Then the reading of it was continued.
WILHELM VON HUMBOLDT
* * * * *
From the Introduction to the Correspondence of Schiller and W. von Humboldt (1830)
Schiller’s poetic genius showed itself in his very first productions. In spite of all their defects in form, in spite of many things which to the mature artist seemed absolutely crude, The Robbers and Fiesko gave evidence of remarkable inherent power. His genius later betrayed itself in the longing for poetry, as for the native atmosphere of his spirit, which longing constantly breaks out in his varied philosophical and historical labors and is often hinted at in his letters to me. It finally revealed itself in virile power and refined purity in those dramas which will long remain the pride and the renown of the German stage.
This poetic genius, however, is most closely wedded, in all its height and depth, to thought; it manifests itself, in fact, in an intellectuality which by analysis would separate everything into its parts, and then by combination would unite all in one complete whole. In this lies Schiller’s peculiar individuality. He demanded of poetry more profundity of thought and forced it to submit to a more rigid intellectual unity than it had ever had before. This he did in a two-fold manner—by binding it into a more strictly artistic form, and by treating every poem in such a way that its subject-matter readily broadened its individuality until it expressed a complete idea.
It is upon these peculiarities that the excellence which characterizes Schiller as a writer rests. It is because of them that, in order to bring out the greatest and best of which he was capable, he needed a certain amount of time before his completely developed individuality, to which his poetic genius was indissolubly united, could reach that point of clearness and definiteness of expression which he demanded of himself. * * *
On the other hand, it would probably be agreeable to the reader of this correspondence if I should attempt briefly to show how my opinion of Schiller’s individuality was formed by intercourse with him, by reminiscences of his conversation, by the comparison of his productions in their successive sequence, and by a study of the development of his intellect.