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is the "Spirit of the Hebrew Poetry," of which Professor Marsh has given us a Translation. We ought to feel indebted to the literary enterprise and industry of an American scholar in undertaking and completing such a difficult task. Of the merits of the original work, it is not our purpose to say any thing here; but we are compelled to observe, that they find a very inadequate representation in this translation. In justice to Herder it ought to be stated, that he suffers much under the hands of Professor Marsh. The vivacity and animation which breathe from every page of the original are evaporated in the translation. The spirited and graceful style of Herder, in the composition of this work, would hardly be recognised in the new costume which is given to his thoughts, In several instances, which have fallen under our eye, we think that the translator has not rightly apprehended his author's meaning, or through haste or inadvertence has failed of expressing it distinctly. He often overlays the breathing life of the original with a thick shroud of words. In the translation of a less favorite author we should have been` disposed perhaps to pardon even greater defects; but we are unwilling that a man like Herder should be judged of from an imperfect specimen, without pointing out its discrepancy with the original.
*In the above criticisms on this translation, we have no wish to detract from its real merits. Many passages of difficult construction are rendered with a beauty and force, which none but a person of uncommon skill in the use of language could have attained. We think it far superior to most attempts at translation from German into English which we have seen, especially of those made in this country; and parts of it are certainly creditable to the taste and ability of Professor Marsh. But we cannot think, that it gives the reader so complete an idea of Herder, as should be aimed at in a work of such importance. In proof of our remarks, we subjoin a few passages, which will show the nature of cur objections to the translation.
We take first the beautiful introduction to the second Dialogue. "Die Morgenröthe war noch nicht angebrochen, als die beiden Freunde sich am bestimmten Ort, einer angenehmen Höhe von schöner Aussicht, zusammenfanden. Noch sahen sie alles formlos und in den Schleier der Nacht gehüllt vor sich liegen; da regte sich der Hauch der Nacht, und es erschien die liebliche Morgenröthe. Sie ging hervor, wie der Blick Gottes auf eine zu erneuende Erde ; um sie schwebte die Herrlichkeit des Herrn und weihte den Himmel zu seinem prächtigen stillen Tempel. Je mehr sie sich erhob, je mehr hob und läuterte sich das goldne Blau; es sonderte sich von den Wassern, Nebel und Dünsten, die zur Erde fielen, bis es wie ein
There is no one among the theologians of Germany, who occupies a more interesting position, in the great religious movement, which commenced in that country, about the middle of the last century, than Herder. He formed a connecting link between the old school of Lutheran Orthodoxy and the modern school of Rational divines. The progress of his own mind seems, in some degree, to mark the progress of himmlischer Ocean, wie ein Sapphir mit Golde durchwebt, dastand. Je mehr sie sich erhob, desto mehr hob sich die Erde; es theilten sich auf ihr die dunklen Massen, bis auch sie wie eine Braut dastand, geschmückt mit Kräutern und Blumen, und wartend auf den Segen Jehovens. Die Seele des Menschen heitert sich wie der Morgenhimmel; sie hebt sich aus dem Schlaf, wie die jungfräuliche Erde; keiner aber dieser angenehmen Augenblicke ist heiliger, als das Werden des Lichts, der Anbruch der Dämmerung."
The nearly literal translation which we subjoin of this and the following passages will help our readers to judge of the correctness of our strictures on Professor Marsh.
The morning dawn had not yet broke, when the two friends met at the appointed spot, a delightful eminence that commanded a beautiful prospect. As yet they saw every thing lie before them formless, and shrouded in the veil of night. Then the night-breeze stirred and the lovely dawn appeared. It came forth, like the glance of God, upon the earth, as it waited to be renewed. The glory of the Lord hovered around it, and consecrated the heavens as his magnificent and peaceful temple. As it rose higher and higher, the firmament of gold and blue rose also, and became purer; it separated itself from the waters, clouds, and vapors, which fell to the earth, until it stood there like a heavenly ocean, a sapphire interwoven with gold. As the dawn arose, the earth also seemed to rise. Its dark masses were divided, until it stood forth like a bride adorned with herbage and flowers, awaiting the blessing of Jehovah. The soul of man grows serene like the morning-heavens. It arises from sleep like the virgin earth, but none of these delightful moments is more holy than that of the approach of light, the breaking forth of the dawn.
Professor Marsh's Translation. "The first rays of the dawn were not yet visible, when the two friends found themselves together at an appointed spot, a delightful eminence, that furnished a wide and beautiful prospect. They saw before them all the objects of nature lying yet formless and undistinguished, for the night had wrapped them up in its veil of obscurity. But soon the night-breeze sprang up, and the morning appeared in its loveliness. Its going forth was as if the Almighty had cast a reviving look upon the earth and renovated its existence; while his glory accompanied it and consecrated the heavens as his magnificent and peaceful temple. The higher it rose, the more elevated and serene appeared the golden firmament, that gradually purified itself from the subsiding waters, clouds, and vapors, till it stood displayed, as an upper ocean, an expanse of sapphire interwoven with gold. In the same manner also the earth seemed to rise up before them. Its dark masses became distinguished, and at length it stood forth like a bride adorned with herbage and flowers and waiting for
theological opinion; and in his voluminous writings may be found the germ of most of the important thoughts, which have since produced such a mighty revolution in the prevalent conceptions of religion. The personal character of Herder was, moreover, singularly attractive and delightful. It combined many of the remarkable peculiarities of the German temperament with a certain English spirit of practical energy, which,
the blessing of Jehovah. The soul of man elevates and purifies itself like the morning sky; it wakes and rouses itself from slumber like the virgin earth; but at no moment is the delightful view attended with such sacred awe as at the first existence of light, the breaking forth of the dawn."
The above is one of the happiest specimens of Professor Marsh's Translation. It has, however, too many words, and is not free from errors. "Läutern,” to purify, is translated "to be serene"; and "heitern," to make serene, is translated "to purify." The words occur in different sentences, but they are mistaken for each other.
Turning back to the "Plan of the Work," Vol. I. p. 13, we find "nachforschen," to inquire after, to investigate, translated "to cherish a liberal curiosity." On the same page, "vorläufig," preliminary, is translated "prolonged." Probably mistaken for "weitläufig." Page 14. "Welche Ideen der Vorwelt er weiter geführt oder verändert." (It points out) what ideas of the former world he has carried out or changed. Translated, "It points out, what conceptions, transmitted from more ancient times, he adopted and practically applied, and what he altered in this legacy of the Patriarchs."
Ibid. "Wodurch er die Poesie dieser Nation zu einer Hirten- und Landespoesie, zu einer Stimme des Heiligthums und der Propheten gebildet." By what means he formed the poetry of this nation to be a pastoral and rural poetry, to be a voice of the sanctuary and of the Prophets. Translated, "By what means he formed the poetry of the nation, gave it its pastoral and rural character, and consecrated it to the uses of the sanctuary and of the Prophets of Jehovah." Herder never wrote such balanced sentences. The figure of the voice, so characteristic of his mode of thinking, is lost in the translation.
Ibid. "Die Ursachen dieser Dinge werden aus der Geschichte entwickelt." The causes of these things are unfolded from the history." Translated, "The causes, by which these effects were brought about, are unfolded out of the history of the race."
Ibid. "Es wird sodann die Geschichte selbst vom Gesetzgeber bis zum blühendsten und mächtigsten König des Volks fortgeleitet, unter welchem und dessen Sohne auch die zweite Blüthe der Poesie eintritt." The history itself is then carried forward from the Lawgiver to the most flourishing and powerful king of the people, under whom and his son the second bloom of poetry appears. Translated, "In the next place, the history itself is carried forward from Moses to the period of the highest national prosperity and of the most powerful king, under whom and his son occurred the second marked developement [!] of national poetry."
Ibid. "In ihr morgenländisches Licht gesetzt." Placed in their
taken together, formed a more instructive and beautiful specimen of human nature, than is usually met with in the intercourse of life. Herder has been described by one of his biographers as "the grand high Priest of Humanity, the unwearied seeker of spiritual Truth and Beauty," and as such, we intend to avail ourselves of this opportunity, to bring his personal character and services before our readers, with as minute a detail as our limits will permit. *
Oriental light. Translated, "Placed in that true Oriental light, which is necessary to a perception of their beauties."
Page 18. "Rechter Verstand der Worte, Bilder und Sachen giebt denen, die Gefühl haben, ohne viele Rede und Anpriesung, Begriff der Schönheit." A right understanding of words, of images, and of things, gives the conception of beauty to those who have feeling, without much discourse and commendation. Translated, "A right understanding of words, of figurative language, and of things, will give, without long discourses and a tedious explication of it, the conception of beauty to one who has the capability of emotion." "Anpriesung," commendation, is translated "a tedious explication."
Page 22. "Der schönen Sonne Aufgang." The rising of the beautiful sun. Translated, "The beautiful going forth of the sun in his milder radiance." Not to speak of eleven words for four, "Aufgang is mistaken for "Ausgang." "Aufgehen," the original of " Aufgang," signifies to “ 'go up," hence "to arise," applied to the heavenly bodies. It never means 66 to go forth," which is one sense of "ausgehen."
Ibid. "Am höchsten Himmel." In the highest heaven. Translated, "In the highest heavens, and in meridian splendor." The last clause corresponds to nothing in the original, and enfeebles the whole sen
Page 23. Aufgehen" is again translated "to come forth to us,' instead of "to arise upon us." The beauty of the allusion is wholly lost.
Page 33. "Sie sind ganz Handlung und Bewegung; die Wurzeln derselben sind Bild und Empfindung." (The Hebrew verbs) are all action and motion; their roots are image and feeling. Translated, "They are all action and emotion. Their radical forms combine the representation of a sensuous image with the feeling of the heart." "Bewegung" is translated "emotion," instead of "motion." The rest of the sentence is a rare example of prolixity. Herder's spirit is not in it.
The passages which we have quoted are within the compass of a few pages, taken at random from the commencement of the first volume. We have examined other parts of both volumes, with the intention of testing their fidelity, and usually with similar results. Still, we do not hesitate to repeat, that although open to criticism, this translation exhibits a high order of talent, and deserves a place in the library of every lover of the Old Testament.
* The materials for Herder's Life may be found in " Erinnerungen 23
N. S. VOL. XIII. NO. II.
JOHN GODFREY HERDER was born on the 25th of August, 1744, at Mohrungen, a small village in the kingdom of East Prussia. His parents occupied a humble station in society, although one which exerted a favorable influence in many respects on the future character of their son. Godfrey Herder, his father, was the teacher of a female school, and united the offices of sexton and chorister in the village church at Mohrungen. He was a man of a serious and reserved cast of character, severely punctilious in the discharge of his duties, but of a kind and generous disposition. His mother, the daughter of a mechanic, appears to have been a woman endowed with uncommon natural gifts, and, as has often been remarked in the case of men of genius, many of her most distinguished qualities were inherited by her son. She possessed a strong understanding, sound judgment, industrious and quiet habits, and a rare union of piety and maternal affection with manners not often found in her station in life.
This wedded pair lived upon a small income, poor but not destitute; and by the order and regularity of their household, by their constant industry, and by their unostentatious and pious course of life, gained the esteem of all their acquaintance. A strong attachment to the religion of their fathers, habits of industry and order in the despatch of business, and a sincere mutual love, united the parents and children, brothers and sisters, of this family in the closest ties, and greatly alleviated the burden of their poverty.
After the labors of the day were over, the family were accustomed to unite in singing a hymn. The impression which this pious evening-song made on the mind of young Herder, was deep and lasting; and, many years after, he would often mention it, with sad and tender yearnings at the remembrance of his youthful home. The pious habits of his parents, their deep religious feeling, their simple, quiet, and industrious mode of life, their home-felt satisfaction in the performance of their duties, and their devoted love for each other, united with his own child-like reverence for their characters, early implanted in his heart the germ of religion and of the love of virtue. In this retired, domestic Paradise, hedged in with the thorns of
aus dem Leben von Herder. Gesammelt und beschrieben von MariaCarolina von Herder." 21, 22, 23 Th. Sämmtliche Werke. Stuttgart. 1830." Herder's Leben, neuarbietet von Carl Ludwig Ring." Carlsruhe. 1832.-Prefaces and Notes in "Herder's Sämmtliche Werke, von Johann Georg Müller." Stuttgart. 1830.