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ing influence on many a wide-spread fame ; yet of Richter we will say, that he may survive much. There is in him that which does not die; that Beauty and Earnestness of soul, that spirit of Humanity, of Love and mild Wisdom, over which the vicissitudes of mode have no sway. This is that excellence of the inmost nature which alone confers immortality on writings; that charm which still, under every defacement, binds us to the pages of our own Hookers, and Taylors, and Brownes, when their way of thought has long ceased to be ours, and the most valued of their merely in. tellectual opinions have passed away, as ours too must do, with the circumstances and events in which they took their shape or rise. To men of a right mind, there may long be in Richter much that has attraction and value. In the moral desert of vulgar Literature, with its sandy wastes, and parched, bitter, and too often poisonous shrubs, the writings of this man will rise in their irregular luxuriance, like a cluster of date-trees, with its greensward and well of water, to refresh the pilgrim, in the sultry solitude, with nourishment and shade.
STATE OF GERMAN LITERATURE.*
[Edinburgh Review, 1827.]
These two books, notwithstanding their diversity of title, are properly parts of one and the same ; the Outlines,' though of prior date in regard to publication, having now assumed the character of sequel and conclusion to the larger work, of fourth volume to the other three. It is designed, of course, for the home market; yet the foreign student also will find in it a safe and valuable help, and, in spite of its imperfections, should receive it with thankfulness and good-will. Doubtless we might have wished for a keener discriminative and descriptive talent, and perhaps for a somewhat more catholic spirit, in the writer of such a history; but in their absence we have still much to praise. Horn's literary creed would, on the whole, we believe, be acknowledged by his countrymen as the true one ; and this, though it is chiefly from one immovable station that he can survey his subject, he seems heartily anxious to apply with candor and tolerance. Another improvement might have been a deeper principle of arrangement, a firmer grouping into periods and schools ; for, as it stands, the work is more a critical sketch of German Poets, than a history of German Poetry
* 1. Die Poesie und Beredsamkeit der Deutschen, von Luthers Zeit bis zur Gegenwart. Dargestellt von Franz Horn. (The Poetry and Oratory of the Germans, from Luther's Time to the Present. Exhibited by Franz Horn.) Berlin, 1822, '23, 224. 3 vols. 8vo.
2. Umrisse zur Geschichte und Kritik der schönen Literatur Deutschlands während der Jahre 1790 - 1818. (Outlines for the History and Criticism of Polite Literature in Germany, during the years 1790 – 1818.) By Franz Horn. Berlin, 1819. 8vo.
Let us not quarrel, however, with our author ; his merits as a literary historian are plain, and by no means inconsiderable. Without rivalling the almost frightful laboriousness of Bouterwek or Eichhorn, he gives creditable proofs of research and general information, and possesses a lightness in composition, to which neither of these erudite persons can well pretend. Undoubtedly he has a flowing pen, and is at home in this province; not only a speaker of the word, indeed, but a doer of the work ; having written, besides his great variety of tracts and treatises, biographical, philosophical, and critical, several very deserving works of a poetic
He is not, it must be owned, a very strong man, but he is nimble and orderly, and goes through his work with a certain gayety of heart; nay, at times, with a frolicsome alacrity which might even require to be pardoned. His character seems full of susceptibility ; perhaps too much so for its natural vigor. His novels, accordingly, to judge from the few we have read of them, verge towards the sentimental. In the present Work, in like manner, he has adopted nearly all the best ideas of his contemporaries, but with something of an undue vehemence; and he advocates the cause of religion, integrity, and true poetic taste with great heartiness and vivacity, were it not that too often his zeal outruns his prudence and insight. Thus, for instance, he declares repeatedly, in so many words, that no mortal can be a poet unless he is a Christian. The meaning here is very good; but why this phraseology? Is it not inviting the simple-minded (not to speak of scoffers, whom Horn very justly contemns,) to ask, when Homer subscribed the Thirty-nine Articles ? or whether Sadi and Hafiz were really of the Bishop of Peterborough's opinion? Again, he talks too often of representing the Infinite in the Fi. nite, of expressing the unspeakable, and such high matters. In fact, Horn's style, though extremely readable, has
one great fault; it is, to speak it in a single word, an affected style. His stream of meaning, uniformly clear and wholesome in itself, will not flow quietly along its channel ; but is ever and anon spurting up into epigram and antithetic jets. Playful he is, and kindly, and, we do believe, honest-hearted; but there is a certain snappishness in him, a frisking abruptness; and then his sport is more a perpetual giggle, than any dignified smile, or even any sufficient laugh with gravity succeeding it. This sentence is among the best we recollect of him, and will partly illustrate what
We submit it, for the sake of its import likewise, to all superfine speculators on the Reformation, in their future contrasts of Luther and Erasmus. Erasmus, says Horn, “belongs to that species of writers who have all the desire in the world to build God Almighty a magnificent church, at the same time, however, not giving the Devil any offence; to whom, accordingly, they set up a neat little chapel close by, where you can offer him some touch of sacrifice at a time, and practise a quiet household devotion for him without disturbance.' In this style of witty and conceited mirth,' considerable part of the book is written.
But our chief business at present is not with Franz Horn, or his book ; of whom, accordingly, recommending his labors to all inquisitive students of German, and himself to good estimation with all good men, we must here take leave. We have a word or two to say on that strange literature itself; concerning which our readers probably feel more curious to learn what it is, than with what skill it has been judged of.
Above a century ago, the Père Bouhours propounded to himself the pregnant question : Si un Allemand peut avoir de l'esprit ? Had the Père Bouhours bethought him of what country Kepler and Leibnitz were, or who it was that
gave to mankind the three great elements of modern civilization, Gunpowder, Printing, and the Protestant Religion, it might have thrown light on his inquiry. Had he known the Nibelungen Lied ; and where Reinecke Fuchs, and Faust, and the Ship of Fools, and four-fifths of all the popular mythology, humor, and romance, to be found in Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, took its rise ; had he read a page or two of Ulrich Hutten, Opitz, Paul Flemming, Logau, or even Lohenstein and Hoffmannswaldau, all of whom had already lived and written in his day; had the Père Bouhours taken this trouble, — who knows but he might have found, with whatever amazement, that a German could actually have a little esprit, or perhaps even something better? No such trouble was requisite for the Père Bouhours. Motion in vacuo is well known to be speedier and surer than through a resisting medium, especially to imponderous bodies; and so the light Jesuit, unimpeded by facts or principles of any kind, failed not to reach his conclusion; and, in a comfortable frame of mind, to decide, negatively, that a German could not have any lite
Thus did the Père Bouhours evince that he had pleasant wit;' but in the end he has paid dear for it. The French, themselves, have long since begun to know something of the Germans, and something also of their own critical Daniel ; and now it is by this one untimely joke that the hapless Jesuit is doomed to live ; for the blessing of full oblivion is denied him, and so he hangs, suspended in his own noose, over the dusky pool which he struggles toward, but for a great while will not reach. Might his fate but serve as a warning to kindred men of wit, in regard to this and so many other subjects ! For surely the pleasure of despising, at all times and in itself a dangerous luxury, is much safer after the toil of examining than before it.