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over human life; and, in Berlichingen, appears as | mains the best of all modern Idyls; but it i a fond and sad looking back into the Past, be- and was nothing more. And consider our long various other productions of Goethe's; leading writers; consider the poetry of Gray, for example, the Mitschuldigen, and the first and the prose of Johnson. The first a laboidea of Faust, which, however, was not realized rious mosaic, through the hard, stiff lineain actual composition, till a calmer period of ments of which little life or true grace could his history. Of this early "harsh and crude," be expected to look: real feeling, and all freeyet fervid and genial period, Werter may stand dom of expressing it, are sacrificed to pomp, here as the representative; and, viewed in its to cold splendour; for vigour we have a cerexternal and internal relation, will help to il- tain mouthing vehemence, too elegant indeed lustrate both the writer and the public he was to be tumid, yet essentially foreign to the writing for. heart, and seen to extend no deeper than the mere voice and gesture. Were it not for his Letters, which are full of warm, exuberant power, we might almost doubt whether Gray was a man of genius; nay, was a living man at all, and not rather some thousand-times more cunningly devised poetical turning-loom, than that of Swift's Philosophers in Laputa. Johnson's prose is true, indeed, and sound,

At the present day, it would be difficult for us, satisfied, nay, sated to nausea, as we have been with the doctrines of Sentimentality, to estimate the boundless interest which Werter must have excited when first given to the world. It was then new in all senses; it was wonderful, yet wished for, both in its own country and in every other. The literature of Germany had as yet but partially awakened and full of practical sense: few men have from its long torpor: deep learning, deep re-seen more clearly into the motives, the inte flection, have at no time been wanting there: rests, the whole walk and conversation of the but the creative spirit had for above a century living busy world as it lay before him; but been almost extinct. Of late, however, the farther than this busy, and, to most of us, Ramlers, Rabeners, Gellerts, had attained to no rather prosaic world, he seldom looked: his inconsiderable polish of style; Klopstock's instruction is for men of business, and in reMessias had called forth the admiration, and gard to matters of business alone. Prudence perhaps still more the pride, of the country, as is the highest Virtue he can inculcate; and for a piece of art; a high enthusiasm was abroad; that finer portion of our nature, that portion Lessing had roused the minds of men to a of it which belongs essentially to Literature deeper and truer interest in literature, had strictly so called; where our highest feelings, even decidedly begun to introduce a heartier, our best joys and keenest sorrows, our Doubt, warmer, and more expressive style. The our Love, our Religion reside, he has no word Germans were on the alert; in expectation, or to utter; no remedy, no counsel to give us in at least in full readiness for some far bolder our straits; or at most, if, like poor Boswell, impulse; waiting for the Poet that might speak the patient is importunate, will answer: "My to them from the heart to the heart. It was in dear Sir, endeavour to clear your mind of Goethe that such a Poet was to be given them. Cant." Nay, the literature of other countries, placid self-satisfied as they might seem, was in an equally expectant condition. Everywhere, as in Germany, there was polish and languor, external glitter and internal vacuity; it was not fire, but a picture of fire, at which no soul could be warmed. Literature had sunk from its former vocation: it no longer held the mirror up to nature; no longer reflected, in manycoloured expressive symbols, the actual passions, the hopes, sorrows, joys of Living men; but dwelt in a remote conventional world, in Castles of Otranto, in Epigoniads and Leonidases, among clear, metallic heroes, and white, high, stainless beauties, in whom the drapery and elocution were nowise the least important qualities. Men thought it right that the heart should swell into magnanimity with Caractacus and Cato, and melt into sorrow with many an Eliza and Adelaide; but the heart was in no haste either to swell or to melt. Some pulses of heroical sentiment, a few unnatural tears might, with conscientious readers, be actually squeezed forth on such occasions: but they came only from the surface of the mind; nay, had the conscientious man considered of the matter, he would have found that they ought not to have come at all. Our only Engush poet of the period was Goldsmith; a pure, clear, genuine spirit, had he been of depth or strength sufficient: his Vicar of Wakefield re

