Ladies and Gentlemen,—Now that you have followed my tale up to this point, and that we have made ourselves joint masters of the solitary, remote, and at times abusive duologue of the philosopher and his companion, I sincerely hope that you, like strong swimmers, are ready to proceed on the second half of our journey, especially as I can promise you that a few other marionettes will appear in the puppet-play of my adventure, and that if up to the present you have only been able to do little more than endure what I have been telling you, the waves of my story will now bear you more quickly and easily towards the end. In other words we have not come to a turning and it would be advisable for us to take a short glance backwards to see what we think we have gained from such a varied conversation.
"Remain in your present position," the philosopher seemed to say to his companion, "for you may cherish hopes. It is more and more clearly evident that we have no educational institutions at all; but that we ought to have them. Our public schools-established, it would seem, for this high object—have either become the nurseries of a reprehensible culture which repels the true culture with profound hatred—i.e. a true, aristocratic culture, founded upon a few carefully chosen minds; or they foster a micrological and sterile learning which, while it is far removed from culture, has at least this merit, that it avoids that reprehensible culture as well as the true culture." The philosopher had particularly drawn his companion's attention to the strange corruption which must have entered into the heart of culture when the State thought itself capable of tyrannizing over it and of attaining its ends through it, and further when the State, in conjunction with this culture, struggled against other hostile forces as well as against the spirit which the philosopher ventured to call the "true German spirit". This spirit, linked to the Greeks by the noblest ties, and shown by its past history to have been steadfast and courageous, pure and lofty in its aims, its faculties qualifying it for the high task of freeing modern man from the curse of modernity—this spirit is condemned to live apart, banished from its inheritance. But when its slow, painful tones of woe resound through the desert of the present, then the overladen and gaily-decked caravan of culture is pulled up short, horror-stricken. We must not only astonish, but terrify—such was the philosopher's opinion: not to fly shamefully away, but to take the offensive, was his advice; but he especially counseled his companion not to ponder too anxiously over the individual from whom, through a higher instinct, this aversion for the present barbarism proceeded. "Let it perish: the Pythian god had no difficulty in finding a new tripod, a second Pythia, so long, at least, as the mystic cold vapors rose from the earth."
The philosopher once more began to speak: "Be careful to remember, my friend," said he, "there are two things you must not confuse. A man must learn a great deal that he may live and take part in the struggle for existence; but everything that he as an individual learns and does with this end in view has nothing whatever to do with culture. This latter only takes its beginning in a sphere that lies far above the world of necessity, indigence, and struggle for existence. The question now is to what extent a man values his ego in comparison with other egos, how much of his strength he uses up in the endeavor to earn his living. Many a one, by stoically confining his needs within a narrow compass, will shortly and easily reach the sphere in which he may forget, and, as it were, shake off his ego, so that he can enjoy perpetual youth in a solar system of timeless and impersonal things. Another widens the scope and needs of his ego as much as possible, and builds the mausoleum of this ego in vast proportions, as if he were prepared to fight and conquer that terrible adversary, Time. In this instinct also we may see a longing for immortality: wealth and power, wisdom, presence of mind, eloquence, a flourishing outward aspect, a renowned name—all these are merely turned into the means by which an insatiable, personal will to live craves for new life, with which, again, it hankers after an eternity that is at last seen to be illusory.
"But even in this highest form of the ego, in the enhanced needs of such a distended and, as it were, collective individual, true culture is never touched upon; and if, for example, art is sought after, only its disseminating and stimulating actions come into prominence, i.e. those which least give rise to pure and noble art, and most of all to low and degraded forms of it. For in all his efforts, however great and exceptional they seem to the onlooker, he never succeeds in freeing himself from his own hankering and restless personality: that illuminated, ethereal sphere where one may contemplate without the obstruction of one's own personality continually recedes from him—and thus, let him learn, travel, and collect as he may, he must always live an exiled life at a remote distance from a higher life and from true culture. For true culture would scorn to contaminate itself with the needy and covetous individual; it well knows how to give the slip to the man who would fain employ it as a means of attaining to egoistic ends; and if anyone cherishes the belief that he has firmly secured it as a means of livelihood, and that he can procure the necessities of life by its sedulous cultivation, then it suddenly steals away with noiseless steps and an air of derisive mockery.
