Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 9, No. 55, May, 1862
Part 5 out of 5
_Pictures of Old England_. By DR. REINHOLD PAULI, Author of "History of
Alfred the Great," etc. Translated, with the Author's Sanction, by E.C.
OTTE. Cambridge [England]: Macmillan & Co. Small 8vo. pp. xii., 457.
Dr. Pauli is already known on both sides of the Atlantic as the author
of two works of acknowledged learning and ability,--a "History of
England during the Middle Ages," and a "History of Alfred the Great."
In his new volume he furnishes some further fruits of his profound
researches into the social and political history of England in the
Middle Ages; and if the book will add little or nothing to his present
reputation, it affords at least new evidence of his large acquaintance
with English literature. It comprises twelve descriptive essays on as
many different topics, closely connected with his previous studies.
Among the best of these are the papers entitled "Monks and Mendicant
Friars," which give a brief and interesting account of monastic
institutions in England; "The Hanseatic Steel-Yard in London,"
comprising a history of that famous company of merchant-adventurers,
with a description of the buildings occupied by them, and a sketch of
their domestic life; and "London in the Middle Ages," which presents an
excellent description of the topography and general condition of the
city during that period, and is illustrated by a small and carefully
drawn plan. There are also several elaborate essays on the early
relations of England with the Continent, besides papers on "The
Parliament in the Fourteenth Century," "Two Poets, Gower and Chaucer,"
"John Wiclif," (as Dr. Pauli spells the name,) and some other topics.
All the papers show an adequate familiarity with the original sources of
information, and are marked by the same candor and impartiality which
have hitherto characterized Dr. Pauli's labors. The translation, without
being distinguished by any special graces of style, is free from the
admixture of foreign idioms, and, so far as one may judge from the
internal evidence, appears to be faithfully executed. As a collection of
popular essays, the volume is worthy of much praise.
_The Correspondence of Leigh Hunt_. Edited by his Eldest Son. London:
Smith, Elder, & Co. 1862. 2 vols. 12mo.
In Lamb's famous controversy with Southey in 1823, (the only controversy
"Elia" ever indulged in,) he says of the author of "Rimini," "He is one
of the most cordial-minded men I ever knew, and matchless as a fireside
Few authors have had warmer admirers of their writings, or more sincere
personal friends, than Leigh Hunt. He seemed always to inspire earnestly
and lovingly every one who came into friendly relations with him. When
Shelley inscribed his "Cenci" to him in 1819, he expressed in this
sentence of the Dedication what all have felt who have known Leigh Hunt
"Had I known a person more highly endowed than yourself with all that it
becomes a man to possess, I had solicited for this work the ornament of
his name. One more gentle, honorable, innocent, and brave,--one of more
exalted toleration for all who do and think evil, and yet himself more
free from evil,--one who knows better how to receive and how to confer a
benefit, though he must ever confer far more than he can receive,--one
of simpler, and, in the highest sense of the word, of purer life and
manners, I never knew; and I had already been fortunate in friendship
when your name was added to the list."
With this immortal record of his excellence made by Shelley's hand,
Leigh Hunt cannot be forgotten. Counting among his friends the best men
and women of his time, his name and fame are embalmed in their books
as they were in their hearts. Charles Lamb, Keats, Shelley, and Mrs.
Browning knew his worth, and prized it far above praising him; and there
are those still living who held him very dear, and loved the sound of
his voice like the tones of a father or a son.
A man's letters betray his heart,--both those he sends and those he
receives. Leigh Hunt's correspondence, as here collected by his son, is
full of the wine of life in the best sense of _spirit_.
_The Works of Charles Dickens_. Household Edition. _Martin Chuzzlewit_.
New York: Sheldon & Company.
It is not our intention, at the present writing, to enter into any
discussion concerning the characteristics or the value of the novels of
Charles Dickens: we have neither time nor space for it. Besides, to few
of our readers do these books need introduction or recommendation from
us. They have long been accepted by the world as worthy to rank among
those works of genius which harmonize alike with the thoughtful mind of
the cultivated and the simple feelings of the unlearned,--which discover
in every class and condition of men some truth or beauty for all
humanity. They are, in the full sense of the word, _household_ books, as
indispensable as Shakspeare or Milton, Scott or Irving.
We may fairly say of the various editions of Dickens's writings, that
their "name is Legion." None of them all, however, is better adapted to
common libraries than the new edition now publishing in New York. It
will be comprised in fifty volumes, to be published in instalments
at intervals of six or eight weeks. The mechanical execution is most
commendable in every respect: clear, pleasantly tinted paper; typography
in the best style of the Riverside Press; binding novel and tasteful. A
vignette, designed either by Darley or Gilbert, and engraved upon steel,
is prefixed to each volume. We have to congratulate the publishers that
they have so successfully fulfilled the promises of their prospectus,
and the public that an edition at once elegant and inexpensive is now
_Die Schweizerische Literatur des achzehnten Jahrhunderts_. Von T.C.
MOeRIKOFER. Leipzig: Verlag von S. Hirzel. 8vo. pp. 536.
In the early part of the Middle Ages Switzerland contributed
comparatively little to the literary glory of Germany. Beyond Conrad
of Wuerzburg, who is claimed as a native of Basel, no Swiss name can be
found among the poets of the Hohenstaufen period. In a later age it is
rather the practical than the romantic character of the Swiss that is
manifested in their productions. The Reformation brought them in closer
contact with German culture. There was need of this; for in no country
was the gap wider between the language of the people and that of the
learned. Scholars like Zwinglius and Bullinger were almost helpless,
when they sought to express themselves in German. Little appeal could,
therefore, be made to the masses in their own tongue by such writers.
During the whole of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the
vernacular was even more neglected than before. It was not until the
beginning of the eighteenth that Latin and French ceased to be the only
languages deemed worthy of use in literary composition. In 1715 Johannes
Muralt wrote his "Eidgnoeszischen Lustgarten," and later several other
works, mostly scientific, in German. Political causes came in to help
the reaction, and from that time the Protestant portion of the Helvetic
Confederation may be said to have had a literature of its own.
It is the history of the literature of German Switzerland during the
eighteenth century that Moerikofer has essayed to write. He has chosen a
subject hitherto but little studied, and his work deserves to stand by
the side of the best German literary histories of our time.
The author begins with the first signs of the reaction against the
influence of France, agreeably portraying the awakening of Swiss
consciousness, and the gradual development of the enlightened patriotism
that impelled Swiss writers to lay aside mere courtly elegance of
diction for their own more terse and vigorous idiom.
This awakening was not confined to letters. Formerly the Swiss, instead
of appreciating the beauties of their own land, rather considered them
as impediments to the progress of civilization. It seems incredible to
us now that there ever could have been a time when mountain-scenery,
instead of being sought, was shunned,--when princes possessing the most
beautiful lands among the Rhine hills should, with great trouble
and expense, have transported their seats to some flat, uninviting
locality,--when, for instance, the dull, flat, prosy, wearisome gardens
of Schwetzingen should have been deemed more beautiful than the
immediate environs of Heidelberg. Yet such were the sentiments that
prevailed in Switzerland until a comparatively late date. It is only
since the days of Scheuchzer that Swiss scenery has been appreciated,
and in this appreciation were the germs of a new culture.
As in Germany societies had been established "for the practice of
German" at Leipsic and Hamburg, so in various Swiss cities associations
were formed with the avowed purpose of discouraging the imitation of
French models. Thus, at Zuerich several literary young men, among them
Hagenbuch and Lavater, met at the house of the poet Bodmer. The example
was followed in other cities. Though these clubs and their periodical
organs soon fell into an unwarrantable admiration of all that was
English, the result was a gradual development of the national taste.
Since then the literary efforts of the Swiss have been characterized by
an ardent love of country. A direct popular influence may be felt in
their best productions; hence the nature of their many beauties, as well
as of their faults. To the same influence also we owe that phalanx of
reformers and philanthropists, Hirzel, Iselin, Lavater, and Pestalozzi.
A great portion of the work under consideration is devoted to the lives
and labors of these benefactors of their people. The book is, therefore,
not a literary history in the strict sense of the term. It gives a
comprehensive view of the culture of German Switzerland during the
eighteenth century. To Bodmer alone one hundred and seventy-five pages
are devoted. In this essay, as well as in that on the historian Mueller,
a vast amount of information is presented, and many facts collated by
the author are now given, we believe, for the first time.
_Literaturbilder.--Darstellungen deutscher Literatur aus den Werken der
vorzueglichsten Literarhistoriker_, etc. Herausgegeben von J.W. SCHAEFER.
Leipzig: Friedrich Brandstetter. 8vo. pp. 409.
There is no lack of German literary histories. While English letters
have not yet found an historian, there are scores of works upon every
branch of German literature. Of these, many possess rare merits, and are
characterized by a depth, a comprehensiveness of criticism not to be
found in the similar productions of any other nation. Whoever has once
been guided by the master-minds of Germany will bear witness that the
guidance cannot be replaced by that of any other class of writers.
Nowhere can such universality, such freedom from national prejudice, be
found,--and this united to a love of truth, earnestness of labor, and
perseverance of research that may be looked for in vain elsewhere.
The difficulty for the student of German literary history lies, then, in
the selection. A new work, the "Literaturbilder" of J.W. Schaefer, will
greatly tend to facilitate the choice. This is a representation of
the chief points of the literature of Germany by means of well-chosen
selections from the principal historians of letters. The editor
introduces these by an essay upon the "Epochs of German Literature."
Then follow, with due regard to chronological order, extracts from the
works of Vilmar, Gervinus, Wackernagel, Schlosser, Julian Schmidt, and
others. These extracts are of such length as to give a fair idea of the
writers, and so arranged as to form a connected history. Thus, under
the third division, comprising the eighteenth century until Herder and
Goethe, we find the following articles following each other: "State of
Literature in the Eighteenth Century"; "Johann Christian Gottsched," by
F.C. Schlosser; "Gottsched's Attempts at Dramatic Reform," by R. Prutz;
"Hagedorn and Haller," by J.W. Schaefer; "Bodmer and Breitinger," by
A. Koberstein; "The Leipsic Association of Poets and the Bremen
Contributions," by Chr. F. Weisse; "German Literature in the Middle of
the Eighteenth Century," by Goethe; "Gottlieb Wilhelm Rabener," by H.
Gelzer; "Gellert's Fables," by H. Prutz. Those who do not possess the
comprehensive works of Gervinus, Cholerius, Wackernagel, etc., may thus
in one volume find enough to be able to form a fair opinion of the
nature of their labors.
The "Literaturbilder," though perhaps lacking in unity, is one of the
most attractive of literary histories. A few important names are missed,
as that of Menzel, from whom nothing is quoted. The omission seems the
more unwarrantable, as this writer, whatever we may think of his views,
still enjoys the highest consideration among a numerous class of German
readers. The contributions of the editor himself form no inconsiderable
part of the volume. Those quoted from his "Life of Goethe" deserve
special mention. The work does not extend beyond the first years of the
present century, and closes with Jean Paul.
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