The turn which Philosophical speculation had taken in the preceding age corresponded with this tendency, and enhanced its narcotic influences; or was, indeed, properly speaking, the root they had sprung from. Locke, himself, a clear, humble-minded, patient, reverent, nay, religious man, had paved the way for banishing religion from the world. Mind, by being modelled in men's imaginations into a Shape, a Visibility; and reasoned of as if it had been some composite, divisible and reunitable substance, some finer chemical salt, or curious piece of logical joinery,-began to lose its immaterial, mysterious, divine though invisible character: it was tacitly figured as something that might, were our organs fine enough, be seen. Yet who had ever seen it? Who could ever see it? Thus by degrees it passed into a Doubt, a Relation, some faint possibility; and at last into a highly-probable Nonentity. Following Locke's footsteps, the French had discovered that "as the stomach secretes Chyle, so does the brain secrete Thought." And what then was Religion, what was Poetry, what was all high and heroic feeling? Chiefly a delusion; often a false and pernicious one. Poetry, indeed, was still to be preserved; because Poetry was a useful thing: men needed amusement, and loved to amuse themselves with Poetry: the playhouse was a pretty lounge of an evening; then there

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were so many precepts, satirical, didactic, so | sphere, (for every man, disguise it as he may, much more impressive for the rhyme; to say has a soul in him,) at least a tolerable enough nothing of your occasional verses, birth-day place; where, by one item and another, some odes, epithalamiums, epicediums, by which comfort, or show of comfort, might from time "the dream of existence may be so highly to time be got up, and these few years, espesweetened and embellished." Nay, does not cially since they were so few, be spent withPoetry, acting on the imaginations of men, out much murmuring. But to men afflicted excite them to daring purposes; sometimes, as with the "malady of Thought," some devoutin the case of Tyrtæus, to fight better; in ness of temper was an inevitable heritage: to which wise may it not rank as a useful stimu- such the noisy forum of the world could aplant to man, along with Opium and Scotch pear but an empty, altogether insufficient con Whisky, the manufacture of which is allowed cern; and the whole scene of life had become by law? In Heaven's name, then, let Poetry hopeless enough. Unhappily, such feelings be preserved. are yet by no means so infrequent with ourselves, that we need stop here to depict them. That state of Unbelief from which the Germans do seem to be in some measure delivered, still presses with incubus force on the greater part of Europe; and nation after nation, each in its own way, feels that the first of all moral problems is how to cast it off, or how to rise above it. Governments naturally attempt the first expedient; Philosophers, in general, the second.


With Religion, however, it fared somewhat worse. In the eyes of Voltaire and his disciples, Religion was a superfluity, indeed a nuisance. Here, it is true, his followers have since found that he went too far; that Religion, being a great sanction to civil morality, is of use for keeping society in order, at least the lower classes, who have not the feeling of Honour in due force; and therefore, as a considerable help to the Constable and Hangman, ought decidedly to be kept up. But such tolera- The poet, says Schiller, is a citizen not only tion is the fruit only of later days. In those of his country, but of his time. Whatever octimes, there was no question but how to get cupies and interests men in general, will inrid of it, root and branch, the sooner the better. terest him still more. That nameless Unrest, A gleam of zeal, nay, we will call it, however the blind struggle of a soul in bondage, that basely alloyed, a glow of real enthusiasm and high, sad, longing Discontent, which was agi. love of truth, may have animated the minds of tating every bosom, had driven Goethe almost these men, as they looked abroad on the pesti- to despair. All felt it; he alone could give it lent jungle of Superstition, and hoped to clear voice. And here lies the secret of his poputhe earth of it for ever. This little glow, so al- larity; in his deep, susceptive heart, he felt a loyed, so contaminated with pride and other thousand times more keenly what every one poor or bad admixtures, was the last_which was feeling; with the creative gift which bethinking men were to experience in Europe longed to him as a poet, he bodied it forth into for a time. So is it always in regard to Reli- visible shape, gave it a local habitation and a gious Belief, how degraded and defaced soever: name; and so made himself the spokesman of the delight of the Destroyer and Denier is no his generation. Werter is but the cry of that pure delight, and must soon pass away. With dim, rooted pain, under which all thoughtful bold, with skilful hand, Voltaire set his torch men of a certain age were languishing: it to the jungle: it blazed aloft to heaven; and paints the misery, it passionately utters the the flame exhilarated and comforted the incen- complaint; and heart and voice, all over Eudiaries; but, unhappily, such comfort could not rope, loudly and at once respond to it. True, continue. Ere long this flame, with its cheer- it prescribes no remedy; for that was a far ful light and heat, was gone: the jungle, it is different, far harder enterprise, to which other true, had been consumed; but, with its en-years and a higher culture were required; but tanglements, its shelter and spots of verdure even this utterance of the pain, even this little, also; and the black, chill, ashy swamp, left in for the present, is ardently grasped at, and its stead, seemed for the time a greater evil with eager sympathy appropriated in every than the other. bosom. If Byron's life-weariness, his moody melancholy, and mad, stormful indignation, borne on the tones of a wild and quite artless melody, could pierce so deep into many a British heart, now that the whole matter is no longer new,-is indeed old and trite, we may judge with what vehement acceptance this Werter must have been welcomed, coming as it did like a voice from unknown regions, the first thrilling peal of that impassioned dirge, which, in country after country, men's ears have listened to, till they were deaf to all else. For Werter, infusing itself into the core and whole spirit of Literature, gave birth to a race of Sentimentalists, who have raged and wailed in every part of the world; till better light dawned on them, or at worst exhausted Nature laid herself to sleep, and it was discovered that lamenting was an unproductive labour. These funereal choristers, in Germany, a loud,

In such a state of painful obstruction, extending itself everywhere over Europe, and already master of Germany, lay the general mind, when Goethe first appeared in Literature. Whatever belonged to the finer nature of man had withered under the Harmattan breath of Doubt, or passed away in the conflagration of open Infidelity; and now, where the Tree of Life once bloomed and brought fruit of goodliest savour, there was only barrenness and desolation. To such as could find sufficient interest in the day-labour and day-wages of earthly existence; in the resources of the five bodily Senses, and of Vanity, the only mental sense which yet flourished, which flourished indeed with gigantic vigour, matters were still not so bad. Such men helped themselves forward, as they will generally do; and found the world, if not an altogether proper

haggard, tumultuous, as well as tearful class, it likewise with those who can label their ragwere named the Kraftmänner, or Power-men; gathering employments, or perhaps their pasbut have all long since, like sick children, sions, with pompous titles, and represent them cried themselves to rest. Byron was our to mankind as gigantic undertakings for its English Sentimentalist and Power-man; the welfare and salvation. Happy the man who strongest of his kind in Europe; the wildest, can live in such wise! But he who, in his the gloomiest, and it may be hoped, the last. humility, observes where all this issues, who For what good is it to "whine, put finger i' the sees how featly any small thriving citizen can eye, and sob," in such a case? Still more, to trim his patch of garden into a Paradise, and snarl and snap in malignant wise, “like dog with what unbroken heart even the unhappy distract, or a monkey sick?" Why should crawls along under his burden, and all are we quarrel with our existence, here as it lies alike ardent to see the light of this sun but before us, our field and inheritance, to make one minute longer:-yes, he is silent, and he or to mar, for better or for worse; in which, too forms his world out of himself, and he too too, so many noblest men have, ever from the is happy because he is a man. Aud then, hembeginning, warring with the very evils we warmed in as he is, he ever keeps in his heart the with, both made and been what will be vene- sweet feeling of freedom, and that this dungeon rated to all time? -can be left when he likes."

What Goethe's own temper and habit of

What shapest thou here at the World? 'Tis shapen thought must have been, while the materials of such a work were forming themselves within his heart, might be in some degree conjectured, and he has himself informed us. We quote the following passage from his Dichtung und Wahrheit. The writing of Werter, it would seem, vindicating so gloomy, almost desperate a state of mind in the author, was at the same time a symptom, indeed a cause, of his now having got delivered from such melancholy. Far from recommending suicide to others, as Werter has often been accused of doing, it was the first proof that Goethe himself had abandoned these "hypochondriacal crotchets:" the imaginary "Sorrows" had helped to free him from many real ones.

