‘Pride in their port, defiance in their eye’

English Translations of German Travel Writing on the British Isles in the Early Nineteenth Century

By Carol Tully (Bangor University)


This article will focus on the translation into English of two early nineteenth-century German travelogues: Christian August Gottlieb Goede’s England, Wales, Irland und Schottland. Erinnerungen an Natur und Kunst aus einer Reise in den Jahren 1802 und 1803 [England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. Recollections of Nature and Art from a Journey in 1802 and 1803] (1804-5) and Samuel Heinrich Spiker’s Reise durch England, Wales und Schottland im Jahre 1816 [Journey through England, Wales and Scotland in 1816] (1818). Drawing on current debates on the relationship between travel writing and translation, the article will argue that the ‘topographies of knowledge’ (Martin and Pickford 2012) offered by Goede and Spiker are, in English translation, reworked in line with a specific translational agenda. The reception of these foreign travelogues and the rationale for and strategies deployed in their translation into English throw light not only on the perception of the travellers themselves but on the self-perception and political stance of their translators, reflecting in turn those of their readers. The resulting manipulation of cultural opinion and the frequent refocusing of the traveller’s gaze provide an insight into the political and cultural issues of the day. Underpinning this is a process of localisation aimed at meeting the demands of a reading public anxious for the validation of their political ideals and reaffirmation of the national self at a time when Great Britain was recovering from the loss of the North American States and simultaneously celebrating victory over Napoleon. The spirit of national renewal inspired by the victories at Trafalgar and Waterloo, the on-going colonial success epitomised by the East India Company and the inexorable rise of Great Britain as an industrial powerhouse required recognition from the nation’s allies and also its rivals. The translation of recent popular foreign travelogues with the British Isles as their subject was one means to achieving this.

Keywords: travel writing translation, nationalism, Germany, England, Spiker, Goede

©inTRAlinea & Carol Tully (2013).
"‘Pride in their port, defiance in their eye’ English Translations of German Travel Writing on the British Isles in the Early Nineteenth Century"
inTRAlinea Special Issue: Translating 18th and 19th Century European Travel Writing
Edited by: Susan Pickford & Alison E. Martin
This article can be freely reproduced under Creative Commons License.
Stable URL: https://www.intralinea.org/specials/article/1964

The popularity in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries of the British Isles as a destination for what might then have been termed ‘continental travellers’ is well documented. Travellers would take advantage of the periodic cessation in hostilities during the Napoleonic Wars and later the relative stability of the post-war period to venture westward as part of an extended Grand Tour. A favourite destination was, of course, London and the surrounding area, with the more intrepid making use of the gradually improving road network to visit places further afield. Travel narratives of the period juxtapose the Romantic landscapes of Scotland, Wales and the Lake District with the industrial advances and rapid expansion of the increasingly dominant cities. One of the most visible groups were those from the German-speaking lands who came to the British Isles to be inspired by first-hand experiences of the landscapes found in the works of writers such as Gilpin, Wordsworth and Scott. They were equally fascinated by the by now well-established British industrial landscape, which presented vistas of human endeavour and exploitation, the likes of which Germany would not see for another 50 years. These German travellers were often guided by translations of well-known British travelogues such as Thomas Pennant’s A Tour in Scotland (1771), which drew attention to the north of Britain as a result of the cult of Ossian triggered by Macpherson’s famous forgery. Pennant’s Tour was translated in 1779 by Johann Philipp Ebeling with the title T. Pennants Reise durch Schottland und die Hebridischen Inseln. Other narratives came from less direct sources, such as Dietrich Soltau’s 1808 translation of James MacDonald’s manuscript travelogue, Reise durch Schottland, seine Inseln, Dänemark und einen Teil von Deutschland [Journey through Scotland, its Isles, Denmark and Part of Germany], and the anonymous translation in 1804 of Frenchman Marc Auguste Pictet’s tour of the British Isles, Voyage de trois mois en Angleterre, en Ecosse, et en Irlande, pendant l’été de l’an IX. [1801.] [Three Months’ Voyage through England, Scotland and Ireland during the Summer of Year IX] as the Reise durch England, Schottland und Irland. The impact of these travels was notable and correspondences of the period reveal the experiences of numerous travellers, such as the writer Johanna Schopenhauer, the architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, and, of course, the composer Felix Mendelssohn, whose visit to Staffa in the Hebrides was the inspiration for his famous overture.

Building on earlier examples such as Johann Jacob Volkmann’s Neueste Reisen durch England [Most Recent Travels through England] (1781-2), the travelling trend produced a steady stream of nineteenth-century German language travelogues aimed at the home market, beginning with the two texts which will be the focus of this article: Christian August Gottlieb Goede’s England, Wales, Irland und Schottland. Erinnerungen an Natur und Kunst aus einer Reise in den Jahren 1802 und 1803 [England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. Recollections of Nature and Art from a Journey in 1802 and 1803] (1804-5) and Samuel Heinrich Spiker’s Reise durch England, Wales und Schottland im Jahre 1816 [Journey through England, Wales and Scotland in 1816] (1818). These narratives were soon followed by others. The enthusiasm for travel and fascination for customs continued through the Biedermeier period and well into the century, with, amongst others, Hermann von Pückler-Muskau’s Briefe eines Verstorbenen [Letters of a Dead Man] (1830), Heinrich Heine’s Englische Fragmente [English Fragments] (1830), Oskar Wolff’s Bilder der Vorzeit und Gegenwart aus England und Wales [Pictures of England and Wales, Past and Present] (1843), Johann Georg Kohl’s Reisen in England und Wales [Travels in England and Wales] (1844), Fanny Lewald’s England und Schottland. Reisetagebuch [England and Scotland. Travel Diary] (1851-52) and Julius Rodenberg’s many travelogues, including Ein Herbst in Wales [An Autumn in Wales] (1858). The tone and content of these publications was not homogenous but rather displayed a merging of interests, traditions and new approaches which parallel those identified by James Buzard in his discussion of the later years of the Grand Tour:

