Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/83

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71
THE IMPORTATION OF GERMAN

change of sentiment. Carlyle, we know, looked up to Goethe as the great prophet of the time. It is a puzzle, not here to be considered, how Carlyle came to be so profoundly impressed by a man so diametrically opposed to him in many ways; and it may be inquired whether Carlyle's Goethe was not something quite different from the Goethe of other people, and, indeed, of historical fact. Anyhow, to Carlyle, and to his English contemporaries, German poetry, as well as German philosophy and historical criticism, had come as a revelation. It meant that a new light had dawned upon the world: that an escape was opened from that wicked old eighteenth century, with its scepticism and its materialism, and that a real survey must correspond to some appreciation of the great spiritual revolution of the age. Now, Taylor, as Carlyle puts it, had simply 'no theorem of Germany and its intellectual progress, not even a false one.' That is precisely the case. When, for example, Taylor compares Goethe, Schiller, and Kotzebue, and shows, in the proper formula of critical balancing, how one is remarkable for 'invention,' and the second for 'pathos,' and the third for 'truth to nature,' he has obviously no glimmering of the relative proportions of