Изображения страниц
[blocks in formation]

I PURPOSE making a brief sketch of the I land. His record of the impression made life of him whom the Germans call Jean upon him in these childish years by being Paul, the Only. To trace the career of this put into the bed of his dying grandfather to rich humorist and true prose-poet will be receive his blessing, makes a touching picfor me a refreshing task, and I trust not un- ture, and shows how closely he clung to the pleasing to the reader.

precious memories of youth. In truth his John Paul Frederick Richter, best known heart never grew old. to all the world as Jean Paul, like every body In his thirteenth year, his worthy father else, except Adam and his wife, was the child was promoted by a kind patroness to the of two parents. His mother, the being near- pastorate of Schwarzenbach, on the Saale, a est to him in race, though no kinswoman as much larger place than Joditz. Here Jean the Duke of Suffolk's case, cited in Swinburne, Paul received instruction in Latin, Greek, and made much of by Sterne, has decided, and Hebrew, and also acquired the rudiments was Sophia Rosina, daughter of John Paul of music. Here too the delights of literature Kuhn, cloth-weaver of Hof. His father was dawned upon his young mind. He records John Christian Christopher Richter, Tertius the ecstasy with which he read Robinson or subrector of the gymnasium, and organist Cruso—that charnıing chronicle where the in Wunsiedel. The business of teaching ideal and the real mingle their fragrance so had been in the family before, as the elder sweetly—as well as several other romances Richter was the son of the rector of the gym- which then came into his hands. The chapnasium in Neustadt on the Culm.

lain, Volkel, taught him, or essayed to teach Jean Paul, who tells us himself something him, geography and philosophy. But for the about the early dawn of his life, says that he first he, who afterwards invented so complete was born at the end of the Seven Years' an imaginary geography for his heroes and War, and at the beginning of spring, on the heroines to grace, had no very strong predi21st of March, in the year 1763, in Wunsie- lection. He thanks Volkel, however, for del. Early in his young life, his father was haviog taught him at least a German style called to be pastor in the little village of of reasoning which would prove the existJoditz, around which runs the Saale, spring- ence of God and his providence from his ing from the Fichtelgebirge. This he calls works and the order of history, without the his proper birthplace, which he defines to assistance of the Bible. With the question be the first and longest place of education. as to how far even cold Deism can go in the Upon which premise he observes wisely: way of truth with any certitude, were the "Let no poet suffer himself to be born or words of revelation cancelled, we have no educated in a metropolis, but if possible in a concern at present. Richter thought philoshamlet; at the highest in a village.” Here he ophy could compass so much of religious passed what he calls “a whole course of truth at least. At this time also he learnt idyllic years." With that sweetness and from Wolfmann, bis schoolmate, that beautigrace of humor which flows through all he ful handwriting for which he was in after life has written, he tells of the instructions of his famous. While these grand studies were good father, the simple lessons he learned, the going on, he fell in love a second time, iind childish turn for mechanical invention which managed this time to be somewhat bolder seized him at this period, his many youthful than at the period of his first taste of the pursuits and hobbies, such as his invention of disturbing passion; for, in playing the game a cipher, his passion for music, his dread of of " How does your neighbor please you ?" ghosts, his strong belief in the supernatural be always called little Katharine Baerin to the of all sorts, his unspoken love for a blue-eyed court, although she as invariably gave 9 peasant girl who led the cows to the mead- negative answer, and so lost him his expected ows, and for whose sake the sound of a cow- kiss. Of one kiss, indeed, he robbed her by bell ever after carried him away into dream. I lying in ambush to snatch it; and, though it

vas never repeated, it melted deep down into cut short. He discarded vests, and wore his soul, and was remembered long years after open collars à la Hamlet. It is true that these with fondness as the firsi.

singularities were forced upon him to some During these years at Schwarzenbach, bor- extent by his poverty, but they were also due rowing books from his friend Vogel, and in a great measure to affectation. Despite making voluminous extracts from them that the remonstrances of his friends, he persisted he might possess something like a library of in these absurdities for seven years. At last his own, he filled his mind with abundance he lead the good sense to yield to the demands of lore in all departments, not altogether es- of conventional decency, and consented to caping that period of skepticism so apt to attire himself like those around him. While seize upon ardent and inquiring minds in this controversy concerning costume was their first search after truth.

