« AnteriorContinuar »
directed to a more specific class of scribed in terms, which might draw objects. In his extreme attention to « iron tears" from the cheeks of vethe philosophical aspects of the pe- terans. If Schiller had inclined to riod, Schiller has neglected to take dwell upon the mere visual or imagi. advantage of many interesting cir- native department of his subject, no cumstances, which it offered under man could have painted it more graother points of view. The Thirty phically, or better called forth our Years' War abounds with what may emotions, sympathetic or romantic. be called picturesqueness in itsevents, But this, we have seen, was not by and still more in the condition of the any means his leading aim. people who carried it on. Harte's On the whole, the present work is History of Gustavus, a wilderness still the best historical performance which mere human patience seems which Germany can boast of. Mülunable to explore, is yet enlivened ler's histories are distinguished by here and there with a cheerful spot, merits of another sort; by condenswhen he tells of some scalade or ing, in a given space, and frequently camisado, or an officer made bullet. in lucid order, a quantity of infor proof by art magic. His chaotic re- mation, copious and authentic beyond cords have, in fact, afforded to our example: but as intellectual proNovelist the materials of Dugald ductions, they cannot rank with SchilDalgetty, a cavalier of the most sin- ler's. Woltmann of Berlin has added gular equipment, of habits and man to the Thirty Years' War, another ners well worth study and descrip- work of equal size, by way of contion. To much of this, though, as he tinuation, entitled History of the afterwards proved, it was well known Peace of Munster ; with the first neto him, Schiller paid comparatively gociations of which treaty the former small attention: his work has lost concludes. Woltmann is a person of in liveliness by the omission, more ability ; but we dare not say of him, than it has gained in dignity or in- what Wieland said of Schiller, that structiveness.
by his first historical attempt he Yet with all its imperfections, this « had discovered a decided capabiliis no ordinary history. The specula- ty of rising to a level with Hume, tion, it is true, is not always of the Robertson, and Gibbon.” He will kind we wish; it excludes more mov- rather rise to a level with Belsham or ing or enlivening topics, and some Smollett. times savours of the inexperienced This first complete specimen of theorist who had passed his days re- Schiller's art in the historical departmote from practical statesmen; the ment, though but a small fraction of subject too has not sufficient unity; what he meant to do, and could have in spite of every effort, it breaks into done, proved in fact to be the last he fragments towards the conclusion: ever undertook. At present very differyet still there is an energy, a vigo- ent cares awaited him : in 1791, a fit rous beauty in the work which far of sickness overtook him, he had to exmore than redeems its failings. Great change the inspiring labours of litethoughts at every turn arrest our at- rature, for the disgusts and distention, and make us pause to con- quietudes of physical disease. His firm or contradict them; happy me disorder, which had its seat in the taphors,* some vivid descriptions of chest, was violent and threatening; events and men, remind us of the an- and though nature overcame it in the thor of Fiesco and Don Carlos. The present instance, the blessing of encharacters of Gustavus and Wallen- tire health never more returned to stein are finely developed in the him. The cause of this severe affliccourse of the narrative. Tilly's pas- tion seemed to be the unceasing toil sage of the Lech, the battles of Leip- and anxiety of mind, in which his zig and Lützen figure in our recollec- days had hitherto been passed : his tion, as if our eyes had witnessed frame, which though tall had never been them : the death of Gustavus is de- robust, was too weak for the vehement
• Yet we scarcely meet with one so happy, as that in the Revolt of the Netherlands, where he paints the gloomy silence and dismay of Brussels on Alha's first entrance by the striking simile of a man that has swallowed poison, and sits in horrid expectation of the issue.
