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the past. I took no proper interest I saw these plays in the season in the action going on, for I under- 1781-2, when I was from six to stood not its import—but I heard the seven years old. After the intervenword Darius, and I was in the midst tion of six or seven other years (for of Daniel. All feeling was absorbed at school all play-going was inhi. in vision. Gorgeous vests, gardens, bited) I again entered the doors of a palaces, princesses, passed before me. theatre. That old Artaxerxes evenI knew not players. I was in Persepo- ing had never done ringing in my lis for the time, and the burning idol fancy. I expected the same feelings of their devotions was as if the sun it to come again with the same occaself should have been brought down sion. But we differ from ourselves to minister at the sacrificial altar. less at sixty and sixteen, than the I took those significations to be latter does from six. In that intersomething more than elemental fires. val what had I not lost! At the Harlequin's Invasion followed; where, first period I knew nothing, underI remember, the transformation of stood nothing, discriminated nothing. the magistrates into reverend bel- I felt all, loved all, wondered all dams seemed to me a piece of grave
Was nourished, I could not tell how historic justice, and the taylor carry, ing his own head, to be as sober à I had left the temple a devotee, and verity as the legend of St. Denys. was returned a rationalist. The
The next play to which I was taken same things were there materially ; was the Lady of the Manor, of which, but the emblem, the reference, was with the exception of some scenery, gone!—The green curtain was no very faint traces are left in my me- longer a veil, drawn between two mory. It was followed by a panto- worlds, the unfolding of which was mime, called Lun's Ghost-a satiric to bring back past ages, to present touch, I apprehend, upon Rich, not a royal ghost,”—but a certain long since dead—but to my appre- quantity of green baize, which was hension (too sincere for satire), Lun to separate the audience for a given was as remote a piece of antiquity as time from certain of their fellow-men Lud--the father of a line of Harle- who were to come forward and prequins--transmitting his dagger of tend those parts. The lights-the lath (the wooden sceptre) through orchestra lights-came up a clumsy countless ages. I saw the primeval machinery. The first ring, and the Motley come from his silent tomb in second ring, was now but a trick of a ghastly vest of white patch-work, the prompter's bell—which had been, like the apparition of a dead rainbow. like the note of the cuckoo, a phantom So Harlequins (thought I) look when of a voice, no hand seen or guessed they are dead.
at which ministered to its warning. My third play followed in quick suc. The actors were men and women cession. It was the Way of the World. painted. I thought the fault was in I think I must have sat at it as grave them; but it was in myself, and the as a judge ; for, I remember, the hys- alteration which those many centuteric affectations of good Lady Wish- ries-of six short twelvemonths fort affected me like some solemn tra- had wrought in me.- Perhaps it was gic passion. Robinson Crusoe fol- fortunate for me that the play of the lowed; in which Crusoe, man Friday, evening was but an indifferent coand the parrot, were as good and au- medy, as it gave me time to crop thentic as in the story. The clown
unreasonable expectations, ery and pantaloonery of these panto- which might have interfered with mimes have clean passed out of my the genuine emotions with which head. I believe, I no more laughed (with unmixed perception) I was at them, than at the same age I soon after enabled to enter upon the should have been disposed to laugh first appearance to me of Mrs. Sidat the grotesque Gothic heads (seem- dons in Isabella. Comparison and ing to me then replėte with devout retrospection soon yielded to the premeaning) that gape, and grin, in sent attraction of the scene ; and the stone around the inside of the old theatre became to me, upon a new Round Church (my church) of the stock, the most delightful of recreaTemplars.
JOHN PAUL FREDERICK RICHTER.
