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Title: Friedrich Nietzsche
Author: Brandes, Georg
Language: English
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[Illustration: Sculptor: J. Davidson.--Photo: A. Langdon Coburn.]





Friedrich Nietzsche appears to me the most interesting writer in German
literature at the present time. Though little known even in his own
country, he is a thinker of a high order, who fully deserves to be
studied, discussed, contested and mastered. Among many good qualities
he has that of imparting his mood to others and setting their thoughts
in motion.

During a period of eighteen years Nietzsche has written a long series
of books and pamphlets. Most of these volumes consist of aphorisms,
and of these the greater part, as well as the more original, are
concerned with moral prejudices. In this province will be found his
lasting importance. But besides this he has dealt with the most varied
problems; he has written on culture and history, on art and women,
on companionship and solitude, on the State and society, on life's
struggle and death.

He was born on October 15, 1844; studied philology; became in 1869
professor of philology at Basle; made the acquaintance of Richard
Wagner and became warmly attached to him, and associated also with
the distinguished historian of the Renaissance, Jakob Burkhardt.
Nietzsche's admiration and affection for Burkhardt were lasting. His
feeling for Wagner, on the other hand, underwent a complete revulsion
in the course of years. From having been Wagner's prophet he developed
into his most passionate opponent.

Nietzsche was always heart and soul a musician; he even tried his
hand as a composer in his _Hymn to Life_ (for chorus and orchestra,
1888), and his intercourse with Wagner left deep traces in his earliest
writings. But the opera of Parsifal, with its tendency to Catholicism
and its advancement of the ascetic ideals which had previously been
entirely foreign to Wagner, caused Nietzsche to see in the great
composer a danger, an enemy, a morbid phenomenon, since this last work
showed him all the earlier operas in a new light.

During his residence in Switzerland Nietzsche came to know a large
circle of interesting people. He suffered, however, from extremely
severe headaches, so frequent that they incapacitated him for about two
hundred days in the year and brought him to the verge of the grave.
In 1879 he resigned his professorship. From 1882 to 1888 his state of
health improved, though extremely slowly. His eyes were still so weak
that he was threatened with blindness. He was compelled to be extremely
careful in his mode of life and to choose his place of residence in
obedience to climatic and meteorological conditions. He usually spent
the winter at Nice and the summer at Sils-Maria in the Upper Engadine.
The years 1887 and 1888 were astonishingly rich in production; they
saw the publication of the most remarkable works of widely different
nature and the preparation of a whole series of new books. Then, at
the close of the latter year, perhaps as the result of overstrain, a
violent attack of mental disorder occurred, from which Nietzsche never

As a thinker his starting-point is Schopenhauer; in his first books
he is actually his disciple. But, after several years of silence,
during which he passes through his first intellectual crisis, he
reappears emancipated from all ties of discipleship. He then undergoes
so powerful and rapid a development--less in his thought itself than
in the courage to express his thoughts--that each succeeding book
marks a fresh stage, until by degrees he concentrates himself upon
a single fundamental question, the question of moral values. On his
earliest appearance as a thinker he had already entered a protest,
in opposition to David Strauss, against any moral interpretation of
the nature of the Cosmos and assigned to our morality its place in
the world of phenomena, now as semblance or error, now as artificial
arrangement. And his literary activity reached its highest point in an
investigation of the origin of the moral concepts, while it was his
hope and intention to give to the world an exhaustive criticism of
moral values, an examination of the value of these values (regarded as
fixed once for all). The first book of his work, _The Transvaluation of
all Values_, was completed when his malady declared itself.

[1] "The expression 'aristocratic radicalism,' which you employ, is
very good. It is, permit me to say, the cleverest thing I have yet read
about myself,"--Nietzsche, Dec. 2, 1887.


Nietzsche first received a good deal of notice, though not much
commendation, for a caustic and juvenile polemical pamphlet against
David Strauss, occasioned by the latter's book, _The Old Faith and
the New_. His attack, irreverent in tone, is directed not against the
first, warlike section of the book, but against the constructive and
complementary section. The attack, however, is less concerned with the
once great critic's last effort than with the mediocracy in Germany,
to which Strauss's last word represented the last word of culture in

A year and a half had elapsed since the close of the Franco-German War.
Never had the waves of German self esteem run so high. The exultation
of victory had passed into a tumultuous self-glorification. The
universal view was that German culture had vanquished French. Then this
voice made itself heard, saying--

Admitting that this was really a conflict between two civilisations,
there would still be no reason for crowning the victorious one; we
should first have to know what the vanquished one was worth; if its
value was very slight--and this is what is said of French culture--then
there was no great honour in the victory. But in the next place there
can be no question at all in this case of a victory of German culture;
partly because French culture still persists, and partly because
the Germans, now as heretofore, are dependent on it. It was military
discipline, natural bravery, endurance, superiority on the part of the
leaders and obedience on the part of the led, in short, _factors that
have nothing to do with culture_, which gave Germany the victory. But
finally and above all, German culture was not victorious for the good
reason that Germany as yet has nothing that can be called culture.

It was then only a year since Nietzsche himself had formed the greatest
expectations of Germany's future, had looked forward to her speedy
liberation from the leading-strings of Latin civilisation, and heard
the most favourable omens in German music.[2] The intellectual decline,
which seemed to him--rightly, no doubt--to date indisputably from the
foundation of the Empire, now made him oppose a ruthless defiance to
the prevailing popular sentiment.

He maintains that culture shows itself above all else in a unity of
artistic style running through every expression of a nation's life. On
the other hand, the fact of having learnt much and knowing much is,
as he points out, neither a necessary means to culture nor a sign of
culture; it accords remarkably well with barbarism, that is to say,
with want of style or a motley hotchpotch of styles. And his contention
is simply this, that with a culture consisting of hotchpotch it is
impossible to subdue any enemy, above all an enemy like the French,
who have long possessed a genuine and productive culture, whether we
attribute a greater or a lesser value to it.

He appeals to a saying of Goethe to Eckermann: "We Germans are of
yesterday. No doubt in the last hundred years we have been cultivating
ourselves quite diligently, but it may take a few centuries yet before
our countrymen have absorbed sufficient intellect and higher culture
for it to be said of them that it is a long time since they were

To Nietzsche, as we see, the concepts of culture and homogeneous
culture are equivalent. In order to be homogeneous a culture must
have reached a certain age and have become strong enough in its
peculiar character to have penetrated all forms of life. Homogeneous
culture, however, is of course not the same thing as native culture.
Ancient Iceland had a homogeneous culture, though its flourishing
was brought about precisely by active intercourse with Europe; a
homogeneous culture existed in Italy at the time of the Renaissance, in
England in the sixteenth, in France in the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries, although Italy built up her culture of Greek, Roman and
Spanish impressions, France hers of classical, Celtic, Spanish and
Italian elements, and although the English are the mixed race beyond
all others. True, it is only a century and a half since the Germans
began to liberate themselves from French culture, and hardly more
than a hundred years since they entirely escaped from the Frenchmen's
school, whose influence may nevertheless be traced even to-day: but
still no one can justly deny the existence of a German culture, even if
it is yet comparatively young and in a state of growth. Nor will any
one who has a sense for the agreement between German music and German
philosophy, an ear for the harmony between German music and German
lyrical poetry, an eye for the merits and defects of German painting
and sculpture, which are the outcome of the same fundamental tendency
that is revealed in the whole intellectual and emotional life of
Germany, be disposed in advance to deny Germany a homogeneous culture.
More precarious will be the state of such smaller countries whose
dependence on foreign nations has not unfrequently been a dependence
raised to the second power.

To Nietzsche, however, this point is of relatively small importance.
He is convinced that the last hour of national cultures is at hand,
since the time cannot be far off when it will only be a question of a
European or European-American culture. He argues from the fact that
the most highly developed people in every country already feel as
Europeans, as fellow-countrymen, nay, as confederates, and from the
belief that the twentieth century must bring with it the war for the
dominion of the world.

When, therefore, from the result of this war a tempestuous wind sweeps
over all national vanities, bending and breaking them, what will then
be the question?

The question will then be, thinks Nietzsche, in exact agreement with
the most eminent Frenchmen of our day, whether by that time it has been
possible to train or rear a sort of caste of pre-eminent spirits who
will be able to grasp the central power.

The real misfortune is, therefore, not that a country is still without
a genuine, homogeneous and perfected culture, but that it thinks
itself cultured. And with his eye upon Germany Nietzsche asks how it
has come about that so prodigious a contradiction can exist as that
between the lack of true culture and the self-satisfied belief in
actually possessing the only true one--and he finds the answer in
the circumstance that a class of men has come to the front which no
former century has known, and to which (in 1873) he gave the name of

The Culture-Philistine regards his own impersonal education as the real
culture; if he has been told that culture presupposes a homogeneous
stamp of mind, he is confirmed in his good opinion of himself, since
everywhere he meets with educated people of his own sort, and since
schools, universities and academies are adapted to his requirements
and fashioned on the model corresponding to his cultivation. Since
he finds almost everywhere the same tacit conventions with respect
to religion, morality and literature, with respect to marriage, the
family, the community and the State, he considers it demonstrated that
this imposing homogeneity is culture. It never enters his head that
this systematic and well-organised philistinism, which is set up in
all high places and installed at every editorial desk, is not by any
means made culture just because its organs are in concert. It is not
even bad culture, says Nietzsche; it is barbarism fortified to the best
of its ability, but entirely lacking the freshness and savage force of
original barbarism; and he has many graphic expressions to describe
Culture-Philistinism as the morass in which all weariness is stuck
fast, and in the poisonous mists of which all endeavour languishes.

All of us are now born into the society of cultured philistinism, in
it we all grow up. It confronts us with prevailing opinions, which we
unconsciously adopt; and even when opinions are divided, the division
is only into party opinions--public opinions.

An aphorism of Nietzsche's reads: "What is public opinion? It is
private indolence." The dictum requires qualification. There are cases
where public opinion is worth something: John Morley has written a good
book on the subject. In the face of certain gross breaches of faith
and law, certain monstrous violations of human rights, public opinion
may now and then assert itself as a power worthy to be followed.
Otherwise it is as a rule a factory working for the benefit of

On entering life, then, young people meet with various collective
opinions, more or less narrow-minded. The more the individual has it
in him to become a real personality, the more he will resist following
a herd. But even if an inner voice says to him: "Become thyself! Be
thyself!" he hears its appeal with despondency. Has he a self? He does
not know; he is not yet aware of it.

He therefore looks about for a teacher, an educator, one who will teach
him, not something foreign, but how to become his own individual self.

We had in Denmark a great man who with impressive force exhorted his
contemporaries to become individuals. But Sören Kierkegaard's appeal
was not intended to be taken so unconditionally as it sounded. For
the goal was fixed. They were to become individuals, not in order to
develop into free personalities, but in order by this means to become
true Christians. Their freedom was only apparent; above them was
suspended a "Thou shalt believe!" and a "Thou shalt obey!" Even as
individuals they had a halter round their necks, and on the farther
side of the narrow passage of individualism, through which the herd was
driven, the herd awaited them again--one flock, one shepherd.

It is not with this idea of immediately resigning his personality again
that the young man in our day desires to become himself and seeks an
educator. He will not have a dogma set up before him, at which he is
expected to arrive. But he has an uneasy feeling that he is packed with
dogmas. How is he to find himself in himself, how is he to dig himself
out of himself? This is where the educator should help him. An educator
can only be a liberator.

It was a liberating educator of this kind that Nietzsche as a young man
looked for and found in Schopenhauer. Such a one will be found by every
seeker in the personality that has the most liberating effect on him
during his period of development. Nietzsche says that as soon as he had
read a single page of Schopenhauer, he knew he would read every page of
him and pay heed to every word, even to the errors he might find. Every
intellectual aspirant will be able to name men whom he has read in this

It is true that for Nietzsche, as for any other aspirant, there
remained one more step to be taken, that of liberating himself from
the liberator. We find in his earliest writings certain favourite
expressions of Schopenhauer's which no longer appear in his later
works. But the liberation is here a tranquil development to
independence, throughout which he retains his deep gratitude; not, as
in his relations with Wagner, a violent revulsion which leads him to
deny any value to the works he had once regarded as the most valuable
of all.

He praises Schopenhauer's lofty honesty, beside which he can only
place Montaigne's, his lucidity, his constancy, and the purity of his
relations with society, State and State-religion, which are in such
sharp contrast with those of Kant. With Schopenhauer there is never a
concession, never a dallying.

And Nietzsche is astounded by the fact that Schopenhauer could endure
life in Germany at all. A modern Englishman has said: "Shelley could
never have lived in England: a race of Shelleys would have been
impossible." Spirits of this kind are early broken, then become
melancholy, morbid or insane. The society of the Culture-Philistines
makes life a burden to exceptional men. Examples of this occur in
plenty in the literature of every country, and the trial is constantly
being made. We need only think of the number of talented men who sooner
or later make their apologies and concessions to philistinism, so
as to be permitted to exist. But even in the strongest the vain and
weary struggle with Culture-Philistinism shows itself in lines and
wrinkles. Nietzsche quotes the saying of the old diplomatist, who had
only casually seen and spoken to Goethe: "_Voilà un homme qui a eu
de grands chagrins_," and Goethe's comment, when repeating it to his
friends: "If the traces of our sufferings and activities are indelible
even in our features, it is no wonder that all that survives of us and
our struggles should bear the same marks." And this is Goethe, who is
looked upon as the favourite of fortune!

Schopenhauer, as is well known, was until his latest years a solitary
man. No one understood him, no one read him. The greater part of the
first edition of his work, _Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung_, had to
be sold as waste paper.

In our day Taine's view has widely gained ground, that the great man is
entirely determined by the age whose child he is, that he unconsciously
sums it up and ought consciously to give it expression.[3] But
although, of course, the great man does not stand outside the course of
history and must always depend upon predecessors, an idea nevertheless
always germinates in a single individual or in a few individuals; and
these individuals are not scattered points in the low-lying mass, but
highly gifted ones who draw the mass to them instead of being drawn by
it. What is called the spirit of the age originates in quite a small
number of brains.

Nietzsche who, mainly no doubt through Schopenhauer's influence, had
originally been strongly impressed by the dictum that the great man is
not the child of his age but its step-child, demands that the educator
shall help the young to educate themselves _in opposition to the age_.

It appears to him that the modern age has produced for imitation three
particular types of man, one after the other. First Rousseau's man; the
Titan who raises himself, oppressed and bound by the higher castes, and
in his need calls upon holy Nature. Then Goethe's man; not Werther or
the revolutionary figures related to him, who are still derived from
Rousseau, nor the original Faust figure, but Faust as he gradually
develops. He is no liberator, but a spectator, of the world. He is not
the man of action. Nietzsche reminds us of Jarno's words to Wilhelm
Meister: "You are vexed and bitter, that is a very good thing. If you
could be thoroughly angry for once, it would be better still."

To become thoroughly angry in order to make things better, this,
in the view of the Nietzsche of thirty, will be the exhortation of
Schopenhauer's man. This man voluntarily takes upon himself the pain of
telling the truth. His fundamental idea is this: A life of happiness is
impossible; the highest a man can attain to is a heroic life, one in
which he fights against the greatest difficulties for something which,
in one way or another, will be for the good of all. To what is truly
human, only true human beings can raise us; those who seem to have
come into being by a leap in Nature; thinkers and educators, artists
and creators, and those who influence us more by their nature than by
their activity: the noble, the good in a grand style, those in whom the
genius of good is at work.

These men are the aim of history.

Nietzsche formulates this proposition: "Humanity must work unceasingly
for the production of solitary great men--this and nothing else is its
task." This is the same formula at which several aristocratic spirits
among his contemporaries have arrived. Thus Renan says, almost in the
same words: "In fine, the object of humanity is the production of great
men ... nothing but great men; salvation will come from great men." And
we see from Flaubert's letters to George Sand how convinced he was of
the same thing. He says, for instance: "The only rational thing is and
always will be a government of mandarins, provided that the mandarins
can do something, or rather, can do much.... It matters little whether
a greater or smaller number of peasants are able to read instead of
listening to their priest, but it is infinitely important that many men
like Renan and Littré may live and be heard. Our salvation now lies in
a real aristocracy."[4] Both Renan and Flaubert would have subscribed
to Nietzsche's fundamental idea that a nation is the roundabout way
Nature goes in order to produce a dozen great men.

Yet, although the idea does not lack advocates, this does not make it
a dominant thought in European philosophy. In Germany, for instance,
Eduard von Hartmann thinks very differently of the aim--of history. His
published utterances on the subject are well known. In conversation he
once hinted how his idea had originated in his mind: "It was clear to
me long ago," he said, "that history, or, to use a wider expression,
the world process, must have an aim, and that this aim could only be
negative. For a golden age is too foolish a figment." Hence his visions
of a destruction of the world voluntarily brought about by the most
gifted men. And connected with this is his doctrine that humanity has
now reached man's estate, that is, has passed the stage of development
in which geniuses were necessary.

In the face of all this talk of the world process, the aim of which is
annihilation or deliverance--deliverance even of the suffering godhead
from existence--Nietzsche takes a very sober and sensible stand with
his simple belief that the goal of humanity is not to be infinitely
deferred, but must be found in the highest examples of humanity itself.

And herewith he has arrived at his final answer to the question, What
is culture? For upon this relation depend the fundamental idea of
culture and the duties culture imposes. It imposes on me the duty of
associating myself by my own activity with the great human ideals. Its
fundamental idea is this: it assigns to every individual who wishes to
work for it and participate in it, the task of striving to produce,
within and without himself, the thinker and artist, the lover of truth
and beauty, the pure and good personality, and thereby striving for the
perfection of Nature, towards the goal of a perfected Nature.

When does a state of culture prevail? When the men of a community are
steadily working for the production of single great men. From this
highest aim all the others follow. And what state is farthest removed
from a state of culture? That in which men energetically and with
united forces resist the appearance of great men, partly by preventing
the cultivation of the soil required for the growth of genius, partly
by obstinately opposing everything in the shape of genius that appears
amongst them. Such a state is more remote from culture than that of
sheer barbarism.

