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Rahel: Her Life and Letters. By friends are also given, and not Mrs. Vaughan Jennings. H. S. merely their correspondence with King & Co.: London, 1876. We her, but also with each other. cannot help thinking Mrs. Jennings Rahel appears to have been one is too late with her publication. of the most remarkable women of More than forty years have elapsed her time. Carlyle calls her“ since the death of the person to kind of spiritual queen in Germany." whom it relates, and nearly as many She was regarded as a high authority since Mr. Carlyle gave some account in literature, and had the honour of her and her letters in an article of having been the first to render on the volumes edited by her hus- Goethe duly appreciated by his band, Varnhagen von Ense, which countrymen. Her salon was for contained her correspondence and about twenty years the resort of all descriptive memoirs of her friends. who were distinguished in society, It was of course impossible in a literature, science, art, philosophy, paper, the greater part of which, and theology. She numbered was devoted to Varnhagen himself anong her intimate friends such and his writings, to find room for eminent men as Moses Mendelsmuch biographical detail respecting sohn, Schleiermacher, Frederick his wife, or many extracts from her Schlegel, Fichte, Tieck, and others ; letters ; but had there been any won tributes of the highest admirademand for further particulars, it tion from Goethe and Jean Paul would surely have been supplied Richter; and even vanquished the long before now. If what Mr. vanity of Madame de Staël, so far Carlyle wrote did not awaken as to extort from her the acknowsufficient interest among English ledgment that the extraordinary readers to encourage the publication accounts she had heard of her of a more complete account while her with incredulity were not at all exmemory was still fresh in the minds aggerated. Count Custine, in an of many who are no longer living, article upon

her in the Revue de Paris there would seem to be less en- for November, 1837—not the Revue couragement now. Be this as it des Deux Mondes for December, as may, we must do Mrs. Jennings the Mrs. Jennings erroneously states — justice to say, that portion of the describes her as “the light of minds, volume which proceeds from her the guide of hearts,” and says, pen is written with vivid force, and “she had the intellect of a philosogives evidence of ample acquain- pher, and the heart of an apostle, tance with the leading

persons and and nevertheless was a child and a events of the time.

Though pro

woman as much as any one can be." fessedly devoted to the life and It is but natural that her husband letters of Rahel, the work is not should be still more eloquent in her confined to her. Accounts of her praise. According to him she was


“quite an original being, grand from “I am compelled to live misundera blending of innocence with pru- stood among unworthy people. Fools dent tact, prompt in speech as in

and liars protect themselves against action ; for the rarest presence of each other, but I have no protection, mind, and the most extraordinary And what makes matters worse, is

no kindred spirit, no friend, nothing. address, sagacity, and perspicacity that, living in the midst of injustice, were combined in her, and all this blame irritates me like something new. was animated by an ever practical There is not a single person of those and true warmth of feeling, and the that condemn me, who has not been liveliest sympathy with others in completely mistaken. No one undertheir joys and sorrows. Compre- takes my defence : they persecute me hensiveness and brilliancy, depth

because I have always spoken to each

one in favour of the other. The and frankness, imagination and

women whom I see completely undo irony combined together were dis

It is a physical effect. Their played by her in the series of un

presence agitates my nerves, they expected circumstances of which depress my mind.” her life was composed. But with power and greatness were always

To add to her other sufferings, found in her the gentleness and Rahel was doomed to undergo the grace of the woman, which were misery of disappointment in a love especially visible in the charming affair with Count von Finkenstein, expression of her eyes and mouth, who, after a long courtship, was as well as passion and enthusiasm." released by her from his engage

Born in 1771 of Jewish parents, ment on account of their disparity she was of a highly susceptible tem- of rank and difference of religion. perament, wayward in disposition, Though she never afterwards re

, and glad to escape as often as she gretted this result, it affected her could from the uncongenial atmos- so deeply at the time as to bring phere of her home, where her father on a severe illness of long conruled with an iron band, and her tinuance, after which she visited mother failed to understand and Paris, having long been familiar appreciate her. It seems to have with the French language and been her fate to have been mis. literature through study and interunderstood during her life, as it has course with many French emi. been to be less known since her

grants in Berlin. death than, according to all accounts,

Mrs.Jennings gives an interesting she deserved. Her husband said sketch of an evening at Rahel's it was not till after having been long salon from the pen of a French uncertain and mistaken about her, count, who says : that he at last got to know her true character. She can hardly be said

