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For any thorough or final answer to such questions, it is evident enough, neither our own means, nor the present situation of our readers, in regard to this matter, are in any measure adequate. Nevertheless, the imperfect beginning must be made, before the perfect result can appear. Some slight far-off glance over the character of the man, as he looked and lived, in Action and in Poetry, will not. perhaps, be unacceptable from us: for such as know little of Schiller, it may be an opening of the way to better knowledge; for such as are already familiar with him, it may be a stating in words of what they themselves have often thought; and welcome, therefore, as the confirming testimony of a second witness.
Yet doubtless if he is a Poet, a genuine interpreter of the Invisible, Criticism will have a deeper duty to discharge for him. Every Poet, be his outward lot what it may, finds himself born in the midst of Prose; he has to struggle from the littleness and obstruction of an Actual world, into the freedom and infinitude of an Ideal; and the history of such struggle, which is the history of his life, cannot be other than instructive. His is a high, laborious, unrequited, or only self-requited endeavour, which, however, by the law of his being, he is compelled to undertake, and must prevail in, or be permanently wretched; nay the more wretched, Of Schiller's personal history there are the nobler his gifts are. For it is the deep, in- accounts in various accessible publications; born claim of his whole spiritual nature, and so that, we suppose, no formal Narrative of will not and must not go unanswered. His his Life, which may now be considered geneyouthful unrest, that "unrest of genius," often rally known, is necessary here. Such as are so wayward in its character, is the dim antici-curious on the subject, and still uninformed, pation of this; the mysterious, all-powerful may find some satisfaction in the Life of Schil mandate, as from Heaven, to prepare himself, ler, (London, 1824;) in the Fie de Schiller, (preto purify himself, for the vocation wherewith fixed to the French Translation of his Dramatic he is called. And yet how few can fulfil this Works;) in the Account of Schiller, (prefixed to mandate, how few ever earnestly give heed to the English Translation of his Thirty-Years' it! Of the thousand jingling dilettanti, whose War, Edinburgh, 1828;) and, doubtless, in jingle dies with the hour which it harmlessly many other Essays, known to us only by title. or hurtfully amused, we say nothing here: to Nay, in the survey we propose to make of his these, as to the mass of men, such calls for character, practical as well as speculative, the spiritual perfection speak only in whispers, main facts of his outward history will of themdrowned without difficulty in the din and dis- selves come to light. sipation of the world. But even for the Byron, Schiller's Life is emphatically a literary one; for the Burns, whose ear is quick for celestial that of a man existing only for Contemplation; messages, in whom "speaks the prophesying guided forward by the pursuit of ideal things, spirit," in awful prophetic voice, how hard is and seeking and finding his true welfare thereit to "take no counsel with flesh and blood," in. A singular simplicity characterizes it,-a and instead of living and writing for the Day remoteness from whatever is called business; that passes over them, live and write for the an aversion to the tumults of business, an inEternity that rests and abides over them; in-difference to its prizes, grows with him from stead of living commodiously in the Half, the year to year. He holds no office; scarcely for Reputable, the Plausible, "to live resolutely in a little while a University Professorship; he the Whole, the Good, the True!"* Such Half- covets no promotion; has no stock of money; ness, such halting between two opinions, such and shows no discontent with these arrange. painful, altogether fruitless negotiating between ments. Nay, when permanent sickness, conTruth and Falsehood, has been the besetting tinual pain of body, is added to them, he still sin, and chief misery, of mankind in all ages. seems happy: these last fifteen years of his Nay, in our age, it has christened itself Moder-life are, spiritually considered, the clearest and ation, a prudent taking of the middle course; most productive of all. We might say, there and passes current among us as a virtue. How is something priest-like in that Life of his: virtuous it is, the withered condition of many under quite another colour and environment, a once ingenious nature that has lived by this yet with aims differing in form rather than in method-the broken or breaking heart of many essence, it has a priest-like stillness, a priesta noble nature that could not live by it-speak like purity; nay, if for the Catholic Faith, we aloud, did we but listen. substitute the Ideal of Art, and for Convent Rules, Moral, Esthetic Laws, it has even something of a monastic character. By the three monastic vows he was not bound; yet vows of as high and difficult a kind, both to do and to forbear, he had taken on him; and his happiness and whole business lay in observing them. Thus immured, not in cloisters of stone and mortar, yet in cloisters of the mind, which separate him as impassably from the vulgar, he works and meditates only on what we may call Divine things; his familiar talk, his very recreations, the whole actings and fancyings of his daily existence, tend thither.
As in the life of a Holy Man, too, so in that of Schiller, there is but one great epoch: that
nay, in great part of his writings, beyond such open universally recognisable worth, there is no other to be sought.
And now, when from among so many shipwrecks and misventures one goodly vessel comes to land, we joyfully survey its rich cargo, and hasten to question the crew on the fortunes of their voyage. Among the crowd of uncultivated and miscultivated writers, the high, pure Schiller stands before us with a like distinction. We ask, how was this man successful?-From what peculiar point of view did he attempt penetrating the secret of spiritual Nature? From what region of Prose rise into Poetry? Under what outward accidentswith what inward faculties-by what methods -with what result?
♦ Im Ganzen, Guten, Wahren resolut zu leben.-Goethe.
of taking on him. inese Literary Vows; of finally extricating himself from the distractions of the world, and consecrating his whole future days to Wisdom. What lies before this epoch, and what lies after it, have two altogether different characters. The former is worldly, and occupied with worldly vicissitudes; the latter is spiritual, of calm tenor, marked to himself only by his growth in inward clearness, to the world only by the peaceable fruits of this. It is to the first of these periods that we shall here chiefly direct ourselves.
In his parentage, and the circumstances of his earlier years, we may reckon him fortunate. His parents, indeed, are not rich, nor even otherwise independent: yet neither are they meanly poor; and warm affection, a true honest character, ripened in both into religion, not without an openness for knowledge, and even considerable intellectual culture, makes amends for every defect. The Boy, too, is himself of a character in which, to the observant, lies the richest promise. A modest, still nature, apt for all instruction in heart or head; flashes of liveliness, of impetuosity, from time to time breaking through. That little anecdote of the Thunder-storm is so graceful in its littleness, that one cannot but hope it may be authentic.
Once, it is said, during a tremendous thunder-storm, his father missed him in the young group within doors; none of the sisters could tell what was become of Fritz, and the old man grew at length so anxious that he was forced to go out in quest of him. Fritz was scarcely passed the age of infancy, and knew not the dangers of a scene so awful. His father found him at last, in a solitary place of the neighbourhood, perched on the branch of a tree, gazing at the tempestuous face of the sky, and watching the flashes as in succession they spread their lurid gloom over it. To the reprimands of his parent, the whimpering truant pleaded in extenuation, that the Lightning was so beautiful, and he wished to see where it was coming from!"
In his village-school he reads the Classics with diligence, without relish; at home, with far deeper feelings, the Bible; and already his young heart is caught with that mystic grandeur of the Hebrew Prophets. His devout nature, moulded by the pious habits of his parents, inclines him to be a clergyman: a clergyman, indeed, he proved; only the Church he ministered in was the Catholic, a far more Catholic than that false Romish one. But already in his ninth year, not without rapturous amazement, and a lasting remembrance, he had seen the "splendours of the Ludwigsburg Theatre;" and so, unconsciously, cast a glimpse into that world, where, by accident or natural preference, his own genius was one day to work out its noblest triumphs.
for there is in genius that alchymy which converts all metals into gold; which from suffering educes strength, from error clearer wisdom, from all things good.
The Duke of Wurtemberg had lately founded a free seminary for certain branches of professional education: it was first set up at Solitude, one of his country residences; and had now been transferred to Stuttgard, where, under an improved form, and with the name of Karls-schule, we believe it still exists. The Duke proposed to give the sons of his military officers a preferable claim to the benefits of this institution; and having formed a good opinion both of Schiller and his father, he invited the former to profit by this opportunity. The offer occasioned great embarrassment: the young man and his parents were alike determined in favour of the Church, a project with which this new one was inconsistent. Their embarrassment was but increased, when the Duke, on learning the nature of their scruples, desired them to think well before they decided. It was out of fear, and with reluctance that his proposal was accepted. Schiller enrolled himself in 1773; and turned, with a heavy heart, from freedom and cherished hopes, to Greek, and seclusion, and Law.
His anticipations proved to be but too just: the six years which he spent in this Establishment were the most harassing and comfortless of his life. The Stuttgard system of education seems to have been formed on the principle, not of cherishing and correcting nature, but of rooting it out, and supplying its place by something better. The process of teaching and living was conducted with the stiff formality of military drilling; every thing went on by statute and ordinance; there was no scope for the exercise of free-will, no allowance for the varieties of original structure. A scholar might possess what instincts or capacities he pleased; the regulations of the school' took no account of this; he must fit himself into the common mould, which, like the old Giant's bed, stood there, appointed by superior authority, to be filled alike by the great and the little. The same strict and narrow course of reading and composition was marked out for each beforehand, and it was by stealth if he read or wrote any thing beside. Their domestic economy was regulated in the same spirit as their preceptorial: it consisted of the same sedulous exclusion of all that could border on pleasure, or give any exercise to choice. The pupils were kept apart from the conversation or sight of any person but their teachers; none ever got beyond the precincts of despotism to snatch even a fearful joy; their very amusements proceeded by the word of command.
Before the end of his boyhood, however, begins a far harsher era for Schiller; wherein, under quite other nurture, other faculties were to be developed in him. He must enter on a scene of oppression, distortion, isolation; under which, for the present, the fairest years of his existence are painfully crushed down. But this too has its wholesome influences on him;
"How grievous all this must have been it is easy to conceive. To Schiller it was more grievous than to any other. Of an ardent and impetuous, yet delicate nature, whilst his dis contentment devoured him internally, he was too modest to give it the relief of utterance by deeds or words. Locked up within himself, he suffered deeply, but without complaining Some of his Letters written during this period have been preserved: they exhibit the inef
fectual struggles of a fervid and busy mind, Greenland of a barren and dreary science of veiling its many chagrins under a certain terms." But the dull work of this Greenland dreamy patience, which only shows them more once accomplished, he might rationally hope painfully. He pored over his lexicons, and that his task was done; that the "leisure grammars and insipid tasks, with an artificial gained by superior diligence" would be his composure; but his spirit pined within him own, for Poetry, or whatever eise he pleased. like a captive's, when he looked forth into the Truly, it was " intolerable and degrading to be cheerful world, or recollected the affection of hemmed in still farther by the caprices of parents, the hopes and frolicsome enjoyments severe and formal pedagogues." No wonder of past years." that Schiller "brooded gloomily" over his situation. But what was to be done? "Many plans he formed for deliverance; sometimes he would escape in secret to catch a glimpse of the free and busy world, to him forbidden: sometimes he laid schemes for utterly abandoning a place which he abhorred, and trusting to fortune for the rest." But he is young, inexperienced, unprovided; without help, or counsel: there is nothing to be done, but endure.
Youth is to all the glad season of life; but often only by what it hopes, not by what it attains, or what it escapes. In these sufferings of Schiller's, many a one may say, there is nothing unexampled: could not the history of every Eton Scholar, of every poor Midshipman, with his rudely-broken domestic ties, his privations, persecutions, and cheerless solitude of heart, equal or outdo them? In respect of these, its palpable hardships, perhaps it might; and be still very miserable. But the hardship which presses heaviest on Schiller lies deeper than all these; out of which the natural fire of almost any young heart will sooner or later rise victorious. His worst oppression is an oppression of the moral sense; a fettering not of the Desires only, but of the pure reasonable Will: for besides all outward sufferings, his mind is driven from its true aim, dimly yet invincibly felt to be the true one; and turned, by sheer violence, into one which it feels to be false. Not in Law, with its profits and dignities; not in Medicine, which he willingly, yet still hopelessly exchanged for Law; not in the routine of any marketable occupation, how gainful or honoured soever, can his soul find content and a home: only in some far purer and higher region of Activity; for which he has yet no name; which he once fancied to be the Church, which at length he discovers to be Poetry. Nor is this any transient, boyish wilfulness, but a deep-seated, earnest, ineradicable longing, the dim purpose of his whole inner man. Nevertheless as a transient, boyish wilfulness his teachers must regard it, and deal with it; and not till after the fiercest contest, and a clear victory, will its true nature be recognised. Herein lay the sharpest sting of Schiller's ill fortune; his whole mind is wrenched asunder; he has no rallying point in his misery; he is suffering and toiling for a wrong object. "A singular miscalculation of Nature," he says long afterwards, "had combined my poetical tendencies with the place of my birth. Any disposition to Poetry did violence to the laws of the Institution where I was educated, and contradicted the plan of its founder. For eight years, my enthusiasm struggled with military discipline; but the passion for Poetry is vehement and fiery as a first love. What discipline was meant to extinguish, it blew into a flame. To escape from arrangements that tortured me, my heart sought refuge in the world of ideas, when as yet I was unacquainted with the world of realities, from which iron bars excluded me." Doubtless Schiller's own prudence had already taught him that in order to live poeti cally, it was first requisite to live; that he should and must, as himself expresses it, "forake the balmy climate of Pindus for the
"Under such corroding and continual vexations," says his Biographer, "an ordinary spirit would have sunk at length; would have gradually given up its loftier aspirations, and sought refuge in vicious indulgence, or at best have sullenly harnessed itself into the yoke, and plodded through existence; weary, discontented, and broken, ever casting back a hankering look on the dreams of his youth, and ever without power to realize them. But Schiller was no ordinary character, and did not act like one. Beneath a cold and simple exterior, dignified with no artificial attractions, and marred in its native amiableness by the incessant obstruction, the isolation and painful destitutions under which he lived, there was concealed a burning energy of soul, which no obstruction could extinguish. The hard circumstances of his fortune had prevented the natural development of his mind; his faculties had been cramped and misdirected; but they had gathered strength by opposition and the habit of self-dependence which it encouraged. His thoughts, unguided by a teacher, had sounded into the depths of his own nature and the mysteries of his own fate; his feelings and passions, unshared, by any other heart, had been driven back upon his own; where, like the volcanic fire that smoulders and fuses in secret, they accumulated till their force grew irresistible.
"Hitherto Schiller had passed for an unprofitable, discontented, and a disobedient Boy: but the time was now come when the gyves of school-discipline could no longer cripple and distort the giant might of his nature: he stood forth as a Man, and wrenched asunder his fetters with a force that was felt at the extremities of Europe. The publication of the Robbers forms an era not only in Schiller's history, but in the literature of the World; and there seems no doubt that, but for so mean a cause as the perverted discipline of the Stutt gard school, we had never seen this tragedy. Schiller commenced it in his nineteenth year; and the circumstances under which it was composed are to be traced in all its parts.
"Translations of the work soon appeared in almost all the languages of Europe, and
executed (we have been told) in Edinburgh by a "Lord *Our English translation, one of the washiest, was of Session," otherwise not unknown in Literature: who
were read in almost all of them with a deep | a sort of jackall, at Ludwigsburg, one Walter, interest, compounded of admiration and aver- whose name deserves to be thus kept in mind, sion, according to the relative proportions of volunteered to plead their cause before the sensibility and judgment in the various minds Grand Duke. which contemplated the subject. In Germany, the enthusiasm which the Robbers excited was extreme. The young author had burst upon the world like a meteor; and surprise, for a time, suspended the power of cool and rational criticism. In the ferment produced by the universal discussion of this single topic, the poet was magnified above his natural dimensions, great as they were: and though the general sentence was loudly in his favour, yet he found detractors as well as praisers, and both equally beyond the limits of moderation.
"But the tragedy of the Robbers produced for its Author some consequences of a kind much more sensible than these. We have called it the signal of Schiller's deliverance from school tyranny and military constraint; but its operation in this respect was not immediate. At first it seemed to involve him more deeply than before. He had finished the original sketch of it in 1778; but for fear of offence, he kept it secret till his medical studies were completed. These, in the mean time, he had pursued with sufficient assiduity to merit the usual honours. In 1780, he had, in consequence, obtained the post of Surgeon to the regiment Augé, in the Wurtemberg army. This advancement enabled him to complete his project, to print the Robbers at his own expense; not being able to find any bookseller that would undertake it. The nature of the work, and the universal interest it awakened, drew attention to the private circumstances of the Author, whom the Robbers, as well as other pieces of his writing that had found their way into the periodical publications of the time, sufficiently showed to be no common man. Many grave persons were offended at the vehement sentiments expressed in the Robbers; and the unquestioned ability with which these extravagances were expressed but made the matter worse. To Schiller's superiors, above all, such things were inconceivable; he might perhaps be a very great genius, but was certainly a dangerous servant for His Highness, the Grand Duke of Wurtemberg. Officious people mingled themselves in the affair: nay, the graziers of the Alps were brought to bear upon it. The Grisons' magistrates, it appeared, had seen the book, and were mortally huffed at their people's being there spoken of, according to a Swabian adage, as common highwaymen. They complained in the Hamburg Correspondent; and
went to work under deepest concealment, lest evil might befal him. The confidential Devil, now an Angel, who mysteriously carried him the proof-sheets, is our in
The obnoxious passage has been carefully expunged from subsequent editions. It was in the third Scene of the second Act. Spiegelberg, discoursing with Razmann, observes, “An honest man you may form of windle-straws; but to make a rascal you must have grist: besides there is a national genius in it--a certain rascal-climate, so to speak." In the first Edition there was added, "Go to the Grisons, for instance; that is what I call the Thief's Athens." The patriot who stood forth, on this occasion, for the honour of the Grisons, to deny this weighty charge, and denounce the crime of making it, was (not Dogberry or Verges, but) "one of the noble family of Salis."
"Informed of all these circumstances, the Grand Duke expressed disapprobation of Schiller's poetical labours in the most unequivocal terms. Schiller was at length summoned before him; and it then turned out, that his Highness was not only dissatisfied with the moral or political errors of the work, but scandalized moreover at its want of literary merit. In this latter respect, he was kind enough to proffer his own services. But Schiller seems to have received the proposal with no sufficient gratitude; and the interview passed without advantage to either party. It terminated in the Duke's commanding Schiller to abide by medical subjects: or at least, to beware of writing any more poetry, without submitting it to his inspection.
"Various new mortifications awaited Schiller. It was in vain that he discharged the humble duties of his station with the most strict fidelity, and even, it is said, with superior skill: he was a suspected person, and his most innocent actions were misconstrued, his slightest faults were visited with the full mea sure of official severity. His free spirit shrunk at the prospect of wasting its strength in strife against the pitiful constraints, the minute and endless persecutions of men, who knew him not, yet had his fortune in their hands: the idea of dungeons and jailers haunted and tortured his mind; and the means of escaping them, the renunciation of poetry, the source of all his joy, if likewise of many woes, the radiant guiding-star of his turbid and obscure existence, seemed a sentence of death to all that was dignified, and delightful, and worth retaining, in his character. With the natural feeling of a young author, he had ventured to go in secret, and witness the first representation of his Tragedy, at Manheim. His incognito did not conceal him; he was put under arrest, during a week, for this offence: and as the punishment did not deter him from again transgressing in a similar manner, he learned that it was in contempla tion to try more rigorous measures with him. Dark hints were given to him of some exem plary as well as imminent severity: and Dalberg's aid, the sole hope of averting it by quiet means, was distant and dubious. Schiller saw himself reduced to extremities. Beleaguered with present distresses, and the most horrible forebodings, on every side; roused to the highest pitch of indignation, yet forced to keep silence, and wear the face of patience, he could endure this maddening constraint no longer. He resolved to be free, at whatever risk; to abandon advantages which he could not buy at such a price; to quit his step-dame home, and go forth, though friendless and alone, to seek his fortune in the great market of life. Some foreign Duke or Prince was arriving at Stutt gard; and all the people were in movement, witnessing the spectable of his entrance: Schil ler seized this opportunity of retiring from the city, careless whither he went, so he got be
yond the reach of turnkeys, and Grand Dukes, | done, these secular Inquisitors meant honestly and commanding officers. It was in the month of October, 1782, his twenty-third year."-Life of Schiller, Part I.
in persecuting; and since the matter went well in spite of them, their interference with it may be forgiven and forgotten. We have dwelt the longer on these proceedings of theirs, because they bring us to the grand crisis of Schiller's history, and for the first time show us his will decisively asserting itself, decisively pronouncing the law whereby his whole future life is to be governed. He himself says, he "went empty away; empty in purse and hope." Yet the mind that dwelt in him was still there with its gifts; and the task of his existence now lay undivided before him. He is henceforth a Literary Man; and need appear in no other character. "All my connections," he could ere long say, "are now dissolved. The public is now all to me; my study, my sovereign, my confidant. To the public alone I from this time belong; before this and no other tribunal will I place myself; this alone do I reverence and fear. Something majestic hovers before me, as I determine now to wear no other fetters but the sentence of the world, to appeal to no other throne but the soul of man."
Such were the circumstances under which Schiller rose to manhood. We see them permanently influence his character; but there is also a strengh in himself which on the whole triumphs over them. The kindly and the unkindly alike lead him towards the goal. In childhood, the most unheeded, but by far the most important era of existence,-as it were, the still Creation-days of the whole future man, -he had breathed the only wholesome atmosphere, a soft atmosphere of affection and joy: the invisible seeds which are one day to ripen into clear Devoutness, and all humane Virtue, are happily sown in him. Not till he has gathered force for resistance, does the time of contradiction, of being "purified by suffering," arrive. For this contradiction, too, we have to thank those Stuttgard Schoolmasters and their purblind Duke. Had the system they followed been a milder, more reasonable one, we should not indeed have altogether lost our Poet, for the Poetry lay in his inmost soul, and could not remain unuttered; but we might well have found him under a far inferior character; not dependent on himself and truth, but dependent on the world and its gifts; not standing on a native, everlasting basis, but on an accidental, transient one.
In his subsequent life, with all varieties of outward fortune, we find a noble inward unity. That love of Literature, and that resolution to abide by it at all hazards, do not forsake him. He wanders through the world, looks at it under many phases; mingles in the joys of In Schiller himself, as manifested in these social life; is a husband, father; experiences emergencies, we already trace the chief fea- all the common destinies of man; but the same tures which distinguish him through life. A "radiant guiding-star" which, often obscured, tenderness, a sensitive delicacy, aggravated had led him safe through the perplexities of under that harsh treatment, issues in a certain his youth, now shines on him with unwavering shyness and reserve: which, as conjoined light. In all relations and conditions, Schiller moreover with habits of internal and not of ex- is blameless, amiable; he is even little tempted ternal activity, might in time have worked to err. That high purpose after spiritual peritself, had his natural temper been less warm fection, which with him was a love of Poetry, and affectionate, into timorous self-seclusion, and an unwearied, active love, is itself, when dissociality, and even positive misanthropy. pure and supreme, the necessary parent of Nay, generally viewed, there is much in Schil-good conduct, as of noble feeling. With all ler at this epoch that to a careless observer men it should be pure and supreme; for in on? might have passed for weakness; as indeed, or the other shape it is the true end of man's for such observers, weakness, and fineness of life. Neither in any man is it ever wholly nature are easily confounded. One element obliterated; with the most, however, it remains of strength, however, and the root of all a passive sentiment, an idle wish. And even strength, he throughout evinces: he wills one with the small residue of men in whom it thing, and knows what he wills. His mind attains some measure of activity, who would has a purpose, and still better, a right purpose. be Poets in act or word, how seldom is it the He already loves true spiritual Beauty, with sincere and highest purpose, how seldom unhis whole heart and his whole soul; and for mixed with vulgar ambition, and low, mere the attainment, for the pursuit of this, is pre- earthly aims, which distort or utterly pervert pared to make all sacrifices. As a dim instinct, its manifestations! With Schiller, again, it, under vague forms, this aim first appears; was the one thing needful; the first duty, for gains force with his force, clearness in the op- which all other duties worked together, under position it must conquer; and at length declares which all other duties quietly prospered, as itself, with a peremptory emphasis which will under their rightful sovereign. Worldly pre admit of no contradiction. ferment, fame itself, he did not covet: yet of fame he reaps the most plenteous harvest; and of worldly goods what little he wanted is in the end made sure to him. His mild, honest character everywhere gains him friends: that upright, peaceful, simple life is honourable in the eyes of all; and they who know him the best love him the most. Perhaps, among all the circumstances of
As a mere piece of literary history, these passages of Schiller's life are not without interest; this is a "persecution for consciencesake," such as has oftener befallen heresy in Religion, than heresy in Literature; a blind struggle to extinguish, by physical violence, the inward, celestial light of a human soul; and here in regard to Literature, as in regard to Religion, it always is an ineffectual struggle. Doubtless, as religious Inquisitors have often
Preface to the Thalia.