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Assings and beas, and me of
these love-sick people fall into another extreme, by giving up the phantom of an ideal affection for one of a more substantial character. Whether or not, they have profited by this exchange, it is no affair of ours to determine.
Among the sentimental and would be historical novels, that were particularly calculated to unsettle the mind of the young of both sexes, were those of the then much admired Professor Meissner, for example, his ‘Bianca Capello,' 'Alcibiades,' 'Epaminondas,' 'Spartacus,' 'Cæsar,' 'Masaniello,' and some others, which not unfrequently were looked upon as the ne plus ultra of historical romances. That they contain some fair points, cannot be disputed; but on the whole they are very trivial; and it is perhaps for this reason, as Menzel says, that they became popular. There were furthermore the novels,
Clara von Hoheneichen,' 'Petermännchen,' 'Die zwölf schlafenden Jungfrauen,' Benno von Elsenburg,' etc., by Spiess; all of which are scarcely more than a tirade on patience, human sufferings, and human foibles, and yet in those days they were considered as productions of surpassing beauty. But even these, notwithstanding their exaggerations and bombast, contain many original, stirring, and highly poetical ideas, and were not seldom remarkable for great powers of invention. Some of them written after the model of Goëthe, especially after his chivalrous drama, 'Götz von Berlichingen,' were distinguished for a certain wildness and natural sublimity which not unfrequently vary in their mood and character, whereby in many instances they proved in themselves antidotes to their own sen. timentalism, and often opposed the narrow prejudices, and stiff, though tame, customs prevailing in those days.
To this period also belongs the venerable canon Tiedge, who among others, wrote the 'Amy and Robert;' Urania,' and * The Wanderings through the Market of Life. Much resembling the generality of the novel writers of his day, he frequently affects an effeminate melancholy. But though in this respect faulty, he is, on the whole, rather honest than otherwise. Many trains of noble and moral feelings, given vent to in easy and elegant phraseology, are, in spite of the faults just enumerated, to be met with in his writings; and inasmuch as he is serious and sincere in his aim, he sometimes gives birth to profound ideas, among which God, religion, the immortality of the soul, and the freedom of man's will, are plentifully interspersed.
Although alive, and considered as two of the finest of the more recent German romantic writers, we deem it necessary to mention here two female novelists, who have proved an honour to their sex, and to the class of writers of which they constitute
worthy members. We allude to Ida Luisa Countess HahnHahn, and to Fanny Tarnow. The former of these, independent of all the writers of the day, has struck out a path for herself which is entirely her own. In her Reisebilder,' Jenseit der Berge, Cäcil, Reiseversuch im Norden,' Ulrich,' Gräfin Faustina,' and others, though not unfrequently composed in a style of deep melancholy, and in a certain strain of inexpressible sadness, the countess never closes up her heart: she never denies what sex she belongs to; and in a language at once the purest and the most chaste, gives herself up wholly to her noble sentiments, and openly avows to the world her tender susceptibilities. As a German writer justly observes, far from dipping her feelings seven times in the waters of a stupid and offensive prudery, she permits them to range in all their glow and power. : Possessed in like manner of an affectionate heart, and writing what she feels, Fanny Tarnow has become one of the greatest favourites of the day, and is considered by the Germans as a first-rate novelist. Her best works are ‘Natalie,'' Kleopatra,' and “Thekla,'—productions, the chief features and attractive points of which consist in natural feeling and feminine tenderness, void of every atom of sentimental prudery or masculine coarseness.