But does such a state exist? perhaps some one will ask. Most of the
smaller nations will be able to read the answer in the history of their
native land. It will there be seen, in proportion as "refinement"
grows, that the refined atmosphere is diffused, which is unfavourable
to genius. And this is all the more serious, since many people think
that in modern times and in the races which now share the dominion of
the world among them, a political community of only a few millions is
seldom sufficiently numerous to produce minds of the very first order.
It looks as if geniuses could only be distilled from some thirty or
forty millions of people. Norway with Ibsen, Belgium with Maeterlinck
and Verhaeren are exceptions. All the more reason is there for the
smaller communities to work at culture to their utmost capacity.

In recent times we have become familiar with the thought that the goal
to be aimed at is happiness, the happiness of all, or at any rate of
the greatest number. Wherein happiness consists is less frequently
discussed, and yet it is impossible to avoid the question, whether a
year, a day, an hour in Paradise does not bring more happiness than a
lifetime in the chimney-corner. But be that as it may: owing to our
familiarity with the notion of making sacrifices for a whole country,
a multitude of people, it appears unreasonable that a man should exist
for the sake of a few other men, that it should be his duty to devote
his life to them in order thereby to promote culture. But nevertheless
the answer to the question of culture--how the individual human life
may acquire its highest value and its greatest significance--must be:
By being lived for the benefit of the rarest and most valuable examples
of the human race. This will also be the way in which the individual
can best impart a value to the life of the greatest number.

In our day a so-called cultural institution means an organisation in
virtue of which the "cultured" advance in serried ranks and thrust
aside all solitary and obstinate men whose efforts are directed to
higher ends; therefore even the learned are as a rule lacking in any
sense for budding genius and any feeling for the value of struggling
contemporary genius. Therefore, in spite of the indisputable and
restless progress in all technical and specialised departments, the
conditions necessary to the appearance of great men are so far from
having improved, that dislike of genius has rather increased than

From the State the exceptional individual cannot expect much. He is
seldom benefited by being taken into its service; the only certain
advantage it can give him is complete independence. Only real culture
will prevent his being too early tired out or used up, and will spare
him the exhausting struggle against Culture-Philistinism.

Nietzsche's value lies in his being one of these vehicles of culture:
a mind which, itself independent, diffuses independence and may become
to others a liberating force, such as Schopenhauer was to Nietzsche
himself in his younger days.

[2] _The Birth of Tragedy_, p. 150 ff. (English edition).

[3] The author of these lines has not made himself the advocate of this
view, as has sometimes been publicly stated, but on the contrary has
opposed it. After some uncertainty I pronounced against it as early
as 1870, in _Den franske Æsthetik i vore Dage_, pp. 105, 106, and
afterwards in many other places.

[4] Nietzsche; _Thoughts out of Season_, II., p. 155 f. (English
edition). Renan: _Dialogues et Fragments Philosophiques_, p. 103.
Flaubert: _Lettres à George Sand_, p. 139 ff.


Four of Nietzsche's early works bear the collective title, _Thoughts
out of Season_ (_Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen_), a title which is
significant of his early-formed determination to go against the stream.

One of the fields in which he opposed the spirit of the age in Germany
is that of education, since he condemns in the most uncompromising
fashion the entire historical system of education of which Germany is
proud, and which as a rule is everywhere regarded as desirable.

His view is that what keeps the race from breathing freely and
willing boldly is that it drags far too much of its past about with
it, like a round-shot chained to a convict's leg. He thinks it is
historical education that fetters the race both in enjoyment and in
action, since he who cannot concentrate himself on the moment and live
entirely in it, can neither feel happiness himself nor do anything
to make others happy. Without the power of feeling unhistorically,
there is no happiness. And in the same way, forgetfulness, or rather,
non-knowledge of the past is essential to all action. Forgetfulness,
the unhistorical, is as it were the enveloping air, the atmosphere,
in which alone life can come into being. In order to understand it,
let us imagine a youth who is seized with a passion for a woman, or
a man who is swayed by a passion for his work. In both cases what
lies behind them has ceased to exist--and yet this state (the most
unhistorical that can be imagined) is that in which every action, every
great deed is conceived and accomplished. Now answering to this, says
Nietzsche, there exists a certain degree of historical knowledge which
is destructive of a man's energy and fatal to the productive powers of
a nation.

In this reasoning we can hear the voice of the learned German
philologist, whose observations have mostly been drawn from German
scholars and artists. For it would be unreasonable to suppose that the
commercial or peasant class, the soldiers or manufacturers of Germany
suffered from an excess of historical culture. But even in the case of
German savants, authors and artists the evil here pointed out may be of
such a nature as not to admit of remedy by simply abolishing historical
education. Those men whose productive impulse has been checked or
killed by historical studies were already so impotent and ineffective
that the world would not have been enriched by their productions. And
moreover, what paralyses is not so much the heterogeneous mass of
dead historical learning (about the actions of governments, political
chess-moves, military achievements, artistic styles, etc.), as the
knowledge of certain great minds of the past, by the side of whose
production anything that can be shown by a man now living appears so
insignificant as to make it a matter of indifference whether his
work sees the light or not. Goethe alone is enough to reduce a young
German poet to despair. But a hero-worshipper like Nietzsche cannot
consistently desire to curtail our knowledge of the greatest.

The want of artistic courage and intellectual boldness has certainly
deeper-lying causes; above all, the disintegration of the individuality
which the modern order of society involves. Strong men can carry a
heavy load of history without becoming incapacitated for living.

But what is interesting and significant of Nietzsche's whole
intellectual standpoint is his inquiry as to how far life is able
to make use of history. History, in his view, belongs to him who
is fighting a great fight, and who needs examples, teachers and
comforters, but cannot find them among his contemporaries. Without
history the mountain chain of great men's great moments, which runs
through milleniums, could not stand clearly and vividly before me. When
one sees, that it only took about a hundred men to bring in the culture
of the Renaissance; it may easily be supposed, for example, that a
hundred productive minds, trained in a new style, would be enough to
make an end of Culture-Philistinism. On the other hand, history may
have pernicious effects in the hands of unproductive men. Thus young
artists are driven into galleries instead of out into nature, and are
sent, with minds still unformed, to centres of art, where they lose
courage. And in all its forms history may render men unfit for life;
in its _monumental_ form by evoking the illusion that there are such
things as fixed, recurring historical conjunctions, so that what has
once been possible is now, in entirely altered conditions, possible
again; in its _antiquarian_ form by awakening a feeling of piety for
ancient, bygone things, which paralyses the man of action, who must
always outrage some piety or other; finally in its _critical_ form
by giving rise to the depressing feeling that the very errors of the
past, which we are striving to overcome, are inherited in our blood
and impressed on our childhood, so that we live in a continual inner
conflict between an old and a new nature.

On this point, as on others already alluded to, Nietzsche's quarrel is
ultimately with the broken-winded education of the present day. That
_education_ and _historical education_ have in our time almost become
synonymous terms, is to him a mournful sign. It has been irretrievably
forgotten that culture ought to be what it was with the Greeks: a
motive, a prompting to resolution; nowadays culture is commonly
described as inwardness, because it is a dead internal lump, which
does not stir its possessor. The most "educated" people are walking
encyclopædias. When they act, they do so in virtue of a universally
approved, miserable convention, or else from simple barbarism.

With this reflection, no doubt of general application, is connected a
complaint which was bound to be evoked by modern literary Germany in
particular; the complaint of the oppressive effect of the greatness
of former times, as shown in the latter-day man's conviction that he
is a latecomer, an after-birth of a greater age, who may indeed teach
himself history, but can never produce it.

Even philosophy, Nietzsche complains, with a side-glance at the German
universities, has been more and more transformed into the history of
philosophy, a teaching of what everybody has thought about everything;
"a sort of harmless gossip between academic grey-beards and academic
sucklings." It is boasted as a point of honour that freedom of thought
exists in various countries. In reality it is only a poor sort of
freedom. One may think in a hundred ways, but one may only act in one
way--and that is the way that is called "culture" and is in reality
"only a form, and what is more a bad form, a uniform."

Nietzsche attacks the view which regards the historically cultured
person as the justest of all. We honour the historian who aims at pure
knowledge, from which nothing follows. But there are many trivial
truths, and it is a misfortune that whole battalions of inquirers
should fling themselves upon them, even if these narrow minds belong to
honest men. The historian is looked upon as objective when he measures
the past by the popular opinions of his own time, as subjective when
he does not take these opinions for models. That man is thought best
fitted to depict a period of the past, who is not in the least affected
by that period. But only he who has a share in building up the future
can grasp what the past has been, and only when transformed into a work
of art can history arouse or even sustain instincts.

As historical education is now conducted, the mass of impressions
communicated is so great as to produce numbness, a feeling of being
born old of an old stock--although less than thirty human lives,
reckoned at seventy years each, divide us from the beginning of our
era. And with this is connected the immense superstition of the
value and significance of universal history. Schiller's phrase is
everlastingly repeated: "The history of the world is the tribunal of
the world," as though there could be any other historical tribunal
than thought; and the Hegelian view of history as the ever-clearer
self-revelation of the godhead has obstinately held its own, only that
it has gradually passed into sheer admiration of success, an approval
of any and every fact, be it never so brutal. But greatness has nothing
to do with results or with success. Demosthenes, who spoke in vain, is
greater than Philip, who was always victorious. Everything in our day
is thought to be in order, if only it be an accomplished fact; even
when a man of genius dies in the fulness of his powers, proofs are
forthcoming that he died at the right time. And the fragment of history
we possess is entitled "the world process"; men cudgel their brains,
like Eduard von Hartmann, in trying to find out its origin and final
goal--which seems to be a waste of time. Why you exist, says Nietzsche
with Sören Kierkegaard, nobody in the world can tell you in advance;
but since you do exist, try to give your existence a meaning by setting
up for yourself as lofty and noble a goal as you can.

Significant of Nietzsche's aristocratic tendency, so marked later, is
his anger with the deference paid by modern historians to the masses.
Formerly, he argues, history was written from the standpoint of the
rulers; it was occupied exclusively with them, however mediocre or
bad they might be. Now it has crossed over to the standpoint of the
masses. But the masses--they are only to be regarded as one of three
things: either as copies of great personalities, bad copies, clumsily
produced in a poor material, or as foils to the great, or finally
as their tools. Otherwise they are matter for statisticians to deal
with, who find so-called historical laws in the instincts of the
masses--aping, laziness, hunger and sexual impulse. What has set the
mass in motion for any length of time is then called great. It is given
the name of a historical power. When, for example, the vulgar mob has
appropriated or adapted to its needs some religious idea, has defended
it stubbornly and dragged it along for centuries, then the originator
of that idea is called great. There is the testimony of thousands of
years for it, we are told. But--this is Nietzsche's and Kierkegaard's
idea--the noblest and highest does not affect the masses at all, either
at the moment or later. Therefore the historical success of a religion,
its toughness and persistence, witness against its founder's greatness
rather than for it.

When an instance is required of one of the few enterprises in history
that have been completely successful, the Reformation is commonly
chosen. Against the significance of this success Nietzsche does not
urge the facts usually quoted: its early secularisation by Luther;
his compromises with those in power; the interest of princes in
emancipating themselves from the mastery of the Church and laying
hands on its estates, while at the same time securing a submissive and
dependent clergy instead of one independent of the State. He sees the
chief cause of the success of the Reformation in the uncultured state
of the nations of northern Europe. Many attempts at founding new Greek
religions came to naught in antiquity. Although men like Pythagoras,
Plato, perhaps Empedocles, had qualifications as founders of religions,
the individuals they had to deal with were far too diversified in their
nature to be helped by a common doctrine of faith and hope. In contrast
with this, the success of Luther's Reformation in the North was an
indication that northern culture was behind that of southern Europe.
The people either blindly obeyed a watchword from above, like a flock
of sheep; or, where conversion was a matter of conscience, it revealed
how little individuality there was among a population which was found
to be so homogeneous in its spiritual needs. In the same way, too, the
original conversion of pagan antiquity was only successful on account
of the abundant intermixture of barbarian with Roman blood which had
taken place. The new doctrine was forced upon the masters of the world
by barbarians and slaves.

The reader now has examples of the arguments Nietzsche employs
in support of his proposition that history is not so sound and
strengthening an educational factor as is thought: only he who has
learnt to know life and is equipped for action has use for history and
is capable of applying it; others are oppressed by it and rendered
unproductive by being made to feel themselves late-comers, or are
induced to worship success in every field.

Nietzsche's contribution to this question is a plea against every sort
of historical optimism; but he energetically repudiates the ordinary
pessimism, which is the result of degenerate or enfeebled instincts--of
decadence. He preaches with youthful enthusiasm the triumph of a
_tragic_ culture, introduced by an intrepid rising generation, in
which the spirit of ancient Greece might be born again. He rejects the
pessimism of Schopenhauer, for he already abhors all renunciation; but
he seeks a pessimism of healthiness, one derived from strength, from
exuberant power, and he believes he has found it in the Greeks. He has
developed this view in the learned and profound work of his youth, _The
Birth of Tragedy, or Hellenism and Pessimism_, in which he introduced
two new terms, _Apollonian_ and _Dionysian_. The two Greek deities of
art, Apollo and Dionysus, denote the antithesis between plastic art and
music. The former corresponds to dreaming, the latter to drunkenness.
In dreams the forms of the gods first appeared to men; dreams are the
world of beauteous appearance. If, on the other hand, we look down into
man's lowest depths, below the spheres of thought and imagination, we
come upon a world of terror and rapture, the realm of Dionysus. Above
reign beauty, measure and proportion; but underneath the profusion of
Nature surges freely in pleasure and pain. Regarded from Nietzsche's
later standpoint, the deeper motive of this searching absorption in
Hellenic antiquity becomes apparent. Even at this early stage he
suspects, in what passes for morality, a disparaging principle directed
against Nature; he looks for its essential antithesis, and finds it
in the purely artistic principle, farthest removed from Christianity,
which he calls Dionysian.

Our author's main psychological features are now clearly apparent. What
kind of a nature is it that carries this savage hatred of philistinism
even as far as to David Strauss? An artist's nature, obviously. What
kind of a writer is it who warns us with such firm conviction against
the dangers of historical culture? A philologist obviously, who has
experienced them in himself, has felt himself threatened with becoming
a mere aftermath and tempted to worship historical success. What kind
of a nature is it that so passionately defines culture as the worship
of genius? Certainly no Eckermann-nature, but an enthusiast, willing
at the outset to obey where he cannot command, but quick to recognise
his own masterful bias, and to see that humanity is far from having
outgrown the ancient antithetical relation of commanding and obeying.
The appearance of Napoleon is to him, as to many others, a proof of
this; in the joy that thrilled thousands, when at last they saw one who
knew how to command.

But in the sphere of ethics he is not disposed to preach obedience. On
the contrary, constituted as he is, he sees the apathy and meanness of
our modern morality in the fact that it still upholds obedience as the
highest moral commandment, instead of the power of dictating to one's
self one's own morality.

His military schooling and participation in the war of 1870-71 probably
led to his discovery of a hard and manly quality in himself, and imbued
him with an extreme abhorrence of all softness and effeminacy. He
turned aside with disgust from the morality of pity in Schopenhauer's
philosophy and from the romantic-catholic element in Wagner's music,
to both of which he had previously paid homage. He saw that he had
transformed both masters according to his own needs, and he understood
quite well the instinct of self preservation that was here at work.
The aspiring mind creates the helpers it requires. Thus he afterwards
dedicated his book, Human, all-too-Human, which was published on
Voltaire's centenary, to the "free spirits" among his contemporaries;
his dreams created the associates that he had not yet found in the

The severe and painful illness, which began in his thirty-second
year and long made him a recluse, detached him from all romanticism
and freed his heart from all bonds of piety. It carried him far away
from pessimism, in virtue of his proud thought that "a sufferer has
no right to pessimism." This illness made a philosopher of him in a
strict sense. His thoughts stole inquisitively along forbidden paths:
This thing passes for a value. Can we not turn it upside-down? This
is regarded as good. Is it not rather evil?--Is not God refuted? But
can we say as much of the devil?--Are we not deceived? and deceived
deceivers, all of us?...

And then out of this long sickliness arises a passionate desire for
health, the joy of the convalescent in life, in light, in warmth, in
freedom and ease of mind, in the range and horizon of thought, in
"visions of new dawns," in creative capacity, in poetical strength.
And he enters upon the lofty self-confidence and ecstasy of a long
uninterrupted production.


It is neither possible nor necessary to review here the long series of
his writings. In calling attention to an author who is still unread,
one need only throw his most characteristic thoughts and expressions
into relief, so that the reader with little trouble may form an idea
of his way of thinking and quality of mind. The task is here rendered
difficult by Nietzsche's thinking in aphorisms, and facilitated by
his habit of emphasising every thought in such a way as to give it a
startling appearance.

English utilitarianism has met with little acceptance in Germany;
among more eminent contemporary thinkers Eugen Dühring is its chief
advocate; Friedrich Paulsen also sides with the Englishmen. Eduard
von Hartmann has attempted to demonstrate the impossibility of
simultaneously promoting culture and happiness. Nietzsche finds new
difficulties in an analysis of the concept of happiness. The object of
utilitarianism is to procure humanity as much pleasure and as little
of the reverse as possible. But what if pleasure and pain are so
intertwined that he who wants all the pleasure he can get must take a
corresponding amount of suffering into the bargain? Clärchen's song
contains the words: "_Himmelhoch jauchzend, zum Tode betrübt_" Who
knows whether the latter is not the condition of the former? The Stoics
believed this, and, wishing to avoid pain, asked of life the minimum
of pleasure. Probably it is equally unwise in our day to promise men
intense joys, if they are to be insured against great sufferings.

We see that Nietzsche transfers the question to the highest spiritual
plane, without regard to the fact that the lowest and commonest
misfortunes, such as hunger, physical exhaustion, excessive and
unhealthy labour, yield no compensation in violent joys. Even if
all pleasure be dearly bought, it does not follow that all pain is
interrupted and counterbalanced by intense enjoyment.

In accordance with his aristocratic bias he then attacks Bentham's
proposition: the greatest possible happiness of the greatest possible
number. The ideal was, of course, to procure happiness for everybody;
as this could not be done, the formula took the above shape. But why
happiness for the greatest number? We might imagine it for the best,
the noblest, the most gifted; and we may be permitted to ask whether
moderate prosperity and moderate well-being are preferable to the
inequality of lot which acts as a goad, forcing culture ever upward.

