« PreviousContinue »
great deal of freedom in Germany; it operates less by raising the mass of the people to a potential equality with the nobles, than by securing to them their inferior and plebeian privilege!?: and consists rather in the immunities of their incorporated tradesmen, which may enable them to become rich as such, than in any general participation of national rights, by which they may axpire to dignity and elegance, as well as opulence and comfort. Now. the writers, as well as the readers in that country, belong almost entirely to the plebeian and vulgar class. Their learned men are almost all wolully poor and dependent; and the comfortable burghers, who buy entertaining books by the thousand at the Frankfort fair, probably agree with their authors in nothing so much a» the value they set on those homely comforts to which their ambition is mutually limited by their condition ; and enter into no part of them so heartily as those which set forth their paramount and continual importance.
It is time, however, that we should proceed to give some more particular account of the •work which has given occasion to all these observations. Nor indeed have we anything more of a general nature to premise, except that we really cannot join in the censure which we have found so generally bestowed on it for its alleged grossnese and immorality. It is coarse, certainly, in its examples, and by no means very rigorous in its ethical precepts. But it is not worse in those respects than many works on which we pride ourselves at home— Tom Jones, for example, or Roderick Random. There are passages, no doubt, that would shock a delicate young lady; but to the bulk of male readers, tor whom we suppose it was chiefly intended, we do not apprehend that it •will either do any great harm, or give any great offence.
Wilhelm Meister is the eon of a plodding merchant, in one of the middling towns of Germany, who, before he is out of his apprenticeship, takes a passion for play-going; which he very naturally follows up by engaging in an intrigue with a little pert actress, who performed young officers and other male parts with great success. The book opens with a supper at her lodgings; where he tells her a long silly story of his passion for puppetshows in hie childhood—how he stole a set of puppets out of a pantry of his mother's, into which he had slipped to filch su<rar-plums— how he fitted up a puppet-show of his own, in a garret of his father's house, and enacted David and Goliah. to the wonder and delight ot the whole family, and various complaisant neighbours, who condescended to enact audience—how a half-pay lieutenant assisted him in painting the figures and nailing up the boards—and how out of all this arose his early taste for playhouses and actresses. This goodly stuff extends through fifty mortal pages—all serious, solemn, and silly, far beyond the piteh of the worst gilt thing ever published by Mr Newberry. As this is one of the most characteristic parts of the work, we must verify the account we have ventured
to give of it by a few extracts. Wilhelm ч describing the dress of the prophet Samuel ш his Punch's Opera of Goliah, and telling !- how the taffeta of the cassock had been taken from a gown of his grandmother's," when a noise is heard in the street, and the old maid Barbara informs them that
"The disturbance arose from a set of jolly companions, who were just ihen sallying nut ol ilie Italian Tavern, hard by, where lliey had been busy discussing fregh oystert, a cargo of which had just arrived, and by no mean« sparing their champagne. 'Pity,' Mariana said, • that we did nut think of n in lime ; we might have had some entertainment to ourselves.' 'II is not yet too late,' said Wilhelm, giving Barbara a louis a'or: 'gel us what we warn; then come and take a share with us.' The old dame made speedy work ; ere long a trimly-covereJ table, with a neat collation, stood before the lovera. They made Barbara sit with them; (Лгу ate a*d drank, and enjoyed themselves. On such occasions, there is never want of enough to say. Mariana soon look up little Jonathan again, and the old dame turned the conversation upon Wilhelm'* favourite topic. 'You were telling us,' she said. 'about the first exhibition of a puppet-show on Christmas-eve: I remember you were interrupted, just as the ballet was going to begin.' 'I assure you,' said Wilhflm, 'il went off quite well. And certainly the strange caperings of these Moore and Mooreseee, these shepherds and shepherdess?«, these dwarfs and dwarfessee, will never altogether leave my recollection while I li?e,' " Slc. &.c.
We spare our readers some dozen pages of doll-dressing and joinery, and come to the following choice passage.
