Editor’s Note: If European philosophy consists mainly of “a series of footnotes to Plato,” we may say with equal fairness that modern study of ancient Greece and Rome consists of deepening the trails blazed by intrepid 18th and 19th century Germans. (A conspicuously male group; most of Germany’s women historians, alas, did not become influential until after toxic hyper-masculinity had killed millions.) While the historians of other countries mainly focused on their own recent pasts, German historians of the 18th and 19th centuries reached across the ages into the ancient past and invented new historical disciplines like philology, archaeology, and narrative history to help us understand it, while some especially ambitious thinkers among them developed sweeping philosophies of history to explain why the world turned out the way it has and what we could expect going forward. What stuck out to me, however, as I explored this subject was just how varied and wide-ranging were the subject matters that various German historians of the time decided to investigate.
All photos are Public Domain, credit: Wikimedia.
- An Introduction to the History of the Chief Kingdoms and States Now in Europe (1684) by Samuel von Pufendorf
- The History of Ancient Art (1764) by Johann Joachim Winckelmann
- The History of Inventions, Discoveries, and Origins (1780 – 1805) by Johann Beckmann
- Outlines of a Philosophy of History (1784 – 1791) by Johann Gottfried Herder
- Historical Researches on the Politics, Intercourse, and Trade of the Ancient Nations of Africa (1790) by A.H.L. Heeren
- The History of Rome (1812 – 1827) by Barthold Georg Niebuhr
- History of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries . . . with Particular Reference to Mental Cultivation and Progress (1836 – 1848) by F.C. Schlosser
- The History of the Reformation in Germany (1854 – 1857) by Leopold von Ranke
- The History of the French Revolution (1867) by Heinrich von Sybel
- History of Rome (1854 – 1856) by Theodor Mommsen
- History of Germany in the 19th Century (1894) by Heinrich von Treitschke
So Pufendorf was not alive in the 18th or 19th century, but he was a German and one of the true intellectual giants of his age, so he belongs. His magnum opus is his 8-volume Of the Law of Nature and Of Nations. He also wrote a History of Sweden, but the excerpt offered here is from a work perhaps better suited for readers looking for entrée into the time period, a general survey of the major powers in Europe in the 17th century. (This reads something like the origin story, or founding myth, of Politics.)
The Origin of Civil Societies
But the Reason why Fathers of Families left this separate way of Living, and joined in a mutual civil Society, seems to be, that among the Neighbouring Families, sometimes Quarrels us’d to arise, which being often decided by Force, drew along with them very great Inconveniencies; to prevent which, it was thought necessary, for the Preservation of Peace and Quietness among Neighbours, to leave the Decision of such Matters to the Judgment of some of the wisest and most considerable among them. Besides, upon the Increase of Mankind, the Insolence and Violence of dissolute Men, became so remarkable and notorious, that a small handful of ill Men combining together, could with the greatest Ease oppress and ruined a single Man with his Wife and Children: And to guard off such Injuries, the Neighbours that lived so near as to be able to assist one another in case of Necessity, did enter into a Society mutually to defend themselves against their common Enemies. That they might do this with the better success, the supream Government of the Society was committed to him, who appeared most considerable for his Wisdom and Valour. And this Office of a Judge, Head, or Leader, degenerated by degree, into that sort of Government that Aristotle calls Heroical; which indeed is nothing else but a Democracy presided over by one of the Citizens, who has a Power rather to advise than to command the rest. Now this seems to be the most ancient Form of Republicks: For the Fathers and Masters of Families could not so soon forget their Liberty, as not to reserve to themselves a share in the Government, by which their Consent was necessary at least in all Affairs, that were to be decreed in the Name of the whole Society.
Winckelmann is fascinating on so many levels: he is one of the first major archaeologists, the first modern to theorize in great depth about the canons of ancient art, he also arguably brought into popularity an aesthetic idea in Germany of subordinating the parts of an art work to the overall design and effect; he was a towering influence on subsequent German writers like Goethe and Schilling, and this book—in which Winckelmann describes the development of art from the Egyptians and Babylonians through the Greeks and Romans—is considered his masterpiece. His tendency towards fascinating (and often boldly wrong) aesthetic proclamations about the art of different climes is shown in the excerpt below, though to Winckelmann’s credit there is nothing like a little controversy to get conversations rolling. (Also: He was an openly gay man—in the 18th century!)