Then there is the doctrine of unselfishness. To be moral is to be
unselfish. It is good to be so, we are told. But what does that
mean--good? Good for whom? Not for the self-sacrificer, but for
his neighbour. He who praises the virtue of unselfishness, praises
something that is good for the community but harmful to the
individual. And the neighbour who wants to be loved unselfishly is not
himself unselfish. The fundamental contradiction in this morality is
that it demands and commends a renunciation of the ego, for the benefit
of another ego.

At the outset the essential and invaluable element of all morality is,
in Nietzsche's view, simply this, that it is a prolonged constraint. As
language gains in strength and freedom by the constraint of verse, and
as all the freedom and delicacy to be found in plastic art, music and
dancing is the result of arbitrary laws, so also does human nature only
attain its development under constraint. No violence is thereby done to
Nature; this is the very nature of things.

The essential point is that there should be obedience, for a long time
and in the same direction. Thou shalt obey, some one or something, and
for a long time--otherwise thou wilt come to grief; this seems to be
the moral imperative of Nature, which is certainly neither categorical
(as Kant thought), nor addressed to the individual (Nature does not
trouble about the individual), but seems to be addressed to nations,
classes, periods, races--in fact, to mankind. On the other hand, all
the morality that is addressed to the individual for his own good, for
the sake of his own welfare, is reduced in this view to mere household
remedies and counsels of prudence, recipes for curbing passions that
might want to break out; and all this morality is preposterous in form,
because it addresses itself to all and generalises what does not admit
of generalisation. Kant gave us a guiding rule with his categorical
imperative. But this rule has failed us. It is of no use saying to us:
Act as others ought to act in this case. For we know that there are not
and cannot be such things as identical actions, but that every action
is unique in its nature, so that any precept can only apply to the
rough outside of actions.

But what of the voice and judgment of conscience? The difficulty is
that we have a conscience behind our conscience, an intellectual
one behind the moral. We can tell that the judgment of So-and-So's
conscience has a past history in his instincts, his original
sympathies or antipathies, his experience or want of experience. We
can see quite well that our opinions of what is noble and good, our
moral valuations, are powerful levers where action is concerned; but we
must begin by refining these opinions and independently creating for
ourselves new tables of values.

And as regards the ethical teachers' preaching of morality for all,
this is every bit as empty as the gossip of individual society people
about each other's morals. Nietzsche gives the moralists this good
advice: that, instead of trying to educate the human race, they should
imitate the pedagogues of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, who
concentrated their efforts on the education of a single person. But as
a rule the moral ranters are themselves quite uneducated persons, and
their children seldom rise above moral mediocrity.

He who feels that in his inmost being he cannot be compared with
others, will be his own lawgiver. For one thing is needful: to give
style to one's character. This art is practised by him who, with an
eye for the strong and weak sides of his nature, removes from it one
quality and another, and then by daily practice and acquired habit
replaces them by others which become second nature to him; in other
words, he puts himself under restraint in order by degrees to bend
his nature entirely to his own law. Only thus does a man arrive at
satisfaction with himself, and only thus does he become endurable to
others. For the dissatisfied and the unsuccessful as a rule avenge
themselves on others. They absorb poison from everything, from their
own incompetence as well as from their poor circumstances, and they
live in a constant craving for revenge on those in whose nature they
suspect harmony. Such people ever have virtuous precepts on their lips;
the whole jingle of morality, seriousness, chastity, the claims of
life; and their hearts ever bum with envy of those who have become well
balanced and can therefore enjoy life.

For millenniums morality meant obedience to custom, respect for
inherited usage. The free, exceptional man was immoral, because he
broke with the tradition which the others regarded with superstitious
fear. Very commonly he took the same view and was himself seized by the
terror he inspired. Thus a popular morality of custom was unconsciously
elaborated by all who belonged to the tribe; since fresh examples and
proofs could always be found of the alleged relation between guilt and
punishment--if you behave in such and such a way, it will go badly with
you. Now, as it generally does go badly, the allegation was constantly
confirmed; and thus popular morality, a pseudoscience on a level with
popular medicine, continually gained ground.

Manners and customs represented the experiences of bygone generations
concerning what was supposed to be useful or harmful; the sense of
morality, however, does not attach to these experiences as such, but
only to their age, their venerability and consequent incontestability.
In the state of war in which a tribe existed in old times, threatened
on every side, there was no greater gratification, under the sway of
the strictest morality of custom, than cruelty. Cruelty is one of the
oldest festal and triumphal joys of mankind. It was thought that the
gods, too, might be gratified and festively disposed by offering them
the sight of cruelties--and thus the idea insinuated itself into the
world that voluntary self-torture, mortification and abstinence are
also of great value, not as discipline, but as a sweet savour unto the

Christianity as a religion of the past unceasingly practised and
preached the torture of souls. Imagine the state of the mediæval
Christian, when he supposed he could no longer escape eternal torment.
Eros and Aphrodite were in his imagination powers of hell, and death
was a terror.

To the morality of cruelty has succeeded that of pity. The morality of
pity is lauded as unselfish, by Schopenhauer in particular.

Eduard von Hartmann, in his thoughtful work, _Phänomenologie des
sittlichen Bewusstseins_ (pp. 217-240), has already shown the
impossibility of regarding pity as the most important of moral
incentives, to say nothing of its being the only one, as Schopenhauer
would have it. Nietzsche attacks the morality of pity from other
points of view. He shows it to be by no means unselfish. Another's
misfortune affects us painfully and offends us--perhaps brands us as
cowards if we do not go to his aid. Or it contains a hint of a possible
danger to ourselves; moreover, we feel joy in comparing our own state
with that of the unfortunate, joy when we can step in as the stronger,
the helper. The help we afford gives us a feeling of happiness, or
perhaps it merely rescues us from boredom.

Pity in the form of actual fellow-suffering would be a weakness, nay,
a misfortune, since it would add to the world's suffering. A man who
seriously abandoned himself to sympathy with all the misery he found
about him, would simply be destroyed by it.

Among savages the thought of arousing pity is regarded with horror.
Those who do so are despised. According to savage notions, to feel pity
for a person is to despise him; but they find no pleasure in seeing a
contemptible person suffer. On the other hand, the sight of an enemy's
suffering, when his pride does not forsake him in the midst of his
torment--that is enjoyment, that excites admiration.

The morality of pity is often preached in the formula, love thy

Nietzsche in the interests of his attack seizes upon the word
_neighbour_. Not only does he demand, with Kierkegaard, a setting-aside
of morality for the sake of the end in view, but he is exasperated
that the true nature of morality should be held to consist in a
consideration of the immediate results of our actions, to which we
are to conform. To what is narrow and pettifogging in this morality
he opposes another, which looks beyond these immediate results and
aspires, even by means that cause our neighbour pain, to more distant
objects; such as the advancement of knowledge, although this will lead
to sorrow and doubt and evil passions in our neighbour. We need not on
this account be without pity, but we may hold our pity captive for the
sake of the object.

And as it is now unreasonable to term pity unselfish and seek to
consecrate it, it is equally so to hand over a series of actions
to the evil conscience, merely because they have been maligned as
egotistical. What has happened in recent times in this connection
is that the instinct of self-denial and self-sacrifice, everything
altruistic, has been glorified as if it were the supreme value of

The English moralists, who at present dominate Europe, explain
the origin of ethics in the following way: Unselfish actions were
originally called _good_ by those who were their objects and who
benefited by them; afterwards this original reason for praising them
was forgotten, and unselfish actions came to be regarded as good in

According to a statement of Nietzsche himself it was a work by a
German author with English leanings, Dr. Paul Rée's _Der Ursprung der
moralischen Empfindungen_ (Chemnitz, 1877), which provoked him to such
passionate and detailed opposition that he had to thank this book for
the impulse to clear up and develop his own ideas on the subject.

The surprising part of it, however, is this: Dissatisfaction with his
first book caused Rée to write a second and far more important work on
the same subject--_Die Entstehung des Gewissens_ (Berlin, 1885)--in
which the point of view offensive to Nietzsche is abandoned and several
of the leading ideas advanced by the latter against Rée are set forth,
supported by a mass of evidence taken from various authors and races of

The two philosophers were personally acquainted. I knew them both,
but had no opportunity of questioning either on this matter. It is
therefore impossible for me to say which of the two influenced the
other, or why Nietzsche in 1887 alludes to his detestation of the
opinions put forward by Rée in 1877, without mentioning how near
the latter had come to his own view in the work published two years

Rée had already adduced a number of examples to show that the most
diverse peoples of antiquity knew no other moral classification of men
than that of nobles and common people, powerful and weak; so that the
oldest meaning of good both in Greece and Iceland was noble, mighty,
rich. Nietzsche builds his whole theory on this foundation. His train
of thought is this--

The critical word _good_ is not due to those to whom goodness has
been shown. The oldest definition was this: the noble, the mightier,
higher-placed and high-minded held themselves and their actions to be
_good_--of the first rank--in contradistinction to everything low and
low-minded. Noble, in the sense of the class-consciousness of a higher
caste, is the primary concept from which develops _good_ in the sense
of spiritually aristocratic. The lowly are designated as _bad_ (not
evil). Bad does not acquire its unqualified depreciatory meaning till
much later. In the mouth of the people it is a laudatory word; the
German word _schlecht_ is identical with _schlicht_ (cf. _schlechtweg_
and _schlechterdings_).

The ruling caste call themselves sometimes simply the Mighty,
sometimes the Truthful; like the Greek nobility, whose mouthpiece
Theognis was. With him beautiful, good and noble always have the
sense of aristocratic. The aristocratic moral valuation proceeds
from a triumphant affirmation, a yea-saying, which we find in the
Homeric heroes: We, the noble, beautiful and brave--we are the good,
the beloved of the gods. These are strong men, charged with force,
who delight in warlike deeds, to whom, in other words, happiness is

It is of course unavoidable that these nobles should misjudge and
despise the plebeian herd they dominate. Yet as a rule there may be
traced in them a pity for the downtrodden caste, for the drudge and
beast of burden, an indulgence towards those to whom happiness is rest,
the Sabbath of inactivity.

Among the lower orders, on the other hand, an image of the ruling
caste distorted by hatred and spite is necessarily current. In this
distortion there lies a revenge.[5]

In opposition to the aristocratic valuation (good = noble, beautiful,
happy, favoured by the gods) the slave morality then is this: The
wretched alone are the _good_; those who suffer and are heavy laden,
the sick and the ugly, they are the only pious ones. On the other
hand, you, ye noble and rich, are to all eternity the _evil_, the
cruel, the insatiate, the ungodly, and after death the damned. Whereas
noble morality was the manifestation of great self-esteem, a continual
yea-saying, slave morality is a continual Nay, a _Thou shalt not_, a

To the noble valuation _good--bad_ (bad = worthless) corresponds the
antithesis of slave morality, _good--evil_. And who are the evil in
this morality of the oppressed? Precisely the same who in the other
morality were the good.

Let any one read the Icelandic sagas and examine the morality of the
ancient Northmen, and then compare with it the complaints of other
nations about the vikings' misdeeds. It will be seen that these
aristocrats, whose conduct in many ways stood high, were no better
than beasts of prey in dealing with their enemies. They fell upon the
inhabitants of Christian shores like eagles upon lambs. One may say
they followed an eagle ideal. But then we cannot wonder that those
who were exposed to such fearful attacks gathered round an entirely
opposite moral ideal, that of the lamb.

In the third chapter of his _Utilitarianism_, Stuart Mill attempts to
prove that the sense of justice has developed from the animal instinct
of making reprisal for an injury or a loss. In an essay on "the
transcendental satisfaction of the feeling of revenge" (supplement to
the first edition of the _Werth des Lebens_) Eugen Dühring has followed
him in trying to establish the whole doctrine of punishment upon the
instinct of retaliation. In his _Phänomenologie_ Eduard von Hartmann
shows how this instinct strictly speaking never does more than involve
a new suffering, a new offence, to gain external satisfaction for the
old one, so that the principle of requital can never be any distinct

Nietzsche makes a violent, passionate attempt to refer the sum total
of false modern morality, not to the instinct of requital or to the
feeling of revenge in general, but to the narrower form of it which
we call spite, envy and _rancune_. What he calls slave morality is to
him purely spite-morality; and this spite-morality gave new names to
all ideals. Thus impotence, which offers no reprisal, became goodness;
craven baseness became humility; submission to him who was feared
became obedience; inability to assert one's self became reluctance
to assert one's self, became forgiveness, love of one's enemies.
Misery became a distinction; God chastens whom he loves. Or it became
a preparation, a trial and a training; even more--something that
will one day be made good with interest, paid back in bliss. And the
vilest underground creatures, swollen with hate and spite, were heard
to say: We, the good, we are the righteous. They did not hate their
enemies--they hated injustice, ungodliness. What they hoped for was not
the sweets of revenge, but the victory of righteousness. Those they had
left to love on earth were their brothers and sisters in hatred, whom
they called their brothers and sisters in love. The future state they
looked for was called the coming of their kingdom, of God's kingdom.
Until it arrives they live on in faith, hope and love.

If Nietzsche's design in this picture was to strike at historical
Christianity, he has given us--as any one may see--a caricature in the
spirit and style of the eighteenth century. But that his description
hits off a certain type of the apostles of spite-morality cannot be
denied, and rarely has all the self-deception that may lurk beneath
moral preaching been more vigorously unmasked. (Compare _Beyond Good
and Evil_ and _The Genealogy of Morals_.)[6]

[5] Nietzsche supports his hypothesis by derivations, some doubtful,
others incorrect; but their value is immaterial.

[6] Where Nietzsche's words are quoted, in the course of this essay,
considerable use has been made of the complete English translation of
his works, edited by Dr. Oscar Levy.--Tr.


Nietzsche would define man as an animal that can make and keep promises.

He sees the real nobility of man in his capacity for
promising something, answering for himself and undertaking a
responsibility--since man, with the mastery of himself which this
capacity implies, necessarily acquires in addition a mastery over
external circumstances and over other creatures, whose will is not so

The consciousness of this responsibility is what the sovereign man
calls his conscience.

What, then, is the past history of this responsibility, this
conscience? It is a long and bloody one. Frightful means have been
used in the course of history to train men to remember what they have
once promised or willed, tacitly or explicitly. For milleniums man was
confined in the strait-jacket of the morality of custom, and by such
punishments as stoning, breaking on the wheel or burning, by burying
the sinner alive, tearing him asunder with horses, throwing him into
the water with a stone on his neck or in a sack, by scourging, flaying
and branding--by all these means a long memory for what he had promised
was burnt into that forgetful animal, man; in return for which he was
permitted to enjoy the advantages of being a member of society.

According to Nietzsche's hypothesis, the consciousness of guilt
originates simply as consciousness of a debt. The relation of contract
between creditor and debtor, which is as old as the earliest primitive
forms of human intercourse in buying, selling, bartering, etc.--this
is the relation that underlies it. The debtor (in order to inspire
confidence in his promise of repayment) pledges something he possesses:
his liberty, his woman, his life; or he gives his creditor the right of
cutting a larger or smaller piece of flesh from his body, according to
the amount of the debt. (The Roman Code of the Twelve Tables; again in
_The Merchant of Venice_.)

The logic of this, which has become somewhat strange to us, is as
follows: as compensation for his loss the creditor is granted a kind of
voluptuous sensation, the delight of being able to exercise his power
upon the powerless.

The reader may find evidence in Rée (_op. cit_., p. 13 ff.) for
Nietzsche's dictum, that for milleniums this was the view of mankind:
The sight of suffering does one good.

The infliction of suffering on another is a feast at which the
fortunate one swells with the joy of power. We may also find evidence
in Rée that the instincts of pity, fairness and clemency, which were
afterwards glorified as virtues, were originally regarded almost
everywhere as morally worthless, nay, as indications of weakness.

Buying and selling, as well as everything psychologically connected
therewith and older than any form of social organisation, contain the
germs, in Nietzsche's view, of compensation, assessing, justice and
duty. Man soon became proud of himself as a being who measures values.
One of the earliest generalisations was this: Everything has its price.
And the thought that everything can be paid for was the oldest and most
naïve canon of justice.

Now the whole of society, as it gradually develops, stands in the same
relation to its members as the creditor to the debtor. Society protects
its members; they are assured against the state of outlawry--on
condition that they do not break their pledges to the community. He who
breaks his word--the criminal--is relegated to the outlawry involved in
exclusion from society.

As Nietzsche, who is so exclusively taken up by the psychological
aspect, discards all accessories of scholarship, it is impossible to
examine directly the accuracy of his assertions. The historical data
will be found collected in Rée's paragraphs on resentment and the sense
of justice, and in his section on the buying-off of revenge, i. e.
settlement by fines.

Other thinkers besides Nietzsche (such as E. von Hartmann and Rée) have
combated the view that the idea of justice has its origin in a state of
resentment, and Nietzsche has scarcely brought to light any fresh and
convincing proof; but what is characteristic of him as a writer is the
excess of personal passion with which he attacks this view, obviously
because it is connected with the reasoning of modern democracy.

In many a modern cry for justice there rings a note of plebeian spite
and envy. Involuntarily many a modern savant of middle-class or lower
middle-class origin has attributed an unwarrantable importance to the
atavistic emotions prevalent among those who have been long oppressed:
hatred and rancour, spite and thirst for revenge.

Nietzsche does not occupy himself for an instant with the state of
things in which revenge does duty as the sole punitive justice; for
the death feud is not a manifestation of the thrall's hatred of his
master, but of ideas of honour among equals. He dwells exclusively on
the contrast between a ruling caste and a caste of slaves, and shows
a constantly recurring indignation with doctrines which have caused
the progressive among his contemporaries to look with indulgence on
the instincts of the populace and with suspicion or hostility on
master spirits. His purely personal characteristic, however, the
unphilosophical and temperamental in him, is revealed in the trait
that, while he has nothing but scorn and contempt for the down-trodden
class or race, for the _slave morality_ resulting from its suppressed
rancour, he positively revels in the ruling caste's delight in its
power, in the atmosphere of healthiness, freedom, frankness and
truthfulness in which it lives. Its acts of tyranny he defends or
excuses. The image it creates for itself of the slave caste is to him
far less falsified than that which the latter forms of the master caste.

Nor can there be serious question of any real injustice committed by
this caste. For there is no such thing as right or wrong in itself.
The infliction of an injury, forcible subjection, exploitation or
annihilation is not in itself a wrong, cannot be such, since life in
its essence, in its primary functions, is nothing but oppression,
exploitation and annihilation. Conditions of justice can never be
anything but exceptional conditions, that is, as limitations of the
real desire of life, the object of which is power.

