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and dashes are alive; so that the writing is athletic and nimble, - can go far and live long.
In England and America, one may be an adept in the writings of a Greek or Latin poet, without any poetic taste or fire.
That a man has spent years on Plato and Proclus, does not afford a presumption that he holds heroic opinions, or undervalues the fashions of his town. But the German nation have the most ridiculous good faith on these subjects: the student, out of the lecture-room, still broods on the lessons; and the professor can not divest himself of the fancy that the truths of philosophy have some application to Berlin and Munich. This earnestness enables them to outsee men of much more talent. Hence almost all the valuable distinctions which are current in higher conversation have been derived to us from Germany. But whilst men distinguished for wit and learning, in England and France, adopt their study and their side with a certain levity, and are not understood to be very deeply engaged, from grounds of character, to the topic or the part they espouse, Goethe, the head and body of the German nation, does not speak from talent, but the truth shines through: he is very wise, though his talent often veils his wisdom. However excellent his sentence is, he has somewhat better in view. It awakens my curiosity. He has the formidable
independence which converse with truth gives : hear you, or forbear, his fact abides ; and your interest in the writer is not confined to his story and he dismissed from memory when he has performed his task creditably, as a baker when he has left his loaf; but his work is the least part of him. The old Eternal Genius who built the world has confided himself more to this man than to any other.
I dare not say that Goethe ascended to the highest grounds from which genius has spoken. He has not worshipped the highest unity; he is incapable of a self-surrender to the moral sentiment. There are nobler strains in poetry than any he has sounded. There are writers poorer in talent, whose tone is purer
and more touches the heart. Goethe can never be dear to men. His is not even the devotion to pure truth; but to truth for the sake of culture. He has no aims less large than the conquest of universal nature, of universal truth, to be his portion: a man not to be bribed, nor deceived, nor overawed; of a stoical self-command and selfdenial, and having one test for all men, - What can you teach me? All possessions are valued by him for that only; rank, privileges, health, time, Being itself.
He is the type of culture, the amateur of all arts and sciences and events; artistic, but not artist : spiritual, but not spiritualist. There is nothing he
had not right to know: there is no weapon in the armory of universal genius he did not take into his hand, but with peremptory heed that he should not be for a moment prejudiced by his instruments. He lays a ray of light under every fact, and between himself and his dearest property. From him nothing was hid, nothing withholden. The lurking dæmons sat to him, and the saint who saw the dæmons; and the metaphysical elements took form. “Piety itself is no aim, but only a means whereby through purest inward peace we may attain to highest culture.” And his penetration of every secret of the fine arts will make Goethe still more statuesque. His affections help him, like women employed by Cicero to worm out the secret of conspirators. Enmities he has none. Enemy of him you may be, - if so you shall teach him aught which your good-will cannot, were it only what experience will accrue from your ruin.
ruin. Enemy and welcome, but enemy on high terms. He cannot hate any body; his time is worth too much. Temperamental antagonisms may be suffered, but like feuds of emperors, who fight dignifiedly across kingdoms.
His autobiography, under the title of “ Poetry and Truth out of my Life,” is the expression of the idea, — now familiar to the world through the German mind, but a novelty to England, Old and
New, when that book appeared, - that a man exists for culture; not for what he can accomplish, but for what can be accomplished in him. The reaction of things on the man is the only noteworthy result. An intellectual man can see him. self as a third person ; therefore his faults and delusions interest him equally with his successes. Though he wishes to prosper in affairs, he wishes more to know the history and destiny of man ; whilst the clouds of egotists drifting about him are only interested in a low success.
This idea reigns in the “Dichtung und Wahrheit" and directs the selection of the incidents ; and nowise the external importance of events, the rank of the personages, or the bulk of incomes. Of course the book affords slender materials for what would be reckoned with us a “Life of Goethe;' few dates, no correspondence, no details of offices or employments, no light on his marriage ; and a period of ten years, that should be the most active in his life, after his settlement at Weimar, is sunk in silence. Meantime certain love-affairs that came to nothing, as people say, have the strangest importance: he crowds us with details : -— certain whimsical opinions, cosmogonies and religions of his own invention, and especially his relations to remarkable minds and to critical epochs of thought :these he magnifies. His “ Daily and Yearly Jour
nal,” his “ Italian Travels,” his “Campaign in France" and the historical part of his “ Theory of Colors," have the same interest. In the last, he rapidly notices Kepler, Roger Bacon, Galileo, Newton, Voltaire, &c.; and the charm of this portion of the book consists in the simplest statement of the relation betwixt these grandees of European scientific history and himself; the mere drawing of the lines from Goethe to Kepler, from Goethe to Bacon, from Goethe to Newton. The drawing of the line is, for the time and person, a solution of the formidable problem, and gives pleasure when Iphigenia and Faust do not, without any cost of invention comparable to that of Iphigenia and Faust.
This lawgiver of art is not an artist. Was it that he knew too much, that his sight was microscopic and interfered with the just perspective, the seeing of the whole ? He is fragmentary; a writer of occasional poems and of an encyclopædia of sentences. When he sits down to write a drama or a tale, he collects and sorts his observations from a hundred sides, and combines them into the body as fitly as he can. A great deal refuses to incorporate: this he adds loosely as letters of the parties, leaves from their journals, or the like. A great deal still is left that will not find any place. This the bookbinder alone can give any cohesion to; and hence, notwithstanding the looseness of many of his