Viscount George Joachim Goschen Goschen.

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Perhaps Goethe can think of one. Adieu for to-day,
dear friend. I wish you a pleasant holiday with all
my heart, and a little breathing time from your
manifold occupations.

" Ever yours,


Among the books here acknowledged by Schiller
was a copy of Kant's Practical Reason, So popular
had the study of the great philosopher and of the
most abstruse problems become, under the auspices
of Professor Reinhold, that Schiller and a circle of
friends found them a congenial topic for dinner
conversation. He wrote to KOrner —

"There is a good deal of change now in my
domestic life, and this makes me fresh for work. I
have arranged to take my midday and evening meals
in company with five good friends, mostly young
graduates, who are boarded by my landladies. In
this way I have a sociable table every day, without
being bothered with looking after it, and as they
are partly Kantians, matter for conversation never

Much of Kant, he told his friend, he had annexed
himself, and converted into his own property, but he
wished to study other systems at the same time. He
would like to read Locke, Hume, and Leibnitz. Did
KOrner know of a tolerable translation of Locke?
It would be glorious if KOmer would undertake
one himself Such a translation would be as inte-
resting as meritorious, and if he, Schiller, under-
stood English enough, he would take it in hand

And now the year 1791 — the opening of which had

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SCHILLER TO GOSCHEN, OCTOBER 24, 1791. (See p. 397.) Digitized by


rrt^t.... — J.I. ^J .^. tr^T r

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1789^1.] SCHILLER FREE. 401

seen Schiller struck down by a terrible illness, and
through the course of which he had to fight his way
back into literary activity by slow degrees yet with
ultimate success, being "fresh for work" at its close,
— brought him in its last days a happy event which
relieved him for a time from absolute dependence
pn publishers, and from the necessity for writing on
" tasks set him by others " which were so distasteful
to his wa3rward mental temperament, and so incon-
sistent with that obedience to the inspirations of the
moment on which he considered the serenity of his
existence to depend


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( 402 )


Schiller's task-work closed— Germany and the
revolution — literary projects.


The romantic story of the unexpected and unsolicited
allowance of a thousand thalers per annum, offered
to Schiller by the Duke of Augustenburg for a period
of three years, has filled an interesting page in all
the .biographies of the poet Similar in some of its
features to the incident which ended in Schiller's
transfer from Mannheim to Leipzig at the instance of
" the quartette/' the pleasant surprise was due to the
unbounded admiration felt for the author of Carlos
amongst some of the immediate friends of the generous
prince. It was a Dane, Jens Baggesen, who in the
first instance roused the feeling in Schiller's favour
among Copenhagen friends, a man of rapturous
enthusiasms, the expression of which, it must be
admitted, carried him sometimes to grotesque and
ranting excess. Thus he wrote to Erhard, in 1791, of
"our Messiases the Christs', the Kants', the Schillers',
the Reinholds'." But in Schiller's case this enthusiasm
bore substantial fruit. Baggesen evoked Schiller-
worship in Copenhagen, and converted the Duke, to
whom the poet's earlier and wilder work had not

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1792-93-1 DANISH LARGESSE. 403

appealed, by the stately sentiment and sonorous verse
of Carlos.

The extraordinary Schiller festivals held in the
Danish capital ; the rites which followed on the false
news of Schiller's death ; the gatherings prolonged for
three days, at which the whole of Schiller's writings
were read ; the letters which passed between Reinhold
and Baggesen, and by which the Duke was informed
of Schiller's illness and financial straits ; — have been
graphically told in the biographies of the poet
The story is so rich in the special characteristics of
that romantic and sentimental epoch as to tempt any
writer to linger over it. As in KOmer's case, so in
that of the Duke of Augustenburg, intense admira-
tion did not simply dissolve into phrases or quaint
festivities. The Duke and his minister. Count Schim-
melmann, sent a joint letter to the poet, which in its
tone recalls KOmer's lofty style, and in its offer
his spontaneous generosity. After expressing the
reverential admiration of two friends, bound to-
gether by cosmopolitan feelings, for the newer works
which his genius had raised to the most sublime
plane of any mortal creations, the letter conveys the
offer of a yearly gift of a thousand thalers for three
years, and continues —

"Accept this offer, noble man. May the sight of
our titles not prompt you to decline — we know at
what value to set them I We know no pride except
to be human creatures, citizens in the great republic
of which the boundaries encircle more than the life
of single generations, more than the boundaries of the
Universe. You have simply men before jrou, your
brothers who through such a use of their wealth
only pay tribute to a nobler form of pride."

