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mind has taken a more practical direction, and the literature of the day, although trammelled by the fetters of the censorship, becomes more and more mixed up with politics. It is not therefore surprising that the restless longing spirit, the political complexion of the younger writers, should feel discontented with the plastic repose that pervades the works of Goethe. As party spirit is seldom just, so we find a host of scribblers, and sonje writers of note too, denying him the place to which he is unquestionably entitled. But we doubt not that in time the fierce attacks will subside, and tbat when he shall bave been longer numbered with the dead, the clouds of party vision will disperse, and be will again enjoy the undivided admiration of his countrymen. It is no small proof of a noble character that in his voluminous works and the nume. rous collections of letters to and from bim, notbing mean or ungenerous, notbing positive, has been advanced against him. The charges are merely negative; his antagonists and deprecators can only assert that he did not express such sentiments as might bave been expected. We hear not a word of a want of patriotism proved against bim.
Man can only work in the spbere allotted to bim, and the more clearly defined that sphere is, the less right we have to require that he shall be equally great in those regions which bis tutelary genius warns him not to enter. Goethe bas over and over again told us, and we believe it was a peculiarity which he inherited from his mother, that it was bis custom to put aside whatever was disagreeable or intolerable to bim, and we think this remark more serviceable to him than the vague observations by which Dr. Riemer excuses bis silence by alleging his delicate position as a minister, &c.
One of the most successful chapters of the work is that relating to Bettina von Arnim, the celebrated heroine of Goethe's Correspondence with a Child. This lady bad encouraged and doubtless entertained the belief that many of Goethe's sonnets, and of the most interesting compositions of his later years, were inspired by her letters; and we well recollect the astonishment which we felt, that a young lady should thus step in between Goethe and bis high renown. Dr. Riemer somewbat rudely destroys the halo which had surrounded the Child.
“Another work” (in the preceding chapter he had cautioned the reader against considering Falk's little volume as authentic) “ has, in the eyes of the ignorant, injured him whom it was intended to exalt, inasmuch as it not only exposed him to ungrounded reproaches of coldness and hardness of heart, but threatened to diminish or destroy his claim to genius, the originality of the finest compositions of his later years, the Sonnets and the Divan. This was Goethe's Correspondence with a Child. ...."
“ When Goethe published his autobiography, under the title of Fiction and Truth (Dichtung und Wahrheit), he meant to say, it was the veil of fiction in the hand of truth. Truth was the body, fiction the dress, the frame that inclosed a real picture. In the correspondence, fiction is the principal subject, round which the authoress has occasionally hung a frame. The whole is in one word a romance which borrows from reality time, place, and circumstances; but the heroine is in imaginary, more in fantastic than real, love with Goethe ; sometimes scolds and quizzes him, sometimes plays at love with him, and feigns nocturnal visits, promenades and cloak-scenes with him. ... He
bears with her as with a child, as it was his wont, out of common gratitude to bear with inconvenient people, if they did not go too far, and then hastily to break off such a connexion,”—(Works, p. 47). pp. 31, 32.
It must be confessed, in the exposition which follows, Dr. Riemer does not treat the lady with great politeness, although he does justice to ber extraordinary talents. Already, in 1807, in Goethe's house, she complained to Riemer of the coldness of Goethe's behaviour to her. Our author then proves by those stubborn things, dates, that many of the sonnets were not addressed to por written under the inspiration of her magic pen. How then could Bettina delude herself into such a strange supposition ?
“As to the sonnets which Bettina bona fide assumes to have been composed and addressed to her, they were neither written for her nor to her; it is possible that Goethe may have sent her some of them, as he willingly communicated his newest compositions to his friends. He even writes once to Bettina and tells her that she may consider the enclosed sonnet as addressed to herself, because he has nothing better to say. But he neither took nor borrowed his subject from her, to restore it to her in poetic forms. Goethe's fancy and heart could not be so poor in his sixtieth year that he was obliged to borrow his feelings from Bettina, to put them into verse, as the Greek Hypophetes did the inspired natural sounds of the somnambulant Pythian priestess. The subject is taken elsewhere, and many of the circumstances mentioned in the sonnets cannot, from time and place, as well as other circumstances, refer at all to Bettina."-pp. 34, 35.
" The numerous admirers and worshippers of the immortal child will of course consider my confessions as mere blasphemies, but mindful of my motto, I could only write as and what I know. Others may think of them as they please, I say only, dixi et salvavi animam meam.”—p. 38.
