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the “lettered leisure,” of Goethe's home at the same period of life, and to trace the effects of this morning sunshine of a happy youth; but it would lead us too far from our present purpose.
Our allusion was intended merely as explanatory of the character of Schiller's first dramatic production, The Robbers, which saw the light under circumstances that would at all events render it a literary curiosity.
“ It was a strange blunder of nature,” says Schiller, some years after, reviewing his own productions in the Rheinische Thalia, that in my birth-place condemned me to be a poet. An inclination to poetry was an offence against the laws of the institution where I was brought up, and opposed to the plans of its founder. For eight years did my enthusiasm struggle with military discipline. But a passion for poetry is strong and ardent as first love, and the opposition intended to stifle does but make it burn the stronger. Unacquainted with the world, from which iron bars shut me out ; unacquainted with man—for the four hundred who surrounded me were but as one, faithful copies of one and the same model, and that model one utterly rejected by plastic nature, for every individual characteristic was lost in the unvarying routine-unacquainted with the fair sex, for the gates of the institution were open to them only before they became interesting, or after they had ceased to be so. Thus, ignorant of human character or destiny, my pencil must necessarily miss the middle line between angel and devil, and delineate nothing but a monster. The only apology for The Robbers must be the climate under which it was produced. Of all the innumerable accusations against its author, the only just one was that of my having presumed to paint men, two years before I had ever known one.
They would, indeed, be grievously disappointed who should seek in the literary merits of this strange piece for the cause of the wonderful sensation produced by its first appearance; but this affords sufficient proof, that in spite of its most salient faults, some tones of truth must have been elicited from the chord, that awakened so startling an echo. There was, indeed, much in the social condition of the period to warrant the distorted and monstrous features of the picture it presented." Not Charles Moor,” says one of Schiller's biographers,*.but society itself was the prodigal son of this dramatig parable. All the evident defects of this melodrama, all the incongruities of its plan—its exaggerations of character--its wild and presumptuous language, were not only pardoned, as the errors of genius manifesting itself even in Tyret
0 Schiller's Leben, von Gustav Schwab., Stuttgart : 1840.
this monstrous birth, but forgotten in the solemn tone, like the dread trumpet of the day of judgment, which 'sounded from it over the existing generation. It did not pass away till all was fulfilled-till the world was swarming with those bands of robbers from a neighbouring state, whose trade was retribution, and whose occupation, revenge. The deputy, who swore that the people ought to be brought low enough to cat hay, and his murderers, who drove him to slaughter at Paris - with a bundle of hay on his back, were they not monsters borrowed by reality from Schiller's Robbers ? "
In 1780—-in the twenty-second year of his age, Schiller was appointed surgeon to a regiment, with the monthly pay of cighteen florins (about nine shillings a week), and as yet the combustible tragedy slumbered in manuscript upon the author's shelf. As however, the first period of Schiller's emancipation from the thraldom of the Karl's Academy, was not marked by more prudence and moderation than might have been expected under the circumstances,--the state of his finances soon became embarrassing. Perhaps it was well for him that he so soon experienced a check in the dangerous career into which the example of his princely patron had contributed to draw him.
In his pecuniary distress he first began to think of negotiating with the booksellers for the publication of the Robbers; but though he entertained hopes of gaining, by favour of the muses, some advancement at the court of the omnipotent Mammon, his expectations were sufficiently moderate. :“ If the poet Staudling," he says in a letter to a friend, “received a ducat a sheet for his verses, why may not I expect as much?” The booksellers, however, not knowing well what to think of
the strange production submitted to them, declined publishing lit except at the cost of the author. Nothing daunted, Schiller "Iborrowed the necessary sum; and the first edition, printed in the most slovenly manner, on a sort of coarse blotting paper, full of typographical errors, and looking like a collection of murder stories and halfpenny ballads, soon gladdened the eyes of the author. It was decorated with a vignetto, the work of a comrade from the Karlschule, representing an angry lion rampant, with the significant motto-" In Tyrannos..!
The few first finished copies were received with pture, but as the heap gradually increased, Schiller began to experi- ence, like other parents, some anxiety as to the disposal of the offspring, whose entrance into the world he had so fondly hailed, and to consider, whether undertaking to print an luis
own cost, with an income of nine shillings a week, had been altogether prudent. Now that it lay fairly printed before him, he also became more acutely sensible, not only of its wsthetic deformities, but also of its dangerous social character. This period of anxious suspense lasted a considerable time; but at length “the meteor began to kindle on the literary horizon. Travelling belles esprits sometimes stopped their equipages before the poet's little lodging; and however flattering such an incident was felt to be, some little embarassment was sometimes occasioned to him and his friends at the condition of the 'salon de reception. Its only furniture consisted of a large table and two benches--the walls were decorated with articles of Schiller's wardrobe-trowsers, &c.
In one corner might be seen a pile of the Robbers, and in the other a heap of potatoes, mingled with empty plates, bottles, and other things, which generally passed under a silent review before the object of visit was broached.” 6. In the meantime the bookseller Schwan, at Mannheim, a man to whom the literature of his country is said to have been much indebted, had been delighted with the bold and (spirited character of this singular production, and had brought it under the notice of Baron Von Dalberg, then superintendent of the Mannheim Theatre, and president of the German Society: a man of great reputation for his services to literature and art --who was considered to have placed the theatre under his direction at the head of the dramatic sehool of Germany. At his suggestion, Schiller joyfully undertook Ito adapt his piece to the stage, for which it was not originally written, and even to effect many alterations, in opposition to his own judgment; such as its transposition into a different period from that in which it was at first placed. An abundance of most flattering encomiums rewarded his compliance, and Schiller congratulated himself on having acquired the favour of so distinguished a Mecenas as the Baron Von Dalbergult tu On the 13th of January 1782, the eventful day which may be regarded as the commencement of Schiller's career Tasiia 1 dramatic author, the corners of the streets at Mannheim rappeared decorated with large playbills, setting forth the
intended representation of “the Roðbers, a tragedy in seven nets, to commence at five precisely.". - Jolly 1 -11 Do these, as it was thought necessary to w insinuate the plan to the boxes," a long explanation was appended, containving full particulars of the characters of Karl and Franz Moor, and instructions how to distil the moral; and concluding with an exhortation to the young, to beware of the conse« quence of unbridled excesses; and to remember that the invisible hand of Providence can make use of the greatest villains as instruments of its judgments.
As the piece had been much talked of during its preparation, and its principal characters were to be supported by the first actors in Germany, the audience streamed in, not only from the town itself, but from Frankfort, Mainz, Worms, Heidelberg, and all the neighbouring country, and the sensation produced corresponded with the expectations excited.
The universities of Germany soon resounded with Robber songs, and the booksellers were overwhelmed with Robber romances. A bandit society was formed in Leipsic, by a troop of lads, who proposed to make a neighbouring forest the scene of their exploits; till at length a police regulation forbid the representation of a piece, which was regarded by the authorities as a declaration of war against social order.
In the mean time, Duke Charles of Wurtemburg, who approved of freedom and enlightenment indeed, bnt only in moderate and appointed proportions, became alarmed at this comet-like course of his young protégé; and indignant at: certain allusions to his own proceedings, which had been discovered and pointed out in the offending tragedy, he summoned the daring pupil of his academy before him-warned him of the various and sundry transgressions against good taste, to be found in his play, and commanded him in future to submit his poetical productions to his princely judgment.
A stolen visit paid by Schiller to Mannheim, to witness' the first performance of the Robbers, had remained 'undiscovered; but a further cause of offence soon appeared in the complaints made by the neighbouring canton of the Grisons, of certain libellous expressions put into the mouth of one of the associates of Charles Moor, who declares that part of Switzerland to be the “true rascal climate, where villains come to the highest state of perfection.” In vain Schiller pleaded that the opinion was expressed by the worst of the whole band of robbers, and even that there existed in Swabia a popular saying to that effect;-a peremptory order was issued that he should, once for all, give up poetry and stick to physic. This terrible injunction found him in the midst of historical studies, plans, and projects for future literary undertakings, to which he had naturally been excited by his first grand success;-although, to the credit of his selfcommand, it must be remembered, that he had still retained
sufficient sobriety of mind to devote a great part of his time to the composition of some medical treatises of high promise.
His attention was also less agreeably occupied by the debts contracted for the publication of the Robbers, as well as of a volume of poems, in which he had been associated with some young friends. The performance of the Robbers does not appear to have produced anything more substantial than that "empty praise,” that was more likely to satisfy the poet than the printer. His miserable pay as a surgeon, scarcely sufficed to cover his most necessary expenses. In this extremity he wrote to Von Dalberg, earnestly entreating him to endeavour to obtain permission to leave Stuttgart, as if for a temporary residence at Mannheim. The letter procluced only a cold and evasive answer; and the situation of the young poet became daily more painful. Exposed thus to the harassing effects of pecuniary cares, and the vexations of petty tyranny,--almost worshipped by a little circle of admirers, intoxicated by the incense of flattery breathing towards him from the most distant corners of Germany, whilst subject every moment to be reprimanded like a schoolboy, his anomalous position began visibly to affect his temper and character. ,
He determined at all hazards to escape from this thraldom; and, his resolution once taken, a favourable opportunity soon presented itself. There were to be grand doings in Stuttgart, on the oceasion of a visit from a Russian prince (afterwards the Emperor Paul), and his consort, the niece of Duke Charles, besides a crowd of illustrious personages who panied them. The whole of the court cquipages, and a magnificent stud of horses, in which the Duke especially delighted, were to be exhibited to the utmost advantage. Six thousand stags were to be driven into the forest surrounding the castle of “Solitude," and watch-fires kindled all round, to prevent their escape. They were to be urged down a precipice'into a lake, where from the windows of a summer-house they could be pleasantly and easily shot by the exalted guests.
In the midst of these important cares, things so trivial as Schiller and his writings were of course forgotten. Such an opportunity was not to be lost. A hurried visit to his mother informed her of his intention :-his father was to be kept in ignorance of it, that his honour, as an officer in the Duke's service, might not be compromised. A faitliful friend, the excellent and kind-hearted musician Streicher,
VOL. XI.-NO, XXII,