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

The Life and Works of Friedrich Schiller by Calvin Thomas

Part 4 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.

A new life began for Schiller in our house. He had long been denied
the delight of a free, friendly intercourse, and he always found us
susceptible to the thoughts that filled his soul. He wished to
influence us, to teach us what might serve our turn of poetry, art,
and philosophy, and this effort gave to himself a gentle harmonious
disposition.... When we saw him coming to our house in the shimmer
of the sunset, a bright ideal life disclosed itself to our inner
sense. Lofty seriousness and the light gracious winsomeness of a
pure and open soul were always present in Schiller's conversation;
in listening to him one walked as among the changeless stars of
heaven and the flowers of the earth.... Schiller became calmer,
clearer; his appearance and his character more winsome, his mind
more averse to those fantastic views of life which he had hitherto
not been able to banish. A new hope and joy dawned in the heart of
my sister, and I returned, in the happiness of a new inspiring
friendship, to a true enjoyment of life. Our whole social circle
shared in the pleasure of this kindly magic.

The discourse of these amiable truth-seekers turned partly at least upon
the Greeks. Up to this time Schiller had remained virtually ignorant of
the Greek poets, thus missing the best of all sanative influences. He
had absorbed indirectly something of the Hellenism that had been
diffused through the air by Winckelmann, Lessing, Herder and Goethe, but
his knowledge of the Greek language was very rudimentary, and good
translations had not been easily procurable. Thus the glory that was
Greece now came to him with the charm of a new discovery. The poem, 'The
Gods of Greece,' contributed to the _Merkur_ in March, 1788, marks the
beginning of his Hellenizing. A little later Homer fascinated him. A
letter written in August runs thus:

I now read almost nothing but Homer. I have got Voss' translation of
the Odyssey, which is in truth excellent, aside from the hexameters,
which I cannot endure.... For the next two years I have made up my
mind to read no more modern authors.... Not one of them benefits me.
They all lead me away from myself, and the ancients now give me true
enjoyment. At the same time I need them most urgently to purify my
own taste, which through subtlety, artificiality and smartness was
beginning to depart from true simplicity. You will find that
familiar intercourse with the ancients will benefit me exceedingly,
perhaps give me classicity. I shall first study them in good
translations and then, when I almost know them by heart, read the
Greek originals. In this way I expect to play at the study of the
Greek language.

On the 7th of September, 1788, an event occurred: Goethe, who had now
returned from Italy, came to visit the Lengefelds, and Schiller was
introduced to him. For a year he had heard Goethe idolized on every hand
and felt his spirit brooding over the Weimar atmosphere. What he heard
did not please him. The local Goethe-cult, so he wrote to Koerner, was
characterized by a proud, philosophic contempt of all speculation and
investigation. This 'child-like simplicity of mind', this 'resigned
surrender to the five senses', seemed to him a sort of affectation.
Besides this he was irritated by Goethe's prosperity and lordly
independence. At the same time he could not help admiring him as a poet.
The new 'Iphigenie' gave him a 'happy day', though his pleasure was
somewhat marred by the depressing thought that he himself would never be
able to produce anything like it. And so he waited with eager
expectation to see what a personal acquaintance would bring forth. It
brought forth pleasure mixed with dubiety. After that first interview
with the great man he wrote to Korner thus:

On the whole, my idea of him, which was in truth very great, has
not suffered from this personal acquaintance; but I doubt whether
we shall ever come very close to each other. Much that is still
interesting to me has had its day with him. He is so far in advance
of me,--not so much in years but in self-development and experience
of life,--that we shall never come together. And then his whole
being is differently organized from mine. His world is not mine;
our ways of looking at things seem essentially different.
Nevertheless one cannot draw a sure conclusion from such a meeting.
Time will tell.

Upon Goethe the meeting made no impression at all. For him Schiller was
the author of 'The Robbers', a work whose popularity annoyed him. He did
not know, and he took no pains to find out, that Schiller was no longer
in sympathy with the ideas that had found expression in the detested
play. So he held himself aloof and six years passed ere the two men came
together in a friendly intimacy. At the same time there was nothing like
ill-will on Goethe's part. He recognized Schiller's talent, praised 'The
Gods of Greece' and was half pleased with the review of 'Egmont', which
might well have nettled a less Olympian temper. In the fall of 1788 'The
Defection of the Netherlands' was published and favorably received.
About the same time a vacancy occurred in the Jena faculty, and
Schiller's friends proposed him for the position. Goethe took the matter
up with the various governments concerned and met with no opposition.
And so it came about, one day in December, that Schiller, who had
meanwhile taken to translating Euripides and was planning a whole Greek
theater in German, was interrupted by an official notice that he had
been appointed professor of history at Jena and would be expected to
enter upon his duties in the spring. It was only an 'extraordinary'
professorship without salary, but its possibilities as a stepping-stone
were alluring. He decided to accept.

Now came a short season of helpless and comical dismay. 'I would take a
thrashing', he wrote to Koerner, 'if I could have you here for
four-and-twenty hours. Goethe quotes his _docendo discitur_, but these
gentlemen do not seem to know how small my learning is.' To Lotte he
declared that he should feel ridiculous in the new situation. 'Many a
student will perhaps know more history than the professor. Nevertheless
I think like Sancho Panza with respect to his governorship: To whom God
gives an office, to him he gives understanding; and when I have my
island I shall rule it like a nabob.' It was not pleasant to drop his
fascinating studies of the Greek poets and bury himself in learned
sawdust, but the thing was not to be helped. So the winter and spring
were devoted mainly to historical reading. At the same time, however,
'The Ghostseer' was carried along in the now resuscitated _Thalia_, and
the long poem, 'The Artists', was slowly and with infinite revision got
ready for publication in the _Merkur_.

During this period he saw little or nothing of Goethe and steadily
nursed a splenetic determination not to like the man. Passages
in his letters are almost comical in their perversity of
misjudgment. He was exasperated by Goethe's reticence, composure and
self-sufficiency,--qualities which seemed to him to spring out of
calculating egotism. Goethe, so the arraignment ran, was a man who went
on his way serenely dispensing favors, winning love and admiration and
putting people under obligation, but always like a god,--without ever
giving his intimate self or surrendering his own freedom. For his part,
he, Schiller, did not wish to live near such a man, much as he admired
his intellect and valued his judgment. This attitude of his was a great
trial to the Lengefeld sisters, who did not fail to expostulate with
him. But it was of no use. 'I have not time', he declared, 'in this
short and busy life, to attempt a decipherment of Goethe's enigmatic
character. If he is really such a very lovable being, I shall find it
out in the next world, when we shall all be angels.' In fine he was not
yet ripe for an understanding of the Weimar sovereign. He did not see
that Goethe's method was after all a giving of himself, and that the
self thus given was not the worse but the better for having outgrown the
effusive raptures of sentimentalism.

In May the lectures at Jena began with great _eclat_. On the first day
students to the number of five or six hundred flocked to hear the author
of 'The Robbers' expound the difference between the philosophic scholar
and the bread-and-butter professor. It was an inspiring discourse, full
of high idealism and well fitted to inspire the souls of ingenuous
youth, even though they might not quite understand it. The students were
enthusiastic and gave the new professor the unusual compliment of a
serenade. Having decided to begin with a course of free public lectures
upon universal history, he took his duties very seriously, and even
after curiosity had abated he continued, during the first term, to
address a large audience. He had hoped only for prestige, and the game
was quickly won. He was the most popular professor in Jena. All this
time, however, his heart was in Rudolstadt,--with the two sisters to
whom, for a year and a half, he had been writing letters of impartial
Platonic devotion. Late in July he received a hint from Karoline to the
effect that her sister was very much in love with him and that an
understanding might be desirable. Then at last the timorous, cunctatory
worshiper of femininity in the abstract declared himself and prayed to
know if the good news could be true. Lotte assured him that it was; if
she could make him happy she was willing to devote herself to the
enterprise during the remainder of her days.

Now the millennium began. Our celestial dreamer, who had thus been
gently pushed over the threshold by a friendly hand, found himself in a
human paradise much more grateful to the soul than the court of Venus
Urania. He was very, very happy. The black phantoms that had beset his
pathway hitherto,--the depressing sense of loneliness, of having missed
the great prize, of being _de trop_ at the banquet of life, the
occasional promptings of pessimism and misanthropy, the baleful pull of
illicit passion, the selfish hugging of an illusory freedom,--all these
took their flight to return no more. He had found what he
needed--salvation from self through a woman's love. But he did not
behave like other sons of Adam. He continued to address his love-letters
to both sisters impartially, as if the possession of Lotte were after
all to be only a subordinate incident in the preservation of a
triangular spiritual friendship. Sometimes it is 'my dearest, dearest
Karoline', again 'my dearest, dearest Lotte', most frequently 'my
dearest dears'.

At first the trio agreed to keep their momentous secret from _chere
mere_. Schiller was poor and his prospects all uncertain. When he began,
in the fall of 1789, to give lectures that were to be paid for, he found
that his income from students' fees would be insignificant. Lotte had
but a slender portion, and then there was that dreadful _von_ in her
name. To meet this difficulty Schiller procured the title of 'Hofrat'
from the Duke of Meiningen. Then he laid the case before Karl August of
Weimar, who was very sympathetic but also very poor. The best he could
do was to promise shamefacedly a pittance of two hundred thalers by way
of professorial salary. This, with love, was enough. In one of the
noblest letters he ever wrote Schiller now addressed himself to _chere
mere_ who made no objections; and on the 22nd of February, 1790, the
impecunious Hofrat Professor Schiller and his courageous, aristocratic
sweetheart were married.

The work of Schiller in the historical field will be considered by
itself in the next chapter. Before passing on to that subject, however,
let us glance at the more important of the minor writings produced
during the period just traversed.

In 'The Gods of Greece' he strikes with almost clangorous emphasis the
note of pagan aestheticism. The poem sees the world under the aspect of
the Beautiful and regards that as its most important aspect. The Greek
religion, we hear, peopled earth and sky and sea with lovely forms that
gave warmth and color to life and fed the imagination with sensuous
poetry. Nature appeared living, spiritual. Rock and stream and tree had
each its tale to tell, its tale of passionate personal history. The gods
were near, intelligible, sympathetic; and divine gifts were more
precious for being shared by the giver. And as the gods were more human,
so man was more divine. In comparison our modern monotheism is cold,
abstract, mechanical. Instead of a radiant Apollo, we have the law of
gravitation. We have lost the many fair gods of old to enrich One who is
remote, unfathomable, self-sufficient.

Where art thou, beauteous world of story?
Fair morning of a vanished day!
Alas! the magic of thine ancient glory
Lives only in the poet's lay.[75]

It was inevitable that such a frank eulogy of the old gods at the
expense of the Christian Demiurgus should give offense. Count Leopold
von Stolberg put himself at the head of a vociferous opposition by
denouncing the poem in a Leipzig journal as blasphemous, and lamenting
that the author of the noble 'Song to Joy' should have fallen so low.
The modern reader finds it easy to acquit him on the religious
arraignment, since he did not profess to present the claims of
monotheism completely. We are quite willing to judge of poetry as poetry
and to leave it its ancient privilege of passionate overstatement. Of
this privilege Schiller availed himself in the fullest measure, going
quite beyond the bounds of sanity in his idealization of the Greeks,
Well might the indignant Stolberg ask him if he really believed that the
'eternal bonds of the heart were gentler and holier when Hymen tied
them'. Whatever else may be said of them, the amours of the Greeks (gods
and men) were not remarkably strong on the side of gentleness, holiness
and fidelity.

In respect of poetic merit Schiller certainly had the right to his
opinion that 'The Gods of Greece' surpassed his earlier efforts. To
please Wieland he aimed at Horatian correctness, and he came near
hitting the mark. There is no progress toward lightness of touch or
melody of phrasing,--Schiller was not the man for tuneful titillation of
the ear,--but the poem is tolerably free from the bizarre hyperboles
that mar its predecessors. It is intellectual, argumentative, but
suffused at the same time with genuine feeling, and the stanzas have a
stately impressive swing. Goethe was pleased with the poem, but thought
it too long,--a well-founded criticism, since many of the stanzas merely
brought fresh illustrations of the same thought. In his revision
Schiller reduced the twenty-five stanzas of the original version to
sixteen, and at the same time omitted or toned down the lines that had
given offense. In its revised form it is in every way a better poem.

In 'The Artists' we have a sonorous panegyric of Art as the great
teacher and refiner of mankind. The poem shows the influence of Herder's
evolutionary speculations, being in reality nothing less than a
condensed history of civilization. The old Rousseauite point of view is
here completely abandoned. No more girding at the degeneracy of the
'ink-spattering century'! The opening lines glorify the modern man as
the 'ripest son of time, free through reason, strong through laws, great
through gentleness'. Then the sublime creature is admonished not to
forget the goddess who made him what he is:

In industry the bee may scorn thy merits,
In cleverness a worm thy teacher be;
Thy knowledge thou must share with happier spirits,
But Art, O Man, is all for thee.[76]

After this we hear that man entered the land of knowledge through the
morning gate of the beautiful; it was his inchoate art-sense that
developed his understanding. The heavenly goddess Urania, whom we know
here as Beauty and shall one day known as Truth, accompanied him into
the exile of mortality and became his loving nurse, teaching him to live
by her law, free from wild passion and from the bondage of duty. To aid
her in this work she chose a select body of priests, the artists, and
taught them to imitate the fair forms of nature. In the contemplation of
their work savage man was lifted to the heights of spiritual joy and
forgot his gross appetites. He became acquainted with ideals and made
gods and heroes for himself. Then he began to weigh and compare these
ideals and thus arose philosophy and science, which aim in their slow
and halting way to explain the full import of the primeval revelation.
All truth was given in symbols at the beginning, and the artists still
remain the conservators and prophets of the highest spiritual things.

In case of such a metrical disquisition it is not easy to separate the
poetry, which in places is very good, from the intellectual content,
which is not so good from a modern point of view. By the joint aid of
several sciences laboriously piecing together bits of knowledge that
have nothing to do with the goddess Urania, we have learned something of
primitive man, and what we have learned is very much out of tune with
Schiller's dream. He assigns to the aesthetic thrill a larger role than
it has actually played in human history. This, however, is unimportant.
What is more important is that by investing his subject with a nimbus of
poetic mysticism he became one of the founders of the modern Religion of
Art. For the theological revelation of truth he substitutes a secular
revelation of beauty, which, however, was regarded by him as containing
the germs of all truth and virtue. We see him moving toward a theory
that Truth, Beauty and Goodness are one, and that Beauty is the one.
To-day these abstractions, even when written with a capital initial,
have no power to turn the heads of any but a few of the
hyperaesthetical. For Schiller's contemporaries, aweary of rationalistic
narrowness and reaching out after new sources of inspiration, the
Religion of Art had the great advantage of novelty. It laid hold of them
powerfully, remaining, however, a dignified intellectual cult which was
quite compatible with plain surroundings. It was a very different thing
from the later decorative aestheticism.

As poetry 'The Artists' may be said to come under the head of metrical
rhetoric. It quite lacks the simplicity and sensuousness of Milton's
canon, and as for passion, it is florid rather than passionate. It is
however strong in Schiller's strength,--in its vastness of outlook, its
splendid sweep of thought, its magnificent phrase-making. At first
indeed the reader is disturbed and perplexed by the argument. He is
lifted up into the blue mists, far above the plane of the verifiable,
and borne along hither and thither by successive gusts of the poetic
afflatus. Presently he is lost; there is no north and no south. By dint
of review and cogitation he gets his bearings (if he is lucky), but only
to lose them again as he is wafted on through the empyrean. Not until he
has read the poem many times, knows where he is going and is no longer
pestered by the necessity of thinking, can he hope to enjoy the voyage.

The beginning of 'The Ghostseer,' published while Schiller was still in
Dresden, was spoken of in Chapter VIII. His general idea, it would seem,
was to describe an elaborate and fine-spun intrigue devised by
mysterious agents of the Romish Church for the purpose of winning over a
Protestant German prince. But the details had not been very fully
excogitated, and his foremost thought, after all, was simply to
popularize the _Thalia_, which was largely caviare to the general. The
experiment proved moderately successful. Curiosity was excited and
inquiries began to be made. When, therefore, he was ready to resume the
publication of the _Thalia_, in the spring of 1788, he had reason to
regard 'The Ghostseer' as his most valuable asset. He set about
continuing the story, feeling that it was 'miserable daubing' and a
'sinful waste of time'.[77] In this temper he wrote and published a
second installment, which carried the story through what was
subsequently known as the first book. In this installment the hoax of
the ghost scene is cleared up, but the Armenian remains a mystery. The
Prince maintains a sensible, rationalistic attitude, asks many
questions, puts this and that together and finally concludes that
Armenian and Sicilian are two charlatans working In collusion.

Up to this point 'The Ghostseer' is a well-told and readable yarn, with
only just philosophizing enough to give it a touch of dignity. In the
second book it runs off into a quagmire of abstruse speculation,
Schiller had got the idea--and it interested him for personal
reasons--of carrying his hero through a debauch of skepticism. This he
thought would give weight and distinction to the book. So the Prince's
philosophic demoralization is described at tedious length and the story
drops out of sight for a long time. Then it is taken up again and the
Prince falls in love with a beautiful Greek _religieuse_. The portrayal
of this woman aroused another flicker of interest on Schiller's part,
though she too was finally to be unmasked as one of the conspirators.
Then he seems to have tired of 'The Ghostseer' altogether; at any rate
he choked it off suddenly with a 'Farewell', in which nothing is
concluded save that the Prince goes over to the Catholic Church.

From this description it is evident that Schiller's one attempt at
novel-writing is of no great account as a contribution to artistic
fiction. It is a torso consisting of two heterogeneous parts. It is not
a study of life based upon the observation of life, but a tale of
marvelous happenings which are recounted for the purpose of showing
their subtle reaction upon the plastic mind of the Prince. The hero is
taken over a route that was to become very familiar,--the route from a
narrow and gloomy type of Protestantism through liberalism, rationalism,
skepticism, Pyrrhonism, and mental exhaustion to the repose of the
Catholic Church. Of course the story was not to end there, but what the
further developments were to have been one can only guess. Schiller
himself did not think it worth while to enlighten the public, even after
his 'Ghostseer' began to call out imitations and continuations.

In the 'Letters upon Don Carlos', published in 1788, in Wieland's
_Merkur_, Schiller undertook to defend himself against his critics and
to correct some misapprehensions. In temper and style they are
admirable, even when they do not convince. They begin by admitting and
accounting for that seeming incongruity between the first three and the
last two acts, which has always been the gravamen of critical objection
to 'Don Carlos'. After this they attempt to show that such a character
as Posa might very well have existed in the sixteenth century at the
Spanish court. Then we are told that it was not the author's purpose to
depict Carlos and Posa as a pair of ideal friends. For Carlos, indeed,
friendship is everything, but not for Posa. In him the passion for
friendship is everywhere subordinated to the passion for humanity. He is
not to be blamed, therefore, for belying the character of a true friend,
since that is not his dominant and essential character. He regards
Carlos merely as an indispensable tool for his political designs. In his
interview with the king he is carried away by a momentary
enthusiasm,--what he says there is of no importance, his hopes being
really fixed upon Don Carlos. At the beginning of the fourth act he sees
not his personal friend, but the instrument of his political plans, in
awful danger. He resolves to save him for Flanders and for humanity by
sacrificing himself. This is no more unnatural or inconceivable than the
self-sacrifice of Regulus. But Posa wishes to save his friend like a god
and not like a common level-headed Philistine. He has the soul of a
Plutarchian hero, and where two ways present themselves, the most
natural is for him the most heroic. Hence his desperate procedure and
its disastrous consequences.

To all of which one can give but a qualified assent, the difficulty
being that the play is not so constructed as to bring out its author's
intention. The character of Posa in Act IV is a surprise, and a
disagreeable surprise. His conduct may harmonize with a theory of
antique heroism, but it does not grow naturally out of what precedes.
There is no exigency that calls for his heroic foolhardiness. The reader
or the spectator can hardly be supposed to know that the famous tenth
scene in the third act, the longest and most carefully elaborated in the
whole play, does not count. One naturally supposes that it does count,
and the only way it can count is to create a hopeful situation of which
Posa is absolute master. When, therefore, he throws away his advantage
and deliberately plunges his friend into a needless danger, in order to
make an opportunity for rescuing him at the cost of his own life, one
inevitably associates him mentally not with antique heroes but with
modern lunatics.

A man capable of conceiving such a hero as Posa, and defending the
conception as true to life, could hardly be expected to adjust his mind
easily to such a work as Goethe's 'Egmont'. In his review of the play,
published in 1788, Schiller found, indeed, much to praise; but his
general praise was so mixed up with general fault-finding as to produce
upon the Rudolstadt people the impression of a naughty _lese-majeste_.
He divined correctly enough that 'Egmont' was to be regarded as a drama
of character, rather than of plot or of passion. But Egmont's character
seemed to him painfully lacking in 'greatness'. Egmont, so the criticism
runs, really does nothing extraordinary. He is idolized by the people,
but the deeds upon which his fame rests have all been done before the
curtain rises. In the play he appears as a light-hearted cavalier who
affronts us by persistently refusing to take serious things seriously.
In particular the review objected to Goethe's perversion of history in
representing Egmont not as a married man with a large family of children
but as a bachelor with a bourgeois sweetheart. Not that Schiller
regarded the departure from history as reprehensible in itself. The
dramatist has a right to pervert facts for the purpose of exciting
sympathy for his hero; but in this case, Schiller argued, the effect is
to degrade the character of Egmont and thus to alienate sympathy.
Finally the review took exception to Egmont's vision of Freedom In the
form of Claerchen; this, Schiller thought, was a deplorable plunge into
opera at the end of a serious drama.

To adjudicate the issue thus sharply drawn between the two great German
poets would require some preliminary attention to their fundamental
difference of artistic method,--a subject that will concern us in a
subsequent chapter. Here suffice it to remark that Schiller was not
entirely in the wrong. While Goethe was incomparably the more subtle
psychologist, Schiller had the better eye, or rather he cared more, for
that which is dramatically effective, average human nature being such,
as it is. His dramatic instinct told him that Egmont was not a very
powerful stage-play. Its subtle psychology did not impress him so much
as its lack of 'greatness'. And then he had his pique against Goethe and
wished to show the Weimarians that _he_ at least could perceive the
spots on the sun. Goethe's serene comment upon reading the critique was
to the effect that the reviewer had analyzed the moral part of the play
very well indeed, but in dealing with the poetic aspect of it he had
left something to be done by others.[78]

The dramatic fragment, 'The Misanthrope Reconciled', which Schiller
fished up out of his drawer in 1790 and used, _faute de mieux_, to fill
space in the eleventh number of the _Thalia_, was begun, as we have
seen, in Dresden. Possibly the theme may have been suggested at Mannheim
by the problem of staging Shakspere's 'Timon'. At any rate the theme was
congenial for a man who had 'embraced the world in glowing passion and
found in his arms a lump of ice'. At Weimar he returned to it several
times, puzzled over the general plan, added a little here and there, but
finally gave it up as a bad subject for dramatic treatment. The
published fragment is certainly of no great account. It introduces a
misanthrope, Hutten by name, who, as feudal lord, treats his dependents
handsomely out of sheer contempt for them. When they come to thank him
on his birthday, he spurns their gratitude and scolds them, having made
up his mind never to be duped again by any show of human emotion. He has
brought up his beautiful and dutiful daughter to be an angel of mercy
and a paragon of perfection, but he insists that she too shall be a
misanthrope like himself. He makes her swear that she will never marry,
but she shrewdly tacks on the proviso, 'except with papa's consent'. The
exposition shows her duly in love with a cheerful and estimable youth
named Rosenberg; and the problem is: How will Rosenberg manage the
misanthrope? That he was to win somehow is evident from the title.

In his translations from Euripides, which also belong to the period
under consideration, Schiller aimed partly at the improvement of his own
taste. He hoped to familiarize himself with the spirit of the Greeks and
to acquire something of their manner. He thought that they might teach
him simplicity both in expression and in the construction of dramatic
plots; and he felt that his style was in need of their chastening
influence. Of 'The Phoenician Women' he translated about one-third, but
omitted the choruses entirely; of the 'Iphigenia in Aulis' he translated
nearly the whole text, rendering the choruses very freely in rimed lines
of uneven length and varying cadence. His work reads smoothly and gives
the general effect of Euripides, but cannot count as good translation.
It was not only that his Greek scholarship was deficient, but he lacked
patience,--an indispensable virtue for the translator. His real original
was not the Greek text at all, but the Latin version of Joshua Barnes;
and when this appeared to him jejune and unpoetic he sometimes created
an original of his own.

