« السابقةمتابعة »
Schiller's literary life there was none so important for him as his connection with Goethe. To use our old figure, we might say, that if Schiller was a Priest, then was Goethe the Bishop from whom he first acquired clear spi-permanently benefit another; so mournfully, in giving and receiving, as in most charitable affections and finer movements of our nature, are we all held in by that paltry vanity, which, under reputable names, usurps, on both sides, a sovereignty it has no claim to. Nay, many times, when our friend would honestly help us, and strives to do it, yet will he never bring himself to understand what we really need, and so to forward us on our own path; but insists more simply on us taking his path, and leaves us as incorrigible because we will not and cannot. Thus "men are solitary among each other;" no one will help his neighbour; each has even to assume a defensive attitude lest his neighbour hinder him!
ritual light, by whose hands he was ordained to the priesthood. Their friendship has been much celebrated, and deserved to be so; it is a pure relation; unhappily too rare in Literature; where if a Swift and Pope can even found an imperious Duumvirate, on little more than mutually-tolerated pride, and part the spoils, for some time, without quarrelling, it is thought a credit. Seldom do men combine so steadily and warmly for such purposes,-which when weighed in the economical balance are but gossamer. It appears also that preliminary difficulties stood in the way; prepossessions of some strength had to be conquered on both sides. For a number of years, the two, by accident or choice, never met, and their first interview scarcely promised any permanent approximation. "On the whole," says Schiller, "this personal meeting has not at all diminished the idea, great as it was, which I had previously formed of Goethe; but I doubt whether we shall ever come into close communication with each other. Much that still interests me has already had its epoch with him. His whole nature is, from its very origin, otherwise constructed than mine: his world is not my world; our modes of conceiving things appear to be essentially different. From such a combination no secure substantial intimacy can result."
Nevertheless, in spite of far graver prejudices on the part of Goethe,-to say nothing of the poor jealousies which in another man so circumstanced would openly or secretly have been at work,-a secure substantial intimacy did result-manifesting itself by continual good offices, and interrupted only by death. If we regard the relative situation of the parties, and their conduct in this matter, we must recognise in both of them no little social virtue; at all events, a deep disinterested love of worth. In the case of Goethe, more especially, who, as the elder and every way greater of the two, has little to expect in comparison with what he gives, this friendly union, had we space to explain its nature and progress, would give new proof that, as poor Jung Stilling also experienced, "the man's heart, which few know, is as true and noble as his genius, which all know." By Goethe, and this even before the date of their friendship, Schiller's outward interests had been essentially promoted: he was introduced under that sanction, into the service of Weimar, to an academic office, to a pension: his whole way was made smooth for him. In spiritual matters, this help, or rather let us say co-operation, for it came not in the shape of help, but of reciprocal service, was of still more lasting consequence. By the side of his friend, Schiller rises into the highest regions of Art he ever reached; and in all worthy things is sure of sympathy, of one wise judgment amid a crowd of unwise ones, of one helpful hand amid many hostile. Thus outwardly and inwardly assisted and confirmed, he henceforth goes on his way with new stead
fastness, turning neither to the right hand, nor to the left; and while days are given him, devotes them wholly to his best duty. It is rare that one man can do so much for another, can
Of Schiller's zealous, entire devotedness to Literature we have already spoken as of his crowning virtue, and the great source of his welfare. With what ardour he pursued this object his whole life, from the earliest stage of it, had given proof: but the clearest proof, clearer even than that youthful self-exile, was reserved for his later years, when a lingering, incurable disease had laid on him its new and ever-galling burden. At no period of Schiller's history does the native nobleness of his character appear so decidedly, as now in this season of silent, unwitnessed heroism, when the dark enemy dwelt within himself, unconquerable, yet ever, in all other struggles, to be kept at bay. We have medical evidence that during the last fifteen years of his life, not a moment could have been free of pain. Yet he utters no complaint. In this "Correspondence with Goethe" we see him cheerful, laborious; scarcely speaking of his maladies, and then only historically, in the style of a third party, as it were, calculating what force and length of days might still remain at his disposal. Nay, his highest poetical performances, we may say all that are truly poetical, belong to this era. If we recollect how many poor valetudinarians, Rousseaus, Cowpers, and the like, men otherwise of fine endowment, dwindle under the influence of nervous disease, into pining wretchedness, some into madness itself; and then that Schiller, under the like influence, wrote some of his deepest speculations, and all his genuine dramas, from Wallenstein to Wilhelm Tell, we shall the better estimate his merit.
