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If there be a twenty-year old book It is, however, by far the best transin the world that is “as good as MS." lation of a foreign tragic drama which --that is to say, that nobody has seen, our English literature possesses ; and although many have talked of it, it is as such, it is well worthy of being the translation of Schiller's Wallen- more effectually recalled to the recolstein, by Mr Coleridge. The fact is, lection of the present reading public. that the existence of such a work had Strange certainly, but as certainly true been almost entirely lost sight of, un- it is, that we have nothing like any til it was recalled to a sort of “ Life- adequate version of any one of the in-death," by being made to furnish masterpieces of Greek- of Spanishsome quotations for the beginnings of even of French tragedy. And it is chapters in “ The Scotch Novels.” not less true, that, besides this one, The author of those Novels mentioned we have no excellent complete transWallenstein, on one of these occa- lation of any German tragedy whatsions, as “ more magnificent in the ever-except, perhaps, Mr Gillies's English of Coleridge than in the Ger- version of Müllner's Guilt, and Müll. man of Schiller ;” and in the recent ner is not yet a master. But Schiller republication of The Friend, Mr Cole- is not only one of the true masters of ridge acknowledges this extravagant German tragedy, but he is, we have compliment in a strain of still more no hesitation in saying, by far the extravagant gratefulness. The author greatest master of tragedy that has of Waverley understands English bet- appeared in Europe since the death of ter than German-therefore he enjoys Calderon. In many particulars he is the translated Wallenstein more fully the inferior of Goethe--but in the than the original; but it was not fair drama, the real living drama of tragic to disparage Schiller in this style. Had action, he is, we cannot doubt, his Schiller translated the Ancient Mari- illustrious countryman's superior. The ner into German, he could have pro- Faust is a thing by itself—it is a duced nothing so good as Coleridge's thing of a kind by itself—it is a new original; and Coleridge's Wallenstein creation-it places its author in the is an admirable translation-but it is very first rank of human genius; but nothing more-it is not an original - it is not a tragic drama in the same it is not so magnificent as the Wallen- sense with Egmont, or any of Goethe's stein of Schiller.
pieces meant for the stage. To all of VOL. XIV.
these, Schiller's Wallenstein, Carlos, influence upon the great mind of Eng. and Bride of Messina, are decidedly land. It was the Minstrelsy of the superior. They have more of the real Scottish Border that first turned atvis dramatica—they have much more tention largely and deeply to the lanof the fire and the life-they come guage and the poetry of Scotland ; nearer Shakespeare in those particular and the works of Burns gradually qualities, wherein, considered merely profited by the same circunstances, as a writer for the stage, he is as un- which opened the full career of a still rivalled, as, in some other and yet more splendid popularity to the greathigher things, he is, and, in all pro- est of all his poetical successors. Had bability, will ever be, unapproached. Burns lived, what he might have done An admirable version, therefore, of one no one can tell—but he was cut off of this great author's inost admirable early in life ; and when we reflect how works, is a possession of which we late it was ere his intellectual youth ought to be exceedingly proud ; and (considering all the disadvantages unwe very gladly embrace this opportu. der which he laboured) could be said nity of noticing it at some length, for to terminate, he died much younger three several reasons.
than any other poet of his years. Even 1st, By doing so, we shall, at very laying this aside, had he lived till little cost of labour, furnish our read. now, he would not have been an old ers with a first-rate piece of entertain man.-But what avail such speculament and delight.
