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Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine - Volume 62, No. 384, October 1847   By:

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Transcribers note: The letter o appears in this text with a macron and a breve above it. They have been rendered as [=o] and [)o] respectively.

BLACKWOOD'S EDINBURGH MAGAZINE.

No. CCCLXXXIV. OCTOBER, 1847. VOL. LXII.

CONTENTS

HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN The Emperors New Clothes THE VISION OF CAGLIOSTRO Tiberius Agrippa Milton Mirabeau Beethoven MAGA IN AMERICA THE TIMES OF GEORGE II ART IN THE EARLY CHRISTIAN AGES THE PORTRAIT Chapter I Chapter II HOUNDS AND HORSES AT ROME English Kennel The Steeple chase Roman Dogs SONG MY FRIEND THE DUTCHMAN

WORKS OF HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN.[1]

If our readers have perchance stumbled upon a novel called "The Improvisatore" by one HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN, a Dane by birth, they have probably regarded it in the light merely of a foreign importation to assist in supplying the enormous annual consumption of our circulating libraries, which devour books as fast as our mills do raw cotton; with some difference, perhaps, in the result, for the material can rarely be said to be worked up into any thing like substantial raiment for body or mind, but seems to disappear altogether in the process. As the demand, here, exceeds all ordinary means of supply, they may have been glad to see that our trade with the North is likely to be beneficial to us, in this our intellectual need. Its books may not be so durable as its timber, nor so substantial as its oxen, but then they are articles of faster growth, and of easier transportation. To free trade in these productions of the literary soil, not the most jealous protectionist will object; and they have, perhaps, been amused to observe how the mere circumstance of a foreign origin has given a cheap repute, and the essential charm of novelty, to materials which in themselves were neither good nor rare. The popular prejudice deals very differently with foreign oxen and foreign books; for, whereas an Englishman has great difficulty in believing that good beef can possibly be produced from any pastures but his own, and the outlandish beast is always looked upon with more or less suspicion, he has, on the contrary, a highly liberal prejudice in favour of the book from foreign parts; and nonsense of many kinds, and the most tasteless extravagancies, are allowed to pass unchallenged and unreproved, by the aid of a German, or French, or Danish title page.

Nay, the eye is sometimes tasked to discover extraordinary beauty, where there is nothing but extraordinary blemish. Where the shrewd translator had veiled some absurdity or rashness of his author, the more profound reader has been known to detect a meaning and a charm, which "the English language had failed adequately to convey;" and he has, perhaps, shown a sovereign contempt for "the bungling translator," at the very time when that discreet workman had most displayed his skill and judgment. The idea has sometimes occurred to us Suppose one of these foreign books were suddenly proved to be of genuine home production suppose the German, or the Dane, or the Frenchman, were discovered to be a fictitious personage, and all the genius, or all the rant, to have really emanated from the English gentleman, or lady, who had merely professed to translate presto! how the book would instantly change colours! What a reverse of judgment would there be! What secret misgivings would now be detected and proclaimed! What sudden outpourings of epithets by no means complimentary! How the boldness of many a metaphor would be transformed into sheer impudence! How the profundities would clear up, leaving only darkness behind! They were so mysterious and now, throw all the light of heaven upon them, and there is nothing there but a blunder or a blot... Continue reading book >>


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