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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book, XII (search)
ete than this; for even such respect may be too excessive—as many of us discovered during the fugitive-slave period—and may destroy the very liberties it seeks to preserve. When it comes to personal ideals, again, it makes all the difference in the world whether the ideals are to be of the genuine kind, or merely composed of a court dress and a few jewels. There is something noble in the reverence for an ideal, even if the object of reverence be ill-selected. There is a fine passage in Heine's fragmentary papers on England, where he suddenly comes, among the London docks, to a great ship just from some Oriental port, breathing of the gorgeous East, and manned with a crew of dark Mohammedans of many tribes. Weary of the land around him, and yearning for the strange world from which they came, he yet could not utter a word of their language, till at last he thought of a mode of greeting. Stretching forth his hands reverently, he cried, Mohammed! Joy flashed over their dark face
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book, XVI (search)
e undertook it, would occupy a good many ages of that period. It would be necessary, however, to stipulate that none of it should be given to us in the form of autobiography, since we have altogether too much of that offered to us in this life. To make our friends really interesting, we must be allowed to explore their secrets in spite of them, and perhaps against their direct opposition. Of course we all view this drama of life around us through a medium varying with our temperaments. Heine says that he once went to see the thrilling tragedy of La Tour de Nesle, in Paris, and sat behind a lady who wore a large hat of rose-red gauze. The hat obstructed his whole view of the stage; he saw the play only through it, and all the horror of the tragedy was transformed by the most cheerful roselight. Some of us are happy in having this rose-tinted veil in our temperaments; but the plot and the tragedy are there. The innocent, says Thoreau speaking of life, enjoy the story. They sh
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book, XVII (search)
the transference of his author's language seemed like a sixth sense or a special gift for that one purpose. Placing side by side his German ballads and their originals, one neither detects anything of Longfellow put in nor anything of Uhland or Heine left out. The more powerful and commanding class of translators insert themselves into the work of their authors; thus Chapman so Chapmanizes Homer that in the long run his version fails to give pleasure; and Fiztgerald has whole lines in his Ags translators; and it is an illustration of the ignorance in England of the successes achieved by Americans in this direction, that Mr. Brooks's works of this series are there so little recognized. Another remarkable American translator from the German is Charles G. Leland, whose version of Heine's Reisebilder under the name of Pictures of Travel is so extraordinarily graphic and at the same time so literal that it ought of itself to achieve a permanent fame for the author of Hans Breitmann.
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book, XVIII (search)
e less well; the relative position of Dr. Channing, for instance, has changed a good deal within fifty years, and so has that of Henry Clay; but in the end the scale settles itself and remains tolerably permanent. And there is this advantage in a hierarchy of intellect and public service thus established, that it does not awaken the antagonism which follows an hereditary aristocracy; and that if the sons of these eminent persons do not distinguish themselves, they are simply ignored and passed by, whereas under a hereditary aristocracy their high position may be a curse to the community. This Westminster Abbey of the newspapers excites no such feelings as Heine confesses himself to have experienced among the graves of the crowned heads at Westminster Abbey in London. He tells us that he did not grudge the eighteen pence he had paid to see them; but told the verger that he was delighted with his exhibition, and would willingly have paid as much more to see the collection complete.
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book, XXII (search)
to Englishmen and Frenchmen; and was profoundly moved on receiving the first French version of his Faust, from the thought of the profound influence exercised by Voltaire and his great contemporaries over him as over the whole civilized world. Humbler men are constantly obliged to recognize how they themselves have been fed and nourished by those lowlier still; and we may be very sure that the greatest are formed in the same way, and draw from many obscure and even inexplicable sources, as Heine claims that he learned all the history of the French Revolution through the drumming of an old French drummer. It is obvious enough that the relative proportions of printed matter do not precisely reflect absolute merit, because they are liable to be influenced by trivial considerations, apart from personal qualities. The Man in the Iron Mask was not necessarily a great man because he occasioned an extensive literature; and Junius fills the library as an inexhaustible conundrum, whereas
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book, XXVIII (search)
ola. Among contemporary novelists, Mr. Howells places the Russian first, then the Spanish; ranking the English, and even the French, far lower. He is also said, in a recent interview, to have attributed his own style largely to the influence of Heine. But Heine himself, in the preface to his Deutschland, names as his own especial models Aristophanes, Cervantes, and Moliere —a Greek, a Spaniard, and a Frenchman. Goethe himself thinks that we cannot comprehend Calderon without Hafiz,— NurHeine himself, in the preface to his Deutschland, names as his own especial models Aristophanes, Cervantes, and Moliere —a Greek, a Spaniard, and a Frenchman. Goethe himself thinks that we cannot comprehend Calderon without Hafiz,— Nur wer Hafis liebt und kennt Weiss was Calderon gesungen,— and Fitzgerald, following this suggestion almost literally, translated Calderon first, and then Omar Khayyam. Surely, one might infer, the era of a world-literature must be approaching. Yet in looking over the schedules of our American universities, one finds as little reference to a coming world-literature as if no one had hinted at the dream. There is an immense increase of interest in the study of languages, no doubt; and all
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book, Index (search)
e, G. H., 163. Gosse, E. W., 123, 195, Gordon Julien, see Cruger. Grant, U. S., 84, 123, 155. Greeley, Horace, 27. H. Hafiz, M. S., 229, 232. Haggard, Rider, 14, 93, 197, 198, 202, 205. Hale, E. E., 101. Hamerton, P. G., 168. Hardenberg, Friedrich von, 99. Hardy, A. S., 15, 202. Haring, John, 6. Harte, Bret, 11, 57, 58. Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 9, 41, 66, 84, 124, 126, 155, 218, 219. Hayley, William, 217, 218. Hayward Memoirs, the, 82, 226. Hazlitt, William, 216. Heine, Heinrich, 90, 109, 142, 159, 189, 229. Hemans, F. D., 179. High-water marks, concerning, 97. Hogg, James, 169. Holmes, O. W., 54, 62, 67, 97, 99, 178, 205. Holt, Henry, 172. Homer, 48, 98, 114, 169, 171, 190, 217. Horace, 16, 48, 99, 114. Houghton, Lord, 19, 56, 62, 94. Howells, W. D., 13, 15, 66, 114, 118, 171, 184, 194, 201, 202, 210, 229. Howe, E. W. 11. Howe, Julia Ward, 67, 100. Hugo, Victor, 49, 56, 68, 110. Humboldt, A. von, 73, 176. Humor, American, perils of, 128.
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