GEORG JOACHIM GOSCHEN.*
Tins book, which has occupied for many years the scanty leisure of the eminent statesman from whose pen it proceeds, will interest a very large public in Germany, and a smaller one in England. Those who read it through in this country will be chiefly persons who wish to understand more fully the mind and character of its author, persons who are interested in the history of publishing in all lands, or the more enthusi- astic votaries of German literature. We should be better able to form an opinion as to whether it will find general favour on this side of the North Sea if we knew what success attended the publication of a remarkable work with which it is natural to compare it—the Life of Perthes, another great publisher— which appeared in an English dress in or about the year 1856.
Georg Joachim Goschen was born in 1752. His family may possibly have come to Saxony from the banks of the Aar, in Switzerland, but that is quite uncertain, and the first ancestor of the great publisher who can be really traced was a Lutheran clergyman who in 1609 resided in the principality of Merse- burg. Georg Joachim's father deserted his family; but the boy, after suffering considerable privations, was adopted by a kind-hearted man of the name of Rulffs, apprenticed to the book trade in Bremen, and became later an employe in the great Leipsic publishing house of Crusius. He started in business for himself at that place in the year 1775, soon after the commencement of the golden age of German literature, and while the "storm and stress," or, as Lord Goschen prefers to call it, the "storm and strain," period was still overturning old traditions.
Before he began to work alone Goschen had been employed for a short time in a Co-operative Society at Dessau, the object of which was to reconcile the conflicting interests of authors and publishers. The difficulties he encountered, in this not too hopeful enterprise, made independence all the more agreeable; but capital was wanting. It was supplied by the kindness of Kiirner, the father of a more famous son, the heroic singer in later days of the "lyre and sword." With this timely help and immense personal labour the youngest of Leipsic publishers soon began to be favourably known, and his relations with men of eminence rapidly multiplied. Already. in 1786 he was connected with Weimar and its patriarch Wieland, while even earlier he had become intimate with Schiller, in circumstances described at length in chap. 4 of this book. Ere long he was in correspondence with the Stolbergs, F. Jacobi, and Herder, while in 1787 ho became the publisher of the greatest writer of the age, and had engaged to bring out an edition of Goethe's collected works. Lord Goscheit tells, in the most minute detail, the story of this venture, which from a pecuniary point of view was not so successful as its publisher had reason to expect. He gives also elaborate accounts of his grandfather's war with the pirate publishers, who, taking advantage of the want of any • .Lifo and Times of Goorg Joachim Gooch". By his Grandson, 158""8 Ooacheo. 2 vols. Bylustrated. London : John Murray. Pas. net. general copyright law in Germany, robbed with perfect im- punity. Several letters from Goethe in this part of the book are well worth reading. They show, inter alio, how very hard the great poet worked during his stay in Rome. It is sad to think that the alliance, so auspiciously begun, came to a disagreeable end through Goschen's unfortunate refusal to print the treatise on The Metamorphosis of Plants, for which the age was not ripe.
In 1788 Goschen married Friiulein Heun, the daughter of an official of some standing, with whom he seems to have been perfectly happy. A visit to Weimar about this time intro- duced him to several people "of light and leading," whose reception of him was such as to show that his experience as a publisher had acquired for him no small amount of consideration. But financial troubles thickened, and for some years his position, especially in 1789, was one of great anxiety. A new venture, called the Historical Calendar for Ladies (Historischer-Salender fir Damen) did much to extricate him from his difficulties. Something between an almanac and an annual, it contained not a few compositions of great value, amongst others Schiller's "Thirty Years' War." In 1790, too, Goschen published Wieland's Gottergesprache ("Dialogues of the Gods "), a political treatise full of wisdom, in the style of Lucian, suggested perhaps by the ever-memorable discussion between the Persian nobles in the third book of Herodotus. The pages which describe this work of Wieland (Vol. I., 363-67) are particularly interesting.
The marriage of his friend Schiller to Charlotte von Lenge- feld greatly interested Goschen, and the circumstances con- nected with it are told at considerable length. It did not, as might be supposed, diminish the dependence of the poet upon Goschen's purse, ever open to his demands; but a gift of three thousand thalers, to be paid to Schiller in the course of three years by the Date of Augustenburg, must have somewhat lessened the pressure. Soon after this event the "Thirty Years' War" was completed, and there was a question for a time of its being followed in the Kalender by a History of the Reformation from the pen of Pesta1ozzi, an idea to which Schiller, who would have had to introduce this production with some favourable remarks, most strongly objected, and which was never carried into effect. Meantime Goschen went on steadily publishing a complete edition of Wieland's works, but refused to embark on W. von Humboldt's important book on the limits of the State's action. The political situation naturally made him cautious, and the war against the French Revolution soon came to complicate business calculations. It was while Europe was still in this electric condition, and war might at any moment have swept across Germany, that Goschen determined to transfer the main centre of his activity from Leipsic to another spot. He bought for two thousand thalers a tiny home near Grimma, and leaving an agent to manage his publishing business in its former scene, be carried on his printing in the little town near which he had taken up his abode. With the transfer of his place of residence his grandson's first volume concludes.
In its last chapter there is a description of a strange book, written by Goschen, and called Johann's Travels. Its most important part consists of letters, really written by the author to his wife, though attributed in the book to the imaginary Johann. The idea was obviously suggested by Sterne's Senti- mental Tourney, to which, as well as to Tristram Shandy, Goschen was devoted. He read English with ease, and was as fond of our literature as, without much rhyme or reason, he disliked our countrymen, and our political attitude in Europe.
The second volume of Lord Goschen's Life of his grand- father begins with a long account of the quarrel between him and the most valued of all his clients, which arose from Schiller, in a journey to his native province of Swabia, having succumbed to the attractions of another publisher, J. G. Cotta. It is not a pretty story, and does scant credit to the poet, who had ever since he left the Rhine country for Saxony been the intimate friend of Goschen, who had been useful to him during sickness and health in a hundred ways; but bards, like Kings, have ever been " kittlecattle to shoe behind."
The story of the quarrel with Schiller is followed by an account, in not less detail, of a contest between Goschen and a firm trading under the name of Weidmanns. Goschen asserted, and the rival house denied, the validity of an
arrangement between Wieland and Goschen for the publica- tion of all the works of that author, over seventeen of which the Weidmanns claimed paramount rights. The question came before the Law Courts, gave rise to many discussions, but was settled at last in favour of Goschen, who produced four gigantic editions of Wieland's works in as many different forms, adapted to the wants of rich and poor. This was a great undertaking, the largest of the kind which Germany had ever known, and established its publisher's reputation as a master of beautiful typography. Ere long even his Greek printing was unequalled. Old Father Gleim wrote of him as the German Elzevir. All the correspondence with Wieland is recounted at vast length, and will doubtless save much trouble to any one who may wish to write a history of publishing in Western Europe. Incidentally we have notices of other passages in Wieland's life, as, for instance, of his removal to " Osmanstiidt," an important event in the literary annals of Weimar.
Another remarkable person now appears upon the scene. This is Klopstock, for whom Goschen tried to do what he had done for Wieland, by publishing, with only moderate success, an edition of his collected works. His relations with the poet of the Messiah remained, however, like his relations with Goethe, purely of a business character. A visit which he bad contemplated to make the acquaintance of his client, who had sent him an invitation to Hamburg, remained without result, as had his projected meeting with Goethe at Carlsbad some years before. A pretty full account is next given of the dis- creditable battle-royal amongst German literary men which was brought about by the epigrams which Goethe and Schiller launched against all and sundry under the title of " Xenien." This is narrated about the middle of the second volume in chap. 25, which is particularly well worth reading, from the light which it throws upon the good sense and good temper, amidst much provocation, of Goschen and his friend Wieland.
The quarrel between Goschen and Schiller was happily terminated, chiefly through the mediation of A. W. Schlegel, and there was after this a not infrequent exchange of kindly offices between the two. Goschen, for example, assisted Schiller when be desired to purchase the little house in Weimar, which many of our readers have no doubt visited. But the old relation could not, in the nature of things, be quite re-established. Landor makes one of his characters— speaking of friendship—say with much truth, that "coarse stones, if they be broken, may be mended; precious ones, never."
Bad luck in this matter attended Goschen to the very end of Schiller's life, for his rival, Cotta, saw the poet on his death-bed, while he was prevented doing so, and all the later productions of Schiller's genius went forth to the world with- out the stamp of the man who had done so much to support him in his early struggles. A very long account of Wieland during the earlier years of the nineteenth century contains not only an all too full narrative of business relations between him and his publisher, but many much more agreeable glimpses of the veteran author's life. It tells of the happi- ness of his earlier days at Osmanstiidt ; of his affection for Sophie Brentano, who died and was buried in his grounds there; of his reception in his old haunts at Weimar, when financial difficulties made him return thither ; and a long passage about his religious views, in which his dislike of certain forms of superstition is oddly contrasted with his toleration for others decidedly less graceful, is pleasant to read. With the invasion of Germany by Napoleon the narrative of Goschen's life becomes more connected with the great affairs of the world, and the frightful amount of private misery which followed Jena is brought out very vividly.
The chapters from 30 to 33 inclusive, published with the headings of "Politics and War," "Under the Napoleonic Incubus," "The War of Liberation," and " Napo leon's Fall," seem to us the most interesting in the two volumes. They depict very clearly the hideous results of the French invasion. It would not be easy to find any book which gives so good a picture of that dreadful time Goschen, like so many others, was almost absolutely ruined, and his publishing business, from 1811 onwards to the close of the War of Liberation, all but ceased to exist. With the Battle of the Nations, which was .fought so near to Grimma that the noise of the guns was quite-clearly beard in Goschen's little home, the tide of
war turned, and in 1814 people began to breathe again. It was just at this period that an event of the greatest possible im- portance to the Goschen family occurred. The third son, Heinrich, who had been learning business at Bremen, was, at the age of twenty, when just about to join the Army, taken into partnership by a man of some means, called Frailling, and carried by him to England. This was the beginning of the great firm of Frithling and Goschen, which occupies, and has long occupied, so high a place in the City of London.
After the close of the Napoleonic Wars had restored some prosperity to Germany, Goschen continued his labours with a fair measure of success, but with nothing like the vigorous initiative of his earlier days. He tried to limit his enterprises, and rather to draw capital out than to put more of it into his business. Now and then his prudence seems to have deserted him, for be sank a large aum of money in an atlas, which was most unsuccessful. He died in 1828, leaving an honoured name to the brethren of his craft, to his country, and to his descendants. He survived all the more eminent of his literary allies, with the exception of Goethe, who lived five years longer,—till that memorable morning which Carlyle has described in the finest essay he ever wrote.
If this work had been primarily intended for the general reader, its plan could not have been pronounced a happy one. Lord Goschen, however, is a great deal too wise and too conversant with the literature of many lands to make a mistake in such a matter. The primary object of his Life of his grandfather (see its concluding sentences) was to raise an adequate memorial to the first distinguished member of a family which has in this generation won so great a position, alike in finance and politics. All Englishmen and many Germans know how honourable a part Lord Goschen has played at Westminster; while the house founded by his father is one of the four—all, by the way, of German origin—which, with hardly any exaggeration, may be said to move the whole produce of the planet. There is every reason to hope that the same success may attend other generations of the same race, and to each generation a book like this will become more valuable as a voice from the long-past Pietiit. The quite admirable illustrations with which it teems make it all the -more suitable for such a purpose.
The general reader will find his best account in many of the episodes, such as the sketch of Wieland in VoL L, and of Iffiand in Vol. II. He will probably skip the details of the business relations between Goschen and numerous famous personages. Few of these, we fear, will be much raised, and none save Schiller will be materially lowered, in his estimation, while the great publisher himself will be remembered as what Ruskin called his own father,—" an entirely honest mer- chant" Like the elder Ruskin, Goschen had a warm heart and strong intellectual interests, though art had the greater share in the affections of the Scotchman, and literature in those of the German. The great publisher quite deserved that his sepulchre should be built by one of his descendants. Some may wish, however, that this had been done in the last generation, and that Lord Goschen had been set free to devote his great abilities, colossal industry, and extraordinary patience to some subject which appealed more directly to them.