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an infinity of delicate allusions, remain hidden from vulgar readers or spectators.'* This was the language of philosophical criticism —and Heine well knows that it is unanswerable : but Bürger, sixty years ago, was a democrat, while Schlegel, to use Heine's phraseology, is an aristocrat of our own day; and it suits Heine's views to contrast the two men personally, in place of examining their dogmas. And aster all, how absurd is this personal comparison even in itself? Bürger lived in the early days of German literature-Schlegel adorns its golden maturity. Had Schlegel written in the days of Bürger, he also would have lived and died in some paltry professorship, or, as his father did before him, in some village cure. Had Bürger produced Lenöre at Hanover in our time, who doubts that he would have been protected and patronized, and that the Duke of Cambridge would have been only loo happy to give him a von before his name, and the Guelphic ribbon to boot, if such things had at all suited him ?
Mixed up with much critical unfairness, and with a fierce personal spleen, which we might have illustrated by passages more disgraceful than any of the preceding, we find some literary views which really deserve attention; and in particular, we think, whatever may have been Heine's chief motive on this head, that he has justly and happily defended Racine against the disparaging views of Schlegel :
'Racine was naturally the first poet whom Schlegel could not comprehend, for that great poet appears as the herald of modern times by the side of the great prince with whom the new æra commences. Racine was the first modern poet, as Louis XIV, was the first modern king. In Corneille, as in the Fronde, one hears the last sigh of the old chivalry of the middle age; and he has sometimes accordingly been called a romantic poet. But in Racine, the sentiment and the poetry of the middle age are quite lost; he stirs only new ideas-he is the organ of a new society.
If Schlegel had confined himself to saying that Racine's mission had been accomplished, that the advance of time called for other poets, there might have been some foundation for his attacks; but nothing could be more baseless than these were, when he tried to demonstrate the weakness of Racine by instituting a comparison between him and the poets of antiquity. Not only does Schlegel divine nothing of the infinite grace, of the deep charm which there is in the conception of Racine, when he clothes his modern French heroes in antique costumes, thus iningling with the interest of modern passions that of a piquant masquerade-he has even been dull enough to take all these
* Mrs. Austin gives various exquisite fragments of A. W. Schegel in her · Speci. mens of German Genius:' why does this clear and beautiful translator not favour us with a larger collection from his Critical Miscellanies ? Such a work would surely be as popular as the “ Lectures on the Drama' have been in their English dress. But we wish, above all, she would think of Herder.
delicious travesties in solemn earnest, to judge the Greeks of Versailles by the Greeks of Athens, and to compare the Phædra of Euripides with the Phèdre of Racine. This manner of judging the present by the past is so deeply rooted in Schlegel, that it is always with the laurels of some old poet he whips a younger one ; and when Euripides in his turn was to be humbled, he could find no better method than to compare him with Sophocles, or even with old Æschylus.