going on, Richter sent his friend Qerthel the At the age of sixteen he was placed by his following story in mockery of the whole father at the gymnasium of Hof. Soon after affair : this event, his father died, leaving to Jean “ There was once a fool who inhabited a Paul, who was the eldest son, the care of the city peopled with fools. Ordinarily, some mother and the burden of the debts contract- exceptions occur, but here there was none. ed at Joditz. His grand parents in Hof also The first people of the town wore engraved died about this time, leaving to Jean Paul's on their hats a fairly designed jackass. For motber, their favorite daughter, the house a long time our fool had some simple tracery and estate at Hof. But the other relations by way of ornament, but no special figure. instituted a lawsuit to break the will; and At last he got a little money, which put him for a long time trouble and uncertain pros- in the way of getting, in his turn, the emblapects embittered the life of the family. Dur- zonment of a good sturdy jackass just the ing the period of his residence at Hof, Rich- picture of life. How people's eyes will open ter became intimate with two of his fellow-when they see me! said he as he put on bis scholars; the one, John Bernard Hermann, hat in front of the glass. All day he coursed a poor youth struggling to get his education, up and down the town, called on his friends, and the other, Adam Lorenzo von Oerthel, called even on some of his enemies; but no the son of a wealthy merchant. From Hof one took any notice of him. The weakhe went to the University at Leipzig, where, brained fellow! he had forgotten that fools besides the severer studies of the lecture- take no account of any folly that is already rooms, le set himself the pleasanter task of their own. For, to make an extravagance learning English. He also read much at this admired, it must be new; even to get the distime of the more elegant and imaginative of tinction of blame, one must be original. So the French writers.

our fool went to pay his respects to another Pressed by his needy circumstances, he city. Here, the fashion was to wear a mule wrote now a satire entitled The Eulogy of for the proper cognizance. Now the city in Starpidity, which his friend Vogel praised question was situated not far from the coungreatly, but for which he could find no pub- try of Utopia, where may be found another lisher. Reading it over some time after, and city preferring in its turn a horse on the hat. displeased with its many evidences of green- The vanity described in our fool when for ness, he threw it aside, and in the course of the first time he wore his jackass can hardly the next six months composed a second satire give a notion of the triumphant vanity with called The Greenland Lawsuits, which, after which he swelled almost to bursting when having been refused by all the publishers of he came to discarding his jackass and putLeipzig, was accepted by Voss of Berlin, wlio ting a mule on the vacant place. A superb paid him for it a sum amounting to between animal! cried he. 'Tis a pity that it does not sixty-five and seventy dollars. For the sec- propagate its kind as well as the fashion does ond part of the same work he received a which ennobles it. Then once more he besomewhat larger sum. About this time he gan to hold his head high; but, by the fates, excited much ridicule and some enmity by a little accident soon happened to disenchant his whimsical persistence in wearing a cos- him again. His mother wrote to him : Come tame totally at variance with the fashion of to the holiday-doings, and above all lay aside the day. The hair was then dressed with your new-fangled fashion, and do not fail to powder and worn with a queue; he wore his / wear your handsome jackass. He replied: I

The sym

come, but instead of a jackass, I wear a son most disagreeable, in spite of the kind brave mule, which becomes me infinitely affection of Adam von Oerthel-his loss by better. He came then with his mule to his death of this second friend, conspired to birthplace. No sooner was he perceived make the next two or three years too painful than the people, surrounding him, cried out: a record to linger over now. Our young chap—does he then dare to insult At the close of this dreary experience, bethe church-folks, that he despises jackasses ? gan his intercourse with Herder. He sent Heaven send him his senses ! 'Tis a gosling! to that literary man, gifted with a genial nasaid the women—'tis no jackass. He who ture as well as with genius, two serious eswears no jackass is himself a jackass, said says, with the request that he would offer the good townsfolk all with one voice. But them for publication by Wieland in the paper look at the fellow. God forgive us, he's which he then edited. Herder was in Italy; wearing a mule! By George, he's a mule but his wife, herself an accomplished woman, himself. Our fool put on such an air of scorn opened the package, and was greatly pleased that he made the outcry still worse; and he with the essay on What Death Is. found himself in such a heat about a folly of pathy be received from Caroline Herder was which he had fools for critics, that he could a foretaste of that full meed of love and do no better than write the story of the whole praise which the women of Germany were matter to his friend Oerthel."

to accord him in the future. During the vacation in the summer of On giving up his outrè costume, and find1783, which he passed with his mother in ing his earnest essay please more than all bis Hof, his third love-passage occurred; but the satires, he made a complete change in the understanding, of whatever nature it may habits of both mind and body, began to minhave been, which existed between him and gle freely in society, and seemed to seek to this Sophia of Hof, did not last long. After acquaint himself from personal observation his return to Leipzig, the debts contracted with the springs of human conduct. He soon there pressed so heavily upon him that he became a favorite with many, owing much made a twilight escape, and went down to in particular to his skill upon the harpsichord, Hof in disguise. His prospects were dark at in playing which he used no notes, but fan. this period. His last volume of satires, en- tasied or improvised, thus carrying the hearts titled Selections from the Papers of the Devil, of all along with him in the mood that came no publisher would buy. From his staunch upon him at the time. So must David have friend Vogel, he received much help and touched the harp in the presence of Saul sympathy; and Christian Otto, who became when the evil spirit entered into him and his warm friend at this me, also aided him needed to be charmed away. materially. But, steeped as he was in poverty, About this time he took a small school at he continued cheerful, and worked on, pre- Schwarzenback, at the request of his friends, paring collection after collection of materials Volkel, Vogel, and Kloter. He made a good for the works which he had in contemplation teacher, and spent four years at the head of -collections found in after years marked his little flock, taking much pleasure and no respectively, “Quarry for Hesperus,"

