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From the People's Journal.
THE MOTHER'S DREAM.
BY MRS. NEWTON CROSLAND, (LATE CAMILLA TOULMIN.)
By her Dead Child the Mother kneels,
Of harsh rebuke: “the fault it was her own;
A pitying Angel stooped his wing,
By her Dead Child she still is kneeling,
Then, moulded from her tears, arose
She and her Husband—they whose blooming days Have scarcely reached bright youth's meridian
blazeStand hand in hand, with wrinkled cheek and brow, And scant locks fleck'd with fifty winters' snow. Anguish is written on the matron's face, And wrath and grief each other quickly chase Athwart the visage of her time-changed lord; Anon he drops her hand, with bitter word
The little hands so soft and fair
From the Westminster and Foreign Quarterly Review.
CONVERSATIONS WITH GOETHE.
Gespräche mit Goethe in den letzten Jahren seines Lebens. (Conversations with
Goethe in the latter years of his life.) By. JOHANN ECKERMANN. 3d vol. Magdeburg. 1848.
With the general character of this work our readers are probably already acquainted, “ I remarked that Byron was very successful in from that of the two preceding volumes, pub- his women. Yes,' said Goethe, his women lished some years ago. Mr. Eckermann is a
are good. Indeed, this is the only vase into biographer of the Boswell class, with the which we moderns can pour our ideality ; nothing
can be done with the men. Homer has got it all same unbounded and unquestioning admira
away in Achilles and Ulysses, the bravest and tion of his subject, and with fully as much most prudent of possible men. natural simplicity, but with greater intellectual culture, and without the incomparable Whether this saying has any meaning at absurdity or the tendency to spite which our all, and is not of that order of profundity in dear “Bozzy” occasionally exhibits. With which no bottom can be found, we must his perfect surrender of himself to the influ- leave our readers to determine ; but to us it ence of the more powerful mind round which appears as if Goethe were often playing with he revolved, we are little disposed to quar- the simple listener, and treating him to some rel ; such devotion is in the present day but such instruction as Mephistophiles gives to too rare ; and in addition to the vast mental the young student who comes to consult superiority of Goethe, his elaborate and com- Faust in his study. prehensive culture, and his free and noble In another place Goethe is made to fall position in the world, contrasted with the into one of the vulgarest errors of that class narrow circumstances and limited education of his countrymen who take their views of of Eckermann, made it almost impossible that English policy from the Parisian newspapers. the attraction should not be overpowering. To have retained perfect freedom and inde " While we Germans,' said Goethe, 'arc torpendence of mind in such a case would have menting ourselves with philosophical problems, required very unusual strength of character the English, with their fine practical understandand mental endowment. The relation in ing, laugh at us and win the world. Everybody which they respectively stood, is not, for the knows how they have declaimed against the slave work before us, without its advantages.
trade ; and, while they have made us believe they
The perfect transparency of the medium through at last discover that they have an object, such as
were actuated solely by motives of humanity, we which the master is exhibited, the almost they do nothing without, and this we should have total absence of character in the mind of the known before. They themselves need the blacks in pupil, is in many instances favorable to the their extensive domain on the western coast of correctness of the representation. There is Africa, and they do not like the trade which carries
them off. no attempt on the part of Eckermann to make the sayings of Goethe accommodate views America, which are very profitable. From these
They have large colonies of negroes in and theories of his own, as a livelier biog- they can supply the demand from North America, rapher might have tried to do; but, on the and if slaves are brought from other places it inother hand, it is difficult to acquit of occa- jures their trade--so they preach against the insional misconception, this appearing a more human African slave trade (!)?” probable supposition than that Goethe should really have said all that is set down for him. Again-the conversation had one day fall
In the former volume there are many such en on the relative value of the observations sayings, as, for instance, this
of nature, made by scientific and unscientific
persons; and Goethe had asserted that the masters of one side of a question, and looked perceptions of the unlearned were often the hastily, or not at all, at the other; and their truer.
mistakes are not in consequence of what
they know, but of what they do not know. “ You would seem to infer,' said I, that the Mr. Eckermann asks, “Do you mean to more one knows, the worse one observes.'