"'In well adjusted and regulaied houses/ continued Wilhelm, ' children have a feeling not unlike what I conceive rats and mice to have; they keep a sharp eye on all crevices and holes, where they may come at any forbidden dainty; they pnjoy it also with a fearful, stolen satisfaction, which lorme no small part of the happiness of childhood. Mort than any other of the young ones, I was in the haint of looking out attentively to see if I could notice any cupboard left open, or key standing in its lork. The more reverence I bore in my heart for iho«1 closed doors, on the outside of which I had in pass by lor weeks and months, catching only a furtive glance when our mother how and then opened the consecrated place to take something from it,—the quicker was I to make use of any opportunities which the forgetfulness of our housekeepers at times afforded me. Among all the doors, that ol the ttorrroom was. of course, the one I watched most itarrowlv. Few of the joyful anticipations in life can equal the feeling which I used to have, when my mother happened to call me, that I might help her t.> carry oui any thing, after which I might pick up a few dried plums, either with her kind permission, or by help of my own dexterity. The accumulated treasures of this chamber took hold of my imagination by their magnitude ; the very fragrance eïhaleu by во multifarious a collection of p"eel-smelling rpicrs produced such a craving effect on me, that 1 never failed, w-hen passing near, to lineer for a little, and regale myself at least on the unbolted atmosphere. At length, one Sunday morning, my mo(her, being hurried by the ringing of the church bells, forgot to lake this precious key with heron shutting the door, and went away leaving all ihe house in a deep sabbath stillness. No sooner had I marked this oversight, than gliding softly once or twice to and from the place, I at Insl approached very e nccrly. opened the door, and felt myself, after a single step, in immediate contact with these manifold and long-wished-for means ol happiness. I glanced over qjattfs, cbfstf, and bacs, and riruvrrg and boxa, with a quick and doubtful eye, consideriog what I ought to take ; turned finally to my deai withered plums, provided myself also with a few dried apple.*, and completed the forage with an orange-chip. I was quietly retreating with my plunder, when some little chests, lying piled ove une another, caught rny attention : the more so, as j noticed a wire wiih hooks at the end of it, sticking through the joint of the lid in one of them. Ful i if t-^gt-r hopes, I opened this singular package and judge oí my emotions, when 1 tound my glac world ot heroes all sleeping safe within! I meant to pick out the topmost, and, having examined them, to pull up those below; but in this attempt the »ires got very soon entangled, and Í fell into a fnt'ljt and flutter, more particularly aa the cook just then began making some stir m the kitchen, which lay elate by; во that I had nothing for it but to squeeze the whole together, the best way I could, and to shut the chest, having stolen from it nothing but a little written book, which happened to be Iving above, and contained the whole drama of uol;ah and David. With this booty I made good my retreat into the garret.' "—pp. 20—22.
This, we suppose, will be received as a .«urncient specimen of the true German taste tor comfits, cooking, and cockering. If any one should wish for a sample of pure childishness, or mere folly, there are pages on pages like the following.
"' Tl was natural that the operas, with their manifold adventures and vicissitudes, should attract me more than nny thing beside. In these compoHtinne, I found stormy seas; gods descending in chariot« of cloud; and, what most of all delighted me, abundance of thunder and lightning. I did my ii(.;t with pasteboard, paint, and paper: 1 could make night very prettily; my lightning was fearful tn behold; only my thunder did not always pros, per. which however was of less importance. In "liera», moreover. I found frequent opportunities of introducing my David and Gnliah, persons whom the regular drama would hardly admit. Daily I felt more attachment for the hampered spot whore I enjoyed so many pleasures; and, 1 must confess, it' frasrartfe which the puppets had acquired from tke tterr-room added not a little to my satisfaction, "' The decorations of my theatre were now in a tolerable state of completeness. I had always had tlic riatk of drawing with compasses, and clipping pasteboard, and colouring figures; and here it served me in good stead. But the more sorry was I, on the other Innd, when, as frequently happened, my fwk ot" actors would not suffice ibr representing great affairs.