Counterfeited Privilege in Grimmelshausen's 'The Magic Bird's Nest', N.N. (1675)

Source: Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Vienna 1447-A.Alt Mag

Counterfeited Privilege in Grimmelshausen's 'The Magic Bird's Nest', N.N. (1675), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

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11 translated pages

Chapter 1 Page 1

[Title copper-plate:]

The Magic Bird's Nest

Second Part

Published by:



* This series of letters arranged in
alphabetical order is an anagram of
the author's name: "Christoffel von

Chapter 1 Page 2

Explanation of the title plate / and a brief summary
                        of this whole little treatise

The helping hand which you think you can force the Devil to give you /
May seem at first / to do you good, / but the fact is that /
It will tie you up more and more in fetters of sin
In order to drag you into Hell / swiftly, surely, and most profitably for the Evil One.

Chapter 1 Page 3

The Privileges and Licences / which
have been conferred on this little treatise.

This little work has been
granted the following privilege /
by the mighty and invisible, /
and so therefore completely
invincible, Grand King of this
world's most vast and populous
territory - Selene* (in which land
the women, / according to
Lucian, / lay whole baskets
full of eggs / and hatch out their
exactly identical offspring by
the dozen ) namely, that anyone
is entitled to buy it / who has
sufficient inclination, / good will,
and money to pay for it - irrespective
of whether he may happen to be
learned or ignorant, / rich or poor, /
an important person or a nobody /


* Gk. 'The Moon'

Chapter 1 Page 4

a clergyman or a layman, /
woman or man, / foolish or
intelligent, / single or married,
/ a little boy or a little girl;
Moreover, any of the
aforementioned persons / who
gets his or her hands on this
little work / is entitled to read
it / (with the proviso, though, /
that that person is able to read
as such) unless he or she is
strictly forbidden to do so by
some particular high Authority /
which has the legitimate right
to impose such a prohibition /
and is powerful enough /
to enforce it. Furthermore,
everyone is allowed / to put down
this book / every so often, / at
his or her earliest convenience, /

Chapter 1 Page 5

and may of his own accord pick
it up again later / indeed, he may
do this as often as he wishes /
time permitting; Similarly / no
one is to be forced / to have to
read the whole book from cover
to cover / in one go / or at one
sitting / irrespective of whether
he has acquired it merely to
while away the time / or whether
he is desirous of fishing out the
lessons / which the Author has
secretly concealed in it. What is
more, any owner of this little
treatise is at liberty / to read it
twice, / thrice, / four times, / or
even seventeen times / and even
to use it as a pillow at night / as
Alexander the Great did with his
Homer / if one reading alone doesn't

Chapter 1 Page 6

satisfy him / or if he has the misfortune
of having a poor memory. However, a
certain moderation is to be observed: /
in reading this little work, the Calvinists
are by no means to forget about their
Lobwasser, / nor are the Lutherans
to forget their Habermann, / nor,
finally, is it right that the Catholics
should forget their Thomas à Kempis.
Furthermore, anyone is entitled - /
even if he were willing to affirm
under oath / that he was not related
in any way to Momos* or Zoilus - / to
criticise, / comment on, / despise, /
belittle, / carp at, / correct, / and comb
out this work as harshly as he pleases, /
even if he didn't actually understand
it / and were himself incapable of
bettering it. In addition to this,


* The Greek god of mockery

Chapter 1 Page 7

We hereby also permit / any
person - / however serious
and grave he may be by nature - /
to take this little work / - even
if it happened to be bound in
green satin / or scarlet velvet,
adorned with a gilt edge, /
and were secured by silver
locks, / like a delightful prayer-
book - / and, without having to
fear any consequences or suffer
any objections from anyone, /
as well as without any
detriment whatsoever to both
his honour and his delicate
conscience, / as soon as he
got fed up with it, / to hurl
it into a river, / into a fire, /
or even into Pontius Pilate's
privy chancellery *- /


i.e. down the lavatory

Chapter 1 Page 8

or if, instead, he prefers to put it to a
more practical use, / he is perfectly
entitled to go to an Italian or French
grocer and barter it for a box full of
snuff, / as long as he had indeed paid
the bookseller in whose shop he
found this little work the due price
for it. / Moreover, no one is to be
allowed to call that person an eccentric
fantasist from the Würm area [?] / or
to defame him in any other way / for
having subjected this book to so radical
a treatment. / However, before taking
such drastic steps, he might well wish
to avail himself of another right to
which he is equally entitled: / namely,
to give someone the book as a thank-you
present, / or perhaps just to lend it out
without ever asking for it back. In addition
to all this, We, the mighty and feared

Chapter 1 Page 9

great King of Selene,* hereby
confer on all those / who deal in
paper / and all that belongs onto
the pages of this worthy material /
the general and full power, / complete
liberty, / full discretion and
legitimate right / to reprint this
little treatise in German everywhere, /
offer it for sale, /sell it, / exchange
it for another book at some fair, /
transfer their ownership of it, / and
in general to make use of it in the
most profitable way for them, /
whenever and as often as they wish, /
albeit on the following express
reservation and proviso: / namely,
that such a reprinter must be willing
to explain publicly - / and,
accordingly, to give a sufficient
security -** / why he had made no


* the Moon
** i.e. until the case is resolved

Chapter 1 Page 10

scruples whatsoever / to act against
the law of nature; / why, on the
contrary, he was endeavouring, by
means of reprints, / to take away in
a thievish manner the bread from
his fellow man's mouth, that is, /
above all, the bread from the
original publisher's mouth? However,
exempted from such an examination
are all those / who know / and strive
to do / what befits honest people - /
also exempted are those / who
translate this little treatise from the
High German into some other
language / and thus, for the benefit
of foreign nations, / seek to have
it printed in a non-German
language. / In any case, the
privileges bestowed on the original [publication]
must be respected, on pain of

Chapter 1 Page 11

the following punishment: / that the ever
mighty and feared great King of the
Selenites* will without fail send / all the
malicious and loathsome monstrosities
born across all his dominions - / whom
we generally call changelings or tadpoles - /
to haunt and persecute all those criminals
who violate these privileges, / just as
Jupiter sent his harpies to punish wrong-
doers. / All this is a verbatim transcript
of an original document to which
the afore- and oft-mentioned great
King has put his own hand and seal: /
done at Invisibilis, the capital of
Selene and the seat of the great King's
court, on the 33rd day of the month
Inauditus, in the year 00000
after the year zero.

Nullander** King of the Moon

      (Royal seal)

                        Nemonius*** Secretary.


* Moon-dwellers!

** lit. Null-man!

*** lit. Nobody

Translation by: Luis A. Sundkvist


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