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and thereby, it is true, unintentionally or not, forward the same towards clearness.
In fact, with the hastiest glance over the then position of the world spiritual, we shall find that as Disorder is never wanting, (and for the young spiritual hero, who is there only to destroy Disorder and make it order, can least of all be wanting,) so, at the present juncture, it specially abounded. Why dwell on this often delineated Epoch? Over all Europe the reign of Earnestness had now wholly dwindled into that of Dilettantism. The voice of a certain modern "closet logic," which called itself, and could not but call itself, Philosophy, had gone forth, saying, Let there be darkness, and there was darkness. No divinity any longer dwelt in the world; and as men cannot do without a divinity, a sort of terrestrial upholstery one had been got together, and named TASTE, with medallic virtuosi and picture cognoscenti, and enlightened letter and belles-lettres men enough for priests. To which worship, with its stunted formularies and hungry results, must the earnest mind, like the hollow and shallow one, adjust itself, as best might be. To a new man, no doubt the Earth is always new, never wholly without interest. Knowledge, were it only that of dead languages, or of dead actions, the foreign tradition of what others had acquired and done, was still to be searched after; fame might be enjoyed if procurable; above all, the culinary and brewing arts remained in pristine completeness, their results could be relished with pristine vigour. Life lumbered along, better or worse, in pitiful discontent, not yet in decisive desperation, as through a dim day of languor, sultry and sunless. Already too on the horizon might be seen clouds, might be heard murmurs, which by and by proved themselves of an electric character, and were to cool and clear that same sultriness in wondrous deluges.
an illuminated Thomasius, earlier than the general herd, deny witchcraft, we are to esteem it a felicity. This too, however, has passed; and now, in manifold enigmatical signs a new Time announces itself. Well-born Hagedorns, munificent Gleims have again rendered the character of Author honourable; the polish of correct, assiduous Rabeners and Ramlers have smoothed away the old impurities; a pions Klopstock, to the general enthusiasm, rises anew into something of seraphic music, though by methods wherein he can have no follower; the brave spirit of a Lessing pierces, in many a life-giving ray, through the dark inertness: Germany has risen to a level with Europe, is henceforth participant of all European influences; nay it is now appointed, though not yet ascertained, that Germany is to be the leader of spiritual Europe. A deep movement agitates the universal mind of Germany, though as yet no one sees towards what issue; only that heavings and eddyings, confused, conflicting tendencies, work unquietly everywhere; the movement is begun and will not stop, but the course of it is yet far from ascertained. Even to the young man now looking on with such anxious intensity had this very task been allotted: To find it a course and set it flowing thereon.
To a man standing in the midst of German literature, and looking out thither for his highest good, the view was troubled perhaps with various peculiar perplexities. For two centuries, German literature had lain in the sere leaf. The Luther," whose words were half battles," and such half battles as could shake and overset half Europe with their cannonading, had long since gone to sleep; and all other words were out the miserable bickering of (theological) camp-suttlers in quarrel over the stripping of the slain. Ulrich Hutten slept silent, in the little island of the Zurich Lake; the weary and heavy-laden had wiped the sweat from his brow, and laid him down to rest there: the valiant fire-tempered heart, with all its woes and loves and loving indignations, mouldered, cold, forgotten; with such a pulse no new heart rose to beat. The tamer Opitzes and Flemmings of a succeeding era had, in like manner, long fallen obsolete. One unhappy generation after another of pedants, "rhizophagous," living on roots, Greek or Hebrew; of farce-writers, gallant verse-writers, journalists, and other jugglars of nondescript sort wandered in nomadic wise, whither provender was to be had; among whom, if a passionate Gunther go with some emphasis to ruin; if
Whoever will represent this confused revolutionary condition of all things, has but to fancy how it would act on the most susceptive and comprehensive of living minds; what a Chaos he had taken in, and was dimly struggling to body forth into a Creation. Add to which his so confused, contradictory, personal condition; appointed by a positive father to be practitioner of Law, by a still more positive mother (old Nature herself) to be practitioner of Wisdom, and Captain of spiritual Europe; we have confusion enough for him, doubts economic and doubts theologic, doubts moral and aesthetical, a whole world of confusion and doubt.
