Page images


indeed, but one which contains treasures of truth, purity, fervid imagination-allied 10 noble sentiment-grace of diction, and a power of wielding wingeil words rarely to be mei with even now, and certainly not

“ When Music, heavenly maid, was young," as is proved by the ingenious attempt of our authors 10 lighten to modern ears the quaint and heavy rhymes of Chaucer, who no doubt owed much of his celebrity to the fact that the “ maiden" being “young,” was sure to please, whatever uncouil garb it might suit her fancy to wear,

The poet's fate! oh, mourn it not;

Though cold neglect he often seels, Whate'er may be bis sadden'd loi,

To him all Nature lowly kneels. Yes ; though amid the sons of earılı

His name and lineage scarce are knownThough amid penury and dearth,

Nature, all Nature is his own.


To bim she spreads her verdant field

For bim her leafy forests wave; Sweet flow'rs their sweetest homage yield

E'en Ocean's depths bis notice crave. The sun, the moon, to his keen glance

In brighter radiance seem to glow; The stars from out their blue expanse

On him a purer light bestow.

The wealih of Afric's golden sands,

Remoter India's glili'ring gem, The deep sea's pearl and coral strauds,

Enrich bis self-form'd diadem. Nature's high-priest he stands enroll’d,

His temple is her spacious domeHis arms her varied stores ensold,

Around his path her laurels bloom.

“ Death has kiss'd thee into rest,

Lady of the pulseless breast;
Holy is the calm that now

Mantles o'er thy star-pale brow. “ All the beauty of thy life,

Free from care and woe and strise,
Hath upon thy marble face

Left the music of its grace.
“ What if those closed lips shall ne'er

Breathe again the spring-lide air,
When through thy intenser soul

The eternal glories roll ?
“ Too fair and pure a thing to strive

With human passion and survive;
Thou shuddering felt'st its stain of love,

And sought the holy joy above.
“ For each thought and deed of thine,

Were cast in model more divine
Than others are; the tie to bind

Human to the angel kind.
“ For, as a lamp by inner light

Is lighted up; so shined
Through thy features, pale, yet bright,

The radiance of thy mind.
Till at length the kindling flame

Blazed and burst the prison frame. “ As a young child from her sleep

Is waken'd by the song she sings,
As she lies in slumber deep ;

So the music of thy heart
Charm'd thee from thy flesh apart;
And thy bright imaginings

Gave thy gentle spirit wings.
" When the cold world's heavy clay

Is taken from the soul away,
By sudden wrench or slow decay,
The released captive fies
To childhood's angel home—the skies.”

E. L.

And richer treasures far than these

Await bis high and wond'rous pow'r, Which, like the gentle summer breeze,

Gathers the sweets of many a flow'r. And as that zephyr floats along,

Shedding a perfume from its wing, Will his rare gift of breathing song

On life's rough road a fragrance fling.

His the deep store of fertile thought,

Beauteous, etherial, refin'dIfis the rich mine with treasure (raught,

The untold majesty of mind-Ilis is the radiant alchemy,

That turns all substances to gold, And clothes in its own energy

Objects to others stern and cold,

True, he must feel Affiction's dart

Assail his breast with double pow'rMust writhe beneath the anguish'd smart

Of stern Misfortune's bilier hour: Yet is that sorrow well repaid

By moments of unspoken bliss ; As griefs for absence swiftly fade

Beneath returning Love's warm kiss.

Ile who success in love would gain,
Must walk through shadows and through pain :
And who would win the highest good,
Must boldly strive through storm and food.


For “ He who doeth all things well"

Tempers the gold with some alloy;
Else would the soul, er raptur'd, dwell

Below, nor seek eternal joy.
For none that know this fairy pow'r

Would strive to break the silver chain ;
Or lose their high and priceless dow'r
For all earth's secret stores contain.



