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over the head and face wherever it be possible. When the paper is burnt out, the fury of the pursuers ceases also, and the Fat Foxes are advanced to the rank of Brand Foxes; a dignity which, in another half-year, they will change for that of Young Burschen.”
Shooting, as it is called, is another characteristic but questionable pastime, at which Herr Von Plauen was an adept.
“On holy St. Nicholas's day, a worthy citizen of the place, whose little son also was called Nicholas, prepared a feast for some guests, the chief ornament of which was a goose, as fine as ever gaggled and screamed in the Pfalz. The goose was carried up; the guests had not, however, yet made their appearance ; but the little son was impatient, and, howling and crying, desired a slice from the goose. The father strove in vain to quiet him; he howled and cried on. Then,' said the old man, 'I will give the goose to the Pelznickel.' (In our country there go from house to house, on St. Nicholas's day, fellows in disguise, who inquire into the past behaviour of the children, and give to the good ones apples, nuts, and little cakes, but warn the bad and threaten them with the rod. These disguised personages are styled Pelznickel.) With the word, the old man set the dish with the goose in it on the outside of the window. This frightened the little one; he promised to be quiet if the father would take the goose in again ; whereupon the father reached the dish in again, but to his astounding, the goose was gone! It was already rapidly on its way to the city of Dusseldorf, (a Wirthshaus in Heidelberg); where the Herr Von Plauen and his companions found it smack right delectably with their red wine.
“A similar passage once befell our hero in the village Sclangenbach, where he was for a long time the guest of the Amtmann. They both, he and the Amtmann, who had himself been a lusty student, made a call on the Frau Pfarrerin, the parson's lady. They talked of this and that; of husbandry, and of poultry and geese. “Ay,' said the parson's lady, 'I have a goose hanging above, you may match it if you can. But with what care and labour have I fed it myself, and stuffed it myself with the best India corn that was to be got! But, gentlemen, you shall judge for yourselves. I invite you next Sunday to discuss this famous goose.'
". And yet,' said Plauen, ‘I will wager that the Amtmann has one that is quite as good.'
• Impossible!' exclaimed the Frau Pfarrerin. " • Amtmann,' rejoined Plauen, you won't admit that-I challenge you to invite the Frau Pfarrerin and her husband to-morrow, Saturday, also to eat a goose, and we will afterwards see which goose is the best.'
66. Done!' said the Amtmann.
“The residence of the plucked goose was soon ascertained by the two. It was up in the chamber in the roof, where it hung and made many ornamental swings and gyrations in the wind that blew through the dormant windows. It was a ravishing sight, which the world only was allowed to enjoy for this one day. It was brought away in the night, and the next
day at noon, most deliciously dressed, was served up before the invited guests. “Now, how does the goose please you, Herr Pfarrer ?' asked Plauen.
My husband understands nothing of the matter,' interposed the Frau Pfarrerin, “but I tell you the goose is good, but mine is much better. You shall convince yourselves ; that I promise you.'
“ Alas! the Frau Pfarrerin was not able to keep her word; for on the morrow she became aware, to her horror, that her plucked goose had taken a greater flight than it had ever done while it was yet unplucked.”
How such dishonest tricks can be reconciled with national feeling, love of country, elevated poetical sentiment, and the regeneration of fatherland, we leave to the consideration of transcendentalists. Still, the follies described may be exceptions, or but the reckless and exuberant diversions of young bloods set loose from all control, and who cherish a peculiar esprit de corps. But, to have done with initiations and jollities, and also the practical jokes in vogue towards the honest burghers, we conclude with some serious and historical notices of the system and the progress of German education since the period when Luther flourished:
" Luther arose, and with him a new order of things in the conduct of schools was called for. Many worthy schoolmasters, who had already gone forth from the pedagogic brotherhood of Gerhardus Magnus at Deventer, and from the Rhenish Society of learned men, founded by Conrad Celtes, for the restoration of classical antiquity, had prepared the way for the great reformers. How illustriously shine out in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the names of Desiderius Erasmus, Johann Reuchlin, Johann Dalberg, Rudolph Agricola, Wilibald Pirkheimer. They are like sacred signs of an approaching better time for the school affairs of the civilized world; and they all strengthened powerfully the hands of Luther, Melancthon, Zuinglius, since they treated schools, and the whole business of education, in a magnanimous spirit
. To point out the active services of these men would lead us too far; it must suffice simply to remark that continually more, and fresh, and faithful teachers came forth, amongst whom, Johann Sturm, Valentin Friedland, also called Troizendorf, Michael Neander, Johann Casselius, and Christian Hellwich, were especially distinguished. If a great want was still here and there visible, yet the path being once broken open, a retreat was by no means to be thought of, and the discovery of Guttenberg contributed not a little to make this impossible. The labours of Wolfgang Ratich and Johann Amors Comenius are of peculiar importance, whose works are known, and in which they treat of the natural and complete development of all the powers of the human mind, especially of the understanding and the imagination. Pestalozzi's ideas here lie in embryo before us.
“Soon after the appearance of these men, and the springing up of schools framed according to their views, the Jesuits made every exertion to draw the management of education to themselves; and they succeeded to a certain extent, since, with their usual political acumen, they easily saw that
it was necessary for them entirely to imitate the form and matter of the evangelical schools. But the stratagem of these satellites of the hierarchy was soon seen through, and the best consequences were to be hoped, had not the storms of the Thirty Years' War crushed so many promising germs and scattered so much beautiful fruit. School economy, during such an epoch, could only wearily maintain itself; the miserable management of ignorant teachers, the simple consequence of that fanatical rage, made the prosperity of schools a thing beyond hope. Yet this reaction actually hastened the entrance of a better spirit which soon found its warmest advocates in Fenelon, Ph. T. Spener, but especially in A. H. Franke.
“ The activity of the last worthy man had an eminently auspicious influence; and other zealous characters soon enrolled themselves in the list of the friends of knowledge; as Godfried Zeidler, who simplified the mode of spelling ; Valentin Hein, and Sulzer, who, in 1700-1799, introduced an improved mode of teaching arithmetic. But, unfortunately, there soon grew in the Folk's schools a deadly poison of all good—Mysticism, which was carried by the teachers to a most mischievous length. Equally blighting lay the pharisaical constraint of evangelical orthodoxy on the school system not less influentially than that of the Romish hierarchy. It was not till philanthropy raised its head in the middle of the eighteenth century, through the influence of Locke, Rousseau, and Bassedow, that the school system appeared earnestly to seek to improve itself. Locke was the first to treat with a philosophical spirit educational tuition, as a connected whole. T. P. Crousaiz followed in the same path. In Germany, the fiery Bassedow, in 1768, took up the Rousseau enthusiasm, and sought to plant the ideas of this philosopher in his native soil.”
Art. VIII.- The Genuine Remains of Ossian, literally translated; with a
Preliminary Dissertation. By Patrick MacGREGOR, M. A. London: Smith and Elder.
This translation is published under the patronage of the Highland Society of London; the only institution in England, we venture to affirm, that now feels any interest in the Ossianic controversy. We doubt indeed if there be half a dozen persons on the south side of the Tweed, and who have not Highland blood in their veins, that will voluntarily peruse Mr. Macgregor's ingenious and really able preliminary discourse on the subject. Whatever is purely Celtic has very few attractions for people who have no knowledge of the Celtic language; partly because it is remarkably barren of literature, but mainly, perhaps, in consequence of the preposterous claims put forward by the Highlanders about Ossian, about their antiquities, their independence, and so forth.
But while the apathy and discredit to which we have referred, extend over the whole of England and even the Lowlands of Scotland, the present volume affords a remarkable proof of the pertina
city with which the Gael is ever ready to maintain the authenticity
go under the name of Ossian; no matter how stale and oft-refuted his arguments may be. Nay, the genuine advocate for these remains is very wroth when he but thinks of the indifference with which the Southern treats them, and all the strife about them. In a word, the controversy in question gives weighty testimony towards the support of Dr. Johnson's weighty words when he said, “ A Scotchman must be a very sturdy moralist who does not love Scotland better than truth; he will always love it better than inquiry: and if falsehood flatters his vanity, will not be very diligent to detect it."
Besides the causes we have assigned for the indifference that prevails regarding the Ossianic controversy, there is this to be said, that since the period when Samuel Johnson and James Macpherson waged war on the subject, -thus lending to the poems a temporary and factitious celebrity,—the public mind has not shown any warm love for them as compositions, although greatly more, we think, than they intrinsically deserve. We have never been able to discover that there was half as much matter in them as sound. The heroes of them are for the most part exceedingly cold and uninteresting. They seem but, at best, to mouth inflated generalities about mountains and mists, and the fancies which a rude people would acquire and transmit, who were born and bred among the awe-inspiring scenery of the North. Are they not wonderfully destitute of universal truth and the natural painting which genius produces, so as to make every delineation strongly and finely visible to all who peruse its strokes ?
True, the Celt will affirm that no one who is not acquainted with his language, and perhaps he may add, with Highland scenery, can be a competent judge of the poems. But does this not imply that either these compositions have not met with a competent translator, or that they in reality so far overstep the modesty of nature that they cannot be made pleasingly and attractively intelligible to the universal mind ? To be sure Mr. Macgregor thus cleverly argues :
“It is not at all surprising that the characters of Fingal and his heroes should excel those of romance. It is evident that the greatest genius cannot invest a fictitious hero with any quality of which he himself knows nothing. Now our real knowledge of the moral feelings is commensurate with our experience. It is plain that a man who was never under the influence of great and kindly sentiments, actually knows as little of them as a blind man does of colours. He may talk, and reád, and write, concerning them ; but he cannot appreciate them; and therefore they will form no part of the character of what he would consider a hero. Consequently he will not endue his great personages with such virtues, unless indeed he should attempt to do so because he may have heard these quali
ties highly commended. In this case, it is evident there could be nothing admirable, and at the same time original, in the character of his heroes. Now, the writers of romances evidently did not know wherein true heroism consists. They appear, with few exceptions, to have been men of narrow views, and not remarkably warm hearts; men who valued rank and pomp, and external splendour, more than generous, lofty, and benevolent feelings. They had never attended closely to the workings of their own minds, nor made any extensive or close observations on those of others, as exhibited in their words and actions; and therefore they were ignorant of human nature. They observed and admired the spirit of the times, which was more akin to madness than to true greatness. They chiefly admired the spurious gallantry, the stiff courtliness, supercilious bearing, fool-hardiness, wild conceits, and dazzling armour, of the most noble and magnanimous knights, and the sickly sentimentalism, affected passions, extravagant fancies, fantastic dresses, &c., of the most gentle and heavenly dames ; and they drew their characters accordingly.
“In order to appreciate the merits of a poet like Ossian, one must not only be able to understand his metaphors, but he must have a mind which can enter into the sentiments of the author and his heroes, and sympathize with them, otherwise some of his most sublime and affecting passages will appear little better than bombast and affectation. On this account, Homer himself is much less read, and really admired, than many poets much inferior to him in almost everything that constitutes good poetry.”
But what better is this than assertion ingeniously buttressed, or taking for granted things upon which we are at issue with him? We return to the idea which we have already advanced, and give it as our opinion that the poems attributed to Ossian, and that the heroes of them, are not according to human or natural proportions; that is, neither they nor their sentiments are true to nature, but are monstrously distorted, and extravagantly inflated.
Having quoted a specimen of Mr. Macgregor's ingenuity, quite fitting in a controversialist, especially upon the Ossianic subject, and where candour is much less regarded than the determination to look merely to one side and lustily to fight for it, we shall present another which is still more characteristic. It regards the internal evidence of authenticity :
“One of the principal difficulties which an impostor would have to overcome, would be, to portray, in a lively, vigorous, easy style, the thoughts, actions, and manners of an unknown period, without betraying any marks of a different nation, age, or state of society. It often requires some genius to depict, in the most proper and vivid colours, even what we have ourselves seen or felt; and the greatest genius can only combine and arrange : he cannot create a single new, simple idea. Hence it is almost impossible for any man to give a description of an unknown state of society, which shall contain much that is original, and at the same time vivid and true to nature. There must likewise be a constant watch against