«Out of gratitude for Bettina's attachment to his mother, for the communications which she received from her respecting his childhood and the history of his youth, without which Goethe could not have begun his Autobiography, but certainly likewise in memory of Bettina's beautiful mother, in whose company he had passed many happy hours, in the house of Madame de la Roche, from all these motives he allowed her to follow her own humours, whether natural or studied, found pleasure in her genial, although odd, clever and fantastic character; bore with equanimity her caresses and whims, and as it could only be question of a paternal, not passionate return, what could he do for so much mirth and attention, but occasionally give her some pleasure with such poetic sweetineats as he happened to have at hand, a fresh flower, a juicy piece of fruit from his poetic garden, as if they were made and grown for her. But this was all. If she required more or went so far as to be troublesome to him, he could not, as he himself confesses, do otherwise than break off the connexion, and that she was troublesome to him with her passionateness, Bettina herself allows.”—pp. 39, 40.
We doubt not that this is the true state of the case, and fortunately Bettina's genius can bear the blow, although a few blossoms may fall from the wreath of glory with wbich her blind admirers have crowned her.
Dr. Riemer bas devoted a long chapter to Goethe's personal appearance; we need not dwell upon it, all who have seen bim will acknowledge the justice of Napoleon's observation, c'est un homme. The leading features in Goethe's character are to be found in his works. Far from being reserved, he was the most communicative of men. Schiller tells bim to his face " that he is made to be inherited and plundered by others during his life, as bas often happened, and would bappen still more frequently, if people only knew their own advantage better.” It is the fashion to call him interested, and yet he says of himself, “ to be disinterested in every thing, most disinterested in love and friendship, was my greatest delight, my maxim, my practice.”— (Works, xxvi. p. 291.) Dr. Riemer's volume contains many proofs that this was not an idle boast.
The long chapter on religiousness would lead us far beyond all reasonable limits. Those who have studied Goethe diligently will kvow what to think of his religious opinions, and it would require a volume to make them intelligible to others. Our principal object is to place before the English reader the present state of public opinion in Germany respecting their great poet, nor have we heard that his countrymen have found bis religious opinions repulsive, wbatever objections might be advanced by many religious and excellently meaning persons at bome. We could however bave wished, that the anecdote of the Anseres Chris. ticolæ (p. 393), on which Dr. Riemer seems to look back with some complacency, bad been omitted; it is frivolous, to say the best of it, and our author has attached too much importance to what was doubtless a mere joke.
Our readers will be able to gather our opinion of the work before us from what we have said, and we sball now conclude our observations by a few short remarks upon Dr. Stabr's life of Merck.
This remarkable man was first known to the public by Goethe's remarks on him in his Autobiography, in which Dr. Stahr' complains that the poet has not done justice to his friend. He was however almost totally forgotten until bis name was honourably mentioned in one of the numerous publications of letters to and from Goethe, &c. Böttiger of Dresden, with a petty love of scandal, bas not spared Merck, but this is a misfortune that may easily be borne, as his journal, wbich bis own son had the want of taste to publish, does not speak more favourably of any of the great men of his time. The biography of Merck remains to be written, for Dr. Stahr's book, although valuable, exbibits more of collectanea than finished and connected description. His appreciation of Goethe, before he became distinguished, proves bis penetration ; bis just althougb sometimes severe criticisms on the works which Goethe submitted to him in manuscript, mark his taste and the soundness of his judgment. The variety and rersatility of his talents is extraordinary, equally so the influence which he exercised over all around. The Duchess Amelia, the mother of Karl August, the celebrated friend of Goethe, was much attached to him. She had paid several visits to the Rhine in his company, and thus writes to him, Aug. 14, 1778, after one of these trips
“Never shall I forget the goodness of Providence in giving me a friend like yourself, who in such strange and oppressing circumstances remains true to his heart and to his belief in truth and goodness; inclosing these in the depths of his heart and bearing with courage the will of the Lord.”-p. 97.
Her illustrious son writes to him in the same strain of enthusiasm.
“The purport of my letter, dear Merck,” says the duke, “is like a whetstone to pure Darmstadt steel, to excite sparks. I am in the worst letter-writing humour in the world, and am so spoiled by receiving good letters from you that I can hardly live wilhout them.”
Tbat be owed tbis favour to his manly character, his knowledge of mankind and his social qualities, and not to servile flattery, is evident from a letter of Goethe's to Wieland, in wbich, after requesting Merck to cultivate the acquaintance of the hereditary Prince of Darmstadt, he begs bim “ to lay aside some of his usual reserve with princes and to be as open and natural with him as the prince by his behaviour might encourage.”
