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with England and France--there may now probably be found the greater part of the generous knowledge and earnest meditation extant on earth. But Oxford and Cambridge, with perhaps more wealth than all the German professors together, certainly do not contain six men who have added a jot to human knowledge, except in the physical sciences; and not more than two or three, if so many, whose names Europe has ever heard of in any department. The monastic spirit of these establishments cannot be expected to produce better fruits; and we must rather pity than blame the individual men, the victims of a system that they fancy themselves bound to defend.

As the total result of these causes and revolutions on the banks of the Rhine and Elbe, what do we find? A modern German literature no doubt, which lies before us and around us, and is studied as the modern French and modern Italian by those who have a taste for polite accomplishments. Something more, however, there is than this. These German books are not merely in a language of their own, but have a whole physiognomy and character distinct, original; not only very unlike either our own or any other writings, but also, perhaps, of a deeper, wider kind. What then, we would ask, is the word -for there must be one-which more nearly than all others expresses the specific character of the more celebrated German writers during the last half or threequarters of a century? Let us try some of the more popular solutions:

Is it homeliness?

No, they are not more homely than Goldsmith, or Crabbe, or Walter Scott; not more even than Theocritus or Homer. But they combine homeliness with a higher somewhat, which we hardly find elsewhere in this connection.

Is it affectionateness?

Scarcely this either; though it is true that their philosophers recognize, and their poets delineate, a warmth and fulness of the feelings, and not merely of the passions, such as other modern writers do not attempt, except in spasms of sentimental exaggeration. But this is not universal in these foreign works, and is not peculiar to them: Shakspeare and Cervantes, Dante, Boccaccio, and Montaigne, abound in the same tone, which is also the familiar music of much of the ancient classical literature.

Is it then mysticism?

be found in the greater part of the poems of Goethe and Schiller. Popularly speak. ing, the word means nothing but obscurity; which, except so far as everything worth understanding requires pains to understand it, is as little a fault of the German writers, excluding Novalis, as of any in all literature. A ystic is properly a man who does not seek to bring his own higher feelings and convictions into as much intellectual clearness as they are capable of, but loves the solemn gloom of indistinct emotion too well to approach it with conscious reflection. In this sense there are perhaps no men having a deep faith of heart so little chargeable with mysticism as the more eminent of the German philosophers and even poets.

Is it, then, perhaps the opposite of mysticism, reflection, which distinguishes these men from the guides of other nations?

This, more nearly than any of the other characteristics we have tried, might seem to fulfil the purpose. M. Guizot has somewhere stated it as the blame of German literature, that reflection is too prominent and general in its productions; that there is not a sufficiently clear, direct represen tation, of the outward realities of life. But though there is more of large and accurate meditation in these works than in any other contemporary masterpieces, neither can this be styled their main distinction. We find it indeed as a most important element in their poetic works. But it cannot, at all events, characterize their philosophy; for that must always be entirely and purely reflective; and to say that one philosophy is more so than others, is merely to pronounce it the best. But neither is it, though conceivably of course it might be, the chief singularity of other than their philosophical treatises. There is in the mere descriptive department, in verbal landscape-painting, and the like, a clearness, completeness, and conciseness in much of the writing of these men-as Goethe and Tieck, for instance-to which we can find no parallel elsewhere; and in these two, and Schiller and Jean Paul, a true, free exhibition of varieties and greatnesses of human character, of shades and depths of emotion, which reflective thought could never have revealed to any man who had not either felt them in his heart before his head took notice of them, or found them in human life before he generalized them into a theory.

Shall we then enlarge our phrase, and say that it is knowledge in general in which

Surely in no sense of the word can this they excel?

In this also there is much plausibility. thing. There is but one. It is EarnestIf we look at their speculative writers, ness of heart. This we do conceive to be there is an extent of survey, a mastery the grand fontal characteristic of the betover the theories that all ages and coun- ter German writings, as compared with tries have produced, and the facts that those that other nations have brought these theories were designed to explain, forth during these last three-score years such as no school among any other people and ten. has had the least pretension to. Indeed, Here, perhaps, we might fitly stop. For directly to translate, or indirectly to bor- where men have equal natural gifts, and row from these men, is sufficient to ob- equal circumstances, Earnestness is all that tain in other parts of Europe, and emi- makes the difference. As to gifts, the nently among us, the somewhat danger- Teutonic race are, in force, fire, and clearous repute of engaging deeply in the ness, the masters of the modern world; strangest of forbidden pursuits-the black being indeed the conquerors of it all, and art of thinking. It is also an unquestion- founders of its medieval Christian life. able fact, that their poets have had an ac- Their circumstances, as already we have quaintance with philosophic speculation, partly seen, are not in later times less fawith the theory of criticism, with the his- vourable, but rather more so than those of tory of the fine arts, and with various lan- other countries: for they are in good guages and literatures, such as could measure exempt from all-confusing comhardly be found among those of most mercial bustle; and do not shrink under other countries. But neither can this be the tyranny of one huge feverish drunken what constitutes the clearly-felt difference metropolis; and are amply provided with between this and rival literatures. The seats of free thought-at once cause, result, difference is one too deep and fundamental proof and furtherance of this faithful nafor mere book-knowledge, however large tional earnestness. Other things being and various, to explain. The whole view equal, or even not grossly unequal, the of life, and all the little unconscious turns most earnest people will be the wisest, of feeling that meet us in every page of most melodious, most creative; and this their imaginative writings, spring from a is what we esteem the Germans to be as far other root than that either of our pop- shown in their modern books. ular bravura writing, or of encyclopedic learning.

