Addresses to the German Nation/Fourteenth Address
214. In the addresses which I conclude to-day, I have spoken aloud to you first of all, but I have had in view the whole German nation, and my intention has been to gather round me, in the room in which you are bodily present, everyone in the domain of the German language who is able to understand me. If I have succeeded in throwing into any heart which has beaten here in front of me a spark which will continue to glow there and to influence its life, it is not my intention that these hearts should remain apart and lonely; I want to gather to them from over the whole of our common soil men of similar sentiments and resolutions, and to link them together, so that at this central point a single, continuous, and unceasing flame of patriotic disposition may be kindled, which will spread over the whole soil of the fatherland to its utmost boundaries. These addresses have not been meant for the entertainment of indolent ears and eyes in the present age; on the contrary, I want to know once for all, and everyone of like disposition shall know it with me, whether there is anyone besides ourselves whose way of thinking is akin to ours. Every German who still believes himself to be a member of a nation, who thinks highly and nobly of that nation, hopes for it, ventures, endures, and suffers for it, shall at last have the uncertainty of his belief removed; he shall see clearly whether he is right or is only a fool and a dreamer; from now on he shall either pursue his way with the glad consciousness of certainty, or else firmly and vigorously renounce a fatherland here below, and find in the heavenly one his only consolation. To them, not as individuals in our everyday limited life, but as representatives of the nation, and so through their ears to the whole nation, these addresses make this appeal:—
215. Centuries have come and gone since you were last convoked as you are to-day; in such numbers; in a cause so great, so urgent, and of such concern to all and everyone; so entirely as a nation and as Germans. Never again will the offer come to you in this way. If you now take no heed and withdraw into yourselves, if you again let these addresses go by you as if they were meant merely to tickle your ears, or if you regard them as something strange and fabulous, then no human being will ever take you into account again. Hearken now at last; reflect now at last. Go not from your place this time at least without first making a firm resolution; and let everyone who hears my voice make this resolution by himself and for himself, just as if he were alone and had to do everything alone. If very many individuals think in this way, there will soon be formed a large community which will be fused into a single close-connected force. But if, on the contrary, each one, leaving himself out, puts his hope in the rest and leaves the matter to others, then there will be no others, and all together will remain as they were before. Make it on the spot, this resolution. Do not say: “Let us rest a little longer, let us sleep and dream a little longer, till the improvement comes of itself.” It will never come of itself. He who has once let yesterday go by, which would have been a more convenient time for reflection, and yet cannot use his will to-day, will be still less able to do so to-morrow. Every delay makes us all the more indolent, and cradles us still more deeply in the habit of familiarity with our wretched condition. Then, too, the external motives to reflection can never be stronger or more urgent. He who is not aroused by the present situation has beyond a doubt lost all power of feeling. You are convoked to make a firm and final resolution and decision; and in no wise to give a command, an order, an incitement to others, but an incitement to yourselves. You must make a resolution of a kind which each one can carry out only by himself and in his own person. In this matter the leisurely indication of an intention does not suffice, nor the will to exert a will at some future time, nor yet the indolent resolve to submit some time or other to what is proposed, if one should meanwhile of one’s self have become a better man. No, you are called upon to make a resolve that will itself be part of your life, a resolve that is itself a deed within you, that endures there and continues to hold sway without being moved or shaken, a resolve that never grows cold, until it has attained its object.
216. Or is, perchance, the root, from which alone such a resolution can spring and have an influence on life, completely destroyed, and has it disappeared? Is your whole being in truth and in fact thinned and reduced to an empty shadow, without sap and blood and power of motion; reduced to a dream in which bright visions are begotten and busily pursue each other, but where the body lies stiff and as it were dead? This age has long been told to its face, and has heard it repeated in every shape and form, that this or something like it is the general opinion. Its spokesmen have believed that people who said this only wanted to slander them, and have regarded it as a challenge to themselves to slander in return, supposing that the natural order of things would thereby be restored. Yet there has not been the least trace of any alteration or improvement. But if you have understood the indictment, if it has succeeded in making you indignant, then by your acts give the lie to those who think and speak thus of you; show before the eyes of all the world that you are different, and then those men in the eyes of all the world will be convicted of untruth. Perchance it was precisely with the intention of being refuted by you in this way, and because they despaired of any other means of rousing you, that they spoke of you as harshly as they did. If that was the case, how much better disposed towards you they were than those who flatter you, in order that you may be kept in sloth and quietude and all-unheeding thoughtlessness!