The other minor writings of the years 1788 and 1789 may be passed over
as of little significance. On the poetic side there were three or four
occasional poems, and also the rimed epistle called 'The Celebrated
Wife', in which the unfortunate husband of a literary lady pours out the
tale of his domestic woes. In prose there were several perfunctory
reviews contributed to the _Litteratur-Zeitung_, and also an
anecdote--exhumed from an old chronicle and retold for the
_Merkur_--relating to a breakfast given to the Duke of Alva by the
Countess of Schwarzburg in the year 1547. To these may be added,
finally, the short story entitled 'Play of Fate,' also published in the
_Merkur_, which describes, under a thin disguise of fictitious names,
the rise and fall and rehabilitation of Karl Eugen's former minister,
P.H. Rieger.[79]


[Footnote 73: Letter of July 28, 1787, to Koerner.]

[Footnote 74: Letter of Nov. 19, 1787.]

[Footnote 75: In the original, lines 145-8, of the earlier version:

Schoene Welt, wo bist du?--Kehre wieder,
Holdes Blueltenalter der Natur!
Ach! nur in dem Feenland der Lieder
Lebt noch deine goldne Spur.]

[Footnote 76: In the original:

Im Fleisz kann dich die Biene meistern,
In der Geschicklichkeit ein Wurm dein Lehrer sein,
Dein Wissen teilest du mit vorgezogenen Geistern,
Die Kunst, O Mensch, hast du allein.]

[Footnote 77: Letter of March 17, to Koerner.]

[Footnote 78: Letter of Oct. 1, 1788, Goethe to Karl August.]

[Footnote 79: See above, page 135.]


Historical Writings

Der Mensch verwandelt sich und flieht von der Buehne, seine Meinungen
verwandeln sich und fliehen mit ihm; die Geschichte allein bleibt
unausgesetzt auf der Buehne, eine unsterbliche Buergerin aller
Nationen und Zeiten.--_First lecture at Jena_.

Schiller's merit as a writer of history has been much discussed and very
differently estimated by high authorities. In general one may say that
his historical writings have fared at the hands of experts very much
like the scientific writings of Goethe; both being treated as the rather
unimportant incursions of a poet into a field which he had not the
training or the patience to cultivate with the best results. Niebuhr's
adverse opinion is well known and has often been echoed in one form or
another by later critics. On the other hand, lovers of the poet are very
apt to overestimate the historian, who would probably be seldom heard of
to-day If he had not achieved immortal fame by his plays and poems. As
it is, his historical writings have become, for better or worse, a part
of the classical literature of Germany, and as such we have to reckon
with them.

And the best way to reckon with them is to describe them as objectively
as possible and to consider them in relation to the intellectual
tendencies of Schiller's own time. We shall see that he began a history
of the Dutch Rebellion without knowing Dutch or Spanish, and without
spending any time in a preliminary study of the original sources of
information.[80] His 'History of the Thirty Years' War' was a
bread-winning enterprise, hastily executed for a ladies' magazine. For
neither work did he draw a full breath. To compare him, therefore, with
the modern giants of research, would be quite absurd; and the more
absurd since Schiller the historian, unlike Goethe the scientist, was
extremely modest in his self-estimate and fully aware of his limitations
on the side of scholarship.

Of the qualities that go to the making of a great historian he had
two,--the philosophic mind and the vivid imagination. But he lacked the
spirit of the investigator and had not a sufficient reverence for the
naked fact. History interested him for the sake of his theories and his
pictures, and rhetoric was his element. This being so it is not strange
that we get from him now and then a distorted image. Great movements
and prominent characters are depicted by him in accordance with his
freedom-loving, cosmopolitan preconception; and his study was not to
correct this preconception by a survey of all the evidence, but rather
to select that which would confirm his view in a striking manner. On
the whole, however, the tale of his positive error, as brought to light
by the critics, is not as large as one might expect. This chapter will
not deal with it at all, but rather with his general method and point
of view.[81]

'The Defection of the Netherlands' was begun in the summer of 1787 and
grew out of the reading of Watson's 'Philip the Second'. This book
impressed Schiller strongly and he attributed its fascination to the
working of his own imaginative faculty. He wished that others might see
and feel what he had seen and felt. So he began to retell the story in
his own way, intending at first only a brief sketch. As he proceeded, he
found gaps and contradictions and isolated facts of obscure import. He
began to consult the authorities, not so much to increase his store of
information as to clear up his doubts. In this way the intended sketch
expanded ideally into a six-volume treatise which should present the
history of the Netherlands from the earliest times down to the
establishment of their independence. Of the _magnum opus_ thus planned
the first volume, the only one that was ever written, appeared in the
autumn of 1788, in three books. The first book sketched the history of
the Low Countries down to the Spanish domination; the second dealt with
the regency of Margaret of Parma, and the third with the conspiracy of
the nobles, ending with the supersession of Margaret by the Duke of
Alva, in 1567. Thus the most dramatic period of the great struggle was
not reached. Subsequently, however, the narrative was supplemented by
two separate pictures, 'The Death of Egmont' and 'The Siege of Antwerp,'
which in the edition of 1801 were first printed with the history.

Letters of Schiller indicate that for a while at least he was very
enthusiastic in his new pursuit. He found in the seeming capriciousness
of history a constant challenge to the philosophic mind, and he enjoyed
the imaginative exercise of investing the dry bones with muscles and
nerves. It struck him that the inner necessity was much the same in
history as in a work of art. He even went so far as to contend that the
fame of the historian was on the whole preferable to that of the poet,
and to express the opinion that his own nature was more akin to that of
Montesquieu than to that of Sophocles. He felt that he was getting new
ideas and expanding his soul at every step. 'Really,' he wrote to Koerner
in 1788, 'I find each day that I am pretty well suited to the business I
am now carrying on. Perhaps there are better men, but where are they? In
my hands history is becoming something in many respects different from
what it has been.'

And so it really was. In point of readableness 'The Defection of the
Netherlands' is vastly superior to any previous historical writing in
the German language. The stately march of its paragraphs, each bearing
the impress of a serious and lofty mind; the care with which seemingly
small matters are logically connected with great issues, the mingling of
philosophic reflection with the narrative,--all this gave to the work an
air of literary distinction. It was actually interesting, and this was
much in a land that had no historical classics whatsoever. To be
interesting was what Schiller frankly aimed at; he wished to 'convince
one portion of his readers that history might be written with fidelity
to the facts, but without becoming a trial to the reader's patience; and
another portion that it might borrow something from a kindred art
without becoming romance'. And he succeeded. In reading him it is easy
to see that the poetic habit of conceiving his characters to fit a
preconceived scheme, his vivid imagination, his love of sharp contrasts,
telling analogies and broad generalizations, occasionally distort the
true relation of things. He was an artist rather than a scholar, and one
must e'en accept him as such. A letter to Karoline von Beulwitz puts the
matter thus:

I shall always be a poor authority for any future investigator who
has the misfortune to consult me. But perhaps at the expense of
historic truth I shall find readers, and here and there I may hit
upon that other kind of truth which is philosophic. History is in
general only a magazine for my fancy, and the objects must content
themselves with the form, they take under my hands.

The animating Idea of 'The Defection of the Netherlands' is the same
that Goethe found running through all the writings of Schiller--the idea
of freedom. From the days of his youth 'freedom', however
unphilosophically he might think about it, had connoted for his
imagination the highest and holiest interest of mankind; and when he
began his first historical work his enthusiasm had not yet been sicklied
o'er by the events of the Paris Terror. He saw in the Dutch revolt a
glorious battle for liberty; the struggle of a small trading population
against the proudest, richest and most powerful monarch of the century;
a cause seemingly hopeless at first, but growing stronger through pluck,
union, tenacity and wise leadership, until the Spanish Goliath was
completely beaten. It was magnificent and Schiller desired that his
countrymen should feel its magnificence and take to heart its lesson. So
he adorned his title-page with an emblem of freedom,--a broad-brimmed
hat and a feather upon a pole,--and began his treatise with a
bugle-blast that left no doubt of his purpose: 'I have thought it worth
while to set up before the world this fair monument of civic
strength, in order to waken in the breast of my people a joyous
self-consciousness, and to give a fresh and pertinent example of what
men may venture for a good cause and may accomplish by united action.'

A remarkable passage of the introduction runs as follows:

Let no one expect to read here of towering, colossal men, or of
amazing deeds such as the history of earlier times offers in such
abundance. Those times are past, those men are no more. In the soft
lap of refinement we have allowed the powers to languish which those
ages exercised and made necessary. With humble admiration we gaze
now at those gigantic forms, as a nerveless old man at the manly
sports of youth. Not so in the case of this history. The people that
we here see upon the stage were the most peaceful in this part of
the world, and less capable than their neighbors of that heroic
spirit which gives sublimity to even the most paltry action. The
pressure of circumstances surprised this people into a knowledge of
their own strength, forcing upon them a transitory greatness which
did not belong to them and which they perhaps will never again
exhibit. So then the strength they manifested has not vanished from
among us, and the success which crowned their desperate adventure
will not be denied to us if, in the lapse of time, similar occasions
call us to similar deeds.

One sees from this that Schiller is, halting between the poetic and the
scientific view of the past, uncertain which way to set his face. The
poet in him is inclined to idealize the brave days of old and to mourn
that the ancient giants are no more. At the same time he finds that the
struggle of the Low Countries, while not 'heroic', was very remarkable,
very instructive and very inspiring. From this observation it is but a
step to the recognition of the truth that it is his own conventional
notion of 'heroism' that needs revising; that the giants of yore were no
taller than those of to-day and that the world's supply of courage and
devotion is not running low. It is an interesting fact that the sentence
beginning, 'So then the strength they manifested,' was omitted by
Schiller from the edition of 1801, possibly because the horrors of the
Revolution had put him out of humor with fighting. But he might well
have allowed the words to stand. Their truth was soon to be memorably
proved by the German uprising against Napoleon.

A German writer[82] remarks correctly that Schiller occupies with Kant a
middle stage between the older pragmatic historians, upon whom Faust[83]
pours his scathing ridicule, and the later school of Ranke, whose
principle was to extinguish self and simply tell what happened and how.
He does not moralize like his predecessors, nor is he guilty of treating
the distant past with patronizing condescension. At the same time he
wishes to instruct and does not hesitate to point out where the
instruction is to be found. He aims to be impartial to the extent of
giving both sides a hearing, but he imputes motives freely and does not
pretend to extinguish self. Probably the effort to do so would have
seemed to him absurd. His sympathy is of course with the Netherlanders,
but he writes as a philosophic champion of freedom rather than as a
partisan of Protestantism. His concern is not to excite indignation at
the colossal wickedness of Philip and Alva, but to show up their
colossal folly. As we should expect he devotes his best powers to his
portraits, some of which,--as those of Margaret, Granvella, Egmont and
Orange,--are deservedly famous. At the same time they are subject to
correction from the documents. Thus the crafty politician, William the
Silent, in whom there was very little of the strenuous idealist, is
presented as a 'second Brutus, who, far above timid selfishness,
magnanimously renounces his princely station, descends to voluntary
poverty, becomes a citizen of the world and consecrates himself to the
cause of freedom'.

From what has been said it is clear that Schiller regarded the writing
of history as essentially an exercise of the creative imagination. And
such in a sense it really is and always must be, since no historian can
divest himself of his own personality. He will inevitably see the events
with his own eyes and put his own construction upon them. His very
arrangement of his materials, his distribution of lights and shades, his
selection of the matters to be recorded and commented upon, will involve
a subjective coloring of his narrative. This being so, one cannot
reasonably criticize Schiller for having his point of view, but only for
taking too little trouble in the gathering and verification of his
facts. He did not think it important to study his subject from
first-hand sources of information. He quotes more than a score of
authorities in Latin, French and German, but he uses them quite
uncritically, and chiefly, it would seem, to give his work a semblance
of learning. The facts were for him nothing but the raw material of
history; the important thing was their philosophic truth, that is, the
intellectual formula that should explain them. In our day we have grown
distrustful of the 'philosophy of history', especially of any philosophy
that does not rest upon a basis of long and thorough investigation.

'The Defection of the Netherlands' was very favorably received by the
German public. Its merits lay on the surface, while its defects were not
patent to the casual reader. Every one felt that Schiller had set a new
pattern for historical composition. In his hands history had become
literature. With such an achievement to his credit it was natural that
his _debut_ in Jena should be looked forward to in academic circles as a
great occasion. Feeling that much would be expected of him he prepared
with great care his inaugural discourse upon the study of universal
history. The address, which was subsequently published in the _Merkur_,
begins with a vigorous elucidation of the difference between the
bread-and-butter scholar and the philosophic thinker. The former is
depicted in caustic terms as a narrow, selfish, timorous time-server. He
is the enemy of reform and discovery, because he is forever dreading
that the enlargement of the human outlook may disturb his little private
routine. He cares for truth only so far as it can be turned to his
personal gain in the form of money, praise or princely favor. The
philosophic thinker, on the other hand, is a joyous lover of his kind.
Feeling the essential solidarity of all knowledge he seeks ever for the
unifying principle. He loves truth for its own sake. Every advance of
knowledge is welcome to him, and he willingly sees his private edifice
go to ruin for the joy of building a new and better one. Then the
lecture proceeds to describe the splendid progress of the human race.
The task of universal history is declared to be the explanation of this
evolutionary process. It must show how all things hang together, and,
selecting for description those portions of the record which have a more
obvious bearing upon the present form of the world, it must seek to
bring home to the modern man the full import of his heirship.

