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THE QUARTERLY REVIEW.
Art. I.-1. De l'Allemagne. Par H. Heine. Paris. 2 vols.
8vo. 1835. . Au-delà du Rhin. Par M. Erminier. 2 vols. 8vo. Paris.
1895. MR. HEINE'S book now before us has produced an extraNI ordinary sensation both in France and Germany, and at this we cannot affect to be surprised. A few months ago, we afforded our readers some specimens of the author's vein ; indeed, many of the very sketches* from which, on that occasion, we translated, have since been worked up into the substance of this more elaborate performance. It contains, however, with those old materials, and with some new ones of very questionable interest, a large proportion of matter which is both new and important. The treatise is not yet complete : nay, we have heard that it is to occupy three more volumes : but we conceive that, from what we have now on our table, we may enable our readers to form a sufficiently distinct notion as to the drift of Mr. Heine's views, and the aspirations and designs of the parties, both German and French, with which he is connected.
It will be necessary to say a word or two in limine of Mr. Heine's history and position : we certainly shall not imitate the cool freedom with which he is accustomed to discuss the personal experiences of other literary men. We may, without any breach of delicacy, inform our readers, that his mother was a Prussian lady of good family, but that his father was a Jew, who had thrown off Judaism without adopting any other creed whatever in its place—one of those whom Sheridan wittily likened to the blank leaf between the Old and New Testaments. Though he was educated, therefore, at Protestant schools and universities, it is extremely probable that he never did imbibe either the doctrines or the feelings of Christianity—that his own mind originally presented a mere tabula rasa lo the speculators whose philosophical theories he is now occupied in popularizing. It is also, we think, very likely that the political predilections and designs which he mixes up with these blasphemous audacities, may be traced mainly to the uncertain and, in fact, degrading circumstances which still belong to the social condition of the Ger
* See Quart. Rev. No, CV. p. 215. VOL. LV. NO, CIX.
man Jews; and which are often felt only the more painfully in cases where individuals of that caste have formed matrimonial alliances out of its pale. The young man whose blood is halfJewish, half-German, has ceased to be a Jew, without acquiring in general estimation any right to be considered as a true German. There is something radically and essentially false and wrong in his position; a certain Falconbridge feeling is mixed up early in his whole mind and character—and of all who speak the German tongue he, if not engaged in any active profession, is the most likely to devote himself to the cause of a great social revolution in the German world. Though he may have utterly forsworn all belief in the religion of the Hebrews, he has that in his blood and being which prevents him from surveying religious systems in general with the cold indifference of a right German rationalist. He blends a rancorous personal spleen with the frigidities of the contemptuous metaphysician, and revives, in the apparent absence of all convictions, the bitter and sneering malignity of a crucifying Sadducee.
The two great obstacles to a radical revolution in Germany (as elsewhere) are the prevalence of Christian principles among the mass of the population—and the remains of respect for the civil institutions of their ancestry. Heine, having attacked both the religion of the Bible, and the monarchical and aristocratical institutions of the German states with unparalleled virulence, and having moreover distinguished himself most offensively by the style of his personal vituperation—carrying his warfare with the most reckless malice into the domestic relations of all his literary opponents, both theological and political_has rendered himself the object, not at all to our astonishment, of equal aversion and alarm, even in the most liberally governed of the German communities; and with talents which no one refuses to admire, and attainments which it would be worse than idle to disparage, he has thus contrived, at what may be called an early period of a literary life, to make it all but impossible for himself to exist on his native soil. He has accordingly transplanted himself to Paris, and there associated himself in an intimate league, offensive and defensive, with the most violent section of the Jacobin Propagandists—whose plans embrace the entire extirpation of the Christian faith in each and all of its modifications, and the total abolition of monarchy and aristocracy in Europe.
His alliance with this French party, and his selection of the French public sor bis immediate audience and tribunal, have rendered it convenient for him to affect—if they have not, along with other circumstances above alluded to, led him seriously to adoptviews with regard to the French mind generally, and the French