SKETCIIES OF GERMAN LITERATURE. | duced it at once - nor was she wrong in her judg

ment; the piece was most favourably received, and the name of the successful author announced

in the next bills. The illness of his mother, howNo. III. Lessing.

ever, recalled him from this scene; he became

once more reconciled to his family, and on proGottfried Ephraim Lessing was born at Ka- mising reformation, his father interested himself to meniz, in Upper Lusatia, on the 22nd Jan., 1729. get him re-admitted to the university for another His father, a clergyman, was himself an author, year, and thus give him an opportunity of redeemwrote a great deal, was a worshipper of talent, and ing his mis-spent hours. But his good resolutions always ambitious of the honour of showing hospi- were evanescent; his distaste for serious study tality to whatever men of genius chanced to visit bad become too deeply rooted to be shaken off; Kameniz; and it was this early association with he returned to his old habits and companions, and men of talent which doubtless first predisposed the finding that Madame Neuber had transferred her son to seek literary distinction, and gave a bias to favours to a richer admirer, he consoled himself his mind which influenced it through life ; for in with the charms of a more youthful actress, and his very earliest years he was passionately fond of shortly set off with her to Berlin, where he is said reading. The first school to which young Lessing to have tried his fortune on the stage, but evidently was sent was at Meissen, and there he continued without success, for he soon afterwards wrote until 1746, displaying extraordinary diligence in home in great distress for assistance; but his family every branch of study, and outstripping all his were 100 poor 10 give him more than mere tempocompetitors. While there be translated several of rary aid, and thus compelled to look about for the odes of Anacreon, and at the request of his himself, he resolved to devote his talents to literafather, who wished to pay a compliment to Lieut. ture, and particularly to those paths least trodden by Col. Carlowitz, wrote a German poem celebrating his countrymen, viz., poetry and the belles lettres. the baitle of Kesseldorf. He was entered at the His first productions consisted of one or two university of Leipzig in his seventeenth year, but dramatic pieces, which appeared in a journal enthere, however, his attention to study became less titled “ Ermunterungen zum Vergnügen." regular; le mingled with the students, who laughed In October, 1750, Lessing and his early school at his gravity and rusticity, and soon induced him, friend, Mylius, conjointly started a periodical by their ridicule and persuasions, to learn to ride, publication, entitled « Beiträge zur Historie und dance, and fence, and also to frequent the theatre, Aufnahme des Theaters ;" wherein it was their infor which amusement he speedily acquired a detention to have taken an bistorical and critical survey cided passion. So great was the alteration in his of the state of the drama throughout Europe, but character that in a very short time he became the the work only reached its fourth number. Lessing ringleader of all the libertines, scarcely studied at also published a volume of poems under the title all, and affected a supreme contempt for all the of“ Kleinigkeiten," which met with some success professors. His favourite resort was the green then, and are now well known. At the request of room-he sought the society of actors and actresses, his father he came to Wittenberg at this time, and became the favoured admirer of Madame where his brother was then studying, and they Neuber, the directress of the theatre-a very beau- projected the translation of Klopstock’s “ Mestiful woman, and a talented performer. His siah" nto Latin, but, hearing that a similar work parents vainly remonstrated with him, and en- had been commenced by the Danish chaplin at treated bim io resume his studies; but he per- Madrid, abandoned the idea. Lessing studied sisted in his wild career. Notwithstanding these Spanish, and undertook the translation of Xuarte's excesses, however, he formed several advantageous “Examen de los Ingenios," and in 1751 was literary connections and friendships.

elected an honorary fellow of the society of “ The In 1749, the term of his attendance at the Friends of Science.” university expired, and his father announced to In 1753 Lessing quitted Wittenberg and rehim his expectations that he would immediately turned again to Berlin, where he took the post take orders, or go up for his diploma, nor longer formerly held by his friend Mylius, who had debe a burden to his friends. But Lessing did not parted for America, namely, the editorship of the believe in religion, his mind having been led astray literary and scientific portion of the Vossischen by the wild and extravagant doctrines of a set of newspaper; and here he became intimately acfree-thinkers; and the study of medicine had ever quainted with Moses Mendelsohn and Nicolai, been distasteful to him. The justly irritated and the friendship of this trio being based on symfather, on learning this, bade him provide for him-pathy of mind and disposition, and unity of purself as best be could, and refused longer to im- pose, proved highly beneficial to all three. One poverish the family by supporting him in his idle of the first-fruits of this triune plant of friendship ness and extravagance. The first step of the young growth was a dissertation by Lessing and Mendelman, on being thus thrown on his own resources, sohn, entitled “ Pope als Metaphysiker,” pubwas to follow Madame Neuber and her company to lished in 1754, the object of which was to prove Ilamburgh, where he translated several 'French that this great English poet had no fixed philosopieces for the theatre, and wrote an original one, phical principles. Lessing withdrew himself for a entitled “ The Young Pedant," which he submitted while from the busy capital, and retired to Potsto his partial patroness. Madame Neuber ap- dam, where he wrote “Miss Sara Sampson," his proved of it very much, had it got up, and pro- first dramatic work of any great note. "This play

