Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/285

This page has been validated.
273
LITERARY NOTICES.

war not only left her in entire intellectual, moral, and material poverty, but it completely broke the thread of her history, and threw her back full two hundred years. It was not until 1760 that she began "to react against the too absolute thought of France, and to begin the work of restoration on a sounder basis than that which Spain had tried to lay two centuries before." Her restoration was due to two things—the Prussian state and the Protestant religion. The one has gradually molded out of an heterogeneous mass of petty principalities a powerful state, and the other awakened thought, and furnished the conditions in which free inquiry could thrive. The impulse to a large intellectual life came from without, but, once given, a literature grew up which has expanded into a rich and varied product. It has now become national in its tone and feeling, but at first it was purely individual. It is the peculiarity of German literature that it arose, not, as in other countries, after a coherent state had been formed, but before, while yet the nation did not exist, and Germany was but a collection of petty states. It had the task not only of responding to a national spirit, but of forming that spirit. At first, as Germany began to recover from the prostration of its protracted war, the literature was but a soulless copy of foreign models, but with time it grew to be more and more national, and under the impulse of the Seven Years' war it took definite form, and prepared the ground for the generations of great writers which have finally placed Germany abreast of the other foremost nations of Europe. The three generations of writers who did the great literary work of Germany were those born in the sixty-five years from 1715 to 1780, and which followed each other at periods of twenty years. In the first were Klopstock, Wieland, Winckelmann, Kant, Mendelssohn, and Lessing; the second included Herder, Voss, Klinger, Bürger, Goethe, and Schiller. The third and final generation gave to Germany the two Schlegels and the two Humboldts, Rahel, Tieck, Schleiermacher, Niebuhr, Savigny, and Schelling. The "two schools," says Professor Hillebrand, "which from 1825 to 1850 influenced the German mind most powerfully, the school of Hegel and that of Gervinus, only continued, developed, summed up, applied, or contradicted the main ideas of the three preceding great generations." The period of the first two generations was the creative one, when Lessing and Kant, Herder and Goethe and Schiller were leading German thought into new channels. The later period—that of the Romanticists—was essentially a reactionary one, a period in which the middle ages became the ideal. It was, however, a necessary one, and under its influence the past of Germany was brought into prominence, and this prepared the later generation for the constructive work of organizing the German state and arousing the feeling of patriotism essential to its success. When this task has been fully accomplished, Germany can again take up the work of intellectual progress and occupy her place in the general movement of European thought. Professor Hillebrand writes in a very agreeable style, and, though he is confined to a brief outline, he invests his subject with an interest that is sustained to the end.

The Elementary Principles of Scientific Agriculture. By N. T. Lupton, LL. D., Professor of Chemistry in Vanderbilt University. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 107. Price, 50 cents.

This little primer of agriculture for the public schools had the following origin: The Legislature of Tennessee passed a law authorizing the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Commissioner of Agriculture to procure the preparation of a suitable elementary work on agricultural science, to be used in the common schools of that State. The Commissioner selected Dr. N. T. Lupton, Professor of Chemistry in the Vanderbilt University, to prepare the book, and this little volume is the result. As our public schools are constituted, it is perhaps as good an introductory book as could be got upon the subject. It is written in a clear and easy style, with the smallest possible amount of technical scientific talk that is consistent with a rudimentary exposition of agricultural principles. After some appropriate opening remarks on the development of scientific agriculture, the author takes up the origin, composition, and classification of soils, the composition of plants, the composition and properties of the atmosphere, and