صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

is not worthy of some study. The reply we old Saxon speech, which is also our mothermust now leave to themselves.

tongue. As an appendage to the charge of Mysticism We confess the present aspect of spiritual brought against the Germans, there is often Europe might fill a melancholic observer with added the seemingly incongruous one of Irre-doubt and foreboding. It is mournful to see so ligion. On this point also we had much to many noble, tender, and high-aspiring minds say; but must for the present decline it. Mean-deserted of that religious light which once while, let the reader be assured, that to the guided all such: standing sorrowful on the charge of Irreligion, as to so many others, the scene of past convulsions and controversies, as Germans will plead not guilty. On the contra- on scene blackened and burnt up with fire; ry, they will not scruple to assert that their lite- mourning in the darkness, because there is derature is, in a positive sense, religious; nay, solation, and no home for the soul; or what is perhaps to maintain, that if ever neighbouring worse, pitching tents among the ashes, and nations are to recover that pure and high spirit kindling weak earthly lamps which we are to of devotion, the loss of which, however we may take for stars. This darkness is but transitory disguise it or pretend to overlook it, can be obscuration : these ashes are the soil of future hidden from no observant mind, it must be by herbage and richer harvests. Religion, Poetry, travelling, if not on the same path, at least in is not dead; it will never die. Its dwelling the same direction, in which the Germans have and birthplace is in the soul of man, and it is already begun to travel. We shall add, that eternal as the being of man. In any point of the Religion of Germany is a subject not for Space, in any section of Time, let there be a slight but for deep study, and, if we mistake living Man: and there is an Infinitude above not, may in some degree reward the deepest. him and beneath him, and an eternity encom.

Here, however, we must close our examina- passes him on this hand and on that; and tones tion or defence. We have spoken freely, be- of Sphere-music, and tidings from loftier cause we felt distinctly, and thought the matter worlds, will flit round him, if he can but listen, worthy of being stated, and more fully inquired and visit him with holy influences, even in the into. Farther than this, we have no quarrel thickest press of trivialities, or the din of busiest for the Germans; we would have justice done life. Happy the man, happy the nation that them, as to all men and all things; but for their can hear these lidings; that has them written in literature or character we profess no sectarian fit characters, legible to every eye, and the soor exclusive preference. We think their re- lemn import of them present at all moments to cent Poetry, indeed, superior to the recent every heart! That there is, in these days, no Poetry of any other nation; but taken as a nation so happy, is too clear; but that all na whole, inferior to that of several; inferior not tions, and ourselves in the van, are, with more to our own only, but to that of Italy, nay, per- or less discernment of its nature, struggling haps to that of Spain. Their Philosophy, too, towards this happiness, is the hope and the must still be regarded as uncertain; at best glory of our time. To us, as to others, success, only the beginning of better things. But surely at a distant or a nearer day, cannot be uncereven this is not to be neglected. A little light tain. Meanwhile, the first condition of success is precious in great darkness: nor, amid the is, that, in striving honestly ourselves, we bomyriads of Poetasters and Philosophes, are Poets vestly acknowledge the striving of our neighand Philosophers so numerous that we should bour; that with a Will unwearied in seeking reject such, when they speak to us in the hard, Truth, we have a Sense open for it, wheresobut manly, deep, and expressive tones of at ever and howsoever it may arise.

LIFE AND WRITINGS OF WERNER.

[FOREIGN Review, 1823.]

Ir the charm of fame consisted, as Horace with the finger, and having it said, This is he!" has mistakenly declared, “ in being pointed at few writers of the present age could boast of

more fame than Werner. It has been the un* 1. Lebens-Abriss Friedrich Ludwig Zacharias Werners. happy fortune of this man to stand for a long Von dem Herausgeber von Hoffmanns Leban und Nach- period incessantly before the world, in a far Werner. By the Editor of “Hoffmann's Life and Re- stronger light than naturally belonged to him, mains."') Berlin, 1823.

or could exhibit him to advantage. Twenty 2. Die sökne des Thals.(The Sons of the Valley.) years ago he was a man of considerable note, (The Templars in Cyprus.) Part II. Die Kreuzesbrüder: which has ever since been degenerating into (The Brethren of the Cross.) Berlin, 1801, 1892.

notoriety. The mystic dramatist, the skepti. 3. Des Kreuz an der Ostsee. (The Cross on the Baltic.) cal enthusiast, was known and partly esteemeå A Tragedy. Berlin, 1806.

