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• ing and declamation. I excused myself one evening, when she represented Phedra, and when she was by no means satisfied with the moderate approbation she received.
• To philosophize in company, is to speak with liveliness about problems which are inexplicable. This was her peculiar plea• sure and passion, and her philosophizing spirit was carried, in
the heat of talking, into matters of thought and sentiment, which • are only fitted to be discussed between God and one's own heart. Besides this, like a woman and a Frenchwoman, she adhered obstinately to her own positions, and shut her ears against the greater part of what was said by others.
* All this had a tendency to rouse the evil spirit within me, so • that I generally received with objections and contradictions • every thing she brought forward, and sometimes, by my determined opposition, drove her to despair.
drove her to despair. In this situation, indeed, she generally appeared most amiable, and displayed in ' a striking light her quickness in thought and power of reply. I had several continuous tête-à-tête conversations with her, in which, in her usual style, she was tiresome enough; for she never would allow a moment's reflection even on the most important suggestions, but would have had the most profound and • interesting matters discussed with the same rapidity, as if we had been merely employed in keeping up a racket-ball.
• One anecdote of this kind may find a place here. One even«ing at the court, Madame de Stael advanced to me, and said, with lively feeling, “ I have important news for you; Moreau has been arrested, along with some others, and accused of treachery to the Tyrant.” I had, like others, for a long time taken much interest in the personal concerns and actions of that noble man; I now recalled the past to my remembrance, in order, in 'my own way, to examine the present, and to draw some conclu
sion as to the future. The lady changed the subject, directing • her conversation to a thousand indifferent matters; and when she perceived that I, wrapped up in my own meditations, was not answering her with much interest, she assailed me again with her usual reproach, that I was sulky, as usual, this evening, and no cheerful talk to be had with me. I got a little angry, and told her she was incapable of real sympathy—that • she might as well break into my house, give me a box on the ear, and then tell me to go on with my song, as dance from one topic to another. This burst was quite after her own heart; she wished to excite passion, no matter what. In order to pacify 6 me, she described to me the whole particulars of the accident, 6 and in doing so, displayed her deep acquaintance with the situa
tion of affairs as well as character. Her intercourse with society in Germany has, in its results, been of deep importance and influence. Her work on Germany, which owes its origin to such social conversations, has been like the march of a powerful expedition, by which a breach has been effected in the Chinese « wall of those antiquated prejudices which separated us from • France, and been the means of extending a knowledge of us over the Rhine, and even across the Channel, and of spreading our influence into the distant West.'
In 1805, the correspondence before us was closed for ever by the seal of death. Schiller's indisposition, never entirely overcome, had, in consequence of a violent cold caught during the inclement spring of that year, gradually become worse, till, on the 9th of May, it reached a crisis. He had been delirious towards the morning of that day, but the paroxysm abating towards noon, he fell into a sound sleep. Once more before his death his mind resumed its customed serenity and resignation. Tranquilly and touchingly he took farewell of his friends, and gave directions for his funeral. Some one enquiring how he felt, he said, • Calmer and calmer. Soon after, he sunk again into a slumber, which gradually deepened into death.
During this time Goethe was himself the victim of sickness. When he had last parted with Schiller, he had found him about to go to the theatre, to which Goethe had been unable to accompany him. “And so we parted at bis door,' says he, never to meet again. In the situation, mental and bodily, in which I was, no one ventured to bring me the news of his death. He bad ' expired upon the 9th, and thus all my evils and sufferings fell
upon me with treble weight.' In conclusion, we may express our hope, that the venerable editor, now the “ ultimus Roman• orum,' who has lived to chant the dirge over almost every youthful brother of the lyre, may long survive as a monument of literary activity, and untiring sympathy with all that is calculated to instruct or better mankind, and a bright connecting link between the present age and the past.
Art. V.-1. Cain the Wanderer, and other Poems. 8vo. London:
1830. 2. The Revolt of the Angels, and the Fall from Paradise. An Epic Drama. By Edmund Reade, Esq., Author of Cain the Wanderer. 8vo. London: 1830.
PERHAPS there never has been a time since the prosaic days of
Whitehead and Hayley, in which so little good poetry has issued from the press, as during the last two years. That some meritorious poems have been published within this period, we do not deny—but we think that even they who look with partially indulgent eyes on the efforts of contemporary poets, will scarcely venture to affirm, that any poetical works have lately appeared which have made much impression on the public taste, or have the slightest prospect of permanent popularity. Yet, with the exception of one or two great names, we still possess all those eminent writers who have made the first twenty years of the present century as distinguished in the annals of our poetry, as the days of Elizabeth and Anne. Scott, Moore, Southey, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Campbell, Crabbe, Milman, Rogers, Bowles, and others whom the recollection of our readers can easily supply, are still living among us, and in the full enjoyment of their poetical powers. But they write no poetry; and, wbat is perhaps stranger—we do not expect it. We are content, even when fresh from the re-perusal of their former poems, to receive from their hands only prose; and prose by a poet,' instead of being an object of foolish and distrustful wonder, is now almost the one thing sought. Whence, we may ask, does this arise, at a time when the activity of the public press exceeds all that has been ever known in this or any other country-when education is more diffused—the thirst for information greaterand the means to satisfy it more abundant than perhaps at any former period of our literary history? Various causes may be assigned for this phenomenon. It may be said, that an excess of poetry, and an abundance of that which was really excellent, has produced satiety and fastidiousness. The public taste bas been cloyed with dainties—and over-excitement is succeeded by indifference. This may be true to some extent; but there are otber causes which have no reference to our recent abundance of poetical treasure. The spirit of the age is not eminently favourable to poetry. We say this not in disparagement, either of the spirit of the present age, or of poetry. Our observation is strictly compatible with praise of both. The circumstance we have noticed, arises from the greater spread of
knowledge and thirst for information, and from a more just appreciation of the powers of poetry, and that relative place and importance which it ought to occupy in literature. We now say more generally, as Horace did, Non satis est pulchra esse poe
mata, dulcia sunto.' We regard poetry not as our daily mental food, but as a sweet and costly fruit, of which, though we derive from it greater pleasure, we partake more sparingly, and less often, than of the homely prose which constitutes the staple aliment of our minds. We more judiciously assign to poetry that which is its peculiar office. We require not so much that it shall instruct, as that it shall interest and delight us.
We require that it shall appeal to our imagination and
our feelings, rather than to our judgment. It is true, it may be rendered a vehicle for conveying information, and frequently was so rendered in early times; and even so were the painted scrolls of the Mexicans, in the infancy of their civilisation, employed as a substitute for writing; but instruction is not more an essential quality in a poem than in a picture. There are many who will protest against any such limitation of the powers of poetry; and, like the currier in the homely adage, who would propose to fortify a town with leather, claim for it a capability of doing not only that which is its peculiar province, but any thing else that is good and desirable. Laws, history, and ethics, were promulgated by the aid of poetry in that infancy of literature when the judgment could scarcely be appealed to, except through the medium of the imagination; but not only is that early time long past, but also that comparatively recent period, when verse was considered good as verse-and poetry was thought little more than metre--and almost all subjects were held to be susceptible of treatment in a metrical form. Then flourished the didactic poem, which, under the fallacious promise of amusement, told only that in verse which could have been better told in prose, and which, if so told, we should never have sought for the entertainment of our more vacant hours, or for the improvement of our feelings and our tastes. Then was the public expected to admire among the foremost efforts of the contemporary Muse-The Fleece, by Dyer, and The Sugar Cane,' by Grainger, where they were taught how wool was converted into broad cloth, and made conversant with the mysteries of muscovado and molasses. We now turn with some degree of surprise as well as of mirth to the last mentioned poem. We read in the argument,'at the head of one of its books,' such promises of poetical recreation as the following :- The necessity of a strong clear fire in boiling.' - Planters should always have a spare set of vessels, because the . iron furnaces are apt to crack, and copper vessels to melt.
• Sugar, an essential salt--what retards its granulation-good muscovado described. When the sugar is of too loose a grain, and about to boil over the teache, or last copper, a little grease 6 settles it, and makes it boil closer. Of the skimmings—their ( various uses.-Of rum. Such were once considered fit subjects for poetry, and such subjects were thus treated
• But chief, thy lime the experienced boiler loves,
Or thine, more precious silvery grey, assumes.' When verses like these were written seriously, and as seriously admired, it is evident, not only that the poetical standard was low, but that verse was respected as verse, no matter how deficient in superior qualities, and that to read such productions was not so much the pleasure as the duty of all who claimed to be well educated and accomplished, and to possess a competent acquaintance with the Belles Lettres. The times are changed. Education has become less superficial, and we are in less danger of taking the ornamental for the essential--the fringe and embroidery for the clothing—the foliage on the capital for that which gives strength and stability to the edifice. It is not that we less admire the beautiful, but we are less prone to confound it with that which is useful. We observe more strictly that division of labour, which, in mental as in mechanical operations, is highly conducive to the perfection of the result. We turn to prose for information ; from poetry we require that it shall interest our feelings, and excite our imagination. To this assignment of poetry to its proper place, to this treatment of it as a literary luxury, we may, among other reasons, attribute the small share which it occupies in the reading of the present day. The more we are disposed to look to poetry for the highest and most delightful species of mental excitement, and the more exquisite the gratification to our taste which we expect from this source, the less shall we be satisfied with any, of which the inferior excellence prevents its producing a powerful impression. Towards mediocrity in poetry, the public is becoming every day less tolerant. Few poems have a chance of being much read, unless their merits are of a very high order, or there is something