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MINOR POEMS OF SCHILLER
OF THE SECOND AND THIRD PERIODS
WITH A FEW OF THOSE OF
TRANSLATED FOR THE MOST PART INTO THE SAME
METRES WITH THE ORIGINAL
JOHN HERMAN MERIVALE, Esq. F.S.A.
It has been observed, that it is in his fugitive pieces that the character of Schiller's mind ought to be studied—that, while we can often trace him in the personages of his drama, he is here always himself, verifying the happy expression of Madame de Stael concerning him, which has almost passed into a proverb—“Ses écrits sont lui.”
In the truth of this remark, the course of my observations leads me to concur; and I require no further reason in support of my present undertaking—the first, I believe, that has been madeto exhibit this portion of the works of the greatest of German national poets,-Goëthe's genius is universal,—in a collected shape, to the English reader. It may rather demand explanation why the collection is, in some respects, incomplete ; and I proceed accordingly to render an account of the principal of those omissions with which I am chargeable.
It may first be asked why, with the object above expressed, I have confined myself to those more mature fruits of the poet's genius which were produced during the two later periods into which his poetical career has been distinguished, while I have furnished only a few specimens, and that by way of Appendix, of those of earlier date ?—to which my answer is, that the bulk of these early effusions appears to me but ill calculated to assist our conceptions of the Poet, viewed, as we most wish to contemplate him, in the perfection of his powers; and that with regard to those, more particularly, which have been classified together under the title of Laura-Gedichte, they are the creations, not of the heart, or even of the imagination, but of an uncultivated fancy, amusing itself with the shadows of a crude and imperfect Platonic theory; and, whatever may be the effect they are capable of producing on the ears or understandings of Schiller's compatriots, wholly impossible to be rendered in such a manner as to create a corresponding impression in the minds of English readers.
With regard to others of this early period, together with some few also of later date, which may not be found in my table of contents, the