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short fits, and from a much lower atmosphere, to be poetic. But of all these men, there is none that, in depth, copiousness, and intensity of humour, can be compared with Jean Paul. He alone exists in humour; lives, moves, and has his being in it. With him it is not so much united to his other qualities, of intellect, fancy, imagination, moral feeling, as these are united to it; or rather unite themselves to it, and grow under its warmth, as in their proper temperature and climate. Not as if we meant to assert that his humour is in all cases perfectly natural and pure; nay, that it is not often extravagant, untrue, or even absurd: but still, on the whole, the core and life of it are genuine, subtile, spiritual. Not without reason have his panegyrists named him Jean Paul der Einzige—“ Jean Paul the “Only:" in one sense or the other, either as praise or censure, his critics also must adopt this epithet ; for surely in the whole circle of literature, we look in vain for his parallel. Unite the sportfulness of Rabelais, and the best sensibility of Sterne, with the earnestness, and, even in slight portions, the sublimity of Milton; and let the mosaic brain of old Burton give forth the workings of this strange union, with the pen of Jeremy Bentham !
To say how, with so peculiar a natural endowment, Richter should have shaped his mind by culture, is much harder than to say that he has shaped it wrong. Of affectation we will neither altogether clear bim, nor very loudly pronounce him guilty. That his manner of writing is singular,—nay, in fact, a wild complicated Arabesque, no one can deny. But the true question is,-how nearly does this manner of writing represent bis real manner of thinking and existing ? With what degree of freedom does it allow this particular form of being to manifest itself; or what fetters and perversions does it lay on such manifestation ? For the great law of culture is : Let each become all that he was created capable of being ; expand, if possible, to his full growth; resisting all impediments, casting off all foreign, especially all noxious adhesions; and show himself at length in his own shape and stature, be these what they may. There is no uniform of excellence, either in physical or spiritual nature : all genuine things are what they ought to be. The reindeer is good and beautiful, so likewise is the elephant. In literature it is the same : “ every man,” says Lessing, “ has his “ own style, like his own nose. True, there are noses of wonderful dimensions; but no nose can justly be amputated by the public,—not even the nose of Slawkenbergius himself; so it be a real nose, and no wooden one, put on for deception's sake and mere show.
To speak in grave language, Lessing means, and we agree with him, that the outward style is to be judged of by the inward qualities of the spirit which it is employed to body forth; that without prejudice to critical propriety, well understood, the former may vary into many shapes as the latter varies; that, in short, the grand point for a writer, is not to be of this or that external make and fashion, but in every fashion, to be genuine, vigorous, alive-alive with his whole being, consciously, and for beneficent results.
Tried by this test, we imagine Richter's wild manner will be found less imperfect than many a very tame one. To the man it may not be unsuitable. In that singular form, there is a fire, a splendour, a benign energy, which persuades us into tolerance, nay into love, of much that might otherwise offend. Above all, this man, alloyed with imperfections as he may be, is consistent and coherent: he is at one with himself; he knows his aims, and pursues them in sincerity of heart, joyfully, and with undivided will. A harmonious developement of being, the first and last object of all true culture, has therefore been attained ; if not completely, at least more completely than in one of a thousand ordinary men. Nor let us forget, that, in such a nature, it was not of casy attainment; that where much was to be developed, some imperfection should be forgiven. It is true, the beaten paths of literature lead the safeliest to the goal; and the talent pleases us most; which submits to shine with new gracefulness through old forms. Nor is the noblest and most peculiar mind too noble or peculiar for working by prescribed laws: Sophocles, Shakspeare, Cervantes, and in Richter's own age, Goethe, how little did they innovate on the given forms of composition, how much in the spirit they breathed into them! All this is true; and Richter must lose of our esteem in proportion. Much, however, will remain ; and why should we quarrel with the high, because it is not the highest ? Richter's worst faults are nearly allied to his best merits ; being chiefly exuberance of good, irregular squandering of wealth, a dazzling with excess of true light. These things may be pardoned the more readily, as they are little likely to be imitated.
On the whole, Genius has privileges of its own; it selects an orbit for itself; and be this never so eccentric, if it is indeed a celestial orbit, we mere stargazers must at last compose ourselves; must cease to cavil at it, and begin to observe it, and calculate its laws. That Richter is a new Planet in the intellectual heavens, we dare not affirm; an atmospheric Meteor he is not wholly; perhaps a Comet that, though with long aberra
tions, and shrouded in & nebulous veil, has yet its place in the empyrean.
Of Richter's individual works, of his opinions, his general philosophy of life, we have no room left us to speak. Regarding his novels, we may say, that, except in some few instances, and those chiefly of the shorter class, they are not what, in strict language, we can term unities : with much callida junctura of parts, it is rare that any of them leaves on us the impression of a perfect, homogeneous, indivisible whole. A true work of art requires to be fused in the mind of its creator, and, as it were, poured forth (from his imagination, though not from his pen,) at one simultaneous gush. Richter's works do not always bear sufficient marks of having been in fusion ; yet neither are they merely rivetted together; to say the least, they have been welded. A similar remark applies to many of his characters; indeed, more or less, to all of them, except such as are entirely humorous, or have a large dash of humour. In this latter province, certainly, he is at home; a true poet, a maker: his Siebenkäs, his Schmelzle, even his Fibel and Fixlein are living figures. But in heroic personages, passionate, massive, overpowering as he is, we have scarcely ever a complete ideal : art has not attained to the concealment of itself. With his heroines again he is more successful; they are often true heroines, though perhaps with too little variety of character ; bustling, buxom mothers and housewives, with all the caprices, perversities, and warm generous helpfulness of women; or white, half-angelic creatures, meek, still, long-suffering, high-minded, of tenderest affections, and hearts crushed yet uncomplaining: Supernatural figures he has not attempted ; and wisely, for he cannot write without belief. Yet many times he exhibits an imagination of a singularity, nay, on the whole, of a truth and grandeur, unexampled elsewhere. In his dreams there is a mystic complexity, a gloom, and amid the dim, gigantic, half-ghastly shadows, gleamings of a wizard splendour, which almost recall to us the visions of Ezekiel. By readers who have studied the Dream in the New-year's Eve, we shall not be mistaken.
