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The Life and Works of Friedrich Schiller by Calvin Thomas

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was the coming Shakspere,--which was a little wild from posterity's
point of view, but not an unpleasant thing for a young author to read in
a newspaper.

Luckily for Schiller his work was not long left to make its way as 'mere
literature'. Among those to whom he had sent the sheets was a Mannheim
bookseller, named Schwan, who had an eye for dramatic merit. Before
Schwan had read many pages it came over him that here was a prize for
the stage, and he hurried with it to Baron Dalberg, intendant of the
Mannheim theater. Dalberg was easily convinced,--only the work would
need to be radically revised. A complimentary letter was addressed to
Schiller, proposing a stage version of 'The Robbers' and offering to
bring out future plays that he might write. Schiller was quite willing,
notwithstanding his preface, and about the middle of August he addressed
himself to his task. Profiting by the suggestions of Dalberg and the
reviewers, he devoted six weeks to adding, subtracting, re-writing, and
re-arranging,--a new masterpiece, he averred, would have cost him less
labor. But Dalberg was not yet satisfied; correspondence ensued about
various points, Schiller showing himself very tractable, and it was not
until the close of the year that the stage version was finally ready. It
was played on the 12th of January, 1782,--its author having stolen away
from Stuttgart to see the performance,--and scored an unheard-of
success.[31] Shortly afterwards the new version, in slightly modified
form, was published by Schwan under the name of a 'Trauerspiel' by
Friedrich Schiller.

The changes made in the new version do not reflect the free play of
Schiller's dramatic instinct so much as his deferential attitude towards
Dalberg. Thus we know that the most important of them all, the shifting
of the action back into the age of expiring feudalism, was made
reluctantly. Schiller felt, and had reason to feel, that the modernity
of his drama was its very life-blood;[32] for the squeamish Dalberg,
however, the robbers in the age of Frederick the Great were a painful
anachronism. So they were put back three centuries and costumed in the
style of the 'Ritterstueck'. Other less dubious changes were also made.
Thus the long soliloquies of Franz and the ribald garrulities of
Spiegelberg were reduced to more tolerable proportions. Robber Schwarz
and Pastor Moser were omitted, and the bastard Hermann was vitalized
into a person of some account by means of his counter-plot against
Franz. The un-lyrical songs by which Schiller had set great store were
dropped, and the catastrophe was so changed as to bring the two brothers
finally face to face. The life of Schweizer was spared and Franz,
instead of being torn limb from limb, was derisively pardoned by his
great-souled brother and then, amid mocking laughter, thrust into the
selfsame dungeon in which he had confined his father. Much against
Schiller's will Amalia was made to kill herself with a dagger snatched
from one of the outlaws, instead of receiving her death at the hands of
her lover.

The prodigious success of 'The Robbers' upon the Mannheim stage, and
upon other stages where it was soon produced in more or less garbled
form, made the work famous. Famous and at the same time notorious. New
editions, most of them pirated, began to appear, and a mania similar to
the Werther-mania of the previous decade spread over Germany. The
newspapers told of conspiring schoolboys whose heads had been turned
toward a career of crime. A well-born youth who had essayed the role of
Robin Hood near Strassburg and was hanged there in October, 1783,
confessed suspiciously that he had been brought to his fate by the
reading of bad books. The sedate authorities of Leipzig forbade the
further performance of the play in their city because they had observed
a sudden increase of burglary and petit larceny. An edition of 1782,
which the publisher, possibly without Schiller's knowledge, had adorned
with a rampant lion and the motto _In Tirannos_, probably added to the
vogue of the piece as a revolutionary document. A French translation
appeared in 1785 and drew the attention of the turbulent Gauls to that
'Monsieur Gille', who was in time to receive the diploma of a French
citizen. The first English translation dates from 1792.

It is not difficult to imagine the emotions with which Schiller, now at
the fervid age of twenty-two, returned to his post after that
intoxicating visit to Mannheim, and, his ears still tingling with the
thunderous plaudits of the theater and the complimentary babble of his
new friends, resumed the dosing of his sick grenadiers in Stuttgart. For
a while things went on very much as before. In order to better his
position in a professional way, he formed the plan of taking his
doctor's degree and then qualifying for a professorship in physiology.
But from the first the poet in him prevailed more and more over the
medical man. Soon after leaving the academy he had published a long
elegy upon the death of a young friend named Weckerlin. It is a
rebellious, declamatory poem, in which the pathos of untimely death is
made the occasion for ventilating radical views as to the goodness of
God and the consolations of religion. Passages like the following show
the young Schiller at his best as a poet:

Liebe wird Dein Auge nie vergolden,
Nie umhalsen Deine Braut wirst Du,
Nie, wenn unsere Thraenen stromweis rollten,
Ewig, ewig, ewig sinkt Dein Auge zu.[33]

For the rest, the death of Weckerlin is a 'discord on the great lute',
and a 'barbarous doom'. And yet, the poem continues, the dead youth has
drawn the better lot; he will sleep calmly in his narrow house,
unmindful of the wretched tragi-comedy going on above his head. So his
friends are bidden 'to clap their hands and shout a loud _plaudite_'. As
for a reunion, there will be one, but it will not be in the 'paradise of
the rabble'.--In another poem dating from this period, 'The Chariot of
Venus,' the love-goddess is put on trial and castigated for her sins.
Her havoc among the sons of men is described in half a hundred
rhetorical stanzas which were evidently inspired by the genius of the
clinic or the hospital, rather than by one of the sacred nine.

Besides these poems a large number of others were written by Schiller
during the year 1781, prior to the time when Dalberg's invitation caused
him to turn his attention to the stage. It was of course important to
acquaint the public with his lucubrations, but poetry in large
quantities was not an easily marketable commodity. The usual mode of
publication was the poetic 'almanac' or 'calendar', in which a number of
ambitious verse-makers would unite their wares in a single volume. Of
such almanacs there were several in Germany and one at least in Suabia.
It was edited by one Staeudlin, a rival whom Schiller thought it would be
both feasible and pleasant to outshine. So he sent out letters to his
friends inviting contributions, and in due time there appeared, after a
fresh outlay of borrowed money, an 'Anthology for the Year 1782'. It
consisted of some four-score poems, signed with all manner of
intentionally misleading symbols and purporting to emanate from
Tobolsko, in Siberia. The most of the verses were the work of

Among the poems of the 'Anthology' there are none that have become very
popular, none that are capable of affording any very keen delight to
the lover of poetry. One sees that their author's lyric gift was not of
the highest order. What is heard is not so much the note of honest
feeling as the effort of an active intellect, searching heaven and
earth for clever and striking things to say. Instead of learning from
the folk-song, Schiller had learned originally from Klopstock; and what
he had learned was to pose and philosophize and invest fictitious
sentiment with a maze of bewildering and far-fetched imagery. Then he
had lost sympathy with Klopstock's religiosity, had acquired a better
opinion of the things of sense, and had had his introduction to doubt
and disgust and rebellion. When now these moods sought expression in
verse, the verse took the form of impassioned rhetoric. He sang not as
the bird sings, but as a fervid youth sings who is eager to assert as
strongly as possible his emancipation from conventional modes of
thought and feeling.

The poems of the 'Anthology' are too numerous and in the main too
unimportant for an exhaustive review; it must suffice to glance at a few
of the more noteworthy. Several had been written at the academy and were
now published with more or less of retouching. To this number, it would
seem, belongs the one entitled 'The Glory of Creation', which is a
perfectly serious and devout poem on the grandeur and beauty of the
world. Along with this, however, we find another, entitled 'To God',
which tells of moods like those which had led Werther to characterize
Nature as 'an eternally ruminating monster'. It consists of five unrimed
stanzas, all but one ending with an emphatic 'Thou big thing'.

Thou who didst summon earth and sky,
And earth and sky came forth;
Who sayest the word and worlds arise,
Who art thou, mighty thing?

O big, amazingly big thing!
My head swims when I look;
I shudder and start back afraid
And fall--upon my knees.

These verses--the translation may hold up its head quite unabashed
beside the original--hardly rise above the plane of doggerel; they
signify nothing except that their author has had his little quarrel with
this best of all possible worlds and is not unwilling to shock people.

Of far greater poetic interest are the verses entitled 'Rousseau', whose
neglected grave (he died in 1778) is made the point of departure for a
vigorous denunciation of the bigotry that had driven him from place to
place and denied him peace among the living. The poem foresees a time
when streams of blood shall flow for the honor of calling him son. There
is no effort at portraiture, and no suggestion of any repellent or
pitiable traits.[35] We get not Byron's "self-torturing sophist", but a
martyred sage who suffered and died at the hands of Christians,--'he who
makes out of Christians human beings'. Toward the end he is
apostrophized as the 'Great Endurer, and bidden to leap joyously into
Charon's boat and go tell the spirits about this 'dream of the war of
frogs and mice, the hand-organ doodle-doodle of this life'.[36]

In this poem there is certainly no lack of that 'fire' which Duke Karl
found in Schiller's dissertation. Indeed fire abounds everywhere in his
youthful versifying. He never contemplates, never dwells upon a
temperate emotion. The poetry of common things and of the gentler
feelings seems to have been nonexistent for him. His imagination likes
to occupy itself with the supernal, the stupendous, or else with the
awful and the revolting. This is seen in the two poems 'Elysium' and 'A
Group from Tartarus'; the one aiming to portray a land of ineffable
happiness, where sorrow has no name and the only pain is a gentle
ecstasy, the other depicting the infinite misery of the inferno. In both
there is a free blending of Christian with pagan conceptions, 'Elysium'
being put for heaven and 'Tartarus' for hell. A similar blending is
noticeable in many of the other poems, ancient mythology being made to
furnish forth the setting and the symbols of modern passion. So it is,
for example, in the lyric operetta 'Semele', the longest and most
pretentious of the 'Anthology' poems. It consists of two scenes in
irregular verses, dealing with Jupiter's love for the mortal Semele' and
Juno's jealousy. Artistically it is much in need of the file, and Its
sustained note of passionate pathos hardly comports, perhaps, with the
type of the operetta. Nevertheless it contains powerful passages and
telling stage effects. One can see that the young student--'Semele'
appears to have been written at the academy--had learned, through, his
occasional visits to the opera, how to manage a conventional theme and
conventional machinery in such a way as to startle and thrill.

More noteworthy, for the characterization of the youthful Schiller, is
the ode entitled 'Friendship', which purports to be taken 'from the
letters of Julius to Raphael, an unpublished novel'. In this poem we
have not so much the expression of a real human affection as a
philosophy of friendship; just as in the Laura poems we have a
philosophy of love. The verses remind one immediately of Rousseau's
saying that he was 'intoxicated with love without an object'. Friendship
is described as a mystic attraction of souls, identical with the
attraction of gravitation. This it is which makes the beauty and the
glory of the spiritual world. 'We are dead groups when we hate, gods
when we love.'

If in creation's All I stood alone,
Souls would I dream into the senseless stone
And kiss them in a fond embrace.

Then we hear of a hierarchy of spirits, ascending 'from the Mongol to
the Greek seer, who precedes the last of the seraphs'; and in this
harmonious ring-dance of souls Raphael and Julius 'sweep onward to where
time and space are submerged in the sea of eternal glory'.

Other poems which rise above the general level are 'The Bad Monarchs', a
poetic castigation (without mention of names) of the type of ruler
perfectly exemplified by Duke Karl of Wuerttemberg, up to about the year
1770; 'In a Battle', a powerful description of the rage of combat, with
all its sickening and inspiring details; 'The Pestilence', a gruesome
tribute to the power of God as manifested in the horrors of the plague,
and 'Count Eberhard the Quarreler', a patriotic battle-ballad in honor
of a locally renowned Suabian fighter. Better than any of these,
however, from a poetic point of view, is the 'Funeral Fantasy', which
was occasioned by the death of young Von Hoven in 1780. One may perhaps
doubt the genuineness of the grief that could find expression in such a
pomp of words, but there is no doubting the poetic power of pictures
like this:

Pale, at its ghastly noon,
Pauses above the death-still wood the moon;
The night-sprite sighing, through the dim air stirs;
The clouds descend in rain;
Mourning, the wan stars wane,
Flickering like dying lamps in sepulchres!

