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That whoso gave the door a drag
Soon as they heard their victim's tramp,
cellar rather damp ?"
The canns, and when there came a pause,
From mere exhaustion of their jaws,
Suppose we now draw lots again,
Why, zounds !"—the farmer roar'd amain,“ The spiggot back !-come, come, you're funning, You hav’n't left the liquor running :”
I was order'd, Jack,"
It's a great pity 'ıwasn't mention'd :-
By asking such half-witted lubbers ?”. “ This lesson, neighbour,"— Tibbs replied, “That those who choose to play at bowls,
Should look to meet with rubbers !”
The Parson at fault. A country parson took a notion
Into his head, one Whitsuntide, That it was more like true devotion,
To preach extempore ;-he tried :-
His fourth discourse was not forthcoming ;-
Was fain to leave them in the lurch,
And say, that, since he came to church,
I do insist, until it's found :
MEMOIRS OF GOETHE.* Tuus book is published so as to pique curiosity and rouse expectation; and it promises, at least by its quantity, amply to gratify both. Between 1811 and 1814, the three first volumes followed one another so closely, that the Germans, who are not unacquainted with waiting a quarter of a century for a second volume, might think Goëthe a very quick workman. 'l'hese volumes bring the author's history down to the year 1773. In 1816, two other volumes, called the first and second parts of a second series, were sent into the world; but in these the author, instead of beginning where he left off, takes up his history in the middle of 1786, and describes his travels into Italy and Sicily in this and the following year. The present volume, purporting to be the fifth part of the second series, contains his adventures in 1792 and 1793.7 Two intervals, therefore, one of thirteen and the other of five years, are passed over in total silence.
It might be supposed that, during these periods, he was gathering materials, or recruiting his strength, for some future literary undertaking, were it not well known that they are among the most active portions of his life. Care has, in fact, been taken to remind the world of this, and to induce a belief that those parts of his Memoirs which are withheld contain many important political secrets. It is certain that few men have had better opportunities of acquiring information both on political and literary subjects. He has long enjoyed the confidence of the Duke of Weimar, been his representative abroad and his companion at Court. Other princes also, who have occupied the first rank, by their talents and intelligence, if not by their political power, have admitted him to intimacy. Although he has been one of the reformers of the national theatre, he has taken an active part against political reform. For nearly half a century he has stood at the head of the national literature, and has led the fashion in matters of taste. The greater part of the existing generation of authors have formed themselves on his model; they have grown up under his wing, and he has thus lived in the very centre of literary society. He is known, also, to be a most accurate observer, and to look without passion or emotion on all the scenes of the busy world, as if he existed only to describe them. He is a placid spectator of the great game of life, watching with tablets and pencil to catch and fix every fleeting shade. But his Memoirs have hitherto disappointed expectation: there are some anecdotes of distinguished persons, and much literary history in the volumes already published; but they do not convince us that Goëthe has been unreserved in his communications. Curiosity looks, therefore, to the parts which are suppressed ; and the second interval, now passed over in silence, confirms the opinion that he has important secrets to disclose, and heightens impatience for the disclosure.
We are not aware that any worse or more sordid motive has led Goëthe thus to keep alive public curiosity, than a wish not to give offence to his own patrons and friends who are yet in existence. Like the great majority of his countrymen, we believe he respects truth, and would not suppress it, though he would delicately spare the living and perhaps the great. Through the whole of his writings he has made few or no allusions to them : even in reviving, at present, the disgraceful recollections which attach to the leaders of the Prussian army in 1792-1793, he has been cautious not to do so till the persons whom they chiefly affect are in their graves. In one part of this volume, the philosopher Jacobi and his family are described somewhat at large, and he died but a short time before it must have been got ready for the press. Most of the other persons mentioned in the book, also, are no longer sensible either to praise or censure. Whether Goëthe has any thing of importance to communicate or not, we cannot decide; but it is tolerably apparent that he has no other motive for keeping back any part of his Memoirs than respect for the feelings of his contemporaries and friends.