and sleepless soul that dwelt within capacity to guide them; a penalty it: and the habit of nocturnal study unmitigated, save by love of friends, had, no doubt, aggravated all the which then first becomes truly dear to other mischiefs. Ever since his re- us, or by comforts brought from beyond sidence at Dresden, his constitution this earthly sphere, from that serene had been weakened: but this rude Fountain of peace and hope, to which shock at once shattered its remaining our weak philosophy cannot raise her strength; for a time, the strietest wing. For all men, in itself, disease precautions were required barely to is misery; but chiefly for men of preserve existence. A total cessa- finer feelings and endowments, to tion from every intellectual effort whom, in return for such superiorities, was one of the most peremptory it seems to be sent most frequently orders. Schiller's habits and domes- and in its most distressing forms. It tic circumstances equally rebelled is a cruel fate for the poet to against this measure; with a beloved have the sunny land of his imaginawife depending on him for support, tion, often the sole territory he is inaction itself could have procured lord of, disfigured and darkened by him little rest. His case seemed the shades of pain; for one whose hard;
his prospects of innocent feli- highest happiness is the exertion of city had been too banefully obscured. his mental faculties, to have them Yet in this painful and difficult posi- chained and paralyzed in the imprition, he did not yield to despon- sonment of a distempered frame. dency; and at length assistance and with external activity, with palpapartial deliverance reached him from ble pursuits, above all, with a suita very unexpected quarter. Schiller able placidity of nature, much even had not long been sick, when the he- in certain states of sickness may be reditary Prince, now reigning Duke performed and enjoyed. But for of Holstein-Augustenburgh, jointly him, whose heart is already over with the Count Von Schimmelmann, keen, whose world is of the mind, conferred on him a pension of a thou- ideal, internal,-when the mildew of sand crowns for three years.* No lingering disease has struck that stipulation was added, but merely world, and begun to blacken and conthat he should be careful of his health, sume its beauty, nothing seems to reand use every attention to recover. main but despondency and heaviness This speedy and generous aid, more- and desolate sorrow, felt and anticiover, was presented with a delicate pated, to the end. politeness, which, as Schiller said, Woe to him if his will likewise touched him more than even the gift falter, if his resolution fail, and his itself. We should remember this spirit bend its neck to the yoke of Count and this Duke; they deserve this new enemy! Idleness and a some admiration and some envy. disturbed imagination will gain the
This disorder introduced a melan- mastery of him, and let loose their choly change into Schiller's circum- thousand fiends to harass him, to stances: he had now another enemy to torment him into madness. Alas! strive with, a secret and fearful impe- the bondage of Algiers is freedom to diment to vanquish; in which much re- this of the sick man of genius, whose solute effort must be sunk without pro- heart has fainted and sunk beneath ducing any positive result. Pain is not its load. His clay dwelling is changed entirely synonymous with evil; but into a gloomy prison ; every nerve bodily pain seems less redeemed by has become an avenue of disgust or good than almost any other kind of anguish; and the soul sits within, in it. From the loss of fortune, of her melancholy loneliness, a prey to fame, or even of friends, philosophy the spectres of despair, or stupified pretends to draw a certain compen- with excess of suffering, doomed as sating benefit; but in general the it were to a “ life in death," to a permanent loss of health will bid de- consciousness of agonized existence, fiance to her alchymy. It is a uni- without the consciousness of power versal diminution; the diminution which should accompany it. Hapequally of our resources and of our pily, death, or entire fatuity, at length
• It was to Denmark likewise that Klopstock owed the means of completing his Messias.
puts an end to such scenes of ignoble powers and accomplishments of Kant misery, which however we should were universally acknowledged; the view with pity more than with con- high pretensions of his system, pretempt.
tensions, it is true, such as had been Such are frequently the fruits of a thousand times put forth, a thousand protracted sickness, in men otherwise times found wanting, still excited noof estimable qualities and gifts, but tice, when so backed by ability and whose sensibility exceeds their reputation. The air of mysticism strength of mind. In Schiller its was attractive to the German mind, worst effects were resisted by the only with which the vague and the vast availing antidote, a strenuous deter are always pleasing qualities; the mination to neglect them. His spi- dreadful array of first principles, a rit was too vigorous and ardent to forest huge of terminology and deyield even in this emergency: he dis- finitions, where the panting intellect dained to dwindle into a pining vale- of weaker men wanders as in pathtudinarian; in the midst of his in- less thickets, and at length sinks firmities he persevered with unabated powerless to the earth, oppressed zeal in the great business of his life. with fatigue, and suffocated with As he partially recovered, he return- scholastic miasma-seemed sublime ed as strenuously as ever to bis intel- rather than appalling to the Germans; lectual occupations; and often in the men who shrink not at toil, and to glow of poetical conception he al- whom a certain degree of darkness most forgot his maladies. By such appears a native element, essential resolute and manly conduct, he dis- for giving play to that deep meditaarmed sickness of its cruellest power tive enthusiasm which forms so imto wound: his frame might be in portant a feature in their character. pain, but his soul retained its force, Kant's philosophy accordingly found unextinguished, almost unimpeded; numerous disciples, and possessed he did not lose his relish for the beau- them with a zeal unexampled since tiful, the grand, or the good, in any the days of Pythagoras.' This, in of their shapes; he loved his friends fact, resembled fanaticism rather as formerly, and wrote his finest and than a calm ardour in the cause of „sublimest works when his health was science; his warmest admirers seemgone. Perhaps no period of his life ed to regard him more in the light of displayed more heroism than the pre- a prophet than of a mere earthly sent one.
