The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 05 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 489 pages of information about The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 05.
equality, internal peace, external national fame, and, when their demands reached the extreme limit, domestic happiness?  If this is their highest conception, as must be deduced from all that has been said, they can attribute to us likewise no higher needs and no higher demands upon life, and—­always presupposing those beneficent sentiments toward us and an absence of all selfishness and of all desire to be more than we—­they believe that they have made admirable provision for us when they give us all that they alone recognize as desirable.  On the other hand, that for which alone the nobler soul among us can live is then eradicated from public life, and the people, who have always shown themselves receptive toward the impulses of higher things, and the majority of whom, it might be hoped, could even be raised to that nobility, are—­in so far as it is treated as they wish it to be treated—­abased beneath its rank, dishonored, and blotted out, since it coalesces with the populace of the baser sort.

If, now, those higher claims upon life, together with the sense of their divine right, still remain living and potent in any one, he, with deep indignation, feels himself crushed back into those first ages of Christianity in which it was said:  “Resist not evil:  but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.  And if any man will take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.”  And rightly so, for as long as he still sees a cloak upon thee, he seeks an opportunity to quarrel with thee in order to take this also from thee; not until thou art utterly naked dost thou escape his attention and art unmolested by him.  Even his higher feelings, which do him honor, make earth a hell and an abomination to him; he wishes that he had not been born; he wishes that his eyes may close to the light of day, the sooner the better; unceasing sorrow lays hold upon his days until the grave claims him; he can wish for those dear to him no better gift than a quiet and contented spirit, that with less pain they may live on in expectation of an eternal life beyond the grave.

These addresses lay upon you the task of preventing, by the sole means which still remains after the others have been tried in vain, the destruction of every nobler impulse that may in the future possibly arise among us and this debasement of our entire nation.  They present to you a true and omnipotent patriotism, which, in the conception of our nation as of one that is eternal, and as citizens of our own eternity, is to be deeply and ineradicably founded in the minds of all, by means of education.  What this education may be, and in what way it may be achieved, we shall see in the following addresses.

[Illustration:  VOLUNTEERS OF 1813 BEFORE KING FRIEDRICH WILHELM III IN BRESLAU From the Painting by F.W.  Scholtz]

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The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 05 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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