Virum, ex hodiernis Transrhenanis, quem ego præ cæteris stupeo, et qui locum principis in litteris Germanicis mereatur jure: de quo spero quod mihi gratias agetis, utpote nomen ejus, hactenus inauditum per nostras Athenas, nunc palam apud vos proferenti-libros vero speciosissimi argumenti in usum vernaculi lectoris civitate posthac donaturo. Quod si me fefellerit opinio quam de illo habeo, sciatis nusquam gentium reperiri inter Teutonicos scriptores qui possit penitus approbari.- Trebell. Poilio (inter Historia Augustæ Scriptores : Is. Casauboni, Par. 1603, 4to. p. 274) ex editione Grasmeriensi.
Grasmere, Oct. 18, 1821. MY DEAR F.-You ask me to adequately representative of the indirect you generally in your choice tellectual power of a whole nation ; of German authors; secondly, and none which has attested its own especially, among those authors to power by influencing the modes of name my favourite. In such an thinking, acting, educating, through
as German literature, your a long tract of centuries. They first request is of too wide a compass have no book on which the nafor a letter; and I am not sorry that, tional mind has adequately acted; by leaving it untouched, and reserv none, which has re-acted, for any ing it for some future conversation, great end, upon the national mind. I shall add one moment (in the lan- We English have mighty authors, guage of dynamics) to the attrac, almost, I might say, almighty autions of friendship, and the local thors, in whom (to speak by a attractions of my residence ;-insuf- scholastic term) the national mind is ficient, as it seems, of themselves, to contained eminenter; that is, virdraw you so far northwards from tually contained in its principles : London. Come, therefore, dear F., and reciprocally these abstracts of the bring thy ugly countenance to the English' mind continue, in spite of lakes; and I will engraft such Ger- many counteracting forces, to mould man youth and vigour on thy Eng- and modulate the national tone of lish trunk, that henceforwards thou thought; I do not say directly, for shalt bear excellent fruit. I suppose, you will object, that they are not F., you know that the Golden Pip- sufficiently studied; but indirectly, pin is now almost, if not quite, ex inasmuch as the hundreds in every tinct in England : and why? Clearly generation, who influence their confrom want of some exotic, but con- temporary millions, have themselves genial, inoculation. So it is with derived an original influence from literatures of whatsoever land ; un these books.— The planet Jupiter, less crossed by some other of differ- according to the speculations of a ent breed, they all tend to super- great German philosopher, is just annuation. Thence comes it that now coming into a habitable condithe French literature is now in the tion: its primeval man is, perhaps, last stage of phthisis — dotage now in his Paradise ; the history, palsy, or whatever image will best ex the poetry, the woes of Jupiter, are press the most abject state of senile now in their cradle. Suppose then, --(senile? no! of anile)—imbecility. that this Jovian man were allowed Its constitution, as you well know, to come down upon our earth, to was, in its best days, marrowless take an inquest among us, and to call and without nerve; its youth with us - nation by nation-to a solemn out hope, and its manhood without audit on the question of our intellecdignity. For it is remarkable, that tual efforts and triumphs. V bat to the French people only, of all could the earth say for herself? For nations that have any literature at our parts, we should take him into all, has it been, or can it be, justly Westminster Abbey: and, standing objected - that they have “ no pa- upon the ancestral dust of England, ramount book ;' none, that is to say, we should present him with two which stands out as a monument volumes-one containing Hamlet,
Lear, and Othello; the other con- influence of Kant's great work.-
and those of any other German auHaving this horrid example before thor whatsoever. He is no man's our eyes, what should we English representative but his own : nor do I do? Why, evidently we should think that he will ever have a succultivate an intercourse with that
Of his style of writing, it literature of Europe which has most may be said, with an emphatic and of a juvenile constitution. Now that almost exclusive propriety, that exis beyond all doubt the German. I cept it proceeds in a spirit of perfect do not so much insist on the present freedom it cannot exist; unless movexcellence of the German literature; ing from an impulse self-derived it (though, poetry apart, the current cannot move at all. What then is literature of Germany appears to me his style of writing? What are its by much the best in Europe :) what general characteristics ? — These I weighs most with me is the promise will endeavour to describe with sufand assurance of future excellence ficient circumstantiality to meet your held out by the originality and present wants : premising only that masculine strength of thought which I call him frequently John Paul, has moulded the German mind since without adding his surname, both the time of Kant. Whatever be because all Germany gives him that thought of the existing authors, it is appellation, as an expression of afclear that a mighty power has been at fection for his person, and because work in the German mind since the he has himself sometimes assumed it French revolution, which happily co- in the title-pages of his works. incided in point of time * with the First, the characteristic distinc
The Critik der Reinen Vernunft was published about five years before the French Reyolution, but lay unnoticed in the publisher's warehouse for four or five years.