In this address we begin to trace the influence of Kant, whose 'Idea of
a Universal History in a Cosmopolitan Spirit', published in 1784, was
read by Schiller with great interest. The leading thoughts of this
memorable paper, new then but very familiar now, are that the race and
not the individual is nature's concern in her scheme of man's
perfectibility; that the only perfection and happiness possible to him
are those which he creates for himself by the progressive triumph of
reason over instinct; that the fighting-spirit, antagonisms, wars, the
madness and the calamity of the individual, are the necessary condition
of race-progress; that the goal is a just civil society, which in turn,
since man is an animal that needs a master, is inseparable from the idea
of a law-governed state. Thus, while Herder's formula for the great
evolutionary process was the upbuilding of the individual man to
humanity, that of Kant was the preparation of man for a free citizenship
which should ultimately embrace the world.

By the general bent of his mind Schiller was nearer to the humane
idealism of Herder than to the law-governed collectivism of Kant. At the
same time we can see from many a sentence in his inaugural address that
the far more rigorous logic of the Koenigsberg philosopher had had its
effect upon him. In particular he was captivated by the idea that the
individual exists for the sake of the race, and that the gruesome
antagonisms of history are therefore to be regarded with composure as
the birth-pains of the modern man. A striking passage of the lecture
runs thus:

History, like the Homeric Zeus, looks down with the same cheerful
countenance upon the bloody works of war and upon the peaceful
peoples that innocently nourish themselves upon the milk of their
herds. However lawlessly the freedom of man may seem to operate upon
the course of the world, she gazes calmly at the confused spectacle;
for her far-reaching eye discovers even from a distance where this
seemingly lawless freedom is led by the cord of necessity....
History saves us from an exaggerated admiration of antiquity and
from a childish longing for the past. Reminded by her of our own
possessions we cease to wish for a return of the lauded golden age
of Alexander or of Caesar.

From this way of thinking it seems but a span to the modern scientific
point of view; for that, however, neither Schiller nor Kant was ripe,
since both thought it necessary to assume that human history began about
six thousand years ago and began substantially as reported in Genesis,
however the original authentic tradition might have been incrusted with
spurious supernaturalism. The explanation of society thus resolved
itself for them into the problem of a rational interpretation of the
Bible. Kant believed, like Rousseau, in an original paradisaic
condition, in which man had lived as a happy, peaceful animal. But while
man's emergence from that state was regarded by Rousseau as a disaster,
the selfish passions, with their resulting antagonisms, were conceived
by Kant as the _sine qua non_ of rational development. This thought,
with its corollaries, was set forth by Kant in an essay of the year
1786, entitled 'Conjectural Beginning of Human History'. The Fall is
there explained as a good thing, the story in Genesis being interpreted
as a symbol of the emergence of man from the estate of a peaceful but
instinct-governed animal to that of a quarrelsome but rational being.
Kant's line of reasoning interested Schiller deeply, and in 1790 he
published in the _Thalia_ a paper upon the same general subject. It was
entitled 'Something about the First Human Society on the Basis of the
Mosaic Record'.

Portions of this essay, with its naive license of affirmation, would
make a modern anthropologist shudder. It begins with a description of
the original paradise, from which the infant man was to be led forth
into life by Providence, his watchful nurse. To quote a few words:

By means of hunger and thirst She showed him [let us keep the
feminine providence of the German] the need of nourishment; what he
required for the satisfaction of his needs She had placed around him
in rich abundance; and by the senses of smell and taste She guided
him in his choice. By means of a mild climate She had spared his
nakedness, and through a universal peace round about him She had
secured his defenceless existence. For the preservation of his kind
provision was made in the sexual impulse. As plant and animal man
was complete.... If, now, we regard the voice of God which forbade
the tree of knowledge as simply the voice of instinct warning man
away from this tree, then the eating of the fruit becomes merely a
defection from instinct, that is, the first manifestation of
rational independence, the origin of moral being; and this defection
from instinct, which brought moral evil into the world, but at the
same time made moral good possible, was incontestably the happiest
and greatest event in the history of mankind.

It has seemed worth while to linger a moment over these two rather
unimportant productions for the sake of the light they throw on
Schiller's general attitude. One sees that remote antiquity has lost in
his eyes something of its old poetic glamour. He is content to explain
it like any rationalizing professor. The past interests him mainly for
the sake of the present, and of the present he now has a very good
opinion,--especially of the Goddess of Reason. He did not know what a
terrible trial was preparing for this goddess and her self-complacent
worshippers. Ere long he himself was destined to lose a little of his
buoyant faith in her and to become in part responsible for the apostasy
of many. For the present, however, it was no inchoate Romanticism, but
a publisher's enterprise, that led him into the study of the Middle
Ages. He had undertaken to edit a great 'Collection of Historical
Memoirs'. There were to be several volumes each year for an indefinite
time; the volumes to consist of translations from various languages and
to cover European history from the twelfth century down. Schiller was
to supervise the undertaking and furnish the needful introductions. His
plans were presently thwarted by illness and then by his increasing
interest in philosophic studies; so that after the first few volumes
had appeared he withdrew and left the continuation of the 'Memoirs' to
other hands.

Of his various contributions to the initial volumes of the 'Historical
Memoirs' a part are mere hack-work and therefore devoid of biographical
interest. Somewhat different is the case with an elaborate account of
the crusades, in which he attempts to show that that great medieval
madness,--so it was regarded by the Age of Enlightenment,--was 'in its
origin too natural to excite our surprise and in its consequences too
beneficent to convert our displeasure into a very different feeling'.
The general argument is that the ancient civilizations were dominated by
the idea of the state; they produced excellent Greeks and Romans but not
excellent men. The prestige of the despotic states was destroyed by the
great migrations, but it was the crusades which first taught the nations
to subordinate patriotism to a higher and broader sentiment. It was then
that men learned to fight for an idea of the reason,--for the truth as
they saw it. And thus the crusades prepared the way for the Reformation.
The interest of the essay lies not in the vigor of its logic, which is
lame here and there, but in the evidence it affords of Schiller's
increasing respect for the Middle Ages. And he went further still. In a
preface which he wrote in 1792, for a German translation of Vertot's
work on the Knights of Malta, we find a passage which sounds very much
like Inchoate Romanticism:

The contempt we feel for that period of superstition, fanaticism and
mental slavery betrays not so much the laudable pride of conscious
strength as the petty triumph of weakness avenging itself in
unimportant mockery for the shame wrung from it by superior
merit.... The advantage of clearer ideas, of vanquished prejudice,
of more subdued passions, of freer ways of thinking (if we really
can claim this credit), costs us the great sacrifice of active
virtue, without which our better knowledge can hardly be counted as
a gain. The same culture that has extinguished in our brains the
fire of fanatical zeal has also smothered the glow of inspiration in
our hearts, clipped the wings of our sentiment, and destroyed our
doughty energy of character.... Granted that the period of the
crusades was a long and sad stagnation of culture, and even a
return, of Europe to its former barbarism; still, humanity had
clearly never before been so near to its highest dignity as it was
then,--if indeed it is a settled doctrine that the essence of man's
dignity is the subordination of his feelings to his ideas.

We see that Schiller, though he was in no danger of becoming a renegade
on the main issue, had his moods of disgust, as Goethe and Herder had
had before him, at the shallow self-complacency of the Age of

In comparison with these disconnected and more or less perfunctory
studies, the 'History of the Thirty Years' War' seems like a large
undertaking. But it was not so conceived at first. While 'The Defection
of the Netherlands' is the fragment of a great project, the 'Thirty
Years' War' is the expansion of a small one. We first hear of it in a
letter of December, 1789, wherein Schiller, just then casting about
eagerly for possibilities of income, informs Koerner that he is to have
four hundred thalers from Goeschen for an 'essay' upon the Thirty Years'
War, to be published in the 'Historical Calendar for Ladies'. He
felicitates himself that the labor will be light, since the material is
so abundant and he is to write only for amateurs. The following spring
he took up his task, which then grew upon his hands as he proceeded. Two
books were printed in the 'Calendar' for 1791, a third in 1792, the
fourth, and also a separate book-edition, in 1793. It met with great
favor, the sales running up to seven thousand, and the author winning
the name of Germany's greatest historian.

And, indeed, it does exhibit Schiller's historical style at its best,
there being here, in comparison with his earlier work, somewhat less of
heavy philosophical ballast. The narrative moves more lightly. There is
this time not even a pretense of erudite scholarship. He does not quote
authorities, rarely indulges in polemic, avoids tedious 'negotiations'
and all political disquisitions which might be dull reading to the
'female fellow-citizens' for whom he writes. He endeavors merely to tell
his complicated story in a lucid and interesting manner. The third book,
which describes the career of Gustav Adolf from the great battle of
Breitenfeld, in 1631, to his death at Luetzen in the following year, is
an admirable specimen of vivid historical writing. It may well be
doubted whether any successors of Schiller have surpassed him in the art
of narrating, though they may have been able to correct him here and
there in matters of fact. What a telling description, for example, is
that of the desperate charge at Luetzen just after the death of the
Swedish king!

In his last historical work, just as in his first, the burden of
Schiller's thought is evermore the idea of freedom. The Thirty Years'
War is conceived by him as the successful struggle of German liberty
against Hapsburg imperialism. Upon the abstract merits of the religious
controversy he has little to say; the subject evidently does not
interest him. He does indeed make himself the champion of Protestantism,
but only because Protestantism is identified in his mind with the august
cause of liberty. The Protestant princes fought, he tells us, for what
they took to be the truth,--whether it really was the truth does not
matter. Their motives were not always lofty and their historian is not
in the least concerned to hide or to gloss over their frequent venality
and selfishness. His point of view is that they fought for a higher good
than that which their eyes were fixed upon, and this higher good was the
advancement of free cosmopolitanism, 'Europe', he writes in his
introductory reflections, 'emerged unsubdued and free from this terrible
war in which, for the first time, it had recognized itself as a
connected society of states; and this interest of the states in one
another, to which the war first gave rise, would alone be a sufficient
gain to reconcile the citizens of the world to its horrors. The hand of
industry has gradually obliterated the evil effects of the struggle, but
its beneficent consequences have remained.'

Our historian, it is plain, was very firmly convinced that his own
cosmopolitanism was a European finality and was worth all that it had
cost. What would he have said if he could have looked ahead a hundred
years and beheld the nations still snarling at each other's heels in the
same old way!

It is pertinent to observe in this connection that Schiller's enthusiasm
for liberty is quite unaffected by the 'ideas of 1789'. Neither in his
letters nor elsewhere does he manifest any strong sympathy with the
revolutionary aims of the French democracy. Liberty is for him the
perfect fruitage of the benevolent despotism. It is something that
concerns the prince in his relation to some other prince, rather than in
relation to his own subjects. Of the German people at the time of the
Thirty Years' War he has but little to say, his thoughts being fixed
always upon the leaders. His great hero is Gustav Adolf, whom he regards
at first as the unselfish champion of German freedom. Little by little,
however, the portrait of the king undergoes a change: the ideal knight
of Protestantism shades off into the earthy politician and selfish
conqueror. And when at last death overtakes him his historian is
prepared to admit that the event was fortunate for his own royal renown
and for the welfare of Germany. A part of his final estimate runs thus:

Unmistakably the ambition of the Swedish monarch aimed at such power
in Germany as was incompatible with the freedom of the Estates, and
at a permanent possession in the heart of the Empire. His goal was
the Imperial throne; and this dignity, supported and made efficient
by his activity, was in his hands liable to far greater abuse than
was to be feared from the race of Hapsburg. A foreigner by birth,
brought up in the maxims of absolutism, and in his pious enthusiasm
a declared enemy of all papists, he was not the man to guard the
sanctuary of the German constitution, or to respect the freedom of
the Estates.

After the death of Gustav Adolf the focus of interest is Wallenstein,
and when Wallenstein is disposed of the history soon becomes a lean and
hurried summary, the perfunctory character of which Is quite obvious to
the reader.


