Ҿ˹˹ѧ
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

'T had been but Fortune's common fickleness.
But that a paltry Farce should tread us down!
Did toil and peril, all our earnest life,
Deserve no graver issue?

LIONEL (grasps his hand).

Talbot, farewell!
The meed of bitter tears I'll duly pay you,
When the fight is done, should I outlive it.
But now Fate calls me to the field, where yet
She wav'ring sits, and shakes her doubtsul urn.
Farewell! we meet beyond the unseen shore.
Brief parting for long friendship! God be with you!

[Exit.

TALBOT.

Soon it is over, and to th' Earth I render,
To th' everlasting Sun, the transient atoms
Which for pain and pleasure join'd to form me;
And of the mighty Talbot, whose renown
Once fill'd the world, remains naught but a handful
Of Aitting dust. Thus man comes to his end;
And all our conquest in the fight of Life
Is knowledge that 'tis Nothing, and contempt
For hollow shows which once we chas'd and worship'd.

SCENE VII.

Enter CHARLES, BURGUNDY, DUNOIS, DU CHATEL, and Soldiers.

BURGUNDY.
The trench is stormed.

DUNOIS.

Bravo! The fight is ours.

CHARLES (observing TALBOT).
Ha! who is this that to the light of day
Is bidding his constrained and sad farewell ?
His bearing speaks no common man: go, haste,
Assist him, if assistance yet avail.

[Soldiers from the Dauphin's suite step forward.

FASTOLF.
Back! Keep away! Approach not the Departing,
Him whom in life ye never wished too near.

BURGUNDY. What do I see ? Great Talbot in his blood! [He goes towards him. TALBOT gazes fixedly at him, and dies.

19

VOL. II.

FASTOLF.

Off, Burgundy! With th' aspect of a Traitor

Disturb not the last moment of a Hero. The · Power-words and Thunder-words,' as the Germans call them, so frequent in the Robbers, are altogether wanting here; that volcanic fury has assuaged itself; instead of smoke and red lava, we have sunshine and a verdant world. For stili more striking examples of this benignant change, we might refer to many scenes (too long for our present purposes) in Wallenstein, and indeed in all the Dramas which followed this, and most of all in Wilhelm Tell, which is the latest of them. The careful, and in general truly poetic structure of these works, considered as complete Poems, would exhibit it infinitely better ; but for this object, larger limits than ours at present, and studious Readers as well as a Reviewer, were essential.

In his smaller Poems the like progress is visible. Schiller's works should all be dated, as we study them; but indeed the most, by internal evidence, date themselves.— Besides the Lied der Glocke, already mentioned, there are many lyrical pieces of high merit; particularly a whole series of Ballads, nearly every one of which is true and poetical. The Ritter Toggenburg, the Dragon-fight, the Diver, are all well known; the Cranes of Ibycus has in it, under this simple form, something Old-Grecian, an emphasis, a prophetic gloom which might seem borrowed even from the spirit of Æschylus. But on these, or any farther on the other poetical works of Schiller, we must not dilate at present. One little piece, which lies by us translated, we may give, as a specimen of his style in this lyrical province, and therewith terminate this part of our subject. It is entitled Alpenlied (Song of the Alps), and seems to require no commentary. Perhaps something of the clear, melodious, yet still somewhat metallic, tone of the original may penetrate even through our version.

1 Thus, to take one often-cited instance, Moor's simple question, • Whether there is any powder left?' receives this emphatic answer: * Powder enough to blow the Earth into the Moon!'

SONG OF THE ALPS.
By the edge of the chasm is a slippery Track,
The torrent beneath, and the mist hanging o'er thee;
The cliffs of the mountain, huge, rugged and black,
Are frowning like giants before thee:
And, wouldst thou not waken the sleeping Lawine,
Walk silent and soft through the deadly ravine.

That Bridge, with its dizzying, perilous span
Aloft o'er the gulf and its flood suspended,
Think'st thou it was built by the art of man,
By his hand that grim old arch was bended ?
Far down in the jaws of the gloomy abyss
The water is boiling and hissing, forever will hiss.

That Gate through the rocks is as darksome and drear,
As if to the region of Shadows it carried :
Yet enter! A sweet laughing landscape is here,
Where the Spring with the Autumn is married.
From the world with its sorrows and warfare and wail,
O could I but hide in this bright little vale!

Four Rivers rush down from on high,
Their spring will be hidden forever;
Their course is to all the four points of the sky,
To each point of the sky is a river;
And fast as they start from their old Mother's feet,
They dash forth, and no more will they meet.

Two Pinnacles rise to the depths of the Blue:
Aloft on their white summits glancing,
Bedeck'd in their garments of golden dew,
The Clouds of the sky are dancing;
There threading alone their lightsome maze,
Uplifted apart from all mortals' gaze.

And high on her ever-enduring throne
The Queen of the mountains reposes;
Her head serene, and azure, and lone,
A diamond crown encloses ;
The Sun with his darts shoots round it keen and hot,
He gilds it always, he warms it not.

Of Schiller's Philosophic talent, still more of the results he had arrived at in philosophy, there were much to be said and thought; which we must not enter upon here. As hinted above, his primary endowment seems to us fully as much philosophical as poetical: his intellect, at all events, is peculiarly of that character; strong, penetrating, yet systematic and scholastic, rather than intuitive; and manifesting this tendency both in the objects it treats, and in its mode of treating them. The Transcendental Philosophy, which arose in Schiller's busiest era, could not remain without influence on him: he had carefully studied Kant's System, and appears to have not only admitted but zealously appropriated its fundamental doctrines ; remoulding them, however, into his own peculiar forms, so that they seem no longer borrowed, but permanently acquired, not less Schiller's than Kant's. Some, perhaps little aware of his natural wants and tendencies, are of opinion that these speculations did not profit him: Schiller himself, on the other hand, appears to have been well contented with his Philosophy; in which, as harmonised with his Poetry, the assurance and safe anchorage for his moral nature might lie.

' From the opponents of the New Philosophy,' says he, ‘I expect not that tolerance, which is shown to every other system, no better seen into than this : for Kant's Philosophy itself, in its leading points, practises no tolerance ; and bears much too rigorous a character, to leave any room for accommodation. But in my eyes this does it honour; proving how little it can endure to have truth tampered with. Such a Philosophy will not be discussed with a mere shake of the head. In the open, clear, accessible field of Inquiry it builds up its system ; seeks no shade, makes no reservation : but even as it treats its neighbours, so it requires to be treated ; and may be forgiven for lightly esteeming everything but Proofs. Nor am I terrified to think that the Law of Change, from which no human and no divine work finds grace, will operate on this Philosophy, as on every other, and one day its Form will be destroyed : but its Foundations will not have this destiny to fear; for ever since mankind has existed, and any Reason among mankind, these same first principles have been admitted, and on the whole acted upon.'1

Schiller's philosophical performances relate chiefly to matters of Art; not, indeed, without significant glances into still more important regions of speculation : nay Art, as he viewed

1 Correspondence with Goethe, i. 58.

it, has its basis on the most important interests of man, and of itself involves the harmonious adjustment of these. We have already undertaken to present our readers, on a future occasion, with some abstract of the Æsthetic Letters, one of the deepest, most compact pieces of reasoning we are anywhere acquainted with : by that opportunity, the general character of Schiller, as a Philosopher, will best fall to be discussed. Meanwhile, the two following brief passages, as some indication of his views on the highest of all philosophical questions, may stand here without commentary. He is speaking of Wilhelm Meister, and in the first extract, of the Fair Saint's Confessions, which occupy the Sixth Book of that work :

• The transition from Religion in general to the Christian Religion, by the experience of sin, is excellently conceived. * * * I find virtually in the Christian System the rudiments of the Highest and Noblest; and the different phases of this System, in practical life, are so offensive and mean, precisely because they are bungled representations of that same Highest. If you study the specific character of Christianity, what distinguishes it from all monotheistic Religions, it lies in nothing else than in that making-dead of the Law, the removal of that Kantean Imperative, instead of which Christianity requires a free Inclination. It is thus, in its pure form, a representing of Moral Beauty, or the Incarnation of the Holy ; and in this sense, the only æsthetic Religion : hence, too, I explain to myself why it so prospers with female natures, and only in women is now to be met with under a tolerable figure.'1

'But in seriousness,' he says elsewhere, 'whence may it proceed that you have had a man educated, and in all points equipt, without ever coming upon certain wants which only Philosophy can meet ? I am convinced, it is entirely attributable to the æsthetic direction you have taken, through the whole Romance. Within the æsthetic temper there arises no want of those grounds of comfort, which are to be drawn from speculation : such a temper has self-subsistence, has infinitude, within itself; only when the Sensual and the Moral in man strive hostilely together, need help be sought of pure Reason. A healthy poetic nature wants, as you yourself say, no Moral Law, no Rights of Man, no Political Metaphysics. You might have added as well, it wants no Deity, no Immortality, to stay and uphold itself

1 Correspondence, i. 195.

« ͹˹Թõ
 »