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mixed, you will recognise the so-called German drama. The olla podrida thus cooked up, was denounced, by the best critics in Germany, as the mere cramps of weakness, and orgasms of a sickly imagination on the part of the author, and the lowest provocation of torpid feeling on that of the readers. The old blunder, however, concerning the irregularity and wildness of Shakspeare, in which the German did but echo the French, who again were but the echoes of our own critics, was still in vogue, and Shakspeare was quoted as authority for the most anti-Shakspearean drama. We have indeed two poets who wrote as one, near the age of Shakspeare, to whom (as the worst characteristic of their writings) the Coryphæus of the present drama may challenge the honor of being a poor relation, or impoverished descendant. For if we would charitably consent to forget the comic humor, the wit, the felicities of style, in other words, all the poetry, and nine-tenths of all the genius of Beaumont and Fletcher, that which would remain becomes a Kotzebue.
The so-called German drama, therefore, is English in its origin, English in its materials, and English by re-adoption; and till we can prove that Kotzebue, or any of the whole breed of Kotzebues, whether dramatists or romantic writers, or writers of romantic dramas, were ever admitted to any other shelf in the libraries of well-educated Germans than were occupied by their originals, and apes' apes in their mother country, we should submit to carry our own brat on our own shoulders; or rather consider it as a lack-grace returned from transportation with such improve. ments only in growth and manners as young transported convicts usually come home with.
I know nothing that contributes more to a clear insight into the true nature of any literary phenomenon, than the comparison of it with some elder production, the likeness of which is striking, yet only apparent, while the difference is real.
In the present case this opportunity is furnished us, by the old Spanish play, en
led Atheista Fulminata, formerly, and perhaps still, acted in the churches and monasteries of Spain, and which, under various names (Don Juan, the Libertine, fc.), has had its day of favor in every country throughout Europe. A popularity so extensive, and of a work so grotesque and extravagant, claims and
merits philosophical attention and investigation. The first point to be noticed is, that the play is throughout imaginative. Nothing of it belongs to the real world, but the names of the places and persons. The comic parts, equally with the tragic; the living, equally with the defunct characters, are creatures of the brain : as little amenable to the rules of ordinary probability, as the Satan of PARADISE Lost, or the Caliban of THE TEMPEST, and, therefore, to be understood and judged of as impersonated abstractions. Rank, fortune, wit, talent, acquired knowledge, and liberal accomplishments, with beauty of person, vigorous health, and constitutional hardihood,—all these advantages, elevated by the habits and sympathies of noble birth and national character. are supposed to have combined in Don Juan, so as to give him the means of carrying into all its practical consequences the doctrine of a godless nature, as the sole ground and efficient cause not only of all things, events, and appearances, but likewise of all our thoughts, sensations, impulses, and actions. Obedience to nature is the only virtue: the gratification of the passions and appetites her only dictate : each individual's selfwill the sole organ through which nature utters her commands, and
“ Self-contradiction is the only wrong!
For, by the laws of spirit, in the right
That speculative opinions, however impious and daring they may be, are not always followed by correspondent conduct, is most true, as well as that they can scarcely in any instance be systematically realized, on account of their unsuitableness to human nature and to the institutions of society. It can be hell, only where it is all hell; and a separate world of devils is necessary for the existence of any one complete devil. But on the other hand it is no less clear, nor, with the biography of Carriera
6 [First Part of Wallenstein, translated from Schiller. Coleridge's Poet. Works. Vol. iii. S. C.]
? [This man figured in that last and worst state of the French Revolution, that state of seven-fold possession, when Jacobinism, having borne
and his fellow atheists before us, can it be denied without wilful blindness, that the (so called) system of nature (that is materialism, with the utter rejection of moral responsibility, of a present Providence, and of both present and future retribution) may influence the characters and actions of individuals, and even of communities, to a degree that almost does away the distinction between men and devils, and will make the page of the future historian resemble the narration of a madman's dreams. It is not the wickedness of Don Juan, therefore, which constitutes the character an abstraction, and removes it from the rules of probability ; but the rapid succession of the correspondent acts and incidents, his intellectual superiority, and the splendid accumulation of his gifts and desirable qualities, as co-existent with entire wickedness in one and the same person. But this likewise is the very circumstance which gives to this strange play its charm and universal interest. Don Juan is, from beginning to end, an intelligible character: as much so as the Satan of Milton. The poet asks only of the reader, what, as a poet, he is privileged to ask: namely, that sort of negative faith in the ex
down all its rival opponents, was riding in triumph through the land like Death in the Revelations. In this drama of dream-like horrors Carrier sustained his part so as to be “famous for ever.” Mr. Carlyle, in that chapter of his French Revolution which is headed Destruction, gives an awful account of Representative Carrier's proceedings in La Vendée, and of his horrid bon-mots, worthy of a laughing hyæna possessed by the spirit of cruelty. “ Sentence of Deportation,” writes Carrier, “ was executed vertically.” That is a gabarre with ninety priests under hatches, was sunk in the Loire, on signal given. “ This was the first of the Noyades, which we may call Drownages, of Carrier,”- -“ By degrees daylight itself witnesses Noyades : women and men are tied together, feet and feet, hands and hands : and flung in: this they call Mariage Républicain, Republican Marriage.—Dumb, out of suffering, now, as pale swoln corpses, the victims tumble confusedly seaward along the Loire stream: the tide rolling them back : clouds of ravens darken the river, wolves prowl on the shoal-places: Carrier writes, “Quel torrent revolutionnaire. What a torrent of Revolution ! For the man is rabid and the time is rabid. These are called the Noyades of Carrier twenty-five by the tale.”—Mr Carl: le calls this “the blackest aspect of the consummation of Sanscullettisa.." The worst part of his account is too dreadful to quote. See also Revilutionary Plutarch, vol. iii., p. 105. S. C.]