tion of Paul Richter, amongst Ger- reconciled with the other : but, 2dly, man authors, I will venture to add it was the death, not only of a man, but amongst modern authors generally, is also of a Falstaff: and we could not the two-headed power which he pos- but require that the description should sesses over the pathetic and the hu- revive the image and features of some
or, rather, let me say at morable a character; if not, why deonce, what I have often felt to be scribe it at all ?
The understanding true, and could (I think) at a fitting would as little bear to forget that it opportunity prove to be so, this was the death-bed of a Falstaff, as power is not two-headed, but a one the heart and affections to forget headed Janus with two faces :the that it was the death-bed of a fellow pathetic and the humorous are but creature. Lastly, the description is different phases of the same orb; given, not by the poet speaking in they assist each other, melt indis- his own universal language, but by cernibly into each other, and often Mrs. Quickly,-a character as indishine each through each like layers vidually pourtrayed, and as well of coloured chrystals placed one be- known to us, as the subject of her hind another. Take, as an illustra- description. Let me recapitulate: tion, Mrs. Quickly's account of Fal- first, it was to be pathetic, as relating staff's death :-here there were three to a man: 2dly, humorous, as rethings to be accomplished; first, the lating to Falstaff: 3dly, humorous death of a human being was to be in another style, as coming from Mrs. described; of necessity, therefore, Quickly. - These were difficulties to be described pathetically: for rather greater than those of levelling death being one of those events which hills, filling up vallies, and arrangcall up the pure generalities of hu- ing trees in picturesque groupes : yet man nature, and remove to the back- Capability Brown was allowed to ground all individualities, whether exclaim, on surveying a conquest of of life or character, the mind would his in this walk of art~ Aye! none not in any case endure to have it but your Browns and your G- Altreated with levity: so that, if any mighties can do such things as these." circumstances of humour are intro- Much more then might this irreve. duced by the poetic painter, they rent speech be indulged to the gramust be such as will blend and fall titude of our veneration for Shak, into harmony with the ruling passion speare, on witnessing such triumphs of the scene : and, by the way, com of his art. The simple words—" and bining it with the fact, that humor- a' babbled of green fields,” I should ous circumstances often have been imagine, must have been read by introduced into death-scenes, both many a thousand with tears and actual and imaginary,—this remark smiles at the same instant; I mean, of itself yields a proof that there is connecting them with a previous a humour which is in alliance with knowledge of Falstaff and of Mrs. pathos. How else could we have Quickly. Such then being demonborne the jests of Sir Thomas Moore strably the possibility of blending, or after his condemnation, which, as fusing, as it were, the elements of jests, would have been unseasonable pathos and of humour-and composfrom any body else: but being felt in ing out of their union a third mehim to have a root in his character, tal sui generis (as Corinthian brass, they take the dignity of humorous you know, is said to have been the traits ; and do, in fact, deepen the product of all other metals, from the pathos. So again, mere naïveté, or confluence of melted statues, &c. at archness, when it is felt to flow out the burning of Corinth);-I cannot of the cheerfulness of resignation, be- but consider John Paul Richter as by comes humorous, and at the same far the most eminent artist in that time, becomes pathetic: as, for in- way since the time of Shakspeare. stance, Lady Jane Gray's remark on What? you will say, greater than the scaffold—I have but a little Sterne ? -I answer, yes,
to my neck,” &c. But to return: the death thinking; and I could give some arof Falstaff, as the death of a man, guments and illustrations in support was in the first place to be described of this judgment. But I am not with pathos, and if with humour, no anxious to establish my own preotherwise than as the one could be ference, as founded on any thing of
better authority than my idiosyn- all attempts to illustrate, or express cracy, or more permanent, if you it adequately by images borrowed choose to think so, than my own from the natural world, from the caprice.
