A second passage is quoted from the great work of Wilhelm Scherer, “Geschichte der Deutschen Litteratur” (Pages 20-21): “Recklessness seems to be the curse of our spiritual development ... obstinacy in good and in evil. Beauty we have not often served, nor long at a time.” These are, of course, not the judgments of the present writer.
Conviction does not flow from the argument concerning England’s brutal egoism and reckless immorality under the cloak of sanctimoniousness; nor is there strength in the appeal for Teuton culture. All has the tone of special pleading and makes doubly significant a sentence from Nietzsche when he pleads for an overcoming of our ideals of veracity: “’I have done this thing,’ says my memory, ‘I could not have done this thing,’ says my pride and remains inexorable. Finally memory yields.” ("Beyond Good and Evil,” Page 94.)
Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Sept. 23, 1914.
[Illustration: BRANDER MATTHEWS
(Photo by Brown Bros.)
See Page 541]
[Illustration: NEWELL DWIGHT HILL
See Page 573]
Concerning German Culture
By Brander Matthews.
Professor of Dramatic
Literature at Columbia University;
author of many works on literature and the development of the
To the Editor of The New York Times:
In the earnest and sincere appeals of various distinguished Germans, Prof. Eucken, Prof. Haeckel, and the several authors of “The Truth About Germany,” we find frequent references to “German culture” as though it was of a superior quality to the culture of every other nationality; and we seem to perceive also a sustaining belief that Germany is not only the defender of civilization, but its foremost exponent. We have no right to question the good faith of scholars of the high character of Eucken and Haeckel; and we cannot doubt their being honestly possessed of the conviction that Germany is the supreme example of a highly civilized State and the undisputed leader in the arts and sciences which represent culture. It is plain that these German writers take this for granted and that they would be indignantly surprised if it should be questioned.
To an American who feels himself a sharer of the noble heritage of English literature, and who has sat for more than forty years at the feet of the masters of French literature, this claim cannot but come as a startling surprise.