Nietzsche replaces Schopenhauer's _Will to Life_ and Darwin's _Struggle
for Existence_ by the _Will to Power_. In his view the fight is not
for life--bare existence--but for power. And he has a great deal to
say--somewhat beside the mark--of the mean and paltry conditions those
Englishmen must have had in view who set up the modest conception of
the struggle for life. It appears to him as if they had imagined a
world in which everybody is glad if he can only keep body and soul
together. But life is only an expression for the minimum. In itself
life seeks, not self-preservation alone, but self-increase, and this
is precisely the "will to power." It is therefore obvious that there
is no difference of principle between the new catchword and the old;
for the struggle for existence necessarily leads to the conflict of
forces and the fight for power. Now a system of justice, seen from
this standpoint, is a factor in the conflict of forces. Conceived
as supreme, as a remedy for every kind of struggle, it would be a
principle hostile to life and destructive of the future and progress of

Something similar was in the mind of Lassalle, when he declared that
the standpoint of justice was a bad standpoint in the life of nations.
What is significant of Nietzsche is his love of fighting for its
own sake, in contrast to the modern humanitarian view. To Nietzsche
the greatness of a movement is to be measured by the sacrifices it
demands. The hygiene which keeps alive millions of weak and useless
beings who ought rather to die, is to him no true progress. A dead
level of mediocre happiness assured to the largest possible majority
of the miserable creatures we nowadays call men, would be to him no
true progress. But to him, as to Renan, the rearing of a human species
higher and stronger than that which now surrounds us (the "Superman"),
even if this could only be achieved by the sacrifice of masses of such
men as we know, would be a great, a real progress. Nietzsche's visions,
put forth in all seriousness, of the training of the Superman and his
assumption of the mastery of the world, bear so strong a resemblance
to Renan's dreams, thrown out half in jest, of a new Asgard, a regular
manufactory of Æsir (_Dialogues philosophiques_, 117), that we can
scarcely doubt the latter's influence. But what Renan wrote under the
overwhelming impression of the Paris Commune, and, moreover, in the
form of dialogue, allowing both _pro_ and _con_. to be heard, has
crystallised in Nietzsche into dogmatic conviction. One is therefore
surprised and hurt to find that Nietzsche never mentions Renan
otherwise than grudgingly. He scarcely alludes to the aristocratic
quality of his intellect, but he speaks with repugnance of that respect
for the gospel of the humble which Renan everywhere discloses, and
which is undeniably at variance with his hope of the foundation of a
breeding establishment for supermen.

Renan, and after him Taine, turned against the almost religious
feelings which were long entertained in the new Europe towards the
first French Revolution. Renan regretted the Revolution betimes on
national grounds; Taine, who began by speaking warmly of it, changed
his mind on closer inquiry. Nietzsche follows in their footsteps. It
is natural for modern authors, who feel themselves to be the children
of the Revolution, to sympathise with the men of the great revolt;
and certainly the latter do not receive their due in the present
anti-revolutionary state of feeling in Europe. But these authors, in
their dread of what in political jargon is called Cæsarism, and in
their superstitious belief in mass movements, have overlooked the fact
that the greatest revolutionaries and liberators are not the united
small, but the few great; not the small ungenerous, but the great
and generous, who are willing to bestow justice and well-being and
intellectual growth upon the rest.

There are two classes of revolutionary spirits: those who feel
instinctively drawn to Brutus, and those who equally instinctively are
attracted by Cæsar. Cæsar is the great type; neither Frederick the
Great nor Napoleon could claim more than a part of his qualities. The
modern poetry of the 'forties teems with songs in praise of Brutus, but
no poet has sung Cæsar. Even a poet with so little love for democracy
as Shakespeare totally failed to recognise his greatness; he gave us
a pale caricature of his figure and followed Plutarch in glorifying
Brutus at his expense. Even Shakespeare could not see that Cæsar placed
a very different stake on the table of life from that of his paltry
murderer. Cæsar was descended from Venus; in his form was grace. His
mind had the grand simplicity which is the mark of the greatest; his
nature was nobility. He, from whom even to-day all supreme power takes
its name, had every attribute that belongs to a commander and ruler
of the highest rank. Only a few men of the Italian Renaissance have
reached such a height of genius. His life was a guarantee of all the
progress that could be accomplished in those days. Brutus's nature was
doctrine, his distinguishing mark the narrowness that seeks to bring
back dead conditions and that sees omens of a call in the accident of
a name. His style was dry and laborious, his mind unfertile. His vice
was avarice, usury his delight. To him the provinces were conquests
beyond the pale. He had five senators of Salamis starved to death
because the town could not pay. And on account of a dagger-thrust,
which accomplished nothing and hindered nothing of what it was meant
to hinder, this arid brain has been made a sort of genius of liberty,
merely because men have failed to understand what it meant to have the
strongest, richest and noblest nature invested with supreme power.

From what has been said above it will easily be understood that
Nietzsche derives justice entirely from the active emotions, since in
his view revengeful feelings are always low. He does not dwell on this
point, however. Older writers had seen in the instinct of retaliation
the origin of punishment. Stuart Mill, in his _Utilitarianism_,
derived justice from already established punitive provisions (_justum_
from _jussum_), which were precautionary measures, not reprisals.
Rée, in his book on the _Origin of Conscience_, defended the kindred
proposition that punishment is not a consequence of the sense of
justice, but _vice versa_. The English philosophers in general derive
the bad conscience from punishment. The value of the latter is supposed
to consist in awakening a sense of guilt in the delinquent.

Against this Nietzsche enters a protest. He maintains that punishment
only hardens and benumbs a man; in fact, that the judicial procedure
itself prevents the criminal from regarding his conduct as
reprehensible; since he is made to witness precisely the same kind of
acts as those he has committed--spying, entrapping, outwitting and
torturing--all of which are sanctioned when exercised against him in
the cause of justice. For long ages, too, no notice whatever was taken
of the criminal's "sin"; he was regarded as harmful, not guilty, and
looked upon as a piece of destiny; and the criminal on his side took
his punishment as a piece of destiny which had overtaken him, and bore
it with the same fatalism with which the Russians suffer to this day.
In general we may say that punishment tames the man, but does not make
him "better."

The bad conscience, then, is still unexplained. Nietzsche proposes the
following brilliant hypothesis: The bad conscience is the deep-seated
morbid condition that declared itself in man under the stress of the
most radical change he has ever experienced--when he found himself
imprisoned in perpetuity within a society which was inviolable. All
the strong and savage instincts such as adventurousness, rashness,
cunning, rapacity, lust of power, which till then had not only been
honoured, but actually encouraged, were suddenly put down as dangerous,
and by degrees branded as immoral and criminal. Creatures adapted to
a roving life of war and adventure suddenly saw all their instincts
classed as worthless, nay, as forbidden. An immense despondency, a
dejection without parallel, then took possession of them. And all these
instincts that were not allowed an outward vent, turned inwards on
the man himself--feelings of enmity, cruelty, delight in change, in
hazard, violence, persecution, destruction--and thus the bad conscience

When the State came into existence--not by a social contract, as
Rousseau and his contemporaries assumed--but by a frightful tyranny
imposed by a conquering race upon a more numerous, but unorganised
population, then all the latter's instinct of freedom turned inwards;
its active force and will to power were directed against man himself.
And this was the soil which bore such ideals of beauty as self-denial,
self-sacrifice, unselfishness. The delight in self-sacrifice is in its
origin a phase of cruelty; the bad conscience is a will for self-abuse.

Then by degrees guilt came to be felt as a debt, to the past, to the
ancestors; a debt that had to be paid back in sacrifices--at first
of nourishment in its crudest sense--in marks of honour and in
obedience; for all customs, as the work of ancestors, are at the same
time their commands.[7] There is a constant dread of not giving them
enough; the firstborn, human and animal, are sacrificed to them. Fear
of the founder grows in proportion as the power of the race increases.
Sometimes he becomes transformed into a god, in which the origin of the
god from fear is clearly seen.

The feeling of owing a debt to the deity steadily grew through the
centuries, until the recognition of the Christian deity as universal
god brought about the greatest possible outburst of guilty feeling.
Only in our day is any noticeable diminution of this sense of guilt to
be traced; but where the consciousness of sin reaches its culminating
point, there the bad conscience eats its way like a cancer, till the
sense of the impossibility of paying the debt--atoning for the sin--is
supreme and with it is combined the idea of eternal punishment. A
curse is now imagined to have been laid upon the founder of the race
(Adam), and all sin becomes original sin. Indeed, the evil principle
is attributed to Nature herself, from whose womb man has sprung--until
we arrive at the paradoxical expedient in which tormented Christendom
has found a temporary consolation for two thousand years: God offers
himself for the guilt of mankind, pays himself in his own flesh and

What has here happened is that the instinct of cruelty, which has
turned inwards, has become self-torture, and all man's animal instincts
have been reinterpreted as guilt towards God. Every Nay man utters to
his nature, to his real being, he flings out as a Yea, an affirmation
of reality applied to God's sanctity, his capacity of judge and
executioner, and in the next place to eternity, the "Beyond," pain
without end, eternal punishment in hell.

In order rightly to understand the origin of ascetic ideals, we must,
moreover, consider that the earliest generations of spiritual and
contemplative natures lived under a fearful pressure of contempt on
the part of the hunters and warriors. The unwarlike element in them
was despicable. They had no other means of holding their own than that
of inspiring fear. This they could only do by cruelty to themselves,
mortification and self-discipline in a hermit's life. As priests,
soothsayers and sorcerers they then struck superstitious terror into
the masses. The ascetic priest is the unsightly larva from which the
healthy philosopher has emerged. Under the dominion of the priests our
earth became the ascetic planet; a squalid den careering through space,
peopled by discontented and arrogant creatures, who were disgusted with
life, abhorred their globe as a vale of tears, and who in their envy
and hatred of beauty and joy did themselves as much harm as possible.

Nevertheless the self-contradiction we find in asceticism--life turned
_against_ life--is of course only apparent. In reality the ascetic
ideal corresponds to a decadent life's profound need of healing and
tending. It is an ideal that points to depression and exhaustion;
by its help life struggles against death. It is life's device for
self-preservation. Its necessary antecedent is a morbid condition in
the tamed human being, a disgust with life, coupled with the desire to
be something else, to be somewhere else, raised to the highest pitch of
emotion and passion.

The ascetic priest is the embodiment of this very wish. By its power
he keeps the whole herd of dejected, fainthearted, despairing and
unsuccessful creatures, fast to life. The very fact that he himself is
sick makes him their born herdsman. If he were healthy, he would turn
away with loathing from all this eagerness to re-label weakness, envy,
Pharisaism and false morality as virtue. But, being himself sick, he is
called upon to be an attendant in the great hospital of sinners--the
Church. He is constantly occupied with sufferers who seek the cause
of their pain outside themselves; he teaches the patient that the
guilty cause of his pain is himself. Thus he diverts the rancour of the
abortive man and makes him less harmful, by letting a great part of his
resentment recoil on himself. The ascetic priest cannot properly be
called a physician; he mitigates suffering and invents consolations of
every kind, both narcotics and stimulants.

The problem was to contend with fatigue and despair, which had seized
like an epidemic upon great masses of men. Many remedies were tried.
First, it was sought to depress vitality to the lowest degree: not
to will, not to desire, not to work, and so on; to become apathetic
(Pascal's _Il faut s'abêtir_). The object was sanctification, a
hypnotising of all mental life, a relaxation of every purpose,
and consequently freedom from pain. In the next place, mechanical
activity was employed as a narcotic against states of depression: the
"blessing of labour." The ascetic priest, who has to deal chiefly
with sufferers of the poorer classes, reinterprets the task of the
unfortunate drudge for him, making him see in it a benefit. Then again,
the prescription of a little, easily accessible joy, is a favourite
remedy for depression; such as gladdening others, helping them in love
of one's neighbour. Finally, the decisive cure is to organise all
the sick into an immense hospital, to found a congregation of them.
The disinclination that accompanies the sense of weakness is thereby
combated, since the mass feels strong in its inner cohesion.

But the chief remedy of the ascetic priest was, after all, his
reinterpretation of the feeling of guilt as "sin." The inner suffering
was a punishment. The sick man was the sinner. Nietzsche compares
the unfortunate who receives this explanation of his qualms with a
hen round which a chalk circle has been drawn: he cannot get out.
Wherever we look, for century after century, we see the hypnotic gaze
of the sinner, staring--in spite of Job--at guilt as the only cause
of suffering. Everywhere the evil conscience and the scourge and the
hairy shirt and weeping and gnashing of teeth, and the cry of "More
pain! More pain!" Everything served the ascetic ideal. And then arose
epidemics like those of St. Vitus's dance and the flagellants, witches'
hysteria and the wholesale delirium of extravagant sects (which still
lingers in otherwise beneficially disciplined bodies such as the
Salvation Army).

The ascetic ideal has as yet no real assailants; there is no decided
prophet of a new ideal. Inasmuch as since the time of Copernicus
science has constantly tended to deprive man of his earlier belief in
his own importance, its influence is rather favourable to asceticism
than otherwise. At present the only real enemies and underminers of the
ascetic ideal are to be found in the charlatans of that ideal, in its
hypocritical champions, who excite and maintain distrust of it.

As the senselessness of suffering was felt to be a curse, the ascetic
ideal gave it a meaning; a meaning which brought a new flood of
suffering with it, but which was better than none. In our day a new
ideal is in process of formation, which sees in suffering a condition
of life, a condition of happiness, and which in the name of a new
culture combats all that we have hitherto called culture.

[7] Compare Lassalle's theory of the original religion of Rome. G.
Brandes; _Ferdinand Lassalle_ (London and New York, 1911), pp. 76 ff.


Among Nietzsche's works there is a strange book which bears the title,
_Thus Spake Zarathustra_. It consists of four parts, written during the
years 1883-85, each part in about ten days, and conceived chapter by
chapter on long walks--"with a feeling of inspiration, as though each
sentence had been shouted in my ear," as Nietzsche wrote in a private

The central figure and something of the form are borrowed from the
Persian _Avesta_. Zarathustra is the mystical founder of a religion
whom we usually call Zoroaster. His religion is the religion of purity;
his wisdom is cheerful and dauntless, as that of one who laughed at his
birth; his nature is light and flame. The eagle and the serpent, who
share his mountain cave, the proudest and the wisest of beasts, are
ancient Persian symbols.

This work contains Nietzsche's doctrine in the form, so to speak, of
religion. It is the Koran, or rather the Avesta, which he was impelled
to leave--obscure and profound, high-soaring and remote from reality,
prophetic and intoxicated with the future, filled to the brim with the
personality of its author, who again is entirely filled with himself.

Among modern books that have adopted this tone and employed this
symbolic and allegorical style may be mentioned Mickiewicz's _Book of
the Polish Pilgrims_, Slowacki's Anheli, and The Words of a Believer,
by Lamennais, who was influenced by Mickiewicz. A newer work, known
to Nietzsche, is Carl Spitteler's Prometheus and Epimetheus (1881).
But all these books, with the exception of Spitteler's, are biblical
in their language. Zarathustra, on the other hand, is a book of
edification for free spirits.

Nietzsche himself gave this book the highest place among his writings.
I do not share this view. The imaginative power which sustains it is
not sufficiently inventive, and a certain monotony is inseparable from
an archaistic presentment by means of types.

But it is a good book for those to have recourse to who are unable
to master Nietzsche's purely speculative works; it contains all his
fundamental ideas in the form of poetic recital. Its merit is a style
that from the first word to the last is full-toned, sonorous and
powerful; now and then rather unctuous in its combative judgments and
condemnations; always expressive of self-joy, nay, self-intoxication,
but rich in subtleties as in audacities, sure, and at times great.
Behind this style lies a mood as of calm mountain air, so light, so
ethereally pure, that no infection, no bacteria can live in it--no
noise, no stench, no dust assails it, nor does any path lead up.

Clear sky above, open sea at the mountain's foot, and over all a heaven
of light, an abyss of light, an azure bell, a vaulted silence above
roaring waters and mighty mountain-chains. On the heights Zarathustra
is alone with himself, drawing in the pure air in full, deep breaths,
alone with the rising sun, alone with the heat of noon, which does not
impair the freshness, alone with the voices of the gleaming stars at

A good, deep book it is. A book that is bright in its joy of life, dark
in its riddles, a book for spiritual mountain-climbers and dare-devils
and for the few who are practised in the great contempt of man that
loathes the crowd, and in the great love of man that only loathes so
deeply because it has a vision of a higher, braver humanity, which it
seeks to rear and train.

Zarathustra has sought the refuge of his cave out of disgust with
petty happiness and petty virtues. He has seen that men's doctrine
of virtue and contentment makes them ever smaller: their goodness is
in the main a wish that no one may do them any harm; therefore they
forestall the others by doing them a little good. This is cowardice
and is called virtue. True, they are at the same time quite ready to
attack and injure, but only those who are once for all at their mercy
and with whom it is safe to take liberties. This is called bravery and
is a still baser cowardice. But when Zarathustra tries to drive out the
cowardly devils in men, the cry is raised against him, "Zarathustra is

He is lonely, for all his former companions have become apostates;
their young hearts have grown old, and not old even, only weary and
slothful, only commonplace--and this they call becoming pious again.
"Around light and liberty they once fluttered like gnats and young
poets, and already are they mystifiers, and mumblers and mollycoddles."
They have understood their age. They chose their time well. "For now do
all night-birds again fly abroad. Now is the hour of all that dread the
light." Zarathustra loathes the great city as a hell for anchorites'
thoughts. "All lusts and vices are here at home; but here are also
the virtuous, much appointable and appointed virtue. Much appointable
virtue with scribe-fingers and hardy sitting-flesh and waiting-flesh,
blessed with little breast-stars and padded, haunchless daughters. Here
is also much piety and much devout spittle-licking and honey-slavering
before the God of hosts. For 'from on high' drippeth the star and the
gracious spittle; and upward longeth every starless bosom."

And Zarathustra loathes the State, loathes it as Henrik Ibsen did and
more profoundly than he.

