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TRUTH AND POETRY;
FROM MY OWN LIFE.
PART THE THIRD-Continued.
With the movement which was spreading among the public, now arose another of greater importance perhaps to the author, as it took place in his immediate circle.
His early friends who had read, in manuscript, those poetical compositions which were now creating so much sensa. tion, and therefore regarded them almost as their own, gloried in a success which they had boldly enough predicted. This number was augmented by new adherents, especially by such as felt conscious of a creative power in themselves, or were desirous of calling one forth and cultivating it.
Among the former, Lenz was the most active and he deported himself strangely enough. I have already sketched the outward appearance of this remarkable mortal, and have touched affectionately on his talent for humor. I will now speak of his character, in its results rather than descriptively, because it would be impossible to follow him through the mazy course of his life, and to transfer to these pages a full exhibition of his peculiarities.
Generally known is that self-torture which in the lack of all outward grievances, had now become fashionable, and which disturbed the very best minds. That which gives but a tran. sient pain to ordinary men who never themselves meditate on that which they seek to banish from their minds, was, by the better order, acutely observed, regarded, and recorded in books, letters, and diaries. But now men united the strictest moral requisitions on themselves and others with an excessive negligence in action; and vague notions arising from this halfwf-knowledge misled them into the strangest habits and out
of-the-way practices. But this painful work of self-contemplation was justified by the rising empirical pyschology which, while it was not exactly willing to pronounce everything that produces inward disquiet to be wicked and objectionable, still could not give it an unconditional approval, and thus was origi. vated an eternal and inappeasable contest. In carrying ori, and sustaining this conflict, Lenz surpassed all the other idlers and dabblers who were occupied in mining into their own souls, and thus he suffered from the universal tendency of the times, which was said to have been let loose by Werther; but a personal peculiarity distinguished him from all the rest. While they were undeniably frank and honest creatures, he had a decided inclination to intrigue, and, indeed, to intrigue for its own sake, without having in view any special object, any reasonable, attainable, personal object. On the contrary, it was always his custom to propose to himself something whimsical, which served, for that very reason, to keep him constantly occupied. In this way all his life long he was an imposter in his imagination; his love, as well as his hate, was imaginary; he dealt with his thoughts and feelings in a wilful manner, so as always to have something to do. He endeavoured to give reality to his sympathies and antipathies by the most perverso means, and always himself destroyed his own work. Thus he never benefited any one whom he loved, and never injured any one whom he hated. In general he seemed to sin only to punish himself, and to intrigue for no purpose but to graft a new fable upon an old one.
His talent, in which tenderness, facility, and subtlety rivalled each other, proceeded from a real depth, from an inexhaustible creative power, but was thoroughly morbid with all its beauty. Such qualities are precisely the most difficult to judge. It is impossible to overlook great features in his works-a lovely tenderness steals along through pieces of caricature so odd and so silly that they can hardly be pardoned, even in a humor so thorough and unassuming, and such a genuine comic talent. His days were made up of mere nothings, to which his nimble fancy could ever give a meaning, and he was the better able to squander hours away, since, with a happy memory. the time which he did employ in reading, was always fruitful, and enriched his original mode of thought with various materials.