« السابقةمتابعة »
In earnestness to see him: seld-shown flamens
Clärchen, unable to rouse the citizens, is led home by Brackenburg. The scene changes to Egmont's prison, where he soliloquizes on his fate ; the scene again changes, and shows us Clärchen waiting with sickly impatience for Brackenburg to come and bring her the news. He comes ; tells her Egmont is to die; she takes poison, and Brackenburg, in despair, resolves also to die. The final scene is very weak and very long. Egmont has an interview with Alva's son, whom he tries to persuade into aiding him to escape; failing in this, he goes to sleep on a' couch, and Clärchen appears in a vision as the figure of Liberty. She extends to him a laurel crown. He wakes-to find the prison filled with soldiers who lead him to execution.
There are great inequalities in this work, and some disparities of style. It was written at three different periods of his life ; and although, when once completed, a work may benefit by careful revision extending over many years, it will be sure to suffer from fragmentary composition ; the delay which favours revision is fatal to composition. A work of Art should be completed before the paint has had time to dry; otherwise the changes brought by time in the development of the artist's mind will make themselves felt in the heterogeneous structure of the work. Egmont was conceived in the period when Goethe was under the influence of Shakspeare; it was mainly executed in the period when he had taken a classical direction. It wants the stormy life of Götz and the calm beauty of Iphigenia. Schiller thought the close was too much in the opera style; and Gervinus thinks that preoccupation with the opera which Goethe at this period was led into by his friendly efforts to assist Kayser, has given the whole work an operatic turn. I confess I do not detect this ; but I see a decided deficiency in dramatic construction, which is also to be seen in all his later works; and that he really did not know what the drama properly required, to be a drama as well as a poem, we shall see clearly illustrated in a future chapter. Nevertheless, I end as I began with saying that find what fault you will with Egmont, it still remains one of those general favourites against which criticism is powerless.
GOETHE came back from Italy greatly enriched, but by no means satisfied. The very wealth he had accumulated embarrassed him, by the new problems it presented, and the new horizons it revealed :
“For all experience is an arch wherethrough
He had in Rome become aware that a whole life of study would scarcely suffice to still the craving hunger for knowledge; and he left Italy with deep regret. The return home was thus, in itself, a grief; the arrival was still more painful. You will understand this, if ever you have lived for many months away from the circle of old habits and old acquaintances, feeling in the new world a larger existence consonant with your nature and your aims; and have then returned once more to the old circle, to find it unchanged,-pursuing its old paths, moved by the old impulses, guided by the old lights, ,-so that you feel yourself a stranger. To return to a great capital, after such an absence, is to feel yourself ill at ease; but to return from Italy to Weimar! If we, on entering London, after a residence abroad, find the same interests occupying our friends which occupied them when we left, the same family gossip, the same books talked about, the same placards loud upon the walls of the unchanging streets, the world seeming to have stood still while we have lived through so much, what must Goethe have felt coming from Italy, with his soul filled with new experience and new ideas, on observing the quiet unchanged Weimar? No one seemed to understand him ; no one sympathized in his enthusiasm, or in his regrets. They found him changed. He found them moving in the same dull round, like blind horses in a mill.
First, let us note that he came back resolved to dedicate his life to Art and Science, and no more to waste efforts in the laborious duties of office. From Rome he had thus written to Karl August : “How grateful am I to you for having given me this priceless leisure. My mind having from youth upwards had this bent, I should never have been at ease until I had reached this end. My relation to Affairs sprang out of my personal relation to you; now let a new relation, after so many years, spring from the former. I can truly say, that in the solitude of these eighteen months I have found my own self again. But as what? As an Artist! What else I may be, you will be able to judge and use. You have shown throughout your life that princely knowledge of what men are, and what they are useful for; and this knowledge has gone on increasing, as your letters clearly prove to me: to that knowledge I gladly submit myself. Ask my aid in that Symphony which you mean to play, and I will at all times gladly and honestly give you my advice. Let me fulfil the whole measure of my existence at your side, then will my powers, like a new-opened and purified spring, easily be directed hither and thither. Already I see what this journey has done for me, how it has clarified and brightened my existence. As you have hitherto borne with me, so care for me in future; you do me more good than I can do myself, more than I can claim. I have seen a large and beautiful bit of the world, and the result is, that I wish only to live with you and yours. Yes, I shall become more to you than I have been before, if you let me do what I only can do, and leave the rest to others. Your sentiments for me, as expressed in your letters, are so beautiful, so honourable to me, that they make me blush,- that I can only say: Lord, here am I, do with thy servant as seemeth good unto thee.”
The wise Duke answered this appeal nobly. He released his friend from the Presidency of the Chamber, and from the direction of the War Department, but kept a distinct place for him in the Council, “whenever his other affairs allowed him attend”. The Poet remained the adviser of his Prince, but was relieved from the more onerous duties of office. The direction of the Bergbau-Commission, and of all Scientific and Artistic Institutions he retained; among them that of the Theatre.
It was generally found that he had grown colder in his manners since his Italian journey. The process of crystallization had rapidly advanced. And beside this effect of development, which would have taken place had he never left Weimar, there was the further addition of his feeling himself at a different standing-point from those around him. The less they understood him, the more he drew within himself. Those who understood him, Moritz, Meyer, the Duke, and Herder, found no cause of complaint.
The first few weeks he was of course constantly at Court. Thus the Hof - Courier - Buch tells us that the day after his arrival he dined at Court. This was the 19th June. Again on the 20th, 22nd, 25th, 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th. In July, on the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 11th, 12th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st, and so on almost uninterruptedly till September. His official release made the bond of friendship stronger. Besides, everyone was naturally anxious to hear about his travels, and he was delighted to talk of them.
But if Weimar complained of the change, to which it soon grew accustomed, there was one who had deeper cause of complaint, and whose nature was not strong enough to bear it-the Frau von Stein. Absence had cooled the ardour of his passion. In Rome, to the negative influence of absence, was added the positive influence of a new love. He had returned to Weimar, still grateful to her for the happiness she had given him, still feeling for her that affection which no