[ocr errors]

excited a wonderful sensation throughout Germany , with renewed energy and spirit to his literary --was translated into several other languages, labours. “ Gespräche für Freimauer," and became one of the most successful pieces ihat treatise on some newly-discovered manuscripts of had ever been produced ; in fact, it was almost the Berenger," “ Emilia Galoiti," “ Wolfenbüttelfirst actual specimen of domestic tragedy that schen Fragmenti," or an account of the WolfenGermav literature could lay claim 10. In 1757 bütiel Library, and a work entitled « Uber das Lessing and his friends Mendelsohn and Nicolai Alier der Oelmalerei,"or,“On the Antiquity of Oilconjointly undertook the production of the “Bi- painting," rapidly succeeded each other. His last bliothek der Schönen Wissenschaften," or "Library drama, and almost his last literary effusionof Arts and Sciences ;" a work which may with “Nathan der Weise," appeared in 1779. His health justice be said to be one of the best literary journals and spirits were then rapidly declining ; study had which Germany ever possessed, and one which prematurely exhausted all his powers, boih of may be referred to, even now, with advantage and mind and body, and the sudden decease of his pleasure, by such as are curious in literary re- beloved wite gave the finishing stroke. He be. searches, so great is the value and variety of the came subject to frequent fits of lethargy, from criticisms and information which it contains. Be- which noting could rouse him; his once brilliant tween the years 1753 and 60 he also wrote his and active mental energies were entirely prostrated, "Fables;" a lite of Sophocles, after the manner of and he died on the 15th of Feb., 1781, in the 53rd Bayle; translated Diderot's dramatic works; and year of his age. in conjunction with his friends published the Such is the number of this author's works and “ Literatur briefe."

the variety of their subjects that it would take a In 1760 he accepted the post of secretary 10 the volume to give anything like a satisfactory account Governor of Breslau, Gen. Von Tauenzien, and of them all; and besides, intrinsically valuable as removed to that place, where he became addicted many of them are, they would not be interesting to gaming. The faro-table became to him an all-10 the general reader; we shall therefore content powerful magnet of attraction ; and although, so ourselves with reviewing his poetical and dramatic far as money was concerned, he was usually suc

works, and merely glancing at the others. cessful, the intense excitement induced by the “ Der junge Gelehrte," or the Young Pedant, fluctuating chances of this baneful, yet fascinating Lessing's first play, was published in 1747, when vice, bad a prejudicial effect on his lealth. His he was only in his 18th year. The plot turns upon friends believed him lost to the literary world ; and the vanity of a talented and very self-conceited even Mendelsohn was so convinced of the power young man, who is, in his own opinion, from his of this infatuation over his mind that he thus learning and genius, the eighth wonder of the alluded to him

world. His father, a worldly-wise old gentleman,

wishes to unite bim to his cousin Juliana, who has " When he nought hears, nought feels, nought just been discovered to be an heiress. Damis, says,

who has no liking for her, is at first averse to the Nought sees, what does he then? He plays."

alliance, then indifferent, and finally acquiesces,

as he says, to save himself from having his studies Lessing himself, however, broke this chain, and broken in upon, and his valuable time wasted by in 1765 resigned his appointment, tore himself discussions on so trifling a subject. Juliana is from bis pernicious habits, and returned Berlin, however beloved by Valer, and he and her altenwhere he proved to bis friends that he had noi dant plot together to deceive the old man into the been so wholly engrossed by pleasure as they belief that she actually is not entitled to the forfeared, by producing “ Minna von Barnhelm," tune which tempts him to seek her for a daughterone of the most celebrated of his comedies, and in-law, and he then desires his son to think no shortly afterwards the “ Laokoon," that treasure more of her, and gladly agrees to bestow ber on house of researches into antiquities, literary, poet- Valer. Damis resigns his hopes of becoming a ical, and philosophical. This was followed in benedict as coolly as he assumed them, and re1767 by his incomparable work, “ Die Drama-turns to bis studies; but his vanity receives some lurgie," the composition of which was induced by heavy blows, and he resolves to travel. An exthe office he had accepted of director of the theatre planation ensues, and all ends happily for the at Hamburg, but which he held only for a few lovers. The spirit of the piece is well kept up by years, in consequence of some disagreement that the intrigues of the lively soubrette, and the servility arose between him and the stage-manager. He and knavery of the valet. subsequently became connected with a publisher In point of general execution this comedy in that city, and having entered into an argument greatly resembles some of the old rhymed French with the talented Geheimrath Klotz, of Halle, was comedies. Damis, the hero, is sketched with no induced to publish his “ Antequarischen Briefe." small degree of humour, and his pedantry, conceit, The concern however failed, and Lessing sound and folly, are cleverly hit off. Chrysander, 100, himself once more almost penniless.

the old father, who, not to be out-done by his The exertions of his friend Ebert procured for talented son, interludes his worldly wisdom with him in 1770 the office of librarian in ihe Wolsen- Latin proverbs and quotations, is an amusing perbüttel Library, a celebrated and extensive collec- sonage. The other characters are neither better nor tion, comprising about 10,000 manuscripts and worse than those which usually figure in light 200,000 volumes ; this opened to him a new field comedies of this nature. for bis powers, and he once more devoted himself “ Der Misogyn," the Woman Ilater, bas a son and daughter. The latter he is willing and the dialogue is often heavy and vapid, and the eager to bestow on lier lover, Leander, in order whole is deficient in bumour and effect. 1o get rid of her; but the former, who is des- “Der Schatz,” The Treasure, is modernized from perately enamoured of flilaria, in vain implores one of the comedics by Plautus; il comprises only his father's consent to his marriage : the old male characters, having been written for ihe officers man uses every argument in his power 10 dis- of a Prussian regiment quartered at Leipsig. The suade him from matrimony, and from female so- plot is common-place, but the dialogue is infinitely ciety generally. Hilaria, who has assumed male superior to that of any of Lessing's original attire, pretends to agree with him in all his comedies. opinions, and so wins upon the old gentleman that “ Die Kleinigkeiten” consist clicy of minor he says if her sister resembled her he might almost poems and epigrams; the latter are chiefly be induced to consent. She is introduced to him modernized from Plautus, and some few are in her own dress, but he obstinately asserts that composed in Latin. The former are graceful there is not the slightest resemblance between the trifles, and by no means deficieut in poetic merit. two, and it is only when the deception practised “Miss Sara Sampson.”—The heroine, who gives on him is made palpable that he yields a reluctant the name 10 this play, has fled from her home with consent to the wishes of his son. The under plot Mellafont, and we find her residing with him at a is kept up by Laura, Leander, and a soubreite; small inn, sad, penitent, and anxiously awaiting Laura is so charmed by the fascinating Lelio, the period when they shall be united; which has Hilaria's nom de guerre, that she slights her lover, been deferred because he will forfeit some property nor will deign to look on bim, until she discovers bequeathed to him by an eccentric relative unless bow she too has been deceived.

he weds the lady specified in her will, and MellaThis comedy tells better on the stage than in the font is endeavouring 10 get over this difficulty, as closet, the situations being amusing and effective, otherwise he will have nothing to support his wife although the dialogue is often vapid. The charac- with, having run through all his properly. Marters possess little individuality, but fill their places wood, formerly a mistress of Mellafont's, but who respectably.

bas latterly been cast off by him, discovers his "Die Juden,” The Jew.-A baron and his hiding place, and not only follows him thither, but daughter, while travelling, are attacked by robbers, writes to Sir William Sampson, informing him bearing the appearance of Jews, and are only where he may find bis daughter; and the old rescued by the gallantry and bravery of a traveller baronet and his servant arrive at the inn. Marand his servant who chance to pass. The old wood sends for Mellafont, endeavours by every noble gratefully invites his preserver to his castle; art to win him back, and so simulates affection, and the young lady, as in duty bound, falls generosity, and disinterested regard, that Mellafont straight way in love with the hero. Many and almost gives way; she is aided too in her schemes violent are the philippics in which the baron by the artless love of her child for its father, a indulges against the whole race of Jews, whom he child which he had removed from her and provided stigmatizes as capable of every villany, and for, but which she has again obtained possession degraded below the level of human nature. They of, and brought with her in hopes of ihus more are anxious to discover who their guest and pre- powerfully working on his feelings. But the server is, and Lisette, a lively soubrette, is set 10 recollection of Sara comes in time to preserve find out. She pumps the stranger's servant; but Mellafont from the spells of the sorceress, and lie he tells her nothing, for the best of all reasons, he bids ber adieu for ever. Finding all her arts knows nothing. She tries the effect of bribes, and rain, Marwood upbraids him with all the fury of templed by that, he invents a fine romance, making a vengeful and wicked woman, and even goes so bis master out to be of noble birth, and endowed far as 10 attempt his life, but being disarmed, with all the gifts of fortune. Circumstances implores pardon for her violence, attributes it 10 enable the stranger to detect two of the robbers her intense love for him, and promises compliance among the baron's most trusted servants, and the with his wishes, if he will only allow her once to valuable stolen property is thus regained. The see and speak 10 Sara—that she may know the baron offers his daughter's hand to the man who rival for whom she is forsaken. Mellafont prohas thus benefited him, and whose character and mises this, and introduces her to Sara as a near sentiments have won his esteem; the young lady relative. Sara, who has been rendered happy by blushingly acquiesces; but the stranger hesitates, the receipt of an affectionate letter from her father, and confesses himself a Jew. The piece terminales promising pardon 10 both her and Mellafont, abruptly, leaving us in doubt as to the ultimate receives her most courteously, is won by her speconclusion which will be come to by all parties. cious manners, and confides to her all ber bright

This comedy is by no means deficient in humour; hopes for the future. Mellafont is called away, the dialogue in some parts is piquant, and the and Marwood, maddened with rage to find that all situations effective. Like many of Lessing's her schemes have failed, begins to speak of him, to works, its general bearing is an advocacy of describe his early life, his extravagance, his extolerance, and the folly of violent prejudices for cesses; and then alludes to herself

, whom she or against any particular sect is amusingly describes in the most amiable colours, as an innoheld up to view ; but the end is vague and cent, affectionale girl, seduced by him, and then unsatisfactory.

basely deserted, together with her child. Sara “ Der Freigeist," Free-thioker.-The title defends her lover warmly, and the irritated Mar, develops the plot, which is unmarked by incident; wood declares herself. Sara faints, Marwood

assists her servant in recovering her, and then The character of the boy prince is a fine, retires. Mellafont, who has been kept away by a spirited delineation—that of the king merely stratagem, returns hastily and anxiously; he tinds common-place. Parmenio appears to us an almost Sara recovering from her fainting fit, but very superfluous personage; at any rate he is a mere weak, and Beity eulogizing the kindness of the duplicate of the fine old soldier, Strato. The 3trange lady who would, with her own hands, style and sentiment is heroic. administer the restoratives. Sir William enters, and We quote the concluding scene :a reconciliation takes place; but Sara grows worse and worse. A note is brought to Mellafont, it is from Marwood, stating that she is avenged, that

SCENE VIIT. Aridäus-Philotas-Strato. she mingled poison with the cordial she mixed for Sara, and before those lines reach him will be Strato.-I have brought one of thy swords. beyond his reach; but that he is welcome to the

Aridaus.-Give it to me. Wilt thou accept it, child, as she wishes not to retain any memorial of Privce, in exchange for thine own? him. Sara soothes the agony of her father and Philotas.-Let us see. Ha! (aside) I thank ye, lover, destroys the note in order that no evidence ye Gods! (gazes long and earnestly at it) A sword ! may remain against her murderess, beseeches her Stru.—Have I not chosen well, Prince ? father 10 proiect the deserted child, and dies. Mella font stabs himself with the dagger he took such deep thought?