motions of beasts, birds, insects, &c. Secondly, Judge as you will on from the leaps of tigers or leopards, this last point, that is, on the com from the gamboling and tumbling of parative pretensions of Sterne and kittens, the antics of monkeys, or the Richter to the spolia opima in the running of antelopes and ostriches, fields of pathos and of humour; yet &c. are baffled, confounded, and made in one pretension he not only leaves ridiculous, by the enormous and Sterne at an infinite distance in the over-mastering superiority of ima rear, but really, for my part, I pression left by the thing illustrated. cease to ask who it is that he The rapid, but uniform motions of leaves behind him, for I begin to the heavenly bodies, serve well think with myself, who it is that he enough to typify the grand and conapproaches. "If á man could reach tinuous motions of the Miltonic. Venus or Mercury, we should not mind. But the wild, giddy, fantassay he has advanced to a great dis- tic, capricious, incalculable, springtance from the earth: we should say, ing, vaulting, tumbling, dancing, he is very near to the sun. So also, if waltzing, caprioling, pirouetting, in any thing a man approaches Shak- sky-rocketing of the chamois, the speare, or does but remind us of harlequin, the Vestris, the stormhim, all other honours are swallowed loving raven--the raven? no,
the lark, up in that: a relation of inferiority (for often he ascends singing up to to him is a more enviable distinction heaven's gates," but like the lark he than all degrees of superiority to dwells upon the earth,) in short, of others, the rear of his splendours a the Proteus, the Ariel, the Mercury, more eminent post than the supreme the monster-John Paul, can he comstation in the van of all others. I pared to nothing in heaven or earth, have already mentioned one quality or the waters under the earth, exof excellence, viz. the interpenetra- cept to the motions of the same fation* of the humorous and the pathe- culty as existing, in Shakspeare.tic, common to Shakspeare and John Perhaps, meteorology may hereafter Paul: but this, apart from its quan- furnish us with some adequate anatity or degree, implies no more of a logon or adumbration of its multituparticipation in Shakspearian excel- dinous activity: hereafter, observe: lence, than the possession of wit, for, as to lightning, or any thing we judgment, good sense, &c. which, in know at present, it pants after them some degree or other, must be com “ in vain," in company with that mon to all authors of any merit at pursy old gentleman Time,t as paintall. Thus far I have already said, ed by Dr. Johnson. To say the truth, that I would not contest the point John Paul's intellect—his faculty of of precedence with the admirers of catching at a glance all the relations Sterne : but, in the claim I now ad- of objects, both the grand, the vance for Richter, which respects a lovely, the ludicrous, and the fanquestion of degree, I cannot allow of tastic,- is painfully and almost morany competition at all from that bidly active: there is no respite, no quarter. What then is it that I claim? repose, allowed—no, not for a mo-Briefly, an activity of understand. ment, in some of his works, nor ing, so restless and indefatigable that whilst you can say Jack Robinson.
* Interpenetration :-this word is from the mint of Mr. Coleridge : and, as it seems to me a very “ laudable” word (as surgeons say of pus) I mean to patronize it ; and beg to recommend it to my friends and the public in general.-By the way, the public, of whose stupidity I have often reason to complain, does not seem to understand it: the prefix inter has the force of the French entre, in such words as s'entrelacer : recipro. cal penetration is the meaning: as if a black colour should enter a crimson one, yet not keep itself distinct ; but, being in turn pervaded by the crimson, each should diffuse itself through the other.
of “And panting Time toil'd after him in vain." So that, according to the Doctor, Shakspeare performed a match against Time; and, being backed by Nature, it seems he won it.