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est sympathies. His soul seems once to have been rich and glorious, like the garden of Eden, but the desart-wind has passed over it, and smitten it with perpetual blight. Despair has overshadowed all the fair visions of his youth; or if he hopes, it is but the gleam of delirium, which something sterner than even duty extinguishes in the cold darkness of death. His energy survives but to vent itself in wild gusts of reckless passion, or aimless indignation. There is a touching poignancy in his expression of the bitter melancholy that oppresses him, in the fixedness of misery with which he looks upon the faded dreams of former years, or the fierce ebullitions and dreary pauses of resolution, which now prompts him to retrieve what he has lost, now withers into powerlessness, as nature and reason tell him that it cannot, must not be retrieved.
Elizabeth, no less moving and attractive, is also depicted with masterly skill. If she returns the passion of her amiable and once betrothed lover, we but guess at the fact; for so horrible a thought has never once been whispered to her own gentle and spotless mind. Yet her heart bleeds for Carlos; and we see that did not the most sacred feelings of humanity forbid her, there is no sacrifice she would not make to restore his peace of mind. By her soothing influence she strives to calm the agony of his spirit; by her mild winning eloquence she would persuade him, that for Don Carlos other objects must remain, when his hopes of personal felicity have been cut off; she would change his love for her into love for the millions of human beings whose destiny depends on his. A meek vestal, yet with the prudence of a queen, and the courage of a matron, with every graceful and generous quality of womanhood, harmoniously blended in her nature, she lives in a scene that is foreign to her; the happiness she should have had is beside her, the misery she must endure is around her; yet she utters no regret, gives way to no complaint, but seeks to draw from duty itself a compensation for the cureless evil which duty has inflicted. Many tragic queens are more imposing and majestic than this
Elizabeth of Schiller; but there is none who rules over us with a sway so soft and feminine, none whom we feel so much disposed to love as well as reverence.
The virtues of Elizabeth are heightened by comparison with the principles and actions of her attendant, the Princess Eboli. The character of Eboli is full of pomp and profession; magnanimity and devotedness are on her tongue, some shadow of them even floats in her imagination; but they are not rooted in her heart; pride, selfishness, unlawful passion are the only inmates there. Her lofty boastings of generosity are soon forgot when the success of her attachment to Carlos becomes hopeless: the fervour of a selfish love once extinguished in her bosom, she regards the object of it with none but vulgar feelings. Virtue no longer according with interest, she ceases to be virtuous; from a rejected mistress, the transition to a jealous spy is with her natural and easy.
Yet we do not hate the princess; there is a seductive warmth and grace about her character, which makes us lament her vices rather than condemn them. The poet has drawn her at once false and fair.
In delineating Eboli and Philip, Schiller seems as if struggling against the current of his nature: our feelings towards them are hardly so severe as he intended; their words and deeds, at least those of the latter, are wicked and repulsive enough; but we still have a kind of latent persuasion that they meant better than they spoke or acted. With the Marquis of Posa, he had a more genial task. This Posa, we can easily perceive, is the representative of Schiller himself. The ardent love of men, which forms his ruling passion, was likewise the constant feeling of his author; the glowing eloquence with which he advocates the cause of truth, and justice, and humanity, was such as Schiller too would have employed in similar circumstances. In some respects, Posa is the chief character of the piece; there is a preeminent magnificence in his object, and in the faculties and feelings with which he follows it. Of a splendid intellect, and a daring devoted heart, his powers are all combined upon a single purpose. Even his friendship
for Carlos, grounded on the likeness
a charge which Posa rebuts with
Had the character of Posa been drawn ten years later, it would have been imputed, as all things are, to the "French revolution ;" and Schiller himself perhaps might have been called a Jacobin. Happily, as matters stand, there is room for no such imputation. It is pleasing to behold in Posa the deliberate expression of a great and good man's sentiments on these ever agitated subjects; a noble monument, embodying the liberal ideas of his age, in a form beautified by his own genius, and lasting as its other products.
Connected with the superior excellence of Posa, critics have remarked a dramatic error, which the author himself was the first to acknowledge and account for. magnitude of Posa throws Carlos into the shade; the hero of the first three acts is no longer the hero of the other two. The cause of this, we are informed, was that Schiller kept the work too long upon his hands.
In composing the piece (he observes), many interruptions occurred; so that a considerable time elapsed between beginning and concluding it; and, in the meanwhile, much within myself had changed. The various alterations, which during this
period, my way of thinking and feeling underwent, naturally told upon the work I was engaged with. What parts of it had at first attracted me, began to produce this effect in a weaker degree, and, in the end, scarcely at all. New ideas, springing up in the interim, displaced the former ones; Carlos himself had lost my favour, perhaps
for no other reason, than because I had become his senior; and, from the opposite cause, Posa had occupied his place. Thus I commenced the fourth and fifth acts with quite an altered heart. But the first three were already in the hands of the public; the plan of the whole could not now be reformed; nothing therefore remained but to suppress the piece entirely, or to fit the second half to the first, the best way I could. The imperfection alluded to is one of which the general reader will make no great account: the second half is fitted to the first with address enough for his purposes. Intent not upon applying the dramatic gauge, but on being moved and exalted, we may peruse the tragedy without noticing that any such defect exists in it. The pity and love we are at first taught to feel for Carlos abide with us to the last; and though Posa rises in importance as the piece proceeds, our admiration of his transcendant virtues does not obstruct the gentler feelings with which we look upon the fate of his friend. A certain confusion, and crowding together of events, about the end of the play, is the only fault in the plan that strikes us with any force. Even this is little more than barely perceptible.