The Influence of Climate on Art
When I speak of the natural capacity, generally, of these nations [Greece and Italy] for art, I do not thereby mean to deny the same capacity to individuals in countries on the other side of the mountains, because experience furnishes striking proofs to the contrary. For Holbein and Albert Dürer, the fathers of art in Germany, have exhibited astonishing talent in it; and if it had been in their power to study and imitate the works of the ancients, like Raphael, Correggio, and Titian, they would have been equally as great as these; they might, perhaps, have surpassed them. Even Correggio did not attain his greatness without some knowledge of antiquity,—though it is generally said that he did. . . . Some one has remarked, not without reason, that the poets on the other side of the mountains speak through images, but afford few pictures. It must even be confessed, that the astonishing, partly fearful pictures, in which Milton’s greatness consists, cannot be the subjects of a noble pencil, but are absolutely unfit to be painted. Milton’s descriptions, with the single exception of his picture of Love in Paradise, are like Gorgons beautifully painted, similar to each other, and similarly terrible. The images of many other poets are great to the ear, but small to the understanding. In Homer, everything is painted, and devised and created to be painted. The warmer the region is in Italy, the great are the talents to which it gives birth, and the more ardent the imagination; and the works of the Sicilian poets are full of rare, new, and unexpected images. This glowing imagination, however, is not of a stimulated and vehement nature: like the temperament of the inhabitants, and the temperature of the country, it is more uniform than in colder climates; for nature bestows a happy dulness of disposition more frequently on the inhabitants of the latter than of the former.
Johann Beckmann, a Professor of œconomy (with an œ!) at Göttingen in the 18th century, invented the systematic study of craft trades, a discipline to which he gave the name technology. (To clarify: He didn’t invent the word; he was just the first person to use in this way that we recognize it today.) He sought to compare different industrial processes so as to establish best practices, wrote the first scientific textbooks of agriculture, and wrote the fun and fascinating work I am excerpting here, which is like an 18th century encyclopedia of the origins of various technologies that were around in Beckmann’s time.
Insurance, that excellent establishment by which losses that would entirely ruins a merchant being divided among a company, are rendered supportable, and almost imperceptible; by which undertakings too great for one person are easily accomplished, and by which commodities brought from the most distant regions are made cheaper, appears not to have been known to the Romans, however near they may have come to the invention of it. If we examine closely the information from which some endeavour to prove the contrary, it will be found that it is far from sufficient to support their opinion. [There follows a lengthy and fascinating history of insurance in Europe.]
Notwithstanding the magnificence of the Grecian and Roman architecture, which we still admire in those ruins that remain as monuments of the talents and genius of the ancient builders, it is very doubtful whether their common dwelling-houses had chimneys, that is, passages or funnels formed in the walls for conveying away the smoke from the fire-place or stoves through which the different stories to the summit of the edifice; conveniences which are not wanting in the meanest of our houses at present, and in the smallest of our villages. This questions some have pretended to determine without much labour or research. How can we suppose, say they, that the Romans, our masters in the art of building, should not have devised and invented some means to keep free from smoke their elegant habitations, which were furnished and ornamented in a splendid and costly manner? How is it possible that a people who purchased ease and convenience at the greatest expense, should suffer their apartments to be filled with smoke, which must have allowed them to enjoy scarcely a moment of pleasure? And how could their cooks dress in smoky kitchens the various sumptuous dishes with which the most refined voluptuaries covered their tables? One must however be very little acquainted with the history of inventions and manners to consider such bare conjectures as decisive proofs. It is undoubtedly certain, that many of our common necessaries were for many centuries unknown to the most enlightened nations, and that they are in part still wanting in some countries at present. Besides, it is probable that before the inventions of chimneys, other means, now forgotten, were employed to remove smoke.
Herder exercised an outsized influence in a wide range of philosophical disciplines. He criticizes traditional historical writing for emphasizing nobility and wars, arguing that far from being the most enlightening aspects of history these are the most repugnant and, in the grand scheme of things, are not as important as changes in psychology and idea systems. He held that we should study the “inner” parts of human history because these show humans at their moral best and in their greatest diversity (i.e. every society makes war, but examining how German culture differs from English culture or Ottoman culture was as yet a largely unexplored subject.) Herder is also one of the first philosophers to describe how human understanding is mediated by language. In this excerpt Herder extols the importance of speech.