* Aus meinem Leben, von Goethe, 1822. + A translation of all the volumes yet published in German is shortly expected to appear in this country.
Of the intervals passed over, it is said, he has already written an account, and also of the subsequent years of his life. We have read all which has yet been published of it with so much satisfaction, that we wish this may be the case. There is, certainly, not much animation or smartness, and nothing pungent, in any part of the book. On the contrary, in general, it is verbose and trifling, filled with details that may gratify the author's vanity, but can scarcely amuse any other person. But, unlike the usual run of memoirs, these contain neither scandal nor calumny; no character is painted all in shade. Goëthe writes chiefly of himself, of his thoughts and deeds ;-he dilates, with great self-satisfaction, on his own wit, wisdom, and powers,--traces his ideas from their germs till they expand into a five-act play or a bulky treatise,-points out the events or circumstances which induced him to compose his different works, and displays to our view the pangs of his own conscience gradually healing as he poured out his repentance and complaints through the channel of some fictitious character; --and he does all this with such apparent openness, that we smile much oftener at him than at either his friends or his opponents.
In truth, when the former volumes were treated exclusively with ridicule, justice was not done them. The placid easy manner in which they are written, and the good faith which appears to guide the author's
pen, have a charm for us, of a different nature certainly, but quite equal to that which is derived from the high pretensions and evident exaggerations of some other memoirs. The minuteness, also, with which Goëthe, prompted by his vanity, describes himself, and endeavours to trace the growth of his conceptions, and the workings of his mind, give a great psychological value to his work. His brief sketches of Klopstock, Lavater, Justus Möser, Zimmerman, and other celebrated persons, are better than many an elaborate biography for making us acquainted with their characters. His several accounts of the progress of German literature, and of the changes in fashions of thinking, contain many valuable hints and materials for literary history. We might quote from the present volume, as ilustrations of these statements, like descriptions of the Jacobi Family, and of the author's connexions with Mr. Plessay; but to be understood they must be given entire, and they would then be too long for our work ; yet we can recommend them to our readers, who understand the original, as, on many accounts, well worthy of perusal.
The present volume has, however, other claims on our attention. We find the author at one place bargaining with a rifleman for the loan of a blanket, at the rate of eight pence per night. At another, he forages so skilfully as to procure wine when his comrades are glad to get bread, and has almost art enough to make them believe he had made the wine by some kind of enchantment. He is so elated when he points out the truth of his own prophecies, and so agreeable in his new character of knight-errant seeking adventures, and making experiments, “even in the cannon's mouth,"--or storming a market waggon to procure tobacco " for the men of the Duke's regiment," or checking, by his eloquence and arms, the fury of the ultra mob of Mayence, and rescuing their fellow-citizens from their rage,-and we may expect so many strange scenes from the diversified situations he has filled or been familiar with, that we hope he may long be spared to complete his work.
We should like him, however, deprived of his powers of observation, while he retains his memory-reduced, as far as book-making is concerned, to a mere pantagraph, copying what is already written in his brain, but with no means of adding another word; or his Memoirs will be so long that we must wish his life to be short. The three first volumes contain 1625 closely printed pages, and describe only the first twenty-four years of his lifc. At that age he began to be celebrated, and every succeeding year seems to demand its volume. In fact, the three subsequent volumes describe two periods, making together only twenty months; and, according to this scale, we may expect the whole auto-biography will amount, at least, to seventy volumes. Another person would comprise Goethe's whole life in as many pages. But self is a delightful subject to expatiate on, and, measured by the space occupied in our libraries, Goëthe is of far more consequence than all Plutarch's heroes. It is probable, however, that Goëthe knows the taste of his countrymen, and, though terrific to another European, a German may look on this as an ordinary-sized book.
The present volume contains, principally, the journal which Goëthe kept during the memorable campaigns of 1792-1793, which he made with the army under the orders of the Duke of Brunswick. The Duke of Weimar was a general in the Prussian service, and our author accompanied him in a civil capacity. Whatever serves to throw any light on this part of history is worth noticing; and we shall, therefore, make a short extract or two, to illustrate the character and sentiments of the Germans and French. Though the sufferings they have since mutually inflicted may be a sufficient reason for mutual hatred, they now know one another too well to be exasperated, as they were then, by each having a different taste in bread. The Germans called the French dainty and proud, for despising brown rye bread ; and the French looked on the Germans as hogs for eating it. On the first meeting of the armies of these rival bread-ites,
“The French,” says Goëthe, “ stood unmoved : Kellerman had taken up a better position: our people retreated, and it appeared as if they had effected nothing. The greatest consternation, however, prevailed throughout the army. In the morning nothing less had been expected than to bayonet and devour the whole of the French ; and even I had been tempted to engage in the expedition by a boundless confidence in the Duke of Brunswick and his troops. Now, however, we were ashamed to look each other in the face ; or if we did, it was only to utter execrations. As night came on, we had formed a circle, by chance, though without having a fire, as usual, in the middle; most of us were silent, and every one was at a loss what to think or judge. At length my opinion was asked, for I had been accustomed to enliven our society with short sentences; and I replied, “From this day a new epoch in the world begins,—and you may say you were present at it. The Germans, expecting easily to over-run and plunder France, for they immediately made the inhabitants sensible they were not ‘transported,' as Goethe has it, in a sack,' were furious at their disappointment. " Every one, how. ever resigned he might be, felt most painfully the circumstance of our leader's entering into a treaty with rebels, whom our own manifesto had devoted to destruction, and whom it had described as guilty of the most abominable deeds. To them we were now obliged to surrender the fortress, in order to secure even a retreat for our own army. Some of our people were so enraged that they appeared likely to become mad.”
Arrived at Coblentz, and strolling along the banks of the Rhine, Goëthe sums up the events of the campaign, and partly accounts for them, as follows:
“ La Fayette, the chief of a party, almost adored by his countrymen, and enjoying the full confidence of his troops, resists the government which has ruled France since the imprisonment of the king, --he escapes, his army, consisting of 23,000 men, without a general or superior officer, remains disorganized and in confusion. At the same time, a powerful monarch enters France at the head of 80,000 men, and, in a short time, two fortified cities are surrendered to him. A French general (Dumourier) now appears on the scene: without having ever commanded an army, he takes up an excellent position; it is broken through, and he occupies a second;—even there he is reached, and the enemy gets between him and Paris. Bút continued rains forcing the allied army into some critical situations, it is compelled, when only six leagues from Chalons and ten from Rheims, to commence a retreat; it evacuates the conquered places, loses a third of its number, of whom, however, only two thousand fell in battle, and arrives again at the Rhine.”
Such a description is, however, more courtly than just. No allusion is made to the incapacity of the generals, or to the intrigues of the minions about the king. Goëthe does not forget to record his meeting with Mr. Rietz, and the compliments which the latter paid him. He could not be ignorant, therefore, of the influence which this talet de chambre, and several other such persons, possessed over the nephew of Frederick the Great.* In this instance Goëthe's respect for persons masters his love of truth. He blames the weather for want of success : but a general who is not prepared for rain, and who anticipates a constant succession of sunshine, is as mad as the philosopher who, from having calculated the course of the planets and the changes of the seasons, believes that they move at his command. Goëthe has preserved
“ Success from advancing farther was expected from chance rather than from wise foresight. Ferdinand of Brunswick, if uncontrolled, undoubtedly would have listened to prudence, and followed the established maxims of war. But the king was present, full of joyous hopes, and over him the volatile emigrants exercised a commanding influence." -At the time when disaster and defeat were coming on the allies from following such counsels, “ Mannstein, the favourite and confident of Frederick William, was several times in the camp of Dumourier, carrying on secret negotiations," with which the Duke of Brunswick, however, was so little acquainted, that his answer to the public overture of Dumourier was equally rude and impolitic.” Most of the king's favourites, but particularly his greatest favourite, the dark and unsocial Mannstein, were the enemies of the duke; they undermined his influence, defeated his projects, and attributed every failure to his mismanagement.”—Geschichte des Preussischen Staats. Frankfort, 1819.