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wise the Poetical susceptibility and faculty of the people, their Fancy, Humour, Imagination, wherein lie the main elements of spiritual life, will no longer be left uncultivated, barren, or bearing only spontaneous thistles, but in new and finer harmony with an improved Understanding, will flourish in new vigour; and in our inward world there will again be a sunny Firmament and verdant Earth, as well as a Pantry and culinary Fire; and men will learn not only to recapitulate and compute, but to worship, to love; in tears or in laughter, hold mystical as well as logical communion with the high and the low of this wondrous Universe ; and read, as they should live, with their whole being. Of which glorious consummation there is at all times, seeing these endowments are indestructible, nay essentially supreme in man, the firmest ulterior certainty, but, for the present, only faint prospects and far-off indications. Time brings Roses !

TAYLOR'S HISTORIC SURVEY OF GERMAN

POETRY.1

[1831.] GERMAN Literature has now for upwards of half a century been making some way in England; yet by no means at a constant rate, rather in capricious flux and reflux, deluge alternating with desiccation: never would it assume such moderate, reasonable currency, as promised to be useful and lasting. The history of its progress here would illustrate the progress of more important things; would again exemplify what obstacles a new spiritual object, with its mixture of truth and of falsehood, has to encounter from unwise enemies, still more from unwise friends ; how dross is mistaken for metal, and common ashes are solemnly labelled as fell poison ; how long, in such cases, blind Passion must vociferate before she can awaken Judgment; in short, with what tumult, vicissitude and protracted difficulty, a foreign doctrine adjusts and locates itself among the homeborn. Perfect ignorance is quiet, perfect knowledge is quiet; not so the transition from the former to the latter. In a vague, all-exaggerating twilight of wonder, the, new has to fight its battle with the old ; Hope has to settle accounts with Fear: thus the scales strangely waver ; public opinion, which is as yet baseless, fluctuates without limit; periods of foolish admiration and foolish execration must elapse, before that of true inquiry and zeal according to knowledge can begin.

1 EDINBURGH REVIEW, No. 105. - Historic Survey of German Poetry, interspersed with various Translations. By W. Taylor, of Norwich. 3 vols. 8vo. London, 1830.

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Thirty years ago, for example, a person of influence and understanding thought good to emit such a proclamation as the following : • Those ladies, who take the lead in society, • are loudly called upon to act as guardians of the public • taste as well as of the public virtue. They are called upon, • therefore, to oppose, with the whole weight of their influence, the irruption of those swarms of Publications now • daily issuing from the banks of the Danube, which, like their ravaging predecessors of the darker ages, though • with far other and more fatal arms, are overrunning civ‘ilised society. Those readers, whose purer taste has been • formed on the correct models of the old classic school, see

with indignation and astonishment the Huns and Vandals once more overpowering the Greeks and Romans. They • behold our minds, with a retrograde but rapid motion, • hurried back to the reign of Chaos and old Night, by distorted and unprincipled Compositions, which, in spite of strong flashes of genius, unite the taste of the Goths with • the morals of Bagshot.' - · The newspapers announce that • Schiller's Tragedy of the Robbers, which inflamed the young • nobility of Germany to enlist themselves into a band of • highwaymen to rob in the forests of Bohemia, is now acting • in England by persons of quality!’1 Whether our fair Amazons, at sound of this alarm-trumpet,

in array of war to discomfit those invading Compositions, and snuff-out the lights of that questionable private theatre, we have not learned ; and see only that, if so, their campaign was fruitless and needless. Like the old Northern Immigrators, those new Paper Goths marched on resistless whither they were bound; some to honour, some to dishonour, the most to oblivion and the impalpable inane; and no weapon or artillery, not even the glances of bright eyes, but only the omnipotence of Time, could tame and assort them. Thus, Kotzebue's truculent armaments, once so threatening,

drew up

1 Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education. By Hannah More. The Eighth Edition, p. 41.

all turned out to be mere Phantasms and Night-apparitions ; and so rushed onwards, like some Spectre-Hunt, with loud howls indeed, yet hurrying nothing into Chaos but themselves. While again, Schiller's Tragedy of the Robbers, which did not inflame either the young or the old nobility of Germany to rob in the forests of Bohemia, or indeed to do anything, except perhaps yawn a little less, proved equally innocuous in England, and might still be acted without offence, could living individuals, idle enough for that end, be met with here. Nay, this same Schiller, not indeed by Robbers, yet by Wallensteins, by Maids of Orleans, and Wilhelm Tells, has actually conquered for himself a fixed dominion among us, which is yearly widening; round which other German kings, of less intrinsic prowess, and of greater, are likewise erecting thrones. And yet, as we perceive, civilised society still stands in its place; and the public taste, as well as the public virtue, live on, though languidly, as before. For, in fine, it has become manifest that the old Cimmerian Forest is now quite felled and tilled ; that the true Children of Night, whom we have to dread, dwell not on the banks of the Danube, but nearer hand.

Could we take our progress in knowledge of German Literature since that diatribe was written, as any measure of our progress in the science of Criticism, above all, in the grand science of national Tolerance, there were some reason for satisfaction. With regard to Germany itself, whether we yet stand on the right footing, and know at last how we are to live in profitable neighbourhood and intercourse with that country ; or whether the present is but one other of those capricious tides, which also will have its reflux, may seem doubtful : meanwhile, clearly enough, a rapidly growing favour for German Literature comes to light; which favour too is the more hopeful, as it now grounds itself on better knowledge, on direct study and judgment. Our knowledge is better, if only because more general. Within the last ten years, independent readers of German have multiplied per

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VOL. II.

cance.

haps a hundredfold ; so that now this acquirement is almost expected as a natural item in liberal education. Hence, in a great number of minds, some immediate personal insight into the deeper significance of German Intellect and Art; everywhere, at least a feeling that it has some such signifi

With independent readers, moreover, the writer ceases to be independent, which of itself is a considerable step. Our British Translators, for instance, have long been unparalleled in modern literature, and, like their country, the envy of surrounding nations : ' but now there are symptoms that, even in the remote German province, they must no longer range quite at will; that the butchering of a Faust will henceforth be accounted literary homicide, and practitioners of that quality must operate on the dead subject only. While there are Klingemanns and Claurens in such abundance, let no merely ambitious, or merely hungry Interpreter fasten on Goethes and Schillers. Remark too, with satisfaction, how the old-established British Critic now feels that it has become unsafe to speak delirium on this subject; wherefore he prudently restricts himself to one of two courses: either to acquire some understanding of it, or, which is the still surer course, altogether to hold his peace. Hence freedom from much babble that was wont to be oppressive : probably no watchhorn with such a note as that of Mrs. More’s can again be sounded, by male or female Dogberry, in these Islands. Again, there is no one of our younger, more vigorous Periodicals, but has its German craftsman, gleaning what he can : we have seen Jean Paul quoted in English Newspapers. Nor, among the signs of improvement, at least of extended curiosity, let us omit our British Foreign Reviews, a sort of merchantmen that regularly visit the Continental, especially the German Ports, and bring back such ware as luck yields them, with the hope of better. Last, not least among our evidences of Philo-Germanism, here is a whole Historic Survey of German Poetry, in three sufficient octavos ; and this not merely in the eulogistic and

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