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harassed, chagrined, debased or maddened; the victim at once of tragedy and farce; the last forlorn outpost in the war of mind against matter. Many are the noble souls that have perished bitterly, with their tasks unfinished, under these corroding woes: some in utter famine, like Otway; some in dark insanity, like Cowper and Collins; some like Chatterton have sought out a more stern quietus, and turning their indignant steps away from a world which refused them welcome, have taken refuge in that strong fortress, where poverty and cold neglect, and the thousand natural shocks which flesh is heir to could not reach them any more.
their conduct than their writings. Such men are the flower of this lower world: to such alone can the epithet of great be applied with its true emphasis. There is a congruity in their proceedings which one loves to contemplate: " he who would write heroic poems, should make his whole life a heroic poem."
So thought our Milton, and, what' was more difficult, he acted so. To. Milton, the moral king of authors, an heroic multitude out of many ages and countries might be joined; a "cloud of witnesses," that encompass the true literary man throughout his pilgrimage, inspiring him to lofty emulation, cheering his solitary thoughts with hope, teaching him to struggle, to endure to conquer difficulties, or, in failure and heavy sufferings, to" arm th' obdured breast with stubborn patience as with triple steel." To this august series, in his own degree, the name of Schiller may be added.
Yet among these men are to be found the brightest specimens and the chief benefactors of mankind! It is they that keep awake the finer parts of our souls; that give us better aims than power or pleasure, and withstand the total sovereignty of Mammon in this earth. They are the vanguard in the march of mind; the intellectual Backwoodsmen, reclaiming from the idle wilderness new territories for the thought and the activity of their happier brethren. Pity that from all their conquests, so rich in benefit to others, themselves should reap so little! But it is vain to murmur. They are volunteers in this cause; they weighed the charms of it against the perils; and they must abide the results of their decision, as all must. The hardships of the course they follow are formidable, but not all inevitable; and to such as pursue it rightly, it is not without its great rewards. If an author's life is more agitated and more painful than that of others, it may also be made more spirit-stirring and exalted: fortune may render him unhappy; it is only himself that can make him despicable. The history of genius has, in fact, its bright side as well as its dark. And if it is distressing to survey the misery, and what is worse, the debasement of so many gifted men, it is doubly cheer ing on the other hand to reflect on the few, who, amid the temptations and sorrows to which life in all its provinces and most in theirs is liable, have travelled through it in calm and virtuous majesty, and are now hallowed in our memories, not less for
Schiller lived in more peaceful times than Milton; his history is less distinguished by obstacles surmounted, or sacrifices made to principle: yet he had his share of trials to encounter; and the admirers of his works need not feel ashamed of the way in which he bore it. One virtue, the parent of many others, and the most essential of any, in his circumstances, he possessed in a supreme degree; he was devoted with entire and unchanging ardour to the cause he had embarked in. The extent of his natural endowments might have served, with a less eager character, as an excuse for long periods of indolence, broken only by fits of casual exertion: with him it was but a new incitement to improve and develope them. The ideal man that lay within him, the image of himself as he should be, was formed upon a strict and curious standard; and to reach this constantly ap proached and constantly receding emblem of perfection, was the unwearied effort of his life. This crowning principle of conduct, never ceasing to inspire his energetic mind, introduced a consistency into his actions, a firm coherence into his character, which the changeful condition of his history rendered of peculiar importance. His resources, his place of residence, his associates, his
worldly prospects, might vary as they pleased; this purpose did not vary; it was ever present with him to nerve every better faculty of his head and heart, to invest the checquered vicissitudes of his fortune with a dignity derived from himself. The zeal of his nature overcame the temptations to that loitering and indecision, that fluctuation between sloth and consuming toil, that infirmity of resolution, with all its tormenting and enfeebling consequences, to which a literary man, working as he does at a solitary task, uncalled for by any pressing tangible demand, and to be recompensed by distant and dubious advantage, is especially exposed. Unity of aim, aided by ordinary vigour of character, will generally ensure perseverance; a quality not ranked among the cardinal virtues, but as essential as any of them to the proper conduct of life. Ninetenths of the miseries and vices of mankind proceed from idleness: with men of quick minds, to whom it is especially pernicious, this habit is commonly the fruit of many disappointments and schemes oft baffled; and men fail in their schemes, not so much from the want of strength as from the ill direction of it. The weakest living creature, by concentrating his powers on a single object, can accomplish something; the strongest, by dispersing his over many, may fail to accomplish any thing. The drop, by continual falling, bores its passage through the hardest rock; the hasty torrent rushes over it with hideous uproar, and leaves no trace behind. Few men have applied more steadfastly to the business of their life, or been more resolutely diligent than Schiller.