Haggard as spectres, vision-like and dumb,
Dark with the pomp of Death, and moving slow,
Towards that sad lair the pale Procession come
Where the Grave closes on the Night below.[37]

But the most famous and on the whole the most interesting of the
effusions in the 'Anthology' are the erotic verses addressed to Laura.
Whether Schiller was humanly in love with his landlady, Frau Luise
Vischer, is a rather futile question which German erudition has argued
pro and con these many years without coming to an inexpugnable
conclusion. Probably he was not, though he may have thought that he was.
If he had been we should have heard of it sooner or later in authentic
prose. But she interested him as the first of her sex who had come under
his close observation. There were on his part the small gallantries of
daily life, and on hers the responsiveness of a not very prudish widow
quite willing to be adored. She played the piano. It was enough: the
needy Petrarch had found a sufficient Laura--and never was a poet's
goddess worshiped in such singular strains. We miss in them altogether
that captivating simplicity which the young Goethe, and later the young
Heine, caught from the songs of the people. Schiller is always in
pursuit of the intense, the extraordinary, the ecstatic, and sometimes
fails to impress through sheer superabundance of the impressive. His
imagination wanders between a wild sensuality,--so lubricious in its
suggestions, now and then, as to occasion gossip to the effect that he
had become a libertine,--and a sublimated philosophy based on Platonic
conceptions of a prenatal existence, or upon Leibnitzian conceptions of
a pre-established harmony. But while the Laura poems are sufficiently
sensual, they are not sensuous; or if they try to be, the sensuous
element is unreal and unimaginable. Some of them, with their
overstrained vehemence of expression, their fervid and far-fetched
tropes, their involved and sometimes obscure diction, are little more
than intellectual puzzles: they so occupy the mind in the mere effort of
comprehension that little room is left for any emotion whatever. They
leave one altogether cold.

A 'Fantasie to Laura' identifies the rapturous passion with the force of
gravitation which holds planets and systems in order. 'Blot it out from
the mechanism of nature and the All bursts asunder in fragments; your
worlds thunder into chaos; weep, Newtons, for their giant fall!' And
then Laura's kiss!

Aus den Schranken schwellen alle Sehnen,
Seine Ufer ueberwallt das Blut;
Koerper will in Koerper ueberstuerzen,
Lodern Seelen in vereinter Glut.[38]

When Laura plays the piano, her adorer stands there, one moment an
exanimate statue, the next a disembodied spirit,--while the listening
zephyrs murmur more softly in reverence. In a 'Reproach to Laura' she is
taxed with being the ruin of her lover's ambition. Because of her the
'giant has shriveled to a dwarf'. She has 'blown away the mountains',
that he had 'rolled up' to the sunny heights of glory. In another poem,
'Mystery of Reminiscence', we hear of a cosmic golden age in which
Laura, one with her poet, was a part of the Godhead. One and yet two,
they swept through space in unimaginable ecstasy. Somehow,--the point is
not made very clear,--there came a great cataclysm and separated them.
Now they are beautiful fragments of the God, evermore yearning to
restore the lost unity:

Darum Laura dieses Wutverlangen,
Ewig starr an deinen Mund zu hangen,
Und die Wollust deinen Hauch zu trinken,
In dein Wesen, wenn sich Blicke winken,
Sterbend zu versinken.[39]

Without lingering longer over the erotic poems of the 'Anthology', one
may say that they are characterized, like 'The Robbers', by a fiery
intensity of expression which, in the search after the sublime,
occasionally passes the bounds of good taste. Their author already has
at his command a gorgeous poetic diction that is all his own. One is
often amazed at his mere command of words, the audacity of his tropes,
the sweep of his imagination. But he does not convince. When at his best
he only produces an impression of magnificent feigning. The reader soon
sees that, notwithstanding all the impassioned hyperboles, it is really
intellectual poetry,--a youth philosophizing about his passion. And the
philosophy is little more than a matter of fine-sounding but vacuous
analogies that have no root in the facts of experience.[40] And so the
poetry does not take hold of one. Nor does it charm with its music;
there is vigor and sweep and swing, but the subtler elements of
melodious verse are lacking.

These qualities of the youthful Schiller's poetry foretell that he will
never be a great lyrist, but they promise well enough for the poetic
tale. This promise is seen notably in the poem called 'The
Infanticide'. It is a gruesome thing, with the pathos here and there
overstrained, but what a power of vivid narration! What a gift for the
portraiture of frenzied passion! For the rest, it should not go
unrecorded that certain poems of the 'Anthology' went altogether too
far in the defiance of conventional morality. The study of medicine,
combined with the ardor of youthful revolt and the seductions of a new
bohemian life, had so sensualized the mind of Schiller that, for a
brief period in his career, he found pleasure in exploiting the
indecent. It was but a passing phase, and not very bad at its worst.
Still, if Heine, and the other emancipators of the flesh who came
later, had felt the need of supporting their cause by an appeal to
distinguished authority, they might have referred quite unabashed to
the youthful sins of the idealist Schiller.

Little notice was taken of the 'Anthology' even in Suabia, and none at
all, apparently, in the outside German world. The investment brought no
immediate returns in fame or in money, and other experiments of a
different character turned out but little better.

As early as the spring of 1781 Schiller had assumed the editorial charge
of a would-be popular magazine intended to contribute to the 'benefit
and pleasure' of the Suabians. It was a weak provincial affair that soon
died of inanition. The hack-work that Schiller did for it is of no
biographical interest, save that it brought him into connection with
Suabian writers and suggested to him that with a freer hand he might
produce a better journal. In the following year, accordingly, we find
him starting, in conjunction with his friends Abel and Petersen, the
_Wirtemberg Repertory of Literature_. It was to be a quarterly, and bore
the ominous legend: 'at the expense of the editors'. To this journal
Schiller contributed various essays and reviews which show that as a
critic he had been influenced by Lessing, but had not acquired the knack
of Lessing's luminous and straightforward style. In a rather badly
written paper on 'The Present Condition of the German Theater', he takes
up a question which was destined to interest him later,--that of the
relation of the drama to morality. He has no difficulty in showing that
people are not deterred from the vices or impelled to the virtues that
they see represented on the stage.

But by far the most important of these contributions to the _Repertory_
are two reviews (of course anonymous) of his own writings. In a long
notice of 'The Robbers' he discusses the work with a coolness that is
simply amazing. His own child has become a _corpus vile_ that he has
the nerve to dissect without the slightest tremor of parental sympathy.
Nearly everything that a century's criticism has found to urge against
the play,--the dubiousness of the entire invention, the impossibility
of such a devil as Franz, the insipidity of Amalia and the old Count
Moor, the faults of the diction and the barbarism of the action,--is
here set forth with remorseless severity. The review closes with the
facetious comment which appears at the head of this chapter. Not quite
so caustic is the notice of the 'Anthology', but it contains a
significant 'admonition to our young poets' to the effect that
'extravagance is not strength, that violation of the rules of taste and
propriety is not boldness and originality, that fancy is not feeling,
and high-flown rhetoric is not the talisman on which the arrows of
criticism break and recoil'.

Verily it is not given every young author to see himself thus clearly
in the glass of criticism. We may guess, however, that these critical
mystifications were not altogether free from the element of
calculating humbug. Schiller knew full well that to be castigated in
public would not be a bad thing for his budding reputation; and so, as
no one else came forward to do the slashing, he did it himself. It is
amusing to read that a Frankfurt correspondent was so pained by the
review of 'The Robbers' that he sent in a defence of the piece and was
greatly surprised to learn that reviewer and author were one and the
same person.

These contributions to the _Repertory_ appeared in the first two
numbers; before the third came out Schiller had turned his back for good
and all upon his native Wuerttemberg. Ever since that first visit to
Mannheim he had felt drawn to the 'Greek climate of the Palatinate'. On
the 1st of April, 1782, we find him writing to Dalberg that it 'would be
untrue were he to deny his growing inclination for the drama'. The
letter goes on to say that he was then expecting to be very much
occupied, for several months, with medical studies; but he hoped to
finish a new play, 'Fiesco', by the end of the year. Toward the end of
May, taking advantage of the absence of the duke, he visited Mannheim
again and saw a second representation of 'The Robbers'. Through the
indiscreet gossip of the friends who accompanied him, the duke got wind
of this unauthorized journey, ordered 'the deserter' under arrest for
two weeks, and forbade him all further intercourse with foreign parts.

Schiller made use of his enforced leisure to work upon 'Fiesco', and to
plan a third drama, 'Louise Miller', which promised a chance of revenge
upon the petty tyrant who sought to own him body and soul. After serving
his time in the guard-house he wrote an urgent appeal to Dalberg, to
rescue him from his intolerable situation by giving him employment at
Mannheim. But Dalberg, a fearsome and politic creature, had no mind to
compromise himself by befriending a youth who had quarreled with the
powerful duke of Wuerttemberg. Schiller now began to think of running
away, and his thoughts were soon quickened into resolution by fresh

In the second act of 'The Robbers' he had made Spiegelberg refer to the
Swiss canton of the Grisons as the 'Athens of modern scalawags.'
Tradition has it that the passage was a thrust at an unpopular Swiss
overseer in the academy. It is probable, however, that it was in no way
malicious, but merely a thoughtless jest at the expense of a canton
which had actually got a bad reputation for lax enforcement of the law.
Be this as it may, the passage gave offence to a patriotic Swiss named
Amstein, who aired his grievance in print and demanded a retraction.
When Schiller paid no attention to this, Amstein appealed to one Walter,
a fussy official living at Ludwigsburg. Walter took up the case of the
traduced canton with great zeal, and brought it to the attention of the
duke. The result was a summons to Schiller, a sharp reproof, and an
order to write no more 'comedies'. He was to confine himself strictly to
medicine or he would be cashiered.

Matters now came swiftly to a head. On September 1, 1782, Schiller
addressed to his sovereign a very humble letter of remonstrance, setting
forth that his authorship had added more than five hundred florins to
his income,[41] and that this money was absolutely necessary for the
prosecution of his studies; that he was winning reputation and thus
bringing honor to the academy and to its illustrious founder, and so
forth. The duke's reply was to threaten him with arrest in case he
should write any more letters upon this subject. Schiller now resolved
to take his fate in his own hands. Resistance and submission to the
autocrat were alike out of the question; the only recourse was flight
from Wuerttemberg.

In the days of German absolutism, this was a dangerous step to take.
Technically he would be a deserter. He had reason to fear that he would
not be allowed to make his way in the world by his own merit, unharmed
and unhelped, but would be dogged by the malice of a despot and perhaps
brought back to undergo the fate of Schubart. Worse still was the
possibility that his father might be made to suffer from the duke's
anger. Nevertheless he resolved to take the risk. He made known his
purpose to a very few friends, one of whom, Frau von Wolzogen, offered
him her house in Bauerbach, in the event of his sometime needing a quiet
refuge. Another friend, Andreas Streicher, nobly offered to share his
fortunes, Streicher, to whom we owe a classical account of this episode
in Schiller's life, was a young musician living with his mother in
Stuttgart. It had been planned that he should visit Hamburg in the near
future, but he now persuaded his mother to advance him the money that
was to have been devoted to his journey, in order that he might
accompany his beloved Schiller into exile. So the friends bided their
time and meanwhile 'Fiesco' made rapid progress.

The wished-for opportunity came on the 22nd of September. The court was
in a flutter over the visit of a Russian prince for whose reception
great preparations had been made. In the general excitement Schiller
counted upon getting away unobserved. So he bade a tearful farewell to
his mother and sisters, who knew of the secret that had been kept away
from the father for reasons of policy, and in the evening he drove out
of Stuttgart with his friend Streicher, giving to the guard the names of
Dr. Ritter and Dr. Wolf. The friends set their faces northward towards
Mannheim. As they passed the brilliantly illuminated Castle Solitude, so
Streicher relates, Schiller fell into a long revery. At last the
exclamation 'My Mother!' told the tale of his thoughts. But the mood of
sadness did not last long. Cheerful talk enlivened the journey, and when
the two travellers crossed the boundary of the Palatinate Schiller was
jubilant. He felt that he had entered a land of freedom and
enlightenment, where art was esteemed and talent honored.

He had with him, virtually complete, the manuscript of the new play upon
which he had built illusory hopes. It will be in order to consider
'Fiesco' before we follow its author into the vicissitudes of his exile.


[Footnote 30: The somewhat conflicting data are subjected to a critical
scrutiny by Weltrich, I, 323 ff.]

[Footnote 31: Bulthaupt, I, 210, quotes from Pichler's history of the
Mannheim theater the following account by an eye-witness; 'The theater
was like a mad-house,--rolling eyes, clenched fists, stamping feet and
hoarse shrieks from the spectators. Strangers fell sobbing into each
other's arms, and women staggered to the door at the point of fainting.
There was a general dissolution, as in chaos, from the mists of which a
new creation bursts forth.' This description is perhaps the best
possible antidote to Matthew Arnold's fastidious observation that 'The
Robbers' is violent and tiresome.]

[Footnote 32: In a letter of Dec. 12, 1781, to Dalberg, he admits the
cogency of the objection to his horde of robbers 'in our enlightened
century' and virtually expresses regret that he had not himself, from
the beginning, imagined an earlier date for the action. But he fears
that to change the time, now that the piece is finished, will result in
making it a monstrosity, a 'crow with peacock's feathers'.]

[Footnote 33:

"Love gilds not for thee all the world with its glow,
Never Bride in the clasp of thine arms shall repose;
Thou canst see not our tears, though in torrents they flow.
Those eyes in the calm of eternity close."
--_Bulwer's Translation_.]

[Footnote 34: As different poems undoubtedly Schiller's were variously
signed, and as many of his youthful effusions were excluded by him from
the collection of 1801, the sifting out of his share in the 'Anthology'
and the ascription of the remaining poems to their proper authors are
tasks of no small difficulty. The critical student should consult
Weltrich, I, 501 ff.]

[Footnote 35: Schiller seems to have got his idea of Rousseau chiefly
from H.P. Sturz's "Denkwuerdigkeiten von Johann Jakob Rousseau" (1779).
The famous 'Confessions' did not begin to appear until 1781. Curiously
enough our poem refers to Rousseau as 'suckled on the banks of the
Seine', and as having 'stood like a meteor on the banks of the

[Footnote 36:

Geh, du Opfer dieses Trillingsdrachen,
Huepfe freudig in den Todesnachen,
Grosser Dulder, frank und frei!
Geh, erzaehl' dort in der Geister Kreise
Diesen Traum vom Krieg der Froesch' und Maeuse,
Dieses Lebens Jahrmarktsdudelei.]

[Footnote 37: Bulwer's translation, which is here particularly good.]

[Footnote 38:

"Out from their bounds swell nerve, and pulse, and sense,
The veins in tumult would their shores o'erflow;
Body to body rapt--and, charmed thence,
Soul drawn to soul with intermingled glow."
--_Bulwer's Translation_.]

[Footnote 39:

"And therefore came to me the wish to woo thee--
Still, lip to lip, to cling for aye unto thee;
_This_ made thy glances to my soul the link--
_This_ made me burn thy very breath to drink--
My life in thine to sink."
--_Bulwer's Translation, _]

[Footnote 40: Concerning the provenience and the philosophic connection
of the youthful Schiller's ideas of love and friendship the reader will
do well to consult Kuno Fischer, "Schiller-Schriften", I, 41 ff.]

[Footnote 41: Of course this roseate statement to his Highness took no
account of his debts, which had not yet begun to be particularly


The Conspiracy of Fiesco at Genoa

Ein Diadem erkaempfen ist grosz; es wegwerfen ist goettlich.

As we have seen, 'Fiesco' was written during the summer and fall of
1782. The following winter, having been rejected by the Mannheim stage,
it was published as a literary drama. This first edition bore the
sub-title: 'A Republican Tragedy.'

There is a very general agreement that 'Fiesco' is upon the whole the
weakest of Schiller's plays. As a 'republican tragedy' it is a
disappointment, since its political import, though obvious enough to one
acquainted with Schiller from other sources, is not brought out
distinctly in the play itself. Neither the friend nor the enemy of
republicanism, in any historical or human sense of the word, can derive
the slightest edification from 'Fiesco,' The political talk is vague and
unpractical, and we get no clear idea of the contending forces. When the
curtain goes down upon the chaos of intrigue, one is at a loss to know
how one is expected to feel. And yet the play is full of powerful
scenes, developed with masterly dramatic skill. As a mere spectacle it
rivals 'The Robbers', to which as a drama it is decidedly inferior. In
general its defects strike the reader more than the spectator. It is not
the hand of the dramatist but the eye of the historian that is lacking.
In other words the author, with all his seeming profundity of
philosophic reflection, was simply not ripe for historical tragedy.

The bare facts of Fiesco's conspiracy, related with as little
ascription of motive as possible, are these: In the year 1528 Andrea
Doria, who had won great distinction as an admiral in the French
service, but had now quarreled with the King of France and hoisted the
colors of Emperor Charles the Fifth, landed an expedition in Genoa and
captured the city from the French. Historians agree that he could
easily have made himself sovereign, but instead of doing so he restored
the old aristocratic republic, thus winning for himself the enduring
title of 'father and liberator of his country.' Although Doria was
simply an influential citizen of Genoa and enjoyed the general esteem
of his countrymen, his prominence in the state gave rise to animosities
among the noble families, and these were increased when he made his
young and headstrong kinsman, Gianettino, his heir. In the year 1547
the malcontents found a leader in the person of Giovanni Ludovigi
Fiesco, Count of Lavagna. Fiesco was young, handsome, rich and
ambitious--a dashing and unscrupulous cavalier. His first thought was
to restore the French domination and make himself only a viceroy of the
French king; but a fellow conspirator, Verrina, persuaded him to seize
for himself the sovereign power to which his rank and talents entitled
him. The conspiracy was carefully matured, Fiesco meanwhile, to divert
suspicion, acting the part of a giddy spendthrift and man of fashion.
On the night of January 2, 1547, the conspirators made their attack
upon the city. Gianettino Doria was killed, but the aged Andrea made
his escape. The success of Fiesco appeared to be complete, but as he
was going on board a galley the gang-plank turned, he fell into the sea
and his heavy armor bore him down. Without a leader the conspiracy
instantly collapsed. On the following day Andrea returned and the
Genoese republic went on as before,

It was a hint from Rousseau that suggested to Schiller, during his last
year in the academy, the idea of dramatizing this episode of Genoese
history. In the German 'Memoirs of Rousseau' by H.P. Sturz, referred to
in the preceding chapter, he found Rousseau quoted as follows:

The reason why Plutarch wrote such noble biographies is that he
never selected half-great men, such as exist by the thousands in
quiet states, but grand exemplars of virtue or sublime criminals. In
modern history there is a man deserving of his brush, and that is
Count Fiesco, whose training made him the very man to liberate his
country from the rule of the Dorias.... There was no other thought
in his soul than to dethrone the usurper.[42]

Here was a tempting theme for a young dramatist who had fed his own soul
upon Plutarch, was enamored of 'greatness' in whatever form, and had
already tried his hand upon a 'sublime criminal.' What could be better
for his purpose than a daring conspiracy, led by a Plutarchian hero who
was at the same time a single-minded patriot? In his earliest musings it
is probable that Schiller accepted Rousseau's view of Fiesco at its face
value, and when he began to consult the historians he found at first
some support for his preconception. Among his sources was the
'Conjuration du Comte de Fiesque', by De Retz; a book which was written,
according to a somewhat doubtful tradition, when its author was but
eighteen years old, and which, by its clever perversion of history and
its subtle insinuation of revolutionary ideas, is said to have drawn
from Richelieu the comment: 'There is a dangerous man!'[43] In the
sophisticated narrative of De Retz Fiesco appears as a modern Brutus,
whose thought of personal aggrandizement was altogether subordinate to
the thought of his country's welfare. He is made much better than he
really was, and the two Dorias much worse.

Further study of the subject, however, soon opened the eyes of Schiller
to the other side of the question; for in Robertson's 'Charles the
Fifth' he found Fiesco portrayed as an ambitious revolutionist who
sought to overthrow the Dorias only in order that he might make himself
the master of Genoa--in short as a Catiline instead of a Brutus. The
dramatic problem then turned from the first upon the character of
Fiesco. In the 'Dramaturgic' of Lessing the doctrine had been proclaimed
that the dramatist is not bound by the so-called facts of history; that
he may deal with them as suits his artistic purpose. But what was the
purpose to be in this case? Should it be a tragedy of austere patriotism
going down against a relatively bad order too strong to be resisted, or
a tragedy of corrupt ambition dashing itself to death against a
relatively good order too strong to be overthrown? Either conception, if
consistently worked out, might have sufficed for the groundwork of a
good historical tragedy. What Schiller did, however, was to vacillate
between the two, to blend them in a confusing way, and finally to let
the interest of his play turn largely upon the hero's mental struggle
between selfish ambition and unselfish patriotism.

The Catiline conception required an avenger of Genoa, for it was
evident[44] that the accidental drowning of Fiesco in the moment of his
triumph would never do in a play. It was necessary that his death appear
as a punishment, a nemesis. So for the role of avenger Schiller invented
a stern patriot to whom, without historical warrant, he gave the name of
Verrina. Verrina is the real Brutus. To furnish the conspirators with a
definite grievance Gianettino was made to violate the helpless Bertha,
who was then provided with an avenger in the person of the young
Bourgognino. Leonora, the wife of Fiesco, is historical. Robertson
relates that on the night of the uprising Fiesco went to take leave of
his wife, "whom he loved with tender affection." He found her "in all
the anguish of uncertainty and fear"; and her terror was increased when
she learned what was on foot. She endeavored by her tears and entreaties
and her despair to divert him from his purpose. But in vain; he left her
with the exclamation: "Farewell! You shall either never see me more, or
you shall behold to-morrow everything in Genoa subject to your power."
On the other hand, the intrigue of Fiesco and Julia, the sister of
Gianettino, is unhistorical. It was invented by Schiller as a part of
the general scheme of duplicity and frivolity by which Fiesco should
seek to quiet the suspicion of the Dorias. If this particular invention
was upon the whole unfortunate--the matter will be discussed further
on,--the same cannot be said of the Moor Hassan, who becomes Fiesco's
factotum and ends his career on the gallows. The rascally Moor is the
most picturesque figure and the most telling role in the whole piece.

Schiller introduces Fiesco as a seemingly frivolous _roue_, flirting
desperately with the Countess Julia, to the great torment of his wife
Leonora. We soon see, however, that the frivolity is only a mask: he has
a serious purpose and that purpose is to make himself master of Genoa.
At first, indeed, he toys with the idea of a nobler fame. In a soliloquy
at the end of the second act he exclaims: 'To conquer a diadem is grand;
to throw it away is divine. Down, tyrant! Let Genoa be free and me be
its happiest citizen!' But this mood does not long withstand the
intoxication of power. To rule, to rule alone, to feel that Genoa owes
everything to him only,--this soon becomes his all-absorbing ambition.
At the last, when the revolution has succeeded, he puts on the ducal
purple and the people are ready to acquiesce in the new regime. But old
Verrina is not so tractable. When he cannot prevail upon Fiesco to doff
the hateful insignia, he pushes him into the sea and exclaims in
disgust: 'I am going to Andrea!'

Such a scheme, it is evident, does not provide for a 'republican
tragedy', except in a very loose sense. If we had a republican idealist
pitting his strength against a tyrant and going down in the battle,
either because of his adversary's superior strength or because of some
weakness in his own character, that would be a tragedy of republicanism.
In Schiller's play, however, the conflict is not of that character. At
heart Fiesco is never a republican, though he sometimes takes his mouth
full of fine republican phrases. His mainspring of action is not the
welfare of Genoa, but his own aggrandizement. Old Andrea, whose power he
plots to overthrow and whose magnanimity puts him to shame, is actually
a better man than he. If he has a measure of our sympathy in his feud
with the younger Doria, that is only because Gianettino is portrayed as
a vulgar brute deserving of nothing but the gallows. Politically there
is little to choose between the two, so long as we regard virtue as
consisting in an unselfish devotion to an ideal of republican liberty.

The character of Fiesco being what it is, his final catastrophe produces
no very clear impression. One does not see precisely what bearing it is
to have on the political fortunes of Genoa. At first blush the
conclusion seems to mean that the state has been saved from the clutches
of a tyrant who was about to subvert its liberties. But if we look at
the matter in that light we have a tragedy, not of republicanism, but of
the "vaulting ambition which o'erleaps itself and falls on the other."
With the usurper Fiesco, and the brute Gianettino, out of the way, the
state returns to the good regimen of Andrea, who represents the only
republicanism then thinkable, democracy in the modern sense being
nowhere in question. But it is doubtful whether Schiller intends Fiesco
to be thus reprobated. The hot-blooded Italian has certain traits that
win sympathy; and even his consuming ambition is so invested with a
glamour of romantic enthusiasm that it is difficult to reckon him among
the dangerous tyrants. If he is false to his better nature, we at any
rate see that he has a better nature. One is thus tempted to regard
Verrina's act as that of a madman who cares more for form than for
substance and sees danger where there is none.

For Verrina, who plays the part of Brutus to his country's Caesar and
seems to represent the sternest type of republican virtue, is a
repulsive fanatic. The horrible curse that he pronounces upon his
daughter when he hears that she has been outraged is significant at once
for his character and for the young Schiller's notion of tragic pathos.
Throwing a black veil over her head he vociferates thus:

Be blind! Accursed be the air that fans your cheek! Accursed be the
sleep that refreshes you! Accursed be every human trace that is
welcome to your misery! Go down into the deepest dungeon of my
house! Moan! Howl! Drag out the time with your woe. Let your life be
the slimy writhing of the dying worm,--the obstinate, crushing
struggle between being and not-being. And this curse shall rest upon
you until Gianettino has gasped out his last breath.

After this it is difficult to look up to Verrina as a competent savior
of society, however much one may sympathize with him in his private
feud. His cynical tergiversation at the end makes his previous conduct
ridiculous. It seems to say that he has been participating in a tragic
farce which is now ended. One might almost get the impression that the
whole play is only a satire upon republican clap-trap.

