Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/87

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75
THE IMPORTATION OF GERMAN

generally understood that there was such a thing as German literature, and that an enlightened person should admire its great names. Coleridge had been talking about the reason and the understanding and object and subject from Highgate Hill for some thirteen years. Byron, though he knew no German, got Monk Lewis to read Faust to him, and had dedicated Sardanapalus (1821) to Goethe as the 'homage of a literary vassal to his liege lord.' Shelley had translated the prologue of Faust. Hare and Thirlwall were translating Niehbuhr. Pusey and H. J. Rose were arguing about the causes of the terrible phenomenon, German 'Neologism.' Sir W. Hamilton had gone to Germany, and had been impressed by metaphysical speculations utterly unknown to Stewart and Brown. Carlyle had been long translating and discoursing so far to very deaf ears. But these and later developments are beyond me. The history of the early explorers is, I think, curious, if only as illustrating the difficulty of persuading the Englishman to recognise the existence of anything beyond his insular world, and perhaps the later history would show how difficult it is afterwards to induce him to turn his knowledge to any account.