Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/56
STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER
In the last half of the century, however, many who were neither critics nor men of science were beginning to be interested in German. The translator had long been one of the proverbial denizens of a bookseller's garret. Johnson and Goldsmith had both toiled in that lamentable prison-house. Voltaire, Rousseau, and their compatriots had been speedily done into English, and the existence of a new field for exploitation began to be recognised. The German literature at its start was profoundly influenced by English models. That 'heavenly book,' Clarissa Harlowe, for instance, was welcomed by Mrs. Klopstock's charming homage as warmly as by any of the incense of Richardson's domestic circle. How deeply many famous Germans drank from English sources is matter of familiar history. The compliment was now to be returned. Mr. Herzfeld has collected many illustrations. Gessner's Death of Abel was translated in 1761, and twenty editions appeared by 1799. Klopstock's Messiah
himself and made himself known in later years in certain smart controversies, where he horrified the Evangelical and the Bible Society by arguing that the use of such edged tools as Biblical criticism should be reserved to orthodox experts.