than words. We feel this, and do justice to the romantic extravagance of the German Muse.

In Germany, where this outrè style of treating every thing established and adventitious was carried to its height, there were, as we learn from the Sorrows of Werter, seven-and-twenty ranks in society, each raised above the other, and of which the one above did not speak to the one below it. Is it wonderful that the poets and philosophers of Germany, the discontented men of talent, who thought and mourned for themselves and their fellows, the Goethes, the Lessings, the Schillers, the Kotzebues, felt a sudden and irresistible impulse by a convulsive effort to tear aside this factitious drapery of society, and to throw off that load of bloated prejudice, of maddening pride and superannuated folly, that pressed down every energy of their nature and stifled the breath of liberty, of truth and genius in their bosoms? These Titans of our days tried to throw off the dead weight that encumbered them, and in so doing, warred not against heaven, but against earth. The same writers (as far as I have seen) have made the only incorrigible Jacobins, and their school of poetry is the only real school of Radical Reform.

In reasoning, truth and soberness may pre

vail, on which side soever they meet : but in works of imagination novelty has the advantage over prejudice; that which is striking and unheard-of, over that which is trite and known before, and that which gives unlimited scope to the indulgence of the feelings and the passions (whether erroneous or not) over that which imposes a restraint



I have halftrifled with this subject; and I believe I have done so, because I despaired of finding language for some old rooted feelings I have about it, which a theory could neither give or can it take away. The Robbers was the first play I ever read: and the effect it produced upon me was the greatest. It stunned me like a blow, and I have not recovered enough from it to describe how it was. There are impressions which neither time nor circumstances can efface. Were I to live much longer than I have any chance of doing, the books which I read when I was young, never forget. Five-and-twenty years have elapsed since I first read the translation of the Robbers, but they have not blotted the impression from my mind: it is here still, an old dweller in the chambers of the brain. The scene in particular in which Moor looks through his tears at the evening sun from the mountain's brow, and says in his despair, “ It was my wish like him to live,

I can

like him to die: it was an idle thought, a boy's conceit,” took fast hold of my imagination, and that sun has to me never set! The last interview in Don Carlos between the two lovers, in which the injured bride struggles to burst the prison-house of her destiny, in which her hopes and youth lie coffined, and buried, as it were, alive, under the oppression of unspeakable anguish, 1 remember gave me a deep sense of suffering and a strong desire after good, which has haunted me ever since. I do not like Schiller's later style so well. His Wallenstein, which is admirably and almost literally translated by Mr. Coleridge, is stately, thoughtful, and imaginative: but where is the enthusiasm, the throbbing of hope and fear, the mortal struggle between the passions ; as if all the happiness or misery of a life were crowded into a moment, and the die was to be cast that instant? Kotzebue's best work I read first in Cumberland's imitation of it in the Wheel of Fortune ; and I confess that that style of sentiment which seems to make of life itself a longdrawn endless sigh, has something in it that pleases me, in spite of rules and criticism. Goethe's tragedies are (those that I have seen of them, his Count Egmont, Stella, &c.) constructed upon the second or inverted manner of the German stage, with a deliberate design to avoid all possible effect and interest, and this object is completely accomplished. He is however spoken of with enthusiasm almost amounting to idolatry by his countrymen, and those among ourselves who import heavy German criticism into this country in shallow flat-bottomed unwieldy intellects. Madame De Stael speaks of one passage in his Iphigenia, where he introduces a fragment of an old song,

which the Furies are supposed to sing to Tantalus in hell, reproaching him with the times when he sat with the Gods at their golden tables, and with his after-crimes that hurled him from heaven, at which he turns his eyes from his children and hangs his head in mournful silence: This is the true sublime. Of all his works I like his Werter best, nor would I part with it at a venture, even for the Memoirs of Anastasius the Greek, whoever is the author; nor ever cease to think of the times, “ when in the fine summer evenings they saw the frank, noble-minded enthusiast coming up from the valley," nor of “ the

that by the light of the departing sun waved in the breeze over his grave.”

high grass

But I have said enough to give an idea of this modern style, compared with our own early Dramatic Literature, of which I had to treat.I have done : and if I have done no better, the fault has been in me, not in the subject. My liking to this grew with my knowledge of it:

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but so did my anxiety to do it justice. I somehow felt it as a point of honour not to make my hearers think less highly of some of these old writers than I myself did of them. If I have praised an author, it was because I liked him: if I have quoted a passage, it was because it pleased me in the reading: if I have spoken contemptuously of any one, it has been reluctantly. It is no easy task, that a writer, even in so humble a class as myself, takes upon him; he is scouted and ridiculed if he fails ; and if he succeeds, the enmity and cavils and malice with which he is assailed, are just in proportion to his success.

The coldness and jealousy of his friends not unfrequently keep pace with the rancour of his enemies. They do not like you a bit the better for fulfilling the good opinion they always entertained of you. They would wish you to be always promising a great deal, and doing nothing, that they may answer for the performance. That shows their sagacity and does not hurt their vanity. An author wastes his time in painful study and obscure researches, to gain a little breath of popularity, meets with nothing but vexation and disappointment in ninety-nine instances out of a hundred; or when he thinks to grasp the luckless prize, finds it not worth the trouble—the perfume of a minute, fleeting as a shadow, hollow as a sound;


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