Imágenes de páginas

they receive gratification from many won. Individuals of the lordly sex, things which we regard with (to use such as Byron and the universal the tenderest phrase) indifference. Shakspeare, might perhaps be found But what we love we like to prac- equal, nay superior, in these respects, tise ; and hence it is that in matters to Sapphg, or any other poetess; but, of Fancy we find women lean quite taking the sexes generally, there is as as fondly to visual description as to great a balance of intellectual feeling spiritual creation. It is indeed some and delicacy in the one as of judgwhat curious, that amongst all the ment and imagination in the other. works cited by their champions as Ay, a much greater. How few men proofs of their genius, not one is what are there to be met with who enjoy might be called par excellence a work the faculties of judgment or imagiof fancy,--such' for instance as the nation ; how much fewer still who Rape of the Lock, or the Queen's possess both! How few women do Wake.

we meet with who are not endued Notwithstanding all that has been with the utmost warmth of feeling, or may be said on both sides of this the most exquisite delicacy (if noquestion, the world, I am afraid, will thing else) of mind; how many in continue still to hold its ancient opi- whom both are united ! In their best nion,--that in powers of imagination works are not the same qualities perand judgment, women are inferior to ceptible? Is not every bare word full men, in power of fancy scarcely their of sensibility and feeling? is not every equal. To this venerable and well- thought, image, and expression, deconcocted opinion, I cannot help sub- licate and refined ? Here is the intelscribing myself an unworthy assen- lectual “Distinction” between the tient. Had I entered the literary list sexes; whether it has ever before as a professed defender of the sex, I been observed or insisted on, I do not should have chosen very different know: to me it is as plain as their ground from that which has been now physical difference. But when inso imprudently selected,—and I hope stead of these elegant and proporwith very different success. Con- tionate attributes, the sex, either in ceding to the adverse sex the facul- propria personâ, or by its male mouthties of judgment and imagination, I pieces (falsely called, defenders) put would have boldly challenged them in a claim to supreme judgment and on the score of feeling and delicacy of imagination, the substance is sacrificed thought. It is on this ground that for the shadow, and respect is ineI am convinced the palm

of superio- vitably replaced by ridicule or conrity may be claimed, disputed, and temptuous silence.



On seeing an Austrian soldier smoking his meerschaum-pipe amid the ruins

of Murano, a half-ruined island near Venice. 'Tis strange how often in a pensive mood,

When least we deem the mind would entertain

Thoughts ill-assorted with its present pain,
Some laughter-moving image will intrude.
Smoking his meerschaum-pipe of many a stain,

I saw, with brutish mien and posture rude,

An Austrian 'mid Murano's solitude :
Yet though I saw in him that island's bane-
Italy's plague—no curse escaped from me.

Marking the signs of sickness, death, and dearth,
I only smiled to think how fitly he

And his rank pipe were match’d. (Poor food for mirth!)
This, as its name imports, the scum of sea,
That, as his actions show, the scum of earth.

R. S. W.

GOETHE. * Good English reader,-you that of his contemporaries, we are not very are proud

anxious to say; and the rather, beto speak the tongue cause we hope that a few extracts Which Shakspeare spake,—the faith and from his works—under the guidance morals hold

