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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

Sayyid Husayn recanted under torture



[Sidenote: Richard Wagner]

[Sidenote: Lenau]

[Sidenote: Lenau's pessimism]

The profound disappointment of the German patriots at the downfall of their political ideals found its counterpart in German letters and music. Georg Gottfried Gervinus, the historian, who had taken so active a part in the attempted reorganization of Germany, turned from history to purely literary studies. It was then that he wrote his celebrated "Study of Shakespeare." Richard Wagner, who had escaped arrest only by fleeing from Dresden, gave up active composition to write pamphlets and essays, and published his remarkable essay on "The Revolution and the Fine Arts." In the meanwhile, Franz Liszt at Weimar brought out Wagner's new operas "Lohengrin" and "Tannhaeuser." Nicolas Lenau, the most melodious of the German lyric poets after Heine, died insane. Lenau, whose true name was Niembsch von Strehlenau, was a Hungarian by birth. He joined the group of German poets among whom were Uhland, Gustav Schwab and Count Alexander von Wurtemberg, whose literary aspirations were ridiculed by Heine as "la Romantique defroquee." Stimulated by his fellow poet Chamisso's voyage to Bering Strait, Lenau sought new inspiration in America. On his return he wrote a number of poems on America, which were published under the title of "Atlantica." In later years Lenau's verses,

like those of Leopardi in Italy, became ever more melancholy, owing partly to inherited tendencies. In the early forties the poet's pessimism turned into absolute melancholia.

[Sidenote: Uhland]

[Sidenote: Heyse]

After the death of Lenau the mantle of German poetry fell upon Uhland. One of the younger poets, Paul Heyse, at the same time made his first appearance with the poetic drama "Francesca da Rimini."

[Sidenote: Babism in Persia]

In this year, Mirza Ali Mohamad, the great founder of the new Bab religion in Persia, with his disciples Aka Mohamad Ali and Sayyid Husayn of Yezd, suffered martyrdom. Sayyid Husayn recanted under torture, but the Bab and Aka went firmly to the place of execution. Condemned to be shot, the Bab escaped death by an apparent miracle. The bullets only cut the cords that held him bound. He was afterward slain by a soldier. His body was recovered by his disciples. Thus, in the words of Denison Ross, the Persian scholar, "died the great Prophet-Martyr of the Nineteenth Century, at the age of twenty-seven, having during a period of six brief years, of which three were spent in prison, attracted to his person and won for his faith thousands of devoted men and women throughout Persia, and having laid the foundation to a new religion destined to become a formidable rival to Islam." Further persecution of the Babis during this same year did much to forward the new religion.


[Sidenote: Louis Napoleon's measures]

President Louis Napoleon's growing mastery of France was revealed early in the year. On January 3, as the result of his restrictions of the liberty of the press, the Ministry had to resign. The President deprived General Changarnier, a pronounced Republican, of the command of the Paris garrison, and dissolved the Assembly, which might have objected to these measures.

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