"Such weariness of life," he says, "has its physical and spiritual causes; those we shall leave to the Doctor, these to the Moralist, for investigation; and in this so trite matter, touch only on the main point, when that phenomenon expresses itself most distinctly. All pleasure in life is founded on the regular return of external things. The alternations of day and night, of the seasons, of the blossoms and fruits, and whatever else meets us from epoch to epoch with the offer and command of enjoyment,-these are the essential springs of earthly existence. The more open we are to such enjoyments, the happier we feel ourselves; but, should the vicissitude of these appearances come and go without our taking interest in it, should such benignant invi

"That children know not what they want, all conscientious tutors and education-philoso-tations address themselves to us in vain, phers have long been agreed: but that full- then follows the greatest misery, the heaviest grown men, as well as children, stagger to and malady; one grows to view life as a sickening fro along this earth; like these, not knowing burden. We have heard of the Englishman whence they come or whither they go; aiming, who hanged himself, to be no more troubled just as little, after true objects: governed just with daily putting off and on his clothes. I as well by biscuit, cakes, and birch-rods: this is knew an honest gardener, the overseer of some what no one likes to believe; and yet, it seems extensive pleasure-grounds, who once splenetto me, the fact is lying under our very nose. ically exclaimed: Shall I see these clouds for "I will confess to thee, for I know what thou ever passing, then, from east to west? It is wouldst say to me on this point, that those are the told of one of our most distinguished men,† happiest, who, like children, live from one day to that he viewed with dissatisfaction the spring the other, carrying their dolls about with them, again growing green, and wished that, by way to dress and undress; gliding, also, with the of change, it would for once be red. These highest respect, before the drawer where mam-are specially the symptoms of life-weariness, ma has locked the gingerbread: and, when they do get the wished-for morsel, devouring it with puffed-out cheeks, and crying, More!These are the fortunate of the earth. Well is

long ago;

The Maker shaped it, and thought it were best even so.
Thy lot is appointed, go follow its hest;
Thy journey's begun, thou must move and not rest;
For sorrow and care cannot alter thy case,
And running, not raging, will win thee the race.

Meanwhile, of the philosophy which reigns in Werter, and which it has been our lot to hear so often repeated elsewhere, we may here produce a short specimen. The following passage will serve our turn; and be, if we mistake not, new to the mere English reader.

"That the life of man is but a dream, has come into many a head; and with me, too, rome feeling of that sort is ever at work. When I look upon the limits within which man's powers of action and inquiry are hemmed in; when I see how all effort issues simply in procuring supply for wants, which again have no object but continuing this poor existence of ours; and then, that all satisfaction on certain points of inquiry is but a dreaming resignation, while you paint, with many-coloured figures and gay prospects, the walls you sit imprisoned by,-all this, Wilhelm, makes me dumb. I return to my own heart, and find there such a world! Yet a world too, more in forecast and dim desire, than in vision and living power. And then all swims before my mind's eye; and so I smile, and again go dreaming on as others do.

*Leiden des jüngen Werther. Am 22 May.

+Lessing, we believe: but perhaps it was less the greenness of spring that vexed him than Jacobi's too lyric admiration of it.-ED.

which not seldom issues in suicide, and, at | crosses and tediums of the time. These senthis time, among men of meditative, secluded timents were so universal, that Werter, on this character, was more frequent than might be very account, could produce the greatest efsupposed. fect; striking in everywhere with the dominant humour, and representing the interior of a sickly, youthful heart, in a visible and palpable shape. How accurately the English have known this sorrow, might be seen from these few significant lines, written before the appearance of Werter:

"Nothing, however, will sooner induce this feeling of satiety than the return of love. The first love, it is said justly, is the only one; for in the second, and by the second, the highest significance of love is in fact lost. That idea of infinitude, of everlasting endurance, which supports and bears it aloft, is destroyed; it seems transient, like all that returns.