Surely a notable letter to have been written by

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a prince and an aristocratic minister at the close of
the year 1791 ! While, in France, the Revolution was
assuming from month to month a blacker character,
the Teutonic world was beginning to feel the in-
fluence of some of the higher doctrines of equality and
brotherhood in the cosmopolitan circle of enlightened

Schiller received the announcement on the 13th
of December (1791). He wrote at once in rapturous
delight to KOrner. What he had yearned for so
ardently was now fulfilled For a long time, perhaps
for ever, he was free from care, and was put into
possession of that mental independence which he had
desired so long. "At last I have some leisure for
study and concentration — ^leisure to work for eternity V

KOrner wrote back in the same spirit —

"You can imagine our delight Now enjoy the
rest and leisure which is granted you 1 Throw all
publisher's stuff on one side, except so far as it gives
you pleasure. Live for yourself and the future !

Goschen heard of the great news as a rumour, and
sent congratulations. Schiller's reply struck a some-
what different chord to what he had touched in
writing to KOrner. He could not so fitly boast to his
publisher of his literary independence now partially
secured. He simply spoke of "a decided improve-
ment in my circumstances." The letter (January 11,
1792) begins with best wishes to my grandfather on
the birth of another son.

"I congratulate you with all my heart on the
Christmas gift which your Jette has presented to
you; at the same time I hope that you may live to
see many new editions of these living specunens of
publication without the older ones being sold out

"The event on which you congratulate me is no

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newsmonger's tale, although I could wish that the
newspapers had heard nothing of it It is indeed so ;
and I am indebted to the rrince of Holstein and
Count Schimmelmann for a decided improvement in
my circumstances. More by word of mouth, for I
hope to see you soon. . . ."

The Danish largesse could not have arrived at a
more opportune moment, for during the whole of
the year 1792 there were few weeks when Schiller's
health allowed him to write. Practically his new
work was limited to the Thirty Years' War He
bestowed some fine "contributions on the first numbers
of the New Thalia^ but the fourth number of the series
contained nothing from his pen.

Schiller wrestled heroically with his terrible
malady. He reported his struggle to my grandfather
in manly words (February 10) —

"I am just recovering from a severe bout of
fever. My inner man may still have to fight for
a time against his enemy before he has entirely
conquerea him or succumbed himself. I brace
myself for several more storms in the next years.
But my powers still hold their own in knightly
fashion, and I have still the best hopes. Don't fear
for our Kalender—1 hope for peace, at least until this
work is complete. Perhaps I mav see you in four
or five weeks, for I am very much inclined to meet
the coming spring in Dresden, and to fulfil my old
wish to see you in your domestic circle."

However, it was not till April that Schiller's wish
to see Goschen in his domestic circle was fulfilled.
Late in that month the poet and his wife travelled to
Dresden and took Leipzig on their way. I can
imagine my grandfather's delight at this meeting,
but I have no record of what passed. At Dresden
Schiller stayed six weeks with KOrner, and in company
with his inspiring friend revelled in metaphysical

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speculations. Never did the intercourse of two
friends move on a more exalted level. Both were
full of Kant, but Shaftesbury and Hume were also
under review, and before the summer was over the
study of Fichte was added to that of Kant

On Schiller's return to Jena, philosophy and poetry
fought an interesting battle for the mastery in his
breast. It was a drawn battle. Each retained its
sway over him, though he desired poetry to win.
He was full of impatience, he wrote, to undertake
something poetical. "My pen is itching for Wallen-
stein" — Wallenstein, the great figure which was
always with him in his labours on the Thirfy Years'
War^ a magnificent subject for a dramatic poem.
Years passed before the germ in the poet's mind
took living shape; ultimately it developed into the
splendid tragedy, the fruit of his matured genius,
which placed the author on the highest plane, and,
beyond the dramas of his stormy youth, exhibited
the loftiest qualities of poetic and dramatic art But
in the mean time he found the conflict between
poetry and metaphysics somewhat perplexing. The
constant theorizing, the self-criticism, which emanated
from his lucubrations on systems of aesthetics, had,
in his opinion, damaged him.

"For damaged me they certainly have. For
several years past I have missed the boldness, the
living fire which I possessed before I knew any rules.
I now contemplate myself creating and fashioning, 1
watch the play of inspiration, and my imagination
behaves witn less freedom, since it is aware that it is
no longer without witnesses."

Could an author more vividly express the evil
effects of an exaggerated literary self-consciousness ?

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But KOrner, delighted at Schiller's return to creative
work, comforted his friend —

"I congratulate you on your revived craving
for poetical work. He who has talent to create him-
self; commits a sin on himself if he wastes his time
worrying over subtleties. What makes you timid
now in your work is the delicacy of feeling, the
fruit of the completeness of your personal develop-
ment. Much that vour fancy offers you, and which
formerly you would have eagerly seized, you will now
reject But that doesn't frighten me. You are rich
enough to be able to select from your materials."

Meanwhile, the humdrum task-work — the Thirty
Years' W^ar— progressed, and in the early autumn
of this year Schiller was able to announce to
KOrner in a joyous burst that the long looked-for
moments of his release, the goal of his hopes, had
been reached at last. He had finished his task.

" Wish me joy ! I am just sending oif the last sheet
of manuscript. Now 1 am free, and will remain so for
ever ! No more work which another man puts upon
me, or which has any other source than inclination.
For eight or ten days I shall do absolutely nothing,
and will see whether complete mental repose, fresh
air, exercise, with a dash of society, do not improve
my health."

Thus closes the long story of the publication of
Schiller's Thirty Years' War. It appeared, as has
been seen in the course of this narrative, in three
instalments — the first occupied 450 pages and filled
the whole of the Kalender for 1791 ; for the Kalender
of the following year Schiller's sufferings in 1791
prevented him from contributing more than 84 pages ;
the third and final instalment, now exultantly con-
cluded, was about equal in length to the first, and
formed the whole of the contents of the Kalender for

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1793. A great content must have filled the pub-
lisher's soul when at last the trying suspense which
had hung over the progress of this popular work
was happily at an end !

But the future of the periodical had now to be
reviewed. It was necessary for Goschen to look
ahead, and to consider what historical work should
fill its pages in 1794, and what authors should be
invited to write it in the almost certain event that
Schiller would not be available.

The idea of the Reformation as a suitable subject
had remained in his mind, and the name of Pestalozzi,
the famous Swiss educationalist, had suggested itself
to him as a possible resource. Schiller was aghast
at the notion. After agreeing with Goschen that
he himself could not be counted on for the Kalender
for at least two years, and doubting whether it was
wise to continue the form of a Kalender^ as such
publications lost their novelty, and Goschen had
many rivals in the field, he expounded his views as
to the Reformation and Pestalozzi as follows (October
14, 1792):—

" I think it would be better (should you continue
the Kalendefs to choose a lighter and more generally
attractive subject than the Reformation, since I must
repeat that Pestalozzi is sure to come to grief over
it Such a history should be written in a perfectly
free philosophical spirit, to say nothing of the style
which woula tend to become dry in the case of this
more than of any other subject I have tried to
think of another man for it, but confess that I can
find none; but there are ten who would make as

food a job of the matter as Pestalozzi, or better,
will gladly give my name as editor and preface-
writer of the history if it will give you pleasure,
but you will understand that I can only do so if

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1792-93-] THE REFORMATION. 409

the author of the Kalender should not consider
the Reformation from an entirely different point of
view to myself, and this would 1 fear be the case
with Pestalozzi. I must confess that I should be
very sorry if this splendid opportunity of exercising
influence on the class of conceptions which the whole
German nation might form of religion, and of possibly
preparing through this one book a mighty revolu-
tion in matters of belief, were not made use of. To
write now about the Reformation, and moreover in a
periodical so generally read, I consider a great and
politically important task, and an able writer might
really here play a famous part in the world's history."

