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scholar, finding it useless to detain him there longer, agreed to give him private tuition for an hour daily. This was the only regular instruction he henceforth received; but he derived general benefit from the advice and encouragement of his father's friend Boje, editor of the Deutsches Museum, and sheriff of Meldorf, and from Boje's brother-in-law, the celebrated Voss.
His father's favourite wish was that he should carry on his own eastern discoveries. He hoped to procure him a writership in the East India Company's service, through the interest of the English friends whose acquaintance he had formed during his travels. The plan was early abandoned; but in the mean time it induced him to provide his son with English books, and even with a regular supply of English newspapers. There was no other source from which he could have derived his early familiarity with the practical working of a free constitution. He continued through life an eager reader of public journals ; and forty years after the time of which we are speaking, when he claimed, not without reason, to understand this country better than any other foreigner, he said,—“If I give up reading English papers, my knowledge of England is lost.” His first political impressions were produced by the Turkish war in 1788, and in the following year at the age of thirteen he was engrossed in the overwhelming interest of the French Revolution. Young as he was, however, he was not among those who hailed its dawn : a love for constitutional order, custom and permanence, and a preference of prescription to experiment, would almost seem to have been innate in his mind; and his father was from the first opposed to the great change. “Not that “ his heart clung,” says his son, “to court, aristocracy, or “ clergy; but without speculating much about it, he saw in 6 the nation our natural hereditary enemy. He rejoiced in 6 the outbreak of the counter-revolution, not for the sake of “ the emigrants, but because he hoped that we should re
cover the lost provinces, which in teaching his children “geography he always included in Germany."
At the age of sixteen his father, thinking his excessive industry injurious to his health, and wishing to give him some acquaintance with practical life, sent him to his friend Buesch, who at the time was director of a commercial institution or college at Hamburg. A friendly reception, agreeable society, and the acquaintance of Klopstock, who kindly noticed the precocious boy, were not sufficient to compensate for the shock of passing from his books and his home into a world which was entirely strange to him. He was seized with a violent longing for home, which was probably the first symptom of the hypochondriac depression to which he was always afterwards liable. In compliance with his earnest entreaties he was recalled to Meldorf, where he again devoted himself to his wide and unassisted studies. He was already familiar with many of the twenty languages, which, according to his father's enumeration in 1807, he eventually mastered. His classical studies supplied materials for the day-dreams, which formed his chief occupation and enjoyment. His vivid imagination brought ancient times as realities before him, and surrounded with historical accornpaniments his boyish ideal of virtue and greatness. He long lamented the indifference to practical affairs and the waste of time which resulted from this mental intoxication: even in philosophy he experienced the bad results of it, in a comparative disinclination and incapacity for the study of grammatical details. The great evil of self-teaching is the certainty that what is easiest and pleasantest will be perused to the exclusion of discipline, which might counteract the original onesidedness of the intellect; and as the elder Niebuhr was ignorant of philosophy, and indifferent to general literature, he could neither understand nor correct the errors of his son's inexperience ; yet there may have been some advantages in these classical castles in the air. Daydreams, as well as more vigorous exercises of the imagination, require some unity and consistency in their objects: a slight difficulty, a half latent contradiction in the superstructure, will at once demolish an edifice which has risen on postulates of the wildest extravagance. Niebuhr's visions were originally connected with facts, and must therefore have contained some historical reality; so that he was now cultivating that faculty of intuition into the past, by which he afterwards familiarized himself with the old Romans as with contemporaries. His discoveries were seldom the reward of reasoning and inference, but rather of an immediate perception of fitness, by which every new fact was seen to fit into some acknowledged gap in the constitution or series of events which he had already apprehended as a whole. It appears from some expressions in his later letters that he had already advanced in some respects beyond the historical views of the age, before he left his father's house.
Some such tokens of his future greatness may probably have been contained in the communications respecting a primeval migration from Europe to Asia, which, with amusing simplicity, he tells his parents that he has, on their first acquaintance, made to Professor Hensler, under whose auspices he entered the University of Kiel, in the spring of 1794. The letters which he wrote to his father and mother during his residence there give an interesting picture of the affectionate earnestness and enthusiasm of youth. His total ignorance of the world, combined with his extraordinary book-knowledge, give him a tinge of pedantry and positiveness, which is neither unnatural nor unpleasing. When are men to cling enthusiastically to their opinions, and follow them out into their practical results, if not at their first acquaintance with the meaning of speculative truth? Three weeks after his arrival he informs his parents that his circle of acquaintance is fully and finally completed : we need not state how long the limitation lasted. Shortly afterwards we find that he has parted from one of his friends on philosophico-moral principles. “He is an indifferentist and fatalist ; Jadhere to Kant."
Nevertheless, natural disposition prevailed, as might be expected, over theory. He was fond of congenial society, liked talking, and could not dispense with sympathy; and, though his laborious habits of life prevented him from taking a part in the general society of the students, he formed some intimate friendships, and one of peculiar warmth with Count Adam Moltke, a young man some years older than himself, who was residing on his estate in the neighbourhood. He also repaid with gratitude and attachment the kindness of Hensler, and, by degrees, secured the advantage of female society, by his acquaintance with Dore Hensler, the widowed daughter-in-law of the Professor, who resided with him. The awkward shyness of his retired education made this at first a formidable undertaking: he complains, after a conversation with her and her sister Amalie Behrens, that it is in vain to attempt the society of women; that they were very goodnatured and agreeable, but nevertheless he would rather be uncourteous by not speaking to them than by speaking.
It is remarkable that the lectures which Niebuhr attended had little or no reference to his favourite studies :-jurisprudence, which he at this time intended to follow as a profession, chemistry, logic and philosophy, were his labours, and it was only as a recreation that he turned to his classical pursuits. In general he considered the lectures as a troublesome and useless interruption; but the character and genius of Reinhold, who was at the time professor of metaphysical philosophy, impressed him with reverence. He devoted himself ardently to the study of Kant, and was for a time absorbed in admiration of the intellectual world which opened before him in the critical philosophy; but before he had mastered Kant's works, or entered on the study which he proposed to himself of Fichte, a change of his circumstances cooperated with a just conviction that his genius was essentially practical and historical, to prevent his further progress.
In his earlier letters to Count Moltke his universal literary enthusiasm is displayed by a proselytizing devotion to his favourite authors, which we like none the worse for the rapid change of its objects. In one letter we find that Klopstock is the only poet of modern times,-in the next that he is dethroned in favour of Voss, who is second only to Lessing even Ossian, in deference to the strange continental heresy, which has so long died out in the place of its birth, has his day of favour; yet even then Niebuhr knew Homer too well to think the story of Fingal epic; a year afterwards we doubt not that he would have excluded Macpherson as sternly from a place among lyrical poets. He was always a voracious reader, and kept up more completely perhaps than any contemporary with the popular literature of all Europe in his time. Reviews, newspapers, statistical tables, poetry and novels were all welcome to him, and travels had a scientific
interest for him, connected with the geographical tastes which he had derived in childhood from his father.
A religious education, which he calls “miserably deficient," compounded probably in the ordinary proportions of dogmatism and indifference, combined with the exercise of a precocious historical acumen, had made Niebuhr sceptical in Biblical criticism, before he was old enough to feel the want of a religious faith. When his intellect and feelings expanded as he grew up, he seems to have adopted the high and earnest stoical morality, which, as the practical counterpart of Kant's philosophy, had superseded the previous influence of the French Encyclopædists, and at this time served the youth of Germany for a religion. That it was not sufficient for his nature, indisposed as he always was to abstraction and theory, he felt when the troubles of the world came upon him. In the latter part of his life he succeeded, by sedulous cultivation, in recovering a considerable part of the historical belief which he had renounced; but it never became, as indeed he admitted that it could not become, incorporated with his purely religious impressions into a living faith. The unsullied purity of his conduct, the strict and undeviating honesty which he inherited from the simple and manly character of his father, harmonized well with the opinions which he embraced, and probably first determined them. Even when his fame was at its height, he scrupulously abstained from using a second-hand quotation, even though he had verified it, without a reference to the source from which he had derived it, as well as to the original author; and he could say, with reasonable satisfaction, that among all the errors of his youth he could not reproach himself with having made pretensions direct or indirect to knowledge which he did not possess. In the course of his life he succeeded partially in correcting his main defect at this time, an irritable and sometimes violent temper, which was combined, as is often the case, with warm and tender affections. A morbid and desponding habit of mind, such as Niebuhr's, united with constant craving for a return of the sympathy it feels, can scarcely fail to produce the exacting and jealous susceptibility, which is a torment at