« ZurückWeiter »
land. Some portion of the gall, due fearless though inexperienced, at war only to these inflated, flimsy, and fan- with selfishness and craft; something tastic persons, appears to have acted mournful; because the victory will on certain critics in estimating this seldom go as we would have it. play of Schiller’s. August Wilhelm Louisa is a meet partner for the Schlegel speaks slightingly of the generous Ferdinand: the poet has work: he says
“ it will hardly move done justice to her character. She us by its tone of overstrained sensi- is timid and humble ; a feeling and bility, but may well afflict us by the richly gifted soul is hid in her painful impressions which it leaves." by the unkindness of her earthly Our own experience has been differ- lot: she is without counsellors, exent from that of Schlegel. In the cept the innate holiness of her heart, characters of Louisa and Ferdinand and the dictates of her keen, though Walter we discovered little over- untutored understanding ; yet when straining: their sensibility we did the hour of trial comes, she can obey not reckon as a crime, seeing it the commands of both, and draw united with a clearness of judg- from herself a genuine nobleness of ment, chastened by a purity of conduct, which second-hand pruheart, and controlled by a force of dence, and wealth, and titles, would virtuous resolution, in full proportion but render less touching. Her filial with itself. We rather admired the affection, her angelic attachment to genius of the poet, which could ele- her lover, her sublime and artless vate a poor music-master's daughter piety, are beautifully contrasted with to the dignity of a heroine ; could the bleakness of her external circumrepresent, without wounding our stances: she appears before us like sense of propriety, the affection of the one rose of the wilderness left two noble beings, created for each on its stalk," and we grieve to see it other by nature, and divided by crushed and trodden down so rudely. rank: we sympathized in their sen- The innocence, the enthusiasm, the timents enough to feel a proper in- exalted life and stern fate of Louisa terest in their fate, and see in them, and Ferdinand, give a powerful what the author meant we should charm to this tragedy: it is everysee, two pure and lofty minds, in- where interspersed with pieces of volved in the meshes of vulgar cun- fine eloquence, and scenes which ning, and borne to destruction by move us by their dignity or pathos. the excess of their own good quali- We recollect few passages of a more ties and the crimes of others. overpowering nature than the con· Ferdinand is a nobleman, but not clusion,- where Ferdinand, beguiled convinced that “his patent of nobi- by the most diabolical machinations lity is more ancient or of more au- to disbelieve the virtue of his misthority than the primeval scheme of tress, puts himself and her to death the universe :" he speaks and acts by poison. There is a gloomy and like a young man entertaining such solemn might in his despair ; though persuasions ; disposed to yield every overwhelmed, he seems invincible : thing to reason and true honour, but his enemies have blinded and impriscarcely any thing to mere use and soned him in their deceptions; but wont. His passion for Louisa is the only, that like Sampson, he may sign and the nourishment rather than overturn his prison-house, and bury the cause of such a temper: he loves himself, and all that have wronged her without limit, as the only crea- him, in its ruins. 'ture he has ever met with of a like The other characters of the play, mind with himself; and this feeling though in general properly sustained, 'exalts into inspiration what was al- are not sufficiently remarkable to ready the dictate of his nature. We claim much of our attention. Wurm, accompany him on his straight and the unprincipled calculating father's plain path; we rejoice to see him chief counsellor and agent, is wicked fling aside with a strong arm the enough; but there is no great singulartifices and allurements with which larity in his wickedness. He is little a worthless father and more worth- more than the dry, cool, and now less associates assail him at first in somewhat vulgar miscreant, the vilvain: there is something attractive lainous attorney of modern novels. in the spectacle of native integrity, Kalb also is but a worthless subject,
and what is worse, but indifferently to the duties of which he forth with handled. He is meant for the fea- addressed himself with all his heart. ther-brained thing of tags and laces, He was not long afterwards elected a which frequently inhabits courts; member of the German Society estabut he wants the grace and agility blished for literary objects in Manproper to the species; he is less a heim; and he valued the honour, fool than a blockhead, less perverted not only as a testimony of respect than totally inane. Schiller's strength from a highly estimable quarter, but lay not in comedy, but in something also as the means of uniting him far higher. The great merit of the more closely with men of kindred present work consists in the charac- pursuits and tempers; and what was ters of the hero and heroine ; and in more than all, of quieting for ever this respect, it ranks at the very head his apprehensions from the governof its class. As a tragedy of com- ment at Stuttgard. Since his arrival mon life, we know of few rivals to at Manheim, one or two suspicious it, certainly of no superior.
incidents had again alarmed him on The production of three such this head; but being now acknowpieces as the Robbers, Fiesco, and ledged as a subject of the Elector Kabale und Liebe, already announced Palatine, naturalized by law in his to the world that another great and new country, he had nothing more original mind had appeared, from to fear from the Duke of Würtemwhose maturity, when such were the berg. promises of youth, the highest ex. Satisfied with his moderate in, pectations might be formed. These come, safe, free, and surrounded by three plays stand related to each friends that loved and honoured him, other in regard to their nature and Schiller now looked confidently for. form as well as date: they exhibit ward to what all his efforts had the progressive state of Schiller's been a search and hitherto a fruit. education; show us the fiery enthu- less search for, an undisturbed life siasm of youth, exasperated into of intellectual labour. What effect wildness, astonishing in its move- this happy aspect of his circumments rather than sublime ; and the stances must have produced upon same enthusiasm gradually yielding him may be easily conjectured. to the sway of reason, gradually Through many years he had been using itself to the constraints pre- inured to agitation and distress; now scribed by sound judgement and peace, and liberty, and hope, sweet more extensive knowledge. Of the in themselves, were sweeter for their three, the Robbers is doubtless the novelty. For the first time in his most singular, and likely perhaps to life, he saw himself allowed to obey be the most widely popular: but the without reluctance the ruling bias latter two are of more real worth in of his nature ; for the first time, inthe eye of taste, and will better bear clination and duty went band in a careful and rigorous study.
hand. His activity awoke with With the appearance of Fiesco and renovated force in this favourable its companion, the first period of scene; long-thwarted, half-forgotten Schiller's literary history may con- projects again kindled into brightclude. The stormy confusions of his ness, as the possibility of their acyouth were now subsiding ; after all complishment became apparent:his aberrations, repulses, and per- Schiller glowed with a generous plexed wanderings, he was at length pride, when he felt his faculties at about to reach his true destination, his own disposal, and thought of the and times of more serenity began to use he meant to make of them. open for him. Two such tragedies “All my connections,” he said, “are as he had lately offered to the world, now dissolved. The public is now made it easier for his friend Dalberg all to me, my study, my sovereign, to second his pretensions. Schiller my confident. To the public alone was at last gratified by the fulfil- I henceforth belong ; before this and ment of his favourite scheme; in no other tribunal will I place mySeptember, 1783, he went to Man- self; this alone do. I reverence and heim, as poet to the theatre, a post fear. Something majestic hovers of respectability and reasonable profit, before me, as I determine now to
wear no other fetters but the sen- leave him-commencing the arduous tence of the world, to appeal to no and perilous, but also glorious and other throne but the soul of man." sublime duties of a life consecrated
These expressions are extracted to the discovery of truth, and the from the preface to his Thalia, a pe- creation of intellectual beauty. He riodical work, which he undertook was now exclusively what is called in 1784, devoted to subjects con- a Man of Letters, for the rest of his nected with poetry, and chiefly with days. the drama. In such sentiments we
LETTER OF ELIA TO ROBERT SOUTHEY, ESQUIRE. SIR, You have done me an un- Essay you had in view (if my poor friendly office, without perhaps much ramblings amount to that appellaconsidering what you were doing. tion) when you were in such a You have given an ill name to my hurry to thrust in your objection, poor Lucubrations. In a recent Pa- like bad news, foremost.—Perhaps per on Infidelity, you usher in a con- the Paper on
Saying Graces” was ditional commendation of them with the obnoxious feature. I have enan exception; which, preceding the deavoured there to rescue a volunencomium, and taking up nearly the tary duty--good in place, but never, same space with it, must impress as I remember, literally commandyour readers with the notion, that the ed-from the charge of an undecent objectionable parts in them are at formality. Rightly taken, Sir, that least equal in quantity to the pardon- Paper was not against Graces, but able. The censure is in fact the criti- Want of Grace; not against the cecism; the praise—a concession mere- remony, but the carelessness and ly. Exceptions usually follow, to slovenliness so often observed in the qualify praise or blame. But there performance of it. stands your reproof, in the very front Or was it that on the “ New Year" of your notice, in ugly characters, in which I have described the like some bugbear, to frighten all feelings of the merely natural man, good Christians from purchasing. on a consideration of the amazing Through you I am become an object change, which is supposable to take of suspicion to preceptors of youth, place on our removal from this and fathers of families. “ A book, fleshly scene ?-If men would ho'which wants only a sounder religious nestly confess their misgivings feeling to be as delightful as it is origi- (which few men will) there are nal.” With no further explanation, times when the strongest Christians what must your readers conjecture, of us, I believe, have reeled under but that my little volume is some questionings of such staggering obvehicle for heresy or infidelity? The scurity. I do not accuse you of quotation, which you honour me by this weakness. There are some subjoining, oddly enough, is of a who tremblingly reach out shaking character, which bespeaks a tem- hands to the guidance of Faithperament in the writer the very re- Others who stoutly venture into the verse of that your reproof goes to in- dark (their Human Confidence their sinuate. Had you been taxing me leader, whom they mistake for Faith); with superstition, the passage would and, investing themselves before have been pertinent to the censure. hand with Cherubic wings, as they Was it worth your while to go so fancy, find their new robes as fafar out of your way to affront the miliar, and fitting to their supposed feelings of an old friend, and com- growth and stature in godliness, as mit yourself by an irrelevant quo- the coat they left off yesterdaytation, for the pleasure of reflecting Some whose hope totters upon upon a poor child, an exile at crutches Others who stalk into fuGenoa ?
turity upon stilts. I am at a loss what particular The contemplation of a Spiritual
over a summer sea.
World,—which, without the addi- edges, the debateable land between tion of a misgiving conscience, is the holy and the profane regionsenough to shake some natures to (for the admixture of man's inventheir foundation — is smoothly got tions, twisting themselves with the over by others, who shall float over name of religion itself, has artfulthe black billows, in their little boat ly made it difficult to touch even of No-Distrust, as unconcernedly as the alloy, without, in some men's
The difference estimation, soiling the fine gold)is chiefly constitutional.
if I have sported within the purOne man shall love his friends lieus of serious matter-it was, I and his friends' faces; and, under dare say, a humour-be not startled, the uncertainty of conversing with Sir-which I have unwittingly dethem again, in the same
rived from yourself. You have all and familiar circumstances of sight, your life been making a jest of the speech, &c. as upon earth-in a Devil. Not of the scriptural meanmoment of no irreverent weaknessing of that dark essence-personal - for a dream-while - no more or allegorical ; for the nature is no would be almost content, for a re- where plainly delivered. I acquit ward of a life of virtue (if he could you of intentional irreverence. But ascribe such acceptance to his lame indeed you have made wonderfully performances), to take up his por- free with, and been mighty pleasant tion with those he loved, and was upon, the popular idea and attributes made to love, in this good world, of him. A noble Lord, your brother which he knows—which was creat- Visionary, has scarcely taken greater ed so lovely, beyond his deservings. liberties with the material keys, and Another, embracing a more exalted merely Catholic notion of St. Peter. vision-so that he might receive in. You have flattered him in prose: you definite additaments of power, know- have chanted him in goodly odes. ledge, beauty, glory, &c.—is ready You have been his Jester; Volunteer to forego the recognition of hum- Laureat, and self-elected Court Poet bler individualities of earth, and the to Beëlzebub. old familiar faces. The shapings of You have never ridiculed, I beour heavens are the modifications of lieve, what you thought to be reliour constitution; and Mr. Feeble gion, but you are always girding at Mind, or Mr. Great Heart, is born what some pious, but perhaps misin every one of us.
taken folks, think to be so. For this Some (and such have been ac- reason I am sorry to hear, that you counted the safest divines) have are engaged upon a life of George Fox. shrunk from pronouncing upon the I know you will fall into the error final state of any man; nor dare of intermixing some comic stuff with they pronounce the case of Judas your seriousness. The Quakers trenito be desperate. Others (with ble at the subject in your hands. The stronger optics), as plainly as with Methodists are shy of you, upon acthe eye of flesh, shall behold a count of their founder. But, above given king in bliss, and a given cham- all, our Popish brethren are most in berlain in torment; even to the your debt. The errors of that church eternising of a cast of the eye in have proved a fruitful source to your the latter, his own self-mocked and scoffing vein. Their Legend has been good humouredly-borne deformity a Golden one to you. And here, on earth, but supposed to aggravate your friends, Sir, have
noticed a notethe uncouth and hideous expression able inconsistency. To the imposing of his pangs in the other place. rites, the solemn penances, devout That one man can presume so far, austerities of that communion; the and that another would with shud- affecting though erring piety of their dering disclaim such confidences, is, hermits; the silence and solitude of I believe, an effect of the nerves the Chartreux-their crossings, their purely.
holy waters-their Virgin, and their If in either of these Papers, or saints to these, they say, you have elsewhere, I have been betrayed into been indebted for the best feelings, some levities — not affronting the and the richest imagery, of your Epic sanctuary, but glancing perhaps al poetry. You have drawn copions some of the out-skirts and extreme drafts upon Loretto. We thought
at one time you were going post to again ; and W., the light, and warmRome-but that in the facetious com as-light hearted, Janus of the Lonmentaries, which it is your custom don; and the translator of Dante, to append so plentifully, and (some still a curate, modest and amiable C. say) injudiciously, to your loftiest and Allan C., the large-hearted Scot; performances in this kind, you spurn and P r, candid and affectionate as the uplifted toe, which you but just his own poetry; and A-p, Colenow seemed to court; leave his holi- ridge's friend; and G-n, his more ness in the lurch ; and show him a than friend ; and Coleridge himself, fair pair of Protestant heels under the same to me still, as in those old your" Romish vestment. When we evenings, when we used to sit and think you already at the wicket, sud- speculate (do you remember them, denly a violent cross wind blows you Sir ?) at our old Salutation tavern, transverse
upon Pantisocracy and golden days ten thousand leagues awry. to come on earth ; and W—th (why, Then might we see
Sir, I might drop my rent-roll here; Cowls, boods, and habits, with their wearers, such goodly farms and manors have
I reckoned up already. In what posAnd flutter'd into rags; then reliques, sessions has not this last name alone beads,
estated me !_but I will go on)Indulgences, dispenses, pardons, bulls, and M., the noble-minded kinsman, The sport of winds.
by wedlock, of W-th; and You pick up pence by showing the H. C. R., unwearied in the offices hallowed bones, shrine, and crucifix; of a friend ; and Clarkson, almost and you take money a second time by above the narrowness of that relaexposing the trick of them after- tion, yet condescending not seldom :wards. You carry your verse to heretofore from the labours of his Castle Angelo for sale in a morn- world-embracing charity to bless my ing; and, swifter than a pedlar can humble roof; and the gall-less and sintransmute his pack, you are at Can- gle-minded Dyer; and the high-minded terbury with your prose ware before associate of Cook, the veteran Colo-night.
nel, with his lusty heart still sending Sir, is it that I dislike you in this cartels of defiance to old Time; and, merry vein? The very reverse. No not least, W. A. the last and steacountenance becomes an intelligent diest left to me of that little knot of jest better than your own. It is whist-players, that used to assemble your grave aspect, when you look weekly, for so many years, at the awful upon your poor friends, which Queen's Gate (you remember them, I would deprecate.
Sir?) and called Admiral Burney In more than one place, if I mis- friend. . take not, you have been pleased to I will come to the point at once. compliment me at the expence of my I believe you will not make many companions. I cannot accept your exceptions to my associates so far. compliment at such a price. The But I have purposely omitted some upbraiding a man's poverty naturally intimacies, which I do not yet repent makes him look about him, to see of having contracted, with two genwhether he be so poor indeed as he tlemen, diametrically opposed to is presumed to be. You have put yourself in principles. You will unme upon counting my riches. Really, derstand me to allude to the authors Sir, I did not know I was so wealthy of Rimini and of the Table Talk. in the article of friendships. There And first, of the former.is, and —, whom you never It is an error more particularly inheard of, but exemplary characters cident to persons of the correctest both, and excellent church-goers; principles and habits, to seclude and N., mine and my father's friend themselves from the rest of mankind, for nearly half a century; and the as from another species; and form enthusiast for Wordsworth's poetry, into knots and clubs. The best peoT. N. T., a little tainted with so- ple, herding thus exclusively, are in cinianism, it is to be feared, but con- danger of contracting a narrowness. stant in his attachments, and a capi- Heat and cold, dryness and moisture, tal critic; and à sturdy old in the natural world, do not fly asunAthanasian, so that sets all to rights der, to split the globe into sectarian