sage. Such admiration was of course After this severe attack, and the opposed by corresponding censure; kind provision which he had received the transcendental neophytes had to from Denmark, Schiller seems to encounter sceptical gainsayers as dehave relaxed his connexion with the termined as themselves. Of this latuniversity of Jena : the weightiest ter class the most remarkable were duties of his class appear to have Herder and Wieland. Herder, then been discharged by proxy, and his a clergyman of Weimar, seems never historical studies to have been for- to have comprehended what he saken. Yet this was but a change fought against so keenly: he denot an abatement in the activity of nounced and condemned the Kanhis mind. Once partially free from tean metaphysics, because he found pain, all his former diligence awoke; them heterodox. The young divines and being also free from the more came back from the university of pressing calls of duty and economy, Jena with their minds well nigh dehe was now allowed to turn his at- lirious; full of strange doctrines, tention to objects which attracted it which they explained to the examimore. Among these one of the most nators of the Weimar Consistorium, alluring was the Philosophy of Kant. in phrases that excited no idea in the
The transcendental system of the heads of these reverend persons, but Königsberg Professor had for the last much horror in their hearts.* Hence ten years been spreading over Ger- reprimands, and objurgations, and many, which it had now filled with excessive bitterness between the apthe most violent contentions. The plicants for ordination, and those
* Schelling has a book on the “ Soul of the World ;” Fichte's expression to his students : “ To-morrow, gentlemen, I shall create God,” is known to most readers.”
appointed to confer it: one young sity and free-will; to show us the clergyman at Weimar shot himself true grounds of our belief in God, on this account; several appeared and what hope nature gives us of the inclined to imitate him. Hence Her- soul's immortality; and thus at der's vehement attacks on this “ per- length, after a thousand failures, to nicious quackery ;” this delusive and interpret the enigma of our beingą destructive “ system of words." . hardly needed that additional induceWieland strove against it for another ment to make such a man as Schiller reason. He had, all his life, been grasp at it with eager curiosity. His labouring to give currency among his progress also was facilitated by his countrymen to a kind of diluted epi- present circumstances : Jena had curism ; to, erect a certain smooth, now become the chief well-spring of and elegant, and very slender scheme Kantean doctrine, a distinction or of taste and morals, borrowed from disgrace it has ever since continued our Shaftesbury and the French. to deserve. Reinhold, one of Kant's All this feeble edifice the new doc- ablest followers, was at this time trine was sweeping before it to utter Schiller's fellow-teacher and daily ruin, with the violence of a tornado. companion : he did not fail to enIt grieved Wieland to see the work courage and assist his friend in a of half a century destroyed: he fond path of study, which, as he believed, ly imagined that but for Kant's phi- conducted to such glorious results. losophy it might have been perennial. Under this tuition, Schiller was not With scepticism quickened into ac- long in discovering, that at least the tion by such motives, Herder and he new philosophy was more poetical went forth as brother champions than that of Leibnitz, and had a against the transcendental metaphy- grander character; persuasions, sics: they were not long without a which of course, confirmed him in multitude of hot assailants. The his resolution to examine it. uproar produced among thinking men How far Schiller penetrated into by the conflict has scarcely been the arcana of transcendentalism it is equalled in Germany since the days impossible to say. The moral and of Luther. Fields were fought, and logical branches of it seem to have victories lost and won; nearly all afforded him no solid satisfaction, or the minds of the nation were, in se taken no firm hold of his thoughts; cret or openly, arrayed on this side their influence is scarcely to be traced or on that. Goethe alone seemed in any of his subsequent writings. altogether to retain his wonted com The only department to which he posure ; he was clear for allowing attached himself with his ordinary the Kantean scheme to “ have its zeal was that which relates to the day, as all things have.” Goethe principles of the imitative arts, and has already lived to see the wisdom which in the Kantean nomenclature of this sentiment, so characteristic has been designated by the term Æstheof his genius and turn of thought. tics,t or the doctrine of sentiments
In these controversies, soon push- and emotions. On these subjects he ed beyond the bounds of temperate already had amassed a multitude of or wholsome discussion, Schiller took thoughts; to see which expressed no part: but the noise of their jarring by new symbols, and arranged in afforded him a fresh inducement to systematic form, and held together investigate a set of doctrines so im- by some common theory, would neportant in the general estimation. A cessarily yield enjoyment to his insystem which promised, even with a tellect, and inspire him with fresh very little plausibility, to accomplish alacrity in _prosecuting such reall that Kant asserted his complete searches. The new light which performance of; to explain the dif- dawned, or seemed to dawn, upon ference between matter and spirit, him in the course of these researches, to unravel the perplexities of neces- is reflected in various treatises, evinc
* That Herder was not usually troubled with any unphilosophical scepticism, or aversion to novelty, may be inferred from his patronising Dr. Gall's system of “Sculldoctrine,” as they call'it in Germany. But Gall had referred with acknowledgment and admiration to the Philosophie der Geschichte der Menscheit. Here lay a difference. + From the verb aso barojas, to feel. JULY, 1821.
