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SCHILLER, JOHANN CHRISTOPH FRIEDRICH, a German dramatist, lyric poet, and prose writer, born at Marbach, in the duchy of Würtemberg, November 10, 1759; died at Weimar, May 9, 1805. His father, who had been a surgeon in the Bavarian army, entered the service of the Duke of Würtemberg, where he attained the rank of captain. When military service was no longer required, the Duke retained him to lay out pleasuregrounds in his various estates. At the age of fourteen the son was admitted to a free seminary which the Duke had established mainly for the training of the sons of military officers. The wishes of his father, and his own desire, had been directed toward the pulpit; but this could not be carried out in the seminary. The medical profession was adopted, and at the age of twenty-one Schiller became a surgeon in the army. The six years which he passed in the school were not happy ones; the routine of life and study was rigid and formal. Poetry was looked upon with special disfavor; and Schiller had written some verse. His drama, The Robbers, had been commenced at the age of nineteen, and was published in 1781. The Duke was highly scandalized at this drama, which, in his view, advocated brigandage and all sorts of lawlessness. He ordered Schiller to confine himself to his professional duties, and,
above all things, to write no more poetry. The Robbers was put upon the stage at Mannheim in 1782; Schiller went secretly to witness the first representation ; was found out, and placed under arrest. He resolved to break away from his uncongenial position; and, taking advantage of some holiday, he left Stuttgart by stealth. He went away, he says, “ empty in purse and hope.” For a while he lived in Franconia, under an assumed name, his friend Dalberg, the manager of the theatre at Mannheim, supplying him with money to meet his immediate necessities; he then found a refuge with Madame von Wolzogen, the mother of two of his former school-mates. Here he wrote two dramas, The Conspiracy of Fiesco and Cabal and Love. With the production of these two dramas the apprenticeship of Schiller may be said to have ended, and his career as a man of letters to have commenced. Henceforward his life is to be found in his works.
In the autumn of 1783 he was invited by Dalberg to come to Mannheim, as poet to the theatre, with a salary sufficient to give him a comfortable maintenance. The Duke of Würtemberg made some threats against his refractory subject; but there was little to fear, since Mannheim was in the Palatinate, and Schiller was now naturalized as a subject of the Elector Palatine. While at Mannheim he produced his translation of Shakespeare's Macbeth, and several other works, and began the composition of Don Carlos, which was not, however, completed until 1786. After eighteen months at Mannheim he took up his resi.
dence for a time at Dresden. In 1788 appeared the first, and, as it happened, the only volume ever written of his Revolt of the United Netherlands, bringing the history down to the entrance of the Duke of Alva into Brussels, in 1567. This work, joined to the urgent recommendation of Goethe, procured for Schiller the appointment of Professor of History at the University of Jena, whither he removed in 1789, and where he remained for about ten years. During this period he wrote his principal prose work, the History of the Thirty Years' War. To this period also belong most of his lyrics and ballads, and several of his dramas, including the trilogy, Wallenstein's Camp, The Piccolomini, and the Death of Wallenstein. The mountain-air of Jena proved threatening to his weakly lungs, and in 1799 he removed to Weimar, where the six remaining years of his life were mainly passed. Notwithstanding frequent illnesses, these were his most productive years; and at their close his powers gave no token of abatement; Wilhelm Tell—the last, and by many held to be the best of his tragedies-was produced in the last year of his life.
Besides his dramas, ballads, lyrics, and historical works, the minor writings of Schiller are nu
His principal dramas are The Robbers, The Conspiracy of Fiesco, Cabal and Love, Wallenstein's Camp, The Piccolomini, The Death of Wallenstein, Mary Stuart, The Maid of Orleans, The Bride of Messina, and William Tell. The Life of Schiller has been written by several persons; the best in the English language are by Thomas Carlyle and Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton. His remains were, in 1827, transferred to the new Ducal Cemetery at Weimar; and the centenary of his birth, 1859, was signalized by public demonstrations through. out Germany; and statues of him have been erected in several cities in Germany. Schiller died in his forty-sixth year. His career has been eloquently summarized by Carlyle.
CARLYLE UPON SCHILLER.
On the whole, we may pronounce him happy. His days passed in the contemplation of ideal grandeur, he lived among the glories and sublimities of universal Nature; his thoughts were of sages and heroes, and scenes of Elysian beauty. It is true he had no rest, no peace; but he enjoyed the fiery consciousness of his own activity, which stands in place of it for men like him. It is true he was long sickly, but did he not even then conceive and body forth Max Piccolomini, and Thekla and the Maid of Orleans, the scenes of Wilhelm Tell? It is true he died early ; but the student will exclaim, with Charles XII. in another case, “V.'as it not enough of life when he had conquered kingdoms ?” These kingdoms which Schiller conquered were not for one nation at the expense of suffering to another, they were soiled by no patriot's blood, no widow's, no orphan's tear; they are kingdoms conquered from the barren realms of darkness, to increase the happiness, and dignity, and power of all men ; new forms of Truth, new maxims of Wisdom, new images and scenes of Beauty, won from the void and formless Infinite ;” a “possession forever" to all the generations of the Earth.
KING PHILIP II. OF SPAIN AND THE MARQUIS OF POSA.
King.–We've met before, then ?
You did my crown Some service. Why, then, do you shun my thanks?