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[119] I reply, without inquiring whether the judgment be accidentally right or not, that the man is a scoundrel, for every fact and every opinion in his Review is pilfered from this very book, and he evidently knows nothing of the early history of German literature which he has not found in it. Yet this is the way the Germans are every day judged by foreign nations. Fortunately, however, the grounds of accusation are so different that all cannot be true, and their incoherence and inconsistency are the best possible testimony to the ignorance of the persons who make them.

To-day comes a Frenchman, and cries out, like Bonaparte, against the ‘metaphysique tenebreuse du Nord’; to-morrow comes another Frenchman, like Villers, and says he will build a bridge that shall conduct the empirics of France to the simplicity of German philosophy. Mad. de Stael complains of Goethe's tragedies for being too simple, and the Edinburgh Reviewers complain of them for being too artificial. You praise the Village Pastor, whose name I have never heard in Germany, except when I have inquired about it. The critics of the North say the reading of Schiller's Robbers makes an epoch in every man's life; from which remark, it is apparent the innocent do not know that, though Schiller's countrymen are aware of the strength of character and talent which were necessary to produce in his circumstances, and the circumstances of the country, such a tragedy as the ‘Robbers’ at the age of twenty-one, yet that their good sense and good taste have banished it long, long since from the stage, and ceased to read it except as a curious proof of misdirected genius, though it is now domesticated in the English theatres.

Perhaps you will ask what I mean by all this tirade against other people's mistakes. I mean to show you by foreign proof that the German literature is a peculiar national literature, which, like the miraculous creation of Deucalion, has sprung directly from their own soil, and is so intimately connected with their character, that it is very difficult for a stranger to understand it. A Frenchman, or indeed any one of the Roman nations, generally makes as bad work with it as Voltaire with Shakespeare, and for the same reasons; for it deals with a class of feelings and ideas which are entirely without the periphery of his conceptions. An Englishman, too, if he studies it at home only, generally succeeds about as well,—but show me the man who, like Walter Scott, has studied it as it deserves, or, like Coleridge, has been in the country, and who has gone home and laughed at it. Mr. Rose, in Berlin, told me he would defy all the critics of his nation to produce such an instance.

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