—My sisters dressing and undressing their dolls, awoke in me the project of furnishing my heroes by and by with garments, which might als« he put off" and on. Accordingly, I slit the *'.7sps of cloth from off their bodies; tacked the fragmenta together as well as possible; saved a partie's of money to buy new ribbons and lace; beg!rvd many a rag of taffeta; and so formed, by degrees, a full theatrical wardrobe, in which hoopputicoati for the ladies were especially remembertd.—My troop was now fairly provided wit h dresse» for the most important piece, and you might have expected that henceforth one exhibition would follow clme upon the heels of another. But it happened with me. as it often happens with children; 'bey embrace wide plans, make mighty prepara:nns. then a few trials, and the whole undertaking ч abandoned. I wns guiliy of this fault.'" &.<-. &c. But we must pet on with our story. While he is lulling his little actress to sleep by theseeJitymsr discourses, and projecting to go on liw stase along with her, our mercantile hero is ?ufldenlv sent off by his father, to collect debts from' their country customers. The ingenious author, however, cannot possibly let lum go, without presenting his readers with
an elaborate character of the worthy old trader and his partner. Old Meister, it seems, had
"A peculiar inclination for magnificence, for whatever catches the eye and possesses at the same time real worth and durability. In his house, he would have all things solid and massive; his stores must be copious and rich, all his plate must he heavy, (he furniture of his table must be costly. On the other hand, his guests were seldom invited; for every dinner was a festival, which, both for its expense and for its inconvenience, could not often be repeated. The economy of his house went on at a settled uniform rate, and every thing that moved or had a place in it was just what yielded no one any real enjoyment.
"The elder Werner, in his dark and hampered house, led quite another sort of life. The business of the day, in his narrow counting-room, nt his ancient desk, once done, Werner liked lo eat veil and if possible lo drink liftier. Nor could lie fully enjoy gooil things in solitude; with his family he must always see at table his friends and any stranger that hnd the slightest connection with his house. His chairs were of unknown age and antic fashion, but he daily invited some to sit on tht-m. Thedamty vielunh arrested the attention of his guests, and none remarked that they were served up in com* mon ware. His cellar held no great stock of wine; but the emptied niches »ere usually filled by mote of a superior sort."—pp. 56, 57.
This must be admitted not to be the very best exemplification of the style noble. Nor is the outfit of the hero himself described in a vein more lofty.
"He must prepare," said Meisler, "and set Forth as soon as possible. Where shall we get a liorse for him to suit this business ?—We shall not
seek far. The shopkeeper in H , who owrs us
somewhat, but is withal a good man, has offered me a horse instead of payment. My son knows it, and ells me it is a serviceable beast. He may letch it limst'lt; let him go with [fie diligence; the day ifier to-morrow he is back again betimes; we hate Ai» sadille-fiags and letters made ready in the mean time; he can set out Monday morning."
The following passage, however, is a fairer sample of the average merit of the work; and exhibits some traits of vivacity and eloquence, though debased by that affectation of singularity, and that predominating and characteristic vulgarity, of which we have ilready said so much. He is describing his lero's hours of fascination, in the playhouse, uid elsewhere.
"For hours he would stand bv the sooty lighi rame, inhaling the vapour of tallow lamps, looktig out at his mistress; and when she returned and :ast a kindly glance upon him, he was himself ost in ecstacy, and, though close upon laths and iare spars, he seemed transported into paradise. The stuffed bunches of wool denominated lambs, he water-fills of tin, the paper roses, and the oneided huts of straw, awoke in him fair poetic visions of an old pastoral world. Nay, the verv dancing girls, uely as they were when seen at hand, did lot always inspire him with dingust. They trod he same floor with Mariana. So true is it. that r>ve, which alone can give their full charm to roselowers, myrtle-groves, and moonshine, can also •onnminicate, even to shavings of wood and paper •lippings, the aspect of animated nature. It is so Irong a spice, that tastelets, or even nauteout oup*, are by it rendered palatable!
".So potent a spice was certainly required to ren der tolerable, nay ot last agreeable, the slate in which he usually found her chamber, not to say icreelf.—Drought up in a substantial burgher's louse, cleanliness and order were the element ш which he breathed; and inheriting as he did a portion of his father's taste for finery, it had always been his care, in boyhood, to furnish up his chamber, which he regarded as his little kingdom, in the stateliest fashion. He had got himself a carpet for the middle of his chamber, find a finer one for his table. He had also a white cap, which he wore straight up like a turban! and the sleeves of his right-gown he had caused to be cut short, in the mude of the Orientals. As a reason for this, he pretended, that long wide sleeves encumbered him in writing. ф
"In those times, how happy did he think the pbyers, whom he saw possessed of so many splendid garments, trappings, and arms; and in the constant practice of a lofty demeanour, the spirit of which seemed to hold up a mirror of whatever, in the opinions, relations, and passions of men, was stateliest and most magnificent. Ufa piece wilh this, thought Wilhelm, is also the player's domestic life; a scries of dignified transactions and employments, whereof their appearance on the stage is but the outmost portion! Like as a mass of silver, lone simmering about in the purifying furnace, at length gleams with a bright and beautiful tinge in the eye ot the refiner, and snows him, at the same time, that the metal now is cleansed of all foreign mixture.
"Great, accordingly, was hie surprise at first, when he found himself beside his mistress, and looked down, through the cloud that environed him, on tables, stools, and floor. The wrecks of a transient, light, and false decoration lay, like the glittering coat of a skinned fish, dispersed in wild disorder. The implements of personal cleanliness, combs, soap, towels, with the tracen of their use! were not concealed. Music, portions of plays and pairs of shoes, washes and Italian flower», pincushions, hair-skewers, rouge-ftots and ribbons, books, and straw-hats; no article despised the neighbourhood of another; all were united hv a common element, powder and dust. Yet as Wilhelm scarcely noticed iji her presence anght except herself; nay. as all that had belonged to her, that she had touched, was dear to him, he came at last to feel, in this chaolic housekeeping, a charm which the proud pomp of his own habitation never hod communicated. When, on this hand, he lifted aside her boddice, to get at the harpsicord ; on that, threw her gown upon the bed, that he mischt find a seat: when she herself, with careless freedom, did not seek to hide from him many a natural office! tcAicA, out of respect for the m f settee of a second portón, is usually concealfd; he felt as if by all this he was coming nearer to her every moment, as it the communion betwixt them was fastening by invisible ties!"
In the midst of all these raptures, and just after he had been gallantly serenading her with the trumpets of a travellins showman. he detects his frail fair one in an intrigue with a rival; and falls into the most horrible agonies, the nature and violence of which the ingenious author illustrates by the following very obvious and dignified simile.
"As when by chance, in the preparation of same artificial jire-voiks, any part of the composition kindles betöre its time, and the skiliully bored and loaded harrc-ls,—which, arranged, and burning after в settled plan, would have painted in the air a magnificently varying series of flaming imoges.— now hissing and roaring, promiscuously explode with л confused and dangerous crash; so, in our hero's case, did happiness and hope, pleasure and joys, realities and dreams, clash together with destructive tumult, all at once in his bosom."
He sets off, however, on his journey, and speedily gel? into those more extensive theatrical connections, from which he can scarcely
be said to escape till the end of the wr-ik. Nothing, indeed, ( an be more ludicrously unnatural than the luck lie has in meeting with nothing but players, and persons connected with playhouses. On his very first sally, he falls in wilh a player who had run away with a young lady, whom he had captivated fruir. the stage—and has scarcely had time to a.'.mire the mountain scenery among which he has to pass his first evening, when he i? si:;prised to learn that the work-people in th* adjacent village are about to act a play !—the whole process of which is described with as solemn a tediousness as his own original puppet-show. I» the first town to which he descends, he meets first with a seducinï er.p.;pany of tumblers and rope-dancers, reinforced by the valuable addition of a Strong Man; and in half an hour after makes acquaintai.c. with a gay and bewitching damsel—who sends across the street to beg a nosegay she sees in his hands—and turns out. by the happiest accident in the world, to be a strollii.r; actress, waiting there for the chance of employment. To give our readers an idea ci the sort of descriptions with which the great writers in Germany now electrify their readers, we copy the following simple and impressive account of the procession of the tumbling party.
"Preceded by a drum, the manager advanced on horseback; he was followed by a female dancer mounted on a corresponding hack, and holding I child before her, all bedizened with ri'>lions ала spangles. Next came the remainder ot the troop on foot; some of them carrying children nn ihtir shoulders in dangerous postures, yet smoothly »nd lightly ; among these the young, dark, black-haired figure again attracted Wilhelm's notice.—Pick!»herring ran gaily up and down the crowded mm i lude, distributing his hand-bills with much ргасм.-aI fun; here smacking the lips of a girl, there brttching a boy. and awakening generally amone 'гл people an invincible, desire to know more of him.— On the painted flags, the manifold science ot ::.«• company was visibly delineated."
The new actress, to whom he is introduced by another of the fraternity whom he finds at his inn, is named Philina; and her characur is sketched and sustained throughout the bock with far more talent than could be е.хресЬч) from any thing we have hitherto cited. She is gay, forward, graceful, false, and good-natured ; with a daring and capricious pleasantry, which, if it often strikes as unnatural, is inquently original and effective. Her debut. however, we must say, is in the author's rnc-i characteristic manner.
"She came out from her room in a pair of tif4 little flippers mith high heels, to give them welcome. She had thrown a black mantle over her, above a white negligee, not indeed superstitiously titan. but which, for that very reason, gave her a more frank and domestic air! Her short dress did net hide a pair of the prettiest feet and ancles in ibe world.—' You are welcome,' she cried to Wilhilm, 'and I thank you for your charming flowers.' Plie led him into her chamber with the one hand, pressing the nosegay to her breast with the other. Deing all seated, and got into a pleasant train of general talk, to which she had the art of giving a delighiiul turn, Laertes threw a handful of gingerbread nu'i into her lap, and she immediately began ta rat them.—' Look what a child this young gellant a'-' pho vûa. 'He wants to persuade you thai I am loud of such confectionary; nnd it is himself that caniot live without licking kit lips over something of the kind.'—' Let us confess,' replied Laertes, 'that, in this point, as in others, you and I go hand m ллг.а. For example,' he continued, 'the weather is deuahltul to-day : what if we should take a drive into ihe cuimtry, and eat our dinner at (he Mill?'" —Vol. i. pp. 143, 144.
Even at the mill they are fortunate enough to meet with a dramatic representation—some miners in the neighbourhood having, by great trox! ¡tick, taken it into their heads to set forth the utility of their craft in a sort of recitative ¿impute with some unbelieving countrymen, am! to sing through a part of Werner's Lecture« on Mineralogy—upon which very natural and probable occurrence our apprentice comment«, in this incredible manner.
"' In this little dialogue,' said Wilhelm, when eea'ed at table, * we have a lively proof how useful ihe theatre might be to all ranks; what advantage rven ihe Slate might procure from it, if ihe occupations, trade», and undertakings of men were all brought upon the Hage! and presented on their praiseworthy side, in that point of view in which the Slate itself should honour and protect them! As matters stand, we exhibit only the ridiculous fide of men.—Might it not be a worthy and pleasing i-i*k for a statesman to survey the natural and recipiocal influence of all classes on each other, and to guide some poet, gifted with sufficient humour, in such labours as these? In this way, I am perjuaded, many very entertaining, both agreeable and useful pieces, might be executed.'"
Such is the true sublime of German speculation! and it is by writing such sheer попMise as this that men in that country acquire the reputation of ifreat genius—and of uniting •«•ith pleasant inventions the most profound «cir^estions of political wisdom! Can we be wrong in maintaining, after this, that there are diversities of national taste that can never be reconciled, and scarcely ever accounted forl
On another day they go in a boat, and agree, by way of pastime, to ''extemporise a Play," by each taking an ideal character, and at''•mpting to sustain it—and this, "because it ¡orces each to strain his fancy and his wit to the uttermost," is pronounced to be a most ••comfortable occupation,"—and is thus moralized upon by a reverend clergyman who bad joined their party, and enacted a country par?on with great success.
"' I think this practice very useful amnng actors, Rnd even in the company of friends and acquaintances. It is the best mode of drawing men out of 'h»m«elies. and leading them, by a circuitous path, tack inio themselves again.'"
Their evening occupation is not less intellectual and dramatic; though it ends, we mim own, with rather too much animation. They all meet to read a new play; and
—"between the third and fourth act, the punch »rnved, in an ample bowl; and there being much lighting and drinking in the piece itself, nothing »aemore natural than thet, on every such occurrencr, the company should transport themselves mío the situation of the heroes, should flourish and «trike along with them, and drink long life to their '•¡VDuriics among the dramatis peñones.
"Each individual of the parly was inflamed with ibe moat noble fire of national spirit. How it grati
fied this German company to be poetically entertained, according to their own character, un stuf of their own manufacture! In particular, the vault« and caverns, the ruined castles, the moss and hollow trees; but above all the nocturnal Gipseyscenes, and the Secret Tribunal, produced a quite incredible effect.
"Towards the fifth act the approbation became more impetuous and louder; and at last, when the hero actually trampled down his oppressor, and the tyrant met his doom, the ecstasy increased to such a height, that all averred they had never passed such happy moments. Melina, whom the liquor had inspired, was the noisiest; and when the second bowl was empty, and midnight near, Laertes swore through thick and thin, that no living mortal was worthy ever more to put these glasses to his lips; and. so swearing, he pitched his own right over his head, through a window-pane, out into the street. The rest followed his example; and notwithstanding the protestations of the landlord, who came running in at the noise, the punch-bowl itself, never after this festivity to be polluted by unholy drink, was dashed into a thousand shreds. Philina, whose exhilaration was the least noticed, the other two girls by that time having laid themselves upon the sofa in no very elegant positions, maliciously encouraged her companions in their tumult.
"Meanwhile the town-guard had arrived, and were demanding admission to the house. Wilhelm, much heated by his reading, though he had drank but little, had enough todo with the landlord's help to content these people by money and good words, and afterwards to get the various members of his party sent home in that unseemly case."
Most of our readers probably think they have had enough of this goodly matter. But we cannot spare them a taste of the manner of courtship and flirtation that prevailed among . these merry people. Philina one day made a garland of flowers for her own hair—and then another, which she placed on the brows of our hero.
"' And I, it appears, must go empty!' said Laertes.—' Not by any means; you shall not have reason to complain,' replied Philina, taking off the garland from her own head, and pulling il on his.— 'If we were rivals,' said Laertes, ' we micht now dispute very warmly which of us stood higher in thy favour.'—' And the more fools you,' said she, whilst she bent herself towards him, and offered him her lips to kiss: and then immediately turned round, threw her arm about Wilhelm, and bestowed a kind salute on him also. 'Which of them taste» best ?' said she archly.—' Surprisingly!' exclaimed Laertes: 'it seems as if nothing else had ever such a tang of wormwood in ii.'—' Ae little wormwood,' elm replied, 'as any gift that a man may enjoy without envy and without conceit. But now,' cried she, 'I should like to have an hour's dancing, and after that we must look to our vaulters.'"
Another evening, as Wilhelm was sitting pensively on the bench at the inn door,
"Philina came singing and skipping along through the front door. She sat down by him ; nay, we might almost say, on him, so close did she press herself towards him; she leant upon his shoulders, began playing with his hair, patted him, and gave him ihe best words in the world, ^he begged of him to stay with them, and not leave her alone in that company, or she must die of ennui,she could not live any longer in the same house with Melina, and had come over to lodge in the other inn for that very reason.—He tried in vain to satisfy her with denials; to make her understand that he neither could nor would remain any longer. She did not cease her entreaties; nay, suddenly she threw her arm about his ii«ck. ana kissed Л/л with the liveliest expression of fondness.-'Are you mad, Philina?' cried Wilhelm, endeavouring to disengage himself; ‘to make the open street the scene . caresses, which I nowise merit! Let me go; I cannot and l will not stay.'-' And I will ifi. fast,” said she, and kiss thee here on the open street, and kiss thee till thou promise what I want. I shall die of laughing," she continued: “By this familiarity the good people here must take me for thy wife of four weeks' standing; and husbands that witness this touching scene will commend me to their wives as a pattern of childlike simple tenderness.”—Some persons were just then going by; she caressed him in the , most graceful way; and he, to avoid giving scandal, was constrained to play the part of the patient husband. Then she made faces at the people, when their backs were turned; and, in the wildest humour, continued to commit all sorts of improprieties, till at last he was obliged to promise that he would not go that day, or #. morrow, or the next day.* You are a true clod ' ' said she, quitting him; ‘and I am but a fool to spend so much kindness on you.’”—Vol. i. pp. 208,209.
