Page images
PDF
EPUB

present day, a student of the Kritik venerable city of Nuremberg, now the der Reinen Vernunft is esteemed an Pompeii, as it has been quaintly called, advanced scholar, if he has the good of the middle ages, and once the toyluck to escape the reputation of a shop of Europe. His father, Jacob dangerous innovator. The writer is, Reinhard Erhard, was a wire-drawer however, stating a mere truism, in the by trade, and an amateur of various tone in which a geologist might apo- arts and sciences by inclination. He logize for an account of the Plutonian excelled in playing on the bugle, and and Neptunian controversy. Our “ Heaven," says his son, “could have readers, who may think it strange that conferred upon him no higher grace a biography should be suppressed, than a virtuoso for his son: but it did because the speculative opinions of its not turn out so, and I had not the smallsubject are out of date, will be glad to est inclination to the pursuit. He gave know that this preliminary difficulty himself all possible trouble with me, is overcome by a consideration of the but it was soon evident that I was not enlarged and liberal views of the destined for a virtuoso." The labours Hegelians, " who look so benevolently of the good Jacob were not, however, on the steps of the general advance entirely thrown away. “I got so far which they have left behind them." as to learn to sing the gamut, and to

In the preface, Varnhagen speaks tune an instrument. This is a proof of the great burst of German liter- of what persevering toil in instruction ature about the beginning of the nine- can effect ; for I well remember that teenth century, of which the main I could not at first distinguish, whether cause was, as he justly says, “ the a note sung after my father was the philosophy which, in this point of same or different. The sensation of view, properly commences with Kant; greater or less exertion of the organs and, consequently, all that concerns of voice and raising of the larynx, by his age will long remain an object of which I finally, after my father's utterattention and interest to posterity. ance of the note, hit it, was to me Therefore the writings and influence, the measure of high and low notes ; not only of the great masters, but of and at last I felt whether I sang the those who stood second or third, who same note with him or not. . present themselves to us as a class I did not, however, require this labour highly deserving of honour, and as which it cost me to distinguish high examples of living and of authorship, from low notes, to distinguish the often belong to the first rank, will find specific kind of sound. I never, after increasing interest hereafter ; and we once hearing an instrument, confused may hope, with the works of Kant, of it, without seeing it, with another. Fichte, and their equals, to see also The sensation, therefore, by which we the writings of Mendelsohn, Garve, distinguish a higher from a lower note, Maimon, Reinhold, and especially of must be different from that by which Erhard, who was not the least among we distinguish like and unlike sounds, them, collected and published as proofs as, for instance, of trumpets and flutes, of the most varied, honest, philosophi. and must depend upon different parts cal labours ; nay, much of this kind of our organ of hearing." might be received and guarded even W e have quoted this passage as a with greater care, by those who are characteristic and amusing specimen further removed than it was by con. of Erhard's speculative nature, and of temporaries, or than will now be prac- the unhesitating seriousness with which ticable for those who are still near to he narrates and discusses the minutest them." Whether the hope expressed facts relating to himself. Yet it is in this somewhat long-winded sentence not selfishness or vanity, which he has been, or is likely to be fulfilled, feels, but genuine scientific interest, we know not; though we have un- Cosmopolitan, as the botanist or the bounded faith in the fecundity of Ger. geologist may be, he is not ashamed man publishers. We had rather read to concentrate his attention on the the biographies of Erhard and the Flora or the stratification of his counrest, than their works, especially try, or province, or county; and to when written, as in the present in. Erhard, his own idiosyncrasy, the ele. stance, by themselves.

ments of his empirical Ich, form the · Johann Benjamin Erhard was born province which he is peculiarly called on the 8th of February, 1766, in the upon to examine, and to communicate his discoveries to the world, which he that in my third year I often slept doubts not, will be as ready to learn, with her, to see the ghost ; but it as he is to teach « How the founda- never showed itself when I was there, tions of his mind were laid." We can and I consequently believed that I discover few traces of self-applause, had gained the victory over her be. and none of self-depreciation; there lief.' We hope parents will henceis no comparison with others, no fear forth teach theirtwo-year-old offspring, of censure. We own that his person. who now waste their time in play. ality appears to have been his hobby, ing and prattling, and are a prey to but only as philosophers will have a the most uncritical credulity, to test predilection for some special applica. the statements of their grandmammas tion of their principles. His zealous about “ Jack and the Bean-Stalk," or and yet passionless self-contemplation, “ Little Red Riding. Hood," by expereminds us of a medical student of rience, and to gain victories over their whom we have heard, who, having a belief. Not that the victory in this leg amputated, dissected it himself, case was decided, for the dexterous and gave his friends a lecture on it, in old lady, by dint of long practice, was which he barely hinted at the muscu- enabled to trip up the vigorous young lar swell of the calf, and the delicate controversialist, and asserted that he fineness of the ancle.

had with him an invisible good spirit, We are not aware of any autobio- which the ghost was afraid of. “ Thus," grapher, except Mr Tristram Shandy, he soberly reflects, “I learned early," who begins his adventures earlier; (i.e. in his third year, which, for so aband there is this remarkable difference stract a proposition may be called debetween them, that Tristram was, as cidedly early)," that it is absurd to try infants usually are, a passive subject to contend by experience against asser. under the various mistakes of Dr tions, which would destroy the condi. Slop, the curate, and Susanna ; and tions of possible experience; for they but little affected in mind by the mis may always be defended by an assumpfortunes which befell his name and his tion as absurd as the assertion itself. person; while Johann, whose mind .... I never again tried the expewas everything to him, was deliber. riment of wishing to see any thing, ately forming and instructing it. He which, if I saw it, could only denote says, that his recollections in some the loss of the use of my understand. things run back into his first year, ing.” We really think his underand in his second are in many things standing was perfectly safe, when in only uncertain, because, up to his its long petticoats, as it were, it had fourth year, he was liable to confuse so fully ascertained the conditions of dreams with waking perceptions. He possible experience. sometimes had disputes with his pa. But pride will have a fall. When rents, whether circumstances bad he had attained the maturity of three taken place, of which he was thus per years, even the cautious Johann fell suaded. The tendency clung by him into an error, which, at the distance in later years, and occasioned him of forty years, he remembers with the great discomfort. He infers, from the deepest remorse. What was it? Did vividness of these impressions, that, in he steal lumps of sugar, or scream to the case of a diseased condition of the frighten his nurse, or try to drink out sensorium, which weakens the men of the spout of the kettle? As it must mory, a dream may sometimes be the be told, we will give our readers his cause of insanity.

own candid confession, hoping that Our young philosopher was taught their own consciences are free from by his father to despise the fear of similar burdens. “When I was full ghosts, though he at first appears to three years old, I was sent to a comhave believed in their existence-for mon school. Here I believed the his maternal grandmother was remark common dogmas" (of Christianityable for seeing them; and, which was credulous infant !) “ as easily as I dis. more remarkable, was so free from believed the ghosts; for my father had fear of them, that she recounted their not declared himself against them. visits to her as coolly and indifferent. With humiliation, I yet remember that ly, as a call from a neighbour. “I I found nothing revolting in the prowas so curious," says Erhard, “ to position, that a man who doubted the test her statements by experience, creed of St Athanasius" (which, no doubt, at the common schools of Nu. memory, learned no Latin, but he had remberg, was used as preliminary to learned arithmetic, in the mean time, the spelling-book), “ was dealt with at the German school; whereupon he as if he had committed the greatest thus reflects :crimes.”

« As far as my memory goes back, We are happy to find that the good I cannot remember to have learned to wire-drawer may be acquitted of the count;-I seem always to have been charge of instilling intolerance into able to do it. I am equally ignorant his son's mind, of malice prepense. of the time at which I exchanged the On the contrary, “he tried, being speaking of myself in the third perthen by no means a sceptic, to teach son, which is so natural to children, for me tolerance, by disputing with me the I. Probably counting in a child against the dogmas, in the assumed succeeds the I; for, till it not merely character of a heretic" (probably of feels itself as unity, but also thinks of a Homoiousian, as Johann could hardly itself as such, in opposition to all others, be yet qualified to test his semi-Arian it has no fixed type (schema) of the statements by experience), " or of a one. It sees single things, but does freethinker, and I shed many tears” not arrange them according to the ab(surely this was unworthy of a phic stract notion of singleness." losopher) “ when I could not find ar. After two years, Erhard left the guments to confute him. The origin of Latin school, in consequence of a remy easy conviction” (which is really proof from a preacher whose sermon surprising in the victorious opponent he had not attended to; and, in his of grandmamma) “lay in my feeling self education from this time forward, for veracity; I could not believe that we cannot but admire the free and millions of men could believe an ab. generous spirit of the boy, who sought surdity, and look upon the exposure knowledge for the sake of knowledge. of it as a crime." This comes of diffi- The absence of intercourse, in Gerdence and self-distrust. What was man society, between the middle clasthe value of the opinion of a few mil. ses and the aristocracy, removes a lions of men, compared with that of great danger which besets self-taught Johann Benjamin Erhard, aged three genius in England, in the tendency of years? You ought to have tested their eminence to break the bonds which statements by experience, Johann. connect a man with the companions of

His excellent memory brought his youth, without raising him to a him, in this Athanasian school, little perfect level with the class into which distinction, for he only “strove to he is removed. The son of the Nulearn the meaning of things, without remberg craftsman looked to no wider troubling himself about the words.” public than his townsmen for symIn his ninth year, he entered the se- pathy, and sought no reward for study cond class of the “ Latin scholars," as but knowledge. We are haunted with the public school of Nuremberg was a ghost, whose name is Cui Bono. called. The first class was preparatory Fearing and dreading the name of to the University; and, as far as Er- utilitarianism, we worship it in its hard knows, “the mode of reckoning meanest forms, and set up wealth and is the same at all Protestant schools, power in the place of wisdom, or, while, at the Catholic school, the first which is worse, as the ends which class is the lowest.” Here was food justify the search of wisdom as a for speculation- Why do they so? means. Fools and blind! for which is “ Was it done by the Protestants as a greater, the gold on the temple, or mark of distinction from the Catholics, the temple which sanctifies the gold? as the first Christians made the first The vis inertiæ of our universities still day of the week their Sabbath ?" We opposes a partial resistance to the uti. had indeed thought that the first day litarian tendencies of education ; but of the week was so far from being a even they are tormented into arguing Sabbath, that it originally co-existed on the tendency of their studies to prowith the Jewish Sabbath ; but we are mote success in life. “ Look at the so little given to speculation, that we bench," they say, “crowded with fear we might never have been puzzled wranglers." “ Listen to the firstclass by the titles of the classes in the Nu- man speaking in Parliament." “ Who remberg school. In the Latin school, shall argue, if logic be forgotten?" Erhard, notwithstanding his excellent Who shall quote, when Virgil is un. read?” So the public turns sulkily understand me; why you not walk away for want of an answer, and off, when I you tell ?" Alma Mater goes on in her course of “Maxima debetur pueris reverentia ;". training, sub rosā, the would be judges but the debt is paid by few. and statesmen into men. How differ

In bis fourteenth year, his studies ent is the feeling of the lonely and

were interrupted by some alarming uninstructed German lad!

fits of epilepsy, succeeded by a ha“ This feeling for freedom," he

rassing tendency to see figures when says, after speaking of his sympathy

alone, which troubled him the more, with the revolt of America, “ was a

from his full conviction of their unnecessary result of my education.

reality. The propensity was evi. With all the inclination for the arts

dently inherited from his grandmoand sciences which my father had im- ther. who, like him, was free from planted in me, he never raised in my

superstitious fear; but the good womind the notion of supporting myself

man never troubled herself about obby any other means than his profes.

jective causality, with which Erhard sion. All that I learned, I learned be.

considers his visions incompatible ; cause it gave me pleasure, or to please $

10. please forgetting that a morbid condition of my father ; for I loved my father so the retina or sensorium must produce dearly, that I liked no one better as

morbid results, which would be objeca playfellow..... This education, tively cognizable to a perfect physio. which caused me to gain art and logist. The « pain which, in such science for its own sake, roused in me

cases, arises from the difficulty of so strong a feeling for freedom from

forming a judgment objectively valid, outward compulsion, that, in the choice

which has for us at the same time subof my employments, I always followed

djective evidence,” proceeds from a either inclination or duty, and disre.

misconception of the judgment which garded all other views, especially those

ought to be formed. The phantomof outward advantage."

seer has subjective evidence that he From eleven to thirteen, Erhard

' sees phantoms; but not that they are worked at his father's trade, and ac.

cognizable to others, or independent quiring some knowledge of engraving, of his own bodily organization. was able to procure with his gains a

From his twelfth to his sixteenth few books; among which, he enu. year was, in Nuremberg, the sentimenmerates Wolf's Elements, Krüjer's

tal, or, as he calls it, the Siegwart. Theory of Nature, and, at a later pe- Wertherisch period, and he had the riod, Woif's Elementa Matheseos. He

good fortune to see one of his acquainentertained a laudable contempt for

tances commit suicide, and to learn books written to suit the capacity of

from another, named Doerburem, to children, such as Natural History for fall in love. The same kind friend Children, by Raff'; and in this feeling instilled into him a smattering of we fully agree with him, and would

Greek, and expounded to him the extend the same condemnation to all New Testament, “ according to the condescending compositions, and es bold mode of interpretation which pecially to sermons for the poor. Let was then fashionable :"_that, we a man speak to his hearers on topics

presume, of the Wolfenbuttel fragthey can understand and care for, to

care. Tor, to ments, or of Eickhorn. His precocious children about giants and fairies, to

genius, as might have been expected, peasants about their fields and their

outran his teacher, and he saw the homes; but let him not leave his po.