In surveying the post-1815 atmosphere of travel in Europe, it is important not to lose sight of continuities that carry across the Napoleonic divide: not only did the idea of the picturesque live on – stretched and applied to new purposes, to be sure – but even the classical interests of the ideal Grand Tourist did not entirely disappear. Nevertheless, most contemporary commentators thought that even if some of the aims of Continental travelling remained the same as they were in the eighteenth century, the victory at Waterloo had ushered in a new era in which opportunity and entrepreneurship were suddenly rendering the attractions of Europe open to (what they exaggeratedly characterised as) ‘everybody’ (Buzard 2002: 47).

Functioning alongside the diachronic development of travel writing described by Buzard, there was also a growing interest in the role of travel narratives in the intellectual polysystem of the period. This reflected the wider fascination with foreign ideas and perceptions as literacy rates and publishing capacity increased to provide more demand and more material. In the climate of reciprocal influence which so marked the development of European culture prior to, during and after the Napoleonic Wars, it is perhaps unsurprising that burgeoning European interest in the condition, geography and habits of the British Isles also drew the attention of British scholars, interested to see their native land through the eyes of the foreign observer. Consequently, the translation of English-language works on Great Britain, which had initially so influenced the itineraries of numerous European travellers to the British Isles, was mirrored by a trend for the translation of foreign travelogues in which those same European travellers recounted their own experiences for the benefit of their countrymen back home. As Alison E. Martin and Susan Pickford note in their introduction to Travel Narratives in Translation 1750-1830. Nationalism, Ideology, Gender (2012), this transnational dialogue centred on a complex set of interrelations which result from but also further develop the genre of travel writing itself:

[T]ravel writing is associated with recasting the foreign textually and visually for readers back home, translation is similarly concerned with transporting the foreign into the target language and culture and adapting it to meet the target audience’s expectations. Travel writing therefore shares with ethnography an interpretative view of foreign cultures and societies, while translation refracts the act of interpretation still further (2012: 1-2).

This leads them, quite rightly, to interrogate the tendency to try to draw together travel and translation in what they term ‘all-encompassing metaphors’. Instead, following Youngs and Polezzi, they view the emergence of translated travel writing in the context of ‘the interaction between agents who are themselves in specific networks which allow for knowledge to travel’ (2012: 4), that is to say, the agents effectively reflect the values and ideals of their own culture which in turn informs their approach to the source text chosen for dissemination to a home market. As Martin and Pickford note, this is linked to Susan Bassnett’s claim that travel writing ‘is the genre in which individual strategies employed by writers deliberately to construct images of other cultures for consumption by readers can most clearly be seen’ (Bassnett and Lefevre 1998: 138). As this article will argue, this act of deliberate construction can be rendered even more apparent when the travel narrative is received, through translation, into the very culture it describes. Central to this are the various agencies involved in the process of cultural transfer whose roles and identities are as complex as they cultures with which they are engaging. As Martin and Pickford (2012: 5) note, this is an area still ripe for exploration:

Much more investigation needs to be done into the sheer scale of translation in this period, the dynamics of translating non-fictional (scientific) travel writing, the mediating individuals and publishing houses involved, as well as the topographies of knowledge forged by translators, printers, publishers and readers.

The current article sets out to contribute to this debate, arguing that the ‘topographies of knowledge’ offered by Goede and Spiker as observers are, in English translation, reworked in line with a specific translational agenda, supporting the view expressed by Martin and Pickford (2012: 6) that ‘[t]ranslation is necessarily embedded within a range of different social contexts which determine how texts are selected, produced, and distributed, all of which themselves influence in turn the strategies adopted by the translator’. They develop this further by drawing on Bourdieu, via Simeoni, to argue the following:

It is not only translators who are the chief agents in the translation process. A series of participants are active in the translation enterprise, from the initiator of the project to the commissioner, source, and target text producers, users and receivers, all of whom emphasize the multi-faceted nature of mediating a text between one language and culture and another.

Again, this dynamic is further complicated when the text in question is being translated for a readership in the country being observed, that is to say for the consumption of the subjects of study themselves. In the case of Goede and Spiker, the reception of these foreign travelogues and the rationale for and strategies deployed in their translation into English throw light not only on the perception of the travellers themselves but on the self-perception and political stance of their translators, reflecting in turn those of their ‘users and receivers’. The resulting manipulation of cultural opinion and the frequent refocusing of the traveller’s gaze provide an insight into the political and cultural issues of the day. Underpinning this is a process of localisation aimed at meeting the demands of a reading public anxious for the validation of their political ideals and reaffirmation of the national self at a time when Great Britain was recovering from the loss of the North American States and simultaneously celebrating victory over Napoleon. The spirit of national renewal inspired by the victories at Trafalgar and Waterloo, the on-going colonial success epitomised by the East India Company and the inexorable rise of Great Britain as an industrial powerhouse required recognition from the nation’s allies and also its rivals. The translation of recent popular foreign travelogues with the British Isles as their subject was one means to achieving this.

