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Dialogue of Cultures

Helga Zepp-LaRouche
Presentation to
November 1, Cadre School
on the Importance of Friedrich Schiller

Part II

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Back to Part I


Youth: If I understand this last scene correctly, then Elizabeth and Carlos renounced their love—for the sake of the greater cause. Carlos should later become King and govern better than Philip. That is called self-denial—but you call Schiller the “Poet of Freedom.” Where is the freedom here?

First Speaker: Schiller is called the Poet of Freedom above all, because in all his works he has attempted in ever new ways to make his reader and audience internally free, and because he completely rejects every form of force, whether external or internal. Thus, for example, he begins his “history of the revolt of the Netherlands from the Spanish Government”:

Speaker C:

One of the most remarkable among the events of state, which have made the sixteenth century the most splendid in the world, seems to me the establishment of the Netherlands' freedom. If the glittering deeds of glory-seeking and a destructive appetite for power lay claim to our admiration, how much more so an event, where an oppressed humanity struggles for its noblest rights, where the good cause is paired with unaccustomed powers, and the resources of resolute desperation triumph over the fearsome arts of tyranny in unequal combat. Great and comforting is the reflection, that against defiant usurpations by monarchic force, in the end a remedy is still at hand, that their most calculated designs against human freedom can be spoiled, that a bold-hearted resistance can bend low even the outstretched hand of a despot, heroic perseverance can finally exhaust his terrifying resources. never did this truth pierce me so vividly as the history of that memorable revolt, which severed the United Netherlands forever from the Spanish crown—and on that account, I regarded it as not unworthy of the effort to set before the world this beautiful memorial of common citizens' strength, to awaken in the breast of my reader a joyful sense of his own individual self, and to give a new incontestable example, of what human beings can dare to hazard for the cause, and what they may accomplish by uniting together.

Vol. 3 pp 177-78

First Speaker: Schiller was himself astonishingly clear that the two traditions in European philosophy— the world of only sensuous knowledge on the one side and the real world of universal principles on the other—were also connected to two completely different policital systems. The oligarchical system, in which a small power-elite rules over a mass of men, consciously kept backward, he describes incredibly insightfully in “The Legislation of Lycugus and Solon”:

Speaker D:

But if one compares the aims Lycurgus set himself with the aims of mankind, then profound disapproval must take the place of the admiration, which our first fleeting glance enticed from us. Everything may be sacrificed for the best of the state, but not that, which serves the state itself only as an instrument. The state itself is neve the purpose, it is important only as the condition under which the purpose of mankind may be fulfilled, and this purpose of mankind is none other than the development of all the powers of people, i.e., progress. If the constitution of a state hinders the progress of the mind, it is contemptible and harmful, however well thought-out it may otherwise be, and however accomplished a work of its kind.

In general, we can establish a rule for judging political institutions, that they are only good and laudable, to the extent, that they bring all forces inherent in persons to flourish, to the extent, that they promote the progress of culture, or at least not hinder it. This rule applies to religious laws as well as to political ones: both are contemptible if they constrain a power of the human mind, if they impose upon the mind any sort of stagnation.... Such a law were an assault against mankind..... Vol II p. 283-84

Youth: Yes, this criterium should be applied each time to one's own state—before one declares another country to be a rogue nation and invades it.

Speaker D: But Schiller goes still further.

Universal human emotions were smothered in Sparta in a way yet more outrageous, and the soul of all duties, respect for the species, was irrevocably lost. A law made it a duty of the Spartans to treat their slaves inhumanly, and in these unfortunate victims of butchery, humanity was cursed and abused. The Spartan Book of Laws itself preached the dangerous principle, that people be considered as means, not as ends—the foundations f natural law and morality were thereby torn asunder, by law. p. 285

All industry was banned, all science neglected, all trade with foreign peoples forbidden, everything foreign was excluded. All channels were thereby closed, through which his nation might have obtained more enlightened ideas, for the Spartan state was intended to revolve solely around itself, in perpetual uniformity, in a sad egoism. p. 285.

However, we have seen that progress of the mind should be the aim of the state.

First Speaker: Progress of the mind as an inalienable right of mankind, that was exactly the idea, which was fought for practically for the first time in the American Revolution of 1776, and has been expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. This was the theme in the 80s of the 18th century, with which all republican circles in Europe were concerned. Schiller himself at one point even wanted to emigrate to the USA and make a “great leap.” In “Don Carlos” he transferred the fight for these ideas to the Spanish court of the 16th century.

Youth: Wait a minute, you are asserting that Schiller had thought about the political revolutions in his own time, as he wrote “Don Carlos”? How do you know that?

First Speaker: Among other sources, from Schiller's “Letters on Don Carlos,” where he writes about the decade in which the American Revolution was made:

Recall, dear friend, a certain discussion, which about a favorite subject of our decade—about spreading of a purer, gentler humanity, about the highest possible freedom of the individual within the state's highest blossom, in short, about the most perfect condition of man, as it in his nature and his powers lies given as achievable—among us became lively and enchanted our fantasy in one of the loveliest deams, in which th heart revels so pleasantly.

What is not possible to fantasy? What is not permitted to a poet? Our conversation had long been forgotten, as I in the meantime made the acquaintance of the Prince of Spain; and soon I took note of this inspirited youth, that he indeed might be that one, with whom we could bring our design to realization. Thought, done! Everything found I, as through a ministering spirit, thereby played into my hands; sense of freedom in struggle with despotism, the fetters of stupidity broken asunder, thousand-year long prejudices shaken, a nation, which reclaims its human rights, republican virtues brought into practice, brighter ideas into circulation, the minds in ferment, the hearts elevated by an inspired interest—and now, to complete the happy constellation, a beautifully organized young soul at the throne, come forth under oppression nd suffering in solitary unhindered bloom. Unhappy—so we decided—must the king's son be, in whom we wanted to bring our ideal to fulfillment. pp. 195-96 Vol. I

Speaker E: From the bosom of sensuality and fortune might he not have been taken; art might not yet have lain a hand on his character, the world at that time might not yet have impressed its stamp on him. But how should a regal Prince of the sixteenth century—Philip the Second's son—a pupil of monks, whose hardly awakening reason is watched by such severe and sharp-sighted guardians, acquire this liberal philosophy? Behold, this too was provided for. Destiny gave him a friend—a friend in the decisive years, where the blossoms of the spirit unfold, ideals are conceived and the moral sentiment is purified—a spiritually rich, sensitive youth, over whose education itself, what hinders me, to suppose this? a favorable star hath watched....

An offspring of friendship thus is this bright human philosophy, which the Prince will bring into practice upon the throne. it clothes itself in all the charms of youth, in all the grace of poetry; with light and warmth it is deposited in his heart, it is the first bloom of his being, it is his first love.

Among both friends forms thus an enthusiastic design, to bring forth the happiest condition, which is achievable to human society, and of this enthusiastic design, how it namely appears in conflict with the passion, treats the present drama. The point was thus, to put forward a Prince, who should realize the highest possible ideal of civil bliss for his age. pp. 296=297

First Speaker: Yes, that was an important thought of Schiller's, as an adult to hold the dreams of his youth in respect. However, unfortunately his hope was not fulfilled that the American Revolution would be repeated in all of Europe, first in France and then in Germany.

As under the leadership of Lord Shelburn the Martinists in France inspired and used first the Jacobin terror and then the imperial plan of Napoleon, precisely to prevent such a repetition of the American Revolution in Europe, Schiller was appalled and wrote, the great moment has found a little people, the objective chance was given, but the subjective moral possibility was lacking.

In the “Song of the Bell” Schiller describes the French Revolution thus:

Speaker F:

Song of the Bell Vol. II p. 51

The Master can break up the framing With wisen'd hand, a rightful hour, But woe, whene'er in brooks a-flaming Doth free itself, the glowing ore! Blind-raging with the crash of thunder, It springs from out the bursted house, And as from jaws of hell asunder Doth spew its molten ruin out; Where senseless powers are commanding, There can no structure yet be standing, When peoples do themselves set free, There can no common welfare be.

Woe, when in womb of cities growing, In hush doth pile the fiery match, The people, chains from off it throwing, Doth its own help so frightful snatch! There to the Bell, its rope-cord pulling, Rebellion, doth it howling sound And, hallowed but for peaceful pealing, To violence doth strike aloud.

Liberty, Equality! men hear sounding, The tranquil burgher takes up arms, The streets and halls are all abounding, And roving, draw the murd'ring swarms; Then women to hyenas growing Do make with horror jester's art, Still quiv'ring, panther's teeth employing, They rip apart the en'my's heart. Naught holy is there more, and cleaving Are bonds of pious modesty, The good its place to bad is leavingh, And all the vices govern free. To rouse the lion, is dang'rous error, And ruinous is the tiger's bite, Yet is most terrible the terror Of man in his deluded state. Woe's them, who heaven's torch of lighting Unto the ever-blind do lend! it lights him not, 'tis but igniting, And land and towns to ash doth rend.

Young Girl: I understand that the terror destroyed the French Revolution. But how can one develop the “little generation,” the “little people,” no longer to respond in a “small-minded” way?

First Speaker: That was exactly the decisive question for Schiller. He was convinced that from now on every improvement in the political domain would only be possible through the ennoblement of the individual.

Young Girl: And how is this ennoblement supposed to occur?

First Speaker: Schiller found that classical art must play a decisive roll: the theater, for example, or the stage. The public could grapple with the great subjects of humanity in great historical dramas.

Youth: Stated simply, Schiller has also left something in writing aabout this.

