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THE



LIFE ^ANDj LETTERS



^^^..^^.



JBARTHOLD GEORGEj NIEBUHR^^

AND SELECTIONS FBOM HIS MINOR WRITINGS.

EDITED AHD TRANSLATED

BY SUSANNA WINKWORTH.



ESSAYS ON HIS CHABACTEE AND INFLUENCE

BT THE CHEVALIER BUN3EN,
AND PROFESSOBS BRANDIS AND LOEBELL.




VOL. IIL



SUPPLEMENTARY.



LONDON :
CHAPMAN AND HALL, 193/ PICCADILLY.

,1852.



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Giui. / / ? 6» 3 - / . a.



HAiVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY
H. NELSON GAY

RiSOftGIMENTO COLLECTION

COOLIDGE FUND

1931



unxnon :

BRADnimv AND RVAK8, PRINTRR8. WHITKrRIAItB.



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CONTENTS.



P«go

Chbvaueb Bunsen's Lettbe to the Editor ix

Extracts fbom Nikbuhb's Lbttebs to Chevaush Bunsen . . Iv



EXTRACTS FROM NIEBUHR'S LETTERS PROM HOLLAND
IN 1808 AND 1809.

Arrival in Amsterdam 3

First impressioiis of the City 4

Dutch Merchants — ^Mr. Labouchere 6

Evening Parties in Amsterdam 8

The Marine School— Paintings — The New Church 10

Felix Mentis Society 15

The Old Church of Amsterdam — ^M. Saportas — An Antiquary . .16

tJtrecht Cathedral — Old Dutch patricians 21

Agricultural Population 24

The Artist De Witt 25

Dutch Conveyances 26

Bang Louis Buonaparte 27

Saardam 28

The Country round Amsterdam — Dutch firugality 81

Haarlem 34

Old Municipal Listitutions 38

North Holland— The clean Village of Broek 89



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vi CONTENTS.

Page

The Workhouse — Orphan Houses — Almshouses— Hospital . . . 44

Brugmans ............. 62

Leyden— Pictures — Siege of Ley den 53

Appearance of Leyden 56

The Hague 58

Delft — Monuments of Van Tromp, Piet Hein, and William I. — ^Rot-
terdam — Religious Services — ^Dordrecht 59

Friesland — Dutch Catholics — English army in Holland . . . 64

Court of Holland — Dutch Benevolence — Intolerance .... 68

Violence of Party Spirit 71

The King — General Janssen — Financial condition of Holland . . 72

Moravian MissionB 75

Bigotry of the Dutch 76

Exhibition of Modem Paintings — Difference between modern painting

and that of the Greeks — Bank of Amsterdam 79

National Characteristics of the Dutch 83

French Literati — The Romantic School — Legislative Assembly . . . 89

Financial condition of Holland — Noble conduct of the King ... 91



POLITICAL FRAGMENTS.

On Ireland 97

The Danger op Introducing new Institutions without dub Pre-
paration 109

The British Constitution Ill

Pitt 113

The Hand op God in Prussia's Deltveranob prom Napoleon . . 116

Extract prom a Fundamental Law por the Netherlands . . 117

International Rights 120

Extract from Nibbuhr*s Reply to Sohmalz on the Tuqbndbund . 182

On the Essence op the State 134

Apology por an Expression in the Prepace to Von Vincke's work

on the Internal Administration op Great Britain . . . 137

Fragment on the State op Switzerland in 1823 .... 143



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CONTENTS.



MISCELLANEOUS SELECTIONS.

Pago
Lettbbs to Saviqnt.— The Constitution of Italian and Gorman Cities

during the Middle Ages 155

Ancient Weights and Measures 163

Constitution of Tivoli in the Middle Ages 168

Municipal Institutions in the Middle Ages 171

Oh thb Periom op Genius in Lttebature 175

Oh Marcus- Antoninus and his Age 181

On Pbtronius and his Aqe 195

On Xehophon's Hellenics, and the Character of Xenophon and

Plato 198

ihtroducnon to the lectures on romah antiquities . . . 218

Oh THE Amphictyonic League 226

On the Armenian Translation of Eusebius 288

On the Age of Qthntus Curtius 256

Sketch of the Growth and Decay of the ancient and the Rise

op the modern city of rome 277

Preface to the Translation of Demosthenes 296



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NIEBUHR'S POLITICAL OPINIONS AND
CHARACTER.