To griefs congenial prone

More wounds than nature gave he knew,
While misery's form his fancy drew
In dark ideal hues, and horrors not its own.*
"Self-murder is an occurrence in men's af-

"But what most pains the young man of sensibility is the incessant return of our faults: for how long is it before we learn, that in cultivating our virtues, we nourish our faults along with them? The former rests on the latter, as on their roots; and these ramify themselves in secret as strongly and as wide as those others in the open light. Now, as we for the most part practise our virtues with forethought and will, but by our faults are overtaken unexpectedly, the former seldom

fairs, which, how much soever it may have already been discussed and commented upcz, excites an interest in every mortal; and, at every new era, must be discussed again. Montesquieu confers on his heroes and great men the right of putting themselves to death when they see good; observing, that it must stand at the will of every one to conclude the Fifth Act of his Tragedy whenever he thinks best. Here, however, our business lies not with persons who, in activity, have led an important life, who have spent their days for some mighty empire, or for the cause of freedom: and whom one may forbear to censure, when, seeing the high ideal purpose which had inspired them it to that other undiscovered country. Our vanish from the earth, they meditate pursuing business here is with persons to whom, properly for want of activity, and in the peacefullest condition imaginable, life has, nevertheless, by their exorbitant requisitions on

give us much joy, the latter are continually themselves, become a burden. As I myself giving us sorrow and distress. Indeed, here was in this predicament, and know best what lies the subtilest difficulty in Self-knowledge, pain I suffered in it, what efforts it cost me to the difficulty which almost renders it impossi- escape from it, I shall not hide the speculable. But figure, in addition to all this, the heat tions, I from time to time considerately prose of youthful blood, an imagination easily fasci- cuted, as to the various modes of death one nated and paralyzed by individual objects; further, the wavering commotions of the day, and you will find that an impatient striving to free one's self from such a pressure was no unnatural state.

had to choose from.

"Further, a young man soon comes to find, if not in himself, at least in others, that moral epochs have their course, as well as the seasons. The favour of the great, the protection of the powerful, the help of the active, the good-will of the many, the love of the few, all fluctuates up and down; so that we cannot hold it fast, any more than we can hold sun, moon, and stars. And yet these things are not mere natural events: such blessings flee away from us, by our own blame or that of others, by accident or destiny; but they flee away, they fluctuate, and we are never sure of them.

"However, these gloomy contemplations, which, if a man yield to them, will lead him to boundless lengths, could not have so decidedly developed themselves in our young German minds, had not some outward cause excited and forwarded us in this sorrowful employment. Such a cause existed for us in the Literature, especially the Poetical Literature, of England, the great qualities of which are accompanied by a certain earnest melancholy, which it imparts to every one that occupies

himself with it.

"In such an element, with such an environment of circumstances, with studies and tastes of this sort, harassed by unsatisfied desires, externally nowhere called forth to important action; with the sole prospect of dragging on a languid, spiritless, mere civic life, we had recurred, in our disconsolate pride, to the thought that life, when it no longer suited one, might be cast aside at pleasure; and had helped ourselves hereby, stintedly enough, over the

break loose from himself, not only to hurt, but "It is something so unnatural for a man to catches at means of a mechanical sort for putto annihilate himself, that he for the most part ting his purpose in execution. When Ajax falls on his sword, it is the weight of his body the warrior adjures his armour-bearer to slay that performs this service for him. When him, rather than that he come into the hands of the enemy, this is likewise an external force which he secures for himself; only a moral instead of a physical one. Women seek in the highly mechanical means of pistol-shootthe water a cooling for their desperation; and ing insures a quick act with the smallest effort. Hanging is a death one mentions unwillingly, because it is an ignoble one. In England it may happen more readily than elsewhere, because from youth upwards you there see that punishment frequent without being specially ignominibut at parting slowly from life; and the most reous. By poison, by opening of veins, men aim fined the speediest, the most painless death, by had spent her life in pomp and luxurious plea means of an asp, was worthy of a Queen, whe sure. All these, however, are external helps So in the original.

are enemies, with which a man, that he may fight against himself, makes league.


the writer's history; and in this point of view, it certainly seems, as contrasted with its "When I considered these various methods, more popular precursor, to deserve our best and, further, looked abroad over history, I attention: for the problem which had been could find among all suicides no one that had stated in Werter, with despair of its solution, is gone about this deed with such greatness and here solved. The lofty enthusiasm, which, freedom of spirit as the Emperor Otho. This wandering wildly over the universe, found no man, beaten indeed as a general, yet nowise resting place, has here reached its appointed reduced to extremities, determines for the good home; and lives in harmony with what long of the Empire, which already in some measure appeared to threaten it with annihilation. belonged to him, and for the saving of so many Anarchy has now become Peace; the once thousands, to leave the world. With his gloomy and perturbed spirit is now serene, friends he passes a gay, festive night, and cheerfully vigorous, and rich in good fruits. next morning it is found that with his own Neither, which is most important of all, has hand he has plunged a sharp dagger into his this Peace been attained by a surrender to heart. This sole act seemed to me worthy of Necessity, or any compact with Delusion; a imitation; and I convinced myself that who- seeming blessing, such as years and dispiritever could not proceed herein as Otho had ment will of themselves bring to most men, done, was not entitled to resolve on renouncing and which is indeed no blessing, since even life. By this conviction, I saved myself from continued battle is better than destruction or the purpose, or indeed, more properly speaking, captivity; and peace of this sort is like that of from the whim, of suicide, which in those fair Galgacus's Romans, who "called it peace when peaceful times had insinuated itself into the they had made a desert." Here the ardent, mind of indolent youth. Among a considera-high aspiring youth has grown into the calmest ble collection of arms, I possessed a costly man, yet with increase and not loss of ardour, well-ground dagger. This I laid down nightly and with aspirations higher as well as clearer. beside my bed; and before extinguishing the For he has conquered his unbelief; the Ideal light, I tried whether I could succeed in send- has been built on the actual; no longer floats ing the sharp point an inch or two deep into vaguely in darkness and regions of dreams, my breast. But as I truly never could suc- but rests in light, on the firm ground of human ceed, I at last took to laughing at myself; threw interest and business, as in its true scene, on away all these hypochondriacal crotchets, and its true basis. determined to live. To do this with cheerfulness, however, I required to have some poetical task given me, wherein all that I had felt, thought, or dreamed on this weighty business, might be spoken forth. With such view, I endeavoured to collect the elements which for a year or two had been floating about in me; I represented to myself the circumstances which had most oppressed and afflicted me; but nothing of all this would take form; there was wanting an incident, a fable, in which I might imbody it.

"All at once I hear tidings of Jerusalem's death; and directly following the general rumour, came the most precise and circumstantial description of the business; and in this instant the plan of Werter was invented; the whole shot together from all sides, and became a solid mass; as the water in the vessel, which already stood on the point of freezing, is by the slightest motion changed at once into firm ice."*

It is wonderful to see with what softness the skepticism of Jarno, the commercial spirit of Werner, the reposing, polished manhood of Lothario and the Uncle, the unearthly enthu siasm of the Harper, the gay, animal vivacity of Philina, the mystic, ethereal, almost spiritual nature of Mignon, are blended together in this work; how justice is done to each, how each lives freely in his proper element, in his proper form; and how, as Wilhelm himself, the mild-hearted, all-hoping, all-believing Wilhelm, struggles forward towards his world of Art through these curiously complected influences, all this unites itself into a multifarious, yet so harmonious Whole, as into a clear poetic mirror, where man's life and business in this age, his passions and purposes, the highest equally with the lowest, are imaged back to us in beautiful significance. Poetry and Prose are no longer at variance, for the poet's eyes are opened: he sees the changes of manycoloured existence, and sees the loveliness and

A wide, and every way most important, in-deep purport which lies hidden under the very meanest of them; hidden to the vulgar sight, but clear to the poet's; because the "open secret," is no longer a secret to him, and he knows that the Universe is full of goodness; that whatever has being has beauty.

terval divides Werter, with its skeptical philosophy, and "hypochondriacal crotchets," from Goethe's next novel, Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship, published some twenty years afterwards. This work belongs, in all senses, to the second and sounder period of Goethe's life, and may indeed serve as the fullest, if perhaps not the purest, impress of it; being written with due forethought, at various times, during a period of no less than ten years. Considered as a piece of Art, there were much to be said on Meister; all which, however, lies beyond our present purpose. We are here ocking at the work chiefly as a document for

* Dich'ung und Wahrheit, b. iii. s. 200-213.

Apart from its literary merits or demerits, such is the temper of mind we trace in Goethe's Meister, and, more or less expressly exhibited, in all his later works. We reckon it a rare phenomenon, this temper; and worthy, in our times, if it do exist, of best study from all inquiring men. How has such a temper been attained in this so lofty and impetuous mind, once, too, dark, desolate, and full of doubt, more than any other? How may we, each of us in his several sphere, attain it, or strengthen

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