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"The Eldest answered: 'Among all Heathen religions, for such also is the Israelitish, this has the most distinguished advantages; of which I shall mention only a few. At the Ethnic judgment-seat, at the judgment-seat of the God of Nations, it is not asked whether this is best, the most excellent nation; but whether it lasts, whether it has continued. The Israelitish people never was good for much, as its own leaders, judges, rulers, prophets, have a thousand times reproachfully declared; it possesses few virtues, and most of the faults of other nations but in cohesion, steadfastness, valour, and, when all this would not serve, in obstinate toughness, it has no match. It is the most perseverant nation in the world; it is, it was, and it will be, to glorify the name of Jehovah through all ages. We have set it up, therefore, as the pattern figure; as the main figure, to which the others only serve as a frame.'
"It becomes not me to dispute with you,' said Wilhelm, 'since you have instruction to impart. Open to me, therefore, the other advantages of this people, or rather of its history, of its religion.'
"One chief advantage,' said the other, is its excellent collection of Sacred Books. These stand so happily combined together, that even out of the most diverse elements, the feeling of a whole still rises before us. They are complete enough to satisfy; fragmentary enough to excite; barbarous enough to rouse; tender enough to appease; and for many other contradicting merits might not these Books, might not this one Book, be praised?'
"Thus wandering on, they had now reached the gloomy and perplexed periods of the History, the destruction of the City and the Temple, the murder, exile, slavery of whole masses of this stiff-necked people. Its subsequent fortunes were delineated in a cunning allegorical way; a real historical delineation of them would have lain without the limits of true Art. "At this point, the gallery abruptly terminated in a closed door, and Wilhelm was surprised to see himself already at the end. In your historical series,' said he, 'I find a chasm. You have destroyed the Temple of Jerusalem, and dispersed the people; yet you have not introduced the divine Man who taught there shortly before; to whom, shortly before, they would give no ear.'
"To have done this, as you require it, would have been an error. The life of that divine Man, whom you allude to, stands in no Connection with the general history of the world in his time. It was a private life; his teaching was a teaching for individuals. What has publicly befallen vast masses of people, and the minor parts which compose them, belongs to the general History of the World, to the general Religion of the World; the Religion we have named the First. What inwardly befalls individuals belongs to the Second Religion, the Philosophical: such a Religion was it that Christ taught and practised, so long as he went about on earth. For this reason, the external here closes, and I now open to you the internal.'
"A door went back, and they entered a similar gallery; where Wilhelm soon recog nised a corresponding series of Pictures from the New Testament. They seemed as if by another hand than the first: all was softer; forms, movements, accompaniments, light, and colouring."
Into this second gallery, with its strange doctrine about “Miracles and Parables,” the characteristic of the Philosophical Religion, we cannot enter for the present, yet must give one hurried glance. Wilhelm expresses some surprise that these delineations terminate "with the Supper, with the scene where the Master and his Discipies part." He inquires for the remaining portion of the history.
"In all sorts of instruction,' said the Eldest, in all sorts of communication, we are fond of separating whatever it is possible to separate; for by this means alone can the notion of importance and peculiar significance arise in the young mind. Actual experience of itself mingles and mixes all things together: here, accordingly, we have entirely disjoined that sublime Man's life from its termination. In life, he appears as a true Philosopher,-let not the expression stagger you,-as a Wise Man in the highest sense. He stands firm to this point: he goes on his way inflexibly, and while he exalts the lower to himself, while he makes the ignorant, the poor, the sick, partakers of his wisdom, of his riches, of his strength, he, on the other hand, in nowise conceals his divine origin; he dares to equal himself with God, nay, to declare that he himself is God. In this manner is he wont, from youth upwards, to astound his familiar friends; of these he gains a part to his own cause; irritates the rest against him; and shows to all men, who are aiming at a certain elevation in doctrine and life, what they have to look for from the world. And thus, for the noble portion of mankind, his walk and conversation are even more instructive and profitable than his death: for to those trials every one is called, to this trial but a few. Now, omitting all that results from this consideration, do but look at the touching scene of the Last Supper. Here the Wise Man, as it ever is, leaves those, that are his own, utterly orphaned behind him; aad while he is careful for the Good, he feeds along with them a traitor, by whom he and the Better are to be destroyed.""
This seems to us to have "a deep, still meaning," and the longer and closer we examine it, the more it pleases us. Wilhelm is not admitted into the shrine of the Third Religion, the Christian, or that of which Christ's sufferings and death were the symbols, as his walk and conversation had been the symbol of the Second, or Philosophical Religion. "That last Religion," it is said,
"That last Religion which arises from the Reverence of what is Beneath us; that veneration of the contradictory, the hated, the avoided, we give to each of our pupils, in small portions, by way of outfit, along with him into the world, merely that he may know where more is to be had, should such a want spring up within him. I invite you to return hither at the end of a year, to attend our general
Festival, and see how far your son is advanced: | doubt, and discontent, into freedom, belief, and then shall you be admitted into the Sanctuary clear activity: such a change as, in our opinion, of Sorrow.' must take place, more or less consciously, "Permit me one question,' said Wilhelm: in every character that, especially in these 'as you have set up the life of this divine times, attains to spiritual manhood; and in Man for a pattern and example, have you like-characters possessing any thoughtfulness and wise selected his sufferings, his death, as a sensibility, will seldom take place without a model of exalted patience?' too painful consciousness, without bitter conflicts, in which the character itself is too often maimed and impoverished, and which end too often not in victory, but in defeat, or fatal compromise with the enemy. Too often, we may well say; for though many gird on the harness, few bear it warrior-like; still fewer put it off with triumph. Among our own poets, Byron was almost the only man we saw faithfully and manfully struggling, to the end, in this cause; and he died while the victory was still doubtful, or at best, only beginning to be gained. We have already stated our opinion, that Goethe's success in this matter has been more complete than that of any other man in his age; nay, that, in the strictest sense, he may also be called the only one that has so succeeded. On this ground, were it on no other, we have ventured to say, that his spiritual history and procedure must deserve attention; that his opinions, his creations, his mode of thought, his whole picture of the world as it dwells within him, must to his contemporaries be an inquiry of no common interest; of an interest altogether peculiar, and not in this degree exampled in existing literature. These things can be but imperfectly stated here, and must be left, not in a state of demonstration, but, at the utmost, of loose fluctuating probability; nevertheless, if inquired into, they will be found to have a precise enough meaning, and, as we believe, a highly important one.
For the rest, what sort of mind it is that has passed through this change, that has gained this victory; how rich and high a mind; how learned by study in all that is wisest, by expe rience in all that is most complex, the brightest as well as the blackest, in man's existence; gifted with what insight, with what grace and power, of utterance, we shall not for the present attempt discussing. All these the reader will learn, who studies his writings with such attention as they merit: and by no other means. Of Goethe's dramatic, lyrical, didactic poems, in their thousandfold expressiveness, for they are full of expressiveness, we can here say nothing. But in every department of Literature, of Art ancient and modern, in many provinces of Science, we shall often meet him; and hope to have other occasions of estimating what, in these respects, we and all men owe him.
"Undoubtedly we have,' replied the Eldest. "Of this we make no secret; but we draw a veil over these sufferings, even because we reverence them so highly. We hold it a damnable audacity to bring forth that torturing Cross, and the Holy One who suffers on it, or to expose them to the light of the Sun, which hid its face when a reckless world forced such a sight on it; to take these mysterious secrets, in which the divine depth of Sorrow lies hid, and play with them, fondle them, trick them out, and rest not till the most reverend of all solemnities appears vulgar and paltry. Let so much for the present suffice- The rest we must still owe you for a twelvemonth. The instruction, which in the interim we give the children, no stranger is allowed to witness: then, however, come to us, and you will hear what our best Speakers think it serviceable to make public on those matters.'"
Could we hope that, in its present disjointed state, this emblematic sketch would rise before the minds of our readers, in any measure as it stood before the mind of the writer; that, in considering it, they might seize only an outine of those many meanings which, at less or greater depth, lie hidden under it, we should anticipate their thanks for having, a first or a second time, brought it before them. As it is, believing that to open-minded, truth-seeking men, the deliberate words of an open-minded, truth-seeking man can in no case be wholly unintelligible, nor the words of such a man as Goethe indifferent, we have transcribed it for their perusal. If we induce them to turn to the original, and study this in its completeness, with so much else that environs it, and bears on it, they will thank us still more. To our own judgment, at least, there is a fine and pure significance in this whole delineation: such phrases even as "the Sanctuary of Sorrow," the divine depth of Sorrow," have of themselves pathetic wisdom for us; as indeed a tone of devoutness, of calm, mild, priestlike dignity pervades the whole. In a time like ours, it is rare to see, in the writings of cultivated men, any opinion whatever, bearing any mark of sincerity, on such a subject as this: yet it is and continues the highest subject, and they that are highest are most fit for studying it, and helping others to study it.
Goethe's Wanderjahre was published in his seventy-second year; Werter in his twenty-fifth: thus in passing between these two works, and over Meisters Lehrjahre, which stands nearly midway, we have glanced over a space of almost fifty years, including within them, of course, whatever was most important in his public or private history. By means of these quotations, so diverse in their tone, we meant to make it visible that a great change had taken place in the moral disposition of the man; a change from inward imprisonment,
Two circumstances, meanwhile we have remarked, which to us throw light on the nature of his original faculty for Poetry, and go far to convince us of the Mastery he has attained in that art; these we may here state briefly, for the judgment of such as already know his writings, or the help of such as are beginning to know them. The first is his singularly emblematic intellect; his perpetual never-failing tendency to transform into shape, into life, the opinion, the feeling that may dwell in him; which, in its widest sense, we reckon to be
essentially the grand problem of the Poet. for his pretensions to mastery and completeWe do not mean mere metaphor and rheto- ness in his heart, we can but reckon this rical trope: these are but the exterior concern, among the surest. Tried by this, there is ne often but the scaffolding of the edifice, which living writer that approaches within many is to be built up (within our thoughts) by degrees of Goethe. means of them. In allusions, in similitudes, though no one known to us is happier, many are more copious, than Goethe. But we find this faculty of his in the very essence of his intellect; and trace it alike in the quiet, cunning epigram, the allegory, the quaint device, reminding us of some Quarles or Bunyan; and in the Fausts, the Tassos, the Mignons, which, in their pure and genuine personality, may almost remind us of the Ariels and Hamlets of Shakspeare. Every thing has form, every thing has visual existence; the poet's imagination bodies forth the forms of things unseen, his pen turns them to shape. This, as a natural endowment, exists in Goethe, we conceive, to a very high degree.
Thus, it would seem, we consider Goethe to be a richly educated Poet, no less than a richly educated Man: a master both of Humanity, and of Poetry; one to whom Experience has given true wisdom, and the “Melodies Eternal" a perfect utterance for his wisdom. Of the particular form which this humanity, this wisdom has assumed; of his opinions, character, personality,-for these, with whatever difficulty, are and must be decipherable in his writings, we had much to say: but this also we must decline. In the present state of matters, to speak adequately would be a task too hard for us, and one in which our readers could afford little help, nay, in which many of them might take little interest. Meanwhile, we have found a brief cursory sketch on this subject, already written in our language: some parts of it, by way of preparation, we shall here transcribe. It is written by a professed admirer of Goethe; nay, as might almost seem, by a grateful learner, whom he taught, whom he had helped to lead out of spiritual obstruction, into peace and light. Making due allowance for all this, there is little in the paper that we object to.
"In Goethe's mind," observes he, "the first aspect that strikes us is its calmness, then its beauty; a deeper inspection reveals to us its vastness and unmeasured strength. This man rules, and is not ruled. The stern and fiery energies of a most passionate soul lie silent in the centre of its being; a trembling sensi bility has been enured to stand, without flinching or murmur, the sharpest trials. Nothing outward, nothing inward, shall agitate or control him. The brightest and most capricious fancy, the most piercing and inquisitive intellect, the wildest and deepest imagination; the highest thrills of joy, the bitterest pangs of sorrow: all these are his, he is not theirs. While he moves every heart from its steadfastness, his own is firm and still: the words that search into the inmost recesses of our nature, he pronounces with a tone of coldness and equanimity: in the deepest pathos he weeps not, or his tears are like water trickling from a rock of adamant. He is a king of himself and of this world; nor does he rule it like a vulgar great man, like Napoleon or Charles the Twelfth, by the mere brute exertion of his will, grounded on no principle, or on a false one: his faculties and feelings are not fettered or prostrated under the iron sway of Passion, but led and guided in kindly union under the mild sway of Reason; as the fierce primeval elements of Chaos were stilled at the coming of Light, and bound together, under its soft vesture, into a glorious and beneficent Creation.
"This is the true rest of man; the dim aim of every human soul, the full attainment of only a chosen few. It comes not unsought to any; but the wise are wise because they think no price too high for it. Goethe's inward home has been reared hv slow and laborious
The other characteristic of his mind, which proves to us his acquired mastery in art, as this shows us the extent of his original capacity for it, is his wonderful variety, nay, universality; his entire freedom from Mannerism. We read Goethe for years before we come to see wherein the distinguishing peculiarity of his understanding, of his disposition, even of his way of writing, consists. It seems quite a simple style that of his; remarkable chiefly for its calmness, its perspicuity, in short, its commonness and yet it is the most uncommon of all styles: we feel as if every one might imitate it, and yet it is inimitable. As hard is it to discover in his writings,-though there also, as in every man's writings, the character of the writer must lie recorded, what sort of spiritual construction he has, what are his temper, his affections, his individual specialities. For all lives freely within him; Philina and Clärchen, Mephistopheles and Mignon, are alike indifferent, or alike dear to him; he is of no sect or caste: he seems not this man or that man, but a man. We reckon this to be the characteristic of a Master in Art of any sort; and true especially of all great Poets. How true is it of Shakspeare and Homer! Who knows, or can figure what the Man Shakspeare was, by the first, by the twentieth perusal of his works? He is a Voice coming to us from the Land of Melody: his old, brick dwelling-place, in the mere earthly burgh of Stratford-on-Avon, offers us the most inexplicable enigma. And what is Homer in the Ilias? HE IS THE WITNESS; he has seen, and he reveals it; we hear and believe, but do not behold him. Now compare, with these two poets, any other two; not of equal genius, for there are none such, but of equal sincerity, who wrote as earnestly, and from the heart, like them. Take, for instance, Jean Paul and Lord Byron. The good Richter begins to show himself, in his broad, massive, kindly, quaint significance, before we have read many pages of even his slightest work;| and to the last, he paints himself much better than his subject. Byron may almost be said to have painted nothing else than himself, be his subject what it might. Yet as a test for the culture of a Poet, in his poetical capacity,
efforts; but it stands on no hollow or deceitful | some experiences, of business done in the basis for his peace is not from blindness, but great deep of the spirit; a maxim, trivial to the from clear vision; not from uncertain hope careless eye, will rise with light and solution of alteration, but from sure insight into what over long perplexed periods of our own history. cannot alter. His world seems once to have It is thus that heart speaks to heart, that the been desolate and baleful as that of the dark-life of one man becomes a possession to all. est skeptic: but he has covered it anew with Here is a mind of the most subtile and tumultubeauty and solemnity, derived from deeper ous elements; but it is governed in peaceful sources, over which Doubt can have no sway. diligence, and its impetuous and ethereal faHe has acquired fearlessly, and fearlessly culties work softly together for good and noble searched out and denied the False; but he has ends. Goethe may be called a Philosopher; not forgotten, what is equally essential and in- for he loves and has practised as a man the finitely harder, to search out and admit the wisdom which, as a poet, he inculcates. ComTrue. His heart is still full of warmth, though posure and cheerful seriousness seem his head is clear and cold; the world for him breathe over all his character. There is no is still full of grandeur, though he clothes it whining over human woes: it is understood with no false colours; his fellow-creatures are that we must simply all strive to alleviate or still objects of reverence and love, though their remove them. There is no noisy battling for basenesses are plainer to no eye than to his. opinions; but a persevering effort to make To reconcile these contradictions is the task Truth lovely, and recommend her, by a thouof all good men, each for himself, in his own sand avenues, to the hearts of all men. Of his way and manner; a task which, in our age, personal manners we can easily believe the is encompassed with difficulties peculiar to universal report, as often given in the way of the time; and which Goethe seems to have ac- censure as of praise, that he is a man of concomplished with a success that few can rival. summate breeding and the stateliest presence: A mind so in unity with itself, even though it for an air of polished tolerance, of courtly, we were a poor and small one, would arrest our might almost say, majestic repose, and serene attention, and win some kind regard from us; humanity, is visible throughout his works. In but when this mind ranks among the strong- no line of them does he speak with asperity of est and most complicated of the species, it any man: scarcely ever even of a thing. He becomes a sight full of interest, a study full of knows the good, and loves it; he knows the deep instruction. bad and hateful, and rejects it; but in neither case with violence: his love is calm and active; his rejection is implied, rather than pronounced; meek and gentle, though we see that it is thorough, and never to be revoked. The noblest and the basest he not only seems to comprehend, but to personate and body forth in their most secret lineaments: hence actions and opinions appear to him as they are, with all the circumstances which extenuate or endear them to the hearts where they originated and are entertained. This also is the spirit of our Shakspeare, and perhaps of every great dramatic poet. Shakspeare is no sectarian; to all he deals with equity and mercy; because he knows all, and his heart is wide enough for all. In his mind the world is a whole; he figures it as Providence governs it; and to him it is not strange that the sun should be caused to shine on the evil and the good, and the rain to fall on the just and the unjust."
Such a mind as Goethe's is the fruit not only of a royal endowment by nature, but also of a culture proportionate to her bounty. In Goethe's original form of spirit, we discern the highest gifts of manhood, without any deficiency of the lower: he has an eye and a heart equally for the sublime, the common, and the ridiculous; the elements at once of a poet, a thinker, and a wit. Of his culture we have often spoken already; and it deserves again to be held up to praise and imitation. This, as he himself unostentatiously confesses, has been the soul of all his conduct, the great enterprise of his life; and few that understand him will be apt to deny that he has prospered. As a writer, his resources have been accumulated from nearly all the provinces of human intellect and activity; and he has trained himself to use these complicated instruments, with a light expertness which we might have admired in the professor of a solitary department. Freedom, and grace, and smiling earnestness are the characteristics of his works: the matter of them flows along in chaste abundance, in the softest combination; and their style is referred to by native critics as the highest specimen of the German tongue.
Considered as a transient, far-off view of Goethe in his personal character, all this, from the writer's peculiar point of vision, may have its true grounds, and wears at least the aspect of sincerity. We may also quote something of what follows on Goethe's character as a poet and thinker, and the contrast he exhibits in this respect with another celebrated, and now altogether European author.
"Goethe," observes this critic, "has been called the German Voltaire,' but it is a name which does him wrong and describes him ill. Except in the corresponding variety of their pursuits and knowledge, in which, per haps, it does Voltaire wrong, the two cannot be compared. Goethe is all, or the best of all, that Voltaire was, and he is much that Voltaire did not dream of. To say nothing of his dig
"But Goethe's culture as a writer is perhaps less remarkable than his culture as a man. He has learned not in head only, but also in heart; not from Art and Literature, but also by action and passion, in the rugged school of Experience. If asked what was the grand characteristic of his writings, we should not say knowledge, but wisdom. A mind that has seen, and suffered, and done, speaks to us of what it has tried and conquered. A gay delineation will give us notice of dark and toil
nified and trutnful character as a man, he belongs, as a thinker and a writer, to a far higher class than this enfant gâté du monde qu'il gáta. He is not a questioner and a despiser, but a teacher and a reverencer; not a destroyer, but a builder up; not a wit only, but a wise man. Of him Montesquieu could not have said, with even epigrammatic truth: Il a plus que personne l'esprit que tout le monde a. Voltaire is the cleverest of all past and present men; but a great man is something more, and this he surely
like baked bread, savoury and satisfying for a single day;" but, unhappily, "flour cannot be sown, and seed-corn ought not to be ground." We proceed with our Critic in his contrast of Goethe with Voltaire.
