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Farther on, Goethe speaks of the perfection with which some of the German women write their own language, so as to excel in this particular some of their best authors. The same holds good in France and England; so that to understand the full force of Goethe's compliment to his country, women, one must recollect that it is no such easy matter to write a fine and clear German style, where there are twenty dialects and a hundred different styles. Prince Metternich once observed to me, “What I admire in your language is, that you have one good style in speaking and writing; and all well-bred and well-educated persons in England speak and write nearly alike. Here, in Germany, we have as many different styles as individual writers, and the difference is greater than a foreigner could easily imagine.”
Yet even this kind of individuality, in point of style, may possibly have a value and a charm, and this will be felt if ever the rules of a good style be 80 fixed by criticism or fashion, that all Germany will write uniformly.
What he says of himself and Tieck is very interesting; he speaks of him with admiration and kind feeling, but adds, “ that when the Schlegels set up Tieck as a sort of literary rival to himself, they placed him in a false position. I may say this openly,” adds this great man, with a dignified and frank simplicity. “I did not make myself; and it were much the same thing as though I should even myself with Shakspeare, who also did
not make himself-a being far, far above me, to whom I look
with reverence and wonder.” Driving home one day from Tiefurt, as the carriage turned, they faced the sun just as he was sinking in the west. Goethe ceased speaking, and remained for a few moments as if lost in thought then rousing himself, he repeated from some old poet
“ Untergehend sogar ist's immer dieselbige Sonne.” Hc then continued, with a most cheerful and animated expression--"When a man has lived seventy-five years, he must needs think sometimes upon death. This thought brings me perfect peace, for I have the fixed conviction that the spirit is immortal, and has a never-ceasing progression from eternity to eternity ; it is like the sun, which only seems to set to our earthly eyes, but which in reality never does set, and never ceases to shine." Farther on, Ekermann
expresses his regret that Goethe should have sacrificed so much time as di. rector of the theatre at Weimar, and considers that many works were thus lost to the world. To which Goethe replies—“Truly, it is possible I might have written many good things during that time; yet, when I reflect, I feel no regret. All my productions, as well as endeavors, I have been accustomed to regard as merely symbolical, (that is, as I understand it, leading to something beyond, and significant of something better, than themselves,) and in point of fact, it was with me as with a potter, to
whom it is quite indifferent whether he makes : pitchers or whether he makes platters of his clay.m.;
GOETHE'S IDEAS ON THE POSITION OF WOMEN.
March 13. IDLE to-day, and although I read a good deal, 1 translated very little, and noted less.
Yet the following passage struck me. versation turned on the German poetesses, and Rehbein, Goethe's physician, insisted that the poetical talent in women was “ ein Art von geistigem Geschlechtstrieb."
“ Hear him !” exclaimed Goethe; “hear the physician, with his intellectual impulse of sex !"" : Rehbein explained himself, by observing “ that the women who had distinguished themselves in literature, poetry especially, were almost universally women who had been disappointed in their best affections, and sought in this direction of the intellect a sort of compensation. When women are married, and have children to take care of, they do not often think of writing poetry.” *
This is not very politely or delicately expressed ; but we must not therefore shrink from it, for it in. volves some important considerations. It is most certain that among the women who have been distinguished in literature, three fourths have beer either by nature, or fate, or the law of society, placed in a painful or a false position; it is also most certain that in these days when society is be coming every day more artificial and more com plex, and marriage, as the gentlemen assure us more and more expensive, hazardous, and inexpe dient, women must find means to fill up the void of existence. Men, our natural protectors, our lawgivers, our masters, throw us upon our own re sources; the qualities which they pretend to admire in us,-the overflowing, the clinging affections of a warm heart,--the household devotion,--the submisa sive wish to please, that feels “
* This applies more to Germany than with us, and even up to the present time it has required a very powerful reaction of some kind to drive a German woman into the public path of literatura,
every vanity in fondness lost,”—the tender shrinking sensitiveness which Adam thought so charming in his Eve,--to cultivate these, to make them, by artificial means, the staple of the womanly character, is it not to cultivate a taste for sunshine and roses, in those we send to pass their lives in the arctic zone? We have gone away from nature, and we must,-if we can, substitute another nature. Art, literature, and science, remain to us. Religion, which formerly opened the doors of nunneries and convents to forlorn women, now mingling her beautiful and soothing influence with resources which the preju. dices of the world have yet left open to us, teaches as another lesson, that only in utility, such as ir
left to us, only in the assiduous employment of sach faculties as we are permitted to exercise, can we find health and peace, and compensation for the wasted or repressed impulses and energies more proper to our sex—more natural—perhaps more pleasing to God; but trusting in his mercy, and using the means he has given, we must do the best we can for ourselves and for our sisterhood. The cruel prejudices which would have shut us out from nobler consolation and occupations have ceased in great part, and will soon be remembered only as the rude, coarse barbarism of a bygone age. Let us then have no more caricatures of methodistical, card-playing, and acrimonious old maids. Let us hear no more of scandal, parrots, cats, and lapdogsor worse these never-failing subjects of derision with the vulgar and the frivo lous, but the source of a thousand compassionate and melancholy feelings in those who can reflect 1 In the name of humanity and womanhood, let us have no more of them! Coleridge, who has said and written the most beautiful, the most tender, the most reverential things of women-who under. stands better than any man, any poet, what I will call the metaphysics of love-Coleridge, as you will remember, has asserted that the perfection of a woman's character is to be characterless. man,” said he, “ would like to have an Ophelia or a Desdeinona for his wife.” No doubt; the sentiment is truly a masculine one; and what was their fate? What would now be the fate of such unren