Burger, Godfred Augustus

, a German poet of considerable celebrity in his own country, and known in this by several translations of one of his terrific tales, was born in 1748, at Wolmerswende, in the principality of Halberstadt. His father was a Lutheran minister, and appears to have given him a pious domestic education; but to school or university studies young Burger had an insuperable aversion, and much of his life was consumed in idleness and dissipation, varied by some occasional starts of industry, which produced his poetical miscellanies, principally ballads, that soon became very popular from the simplicity of the composition. In the choice of his subjects, likewise, which were legendary tales and traditions, wild, terrific, and grossly improbable, he had the felicity to hit the taste of his countrymen. His attention was also directed to Shakspeare and our old English ballads, and he translated many of the latter into German with considerable effect. His chief employment, or that from which he derived most emolument, was in writing for the German Almanack of the Muses, and afterwards the German Musaeum. In 1787 he lectured on the critical philosophy of Kant, and in 1789 was appointed professor of belles-lettres in the university of Gottingen. He married three wives, the second the sister of the first, and the third a lady who courted him in poetry, but from whom, after three years cohabitation, he obtained a divorce. Her misconduct is said to have contributed to shorten his days. He died in June 1794. His works were collected and published by Reinhard, in 1798—99, 4 vols. 8vo, with a life, in which there is little of personal history that can be read with pleasure. Immorality seems to have accompanied him the greater part of his course, but he was undoubtedly a man of genius, although seldom under the controul of judgment. His celebrated ballad of “Leonora” was translated | into English in 1796, by five or six different poets, and for some time pleased by its wild and extravagant horrors; and in 1798, his " Wild Huntsman’s Chase' 7 appeared hi an English dress; but Burger’s style has obtained, perhaps, more imitators than admirers, among the former of whom may be ranked some caricaturists. 1


Life published with Works.