It has been said that only in Religion, or something equivalent to Religion, can human nature support itself under such trials. But Schiller too had his Religion! was a Worshipper, nay, as we have often said, a Priest; and so in his earthly sufferings wanted not a heavenly stay. Without some such stay his life might well have been intolerable; stript of the Ideal, what remained for him in the Real was but a poor matter. Do we talk of his "happiness?" Alas, what is the loftiest flight of genius, the finest frenzy that ever for moments united Heaven with Earth, to the perennial never-fail. ing joys of a digestive-apparatus thoroughly eupeptic? Has not the turtle-eating man an eternal sunshine of the brear? Does not his
Soul,-which, as in some Sclavonic dialects, | means his Stomach,-sit for ever at his ease, enwrapped in warm condiments, amid spicy odours; enjoying the past, the present and the future; and only awakening from its soft trance to the sober certainty of a still higher bliss each meal-time-three or even four visions of Heaven in the space of one solar day! While for the sick man of genius, "whose world is of the mind, ideal, internal; when the mildew of lingering disease has struck that world, and begun to blacken and consume its beauty, what remains but despondency, and bitterness, and desolate sorrow felt and anticipated to the end?" "Wo to him," continues this Jeremiah, "if his will likewise falter, if his resolution fail, and his spirit bend its neck to the yoke of this new enemy! Idleness and a disturbed imagination will gain the mastery of him, and let loose their thousand fiends to harass him, to torment him into madness. Alas! the bondage of Algiers is freedom compared with this of the sick man of genius, whose heart has fainted, and sunk beneath its load. His clay dwelling is changed into a gloomy prison; every nerve has become an avenue of disgust or anguish, and the soul sits within in her melancholy loneliness, a prey to the spectres of despair, or stupified with excess of suffering; doomed, as it were, to a life-in-death, to a consciousness of agonized existence, without the consciousness of power which should accompany it. Happily death, or entire fatuity, at length puts an end to such scenes of ignoble misery, which, however, ignoble as they are, we ought to view with pity rather than contempt."-Life of Schiller, p. 167.
sion, as the beginning of all good?" Were your doctrine right, for what should we struggle with our whole might, for what pray to Heaven, if not that the "malady of thought" might be utterly stifled within us, and a power of digestion and secretion, to which that of the tiger were trifling, be imparted instead thereof? Whereupon the others deny that thought is a malady; that increase of knowledge is increase of sorrow; that Aldermen have a sunnier life than Aristotle's, though the Stagyrite himself died exclaiming, Fœdè mundum intravi, anxius vixi, perturbatus morior, &c.; and thus the argument circulates, and the bottles stand still.
So far as that Happiness question concerns the symposia of speculative gentlemen,-the rather as it really is a good enduring hacklog whereon to chop logic, for those so minded,we with great willingness leave it resting on its own bottom. But there are earnest natures for whom Truth is no plaything, but the staff of life; men whom the "solid reality of things" will not carry forward; who when the " inward voice” is silent in them, are powerless, nor will the loud huzzaing of millions supply the want of it. To these men, seeking anxiously for guidance; feeling that did they once clearly see the right, they would follow it cheerfully to weal or to wo, comparatively careless which; to these men the question, what is the proper aim of man, has a deep and awful interest.
For the sake of such, it may be remarked that the origin of this argument, like that of every other argument under the sun, lies in the confusion of language. If Happiness mean Welfare, there is no doubt but all men should and must pursue their Welfare, that is to say, pursue what is worthy of their pursuit. But if, on the other hand, Happiness mean, as for most men it does, "agreeable sensations," Enjoyment refined or not, then must we observe that there is a doubt; or rather that there is a certainty the other way. Strictly considered, this truth, that man has in him something higher than a Love of Pleasure, take Pleasure in what sense you will, has been the text of all true Teachers and Preachers, since the beginning of the world; and in one or another dialect, we may hope, will continue to be preached and taught till the world end. Neither is our own day without its asserters thereof: what,
example, does the astonished reader make of this little sentence from Schiller's Esthetic Letters? It is on that old question the "improvement of the species;" which, however, is handled here in a very new manner.
