Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Life and Works of Friedrich Schiller by Calvin Thomas

Part 3 out of 7

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.8 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

army, his marriage with Lady Milford is arranged for him as if he had no
claim to be consulted. The president blurts out his plan with brutal
coarseness, and urges it in language which he knows will rouse his son's
anger. So when he appears in the Miller house he makes himself as odious
as possible. Diplomacy and finesse are weapons not found in his armory,
though he is a courtier and a successful politician. He is simply a
cynical brute in high office. In truth his conduct is so very inhuman as
to convey an impression of burlesque. He seems copied from some ogre in
a fairy tale.

But if President von Walter appears now like a melodramatic caricature,
it is partly because times have changed; for Schiller was not without
his models in the recent history of Wuerttemberg. During the period of
Karl Eugen's worst recklessness--the decade beginning with 1755,--he was
loyally abetted by two men, Rieger and Montmartin, who made themselves
thoroughly odious. Rieger was a man of talent and knowledge, but without
heart and without conscience. It was he who managed the cruel and
lawless conscriptions whereby Duke Karl raised the desired troops for
France.[56] Young men were simply taken wherever they could be
found,--pulled from their beds at night, or seized as they came from
church,--and forced into the army under brutal conditions of service.
Many a Wuerttemberg family could have told a tale of barbarity
essentially similar to that recounted by the lackey to Lady Milford in
the second act of Schiller's play. Remorseless oppression of the people,
for the purpose of raising money to be spent on the duke's costly whims,
became the order of the day.

Still more brutal and cynical in his methods than Rieger was Count
Montmartin, who was made President of the State Council in 1758. A
cunning and wicked intriguer, he lent himself without scruple to the
gratification of his master's lusts and caprices. The daughters of the
land were unsafe from his machinations if they had had the misfortune to
attract the wanton eye of their sovereign. In 1762, wishing to be rid of
his powerful rival, Montmartin trumped up a charge that Rieger was
engaged in treasonable correspondence with Prussia. The result was that
Rieger was publicly disgraced. Meeting him one day on parade the duke
angrily tore off his military order, struck him with his cane and then
shut him up in the Hohentwiel, where he lay for four years without
light, table, chair or bed. In like manner the patriotic publicist,
Moser, was imprisoned for five years, without trial and without
sentence, because he had withheld his consent to the duke's high-handed

Such was the political system that had afflicted Wuerttemberg during
Schiller's childhood. It furnished him with his dramatic 'mythology', as
it has been called. The name may be allowed to pass, only it should be
remembered that _this_ mythology was simply history. The rapier-thrusts
of the dramatist were not directed against wind-mills of the
imagination, but against political infamies that make one's blood boil
in the reading and that would have moved a more spirited people to hang
their rulers to the nearest tree. This should be borne in mind by any
one who, in the milder light of a later and better era, is disposed to
carp at Schiller for caricaturing the nobility. He was not concerned
with aristocracy in general, but with the particular kakistocracy that
had disgraced his native land. And all that he did was to exhibit it as
it was, or lately had been.


[Footnote 51: 'The New Heloise', Part 1, letter 62.]

[Footnote 52: The adjectives are John Morley's; "Diderot", Chap. VII.]

[Footnote 53: "La premiere fois que je la vis, ce fut a l'eglise",--says
Diderot's St. Albin, in recounting the beginning of his infatuation for
Sophie. So with Faust and Margaret, and with Schiller's beautiful Greek
lady in 'The Ghostseer'.]

[Footnote 54: "Schillers Leben und Werke", 15. Aufl. (1900), p. 297. In
earlier editions of Palleske's work, which appeared originally in
1858-9, Louise was further characterized as 'the crushed heart of the
German people'; and the sentence, 'which had to recover from those
wounds', read: 'which is beginning to recover'.]

[Footnote 55: One strophe runs:

Dann wird ein Tag sein, den werd' ich auferstehn!
Dann wird ein Tag sein, den wirst du auferstehn!
Dann trennt kein Schicksal mehr die Seelen,
Die du einander, Natur, bestimmtest.]

[Footnote 56: See above, page 7.]


Theater Poet in Mannheim

Die Schaubuehne ist mehr als jede andere oeffentliche Anstalt des
Staats eine Schule der praktischen Weisheit, ein Wegweiser, durch
das buergerliche Leben, ein unfehlbarer Schluessel zu den geheimsten
Zugaengen der menschlichen Seele.--_Discourse on the Theater, 1784_.

Mannheim, famed for the geometric regularity of its streets, was in
Schiller's day a city of about twenty thousand inhabitants. Since 1720
it had been the capital of the Bavarian Palatinate, and under the
Elector Karl Theodor it had acquired some distinction as a nursery of
the arts. We have seen that Schiller, coming thither from Suabia,
imagined himself escaping from the land of the barbarians to the land
of the Greeks. In the year 1777 the Upper and Lower Palatinate were
united, and the Elector transferred his residence to Muenchen. For this
withdrawal of the light of their ruler's countenance the Mannheimers
were compensated in a measure by the establishment among them of a
so-called National Theater. There was no German nation at the time, but
there was a very general interest in the German drama. Lessing's famous
experiment at Hamburg, though it turned out badly, had set people
thinking. Playwrights and actors were learning to regard themselves no
longer as purveyors of mere amusement, but as the dignified
representatives of a noble art having boundless possibilities of
influence. The public was becoming interested in the principles of
dramatic construction and in the criteria of excellence. Scholars were
beginning to inquire whether the stage might not again become what it
had been for the ancient Athenians. And so the way had been prepared
for a serious conception of the theater and for experiments like that
at Mannheim.

The management of the enterprise was placed in the hands of Baron
Heribert von Dalberg, a young nobleman (born in 1750), who had given no
evidence of unusual fitness for such an office, but was a connoisseur
and a gentleman. He devoted himself zealously to his work and soon made
his theater famous. He was courteous and hospitable, kept an eye open
for promising talent and enjoyed the role of Maecenas. His system
provided for regular meetings of his actors, at which plays were
discussed, reports rendered and grievances ventilated. For the rest he
was not a man of ideas, but a follower of tradition. He disliked to take
risks and often missed the mark in his judgment of persons and of plays.
He continued until 1803 to act as intendant and occasionally tried his
hand at dramatic composition, or the adaptation of a Shaksperian play,
All told, his services were such that the Mannheiniers have deemed him
worthy of a statue.

Among the actors whom Baron Dalberg's enterprise had assembled at
Mannheim were three or four of notable talent. Thus there was Iffland,
of the same age as Schiller, who was destined to win fame as an actor,
playwright and manager. Like Diderot, Iffland believed ardently in the
moral mission of the drama. He was himself a man of character who had
taken to the stage against the wish of his kinfolk, and now his hobby
was to refine the language of the stage and to elevate the actor's
profession. He was an industrious and thoughtful player, who gave
careful attention to the little matters of mimicry and personation and
seldom failed to please. Another was Beil, a greater actor in point of
natural endowment, who relied more upon vigorous realism than upon
studied refinements. Then there was Beck, who was at his best as a
portrayer of youthful enthusiasm and sentiment. His nature was akin to
Schiller's and a warm friendship sprang up between the two.

When Schiller arrived in Mannheim, late in July, 1783, Dalberg was in
Holland. There was nothing going on at the theater, and the sweltering
town, deserted by such as could get away, was suffering from an epidemic
of malarial fever. But the faithful Streicher was there and friend
Meyer, the manager, and Schwan, the publisher, whose vivacious daughter,
Margarete, gradually kindled in the heart of the new-comer another faint
blue flame which he ultimately mistook for love. His first concern was
to write to Frau von Wolzogen, who had loaned him money for his journey,
a detailed report of his finances. He was the possessor of fifteen
thalers, whereof he had reserved five for the return to Bauerbach. His
friend Meyer had found him a nice place where, by dispensing with
breakfast, he could eat, drink and lodge for about two thalers a week.
Hair-dresser, washerwoman, postman and tobacconist would require, all
told, one thaler. So he hoped to keep afloat in the great world at least
three weeks, and then,--back to his heart's home in Saxony! The letter

Oh, I shall long to be soon, soon, with you again; and meanwhile, in
the midst of my greatest distractions, I shall think of you, my
dearest friend. I shall often break away from social circles and,
alone in my room, sadly dream myself back with you and weep.
Continue, my dear, continue to be what you have been hitherto, my
first and dearest friend; and let us be, all by ourselves, an
example of pure friendship. We will make each other better and
nobler. By mutual sympathy and the delicate tie of beautiful
emotions we will exhaust the joys of this life and at the last be
proud of this our blameless league. Take no other friend into your
heart. Mine remains yours unto death and beyond that, if possible.

One sees that the writer of this letter had lived quite long enough
in his idyllic retirement, and that his benefactress had judged the
case wisely.

Es bildet ein Talent sich in der Stille,
Sich ein Charakter in dem Strom der Welt.[57]

We who do not live in an epoch of emotional expansion have the right to
get what amusement we can out of this note of high-flown sentimentalism.
At the same time its instructive aspect should not be lost sight of.
When a youth of twenty-three, battling with the vulgar prose of life,
falls into such a tone in writing to a middle-aged lady who has
befriended him; when he lets his imagination brood upon the coming
luxury of tears and of beautiful emotions; when he is so pathetically
eager to reign without a rival in the heart of his friend, and to assure
her of his everlasting loyalty in the world to come,--how shall we
expect him to express himself when he undertakes to speak the language
of strong feeling in works of the imagination? Evidently we must be
prepared for all things in the way of sentimental extravagance.

After two weeks of idle waiting Schiller was able to report that Dalberg
had returned and was showing himself very friendly. The man was 'all
fire,'--only it was gunpowder flame that would not last long. The genial
intendant insisted that Schiller should by all means remain in Mannheim.
'Fiesco,' now in print as a tragedy, should be put upon the stage at
once; 'Louise Miller' should be taken under consideration, a performance
of 'The Robbers' be given for the author's special gratification, and so
forth. At first Schiller was little disposed to bank upon this effusive
kindness. His plans went no further than to effect a sale of the
stage-rights of his two plays and then to return to Bauerbach. But the
lures of Dalberg finally prevailed and in September he made a contract
for a year's employment as dramatist of the Mannheim theater. He was to
furnish one entirely new play, in addition to those he had on hand, and
to have as compensation three hundred florins, the copyright of all the
plays and the receipts of a single performance of each of them. For a
moment the future looked tolerably bright. He saw in his mind's eye an
assured income of more than twelve hundred florins, which would provide
amply for his needs and enable him to pay his debts.

But his plans went all wrong. In the first place, the pestilent fever,
which he fought with giant doses of quinine, proved very intractable and
held him in its grip for months. He was unable to work and fell into a
sort of mental coma. In a letter of November 13 he describes himself as
eating Peruvian bark like bread; and six weeks later he was still
suffering from the effects of his unlucky midsummer plunge into the
miasmatic air of Mannheim. In other ways, too, the new situation proved
a disappointment. Social demands involved him in expenditures far in
excess of his modest calculations, while the intervals of relief from
physical incapacity were filled with a hundred distractions which left
him no time for sustained mental effort. And so he drifted into the
winter without accomplishing anything more notable than the final
revision of 'Fiesco'.

About this time he was elected a member of the so-called 'German
Society', a learned body which enjoyed the protection of the Elector.
This little honor was highly valued by Schiller, since it made him a
citizen of the Palatinate and gave him an assured social status. On the
other hand, his emergence into the light of day as a respectable
functionary was not without its disadvantages, since his creditors now
became importunate. There were pressing duns from Stuttgart and from
Bauerbach, but the debtor could not pay. He became involved in a painful
correspondence with his father, who had undertaken to guarantee a small
debt of his son provided that another larger one be paid so and so. When
this hope failed, the old captain lost patience and began to deal out
counsel, reproof and warning with a lavish hand. He recommended his son
to save the pennies and live more economically; to return to medicine;
to marry a wife; to remember his Creator, and so on. To all of which the
perplexed Friedrich could only reply with fresh promises, excuses and
recommendations of patience. In like manner he put off Frau von Wolzogen
until she began to lose faith in him. A sharp letter from her brought
him to his knees with a humble apology, but it was years before he could
pay his debt to her.