An intrinsic and weightier defect is the want of ease and lightness in the general composition of the piece; a defect which all its other excel lencies will not prevent us from observing. There is action enough in the plot, energy enough in the dialogue, and abundance of individual beauties in both; but there is throughout a certain air of stiffness and effort, which abstracts from the theatrical illusion. The characters do not, as it were, verify their human nature, by those thousand little touches and nameless turns, which distinguish the genius essentially dramatic from the genius merely poe tical; the Proteus of the stage from the philosophic observer and trained imitator of life. We have not those careless felicities, those varyings from high to low, that air of living freedom, which Shakspeare has accus
tomed us, like spoiled children, to look for in every perfect work of this species. Schiller is too elevated, too regular and sustained in his elevation, to be altogether natural.
Yet with all this, Carlos is a noble tragedy. There is a stately massiveness about the structure of it; the incidents are grand and affecting; the characters powerful, vividly conceived, and impressively if not completely delineated. Of wit and its kindred graces Schiller has but, a slender share: nor among great poets is he much distinguished for depth or him a place of his own, and the fineness of pathos. But what gives loftiest of its kind, is the vastness and intense vigour of his mind; the splendour of his thoughts and imagery, and the bold vehemence of his passion for the true and the sublime, under all their various forms. He does not thrill, but he exalts us. His genius is impetuous, exuberant, majestic; and a heavenly fire gleams through all its creations. He transports us into a holier and higher world than our own; every thing around us breathes of force and solemn beauty. The looks of his he roes may be more staid than those of men, the movements of their minds may be slower and more calculated; but we yield to the potency of their endowments, and the loveliness of the scene which they animate. The enchantments of the poet are strong enough to silence our scepticism: we forbear to inquire whether it is true or false.
The celebrity of Alfieri generally invites the reader of Don Carlos to compare it with Filippo. Both writers treat the same subject; both borrow their materials from the same source
the nouvelle historique of St. Réal : but it is impossible that two powerful minds could have handled one given idea in more diverse manners. Their excellencies are, in fact, so opposite, that they scarcely come in competition. Alfieri's play is short, and the characters are few. He describes no scene: his personages are not the King of Spain and his courtiers, but merely men; their place of action is not the Escurial or Madrid, but a vacant, objectless platform anywhere in space. In all this, Schiller has a manifest advantage. He paints manners and opinions, he sets before us a
striking pageant, which interests us of itself, and gives a new interest to whatever is combined with it. The principles of the antique, or perhaps rather of the French drama, upon which Alfieri worked, permitted no such delineation. In the style there is the same diversity. A severe simplicity uniformly marks Alfieri's style; in his whole tragedy there is not a single figure. A hard emphatic brevity is all that distinguishes his language from that of prose. Schiller, we have seen, abounds with noble metaphors, and all the warm exciting eloquence of poetry. It is only in expressing the character of Philip that Alfieri has a clear superiority. Without the aid of superstition, which his rival, especially in the catastrophe, employs to such advantage, Alfieri has exhibited in his Filippo a picture of unequalled power. Obscurity is justly said to be essential to terror and sublimity; and Schiller has enfeebled the effect of his tyrant, by letting us behold the most secret recesses of his spirit: we understand him better, but we fear him less. Alfieri does not show us the internal combination of Filippo; it is from its workings alone, that we judge of his nature. Mystery, and the shadow of horrid cruelty, brood over his Filippo: it is only a transient word or act, that gives us here and there a glimpse of his fierce, implacable, tremendous soul; a short and dubious glimmer that reveals to us the abysses of his being, dark, lurid, and terrific,
the throat of the infernal Pool." Alfieri's Filippo is about the most wicked man that human imagination has conceived.
Alfieri and Schiller were again unconscious competitors, in the history of Mary Stuart. But the works before us give a truer specimen of their comparative merits. Schiller seems to have the greater genius; Alfieri the more commanding character. Alfieri's greatness rests on the stern concentration of fiery passion, under the dominion of an adamantine will: this was his own make of mind; and he represents it, with strokes in themselves devoid of charm, but in their union, terrible as a prophetic scroll. Schiller's moral force is commensurate with his intellectual gifts, and nothing more. The mind of the
one is like the ocean, beautiful in its strength, smiling in the radiance of summer, and washing luxuriant and romantic shores: that of the other is like some black unfathomable lake placed far amid the melancholy mountains; bleak, solitary, desolate; but girdled with grim sky-piercing cliffs, overshadowed with storms, and illuminated only by the red glare of the lightning. Schiller is magnificent in his expansion; Alfieri is overpowering in his condensed energy: the first inspires us with greater admiration; the last with greater awe.