say, that the more one knows, the worse one “ ' If our acquired knowledge is much mingled observes ?” (Dass man um so schlechter beowith error
, certainly I do, answered Goethe. As bachte jemehr man wisse?) To which Goethe soon as we have joined any narrow, scientific sect, all true and simple observation is over for us.
replies, “ Certainly I do, if our acquired The decided Vulcanist will always look through knowledge is much mingled with error;" Vulcanian spectacles, and the Neptunist and the which is as much as if one were to ask, “Do partisan of the new elevation theory through his. you think we are likely to be poisoned by The vision of such theorists, turned always in one bread and butter ?” and the reply were, direction, loses its clearness, and objects no longer
Certainly I do, if the bread and butter has appear to them in their native purity. When been spread with arsenic”—a conclusion these men give us an account of their observar which we may readily admit, without at all tions, we receive, notwithstanding the highest regard for truth in the individual—by no means thereby calling in question the wholesomethe truth as it is in nature; all objects have a ness of bread and butter. It may be very strong subjective tinge. I am far, however, from true that, as soon as we have joined any meaning to maintain that a true unbiassed knowl. narrow scientific sect, (beschränkte confession, edge would be any hinderance to observation; much more does the old truth retain its force, that tion ;” but it is not the science, but its nar
we have “lost the faculty of just observawe in fact have only eyes and ears for what we
row limitation-its beschränktheil'—that know.
“ • The musician hears every instrument in the makes the danger. orchestra, and every tone in each, whilst the It appears also to be quite an unfounded unlearned ear perceives only the mass of sound. assumption that the observations of unlearnSo also an ignorant man will see nothing but the ed persons concerning facts cognizable by agreeable surface of a green or flowery meadow, the senses are always, or usually, correct. where the observant botanist will be struck by the Most people who have ever tried the experivast variety of grasses and other plants. “ . But everything has its limits; and, as in
ment will be aware how difficult, how almost
my Gotz it is said that a son from sheer learning does impossible it is to obtain from them observanot know his own father, so in science we meet tions unmixed with inferences; and that no with people who can neither see nor hear for eru- small amount of scientific training is requisite dition. They are so preoccupied with hypotheses to enable any one to give a really true and that, like a man in a violent passion, they may accurate account of the simplest phenomenon run against their nearest friend in the street with.
passing daily before his eyes. out knowing it. For the observation of nature, a certain simplicity and tranquillity of mind is
There is doubtless some truth in what is desirable. The child sees the tower and the said of the observations of children ; but it insect, and has all his senses awake to a simple is not because they know less, but because and single interest. It does not occur to him that they attend more, that their observations there may be, at the same time, in the formation have sometimes greater value. The learned of the cloud something remarkable, so that he observer whose attention is divided between should turn his eyes also in that direction.'
** In that case," said 1, "children, and people the garden and his meteorological inquiries, resembling them, might be good assistants in sci- may easily overlook the flower or the insect; ence.'
but it does not follow that if he looked at it, 66 • Would to heaven,' said Goethe,'that we were
he would not see more in it than the child all nothing more than good assistants ! It is just saw. by wishing to be more, and carrying about with us
But it is not surprising that a German a great apparatus of philosophy and hypotheses, should be perhaps over-sensitive to the evils that we spoil all.""