Arid. ---What dost thou find there worthy of from Marwood.

Phil.—That it is a sword! (recollecting himself) The dialogue of this play is often heavy, and And a beautiful weapon. I shall not lose by the speeches far too long and tedious; neither do such an exchange. A sword ! the manners and customs very faithfully represent

Arid.-You tremble, Prince. those of England. Mellafout bol! addresses Sara

Phil.-It is then with joy. This weapon is, and speaks of her as my Miss." There is methinks, somewhat short; but what matters that? evideni lack of imaginative power, and yet the

we need but lo approach a step nearer to the plot is well digested, and the interest carefully

enemy. Dear sword ! How beautiful a thing is supported, and gradually worked up until it reaches

a sword, either for show or use! I never had any the climax. The situations too are many of them other toy. good and effective, and the characters well indi. vidualized. It has been translated into French and hero here blended together!

Arid. (to Strato)-How strangely is the child and Italian and played in those countries with great success. We should place it on a level with I were alone with thee!

Phil. (aside)— Beloved sword! Oh, would that that English stock-piece which used to be periodically brought forward as a warning to wild youths,

Arid.-Come, Prince, gird on thy weapon and

follow me! “ George Barnwell." “ Pbilotas” comprises only one act. When this should be able to recognize his friend and sword at

Phil.-Immediately! I've heard it said, one play commences, we find the young prince Philotas wounded and a prisoner, and grieving at the sight (draws it from the sheath; Strato steps bethought that his father's affection will lead him 10

tween him and the king). ransom him by the sacrifice of some dearly-won ornamental part; and trust me, Prince, the one

Stra.-I understand the steel better than the conquest or territory. King Aridäus comes to

Many a helm has our visit bis captive, and thinks to console him by the you bold is good and true. information that his son has been taken by the King cleft therewith in his youthful days. father of Philotas, and therefore an exchange of

Phil.--I shall ne'er become so strong. Approach prisoners can be amicably arranged. But the not so closely, Strato. brave and patriotic boy is only the more grieved by

Stra.- Why not? this intelligence; he sees at a glance all the advan- Phil.-So! (springs back, and makes passes tages which might have accrued to bis father and through the air with his weapon) Yes, yes, it will country had it not been for his unfortunate capture.

do. Aridäus sends his follower and fellow-prisoner 10 Arid.-Spare thy wounded arm, Prince; thou bim, in order that he may dispatch a message to wilt but agitate thyself. his father, bringing about an arrangement; but Phil.-Ah, King! what is it thou dost recall 10 the only message Philotas sends is an urgent en memory? My misfortune-my shame. Yes, I treaty that his father will take no step whatever in was wounded-am a prisoner! But never will I the matter until the following day. The king again be so. No, by this, my sword, I swear itagain visits his young captive, and won by the never! No, my father, no! This time fortune high spirit of the noble boy invites him to come has placed in thy hands a ransom for thy son; to his royal tent, on parole, until all is arranged. death shall save thee all future trouble. His death Philotas declines this invitation on the plea that he whene'er again he finds himself surrounded -could not possibly appear before all the generals surrounded ! Horror-I am so now! Companions, and warriors unarmed, and the king bids his friends, brothers-at-arms, where art thou ? All

Then must attendant Strato fetch one of his own swords, dead ! none near me bul enemies ! which he presents 10 the young prince, who thou cut thy way through them, Philotas. Ha! eagerly grasps the offered treasure, apostrophizes dost dare iinpede my course ? Take that-and it, and stabs himself; thus giving thie advantage thou that (dealing blows around him with a wild once more to his father,

und vacant air),

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »