صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

communicate the same for behoof of the British | dramatists, is the Dr. Müllner, at present unnation. Müllner's recipe is no mysterious der consideration. Müllner deals in Fate and one; floats, indeed, on the very surface: might Fate only; it is the basis and staple of his even be taught, one would suppose, on a few whole tragedy-goods; cut off this one princi trials, to the humblest capacity. Our readers ple, you annihilate his raw material, and he may perhaps recollect Zacharias Werner, and can manufacture no more. some short allusion, in our First Number, to a Müllner acknowledges his obligations to highly terrific piece of his, entitled The Twenty- Werner; but, we think, not half warmly fourth of February. A more detailed account enough. Werner was in fact the making of of the matter may be found in Madame de him; great as he has now become, our Doctor Staël's Allemagne; in the Chapter which treats is nothing but a mere misletoe growing from of that infatuated Zacharias generally. It is a that poor oak, itself already half-dead; had story of a Swiss peasant and bankrupt, called there been no Twenty-fourth of February, there Kurt Kuruh, if we mistake not; and of his were then no Twenty-ninth of February, no wife, and a rich travelling stranger, lodged Schuld, no Albanäserinn, most probably no with them; which latter is, in the night of the König Yngurd. For the reader is to underTwenty-fourth of February, wilfully and felo- stand that Dr. Müllner, already a middle-aged, niously murdered by the two former, and and as yet a perfectly undramatic man, began proves himself in the act of dying to be their business with a direct copy of this Twentyown only son, who had returned home to make fourth; a thing proceeding by Destiny, and them all comfortable, could they only have had ending in murder, by a knife or scythe, as in a little patience. But the foul deed is already the Kuruh case; with one improvement, inaccomplished, with a rusty knife or scythe; deed, that there was a grinding-stone introand nothing of course remains but for the duced into the scene, and the spectator had whole batch to go to perdition. For it was the satisfaction of seeing the knife previously written, as the Arabs say, "on the iron leaf;" whetted. The Author too was honest enough these Kuruhs are doomed men; old Kuruh, the publicly to admit his imitation; for he named grandfather, had committed some sin or other; this Play, the Twenty-ninth of February; and, for which, like the sons of Atreus, his descend- in his Preface, gave thanks, though somewhat ants are "prosecuted with the utmost rigour:" | reluctantly, to Werner, as to his master and nay, so punctilious is Destiny, that this very originator. For some inscrutable reason, this Twenty-fourth of February, the day when that Twenty-ninth was not sent to the green-grocer, old sin was enacted, is still a fatal day with but became popular: there was even the the family; and this very knife or scythe, the weakest of parodies written on it, entitled criminal tool on that former occasion, is ever Eumenides Düster, (Eumenides Gloomy,) which the instrument of new crime and punishment; Müllner has reprinted; there was likewise "a the Kuruhs, during all that half century, never wish expressed" that the termination might having carried it to the smithy to make hob- be made joyous, not grievous; with which nails; but kept it hanging on a peg, most inju- wish also, the indefatigable wright has com diciously we think, almost as a sort of bait plied; and so, for the benefit of weak nerves, and bonus to Satan, a ready-made fulcrum for we have the Wahn, (Delusion,) which still whatever machinery he might bring to bear ends in tears, but glad ones. In short, our against them. This is the tragic lesson taught Doctor has a peculiar merit with this Twentyin Werner's Twenty-fourth of February; and, as ninth of his; for who but he could have cut a the whole dramatis personæ are either stuck second and a third face on the same cherrythrough with old iron, or hanged in hemp, it is stone, said cherry-stone having first to be surely taught with some considerable em- borrowed, or indeed half-stolen? phasis.

At this point, however, Dr. Müllner ap

Werner's Play was brought out at Weimar,parently began to set up for himself; and ever in 1809; under the direction or permission, as henceforth he endeavours to persuade his own he brags, of the great Goethe himself; and mind and ours that his debt to Werner terseems to have produced no faint impression minates here. Nevertheless clear it is that on a discerning public. It is, in fact, a piece fresh debt was every day contracting. For nowise destitute of substance and a certain had not this one Wernerean idea taken comcoarse vigour: and if any one has so obstinate plete hold of the Doctor's mind, so that he a heart that he must absolutely stand in a was quite possessed with it; had, we might slaughter-house, or within wind of the gallows say, no other tragic idea whatever? That a before tears will come, it may have a very man, on a certain day of the month, shall fall comfortable effect on him. One symptom of into crime; for which an invisible Fate shall merit it must be admitted to exhibit,-an adap- silently pursue him; punishing the transgrestation to the general taste; for the small fibre sion, most probably on the same day of the of originality, which exists here, has already month, annually (unless, as in the Twentyshot forth into a whole wood of imitations. ninth, it be leap-year, and Fate in this may be, We understand that the Fate-line is now quite to a certain extent, bilked; and never resting an established branch of dramatic business in till the poor wight himself, and perhaps his Germany: they have their Fate-dramatists, just last descendant, shall be swept away with the as we have our gingham-weavers, and inkle- besom of destruction: such, more or less disweavers. Of this Fate-manufacture we have guised, frequently without any disguise, is the already seen one sample in Grillparzer's Ahn- tragic essence, the vital principle, natural frau but by far the most extensive Fate- or galvanic we are not deciding, of all Dr. manufacturer, the head and prince of all Fate- | Müllner's Dramas. Thus, in that everlasting

Twenty-ninth of February, we have the principle | For our own share, we confess that we incline in its naked state: some old Woodcutter or to rank it as a recipe for dramatic tears, a Forester has fallen into deadly sin with his shade higher than the Page's split onion in wife's sister, long ago, on that intercalary day; the Taming of the Shrew. Craftily hid in the and so his whole progeny must, wittingly or handkerchief, this onion was sufficient for the unwittingly, proceed in incest and murder; deception of Christopher Sly; in that way atthe day of the catastrophe regularly occurring, taining its object; which, also, the Fate-inven every four years, on that same Twenty-ninth; tion seems to have done with the Christopher till happily the whole are murdered, and there Slys of Germany, and these not one but many, is an end. So likewise in the Schuld, (Guilt,) a and therefore somewhat harder to deceive. much more ambitious performance, we have To this onion-superiority we think Dr. M. is exactly the same doctrine of an anniversary; fairly entitled; and with this it were, perhaps, and the interest once more turns on that good for him that he remained content. delicate business of murder and incest. In the Albanäserinn, (Fair Albanese,) again, which may have the credit, such as it is, of being Müllner's best Play, we find the Fate-theory a little coloured; as if the drug had begun to disgust, and the Doctor would hide it in a spoonful of syrup: it is a dying man's curse that operates on the criminal; which curse, being strengthened by a sin of very old standing in the family of the cursee, takes singular effect; the parties only weathering parricide, fratricide, and the old story of incest, by two self-banishments, and two very decisive selfmurders. Nay, it seems as if our Doctor positively could not act at all without this Fate-panacea in König Yagurd, we might almost think that he had made such an attempt, and found that it would not do. This König Yngurd, an imaginary Peasant-King of Norway, is meant, as we are kindly informed, to present us with some adumbration of Napoleon Bonaparte; and truly, for the two or three first Acts, he goes along with no small gallantry, in what drill-sergeants call a dashing or swashing style; a very virtuous kind of man, and as bold as Ruy Diaz or any other Christian: when suddenly in the middle of a battle, far on in the Play, he is seized with some caprice, or whimsical qualm; retires to a solitary place, among rocks, and there, in the most gratuitous manner, delivers himself over, riva voce, to the Devil; who indeed does not appear personally to take seisin of him, but yet, as afterwards comes to light, has with great readiness accepted the gift. For now Yngurd grows dreadfully sulky and wicked, does little henceforth but bully men and kill them; till at length, the measure of his iniquities being full, he himself is bullied and killed; and the Author, carried through by this his sovereign tragic elixir, contrary to expectation, terminates his piece with reasonable comfort.

Dr. Müllner's Fate-scheme has been attacked by certain of his traducers on the score of its hostility to the Christian religion. Languishing, indeed, should we reckon the condition of the Christian religion to be, could Dr. Müllner's play-joinery produce any perceptible effect on it. Nevertheless, we may remark, since the matter is in hand, that this business of Fate does seem to us nowise a Christian doctrine; not even a Mohammedan or Heathen one. The Fate of the Greeks, though a false, was a lofty hypothesis, and harmonized sufficiently with the whole sensual and material structure of their theology: a ground of deepest black, on which that gorgeous phantas magoria was fitly enough painted. Besides, with them, the avenging Power dwelt, at least in its visible manifestations, among the high places of the earth; visiting only kingly houses, and world's criminals, from whom it might be supposed the world, but for such miraculous interferences, could have exacted no vengeance, or found no protection and purification. Never, that we recollect of, did the Erinnyes become mere sheriffs'-officers, and Fate a justice of the peace, haling poor drudges to the treadmill for robbery of henroosts, or scattering the earth with steel-traps to keep down poaching. And what has all this to do with the revealed Providence of these days; that power whose path is emphatically through the great deep; his doings and plans manifested, in completeness, not by the year, or by the century, on individuals or on nations, but stretching through eternity, and over the infinitude which he rules and sustains?

But there needs no recourse to theological arguments for judging this Fate-tenet of Dr. Müllner's. Its value, as a dramatic principle, may be estimated, it seems to us, by this one consideration: that in these days no person of either sex in the slightest degree believes it; that Dr. Müllner himself does not believe it. We are not contending that fiction should become fact, or that no dramatic incident is genuine, unless it could be sworn to before a jury; but simply that fiction should not be

This, then, is Dr. Müllner's dramatic mystery; this is the one patent hook by which he would hang his clay tragedies on the upper spiritual world; and so establish for himself a free communication, almost as if by block- falsehood and delirium. How shall any one and-tackle, between the visible Prose Earth in the drama, or in poetry of any sort, present and the invisible Poetic Heaven. The greater a consistent philosophy of life, which is the or less merit of this his invention, or rather soul and ultimate essence of all poetry, if he improvement, for Werner is the real patentee, and every mortal know that the whole moral has given rise, we understand, to extensive basis of his ideal world is a lie? And is i argument. The small deer of criticism seem other than a lie that man's life is, or was, or to be much divided in opinion on this point; could be, grounded on this pettifogging princi and the higher orders, as we have stated, de- ple of a Fate that pursues woodcutters and clining to throw any light whatever on it, the cowherds with miraculous visitations, on stated subject is still mooting with great animation. days of the month? Can we, with any profit,

hold the mirror up to Nature in this wise? When our mirror is no mirror, but only as it were a nursery saucepan, and that long since grown rusty?

We might add, were it of any moment in this case, that we reckon Dr. Müllner's tragic knack altogether insufficient for a still more comprehensive reason; simply for the reason that it is a knack, a recipe, or secret of the craft, which, could it be never so excellent, must by repeated use degenerate into a mannerism, and therefore into a nuisance. But herein lies the difference between creation and manufacture; the latter has its manipulations, its secret processes, which can be learned by apprenticeship; the former has not. For in poetry we have heard of no secret possess ing the smallest effectual virtue, except this one general secret: that the poet be a man of a purer, higher, richer nature than other men; which higher nature shall itself, after earnest inquiry, have taught him the proper form for imbodying its inspirations, as indeed the imperishable beauty of these will shine, with more or less distinctness, through any form whatever.

one.

Had Dr. Müllner any visible pretension to this last great secret, it might be a duty to dwell longer and more gravely on his minor ones, however false and poor. As he has no such pretension, it appears to us that for the present we may take our leave. To give any further analysis of his individual dramas would be an easy task, but a stupid and thankless A Harrison's watch, though this too is but an earthly machine, may be taken asunder with some prospect of scientific advantage; but who would spend time in screwing and unscrewing the mechanism of ten peppermills? Neither shall we offer any extract, as a specimen of the diction and sentiment that reigns in these dramas. We have said already that it is fair, well-ordered stage-sentiment this of his; that the diction too is good, wellscanned, grammatical diction; no fault to be found with either, except that they pretend to be poetry, and are throughout the most unadulterated prose. To exhibit this fact in extracts would be a vain undertaking. Not the few sprigs of heath, but the thousand acres of it, characterize the wilderness. Let any one who covets a trim heath-nosegay, clutch at random into Müllner's seven volumes; for ourselves, we would not deal further in that article.

Besides his dramatic labours, Dr. Müllner is known to the public as a journalist. For some considerable time, he has edited a literary newspaper of his own originating, the MitternachtBlatt (Midnight Paper); stray leaves of which we occasionally look into. In this last capacity, we are happy to observe, he shows to much more advantage; indeed, the journalistic office seems quite natural to him; and would he take any advice from us, which he will not, here were the arena in which, and not in the Fatedrama, he would exclusively continue to fence, for his bread or glory. He is not without a vein of small wit; a certain degree of drollery there is, and grinning half-risible, half-impudent he has a fair hand at the feebler sort of

lampoon: the German Joe Millers also seem familiar to him, and his skill in the riddle is respectable; so that altogether, as we said, he makes a superior figure in this line, which indeed is but despicably managed in Germany, and his Mitternacht-Blatt is, by several degrees, the most readable paper of its kind we meet with in that country. Not that we, in the abstract, much admire Dr. Müllner's newspaper procedure; his style is merely the common-tavernstyle, familiar enough in our own periodical literature; riotous, blustering, with some tincture of blackguardism; a half-dishonest style, and smells considerably of tobacco and spiritu ous liquor. Neither do we find that there is the smallest fraction of valuable knowledge or opinion communicated in the Midnight Paper; indeed, except it be the knowledge and opinion that Dr. Müllner is a great dramatist, and that all who presume to think otherwise are insufficient members of society, we cannot charge our memory with having gathered any knowledge from it whatever. It may be, too, that Dr. Müllner is not perfectly original in his journalistic manner: we have sometimes felt as if his light were, to a certain extent, a borrowed one; a rushlight kindled at the great pitch link of our own Blackwood's Magazine. But on this point we cannot take upon us to decide.

One of Müllner's regular journalistic articles is the Kriegszeitung, or War-intelligence, of all the paper-battles, feuds, defiances, and private assassinations, chiefly dramatic, which occur in the more distracted portion of the German Literary Republic. This Kriegszeitung Dr. Müllner evidently writes with great gusto, in a lively braggadocia manner, especially when touching on his own exploits; yet to us, it is far the most melancholy part of the MitternachtBlatt. Alas! this is not what we search for in a German newspaper; how "Herr Sapphir, or Herr Carbuncle, or so many other Herren Dousterswivel, are all busily molesting one another! We ourselves are pacific men; make a point "to shun discrepant circles rather than seek them :" and how sad is it to hear of so many illustrious-obscure persons living in foreign parts, and hear only, what was well known without hearing, that they also are instinct with the spirit of Satan! For what is the bone that these Journalists, in Berlin and elsewere, are worrying over; what is the ultimate purpose of all this barking and snarling Sheer love of fight, you would say; simply to make one another's life a little bitterer, as if Fate had not been cross enough to the happiest of them. Were there any perceptible subject of dispute, any doctrine to advocate, even a false one, it would be something; but so far as we can discover, whether from Sapphire and Company, or the "Naboo ci Weissenfels," (our own worthy Doctor,) there is none. And is this their appointed function? Are Editors scattered over the country, and supplied with victuals and fuel, purely to bite one another? Certainly not. But these Journalists, we think, are like the Academician's colony of spiders. This French virtuoso had found that cobwebs were worth something, could even be woven into silk stockings: whereupon, he exhibits a very handsome pair

of cobweb hose to the Academy, is encouraged | upper air. Not in despite towards the German

to proceed with the manufacture, and so collects some half-bushel of spiders, and puts them down in a spacious loft, with every convenience for making silk. But will the vicious creatures spin a thread? In place of it, they take to fighting with their whole vigour, in contempt of the poor Academician's utmost exertions to part them: and end not, till there is simply one spider left living, and not a shred of cobweb woven, or thenceforth to be expected! Could the weavers of paragraphs, like these of the cobweb, fairly exterminate and silence one another, it would perhaps be a little more supportable. But an Editor is made of sterner stuff. In general cases, indeed, when the brains are out, the man will die: but it is a well known fact in Journalistics, that a man may not only live, but support wife and children by his labours, in this line, years after the brain (if there ever was any) has been completely abstracted, or reduced, by time and hard usage, into a state of dry powder. What then is to be done? Is there no end to this brawling; and will the unprofitable noise endure for ever? By way of palliative, we have sometimes imagined that a Congress of all German Editors might be appointed, by proclamation, in some central spot, say the Nürnberg Market-place, if it would hold them all: here we would humbly suggest that the whole Journalistik might assemble on a given day, and under the eye of proper marshals, sufficiently and satisfactorily horsewhip one another simultaneously, each his neighbour, till the very toughest had enough both of whipping and of being whipped. In this way, it seems probable, little or no injustice would be done: and each Journalist, cleared of gall, for several months, might return home in a more composed frame of mind, and betake himself with new alacrity to the real duties of his office.

nation, which we love honestly, have we spoken thus of these its Playwrights and Journalists. Alas! when we look around us at home, we feel too well that the Germans might say to us,-Neighbour, sweep thy own floor! Neither is it with any hope of bettering the existence of these three individual Poetasters, still less with the smallest shadow of wish to make it more miserable, that we have spoken. After all, there must be Playwrights, as we have said: and these are among the best of the class. So long as it pleases them to manufacture in this line, and any body of German Thebans to pay them, in groschen or plaudits, for their ware, let both parties persist in so doing, and fair befall them! But the duty of Foreign Reviewers is of a two-fold sort. For not only are we stationed on the coast of the country, as watchers and spials, to report whatsoever remarkable thing becomes visible in the distance; but we stand there also as a sort of Tide-waiters and Preventive-servicemen, to contend, with our utmost vigour, that no improper article be landed. These offices, it would seem, as in the material world, so also in the literary and spiritual, usually fall to the lot of aged, invalided, impoverished, or otherwise decayed persons; but this is little to the matter. As true British subjects, with ready will, though it may be, with our last strength, we are here to discharge that double duty. Movements, we observe, are making along the beach, and signals out sea-wards, as if these Klingemauns and Müllners were to be landed on our soil: but through the strength of heaven this shall not be done, till the "most thinking people" know what it is that is landing. For the rest, if any one wishes to import that sort of produce, and finds it nourishing for his inward man, let him do so, and welcome. Only let him understand that it is not German Literature he is swallowing, But, enough! enough! The humour of but the froth and scum of German Literature; these men may be infectious; it is not good which scum, if he will only wait, we can furfor us to be here. Wandering over the Ely- ther promise him that he may, ere long, enjoy sian fields of German Literature, not watch-in the new, and perhaps cheaper, form of sediing the gloomy discords of its Tartarus, is ment. And so let every one be active for himwhat we wish to be employed in. Let the self. iron gate again close, and shut in the pallid kingdoms from view; we gladly revisit the

Noch ist es Tag, da rühre sich der Mann,
Die Nacht tritt ein, wo niemand wirken kann.

[blocks in formation]

COULD ambition always choose its own path, and were will in human undertakings synonymous with faculty, all truly ambitious men would be men of letters. Certainly, if we examine that love of power, which enters so largely into most practical calculations, nay, which our Utilitarian friends have recognised as the sole end and origin, both motive and reward, of all earthly enterprises, animating alike the philanthropist, the conqueror, the money-changer, and the missionary, we shall find that all other arenas of ambition, compared with this rich and boundless one of Literature, meaning thereby whatever respects the promulgation of Thought, are poor, limited, and ineffectual. For dull, unreflective, merely instinctive as the ordinary man may seem, he has nevertheless, as a quite indispensable appendage, a head that in some degree considers and computes; a lamp or rushlight of understanding has been given him, which, through whatever dim, besmoked, and strangely diffractive media it may shine, is the ultimate guiding light of his whole path: and here, as well as there, now as at all times in man's history, Opinion rules the world.

Curious it is, moreover, to consider, in this respect, how different appearance is from reality, and under what singular shape and circumstances the truly most important man of any given period might be found. Could some Asmodeus, by simply waiving his arm, open asunder the meaning of the Present, even so far as the Future will disclose it, how much more marvellous a sight should we have, than that mere bodily one through the roofs of Madrid! For we know not what we are, any more than what we shall be. It is a high, solemn, almost awful thought for every individual man, that his earthly influence, which has had a commencement, will never | through all ages, were he the very meanest of us, have an end! What is done is done; has already blended itself with the boundless, ever-living, ever-working Universe, and will also work there, for good or for evil, openly or secretly, throughout all time. But the life of every man is as the well-spring of a stream, whose small beginnings are indeed plain to all, but whose ulterior course and destination, as it winds through the expanses of infinite years, only the Omniscient can discern., Will it mingle with neighbouring rivulets, as a tributary; or receive them as their sovereign?

* Mémoires sur Voltaire, et sur ses Ouvrages, par Longchamp et Wagnière, ses Secrétaires; suivis de divers Ecrits inédits de la Marquise du Châtelet, du Président Henault, &c., tous relatifs à Voltaire. (Memoirs concerning Voltaire and his Works, by Longchamp and Wagnière, his Secretaries; with various unpublished pieces by the Marquise du Châtelet, &c., all relating to Voltaire.) 2 Tomes. Paris, 1826.

Is it to be a nameless brook, and will its tiny waters, among millions of other brooks and rills, increase the current of some world'sriver? Or is it to be itself a Rhine or Danaw, whose goings forth are to the uttermost lands, its flood an everlasting boundary-line on the globe itself, the bulwark and highway of whole kingdoms and continents? We know not only in either case, we know its path is to the great ocean: its waters, were they but a handful, are here, and cannot be annihilated or permanently held back.

As little can we prognosticate, with any certainty, the future influences from the present aspects of an individual. How many Demagogues, Croesuses, Conquerors fill their own age with joy or terror, with a tumult that promises to be perennial; and in the next age die away into insignificance and oblivion! These are the forests of gourds, that overtop the infant cedars and aloe-trees, but, like the Prophet's gourd, wither on the third day. What was it to the Pharaohs of Egypt, in that old era, if Jethro the Midianitish priest and grazier accepted the Hebrew outlaw as his herdsman? Yet the Pharaohs, with all their chariots of war, are buried deep in the wrecks of time; and that Moses still lives, not among his own tribe only, but in the hearts and daily business of all civilized nations. Or figure Mahomet, in his youthful years, " travelling to the horse-fairs of Syria!" Nay, to take an infinitely higher instance, who has ever forgotten those lines of Tacitus; inserted as a small, transitory, altogether trifling circumstance in the history of such a potentate as Nero? To us it is the most earnest, sad, and sternly significant passage that we know to exist in writing: Ergo abolendo rumori Nero subdidit reos, et quæsitissimis panis affecit, quos per flagitia invisos, vulgus CHRISTIANOS appellabat. Auctor nominis ejus CHRISTUS, qui, Tiberio imperitante, per Procuratorem Pontium Pilatum supplicio affectus erat. Repressaque in præsens exitiabilis superstitio rursus erumpebat, non modo per Judæam originem ejus muli, sed per urbem etiam, quo cuncta undique atrocia aut pudenda confluunt, celebranturque. So, for the quieting of this rumour,* Nero judicially charged with the crime, and punished with most studied severities, that class, hated for their general wickedness, whom the vulgar call Christians. The originator of that name was one Christ, who, in the reign of Tiberius, suffered death by sentence of the procurator, Pontius Pilate. The baneful superstition, thereby repressed for the time, again broke out, not only over Judea, the native soil of that mischief, but in the City also, where from every side al!

""

Of his having set fire to Rome.

« السابقةمتابعة »