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much valuable information on this subject, we would refer them to Dr. Biber's volume.
We may add, that it will be found, by general readers, an instructive and interesting piece of biography. Though often desultory and confused, and sometimes displaying a satirical tone almost amounting to bitterness, which seems to us as both useless and in bad taste, upon the whole it does justice to the subject, and shows the ability and right feeling of the author. It contains copious extracts, translated from various works of Pestalozzi, which let us into the secret of his character and views more fully than could have been done by whole volumes of description. We presume that these will be regarded, by many readers, as constituting the most attractive portions of the work.
ART. VIII. — Inaugural Discourse, delivered before the
University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, September 3, 1831. By CHARLES FOLLEN, Professor of the German Language and Literature. Cambridge. Hilliard & Brown. 1831. 8vo. pp. 28. The literature of Germany has, hitherto, received comparatively little attention from the best educated scholars in this country. In this respect, they have followed too closely the bad example of our English brethren. Until within a recent period, the treasures of philosophy, poetry, history, and critical speculation, with which that remarkable literature is filled, have, for the most part, been sealed up from foreign eyes. A few bold adventurers only have preferred to see for themselves, rather than to trust to the casual reports of others.
Our University, for some time past, has made liberal provision for the instruction of its pupils in the more popular modern languages, but has afforded scanty facilities for acquiring a thorough knowledge of the German. We suppose that few more able lectures are any where delivered, than the annual courses from the Professor of the French and Spanish languages and literature ; but an equally able course, we think, should long since have been given, to satisfy the just claims of the most profound, the most original, and the most various lite
rature of modern Europe. We are much gratified by the establishment of the Professorship which has given occasion to the present interesting Discourse. We congratulate the friends of the University, and of good learning in general, that the chair of German literature is now filled by a native German, possessing such distinguished qualifications for the office, as the present accomplished Professor.
It is not difficult to assign the reasons which have caused this branch of study to be so much neglected among us. They are the same, to a great degree, with those which have excited strong prejudices against the writings of German scholars in England and France, — principally, a confused idea, taken up with very little or no examination, that they are all given to mysticism, rhapsody, wild and tasteless inventions in poetry, and dark and impenetrable reasonings in metaphysics. In addition to this, the supposed difficulty of mastering the language, we are ashamed to say, has discouraged many from attempting the acquisition of it. This has appeared as a mountain in the way, and, from superficial specimens of the worst parts of German literature, it has been too hastily inferred that it would be labor lost to overcome it. Yet we are sure that this difficulty has been greatly exaggerated. The leisure hours of a young man in college, which are generally devoted to the lighter works of poetry and fiction, or wasted in absolute idleness, are amply sufficient to lay a foundation, which would be of incalculable value to him, in the future years of his literary progress. We speak within bounds, and shall not be contradicted by competent judges, when we say that any person, with a tolerable aptitude for acquiring languages, by giving two hours a day for six or eight months to the German, would gain a sufficient knowledge of it, to enable him to appreciate and enjoy the great masters of its literature.
It is the same with regard to the charge of mysticism and obscurity. It has been vehemently exaggerated. We have made up our opinions from wretched translations of extravagant authors, or from incoherent patches and portions of great systems, which give no better an idea of the magnificent whole, than the fool's brick did of his palace, and then pronounced a dogmatical sentence of condemnation on the mysticism of German literature, and the obscurity of German philosophy. Thus we often hear a summary and contemptuous decision on the merits of Kant, a writer and reasoner from whom the great questions, which man as an intellectual, accountable, and immortal being will never cease to ask of his own consciousness, have received more light than from any uninspired person, since the brightest days of Grecian philosophy, — which seems to us as fair and well-founded, as the decisions of a ship-master, who knew only enough to work his reckoning, on the astronomy of Sir Isaac Newton. For instance, it is a common thing to compare Kant with Coleridge, and then doom them both to the same dark abyss. Nothing shows more forcibly the blinding influence of a popular prejudice, than to hear this stale conceit from the mouths of men at whose feet we would gladly sit and learn wisdom, and who would be the first to discard it, should they study each of those great writers as they deserve. In truth, without expressing an opinion as to their respective merits, we believe that scarcely two minds could be found, agreeing in important matters of opinion, which are more unlike in character than those of Coleridge and Kant. The general spirit of their philosophy, to be sure, is the same ; for they are both the zealous advocates of the great spiritual truths, which are at the foundation of all real morality and religion, and which have been called in question by skeptical and sensual reasoners, from the
time of the Greek sophists to that of the French atheists. But in every thing else, as it respects mental peculiarities, they are in almost direct opposition to each other. We see nothing in common between the cool, far-reaching, and austere habits of thought which characterize the German philosopher, and the impassioned, bold, and excursive conceptions of the English poet. The severe logic, the imperturbable patience, the mathematical precision, and the passionless exhibition of the results of pure reason, which distinguish Kant from all other writers on philosophy, are in striking contrast with the moody restlessness, the feverish irritability, the incoherent ramblings, and the bright flashes of imagination playing over the dark obscurity of his page, which, in the writings of Coleridge, mark the philosopher struggling with the poet, and finally yielding the victory.
Still it is said that the German philosophy is obscure. And what great science, we would ask, is not obscure, before its nomenclature is understood, and its definitions studied ? We presume, that to the apprentice in the apothecary's shop, the science of chemistry seems a profound mystery. Yet the discoveries of Lavoisier and Sir Humphrey Davy are true science, not imaginary. We ask, again, if the German writers are more obscure than other writers who have treated the same subjects ? Is Kant difficult to be understood ? Neither is Aristotle perfectly easy reading. Are Fichte and Schelling mysterious ? Plato has been thought to utter nonsense, by the uninitiated. The truth, we imagine, is, that no philosophy which explains, or attempts to explain, the grand mysteries of the universe, to the solution of which man is called by the strong impulses of his nature, can be made intelligible to those who have not a congenial spirit with the writers whom they study. There is a great variety in the intellectual appetites and powers of assimilation. Some minds thrive only on plain matters of fact. Some breathe most freely in the high regions of poetry. Others regard all works of fiction as the devil's inventions. Many eschew mathematics. Few can digest solid metaphysics. Every one has his own gift. And in this infinite diversity of endowments, many will be found destitute of all taste for the philosophy, which unfolds the secrets of their own nature, the deep things of God and of his universe. To such minds we do not recommend German philosophy. They have no use for it.
It can do them no good. It is no fault of theirs, it is no disgrace to them, that it cannot. They are made for something else, - it may be, for something better. We hope that they are ; but let them not deride every thing out of their own vocation. Others there always have been, there are now, there always will be, to whom the desire of knowing themselves, of fathoming the mysterious life which we are passing, and that still more mysterious life for which we hope, is a perfect passion, an inwrought element of their being. To such minds we do not recommend German philosophy. We need not do it. They will find it out by the strong instinct which leads every creature of God to its appropriate aliment.
German philosophy has also been charged with irreligious tendencies. The author of this Discourse gives the following reply, which we copy with great pleasure, premising only that, in our opinion, after the writings of Degerando, and the public lectures of Royer-Collard, which opened a vigorous attack on the school of materialism, it is not just to name M. Cousin, eminent as he has since become, as its first decided opposer.'
'German philosophy has been accused of a tendency to materialism and skepticism, and of leading to a denial of those spiritual realities which form the foundation of the Christian faith, — the soul of man, and the soul of the universe. “German materialism,” and “ German skepticism,” have been used as by-words in works, which are generally, and in some respects justly, admired. Now the fact is, that in France, the whole school of modern philosophy, from Condillac and the Encyclopedists, down to Cousin, the first decided opposer of this school, consists of advocates of materialism ; and in England, the same system was established by Hobbes, and indirectly promoted by Locke, until Hume converted it into absolute skepticism; while the records of German Philosophy, from Leibnitz to Kant and his disciples, Fichte, Schelling, Jacobi, and Fries, do not exhibit the name of a single materialist or absolute skeptic. This remarkable phenomenon is not owing to a want of freedom in expressing opinions different from those laid down in established creeds, supported by government or by public opinion ; for, notwithstanding all the arbitrary restraints upon the expression of political sentiments in Germany, it is certain that there is no country in which, ever since the reformation of the church, there has been so much liberty in the profession of philosophical and religious opinions. True, this freedom of sentiment is not owing altogether to a high esteem for the rights of the mind, but in a great reasure to a reprehensible indifference on these subjects, favored by the skepticism of some of the rulers, as under the reign of Frederick the Second, of Prussia. But whatever be the cause of this freedom from restraint, in the expression of philosophical and religious opinions, it proves, that this remarkable fact that among all the philosophers of Germany there has not been one materialist, cannot be ascribed to circumstances and institutions of society, but must be found in the very character of German Philosophy. Indeed, if there is any thing individual and characteristic in the literature, particularly the philosophic literature of any nation, that of the Germans is signalized by its loyalty to spiritual truth, as well as by its tendency to universal comprehensiveness. The philosophic tendency of the German mind has had a decided influence upon every department of learning. Examine every branch of science, from the highest to the lowest, from the works on religion and morality to those on the cultivation of the garden, the field, and the forest, and you will find the same scientific method, — the exact