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enous in the North, among the lowlands, and on the coast. How long these dialects have existed, it is not now possible to determine; but they are probably as old as the earliest population of the country, since traces of them have been found in Tacitus. The low German, which is the vernacular of the lowest class in this part of the country, is a much more harmonious and happy language in its elements than the high German, which is the language of all people of any education through the whole nually acting and reacting upon each other, many things must be made to serve some practical purpose, and nothing is valued which is not immediately useful. In Germany, on the contrary, the national character, from the first intimation of it in Tacitus, and the tendency of the government, from its first development to the present day, have always had an effect directly opposite. A man of science here lives entirely isolated from the world; and the very republic of letters, which is a more rea
nor. Gottingen, November 9, 1816. Once more, dear father and mother, I date to you from Gottingen, but from Gottingen how changed! Five days ago we arrived here, after an absence of eight weeks. As I entered the city, I felt in some sort as if I were returning home, for I knew that I was returning to that quiet occupation which in Europe is my only happiness; but I did not dream of what awaited me. I sprang from the carriage to go to my room, but was stopped by an Irishman of the name of Orr, who studies here, with the question, Do you know two of your countrymen are here? Is it Cogswell? said I, involuntarily; not because I trusted myself to hope it, but because it was what I desired beyond anything else in the compass of possibility. In a moment I was with him, at The Crown; and though I had not been in bed for thirty-six hours, I did not get to my room till midnight . . . . And yet, when I have been alone, I have had enough to think of The first announcement of his nom
Blumenbach (search for this): chapter 5
ce in Gottingen till the close of 1816. German literature. German metaphysics. anecdotes of Blumenbach and Wolf. Leipsic. Dresden. Berlin. Weimar. visit to Goethe. receives the offer of the Walter Channing. GoTtingen, May 17, 1816. . . . . You ask me a great many questions about Blumenbach, and I imagine you have received anticipated answers to them, for in several letters to you an place since I last wrote to you, excepting in our dinner society at old Judge Zacharia's. Madame Blumenbach and her daughter have gone to the baths at Ems for their health and amusement; and as the Yesterday one of the servants of the library came to my room with three huge quartos, and Prof. Blumenbach's compliments, saying they were too large to bring to dinner, and therefore he sent them fikely to relapse into low spirits for want of gay society and occasional excitement. I gave Blumenbach, some time since, my dear father, your remembrance and your acknowledgments for the kindness h
Shakespeare (search for this): chapter 5
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. After
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 morning on Prof. Sprengel, and delivered him a letter from Dr. Muhlenburg of New York, with a small package of botanical specimens. He seems to be a man of quick feelings, and it was f missions. As a literary man, his merit is his Latin, which he is supposed to write and speak as well as 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 bets every week. And yet I hardly know any young man of five-and-twenty that is more amusing. I went to the Botanical Garden to take leave, but did not find Prof. Sprengel, who gave it all its interest, when I last saw it, and on my way home visited the Halloren. There are now only about fifty families, who live together, and e
orth, 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 though the strictness of posterity will perhaps make it yet narrower, still I know of none in the modern languages—except our own—where one so interesting can be found as the circle of German literature. It has all the freshness and faithfulness of poetry of the early ages, when words were still the representatives of sen
North American Indians (search for this): chapter 5
ealth and amusement; and as the knight does not choose to eat his dinner quite alone, he dines with us. His unwearied and inexhaustible gayety of spirits, and his endless fund of curious and learned anecdote, make him at once the centre and life of a party, which, to be sure, was before neither very lifeless nor very sad. Every day he has something new and strange to tell; and as he takes a particular delight in teasing me, he commonly relates something out of the way respecting our North American Indians, which by a dexterous turn he contrives to make those present think is equally true of the citizens of the United States, and ends by citing some of the strange opinions of Buffon or Raynal to support himself, and put me out of countenance. Of course we come at once into a regular discussion, in which he goes on to allege more perverse authorities against me, calls us a younger and feebler creation, says that we have not yet freed ourselves from the rude manners of the wilderness, e
Charles S. Daveis (search for this): chapter 5
Chapter 5: Residence in Gottingen till the close of 1816. German literature. German metaphysics. anecdotes of Blumenbach and Wolf. Leipsic. Dresden. Berlin. Weimar. visit to Goethe. receives the offer of the Professorship of French and Spanish literature at Harvard. To C. S. Daveis, Portland. Gottingen, February 29, 1816. . . . . You will perhaps expect from me some notices of German literature, as I am now established in the very midst of it; and if you do not, I may as well write you about it as about something not half so interesting. . . . . To come to the subject, then, and begin in defiance of Horace,—ab ovo Ledce,—you know there are in this land of gutturals and tobacco two dialects: high German, so called because it is indigenous in the interior and higher parts of the country; and low German, so called because it is indigenous in the North, among the lowlands, and on the coast. How long these dialects have existed, it is not now possible to d
ke, 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 mannernce, under the authority, as it were, of the University of Cambridge. The book was certainly, for a collection of disconnected critical remarks, a good book, and Schafer republished it here, taking the liberty to correct some mistakes in the latinity,—a circumstance which he very modestly notices in his preface. This was a tremendous blow to the pride of the English scholars, though poor Schafer, who had been educated in the German notions of the importance of an exquisite latinity, thought it an inconsiderable oversight. It seemed incredible to the classical wits at Cambridge, that a book of Porson's, so carefully and so often revised by those into whose
nt ruled unquestioned through all Germany. For three or four years succeeding, Fichte was the lord of the ascendant, till Schelling pushed him from his stool, and ke their systems it is not necessary to speak. It is only necessary to know that Fichte and Schelling divided the system of Kant, and that the one, by pushing his ideaing a new one. To these two consequences of the success and failure of Kant, Fichte, and Schelling, is, I think, in a great measure to be traced the present condit those who examine such subjects are still followers of Kant. In Berlin, where Fichte still lives and has lately much distinguished himself by some very powerful piea system of his own, collected from the disjecta membra of the systems of Kant, Fichte, and Schelling. These fragments he has commonly formed, with his own additions, 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 m
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