fabric of the Nightwatches were made memorable to Lichtenberg through the sensitive interpretations of Garrick, and he wrote about this experience: "To act like Garrick and to write like Shakespeare are the effects of very deep-seated causes. 11 He elaborated this thought at various times, for he wanted to recommend the art of these men as an example to those idealistic young German writers who expected genius to inspire them as if they were possessed and without much effort on their part. about Garrick: He therefore stressed Almost all the newer English authors, who are so much read, imitated, and aped by us, were his friends. He helped form them, while they in their turn helped to form him. Man was his study, from the cultured and artificial denizens of the salons of st. James, down to the savage creatures in the eating-houses of St. Giles. He attended the same school as Shakespeare, and like the latter, did not wait for inspiration, but worked hard (for in England all is not left to genius, but worked hard for); by this school I mean London, where a man with such a talent for observation can learn as much by experience in a year as in a whole lifetime spent in some little town, where all have the same hopes and fears, the same subjects for wonder and gossip and nothing is out of the ordinary. 35 As Lichtenberg shared the eighteenth-century belief that literature is the repository of man's accumulated wisdom, he regarded all 35 Ed. Mare, Lichtenberg's Visits to England, pp. 11, 8. its

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89 manifestations with seriousness. His certainty about the importance of literature turned him into one of the first and foremost who saw the inherent dangers in German idealism, which centered more and more on grand and sublime concepts and progressively lost touch with reality. The literary controversies into which this attitude involved him vibrate through various parts of the Nightwatches, notably in the "Dithyramb on Spring" (p. 189) and in passages where the playwrights Iffland and Kotzebue are ridiculed. One such text follows directly on an exclamation in which Kreuzgang couples Hamlet's famous question "To be or not to be" with an invocation of the devil, showing that even when Bonaventura uses common expletives he remains conscious of literary precedent, for Shakespeare often uses the devil to indicate spontaneous or emphatic speech. Hamlet, for instance, when reminded that his father died four months ago and that it is time to cease mourning, calls out: "Nay then, let the devil wear black, for I'll have a suit of sables" (Act III, Sc. II). The effect of that single dark figure among colourful Lichtenberg. courtiers is The stranger vividly in black, described by the enigmatic "tall manly figure, wrapped in a cloak" who "strode

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90 through the arch and stood on a grave stone" in the Fourth Nightwatch (p. 76), brings Hamlet to mind all the more, as Kreuzgang continues: I always step before an alien unusual human life with the same feelings as before a curtain behind which a Shakespearean drama is to be produced; and I like it best if the former as well as the latter is a tragedy, for, besides genuine seriousness, I can suffer only tragic jest and such fools as in King Lear; precisely because these alone are truly audacious and carry on their clownery en gros, and without regard, over the whole of human life. (p. 67) As Kreuzgang himself identifies with Hamlet, projection of that figure onto another character should be an indication that Kreuzgang sees himself, or part of himself, in the strangers he meets during his watch. He achieves the association by various means. When he introduces the poet he tells of having been just such a poet himself (p. 31), in other cases the connections are more circumspect. When he calls a vagrant, of whom nothing else is told but that he is dying in poverty and solitude, a Joseph, whom "the brothers have cast out," it must be remembered that Kreuzgang sees himself as such a Joseph figure, spurned by others for the superior qualities of his intellect. He watches as this pathetic "beggar with neither house nor home fights against slumber, which wants to lay him so sweetly and enticingly in death's arms," and his fear of consequences prevents him from interference. It is

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91 then that he repeats Hamlet's question: "Shall I cheat death of a beggarly life? By the devil, I really do not know what is better--to be or not to be!" (p. 159) Hamlet, in the same predicament decided for life, because he feared that existence after death might be worse. Kreuzgang elected to let the beggar die, for "the brothers are not worthy that Joseph walk among them!--Let him sleep away." With Hamlet's situation in mind, his judgement would indicate at least a strong hope for a better existence after death, though like Hamlet, Kreuzgang cannot be absolutely sure and thus leaves the question open. Such associations abound in the text, but they are not revealed at first sight or by casual reading, just as it is not likely that the beginning of the Nightwatches will immediately be identified with the first scene of Hamlet. Yet in both works a nightwatch establishes the dark and sombre mood in which the plot is to unfold, in both a watchman starts his round of duty, and a ghost is almost instantly mentioned. Kreuzgang introduces spectres in a seemingly irrelevant aside, remarking that he has protected himself "against the evil spirits with the sign of the cross" (p. 29). Lichtenberg shared an interest