leave his po imitations of Homer!! which show sition as a teacher, by the awkward the mythical character of the sacred affectation of equality with his learners. "history. The gravity and earnestness They can dispense with intelligibility, with which he narrates the crotchets but not with earnestness; with the and follies of his boyhood, have a show of parity of knowledge, rather whimsical and amusing effect. It is than with the recognition of common

strange that a thinking man should humanity. Children understand each

value the convictions which he formed other, and they understand men in ignorance, even if on knowledge he and women ; but the mongrel charac.

abides by the results. But in Erhard, ter of affected puerility is as puzzling the boy was not the father of the man, to them, as an address which we once but the man himself; and that man, heard a surly porter make to a perse. though by fortune a critical philosovering foreign vagrant--" You not pher, was by nature and destiny a believer and a dogmatist. He believed, and though, after some years, I was indeed, in the categories and not in the forced to admit my error, nothing prophecies, because he was a speculator would induce me to banish from my rather than a man, and the first sys. recollection these years of happy tem that satisfied the conscious wants dreams. Every bright moonlight of his intellect relieved it from craving night carries me back still to that for ever after. In some things, he sweet delusion. Oh, no! it was not appeared to be involved in the interests delusion-it was reality then; this firm of common humanity. “ Schiller trust in the harmony of our souls, this used to relate," says Varnhagen, abstraction from every thing corporeal “ that when Erhard had inherited a in our union, this completeness in our small house at Nuremberg, he was in being. I felt myself at thy side, free a great hurry to go into the kitchen, from all influence of the world upon and light a fire on the hearth, to ex- me, and infinitely strong to act upon press by this proceeding the act of it. In this feeling of force, the bold taking possession. Good sound com idea arose in my mind of being able mon sense was more valued by him to supply a complete theory of legis. than any learning or cultivation,”' &c. lation, and making this the object of any True, perhaps ; and yet it was only life life, since I had not yet learned to con. in the rebound from speculation. We sider on what, but for what, I was to have seldom known an abstracted stu- live.” A true and beautiful picture dent who had not a theoretical interest of the happy enthusiasm of youth, and in life ; but it is always through a not to us an anticlimax, though it peculiar medium-he is not one among leads from love to legislation ; for the men in the first instance, but he pro. production of theory and system was jects an imaginary self into the midst the work to which his mind was of them, and watches his reciprocal adapted by organization, and which influences upon them and from them. could not but result, if a moving force He delights in the symbol of owner was found for its mechanism; but the ship, but he knows that it is a symbol, exo xiuncéws is the same for all, and amuses himself with his own de- the original energy of the will; and light; for he has passed through the if its effects are not the same, through antithesis of the conscious subject and the clogging of the machine, by sel. its object, to the comprehension of both fishness and worldliness, enthusiasm is in a common objectivity, which is at the vis medicatrix nature, which art can first not felt to imply, as its correlative, but partially imitate in attempting di a common subjectivity. The reflected ελίου και φόβου περαίνειν την των τοιούτων and secondary object is identified with παθημάτων κάθαρσιν. the simple and primary, and this con- We say enthusiasm, for of love we scious developement of unconscious doubt ; that cool and prudent deterbeing forms one main element of Ger mination to select the object first, and man literature. As a characteristic fall in love with her afterwards, makes specimen of the class, we have selected us rather sceptical, and we have a Erhard. He could not feel himself lurking suspicion that real love was owner of a house, till he found a sym. too human and practical a state for bol to represent ideal ownership to Erhard to be included in, An Amehis imagination. He exchanged theory rican rhetorician draws a distinction for life, only because life was to him between the shopkeeper and the man the emblem of a theory.

in the shop, the farmer and man on We have said that, as became a the farm ; and so we would say that philosopher in the Siegwart-Werther. Erhard was not a lover, but a philoisch epoch, he fell in love, or fancied sopher in a condition of love. Varn. that he did so ; apparently with no hagen Von Ense takes a sound view particular fair one, but with an idea, of the question :which the maidens of Nuremberg “ The mind and spirit of the young had the opporturnity of realizing in man is all on fire; he deprecates every rotation ; yet all the while he was doubt, and every misunderstanding ; preparing for a more permanent at he sees in her perfection, he expects tachment, and he determined " to from her every spiritual elevation and choose its object calmly, before his moral advancement; he revels in ad. mind was agitated by passion." He miration and passionate devotion. fixed on a certain Wilhelmine, and . . . . . And yet, with all the thought “ that the ideal was realized; fire, with all the enthusiasm, with all

« PreviousContinue »