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Meantime the health of Schiller was gradually undermined: his lungs had been long subject to attacks of disease; and the warning indications which constantly arose of some deep-seated organic injuries in his pulmonary system ought to have put him on his guard for some years before his death. Of all men, however, it is remarkable that Schiller was the most criminally negligent of his health; remarkable, we say, because for a period of four years Schiller had applied himself seriously to the study of medicine. The strong coffee, and the wine, which he drank, may not have been so injurious as his biographers suppose; but his habit of sitting up through the night, and defrauding his wasted frame of all natural and restorative sleep, had something in it of that guilt which belongs to suicide. On the 9th of May, 1805, his complaint reached its crisis. Early in the morning he became delirious; at noon his delirium abated; and at four in the afternoon he fell into a gentle unagitated sleep, from which he soon awoke. Conscious that he now stood on the very edge of the grave, he calmly and fervently took a last farewell of his friends. At six in the evening he fell again into sleep, from which, however, he again awoke once more to utter the memorable declaration, “that many things were growing plain and clear to his understanding.” After this the cloud of sleep again settled upon him; a sleep which soon changed into the cloud of death.

This event produced a profound impression throughout Germany. The theatres were closed at Weimar, and the funeral was conducted with public honors. The position in point of time, and the peculiar services of Schiller to the German literature, we have already stated: it remains to add, that in person he was tall, and of a strong bony structure, but not muscular, and strikingly lean. His forehead was lofty, his nose aquiline, and his mouth almost of Grecian beauty. With other good points about his face, and with auburn hair, it may be presumed that his whole appearance was pleasing and impressive, while in latter years the character of sadness and contemplative sensibility deepened the impression of his countenance. We have said enough of his intellectual merit, which places him in our judgment at the head of the Trans-Rhenish literature. But we add in concluding, that Frederick von Schiller was something more than a great author; he was also in an eminent sense a great man; and his works are not more worthy of being studied for their singular force and originality, than his moral character from its nobility and aspiring grandeur.