But perhaps I do M. Schlegel an undeserved honour, when I attribute to him sympathies and antipathies: it is possible that he has neither. In his youth he was a Hellenist; at a more advanced period he became a Romanticist. He became the Coryphæus of the new school-it took its name from his brother and him; and yet, perhaps, of all the school, there was no one who thought less seriously of the affair than he. He supported it by his talents, seconded it by his studies, so long as the thing went well he rejoiced in it; and when the school came to a bad end, he turned his researches into another channel,
• But though the school is in ruins, the exertions of M. Schlegel had some good effects on our literature. Above all, he had succeeded in showing how scientific subjects might be treated in an elegant manner. Before this no German writer had ventured to write a scientific book in a clear and agreeable style; all was done in a dry and diffuse manner, which smelt fearfully of the tobacco-pipe and the tallow-candle. M. Schlegel is one of the few Germans who do not smoke-a virtue which he owes to the society of Madame de Staël. In fact, he owes altogether to that lady the polished exterior which he has known how to play off to so much advantage for himself in Germany. In this point of view, the death of the admirable Madame de Staël was a great loss for the learned German, who had found in her drawing-room so many opportunities of studying new fashions, and who, in his quality of her attendant through the different capitals of Europe, could see the fine world, and appropriate to himself the most graceful airs he observed among them. These habitudes were become so necessary to him, that after the death of his noble patroness, he had thoughts of offering himself to the celebrated Catalani as the companion of her
This last insinuation is obviously a mere joke—though a very malicious one. Heine thus concludes this extraordinary chapter :
"As I have said, the propagation of elegance is the principal merit of M. Schlegel, and, thanks to him, a little civilization has now found its way into the life of the German literati. Goethe, no doubt, had already given an example full of influence; he had shown the possibility of being at once a poet and a gentleman.* In former days our German bards scorned all conventional forms, and the very name of a genius excited the most ignoble ideas. A poet in Germany then signified a man in a bare and tattered coat, who manufactured ballads for weddings and * Surely Lessing, Wieland, and Herder had done so also..,
christenings at a crown the piece-got drunk far from good company, into which he never dreamt of being admitted, and who might occasionally be descried in the evening, stretched on the benches of the street, and caressed sentimentally by the amorous rays of his Phæbe." When these creatures got old, they plunged deeper and deeper into distress. Their poverty, however, had no care about it—at least, the only care that accompanied it, was to know where one might get the most schnaps for the least money.
Such was the idea which I had always been used to form of a German poet. Conceive then how agreeably I was surprised, when, in the year 1819, quite young still, and visiting the university of Bonn, I had the honour to find myself, face to face, with poetical genius and the person of Mr. Augustus William Schlegel. After Napoleon it was the first great man I had seen, and never shall I forget that ineffable spectacle. I still to this hour recall the holy terror with which I found myself before his chair, and heard him speak. I wore in those days a frock of white frieze, a red cap, long yellow hair, and no gloves. But Mr. Augustus William Schlegel had new kid gloves, polished and resplendent-he was entirely dressed in the newest Parisian fashion and smelt all over of the perfume of good company, and of the eau de millefleurg-which last he had used unsparingly on this occasion : it was elegance and gentility incarnate ; and when he spoke of the Chancellor of England, he added, “my friend ; ” and close to one elbow stood a lackey in the baronial livery of the house of Schlegel, who took care of the wax-lights which were placed in massive silver candlesticks, and at the other side appeared a glass of eau sucrée upon a crystal salver. A lackey in livery! Wax-lights! Silver candlesticks ! My friend, the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain! Kid gloves! Eau sucrée! What unheard-of phenomena in the class of a German professor! All this éclat dazzled us young folks not a little, and particularly myself; and I about that time composed three odes * to M. Schlegel, each commencing with the words “O thou, who, &c.” but it was only in poetry that I could have ventured to thou and thee a man of such distinction. His exterior was really very imposing : on his neat little head there sparkled but a few grey hairs, and his body was so meagre, so wasted, so transparent, that he seemed to be all mind, and might have passed for a symbol of spiritualism.
* Here, at Paris, I had lately the pain of once more seeing Mr. A. W. Schlegel in person. I could not have fancied such a change possible. It was shortly after my arrival, and I was on my way to visit the house which had been inhabited by Molière ; for I honour great poets, and explore every where with a religious reverence the traces of their earthly sojourn ; it is a sort of worship. On my way out, not far from this consecrated mansion, I encountered a personage whose features struck me as having an indefinite resemblance to those of the William Schlegel of former days. I thought at first it was his spirit—but it was only his body; the spirit is dead-it
* We should like to know how these odes were received by Schlegel !
is the body which still haunts the earth-and that same body had con. şiderably fattened siuce our last meeting. Flesh had grown upon those slim spiritual shanks, and one even perceived a rather preponderating paunch-whereupon there hung a huge multitude of ribbons and crosses. The little head, once so grizzled and besilvered, carried an airy blonde scratch wig. The man was still dressed in the style of 1818, the year in which Madame de Staël died. He smiled gaily, and gesticulated with a juvenile coquetry. In fact, a wonderful re-juvenescence had taken place in him; it was a pleasant second edition of his youth: he seemed to have come back to us in the blossom-and I even suspect that for the vermilion on his cheek, he was indebted not to art, but to a little sportive irony of nature. At that moment I thought I saw the defunct Poquelin at his window, pointing, with a smile, to this jovial and melancholy apparition; and I instantly comprehended the depth and breadth of that buffoonery, which unhappily there remained no Molière to bring on the French stage. No one but he could ever have done so ; and Schlegel himseif seems to have suspected something of the kind long ago. You are aware, that as Napoleon hated Tacitus, whom he accused of calumniating the Cæsars, so Schlegel pronounced Molière no poet, but only a buffoon.
'Mr. A. W. Schlegel soon after quitted Paris, having been decorated during his brief stay with the order of the Legion of Honour. To this day, the Moniteur has hesitated about announcing this news officially; but Thalia, the muse of comedy, has inscribed it with alacrity on her mirthful tablets.'—vol. ii., p. 26–31.
These passages are by no means the worst-some parts of this chapter are really shocking. Nor have we extracted even these without hesitation ; but it seemed, on the whole, well to give our readers some conception of the style in which German controversies are now carried on; and, whatever may be the trivial foibles of M. Schlegel, we are sure no one will take up any serious prejudice against his character either as a man or an author, from effusions, the chief immediate inspiration of which has so evidently been some bitter personal grudge.
We say the chief immediate inspiration ; but we should be doing Heine injustice if we had said the only one, or even the principal one absolutely. It is our conviction, founded on a careful consideration both of this book, and of M. Heine's previous polemical exercitations, that his hatred of A. W. Schlegel was originally based in the main on the part which that eminent man has taken in the great scheme of the Prussian Government for the reform of the German Universities-begun, and hitherto admirably forwarded, by that government's watchful care and superintendence of the old and new academical establishments within its own territory, but now developing its influence every day more and more largely in the aspect and condition of those in the adjoining states. In this business Schlegel has been perhaps the most efficient instrument of the present King of Prussia-he might, we doubt not, have escaped all the deeper rancour of Heine, had he, in one thing more, followed the initiative of Frederick, and by lapsing into Catholicism, instead of remaining, as we believe him to be, a sound Protestant, rendered it impossible for himself to have a share in this great work. In a word, all these fierce sarcasms upon the personal appearance and manners of the great Bonn professor are but so many compliments to the zeal with which he has seconded his royal master's wishes to see the German universities civilised—the teachers brought out of their monastic isolation, and made amenable in thought and feeling to the general influences of polished society—the pupils deprived of their rude burschen existence and habits—a rational discipline introduced into those old haunts of insolence-above all, perhaps, the theological faculties drawn everywhere into an etfective subordination to the Protestant Consistories—the legitimate centres of ecclesiastical authority.
In truth the most alarming features in the recent social state of northern Germany may almost all be traced to the barbarous independence and usurped power of the universities; but these, again, were the natural results of the unhappy manner in which the relations of church and state had been settled. From a variety of concurring causes—the jealousies and grasping ambition of the small sovereignties at the period of the Reformation—the poor and insufficient style in which the Protestant prelacy was endowedthe correspondently miserable scale on which the existence of the parochial clergy was regulated—the indifference with which the Protestant interest was regarded in several of the chief universities by Catholic princes—in others by avowedly infidel ones, especially the great Frederick of Prussia—the almost necessary paralyzation of the Protestant principle in the governments of other states whose population was made up, in nearly equal parts, of Papists, Lutherans, and Calvinists—from these and other causes, which it would take a volume to develope in detail, the Protestant church in those countries had come, as a church, to be divorced almost equally from the government on the one hand, and the universities on the other. A common professorship, among other results, was a better thing than any parochial cure: a leading professorship in a flourishing university was a station far superior in emolument, influence, and real dignity to a bishopric.* The ablest men never looked beyond the walls of the universities ; the Superintendents and other dignitaries who assembled in the consistories felt themselves to be their inferiors, and gradually lost courage to take any measures for repressing that
* The reader will find many curious details on this subject in the excellent Life of Herder, by C. L. Ring. 1822.