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directed. Dr. Wachler, in speaking of national literature and learning, has thought it necessary to place intellectual philosophy in the latter department.
Our object, however, in the present article, is not properly a review of Dr. Wachler's comprehensive history ; but we shall confine ourselves to a few brief remarks on topics connected with German literature, suggested by the work before us.
Dr. Wachler's remarks on the development of the German language, deserve particular attention. Without engaging in a minute and extended inquiry, whether the Sanscrit, the old Persian, or the Greek language, is to be considered as the parent of the Teutonic family of languages; or whether, indeed, the Greek itself is but a branch of the older German ; the author fails not to observe, that the traditionary accounts of the Teutonic tribes, agree in claiming an Asiatic origin for themselves, as well as for their language. He omits a particular consideration of the hypothesis by which, in reference to his exile, Ovid has been placed in the rank of the earliest of the German poets; but he justly lays the more emphasis on the fact, that, in the translation of the four gospels into the Mesoyothic dialect, prepared by bishop Ulphilas, at the close of the fourth century, the Germans possess a literary and historical monument of a more ancient date, than any other European nation, wbose language is considered a living one.
The first division of the German language, was that into the Upper and Lower dialects. In the latter of these was included the old Saxon, which, in the middle of the fifth century, was carried by the Anglo-Saxons to England, and by means of other tribes, to Denmark and Sweden. Besides the Saxon, several other branches of the Lower dialect were found in the north of Germany, of which the Dutch, spoken by the inhabitants of the Netherlands, is one of the more recent formations. At the time of the Reformation, the Lower dialect gave way to the High German, which then became the language of books, and of the cultivated classes; though to this day, distinct traces of it are found in the Low German, for so the language of the more illiterate part of the community is called.
The Upper German dialect, the ancient literary remains of which are much more valuable than those of the Lower, branched out likewise into many subordinate dialects. Of these, the Suabian deserves attention, on account of the poetical character, which, in consequence of powerful external influences, it received under the Suabian emperors. The continual and bloody struggles in which the Spanish warriors were forced to engage, in order to defend themselves against the attacks of the valiant but infidel Saracens, inspired them with a degree of religious enthusiasm and chivalrous daring, such as failed not to call forth a similar spirit, and a corresponding taste, in the plains and castles of Provence, and of the south of Germany. The exhibition of this spirit of knighthood, fostered and widely diffused by the imperial house of Hohenstauffen, necessarily exercised a powerful influence upon the Suabian dialect, at that time the language of the court. Beauty, love, valor, and piety, were the themes of the melodious lays of the minnesingers, and kings and princes felt honored in being numbered among the crowds of these noble minstrels. As the sonorous and imposing sounds of the Æolic dialect once indicated to an Athenian audience, that they were about to be introduced into the world of poetry ; so did the full and melodious tones of the Suabian dialect form a poetical language, which remained almost entirely distinct from all the other popular dialects, until the deep and lofty spirit of these poetical productions had dwindled away into the compositions of the humble and rude artisan, and the wandering ballad-singer. The Suabian dialect then lost its ascendency, and, together with the other branches of the Upper German, gave way to the High German, which, principally by the agency of Luther, had been formed out of the two great German dialects, and by his excellent translation of the bible, had acquired a stability, which has enabled it to continue, unimpaired by the influence of more than three centuries. This sudden change in the language and literature of Germany, was but one of the important effects of that great moral revolution, by which, at that period, a large portion of Germany was freed from the thraldom of popery. Thus are spiritual influences often felt, when they are least anticipated, pervading all the relations of mankind with new life ; like the rivulet, which, near its source, loses itself under the earth, but gradually gathering strength, finally breaks forth as a powerful torrent, overthrowing the rocks and mountains which oppose its course, until beautifully meandering through the wide plains, it confers numberless blessings on all the countries around.
Dr. Wachler virtually acknowledges, that it is impossible to exhibit fully the literary life of a nation, without referring, at the same time, to its political history: a truth, which is most strikingly exhibited in the literary progress of Germany. The independent co-existence of several German states, over which the German emperor had only a very limited authority, and which seldom admitted the concentration of their internal interests, must be considered as one of the principal causes why almost all the great revolutions in the literary and social life of Germany, have been occasioned by external influences, and fostered by internal opposition. Neither the Latin controversies, and scholastic discussions, in which the followers of Luther were led to engage, nor the protracted and severe sufferings of the thirty years war, could prevent the spreading of that light, by which Germany had been
first illumined at the time of the Reformation, and which attempted opposition only caused to shine with increased splendor. It must also be ascribed, in a great measure, to the political state of Germany, that the baleful example of French manners and morals, in the time of Louis XIV, could not exercise so unlimited an influence, as might have been the case, if it could have been concentrated in one great focus,-in a German Paris. Finally, as respects the literary development of the Germans, it is likewise owing to their political constitution, that their literary productions have never been subjected to the absolute tyranny of regal censorship, nor have ever been measured by high-handed regulations, and fashionable standards of royal academies or literary inquisitions. The literary life of Germany, in its rapid development, has enjoyed independence ever since Martin Luther replied to the hierarchical pretensions of pope Leo X, by publicly burning the pontigcal bull, in the great square at Wirtemberg.
The influence which the philosophical inquiries of modern times have had on German prose, bas given rise to the unusual fact, that, in general, it is less difficult to understand the poetry than the prose of Germany; whilst another characteristic feature of the German language, -that of representing the slightest and most delicate shades of meaning by its variety of derivations and inflections,—has been developed, and tested to the utmost, by this modern regeneration of the science of the mind.
Having thus briefly adverted to the various branches of the German language, in accordance with the leading principles furnished by our author, we now proceed to glance at the present state of these branches of the language itsell. The High German, is founded originally on the partial combination of the Upper and Lower German dialects, which, before the time of Luther, were used for literary purposes; and so greatly do these dialects differ from each other, that a peasant from the south of Austria, would be unable to understand the Low German spoken by bis countrymen in the north. This difficulty results from the fact, that the distinction of High German and Low German is founded on a difference of rank; whilst the Upper and Lower dialects, refer to a difference of geographical situation.
The inbabitants of the Netherlands, originating from that part of Germany where the lower dialect prevailed, have had a language and a literature of their own, for the last three or four hundred years; though the political and commercial relations of that country, have combined io obliterate the traces of the German origio of this language. The High German, then, nor the Low German, is understood by the Dutch, unless through the assistance of the grammar and dictionary; and the Dutch, or Hollandish, is likewise as ill understood by the German. VOL. VU.
We may here add, that the distinctive character of these various languages and dialects, may be traced, in some measure, on this side of the Atlantic. The state of Pennsylvania is, in a great measure, inhabited by the descendants of German emigrants, who first arrived in New York, but who, having quarreled with the Dutch settlers there, removed in a body to Pennsylvania. As they came from the region of the Dutch settlers, and resembled them in their religion and social habits, the term “ Dutch” was very naturally applied to them; with as little propriety, however, as it is to their descendants of the present day. . With the exception only of the High German, spoken in the Moravian villages, their language is a compound of several Low German dialects, which, from an entire want of cultivation, bas so much degenerated, and has become so greatly alloyed with the colloquial English, that it is almost wholly unintelligible to a German directly from Europe, and accustomed only to the High German, and one or two of the Low German dialects.
That there are some English writers, who have used “High Dutch” and “ Low Dutch," instead of “ German" and “Dutch,” cannot weaken the justness of the distinctions which we have made above, and which are supported, both by philosophical research, and the strength of the best authorities. Such writers have been influenced by a popular error ; for such it must considered, so long as the distinctions which they have made, do not present the true state of things, as it exists in Germany and Holland, and while they are in spirit entirely opposed to the terms used by the inhabitants of those countries to which they reser. It may not be irrelevant here to add, that the term Deutsch, (nearly like Doitsh,) which is the vernacular word for German, and that of “Dutch, by their similarity of form, shadow forth the true relations of the two nations to which they belong; just as we should be led to conclude, from hearing of“ Britain” and “ Bretagne,” that the inhabitants of two countries had a common origin; whilst the words
High Dutch” and “Low Dutch,” would lead us to inferences which are contrary to the actual state of the languages to which they refer.
As a proof of that spirit of justice and truth which prevails in Dr. Wachler's work, we would refer our readers to the respect paid to the literary character of Uhland, a writer who is slightly known among us, and even too little known among his own countrymen; though his writings have been gradually gaining an increase of celebrity, and will eventually, we doubt not, be properly appreciated. We make no apology, (as we are sure our readers will feel none to be needed,) for inserting here a translation, by a friend, of one of Uhland's most beautiful poems, in which the spirit of the original is most happily preserved. The poet is
speaking of the tradition respecting a lost church, and the occasional sounding of its bell. In this tradition, he finally recognizes the spirit of martyrdoin, of self-devotion, of that deep and fervent, all-pervading piety, which once characterized the church; and in the sound of the bell, he hears the voice of conscience, whose tones of solemn monition are reverberating in undying faithfulness.
THE LOST CHURCH.