From Book 9, Ch. 2, “Language is the special Mean of improving Man”
Should anyone ask, how images depicted on the eye, and all the perceptions of our most opposite senses, are not only capable of being represented by sounds, but these sounds are endued with such inherent power, that they can express thoughts and excite them; no doubt the problem would be deemed the sally of a madman, who, substituting the most dissimilar things for each other, thought of making colour sounds, sound thought, and thought a depicting voice. This problem the deity has effectively solved. The breath of our moths is the picture of the world, the type that exhibits our thoughts and feelings to the mind of another. All that man has ever thought, willed, done, or will do, of human, upon Earth, has depended on the movement of a breath of air: for if this divine breath had not inspired us, and floated like a charm on our lips, we should have still been wanderers in the woods. The whole history of man, therefore, with all the treasures of tradition and cultivation, is nothing but a consequence of the solution of this divine problem.
Arnold Hermann Ludwig Heeren’s claim to fame is that he was perhaps the first historian to focus on the concrete workings of commerce and international diplomacy; he had little use for philosophies of history like those of Herder and Hegel. His most massive work (magisterial, I suppose, is the more eloquent-sounding synonym of massive) is his Historical Researches into the Politics, Intercourse, and Trade of the Principal Nations of Antiquity, of which the volume on the nations of Africa is but one part; it was however a highly significant part, since it was the first work by a European historian which described the commercial sea-borne empires of the Phoenicians, Egyptians, and Carthaginians, who had heretofore been given short-shrift. But he wasn’t just a historian of ancient history: he also wrote a work describing the modern international economic and political system of Europe, A Manual of the History of the Political System of Europe and Its Colonies. It is rather shocking/refreshing—and contrary to our impression of the times—to find how despite his vast ignorance of the subject in comparison to what we now know of Africa, Hereen manages to steer relatively clear of Eurocentrism and blaise imperialism.
From “Geographical Survey of the Ethiopian Nations”
Ethiopia, the most distant region of the Earth, whose inhabitants are the tallest, most beautiful, and long-lived of the human race. – Herodotus, 111, 114.
Until we can obtain fuller and better information respecting the nations of inner Africa, there must necessarily remain several wide gaps in the history of our race, [Abe’s note: not the white, but the human race!] whose number and greatness it will perhaps be impossible to estimate correctly until these shall have been filled up. This observations may be applied indifferently to the moral and physical state of man. Africa, from its situation, naturally contains the greatest variety of the human race, in a physical point of view; and it may be fair to conjecture, from that very circumstance, that the moral differences are equally numerous.
He who wishes to examine the influences of the climate on nature, and particularly on the outward figure and colour of man, will find Africa the only quarter of the world which offers him an unbroken chain from the almost the highest to the lowest grade of civilization. Neither Europe nor Asia contain continents which reach to the equator; in America various causes concur to weaken the influence of climate; besides which European policy has taken so much pains since its discovery to exterminate and corrupt the aboriginal tribes, particularly the better and more cultivated, that the philosopher is deprived of the materials most worthy of. . . . Except the Egyptians, there is no aboriginal people of Africa with so many claims upon our attentions as the Ethiopians; from the remotest times to the present, one of the most celebrated and yet most mysterious of nations. In the earliest traditions of nearly all the more civilized of antiquity, the name of this distant people is found. The annals of the Egyptian priests were full of them; the nations of inner Asia, on the Euphrates and Tigris, have interwoven the fictions of the Ethiopian with their own traditions of the conquests and wars of their heroes; and, at a period equally remote, they glimmer in Greek mythology. When the Greeks scarcely knew Italy and Sicily by name, the Ethiopians were celebrated in the verses of their poets: “they are the remotest nation, the most just of men; the favourites of the gods. The lofty inhabitants of Olympus journey to them, and take part in their feasts; their sacrifices are the most agreeable of all that mortals can offer them.” And when the faint gleam of tradition and fable gives way to the clear light of history, the lustre of the Ethiopians is not diminished. They still continue the object of curiosity and admiration; and the pen of cautious, clear-sighted historians, often places them in the highest rank of knowledge and civilization.