Schiller then reverts once more to his favourite
scheme of a new and great periodical It ultimately
resulted in the appearance of Die Horen^ but not, as
we shall see by-and-by, under Goschen's auspices.

" I still continue to think that you would fare best
if you carried out my old idea of publishing a large
fortnightly periodical at which thirty or forty of the
best authors in Germany would work. You would
necessarily become the first and most respected book-
seller in Germany, and even in the first few years you
could not fail to make 1000 thalers of net income by
it, which would be trebled and quadrupled by per-
manent regularity. If you are not averse to this idea,
I will send you a plan, and show you the possibility
of its execution from the point of view of the contents
and the authors."

Schiller wrote to KOmer the next day —

" Goschen has the odd idea to let Pestalozzi write
the history of the Reformation which the next Kalender
is to contain. As I haven't got to write it, this might
be all the same to me, but he would like to have m^
name on the Kalender^ and begs me to introduce his
man formally in a preface. But I am afraid that
Pestalozzi's point of view is absolutely and entirely
opposed to mine, and on this assumption, I shall not
be able to do him this service. Otherwise I would do
so not unwillingly if the work turned out well ; for

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Goschen would in any case be obliged to pay me for
this favour. However, I have advised him not only
aeainst Pestalozzi, but against the whole plan of the
Kalender, This form of periodical is now already
antiquated, too many rivals share this bit of bread
with him, and the taste of the public is changeable.
If Goschen, instead of his Kalenders, his military
periodicals, his little devotional books, and so forth,
would undertake nothing except Wieland's writings
and our Mercury of Germany^ he might in five years
be the most considered pubfisher and a rich man."

This passage is somewhat curious. The reader
will remember that Goschen was at this time selling
Goethe's works! He had bought the copyright of
Lessing's. Reinhold, Thttmmel, Bode, Archenholtz,
Alxinger, Meissner, were all creditable clients, and
the Thalia was Schiller's own child. It is true that
Goschen's list contained educational and devotional
books; true, too, that Goschen had not made much
money, but his list contained names which bear
witness to the great advance he had made in a short

The suggestion that a publisher, by the issue of
one periodical however great, and of the work of a
single author however eminent, could rise to be
" the most considered publisher and a rich man," was
not likely to commend itself either to the business-
like side of Goschen's mind, or to his ambition.

As a matter of fact, Goschen, in a sense, was pur-
suing a policy, not entirely out of keeping with
Schiller's advice. He was contracting his operations,
and making many sacrifices to be able to carry out
his vast speculation in Wieland's Collected Works,
and it is odd, in view of Schiller's words about the
veteran author in this letter, that the precedence

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which Goschen gave him over all other German
writers supplied the subject for a scoffing Xenion,
concocted at Goschen's expense by Schiller and
Goethe, a few years later.

At this very time we light on a conspicuous
instance of the publisher's caution in embarking on
fresh business. He refused an offer made to him by
Schiller himself of an essay by a man destined to
exercise a powerful influence on the political thought
of Germany, Wilhelm von Humboldt, who had been
so strongly attracted by the poet that he afterwards
migrated from Berlin to Jena in order to live near him.

Humboldt had contributed to the Deutsche Monat-
schrifl an article on " The Duty of the State to provide
Security against Foreign Foes," and another on "Moral
Improvement through State Action." He now wrote
to Schiller that Vieweg, a great Berlin publisher, had
refused a treatise by him, under the plea of having
already too much to do for the Easter Fair. He
would therefore gladly let Goschen have it if Schiller
would be so kind as to offer it to him, and if
Goschen would pay a carolin per sheet of the treatise
itself, and a louis d'or for so much as Schiller might
put into the Thalia. The latter at once executed
Humboldt's commission (November 16, 1792) —

"I am to ask you whether vou will publish a
treatise, entitled. Ideas for an Attempt to Define the
Limits of State Action. The author is W. von Hum-
boldt, rrussian Councillor of Legation. The essay
contains very fruitful political hints, and is built up
on a good philosophical basis. It is thought out and
written with freedom, but as the autnor always
remains on general ground, there is nothing to fear
at the hands of the aristocrats. Pamphlets of such

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contents and written in such a spirit, are a want of
our age, and I should think also good wares for a

Schiller then stated Humboldt's demands, adding
that the treatise would fill two small volumes.* From
a letter of Humboldt's to Schiller, it appears that
Goschen, like Vieweg, declined the offer.

It will be observed that Schiller reassured Goschen
as to the absence of risks at the hands of the
"aristocrats" in the case of Humboldt's treatise.
The correspondence between men of letters now
begins to contain frequent allusions reflecting the
influence on German aff'airs of the stupendous events
which had been convulsing France since 1789. The
references to contemporary history in the many
letters belonging to the years 1789-91, which it has
been my duty to peruse, are astonishingly few. But
in 1792 the dangers to independent thought, which
might follow from the action of Governments — terri-
fied lest an epidemic of subversive doctrines should
break out in their own dominions with all the fury
of the French example— began to be brought home
to the chosen spirits who were the guardians of the
sacred fire of free speech and of the threatened cause
of rational liberty.

Despotic authorities were alarmed quite as much
by the rushing sweep of new currents of thought,
which, set in motion by the French Revolution, might

* In another sentence of this letter Schiller asked Goschen not to
forget " Wepp ** and '* Mendelssohn." These books were ordered by
Schiller for his studies in aesthetics. He intended to write a dialogue
to be called Cal/ias^ or Concerning Beauty^ and when he asked for
" Wepp," he meant Webb's Inquiry into the Beauties of Painting
(London, 1761) ; Remarks on the BeauHes of Poetry; Observations on
the Correspondence between Poetry and Music (1769).

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carry with them the heirs of the Sturmer und Drdnger,
as by the actual mad excesses of the insurrectionary
French. And, indeed, while in some literary quarters
liberalism was shocked and became submissive, in
others the influences of the apostles of culture and
enlightenment, and therefore of social reform and
emancipation, were conveyed to the public subtly,
though potently, distilled through the channel of ap-
parently innocent writings. Schiller's aesthetics were
not simply the abstract dreams of an idealist It has
been well said that his letters on aesthetic education,
though no reference to politics was permitted, were
to what KOmer called the "secret public," quite as
much a political manifesto as a philosophy of art

In these circumstances it is not surprising that
amongst the earliest references in the letters of the
Schiller group to the new conflicts and forces which
were moving the world, we find allusions to a
tightening of the chains which, in their dread of
the nascent revolutionary spirit, the startled censors
of literature deemed necessary for the protection of
the German public

Early in 1792 KOmer wrote: "A heavy blow is
threatening our freedom of the press, but the good
cause is losing nothing by it, and the Government
only makes itself ridiculous."

And in another letter—

" There are sad prospects for the freedom of the
press in our regions. The talk is of severe regula-
tions for the censorship and the prohibition of books.
The Mercury (notwithstanding Wieland's conversion),
the Deutsche Monatschrifi, and other periodicals, are
named. The Reichstag is said to have set the Elector
in motion as the prince responsible for the districts

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of Upper Saxony. It is said, too, that the Litteratut-
Zeitung y/ould be forbidden in Prussian territory."

Then follows a passage most characteristic of
KOrner's wise philosophy —

" For my part I am convinced of the propriety of
certain limits in literary freedom, only I think that
they ought to be enacted not by legal compulsion,
but through the elevation of taste. To destroy is an
unworthjr business for exceptional powers so long
as there is anything still that remains to be created
Hence the respect for every germ of life in head and
heart which, according to my notions, belong to the
human ideal — hence a wide toleration for feelings,
opinions, institutions, which contain a germ of human

Online LibraryViscount George Joachim Goschen GoschenThe life and times of Georg Joachim Goschen, publisher and printer of ... → online text (page 31 of 35)