To him the State is the coldest of all cold monsters. Its fundamental
lie is that it is the people. No; creative spirits were they who
created the people and gave it a faith and a love; thus they served
life; every people is peculiar to itself, but the State is everywhere
the same. The State is to Zarathustra that "where the slow suicide of
all is called life." The State is for the many too many. Only where the
State leaves oft does the man who is not superfluous begin; the man who
is a bridge to the Superman.

From states Zarathustra has fled up to his mountain, into his cave.

In forbearance and pity lay his greatest danger. Rich in, the little
lies of pity he dwelt among men.

"Stung from head to foot by poisonous flies and hollowed out like a
stone by many drops of malice, thus did I sit among them, saying to
myself: Innocent is everything petty of its pettiness. Especially they
who call themselves the good, they sting in all innocence, they lie in
all innocence; how could they be just towards me?

"He who dwelleth among the good, him teacheth pity to lie. Pity
breedeth bad air for all free souls. For the stupidity of the good is

"Their stiff wise men did I call wise, not stiff. Their grave-diggers
did I call searchers and testers--thus did I learn to confound speech.
The grave-diggers dig for themselves diseases. From old refuse arise
evil exhalations. Upon the mountains one should live."

And with blessed nostrils he breathes again the freedom of the
mountains. His nose is now released from the smell of all that is
human. There sits Zarathustra with old broken tables of the law around
him and new half-written tables, awaiting his hour; the hour when the
lion shall come with the flock of doves, strength in company with
gentleness, to do homage to him. And he holds out to men a new table,
upon which such maxims as these are written--

Spare not thy neighbour! My great love for the remotest ones commands
it. Thy neighbour is something that must be surpassed.

Say not: I will do unto others as I would they should do unto me. What
_thou_ doest, that can no man do to thee again. There is no requital.

Do not believe that thou mayst not rob. A right which thou canst seize
upon, shalt thou never allow to be given thee.

Beware of good men. They never speak the truth. For all that they
call evil--the daring venture, the prolonged distrust, the cruel Nay,
the deep disgust with men, the will and the power to cut into the
quick--all this must be present where a truth is to be born.

All the past is at man's mercy. But, this being so, it might happen
that the rabble became master and drowned all time in its shallow
waters, or that a tyrant usurped it all. Therefore we need a new
nobility, to be the adversary of all rabble and all tyranny, and to
inscribe on new tables the word "noble." Certainly not a nobility
that can be bought, nor a nobility whose virtue is love of country.
No, teaches Zarathustra, exiles shall ye be from your fatherlands
and forefatherlands. Not the land of your fathers shall ye love, but
your children's land. This love is the new nobility--love of that new
land, the undiscovered, far-off country in the remotest sea. To your
children shall ye make amends for the misfortune of being your fathers'
children. Thus shall ye redeem all the past.

Zarathustra is full of lenity. Others have said: Thou shalt not commit
adultery. Zarathustra teaches: The honest should say to each other,
"Let us see whether our love continue; let us fix a term, that we may
find out whether we desire a longer term." What cannot be bent, will be
broken. A woman said to Zarathustra, "Indeed, I broke the marriage, but
first did the marriage break me."

Zarathustra is without mercy. It has been said: Push not a leaning
waggon. But Zarathustra says: That which is ready to fall, shall ye
also push. All that belongs to our day is falling and decaying. No one
can preserve it, but Zarathustra will even help it to fall faster.

Zarathustra loves the brave. But not the bravery that takes up every
challenge. There is often more bravery in holding back and passing
by and reserving one's self for a worthier foe. Zarathustra does not
teach: Ye shall love your enemies, but: Ye shall not engage in combat
with enemies ye despise.

Why so hard? men cry to Zarathustra. He replies: Why so hard, once said
the charcoal to the diamond; are we not near of kin? The creators are
hard. Their blessedness it is to press their hand upon future centuries
as upon wax.

No doctrine revolts Zarathustra more than that of the vanity and
senselessness of life. This is in his eyes ancient babbling, old
wives' babbling. And the pessimists who sum up life with a balance of
aversion, and assert the badness of existence, are the objects of his
positive loathing. He prefers pain to annihilation.

The same extravagant love of life is expressed in the _Hymn to Life_,
written by his friend, Lou von Salomé, which Nietzsche set for chorus
and orchestra. We read here--

"So truly loves a friend his friend
As I love thee, O Life in myst'ry hidden!
If joy or grief to me thou send;
If loud I laugh or else to weep am bidden,
Yet love I thee with all thy changeful faces;
And should'st thou doom me to depart,
So would I tear myself from thy embraces,
As comrade from a comrade's heart."

And the poem concludes--

"And if thou hast now left no bliss to crown me.
Lead on I thou hast thy sorrow still!"[8]

When Achilles chose to be a day-labourer on earth rather than a king in
the realm of the shades, the expression was a weak one in comparison
with this passionate outburst, which paradoxically thirsts even for the
cup of pain.

Eduard von Hartmann believes in a beginning and end of the "world
process." He concludes that no eternity can lie behind us; otherwise
everything possible must already have happened, which--according to
his contention--is not the case. In sharp contrast to him, on this
point as on others, Zarathustra teaches, with, be it said, a somewhat
shallow mysticism--which is derived from the ancient Pythagoreans'
idea of the circular course of history and is influenced by Cohelet's
Hebrew philosophy of life--the eternal recurrence; that is to say,
that all things eternally return and we ourselves with them, that
we have already existed an infinite number of times and all things
with us. The great clock of the universe is to him an hour-glass,
which is constantly turned and runs out again and again. This is the
direct antithesis of Hartmann's doctrine of universal destruction,
and curiously enough it was put forward at about the same time by two
French thinkers: by Blanqui in _L'Éternité par les Astres_ (1871), and
by Gustave Le Bon in _L'Homme et les Sociétés_ (1881).

At his death Zarathustra will say: Now I disappear and die; in a moment
I shall be nothing, for the soul is mortal as the body; but the complex
of causes in which I am involved will return, and it will continually
reproduce me.

At the close of the third part of _Zarathustra_ there is a chapter
headed "The Second Dance Song." Dance, in Nietzsche's language, is
always an expression for the lofty lightness of mind, which is exalted
above the gravity of earth and above all stupid seriousness. This song,
extremely remarkable in its language, is a good specimen of the style
of the work, when it soars into its highest flights of poetry. Life
appears to Zarathustra as a woman; she strikes her castanets and he
dances with her, flinging out all his wrath with life and all his love
of life.

    "Lately looked I into thine eyes, O Life! Gold saw
    I gleaming in thy night-eye--my heart stood still with
    the joy of it.

    "A golden skiff saw I gleaming upon shadowy waters,
    a sinking, drinking, reblinking, golden swinging-skiff.

    "At my foot, dancing-mad, didst thou cast a glance,
    a laughing, questioning, melting, swinging-glance.

    "Twice only did thy little hands strike the castanets
    --then was my foot swinging in the madness of the dance.

    "I fear thee near, I love thee far; thy flight allureth
    me, thy seeking secureth me; I suffer, but for thee, what
    would I not gladly bear!

    "For thee, whose coldness inflameth, whose hatred mis-leadeth,
    whose flight enchaineth, whose mockery pleadeth!

    "Who would not hate thee, thou great bindress, inwindress,
    temptress, seekress, findress! Who would not love thee,
    thou innocent, impatient, wind-swift, child-eyed sinner!"

In this dialogue between the dancers, Life and her lover, these words
occur: O Zarathustra, thou art far from loving me as dearly as thou
sayest; thou art not faithful enough to me. There is an old, heavy
booming-clock; it boometh by night up to thy cave. When thou hearest
this clock at midnight, then dost thou think until noon that soon thou
wilt forsake me.

And then follows, in conclusion, the song of the old midnight clock.
But in the fourth part of the work, in the section called "The
Sleepwalker's Song," this short strophe is interpreted line by line;
in form half like a mediæval watchman's chant, half like the hymn of
a mystic, it contains the mysterious spirit of Nietzsche's esoteric
doctrine concentrated in the shortest formula--

      Midnight is drawing on, and as mysteriously, as terribly,
      and as cordially as the midnight bell speaketh to
      Zarathustra, so calleth he to the higher men: At midnight
      many a thing is heard which may not be heard by day; and
      the midnight speaketh: _O man, take heed_!

      Whither hath time gone? Have I not sunk into deep wells?
      The world sleepeth. And shuddering it asketh: Who is to be
      master of the world? _What saith the deep midnight_?

      The bell boometh, the wood-worm burroweth, the heart-worm
      gnaweth: _Ah! the world is deep_.

      But the old bell is like a sonorous instrument; all pain
      hath bitten into its heart, the pain of fathers and
      forefathers; and all joy hath set it swinging, the joy of
      fathers and forefathers--there riseth from the bell an
      odour of eternity, a rosy-blessed, golden-wine perfume
      of old happiness, and this song: The world is deep, _and
      deeper than the day had thought_.

      I am too pure for the rude hands of the day. The purest
      shall be masters of the world, the unacknowledged, the
      strongest, the midnight-souls, who are brighter and deeper
      than any day. _Deep is its woe_.

      But joy goeth deeper than heart's grief. For grief saith:
      Break, my heart! Fly away, my pain! _Woe saith: Begone_!

      But, ye higher men, said ye ever Yea to a single joy, then
      said ye also Yea unto all woe. For joy and woe are linked,
      enamoured, inseparable. And all beginneth again, all is
      eternal. _All joys desire eternity, deep, deep, eternity_.

This, then, is the midnight song--

    "Oh Mensch! Gieb Acht!
    Was spricht die tiefe Mitternacht?
    'Ich schlief, ich schlief--
    Aus tiefem Traum bin ich erwacht:--
    Die Welt ist tief,
    Und tiefer als der Tag gedacht.
    Tief ist ihr Weh--
    Lust--tiefer noch als Herzeleid:
    Weh spricht: Vergeh!
    Doch alle Lust will Ewigkeit--
    --will tiefe, tiefe Ewigkeit!'"

[8] Translated by Herman Scheffauer. Text and pianoforte score are
given in Vol. XVII (_Ecce Homo_) of the English edition of Nietzsche's


Such is he, then, this warlike mystic, poet and thinker, this
immoralist who is never tired of preaching. Coming to him fresh from
the English philosophers, one feels transported to another world. The
Englishmen are all patient spirits, whose natural bent is towards
the accumulation and investigation of a mass of small facts in order
thereby to discover a law. The best of them are Aristotelian minds.
Few of them fascinate us personally or seem to be of very complex
personality. Their influence lies more in what they do than in what
they are. Nietzsche, on the other hand, like Schopenhauer, is a
guesser, a seer, an artist, less interesting in what he does than in
what he is.

Little as he feels himself a German, he nevertheless continues the
metaphysical and intuitive tradition of German philosophy and has the
German thinker's profound dislike of any utilitarian point of view.
In his passionate aphoristical form he is unquestionably original; in
the substance of his thought he reminds one here and there of many
another writer, both of contemporary Germany and of France; but he
evidently regards, it as perfectly absurd that he should have to thank
a contemporary for anything, and storms like a German at all those who
resemble him in any point.

I have already mentioned how strongly he reminds one of Ernest Renan
in his conception of culture and in his hope of an aristocracy of
intellect that could seize the dominion of the world. Nevertheless he
has not one appreciative word to say for Renan.

I have also alluded to the fact that Eduard von Hartmann was his
predecessor in his fight against Schopenhauer's morality of pity. In
this author, whose talent is indisputable, even though his importance
may not correspond with his extraordinary reputation, Nietzsche, with
the uncritical injustice of a German university professor, would
only see a charlatan. Hartmann's nature is of heavier stuff than
Nietzsche's. He is ponderous, self-complacent, fundamentally Teutonic,
and, in contrast to Nietzsche, entirely unaffected by French spirit and
southern sunshine. But there are points of resemblance between them,
which are due to historical conditions in the Germany that reared them

In the first place, there was something analogous in their positions
in life, since both as artillerymen had gone through a similar
schooling; and in the second place, in their culture, inasmuch as the
starting-point of both is Schopenhauer and both nevertheless retain
a great respect for Hegel, thus uniting these two hostile brothers
in their veneration. They are further in agreement in their equally
estranged attitude to Christian piety and Christian morality, as well
as in their contempt, so characteristic of modern Germany, for every
kind of democracy.

Nietzsche resembles Hartmann in his attacks on socialists and
anarchists, with the difference that Hartmann's attitude is here more
that of the savant, while Nietzsche has the bad taste to delight in
talking about "anarchist dogs," expressing in the same breath his own
loathing of the State. Nietzsche further resembles Hartmann in his
repeated demonstration of the impossibility of the ideals of equality
and of peace, since life is nothing but inequality and war: "What is
good? To be brave is good. I do not say, the good cause sanctifies war,
but the good war sanctifies every cause." Like his predecessor, he
dwells on the necessity of the struggle for power and on the supposed
value of war to culture.

In both these authors, comparatively independent as they are, the
one a mystical natural philosopher, the other a mystical immoralist,
is reflected the all-dominating militarism of the new German Empire.
Hartmann approaches on many points the German snobbish national
feeling. Nietzsche is opposed to it on principle, as he is to the
statesman "who has piled up for the Germans a new tower of Babel, a
monster in extent of territory and power and for that reason called
great," but something of Bismarck's spirit broods nevertheless over
the works of both. As regards the question of war, the only difference
between them is that Nietzsche does not desire war for the sake of a
fantastic redemption of the world, but in order that manliness may not
become extinct.

In his contempt for woman and his abuse of her efforts for emancipation
Nietzsche again agrees with Hartmann, though only in so far as both
here recall Schopenhauer, whose echo Hartmann is in this connection.
But whereas Hartmann is here only a moralising doctrinaire with a
somewhat offensive dash of pedantry, one can trace beneath Nietzsche's
attacks on the female sex that subtle sense of woman's dangerousness
which points to painful experience. He does not seem to have known
many women, but those he did know, he evidently loved and hated, but
above all despised. Again and again he returns to the unfitness of the
free and great spirit for marriage. In many of these utterances there
is a strongly personal note, especially in those which persistently
assert the necessity of a solitary life for a thinker. But as regards
the less personal arguments about woman, old-world Germany here speaks
through the mouth of Nietzsche, as through that of Hartmann; the
Germany whose women, in contrast to those of France and England, have
for centuries been relegated to the domestic and strictly private life.
We may recognise in these German writers generally that they have an
eye for the profound antagonism and perpetual war between the sexes,
which Stuart Mill neither saw nor understood. But the injustice to
man and the rather tame fairness to woman, in which Mill's admirable
emancipatory attempt occasionally results, is nevertheless greatly to
be preferred to Nietzsche's brutal unfairness, which asserts that in
our treatment of women we ought to return to "the vast common sense of
old Asia."

Finally, in his conflict with pessimism Nietzsche had Eugen Dühring
(especially in his _Werth des Lebens_) as a forerunner, and this
circumstance seems to have inspired him with so much ill-will, so much
exasperation indeed, that in a polemic now open, now disguised, he
calls Dühring his ape. Dühring is a horror to him as a plebeian, as
an Antisemite, as the apostle of revenge, and as the disciple of the
Englishmen and of Comte; but Nietzsche has not a word to say about
Dühring's very remarkable qualities, to which such epithets as these
do not apply. But we can easily understand, taking Nietzsche's own
destiny into consideration, that Dühring, the blind man, the neglected
thinker who despises official scholars, the philosopher who teaches
outside the universities, who, in spite of being so little pampered by
life, loudly proclaims his love of life--should appear to Nietzsche as
a caricature of himself. This was, however, no reason for his now and
then adopting Dühring's abusive tone. And it must be confessed that,
much as Nietzsche wished to be what, for that matter, he was--a Polish
_szlachcic_, a European man of the world and a cosmopolitan thinker--in
one respect he always remained the German professor: in the rude abuse
in which his uncontrolled hatred of rivals found vent; and, after
all, his only rivals as a modern German philosopher were Hartmann and

It is strange that this man, who learned such an immense amount from
French moralists and psychologists like La Rochefoucauld, Chamfort
and Stendhal, was able to acquire so little of the self-control of
their form. He was never subjected to the restraint which the literary
tone of France imposes upon every writer as regards the mention and
exhibition of his own person. For a long time he seems to have striven
to discover himself and to become completely himself. In order to find
himself he crept into his solitude, as Zarathustra into his cave. By
the time he had succeeded in arriving at full independent development
and felt the rich flow of individual thought within him, he had lost
all external standards for measuring his own value; all bridges to the
world around him were broken down. The fact that no recognition came
from without only aggravated his self-esteem. The first glimmer of
recognition further exalted this self-esteem. At last it closed above
his head and darkened this rare and commanding intellect.

As he stands disclosed in his incompleted life-work, he is a writer
well worth studying.

My principal reason for calling attention to him is that Scandinavian
literature appears to me to have been living quite long enough on the
ideas that were put forward and discussed in the last decade. It looks
as though the power of conceiving great ideas were on the wane, and
even as though receptivity for them were fast vanishing; people are
still busy with the same doctrines, certain theories of heredity, a
little Darwinism, a little emancipation of woman, a little morality of
happiness, a little freethought, a little worship of democracy, etc.
And as to the culture of our "cultured" people, the level represented
approximately by the Revue des Deux Mondes threatens to become the
high-water mark of taste. It does not seem yet to have dawned on the
best among us that the finer, the only true culture begins on the far
side of the _Revue des Deux Mondes_ in the great personality, rich in

The intellectual development of Scandinavia has advanced comparatively
rapidly in its literature. We have seen great authors rise above
all orthodoxy, though they began by being perfectly simple-hearted
believers. This is very honourable, but in the case of those who cannot
rise higher still, it is nevertheless rather meagre. In the course of
the 'seventies it became clear to almost all Scandinavian authors that
it would no longer do to go on writing on the basis of the Augsburg
Confession. Some quietly dropped it, others opposed it more or less
noisily; while most of those who abandoned it entrenched themselves
against the public, and to some extent against the bad conscience of
their own childhood, behind the established Protestant morality; now
and then, indeed, behind a good, everyday soup-stock morality--I call
it thus because so many a soup has been served from it.

But be that as it may, attacks on existing prejudices and defence of
existing institutions threaten at present to sink into one and the same
commonplace familiarity.

Soon, I believe, we shall once more receive a lively impression
that art cannot rest content with ideas and ideals for the average
mediocrity, any more than with remnants of the old' catechisms; but
that great art demands intellects that stand on a level with the most
individual personalities of contemporary thought, in exceptionality, in
independence, in defiance and in aristocratic self-supremacy.