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92 in superstitious beliefs with other thinkers of his age, such as Johnson, who also wanted to fathom ideas which persist so universally notwithstanding their seeming irrationality. The question of whether ghosts can and do exist falls also into this category and exercised especially Johnson's mind. Lichtenberg himself was mainly interested, when he saw the ghost of Hamlet's father in London, by what means Garr i ck created awe and terror and left his audience with a lasting impression of fright. He shares this memorable event in his "Second Letter from England," where he reports that while the ghost "stands motionless," the fear which it exudes is reflected and magnified by Garrick's reaction. This he describes in minute detail, concluding: His whole demeanour is so expressive of terror that it made my flesh creep even before he began to speak. The almost terror-struck silence of the audience, which preceded his appearance and filled one with a sense of insecurity, probably did much to enhance this effect. 36 Lichtenberg emphasized in his writings consistently that he venerated Shakespeare as one of the greatest masters of language and as an unsurpassed observer of the hidden springs of human behaviour, and that he considered this combination indispensable in the study of man. His "Letters from 36 Ed. Mare, Lichtenberg's Visits to England, p. 10.

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93 England" pay special tribute to the great English dramatist, and at the same time they demonstrate, how seriously Lichtenberg took his own precept that intellectual gains can only be expected when the best that is available has been absorbed, and then is integrated into new thought patterns. His voluminous writings and letters show that references to Shakespeare were part of his normal system of thinking, and that he used them habitually to test his own conclusions about life. He practised and recommended this method years before the superb translations of Schlegel and Tieck turned Shakespeare into one of the best loved authors in Germany. Tieck and the brothers Schlegel, incidentally, had been students in Gottingen and were known to Lichtenberg personally. After available their masterful and Wilhelm Meister translations became had set the tone, quotations from Shakespeare and allusions to his works became common practice for educated Germans. Imaginative variations of his thoughts, however, and creative use of his language and ideas, still remain a rarity. Lichtenberg and Bonaventura are outstanding exceptions.

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CHAPTER III WILLIAM HOGARTH (1697-1764) AND VISUAL CONCEPTS IN THE NIGHTWATCHES. While Shakespearian allusions are the most immediate signs of English influences in the Nightwatches, references to Hogarth and his serio comic subjects are also particularly noticeable. These merit special attention in the search for the author, as well as for the meaning and intent of the Nightwatches, for this English master of the pictorial moral satire figures much less frequently in German literature than Shakespeare. Writers who valued Hogarth for his insights into human nature rather than for his wit and dramatic subject matter are rarer still. In England it was mainly Fielding who acknowledged Hogarth's keen observations of human nature and his didactic intentions, and he paid repeated homage to these gifts in all his three major novels. His exclamation in Tom Jones after the escape of Sophia, "O Shakespeare, had I thy pen! O Hogarth had I thy pencil!" (X, viii), shows the high regard for the artist which Lichtenberg tried to communicate in his commentaries on Hogarth's prints. 94

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William Hogarth 95 (1697-1764) was the first English painter to gain international acclaim. That he is increasingly recognized as a key interpreter of the English eighteenth century life, is demonstrated by the growing habit of illustrating books from and about this era with his works. These were promoted in Germany already during his lifetime by the efforts of Lessing and his cousin Christlob Mylius, who had obtained the collaboration of the artist himself in his translation of Hogarth's aesthetic treatise The Analysis of Beauty (1753). The German version appeared only a year after publication in London. In an age when fluent elegance in writing had become a widespread accomplishment, Hogarth's clumsy, awkward prose failed to arouse the response which he had expected for his theories on art. While this handicap was removed in the German rendering, the =Z~e=r~g~l=1==e=d=e=r~u=n=g_._~d~e=r=---=S=c=h=o=n=h=e=1=-=t nevertheless attracted little notice. Only gradually were some of its ideas accepted and integrated, especially his concept of the line of perfect beauty as a wave, because nature does not know any straight lines. The idea was later adopted by Friedrich Schlegel as a guideline to writing, when he recommended the Arabeske as pattern for the construction of novels. Wolfgang Paulsen suggests, therefore, that the structure of the

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96 Nightwatches follows the wavy line of narration as demanded by Schlegel, and put into practice in his own novel Lucinde (1799) 1 Kreuzgang uses the same argument with which Hogarth commended his wave-like line of beauty, for he refers repeatedly to nature and real life when he justifies his narrative techniques. He uses the metaphor of an undulating river for his digressive and convoluted scheme of narration: "my story ... like a narrow stream, winds through the rocky and sylvan passages which I heaped all around" (p.199). 2 Lichtenberg already recommended this mode of writing in 1770 when he remarked that he regarded this undulatory technique the most suitable, long before he knew about Hogarth's line of beauty or Sterne's method en Ziczac (B 131). This remark is characteristically preceded by thoughts on how the zigzag path can be transposed from artistic convention to real life, for Lichtenberg was always anxious to apply the lessons of art and literature to reality. Preoccupied with the sequence of birth, life and death, he proposes that the path between the two unalterable points of beginning and end can be 1 Paulsen, Nachwort, pp. 163-80, pp. 178-79. 2 The German translation for Hogarth's "Line of Beauty" is Schlangenlinie. Bonaventura uses the verb schlanqeln, thus providing the link with Hogarth.

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97 elongated if they are not connected by a straight and single minded approach, but rather by a meandering effort of crowding as much varied experience between them as possible (B 129). Though most of Lichtenberg's aphorisms were only published after his death, he shared his ideas freely during his lectures and discussions. The brothers Schlegel were among his students, as was Ludwig Tieck. They were all personally known to him, and how far their romanticism was shaped by the prevailing attitude of the late enlightenment in Gottingen, of which Lichtenberg was the most visible exponent, has yet to be investigated in depth. While Hogarth's treatise on beauty in art was largely neglected, the German imagination instead was captured by the Gedanken uber die Nachahmung der griechischen Werke in der Malerei und Bildhauerkunst which Johann Joachim Winckelmann published in 1755. This work stimulated almost immediately widespread interest in the visual arts and their classic models, and presented Greek sculpture as the ideal of unsurpassable perfection. Greece itself was not readily accessible to the normal traveller at the time, so Rome became the focal point of desire for German intellectuals, and it remained so during the

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98 romantic period and until the expressionists re orientated aspiring artists to Paris. Automatic and often mindless veneration of classical works soon became fashionable as a result of Winckelmann's immense impact on German aesthetics. Kreuzgang ridicules this attitude in the episode of the "invalids' home of immortal gods and heroes, given shape amid a miserable humanity" (p. 193). He warns "a little dilettante" whom he finds worshipping "a Medici Venus without arms 'The divine backside is too elevated for you, and you cannot get up there, considering your puny stature, without breaking your neck!'" He thus paraphrases and parabolizes a concern which no longer worried the romantics, who had substituted the national for the classical past, but which excercised Lichtenberg, who opposed all conventional adulation, and proposed that great men should not be imitated in their works, but rather in the efforts and attitudes which resulted in their outstanding achievements. Kreuzgang endorses this opinion and his earthy, often irreverent satire is steeped in the realism of which Hogarth was the greatest visual master of h i s age. While Johann Kaspar Lavater (1741-1801), who created the fashion for physiognomy, presented only selected specimens of Hogarth's art, which emphasized

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99 deformed characters and depravity, Lichtenberg was always anxious--in literature, art and life--to consider all available aspects of a personality. His Commentaries on Hogarth have been largely ignored or dismissed by art critics, because they are concerned neither with Hogarth's painting techniques nor with aesthetics. Frederick Antal, interested in Hogarth's place in the history of ideas rather than in his influence on the development of painting, appreciates Lichtenberg's commentaries as a major contribution to the understanding of Hogarth's importance, as of his time. Antal acclaims the Gottingen professor as one of the foremost German experts on England, and as one of the most active mediators between the two cultures, and he calls him the outstanding exponent and greatest connoisseur of English thought in Germany. Politically, too, he favoured the English constitution ... No foreigner knew England ... more thoroughly, whether her court or her lower classes, her literature, theatre, art, philosophy or science. Nothing was more congenial to his rationalism and empiricism than the realism of English art and literature.3 Antal correctly implies that Lichtenberg, unlike so many of his contemporaries who also admired English achievements, did not copy English examples, but accepted from them what was congenial and in 3 Frederick Antal, Hogarth and his Place in European Art (New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1962), pp. 206-207.

