As the earlier men centred in Jena, so the later Romanticists flourished in Heidelberg, that city which Eichendorff called "itself a magnificent Romanticism." The earlier group was largely North German and brought with it clear perception and a certain power of analysis, an ability to dissect and to reason.
There are invidious persons who intimate that his only reason for cultivating the blackberry is to be found in the fact that nothing else will grow on his farm, and presumably you have heard the epigram which the romanticists have perpetrated at Mr. Harland's expense, and which represents that ambitious and aggressive gentleman as raising blackberries in summer and in winter.
It is significant that the singers who are most aware of their inarticulateness are not the romanticists, who, supposedly, took no thought for a possible audience; but they are the later poets, who are obsessed with the idea that they have a message. Emily Dickinson, herself as untroubled as any singer about her public, yet puts the problem for us. She avers,
About the same time as the advent of the Romanticists in Germany appeared Walpole's "Castle of Otranto" in England, which is supposed to belong to the same school of literature and to have been influenced by the German.
They were not realists as all good romanticists have to be. They had no love for oddities or idiosyncrasies or exceptions. They loved uniformity, they had no use for truth in detail.
This poem, though written in the fashionable couplet of Pope, and even containing a few verses contributed by Dr. Johnson so that it was not at all in line with the work of the romanticists did, perhaps, as much as any thing of Gray or of Collins to recall English poetry to the simplicity and freshness of country life.
This then is just one of the many things that the German romanticists started; it is just one of their many contributions to the literature that lasts. And for the perpetuation of this one, students of German literature have, it seems, given the obscure Graf von Loeben entirely too much credit. But who will give the oft-scolded Clemens Brentano too little credit?
Most of the men seemed to be glad of this. They preferred taking their chances in an open trench during heavy shell fire. Realists and Romanticists lived side by side in the traveling trench. "My Little Gray Home in the West" was the modest legend over one apartment. The "Ritz Carlton" was next door to "The Rats' Retreat," with "Vermin Villa" next door but one.
Certain of them called themselves realists, certain romanticists; but none of them seemed to know what realism was, or what romanticism; they apparently supposed the difference a difference of material. March had imagined himself taking home to lunch or dinner the aspirants for editorial favor whom he liked, whether he liked their work or not; but this was not an easy matter.
We should be saying peremptorily, "In my opinion this is mental," and there would be no more ground for discussion than, if the assertion were "I prefer the Romanticists to the Classicists," or "I consider prose superior to poetry."