- A Forgotten Utopia. An unsigned review of Christianopolis: An Ideal State of the Seventeenth Century. Trans. from the Latin of Johann Valentin Andreae by Felix Emil Held
- The Johns Hopkins University Press and Faber & Faber Ltd
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578 ] A Forgotten Utopia An unsigned review of Christianopolis: An Ideal State of the Seventeenth Century. Trans. from the Latin of Johann Valentin Andreae by Felix Emil Held New York: Oxford UP, 1916. Pp. x + 287.1 The New Statesman, 9 (1 Sept 1917) 523-24 Towards the end of the sixteenth century there was born in Germany one Johann Valentin Andreae. At the age of fifteen he was admitted to the University of Tübingen where, says his editor, he “perfected himself ” in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, Spanish, Italian, and English . He also read widely in contemporary history and literature; not the least of his interests was the study of mathematics. It is not surprising that a youth of such attainments should have won successively the positions of Diakonus in Vaihingen, Dekan and Spezialsuperintendent in Calw, Hofprediger and Consistorial-Rat in Stuttgart.2 In the midst of the duties incumbent upon so important an official, Andreae yet found time for certain Schriften, mostly in Latin, one of which is here translated and edited. We deplore the absence, in Professor Held’s scholarly introduction, of more personal detail; the lives of seventeenth-century men of learning sometimes reveal very entertaining unconventionalities, but perhaps in Andreae’s case such detail is missing. Dr. Held is chiefly concerned with the mutual influence of Andreae’s and other Utopias; he is naturally concerned to show that his author experienced the minimum and exerted the maximum. He makes out, indeed, a very good case; and we are quite ready to believe that he confutes all preceding commentators, W. Hossbach, von Mohl, Guhrauer, Sigwart, Hüllemann, Glöckler, Gussmann, Voigt, Prÿs, Brügel and C. Vogt.3 In the course of tracing the labyrinths of possible acquaintanceships which may have connected Andreae with Bacon, More, and Gott (the author of Nova Solyma), Dr. Held turns the bones of many humanists.4 Their very names are delightful! How might Bacon have known of Andreae? First, Bacon corresponded with Sir Henry Wotton. Sir Henry was much abroad, and knew German so well as to be always mistaken for a [ 579 A Forgotten Utopia German in Vienna.5 Second, Andreae visited Geneva, and Isaac Casaubon lived in Geneva; Casaubon knew the Wottons and corresponded with Bacon. Third, Andreae entered Tübingen in the same year as Georg Weckherlin, who became Milton’s secretary; and Weckherlin dedicated a poem to “Heinrich Wotton, engelländiscen rittern,” the Wotton who knew Casaubon and corresponded with Bacon. And Weckherlin was a friend of Benjamin von Buwinckhausen, Stadthalter of Alençon; Andreae conducted von Buwinckhausen’s funeral services.6 Lastly, there is Sir Toby Matthew, who, having espoused the Catholic faith, lived mostly out of England, travelled in Germany as well as France and Italy, and wrote constantly to Bacon, keeping him informed of literary and scientific affairs.7 All this is a little confusing, but introduces us to several worthies whom we should be glad to look up at the British Museum, and Dr. Held convinces us that “it would seem almost impossible that Bacon should not have heard of [Andreae’s works] through one or the other of their mutual acquaintances” ,8 though it is not proved that any one of these men actually did know Andreae. There is certainly a strong generic resemblance between all the ideal states of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and it seems quite likely that Christianopolis is a link and not merely an offshoot; also it is possible that the principles of a general reformation in education and the plan of a “college” as outlined in the Christianopolis and other works of Andreae, were an important factor through J. A. Comenius, Samuel Hartlib, John Dury, and their associates, in the founding of the Royal Society of London. 9 As for the merits of the work itself, it must be confessed that this is less entertaining than Professor Held’s learned introduction. The beginning is similar to that of The New Atlantis. The author takes ship on the vessel “Phantasy” and is wrecked on the island Caphar Salama. He is the sole survivor. While he is drying his undershirt, he is accosted by a watchman, who volunteers kindly to lead him to the happy city, at the sight of which in the distance the traveller is wonderstruck, and exclaims: I shall evade neither the bath, the razor, nor the brush, that, being washed, scraped, and cleansed, I may be admitted to the...