"The first acquisitions, then, which men gathered in the Kingdom of Spirit were Anxie:y and Fear; both, it is true, products of Reason, not of Sense; but of a Reason that mistook its object, and mistook its mode of application. Fruits of this same tree are all your HappinessSystems, (Glückseligkeitssysteme,) whether they have for object the passing Day, or the whole of life, or what renders them no whit more venerable, the whole of Eternity. A boundless duration of Being and Well-being (Duseyns und Wohlseyns) simply for Being and Well-being's sake, is an Ideal belonging to Appetite alone, and which only the struggle of mere Animalism, (Thierheit,) longing to be infinite, gives
Yet on the whole, we say, it is a shame for the man of genius to complain. Has he not a "light from Heaven" within him, to which the splendour of all earthly thrones and principalities is but darkness? And the head that wears such a crown grudges to lie uneasy If that same "light from Heaven," shining through the falsest media, supported Syrian Simon through all weather on his sixty-feet pillar, or the still more wonderful Eremite, who walled himself, for life, up to the chin, in stone and mortar; how much more should it do, when shining direct and pure from all intermixture? Let the modern Priest of wisdom either suffer his small persecutions and inflic-for tions, though sickness be of the number, in patience, or admit that ancient fanatics and bedlamites were truer worshippers than he.
A foolish controversy on this subject of happiness now and then occupies some intellectual dinner-party; speculative gentlemen we have seen, more than once, almost forget their wine in arguing whether Happiness was the chief end of man. The most cry out, with Pope: "Happiness, our being's end and aim;" and ask whether it is even conceivable that we should follow any other. How comes it, then, cry the Opposition, that the gross are happier than the refined; that even though we know them to be happier, we would not change places with them? Is it not written, "increase of knowledge is increase of sorrow?" And yet also written, in characters still more ineffaceable, "Pursue knowledge, attain clear vi
as well as the task he has to do; for this he
rise to. Thus without gaining any thing for
His intolerance of interruptions," we are
In forming for ourselves some picture of Schiller as a man, of what may be called his moral character, perhaps the very perfection of his manner of existence tends to diminish our estimate of its merits. What he aimed at he has attained in a singular degree. His life, at least from the period of manhood, is still unruthed, of clear even course. The completeness of the victory hides from us the magnitude of the struggle. On the whole, however, we may admit, that his character was not so much a great character as a holy one. We have often named him a Priest; and this title, with the quiet loftiness,-the pure, secluded, only internal, yet still heavenly worth that should belong to it, perhaps best describes
him. One high enthusiasm takes possession
During summer," it is mentioned at a subsequent date, "his place of study was in a garden which he at length purchased, in the suburbs of Jena, not far from the Weselhoft's house, where, at that time, was the office of the Allgemeine Litteraturzeitung. Reckoning from the market-place of Jena, it lies on the southwest border of the town, between the Engelgatter and the Neuthor, in a hollow defile, through which a part of the Leutrabach flows round the city. On the top of the acclivity, from which there is a beautiful prospect into the valley of the Saal, and the fir-mountains of the neighbouring forest, Schiller built himself a small house with a single chamber. It was his favourite abode during hours of composition; a great part of the works he then wrote were written here. In winter he likewise dwelt apart from the tumult of men,-in Griesbach's house, on the outside of the city trench. On sitting down to his desk at night, he was wont to keep some strong coffee, or wine-ch
colate, but more frequently a flask of old Rhenish, or Champagne, standing by him, that he might from time to time repair the exhaustion of nature. Often the neighbours used to hear him earnestly declaiming in the silence of the night; and whoever had an opportunity of watching him on such occasions-a thing very easy to be done, from the heights lying opposite his little garden-house, on the other side of the dale-might see him now speaking aloud, and walking swiftly to and fro in his chamber, then suddenly throwing himself down into his chair, and writing; and drinking the while, sometimes more than once, from the glass standing near him. In winter he was to be found at his desk till four, or even five o'clock, in the morning; in summer till towards three. He then went to bed, from which he seldom rose till nine or ten."
of heavenly wisdom that had dwelt even in him might still linger among men, and be acknowledged as heavenly and priceless, whether as his or not; whereby, though dead, he would yet speak, and his spirit would live throughout all generations, when the syllables that once formed his name had passed into forgetfulness for ever. We are told," he was in the highest degree philanthropic and humane and often said that he had no deeper wish than to know all men happy." What was still more, he strove, in his public and private capacity, to do his utmost for that end. Honest, merciful, disinterested, he is at all times found: and for the great duty laid on him no man was ever more unweariedly ardent. It was "his evening song and his morning prayer." He lived for it; and he died for it; "sacrificing," in the words of Goethe, "his Life itself to this delineating of Life."
"At Weimar his present way of life was like his former one at Jena: his business was to study and compose; his recreations were in the circle of his family, where he could abandon himself to affections grave or trifling, and in frank cheerful intercourse with a few friends. Of the latter he had lately formed a social club, the meetings of which afforded him a regular and innocent amusement. He still loved solitary walks: in the Park at Weimar he might frequently be seen, wandering among the groves and remote avenues, with a book in his hand; now loitering slowly along, now standing still, now moving rapidly on; if any one appeared in sight, he would dart into another alley, that his dream might not be broken. One of his favourite resorts, we are told, was the thickly overshadowed, rocky path, which leads to the Römische Haus, a pleasure-tility house of the Duke's, built under the direction of Goethe. There he would often sit in the gloom of the crags overgrown with cypresses and boxwood; shady thickets before him; not far from the murmur of a little brook, which there gushes in a smooth slaty channel, and where some verses of Goethe are cut upon a brown plate of stone, and fixed in the rock."Life of Schiller.
Such retirement, alike from the tumults and the pleasures of busy men, though it seems to diminish the merit of virtuous conduct in Schiller, is itself, as hinted above, the best proof of his virtue. No man is born without ambitious worldly desires; and for no man, especially for no man like Schiller, can the victory over them be too complete. His duty lay in that mode of life; and he had both discovered his duty, and addressed himself with his whole might to perform it. Nor was it in estrangement from men's interests that this seclusion originated: but rather in deeper concern for those. From many indications, we can perceive that to Schiller the task of the Poet appeared of far weightier import to mankind, in these times, than that of any other man whatever. It seemed to him that he was "casting his bread upon the waters, and would find it after many days;” that when the noise of all conquerors, and demagogues, and political reformers hal quite died away, some tone
In collision with his fellow-men, for with him as with others this also was a part of his relation to society, we find him no less noble than in friendly union with them. He mingles in none of the controversies of the time; or only like a god in the battles of men. In his conduct towards inferiors, even ill-intentioned and mean inferiors, there is everywhere a true, dignified, patrician spirit. Ever witnessing, and inwardly lamenting, the baseness of vulgar Literature in his day, he makes no clamorous note-attacks on it; alludes to it only from afar: as in Milton's writings, so in his, few of his contemporaries are named, or hinted at; it was not with men, but with things that he had a warfare. The Review of Bürger, so often descanted on, was doubtless highly afflicting to that down-broken, unhappy poet; but no hosto Bürger, only love and veneration for the Art he professed, is to be discerned in it. With Bürger, or with any other mortal, he had no quarrel: the favour of the public, which he himself enjoyed in the highest measure, he esteemed at no high value. "The Artist," said he in a noble passage, already known to English readers, "the Artist, it is true, is the son of his time; but pity for him if he is its pupil, or even its favourite! Let some beneficent divinity snatch him, when a suckling, from the breast of his mother, and nurse him with the milk of a better time; that he may ripen to his full stature beneath a distant Grecian sky. And having grown to manhood, let him return, a foreign shape, into his century; not, however, to delight it by his presence, but, dreadful like the son of Agamemnon, to purify it!" On the whole, Schiller has no trace of vanity; scarcely of pride, even in its best sense, for the modest self-consciousness, which characterizes genius, is with him rather implied than openly expressed. He has no hatred; no anger, save against Falsehood and Baseness, where it may be called a holy anger. Presumptuous triviality stood bared in his keen glance; but his look is the noble scowl that curls the lip of an Apollo, when, pierced with sun-arrows, the serpent expires before him. In a word, we can say of Schiller, what can be said only of few in any country or time: He was a high ministering servant at Truth's altar; and bore
him worthily of the office he held. Let this, and that it was even in our age, be for ever remembered to his praise.
Schiller's intellectual character has, as indeed is always the case, an accurate conformity with his moral one. Here too he is simple in his excellence; lofty rather than expansive or varied; pure, divinely ardent rather than great. A noble sensibility, the truest sympathy with Nature, in all forms, animates him; yet scarcely any creative gift altogether commensurate with this. If to his mind's eye all forms of Nature have a meaning and beauty, it is only under a few forms, chiefly of the severe or pathetic kind, that he can body forth this meaning, can represent as a Poet what as a Thinker he discerns and loves. We might say, his music is true spheral music; yet only with few tones, in simple modulation; no full choral harmony is to be heard in it. That Schiller, at least in his later years, attained a genuine poetic style, and dwelt, more or less, in the perennial regions of his Art, no one will deny yet still his poetry shows rather like a partial than a universal gift; the laboured product of certain faculties rather than the spontaneous product of his whole nature. At the summit of the pyre, there is indeed white flame; but the materials are not all in flame, perhaps not all ignited. Nay, often it seems to us, as if poetry were, on the whole, not his essential gift; as if his genius were reflective in a still higher degree than creative; philosophical and oratorical rather than poetic. To the last, there is a stiffness in him, a certain infusibility. His genius is not an Eolianharp for the common wind to play with, and make wild, free melody; but a scientific harmonica, that being artfully touched will yield rich notes, though in limited measure. It may be, indeed, or rather it is highly probable, that of the gifts which lay in him only a small portion was unfolded: for we are to recollect that nothing came to him without a strenuous effort; and that he was called away at middle age. At all events, here as we find him we should say, that of all his endowments the most perfect is understanding. Accurate, thorough insight, is a quality we miss in none of his productions, whatever else may be wanting. He has an intellectual vision, clear, wide, piercing, methodical,-a truly philosophic eye. Yet in regard to this also it is to be remarked, that the same simplicity, the same want of universality again displays itself. He looks aloft rather than around. It is in high, far-seeing philosophic views that he delights; in speculations on Art,-on the dignity and destiny of Man, rather than on the common doings and interests of Men. Nevertheless these latter, mean as they seem, are boundless in significance; for every the poorest aspect of Nature, especially of living Nature, is a type and manifestation of the invisible spirit that works in Nature. There is properly no object trivial or insignificant: but every finite thing, could we look well, is as a window, through which solemn vistas are opened into Infinitude itself. But neither as a Poet nor as a Thinker, neither in delineation nor in exposition and discussion, does Schiller more than
glance at such objects. For the most part, the Common is to him still the Common, or is idealized, rather as it were by mechanical art than by inspiration: not by deeper poetic or philosophic inspection, disclosing new beauty in its everyday features, but rather by deducting these, by casting them aside, and dwelling on what brighter features may remain in it. Herein Schiller, as, indeed, himself was modestly aware, differs essentially from most great poets; and from none more than from his great contemporary, Goethe. Such intellectual pre-eminence as this, valuable though it be, is the easiest and the least valuable; a pre-eminence that, indeed, captivates the general eye, but may, after all, have little intrinsic grandeur. Less in rising into lofty abstractions lies the difficulty, than in seeing well and lovingly the complexities of what is at hand. He is wise who can instruct us and assist us in the business of daily virtuous living; he who trains us to see old truth under Academic formularies may be wise or not as it chances; but we love to see Wisdom in unpretending forms, to recognise her royal features under week-day vesture.-There may be more true spiritual force in a Proverb than in a philosophical System. A King in the midst of his body-guards, with all his trumpets, war-horses, and gilt standard-bearers, will look great though he be little; but only some Roman Carus can give audience to satrap-ambassadors, while seated on the ground, with a woollen cap, and supping on boiled pease, like a common soldier.
In all Schiller's earlier writings, nay, more or less, in the whole of his writings, this aristocratic fastidiousness, this comparatively barren elevation, appears as a leading characteristic. In speculation he is either altogether abstract and systematic, or he dwells on old, conventionally-noble themes; never looking abroad, over the many-coloured stream of life, to elucidate and ennoble it; or only looking on it, so to speak, from a college window. The philosophy even of his Histories, for example, founds itself mainly on the perfectibility of man, the effect of constitutions, of religions, and other such high, purely scientific objects. In his Poetry we have a similar manifestation. The interest turns on prescribed, old-established matters, common love-mania, passionate greatness, enthusiasm for liberty, and the like. This, even in Don Carlos, a work of what may be called his transition-period, the turningpoint between his earlier and his later period, where still we find Posa, the favourite hero, "towering aloft, far-shining, clear and cold, as a sea-beacon." In after years, Schiller himself saw well that the greatest lay not here. With unwearied effort he strove to lower and to widen his sphere, and not without success, as many of his Poems testify; for example, the Lied der Glocke, (Song of the Bell,) every way a noble composition; and, in a still higher degree, the tragedy of Wilhelm Tell, the last, and, so far as spirit and style are concerned, the best of all his dramas.
Closely connected with this imperfection. both as cause and as consequence, is Schil ler's singular want of Humour. Humour is