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vice, whenever I would have the goodness to pay the postage.
This latter clause was added, because, in full confidence of the value of my merchandize, I had sent the parcel unfranked, meaning the carriage to be deducted from the profits of the work. He doubtless supposed, that here he had me secure, and that from paternal affection I should readily pay whatever was necessary for the release of my child. But he was terribly mistaken. What! should my hero not merely throw himself from a rock for nothing, but must I even pay for it ?-No: this was too much !this was a humiliation not to be endured !
I cannot deny, but that I had been very glad to have my manuscript again in my own possession, since I had no other copy of it. Like a true genius, I had sent it to seek its fortune as it was first written off, without a single correction or emendation ; for í thought the public sufficiently honoured by receiving anything from my pen, no matter how hurried or incorrect the production; a species of arrogance and impertinence to which puerile authors are too much addicted. But 'tis well known, that we sons of the muses are seldom overstocked with money; and, added therefore to my indignant feelings on the subject, I thought it more prudent, with regard to my pocket, to leave the precious treasure in pawn: ard there, perhaps, it lies at this moment, unless Mr Weigand, to indemnify himself as far as possible for the postage, may have sold it to the pastry-cook for baking tarts. if such have been its fate, I can only regret that I have not partaken of the tarts myself.
In the year 1779, I returned to Jena, and applied myself with tolerable diligence to studying the law. The old H- who entertained his audience with ribaldry; the dry S—, who never in his life produced but two jokes, which he was continually repeating, and at which nobody laughed but himself; the prosing tasteless W- ; and the worthy, but uncouth Sch—, were my preceptors. I attended lectures on history from Müller, who could not utter a period without introducing the words • here and there,' no matter whether they had any business there, or not. Logic and metaphysics I studied with counsellor Ulric,* who had then no competitor in this department, and I continued to improve myself in languages under Boulet and Valenti. My leisure hours were devoted, heart and soul, to the private theatre.
About that time I produced a tragedy, called Charlotte Frank,' which, miserable as it was, would probably in these days have drawn upon me the honour of persecution. The story was of a prince, who in hunting, accidentally saw the daughter of a country clergyman, and instantly fell in love with her. He contrived to carry her off; but she being also beloved by another young man of a fiery and impetuous disposition, the prince was ultimately shot by the des. pairing lover. *One of the characters was a sort of Marinelli, a hanger-on of the prince's, and in costume a very miserable copy of a captain of hussars. The country clergyman was a no less miserable imitation of Odoardo.
Be that as it may, I succeeded in persuading our company to perform my drama; and Wolf, the de. ceased chapel-master, was so obliging as to compose a very fine adagio for it. This was played while the hero of the piece was at his prayers, and was by far the best thing in the whole performance. I myself personated the prince; but alas ! when at last I ought to have been shot, the pistol missed fire. Against this emergency, however, my murderer was prepared, as he had armed himself also with a
This does not mean a counsellor, according to the idea of the word in England, but an “aulic counsellor,' a mere title of honour, conferred very lavishly in Germany.-TRANB. LATOR.
dagger ; but I was so eager to die, that I fell at sight of the pistol before I had time to perceive the disaster. The hero, however, threw himself upon my prematurely dead body, and equally resolved to kill, as I was to die, gave me several desperate stabs with t'ie dagger. The curtain dropped, and the audience were very sparing of their applause.
Soon after, I ventured upon a comedy, which I called · Wives à-la-mode.' This succeeded much better than my tragedy; and, if I am not mistaken, contained some strokes of genuine comic humour. Several anecdotes of the town were covertly interspersed in it, and these obtained the piece more applause than perhaps it deserved.
This success was but too grateful to sarcastic youth, and fatally contributed towards confirming me in an unfortunate propensity I always had to satire. I have rarely, however, suffered myself to indulge in this species of writing, and I can truly say, that when I have, it has never been to gratify spleen or ill-nature. Yet, since I arrived at years of maturity, it has been the cause of embittering many hours of my life. Satire is like the sting of a bee, the stinger thinks no more of it after it is past, but he leaves his weapon behind, which rankles, probably for ever, within the breast of the wounded person.
Take warning from me, ye who are entering on the career of authorship, and shun this dangerous path! A malicious audience, it is true, will smile upon you on all sides, while perhaps at the same moment they are aiming the heaviest strokes against you in secret. And should this sketch have the happy effect of deterring but one person from falling into so delusive a snare, I am content; my trouble is amply repaid.
I must not here omit mentioning a poetical club, instituted by myself and some of my
from which, besides its affording us many very pleasant hours, we derived much real advantage. We met
occasionally to read together little pieces of our own production. These were afterwards sent round to all the members for their several remarks, which were discussed at the next meeting. After some time, our institution received a very great accession from the aulic counsellor Schutz being prevailed upon to become our president. It may easily be supposed, how much the consciousness that our works were to pass under the inspection of so excellent a judge, stimulated our zeal. He was extremely candid to our defects, and set an example as a critic, which, surry am I to say, the critical corps, at whose head he now stands, have not thought proper to follow.
In my eighteenth year I was admitted a member of the German society at Jena, which I then considered as a very high honour-an error I have long since retracted. Of the essays read in that assembly, I recollect only one, which contained an elaborate defence of the emperor Julian But I remember also, that even in those days, the silly tales invented by various sects of religionists, and the blood-thirsty rancour with which they persecuted each other, excited my utmost abhorrence.
Some months, spent very pleasantly during the summer, in frequent visits to the garden of Clippstein, gave existence to a small collection of poems, which, by means of my friend Musæus, were printed by W- at E- I cautiously avoid mentioning either the title of the collection, or the name of the publisher, since the curiosity of some readers might be sufficiently awakened to induce a wish of bringing the babe once more into light, by which I am conscious that I should be no gainer. At that time, however, the publication gave me inexpressible satisfaction, and I eagerly searched every catalogue that fell into my hands, in hopes of finding my beloved volume among the list.
Whence comes it that we feel such exquisite sensations of delight on our admission into the sanctum sanctorum of authorship? By what claim does the young author regard his first publication as a credential to the public? Does he consider the art of embodying the effusions of his imagination so as to render them visible to others, in the light of an acquired merit? Does he forget, that poets, equally with mechanics, have been born beneath a roof of straw? That the organization of the frame, and the irritability of the nerves, or the activity of their juices, if juices they have, constitute the wonderful variety we behold in mental propensities, or what is commonly called talent; consequently, that the art of writing poetry can be as little esteemed a merit of his own acquisition as corporeal strength or beauty? • In order to give a public proof that I was not trifling away my time solely with the belles lettres, I closed my academical career at Jena, in my nineteenth year, with taking the character of an opponent at a doctor's degree. Soon after I returned to Weimar, where I studied the Pandects with extreme diligerce, was examined by the principals in the law, and admitted as an advocate. Here, while I was waiting for clients, I continued to be myself a zealous client of the muses.
Two or three years before, a satirical ballad had escaped my pen, reflecting, perhaps unjustifiably, upon the fair of Weimar. To atone for this transgression was now my first object; and I sang their beauties, and their virtues, in such elaborate strains as I hoped would entirely efface all unpleasant l'ecollections. My offence originated in the following circumstance.
A figure-dancer had been exhibiting his feats at Weimar, who had a singular art of displaying his fine Herculean form to the utmost possible advantage, by the great variety of his attitudes, and the graceful movements of his body. Scandal soon began to be busy in buzzing about the town, a report that he had made a deep impression on the hearts of many of our