The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 06 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 679 pages of information about The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 06.
shocked at the world of wretchedness visible within.  The common beggars are old people, generally blacks, who stand at the corners of the streets cleaning pathways—­a very necessary thing in muddy London—­and ask for “coppers” in reward.  It is in the dusky twilight that Poverty and her mates, Vice and Crime, glide forth from their lairs.  They shun daylight the more anxiously since their wretchedness there contrasts more cruelly with the pride of wealth which glitters everywhere; only Hunger sometimes drives them at noonday from their dens, and then they stand with silent, speaking eyes, staring beseechingly at the rich merchant who hurries along, busy, and jingling gold, or at the lazy lord who, like a surfeited god, rides by on his high horse, casting now and then an aristocratically indifferent glance at the mob below, as though they were swarming ants, or rather a mass of baser beings, whose joys and sorrows have nothing in common with his feelings.  Yes—­for over the vulgar multitude which sticks fast to the soil there soars, like beings of a higher nature, England’s nobility, to whom their little island is only a temporary resting-place, Italy their summer garden, Paris their social salon, and the whole world their inheritance.  They sweep along, knowing nothing of sorrow or suffering, and their gold is a talisman which conjures into fulfilment their wildest wish.

Poor Poverty! how agonizing must thy hunger be, where others swell in scornful superfluity!  And when some one casts with indifferent hand a crust into thy lap, how bitter must the tears be wherewith thou moistenest it!  Thou poisonest thyself with thine own tears.  Well art thou in the right when thou alliest thyself to Vice and Crime!  Outlawed criminals often bear more humanity in their hearts than those cool, reproachless town burghers of virtue, in whose white hearts the power of evil, it is true, is quenched—­but with it, too, the power of good.  And even vice is not always vice.  I have seen women on whose cheeks red vice was painted, and in whose hearts dwelt heavenly purity.  I have seen women—­I would that I saw them again!—­


The man has the bad fortune to meet with good fortune everywhere, and wherever the greatest men in the world were unfortunate; and that excites us, and makes him hateful.  We see in him only the victory of stupidity over genius—­Arthur Wellington triumphant where Napoleon Bonaparte is overwhelmed!  Never was a man more ironically gifted by Fortune, and it seems as though she would exhibit his empty littleness by raising him high on the shield of victory.  Fortune is a woman, and perhaps in womanly wise she cherishes a secret grudge against the man who overthrew her former darling, though the very overthrow came from her own will.  Now she lets him conquer again on the Catholic Emancipation question—­yes, in the very fight in which George Canning was destroyed. 

Project Gutenberg
The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 06 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook