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he is not quite so wealthy, nor yet of quite so unbounded a prodigality, as might at first sight appear. His almond-trees, his phoenixes, his “flowers which are the stars of earth,” and “stars which are the flowers of heaven," recur somewhat too often. He squanders in the confidence that what he scatters abroad will presently come back again to his hands; seeing that what he has onced used, he will not there fore feel the slightest scruple in using a second time or a hundredth.
Nor does his repetition of himself confine itself to these matters merely external. His inner spiritual world, though a wide one, is not, like Shakespeare's, a universal one. It does not stretch itself in every direction, till it loses itself in the infinite. On the contrary, it has limits, and those very fixed and rigid ones, beyond which it never extends. Certain factors, love, honor, religion, never fail to produce the same results, and this with so fixed a recurrence, that one sometimes begins to be afraid lest the whole matter should sink into a mechanical contrivance; being almost tempted in moments of displeasure to liken his poetry to the shifting combinations of the kaleidoscope, which, ever as you turn it, yields only what you had seen already, however it may yield this, brought into new and surprising combinations. Thus when Goethe likens Calderon's plays to bullets or leaden soldiers cast all in the same mould, he ex
presses this particular fault, and by a comparison which at first appears to be utterly contemptuous. It must not however be so taken; for Goethe had a sincere admiration for Calderon, although always with certain restrictions, and setting himself against the extravagance of his German worshippers; of whom he complains that, instead of drinking in the spirit of Calderon, and nourishing themselves and their own art from his, they merely appropriated and reproduced his forms; or, as in another place he expresses it: “Unhappily we Germans set his tender side in relation with our weak. Of his true strength there is little apprehension among us.”+ With this agree other utterances of his, wherein 'he shows, but always with full honor to the poet, his jealousy of the Calderomania which was the fashion in his time, and of the questionable influence which it was exercising
* Riemer (Mittheilungen über Goethe, b. ii. p. 648): Unendliche Productivität des Calderon, und Leichtigkeit des Gusses, wie wenn Mann Bleisoldaten oder Kugeln giesse.” Compare a letter of Tieck's in Solger's Nachgelassene Schriften, b. i. p. 683: “Dieser Geist ist eine der sonderbarsten Erscheinungen : kaum eine Spur von der grossen Vernunft, die den Shakspeare so himmlisch und ächt human macht; nichts mehr von jener grossen Naivetät, die ich immer am Lope bewundern muss; aber dafür der durchgearbeiteste Manierist (im guten Sinn), den ich kenne.” Compare p. 696 : “Calderon ist ein vollendeter Manierist, und in seiner Manier gross und unverbesserlich.”
† Riemer (Mittheilungen über Goethe, b. i. p. 649): “Leider werden wir Deutsche eben seine zarte Seite mit unseren schwachen in Rapport setzen. Von seiner wahren Starke ist noch wenig Begriff unter ans."
on the dramatic art of his country.* Thus on one occasion he does not hesitate to express himself in such language as the following: “How much of false Shakespeare and still more Calderon have brought upon us, the way in which these two great lights in the poetic heaven have become will o' the wisps for us, it will be for the historian of literature in the future time to record.”+
But some, perhaps, who would allow to a poet the right to borrow freely from himself, and to repeat himself, would deny him the same liberty in respect of his neighbors. It must be confessed that Calderon often lays hands upon his neighbor's property; making large use of their labors who have gone before him, so large that it has been sometimes urged as a diminution of his own proper fame. But against how many poets of the foremost rank might the same charge be brought. Chaucer uses Gower as if he had been a hewer of wood and drawer of water for him. Whatever Shakespeare found ready to his hand, and promising to serve his turn, he entered upon it as his own rightful possession. It is not the amount of his predecessor's toils which a poet employs, but the proportion which this holds to that
* On this matter see Gervinus, Gesch. der National Literatur, b. v.
| Goethe, Sämmtliche Werke, Paris, 1836, b. v. p. 62. In the same place ho ascribes to the last, das bis zum Unwahren gesteigerte Talent.
which he has of his own, by which we must judge whether his position in the kingdom of art is affected thereby or not. He who knows that, if need were, he could produce as good, or better, of his own, enters fearlessly and without diminution to his own honors on the stored treasures of those who have gone before him. He has a great work to do; and all that will save him labor and time in the doing is welcome, not to his indolence, nor to any desire in him to array himself in other men's garments, and adorn himself with other men's plumes; but welcome as giving him freer scope and larger room for his own exertion. He is a plagiary, who has borrowed but once, if that one borrowing constitutes the whole of his wealth, and that which, being withdrawn from him, would leave him nothing. He is no plagiary, who has appropriated a thousand times, if these appropriations are still in entire subordination to his own native wealth. What free use was made, for example, by Milton, of all which he had ever read; but yet it would not leave him perceptibly poorer, if this all were recovered from him. In this matter of entering upon other men's labors, the liberty among poets is permitted to the rich, which is denied to the poor.
But this is not all. In truly creative periods of literature, when extensive regions are being added day by day to its empire, it is ever observable that
there are no such rigid and anxious lines of demarcation between mine and thine, as in more artificial and less genially productive epochs. It is not then as when every poet and poetaster counts that he has his own little domain of reputation to defend, his own little credit for originality to uphold. There is a large and liberal giving and taking, and this with leave or without leave, of which it is difficult at other times to form a conception. Whatever has been already done is felt to be more the common property of all, than the single possession of any one. The individual author falls out of sight in the general national mind of which he is the utterance and the voice. In that mind and from it he has found his inspiration, and whatever he has uttered belongs more to all than to one. He has thrown it into the common stock; and henceforth it is there for others to employ, for each who can justify his use, by improving upon it while he uses.
In another matter Calderon is less to be defended ; I mean in a certain excess of the intellectual faculty in the disposition and carrying out his plots. They are calculated overmuch :* there is so accurate and premeditated a balancing of part against part, so fine
* It is impossible, therefore, that Voltaire could have more entirely missed the mark than he has done, when speaking of Calderon's drama, he has said, “C'est la nature abandonnée à ellee-même.” The words are adopted in the article on Calderon in the Biographie Universelle.