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ney thither I have described in The Friend,* I proceeded through Hanover to Göttingen.
Here I regularly attended the lectures on physiology in the morning, and on natural history in the evening, under Blumenbach, a name as dear to every Englishman who has studied at that university, as it is venerable to men of science throughout Europe Eichhorn's lectures on the New Testament were repeated to me from notes by a student from Ratzeburg, a young man of sound learning and indefatigable industry, who is now, I believe, a professor of the oriental languages at Heidelberg. But my chief efforts were directed towards a grounded knowledge of the German language and literature. From Professor Tychsen I received as many lessons in the Gothic of Ulphilas† as sufficed to make me acquainted with its grammar, and the radical words of most frequent occurrence; and with the occasional assistance of the same philosophical linguist, I read through‡ Ottfried's
Gassen, den gemeinen Mann auf dem Markte, darum fragen: und densel bigen auf das Maul sehen wie sie reden, und darnach dolmetschen. So verstehen sie es denn, und merken dass man Deutsch mit ihnen redet."
For one must not ask the letters in the Latin tongue, how one ought to speak German; but one must ask the mother in the house, the children in the lanes and alleys, the common man in the market, concerning this; yea, and look at the moves of their mouths while they are talking, and thereaf ter interpret. They understand you then, and mark that one talks German with them.1
* [See the Second Landing-place. Essay iii. p. 333.-S. C.]
[See note D. in the Appendix.—S. C.]
This paraphrase, written about the time of Charlemagne, is by no means deficient in occasional passages of considerable poetic merit. There is a flow, and a tender enthusiasm in the following lines (at the conclusion of Chapter XI.) which, even in the translation. will not, I flatter myself, fail to interest the reader. Ottfried is describing the circumstances immediately following the birth of our Lord.
She gave with joy her virgin-breast;
[Archdeacon Hare has kindly communicated to me that this passage occurs in a Sendbrief vom Dolmetschen der heiligen Schrift, written to Wencesslaus Link, when Luther was in the Castle of Coburg, during the Diet of Augsburg, 1530: that it is to be found in vol. xxi. of Walch's edit. of Luther's works, p. 318. The words wie die Esel thun, after Deutsch reden, were doubtless omitted intentionally.—S. C.]
metrical paraphrase of the gospel, and the most important remains of the Theotiscan, or the transitional state of the Teutonic language from the Gothic to the old German of the Swabian
Which suckled that divinest babe!
Which the Saviour infant kiss'd;
And blessed, blessed was the mother
Who wrapp'd his limbs in swaddling-clothes,
Singing placed him on her lap,
And sooth'd him with a lulling motion.
For us she bore the heavenly Lord!1
Most interesting is it to consider the effect, when the feelings are wrought above the natural pitch by the belief of something mysterious, while all the images are purely natural. Then it is, that religion and poetry strike deepest.
[Otfridi Evang. Lib. i. cap. xi. l. 73–108, contained in Schilter's Thesaurus Antiquitatum Teutonicarum, pp. 50-51. The translation is a little condensed but faithful in sense. I shall give a few couplets of the original to show the rhyme and metre.
period. Of this period-(the polished dialect of which is analogous to that of our Chaucer, and which leaves the philosophic student in doubt, whether the language has not since then lost more in sweetness and flexibility, than it has gained in condensation and copiousness)-I read with sedulous accuracy the Minnesinger (or singers of love, the Provençal poets of the Swabian court) and the metrical romances; and then labored through sufficient specimens of the master singers, their degenerate successors; not however without occasional pleasure from the rude, yet interesting strains of Hans Sachs, the cobbler of Nuremberg.† Of this man's genius five folio volumes with double columns are extant in print, and nearly an equal number in manuscript; yet the indefatigable bard takes care to inform his readers, that he never made a shoe the less, but had virtuously reared a large family by the labor of his hands.
In Pindar, Chaucer, Dante, Milton, and many more, we have instances of the close connection of poetic genius with the love of liberty and of genuine reformation. The moral sense at least will not be outraged, if I add to the list the name of this honest shoemaker (a trade by-the-bye remarkable for the production of philosophers and poets). His poem entitled THE MORNING STAR, was the very first publication that appeared in praise and support of Luther; and an excellent hymn of Hans Sachs, which has been deservedly translated into almost all the European languages, was commonly sung in the Protestant churches, whenever the heroic reformer visited them.
In Luther's own German writings, and eminently in his translation of the Bible, the German language commenced. I mean the language as it is at present written; that which is called the High German as contra-distinguished from the Platt-Teutsch, the dialect of the flat or northern countries, and from the OberTeutsch, the language of the middle and Southern Germany. The High-German is indeed a lingua communis, not actually the native language of any province, but the choice and fragrancy of all the dialects. From this cause it is at once the most copious and the most grammatical of all the European tongues.
