Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Heine, Johann Heinrich (1799-1856), the greatest of German writers after Goethe, was born at Dusseldorf, of Jewish parents. Here he went to school and struggled with Greek and Latin grammar, and gazed with admiration upon the soldiers of his hero Napoleon. After making trial, in deference to the wishes of his relatives, of his fitness for a commercial career at Frankfort and in Hamburg, and falling in love with his cousin at the latter place, he was sent by his rich uncle Solomon to the university of Bonn, on condition of his adopting the legal profession. He studied law, indeed, and actually took a degree at Gottingen in 1825, but he gave more attention to the lectures of Schlegel. From 1821 to 1825 he was at Berlin, where he heard Hegel lecture, and made the acquaintance of Rahel, wife of Varnhagen von Ense. Here also he published his first poems and two tragedies. Before taking his degree he had to qualify for the legal profession by being baptised, although he had no more belief in Christianity than he had in Judaism. The next few years saw his best work done, as the first half of the Reisebilder, his prose masterpiece, appeared in 1826-27, and the Buck der Lieder in the latter year. The next few years of Heine's life were passed chiefly in Munich in journalistic work, some of which,-as the Franzbsische Zustdnde, has been republished. The expression of his revolutionary sympathies brought on him the displeasure of the Prussian Government, and in 1831 he took up his abode in Paris. Here he lived for the rest of his life, but paid short visits to Germany, notably, that of 1844, of which Beutschland was the outcome. In 1836 he republished a criticism upon the subjects of his early admiration, Die Romantische Schule, and though still full of revolutionary ardour, was impelled by an intense hatred of its German advocates to write a fierce attack on Ludwig Borne in 1840. This brought upon him a duel with Borne's widow's husband. He had already been engaged in a hostile encounter on account of Mathilde Mirat, a Paris grisette, whom he had married after living with her for four years. Enjoying the best literary society of Paris in spite of his Bohemian proclivities, his days were happy until his health, which had never been robust, finally broke down in 1848, when a spinal disease confined him to his bed for the rest of life. Meanwhile, he had published between 1835 and 1840 the miscellaneous writings contained in Der Salon, and Atta Troll, a poem (1846). During his years of suffering his intellect remained unimpaired, and the Neueste Gedicltte and Romanzero showed something like a return to his earliest and best work. He was buried at Montmartre in the land of his adoption. Heine has been called the Voltaire of Germany; but while he had to the full the French feeling for style, he had depths of sensibility to which, no Frenchman, except perhaps Hugo, ever penetrated. His poems have been translated by Bowring, Lord Lytton, Sir Theodore Martin, J. Geikie, and many others; his entire works by C. G. Leland. There are English lives by W. Sharp and Stigand; and the essays on Heine by Matthew Arnold and George Eliot (the latter little known) are both appreciative and suggestive.