More than ten years have gone by since I first called attention to
Friedrich Nietzsche. My essay on "Aristocratic Radicalism" was the
first study of any length to be devoted, in the whole of Europe, to
this man, whose name has since flown round the world and is at this
moment one of the most famous among our contemporaries. This thinker,
then almost unknown and seldom mentioned, became, a few years later,
the fashionable philosopher in every country of Europe, and this while
the great man, to whose lot had suddenly fallen the universal fame he
had so passionately desired, lived on without a suspicion of it all, a
living corpse cut off from the world by incurable insanity.

Beginning with his native land, which so long as he retained his powers
never gave him a sign of recognition, his writings have now made their
way in every country. Even in France, usually so loth to admit foreign,
and especially German, influence, his character and his doctrine have
been studied and expounded again and again. In Germany, as well as
outside it, a sort of school has been formed, which appeals to his
authority and not unfrequently compromises him, or rather itself, a
good deal. The opposition to him is conducted sometimes (as by Ludwig
Stein) on serious and scientific lines, although from narrow pedagogic
premises; sometimes (as by Herr Max Nordau) with sorry weapons and with
the assumed superiority of presumptuous mediocrity.

Interesting articles and books on Nietzsche have been written by Peter
Gast and Lou von Salomé in German and by Henri Lichtenberger in French;
and in addition Nietzsche's sister, Frau Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche,
has not only published an excellent edition of his collected works
(including his youthful sketches), but has written his Life (and
published his Correspondence).

My old essay on Nietzsche has thus long ago been outstripped by
later works, the writers of which were able to take a knowledge of
Nietzsche's work for granted and therefore to examine his writings
without at the same time having to acquaint the reader with their
contents. That essay, it may be remembered, occasioned an exchange
of words between Prof. Höffding and myself, in the course of which I
had the opportunity of expressing my own views more clearly and of
showing what points they had in common with Nietzsche's, and where they
diverged from his.[1] As, of course, these polemical utterances of mine
were not translated into foreign languages, no notice was taken of them
anywhere abroad.

The first essay itself, on the other hand, which was soon translated,
brought me in a number of attacks, which gradually acquired a perfectly
stereotyped formula. In an article by a Germanised Swede, who wanted to
be specially spiteful, I was praised for having in that essay broken
with my past and resolutely renounced the set of liberal opinions
and ideas I had hitherto championed. Whatever else I might be blamed
for, it had to be acknowledged that twice in my life I had been the
spokesman of German ideas, in my youth of Hegel's and in my maturer
years of Nietzsche's. In a book by a noisy German charlatan living in
Paris, Herr Nordau, it was shortly afterwards asserted that if Danish
parents could guess what I was really teaching their children at the
University of Copenhagen, they would kill me in the street--a downright
incitement to murder, which was all the more comic in its pretext,
as admission to my lectures has always been open to everybody, the
greater part of these lectures has appeared in print, and, finally,
twenty years ago the parents used very frequently to come and hear
me. It was repeated in the same quarter that after being a follower
of Stuart Mill, I had in that essay turned my back on my past, since
I had now appeared as an adherent of Nietzsche. This last statement
was afterwards copied in a very childish book by a Viennese lady who,
without a notion of the actual facts, writes away, year in, year out,
on Scandinavian literature for the benefit of the German public. This
nonsense was finally disgorged once more in 1899 by Mr. Alfred Ipsen,
who contributed to the London _Athenæum_ surveys of Danish literature,
among the virtues of which impartiality did not find a place.

In the face of these constantly repeated assertions from abroad, I may
be permitted to make it clear once more--as I have already shown in
_Tilskueren_ in 1890 (p. 259)--that my principles have not been in the
slightest way modified through contact with Nietzsche. When I became
acquainted with him I was long past the age at which it is possible
to change one's fundamental view of life. Moreover, I maintained many
years ago, in reply to my Danish opponents, that my first thought with
regard to a philosophical book was by no means to ask whether what
it contains is right or wrong: "I go straight through the book to
the man behind it. And my first question is this: What is the value
of this man, is he interesting, or not? If he is, then his books are
undoubtedly worth knowing. Questions of right or wrong are seldom
applicable in the highest intellectual spheres, and their answering
is not unfrequently of relatively small importance. The first lines I
wrote about Nietzsche were therefore to the effect that he deserved to
be studied and _contested_. I rejoiced in him, as I rejoice in every
powerful and uncommon individuality." And three years later I replied
to the attack of a worthy and able Swiss professor, who had branded
Nietzsche as a reactionary and a cynic, in these words, amongst others:
"No mature reader studies Nietzsche with the latent design of adopting
his opinions, still less with that of propagating them. We are not
children in search of instruction, but sceptics in search of men, and
we rejoice when we have found a man--the rarest thing there is."

It seems to me that this is not exactly the language of an adherent,
and that my critics might spare some of their powder and shot as
regards my renunciation of ideas. It is a nuisance to be forced now and
then to reply in person to all the allegations that are accumulated
against one year by year in the European press; but when others never
write a sensible word about one, it becomes an obligation at times to
stand up for one's self.

My personal connection with Nietzsche began with his sending me his
book, _Beyond Good and Evil_. I read it, received a strong impression,
though not a clear or decided one, and did nothing further about
it--for one reason, because I receive every day far too many books
to be able to acknowledge them. But as in the following year _The
Genealogy of Morals_ was sent me by the author, and as this book was
not only much clearer in itself, but also threw new light on the
earlier one, I wrote Nietzsche a few lines of thanks, and this led to a
correspondence which was interrupted by Nietzsche's attack of insanity
thirteen months later.

The letters he sent me in that last year of his conscious life appear
to me to be of no little psychological and biographical interest.

[1] See _Tilskueren_ (Copenhagen) for August and November-December
1889, January, February-March, April and May 1890.



_Copenhagen_, Nov. 26, 1887.


A year ago I received through your publisher your work _Beyond Good
and Evil_; the other day your latest book reached me in the same way.
Of your other books I have _Human, all-too-Human_. I had just sent the
two volumes I possess to the binder, when _The Genealogy of Morals_
arrived, so that I have not been able to compare it with the earlier
works, as I mean to do. By degrees I shall read everything of yours

This time, however, I am anxious to express at once my sincere thanks
for the book sent. It is an honour to me to be known to you, and known
in such a way that you should wish to gain me as a reader.

A new and original spirit breathes to me from your books. I do not yet
fully understand what I have read; I cannot always see your intention.
But I find much that harmonises with my own ideas and sympathies,
the depreciation of the ascetic ideals and the profound disgust with
democratic mediocrity, your aristocratic radicalism. Your contempt for
the morality of pity is not yet clear to me. There were also in the
other work some reflections on women in general which did not agree
with my own line of thought. Your nature is so absolutely different
from mine that it is not easy for me to feel at home. In spite of your
universality you are very German in your mode of thinking and writing.
You are one of the few people with whom I should enjoy a talk.

I know nothing about you. I see with astonishment that you are
a professor and doctor. I congratulate you in any case on being
intellectually so little of a professor.

I do not know what you have read of mine. My writings only attempt the
solution of modest problems. For the most part they are only to be had
in Danish. For many years I have not written German. I have my best
public in the Slavonic countries, I believe. I have lectured in Warsaw
for two years in succession, and this year in Petersburg and Moscow,
in French. Thus I endeavour to break through the narrow limits of my
native land.

Although no longer young, I am still one of the most inquisitive of
men and one of the most eager to learn. You will therefore not find me
closed against your ideas, even when I differ from you in thought and
feeling. I am often stupid, but never in the least narrow.

Let me have the pleasure of a few lines if you think it worth the

Yours gratefully,



_Nice_, Dec. 2, 1887.


A few readers whom one honours and beyond them no readers at all--that
is really what I desire. As regards the latter part of this wish, I am
bound to say my hope of its realisation is growing less and less. All
the more happy am I _in satis sunt pauci_, that the _pauci_ do not fail
and have never failed me. Of the living amongst them I will mention (to
name only those whom you are certain to know) my distinguished friend
Jakob Burkhardt, Hans von Bülow, H. Taine, and the Swiss poet Keller;
of the dead, the old Hegelian Bruno Bauer and Richard Wagner. It gives
me sincere pleasure that so good a European and missionary of culture
as yourself will in future be numbered amongst them; I thank you with
all my heart for this proof of your goodwill.

I am afraid you will find it a difficult position. I myself have no
doubt that my writings in one way or another are still "very German."
You will, I am sure, feel this all the more markedly, being so spoilt
by yourself; I mean, by the free and graceful French way in which you
handle the language (a more familiar way than mine). With me a great
many words have acquired an incrustation of foreign salts and taste
differently on my tongue and on those of my readers. On the scale of
my experiences and circumstances the predominance is given to the
rarer, remoter, more attenuated tones as against the normal, medial
ones. Besides (as an old musician, which is what I really am), I have
an ear for quarter-tones. Finally--and this probably does most to make
my books obscure--there is in me a distrust of dialectics, even of
reasons. What a person already holds "true" or has not yet acknowledged
as true; seems to me to depend mainly on his courage, on the relative
strength of his courage (I seldom have the courage for what I really

The expression _Aristocratic Radicalism_, which you employ, is very
good. It is, permit me to say, the cleverest thing I have yet read
about myself.

How far this mode of thought has carried me already, how far it will
carry me yet--I am almost afraid to imagine. But there are certain
paths which do not allow one to go backward and so I go forward,
because I _must_.

That I may not neglect anything on my part that might facilitate your
access to my cave--that is, my philosophy--my Leipzig publisher shall
send you all my older books _en bloc_. I recommend you especially to
read the new prefaces to them (they have nearly all been republished);
these prefaces, if read in order, will perhaps throw some light upon
me, assuming that I am not obscurity in itself (obscure in myself) as
_obscurissimus obscurorum virorum_. For that is quite possible.

Are you a musician? A work of mine for chorus and orchestra is just
being published, a "Hymn to Life." This is intended to represent my
music to posterity and one day to be sung "in my memory"; assuming that
there is enough left of me for that. You see what posthumous thoughts
I have. But a philosophy like mine is like a grave--it takes one
from among the living. _Bene vixit qui bene latuit_--was inscribed on
Descartes' tombstone. What an epitaph, to be sure!

I too hope we may meet some day,



N.B.--I am staying this winter at Nice. My summer address is
Sils-Maria, Upper-Engadine, Switzerland--I have resigned my
professorship at the University. I am three parts blind.


_Copenhagen_, Dec. 15, 1887.


The last words of your letter are those that have made most impression
on me; those in which you tell me that your eyes are seriously
affected. Have you consulted good oculists, the best? It alters one's
whole psychological life if one cannot see well. You owe it to all
who honour you to do everything possible for the preservation and
improvement of your sight.

I have put off answering your letter because you announced the sending
of a parcel of books, and I wished to thank you for them at the same
time. But as the parcel has not yet arrived I will send you a few words
to-day. I have your books back from the binder and have gone into them
as deeply as I was able amid the stress of preparing lectures and all
kinds of literary and political work.

December 17.

I am quite willing to be called a "good European," less so to
be called a "missionary of culture." I have a horror of all
missionary effort--because I have come across none but moralising
missionaries--and I am afraid I do not altogether believe in what is
called culture. Our culture as a whole cannot inspire enthusiasm, can
it? and what would a missionary be without _enthusiasm_! In other
words, I am more isolated than you think. All I meant by being German
was that you write more for yourself, think more of yourself in
writing, than for the general public; whereas most non--German writers
have been obliged to force themselves into a certain discipline of
style, which no doubt makes the latter clearer and more plastic, but
necessarily deprives it of all profundity and compels the writer to
keep to himself his most intimate and best individuality, the anonymous
in him. I have thus been horrified at times to see how little of my
inmost self is more than hinted at in my writings.

I am no connoisseur in music. The arts of which I have some notion are
sculpture and painting; I have to thank them for my deepest artistic
impressions. My ear is undeveloped. In my young days this was a great
grief to me. I used to play a good deal and worked at thorough-bass for
a few years, but nothing came of it. I can enjoy good music keenly, but
still am one of the uninitiated.

I think I can trace in your works certain points of agreement with
my own taste: your predilection for Beyle, for instance, and for
Taine; but the latter I have not seen for seventeen years. I am not so
enthusiastic about his work on the Revolution as you seem to be. He
deplores and harangues an earthquake.

I used the expression "aristocratic radicalism" because it so exactly
defines my own political convictions. I am a little hurt, however,
at the offhand and impetuous pronouncements against such--phenomena
as socialism and anarchism in your works. The anarchism of Prince
Kropotkin, for instance, is no stupidity. The name, of course, is
nothing. Your intellect, which is usually so dazzling, seems to me to
fall a trifle short where truth is to be found in a nuance. Your views
on the origin of the moral ideas interest me in the highest degree.

You share--to my delighted astonishment--a certain repugnance which I
feel for Herbert Spencer. With us he passes for the god of philosophy.
However, it is as a rule a distinct merit with these Englishmen that
their not very high-soaring intellect shuns hypotheses, whereas
hypothesis has destroyed the supremacy of German philosophy. Is
not there a great deal that is hypothetical in your ideas of caste
distinctions as the source of various moral concepts?

I know Rée whom you attack, have met him in Berlin; he was a quiet man,
rather distinguished in his bearing, but a somewhat dry and limited
intellect. He was living--according to his own account, as brother and
sister--with a quite young and intelligent Russian lady, who published
a year or two ago a book called _Der Kampf um Gott_, but this gives no
idea of her genuine gifts.

I am looking forward to receiving the books you promise me. I hope in
future you will not lose sight of me.




_Nice_, Jan. 8, 1888.

You should not object to the expression "missionary of culture." What
better way is there of being one in our day than that of "missionising"
one's disbelief in culture? To have understood that our European
culture is a vast problem and by no means a solution--is not such a
degree of introspection and self-conquest nowadays culture itself?

I am surprised my books have not yet reached you. I shall not omit to
send a reminder to Leipzig. At Christmas time Messieurs the publishers
are apt to lose their heads. Meanwhile may I be allowed to bring to
your notice a daring curiosity over which no publisher has authority,
an _ineditum_ of mine that is among the most personal things I can
show. It is the fourth part of my _Zarathustra_; its proper title, with
regard to what precedes and follows it, should be--

_Zarathustra's Temptation_

An Interlude.

Perhaps this is my best answer to your question about my problem of
pity. Besides which, there are excellent reasons for gaining admission
to "me" by this particular secret door; provided that one crosses the
threshold with your eyes and ears. Your essay on Zola reminded me once
more, like everything I have met with of yours (the last was an essay
in the Goethe Year-book), in the most agreeable way of your natural
tendency towards every kind of psychological optics. When working out
the most difficult mathematical problems of the _âme moderne_ you are
as much in your element as a German scholar in such case is apt to be
out of his. Or do you perhaps think more favourably of present-day
Germans? It seems to me that they become year by year more clumsy
and rectangular _in rebus psychologicis_ (in direct contrast to the
Parisians, with whom everything is becoming _nuance_ and mosaic), so
that all events below the surface escape their notice. For example, my
_Beyond Good and Evil_--what an awkward position it has put them in!
Not one intelligent word has reached me about this book, let alone an
intelligent sentiment. I do not believe even the most well-disposed of
my readers has discovered that he has here to deal with the logical
results of a perfectly definite philosophical _sensibility_, and not
with a medley of a hundred promiscuous paradoxes and heterodoxies.
Nothing of the kind has been "experienced"; my readers do not bring to
it a thousandth part of the passion and suffering that is needed. An
"immoralist!" This does not suggest anything to them.

By the way, the Goncourts in one of their prefaces claim to have
invented the phrase _document humain_. But for all that M. Taine may
well be its real originator.

You are right in what you say about "haranguing an earthquake "; but
such Quixotism is among the most honourable things on this earth.

With the greatest respect,




_Copenhagen_, Jan. 11, 1888.


Your publisher has apparently forgotten to send me your books, but I
have to-day received your letter with thanks. I take the liberty of
sending you herewith one of my books in proof (because unfortunately
I have no other copy at hand), a collection of essays intended for
_export_, therefore not my best wares. They date from various times
and are all too polite, too laudatory, too idealistic in tone. I never
really say all I think in them. The paper on Ibsen is no doubt the
best, but the translation of the verses, which I had done for me, is
unfortunately wretched.

There is one Scandinavian writer whose works would interest you, if
only they were translated: _Sören Kierkegaard_; he lived from 1813
to 1855, and is in my opinion one of the profoundest psychologists
that have ever existed. A little book I wrote about him (translated,
Leipzig, 1879) gives no adequate idea of his genius, as it is a sort
of polemical pamphlet written to counteract his influence. But in a
psychological respect it is, I think, the most subtle thing I have

The essay in the Goethe Year-book was unfortunately shortened by more
than a third, as the space had been reserved for me. It is a good deal
better in Danish.

If you happen to read Polish, I will send you a little book that I have
published only in that language.

I see the new _Rivista Contemporanea_ of Florence has printed a paper
of mine on Danish literature. You must not read it. It is full of the
most ridiculous mistakes. It is translated from the Russian, I must
tell you. I had allowed it to be translated into Russian from my French
text, but could not check this translation; now it appears in Italian
from the Russian with fresh absurdities; amongst others in the names
(on account of the Russian pronunciation), G for H throughout.

I am glad you find in me something serviceable to yourself. For the
last four years I have been the most detested man in Scandinavia. Every
day the papers rage against me, especially since my last long quarrel
with Björnson, in which the moral German papers all took part against
me. I dare say you know his absurd play, _A Gauntlet_, his propaganda
for male virginity and his covenant with the spokeswomen of "the demand
for equality in morals." Anything like it was certainly unheard of till
now. In Sweden these insane women have formed great leagues in which
they vow "only to marry virgin men." I suppose they get a guarantee
with them, like watches, only the guarantee for the future is not
likely to be forthcoming.

I have read the three books of yours that I know again and again.
There are two or three bridges leading from my inner world to yours:
Cæsarism, hatred of pedantry, a sense for Beyle, etc., but still most
of it is strange to me. Our experiences appear to be so infinitely
dissimilar. You are without doubt the most suggestive of all German

Your German literature! I don't know what is the matter with it.
I fancy all the brains must go into the General Staff or the
administration. The whole life of Germany and all your institutions
are spreading the _most hideous uniformity_, and even authorship is
stifled by publishing.

Your obliged and respectful,



_Nice_, Feb. 19, 1888.

You have laid me under a most agreeable obligation with your
contribution to the idea of "Modernity," for it happens that this
winter I am circling round this paramount problem of values, very much
from above and in the manner of a bird, and with the best intention of
looking down upon the modern world with as unmodern an eye as possible.
I admire--let me confess it--the tolerance of your judgment, as much
as the moderation of your sentences. How you suffer these "little
children" to come unto you! Even Heyse!

On my next visit to Germany I propose to take up the psychological
problem of Kierkegaard and at the same time to renew acquaintance with
your older literature. It will be of use to me in the best sense of
the word--and will serve to restore good humour to my own severity and
arrogance of judgment.

My publisher telegraphed to me yesterday that the books had gone to
you. I will spare you and myself the story of why they were delayed.
Now, my dear Sir, may you put a good face on a bad bargain, I mean on
this Nietzsche literature.

I myself cherish the notion of having given the "new Germans" the
richest, most actual and most independent books of any they possess;
also of being in my own person a capital event in the crisis of the
determination of values. But this may be an error; and, what is more, a
piece of foolishness--I do not want to have to believe anything [of the
sort] about myself.

One or two further remarks: they concern my firstlings (the _Juvenilia_
and _Juvenalia_).

The pamphlet against Strauss, the wicked merrymaking of a "very free
spirit" at the expense of one who thought himself such, led to a
terrific scandal; I was already a _Professor Ordinarius_ at the time,
therefore in spite of my twenty-seven years a kind of authority and
something acknowledged. The most unbiassed view of this affair, in
which almost every "notability" took part for or against me, and in
which an insane quantity of paper was covered with printer's ink, is
to be found in Karl Hillebrand's _Zeiten, Völker und Menschen_, second
volume. The trouble was not that I had jeered at the senile bungling of
an eminent critic, but that I had caught German taste _in flagranti_
in compromising tastelessness; for in spite of all party differences
of religion and theology it had unanimously admired Strauss's _Alten
und Neuen Glauben_ as a masterpiece of freedom and subtlety of thought
(even the style!). My pamphlet was the first onslaught on German
culture (that "culture" which they imagined to have gained the victory
over France). The word "Culture-Philistine," which I then invented, has
remained in the language as a survival of the raging turmoil of that

The two papers on Schopenhauer and Richard Wagner appear to me to-day
to contain self-confessions, above all promises to myself, rather
than any real psychology of those two masters, who are at the same
time profoundly related and profoundly antagonistic to me--(I was the
first to distill a sort of unity out of them both; at present this
superstition is much to the fore in German culture--that all Wagnerites
are followers of Schopenhauer. It was otherwise when I was young. Then
it was the last of the Hegelians who adhered to Wagner, and "Wagner and
Hegel" was still the watchword of the 'fifties).

Between _Thoughts out of Season_ and _Human, all-too-Human_ there lies
a crisis and a skin-casting. Physically too: I lived for years in
extreme proximity to death. This was my great good fortune: I forgot
myself, I outlived myself ... I have performed the same trick once

So now we have each presented gifts to the other: two travellers, it
seems to me, who are glad to have met.

I remain,

Yours most sincerely,



_Copenhagen_, March 7, 1888.


I imagine you to be living in fine spring weather; up here we are
buried in abominable snowdrifts and have been cut off from Europe for
several days. To make things worse, I have this evening been talking to
some hundred imbeciles, and everything looks grey and dreary around me,
so to revive my spirits a little I will thank you for your letter of
February 19 and your generous present of books.

As I was too busy to write to you at once, I sent you a volume on
German Romanticism which I found on my shelves. I should be very sorry,
however, that you should interpret my sending it otherwise than as a
silent expression of thanks.

The book was written in 1873 and revised in 1886; but my German
publisher has permitted himself a number of linguistic and other
alterations, so that the first two pages, for instance, are hardly mine
at all. Wherever he does not understand my meaning, he puts something
else, and declares that what I have written is not German.

Moreover, the man promised to buy the rights of the old translation of
my book, but from very foolish economy has not done so; the consequence
is that the German courts have suppressed my book in two instances
as pirated(!)--because I had included in it fragments of the old
translation--while the real pirate is allowed to sell my works freely.

The probable result of this will be that I shall withdraw entirely from
German literature.

I sent that volume because I had no other. But the first one on the
_émigrés_, the fourth on the English and the fifth on the French
romanticists are all far, far better; written _con amore_.

The title of the book, _Moderne Geister_, is fortuitous. I have written
some twenty volumes. I wanted to put together for abroad a volume on
personalities whose names would be familiar. That is how it came about.
Some things in it have cost a good deal of study, such as the paper on
Tegnér, which tells the truth about him for the first time. Ibsen will
certainly interest you as a personality. Unfortunately as a man he does
not stand on the same level that he reaches as a poet. Intellectually
he owes much to Kierkegaard, and he is still strongly permeated by
theology. Björnson in his latest phase has become just an ordinary

For more than three years I have not published a book; I felt too
unhappy. These three years have been among the hardest of my life, and
I see no sign of the approach of better times. However, I am now going
to set about the publication of the sixth volume of my work and another
book besides. It will take a deal of time.

I was delighted with all the fresh books, turning them over and reading

The youthful books are of great value to me; they make it far easier to
understand you; I am now leisurely ascending the steps that lead up to
your intellect. With _Zarathustra_ I began too precipitately. I prefer
to advance upwards rather than to dive head first as though into a sea.

I knew Hillebrand's essay and read years ago some bitter attacks
on the book about Strauss. I am grateful to you for the word
culture-philistine; I had no idea it was yours. I take no offence at
the criticism of Strauss, although I have feelings of piety for the old
gentleman. Yet he was always the Tübingen collegian.

Of the other works I have at present only studied _The Dawn of Day_
at all closely. I believe I understand the book thoroughly, many of
its ideas have also been mine, others are new to me or put into a new
shape, but not on that account _strange_ to me.

One solitary remark, so as not to make this letter too long. I am
delighted with the aphorism on the hazard of marriage (Aphorism 150).
But why do you not _dig_ deeper here? You speak somewhere with a
certain reverence of marriage, which by implying an emotional ideal has
idealised emotion--here, however, you are more blunt and forcible.
Why not for once say the _full_ truth about it? I am of opinion that
the institution of marriage, which may have been very useful in taming
brutes, causes more misery to mankind than even the Church has done.
Church, monarchy, marriage, property, these are to my mind four old
venerable institutions which mankind will have to reform _from the
foundations_ in order to be able to breathe freely. And of these
marriage alone kills the individuality, paralyses liberty and is the
embodiment of a paradox. But the shocking thing about it is that
humanity is still too coarse to be able to shake it off. The most
emancipated writers, so called, still speak of marriage with a devout
and virtuous air which maddens me. And they gain their point, since it
is impossible to say what one could put in its place for the mob. There
is nothing else to be done but slowly to transform opinion. What do you
think about it?

I should like very much to hear how it is with your eyes. I was glad to
see how plain and clear your writing is.

Externally, I suppose, you lead a calm and peaceful life down there?
Mine is a life of conflict which wears one out. In these realms I
am even more hated now than I was seventeen years ago; this is not
pleasant in itself, though it is gratifying in so far as it proves to
me that I have not yet lost my vigour nor come to terms on any point
with sovereign mediocrity.

Your attentive and grateful reader,



_Nice_, March 27, 1888.


I should much have liked to thank you before this for so rich and
thoughtful a letter: but my health has been troubling me, so that I
have fallen badly into arrears with all good things. In my eyes, I
may say in passing, I have a dynamometer for my general state; since
my health in the main has once more improved, they have become
stronger than I had ever believed possible--they have put to shame the
prophecies of the very best German oculists. If Messieurs Gräfe _et hoc
genus omne_ had turned out right, I should long ago have been blind. As
it is, I have come to No. 3 spectacles--bad enough!--_but I still see_.
I speak of this worry because you were sympathetic enough to inquire
about it, and because during the last few weeks my eyes have been
particularly weak and irritable.

I feel for you in the North, now so wintry and gloomy; how does one
manage to keep one's soul erect there? I admire almost every man who
does not lose faith in himself under a cloudy sky, to say nothing
of his faith in "humanity," in "marriage," in "property," in the
"State." ... In Petersburg I should be a nihilist: here I believe as
a plant believes, in the sun. The sun of Nice--you cannot call that
a prejudice. We have had it at the expense of all the rest of Europe.
God, with the cynicism peculiar to him, lets it shine upon us idlers,
"philosophers" and sharpers more brightly than upon the far worthier
military heroes of the "Fatherland."

But then, with the instinct of the Northerner, you have chosen the
strongest of all stimulants to help you to endure life in the North:
war, the excitement of aggression, the Viking raid. I divine in
your writings the practised soldier; and not only "mediocrity," but
perhaps especially the more independent or individual characters of
the Northern mind may be constantly challenging you to fight. How much
of the "parson," how much theology is still left behind in all this
idealism!... To me it would be still worse than a cloudy sky, to have
to make oneself angry over things _which do not concern one_.

So much for this time; it is little enough. Your _German Romanticism_
has set me thinking, how this whole movement actually only reached
its goal as music (Schumann, Mendelssohn, Weber, Wagner, Brahms); as
literature it remained a great promise. The French were more fortunate.
I am afraid I am too much of a musician not to be a romanticist.
Without music life to me would be a mistake.

With cordial and grateful regards I remain, dear Sir,




_Copenhagen_, April 3, 1888.


You have called the postman the medium of ill-mannered invasions. That
is very true as a rule, and should be _sat. sapienti_ not to trouble
you. I am not an intruder by nature, so little in fact that I lead an
almost isolated life, am indeed loth to write letters and, like all
authors, loth to write at all.

Yesterday, however, when I had received your letter and taken up one of
your books, I suddenly felt a sort of vexation at the idea that nobody
here in Scandinavia knew anything about you, and I soon determined to
make you known at a stroke. The newspaper cutting will tell you that
(having just finished a series of lectures on Russia) I am announcing
fresh lectures on your writings. For many years I have been obliged to
repeat all my lectures, as the University cannot hold the audiences;
that is not likely to be the case this time, as your name is so
absolutely new, but the people who will come and get an impression of
your works will not be of the dullest.

As I should very much like to have an idea of your appearance, _I beg
you to give me a portrait of yourself_. I enclose my last photograph.
I would also ask you to tell me quite briefly when and where you
were born and in what years you published (or better, wrote) your
works, as they are not dated. If you have any newspaper that contains
these details, there will be no need to write. I am an unmethodical
person and possess neither dictionaries of authors nor other books of
reference in which your name might be found.

The youthful works--the _Thoughts out of Season_--have been very useful
to me. How young you were and enthusiastic, how frank and naïve I
There is much in the maturer books that I do not yet understand; you
appear to me often to hint at or generalise about entirely intimate,
personal data, giving the reader a beautiful casket without the key.
But most of it I understand. I was enchanted by the youthful work on
Schopenhauer; although personally I owe little to Schopenhauer, it
seemed to speak to me from the soul.

One or two pedantic corrections: _Joyful Wisdom_, p. 116. The words
quoted are not Chamfort's last, they are to be found in his _Caractères
et Anecdotes_: dialogue between M. D. and M. L. in explanation of the
sentence: _Peu de personnes et pen de choses m'intéressent, mais rien
ne m'intéresse moins que moi_. The concluding words are: en vivant et
_en voyant les hommes, il faut que le cour se brise ou se bronze_.

On p. 118 you speak of the elevation "in which Shakespeare places
Cæsar." I find Shakespeare's Cæsar pitiable. An act of high treason.
And this glorification of the miserable fellow whose only achievement
was to plunge a knife into a great man!

_Human, all-too-Human_, II, p. 59. A holy lie. "It is the only holy lie
that has become famous." No, Desdemona's last words are perhaps still
more beautiful and just as famous, often quoted in Germany at the time
when Jacobi was writing on Lessing. Am I not right?

These trifles are only to show you that I read you attentively. Of
course, there are very different matters that I might discuss with you,
but a letter is not the place for them.

If you read Danish, I should like to send you a handsomely got-up
little book on Holberg, which will appear in a week. Let me know
whether you understand our language. If you read Swedish, I call your
attention to Sweden's only genius, August Strindberg. When you write
about women you are very like him.

I hope you will have nothing but good to tell me of your eyes.

Yours sincerely,



_Torino (Italia) ferma in posta_, April 10, 1888.

But, my dear Sir, what a surprise is this!--Where have you found the
courage to propose to speak in public of a _vir obscurissimus_?...
Do you imagine that I am known in the beloved Fatherland? They treat
me there as if I were something singular and absurd, something that
for the present need not be _taken seriously_.... Evidently they have
an inkling that I do not take them seriously either: and how could
I, nowadays, when "German intellect" has become a _contradictio in
adjecto_!--My best thanks for the photograph. Unfortunately I have
none to send in return: my sister, who is married and lives in South
America, took with her the last portraits I possessed.

Enclosed is a little _vita_, the first I have ever written.

As regards the dates of composition of the different books, they are to
be found on the back of the cover of _Beyond Good and Evil_. Perhaps
you no longer have this cover.

_The Birth of Tragedy_ was written between the summer of 1870 and the
winter of 1871 (finished at Lugano, where I was living with the family
of Field-Marshal Moltke).

The _Thoughts out of Season_ between 1872 and the summer of 1875 (there
were to have been thirteen; luckily my health said No!).

What you say about Schopenhauer as Educator gives me great pleasure.
This little work serves me as a touchstone; he to whom it says nothing
personal has probably nothing to do with me either. In reality it
contains the whole plan according to which I have hitherto lived; it is
a rigorous promise.

_Human, all-too-Human_, with its two continuations, summer of
1876-1879. _The Dawn of Day_, 1880. _The Joyful Wisdom_, January 1882.
_Zarathustra_, 1883-1885 (each part in about ten days. Perfect state
of "inspiration." All conceived in the course of rapid walks: absolute
certainty, as though each sentence were shouted to one. While writing
the book, the greatest physical elasticity and sense of power).

_Beyond Good and Evil_, summer of 1885 in the Upper Engadine and the
following winter at Nice.

_The Genealogy_ decided on, carried out and sent ready for press to the
printer at Leipzig, all between July 10 and 30, 1887. (Of course there
are also _philologica_ of mine, but they do not concern you and me.)

I am now making an experiment with Turin; I shall stay here till June
5 and then go to the Engadine. The weather so far is wintry, harsh and
unpleasant. But the town superbly calm and favourable to my instincts.
The finest pavement in the world.

Sincere greetings from

Yours gratefully,


A pity I understand neither Danish nor Swedish.

_Vita_.--I was born on October 15, 1844, on the battlefield of Lützen.
The first name I heard was that of Gustavus Adolphus. My ancestors
were Polish noblemen (Niëzky); it seems the type has been well
maintained, in spite of three generations of German mothers. Abroad I
am usually taken for a Pole; this very winter the visitors' list at
Nice entered me _comme Polonais_. I am told my head occurs in Matejko's
pictures. My grandmother belonged to the Schiller-Goethe circles of
Weimar; her brother was Herder's successor in the position of General
Superintendent at Weimar. I had the good fortune to be a pupil of the
venerable Pforta School, from which so many who have made a name in
German literature have proceeded (Klopstock, Fichte, Schlegel, Ranke,
etc., etc.). We had masters who would have (or have) done honour to any
university. I studied at Bonn, afterwards at Leipzig; old Ritschl, then
the first philologist in Germany, singled me out almost from the first.
At twenty-two I was a contributor to the _Litterarisches Centralblatt_
(Zarncke). The foundation of the Philological Society of Leipzig, which
still exists, is due to me. In the winter of 1868-1869 the University
of Basle offered me a professorship; I was as yet not even a Doctor.
The University of Leipzig afterwards conferred the doctor's degree on
me, in a very honourable way, without any examination, and even without
a dissertation. From Easter 1869 to 1879 I was at Basle; I was obliged
to give up my rights as a German subject, since as an officer (Horse
Artillery) I should have been called up too frequently and my academic
duties would have been interfered with. I am none the less master
of two weapons, the sabre and the cannon--and perhaps of a third as
well.... At Basle everything went very well, in spite of my youth; it
sometimes happened, especially with candidates for the doctor's degree,
that the examinee was older than the examiner.

I had the great good fortune to form a cordial friendship with Jakob
Burkhardt, an unusual thing with that very hermit-like and secluded
thinker. A still greater piece of good fortune was that from the
earliest days of my Basle existence an indescribably close intimacy
sprang up between me and Richard and Cosima Wagner, who were then
living on their estate of Triebschen, near Lucerne, as though on an
island, and were cut off from all former ties. For some years we had
everything, great and small, in common, a confidence without bounds.
(You will find printed in Volume VII of Wagner's complete works a
"message" to me, referring to _The Birth of Tragedy_.) As a result
of these relations I came to know a large circle of persons (and
"personesses"), in fact pretty nearly everything that grows between
Paris and Petersburg. By about 1876 my health became worse. I then
spent a winter at Sorrento, with my old friend, Baroness Meysenbug
(_Memoirs of an Idealist_) and the sympathetic Dr. Rée. There was
no improvement. I suffered from an extremely painful and persistent
headache, which exhausted all my strength. This went on for a number
of years, till it reached such a climax of habitual suffering, that at
that time I had 200 days of torment in the year. The trouble must have
been due entirely to local causes, there is no neuropathic basis for
it of any sort. I have never had a symptom of mental disturbance; not
even of fever, nor of fainting. My pulse was at that time as slow as
that of the first Napoleon (= 60). My speciality was to endure extreme
pain, _cru, vert_, with perfect clarity, for two or three consecutive
days, accompanied by constant vomiting of bile. The report has been
put about that I was in a madhouse (and indeed that I died there).
Nothing is further from the truth. As a matter of fact my intellect
only came to maturity during that terrible time: witness the _Dawn of
Day_, which I wrote in 1881 during a winter of incredible suffering at
Genoa, away from doctors, friends or relations. This book serves me as
a sort of "dynamometer": I composed it with a minimum of strength and
health. From 1882 on I went forward again, very slowly, it is true:
the crisis was past (my father died very young, just at the age at
which I was myself so near to death). I have to use extreme care even
to-day; certain conditions of a climatic and meteorological order are
indispensable to me. It is not from choice but from necessity that I
spend the summer in the Upper Engadine and the winter at Nice.... After
all, my illness has been of the greatest use to me: it has released
me, it has restored to me the courage to be myself.... And, indeed, in
virtue of my instincts, I am a brave animal, a military one even. The
long resistance has somewhat exasperated my pride. Am I a philosopher,
do you ask?--But what does that matter!...