Kotzebue, though more celebrated as a dramatic than as a novel writer, produced two novels— Leiden der ortenbergischen Familie,' and 'Die Geschichte meines Vaters, oder wie es zuging, dass ich geboren wurde.' But these, as well as his other novels, are so much inferior to his dramatic writings, that they may justly be considered as the mere offspring of a passing humour. Yet they are not without merit, betraying a fine imagination, and great powers of invention, besides a light, graceful flow of spirited language. By far better is Moritz's ' Anton Reiser,' a psychological novel, in which the author describes his own life, as also the lower life in towns as they existed at the time. The whole is a highly interesting production, embodying many noble feelings, and acute philosophical and psychological remarks. A counterpart to this novel is the famous Engel's admirable satirical characteristic painting, 'Lorenz Stark,' which is considered by many as the best description of the higher life in towns then prevailing. .. Goëthe, as we have already seen, had produced a highly vigorous drama 'chevaleresque,' embodying the strongest sentiments of political freedom. This was the celebrated Götz von Berlichingen,' the sensation created by the appearance of which exceeds description. This work, the good folks of Germany. immediately commenced imitating, falling thereby,
was the the appear folks
however, from one extreme into another. If they had been dull sentimentalists and unexampled enthusiasts, they were now suddenly metamorphosed into knights and squires, giving themselves up con amore e con piacere to the rudeness and uncouthness of these worthies, and henceforth only dreamt of brimmers and castles, tournaments and combattings, freebootings, donjons, the Vehmgerichts,' and such like things. Among the first German writers, who imitated the 'Götz von Berlichingen,' were Babo, the author of the famous novel' Otto von Wittelsbach,' and the Count Thüring-Seefeld, who wrote ‘Agnes Bernauerin,' and `Kaspar der Thüringer. In these works, both authors showed how closely they imitated their model, and how strongly they could inveigh (notwithstanding their having written in a style and on a subject belonging to antiquity,) against existing tyrannical laws and institutions. But the work which created the greatest sensation was C. Vulpius's
Rinaldo Rinaldini, the Captain of Robbers,' a production which may be justly considered as forming the transition from the old honest coarseness of chivalry and freebooting to frivolity. Never did a novel meet with greater success than this frivolous creation, the hero of which, had evidently been modelled after Schiller's celebrated chief of robbers, Carl Moor. It would lead us too far, were we minutely to examine the merits of this work, or consider the mischief it caused. Suffice it to say, that whatever its merits and demerits may be, one thing is certain, viz., that the idea, that one may be a virtuous man and a consummate voluptuous libertine, a man of mark as well as a vain fop, which was conceived by this author, and, if we mistake not, by Göethe himself, is an abstraction to which some Germans are still inclined, and which is perceptible even in some of our own novels of more recent date.
This mischief increased on the appearance of Schiller's masterly performance ? The Ghost-seer,' which henceforth became the model for imitation by numberless scribblers. The result may easily be conceived. Hence it was, that the clever novels of Veit Weber, or G. Wächter, proved refreshing to those who were oppressed by the miserable scribbling of the period. V. Weber's novels are: 'Sagen der Vorzeit (Tales of Yore),
Wilhelm Tell,'and 'The Vehmgerichte in Austria. To these we must add his Briefe eines Frauenzimmers aus dem fünfzehnten Jarhundert. These productions, composed in the spirit of the middle age, afforded relaxation and an agreeable change to those who were already tired of ghosts, chivalry, thieving, adventures, and such-like exhibitions.
Heinse, librarian and reader to the Elector of Mayence, a kind and good-humoured, but rather sensual-minded, man, a disciple of the Wieland school, produced at this time the novels · Hildegard von Hohenthal,''Petronius,'' Kunst Roman,' and • Ardinghello.' The last, which much resembles Madame de Staëls Corinna,' but which in our opinion is superior to it, together with Tieck's and Wackenroder's 'Franz Sternbald's Wanderungen'-one of the finest novels German literature can boast of—and many other excellent productions, had, with few exceptions, a beneficial influence on the romantic literature of Germany.