[Footnote 80: It is to be taken into consideration that the 'sources',
as the word is now understood, were for the most part inaccessible in
the eighteenth century.]

[Footnote 81: The subject which is here necessarily treated in a general
way is discussed much more fully and with admirable balance by K.
Tomaschek, "Schiller in seinem Verhaeltnis zur Wissenschaft", Wien, 1862.
Another excellent book, if used with some care, is J. Janssen's
"Schiller als Historiker", Freiburg, 1879.]

[Footnote 82: Otto Brahm, "Schiller", II, 209.]

[Footnote 83:

Was ihr den Geist der Zeiten heiszt,
Das ist im Grund der Herren eigner Geist
In dem die Zeiten sich bespiegeln.--_'Faust', lines 577-8_.]


Dark Days Within and Without


Zu einer Zeit, wo das Leben anfing, mir seinen ganzen Wert zu
zeigen, wo ich nahe dabei war, zwischen Vernunft und Phantasie in
mir ein zartes und ewiges Band zu knuepfen,... nahte sich mir der
Tod.--_Letter of 1791._

The year 1790 was the happiest of Schiller's life. For a little while,
at last, fate became supremely kind to him. The reality of wedlock more
than fulfilled his dreams, and it seemed as if all his vague _malheur
d'etre poete_ were about to be buried in the deep bosom of connubial
beatitude. 'We lead the blessedest life together', he wrote to
Christophine Reinwald in May, 'and I no longer know my former self.' And
a month later to Wilhelm von Wolzogen: 'My Lotte grows dearer to me
every day; I can say that I am just beginning to prize my life, since
domestic happiness beautifies it for me.' His income, indeed, was
pitifully small, but his courage was great, his fame well grounded, and
there were prospects here and there. From the first he had regarded the
Jena professorship only as a makeshift. To bring variety into his
academic routine he began, in the summer term of 1790, to lecture upon
the theory of tragedy, developing the subject from his own brain and
paying little attention to the authorities. In the autumn these lectures
were resumed, and soon the aesthetic philosopher began to prevail over
the historian.

And now came his great calamity. In reading the later writings of
Schiller, whether philosophical or poetical, it is difficult to imagine
them the work of an invalid, produced in the intervals of physical
suffering such as would utterly have broken the courage of a less
resolute man. But so it was. The early winter of 1791 brought with it a
disastrous illness which shattered his health, doomed him for the rest
of his days to an incessant battle with disease and finally carried him
away prematurely at the age of forty-five.

Among the acquaintances that he had made through his connection with the
Lengefeld family was a little group of people in Erfurt. There were
Karoline von Dacheroeden and her lover, Wilhelm von Humboldt, who was
destined to become Schiller's intimate friend and also his faithful
comrade in the field of aesthetic philosophizing. Then there was the
influential Baron Karl Theodor von Dalberg, a brother of the Mannheim
intendant. This elder Dalberg, who some years later became dubiously
prominent in connection with Napoleon's Confederation of the Rhine, was
now residing at Erfurt as Coadjutor to the Elector of Mainz and
expecting to become Elector himself on the death of his superior. He was
an energetic, good-natured man, not free from ostentatious fussiness,
and he enjoyed the role of Maecenas. In Schiller and Lotte he took a
deep interest, promising to do something handsome for them when he
should come to power at Mainz. While spending his vacation with these
Erfurt friends, at the close of the year 1790, Schiller took a cold
which brought on an attack of pneumonia. An Erfurt doctor treated the
case lightly and unskillfully and sent him back half cured to Jena,
where he resumed his lectures. Now came a second and sharper attack,
with hemorrhage and other alarming symptoms. The doctors operated upon
him as best they knew, with leeches and phlebotomy and purgatives and
vomitives, and came very near killing him. For days he lay at the point
of death, a few faithful students sharing the young wife's anxious vigil
at his bedside. His convalescence was slow and in the end imperfect,
leaving him with wasted strength, a pain in the right lung and a serious
difficulty in breathing. Of course it was all up with his lecturing; but
he easily obtained a release for the summer term from the sympathetic
Duke of Weimar. In March he was well enough to take up the reading of
Kant's then recently published 'Critique of the Judgment', and a little
later to try his hand at translating from the Aeneid in stanzas and to
write a rejoinder to the 'anticritique' of the aggrieved Buerger.

This unfortunate feud with Buerger grew out of a magisterial review
published by Schiller in 1791; a review which, while dignified in tone
and purporting to speak solely in the interest of the lyric art,
amounted to a scathing condemnation of Buerger's character. After
expatiating upon the high vocation of the poet, the necessity of his
thinking and feeling nobly, and the importance of his giving only his
idealized self, the anonymous critic proceeded to comment upon Buerger's
frequent lapses from good taste, his crudities, indecencies and vulgar
ding-dongs, and to refer these things with remorseless directness to
personal defects. The criticism was just and had all the other merits
save discretion and urbanity, Goethe was pleased with it before he knew
who wrote it,[84] and eleven years later Schiller saw nothing in it to
change. In writing it, as a matter of fact, he was only breaking the rod
over his own early self; for in his Stuttgart 'Anthology' he had
committed nearly every sin for which now, from the serene heights of a
better artistic insight, he castigated his victim. To poor Buerger, whose
life was just then bitter enough at the best, the review was a terrible
blow. He at once published a reply, which is also very good reading in
its way, but might have been made much more spicy had he known the name
of his adversary. Schiller's final rejoinder added nothing of importance
to the discussion.[85]

This short digression leads naturally to another. While still at Weimar
Schiller received a visit from Buerger, and the two agreed to vie with
each other in a translation from Vergil. Schiller chose for his
experiment the eight-line stanza which he was proposing to use in an
epic upon Frederick the Great. This 'Fredericiad' was much on his mind
in the spring of 1789. His plan was to center his story about some
ominous juncture in Frederick's career (say the battle of Kollin), and
write a poem which should exhibit in lightly-flowing stanzas the 'finest
flower' of eighteenth-century civilization.[86] Albeit intensely modern
it was to have the indispensable epic 'machinery'. Nothing came of the
project, but a year later he was still ruminating upon it and declared
that he should not be truly happy until he was again making verses.

Instead of attempting an original epic, however, he now began to
translate from the Aeneid, and this light and congenial labor continued
to occupy him for a year or more after the break-down of his health. He
finally completed two books, the second and fourth. The translation is
sonorous and otherwise readable, but it is not Vergil and does not
produce the effect of Vergil. The breaking up of the matter into
stanzas, each having a unity of its own, led to additions, omissions and
perversions,--there are 2104 lines in the translation to 1509 in the
original,--and substituted an interrupted romantic cadence for the
stately continuous roll of the hexameter.

The opening lines of the second book will serve as well as any others to
illustrate Schiller's method as a translator:

Conticuere omnes, intentique ora tenebant.
Inde toro pater Aeneas sic orsus ab alto:
'Infandum, regina, jubes renovare dolorem,
Trojanas ut opes et lamentabile regnum
Eruerint Danai; quaeque ipse miserrima vidi
Et quorum pars magna fui.'

Schiller's version runs thus:

Der ganze Saal war Ohr, jedweder Mund verschlossen,
Und Fuerst Aeneas, hingegossen
Auf hohem Polstersitz, begann:
Dein Wille, Koenigin, macht Wunden wieder bluten,
Die keine Sprache schildern kann:
Wie Trojas Stadt verging in Feuerfluten,
Den Jammer willst du wissen, die Gefahr,
Wovon ich Zeuge, ach, und meistens Opfer war.

As for the 'Fredericiad', it never got beyond the status of a plan. By
November, 1791, Schiller had concluded that Gustav Adolf would be a
better subject for an epic,--he could get up no enthusiasm for Unser
Fritz and shrank from the 'gigantic labor of idealizing him'. Soon after
this he seems to have dropped altogether the idea of writing an epic.

In the spring of 1791, when he had grown strong enough to think of
attacking the second installment of the 'Thirty Years' War', Schiller
took up his abode in Rudolstadt; and there, in May, he was prostrated by
a second illness which was worse than the first. His life was despaired
of, he bade his friends farewell and the report went out from Jena that
he was dead. After the crisis was past came weary weeks of lassitude and
pain, with no possibility of writing or reading. In July he took the
waters at Karlsbad, with some slight benefit. By autumn he was well
enough to do the promised continuation of his history and to lay plans
with Goeschen for a _New Thalia_ to begin with the next year. But he was
now in desperate straits for money. His illness had been very costly and
the cessation of work had brought a cessation of income. He was in debt
to various friends, and the Duke of Weimar was too poor to help him.
Saddest of all, his beloved wife's health was broken with anxiety and
watching. 'It is a joy to me', he wrote to Koerner in October, 'even when
I am busy, to think that she is near me. Her dear life and influence
round about me, the childlike purity of her soul and the warmth of her
love, give me a repose and serenity that would otherwise be impossible
in my hypochondriac condition. If we were only well we should need
nothing else to live like the gods.'

It was a dark juncture, darker far than that of 1784, and now as then
help came unexpectedly from afar. It came this time from Denmark.

The Danish author Baggesen had visited Jena the previous year and
returned home a fervid admirer of Schiller. At Copenhagen he had
imparted his enthusiasm to Count Schimmelmann and the Duke of
Holstein-Augustenburg, who, with their wives, proceeded to found a sort
of Schiller-sect. Full of the time's generous ardor for high and humane
ideas, they were just about to give a rustic fete in honor of their
great German poet, when the news of his death arrived. They met with
heavy hearts and sang the 'Song to Joy', with an added stanza by
Baggesen, wherein they pledged themselves to 'be faithful to Schiller's
spirit until they should meet above'. When they learned a little later
that the author of the 'Song' was alive, after all, and very much in
need of money, the two noblemen immediately wrote him a joint letter,
offering him, in language of admirable delicacy, a gift of a thousand
thalers a year for three years, with no conditions whatever. He was
simply to give himself needed rest and follow the bent of his mind, free
from all anxiety. Should he choose to come to Copenhagen they assured
him that he would find loyal friends and admirers, and a position in the
government service if he desired it.

This timely windfall 'from the clouds' put an end to the misery of
distress about money. For the first time in his life Schiller found
himself free to consult inclination in the forming of his plans and
the disposition of his time. Without hesitation he gratefully accepted
the gift and resolved now at last to take up the study of Kant and
fathom him, though it should require three years. A strange
resolution, it would seem, for a sick poet! Many have judged it unwise
and have deprecated that long immersion in Kantian metaphysic. But
Schiller was the best judge of his own needs, and how he felt about
the matter appears very clearly from a letter that he wrote to Koerner
a few months later:

I am full of eagerness for some poetic task and particularly my pen
is itching to be at 'Wallenstein.' Really it is only in art itself
that I feel my strength. In theorizing I have to plague myself all
the while about principles. There I am only a dilettante. But it is
precisely for the sake of artistic creation that I wish to
philosophize. Criticism must repair the damage it has done me. And
it has done me great damage indeed; for I miss in myself these many
years that boldness, that living fire, that was mine before I knew a
rule. Now I see myself in the act of creating and fashioning; I
observe the play of inspiration, and my imagination works less
freely, since it is conscious of being watched. But if I once reach
the point where artistic procedure becomes natural, like education
for the well-nurtured man, then my fancy will get back its old
freedom, and know no bounds but those of its own making.

And so it was destined to be. His philosophic studies, pursued with
tireless zeal for a period of three or four years, gave him the
self-assurance that he hoped for. They created for him at least, if not
for all men everywhere, a poetical _modus vivendi_ between natural
impulse and artistic rule. 'Nature' learned to wear the fetters of art
without feeling them as fetters. At last he grew weary of theorizing;
but his later plays, produced in rapid succession, each unlike the other
and all characterized by a remarkable imaginative breadth and freedom,
bear witness to the quantity of artistic energy stored up during this
period of artistic self-repression.