The first performance of 'Fiesco', the adaptation of which to the stage
had cost its author such a world of trouble, took place on the 12th of
January, 1784. As played it differed a good deal from the published
version, and not alone with respect to the catastrophe. Thus the painful
episode of Bertha was worked over into something less revoltingly
horrible. In the stage version, instead of being brutally violated, she
is abducted by a tool of Gianettino, but rescued and restored to her
home unharmed. With this change made it would seem as if there were less
reason than ever for her being cursed and sent to a subterraneous
prison-vault. Nevertheless Verrina's curse was allowed to
remain,--chiefly, as one cannot help surmising, that the girl might be
rescued with _eclat_ in the fourth act. (The rescue scene in 'The
Robbers' had been a great success.) It has already been noted that the
offensive quarrel between Julia and Leonora was omitted and that Leonora
was allowed to live. And there were other such changes. Schiller had
been impressed by an actor's criticism of his florid and violent
language. He accordingly removed or toned down a few blemishes of this
kind, but without making a radical revision of the style. Even in the
stage version there is quite too much of rant and fustian.

The Mannheimers took but little interest in 'Fiesco,'--it was too
erudite for them, as Schiller explained to Reinwald some months
later.[58] Republican liberty, he went on to say, was in that region a
sound without meaning; there was no Roman blood in the veins of the
Pfaelzer. In Berlin and Frankfurt, however, the piece had met with good
success. We cannot blame Schiller for trying to extract comfort from
these bits of evidence that the prophet was not without honor save in
his own country, though we may question his implication that republican
ideas were just then less rife in the Palatinate than in Berlin and
Frankfurt. The fact is that the lover of republican ideas must have been
the very person to feel the keenest dissatisfaction with 'Fiesco.' Where
it did succeed, its success was due to causes having little to do with
political sentiment. The Berlin triumph was equivocal, being the triumph
not so much of Schiller as of one Pluemicke, who took high-handed
liberties with the original text and made it over, in both language and
thought, so as to suit the taste of the Berlin actors. This northern
version, thus diluted with the water of the Spree, was presently
published by the enterprising pirate, Himburg, and proved a formidable
rival of the genuine edition. The play was tried at several theaters and
with various endings,--curiously enough Pluemicke made Fiesco commit
suicide in the moment of his triumph,--but it never became really
popular. It was translated into English in 1796, into French in 1799.

Much more favorable was the reception given to 'Cabal and Love', which
was first played at Mannheim on the 15th of April, 1784.[59] The part of
the lackey who describes the horrors attending the exportation of
soldiers to America was omitted; the satire was too strong for the
politic Dalberg, who had all along been troubled by Schiller's drastic
treatment of princely iniquity and his obvious allusions to well-known
persons. Even Schwan, who was delighted with 'Louise Miller' from the
first and readily undertook to publish it, described its author as an
executioner. This time the Mannheimers had no difficulty of
comprehension and they gave their applause unstintingly. After the great
scene in the second act they rose and cheered vociferously,--whereat
Schiller bowed and felt very happy. 'His manner', says honest Streicher,
who has left a report of the memorable evening, 'his proud and noble
bearing, showed that he had satisfied himself and was pleased to see his
merit appreciated.'

A few days later the Mannheim players repeated their triumph at
Frankfurt, where Schiller was lionized to his heart's content. 'Cabal
and Love' now quickly became a stage favorite. Within a few months it
was played successfully at nearly all the more important theaters of
Germany. Even Stuttgart fell into line, but the Duke of Wuerttemberg was
not pleased, and a memorial of the nobility led to the prohibition of a
second performance. At Braunschweig It was tried with a happy ending,
but this innovation, reasonable as it seems, took no root. A badly
garbled English translation by Timaeus appeared in 1795; a better one by
Monk Lewis, under the title of 'The Minister', in 1797. A French
translation by La Martelliere was hissed off the stage of the Theatre
Francais in 1801.

From the Minerva press the new play got blame and praise. One writer saw
in it the same Schiller who was already known as the 'painter of
terrible scenes and the creator of Shaksperian thoughts'. A Berlin
critic named Moritz, of whom we shall hear later, called the piece a
disgrace to the age and wondered how a man could write and print such
nonsense. The plot consisted, he declared, of a simpleton's quarrel with
Providence over a stupid and affected girl. It was full of crass, ribald
wit and senseless rodomantade. There were a few scenes of which
something might have been made, but 'this writer converted everything
into inflated rubbish'. Some one taxed Moritz with undue severity,
whereupon he returned to the attack, insisting that this extravagant,
blasphemous and vulgar diction, which purported to be nature rude and
strong, was in reality altogether unnatural.[60]

And, to be candid, the critic was able to bring together an anthology of
quotations which seemed like a rather forcible indictment of Schiller's
literary taste. What Moritz failed to see was that the bad taste was
only an excrescence growing upon a very vigorous stock. This was felt by
another reviewer who declared that high poetic genius shone forth from
every scene of Schiller's works. Many years later Zelter, the friend of
Goethe, bore witness to the electric effect of the play upon himself and
the other excitable youth who saw it in the first days of its
popularity. Like 'The Robbers,' it was a harbinger of the revolution. It
seemed to voice the hitherto voiceless woe of the third estate; and just
because of that savage force which made it seem absurd to sedate minds,
just because it rang out in such shrill and clangorous notes, it has
continued to be heard. Good taste is a matter of fashion. It is never
the most vital quality of literature.

If any one should be tempted to think that Schiller's youthful ideals of
the dramatic art were not sufficiently exalted, he should read the
lecture given before the Mannheim German Society, in June, 1784, on the
question: 'What can a good permanent theater really effect?' It is an
excellent, thoughtful essay, instinct with lofty idealism and at the
same time full of sound observation. Setting out from the postulate that
the highest aim of all institutions whatsoever is the furtherance of the
general happiness, the paper discusses the theater as a public
institution of the state. Its claims are examined, and the sphere and
manner of its influence discussed, along with those of religion and the
laws. Probably too much is made out of the moral and educational utility
of the stage,--so at least it will be apt to seem to an American or an
Englishman,--but the familiar arguments, the validity of which is now
generally recognized in Germany, are marshalled with a fine breadth of
view and with many felicities of expression. Toward the end there is a
passage which shows that Schiller himself felt the shakiness of the
utilitarian argument. He says: 'What I have tried to prove
hitherto--that the stage exerts an essential influence upon morals and
enlightenment--was doubtful'; and then he goes on to speak of a value
not doubtful, namely, its value as a means of refined pleasure. This is
the heart of the matter forever and ever; and one could hardly sum up
the case more sagely than Schiller does in the sentence: 'The stage is
the institution in which pleasure combines with instruction, rest with
mental effort, diversion with culture; where no power of the soul is put
under tension to the detriment of any other, and no pleasure is enjoyed
to the damage of the community,'

The experience of Schiller at Mannheim illustrates the higher uses of
adversity. Had he been well and happy, he might have written his third
play, won the good will of Dalberg and then stuck fast for years in the
Palatinate; which would have been a misfortune for him and for German
letters. As it was, Mannheim gradually became odious to him. He had no
buoyancy of spirit. 'God knows I have not been happy here', he wrote to
Reinwald in May, 1784. His life was full of petty worries and
distractions which weighted his imagination as with lead. As his year
drew to an end he imagined that he had but to say the word to have his
contract with the Mannheim theater renewed, but it was not so; Dalberg
had quietly decided to get rid of him. From _his_ point of view his poet
had been a bad investment. Schiller had not kept his contract in the
matter of the new play; he had done nothing but procrastinate and make
excuses. 'Don Carlos' had not even been begun. There seemed to be no
excuse for such dawdling, when a man like Iffland could always be relied
upon to turn out a fairly acceptable play in a few weeks. No great
wonder, therefore, that Dalberg lost faith in Schiller and concluded
that he had exhausted his vein. Through a friend he suggested a return
to medicine.

Curiously enough Schiller grasped at the idea, professing that a medical
career was the one thing nearest his heart. He had long feared, so he
wrote, that his inspiration would forsake him if he relied upon
literature for his living; but if he could devote himself to it in the
intervals of medical practice, good things might be hoped for. He
accordingly proposed a renewal of the contract for another year, with
the understanding that he devote himself principally to his medical
studies to the end of qualifying for the doctor's degree; in the mean
time he would undertake to produce one 'great play' and also to edit a
dramatic journal. To this amazing proposal Dalberg paid no attention;
and when the 1st of September arrived Schiller's connection with the
Mannheim theater came to an end.

It was a troublous, harassing time for him, that summer of 1784, and the
more since the woes of the distracted lover were added to those of the
disappointed playwright and the impecunious debtor. A German savant
observes that Schiller was not, like Goethe, a virtuoso in love. And so
it certainly looks, albeit the difference might perhaps appear a little
less conspicuous if he had lived to a ripe old age and dressed up his
recollections of youth in an autobiographical romance. He did not lack
the data of experience, but without the charm of the retrospective
poetic treatment his early love-affairs are not profoundly interesting.
In the midst of his troubles it came over him that marriage might be the
right thing for him; and so, one day in June, 1784, he offered himself
to Frau von Wolzogen for a son-in-law. Nothing came of the suggestion;
it was only a passing tribute to the abstract goodness of matrimony.
About a year later he made, with similar results, an argumentative bid
for the hand of Margarete Schwan. On the aforementioned visit to
Frankfurt he met Sophie Albrecht, a melancholy poetess who had sought
relief from the tameness of her married life by going upon the stage. Of
her he wrote shortly afterwards:

In the very first hours a firm and warm attachment sprang up between
us; our souls understood each other. I am glad and proud that she
loves me and that acquaintance with me may perhaps make her happy. A
heart fashioned altogether for sympathy, far above the pettiness of
ordinary social circles, full of noble, pure feeling for truth and
virtue, and admirable even where her sex is not usually so. I
promise myself divine days in her immediate society.[61]

But all these palpitations were as water unto wine in comparison with
his unwholesome passion for Charlotte von Kalb, whom he also met first
in the spring of 1784. This lady, after a lonely and loveless girlhood,
in which she had been tossed about as an unwelcome incumbrance from one
relation to another, had lately married a Baron von Kalb. Her heart had
no part in the marriage, which was arranged by her guardian. In the
pursuit of his career her husband left her much to herself. She was an
introspective creature, very changeable in her moods and passionately
fond of music and poetry. In Schiller she found her affinity. He acted
first as her guide about Mannheim, then as her mentor in matters of
literature. They saw much of each other; became intimately confidential
and soon were treading a dangerous path,--though not so dangerous,
peradventure, as has sometimes been inferred from the two poems,
'Radicalism of Passion' and 'Resignation', which belong to this period.

In the first of these poems our old friend, the lover of Laura, who is
supposed to have married another man in the year 1782, resolves to fight
no longer the 'giant-battle of duty'. He apostrophizes Virtue and bids
her take back the oath that she has extorted from him in a moment of
weakness. He will no longer respect the scruples that restrained him
when the pitying Laura was ready to give all. Her marriage vow was
itself sinful, and the god of Virtue is a detestable tyrant. In the
other poem, which is a sort of antidote to the first, we hear of a poet,
born in Arcadia, who surrendered his claim to earthly bliss on the
promise of a reward in heaven. He gave up his all, even his Laura, to
Virtue, though mockers called him a fool for believing in gods and
immortality. At last he appears before the heavenly throne to claim his
guerdon, but is told by an invisible genius that two flowers bloom for
humanity,--Hope and Enjoyment. Who has the one must renounce the other.
The high Faith that sustained him on earth was his sufficient reward and
the fulfillment of Eternity's pledge.

Wer dieser Blumen eine brach, begehre
Die andre Schwester nicht.
Geniesze wer nicht glauben kann. Die Lehre
Ist ewig wie die Welt. Wer glauben kann entbehre.
Die Weltgeschichte ist das Weltgericht.[62]

When these poems were published, in 1786, their author saw fit to
caution the public in a foot-note not to mistake an ebullition of
passion for a system of philosophy, or the despair of an imaginary lover
for the poet's confession of faith. Thus warned one should not be too
curious about the reality which is half revealed and half concealed by
the verses. Enough that it was not altogether a calm, Platonic
sentiment, and that the torment of it was a factor in that uneasiness
which finally became a burning desire to escape from Mannheim. And the
fates were preparing a way.

One day in June, when all was looking dark, Schiller received a packet
containing an epistolary greeting, an embroidered letter-case and four
portrait sketches. The letter was anonymous, but he presently discovered
that it came from Gottfried Koerner, a young privat-docent in Leipzig,
who had united with three friends in sending this token of regard to a
Suabian poet whom they had found reason to like. Schiller did not answer
immediately and the skies grew darker still. His relations with the
Mannheim theater were presently strained to the point of disgust by the
production of a farce in which he was satirized. He was in terrible
straits for money. To have something to do, after he was set adrift by
Dalberg, he decided to go ahead with his project of a dramatic journal.
An attractive prospectus for the _Rhenish Thalia_ was issued, and he
began to prepare for the first number, which was to contain an
installment of 'Don Carlos'. The advance subscriptions fell far short of
his sanguine hopes. In these occupations the time passed until December.
Then one day he penned an answer to the Leipzig letter. It was a
turning-point in his destiny. A correspondence sprang up which presently
convinced him that where these people were, there he must be.

