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.
love of equality, simplicity, and honesty.  Nothing is more interesting than when mention is made, in the Chamber, of the first days of the Revolution, and some one in doctrinaire fashion tears some historical fact from its true connection and turns it to his own account in speech.  Then Lafayette destroys with a few words the erroneous deduction by illustrating or correcting the true sense of such an event by citing the circumstances relating to it.  Even Thiers must in such a case strike sail, and the great historiographer of the Revolution bows before the outburst of its great and living monument, General Lafayette.

There sits in the Chamber, just before the tribune a very old man, with long silvery hair falling over his black clothing.  His body is girted with a very broad tricolored scarf; he is the old messenger who has always filled that office in the Chamber since the beginning of the Revolution, and who in this post has witnessed the momentous events of the world’s history from the days of the first National Assembly till the juste milieu.  I am told that he often speaks of Robespierre, whom he calls le bon Monsieur Robespierre.  During the Restoration the old man suffered from colic, but since he has wound the tricolored scarf round his waist he finds himself well again.  His only trouble now, in the dull and lazy times of the juste milieu, is drowsiness.  I once even saw him fall asleep while Mauguin was speaking.  Indeed, the man has, doubtless, in his time heard better than Mauguin, who is, however, one of the best orators of the Opposition, though he is not found to be very startling or effective by one qui a beaucoup connu ce bon Monsieur de Robespierre.  But when Lafayette speaks, then the old messenger awakes from his twilight drowsiness, he seems to be aroused like an old war-horse of hussars when he hears the sound of a trumpet—­there rise within him sweet memories of youth, and he nods delightedly with his silver-white head.

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 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL[58] (1833-35)



But what was the Romantic School in Germany?  It was nothing else but the reawakening of the poetry of the Middle Ages, as it had shown itself in its songs, images, and architecture, in art and in life.  But this poetry had risen from Christianity; it was a passion-flower which had sprung from the blood of Christ.  I do not know whether the melancholy passion-flower of Germany is known by that name in France, or whether popular legend attributes to it the same mystical origin.  It is a strange, unpleasantly colored blossom, in whose calyx we see set forth the implements which were used in the crucifixion of Christ, such as the hammer, pincers, and nails—­a flower which is not so much ugly as ghostly, and even whose sight awakens in our soul a shuddering pleasure, like the convulsively agreeable sensations which come from pain itself.  From this view the flower was indeed the fittest symbol for Christianity itself, whose most thrilling chain was the luxury of pain.

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