derful Book, and its now recognised character as poetic (and prophetic) utterance of the World's Despair, it is needless to repeat what has elsewhere been written. This and Götz von Berlichingen, which also, as a poetic looking back into the past, was a word for the world, have produced incalculable effects ;-which now, indeed, however some departing echo of them may linger in the wrecks of our own Moss-trooper and Satanic Schools, do at length all happily lie behind us. Some trifling incidents at Wetzlar, and the suicide of an unhappy acquaintance were the means of "crystallizing" that wondrous, perilous stuff, which the young heart oppressively held dissolved in it, into this world-famous, and as it proved worldmedicative Werter. He had gone to Wetzlar with an eye still to Law; which now, however, was abandoned, never to be resumed. Thus did he too, "like Saul the son of Kish, go out to seek his father's asses, and instead thereof find a kingdom."
and observation, he was appointed Minister; a post which he only a few years ago resigned, on his final retirement from public affairs."
Notable enough that little Weimar should, in this particular, have brought back, as it were, an old Italian Commonwealth into the nineteenth century! For the Perareas and Bocaccios, though reverenced as Poets, were not supposed to have lost their wits as men; but could be employed in the highest services of the state, not only as fit, but as the fittest, to discharge these. Very different with us, where Diplomatists and Governors can be picked up from the highways, or chosen in the manner of blindman's buff, (the first figure you clutch, say rather that clutches you, will make a governor ;) and, even in extraordinary times, it is thought much if a Milton can become Latin Clerk under some Bulstrode Whitelock, and be called "one Mr. Milton." As if the poet, with his poetry, were no other than a pleasant mountebank, with faculty of a certain ground-and-lofty tumbling which would amuse; With the completion of these two Works (a for which you must throw him a few coins, a completion in every sense, for they were not little flattery, otherwise he would not amuse only emitted, but speedily also demitted, and you with it. As if there were any talent whatseen over, and left behind,) commences whatsoever; above all, as if there were any talent we can specially call his Life, his activity as of Poetry, (by the consent of all ages the Man. The outward particulars of it, from this highest talent, and sometimes pricelessly high,) point where his own Narrative ends, have the first foundation of which were not even been briefly summed up in these terms: these two things, (properly but one thing :) intellectual Perspicacity, with force and honesty of Will. Which two, do they not, in their simplest, quite naked form, constitute the very equipment a Man of Business needs; the very implements whereby all business, from that of the delver and ditcher to that of the legislator and imperator, is accomplished; as in their noblest concentration they are still the moving faculty of the Artist and Prophet!
To Goethe himself, this connection with Weimar opened the happiest course of life, which probably the age he lived in could have yielded him. Moderation yet abundance; elegance without luxury or sumptuosity: Art enough to give a heavenly firmament to his existence; Business enough to give it a solid earth. In his multifarious duties, he comes in contact with all manner of men; gains experience and tolerance of all men's ways. A faculty like his, which could master the highest spiritual problems, and conquer Evil Spirits in their own domain, was not likely to be foiled by such when they put on the simpler shape of material clay. The greatest of Poets is also the skilfullest of Managers: the little terrestrial Weimar trust committed to him prospers; and one sees with a sort of smile, in which may lie a deep seriousness, how the Jena Museums, University arrangements, Weimar Art-exhibitions and Palace-buildings, are guided smoothly on, by a hand which could have worthily swayed imperial sceptres. The world, could it intrust its imperial sceptres to such hands, were blessed: nay to this man, without the world's consent, given or asked, a still higher function had been committed. But on the whole, we name his external life happy, among the happiest, in this, that a noble princely Courtesy could dwell in it based on the worship, by speech and practice, of Truth only,
"In 1776, the Heir-apparent of Weimar was passing through Frankfort, on which occasion, by the intervention of some friends, he waited upon Goethe. The visit must have been mutually agreeable; for a short time afterwards the young author was invited to court; apparently to contribute his assistance in various literary institutions and arrangements then proceeding or contemplated; and in pursuance of this honourable call, he accordingly settled at Weimar, with the title of Legutionsrath, and the actual dignity of a place in the in the Collegium, (Council.) The connection begun under such favourable auspices, and ever afterwards continued under the like or better, has been productive of important consequences, not only to Weimar but to all Germany. The noble purpose undertaken by the Duchess Amelia was zealously forwarded by the young Duke on his accession; under whose influence, supported and directed by his new Councillor, this inconsiderable state has gained for itself a fairer distinction than any of its larger, richer, or more warlike neighbours. By degrees whatever was brightest in the genius of Germany had been gathered to this little court; a classical theatre was under the superintendence of Goethe and Schiller; here Wieland taught and sung; in the pulpit was Herder; and possessing such a four, the small town of Weimar, some five-and-twenty years ago, might challenge the proudest capital of the world to match it in intellectual wealth. Occupied so profitably to his country, and honourably to himself, Goethe continued rising in favour with his Prince; by degrees a political was added to his literary trust; in 1779 he became Privy Councillor; President in 1782; and at length after his return from Italy, where he had spent two years in varied studies
(for his victory, as we said above, was so complete, as almost to hide that there had been a struggle,) and the worldly could praise him as the most agreeable of men, and the spiritual as the highest and clearest; but happy, above all, in this, that it forwarded him, as no other could have done, in his inward life, the good or evil hap of which was alone of permanent importance.
an old world is in ashes; but the smoke and the flame are blown away, and a sun again shines clear over the ruin, to raise therefrom a new nobler verdure and flowerage. Till at length, in the third, or final period, melodious Reverence becomes triumphant; a deep allpervading Faith, with mild voice, grave as gay, speaks forth to us in a Meisters Wanderjahre, in a West-Os licher Divan; in many a little Zahme Xenie, and true-hearted little rhyme," which," it has been said, "for preg nancy and genial significance, except in the Hebrew Scriptures, you will nowhere match." As here, striking in almost at a venture:
The inward life of Goethe, onwards from this epoch, lies nobly recorded in the long series of his Writings. Of these, meanwhile, the great bulk of our English world has nowise yet got to such understanding and mastery, that we could, with much hope of profit, go into a critical examination of their merits and characteristics. Such a task can stand over till the day for it arrive; be it in this generaWhat has tion, or the next, or after the next. been elsewhere already set forth suffices the present want, or needs only to be repeated and things enforced; the expositor of German must say, with judicious Zanga in the play: "First recover that, then shalt thou know more." A glance over the grand outlines of the matter, and more especially under the aspect suitable to these days, can alone be in place here.
In Goethe's Works, Chronologically arranged, we see this above all things: A mind working itself into clearer and clearer freedom; gaining a more and more perfect dominion of its world. The pestilential fever of Skepticism runs through its stages: but happily it ends and disappears at the last stage, not in death, not in chronic malady (the commonest) way, but in clearer, henceforth invulnerable health. Werter we called the voice of the world's despair: passionate, uncontrollable is this voice; not yet melodious and supreme,-as nevertheless we at length hear it in the wild apocalyptic Faust: like a death-song of departing worlds; no voice of joyful "morning stars singing together" over a Creation; but of red extinguished midnight stars, in spheral swanmelody, proclaiming: It is ended!
What follows, in the next period, we might, for want of a fitter term, call Pagan or Ethnic in character; meaning thereby an anthropomorphic character, akin to that of old Greece and Rome. Wilhelm Meister is of that stamp warm, hearty, sunny human Endeavour; a free recognition of Life in its depth, variety, and majesty; as yet no Divinity recognised there. The famed Venetian Epigrams are of the like Old-Ethnic tone: musical, joyfully strong; true, yet not the whole truth, and sometimes in their blunt realism, jarring on the sense. As in this, oftener cited, perhaps, by a certain class of wise men, than the due proportion demanded:
So stands it in the original: hereby, however, hangs a tale:
"A fact," says one of our fellow labourers in this German vineyard, "has but now come to our knowledge, which we take pleasure and pride in stating. Fifteen Englishmen, entertaining that high consideration for the Good Goethe, which the labours and high deserts of a long life usefully employed so richly merit from all mankind, have presented him with a highly wrought Seal, as a token of their veneration. We must pass over the description of the gift, for it would be too elaborate;" suffice it to say, that amid tasteful carving and emblematic embossing enough, stood these words engraven on a gold belt, on the four sides respectively: To the German Master: From Friends in England: 28th August: 1831; finally, that the impression was a star encircled with a serpent-of-eternity, and this motto: Ohne Hast Aber Ohne Rast. "The following is the letter which accompanied it : "To the Poet Goethe, on the 28th of August, 1831. "Sir,-Among the friends whom this so interesting Anniversary calls round you, may we English friends,' in thought and symbolically, since personally it is impossible, present ourselves to offer you our affectionate congratulations. We hope you will do us the honour to accept this little Birth-Day Gift, which, as a true nigh-testimony of our feelings, may not be without value.
"We said to ourselves: As it is always the highest duty and pleasure to show reverence to whom reverence is due, and our chief, perhaps our only benefactor is he who by act and word instructs us in wisdom,-so we, undersigned, feeling towards the Poet Goethe as the spritually taught towards their spiritual teacher, are desirous to express that sentiment openly and in common; for which end we have determined to solicit his acceptance of a small English gift, proceeding from us all equally, on his approaching birth-day; that so, while the venerable man still dwells among us, some
memorial of the gratitude we owe him, and think the whole world owes him, may not be wanting.
"And thus our little tribute, perhaps among the purest that men could offer to man, now stands in visible shape, and begs to be received. May it be welcome, and speak permanently of a most close relation, though wide seas flow between the parties!
"We pray that many years may be added to a life so glorious, that all happiness may be yours, and strength given to complete your high task, even as it has hitherto proceeded, like a star, without haste, yet without rest.
"We remain, Sir, your friends and Servants, FIFTEEN ENGLISHMEN.' "The wonderful old man, to whom distant and un. known friends had paid such homage, could not but bo moved at sentiments expressed in such terms. hear that he values the token highly, and has condescended to return the following lines for answer;
"DEN FUNFZEHN ENGLISCHEN FREUNDEN.
"Why so bustleth the People and crieth? Would find itself victual,
Children too would beget, feed on the best may be had:"
"Like as a Star,
That maketh not haste,
Doubt reduced into Denial, now lies prostrate under foot: the fire has done its work,
* Wie das Gestirn,
Worte die der Dichter spricht,
Or this small Couplet, which the reader, if I come in: for the ashes of the old fire will not he will, may substitute for whole horse-loads of Essays on the Origin of Evil a spiritual manufacture, which in these enlightened times ought ere now to have gone out of fashion:
warm men anew; the new generation is too desolate to indulge in mockery,-unless, perhaps, in bitter suicidal mockery of itself! Thus after Voltaires enough have laughed and sniffed at what is false. appear some Turgots to ask what is true. Wo to the land where, in these seasons, no prophet arises; but only censors, satirists, and embittered desperadoes to make the evil worse; at best but to accelerate a consummation, which, in accelerating, they have aggravated! Old Europe had its Tacitus and Juvenal; but these availed not. New Europe too has had its Mirabeaus, and Byrons, and Napoleons, and innumerable red-flaming meteors, shaking pestilence from their hair; and earthquakes and deluges, and Chaos come again; but the clear Star, day's harbinger. (Phosphorus, the bringer of light,) had not yet been recognised.
That in Goethe there lay Force to educe reconcilement out of such contradiction as man is now born into, marks him as the Strong One of his time; the true Earl, though now with quite other weapons than those old steel Jarls were used to! Such reconcilement of contradictions, indeed, is the task of every man: the weakest reconciles somewhat; reduces old chaotic elements into new higher order; ever, according to faculty and endeavour, brings good out of evil. Consider now what faculty and endeavour must belong to the highest of such tasks, which virtually includes all others whatsoever! The t ing that was given this man to reconcile (to begin reconciling, and teach us how to reconcile) was the inward spiritual chaos; the centre of all other confusions, outward and inward: he was to close the Abyss out of which such man fold destruc tion. moral, intellectual, social, was proceeding.
"What shall I teach thee, the foremost thing?' Couldst teach me off my own Shadow to spring!" Or the pathetic picturesqueness of this:
"A rampart-breach is every Day,
Of the slain no heap is forming."
Fine Bresche ist jeder Tag.
Die Todten sich niemals thürmen.