istence of such a being, which we willingly give to productions professedly ideal, and a disposition to the same state of feeling, as that with which we contemplate the idealized figures of the Apollo Belvidere, and the Farnese Hercules. What the Hercules is to the eye in corporeal strength, Don Juan is to the mind in strength of character. The ideal consists in the happy balance of the generic with the individual. The former makes the character representative and symbolical, therefore instructive; because, mutatis mutandis, it is applicable to whole classes of men.
The latter gives its living interest ; for nothing lives or is real, but as definite and individual. To understand this completely, the reader need only recollect the specific state of his feelings, when in looking at a picture of the historic (more properly of the poetic or heroic) class, he objects to a particular figure as being too much of a portrait; and this interruption of his complacency he feels without the least reference to, or the least acquaintance with, any person in real life whom he might recognise in this figure. It is enough that such a figure is not ideal: and therefore not ideal, because one of the two factors or elements of the ideal is in excess. A similar and more powerful objection he would feel towards a set of figures which were mere abstractions, like those of Cipriani, and what have been called Greek forms and faces, that is, outlines drawn according to a recipe. These again are not ideal ; because in these the other element is in excess. " Forma formars per formam formatam translucens," 8 is the definition and perfection of ideal art.
This excellence is so happily achieved in the Don Juan, that it is capable of interesting without poetry, nay, even without words, as in our pantomime of that name. We see clearly how the character is formed ; and the very extravagance of the incidents, and the super-human entireness of Don Juan's agency, prevents the wickedness from shocking our minds to any painful degree. We do not believe it enough for this effect; no, not even with that kind of temporary and negative belief or acqui.
8 Better thus : Forma specifica per formam individualem translucens : or better yet-Species individualizata, sive Individuum cuilibet Speciei determinatæ in omni parte correspondens et quasi versione quadam ean interpretans et repetens.
escence which I have described above. Meantime the qualities of his character are too desirable, too flattering to our pride and our wishes, not to make up on this side as much additional faith as was lost on the other. There is no danger (thinks the spectator or reader) of my becoming such a monster of iniquity as Don Juan! I never shall be an atheist! I shall never disallow all distinction between right and wrong! I have not the least inclination to be so outrageous a drawcansir in my love affairs ! But to possess such a power of captivating and enchanting the affections of the other sex !—to be capable of inspiring in a charming and even a virtuous woman, a love sodeep, and so entirely personal to me!—that even my worst vices (if I were vicious), even my cruelty and perfidy (if I were cruel and perfidious), could not eradicate the passion !—to be so loved for my own self, that even with a distinct knowledge of my character, she yet died to save me !this, sir, takes hold of two sides of our nature, the better and the worse. For the heroic disinterestedness, to which love can transport a woman, cannot be contemplated without an honorable emotion of reverence towards womanhood : and, on the other hand, it is among the miseries, and abides in the dark ground-work of our nature, to crave an outward confirmation of that something within us, which is our very self, that something, not made up of our qualities and relations, but itself the supporter and substantial basis of all these. Love me, and not my qualities, may be a vicious and an insane wish, but it is not a wish wholly without a meaning.
Without power, virtue would be insufficient and incapable of revealing its being. It would resemble the magic transforma. tion of Tasso's heroine into a tree, in which she could only groan and bleed.8 Hence power is necessarily an object of our desire and of our admiration. But of all power, that of the mind is, on every account, the grand desideratum of human ambition. We shall be as gods in knowledge, was and must have been the first temptation : and the co-existence of great intellectual lordship with guilt has never been adequately represented without exciting the strongest interest, and for this reason, that in this bad and heterogeneous co-ordination we can contemplate the
8[Gerusalemme Liberata. Canto xiii., st. 38, et seq. S. C.]