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100 accordance with his own philosophy. What he admired in Hogarth was the gift for didactic satire, a positive realism which did not shrink from degradation but always left hope for improvement, and the unsurpassed genius to reveal in a single visual moment the true character of his figures, their past and even their possibilities for the future. Besides Lichtenberg it is Jean Paul (1763-1825) who among German writers most frequently refers to Hogarth. His "Preface" to E. T. A. Hoffmann's Phantasiestucke in Callots Manier was written in 1813, and shows that he appreciated the influence of Hogarth's engravings on literature. But he sees them as "poetische Zerrbilder," poetical caricatures, and places their worth below the work of Callot. 4 This French artist commanded indeed a much wider range of subjects than Hogarth, but in his dramatic scenes the single human being appears submerged into the mass of suffering or agitated mankind. Hogarth's particular gift, to strip the individual of all conventional masks, is ignored in Jean Paul's evaluation. This is the quality in Hogarth which Fielding and Lichtenberg most admired. Bonaventura recognizes 4 E. T. A. Hoffmans Werke. Ed. Georg Ellinger, 1st ed. (Berlin: Deutsches Verlagshaus Bong & Co., n.d.), p. 16.

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it, too, 101 and uses it to illustrate his own observations. He refers directly to Hogarth three times, and shows his exceptional familiarity with his world by using the name always attributively. In the Seventh Nightwatch, where Kreuzgang recalls being delivered to the madhouse for his satires on "killings of the soul by church and state," the court consisted of "half a dozen men with juridical masks before their countenance, under which they concealed their own scoundrel's physiognomy and the other half of their Hogarth face." He goes on to claim that "they understand the art of Rubens, with which he transformed a laughing face into a weeping one by means of a single stroke" (p. 119 and 121) thus demonstrating not only considerable knowledge in the field of painting, but also determination to apply it to life and literature. The reference to "the other half of their Hogarth face" presupposes unusual familiarity with Hogarth's heads, especially as it does not apply to the etching which would most easily suggest itself in the circumstances, The Bench, an assembly of judges of which Hogarth drew several versions. Horst Fleig found the correct source of the allusion in Lichtenberg's commentary to A Midnight Modern Conversation, a print of which Hogarth engraved the

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102 first version in 1733. In his almanac of 1786 Lichtenberg had already dealt with this popular scene which became known in Germany as the Punschgesellschaft, and when he began in 1794 to publish more detailed commentaries, he chose as his second subject for explanation the same print once again. In describing a prominent figure seated centrally behind the table, Lichtenberg interprets the drunk as a representative of the jus utrumgue, 5 and satirically twists this legal term into denoting the two sides of law: justice and injustice. Ingeniously, and with the help of several other word plays, he demonstrates that the drowsy asymmetrical face represents these two opposed aspects, with the left, or sinister side illustrating the law. 6 Fleig detected this source for Kreuzgang's metaphor, because his candidate for Bonaventura, August Klingemann, alluded to it in a theatrical review of 1807. Fleig draws explicit attention to the influence on the Nightwatches of the Hogarth-Lichtenberg volumes on which Klingemann wrote an article in 1804. 5 Jus utrumgue: the canonical and the secular (Roman) law in German legal parlance. 6 Prom1es, Vol. III, p. 693.

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103 Reinforcing the parallels which had already been noted (for instance by Gillespie) between Lichtenberg' s commentary on The Rake's Progress and the mad-house scenes in the Ninth Nightwatch, Fleig draws attention to the metaphor of microcosm which is used in both cases for the lunatic asylum, while the world at large is called the macrocosm. He also points out correspondences between the Eighth and Ninth Nightwatches and the last two prints of the Rake's Progress. 7 Commenting on Kreuzgang' s habit of describing events as if he had visualized them in a painting or in woodcuts, Fleig locates the link in Lichtenberg's Commentaries. He touches, however, only lightly on Kreuzgang's references to Hogarth's Finis or Tailpiece, and consequently concludes that the Hogarth-Lichtenberg model applies only in a limited sense. 8 Hogarth's Tailpiece is twice mentioned in the Nightwatches. It is used for literary satire on Kotzebue when Kreuzgang suggests that "time could fire the last pipe it smokes here with a scene from his last drama and, thus inspired, pass over to 7 Fleig, Literarischer Vampirismus, pp. 90-91, 71, 99, and 97. 8 Fleig, Literarischer Vampirismus, pp. 72-73, 71, and 75.