ing, at least, the honest diligence querade, is ever and anon peering with which he studied, and the fer- forth in its native form, which all tility with which he could produce, may understand, which all must reof these the largest and most ela- lish, and presenting us with pasborate are the essays on “ Naive," sages, that show like bright verdant und Sentimentul Puetry; on Grace islands in the misty sea of metaphyand Dignity; and the Letters on the sics. Æsthetic culture of Man: the other That Schiller's genius profited by pieces are on Tragic Art; on the these ardent and laborious attempts Cause of our delight in Tragic Objects; to improve his taste, has frequently on Employing the low and common in been doubted, and sometimes denied. Art.
That after such investigations the Being cast in the mould of Kant- process of composition would become ism, or, at least, clothed in its gar more difficult, might be iuferred from ments, these productions, to readers the nature of the case. That also unacquainted with that system, are the priuciples of this critical theory encumbered here and there with dif- were in part erroneous, in still greater ficulties greater than belong intrinsi- part too far-fetched and fine-spun cally to the subject. In perusing for application to the business of them, the uninitiated student is more writing, we may farther venture to tified at seeing so much powerful assert. But excellence, not ease of thought distorted, as he thinks, into composition, is the thing to be desuch fantastic forms: the principles sired; and in a mind like Schiller's, of reasoning, on which they rest, are so full of energy, of images and apparently not those of common lo- thoughts and creative power, the gic; a dimness and doubt overhangs more sedulous practice of selection their conclusions ; scarcely any thing was little likely to be detrimental. is proved in a convincing manner. And though considerable errors might But this is no strange quality in such mingle with the rules by which he writings. To an exterior reader, judged himself, the habit of judging the philosophy of Kant almos" al- early or not at all is far worse than ways appears to invert the common that of sometimes judging wrong. maxim: its end and aim seems not Besides, once accustomed to attend to be "to make abstruse things strictly to the operations of his gesimple, but to make simple things nius, and rigorously to try its proabstruse.” Often a proposition of ducts, such a man as Schiller could inscrutable and dread aspect, when not fail in time to discover what was resolutely grappled with, and torn false in the principles by which he from its shady den, and its bristling drew them, and consequently, in the entrenchments of uncouth termino- end, to retain the benefits of this logy, and dragged forth into the procedure without its evils. There open light of day, to be seen by the is doubtless a purism in taste, a rigid natural eye and tried by merely hu- fantastical demand of perfection, a man understanding,-proves to be a horror at approaching the limits of very harmless truth, familiar to us impropriety, which obstructs the free from of old, sometimes so familiar as impulse of the faculties, and if exto be a truism. Too frequently the cessive would altogether deaden them, anxious novice is reminded of Dry. But the excess on the other side is den in the Battle of the Books: there much more frequent, and for high is a helmet of rusty iron, dark, grim, endowments, infinitely more pernigigantic; and within it, at the far- cious. After the strongest efforts, thest corner, is a head no bigger than there may be little realized ; without a walnut. These are the general strong efforts there must be little. errors of Kantean criticism : in the That too much care does hurt in any present works, they are by no means of our tasks is a doctrine so flattering of the worst or most pervading kind; to indolence; that we ought to reand there is a fundamental merit ceive it with extreme caution. In which does more than balance them. works impressed with the stamp of By the aid of study, the doctrine set true genius their quality, not their before us can in general at length be extent is what we value: a dull man comprehended; and Schiller’s fine in- may spend his life-time writing little ; tellect, recognizable even in its mas beiter so than writing much ; but