A few words of biography will suffice for the goings and comings of this
Kantian period, which was for Schiller a period of quiet study, eager
discussion and laborious authorship. At first he continued to reside in
Jena. Early in 1792 he started the _New Thalia_, and this he used for
the publication of his earlier aesthetic lucubrations. With the
perfunctory conclusion of the 'Thirty Years' War', in September, his
work as a historian virtually came to an end. He now began to lecture
again, but gave only an aesthetic _privatissimum_ in his own room. He
went out of the house hardly five times during the whole winter, and
when spring came his health was again very precarious. He now determined
to try the effect upon body and soul of the milder climate of his native
Suabia. He set out in August and took the precaution to halt in
Heilbronn, not knowing what brutality the Duke of Wuerttemberg might
still be capable of. On receiving the blessed assurance that his
Highness would 'ignore' him, he continued on his way to Ludwigsburg,
where a son was born, to him in September. He remained in Ludwigsburg
during the winter in pleasant intercourse with his family and friends.
In October Karl Eugen went to his reward. 'The death of the old Herod',
Schiller wrote to Koerner, 'does not concern me or my family, except that
all who have to do directly, like my father, with the head of the state,
are glad that they now have a man before them.'[87]

One of the first important official acts of the new duke was to abolish
the Karlschule; but this did not happen until after Schiller had visited
the scene of his former woes, in the role of distinguished son, and had
received the enthusiastic plaudits of the four hundred students. It was
here in Ludwigsburg that his ripest philosophic work, the 'Letters upon
Aesthetic Education' came into being. In the spring he spent some weeks
in Stuttgart, where Dannecker began to model the famous bust that now
adorns the Weimar library. In Stuttgart he made the acquaintance of the
enterprising publisher Cotta, who wished him to undertake the editorship
of a great political journal. But another plan lay nearer to Schiller's
heart, and before he left Suabia he had arranged with Cotta to edit a
high-class literary magazine to be known as _Die Horen_. In May, 1794,
he returned to Jena, glad to have escaped at last from his dear,
distracting fatherland and to be once more at home. His health had not
improved, and he had now become reconciled in a measure to the doom of
the invalid. But although he knew that the death-mark was upon him, the
knowledge only spurred him to more eager activity.[88] He felt that he
had a great work to do and that the time might be short. By this time
his acquaintance with Humboldt had ripened into a warm friendship. 'What
a life it will be', he wrote to Korner, 'when you come here and complete
the triad. Humboldt is for me an infinitely agreeable and at the same
time useful acquaintance; for in conversation with him all my ideas move
happily and move quickly. There is in his character a totality that is
rarely seen and that, except in him, I have found only in you.'

After his return to Jena he lectured no more, but threw all his energy
into the new journal. He prepared an alluring prospectus and invited the
cooperation of all the best writers in Germany. Among these was Goethe,
who sent a favorable reply. And thus began a correspondence which
presently led, as all the world knows, to an ever memorable friendship.
The activities centering in the _Horen_ ushered in a new literary epoch,
the epoch of Germany's brief leadership in modern literature.

Thus the period of his Kantian studies, a time of tremendous political
excitement in Europe, was for Schiller a quiet period of intense
thinking and of eager debate with like-minded friends, upon the abstruse
questions of aesthetic theory. The turmoil of the revolution affected
him hardly at all. There was nothing of the democrat about him. With all
his devotion to liberty and with all his poetic fondness for
republicanism, he remained at heart a devoted monarchist. All his life,
nearly, he had lived with aristocrats, and he himself had the temper of
an aristocrat. There is no evidence in his letters that he ever really
sympathized with the French people, even during the early days of the
revolution, in their practical program of 'liberty, equality and
fraternity'. His notion of liberty was at no time a definite political
concept, but always a rainbow in the clouds,--something to rave and
philosophize over. Of human brotherhood he had sung most affectingly in
the 'Song to Joy', but it was only a poetic kiss that he had ready for
all mankind. He would have been amazed if any plebeian stranger had
proposed to take him at his word. As for equality, there is no evidence
that it entered as a factor or an ideal into his scheme of man's better
time to come.

It was thus perfectly natural, when the proceedings were Instituted
against the ill-fated Louis the Sixteenth, that Schiller should take the
part of the accused. The fierce determination of the French democracy to
exact a reckoning from their sovereign, not so much for what _he_ had
done as for ages of accumulated wrong, appeared to him the very madness
of injustice. In December, 1792, he planned to write a book or a
pamphlet in defence of the king, and have it translated into French for
the purpose of influencing public opinion in Paris.[89] He seems
actually to have begun the work, but the fate of the unlucky Bourbon was
swifter than the pen of his German defender. Schiller's horror of the
regicide knew no bounds. 'These two weeks past', he wrote on February 8,
1793, 'I can read no more French papers, so disgusted am I with these
wretched executioners.' The ensuing events of the Terror intensified
this feeling. In speaking of the year 1793, Karoline von Wolzogen has
this to say of her brother-in-law:

He regarded the French Revolution as the effect of passion and not
as a work of wisdom, which alone could produce true freedom. He
admitted, indeed, that many ideas which had previously been found
only in books and in the heads of enlightened men, were now matters
of public discussion; but, he said, the real principles which must
underlie a truly happy civil constitution are not yet so common
among men; they are found (pointing to a copy of Kant's 'Critique'
that lay on the table) nowhere else but here. The French Republic
will cease as quickly as it has come into being. The republican
constitution will give rise to a state of anarchy, and sooner or
later a capable strong man will appear from some quarter and make
himself master not only of France but also, perhaps, of a large part
of Europe.[90]

If this remarkable prediction of Napoleon is rightly reported and
rightly dated by the Baroness von Wolzogen, one can hardly suppose that
Schiller was very much elated when he read in a paper, towards the close
of the year 1792, that he had been made an honorary citizen of the
French Republic. Under a law passed in August of that year,--_l'an
premier de la liberte_,--the name and rights of a French citizen were
bestowed upon a number of foreigners who had 'consecrated their arms and
their vigils to defending the cause of the people against the despotism
of kings'. A motley band of heroes had been selected for this
honor,--the names of Washington and Wilberforce and Kosciusko being put
to pickle in the same brine with those of Pestalozzi, J. H. Campe,
Klopstock and Anacharsis Cloots,--and the bill was about to pass when a
deputy arose,--he must have been an Alsatian,--and proposed to add the
name of M. Gille, _publiciste allemand_. The amendment was accepted, and
a few weeks later Minister Roland transmitted to 'M. Gille' an official
diploma of French citizenship. It took the postal authorities of Germany
some six years to deliver the letter, and when at last they succeeded,
its recipient was less than ever in a mood to be overjoyed at the
well-meant distinction that had been conferred upon him by the French

The progress of the Revolution appeared to Schiller to endanger the
higher interests of civilization. He was too close to it for a serenely
impartial view. Had it been an occurrence of the sixteenth century, he
would have been just the man to philosophize over it and to show that in
this case, again, "the frenzy of the nations was the statesmanship of
fate". As it was, the unrest of the people, and their increasing
absorption in questions of mere politics, disgusted him. He felt that a
counteragent was needed. And so, declining Cotta's offer anent the
political journal, and thus leaving the famous _Allgemeine Zeitung_ to
begin its career a few years later under other hands, he chose Instead
to found the _Horen_, which was to exclude politics altogether and
induce people, if possible, to think of something else. He saw that the
times were unpropitious for his enterprise, but felt that it was for
that very reason the more urgently needed. In announcing the _Horen_ to
the public in 1795 he wrote:

The more the minds of men are excited, shut in and subjugated by the
narrow interests of the present, the more urgent is a general and
higher interest in that which is purely human and superior to all
influences of the time; an interest which shall set men free again
and unite the politically divided world under the banner of truth
and beauty. This is the point of view from which the authors of the
_Horen_ wish it to be regarded. The journal is to be devoted to
cheerful and passionless entertainment, and to offer the mind and
heart of its readers, now angered and depressed by the events of the
day, a pleasant diversion. In the midst of this political tumult it
will form for the Muses and Graces a little intimate circle, from
which everything will be banished that is stamped with the impure
spirit of partisanship.

Many a modern reader will be inclined, perhaps, to smile at this
deliverance and to see in it a fatuous misjudgment of the relative
importance of things. The French Revolution versus a spray of aesthetic
rose-water! But we must not be too hasty. Posterity has no better
criterion for judging great men than the criterion of service. And
service is a question of vocation. As the matter is put by Goethe, who
himself a little later took refuge from the _misere_ of the Napoleonic
epoch in the contemplative poetry of the Orient: 'Man may seek his
higher destiny on earth or in heaven, in the present or in the future;
yet for that reason he remains exposed to constant wavering within and
to continual disturbance from without, until he once for all makes up
his mind to declare that that is right which is in accordance with his
own nature,'[91] It was not in Schiller to be a political journalist or
a pamphleteer. In that field he would have wasted his splendid energy.
He knew what he could do best; and it was well for his country and for
the world that he chose to withdraw from the turmoil of the Revolution
and prepare himself for 'Wallenstein' and 'William Tell'.


[Footnote 84: So, at least, Schiller states in a letter of March 3,
1791, to Koerner.]

[Footnote 85: The original review, together with Buerger's reply and
Schiller's rejoinder, are printed in Saemmtliche Schriften, VI, 314 ff.]

[Footnote 86: The plan is very fully discussed in a letter of March 10,
1789, to Koerner.]

[Footnote 87: On the other hand, Wilhelm von Hoven, who was with
Schiller at the time, represents him as deeply touched by the death of
Duke Karl and as expressing himself thus: "Da ruht er also, dieser
rastlos thaetig gewesene Mann. Er hatte grosze Fehler als Regent,
groeszere als Mensch, aber die ersteren wurden vor seinen groszen
Eigenschaften weit ueberwogen, und das Andenken an die letzteren musz mit
dem Toten begraben werden; darum sage ich dir, wenn du, da er nun dort
liegt, jetzt noch nachteilig von ihm sprechen hoerst, traue diesem
Menschen nicht: er ist kein guter, wenigstens kein edler Mensch." Cf.
Kuno Fischer, "Schiller-Schriften", I, 153, and Karoline von Wolzogen,
"Schillers Leben", Achter Abschnitt.]

[Footnote 88: A letter of May 24, 1791, contains the brave words: "Ich
habe mehr als einmal dem Tod ins Gesicht gesehen, und mein Mut ist
dadurch gestaerkt worden."]

[Footnote 89: Letter of December 21, to Koerner.]

[Footnote 90: "Schillers Leben", Achter Abschnitt.]

[Footnote 91: "Dichtung und Wahrheit", Elftes Buch.]


Aesthetic Writings

Es ist gewisz von keinem Sterblichen kein groeszeres Wort gesprochen
als dieses Kantische, was zugleich der Inhalt seiner ganzen
Philosophie ist: Bestimme dich aus dir selbst. _Letter of 1793._

From a quotation in the preceding chapter we have seen what Schiller
hoped for when he resolved to grapple with the Kantian philosophy. He
was in pursuit of that which would help him as a poet. He felt that a
little philosophy had done him harm by quenching his inner fire and
destroying his artistic spontaneity. The rules were continually coming
between him and his creative impulses. His hope was that more philosophy
would repair the damage by making the principles of art so clear and so
familiar that they would become as second nature, and therefore cease to
be felt as a clog or an interference.

This expectation, looking at the matter _a priori,_ was reasonable
enough. Looking at it retrospectively, Goethe came to the conclusion, as
is well known, that Schiller's philosophic bent had injured his poetry
by teaching him to 'regard the idea as higher than all nature'. Goethe
thought it 'depressing to see how such an extraordinarily gifted man had
tormented himself with philosophic modes of thought that could be of no
use to him'.[92] But this does not tell the whole story, notwithstanding
the greatness of the authority. To assert that all philosophy is always
harmful to a poet would be to assert the most patent nonsense. Goethe
himself at one time found help and inspiration in Spinoza, the dryest
and most abstract of thinkers;[93] and after all, 'nature' comes off
about as well in 'Wallenstein' as in 'Faust'. It is a question of
personal endowment, of what the mind can assimilate and turn to account.
There are many kinds of the poetic temper, the intellectual element
blending variously with the emotional, the instinctive and the visional.
For Schiller poetry was not 'somnambulism', but a very deliberate
process; wherefore it was quite natural for him to expect that a season
of philosophic study would be good for him. So he set out to fathom the
laws of beauty; assuming, of course, that there must be such laws and
that they must be, in some sense or other, laws of human nature.