The spirit of nationalism this suggests, however, was not always as ‘national’ as one might expect. The European tendency to reduce the nomenclature for Great Britain to simply ‘England’, often despite the express intentions of individual travel writers who included the names of all four ‘home nations’ in their title pages, all too often facilitated the transition of a source text travelogue on Great Britain to a target text travelogue on England. The anglo-centric political emphasis of a still relatively recently united kingdom frequently saw the promotion of national pride take on a specifically English hue as the process of localisation became one of centralisation. This phenomenon illustrates what Blanton, following Stout, sees as the ‘mode of introspection’ inherent in the narrative of any journey being undermined in translation by a process of reappropriation. The translator, driven by the demands of his or her own cultural networks, seeks to reinforce the self-perception of the observed Other, rather than mediate the perhaps less palatable views of the foreign observer. Blanton highlights that ‘there exists in the journey pattern the possibility of a kind of narrative where inner and outer worlds collide’ (Blanton 2002: 3). The strategic translation of travelogues into the culture of the observed Other shows that collision at its furthest extreme. Blanton draws on Janet Gunn’s study of autobiography to raise an issue which is central to the exchange and revision of observations at the centre of these translated texts. Both emphasise ‘the relation between self and world’. Gunn outlines the issues at play:

But it is here that there arises a set of problems in the negotiations between self and world, since the dialectic between participation and distantiation, or discovery and creation, is always in danger of being collapsed toward one side or the other: on the one side is the tendency towards idealism and the problem of the imperial self; on the other side is the tendency towards empiricism and the problem of the self’s ‘habituation’ by the world (Blanton 2002: 16).

Blanton relates this to travel writing in the following terms:

Cartesian dualism haunts travel writing, and by the romantic period the tendency to include the feelings of the narrator reached its zenith, collapsing eventually towards the ‘imperial self’ (Blanton 2002: 16).

In the case of the translations of Goede and Spiker, we see this trajectory taken to a further extreme. The narrative voice is reappropriated as the interventions of their respective translators collapse their narrative towards an altogether different and in the case of English national discourse, quite literal ‘imperial self’.

This process of reappropriation is well-illustrated by the case of Christian August Gottlieb Goede (1774-1812). Goede was a lawyer and professor of Law at both Jena and Göttingen but despite his legal background, he is best known for his travelogue England, Wales, Irland und Schottland. Erinnerungen an Natur und Kunst aus einer Reise in den Jahren 1802 und 1803, which was published in Dresden from 1804 to 1805 with a second edition appearing two years later. Typical of the genre, the text focuses on a range of topics: literature, fashion, theatre, education, geography, architecture, government and industry. Goede maintains an appreciative but also often critical stance throughout, suggesting improvements where he feels they are necessary and drawing often sharp comparisons with his native Prussia. There are two elements which make Goede’s work stand out in particular. The first is the comprehensive ambition of his project as reflected in the title, his aim to provide a complete set of reflections on his travels around the entirety of the British Isles. For reasons which are never explained, however, Goede’s narrative covers England and Wales and then ceases at the port of Holyhead as he is about to embark for Ireland. Despite the promise in the preface to the second edition to deliver further volumes and various passing references to experiences in Dublin and Scotland, no subsequent volumes appeared. We are left instead with a text which covers at length the landscape and manners of England and concludes with a substantial narrative on Wales.

The second notable feature of Goede’s text is the ethos which underlies it. The narrative focus and aesthetic mood are clearly informed by the Romantic ideals prevalent in Germany at the time. This is perhaps unsurprising given the date of publication, 1804, and the fact that Goede himself was living in Jena at the height of the Jena Romantik where he would have been aware of, if not intimate with, the circle around the Schlegel brothers, Tieck and Novalis. The first edition of his travelogue was published only two years after the Schlegel brothers’ Athenäum set the Romantic aesthetic agenda in Germany and Goede’s rhetoric identifies clearly with their views. This is emphasised by the opening lines of his travelogue which closely echo those of Novalis’ ‘Die Christenheit oder Europa’, itself so evocative of the early Romantic ideal, opening as it does with the following apotheosis of the medieval past:

Es waren schöne glänzende Zeiten, wo Europa ein christliches Land war, wo eine Christenheit diesen menschlich gestalteten Weltteil bewohnte; Ein großes gemeinschaftliches Interesse verband die entlegensten Provinzen dieses weiten geistlichen Reichs (von Hardenberg 1968: 507).
(Those were beautiful, glorious times, when Europe was a Christian land, where one form of Christianity existed in this continent shaped by man; one great common interest joined together the far-flung provinces of this broad spiritual empire.)

Novalis goes on to bemoan the demise of the feudal system and the damage caused by the Reformation to European development and stability.  Echoing these sentiments, Goede (1804-5, I: 6) harks back to a similar distant idyll but then draws his readers’ attention to the revival of the nations in the modern bourgeois world:

Seitdem jener Geist erloschen ist, der in einem früheren Zeitalter alle europäischen Staaten zu einem organischen Ganzen belebte, scheint die Trennung in ihren Theilen mit jedem Blick zu vergrößern und die allgemeine Auflösung immer drohender heranzunahen. Es sind nur wenige, bei denen in einer glücklichen Periode ein neues Lebensprinzip an die Stelle des alten trat und mit dem Entschlummern der alternden Kraft die ganze Fülle jugendlicher Stärke erwachte. Eine solche Regeneration ist auffallend sichtbar in jenen Staaten, wo nach dem gänzlichen Untergange des Ritterwesens, nach der großen Trennung der Kirche, und nach der Auflösung des Lehnbandes, der Handelsgeist sich erhob, die Freiheit emporhielt und mit der Eröffnung eines weiteren Wirkungskreises, den bewegenden Triebfedern des Gemeinwesens neue Schwungkraft verlieh.
(Since that spirit was extinguished, which in an earlier age inspired all European states to be part of an organic whole, fragmentation seems to worsen at every glance and widespread dispersal seems ever more threatening. There are but few, for whom in a happy time a new guiding principle emerged to replace the old and the deepening slumber of waning power awakened the full bloom of youthful vigor. A regeneration of this nature is particularly visible in those states, where following the complete demise of chivalry, following the great division of the Church, and following the abolition of serfdom, commerce emerged, hoisted the flag of freedom and with the opening of another field of influence, gave new power to the developing impetus of the community.)

