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ART. VI. —1. The Life of Friedrich Schiller, comprehending an Examination of his Works.


2. Sartor Resartus.

Boston: 1833.

Boston: 1835. 1 vol. 12mo.

1 vol.

3. Critical and Miscellaneous Essays. By THOMAS CARLYLE. Boston: 1838. 2 vols. 12mo.

It is now some ten or twelve years since the name of Thomas Carlyle began to be faintly heard, in connexion with some of the papers contained in the volumes of collected essays, recently published at Boston. The disquisitions upon Richter, German Literature, and Robert Burns, first attracted the attention of the reading men in this country. These were followed by the essays on the "Signs of the Times" and "Characteristics," -productions of an order so remarkable and startling, that they created a prodigious sensation in the intellectual world; the before applausive murmurs of many were changed into groans and hisses, while others shouted out a louder cry of joy and hope. "What is this Voice?" some cried; and while on the one hand it was answered, that it must be from a lunatic ghost, it was so strange and hollow, on the other hand, there were those who said it was a warning voice, from a far and dim, but true and pure world. Meanwhile, the newspapers said little. or nothing, and Rumor passed by the phenomenon as a small thing, and busied herself in stocks, and state elections; but, silently, in many garrets and halls, brains were busy over the writings of which we have spoken, and a party was forming about them, as the summer vapors gather to the electrical cloud, "a little cloud, like a man's hand." We had next given to us a Lise of Schiller, printed in London in 1824 or 5; a work with which all were pleased, and many delighted. In 1836, a volume was put forth in Boston, called Sartor Resartus, containing a series of papers first printed in Frazer's Magazine, London, in 1833-4. This volume appeared without the author's name, but was known by all to be from the Anglo-Germanic

The Preface to the volumes of Essays before us, says 1825; but in the article on Schiller, vol. 2d, 273, it is stated to have been published in 1824

head and heart of Thomas Carlyle; and, though of a character which made all our good, old-fashioned, straight-on, Murray-and-Johnson writers, back, and kick, and quiver, as a firebreathing locomotive does the steadiest hack-horse, it sold well, and a second edition appeared the next year. Scarce had the strife of words touching "the Sartor" died away, when a biographical notice of Mirabeau roused all tongues again; for it was more monstrous than all its elder brethren; and was, moreover, understood to be a mere prophetic symptom of several volumes upon the French Revolution, like unto itself. And, at last, these came too, bristling at every point: and now, while the world still doubts if their author be a madman, a merryandrew, or a poet, his disciples pour upon us the collected essays which he had kindly scattered over many years, and many periodicals.

What are we to do in this state of things? Turn our backs upon the whole matter, as unworthy of a look and word? We cannot do this with a clear conscience; for our Boston neighbors have plainly received this man's writings as a leaven into their lump, and if we think them poison we should speak, and if we think them wholesome we should say so. Shall we de

nounce this writer, then, in good broad terms, and leave him? By no means such denunciation either fails of effect, or helps the person or cause denounced. We have then but one course left to look into the face of this man, hear what he has to say, and then with the proper Why and Wherefore, communicate to our readers our view of him. But, in the outset, let it be understood that we pretend not to give any complete view or theory of this man or his writings, but only our partial and obscured view. When Encke or Beila would compute a theory of his comet, he must first watch it through its whole course; and let us not forget that Man moves not in a circle, nor ellipses even, but on and on forever: how then should we have more than a glimpse of him, or be able to give more than a glimpse, our glimpse? and even this, if the man be living, to-morrow's sight may prove to have been false.

Turning, with this in mind, toward Carlyle, he first comes before us, as an author, in his Life of Schiller. He rises upon us, herein, calm, clear, grave, and full of beauty: - his style simple, direct, and dignified; his keen perception tempered by a scarce-seen diffidence, and his enthusiasm breaking into no sportive songs, or shouts, or clapping of hands. He leads us

by a narrative of wonderful simplicity from work to work, and shows us the man in each, the progress from each to each. The wild outburst of a strong, cramped soul in The Robbers; the struggle toward calmness in Don Carlos, which from that very struggle and consequent growth loses its unity; the changing state of the mind not yet self-possessed, now turning to novels, now to history, and then to poems again, as its true speech; the sinking body and the rising soul; the slow growth, during days and nights of pain, of the grand drama of Wallenstein; the creation of the Maid of Orleans; and the last, great effort, to speak out his nature in Wilhelm Tell, all these things are told us with a distinctness, a perfect calmness, a deep sympathy, a reverence and love for the noble, serious, though never wholly unsectarian, Schiller, that have made, and will long make all students of the souls of students dwell over this volume with a feeling deeper than admiration. Schiller is here embodied as in marble; we see him full of love, and faith, and courage, and the highest aims, and yet not as a living man, but as the Ideal of a far-reaching, but short-coming seeker of perfection. How beautiful, too, the criticism contained in this Life of the German Poet! No vague praise, no unsatisfactory comparisons, no unsympathizing rebuke and fault-finding. The critic has first entered into the spirit of his author, so that he sees with his eyes and hears with his ears, and then, as in a self-examination, he brings all before the tribunal of Art; he is at once writer, and judge over the writer; he gives to you the scene as it was before the mind of Schiller, and in the same breath gently reveals the faults of it. Thus, he says of the Bride of Messina :