,""Quar- little pains in their instruction. Every Sunry for Titan," and so on.

day he walked to Hof to pass the day with He is described at this time as of slender his mother. There was always gathered a form, thin pale face, high brow, fair hair little coterie of young women who found the curling around it, clear soft blue eyes, and greatest pleasure in his society. These young what one of his biographers styles, “a lovely, maidens, whose tastes he improved by his lip-kissing mouth.” He wore a loose green conversation, and who in return unconsciouscoat and straw hat, had a dog at his heels, ly taught him to know so much of woman's and was to be seen tramping over the bills true worth, were named Caroline, Helena, with open breast and flying hair, singing as Frederica (Otto's sister) and Amone (Otto's he went, and sure to have a book with him. wife in after time.) M. Blaze names only His address seems to have been at all times three, and gives their names as Helena, Remost fascinating.

nèe and Caroline. To Caroline he seems to The death of his friend, Hermann—his have been most attached; and it was with own disappointment in finding life at Toepen her that he oftenest corresponded. as instructor of Herr von Oerthel's younger The secret of the strong attraction by

which all women were and still are drawn hended. His picture of this vision of lovetoward Richter, lies in that beautiful aphor- liness in a letter to his friend Otto is tinged ism in his Ficlein : To the man who has with such hues as the rapture of a new and had a mother, all women are sacred for her joyous experience alone can shed upon the sake." He understood the mother principle real in life. in woman; his poet-soul had a pure and clear He declared that in Bayreuth his monients insight into the sensibilities that to grosser were roses and his hours polished brilliants. hearts are mysteries unexplored, experiences On his return from this paradise, he comof which they do not even dream. His posed his Florer, Fruit, and Thorn Pieces. sympathy gave knowledge, and his knowl. The longest of these is the history of Siebenedge engendered sympathy. He, who can kaes, the Advocate of the Poor. He was now feel that blessed instinct of the pure poetic distinguished, and from Weimar, at that faith recorded above, has a fount of tender- epoch the Athens of Germany, came tributaness in his bosom to which the milk of wo- ry offerings to his genius. His rich humor, man's nature bears a natural chemical affin- his delicate fancy, his engaging tenderness, ity. To such a one, the creative idealism of had won for him the enthusiastic commendahis own heart will reveal enough of woman's tions of such men as Wieland and Herder. inner life to give him some perception of the of this a fair correspondent, the lady Charchanging current of her joys and sorrows. lotte von Kalb, hastened to assure him. In.

It was at this time that Jean Paul wrote an vited pressingly by her, and by other pasessay which I would give much to see, for sionate admirers of his genius, to visit the knot which it seeks to unravel is certain- Weimar, at the age of thirty-three he entered ly a tough one. This is its title, or at least that charmed circle which he had so long its subject of discussion : “How far friend- looked toward with distant reverence. Wieship toward the other sex may proceed with land, who loved hu or so well that he had out love, and what is the difference between read Tristram Shandy eighty times, and that and love."

Herder, who loved Richter's manliness of With Otto as his private critic, he now spirit, welcomed him with open arms. Goethe went on in his literary career, publishing and Schiller, attached to the strict rules of next The History of the Contented Little art, and regarding him as a revolutionist in Schoolmaster, Maria Wuz, which he calls an the realm of the Muses, stood aloof. But, Idyll. After this he wrote The Incisible favored by the Duchess Amelia, almost idol. Lodge, which he calls his Pedagogical Ro- ized by the ladies of Weimar, he could dismance. It was never finished, and he him- pense with the flattery of attention from even self calls it a Born Ruin. This work he sent these great men. anonymously to the Counselor Moritz of From this magic atmosphere of unstinted Berlin, who was delighted with it, and got praise and admiration, he had the soberness for him from the printer one hundred ducats. of soul to withdraw himself after a short He immediately began composing his Iles- stay, and return to his humble home in Hof perus. The money which The Invisible in time to escape the entaglement of a liaison Lodge had procured him, he expended in with Madame von Kalb, who was unhappily making his mother comfortable and in pay- married and had conceived a violent passion ing some debts of gratitude. The Hesperus for the gifted Richter. This lady, of powerwas followed by Quintus Firlein. The for- ful organization and ardent impulses, became mer work had already made him famous. the original of Linda in his Titan. While Amongst the benefits which it secured for him engaged in writing Titan, he produced two was the warm friendship of the Jew, Emanuel minor works, Jubelsenior, the sketch of an of Bayreuth, a man of noble character, aged pastor and his wife celebrating their This friend he visited in the summer of 1794, sixtieth marriage anniversary; and the and in his princely mansion for the first time Kampaner Thal, which treats of the immorenjoyed the pleasures afforded by a life in tality of the soul. the midst of elegantand tasteful surroundings. In June, 1797, finding bis health injured by Here too, for the first time, he met a woman unremitting toil, he sought the baths of Eger of high rank and refinement, and learnt to in Saxony to recuperate his powers. Here know in its most attractive guise the sex he he met another a young, rich and lovely so dearly loved and so intuitively compre- Swiss widow, named Emilie von Berlespsh,

