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1759, pp. 52.
Two works bound together, 16mo (130 × 82 mm). Ownership inscription to title, dated 1759, manuscript translation of a Greek verse at end of Preface to the first work, a complete song in the same hand added to final blank. Very lightly browned. Contemporary half vellum, marbled boards, spine lettered in manuscript, red edges. Rubbed, but an attractive copy.
Gleim’s ‘Prussian War-Songs’ issued anonymously as the work of a Grenadier in the Prussian army were a popular success, being quite in tune with the patriotism surrounding Frederick the Great’s campaigns of the Seven Years’ War. Some appeared in small collections in 1757 and earlier in 1758 but the Preussische Kriegslieder includes engraved music and, most importantly, and for the first time, a 12-page Preface anonymously contributed by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. The Kriegslieder mark important departure in German lyric poetry with their emphasis on traditional Germanic models at the expense of classical affectation. They were frequently reprinted.
This is a delightful typographical production, with the text presented within borders and with lots of typographical ornaments. The finely engraved music is presented (staves running bottom-to-top) on pages facing the text, and there is an elegant etched frontispiece. The second work, De Grenadier an die Kriegesmuse has no separate imprint and is apparently found with the Preussische Kriegslieder in some other copies, so they are quite likely to have been issued together. An early owner has added (probably in 1772) an additional martial song, the song of a Russian officer addressed to his Ottoman foe: ‘Heraus vernegner Muselmann / Heraus ins ofne Feld.’ see full details...
Among the several songs is a salute to Napoleon himself:
‘Chargeons, allignons nos canons,
Tirons au F[rère] Bouneparte;
C’est en lui que nous admirons
Les vertus de Rome d’esparte.
Libérateur de son pays,
Il se rend du monde l’arbitre
La France n’a plus d’ennemis
Qui lui conteste un si beau titre.’
The song is known from at least one other source (a version is published in Chroniques d’Histoire Maçonnique Lorraine, 9, January, 2000), and is notable for the reference to Napoleon as ‘Frère’. His membership of the Freemasons has long been a source of debate (though is now commonly dismissed) and his relationship to masonry is an important aspect of the Order’s history. The Freemasons were widely accused of Revolutionary activity and were vigorously suppressed during the Terror only to be re-established under Napoleon who sought to capitalise on their loyalty and patriotism. He installed his brother, Joseph Bonaparte, as Grand Master of the Grand Orient de France and ensured that administration of French Freemasonry was directly overseen by legislator Jean-Jacques-Régis de Cambacérès.
The ritualised dinner described here has elaborate table settings, with utensils and food given ceremonial names. Bread becomes ‘Pierre prutte’; wine, ‘poudre forte, b[lan]che ou rouge’; salt, ‘sable blanc’ and pepper, ‘sable gris’. The table is referred to as the ‘Tribune’; the candles, ‘étoiles’ and spoons, ‘truelles’.
Each of the toasts is given in full and the seven songs are usually supplied with the name of the popular tune to which they are sung, including, ‘L’air vive Henry quatre’ and ‘Femmes, voulez-vous éprouver?’ see full details...