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our God, to our Rulers, to the Arts, or herself popular, and have, by multiplying finally for our own use, where the genius the markets and raising the demand, imof a past period does not stare out of the pelled her, on her part, to enter the many windows. various paths of industry. The peculiarities of these reflect themselves on the Artist, and even he often joins the comprehensive class of Modernists (modearbeiter) who meet and gratify the urgent cravings of the great Public for the grandose and modish by airy productions calculated for effect, or else by clever imitations; and thus afford the superficially enlightened the opportunity to imagine themselves occupying the pinnacle of the refinement and taste of the age.
Along with the eagerness for historical and antiquarian studies, a desire has also been awakened, to purify life and art from the dregs and rubbish of much naughty stu descended from the last century, and this again has had a vivifying effect on Historical research. A third auxiliary was added in the simultaneous and mighty stride of activity in trade. Industry now applied itself, as it had to Science, to the numberless branches of Art, and is at this hour endeavoring, with untiring efforts, to Art, which once, strictly limited within rescue the Spirit of History, as embodied intellectual effort, was the leader and pabuin forms whether tasteful or only emblem- lum of the guilds, and gave form and exatical, to meet the ever-increasing and pression to public sentiment in stone, metal more refined wants of the multitude, by the and wood, in lines and colors, now descends splendor, beauty, and recherché character on the one hand quite low into mere handiof its productions, that is, by their fashion- craft, and on the other, as the quintessence able modishness, and to impart an artistical of learned and aesthetical culture, ranges appearance to results obtained by an almost entirely mechanical process, through imitation and division of labor. Industry is incessantly conning and turning over the leaves of History's pattern-book; the silversmith and chaser, the brass or bronzefounder, the jeweller, the japanner, the cabinet-maker, the upholsterer, &c., are all incessantly hammering, casting, clipping, cutting, and filing, now in the antique, now in the gothic taste, rénaissance or rococo, as inspired by some invisible power. They consult their own interest best, when adding as little as possible of their own; but it is of no consequence in the eyes of the public, if in concocting some odd mixture of Grecian and old German models, they present them with some abortive monstrosity. Every day new fashions are invented, in which the luxuriousness of former ages, whether tasteful and spirited, or coarse and insipid, is imitated in the manufacture of more ingenious, more picturesque, and cheaper furniture and utensils. And these artisans take their hints and reasons for changing the mode and fashion of the hour, mostly from the same quarter with the tailor and the milliner, (Modiste.)
Through the rapid spread of exterior refinement among all classes of people, so strikingly apparent since the peace, and through the universal increase of ideal wants which seek to be gratified by cheap luxuries, Industry has received a general impulse, and has, to a considerable extent, been necessitated to call the fine arts more and more within her sphere of action. These circumstances have rendered Art
upwards to the very summits of sumptuousness. She is divided into an artistical industry of manufacture, and a learned industry of design, which again often merge into the former. Learned industry, or design, is formed, however, if we so may speak, artificially, almost entirely on historical understanding and knowledge, close study of the times in which a definite exposition of the Beautiful attained distinguished perfection. Nearly all our present Architecture and Painting is the offspring of a transposition of the Artist into past ages, and into a forced attitude of contem plation and sympathy, striving to rekindle their spirit in his own imagination, or eclectically using their forms and models to adorn the fashion of the day in her whims and vacillations. Our painters paint after all conceivable manners, our architects build in every style, and we may behold in our exhibition-galleries, and in the new streets of rapidly growing and fielddevouring cities, how every couple of years a new epidemic prevails for this or that particular form, the same as in the cut of our garments. But, when in a boasted historical painting, or in one of the newest dazzling edifices, there is nothing to remind us of any particular period or stage of the Art, the whole sinks too often into insignificance and amounts to nothing. The demon of the age, Knowledge, guides the hand of the Artist, and very bewitchingly in his way. Whatever of calculation, that is, mere intellectual precision-whatever of practice, of lugging in by the shoulders and grouping together any thing auxiliary
from natural and recorded History, is to be found and often developed to perfection in details. Never have artists gone to work with better materials, never were seen more practised burins and brushes, never was the technical science more universal. Never did stone-masons and brick-layers work smarter, or trowel and build faster, or more ornamental; for every calculation, tables and the ready-reckoner are at hand; the old-fashioned crane has given place to the most effective levers and machinery; and thus it would be an easy matter, leaving money out of the question, to complete the dome of the Cologne cathedral: the thought, the design of that wonderful structure, is there, though born such a length of time ago, and the plan of the building is not yet destroyed.
