Without this contrast of arbitrariness and restraint, which presents itself under the form of a struggle of the Rococo with the Pigtail, the history of culture, and still more the history of art, of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, is quite incomprehensible. The great political revolution of the nineties could never have been a product of the rigid Pigtail age, but it could very well have been a result of the Rococo in the Pigtail. In the Rococo there was still life, mad, ungovernable life; the Pigtail always had a Hippocratic face. The virtuosos of personality, the strange Rococo original types, were the forbears of the literary Storm and Stress writers, the artistic reformers, the big and little demagogues. The pedants of the Pigtail, on the other hand, were the prophets of the pipe-clay, the bureaucracy, the rationalistic mechanical training of young and old in church and school. And this contrast of the Rococo and the Pigtail still continues today, but veiled and in a new garment, not only on and in our houses but also in our public and private life. The genuine original types of the Rococo, however, the fantastic virtuosos of personality, have, indeed, long since been gathered to their fathers and will not return.
[Footnote 1: This peculiarity distinguishes Gotthelf’s Bauernspiegel from the nearly contemporary Oberhof, the episode of Immermann’s Muenchhausen which is intended as a popular contrast to the aristocratic society represented in the larger part of that novel. Cf. Vol. vii, p. 169.]
[Footnote 2: Editor’s note.—Numerous omissions have been made in the course of the narrative, reducing the length of the original text by about one fifth. Wherever necessary for the continuity of the story, the essence of the excluded portions has been supplied by synopses. These synopses are printed enclosed in brackets.
Permission Kegan Paul, Trench, Truebner & Co., Ltd., London.]
[Footnote 3: This old country saying is founded on the similarity in sound between sechse (sixes) and hexe (witch).]
[Footnote 4: Permission Bernhard Tauchnitz, Leipzig.]
[Footnote 5: Translator’s note. In Mecklenburg the cows are always milked in the fields.]
[Footnote 6: Translator’s note. The Kammer is the chief government office in Mecklenburg, and Mr. von Rambow was a member of it.]
[Footnote 7: A mortgage or lien, a corruption of Hypothek.]
[Footnote 8: Translator’s note.—This story is founded on fact, and during Reuter’s last visit to Stuer (from the 13th of December, 1868, till the 29th of January, 1869) he discovered this great amusement that he had been given the very room in which the director of the establishment told him the hero of the tale had been attacked by a neighbor’s bees while he was lying helpless in the “packing” sheets. See Duboc’s “Auf Reuterschem Boden” in Westermann’s “Monats-Hefte.”]