Satire, however, was very far from Schiller's thoughts. His enthusiasm
for liberty was much too genuine to permit any trifling with the sacred
theme. There is no doubt that he began 'Fiesco' supposing that it would
prove a convenient setting for those inspiring ideas of liberty which he
had absorbed from the reading of ancient history and of modern
revolutionary literature. They were vague and tumultuous ideas, which
had very little relation to a definite theory of government, but he was
very much in earnest with them, especially after his rasping experience
with the Duke of Wuerttemberg. No one can mistake the autobiographic note
in the speech of Bourgognino which closes the first act: 'I have long
felt in my breast something that would not be satisfied. Now of a sudden
I know what it was. (Springing up heroically) I have a tyrant.' But the
young dramatist had not proceeded far before he discovered that his
ideal requirement was out of tune with the facts. To represent Fiesco as
a would-be liberator of his country was impossible without a violent
perversion of history for which he was not prepared. Out of deference to
history he was led to abase his hero into something like a Catilinarian
conspirator. But he could not give up the idea of a republican tragedy;
so he tried to save it by depicting his hero as a man who had it in him
to become a noble liberator, but is corrupted by the dazzling lures of
power and so led on to ruin.

There are those who regard Fiesco's inconsistency as an artistic
complexity of motive going to show that Schiller had progressed in the
knowledge of life and become aware that human heroism is apt to be more
or less mixed with base alloy. One writer[45] thinks it shows "how
intelligently he had studied the Italian Renaissance and how correctly
he had grasped its spirit." But this is to give him a credit that he
does not fully deserve. The simple truth is that 'Fiesco' was written
very hastily and that its author had spent precious little time in
studying the Italian Renaissance, though it must be admitted that he
possessed a remarkable gift for visualizing the little that he had
read. Complexity of motive is all very well,--very human and very
Italian; but the difficulty is that in this case it is not properly
subordinated to a luminous dramatic idea. When a man's motives become
so complex and contradictory that one does not know how to take him, he
ceases to be available for the higher purposes of tragedy. That
'Fiesco' produces this bewildering effect is due to the fact that the
inner logic of the piece had not been fully and consistently thought
out when the writing began.

And this is not all. The author seems unable to control and guide the
unruly spirits whom he has conjured into life. There is no lucid
grouping of historical forces. France, Germany and the Pope stand dimly
in the background like mechanical puppets, and we never learn what they
severally represent in relation to Genoese politics, Gianettino pulls a
string and has a sanction for the wholesale murder of his countrymen.
Fiesco pulls another string and gets men and galleys ad libitum. We do
not see an intelligible clash of great political ideas, but a wild
melee, in the outcome of which we have no reason to be particularly
interested. It is all as little tragic as a back-country vendetta, or a
factional fight in the halls of a modern parliament.

How loosely the play is articulated, and how little of logical
compulsion there Is in the catastrophe, is shown with fatal clearness by
Schiller's procedure in revising his work for the Mannheim stage. By a
few strokes of the pen at the end he changed its entire character. In
the original draft his vacillating mind had leaned more and more
decisively towards the Catilinarian conception of his hero, and the
book-version of 1783 was accordingly supplied with a motto from
Sallust's 'Catiline.' The sentence runs: _Nam id facinus imprimis ego
memorabile existimo, sceleris atque periculi novitate._ So the
conspiracy was to be a _facinus_ and a _scelus_, and the hero, of
course, another 'exalted criminal' in the style of Karl Moor. In the
stage version we observe that the motto from Sallust has been dropped,
and that while the title of 'tragedy' (_Trauerspiel_) is retained, the
adjective 'republican' is omitted. Furthermore, without any radical
revision of the preceding portraiture taken as a whole, a non-tragical
conclusion has been substituted for the final catastrophe. Fiesco, hard
pressed by the strenuous Verrina, declares that his heart has been right
all along; only he was resolved that Genoa's freedom should be his work
and his alone. So he breaks his scepter, concludes an eternal friendship
with the amazed Verrina, and bids the people embrace their 'happiest
fellow-citizen.' Thus the original version, which had called itself a
republican tragedy and was a tragedy without being republican, became a
play which is truly republican without being called so, but is no longer
a tragedy.

This singular _volte-face_ on the part of our dramatist has of course
been the subject of infinite discussion. The most of the critics appear
to regard it as a mistake, to say the least. One of them,
Bellermann,[46] surmises that Schiller made the change against his will
to meet the views of Dalberg. But of this there is no clear proof; and
surely we cannot suppose that Schiller would have consented even
reluctantly to a change which he himself felt to be utterly absurd
because a complete stultification of the preceding plot. He must have
felt that the new ending was artistically at least possible. And so it
is. It is with 'Fiesco' somewhat as with the Bible: the conclusion that
one reaches must depend upon the particular texts that one selects for
emphasis. If we accent certain passages and pass lightly over others, we
get the impression that it is a tragedy of selfish ambition doomed to
disaster. If we accent a different set of passages, we are sure that it
is a drama of republican idealism, sorely tempted by autocratic
ambition, but destined to triumph finally over the baser motive. In the
one view Verrina is a virtuous patriot; in the other he is a mad fanatic
who does not understand the greatness of his chief. After Fiesco
declares in soliloquy,--when a dramatic character is supposed to speak
his real sentiments if anywhere,--that it is far nobler to renounce a
diadem than to win it, we are certainly justified in expecting that he
will seek the higher glory for himself. Thus either ending is possible,
and which is the better is mainly a question of stage effect. Neither is
historical, and neither gives a republican tragedy.

It would be pedantic indeed to have devoted so many words to a mere
matter of name. If a drama is good it signifies but little what we call
it, or whether its title be exactly appropriate. In this case, however,
we have to do with a vital defect and not merely with a misnomer. A play
may be good in different ways; and what the preceding criticism is
intended to bring out is the fact that the strength of 'Fiesco', such as
it has, does not lie in the intellectual organization of the whole. The
mind of Schiller, but little trained hitherto upon historical studies,
had not yet learned how to extract a clear poetic essence from a
confused medley of recorded facts and opinions. Nature had endowed him
with a vivid imagination for details, but study had not yet fitted him
to exercise in a large and luminous way the sovereignty of the artist.
His facts confused him and pulled him this way and that. And so we miss
in 'Fiesco' that 'monumental fresco-painting', as it has been called,
which constitutes the charm of his riper historical dramas.

But average play-goers are wont to bother their heads but little over
these questions of higher artistic import which are apt to bulk so large
before the mind of the literary critic. There are hundreds of literary
dramas that are impossible or deadly dull upon the stage; and conversely
dramatic talent will often make an interesting play out of a succession
of scenes that lead the philosophic mind no whither. If 'Fiesco' remains
a fairly good stage-play, it is because the interest turns not upon its
ultimate import, but upon its elaborate intrigue, its exciting
situations and its general picturesqueness. The intrigue carries one
along by its very audacity, notwithstanding that in the light of reason
much of it appears rather absurd. Thus we wonder how a mere brute like
Gianettino can have become such a power in the state right under the
eyes of the wise and good Andrea, who is subject to no illusions with
regard to him. No objection can be made to Fiesco's mask of gayety and
cynicism in the first two acts, for that is historical. But was it
necessary for him to deceive and torture the wife to whom in the end he
appears loyally devoted? In any case it is clear that the exposition
should have hinted somehow at the true condition of affairs, for it is a
good old rule that while the people on the stage may disguise themselves
and befool one another as they will, the audience must be kept posted.

As it is, there is no suggestion of make-believe in Fiesco's courting of
Julia. When he exclaims in soliloquy that she loves him and he 'envies
no god', one is justified in assuming that chivalrous devotion to his
wife is not among his virtues. It is to be supposed, apparently, that he
makes love to Julia in order to be seen of men; but as a matter of fact
nothing comes of his flirtation except the torture of his wife. No one
is deceived whom it was important for him to deceive, and the whole
incident serves only to put his character in a dubious light. Is this
what Schiller intended? Did he feel that his hot-blooded Italian should
not be made too much of an idealist in his relation to women? Did he
wish it to be understood that Fiesco is honestly infatuated with the
voluptuous Julia until he learns of her attempt to poison his wife?
These are queries to which the play gives no very clear answer. So far
as the conspiracy is concerned the whole affair with Julia is rather
badly motivated.

Still more dubious, from a rational point of view, is Fiesco's relation
to the Moor. That a man having large political designs requiring secrecy
and fidelity should, on the spur of the moment, choose as his
confidential agent a venal scoundrel who has just tried to murder him,
is, to say the least, a little improbable. Here Schiller was evidently
trying to Shaksperize again; trying, that is, to assert the poet's
sovereign lordship over the petty bonds of Philistine logic. The Moor's
frank exposition of the professional ethics of rascality, the dash with
which he does his work, his ubiquitous serviceableness, and his rogue's
humor make him a picturesque character and account for his having become
on the stage the most popular figure in the piece; but that Fiesco
should be willing to trust himself and his cause to such a scamp, and
that such remarkable results should be achieved by the black man's
kaleidoscopic activity, brings into the play an element of buffoonery
that injures it on the serious side. The daring play of master and man
excites a certain interest in their game, but it is impossible to care
very much who wins. From a dramaturgic point of view, however, the Moor
is a very useful invention, since Fiesco is thereby enabled to direct
the whole conspiracy from his palace, and at the same time, in the
person of his lieutenant, to be in every part of the city. Thus the
action is concentrated and changes of scene are avoided.

As a portrayer of female character the author of 'Fiesco' has clearly
made some progress since his first lame attempt in 'The Robbers', but
the improvement is by no means dazzling. Both Leonora and Julia are
singular creatures, and their unaccountableness is not of the right
feminine kind that offers an attractive role to a good actress. Why
should the Countess Fiesco, herself an aristocrat and a woman with
heroic blood in her veins, submit so meekly in her own house to the
coarse effrontery of the woman who has wronged her? We get the
impression that she is only a crushed flower,--a helpless, wan-cheeked
thing, with nothing womanly about her except her jealousy. And then, at
the end, she suddenly develops into a heroine. And what a strange
heroine! No one will chide her for resorting on the fatal night to the
protection of male attire,--a good enough Shaksperian device,--but how
remarkable that a woman wandering crazily in the dark, and already
sufficiently disguised, should borrow a tell-tale cloak and a worse than
useless sword from a corpse that she happens to stumble upon! No wonder
that Schiller in revising for the stage decided to let Leonora live
rather than provide for her death by such a stagy _tour de force_. In
the stage version, however, she does not reappear after the parting
scene, and so we are left to wonder why she was introduced at all.

In Madame Julia we have a type of woman who was meant to be repulsive,
and so far forth the young artist must be admitted to have wrought
successfully. She is somewhat minutely described as a 'tall and plump
widow of twenty-five; a proud coquette, her beauty spoiled by its
oddity; dazzling and not pleasing, and with a wicked, cynical
expression.' That such a woman should befool Fiesco and rejoice in her
triumph is quite thinkable, but her qualities are those which usually go
with a certain amount of discretion. That she should suddenly lose her
head and throw herself away in a voluptuous frenzy hardly comports with
the type. Nor is there anything in the inventory of her qualities that
prepares us for her sudden assumption of the role of poisoner, when she
is already, as she must suppose, the mistress of the situation. In her
altercation with Leonora in the second scene of Act II she uses a number
of coarse expressions befitting a woman of vulgar birth,--wherein some
of the critics see an evidence of Schiller's unfamiliarity with the ways
of refined ladies. It is quite possible, however, that we have to do
instead with a realistic attempt to make her language match the
essential vulgarity of her character. At any rate it is interesting to
know that the scene was offensive to Schiller himself. He worked upon it
with repugnance and was glad to be able to omit it entirely from the
stage version.[47]

In respect of its diction 'Fiesco' is in no way essentially different
from 'The Robbers', albeit some have imagined that a faint improvement
is discernible. There is the same tearing of passion to tatters, the
same predilection for florid rhetoric in the sentimental passages, and
for frenzied talk and action in passages of more violent emotion. When
Fiesco discovers that he has killed his wife, he first thrashes about
him furiously with his sword. Then he gnashes his teeth at God in heaven
and expresses himself thus: 'If I only had His universe between my
teeth, I feel in a mood to tear all nature into a grinning monster
having the semblance of my pain.' In his final expostulation with the
would-be tyrant, Verrina delivers himself of this sentence: 'Had I too
been such an honest dolt as not to recognize the rogue in you, Fiesco,
by all the horrors of eternity, I would twist a cord out of my own
intestines and throttle you with it, so that my fleeing soul should
bespatter you with yeasty foam-bubbles.'

No wonder that critics and actors alike were offended by such insanity
of rant and that Schiller himself soon saw the folly of it. He had got
the idea that when a man is figuratively 'beside himself', the most
effective way to portray his state of feeling is to make him talk and
act like a veritable madman. He had yet to learn the profound wisdom,
for poets as well as actors, of Hamlet's rule to "acquire and beget, in
the whirlwind of passion, a temperance that may give it smoothness."


[Footnote 42: Schiller refers to the quoted passage in his review of
'The Robbers', Schriften, II, 357. It has not been found in Rousseau's
writings. Sturz drew from unpublished sources.]

[Footnote 43: On the character of De Retz's work, and its relation to
the original of Mascardi, consult the Notes and Introduction by
Chantelauze in Vol. V of the 'Grands Ecrivains' edition of De Retz,
p. 473 ff.]

[Footnote 44: It was evident, that is, to Schiller. In the dedication of
'Fiesco' to Professor Abel he wrote; "Die wahre Katastrophe des
Komplotts, worin der Graf durch einen ungluecklichen Zufall am Ziel
seiner Wuensche zu Grunde geht, muszte durchaus veraendert werden, denn
die Natur des Dramas duldet den Finger des Ungefaehrs oder der
unmittelbaren Vorsehung nicht."]

[Footnote 45: H. H. Boyesen, in his biography of Schiller, Chapter III.]

[Footnote 46: "Schillers Dramen," Berlin, 1898, I, III ff. Bellermann,
who defends through thick and thin the unity and consistency of the
original 'Fiesco', thinks that it is from first to last a tragedy of
vaulting ambition,--not a political play at all, but a character
play,--and that no other idea ever entered Schiller's mind. But his
argument is anything but convincing and he carefully refrains from all
discussion of the tell-tale phrase, 'a republican tragedy'.]

[Footnote 47: This appears from a letter of Sept. 29, 1783, to Dalberg.]


The Fugitive in Hiding

Ich kann nicht Fuerstendiener sein.--_'Don Carlos'_.

When Schiller arrived at Mannheim, in the latter part of September,
1782, he was soon made aware that he had reckoned badly on the 'Greek
climate of the Palatinate'. The friends to whom he showed himself were
shocked at the audacity of his conduct; they could only advise him to
conciliate the Duke of Wuerttemberg and meanwhile to keep out of sight.
So he wrote another very humble letter to his sovereign, explaining the
desperate circumstances that had led to his flight and offering to
return on condition of being allowed to continue his authorship. This
letter he sent to his general, Auge, asking his mediation. In due time
Auge replied, advising him to return, as the duke was 'graciously
minded.' But this was not enough; Schiller knew his man too well and
had probably never expected that his appeal would have any other effect
than possibly to mollify the duke a little and thus avert trouble for
Captain Schiller.

The fugitive had fixed all his hopes on the production of 'Fiesco' at
the Mannheim theater. The manager, Meyer, was well disposed toward him,
and it was soon arranged that Schiller should read his new play to a
company of actors. The reading turned out a dismal failure. One by one
the distressed auditors withdrew, wondering if what they heard was
really the work of the same man who had written 'The Robbers'. The next
day Meyer looked over the manuscript by himself and saw that it was not
so bad after all; it had merely been murdered in the reading by its
author's bad voice and extravagant declamation. But the decision did not
rest with the friendly Meyer; it rested with Dalberg, who was just then
away from home. Meanwhile, as reports came from Stuttgart to the effect
that Schiller's disappearance had caused a great sensation and that
there was talk of pursuit, or of a possible demand for his extradition,
the two friends thought it best not to remain in Mannheim. Schiller did
not actually believe that the duke would pursue him, but there was no
telling; it was best to be on the safe side.

Accordingly 'Dr. Ritter' and 'Dr. Wolf' set out for Frankfurt. From
there Schiller addressed a pathetic letter to Dalberg, setting forth
that he was in great distress and asking for an advance of money
against the first performance of 'Fiesco'. But the cautious Dalberg,
who had just been in Stuttgart, replied coolly that 'Fiesco' was
unsuited to the stage and would need to be radically revised. So the
luckless author, having no other recourse, returned to the village of
Oggersheim, in the vicinity of Mannheim, and there, with the faithful
Streicher to keep him company, he spent the next few weeks, partly upon
the thankless revision of 'Fiesco' and partly upon 'Louise Miller',
which interested him more. Having done his best with 'Fiesco' he sent
it to Dalberg, who curtly refused it a second time. His theatrical
hopes thus completely baffled, Schiller turned over his play to the
bookseller Schwan, who gave him eleven louis d'ors for it and
immediately published it as a book for the reader.

In his extremity the exile now bethought him of the kind-hearted lady
who had offered him an asylum in case of need. Frau Henriette von
Wolzogen was a widow of humble means who had several sons in the
academy at Stuttgart. She had conceived a liking for Schiller, and
although there was some danger that her role of protectress might, if
discovered, offend the Duke of Wuerttemberg, she did not hesitate to
keep her word. The necessary arrangements were soon made, and late in
November Schiller bade farewell to Streicher and set out for Bauerbach,
a little village near Meiningen, to occupy the vacant cottage that had
been placed at his disposal. He still kept the name of 'Dr.
Ritter',--not so much from the fear of arrest, probably, as from a
natural desire to remain in obscurity until he had won a position which
would justify his flight in the eyes of the world, and more
particularly of his father. While at Oggersheim he had occasionally
sent out misleading letters, in which he spoke of journeys here and
there, of remarkable prosperity and of brilliant prospects in Leipzig,
Berlin and St. Petersburg. But his family knew of his whereabouts, and
before leaving the Palatinate he contrived a meeting with his mother
and his sister Christophine, who drove over to a half-way village to
see him. He arrived at Bauerbach on the 7th of December, and wrote thus
to Streicher on the following day: 'At last I am here, happy and
contented that I am actually ashore. I found everything in excess of my
wishes; needs no longer trouble me, and no annoyances from outside
shall disturb my poetic dreams and my idealistic illusions.'--And in
this quiet retreat, well supplied by the villagers with the necessaries
of physical existence, he did actually find for the next seven months
all that he needed. There were books, friendship, leisure,
peace,--until the peace was disturbed by a maiden's eyes.

The books came from a man named Reinwald, who was in charge of the ducal
library at Meiningen and to whom Schiller, foreseeing his own need, had
made haste to introduce himself. Reinwald was some twenty-two years
older than Schiller, a bit of a poet and a man of some literary
ambition; but he had not got on well in the world. It was fated that he
should marry Christophine Schiller, become peevish and sour in the
course of time and lose the respect of his brother-in-law. For the
present, however, he proved a very useful friend; for he not only
executed orders for books and tobacco (Schiller had learned to smoke and
take snuff), but he served as general intermediary between the
mysterious Dr. Ritter and the outside world. Schiller's nature craved
friendship, and his imagination easily endowed Reinwald with the
qualities of an ideal companion of the soul. After a while we find him
writing in such a strain as this:

Your visit the day before yesterday produced a glorious effect, I
feel my spirits renewed and a warmer life courses through all my
nerves. My situation in this solitude has drawn upon my soul the
fate of stagnant water, which becomes foul unless it Is stirred up a
little now and then. And I too hope to become necessary to your

As for Reinwald, he had long since passed the effusive age, but it
pleased him to receive the younger man's confidence. He wrote in his
diary: 'To-day Schiller opened his heart to me,--a youth who has already
been through the school of life,--and I found him worthy to be called my
friend. I do not believe that I have given my confidence to an unworthy
man. He has an extraordinary mind and I believe that Germany will some
day name his name with pride.'--Which was not bad guessing in its way.

Excepting Reinwald and the villagers Schiller saw at first but little of
his fellow-mortals. Both on his own account and for the sake of Frau von
Wolzogen he wished that the persons who saw him should not know who he
was. So he continued to scatter false reports with a liberal hand: he
had gone to Hannover, was going to London, to America, and so forth. In
the mean time, with no thought of leaving his nest at Bauerbach, he
devoted himself to his work. For the first time in his life he was the
master of his own movements; he had a chance to collect himself, to
browse among his books, to meditate and to dream. And as for mankind in
general, he felt that he had no cause to love it. 'With the warmest
feeling ', so he wrote after a time, when the first bitterness had
passed away, 'I had embraced half the world and found at last that I had
in my arms a cold lump of ice.'[49] Withal the demands of work were
imperious. He had risked everything upon his chances of literary success
and it was necessary to win. He had broken for good and all with the
Duke of Wuerttemberg and there was nothing to be hoped for in that
quarter. At the same time,--and the fact is characteristic of his
large-mindedness,--he resolved not to air his personal grievance. To
Frau von Wolzogen, who had been admonishing him never to forget his debt
to the Stuttgart Academy, he wrote: 'However it may be with regard to
that, you have my word that I will never belittle the Duke of

Toward the end of December the wintry dullness of his Bauerbach cottage
was brightened by the arrival of its owner and her daughter. Lotte von
Wolzogen was a blond school-girl who had not yet passed her seventeenth
birthday. The records do not credit her with exceptional beauty, but she
was sufficiently good-looking and her demure girlish innocence appeared
to Schiller very lovable. Not that his plight was at all desperate; he
hardly knew his own mind and was in no position to make love to any
maiden, least of all to one with that menacing _von_ in her name. Still
he liked Fraeulein Lotte very much, and the tenderness which now began to
manifest itself in his letters to the mother must be credited in part to
the daughter. Were this not so we could hardly account for such
expressions as these, which are contained in a letter written after the
ladies had left Bauerbach for a short sojourn in the neighboring
Waldorf: 'Since your absence I am stolen from myself. To feel a great
and lively rapture is like looking at the sun; it is still before you
long after you have turned away your face, and the eye is blinded to all
weaker rays. But I shall take great care not to extinguish this
agreeable illusion.' And again after they had left the Meiningen region
for Stuttgart, with a promise to return in May: 'Dearest friend--a week
behind me without you. So there is one of the fourteen got rid of. I
could wish that time would put on its utmost speed until May, so as to
move thereafter so much the more slowly.'

Such flutterings of the heart were not altogether favorable to that
austere program of literary industry which the ambitious young
dramatist had set for himself. When a man is in love other things seem
more or less negligible, and it takes resolution to steer a firm
course. Schiller was resolute--by spells. In the first list of books
ordered from Meiningen we find noted, along with works of Shakspere,
Robertson, Hume and Lessing, 'that part of the Abbe St. Real's works
which contains the history of Don Carlos of Spain.' From this we see
that a second historical drama was already under way. At first,
however, it was not 'Don Carlos' that claimed the most attention, but
'Louise Miller ', which had made considerable progress in Oggersheim.
By January 14, 1785, Schiller was able to pronounce the new play
finished, though his letters show that the revision occupied him some
time longer. Meanwhile we hear of other dramatic projects,--a 'Maria
Stuart' and a 'Friedrich Imhof', whatever this last may have been.
Nothing is known of it save that it was to deal with Jesuitical
intrigue, the Inquisition, religious fanaticism, the history of the
Bastille, and the passion for gambling.[50] By the end of March he had
decided, after long vacillation between these two themes, to drop both
of them and proceed with 'Don Carlos'.

He began in prose, identifying himself completely with his hero and
writing with joyous enthusiasm. A letter of April 14 to Reinwald deals
at length with love and friendship and their relation to poetic
creation. All love, we read, is at bottom love of ourselves. We see in
the beloved person the sundered elements of our own being, and the soul
yearns to perfect itself in the process of reunion. Thus love and
friendship are of the nature of poetic imagination,--the waking into
life of a pleasing illusion. Wherefore the poet must love his
characters. He must not be the painter of his hero, but rather his
hero's sweetheart or bosom friend. Then he makes the application to Don
Carlos in these words:

I must confess to you that in a sense he takes the place of my
sweetheart, I carry him in my heart,--_ich schwaerme mit ihm durch
die Gegend um_.... He shall have the soul of Shakspere's Hamlet,
the blood and nerves of Leisewitz's Julius, and his pulse from me.
Besides that I shall make it my duty in this play, in my picture
of the Inquisition, to avenge outraged mankind ... and pierce to
the heart a sort of men whom the dagger of tragedy has hitherto
only grazed.

But the 'bosom friend' of Don Carlos soon had his thoughts pulled in
other directions. In the first place there came, very unexpectedly, a
sugary letter from Dalberg. What led him to make fresh overtures to the
man whom, a few months before, he had treated so shabbily, is not
difficult to make out. He had become convinced that there was after all
nothing to be feared from the Duke of Wuerttemberg. Moreover, since the
peremptory rejection of 'Fiesco' the Mannheim theater had been doing a
very poor business. What more natural than that the shrewd intendant,
with an eye to better houses, should bethink him of the pen that had
written 'The Robbers'? From Schwan and from Streicher, who had remained
in Mannheim, he knew of Schiller's address and occupation. So he wrote
him a gracious letter, inquiring after his welfare and expressing
particular interest in the new play. It was now Schiller's turn to be
foxy. He replied that he was very well, and that as for the play,
'Louise Miller', it was a tragedy with a copious admixture of satirical
and comic elements that would probably render it quite unfit for the
stage. Dalberg replied that the specified defects were merits,--he would
like to see the manuscript. The upshot of the correspondence was that
Schiller, who had been negotiating with a Leipzig publisher but had been
unable to make an acceptable bargain for the publication of 'Louise
Miller', now determined to revise it for the stage and meet the views of
Dalberg if possible. So about the middle of April he laid aside 'Don
Carlos' and, for the third time in his life, devoted himself to the
irksome task of converting a literary drama into a stage-play. On the
3rd of May he wrote to Reinwald:

My L.M. drives me out of bed at five o'clock in the morning. Here I
sit now, sharpening pens and chewing thoughts. It is certain and
true that compulsion clips the wings of the spirit. To write with
such solicitude for the theater, so hastily because I am pressed for
time, and yet without fault, is an art. But I feel that my 'Louise'
is a gainer.... My Lady [Lady Milford in the play] interests me
almost as much as my Dulcinea in Stuttgart [Lotte von Wolzogen].

Ere the revision of the new tragedy was finished Dulcinea herself
arrived in Bauerbach; an event to which Schiller had looked forward with
joyous palpitations and anxious forebodings. For back in March Frau von
Wolzogen had written him that she and her daughter would be accompanied
on their northward journey by a certain Herr Winkelmann, a friend of the
family. Schiller at once divined the approach of a rival and wrote in
great agitation that he would go to Berlin if Winkelmann came. In
justification of his threat he made the diaphanous plea that his
incognito was of the utmost importance to him, and that the inquisitive
Winkelmann (whom he had known at the academy) would be sure to blab. To
this Frau von Wolzogen sent some sort of soothing reply, hinting at the
same time that she, the mother, would not interfere with her daughter's
choice. So Schiller resolved to stand his ground. The ladies arrived in
the latter part of May and soon thereafter he was given to understand
that Lotte's affections were fixed upon the other man. There was nothing
for him now but the role of lofty resignation. To his former schoolmate,
Wilhelm von Wolzogen, he wrote as follows:

You have commended to me your Lotte, whom I know completely, I thank
you for the great proof of your love.... Believe me, my best of
friends, I envy you this amiable sister. Still just as if from the
hands of the Creator, innocent, the fairest, tenderest, most
sensitive soul, and not yet a breath of the general corruption on
the bright mirror of her nature,--thus I know your Lotte, and woe to
him who brings a cloud over this innocent soul!... Your mother has
made me a confidant in a matter that may decide the fate of your
Lotte and has told me how you feel upon the subject. [It appears
that Wilhelm disliked the young man,] I know Herr W--n and ...
believe me, he is not unworthy of your sister.... I really esteem
him, though I cannot at present be called his friend. He loves your
Lotte and I know he loves her like a noble man, and your Lotte loves
him like a girl that loves for the first time.

But the foolish dreams were not so easily to be given their quietus,
especially when he discovered that Lotte was only half in love with
Winkelmann after all. Then there seemed hope for him and he surrendered
himself freely to the intoxication of his little summer romance. What
were the world and a poet's fame in comparison with happiness? Still he
did not declare himself. He often called Frau von Wolzogen 'mother', and
averred in letters that no son could love her better. Probably a word
from her might have led to an engagement. But the word was not spoken.
She was a sensible lady, who knew how to look into the future and to
guard the welfare both of her daughter and of her protege. She saw that
if he was to make his way in the world as a dramatist he must return to
the world; a prolongation of the Bauerbach idyl could lead to nothing
but disappointment and unhappiness. Besides, his incognito had now
become only a conventional fiction; everybody knew who he was.

One day, accordingly, as they were walking together, she suggested that
he pay a visit to Mannheim and see what could be done with Dalberg. He
resolved to follow her advice. Late in July he set out, promising
himself and her a speedy return. But it was not so to be. Becoming
absorbed in the business of a new career he continued, indeed, to think
of her affectionately and to write to her, but at ever-increasing
intervals; and after a few months Bauerbach and the Wolzogens were only
a delightful memory. It is true that after the lapse of nearly a year he
one day took it into his head to suggest to the mother that she take him
for a son-in-law. But the wooing went no further. After all he had not
really been in love with Lotte in particular so much as with an ideal of
domestic bliss.

Shortly before his departure from Bauerbach there had been some talk of
his accompanying Reinwald on a contemplated journey to Weimar, where he
might make the acquaintance of Karl August, Goethe and Wieland. In his
excellent little book upon Schiller, Streicher expresses regret that his
friend had not acted upon this suggestion instead of following the
'siren voice' that led to the Palatinate. But it is difficult to
sympathize with this regret. He was not yet ripe for the role that fate
held in store for him in Thueringen. His education was to proceed yet a
while longer by the process of flaying. He was to suffer and grow
strong; to battle further with the goblins of despair; to tread the
quicksands of adversity and fight his way through to a firm footing
among the sons of men. Who shall say that it was not better so?

The long-cherished hopes of a connection with the Mannheim theater were
destined this time to be fulfilled. In the course of a few weeks
Schiller entered into a contract which assured him, for a year at least,
a respectable status in society and opened a new chapter in his life.
Before we take up that chapter, however, it will be proper to consider
the new play which he had brought with him as a passport to Dalberg's
favor. Thus far he had called it by the name of its heroine, but when it
was put upon the stage it was rechristened, at the suggestion of the
actor Iffland, and has ever since been known as 'Cabal and Love'. The
revision which he had undertaken, after the reopening of correspondence
with Dalberg, was even now not quite finished; so that the final touches
had to be given at Mannheim. It is probable that the political satire,
which was based in part upon veritable history and contained transparent
allusions to well-known personages, was more or less toned down in
deference to the wishes of Dalberg. Minor changes were also made at the
behest of the actors. But while it was not played and not printed until
the spring of 1784, it belongs in its substance and its spirit, not to
the Mannheim period of Schiller's life, but to the period which he had
spent in hiding. It is a freeman's comment upon high life as he had
known it. Scrupulously enough Schiller kept the letter of his promise
not to use his pen in belittling the Duke of Wuerttemberg. But the
_Wirtschaft_ in Stuttgart was fair game, and there were other ways of
masking a dramatic battery than to lay the scene in Italy. In 'Cabal and
Love' the reigning prince does not appear upon the stage.


[Footnote 48: Letter of March, 1783; in "Schillers Briefe", edited by
Jonas, Vol. I, page 101.]

[Footnote 49: Letter of Jan. 4, 1783, to Frau von Wolzogen. ]

[Footnote 50: Undated letter of March, 1783; "Schillers Briefe", I,


Cabal and Love

Ich bin ein Edelmann--Lasz doch sehen, ob mein Adelbrief aelter ist
als der Risz zum unendlichen Weltall; oder mein Wappen gueltiger ist
als die Handschrift des Himmels in Louisens Augen: Dieses Weib ist
fuer diesen Mann.--'_Cabal and Love_'.

In 'Cabal and Love' Schiller found again, as he had previously found in
'The Robbers', a thoroughly congenial theme. More properly the theme
found him, took possession of him and would not let him go, until the
inner tumult had subsided and German literature had been enriched with
its most telling tragedy of the social conflict. 'Fiesco' had proved a
disappointment; he had not been able to bring himself into perfect
sympathy with the subject, and at the best his Italian conspiracy was a
far-away matter. Now he set foot again upon his native heath and all
went better. In spite of certain defects which led him to speak of it
later as rather badly designed, 'Cabal and Love' must be pronounced the
most artistic and the most interesting of his early plays.

It is the tragedy of two lovers, an honorable aristocrat and a girl of
humble birth, who are done to death through a vile intrigue which is
dictated by the exigencies of an infamous political regime. By means of
a compromising letter, which is not forged but extorted under duress,
the lover is made to suspect his sweetheart's fidelity; and she, though
innocent, is prevented by scruples of conscience from undeceiving him.
In a jealous fury he gives her poison and then partakes of it himself.
The mischief is wrought not so much by the wickedness of the great,
albeit that comes in for a share of the responsibility, as by the
obstinate class prejudice, amounting to a tragic superstition, of the
heroine and her father. Many of the details were taken over by Schiller
from his predecessors; but he so improved upon them, so vitalized the
familiar conflicts and situations, and threw into his work such a power
of genuine pathos, caught from the pathos of real life, that 'Cabal and
Love' still stands out as a notable document of the revolutionary epoch.
The epoch produced many bourgeois tragedies, but Schiller's is much the
best of them all. Before we look at it more closely it will be worth
while to glance at the history of the type in Germany.

The tragedy of middle-class life first took root, as is well known, in
England. It was in 1732 that Lillo brought upon the Drury Lane stage his
acted tale of George Barnwell, the London 'prentice who is beguiled by a
harlot, robs his master, kills his uncle and ends his career on the
gallows, to the great grief of the doting Maria, his master's daughter.
The prologue tells how the experiment was expected to strike the public
of that day:

The Tragic Muse sublime delights to show
Princes distrest and scenes of royal woe;
In awful pomp majestic to relate
The fall of nations or some hero's fate;
That scepter'd chiefs may by example know
The strange vicissitudes of things below....
Upon our stage indeed, with wished success,
You've sometimes seen her in a humbler dress,
Great only in distress. When she complains,
In Southern's, Rowe's, or Otway's moving strains,
The brilliant drops that fall from each bright eye
The absent pomp with brighter gems supply,
Forgive us then if we attempt to show
In artless strains a tale of private woe.

So it appears that 'Barnwell' was something new, yet not entirely new.
The stately tragedy of solemn edification, at which no one was expected
to weep, had already yielded a part of its sovereignty to the tragedy of
distress. It occurred to Lillo that tears could be drawn for the woes of
the middle class, which had been looked upon as suitable only for
comedy. The event proved that he had reckoned well: the "brilliant
drops" fell copiously, the innovation crossed the Channel, and soon the
bourgeois tragedy,--whence by an easy differentiation the lacrimose,
pathetic, or serious comedy,--had entered upon its European career.

The first German example was 'Miss Sara Sampson', written in 1755,
wherein the daughter of a fond English squire is lured away from her
home, like Clarissa Harlowe, by the profligate Mellefont, who promises
to marry her. The pair take lodgings at a low London inn, where
Mellefont finds pretexts for delaying the marriage ceremony. Presently
his former mistress, Marwood, appears--a proud and passionate woman of
sin. She claims him as the mother of his child, but having now found out
what true love is he spurns her. Bitter interviews follow, with,
spiteful recriminations and awful threats. Marwood tells her story to
Sara and finally ends the tension by poisoning her, whereupon Mellefont
commits suicide. In writing this play Lessing was in no way concerned
with any social question. He constituted himself the champion of the
bourgeoisie before the tribunal of Melpomene, but not before the
conscience of mankind. The woes of hero and heroine are in no way
related to class prejudice or to the great democratic upheaval of the
century. Lessing's atmosphere is the moral and sentimental atmosphere of
Richardson, though his literary power is incomparably greater.

'Miss Sara Sampson' did not long hold the stage, but its influence is
discernible in subsequent developments. The 'man between two women'
became a regular feature of the new domestic tragedy. In play after play
we find a soulful, clinging, romantic creature--usually the
title-heroine--set over against a full-blooded rival whose ways are ways
of wantonness. Lessing himself repeated the group in 'Emilia Galotti',
which in its turn became the mother of a new brood. The tragedy of
lawless passion led by an easy step to the tragedy of social conflict,
which portrayed the depravity of princes and nobles in their relation to
the common people, or called upon mankind to weep for the woes of lovers
separated by the barriers of rank. In Germany the species was very
timely. Nowhere else in Europe had the nobility so little to be proud
of, and nowhere else was the pride of birth so stupidly intolerant. That
fruitful theme of earlier and later poets, the love of nobleman for maid
of low degree, had been lost in the age of gallantry, save in lubricious
tales of intrigue and seduction. The appalling dissoluteness which
characterized the French court during the first half of the eighteenth
century, and was duly copied by the princelings of Germany, had poisoned
the minds of high and low alike and led to a state of affairs in which
there was little room for a noble or even a serious conception of love.
Love was understood to be concupiscence. If an aristocrat stooped to a
bourgeois girl, it was his affair and at the worst only an aberration of
taste; her fate was of no importance.