But we are tired of extracting so much trash, and must look out for something better. Would any one believe, that the same work which contains all these platitudes of vulgarity should have furnished our great novelist wit one of his most fantastical characters, and Lord Byron with one of the most beautiful passages in his poetry? Yet so it is. The character of Fenella, in Peveril of the Peak, is borrowed almost entire from the Mignon of the work before us—and the prelude to the Bride of Abydos, beginning, “O know you the land where the cypress and myrtle?” is taken, with no improvement, from a little wild air which she sings. It is introduced here, too, with more propriety, and effect than in the work of the noble author; for she is represented as having been stolen from Italy; and the song, in this its original form, shadows out her desire to be restored to that delightful land and the stately halls of her ancestors, retracing her way by the wild
sses of the Al It is but fair to the poetical powers of Goethe to give this beautiful i. as it is here, apparently, very ably transated.
The rent crag rushes down, and above it the flood.
The mystery that hangs over the original condition of Fenella in Rushin Castle, is discarded, indeed, as to Mignon, from the first: for she is first exhibited to us as actually tumbling!—and is rescued by our hero from the scourge of the master tumbler, who was dissatisfied with her performance. But the fonds of the character is the same. She is beautiful and dwarfish, unaccountable, and full of sensibility, and is secretly in love with her protector, who feels for her nothing but common kindness and compassion. She comes at last, to be sure, to be rather more mad than Fenella, and dies the victim of her hopeless passion. The following is the description, something overworked perhaps, and not quite intelligible, but, on the whole, most powerful and impressive, of this fairy creature's first indication of her love to her youthful deliverer.
“Nothing is more touching than the first disclosure of a love which has been nursed in silence, of a faith grown strong in secret, and which at last comes forth in the hour of need, and reveals itself to him who formerly has reckoned it of small account. The bud, which had been closed so long and firmly, was now ripe, to burst its swathings, and Wilhelm's heart could never have been readier to welcome the impressions of affection.
“She stood before him, and noticed his disquietude. ‘Master!' she cried, “if thou art unhappy, what will become of Mignon " ' Dear little creature,' said he, taking her hands, “thou too art part of my anxieties. I must go.' She looked at his eyes, glistening with restrained tears, and knelt down with vehemence before him. He kept her hands; she laid her head upon his knees, and remained quite still. He played with her hair, patted her, and spoke kindly to her. She continued motionless for a considerable time. At last he felt a sort of palpitating movement in her, which began very softly, and |. by degrees with increasing violence diffused itself over all her frame. “What ails thee, Mignon o' cried he; ‘what ails thee?". She raised up her little head, looked at him, and all at once laid her hand upon her heart, with the countenance of one repressing the utterance of pain. He raised her up, and she fell upon his breast; he pressed her towards him, and kissed her. She replied not by any pressure of the hand, by any motion whatever. She held firmly against her heart; and all at once gave a cry, which was accompanied by spasmodic movements of the body. She started up, and immediately fell down before him, as if broken in every joint. It was an excruciating moment' ‘My child!' cried he, raising her up, and clasping her fast; ‘My child, what ails thee?' The palpitations continued, spreading from the heart over all the lax and powerless i. she was merely hanging in his arms! All at once she again became quite stiff, like one enduring the sharpest corporeal agony; and soon with a new vehemence all her frame once more became alive; and she threw herself about his neck, like a bent spring that is closing: while in her soul, as it were a strong rent took place, and at the same moment a stream of tears flowed from her shut eyes into his bosom. He held her fast. She wept! and no tongue can express the force of these tears. Her long hair had loosened, and was hanging down before her; it seemed as if her whole being was melting incessantly into a brook of tears! Her rigid limbs were again become relaxed; her inmost soul was pouring itself forth ! In the wild confusion of the moment, Wilhelm was