tions ? 2dly, We shall probably incite the At the time when Coleridge pubbookseller (whoever he is) that bas lished his Wallenstein, then, it may the copy-right, to publish a new edi. be said, that the English public had tion of the whole work; and we shall got out of the habit of looking for thereby do a service both to Mr Cole good new poetry. The toleration of ridge and to the public, as well as to such a barren coxcomb as Hayley, is the said bookseller. And,
a sufficient proof of the low state to 3dly, We shall, we would fain hope, which these matters had been reincite-if not Mr Coleridge himself- duced. The fact, that such idiots as men of talent not quite so unjust to Miss Seward and her Litchfield crothemselves as he is and has been to nies were suffered to have any sort of himself, to make further experiments intellectual existence at all, is, it poson the fruitful field of genuine Ger- sible, still more conclusive. Such was man tragedy.-Mr R. P. Gillies and the profound languor into which we Lord Francis Gower, in particular, had fallen, that nothing but a stimuhave already shewn themselves to be lant of the very first-rate power had in possession of every accomplishment the least chance of rousing us. It was this labour requires; and we would not the display of juvenile ingenuity earnestly hope neither of them will it was not the elegance of imitation turn a deaf ear to the public voice -it was not even the bloom of true which bids them proceed. There is promise, that could disturb such a le“ ample room and scope enough” for thargy. Nay more-it was not even both; and, unless we be greatly mis- genius, highest genius itself, exerted taken, anything as good as the Eng in any other form than one of equal lish Wallenstein produced now, would excellence and novelty, that could be be sure to meet with a very different sufficient to work such a wonder. The reception from that which was vouch- carly poems of Coleridge and Southey safed to Coleridge by the reading pub- were totally ineffectual appeals to the lic of 1800.
ear of the slumbering giant. Even That was a strange period in many Wordsworth appealed in vain, for his points of view-and, in a literary music was not the trumpet-note to point of view, at least as much so as wake the dead. But at last a trumin any other. There had been, we pet-note was heard, and from the apmay say, a pause-a total pause in pearance of the Lay of the Last Minour poetry for a full score of years strel, there has been neither slumberfor although Burns, one of the most ing nor folding of the hands to sleep. genuine of poets, had been astonish Mr Coleridge's translation from ing Scotland, Scotland was then mere Schiller appeared just when the apa. Scotland, and his genius had not up thy had attained that depth, which to that time exerted any commanding was, although no one dreamed of it, the sure prelude to a burst of revivi regions were placed at that period. The fication. Had it been an English ori. Wallenstein produced about as great a ginal, it might have done wonders; sensation in its native country, as any but we were at our darkest too proud first-rate work of genius ever produced to be kindled by a foreign torch, and anywhere ; and yet it appeared when the WALLENSTEin had, like the first Wieland and Goethe were both of publication of Wordsworth’s Lyrical them in the height of their glory-it Ballads, the fate to delight the few, appeared at a time when every winter and to be totally neglected by the was producing a host of masterpieces many.
in every department of letters in GerHad he published Christabel when many-it appeared at a time when it was written, and gone on in that the public of that country might have strain, Coleridge might have broken been supposed to be saturated with the the charm-but there is no use in excess of poetical luxuries. The transconjecturing and reflecting.
lation, on the other hand, appeared The translation of Wallenstein was here when we were starving, absolutepublished in England very shortly af- ly starving-and it appeared only to ter the original play was first acted in be neglected. Germany, and indeed before the ori. Not such would have been the ginal had been printed at all—at least fate of such a translation appearing we suppose so, for Mr C. tells us in in the midst of any of the truly his preface, that he worked upon a productive periods of English literaMS. copy. In point of fact, the Wal- ture. At such periods a craving is lenstein, as it now appears in Schile created, which no supply of genuine ler's works, is, in many minor mat- food can ever be in the least danger of ters, very different from what it seems satisfying to the brink of surfeit. It to have been, when it engaged Mr was in the midst of the most illusColeridge's attention. Schiller was triously productive period our literanever weary of retouching his wri- ture has ever known, that Don Quixote tings, and he fastened many alterations was first translated into English, and and many additions on this great per that work immediately took its place by formance, subsequent to its first ap- the side of the most favoured creations pearance on the stage. But, after all, of vernacular genius. Gil Blas, in like these are, comparatively speaking, mere manner, appeared among us at the very trifles; although, if Mr Coleridge were time when we had our own Swifts, to republish his translation in toto, it Popes, Gays, and Arbuthnots-Voltaire would certainly be his duty to give it competed boldly and directly with our a careful revision. In some instances, Fieldings, Smollets, and Goldsmiths. indeed, we suspect the MS. he had These works had only to appear in order before his eyes must have been inac- to succeed, because we were in the full curate or illegible--for there are ble- enjoyment of that high excitement, mishes which otherwise we should be that flow of intellectual health, which at a loss to account for. *
no stimulus but that of present, living, The translation, be all this as it native genius can originally supply. may, was executed in Germany du- But the greatest tragedian that the ring the first triumphant popularity world had seen for two centuries, apof the original as an acting play. pealed, and appealed in vain, to the When we think of this when we English ear, because that ear had becompare the prodigious effect which come dull and dead amidst the “ Sylthe German Wallenstein produced in vas nil resonantes” of an age of inertGermany, and the apathy with which ness, pomposity, and barren pretenthis admirable version was received at sion. Had he struck into a concert of the very same moment in England, competing masters, he would have we know nothing that might furnish been received with rapture by them, a more striking proof of the very dif- and therefore by all the rest-but the ferent circumstances under which the distant note of genuine power could poetical literatures of these two kindred not be heard amidst the drowsy tinkle
. Even as it is, how are we to understand such a blunder as that of making the Countess Tertsky not the sister of Wallenstein, (on which circumstance her character depends,) but the sister of his wife ?