In such spirit, and with an eye that takes in all provinces of human Thought, Feeling, and Activity, does the Poet stand forth as the true prophet of his time: victorious over its contradiction, possessor of its wealth; embodying the nobleness of the past into a new whole, into a new vital nobleness for the present and the future. Antique nobleness in all kinds, yet worn with new clearness; the spirit of it is preserved and again revealed in shape, when the former shape and vesture had become old, (as vestures do.) and was dead and cast forth; and we mourned as if the spirit too were gone. This, we are aware, is a high saying; applicable to no other man living, or that has lived for some two centuries; ranks Goethe, not only as the highest man of his time, but as a man of universal Time, important for all generationsone of the landmarks in the History of Men.
Thus from our point of view does Goethe rise on us as the Uniter, and victorious Reconciler, of the distracted clashing elements of the most distracted and divided age, that the world has witnessed since the Introduction of the Christian Religion; to which old chaotic The greatness of his Endowment, manifestEra, of world-confusion and world-refusion, ed in such a work, has long been plain to all of blackest darkness, succeeded by a dawn of men. That it belongs to the highest class of light and nobler "dayspring from on high," human endowments, entitling the wearer therethis wondrous Era of ours is, indeed, often of, who so nobly used it to the appellation in likened. To the faithful heart let no era be a its strictest sense, of Great Man,-is also bedesperate one! It is ever the nature of Dark-coming plain. A giant strength of Character ness to be followed by a new nobler Light; nay, is to be traced here; mild and kindly and calm, to produce such. The woes and contradictions even as strength ever is. In the midst of so of an Atheistic time; of a world sunk in wick- much spasmodic Byronism, bellowing till its edness and baseness and unbelief, wherein also windpipe is cracked, how very different looks physical wretchedness, the disorganization and this symptom of strength: "He appeared to aim broken-heartedness of whole classes struggling at pushing away from him every thing that did in ignorance and pain will not fail: all this, the hang upon his individual will.” “In his own view of all this, falls like a Sphinx-question on imperturbable firmness of character, he had every new-born earnest heart, a life-and-death grown into the habit of never con r dating any entang ement for every earnest heart to delivere. On the contrary, he listened with a friendly itself from. and the world from. Of Wisdom air to every one's opinion, and would himself Cometh Strength: only when there is "no elucidate and strengthen it by instances and vision" d the people perish. But, by natural reasons of his own. All who did not know vicissitudes, the age of Pers floge goes out, and him fancied that he thought as they did; for that of earnest unconquerable Endeavour must he was possessed of a preponderating intellect, and could transport himself into the mental state of any man and imitate his manner of conceiving."* Beloved brethren, who wish to be strong! Had not the man, who could take this smooth method of it, more strength in him than any teeth-grinding, glass-eved “lone Ca loyer" you have yet fallen in with? Consider
* Wilhelm Meister, book vi.
Britten! habt sie aufgefasst:
"Tätigen Sinn, das Thun gezügelt; Stetig Streben ohne Hast;"
Und so wollt Ihrs denn besiegelt! Weimar, d. 28ten August, 1531.' "(Fraser's Magazine, XXII. 447.) And thus, as it chanced, was the poet's last birth-day celebrated by an outward ceremony of a peculiar kind: rein too it is to be hoped, might lie some inward aning and sincerity.
ling of plucked geese at St. James's, and, sitting in sunny Italy, in his coach-and-four, at a distance of two thousand miles from them, writes, over many reams of paper, the following sentence, with variations: Saw ever the world one greater or unhappier? this was a sham strong man. Choose ye.
