A Study Of Beethoven
( Originally Published 1920 )
BY ARTHUR SYMONS.
THE foundation of Beethoven's art is, as Wagner pointed out, a great innocence. 1t is the unconscious innocence of the child and the instructed innocence of the saint. Beethoven is the most childlike of musicians, and of all artists it is most natural to the musician to be Childlike. There is, in every artist, a return toward childhood; he must be led by the hand through the streets of the world, in which he wanders open-eyed and with heed-less feet. Pious hands must rock him to sleep, comfort his tears, and labor with him in his playtime. He will speak the wisdom of the child, unconsciously, without translating it into the formal language of experience.
Beethoven's naivete can be distinguished at every moment in his music; in his simplicities, trivialities, in his ready acceptance of things as they are, and, again, in his gravities and what may seem like over emphasis. It does not occur to him that you will not take things as simply as he does. His music is "nature, heard through a temperament," and he hears the voices of nature with almost the credulity with which he hears the often deceiving voices of men.
Modern musicians are on their guard, even against nature. Wagner is never without the consciousness of so many things which his critical intelligence whispers to him that he must refrain from. 'What modern painter was it who said that "nature puts him out"? Wagner takes elaborate precautions against being put out by nature, and, after that, against allowing any one to suppose that nature has put him out. But Beethoven surrenders. It is unthinkable to him that a sound could deceive him.
It is usual to compare Beethoven with Shakespeare; but is he, in any sense, a dramatist? Is he not rather, if we are to speak in terms of literature, an epic poet, nearer to Homer and to Milton than to Shakespeare? When Beethoven becomes tremendous, it is the sublime, not in action, but in being; his playfulness is a nobler "Comus," a pastoral more deeply related to the innocence and ecstasy of nature. He has the heroic note of Homer, or of Milton's Satan, or of Dante, whom in some ways he most resembles; but I distinguish no Lear, no Hamlet, no Othello. Nor is his comedy Shakespearean, a playing with the pleasant humor of life on its surface; it is the gayety which cries in the bird, rustles in leaves, shines in spray; it is a voice as immediate as sunlight. Some new epithet must be invented for this music which narrates nothing, yet is epic; sings no articulate message, yet is lyric; moves to no distinguishable action, yet is already awake in the void waters, out of which a world is to awaken.
Music, as Schopenhauer has made clear to us, is not a representation of the world, but an immediate voice of the world. The musician, he tells us, "reveals the innermost essential being of the world, and expresses the highest wisdom in a language his reason does not under-stand." "We may take the perceptible world, or nature, and music, as two different expressions of the same thing." "Accordingly, we might call the world 'embodied music,' " music differing from all other arts in this, "that it is not an image of phenomena," but rep-resents "the thing itself which lies behind all appearances." In the language of the Schoolmen, "concepts are universalia post rem, actuality universalia in. re, whereas music gives universalia ante rem."
It is thus that the musician joins hands with the child and the saint, if, as we may believe, the child still remembers something of that imperial palace whence he came, and the saint lives always in such a house not made with hands. The musician, through what is active in his art, creates over again, translates for us, that whole essential part of things which is ended when we speak, and deformed when we begin laboring to make it visible in marble, or on canvas, or through any of the actual particles of the earth. All Beethoven's waking life was a kind of somnambulism, more literally so than that of any other man of genius; and not only when deafness dropped a soft enveloping veil between him and discords. "Must not his intercourse with the world," says Wagner, in his book on Beethoven, "resemble the condition of one who, awakening from deepest sleep, in vain endeavors to recall his blissful dream ?" To Shakespeare, to Michelangelo, who are concerned with the phenomena of the world as well as with "the thing itself which lies behind all appearances," something is gained, some direct aid for art, by a continual awakening out of that trance in which they speak with nature. Beethoven alone, the musician, gains nothing : he is concerned only with one world, the inner world; and it is well for him if he never awakens.
Why is it that music is not limited in regard to length, as a poem is, a lyrical poem, to which music is most akin? 1s it not because the ecstasy of music can be maintained indefinitely and at its highest pitch, while the ecstasy of verse is shortened by what is definite in words? There are poems of Swinburne which attempt to compete with music on its own ground, "Tristram of Lyonesse," for example; and they tire the ear which the music of Wagner's "Tristan" keeps passionately alert for a whole evening. This is because we ask of words some more definite appeal to the mind than we ask of music, and an unsubstantial ecstasy wearies us like the hollow voice of a ghost, which we doubt while we hear it. Music comes speaking the highest wisdom in a language which our reason does not understand; because it is older and deeper and closer to us than our reason. Music Can prolong, reiterate, and delicately vary the ecstasy itself : and its voice is all the while speaking to us out of our own hearts. To listen to music is a remembrance, and it is only of memory that men never grow weary.
Music, says Wagner profoundly, "blots out our entire civilization as sunshine does lamplight." It is the only art which renders us completely unconscious of everything else but the ecstasy at the root of life; it is the only art which we can absorb with closed eyes, like an articulate perfume; it is the only divine drunkenness, the only Dionysiac art. Beethoven's Tenth Symphony was to have been a direct hymn to Dionysus. "In the Adagio," he noted in his sketchbook, "the text of a Greek myth, cantique ecclesiastique, in the Allegro feast of Bacchus." It was to do what Goethe had tried to do in the Second Part of "Faust": reconcile the Pagan with the Christian world. But it was to do more than that, and would it not have taken us deeper even than the Hymn to Joy of the Ninth Symphony: to that immeasurable depth out of which the cry of suffering is a hymn of victory?
Music, then, being this voice of things in themselves, and the only magic against the present, it will be useless to search into Beethoven's life, and to ask of his music some correspondence between its color and humor and the color and humor of events. Let us take an instance. In the year 1802, Beethoven wrote that tragic confession known as the Testament of Heiligenstadt. The whole agony of his deafness has come upon him. "I must live," he says, "like an exile. . . . Such things brought me to the verge of desperation, and well-nigh caused me to put an end to my life...' I joyfully hasten to meet death. If he comes before I have had the opportunity of developing all my artistic powers, then, notwithstanding my cruel fate, he will come too early for me, and I should wish for him at a more distant period; but even then I shall be content, for his advent will release me from a state of endless suffering." And, on the outside of the sealed packet, to be opened only at his death, he writes: "Oh, Providence, vouchsafe me one day of pure felicity!" Now it was at this period that Beethoven wrote the Second Symphony. I turn to Berlioz's analysis of it in his "Etude critique des Symphonies de Beethoven," and I read: "Le scherzo est aussi franchement gai dans sa capricieuse fantaisie, que l'andante a etc completement heureux et calme; car tout eat riant clans cette symphonie, les clans guerriers du premier allegro sont eux-memes tout a fait exempts de violence; on n'y saurait voir que l'ardeur juvenile d'un noble cur clans lequel se sont conservees intaetes les plus belles illusions de la vie."
"Les plus belles illusions de la vie !" "The fond hope I brought with me here," writes Beethoven at Heiligenstadt, "of being to a certain degree cured, now utterly forsakes me, As the autumn leaves fall and wither, so are my hopes blighted."
Twice in Beethoven's life there is an interruption in his unceasing labor at his work. The first time is during the three years from 1808 to 1811, when he was in love with Therese Malfatti; the second time is from 1815 to 1818, after his brother's death. During these two periods he wrote little of importance; personal emotion gripped him, and he could not loosen the grasp. During all the rest of his agitated and tormented life, nothing, neither the constant series of passionate and brief loves, nor constant bodily sickness, trouble about money, trouble about friends, relations, and the unspeakable nephew, meant anything vital to his deeper self. The nephew helped to kill him, but could not color a note of his music. Not "his view of the world," but the world itself spoke through those sounds which could never shrink to the point at which these earthly discords were audible. Music is a refuge, and can speak with the same voice to the man who is suffering as to the man who is happy, and through him, with the same voice, when he is suffering or when he is happy. It is here that music is so different from literature, for instance, where the words mean things, and bring back emotions too clearly and in too personal a way. The musician is, after all, the one impersonal artist, who, having lived through joy and sorrow, has both in his hands; can use them like the right hand and the left.
And just as the musician can do without life, can be uncontaminated by life, so, in his relations with other arts, with the mechanism of words and the conditions of writing for the stage and such like, . he will have his own touchstone, his own standard of values. During a great part of his life Beethoven was looking out for a libretto on which he could write an opera. His one opera, "Fidelio," is written on a miserable libretto; but the subject, with its heroisms, was what he wanted, and he was probably little conscious of the form in which it was expressed; for with him the words meant nothing, but the nature of the emotion which these words expressed was everything. When he said, speaking as some have thought slightingly of Mozart, that he would never have written a "Don Giovanni" or a "Figaro," he merely meant that the very nature of such subjects was antipathetic to him, and that he could never have induced himself to take them seriously. Mozart, with his divine nonchalance, snatched at any earthly happiness, any gayety of the flesh or spirit, and changed it instantly into the immortal substance of his music. But Beethoven, with his peasant's seriousness, could not jest with virtue or the rhythmical order of the world. His art was his religion, and must be served with a devotion in which there was none of the easy pleasantness of the world.
And it was for this reason that he could find his own pasture in bad poets, like Klopstock, whom he carried about with him for years, like a Bible. Goethe, he admits later, had spoiled Klopstock for him. But still Klopstock was always "maestoso, D flat major"; he "exalted the mind." He brooded over Sturm's devotional work, "Considerations on the Works of God in Nature," because he found in it his own deep, strenuously unlimited, love of God. It was the fundamental idea that he cared for, always; and, for the most part, this drew him to the greatest writers : to Homer and Shakespeare for heroic poetry, to Plutarch for the lives of heroes. And he was incapable of unbending, of finding pleasure in work which seemed to come from a less noble impulse. During his last illness one of Scott's novels was brought to him, that he might read something which would not fatigue him too much. But after a few pages he tossed the book aside: "The man seems to be writing for money," he said.
There stood on Beethoven's writing-table, during most of his life, a sheet of paper, framed and under glass, on which he had written carefully three maxims, found by Champollion-Figeac among the inscriptions of an Egyptian temple: "Je suis ce qui est.-Je suis tout ce qui est, ce qui a ete, ce qui sera; nulle main mortelle n'a souleve mon voile.-Il est par lui-meme, et c'est a lui que tout doit son existence."
When I said that Beethoven had the innocence of the saint as well as that of the child, I was thinking partly of that passionate love of nature which, in him, was like an instinct which becomes a religion. He wrote to Therese : "No man on earth can love the country as I do. It is trees, woods, and rocks that return to us the echo of our thought." He rushed into the open air, as into a home, out of one miserable lodging after another, in which the roofs and walls seemed to hedge him round. Kiober the painter tells us how, when he was in the country, he "would stand still, as if listening, with a piece of music-paper in his hand, look up and down, and then write something." He liked to lie on his back, staring into the sky; in the fields he could give way to the intoxication of his delight; there, nothing came between him and the sun; which, said Turner, is God.
The animal cry of desire is not in Beethoven's music. Its Bacchic leapings, when mirth abandons itself to the last ecstasy, have in them a sense of religious abandonment which belongs wholly to the Greeks, to whom this abandonment 'brought no suggestion of sin. With Christianity, the primitive orgy, the unloosing of the instincts, be-comes sinful; and in the music of Wagner's Venusberg we hear the cry of nature turned evil. Pain, division of soul, reluctance, come into this once wholly innocent delight in the drunkenness of the senses; and a new music, all lascivious fever and tormented and unwilling joy, arises to be its voice. But to Beethoven nature was still healthy, and joy had not begun to be a subtle form of pain. His joy sometimes seems to us to lack poignancy, but that is because the gods, for him, have never gone into exile, and the wine-god is not "a Bacchus who has been in hell." Yet there is passion in his music, a passion so profound that it becomes universal. He loves love, rather than any of the images of love. He loves nature with the same, or with a more constant, passion. He loves God, whom he cannot name, whom he worships in no church built with hands, with an equal rapture. Virtue appears to him with the same loveliness as beauty. And out of all these adorations he has created for himself a great and abiding joy. The breadth of the rhythm of his joy extends beyond mortal joy and mortal sorrow. There are times when he despairs for himself, never for the world. Law, order, a faultless celestial music, alone existed for him; and these he believed to have been settled, before time was, in the heavens. Thus his music was neither revolt nor melancholy, each an atheism.; the one being an arraignment of God and the other a denial of God.
Beethoven invented no new form; he expanded form to the measure of his intentions, making it contain what he wanted. Sometimes it broke in the expansion, yet without setting him on the search for some new form which would be indefinitely elastic. The "Missa Solennis," for instance, grew beyond the proportions of a mass, and was finished with no thought of a service of the church; the music went its own way, and turned into a vast shapeless oratorio, an anomaly of the concert-room. "Fidelio" is an opera which has not even the formal merits of the best operas produced on the Italian method; it lives a separate life in divine fragments, and is wholly expressive only in the two great overtures, of which only the second is, properly speaking, dramatic, while the third transcends and escapes drama. In the second overture, music speaks, in these profound and sombre voices, as in a drama in which powers and destinies contend in the air. The trumpet-call behind the scenes attaches it, by a deliberate externality, to the stage. But in the third overture, where music surges up out of some hell which is heaven, that it may make a new earth, there is hardly anything that we can limit or identify as drama; not even the trumpet-call behind the scenes, which has become wholly a part of the musical texture, and no longer calls off the mind from that deeper sense of things.
Yet, if we follow Beethoven through any series of his works, through the sonatas, for instance, or the symphonies, we shall see a steady development, almost wholly unexperimental, and for that all the more significant. Each of the symphonies develops out of the last, each is a step forward; not that each is literally greater than the last, but has something new in it, an acquirement in art, or a growth in personality. That this should be so is the only excuse for an artist's production; only secondary men repeat themselves; the great artist is incapable of turning back. As he goes forward, the public, naturally, which has come to accept him at a given moment of his progress, remains stationary; and when the public is not wholly dominated by a great name, so that it dares not rebel enough to choose after its own liking, there comes a time when the public ceases to comprehend, and begins to prefer, that is, to condemn.
The public of Beethoven's day, like the public for which and against which every great artist has worked, forgot that its only duty is to receive blindly whatever a great artist, once recognized as such, has to give it; that its one virtue is gratitude, and its cardinal sin, an attempt at discrimination. Beethoven had not to wait for fame; his earliest compositions were admired, his first publication was well paid. "Publishers dispute one with another," he wrote early in life: "I fix my own price." Yet, at the same time, he was never, up to the very end of his career, taken entirely at his own valuation, and allowed to do what he liked in whatever way he liked. In 1816 the Philharmonic Society sent one of its members to ask for a new symphony, and to offer £100 for it. Beethoven, who had already written his Eighth Symphony, was about to accept the offer, whet. it was intimated to him that the new work must be in the style of his earlier symphonies. He refused with indignation, and London lost the honor of having "ordered" the Ninth Symphony. Ten years earlier he had begged for the post of composer to the Vienna opera, engaging to compose an opera and an opera-comique or ballet every year, in return for a very moderate salary. The letter of request was not even answered. Before that, "Fidelio" had failed, and the critics had assured one another that "the music was greatly inferior to the expectations of amateurs and connoisseurs." In other words, Beethoven, recognized from the first as a great artist, was never accepted in the only way in which public appreciation can be other than an insult: he was never wholly "hors contours." Just before his death, one of his intimate friends took it upon him to say that he preferred a certain one of the last quartettes to the others. "Each," said Beethoven, once and for all, "has its merit in its own way."
Wagner has pointed out that it was bodily motion which first gave its beat to music; that is to say, that the articulate life of music comes from what is most instinctive in life itself. All instrumental music has its origin in the dance, and in the symphonies of Haydn we have little more than a succession of dances with variations. And Beethoven, in one movement, the Minuet or Scherzo, gives us, as Wagner says, "a piece of real dance-music, which could very well be danced to. An instinctive need seems to have led the Composer into quite immediate contact with the material basis of his work for once in its course, as though his foot were feeling for the ground that was to carry him."
Is it not here, in this solid and unshakable acceptance of what is simplest, most fundamental, in life itself and in the life of music, that Beethoven comes into deepest contact with humanity, and lays his musical foundations for eternity? And he is himself, first of all, and before he begins to write music, a part of nature, instinctive. In Beethoven the peasant and the man of genius are in continual, fruitful conflict. A bodily vigor, as if rooted in the earth, is hourly shattered and built up again by the nerves in action and recoil. And, in the music itself, quite literally, and almost at its greatest, one hears this elemental peasant; as in the Allegro con brio of the Seventh Symphony, with its shattering humor. It is a big, frank, gross, great thing, wallowing in its mirth like a young Hercules. Often, as in the last movement of the Trio (Op. 97), he disconcerts you by his simplicity, his buoyant and almost empty gayety. It is difficult to realize that a great man can be so homely and such a child. No one else accepts nature any longer on such confiding terms. And he has but just awakened out of an Andante in which music has been honey to the tongue and an ecstatic peace to the soul.
This simplicity, this naive return to origins, to the dance-tune, to a rhythm which can swing from the village band in the Scherzo of the Pastoral Symphony to the vast elemental surge of the Allegro of the Choral Symphony (as of the morning stars singing together), leads, now and then, to what has been taken for something quite different from what it is: an apparent aim at realism, which is no more than apparent. In the whole of the Pastoral Symphony one certainly gets an atmosphere which is the musical equivalent of skies and air and country idleness and the delight of sunlight, not because a bird cries here and there, and a storm mutters obviously among the double basses, but because a feeling, constantly at the roots of his being, and present in some form in almost all his music, came for once to be concentrated a little deliberately, as if in a dedication, by way of gratitude. All through there is humor, and the realism is a form of it, the bird's notes on the instruments, the thunder and wind and the flowing of water, as certainly as the village band. Here, as everywhere, it was, as he said, "expression of feeling rather than painting" that he aimed at ; and it would be curious if these humorous asides, done with childish good-humor, should have helped to lead the way to much serious modern music, in which natural sounds, and all the accidents of actual noise, have been solemnly and conscientiously imitated for their own sakes.
Is Beethoven's act in calling in the help of words and voices at the end of the Ninth Symphony necessarily to be taken as leading the way to Wagner, as Wagner held, and as at first sight seems unquestionable? Is it Beethoven's confession that there comes a moment when music can say no more, and words must step in to carry on the meaning of the sounds? If so, does not the whole theory of music being the voice of nature itself, an art which has arisen "from the immediate consciousness of the identity of our inner being with that of the outer world," as Wagner calls it, fall to the ground? It seems to me that in adding voices to the instruments, Beethoven did no more than add another exquisitely expressive instrument to the orchestra; in adding that instrument he added words also, because words sup-port the voice, as the shoulder supports the violin. But I contend that the words of Schiller's "Hymn to Joy" might be replaced by meaningless vowels and consonants, and that the effect of the Choral Symphony would be identically the same. Beethoven's inspiration consisted in seeing that the effect of exultation at which he was aiming could best be rendered by a chorus of voices, voices considered as instruments; he was increasing his orchestra, that was all.
Wagner, it is true, realized this; but, having realized it, he goes on to conceive of a Shakespeare entering the world of light simultaneously with a Beethoven entering the world of sound, and a new, finer art arising out of that mingling. Here, of course, he becomes the apologist of his own music-drama; and it is in its claim to have done just this that it demands consideration. Has Wagner, in subordinating his music, if not to the words, at all events to the action, expressed partly by the words, really carried music further, or has he added another firmer link to the chain which holds music to the earth? Music-drama, since Wagner has existed, there will always be; but may there not be also a music more and more "absolute," of which voices may indeed form part, but voices without words, adding an incomparable instrument to the orchestra? Why need music, if it is the voice of something deeper than action, care to concern itself with drama, which is the ripple on the surface of a great depth ? As it dispenses with the stage, or the conscious exercise of the eyes, so it will dispense with words, or the conscious exercise of the mind through the hearing, and, in an equal degree, with the intrusive reasonings of a programme, at the best but misleading foot-notes to a misinterpreted text.
In the later works of Beethoven we see his attempt to express him-self within a fixed form, and yet without losing anything of what he wanted to say, through the pressure of those limits. "From the time," says Wagner, "when, in accord with the moving sorrows of his life, there awoke in the artist a longing for distinct expression of specific, characteristically individual emotions,-as though to unbosom himself to the intelligent sympathy of fellow-men,-and this longing grew into an ever more compulsive force; from that time when he began to care less and less about merely making music, about expressing himself agreeably, enthrallingly, or inspiritingly in general, within that music; and, instead thereof, was driven by the general necessity of his inner being to employ his art in bringing to sure and seizable expression a definite content that absorbed his thoughts and feelings," then, says Wagner, begins his agony.
And this agony is the effort, not so much to say in music things really or merely individual, but to force music to tell some of its own secrets, still secrets to Beethoven. The deepest poetry and the deepest philosophy in words have been for the most part questions to which no answer has been offered; like the soliloquies of Hamlet and the thirty-eighth chapter of Job. When Beethoven is greatest his music speaks in a voice which suggests no words, and is the out-pouring of a heart or soul too full for speech, and says speechless things. And at last Beethoven cares only for the saying of these speechless things, and because he cares supremely for this he refines his form, through which alone they can be spoken, with a more and more jealous care, fastening upon the roots of sound.
In Beethoven's later work, and especially in the last quartettes, he seems actually to rarefy sound itself. What is this new subtlety and poignancy which comes into the notes themselves, as they obey a master who has proceeded by one exclusion after another, until he has refined sound to its last shade, or sharpened it to its ultimate point? Already, in the Quartette in C major (Op. 59), in which a form is filled without excess and without default, a new color comes into the harmonies, as they reach after an unlimited strength, seeking to avoid all merely formal or limiting sweetness. They have passed through fire, and come out changed, a new body which has found a new soul. Here there is drama, an ominous and mysterious drama, in which the instruments are the persons : tragic cries surge up and are quieted; one hears the deathdrum beating, perhaps only in their veins. The discord has found its place, liberating harmony, and, in the final fugue, one sees the strictest of forms set dancing and hurrying, with a meaning not only in the notes, but in some not easily followed process of thinking in music, with an actual intellectual ecstasy.
In the last quartettes form is so completely mastered that form, as limit, disappears, and something new, strange, incalculable, arises and exists. The purity of its harmony is so acute that it is at once joy and pain, harmony and discord. Beauty, brought to this intensity, at moments goes mad with delight. There is a gay, mysterious, entangling gravity, a kind of crabbed sweetness, in which sweetness becomes savour. At times, as in the Allegro of the Quartette in B flat major (Op. 130), sound passes into a fluttering of wings, as Psyche, the butterfly, soars at last into sunlight. The music began with elfin laughter, turned serious, and meditated with fine subtlety, and then, in the frank and childish return "alla danza tedesca," seemed to go back to the first things of the earth, as to one's roots for new sap. And then, in that Cavatina which Beethoven wrote weeping, one overhears a noble and not despairing sorrow, which can weep but not whimper; an imploring, sadly questioning, unresentful lament; the most reticent sorrow ever rendered in music. To have written this movement is as great a thing as to have built a cathedral, in which, not more truly, the soul shelters from its grief.
When I hear the Quartette in F major (Op. 135), it seems to me that music has done nothing since, that it contains the germ, and more than the germ, of all modern music. It was such things, no doubt, as the Walkyries' Ride of the second movement, the Vivace, which seemed unintelligible, insane, to the people who first heard them, even after hearing all the symphonies. With the first notes of the first movement we are in the heart of music, as if one awoke on board a ship, and was on the open sea, beyond sight of land. Here, and to the end, every note has its separate meaning, its individual life, and is more than the mere part of a whole. There is so much music which, because it is leading to something, does not stay by the way, conscious of itself, perfect as an end, though it is also perfect as the means to an end. In the Lento, Beethoven prays; there is in it a peace so profound and yet acute that it is almost sad; yet it is neither joy nor sorrow, but a hymn to God out of sorrow, itself faith, resignation, and a sure and certain hope of the "rest that remaineth."
Even Beethoven never made a more beautiful melody, nor was there ever in music a landscape of the soul so illuminated with all the soft splendor of sunlight. The Grave leading to the Allegro, with the words, "Muss es sein? Es muss sein" (the "painfully made resolve"), seems willing, for once, in a kind of despair or distrust even of music, to fix a more precise meaning upon sounds. It is no more, really, than the irrelevant, touching, unneeded outcry of the artist, afraid that you may be overlooking something which he sees or hears, no doubt, so much more clearly than you, and which he cannot bear to think that you may be overlooking.
In spite of Holbein, Durer, and Cranach, in spite of the builders in stone and the workers in iron, the German genius has never found its complete expression in any of the plastic arts. Germany has had both poets and philosophers, who have done great things; but it has done nothing supreme except in music, and in music nothing supreme has been done outside Germany since the music of Purcell in England.
Durer created a very German kind of beauty; philosophers, from Kant to Nietzsche, have created system after system of philosophy, each building on a foundation made out of the ruins of the last. Goethe gave wisdom to the world by way of Germany. But Goethe, excellent in all things, was supreme in none; and German beauty is not universal beauty. In Beethoven, music becomes a universal language, and it does so without ceasing to speak German. Beethoven's music is national, as Dante's or Shakespeare's poetry is national; and it is only since Beethoven appeared in Germany that Germany can be compared with the Italy which produced Dante and the England which produced Shakespeare. On the whole, Germans have not been ungrateful. But they have had their own ways of expressing gratitude.
A German sculptor has represented Beethoven as a large, naked gentleman, sitting in an emblematical arm-chair with a shawl decently thrown across his knees. In this admired production all the evil tendencies, gross ambitions, and ineffectual energies of modern German art seem to have concentrated themselves. It is to be regretted that Beethoven, rather than any more showy person, Goethe, for instance, with his "Olympian" air, or Schiller, with his consumptive romanticism, should have been made the conspicuous victim of this worst form of the impotence of the moment. There is a sentence spoken by Emilia in that novel of George Meredith which no longer bears her more attractive name, through which we may see Beethoven as he was : "I have seen his picture in shop-windows : the wind seemed in his hair, and he seemed to hear with his eyes: his forehead frowning so." To look from this visible image in words to the construction in stone of Max Klinger, is to blot out vision with the dust of the quarry. During his lifetime Beethoven suffered many things from his countrymen, and now that he is dead they cannot let him alone in the grave; but must first come fumbling with heavy fingers at his skull (we are told its weight), and then setting up these dishonoring monuments in his honor.