of Jews' harps, with which, at that a genius as Goethe's. I may love and era of intellectual indolence, we had admire--but, I feel it, I cannot be the condescended to be entertained. friend."
Schiller, as our readers are probably This modesty augured well, and in aware, commenced his poetical career after years, it need not be said, Schiller ere he had well passed the threshold and Goethe did live together as equals of manhood. The severe discipline of and as friends. The near contemplathe military academy at which he was tion of Goethe's matured and triumpheducated disgusted him; and his juve- ant genius appears, however, to have nile revenge was that singular per- checked for a season Schiller's poetical formance, which, by its too vivid paint ambition. This, perhaps, was not the ing of the joys of a life free from all the worst thing that could have happened restraints of human rule, set the young for his upshot of fame. Schiller turn“ hot bloods” of Germany into one fer- ed himself to the study of history, ment of madness. “The Robbers" above all of German history, with all produced, among other things, an inter- the vigour of his intellect. By Goedict upon the pen of its young author, the's interest he was appointed ere from taose most grave and potent Sig- long to a historical professorship at niors, the Inspectors of the Press for Jena, and there he remained for several the Dutchy of Wirtemberg. This, years, cultivating his mind with the however, was the very best thing that most persevering diligence, and living could have happened for Schiller, for in society admirably calculated to imthe excellent Goethe immediately made prove and refine both his genius and the cause his own, and eremany months his manners. The distance between had elapsed, the Juvenile Poet was en- Jena and Weimar is so inconsiderable, abled to prosecute his studies under that he could easily spend the morning very different auspices, within the do- in his university, and the evening minions of Goethe's illustrious FRIEND, amidst the quiet elegancies of that that universally honoured patron of charming little capital; and, besides, genius, the Duke of Saxe Weimar. there was a favourite garden and small The youthful Schiller describes, in one inn, situated about half-way between of his letters, the first meeting he had the two towns, where he, Goethe, with the remarkable person, whose ge- Wieland, and other literary friends, nerosity had thus befriended him. He used to meet occasionally. Indeed, that saw Goethe with that mixture of cus circle of worthies was at all times a riosity and awe, without which such a jovial one; and the club, which, at a youth could scarcely have been expecte subsequent period, united them all ed to find himself for the first time in thrice-a-week at Weimar, was the pa. the presence of such a man. Goethe re- rent of half the chansons-a-boire that lieved his embarrassment by talking in are now popular over Germany. the most free and friendly manner to It was after a pause of more than him throughout the greater part of the ten years that Schiller re-appeared as evening. " I love him," says Schiller, a tragedian. He had published in the in the letter which he wrote the same interim a few minor poems and vaevening ere he went to bed—“ I love rious Historical Essays-most of these him- I love this great and good man in a Magazine, which at that time -but we shall never be friends. I am flourished at Weimar under Wieland's too much his junior. He has outlived auspices and more lately he had prowhat I am. He has felt all that I feel, duced the best of all his prose wribut he has passed onwards the things tings, “ The History of the Thirty that I am interested with, nay, that I Years' War." The poetical spark, howa ought to be interested with, are to him ever, had not been extinguished-and the dreams of a youth that has vanish- when he once more made his appeared. He may look back and sympathise ance as a dramatist, the choice of his with me by his imagination, but I can subjects sufficiently shewed, that while not leap over the experience of years. he had been collecting the materials I cannot communicate on equal terms for bistorical composition, he had halfwith this man, who has lived in the unconsciously been concentrating upworld more than twice as long as I on these very materials all the fire and have done who has contemplated the splendour of a genius, whose true dese events and the spirits of that long tination could not long be gainsaid. course of time, with the eyes of such His labours on “ The Revolt of the
