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Kant. He said that his reputation was much on the decline in Germany. That for his own part he was not surprised to find it so, as the works of Kant were to him utterly incomprehensible— that he had often been pestered by the Kanteans; but was rarely in the practice of arguing with them. His custom was to produce the book, open it and point to a passage, and beg they would explain it. This they ordinarily attempted to do by substituting their own ideas. I do not want, I say, an explanation of your own ideas, but of the passage which is before us. In this way I generally bring the dispute to an immediate conclusion. He spoke of Wolfe as the first Metaphysician they had in Germany. Wolfe had followers; but they could hardly be called a sect, and luckily till the appearance of Kant, about fifteen years ago, Germany had not been pestered by any sect of philosophers whatsoever; but that each man had separately pursued his inquiries uncontrolled by the dogmas of a master. Kant had appeared ambitious to be the founder of a sect; that he had succeeded but that the Germans were now coming to their senses again. That Nicolai and Engel had in different ways contributed to disenchant the nation; but above all the incomprehensibility of the philosopher and his philosophy. He seemed pleased to hear, that as yet Kant's doctrines had not met with many admirers in Englanddid not doubt but that we had too much wisdom to be duped by a writer who set at defiance the common sense and common understandings of men. We talked of tragedy. He seemed to rate highly the power of exciting tears-I said that nothing was more easy than to deluge an audience, that it was done every day by the meanest writers.

I must remind you, my friend, first that these notes are not intended as specimens of Klopstock's intellectual power, or even "colloquial prowess," to judge of which by an accidental conversation, and this with strangers, and those too foreigners, would be not only unreasonable, but calumnious. Secondly, I attribute little other interest to the remarks than what is derived from the celebrity of the person who made them. Lastly, if you ask me, whether I have read THE MESSIAH, and what I think of it? I answer-as yet the first four books only and as to my opinion(the reasons of which hereafter)-you may guess it from what I could not help muttering to myself, when the good pastor this

* [See note at the end of the letter.-S. C.]

morning told me, that Klopstock was the German Miltonvery German Milton indeed ! ! !".

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-Heaven preserve you, and
S. T. COLERIDGE.

[These disenchanters put one in mind of the ratcatchers, who are said and supposed to rid houses of rats, and yet the rats, somehow or other, continue to swarm. The Kantean rats were not aware, I believe, when Klopstock spoke thus, of the extermination that had befallen them: and even to this day those acute animals infest the old house, and steal away the daily bread of the children,-if the old notions of Space and Time, and the old proofs of religious verities by way of the understanding, and speculative reason, must be called such. Whether or no these are their true spiritual sustenance, or the necessary guard and vehicle of it, is perhaps a question.

But who were Nicolai and Engel, and what did they against the famous enchanter? The former was born in 1733, at Berlin, where he carried on his father's business of book-selling, pursued literature with marked success, and attained to old age, full of literary honors. By means of three critical journals (the Literatur-Briefe, the Bibliothek der Schönen Wissenschaftern, and the Allgemeine deutsche Bibliothek), which he conducted with the powerful co-operation of Lessing, and of his intimate friend Mendelssohn, and to which he contributed largely himself, he became very considerable in the German world of letters, and so continued for the space of twenty years. Jördens, in his Lexicon, speaks highly of the effect of Nicolai's writings in promoting freedom of thought, enlightened views in theology and philosophy, and a sound taste in fine literature—describes him as a brave battler with intolerance, hypocrisy, and confused conceptions in religion; with empty subtleties, obscurities, and terminologies, that can but issue in vain fantasies, in his controversial writings on the "so-named critical philosophy." He engaged with the Kritik der reinen Vernunft, on its appearance in 1781, in the Allgemeine deutsche Bibliothek; first explained his objections to it in the 11th vol. of his Reisebeschreibung (Description of a Journey through Germany and Switzerland in the year 1781), and afterwards, in his romance entitled, The Life and Opinions of Sempronius Gundibert, a German Philosopher, sought to set forth the childish crotchets and abuses imputable to many disciples of this philosophy in their native absurdity. The ratsbone alluded to by Klopstock, was doubtless contained in the above-named romance, which the old poet probably esteemed more than Nicolai's more serious polemics.

Gundibert has had its day, but in a fiction destined to a day of longer duration,-Goethe's Faust,-the Satirist is himself most effectively satirized. There he is, in that strange yet beautiful temple, pinned to the wall in a ridiculous attitude, to be laughed at as long as the temple itself is visited and admired. This doom came upon him, not so much for his campaign against the Kanteans, as for his Joys of Werter,-because he had dared to ridicule a book, which certainly offered no small temptations to the parodist.

Indeed he seems to have been engaged in a series of hostilities with Fichte, Lavater, Wieland, Herder, and Goethe.* In the Walpurgisnacht of the Faust he thus addresses the goblin dancers:

Ihr seyd noch immer da! Nein das ist unerhört!
Verschwindet doch! Wir haben ja aufgeklärt!

"Fly!

Vanish! Unheard of impudence! What, still there!
In this enlightened age too, when you have been
Proved not to exist ?"-Shelley's Translation.

Do we not see the doughty reviewer before us magisterially waving his hand, and commanding the apparitions to vanish?—then with despondent astonishment exclaiming :

Das Teufelspack es fragt nach keiner Regel.
Wir sind so klug und dennoch spukt's in Tegel.

"C

So wise we are! yet what fantastic fooleries still stream forth from my contemporary's brains; how are we still haunted! The speech of Faust concerning him is mis-translated by Shelley, who understood the humor of the piece, as well as the poetry, but not the particular humors of it. Nothing can be more expressive of a conceited, narrow-minded reviewer. 'Oh he! -he is absolutely everywhere,-What others dance, he must decide upon. If he can't chatter about every step, 'tis as good as not made at all. Nothing provokes him so much as when we go forward. If you'd turn round and round in a circle, as he does in his old mill, he'd approve of that perhaps ; especially if you'd consult him about it."

"A man of such spirited habitudes," says Mr. Carlyle, after affirming that Nicolai wrote against Kant's philosophy without comprehending it, and judged of poetry, as of Brunswick Mum, by its utility, "is now by the Germans called a Philister. Nicolai earned for himself the painful preeminence of being Erz Philister, Arch Philistine.” “He, an old enemy of Goethe's," says Mr. Hill, in explanation of the title in which he appears in the Walpurgisnacht, “had published an account of his phantasmal illusions, pointing them against Fichte's system of idealism, which he evidently confounded with what Coleridge would have called Subjective Idolism.”

Such was this wondrous disenchanter in the eyes of later critics than Klopstock: a man strong enough to maintain a long fight against genius, not wise enough to believe in it and befriend it. How many a controversialist seems a mighty giant to those who are prediposed to his opinions, while, in the eyes of others, he is but a blind floundering Polyphemus, who knows not how to direct his heavy blows; if not a menacing scarecrow, with a stake in his hand, which he has no power to drive home! I remember reading a thin volume in which all metaphysicians that had ever left their

* [See Mr. Hayward's excellent translation of Faust, of which I have heard a literary German say that it gave a better notion of the original than any other which he had seen.]

2 A

VOL. III.

thoughts behind them were declared utterly in the wrong-all up to, but not including, the valiant author himself. The world had lain in darkness till he appeared, like a new Phoebus, on the scene. This great man dispatched Kant's system-(never having read a syllable of any work of Kant's) -in a page and a quarter; and the exploit had its celebraters and admirers. Yet strange to say, the metaphysical world went on just as if nothing had happened!-after the sun was up, it went groping about, as if it had never been enlightened, and actually ever since has continued to talk as if Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, and other metaphysicians understood the nature of the things they wrote about rather more than the mass of mankind, instead of less! Verschwindet doch! might this author say, as Nicolai said to the spectres of the Brocken and the phantoms of literature,

Verschwindet doch! Wir haben ja aufgeklärt.

Engel opposed Kant in philosophical treatises, one of which is entitled Zwei Gerpräche den Werth der Kritik betreffend. He too occupied a considerable space in literature-his works fill twelve volumes, besides a few other pieces. "To him," says Jördens, "the criticism of taste and of art, speculative, practical, and popular philosophy, owe many of their later advances in Germany." Jördens pronounces his romance, entitled Lorenz Stark, a masterpiece in its way, and says of his plays, that they deserve a place beside the best of Lessing's. He was the author of a miscellaneous work, entitled The Philosopher of the World, and is praised by Cousin as a meritorious anthropologist. Engel was born September 11, 1741, at Parchim, of which his father was pastor, in Mecklenburg-Schwerin; died June 28, 1802. Neither Nicolai nor Engel is noticed by Cousin among the adversaries of Kant's doctrine: the intelligent adversaries,-who assailed it with skill and knowledge, rather proved its strength than discovered its weakness. Fortius acri ridiculum; but this applies only to transient triumphs, where the object of attack, though it furnishes occasion for ridicule, affords no just cause for it.-S. C.]

CHAPTER XXIII.

Quid quod præfatione præmunierim libellum, quâ conor omnem offendiculi ansam præcidere ?* Neque quicquam addubito, quin ea candidis omnibus faciat satis. Quid autem facias istis, qui vel ob ingenii pertinaciam sibi satisfieri nolint, vel stupidiores sint, quam ut satisfactionem intelligant? Nam quemadmodum Simonides dixit, Thessalos hebetiores esse, quam ut possint a se decipi, ita quosdam videas stupidiores, quam ut placari queant. Adhæc, non mirum est invenire quod calumnietur, qui nihil aliud quærit, nisi quod calumnietur. ERASMUS ad Dorpium, Theologum.

IN the rifacimento of THE FRIEND, I have inserted extracts from the CONCIONES AD POPULUM, printed, though scarcely published, in the year 1795, in the very heat and height of my antiministerial enthusiasm: these in proof that my principles of politics have sustained no change. In the present chapter, I have annexed to my Letters from Germany, with particular reference to that, which contains a disquisition on the modern drama, a critique on the Tragedy of BERTRAM, written within the last twelve months in proof, that I have been as falsely charged with any fickleness in my principles of taste.-The letter was written to a friend and the apparent abruptness with which it begins, is owing to the omission of the introductory sentences.

You remember, my dear Sir, that Mr. Whitbread, shortly before his death, proposed to the assembled subscribers of Drury Lane Theatre, that the concern should be farmed to some responsible individual under certain conditions and limitations and that his proposal was rejected, not without indignation, as subversive of the main object, for the attainment of which the enlightened and patriotic assemblage of philo-dramatists had been induced to risk their subscriptions. Now this object was avowed to be no less than the redemption of the British stage not only from horses, dogs, elephants, and the like zoological rarities, but also from the more pernicious barbarisms and Kotzebuisms in morals and taste. *Præcludere calumniam, in the original.

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