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M. Mora. So she goes on,-most furiously and outrageously in love with them both at the same time,-till the death of M. Mora, in 1774. This event, however, makes no difference in her feelings or expressions; she continues to love his memory, just as ardently as his living successor in her affection; and her letters are divided, as before, between expressions of heart-rending grief and unbounded attachment-between her besoin de mourir for M. Mora, and her delight in living for M. Guibert. There are still more inexplicable things in those letters. None of Guibert's letters are given, so that we cannot see how he responded to all these raptures; but, from the very first, or almost from the first, she complains bitterly of his coldness and dissipation; laments that he has a heart incapable of tenderness; and that he feels nothing but gratitude or compassion for a being whom he had fascinated, exalted, and possessed with the most ardent and unbounded passion. We cannot say that we see any clear traces of her ever having hoped, or even wished that he should marry her. On the contrary, she recommends several wives to him; and at last he takes one, with her approbation and consent, while the correspondence goes on in the same tone as before. The vehemence and excess of her passion continue to the last of the letters here published, which come down to within a few weeks of her death, in 1776.
The account which we have here given pears ridiculous: and there are people, and wise people, who, even after looking into the book, will think Mademoiselle de Lespinasse deserving of nothing but ridicule, and consign her and her ravings to immeasurable contempt. Gentle spirits, however, will judge more gently; and there are few, we believe, who feel interest enough in the work to read it through, who will not lay it down with emotions of admiration and profound compassion. Even if we did not know that she was the chosen companion of D'Alembert, and the respected friend of Turgot, Condillac, Condorcet, and the first characters in France, there are, in the strange book before us, such traces of a powerful, generous, and ardent mind, as necessarily to command the respect even of those who may be provoked with her inconsistencies, and wearied out with the vehemence of her sorrow. There is something so natural too, so eloquent, and so pathetic in her expression-a tone of ardour and enthusiasm so infectious, and so much of the true and agonizing voice of heart-struck wretchedness, that it burdens us with something of the weight of a real sorrow; and we are glad to make ourselves angry at her unaccountableness, in order to get rid of the oppression. It ought to be recollected also, that during the whole course of the correspondence, this poor young woman was dying of a painful and irritating disease. Tortured with sickness, or agitated with opium, her blood never seems in all that time to have flowed peaceably in her veins, and her nerves and her passions seem to have reacted upon each other in a series of cruel agitations. Why she is so very
wretched, and so very angry, we do not indeed always understand; but there is no mistaking the language and real emotion; and while there is something wearisome, perhaps, in the uniformity of a vehemence of which we do not clearly see the cause, there is something truly déchirant in the natural and piteous iteration of her eloquent complainings, and something captivating and noble in the fire and rapidity with which she pours out her emotions. The style is as original and extraordinary as the character of its author. It is quite natural, and even negligent-altogether without gaiety or assumed dignity-and yet full of elegance and spirit, and burning with the flames of a heart abandoned to passion, and an imagination exalted by enthusiasm. It is not easy to fall into the measure of such a composer, in running over a miscellany of amusement; but we cannot avoid adding a few extracts, if it were only to make what we have been saying intelligible, to some at least of our readers.
