On this page
- Text (2)
Note: This text has been automatically extracted via Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. The text has not been manually corrected and should not be relied on to be an accurate representation of the item.
Additionally, when viewing full transcripts, extracted text may not be in the same order as the original document.
that our brethren beyond the water are chargeable with a neglect of continental literature . We have as yet seen no notice of consequence , in any British Journal , of Mr . Bouterwek ' s History of English Poetry , which forms a
portion of his large History of Belles Lettres in modern Europe . Sismondi has borrowed liberally from this work , and professes bis obligations to it * And though a work embracing the elegant literature of the Portuguese , Spanish , French , Italian , German and
English languages , cannot be expected to be executed equally well in every part , yet we surely have no book in our own language which can claim equality with that portion of Mr .
Bouterwek ' s which treats of England . The French have long since translated the volumes which contain the history of their literature ; but those which are devoted to that of England are not even known to the nation most
concerned to read them . There is , in fact , a superciliousness in the manner in which our transatlantic brethren are apt to speak of Germany and German learning , highly unbecoming the courtesy of true scholarship , and
unfavourable to the progress of learning . It is an inadequate excuse for this , that they do not understand the language and literature which they disparage . For , besides that not understanding a thing is a poor excuse for vilifying it , the same unfriendly spirit prevails in those
departments of study which are pursued in the Latin language . We have never witnessed without regret the unfriendly tone assumed by so great and wonderful a man as Porson toward
scholars like Hermann and Jacobs ; and this feeling of regret at a tone , which the unquestioned superiority of Porson might palliate in him , turns into diagust when we see it imitated by such disciples as Bioomfield and Kidd toward men like Seidler and
Schaefer . The cause of classical learning in England needs not the aid of such an affectation of superiority . For though the number of profound classical scholars is far greater in Germany than in England , and the progress made iaue
" by the Germans in some p arts Dy the Germans in some parts of classical literature , as particularly the doctrine of the Greek metres , is l ) e yond any thing which the English P ress lias yet shewn us , still the memory of Porson . and the reputation of
Gaisford , Eimsley and Dobre , are praise enough for this generation , to enable it to enter honourably into the comparison with any other country or age in the department of Greek literature . We should not have dwelt so
long on this topic , had not the cause of learning suffered a serious detriment from the unfriendly spirit in question , of which we will give one more instance . It is known to every biblical scholar , that the translation of Michaelis by the present Bishop of ^ Peterborough , the only living theologian of any considerable note in the Chureh of
England , has produced anew era in the science of tbeology in that country . It was , therefore , to be supposed ,, that farther light and aid from this language would have come with a favourable prepossession to English biblical critics . So far has this fair expectation been disappointed , that every attempt to translate Eichhorn ' s Introduction to
the Old Testament—a work in . every respect incomparably superior to the Introduction , of Michaelis to the New Testament — has been systematically discouraged . Dr . Geddes informs us , in a Latin letter to Eichhorn , appended to Good ' s Life of the Doctor , that on
his presenting a proposal for such a translation to Bishop Horsley , he was treated with great rudeness by that prelate . This might the sooner be pardoned from Bishop Horsley , who , not knowing the German language , might more naturally be insensible to the value of an author like Eichhorn .
But what shall we say to language like that which we are about Jo quote from Bishop Marsh himself , the translator of Michaelis , whom ten years' residence at Leipsic must have put in a
capacity , one would think , to translate any German author : * ' Nor can . it be necessary to say any thing more at present of Eichhorn ' s Introduction , which has never been translated , and
from the difficulties , both of the language and of the subject , cannot be understood by many English readers . " ( Lect . Hi . p . 60 , Amer . edit . ) Does this mean that an English reader , not understanding German , would be unable to read the work ? If it do . the
proposition is correct to be sure , but singularly nugatory . If it mean that an English reader , understanding German , would still be unable to under stand this work , we wonder at the
Selections from <( Tlie North American Review" 449
vol . xvi . 3 n
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Aug. 2, 1821, page 449, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct2503/page/9/