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in philosophy, science, and literature; and it is only necessary to omit the names of Scaliger, Montaigne, Pascal, Descartes, Bayle, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau, Laplace, and Cuvier from the history of European culture, to gain some conception of the grand, and on the whole beneficent, influence which the French mind has had on Europe and mankind. And even more by the form than by the matter of her productions was France for many years the instructress of Europe, without whose aid the literature of England and Germany in the last century would have been impossible. No less admirable were the traditions of French government, as long as they were really living traditions. The history of few nations can show such statesmen and administrators as Henri IV. and Sully, Richelieu and Mazarin, Louvois and Colbert, and the whole of the Napoleonic school.

There is yet another point which the author would be glad to clear up, if it could be done in the limits of a preface, or indeed be done at all; but, as a fact, no discussion

; is possible between two views of life which start from entirely different principles. He has been credited with the naïve object of reconciling two hostile nations by his writings, averting future wars, and with other such estimable intentions. But no one who has understood a syllable of his book can imagine that he has, or could have, any such aim. He has no more intention of exercising a practical influence by making the Germans acquainted with France, than he had when he endeavoured to make Germany known to the French. He has known too long that good advice and moral reflections have but little weight in the scale against passions and interests, the ruling forces in politics. Certainly, if the greatest men of a great time, the noblest and most gifted English and French writers of the eighteenth century, strove in vain to draw the two nations closer by a better understanding of each other, the author of these slight studies could not well labour under the illusion that anything he might utter would avail to bring about more peaceful sentiments between France and Germany. But it was, and still is, his belief, that notwithstanding the serious loss of higher intellectual culture, which we have witnessed in the last thirty or forty years, there still exists in every nation of Europe a number of really cultured men, who do not allow coarse national hatred to assert its influence over them, and for whom politics are neither the only nor the highest form of human activity. Such men may, however, take the same interest in them as they would in history or anthropology.

For the edification of such, not "to reform or convert mankind," have these observations and reflections been noted down by the author, who knows only too well how much men can learn and how little they can change.


FLORENCE, 1st March 1881.


Within the last few years French life and character have been treated by several different writers in Germany from many different points of view. The interest of the Germans had been aroused by the sudden fall and rapid recovery of France, by the deeply rooted evils which the catastrophe laid bare, and by the many noble elements which they so unexpectedly discovered in the national life during their involuntary invasion. There was a general desire to study historically and psychologically the good and bad alike in the character and the intellectual temperament of the people. Some of these writers still thought it necessary to caution us against the vices and bad habits of our neighbours, while the eloquent, liberal, and sympathetic voice of others reminded us of all that we had to learn from the conquered nation. Yet for nations, as for individuals, learning has its limits. Technical and scientific methods, a knowledge of facts and information, even individual ideas, may be gained from others; but can a philosophy of life be learnt, can particular temperament be acquired ? Yet from these flow all that is good or bad in men, whatever in them is to be followed or avoided. We need not on that account


lose the pleasure of studying a nation as the philosopher, the historian, or the poet studies mankind, without any idea of practical application, and simply from an interest in the drama of human life. The task of studying a foreign people as if it were a present past, or we, as Byron said, a living posterity, and of following up intently its inner and outward development, will always preserve its charm for impartial and contemplative minds, even though it should not directly contribute to the improvement of public or private life. So, then, a German like myself, who has spent half his life in France, may be allowed from his rich store of experience to add some further contributions to the numerous essays which have been called forth by recent events. I have endeavoured to adopt, as far as possible, an historical or objective mode of treatment, neither suppressing my sympathy and goodwill on the one hand, nor, on the other, admitting any polemical arrière pensée, and excluding entirely (it is almost superfluous to add) the “patriotic” point of view.

A witty Italian statesman, who knows Germany well, once said to me, “No; you Germans are not vain, but you are arrogant;” and in the last few years I have frequently had occasion to reflect on the truth of my friend's observation. Before our political successes the evil spirit of arrogance appeared in the German scientific world, and claimed for the Germans the part of a chosen people. Even earlier, occasional references were made to our peculiar mission for the culture of the world; and between 1840 and 1850, in direct contradiction to the humanitarian views of the eighteenth century and our classical period, even men of eminence began to talk complacently about “ German virtues.” The excessive modesty of former days gave way to a somewhat assuming self-consciousness. German industry and German fidelity, German honesty and German piety, German sincerity and German conscientiousness, German force of will and German family affection, used to be celebrated as so many monopolies of the German people. Latins and Slavs were looked down upon with a consciousness of superiority only equalled by that which the English once displayed towards Irishmen and Indians. A Gervinus did not shrink from setting the “deep” Wolfram von Eschenbach far above Chrétien de Troyes, whom the Franconian knight had interpreted for Germans. Vilmar allowed himself to describe Rabelais as a common jester compared with his Alsatian adapter, Fischart. Even a Mommsen was not ashamed to deny any poetical temperament to the nation which produced Dante and Leopardi. It became an irrefragible maxim that Gothic architecture, the true child of Northern France, was “old German art.” In certain quarters it was taken as a matter of course that France was not capable of producing anything better than “fashion and elegance." The German saw only too clearly the mote in his neighbour's eye, and laughed heartily at his pretentiousness in imagining that he headed the “march of civilisation,” while all the time he was himself very innocently displaying the beam in his own eye and talking of the “superiority of German culture” as if it were a selfevident fact. When the German professors, with such admirable taste, quoted in their answer to the address of the Dublin University these words of Paracelsus, “ English, French, and Italians, you follow-we lead," they did but

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