Toward the end of the year there came another glint of good-will from
the north. The Duke of Weimar happened to be visiting at the neighboring
Darmstadt, and through Frau von Kalb Schiller procured an introduction
and an invitation to read the beginning of 'Don Carlos'. The result was
the title of Weimar Councillor. This was very pleasant indeed; for while
it put no florins in his purse, it gave him an honorable status in the
German world. He had been cast off by a prince of the barbarians to be
taken up by _the_ prince of the Greeks! Henceforth he was in a sense the
colleague of Goethe and Wieland. He began to speak of the Duke of Weimar
as _his_ duke, and to indulge in day-dreams concerning the little city
of the Muses in Thueringen. For the rest there was an element of fate's
amusing irony in the new title, seeing that he had just announced
himself, in the prospectus of the _Rhenish Thalia_, as a literary
free-lance who served no prince, but only the public. The announcement
contained a sketch of his life and a confession of his sins,--which he
laid at the door of the Stuttgart Academy. 'The Robbers', he declared,
had cost him home and country; but now he was free, and his heart
swelled at the thought of wearing no other fetter than the verdict of
the public, and appealing to no other throne than the human soul.

Owing to various delays the first number of the new journal did not
appear until the spring of 1785, and by that time Schiller was all ready
for his flight northward. Matters had continued to go badly with him. On
the 22nd of February he wrote to Korner, 'in a nameless oppression of
the heart', as follows:

I can stay no longer in Mannheim. For twelve days I have carried the
decision about with me like a resolution to leave the world. People,
circumstances, earth and sky, are repulsive to me. I have not a soul
to fill the void in my heart--not a friend, man or woman; and what
might be dear to me is separated from me by conventions and
circumstances.... Oh, my soul is athirst for new nourishment, for
better people, for friendship, affection and love. I must come to
you; must learn, in your immediate society and in intimate relations
with you, once more to enjoy my own heart, and to bring my whole
being to a livelier buoyancy. My poetic vein is stagnant; my heart
has dried up toward my associations here. You must warm it again.
With you I shall be doubly, trebly, what I have been hitherto; and
more than all that, my dearest friends, I shall be happy. I have
never been so yet. Weep for me that I must make this confession. I
have not been happy; for fame and admiration and all the other
concomitants of authorship do not weigh as much as one moment of
love and friendship. They starve the heart.

To the worldly-wise such a perfervid sight-draft upon the bank of love,
made after a few weeks of epistolary acquaintance, will no doubt seem a
little risky. One is reminded of Goethe's Tasso, impulsively offering
his friendship to a cooler man and getting the reply:

In Einem Augenblicke forderst du
Was wohlbedaechtig nur die Zeit gewaehrt.[63]

But this time Schiller's instinct had guided him aright. Koerner was no
Antonio, and he did not recoil even when he learned that his new friend
was very much in need of money and would not be able to leave Mannheim,
unless a Leipzig publisher could be found who would take over his
magazine and advance a few pounds upon its uncertain prospects. This was
easily arranged, for Korner was well-to-do and had himself lately
acquired an interest in the publishing business of Goeschen at Leipzig.
Goeschen took the _Thalia_ (dropping the 'Rhenish'), Schiller paid his
more pressing debts, and early in April was on his way to Leipzig,
panting for the new friends as the hart panteth after the water-brooks.


[Footnote 57:

A talent forms itself in solitude,
A character in the flowing tide of life.
--_Goethes 'Tasso'.]

[Footnote 58: Letter of May 5, 1784.]

[Footnote 59: But this performance was not the first in order of time.
'Cabal and Love' had already been played on the 13th of April by
Grossmann's company at Frankfurt. Grossmann was an intelligent
theatrical man, who had conceived a liking for Schiller; only he wished
that the 'dear fiery man' would be a little more considerate of stage

[Footnote 60: Moritz's critique is reprinted in J. Braun's "Schiller und
Goethe im Urteile ihrer Zeitgenossen", I, 103.]

[Footnote 61: From the letter of May 5, quoted above.]

[Footnote 62: In Bulwer's translation:

"He who has plucked the one, resigned must see
The sister's forfeit bloom:
Let Unbelief enjoy--Belief must be
All to the chooser;--the world's history
Is the world's judgment doom."]

[Footnote 63:

Thou askest in a single moment that
Which only time can give with cautious hand.]


The Boon of Friendship

Wem der grosse Wurf gelungen,
Eines Freundes Freund zu sein,...
Mische seinen Jubel ein.
--'_Song to Joy_'.

Gottfried Koerner, father of the more famous Theodor, was some three
years older than Schiller and belonged to an opulent and distinguished
family. His father was a high church dignitary, his mother the daughter
of a well-to-do Leipzig merchant. The boy had grown up under austere
religious influences and then drifted far in the direction of
liberalism. After a university career devoted at first to the humanities
and then to law, he had travelled extensively in foreign countries, and
then returned to Leipzig, full of ambition but undecided as to his
future course. Here, in 1778, he became acquainted with Minna Stock, the
daughter of an engraver who had once been the teacher of Goethe. Stock
died in 1773, leaving a widow and two daughters to battle with poverty.
The elder daughter, Dora, inherited something of her father's vivacious
humor and artistic talent, while the younger and handsomer, Minna, was
of a more domestic temper. When Koerner fell in love with the amiable
Minna and wished to marry her, he met with opposition in his own family,
who thought that the 'engraver's mamsell' was not good enough for him.
This little touch of adversity converted him from a gentleman of leisure
and a browsing philosopher into a man with a purpose in life. He set
about making himself independent of the family wealth. To this end he
offered himself as a privat-docent in law at the Leipzig university.
When this expedient failed him through lack of students, he began to
practice and soon received an appointment which took him to Dresden.
This in 1783. Dresden now became his official residence, but he made
frequent visits to his betrothed in Leipzig, and during one of these his
memorable letter to Schiller was indited.

The other member of the quartette was Ludwig Huber, at that time the
accepted lover of Dora Stock. Huber was three years younger than
Schiller,--an impressionable youth, of some linguistic talent, who had
his occasional promptings of literary ambition. But his soarings were
mere grasshopper flights; steady effort was not his affair and he lacked
solid ability. A doting mother had watched and coddled him until in
practical affairs he was comically helpless. As the futility of his
character became more apparent with the lapse of time, he lost the
esteem of his friends, and the engagement with Dora Stock was broken
off. So far as Schiller is concerned, the friendship of Huber was a
passing episode of no particular importance.

Early in the year 1785 Koerner lost both his parents and found himself
the possessor of a considerable fortune. There was now no further
obstacle to his marriage; so the time was fixed for the wedding and he
set about preparing a home for his bride. Thus it came about that when
Schiller arrived in Leipzig, on the 17th of April, 1785,--mud, snow and
inundations had made the journey desperately tedious,--he did not at
once meet the man whom he most cared to know. Huber and the two ladies,
who seem to have expected a wild, dishevelled genius, were astonished to
see a mild-eyed, bashful man, who bore little resemblance to Karl Moor
and needed time to thaw up. But the stranger soon felt at home. He had
explained to Huber minutely how he wished to live. He would no longer
keep his own establishment,--he could manage an entire dramatic
conspiracy more easily than his own housekeeping. At the same time he
did not wish to live alone.

I need for my inward happiness [he wrote] a right, true friend who
is always at hand like my angel; to whom I can communicate my
budding ideas and emotions in the moment of their birth, without
writing letters or making visits. Even the trivial circumstance that
my friend lives outside my four walls; that I must go through the
street to reach him, that I must change my dress, or the like, kills
the enjoyment of the moment. My train of thought is liable to be
rent in pieces before I can get to him.... I cannot live parterre,
nor in the attic, and I should not like to look out upon a
churchyard. I love men and the thronging crowd. If I cannot arrange
it so that we (I mean the five-parted clover-leaf) may eat together,
then I might resort to the table d'hote of an inn, for I had rather
fast than not dine in company.[64]

It is clear that, notwithstanding experiences which might have
embittered a less genial nature, Schiller was in no danger of becoming a
misanthrope. For him the throng upon the street was not the madding
crowd of the English poet, nor the 'cursed race' of Frederick the Great,
but an inspiration; a spectacle to keep the heart warm and foster the
sense of brotherhood. He felt the need of men, however shabbily they
might treat him. And men enough were at hand; for the Leipzig fair was
then on, and the town was full of strangers who were eager to gape at
the author of 'The Robbers', to be introduced to him, to invite him here
and there. So for a week he floated with the current of casual
dissipation and then, caught for an hour by a refluent eddy of
lonesomeness,--four parts of the pentamerous clover-leaf were paired
lovers,--he penned a missive which might have changed much in his future
career: He sent to Christian Schwan a formal proposal for the hand of
Margarete. With characteristic optimism he urged that fortune had at
last turned favorably. He had good prospects. He proposed to work hard
upon 'Don Carlos' and the _Thalia_, and meanwhile quietly to return to
medicine. Wherefore he now made bold to express a hope that he had long
cherished but had not dared to utter.

The sequelae of this wooing have never been cleared up in detail.
Schiller's letter as preserved bears a marginal note by Schwan to the
effect that Laura in the poem 'Resignation' was no other than his eldest
daughter. 'I gave her this letter to read', the note says, 'and told
Schiller to apply directly to her. Why nothing came of the affair has
remained a riddle to me. Happy my daughter would not have been with
Schiller.' The annotation is not dated. The identification of Laura with
Margarete is obviously wrong. Was Schwan's memory also at fault? Did he
imagine, long after the fact, that he had actually taken what must have
seemed to him, when Schiller had become a famous poet, the reasonable
course to have pursued? Did he withhold the letter too long and then
show it? Or was Margarete herself disinclined,--piqued perhaps by
Schiller's neglect of her, or by his passion for Charlotte von Kalb? Or
did Schiller's own courage fail him after he had received a hint of
favor? A letter to Koerner, written May 7, tells of pleasant news from
Mannheim, and shortly afterward a rumor was in circulation that Schiller
was about to marry a rich wife. The probability is that neither party
was more than half inclined to the match. The blue flame perished
naturally for lack of fuel.

Early in May, following the custom of well-to-do Leipzigers, Schiller
sought refuge from the incipient summer heat of the city by taking
rooms in the suburban village (such it was then) of Gohlis. Here, in a
little second-story chamber, which was provided with an infinitesimal
bed-room, he lived some four months,--happy months, in the main, even
If the famous 'Song to Joy', which local tradition ascribes to this
time and place, was in fact written a little later in Dresden. Various
friends were at hand. Besides Huber there was Goeschen, with whom he was
soon on terms of intimacy. The Stock sisters,--'our dear girls', as he
calls them in a letter to the absent Korner,--had likewise quartered
themselves in Gohlis; and so had Dr. Albrecht and his wife, Sophie, the
actress. These with one or two others were enough for converse and for
jollity; and there were merry evenings, with wine and talk, and cards
and skittles and nonsense. Though ordinarily he 'joked wi' difficulty',
Schiller could be jovial enough in a company of congenial spirits.
Nevertheless there was but little of the bohemian about him. That
dignified seriousness which pervades all his later writings, and gave
to Goethe the impression of a man dwelling habitually above the plane
of vulgar things, was beginning even now to characterize him as a
social being.

While living at Gohlis he received a visit from Moritz, the man who had
written so savagely of 'Cabal and Love'. If ever an author has been
justified in giving the cut direct to a pestilent reviewer, this was the
occasion. But Schiller received his visitor with suave courtesy; an
interchange of views followed and the two men parted with embraces and
protestations of friendly esteem. Schiller was not a good hater, except
of hate. His nature craved love and friendship. He was eager to learn of
his critics and could not long cherish resentment over an honest
expression of opinion. Besides this he had now come to feel that his
early writings were anything but invulnerable.

Notwithstanding his promise of steady industry, Schiller accomplished
but little during his sojourn at Gohlis. It was the old story: There
were too many distractions, too many confusing images of what might be
done. The scheme of an antidote to 'The Robbers', in the shape of a
moral sequel, gradually dropped out of view, along with the medical
studies. The _Thalia_, originally planned with reference to the public
at Mannheim, refused to bear transplanting to another soil without a
season of wilting. Instead of manuscript for the second number, Goeschen
was obliged to content himself for several months with excuses for
postponement. And as for 'Don Carlos', the conception had so changed
with the lapse of time that its author felt at a loss how to manage It.
The play, with its wonderful pair of dreamers, was waiting for the
inspiration of a real friendship at Dresden.

Long before they met in the body Schiller and Koerner had given
expression to their mutual trust in language of romantic enthusiasm. On
the 2nd of May Koerner wrote at length of his own life, character and
aspirations. The letter reveals a noble nature conscious of an
exceptional indebtedness to fortune and eager to pay the debt by solid
work for mankind, but lacking the ability to decide and execute. Koerner
evidently felt that he was in some danger of becoming an intellectual
Sybarite, and he hoped that Schiller's example would save him from this
danger by spurring him to literary effort. In his reply Schiller
expresses his admiration of a character to whom fortune's favor means
not, as for most men, the opportunity of enjoyment, but the duty of more
strenuous living; then he sends a jubilant Godspeed to the 'dear
wanderer who wishes to accompany him in such faithful, brotherly fashion
on his romantic journey to truth, fame and happiness.' The letter

I now feel realized in us what as poet I but prophetically imagined.
Brotherhood of spirits is the most infallible key to wisdom.
Separately we can do nothing.... Do not fear from this time forth
for the endless duration of our friendship. Its materials are the
fundamental impulses of the human soul. Its territory is eternity;
its _non plus ultra_ the Godhead.

Then, as if momentarily abashed by his own extravagance of expression,
he protests that his _Schwaermerei_, if such it be, is nothing but a
'joyful paroxysm anticipating our future greatness'. For his part, he
would not 'exchange one such moment for the highest triumph of cold
reason'. Enthusiasm, he declares, is the greatest thing in life.

The two men did not see each other until July, when a meeting was
arranged at an interjacent village, to which Schiller rode out with the
Leipzig friends. The next day he wrote a letter to Koerner, who had
returned to Dresden, describing an incident of the return journey,--a
letter so full of instruction with regard to the Schiller of this period
that it deserves to be quoted at some length:

Somehow we came to speak of plans for the future. My heart grew
warm. It was not idle dreaming. I had a solid philosophic assurance
of that which I saw lying before me in the glorious perspective of
time. In a melting mood of shame, such as does not depress but
rouses to manly effort, I looked back into the past, which I had
misused through the most unfortunate waste of energy. I felt that
nature had endowed me with powers on a bold plan, and that her
intention with me (perhaps a great intention) had so far been
defeated. Half of this failure was due to the insane method of my
education, and the adverse humor of fate; the other and larger half,
however, to myself. Deeply, my best of friends, did I feel all that,
and in the general fiery ferment of my emotions, head and heart
united in a Herculean vow to make good the past and begin anew the
noble race to the highest goal. My feeling became eloquent and
imparted itself to the others with electric power. O how beautiful,
how divine, is the contact of two souls that meet on the way to
divinity! Thus far not a syllable had been spoken of you, but I read
your name in Huber's eyes and involuntarily it came to my lips. Our
eyes met and our holy purpose fused with our holy friendship. It was
a mute hand-clasp--to remain faithful to the resolution of this
moment; to spur each other on to the goal, to admonish and
encourage, and not to halt save at the bourne where human greatness
ends.... Our conversation had taken this turn when we got out for
breakfast. We found wine in the inn, and your health was drunk. We
looked at each other silently; our mood was that of solemn worship
and each one of us had tears in his eyes, which he tried to keep
back.... I thought of the beginning of the eucharist: 'Do this as
often as ye drink in memory of me.' I heard the organ and stood
before the altar. Suddenly I remembered that, it was your birthday.
Unwittingly we had celebrated it with a holy rite. Dearest friend,
had you seen your glorification in our faces, heard it in our
tear-choked voices, at that moment you would have forgotten even
your betrothed; you would have envied no happy mortal under the sun.
Heaven has strangely brought us together, but in our friendship it
shall have wrought a miracle. Dim foreboding led me to expect much,
very much of you, when I first decided to come to Leipzig; but
Providence has more than fulfilled the promise, and has vouchsafed
to me in your arms a happiness of which I could not form an image.

It tends to provoke a smile to read on in this letter and find It
suddenly turning from such ecstasies to a straightforward confession
that the writer is embarrassed for lack of ready cash. He had met with
disappointments. The Mannheim people had not treated him handsomely, the
subscribers to the _Thalia_ were delinquent, and so forth. Could not
Goeschen be persuaded to undertake a new and authentic edition of the
published plays and to advance a sum of money on the prospects? Koerner's
reply was prompt and characteristic. He enclosed a draft for current
expenses, promised more against the time of need and bade his friend
have no further solicitude about money. He knew very well, so he averred
with politic delicacy, that Schiller could easily earn enough by working
for money; but for a year at least he was to let himself be relieved of
that degrading necessity. They would keep an account and all should be
paid back with interest in the time of abundance; but for the present no
more of pecuniary anxieties! Schiller, to whose brief experience in a
selfish world this sort of conduct was something new, replied that he
would not entrench himself in a false pride, as the great Rousseau had
done on a similar occasion, but would accept the generous offer; this
being the best possible expression of his gratitude. Korner was pleased
to have the business settled by letter. 'I have always despised money',
he wrote, 'to a degree that it disgusts me to talk about it with souls
that are dear to me. I attach no importance to actions that are natural
to people of our sort, and which you would perform for me were the
conditions reversed.'

It was now arranged that after Koerner's marriage Schiller should make
his home in Dresden. The eagerly awaited migration took place in
September, and Schiller entered the Saxon capital, which was to be his
home for the next two years, in a flutter of joyous anticipation. The
Koerners quartered him in their charming suburban cottage at Loschwitz,
in the loveliest region he had known since his childhood. The guest, who
had seen but little of the quiet joys of domestic life and was now
received on the footing of an adopted brother, felt very happy. His
intercourse with Koerner gave him the very kind of intellectual stimulus
that he most needed. Koerner was at this time the more solid character of
the two. He had seen more of the world. While capable of warm affection
and strong enthusiasm, he had adopted, a profession which inevitably
gave to his thoughts a practical bent. Besides this he had taken up the
study of Kant with great earnestness and was thereby more than ever
disposed to see all questions in the white light of pure reason. He was
thus the very man to pour a cool Mephistophelean spray upon Schiller's
emotional fervors. One can easily imagine the general drift of the
philosophical discussions that took place during the lengthening
evenings of September, 1785, when we find Schiller expressing himself to
the absent Huber in such language as this:

The boyhood of our minds is now over, I imagine, and likewise the
honeymoon of our friendship. Let our hearts now cleave to each
other in manly affection, gush little and feel much; plan little
and act the more fruitfully. Enthusiasm and ideals have sunk
incredibly in my estimation. As a rule we make the mistake of
estimating the future from a momentary feeling of enhanced power,
and painting things in the color of our transient exaltation of
feeling. I praise enthusiasm, and love the divine ethereal power of
kindling to a great resolution. It pertains to the better man, but
it is not all of him.

But life at Loschwitz was not lived altogether in the upper altitudes of
solemn philosophy. From this period dates the well-known
'Petition',--one of the few glints of playful humor to be found among
Schiller's poems. He had been left alone one day with 'Don Carlos', and
he found his meditations disturbed by the operations of the washerwoman.
The result was a string of humorous stanzas bewailing the fate of a poet
who is compelled by his vocation to fix his mind upon the love ecstasies
of Princess Eboli, and listen at the same time to the swashy music of
the wash-tub:

I feel my love-lorn lady's hurt,
My fancy waxes hotter;
I hear,--the sound of sock and shirt
A-swishing in the water.

Vanished the dream--the faery chimes--
My Princess, pax vobiscum!
The devil take these wash-day rimes,
I will no longer risk 'em.

When the Koerners occupied their winter residence in the city, Schiller
found rooms hard by, and was presently joined by Huber, who had secured
a position in the diplomatic service. The time was now ripe for that
jubilant song, more frequently set to music than any other of Schiller's
poems, wherein we are introduced to a mystic brotherhood, worshiping in
fiery intoxication at the shrine of the celestial priestess, Joy, whose
other name is Sympathy. A mystic brotherhood; yet not an exclusive one,
since the fraternal kiss is--freely offered to every mortal on the round
earth who has found one soul to love. The lines glorify Joy, just as the
odes to Laura had previously glorified Love, as a mystic attraction
pervading all nature and leading up to God; as that which holds the
stars in their course, inspires the searcher after truth, sustains the
martyr and gives a pledge of immortality. Wherefore the millions are
exhorted to endure patiently for the better world that is coming, when a
great God will reward. Anger and vengeance are to be forgotten, and our
mortal foe forgiven. After these rapturous strophes, culminating in a
health to the good Spirit above, one is just a little surprised to hear
the singer urge, with unabated ardor, a purely militant ideal of
life,--firm courage in heavy trial, succor to the oppressed, manly pride
in the presence of kings, and death to the brood of liars. A final
strophe, urging grace to the criminal on the scaffold, general
forgiveness of sinners and the abolition of hell, was rejected by
Schiller, who later characterized the song as a 'bad poem'. The 'Song to
Joy' sprang from noble sentiment and has the genuine lyric afflatus; but
its author had not yet emerged from that nebulous youthful
sentimentalism according to which joy, sympathy, love, friendship,
virtue, happiness, God, were all very much the same thing. And the
thought is a trifle incoherent. If the good Spirit above the stars is to
pardon everybody, what becomes of the incentive to a militant life? Why
should one strive and cry and get into a feaze about tyrants and liars?

The 'Song to Joy', with music by Koerner, was published in the second
number of the _Thalia_, which, after hanging fire for months, finally
appeared in February, 1786. It contained also the poems 'Radicalism of
Passion' and 'Resignation', and a fresh installment of 'Don Carlos'. Of
the prose contributions the most important was the story, 'The Criminal
from Disgrace', later called 'The Criminal from Lost Honor'. It was
based upon a true story, got from Professor Abel in Stuttgart,
concerning the life and death of a notorious Suabian robber, named
Schwan, who was put to death in 1760. Schiller changed the name to
Christian Wolf and built out of the ugly facts a strumous tale of
criminal psychology,--the autopsy of a depraved soul, as he called it.
His hero is a sort of vulgarized Karl Moor; that is, an enemy of society
who might have been its friend if things had not happened so and so. The
successive steps of his descent from mild resentment to malignant fury,
libertinism and crime, and the reaction of his own increasing depravity
upon his own mind, are described in a manner which is fairly interesting
from a literary point of view, whatever a modern expert criminologist
might think of it. The _crux_ of the ever difficult problem,--the
precise division of responsibility between society and the wretch whom
it spews out of its mouth,--is brought clearly into view, but without
any attempt at an exact solution. The tale is not a homily, but an
object-lesson designed to show how things go. It is too slight an affair
to be worthy of extended comment, but it shows Schiller becoming
interested in the psychological analysis of conduct. Moral goodness and
badness are beginning to appear less simple concepts, and the tangle of
human motive more intricate, than he had supposed.

Along with these contributions there also appeared in the second number
of the _Thalia_ a translation of the 'Precis Historique', prefixed by
Mercier to his recently published 'Portrait de Philippe Second'. The
'portrait' itself was a dramatic picture, in fifty-two scenes, without
division into acts. The work of Mercier, who paints the Spanish king in
the darkest possible colors, furnished a few hints for 'Don Carlos', but
its influence was not very great. What chiefly concerns us here is to
note Schiller's awakening interest in historical studies. In the spring
of 1786, during an absence of the Koerners which deprived him of his
wonted inspiration, he found himself unable to work. Letter after letter
tells of laziness and mental vacuity. As he could do nothing else he
took to desultory reading, and this did not satisfy him. 'Really', he
wrote on the 15th of April:

Really I must turn over a new leaf with my reading. I feel with
pain, that I still have such an astonishing amount to learn; that I
must sow In order to reap.... History is becoming dearer to me every
day. I have this week read a history of the Thirty Years' War, and
my head is still quite feverish from it. That this epoch of the
greatest national misery should have been at the same time the most
brilliant epoch of human power! What a number of great men came
forth from this night! I could wish that for the ten years past I
had done nothing but study history. I believe I should have become a
very different fellow. Do you think I shall yet be able to make up
for lost time?

One sees from this language by what particular hook the study of history
had taken hold of Schiller's mind, and what kind of profit he was
promising himself from further reading. He was interested in the
evolution of great men. For him, as for the poets always, from Homer
down, history resolved itself into the doings of the leaders.

For the time being, however, the new zeal seems to have been a mere
flash in the pan, that set nothing in motion. Nor was Koerner able, for
some time to come, to induce his friend to make a serious study of
Kant's 'Critique', though every third word between them was of
philosophy. Nevertheless their philosophic debates did bear literary
fruit. The third number of the _Thalia_, which came out in May,
contained the first installment of the 'Philosophical Letters', a
fictitious correspondence between two friends, Julius and Raphael, who
have arrived by different routes at the same way of thinking, and are
resolved to tell the world how it all came about. Julius is Schiller;
Raphael is Koerner, who actually contributed one of the later letters. We
learn that Julius was passing through a spiritual crisis. He was happy
but he had not reflected. The little world of his rapturous emotions
sufficed him. Now, however, Raphael has enlightened his mind, made him a
citizen of the world and taught him to comprehend the all-sufficient
majesty of reason; but he has won enlightenment at the expense of peace.
He is miserable and demands back his soul. Raphael rebukes him gently
for his faint-heartedness and asks for a history of his thinking. So
Julius rummages through his papers and sends on a somewhat elaborate
'Theosophy of Julius',--a sort of _precis_, it would seem, of Schiller's
earlier views. It is religious mysticism set forth with warm eloquence.
The universe is a thought of God. The highest aim of thinking is to read
the divine plan. All spirits are attracted by perfection. The supreme
perfection is God, of whom love is an emanation. Love is gain; hate is
loss; pardon, the recovery of lost property; misanthropy a prolonged
suicide; egoism the utmost poverty. If every man loved all mankind,
every man would possess the world. If we comprehend perfection it
becomes ours. If we plant beauty and joy, beauty and joy shall we reap.
If we think clearly we shall love fervently.

To this 'theosophy' Julius adds a few comments, evidently of later
origin, which show that he has now become aware of its intellectual
inadequacy. Still he does not repudiate it. He thinks it may do for a
doctrine, if one's nature is adapted to it.--Herewith, so far as
Schiller was concerned, the 'Philosophic Letters' came to an end; but in
the spring of 1788, Koerner surprised him with a letter by Raphael, which
is, philosophically speaking, by far the best of the entire collection.
But this book is not concerned with the writings of Koerner.

Ere the third number of the _Thalia_ appeared it had become evident that
the enterprise would not be profitable, and its perplexed editor was in
doubt whether to continue it. He finally decided to go on. When the
fourth number came out, early in 1787, it contained the beginning of a
novel, 'The Ghostseer', wherein a mysterious Sicilian, and a still more
mysterious Armenian, dog the footsteps of a German Prince von ----
living at Venice, and do various things suggesting a connection
with occult powers. The first installment of the story broke off at a
very exciting point,--just when the Sicilian has produced his amazing
ghost-scene, but has not yet been unmasked as a vulgar fraud. Schiller
evidently began the novel in no very strenuous frame of mind. He
wished to profit by the popular interest in tales of mysterious
charlatanry which had been aroused by the exploits of Cagliostro. So
he set out to spin a yarn in that vein, but he had no definite plan
and did not himself know where he would bring up. The literary merits
of 'The Ghostseer', Schiller's most noteworthy attempt in prose
fiction, will come up for consideration in connection with the
conclusion, or rather the continuation, which he published some two
years later, when he had left Dresden to seek his fortune in Weimar.

Even now the necessity of seeking his fortune somewhere was daily
becoming more imperious. The _Thalia_ did not pay, though the critics
spoke well of it, and he could not live forever upon Koerner's friendly
advances of money. The sense of his dependence often galled him; and yet
when a proposal, in itself highly attractive, came to him from a distant
city, he could not pluck up courage to leave his friend. Friedrich
Schroeder, the greatest German actor of the time, wished to draw him to
Hamburg. Schiller looked up to Schroeder with genuine admiration and
speculatively promised himself great gain from association with 'the one
man in Germany who could realize all his ideas of art.' In Mannheim,--so
he wrote in October, 1786,--he had lost all his enthusiasm for the
theater; it was now beginning to revive, but he shuddered at the
treatment to which playwrights were exposed by theatrical people.
Moreover he was living at Dresden 'in the bosom of a family to which he
had become necessary'. So nothing came of the negotiations except the
preparation of a stage version of 'Don Carlos' for the Hamburg theater.

An amusing glimpse of domestic conditions in the Koerner household is
afforded by Schiller's dramatic skit, entitled 'Koerner's Forenoon'. It
belongs apparently to the year 1787, but was not published until 1862.
The busy councillor of the Dresden Consistory sees a little leisure
before him and squares off at his desk for a solid forenoon's work. He
begins by ordering his man to shave him. Then he is interrupted by a
procession of callers,--Schiller, in various roles, and Minna, and
Dorchen, and Professor Becker and others--who keep the stream of babble
flowing until one o'clock. Koerner is too late for the consistory and all
that he has accomplished is to get shaved. The piece is a slight affair,
but there is enough of solemn fun in it to make one wish that its author
had seen fit to work his lighter vein more frequently.

About the time when this facetious bagatelle was penned, or a little
earlier perhaps, Schiller became the hero of a comedy in real life. In
the winter of 1787 he attended a masked ball where he met 'a pretty
domino--a plump voluptuous maiden,--who fascinated him. Her name was
Henriette von Arnim. He followed up the acquaintance and was soon quite
seriously interested. As the Arnim family did not enjoy the best of
reputations, the Koerners were annoyed at Schiller's seeming lack of
connoisseurship in women. They contrived to let him know that on the
evenings when Henriette was not at home to him she was at home to a
certain earthy Count Waldstein, or to a certain jew banker, as the case
might be. This was painful, but not immediately decisive, and miserable
days ensued. In the spring he was persuaded to try a few weeks' outing
in the country. Here he was at first frightfully lonesome,--a dejected
Robinson Crusoe, who could neither work nor amuse himself. To his
pathetic demands for reading-matter his friends replied with malicious
humor by sending him Goethe's 'Werther' and Laclos's 'Liaisons
Dangereuses'. After a while the Arnims followed him, but presently the
count came also; and then the course of true love, thus awkwardly
bifurcated, was more troubled than ever. After Henriette's return to
Dresden there was an interchange of letters, wherein love fought a
losing battle with doubt and suspicion.

This half-year of amatory perturbation was of course unfavorable to
literary labor. No further numbers of the _Thalia_ appeared, and 'The
Misanthrope', a new play of excellent promise, made no progress. But
'Don Carlos' did at last get itself completed--after a fashion. It was
published early in the summer. And now, with this burden lifted, the
time seemed to have arrived for carrying out the long-cherished plan of
a visit to Weimar. Who could tell what might come of it? Koerner was just
as loyal as ever, but he was also wise enough to respect his friend's
longing for a more assured and less dependent existence. And so in July
Schiller set out for Thueringen,--to be seen no more in Dresden save as
an occasional visitor. But the letters he wrote to the noble-minded
friend who had done and been so much for him constitute, for several
years to come, our best source of information concerning his outward
fortune and his inner history. Before we follow him to Weimar, however,
it will be in order to consider the play which remains as the most
important achievement of his Dresden period.


[Footnote 64: Letter of March 25, 1785.]


Don Carlos

Arm in Arm mit dir,
So fordr' ich mein Jahrhundert in die Schranken.
_'Don Carlos'_.

With the publication of 'Don Carlos' Schiller's literary reputation
entered upon a new phase. Hitherto he had been known as a playwright in
whom the passion for strong effects often obscured the sense of artistic
fitness. Of his dramatic power there could be no doubt, but had he the
higher gift of the great poet? Would he ever be able to clothe his
conceptions in a form that would appeal permanently to the general heart
because of high and rare artistic excellence? Doubts of this kind were
quite justifiable up to the year 1787, but they were set at rest by 'Don
Carlos'. However vulnerable it may be as a poetic totality, it has
passages that are magnificent. Its sonorous verse, wedded to a lofty
argument and freighted with the noblest idealism of the century, made
sure its author's title to a place in the Walhalla of the poets.

Except 'Wallenstein' no other work of Schiller cost him such long and
strenuous toil. 'Don Carlos', like Goethe's 'Faust', is a stratified
deposit. The time that went to the making of it, only four years in all,
was comparatively short, but it was for Schiller a time of rapid change;
and the play, intensely subjective from the first, participated in the
ripening process. The result is a certain lack of artistic congruity.
Schiller himself, always his own best critic, felt this and frankly
admitted it in the first of his 'Letters upon Don Carlos'.

It may be [he wrote] that in the first [three] acts I have aroused
expectations which the last do not fulfill. St. Real's novel,
perhaps also my own remarks upon it in the first number of the
_Thalia_, may have suggested to the reader a standpoint from which
the work can no longer be regarded. During the period of
elaboration, which on account of divers interruptions was a pretty
long time, much changed within myself.... What had mainly attracted
me at first, attracted me less later on, and at last hardly at all.
New ideas that came into my mind crowded out the earlier ones.
Carlos himself had declined in my favor, for no other reason perhaps
than that I had outgrown him, and for the opposite reason the
Marquis of Posa had taken his place. So it came about that I brought
a very different heart to the fourth and fifth acts. Yet the first
three were already in the hands of the public, and the plan of the
whole could not be recast; I had either to suppress the piece
entirely (for which very few of my readers would have thanked me),
or else to fit the second half to the first as best I could.

Let us look somewhat closely at the process of evolution here alluded to
in general terms.

The original impulse came from a work of romantic fiction, the 'Dom
Carlos' of St. Real, which was first read by Schiller in the summer of
1782 and drew from him the comment that the story 'deserved the brush of
a dramatist'. St. Real's novel begins by telling how Charles the Fifth
arranged, just before his abdication, that his grandson Carlos should
some day marry Elizabeth of Valois: and how afterwards Philip determined
to take the French princess for his own wife instead of leaving her to
his son. Meanwhile, however, by much gazing at the picture of his
betrothed, young Carlos had learned to love her, and she in turn had
conceived for him a 'disposition to love rather than a veritable
passion'. Arrived at the Spanish court the young queen wins all hearts;
even the white-haired Philip falls in love with her, though he treats
her with stately reserve in the presence of others and surrounds her
with the restraints of Spanish etiquette. Thus the queen comes to feel
that she possesses 'only the body of her husband, his soul being filled
with the designs of his ambition and the meditation of his policy'. As
for Carlos, his love-lorn eyes soon betray to her how it is with him,
but she can only pity him, though she secretly returns his love, for she
is as virtuous as she is beautiful.

Not so the Princess Eboli, wife of Ruy Gomez, the tutor of Carlos.
Having tried to win the love of the king and found her designs thwarted
by the queen's beauty, Eboli makes advances to Prince Carlos, who lets
her know that he cannot love her and thus makes her angry. In this mood
she bestows her favor upon the king's half-brother, Don Juan of Austria,
who is also enamored of the queen and has been watching Carlos
suspiciously. Having thus made enemies of Eboli and Don Juan, Carlos
next draws upon himself the hatred of the powerful Duke of Alva, of Ruy
Gomez, and of the Inquisition. This he does by his outspoken criticism
of their doings and his threats of punishment to be meted out to them
when he shall have become king. Anxious for their own future Alva and
Ruy Gomez conspire together and cause suspicions of Carlos to be
whispered in the ear of the king. At first Philip is not greatly
excited. When Carlos, importuned by Count Egmont, asks for a commission
to the Netherlands, Philip does not refuse, but declares that he will go
too and share the peril of his son. This, however, is a mere ruse to
gain time. While they are waiting, the king meanwhile feigning illness,
Carlos communicates freely with the queen through his bosom friend, the
Marquis of Posa. Hearing of this intimacy the king now becomes really
jealous, but of Posa not of Carlos. Maddened by suspicion he has the
marquis murdered on the street and employs Eboli to watch the queen.
After this Carlos resolves upon independent action and begins to
negotiate with the Netherlanders. His operations are watched and
reported by his enemies, and just as he is about to leave Spain he is
arrested. The king places his case before the Holy Office, which decrees
that he must die. Being allowed to choose the manner of his death he
opens his veins while bathing.

With the actual Don Carlos, whose story bears but little resemblance to
that of St. Real's hero, we are not particularly concerned. The French
Abbe's drift is to exalt the French princess and to give a telling
picture of a pair of high-minded lovers who are brought to their death
by a complicate intrigue begotten of jealousy, political hatred and
religious fanaticism. After the death of Carlos the queen is poisoned
and then, one after the other, all the conspirators meet with poetic
justice. "Ainsi", the Abbe concludes, "furent expiees les morts a jamais
deplorables d'un prince magnanime, et de la plus belle et de la plus
vertueuse princesse qui fut jamais. C'est ainsi que leurs ombres
infortunees furent enfin pleinement appaisees par les funestes destinees
de tous les complices de leur trepas."

