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The Development of the Feeling for Nature in the Middle Ages and Modern Times   By: (1856-1930)

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Director of the K. K. Gymnasium at Neuwied

Authorized translation from the German



The encouraging reception of my "Development of the Feeling for Nature among the Greeks and Romans" gradually decided me, after some years, to carry the subject on to modern tunes. Enticing as it was, I did not shut my eyes to the great difficulties of a task whose dimensions have daunted many a savant since the days of Humboldt's clever, terse sketches of the feeling for Nature in different times and peoples. But the subject, once approached, would not let me go. Its solution seemed only possible from the side of historical development, not from that of a priori synthesis. The almost inexhaustible amount of material, especially towards modern times, has often obliged me to limit myself to typical forerunners of the various epochs, although, at the same time, I have tried not to lose the thread of general development. By the addition of the chief phases of landscape, painting, and garden craft, I have aimed at giving completeness to the historical picture; but I hold that literature, especially poetry, as the most intimate medium of a nation's feelings, is the chief source of information in an enquiry which may form a contribution, not only to the history of taste, but also to the comparative history of literature. At a time too when the natural sciences are so highly developed, and the cult of Nature is so widespread, a book of this kind may perhaps claim the interest of that wide circle of educated readers to whom the modern delight in Nature on its many sides makes appeal. And this the more, since books are rare which seek to embrace the whole mental development of the Middle Ages and modern times, and are, at the same time, intended for and intelligible to all people of cultivation.

The book has been a work of love, and I hope it will be read with pleasure, not only by those whose special domain it touches, but by all who care for the eternal beauties of Nature. To those who know my earlier papers in the Preussische Jahrbücher , the Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Litteraturgeschichte , and the Litteraturbeilage des Hamburgischen Correspondents , I trust this fuller and more connected treatment of the theme will prove welcome.


Published Translations of the following Authors have been used:

SANSCRIT. Jones, Wilson, Arnold, anonymous translator in a publication of the Society for Resuscitation of Ancient Literature.

LATIN AND GREEK. Lightfoot, Jowett, Farrar, Lodge, Dalrymple, Bigg, Pilkington, Hodgkin, De Montalembert, Gary, Lok, Murray, Gibb, a translator in Bonn's Classics.

ITALIAN. Gary, Longfellow, Cayley, Robinson, Kelly, Bent, Hoole, Roscoe, Leigh Hunt, Lofft, Astley, Oliphant.

GERMAN. Horton and Bell, Middlemore, Lytton, Swanwick, Dwight, Boylau, Bowling, Bell, Aytoun, Martin, Oxenford, Morrison, M'Cullum, Winkworth, Howorth, Taylor, Nind, Brooks, Lloyd, Frothingham, Ewing, Noel, Austin, Carlyle, Storr, Weston, Phillips.

SPANISH. Markham, Major, Bowring, Hasell, M'Carthy, French.

FRENCH. Anonymous translator of Rousseau.


The Translator's thanks are also due to the author for a few alterations in and additions to the text, and to Miss Edgehill, Miss Tomlinson, and Dr B. Scheifers for translations from Greek and Latin, Italian, and Middle German respectively.


Nature in her ever constant, ever changing phases is indispensable to man, his whole existence depends upon her, and she influences him in manifold ways, in mind as well as body.

The physical character of a country is reflected in its inhabitants; the one factor of climate alone gives a very different outlook to northerner and southerner. But whereas primitive man, to whom the darkness of night meant anxiety, either feared Nature or worshipped her with awe, civilised man tries to lift her veil, and through science and art to understand her inner and outer beauty the scientist in her laws, the man of religion in her relation to his Creator, the artist in reproducing the impressions she makes upon him... Continue reading book >>

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