To follow him critically in all the by-ways of his theorizing would
require a treatise; and the treatise would be dull reading, except,
peradventure, to such as might be specially interested in the history of
aesthetic discussion. In the end, too, it would shed but little light
upon Schiller's later plays, which were in no sense the offspring of
theory and were influenced only in a very general way by their author's
previous philosophical studies. To understand the poet's development it
is nowise necessary to lose one's self with him in the Serbonian bog of
metaphysic. On the other hand, it _will_ be useful to know what the
problems were that chiefly interested him, and to see how he attacked
them and what conclusions he arrived at. With the soundness of his
reasoning and the final value of his contributions to the literature of
aesthetics we need hardly concern ourselves at all; since the scientific
questions involved are differently stated and differently approached at
the present time.[94]

The pre-Kantian stage of Schiller's aesthetic philosophy is of quite
minor importance. He obtained his original stock of ideas at the
Stuttgart academy from Ferguson's 'Institutes', as translated by Garve.
In Ferguson, who rested strongly upon Shaftesbury, no line was drawn
between the moral and the aesthetic domain. It was taught that all truth
is beauty and that 'the most natural beauty in the world is honesty and
moral truth'. Perfection was made to depend on harmony and proportion;
and moral beauty upon the harmony of the individual soul with the
general system of things. Wrong action was regarded as discord,
imperfection. Virtue, being a disposition toward the general harmony,
necessarily meant happiness. Thoughts of this kind, mixed up with vague
ideas of a pre-established harmony, constituted the staple of Schiller's
early philosophizing. The identity of the good, the true and the
beautiful, was for him the highest of all generalizations, though more a
matter of pious emotion than of close thinking.

Nor do we observe any noteworthy change of attitude in the minor
philosophic writings, such as the letters of Julius and Raphael, and the
second book of 'The Ghostseer',--which he published prior to his
acquaintance with Kant. In these it is always the moralist that speaks,
and the great question is the bearing of skepticism on individual
happiness. But by the end of his first year in Weimar the moralist had
begun to retreat before the aesthetic philosopher. For the author of
'The Gods of Greece' and 'The Artists', it is evident that the beautiful
has become the corner-stone of the temple. He saw before him all at once
a new region that invited exploration. If art had played such a
commanding role in the history of the world, it was evidently of the
greatest importance to understand it. It was this feeling for the
dignity of art, as the greatest of factors in human perfectibility, that
led him to devote the leisure afforded by his Danish pension to a
thorough study of Kantian aesthetics.

He began quite independently, as we have seen, with a course of lectures
upon the theory of tragedy. The lectures were never published, but the
cream of them is probably contained in two essays, 'On the Rational
Basis of Pleasure in Tragic Themes', and 'On the Tragic Art', which were
contributed to the _New Thalia_ in 1792. In the former Schiller first
combats the idea that art has any higher aim than the giving of
pleasure. Its aim, he argues, is not morality but 'free pleasure', the
'free' meaning subject to no law but its own. If morality is made its
final aim, it ceases to be 'free'. Then the essay goes on to discuss the
_crux_ of our feeling pleasure in painful representations. All pleasure,
we read, comes from the perception of _Zweckmaeszigkeit_, that is, the
quality of being adapted to the furtherance of an end. Since man is
meant to be happy and naturally seeks happiness, human suffering affects
us primarily as a 'maladaptation', and so gives us pain. But in this
very pain our reason recognizes a higher 'adaptation', since we are
incited by it to activity. We know that it is good for us and for
society; and so we take pleasure in our own pain. The total effect of
tragedy depends upon the proportion in which this higher sense of
adaptation is present.

The important thing to notice in this argument is that aesthetic
judgments are made to depend upon concepts of the mind. The reason, with
its abstractions of 'fitness' and what not, is regarded as the prior and
the dominating factor. In the second of the two essays, however, we find
a distinct recognition of the fact that emotional excitement may give
pleasure in and of itself. Illustrations are brought in,--such as the
passion for gaming and for dangerous adventure, and the general love of
ghost stories and tales of crime,--which go to show that Schiller by no
means overlooked the non-rational element in the pleasure afforded by
tragedy. Nevertheless he seems to have attached very little importance
to that element, for he goes on to observe that we know only two sources
of pleasure, namely, the satisfaction of our bent for happiness
(_Glueckseligkeitstrieb_), and the fulfillment of moral laws. As the
pleasure we take in acted or narrated suffering cannot proceed from the
former, it must spring from the latter and do its work by gratifying the
'bent for activity' _(Thaetigkeitstrieb)_, which is a moral bent.--After
a long tussle with such hazy abstractions the essayist attempts a
working definition and practical discussion of tragedy. This part of the
essay is still eminently readable, but need not be analyzed here.
Sufficient to say that Schiller regards the excitation of 'sympathy' as
the sole aim of tragedy. He has nothing to say of the Aristotelian
'fear' or 'katharsis'; in fact he did not make the acquaintance of
Aristotle until 1797.[95]

It would be next in order to consider the lectures of 1792-93, but
unluckily they are known only from the notes of a student.[96] As
published in 1806 they bear the impress of Schiller's mind, but are too
brief and summary to be counted among his works. They show that by 1793
he had come to feel at home in the field of aesthetic speculation. He
had read Kant and Moritz and Burke, and was ready with his criticisms.
In particular, he had found what he regarded as a weak point in the
system of Kant, who had not only made no attempt to establish an
objective criterion of beauty, but had summarily dismissed the whole
problem as obviously hopeless. Schiller felt that, if this were so,
there was no firm foundation anywhere, and all aesthetic judgments were
reduced to a matter of taste,--which was of course a very unwelcome
conclusion. In the belief that he had found the missing link he planned,
toward the end of 1792, a treatise to be known as 'Kallias, or
Concerning Beauty'. It was to take the form of a dialogue, to be written
in a pleasing style, with a plenty of illustration,--merits to which
Kant could lay no claim,--and to review the whole history of aesthetic

This plan was finally given up, but a series of rather abstruse letters
to Koerner, beginning in January, 1793, may be regarded as preparatory
studies for the contemplated treatise. Schiller's idea was, evidently,
to blaze a private trail through the jungle of Kantian theory, with
Koerner's critical assistance, and then to return and convert the trail
into an agreeable road for the general reader. In the end he chose a
different form than that of the Socratic dialogue for the literary
presentation of his doctrine, but what he wrote subsequently was based
partly at least upon conclusions that he had reached through his
correspondence with Koerner; wherefore it will be well to look a little
more closely, at this point, into his quarrel with the Koenigsberg

As is well known, Kant placed the aesthetic faculty under the
jurisdiction of the 'judgment', which he regarded as a sort of
connecting link between the pure reason and the practical reason, that
is, between cognition and volition. A judgment is teleologic, according
to his scheme, if it implies a pre-existing notion to which the object
is expected to conform; it is aesthetic when pleasure or pain is
produced directly by the object itself. In the good and the agreeable we
have an interest,--we will the former and desire the latter. The
beautiful, on the other hand, is that which pleases without appealing to
any interest (_interesseloses Wohlgefalien_). This is its character
under the category of quality. Under that of quantity it is a
universal pleasure; under that of relation, a form of adaptation
(_Zweckmaeszigkeit_), with no end present to the mind. Finally, under the
fourth category--modality--it is 'necessary', being determined not by
any objective criterion, but by the _sensus communis_ of mankind, that
is, their agreement in taste.

For Kant, then, the whole matter of aesthetics is a subjective matter.
He does not inquire what it is that makes objects beautiful, but how it
is that we 'judge' them to be beautiful. While his predecessors made the
impression of the beautiful to depend upon objective attributes of form,
proportion, harmony, completeness and the like, he insisted that the
essence of beauty was to please without reference to any such
intellectual concept whatever. His terminology was not very happy, since
a judgment that has nothing to do with the intellect is not a judgment
at all, but a feeling; nevertheless his system brought out clearly,--and
this is perhaps his most important merit in the domain of
aesthetics,--the necessity of distinguishing more sharply between the
beautiful, on the one hand, and the good and agreeable, on the other.
But in expounding his central doctrine, that beauty cannot depend upon a
mental concept, he is not quite consistent; for he recognizes
'adaptation' as a form of beauty, and adaptation is a concept of the
mind. To meet this difficulty he makes a distinction between free beauty
(_pulchritudo vaga_) and adherent beauty (_pulchritudo adhaerens_), the
latter being mixed up with the good or the desirable. Even a generic or
a normative concept was for him fatal to the idea of pure beauty. Thus
pure beauty could not be affirmed of a horse, because one inevitably has
in his mind an antecedent notion as to how a horse ought to look. Again,
there could be no such thing as pure beauty,--at the best only adherent
beauty,--in a moral action, since a moral action does not please in and
of itself. At the same time Kant held that the highest use of beauty is
to symbolize moral truth, and in illustrating the possibilities of this
symbolism he indulged in some rather fanciful speculations.

Now we can easily understand that Schiller, notwithstanding all his
admiration of Kant and his prompt recognition of the far-reaching
importance of Kant's doctrine, could not be perfectly satisfied with a
philosophy which decreed that an arabesque is more beautiful than any
woman, and that morality cannot be beautiful at all, except in some
mystical poetic sense. Nor could he be content with Kant's _sensus
communis aestheticus_, which seemed to leave the beautiful finally a
matter of taste. His mental attitude is clearly brought to view in a
letter of February 9, 1793, to the Prince of Augustenburg. After
speaking warmly of Kant's great service to philosophy, he describes thus
the problem which Kant regarded as impossible of solution and which he
himself, Schiller, was bold enough to attempt:

When I consider how closely our feeling for the beautiful and the
great is connected with the noblest part of our being, it is
impossible for me to regard this feeling as a mere subjective play
of the emotional faculty, capable of none but empirical rules. It
seems to me that beauty too, as well as truth and right, must rest
upon eternal foundations, and that the original laws of the reason
must also be the laws of taste. It is true that the circumstance of
our feeling beauty and not cognizing it seems to cut off all hope
of our finding a universal law for it, because every judgment
emanating from this source is a judgment of experience. As a rule
people accept an explanation of beauty only because it harmonizes
in particular cases with the verdict of feeling; whereas, if there
were really such a thing as the cognition of beauty from
principles, we should trust the verdict of feeling because it
coincides with our explanation of the beautiful. Instead of testing
and correcting our feelings by means of principles, we test
aesthetic principles by our feelings.

So then Schiller attacked his problem in the aforementioned letters to
Koerner and was soon able to announce his solution: Beauty is nothing
else than freedom-in-the-appearance (_Freiheit in der Erscheinung_).

To make clear the steps by which he arrived at that formula and the
wealth of meaning that it contained for him would require a fuller
analysis of his argument than there is space for in this chapter.
Suffice it to say that he now fully accepts the dogma of Kant that
beauty cannot depend upon a mental concept,--the feeling of pleasure is
the prior fact. At the same time he has an unshakable conviction that
beauty must somehow fall under the laws of reason. He gets rid of the
_crux_ by taking the aesthetic faculty away from the jurisdiction of
Kant's rather mysterious 'judgment', and turning it over to the
'practical reason'. His argument is that the practical reason demands
freedom, just as the 'pure' or theoretic reason demands rationality.
Freedom is the form which the practical reason instinctively applies
upon presentation of an object. It is satisfied when, and only when, the
object is free, autonomous, self-determined. He then propounds his
theory that beauty is simply an analogon of moral freedom. On the
presentation of an object the practical reason (_i.e._, the will) may
banish for the time being all concepts of the pure reason, may assume
complete control and ask no other question than whether the object is
free, self-determined, autonomous. If, then, the object appears to be
free, to follow no law but its own, the practical reason is satisfied;
the effect is pleasurable and we call it beauty. Schiller is careful to
point out that it is all a question of appearance: the object is not
really free,--since freedom abides only in the supersensual world,--but
the practical reason imputes or lends freedom to it. Hence beauty is
freedom in the appearance.

In a letter of February 23, 1793, he applies his dogma to an exposition
of the relation between nature and art. The problem of the artist in the
representation of an object, so the theory runs, is to convey a
suggestion of freedom, that is, of not-being-determined-from-without.
This he can only do by making the object appear to be determined from
within, in other words, to follow its own law. It must have a law and
obey it, while seeming to be free. The law of the object is what is
disclosed by technique, which is thus the basis of our impression of
freedom. Starting from Kant's saying that nature is beautiful when it
looks like art, and art beautiful when it looks like nature, Schiller
gives a large number of concrete illustrations of his theory. Thus a
vase is beautiful when, without prejudice to the vase-idea, it looks
like a free play of nature. A birch is beautiful when it is tall and
slender, an oak when it is crooked; the shape in either case expressing
the nature of the tree when it follows nature's law. 'Therefore', he
concludes his illustrations, 'the empire of taste is the empire of
freedom; the beautiful world of sense being the happiest symbol of what
the moral world should be, and every beautiful object about me being a
happy citizen who calls out: Be free like me.'

It did not escape our theorist that his hard-won criterion of beauty was
after all, apparently, an idea of the reason. He was however prepared to
meet this difficulty and promised to do so in a future letter. But the
aesthetic correspondence with Koerner was not continued beyond February.
The project of the 'Kallias' continued for some time longer to occupy
Schiller's mind, but a fresh attack of illness intervened, and when he
was again able to work he turned his mind to an essay upon 'Winsomeness
and Dignity' (_Anmut und Wuerde_). It was written in May and June, 1793,
and printed soon afterwards in the _New Thalia_. In this essay we can
observe a growing independence of thought and an amazing gift for the
analysis of subtle impressions. In the main it is lucid enough,
especially when one calls in the aid of the preceding letters to Koerner;
but portions are hard reading. To give the gist of it in a few words is
next to impossible, because it is so largely taken up with superfine
distinctions in the meaning of words for which our language has at best
but rough equivalents.

It will be recalled that Kant had denied pure beauty to the human form,
on the ground that the human form expresses the moral dignity of human
nature, which is an idea of the reason. Schiller was piqued by this
dictum to test _his_ theory of beauty on the human form. He begins, in a
manner fitted to make old Homer smile, with a rationalizing account of
the girdle of Venus,--the girdle which Venus lends to Juno when the
latter wishes to excite the amorous desire of Jove. Venus, we are told,
is pure beauty as it comes from the hand of nature. Her girdle makes her
'winsome'. So winsomeness is something distinct from beauty; something
transferable, movable. It is then further defined as beauty of motion;
as the special prerogative of man; as the element of beauty which is not
given by nature but is produced by the object. The essay then goes on to
make a distinction between architectonic and technical beauty. The
former is defined as a beautiful presentation of the aims of nature, the
latter as referring to the aims themselves. The aesthetic faculty is
concerned with architectonic beauty. In contemplation of an object it
isolates the appearance and is affected by that alone, irrespective of
any ideas of purpose or adaptation. At the same time the reason imputes
freedom to the object, and when the object is a human form, this imputed
freedom, whereby the object seems to assert its own autonomous
personality, this which is superadded to the beauty that nature creates
by the law-governed adaptation of means to ends, is winsomeness.--All of
which seems to mean substantially this: That while Pygmalion's statue
was still ivory _it_ was beautiful; but when it became a woman with
winsome ways _she_ was winsome.

Having demonstrated to his satisfaction that beauty is really compounded
of two elements, first the sensuous pleasure caused by the play of
personality, and secondly the rational gratification caused by the idea
of adaptation to an end, Schiller takes up the questions of moral beauty
and of the ideal of character. He deprecates Kant's strenuous insistence
upon the categorical imperative of duty. A man, he urges, must be free;
and the slavery of duty is no better than any other slavery. Virtue is
inclination to duty, and the ideal is to be found in the perfect
equipoise of the sensuous and the rational nature; in other words, when
'thou shalt' and 'I would' pull steadily and harmoniously in the same
direction. So he defines 'dignity' (_Wuerde_) as the expression of a
lofty mind, just as winsomeness is the expression of a beautiful soul.
Control of impulses by moral strength is intellectual freedom, and
dignity is the visible expression of this freedom. Dignity is manifested
rather in suffering ([Greek: pathos]), winsomeness in behavior ([Greek:
ethos]). Each acts as a check upon the other. We demand that virtue be
winsome and that inclination be dignified, and where winsomeness and
dignity are present in harmonious equipoise in the same person, there
the expression of humanity is complete.

In the essay just spoken of reference is made more than once to a
contemplated 'Analytic of the Beautiful', which was to clear up this and
that. Instead of attempting a treatise, however, Schiller chose to go on
settling his account with Kant through the medium of contributions to
the _New Thalia_. Those published immediately (1793-4) were the essay
'On the Sublime', which included a special chapter 'On the Pathetic';
and 'Scattered Reflections on Various Aesthetic Subjects'. Two other
papers of kindred import, dating from this period, were not published
until 1801. These were: 'On the Artistic Use of the Vulgar and the Low',
and a second disquisition 'On the Sublime'.

Following Kant Schiller defines the sublime as the impression produced
by an object which excites in man's sensuous nature a feeling of
weakness and dependence, and at the same time in his rational nature a
feeling of freedom and superiority. He objects, however, to the Kantian
nomenclature. For the two kinds of sublime which Kant called the
mathematical and the dynamic, he proposes the names of the theoretical
and the practical; meaning by the former that which tends to overawe the
mind, by the latter that which tends to overawe the feeling. Then
follows a long and juiceless _Begriffszergliederung_, which may be
passed over as containing little that is of importance for the
understanding of Schiller's individuality. At last he comes to the
subject of tragic pathos, as the most important phase of the
practical-sublime. Here he lays down the dogma that the final aim of art
is the representation of the supersensuous. The essence of tragic pathos
is declared to be the representation of moral superiority under the
stress of suffering. The hero's sufferings must seem to be real that he
may obtain due credit for his moral triumph. In connection with this
thought Schiller takes occasion to deride the genteel sufferers of the
French classic tragedy and to commend the Greeks for their fidelity to
nature. At the same time he utters his word of warning to those poets
who think to gain their end merely by the spectacle of great suffering.
The sensuous, he Insists, has in itself no aesthetic value; it is the
moral resistance that counts, and the suffering is needed only to show
that there really was something to resist. The latter part of the essay
is directed against those who would try the creations of the poet by the
standards of the moral judgment. It is argued that the moral and the
aesthetic spheres of interest are separate and distinct. The poet is
concerned with the latter. What he needs for his purpose is the
manifestation of strength; whether the strength is put forth to a good
or an evil purpose is, in itself, a matter of indifference. The poet
cannot serve two masters.

In all these discussions of the sublime and the pathetic, et cetera,
Schiller exhibits a pathetically sublime faith in the possibility of
settling the questions at issue by the analytic method. He writes as if
the human mind were composed of air-tight compartments, wherein the
various operations of reason, understanding, taste, feeling and what
not, are carried on under immutable laws growing out of the nature of
man. His philosophy is also dualistic. He regards 'man' as consisting of
two parts joined like the Siamese twins. The one part, sensuous man,
which is like unto the animals, is a part of 'nature'; the other part,
the rational man, which is dowered with the birth-right of 'freedom', is
outside of nature and above it. The untenableness of this conception has
become since Schiller's time increasingly evident. Moreover, we have
learned to look upon all things under the aspect of development and to
know that man's reason, like the rest of him, is very much the creature
of time and place. This being so, one finds it difficult, nowadays, to
read the philosophic lucubrations of Schiller with that patience which
their well-meant seriousness really deserves. Indeed he himself seems to
have felt all along that there was some danger of his being carried too
far away into the region of barren speculation; wherefore it was
necessary, as he thought, not only to present his ideas in a popular
form, but also to prove their relevancy to the practical concerns of
human life.

It was with this thought in mind that he finally began, instead of the
'Kallias', a series of letters to his benefactor, the Prince of
Augustenburg. In a long letter of July 13, 1793, he explained his point
of view. The political dream of the century, he declared, that is, the
dream of recreating society upon a foundation of pure reason, had come
to naught. 'Man' had shown himself unfit for freedom. His chains
removed, he stood revealed as a barbarian and a slave,--the slave of
unruly passion. And this notwithstanding all that the century had done
for the enlightenment of his mind! Evidently the need of the hour and of
the future was not so much enlightenment of the mind as discipline of
the feelings. In a number of subsequent letters, admirable in style and
spirit, Schiller set forth his theory of aesthetic education and his
vision of the great good to be accomplished by it in the redemption of
mankind from the dominion of the grosser passions. Objections were duly
considered, especially the discouraging fact that, historically,
aesthetic refinement has too often coincided with supineness of
character and moral degeneracy. This consideration made it an important
part of the problem to show how the dangers of aesthetic culture could
best be counteracted.

The letters to the Danish prince formed the basis of the 'Letters on
Aesthetic Education', which were published in 1795 in the _Horen_, and
constitute the ripest and most pleasing expression of Schiller's
aesthetic philosophy. In the first ten of the 'Letters' he discusses the
spirit of the age, for the purpose of showing that some sort of
educational process is needed in order to fit mankind for the high
calling of the freeman. The problem is to transform the
state-ruled-by-force into a state-ruled-by-reason. To this end man must
learn to resist and subdue the two inveterate enemies of his nobility,
namely, the tyranny of sense which leads to savagery, and the inertness
of mind which leads to barbarism, Schiller defines the savage as a man
whose feelings control his principles, the barbarian as a man whose
principles destroy his feelings. At present, he declares, the mass of
men still oscillate between savagery and barbarism, but the man _comme
il faut_ must establish and preserve a perfect equipoise between his
sensuous and his rational nature. Whither shall he look for help? The
state cannot aid him, for it treats him as if he had no reason; nor can
philosophy save him through the mere cultivation of the reason, for it
treats him as if he had no feelings. His only redeemer is the aesthetic
sense, the love of beauty.

The 'Letters' then take up the desperate task of showing how the
aesthetic sense can do this wonderful work. Descending to the lowest
nadir of abstraction,--Schiller calls it rising to the highest
heights,--he brings up two ultimate instincts or bents of mankind, to
which he gives the appalling names of the 'thing-bent' and the
'form-bent' (_Sachtrieb_ and _Formtrieb_). The former impels to a change
of status, the latter to the preservation of personality. The one is
satisfied with what is mutable and finite, the other demands the
immutable and the rational. To harmonize these two instincts, to take
care that neither gets the better of the other or invades the other's
territory, is the problem of culture. For a driver of the ill-matched
team Schiller calls in the _Spieltrieb_, or play-bent, which is only a
new name for the aesthetic faculty. His idea is that in the moment of
aesthetic contemplation the sensuous and the rational instinct both find
their account. In the act of escaping from the serious pull of thought
and feeling to a mental state which satisfies both without succumbing
completely to either, he finds an analogy to the act of playing. At the
same time he is careful to point out that this kind of play is different
from the sports of common life. As he uses the word, it means surrender
to the illusion of art. Play is thus the symbol of the highest
self-realization. Only in playing is man completely man.

The last ten letters are devoted to what Schiller, following Kant,
calls 'melting beauty' (_schmelzende _Schoenheit_), which is opposed to
'energizing beauty' (_energische Schoenheit_). The former is the natural
corrective to the emotional excess which leads to savagery, while the
latter (the sublime, the stirring,) is the antidote to the mental
inertness which leads to barbarism. It is admitted that the aesthetic
state is perfectly neutral so far as concerns the influencing of the
will. A good work of art should leave us in a state of lofty serenity
and freedom of mind. If we find ourselves influenced to a particular
course of action, that is a sure sign that the art was bad.
Nevertheless,--and here lies the kernel of the whole discussion, so far
as it bears upon education,--the aesthetic state is a necessary stage
in the restoration of imperilled freedom. It is valuable morally simply
because it _is_ neutral ground. When a man is under the too exclusive
domination of either principles or feelings, he is in danger of
becoming a slave, and needs to be pulled back to the neutral belt of
freedom, in order that he may start afresh. 'In a word', says Schiller,
'there is no other way of making the sensuous man rational except by
first making him aesthetic.' Finally the 'Letters' take up the
evolution of man from the state of savagery and attempt to show
argumentatively and in detail how his progress has been determined by
the development of his aesthetic sense.

Such are the 'Letters on Aesthetic Education', which Schiller regarded,
in the year 1795, as a tract for the times. Years agone he had made Karl
Moor talk of poisoning the ocean; now he himself was thinking to sweeten
a poisoned ocean with a bottle of aesthetic syrup. We see that the gist
of the whole matter is simply this: That sanity and refinement are
pressing needs; that good art makes for these things and in so doing
makes indirectly for progress in right living and right thinking. This
looks like a painfully small result to have been reached by such long
and laborious logic-chopping; so that one is reminded of Carlyle's
cynical observation that the end and aim of the Kantian philosophy "seem
not to make abstruse things simple, but to make simple things abstruse".
It is to be remarked, however, that the real value of the 'Letters' is
not to be found in the logic-chopping, for which their author apologizes
again and again; not in the "dreadful array of first principles, the
forest huge of terminology and definitions, where the panting intellect
of weaker men wanders as in pathless thickets and at length sinks
powerless to the earth, oppressed with fatigue and suffocated with
scholastic miasma",[97]--but in the incidental flashes of luminous and
suggestive comment.

Having himself conquered the Kantian dialect and learned to write it,
Schiller had little patience with those who supposed that philosophic
truth could and should be set forth in the easy manner of a fireside
yarn. It was to free his mind on this subject that he published, in one
of the early numbers of the _Horen_, an essay 'On the Necessary Limits
of the Beautiful'. Here the burden of his thought is that the
philosopher, aiming at truth, must not yield to the seduction of trying
to write beautifully. His concern is with fact and logic; imagination
and feeling have no place in his domain. The lure of beauty may relax
the mind and endanger truth, just as it may relax the will and endanger
morality. This last thought contained the germ of his further essays,

Book of the day: