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that in so centrifugal a movement, at least on the human and spiritual level, one should find so many instances of disintegrated and multiple personality. The fascination that the phenomenon of the double (Doppelgängerei) had for Hoffmann and other German romanticists is well known.' It may well be that some such disintegration of the self takes place under extreme emotional stress. ? We should not fail to note here the usual coöperation between the emotional and the scientific naturalist. Like the romanticist, the scientific psychologist is more interested in the abnormal than in the normal. According to the Freudians, the personality that has become incapable of any conscious aim is not left entirely rudderless. The guidance that it is unable to give itself is supplied to it by some "wish,” usually obscene, from the sub-conscious realm of dreams. The Freudian then proceeds to develop what may be true of the hysterical degenerate into a com
a plete view of life.
Man is in danger of being deprived of every last scrap and vestige of his humanity by this working together of romanticism and science. For man becomes human only in so far as he exercises moral choice. He must also enter upon the pathway of ethical purpose if he is to achieve happiness. “Moods,” says Novalis, "undefined emotions, not defined emotions and feelings, give happiness.” The experience of life shows so plainly that this is not so that the romanticist is tempted to seek shelter once more from his mere vagrancy of spirit in the outer discipline he has abandoned. “To such unsettled ones as thou, seemeth at last even a prisoner blessed. Didst thou ever see how captured criminals sleep? They sleep quietly, they enjoy their new security. . . . Beware in the end lest a narrow faith capture thee, a hard rigorous delusion! For now everything that is narrow and fixed seduceth and tempteth thee." 1
1 See Brandes: The Romantic School in Germany, ch. XI.
· Alfred de Musset saw his double in the stress of his affair with George Sand (see Nuit de Décembre), Jean Valjean (Les Misérables) sees his double in the stress of his conversion. Peter Bell also sees his double at the emotional crisis in Wordsworth's poem of that name.
Various reasons have been given for romantic conversions to Catholicism - for example, the desire for confession (though the Catholic does not, like the Rousseauist, confess himself from the housetops), the æsthetic appeal of Catholic rites and ceremonies, etc. The sentence of Nietzsche puts us on the track of still another reason. The affinity of certain romantic converts for the Church is that of the jelly-fish for the rock. It is appropriate that Friedrich Schlegel, the great apostle of irony, should after a career as a heaven-storming Titan end by submitting to this most rigid of all forms of outer authority.
For it should now be possible to return after our digression on paradox and the idea of the infinite and the perils of aimlessness, to romantic irony with a truer understanding of its significance. Like so much else in this movement it is an attempt to give to a grave psychic weakness the prestige of strength unless indeed one conceives the superior personality to be the one that lacks a centre and principle of control. Man it has usually been held should think lightly of himself but should have some conviction for which he is ready to die. The romantic ironist, on the other hand, is often morbidly sensitive about himself, but is ready to mock at his own convictions. Rousseau was no romantic ironist, but the root of self-parody is found
1 Thus Spake Zarathustra, LXIX.
nevertheless in his saying that his heart and his head did not seem to belong to the same individual. Everything of course is a matter of degree. What poor mortal can say that he is perfectly at one with himself? Friedrich Schlegel is not entirely wrong when he discovers elements of irony based on an opposition between the head and the heart in writers like Ariosto and Cervantes, who love the very mediæval tales that they are treating in a spirit of mockery. Yet the laughter of Cervantes is not gypsy laughter. He is one of those who next to Shakespeare deserve the praise of having dwelt close to the centre of human nature and so can in only a minor degree be ranked with the romantic ironists.
In the extreme type of romantic ironist not only are intellect and emotion at loggerheads but action often belies both: he thinks one thing and feels another and does still a third. The most ironical contrast of all is that between the romantic "ideal” and the actual event. The whole of romantic morality is from this point of view, as I have tried to show, a monstrous series of ironies. The pacifist, for example, has been disillusioned so often that he should by this time be able to qualify as a romantic ironist, to look, that is, with a certain aloofness on his own dream. The crumbling of the ideal is often so complete indeed when put to the test that irony is at times, we may suppose, a merciful alternative to madness. When disillusion overtakes the uncritical enthusiast, when he finds that he has taken some cloud bank for terra firma, he continues to cling to his dream, but at the same time wishes to show that he is no longer the dupe of it; and so “hot baths of sentiment," as Jean Paul says of his novels, ' are followed by cold douches of irony." The true Gere
man master of the genre is, however, Heine. Every one knows with what coldness his head came to survey the enthusiasms of his heart, whether in love or politics. One may again measure the havoc that life had wrought with Renan's ideals if one compares the tone of his youthful “Future of Science” with the irony of his later writings. He compliments Jesus by ascribing to him an ironical detachment similar to his own. Jesus, he says, has that mark of the superior nature - the power to rise above his own dream and to smile down upon it. Anatole France, who is even more completely detached from his own dreams than his master Renan, sums up the romantic emancipation of imagination and sensibility from any definite centre when he says that life should have as its supreme witnesses irony and pity.
Irony is on the negative side, it should be remembered, a way of affirming one's escape from traditional and conventional control, of showing the supremacy of mood over decorum.“There are poems old and new which throughout breathe the divine breath of irony. ... Within lives the poet's mood that surveys all, rising infinitely above everything finite, even above his own art, virtue or genius." i Decorum is for the classicist the grand masterpiece to observe because it is only thus he can show that he has a genuine centre set above his own ego; it is only by the allegiance of his imagination to this centre that he can give the illusion of a higher reality. The romantic ironist shatters the illusion wantonly. It is as though he would inflict upon the reader the disillusion from which he has himself suffered. By his swift passage from one mood to another (Stimmungsbrechung) he shows that he
1 F. Schlegel: Lyceum fragment, no. 42.
is subject to no centre. The effect is often that of a sudden breaking of the spell of poetry by an intrusion of the poet's ego. Some of the best examples are found in that masterpiece of romantic irony, “Don Juan.” i
Closely allied to the irony of emotional disillusion is a certain type of misanthropy. You form an ideal of man that is only an Arcadian dream and then shrink back from man when you find that he does not correspond to your ideal. I have said that the romantic lover does not love a real person but only a projection of his mood. This substitution of illusion for reality often appears in the relations of the romanticist with other persons. Shelley, for example, begins by seeing in Elizabeth Hitchener an angel of light and then discovers that she is instead a "brown demon.” He did not at any time see the real Elizabeth Hitchener. She merely reflects back to him two of his own moods. The tender misanthropy of the Rousseauist is at the opposite pole from that of a Swift, which is the misanthropy of naked intellect. Instead of seeing human nature through an Arcadian haze he saw it without any illusion at all. His irony is like that of Socrates, the irony of intellect. Its bitterness and cruelty arise from the fact that his intellect does not, like the intellect of Socrates, have the support of insight. Pascal would have said that Swift saw man's misery without at the same time seeing his grandeur. For man's grandeur is due to his infinitude and this infinitude cannot be perceived directly, but only through a veil of illusion; only, that is, through a right use of the imagination. Literary distinctions of this kind must of course be used cautiously. Byron’s irony is prevailingly sentimental, but along with this romantic element he has
1 E..., canto II, CVII-CXI.