If all former bankers could write the pants off a paragraph like B.G. Niebuhr, I daresay we’d have much more respectable class of banker. So I read, cursorily, that Niebuhr was a man of business before devoting himself to history, that he very quickly proved an extraordinary success once he turned his hand to it. But there is nothing like opening the pages of a book for letting you commune with other minds, however workmanlike or impractical, however pretty or dull. In Niebuhr, I read a very powerful, original thinker. His periods are as weighty as Gibbon’s or Jeremy Taylor’s; just a great stylist.
As the sea receives the rivers, so the history of Rome receives into itself that of all the other nations which had previously been of name in the world around the Mediterranean. Many appear here only to perish immediately: others maintain their existence for a time, mostly in a struggle; but the contact sooner or later proves fatal. The history of the Romans must not allow that an image which shall give substance to the names of these nations, that a notion of their condition and character be sought elsewhere, and perchance not found; neither must it permit them to be passed by heedlessly, while an empty name or conceptions caught up at random are deemed sufficient: its business is to exhibit a satisfactory representation of them, so far as this can be effect by research and reflexion.
Livy had no such aims: he wrote, because nature had endowed him with a highly brilliant gift of seizing what is characteristic in humanity, and of narration; with the talent of a poet, only without the command of metrical language, or the delight in it. He wrote, not doubting, and yet without conviction, in the same spirit in which the marvellous legends of the heroic ages were commonly drawn down into history, even by those among his contemporaries who in the concerns of the present time and of their own experience were nothing less than credulous, at a period when a careless belief continued undisturbed from childhood on throughout life. Even those primitive time in which the gods walk among mankind, he would not absolutely reject. . . . The constution he altogether neglected, except when internal discord turned his attention toward it.
His wish was to forget the degeneracy of his own age, while reviving the recollection of what had been glorious or excellent in former times; and the easy security wherein the weary world was beginning to breath again could not but comfort him in his melancholy when he was delineating the fearful events of the civil wars: he desired to teach his countrymen to know and admire the deeds of their ancestors, which had been forgotten, or were heard of only from lisping narratives: and he bestowed on their literature a colossal masterwork, with which the Greeks have nothing of its kind to compare; nor can any modern people place a similar work beside it. No loss that has befallen us in Roman literature, is comparable to that of his books which have perished.
This work was an instant hit in Germany and France because the author was not so much writing the history of nobility and warfare but rather Schlosser discusses literature and art as a means of explaining changes in the social conditions and (for lack of a better word) zeitgeist the various nations of Europe. What Schlosser sacrifices in accuracy and precision, he makes up for with his grand sweeping narrative style wherein he draws broad connections between the literary and political movements of world history.)
From Book 1, Ch. 1, “Reformation or Revolution of Philosophy and Literature in England”
At the conclusion of the introduction to this volume, we have remarked, that the political changes in England at the end of the seventeenth century had given rise to a contest about the foundations and principles of divine and human order, which sooner or later must prove destructive to the whole existing system of the middle ages. Those who doubted and scoffed, were, however, by no means, the organs of the popular voice; on the contrary, the bold innovators, both in Holland and in England—where alone their writings were tolerated by the police—had most to fear from the higher powers and from the people, notwithstanding a party ruled in both countries at the beginning of the century who boasted that they had been the defenders of freedom, and had even maintained the republican constitution in Holland. This party, called Whigs in England, opponents of the House of Orange in Holland, was however, quite as near, nay, perhaps more nearly, approximated to the middle ages than their adversaries. The Anglican Whigs, the strict Calvinists who governed Holland, and the Dominies of their pulpits, were, after their own fashion, just as fanatical as the Jesuits in Spain, Austria, or France: both covered their worldly views with the mantle of hypocritical piety. The small number of persons in England who purchased a share in the government, or who were purchased by it, exhibited no greater respect for the laws of morality than the servants of absolute monarchs. The gentlemen of consequence in England and Ireland, precisely in the same manner as the government in France, considered the church and its possessions as the property and the asylum of their relatives and favourites.
It was these circumstances which gave strength and attraction to awakened scepticism, and to the teaching of sound reason in opposition to the prevailing positive dogmas of the church and the petrified wisdom of the schools; and there arose a class of writers who directed the whole power of their wit against the prevailing dogmas. We shall indeed see that the first properly decisive attack was made from Paris or Berlin; but we must search for the weapons, armour, materials, and preparations for the battle in England.