"Je me sentois une répugnance mortelle à ouvrir votre lettre: si je n'avois craint de vous offenser, j'allois vous la renvoyer. Quelque chose me disoit qu'elle irriteroit mes maux, et je voulois me méaffaisse mon ame: j'ai encore eu la fièvre; je n'ai La souffrance continuelle de mon corps pas fermé l'œil; je n'en puis plus. De grace, par pitié, ne tourmentez plus une vie qui s'éteint, et dont tous les instans sont dévoués à la douleur et aux regrets. Je ne vous accuse point, je n'exige rien, ap-vous ne me devez rien: car, en effet, je n'ai pas eu senti; et quand j'ai eu le malheur d'y céder, j'ai un mouvement, pas un sentiment auquel j'ai contoujours détesté la force, ou la foiblesse, qui m'entrainoit. Vous voyez que vous ne me devez aucune reconnaissance, et que je n'ai le droit de vous faire aucun reproche. Soyez donc libre, retournez à ce que vous aimez, et à ce qui vous convient plus que leur; laissez-moi m'occuper sans distraction du seul vous ne croyez peut-être. Laissez-moi à ma douobjet que j'ai adoré, et dont le souvenir m'est plus cher que tout ce qui reste dans la nature. Mon Dieu! je ne devrois pas le pleurer; j'aurois dû le suivre: c'est vous qui me faites vivre, qui faites le tourment d'une créature que la douleur consume, la mort. Ah! vous en faites trop, et pas assez pour et qui emploie ce qui lui reste de forces à invoquer moi. Je vous le disois bien il y a huit jours, vous me rendez difficile, exigeante en donnant tout, on veut obtenir quelque chose. Mais, encore une fois, je vous pardonne, et je ne vous hais point: ce n'est pas par générosité que je vous pardonne, ce n'est pas par bonté que je ne vous hais pas; c'est que mon ame est lasse, qu'elle meurt de fatigue. Ah! mon ami, laissez-moi, ne me dites plus que vous m'aimez: ce baume devient du poison; vous calmez et déchirez ma plaie tour à tour. Oh! que vous aime pourtant, et que je serois désolée de mettre de me faites mal que la vie me pèse! que je vous la tristesse dans votre ame! Mon ami, elle est trop partagée, trop dissipée, pour que le vrai plaisir y puisse pénétrer. Vous voulez que je vous voie ce soir; et bien, venez done!"-Vol. ii. pp. 206-208. "Combien de fois aurois-je pu me plaindre; combien de fois vous ai-je caché mes larmes! Ah! je mener un cœur qui est entraîné par un autre penle vois trop bien: on ne sauroit ni retenir, ni rachant; je me le dis sans cesse, quelquefois je me crois guérie; vous paroissez, et tout est détruit. La réflexion, mes résolutions, le malheur, fout perd sa force au premier mot que vous prononcez. Je malheureux ne l'a invoquée avec plus d'ardeur. ne vois plus d'asile que la mort, et jamais aucun Je retiens la moitié de mon ame: sa chaleur, son mouvement vous importuneroit, et vous éteindroit
tout-à-fait; le feu qui n'échauffe pas, incommode. the heart; and, when we think that this exAh! si vous saviez, si vous lisiez comme j'ai fait traordinary woman wrote all this, not in the ai faith jouir une ame forte et passionnée, du plaisir d'être aimée! Il comparoit ce qui l'avoit aimé, ce qui l'aimoit encore, et il me disoit sans cesse: Oh! elles ne sont pas dignes d'être vos écolières; votre ame a été chauffée par le soleil de Lima, et mes compatriotes semblent être nées sous les glaces de la Laponie.' Et c'étoit de Madrid qu'il me mandoit cela! Mon ami, il ne me louoit pas; il jouissoit; et je ne crois point me louer, quand je vous dis qu'en vous aimant à la folie, je ne vous donne que ce que je ne puis pas garder ou retenir."-Vol. ii. Pp. 215-217.
days of impatient youth, when the heart is strong for suffering, and takes a strange delight in the vehemence even of its painful emotions, but after years of misery, and with death before her eyes-advancing by gradual but visible steps, it is impossible not to feel an indescribable emotion of pity, resentment, and admiration. One little word more.
"Oh! que vous pesez sur mon cœur, lorsque vôtre! Je ne me plaindrois jamais, mais vous me vous voulez me prouver qu'il doit être content du forcez souvent à crier, tant le mal que vous me faites est aigu et profond! Mon ami, j'ai été aimée, je le suis encore, et je meurs de regret en pensant que ce n'est pas de vous. J'ai beau me dire que je ne méritai jamais le bonheur que je regrette; mon dit que, si je dus jamais être aimée, c'étoit de celui cœur cette fois fait taire mon amour-propre il me qui auroit assez de charme à mes yeux, pour me distraire de M. de M... après l'avoir perdu. Je n'ai fait que languir depuis ..., et pour me retenir à la vie, france: le mal de mon ame passe à mon corps; j'ai votre départ; je n'ai pas été une heure sans soufpas le plus habile de tous les hommes, me répète tous les jours la fièvre, et mon médecin, qui n'est sans cesse que je suis consumée de chagrin, que leur active; et il s'en va toujours en me disant : mon pouls, que ma respiration annoncent une dounous n'avons point de remède pour l'ame. Il n'y en mais me calmer, mais retrouver quelques momens a plus pour moi: ce n'est pas guérir que je voudrois, de repos pour me conduire à celui que la nature m'accordera bientôt."-Vol. iii. pp. 146, 147.
