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he 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 appa
William Ellery Channing (search for this): chapter 5
n and French, my amusement literary history, chiefly ancient, and books that will fit me for my future travels. . . . . Add to all this that I am perfectly well, and just contented enough to keep me always industrious, that I may not fall into the horrors of homesickness, and I do not think you will be dissatisfied with my situation. To Edward T. Channing. Gottingen, June 16, 1816. . . . . In one of your last letters, dear Edward, you told me that your brother William The Rev. William Ellery Channing. would like to hear something about the kind of metaphysics taught in the schools here. I forgot at the moment to answer this inquiry, and should perhaps have forgotten it still longer, if I had not last week read his third pamphlet in the controversy with Worcester; and the natural desire which this excited, of recalling myself to the memory of one who had just given me so much pleasure, reminded me of his wish, and I determined to take the first leisure hour I should find to
John Von Muller (search for this): chapter 5
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 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
ought 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 paper which has never been published, and much in his memory which has not been put on paper, for he writes always by an amanuensis, to whom he dictates from memoranda on a card or scrap of paper, as he walks up and down his room. Of his views in physics and comparative anatomy, he has published little, but a programme by a medical professor at Jena (Oken) has lately made a great noise, in which the doctrine that the brain is formed from the medulla spinalis was, no doubt, from hints first given by Goethe. Among the many unpublished things he has on hand, are parts of a continuation of Faust, which Riemer had seen, in which the Devil brings Faust to court and makes him a great man; and some poems in the Persian style and taste which he wrote during the last war, to give a relief to his imagination and feelings by employing himself on someth
Hofrath Schurtz (search for this): chapter 5
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 Schurtz, editor of Aeschylus, and conductor, for I know not how many years, of the Allgemeine Literatur Zeitung. He was formerly professor at Jena; he is now above setters. 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, and say nobody could be more willing to give up an opinion or a criticism Schurtz would always turn it off with a joke, and say nobody could be more willing to give up an opinion or a criticism than himself, for he advanced them only as specimens, and was ready to abandon them to their fate. This is true, as any one may see, who reads the notes to his 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 learni
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 BeckBeck 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 is the god of idolatry to all the Hellenists of England, great and small, whether *)attikw/tatos, like Cicero's instructor in rhetoric,
ist, now Goethe's intimate friend, an old man of sixty or seventy, short and fat, with very odd manners, but lively and amusing in conversation. October 28.—Prof. Riemer, who is second librarian of the Public Library, called on us and amused us above an hour, by describing Goethe's mode of living, peculiarities, etc.,—facts one cannot get in books, or from any source but the knowledge of an intimate acquaintance. Prof. Riemer lived nine years in Goethe's house, and knew him, of course, from the lowest note to the top of his compass. He said that Goethe is a much greater man than the world will ever know, because he always needs excitement and collisiomedulla spinalis was, no doubt, from hints first given by Goethe. Among the many unpublished things he has on hand, are parts of a continuation of Faust, which Riemer had seen, in which the Devil brings Faust to court and makes him a great man; and some poems in the Persian style and taste which he wrote during the last war, to
J. J. Winckelmann (search for this): chapter 5
sgrace to Porson, and little to his publishers, are still an entire justification of all Schaffer had said in his preface . . . . Farewell. It is late, and I am tired, as I always am in a strange place, if it be only from seeing unwonted objects and faces. Still your Yankee friend, Geo. Journal. September 22.—In the afternoon we went through the gallery of pictures which has made Dresden so famous through the world; and, though I had read the admiration of Lessing, Herder, and Winckelmann, it surpassed my expectations. From looking at a collection of above thirteen hundred pieces an hour or two, I cannot of course say anything; but of the effect of one piece on my unpractised eye I cannot choose but speak, for I would not willingly lose the recollection of what I now feel. I mean the picture called the Madonna di San Sisto . . . I had often heard of the power of fine paintings, and I knew that Raphael was commonly reckoned the master of all imitation, and that this was o
, I am persuaded, to be charged to the philosophy of Kant, which for nearly twenty years ruled unquestioned, asystems have followed each other. From 1790 to 1800 Kant ruled unquestioned through all Germany. For three oknow that Fichte and Schelling divided the system of Kant, and that the one, by pushing his idealism too far, ntified God and Nature,—so that before the defeat of Kant's system as a whole, and then in both parts separatein till some man of high talents comes forward, like Kant, at once to destroy and to build up. But you willthese two consequences of the success and failure of Kant, Fichte, and Schelling, is, I think, in a great measose who examine such subjects are still followers of Kant. In Berlin, where Fichte still lives and has latelycollected from the disjecta membra of the systems of Kant, Fichte, and Schelling. These fragments he has command Priestley's materialism in the one country, and Kant's and Fichte's high, abstract idealism in the other;
Jean Paul (search for this): chapter 5
nature and great talent in description; Lara, he thought, bordered on the kingdom of spectres; and of his late separation from his wife, that, in its circumstances and the mystery in which it is involved, it is so poetical, that if Lord Byron had invented it he could hardly have had a more fortunate subject for his genius. All this he said in a quiet, simple manner, which would have surprised me much, if I had known him only through his books; and it made me feel how bitter must have been Jean Paul's disappointment, who came to him expecting to find in his conversation the characteristics of Werther and Faust. Once his genius kindled, and in spite of himself he grew almost fervent as he deplored the want of extemporary eloquence in Germany, and said, what I never heard before, but which is eminently true, that the English is kept a much more living language by its influence. Here, he said, we have no eloquence,—our preaching is a monotonous, middling declamation,—public debate we h
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