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Fourcroy, Galvani, Franklin, Lavoisier, Haüy; and these were great intelligences, and their work was great for humanity. At the same time, the poets who then wrote expressed the spirit of their age, and sufficed for it: that they do not suffice for ours, although detached sentiments, lines, and bits of nature still delight us, is sufficiently apparent.
This, then, being a critical, conscious age, its artists must be critical to fulfil its demands; and ästhetics we take to be one of the means of elevating it out of the "slough of despond;" although it must likewise be emancipated from "commerce," and be placed on its own high pedestal, with real priests at its altars and real faith in its worshippers ;—so long as the “commerce of sweet sounds” is the jingling of guineas, little can be hoped for. But that æsthetics, however studied, is able to create artists, we do not for an instant imagine; it can but direct the artistic genius. Æsthetics is the philosophy of Art, and “philosophy,” says Solger, “can create nothing; it can only un“ derstand. It can neither create the religious inspiration nor “the artistic genius; but it can detect and bring to light all that “is contained therein *.” To create a new and commensurate Art is not in the power of æsthetics; that must come from the new birth of an era; there must be the inspiring Ideas; but as in all the secondary stages men are employed in developing the many phases of the Idea, æsthetics, when perfected, will necessarily direct their energies into the right channels.
And this leads us to the indisputable position of asthetics : if it be of no assistance to the artist (which we deny), it will render intelligible Art as Art, as well as all existing works; it will enable us fitly to judge of the relics of the past and the productions of the present, and it opens an inquiry in the psychological department of the very highest interest. For these then do we demand a consideration of the subject.
In France, although rapid strides have been taken, and some notable results elicited, it still remains in a fragmentary state. The works of Quatremère de Quincey, however, are equally admirable for their clearness and profundity; yet we believe he is the only systematic thinker who has yet published works of importance. St. Beuve, George Sand, and others evidence profound insight, but only in parts; a whole is still wanting. In Germany it is received as one of the branches of philosophy; has its professors, its treatises and systems, and every man, woman and child is more or less imbued with it. Lessing, Winckelman, Herder, Göthe, Schiller, Kant (Kritik der Urtheilskraft), Schelling, Novalis, the Schlegels, Tieck, Jean Paul, Solger, Hegel, are among the great stars which illumine this atmosphere; but their separate endeavours are too comprehensive to be even mentioned here. Solger and Hegel may both be consulted for the historic portion. Lessing's works, though mostly polemical and directed against the French poetry, yet contain much that is true and admirable for all times; especially the Laocoon,' which was translated by Mr. Ross of Edinburgh, an inestimable book to English readers. Winckelman's works are much spoken of, unfortunately little read. The French translation of his . History of Art is unfaithful, and no English translation we believe exists. Jean Paul's 'Vorschule' does not pretend to be systematic, but it contains some charming writing, illustration and close argument. His remarks on wit and humour are well worthy of study. Solger we can recommend but to those who are content to view the matter in its abstract logical shape, unrelieved by applications and illustrations. The essays of Schiller, though rather repulsive at first, from their Kantean rigidity of form, yet contain important ideas, and occasionally go to the very depths of the subject*.
* Solger, Æsthetik, p. 9.
But while all these works are more or less known and talked of in England, the masterly and comprehensive “Lectures' of Hegel remain without even the most vague and general notice. Professor Gans, in speaking of how widely Hegel's doctrines are spreading in France through Cousin, Michelet, Lerminier, and the St. Simonists, sarcastically says, “and the English buy his works—to put him in their libraries t;" but we fear the Professor's sarcasm falls harmless, and that we do not even buy his works for our shelves.
* See in particular • Uber das Pathetische ;' • Uber Naive, u. Sentimentalische Dichtung;' 'Uber das Erhabene ;' and 'Uber den gebrauch des Gemeinen und Niedrigen in der Kunst:' the last-named was translated in the 'Monthly Chronicle' for February 1841.
+ Vermischte Schriften, ii. 257.
Nevertheless, if any man is worth knowing in the philosophical department, it is Hegel; and towards this knowledge we have no helps, the only slender account being the extremely flippant and shallow one in Menzel's Deutsche Literatur *
George Frederick William Hegel was born at Stuttgart on the 27th of August, 1770. In his eighteenth year he went to the university of Tübingen to carry out his theological and philosophical studies. He was here a fellow-student with Schelling, for whom he contracted a great esteem; and he always spoke of these days in after-life with great emotion, even when he had become the opponent of his former friend. It was a critical period: the ideas of the eighteenth century,-analysis, materialism, scepticism and dogmatism, on the one hand, and the Kantean revolution on the other;these were the conflicting philosophies in which he had to struggle. He had also another struggle to make, not of the most metaphysical, though sometimes more puzzling, viz. the struggle for daily bread-not unknown to philosophers ! And so our young speculator had to give up high thoughts of professorships and philosophies, and was content (hunger inipelling) to accept the humble place of a tutor, first in Switzerland, then in Frankfort. Early in 1801 his father died, and he then moved to Jena, the seat of learning and philosophy, with the property left him (mit einigen ererbten Vermögen), which could not have been large, as we find him, besides working with Fichte and Schelling, in the office of private tutor of philosophy. It was here, in 1801, in the thirty-first year of his age, that he published his first work, ‘Differenz der Fichteschen und Schellingschen Philosophie,' in which he sided with Schelling, whom he joined in the editing of the Kritischen Journal der Philosophie. In the second volume of this Journal appeared his celebrated article Glauben ü Wissen, or the reflective philosophy of the subjective as seen in Kant, Jacobi and Fichte. At Jena also he enjoyed the society of Göthe and Schiller; the former, with his usual sagacity, detecting the philosophical genius which lay as yet undeveloped in him, of which more may be read in the ‘Briefwechsel zwischen Göthe u Schiller.' Here also he published his
*This book has been recently translated under the false title of a History of German Literature.' We must enter our protest against it, as we think it very calculated to do harm to the students of German literature, by giving them prejudicial, false and flippant views. We should say the book is worthless; for it neither gives information nor opinion worth attention. Menzel has a shallow, dashing assurance; a ready, often eloquent pen, and an imposing dogmatism, which delude people at first, but if subjected to any scrutiny, his poverty betrays itself. His hatred towards Göthe, Voss, Hegel, as well as all Berliners, is of itself sufficient to show how prejudiced are his opinions.
Phänomenologie des Geistes,' and with it separated himself entirely from the Schelling philosophy, written, it is said, while the French artillery was roaring under the walls at the memorable battle of Jena, as Archimedes pursued his researches during the siege of Syracuse. From Jena he went to Bamberg, where for two years he edited the Bamberg newspaper! Conceive the Times edited by a philosopher ! In the autumn of 1808 he was appointed Rector of the Gymnasium at Nürnberg. He here married; and his marriage, instead of impeding, only seemed to give fresh spur to his ambition. With his wife he lived for twenty years in the most perfect happiness, which only ended with her death. In 1812 he published his “Wissenschaft der Logik. By logic the Germans mean something far different from our
elements” or “arts.” Hegel divides it into two parts: the objective logic, which, being partly the transcendental logic of Kant, is the substitute for the metaphysic of the ancients ; and the subjective logic, or the forms of self-consciousness. This work made a great sensation, and he was soon after (in 1816) called to the chair at Heidelberg, where he lectured to crowds of admirers. In 1817 he published his “Encyclopädie der Philos. Wissenschaften,' the great merit of which was its detailing all his ideas, and that too in a more intelligible form and language than he had hitherto attempted. Here he made acquaintance with Victor Cousin, whose best ideas are taken or modified from Hegel. His reputation had now spread so far, and so many eyes were turned to him as the apostle of the new philosophy, which rank neither Fichte nor Schelling could properly attain, that he was called in 1818 to the chair of Berlin, which he accepted, in spite of the endeavours made by government to retain him. In Berlin he first found his proper sphere; and there, lecturing the first year with Solger, and the subsequent twelve years alone, he modified, developed and finished that philosophy, which is now
considered as the final result of German thought. Logic, metaphysic, psychology, jurisprudence, history, religion, history of philosophy and ästhetics, these were the subjects which he chose as the various phases of his philosophy, and in the development of which he passed his life,- a wide range; and when we consider the depth and completeness with which he treated them, perfectly astounding. On the 24th of November (the anniversary of Leibnitz' death), 1831, in the sixtyfirst year of his age, he expired, after a short attack of cholera. “ Hegel,” says Professor Gans, and we think with truth, “has “ left many profound disciples and scholars, but no successor; “for philosophy with him accomplished its circle (hat ihren “ Kreislauf vollendet); its progress is now only possible in “the complete development of all that is contained in it, after « his method*."
Such were the life and works of Hegel; and whoever looks over the catalogue of his writings will marvel at the exceeding activity of a genius so profound. Nor is his acquaintance with Art, ancient and modern, as seen in his ‘Lectures on Æsthetics,' less surprising. Accustomed as we are to the “ division of labour” in our learning, and to find men dedicating themselves exclusively to one subject or one phase of it, we are astonished at the large universality of appreciation mixed up with this deep meditative spirit.
The Lectures on Æsthetics,' to which our attention is now specially directed, is, we conceive, of all others, that which would most readily be accepted by the English, both on account of its subject, and on account of the comparatively intelligible language in which it is communicated. In these speculations we are struck at the outset with the difference of procedure between the Germans and ourselves. They consider, that as Art is a production, a creation of the mind of man, the real way to set about its examination must be the investigation of those laws of the mind from whence it proceeds ; thus they examine the germ to know the physiology of the flower; and thus it becomes itself a branch of psychology. They examine the producing mind; we the work
* Vermischte Schriften, b. ii. p. 251. To this, to the Biographie Universelle,' and to the Conversations Lexicon,' we are indebted for the particulars of the above account.