Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Fanatics there are of so severe a humanity, certain links which, if procast of mind, that they would ignore perly connected, will lead us all works of fiction ; but those who, Through nature, up to nature's God," blessed with a wider expanse of mind, will think that good service has been see in descriptions of the wonderful, done to his kind by James Fennimore the curious, and the interesting in

Cooper.

[ocr errors]

SCHILLER Of all the many distinguished poets barriers to the free development of his and philosophers of Germany, the name nature, yet, on the whole, his childhood and works of Schiller are most familiar could not be otherwise than cheerful to the English reader. And this pre- and happy. His parents were pious, ference is not a mere national liking affectionate, honest, true-hearted Gerof our own, arising from any consan- man folk. His father, stern and severe guinity which the writings of Schiller in demeanour, was fervent in his relihave with English modes of thought gious exercises, and warmly attached and feeling. Its explanation is rather to his family. His mother was someto be sought in the fact, that these what grave and serious, but her manwritings bear on them the stamp of ners were peculiarly gentle and mild. no peculiar nationality. They have had Neither were without intellectual cula prompt acceptance with all European ture, or deficient in sound judgment nations, and the estimation in which and information. Surely this were they have been held has been perma- enough to compensate for a thousand nent. Among modern authors Schiller disadvantages in their worldly condiis pre-eminently cosmopolitan. The tion. The pliant nature of the boy poet of the Real, of actual life, of uni- Friedrich, formed and moulded under versal human sympathies, it was na- these influences,soon began toexhibit the tural that his impression should be promise of a rich and abundant harvest. equally as wide as it was deep. Not He was early a lover of the picturesque, a little of the hearty welcome with and of everything grand or instinct which Schiller has been universally with life or motion.

At eight years received, may be attributed to the cir- old, wandering in the woodlands with cumstance that the tone and temper of a boy about his own age, he exclaimed, his writings, as also of his own interior “Oh, Karl, how beautiful is it here! nature, was wholly in harmony with All—all could I give, so that I might the spirit of the age. He had a high not miss this joy !" Another anecdote estimation of the rights, duties, and is told of this period, which is alike privileges of the individual man. His graceful and striking :-“Once, it is notion of society was that of an ideal said, during a tremendous thunderdemocracy. He loved freedom in his storm, his father missed him in the inmost heart, and his patriotism was young group within doors; none of his as staunch as that of a Tell. The sisters could tell what was become of ardour with which he sympathized in Fritz, and the old man grew at length the revolutionary movements of the so anxious that he was forced to go day, made him worthy, in the eyes of out in quest of him. Fritz was scarcely the French nation, of being honoured past the age of infancy, and knew not with a diploma of citizenship. the dangers of a scene so awful. His

Johann Christoph Friedrich Schiller father found him at last in a solitary was born on the 10th of November, place of the neighbourhood, perched on 1759, at Marbach, a small town of the branch of a tree, gazing at the Würtemberg, situate on the banks of tempestuous face of the sky, and watchthe Neckar. In the circumstances of ing the flashes as in succession they his birth and parentage, he was rather spread their lurid gleam over it. To fortunate than otherwise. Although the reprimands of his parent, the whimthe pecuniary circumstances of his pering truant pleaded in extenuation, parents were such as to place many that the lightning was very beautiful, and he wished to see where it was completely changed in all too short a coming from !""*

time. His life now approaches a period When Friedrich was six years old, of harshness, oppression, and isolation, his father was sent to Lorch as recruit in which the blossoms of hope are reing officer. Here the boy first learnt morselessly crushed by the hand of the rudiments of education. His Fate ;-the boy's spirit bent beneath teacher was Philip Mozer, the pastor the weight of an unloving discipline and schoolmaster of the village, and and stern dictatorship, and, under a whom Schiller afterwards immortalized quite contrary nurture to that which in his “ Robbers.” This person seems he had hitherto enjoyed, other and to have exercised considerable influ- greater faculties developed within him. ence over his pupil. His favourite This, however, as will be clearly seen, companion was Karl Mozer, the pas- is not to come and pass away without tor's son, who was himself destined to leaving its residue of good behindbecome a preacher. His conversation without shedding a strengthening and with these, the religious atmosphere in fertilizing influence over the whole which he had been brought up from career of our Friedrich. For there the earliest dawn of consciousness, and lies, in that boy-soul, GENIUS—“that the warm and deep emotions which alchemy, which converts all metals were now aroused in the boy's soul by into gold-which from suffering educes the study of the Hebrew prophets, strength—from error clearer wisdom.” seem to have united together in deter- Karl, Grand Duke of Würtemberg, mining him to become a clergyman. had founded a free-school for certain "A clergyman, indeed, he proved," says branches of education, at Solitude, Carlyle, “ only the church he ministered afterwards transferred to Stuttgard. in was the Catholic—a far more Catho- It was called a military seminary, but lic than that false Romish one !” This was not wholly confined to the military determination, as might be supposed, profession. The majority of the pupils accorded well with the sentiments of were the sons of officers, and even his parents, and accordingly, in the privates, in the Würtemberg army, public school of Ludwigsburg (whither who had a preferable claim to the the family now removed), his studies benefits of the institution. Instructions were regulated with that view. Here, were, however, given in both law and for four successive years, he underwent medicine ; and the sons of civilians the annual examination before the were consequently admitted. Stuttgard Commission, to which can- father of young Schiller,” says one of didates for the ecclesiastical vocation his biographers, “had recently been were subjected. He had ere this read promoted by the Grand Duke to the the classics with some diligence, but office of Inspector and Layer-out of with no degree of appreciation. In his the Grounds at Solitude, and was subninth year, we are told, he had (“ not sequently raised to the rank of Major. without rapturous amazement and a But these benefits were not cheaply lasting remembrance,") seen the splen- purchased. The Duke, in return, dedours of the Ludwigsburg theatre, sired to send Friedrich Schiller to his thus unconsciously casting a dim, far- military seminary: This was tantaoff glimpse into that world, where after-mount to the rejection of the longwards, with genuine inspiration and cherished scheme of the clerical prounfeigned joy, he was to achieve his fession. After much painful embarnoblest triumphs.

rassment, the elder Schiller frankly The Stuttgard examinators marked represented to his prince the inclination the young Friedrich in their records as of himself and his son. The Grand puer bonce spei—“a boy of good hope.” Duke, however, repeated his request, This good hope, however, was to be proposed to leave to Friedrich thé realized in quite another fashion than choice of his studies at the academy, was accordant with their intentions. and promised him an appointment in Novel and unpleasant circumstances the royal service. There was no rebrought about a change in the domestic sisting a petitioner, whose request arrangements of the family. The boy's was law, and from whose favour was prospects for the future were to be derived the very bread of the family.

Friedrich Schiller did not hesitate to * Carlyle.

sacrifice his own wishes to the interests

6 The

of his parents ; but this renunciation no sort of keeping, it is natural to supof his young hopes, and the independ- pose came to be regarded by him, as ence of his free-will

, wounded alike his the embodiment of all those evils, and heart and his pride. With grief and their necessary cause. His dislike of resentment equally keen, he, at the it continues to increase, and he makes age of fourteen, entered the academy no secret of his feelings, once even as student in Jurisprudence. The venturing to give them public expresstudies thus selected were in them- sion. One of the exercises," says his selves sufficiently uncongenial; but, to biographer, yearly prescribed to every the dulness of the law-lecture was scholar was a written delineation of his added the austerity of a corporal's own character, according to his own drill. The youths were defiled in views, to be delivered publicly at an parade to meals, in parade to bed, appointed time. Schiller, on the first in parade to lessons. At the word of these exhibitions, ventured to state “March,” they paced to breakfast. At his persuasion that he was not made to the word “Halt,” they arrested their be a jurist, but called rather by his steps. And, at the word Front, inclination and faculties to the clerical they dressed their ranks before the profession. This statement, of course, table. In this miniature Sparta, the produced no effect; and he was forced grand virtue to be instilled was sub- to continue the accustomed course, and ordination. Whoever has studied the his dislike of the law kept fast apcharacter of Schiller, will allow that proaching to absolute disgust.” Howits leading passion was for intellectual ever the time came round (in 1775), liberty. Here, mind and body were when he was at last enabled to free alike to be machines. Schiller's letters himself from the burden. But it was at this time to his friend, Karl Mozer, only that he might take up another, sufficiently show the fiery tumults which, however gladly he might at and agitation of his mind-sometimes first make the exchange, he soon found mournful-sometimes indignant. Now was but one species of slavery substisarcastic — now impassioned. Weary tuted for another. He abandoned law disgust and bitter indignation are seen for medicine ; but neither presented a through all. The German works, not proper object for the faculties of his included in the school routine, were as mind and the aspirations of his soul. contraband articles—the obstacles to He is gazing earnestly forward into obtain them only increased the desire. some “far purer and higher region of No barrier can ever interpose between activity, for which he has as yet no genius and its affections. The love of name ; which he once fancied to be the Man to Woman is less irresistible than church ; which at length he discovers the love that binds Intellect to Know- to be poetry.” ledge. Schiller stole—but with the All this is not to be mistaken for greater ardour for the secrecyếto the boyish wilfulness on the part of embraces of his mistress Poetry. Schiller; something very different from Klopstock still charmed him ; but that. Loving poetry, with all the vehenewer and truer perceptions of the mence of a first passion; studying elements of poetry came to him in the secretly the writings of Plutarch and “Goetz Von Berlichingen” of Goethe, Shakspeare, Klopstock, Lessing, Herwith which, indeed, commenced the der, and Goethe, with the whole galaxy great literary revolution of Europe, by of stars which illumined the dawn of teaching each nation that the true German literature, there were awakclassical spirit for each must be found ened in him longings of future literary in the genius of its own romance. “He glory, which ill-consorted with his prewho would really imitate Homer, must, sent position of mental subjection. in the chronicles of his native land, He felt with overpowering conviction, find out the Heroic Age.”

that in this direction, and no other, Schiller, ; at this period, whatever lay the grand purpose of his existence doubts or uncertainties might hover in -the true idea of his whole being. his mind as to his true destination and A mass of performances published in reasonable outlook for the future, knew | the periodicals of the time, or preserved full well that it lay not in Law. This, among his papers, are sufficient to to him an entirely foreign study, with prove that this idea had taken firm which the tendencies of his mind had hold of his mind. Schiller was mis

an

verance.

er.

understood—what else could be ex- celestial space, wherever is danger, and pected ? Pedagoguy could give no awe, and love, there is beauty plenteous man the key to such a nature as his. as rain, shed for THEE ; and though Pedagoguy, nevertheless, is for the thou should walk the world over, thou present the law of his life.

His pru- shalt not be able to find a condition dence told him that he must yield inopportune and ignoble.” to stern necessity-must forsake the Such, doubtless, was Schiller's rebalmy climate of Pindus for the Green- ward; but the time of his complete land of a barren and dreary science of emancipation had not yet arrived." He terms; and he did not hesitate to knew that,“ in order to live poetically, obey. His professional studies were it was first requisite to live," and he followed with a rigid though reluctant could not but feel intensely the severe fidelity ; it was only in leisure, gained antagonism between his inward tenby superior diligence that he could dencies, and the position in which he yield himself to more favorite pursuits. was placed. What he wrote many Genius was to serve as the ornament years afterwards, clearly indicates his of his inferior qualities, not as mental state at this period :—“A sinexcuse for the want of them.

gular miscalculation of nature had “Schiller brooded gloomily over the combined my poetical tendencies with constraints and hardships of his situa- the place of my birth. Any disposition tion. Many plans he formed for deli- to poetry did violence to the laws of

Sometimes he would escape the institution where I was educated, in secret to catch a glimpse of the free and contradicted the plan of its foundand busy world to him forbidden.

For eight years my enthusiasm Sometimes he laid schemes for utterly struggled with military discipline ; but abandoning a place which he abhorred, the passion for poetry is vehement and trusting to fortune for the rest.” * and fiery as a first love. What disciFrederick, however, is young, without pline was meant to extinguish blew friends who can help him out of his into a flame. To escape from arrangedifficulties, and without other resources. ments which tortured me, my heart What can he do but calmly endure ? sought refuge in the world of ideas, “ Doubt not, O poet, but persist.” “The when as yet I was unacquainted with world,” says Emerson,” is full of renun- the world of realities from which iron ciations and apprenticeships; and this bars excluded me.” is thine ; thou must pass for a fool and While ordinary natures would, in all a churl for a long season. This is the likelihood, have sunk under these opscreen and sheath in which Pan has pressive and disheartening vexations, protected his well-beloved flower; and the fiery energy of Schiller's was only thou shalt be known to thine own, and concentrated and intensified. Denied they shall console thee with tenderest external objects, it found a subjective love. ... And this is the reward—that world in his own imaginations, which, the ideal shall be real to thee, and the in time, proved an abundant compensaimpression of the actual world shall tion. A habit of stern self-reliance was fall like summer rain, copious, but not induced. His undirected thoughts troublesome, to thy invulnerable es- found material in the depths of his own

Thou shalt have the whole consciousness, and his feelings and pasland for thy park and manor—the sea sions,“ unshared by any other heart had for thy bath and navigation, without been driven back upon

where tax and without envy; the woods and like the volcanic fire that smoulders the rivers thou shalt own, and thou and fuses in secret, they accumulated shalt possess that wherein others are till their force grew irresistible.” only tenants and boarders. Thou true Hitherto," says one biographer, land-lord ! sea-lord ! air-lord! Wher- Schiller had passed for an unprofitever snow falls, or water flows, or birds able, a discontented, and a disobedient fly; wherever day and night meet in boy; but the time was now come when the twilight; wherever the blue heaven the gyves of school-discipline could no is hung by clouds or sown with stars; longer cripple and distort the giant wherever are forms with transparent might of his nature-he stood forth as boundaries; wherever are outlets into à MAN, and wrenched assunder his

his
own,

fetters with a force that was felt at the * Carlyle's “ Life of Schiller.” extremities of Europe. The publica

sence.

tion of “The Robbers” forms an era piece in “The Robbers," daunted the not only in Schiller's history, but in superior powers. Its bold, uncomprothe literature of the world ; and there mising defiance of prescriptive despotseems no doubt that, but for so mean a ism angered them. And, what made cause as the perverted discipline of the matters still worse, the ability of the Stutgard school, we had never seen author was unquestionable, and he had this tragedy. Schiller commenced it the sympathies of the great mass of in his nineteenth year; and the circum- the people. It was settled that Schiller stances"under which it was composed, was a very dangerous servant of His are to be traced in all its parts. Highness, the Grand Duke of Würtem

“Translations of the work soon ap- berg; and forthwith he was summoned peared in all the languages of Europe, before that authority, and commanded and were read in all of them with a to abide by such subjects as befitted deep interest, compounded of admira- his profession; or, at least, to beware tion and aversion, according to the of writing any more poetry without relative proportions of sympathy and submitting it to the inspection of his judgment in the various minds which Prince. contemplated the subject. In Germany Time wore on, and our poet had to the enthusiasm which “The Robbers bear all the mortifications and reexcited was extreme. The young straints incidental to being a suspected author had burst upon the world like person. “His busy imagination aggraa meteor ; and surprise, for a time, vated the evil. He had seen poor suspended the power of cool and Schubart wearing out his tedious eight rational criticism. In the ferment pro- years of durance in the fortress of duced by the universal discussion of Schönberg, because he had been a the single topic, the poet was magnified rock of offence to the powers that above his natural dimensions, great as were.' The fate of this unfortunate they were ; and though the general author appeared to Schiller a type of sentence was loudly in his favour, yet his own. His free spirit shrank at the he found detractors as well as praisers, prospect of wasting his strength against and both equally beyond the limits of the pitiful constraints, the minute and moderation.

endless persecutions of men who knew With the publication of " The Rob- him not, yet had his fortune in their bers, the first period of the life of hands. . .. With the natural feeling Schiller is properly closed; but from of a young author, he had ventured to that fact the immediate results it go in secret, and witness the first brought about ought not to be sepa- representation of his tragedy, at Manrated ; there were many annoyances heim. His incognito did not conceal yet to be borne before his deliverance him; he was put under arrest, during from the tyrannous yoke, under which a week, for this offence; and as the his youth had been blighted, could be punishment did not deter him from consummated.

again transgressing in a similar manSchiller had finished the original ner, he learned that it was in contemsketch of this drama in 1778, but had plation to try more rigorous measures kept it secret till 1780, in which year with him. Þark hints were given to he obtained the post of surgeon in the him of some exemplary as well as Würtemberg army. This advancement imminent severity; and Dalberg's aid, enabled him to print it at his own ex- the sole hope of averting it by quiet pense, not having succeeded in finding means, was distant and dubious. Schilany publisher who would undertake ler saw himself reduced to extremities. the risk. The universal interest which Beleaguered with present distresses, the work at once excited drew attention and the most horrible forebodings, on to the author. This popularity, how every side; roused to the highest pitch ever dazzling, was not favourable to of indignation, yet forced to keep Schiller's immediate interests. The silence, and wear the face of patience, aversion on the one hand, was as great he could endure this maddening conas the admiration on the other. And, straint no longer. He resolved to be what was unfortunate for our poet, the free at whatever risk; to abandon former was on the side of power and advantages which he could not buy at authority. The vehement revolution such a price ; to quit his step-dame ary spirit which found so fiery a mouth- home, and go forth, though friendless

« AnteriorContinuar »