Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

ter, that we are tempted to translate the the Hamburg merchant. But he was at following long extract from it:

the same time anything rather than a slave As concerning your relationship with me

of the lamp. He wrote of his social ac. here (in Weimar), it is best that I say what I quaintance with barons and countesses, wish without disguise. That I love you, you and after his removal to Weimar, riding, cannot doubt. it is essential to my happi- fencing, balls, concerts, and theatres ali ness that I know you are happy, but not that had a claim on him which he made no preI am a witness of your happiness. I have tence of rejecting. At his mother's recep. always told you that it would be very hard for tions, he saw much of Goethe and the me to live with you, and the more I think other celebrities of Weimar, but by the about it, the more this difficulty (on my side terms of his compact he had to keep himat least) seems to increase. . . . In what con. self in the background on these occacerns the visible world, I can agree with you sions, and to the great men he was only in nothing. Besides, your melancholy is very one unknown admirer among many others. depressing to me, and inharmonious with my But under these diverse stimulating influown cheerful disposition, without being of any use to you. Understand, dear Arthur, that ences his thoughts quickened inevitably, you will be only a visitor at my house, and and, remembering his own dictum about that I shall always breathe freely when you go the brief allotment of time at a man's disaway, because your presence, your lamenta posal for the development of originality, tions about irremediable evils, your gloomy it is scarcely surprising to find among his looks and strange opinions, spoken with such early memoranda casual remarks made a positiveness, and so unanswerable, keep me before the age of twenty-one in which one in a state of violent mental irritation and de. pression of spirits. . .. I live at present very may discern a compendium of his aftertranquilly; From the beginning to the end of philosophy. It is with the human mind the year I have no unpleasant moments but as with trees, he used to say: the buds those I have to thank you for. I am peace. form in the spring, and the subsequent seaable in myself. No one contradicts me. I sons are merely for the maturing of the contradict no one. No loud word is heard in buds; the fruit will proceed from the buds my household; everything goes forward prop-in due time, but there will be no more erly. I go my own way. No one can dis- buds than at the first. cover who commands and who obeys; all the work is done in quietude, and life glides self :

In 1808, for example, he asks himalong, I know not how. This is my own arrangement, and it must not be disturbed. Why is the remembrance of the past

. . When you are older, dear Arthur, and wrapped in so sweet a tranquillity? Why do see things more clearly, we shall understand the names of men of old excite in us so melaneach other better, and perhaps I may then choly a sympathy? Why do we see their spend my best days in your house, with your features in so tender a twilight, with no harsh children, as befits an old grandmother. But glare upon them? Is it because death has in the mean while, let us do our best to see removed them, because their griefs and pains that the thousand little bickerings of our in- are now no more, and time has taught that tercourse do not embitter our minds and drive these were delusions for us to laugh at like away our love. . . And now mark on what childish troubles ? footing with you I am to be. In your lodg

Again:ings you are at home; in my house you are a guest, just as I was in my parent's house after Suffering that I refuse to bear, or transfer my marriage : a loved and welcome guest, who to the shoulders of another, is thereby augwill always be kindly received, but with no mented. Hence has arisen the bulk of the concern in my household arrangements. I evil of the world, for the original, actual, imwill not suffer any remonstrance in this re- manent evil (the guilt of the world) is always spect, because it puts me out of humor, and increased by such selfish rejection as this. does no good. On my reception days you Only by a voluntary acceptance of the evil is may sup with me, if you will then forbear from a diminution of it possible, and this is the disagreeable arguments, which also disturb kingdom of Heaven. me, and from all lamentations about the stu

Hitherto, Schopenhauer had not di. pid world and the misery of mankind, because this always gives me a bad night and bad verged much from the religious faith of dreams, and I like to sleep well.

the multitude. But his phraseology al

ready betokened an original mind, and Schopenhauer's intellectual progress in though he had not yet made his capital the few months of his school life at Gotha, distinction between dogma and criticism was very rapid. He benefited vastly by (theology and philosophy), that the latter the systematic teaching which supplied is an attempt to rouse us from the dream the place of the half-hearted desultory self- of life, whereas the former does but urge education he had attempted in the office of us into a sounder sleep, his substitution

[ocr errors]

of a primordial evil, inherent in the mate with the careers of two of his early friends, rial world, for the erring Adam of biblical Bunsen, and Jacob Astor, a member of the history was at least suggestive. It is New York family of Astors: “The one noteworthy, however, that from first to has obtained rank, the other wealth, and last he insists on self-sacrifice as the chief the third — wisdom !” As for Bunsen's means of salvation. Such self-sacrifice is book, “God in History,” he dismissed it expedient for the same reason that the with the curt censure, “It is Bunsen in moral virtues are expedient. The latter, history !” It is worth notice that this and especially inviolable justice, exact so same Bunsen is one of the few men who much self-mortification and self-surrender had any sort of intimacy with both Leofrom the man who practises them that life pardi and Schopenhauer. Bunsen was as is soon robbed of the sweetness essential kind to Leopardi as Schopenhauer had to make it enjoyable; denial of the will been to him, and Leopardi placed such to live ensues, and perfect resignation. reliance upon his friendship that in a mo

In 1809 Schopenhauer came of age, and ment of sharp necessity he drew a bill of a division of his father's estate had to be exchange upon him, and entreated him to made. It was high time his mother had honor it. some check put upon her expenditure. At Gottingen, in addition to his classiShe had indulged herself with several cal and mathematical studies, Schopenservants, a carriage, and all the fashion. hauer heard lectures on natural history, able pleasures of the day, with but little mineralogy, anatomy, international histhought of the large drafts that had to be tory, physics, chemistry, botany, philos. made upon the principal of the estate to ophy, logic, physiology, ethnology, and cover her expenses. ` A few years more, national history, by such men as Blumenand Schopenhauer would have received a bach, Schulze, and Heeren; and these schedule of debts instead of the few thou- lectures were to him even more useful sand thalers upon the income of which he as nuclei of knowledge to be enlarged. was to depend for his own livelihood. As His favorite subject was metaphysics it was, the sum was so small that he re- the queen of sciences, he calls it, as holdproached his mother with extravagance; ing the reins of the whole circuit of human and no doubt it was his personal experi- knowledge. In his study, the works of ence that afterwards led him to record his Plato and Kant were conspicuous, and he opinion that, in money matters, women adorned his walls with a bust of Socrates should always be treated as minors, and and a portrait of Goethe. The time had as such be under the supervision of some not yet come when he could somewhat male relative or the State. A notion that petulantly avow that if he had not a dog may be received with derisive laughter in he would not care to live; but at Gottingen the year 1888!

his spaniel was his constant companion. Among Schopenhauer's fellow-students Socially, Schopenhauer, as may be exat Gottingen, whither he proceeded at the pected, was not much of a success. His end of the two years' training of Gotha roughness and obstinacy in argument, his and Weimar, was a youth named Bunsen, unconventional manners, and the extreme friendless, shy, and with very little money seriousness with which he put forth parin his pocket. It is impossible now to adoxes provocative of mirth in the more say why Schopenhauer felt an interest in thoughtless of his contemporaries, were Bunsen. Judiged by their after works, the not engaging. It was due to Wieland that two men could not have been in sympathy about this time he resolved to devote him. intellectually. Schopenhauer gave Bunsen self to philosophy. “Life is a wretched a helping hand, cheered and enlivened business," said the young student to the him, and risked his mother's displeasure aged littérateur; and he added that he by taking him to Weimar, where he intro- thought of making it a subject of reflecduced him into society, and even paid the tion. “It is clear to me, young man," expenses of his theatre going. Fifty years rejoined the old man, " that you have done afterwards, when Bunsen had made him- well in making such a choice. I underself more generally own, he ventured to stand your nature now. Keep to philoso. write to Schopenhauer, and make mention phy.” Shortly after this, Wieland met of his Timonian misanthropy." The Joanna Schopenhauer at one of the duke's two old friends met, but the meeting only receptions at Weimar, and congratulated gave the philosopher material for a few her on her son. "Ah, it has given me words of moralizing not very complimen- great pleasure to know this young man. tary to the diplomatist. Speaking of his He will do something great one day.” college days, he contrasted his own career Goethe used to amuse his friends witń a

