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motive, so pure in its exercise, so philosophical rigour, he has deprived beneficial both to the donor and re- the ordinary tamperers with the most ceiver, so free from all objections in delicate subjects of domestic adminipoint of policy to which a compulsory stration of their childish plausibilities system is exposed, might be found for concealing the truth from a miss adequate to the relief of all real and guided public; he has developed the inevitable calamity; and the existence true source and fatal magnitude of the of legal provisions for the support of evil, and prepared the way for an effithe poor is therefore without defence, cient remedy, which philosophy may upon the principles of true philosophy. indeed prescribe, but time alone can But the questions about the original accomplish. This is all that, in such formation of such establishments, and perplexed problems, science can do for their continuance when once formed, humanity. and interwoven with a vicious system Intimately connected with the theoof public morals, are quite distinct. ry of population is the question of the It by no means follows that we are corn laws, which has long divided the bound instantly to destroy whatever most able and enlightened political ewe should have refused, in the first conomists. This momentous discusinstance, to construct. A tendernesssion has hitherto been conducted too to human suffering often exacts of much on the ground of minute and philosophy great deference even to the trifling details, and without that steady most impolitic and barbarous institu- regard to general principles, which tions. It is strange, that amid the alone can lead to a satisfactory solution acknowledged and intolerable evils of of the difficult problem. the poor laws, which have now excited The increase of population in any one universal murmur of condolence community becomes, in the present cirand despair, so few should be disposed cumstances of Europe, independent of to recognise the true source of the the supply of food afforded by the imcalamity in the opposition of the prin- proved agriculture of that particular ciple of policy on which these laws are state ; the demands of commerce for lafounded, to the immutable ordinances bour, with the facility of a foreign supof nature: that so many intelligent ply of grain, might, but for legislative persons should yet stubbornly look to interference, create the most appaling the detail of regulation, instead of disproportions. The agriculture of a turning their eyes to the great and civilized state cannot, for obvious reapalpable vice of the entire system: sons, sustain a fair competition in the that the insanity of that law, which general market with that of semi-barassumes the unlimited abundance of barous nations; it will therefore, in the materials of labour and the means the natural course of events, be neof subsistence, in the midst of the glected, and the population must, of most cogent and touching evidence of course, become dependent on foreign their deficiency, should yet be dis- states for subsistence. Such is the inputed : and that the man who has evitable course of that state of society in vigorously and fearlessly unmasked which we live, unless arrested by the the fatal delusion, should be rewarded interposition of the laws; the same with unsparing insolence, and branded impulse of resistless competition—the as the enemy of his species. It is not same pressure of severe discouragethe object of Mr Malthus at once to ment, which have annihilated the once sweep away the poor laws, and to thriving manufactures, and swept away abandon the floating mass of wretch- the commerce of flourishing states, will edness which they have created to un. extinguish also that manufacture of pitied destruction ; but he has pointed food, which, like all others, thrives out the true source of the overwhelm- only by encouragement and reward. ing calamity; he has cleared the great It is true indeed, that a fatal crisis has principle of all such establishments never yet arrived to any state so as to from the mist of prejudice in which it leave its fields desolate in the abandonhas been immemorially involved; he ment of its agriculture; for the rapid has shown, not with what unsparing and unequal growth of commerce and havoc a pretended reformation ought manufactures, which can alone hasten to be accomplished, but in what direc- such a catastrophe, is comparatively tion all practicable improvements ought recent in the history of the world; to be attempted. With a just and and the calamity of agricultural deso
lation has been averted by the opera- an unrestricted freedom of trade than tion of private interests, demanding with the incumbrance of corn laws? and receiving the protection of the or, whether an enhancement of the laws,-interests which, however sel- price of grain does not operate on the fish in their origin, have in this, as in price of labour, the state of manufacmany other cases, wrought in strict tures, and the course of foreign trade? subservience to the public prosperity. no man who understands even the eleBut even this constant and powerful ments of political economy can hesiinstinct has not saved England from tate for a moment as to any of these occasional and severe agricultural de- propositions. But the important matrangements, which, in many possible ters truly at issue are—whether, uncombinations of European policy, might der the visible preponderance of manuhave left her without resources to pro- facturing and commercial enterprise in pitiate a starving population, and avert a state which is excluded by opulence, the horrors of insurrection. Those by taxation, by the accumulated preswho have studied the science of politi- sure of natural and artificial burdens, cal economy, not merely in its meta- from all agricultural competition with physical details, but in its higher mo- the frugal poverty of other nations, ral bearings, know that the mere ac- agriculture will not inevitably decline, cumulation of wealth, although an ima and a fatal disproportion be created beportant, is not the exclusive object of twixt the population and the produce its researches; that there are cases in of that particular state? Whether this which its most imperative maxims of disproportion will not, unless the lea class, strictly economical, must be gislature interfere, naturally increase subordinated to the demands of a high- till a state of dependence be created er and more interesting policy; and that not less artificial than formidable ? where national honour, tranquillity, or And whether it be not the office of a security is concerned, the most legiti- high and presiding policy to interpose mate theory for the mere increase of before the mischief of the system be wealth must, without scruple, be sure consummated ? and by the steady sarendered. It was thus that the legis- crifice of some portion of wealth, and lature interposed by means of the na- amid the temporary struggles of a vivigation laws; and by circumscribing vacious, and already luxuriant, com. its shipping market to the commerce merce, restore the great and salutary of England, made a sacrifice of profit proportions of nature, which never ina to security and strength, which has tended that the population of a mighty commanded the gratitude of England, empire should repose for subsistence and the applauding envy of mankind. on the precarious fertility, or still The principle of that entire freedom more precarious policy, of neighbourwhich distinguishes the liberal com- ing states, to whom she stands jealousmercial policy of modern times is in- ly opposed by the very tenure of her deed sacred in every case which falls greatness. within its legitimate application-in Such is a specimen of the important every case where the question is singly applications of which the theory of poabout the accumulation of wealth, and pulation is susceptible-a theory which where the sure sagacity of private in- indeed affects, more or less, almost terest will triumph over the presump- every great question of domestic polituous empiricism of legislation,-in cy. Those who calumniate the philoevery case where those objects alone sophy which they do not understand, are at stake, which address themselves have many expedients, indeed, to prom to the unerring instinct of that private vide for any excess of population. They cupidity from which alone the prin- propose the cultivation of waste lands; ciple derives its application and its they hold out the cheering prospect of force ; but it is weak and unphiloso- emigration; they cannot believe that phical to appeal to this maxim for the the world is not large enough to afford, solution of cases which involve higher in some corner, an asylum for human elements than the principle itself is in- folly. Can such reasoners forget, that tended to embrace, and which can be the additional cultivation, which is resolved only by a wider range of com- profitable, will surely be attempted ? parison, and larger and higher views and that the fact of its not having been of policy. The question is not, wheth- hitherto undertaken, affords conclusive er corn may be bought cheaper under evidence, that hitherto it would not have been beneficial that the same irregularities of passion which spring argument applies to the toils, the out of a distempered constitution, and perils, the repulsive uncertainties of betray a diseased imagination. The emigration—that if either enterprise philosopher who lifts his voice against would repay the danger and toil which this calamitous improvidence, and who it demands, it would undoubtedly be wishes to give their natural plenitude hazarded--and if it would not, that and endurance to the pure delights of the inevitable failure of the experiment virtuous passion, by exacting perforjust presents one shape of that misery mance of the condition upon which ain which a redundant population is lone nature has promised her indispenextinguished, and which it is the ob- sible sanction, is not the peevish and ject of every enlightened friend of hu- sullen enemy of enjoyment, but the manity to avert. The precarious re- steady and enlightened friend of husources of waste lands, and Transat- manity. lantic wilds are to be explored, not as Nor is it less absurd to represent affording an outlet to any excess of this important philosophical lesson as population which may be created, or being favourable to the progress of an invitation to the imprudence which despotism. We are taught indeed, by calls it into existence; but an ample the theory of population, that society field to enterprise and labour which, has other dangers to provide against when crowned with success, will as- than those which spring out of politisuredly find a progeny to participate cal institutions, and when we consider in the fruits. The order of nature what temptations to jealous tyranny and the voice of wisdom demanded the vehemence of indiscriminate and that the creation of that abundance, groundless complaint presents—and which can alone avert misery in all its reflect on the fatal and ignominious forms, should precede the existence of career which has been run by the the population which is to consume it. masters of modern revolution, who first
The theory of population has been discovered the source of all human misrepresented as repugnant to the evils in the existence, and their remedy best feelings, and finest impulses of in the unsparing destruction of all esa our nature-propitious to the schemes tablished institutions, we ought to hail of despotism—and insulting to the dig- the doctrine which affords a managenity of the species.
able and efficient check upon their exIs that philosophy then at variance travagant presumption, as a powerful with the dearest and noblest of the instrument, not of despotism but of passions, which would guard its virtu- liberty. The just theory of populaous gratifications from the pangs of tion, which exacts of governments the embittering remorse—the countless ills arduous duty of extending the public of hopeless and fatal poverty? The resources, and exalting the national enlightened moralist and statesman, prosperity, instead of the cheap and far from discountenancing the pure vulgar function of adding indefinitely and virtuous union of the sexes, is am. to the numbers of an unprovided, and bitious to provide for the dignity and of course, a profligate, population, stability of the endearing attachment which, instead of ministering to the to avert from the most sacred retreat crooked ambition of power, by the forof mortal felicity, the canker of care midable aid of a needy and desperate and sorrow, before which enjoyment gang, opposes to its projects the might withers away, and the ardour of pas- and the wisdom of an independent, sion slowly but surely expires. It is virtuous, and enlightened community; the fatal prerogative of human folly to which provides for the tranquillity of levy war upon the bounty of nature, the state, by ensuring the comfort of and perversely to extract from the the people, and for the perpetuity of richest blessings of Providence, the genuine freedom, by averting those elements of the bitterest calamity. frightful commotions, of which thecraft What so pure and ennobling as the of demagogues and despots has in all passion of love in its virtuous form ? - ages known so well how to profit; what so frightful and degrading in its and finally, which addresses a perpeexcesses and aberrations? Improvi- tual and impressive remonstrance to dence and its inevitable effects ex- the temerity of statesmen, who, amid treme and irremediable poverty—have the profound revolutions which their been more fatal to connubial enjoy- measures often produce, have not even ment than those comparatively rare a glance of the actual suffering which
they create, and of that futurity of genius of Goethe is equal to that of wo which they unconsciously decree; Milton or Shakspeare, it is certain that such a strain of philosophy, while it his fame in Germany is, and always enlarges and exalts the duties of rul- must be, of the same sort with theirs ers, confirms the independence, and in England. Klopstock was a majestic watches over the happiness of the gove spirit, and Wieland a happy one; but erned, cannot be the ally of despotism, the affectations with which they were nor the enemy of man.
both, although in very different ways, chargeable, prevented either of them from taking such a hold of the minds
of his countrymen as is requisite for OBSERVATIONS ON THE CRITIQUE OF him that would be a national poet,
GOETHE'S LIFE IN THE EDINBURGH much more for him that would aspire REVIEW.
to be the founder of the poetry of a
nation. Arising in a country wherein Great and merited as is the fame of education had long been universal, those mighty masters who have, in our and thought profound, and fancy acdays, revived the power and glory of the tive, and in an age wherein many poetry of England, deep as is the pos- imperfect attempts had been made tosession which they have taken of the wards establishing in that country such minds of their contemporaries, and a literature as she was entitled to poseternal as their sway must be over all Sess,-it was the fortune of Goethe to that shall ever speak their language,- acquire, while yet a boy, an ascendit is evident that the same destiny aney over the intellect and imaginawhich made them to come later, has tion of his country, such as no other made them to be less than their pre- of its writers ever had obtained ; and decessors. They are the children of he has conferred upon her literature, an illustrious race, but they are not in his maturer years, services which the peers of those who founded its must perpetuate this possession, so long splendour. One of themselves has as the language which he has fixed modestly and beautifully expressed and ennobled shall continue to be that the truth, that they are but the glean- of a cultivated and energetic nation. ers of fields,
For many centuries Europe has wit“ Where happier bards of yore had richer by literature alone, which could sus
nessed no living reputation acquired harvests found.”
tain the slightest comparison with that There are services which can only enjoyed by Goethe. A period of fifty once be rendered to the literature of years has now elapsed since he first any country, because only once can became an author; and during the they be needed ; and these are repaid whole of that long career, his fame with honours which are for ever by has been perpetually and uniformly on themselves, because the only men who the increase. With the skill which might have any hope of equalling was requisite for creating and estabthem would deem it no less than sacri- lishing the poetical language of a great lege to brook the suspicion of such but a divided nation, he has united rivalry. They are themselves the de- such a richness of thought and fancy, voutest worshippers of those whose that each of his great works has beinspiration has descended to them; come, as it were, the model of a new and they confess their own inferiority, species,-that his spirit has been all not with willingness merely, but with along the fountain from which his conpride. The excellencies which all ad- temporaries have derived not only mire are best comprehended by these their rules, but their materials. Seata kindred spirits, and excellencies which ed above competition, and fearless of others see not are revealed to them. failure, he has directed and swayed While vulgar eyes contemplate afar the minds of two generations, as if by off and dimly, it is their privilege to the charm of a magician. The reveapproach the shrine, and see the glory rence of half a century has now gain its brightness. In their intellects, thered in all its fulness around the old and in their hearts, the Majesty of the age of Goethe. The whole of his departed finds its best interpreters, and mighty nation are at one in honouring its securest throne.
their poet. His fame forms one of the Without pretending to say that the few centre points around which all
Germans rally one of the few sacred Achilleis, and Reineke Fuchs and possessions wherein they recognise the Goeta, and Faustus, were the works symbols of their brotherhood. of the same hand. Let us imagine
At the age of seventy, this man, with what delight we should ourselves possessing, indeed, no longer the im- peruse an easy and copious biography petuous fire which shone forth in of any one of our own great departed Werter, Egmont, Goetz, and Faustus, worthies,-or, if the time were come, but still indefatigable in his pursuits, with what gratitude we should read vivid in his recollections, and power- a minute story of the mode in which ful in his eloquence, began, at the re- the spirit of Scott or Byron had been quest of his friends and disciples, to shaped and fashioned, and we shall compose the history of his life. The have no difficulty in comprehending present was received by his country, the nature of that universal feeling men, not with indulgence, for of that with which the Germans received the there was no need, but with grateful- Life of Goethe.
Knowing and feeling as they It is probable that the ingenious do the greatness of his genius, it was editor of the Edinburgh Review is no wonder that they should listen himself quite ignorant of German litewithout weariness to the history of a rature, otherwise he would have taken mind from which there had sprung so care that his journal should not have many wonders. The more minute the been totally silent in regard to by far details, the more close the descrip- the greater part of all the excellent tions, it was the better for their pur- and original works which have been pose; for no details, and no descrip- published in Europe since the comtions, could be without their use, mencement of his labours. But the which might tend to record the gra- fame of Goethe is not confined to his dual developement of faculties and
own country, or to those that read its ideas to which they owed so much. language ; nor is it easy to conceive Scenes which had suggested the first upon what theory of propriety in rehints of those masterpieces which they gard to literary criticism, a person of worshipped, however trifling in them- learning and genius could proceed, selves, were to them most interesting when he permitted the life of such a scenes. The enthusiasm with which man as Goethe to be travestied in his he recalled his boyish delight in the pages by one whose youth, however chivalrous antiquities of the Rhine and young he may be, can furnish but a the Maine, excited no sentiments of sorry excuse for the empty arrogance derision in those who could appreciate and very offensive irreverence of his the services done to the spirit of Ger- production. The knowledge which many by the Goetz of Berlichingen. this unfledged Aristarchus possesses The history of his own early passion of the German language might have was read, although half sportively nar- been applied to better purposes. It rated, with other feelings than those argues some very singular malformaof merriment, by them who had so tion within, when we perceive a man often been melted by his tales of hum- converting what might be to him the ble love. The narrative of his early key of knowledge and wisdom, into studies at Leipsig was received as the the instrument of a wanton levity, best commentary on that unequalled alike disgraceful to his heart and to portrait of the wisdom, the weakness, his head. It argues, to say the least the superstition, and the infidelity of of it, a very culpable negligence on the man, which he has embodied in his part of Mr Jeffrey, that, for the sake Faustus. The incidents of his wan- of gratifying with a few paltry jokes derings in Italy and in Germany—the the ignorant and malicious dullness of memorials of the enthusiasm with some of his readers at home, he should which, in his youth, he contemplated run even the remotest risk of woundevery thing that was great and glori- ing the feelings of a good, a great, and ous in nature and in art—were pre- an old man, whose name will be revecious in the eyes of those who knew renced by the world many hundred with what unrivalled felicity he had years after all the reviewers that ever transported himself into ages and insulted his genius shall be forgotten. countries that bear no resemblance to The disgrace which the Edinburgh each other,-who remembered that Review incurred in the estimation of the Tasso, and the Iphigenia, and the all the scholars in Europe, by its attack