Goede’s concurrence with Novalis’ views places him ideologically in the early group of Romantic thinkers in Germany whose focus was a cosmopolitan ideal founded on the principles of a bygone golden age which would later develop into a more nationalist discourse with a more specifically German aspect as a result of the ongoing war with France. This aesthetic and political stance, grounded in early Romantic ideology and informed by the Herderian appreciation of the Volksgeist, sees a proto-nationalist, Romantic view used to evaluate, in both negative and positive terms, the characteristics of British landscape, culture and politics.

This is particularly marked in Goede’s section on Wales, an area which few travellers visited at this time. Arriving in Wales, he finds himself with a group of fellow mail coach passengers who are on their way to Ireland. These English travellers are surprised that he plans to disembark in North Wales, and view such an undertaking as ‘höchst abentheuerlich’ [most adventurous] (1804-5, V: 312) given the ‘kahle Berge, häßliche Mädchen und schlechten Wein’ [barren mountains, ugly girls and poor wine] (1804-5, V: 313). For Goede, the experience is instead ‘romantisch’ and he repeats the adjective, undoubtedly in its Schlegelian sense, throughout. His description very much accords with the expectations of a reading public informed by the Herderian aesthetic, as appreciation of the indigenous culture is privileged over the dominant reading of Wales. This is made clear in Goede’s description of his encounter with an English scholar, whose love of Welsh culture fosters his desire to see the canonical rehabilitation of Welsh literature. The Englishman’s motivations are essentially anthropological, emphasising the role of literature in improving an understanding of the people, but the shift to a Herderian cultural framework is an easy one. This is reflected in Goede’s immediate association of the Welsh Bards with their fictional Hebridean counterpart:

Als ich ihn fragte, ob sich eine Aehnlichkeit zwischen den Ossianischen Liedern und denen der alten Welschen Barden erkennen lasse, äußerte er: beide glichen sich sehr in der Wahl der Gegenstände, aber es zeige sich eine große Verschiedenheit in der poetischen Sprache. Es ist, sagte der Fremde, als wären die Welschen Lieder auf einem viel wärmeren Boden entstanden, und als hätte die Liebe in diesen Gegenden eine so feurige Sprache geführt, wie im Süden von Europa (1804-5, V: 328).

(When I asked him whether there was any similarity between the Ossianic songs and those of the ancient Welsh Bards, he said: the two were very similar in the choice of themes, but there was a great difference in terms of the poetical language. It is, said the stranger, as if the Welsh songs were the product of a far warmer terrain, and as if the expression of love in these lands was as fiery as in the south of Europe.)

Here, with a positive emphasis on the alterity of Wales, Goede and his new companion can be seen to engage in contemporary aesthetic debates, with a lexical debt to August Wilhelm Schlegel’s apotheosis of southern European languages and cultures, which appeared in his Europa article in 1803, the year of Goede’s trip (Schlegel 1803: 72-87).[1] Goede’s affinity with the Romantic Zeitgeist ensured the success of his travelogue, as the rapid provision in 1806 of a slightly expanded second edition suggests. Goede’s text was used widely and references to it are found in many subsequent travel narratives, including Heine’s Englische Fragmente and Johann David Passavant’s Tour of a German Artist in England (1836), the latter unusually written specifically for the English-speaking market.

Goede’s profile as a travel writer was further enhanced by the rapid appearance of the text in translation. It was translated into Dutch, Danish and English almost immediately, with a Swedish version appearing later in 1815. While only reproducing the sections on England, the Dutch translation is a close rendition, which maps on to the original with very little divergence. This is perhaps unsurprising as in Dutch translation it remains true to its essence as a guide for foreign travellers. The text in English translation, however, meets with a different fate, becoming an essentially self-reflective text whose character and purpose undergo a dramatic shift. This leads to a disruption of what Casey Blanton understands the travel narrative to be:

What travel books are ‘about’ is the interplay between observer and observed, between a traveler’s own philosophical biases and preconceptions and the tests those ideas and prejudices endure as a result of the journey. The reverberations between observer and observed, between self and world, allow the writer to celebrate the local while contemplating the universal (Blanton 2002: 5).

This disruption is caused by Goede’s English translator whose explicit actions effectively erode the self of the original narrator and, furthermore, of the text itself. The text in translation shifts in focus and purpose from the observations of an interested traveller with a critical eye on British culture to a narrative reshaped to deliver praise and support for all things English. Ironically, the significance of the traveller whose opinion is being sought is thus undermined as his views become subject to approval by the receiving culture, the very culture about which he is writing.

As is often the case, the identity of the English translator is unclear. A name is provided on the title page, that of Thomas Horne. Initial research seemed to suggest Thomas Hartwell Horne (1780-1862), a biblical scholar and bibliographer with a long association with the British Museum and an interest in topography. However, there are grounds to doubt his involvement in Goede’s text. Firstly, Hartwell Horne’s work appears always to carry his full name, Thomas Hartwell Horne, and secondly, any translation work he undertook was from the French. There is, however, also a Thomas Horne working at the same time, translating a variety of texts from German, including Schiller’s History of the Rise and Progress of the Belgian Republic, in 1807, and the Essays and Tales, Moral, Literary and Philosophical of Johann Jacob Engel, which appeared in 1808. Examination of the paratextual elements included in these two publications, which will be referred to in due course, suggests that this more obscure Thomas Horne, a figure absent from historical biographies, is, in fact, Goede’s English translator.

Perhaps more significant than the actual identity of the translator, however, is his strategy. Horne’s first translation of Goede, the Memorials of Nature and Art collected on a Journey in Great Britain during the years 1803 and 1804, was published in 1808. It is prefaced with a lengthy ‘Advertisement’ which outlines the translator’s modus operandi:

In the following work, though occasionally adapted (as some may perhaps suppose by too liberal an accommodation) to the circumstances of the country in whose language it now appears, the reader will not fail to discover, it is feared, more than enough to ascertain its native soil. This, indeed, forms the Editor’s best apology for having here and there lopped the heavy luxuriance of the version, that it still retains so much of Germany. With less reverence for the principle of accurate translation, he would have made more considerable retrenchments, particularly in what relates to the English universities; but this would have been to publish not Goede but himself. […] Of the author’s temporary politics, though much has been omitted, much has been spared, that deserved scarcely a better fate. There are traits in a Teniers, which rather characterise the school, than indicate the matter. The object, in publishing this work, is not to give currency to the virulence, or permanence to the squabbles of party; but to shew Englishmen in what estimation they are held by foreigners, and to teach them to know and to value their blessings (Goede tr. Horne: 1808: s.n.).

As this suggests, Horne’s translation takes a very specific approach, one which sees an attempt to simultaneously domesticate and demonise the original text and its author. The process is a complex one which sees Horne use Goede’s ‘German’ views as a means to legitimise his own positive appraisal of English character and manners, thus reversing Goede’s original ethos which aimed at critical observation, whilst also, somewhat perversely, presenting the modern German observer, as a representative of his entire nation, in a negative light. Horne’s intention is, then, not to convey Goede’s views but rather to exploit them, providing a selective rendition to serve a specific political end: the bolstering of English national pride, a process which intensifies with Horne’s second edition. By examining the range of alterations and paratextual elements, Horne’s intentions as an apologist of English nationalism become clear.

The first notable change is to the title of the text. Whereas Goede was at pains to emphasise the comprehensive and detailed intent of his project by naming the four ‘home nations’ individually in his title, Horne’s first edition elides these as Memorials of Nature and Art collected on a Journey in Great Britain. Yet, this is in itself misleading as, unlike the original, the content actually only covers England. Any lack of clarity as to the focus of the translation is more than overcome on the title page of Horne’s second edition, published in 1821:

A Foreigner’s Opinion of England, Englishmen, Englishwomen, English manners, English morals, English domestic life, English Art and Artists, English Literature, English Criticism, English Education, English Universities, English Clergy, English Sectarians, English Nobility, English Parties, English Politics, English Laws, English Lawyers, English Merchants, English Commerce, English Charities, English Fashions, English Amusements, and a variety of other interesting Subjects, including Memorials of Nature and Art, Comprised in a Series of free Remarks, the result of personal Observation during a residence of Two Years in Great Britain.

In addition to this heavy and almost comical emphasis on Englishness in the title, Horne’s second edition also sees the removal of the ‘Advertisement’ supplied in the first, which gave at least some, albeit critical, profile to the author of the original text. In its place we find quite simply a portrait of the recently crowned George IV. In so doing, Horne further disconnects the text from its origin, whilst hammering home his political intentions.

The editorial interventions on the part of the translator are not limited to the title page. Horne’s translation includes only 18 of the original 36 chapters, ending with the chapter which discusses English, that is to say, London, theatre. The order of the chapters is altered slightly but this has little effect. However, those chapters chosen are much abridged and the tendency is to remove any criticism of England and the English. This immediately explains the lack of interest in Goede’s Welsh narrative, which took a Romantically positive view of Welsh culture and severely censured the English for their political and social failings there. This manipulation of Goede’s viewpoint is further highlighted in the treatment of other aspects of the original which point to a very specific editorial agenda. At the end of chapter 16, for example, Goede deals with the literary world. He criticizes the narrowness of English writers and scholars, claiming there is no breadth to their work. Ironically, given the fate of his own work, he points also to the lack of engagement with foreign literature, adding that the standard of translation is very poor. He goes on to claim that German literature is seen as dangerous in England and that only Coleridge has been able to appreciate it. Horne omits this section altogether. Similarly, the end of Goede’s 18th chapter, which deals with the state of the English stage, citing poor actors, rowdy audiences and ill-maintained buildings, is removed. In both cases, Horne clearly omits sections which level cutting criticism at key aspects of English cultural life.

Goede’s text was not the only German travelogue to be dealt with in this way in English translation. The treatment of Samuel Heinrich Spiker’s Reise durch England, Wales und Schottland im Jahre 1816 (1818) displays similar strategies. Spiker (1786-1858) was a publisher and librarian who from 1806 held the post of librarian in the Royal Library in Berlin. He was also involved in numerous journals including the Zeitschrift für neueste Geschichte [Journal of Most Recent History] and the Journal für Land- und Seereisen [Journal of Land and Sea Travel]. He was well travelled and made a particular name for himself in the social circles of Georgian England. His British travelogue reflected his experiences during a prolonged residence and differs greatly from Goede’s work in tone and content. Spiker’s main interests are current customs, commerce and industry with very little engagement with culture, language or landscape. Rather than great authors, he cites the names of great engineers such as Thomas Telford, and provides careful descriptions of architecture, infrastructure and industry rather than social mores and cultural events. Consequently, whereas Goede very much fits with the picturesque tradition of travel writing, Spiker’s approach is more practical and scientific, reflecting an interest in the new era of ‘opportunity and entrepreneurship’ highlighted by Buzard (2002: 47).

Spiker’s travels were translated into English anonymously in 1820 with the title Travels through England, Wales and Scotland in the year 1816. The anonymity of the translator makes it harder to speculate on the ethos underpinning the translation but there are clear parallels with the translation of Goede’s work. The anonymous translator undoubtedly had similar objectives to Horne in the post-Napoleonic climate, finding Spiker’s approbation of British ingenuity very much to his taste and that of his prospective English readership. He writes the following in the ‘Advertisement by the Translator’ which prefaces the work:

The author of these Travels was well known to an extensive literary circle during his residence in England, and was as remarkable for the quickness of his observations and the diligence of his enquiries, as for the candour of his remarks, the urbanity of his manners, and the friendly disposition he invariably manifested towards this country.
Nor did his regard for the English terminate with his visit. These Travels are in the original dedicated to THE FRIENDS OF ENGLAND, and there are few if any of our countrymen who have had occasion to visit the Prussian capital, who have not experienced an ample return of these attentions which the author upon all occasions gratefully acknowledges to have received whilst among us (Spiker tr. anon 1820: ix).

Note the emphasis on this particular foreigner’s compatibility with the English character and the complete disregard for Spiker’s careful commentaries of Wales and Scotland. The reader is immediately aware that he or she is about to receive a positive appraisal of England and its customs. The translator seeks to further strengthen this by emphasising the status of the original author:

The author holds a distinguished rank in the literature of his native country, and fills an estimable situation in the royal library at Berlin. The more immediate object of his journey to England was, as he himself informs us, to supply the deficiencies in the collection under his care, which had arisen out of the interruption of intercourse occasioned by the war. This may be considered as his private business. But he had other objects of a public nature strongly at heart, which this journey enabled him to prosecute. He wished to become accurately acquainted with our literary and scientific institutions; our charitable and economical establishments; our mechanical inventions; the effects of our arts, manufacturers, and commerce; and in short to obtain a knowledge of the true spirit of the system on which the public and private greatness of Britain is founded. On these subjects he expresses himself with the candour and simplicity of a man anxious for the improvement of his own countrymen, and far above the influence of petty national prejudices, or of any feelings of personal vanity (Spiker tr. anon 1820: ix-x).

The translator juxtaposes deftly the role of the original author in educating his own people, thus highlighting their weakness, whilst also emphasising the astuteness and faithfulness of his observations on England. The very Englishness upon which these views are said to focus is equated seamlessly with ‘the public and private greatness of Britain’ to elide the other areas visited by Spiker and allows the translator to then emphasise the value of England in respect of all areas of life and culture:

The appearance of the country, the proud mansions of our nobility and gentry, the neatness of the habitations of our other classes, the treasures of art, the curiosities of nature – all shared his attention, and all are described with a truth and accuracy of which there is no example in the work of any other foreigner. Speculative opinions will be sought here in vain. The author wished instead of making a parade of his own wisdom and acuteness, to lay before his readers facts to enable them to form opinions for themselves, and to draw their own conclusions with unbiased and unprejudiced minds. He has even avoided general description as much as possible, and in every particular instance, has endeavoured to exhibit the object itself to his readers. Those who wish to know what England really is, will not be displeased at the minuteness of his delineations, or the diligence which he has displayed in the numeration of circumstances that the indolence of travellers too often induces them to overlook. He is not one of those writers who substitute the dreams of imaginations, or the whims of caprice for the impressions of reality. With an attention always on the alert, and the most unwearied assiduity and diligence, and prepared for his task by a previous perusal of the works best calculated to serve him as a guide in his researches, he allowed few objects of interest or curiosity to escape his notice; and the reader will therefore find many things mentioned by him which are not met with in the Itineraries and Tours of our own writers. In short, the object he had in view of supplying the public with a work on England of general utility, has been accomplished with no ordinary degree of success (Spiker tr. anon 1820: x-xii).

As this overwhelmingly positive appraisal of Spiker’s work might suggest, the translator sees little need to alter or edit the text on England in his translation. Instead, the localisation is limited to the paratextual material and geographical elision as the reader, duly primed, is presented with Spiker’s views and observations on England only. Crucial, however, is the positive tone of those views and observations in the context of a nationalist agenda. Here, the translator is able to mediate what are presented as being the ‘right’ kind of German opinions to a readership happy to receive further confirmation of England’s standing on the European stage from a nation increasingly respected for its cultural and intellectual reputation.

Whereas Spiker’s translator limits his paratextual interventions to the foreword, Horne adopts other strategies to ensure that what he considers to be the right message is delivered to Goede’s English readers. This requires more effort and innovation in order to reshape Goede’s often critical views. Indicative is the inclusion in both the 1808 and the 1821 versions of Goede’s work an epigraph taken from Oliver Goldsmith’s popular 1764 poem ‘The Traveller; or a Prospect of Society’. Goldsmith’s poem, itself a travelogue, depicts a journey through European lands with comments on character based largely on the ideas expounded in Montesquieu’s L’Esprit des lois [Spirit of the Laws] (1748). The section chosen by Horne revels in the superiority of the steadfast English character:

Fir’d at the sound, my genius spreads her wing,
And flies where Britain courts the western spring;
Where lawns extend that scorn Arcadian pride,
And brighter streams than fam’d Hydaspis glide.


Pride in their port, defiance in their eye,
I see the lords of human kind pass by;
Intent on high designs, a thoughtful band,
By forms unfashion'd, fresh from Nature's hand;
Fierce in their native hardiness of soul,
True to imagin'd right, above control,
While e'en the peasant boasts these rights to scan,
And learns to venerate himself as man (Goldsmith 1993: 170).

The patriotic reference to naval power, ‘Pride in their port’, sits well with choice of the new king as a frontispiece illustration and the reference to ‘lords of humankind […]/ intent on high designs’ emphasises the increasing colonial power of the British Empire (in Goldsmith’s case, prior, of course, to American independence). Horne takes these pre-Napoleonic references and applies them by association to recent British naval victories and post-Napoleonic prowess, eulogising the rectitude of a nation able to ‘venerate [itself] as man’. This can be seen as an attempt, post-1805 and eventually post-1815, to portray and revive specifically anglo-centric eighteenth-century universalist values, something underlined by Horne’s desire to pull Goede’s text back from its specifically German Romantic origins. The excision of the section on Wales, perhaps the most Romantic in nature, is indicative of this and fits with Horne’s overt criticism of German Romantic thought in the context of his other translations. This is underlined by the fact that other German works chosen for translation by Horne and his clearly supportive publisher Joseph Mawman are dealt with much more sympathetically, suggesting that Horne’s issue with German thought is linked not to the nation itself but to the recent development of ideas there. For example, in the ‘Advertisement’ to his translation of Engel’s Essays and Tales, Moral, Literary and Philosophical (1808), he states the following:

The literature of the Germans is hitherto but imperfectly known to my countrymen. Its halcyon times are past, its meridian splendours eclipsed, and it is far gone in its Aphelion. In Germany, metaphysicians, like the sophists of ancient Greece, have usurped the rank of fine writers, and have corrupted the genius of the rising generation.
The barbarians of Gaul have also accelerated this tragical [sic] event. Their Chieftain, like Brennus, his great prototype, commits ravages where he can find no gold. He has invaded the sanctuary of the Alma Mater, and has subverted the Universities at Jena and Halle, those ancient seats of Learning and the Muses. But the names of Goethe, Wieland, Herder, Schiller and Lessing; of Voss, Klopstock and Gessner; of the Count de Stollberg [sic], Burger [sic], Jacobi and Kleist, still remain fresh in the remembrance of every patriotic German, and their writings are perused with avidity. We also possess some translations of these original writers, but they are faint transcripts; the beautiful tints are gone, the warm glow and fire of genius (Engel tr. Horne 1808: v-vii).

In an ironic reversal of ideology, Horne presents writers, many of whom are still active, as representatives of a bygone age of cultural patriotism, unsullied by the ‘metaphysics’, and presumably, the pluralism of the early Romantic spirit. This is emphasised by his appraisal of Engel himself, although his choice of analogy – ‘flower and chivalry’ - might suggest an affiliation with the Romantic view:

Engel, author of the following performance, must also be numbered amongst those fine writers who are the flower and chivalry of German literature. His diction is classical, his imagery beautiful, and his moral sentiments refined. He ought therefore to appear before the tribunal of an English public (Engel tr. Horne 1808: vii).

The Classical Engel and his work are, then, fit for the consumption of an English reading public with no requirement for mediation or localisation. Horne presents Engel in a quite different light to Goede, the former described in far more positive terms. The translator’s approach to Engel’s text is modified accordingly:

I have endeavoured to transfer his spirit into this translation, and should it appear that my labours have not been altogether unsuccessful, I shall have the consolation of thinking that I have performed a task, which may in some degree be regarded as meritorious (Engel tr. Horne 1808: vii).

Placing himself in the role of agent, Horne seeks here to present his translation as one close in terms of accuracy and spirit to the original, quite unlike the censorious and almost mocking tone adopted in relation to Goede’s text. Horne’s enthusiasm for the greatness of the neo-Classical period is further underlined in the ‘Advertisement’ to his translation of Schiller, fully titled History of the Rise and Progress of the Belgian Republic until the Revolution under Philip II including a detail of the primary causes of that memorable event from the German original of Frederic Schiller (1807). In fact, Horne’s choice of title is misleading. Schiller’s original wording, Geschichte des Abfalls der vereinigten Niederlande von der spanischen Regierung (1788), had a broader national and political focus. Horne reproduces only Schiller’s ‘Einleitung’ and ‘Erstes Buch’, omitting in so doing the final four pages of the latter, presumably because the translation is intended as ‘an introduction to Dr Watson’s celebrated History of Philip the Second’, which covered the same period as the end of Schiller’s first volume. Despite this selectivity, Horne shows an awareness in his preliminary remarks of the importance of cultural identity to the textual interface:

The following historical essay, which has been justly admired by foreign critics as a classical performance, is offered to the public by way of experiment, whether a foreign production will flourish in a British soil; whether the beams of an ardent imagination be obscured, or the lofty flights of a sublime genius be arrested in their progress to us (Schiller tr. Horne 1807: iii).

For Horne, that progress is clearly dependent upon the ability of the translator to introduce not just German views to a British public, but the right kind of German views. This is dependent in turn on his own skill and knowledge:

With respect to my translation, I hope I have written it with that sort of correctness and taste, which is the result of a long and complete acquaintance with the language of the original; and should this performance acquire a like reputation in my native country which it has abroad, then will my labour be amply remunerated (Schiller tr. Horne 1807: iv).

Again, Horne positions himself clearly as an agent. Note the repetition of the term ‘performance’, making a direct link between the writer, Schiller, and the translator, Horne. The self-reflective nature of Horne’s work as a translator informs our understanding of his treatment of Goede’s work. He sees himself as both conduit and evaluator and his intentions are politicised in both political and cultural terms. His agenda does not simply seek to represent German culture and views but rather a specifically targeted version thereof intended to support a specifically nationalist, pre-Romantic ideology. Ironically, for all his disapproval of Romantic aesthetics and thought, his purpose in exploiting Goede’s text as a means to bolster English national pride closely mirrors that of the second generation of Romantic thinkers in Germany who would turn to Novalis’ apotheosis of the medieval period in an attempt to foster a sense of national continuity in the fragmented German states. Goede uses his critique of Britain to underpin his enthusiasm for his Prussian homeland via positive comparison. In refocusing the text in translation, Horne relocates the positive attributes within the English context and simultaneously demonises the German observer. The result is a text which refocuses the views of the author, particularly in the case of the second edition where the explanatory ‘Advertisement’ is removed. This has an impact on the reception of the work in translation. In the Quarterly Christian Spectator of 1822, a reviewer of the American edition, published in Boston, criticizes Goede’s text for its ‘peculiar partiality for the English nation’, pondering whether the author ‘went from an obscure corner of Germany’, given that ‘he seems to be delighted on his first arrival in London, as if he had come direct from a hermitage.’ The reviewer is aware that the ‘work appears under a disadvantage having to be viewed through the medium of a translation’ but applies this caveat to the fluidity of the language, unaware of the impact of Horne’s editorial choices (Anon. 1823: 318-24).

The two translations from the German presented here represent, then, a case study in the domestication and political reappropriation of travellers’ texts. These texts were originally intended to provide German audiences with a positive point of comparison for their own emerging nationalist ethos, but are in translation instead transformed into an affirmation of a specifically English superiority, losing the distance of the observer, in favour of a patriotic reaffirmation of national selfhood. The translations appear at a time when the English sense of self-worth was high following defeat of the French at both Trafalgar and Waterloo, events which partially overrode the shock of losing the grip on much of North America the century before. These positive views from abroad feed into the egocentric national discourses of the period, combining a quasi-colonial curiosity to know what others might think of the English status quo with a vicarious confirmation of the status of the nation in the European context. Playing to a home audience and conscious of their own ‘topographies of knowledge’, the translators have the self-confidence to brush aside opinion which might not fit with little fear of contradiction, not least given the reading public’s relative lack of familiarity with German language and culture. The material is transmitted with an air of condescension mixed with a self-congratulatory mutual appreciation of the scholarly middle classes which easily crosses the cultural divide. The ‘reverberations between observer and observed, between self and world’ (Blanton 2002: 16) are palpable. Goede’s original Romantic idea, to provide reflections on his experiences in all four home nations, is gradually eroded, firstly by his own inability to realise the full project, and eventually by Horne’s editorial interventions which see the pluralist vision of the original reduced to a fraction, diminishing to a much altered depiction of a London-centric England, which, for those observers much further afield, has begun to lose its credibility. In the case of Spiker, we see the views of a German traveller presented as those, not of a foreigner, but rather of an almost naturalised scholar whose affinity with the English way make his views in translation coterminous with those of his readership. The apotheosis of Goldsmith’s poem in Horne’s translation sits comfortably at the apex of this transition, the reinforcement of a sense of national worth epitomised by naval power and colonial domination. The original travellers, Goede in particular, might well have wondered what had become of their narrative and indeed, of their individual relationship between ‘self and world’.


Anon. (1823) Quarterly Christian Spectator, June 1823: 318-24.

Blanton, Casey (2002 [1995]) Travel Writing. The Self and the World, New York/London, Routledge.

Buzard, James (2002) “The Grand Tour and after (1660-1840)” in The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing, Peter Hulme and Tim Youngs (eds), Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: 37-52.

Engel, Johann Jakob (1808) Essays and Tales, Moral, Literary and Philosophical by M. Engel, Author of Essays on Dramatic Gesture. Translated from the original German by Thomas Horne, London, Coxhead.

Goede, Christian August Gottlieb (1804-5) England, Wales, Irland und Schottland. Erinnerungen an Natur und Kunst aus einer Reise in den Jahren 1802 und 1803, 5 vols, Dresden, Arnold.

----, Christian August Gottlieb (1808) Memorials of Nature and Art collected on a journey in Great Britain during the years 1803 and 1804, 3 vols, trans T. Horne, London, Mawman.

Goldsmith, Oliver (1993) Poems and Plays, London, Dent.

Hardenberg, Friedrich von (1968) Novalis. Schriften III: Das philosophische Werk II. Richard Samuel, Hans-Joachim Mähl, and Gerhard Schulz (eds), 2nd edn, 5 vols, Stuttgart, Kohlhammer.

Martin, Alison E., and Susan Pickford (eds) (2012) Travel Narratives and Translation 1750-1830. Nationalism, Ideology and Gender, London & New York, Routledge.

Schiller, Friedrich (1807) History of the Rise and Progress of the Belgian Republic until the Revolution under Philip II including a detail of the primary causes of that memorable event from the German original of Frederic Schiller by Thomas Horne, London, Coxhead.

Schlegel, August Wilhelm (1803) “Über das spanische Theater”, Europa. Eine Zeitschrift I: 72-87.

Spiker, Samuel Heinrich (1818) Reise durch England, Wales und Schottland im Jahre 1816, 2 vols, Leipzig, Göschen.

----, Samuel Heinrich (1820) Travels through England, Wales and Scotland in the year 1816, 2 vols, London, Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor and Jones.

Tully, Carol (2009) “The Celtic Misconnection: The German Romantics and Wales”, Angermion II: 127-41.


[1] See Tully (2009).

About the author(s)

Carol Tully is Professor of German at Bangor University. She studied at Strathclyde University (1987-92), gaining a first class degree in German and Spanish and Latin American Studies. She then went on to complete her PhD at Queen Mary London (1992-96). Since then, she has established an international reputation as a scholar in the area of European cultural exchange in the nineteenth century with a primary focus in Germany and Spain. She has published a number of books, scholarly editions, translations and journal articles.

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©inTRAlinea & Carol Tully (2013).
"‘Pride in their port, defiance in their eye’ English Translations of German Travel Writing on the British Isles in the Early Nineteenth Century"
inTRAlinea Special Issue: Translating 18th and 19th Century European Travel Writing
Edited by: Susan Pickford & Alison E. Martin
This article can be freely reproduced under Creative Commons License.
Stable URL: https://www.intralinea.org/specials/article/1964

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