Now Shakspeare became his password. From all sides, individual volumes of friends were borrowed, bought by antiquarians. The father reluctantly followed this new twist of youthful enthusiasm. He was an admirer of Goethe, but he was very mistrustful of Shakspeare. Like almost all the older generation, he saw in him a savage, semi-barbarous genius, found his tragedy raw and bloody, his jokes tasteless, the whole incomprehensible and confused. One day he met the son again engrossed in a book. He leaned over his shoulder. It was Shakspeare’s “measure of measure.” Angrily he broke into the words: “Well, that was just missing, to make you completely crazy!” Ludwig jumped up from his seat and replied quickly composed: “Allow, dear father, just like here is, I always thought, a poem must be written. That’s what I’ve been looking for a long time. “Bass replied the father:” Oh, you are and you remain a stupid boy! “
At about the same time Shakspeare was joined by two other spirits, who were to gain little importance to him, Cervantes and Holberg, the companions of his most serene hours. He immediately joined Shakspeare. Coming home from school at noon, Ludwig found Bertuch’s translation of “Don Quixote” in the living room on the window ledge. More by accident than intentionally she was borrowed from the lending library. He reached for the book without ever having heard of the title and name of the author. Again, the first view decided. Standing he began to leaf through, to read. The merriment of these strange characters, their adventures, the words of Sancho, amused him endlessly. He had never heard of those too. He could not put the book down again. In order to satisfy his reading needs immediately, he took refuge in a popular Schullist. Assuming a severe migraine, from which he would occasionally become afflicted, he declared it impossible to attend classes in the afternoon, and threw himself on his bed to follow undisturbed the knights of the ingenious Junkers of La Mancha. The father came in unexpectedly. “My son,” he said, “you did not do well. Such headaches only get worse when read. Give the book, and lie still in your bed. “With a sad look he saw the treasure ripped from his hands, and sentenced himself to bed. But the friendship with Cervantes was closed for life, and the mocking remarks of the father, which could not be understood here, as ineffectually passed by it was possible to please these follies, and shaking their heads said: “If you continue like this, you will run through life as a fool and a twisted man.”
Holberg once again owed Ludwig to a school companion in whose family he had found many selected and well-bound books. He was allowed to borrow some of these treasures, and even allowed him to browse the closets himself. In the midst of the delicate volumes he found some very evil-looking. It was the old translation of Holberg’s comedies. Here, too, he immediately felt that he had met the same spirit, and he also held fast to this friend. When asked what that wonderful book was, the schoolmate replied, “It’s a worthless Scharteke who happened to get in here. If this thing is fun for you, my brother-in-law will not only lend it to you, but also gladly give it to you. “What a treasure trove of good jokes Ludwig had not discovered here! It was not the childish joy in this, that strange and witty spirit of humor, which often made the most willful jumps, had long awakened in him, and often looked mischievously out of his speech and actions.
The genius had led him to the greatest kindred spirits of the past and present. The covenant with Goethe, Shakspeare and Cervantes was closed for life. And was not it a promising consecration of the disciple when they became his guides to the garden of poetry?
Under such suggestions and the repeated attempts to make his still unclear feelings understandable to others, he had gradually gained a certain maturity, which became more and more confident. He had outgrown the middle school circles. In the place of the whimsical Subrector Stilke and the Prorector Pleßmann, who had become the target of general school jokes by his thoughtless utterances in the taste of the Irish Bulls, other teachers, who seemed more inspiring, stepped in front of Allen Gedike himself.
It was an important passage in this still life when, in 1788, at the age of fifteen, Ludwig moved up to the highest class of the Gymnasium, the so-called Prima. Here the contemptuous address with “He” ceased; she was replaced by the more considerate “you”. Only Gedike reluctantly applied this polite form. She seemed incompatible with his dignity, and he tried to help by speaking to the person addressed as if he were a third person. You also enjoyed some other benefits. One appeared with the stick in his hand, and came into the classroom, well groomed and spurred on. Enough, the children’s shoes were undressed, and not without a high sense of self, one folded the face to male seriousness. For one had become a hopeful young man who was preparing for the deeper studies of science. There was greater freedom in all, and rarely did the teachers intervene more than was absolutely necessary.
It was important that now also the Lord Rath, that was Gedike’s official title, got to know from a milder side. Previously seen and heard only as a thunderer, he was now a teacher and leader in the innermost sanctuary. In the highest classes he taught a series of lessons in which he explained a Greek poet or historian, practiced exercises in free speech, and tried to work toward the general education of his pupils. And here he nevertheless appeared as a significant, highly stimulating personality. One felt his overwhelming power, which, in spite of all oddities, compelled even the reluctant to be recognized. His comments were sharp, decisive and accurate. What he did and said impressed himself into the smallest traits of his disciples for the lifetime. If he was at times harsh, even hard and unjust, he also had moments when he descended from the Cothurn. Like an old lion, he almost played with himself in a humorous, over-traveled manner. But nothing made a deeper impression than when emotional shocks overwhelmed the strong man unexpectedly, and broke the dam of stiffening stance against his will. He, otherwise so measured, was then soft and amiable. As he read to the students once Engel’s “Dream of Galileo,” the rising emotion overwhelmed him, his voice wavered; he could only finish the lecture with difficulty. At such moments, one got used to one’s hardships.
In these free areas, Ludwig ventured to come to light with his own thoughts and stripped off the last signs of childish immaturity. One of the most difficult tests of school life for him were the so-called German essays. Without hesitation he wrote his verses and comedies at home, they went very well from his hand; but those German treatises, which were worked out after a task of the teacher, remained for him, as for many of his comrades, for a long time an object of terror, and a rich source of spiritual torments. The requirements seemed so unaffordable, his own powers so low. He did not have the courage to surrender to the course of his mind, and in childish fear, which had something of a moral shyness, he guarded his innermost thoughts like a hidden treasure. They soon seemed too sublime, sometimes too childish, to be able to divulge them.
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In these times he took refuge in his father. The intelligent and good-natured man was also generally willing to lay aside the work in order to forge German essays with his son. In his own way, he withdrew from the trade. Most of the time he put the sentence in a letter, and in the taste of the moral weeklies, he began in a good bourgeois way with the words: “Dear friend! You have wished to know my thoughts on the disadvantages and advantages of war; I will inform you of them shortly in these lines. “This time thoughts of loneliness should be written down. In his usual way, the father started. Suddenly he interrupted himself in the middle of the sentence: “What do I know about loneliness! What thoughts should I have about it? I have always lived with people and wrong. The stupid boy writes nothing but verses and comedies and other stupid stuff, and now he does not even know anything about loneliness. Leave your stories alone, and leave me unscathed! “With that he turned around.
Ludwig remained distraught; he believed himself lost. But what did it help? Until the next morning the thoughts about loneliness are brought. With desperate bravery he put his hand to work alone. The fear unleashed his powers, he surrendered to the images of his imagination, and the stiff essay involuntarily turned into a small narrative. He described a nobleman, who goes in winter to his newly purchased estate, and lives in the frozen nature in deep seclusion. Spring awakens and gives the solitude brighter colors and serene traits, and happy in the enjoyment of a peaceful nature, that man relives summer and fall on his plaice. In these images of nature, thoughts of loneliness had come to life. Trembling, Ludwig looked at the judgment. The condemnation of his work was an inevitable fate. Finally the difficult hour appeared. His work was saved for the last; apparently, a deterrent example should be made for all the weak-minded. With increasing heart-pounding, he finally heard the words of the teacher: “I have here still a work of a very special kind.” He was prepared for the most terrible. But how surprised he was when he heard his story about all expectations good, even exemplary call. A heavy burden fell from his heart; he was justified in front of himself.
Now the childish timidity changed into playful impudence and overconfidence. With the bold assurance of success, he was ready at any moment, whatever he thought and felt to throw on the paper. His gift of imaginative conception and presentation was recognized, and soon he became the general helper in the misery, and in the thousandfold anxieties and plagues of the essays and free speeches he was to help, advise, make plans and drafts, even whole treatises and speeches , Rarely has he asked for a long time. Added to his good-naturedness was the overweening desire to mislead the teachers and to appear before them in ever new forms. In mid-minutes and free-time he was ready to write down his thoughts freshly for others, to whom even the impression of having to think at all, caused painful headache. In times of urgent need, the daily speaker learned by heart one page at a time what had just flowed from Ludwig’s pen, and then, when he stood at the decisive moment in front of Gedike’s judgment seat and solemnly addressed the assembly, had forgotten all that he did his hard head had labored with difficulty.
At times Ludwig himself played the mischievous role of chance. In a school speech, which he had also worked for a less able comrade, he had a strong anachronism incorporated. The most general applause was given. The judge declared himself satisfied; the students were asked to submit their objections. There was no talk of that anachronism. With the fullest acknowledgment of the excellent speech, Ludwig permitted himself to say modestly. Gedike reluctantly rejected him. “I also noticed the anachronism, but with such achievements one does not depend on trifles. Tieck may first give such a speech, then he can criticize it so! “With silent irony, Ludwig admitted that he could not, of course, make such a speech.
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Such utterances and many a bold judgment, which he allowed himself over the objects of the lesson, when, for. As the Virgil for a mannerist explained brought him over time in the reputation of a stubborn nerd who has a craving to thwart the teacher and by to mislead whimsical opinions. In many cases vanity was considered to have been an unconscious manifestation of the very nature that one could not grasp. By playing he had acquired the mass of material knowledge which had to be taught to the less able according to a logical course. He bored and annoyed him. He was annoyed to see how the great majority of his schoolmates reiterated the teacher’s words until they thought they understood their meaning. Even more annoying were the gifted men, who concealed with confidence their own convictions in order to favor them by accepting the doctrines in a believing way. That seemed silly to him, that contemptible. In no way, however, could he comfort himself to the traditional procedure. He considered it external, mindless, even tyrannical. Life and education can not be communicated according to a general ground plan; they only emerge from the innermost nature of the individual. In oneself man must experience things, experience in themselves their essence and their influence, and make them their own property. Only what one has experienced internally, one learns and knows in truth; this alone stands firmly for all times and leads to the right education. Empty recitation can only give a hypocritical, false education that kills the spirit as it pretends to awaken it.
These and similar thoughts developed in him to an ever clearer conviction. Of course, this was soon considered heretical, and had to be twice as offensive to a school wisdom, which in its enlightening pride meant to have discovered the secret of education, and to compel it by infallible means.
But he had a sharpness for the weaknesses of the teachers res eye as his classmates. He quickly grabbed her and in cheeky humor he played with them. Already the Lord Rath was no more power over all doubts. Gedike’s cocked dignity, his stiff earnestness, which seemed to sneer at the small human weaknesses, made a strange impression on him. He was no longer in agreement with his poetic taste and aesthetic judgments. He was at school as well as with his father’s views. Often the truly poetically felt and uttered was usually scolded to declare what was in fact commonplace for poetry. In reading the Greek tragedians, he did not want to let his grandeur and grandeur shine through the general assurances and praises of the noble simplicity of the ancients, and still less from the dry manner in which they were treated. He always spoke of it in an unconscious tone, and yet one did not know how to visualize what it really was. For one did not want to acknowledge, or did not seem to appreciate, enough of the beautiful features that really gripped him deeply.
In this sense he once stood up as a defender of Aeschylus against Gedike’s aesthetic criticism. One read the “bound Prometheus”. The monologue was discussed, in which the captive Titan calls the sacred ether, the winds and streams, and the restless laughter of the sea waves to witness his suffering. Gedike concluded the explanation by saying that this invocation of the laughing sea was leaky, indeed tasteless. On the contrary, Ludwig wanted to find in it a poetic, profound view of nature of a great spirit, and at the same time pointed to the sensual, vivid painting lying in this verse. But Gedike interrupted him with the words: “Our Tieck wants to know everything better, even than the learned commentators. He always has to have some apartes! ”
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Deeper, to the point of the most grievous hurt, Ludwig felt other misunderstandings, which he could no more comprehend than he had expressed in the strongest conviction of his innermost thoughts.
One of the most popular teachers was the Conrector White. The simple, natural tone which he struck, the informal friendliness with which he responded to the pupils’ thoughts and opened their hearts, had a beneficial and winning effect on them, while Gedike’s imperious austerity rejected them to their limits. Originally a theologian, he was a staunch supporter of the Enlightenment, and because of his rationalism in some of his colleagues, even Gedike himself, not in the best reputation. Once, in the German hours, he had given up on the death of Socrates. Ludwig had solved the task in a poetically performing manner, and at the same time used it for a glorification of the Greek heroic myths. In the childish and imaginative belief in a high and mighty heroic family, which, though born and suffering humanely, is still able to enter the world of the gods, the mediation between God and man seemed to him to be indicated in a poetic figurative sense. Greek popular belief had profoundly anticipated the necessity of such a mediation, while the sober intellect regarded this gap as unfathomable. Louis had put similar views in the mouth of his dying Socrates, and let him confess to that popular belief.
Weisser was about maturity and education, which spoke from this essay, not a little astonished. He recognized the prospective poet in it and believed that he would have to communicate it to Gedike. However, he did not mean to praise her, and, perhaps because of that recommendation, strangely find traces of atheism in it. Soon afterwards it happened that in a lesson in which Gedike read Plutarch with the pupils, Ludwig was asked to explain the text, and in the process was quite poor. The conclusion of the hour finally freed him from the embarrassing situation, and Gedike ended his insistent sermon with the words: “Well, he who does not believe in God need not prepare himself for Plutarch!” This accusation, made on this occasion, worked on Ludwig crushing. He felt his deepest conviction unrecognized in the most unjust manner, and the sharp mockery associated with it hurt him to the point of outrage. He burst into violent weeping. The classmates spoke to him sympathetically without understanding his passionate movement. Finally he said: “You do not understand me! The personal hurt that has befallen me, I could get over; but that such a brutality was possible, I did not believe. ”
However appreciation, misunderstanding, success, and offense might be intermingled, in the end all, even the most unfavorable, voices had to unite, that even though Ludwig might be difficult to lead, there is still a rare, selfish talent in front of him which seeks its way, and seems to promise great things for the future. Certainly, if any one deserved the name of a hopeful young man, whom otherwise with a certain emphasis one would normally only give to so-called well-bred disciples, it was the fifteen-year-old Ludwig Tieck.