"Je n'ai plus assez de force pour mon ame-elle me faire souffrir. Ne tachez donc plus à me consome tue. Vous ne pouvez plus rien sur moi, que ler, et cessez de vouloir me faire le victime de votre morale, après m'avoir fait celle de votre légèreté.— Vous ne m'avez pas vue, parce que la journée n'a remplir par des intérêts et des plaisirs qui vous sont, que douze heures, et que vous aviez de quoi les et qui doivent vous être plus chers que mon malheur. Je ne réclame rien, je n'exige rien, et je me dis sans cesse que la source de mon bonheur et de mon plaisir est perdu pour jamais."-Vol. iii. p. 59.
Oh, mon Dieu! que l'on vit fort lorsqu'on est mort à tout, excepté à un objet qui est l'univers pour nous, et qui s'empare tellement de toutes nos facultés, qu'il n'est plus possible de vivre dans d'autres temps que dans le moment où l'on est Eh! comment voulez-vous que je vous dise vous aimerai dans trois mois? Comment pourroisje, avec ma pensée, me distraire de mon sentiVous voudriez que, lorsque je vous vois, lorsque votre présence charme mes sens et mon ame, je pusse vous rendre compte de l'effet que je recevrai de votre mariage; mon ni, je n'en sais rien, mais rien du tout. S'il me guérissoit, je vous le dirois, et vous êtes assez juste pour ne m'en pas blâmer. Si, au contraire, il portoit le désespoir dans mon ame, je ne me plaindrois pas, et je souffrirois bien peu de temps. Alors vous seriez assez sensible et assez délicat pour approuver un parti qui ne vous coûteroit que des regrets passagers, et dont votre nouvelle situation vous distrairoit bien vîte; et je vous assure que cette pensée est consolante pour moi je m'en sens plus libre. Ne me demandez donc plus ce que je ferai lorsque vous aurez engagé votre vie à une autre. Si je n'avois que de la vanité et de l'amour-propre, je serois bien plus éclairée sur ce que j'éprouverai alors. Il n'y a guère de méprise aux calculs de l'amour-propre; il prévoit assez juste: la passion n'a point d'avenir; ainsi en vous disant: je vous aime, je vous dis tout ce que je sais et tout ce que je sens.-Oh! mon ami, je me sens capable de tout, excepté de plier: j'aurois la force d'un martyr, pour satisfaire ma passion ou celle de la personne qui m'aimeroit: mais je ne trouve rien en moi qui me réponde de pouvoir jamais faire le sacrifice de mon sentiment. La vie n'est rien en comparaison, et vous verrez si ce ne sont là que les discours d'une tête exaltée. Oui, peut-être ce sont là les pensées d'une ame exaltée, mais à laquelle appartiennent les actions fortes. Seroit-ce à la raison qui est si prévoyante, si foible dans ses vues, et même si impuissante dans ses moyens, que ces pensées pourroient appartenir? Mon ami, je ne suis point raisonnable, et c'est peut-être à force d'être passionnée que j'ai mis toute ma vie tant de raison à tout ce qui est soumis au jugement et à l'opinion des indifferens. Combien j'ai usurpé d'éloges sur ma modération, sur ma noblesse d'ame, sur mon désintéressement, sur les sacrifices prétendus que je faisois à une mémoire respectable et chère, et à la maison d'Alb....! Voilà comme le monde juge, comme il voit! Eh, bon Dieu! sots que vous êtes, je ne mérite pas vos louanges: mon ame n'étoit pas faite pour les petits intérêts qui vous occupent; toute entière au bonheur d'aimer et d'être, aimé il ne m'a fallu ni force, ni honnêteté pour supporter la pauvreté, et pour dédaigner les avantages de la vanité. J'ai tant joui, j'ai si bien senti le prix de la vie, que s'il falloit recommencer, je voudrois que ce fut aux mêmes conditions. Aimer et souffrir le ciel, l'enfer, voilà à quoi je me dévouerois, voilà
questions. Il peint la Czarine, non pas comme une
mates; qui sont prodigieux, à ce qu'on dit. Quand
drois habiter; et non cet état tempéré dans lequel vivent tous les sots et tous les automates dont nous sommes environnés."-Vol. ii. pp. 228-233.
ce que je voudrois sentir, voilà le climat que je vou-rées. Presque personne n'a besoin d'être aimé, et cela est bien heureux: car c'est ce qui se fait le plus mal à Paris. Ils osent dire qu'ils aiment; et ils sont calmes et dissipés! c'est assurément bien connoître le sentiment et la passion. Pauvres gens! bien jolis, bien gentils, bien aimables. Adieu, mon il faut les louer comme les Liliputiens: ils sont ami.”—Vol. ii. pp. 197, 198.
