« AnteriorContinuar »
general benevolence than any determined preference; she considered herself, moreover, as consecrated to a man worthy to possess her, whose fate might, at any moment, be eternally united with hers. The air that surrounded her might be said to breathe serenity. It is a delightful sight to behold fathers and mothers devoting themselves wholly to their children; but it is something still more interesting to see a sister display a maternal affection towards her brothers and sisters. The former sentiment seems to be inspired by nature ani habit; the latter has more the appearance of free will and generous sensibility.
As a new comer, free from all engagements, I felt myself in full security in the presence of a young lady whose hand was engaged. She could not interpret the marks of the most perfect devotion as attempts to attach her to me; and she was therefore free to accept them as disinterested proofs of affection and esteem. I neither wished to be, nor could be more than her friend, and hence I was the more easily enthralled. The youthful couple showed a sincere friendship for me, and treated me with perfect confidence. I, who had hitherto been idle and absent, like a man dissatisfied with his condition, now found all I wanted in a female friend, who, although her thoughts were constantly fixed on the future, knew how to abandon herself to the present moment. She took pleasure in my company; and it was not long before I found it impossible to exist out of hers. I had daily opportunities of seeing her: we might all be said to live together, and we became almost inseparable, at home and abroad. As soon as business left the lover at liberty, he few to the presence of his mistress. Thus, without thinking of it, we all three accustomed ourselves to each other, and always found ourselves together, without having formed any plan for meeting. We lived together in this manner a whole summer, like the characters of a true German Idyl, the foundation of which was a fertile country, while a. pure, lively, and sincere attachment formed its poetry. We took walks amidst rich harvests, moistened by the copious dew of the morning; we listened to the cheerful song of the lark, and the quail's shrill cry. If the heat became oppressive, or a storm overtook us, we never thought of separating; and the charm of an affection, equally constant and tender, easily dispelled any little domestic anxieties. Thus one day succeeded another, aud all were holydays to us. Our whole calendar might have been printed in red letters. Whoever remembers the expressions of the happy and ill-fated lover of Julia will easily understand me. “Seated at the feet of my beloved, I shall peel hemp, and desire nothing further, this day, to-morrow, the day after-all my life.” I must now introduce a person whose name will hereafter appear
but too often; I mean Jerusalem, the son of the celebrated theologian. He held a place under the deputation. He was a middle-sized young man, but elegant, and of prepossessing appearance. His face was almost a perfect oval; his features delicate and mild, as we usually see them in a handsome fair-baired man: his blue eyes were rather beautiful than expressive. His dress was that of Lower Germany, and imitative of the English costume. He wore a blue frock, a yellow leather waistcoat, and boots with brown tops. We never visited each other, but I often met him in company. His manners were reserved, but amiable. He took an interest in the productions of the arts, and was fond of drawings or sketches representing the calm character of profound solitude. IIe
praised Gessner's engravings, and recommended the study of them. He seldom joined in social amusements, and was fond of living to himself and his own ideas. His attachment to the wife of one of his friends was talked of; but he was never seen in public with the object of his love. On the whole, people knew very little of his affairs, except that he devoted much time to the study of English literature. His father being rich, he did not take a very active part in business, or exert himself much to obtain an appointment.
Such, with a few verbal corrections of some errors in the translation, is the account of three of the personages from whom the leading characters in Werter were taken. A few years since Charlotte was living at Hanover, the mother of nine children. We ought perhaps to say one of the Charlottes; for Göthe informs us, in the present work, that he made a business to combine in the description of her person and character, traits which had fixed his admiration in various fair ladies of the day; and that as these were respectively recognised by their common friends, he was not a little annoyed by inquiries, which the real Charlotte was.