Ranke is the historian’s historian. A pioneer in the field of historiography, he introduced many of the techniques we think of today as “scientific history,” like favoring the use of primary sources such as documents, letters, and eye-witness accounts over the authority of secondary sources writing years after the fact. He considered himself an exacting empiricist who preferred to allow historical evidence to tell the story, however complex that story ended up being. He was highly skeptical of philosophies of history like Hegel’s, which he felt oversimplified historical reality and did not sufficiently account for individual human agency.
I see the time approach in which we shall no longer have to found modem history on the reports even of contemporary historians, except in so far as they were in possession of personal and immediate knowledge of facts; still less, on works yet more remote from the source; but on the narratives of eye-witnesses, and the genuine and original documents. For the epoch treated in the following work, this prospect is no distant one. I myself have made use of a number of records which I had found when in the pursuit of another subject, in the Archives of Vienna, Venice, Rome, and especially Florence. Had I gone into further detail, I should have run the risk of losing sight of the subject as a whole; or in the neces-sary lapse of time, of breaking the unity of the conception which had arisen before my mind in the course of my past researches . . And thus I proceeded boldly to the completion of this work ; persuaded that when an inquirer has made researches of some extent in authentic records, with an earnest spirit and a genuine ardour for truth, though later discoveries may throw clearer and more certain light on details, they can only strengthen his fundamental conceptions of the subject:-for truth can be but one.
Sybel is credited with writing the most sober, “objective” history of the French Revolution; of course the critics who say that are all 19th century Brits and Germans, so take that with a grain of salt. However, the promise of a more encompassing, sociological examination of conditios in France before, during, and after the Revolution, seems promising. Because while Thiers and Carlyle might be fun to read, but in the back of your mind you think, “This isn’t really history.” This remarkable, almost Gothic-sounding excerpt about the conditions of the French peasantry under the ancien regime in France brings the locale to life in the sober (yet heartbreaking) manner of a strait-laced documentary.
It was impossible for the peasant under such circumstances to gain a livelihood; the produce of 10 hectares was scarcely sufficient to support his family, and sale and profit were out of the question. The man who is thus condemned to pass his life in starvation, soon learns to fold his hands in idleness. A constantly increasing extent of country lay uncultivated . . . Millions of rural dwellings had no aperture in them but the door, or at most one window; the people had no clothing but a home-made, coarse, and yet not thick, woollen cloth; in many provinces every one went bare-foot, and in others only wooden shoes were known. The food of the people was gruel with a little lard; in the evening a piece of bread, and on great occasions a little bacon; but, besides this, no meat for months together, and in many districts no wine at all. The mental condition of the people was in accordance with their external circumstances. Books and newspapers were as little known in the villages as reading and writing. The peasants depended for their instruction on the pastors and parish clerks, proletaries like themselves, who very seldom got beyond the horizon of the church steeple. The Church was, after all, the only institution which threw an intellectual spark into their wretched life; but unfortunately their religious impulses were strongly mixed with barbarism and superstition. In many large districts of the South, the peasants had no other idea of a protestant, than as of a dangerous magician, who ought to be knocked on the head. Their own faith, moreover, was interwoven with a multitude of the strangest images of old Celtic heathenism. Of the world outside they heard nothing, for there was next to no traffic or traveling in the country. There were some royal roads, magnificently made, and sixty feet in breadth—splendid monuments of monarchical ostentation. On these, however, up to 1776, only two small coaches ran, throughout the whole of France; and the traveller might pass whole days without getting sight of any other vehicle. Only a few villages, in the most favoured provinces, possessed cross-roads to these great highways, or to the nearest market town. And thus the whole existence of these people was passed in toil and privation; without any pleasures, except the sight of the gaudy decorations of a few church festivals; without any change, save when hunger drove an individual, here and there, to seek day-labour in the towns, or into military service. It was seldom that such a one ever returned to his father’s house, so that his fellow-villagers gained no advantage from his wider experience.
Under these circumstances, the relation between peasant and lord was naturally a deplorable one. What we have already said, sufficiently characterizes a community, in which all the enjoyments fell to the rich, and all the burdens were heaped upon the poor.
MOMMSEN!!!! (Sorry, I’m just enjoying this Mark Twain anecdote too much.) So you might be saying, Yet another history of Rome—ho-hum. But would it change your mind if I told you that this history of Rome turned its author into an instant celebrity and won him the Nobel Prize in Literature for 1902. This googly-eyed little man was cited by the Nobel committee as “the greatest living master of the art of historical writing.” (So basically he was the Robert Caro of Rome.) There are so many beautiful passages in this work that excerpting it seems downright silly, but my bias towards lit criticism swayed me towards this selection:
Artistic Endowment of the Italians
Poetry is impassioned language, and its modulation is melody. While in this sense no people is without poetry and music, some nations have received a pre-eminent endowment of poetic gifts. The Italian nation, however, was not and is not one of these. The Italian is deficient in the passion of the heart, in the longing to idealize what is human and to confer humanity on what is lifeless, which form the very essence of poetic art. His acuteness of perception and his graceful versatility enabled him to excel in irony and in the vein of tale-telling which we find in Horace and Boccaccio, in the humorous pleasantries of love and song which are presented in Catullus and in the good popular songs of Naples, above all in the lower comedy and in farce. Italian soil gave birth in ancient times to burlesque tragedy, and in modern times to mock-heroic poetry. In rhetoric and histrionic art especially no other nation equalled or equals the Italians. But in the more perfect kinds of art they have hardly advanced beyond dexterity of execution, and no epoch of their literature has produced a true epos or a genuine drama. The very highest literary works that have been successfully produced in Italy, divine poems like Dante’s Commedia, and historical treatises such as those of Sallust and Macchiavelli, of Tacitus and Colletta, are pervaded by a passion more rhetorical than spontaneous. Even in music, both in ancient and modern times, really creative talent has been far less conspicuous than the accomplishment which speedily assumes the character of virtuosoship, and enthrones in the room of genuine and genial art a hollow and heart-withering idol. The field of the inward in art—so far as we may in the case of art distinguish an inward and an outward at all—is not that which has fallen to the Italian as his special province; the power of beauty, to have its full effect upon him, must be placed not ideally before his mind, but sensuously before his eyes. Accordingly he is thoroughly at home in architecture, painting, and sculpture; in these he was during the epoch of ancient culture the best disciple of the Hellenes, and in modern times he has become the master of all nations.
And it sounds like this is where we start to go off the rails, because while Heinrich von Treitschke’s translator hails this work as a “literary masterpiece,” it also says here that Treitschke was an outspoken nationalist/proponent of German exceptionalism, a real blood-and-soil type. We can read in this excerpt, ostensibly about the Thirty Years War, some (admittedly gorgeous but retrospectively terrifying) vision of Trietschke’s odd Germanic version of the Lost Cause. The prose has a captivating, gritty quality.
Then at length the last and decisive war of the epoch, the war of the religions, broke out. The home of Protestantism became also its battle-ground. All the powers of Europe took part in the war. The scum of all nations was heaped up on German soil. In a disturbance without parallel, the old Germany passed away. Those who had once aimed at world-dominion were now, by the pitiless justice of history, placed under the feet of the stranger. The Rhine and the Ems, the Elbe and the Weser, the Oder and the Vistula, all the ways to the sea, became “captives of foreign nations”; on the Upper Rhine were established the outposts of French rule, while the south-east became subject to the dominion of the Hapsburgs and of the Jesuits. Two-thirds of the entire nation were involved in this dreadful war; the people, degenerating into savagery, carrying on a burdened life amid dirt and poverty, no longer displayed the old greatness of the German character, were no longer animated by the free-spirited and serene heroism of their ancestors. The dominion of an ancient civilization, that civilization which alone adorns and ennobles existence, had disappeared into oblivion; forgotten were even the craft-secrets of the guilds. The nation, which once had sung of Kriemhild’s revenge, and which had fortified its heart by the heroic strains of Luther’s hymns, now embellished its impoverished speech with foreign tinsel,and those who still remained capable of profound thought wrote French or Latin. The entire life of Germany lay open without defence to the influence of the superior civilization of the foreigner. Under the urgency of the Swedish distresses, amid the petty sorrows of poverty-stricken everyday life, the very memory of the gliries of the wonderful centuries of old disappeared from the minds of the masses; in the transformed world, the ancient cathedrals, witnesses to the former magnificence of German burghership, seemed strange and unfriendly. Not till a century and a half had elapsed were the treasures of ancient German poetry recovered by the laborious research of learned investigators, so that all were astonished at the wealth of the former treasure-house. Never was any other nation so forcibly estranged from itself and from its own past; not even modern France is separated by so profound a chasm from the days of the old regime.