Speaker D: That is so. In his writing on the “Theater” it says:

One noteworthy class of men has special grounds for giving particular thanks to the stage. Only here do the world's mighty men hear what they never or rarely hear elsewhere: Truth. And here they see what they never or rarely see: Man.

Thus is the great and varied service done to our moral culture by the better-developed stage; the full enlightenment of our intellect is no less indebted to it. Here, in this lofty sphere, the great mind, the fiery patriot first discovers how he can fully wield its power.

Such a person lets all previous generations pass in review, weighing nation against nation, century against century, and finds how slavishly the great majority of the people are ever languishing in the chains of prejudice and opinion, which eternally foil their strivings for happiness; he finds that the pure radiance of truth illumines only a few isolated minds, who probably had to purchase that small gain at the cost of a lifetime's labors.

The theater is the common channel through which the light of wisdom streams down from the thoughtful, better part of society, spreading thence in mild beams throughout the entire state. More correct notions, more refined precepts, purer emotions flow from here into the veins of the population; the clouds of barbarism and gloomy superstition disperse; night yields to triumphant light. Vol. 1 p. 216

Speaker G:

But its sphere of influence is greater still. The stage is, more than any other public institution, a school of practical wisdom, a guide to our daily lives, an infallible key to the most secret accesses of the human soul. p. 214

The theater sheds light not only on man and his character, but also on his destiny, and teaches us the great art of facing it bravely..... We have already come a long way, if the inevitable does not catch us wholly unprepared, if our courage and resourcefulness have already been tested by similar events, and our heart has been hardened for its blow. p. 215

The stage brings before us a rich array of human woes. It artfully involves us in the troubles of others, and rewards us for this momentary pain with tears of delight and a splendid increase in our courage and experience. In its company, we follow the forsaken Ariadne through echoing Naxos; we descend into Ugolino's tower of starvation; we ascend the frightful scaffold, and witness the solemn hour of death.... now that he must die, the intimidated Moor finally drops his treacherous sophistry.

But, not satisfied with merely acquainting us with the fates of mankind, the stage also teaches us to be more just toward the victim of misfortune, and to judge him more leniently. For, only once we can plumb the depths of his tormented soul, are we entitled to pass judgment on him. p. 215

First Speaker: Lessing had already developed this idea, that in great classical drama we can practice our emotions, as it were, in a playful manner and thus we are then prepared in actual life, when we are forced to make sudden decisions, which would otherwise strike us when we are unprepared. And Schiller had the following to say about it:

Speaker G:

The pathetic is an artificial misfortune, and like the true misfortune, it places us in direct contact with the spiritual law, that rules in oour bosom. However, the true misfortune selects its man and its time not always well: it often surprises us defenseless and, what is even worse, it often makes us defenseless. The artificial misfortune of the pathetic, on the contrary, finds us in full armament, and because it is merely imagined, so the independent principle in our soul gains room, to assert its absolute independence.... The pathetic, one can therefore say, is an inoculation against unavoidable fate, whereby it deprives it of its malignancy and the assult of the same is led to the strong side of man.

Therefore, away with the false understanding forebearance and the careless, overindulged taste, which throws a veil over the earnest face of necessity and, in order to place itself in the favor of the senses, invents a harmony between well-being and good conduct, of which no traces appear in the real world. Let evil destiny show itself to us face to face. Not in the ignorance of the danger surrounding us—for this must ultimately cease—only in the acquaintance with the same is there salvation for us. To this acquaintance we are now helped by the terrible, glorious spectacle of all destructive and again creative and again destructive alteration—of the now slowlyh undermining, now swiftly invading ruin, we are helped by the pathetical portraits of humanity wrestling with fate, of the irresistible flight of good fortune, of deceived security, of triumphant injustice, and of defeated innocence, which history establishes in ample measure and the tragic art through imitation brings before our eyes.

For where were those, who, with a not entirely neglected moral predisposition, can read of the tenacious and yet futile fight of Mithridates, of the collapse of the cities of Syracuse and Carthage, and can dwell on such scenes, without paying homage to the earnest law of necessity with a shudder, momentarily reining in his desires and, affected by this eternal unfaithfulness of everything sensuous, striving in his bosom after the persevering? The ability to feel the sublime is therefore one of the most glorious predispositions in the nature of man, which, both because of its origin from the independent capacity of thinking and of the will, deserves our attention, and also because of its influence upon moral man, deserves the most perfect development.

The beautiful is merely well-deserved of man, the sublime of the pure demon in him; and because it is once our determination, even in all sensuous limitations to conform to the law book of the pure mind, so must the sublime be added to the beautiful, in order to make the aesthetical education a complete whole and to enlarge the sensibility of the human heart to the entire extent of our determination, and therefore also beyond the world of sense. Vol. III p. 268-69 On the Sublime

Youth: Beauty and the sublime must therefore come together. And that should occur in art?

Speaker D: Of course, in art, as Schiller understands it.

True art, however, does not aim merely at a temporary play; it seriously intends not to transpose a person into a merely momentary dream of freedom, but to make him really and in fact free, and to accomplish this by awakening in him a force, exercising it and developing it, to thrust the sensuous world, which otherwise only presses upon us as crude material, bearing down upon us as a blind power, into an objective distance, to transpose it into a free work of our mind, and to achieve mastery over the material with ideas. Vol IV p. 309

Young Girl: That is it: Rule the material through ideas!

Speaker A: Schiller had in general the most beautiful image of man and a clear idea of the meaning of life. In the “Aesthetical Letters,” he develops the idea of the individual and the state, and similar to the way he develops it in “Lycurgus and Solon”: Vol 1 p. 228

Every individual man, one can say, carries by predisposition and destiny, a purely ideal man within himself, to agree with whose immutable unity in all his alterations is the great task of his existence. This pure man, who gives himself to be recognized more or less distinctly in every subject, is represented through the state; the objective and as it were canonical form, in which the multiplicity of the subjects strives to unite itself. Now however let two different ways be considered, how the man in time can coincide with the man in the idea, hence just as many, how the state can maintain itself in the individual, either thereby, that the pure man suppresses the empirical, that the state abolishes the individual; or thereby, that the individual becomes the state, that the man of time ennobles himself to the man in the idea.

First Speaker: That is the same idea, of which Posa speaks in his dialogue with King Philip: “Be a King of a million kings!” If each man develops his full potential, then there is an inner harmony on the highest level! But that also requires, that an ever greater part of the population does not remain on the lower level of purely sensuous experience, but rather learns to feel and think sublimely.

Youth: And what is that—to feel and think sublimely?

Speaker E:

Our intelligible self, that in us, which is not nature, must then distinguish itself from the sensuous part of our being and must become conscious of its self-reliance, its independence from everything, which can affect the physical nature, in short, its freedom.

This freedom is, however, by all means only moral, not physical. Not through our natural powers, not through our understanding, not as sensuous beings, may we feel ourselves superior to fearsome objects; for then our safety would always depend upon physical, thus empirical causes and therefore always remain dependent upon nature. Rather it must be completely indifferent, how we as sensuous beings fare thereby and our freedom must merely consist in that we do not at all hold our physical condition, which can be determined through nature, to be our self, but rather as something regarded as external and foreign, which has no influence on our moral person.

Great is he, who overcomes what is fearsome. Sublime is he, who even as he himself perishes, does not fear it.

Youth: I imagine that that is rather difficult. How does one achieve that—only by going to the theater?

First Speaker: Besides the great historical drama, it is also the study of universal history itself, which helps a person succeed in transcending the narrowness of his physical existence. It helps him, to find his identity in immortality. Schiller said that to his students in his address on Universal History:

Speaker C:

Even that we found ourselves together here at this moment, found ourselves together with this degree of national culture, with this language these manners, these civil benefits, this degree of freedom of conscience, is the result perhaps of all pervious events in the world: The entirety of world history, at least, were necessary to explain this single moment. For us to have met here as Christians, this religion had to be prepared by countless revolutions, had to go forth from Judaism, had to have found the roman state exactly as it found it, to spread in a rapid and victorious course over the world, and to ascend finally even the throne of the Caesars. Our raw forefathers in the Thuringian forests had to have been defeated by the superior strength of the Franks in order to adopt their religion. Through its own increasing wealth, through the ignorance of the people, and through the weakness of their rulers, the clergy had to have been tempted and favored to misuse its reputation, and to transform its silent power over the conscience into a secular sword. Vol. II p. 263

Speaker B: For us to have assembled here as Protestant Christians, the hierarchy had to have poured out all its atrocities upon the human species in a Greogory and Innocent, so that the rampant depravity of moral standards and the crying scandal of spiritual despotism could embolden an intrepid Augustinian monk to give the signal for the revolt, and to snatch half of Europe away from the Roman hierarchy. For this to have happened, the weapons of our princes had to wrest a religious peace from Charles V; a Gustavus Adolphus had to have avenged the breach of this peace, and establish a new universal peace for centuries. Cities in italy and Germany had to have risen up to open their gates to industry, break the chains of serfdom, wrest the scepter out of the hands of ignorant tyrants, and gain respect for themselves through a militant Hanseatic League, in order that trade and commeerce should flourish, and superfluity to have called forth the arts of joy, so that the nation should have honored the useful husbandman, and a long-lasting happiness for mankind should have ripened in the beneficient middle class, the creator of our entire culture.

Speaker C: For our mind to have wrested itself free of the ignorance in which spiritual and secular compulsion held it enchained, the long-suppressed germ of scholarship had to have burst forth again among its most enraged persecutors, and an Al Mamun had to have paid the spoils to the sciences, which an Omar had extorted from them. The unbearable misery of barbarism had to have driven our ancestors forth from the bloody judgments of God and into human courts of law, devastating plagues had to have called medicine run astray back to the study of nature.... The depressed spirit of the Nordic barbarian had to have uplifted itself to Greek and Roman models, and erudition had to have concluded an alliance with the Muses and Graces, should it ever find a way to the heart and deserve the name of sculptor of man.— But, had Greece given birth to a Thucydides, a Plato, an Aristotle, had Rome given birth to a Horace, a Cicero, a Virgil and Livy, were these two nations not to have ascended to those heights of political wealth to which they indeed attained? In a word, if their entire history had not preceded them?

Speaker B: How many inventions, discoveries, state and church revoutions had to conspire to lend growth and dissemination to these new, still tender sprouts of science and art! How many wars had to be waged, how many alliances concluded, sundered, and become newly concluded to finally bring Europe to the principle of peace, which alone grants nations, as well as their citizens, to direct their attention to themselves, and to join their energies to a reasonable purpose!

Even in the most everyday activities of civil life, we cannot avoid becoming indebted to centuries past; the most diverse periods of mankind contribute to our culture in the same way as the most remote regions of the world contgribute to our luxury. The clothes we wear, the spices in our food, and the price for which we buy them, many of our strongest medicines, and also many new tools of our destruciton—do they not presuppose a Columbus who discovered America, a Vasco da Gama who circumn avigate the tip of Africa? there is thus a long chain of events pulling us from the present moment aloft toward the beginning of the human species, the which intertwine as cause and effect. p. 265

Young Girl: There was therefore long ago a dialogue of cultures in universal history!

Speaker C: All preceding ages, without knowing it or aiming at it, have striven to bring about our human century. Ours are all the treasures which diligence and genius, reason and experience, have finally brought home in the long age of the world. Only from history will you learn to set a value on the goods from which habit and unchallenged possession so easily deprive our gratitude; priceless, precious goods, upon which the blood of the best and the most noble clings, goods which had to be won by the hard work of so many generations! p. 271

And who among you, in whom a bright spirit is conjugated with a feeling heart, could bear this high obligation in mind, without a silent wish being aroused in him to pay that debt to coming generations which he can no longe discharge to those past? A noble desire must glow in us to also make a contribution out of our means to this rich bequest of truth, morality, and freedom which we received from the world past, and which we must surrender once more, richly enlarged, to the world to come, and in this eternal chain which winds itself through all human generations, to make firm our ephemeral existence. p. 271

However different the destinies may be which await you in society, all of you can contribute something to this! A path toward immortality has been opened up to every achievement, to the true immortality, I mean, where the deed lives and rushes onward, even if the name of the author should remain behind. p. 272

Youth: Okay, the idea of universal history is clear. But how did Schiller understand freedom?

First Speaker: Only he who throws from himself the “dread of the earthly,” only he who believes in universal principles, which transcend the narrow dimension of his own life, and therefore is sublime, is actually free. Confidence, that this were possible, Schiller gained from his profound conviction that the cosmic order is subject to the same lawfulness as the human soul.

Speaker F: The universe is a thought of God. After this ideal mental image stepped over into reality... it is the vocation of all thinking beings, to find once again the first design in this existing whole, to seek out the rule in the machine, the unity in the composition, the law in the phenomenon and to pass backward from the structure to its founding design. Therefore, for me there is a single appearance in nature, the thinking Being. Vol. III p. 206

Harmony, truth, order, beauty, excellence give me joy, because they place me into the active condition of their inventor, of their possessor, because they betray to me the presence of a rational, feeling Being and let me divine my relationship with this Being. A new experience in this realm of truth, gravitation, the discovered circulation of the blood, the natural system of Linnaeus, signify to me ... only the reflection of one spirit, a new acquaintance with a being similar to me. I confer with the infinite through the instrument of nature, through the history of the the world—I read the soul of the Artist in his Apollo. p. 207

Speaker E: That is the same idea, as in the poem, Columbus!

Steer, courageous sailor! Although the wit may deride you, And the skipper at th' helm lower his indolent hand— Ever, ever to th' West! There must the coast be appearing, Lies it yet clearly and lies shimm'ring before your mind's eye.

Trust in the guiding God and follow the silent ocean, Were it not yet, it would climb now from the billows aloft. With Genius stand nature in everlasting union, What is promised by th' one, surely the other fulfils.

Young Girl: But how does one become a genius, a man of genius?

First Speaker: In fact, only a person can think thus, who has educated his emotions up to the level of reason. And that is Agape, love. Schiller was still quite young, when he developed this thought:

Speaker F:

Now, best Raphael, let me look around. the height has been scaled, the fog has fallen, as in a blossoming landscape I stand in the midst of the immeasurable. A purer sunlight has refined all my concepts.

Love therefore—the most beautiful phenomenon in the soul-filled creation, the omnipotent magnet in the spiritual world, the source of devotion and of the most sublime virtue—Love is only the reflection of this single original power, an attraction of the excellent, grounded upon an instantaneous exchange of the personality, a confusion of the beings.

When I hate, so take I something from myself; when I love, so become I so much the richer, by what I love. Forgiveness is the recovery of an alienated property—hatred of man a prolonged suicide; egoism the highest poverty of a created being.

When Raphael stole away from my last embrace, my soul was torn apart, and I cry at the loss of my more beautiful half. Vol. III pp 210-211

Youth: Who then is Raphael?

First Speaker: Raphael is the friend, to whom Schiller directed his “Philosophical Letters.” Listen further, the most important thing comes first:

But love has brought forth effects, which seem to contradict its nature. it is thinkable, that I enlarge mine own happiness through a sacrifice, which I offer for the happiness of others—but also then, when this sacrifice is my life? And history has examples of such sacrifice—and I feel it lively, that it should cost me nothing, to die for Raphael's deliverance. How is it possible, that we regard death as a means to enlarge the sum of our enjoyments? How can the cessation of my existence agree with the enrichment of my being?

The assumption of an immortality lifts this contradiction—but it also distorts forever the high gracefulness of this appearance. Consideration of a rewarding future excludes love. There must be a virtue, which suffices even without the belief in immortality, which effects the same sacrifice even at the danger of annihilation.

It is indeed ennobling to the human soul, to sacrifice the present advantage for the eternal—it is the noblest degree of egoism,—but egoism and love separate mankind into two highly dissimilar races, whose boundaries never flow into one another. Egoism erects its center in itself; love plants it outside of itself in the axis of the eternal whole. Love aims at unity, egoism is solitude. Love is the co-governing citizen of a blossoming free state, egoism a despot in a ravaged creation. Egoism sows for gratitude, love for ingratitude. Loves gives, egoism lends—regardless in front of the throne of the judging truth, whether for the enjoyment of the next-following moment, or with the view toward a martyr's crown—regardless, whether the tributes fall in this life or in the other.

Think thee of a truth, my Raphael, which benefits the whole human species into distant centuries—add thereto, this truth condemns its confessor to death, this truth can only be proven, only be believed, if he dies. Think thee then of the man with the bright, encompassing, sunny look of genius, with the flaming wheel of enthusiasm, with the wholly sublime predisposition to love. Let the complete ideal of this great effect climb aloft in his soul—let pass to him in a faint presentiment all the happy ones, whom he shall create—let the present and the future press together at the same time in his spirit—and now answer thee, does this man require the assignment to an other life?

The sum of all these perceptions will become confused with his personality, will flow together into one with his I. The human species, of which he now thinks, is he himself. It is one body, in which his life, forgotten and dispensible, swims like a drop of blood—how quickly will he shed it for his health! Vol. III pp: 213-14

Young Girl: And how old was Schiller, when he wrote that?

First Speaker: He was just twenty years old. And he had already achieved the level of the sublime, when a man identifies himself with the fate of mankind.

Speaker A: Later, in his classical period, Schiller expressed this same thought:

We call it a beautiful soul, when moral sentiment has assured itself of all emotions of a person ultimately to that degree, that it may abandon the guidance of the will to emotions, and never run danger of being in contradition with its own decisions. Hence, in a beautiful soul individual deeds are not properly moral, rather, the entire character is.... With such ease, as if mere instinct were acting out of it, it carries out the most painful duties of humanity, and the most heroic sacrifice which it exacts from natural impulse comes to view like a voluntary effect of just this impulse. Hence, the beautiful soul knows nothing of the beauty of its deeds, and it no longer occurs to it, that one could act or feel differently; a trained student of moral rules, on the other hand, just as the word of the master requires of him, will be prepared at every moment to give the strictest account of the relationship of his action to the law.

His life will be like a drawing, where one sees the rules marked by harsh strokes, such as, at best, an apprentice of the principles of art might learn. But in a beautiful life, as in a painting by Titian, all of those cutting border lines have vanished, and yet the whole form issues forth the more true, vital and harmonious.

It is thus in a beautiful soul, that sensuousness and reason, duty and inclination harmonize, and grace is its epiphany. Vol II p. 368

Youth: What did Goethe say when Schiller had just died? “For he was ours!” And what do we young people say today? Schiller's ideas are the best overall, that we can find in German culture and history. And therefore we say: “He is ours!”

(All of the following poems should be recited by youth)

Words of Faith

I'll name you three content-laden words;
      From mouth to mouth they are chasing,
But not from outside of us do they emerge—
      'Tis words from the heart we re facing.
Mankind is of all his value bereft
If in these three words no faith is left.

Man was created free—is free
      E'en though he wee born in shackles.
Do not be deceived by the rabble's bray
      Or idiots' abusive cackles.
Before the slave, when his chains he doth break,
Before the man who's free, O do not quake!

And virtue—this is no meaningless sound—
      Can be practiced each day if we trouble:
And much as we tend to go stumbling around,
      Toward paradise, too, can we struggle.
And what no logician's logic can see
The child-like mind sees obviously.

And one God there is, a Will divine,
      However man's own will may waver;
Supremely above all space and all time
      The living Idea moves forever.
And though all's e'er-changing in form and in scene,
Within that change rests a spirit serene.

Keep these three content-laden words;
      From mouth to mouth implant them.
And if from without they do not emerge,
      Then your innermost soul must grant them.
Mankind is never of value bereft
As long as his faith in these three words is left.

Breadth and Depth

There glitter many in the world,
Who all things respond to so witting,
And where what's charming, and where pleasure-filled,
One ascertains answers quite fitting;
You'd think, had you heard them 'loud confide,
That they had actually conquered the bride.

Yet go they from the world quite still,
Their lives were wasted sadly;
Who any excellence gaineth will,
Who'd bring forth greatness so gladly,
Must concentrate so still and tight
In tiniest point the highest might.

The trunk doth rise into the air
With uppish branches in splendor,
The flutt'ring leaves breathe a scent so fair,
Yet they can the fruit not engender;
The seed alone i'th' space so wee
Conceals the pride o'th' forest, the tree.

Words of Delusion

Three words doth man hear, with meaning full
      In good and in best mouths extolling;
They sound off but idly, their ring is null,
      They can not give any consoling.
And mankind doth forfeit this life's own fruit,
As long as mere shadows are his pursuit.

As long he trusts in the Goldenest Age,
      Where the righteous, the good conquer evil—
The righteous, the good in battle e'er rage,
      N'er will he vanquish the Devil,
And thou strangle him not in the air that's blue,
E'er grows in him strength from the earth anew.

As long he trusts, that a coquettish chance
      Is with nobleness bound up in spirit—
The evil she trails with loving glance,
      Not the earth will the good men inherit.
He is a stranger, he goes to roam
And seeks an everlasting home.

As long he trusts, that mere logic can grasp
      The truth that is ever shining,
Then her veil lifts not any mere mortal clasp,
      We're left but supposing, divining.
Thou'd 'prison the soul in an empty sound,
But it wanders off in the storm unbound.

So, noble soul, from delusion tear thee,
      And to heavenly trust be most faithful!
What no ear doth hear, what the eyes do not see,
      It is this that's the beauteous, the truthful!
It is not outside, there fools do implore,
It is in you, you bring it forth evermore.


Ah! from out this gloomy hollow,
By the chilling mists oppressed,
Could I find a path to follow,
Ah! I'd feel myself so blessed!
Yonder glimpse I hilled dominions,
Young and green eternally!
Had I wings with supple pinions,
Thither to the hills I'd flee.

Dulcet concords hear I ringing,
Strains of sweet celestial calm,
And the tranquil breeze is bringing
Me its sweetly fragrant balm.
Golden fruits I see there glowing,
Bobbing 'midst the leaf and root,
And the flowers yonder growing
Will not be the winter's loot.

Oh, it must be fine to wander
In eternal sunshine free,
And the air in highlands yonder,
How refreshing must it be!
Yet the current's raging daunts me,
Which between doth madly roll,
And the torrent rises sharply,
To the horror of my soul.

I perceive a small boat swaying,
Ah! but look! no helmsman's there.
Quickly in and no delaying!
For her sails are live with air.
Now you must have faith and daring,
For the gods accord no bond,
Only wonder can you carry
To the lovely wonderland.

The Maid of Orleans

The noble image of mankind to sully,
Contempt doth roll thee in the deepes dust;
Wit wageth war eternally on Beauty,
In angel and in God it holds no trust;
To rob the heart o' her treasures he intendeth,
Illusion he besets and faith offendeth.

Yet, like thyself, from childlike generation,
A shepherdess like thou of piety,
To thee doth poetry extend her godly sanction,
To the eternal stars she swings with thee;
Within a halo she doth thee encircle—
The heart form'd thee! Thou wilt live on immortal.

The world doth love, the radiant to dirty
And the sublime to drag i'th' dust below;
Yet have no fear! There still are hearts of beauty,
Which for the high, the glorious do glow.
The noisy market Momus may make mirthful,
A nobler mind loves forms which are more noble.

The Pledge

To Dionysius, the tyrant, would sneak
Damon, concealing a dagger;
He's slapped by the guards in a fetter.
“What would you do with that dagger, speak!”
Demands the despot, his visage bleak.
“I would free the state from a tyrant!”
“For that, on the cross be repentant.”

“I am,” he replies, “ready to die
And do not beseech you to spare me,
But if you would show me mercy,
I ask you to let three days go by,
'Til my sister her marriage bonds may tie,
I'll leave you my friend, in bondage,
If I flee, his life is hostage.”

The King then smiles with malice in his face,
And speaks after thinking just briefly:
“Three days I'll give for your journey.
But beware! If you've used up your days of grace,
Before you've returned to me from that place,
Then he must to death be committed,
But your sentence will be remitted.”

And he comes to his friend: “The King bids, that I
Must pay by crucifixion
For my wrongful act of passion,
But he will let three days go by,
'Til my sister her marriage bonds may tie,
So stay as my pledge, 'til I hasten
Back to you, your bonds to unfasten.”

And the true friend embraces him silently
And goes to the tyrant in submission,
The other goes hence on his mission.
And before the sun rises upon the third day,
He quickly gives his sister in marriage away,
Hurries home, with anxious spirit,
That he stay not beyond the time limit.

Then the rain comes pouring down endlessly,
From the mountains the springs are rushing,
And the brooks and the streams are gushing.
To the bank with his wanderer's staff comes he,
As the whirlpool is tearing the bridge away,
And the waves now break with a thunder
The arch of the vault asunder.

And hopeless he wanders the shore's dark sand,
As widely as he scouts and gazes
And as loud as the cries he raises,
Here no boat puts out from safety's strand,
Which brings him across to the wished-for land,
No skipper mans his station,
And the wild stream swells to an ocean.

Then he sinks on the shore and prays and cries,
His hands up to Zeus extended:
“O let the storm's wrath be ended!
The hours are hastening, at midday lies
The sun, and if it leaves the skies,
And I cannot reach the city,
Then my friend must die without pity.”

But renewed, the rage of the storm does grow,
And wave upon wave goes racing,
And hour after hour is chasing.
His courage he seizes, his fear makes him go
And headlong he dives in the thundering flow
And cleaves, in a powerful fashion,
The flood, and a god has compassion.

And he wins the bank and runs from the flood
And thanks to the god he expresses,
When a band of robbers then presses
From out a nocturnal spot in the wood,
His pathway blocking, and snorts for his blood
And holds up the wanderer's speeding
With threatening cudgels impeding.

“What do you want?” he cries, pale with fear,
“I've naught but my life to render,
Which I to the king must surrender!”
And he grabs the club from the one most near:
“For the sake of my friend be merciful here!”
And three, with a powerful beating
He slays, the others retreating.

And the sun glows hot as a burning brand,
And from all of the pains of his mission
He sinks to his knees in exhaustion.
“O you've saved me with mercy from robbers' hand,
From out of the stream to the sacred land,
And shall I here languishing perish,
And my friend die for me, whom I cherish!”

And hark! there it purls silver-clear,
Quite close, like a rippling it rushes,
And to listen, he halts and hushes,
And see, from the rock ledge, now babbling near,
An ebullient fountain springs murmuring here,
And he joyfully kneels down and washes
And his burning limbs refreshes.

And the sunlight slants through the verdant trees
And paints on the glistening meadows
The forest's gigantic shadows;
And two wanderers walking the road he sees,
He would hasten along as past them he flees,
Then he hears the words they are saying:
“Now him on the cross they are slaying.”

And now fear gives wings to his hastening gait,
Pangs of grief are him pursuing,
And i'th' shimmering red o'th' evening,
Distant Syracuse' towers await,
And here Philostratus comes from its gate,
The household's honest keeper,
Who with horror perceives his master:

“Go back! It's too late to save your friend,
So save your own life, for the future!
Even now to death does he suffer.
Your return he awaited for hours on end,
To you his hopeful soul did bend,
With a faith too strong and valiant
To be robbed by the scorn of the tyrant.”

“And is it too late, and can I not lend
Him the hand of a welcome savior,
Then in death I'll join him forever.
Let the bloody tyrant's boasting end,
That the friend has broken his word to his friend,
Let him slaughter us two together
And believe in love and honor.”

And the sun now descends, by the gate he stands nigh
And sees the cross elevated,
Which the gaping crowd has awaited,
On the rope already his friend's lifted high,
Through the thick of the throng he goes charging by:
“Me, hangman! Kill me!” he's crying,
“I'm the one, for whom he is dying!”

And amazement seizes the people all round,
The two friends give each other embraces,
Tears of sorrow and joy wet their faces.
No eye without tears is there to be found,
And the wonderful tale to the king is then bound,
Humanely his feelings are shaken,
To his throne are they quickly then taken.

And long he regards them with wondering eye,
Then he speaks: “You have prospered,
My heart you now have conquered,
And true faith, 'tis no empty vanity,
So into your friendship's bond take me,
I would, if allowed my intention,
Become the third in your union.”

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