"I heard the boldest ideas, the to have led a happy life. Those

acutest thoughts, the most significant who are not blest with a happy play of fancy, all linked and suggested

criticisms, and the most capricious home in childhood are at a great by the simple thread of accidental chitdisadvantage to begin with. Soured chat. in temper and wounded in spirit at "" Every one was naturally active the time of life when the heart is without being obtrusive, and all seemed most susceptible, they are apt to be

equally ready to talk or to listen. gloomy and morose all through life,

Most remarkable of all was Mlle. the objects of dislike and suspicion

Levin herself. With what easy grace

did she seem to rouse, brighten, and rather than sympathy and kindness.

warm everybody present. Her cheerIt is sad to read what Rahel says fulness was irresistible; and what did in one of her letters :

she not say? I was entirely bewildered,

and could no longer distinguish among managed to prevent all unpleasanther remarkable utterances, what was ness. wit, depth, right principle, genius, or It was when Rahel was about mere eccentricity and caprice. I heard from her phrases of colossal wisdom,

thirty-four years of age that Varntrue inspirations, which in a simple hagen, who was more than twelve word or two traversed the air like light- years younger, was first introduced nings and lodged in the heart."

to her, and soon managed to get a

general invitation to her salon. The next day the count called She had, since the dissolution of upon Rahel, and having congratu- her engagement with Count von lated her on being the centre of so Finkenstein, formed a passionate distinguished and intellectual an attachment to the Chevalier Raassembly as he had seen the phael Urquijo, a Spanish gentleman previous evening, he received a introduced to her by the Spanish melancholy reply :

Ambassador at Berlin; but it had

abruptly terminated in a manner How do I stand to all these

not now known. Varnhagen gives people ?' she exclaimed sadly. 'I have no personal satisfaction in any

a glowing account of his first of them. They bring me their sorrows,

evening in her salon, and the gratheir offences, their troubles, their

dual growth of their intimacy, cares. They come here to be amused,

which, after a series of adventures, and if they find better entertainment extending over eight years, and elsewhere, they leave me at once. I including his being wounded at the amuse them, I listen to them, I help, battle of Wagram, and his active comfort, advise them. In so far as I

literary efforts to stir up his countrydo this, because it is my nature, I have a perfect satisfaction, but they have the

men against Napoleon, resulting in whole benefit.

an order for his arrest, was finally best friends I stand unarmed, exposed

Even among my

consummated by their marriage at to wounds upon all sides, and without

Berlin in September, 1814, after any balsam for the wounds.'”

which they lived happily together

till her death, March 7, 1833. From this we gather that these Perhaps one of the most remarkevening assemblies were, with all able circumstances about Rahel was their brilliancy of intellectual dis- that, with all her high intellectual play, rather hollow affairs, a kind gifts and her effusive disposition, of mental masquerades in which she produced no literary work the heart had no place, highly enter. beyond a few aphorisms, entitled taining no doubt for the moment, "Stray Thoughts from a Berliner," but unproductive of any solid or which she describes as “a distilled lasting satisfaction. It seems the essence, mainly of the sorrows of guests were not specially invited, life.” Count Custine, referring to nor confined to any particular class. this circumstance, says, All that was required of them was a woman as extraordinary as Mathe strict observance of social pro- dame de Staël for her faculties of priety. Beyond that there was no mind, for her abundance of ideas, restraint on the freest expression her light of soul, and her goodness of opinion. Nothwithstanding the of heart; she had, moreover, what yariety of character, the incom- the author of Corinne' did not patibility of temper, the difference pretend to, a disdain for oratory; of pursuits, the disparity of rank, she did not write. The silence of and the discordance of creed among minds like hers is a force too. those present, Rahel, by her rare With more vanity, a person so tact and readiness of resource, superior would have sought to make

6 She was some of the

a public for herself; but Rahel de- tion inserted in this volume will be sired only friends. She spoke to more than enough to satisfy most communicate the life that was in readers who do not happen to have her; never did she speak to be ad- special knowledge of the persons mired.” This is one way of ex• and circumstances concerned, or to plaining the singular phenomenon be fond of listening to the melancertainly, but can hardly be accepted choly moanings of a wounded spirit. as a satisfactory solution. Mrs. Each has sorrows enough of his own Jennings gives a different account to think of without adding those of of the matter, without, however, others. Rahel herself said, “I do clearing it up :

not pity sorrows of which people

complain : true sorrow hides itself; “ It was at this time that Rahel first became conscious of the want of power

it is silent."

On the whole, we question to express the thoughts which crowded her active brain; while possessing the

whether the present volume will breadth and originality of thought, the extend or exalt the reputation of its brightness and fertility of intellect, the principal subject. The amount of keen sensibility to suffering, which we information about her is too scanty, admire in our own Mrs. Browning, she

and the letters give no idea of the was denied the gift of poetic utterance. Her genius found for itself other

peculiar charm of her conversation. channels of expression, and accomplished its appointed work in its own way."

Spiritualism, and allied Causes It is very unusual for such supe- and Conditions of Nervous Derangerior endowments as are here claimed ment. By W. A. Hammond, M.D., for Rahel to be unaccompanied by a Professor of Diseases of the Mind corresponding power of expression, and Nervous System in the Uniso rare, indeed, as to raise a suspi- versity of New York, &c. G. P. cion of some delusion in the esti. Putnam, New York; Sampson Low mate formed of her abilities. The & Co., London, 1876.-Spiritualism, admission that “she was denied or rather spiritism, bas lately been the gift of poetic utterance" is in heard of in two quarters where it was itself sufficient to show that she previously unknown. Its professors, ought not to be placed on a par with anxious to render their séances more Mrs. Browning, either in mind or attractive to the public and more heart.

profitable to themselves, managed, If we turn from vain speculation by a little cunning and a breach of as to what she might, could, or faith, to get the subject discussed, would have written, to what she ac- after a fashion, in the Anthropotually did write, we look in vain for logical Section of the British Assoindications of that surpassing genius ciation during its late meeting at with which she has been credited Edinburgh. by enthusiastic admirers. Mrs. The discussion was occasioned by Jennings frankly confesses that the reading of a paper of Professor Varnhagen might well have kept Barrett's « Phenomena conback many of her letters, which he nected with abnormal conditions of edited in three thick volumes. Mr. mind," and resulted in the proCarlyle goes farther, and quaintly duction of more heat than light on admits that with him “in the second the subject. An attempt was made thick volume the reading faculty to secure the appointment of a comunhappily broke down." Even the mittee to investigate and report to small fraction of the whole collec- the Association on




alleged phenomena produced by delicacy requires a greater power spiritist performers. It is perhaps of subtle analysis than Dr. Ham-. to be regretted that this was not mond appears to possess. Howaccomplished, because if fair and ever eminent he may be as reasonable conditions were rejected physician, be does not shine as a by the spiritists, as in the case of metaphysician, if we may judge Prof. Tyndall's challenge, their from wbat follows: cause would be still further discredited in the estimation of all “ Before we can be qualified to insensible people, and if they were quire into the powers of the mind, we accepted, some satisfactory con

must have a definite conception of clusion would probably be arrived

what mind is. To express the idea in

sufficiently full, but yet concise lanat, as in the case of the so-called electric girl in France, thirty years

guage is difficult, and perhaps no defi

nition can be given which will be enago, wbose pretensions were care- tirely free from objection. For the fully investigated and completely purposes, however, of the present quashed by a commission of the memoir, the mind may be regarded as Academy of Sciences.

a force, the result of nervous action,

and the elements of which are percepThe day before Professor Bar

tion, intellect, the emotions and the rett's paper was read, a séance took

will. Of these qualities some reside place at Dr. Slade's rooms, which

exclusively in the brain, but the others, has led to an investigation into

as is clearly shown by observation and the merits of spiritists and spiritism experiment, cannot be restricted to at Bow Street police office, a far this organ, but are developed with more appropriate sphere than the more or less intensity by other parts of Anthropological Section of the the nervous system. It would be out British Association, and it is to be

of place to enter fully into the conhoped the prosecution will not be

sideration of the important questions

thus touched upon, but in the fact that without good results, in addition

the spinal cord and sympathetic ganglia to the entertainment afforded by are not devoid of mental power we the reports of the proceedings, find an explanation of some of the which have been worth reading. most striking phenomena of what is

If any are disposed to pursue the called spiritualism." subject further, they may find it treated, with various allied topics, It is strange enough to speak of in the present volume, which is an the mind as a force, the result amplified reproduction of an article of nervous action.” Action must contributed to tbe North American mean motion, and force is usually Review by a physician who is Pro- considered the cause, not the effect fessor of Diseases of the Mind in or result of motion. It is still the University of New York. stranger to describe the mind as

As a mere collection of curious composed of the elements" percases which have fallen under his ception, intellect, the emotions,

, own professional observation, or and the will.” Dr. Hammund been recorded in books and journals, might with equal propriety say the work may interest not a few the body is composed of the elereaders. That it can be considered ments nutrition, respiration, and an exhaustive and conclusive dis- circulation. To increase our surcussion of the subject is probably prise still further, the doctor transmore than Dr. Hammond himself mogrifies these “ elements

into would affirm, and certainly more qualities," some of whicb, he than we are prepared to concede. says, "reside exclusively in the A subject of such complexity and brain;" while others" are developed

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