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ought also to work at the plough like an ox; like a dog to train himself to the harness and draught; or, perhaps, tied up in a chain, to guard a farm-yard by his barking?'


"Werner, it may well be supposed, had listened with the greatest surprise. All true,' he rejoined, if men were but made like birds; and, though they neither spun nor weaved, could spend peaceful days in perpetual enjoyment; if, at the approach of winter, they could as easily betake themselves to distant regions; could retire before scarcity, and fortify themselves against frost.'

it, for ourselves? These are questions, this last is a question, in which no one is unconcerned.

To answer these questions, to begin the answer of them, would lead us very far beyond our present limits. It is not, as we believe, without long, sedulous study, without learning much, and unlearning much, that, for any man, the answer of such questions is even to be hoped. Meanwhile, as regards Goethe, there is one feature of the business which, to us, throws considerable light on his moral persuasions, and will not, in investigating the secret of them, be overlooked. We allude to the spirit in which he cultivates his Art; the noble, disinterested, almost religious love with which he looks on Art in general, and strives towards it as towards the sure, highest, nay, only good. We extract one passage from Wilhelm Meister: it may pass for a piece of fine declamation, but not in that light do we offer it here. Strange, unaccountable as the thing may seem, we have actually evidence before our mind that Goethe believes in such doctrines, nay, has, in some sort, lived and endeavoured to direct his conduct by them.

"Look at men,' continues Wilhelm, 'how they struggle after happiness and satisfaction! Their wishes, their toil, their gold, are ever hunting restlessly; and after what? After that which the Poet has received from nature; the right enjoyment of the world; the feeling of himself in others; the harmonious conjunction of many things that will seldom go together.

"What is it that keeps men in continual discontent and agitation? It is that they cannot make realities correspond with their conceptions, that enjoyment steals away from among their hands, that the wished-for comes too late, and nothing reached and acquired produces on the heart the effect which their longing for it at a distance led them to anticipate. Now fate has exalted the Poet above all this, as if he were a god. He views the conflicting tumult of the passions; sees families and kingdoms raging in aimless commotion; sees those perplexed enigmas of misunderstanding, which often a single syllable would explain, occasioning convulsions unutterably baleful. He has a fellow-feeling of the mournful and the joyful in the fate of all mortals. When the man of the world is devoting his days to wasting melancholy for some deep disappointment; or, in the ebullience of joy, is going out to meet his happy destiny, the lightly-moved and allconceiving spirit of the Poet steps forth, like the sun from night to day, and with soft transition tunes his harp to joy or wo. From his heart, its native soil, springs the fair flower of Wisdom; and if others while waking dream, and are pained with fantastic delusions from their every sense, he passes the dream of life like one awake, and the strangest event is to him nothing, save a part of the past and of the future. And thus the Poet is a teacher, a prophet, a friend of gods and men. How! Thou wouldst have him descend from his height to some paltry occupation? He who is fashioned, like a bird, to hover round the world, to nestle on the lofty summits, to feed on flowers and fruits, exchanging gai y one bough for another, he |

666 "Poets have lived so,' exclaimed Wilhelm, 'in times when true nobleness was better reverenced; and so should they ever live. Sufficiently provided for within, they had need of little from without; the gift of imparting lofty emotions, and glorious images to men, in melodies and words that charmed the ear, and fixed themselves inseparably on whatever they might touch, of old enraptured the world, and served the gifted as a rich inheritance. At the courts of kings, at the tables of the great, under the windows of the fair, the sound of them was heard, while the ear and the soul were shut for all beside; and men felt, as we do when delight comes over us, and we pause with rapture if, among the dingles we are crossing, the voice of the nightingale starts out, touching and strong. They found a home in every habitation of the world, and the lowliness of their condition but exalted them the more. The hero listened to their songs, and the Conqueror of the Earth did reverence to a Poet; for he felt that, without poets, his own wild and vast existence would pass away like a whirlwind, and be forgotten for ever. The lover wished that he could feel his longings and his joys so variedly and so harmoniously as the Poet's inspired lips had skill to show them forth; and even the rich man could not of himself discern such costliness in his idol grandeurs, as when they were presented to him shining in the splendour of the Poet's spirit, sensible to all worth, and ennobling all. Nay, if thou wilt have it, who but the Poet was it that first formed Gods for us; that exalted us to them, and brought them down to us ?'"*

For a man of Goethe's talent to write many such pieces of rhetoric, setting forth the dignity of poets, and their innate independence on external circumstances, could be no very hard task: accordingly, we find such sentiments again and again expressed, sometimes with still more gracefulness, still clearer emphasis, in his various writings. But to adopt these sentiments into his sober practical persuasion; in any measure to feel and believe that such was still, and must always be, the high vocation of the poet; on this ground of universal humanity, of ancient and now almost forgotten nobleness, to take his stand, even in these trivial, jeering, withered, unbelieving days; and through all their complex, dispiriting, mean, yet tumultuous influences, to "make his light shine before men," that it might beautify even our "rag-gathering age" with some beams of that mild, divine splendour, which had long

* Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship, book ii. chap. 2.

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Books, too, have their past happiness, which no chance can take away:

Wer nie sein Brod mit Thränen ass,
Wer nicht die kummervollen Nächte
Auf seinem Bette weinend sass,

Der kennt euch nicht, ikr himmlischen Mächte. •
"These heart-broken lines a highly noble-
minded, venerated Queen repeated in the cruel-
est exile, when cast forth to boundless misery.
She made herself familiar with the Book in
which these words, with many other painful
experiences, are communicated, and drew from
it a melancholy consolation. This influence,
stretching of itself into boundless time, what is
there that can obliterate?"

left us-the very possibility of which was denied; heartily and in earnest to meditate all this, was no common proceeding; to bring it into practice, especially in such a life as his has been, was among the highest and hardest enterprises, which any man whatever could engage in. We reckon this a greater novelty, than all the novelties which as a mere writer he ever put forth, whether for praise or censure. We have taken it upon us to say that if such is, in any sense, the state of the case with regard to Goethe, he deserves not mere approval as a pleasing poet and sweet singer; but deep, grateful study, observance, imitation, as a Moralist and Philosopher. If there be any probability that such is the state of the case, we cannot but reckon it a matter well worthy of being inquired into. And it is for this only that we are here pleading and arguing.


On the literary merit and meaning of Wilhelm Meister we have already said that we must not enter at present. The book has been translated into English; it underwent the usual judgment from our Reviews and Magazines; was to some a stone of stumbling, to others foolishness, to most an object of wonder. On the whole, it passed smoothly through the critical Assaying-house, for the Assayers have Christian dispositions, and very little time; so Meister was ranked, without umbrage, among the legal coin of the Minerva Press; and allowed to circulate as copper currency among the rest. That in so quick a process, a German Freidrich d'or might not slip through unnoticed among new and equally brilliant British brass Farthings, there is no warranting. For our critics can now criticise impromptu, which, though far the readiest, is nowise the surest plan. Meister is the mature product of the first genius in our times; and must, one would think, be different, in various respects, from the im-ing, he repeats the whole Character, and even mature products of geniuses who are far from appends to it, in a separate sketch, some new the first, and whose works spring from the assurances and elucidations. brain in as many weeks as Goethe's cost him years.

Here are strange diversities of taste; "national discrepancies" enough, had we time to investigate them! Nevertheless, wishing each party to retain his own special persuasions, so far as they are honest, and adapted to his intellectual position, national or individual, we cannot but believe that there is an inward and essential Truth in Art; a Truth far deeper than the dictates of mere Mode, and which, could we pierce through these dictates, would be true for all nations and all men. To arrive at this Truth, distant from every one at first, approachable by most, attainable by some small number, is the end and aim of all real study of Poetry. For such a purpose, among others, the comparison of English with foreign judgment, on works that will bear judging, forms no unprofitable help. Some day, we may translate Friedrich Schlegel's Essay on Meister, by way of contrast to our English animadversions on that subject. Schlegel's praise, whatever ours might do, rises sufficiently high: neither does he seem, during twenty years, to have repented of what he said; for we observe in the edition of his works, at present publish

It may deserve to be mentioned here that Meister, at its first appearance in Germany, was received very much as it has been in England. Goethe's known character, indeed, precluded indifference there; but otherwise it was much the same. The whole guild of criticism was thrown into perplexity, into sorrow; every where was dissatisfaction open or concealed. Official duty impelling them to speak, some said one thing, some another; all felt in secret that they knew not what to say. Till the appearance of Schlegel's Character, no word, that we have seen, of the smallest chance to be decisive, or indeed to last beyond the day, had been uttered regarding it. Some regretted that the fire of Werter was so wonderfully abated; whisperings there might be about "lowness," "heaviness;" some spake forth boldly in be half of suffering "virtue." Novalis was not among the speakers, but he censured the work in secret, and this for a reason which to us will seem the strangest; for its being, as we should say, a Benthamite work! Many are the bitter aphorisms we find, among his Frag

Nevertheless, we quarrel with no man's verdict; for Time, which tries all things, will try this also, and bring to light the truth, both as regards criticism and the thing criticised; or sink both into final darkness, which likewise will be the truth as regards them. But there is one censure which we must advert to for a moment, so singular does it seem to us. Meister, it appears, is a "vulgar" work; no "gentleman," we hear in certain circles, could have written it; few real gentlemen, it is insinuated, can like to read it; no real lady, unless possessed of considerable courage, should profess having read it at all. Of Goethe's" gentility" we shall leave all men to speak that have any, even the faintest knowledge of him; and with regard to the gentility of his readers, state only the following fact. Most of us have heard of the late Queen of Prussia, and know whether or not she was genteel enough, and of real ladyhood: nay, if we must prove every thing, her character can be read in the Life of Napoleon, by Sir Walter Scott, who passes for a "judge of those matters. And yet this is what we find written in the Kunst und Alterthum for 1824.* Band v. s. 8.

Who never ate his bread in sorrow;
Who never spent the darksome hours
Weeping and watching for the morrow,
He knows you not, ye unseen Powers.
Wilhelm Meister, book ii. chap. 13.

ments, directed against Meister for its prosaic, mechanical, economical, cold-hearted, altogether Utilitarian character. We English again call Goethe a mystic: so difficult is it to please all parties! But the good, deep, nobl Novalis made the fairest amends; for notwithstanding all this, Tieck tells us, if we remember rightly, he regularly perused Meister twice a year.

est; so calm, so gay, yet so strong and deep for the purest spirit of all Art rests over it and breathes through it; "mild Wisdom is wedded in living union to Harmony divine;" the Thought of the Sage is melted, we might say, and incorporated in the liquid music of the Poet. "It is called a Romance," observes the English Translator; "but it treats not of romance characters or subjects; it has less reOn a somewhat different ground, proceeded lation to Fielding's Tom Jones, than to Spenser's quite another sort of assault from one Pust- Faery Queen." We have not forgotten what is kucher of Quedlinburg. Herr Pustkucher felt due to Spenser; yet, perhaps, beside his imafflicted, it would seem, at the want of Patriot-mortal allegory this Wanderjahre may, in fact, ism and Religion too manifest in Meister; and not unfairly be named; and with this advandetermined to take what vengeance he could. tage, that it is an allegory, not of the SevenBy way of sequel to the Apprenticeship, Goethe teenth century, but of the Nineteenth; a pichad announced his Wilhelm Meisters Wander- ture full of expressiveness, of what men are jahre, as in a state of preparation; but the striving for, and ought to strive for in these book still lingered: whereupon, in the interim, actual days. "The scene," we are further forth comes this Pustkucher with a pseudo- told, “is not laid on this firm earth; but in a Wanderjahre of his own; satirizing, according fair Utopia of Art and Science and free Activity; to ability, the spirit and principles of the Ap- the figures, light and aëriform, come unlooked prenticeship. We have seen an epigram on for, and melt away abruptly, like the pageants Pustkucker and his Wanderjahre, attributed, of Prospero, in his Enchanted Island." We with what justice we know not, to Goethe him- venture to add, that, like Prospero's Island, self; whether it is his or not, it is written in this too is drawn from the inward depths, the his name; and seems to express accurately purest sphere of poetic inspiration: ever, as enough for such a purpose the relation between we read it, the images of old Italian Art flit the parties,-in language which we had rather before us; the gay tints of Titian; the quaint not translate: grace of Domenichino; sometimes the clear, yet unfathomable depth of Rafaelle; and whatever else we have known or dreamed of in that rich old genial world.

As it is Goethe's moral sentiments, and cul So much for Pustkucher, and the rest. The ture as a man, that we have made our chief true Wanderjahre has at length appeared: the object in this survey, we would fain give some first volume has been before the world since adequate specimen of the Wanderjahre, where, 1821. This fragment, for it still continues as appears to us, these are to be traced in their such, is in our view one of the most perfect last degree of clearness and completeness. pieces of composition that Goethe has ever But to do this, to find a specimen that should produced. We have heard something of his be adequate, were difficult, or rather impossible. being at present engaged in extending or com- How shall we divide what is in itself one and pleting it: what the whole may in his hands indivisible? How shall the fraction of a combecome, we are anxious to see; but the plex picture give us any idea of the so beautiWanderjahre, even in its actual state, can ful whole? Nevertheless, we shall refer our hardly be called unfinished, as a piece of readers to the Tenth and Eleventh Chapters of writing; it coheres so beautifully within it- the Wanderjahre; where in poetic and symbolic self; and yet we see not whence the wonder- style, they will find a sketch of the nature, ous landscape came, or whither it is stretch-objects, and present ground of Religious Belief, ing; but it hangs before us as a fairy region, which, if they have ever reflected duly on that hiding its borders on this side in light sunny matter, will hardly fail to interest them. They clouds, fading away on that into the infinite will find these chapters, if we mistake not, azure: already, we might almost say, it gives worthy of deep consideration; for this is the us the notion of a completed fragment, or the merit of Goethe: his maxims will bear study, state in which a fragment, not meant for com- nay, they require it, and improve by it more pletion, might be left. and more. They come from the depths of his mind, and are not in their place till they have reached the depths of ours. The wisest man, we believe, may see in them a reflex of his own wisdom: but to him who is still learning, they become as seeds of knowledge; they take root in the mind, and ramify, as we meditate them, into a whole garden of thought. The sketch we mentioned is far too long for being extracted here: however, we give some scattered portions of it, which the reader will accept with fair allowance. As the wild suicidal Night-thoughts of Werter formed our first extract, this by way of counterpart may be the last. We must fancy Wilhelm in the "Pedagogic province," proceeding towards the "CHIEF, or the THREE,"

But apart from its environment, and considered merely in itself, this Wanderjahre seems to us a most estimable work. There is, in truth, a singular gracefulness in it; a high, melodious Wisdom; so light is it, yet so earn


Will denn von Quedlinburg aus
Ein neuer Wanderer traben?
Hat doch die Wallfisch seine Laus,
Muss auch die meine haben.

"Wenderjahre denotes the period which a German artisan is, by law or usage, obliged to pass in travelling, to perfect himself in his craft, after the conclusion of his Lehrjahre (Apprenticeship), and before his Mastership can begin. In many guilds this custom is as old as their existence, and continues still to be indispensable: it is said to have originated in the frequent journeys of the German Emperors to Italy, and the consequent improvement observed in such workmen among their menials as had attended them thither. Most of the guilds are what is called geschenkten, that is, presenting, having presents to give to needy wandering brothers."

with intent to place his son under their charge, | tion, the substance of which we now present in that wonderful region, "where he was to see in an abbreviated shape. so many singularities."

"Wilhelm had already noticed that in the cut and colour of the young people's clothes, a variety prevailed, which gave the whole tiny population a peculiar aspect: he was about to question his attendant on this point, when a still stranger observation forced itself upon him; all the children, how employed soever, laid down their work, and turned, with singular yet diverse gestures, towards the party riding past them; or rather, as it was easy to infer, towards the Overseer, who was in it. The youngest laid their arms crosswise over their breasts and looked cheerfully up to the sky; those of middle size held their hands on their backs, and looked smiling on the ground; the eldest stood with a frank and spirited air; their arms stretched down, they turned their heads to the right, and formed themselves into a line; whereas the others kept separate, each where he chanced to be.

"Since you intrust your son to us,' said they, it is fair that we admit you to a closer view of our procedure. Of what is external you have seen much that does not bear its meaning on its front. What part of this do you wish to have explained?'

"Dignified yet singular gestures of salutation I have noticed; the import of which I would gladly learn: with you, doubtless, the exterior has a reference to the interior, and inversely: let me know what this reference is.'

"Well-formed healthy children,' replied the Three, bring much into the world along with them; nature has given to each whatever he requires for time and duration; to unfold this is our duty; often it unfolds itself better of its own accord. One thing there is, however, which no child brings into the world with him; and yet it is on this one thing that all depends for making man in every point a man. If you can discover it yourself, speak it out.' Wilhelm thought a little while, then shook his head.

"The Three, after a suitable pause, exclaimed, 'Reverence!' Wilhelm seemed to hesitate. Reverence!' cried they, a second time. All want it, perhaps yourself.'


"The riders having stopped and dismounted here, as several children, in their various modes, were standing forth to be inspected by the Overseer, Wilhelm asked the meaning of these gestures; but Felix struck in and cried gaily: What posture am I to take then?' "Without doubt,' said the Overseer, the first posture; the arms over the breast, the face earnest and cheerful towards the sky.' Felix obeyed, but soon cried: 'This is not much to my taste; I see nothing up there: does it last long? But yes!' exclaimed he joyfully, 'yonder are a pair of falcons flying from the west to the east; that is a good sign too? As thou takest it, as thou behavest,' said the other: 'Now mingle among them as they mingle.' He gave a signal, and the children left their postures, and again betook them to work or sport as before."

Wilhelm a second time "asks the meaning of these gestures;" but the Overseer is not at liberty to throw much light on the matter; mentions only that they are symbolical, "nowise mere grimaces, but have a moral purport, which perhaps the CHIEF or the THREE may further explain to him." The children themselves, it would seem, only know it in part; secrecy having many advantages; for when you tell a man at once and straight forward the purpose of any object, he fancies there is nothing in it." By and by, however, having left Felix by the way, and parted with the Overseer, Wilhelm arrives at the abode of the Three "who preside over sacred things," and from whom further satisfaction is to be looked for. "Wilhelm had now reached the gate of a wooded vale, surrounded with high walls: on a certain sign, the little door opened and a man of earnest, imposing look received our traveller. The latter found himself in a large beautifully umbrageous space, decked with the "I see a glimpse of it!' said Wilhelm. 'Are richest foliage, shaded with trees and bushes not the mass of men so marred and stinted cf all sorts; while stately walls and magnificent because they take pleasure only in the element buildings were discerned only in glimpses of evil-wishing and evil-speaking? Whoever through this thick natural boscage. A friendly gives himself to this, soon comes to be indifreception from the Three, who by and by ap- ferent towards God, contemptuous towards the peared, at last turned into a general conversa- | world, spiteful towards his equals; and the true,

"Three kinds of gestures you have seen; and we inculcate a threefold reverence, which when commingled and formed into one whole, attains its full force and effect. The first is Reverence for what is Above us. That posture, the arms crossed over the breast, the look turned joyfully towards heaven; that is what we have enjoined on young children; requiring from them thereby a testimony that there is a God above, who images and reveals himself in parents, teachers, superiors. Then comes the second; Reverence for what is Under us. Those hands folded over the back, and as it were tied together, that down-turned smiling look, announce that we are to regard the earth with attention and cheerfulness: from the bounty of the earth we are nourished: the earth affords unutterable joys; but disproportionate sorrows she also brings us. Should one of our children do himself external hurt, blamably or blamelessly; should others hurt him accidentally or purposely; should dead involuntary matter do him hurt; then let him well consider it; for such dangers will attend him all his days. But from this posture we delay no to free our pupil, the instant we become convinced that the instruction connected with it has produced sufficient influence on him Then, on the contrary, we bid him gather courage, and, turning to his comrades, range himself along with them. Now, at last, he stands forth, frank and bold; not selfishly isolated; only in combination with his equals does he front the world. Further we have nothing to add.'

genuine, indispensable sentiment of self-estimation corrupts into self-conceit and presumption. Allow me, however,' continued he, to state one difficulty. You say that reverence is not natural to man: now has not the reverence or fear of rude people for violent convulsions of nature, or other inexplicable mysteriously foreboding occurrences, been heretofore regarded as the germ out of which a higher feeling, a purer sentiment, was by degrees to be developed?'

"Nature is indeed adequate to fear,' replied they, but to reverence not adequate. Men fear a known or unknown powerful being; the strong seeks to conquer it, the weak to avoid it: both endeavour to get quit of it, and feel themselves happy when for a short season they have put it aside, and their nature has in some degree restored itself to freedom and independence. The natural man repeats this operation millions of times in the course of his life; from fear he struggles to freedom; from freedom he is driven back to fear, and so makes no advancement. To fear is easy, but grievous; to reverence is difficult, but satisfactory. Man does not willingly submit himself to reverence, or rather he never so submits himself: it is a higher sense which must be communicated to his nature; which only in some favoured individuals unfolds itself spontaneously, who on this account too have of old been looked upon as Saints and Gods. Here lies the worth, here lies the business of all true Religions, whereof there are likewise only three, according to the objects towards which they direct our devotion.'

was it not only to be patient with the Earth, and let it lie beneath us, we appealing to a higher birthplace; but also to recognise humility and poverty, mockery and despite, disgrace and wretchedness, suffering and death, to recognise these things as divine; nay, even on sin and crime to look not as hindrances, but to honour and love them as furtherances, of what is holy. Of this, indeed, we find some traces in all ages; but the trace is not the goal; and this being now attained, the human species cannot retrograde; and we may say that the Christian Religion, having once appeared, cannot again vanish; having once assumed its divine shape, can be subject to no dissolution.' "To which of these Religions do you spe cially adhere?' inquired Wilhelm.

"To all the three,' replied they, 'for in their union they produce what may properly be called the true Religion. Out of those three Reverences springs the highest Reverence, Reverence for One's self, and these again unfold themselves from this; so that man attains the highest elevation of which he is capable, that of being justified in reckoning himself the Best that God and Nature have produced; nay, of being able to continue on this lofty eminence, without being again by self-conceit and presumption drawn down from it into the vulgar level.""

The Three undertake to admit him into the interior of their Sanctuary; whither, accordingly, he, " at the hand of the Eldest," proceeds on the morrow. Sorry are we that we cannot follow them into the "octagonal hall," so full of paintings, and the "gallery open on one side, and stretching round a spacious, gay, flowery garden." It is a beautiful figurative representation, by pictures and symbols of Art, of the First and the Second Religions, the Ethnic and the Philosophical; for the former of which the pictures have been composed from the Old Testament; for the latter from the New. We can only make room for some small portions.

"I observe,' said Wilhelm, 'you have done the Israelites the honour to select their history as the groundwork of this delineation, or ra ther you have made it the leading object there.

"As you see,' replied the Eldest; 'for you will remark, that on the socles and friezes we have introduced another series of transactions and occurrences, not so much of a synchronistic as of a symphronistic kind; since, among all nations, we discover records of a similar import, and grounded on the same facts. Thus you perceive here, while, in the main field of the picture, Abraham receives a visit from his gods in the form of fair youths, Apollo among the herdsmen of Admetus is painted above on the frieze. From which we may learn, that the gods, when they appear to men, are com. monly unrecognised of them.'

"The men paused; Wilhelm reflected for a time in silence; but feeling in himself no pretensions to unfold these strange words, he requested the Sages to proceed with their exposition. They immediately complied. No Religion that grounds itself on fear,' said they, 'is regarded among us. With the reverence to which a man should give dominion in his mind, he can, in paying honour, keep his own honour; he is not disunited with himself as in the former case. The Religion, which depends on Reverence for what is Above us, we denominate the Ethnic; it is the Religion of the Nations, and the first happy deliverance from a degrading fear; all Heathen religions, as we call them, are of this sort, whatsoever names they may bear. The Second Religion, which founds itself on Reverence for what is Around us, we denominate the Philosophical; for the Philosopher stations himself in the middle, and must draw down to him all that is higher, and up to him all that is lower, and only in this medium condition does he merit the title of Wise. Here, as he surveys with clear sight his relation to his equals, and therefore to the whole human race, his relation likewise to all other earthly circumstances and arrangements "The friends walked on. Wilhelm, for the necessary or accidental, he alone, in a cosmic most part, met with well-known objects; but sense, lives in Truth. But now we have to they were here exhibited in a "velier, more speak of the Third Religion, grounded on Re- expressive manner, than he had been used to verence for what is Under us; this we name see them. On some few matters, he requested the Christian; as in the Christian Religion explanation, and at last could not help returnsuch a temper is the most distinctly manifest- ing to his former question: Why the Israed; it is a last step to which mankind were elitish history had been chosen in preference fitted and destined to attain. But what a task to all others?'

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