The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 09 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 505 pages of information about The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 09.
them with my toes.  I wished to throw myself off; that, however, required resolution, and before I succeeded, I went up in the air again, and there was nothing for me to do but seize the rope once more so as not to fall and be dashed to pieces.  The week in which this dream occurred was perhaps the most terrible one of all my childhood, for the memory of it did not leave me the whole day.  When, in spite of my struggles, I was put to bed I carried the fear of its return with me, even immediately into my sleep so that it was no wonder the dream continually recurred, until by degrees it faded out.

VIII

I remained in Susanna’s school until my sixth year and learned there to read fluently.  I was not permitted to learn to write yet on account of my youth, as it was said; it was the last thing that Susanna had to teach and therefore she prudently held it in reserve.  But I had already started with the first necessary exercises in memory; for as soon as the youngster had been promoted from the sexless frock to trousers, and from the primer to the catechism, he had to learn by heart the ten commandments and the chief articles of the Christian Faith as Doctor Martin Luther, the great reformer, formulated them three hundred years ago for the guidance of the Protestant Church.  Memorizing went no farther and the tremendous dogmas, which without explanation or elucidation passed from the book into the undeveloped childish brain, became transformed into wonderful and in part grotesque pictures.  These, however, did the young mind no manner of harm, but gave it a healthy impetus and stirred it up to prophetic activity.  For what does it matter if the child, when it hears of original sin, or of death and the devil, forms a conception or a fantastic image of those profound symbols?  To fathom them is the task of our whole lifetime, but the developing man is warned at the very beginning of an all-disposing higher power, and I doubt if the same end could be reached by early initiation into the mysteries of the rule of three or into the wisdom of AEsop’s fables.  The remarkable part of it was, to be sure, that in my imagination Luther came to stand almost directly beside Moses and Jesus Christ, but without doubt the reason was that his thundering “What is that?” always resounded immediately after the majestic laconic utterances of Jehovah, and that moreover his rough, expressive face, out of which the spirit speaks all the more forcibly because it must manifestly first gain the victory over the thick resisting flesh, was reproduced in the front of the catechism in heavy black ink.  But so far as I know that had no more injurious consequences for me than my belief in the real horns and claws of the devil, or in the scythe of death, and I learned, as soon as there was any necessity for it, to distinguish perfectly between the Saviour and the reformer.

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The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 09 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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