4. Marin Luther, oder Die Weihe der Kraft. (Martin by all students of poetry; Madame de Staël, Luther, or the Consecration of Strength.) A Tragedy. we recollect, allows him an entire chapter in Berlin, 1807. 5. Die Mutter der Makkabiier. (The Mother of the

her “ Allemagne.” It was a much coarser cuVaccabees' A Tragedy, Vienna, 1820.

riosity, and in a much wider circle, which the

tea.

dissipated man, by successive indecorums, oc- service. His “Life of Hoffmann," pretending casioned; till at last the convert to Popery, the to no artfulness of arrangement, is redundant, preaching zealot, came to figure in all news- rather than defective, in minuteness; but there, papers; and some picture of him was required at least, the means of a correct judgment are for all heads that would not sit blank and mute brought within our reach, and the work, as in the topic of every coffeehouse and æsthetic usual with Hitzig, bears marks of the utmost

In dim heads, that is, in the great majo- fairness; and of an accuracy which we might rity, the picture was, of course, perverted into almost call professional: for the author, it a strange bugbear, and the original decisively would seem, is a legal functionary of long enough condemned; but even the few, who standing, and now of respectable rank; and might see him in his true shape, felt too well he examines and records, with a certain notarial that nothing loud could be said in his behalf; strictness too rare in compilations of this sort. that, with so many mournful blemishes, if ex- So far as Hoffmann is concerned, therefore, tenuation could not avail, no complete defence we have reason to be satisfied. In regard to was to be attempted.

Werner, however, we cannot say so much: At the same time, it is not the history of a here we should certainly have wished for more mere literary profligate that we have here to do facts, though it had been with fewer consewith. Of men whom fine talents cannot teach quences drawn from them; were these somethe humblest prudence, whose high feeling, what chaotic expositions of Werner's characunexpressed in noble action, must lie smould- ter exchanged for simple particulars of his walk ering with baser admixtures in their own and conversation, the result would be much bosom, till their existence, assaulted from surer, and, especially to foreigners, much more without and from within, becomes a burnt and complete and luminous. As it is, from repeated blackened ruin, to be sighed over by the few, perusals of this biography, we have failed and stared at, or trampled on, by the many,- to gather any very clear notion of the man; there is unhappily no want in any country; nor with, perhaps, more study of his writings nor can the unnatural union of genius with than, on other grounds, they might have mer. depravity and degradation have such charms ited, does his manner of existence still stand for our readers, that we should go abroad in out to us with that distinct cohesion which quest of it, or in any case to dwell on it, other puts an end to doubt. Our view of him the wise than with reluctance. Werner is some reader will accept as an approximation, and be thing more than this: a gifted spirit, struggling content to wonder with us, and charitably pause earnestly amid the new, complex, tumultuous where we cannot altogether interpret. influences of his time and country, but without Werner was born at Königsberg, in East force to body himself forth from amongst them; Prussia, on the 18th of November, 1768. His a keen adventurous swimmer, aiming towards father was Professor of History and Eloquence high and distant landmarks, but too weakly in in the University there; and further, in virtue so rough a sea, for the currents drive him far of this office, Dramatic Censor, which latter astray, and he sinks at last in the waves, at- circumstance procured young Werner almost taining little for himself, and leaving little, daily opportunity of visiting the theatre, and save the memory of his failure, to others. A so gave him, as he says, a greater acquaintglance over his history may not be unprofita- ance with the mechanism of the stage than ble; if the man himself can less interest us, even most players are possessed of. A strong the ocean of German, of European Opinion, taste for the drama it probably enough gave still rolls in wild eddies to and fro; and with him; but this skill in stage mechanism may its movements and refluxes, indicated in the be questioned, for often in his own plays no history of such men, every one of us is con- such skill, but rather the want of it, is evinced. cerned.

The Professor and Censor, of whom we hear Our materials for this survey are deficient, nothing in blame or praise, died in the fournot so much in quantity as quality. The “Life," teenth year of his son, and the boy now fell to now known to be by Hitzig of Berlin, seems a the sole charge of his mother, a woman whom very honest, unpresuming performance; but, he seems to have loved warmly, but whose on the other hand, it is much too fragmentary guardianship could scarcely be the best for and discursive for our wants; the features of him. Werner himself speaks of her in earnest the man are nowhere united into a portrait, commendation, as of a pure, high-minded, and but left for the reader to unite as he may; a heavily-afflicted being.' Hoffmann, however, task which, to most readers, will be hard adds, that she was hypochondriacal, and genenough: for the work, short in compass, is erally quite delirious, imagining herself to be more than proportionally short in details of the Virgin Mary, and her son to be the promised facts; and Werner's history, much as an in- Shiloh! Hoffmann had opportunity enough timate friend must have known of it, still lies of knowing; for it is a curious fact that these before us, in great part, dark and unintelligible. two singular persons were brought up under for what he has done we should doubtless the same roof, though, at this time, by reason thank our Author; yet it seems a pity, that, in of their difference of age, Werner being eight this instance, he had not done more and better. years older, they had little or no acquaintance. A singular chance made him, at the same time, What a nervous and melancholic parent was, cor.panion of both Hoffmann and Werner, Hoffmann, by another unhappy coincidence perhaps the two most showy, heterogeneous, had also full occasion to know: his own mother and misinterpretable writers of his day; nor parted from her husband, lay helpless and shall we deny, that, in performing a friend's broken-hearted for the last seventeen years of duty ti their memory, he has done truth also a her life, and the first seventeen of his: a source of painfu, influences, which he used to trace brief provincial life, into merited oblivion ; in through the whole of his own character; as to fact, he had then only been a rhymer, and was the like cause he imputed the primary perver- now, for the first time, beginning to be a poet. sion of Werner's. How far his views on this We have one of those youthful pieces tranpoint were accurate or exaggerated, we have scribed in this volume, and certainly it exhibits no means of judging.

a curious contrast with his subsequent writ. Of Werner's early years the biographer says ings, both in form and spirit. In form, because, little or nothing. We learn only that, about unlike the first fruits of a genius, it is cold and the usual age, he matriculated in the Königs correct: while his later works, without excepberg University, intending to qualify himself tion, are fervid, extravagant, and full of gross for the business of a lawyer; and with his pro- blemishes. In spirit no less, because, treating essional studies united, or attempted to unite, of his favourite theme, Religion, it treats of it he study of philosophy under Kant. His harshly and skeptically; being, indeed, little college-life is characterized by a single, but too more than a metrical version of common Utilespressive word: “ It is said," observes Hitzig, itarian Freethinking, as it may be found "to have been very dissolute.” His progress (without metre) in most taverns and debatingin metaphysics, as in all branches of learning, societies. Werner's intermediate secret history might thus be expected to be small; indeed, might form a strange chapter in psychology: at no period of his life can he, even in the for now, it is clear, his French skepticism had Language of panegyric, be called a man of cul- got overlaid with wondrous theosophic garniturc or solid information on any subject. Never- ture; his mind was full of visions and cloudy theless, he contrived, in his twenty-first year, glories, and no occupation pleased him better to publish a little volume of“ Poems," apparent than to controvert, in generous inquiring minds, ly in very tolerable magazine metre, and after that very unbelief which he appears to have some" roamings” over Germany, having loiter- once entertained in his own. From Hitzig's ed for a while at Berlin, and longer at Dresden, account of the matter, this seems to have he betrok himself to more serious business, formed the strongest link of his intercourse applied for admittance and promotion as a with Werner. The latter was his senior by ten Prussian man of law; the employment which years of time, and by more than ten years of young jurists look for in that country being unhappy experience; the grand questions of chiefly in the hands of government: consist- Immortality, of Fate, Free-will, Fore-knowledge ing, indeed, of appointments in the various absolute, were in continual agitation between judicial or administrative Boards by which the them; and Hitzig still remembers with gratiProvinces are managed. In 1793, Werner ac- tude these earnest warnings against irregularcordingly was made Kammersecretür (Exchequer ity of life, and so many ardent and not ineffecSecretary ;) a subaltern office, which he held tual endeavours to awaken in the passionate successively in several stations, and last and temperament of youth a glow of purer and enlongest in Warsaw, where Hitzig, a young man lightening fire. following the same profession, first became ac- “Some leagues from Warsaw,” says the quainted with him in 1799.

Biographer, "enchantingly embosomed in a What the purport or result of Werner's thick wood, close by the high banks of the "roamings" may have been, or how he had de- Vistula, lies the Cameldulensian Abbey of meaned himself in office or out of it, we are Bielany, inhabited by a class of monks, who in nowhere informed; but it is an ominous cir- strictness of discipline yield only to those of cumstance that, even at this period, in his La Trappe. To this cloistral solitude Werner thirtieth year, he had divorced two wives, the was wont to repair with his friend, every fine last at least by mutual consent, and was look- Saturday of the summer of 1800, so soon as ing out for a third! Hitzig, with whom he their occupations in the city were over. In seems to have formed a prompt and close in- defect of any formal inn, the two used to uimacy, gives us no full picture of him under bivouac in the forest, or at best to sleep under any of his aspects : yet we can see, that his a temporary tent. The Sunday was then spent lisé, as naturally it might, already wore some in the open air; in roving about the woods ; what of a shattered appearance in his own sailing on the river, and the like ; till late night eyes, that he was broken in character, in spirit, recalled them to the city. On such occasions, perhaps in bodily constitution; and, content- the younger of the party had ample room to ing himself with the transient gratifications of unfold his whole heart before his more mature so gay a city, and so tolerable an appointment, and settled companion; to advance his doubts had renounced all steady and rational hope and objections against many theories, which either of being happy or of deserving to be so. Werner was already cherishing: and so, ing Of unsteady and irrational hopes, however, he exciting him with contradiction, to cause him had still abundance. The fine enthusiasm of to make them clearer to himself.” his nature, undestroyed by so many external Week after week, 'these discussions wero perplexities, nay, to which, perhaps, these very carefully resumed from the point where they perplexities had given fresh and undue excite- had been left: indeed, to Werner, it would ment, glowed forth in strange many-coloured scem, this controversy had unusual attractions; brightness, from amid the wreck of his fortunes, for he was now busy composing a Poem, inand led him into wild worlds of speculation, tended principally to convince the world of the more vehemently, that the real world of those very truths which he was striving to im. action and duty had become so unmanageable press on his friend; and to which the world, as in his hands.

might be expected, was likely to give a similar Werner's early publication had sunk, after a reception. The character, or at least the way

[ocr errors]

of thought, attributed to Robert d'Heredon, the spiration is not wanting: Werner evidently Scottish Templar, in the Sons of the Valley, was thinks that in these his ultramundane excur. borrowed, it appears, as if by regular instal- sions he has found truth; he has something ments, from these conferences with Hitzig; the positive to set forth, and he feels himself as if result of the one Sunday being duly entered in bound on a high and holy mission in preacbdramatic form during the week; then audited ing it to his fellow-men. on the Sunday following; and so forming the To explain with any minuteness the articles text for further disquisition. “Blissful days,” of Werner's creed, as it was now fashioned, adds Hitzig,“ pure and innocent, which doubt- and is here exhibited, would be a task perhaps less Werner also ever held in pleased remem- too hard for us, and, at all events, un profitable brance !"