In France all or most that is loudly written, and similarly spoken, seems designed Do we come any nearer our object in for instant effect on a vehement gregarious trying if culture will satisfy the sphinx? race. Nearer ourselves we see much of So it may seem, for culture includes a literature more for household use, and many of the elements that we have already regarded mainly as a convenience for the found in the great fact before us. Yet domestic soul. Each country also shares neither will this quite succeed. For cul- in the blessings characteristic of the other, ture will do everything for man but give and Germany in turn has enough of the him the original capacity on which it most same froth and dregs as its neighbours. successfully works. If culture were all, But it has begotten all the greatest masters how far had a Voltaire been above a Shak- of thought produced in Europe since the speare, a Gray before a Burns, a Mengs time of Rousseau; and Tieck and Schellbeyond a Correggio, a Dugald Stewart ing are still alive to represent in the flesh ahead of a Spinoza! All which is much a literature, which for compass, loftiness, and enduring beauty, for all that EarnestWe require something from which-ness must in our modern world attempt granting the due circumstances--culture, and realize, is quite unlike almost anything knowledge, and reflection, clearness and that either we or our nearest neighbours liveliness of painting, the seriousness that can boast of. will to careless eyes appear mysticism, Happily for us no great European nation the affectionateness that fills a life and has so close a relation as ourselves to these book with warmth, and the homeliness sons of the weird northern Muses. We which is the proof of real interest in all may largely gain by using those rights of the forms and conditions of human nature, kindred which they have been always proud must, as water from its fountain, rise and to insist on. For in varied tones and utbe manifest. And there is one power in terances-of calm reflection, of dramatic man, which, with proper qualities of other personification, of lyric enthusiasm, of epic kinds, and under favouring influences, will and idyllic narrative-they teach us that produce all that and every other good our human life is not only, as it must always

the reverse of true.

be, a course of hard toil and a mixture of have made those women, who carried forth broken joys and sharp sorrows, but full of their husbands as their most precious coma divine meaning, and capable of immor- modities, submit to a burden half so tal good. With deep meditative wisdom, weighty. And thus it is with all who enand in forms of many-coloured beauty, gage seriously in the task of life. Freely they set before us a lesson which England they choose, and freely perform, a work much needs, but is also most worthy to beyond the compass of all legal injunclearn. Our coarse mechanical strength is tions. For freedom is found at last to be mingled with a rich and strong element of nothing else but the willing choice of those conscience, humanity, and unwearied conditions which enable our best, most la hope, but all tortured into maimed shapes, borious powers, to exert themselves for and wrapped in thick gloom. We may the fittest ends. And this is the freedom again help towards the recovery both of towards which every noble soul feels, toils, light and beauty among the men who still and bleeds, as towards its native and only gloriously consecrate the soil we first vital element, as the plant to light and air, sprang from. There are many of us who the fish out of the net into the fresh undelight in the manifold glowing world of bounded water. This victorious effort it Shakspeare; others who have felt the tones is, which glorifies more or less every truly of eternal truth in the slow chant of great man; and above all in modern times, Wordsworth, in some piercing lyric phrase those of Germany; whose names we conof Coleridge, and in the sweet bewildered stantly hear connected with the charge of wail of Shelley. Many again have stepped irreligion, licentiousness, and whatever of more lightly over our toilsome earth in the horrible that stupid tongues can devise to presence of the bold shadows evoked from ring in stupid ears. As if profane irrethe past by Scott. All these living hearts, verence, and mad self-willed resistance to varied as are their habits and outward in- reason, could ever be the characteristic terests, will find leaders of their pilgrim- tendency of thoughtful, humane, and imaage, such as all earth beside does afford, ginative minds. There is a freedom far in the great men of modern Germany. unlike that of the escaped convict, and There is one quality of those modern consisting not in doltish disobedience, but German writers which, it may be as well in the sacred and serene obedience of love to warn unprepared readers, will strike to the highest rule of duty we can find. them with wonder and perhaps with fear. within us. Not such is the freedom securThis is nothing but that freedom to which ed by Magna Chartas, and acts of settlewe have before adverted. The greater of ment that guard us from the tyranny of those men have used their fine and robust kings, but leave us under the yoke of our faculties in looking at life and nature for next door neighbour's eyes and our newsthemselves; not in order to escape from writer's pen. Neither is there any such duty, but to fulfil it more abundantly and liberty to be obtained by the most diligent on a larger scale than custom would pre-compliance with all the precepts of ethics scribe. There is nothing more common and theology, in which the heart and than the sight of persons, the despair of strength of a man may be as much conmoralists in all ages, the fools named in fined, as his body if it were chained in a Scripture, who throw off a burden which locked church. Divine commandments they are too weak to bear bravely, and dis- are but the commandments of divines for own whatever is high and pure within them him who does not feel that in compliance that they may sink into inert mean false- with them is the only liberation of his soul ness and brutishness. But there is another from death. A man who does not feel this revolt against popular rules and laws of may be gravely wrong, but will not get opinion, having a very different aim from himself right by tying himself to the letthis. The weak man, to get rid of his ter in which he finds no spirit. The freeload, will cut off the arms to which it is dom of an earnest mind brings with it laws tied, and maim his powers to escape his as strict and holy as any in the pentateuch obligations; but the strong man who re- or the canons, but also has tenfold strength fuses to 66 carry coals" at the bidding of for the performance of the only work on others, claims only to choose his own load, earth really worthy a man. All the rest is and will bear willingly and with painful the routine of a scourged and hoodwinked fidelity a far heavier one than the public heart. Political freedom is a great blessopinion which he disobeys would haveing; but there is a still better kind known dared to lay on him. No taskmaster would only to the good and wise, and of which

Schiller and Fichte and their compeers are feeling for himself in conformity with the teachers and examples, such as Europe for near two centuries had hardly seen. Connected, not very remotely, with this matter of spiritual freedom, is the remarkable fact that while, of the population of Germany, considerably more than half are catholics, every man who has gained an immortal fame in that country as a thinker, was born and bred a protestant. As to the right of the greater number of the following names to appear in the list, there can be but onc opinion.

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Tieck

F. A. Wolf
Voss
Niebuhr
Savigny.

promptings of his own soul, and with the spirit of the times that he belonged to. If we remember that more than eighteen millions of the Germans are catholics, this protestant consent of all their strongest, deepest, and most genial minds, is perhaps as significant a fact as any that history presents. Not that it portends any triumph of Exeter Hall over the Vatican, and the Prayer-book over the Missal, but that it exhibits the emancipation of all truly great minds from the bondage of all dead traditions, by whatever name they may be trumpeted.

Strange, moreover, as it may seem, with all their heterodoxy, there are not above five or six in our whole list whose writings do not indicate a far nobler, purer feeling of religion and of duty, than can be found in our Paleys and Watsons, and scores of well-reputed correct British theologians.

We have already stated, that in our view their most remarkable quality, and indeed the root of all their merits, is moral earnestness. It has also been pointed out that this

Three of these illustrious men-one Earnestness is combined with, or seen to isStolberg, one Schlegel, and Winkelmann-sue in, a Freedom, of which the serious became catholics; the last, it is said, from minds among us have in general but little mere convenience; the former two, no conception. If now we further attempt doubt, with entire sincerity. We might, to mark by one expression the idea which perhaps, have added Werner, the dramatic pervades this literature, and the consciouspoet, as to the purity of whose motives in ness of which all sympathizing readers the same change there seems to be no must more or less obscurely derive from it, cause for doubt. But even these converts, this may be called the WORTH OF MAN. all except Winkelmann but second-rate This Worth it is which we find exhibitamong the great, were formed in the com- ed in each of the three great forms asparative freedom of protestant doctrine. sumed by the genius of the Germans-in Of the others, many, perhaps nearly all, History, Philosophy, and Poetry, History were very far from what we commonly call displays the facts of human nature; phiorthodoxy--that is, from believing that the losophy, the principles that the facts rise creeds of the reformers three hundred from and express; poetry, the symbols in years ago, or any one such document, con- which the principles are illustrated, and tains the whole and nothing but the truth, the facts more compendiously and vividly as to man's spiritual constitution and desti- reproduced. In all these departments ny. But though mostly heretics in the alike, the Worth of Man, the fellow-feeleyes of synods and consistories, and of our ing that we owe, and the labour that the bench of bishops, they were generally far construction of our life requires and demore completely removed from any allegi- serves, are shown with a settled strength ance to the doctrine of the schoolmen or and complete beauty far beyond the pitch to that of the fathers; and the mere artist- of any other writings we know but those ic and romantic admiration felt by some of the Greeks, and superior even to them of them for the times of legend and mira- in depth and compass. We do not forget cle, was only similar in kind to that which Dante and Ariosto, Cervantes and Caldethey cherished for the mythological beauty ron, Shakspeare and Milton; but among of early Greece, and even of ancient In- the Germans we have a whole literature, dia. Except the two or three persons just and not merely one or two great minds— mentioned, whose history is not very hard we have vast regions of philosophy and of explanation, there was not one of these history almost unknown, and altogether men who would not rather have sacrificed unsurveyed, by any other nation. And his life than the liberty of believing and even their poets, being much the latest

that the world has produced with anything | if not mean and bad, yet small and frivolike equal powers, have, though certainly lous. Our writers on such subjects, often not an absolute superiority to all their predecessors, yet an extent of knowledge, and, above all, a suitableness for us in this age, which earlier ones could not possibly be endowed with.

But in history and philosophy (i. e. what is commonly called metaphysics) the higher dignity with which man appears than that which our popular authors allow him, is far more strikingly manifest. The ancient world especially has been as good as reconquered for us from waste darkness by the race of scholars, with Wolf, the critic of Homer, at their head, whose works are beginning, either by vague rumour or small samples, to make their way into England. Niebuhr, at least, we all know, has re-constructed for us that old, stern, half-Etruscan Rome, which had lain so long buried under the ruins of her own later empire, and chronicled only in supernatural, that is unnatural, legends. Το him Man, as he trod five-and-twenty centuries ago the banks of the obscure and marshy Tiber, was still so venerable and dear an image, that a whole laborious life might be well spent in tracing out his faintest footsteps, and deepening the slightest outlines of his story, till ages that seemed as completely lost as if they had belonged to some anterior planet, and whose place had for two thousand years been supplied by fantastic. fables, stood again before us with the breath of life, and there, instead of a shapeless cloud, was Rome resurgent "in all her panoply." But it is less this result with which we are now concerned, than the spirit of sincere faith, the feeling of the Worth of Man in his historical no less than his present existence, which makes Niebuhr so remarkable to us, and which has made his fellow historians and philologers a race so different from the earlier verbal pedants and all-believing devourers of old books. If the mythology and history, the thoughts and beliefs of the classical world, and especially of ancient Greece, have a living interest, and coherent intelligible subsistence for us, we owe it to such men as Niebuhr, Wolf, Voss, K. O. Müller, who have penetrated with their sharp eyes and glowing enthusiasm into the tangled, thorny, fruitless wilderness, the sacred haunt of ghosts and schoolmasters.

with the best purpose, but ill-placed and stunted by the tendencies of the world they lived in, like their French contemporaries only sought for the most part to analyze some separate faculty or thing that they found in man. The Germans took another road-made philosophy properly constructive, and sought to ascertain and consecrate laws around and above us, from which we and all things spring and become intelligible--and not merely to use the tools of the workshop within us in taking those tools to pieces. The aim of the Germans is at least the nobler one, and elevates, not dwarfs, the soul of him who makes them his masters. There is a godlike within us that feels itself akin to the gods; and if we are told that both the godlike and the gods are dreams, we can but answer that so to dream is better than to wake and find ourselves nothing.

There is one remark which reflections of this kind are almost certain to call forth in a large and respectable class of persons among us, viz., that to assert the Worth of Man is an arrogant delusion, and one that puffs up men with vanity. But this objection implies the absurd mistake of supposing that the loftier the standard by which we judge ourselves, the more and not the less nearly shall we seem to reach its full height. What is all that is held most holy-what all the godlike men whom religious tradition canonizes and glorifies— but forms of a divine idea ever to be kept before us, and approached, though in each individual most imperfectly realized? And when in other words we speak of the Worth of Man, which philosophy explains, history displays in action, and poetry sings of and makes visible to the soul, we but declare that there is a greatness of human nature which rebukes the littleness of each, and yet is the common blessing and support of us all. It is not those that think most lowly of themselves who will protest loudest against the assertors of the experienced and still possible Worth of Man. We have already sufficiently declared that we hold the great German writers to be the chief teachers of this lesson in the present age; and we wish nothing better than that our readers may not take our word for the fact, but examine it seriously for themselves. We believe no one ever Thus also it is with philosophy, which thoughtfully studied these masters of moin England and France has long attempted dern thought without finding in them little more than to explain away whatever more and more of what is best for all is awful and divine in man, into something, men.

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