St. Real's novel was published in 1672 and has been a favorite quarry of
the dramatist. Of the plays of Otway (1676) and Campistron (1685)
Schiller had no knowledge, nor did he receive any suggestions from the
fierce and gloomy 'Filippo' of Alfieri, which appeared in 1783. He
approached the subject in his own way and his first thought was simply
to dramatize St. Real, who is mainly interested in the love tragedy and
writes as a literary artist rather than as a political or religious
pamphleteer. We possess a prose outline[65] of 'Don Carlos', written
probably at Bauerbach, which shows exactly how the theme first bit into
Schiller's mind. The exposition was to show the secret passion of the
lovers and the dangers threatening them from the jealousy of Philip, the
political hostility of the grandees and the malice of the slighted
Eboli. In the third act the king would become madly suspicious and
resolve upon his son's death. Then there was to be a gleam of hope: the
ambition of Carlos would awaken and begin to prevail over his love,
while Posa would divert the king's suspicion to himself and fall a
sacrifice to friendship. Then a new danger would arise: the king would
discover Don Carlos in a seeming 'rebellion', and decree his death. The
dying declaration of Carlos would prove his innocence and the king would
be left alone to mourn the havoc he had wrought and to punish the
conspirators who had deceived him.

This sketch promises, it will be observed, not a political tragedy,
but, as Schiller himself afterwards phrased it, a 'domestic tragedy in
a royal household'. Springing up from the same soil and at the same
time as 'Cabal and Love', it was to be much the same sort of play. In
both a pair of high-minded lovers belonging together by natural
affinity, but separated by artificial barriers; the rights of passion
battling in the one case with social prejudice, in the other with the
law of Rome and the malice of courtiers; in both a court plot against
the lovers; the hero beset by a fair sinner who receives him in her
private room, lays siege to him, and is angered by the slighting of her
love; in both a tyrannical and headstrong father at enmity with his
son. Of the political ideas which the world associates with 'Don
Carlos' there is here no adumbration. We hear nothing of the
Netherlanders, nor of the Inquisition, nor of the rights of man. Posa
is only a friend of Carlos, not the ambassador of all mankind, and
there is no room for his golden dreams of philanthropic statesmanship.
And yet it is worth noticing that in three points (all in the third
act) Schiller adds to his French source: Carlos's ambition was to waken
and prevail over his love, Posa was to sacrifice himself, and the
lovers were to rise superior to their passion.

However, no sooner did our playwright address himself seriously to his
task than his imagination began to break over the bounds he had set for
it. Even at Bauerbach, as his letters show, his mind was occupied with
the thought of 'avenging mankind' by scourging the gloomy despotism of
Philip, the monstrous cruelty of Alva, the dark intrigues of the Jesuits
and the hideous crimes of the Inquisition. That he made any progress in
the spring of 1783, further than to cogitate upon his general plan and
to fall in love with his hero, is not probable; nor do his Mannheim
letters allude to 'Don Carlos' until June, 1784. In a letter of that
date he assures Dalberg,--mindful of that good man's trials in
connection with 'Cabal and Love',--that the new play will be 'anything
but a political piece'. Whatever could offend the feelings was to be
strictly avoided. August 24 he writes that 'Don Carlos' is a 'splendid,
subject', especially for himself. Four great characters, Carlos, Philip,
the queen, and Alva (no mention of Posa) open before him a boundless
field. He cannot forgive himself for having tried to shine in the
bourgeois drama, where another may easily surpass him (this in allusion
to Iffland), whereas in historical tragedy he need fear no rival. He
adds that he is now fairly master of the iambic form and that the verse
cannot fail to impart splendor and dignity.

So we see that by the end of his first year in Mannheim Schiller had
indeed undergone a change. The _saeva indignatio_ of the dramatic
pamphleteer had given way to the serener mood of the poetic artist. This
change would doubtless have come about under any circumstances, through
the natural ripening of his mind and art, but it was hastened by the
influence of Klein and Wieland, and by the example of Lessing's
'Nathan'. Anton von Klein, a Jesuit _bel esprit_ living at Mannheim, was
a steadfast champion of the regular heroic tragedy. He had written a
searching review of 'The Robbers', pointing out its many faults and
absurdities, but he recognized Schiller's talent and saw in him a man
worth converting. At Mannheim a friendship sprang up between the two,
and Schiller heard much talk about the superior merit of the noble
poetic style,--a region of thought in which he had hitherto wandered but
little. He had written thus far out of the fervor of his soul, and
theory of any sort had touched him but little. From Rousseauite
literature he had caught a fantastic conception of 'nature', and this
had led him to portray men and women who were scarcely more natural than
those of Gottsched himself. In the rush of feeling he had enlisted among
the young revolutionists whose stormy and stressful tendency, curiously
enough, was regarded as 'English'. And now he found that there was after
all something to be said in favor of the classical French type. The
'anglo-maniacs' were not in possession of the whole truth. Might there
not be, perhaps, a _tertium quid_,--a German drama having a character of
its own and combining the literary dignity and artistic finish of the
French with the warmth and variety of the pseudo-English school? As if
in answer to this query, Lessing's 'Nathan', published in 1779, had
already opened a vista of limitless possibilities. And 'Nathan' was in
blank verse.

To this was added the influence of Wieland, who had lately published a
series of 'Letters to a Young Poet',[66] in which he read his
contemporaries a lecture on the absurdity of their boasting over the
French. He wanted to know where the German dramas were that could
compare with the best works of Racine, Corneille and Moliere. He
insisted that a perfect drama no less than a perfect epic must be in
verse. Even rime in his opinion was indispensable. Such doctrine coming
from a man of Wieland's immense authority in literary matters could not
fail to influence the groping mind of Schiller, though he could not
stomach the demand for rime. The blank verse of Shakspere and Lessing
seemed to promise best, and so he set about practicing upon it. At first
the meter gave him great difficulty; he could not subdue his strong
passion and his wild tropes to the even tenor of the decasyllabic
cadence. Then followed his decision to publish his play piecemeal in the
_Thalia_,--an unfortunate decision as it proved. His hope was to profit
betimes by what his critics might say. He was in a mood of boundless
docility and boundless confidence in the public. Resolved to write 'no
verses that could not be submitted to the best heads in the nation', he
fondly imagined that the nation would be as eager to help him as he was
eager to be helped. As a matter of fact he got but little assistance
from the critic tribe, and his piecemeal publication only served to
embarrass him when he came to the final redaction of the whole.

In the short preface which introduced the first installment to the
public, Schiller ventured the opinion that the excellence of his tragedy
would depend mainly upon his success in portraying the king. The
situation of Carlos and the queen was interesting, he thought, but not
tragically pathetic; it would be difficult to create sympathy for them.
If, however, King Philip was to be the center of tragic interest, it was
evident that he could not be depicted, in accordance with a one-sided
tradition, as a repellent monster. From these and other expressions in
the same essay we can see that Schiller was growing cool toward his
hero. He felt that the troubles of Carlos and the queen could not be
regarded under the Rousseauite scheme of natural passion battling with
odious convention, but that the passion was itself odious. He felt that
a young prince, pining and whining and plunging himself into disaster
all on account of an illicit and mawkish love for his stepmother, was
not a very inspiring personage to be the hero of a great historical
drama. The solution of the problem seemed for the moment to lie in a
'rescue' of King Philip. So the love-tragedy in a royal household began
to take on more than ever the character of a political tragedy, the
promise to Dalberg being quickly forgotten. When he began to publish,
however, his political program was still rather vague and negative; it
hardly went beyond the intention to bestow an incidental scourging upon
the enemies of mankind in church and state.

Then came the influence of Koerner, the effect of which was to give
great prominence to the character of Posa as a positive champion of the
right, and to make him for a while the real hero of the play. There
seems at first blush but little resemblance between the fanatical
idealist of Schiller's imagination and the sensible Dresden lawyer, but
the Koerner strain in Posa is unmistakable. In his intercourse with
Schiller he was evermore insisting on the importance of doing something
for mankind. Enthusiasm, love, friendship, sentiment of any kind, were
valuable in his estimation only as sources of inspiration for telling
activity. As matters of mere private ecstasy, of froth and foam rising
and falling to no effect in the turmoil of the individual soul, they
were for him objects of mild derision. And the idea that lay nearest
his heart as a student of Kant was the idea of freedom. And so, as
Schiller worked upon his play at Dresden, Posa was made the exponent of
the new point of view. He became the teacher of the unripe Carlos, even
as Koerner had been the teacher of the unripe Schiller; the subduer of
unmanly emotionalism; the apostle of renunciation; the pointer of the
way to great deeds; the prophet of a free humanity to come. In the
brilliant light thus thrown upon Posa the other heroes were somewhat
obscured. The poet's original love, Don Carlos, and his second love,
Don Philip, had to make way for a third passion that was stronger than
either of the others.

The four installments of 'Don Carlos' that were printed in the _Thalia_,
up to the end of 1786, comprised in all three acts. They carried the
action to the point where the king, lonely amid sycophants and
deceivers, sighs for a 'man' to counsel him. The great scene between
Posa and Philip was yet to come in Act IV. The matter already in print
contained more than four thousand verses, and several scenes had only
been sketched in prose. At this rate it was evident that the play would
reach twice the length of a regular tragedy and would be an
impossibility on the stage. Schiller began to see that his impatience of
stage restrictions and his subjective interest in certain situations had
done him an evil turn. He had been deplorably long-winded. And just then
came out a caustic review which showed him that he had committed other
sins than those of prolixity.[67] Nevertheless he did not now have
recourse to that drastic surgery whereby, in the edition of 1801, he
reduced the unwieldy play to more manageable dimensions.[68] Without any
radical revision of the part already in print, he completed the last two
acts as best he could, with Minerva often unwilling. Posa was made to
gain the king's confidence, to become seemingly omnipotent, and in the
pride of his imagined strength to enter upon that desperate game of
intrigue and double-dealing which involves himself and his cause and his
helpless friend, Don Carlos, in final disaster.

Thus St. Real's pathetic tale of love and intrigue had been left far
behind, and out of it had come a tragedy of amiable political idealism,
growing insolent with self-confidence and losing touch with present
realities in its dazzling dream of things to come.

'The soul of Shakspere's Hamlet, the blood and nerves of Leisewitz's
Julius, the pulse of Schiller himself',--this, it will be recalled, was
the original formula for the composition of Prince Carlos. But, alas,
the soul of one of Shakspere's heroes is not so easily purloined, and
Schiller did not succeed well in his proposed larceny. What we find is
not the soul but the situation of Hamlet: a young prince just returned
from the university,--troubled by a strange melancholy,--a mystery to
king and court,--beset by spies whom he sends packing,--visited by a
dear academic friend,--called to a great work to which he feels himself
unequal, and so forth. The parallel is obvious, but it hardly goes
beyond externalities. Nor does the portrait of Carlos owe very much that
is vital to Leisewitz. He gives us, to be sure, a love-sick prince whose
illicit passion unnerves him, and like Carlos Julius has a friend who
admonishes him to be a man. But there the resemblance ends; he has not
the strength to renounce and remains to the end a sentimental weakling.

The truth is that the soul, pulse, blood and nerves of Carlos are simply
Schiller's own. There is no other creation of his into which he put so
much of himself. That feeling of dark despair and dead ambition to which
Carlos gives expression in his first dialogue with Posa is but a poetic
echo of actual experiences.

I too have known a Carlos in my dreams
Whose cheek flushed crimson when he heard the name
Of Freedom. But that Carl is dead and buried,--

sighs the Spanish prince. 'I might perhaps have become great, but fate
took the field against me too early.... Love and esteem me for that
which I might have become under more favorable stars',--writes the
actual Schiller.[69] And just as Carlos throws himself into the arms of
Posa and thinks to find his all in friendship, so Schiller hoped
ineffable things from Koerner. Nowhere else in literature has the
eighteenth-century cult of friendship found such fervid, and in the main
such noble, expression as in 'Don Carlos'.

It may indeed be fairly objected that, in view of what is to come later,
the Carlos of the first act is a little too soft even for the
sentimental age. We are required to have faith in his heroic capacity
for enterprises of great pith and moment. But after his first dialogue
with Posa it is as difficult for the reader or spectator to trust him as
it is for King Philip. His lacrimose raptures over so simple a thing as
a youthful friendship; his abject confession of despair and dependence;
his long-drawn-out revelation of a sick heart, and his morbid craving
for sympathy in a passion which he himself feels to be abominable,--all
this suggests a cankered soul of which there can be little hope. Hamlet
greets the returning Horatio with the simple words:

Sir, my good friend. I'll change that name with you.

The corresponding passage in Schiller runs:

Can it be?
Is't true? Is't possible? 'Tis really thou.
I press thee to my heart and feel the beat
Of thine omnipotent against my own.
Now all is well again.--In this embrace
The sickness of my soul is cured. I lie
Upon my Roderick's neck.