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eternity!" (p. 71). 104 August von Kotzebue (17611819), a prolific, successful but shallow dramatist who also churned out satires, tales and historical works, though mentioned five times by name in the Nightwatches, does not immediately seem predestined for presence at such a solemn moment. He had, however, crudely satirized Lichtenberg and his relationship to Maria Dorothea Stechard in a play Doktor Bahrdt mit der eisernen Stirn. The girl died barely aged seventeen before Lichtenberg could marry her. He was heartbroken and expressed repeatedly bitter resentment towards Kotzebue (e.g. J 794, 847, 867, 872, 873, 1231). A coded reference to Hogarth's Finis may be Ophelia's declaration that as she cannot escape her role she will read it to the very end--the exeunt omnes--behind which the actual "I" will probably begin (p. 213). The Latin stage direction accords perfectly with the theatre background to the letters in the Fourteenth Nightwatch, but Lichtenberg mentions in his almanac article that the words are visible in a book of comedies which Hogarth shows among the broken debris of his last engraving among other emblems of finality.9 9 Lichtenberg, Goettinger Taschenkalender fur das Jahr 1791. "II) Finis", pp. 206-210, p. 207.

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105 The Tailpiece is named the second time in the sixteenth Nightwatch, where its introduction into the opening sentence leaves no doubt that this chapter was intended by the author as the last and final one. Kreuzgang starts I wish my brush could complete this ultimatum and Hogarthian tail-piece quite distinctly before every man's eyes; unfortunately, however, the colours needed are lacking in the night, and I can make nothing but shadows and airy nebulosities flit before the lens of my magic lantern. (p. 229) While everything will now come to an end, life itself is experienced as a darkness in which man sees but indistinctly, and the lens of Kreuzgang's magic lantern paraphrases Paul's metaphor: "Now we see through a glass darkly ... 11 (1 Cor. XIII, 12). In both cases life is experienced as a penumbra! condition, "nothing but shadows," and it is merely lack of illumination which prevents man from perceiving the higher reality which is all around him. The nightwatches are thus but a metaphor for groping in a darkness so somnolent that most people fall asleep and refuse active participation, and even the alert and ever awake watchman cannot expect to see clearly and distinctly. Yet the effort is important, for by asserting that while on earth "man, that Oedipus, progress only as far as blindness, but not in a second plot to transfiguration" (p. 143),

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106 Kreuzgang affirms belief in a continuity of existence after death. The Tailpiece occupies a unique position in Hogarth's work. Lichtenberg acquired from the artist's widow in London the very copy on which Hogarth expended his last efforts. An article in his almanac of 1791 is dedicated to print under its most common title Finis, and Lichtenberg had the engraving reproduced in its entirety in spite of the small pocket-book format of his publication. He informs his readers that Hogarth announced a few months before his death in lighthearted company that his next work would show the end of everything on earth. During the ensuing surprise and banter one friend pointed out in fun that this would of necessity include the artist himself. Hogarth affirmed this with a deep sigh and told his friends that the sooner the end would come for him, the better. Hogarth engraved both the word "Finis" in large and legible letters on smoke exhaled by the enfeebled Father Time, and the title, The Bathos, or Manner of Sinking in Sublime Paintings, under the scene which he crammed with emblems of death and decay. In its total metonymity Finis evokes Hogarth's early beginning as an engraver of emblematic devices. There is no sense of hope or humor, and as other

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critics Lichtenberg missed intellectual level, though he 107 Hogarth's usual detected a spark of customary inventiveness in the darkly negative message of the gallows, the only object that remains erect in a scene of utter desolation and disintegration.lo Hogarth's fame as an interpreter of his age was achieved through passionate involvement with the important concerns of his time. Lichtenberg always propagated such an attitude as prerequisite to intellectual stature, and Antal recognizes this spiritual kinship by calling Lichtenberg's ''consuming interest in mankind--as consuming as Hogarth's. 1111 Hogarth was actively involved in most of the major concerns of his epoch, and Ronald Paulson regards it as one of the central facts of his life "that he was connected in some way with almost all the great philanthropies and humanitarian projects of his time--from the parliamentary committee on prison reform of 1729 to the Foundling Hospital, from St. Bartholomew's Hospital to the London (hospital] and the Bethlehem [ Bedlam] One cannot dissociate this obvious interest and involvement from the theme that lO "II) Finis," pp. 206, 208. 11 Antal, p. 207.

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108 runs through his engraved works. 12 He was equally abreast of literary and critical developments, for he was in constant demand to illustrate some of the most influential English authors of his century, such as Swift, Pope, Fielding and Sterne, and from his keen perception of their achievement developed personal bonds of esteem and friendship, especially with Henry Fielding. 13 Thus he gave a title to his ultimate work which links it so obviously with Peri Bathous or the Art of Sinking in Poetry, a literary satire from the Scriblerus Club, published under the pseudonym Martinus Scriblerus, the learned dunce whose lavish praise is meant as condemnation. This satire on shallow and pretentious writing is attributed mainly to Pope. It proceeds through brilliant manipulation of words and their double meaning to equate bathos, or the profound, with the low and therefore common, in art, which is satirically recommended as being most readily understood and thus most in demand. Chapter XIII deals with "A Project for the Advancement of the Bathos" and recommends "a Rhetorical Chest of 12 Ronald Paulson, Hoqarth: His Life, Art, and Times. 2 Vols. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1971), Vol. II, p. 35. 13 See Relationships Press), 1948. R. E. Moore, Hogarth's Literary (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota

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109 Drawers" into which tropes and similes from all times should be collected, while "every Composer will soon be taught the Use of this Cabinet, and how to manage all the Registers of it, which will be drawn out much in the Manner of those in an Organ." 14 Hogarth followed Pope's advice and heaped around the expiring Father Time every conceivable symbol of death and decline, but by drawing attention to his source of inspiration, he provided a ludicrous perspective on a scene which is otherwise noticeably lacking in light touches. The comic relief which he usually adds freely to his tragic scenes is in this last instance only provided by the incongruity of a satiric title and the tragic content. This technique of abrupt juxtaposition of extremes is disturbing to the reader and viewer. Some of Bonaventura's most perturbing passages rely on the same method. Ronald Paulson sees in the subject of this last print "the whole world regarded tragically when it is of course only comic," 15 but Antal also notes that in his ultimate work Hogarth "mocks at painting in the grand style, even if in his customary ambiguous way, and pokes fun at the trivial objects it sometimes 14 Poetry and Prose of Alexander Pope, pp. 428-29. 15 Ed. Paulson, Hogarth: His Life, Art and Times, p. 408.

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110 depicts." 16 Awareness of the comic undercurrents within the unremittingly sombre scene is strongly expressed in both critical appraisals. In establishing the Tailpiece as the point of reference for his ultimate nightwatch, Bonaventura reminds his readers of the stoical and creative way in which Hogarth awaited his death, and exhorts them to use this last work as a visual aid and complement to his own final statements. At the same time, he follows Hogarth's method of revealing his sources and thereby introduces not only a distancing device, but also a burlesque element into the grief and bewilderment aroused by the knowledge of certain death. The universality of this despair is demonstrated by the number and long tradition of the emblems for the end of all things which Hogarth has assembled. Bonaventura matches these by the many references to mankind's dread of death and the human impotence to penetrate with rational means beyond it. In both cases, puns and allusions are used to create the mood of inescapability and inevitability, and their prevalence reveals a pattern of deliberate intent. Hogarth's skill in working with allusions and puns is well recognized, and Paulson describes his last work as punning "on a scale unprecedented even 1 6 Antal, pp. 167-68.

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111 in his work. 1117 Bartenschlager observes a similar concentration of coded cues when he calls the Nightwatches "a literary echo gallery. 1118 Hogarth's integration into Bonaventura's narration is no less thorough and organic than that of Shakespeare, and many other Hogarthian touches can be discerned besides those which have already been noted by critics. The poor poet, whose towering aspirations contrast ludicrously with the demeaning restrictions imposed on him by his poverty, is another figure which connects the world of Kreuzgang to that of Hogarth. In his Distressed Poet (1736) Hogarth was one of the first to highlight through art the plight of the unsuccessful idealist who has to subsist in a garret while planning to improve the universe. Notes scattered all over the floor testify to his disconsolateness, and at the same time reveal the direction in which his thoughts are taking wing. A drawn sword hints at thoughts of suicide. A famished dog (not mice as in the Eighth Nightwatch, p.129) gnaws on a book, symbol for the highest achievement a writer can attain. The painting, Antal 17 Ed. Paulson, Hogarth: His Life, Art and Times, p. 409. 18 Bartenschlager, p. 349.

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112 suggests, may have been inspired by Henry Fielding's Author's Farce (1730) 19 Lichtenberg discussed the Distressed Poet in his almanac of 1790, where he added the subtitle "Der Dichter in der Noth"--the poet in need/despair. A suicide who hanged himself in a garret was shown by Hogarth in his Gin Lane (1751). An almanac article of 1795 deals with this and its companion print Beer street. When Lichtenberg began pis more elaborate separate commentaries in 1794, he started the new series with Strolling Actresses dressing in a Barn (1738) 20 The exuberance of emblematic detail in this print lends itself particularly well to sophisticated interpretation, and therefore it had already been selected as one of the subjects for the first of Lichtenberg's Hogarth articles in 1784. The incongruity of the poetic imagination in the face of a humbling reality is once again the general topic of the satire. A company of strolling players is shown in the squalor of a barn preparing themselves for their stage appearance as queens and goddesses. An actor, dressed as deus ex machina, hangs his socks for 19 Antal, p. 102. 20 Promies, Vol. III, pp. 669-88.

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113 drying on the theatrical thunderclouds, a detail echoed when the marionette theater director in the Fifteenth Nightwatch hangs himself on stage from a cloud (p. 227). Each object is an integral part of the scene and at the same time an emblem, and every gesture and action is loaded with actual as well as symbolic meaning. life behind the Hogarth offers a hilarious view of curtains, and at the same time a theater-metaphor that unmasks the pretensions and the tragedy of life. Lichtenberg starts his exposition with the question, why men are present when the artist calls his work Strolling Actresses, and he concludes that from Hogarth significance must always be expected, most of all in his choice of titles. Lichtenberg uses all available clues--theatre bills strewn on the floor between broken eggs, a chamber pot and a discarded pair of breeches, and an Act of Parliament against strolling players (1737) prominently deposited next to another chamber pot near an emperor's crown--to detect in the crowded scene a coded call of defiance by the spirited women against the parliamentary supression of their art. Thus a comical, lively scene contains a universal parable of life, but on another level presents a particular

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114 dilemma to which Hogarth wants to draw special attention. 21 Such subtle, multi-layered satire, and the art of fusing several messages together delighted Lichtenberg, who was himself a master of suggesting implications with the fewest possible words. So is Bonaventura, who adds to his impressive display of theatre-metaphors when he has his Clown declare in the Prologue: What is the point of seriousness anyway? Man is a facetious animal by birth, and he merely acts on a larger stage than do the actors on the small one inserted into this big one as in Hamlet; however importantly he may want to take things, in the wings he must still put off crown, sceptre and theatrical dagger and creep into his little dark chamber as an exited comedian, until it pleases the director to announce a new comedy. (p. 139) 22 Thus the Clown sums up in a nutshell Hogarth's parable of the strolling actresses as interpreted by Lichtenberg. Placing the crown next to the chamber pot is a typical Hogarthian ploy. While Lichtenberg particularly admired these touches, Goethe spoke for most educated Germans when he found fault with such crude naturalism. Moore points out that Fielding, 21 Promies, Vol. III, pp. 669-71. 22 The reference to "a new comedy" is one of the many indications that Kreuzgang expects existence after death.

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115 like Hogarth, met with similar objections in England, for he "refused to idealize his characters, thus to most contemporaties they were 'low. 11123 The Nightwatches stand in the same tradition and have still to contend with criticism of their deliberate menippean mixture of the coarse and ludicrous with the sublime. The theater perspective is also used in the illustrations for a new edition of The New Metamorphosis (first published 1708), one of the first commissions with which Hogarth was entrusted. The work is an opportunistic adaptation of Apuleius' Golden Ass by Charles Gildon (1665-1724), an English writer now mainly remebered through Pope's disparaging mention of him in the Dunciad. Gildon added considerable spice to the classic tale by transforming his protagonist not into an ass, but rather a Bolognese lap dog, an animal with considerably better opportunities to observe human frailties at close quarters. The racy interludes which he introduced were mainly of the Decameronic kind. Most of the serious concerns which distinguish The Golden Ass by Apuleius were thereby lost; but Gildon tried to preserve some vestige of symbolic significance by treating his main characters 23 Moore, p. 157.

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116 allegorically. The protagonist is therefore turned into Fantasio, a permanent child in appearance but a man in mind and deed, while his mother is Donna Musa des Intentiones. The second edition in 1724 was illustrated by the comparatively inexperienced and unknown Hogarth, and unlike his later practice he simply supplied mostly reissues of already existing plates. 24 The frontispiece shows two asses accompanying Apuleius and Lucian, the classic masters of the menippea, and the originators of the plot. Two satyrs support the four figures, thereby advertising The New Metamorphosis as a satire. These six figures foreground a scene from Gildon's tale. Hogarth added only minor but significant details: a church which represents the spiritual dimension required of the menippea, and a curtain through which a view of the action can be gained, a visible expression of the satirical contention that life is but a stage play. From the original, Gildon retained the long tale of Amor and Psyche, one of the earliest digressions in menippean literature, and the most popular of them all. It has no other connection with the main story than that it is recounted to comfort and encourage a 24 Ronald Paulson, Hogarth's Graphic Works. 1st compl. ed. rev. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1970). Vol. II, Nr. 38, Cat. Nos. 35 ff.

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117 damsel in distress, but it suggests lofty spiritual dimensions behind the tragic-comic trials and tribulations of the main plot. The Fourth Plate in this series ( Nr. 41, Cat. Nr. 38) is of special interest in connection with the Nightwatches. It is the only one which Hogarth added himself, and it could almost pass for an illustration of the moment in the Nightwatches where the alchemist shoemaker finds the coffer containing a child instead of the expected treasure. Hogarth's infant is fully dressed, and the scene, instead of crossroads, is a dilapidated room in a desolate castle to which the dwarf Fantasio had been forced to flee, hidden in a trunk. Of the three persons present, the servant who accompanied the boy corresponds to the shoemaker, especially as he stands near a tripod which Hogarth added--just like Bonaventura--to introduce a touch of the supernatural can be described (p. 65). The mistress of the ruin in the very words which Kreuzgang uses for his gypsy mother, a "great gigantic figure," (p. 2 3 3) "with shaggy hair tousled about her forehead" (p. 61). In Gildon's Metamorphosis she is the witch Invidosa, and the little refugee who seeks her protection is horror-struck when he finds that she expects him to become her lover. In his reluctant embrace she changes, however, into a

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118 beautiful young girl, and a passionate love affair with a tragic ending ensues. Gildon's enchantress is thus a variation of the mythical demons who personify the human passions which afford a vision of never ending bliss, but lead to loneliness and death. Her affinity to Kreuzgang's gypsy mother illuminates the allegorical significance of his ill-assorted parents, and the human dichotomy which they symbolize. A woman very much like that appeared to Lichtenberg in the last dream he found significant enough to record. This occurred during the night of February 9th to 10th in the month of his death, and concerns a strange and seemingly senseless encounter in a country pub where people played dice. A "tall bony woman" sat nearby and knitted, reminiscent of the goulish female-spectators around the guillotine, who counted their stitches together with the heads that rolled. When the dreamer asked her what could be won in the dice game, she answered "Nothing," and the encounter ends on this single word as tantalisingly as the Nightwatches, leaving the reader to draw his own conclusions (L 707). While such a woman represents irrational and subconscious traits, the spiritual side of humanity with its intellectual demands and unfulfillable striving towards

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L 119 perfection, as symbolised by gold, is represented by the alchemist father. The pain and pressure exerted by the incompatability of such extremes in human nature is expressed by Bonaventura with the emblematic skill of Hogarth by a term from genetics, lex cruciata (p. 111) While this indicates the biological law of crossbreeding, the expression could also be translated as the rule that life equals agonizing suffering. The child seen on the Third Woodcut (p. 63) is as yet undisturbed by conflicting passions. The dichotomy of body and soul is, however, already apparent as symbolized by the particulary racy Shrovetide plays of the shoemaker and mastersinger Hans Sachs (1494-1576), on which the infant Kreuzgang sits, and the book from which he feeds his mind, Behme' s Aurora. The body position emphasizes the split in human personality once more by assigning the books to his upper and lower regions, and by allowing him close contact with the earthy artisan poet, while access to the mystic speculations of Behme is attained through the windows of the soul, the eyes. Bonaventura uses paintings to establish emblems and allegories in Hogarth's manner, and to compress his narration, while at the same time activating the

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reader's imagination and participation. 120 For this reason the early years of the poor poet are also explained through a painting, which supplies instant information about a happy and loved childhood (p. 131) Numerous phrases and metaphors witness to Bonaventura's habitual pictorial thinking. Lichtenberg' s interest in the visual arts was intense, for he regarded them as a prime repository for the development, change and dispersal of ideas. His knowledge of the great works of art was extensive, and he was especially well placed while in London as guest of the King and of many great houses to acquaint himself with great works, as well as with th