1902 Encyclopedia > Reinhold Pauli

Reinhold Pauli
German historian

REINHOLD PAULI, (1823-1882), historian, was born at Berlin on 25th May 1823. From his mother, who was of Huguenot descent, he derived a vivacious temperament; from his father, a minister of the Reformed Church, sprung of a family of clergymen and theological professors, he inherited strong religious convictions. He spent his boy-hood in Bremen, from whose republican citizens he early imbibed a hearty admiration of liberal self-government, moral discipline, and extensive sea-trade. With the ex-ception of two semesters when he heard Dahlmann at Bonn, he studied at the university of Berlin (1842-46), where he acquired a lifelong predilection for the Hohenzollerns and for the civil service and army of Prussia. Ranke was young Pauli's model historian, but he had far too much individu-ality to bind himself slavishly to any school. After having taken his degree and passed the public schoolmaster's ex-I amination, he became in 1847 private tutor of Mr Bannatyne, a solicitor in Glasgow, and stayed seven years in Great Britain. During 1849-52 he served as private secretary to the Prussian ambassador Bunsen in London, and made the acquaintance of many eminent politicians of the day and of distinguished antiquaries, such as Kemble, Thorpe, and Hardy. Never a mere book-scholar, he saw various parts of England with an observant eye, and followed public questions with warm interest. He now conceived the plan of investigating the history of England in its original sources. In this way he was the first faith-fully to copy some of the Anglo-Saxon annals ; but, as soon as he learned that Thorpe was going to edit them for the Master of the Bolls, he liberally committed his transcripts to him. The roots of Great and Greater Britain appeared to him to lie in Anglo-Saxon, not in Celtic, institutions, and therefore his first book was König Aelfred (Berlin, 1851). Though critically destroying many long-cherished legends, he described his hero's character and times in warm colours. The book was twice translated into English, and Lappenberg, the best judge then living, declared its author worthy to continue his own Geschichte von England. Not without material privations Pauli continued his stay in England, and between 1853 and 1858 published three large volumes, comprising the period from Henry II. to Henry VII. In 1855 he became privat-docent at Bonn, and he obtained a professorship at Rostock in 1857. Thence he removed in 1859 to Tubingen, where, however, in 1866 he offended the Wiirtemberg Government by vehemently de-nouncing its Austrian policy in an essay which appeared during the Prussian war in the Preussische Jahrbiicher. Exiled to a remote country seminary, he preferred to resign. He now returned to his native country and obtained in 1867 a post in the university of Marburg, which he once represented in the Prussian Upper House. In 1870 he found an honourable position at Gottingen, where the former dynastic union of Hanover with Great Britain had left a splendid English library, and where Waitz had brought together a flourishing historical school.

Pauli's later life was chiefly devoted to modern history, and the Geschichte Engla,nds 1814-52, in 3 vols. (Leipsic, 1864-75) made his name widely known. He fulfilled his duties as a teacher and examiner and as a fellow of different learned societies with punctual accuracy; hebecamemember of the academies of Gottingen, Munich, and Berlin, and honorary doctor of Oxford and Cambridge. He helped friends and pupils with untiring kindness; in his happy and social home he was often visited by distinguished English scholars. And he was for a whole generation a living link between the historical literature of England and Germany, "those two columns of the Teutonic world, which, for the benefit of human progress he firmly believed in, he fondly hoped would never be torn asunder." When suddenly called away by a stroke of apoplexy on 3d June 1882, he was deeply lamented on both sides of the Channel.
Pauli's History of England was remarkable for its research. Never before had the records, then piled up in the Tower without calendars or indexes, been used in so full a way; never before had the chronicles and memoirs been so thoroughly criticized. The short review of these original sources, given in the appendices, formed a guide to the mediaeval historiography of England, and was later on, when better editions appeared, supplemented by Pauli's critiques contributed to German periodicals. The main narrative follows the king, but at the end of each reign the literary, religious, social, economical, and especially the commercial features of the period are cleverly grouped together. Though Pauli was no regular jurist, even the development of the constitutional side of his subject was then superior to the general standard. Indeed these parts, and these only, Pauli lived to see without jealousy superseded by Gneist and Stubbs, while in every other respect his work, then an immense advance upon Lingard, still remains the most solid of its kind. It has never been translated, perhaps on account of its almost annal-istic form, and its contempt for the popular attractions of moralizing remarks, philosophical speculation, or picturesque style. To gain new facts, to show the way for further investigation, seemed to Pauli a worthier task than to amuse the public with a brilliant story. The history is remarkable for the completeness with which the author has used all reports, letters, and memoirs he could lay his hands upon. He was also allowed to inspect private papers of Cobden and of the Prussian ambassadors Bülow and Bunsen ; and he knew something by personal recollection. Still he openly con-fessed that this contemporary history could be only preliminary, on account of the wide gaps in our knowdedge of the secret policy, and because "he felt, in dealing with the flowing formless mass of living characters, as if he were touching hot lava that could not yet be shaped into constructive material." Nevertheless the carefully-weighed judgment and the profound understanding of the manifold and tangled tendencies of modern strife are simply astonishing, if we consider that the author was a foreigner. Abroad no guide through the English history of the 19th century can rival this work, while the English reader will find at least the chapters on foreign policy to contain much that is new, and will be sure to admire the impartial views of a distant but lofty and noble observer. Pauli had learned to love the organic growth of the English consti-tution, and could not look without misgivings on the radical de-struction of its aristocratic basis.

Besides a great many essays on the Middle Ages, of which only the popular ones have been collected in Bilder aus AIt-England (Gotha, 1860; 2d ed. 1876, translated 1861), and in Aufsätze zur Englischen Geschichte (Leipsic, 1869 ; Neue Folge, edited by Hartwig, Leipsic, 1883), Pauli published two monographs : " Grosseteste und Marsh," in the Tübingen Program for 1864, and Simon von Montfort (Tübingen, 1867). From a literary point of view these biographies are the best things Pauli wrote, and in them he was successful in creating figures of impressive character; but his general histories also usually centre round a hero, e.g., Canning and Peel in his history of England in our own times. Well versed in palaeography, Pauli discovered several important memorials, and never despised the humbler task of an editor ; he edited Gower's Confessio Amantis (1857), The Libell of Englishe Policye of 1436 (1878), and three tracts on political economy of the time of Henry VIII., Transactions of the Gottingen Society, 1878. For the Monumenta Germaniae Historica he furnished a quantity of MS. collations, and extracted conjointly with Liebermann pieces of interest for Germany out of English historians before 1300 A.D., which appeared in part in vol. xiii. (1881), and in part will fill vol. xxvii. For the Berlin Academy he selected and copied a mass of records relating to Germany, mainly of the 14th century, which did excellent service for the Hanseatic publications. For the Camden Society he had prepared the account book of the Prussian crusade of Henry Earl of Derby in 1392, which, it is hoped, will be edited by an eminent English historian. He contributed numberless reviews and detailed, often exhaustive, essays on minor subjects of English history to Sybel's Historische Zeitschrift, Preussische Jahrbücher, Grenzboten, Rundschau, Im Neuen Reich, Forschungen zur Detttsclicn Geschichte, Archiv für ältere deutsche Geschichtskunde, Ilansisclie Geschichtsblätter, Zeit-schrift für Kirchenrecht, Deutsche Litteraturzeitung, Göttingische Nachrichten, Göttingische Anzeigen. These articles possess in some respects a very high value as material for future scholars. Pauli's last studies on Henry VIII. and the Hanoverian succession, based on the discovery of the papers of Robethon, the elector's agent, are printed in the Aufsätze, Neue Folge.

Hartwig prefixed a sketch of Pauli's life to the Aufsätze, Neue Folge, and
Frensdortf delivered a lecture upon him, printed in the Transactions of the
Göttingen Society (1882). (F. L.)

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