However weak and powerless you may be, never before has clear and calm reflection been made so easy for you as at the present time. The thing that really plunged us into confusion as to our position, that caused our thoughtlessness, our blind acquiescence in all that happened, was our sweet self-satisfaction; we were satisfied with ourselves and our way of life. Things had gone on all right hitherto and continued to go on just the same. If anyone challenged us to reflection, we triumphantly pointed out to him, in place of any other refutation, our existence and continuance, which came about without any reflection on our part. But things went on all right solely because we had not been put to the test. Since then we have gone through it. Since that time the deceptions, the illusions, the false consolation, by which we all led each other mutually astray, have surely collapsed. The inborn prejudices which, without proceeding from any one place, spread themselves like a natural fog over everyone, and enveloped everyone in the same twilight—surely they have vanished now! That twilight no longer binds our eyes; moreover, it can no longer serve us as an excuse. Here we stand now, bare and empty, with all external coverings and hangings taken away, just as we are ourselves. Now there must be revealed what that self is or is not.
217. Perhaps someone may come forward from among you and ask me: “What gives you alone of all German men and writers the special task, the vocation, and the right to assemble us and press your views upon us? Would not each one of the thousands of Germany’s men of letters have just as much right to it as you? Not one of them does it, but you alone thrust yourself forward.” I answer that, of course, everyone would have the same right as I have, that I am doing it solely because not one of them has done it before me, and that I would be silent if another had already done it. This was the first step to the goal of a thorough reformation; someone or other had to take it. I was the first one to see it vividly; therefore it fell to me to take the first step. After this some other step will be the second; all have now the same right to take this step; but once again it will in fact be one man, and one man only, who does take it. There must always be one who is first; then let him be first who can!
218. Without troubling yourselves about this objection, let your gaze rest for a little while upon the view to which we have already conducted you, viz., in what an enviable condition Germany would be, and the world as well, if the former had known how to make use of the good fortune due to its position and to recognize its advantages. Let your eye dwell upon what both are now, and make yourselves feel to the quick the pain and indignation which must seize every noble-minded man when he beholds it. Turn back then to your own selves and see that it is you whom time will free from the errors of the preceding ages and from whose eyes it will remove the mist, if you permit it; that it is granted to you, as to no generation before you, to undo what has been done and to delete the discreditable intervening period from the pages of German history.
Review in your own minds the various conditions between which you now have to make a choice. If you continue in your dullness and helplessness, all the evils of serfdom are awaiting you; deprivations, humiliations, the scorn and arrogance of the conqueror; you will be driven and harried in every corner, because you are in the wrong and in the way everywhere; until, by the sacrifice of your nationality and your language, you have purchased for yourselves some subordinate and petty place, and until in this way you gradually die out as a people. If, on the other hand, you bestir yourselves and play the man, you will continue in a tolerable and honourable existence, and you will see growing up among and around you a generation that will be the promise for you and for the Germans of most illustrious renown. You will see in spirit the German name rising by means of this generation to be the most glorious among all peoples; you will see this nation the regenerator and re-creator of the world.
219. It depends on you whether you want to be the end, and to be the last of a generation unworthy of respect and certain to be despised by posterity even beyond its due—a generation of whose history (if, indeed, there can be any history in the barbarism that will then begin) your descendants will read the end with gladness, saying that its fate was just; or whether you want to be the beginning and the point of development for a new age glorious beyond all your conceptions, and the generation from whom posterity will reckon the year of their salvation. Reflect that you are the last in whose power this great alteration lies. You have, even in your day, heard the Germans spoken of as one; you have seen or have heard of a visible sign of their unity, an empire and an imperial federation; among you voices have made themselves heard from time to time which were inspired by the higher love of fatherland. Those who come after you will accustom themselves to other ideas, will adopt alien forms and another way of conducting life and affairs; and how long will it be then before there is no one living who has seen or heard of Germans?