This work, as far as it can be called a biography, terminates, in the original, somewhat abruptly, with the third volume. A fourth has been published, as we observed, containing an account of the travels of Göthe in Italy, and possibly the series has been still farther continued. The work before us contains a translation only of the three first volumes. It is a translation apparently done by the job; and is not only full of errors in the meaning of words and construction of sentences, but is entirely destitute of the style and spirit of the original. With these great defects, however, it is valuable; and will be read with interest by all who feel a curiosity either in German literature in general, or the life of its Nestor. The volume is rendered considerably more useful by an Appendix, containing biographical notices of the principal persons named in it. This appendix appears to have been abstracted from a German Dictionary of authors of good authority, and though not very ample, either as to the number of articles it contains, or the amount of what is said of each, it will generally reward the English reader who may consult it. We close this article with an abstract of the life of Göthe, from the time when his own Memoirs stop, as it appears in the Postscript to the present volume.
From Joerden's Lexicon of German Authors, it appears that our author spent in Frankfort the year 1775 as well as 1774, towards the end of which he has chosen to take leave of his readers. Except the
accounts of his travels, there are no farther biographical materials from his own pen; and the supply from other sources is very scanty, and may consequently be stated within a small compass. But before the few facts which have been collected are detailed, the following description of the personal and mental qualities given of a man who holds so distinguished a rank in the literary world, by one of his contemporaries in early life, will perhaps be acceptable. It occurs in a letter written by Heinse to Gleim while Görhe was at Dusseldorff, which place he frequently visited during the years 1774 and 1775:—We have Göthe here at present. He is a handsome young man of twenty-five; all genius from top to toe, power, aud vigour;-with a heart full of feeling, a spirit of fire eagle-winged, qui ruit immensus ore profundo.” What is here said of the mind of Göthe appears still to be the general opinion of his countrymen. The author of the Lexicon above referred to, observes, that the account given by Heinse of his external appearance is confirmed by the testimony of all who knew him in his youth. “Indeed," adds Joerden, “ if we judge of him by what he now is, he must have been a remarkably fine-looking man. Old age has not impaired the dignity and grace of his deportment; and his truly Grecian head, large penetrating eyes, and elevated forehead, continue to rivet the attention of all who look on him.”
Charles Augustus, Duke of Saxe-Weimar, while hereditary prince, visited Frankfort: where Göthe, as has already been stated, was introduced to him. The result of the impression made by this meeting on the young prince, was the invitation of Göthe to Weimar; whither he went in the year 1776, and where he has since, with the exception of the time occupied by his journeys in France, Switzerland, and Italy, continued almost constantly to reside. Immediately on his arrival he was appointed a member of the Legislative Council, with a seat and vote in the Privy Council. In 1779, he became actually a member of the Privy Council, and in company with his patron undertook a second journey to Switzerland, where he had previously travelled in the year 1773 with the Counts Christian and Frederick Leopold Von Stolberg. On his return from his last Swiss tour, Goëthe devoted much of his attention to the business of the dutchy of Weimar. In 1782, letters patent of nobility were granted to him, and he was made President of the Council of State. Between the year 1774 and this period, however, several of the author's works were published; for the Duke was very far from wishing, by the appointments which have been enumerated, to divert the exercise of talents he so highly esteemed, from literary to political labour.
In 1786, Göthe undertook a journey to Italy; in visiting various parts of which, the island of Sicily included, he spent nearly three years. His stay at Rome occupied a considerable portion of his time; and with a mind stored with classical reminiscences and associations, he returned to Weimar in 1789. In 1792, the Duke of Weimar having joined the Prussian army which entered Champagne, Göthe accompanied him, and was a spectator of the events of that extraordinary campaign, in which the Prussian veterans, led by the Duke of Brunswick, were compelled to fly before the raw levies of Republican France. It is said, that since that period, our author has constantly lived at Weimar. In 1808, he received the cross of the Legion of Honour from the Emperor Napoleon ; and in the same year the Emperor of Russia conferred on him the order of St Alexander Newsky.