This tragedy of Carlos was received with immediate and universal approbation. In the closet, and on the stage, it excited the warmest applauses, equally among the learned and unlearned. Schiller's expectations had not been so high: he knew both the excellencies and the faults of his work; but he had not anticipated that the former would be so instantaneously recognised. The pleasure of this new celebrity came upon him, therefore, heightened by surprise. Had dramatic eminence been, his sole object, he might now have slackened his exertions; the public had already ranked him as the first of their writers in that favourite department. But this limited ambition was not his moving principle; nor was his mind of that sort for which rest is provided in this world. The primary disposition of his nature urged him to perpetual toil: the great aim of his life, the unfolding of his mental powers, was of those which admit but a relative not an absolute progress. New ideas of perfection arise as the former have been reached: the student is always attaining, never has attained.
Schiller's worldly circumstances, too, were of a kind well calculated to prevent excess of quietism. He was still drifting at large on the tide of life: he was crowned with laurels, but without a home. His heart, warm and affectionate, fitted to enjoy the domestic blessings which it longed for, was allowed to form no permanent attachment: he felt that he was unconnected, solitary in the world; cut off from the exercise of his kindlier sympathies; or if tasting such pleasures, it was "snatching them rather than partaking of them calmly." The vulgar desire of wealth
and station never entered his mind for an instant: but as years were added to his age, the delights of peace and continuous comfort were fast becoming more acceptable than any other; and he looked with anxiety to have a resting-place amid his wanderings, to be a man among his fellow men.
For all these wishes, Schiller saw that the only chance of fulfilment depended on unwearied perseverance in his literary occupations. Yet though his activity was unabated, and the calls on it were increasing rather than diminished, its direction was gradually changing. The drama had long been stationary, and of late been falling in his estimation: the difficulties of the art, as he viewed it at present, had been overcome, and new conquests invited him in other quarters. The latter part of Carlos he had written as a task rather than a pleasure; he contemplated no farther undertaking connected with the stage. For a time, indeed, he seems to have wavered among a multiplicity of enterprizes; now solicited to this, and now to that, without being able to fix decidedly on any. The restless ardour of his mind is evinced by the number and variety of his attempts; its fluctuation by the circumstance that all of them are either short in extent, or left in the state of fragments. Of the former kind are his lyrical productions, many of which were composed about this period, during intervals from more serious labours. The character of these performances is such as his former writings gave us reason to expect. With a deep insight into life, and a keen and comprehensive sympathy with its sorrows and enjoyments, there is combined that impetuosity of feeling, that swelling pomp of thought and imagery which belong to Schiller. If he had now left the drama, it was clear that his mind was still overflowing with the elements of poetry; dwelling among the grandest conceptions, and the boldest or finest emotions; thinking intensely and profoundly, but decorating its thoughts with those graces, which other faculties than the understanding are required to afford them. With these smaller pieces, Schiller occupied himself at intervals of leisure throughout the remainder of his
life. Some of them are to be classed among the most finished efforts of his genius. The Walk, the Song of the Bell, contain exquisite delineations of the fortunes and history of man; the Ritter Toggenburg is one of the most tender and beautiful ballads to be found in any language.
Of these poems, the most noted written about this time, the Freethinking of Passion, (Freygeisterey der Leidenschaft) is said to have originated in a real attachment. The lady, whom some biographers of Schiller introduce to us, by the mysterious designation of the "Fräulein A***, one of the first beauties in Dresden," seems to have made a deep impression on the heart of the poet. They tell us that she sat for the picture of the Princess Eboli, in his Don Carlos; that he paid his court to her with the most impassioned fervour, and the extreme of generosity. They add one or two anecdotes of dubious authenticity; which, as they illustrate nothing, but show us only that love could make Schiller crazy, as it is said to make all gods and men, we shall use the freedom to omit.
This enchanting and not inexorable spinster perhaps displaced the Manheim Laura from her throne; but the gallant assiduities, which she required or allowed, seem not to have abated the zeal of her admirer in his more profitable undertakings. Her reign, we suppose, was brief, and without abiding influence. Schiller never wrote or thought with greater diligence than while at Dresden. Partially occupied with conducting his Thalia, or with those more slight poetical performances, his mind was hovering among a multitude of weightier plans, and seizing with avidity any hint that might assist in directing its attempts. To this state of feeling, we are probably indebted for the Geisterseher, a novel, naturalized in our circulating libraries, by the title of the Ghost-seer, two volumes of which were published about this time. The king of quacks, the renowned Cagliostro was now playing his dextrous game at Paris; harrowing up the souls of the curious and gullible monde of that capital, by various thaumaturgic feats; raising the dead from their graves; and, what was more to the