% 1/etter

ADDRESSED TO THE EDITOR BY CHEVALIER BUNSEN.



you m.



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NIEBTJHR'S POLITICAL OPINIONS AND CHARACTER

A LETTER ADDRESSED TO THE EDITOR BY
CHEVALIER BUNSEN.



Carmon Tbrraos, Oct, SlH, 1852.

My Dear Miss Winkworth,

You have kindly called upon me to write, for the
second edition of your " Life and Letters of Niebuhr,"
a few explanatory words on some points which have
lately come under discussion, and in particular on
two which are of a very general interest. The one is
Niebuhr's view of modern constitutional government,
about which there exists a marked dilSerence of opinion,
both in England and Germany : the other, his going out
of office in 1810, which latter has been made the object
of an unwarranted attack in his own country.

To respond to any such call, coming from you, is a
great gratification to me, were it only because it affords
me an opportunity of expressing to you, my admiration
of the talent and zeal which you have shown in
preparing yourself for so arduous a task, and in accom-
plishing it so successfully. Nor can I deny that I am,
in a certain manner, particularly called upon to commu-

b 2



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xii LETTBB TO THE EDITOR.

nicate to your readers, what I may have to say, on points,
on which my great master has been misunderstood and
attacked, in consequence of your publication.

Let me premise, however, that the discussion of the
political opinions and life of Niebuhr is still beset with
great difficulties.

The time is not yet come, when the public men of
Germany, of the forty years which precede 1848, can be
historically dealt with, and when the political conduct of
the heroes of that period can be understood and fairly
judged. Still, in the meantime, misrepresentations and
calumnies are put forth, in that discreditable part of the
literature of the day which is fed by lying memoirs or by
simple ignorance, and carried on by hireling pens and
party-men. Under such circumstances, it is certainly the
duty of honest patriots to refiite unjust attacks upon the
great and good men of that age ; but it must not be
forgotten, that they cannot bring to bear on the question
all the facts that they may know.

As to the English public, every friend and admirer
of Niebuhr cannot but be thankful for the impression
which your " Life and Letters" have produced in this
country. With the exception of a few persons, Niebuhr
was hitherto known in England only as the historian of
Rome, and the greatest critical author, and most learned
man, of the age. But, let me add, as such, he was more
generally studied than even in Germany. In that country,
beyond the professional men of erudition, a much smaller
nxmiber reads learned historical works than in England ;
and a never-resting machinery is at work, exciting an
immense number of incompetent writers and young men



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LETTER TO THE EDITOR. xiii

to make themselves a reputation, by doubting whatever
has been said before them. Niebuhr's immortal
merits in the restoration of Roman history, whether by
his, alas ! incomplete great work, or by his more popular
"Lectures,'' are at this moment incontestably more
appreciated, and his works more generally read, in
England than in Grermany. Nowhere is this fact more
apparent than at your Universities. Of the seven
thousand copies or more, which have been sold in
this country, of the "Roman History" alone, either
in the excellent translation or in the original. Ml
three-fourths have gone to the two great Universities ;
and have been made the standing object of a careful
and reproductive analysis, in those institutions, in
which, according to the vulgar opinion, the young
men of England only carry on the school themes of
their boyhood.

Now that Niebuhr himself, — ^the affectionate husband,
— the tender father, — ^the faithful friend, — ^the man of
uncompromising integrity and antique truthfulness of
mind, — ^is before the English public, the sublime virtue
of the man has endeared him to this nation, fully as much
as the unparalleled erudition and sagacity of the scholar,
and the wonderful talents of the historian. This general
impression has had, on the whole, a faithful, although an
incomplete and hasty echo in the public Reviews. I
think it unnecessary to dwell at any length on some
scarcely serious whimsical reflections and charges, or
to refute blunders arising out of sheer ignorance ; for
instance, whether Niebuhr was not a Dane, and lefl his
fatherland for a foreign country ! Nor will you expect



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xiv LETTER TO THE BDITOB.

me seriously to discuss the point submitted by one
of your reviewers,* how Niebuhr could say, " that
it is only a Uttle State which can have ' as such ' a
National Debt,"" whereas Niebuhr said no such thing,
but only asserted in that marvellously misunderstood
passage,t that a city, being a member of a State
(as, for instance, Berlin or Magdeburg in Prussia),
could not have such a National Debt as that under
which the free German Eepublic of Hamburgh was
groaning, in consequence of the bloody rapacity of
Napoleon and his Marshal, Davoust This blunder
is as evident as the value of the wise conclusions
drawn from it by the reviewer : — that Niebuhr
'' meant to say, that if the creditors of the State are
citizens, and not foreigners, the debt was no evil."
Or, shall I refute such attacks as the following, made
by the same author upon Niebuhr the historian ? The
reviewer says, J " Niebuhr totally mistook the duties
of an historian. He supposed it was his place to
dogmatise, and make no attempts to convince the
understanding of his readers; and if any one made
objections, reply that he is an ignorant blockhead, and
evidently incompetent to judge/' Now, it is a fact
that Niebuhr, in his second edition, has treated all
objections made against his first, by really learned men,

* ''Eclectic Keview" for June, 1852. p. 656.
+ ** Life and Letters," vol. i., p. 401, (in the first edition, p. 895) : "You [in
Hamburgh] have enjoyed the advantages of independence : the helplessnen <i a
city which stands alone as a State, is inseparable from them. In a great State,
all may unite to raise up a single ruined city. It has, as such, no National Debt
For a single dty to have a laige National Debt, is to have a monster devouring
iU vitals."

t *' Eclectic Review," p. 665.



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LBTTBR TO THE BDITOB. xv

with the greatest deference and modesty, even where
he could not adopt their suggestions; as to other
attacks, he took his revenge simply by passing thena
over in silence. And surely what he deUberately said
in his book, not what he may have said in most con-
fidential letters, written on the spur of the moment,
and fresh from the impression of what he considered as
incompetent criticism, ought to be made the test of
his judgment as an author respecting the opposition he
met with. But our reviewer has, with assiduous care,
ransacked all the passages contained in five letters,
written from 1816 to 1827.* And what do they amount
tol Four of these passages (which, moreover, ought to
be read by the candid judge in their context) contain
nothing but the expression, that his deep and patient ,
researches had given him a strong conviction of the
truths he had discovered, and the principles he had
established. It is true, that in a fifth letter (August 4th,
1830,) he gives vent to his vexation at a flippant
review of his ''Roman History '' in the ^^ Journal des
Debats'* and speaks lightly of the scholarship and
historical knowledge of the author — ^M. Villemain.
The personal friends of that amiable and unfortunate
statesman and writer, would scarcely be very indignant
at Niebuhr's calling him, in this respect, in 1830» ''a
man whose weak head had been turned by the
plaudits of the pubUc.'' But what is it that makeai
Niebuhr indignant ? No serious objection to any single
assertion of the reviewer, but the ignorant and foolish
remark, "that it is nothing new to refuse to regard the

♦ Doc 7th, 1816; May 28rd, 1822 ; April 29Ui, 1827; July I8U1, 1827.



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xTi LBTTBR TO THB EDITOE-

earliest times as historicaL'^ As if Niebuhr had ever
put forward such a trite observation, which, strictly
understood, is a truism ! — as if the object achieved by
the Grerman critic was nothing but a pedantic and
pretentious reproduction of the doubts of that ingenious
Frenchman, Beaufort, — b& if the problem of criticism
which is now before the age, and the paramount glory
of Niebuhr in treating it, were not something utterly
dififerent ; namely, to reconstruct the true history, in
spite of, nay, through the instrumentality of myths
and fictions, and wilful falsifications of the past ! Do
you think that history, should that French article ever
reach posterity, will give a milder verdict than Niebuhr
pronounced on reading the journal which had just
reached him, upon that piece of French impertinence 1 —
*' These people are actually unable to understand, that
the value of my exposition consists in my having shown
why, and how each circumstance has been invented/^
And these are the very words, marked in italics by the
English reviewer, in support of a charge so unworthy
of an English critic.

Do not, therefore, expect me, my dear Miss
Winkworth, to enter into a defence of Niebuhr, the
historian, against such intemperate charges. Does it
not atrike you besides, that it is still more ridiculous
than unjust to speak of ^' Niebuhr's Roman History "
as if it were his only historical production, and as if it
were complete, instead of stopping exactly where the
critic was beginning to merge into the historian ?
And yet what Uving spirits has Niebuhr called forth
from that field of dead and dry bones, — the first four



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LBTTBB TO THE BDITOB. xm

centuries of the Roman history ! Where we had mere
names of men and pale shadows of events, where the
historians yet extant had aLready— either through igno-
rance and neglect, or tainted by party-spirit — confused
the old traditions, there we now see before us living
characters, glowing with reality, and beaming with
truth. It is, therefore, unpardonable, for a serious
writer and a sagacious man (for such I take the
reviewer to be), to speak of Niebuhr's *^ Roman
History," as if its feme and value stood and fell with
some of his conjectures respecting the obscure and
doubtful origin of ancient tribes and languages, — con-
jectures, on which Niebuhr dwells less than any one
who has written after him, from Ottfried Muller to
Gerlach and Francis Newman. Are, then, his Lectures
on the whole Roman history from Romulus to Romulus
Augustulus, and those on the history of the whole
remaining ancient world, to be counted for nothing?
Are these six volumes nothing because they are unique
and almost marvellous? — because we have them only
from his lips, poured forth with that unfathomable know-
ledge and prodigious memory, to which every important
detail was always present, as if he had studied it but
that very moment 1 Only a very few notes having
been found among Niebuhr's papers, they have been,
as you know, correctly and artistically reproduced
on the faith of the MSS. of the most diUgent and
intelligent of his hearers, — ^a most meritorious work,
which we owe principally to the pious care of the
distinguished son of the historian, and to the trans-
lator who has so wonderfully succeeded in rendering



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xviii LETTER TO THE EDITOR.

them into English. Now^ here we have the test of
Niebuhr's scrupulous accuracy as a scholar, which
is unparalleled in the annals of Uterature. In a pro-
duction equal in volumes to " Gibbon's History," and
embracing the whole ancient world, where do we find
inaccuracies, even in his minute quotations 1 No,
my dear Miss Winkworth ; the author of that Review
is an Englishman, and besides, undoubtedly a learned
man and a lover of truth, and I cannot help thinking
that, in recalling these drcumstances, he must feel
someUiing Uke shame at having written the following
sentence, to transcribe which shall be the only punish-
ment for his unwarrantable attacks : —

" Niebuhr's quotations are often real garblings, highly
deceptive. This had, at one time, shaken our confidence in
his integrity. But we have no doubt that it arose out of his
abominable practice of trusting his immense memory,
instead of referring to the book. The consequence is, that
his memory retained only so much as countenanced his
theory, and forgot the clauses which positively refuted it.
In such ways the confident hare is outstripped in the race
by the tortoise. No student should ever trust a quotation
made by Niebuhr."*

As to direct falsehoods, spitefully or gratuitously
brought forward against the character of such a great
and good man, and even as to groundless stories lightly
repeated, I beg to refer to what Niebuhr says, in the
beginning of the third volume of his " History," when
speaking of the ever-renewed calumnies against great
men : — " Such falsehoods must be unflinchingly attacked

• " Eclectic Review,** p. 666., note.



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LBTTBB TO THE BDITOK. xix

and exposed wherever they are found; because it is
impossible to extirpate their germs, which are rooted in
the lowest part of human nature, — the desire to depre-
ciate." But> I repeat it, the most influential English
Keviews have not only treated Niebuhr with respect
and veneration, but have deUghted in doing justice, no
less to the character, than to the genius of so eminent
and good a man. And we are sure this national
judgment will be confirmed by the generations to come ;
^yrery succeeding year, every deeper investigation into
the political and literary character of the man and his
age, will tend to strengthen that impression.

We live in a critical epoch of the world, when no
mortal can yet tell whether Europe is advancing to life,
or sinking to death ; whether the elements of decay, or
those of new life, are the real signs of the times. But
certainly one prevailing character of our age is an
incessant bustle. A thousand puny reputations of
the day dispute each other the rank in the great race
for the honour, or at least for the gain, of the moment :
and the brilliant mediocrity of talent, and the undoubt-
ing shallowness of conceit would feel themselves Uttle



Online LibraryBarthold Georg NiebuhrThe life and letters of Barthold George Niebuhr: with essays on ..., Volume 3 → online text (page 1 of 29)