"I will thus ask you, my friend, not to confound this culture, this sensitive, fastidious, ethereal goddess, with that useful maid-of-all-work which is also called 'culture', but which is only the intellectual servant and counselor of one's practical necessities, wants, and means of livelihood. Every kind of training, however, which holds out the prospect of bread-winning as its end aim, is not a training for culture as we understand the word; but merely a collection of precepts and directions to show ho, in the struggle for existence, a man may preserve and protect his own person. It may be freely admitted that for the great majority of men such a course of instruction is of the highest importance; and the more arduous the struggle is the more intensely must the young man strain every nerve to utilize his strength to the best advantage.
"But—let no one think for a moment that the schools which urge him on to this struggle and prepare him for it are in any way seriously to be considered as establishments of culture. They are institutions which teach one how to take part in the battle of life; whether they promise to turn out civil servants, or merchants, or officers, or wholesale dealers, or farmers, or physicians, or men with a technical training. The regulations and standards prevailing at such institutions differ from those in a true educational institution; and what in the latter is permitted, and even freely held out as often as possible, ought to be considered as a criminal offense in the former.
"Let me give you an example. If you wish to guide a young man on the path of true culture, beware of interrupting his naive, confident, and, as it were, immediate and personal relationship with nature. The woods, the rocks, the winds, the vulture, the flowers, the butterfly, the meads, the mountain slopes, must all speak to him in their own language; in them he must, as it were, come to know himself again in countless reflections and images, in a variegated round of changing visions; and in this way he will unconsciously and gradually feel the metaphysical unity of all things in the great image of nature, and at the same time tranquilize his soul in the contemplation of her eternal endurance and necessity. But how many young men should be permitted to grow up in such close and almost personal proximity to nature! The others must learn another truth betimes: how to subdue nature to themselves. Here is an end of this naive metaphysics; and the physiology of plants and animals, geology, inorganic chemistry, force their devotees to view nature from an altogether different standpoint. What is lost by this new point of view is not only a poetical phantasmagoria, but the instinctive, true, and unique point of view, instead of which we have shrewd and clever calculations, and, so to speak, overreachings of nature. Thus to the truly cultured man is vouchsafed the inestimable benefit of being able to remain faithful, without a break, to the contemplative instincts of his childhood, and so to attain to a calmness, unity, consistency, and harmony which can never be even thought of by a man who is compelled to fight in the struggle for existence.
"You must not think, however, that I wish to withhold all praise from our primary and secondary schools: I honor the seminaries where boys learn arithmetic and master modern languages, and study geography and the marvelous discoveries made in natural science. I am quite prepared to say further that those youths who pass through the better class of secondary schools are well entitled to make the claims put forward by the full-fledged public school boy; and the time is certainly not far distant when such pupils will be everywhere freely admitted to the universities and positions under the government, which has hitherto been the case only with scholars from the public schools—of our present public schools, be it noted! I cannot, however, refrain from adding the melancholy reflection: if it be true that secondary and public schools are, on the whole, working so heartily in common towards the same ends, and differ from each other only in such a slight degree, that they may take equal rank before the tribunal of the State, then we completely lack another kind of educational institutions: those for the development of culture! To say the least, the secondary schools cannot be reproached with this; for they have up to the present propitiously and honorably followed up tendencies of a lower order, but one nevertheless highly necessary. In the public schools, however, there is very much less honesty and very much less ability too; for in them we find an instinctive feeling of same, the unconscious perception of the fact that the whole institution has been ignominiously degraded, and that the sonorous words of wise and apathetic teachers are contradictory to the dreary, barbaric, and sterile reality. So there are no true cultural institutions! And in those very places where a pretense to culture is still kept up, we find the people more hopeless, atrophied, and discontented than in the secondary schools, where the so-called 'realistic' subjects are taught! Besides this, only think how immature and uninformed one must be in the company of such teachers when one actually misunderstands the rigorously defined philosophical expressions 'real' and 'realism' to such a degree as to think them the contraries of mind and matter, and to interpret 'realism' as 'the road to knowledge, formation and mastery of reality.'
"I for my own part know of only two exact contraries: institutions for teaching culture and institutions for teaching how to succeed in life. All our present institutions belong to the second class; but I am speaking only of the first."
About two hours went by while the philosophically-minded couple chatted about such startling questions. Night slowly fell in the meantime; and when in the twilight the philosopher's voice had sounded like natural music through the woods, it now rang out in the profound darkness of the night when he was speaking with excitement or even passionately; his tones hissing and thundering far down the valley, and reverberating among the trees and rocks. Suddenly he was silent: he had just repeated, almost pathetically, the words, "we have no true educational institutions; we have no true educational institutions" when something fell down just in front of him—it might have been a fir-cone—and his dog barked and ran towards it. Thus interrupted, the philosopher raised his head, and suddenly became aware of the darkness, the cool air, and the lonely situation of himself and his companion. "Well!" What are we about!" he ejaculated, "it's dark. You know whom we were expecting here; but he hasn't come. We have waited in vain; let us go."
I must now, ladies and gentlemen, convey to you the impressions experienced by my friend and myself as we eagerly listed to this conversation, which we heard distinctly in our hiding-place. I have already told you that at that place and at that hour we had intended to hold a festival in commemoration of something: and this something had to do with nothing else than matters concerning educational training, of which we, in our own youthful opinions, had garnered a plentiful harvest during our past life. We were thus disposed to remember with gratitude the institution which we had at one time thought out for ourselves at that very spot in order, as I have already mentioned, that we might reciprocally encourage and watch over one another's educational impulses. But a sudden and unexpected light was thrown on all that past life as we silently gave ourselves up to the vehement words of the philosopher. As when a traveler, walking heedlessly across unknown ground, suddenly puts his foot over the edge of a cliff so it now seemed to us that we had hastened to meet the great danger rather than run away from it. Here at this spot, so memorable to us, we heard the warning: "Back! Not another step! Know you not whither your footsteps tend, whither this deceitful path is luring you?"
It seemed to us that we now know, and our feeling of overflowing thankfulness impelled us so irresistibly towards our earnest counselor and trust Eckart, that both of us sprang up at the same moment and rushed towards the philosopher to embrace him. He was just about to move off, and had already turned sideways when we rushed up to him. The dog turned sharply round and barked, thinking doubtless, like the philosopher's companion, of an attempt at robbery rather than an enraptured embrace. It was plain that he had forgotten us. In a work, he ran away. Our embrace was a miserable failure when we did overtake him; for my friend gave a loud yell as the dog bit him, and the philosopher himself sprang away from me with such force that we both fell. What with the dog and the men there was a scramble that lasted a few minutes, until my friend began to call out loudly, parodying the philosopher's own words: "In the name of all culture and pseudo-culture, what does the silly dog want with us? Hence, you confounded dog; you uninitiated, never to be initiated; hasten away from us, silent and ashamed" After this outburst matters were cleared up to some extent, at any rate so far as they could be cleared up in the darkness of the wood. "Oh, it's you!" ejaculated the philosopher, "our duelists! How you startled us! What on earth drives you to jump out upon us like this at such a time of the night?"
"Joy, thankfulness, and reverence," said we, shaking the old man by the hand, whilst the dog barked as if he understood, "we can't let you go without telling you this. And if you're to understand everything you must not go away just yet; we want to ask you about so many things that lie heavily on our hearts. Stay yet awhile; we know every foot of the way and can accompany you afterwards. The gentleman you expect may yet turn up. Look over yonder on the Rhine: what is that we see so clearly floating on the surface of the water as if surrounded by the light of many torches? It is there that we may look for your friend, I would even venture to say that it is he who is coming towards you with all those lights."
And so much did we assail the surprised old man with our entreaties, promises, and fantastic delusions, that we persuaded the philosopher to walk to and fro with us on the little plateau "by learned lumber undisturbed," [Faust, I, 395] as my friend added.
"Shame on you!" said the philosopher, "if you really want to quote something, why choose Faust? However, I will give into you, quotation or no quotation, if only our young companions will keep still and not run away as suddenly as they made their appearance, for they are like will-o'-the-wisps; we are amazed when they are there and again when they are not there."
My friend immediately recited—
The philosopher was surprised, and stood still. "You astonish me, you will-o'-the wisps," he said; "this is no quagmire we are on now. of what use is this ground to? For around him the air is sharp and clear, the ground dry and hard. You must find our a more fantastic region for your zigzagging inclinations."
"I think," interrupted the philosopher's companion at this point, "the gentlemen have already told us that they promised to meet some one here at this hour; but it seems to me that they listened to our comedy of education like a chorus, and truly 'idealistic spectators'—for they did not disturb us; we thought we were alone with each other."
"Yes, that is true," said the philosopher, "that praise must not be withheld from them, but it seems to me that they deserve still higher praise—"
Here I seized the philosopher's hand and said: "That man must be as obtuse as a reptile, with his stomach on the ground and his head buried in mud, who can listen to such a discourse as yours without becoming earnest and thoughtful, or even excited and indignant. Self-accusation and annoyance might perhaps cause a few to get angry; but our impression was quire different: the only thing I do not know is how exactly to describe it. This hour was so well-timed for us, and our minds were so well prepared, that we sat there like empty vessels, and now it seems as if we were filled to overflowing with this new wisdom: for I no longer know how to help myself, and if some one asked me what I am thinking of doing to-morrow, or what I have made up my mind to do with myself from now on, I should not know what to answer. For it is easy to see that we have up to the present been living and educating ourselves in the wrong way—but what can we do to cross over the chasm between today and to-morrow?"
"Yes", acknowledged my friend, "I have a similar feeling, and I ask the same question: but besides that I feel as if I were frightened away from German culture by entertaining such high and ideal views of its task; yea, as if I were unworthy to cooperate with it in carrying out its aims. I only see a resplendent file of the highest natures moving towards this goal; I can imagine over what abysses and through what temptations this procession travels. Who would dare to be so bold as to join in it?"
At this point the philosopher's companion again turned to him and said: "Don't be angry with me when I tell you that I too have a somewhat similar feeling, which I have not mentioned to you before. When taking to you I often felt drawn out of myself, as it were, and inspired with your ardor and hopes till I almost forgot myself. Then a calmer moment arrives; a piercing wind of reality brings me back to earth—and then I see the wide gulf between us, over which you yourself, as in a dream, draw me back again. Then what you call 'culture' merely totters meaninglessly around me or lies heavily on my breast: it is like a short of mail that weighs me down, or a sword that I cannot wield."
Our minds, as we thus argued with the philosopher, were unanimous, and, mutually encouraging and stimulating one another, we slowly walked with him backwards and forwards along the unencumbered space which had earlier in the day served us a shooting range. And then, in the still night, under the peaceful light of hundreds of stars, we all broke out into a tirade which ran somewhat as follows:—
"You have told us so much about the genius," we began, "about his lonely and wearisome journey through the world, as if nature never exhibited anything but the most diametrical contraries: in one place the stupid, bull masses, acting by instinct, and then, on a far higher and more remote place, the great contemplating few, destined for the production of immortal works. But now you call these the apexes of the intellectual pyramid: it would, however, seem that between the broad, heavily burdened foundation up to the highest of the free and unencumbered peaks there must be countless intermediate degrees, and that here we must apply the saying natura non facit saltus. When then are we to look for the beginning of what you call culture; where is the line of demarcation to be drawn between the spheres which are ruled from below upwards and those which are ruled from above downwards? And if it be only in connection with these exalted beings that true culture may be spoken of, how are institutions to be founded for the uncertain existence of such natures, how can we devise educational establishments which shall be of benefit only to these select few? It rather seems to use that such persons know how to find their own way, and that their full strength is shown in their being able to walk without the educational crutches necessary for other people, and thus undisturbed to make their way through the storm and stress of this rough world just like a phantom."
We kept on arguing in this fashion, speaking without any great ability and not putting our thoughts in any special form: but the philosopher's companion when even further, and said to him: "Just think of all these great geniuses of whom we are wont to be so proud, looking upon them as tried and true leaders and guides of this real German spirit, whose names we commemorate by statues and festivals, and whose works we hold up with feelings of pride for the admiration of foreign lands—how did they obtain the education you demand for them, to what degree do they show that they have been nourished and matured by basking in the sun of national education? And yet they are seen to be possible, they have nevertheless become men whom we must honor: yea, their works themselves justify the form the development of these noble spirits; they justify even a certain want of education for which we must make allowance owing to their country and the age in which they lived. How could Lessing and Winckelmann benefit by the German culture of their time? Even less than, or at all events just as little as Beethoven, Schiller, Goethe, or every one of our great poets and artists. It may perhaps be a law of nature that only the later generations are destined to know by what divine gifts an earlier generation was favored."
At this point the old philosopher could not control his anger, and shouted to his companion: "Oh, you innocent lamb of knowledge! You gentle sucking doves, all of you! And would you give the name of arguments to those distorted, clumsy, narrow-minded, ungainly, crippled things? Yes, I have just now been listening to the fruits of some of this present-day culture, and my ears are still ringing with the sound of historical 'self-understood' things, of over-wise and pitiless historical reasonings! Mark this, thou unprofaned Nature: thou hast grown old, and for thousands of years this starry sky has spanned the space above thee—but thou hast never yet heard such conceited and, at bottom, mischievous chatter as the talk of the present day! So you are proud of your poets and artists, my good Teutons? You point to them and brag about them to foreign countries, do you? And because it has given you no trouble to have them amongst you, you have formed the pleasant theory that you need not concern yourselves further with them? Isn't that so, my inexperienced children: they come of their own free will, the stork brings them to you! Who would dare to mention a midwife! You deserve an earnest teaching, eh? You should be proud of the fact that all the noble and brilliant men we have mentioned were prematurely suffocated, worn out, and crushed through you, through your barbarism? You think without shame of Lessing, who, on account of your stupidity, perished in battle against your ludicrous gods and idols, the evils of your theaters, your learned men, and your theologians, without once daring to lift himself to the height of that immortal flight for which he was brought into the world [allusion to Lessing's "Polemic Against C. A. Klötz and J. M. Goeze"]. An what are your impressions when you think of Winckelmann, who, that he might rid his eyes of your grotesque fatuousness, went to beg help from the Jesuits, and whose disgraceful religious conversion recoils upon you and will always remain an ineffaceable blemish upon you? You can even name Schiller without blushing! Just look at his picture! The fiery, sparkling eyes, looking at you with disdain, those flushed, death-like cheeks: can you learn nothing from all that? In him you had a beautiful and divine plaything, and through it was destroyed. And if it had been possible for you to take Goethe's friendship away from the melancholy, hasty life, hunted to premature death, then you would have crushed him even sooner that you did. You have not rendered assistance to a single one of our great geniuses—and now upon that fact you wish to build up the theory that none of them shall ever be helped in future? For each of them, however, up to this very moment, you have always been the 'resistance of the stupid world' that Goethe speaks of in his "Epilogue to the Bell"; towards each of them you acted the part of apathetic dullards or jealous narrow-hearts or malignant egotists. In spite of you they created their immortal works, against you they directed their attached, and thanks to you they died so prematurely, their tasks only half accomplished, blunted and dulled and shattered in the battle. Who can tell to what these heroic men were destined to attain if only that true German spirit had gathered them together within the protecting walls of a powerful institution?—that spirit which, without the help of some such institution, drags out an isolated, debased, and degraded existence. All those great me were utterly ruined; and it is only an insane belief in the Hegelian 'reasonableness of all happenings' which would absolve you of any responsibility in the matter. And not those men alone! Indictments are pouring forth against you from every intellectual province: whether I look at the talents of our poets, philosophers, painters, or sculptors—and not only in the case of gifts of the highest order—I everywhere see immaturity, overstrained nerves, or prematurely exhausted energies, abilities wasted and nipped in the bud; I everywhere feel that 'resistance of the stupid world,' in other words, your guiltiness. That is what I am talking about when I speak of lacking educational establishments, and why I think those which at present claim the name in such a pitiful condition. Whoever is pleased to call this an 'ideal desire', and refers to it as 'ideal' as if he were trying to get rid of it by praising me, deserves the answer that the present system is a scandal and a disgrace, and that the man who asks for warmth in the midst of ice and snow must indeed get angry if he hears this referred to as an 'ideal desire'. The matter we are now discussing is concerned with clear, urgent, and palpably evident realities: a man who knows anything of the question feels that there is a need which must be seen to, just like cold and hunger. But the man who is not affected at all by this matter most certainly has a standard by which to measure the extent of his own culture, and thus to know what I call 'culture', and where the line should be drawn between that which is ruled from below upwards and that which is ruled from above downwards."
The philosopher seemed to be speaking very heatedly. We begged him to walk round with us again, since he had uttered the latter part of his discourse standing near the tree-stump which had served us as a target. For a few minutes not a word more was spoken. Slowly and thoughtfully we walked to and fro. We did not so much feel ashamed of having brought forward such foolish arguments as we felt a kind of restitution of our personality. After the heated and, so far as we were concerned, very unflattering utterance of the philosopher, we seemed to feel ourselves nearer to him—that we even stood in a personal relationship to him. For so wretched is man that he never feels himself brought into such close contact with a stranger as when the latter shows some sign of weakness, some defect. That our philosopher had lost his temper and made use of abusive language helped to bridge over the gulf created between us by our timid respect for him: and for the sake of the reader who feels his indignation rising at this suggestion let it be added that this bridge often leads from distant hero-worship to personal love and pity. And, after the feeling that our personality had been restored to us, this pity gradually became stronger and stronger. Why were we making this old man walk up and down with us between the rocks and trees at that time of the night? And, since he had yielded to our entreaties, why could we not have thought of a more modest and unassuming manner of having ourselves instructed, whey should the three of us have contradicted him in such clumsy terms?
For now we saw how thoughtless, unprepared, and baseless were all the objections we had made, and how greatly the echo of the present was heard in them, the voice of which, in the province of culture, the old man would fain not have heard. Our objections, however, were not purely intellectual ones: our reasons for protesting against the philosopher's statements seemed to lie elsewhere. They arose perhaps from the instinctive anxiety to know whether, if the philosopher's views were carried into effect, our own personalities would find a place in the higher or lower division; and this made it necessary for us to find some arguments against the mode of thinking which robbed us of our self-styled claims to culture. People, however, should not argue with companions who feel the weight of an argument so personally; or, as the moral in our case would have been: such companions should not argue, should not contradict at all.
So we walked on beside the philosopher, ashamed, compassionate, dissatisfied with ourselves, and more than ever convinced that the old man was right and that we had done him wrong. How remote now seemed the youthful dream of our educational institution; how clearly we saw the danger which we had hitherto escaped merely by good luck, namely, giving ourselves up body and soul to the educational system which forced itself upon our notice so enticingly, for the time when we entered the public schools up to that moment. How then had it come about that we had not taken our places in the chorus of its admirers? Perhaps merely because we were real students, and could still draw back from the rough-and-tumble, the pushing and struggling, the restless, ever-breaking waves of publicity, to seek refuge in our own little educational establishment; which, however, time would have soon swallowed up also.
Overcome by such reflections, we were about to address the philosopher again, when he suddenly turned towards us, and said in a softer tone—
"I cannot be surprised if you young men behave rashly and thoughtlessly; for it is hardly likely that you have ever seriously considered what I have just said to you. Don't be in a hurry; carry this question about with you, but do at any rate consider it day and night. For you are now at the parting of the ways, and now you know where each path leads. If you take the one, your age will receive you with open arms, you will not find it wanting in honors and decorations: you will form units of an enormous rank and file; ad there will be as many people like-minded standing behind you as in front of you. And when the leader gives the word it will be re-echoed from rank to rank. For here your first duty is this: to fight in rank and file; and your second: to annihilate all those who refuse to form part of the rank and file. On the other path you will have but few fellow travelers: those who take the first path will mock you, for your progress is more wearisome, and they will try to lure you over into their own ranks. When the two paths happen to cross, however, you will be roughly handled and thrust aside, or else shunned and isolated.
"Now, take these two parties, so different from each other in every respect, and tell me what meaning an educational establishment would have for them. That enormous horde, crowding onwards on the first part towards its goal, would take the term to mean an institution by which each of its members would become duly qualified to take his place in the rank and file, and would be purged of everything which might tend to make him strive after higher and more remote aims. I don't deny, of course, that they can find pompous words with which to describe their aims: for example, they speak of the 'universal development of free personality upon a firm social, national, and human basis', or they announce as their goal: 'The founding of the peaceful sovereignty of the people upon reason, education, and justice.'
"An educational establishment for the other and smaller company, however, would be something vastly different. They would employ it to prevent themselves from being separated from one another and overwhelmed by the first huge crowd, to prevent their few select spirits from losing sign of the splendid and noble task through premature weariness, or from being turned aside from the true path, corrupted, or subverted. These select spirits must complete their work: that is the raison d'etre of their common institution—a work, indeed, which, as it were, must be free from subjective traces, and must further rise above the transient events of future times as the pure reflection of the eternal and immutable essence of things. And all those who occupy places in that institution must cooperate in the endeavor to engender men of genius by this purification from subjectiveness and the creation of the woks of genius. Not a few, even of those whose talents may be of the second or third order, are suited to such cooperation, and only when serving in such an educational establishment as this do they feel that they are truly carrying out their life's task. But now it is just these talents I speak of which are drawn away from the true path, and their instincts estranged, by the continual seductions of that modern 'culture'.
"The egotistic emotions, weaknesses, and vanities of these few select minds are continually assailed by the temptations unceasingly murmured into their ears by the spirit of the age; "Come with me! There you are servants, retainers, tools, eclipsed by higher natures; your own peculiar characteristics never have free play; you are tied down, chained down, like slaves; yea, like automata: here, with me, you will enjoy the freedom of your own personalities, as masters should, your talents will cast their luster on yourselves alone, with their aid you may come to the very front rank; an innumerable train of followers will accompany you, and the applause of public opinion will yield you ore pleasure than a nobly-bestowed commendation from the height of genius." Even the very best of men now yield to these temptations: and it cannot be said that the deciding factor here is the degree of talent, or whether a man is accessible to these voices or not; but rather the degree and the height of a certain moral sublimity, the instinct towards heroism, towards sacrifice—and finally a positive, habitual need of culture, prepared by a proper kind of education, which education, as I have previously said, is first and foremost obedience and submission to the discipline of genius. Of this discipline and submission, however, the present institutions called by courtesy 'educational establishments' know nothing whatever, although I have no doubt that the public school was originally intended to be an institution for sowing the seeds of true culture, or at least as a preparation for it. I have no doubt, either, that they took the first bold steps in the wonderful and stirring times of the Reformation, and that afterwards, in the era which gave birth to Schiller and Goethe, there was again a growing demand for culture, like the first protuberance of that wing spoken of by Plato in the Phaedrus [Plato: Phaedrus, 253d-e], which, at every contact with the beautiful, bears the soul aloft into the upper regions, the habitations of the gods."
"Ah," began the philosopher's companion, "when you quote the divine Plato and the world of ideas, I do not think you are angry with me, however much my previous utterance may have merited your disapproval and wrath. As soon as you speak of it, I feel that Platonic wing rising within me; and it is only at intervals, when I act as the charioteer of my soul, that I have any difficulty with the resisting and unwilling horse that Plato has also described to us, the 'crooked, lumbering animal, put together anyhow, with a short, thick neck; flat-faced, and of a dark color, with gray eyes and blood-red complexion; the mate of insolence and pride, shag-eared and deaf, hardly yielding to whip or spur'. Just think how long I have lived at a distance from you, and how all those temptations you speak of have endeavored to lure me away, not perhaps without some success, even though I myself may not have observed it. I now see more clearly than ever the necessity for an institution which will enable us to live and mix freely with the few men of true culture, so that we may have them as our leaders and guiding stars. How greatly I feel the danger of traveling alone! And when it occurred to me that I could save myself by flight from all contact with the spirit of the time, I found that this flight itself was a mere delusion. Continuously, with every breath we take, some amount of that atmosphere circulates through every vein and artery, and no solitude is lonesome or distance enough for us to be out of reach of its fogs and clouds. Whether is the guise of hope, doubt, profit, or virtue, the shades of that culture hover about us; and we have been deceived by that jugglery even here in the presence of a true hermit of culture. How steadfastly and faithfully must the few followers of that culture—which might almost be called sectarian—be ever on the alert! How they must strengthen and uphold one another! How adversely would any errors be criticized here, and how sympathetically excused! And thus, teacher, I ask you to pardon me, after you have labored so earnestly to set me in the right path!"
"You use a language which I do not care for, my friend," said the philosopher, "and one which reminds of a diocesan conference. With that I have nothing to do. But your Platonic horse pleases me, and on its account you shall be forgiven. I am willing to exchange my own animal for yours. But it is getting chilly, and I don't feel inclined to walk about any more just now. The friend I was waiting for is indeed foolish enough to come up here even at midnight if he promised to do so. But I have waited in vain for the signal agreed upon; and I cannot guess what has delayed him. For as a rule he is punctual, as we old men are wont, to be, something that you young men nowadays look upon as old-fashioned. But he has left me in the lurch for once: how annoying it is! Come away with me! It's time to go!"
— At this moment something happened.—