"For beautiful and touching delineations of life; for pensive and pathetic reflections, sentiments, and images, conveyed in language simple but nervous and emphatic, this tragedy stands high in the rank of modern compositions. There is in it a breath of young tenderness and ardor, mingled impressively with the feelings of gray-haired experience, whose recollections are darkened with melancholy, whose very hopes are checkered and solemn.... Still there is too little action in the play; the incidents are too abundantly diluted with reflection, the interest pauses, flags, and fails to produce its full effect. For its specimens of Lyrical poetry, tender, affecting, sometimes exquisitely beautiful, the Bride of Messina will long deserve a careful perusal; but as exemplifying a new form of the Drama, it has found no imitators, and is likely to find none." p. 217.

There is, indeed, throughout the volume, a rare spirit of literary toleration; the writer never speaks as a partisan, always as an Artist, a seeker of absolute beauty.

Following the life of Schiller, in 1827, Carlyle published four volumes of German Romance, with critical essays upon the various writers from whose works he had selected his volumes.

In these essays we see a maturer and bolder spirit than that which spoke in the Life of Schiller. The slight constraint which appears here and there in that work has left him, and with rapid, strong, and free strokes, he lays before us his views of the master-minds among the Germans. His style is as simple and direct as ever, but more condensed and expressive: his sympathy speaks out more frankly, his imagination has fuller play; he goes to his work with the hearty ease of a man who has put off an outer coat; and the earnest Schiller, and the wild Richter, and the calm, common, unfathomed Goethe, are by turn entered into, and made known to us. Those peculiar views of man, his nature and end, which in the life of Schiller were referred to as by one standing without them, now come forward more clearly, as though the writer had seen, if he had not entered into them.*

The fellow-feeling which Carlyle has for the serious tone of Schiller we have already mentioned, but with Richter his fellowfeeling is deeper and warmer; he sees all that strange man's excellencies, excuses his faults, dwells upon his might, his compass, his wild strange melodies, with a love that makes him eloquent :

"His face was long hid from us," he says, tracing the progress of a mind in the study of Jean Paul, “but we see him at length in the firm shape of spiritual manhood; a vast and most singular nature, but vindicating his singular nature by the force, the beauty, and benignity, which pervade it. The graces, the polish, the sprightly elegancies which belong to men of lighter make, we cannot look for or demand from him. His movement is essentially slow and cumbrous, for he advances not with one faculty, but with a whole mind; with intellect, and pathos, and wit, and humor, and imagination, moving onward like a mighty host, motley, ponderous, irregular, irresistible. He is not airy, sparkling, and precise; but deep, billowy, and vast. The melody of his nature is not expressed in common note-marks, or written down by the critical gamut: for it is wild and manifold; its voice is like the voice of cataracts, and

Life of Schiller, pp. 138 to 146.

the sounding of primeval forests. To feeble ears it is discord, but to ears that understand it, deep, majestic music."

Not less bold and strong is his sketch of Goethe's mind, of which, he says:

"The first aspect that strikes us is its calmness, then its beauty; a deeper inspection reveals to us its vastness, and unmeasured strength. This man rules, and is not ruled. The stern and fiery energies of a most passionate soul lie silent in the centre of his being: a trembling sensibility has been inured to stand, without flinching or murmur, the sharpest trials. Nothing outward, nothing inward, shall agitate or control him. The brightest and most capricious fancy, the most piercing and exquisite intellect, the wildest and deepest imagination; the highest thrills of joy, the bitterest pangs of sorrow: all these are his, he is not their's. While he moves every heart from its steadfastness, his own is firm and still the words that search into the inmost recesses of our nature, he pronounces with a tone of coldness and equanimity in the deepest pathos he weeps not, or his tears are like water trickling from a rock of adamant. He is a King of himself and of his world; nor does he rule it like a vulgar great man, a Napoleon or Charles the twelfth, by the mere brute exertion of his will, grounded on no principle, or on a false one: his faculties and feelings are not fettered or prostrated under the iron sway of Passion, but led and guided in kindly union, under the mild sway of Reason; as the fierce primeval elements of Chaos were stilled at the coming of Light, and bound together, under its soft vesture, into a glorious and beneficent Creation."


In these short extracts our readers may see the great feature of Carlyle's mind, as shown in these essays on German romance writers, his wonderful sympathy with men as far from one another as the authors of Hesperus and Meister; his imagination identifies him, for the time, with each, while his quick intellect seizes every point in the two minds, and paints them to our intellects. His mode of viewing them, his ideas of men and things, his mode of presenting what he sees to us- are nowise peculiar he sees as other men see he speaks as other men speak his language is full of meaning, point, and power; but it is the common language of the day, and has, now and then, something of the swing of a practised writer; everywhere it is easy, harmonious, and liquid, and generally simple and pictorial: it is the language of one who has words to say all that there is in him to be said.

The volumes of German romance were published, as we have stated, in 1827; in June of that year, appeared the first of Carlyle's periodical criticisms, that upon Richter. The views pre

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