One does not see how such pitiful weakness is all at once to be
converted into manly strength by the mere arrival of a friend; wherefore
that fine saying of Carlos which closes the first act,

Arm in arm with thee,
I hurl defiance at my century,

sounds a trifle bombastic.

So again at his first meeting with Elizabeth, Carlos is distressingly
mawkish. She pictures him, in pitying indignation, as succeeding to the
throne, undoing his father's work and at last marrying herself. Then he
exclaims in sudden horror:

Accursed son! Yes, it is over. Now
'Tis over. Now I see it all so clearly,

and much more of the same purport. But how strange that he should have
brooded for eight moons over his passion without ever having considered
how it might appear to the object of it! His talk here suggests a mental
inadequacy which one is hardly prepared to see change all of a sudden
into heroic resolution.

To be sure it was a part of Schiller's design to represent in Carlos a
process of evolution. Under the influence of manly friendship the puling
sentimentalist was to have his fiber toughened into the stuff that great
men are made of; and so it was quite in order that he should appear at
first as a weakling. But he is too much of a weakling, and the reason is
that Schiller did not foresee the end from the beginning. He thought of
Carlos originally as a hapless youth having a sort of natural right to
rebel. It was a part of the plan, moreover, that he should renounce and
grow strong through renunciation. But this was to come later in the
third act; in the beginning he was to dally with the morbid passion
which was to be his tragic guilt. Now with this conception of the
subject, the portrait of Carlos, just as we have it, fits in very well;
but when the main interest of the play had become political, when the
lawless love had become of no account and the renunciation
everything,--then it was surely an error to introduce Carlos in such a
pitiful plight of soul that faith in him is next to impossible, and the
next moment require us to accept him as a hero.

In fine, one may well wish that Carlos had a little more of the soul of
Hamlet,--leastwise of Hamlet's rough energy of character and saving
sense of humor. But the time is past for thinking to dispose of Schiller
by saying that he was no Shakspere. Enough that he was himself. And
nowhere was he more himself than in just this combination of infinite
soft-heartedness with large manly ambition. When Carlos preaches to his
father that 'tears are the eternal credential of humanity', he utters a
genuine oracle of the sentimental age. And when in the final scene he
appears purified by suffering, master of his selfish passion and all
intent upon that higher good of which he has caught a glimpse, he speaks
again from the heart of Schiller. What a noble figure is Carlos in this
last interview with his mother! What matchless poetry in the lines! And
how genuinely, thrillingly tragic is the ending of the scene!

The teacher of Prince Carlos is the amazing Marquis of Posa. In a
cynical foot-note of the year 1845 Carlyle quotes, with seeming
approval, Richter's comparison of Posa to the tower of a
light-house,--"high, far-shining, empty". But what would Jean Paul have
had? Is it not quite enough for a light-house to be high and
far-shining? One does not see how its usefulness would be enhanced by
filling it with the beans and bacon of practical politics. Here surely
one must side with Schiller and never think of criticising him for not
making his Posa an exponent of political ideas that belong to a later
time. Every age has its dream. Ours is of a people to be made happy by
democratic legislation; Schiller's was of a people to be made happy by
the personal goodness and enlightenment of the monarch. That the one
dream, seen _sub specie aeternitatis_, is any more empty and fatuous
than the other, would be very difficult to prove.

The sentimental imagination of the eighteenth century was fond of
dwelling upon the loneliness of the princely station. Standing above all
other men, occupied habitually with weighty matters of state, surrounded
by self-seeking flatterers and schemers, how was a ruler ever to hear
the truth or to know the blessedness of disinterested friendship? Awful
fate to be thus cut off from tender human affection and compelled to
tread the wine-press alone! And if a prince should really find a friend,
how fortunate for him and his subjects! It was the simple theory of
idealists under the Old Regime that the happiness of a people depended
altogether upon the wisdom and goodness of the king; and in an age when
'feeling was everything' it was natural that goodness of the heart
should count for more than mere sagacity. What the king was believed to
need pre-eminently, was to keep alive his human sympathies; and how
could he do this better than by having some one to love and confide in?

So Schiller provides his Spanish prince with a friend. Our drama seems
to wish to impute to Posa a lovable personality; else how account for
the spell that he casts over all three of the royal personages?[70]
Looked at closely, however, and judged by his conduct rather than by his
fine phrases, he appears anything but lovable. After his death it comes
to light that he is deeply involved in a conspiracy for which the
ordinary name is treason. He has been organizing a combination of
European powers for the purpose of detaching the Netherlands by force
from the Spanish crown. He returns to Spain as an arch-traitor,--with
his pockets full of letters which if discovered would cost him his head.
When one learns this and then thinks back in the light of this
knowledge, his conduct throughout the play appears absolutely
inconceivable; so that one is driven to the conjecture that Schiller did
not think of him all along as an out-and-out traitor, but added this
touch at the last, along with others, for the purpose of accenting his
character as a Quixotic madman.

Up to the fourth act the impression produced by him is that of an
amiable idealist, who has travelled extensively and acquired liberal
ideas of government. He has been shocked by the regime of persecution
and bloodshed in the Netherlands. He cares nothing for Protestantism as
a creed, but he is an apostle of tolerance in the style of Frederick the
Great. He returns to Spain intent upon securing for the Netherlands not
political independence through revolution, but freedom of thought under
the Spanish crown; and this he thinks to accomplish by procuring the
stadholdership for Prince Carlos. Now this being the presupposition, it
was a great thought of Schiller to bring his humane dreamer face to face
with the somber despot, Philip the Second, Let it be granted that Posa's
views of statesmanship, which belong to the Age of Enlightenment, could
hardly have found lodgment in the brain of a chevalier of the 16th
century. The thing is perhaps supposable only in poetry; but there it is
supposable enough, and Schiller need not have troubled himself to argue
away the anachronism. It is the poet's prerogative to mask himself and
his own age in the forms of the fictitious past. He will do it anyway,
no matter how hard he may strive after historical verisimilitude. It is
just as well, therefore, for him to throw away his scruples and stand
boldly on his rights.

From a dramaturgic point of view, indeed, the long political altercation
between Posa and Philip is out of place; it is magnificent, but it holds
up the action to no purpose, and the play goes on as if it had not been.
Schiller was evidently concerned to produce a pendant to the great scene
in 'Nathan the Wise'. Saladin wants truth, Philip wants a man. Both the
prophets prepare themselves for their ordeal in a brief soliloquy. Both
monarchs get their wish, and a friendly relation ensues. Both scenes are
purple patches of didacticism,--the author preaching a sermon to his
contemporaries. Unfortunately Schiller did not have at hand a matchless
fable to make his doctrine concrete and give it human interest. In
places his language is abstract and difficult to follow, but taken as a
whole the scene is admirable in its denotation of Posa's manly
independence and humane philosophy. For a moment the marquis dreams of
accomplishing his purpose by an appeal to the goodness and enlightenment
of the king; and into his appeal he pours all the eloquence of
eighteenth-century humanitarianism. All that the literature of
generations had garnered up; all that lay on the heart of the young
Schiller, in the way of fair hopes for mankind to be realized by humane
and enlightened rulership, finds here immortal expression through the
mouth of Posa.

And then what a revulsion in the last two acts! The great scene of the
third act leaves an impression that the world's affairs are not in such
bad hands after all. Posa does not convince the king's mind, but he
finds his heart and wins his confidence. One has the feeling that, if he
bide his time and use some tact, he can accomplish all that he desires.
But to our amazement he gives up the king and enters upon a desperate
game of double-dealing in which he deceives everybody. He forms the plan
of sending Carlos to the Netherlands as the leader of a revolt. Of this
plan he says nothing to his friend, nor does he tell him of his own new
relation to the king. Instead he wraps himself in mystery and asks
Carlos for his letter-case. This he turns over to the king, and gets a
warrant for the arrest of Carlos. The young prince, suspecting quite
reasonably that he has been betrayed, goes to Eboli for enlightenment.
Here Posa finds him and draws his dagger upon the woman, as if she were
the possessor of some terrible secret,--which in fact she is not. Then
he relents and arrests Carlos without explanation. He now writes a
compromising letter which he knows will cause his own death. Then, after
some delay, he goes to Carlos and tries to explain his strange conduct,
and while he is telling his story the bullet of the king's assassin
finds him. Carlos mourns the Great Departed as a pattern of unexampled
heroic virtue, but one can have little sympathy with the panegyric,
especially after one learns that Posa was a traitor from the beginning.

There would be little profit in discussing the last two acts of 'Don
Carlos' with respect to their inherent reasonableness. It is possible to
frame an intelligible theory of Posa's conduct, but not one which is
perfectly coherent, and least of all one which shall harmonize with the
impression produced by the first three acts. There we have an amiable
idealist, whom we can at least understand; here a madman smitten, like
Fiesco, with a mania for managing a large and dangerous intrigue all in
his own way, and accomplishing his ends by modes of action which seem to
him heroic, but to the ordinary mind utterly preposterous. Thus he
accounts for his failure to confide his plans to Carlos by saying that
he was 'beguiled by false delicacy',--which seems to mean that his
relation to the king was felt by him as a breach of friendship. But how
strange that a man with public ends in view should feel thus under the
circumstances! So too his self-sacrifice is nothing but heroic folly,
since his death in no way betters the chances of Carlos for escape. The
flight would have had a better chance of success had Posa omitted his
heroics altogether and quietly planned to escape with his friend. In
fine, we have to do here with entirely abnormal psychic processes. The
reader and still more the spectator is bewildered by Posa, and does not
know any better than Carlos and the king know how to take him.[71]

Turning now to the portrait of the king we find there too the traces of
a wavering purpose. The original conception was dark as Erebus. In the
first act, more especially in the first act as originally printed, the
King of Spain is painfully suggestive of a wicked ogre swooping in upon
a nursery of naughty children. Such an insanely jealous, swaggering,
domineering, cruel fanatic is too loathsome to be interesting. Then came
the thought, suggested partly by the reading of Brantome and Ferrera, of
presenting Philip's character in a more favorable light and making him
the center of tragic interest,--a thought which was neither given up nor
consistently carried out. In October, 1785, Schiller wrote to Koerner
that he was reading Watson and that 'weighty reforms were threatening
his own Philip and Alva.' The Rev. Robert Watson's history by no means
idealizes Philip, but it credits him with sincerity, vigilance,
penetration, self-control, administrative capacity and a 'considerable
share of sagacity' in the choice of ministers and generals,--not an
altogether mean list of kingly qualities. On the other hand, in
Mercier's book[72] Philip appears as the embodiment of all those
qualities which the Age of Enlightenment regarded as odious in a ruler.
Thus, just as in the case of Fiesco, Schiller found himself pulled this
way and that by his authorities; and the result of his attempt to graft
an impressive monarch upon the stock furnished by St. Real's jealous
husband is a Philip who does not fully satisfy either the historic sense
or the poetic imagination.

For Schiller, of course, a truly great monarch needed to have a tender
heart; so Philip was given certain sentimental traits. He feels the
loneliness of his station. In spite of his seeming coldness the pleading
of Carlos for affection touches him, and he gives orders that henceforth
his son is to stand nearer to the throne. For the purpose of exhibiting
the king's magnanimity we have the anachronistic scene in which he is
made to pardon Medina Sidonia for the loss of the great armada,--an
event which happened twenty years later. Then he becomes suspicious of
Domingo and Alva and longs for an honest man to tell him the truth. And
when the man appears the king is most surprisingly open-minded. 'This
fire', he says to Posa,

Is admirable. You would fain do good,
Just _how_ you do it, patriot and sage
Can little care.

So Philip is a patriot and a sage, glowing with the holy fire of
humanity; and as such he even deigns to explain his policy and to enter
into a contest of magnanimity with Posa. But the large-hearted monarch
of whom we get a glimpse in this scene is soon reduced back to the
jealous husband of St. Real, and his jealousy is closely patterned upon
that of Othello. The Philip of the last two acts is sometimes pitiable,
sometimes repulsive, never great. One is not very much surprised when he
hires an assassin to kill Posa, instead of handing him over to the law.

Of the remaining characters the queen is the most interesting. In her
Schiller for the first time depicts a woman convincingly. His Elizabeth
is perhaps a shade too angelic,--she is an ideal figure like all his
women,--but winsome she certainly is. One is a little startled by the
readiness with which she approves Posa's treasonable plan of a
revolution to be headed by Don Carlos, but in this play the sentiment of
patriotism cuts no figure anywhere. The principal characters are all
occupied with the idea of 'humanity', and are not troubled by any
scruples arising out of national feeling.

Taken as a whole 'Don Carlos' is too complicated to yield an unalloyed
artistic pleasure. It suffers from a lack of simplicity and
concentration. There is material in it for two or three plays. The
double intrigue of love and politics becomes toward the end very
confusing. The confusion is increased by the unexpected turn given to
the character of Posa, and reaches a climax when we learn from the Grand
Inquisitor that _he_ has been pulling all the strings from first to
last, and that the entire tragedy was foreordained in the secret
archives of the Holy Office. The unity of interest is marred by the fact
that in the last two acts the real hero, Don Carlos, drops into the
background as the helpless tool of the incalculable marquis. And Carlos,
too, sometimes acts rather unaccountably; for example, when he supposes
that the wanton _billet-doux_ signed 'E.' can come from the queen, of
whose purity and high-mindedness he has just had convincing evidence.
Then again his conduct toward the Princess Eboli in the love scene is
very singular,--one might say amazing. And there are some other such
defects, which concern the stage more than the reader and which, by
skillful acting and judicious excision, can be reduced to insignificant
proportions. When well played 'Don Carlos' produces a powerful
impression. For the reader it is a noble poem containing a large
ingredient of Schiller's best self.


[Footnote 65: It is printed in Saemtliche Schriften, III, 180.]

[Footnote 66: In the _Teutsche Merkur_ for October, 1782.]

[Footnote 67: In the _Neue Bibliothek der schoenen Wissenschaften_, Vol.
XXXII; reprinted by Braun, "Schiller und Goethe im Urteile ihrer
Zeitgenossen", I, 152 ff.]

[Footnote 68: The fragments published in the _Thalia_ contained 4140
lines; the _editio princeps_ of 1787, 6283; the edition of 1801, this
being the form in which the play is usually read, 5370.]

[Footnote 69: Letter to Reinwald April 14, 1783.]

[Footnote 70: Kuno Fischer, "Schiller-Schriften," I, 217, observes:
"Freilich bedarf die Schauspielkunst um diese Scene [the great scene
between Posa and Philip] so magisch wirken zu lassen, wie das Genie des
Dichters sie erzeugt und gestaltet hat, eines Posa, dem die Natur die
seltensten Gaben verliehen. Jede seiner Bewegungen, jede Geberde, jeder
Ton, ist Anmut und Wohlklang. Er ueberzeugt den Koenig nicht durch den
Inhalt seiner Rede, er ruehrt ihn nicht durch seine Ideen, und doch
gewinnt er ihn voellig, weil er ihn persoenlich bezaubert." The natural
effect of Schiller's words, however, is to give an impression that the
king is moved not solely by Posa's personal charm, but in part by the
idealism of his character.]

[Footnote 71: Perhaps the best possible account of his death is that of
Kuno Fischer, "Schiller-Schriften", I, 215: "Er opfert sich fuer ein
weltgeschichtliches Ideal, das er idyllisch traeumte."]

[Footnote 72: See above, page 169.]


Anchored in Thuringia

Ich musz ein Geschoepf um mich haben, das mir gehoert.
_Letter of 1788_.

The Weimar of Schiller's first acquaintance--arrived there July 21,
1787--consisted of a petty provincial court plus an unsightly village.
The inhabitants numbered about six thousand. Of the space built over
about one-third was occupied by the buildings of the court, much of the
outlying modern Weimar being then under water. The streets were narrow,
muddy lanes, the houses plain and poor. And yet the sluggish little
place, so unprepossessing in all material ways, was already beginning to
assert that claim to glory which has since been conceded to it by all
the world. Princely patronage of art and letters was by no means unknown
elsewhere in Germany, but it was usually a matter of gracious
condescension on the one side and grateful adulation on the other. Very
different in Weimar, where Goethe was not only a member of the Council,
but the duke's most intimate friend and trusted adviser. In his heart
Karl August cared less for aesthetic matters than is often supposed, but
his mother, the Dowager Duchess Amalie, patronized art for the real love
of it. Poetry and music were as the breath of life to her, and her taste
in poetry had been trained by the greatest living master. Aside from
Goethe, two other distinguished writers had found a home in Weimar. The
kindly but changeable Wieland, not really one of the _dii majores_,
but so regarded at the time, had lived there since 1772; Herder, much
more nobly endowed, but less amiable and less popular, since 1776.

At the time of Schiller's advent Goethe was still in Italy, whither he
had gone the previous autumn to find relief from the miseries of
duodecimo statesmanship. Karl August and the reigning Duchess Luise were
also absent, but several minor notables of the court circle had remained
'in town', and the dowager duchess was giving aesthetic teas as usual
in her easily accessible 'castle' at Tiefurt. Wieland and Herder were
likewise at home. On his arrival Schiller was taken charge of by the
Baroness von Kalb, who was awaiting her soul's affinity with feverish
eagerness. Her excitement at seeing him again amounted to a 'paroxysm'
which made her ill for a week. Then she grew better and her emotions
gradually found the level of a friendliness too passionate to be called
Platonic, but not sinful in the lower sense. As for Schiller, he
devotedly let himself be loved and introduced to Weimar society, the
pair making no concealment of their liking for each other. At first he
felt some compunctions on account of the absent husband, who might be
annoyed by gossip. It pleased him to observe, therefore, that in Weimar
such a friendship was taken as a matter of course and treated with
delicacy.[73] 'Charlotte' he wrote to Koerner, 'is a grand, exceptional,
womanly soul, a real study for me and worthy to occupy a greater mind
than mine. With each forward step in our intercourse I discover in her
new manifestations that surprise and delight me like beautiful spots in
a broad landscape.'

For several months he played this unwholesome role of cicisbeo to
Charlotte von Kalb. Then another and very different Charlotte crossed
his path and quickly taught him the better way.

The story of Schiller's gradual adjustment to the Weimar _milieu_ is
told very fully in his frequent letters to Koerner. He called upon Herder
and Wieland, and was received with 'amazing politeness' by the one, with
loquacious cordiality by the other. Herder knew nothing of his writings
and regaled him with idolatrous talk about Goethe. Wieland knew all
about him except that he had not yet seen 'Don Carlos'; criticised his
early plays frankly as lacking in correctness and artistic finish, but
expressed the utmost confidence in him nevertheless. He was received at
Tiefurt, but did not like the dowager duchess: her mind, he reported,
was very narrow; nothing interested her but the sensuous. A few days
later he heard that 'Don Carlos' had been read to a select assembly at
Tiefurt and had not made a good impression; there had been caustic
criticism of the piece, particularly the last two acts, and Wieland, who
was present, had not stood up for it. This led to a coolness toward
Wieland. By the end of three weeks Schiller had despaired of Weimar and
was miserable. He thought of leaving the place in disgust.

In August he spent a week at Jena as the guest of Professor Reinhold,
who was about to begin lecturing upon Kant and was predicting that after
a century the Koenigsberg philosopher would have a reputation like that
of Jesus Christ. Reinhold's enthusiasm led Schiller to read some of
Kant's shorter essays, among which a paper upon universal history gave
him 'extraordinary satisfaction'. From Reinhold came also the assurance
that it would be easy to secure a Jena professorship. The idea did not
at once take hold of him in the sense of becoming a definite purpose,
but it tallied with his inclination. His experience with 'Don Carlos'
had left him in doubt whether the drama was after all his true vocation,
and he had already begun to work fitfully upon a history of the Dutch

So he decided to remain a little longer in Weimar and devote himself to
historical writing; and, this resolution formed, life at once began to
open more pleasantly before him. He saw that he had made the mistake of
taking the Weimar magnates too seriously; of imagining that they were
all sitting in judgment upon him, and that it was of the greatest
importance to win their favor. 'I begin to find life here quite
tolerable,' he wrote early in September, 'and the secret of it--you will
wonder that it did not occur to me before--is not to bother my head
about anybody.' And indeed he had no reason to be disgruntled. Herder
was pleased with 'Don Carlos' and came out in its favor before the
aesthetic tribunal of Tiefurt. Wieland noticed it favorably in the
_Merkur_, spoke flatteringly of it in conversation and declared himself
now convinced that Schiller's forte was the drama. Henceforth the two
men were fast friends and presently Schiller was toying with the thought
of marrying Wieland's favorite daughter. 'I do not know the girl at
all', he wrote, 'but I would ask for her to-day if I thought I deserved
her.'[74] His scruple was that he was too much of a cosmopolitan to be
permanently contented with 'these people'. A simple-minded, innocent
girl of domestic proclivities would not be happy with him.

The autumn passed in quiet work devoted mainly to his 'Defection of the
Netherlands'. The Duke of Weimar came home for a few days towards the
ist of October, but immediately went away again to Holland. Schiller did
not even see him. Evidently there was nothing to be hoped for
immediately in that quarter; he would have to rely upon himself. But he
was now in demand. The _Merkur_ was eager for contributions from his
pen, and so was the _Litteratur-Zeitung_, whose extensive review factory
had been shown him during his sojourn in Jena. Then there was the
comatose _Thalia_, which he determined to revive after New Year's.

In November he spent a few days at Meiningen, where his sister
Christophine was now living as the wife of Reinwald. He saw Frau von
Wolzogen and Lotte (who was about to be married), but Bauerbach had lost
its charm. 'The old magic,' he wrote to Korner, 'had been blown away. I
felt nothing. None of all the places that formerly made my solitude
interesting had anything to say to me.' On his return fate was lurking
for him at Rudolstadt, where his friend, Wilhelm von Wolzogen,
introduced him to Frau von Lengefeld and her two daughters, 'Both
creatures ', Schiller wrote, 'are attractive, without being beautiful
and please me much. You find here considerable acquaintance with recent
literature, also refinement, feeling and intelligence. They play the
piano well, which gave me a delightful evening.' The elder daughter,
Karoline, was married unhappily to a Herr von Beulwitz, from whom she
afterwards separated to marry Wilhelm von Wolzogen. She was a woman of
much literary talent, which found employment later in a novel, 'Agnes
von Lilien', and in her excellent memoir of Schiller. The other daughter
was unmarried and bore the auspicious name of Charlotte.

Lotte von Lengefeld, whose memory Is cherished with idealizing
tenderness by the Germans, was now twenty-one years old,--a demure
maiden whose eyes spake more than her tongue. She had long since won the
heart of the Baroness von Stein, who had introduced her at the Weimar
court and held out to her the hope of becoming a lady-in-waiting to the
Duchess Luise. Goethe was fond of her and did not omit to send her
affectionate greetings from distant Italy. Some time before, she had
spent a year with her mother and sister in Switzerland for the purpose
of improving her French; and on the way home, in the summer of 1784, the
party had caught a glimpse of Schiller in Mannheim. Now the sisters were
living in a sort of idyllic solitude at Rudolstadt, cut off from the
great world, absorbed in their books, their music, and the memories of
that happy year in Switzerland. Karoline von Wolzogen writes, in
speaking of this occasion:

My sister was seemingly in every respect a desirable match for
Schiller. She had a very winsome form and face. An expression of
purest goodness of heart enlivened her features, and her eyes
flashed only truth and innocence. Thoughtful and susceptible to the
good and the beautiful in life and in art, her whole nature was a
beautiful harmony. Of even temper, but faithful and tenacious in her
affections, she seemed created to enjoy the purest happiness.

Making all needful allowance for the partiality of a sister, one cannot
wonder that the visitor went on his way with the feeling that Rudolstadt
might be a good place in which to spend the summer.

The condition of his mind was certainly such as to facilitate the
designs of Providence. In January, 1788, he wrote to Korner as follows:

I am leading a miserable life, miserable through the condition of my
inner being. I must have a creature about me who belongs to me; whom
I can and must make happy; in whose existence my own can grow fresh
again. You do not know how desolate my soul is, how dark my mind;
and all not because of my external fortune,--for I am really very
well off so far as that is concerned,--but because of the inward
wearing out of my feelings.... I need a medium through which I can
enjoy the other blessings. Friendship, taste, truth and beauty will
produce a greater effect upon me when a continual succession of
sweet, beneficent, domestic feelings attune me to joy and warm up my
torpid being.

In mid-winter Lotte von Lengefeld came to Weimar for the social season
and Schiller saw her occasionally with steadily increasing interest.
Their famous correspondence, beginning in February, 1788, is at first
very reserved, very formal and decorous, but soon begins to bewray the
beating of the heart. 'You will go, dearest Fraeulein', writes Schiller
on the 5th of April, as Lotte was about to return to Rudolstadt, 'and I
feel that you take away with you the best part of my present joys.' A
month later she had found him lodgings in the neighboring village of
Volkstedt, and then came a delightful summer idyl, which prolonged
itself until the middle of November,--an idyl not of love-making, for
Schiller could not yet pluck up the courage for that, but of spiritual
comradeship. To quote Karoline again:

Book of the day: