Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (German II).djvu/38

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36
CHRISTIAN GELLERT'S LAST CHRISTMAS.

—I should like—will you give me your hand, Mr. Gellert?"

Gellert drew his long thin hand out of his muff and placed it in the hard oaken-like hand of the peasant; and at this moment, when the peasant's hand lay in the scholar's palm, as one felt the other's pressure in actual living grasp, there took place, though the mortal actors in the scene were all unconscious of it, a renewal of that healthy life which alone can make a people one.

How long had the learned world, wrapped up in itself, separated from the fellow-men around, thought in Latin, felt as foreigners, and lived buried in contemplation of bygone worlds! From the time of Gellert commences the ever-increasing unity of good-fellowship throughout all classes of life, kept up by mutual giving and receiving. As the scholar—as the solitary poet endeavors to work upon others by lays that quicken and songs that incite, so he in his turn is a debtor to his age, and the lonely thinking and writing become the property of all; but the effects are not seen in a moment; for higher than the most highly gifted spirit of any single man is the spirit of a nation. With the pressure which Gellert and the peasant exchanged commenced a mighty change in universal life, which never more can cease to act.

"Permit me to enter your room?" said Christopher, and Gellert nodded assent, He was so