of a few plain comments pointing out Which Milton held,

their relations, connexion, and tenTo you it is that we would here dency- will enable any reader of good speak: true it is that a spurious sense to say that for himself. Throughadmiration even of Milton is not im- out this paper we wish it to be obpossible; a spurious admiration of served that we utter no dogmatisms Shakspeare common: that is, an ad - no machtsprüche (as the Germans miration which creates for its own in- emphatically style them) or autocratic firm sympathies fantastic objects judgments: these are the brutum which neither have any existence in fulmen of German reviewers (we the works of either poet, nor could hope of no other reviewers), and have have in consistency with their real now lost their power to impress fear titles to our veneration. But if de- upon the most trivial of authors or praved sensibilities have sometimes respect upon the shallowest of reaflourished even in that atmosphere, yet ders. Our purpose is not so much to naturally it is favourable only to sa- pronounce judgment, as to put the reanity of understanding and to elevation der in possession of such grounds of of taste. Never were these quali- judgment as may enable him to proties more energetically demanded than nounce it for himself. And the ultiin the case which we now bring be- mate point we aim at—is not to fore our readers : a case not merely quarrel with the particular book, of infatuation, but of infatuation de- which has been the accidental occagrading to literature, beyond any- sion of bringing Goethe before us; a thing which is on record in the his- bad book more or'less is of no great tory of human levity. Not the base- importance ; our mark is Goethe ness of Egyptian superstition, not himself: and not even Goethe on his Titania under enchantment, not Cali- own account, and separate from his ban in drunkenness, ever shaped to coterie of admirers,—but Goethe prothemselves an idol more weak or posed as a model, as a fit subject for hollow than modern Germany has admiration, sympathy, and philososet up for its worship in the person phic homage ; in the language of the of Goethe. The gods of Germany present translator, as “ the first of are too generally false gods; but a- European minds”-“the richest, most mong false gods some are more false gifted of living minds.” For the last than others : here and there is one seven years, or so, a feeble but perwho tends upwards, and shows some severing effort has been made by the aspirations at least towards the divine proneurs of Goethe in this country to ideal: but others gravitate to earth raise what the newspapers call a and the pollutions of earth with the “ sensation" in his behalf: as yet instincts and necessities of appetite however without effect. On the one that betray the brutal nature. These hand the reader was staggered by also are • divine” and “ celestial” the enormity of the machtsprüche (the to their admirers. Be it so: let A despotic or almighty puffs, as we be the “ divine" incubus, and B might in this case translate the word) the “ celestial” succubus, so long as which were brought over from Gerit is not forgotten that A is an in- many; and, though some might be cubus, and B a succubus. In what disgusted, more perhaps were awed chamber of the German pantheon, by these attempts to bully them into however, we are to look for the shrine admiration. On the other hand, the of Goethe, and how long any shrine mere dulness of the works which at all will survive the fleeting fashions were translated and analyzed as of his age, and the personal intrigues Goethe's triumphantly repelled the

• Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship. A Novel. From the German of Goethe. In Three Volumes. Edinburgh : 1824.

contagion before it could spread: the vity. But, once begun, the laughter superstition had withered before it will be catching and irresistible could strike root. Simply to be vi- amongst those who know any thing cious was not enough for any body of the works. And at this particular of readers. The ethics of buccaneers moment we think that the struggle were good: but not alone; let us between terror on the one hand (terror have the enthusiasm of buccaneers. of being thought to want taste and Buccaneering principles, buccaneer- sensibility) and the acute sense of the ing casuistry, if you please : but then ludicrous on the other will receive an also buccaneering passions. Cattle in impulse in the latter direction from abundance there were ready for the the appearance in English of Wilhelm Circean wand, or the cup of Comus : Meister. We do not, in saying this, but the wand was not there, and the rely upon any defects in the translacup was empty : Slaves for the spell tion: we look to the native powers by thousands; but where was the of the original work. No other of spell ? And hence it has happened Goethe's works is likely to be more that, though repeated attempts have revolting to English good sense: the been made to raise a huzza! for Mr. whole prestige of his name must now Goethe, all have expired in such faint, totter. A blow or two from a few timid, and straggling cries, as some- vigorous understandings, well planttimes the palled London ear catches ed and adequately published to the from a company of little boys and world, combined with the overpowerwhich draw tears of passionate ing abominations of the work itself, laughter from the cynic: there will set in movement this yet torpid being no sadder sound in na- body of public feeling-determine ture, nor more ludicrous, than the the current of popular opinion (so far sound of distraction counterfeiting as any popular opinion can be possithe gaiety and cordiality of popular ble) on the question of Mr. Goethesympathy; nor any more mortifying and for ever dissolve the puny fabric exposure of impotent human vanity of baby-houses which we are now authan inability to club as much perish- dacionsly summoned to plant “ fast able breath as will defray the ex- by the oracles of God”-as fit neighpense of a shout, as much enthusiasm bours to the divine temples of Milton as will yield a substratum for a and of Shakspeare. In theselast words, huzza !

the reader may possibly suspect that Such has hitherto been the condi

we are going beyond the letter of our tion of Goethe's influence upon the warrant for the sake of rhetorically mind of this country: a languishing exaggerating the flagrancy of the inplant it was from the first; and, sult. We are not: we are far below with every help from the occasional it. “ The Trinity of men of genius" galvanism of tyrannic puffs, upon the is a well-known phrase in the mouth whole it has been drooping. At this of German critics for the last 20 particular moment, we are disposed years. Of whom is this trinity comto think that it is—if not agonizant posed ? No matter : it is enough to -yet in what is medically termed the mention that Goethe is included, and crisis ; that state, we mean, from which that Milton is not. Nay, the translaif it does not immediately revive it tor of Wilhelm Meister cites this senmust at once demise. The major timent (and we are sorry to say, withpart of the readers of Goethe are, and out disapprobation) in a still more long have been, dying to be set at shocking form : “Goethe,” says he, ease from the secret torments of sti- « is by many of his countrymen fled laughter: the solemnity of the ranked at the side of Homer and machtsprüche--the fulminations from Shakspeare, as one of the only three critical boards—the ban and ana men of genius that have ever lived." thema proclaimed if any wretch Not the greatest, observe, but the should presume to laugh—have as only three men of genius! We doubt* yet quelled all faces into terrific gra- the existence of any such sentiment

* We doubt it, because the term “ genius” being now used both in England and in Germany by all reflecting writers with a reference to its etymon, it is not possible that any man should fail to see that genius is of necessity a continuous thing admitting of infinite degrees. Genius is but another expression for the genial nature which exists in


even in the most frantic effusions of disowning their validity when urged German extravagance : and certainly against us. We shall pay no sort of the German literary public as a body attention to the blank unsupported are not to be charged with such enor- opinion of any author whatsoever, mities of folly. Yet, if this judg- let his weight be what it may with ment have indeed been uttered, the reader. No man must expect it would well deserve to be put on that we shall be awed by sounding record, as an example of the atro- compliments addressed to Goethe cities which can be tolerated when from whatsoever quarter. Complionce all reverence for great names is inents the most extravagant cost litresolutely shaken off. Æschylus, tle to a man in good humour, when and Euripides,-nay he who, led by returning compliments to himself. the Spirit of God,“ presumed into “ Jllustrious”-is soon said: “ Inthe Heaven of Heavens,” even Milton comparable” is but one syllable himself,-are to yield their places, more: and in general that impoand to whom? To an old impure tence of mind and want of self-comnovelist, to the author of “ The Sor- mand, which urges men into the lanrows of Werther,” (risum teneatis?) guage of brutal malignity, is readiest to the babbling historian of Punch's to run into the licence of doating papuppet-show, tumblers, rope-dancers, negyric—such as the author himself and strolling-players (see Wilhelm is ashamed of in a week after he has Meister). Yield their places, did we written it. Nameless Germans we

Æschylus, Euripides, and have already seen annihilating by a Milton are to have no places at all dogmatic fiat all the greatness of in a consistory where this old vaga- this world to make room for Mr. bond is to be the third part of the Goethe: and it has cost the anonyworld, one of the triumvirate of eter mous translator of Wilhelm Meister nity. What

but pshaw! but a dash of his pen to confer upon Scorn and indignation seal up our the same gentleman a patent of premouths. That we have condescend- cedency throughout Europe more uned at all to notice such sentiments, limited (if it were but valid) than the reader must ascribe to our ear any king in christendom could connest desire that we may be accom- fer by his heralds even within his panied by his sympathy in the pro- own dominions. The easy thoughtgress of our inquiry into Mr. Goethe's lessness with which the title to create pretensions. We wish him to under- such distinctions is assumed recalls stand that we engage in any such the reader to the sense of their holtask, not from anger that a particular lowness; and reminds him that, if German has for a few years stepped one author may with a despotic fiat out of his natural place and station; create, another may come and with but because his name has been used as as good a right may revoke: in a handle for insulting the greatest of which case, both are thrown back men; because he has looked on and upon the grounds and principles of tolerated such outrages in his ad- their judgment, which might as well mirers; because his works are rank have been alleged at first. Of any with all impurity; and because upon judgment, supported by an appeal this precedent, if it is once admitted to principles,-let it come from what to any authority in this country, we quarter it will, we say—“ Valeat have much evil to anticipate of the quantum valere potest.” Arguments same sort and tendency.

of any kind are not what we shun; Before we begin, let us give notice to these we are happy to allow their - that, as we have declined all bene- whole intrinsic value: but let us have fit of dogmatisms in our own behalf, no tyrannic dogmatisms,* which dewe must also resolutely insist on pend for their brief currency only

some degree in every man quá man. To love, to hope, to enjoy, are all affections of the genial nature: and the term genius expresses that nature only in its more intense degrees, and as habit not as an act.- Talents may be easily conceived to exist in man discontinuously, and per saltum, but not genius. The expression “ only three men of genius” therefore is an absurdity in adjecto: the comprehensiveness of one term (by its very definition) destroys the limitation in the other.