220. What is demanded of you is not much. You are only bidden to undertake to pull yourselves together for a short time, and to think over that which lies immediately and openly before your eyes. On that alone you are to form a definite opinion, to remain true to it, and utter and express it in your own immediate surroundings. It is an assumption, it is our sure conviction, that the result of this thinking will prove to be the same with all of you, and that, if only you really think and do not go on in the old heedlessness, you will think alike; that, if only you put on the spirit and do not remain on the level of mere vegetable existence, unity and concord of spirit will come of itself. But, once that has come about, everything else that we need will be added to us without our seeking.
Now, this effort of thought is in fact demanded of each one of you, who is still capable of thinking for himself about a thing that lies plainly before his eyes. You have time for it; there is no question of the present moment bewildering you or taking you by surprise; the documents recording the negotiations conducted with you still lie before your eyes. Do not lay them aside until you have made up your minds. Do not, O, do not allow yourselves to relax by trusting in others or in anything whatever that lies outside yourselves, nor yet by the foolish wisdom of the time, which holds that the ages make themselves, without any human aid, by means of some unknown force. These addresses have not grown weary of impressing upon you that nothing whatever can help you except yourselves; and they find it necessary to repeat it up to the last moment. It may be that rain and dew and fruitful or unfruitful seasons are made by a force unknown to us and not in our power; but all human relationships, the whole special province of man, are made only by men themselves and by absolutely no power outside them. Only when they are all equally blind and ignorant do they fall victims to this hidden power; but it rests with them not to be blind and ignorant. It is true that the degree of evil, be it greater or less, which will befall us may depend partly on that unknown power; but it will depend very specially on the understanding and goodwill of those to whom we are subjected. But whether it will ever go well with us again depends entirely on ourselves; and it is certain that no well-being whatever will come to us again unless we procure it for ourselves, and especially unless each one of us, in his own way, acts and works as if he were alone, and as if upon him alone depended the salvation of generations to come.
221. This is what you have to do. These addresses solemnly appeal to you to do it without delay.
To you, young men, they solemnly appeal. I, who have long ceased to belong to your ranks, am of the opinion, which I have expressed in these addresses, that you are even more capable than others of any thought that lies outside the common round, and more susceptible to all that is good and vigorous, because your age lies nearer to the years of childlike innocence and of nature. Quite otherwise is this trait in you regarded by the majority of the older world. They accuse you of arrogance, of hasty and presumptuous judgment exceeding your powers, of always thinking yourselves in the right, of a mania for innovation. Yet they only smile good-humouredly at these failings of yours. All this, they think, is founded solely on your lack of knowledge of the world—that is to say, of the general state of human corruption; for they have no eyes for anything else in the world. You have courage now, they think, only because you hope to find helpers of like mind, and do not know the grim and stiff-necked resistance which will be offered to your plans for the better. Just wait a little while, they say; when once the youthful fire of your imagination has died away, when you have come to learn the general state of selfishness, slothfulness, and dislike for work, when you yourselves have once properly tasted the sweetness of going on in an accustomed groove, then the desire and the will to be better and cleverer than all the rest will depart from you. This good hope which they have of you is not based on thin air; they have found it confirmed in their own person. They must confess that in the days of their foolish youth they dreamed of improving the world, just as you do now; nevertheless, as they grew more mature they became as tame and peaceful as you see them at present. I believe them; I have myself, even in my own not very long experience, seen young men, who at first aroused other hopes, none the less at a later stage fully come up to the well-meaning expectations of this age of maturity. Do this no longer, young men; for if you do, how can a better generation ever begin? The glow of youth will, it is true, fall from you, and the flame of your imaginative power will cease to find nourishment in itself; but seize this flame and concentrate it by clear thinking, make the art of such thinking your very own and you will have added unto you the finest equipment of man, which is character. In and by that clear thinking maintain the source of the eternal bloom of youth; however much your body may grow old or your knees tremble, your mind will re-create itself in ever-renewed freshness, and your character will stand fast and upright. Embrace at once the opportunity that here presents itself to you; think clearly over the subject that is proffered to you for reflection; the clearness that has dawned for you on this one point will gradually spread itself over all the others too.