When the inevitable reaction set in, it took the form of a debauch of
sentimentalism. The poetry of real passion came back into literature and
people wept for joy to find that they had hearts. Love was no longer a
frivolous game played for the gratification of lust, but a divine
rapture of fathomless and ineffable import. It was now the era of the
beautiful soul, of tender sentiment, of virtuous transports and of
endless talk about all these things. Love being natural,--a part of that
nature to which the world was now resolved to return,--it was sacred,
and superior to all human conventions. It belonged to the sphere of the
rights of man. Its enemy was everywhere the corrupt heart and the
worldly, calculating mind. Fortunately the new ecstasy associated itself
with a strong enthusiasm for the simplification of life; for the poetry
of nature and of rustic employments; for the sweetness of domestic
affection. In Germany public sentiment had already been prepared for a
certain idealization of the bourgeoisie. Enlightened rulers and
publicists, here and there, were coming to feel that a virtuous yeomanry
was the sure foundation of a state's welfare. Countless idyls and
pastorals and moralizing romances had thrown a nimbus of poetry about
the simple virtues and humble employments of the poor, and taught people
to contrast these things with the corruption and artificiality of courts
and cities. It was, however, the passionate eloquence of Rousseau which
first gave to this contrast a revolutionary significance, and it was
Rousseau who first stirred the reading world with a woeful tale of
lovers separated by the prejudices of caste.

In 'The New Heloise' it is the lady who is the aristocrat. Julie
d'Etange, the daughter of a baron, wishes to marry the untitled St.
Preux, to whom in a transport of passion she has yielded up her honor.
But the Baron d'Etange is an implacable stickler for rank and she is a
dutiful daughter; whence her marriage to the elderly infidel, Wolmar,
and the well-known moral ending of the novel. The thought that concerns
us here is best expressed by the enlightened English peer, Lord B., who
thus expostulates with Baron d'Etange:

Let us judge of the past by the present; for two or three citizens
who win distinction by honest means, a thousand knaves every day get
their families ennobled. But to what end serves that nobility of
which their descendants are so proud, unless it be to prove the
robberies and infamy of their ancestor? There are, I confess, a
great number of bad men among the common people; but the odds are
always twenty to one against a gentleman that he is descended from a
scoundrel.... In what consists then the honor of that nobility of
which you are so proud? How does it affect the glory of one's
country or the good of mankind? A mortal enemy to liberty and the
laws, what did it ever produce, in the most of those countries where
it has flourished, but the power of tyranny and the oppression of
the people? Will you presume to boast, in a republic, of a rank that
Is destructive to virtue and humanity? Of a rank that makes its
boast of slavery and wherein men blush to be men?[51]

This is of course the language of passion and prejudice (it would not
else be Rousseau), but there was enough of truth in it, as in the case
of Rousseau's other fervors, to rouse the revolutionary spirit. German
literature began to teem with novels and plays which exhibit the
sufferings of some untitled hero or heroine at the hands of a vicious
aristocracy. The theme is touched upon in 'Werther', but without
becoming an Important issue. It appears in Wagner's 'Infanticide',
wherein a butcher's daughter, Evchen Humbrecht, is violated by a titled
officer, runs away from home in her shame, kills her child and is
finally found by the repentant author of her disgrace. We meet it again
in Lenz's 'Private Tutor', the tragedy of a German St. Preux who falls
in love with his titled pupil and dishonors her, with the result that
she too runs away from home and tries to commit suicide, while her lover
in his chagrin emasculates himself. These are grotesque tragedies, not
devoid of literary power, but devoid of high sentiment and saturated
with a woeful vulgarity. We cannot wonder that the high-minded Schiller
should have condemned Wagner's malodorous play as a mediocre
performance. His incentive came rather from Gemmingen's 'Head of the
House', which in turn carries us back to Diderot.

In the hands of Diderot, democrat, moralist and apostle of the _genre
honnete_, it was natural that the drama of class conflict should end
happily. In his 'Father of the Family', written in 1758 and first played
in 1761, the contrast of high and low is vividly portrayed, but without
bitterness. The aristocratic St. Albin d'Orbisson falls in love with a
poor girl from the country who lives in an attic and earns her own
living. Sophie's beauty and virtue make a man of him and he wishes to
marry her, but is opposed by his kind-hearted, querulous father, who
argues the case with him at great length, confronting passion with
prudential common-sense. St. Albin is also opposed by his rich uncle,
the Commandeur, from whom he has prospects. The uncle plots to get
Sophie away by having her arrested, but is baffled by a
counter-intrigue. Stormy scenes follow the revelation, and in the end it
appears that Sophie is not a plebeian maiden at all, but the niece of
the purse-proud Commandeur, who has neglected his poor relations. With
the literary and dramatic qualities of this play, its absence of humor
and of sparkling dialogue, its tedious moralizing, its hollow pathos and
its general relation to Diderot's dramatic theory, we are not here
directly concerned. What is important to observe is that, as a
contribution to the burning social question, its point is blunted by the
fact that its heroine is not what she seems to be. The whole matter
reduces to a brief misunderstanding in an aristocratic family. Villainy
is thwarted, true love comes into its own, and the foundations of
society remain as they were.

Diderot's 'Father of the Family' enjoyed a short vogue in France and
Italy and met with considerable favor in Germany. Most noteworthy among
minor German plays that were influenced by it is Gemmingen's 'Head of
the House'. Gemmingen was himself an aristocrat, a baron by title, who
was born in 1755. After studying law he settled in Mannheim, where he
became deeply interested in the drama, so that in 1778 he was given the
position of dramatist to the newly established 'national theater'. Two
years later he brought out his 'Head of the House' with great success.
The piece is a pendant of Diderot's, but by no means a slavish

Gemmingen's 'head of the house' is an upright German nobleman of the
admirable sort, who returns home after a long absence to find the
affairs of his family very much deranged. His eldest son, Karl, has
fallen madly in love with Lotte Wehrmann, the daughter of an impecunious
artist, gotten her with child, and promised to marry her when his father
shall have returned and given his consent. The younger son, Ferdinand,
an officer, has taken to gaming, lost heavily and has a duel on his
hands. His son-in-law, Monheim, has become infatuated with a dazzling
widow, Countess Amaldi, grown cold toward his wife Sophie, and the
quarreling pair are eager for a divorce. The tangle is further
complicated by the fact that Amaldi, an excellent match, is in love with
Karl. The perplexed father sets at work with the tools of common sense
and rational argument. He urges Karl to break with Lotte for his
career's sake. The irresolute and dutiful Karl consents, saying nothing
of Lotte's approaching motherhood, and the rumor of his intended
marriage to the countess is spread abroad. When Lotte hears it she
rushes to Amaldi and wildly demands her lover in the name of her unborn
child. When the father hears the whole story he no longer thinks of rank
but of honor. He bids Karl marry his true love and retire to the
country, where, as overseer of a large estate, he will be less
encumbered by a plebeian wife than in the career which had been planned
for him. The magnanimous Amaldi furnishes the bride's dowry, the other
domestic complications are easily adjusted and all ends happily.

Dramatically Gemmingen's play is rather tame, though its literary merit
is considerable. He had a fair measure of constructive skill, but very
little of poetic impulse or of dramatic verve. His best scenes interest
us more for their good sense than for any more stirring qualities. His
nearest approach to a strong character is the paterfamilias himself, who
is certainly much less "woolly and mawkish"[52] than his pendant in
Diderot. Next one may place the artist Wehrmann. Karl is a poor stick,
Amaldi is rather colorless, and Lotte would be quite insipid but for her
impending motherhood, on which everything is made to turn. Such as it
was, however, the play excited the cordial admiration of Schiller, who
read it soon after its appearance. Very likely it may have suggested to
him the thought of trying his own hand upon a drama in the bourgeois
sphere, but it was not until July, 1782,--just after he had finished
reading Wagner's 'Infanticide',--that the plan of 'Louise Miller' began
to take shape in his mind. Gemmingen's poor artist, Wehrmann, became the
poor fiddler, Miller, and the daughter Lotte was rechristened Louise.
The aristocratic lover, Gemmingen's Karl, was named Ferdinand von
Walter, and Amaldi was converted into Lady Milford. One of Gemmingen's
subordinate characters, the foppish nobleman, Dromer, who goes about
making compliments to everybody, reappears in Schiller's play as the
perfumed tale-bearer and exquisite ladies' man, Chamberlain von Kalb.
The places represented are three in number and the same in both plays.
Here, however, the parallel ends. Instead of Gemmingen's high-minded
paterfamilias we have the rascally President von Walter, who, with his
tool Wurm, reminds one of Lessing's Prince and Marinelli. And what is
much more important, the relation of the lovers is so portrayed that we
get the pure poetry of passion, such as it is, without any tinge of

In its earliest phase Schiller's plan looked toward a telling
tragi-comedy for the stage, with a plenty of rough humor and caustic
satire at the expense of 'high-born fools and scoundrels'. As he worked,
the possibilities of his theme developed. An abstract enthusiasm for the
rights of man was kindled by honest love of the common people, and by
the lingering smart of a personal wrong, into a holy zeal of vengeance.
President Walter was painted in colors which were taken largely from the
political history and the _chronique scandaleuse_ of the Wuerttemberg
court. As this court had its angel of light in soiled garments, Lady
Milford was fitted out with the benevolent qualities of Franziska von
Hohenheim; and as the portrait grew In firmness its author fell in love
with it, like the young Goethe with his Adelheid. When he came to depict
the jealousy of Ferdinand, he had the advantage of a personal
acquaintance with the green-eyed monster. Thus the play was extracted
from the book of life, as Schiller had been able to read it, and that
accounts for its vitality. But in his details he is nowhere less
original. Not only in the general conception of important characters,
but in particular scenes, situations, motives, contrasts and forms of
expression, we can see the influence of the literary tradition which he

To show the exact nature and the full extent of this indebtedness would
be a tedious undertaking, which would require pages of quotation from
works whose chief interest now is that they served as quarry for
Schiller. Three or four illustrations will suffice. Our play begins with
a scene which at once recalls what was originally the opening scene of
Wagner's 'Infanticide'. In both there is a blustering father,--Lessing's
Odoardo reduced to the bourgeois sphere,--discoursing with his silly
wife upon the dangers that threaten their daughter from keeping
aristocratic company. In both the domestic thunderer expresses himself
in rough, strong language, and is only made the more furious by his
wife's efforts to allay his fears. In Wagner's next scene Magister
Humbrecht comes to woo Evchen, just as Schiller's Wurm comes to woo
Louise, and we hear that the girl's head has been turned by reading
novels. Just so Louise, whose father can scarcely find words to express
his detestation of the young baron's infernal, belletristic poison. When
Wurm arrives at Miller's and asks for Louise, he is informed that she
has just gone to church. 'Glad of that, glad of that', he replies, 'I
shall have in her a pious Christian wife'. Here is a reminiscence of the
scene in which Lessing's Count Appiani exclaims, on hearing that Emilia
has just been at church: 'That is right; I shall have in you a pious
wife'. The devout heroine was a hardly less hackneyed figure in the
dramatic literature of the time than the blustering father of whom
Goethe complained.[53] In Schiller's Louise we have the religious
sentiment sublimated into something quite too seraphic for human
nature's daily food. Her high-keyed sense of duty to God, her natural
filial piety and her superstitious reverence for the social order,
combine to produce in her a curious distraction which is the real source
of the tragic conflict. She feels that her love is holy but that
marriage would be sinful; and so she hesitates, responds to her lover's
ardor with tremblings and solicitudes, knows not what to do, does the
foolish thing and atones tragically for her weakness.

Not before Schiller's time had this conflict between love and filial
duty been so powerfully depicted, but it is found in Wagner's 'Remorse
after the Deed' (1775), wherein a coachman's daughter, Friederike Walz,
is loved by the aristocratic Langen, who is opposed by his mother.
Langen goes to his sweetheart, all courage and resolution. He is
prepared, like Leisewitz's Julius, to defy his kin, renounce the lures
of his rank and flee to the ends of the earth with 'Rikchen'. To which
she replies: 'Langen, you are terrible. To marry with the curse of
parents is to make one's whole posterity miserable'. So Louise replies
to Ferdinand's similar entreaty: 'And be followed by your father's
curse! A curse, thoughtless man, which even murderers never utter in
vain, and which like a ghost would pursue us fugitives mercilessly from
sea to sea.'

In the sentimental novel 'Siegwart', the heroine, Therese, loves a young
squire, not for his blue blood, but for the nobility of his heart. Like
Louise she renounces her love for this life, and bids him farewell. In
writing to him she describes a scene between her father and his:

Your father came dashing into our yard with two huntsmen. 'Are you
the ----?' he called up to me. 'Is that Siegwart? He's a scoundrel,
if he knows it. He wants to seduce my son. And this, I suppose, is
the nice creature (here he turned to me again) who has made a fool
of him. A nice little animal, by my soul!'... My father, who can
show heat when he is provoked, told him to stop calling such names;
that he was a decent man and I a decent girl.

Here we seem to have the suggestion of the stirring scene in which the
irate old fiddler threatens to throw President von Walter out of doors
for insulting Louise.

It would be very easy to give further examples of Schiller's talent for
taking what suited his purpose, but such philology is not very
profitable. After all, what one wishes to know is not where the
architect got his materials, but what he made of them. And what he made
was a play abounding in admirable scenes, but ending in a rather
unsatisfactory manner. With even less violence to the inner logic of the
piece than was necessary in the case of 'Fiesco', 'Cabal and Love' might
have been given a happy ending. The whole tragedy hangs by a thread in
the fifth act. Lady Milford has fled and is no longer a factor in the
entanglement. The wicked president has relented and is ready to yield.
Old Miller, released from prison, returns to his house and finds Louise
brooding over her purpose of suicide. He preaches to her upon the sin of
self-destruction and pleads with her to give up her aristocratic lover.
She promises. Then Ferdinand comes and demands an explanation of the
fatal letter. A word from her at this point, a momentary _acces_ or
simple common sense, would undeceive him and end the whole difficulty.
Of course she must not break her oath; and one cannot blame her sweet
simplicity for not taking refuge in the maxim that an oath given under
duress is not binding. But her oath merely pledges her to acknowledge
the letter as her voluntary act. There is no reason why she should not
solemnly assure Ferdinand of her innocence, tell him that they are the
victims of a plot and send him to his father for an explanation. Nothing
prevents her from speaking in time the words that she actually does
speak after she has taken the poison, but before she knows that she has
taken it: 'A horrible fatality has confused the language of our hearts.
If I might open my mouth, Walter, I could tell you things', etc.

If, out of filial piety, Louise is minded to give up her lover, there is
at any rate no reason why she should wish him to despise her forever.
Every natural girlish instinct requires her to clear herself. That she
does not do this, but persists in a course which of all courses is the
most unnatural,--seeing that she now has nothing to fear from any
source,--produces a painful suspense which is anything but tragic. No
skill of the actress can altogether save her from a certain appearance
of fatuous weak-mindedness, or forestall the cynical conclusion that she
dies chiefly in order that it may be fulfilled which was said unto
himself by the author, namely: I will write a tragedy.

And yet such a conclusion would not be perfectly just to Schiller. It is
true that he was all for tragedy and that a happy moral ending, in the
vein of Diderot, would not have been to his taste. But this does not
tell the whole story. The romantic lovers are sacrificed in order that
the guilty president and his vile accomplices may be brought to book and
punished for their sins. The heart of the matter for Schiller was to
free his mind with respect to the infamies of high life. It was this
that tipped his pen with fire.

Of course there are German critics who find Louise's conduct in this
last scene quite 'inevitable' and full of a high tragic pathos. Thus
Palleske says of her:

Her anxious piety, her touching and indeed so intelligible devotion
to her father, her lack of freedom, bring on her fate. A veil of
mourning rests upon all she says. Heroic liberty of action, such as
befits a Juliet, is made impossible to this girl by her birth in the
bourgeoisie; she has only the liberty to perish, not the courage to
be happy. Of guilt there can be no question in this case: her
anxiety, her filial devotion, are her whole guilt; her virtue, her
love for her father, become her ruin. Whoever thoroughly knows the
bourgeoisie, which had yet to recover from these wounds,[54] will
admit that this character is drawn with terrible truthfulness.

This, however, is putting too fine a point upon it; it implies, when
closely analyzed, that Schiller deliberately made his heroine a little
stupid,--a view of her that hardly comports with the rest of the play.
To say that she _must_ die because she belongs to the bourgeoisie is
mere moonshine, for common sense can readily find a number of escapes.
She may cleave to her father and send her lover packing, after proper
explanations; or she may cleave to her lover in the face of her
father's displeasure; or she may temporize in the hope of changing her
father's mind. What she actually does is to goad her lover into a
frenzy by her singular conduct and then come to her senses when it is
too late. The effect is to cast doubt upon the intensity of her
supposed passion for Ferdinand. One gets the impression that her
previous sentimental ecstasies were not perfectly genuine; that she
does not really know what it is to be in love, or how to speak the
veritable language of the heart.

The truth seems to be that when Schiller wrote 'Cabal and Love', he had
not progressed far enough in the knowledge of femininity to be able to
draw a perfectly life-like portrait of a girl in Louise's station. She
is a creature of the same order as Amalia and Leonora,--a sentimental
_Schwaermerin_, very much lacking in character and mother-wit. From the
first the expression of her love does not ring perfectly true. We
suspect her of phrase-making,--she is quite too ethereal and ecstatic
for a plain fiddler's daughter. No trace here of that homely poetic
realism,--Gretchen at the wash-tub, or Lotte cutting bread and
butter,--with which Goethe knew how to invest _his_ bourgeois maidens.
For aught we can learn from her discourse Schiller's Louise might be a
princess, brought up on a diet of Klopstock's odes. That a girl,
returning from church, should inquire of her parents if her lover has
called, is quite in order. That she should then confess that thoughts of
him have come between her and her Creator, is pardonable. But what are
we to think when she goes on to say to her own parents:

This little life of mine, oh that I might breathe it out into a soft
caressing zephyr to cool his face! This little flower of youth, were
it but a violet, that he might step on it, and it might die modestly
beneath his feet! That would be enough for me, my father.... Not
that I want him now. I renounce him for this life. But then, mother,
then, when the barriers of rank are laid low; when all the hateful
wrappings of earthly station fall away from us, and men are only
men,--I shall bring nothing with me save my innocence; but, you
know, father has so often said that pomp and splendid titles will be
cheap when God comes, and that hearts will rise in price. Then I
shall be rich. Then tears will be counted for triumphs, and
beautiful thoughts instead of ancestry. I shall be aristocratic
then, mother. What advantage will he have then over his sweetheart?

What can one think, indeed, except that this supernal maiden has been
reading Klopstock's famous 'Ode to Fanny'?[55]

Louise's passion, then, is no dangerous earthly flame, but a sentimental
dream, a private revel in ecstatic emotion. We opine that she does not
really need her lover, as a mortal entity, at all, and are prepared to
find her fearsome and irresolute in his presence. 'They are going to
separate us,' she exclaims, as if she herself had no voice in the
matter, when really her own timidity is the great obstacle. She is no
Gretchen, or Claerchen, ready to give all for love's sake and Jump the
consequences; still less is she a bourgeois Juliet, prepared to brave a
family tempest provided only that her Romeo's bent be honorable, his
purpose marriage. Those externalities of rank which she expects to drop
out of sight in heaven loom up very large in her earthly field of
vision. She fears her father's displeasure. She pretends to fear the
ruin of her Ferdinand's career, albeit he assures her solemnly that she
is of more importance to him than all else in the world. She is of the
opinion that her marriage to a man with a _von_ in his name and
prospects in life would be 'the violation of a sanctuary'; would
'unjoint the social world and demolish the eternal, universal order'.
Wherefore she is minded to renounce him. 'Let the vain, deluded
girl'--so she sighs--'weep away her grief within lonely walls; no one
will trouble himself about her tears,--empty and dead is my future,--but
I shall still now and then take a smell at the withered nosegay of the
past'--No wonder that before she reaches this awful climax, Ferdinand
smashes the fiddle and bursts into laughter.

On the stage, the scene in which the agonized Louise is compelled to
write the compromising letter is one of the most effective in the piece;
and yet how futile and absurd the whole intrigue would be if the
conspirators were not able to count upon her being a goose! One cannot
blame her, of course, for doing that which appears to be necessary in
order to save her father's life. One may pardon to her distress the
solemn oath that she will acknowledge the letter as her voluntary act.
But if she were really in love with Ferdinand as she has pretended to
be, how easy it would be for her, without violating her oath, to put him
on his guard against the trap that has been laid for him! In the scene
with Lady Milford she appears as a pert little pharisee, caustic,
sententious and philosophical beyond her years; so that one wonders why
a girl that knows so much should not know more. She herself has just
cast her lover off, after meeting his passionate entreaties with cool
prudential argument. In a stagy paroxysm of jealousy she resigns her
Ferdinand to Lady Milford, warning her, however, that her bridal chamber
will be haunted by the ghost of a suicide. But why should Louise wish to
quit this life? She has said farewell to Ferdinand, alleging that duty
bids her remain and endure. She has chosen her part. All that separates
her from her lover is her own chimerical sentiment of duty. Her virtue
is intact. She has not the motive, say of Gemmingen's Lotte, for
self-destruction. It is hard to take her seriously at this point, and we
wonder that Lady Milford takes her seriously.

Truth to tell, Louise makes a rather tame and uninteresting tragic
heroine. Notwithstanding all her fervid phrases, she is essentially
cold. Did Schiller intend this effect, or is it due to the fact that he
could not have portrayed her differently? Did it really spring from his
limited observation of the feminine heart and of girlish ways, or from a
deliberate artistic purpose to account adequately for Ferdinand's
jealousy? Had he taken a lesson from the maidenly reserve of Lotte von
Wolzogen and the prudential scruples of her mother? These are questions
upon which one can only speculate. As matters stand, the whole
catastrophe is made to hinge upon Ferdinand's suspicion. A little
patience, a little faith in his sweetheart, would turn the course of
fate. But her conduct makes faith difficult; so we understand his
jealousy, but not so well his previous infatuation. He is in love with a
beautiful soul and a pair of forget-me-not eyes, but the presuppositions
are a little difficult. He is resolved to marry Louise for better or
worse,--it is all understood, so far as he is concerned. Although there
is no love-scene in the play, we do hear of precedent scenes of
passionate self-surrender (always within the limits of virtue). One
cannot help asking: Where were Louise's scruples then? Was she ignorant
of her father's prejudice or resolved to brave it? Had she never
reflected upon the august foundations of the social order? Had she
resisted Ferdinand's suit and warned him that he must be content with a
yearning friendship on earth and a union of souls in heaven? None of
these suppositions can be said to prepare us fully for her actual
conduct in the play, where she appears all along as a helpless bundle of
tremors, vacillating between an alleged passion in which we do not fully
believe and a sublimated sense of duty that we cannot fully understand.

In Ferdinand we have Schiller's favorite type of tragic hero,--the
fervid young enthusiast whose calamity grows out of his own strenuous
idealism. He is, however, a less weighty character than Karl Moor, or
Carlos, or Max Piccolomini, because we see in him nothing more than the
infatuate lover. In their case love is paired with the spirit of great
enterprise; for him it is all in all, so far at least as the action of
the play is concerned. His Louise sums up the entire macrocosm. If he
thinks of doing anything in the world, it is only in order that he may
marry her and live with her in a lover's paradise all his life. This is
his way of talking:

Let obstacles come between us like mountains; I will make steps of
them and fly to my Louise's arms. The storms of adverse fate shall
inflate my feeling, danger shall only make my Louise the more
charming.... I will guard you as the dragon guards the subterraneous
gold. Trust yourself to me. You need no other angel. I will throw
myself between you and fate, receive every wound for you and catch
for you every drop from the cup of joy. On this arm shall my Louise
dance through life, etc.

One can pardon some extravagance to a stage lover, since his
intoxication is what makes him amiable. Who, for example, would abate a
jot or tittle from the delicious nonsense of Romeo? When he says that
carrion flies

may seize
On the white wonder of dear Juliet's hand
And steal immortal blessings from her lips,

he seems to have expressed himself appropriately. There is no suggestion
of mawkishness in his discourse. Our Ferdinand, however, is distinctly
spoony. There went no poetic irony to his creation, and he has no saving
sense of humor. He never seems, like Romeo, to be toying with hyperbole
in an artistic spirit, but it is all dead earnest. Such a love-lorn
youth must expect to recruit his admirers chiefly from the ranks of the
very young. And yet there are times, just as in the case of Karl Moor,
when Ferdinand's rhetoric becomes impressive from sheer titanic force.
Thus when he says to Louise, who has just been reminding him of his
prospects: 'I am a nobleman,--we will see, however, whether my patent of
nobility is older than the ground-plan of the eternal universe; whether
my escutcheon is more valid than the hand-writing of heaven in Louise's
eyes: This woman is for this man.'

It is undoubtedly in the scenes with his father that Ferdinand appears
at his best. Here at least there is manly vigor. The contrast between
the wicked father and the good son is effectively brought out, although,
as in the case of Karl and Franz Moor, it is carried beyond the limits
of easy credibility. How unnatural is the relation of the pair! One
would think they had never talked with each other before, and that each
had lived in complete ignorance of the other's character and
inclinations. The father, by way of founding a claim to his son's
grateful affection, declares that he has 'trodden the dangerous path to
the heart of the prince' and killed his predecessor,--all for the sake
of his son. He admits that he is suffering the 'eternal scorpion-stings
of conscience,' and yet he expects Ferdinand to follow him without a
whimper, and he is angry when the young man indignantly renounces the
usufruct of his father's crimes. Although Ferdinand is a major in the

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