* To take the sting out of those dogmatisms which are at present afloat, we must

upon considerations of person and the idiom of the language), we know accident extrinsic to the opinion it- of nothing to object to it. Living self.

in a court, and familiar with most All these preliminaries settled, we of his distinguished contemporaries shall now begin. And first, before in Germany since the French revoluwe speak of the book itself (which is tion, Goethe of necessity speaks our thesis), a word or two on the and therefore writes his own lanTranslation. This part of our task guage as it is commonly written and we would most gladly have declined spoken in the best circles, by which from the unaffected spirit of courtesy circles we mean, in a question of this in which we retreat from the office of nature, the upper circles. He is no sitting in judgment upon any contem- great master, nor was ever reputed porary author of our own country, a master, of the idiomatic wealth of except when we can conscientiously his own language; but he does not say that we have found nothing of offend by provincialisms, vulgarisms, importance to blame: even to offer or barbarisms of any sort: with all our praise ex cathedra is not pleasant which the translation is overrun. to us. Nevertheless, for the credit First, for provincialisms :- these of any thing which we shall allege are in this case chiefly (perhaps altoagainst Goethe, it is necessary to gether) Scotticisms. Saying this, we declare our opinion very frankly that must call upon the reader to distinthis translation does not do justice to guish two kinds of Scotticisms. A the original work—which, however certain class of Scotch words and worthless in other respects, is not phrases, which belong to the poetic objectionable in the way in which vocabulary of the nation, have deservthe translation is so. For the “style” edly become classical ; as much so of Goethe, in the true meaning of as the peculiar words and peculiar that word, we profess no respect : forms of the Greek dialects; and for but, according to the common use of the same reason; viz. not because the expression as implying no more they have been consecrated by the than a proper choice of words, and a use of men of genius (for that was proper arrangement of them (pure but the effect): but because they exdiction in a collocation agreeable to press shades and modifications of

apprise the reader that the most celebrated of the proncurs of Gyethe have not professed even to read the language in which he has written. Madame de Staël, for instance, was neither mistress of the German-nor was ever understood upon any German question to speak but as she was prompted by her German friends. Moreover her own opinions, however valuable on some subjects, were of no value on any question of this nature.—A late noble author, again, did not express any opinion of Goethe before Goethe had in some measure obliged him to a flattering one by the homage he had paid him in the sight of all Germany-and the appeal which he had thus made we will not say (harshly and merely) to his vanity, but also to more amiable and kindly feelings. On this account it is doing no dishonour to the noble Lord—to say that his opinion of Goethe cannot even be received as his sincere opinion. Independently of which, we believe that his sincerest opinions have no great weight in matters of criticism even with those who are otherwise his greatest admirers. Without wishing to take part in any general discussion on the noble author's pretensions,—it is pretty evident that a rash and inconsiderate speaker, of no self-control, and who seldom uttered an opinion except as he was swayed by momentary passions, could not be relied on—if he had been otherwise endowed with any power of judgment. That he was so endowed, however, there is no reason to believe; and much reason against it. Blindness to the greatness of Milton is but a bad preparation for judicious criticism ; and even in Germany a sneer at Shakspeare, whether sincere or an anti-national affectation, must have a fatal effect on a compliment to Goethe. On this occasion it may as well be added that the way in which the noble lord wrote the name of Goethe, was a sufficient evidence that he had no acquaintance with the language of Goethe. It was not an error of mis-spelling merely, or one which might have arisen at the press, but an error impossible to the youngest student in Germanas it must have been forestalled by the first examination of the German alphabet. This remark, which we made at the tinie, we have since seen urged against another writer in the first or second Number of a new Review: and justly urged : for in so short a compass there can be no more unanswerable argument against any pretensions to acquaintance with the German.-Acquaintance with the German is no indispensable accomplishment for an English noblcman ; but quite indispensable for a critic upon the general merits of Goethe.

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