Richter’s Philosophy, a matter of no ordinary interest, both as it agrees with the common philosophy of Germany, and disagrees with it, must not be touched on for the present. One only observation we shall make: it is not mechanical, or sceptical ; it springs not from the forum or the laboratory, but from the depths of the human spirit; and yields as its fairest product a noble system of Morality, and the firmest conviction of Religion. In this latter point we reckon him peculiarly worthy of study. To a careless reader he might seem the wildest of infidels; for nothing can exceed the freedom with which he bandies to and fro the dogmas of religion, nay, sometimes the highest objects of Christian reverence. There are passages of this sort which will occur to every reader of Richter ; but which, not to fall into the error we already blamed in Madame de Stael, we shall refrain from quoting. More light is in the following: “ Or," inquires he, in his usual abrupt way, (Note to Schmelzle's Journey,) “ Or are all your Mosques, Episcopal Churches, Pagodas, Cha“pels of Ease, Tabernacles, and Pantheons, anything else but “the Ethnic Forecourt of the Invisible Temple and its Holy of “ Holies ?" Yet, independently of all dogmas, nay, perhaps in spite of many, Richter is in the highest sense of the word religious. A reverence, not a self-interested fear, but a noble reverence for the spirit of all goodness, forms the crown and glory of his culture. The fiery elements of his nature have been purified under holy influences, and chastened by a principle of mercy and humility into peace and well-doing. An intense and continual faith in man's immortality and native grandeur accompanies him ; from amid the vortices of life, he looks up to a heavenly loadstar; the solution of what is visible and transient, he finds in what is invisible and eternal. He has doubted, he denies, yet he believes. “ When, in your last hour,” says he, (Levana, p. 251.) “when, in your last hour, (think of this,) all fai culty in the broken spirit shall fade away and die into inanity“ imagination, thought, effort, enjoyment,—then at last will the 6 night-flower of Belief alone continue blooming, and refresh 66 with its perfumes in the last darkness.”
To reconcile these seeming contradictions, to explain the grounds, the manner, the congruity of Richter's belief, cannot be attempted here. We recommend him to the study, the tolerance, and even the praise, of all men who have inquired into this highest of questions with a right spirit; inquired with the martyr fearlessness, but also with the martyr reverence, of men that love Truth, and will not accept a lie. A frank, fearless, honest, yet truly spiritual faith is of all things the rarest in our time.
Of writings which, though with many reservations, we have praised so much, our hesitating readers may demand some specimen. To unbelievers, unhappily, we have none of a convineing sort to give. Ask us not to represent the Peruvian forests by three twigs plucked from them; or the cataracts of the Nile by a handful of its water! To those, meanwhile, who will look on twigs as mere dissevered twigs, and a handful of water as only so many drops, we present the following. It is a summer Sunday night; Jean Paul is taking leave of the Hukelum ParVOL. XLVI. NO. 91.
son and his wife; like him, we have long laughed at them or wept for them; like him also, we are sad to part from them:
“ We were all of us too deeply moved. We at last tore our“ selves asunder from repeated embraces; my friend retired with “ the soul whom he loves. I remained alone, behind him with 56 the Night.
“ And I walked without aim through woods, through valleys, “ and over brooks, and through sleeping villages, to enjoy the
great Night, like a Day. I walked, and still looked, like the
magnet, to the region of midnight, to strengthen my heart at “ the gleaming twilight, at this upstretching aurora of a mornbring beneath our feet. White night butterflies flitted, white “ blossoms fluttered, white stars fell, and the white snow-pow“ der hung silvery in the high Shadow of the Earth, which reaches “ beyond the Moon, and which is our Night. Then began the “ Eolian Harp of the Creation to tremble and to sound, blown “ on from above; and my immortal Soul was a string in this “ Harp.—The heart of a brother, everlasting Man, swelled under " the everlasting heaven, as the seas swell under the sun and “ under the moon.—The distant village clocks struck midnight, “ mingling, as it were, with the ever-pealing tone of ancient “ Eternity.-The limbs of my buried ones touched cold on my " soul, and drove away its blots, as dead hands heal eruptions 66 of the skin. I walked silently through little hamlets, and close “ by their outer church-yards, where crumbled upcast coffin“ boards were glimmering, while the once bright eyes that had “ lain in them, were mouldered into grey ashes. Cold thought ! “ clutch not like a cold spectre at my heart: I look up to the “ starry sky, and an everlasting chain stretches thither, and “over, and below; and all is Life, and Warmth, and Light, and “ all is Godlike or God. . .
“ Towards morning, I desired thy late lights, little city of my
dwelling, which I belong to on this side the grave; I returned “ to the Earth ; and in thy steeples behind the by-advanced “great midnight, it struck half past two: about this hour, in
1794, Mars went down in the west, and the Moon rose in the “ east; and my soul desired, in grief for the noble warlike blood 66 which is still streaming on the blossoms of Spring : Ah, retire,
bloody War, like red Mars; and thou, still Peace, come forth " like the mild divided Moon !"-End of Quintus Fixlein.
Such, seen through no uncoloured medium, but in dim remoteness, and sketched in hurried, transitory outline, are some features of Jean Paul Friedrich Richter and his works. Germany has long loved him; to England also he must one day be