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us, he would in his youth often get up to scribble off in the middle of the night, or write down on the first scrap of paper he found, not even venturing to set the paper straight, lest the little mechanical act should put to flight the flow of the inspiration. Its beauty is quite as strange as that of the poems of his youth. Goethe always loved the song, and said it was of the very essence of himself. Here is a faint version of it, which we insert less as a poem than as a light on the old man's character:
At Dead of Night.
At dead of night.
At dead of night.
At dead of night.
He fell in love once or twice more; and in 1823 was said to be near marrying again. The result, as usual, was not marriage, but an elegy-of beauty not greatly inferior to that which the poems of earlier days can show, and which, as his youngest and dearest poem, he copied out in Roman letters on fine vellum, and tied with a silk band into a red morocco cover, in which glory Eckermann saw it. Mr. Lewes, in deference to physiology, unpleasantly and untruly calls the story of an old man's life a “ necrology.” As a man Goethe was never so complete as in his
The only great addition to his fame which the last twenty years of Goethe's life produced was the conversations with Eckermann,-a book which gives to the English reader a far clearer conception of his personal influence than any other of his works. He never runs an opponent through, like Dr. Johnson; indeed, he does not willingly talk with an opponent at all. He rather flows round his disciple like an atmosphere, leaks into you at every pore, and envelopes you in such a calm wide mist of wisdom, that you can only say
what he means you
say long as you breathe that atmosphere. There is no possibility of a contest. There is no point to contest. He credits you with
a truth whenever you open your mouth (lässt das Gelten, as the Germans say); only he circumvents it with a whole mass of modifying thought, so that it would be easier to bring the air itself to a point than to bring the question you are discussing to an issue. In his old age he recurred again frequently to his religious belief, and some of his most fascinating conversations have relation to it. Goethe had a taste for religion, and a shrewd guess at the next world; but his mind seems to have been quite devoid of personal trust. He was perhaps the wisest man totally devoid of moral humility and personal faith whom the world has ever seen. He took the pantheistic view of God along with the personal view of man.* He knew that man was a free and responsible being, but he could not attribute human attributes of any kind to God; he thought the Infinite would be best honoured by merely denying finite characteristics, and leaying Him unapproached :
“Feeling is all in all;
Name but an earthly smoke,
Darkening the glow of heaven.” And not only “name," but definite thought concerning God he equally rejected. “No one,” he says," now doubts the existence of God any more than his own ;” but “what do we know of the idea of the divine, and what shall our narrow conceptions say of the Highest Being ?” And so of immortality also; he believed it as an extension of his insight into nature, but he put it aside as not bearing in any way on this life. “I do not doubt of our future existence, for nature cannot afford to throw away any living principle (évteléxela). But we are not all in the
(). same manner immortal; and in order to manifest ourselves as a powerful living principle in the future we must be one." Immortality was no present aid to him; he thought we should wait to rest on it till we had gained it. “To the able man this world is not dumb; why should he ramble off into eternity? what he really knows can be apprehended." And he was annoyed with any thing that he thought a fuss about the matter.
Speaking of a poem relating to this subject, he says :
“Wherever you went, there lay. Urania' on the table. • Urania' and immortality were the topics of every conversation. I could in no wise dispense with the happiness of believing in our future existence, and, indeed, could say, with Lorenzo de Medici, that those are dead for this life even, who have no hope for another. But such incomprehen
ble subjects lie too far off, and only disturb our thoughts if made the theme of daily meditation. Let him who believes in immortality enjoy
* See, for instance, the fine little poem, "Das Göttliche.”
his happiness in silence, without giving himself airs thereupon. The occasion of `Urania' led me to observe that piety has its pretensions to aristocracy no less than noble blood. I met stupid women, who plumed themselves on believing, with Tiedge, in immortality, and I was forced to bear much catechising on this point. They were vexed by my saying I should be well pleased to be ushered into a future state after the close of this, only I hoped I should there meet none of those who had
I believed in it here. For, how should I be tormented! The pious would throng around me, and say, "Were we not right? Did we not foresee it? Has not it happened just as we said ?' And so there would be ennui without end.
All this fuss about such points is for people of rank, and especially women, who have nothing to do. But an able man, who has something to do here, and must toil and strive day by day to accomplish it, leaves the future world till it comes, and contents himself with being active and useful in this. Thoughts about immortality are also good for those who have small success here below, and I would wager that better fortune would have brought our good Tiedge better thoughts.”
In only one sentence do we catch a glimpse of a time when Goethe had looked to God for a Father's help, and, at least for a moment, conceived the spiritual world not as the mere unknown spaces beyond life, but as the inspiring love which shines every where into it.
“We may lean for a while,” he says once, in speaking of his youth, “on our brothers and friends, be amused by acquaintances, rendered happy by those we love; but in the end man is always driven back upon himself, and it seems as if the Divinity had so placed Himself in relation to man as not always to respond to his reverence, trust, and love; at least not in the terrible moment of need." There had, then, been a time when the easy familiarity with which the young man scrutinised the universe had been exchanged for the humble glance of a heart-stricken child; and he had shrunk away from that time (as he did from every other hour of life when the providence of God would have probed to the very bottom the secrets of his nature), to take refuge in the exercise of a faculty which would have been far stronger and purer had it never helped him to evade those awful pauses in existence when alone the depths of our personal life lie bare before the inward eye, and we start to see both “whither we are going, and whence we came. Goethe deliberately turned his back upon those inroads which sin and death make into our natural habits and routine. From the pleading griefs, from the challenging guilt, from the warning shadows of his own past life, he turned resolutely away, like his own Faust, to the alleviating occupations of the present. Inch by inch he contested the inroads of age upon his existence, striving to banish the images of new graves from his thoughts
long before his nature had ceased to quiver with the shock of parting; never seemingly for a moment led by grief to take conscious refuge in the love of God and his hopes of an hereafter. And so, with his eyes still clinging to the life he left, on the 22d March 1832 he passed away himself, while drawing with his finger pictures in the air and murmuring a last cry for “more light.” During the quarter of a century which has intervened, the influence of his writings in England has become great. He has been held up as the wisest man of modern days, and by some half-worshipped as a demigod. And, in truth, his was a light and spacious mind. Let us grant that he was the wisest man of modern days who ever lacked the wisdom of a child; the deepest who never knew what it was to kneel in the dust with bowed head and broken heart. And he was a demigod, if a demigod be a being at once more and less than ordinary men, having a power which few attain, and owing it, in part, to a deficiency in qualities in which few are so deficient; à being who puts forth a stronger fascination over the earth because expending none of his strength in yearnings towards heaven. In this sense Goethe was a demigod :
“He took the suffering human race ;
He read each wound, each weakness clear ;
He knew all symptoms of disease, a few alleviations, no remedies. The earth was eloquent to him, but the skies were silent. Next to Luther he was the greatest of the Germans; next-but what a gulf between ! Adequate to himself,” was written on that broad calm forehead; and therefore men thronged eagerly about him to learn the incommunicable secret. It was not told, and will not be told. For man it is a weary way to God, but a wearier far to any demigod.
ART. II.- EARLY ENGLISH EXPLORERS.
The Observations of Sir Richard Hankins, Knt., in his Voyage into
the South Sea in 1593. Reprinted from the Edition of 1622,
and edited by Capt. C. R. Drinkwater Bethune, R.N., C.B. Select Letters of Columbus; with Original Documents relating to
the Discovery of the New World. Translated and edited by
R. H. Major, Esq., of the British Museum. The Discoverie of the Empire of Guiana by Sir Walter Raleigh,
Knt. Edited, with copious Explanatory Notes, and a Biogra
phical Memoir, by Sir Robert H. Schomburgh, Phil. D., &c. Sir Francis Drake his Voyage, 1595, by Thomas Maynarde ; together
with the Spanish Account of Drake's Attack on Puerto Rico.
Edited, from the original Ms., by W. D. Cooley, Esq. Narratives of Early Voyages undertaken for the Discovery of a
Passage to Cathaia and India, by the North-nest; with Selections from the Records of the Worshipful Fellonship of the Merchants of London, trading into the East Indies ; and from Mss. in the Library of the British Museum. Now first pub
lished, by Thomas Rundall, Esq. The Historie of Travaile into Virginia Britannia, erpressing the
Cosmographie and Comodities of the Country; together with the Manners and Customs of the People, gathered and observed as well by those who first went thither as collected by William Strachey, Gent., the First Secretary of the Colony. Now first edited, from the original Manuscript in the British Museum, by
R. H. Major, Esq., of the British Museum. Divers Voyages touching the Discovery of America and the Isles
adjacent. Collected and published by Richard Hakluyt, Prebendary of Bristol, in the year 1582. Edited, with_Notes and an In
troduction, by John Winter Jones, Esq., of the British Museum. A Collection of Documents on Japan; with a Commentary. By
Thomas Rundall, Esq. The Discovery and Conquest of Florida, by Don Ferdinando de
Soto. Translated out of Portuguese by Richard Hakluyt; and edited, with Notes and an Introduction, by W. B. Rye, Esq., of the
British Museum. Notes upon Russia: being a translation from the earliest account
of that country, entitled Rerum Moscoviticarum Commentarii, of