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nexion with the lovely figure of his niece, the noble and gifted Natalie. Let us glance now at the Venner, as represented on his first appearance
• Rosa appeared! No soul in the least tender could absolutely curse the youth, or beat him to death: one rather liked him, on the contrary, in the intervals of his pranks. He had white hair on his head and on his chin: on the whole, was gentle; and, like the insects, had almost
milk instead of blood in his veins-as plants, too, which are poisonous, • have, for the most part, a white milk-like sap. He forgave every one
easily, except maidens, and in the evening, at the theatre, often shed more tears than he had forced from many a seduced victim. His heart was neither of stone nor pietra infernale ; and when he prayed for any length of time together, he became pious, and sought out the oldest doctrines, that he might adopt them.
• The thunder was for him the watchman's rattle, which woke him out of the light sleep of sin. He loved to take the poor by the hand, especially the lovely. All things considered, he may possibly find his salvation, particularly as he is not in the habit of paying his gambling debts, like the debtors of the great world, and treasures in his heart an innate commandment against the shooting and sabre-slashing of duelling.
• To be sure, he has not yet learned to keep his word, and neither, were he poorer, would he have any hesitation in stealing. Like a lapdog, he lays himself at the feet of people in power, and wags his tail; but he pulls at the dress of women, or shows his teeth to defend himself.
• Such pliant water-plants yield to every satirical blow ; and however much they may be merited, it is impossible to give them, since the effect is in proportion to the resistance: and Siebenkäs wished Meyern were ruder and rougher, for it is just such supple, whining, weak, sapless creatures, who steal away fortune, wealth, maiden-innocence, offices, and fame, and are exactly like rat's-bane or arsenic, which, to be genuine, must look quite white, glittering, and transparent.'-—Ibid., pp. 79, 80.
Richter has the advantage of Swift in another respect than the moral one just indicated. The fabric of Swift's story belongs to another world than ours—the world of Fancy's wildest and strangest shapes, where the magical creator is also the lawgiver. We enter it with exploring step, only to wonder, but the heart finds no familiar spot where it may lie down to rest. But Richter, while he sportively names his story of Siebenkäs a true and authentic biography, may almost be said to be telling the truth in jest. He is the faithful chronicler of the world we live in-of its most homely and familiar scenes-of scenes which all who love humanity, even in its lowliest abodes and meanest drapery, must recognise and enjoy. The interest he inspires is the interest of every-day life. We may have just come from the reality of the very sketch which fixes our attention in the gallery of pictures through which he leads us. The clean, neat, poorly furnished attic-room of the struggling man of letters—it is his own chamber into which we are lookingperhaps the reflex of our own, too, if not the present, yet the past, and not forgotten; the hairdresser's house, with its plebeian inmates; old Sabel's stall, with its gingerbread and fruit; the town fair, with its motley groups and host of beggars; the shooting-match, with all its excitement and glory; or if we pass to the hamlet of Elterlein, the peasant's home, the garden, the apple-trees, the village brook, the country inn or Wirthshaus, where the young open-hearted traveller, just going forth into the world, stops for refreshment. But here we will stop, too, though the sentence be unfinished, and present the scene itself:
Yet, as he had called for something, and paid also, he might enjoy in a small degree the freedom of an inn, and he began, well pleased, to walk up and down the little room. He did not feel at liberty, indeed, under the ceiling of a room, to keep on his hat, but he observed with satisfaction that others were covered," and seemed to enjoy the academic freedom and independence of a Wirth's apartment, that allowed every one to lie or to sit, to talk or to be silent. It has been mentioned that Walt walked up and down-he even went further, he wrote before all eyes many beautiful texts in his tablets, from which he promised himself when he was alone, within his own quarters, to compose many a sermon. The courage of men grows easily: it is only necessary that it should begin to sprout. The arriving guests greeted him softly, the departing loudly. Walt was able to thank them both aloud. It was so pleasant to find a cup of joy, that, unlike Saxon native wine, contained no water. He loved every dog, and wished to be loved again. For this reason, he formed a close union with the Wirth's cur, merely to have something for his heart, if it were only as narrow a band of friendship as could be formed with such a being by a small piece of sausage-skin. With warm-hearted novices the dog is always, indeed, the dog-star, through whose introduction they seek to attain to the warmth of other men's hearts—they are, so to say, the terriers and truffle-hunters of deep-buried hearts.
““ Spitz, give the paw,” cried the host of Härmlesberg. . Spitz pressed the hand of the notary as well as he knew how.
"“Give the gentleman also a pat,” cried the host, as three little arm-long, prettily-dressed girls, of the same size and physiognomy, led by the hand of a young, beautiful, but snow-white mother, entered from the sleeping-room.“ They are drillings, and are going to visit
- • their godmother,” said the host.
*Göttwalt swore in his journal that there was nothing in the world
* On the Continent, at this time, no one kept bis hat upon his head, either in a public or private apartment.
more lovely, more heart-touching, than the sight of three such pretty, delicate creatures, all of the same height, with their little caps and aprons, and little round faces, and nothing to regret, but that they were only drillings, and not fifthlings, sixthlings, or even hundredlings. He kissed them before the whole room, and blushed deeply-it was as though he had touched with his lips the tender, pale young mother. But children are always the truest Jacob's ladder to the mother's heart. Such very little girls are also an electrical preserver for youths who have not courage to stand before grown-up maidens—a beautiful conductor and non-conductor, presented unconsciously for the moment of danger, they secretly and gladly wonder how they can caress a little thing so like a young maiden.
The little girls were soon at-home with Walt. As a twin himself, he was, he thought, more nearly related to the drillings than the other guests in the room. To the great joy of the mother, he gave them some money, for which she bade them give him three kisses. But Walt held back; he would not allow them so early in life to anticipate the time when such precious things would be made the subject of barter.
He looked on, silent and pleased, while the father bartered the money from the children with apples; and one threw the bread the mother had given it timidly at the goat under the window, who snapped it in all haste, and another devoured the apples, and the third offered hers to him, till at last perfect familiarity was established among them “Ah, were I only for a little time almighty or powerful,” thought
І Walt, “I would create a world especially for myself, and suspend it under the mildest sun-a little world where I would have nothing but little lovely children; and these little things I would never suffer to grow up, but only to play eternally. If a seraph were weary of Heaven, or his golden pinions drooped, I would send him to dwell a month upon my happy infant world, and no angel, as long as he saw their innocence, could lose his own!” The children at length, holding each other by the hand, and by the mother's, departed to visit their godmother.'-Walt and Vult, vol. ii. pp. 55–58.
To pass on to a comparison with the third-named of the trio, how much more delightful is this, and such other sketches as we have above alluded to, than the whimsical phantasmagoria with which Sterne entertains us, illuminated though may be with the soft light of his singular humour! On several accounts it is of Sterne that we are most tempted to think in conjunction with Jean Paul. We are led to this by the grotesqueness and oddity of style and thought which both present--the former, however, far more than the latter and especially by the similarity of their humour. “Tristram Shandy' is unavoidably recalled to us by such passages as the distress of Siebenkäs, in consequence of the confusion into which his ideas are thrown by his wife's blunders and omissions in
snuffing the candle, (vol. i. pp. 146—150.) "What! (our readers may say,) four pages and a half about the lighting and snuffing of a candle! Why not? Let no man despise the
a little. How shall Imagination transfer her creations to the page, if the candle is not properly snuffed? The ideal-alas! how dependent it is on the ministry of the material! The free working of genius has not a little to do with the right use even of snuffers. Let us be thankful that we have gaslight to write by. But to return to Richter and Sterne. We prefer the humour of the former on many accounts.
It is far more varied, more genial, more hearty, more accommodated to the different scenes of our changeful life, more relieved by the interspersion of what is serious and earnest—in fact, more restrained in its indulgence. This, indeed, is questioned by some. Thus Schlosser says:— Sterne dared not fall into the obscurity and confusion of the German humorists, from • Hamann to Jean Paul Richter, from fear of the English public, · which will not allow itself to be deluded, like the German.' We are afraid we cannot justly appropriate this compliment, at least in the present case.
There is this vast difference between the oddities of the English and the German humorist -the German, in his wildest eccentricities, has always some meaning—there is an actual substance of worth hidden under all the convolutions, whether of flowers, or wild grass, or nettles, that he has twined round it; but the Englishman's humour is often of the kind displayed in our national love of hoaxingyou have a large parcel, with serious superscription and many wrappages, which after all contains-brickbats, or nothing. Å great part of Sterne's fun consists in these empty surprises ; indeed, what is the whole production of Tristram Shandy' but, according to its appropriate conclusion, a cock-and-bull story? This is its capital fault; it is based on nothing: except in its one or two far-scattered episodes, there is nothing serious and earnest in it; humour has run riot, and in its madcap freaks strangled oth sense and true interest. In the episodes, again, sentiment is carried to the like excess; it is undiluted, enervating, unnatural. Richter, in all his indulgence of sensibility, never relaxes the manly tension of his soul; for the effeminate luxury of unreal sorrow he has no tears to spare. Further we may remark, that his tenderness of feeling was genuine. In his writings, he depicts the sorrows and struggles of the poor, and weeps with them; in his life, he had known and shared these himself, and had entered into those of others. He speaks pleasantly of the enjoyments, rare and little, which the poor man snatches in the midst of his toils; and these enjoyments, like his own Walt, he loved to impart.
* History of the Eighteenth Century, &c., Part II ch. i. section 1.
• No one went from him unconsoled; and when he could give nothing but good counsel, he gave that. Were it only a poor mountaineer or a travelling apprentice to whom he could impart the smallest present, he would dwell the whole day with delight on the circumstance. Often he would say to himself, “Now he will draw the dollar from his pocket, and reckon which of his long-cherished wishes he can first satisfy. How often will he think of this day, and of the unexpected gift, and perhaps once more than usual upon the Giver of all good.”—Life, vol. i. p. 182. Here, indeed, the life of the poet is the best poem. This
. was a sincere man; the element of his being was love and truth; as he wrote, he acted. In point of morality, the superiority of Richter is immeasurable; and be it remembered, it is the superiority of the professed novelist over the professed churchman and sermon-writer. His whole nature was opposed to everything indelicate or licentious. Both in conduct and in writing he shrunk from such contamination.
Thus we have endeavoured to indicate some points of resemblance and contrast between our three great humorous writers and Jean Paul. In their peculiar department and faculty, he seems to us, if not superior to them in raciness, fertility, and power, yet certainly superior in artistic management. His humour can hardly ever be said either to repel or to weary the reader. We suppose, of course, that the reader is capable of relishing humour, which is more than can be assumed of all readers. There are many sensible people, who, like poor Lenette, have no perception of it, though they might not misunderstand it in the same way that she did in one particular instance. “Once, when he put on her own little head a very pretty
cap-which, in her joy, she had successively tried on the three • cap blocks, that she sometimes even gently kissed-and drew ' her to the mirror, saying, “ Put it on and look at yourself; your
own head may, perhaps, be as good as one of wood;" she * looked exceedingly pleased, and said smiling, “ Ah! you are * always trying to flatter me. Our sober friends might not take an allusion to a wooden head so well, nor be disposed to believe that the cap really fitted them. Considering that such good people are far from being scarce in Germany, the success of Richter among his own countrymen is the more remarkable. Nor is his daring in the adoption of such a style on that account the less to be admired. He was fully aware of the peril he en
* Siebenkas, vol. i., p. 52.