in proportion to its difficulty. We have found The Söhne des Thals, composed in this rather some separable passages, in which, under dark questionable fashion, was in due time forth- symbolical figures, he has himself shadowed coming; the First Part in 1801, the Second forth a vague likeness of it: these we shall about a year afterwards. It is a drama, or now submit to the reader, with such exposi. rather two dramas, unrivalled at least in one tions as we gather from the context, or as Gerparticular, in length; each Part being a play man readers, from the usual tone of speculaof six acts, and the whole amounting to some- tion in that country, are naturally enabled to what more than eight hundred small octavo supply. This may, at the same time, convey pages! To attempt any analysis of such a as fair a notion of the work itself, with its work would but fatigue our readers to little tawdry splendours, and tumid grandiloquence, purpose: it is, as might be anticipated, of a and mere playhouse thunder and lightning, as most loose and formless structure: expanding by any other plan our limits would admit. on all sides into vague boundlessness, and, on Let the reader fancy himself in the island the whole, resembling not so much a poem as of Cyprus, where the Order of the Templars the rude materials of one. The subject is the still subsists, though the heads of it are already destruction of the Templar Order; an event summoned before the French King and Pope which has been dramatized more than once, Clement; which summons they are now, not but on which, notwithstanding, Werner, we without dreary enough forebodings, preparing suppose, may boast of being entirely original. to obey. The purport of this First Part, so far The fate of Jacques Molay, and his brethren, as it has any dramatic purport, is to paint the acts here but like a little leaven; and lucky situation, outward and inward, of that once were we, could it leaven the lump; but it lies pious and heroic, and still magnificent and buried under such a mass of Mystical theology, powerful body. It is entitled The Templars in Masonic mummery, Cabalistic tradition, and Cyprus ; but why it should also be called The Rosicrucian philosophy, as no power could Sons of the Valley does not so well appear; for work into dramatic union. The incidents are the Brotherhood of the Valley has yet scarcely few, and of little interest; interrupted contin- come into activity, and only hovers before us ually by flaring shows and long-winded specu- in glimpses, of so enigmatic a sort, that we lations; for Werner's besetting sin, that of know not fully so much as whether these its loquacity, is here in decided action; and so we Sons are of flesh and blood like ourselves, or of wander, in aimless windings, through scene some spiritual nature, or of something interafter scene of gorgeousness or gloom; till at mediate, and altogether nondescript. For the last the whole rises before us like a wild phan- rest, it is a series of spectacles and dissertatasmagoria; cloud heaped on cloud, painted tions; the action cannot so much be said to indeed here and there with prismatic hues, but advance as to revolve. On this occasion the representing nothing, or at least not the subject, Templars are admitting iwo new members; but the author.

the acolytes have already passed their prelimIn this last point of view, however, as a pic-inary trials; this is the chief and final one :ture of himself, independently of other consid

ACT FIFTH-SCENE FIRST. erations, this play of Werner's may still have a certain value for us. The strange chaotic Midnight. Interior of the Temple Church. Backwarda, a deep perspec nature of the man is displayed in it: his skep

a little Chapel ; and in this an Altar with the figure of St. Sebastian. The ticism and theosophy; his audacity, yet in. scene is lighted very dimly by a single Lan,p which hangs before the Altur. trinsic weakness of character; his baffled longings, but still ardent endeavours after Truth and Good; his search for them in far ADALBERT (dressed in white, without mantle or doublet ;

groping his way in the dark.) journeyings, not on the beaten highways, but through the pathless infinitude of Thought. Was it not at the Altar of Sebastian To call it a work of art would be a misappli- Here should it be ; but darkness with her veil cation of names: it is little more than a rhap- Inwraps the figures. sodic effusion; the outpouring of a passionate

(Advancing to the Altar.) and mystic soul, only half knowing what it

Here is the fifth pillar! utters, and not ruling its own movements, but Yes, this is he, thc Sainted.- How the glimmer ruled by them. It is fair to add that such also, or that faint lamp falls on his fading eye!in a great measure, was Werner's own view Ah, it is not the spears o'th' Saracens, of the natter: most likely the utterance of It is the pangs of hopeless love that burning these things gave him such relief, that, crude May not thy spirit, in this earnest hour,

Transfix thy heart, poor Comrade!--O my Agnes, as they were, he could not suppress them. For Be looking on? Árt hovering in that moon-beam : ought to be remembered, that in this per- Which struggles through the painted window, and dies formance one condition, at least, of genuine io- Amid the cloister's gloom 1 or linger'st thou

tive of Altan and Gothic Pillars. On the right-hand side of the foregrounds

.

That I was bid to wait for the unknown ?

ARMED MAX

Bebind these pillars, which, ominous and black,
Look down on me, like horrors of the Past
Upon the Present; and hidest thy gentle form,
Lest with thy paleness thou too much affright me ?
Hide not thyself, pale shadow of my Agnes,
Thou affrightest not thy lover.-Hugh -
Hark! Was there not a rustling ---Father! You ?

PHILIP (rushing in with wild looks.)
Yes, Adalbert-But time is precious !--Come,
My son, my one sole Adalbert, come with me!