All this is raving no doubt; but it is the raving of real passion, and of a lofty and powerful spirit. It is the eloquent raving of
painful impressions; and shall add just one
We have left ourselves no room to make any reflections; except, only, that the French fashion of living, and almost of dying, in public, is nowhere so strikingly exemplified, as in the letters of this victim of passion and of fancy. While her heart is torn with the most agonizing passions, and her thoughts turned hourly on suicide, she dines out, and makes visits every day; and, when she is
visibly within a few weeks of her end, and is wasted with coughs and spasms, she still has her salon filled twice a day with company, and drags herself out to supper with all the countesses of her acquaintance. There is a great deal of French character, indeed, in both the works of which we now take our leave;-a great deal to admire, and to wonder at-but very little, we think, to envy.
Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship: a Novel.
From the German of GOETHE. 3 vols. 12mo. pp. 1030. Edinburgh: 1824.
before judgment, warmth of feeling before correct reasoning-and splendid declamation and broad humour before delicate simplicity or refined wit. In the arts again, the progress is strictly analagous-from mere monstrosity to ostentatious displays of labour and design, first in massive formality, and next in fantas
and then, through the gradations of startling contrasts and overwrought expression, to the repose and simplicity of graceful nature.
THERE are few things that at first sight appear more capricious and unaccountable, than the diversities of national taste; and yet there are not many, that, to a certain extent at least, admit of a clearer explanation. They form evidently a section in the great chapter of National Character; and, proceeding on the assumption, that human nature is everywheretical minuteness, variety, and flutter of parts; fundamentally the same, it is not perhaps very difficult to indicate, in a general way, the circumstances which have distinguished it into so many local varieties. These may be divided into two great classes, the one embracing all that relates to the newness or antiquity of the society to which they belong, or, in other words, to the stage which any particular nation has attained in that great progress from rudeness to refinement, in which all are engaged;-the other comprehending what may be termed the accidental causes by which the character and condition of communities may be affected; such as their government, their relative position as to power and civilization to neighbouring countries, their prevailing occupations, determined in some degree by the capabilities of their soil and climate, and more than all perhaps, as to the question of taste, the still more accidental circumstance of the character of their first models of excellence, or the kind of merit by which their admiration and national vanity had first been excited.
These considerations alone explain much of that contrariety of taste by which different nations are distinguished. They not only start in the great career of improvement at different times, but they advance in it with different velocities-some lingering longer in one stage than another-some obstructed and some helped forward, by circumstances operating on them from within or from without. It is the unavoidable consequence, however, of their being in any one particular position, that they will judge of their own productions and those of their neighbours, according to that standard of taste which belongs to the place they then hold in this great circle;— and that a whole people will look on their neighbours with wonder and scorn, for admiring what their own grandfathers looked on with equal admiration,-while they themselves are scorned and vilified in return, for tastes which will infallibly be adopted by the grandchildren of those who despise them.
It is needless to illustrate these obvious sources of peculiarity at any considerable length. It is not more certain, that all primitive communities proceed to civilization by nearly the same stages, than that the progress of taste is marked by corresponding gradations, and may, in most cases, be distinguished into periods, the order and succession of which is nearly as uniform and determined. If tribes of savage men always proceed, under ordinary circumstances, from the occupation of hunting to that of pasturage, from that to agriculture, and from that to commerce and manufactures, the sequence is scarcely less invariable in the history of letters and art. In the former, verse is uniformly antecedent to prose-marvellous legends to correct history-exaggerated sentiments to just representations of nature. Invention, in short, regularly comes
What we have termed the accidental causes of great differences in beings of the same nature, do not of course admit of quite so simple an exposition. But it is not in reality more difficult to prove their existence and explain their operation. Where great and degrading despotisms have been early established, either by the aid of superstition or of mere force, as in most of the states of Asia, or where small tribes of mixed descent have been engaged in perpetual contention for freedom and superiority, as in ancient Greecewhere the ambition and faculties of individuals have been chained up by the institution of castes and indelible separations, as in India and Egypt, or where all men practise all occupations and aspire to all honours, as in Germany or Britain-where the sole occupation
of the people has been war, as in infant Rome, or where a vast pacific population has been for ages inured to mechanical drudgery, as in China-it is needless to say, that very opposite notions of what conduces to delight and amusement must necessarily prevail; and that the Taste of the nation must be affected both by the sentiments which it has been taught to cultivate, and the capacities it has been led to unfold.
