He had renounced the immediate literary quarrels with his numerous opponents; the weapons that were being led were too crude. All the more did he feel like attacking the incorrigible philistines with a poetic joke, which has never before had the effect had failed. In the summer of 1801 the plan of a comprehensive comedic comedy was born, in which he thought to pronounce many others what he had on his mind. The fable was borrowed from Ben Jonson’s The devil is an ass. It was the story of a stupid devil who misses, the decrepit hell that, as a result of education, has completely lost its influence, regaining the wiser world, but the test is one of shame and stupidity. He called this seal “anti-Faust”. Since he did not spare himself and his works, it could also be considered to speak freely and openly to others. And he was allowed to introduce the Aristophanes himself, because perhaps his joke had never arisen to this Aristophan power and repartee. Unfortunately, he betrayed the secret too soon. He had told some booksellers about the new poetry, but when they heard that Herder’s letters of humanity were not spared, they were startled and rejected such a dangerous article. He put aside what he had started for better times with distaste and disdain. but the happy mood which it was to accomplish did not return.
Due to the battles with Iffland and other unpleasant experiences, he was spoiled by his stay in his native city. After the rich life in Jena, she could not afford anything that would have been enough for him. The monotony of nature crushed him; he considered himself a prisoner, who was trapped in a poor diet. He longed for the poetry of mountains, streams and forests. Much more already granted Dresden. There he moved in the spring of the year 1801.
The last times had had an inhibiting effect on his poetic work. By misunderstanding and attacks [p. 286], tense, swaying between anger, contempt, and satirical humor, beset by doubts and troubled, he was only able to bring the Octavian, who was the heir of a fresher time, slowly to completion.
But he had lost all pleasure in his creations. The vivacious figures of humor began to appear cold and dull, the pleasure of poetic creativity sank, the serene and unprejudiced joy of youth had departed from him. At times it seemed to him an empty, unpleasant activity, a wicked play with life. When melancholy weighed on the soul of the boy and youth, it was the power of talent which became aware of itself, the hope of the successes of the future, which granted comfort and upheld it. Now the future had become the present; he had uttered what at that time darkened his heart, and after its formation fought mind and imagination; could he say he was happier, more at peace with himself? From time to time he was only enriched by bitter experiences that he had become poorer in good hope. To the hostility came losses, painful deaths and unhappy relationships in his family.
At the same time, mysticism had seized his soul completely. Jakob Böhme had never fulfilled him more. The study of the German philosopher led him back to the mystics of the Middle Ages, to Tauler, to the mystics of their peoples, and finally to the Fathers of the Church. With zeal he read the writings of Augustine, his confessions, his book of the Kingdom of God. Imperceptibly, these circles had widened, more and more he was pulled down into their depths.
How different was his philosophy and religion, world and life, since he had become accustomed to seeing them in this light! If many riddles seemed to be solved, other and perhaps more difficult ones came to light. The innocence with which he had entered the green, youthful life was over. What he had said about his Sternbald had also happened to him; he had lost the paradise of youth. What was he, his life in this great connection? Was not it reckless to enjoy a talent that did not fill the gap, only to cover it with its flowers? Often this talent seemed to him to be evil, sin. He believed himself to be ensnared by a dark magic that had to tear him to destruction. Before this power sank all poetry, life and everything that had otherwise appeared as beauty, happiness and love. But then the question arose again, why had he become this talent? Was not that his? Was not it part of his nature? So he turned around in the circle of doubts and questions that followed him like ghosts. He read, he studied, he sought company to escape the inner fear, that feverish excitement that alternated with dull indifference. It was free. As in youth, he wished to be able to hide in a silent monastery. He longed for the world to escape itself, for the peace of immersion in the eternal thought of God.
And at that time, new heavy losses hit him. First, he was seized by the death of Novalis, the friend he had barely found. Since the summer of 1800, Novalis was ailing. New shocks, the sudden death of a brother had profoundly attacked his wavering health. A hemorrhage ensued; his life declined more and more. On New Year’s Day, 1801, he wrote to Tieck for the last time in the feeling of incurable illness. Then he fell into an emaciating fever. On March 25, he fell asleep gently and painlessly in the arms of Friedrich Schlegel, who had come to see him again. He was twenty-eight years old.
Not quite two years had passed since Tieck and Novalis met for the first time. At once she united the most intimate friendship; they had the feeling of foreseeing themselves without words. Surprisingly, one often pronounced the other’s thoughts. It was a common root from which they grew. Many things had only come to life in Tieck in this element; he felt that Novalis was necessary to his nature. He complained that it was to him as though love had torn him to pieces in this death.
In anticipation of an early death, Novalis had designated certain papers that were to be opened by Tieck or F. Schlegel. To them alone he dared to rightly understand his thoughts. They were thus appointed executors of his literary testament, which of course could only show what the departed could have achieved by prolonging the life of German poetry. The first part of the novel Heinrich von Ofterdingen was completed. From his recollections and the conversations with the friend, Tieck tried to explain in addition how the poet intended to complete this book. These came his not numerous lyrical poems, and some scattered fragments from the “Athenaeum” and other magazines. In 1802 this estate appeared under the name to which the poet had subscribed after a country estate belonging to his family.
At Easter the same year, Tieck’s parents, father, and mother died of illness in one week. Two of her children could lead her to the grave. The daughter Sophie, who had been married to Bernhardi for two years, and Friedrich, who had just returned after several years’ absence.
Friedrich Tieck had completed his artistic apprenticeship and was on the way to becoming a master of art. The last destination of that journey, which he had undertaken as a companion to Wilhelm von Humboldt and Burgsdorff, was Paris. The great treasures of old and new times that had accumulated here made it an art school. At the beginning of 1798 he entered the Academy to undergo a course in sculpture, then painting. He worked under David’s direction for a while; yet in this institute he found zeal, art-sense, method, and even the institutions, far behind what he knew from the Berlin Academy. In the traffic with Humboldt and his family he did not lack significant stimulation. He also got to know some interesting personality. He was living in a circle with Gustav von Brinckmann, who was with the Swedish Legation, Baron Bielfeld, and Baggesen, who soon afterwards came to Paris. He also made the acquaintance of Staël.
Nevertheless, in the midst of this rich world, he had hours and days of struggle connected with similar states of his Brothers recalled. Like a higher power, he was filled with enthusiasm for his art. But it was too quiet, too peaceful a nature, for it to have been able to unfold in the stream of great political movements, in the world of restless ambition. Politics disgusted him; he felt like an opponent of the one who controlled them, Bonaparte’s. But even in himself he found no satisfaction. He wished to immerse himself completely in the study of the great masterpieces. But here he was overcome by the lack of courage, even despair. He felt overwhelmed by her size, destroyed. His studies seemed to him empty-handed and gimmicky, a useless struggle for a goal that was always moving farther into the distance. He believed he had missed his job, and felt misunderstood and alone; Homesickness often seized him with irresistible force. He longed for the spiritual exchange in which he had lived with his siblings, but rarely did he receive word from home; he thought he forgot himself. His loneliness became even more oppressive when Humboldt traveled to Spain, Burgsdorff to England. He thought of accepting the offers of Alexander von Humboldt to accompany him to America. His whole life would have got another twist. But the desire of Italy to see the antiques on the classic soil itself, the thought of his family holding him back.
Finally in 1801 he returned home. He went to Weimar and Jena, made the acquaintance of Schlegel, and made a close friendship with the older one. He became acquainted with Goethe, began to model his bust, and was bound by this and other works for a time at Weimar. Now he returned to Berlin to shut his eyes to the mother whose sweetheart he had been.died of an inflammatory breast disease, which last changed into a nervous fever.
The death of the mother had a deadly effect on the father. He was broken. He mournfully went to and fro in the room for days and nights. Silently and silently he followed the coffin, then similar signs of illness appeared in him, and soon his condition was hopeless. Eight days after the death of his wife, he too made the last breath. As a result of this twofold death, the daughter became so ill that she despaired of her life. When Tieck received the first news of her mother’s serious illness in Dresden, she had already died. Immediately thereafter followed the mourning of the death of the father.
The retirement of old Tieck had not been without suffering and worries. But satisfaction had come to him. He saw the rich talent of his children, for whose education he had worked, in full development, and he also heard his own among the famous names of the fatherland. Out of the narrow barriers of the craft, where one worked only anxiously for the present, they had stepped out into the wide circle of spiritual life, in order to exchange the small and quiet joys and sorrows with greater ones.
Under these impressions and struggles Tieck sapped the power of poetic creation. The high tide of the first ten years seemed to be the ebb tide. Admittedly, friends and some events temporarily aroused him. But most of the time it was drafts, they were attempts and attempts without conclusion, without desire, without trust.
In 1801 he saw Steffens in Dresden again. In a lively relationship between them was only now formed. Steffens lived in Tharand, and often came to visit the town of Tieck, in whose house he soon became a native. Even at the court secretary Ernst, a Saxon official who had married the sister of Schlegel, they often saw each other. Steffens’ natural-philosophical direction came to meet him. Nature and its secrets, poetry, philosophy and religion were objects of frequent hours of conversation. They met together in Jakob Böhme and the mystics. Out of these conversations arose the gruesome fairy tale “The Rune Mountain,” in which nature appears as a dark and irresistible power that destroys the free moral decree of man.
It was the reflection of Tieck’s mood at the time. In the forest, in the plant-world, a kindred breath blew, which shook it mysteriously. He thought he looked into distant, lost, giant worlds and recognized them in their memories. In himself he experienced the ancient transformations of nature, of which legend and myth told darkly; they were not something past, but a present. Nature, history, poetry flowed in one, and it looked at him with an eye of love and terror at the same time. The “Runenberg” appeared in a pocket book for the year 1802 in print.
By Steffens he had earlier become known in Giebichenstein with a young compatriot of the same name, Möller, who had also come to the south, enthusiastic for German science and literature. Educated and raised in the strictest Lutheranism, he was filled with a passionate aversion to the Catholic Church, which he derived only from books and from the Ancients . In conversations with Tieck and others, he often turned into the most violent polemic. He hardly wanted to acknowledge a Christian element in her, he thought that she was not much different to the Protestant consciousness except the myth of the Greeks. Against such one-sided attacks Tieck defended the Catholic Church from his point of view. She, too, was a form of Christianity, and no less justifiable; moreover, she was the elder. In the individual parts of the Catholic cult lay a meaning which was historically worthy of recognition. For the rest, the true nature of piety is scarcely touched by this, for at all times, as now, there have been pious and true Christians among the Catholics. The young Norwegian obstinately rejected these responses; he even claimed that only in his native country could the Lord’s Supper be received in full purity, and that he was already preparing to return.
Suddenly he fell ill. A transformation took place with him. Everything he had heard and read about the recognition of the Catholic Church came to an unexpected breakthrough. With the same exclusive zeal with which he had previously attached himself to Lutheranism, he now embraced Catholicism. Only here was the truth, only in the presence of this church peace and bliss. Soon after, he crossed over, banishing himself from his native country forever. He married an older sister-in-law Tieck’s, and pulled these over to her. His conversion zeal had awakened. Everything he had ever heard from Tieck’s mouth he now turned against him. He saw in him a weak and undecided adherent of the faith. Verbally and in writing he asked him to return to the Schoos of the true church, [p. 294] as a famous man to give a great example of conversion, which will be accompanied by the most brilliant consequences. It was only with great difficulty that Tieck resisted these suggestions. Upon the recognition of the deep meaning which rests in every true piety, whatever forms it may have, it has arrived to him. His inclination to mysticism, a vivid sense of justice, had driven him to acknowledge the old faith of the Catholic Church reviled by the enlightened. But because he did so, was he to subject his freedom to the system that preserved those treasures but managed them in an oppressive manner?
From these experiences came out in 1802 the draft of a poetry, which should represent a similar course of education. A young man meets the announcements of the miracle and the sanctity of religion, which he hears from the mouth of an old man, with mockery and doubt. Never have similar thoughts come to him. But his eyes open, the new revelation soon fills his heart. As a converted man, he returns to the old man and demands admission to the church, which he has now learned to appreciate. But now the old man opens a new understanding for him for the second time. He explains to him how he is about to seize another finite form, subject to want and error, instead of the eternal; he calls him home and keeps the found treasure inside him.
At this time Tieck also made the acquaintance of some painters who had a similar tendency; it was Hartmann, Fridrich, and Philipp Otto Runge. The last two, native of Swedish Pomerania, turned primarily towards landscape in painting, made them the bearers of mystical symbolism. Especially Runge had a peculiar mysticism of colors, in which art, philosophy of religion, and philosophy of nature became blurred. He was profound, devoutly religious, yet far from head-hanging, youthful, strong, witty and cheerful. Already earlier the “Sternbald” had made a deep impression on him; he valued himself happily, now with the poet himself…
At this time Tieck also made the acquaintance of some painters who had a similar tendency; it was Hartmann, Fridrich, and Philipp Otto Runge. The last two, native of Swedish Pomerania, turned primarily towards landscape in painting, made them the bearers of mystical symbolism. Especially Runge had a peculiar mysticism of colors, in which art, philosophy of religion, and philosophy of nature became blurred. He was profound, devoutly religious, yet far from head-hanging, youthful, strong, witty and cheerful. Already earlier the “Sternbald” had made a deep impression on him; he was fortunate that he was now friends with the poet himself, for that was how the relationship of the two soon became. Tieck admired his profundity as much as his talent, and took a lively interest in the famous symbolic engravings, the four times of the day that were just beginning to emerge. Later he said of him that he had wanted to develop the playing arabesque into a philosophical-religious expression of art.
He also met Lafontaine, whom he had made the target of his literary satire, during a short stay in Leipzig. One evening he was with Mahlmann, the bookseller and writer, who was also one of Kotzebue’s opponents. Here he met, with the exception of F. Schlegel and some other acquaintances, a man whom chance had only brought into this society, for he, with the spokesmen among those present, apparently unknown, spoke out with great impartiality to his own literary achievements. In this fat, red man No one should have supposed Lafontaine, the author of so many tormenting novels. At last he must have realized what a questionable company he had come to, for he silently departed. No sooner had he left than a flood of laughter and ranting broke out behind him, his novels, personality, and authority. Suddenly this courage was interrupted by a well-known voice, saying: “Dear Mahlmann, I can leave your house. “It was Lafontaine, who unexpectedly reappeared as the stony guest in merry company. Having found the front door closed, he had returned, and, unnoticed by the critics, had for a time silently listened to her relentless speeches. Quickly Schlegel interrupted the momentary consternation with the words: “Here you are just as in your novels, you can not find out.” And now Lafontaine found the way out of the house all the faster.
It was always a rest for Tieck, when he escaped the stark seriousness of the big stage, which he found no better in Dresden than in Berlin, and was amused by the harmlessly popular, often even silly games of the Bretertheater in the suburbs. In Dresden, the summer theater on the Linke bath, where a traveling troupe played, showed him this service. Here he saw the childishly unbearanced songplay “Das Donauweibchen”, which was one of the most popular pieces of the day in its high absurdity. He took some of these figures and tried to transform them into carriers of a fantastic fairy-tale. He also devised the plan for a dramatic adaptation of the “Magelone”, which was to step in the middle between “Octavian” and “Genoveva”, and a tragedy “Niobe” he wanted in the competition with the Schlegel, who also thought to treat this substance , write. At the same time, he had worn himself since 1797 with the idea of a novel “Alma”, in which he wanted to glorify love, as in “Sternbald” the art. Quickly, like changing pictures, these plans went through his soul.
Finally, another idea came to fruition, which he had already taken in common with A. W. Schlegel in 1800 had, the publication of a Musenalmanachs. The fact that this was really accomplished for the year 1802 was the result of Schlegel’s activity and the skillful management. Schiller’s “Musenalmanach,” which was by far the first in value, had appeared for the last time in 1800. Here also the friends had contributed some things. At the other numerous almanacs much was to be found. The way you judged them, with the high demands you made, it was impossible to join anyone.
It was therefore the desire to publish a Musenalmanachach own, to which only the best friends should contribute the best. Besides the editors Friedrich Schlegel, Schelling under the name Bonaventura, Tieck’s sister and Bernhardi made the most outstanding contributions. What might have been other than some poems by Novalis was of lesser importance. At the same time this collection became a twofold poetic sacrifice. It was not only the memory of Novalis, the divorced poet and friend, but also of Auguste Böhmer, that spirited young girl who, in his most hopeful youth in 1800, had died. Schlegel had accompanied his stepdaughter to Boclet’s bathroom to restore her health, where she found death instead of health. To commemorate it, he dedicated a series of sonnets under the name of the “dead offering”, which formed the main part of the Musenalmanach.
Through the study of the mystics, Tieck had become more familiar with the general ideas of the Middle Ages, so that the transition to Old German poetry was close to its original form. He had them from his friend Wackenroder in a sense inherited; now he took her, about 1801, on his own. It was a by-path of the poetic life he struck. In these works, his orientation towards the profound and the peculiar, the predilection for the ancient and literary erudition found its satisfaction. Soon there were attempts at translation, replication, and rewriting. The foreign poetical power occupied him while his own rested.
At first the Swabian age attracted him. In the oblivion of old prints and manuscripts, of whose existence only a few scholars had knowledge, and of which even fewer valued them, he recognized the creations of a popular poetry, which had to be pulled out of the dust, made accessible to the understanding of the present. It was important to interpret to the people the monuments of his spirit, his own language. At that time, when the supply of the most indispensable supplies was fraught with great difficulties, where one had no idea that a science could build up here, it was twice as bold and worthy of recognition. His enthusiasm was to awaken this life of long sleep. Younger forces then lit up at her. As a later, wiser criticism of these attempts may judge, Tieck’s great merit is to have paved the first inviting path through the romantic wilderness, through the green, rustling forest of the older German poetry, through which now leads many busy military roads , The first fruit of this activity was the translation of the minstrels, which he gave to the public in 1803.