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son, Christian, who came between the younger ing corn, so did her peculiar nature seem most daughters. The eldest daughter is described plainly to express itself when she ran with in the Autobiography as a lively warm-hearted light steps over mead and furrow to fetch somegirl, but the “Star” was Frederika. She is thing which had been lost, to summon a distant thus immortalised by Goethe ;
couple, or to order something necessary. On “ At this instant she really entered the door these occasions she was never out of breath and then truly a most charming Star arose in and always kept her equilibrium." this rural heaven, Both daughters still wore It is not the object of the writer to recount nothing but ‘German,' as they used to call it, the idyllic story of the love of Frederika Brion and this almost obsolete national costume an:1 Wolfgang Goethe. The Autobiography* became Frederika particularly well. The short of Goethe has been long before the English pubwhite full skirt, with the furbelow not so long lic in an English dress ; moreover, Mr. Lewes but that the neatest little feet were visible up has gone over the same ground in artistic style to the ankle ; a tight white bodice and a and with sympathising soul. The interest in black taffeta apron—thus she stood on the the Maid of Sesenheim and her family awakened boundary between country girl and city girl. by those two works is, however, not satisfied Slender and light, she tripped along as if she by them. Having recently made a pilgrimage had nothing to carry, and her neck seemed to Sesenheim and pursued some investigations almost too delicate for the large fair braids of into the subject, the writer proposes to fill up her elegant little head. From cheerful blue a portion of the void left in the mind of the eyes she looked very intelligently around, and reader of those works as to the ulterior destiny her pretty turned-up nose peered as freely into of the individuals who composed that highly the air as if there could be no care in the interesting family group. world ; her straw hat hung on her arm, and After taking his degree, Goethe left Strasthus at the first glance I had the delight of burg on the twenty-fifth of August, 1771. не seeing her and appreciating her at once in all had taken an abrupt leave of the Brions. The her grace and loveliness.”
recollection of this parting was so painful to In another passage he touches upon her him that he has passed hurriedly over it in his moral qualities :
narrative. He recalls only the image of Frede“I repeated to myself the good qualities she rika, with tearful eyes, holding out her hand had just unfolded so freely before me ; her to bid him farewell when he was already in the circumspect cheerfulness, her naïveté combined saddle. To that “indestructible cheerfulness" with self-consciousness, her hilarity, with fore- of hers there was already an end ! sight-qualities which seem incompatible, but After Goethe's return to Frankfort he sent which nevertheless were found together in her, a letter of final adieu to Frederika and received and gave a pleasing character to her outward from her a reply which, he says, rent his heart. appearance.
There are some women Neither of these letters has been preserved. who especially please us in a room, others who So ceased for ever their written communilook better in the open air—Frederika belonged cations. The shock of severance brought to the latter. Her whole nature, her form Frederika to death's door. After her recovery never appeared more charming than when she she was woned by Jacob Lenz, another poet of moved along the elevated foot-path, the grace promise, a fellow-student and friend of Goethe of her deportment seemed to vie with the at Strasburg, a translator of Shakspeare and flowery earth, and the indestructible cheerfulness Plautus. It was at the end of May or early of her countenance with the blue sky. This in June, 1772, that Lenz left Strasburg for refreshing atmosphere which surrounded her Fort Louis, a French fortress on the Rhine, she carried home, and it might soon be per
now in ruins. He carried with him, if not a ceived that she understood how to reconcile letter of introduction, at least messages to the difficulties and to obliterate with ease the im- Brion family from Actuary Salzmann, a mutual pression made by little unpleasant contingencies. friend in Strasburg. Fort Louis is in the The purest joy which we can feel with respect vicinity of Sesenheim, and young Lenz lost no to the beloved is to find that she pleases others. time in paying a visit to the parsonage.
In Frederika's conduct in society was beneficent his letters to Salzmann, dated in June 1772, to all. In walks she floated about as the he describes his meeting with Frederika, and animating spirit, and knew how to supply the gaps that might arise here and there.
* The Autobiography states that the first visit to Sesen
heim only lasted two days, but in a contemporary letter lightness of her movements we have already Goethe states that he spent there “ several days" (einige commended, and she was most graceful when
Tage). In several other respects, the Autobiography is in
It confounds winter and summer visits, and she ran.
As the deer seems exactly to fulfil its omits to bring into due relief Goethe's six weeks' sojourn at destination when it lightly flies over the sprout
Sesenheim, in May and June, 1771.-See Viehoti''s "Goethe's
the agreeabie, nay profound, impression her become Madame Brentano of Frankfort, and
, beauty and grace made upon him.* Lenz, Goethe, who was so averse to marriage, seems who was the rival of Goethe in poesy, aspired to have taken kindly to an intrigue. In Deto rival him as a lover. He carried the power cember, 1774, he meets Lili (Elizabeth Schöne. of self-delusion so far as to assert that Frede- mann), another young lady of 16 years of age, rika was as much in love with him as he with and is solemnly betrothed to her, but long beher. Poor Lenz, whoso extravagances shortly fore 1775 had come to a close, the relation to afterwards culminated in insanity, was Lili was capriciously broken off. In Weimar passionate student of English literature and he at last reaches a haven. He sees the admirer of the English character. In proof of Baroness von Stein, a married lady living the high esteem in which he held our literature with her husband on her husband's estate. She of the last century, it may be added that he is nearly seven years older than Goethe, and borrowed from Salzmann for Frederika's per- has given birth to a numerous progeny. Goethe usal a translation of Fielding's “ Tom Jones”! is received as a guest, and departs as a We shall give in its right place Frederika's ac- lover. He is more constant to the mature count, as reported by Goethe, of Lenz's eccen- married lady and woman of the world than to tric conduct in Sesenheim.
Frederika and Lili. Only in 1788, after his After Lenz's courtship Frederika had many return from Italy and after his acquaintance other offers of marriage, but she refused them with the baroness had lasted twelve years, did all, saying that “the heart which had once she appear too old in his eyes. Perhaps, too, been Goethe's should never belong to any one he had grown ashamed of the peculiar tie and else.” The bud which had turned so preferred not to renew it after his return to fidingly towards the treacherous sun of Goethe's Weimar. From this time commences his conlore refused to unfold its charms beneath other nection with Christiane Vulpius, which, though influences. And in this her fate distinguishes not worthy of his better nature, contrasts itself from that of the other young women favourably in a moral point of view with that whose misfortune as well as “distinction " it which preceded it. He was not blessed as a was to attract the beautiful, but dangerous, father. But one of his children outlived youth. Annette, as we have said, threw him infancy. His only son, though inheriting some off and married another ; Charlotte was vir- of his father's genius, inherited also both his tually, if not formally, plighted before Goethe father's and his mother's strong sensual imsaw her ; there is no reason to suppose that pulses. He liveil rakishly and died a rake's Lili ever suffered much from the rupture with death. The great poet outlived his only son, her betrothed : she married happily in Stras- Surely there was a just Nemesis in all this ! burg; but Frederika, by her obstinate celibacy As a man of the world, Goethe forgot Fredeshowed how worthy she was to have shared rika soon after he quitted Strasburg, butasa man Goethe's fate, and at the same time made the of letters his memory was truer, his conscience story of her life a tragical protest in behalf of tenderer. In the characters of Weisslingen in the moral rights of her sex.
the drama of “Götz von Berlichingen,” and of How different was Goethe's conduct ! After Clavigo in the play of that name, both faithless a short period of remorse, which he endeavoured lovers, he confesses that he represents himself to assuage by melancholy wanderings in the in his relation to Frederika. In the drama of country around Frankfort, he found consolation the “ Geschwister,” written in 1776, he puts in new flirtations. In the summer of 1772 we into the mouth of another unfaithful lover the find him making love to Charlotte Buff, of following plaint :—“Thou liest heavy upon Wetzlar, who, most fortunately for her, was me and art just, retributive Fate ! Why dost already betrothed, and whose healthy nature, thov stand there, and thou too, just for the as described in “ The Sorrows of Werther," moment. Forgive ye me! Have I not enabled her to resist Goethe's daugerous fasci- suffered for it? Forgive !
It is of long | nation. After failing in this attempt to ruin standing! I have suffered immeasurably. I
the relation between Charlotte and his friend seemed to love ye—I thought I loved ye; with Kestner, he sailed down the Rhine and in thoughtless attentions I opened your hearts Ehrenbreitstein forgot Charlotte while under and made you miserable.” With these literary the influence of Maximiliana la Roche's bright penances he thought, doubtless, to make full eyes. By the next year Miss la Roche has atonement and quiet his conscience. Most
remarkable of all testimonies to his contrition . These letters are given in August Stöber's interesting as a man of letters is that of his secretary, little treatise, “Der Dichter Lenz und Frederike von Sesenheim." Bale, 1812.
Kröntner, to whom, when sixty-three years of 1 The pasmages from Ossian translated by Goëthe Origimlly for Frederika, are dedicated to Charlotto by
age, le dictated the part of the Autobiography which touched upon Frederika. Goethe usually
dictated walking up and down the room with letter—to the Frau von Stein! We will give his hande behind him, but at this episode he his report of his interview with the Brions. often stopped in his walk and paused in his “On the twenty-fifth (September), in the dictation; then after a long silence followed by erening, I rode somewhat in an oblique direca deep sigh he continued the narrative in a tion to Sesenheim while the others continued lower tone.
their journey, and found there a family group Goethe and Frederika were to see each other as I had left them eight years previously, and once more. It is in the autumn of 1779. was greeted in a most kind and friendly Goethe has become a privy counsellor and is
As I am now as pure ard still as the travelling with his patron the Grand Duke of zephyr, the atmosphere of good and quiet Weimar to Switzerland. He is now, more- people is highly welcome to me. The second over, the world-famous author of " Götz von daughter of the house had loved me more Berlichingen” and the “Sorrows of Werther." exquisitely than I deserved, and more than Surrounded by this double halo of literary others to whom I have given much passion and glory and social eminence, he was emboldened fidelity. (This is an allusion to his corresponto “look up” Frederika and Lili. His account dent!) I was obliged to leave her at a moment of his visit to these two ladies is preserved in a i when it almost cost her her life. She passed
lightly over this to tell me of what remained which I had painted. We recalled many tricks to her of an illness of that time, conducted of that good time, and I found their souvenirs herself in the most charming manner, with of me as lively as if I had only been away six such hearty friendship from the first moment months. The old people were cordial, they when I unexpectedly came face to face with thought I had grown younger. I stayed tho her on the threshold, that I was quite at my night there and took leave the next morning at
I must also say of her that she did not sunrise, saluted by friendly looks, so that I make the slightest attempt to awaken in my can now once more think with satisfaction on soul the old sensation. She led me into both this little corner of the world and live internally bowers and I was compelled to sit there, and it in peace with the spirits of these reconciled gave me pleasure. We had the most beautiful ones.” full moon.
I enquired after everybody. A neighbour, who had formerly helped us car- related to poor Lenz. Goethe writes in the penter, was called in and testified that he had “Biographische Einzelnbeiten” as follows :asked after me a week previously. The “Lenz had introduced himself to the family barber was also invited and came. I found after my departure and tried to learn conceruing old songs which I had composed, a carriage me as much as he could, until she (Frederika)
A A part of the conversation with Frederika
finally became mistrustful in consequence of certain innocuous baker, of whose “civism ” the very great trouble he gave himself to see she gave satisfactory proof. There is a joint and snatch my letters. He had in the mean- letter of Sophie's and Frederika's still extant time in his usual manner become enamoured of in the hands of M. Lucius, the present Lutheran the girl, because he thought that was the only pastor of Sesenheim, which is directed to the kay to get at her secrets, and as she, now father of one of the young ladies whose educawarned and reserved, declined his visits and tion she superintended. Sophie's communiwithheld herself more, he resorted to the most cation comes first and is followed by Frederika's. ridiculous demonstrations of suicide, so that he The latter gives thanks for Christmas presents was looked upon as half mad and sent back to received, and speaks of the progress of the Strasburg.”
donor's daughter and the hold she has obtained Goethe, the man of the world, after obtaining on Frederika's heart. A facsimile of Fredethis “reconciliation” on certainly very easy rika's communication is given at the close of terms, never saw Frederika again, and never M. Albert Grin's drama of “ Frederika."* concerned himself about her fate. Neither The letter was written in December, 1798, but incentives nor opportunities were wanting to is dated according to the Republican Calendar interest and inform himself about the destiny then in use in France. From Rothau she of the Brion family. Troublous times visited removed to Meissenheim, near Offenburg, in France. In the service of the Duke of Weimar, Baden, where her elder sister lived. She Goethe accompanied the Prussian army which brought up Marie's only child, and lived to see invaded France in 1792. He was frequently her married. After the wedding she said to on the Rhine between 1792 and 1797. In Sophie, “I feel that I shall not live much 1814 and again in 1815 he took a summer longer. My time of rest is come.
Do, dear tour through Rhenish Germany. As a man of sister, remain with ine. I feel so lonely." letters he was, indeed, less neglectful. In his Sophie remained. Frederika's presentiment Autobiography he raises a monument to Frede- was correct. She only survived the wedding rika which interested the whole German people, six weeks. The date of her death was Noand through them the civilised world, in her vember, 1813, in her fifty-ninth year. It was in history, and made Sesenheim a sanctuary visited 1811 and 1812 that Goethe composed those by pilgrims of all nations. This last literary portions of the Autobiography which were to atonement indirectly rescued the after history render her famous. One would like to know of the Brion family from oblivion.
whether she read this work, but tradition is The first break in the family circle was the silent upon this point. Sophie survived her death of Madame Brion. Her horizontal toinb. sister for a quarter of a century, and Goethe stone still lies at the foot of her husband's, close for nearly seven years. She died, much esto the eastern wall of the Sesenheim church. teemed, at Niederbronn (in Northern Alsace, The epitaph has been worn out by the feet of not far from Sesenheim) in December, 1838. sportive children. The old man died in 1787, She burnt Goethe's letters to Frederika during aged seventy years and six months. His the Strasburg period (about thirty in number) epitaph is still legible, but will not be so for " because they enraged her.” She preserved long. It is to be hoped that the present in- for many years the original copies of Goethe's cumbent will preserve a true copy of it before Sesenheim
and of his first translations of it is obliterated. The elder sister married a Ossian. Finally they were borrowed from her Protestant minister named Marx, whose parish and not returned, but she had taken the preFas in Meissenheim, in Baden. She died in caution to keep copies of the same. Sophie the middle term of life, leaving an only even outlived the old parsonage, which was not daughter to Frederika's care. Christian, the taken down and replaced by the existing handbrother, became a Lutheran minister, and died some dwelling until 1834. at Barr, near Strasburg, in 1817. The fate of The first pilgrim to Sesenheim was Herr the two younger sisters, Frederika and Sophie, Näke, Professor of Philology in one of the after the break up of their home at Sesenheim, Gymnasia of Rhenish Germany, who wended was a chequered one. They went to live at his way thither in 1822 and published an acRothau in the department of the Vosges, where count of his visit. Ever since then the locality they set up a small trade in articles of female has annually attracted to its pleasant precincts and children's attire, and, at the same time, a not very numerous but a select and appreciboarded and lodged some young girls from ative cortege of tourists, of course chiefly GerAlsace, who were sent to the western side of the
The same little inn (the “Golden Vosges to learn French. In 1794 we hear of Anchor") that existed in Goethe's time is still Frederika petitioning the local Committee of the sole hostelry in Sesenheim. The barn and Public Safety to release from imprisonment a
• Strasbury, Trottel & Würtz, 1859.
the orchard exist almost unchanged. There, Was it not better to make a slight sacrifice (for too, are still the two historic bowers and the a marriage with Frederika would certainly not overarching jessamine (a scion of that planted have been a very crushing calamity) than to by Frederika's hands) of which visitors generally blast the budding life of a young girl of the pluck a branch. Nightingale Grove, the highest grace and promise ? Is not the loss of wooded hillock called in the Autobiography all one's honour greater than the loss of a por“ Frederika's Repose,” has undergone great tion of one's liberty? Is woman's love to be changes. The wood has disappeared. The
deemed merely as a yoke which man may hillock from which Goethe was able to dis- shuffle off his neck when he pleases ? cern the spire of Strasburg Cathedral has been But we cannot assent to the assumption that almost levelled to the plain. A gentle ascent Goethe's genius would have suffered by fidelity still, however, marks the interesting spot, but to Miss Brion. The flight of that genius might, --start not, romantic reader !—it is potato it is true, have taken a different direction. The field.
Sorrows of young Werther (that sensation And now there only remains for us to discuss novel once so much adniired and now so nearly the question so warmly debated by the bio- forgotten) would never have been written; the graphers and critics of Goethe-did he under all “Roman Elegics,” those erotic effusions of his the circumstances do well to break away from midule life, would have never seen the light. Frederika ? The motives which led him to Germany must have looked elsewhere for her take this resolve were perhaps set forth in the Propertius. The sensual element in Goethe's letter of adieu which he sent to Frederika character would not have attained the developafter his return to his native city, but this ment it actually did attain. But in compensaletter was one of those destroyed by Sophie. tion for these and other losses of kindred pature, The following passage, put into the mouth of who shall say what other noble and enduring Carlos in the play of “ Clavigo” is generally fruits Goethe's genius would have produced in regarded as throwing light on his conduct on their stead ? Would so many of his works this occasion ;--"Marry! marry! just at the ' have been left in a fragmentary condition ? time when life first truly comes into action ! : Would not his relative productivity have To settle down domestically, to tie oneself equalled, or even surpassed, that of Schiller, down before one has completed half one's' whereas, in point of fact, it fell far below it? travels, or made half one's conquests!" Goethe's We cannot believe that it is advantageous for a conduct must be viewed in com.ection with young genius to commence life with a guilty the current of ideas and emotions in the midst conscience, such as stung Goethe to the creation of which he lived. The revolt against tradi- of the character of Weisslingen, in his first tional belief and established laws and customs, published work. This frame of mind doubtless which in France broke out in a social convulsion favours the growth of a morbid, Byronic, some eighteen years later than the period we Wertherish, self-torturing literature, but this are writing of, took place earlier in Germany, remorseful mood is surely a poor substitute for but in the narrower circle of men of letters and that sunny sense of contentedness with oneself the students. This intellectual movement gave and one's fellow creatures, that philosophic birth to what is called the “genius” period. composure which contributes as much to enYoung men of talents set themselves up as during literary eminence as to individual and “Geniuses” and lived according to the doctrine social happiness. We believe that far from that Genius was a law unto itself. One might suffering from a union with such a creature as be false to everybody else provided one was Frederika, his genius and his life, wonderful as true to his Genius. On its good side the agi- both are, would have possessed charms in which tation of the German “geniuses” was a healthy they are wanting, and have lacked blemishes outburst of individualism which ultimately gave which diminish their value to humanity. He birth to a noble national literature, and which would have been a happier and better man and was in itself an aspiration towards a more heroic not a whit less the Genius. Had he married and free life; but on its bad side it was revolting her, we say in Mr. Lewes' words, “ his expeegotism, unbridled, unscrupulous disregard of rience of woman might have been less extensive, the feelings of others. Goethe's defenders say but it would assuredly have gained an element that a betrothal to, and subsequent marriage it wanted. It would have been deepened. He with, the young Alsatian would have crippled had experienced and he could paint (no one the flight of his genius. But if this were true, better) the exquisite devotior of Woman to was he the only person to be considered ? Man, but he had scarcely ever felt the peculiar Might not the man be expected to give up tenderness of Man for Woman when that little of his freedom and convenience in order tenderness takes the form of vigilant, protecting to render the existence of his beloved blissful ? | fondness."