We see, then, that the present Age lacks neither genius, materials, nor industry. On the contrary, the same power, which, by its main-spring, the Press, so materially has accelerated the energies of mankind in every direction, has also pushed artificial industry to gigantic proportions, and spread it widely throughout society. Only one thing is wanting, the very thing indispensable to characteristic developments from the hidden recesses of genius: a fixed, permanent centre of feeling, from which alone genuine creative Art can emanate, and on which it can fall back to recruit its strength; there is wanting the historically traced fountain-head of all true Art; there is wanting a common religious faith and its fruits; there is wanting a sense of the poetical import of the present life. Consequently, Genius, in its helplessness, in its eagerness to enwrap the spirit of the times in the most attractive forms, has surrendered and thrown itself into the arms of the monarch of the age, Science; led by this Mecænas, it discurses all History, and vents itself, with whimsical and fretful inconsistency, in that form and the other, and in none has it found that independent selfesteem and contentment, which would serve it as the key-stone to works of identity and character. Or, if it should already partly have discovered this keystone, we are unable, in the confused exuberance and multitude of productions, to discern it. So much cried up as of vast importance, as a revelation in its kind-has so speedily been engulfed in the ever-rolling tide of novelties, and given place to new wonders, that the observer's eye becomes shy, and his judgment mistrustful.
Poetry, generally speaking, partakes of the fate of the plastic Arts. The great in
tellectual evolutions proceeding from the boundary between the present and the past century, have become the landmarks of a new epoch in polite literature in that of Germany and other countries. In this distinguished section of time, happened that equally rare conjunction of two of the most creative minds which history has known. Those comprehensive views, which then were opened in every department of human genius, were seized upon by them, each in his peculiar manner, with poetical fervor and acumen. It would appear, as if the new phases of the external and internal world received from them an instantaneous poetical impress, and by so doing, that all true poetic life and energy were forestalled, so as to allow a freer scope for the development of science. That period in our literature which so quickly ended with Schiller and Goethe, may be likened to a green-house plant bearing two glorious blossoms, one male, the other female. Both diffuse, with equally strong scent, but with very different odors, the spirit of that intellectual and moral change, through which mankind has been drawn from the surface into the very depths of creation; the spirit of speculativeness, of restless prying into the laws of human capabilities, and of nature, and of their mutual reaction. The seed dropping from this plant, was exceedingly rich, and brought forth a hundred-fold; but it carried within an organic amalgamation of the poetic element, which, in its very essence, is unchangeable in its loftiness, with that tendency to intellectual development which was roused to such extraordinary vigor; the achievements of knowledge preponderated greatly over the original and underived. In the general onward course of refinement, in the nervous and bustling activity infused into every branch of human industry, poetical aspirings also rose to an immeasurable height, and called into existence that luxuriant crop of literature, which pervades the beau-monde of the present day with exhalations, sometimes narcotic, sometimes actually offensive, but rarely with wholesome, invigorating odors.
The present tendency of letters was early and distinctly indicated by those æsthetical ideas and maxims which were broached by Goethe and Schiller, but chiefly formed aside from them, and which soon acquired authority. The great revolution spoken of in all the Sciences, in connection with its direct influence on our greatest poets, has with us very conspicuously called forth the new school of æsthetics and Poetry, which is termed the Romantic School.
Research in this new school, inspired by the fused. The easier the mechanical business
In plying the rhyming trade, this schval aimed at nothing less than a thorough pe
taken a quite different disposition with regard to life and its realities. The fictitious nihilism of the romancers has veered around into a practical endeavor to seize the present poetically. Every one knows and acknowledges, how poorly this has succeeded and does succeed; and verily, it hardly ever can succeed, so long as the historical fever rages, which is so utterly repugnant to all our public and social relations, and to the higher flights of genuine poetry.
etical sifting and spiritualizing of all exist- especially taken full possession of those ing relations and circumstances. We know excitable brains, (beweglicheköpfe,) which, how little has been effected by this, or could whether called or not, press for political in fact be effected. Their doctrines diver- power; and literature has, under the influged fundamentally from a sound and avail-ence of the latest political events and moveable aspect of the present, leading direct ments throughout the world, as by a sudinto nonentical æsthetic speculation Their den roundabout face, changed its front, and successful endeavors to exalt the arts and poetry of all antecedent time, chiefly caused the living generation to regard their own existence as spiritless and prosaic, and not well knowing themselves what to make of the world, whose elements they had brought into discredit with their own and their cotemporaries' imagination, they invented an artificial, nebulous, and fantastic kind of world of their own, in which were huddled together pell-mell the thoughts and poetical forms of all ages, and caused them to jumble and play ad libitum in legends, Young Germany's grand project of elicittales, and allegories, in Utopian dramas and ing a quiet, fresh, and blooming literature romances, which exhibited things toto cœlo out of her own real mother-soil, has prodifferent from the reality. The whole duced just as little as the labors of the Rorange of this kind of literature, where so mancers to spiritualize life in verse. A much respectable talent wasted itself, tells feeling of inability, of impotence to seize better than any thing how the spirit of this impetuous age by the lug of the hair, knowing (rather than of knowledge, prop. has soured both these schools, if we so erly so called) of research and appliance, may call them, against reality, and both characterizing our modern culture, has scampered away from it, but in opposite penetrated and pervades every thing, even directions. Under the mountain-weight of where its results can be only disastrous. foreign dominion and the subsequent quietThe intellectual process glares conspicuous- ism of restoration, Romanticism spontanely through in all these romantic poetizings, ously surrendered her poetical faith in rein defiance of all their affected profundity ality, disavowed it, and hugged Antiquity and apparent feeling. And taken as a whole, what is this kind of poetry but a rule-and-compass literary-historical exercitium, often nauseating, silly, and pedanticnow and then successful to admiration; so grand and imposing that we are dazzled by it, and easily forget that the poetry of poetry is not poetry.
to her bosom. In the present pressure of practical tendencies, it happens just as naturally, that spirited literature, which perhaps is the shortest phrase we can use, presses even beyond this pressure, frowns on the slow proceedings of real life, and industriously builds poetical castles in the distant future. In Romanticism ideas of When romanticism, or the romantic restoration played their ghostly pranks; a school arose, and during its sway, fresh, chilled and hollow existence must be scientific, and aesthetical thought was yet warmed, exalted, ennobled, by placing bethe monopoly of an intellectual aristocracy, fore it the magic mirror of chivalry, the property of comparatively few. But knight-errantry, troubadours, and minstrels, it expanded, chiefly by means of these very coupled with a pious belief in better and romantic works, more and more among the more glorious times. Modern literature, masses, which are the most wrought upon on the contrary, is carried away by reform; by polite literature. The process was hast- the religious and moral paradoxes of the ened on, in great measure, through the age, which we hear, can be reconciled, life political and social excitement consequent can be purged from so much nonsense and on the revolution of July, (1830.) Since impurity, only by an entire re-construction then, the universal custom or eagerness on an entirely new, never before existing to pry into the innermost recesses of every thing new-to search and question the authority of every thing already existing to remodel, to complete, and where resistance is offered, to demolish, has received fresh impulse. This restlessness has
plan. In this, the reasonableness and justice of hitherto existing fundamentals of society, religion, the judicial and social relation between the sexes, the code of morals and conventionals, will be critically put to the question, and undermined in poetical
which by sinking into the depths of nature and of mind, by a drawing of these two worlds within each other, by pain in the midst of pleasure, and smiles from among tears, present a striking contrast to that honest, simple-hearted kind of lyric or Idyl, which sports so harmlessly with the feelings spontaneously awakened, and with the placid features of the face of outward nature. Say we now, that Poetry, through the deep commotions of society, through the moral schisms incident to late developments even, has had presented to her graver subjects, higher as well as more profound problems, and this in one of her principal veins, the purely aesthetical, we say indeed what is the truth.
But we should, on the other hand, bear in mind what Goethe, who looked upon the prevailing taste for lyric verse, as a sign of literary dilettanteism, said, as being that "which shuns every thing contemplative, which cannot paint the object, but only the feelings which it awakens, whose pathological (diseased) productions only exhibit the bent or aversion of the author, and which thinks to exalt Wit into poetry."
praxis. If æsthetical extravagance and an affected poetry were once styled "New poetical catholicism," they appear now intrinsically the same, in the shape of a new poetical heathenism. In the drama and in epics, we, in the one case, look back, in the other, forward, on Utopian wonders. This Janus-head of our new literature, has on either side a face, from which speaks in unmistakable traits the science-loving, speculative, analyzing, and designedly again combining spirit of the age. Hence, with all their external differences, the drama, romance, and novel of both schools, the romantic and the modern spirited literature, are so intimately connected. We find in both, everywhere the same command of language, mastery over form, smart ideas, historical acumen, bold figures, witty and tasteful weaving of historical art and literature into splendid arabesque work, but what is most wanted is not there, poetry itself. And can it be otherwise? The age gives its tone to every mind per force; its atmosphere brings reflection and consciousness to the poetical workman, but in a manner, that instead of following the immediate poetical feeling inspired, And truly, this kind of superficial smatand improve upon it, his feelings are cap- tering, this dilettanteism is lord-paramount tivated by his reflections, and carried of our literature. The higher the culture along with them. And in this process the of the age, the easier its superficial attainfeelings and the materials become entan- ment; it adheres spontaneously to any one gled in inextricable confusion. Add to who lends himself to the influence of that this, that under a sense of inability to seize torrent of ideas which the press pours forth. the present with firm and mastering hand, Thus all the philosophical, historical, poliour natural desire of reforming the world, tical or æsthetical ideas of the times, flow degenerates into a mania (Drange) wrath- freely and unchecked into many thousand fully to destroy, what we are incompetent heads, and dash again from their narrow poetically to appropriate; and we have a receptacles into the immense basin of letsatisfactory clue to the characteristic pa- ters. The spirit of the age argues, reasons, thology of all our modern poetry, as well groans, and raves, in every writer, like the as to its famous frittered diffuseness, to the demon in those possessed, with this differpoignant grief of impotence, the proud re-ence, that the phantasms of the latter take monstrances against the laws and maxims the form of extraneous personalities, while of society, and then to the unsubstantiality, the former regards the common-place ideas and the confused caricaturing portrayal of epic and dramatic personages and figures. These, for the most part, are as little like real human beings, and as distorted and repulsive as are the actors of the romantics, though so often coming on the stage with mustache, imperial, kid-gloves, and Spanish cloak, just as these came on rattling in armor and steel, with hairy garments, torches, and minstrel's harps.
which he propagates as productions of his own spiritual self. Imagining, as so many rhyming and scribbling people do, that they contribute something of original and sterling value, while flippantly delivering themselves of the hastily-absorbed and crude elements, they at the same time deceive themselves just as much with regard to the form. They have passively succeeded to the heritage of a rich and fully-developed The present constitution of things, mili poetical language, and believe themselves tating against true epic and dramatic trading on their own capital, when only conception, and the character of prevailing dissipating and squandering this heritage views of philosophy and of nature, co-op- with revolting levity, yet often with much erate to give preponderance and the high-grace, on the barren soil of their writings. est praise to lyrics, and a class of lyrics, Hence that astonishing impudence, with