The influence of early models, however, is perhaps the most considerable of any; and may be easily enough understood. When men have been accustomed to any particular kind of excellence, they naturally become good judges of it, and account certain considerable degrees of it indispensable,-while they are comparatively blind to the merit of other good qualities to which they had been less habituated, and are neither offended by their absence, nor at all skilful in their estimation. Thus those nations who, like the English and the Dutch, have been long accustomed to great cleanliness and order in their persons and dwellings, naturally look with admiration on the higher displays of those qualities, and are proportionally disgusted by their neglect; while they are apt to undervalue mere pomp and stateliness, when destitute of these recommendations: and thus also the Italians and Sicilians, bred in the midst of dirt and magnificence, are curiously alive to the beauties of architecture and sculpture, and make but litle account of the more homely comforts which are so highly prized by the others. In the same way, if a few of the first successful adventurers in art should have excelled in any particular qualities, the taste of their nation will naturally be moulded on that standard-will regard those qualities almost exclusively as entitled to admiration, and will not only consider the want of them as fatal to all pretensions to excellence, but will unduly despise and undervalue other qualities, in themselves not less valuable, but with which their national models had not happened to make them timeously familiar. If, for example, the first great writers in any country should have distinguished themselves by a pompous and severe regularity, and a certain elaborate simplicity of design and execution, it will naturally follow, that the national taste will not only become critical and rigorous as to those particulars, but will be proportionally deadened to the merit of vivacity, nature, and invention, when combined with irregularity, homeliness, or confusion. While, if the great patriarchs of letters had excelled in variety and rapidity of invention, and boldness and truth of sentiment, though poured out with considerable disorder and incongruity of manner, those qualities would quickly come to be the national criterion of merit, and the correctness and decorum of the other school be despised, as mere recipes for monotony and
These, we think, are the plain and certain effects of the peculiar character of the first great popular writers of all countries. But still we do not conceive that they depend al
together on any thing so purely accidental as the temperament or early history of a few individuals. No doubt the national taste of France and of England would at this moment have been different, had Shakespeare been a Frenchman, and Boileau and Racine written in English. But then, we do not think that Shakespeare could have been a Frenchman; and we conceive that his character, and that of other original writers, though no doubt to be considered on the whole as casual, must yet have been modified to a great extent by the circumstances of the countries in which they were bred. It is plain that no original force of genius could have enabled Shakespeare to write as he had done, if he had been born and bred among the Chinese or the Peruvians. Neither do we think that he could have done so, in any other country but England-free, sociable, discursive, reformed, familiar England-whose motley and mingling population not only presented "every change of manycoloured life" to his eye, but taught and permitted every class, from the highest to the lowest, to know and to estimate the feelings and the habits of all the others and thus enabled the gifted observer not only to deduce the true character of human nature from this infinite variety of experiments and examples, but to speak to the sense and the hearts of each, with that truly universal tongue, which every one feels to be peculiar, and all enjoy as common.
We have said enough, however, or rather too much, on these general views of the subject-which in truth is sufficiently clear in those extreme cases, where the contrariety is great and universal, and is only perplexing when there is a pretty general conformity both in the causes which influence taste and in the results. Thus, we are not at all surprised to find the taste of the Japanese or the Iroquois very different from our own-and have no difficulty in both admitting that our human nature and human capacities are substantially the same, and in referring this discrepancy to the contrast that exists in the whole state of society, and the knowledge, and the opposite qualities of the objects to which we have been respectively accustomed to give our admiration. That nations living in times or places altogether remote, should disagree in taste, as in every thing else, seems to us quite natural. They are only the nearer cases that puzzle. And, that great European countries, peopled by the same mixed races, educated in the admiration of the same classical models-venerating the same remains of antiquity-engaged substantially in the same occupations-communicating every day, on business, letters, and society-bound up in short in one great commonwealth, as against the inferior and barbarous parts of the world, should yet differ so widely-not only as to the comparative excellence of their respective productions, but as to the constituents of excellence in all works of genius or skill, does indeed sound like a paradox, the solution of which every one may not be able to deduce from the preceding observations.
according to our own principles of judgment and habits of feeling; and, meaning nothing less than to dictate to the readers or the critics of Germany what they should think of their favourite authors, propose only to let them know, in all plainness and modesty, what we, and we really believe most of our countrymen, actually think of this chef-d'auvre of Teutonic genius.