of “much learning ;” and to the clear,
healthy, eminently practical mind of Goethe, Now it is certainly no very uncommon nothing could be more distasteful than the case to find half instructed scientific people sickly, factitious, unhealthy aspect of body possessed by an exclusive theory, distorting and soul, not uncommon in those who, like their views of fact to accommodate it, and
so many of his countrymen, have been nourseeing all things through a colored medium: ished too exclusively on books. but perhaps the error is less occasioned, even in this case, by their learning than by their “6 You know,' he says on one occasion, that ignorance. They have made themselves scarcely a day passes in which I do not receive a
visit from some passing stranger; but I cannot “. Every one is polite and refined, but no one say these visits give me much pleasure, especially has the courage to be true and cordial, so that a when they happen to be those of young
German man of a natural sincere character is at a great learned men, coming from a certain northeasterly disadvantage. One cannot help wishing somedirection. Pale, hollow-chested, short-sighted, times to have been born a South Sea Islander, in young without youth—that is their general ap- order to have an opportunity of observing human pearance; and when I enter into conversation nature without any artificial coloring. with them, I soon perceive that the things in think, when you happen to be in low spirits, of which such folks as we take interest, appear the miseries of the time, it seems as if the world childish and trivial to them. They are quite en must be really ripe for the day of judgment. The tangled in the idea ; and nothing but the highest evil increases, too, from generation to generation ; problems of speculation has any interest for them. for not only have we to mourn for the sins of our Of sound senses and a pleasure in the sensuous, fathers, but we deliver to our posterity the infirmithere is not a trace—all youthful feeling and joy ties we have inherited, increased by the addition in youth is driven out of them irrevocably. Could of our own. we but take pattern by the English, and give our young men a little less philosophy and a little
To this Mr, Eckermann replies that he has more power of action-a little less theory and a little more practice! Much improvement might
often had similar thoughts, but has been conproceed from below, from the people, by schools soled by the sight of a regiment of dragoons ! and domestic education ; much also might come from above, from rulers and those about them. I
“Our peasantry, it is true,' said Goethe,' are cannot see, for instance, why we should require, still in a state sufficiently healthy to preserve us from young men studying to qualify themselves from total ruin. The country population may be for the public service, so much of the theoretical regarded a depôt from which the sinking powers learning by which young people are ruined, men. of humanity may be from time to time renewed. tally and corporeally, before their time. When But go into our great towns, and you will feel they enter on practical business, they possess, in very differently. Take some turns through them deed, an enorinous stock of learned and philo- | with a diable boiteux, or a physician in great prac. sophical information ; but this can find no appli- tice, and he will whisper stories to you that will cation within the narrow limits of their calling, make you shudder at the misery, and marvel at and, as totally useless, must be forgotten. Of what the frailty of human nature, from which society is they really want in the meanwhile, they have suffering. But let us get rid of these hypochonnothing; and they have none of the energy of driacal thoughts. What have you been doing mind and body which is so indispensable in the lately? How have you been living? Tell me, practical business of life. And then in the life and give me something pleasant to think of.' of a public servant-in his treatment of mankind “I have been reading in Sterne,'I replied, ' how -is not love and benevolence needed? And how Yorick, sauntering through the streets of Paris, shall any one feel and practise benevolence to was struck by the remark, that every tenth perwards others, if things do not go well with him son was a dwarf. I thought of that just now self ? Now, with these people they mostly go when you were talking of the infirmities of great
towns. I recollect, too, in Napoleon's time, see
ing a battalion of French infantry, consisting en. This seems to rest on much the same tirely of Parisians, who were all such wretched, foundation as the celebrated dictum, “Who feeble-looking little fellows, that I could hardly drives fat oxen should himself be fat.” Does | imagine what use they could be of in war.' experience bear out the theory, that we may ers,' said Goethe, were heroes of rather a differ
“ * The Duke of Wellington's Scotch Highlandexpect most benevolence from those who
indeed fine, strong, active looking men, fresh as if
their heads so free and boldly, and stepped out 6 * One-third of our official and learned men, with their naked, muscular limbs, as if they knew who live chained to their writing-tables, are phys- neither hereditary infirmity nor original sin.' ically infirm, and subject to the demon of hypo “It is a curious thing,' said Goethe, but chondria. In these cases, it is in the highest de- whether it be in the race, in the soil, in the free gree necessary that something should be done, in constitution, or in the sound education—the Engorder that, at least, future generations may be lish appear certainly to have the advantage over protected from such destruction.”
most other nations. We see here in Weinar but
a small number of them, and probably by no In general, Goethe complains that Euro
means the best specimens, but what clever, hand
some young fellows they mostly are. Young pean life is too artificial and complicated, too far from nature ; that our social intercourse seventeen years old—they never appear strange
as they are, too-some of them not more than is without benevolence or kindness.
or embarrassed in this foreign German country;
on the contrary, their deportment is as easy and things he would have clearness and certainty. confident as if the world belonged to them. That's “I honor the man,” he says, “who clearly the thing that pleases our women, and makes knows what he wants, who knows also the them commit such terrible havoc in young ladies' . a
means to its attainment, and is able to seize feeling a little dismayed whenever my daughter and to employ them. Whether his object is in-law announces to me the speedy approach of a great or a small one, deserves praise or one of these young islanders. I see, in the spirit, blame, is a secondary consideration.” And ihe tears that will have to flow for his departure. he has in many places left on record his ad
“I can hardly admit, either,' said I,“ that these miration of what he called “a nature," and young Englishmen are really superior to others' his contempt for Philisterei, or petty foreither in heart, in intellect, or in cultivation.'
" It is not in those things, dear friend," said malism. Nothing disturbed him more than Goethe, nor is their advantage in their birth or the perpetual interference of the police with wealth. It lies in this :--that they have the all freedom of action, even in the most trivial courage to be what nature made them. There is matters, by which Germany has so long been nothing in them distorted, perverted, or“ half-and- harassed—and from which it is now breaking half." They are complete men-also, I must al, loose with the outrageous boisterous eagerlow, sometimes complete fools—but even a fool complete weighs for something in Nature's
ness of boys bursting from the confinement
of school. scales.'"
“I only need to look out of the window in our We give this passage, not merely for the dear Weimar, to know how matters stand with us. gratification of our national vapity, for we When, lately, the snow was lying on the ground, are by no means sure the tribute, such as it and my neighbor's children wanted to try their is, is deserved ; and if it were, we must own
little sledges in the street, a policeman was sure we ourselves regard a certain kind of becom
to make his appearance and put the poor little
things to flight. Now, when the sun of spring is ing sheepishness as more appropriate and drawing them from their houses, and they like to agreeable in the age of seventeen, than this come and play before the doors with their fellows, self-satisfied and confident manner, which ap- they always seem under some constraint-as if pears to have been so captivating to the they were half afraid, and watching for the apyoung ladies of Weimar. But the character- proach of the police potentate. A boy can't so istics described are unquestionably those of a
much as sing, or whoop, or crack his whip, withclass, and to a great extent, we think, of a
out a policeman jumping up to forbid it. With us certain rank in society, whether exclusively taming of youth, and driving out of them all wild
everything is directed to the earliest possible of our own country or not. There is also
nature and originality, so that at last nothing is something eminently characteristic of Goethe left but the Philister.” himself in these remarks. He rejoiced in every manifestation of nature, from the high In contrast with this timid, servile inoffenest to the lowest, in “the heavens, and the siveness of character, always and everywhere earth, and the waters that are under the the cherished ideal of despotism, whether of earth ;” light and colors, and the manifold a family or of a nation, the robust freedom phenomena of the atmosphere, rocks, and of the young Englishman must have been mountains, and valleys; and what the earth doubtless welcome. hides in her bosom, and the races of plants It is well known that Goethe's profound and animals that people its surface; the appreciation of the blessings of tranquillity world of art, and the still more complex and and order, and his apparent indifference to various one of the human heart—in all he many of the political events of his time, have was at home, and the smallest object had in frequently brought on him the charge of terest in his eyes if it were only genuine and being a friend of despotism, and not always true; but he was in the highest degree im without semblance of justice. It is right, patient of all that was false and factitious, or therefore, to hear what he says in his own constrained, and not perfect of its kind. justification. "Even a complete fool,” he says, “is something ;” and it is often hard to avoid the in «« People have been pleased not to see me as I ference, that he really preferred folly, or am, and to turn away their eyes from what might even vice that was genuine and spontaneous,
have showed me in my true light. Schiller, on to virtue laboriously manufactured, from the contrary, who, between ourselves, was much
more of an aristocrat than I, but who considered which, indeed, nothing can grow, while vice
more what he said, has had the remarkable good is often the result of a force misdirected, but fortune to be counted as a friend of the people. I capable of a different application. In all I do not grudge it to him, however, and I console