222. These addresses appeal solemnly to you, old men. You have just heard what people think of you; they say it to your face, and I, the speaker, frankly add thereto for myself that, with regard to the great majority among you, apart from the exceptions which are undoubtedly not rare and which are all the more worthy of honour, what people say is entirely justified. Go through the history of the last two or three decades; everyone except you yourselves is agreed (and even among yourselves each one is agreed except as regards the special branch with which he himself is concerned) that, always apart from the exceptions and with reference only to the majority, in every branch, in science as well as in the affairs of life, more inefficiency and selfishness was found among the older men than anywhere else. The whole contemporary world looked on and saw how every man that wished for a better and more perfect state of things had to fight, not only against his own lack of clearness and his other environment—his greatest fight was against you; the world saw that you had firmly resolved that nothing must come to the front which you had not known about or done, that you regarded every stirring of thought as an insult to your intelligence, and that you left no power unused by which you might become the victors in this fight against the better, as indeed you were generally the victors. Thus, you were the force which held up all the improvements which kindly nature offered to us from her ever-youthful lap, until you were gathered to the dust (dust that you were already!), and the younger generation in the war with you had become like you and took over your old way of administration. You only need to act now as you have hitherto acted in regard to all proposals for improvement; you only need to put higher than the common weal your vanity in regarding it as a point of honour that there shall be nothing under heaven that you have not already discovered; then, by this last fight you will be spared any further fighting; no improvement will take place, but deterioration will follow on deterioration, so that you will still have many an occasion to rejoice.
I do not want you to think that I despise old age as such, or run it down. If only the source of original life and of its continued movement has by means of freedom been taken up into life, clearness grows, and power with it, so long as life lasts. Such a life becomes better as it is lived, the clay of its earthly origin falling away more and more; it ennobles itself and reaches upwards towards eternal life and blossoms out to meet it. In such a life experience does not reconcile itself to evil, but only makes clearer the means, and brings more skill in the art, of fighting evil triumphantly. For the deterioration due to increasing age, the times we live in are solely to blame; such deterioration must be the result wherever society is very corrupt. It is not nature that corrupts us; nature creates us in innocence; society corrupts us. He who once surrenders himself to its influence must in the nature of things become worse and worse, the longer he is exposed to this influence. It would be worth while to examine from this point of view the history of other ages that have been very corrupt, and to see, for example, whether under the government of the Roman emperors what was bad did not become worse and worse with increasing age.
So, among you old men and men of experience it is first to those who form the exception that these addresses solemnly appeal. Support, strengthen, and give counsel in this matter to the younger generation who reverently direct their gaze towards you. But to you others who form the majority the solemn appeal of these addresses is this: you are not asked to help, but just for this once do not interfere; do not put yourselves in the way, as you have always done hitherto, with your wisdom and your thousand grave objections. This matter, like every other matter of reason in the world, has not a thousand aspects, but only one; and that is one of the thousand things you do not know. If your wisdom could bring salvation, it would have saved us before this, for it is you who have advised us hitherto. That is now, like everything else, in vain, and shall not be brought up against you any more. But learn at long last to know yourselves, and be silent.
223. These addresses appeal solemnly to you, men of business. With few exceptions you have hitherto been at heart hostile to abstract thought, and to every science that wished to be something for its own sake, although you put on an air of superiority and treated all that sort of thing with contempt. You kept the men who pursued such subjects, and the proposals they made, as far from you as you possibly could; to be called lunatics, or advised to betake themselves to a madhouse, was the thanks they could most generally reckon on getting from you. They for their part did not dare to express themselves about you with the same frankness, because they were dependent on you; but, in their inmost hearts, their true opinion of you was this, that with few exceptions you are shallow babblers and puffed-up braggarts, half-educated men who merely ran through a course at school, blind men who have to feel their way and creep along in the old groove, and who neither want nor are capable of anything else. By your actions convict them of lying. For this purpose seize the opportunity now offered to you; lay aside your contempt of profound thought and science; let yourselves be told what you do not know, then listen and learn; otherwise your accusers will carry their point.
224. These addresses appeal solemnly to you, thinkers, scholars, and men of letters, to such of you as are still worthy of the name. The reproach that men of affairs brought against you was in a certain sense not unjust. Often you went on in the sphere of pure thought too unconcernedly, without troubling yourselves about the actual world, or trying to find out how the two might be brought into connection; you described your own world, and left the actual one too much alone, despising and scorning it. It is true that all regulation and formation of actual life must proceed from a higher regulating idea, and that going along in the accustomed way is not enough; that is an eternal truth, and in God’s name crushes with unconcealed contempt everyone who dares to occupy himself with affairs without knowing this. Nevertheless, between the idea and the act of introducing it into every separate form of life there lies a great gulf. To fill up this gulf is not only the work of the man of affairs, who indeed must previously have learnt enough to be able to understand you, but the work also of you, who in the world of thought must not forget life. At this point both of you meet. Instead of looking askance at each other across the gulf and depreciating each other, rather let each party be zealous to fill up the gulf from his side and so pave the way to union. Finally, comprehend that both of you are as necessary to each other as head and arm are necessary to each other.
These addresses appeal solemnly in other respects as well to you, thinkers, scholars, and men of letters, to such of you as are still worthy of the name. Your complaints about the general shallowness, thoughtlessness, and vagueness, about conceitedness and the inexhaustible flow of idle chatter, about the contempt for seriousness and thoroughness that prevail in all classes, may be true, as indeed they are. But then, what class is it which has brought up all these classes, which has turned everything scientific into a game for them, and has trained them from their earliest youth to that conceitedness and idle chatter? Who is it that continues to instruct the generations that have left school? The most obvious cause of the stupidity of the age is that it has read itself stupid with the works which you have written. Why do you, nevertheless, continue to make it your business to keep such indolent people entertained, regardless of the fact that they have learnt nothing and want to learn nothing? Why do you call them “the public,” flatter them by making them your judges, set them on against your rivals, and seek by every means to win over this blind and confused mob to your side? Finally, why do you give them, even in your reviewing establishments and journals, not only the material, but also the model for their hasty judgments, by delivering judgment yourselves as the fancy seizes you, without any connecting principle and usually without taste, in a way that the meanest of your readers could equal? If you do not all think like this, if even yet there are better-disposed writers among you, why do they not unite to put an end to the evil? Especially with reference to our men of business; they ran through a course at school under you; you say it yourselves. Why did you not make use of the time they spent with you to instil into them at any rate some silent respect for the sciences, and especially to shatter betimes the conceit of high-born youths and to show them that, when it comes to thinking, neither rank nor birth are of any avail? If perchance even at that time you flattered them and gave them prominence beyond their merits, you must now bear the burden of what you yourselves have created.
They are willing to pardon you, these addresses, on the assumption that you had not grasped the importance of your business; they solemnly appeal to you to make yourselves acquainted from this very hour with its importance, and no longer to carry it on as if it were merely a trade. Learn to respect yourselves, show by your actions that you do so, and the world will respect you. The first proof of it you will give by the influence you yourselves exert on the resolution that is here proposed, and by the way in which you conduct yourselves in connection therewith.
225. These addresses appeal solemnly to you, princes of Germany. Those who in their dealings with you act as if no one ought to say anything whatever to you, or could have occasion to say anything, are contemptible flatterers; they wickedly slander you and no one else; put them far from you. The truth is that you are born just as ignorant as all the rest of us, and that you must listen and learn just as we must, if you are to emerge from this state of natural ignorance. Your share in bringing about the fate that has befallen you together with your peoples has been stated here in the mildest and, we believe, the only just and equitable way; and unless you are willing to listen to flattery only, but never to the truth, you can have no complaint to make against these addresses. Let all this be forgotten, in the same way that all the rest of us wish that our share of the blame may be forgotten. For you too, as for all of us, a new life now begins. O, that this voice of mine might penetrate to you through the whole environment which is wont to make you inaccessible! With proud self-reliance it may say to you: you rule over peoples more loyal, more docile, more worthy of happiness than any princes have ever ruled over in any age or any nation. They have a sense of freedom and a capacity for it; but they followed you into a bloody war against what seemed to them freedom, because you willed it. Some among you willed otherwise later, and they followed you into what must have seemed to them a war of extirpation against one of the last remnants of German independence and autonomy, again because you willed it so. Since then they have been bearing and enduring the oppressive burden of our common woes; and they cease not to be loyal to you, to cleave to you with intense devotion, and to love you as their divinely appointed guardians. If you could only observe them without their knowing it; if you could only escape from that environment, which does not always present the loveliest aspect of humanity to you, and descend into the houses of the citizen and the cottages of the peasant, there to follow and reflect upon the quiet and secluded life of these classes of society, with whom the qualities of loyalty and uprightness, so rare now among the upper classes, seem to have taken refuge; O, then, beyond a doubt you would be filled with a resolve to think more earnestly than ever how help might be brought to them. These addresses have suggested to you a means of help which they deem certain, thoroughgoing, and decisive. Let your counsellors take counsel among themselves as to whether they too are of this opinion, or whether they know a better means; only it must be equally decisive. But the conviction that something must happen, and must happen without delay, and that something thoroughgoing and decisive must happen, and that the time for half-measures and temporary expedients is over, this conviction I would have these addresses bring forth in you yourselves, if they can, seeing that they still have the greatest confidence in your uprightness.
226. To all you Germans, whatever position you may occupy in society, these addresses solemnly appeal; let every one of you, who can think, think first of all about the subject here suggested, and let each do for it what lies nearest to him individually in the position he occupies.
227. Your forefathers unite themselves with these addresses, and make a solemn appeal to you. Think that in my voice there are mingled the voices of your ancestors of the hoary past, who with their own bodies stemmed the onrush of Roman world-dominion, who with their blood won the independence of those mountains, plains, and rivers which under you have fallen a prey to the foreigner. They call to you: “Act for us; let the memory of us which you hand on to posterity be just as honourable and without reproach as it was when it came to you, when you took pride in it and in your descent from us. Until now, the resistance we made has been regarded as great and wise and noble; we seemed the consecrated and the inspired in the divine world-purpose. If our race dies out with you, our honour will be turned to shame and our wisdom to foolishness. For if, indeed, the German stock is to be swallowed up in Roman civilization, it were better that it had fallen before the Rome of old than before a Rome of to-day. The former we resisted and conquered; by the latter you have been ground to dust. Seeing that this is so, you shall now not conquer them with temporal weapons; your spirit alone shall rise up against them and stand erect. To you has fallen the greater destiny, to found the empire of the spirit and of reason, and completely to annihilate the rule of brute physical force in the world. If you do this, then you are worthy of your descent from us.”
228. Then, too, there mingle with these voices the spirits of your more recent forefathers, those who fell in the holy war for the freedom of belief and of religion. “Save our honour too,” they cry to you. “To us it was not entirely clear what we fought for; besides the lawful resolve not to let ourselves be dictated to by external force in matters of conscience, there was another and a higher spirit driving us, which never fully revealed itself to us. To you it is revealed, this spirit, if you have the power of vision in the spiritual world; it beholds you with eyes clear and sublime. The varied and confused mixture of sensuous and spiritual motives that has hitherto ruled the world shall be displaced, and spirit alone, pure and freed from all sensuous motives, shall take the helm of human affairs. It was in order that this spirit might have freedom to develop and grow to independent existence—it was for this that we poured forth our blood. It is for you to justify and give meaning to our sacrifice, by setting this spirit to fulfil its purpose and to rule the world. If this does not come about as the final goal to which the whole previous development of our nation has been tending, then the battles we fought will turn out to be a vain and fleeting farce, and the freedom of conscience and of spirit that we won is a vain word, if from now onwards spirit and conscience are to be no more.”
229. There comes a solemn appeal to you from your descendants not yet born. “You boast of your forefathers,” they cry to you, “and link yourselves with pride to a noble line. Take care that the chain does not break off with you; see to it that we, too, may boast of you and use you as an unsullied link to connect ourselves with the same illustrious line. Do not force us to be ashamed of our descent from you as from base and slavish barbarians; do not compel us to conceal our origin, or to fabricate a strange one and to take a strange name, lest we be at once and without further examination rejected and trodden underfoot. As the next generation that proceeds from you turns out to be, so will your reputation be in history; honourable, if they bear honourable witness for you, but disgraceful even beyond your due, if your descendants may not speak for you, and the conqueror makes your history. Never yet has a conqueror had sufficient inclination or sufficient knowledge to judge the conquered justly. The more he depreciates them, the more just does he himself stand out. Who can know what great deeds, what excellent institutions, what noble customs of many a people in the ancient world have fallen into oblivion, because their descendants were forced under the yoke, while the conqueror wrote an account of them that suited his purpose, and there was none to contradict him!”
230. A solemn appeal comes to you even from foreign countries, in so far as they still understand themselves even to the slightest extent, and still have an eye for their true advantage. Yea, in all nations there are still some souls who cannot even yet believe that the great promises of a realm of justice, reason, and truth for the human race are vain and naught but a baseless delusion, and who, therefore, assume that the present age of iron is but a transition to a better state. These souls, and in them the whole of modern humanity, count upon you. A large part of modern humanity is descended from us, and the rest have received from us their religion and all their civilization. The former solemnly appeal to us by the soil of our common fatherland, which was their cradle, too, and which they have left free for us, the latter by the culture they have received from us as the pledge of a loftier bliss—both appeal to us to preserve ourselves for them too and for their sake, just as we have always been, and not to let the whole organism of the new race that has arisen be violently deprived of this member so important to it; so that, when they come to need our counsel, our example, and our co-operation in striving towards the true goal of earthly life, they will not miss us, to their pain.
231. All ages, all wise and good men who have ever breathed upon this earth, all their thoughts and intuitions of something loftier, mingle with these voices and surround you and lift up imploring hands to you; even, if one may say so, providence and the divine plan in creating a race of men, a plan which exists only to be thought out by men and to be brought by men into the actual world—the divine plan, I say, solemnly appeals to you to save its honour and its existence. Whether those were right who believed that mankind must always grow better, and that thoughts of a true order and worth of man were no idle dreams, but the prophecy and pledge of the real world that is to be—whether they are to be proved right, or those who continue to slumber in an animal and vegetable existence and mock at every flight into higher worlds—to give a final and decisive judgment on this point is a work for you. The old world with its glory and its greatness, as well as its defects, has fallen by its own unworthiness and by the violence of your fathers. If there is truth in what has been expounded in these addresses, then are you of all modern peoples the one in whom the seed of human perfection most unmistakably lies, and to whom the lead in its development is committed. If you perish in this your essential nature, then there perishes together with you every hope of the whole human race for salvation from the depths of its miseries. Do not console yourselves with an opinion based on thin air and depending on the mere recurrence of cases that have already happened; do not hope that when the old civilization has fallen a new one will arise once more out of a semi-barbarous nation on the ruins of the first. In ancient times there was such a people in existence, equipped with every requirement for such a destiny and quite well known to the civilized people, who have left us their description of it; and they themselves, if they had been able to imagine their own downfall, would have been able to discover in this people the means of reconstruction. To us also the whole surface of the globe is quite well known and all the peoples that dwell thereon. But do we know a people akin to the ancestral stock of the modern world, of whom we may have the same expectation? I think that everyone who does not merely base his hopes and beliefs on idle dreaming, but investigates thoroughly and thinks, will be bound to answer this question with a NO. There is, therefore, no way out; if you go under, all humanity goes under with you, without hope of any future restoration.
This it was, gentlemen, which at the end of these addresses I wanted and was bound to impress upon you, who to me are the representatives of the nation, and through you upon the whole nation.