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In his Introduction, the translator speaks of the comparison which people, and especially the Germans, are in the habit of instituting between Schiller and Goethe. We do not feel competent to decide which of the two must be called the greater man; but, for our part, we should never think of raising the question. Goethe was unquestionably a heathen, and we know not that he ever pretended to be any thing else. His works are none of them free from the charge of immoral tendency, and some of them are abominable; and yet he is the most readable of all the Germans of our acquaintance. He was an extraordinary man, of high and varied culture, and of correct taste in all that related to simple art. He was free from cant, cant religious, cant political, cant moral, and, above all, from the cant of the radical and reformer. The ephemeral philosophers of his countrymen could not deceive him; the schemes and movements of the reformers, the pretended friends of the people, of universal freedom, clamoring and intriguing for an earthly paradise, and seeking to obtain it by means that would realize a hell on earth, could not enlist him; and none of the various forms of defunct or galvanized Protestantism could ever win his respect. He wanted faith, and he knew it; but he never sought to supply its place by any of the substitutes of the reformers, whether of the genus fanatic, or the genus infidel. We do not admire him, but we see and acknowledge what he was, and learn wisdom from his errors and blindness. But Schiller was an inbred radical. His soul spoke out in The Robbers, in the hero of which he impersonated his own inner man, a work not less reprehensible, to say the least, than the Wahlverwandtschaften. Subsequently, he grew calmer; "a change had come over the spirit of his dream"; but he remained ever the ingrained radical. He sought to chasten and legitimate his radicalism by his philosophy, we admit; but, in so doing, only labored to corrupt the principles as well as the passions of his countrymen.
As a poet, Schiller, to our taste and judgment, falls far below Goethe. He has, not unfrequently, earnestness, force, fine thoughts, and noble expressions; but he wants always the ease, the grace, the delicacy, the good sense, the keen insight, the sedate majesty, and commanding port of his great rival. He aims at more, but accomplishes less. Many of his poems, especially his minor poems, are hard reading. They fetch no echo from the heart or understanding. What Goethe does is always exquisite in its way, always a masterpiece of its
kind. Goethe does not disdain the classics, and reproduces them often, but rarely except in what they have that is universal, as applicable to one age or one people as to another. Schiller is too often overpowered by classical antiquity, and actually worships in the old pagan fane. We turn away from some of his minor poems with sorrow and disgust, as we do from Crawford's Orpheus. What business have they here? Why galvanize the dead? There is life now as well as formerly; and do seek your inspiration from the spirit that never dies, and do try to embody the living, not the defunct, beauty. What is Crawford's Orpheus to me? It is a wonderful creation of genius, you say. Doubted, or, rather, denied ; for your first impression, on seeing it, is, that it is about to tumble over. But admit all you claim for it, it but embodies a heathen thought, unconnected with Christian life, and having no relation with the humanity that now is, save on the side of a passion which were better left unsung and unsculptured, for it makes us full trouble enough when not artificially inflamed.
But we have no intention of entering upon a critical estimate of the merits of Schiller, and we could not do so if we would; for, though we certainly have read his principal works, we have never studied them, and have never had any disposition to study them. He has never struck us favorably. This may be our fault, and perhaps it is; but, if so, we cannot help it. We have not read the whole volume before us. We have, however, we think, mastered the Esthetic Letters. They are intelligible enough to those who have some tolerable acquaintance with the Kantian philosophy; not that they are constructed on pure Kantian principles, for they are not, but nevertheless assume Kantism as their point of departure. They are, as a whole, heavily and painfully written. We see the author laboring as the slave at the oar, putting forth all his strength, making his utmost efforts, to bring out and make intelligible his leading thoughts, which, after all, are rather commonplace so far as true, and when not commonplace are radically false. The Letters appear to have been written at the time of the French Revolution, when all Europe was in a ferment, with all manner of notions fermenting in its brain as in one great fermenting vat; and the aim of the author seems to have been to discover some way of bringing order out of the confusion in the midst of which he lived. His great merit—and it was a merit at that time-consists in his clearly perceiving that the world was not to be reformed by the principles of the French 49
VOL. II. NO. III.
Revolution, which sought to realize an earthly paradise merely by modifying the external condition. He saw that these principles, if acted upon, left the intellectual and moral man uncultivated, and therefore could generate only a state of barbarism. He further saw, that a purely intellectual culture, confined to the inner life of the individual, would be insufficient, because it would lead to no practical result in the world of reality. If we confine ourselves to the outward, we lapse into barbarism; if to the inward, we effect no progress in our condition, no practical amelioration of our race. The two must be combined, and work together. But to this a third term is necessary. The problem is, find this third term by which the inner life and external condition may be united, and both peacefully and effectively carried forward.
This third term is the Ideal or Beauty; not beauty as the mere object of sense and imagination, not merely intellectual beauty, but beauty, so to speak, as the ideal of all the faculties, responding to man's whole nature. This beauty is to be sought in every department of life, and the aim of all culture should be to reveal and realize it. Hence all culture is to be æsthetic, and through æsthetic culture, or the revelation and realization of the beautiful in every department of life, order will be brought out of confusion, the world will be saved, on the one hand, from lapsing into barbarism, and, on the other, from wasting itself in an intellectual culture which leads to no practical results, and the human race will be carried forward to the realization of its destiny. Such, in general terms, appears to us to be Schiller's solution of the problem.
In descending to particular doctrines, he must place virtue in inclination, in an affection of the passive nature, rather than in an affection of the active nature, and require truth and goodness to be presented always under the form of beauty, and because beauty wins love, enlists instead of repelling sense and imagination. He demands in all room for what he calls, after Kant, the play-impulse, which, if we understand it, is best expressed in our language by the word love. We are, then, to do our duty, not merely from the conviction that it is our duty, from the stern sense of its obligation, as Kant contended, but from inclination, from love of it. His theory, therefore, practically resolves itself into the Theory of Attraction, the basis of Fourierism.
The translator commends him for this, and thinks that Schiller, in diverging from the asceticism of Kant, has given a
more Christian statement of duty; but we question this. Duty cannot in this world be made play. In play, we act to please ourselves, because what we do is pleasure to ourselves; in duty, we act to please God, because what we do is his will. This, instead of being a pleasure to ourselves, is often a crucifixion of ourselves; for sapientia carnis inimica est Deo; legi enim Dei non subjecta: nec enim potest. Rom. viii. 7. Or, as says our blessed Saviour, "If any man will be my disciple, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.' "Christianity is " not, as the translator says Schiller asserts, "the moral imperative (that is, obligation) transfigured by love," unless we understand the love of the Lawgiver, which provides for the remission of the guilt of the transgressor through the merits of Jesus Christ, on condition of faith and repentance. This is a sufficient refutation of Schiller's doctrine, so far as it concerns morals.
There is in these times a great deal of nonsense babbled about love. The rage is to have all things "made easy." We have all sorts of learning, and even thinking, by means of newspapers and other contrivances, "made easy ; and we would fain have duty "made easy,' " and we therefore seek to transform it into love. But it is not love, in its ordinary sense, the Gospel demands, but charity. Love is a fact of the passive nature, charity of the voluntary nature; love is a natural affection, charity a supernatural affection. Yet nearly the whole Protestant world, especially the more advanced portion of it, confound the one with the other, or, rather, raise love above charity. But the heart which God demands is the voluntary heart, over which we have control; and the love he requires is the love yielded by the will, not the love yielded by the passive or sensitive soul. Sensible, sentimental, or passional love is worth nothing, adds nothing to the merit of the act it accompanies, and takes nothing from the merit of the act it does not accompany. On this point our enlightened and liberal Protestant Christians have not a little to learn; for, with all the marvellous progress they have made, they do not seem to have attained to any clear or definite conceptions of the nature of duty. Duty is what God commands, and is to be done solely because he commands it. It is not enough that we contrive, in some way, to get what God commands done; we must do it solely and simply for the reason that he commands it. Its whole merit is in this alone. The intrinsic character of an action, aside from the motive of the actor, has nothing
to do with its merit; for its merit is solely in the fact that it is done as an act of allegiance to the sovereign. The act of the slightest intrinsic importance, in itself considered, is meritorious, when done simply as an act of allegiance. "Whosoever," says our blessed Saviour, "shall give to one of these little ones but a cup of cold water, amen, I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward." On the other hand, the act, the most serviceable to the cause of our country or the Church, is without merit, may even be our condemnation, if done without reference to God, and merely to please ourselves.
It would do our Protestant friends, who are earnestly striving to discover some way by which duty may be "made easy,' no harm to bear this in mind. They fancy, or seem to fancy, that nothing is or can be meritorious, unless it be done, not from charity, but from love, or accompanied, at least, by a sensible affection. They feel, for instance, no inclination to pray, find no love for prayer, no sensible delight in praying; then they will not pray, must not pray, for their prayers would be mockery. Prayers which do not please themselves cannot please God! Do they pray to please themselves, or to please God? If to please God, what prayers can be more pleasing to him than those which are offered solely to please him,solely for the purpose of doing his will? These same enlightened Christians, who charge Catholics with placing religion in mere forms and in sensible emotions, seem to place religion. entirely in feeling, in sensible affection, and to suppose one repents only as moved to tears, and loves God only as he feels. a sensible affection for him. But this sensible repentance and this sensible devotion are worth nothing, and are often hindrances rather than helps to true spiritual life. What our God demands is the homage of our higher nature, that we give him our reason and our will. But this is rarely, if ever, done, without a struggle with the sensitive soul, nor often without the crucifixion of this very love for which these modern improvers on the Gospel of our Lord contend.
Schiller's theory makes all depend on culture; but what provision does it make for obtaining, always, adequately qualified cultivators? The good to be effected is to be effected by æsthetic culture, by art, that is, art understood in its sublimest sense. Be it so. But art will require artists, and artistic culture artistic cultivators. Whence are these to be obtained, and what guaranty can you give us that they will always present the true ideal, and so train men that they will always perceive,