« PrethodnaNastavi »
that the child has been removed whose very sight was a reproach to her. Ottilie has no reason for such feeling; so far from it, the child was a basis for her life, which had been wavering in the void. That the loss of this something which alone enabled her to live, together with her anguish of self-reproach that her reckless passion has cost the life of a fellow-being, even were that fellowbeing not so unimaginably dear, that this should not be enough, without the pitiful apparatus Goethe has brought to bear upon Ottilie's end, would alone reveal him as incapable of sounding the depths of feminine nature, as well as of estimating moral values, of gauging the sense of retribution.
Acquainted as we have become with the theatric quality which has been commented upon, with the extent to which Goethe is possessed to have a scene in what with any other great author would be moments of transcendent calm, we turn the page for the last chapter of the "Elective Affinities" with a certain trembling. The trembling is justified by the result, and we spare the reader a further criticism. There is one lucid moment, when the young architect who has loved Ottilie in his negative fashion comes to see her as she lies in the chapel, with the semblance of her which he has himself painted looking down upon them. But that a writer credited with a superb heathenism could evolve such stuff as makes up much of this chapter must be regarded as one of the phenomena of literature.
If the scope of this essay admitted of extended criticism, it would be unfair not to pass in review those play-poems, upon which must rest so much of Goethe's claim to be great in literature; with these, too, the Gedichte, some of which, coming to them from a perusal of his larger works, we might describe at first hand as un-Goethean, gushing as they do like a living spring from a well of poetry undefiled. And we should not, of course, presume to assign Goethe's place in the literature of his own country, or to estimate his importance thereto. If we have dwelt in this essay largely upon his faults, it is, as was said at starting, merely as offset to the undue estimation in which he is held among English-thinking people of the present generation. It has often been regretted that Coleridge, who seemed best adapted to the work, could he have been brought to it, did not give us a clear and just estimation of the literary work of Goethe. He did not do it; and the field was left open for the caprices and the capitals of Carlyle. The undue estimate, however, goes back, no doubt, to
Goethe himself, being found in his imposing and fascinating personality. This gift, which a genius, a great writer, may or not have, like any other person, Goethe enjoyed in full proportion. When Heine tells us that by the motion of his hand he seemed to direct the stars in their course, we detect the note of exaggeration. To the imposing personality was added every gift of fortune and position. It would have been extraordinary if Goethe's estimate of himself, at least toward the end of his career, had not been a somewhat exalted one. Something of an actor, at least from the standpoint of posing and of costume which in his day went so far to fulfill the requirement, it is not surpris ing that this exalted estimate should have been imposed upon those who came in contact with him. But the distorted criticism and extravagant laudation of Carlyle are greatly responsible in that Goethe's is to-day, among English readers, the most overestimated name in literature.
We entirely admit that we have nothing to do with Goethe's character, save so far as it affects his work. When his supporters tell us that we have no right to interpret his works by his life, when they tell us that his character has nothing to do with his works, we find rather, from careful study of them, that his character is in his works, and has left upon them, from the standpoint of literary art pure and simple, an inevitable and ineffaceable flaw. Moral perversity, we should find rather, when persisted in, has its counterpart in an intellectual perversity. Whether Goethe's limitation was by nature, or whether it was the result of the mental confusion following upon an inverted moral standard deliberately set up, the result is the same for the reader. This we believe to be the solution of the "Faust" problem. Goethe had in his mind vaguely, we must presume, some such scheme as his supporters credit him with bringing to perfect, or something like perfect, accomplishment. Already in the first part we see a wavering in certain directions, a lack of grasp of central idea; in the second part, or in such portions of it as bear directly upon the solution, he is like a ship without rudder, at mercy of wind and wave. We have not desired to find in "Faust" a sermon of Jonathan Edwards, or any other. But poetry must have its base upon certain rocks; the rocks may be covered with the splendid flow of poetic imagination which adorns the wondrous world of Spenser's creation, but they are there.
If, then, Goethe's character affects his work, as we believe, inevitably, we have a right to protest against the special attitude of
his supporters in regard to him. This is quite another thing from denying that geniuses, with certain limitations, are not to be judged by common rules. What we complain of in Goethe is that he deliberately inverted the standard. A genius might commit all the lapses of a Burns, a Byron, and a Goethe together, and if he acknowledged them, even tacitly, to be lapses, that were one thing. What we complain of is that Goethe inverted the standard; that he said, "Evil, be thou my good;" and that his extreme admirers support him in this, to the extent of declaring that wrong is right, at least so far as regards Goethe. Against this we have a right to protest, until it can be proved that a genius, by virtue of being such, is destitute of that sentiment of right which Kant declared to be one of the two beautiful things in the universe. It is to Goethe's personality that the observations we have quoted from Schopenhauer apply preëminently ; and upon Goethe's works we base the judgment that few things could be more disastrous than that Schopenhauer's view should become the opinion of mankind in general, or of any large number of the writers who could be called great in literature.
Mary E. Nutting.
THE OXFORD MOVEMENT IN THE ENGLISH
THE appearance of Mr. Wilfrid Ward's book entitled "William George Ward and the Oxford Movement " has been eagerly waited for by those who wished more than Cardinal Newman's Apologia" and Canon Oakeley's pamphlet volume on "The Tractarian Movement" as a statement from the point of view of the Roman converts who followed its possible leadings into the Roman body. W. G. Ward did not originate it, nor did Canon Oakeley, but when it had reached a certain development they powerfully assisted to give it a Roman interpretation which Newman had not intended and greatly deprecated. It is the middle and later stages of Tractarianism which Mr. Ward's biography covers. The book is a supplement to Cardinal Newman's account of his religious opinions, but it is more than simply a personal statement. It largely enters into the reason of things. Mr. Wilfrid 1 William George Ward and the Oxford Movement. By Wilfrid Ward. New York: Macmillan & Co. 8vo. pp. 392.
Ward is dealing with his father's Anglican life, and is fair and candid in his treatment of it, but the whole tendency of the book is to vindicate his father's action in entering into the Roman communion. The charm of the biography is that it reveals the secret motives which guided his father in an almost unexampled career, and groups around him the brilliant contemporaries at Oxford who were powerfully attracted by his personality and charmed with his conversational powers. The Oxford common room and the intellectual breakfast parties which he gave or attended while a fellow at Balliol, and at which gathered such men as Jowett, A. C. Tait, Mark Pattison, Arthur Hugh Clough, Dean Stanley, Frederick Temple, and Dean Church, were the field where his personal qualities were displayed at the greatest advantage. It was in maintaining logical discussions, in bringing others to his opinions, in a sort of personal mastery of his topics, that he most delighted. His biography presents one of the raciest pictures of Oxford life that has ever been drawn. In Newman's "Apologia" these pictures are strictly subordinated to a great purpose, but in the present instance the men who best knew W. G. Ward have been invited to contribute their reminiscences of him, and in doing this they have unconsciously given almost photographic sketches of what was most distinctive in Oxford life fifty years ago. But the greater value of this book is its contribution to the accumulating materials which are necessary if the Oxford Movement is to be estimated as a whole. The difficulty with all writers upon this episode in the English Church has been that they were too near it to appreciate it correctly. The reason why so many who started with Newman found themselves drifting toward Rome was that they could not see its larger bearings as a phase of life in the Church of England. It is here that W. G. Ward's career is most valuable to the student of this period, and we must sacrifice references to the entertaining personal details in this memoir, if we are to deal with the Oxford Movement in the large way which these fresh materials suggest. Every one interested in theological changes as they are manifested in the lives of remarkable persons will turn to this work and devour its personal revelations, but for many the possibility of now presenting an outline sketch of the Tractarian episode will seem to have greater importance. Without further delay I turn at once to the Oxford Movement.
It is the characteristic of historical churches, as distinguished from modern denominations, that they allow schools of thought or interpretation within certain limits which do not disturb the fun
damental principles of the Christian faith; while the modern denominations, being in most instances the outgrowth of special interpretations, have no room for allowable divergences in belief. In the history of the Christian Church in its organic parts, there is a constant ebb and flow of these schools, which are represented in the Gallican and Ultramontane parties in the Church of Rome, which have their manifestation in High, Low, and Broad parties in the Church of England, and which are known by the same terms in the United States. These schools of thought, varying in the degree in which they are dominant in historical churches, have a directive influence, but they do not change the constitution or order of the Church itself. It is from this point of view that what is called the Oxford Movement is to be understood, if its relation to the Church of England is to be rightly interpreted. Since the Reformation, the Puritan and Anglo-Catholic parties of the seventeenth century, the Evangelical and Latitudinarian parties of the eighteenth century, and the Catholic and Broad Church parties of our own time, have helped to keep the religious life warm and fervent in the Church of England. No one school of thought has entirely predominated at any one time, but each in its turn has been dominant, and has helped to present Christianity in those phases which best indicate its adaptation to the changing aspects of human life and civil society. The Catholic movement in the English Church of the seventeenth century was not the same as the Catholic revival of the nineteenth century. It emphasized principles but was controversial in its position toward Rome, while, within our own time, the Catholic revival has brought out the affiliations between the English and Roman churches to a remarkable degree. None the less, however, has the Oxford Movement been a distinct and positive force in the English Church. It brought to light nothing which was new to the Church, but a great deal which had not been used or had been overlooked in its working system. It especially brought out, at first in the devotional system, and then in doctrinal statements, the means by which the Church in England could be revived on the basis of its old Catholic life, its order and its worship, which were not distinctively Roman, but Catholic as distinguished from Roman. It was felt by Newman, Keble, Pusey, Perceval, Palmer, and Hugh James Rose that unless the Catholic offices and theology were revived in the Anglican Church it could not maintain its claims to be the spiritual teacher of the English nation.
This was what the Movement aimed at. Probably few of those