merely as a mental recreation, a elegant and pleasant mode of filling up the vacancy of tedious evenings: in Germany, it has the advantage of being comparatively new; and its exhibitions are directed to a class of minds attuned to a far higher pitch of feeling. The Germans are accused of a proneness to amplify and systematize, to admire with excess, and to find in whatever calls forth their applause an epitome of a thousand excellences, which no one else can discover in it. Their discussions on the theatre do certainly give, co lour to this charge. Nothing, at least to an English reader, can ap→ pear more disproportionate than the influence they impute to the stage, and the quantity of anxious inves tigation they devote to its concerns. With us, the question about the moral tendency of theatrical amusements is now very generally con signed to the meditation of debating clubs, and speculative societies of young men under age: with our neighbours it is a weighty subject of inquiry for minds of almost the highe est order. With us, the stage is con sidered as a harmless pastime, wholesome because it occupies the man by occupying his mental not his sensual faculties; one of the many depart❤ ments of fictitious representation; perhaps the most exciting, but also the most transitory; sometimes hurtful, generally beneficial, just as the rest are; entitled to no peculiar regard, and far inferior in its effect to many others which have no special apparatus for their application. The Germans, on the contrary, talk of it as of some new organ for refining the hearts and minds of men; a sort of lay pulpit, the worthy ally of the sacred one, and perhaps even better fitted to exalt some of our nobler feelings; because its objects are much more varied, and because it speaks to us through many avenues, addressing the eye by its pomp and decorations, the ear by its harmonies, and the heart and the imagination by its poetical embellishments, and heroic acts and sentiments. Influences still more mysterious are hinted at, if not directly announced. An idea seems to lurk obscurely at the bottom of certain of their abstruse and elaborate speculations, as if the stage were destined to replace some of
The profession of theatrical poet was, in his present circumstances, particularly favourable to the maintenance of this wholesome state of mind. In the fulfilment of its duties, while he gratified his own dearest predilections, he was likewise warmly seconded by the prevailing taste of the public. The interest excited by the stage, and the importance attached to every thing connected with it, are greater in Germany than in any other part of Europe, not excepting France, or even Paris. Nor, as in Paris, is the stage in German towns considered
those sublime illusions, which the progress of reason is fast driving from the earth; as if its pageantry, and allegories, and figurative shadowing forth of things, might supply men's nature with much of that quickening nourishment which we once derived from the superstitions and mythologies of darker ages. Viewing the matter in this light, they proceed in the management of it with all due earnestness. Hence their minute and painful investigations of the origin of dramatic emotion, of its various kinds and degrees; their subdivisions of romantic and heroic and romantico-heroic, and the other endless jargon that encumbers their critical writings. The zeal of the people corresponds with that of their instructors. The want of more important public interests naturally contributes still farther to the prominence of this, the discussion of which is not forbidden, or sure to be without effect. Literature attracts nearly all the powerful thought that circulates in Germany; and the theatre is the great nucleus of German literature.
It was to be expected that Schiller would participate in a feeling so universal, and so accordant with his own wishes and prospects. The theatre of Manheim was, at that period, one of the best in Germany; he felt proud of the share which he had in conducting it, and exerted himself with his usual alacrity in promoting its various objects. Connected with the duties of his office, was the more personal duty of improving his own faculties, and extending his knowledge of the art which he had engaged to cultivate. He read much, and studied more. The perusal of Corneille, Racine, Voltaire, and the other French classics, could not be without advantage to one whose exuberance of power, and defect of taste, were the only faults he had ever been reproached with; and the sounder ideas thus acquired, he was constantly busy in exemplifying by attempts of his own. His projected translations from Shakspeare, and the French, were postponed for the present; indeed, except in the instance of Macbeth, they were never finished: his Conradin von Schwaben, and a second part of the Robbers, were likewise abandoned: but a number
of minor undertakings sufficiently evinced his diligence; and Don Carlos, which he had now seriously commenced, was occupying all his poetical faculties.
Another matter he had much at heart was the setting forth of a periodical work, devoted to the concerns of the stage. In this enterprise, Schiller had expected the patronage and co-operation of the German society, of which he was member. It did not strike him that any other motive than a genuine love of art, and a zeal for its advancement, could have induced men to join such a body. But the zeal of the German society was more according to knowledge than that of their new associate: they listened with approving ear to his vivid representations, and wide-spreading projects, but declined taking any part in the execution of them. Dalberg alone seemed willing to support him. Mortified, but not disheartened by their coldness, Schiller reckoned up his means of succeeding without them. The plan of his work was contracted within narrower limits; he determined to commence it on his own resources. After much delay, the first number of the Rheinische Thalia, enriched by three acts of Don Carlos, appeared in 1785. It was continued, with one short interruption, till 1794. The main purpose of the work being the furtherance of dramatic art, and the extension and improvement of the public taste for such entertainments, its chief contents are easy to be guessed at; theatrical criticisms, essays on the nature of the stage, its history in various countries, its moral and intellectual effects, and the best methods of producing them. A part of the publication was open to poetry and miscellaneous discussion.
Meditating so many subjects so assiduously, Schiller knew not what it was to be unemployed. Yet the task of composing dramatic varieties, of training players, and deliberating in the theatrical senate, or even of expressing philosophically his opinions on these points, could not wholly occupy such a mind as his. There were times when, notwithstanding his own prior habits, and all the vaunting of dramaturgists, he felt that their scenic glories were but an empty show, a lying refuge, where
there was no abiding rest for the soul. His eager spirit turned away from their paltry world of pasteboard, to dwell among the deep and serious interests of the living world of men. The Thalia, besides its dramatic speculations and performances, contains several of his poems, which indicate that his attention, though officially directed elsewhere, was alive to all the common concerns of humanity; that he looked on life not more as a writer than as a man. The Laura, whom he celebrates, was not a vision of the mind; but a living fair one, whom he saw daily, and loved in the secrecy of his heart. His Gruppe aus dem Tartarus (Group from Tartarus), his Kindesmörderinn (Infanticide), are products of a mind brooding over dark and mysterious things. While improving in the art of poetry, in the capability of uttering his thoughts in the form best adapted to express them, he was likewise improving in the more valuable art of thought itself; and applying it not only to the business of the imagination, but also to those profound and solemn inquiries, which every reasonable mortal is called to engage with.
In particular, the Philosophische Briefe, written about this period, exhibits Schiller in a new and to us more interesting point of view. Julius and Raphael are the emblems of his own fears and his own hopes; their Philosophic Letters unfold to us many a gloomy conflict that had passed in the secret chambers of their author's soul. Sceptical doubts on the most important of all subjects were natural to such an understanding as Schiller's; but his heart was not of a temper to rest satisfied with doubts; or to draw a sorry compensation for them from the pride of superior acuteness, or the vulgar plea sure of producing an effect on others by assailing their dearest and holiest persuasions. With him, the question about the essence of our being was not a subject for shallow speculation, charitably named scientific; still less for vain jangling and polemical victories: it was a fearful mystery, which it concerned all the deepest sympathies and most sublime anticipations of his mind to have explained. It is no idle curiosity,
but the shuddering voice of nature that asks: "If our happiness depends on the harmonious play of the sensorium; if our conviction may waver with the heating of the pulse? What Schiller's ultimate opinions on these points were we are nowhere informed. That his heart was orthodox,-that the whole universe was for him a temple, in which he offered up the continual sacrifice of devout adoration, his works and life bear noble testimony; yet, here and there, his fairest visions seem as if suddenly sicklied over with a pale cast of doubt; a withering shadow seems to flit across his soul, and chill it in its loftiest moods. The dark condition of the man who longs to believe and longs in vain, he can represent with a verisimilitude and touching beauty, which shows it to have been familiar to himself. Apart from their ingenuity, there is a certain severe pathos in some of these passages, which affects us with a peculiar emotion. The hero of another work is made to express himself in these terms :—
What went before and what will fol low me, I regard as two black impene, trable curtains, which hang down at the two extremities of human life, and which hundreds of generations have already stood no living man has yet drawn aside. Many before them with their torches, guessing anxiously what lies behind. On the cur tain of Futurity, many see their own sha dows, the forms of their passions enlarged and put in motion: they shrink in terror at this image of themselves. Poets, philosophers, and founders of states, have painted this curtain with their dreams--more smiling or more dark, as the sky above them was cheerful or gloomy; and their pictures deceive when viewed from a distance. Many jugglers too make profit of this our universal curiosity; by their strange mummeries, they have set the outstretched fancy in astonishment. A deep silence reigns behind this curtain ; no one once within it will answer those he has left without; all you can hear is a hollow echo of your question, as if you shouted into a chasm, To the other side of this curtain we are all bound: men grasp hold of it as stand within it to receive them, quid sit id, they pass, trembling, uncertain who may quod tantum morituri vident. Some unbelieving people there have been who have maintained that this curtain but made a mockery of men, and that nothing could be seen because nothing was behind it :
but to convince these people, the rest have seized them and pushed them hastily in.* The Philosophic Letters paint the struggles of an ardent, enthusiastic, inquisitive spirit to deliver itself from the harassing uncertainties, to penetrate the dread obscurity, which over hangs the lot of man. The first faint scruples of the doubter are settled by the maxim: "Believe nothing but thy own reason; there is nothing holier than truth." But Reason, employed in such an inquiry, can do but half the work: she is like the conjuror that has pronounced the spell of invocation, but has forgot the counter word; spectres and shadowy forms come crowding at his summons; in endless multitudes they press and hover round his magic circle, and the terror-struck blackartist cannot lay them. Julius finds that on rejecting the primary dictates of feeling, the system of dogmatical belief, he is driven to the system of materialism. Recoiling in horror from this dead and cheerless creed, he toils and wanders in the labyrinths of pantheism, seeking comfort and rest, but finding none; till baffled and tired, and sick at heart, he seems inclined, as far as we can judge, to renounce the dreary problem altogether, to shut the eyes of his too keen understanding, and take refuge under the shade of Revelation. The anxieties and errors of Julius are described in glowing terms; his intellectual subtleties are mingled with the eloquence of intense feeling. The answers of his friend are in a similar style; intended not more to convince than to persuade. The whole work is full of passion as well as acuteness; the impress of a philosophic and poetic mind striving with all its vast energies to make its poetry and its philosophy agree. Considered as exhibiting the state of Schiller's thoughts at this period, it possesses a peculiar interest. In other respects, there is little in it to allure us. It is short and incomplete; there is little originality in the opinions it expresses, and none in the form of its composition. As an argument on either side, it is too rhetorical to be of much weight; it abandons the
inquiry when its difficulties and its value are becoming greatest, and breaks off abruptly without arriving at any conclusion. Schiller has surveyed the dark "Serbonian bog" of infidelity; but he has made no causeway through it: the Philosophic Letters are a fragment.
Amid employments so varied, with health, and freedom from the coarser hardships of life, Schiller's feelings might be earnest, but could scarcely be unhappy. His mild and amiable manners, united to such goodness of heart, and such height of accomplishment, endeared him to all classes of society in Manheim; Dalberg was still his warm friend; Schwann and Laura he conversed with daily. His genius was fast enlarging its empire, and fast acquiring more complete command of it; he was loved and admired, rich in the enjoyment of present activity and fame, and richer in the hope of what was coming. Yet in proportion as his faculties and his prospects expanded, he began to view his actual situation with less and less contentment. For a season after his arrival, it was natural that Manheim should appear to him as land does to the shipwrecked mariner,-full of gladness and beauty, merely because it is land. It was equally natural that, after a time, this sentiment should abate and pass away; that his place of refuge should appear but as other places-only with its difficulties and discomforts aggravated by their nearness. revenue was inconsiderable here, and dependent upon accidents for its continuance; a share in directing the concerns of a provincial theatre, a task not without its irritations, was little adequate to satisfy the wishes of a mind like his. Schiller longed for a wider sphere of action: the world was all before him; he lamented that he should still be lingering on the mere outskirts of its business; that he should waste so much time and effort in contending with the irascible vanity of players, or watching the ebbs and flows of public taste; in resisting small grievances, and realizing a small result. He determined upon leaving Manheim. If destitute of other holds,
* Der Geisterseher, Schillers Werke, B. iv. S. 350.