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The Goethe Anniversary
By Kuno Francke
Professor of German Literature at Harvard University
T a time when all Germany is the sight of her fate, by “ mankind's colpreparing to celebrate the one lected woe,” he seems to be raised above
hundred and fiftieth birthday of all lower desire. Henceforth his life beGoethe, it seems proper to consider for a longs to the world at large, and every new moment the essential features in the char- temptation he turns into an opportunity acter of Germany's foremost poet, to pass for wider activity. He ends as a chamin brief review those works of his which pion of democracy ; his last vision is that even now stand out as embodying vital of a free people living on a free soil; and, problems and aspirations of modern so dying, he proclaims the redeeming power ciety. The number and the significance of of ceaseless endeavor : these works are all the more inipressive if
Yes! to this thought I hold with firm perwe remember that, apart from his lyrics sistence; and ballads, which are beyond cavil,
The last result of wisdom stamps it true : Goethe has produced little which from the He only earns his freedom and existence merely formal point of view is not open
Who daily conquers them anew. to serious criticism.
Next to “Faust” stands Wilhelm First, of course, in order of spiritual Meister.” Here, again, it is easy to see significance, stands his “ Faust.” It would artistic shortcomings. We often feel, in be folly to overlook the artistic defects of reading this book, as though we could not this drama, the looseness of its composi- breathe in this atmosphere of erratic dilettion, the lack of proportion between the tanteism. We even feel something akin Gretchen episode and the rest of the First to contempt for these men and women Part, the absence of outward atonement who keep a most scrupulous account of for Faust's guilt, the motley symbolism of their own precious emotions, who bestow the Second Part. But the fact remains the most serious consideration upon a host that in all modern literature there is no of insignificant trifles, and who, at the poem which is so complete an embodi same time, only too often are found erring ment of what is noblest in modern life: in the simplest question of right and its restless activity, its incessant striving wrong. With the exception of Mignon from lower spheres of existence to higher and Philine, the child of the past and the ones, from the sensuous to the spiritual, child of a day, there is not a single promfrom enjoyment to work, from creed to inent character in the book capable of deed, from self to humanity.
forgetting himself and living unreflectGoethe's “ Faust” is a glorification of ively for the homely duties of the present. individual culture hallowed by devotion But while this is true, it is also true that to collective tasks. Isolation, selfishness, the one ideal running through this book, negation, are shown to destroy themselves. the one goal for which nearly all of its Mephisto, the arch scoffer and deceiver, leading characters are striving, is this is defeated, because he has no conception very self-forgetfulness-self-forgetfulness of the all-conquering power of a steadfast as the result of fullest self-development purpose. Euphorion, the representative and self-expansion. of uncontrolled fancy and willful aspira This is an ideal so far removed from tion, while presuming to soar to inaccess- selfishness that it may be called the ible heights, falls helpless to the ground. gospel of a secular Christianity. If the Faust is saved, because he makes every teaching of Christianity rests on the belief new experience a stepping-stone for a that every individual soul has within it higher and more complete form of exist the possibility of salvation, the teaching
Sin itself seems to ennoble him. of “ Wilhelm Meister ” rests on the belief After he has seen Gretchen in the dun- that every individual mind has within it geon, after he has been overwhelmed at a tendency toward complete manifestation
of itself. The former preaches the neces Had Goethe written nothing but sity of individual salvation in order to “ Faust," “ Wilhelm Meister," and “ The bring about the kingdom of heaven, the Elective Affinities," he would have done latter preaches the necessity of individual enough to entitle him to the foremost place self-development in order to raise man among the literary exponents of the modkind to a higher level. The former is ern view of the world as a living, spiritual democratic, the latter is aristocratic; but organism. But it may truly be said that both are opposed to spiritual tyranny of all his other works, from “ Werther” to any sort.
To both the inner motive, the Iphigenie," and from “ Tasso ” to the mental effort, the moral striving, are the “Westöstlicher Divan,” are imbued with things which decide the worth of a man. this same exalted conception of human Both believe in the essential goodness of life. Probably no man ever looked at human nature, which makes it possible for life from so broad a point of view and with us to preserve our better self even in error so little bias : probably no man ever felt and sin; nay, to attain, through error and more deeply the divineness of the unisin, to deeper insights and loftier ideals.
And surely no other man of the The third place among Goethe's larger last one hundred and fifty years has works I should give to The Elective rounded out his own personality more Affinities." With the exception of Tol- consistently and completely. stoï's “Anna Karenina,” I know of no It is wonderful to see how this personother literary production which brings be- ality passed through every conceivable fore us with equally inexorable truthful- phase of human development without ever ness the tragic conflict between elemental losing or exhausting itself; so that tre instinct and the moral law. But while in octogenarian could indeed, with the eagerTolstoï's “ Anna Karenina " we are con ness of a youth, look forward to death as fronted with utter hopelessness and anni the last and highest consummation. The hilation, we are led in Goethe's “ Elective storm-and-stress enthusiast changes into Affinities ” from moral ruin to moral vic an admirer of classic antiquity, the imtory. Ottilie, the heroine of the novel, is passioned poet into a patient investigator, one of those sensitive natures to whom the son of nature into a statesman and all knowledge comes by intuition, none cabinet minister. But here the chain is through reflection ; who act only under not broken. The admirer of classic anthe stress of an irresistible impulse. Sure tiquity returns to the worship of the Midof her own feelings for Edward, assured, dle Ages and revels in romantic melodies ; moreover, that Edward and Charlotte de- the scientist turns poet once more, and sire nothing more fervently than a divorce, glorifies in sublime rhythms the new conshe does not question the legitimacy of ception of life which the study of nature her feelings. Thus she lives on, in ner has disclosed to him ; the statesman bedreamy, plant-like fashion, welcoming comes a patron of poetry and art, and every opportunity of meeting her beloved, lays the foundation of a truly national turning to him as to the light of day, un- stage which at the same time is to embrace conscious of the catastrophe that awaits the best of all the literatures of the world. them both; but all of a sudden she comes And thus is ushered in the last period of to see that she has unwittingly sinned, this great life, a period of complete uniand henceforth her only thought is expia- versality, in which the smallest and the tion. She renounces the world; she is greatest, the oldest and the newest, the going to devote herself to the instruction most distant and the nearest, nature and of the young; for who is better fitted for art, politics and religion, the life of the guiding the young than he who through individual and that of nations, seem to misfortune has come to know the joy of lie spread out with equal clearness before self-possession? And when she is thwarted the eye of the serene and joyful patriarch, in this through Edward's mad desire to win while there is only one unfulfilled desire her at any cost, there is nothing left for disturbing the calmness of his soul—the her but to die. She dies like a saint, by boundless and indomitable desire for the the mere resolve not to live, passing over infinite. Truly, the commemoration of gradually and placidly into the sphere of such a life as this belongs not to Germans the spiritual.
alone, but to the whole civilized world.
By Hamilton W. Mabie
HE results of the
series of nine contests or trials of skill and strength between Oxford and Cambridge on the one side and Haryard and Yale on the other, at the Queen's Club, West Kensington, London, on the afternoon of Saturday, July 22, were known in the United States earlier by the clock than they were actually decided here, and will have been matter of history for weeks when this · report appears in The Outlook ; but the charm and significance of the day, the field, the combatants, and the audience will not soon fade from the memory of those who hung upon the issue of the final race as if it were of international moment. It was a struggle in every sense;
for it was a well-fought fight, undetermined until the last three minutes of the long two hours and a half; but it was
pre-eminently a THE ROYAL BOX
struggle between friends. In it are the Prince of Wales, Duke and Duchess of York, and Mr. Choate.
The undercurrent of good feeling was constantly manifesting itself in cheers and counter-cheers for work well done, whether done for one side or the other. There was something stirring in the spectacle of generous rivalry between the representative young men of two great countries. One could not but feel that there was something prophetic in it; an invisible background of unity which gave the contest of strength the harmony of strenuous struggle and entire good feeling.
This thought was happily expressed two days later in the columns of the London “Standard," a journal not given to exaggeration or sentimentality :
But young men at the age of university students can mingle in the mimic strife of the cricketfield, the river, or the cinder path without any danger of lasting irritation being produced by failure, or boastful exultation by victory. It is in youth that the best friendships are formed between man and man, and likewise between men of different nations, before the suspicion, the cynicism, and the selfishness which may come in later years have disqualified the soil for the reception of more generous seeds. There are many causes of coolness, not only between different countries, but between class and class, which only greater familiarity between them is needed to disperse. Nothing but good is likely to result from the social approximation which is now springing up between those in whose hands will be the shaping of the Anglo-Saxon race.
Aside, however, from the significance of the meeting between Harvard and Yale and Oxford and Cambridge, the spectacle was full of interest and charm. The after
THE BROAD JUMP
C. J. Daly, Harvard, second. 22 feet 6 inches. noon was warm to the point of discom that warm afternoon by carriage, hansom, fort; indeed, the heat had been so unusual “growler," "bus," or underground, it for a succession of days that an almost seemed as if the whole city were pouring unprecedented concession was made in itself westward. Cabs and carriages in the matter of dress. The morning papers continuous streams set down their occuannounced that the Prince of Wales would pants at the two entrances. The crowd not wear the customary frock coat and was great, but there was no discomfort, high hat—a hint which was promptly and not the least disorder. Even the acted upon, and for once London saw a ' half-crown crowd,” which stood across great concourse of gentlemen in short one side of the field against the backcoats and straw hats. To many Ameri- ground of houses for three hours in the cans the ubiquity of the straw hat, even blazing sun, was not only patient but on the stand set apart for Oxford and respectful. It was not a college crowd, Cambridge, must have seemed in its way and it iistook the American 'rah! 'rah ! a most suggestive indication of the change 'rah! early in the afternoon for irony, and of English feeling.
attempted a very unsuccessful imitation The heat, which Americans found less of the familiar college cheer ; but it soon trying than their hosts, did not in the found out its mistake, and was not slow least interfere with the interest of the to applaud American success. occasion, or diminish the crowds which At the head, or, as the English would streamed into the great field and inclosed say, the top, of the field was the stand it in deep lines of eager spectators. Lon reserved for the Blues-Oxford and Camdon is so vast that the concentration of bridge men and their friends ; next came ten thousand people at a given point does the royal box, in which appeared connot sensibly lower the tide of moving life spicuously the Prince of Wales and the in any great thoroughfare; but to those American Ambassador—both affable and who were going to West Kensington on on easy terms with the distinguished com