Weimar has been called the German Athens; a distinction which it in some measure merits, on account of the number of learned men there gathered together by the government, the liberality and enlightened views of which are worthy the imitation of the rulers of larger states. This little town is surrounded by elegant houses and delightful gardens. Ettersburgh, the Belvedere, Wilhelmsthal and Ilmenau, are to the Germans what the Portico, the Academic Groves, and the banks of the Cephisus and the Ilissus, were to the Greeks. Before the arrival of Göthe, Wieland, Bode, Musæus, and Bertuch had shed a lustre over this retreat of the German Muse. Herder and Schiller more recently joined the author of Werther. Weimar became the capital of a literary republic, which Knebel, Emsiedel, Segesmund Von Seckondorff, Bættiger, Bahrdt, the brothers Schlegel, Madame Wollzogen, and Amelia Imhoff, contributed, with the great characters already mentioned, to render illustrious. All whose names were distinguished in art or literature, obtained a flattering reception at Weimar, and were detained, at least for a time, as welcome guests in that temple of the muses. Göthe was ever the soul of these assemblages; but less occupied with his own personal fame and superiority, than with the ardent desire of establishing the glory of his country, he devoted his whole life to promote the advancement of German literature, and the interests of those who seconded his efforts. He was constantly the warm friend of Herder and Schiller; whom, had his heart been less generous, he might have regarded as his rivals. His memoirs have shown how much Herder tried his patience; and to Schiller, whose melancholy and often peevish disposition may be attributed to impaired health and excessive occupation, he constantly manifested the indulgence and attention of an affectionate brother. His merit in these particulars is universally acknowledged by his countrymen; and it is a merit which is not always due to superior geniuses. One individual alone attempted to interrupt the harmony that prevailed at Weimar. He wished to gain admittance to this sanctuary of literature; but his character excited distrust, and his proposals were declined. His wounded vanity avenged itself by a libel, which occasioned an individual, whose name he had assumed, to forfeit his situation. This agent of discord was the unfortunate Kotzebue.
It must indeed be admitted that Göthe seems to have always regarded his varied powers of mind, and his rank in society, merely as means by which he might be enabled to accelerate the advancement of science, literature, and art in Germany. He has been constantly engaged in stimulating and encouraging talent of every kind, and in publishing works which have exercised a powerful influence over the public mind of his country. He has left no path of literature untrodden. The dramatic art in all its branches, epic poetry, detached poems of every description, novels, travels, the analysis and theory of the polite arts and literature, criticism, epistolary correspondence, translation, memoirs, and works of science ;-in short, Göthe's genius has embraced every thing. He appears to have neglected no task by which he conceived he might open a road to improvement, or bold out new lights to guide the steps of adepts in the pursuits of human knowledge; and there is no work, however trivial, of this Colossus of German literature, in which the extravagant admiration of his countrymen does not recognise the impress of originality and genius.
History of Massachusetts, from 1764, to July, 1775: when Gen
eral Washington took Command of the American Army. By Alden Bradford, Secretary of the Commonwealth.
Boston. 1822. 8vo. pp. 414. History of Massachusetts, from July, 1775, when General Wash
ington took Command of the American Army at Cambridge, to the year 1782, (inclusive), when the Federal Government was established under the present Constitution. By Alden Bradford. Boston.
1825. 8vo. The history of Massachusetts, from its first settlement by the pilgrims in 1620 to the year 1750, by Hutchinson, and continued by Minot to 1765, is in these volumes brought down to 1782, the period of the settlement of the federal government on its present basis. Few commonwealths of equal extent and duration can boast so complete an account of their origin and progress, and we have an honest pride in believing, that few have so well deserved it. The little party on board the Mayflower, who, in December, 1620, did - solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God and one another, covenant and combine themselves together into a civil body politic,” gave a pledge to the world, that the territory of which they were about to take possession, should be the abode of civil liberty and equal rights; a pledge which their posterity have amply redeemed. With sure and steady steps the sons of the pilgrims have marched in the van of the army of freedom, bearing down, or turning aside every obstacle to its progress. If the world delights to honour in individuals that firmness of
that unconquerable will, which, steadily directed to the accomplishment of one great object, pursues it through every difficulty and at every hazard, we may well be permitted to glory in belonging to a community, which, for two centuries, has been distinguished by a similar character. The history of this community does not show us the occasional struggles of a people infuriated by oppression, and wielding the weapons of ignorant and savage despair, alternating with abject submission to debasing tyranny. It does not tell us of a degraded populace, now crouching under the lash of a driver, and now seizing a favourable opportunity to fly at his throat. We are not told of the varying fortunes and alternate predominance of a cruel aristocracy, and a factious and fierce democracy. These things