"What! can this be Herr Oldenburg?" asked Olympia in astonishment.
"That is a very original idea. Then monks and nuns, in their self-renunciation, are the chosen army of poets."
"You want to put me in the wrong by a clever sophistry," answered Oldenburg, "but I am not so stupid. I only affirm that a man of truly great mind must not cling with his whole vitality to any one arbitrarily idealized person; if he does so he has fallen from God to man, and he dies the death of a man, for he is coffined between the hard boards of every-day regrets and necessities. Ay, even could he be free, and find his self-created ideal realized, he would be obliged to fly from it."
"I am also of your opinion," said old Van den Ende; "the gods could not have more effectually punished Pygmalion than when they granted his prayer. Such a marriage must be barren."
"There are no ideals on earth and can be none," said Oldenburg in an animated tone; "foolish is he who seeks such, and still more foolish is he who believes he has found them. They may live in us, and hover above us in glorified memories. How infinitely great is Dante when he sings his pure, refined love!"
"There was a time when you thought otherwise," said Olympia.
"I think so still. I myself have no claim to the