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manufacture, if one does not bear in mind that, like the sermons he spoke in public, and the incessant sermons he extemporized in private, they all had an immediate purpose and a definite audience in view. The Bernese peasants pass before us in painful reality, with all their virtues and vices in their faces, and with their torn and muddy garb, rank with the smell of the farmyard,—just as they passed before Gotthelf's eyes daily to be catechized and reproved, to be taught a new way of preparing fodder for the cattle or cheese for the market, and to be indoctrinated with a proper abhorrence of radicalism; not less fatal, in his opinion, to religious belief than to all dutiful subordination to civil authority.

Gotthelf had a healthy, vigorous faith: life to him was posi tive, — a sphere for work, not for speculation. Auerbach began his career in an anxious seeking after the unknowable: from being a Jew he had become a Pantheist, and, as a Pantheist, it was upon him to explain life to himself and to others; and the mighty unrest of that task is visible in all his writings. As a Jew, indeed, by birth he was well fitted to lead the way in the endeavor, apparent in a good deal of the literature of the day, to show how the conscience of man can recognize sin, and how his will may be trained, and must in the necessity of things be trained, to wrestle with it upon grounds independent of those presented by Christian doctrine. But, as a mere thinker, Auerbach is not original: the philosophy which he has adopted as the explanation and the rule of life is not of his own discovery. He follows substantially in the footsteps of Spinoza, and shows the practical working of that thinker's doctrine in life, helping us to judge for ourselves of its worth by the success with which he unfolds it in action; as is especially the case with his last quite remarkable romance, entitled Auf der Höhe, of which we shall speak in a moment. We have merely to remark now, that it was this very philosophical freedom which helped him more than any thing, perhaps, to the peculiar success he obtained in his peasant tales; for there he not only had full scope for his faculty of acute observation, but a basis of human nature, so



to speak, unoppressed by the burden of dogmas, free from the disturbing elements of speculative thought.

For this modern civilization we fancy so permeating is found after all in many countries, when carefully scrutinized, to be but a sort of superficial polish: it goes down really but a little way into the masses of the people, and the bottom stratum is very likely to be wholly untouched by it. The Christianity these peasants of Auerbach had been taught might as well have been any other code of decent behavior, accompanied by sufficient superstitions to sanctify it. The men and women he had known from boyhood, along these bubbling mountain-streams, in these crowded hamlets, in these lonely wastes of forest, were men and women as near the state of nature as you could get for Auerbach's purpose. And so he described them just as they were, but made his description poetic; and the world was charmed with the beauty and veracity of it, and overjoyed to find in these unaccustomed ways, where no flower of sentiment, no fragrant poetic blossom, was ever gathered before, such a freshness of life in the midst of what was thought such a pestilent miasma. But the world had perhaps little insight into the conditions of that success. In Gotthelf, there was a solemn repose of faith like that of the Hebrew prophets. But along every page of Auerbach's runs an undertone of that Well-schmerz, which his philosophy cannot banish, and which he has no religion to help him master. Yet let it not be supposed, that Auerbach is wanting in faith. To him, as Taillandier says, "the world is beautiful, and life is sweet: it is the mystics, the false idealists, who, under pretence of embellishing, disdain it; it is the blasés who mock at it; it is the materialists who disfigure it. Let us, on the contrary, find out life, what it contains. There is more poetry in reality than in the inventions of fancy; for the study of reality is the basis of science, and science is the noblest poetry. Let us study reality, then, not merely physical, but moral reality; for that alone is true and durable reality, and, in the end, explanatory of the other: that is, let the artist be a moralist.

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The reading world in Germany had grown weary of the

triflers, who, by concealing their want of creative power under a forced frivolity of manner, had succeeded in keeping it in the heated air of the saloons, amidst gorgeous upholsteries and resplendent mirrors; and it was weary, on the other hand, of the sensuous mysticism of the illuminati. The boudoirs of the Countess Hahn-Hahn, and the aristocratic saloons of Sternberg, were even more oppressive than the schools. where young Germany preached, it was thought, the reha bilitation of matter. It was, therefore, like a fragrant breath of the blossoming springtime, like a breeze redolent of farmyards and freshly-ploughed furrows and long reaches of oaks and beaches that came up now from the Black Forest, and braced the unstrung nerves, and gave a tone to the jaded mind. For these characters, so simple and true, were not the representatives of a system: they were neither demagogues nor preachers; they were soldiers and wood-cutters and schoolmasters and schoolboys and emigrants, painted with a loving hand, with all their caustic bonhommie and all their vulgar vices. Living pictures, as it were, on the canvas, they answered the general craving for greater reality and a more. earnest purpose. Political lyrics were stirring the people again, the national drama was reviving, the whole poetic tendency of Germany was taking a more vigorous and a more reflective turn.

And what these peasant-tales were to literature in general as the re-action from an over-refinement of culture, they were to Auerbach himself as the re-action from merely speculative, unfruitful thought. He had been knocked about for years amongst all the doctrines of the schools; he had sat at the feet of Rabbies, and been overborne with the scholasticism of the Talmud; he had listened to the lectures of famous professors, and tasted of the ripest fruits of philosophy and science: but in all these labyrinths of speculation, amidst these dust-heaps of dead learning, he had sought in vain for the lost peace of his soul. After all this intellectual exile, this spiritual vaga. bondage, he returned like the prodigal son to his old home among the forests and the hills, and, writing his peasant tales, began a new epoch in the history of German fiction.

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But the very qualities for which these tales were at first most prized are perhaps the very ones which they most lack, originality and naïveté: they are, above all things, the products of reflection and experience. It is not the consciousness of the peasant that speaks out of these sturdy figures; but the poet of fine æsthetic culture, reflective, and never losing sight of the questions that so vex the mind of the age. "The fundamental law of all poetic creation," says a German critic, "is the free elevation of a given subject into the sphere of the universal." Judged by that law, Auerbach has not succeeded in attaining the highest excellence in art; for, instead of creating idyllic scenes, he makes real events and characters pass before us: he goes down almost among the proletaires, and brings them up, brutal and filthy as they are, and makes a psychological study, so minute often as to be painful. Deficient in the deepest poetic feeling, his speculative tendencies have overborne a good deal the freedom of his fancy. He is too thoughtful to idealize, and, moreover, too earnest in his purpose to do so.

And the immediate and universal success which he attained is due to the very fact, that in this seriousness he was true to the literary traditions of Germany; that his pictures were not open to the reproach under which so much of the current literature lay, of an excessive idealism or a dangerous indifference for Germany had been drifting slowly into a denial of its own peculiar genius. It had taken up with a Voltairean turn, very ill adapted to it; and this perversion had gone so far, that schools were at one time founded in which irony and raillery were recommended as a salutary remedy for the intoxicating seductions of mysticism. And, side by side with this abnormal tendency, the old sin also of Germany had re-appeared: it began to dream, not, as of old, the golden dreams that floated it into the luminous heaven of spiritualism, but the turbid dreams of socialism. The new spirit, therefore, which Auerbach now breathed into literature, was of an assuring kind. He was a clever story-teller; but he was also a serious artist: he had an end in view, and his readers had come to have one. His morality and theirs, however, was no

longer a string of commonplaces, which might be addressed as well to everybody and to all relations. Inspired by a certain philosophical optimism, he had conceived the profoundest reverence for the dignity of human nature; and this reverence he expressed, not in decorous phrases, but in the keenest analysis of individual and real characters. For true poetry was to him the study of details, and every literary work which pretended to exert a moral influence must justify itself by its realism. One feels, in reading him, that his mind was set upon the elevation of Germany, and set upon it with passion; and that, faithful to the German traditions, in observing the precept so well expressed by Boileau, that the merit of the man. is not to be separated from that of the writer, -a principle, however, apt to be looked upon in France and elsewhere as a ridiculous notion of olden times by those, and they are many, who can find the indication of genius nowhere but in disorder, - faithful to these traditions, Auerbach may have lost something of the artist in the moralist; and to many of us, therefore, unaccustomed to look in fiction for any thing more than amusement, he may seem dull. But it must be remembered that he is a true type of the German character, and of the literary society in Germany in general, which knows nothing of adventurers and Bohemians, but recognizes in every man, poet, romancer, historian, or what not, a grave and special mission; and which insists, that all the more as the people give themselves over to industrial activity and to trade, the men who represent the interests of thought shall be held to respect themselves, in order that so their work may be respected. Hence that fragrance, as it were, of sincerity that refreshes us, even in works of a second or third rate sort; and hence that general subordination of the imagination to the law of duty, and that universal protest against an enervating or demoralizing literature.

In Auerbach's tales, therefore, it was not merely the subject, of a genuine character, limited as it was, that attracted attention, but the way in which it was treated, — terse, realistic, with a severe avoidance of empty phrases and swollen metaphors, and an earnest effort to explain the significance of

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