Within less than a century after Luther's death the German was inundated with pedantic barbarisms. A few volumes of * [See note E in the Appendix.-S.C.] [See note F in the Appendix.-S. C.]
this period I read through from motives of curiosity; for it is not easy to imagine any thing more fantastic, than the very appearance of their pages. Almost every third word is a Latin word with a Germanized ending, the Latin portion being always printed in Roman letters, while in the last syllable the German character is retained.
At length, about the year 1620, Opitz arose, whose genius more nearly resembled that of Dryden than any other poet, who at present occurs to my recollection.* In the opinion of Lessing, the most acute of critics, and of Adelung, the first of Lexicographers, Opitz, and the Silesian poets, his followers, not only restored the language, but still remain the models of pure diction. A stranger has no vote on such a question; but after repeated perusal of the works of Opitz my feelings justified the verdict, and I seemed to have acquired from them a sort of tact for what is genuine in the style of later writers.
Of the splendid æra, which commenced with Gellert, Klopstock, Ramler, Lessing, and their compeers, I need not speak. With the opportunities which I enjoyed, it would have been disgraceful not to have been familiar with their writings; and I have already said as much as the present biographical sketch requires concerning the German philosophers, whose works, for the greater part, I became acquainted with at a far later period.‡
Soon after my return from Germany I was solicited to undertake the literary and political department in the Morning Post; and I acceded to the proposal on the condition that the paper should thenceforwards be conducted on certain fixed and announced principles, and that I should neither be obliged nor requested to deviate from them in favor of any party or any event. In consequence, that Journal became and for many years continued anti-ministerial indeed, yet with a very qualified approbation of the opposition, and with far greater earnestness and zeal both *[See note G. in the Appendix.-S. C.]
[See note H. ib.—S. C.]
[See note I. in the Appendix.-S. C.]
§ [Mr. Coleridge arrived in London from Germany on the 27th of November, 1799.-S. C.]
[The reader is referred to the end of the Biographical Supplement for remarks of Mr. Stuart, who edited the Morning Post from August 1795 to August 1803, on this part of the B. L. from the present paragraph to that ending in page 311, inclusively.-S. C.]
anti-Jacobin and anti-Gallican. To this hour I can not find reason to approve of the first war either in its commencement or its conduct. Nor can I understand, with what reason either Mr. Percival (whom I am singular enough to regard as the best and wisest minister of this reign), nor the present Administration, can be said to have pursued the plans of Mr. Pitt. The love of their country, and perseverant hostility to French principles and French ambition, are indeed honorable qualities common to them and to their predecessor. But it appears to me as clear as the evidence of facts can render any question of history, that the successes of the Percival and of the existing ministry have been owing to their having pursued measures the direct contrary to Mr. Pitt's. Such for instance are the concentration of the national force to one object; the abandonment of the subsidizing policy, so far at least as neither to goad nor bribe the continental courts into war, till the convictions of their subjects had rendered it a war of their own seeking; and above all, in their manly and generous reliance on the good sense of the English people, and on that loyalty which is linked to the very* heart of the nation by the system of credit and the interdependence of property.
* Lord Grenville has lately reasserted (in the House of Lords) the imminent danger of a revolution in the earlier part of the war against France. I doubt not, that his Lordship is sincere: and it must be flattering to his feelings to believe it. But where are the evidences of the danger, to which a future historian can appeal? Or must he rest on an assertion? Let me be permitted to extract a passage on the subject from The Friend. "I have said that to withstand the arguments of the lawless, the anti-Jacobins proposed to suspend the law, and by the interposition of a particular statute to eclipse the blessed light of the universal sun, that spies and informers might tyrannize and escape in the ominous darkness. Oh! if these mistaken men, intoxicated with alarm and bewildered by that panic of property, which they themselves were the chief agents in exciting, had ever lived in a country where there really existed a general disposition to change and rebellion! Had they ever travelled through Sicily; or through France at the first coming on of the revolution; or even alas! through too many of the provinces of a sister island; they could not but have shrunk from their own declarations concerning the state of feeling and opinion at that time predominant throughout Great Britain. There was a time— (Heaven grant that that time may have passed by !)—when by crossing a narrow strait, they might have learned the true symptoms of approaching danger, and have secured themselves from mistaking the meetings and idle rant of such sedition, as shrank appalled from the sight of a constable, for the dire murmuring and strange consternation which precedes the storm or