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sensitive comforts, and I entered with unscrupulous sympathy into the enjoyments and comforts even of the busy, anxious, moneyloving merchants of Hamburg. In this charitable and catholic mood I reached the vast ramparts of the city. These are huge green cushions, one rising above the other, with trees growing in the interspaces, pledges and symbols of a long peace.
Of my return I have nothing worth commmunicating, except that I took extra post, which answers to posting in England. These north German post chaises are uncovered wicker carts. An English dustcart is a piece of finery, a chef d'oeuvre of mechanism, compared with them: and the horses! a savage might use their ribs instead of his fingers for a numeration table. Wherever we stopped, the postilion fed his cattle with the brown rye bread of which he eat himself, all breakfasting together, only the horses had no gin to their water, and the postillion no water to his gin. Now and henceforward for subjects of more interest to you, and to the objects in search of which I left you: namely, the literati and literature of Germany.
Believe ine, I walked with an impression of awe on my spirits, as W- and myself accompanied Mr. Klopstock to the house of his brother, the poet, which stands about a quarter of a mile from the city gate. It is one of a row of and not in the even flow, much less in the prominence or antithetic vigour, of single lines, which were indeed injurious to the total effect, except where they were introduced for some specific purpose. Klopstock assented, and said that he meant to confine Glover's superiority to single lines. He told us that he had read Milton, in a prose translation, when he was fourteen.* I understood him thus myself, and Winterpreted Klopstock's French as I had already construed it. He appeared to know very little of Milton-or indeed of our poets in general. He spoke with great indignation of the English prose translation of his Messiah. All the translations had been bad, very bad—but the English was no translation--there were pages on pages not in the original :—and half the original was not to be found in the translation. W
told him that I intended to translate a few of his odes as specimens of German lyrics—he then said to me in English, “ I wish you would render into English some select passages of the Messiah, and revenge me of your countryman!” It was the liveliest thing which he produced in the whole conversation. He told us, that his first ode was fifty years older than his last. I looked at him with much emotion-I considered him as the venerable father of German poetry; as a good man; as a Christian; seventy-four years old; with legs enormously swoln; yet active, lively, chearful, and kind, and communicative. My eyes felt as if a tear were swelling into them. In the portrait of Lessing there was a toupee perriwig, which enormously injured the effect of his physiognomy-Klopstock wore the same, powdered and frizzled. By the bye, old men ought never to wear powder-the contrast between a large snow-white wig and the colour of an old man's skin is disgusting, and wrinkles in such a neighbourhood appear only channels for dirt. It is an honour to poets and great men, that you think of them as parts of nature; and any thing of trick and fashion wounds you in them as much as when you see venerable yews clipped into miserable peacocks. The author of the Messiah should have worn his own grey hair.—His powder and perriwig were to the eye what Mr. Virgil would be to the ear.
* This was accidentally confirmed to me by an old German gentleman at Helmstadt, who had been Klopstock's school and bed-fellow. Among other boy ish anecdotes, he related that the young poet set a particular value on a translation of the Paradise Lost, and always slept with it under his pillow.
Klopstock dwelt much on the superior power which the German language possessed of concentrating meaning. He said, he had often translated parts of Homer and Virgil, line by line, and a German line proved always sufficient for a Greek or Latin one. In English you
cannot do this. I answered, that in English we could commonly render one Greek heroic line in a line and a half of our common heroic metre and I conjectured that this line and a half would be found to contain no more syllables than one German or Greek hexameter. He did not understand me: * and I who wished to hear his
Klopstock's observation was partly true and partly erroneous. In the literal sense of his words, and if we confine the comparison to the average of space required for the expression of the same thought in the two languages, it is erroneous. I have translated some German hexameters into English hexameters, and find, that on the average three lines English will express four lines German. The reason is evident : our language abounds in monosyllables and dissyllables. The German, not less than the Greek, is a polysyllable language. But in another point of view the remark was not without foundation. For the German possessing the same unlimited privilege of forming compounds, both with prepositions and with epithets as the Greek, it can express the richest single Greek word in a single German one, and is thus freed from the necessity of weak or ungraceful paraphrases. I will content myself with one example at present, viz. the use of the prefixed particles ver, zer, ent, and weg: thus, reissen to rend, verreissen to rend away, zerreisser to rend to pieces, entreissen to rend off or out of a thing, in the active sense : or schmelzen to melt_ver, zer, ent, schmelzen-and in like manner through all the verbs neuter and active. If you consider only how much we should feel the loss of the prefix be, as in bedropt, besprinkle, besot, especially in our poetical language, and then think that this same mode of composition is carried through all their simple and compound prepositions, and many of their adverbs; and that with most of these the Germans have the same privilege as we have
opinions, not to correct them, was glad that he did not.
We now took our leave.' At the beginning of the French Revolution Klopstock wrote odes of congratulation. He received some honorary presents from the French Republic (a golden crown I believe) and, like our Priestly, was invited to a seat in the legislature, which he declined. But when French liberty metamorphosed herself into a fury, he sent back these presents with a palinodia, declaring his abhorrence of their proceedings: and since then he has been
of dividing them from the verb and placing them at the end of the sentence; you will have no difficulty in comprehending the reality and the cause of this superior power in the German of condensing meaning, in which its great poet exulted. It is impossible to read half a dozen pages of Wieland without perceiving that in this respect the German has no rival but the Greek. And yet I seem to feel, that concentration or condensation is not the happiest mode of expressing this excellence, which seems to consist not so much in the less time required for conveying an impression, as in the unity and simultaneousness with which the impression is conveyed. It tends to make their language more picturesque: it depictures images better. We have obtained this power in part by our compound verbs derived from the Latin : and the sense of its great effect no doubt induced our Milton both to the use and the abuse of Latin derivatives. But still these prefixed particles, conveying no separate or separable meaning to the mere English . reader, cannot possibly act on the mind with the force or liveliness of an original and homogeneous language such as the German is, and besides are confined to certain words.