"As poets," continues he," the two live not in the same hemisphere, not in the same world. Of Voltaire's poetry, it were blindness to deny the polished, intellectual vigour, the logical symmetry, the flashes that from time to time give it the colour, if not the warmth, of fire: but it is in a far other sense than this that Goethe Whether this epigram, which we have seen is a poet; in a sense of which the French in some Biographical Dictionary, really be- literature has never afforded any example. We longs to Montesquieu, we know not; but it may venture to say of him, that his province is does seem to us not wholly inapplicable to high and peculiar; higher than any poet but Voltaire, and at all events, highly expressive himself, for several generations, has so far of an important distinction among men of succeeded in, perhaps even has steadfastly attalent generally. In fact, the popular man, tempted. In reading Goethe's poetry, it perand the man of true, at least of great origin-petually strikes us that we are reading the ality, are seldom one and the same; we sus- poetry of our own day and generation. No pect that, till after a long struggle on the part demands are made on our credulity: the light, of the latter, they are never so. Reasons are the science, the skepticism of our age, is not obvious enough. The popular man stands on hid from us. He does not deal in antiquated our own level, or a hair's breadth higher; he mythologies, or ring changes on traditionary shows us a truth which we can see without poetic forms; there are no supernal, no infernal shifting our present intellectual position. This influences, for Faust is an apparent, rather is a highly convenient arrangement. The than a real exception; but there is the barren original man, again, stands above us; he prose of the nineteenth century, the vulgar life wishes to wrench us from our old fixtures, and which we are all leading, and it starts into elevate us to a higher and clearer level: but strange beauty in his hands, and we pause in to quit our old fixtures, especially if we have delighted wonder to behold the flowerage of sat in them with moderate comfort for some poesy blooming in that parched and rugged score or two of years, is no such easy business; soil. This is the end of his Mignons and accordingly we demur, we resist, we even give Harpers, of his Hermanns and Meisters. Poetry, battle; we still suspect that he is above us, as he views it, exists not in time or place, but but try to persuade ourselves (Laziness and in the spirit of man; and Art with Nature is Vanity earnestly assenting) that he is below. now to perform for the poet what Nature alone For is it not the very essence of such a man performed of old. The divinities and demons, that he be now? And who will warrant us the witches, spectres, and fairies, are vanished that, at the same time, he shall only be an in- from the world, never again to be recalled: but tensation and continuation of the old, which, in the Imagination, which created these, still lives, general, is what we long and look for? No and will for ever live, in man's soul; and can one can warrant us. And, granting him to be again pour its wizard light over the Universe, a man of real genius, real depth, and that and summon forth enchantments as lovely or speaks not till after earnest meditation, what impressive, and which its sister faculties will sort of a philosophy were his, could we esti- not contradict. To say that Goethe has acmate the length, breadth, and thickness of it at complished all this, would be to say that his a single glance? And when did Criticism genius is greater than was ever given to any give two glances? Criticism, therefore, opens man: for if it was a high and glorious mind, on such a man its greater and its lesser bat- or rather series of minds, that peopled the first teries, on every side: he has no security but ages with their peculiar forins of poetry, it must to go on disregarding it; and "in the end," be a series of minds much higher and more says Goethe, "Criticism itself comes to relish glorious that shall so people the present. The that method." But now let a speaker of the angels and demons, that can lay prostrate our other class come forward; one of those men hearts in the nineteenth century must be of anothat "have more than any one, the opinion ther, and more cunning fashion, than those that which all men have!" No sooner does he subdued us in the ninth. To have attempted, speak, than all and sundry of us feel as if we to have begun this enterprise, may be accounthad been wishing to speak that very thing, as ed the greatest praise. That Goethe ever meif we ourselves might have spoken it; and ditated it, in the form here set forth, we have no forth with resounds from the united universe a direct evidence: but, indeed, such is the end and celebration of that surprising feat. What clear- aim of high poetry at all times and seasons; ness, brilliancy, justness, penetration! Who for the fiction of the poet is not falsehood, but can doubt that this man is right, when so the purest truth; and, if he would lead captive many thousand votes are ready to back him? our whole being, not rest satisfied with a part Doubtless, he is right; doubtless, he is a clever of it, he must address us on interests that are, man; and his praise will long be in all the not that were, ours; and in a dialect which finds Magazines. a response, and not a contradiction, within our bosoms."*
Clever men are good, but they are not the dest. "The instruction they can give us is
* German Romance, vol. iv. pp. 17—25.