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of despotic princes and corrupt courts. The singular freshness and enthusiasm of the German character, surviving the desolating blight of war, displayed itself again in great intellectual activity. In the department of history, there was not only a vast deal of material accumulated; but, in the critical sifting of facts, no age has ever exhibited results so great as those which, within fifty years, have crowned the labors of German historians.
By his searching criticism, Niebuhr re-created, so to speak, the Roman world; by his masterly analysis of the political relations of the European States, Ranke lifted the veil from the diplomacy of three centuries ; by his unflinching severity of method, Baur wrought a revolution in the treatment of the early Christian literature. Between the scholar and the rhetorician, the critical method has established a permanent separation. The courtly repose of the old writers is gone
for ever. A severer discipline of thought, a profounder consciousness of the relations of the past to the present, a more vivid conception of the omnipresence of law and the reality of life, have given an inspiration to erudition, in comparison with which the wit of the dilettante writer is trivial and contemptible. The imposing affairs of state, the movements of armies, and the changes of ministries, can no longer usurp exclusive attention. The development of language and the course of literature, and the condition of the people in their social relations even to the minutest customs, have displaced the gossip of kings and the scandal of courts. In the field of historical jurisprudence, Savigny and Eichhorn have shown what may be done for the practical good of a people by abstract investigation ; while, in the study of the ancient language of their country, the brothers Grimm have laid the foundations of a new science.
These general statements we suppose no one would dispute ; but the true conclusion which, Herr von Sybel insists, is to be drawn from them, seems to us just the one damaging fault of recent German historians, to wit, that, in striving for this perception of connection between times remote and near, in attempting to establish this bond of personal human relationship between them, the historian is inevitably led so to mix np present political questions with past events, that he ceases to be impartial and therefore trustworthy. Let every writer, says Sybel, show his colors ; let him be religious or atheistic, protestant or catholic, liberal or conservative, let him be any thing, only not disinterested and neutral. That does not seem to us ein höchst erheblicher Fortschritt, "a very important step forward."
It is true enough, indeed, that no one can be a genuine historian who is destitute of that moral sentiment which enables him to sympathize with his fellow-men. But it does not follow, that he is to assume a decided position in reference to what our author calls the great worldmoving questions of religion and politics and nationality. On the contrary, the first requisite of criticism is impartiality. It is only as one strips himself of his own personal affinities, that he is able to enter into the mind of another age, to understand its passions, and sit in judgment on its deeds.
If confined, however, solely to the history of Germany, Sybel's theory of the function of the historian may doubtless be somewhat less objectionable. We can very well understand, indeed, in his own case, how he has come to adopt it. Besides being a student, he has been for several years an active politician in Prussia, - a member of what, by a stretch of terms, we should call the National House of Representatives. In that capacity, he has become painfully conscious of the divorce which exists all over Germany between the men of learning and the men of affairs, the men of thought and action. The slavish torpor in which the nation is sunk the result on the one hand of the political impotence of the race itself, and on the other of centuries of division and war - has enabled the rulers to keep the power in their own hands. The only outlet for talent in the middle classes has been through the universities. Hence Germany has been flooded with scholars; men whose ambition it is to be famous for learning, because learning procures them respect, and procures them bread. For political affairs they care nothing; because, for the most part, they have no chance whatever of having any share in them.
Sybel would reform this unhealthy state of things. He would interest the men of learning in the life of the nation, by bringing learning to bear upon the government of the nation. More than all, in historical science he would accomplish the political unity of Germany in the future, by the illustration of its moral unity in the past. That is what he means when he says that every writer must have his tendency, his theory. Abstract truth! the Germans have had enough of it. It is the practical application of what every man of learning knows to the common concerns of daily life, that will alone save Germany from going down again before the lances of the Cossacks half a century or more hence, as it went down before the eagles of the French legions half a century and more ago.
In this struggle, however, to emancipate the men of letters from the
bondage which has so long made them almost useless in a political point of view, Sybel goes equally too far, it seems to us, in the other direction. It is not the fault of science that learned men have no place in the government, but the fault of the learned men; a fault which, it is easy for us to see, has its root in what one may perhaps call the hopeless impracticability of the German character. But to make the canons of historical writing bend to the exigences of German politics is requiring more than can be conceded. Mommsen and Düncker, Waitz and Giesebrecht and Droysen and Häusser, may all be sound politicians, at once liberal and conservative; Gervinus, on the left wing, may be finally driven into proper views by the force of his subject; even Höpfner, on the right, may at last wheel into line. And it may be very well for Germany, that she has such excellent writers who, at the same time, find favor with Sybel for their political views. But not one of these men will go down to posterity as a classic.
It is not with the strife of the hour, nor with the evanescent passions of men, that history has to do, but with truth. And the truth is not one thing with the Egyptian Rameses driving his war-chariots to the Euphrates, and another thing with the Corsican soldier crouching before his camp-fire on the frozen Volga.
H. J. W.
Among the brilliant women whom the liberal party in Europe counts among its adherents, there is hardly one, perhaps, who deserves better to be known than Dora D'Istria. *
At an age when most clever women are content with the vapid admiration of the salon, her writings had begun to attract the attention, not merely of those thoughtful persons who sympathize with every aspiration for reform, but of the politicians and the diplomates, who are never slow to recognize talent when there is a possibility that they may be able to use it. Her later writings have more than confirmed the promise of her youth. And we cannot, perhaps, do a more agreeable service to the reader who has not yet made her acquaintance, than to direct his attention to her merits.
A French writer, in alluding to her descent, says that the blood of Alexander the Great and of Pyrrhus, of Scanderbeg and of Botzaris, flows mingled in her veins. That may be somewhat affected; but, nevertheless, she does come of the race that, under the name of Macedonians and Albanians, once made even Rome tremble for its supremacy, and, in later times, withstood undismayed the shock of invading Islam. Early established in Roumania, the first domnu (prince) of her family ascended the throne of Moldavia more than two centuries ago. At the period of her birth, in 1828, her uncle, Gregory IV., was the reigning prince, or Hospodar, of Wallachia ; while her father was next in dignity in the State, as Governor of Krajova. A man of studious habits, with a great taste for archæology, though sombre and somewhat narrow in his character, the latter was yet so very liberal for his time and country, that, in opposition to his national prejudice, he gave his children the best education Europe could afford, living with them himself for that purpose in Dresden and Venice. He had changed the Asiatic for the European costume; but it could hardly be expected of the son of an ancient boyard who had worn to the day of his death the turban and the djubé and the great beard of the East, to withdraw himself wholly from the ideas and habits in which he had been educated. This oriental tinge of character descended to his daughter. Though educated by the best masters, and taught the languages of Europe so well, that, at the age of fifteen, she translated the Iliad into German, and now writes indifferently in French, Italian, and modern Greek; though instructed by Papadopulus, afterwards the well-known professor of archæology in the University of Athens, in the spirit of that ancient Hellenic life which she has occasionally so well illustrated, - there is observable in her style and method, together with the energy of the Latin, the redundance of the oriental mind.
* Profils Contemporains : Mme. La Comtesse Dora D'Istria; par Armand Pommier. Paris : Lecrivain et Tourbon, Éditeurs, 1863.
Of remarkable beauty, if the splendid features of her portrait may be trusted, speaking nine languages as easily as her mothertongue, so proficient in painting that she once took a silver medal at an exhibition of the Imperial Academy in St. Petersburg, full of a noble patriotism, ardent in her convictions, conscious of talent and eager to devote it to the good of her race, what a life was it that opened to her, when, a year after she had witnessed the Revolution in Venice under Manin, she went to St. Petersburg as the wife of Prince Alexander Koltzoff-Massalsky, a descendant of one of the ancient Muscovite families that entered Russia in the days of Vladimir, an officer in the army from his youth, without a trace of Western culture, a complete stranger to all the thoughts and aspirations that made up her life! It is not to be wondered at, that the atmosphere of the court of Nicolas I. suffocated her. He attempted, she said, to make Russia a sort of European China, and to isolate it from the West in order that he might carry out more easily his absolutist policy. After several years of suffering, her husband comprehended the necessity of a change of climate to restore her health, and accompanied her to the gates of St. Petersburg. She left Russia in 1855, and, so far as we know, has never returned to it.
Years of peace and fruitful study have succeeded the tumult of the Russian capital. In Switzerland, where she has passed most of her time, she is famous for having made the first ascent of the mountain in the Oberland Chain, known as the Mönch, 13,500 feet high, on the summit of which she unfolded the Roumanian flag, white, yellow, and blue, while even the guides of the Grindelwald and of Interlaken drew back in fear. Strenuously attached to the Greek Church, and confident that through it alone must come in the end the salvation of the East, it has been the main object of her writings at once to diffuse in Eastern Europe more rational ideas of political and religious freedom; while at the same time, a not less important task, she enlightens the Western nations as to its moral condition. And though, to us so far in advance of Europe in acquaintance with the principles of political liberty, much that she says may seem commonplace, yet her vivid historical pictures, together with the frequent philosophical reflections with which her writings abound, cannot but interest any one not wholly given over to that passion for sentiment which dovel-reading has made almost a disease of the modern mind.
Her account of Switzerland as the pioneer of the Reformation, has been translated into English ; and, though diffuse and sometimes exaggerated, is full of excellent suggestions. The romantic hamlet of Veytaux on the Lake of Geneva, where she lived a good while is very well described in a clever romance, entitled “Eléonora de Haltingen,” which she published in the “Revue des Deux Mondes” in 1859, in which had already appeared in 1858 some careful studies on Greek poetry in the Ionian Isles. Her best known works, however, are those entitled “ La Vie Monastique dans l'Église orientale.” and “Les Femmes d'Orient,” in which she throws a considerable light upon Eastern society, political as well as religious and domestic. In her essay “La Nationalité Roumaine d'après les chants populaires," she maintains, as elsewhere so often, the affinity of the Roumans and Italians, as being both of them descendants of the Romans; and is never weary of reciting the fact, that, of all the nations of the old Roman stock, the Roumans are the only one that has freed itself from the dominion of the Roman Pope.