Goethe's mother, an excellent judge of character, called Merck her dear son, and the list of his correspondents includes the names of many celebrated contemporaries, amongst others those of the travellers Banks and Forster. At a later period he devoted himself to natural philosophy. Osteology and mineralogy, particularly antediluvian fossils, attracted his attention, and his valuable collection was bought after bis death by the Grand Duke of Darmstadt and forms the principal part of the museum of that city. His restless spirit was not satisfied with this; be established a wanufactory, a bleaching ground and a printing office. These numerous undertakings, too much at any time for one man however active, proved ruinous and Merck put an end to his own existence. It was found after his death however tbat bis affairs were not so bad as he had feared, and the dread of a deficit in the public chest intrusted to him was unfounded, as there remained a surplus. The latter half of the work consists of selections from his contributions to the literature of the time.
Art. XI.- Die Günderode. Zwei Theile. (Günderode. Two volumes.)
Grünberg and Leipsic. 1840. Bettina von Arnim, the beroine of the “ Correspondence of Goethe with a Child," has here published the letters which passed some thirty years ago between herself and the friend whose tragical death, in a letter to Goethe's mother, forms one of the most interesting parts of the first named work. As we have thought it our duty, in our notice of Dr. Riemer's work on Goethe in our present number, to give some extracts from the chapter in wbich be speaks of “the immortal child,” although our remarks may bave given offence to her admirers, we gladly avail ourselves of the contemporaneous appearance of the work before us to do justice to the real merits of this distinguished lady.
Whatever objections may be advanced against the matter-of-fact truth of the form in which sbe has chosen to give to the public her celebrated correspondence with Goethe, we ought not to omit the circumstance that even according to Dr. Riemer's own showing it was possible for Bettina to suppose that some of the sonnets were composed by Goethe for her. There may have been some self-delusion, we confess, but then it was not so very unnatural in an enthusiastic girl of fifteen or sixteen. But be that as it may, there can be no doubt that she is a woman of eminent genius. Her extraordinary talent in grouping every thing that comes before her into a poetic picture, the rich flow of her somewhat too fantastical imagination, her cheerful and happy humours, her soundness of judgment, except when she willingly gives way to wanton caprice, form a union of qualities but seldon found in the same person.
There is in truth much in the volumes before us which we could have dispensed with, and we venture with all due politeness to whisper our opinion that they would have been improved by being curtailed one-balf, For with characteristic inconsistency, soon after pronouncing with all the positiveness which becomes a young lady, ber hatred of philosophy and pbilosophical dissertations, she favours us with awfully long diatribes, which, if not pbilosophy, we suppose were meant for it. The great defect of the work indeed consists in these attempts to reduce to language, and express with clearness, subjects which have defied the unassisted powers of reason from the beginning of creation to the present day. But when, leaving these unfathomable depths, she returns to real life, and pictures nature, men and things in her own peculiar and forcible style, we are irresistibly attracted by the charms of her eloquence and her quickness of perception. It is true she does play the madcap occasionally and clambers up rocks and ruins in a most unaccountable manner. Her letters display too a laudable contempt of punctuation and postscript, which occasionally bear the same proportion to the body of the letter as Mr. O'Connell does to bis tail. Well: every one to his taste; we would rather bave half-a-dozen such works, although there may be a spice of romance in their composition, than a score of books written according to critical rule and measure. And if there should be any German scholar who has not yet become acquainted with Bettina von Arnim, we are sure be will thank us for the present introduction.
Art. XII.-Vittoria Accorombona. Ein Roman in fünf Büchern, von
Ludwig Tieck. Zwei Bände, Zweite Auflage, mit einem Anhange. (Vittoria Accorombona. A Romance in five Books, by Ludwig Tieck. Two Volumes, Second Edition, with an Appendix.) Breslau,
1841. Tue extravagant applause bestowed upon this work, the blind entbusiasm of many of the German critics (although fortunately some of the more recent reports take a juster view of it), and the remarkable sentiments contained in it, bave induced us to make a few observations, wbich may not be uninteresting to the English public.
The professed object of Tieck in the volumes before us was to rescue the memory of Vittoria from the calumnies (?) of the English dramatist Webster, in his play of the White Devil, or the tragedy of Paulo Giordano Ursini, Duke of Bracciano, with the life and death of Vittoria Accorombona, the famous Venetian courtisan.* As the materials for this purpose are somewhat scanty, the novelist was naturally driven to his
* Old Plays, vol. vi.