1 MAY 1847, Page 15


Meneraz SCHOPENHAUER was a friend of Goethe, and an authoress of some popularity in Germany ; who after publishing four-and-twenty vo- lumes of biography, travels, fiction, and criticism on the fine arts, deter- mined to write her own life, partly as an amusement in her declining years, partly to save herself from the'hands of biographers. This plan, however, was intercepted by her sudden death, in 1838, when she had only recorded one third of her career.

It has been said by the Edinhurgh Review, "that it was her lot to live through and partly to witness some of the greatest events of modern times." The statement is undoubtedly true, but not the implied comic- ; for Madame Schopenhauer lived through no more than the many million persons on the Continent who existed between 1766 and the close of the great contest which ended at Waterloo. Madame Schopenhauer was born at Danzig, in 1766, of respectable parents in good circumstances. This old member of the Hanseatic League was then a free city ; and little Miss Trosiener, at six years old, was startled by the appearance of commotion and sadness which the Danzigers displayed when the first dismemberment of Poland was declared ; for though the Imperial free city was directly unaffected, yet a line of eircumvallation was drawn about her by Prus- sian customhouses, and the citizens felt instinctively that the prosperity and glory of Danzig was stricken. Johanna Henrietta Trosiener appears to have possessed a vivacious and precocious mind ; and the independence of the "free city," with a smattering of Greek and Roman history, made her a partisan of republics. On the breaking out of the Amerioan war, in her tenth year, she became an active advocate of that "great event of modern times," and rejoiced whenever she heard of any success on the part of the insurgents. At eighteen, she married a partner in one of the first mercantile houses of Danzig; and in 1787, set out with her husband on a tour to England by way of Germany and France. In Paris she saw a royal and courtly procession in all its splendour, while the people and the public were muttering discontent, and signs of gloom and change were abroad, which Madame Schopenhauer did not then understand. In 1790 her autobiography breaks off; describing no further events than the troubles of tra% ening in Germany at the end of the last century, and the change in the fashion of the ladies' dresses at Danzig, caused by Madame Scho- penhauer's costume on her return from her European tour. With one re- markable event of modern times she was closely, and very much against her will, connected. She was at Weimar during the battle of Jena, listening anxiously to the roar of artillery throughout the contest, as she could not get away for want of horses; and she was a witness to the subsequent riot, pillage, and lawlessness of the French infantry—for the cavalry con- ducted themselves like gentlemen. An interesting account of her feelings and observations during this period is given in a letter she wrote at the time. With some extracts from her travels in 1803, selected by her daughter, it forms a fragmentary continuation of Madame Schopen- hauer's autobiography, as far down as 1806. As a life, there is not very much to be said of these volumes, owing to the deficiency of events in the heroine's career : nor was she a person of sufficient eminence to interest the reader in the picture of her youthful studies and opinions, or of certain household and Danzig "cha- racters" whom she describes at large. The value of the book consists in its sketches of manners, opinions, and domestic life, such as they ex- isted in the burgher aristocracy of the Free Cities towards the end of the lid century ; for we suspect there was less of education, society, and in- dependent thought, in the towns that were under the more direct rule of the German Sovereigns. In this point of view, the book has a curious kind of value. The matter is slight, the persons and incidents are of small account, or altogether trivial ; but they are real, and well though rather diffusely and affectedly described. Without being at all like Washington Irving in style, Madame Schopenhauer resembles him essen- tially in having a fondness for old fashions and quaint characters, and bringing them out with picturesque effect by a singular combination of lucky touches and laborious minuteness. In one particular Madame Schopenhauer has the advantage. There is more reality—less of artifi- cial composition, while her portraiture is nearly as like life. Her father, mother, nurse, the chief clerk, and the English chaplain, (Scotch Presby- terian, we suppose,) with the tutor, who proposed for her at thirteen, all her acquaintances either known familiarly or by sight, and the appear- ance of the city, citizens, and frequenters of Danzig, come before us like creatures preserved in amber. The things may be "neither rich nor rare," but they have lived, and there they are. The book, however, is not one for all times or moods of mind : we must be at leisure as regards externals, and patiently disposed or listless in ourselves, before we can advantageously study Madame Schopenhauer's pictures of the old times and the manners prevailing during her Youthful Life. There are a few passing notices of whilom celebrities, among whom Zimmerman and the Abbe Vogler are the best remembered ; but they arc not full or numerous enough to form a feature.

Not the least interesting part of the volumes are the "Pictures of Travel" ; not for the incidents or observations, but for the description of the difficulties encountered in travelling through Germany, and the sketches of manners both there and elsewhere. The following is a good indication of the artificial taste of the old regime, which delighted in the unnatural, forced, and surprising, but carried it to a high degree of ex- cellence. The description is from the writer's visit to Paris in 1787-88.

"In the evening I rested myself at the theatre. Of these there are a great many in Paris open every day to playgoers; and I generally returned home very well pleased with my entertainment. I shall only speak of one of the smaller ones here,—Les Petite Comediens du Roi. The performers were children of from fourteen to sixteen years of age, who acted in an elegant little house that stood within the Palais Royal. Their performances, which gave general satis- faction to a public by no means hard to please, were confined to operetti, farces, vaudevilles, and other similar trifles, in which the French so far surpass all other nations.

"Some one whispered to us, The only thing that is remarkable here is, that one of the little actors does not utter a word; he plays, whilst another behind the cur- tain declaims his piece: could you discover which he was?' I paid the closest attention, and fancied I had detected the voice; when, to my great surprise, I was told, that the boy I had singled out was a rather awkward beginner; and that, in fact, not a boy or girl on the stage had uttered a word ; that the whole piece had been recited from beginning to end behind the curtain, and that the entire per- formance of the actors was pantomime. "The deception was perfect: when I was informed of it, I had the greatest dif- ficulty in believing what I had been told; not a look, not a glance or a movement, too soon or too late: not even in the singing, when one could plainly see the tre- mulous motion of the throat, when some rather difficult collerature were poured forth by the singer. "I could never make out the utility or purpose for which these poor children had been subjected to a training so laborious, as it must have been to themselves and to their instructors; and I could obtain no satisfactory explanation from any one that I asked about it. The whole mummery was dispersed in the storms of the Revolution, and it was too counter to the taste of the present age to be re- vived."

Passing over Madame's own account of her being squeezed in the crowd nigh unto death, and her rescue by the laconic appeal of a French friend to the Swiss guards, we will take her description of a procession she saw at Versailles, in which all the Royal Family appeared, and for about the last time in that kind of thing. "The procession now drew nigh, and I forgot the danger to which I had been exposed but a few minutes before. The sweet breath of Eastern scents bespoke their approach; the dazzling glitter of jewels and the richness of the embroidery blinded my eyes: I saw, but I could hardly say what. I have no distinct impres- sion of the whole after the lapse of so many years; some single figures alone stand prominently out in my recollection.

"And first, the King, surrounded by the grandees of his kingdom: his cum- brous form and rolling gait did not set him off to advantage. The expression of his byno means unpleasing features, and his whole appearance, conveyed the idea of an irresoluteness of character, such as one would not have expected in a king. The noble soul which animated this ungainly form lay concealed, and scarcely showed its powers till on the scaffold it took its flight from the clay in which it had dwelt.

"The King's two brothers, the Count of Provence and the Count d'Artois, after- wards Louis XVIIL and Charles X., in external appearance were far before him: they were handsome, well-proportioned men, who knew how to display to advan- tage every favour Nature had bestowed on them. But their cousin, the Duke of Orleans, was a finer man than either of them: his figure was really kingly, and his features handsome and regular. Who could at that time have supposed that be would become the execration of the world, the murderer of his royal kinsman, the horrid Egalite, in whose bosom hell itself was even then raging; the monster who degraded himself so that the lowest scum of the populace with whom he asso- ciated hurried him with scorn from prison to prison, till they brought him to the guillotine in order to be rid of him? "And now the Queen, the most dazzling object of her day: she was then in her thirty-second year; her beauty was fully developed, and as yet she had not lost the charms of youth. She was tall and slightly made, but her limbs were beauti- fully proportioned; and in her gait and look there was that indescribable charm, combined with a dignity of character, that made her seem as if she, the daughter of an emperor, had been born on purpose to rule and enchant a world that was doing her homage. "She was fair, her complexion exquisitely transparent; her features regular, her countenance of a fine oval; her bright blue eyes, and delicately curved Roman nose, all, in short, combined to render her one of the most exquisitely beautiful creatures that had ever been seen. She did not dress in the extreme ot the taste- less fashions which then prevailed. The Parisians, who were determined to find a flaw in her, have positively asserted that she had red hair: this question, if of importance, it would be hard to decide, as the Queen wore the brownish a la mare- challe powder then in general use, which gave a reddish tinge to all hair. • * • "A smiling little boy was sitting in a child's carriage on the great terrace close to the palace; and a slim, pale, little girl, of about eight years of age, walked by his side, holding his hand, and looking with merry eyes on the gay world around her. That boy was the most innocent sacrifice of the time,—it was the Dau- phin; the delicate little nymph was his sister, afterwards Dutthess of Angon- lame, one of the most unfortunate of her family. • "The haughty but beautiful Diana de Polignac accompanied the Royal chil- dren: perhaps it was the sight of her, so hateful to the people, who suspected her of being the dangerous adviser of the Queen, that kept the many promenaders in the garden from saluting the little Dauphin in their usual hearty style."

The account of the state of Weimar after the battle, the fears of the inhabitants, or at least of such as the writer came in contact with, and the mixture of recklessness, vivacity, savageness, and good-nature of the French troops, retrieved by some honourable feeling in individuals, is a strange picture, but depending for its effect upon its minuteness and reiteration: traits which, indeed, distinguish the volumes throughout, and do not well adapt them for quotation in our brief space.