who speedily bewitched him. But the news of bad another love-passage; but the fair lady's his mother's death carried him back to Hof; noble relations were opposed to their union. and, for many weeks, full of sorrow, he kept Yet a general consent seems to have been himself secluded from his warmest friends. finally given ; and the time was even fixed Finally he returned to ger, drawn by the for their public betrothal, when from some memory of her who had there so greatly unascertained cause the match was broken charmed him. Strangely enough, fascinated off. Richter in writing concerning it to his by her at first as the idealist seems to have friend Otto, uses the vague phrase "moral been, she found cause to complain soon incompatibilities," as expressive of the nature enough when distance separted them of the of those difficulties which had caused the coldness of his letters. About this time he rupture between himself and this fair Caroremoved from Hof to Leipzig; and she pur- line. What is meant it is impossible to say; chased a country house at Gholis, a short dis- but he does not seem to have been altogether tance from his new place of residence. Here blameless in the matter. he visited her often, and endured a long While busy with love-making, he was prestruggle as to his duty toward one who loved paring the first volume of Titan, esteemed him devotedly, and whose love, nevertheless, by the Germans his master work, a history of he could not respond to with such deep affec-Charlotte Corday, whom he elevated to the tion as he felt would be needful to secure dignity of a Jael or a Judith, and his Claris wedded happiness. They did not marry, but Fichtiana, in which he took the field against remained warm friends. With her he, shortly Fichte's philosophy. In 1800 he removed to after their final understanding, paid a visit to Berlin. The Queen invited him to Sans Dresden, and there enjoyed the statuary Souci, and every body did him honor. Here, which adorns that capital. The sight of in the midst of his triumph, as a man of Grecian art sent him back to the wonders of genius, he met his future wife, Caroline the old world; and he read once more with Meyer, daughter of Counselor Meyer. They fresh delight the Iliad and the Odyssey and loved at once; and, after a brief disappearsome of the plays of the three great dramat ance on the part of the great idealist, who ists. Soon after this visit, his Emilie went to wished perhaps to test the strength of his England and thence to Scotland, and on her new attachment, he returned, spoke, and won return to the Continent married and retired a glad consent from all parties concerned. to her estates near Berne.

Jean Paul was in his thirty-eighth year when Richter on his return to Leipzig found that this devoutly wished-for consummation was the brother, to educate whom he had made reached. She made a soft, dove-eyed, tender it his residence, had fled from his home after and reverential wife, which was what he robbing him. He sought long for him, and had been waiting and looking for all these finding some trace of him at last, settled a years. yearly sum on him, which Otto took care to Having no means of subsistence, though convey to the lost wanderer.

welcome at the court and graced with the After this event Leipzig was a painful friendship of Tieck, Schlegel, Fichtè, and place for him to live in; and he removed to Schleierınacher, he petitioned the King for Weimar. Here he was happy and comfort- some appointment in his gist; but royal faable. On the one hand, the saddler's wife at vors are tardy, and he petitioned in vain. So whose house he lodged was the best of he married without any assured income; and housekeepers and motherly in her devotion on the 27th of May, 1801, he and his young to him; on the other, he had Herder and bride left Berlin, traveled in Dessau, visited Herder's intellectual wife to talk to. This the Herders in Weimar, and finally settled time, too, Goethe and Schiller were kinder. down in Meiningen. Here he put up and But Madame von Kalb was too kind for his consecrated his Lares, and bade a final farepeace. Having obtained from her husband well to that nomadic life which in bachelorand her own family their consent tð her di- hood he had led. The quiet nest-life, which vorce, she wished Richter to promise to bad always been his ideal of happiness, he marry her as soon as she was free. But had found at last; and with a tranquil joy Richter said very decidedly, No.

he set himself to work in this sweet retreat. In the spring he accepted an invitation to With a liome at last to charm away his restvisit the Court of Hildburghausen. Here he lessness, and a sweet wife by his side to enrich

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »