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of view, while preparing his history of the Thirty Years' War: But the adaptation of it to tragical purposes was found, from its vastness, to be a very difficult task. He prepared himself for it, by a diligent study of the historical plays of Shakspeare, particularly those relating to the wars of the Roses. Of these, and in particular of Richard III., he expresses the warmest approbation. No play of Shakspeare's, he says, reminded him so much of the Greek drama. The play of Wallenstein, or at least all the substance of the dialogue, was at first composed in prose, and afterwards versified. In doing this, the subject naturally changed its aspects; not only ideas, but motives of action, which appeared satisfactory enough when conveyed in prose, were found unsuitable or common when the expression was elevated into iambics, and were rejected; and versification, though it had a tendency to condense or shorten the mere expression, leads us, as Schiller justly observes, into a diffuseness in the general mode of treating the subject. In this way the work swelled upon him to an extent he had not in the least anticipated, and new changes in the general arrangement of the parts became necessary. The materials for the astrological scenes were carefully and laboriously collected from a Hebrew work which he found in the library at Jena; as to which he observes, in a letter to Goethe, The mixture of chemical, mythological, and astronomical matters, seems well adapted for poetical purposes. There are some 'wonderfully ingenious comparisons of the planets to the human 'members, which I shall transcribe for you; and I am not with' out hope of being able to give a poetical dignity to this astrolo'gical subject.' This system of cautious preparation, indeed, Schiller never neglected, even in his slightest ballads, of which many proofs occur in these volumes. His American song was the result of a careful perusal of Carver's Travels; before writing the song of the Bell, he, in like manner, studied the subject in Krunichen's Encyclopedia; and with the same anxiety to preserve the truth of painting, he requests Goethe, while in Switzerland, to take an opportunity of examining an iron foundery, that he might know whether his admirable description in Fridolin was correct or not.

The part of the subject which embarrassed him most, was the connexion of the episode of Max and Thekla with the main plot; nor did he seem to think, even at the last, that he had altogether reconciled the conflicting materials of disinterested and devoted attachment, and of selfishness and ambition. The union, however, seems sufficiently complete for dramatic purposes; and unquestionably every one must feel that the barrenness of a military and political interest required to be refreshed

by some such spirit of humane and kindly feeling. These letters show also that the Capuchin Sermon in the camp, (an anthology from the sermons of the Jesuit Santa Clara,) which has (probably from its humour) been often attributed to Goethe, was really the work of Schiller himself.

There is something exceedingly touching in the manner in which Schiller speaks of the task, when the drama at last came to a close. His feeling was the same as that which Byron has put into the mouth of Tasso on finishing his Jerusalem: - his pleasant task was done,

His long sustaining friend of many years!"

'I have long been afraid,' says he, of the moment for which 'I once wished so much, when I should be rid of my work: and, in truth, I find myself more uncomfortable in my present 'freedom than in my former slavery. The mass to which 'I formerly clung is gone at once, and it seems as if I were 'left without an object. I feel as if it were impossible for me 'to produce any thing again; nor shall I be at ease till I am able to direct my thoughts with hope and inclination to another subject. If I once had an object in view, I should be freed 'from this restlessness, which at present renders me incapable ' of small undertakings. Inclination and necessity equally lead me to an imaginary, not a historical subject, and to a 'merely passionate and human interest; for at present I am 'heartily sick of soldiers, heroes, and generals.' This intention, however, was not fulfilled; for his very next drama, Mary Stuart, was also on a subject of historical and political interest.

It is rather singular that the subject of Schiller's other great work, William Tell, should have at first occurred, not to him, but to Goethe. In a tour which Goethe made, in 1797, through the lesser cantons of Switzerland, the impression produced upon his mind by the splendid scenery of the lake of Lucerne, Altsorf, Schwytz, and Flüelen, was so strong, that the idea of peopling these scenes anew with the heroes of the past, occurred irresistibly to his fancy. But an epic, not a dramatic form, was what first suggested itself to him. This project he had communicated at the time to Schiller, who replied, The idea of William Tell is excellent; and, after Meister and Hermann, perhaps the only style of subject which you could treat with the 'peculiar originality and freshness of your genius. The interest arising from a characteristic and strongly circumscribed locality, and a certain historical connexion, is perhaps the only one not exhausted in these trevious works. They are in their subject perfectly free: appears sufficiently united


gh in both the locality haracters, still it is a

'poetical country, and represents a whole world. But with Tell, the task will be quite different. From the very narrow'ness of the subject, it will derive additional life, and the reader 'will be more deeply and intensely moved and agitated.' Goethe afterwards appears to have got altogether tired of the subject, and no longer intending to avail himself of it for his own purposes, he suggested it as the groundwork of a drama to Schiller. One valuable idea, too, he certainly appears to have communicated to him, namely, his own conception of the character of Tell. With the exception of Schiller, all dramatists who have attempted this theme, have painted him too much as a sentimental reformer. But Goethe saw that the true dramatic capability of the character lay in his simplicity both of feeling and expression; in representing him as he was, a rude dweller upon the mountains, leading a life of labour, and never thinking of political freedom or slavery, till oppression penetrated even to his own fireside; and even then only anxious at first to escape the evil as he best might, till, step by step, he is led on to the death of Gessler, as the only means of preserving his own existence and that of his family. And thus, too, Schiller has represented him, as a man of iron nerves, with all the homeliness of an Alpine shepherd, an affectionate father and husband, a being naturally of a soft and gentle heart, who, even when driven at last to the death of his enemy, and watching, from his rocky cover, the advance of the Governor along the lonely valley, shudders at the prospect that his hands, which have hitherto been only dyed with the blood of the chamois, are now to be steeped in that of his fellow man. Accordingly, as might have been expected, the success of this living picture on the stage was complete.

Theatrical matters, as may be supposed, occupy a very prominent place in these volumes; the direction of the Weimar theatre being in the hands of Goethe. This, notwithstanding the many inconveniencies with which it must have been accompanied, seems always to have been a labour of love to Goethe, who devoted himself to the task, until the introduction of the dog in the Forest of Bondy proved too much for his patience. As a specimen of the sort of duty which he had occasionally to perform, we may refer to the following directions for getting up Macbeth, which emanated from his pen, and the Sylvester Daggerwood style of which is amusing enough.

Act I.

Some persons should enter along with Macbeth and Banquo, to enable the latter to ask, "How far is't called to Forres?"

Act II.

"The bell invites me." No ringing of bells here, but the stroke of a clock heard,

Act III.

Macbeth's boy should be better dressed, somewhat in the style of a page.

Eilenstein's mantle is too scanty; a piece should be added to it.
The fruits on the table should be painted red.

Banquo's ghost looks too prosaic in a coat. And yet I don't very well know what else we can give him.

The shields to be repainted.

Act V.

No fighting in ermine mantles.'

No wonder if Goethe was able to paint the theatrical scenes of Wilhelm with force and truth, for he, too, had been in Arcadia,' and had seen enough of the wild life of a player to enable him to trace it in all its varieties.

Towards the close of these volumes, there is a good deal of correspondence between the friends on the subject of Madame de Stael's visit to Weimar, in 1803. It seems pretty obvious, that, with all their respect for her talents, they were tired of her egotism, her vanity, and want of tact. Indeed, it could not be well otherwise with a person who coolly told Goethe she intended to print as much of his conversation as she could carry away. Schiller's estimate of her character is thus given in a letter to Goethe, and it represents with much truth both the strength and weakness of her character.

Madame de Stael will appear to you exactly as you have 'anticipated before hand; she is all of a piece, with no foreign or 'false feature in her character; consequently, notwithstanding 'immense differences of nature and ways of thinking, one always 'feels at home with her, can say any thing to her, or hear any thing from her. She is a fine and highly interesting represen'tation of French spiritual culture. In all which we call philo'sophy, consequently in all ultimate results, we are at issue, and ' remain so, notwithstanding all her oratory. But her natural 'constitution and feelings are better than her metaphysics, and her fine understanding almost elevates itself into genial power. With her every thing must be explained, seen through, and measured; she will tolerate nothing dark, nothing inaccessible; wherever her own torch cannot enlighten the way, she will not take the trouble of walking farther. She has consequently a 'great horror of our ideal philosophy, which, in her opinion, leads only to mysticism and superstition, and in that atmosphere she 'cannot exist. For what we call poetry, she has no turn; in such 'works she can sympathize only with what is passionate, rheto❝rical, and general; but though she is not alive to the beauty of 'true poetry, she on the other hand is not misled by the false.

From these few words you will perceive, that the clearness, 'precision, and intellectual activity of her nature, cannot but produce a favourable impression. The worst thing about her is "the altogether extraordinary rapidity of her tongue; for, in order to 'follow her, one must absolutely convert himself wholly into an organ of hearing. In this way I, who do not speak French fluently, 'come very poorly off with her, but you, from your greater facility, may get on better.'


Goethe was at this time engaged in important business at Jena, and it was not till the beginning of 1804 that he returned to Weimar, and had an opportunity of verifying the truth of this portrait of Madame de Stael. Almost on their first meeting, too, a circumstance occurred, which by no means tended to place them in the most confidential relation to each other. had just been reading a French work, a correspondence between Rousseau and two French ladies, who had succeeded in drawing the shy sentimentalist into this correspondence, and then published his letters. Goethe, who had suffered a little from similar acts of literary swindling, happened to express his disapprobation of this proceeding in pretty strong terms; when, to his astonishment, Madame de Stael not only defended the conduct of her countrywomen, but plainly avowed, that, in similar circumstances, she would have done the same. Nothing more,' says Goethe, was necessary to make me cautious and reserved, and ' in some measure to shut myself up.' In another place, he does ample justice to her general ability and merit, while he points out what appeared to him the prevailing errors of her mind.*


'Her objects were numerous; she wished to become acquainted 'with Weimar, in its moral, social, and literary aspect; at the same time she wished to be known herself, and laboured for this 'purpose with as much perseverance as she did to make herself acquainted with our manner of thinking. But she could not rest contented with that; she wished to make an impression at once on the senses, the feelings, and the intellect, and to excite ' us to a certain activity, with the want of which she reproached 'us. As she had no proper conception of what we call duty, or of that quiet composure of view by which every one actuated by it is guided, she was all for immediate momentary action, 'just as her ideal of society consisted in constant conversation and discussion.

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* Goethe's Works, vol. xxxi. p. 107. et seq. last edition.

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