Owing, no doubt, to the political storms of the times, and especially to the French Revolution, another change took place in the department of the German romance, which gave rise to the ‘Familienstücke' and Familiengemälde,' or domestic novels. The chief authors of this class were La Fontaine, Langbein, Schilling, Friedrich Count von Soden, Anton Ball, &c. The first, who had been chaplain to a regiment, was apparently the head of this school, and was almost worshipped by the romantic world. His writings are divided into 'Unterhaltende' and ‘Rührende Familiengemälde,'--entertaining and pathetic family pictures; yet, owing to the striking resemblance which they bear to one another, the difference between them is not very perceptible.
Of the immense number of tales and novels written by Schil. ling, Guido von Sohnsdom,' 'Der Roman im Roman,' 'Die Brautschau,' Röschens Geheimnisse,' and `Das Weib wie es ist,' are in the highest repute. Possessed of great knowledge of the world, a good humoured wit, and a charming conversational mode of expression, he endowed all his writings with an interest, which makes them even at this day pleasant and amusing companions. Langbein, like most of his contemporaries, is somewhat too free; in part from the exactness with which he describes the scenes and characters of that period. In some of his writings, especially in his tales, he moves with much ease and elegance, and in his poetical productions, evinces great powers of invention, a rich flow of spirit, and a certain degree of cheerfulness, which place him by the side of his gifted countryman, Bürger. Dullness, and now and then a little fri. volity, are among the distinguishing features of Laun's novels, the chef d'œuvre of which is the ‘Citizen of Cöln.' His writings were at one time in great request.
One of the noblest, and in our opinion, finest novelists of that period, is the bookseller, and (Berlin) academician, Nicolai, the intimate friend of the great Lessing, and of Moses Mendelsohn, a man to whom German literature is deeply indebted for the services which he rendered to it. Nicolai incessantly laboured to unite the whole nation, ordinarily separated by political divisions, by means of intellectual and moral ties. This he attempted by the publication of many admirable works, among others by his Bibliothek der schönen Wissenschaften,' 'Allgemeine Deutsche Bibliothek,' of both which he had been the editor, and his 'Briefe die neueste Literatur betreffend. He laboured in his capacity as bookseller and publisher, solely for science and the public good, and seldom from any mercenary motive. Neither the daily labours of his vocation, nor his in. numerable other engagements, ever induced him to become faithless to his muse. He very frequently spent whole nights over his books, and regardless of the many attractions which Berlin offered to the man of the world, and of the temptations which surrounded him to spend his time in society, he laboured like the best of his compatriots for the welfare of his countrymen, and the advancement of their literature. The German public had almost become a prey to a haughty and intolerant priesthood, whose evil influences had spread like wildfire throughout the land. Add to this the Anglomania, the Gallo and Greco-mania, in fact 'manias' of all sorts and con. ditions, especially that of book-making by translation, and the reader will have some idea of the unhappy state into which the country was plunged. The necessity of doing something to counteract these evils, and of aiming a bold stroke at this many. headed hydra, was evident to all. It is beyond our province to say how far Lessing succeeded in freeing the country from these and other evils. A similar task was reserved for Nicolai, and to it he addressed himself right earnestly. Like another Goliath, he appeared with his novel 'Sebaldus Nothanker ;' the effect of which was marvellous. His next, 'Der dicke Mann,' or the History of a stout Man, was intended to attack those vain scribblers, who gave themselves more credit for talent and learn. ing, than they in reality possessed. He describes the evil consequences arising from such assumption, and levels many satirical strokes at Kantianism, which at that period was the fashion. But his witty sallies at this system of philosophy in his third novel, “Sempronius Gundibert,' met with boundless applause. It was a production much needed ; a word spoken at the right time, it afforded accordingly no slight degree of pleasure and gratification. Nicolai did full justice to the acuteness and wisdom of the great author of the Criticism of Pure Reason;" but what annoyed him was the jargon of the ‘Pure Reason.' How could it be otherwise ? Cultivating, as he did, the friendship of the greatest German writers of the day, in and out of the Prussian capital, the intimate companion of two such luminaries as Lessing and Mendelsohn, whose brilliant philosophy, good humour, and elegant wit, were truly electrifying, how, we