The great practical equation on which we in this country have been hitherto most frequently employed, has been between our own standard of taste and that which is recognized among our neighbours of France:-And certainly, though feelings of rivalry have somewhat aggravated its apparent, beyond its real amount, there is a great and substantial difference to be accounted for,-in the way we have We must say, then, at once, that we cannot suggested-or in some other way. Stating that enter into the spirit of this German idolatry; difference as generally as possible, we would nor at all comprehend upon what grounds the say, that the French, compared with ourselves, work before us could ever be considered as are more sensitive to faults, and less trans- an admirable, or even a commendable perported with beauties-more enamoured of art, formance. To us it certainly appears, after and less indulgent to nature-more charmed the most deliberate consideration, to be emiwith overcoming difficulties, than with that nently absurd, puerile, incongruous, vulgar, power which makes us unconscious of their and affected; and, though redeemed by conexistence-more averse to strong emotions, or siderable powers of invention, and some traits at least less covetous of them in their intensity of vivacity, to be so far from perfection, as to -more students of taste, in short, than adorers be, almost from beginning to end, one flagrant of genius-and far more disposed than any offence against every principle of taste, and other people, except perhaps the Chinese, to every just rule of composition. Though indicircumscribe the rules of taste to such as they cating, in many places, a mind capable both themselves have been able to practise, and to of acute and profound reflection, it is full of limit the legitimate empire of genius to the mere silliness and childish affectation;-and provinces they have explored. There has though evidently the work of one who had been a good deal of discussion of late years, seen and observed much, it is throughout alin the face of literary Europe, on these de- together unnatural, and not so properly im batable grounds; and we cannot but think probable, as affectedly fantastic and absurdthat the result has been favourable, on the kept, as it were, studiously aloof from general whole, to the English, and that the French or ordinary nature-ever once bringing us have been compelled to recede considerably into contact with real life or genuine character from many of their exclusive pretensions-a-and, where not occupied with the profesresult which we are inclined to ascribe, less sional squabbles, paltry jargon, and scenical to the arguments of our native champions, profligacy of strolling players, tumblers, and than to those circumstances in the recent his- mummers (which may be said to form its tory of Europe, which have compelled our staple), is conversant only with incompreheningenious neighbours to mingle more than sible mystics and vulgar men of whim, with they had ever done before with the surround- whom, if it were at all possible to understand ing nations and thus to become better ac-them, it would be a baseness to be acquainted. quainted with the diversified forms which Every thing, and every body we meet with, genius and talent may assume. is a riddle and an oddity and though the tis sue of the story is sufficiently coarse, and the manners and sentiments infected with a strong tinge of vulgarity, it is all kept in the air, like a piece of machinery at the minor theatres, and never allowed to touch the solid ground, or to give an impression of reality, by the disclosure of known or living features. In the midst of all this, however, there are, every now and then, outbreakings of a fine speculation, and gleams of a warm and sprightly imagination-an occasional wild and exotic glow of fancy and poetry-a vigorous heaping up of incidents, and touches of bright and powerful description.
But while we are thus fairly in the way of settling our differences with France, we are little more than beginning them, we fear, with Germany; and the perusal of the extraordinary volumes before us, which has suggested all the preceding reflections, has given us, at the same time, an impression of such radical, and apparently irreconcilable disagreement as to principles, as we can scarcely hope either to remove by our reasonings, or even very satisfactorily to account for by our suggestions.
This is allowed, by the general consent of all Germany, to be the very greatest work of their very greatest writer. The most original, the most varied and inventive,-the most characteristic, in short, of the author, and of his country. We receive it as such accordingly, with implicit faith and suitable respect; and have perused it in consequence with very great attention and no common curiosity. We have perused it, indeed, only in the translation of which we have prefixed the title: But it is a translation by a professed admirer; and by one who is proved by his Preface to be a person of talents, and by every part of the work to be no ordinary master, at least of one of the languages with which he has to deal. We need scarcely say, that we profess to judge of the work only
It is not very easy certainly to account for these incongruities, or to suggest an intelligible theory for so strange a practice. But in so far as we can guess, these peculiarities of German taste are to be referred, in part, to the comparative newness of original composition among that ingenious people, and to the state of European literature when they first ventured on the experiment-and in part to the state of society in that great country itself, and the comparatively humble condition of the greater part of those who write, or to whom writing is there addressed.
The Germans, though undoubtedly an ima