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Priestley (search for this): chapter 5
y other country, has no connection with the many little governments through which it is scattered without being broken or divided. From this separation of the practical affairs from science and letters to the extraordinary degree in which it is done in Germany, comes, I think, the theoretical nature of German literature in general, and of German metaphysics in particular. This is the way in which I account for the origin and prevalence of Locke's system of sensations, and Hartley's and Priestley's materialism in the one country, and Kant's and Fichte's high, abstract idealism in the other; because in England the man of letters must be more or less a practical man; in Germany, he is necessarily as pure a theorist or idealist as the Greeks were. But, whether my explanation of the cause be right or wrong, the fact remains unquestionable, and the next thing you will desire to know, will be the effects of this system of things. They are undoubtedly manifold; more perhaps than I su
, is wearing off. I am making acquaintance with the people attached to the University, and thus begin to forget that I am in a trading city, to whose semiannual fair twenty thousand strangers resort . . . . Among the great men of the University whom I have seen, are Hermann, whose treatise on the Metric you know, I suppose, about as well as I do Chitty's treatise on Pleading, and Beck, who is as familiar to you in his capacity of editor of Euripides, as Polluxfen & Co. are to me as editors of Coke, of whom I now recollect nothing but his full-bottomed wig and a long case which I had occasion to look up. . . . . Hermann and Beck are good men, and so is Prof. Schafer, who published Herodotus, though he is obliged to support himself by correcting proof-sheets of books he ought rather to comment, because his person and manner are not sufficiently interesting to fill his auditorium with hearers and his purse with Frederick d'ors. En passant, I will tell you a story of him. You know Porson
ore genteel and sociable than at Gottingen. The professors who were there, perhaps, less learned, and more polished in their manners. Among them was a son of the Chancellor, formerly professor at Marburg, Gesenius, author of the Hebrew lexicon, Jakobs, etc. All were gay. The evening passed off lightly, except the time I was obliged to listen in polite silence to a sonata of Mozart twenty-four pages long; the supper was better than German suppers are wont to be. October 20.—I called this morbors night and day, produces a romance, sells it to the booksellers, and from the profits is able to have for the remaining five months the comforts and luxuries he desires. I found him with Prof. Niemeyer; we were soon joined by Prof. Ersch, Prof. Jakobs, etc. The old gentleman's gay volubility, which indicated his literary fertility, kept everybody alive about him, and we passed two hours in a rational kind of happiness with him. . . . . In the evening we made a visit to old Hofrath Schurt
Wolfgang A. Von Goethe (search for this): chapter 5
eipsic. Dresden. Berlin. Weimar. visit to Goethe. receives the offer of the Professorship of F the earliest works of Klopstock, Wieland, and Goethe, that it is evident the spirit of regenerationd Burger. This number is certainly small, and Goethe alone survives, to maintain the glory of the d thirty-five; and Myer, the archaeologist, now Goethe's intimate friend, an old man of sixty or seve that after the deaths of Schiller and Herder, Goethe became intimate with Wieland. Schiller, he said, had profited much by his connection with Goethe, and borrowed much from his genius,—among other pieces, in his William Tell, which Goethe had earlier thought to have made the subject of an epic poem; but now they are all dead, and since 1813 Goethe has been alone in the world. He has much on nalis was, no doubt, from hints first given by Goethe. Among the many unpublished things he has of a man says, I am going to give an account of Goethe's life, as he himself represents it, and then [7 more...]
it would probably be the Literary Letters,—a periodical publication managed by Lessing; but this was so instantly succeeded and surpassed by the earliest works of Klopstock, Wieland, and Goethe, that it is evident the spirit of regeneration had long been working in the land, and that, if Lessing was the first to call it forth, it was rather from accident than extraordinary genius or boldness. The literature of Germany now sprang at once from its tardy soil, like the miraculous harvest of Jason, and like that, too, seems in danger of perishing without leaving behind it successors to its greatness. Besides the four whom I have named, I know of no authors who have enjoyed a general and decisive popularity, and who have settled down into regular classics, except Haller, Muller, the elder Voss, Schiller, and Burger. This number is certainly small, and Goethe alone survives, to maintain the glory of the deceased generation of his friends and rivals. But, narrow as the circle is, and
Lucien Bonaparte (search for this): chapter 5
hich Protestant learning and a philosophical mode of thinking are diffused. Nay, further, take a Prussian, or Hanoverian, or Hessian politician or soldier, and he will talk with as much horror of expatriation from Prussia, Hanover, or Hesse as Bonaparte ever did of denationalizing a flag; but a professor or a rector of a gymnasium moves as willingly from one of these countries into another, and feels himself as much at home after his removal, as if it were only from Cassel to Marburg, or from 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'
nteresting to fill his auditorium with hearers and his purse with Frederick d'ors. En passant, I will tell you a story of him. You know Porson is the god of idolatry to all the Hellenists of England, great and small, whether *)attikw/tatos, like Cicero's instructor in rhetoric, or Groeculi esurientes, like Juvenal's, poor fellow!—and if you do not, you can find it out by reading a Life of him in Aikin's Athenaeum. He died one day, and his successor in Cambridge, and another of the present genehis Aeschylus, where, with learning and acuteness, there is often a carelessness which is inexplicable, without this key to his character. Yet with all this levity and learning, he is obliged to work like a dog: he reads his lectures, is editing Cicero, conducts the Philological Seminary, superintends the Journal, and from all these together is obliged to correct fifteen or sixteen proof-sheets every week. And yet I hardly know any young man of five-and-twenty that is more amusing. I went t
forget that I am in a trading city, to whose semiannual fair twenty thousand strangers resort . . . . Among the great men of the University whom I have seen, are Hermann, whose treatise on the Metric you know, I suppose, about as well as I do Chitty's treatise on Pleading, and Beck, who is as familiar to you in his capacity of edis Polluxfen & Co. are to me as editors of Coke, of whom I now recollect nothing but his full-bottomed wig and a long case which I had occasion to look up. . . . . Hermann and Beck are good men, and so is Prof. Schafer, who published Herodotus, though he is obliged to support himself by correcting proof-sheets of books he ought rathyears old, but possesses a vivacity remarkable even in a German man of letters. In good-nature he is said to surpass all his contemporaries. On this account, as Hermann told us, Wolf could never get along with him, for if he attacked Schurtz in conversation for any opinion whatever, Schurtz would always turn it off with a joke, a
al publication managed by Lessing; but this was so instantly succeeded and surpassed by the earliest works of Klopstock, Wieland, and Goethe, that it is evident the spirit of regeneration had long been working in the land, and that, if Lessing was tuse him to exertion, and that it is a great misfortune that he is now without such influence and example as when Herder, Wieland, and Schiller were alive. I asked what had been his relations with those extraordinary men. He replied that, from holding similar views in philosophy, Goethe and Schiller were nearest to each other, and Herder and Wieland; but that after the deaths of Schiller and Herder, Goethe became intimate with Wieland. Schiller, he said, had profited much by his connection Wieland. Schiller, he said, had profited much by his connection with Goethe, and borrowed much from his genius,—among other pieces, in his William Tell, which Goethe had earlier thought to have made the subject of an epic poem; but now they are all dead, and since 1813 Goethe has been alone in the world. He h
La Fontaine (search for this): chapter 5
almost any man of his time. . . . . I dined with Prof. Sprengel. The dinner was poor,—such an one, perhaps, as few German professors would have been humble enough to have asked a stranger to; but, what I have not found before in a single instance, he made no apologies. The consequence was, that I was well contented, and had leisure to admire the extent of his literary knowledge, which, without the least show, was gradually opened to me. After dinner he carried me to his neighbor, La Fontaine's, author of a great number of romances, one of which, The Village Curate, has been republished in America. He is sixty or sixty-five, lives very pleasantly just outside the town, on the beautiful banks of the Saal. His mode of life is rather curious. He is in the church, but his place is merely nominal, and to support himself in living as he likes he writes. This he does not find pleasant, and therefore writes no more than is necessary. Twice in the year he labors night and day, pro
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