Netherlands," produced his Don Care wrote,) till one o'clock, when he dined los ; and his great historical work, -Walked out for an hour or two by “The Thirty Years' War," was follow- himself, in the Duke of Weimar's ed by that magnificent drama, or rather pleasure-grounds, (by the way he alcycle of dramas, in which he turns his ways plunged into the nearest thicket history into poetry, or rather draws if he saw anybody coming)-went to out, and embodies in one exquisite the play between four and five every whole, the hidden poetry inherent in afternoon-supped in company after& period of great historical interest wards and then shut himself in his in which, he paints the age which be- room to write. He continued at his fore he had chronicled, and luxuriates writing-table for several hours. And in the privilege of following to the in- we are in possession, (thanks to Meinmost recesses of their bosoms, those herr Doering, above mentioned,) of a high-fated specimens of the daring and graphic enough account of his method the crafty, the generous and the sordid, of demeaning himself, while thus octhe prominent exterior of whose deeds cupied. “ The neighbours who lived and fortunes had already been recorded opposite,” says this writer,“ bave oftby him in a shape, which, (to translate en described to me the midnight of the fine expression of, if we be not mis Schiller. He had close to him on his taken, one of his own minor poems,) table a bottle of old Rhine-wine, which “ Smother'd indignant Inspiration's flame,
sometimes had need to be replenished
ere his labours were completed. When And bound the Fever which it could not
he had finished a small portion of
writing, he invariably rose and deThis preface is extending itself to a claimed to himself, in a loud and solength of which we had no anticipa- norous voice, striding vehemently up tions ; but, since we have been seduced and down his chamber ; but if it was into talking of Schiller's life, we must a fine night, he would throw up the say one word about his death, or ra- window, and pour out his verses to the ther its proximate cause. We had a open air. Occasionally he wrote with little book * lately laid on our table, his pipe in his mouth. It was often in which the affair is gone into at great two or even half-past two ere he retired length-And will our readers believe to his bed-chamber.” it ? this worthy German biographer . We hope this passage may be of gravely ascribes the death of Schiller use to some friends of ours who shall at the age of forty-to what?-why to be nameless; but, in the meantime, the habits of writing after supper, and let us return to the Wallenstein, from lying in bed until nine o'clock in the which we have most improperly been morning!
wandering-and that the more inexIf these were mortal circumstances, cusably, because, after turning over a pretty bill of deaths we should have the leaves of the volume, as we have The occurrence of such a passage, in a just done, it is sufficiently evident that book published so near us only last no one article of ours can be sufficient year, is, of itself, enough to shew how to give to our readers anything like far the ideas and manners of the good an adequate notion of this performpeople of Weimar, are in Schiller's mo- ance. One thing we shall cut short. dest phrase, “our juniors.”-In fair. Madame de Stael's “ Germany" is in ness, however, we must admit that every hand; and Professor Schlegel's Schiller really seems to have had a very Lectures on Dramatic Literature are inadequate measure of respect for å at least in many. From either of these constitution, which could never have works a tolerable enough idea of the been a very robust one. During the general structure of WALLENSTEIN latter years of his life, (i. e. from thirty may be derived; and anxious as we to forty,) while he was engaged in are to keep all the room we can for writing his chief dramatic works, his extracts from Mr Coleridge's version, mode of life was as follows:-He rose, we shall trust almost entirely to this as we have seen, at the unchristian aid ; and, indeed, speak henceforth in hour of nine, and ate a tolerable break- sonte sort upon the supposition, that fast-smoked and read, (but never those who listen are not altogether in
• Doering's Leben, &c. Weimar. 1822.