ADALBERT.
What would you, father, in this solemn hour 1

Pray!

(ADALBERT kneels.) Bare thyself!

(He strips him to the girdle and raises him.)

Look on the ground, and follow! (He leads him into the back-ground to a trap door, on the right. He descends first himself; and when ADALBERT AAN followed him, it closes.)

SCENE SECOND.

PHILIP. This hour, or never !

(Leading ADALBERT to the Altar.) Hither!-Know'st thou kim?

ADALBERT. "Tis Saint Sebastian.

PHILIP.

Becanse he would not
Renounce his faith, a tyrant had him murder'd.

(Points to his head.)
These furrows, too, the rage of tyrants ploughed
In thy old father's face. My son, my first-born child,
In this great bour 1 do conjure thee! Wilt thou,
Wilt thoʻi obey me 1

Cemetery of the Templar, under the Church. The scene is lighted only by a Lamp which bangs down from the vault. Around are Tombolona de deceased Knights, marked with Crosses and sculptured Bones. In the bacile ground, two colossal Skeletons holding between them a large wbite Bool, marked with a red Cross; from the under end of the Book hango a long black curtain. The Book, of which only the cover is visible, bas an inscrip tion in black ciphors. The Skeleton on the right holds in its right hand naked drawn sword; that on the left holde in ito left hand a Palm tund downwards. On the right side of the foreground, stands a black Coffin opes; on the left, a similar one with the body of a Templar in full dren of his Order ; on both Collins are inscriptions in white ciphers. On each side bearer the back-ground, are seen the lowest steps of the stain, which loud up into the Temple Church above the vault.

ARMED MAN (not yet visible ; above on the right-hand

stairs.)
Dreaded! Is the grave laid open ?

CONCEALED VOICES.

ADALBERT.

Yea!
Be it just, I will:

ARMED MAN (who after a pause shows himself on the

stairs.)
PAILIP.

Shall he behold the Tombs o' th' fathers 1
Then swear, in this great hour, in this dread presence,
Here by thy father's head made early gray,

CONCEALED VOICES.
By the remembrance of thy mother's agony,
And by the ravished blossom of thy Agnes,

Yea!
Against the Tyranny which sacrificed us,

(ARMED MAN with drawn sword leads ADALBERT carefully Inexpiable, bloody, everlasting hate !

down the steps on the right hand.)
ADALBERT.

ARMED MAN (t0 ADALBERT.)
Ha! This the All-avenger spoke through thee !
Yes! Bloody shall my Agnes' death-torch burn

Look down! 'Tis on thy life!
In Philip's heart; I swear it!

(Leads him to the open Coffin.)

What seest thou 1
PHILIP (with increasing vehemence.)

ADALBERT.
And if thou break
This oath, and if thou reconcile thee to him,

An open empty Coffin.
Or let his golden chains, his gists, his prayers,
His dying-moan itself, avert thy dagger

ARMED MAN.
When th' bour of vengeance comes,-shall this gray head,

'Tis the house Thy mother's wail, the last sigh of thy Agnes,

Where thou one day shalt dwell. Canst read th' fnacrty Accuse thee at the bar of the Eternal ?

tion 1 ADALBERT.

ADALBERT.
Bo be it, if I break my oath!

No.
PIILIP.

ARMED MAN.
Then man thee!

Hear it, then; “Thy wages, Sin, is Death." (Looking up, then shrinking together as with dazzled eyes.)

(Leads him to the opposite Cofin where the Body is lyry.s Ha! was not that his lightning ?-Fure thee well! Look down! 'T is on thy life!-What seest thou 1 I hear the footstep of the Dreaded :-Firm!

(Shows the Cofin.)
Remember me, remember this stern midnight !
(Retires hastily.)

ADALBERT.
ADALBERT (alone.)

A Coffin with a Corpse.
Yes, Grayhead, whom the beckoning of the Lord

ARMED NAX.
Bent hither to awake me out of craven sleep,

He is thy Brother,
I will remember thee and this stern midnight,
And my Agnes' spirit shall have vengeance !

One day thou art as he.-Canst read the inscription 7 Enter an ARMED MAN. (He is mailed from head to foot in

ADALBART black harness; his visor is closed.)

Na

« السابقةمتابعة »