Page images
PDF
EPUB

of refinement, to denude the figure which he delineates: like the flugelman of a regiment, he over-acts the movements which he would excite in others. This palpability of intention adapts him singularly for an audience that is sluggish of impression, for societies in the earlier stages of refinement, or for the classes that are only in progress towards it. He is more skilled in drawing men than women; and in imaging the bold, rude, fierce, and angry chieftain, than the humane, generous, polished, and feeling hero.

Goëthe succeeds to Schiller; and the twenty-first chapter analyzes “. Goëtz of Berlichingen,” and “ Count'Egmont.”* Goetz, which was translated by Mr. W. Scott in 1799, is one of the earliest successful imitations of the Shakspeare-form of tragedy which the German theatre produced ; and it has materially contributed to the adoption on that stage of the Gothic plan of drama. Count Egmont is, however, deservedly preferred to Goëtz as a work of art, and is one of the few master-pieces of the German stage which have not yet been translated into English.

Not contented with success in the Gothic style, Goëthe has attempted the Greek manner by his “ Iphigenia in Tauris.” In this beautiful drama, he has surpassed every modern imitator of the antique classical tragedy. Milton's Agonistes, and Glover's Medea, are quoted among our own best approximations to the works of the antients; and Maffei's Merope and Racine's Phèdre are ranked higher by the Italian and French critics : but Milton is stiff, and Glover is cold, and Maffei is dull, and Racine is galant. Goëthe alone attains the purity and simplicity, the tenderness and loftiness, of his models; and, above all, that locality of range in his ideas, which can cling with familiar fondness about every detail concerning Greece, and nowhere betrays the contamination of a modern acquirement, or taste. In reading the Iphigenia of Goëthe, we seem again to drink with the old world at the pure well-head of poesy, and to enjoy its freshest coolest waters. The thousand streams which, lower down, carry into it their fertilizing copiousness, have not yet troubled its clearness, or neutralized its flavour. It is the beverage which nature gives to her favourite sons, and which the filtering stones of luxury can at best but emulate. - We have heard that the translation of this tragedy, published in 1793 by Mr. Taylor of Norwich, was singularly well received in Germany, and was reprinted by Voss at Berlin. We spoke of it in yol. xi. N.S. p. 51.

The “ Torquato Tasso" of Goëthe is an imitation of his own Iphigenia ; an attempt to apply the same polished plainness of manner to incidents of the modern world. The character of Tasso is consummately well-drawn, and accords with history and with nature : Werter's irritability re-appears in it, justified by a higher sense of conscious greatness, and darkened by a Rousseau-like vein of mistrust. Antonio also is a true and good delineation. The second act, however, is trailing, and the catastrophe vexatious; and this unsatisfactory solution inequitably associates itself with our estimate of the poem: we feel the disappointment of hope, and mistake it for the disappointment of taste.

racter

Chapter xxji. treats of « Faustus,” which we have sufficiently discussed already in our lxiid Volume, p. 491.; and from which we selected as a specimen the very scene that attracts the attention of Mad. de Stäel.

Some notice was due to the “ Clavigo" of Goethe, a household tragedy after the manner introduced by Lillo to England, and by Diderot to France: it was translated into English in 1798, and is the best piece of the kind in the German language.

Goëthe wants energy: a somewhat effeminate fear of distortion occasions him to lead away his characters from the extremes of emotion : but he possesses the suppleness and versatility of the most creative dramatic writers. Variable as Proteus, or Puck, to him every new metamorphosis is equally easy. In antient Greece or modern Germany, in Italy, Spain, or England, - among witches, gods, or elves, - in heaven, or in hell, - he seems alike always at home. The linguist of every literature, the citizen of every dominion, he appears like Fortunatus in successive regions with equal popularity. With all the plasticity of Shakspeare in shaping distinct characters, he has greater critical knowlege of times and places, and suits better to the age and nation the trains of thought which are ascribed to his personages : he consults more learnedly the costume of idea; and he attains a stricter fidelity of local colouring. His delicate shades of ethic discrimination, his sharp insight, especially, into the feminine character - bis truth of nature,—and his inexhaustible variety ---cannot be too much admired. The reverse of Schiller, he effects not his delineations by a few bold and prominent strokes, but by the correct delicacy and closely characteristic definition of his details. The colouring of Schiller is too glaring; that of Goëthe is too faint. Schiller makes his whole impression at first; Goethe is the more deeply valued, the more repeatedly he is studied. Schiller has a vague grandeur, Goëthe a faithful precision. Schiller is more heroic, Goëthe more natural. Schiller, like Michael Angelo, sketches gods, Goëthe, like Raphael, copies men ; and to the observer, though not to the enthusiast, this is the higher praise.

In the twenty-fourth chapter, we are introduced to the dra. matic works of Werner, whose « Luther" we criticized at some length in Vol. Ixii. p. 497. His next best tragedy is “ Attila." The rest scarcely merited so extensive an analysis as that which is here allotted to them. The success of Werner has resulted much from the arts of the theatre: he understands the importance of frequently shifting the scene, and of removing the action progressively into a more imposing locality: his Mel-, pomene comes accompanied by pageantry and music; she has obsequies, if not grief, and elegies, if not tears: but the literary worth of his dialogue does not often announce an enduring v; classical rank. · The succeeding chapter is devoted to the drama of Kotzebue;" a powerful writer, who is undervalued by Madame de Staël. No dramatist strikes home to the heart so often. He paints and he inspires the luxurious woe of self-applauding sympathy, the triumphs of pity, of affection, and of benevolence, and the headlong immolations of impassioned feeling. Glowingly inte.. resting beyond any of his rivals, he has indeed less energy than... Schiller, less variety and truth than Goethe, and less exactness of local description than modern criticism requires : but his situations are in a wonderful degree striking and trying, picturesque and pathetic. With the rapidity of Sterne, he can' realize any alternations of emotion; and, like the April lightning, he can cominand at a flash a shower of tears or the smile of sunshine. If his effect be not ratified by the judgment, it is at least irresistible to the feeling; his ready cordiality of tone is secure at least of temporary sympathy, in every honest child of humanity. The morality of Kotzebue, however, is not wholly correct. A foe to meanness, he commits the theore tical blunder of mistaking chastity for one of its forms. Too indulgent for justice to the rashness of impulse and the errors of affection, he is thought to excite a lasity without remorse, and a tolerance without dignity. To be cold, and prudent, and guarded, is to be drest for the path of virtue: but Kotzebue : provokes the warm sensibilities, the unreserved sacrifices, the frank avowals; and these may owe to theatric applause a dangerous welcome in private and real life.

Comedy is the subject of the twenty-sixth chapter. This is a more local form of art than tragedy : ridicule is not a citizen of the world. Hence, comedy will seldom bear translating. The Puss in Boots of Tieck is noticed as the boldest and most singular comedy of the Germans ; and talking animals are praised as an agreeable variation of theatrical resource.

In professing, in chap. xxvii, to describe the German-actors, Mad. de Staël forgets them all, to talk of Talmą the favcurite of the Parisians: the digression is somewhat misplaced." Rev. JULY, 1814. T

The

to paying the dreaments of Tate novels Sor

The next chapter proposes to examine the novels of the Germans. Of the first and highest class, only Werter's Sorrows can deserve to be named. Of second-rate novels, the Sternbald of Tieck, and some fragments of J. Paul Richter, are noticed ; one of which, the dream of an Atheist, has induced Mad. de S. to pay it the compliment of translation into her pages.

Chapter xxix. pretends to give an account of the German historians : but the information here offered is mortifyingly defective, and not critically characteristic. Literary, scientific, and ecclesiastical history have occupied many excellent writers among the Germans, who are here not even named. This section ought never to have been undertaken; the needful preliminary knowlege not having been acquired. ..

The thirtieth chapter is consecrated to Herder, our judgment of whom was long ago given. See Vol. xx., N. S., P. 524.

The xxxist chapter is chiefly occupied about the name of W. Schlegel, an eloquent and eminent writer and lecturer on criticism, to whose appretiations Mad. de Staël is obviously and avowedly indebted. . In the thirty-second chapter, we have a glimpse of the state of the fine arts. To the painting of Schick, to the sculpture of Thorwaldsen, and to the music of Gluck and Mozart, a liberal and tasteful homage is paid.

Part the third of Mad. de Staël's work undertakes an account of the philosophical and ethical writings of the Germans; and the fourth part, of their religious writers and sects. These two capacious dissertations are subdivided respectively into twentyone and into twelve chapters, forming together the whole of the third volume. In our opinion, these entire thirty-three chapters partake the same imperfections with the twenty-ninth chapter of the preceding volume ; appearing to us to be founded on insufficient study, and to give a defective and sometimes an erroneous account of the matters undertaken to be investigated. To correct errors, however, so much carping must be exercised, and to supply omissions so much prosing is requisite, that we shall lazily drop asleep in our old attitude of admiration. The state of college-literature in Germany is indeed not lady's work; and if Mad. de Staël had handed over to M. Villers the task of mapping its present condition, France would have had more chance of a profound and trustworthy estimate. Indeed, in future editions of this elegant work, we should advise Mad. de Staël totally to forget the third volume, which detracts more from the authority than it adds to the instruction of the whole. The second chapter, which treats of English philosophy, may

serve to reveal to readers here the manner in which German philosophy is discussed. Theology is sippingly tasted. The prodigious revolution effected by the modern scripture-critics, in the established churches of Prussia and Saxony, scarcely seems to have been perceived:-a revolution which accomplishes the alliance of scriptural religion and philosophy, and which makes anti-supernaturalism (to borrow a technical word of the Germans) become the doctrine of the pulpit.

The Mohammedans tell us that their Koran was written with 'a plume of the angel Gabriel's wing, which had the property of stating truth in the forms of beauty, so that all nations should draw nigh to read. This euviable pen Mad. de Staël seems to have borrowed. Like the paintress Rosalba, whose portraits in crayons form so conspicuous an ornament of the Dresden gallery, she depicts with a likeness which every person knows, with an embellishment which every person welcomes, and with a brilliant glow of colouring which every person admires and · applauds.'

Art. V. Capt. Von Krusenstern's Voyage round the World, trans

lated by R. B. Hoppner, Esq.

[ Article concluded from p. 125.] W e have already traced the progress of the Nadeshda and

" the Neva, from the outset of their voyage to the arrival of the former at Kamtschatka. Captain Krunsenstern having repaired his ship, and recruited his stock of provisions, sailed from the bay of Awatchka on the 7th of September, 1804, for Japan; having on board the ambassador from the Emperor of all the Russias to the Kubo or Emperor of Japan. This was at a season of the year in which storms are frequent in those seas, and the Nadeshda did not fail to experience them.

In approaching the south-east cape of Niphon, the principal of the Japanese islands, Captain K. searched for some islands which, according to the early Spanish charts of the northern Pacific Ocean, are situated near that Cape, designated by the date of their supposed discovery, 1664, and with the name Vulcano : but he could not find them, though he sailed close to the situations assigned to them in the charts. The traveller Gemelli Careri relates that, in the year 1664, a Spanish galleon named the San Josef, sailing near the south-east part of Japan, saw land which was believed to be three small islands :. other navigators, in subsequent voyages, reported that they fell in with islands near the same situation, and on their authority, islands marked as above described, and others with the

date

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »