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presume to call the mighty intellect of termining, with our present dogmatism, Kant atheistic ?"
where spirit begins and matter ends."
THE END OF LIFE.
"If I had spirit, strength, and energy "So long as man does not perceive that enough, people would certainly crucify the circle of bis existence is completed in
That is the true touchstone of what himself, and that the true aim of his life is excellent."
can only be attained by persevering selfperfectionation (Vervollkommnung seiner selbst), so long must he be driven about,
amid a thousand errors more or less ex" It is almost incredible how rational be-travagant. ings can entertain a doubt of the existence To learn this is doubtless difficult; and of a Being who fills the universe. This men will betake themselves to a thousand doubt, where it does exist, can arise only appearances of benefit, before they will from weakness, or absolute defect of the content themselves with this only real soreasoning power. But I can hardly be- lid happiness of human nature. But nolieve that such a thing as an absolute thing else can be made of it, and the sooner Atheist, not insane, exists. The more we are wise the better.” narrow our reason is, we seek to make to ourselves some god that squares with our narrow conceptions. Our alleged no god is often only a peculiar god that we have “It may sound strange, but I am obliged created for ourselves.
to recognize superstition as an insepara"The Infinite we cannot understand, ble element in the spiritual education of and therefore we have no clear idea of a I assume three stages of man's exuniverse-of a God. The attempt to sup- istence;-the animal; the socializing, but ply this defect by earthly images and alle- not perfectly socialized; the pure, or ragories sinks us only into the most absurd tional. The religion of the first stage is superstition. Worship the Infinite! and Fetism; that of the second class aims at though thou canst not see him, yet his the satisfaction of spiritual wants ; but working is every where. He is the soul both are superstitious; the religion of the of the all. The highest equipoise of all third and last stage only is a pure and rathings governs and determines universal tional piety; but practically, the piety even nature. This is the ultimate law (Grund) of this highest stage of humanity is always of all being; thereby the world maintains more or less mixed with superstition. itself. All individual qualities are lost in “Every man requires a support in life. this one idea. We know the universe only He who does not find this support within by fragments, and of these fragments we himself must seek for it without himself. make to ourselves images and idols.
This is the origin of all superstition." “Nothing but the law of love can unite again that which the individualizing nar- clear, Greek school, which has lately be.
As a poet, Knebel belongs to the calm, rowness of man's mind has separated.”
come so unfashionable, but which we prize very highly. That mistiness of feeling,
and wateriness of sentiment, which on a "If we wish to arrive at any thing like late occasion we condemned, as charactertruth in metaphysical speculation, the old istic of the romantic school in Germany, established distinction of materialism and finds no home in this pure region. Knebel spiritualism must be altogether given up, is as far from romance as Göthe; and, in. There is only one true Being, or every thing is a drean). Who can say that he deed, there is in his productions much of has examined into the qualities of matter ? the spirit and character of Göthe's best miDo we know what that matter is of which nor poems. Knebel, however, has the mowe are continually prating? We always ral element strong, which Göthe wants. assume that the heavy clod of earth is the The same calm, self-sustaining wisdom, and proper type of matter; but are we igno- the same mild breath of cheerful kindliness, rant that the smallest atom of matter has its own inherent directing principle, so to is, however, characteristic of both. Both say, its own atmosphere?' To what else Göthe and Herder had a high opinion of does electricity, magnetism, galvanism, Knebel's poems; and if they do not live point? That is a spiritual world, and after many that are now fluttering through who shall say how far up it goes, and how fifth, sixth, and seventh editions, futurity far down it sinks?
will not have paid her debt to the present. “We ought to reverse our whole fashion It may be, however, that they move in too of looking at these things : we begin with the intellectual, where we ought to end. high a region of pure contemplation ever to The lowest ought to be followed step by
become very popular. As to the execution, step, till we lose ourselves in the highest. they are harmonious and tasteful. Calm we should then find some difficulty in de- simplicity is their leading character; and
MATERIALISM AND SPIRITUALISM.
5Ween ye that law and right and the rule of life is uncertain ?
Far by the sacred stream, where goddess Ganga is worshipped,
Gaugeth the spirit divine purer the measure of right?
Among these poems and prose fragments ( tually denies the gods, and actually does de. our readers will doubtless have observed in. ny the immortality of the soul, expect to find dications of a mind peculiarly filled by its readers in this country. It is worse than habits of thought and philosophic sympathies Queen Mab; mad, and triple mad. to become the interpreter of Epicurean phi. Germany these things are managed in a diflosophy to modern times. A mon should ferent fashion. There, where the outward never read anything, said Göthe, but what world of action is governed by what (in Prus. he admires; and, on the same principle, a sia at least) is allowed on all hands to be man should never translate anything but the beau ideal of a wise despotism. Nature what he sympathizes with; and that not seems to have wished to antagonize this one. merely by a sympathy pro hâc vice, as the sided development by establishing in the in. lawyers say, artificial and momentary, but ward world of thought the perfection of a wise immanent and permament in the soul. anarchy. We say a wise anarchy, because Every good translation is a natural growth of there is a great deal of wisdom at the bottom the spiritual man, as much as a good origi. of what we English, in the pride of our me. nal composition ; only here the plant grows chanical conceit, are accusiomed to call the by self-sustainment, whereas there it is prop- nonsense of German metaphysics; and what ped up by a stick. Major Knebel was a sounds at first as a mere blowo up mountain living plant of Epicurean philosophy, cultiva. of vain words, or, worse perhaps, as the bold ted and improved in a Christian soil; but, impiety of profane dogmarists, turns out in wanting strength (or perhaps only imagining the end to be but a very sound, sober, truth, that he wanted strength) 10 grow alone, he expressed in a metaphysical, perhaps also leant upon the poem of Lucretius, and by (childishly enough) in a paradoxical
, way. this assistance grew up into a tree of goodly However this be, certain it is, as erery body size. We doubi much if the same can be knows, Germany is the home of every sort said of any of our English translators, from of unwonted, erratic, exquisite speculation; Evelyn down to Busby. We ra: her fear and if Lucretius was destined to become (though it is certainly to the honor of British naturalized among the moderns, there could orthodoxy) that they were all mere transla. be lit le doubt that Germany was the soil out tors in the common sense of that word. of which he must grow. Indeed, when we They did noi translate the book " De rerum consider the very great advantages the Ger. naturâ," as Carlyle translated Wilhelm mans possess in this respect over us, we shall Meister, because they were living in the ele. find it, perhaps, the greatest wisdom to give ment of Lucretius as he was living in the up transiating many things altogether, and element of Göthe. If this be the case; we take to learning German instead. German have what might be called an à priori reason is the language of translations.* why Knebels translation must, cæteris pari. bus, necessarily be superior to any that we
* It gives us pleasure to be able to annex here can yet boast of in the English language. who, however weak Knebel might justly consider
the testimony of Göthe on this subject, a man But indeed England is not the place for him to be in matters of political insight, was translating philosophic poems.
e are not certainly the very best person in the world to a philosophic nation; we have not a philosophic give an opinion on the excellence of the German language ; we have not a philosophic public. language as a translating medium.
- The English are quite right," said Göthe, Much less can such an ominous poem as "in applying themselves so diligently as they Lucretius's "De rerum naturâ,"' which vir- have recently done to the German language. It
is not only that our language on its own account
deserves ihis aitention, but it is also impossible * N. B. This poem is German in many things to deny, that he who now knows German well, besides the measure; and the English critic may dispense with the knowledge of almost every would do well to think seven times before he con other language. I do not here include the French, demns it. We look upon it in the original (how- for that is the language of conversation, and is ever strangely it may sound to English ears) as indispensable as a universal interpreter to every a perfect gem of philosophical poetry, only infe- gentleman who moves beyond the four corners riar to some of Güthe's unequalled elegies. We of his own home. As to Greek, La.in, Italian, certainly do prefer the “ Metamorphose der Pflan- and Spanish, however, the principal works in zen” to every thing in the contemplative style of these languages can be read in German translapoetry we ever read.
tions as well as in the originals; and, unless he
* But espe
cially in poetico-metaphysical translations poetry. A pregnant heresy ! for, in original from the ancient languages, the sooner we composition, it may make dwarss of miny give up our vain aitempis the belter; for if it giants; and, in translating from the antique, is not sheer madness, it is at least sheer tri. it will, nine times out of ien, produce a monfling to attempt competing with the Germans. ster. Thanks to Shelley, and Coleridge, and A profound nietaphysics is inwoven in:o the Southey, we are no more such smooth, very
form and texture of the German lan- gilded slaves in metrical matters as we were guage. Not only the poetry, but the very at the end of the late century; but we are so common speech, of Germany is colored by consérvative, so statutory, so anti-plastic in philosophy; and, ex converso the German our linguistical ideas, that the “ Lakers" still philosophy (if we excep: Immanuel Kant remain with the mass of us mere Lakers, and Hegel) is for the most part highly poe. and not Britons : rhyme and syllable count. tical. What have we to set against this ? ing still sway the rod of criticism; and the We have no metaphysics at all; a very consequence is, that we are nearly as far re. scant philosophy; a philosophical language moved from perfection in the art of transla. yet more scant; and our philosophy (what ting from the ancient languages, as we were litile we have) has never been incorporated when Pope translated Homer. That that with our poetry.
We have an instinctive translation (so excellent when viewed as an national aversion to metaphysics in any original poem) should still be considered by shape. When it appears in our theology we many “as the most excellent translation call it atheism, when it appears in our poetry which the world ever saw,'
"* is one of the we call it the same, or, perhaps, as the case worst symptoms of our disease. may be, only mysticism. We sent Gil. still not content to do into English ; we must beri Wakefield (honest Gilbert !) to study or- also Anglicize. We are still too artificial to thodoxy in the King's Bench prison ; Percy take the “divine swineherd” simply and na. Bysshe Shelley we marched off to Italy; kedly as a divine swipeherd. We must dress and what we may make of Thomas Carly le him, and brush hin, and polish him, before no man knows.
What then have we to do he is fit to enter into genteel society. But, with translating Lucretius ?
even supposing we had altogether shaken off But there is another formidable difficulty this hereditary disease of our translated literain our way; and here again the Germans rure, (and we are willing to think that great have travelled so far that it is impossible for progress has of late been made in the right us to overtake them; or rather, they are path,) there still remains a hindrance in the travelling upon a road on which it is impos- mechanism of our language, which renders sible for us to follow them. The Germans it impossible for us to compete with the Gerhave not only a flexibility and ductility of po- mans. We cannot re-echo the ancient etical language superior to what any oiher measures. Let no one think that ibis is a modern congue can boast, but they have tri- slight matter. In itself, indeed, abstractly umphantly freed themselves from what are considered, it is of no consequence; but, coinmonly called (and, in the face of much when we consider for a moment its practical contradiction, we still believe are most working, we shall soon sec that it is a matter properly called) the shackles of rhyme. We of very serious importance. For, in the first are worshippers of that sweet singing Syren; place, the measure is very often essential to and the consequence is, that we are often ihe character of the poem (just as a proud found playing at see saw, or fencing ele- man strides, and a merry man dances); and, gantly with mere sound, when we ought to in the next place, adherence to the measure be on the march. We are apt to look upon of the original has a great tendency to ensure r’yme (except in the case of a few stately accuracy; and accuracy in a translation (as epics) as alınost inter essentialia of classical in all copies) is the first, and the second, and
the third thing f Perhaps the demand of is reading with some very particular purpose, a accuracy may not be enforced so siricily German scholar may reasonably spare himself the long labor of learning these languages. It is * Preface to Drummond's Lucretius. a peculiarity of the German mind to give its due † Ramler, in one of his letters 10 Knebel, has and natural ralue to what is foreign, and to ac- the following sensible remark: “You know as commodate itself to the particular character of every well as I do, dear Knebel, how poets, especially kind of national poetry. This, taken along with those who have power, fire, and invention, are the great power and flexibility of our tongue, accustomed to manage translations. They er. renders German translations as perfect in the press themselves most elegantly, write the most whole as they are accurate in the detail. Nor beautiful verses, pregnant with the most excelcan it be denied (whatever the pedantry of mere lent meaning, only not the meaning of the author. scholarship may pretend) that a good translation, I prefer the dry word-mongery of a mere lexito all practical purposes, will bring a man as far cographer to such translations."--Nachlass, vol. as the original."-Eckermann's Gespräche. ü. p. 42.
upon the translaior of a modern poem. superabundance of monosyllables, as comHere, where translator and translated belong pared with the Greek (e. g. for Foruyàs
, Fólemos, to the same era of mental developmeni, are Fluss, Krieg), on the inconvenience of the encircled with the same atmosphere of imagi. continually jumping about, right and left,
innumerable prefixes and affixes, which are native association, and speak in one when no one is wanting them; but he was, sense) the same poetical language, there is at the same time, not to be shaken in the beless danger of any foreign and incongruous lief that a middle way could be maintained, element being inoculated upon the work in between the heavy hammering of Voss's stiff the process of transmutation; but, in transla. formality, and the loose draggling sluvenli. tions from the antique, every thing modern ness of our vulgar hexametrists. He was (which is so apt io insinuate itself) must also continually insisting on the incalculable
evil that resulted from poetry being written always appear as a patch ; or, at all events,
more for the eye than for the ear-being the copy may be tinted and colored through. (transplanted from lite and nature to the desk out in a modern siyle, which is perhaps worse of a mere scholar. “There ought to be less than patchwork. No person, who is even reading,' he said, and more recitation. The superficially acquainted with English and evil has its root in our pedantic system of eau. German translations from the ancient lan- cation, and the inattention of mothers to that guages, will fail to perceive how these re. which they have so much in their power, marksapply to them; but, as the subject is one
viz. the formation of the vocal organs of their
children.' of great importance, and bears immediately us?" he used to exclaim, with indignation ;
• Is there no Cornelia, amongst upon the translation of Lucretius, which is and Jean Paul's · Levana’ (about which Her. now before us, we shall consider it our duty der and Knebel had had many conversations to hear what von Knebel himself has to say before it came out) was then spoken of, and on the subject. It is Böttiger who narrates. the due meed of praise awarded.” “ When Madame de Staël was with us in
To turn from these general observations 1803-4, engaged in the preliminary studies of to that out of which they immediately arose, her great work on Germany, her attention viz. Knebel's translation of Lucretius. After was particularly directed to the capacity of a careful examination we have no hesitation the German language to echo back the dis. in saying, that this production is not only in tichs of the ancient languages in the original all respects equal, but in some points superior, measures. To this she always answered with to its original.* This is saying much; but an incredulous smile, and said that the motion of such verses must always be about as
* This was also the opinion of Wieland, whose smooth as that of a cart upon a moss-l'oad. remarks on this subject, though somewhat long, Knebel, who was at that time living among we shall here transcribe at length. In the second the mountains at Ilmenau, having been in- volume of the Correspondence, p. 215, we find the formed of the French lady's incredulity, ad- following letter, dated 7th July, 1803 : vised his friends in Weimar to try the experi
“ Dear Knebel-Your translation of Lucretius, ment of declaiming continually in her ear so far as I can judge from the first book, is a the well-known distich of Scbiller,
master-piece, in which acumen, tact, taste, and
iron laboriousness are equally pre-eminent. Such • In dem Hexameter steigt des Springquell's a translation is worth the best original; yea, conflüssige Säule,
sidering the unspeakable difficulties wiih which Im Pentameter drauf fällt sie melodisch you must have had to contend, and which you
have overcome as successfully as boldly, of more hinab,'*
value than an original, far superior to Lucretius and request her to express the same sense in himself. I am much mistaken if you have not two Alexandrines. But Madame de Stäel, performed a task much more difficult than any
that Voss has attempted. That you have leit though assisted by Benjamin Constant, who was then engaged in translating Wallenstein, parasangs behind you, is the least that I can say
your excellent predecessor Meineke a hundred with all her cleverness, could not make the to do you common justice. I have compared Alexandrines, in this case, obedient to her your work carefully with the original, and have will; at which Knebel was of course very found it (unless where everything was so excelmuch delighted. He was, however, by no lent a few maculæ might remain invisible), in means blind to the very great difficuliy of every respect so accurate, so energetic, so spiritmaking our rough Teutonic dialect as smooth ed, and so characteristically LUCRETIAN, that I and flexible as it is stron. He made bitter have no words to express to you my admiration, lamentations on the want of spondees, on the or (what is perhaps better) my complete satisfac
tion. What pleases me peculiarly, among other
things, is this, that though you are using a lan* This distich is familiar to the English ear guage far more cultivated ihan what Lucretius from Coleridge's beautiful translation :
employed, still you have contrived to preserve “ In the hexameter rises the water's silvery the austere simplicity, and, if I may so speak, the column;
rust-color (Rost-farbe) of the ancient original. In In the pentameter aye falling in harmony back.” this regard I may say that, I praise you even
more for what you have not done than for what Let this excuse our" Adrastea,” though passibus you have done. To make a beautiful periphrasis heu ! quam iniquis !
of such a poet as Lucretius is very obvious and very