little story about Schopenhauer's abstrac- such a man is so exceedingly transparent tion of mind while quite a youth. Joanna and trivial, that conventional ordinances Schopenhauer was entertaining the world can hardly be said to bind him; they are of Weimar with some amateur theatricals, but the gossamer webs of mediocrity from which Arthur contrived to withdraw which he breaks through and carries away himself, and he was standing by a window unconsciously in the course of his bold in moody isolation, when a merry little and free movements in the arena of objecgirl, one of the guests, accosted him, and tive existence. He even went farther than asked what he was doing. “Little child,” this, and averred that inasmuch as the replied Schopenhauer, in solemn reproof, man of genius gave his whole life for the “ do leave me here in that state of peace profit of humanity, he had a license of which shall one day be the portion of us conduct which was not accorded to the all." Practical experience also at this rest of mankind. time taught him somewhat of the disquiet From Gottingen, Schopenhauer passed ing passion of love, which in the "Par to Berlin. He longed above all to hear erga” he afterwards vituperates as one of Fichte, whose lectures, it fully and lucidly the evils that attend on youth and make it treated, were, by their nominal scope, an epoch of life less desirable than old adapted to set his mind at ease on the age.

He lost his heart to an actress most momentous of questions. But the named Jagemann, about ten years his briefest of acquaintance with “ the little senior, wrote verses upon her, and assured man with the red face, bristly hair, and his mother that if he found her breaking piercing eyes” sent him home in a fury: stones by the roadside he would take her He asked himself — by what means had to his own home. From a knowledge of such men as Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel Schopenhauer's disposition and the many narcotized the intelligence of the public, barricades that intervened between his that they were allowed to deliver themhead and his heart, one may assume that selves of such “ rhetorical poison" unopthis equivocal speech was the nearest step posed? He deliberately contested the towards a declaration of love that he ever few ideas he had been able to pick forth thought well to take. A few years later, from the farrago of balderdash in which to be sure, he confessed that in the course they were almost smothered. He denied of his Italian travels, he was held in the reasonableness of the "holy calm ” Venice for an inordinate length of time, which Fichte promised to the man who by silken fetters. He was then in the accepted his tenets, in theory and practice. prime of life, and often debated with him." On the contrary,” said Schopenhauer, self on the subject of matrimony. But he " the life of the best of men, of the man was also by that time an established man who has taught himself self-contentment, of the world, the “excellent fopperies ” of is nothing but a constant and restless which he applied for the amusement of struggle, without victory. The most a his head, with but little thought of his man can do is to see that he never lets his heart; his morals had deteriorated; and arm fall, but fights and fights to the last he seems to have had illicit designs upon breath.” To the end of his days, Schothe lady who was so unfortunate as topenhauer could never find words strong have charmed him. With his essential | enough to express the fervor of his anihonesty in speech, he did not attempt to mosity against these professors of philos. hide from his sister the relationship upon ophy, of whom Fichte, Schelling and which he hoped to stand with this fair Hegel were the arch-types. In revising Venetian, and it may have been Adele his first essay, he asked a legal friend to Schopenhauer's affectionate expostula- define the limits of abuse beyond which tions that deterred him from carrying the it would be hazardous to go; and we may matter forward. “I have in my works be sure that he touched the boundary. well shown what a saint is, but I myself But notwithstanding his detestation of am no saint.” He was never tired, in the Fichte, he profited by his teaching. When, interests of truth, of making this confes- for example, he says that the body is only sion. Another uncommon characteristic the phenomenon of the will, he does but of his mind was the ease with which he intensify Fichte's assertion that “the difwas able to justify, or at least excuse him ference between the will and the body is self for peccadilloes of a kind that would only a view of two sides, the subjective crush the spirit of ordinary immoral per- and the objective." This must be said, sons. He argued that a man of his great however, that the sublime, if somewhat mental gifts was, in a measure, above the windy ecstasies in which Fichte indulges rules of morality. The game of life to lin bis dissertations on God, knowledge,

humanity, and the beauty of holiness, are son were as ill-fitted as formerly for har. wanting in Schopenhauer, or are obliquely monious association. To increase her put in his one conclusion — that the man income, Joanna Schopenhauer had offered who soonest attains to a sense of the mis- a home in her house to a young man ery of life, and the futility of knowledge, named Müller, with whom Schopenhauer may become the best and holiest of men took the first opportunity of disagreeing. by a complete surrender of self, and be a To the son it seemed that his mother benefactor to those members of the race found the agreeable young lodger's soci. yet unborn, by refusing to take part in ety, very pleasant; and he taunted her their propagation.

with disregard of his father's memory, as In 1813, Schopenhauer wrote the “ Es well as indifference to his (Schopenhauer's) say on the Fourfold Root of the Principle welfare. In short, a new crisis occurred, of Sufficient Reason," which procured him and young Schopenhauer was again banhis philosophical diploma from the Jena ished the house. Permission was given university. This important essay, the him to board at his mother's table; but foundation of his maturer work, was con- for this privilege it was understood that ceived and fashioned under peculiar diffi- he must pay so much per week. A fatal. culties. He fled from Berlin, where every ity seems to have urged him to run counter one was in arms for, or against Napoleon, to his mother's plans for happiness. For to the quieter retreat of Rudolstadt; but he had not long been on the footing of a even here he had to pit his thought against daily boarder in the establishment when the braying of trumpets and the clank of he invited a university student to come weapons. Not to be conspicuously worse and live with him. At first Joanna Schothan his fellow-men, he had bought a gun penhauer did not strenuously object to this and sword, as if ready and willing to fight new guest at meal-times, she was short of for his fatherland. But, in bis heart, he money, and the lad would of course pay was lamentably unpatriotic. The philoso- for his aliment. But a few weeks of this pher is of no country, and Schopenhauer new experience made her regret that she exemplified the saying in words as well as had not been peremptory from the begin. deeds. In the letter that accompanied ning; and, that her son should not slackly his essay, he alluded to the martial tumult interpret her words this time, she abruptly in the midst of which it had been comput an end to the arrangement, and asked posed, and made the confession that in his for the payment due for him and his friend opinion he was born to serve mankind up to date. No doubt Schopenhauer's with his head, not his fist, and that his words and arguments did not help towards fatherland was a greater than Germany. conciliation ; but on the other hand his The essay was duly published, duly praised mother's taunts because he and his friend as a masterly performance by one or two had managed to evade the general con. high priests of culture, and duly, for the scription were only too well adapted to most part, remade into pulp as so much increase the domestic inflammation. She waste paper. One amusing little circum- expressed her opinion that he was acting stance about it may be mentioned. Scho- dishonorably in not assuming a uniform penhauer of course sent his mother a copy and taking a sword in hand. As for the of the book. She read it sceptically, and, friend, " No doubt he is glad to shelter his no doubt, much to her mystification, and innate cowardice behind you." then ventured to congratulate her son. On the other chief subject of their dis. “Not bad for an apothecary," she ob- cord, Joanna wrote thus to her son: served, referring to his medical studies at "Were I to sacrifice my friend Müller Berlin, made in the interest of his meta. because he and you do not agree, I should physical schemes. “It will be read when be wronging him and myself. You and I there is barely a single copy of your writ. can never live together for any length of ings left in any lumber-room," replied time, that is the real meaning of it, and Schopenhauer. But his mother was de- should I for that reason tear myself apart termined to have the last word in this from a friend who is faithful and of use, passage of wits: “The entire edition of and who makes my life more pleasant, and your book will stay in the printer's hands," is liked and esteemed by many worthy she retorted, with abundance of probabil, men ? And this merely because in a sudity on her side.

den heat of passion he was rude to you, Soon afterwards Schopenhauer paid his who were by no means polite to him? I final visit to Weimar. He was received should be acting very unjustly towards by his mother as a guest ; but in a very him and myself. Do but leave him where short time it was apparent that mother and he is; he does you no harm. . . . Do not

reply to this; it is useless. If you have world below him: its sandy wastes and moarranged for your departure, let me know, rasses disappear; its inequalities are levelled; but do not hurry, as I do not want to know its discordant sounds fail to reach him, and of it long beforehand ... Since our last its roundness is made manifest. And thus he annoying conversation, I have firmly re- stands ever in the clear cold mountain air, solved, dear Arthur, never again to have and sees the sun in the heavens while the any verbal intercourse with you, whether

night is yet dark beneath him.

CHARLES EDWARDES. pleasant or unpleasant, because my health suffers from it."

Schopenhauer respected his mother's injunctions. He left Weimar for Dresden soon after this disruption in 1814, and

From The Spectator. never saw her again. The estrangement

ARDENT AGNOSTICISM. was so absolute indeed that during the THE death of Mr. Cotter Morison has twenty-four years which intervened before deprived the English literary world of one her death in 1838, hardly five or six letters of the most learned and brilliant of that seem to have been exchanged between paradoxical group of men who may propthem. Adele Schopenhauer was of ten- erly be termed ardent agnostics, men who derer fibre than her mother. She could press their agnosticism with a sort of not bear to think that her brother was to apostolic unction, and ask us to serve be blotted out of her life so completely, man, as the best men serve God, with a and her letters to him, later, in Italy, are zeal as disinterested and as absorbing as pleasant reading. But this correspond- ever missionaries have displayed in the ence soon came to an end. The "little conversion of the heathen. Mr. Cotter goose," as Feuerbach somewhat harshly Morison has left no work behind him at calls her, suffered from that old curse of all adequate to the impression of ability human nature whereby the sins of the which he produced on the minds of those father are visited upon the children. Scho who could appreciate what he had done. penhauer was discarded by his mother; But his studies of St. Bernard, of Gibbon, he in his turn expressed distrust of his of Macaulay, and of Madame de Maintesister, and of the sincerity of her letters. non have supplied no mean test of his He was by this time as lonely a man as purely literary skill; while his last work, any that trod the earth, with no compan-on "The Service of Man," burns with the ion but that strong brain of his upon zeal of a sombre enthusiast who would which he relied for all the genuine satis- risk as much to suppress the degraded faction to be drawn from an experience of classes, or at least to prevent them from life. In his old age, he asked himself, transmitting their degraded nature to a * What is the greatest possible enjoyment future generation, as ever an apostle risked a man may have ?" The intuitive knowl. in order to infuse into those classes the edge of truth — there cannot be the slight spiritual fire of a divine renovation. Mr. est doubt of the correctness of the answer,” | Cotter Morison, though he was so thorwas his reply.

oughgoing an agnostic that he eagerly deWith this before us, and speaking in sired to sweep what he regarded as the simple terms, we may congratulate Scho- obstacle now presented by Christianity out penhauer that, by his own way, he reached of the path of human progress, was noth. the goal he strove for. But that the course ing if not, in his own peculiar sense, relihe designed to follow was no easy one gious. His books are full of what we may will be clear to the novice from these call unction. He says of Gibbon that words of his, written the year before he women who could enter into his great book began his chief philosophical work: "are better fitted than men to appreciate

Philosophy is a high Alpine pass, accessible and to be shocked by his defective side, only by a narrow track over stony pinnacles which is a prevailing 'want of moral elevaand sharp thorns. It is a lonely way that tion and nobility of sentiment. His cheek grows more desolate as it ascends, and who- rarely flushes in enthusiasm for a good ever follows it must not be afraid, but must cause. The tragedy of human life never leave everything behind him, and confidently seems to touch him, no glimpse of the infimake a path for himself in the cold snow. nite ever calms and raises the reader of Often he finds himself suddenly on the edge his pages. Like nearly all the men of his neath him; he gets dizzy, and would fain cast day, he was of the earth earthy, and it is himself into the abyss; but he must bear up, impossible to get over the fact." Of Ma. and, with his own blood, glue the soles of his caulay he says that his “utter inability to feet to the rocks. Then he soon sees the comprehend piety of mind, is one of the

« ZurückWeiter »