Few American poems, indeed, have been held in better or more constant remembrance than the ballad of "Hans Breitmann's Barty;" for the words just quoted have actually passed into a proverbial expression.
The other ballads of the present collection, likewise published in several newspapers, were first collected in by Mr. They are much of the same character as "The Barty" - most of them celebrating the martial career of "Hans Breitmann," whose prototype was a German, serving during the war in the 15th Pennsylvanian cavalry, and who - we have it on good authority - was a man of desperate courage whenever a cent could be made, and one who never fought unless something could be made.
The "rebs" "gobbled" him one day; but he re-appeared in three weeks overloaded with money and valuables. One of the American critics remarks: Their English has not yet become a distinct dialect; and it would even be difficult to fix at present the varieties in which it occurs.
One of its prominent peculiarities, however, is easily perceived: We must, of course, assume that the reader of this little volume is well acquainted both with English and German.
But the imperfect English utterances of the German, newly arrived in America, that, in proportion to his intelligence, his opportunities, and the length of time spent by him among his new English-speaking countrymen, he will sooner or later rid himself of the crudenesses of his speech, thus preventing it from becoming fixed.
Many of the Germans who have emigrated and are still emigrating to America belong to the well-educated classes, and some possess a very high culture. Our poet has therefore presented his typical German, with perfect propriety, in a variety of situations which would be imperceptible within which the the dialect necessarily moves, and has endowed him with character, even where the local colour is wanting.
In it the Germans convince themselves that, as their hero can no longer plunder the rebels, he ought to plunder the nation, and they resolve on getting him elected to the State Legislature.
They accordingly form a committee, and formulate for their candidate six "moral ideas" as his platform. These they show to their Yankee helper, Hiram Twine, who, having changed his politics fifteen times, and managed several elections, knows how matters should be handled.
He says the moral ideas are very fine, but not worth a "dern;" and instead of them proclaims the true cry, that Breitmann is sound upon the goose, about which he tells a story. Then it is reported that the German cannot win, and that, as he is a soldier, he has been sent into the political field only to lead the forlorn hope and get beaten.
In answer to this, Twine starts the report that Smith has sold the fight to Breitmann, a notion which the Americans take to at once - "For dey mostly dinked id de naturalest ding as efer couldt pefall For to sheat von's own gonstituents is de pest mofe in de came, Und dey nefer sooposed a Dootchman hafe de sense to do de same.
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If any enlightened man vill seeken in his Bibel, he will find dat a publican is a barty ash sells lager; und de ding is very blain, dat a re-publican ish von who sells id 'gain und 'gain.
As to parties, the principles of both are the same - plunder - and "any man who gifes me his fote, - votefer his boledics pe, - shall alfays pe regardet ash bolidigal friendt py me.
And when Breitmann announces that he sells the best beer in the city, and stands drinks gratis to his "bolidigal friendts," and orders in twelve barrels of lager for the meeting, he is unanimously voted "a brickbat, and no sardine.
He gets tremendously be-fogged in the process, but that is no matter - - "Ash der Hegel say of his system,' Dat only von mans knew - Vot der tyfel id meant; and he couldn't tell,' und der Jean Paul Richter, too, - Who saidt, 'Gott knows, I meant somedings vhen foorst dis buch I writ, - Boot Gott only weiss vot das buch means now, for I hafe forgotten it!
The village is German and Democrat.
Smith has forgotten his meeting, and Twine, who is very like Smith, and rides into the village to watch the meeting, is taken by the Germans for Smith.
On this, Twine resolves to personate Smith, and give his supporters a dose of him. Accordingly, on being asked to drink, he tells the Germans that none but hogs would drink their stinking beer, and that German wine was only made for German swine.
Then he goes to the meeting, and, having wounded their feelings in the tenderest point, - the love of beer, - attacks the next tenderest, - their love for their language, - by declaring that he will vote for preventing the speaking of it all through the States; and winds up by exhorting them to stop guzzling beer and smoking pipes, and set to work to un-Germanise themselves as soon as possible.
On this "dere coomed a shindy," with cries of "Shoot him with a bowie-knife," and "Tar and feather him. But the village votes for Breitmann, and be "licks der Schmit. A certain colonel, with his men, did really, during the war, go to a church in or near Nashville, and, as the saying is, "kicked up the devil, and broke things," to such an extent, that a serious reprimand from the colonel's superior officer was the result.Dann wirst du erst Deutschfertig seyn, For a languashe ideál.
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