your ways; consider first, Whether you cannot | figures of the popular oratc y kind, Goethe, do with being weak! If the answer still prove throughout his Writings at least, is nowise the negative, consider, secondly, what strength ac- most copious man known to us, though on a tually is, and where you are to try for it. A stricter scrutiny we may find him the richest. certain strong man, of former time, fought Of your ready-made, coloured-paper metastoutly at Lepanto; worked stoutly as Algerine phors, such as can be sewed or plastered on slave; stoutly delivered himself from such the surface, by way of giving an ornamental working, with stout cheerfulness endured finish to the rag-web already woven, we speak famine and nakedness and the world's ingra- not; there is not one such to be discovered in titude; and sitting in jail, with the one arm all his Works. But even in the use of genuine left him, wrote our joyfullest, and all but our metaphors, that are not haberdashery ornadeepest, modern book, and named it Don Quix- ment, but the genuine new ve ture of new ote: this was a genuine strong man. A strong thoughts, he yields to lower men, (for example, man, of recent time, fights little for any good to Jean Paul;) that is to say, in fact, he is cause anywhere; works weakly as an English more master of the common language, and can lord; weakly delivers himself from such work- oftener make it serve him. Goethe's figuraing; with weak despondency endures the cack-tiveness lies in the very centre of his being; manifests itself as the constructing of the inward elements of a thought, as the vital imbodyment of it: such figures as those of Goethe you will look for through all modern literature, and except here and there in Shakspeare, nowhere find a trace of. Again, it is the same faculty in higher exercise, that enables Of Goethe's spiritual Endowment, looked at the poet to construct a Character. Here too on the Intellectual side, we have, (as indeed Shakspeare and Goethe, unlike innumerable lies in the nature of things, for moral and in- others, are vi al; their construction begins at tellectual are fundamentally one and the same,) the hear and flows outward as the life-streams to pronounce a similar opinion; that it is great do: fashioning the surface, as it were, spontaamong the very greatest. As the first gift of neously. Those Macbeths and Falstaffs, acall, may be discerned here, utmost Clearness, cordingly, these Fausts and Philinas, have a all-piercing faculty of Vision; whereto, as we verisimilitude and life that separates them ever find it, all other gifts are superadded; from all other fictions of late ages. All others, nay, properly they are but other forms of the in comparison, have more or less the nature same gift. A nobler power of insight than this of hollow vizards, constructed from without of Goethe, you in vain look for, since Shaks-inwards, painted like, and deceptively put in peare passed away. In fact, there is much motion. Many years ago on finishing our every way, here in particular, that these two first perusal of Wilhelm Meis er, with a very minds have in common. Shakspeare too mixed sentiment in other respects, we could does not look at a thing, but into it, through it; not but feel that here lay more insight into the so that he constructively comprehends it, can elements of human nature, and a more poetitake it asunder, and put it together again; the cally perfect combining of these than in all the thing melts, as it were, into light under his eye, other fictitious literature of our generation., and anew creates itself before him. That is to say, he is a Thinker in the highest of all senses: he is a Poet. For Goethe, as for Shakspeare, the world lies all translucent, all fusible, (we might call it,) encircled with WONDER; the Natural in reality the Supernatural, for to the seer's eyes both become one. What are the Hamlets and Tempests, the Fausts and Mignons, but glimpses accorded us into this translucent, wonder-encircled world: revelations of the mystery of all mysteries, Man's Life as it actually is?
Under other secondary aspects, the poetical faculty of the two will still be found cognate. Goethe is full of figurativeness: this grand light-giving Intellect, as all such are, is an imaginative one,—and in a quite other sense than most of our unhappy Imaginatives will imagine. Gall the Craniologist declared him to be a born Folkeder, (popular orator.) both by the figure of his brow, and what was still more decisive, because he could not speak but a figure came." Gall saw what was high as his own nose reached,
Neither, as an additional similarity, (for the great is ever like itself.) let the majestic Calmness of both be omitted; their perfect tolerance for all men and all things. This too proceeds from the same source, perfect clearness of vision: he who comprehends an object cannot hate it, has already begun to love it. In respect of style, no less than of character, this calmness and graceful smooth-flowing softness is again characteristic of both: though in Goethe the quality is more complete, having been matured by far more assiduous study. Goethe's style is perhaps to be reckoned the most excellent that our modern world, in any language, can exhibit. Even to a foreigner," says one, "it is full of character and secondary meanings; polished, yet vernacular and cor dial, it sounds like the dialect of wise, antique minded, true-hearted men in poetry, brief, sharp, simple, and expressive: in prose, perhaps still more pleasing; for it is at once concise and full, rich, clear, unpretending, and melodious; and the sense, not presented in alternating flashes, piece after piece revealed and withdrawn, rises before us as in continuous dawning, and stands at last simultaneously complete, and bathed in the mellowest and ruddiest sunshine. It brings to mind what the