_Copenhagen_, April 29, 1888.


The first time I lectured on your works, the hall was not quite full,
an audience of perhaps a hundred and fifty, since no one knew who and
what you are. But as an important newspaper reported my first lecture,
and as I have myself written an article on you, interest was roused,
and next time the hall was full to bursting. Some three hundred people
listened with the greatest attention to my exposition of your works.
Nevertheless, I have not ventured to repeat the lectures, as has been
my practice for many years, since the subject is hardly of a popular
nature. I hope the result will be to get you some good readers in the

Your books now stand on one of my shelves, very handsomely bound. I
should be very glad to possess everything you have published.

When, in your first letter, you offered me a musical work of yours, a
_Hymn to Life_, I declined the gift from modesty, being no great judge
of music. Now I think I have deserved the work through my interest in
it and should be much obliged if you would have it sent to me.

I believe I may sum up the impression of my audience in the feeling of
a young painter, who said to me: "What makes this so interesting is
that it has not to do with books, _but with life_." If any objection is
taken to your ideas, it is that they are "too out-and-out."

It was unkind of you not to send me a photograph; I really only sent
mine to put you under an obligation. It is so little trouble to sit to
a photographer for a minute or two, and one knows a man far better when
one has an idea of his appearance.

Yours very sincerely,



_Turin_, May 4, 1888.


What you tell me gives me great pleasure and--let me confess it--still
more surprise. Be sure I shall owe you for it: you know, hermits are
not given to forgetting.

Meanwhile I hope my photograph will have reached you. It goes without
saying that I took steps, not exactly to be photographed (for I am
extremely distrustful of haphazard photographs), but to abstract a
photograph from somebody who had one of me. Perhaps I have succeeded; I
have not yet heard. If not, I shall avail myself of my next visit to
Munich (this autumn probably) to be taken again.

_The Hymn to Life_ will start on its journey to Copenhagen one of
these days. We philosophers are never more grateful than when we are
mistaken for artists. I am assured, moreover, by the best judges that
the Hymn is thoroughly fit for performance, singable, and sure in its
effect (--clear in form; this praise gave me the greatest pleasure).
Mottl, the excellent court conductor at Carlsruhe (the conductor of
the Bayreuth festival performances, you know), has given me hopes of a

I have just heard from Italy that the point of view of my second
_Thought out of Season_ has been very honourably mentioned in a survey
of German literature contributed by the Viennese scholar, Dr. von
Zackauer, at the invitation of the _Archivio storico_ of Florence. He
concludes his paper with it.

These last weeks at Turin, where I shall stay till June 5, have turned
out better than any I have known for years, above all more philosophic.
Almost every day for one or two hours I have reached such a pitch of
energy as to be able to view my whole conception from top to bottom;
so that the immense multiplicity of problems lies spread out beneath
me, as though in relief and clear in its outlines. This requires a
maximum of strength, for which I had almost given up hope. It all hangs
together; years ago it was already on the right course; one builds
one's philosophy like a beaver, one is forced to and does not know
it: but one has to _see_ all this, as I have now seen it, in order to
believe it.

I am so relieved, so strengthened, in such good humour--I hang a little
farcical tail on to the most serious things. What is the reason of all
this? Have I not the good _north winds_ to thank for it, the north
winds which do not always come from the Alps?--they come now and then
even from _Copenhagen_!

With greetings,

Your gratefully devoted,



_Turin_, May 23, 1888.


I should not like to leave Turin without telling you once more what a
great share you have had in my first _successful_ spring. The history
of my springs, for the last fifteen years at least, has been, I must
tell you, a tale of horror, a fatality of decadence and infirmity.
Places made no difference; it was as though no prescription, no diet,
no climate could change the essentially depressing character of this
time of year. But behold, Turin! And the first good news, _your_ news,
my dear Sir, which proved to me that I am alive.... For I am sometimes
apt to forget that I am alive. An accident, a question reminded me the
other day that one of life's leading ideas is positively quenched in
me, the idea of the _future_. No, wish, not the smallest cloudlet of a
wish before me! A bare expanse! Why should not a day from my seventieth
year be exactly like my day to-day? Have I lived too long in proximity
to death to be able any longer to open my eyes to fair possibilities.
--But certain it is that I now limit myself to thinking from day to
day--that I settle to-day what is to be done to-morrow--and not for
a single day beyond it! This may be irrational, unpractical, perhaps
also unchristian--that preacher on the Mount forbade this very "taking
thought for the morrow"--but it seems to me in the highest degree
philosophical. I gained more respect for myself than I had before:--I
understood that I had unlearnt how to wish, without even wanting to do

These weeks I have employed in "transvaluing values."--You understand
this trope?--After all, the alchemist is the most deserving kind of
man there is! I mean the man who makes of what is base and despised
something valuable, even gold. He alone confers wealth, the others
merely give change. My problem this time is rather a curious one: I
have asked myself what hitherto has been best hated, feared, despised
by mankind--and of that and nothing else I have made my "gold"....

If only I am not accused of false-coining! Or rather; that is what will

Has my photograph reached you? My mother has shown me the great
kindness of relieving me from the appearance of ungratefulness in
such a special case. It is to be hoped the Leipzig publisher, E. W.
Fritzsch, has also done his duty and sent off the Hymn.

In conclusion I confess to a feeling of curiosity. As it was denied me
to listen at the crack of the door to learn something about myself,
I should like to hear something in another way. Three words to
characterise the subjects of your different lectures--how much should I
learn from three words!

With cordial and devoted greetings,




_Copenhagen_ May 23, 1888.


For letter, portrait and music I send you my best thanks. The letter
and the music were an unqualified pleasure, the portrait might have
been better. It is a profile taken at _Naumburg_, characteristic in its
attitude, but with too little expression. You _must_ look different
from this; the writer of _Zarathustra_ must have many more secrets
written in his own face.

I concluded my lectures on Fr. Nietzsche before Whitsuntide. They
ended, as the papers say, in applause "which took the form of an
ovation." The ovation is yours almost entirely. I take the liberty of
communicating it to you herewith in writing. For I can only claim the
credit of reproducing, clearly and connectedly, and intelligibly to a
Northern audience, what you had originated.

I also tried to indicate your relation to various contemporaries,
to introduce my hearers into the workshop of your thought, to put
forward my own favourite ideas, where they coincided with yours,
to define the points on which I differed from you, and to give a
psychological portrait of Nietzsche the author. Thus much I may say
without exaggeration: your name is now very popular in all intelligent
circles in Copenhagen, and all over Scandinavia it is at least _known_.
You have nothing to thank me for; it has been a _pleasure_ to me to
penetrate into the world of your thoughts. My lectures are not worth
printing, as I do not regard pure philosophy as my special province and
am unwilling to print anything dealing with a subject in which I do not
feel sufficiently competent.

I am very glad you feel so invigorated physically and so well disposed
mentally. Here, after a long winter, we have mild spring weather. We
are rejoicing in the first green leaves and in a very well-arranged
Northern exhibition that has been opened at Copenhagen. All the French
artists of eminence (painters and sculptors) are also exhibiting here.
Nevertheless, I am longing to get away, but have to stay.

But this cannot interest you. I forgot to tell you: if you do not know
the Icelandic sagas, you must study them. You will find there a great
deal to confirm your hypotheses and theories about the morality of a
master race.

In one trifling detail you seem to have missed the mark. _Gothic_ has
certainly nothing to do with _good_ or _God_. It is connected with
giessen, he who emits the seed, and means stallion, man.

On the other hand, our philologists here think your suggestion of
_bonus--duonus_ is much to the point.

I hope that in future we shall never become entirely strangers to one

I remain your faithful reader and admirer,


15. NIETZSCHE to BRANDES. (Post-card.)

_Turin_, May 27, 1888.

What eyes you have! You are right, the Nietzsche of the photograph is
not yet the author of _Zarathustra_--he is a few years too young for

I am very grateful for the etymology of _Goth_; it is simply godlike.

I presume you are reading another letter of mine to-day.

Your gratefully attached



_Sils-Maria_, Sept. 13, 1888.


Herewith I do myself a pleasure--that of recalling myself to your
memory, by sending you a wicked little book, but one that is none the
less very seriously meant; the product of the _good_ days of Turin.
For I must tell you that since then there have been _evil_ days in
Superfluity; such a decline in health, courage and "will to life,"
to talk Schopenhauer, that the little spring idyll scarcely seemed
credible any longer. Fortunately I still possessed a document belonging
to it, the _Case of Wagner. A Musician's Problem_. Spiteful tongues
will prefer to call it _The Fall of Wagner_.

Much as you may disclaim music (--the most importunate of all the
Muses), and with however good reason, yet pray look at this piece of
musician's psychology. You, my dear Mr. Cosmopolitan, are far too
European in your ideas not to hear in it a hundred times more than my
so-called countrymen, the "musical" Germans.

After all, in this case I am a connoisseur _in rebus et personis_--and,
fortunately, enough of a musician by instinct to see that in this
ultimate question of values, the problem is accessible and _soluble_
through music.

In reality this pamphlet is almost written in French--I dare say it
would be easier to translate it into French than into German.

Could you give me one or two more Russian or French addresses to which
there would be some _sense_ in sending the pamphlet?

In a month or two something _philosophical_ may be expected; under the
very inoffensive title of _Leisure Hours of à Psychologist_ I am saying
agreeable and disagreeable things to the world at large--including that
intelligent nation, the Germans.

But all this is in the main nothing but recreation beside the main
thing: the name of the latter is _Transvaluation of all Values_. Europe
will have to discover a new Siberia, to which to consign the author of
these experiments with values.

I hope this high-spirited letter will find you in one of your usual
_resolute_ moods.

With kind remembrances,



Address till middle of November: Torino (Italia) ferma in posta.


_Copenhagen_, Oct. 6, 1888.


Your letter and valued gift found me in a raging fever of work. This
accounts for my delay in answering.

The mere sight of your handwriting gave me pleasurable excitement.

It is sad news that you have had a bad summer. I was foolish enough to
think that you had already got over all your physical troubles.

I have read the pamphlet with the greatest attention and much
enjoyment. I am not so unmusical that I cannot enter into the fun of
it. I am merely not an expert. A few days before receiving the little
book I heard a very fine performance of _Carmen_; what glorious music!
However, at the risk of exciting your wrath I confess that Wagner's
_Tristan und Isolde_ made an indelible impression on me. I once heard
this opera in Berlin, in a despondent, altogether shattered state of
mind, and I felt every note. I do not know whether the impression was
so deep because I was so ill.

Do you know Bizet's widow? You ought to send her the pamphlet. She
would like it. She is the sweetest, most charming of women, with a
nervous _tic_ that is curiously becoming, but perfectly genuine,
perfectly sincere and full of fire. Only she has married again (an
excellent man, a barrister named Straus, of Paris). I believe she
knows some German. I could get you her address, if it does not put you
against her that she has not remained true to her god--any more than
the Virgin Mary, Mozart's widow or Marie Louise.

Bizet's child is ideally beautiful and charming.--But I am gossiping.

I have given a copy of the book to the greatest of Swedish writers,
August Strindberg, whom I have entirely won over to you. He is a true
genius, only a trifle mad like most geniuses (and non-geniuses). The
other copy I shall also place with care.

Paris I am not well acquainted with now. But send a copy to the
following address: Madame la Princesse Anna Dmitrievna Ténicheff, Quai
Anglais 20, Petersburg. This lady is a friend of mine; she is also
acquainted with the musical world of Petersburg and will make you known
there. I have asked her before now to buy your works, but they were all
forbidden in Russia, even _Human, all-too-Human_.

It would also be as well to send a copy to Prince Urussov (who is
mentioned in Turgeniev's letters). He is greatly interested in
everything German, and is a man of rich gifts, an intellectual gourmet.
I do not remember his address for the moment, but can find it out.

I am glad that in spite of all bodily ills you are working so
vigorously and keenly. I am looking forward to all the things you
promise me.

It would give me great pleasure to be read by you, but unfortunately
you do not understand my language. I have produced an enormous amount
this summer. I have written two long new books (of twenty-four and
twenty-eight sheets), _Impressions of Poland and Impressions of
Russia_, besides entirely rewriting one of my oldest books, _Æsthetic
Studies_, for a new edition and correcting the proofs of all three
books myself. In another week or so I shall have finished this work;
then I give a series of lectures, writing at the same time another
series in French, and leave for Russia in the depth of winter to revive

That is the plan I propose for my winter campaign. May it not be a
Russian campaign in the bad sense.

I hope you will continue your friendly interest in me.

I remain,

Your faithfully devoted,



_Turin_, Oct. 20, 1888.


Once more your letter brought me a pleasant wind from the north; it
is in fact so far the only letter that puts a "good face," or any
face at all on my attack on Wagner. For people do not write to me. I
have irreparably offended even my nearest and dearest. There is, for
instance, my old friend, Baron Seydlitz of Munich, who unfortunately
happens to be President of the Munich Wagner Society; my still older
friend, _Justizrath_ Krug of Cologne, president of the local Wagner
Society; my brother-in-law, Dr. Bernhard Förster in South America,
the not unknown Anti--Semite, one of the keenest contributors to the
_Bayreuther Blätter_--and my respected friend, Malwida von Meysenbug,
the authoress of _Memoirs of an Idealist_, who continues to confuse
Wagner with Michel Angelo....

On the other side I have been given to understand that I must be on my
guard against the female Wagnerite: in certain cases she is said to
be without scruple. Perhaps Bayreuth will defend itself in the German
Imperial manner, by the prohibition of my writings--as "dangerous to
public morals"; for here the Emperor is a party to the case.

My dictum, "we all know the inæsthetic concept of the Christian
_Junker_," might even be interpreted as _lèse-majesté_.

Your intervention on behalf of Bizet's widow gave me great pleasure.
Please let me have her address; also that of prince Urussov. A copy
has been sent to your friend, the Princess Dmitrievna Ténicheff. When
my next book is published, which will be before very long (the title
is now _The Twilight of the Idols. Or, How to Philosophise with the
Hammer_), I should much like to send a copy to the Swede you introduce
to me in such laudatory terms. But I do not know where he lives. This
book is my philosophy _in nuce_--radical to the point of criminality....

As to the effect of _Tristan_, I, too, could tell strange tales. A
regular dose of mental anguish seems to me a splendid tonic before a
Wagnerian repast. The _Reichsgerichtsrath_ Dr. Wiener of Leipzig gave
me to understand that a Carlsbad cure was also a good thing....

Ah, how industrious you are! And idiot that I am, not to understand
Danish! I am quite willing to take your word for it that one can
"revive" in Russia better than elsewhere; I count any Russian book,
above all Dostoievsky (translated into French, for Heaven's sake not
German!!) among my greatest sources of relief.

Cordially and, with good reason, gratefully,




_Copenhagen,_ Nov. 16, 1888.


I have waited in vain for an answer from Paris to learn the address
of Madame Bizet. On the other hand, I now have the address of Prince
Urussov. He lives in Petersburg, Sergievskaia 79.

My three books are now out. I have begun my lectures here.

Curious it is how something in your letter and in your book about
Dostoievsky coincides with my own impressions of him. I have mentioned
you, too, in my work on Russia, when dealing with Dostoievsky. He is a
great poet, but an abominable creature, quite Christian in his emotions
and at the same time quite _sadique_. His whole morality is what you
have baptised slave-morality.

The mad Swede's name is August Strindberg; he lives here. His address
is Holte, near Copenhagen. He is particularly fond of you, because he
thinks he finds in you his own hatred of women. On this account he
calls you "modern" (irony of fate). On reading the newspaper reports
of my spring lectures, he said: "It is an astonishing thing about this
Nietzsche; much of what he says is just what I might have written." His
drama, _Père_, has appeared in French with a preface by Zola.

I feel mournful whenever I think of Germany. What a development is now
going on there! How sad to think that to all appearance one will never
in one's lifetime be a historical witness of the smallest good thing.

What a pity that so learned a philologist as you should not understand
Danish. I am doing all I can to prevent my books on Poland and Russia
being translated, so that I may not be expelled, or at least refused
the right of speaking when I next go there.

Hoping that these lines will find you still at Turin or will be
forwarded to you, I am,

Yours very sincerely,



_Torino, via Carlo Alberto_, 6, III.

Nov. 20, 1888.


Forgive me for answering at once. Curious things are now happening
in my life, things that are without precedent. First the day before
yesterday; now again. Ah, if you knew what I had just written when
your letter paid me its visit.

With a cynicism that will become famous in the world's history, I have
now related myself. The book is called _Ecce Homo_, and is an attack on
the Crucified without the slightest reservation; it ends in thunders
and lightnings against everything that is Christian or infected with
Christianity, till one is blinded and deafened. I am in fact the
first psychologist of Christianity and, as an old artilleryman, can
bring heavy guns into action, the existence of which no opponent of
Christianity has even suspected. The whole is the prelude to the
_Transvaluation of all Values_, the work that lies ready before me:
I swear to you that in two years we shall have the whole world in
convulsions. I am a fate.

Guess who come off worst in _Ecce Homo_? Messieurs the Germans! I have
told them terrible things.... The Germans, for instance, have it on
their conscience that they deprived the last _great_ epoch of history,
the Renaissance, of its meaning--at a moment when the Christian values,
the _décadence_ values, were worsted, when they were conquered in the
instincts even of the highest ranks of the clergy by the opposite
instincts, the instincts of life. To _attack_ the Church--that meant to
re-establish Christianity. (Cesare Borgia as pope--that would have been
the meaning of the Renaissance, its proper symbol.)

You must not be angry either, to find yourself brought forward at a
critical passage in the book--I wrote it just now--where I stigmatise
the conduct of my German friends towards me, their absolute leaving me
in the lurch as regards both fame and philosophy. Then you suddenly
appear, surrounded by a halo....

I believe implicitly what you say about Dostoievsky; I esteem him, on
the other hand, as the most valuable psychological material I know--I
am grateful to him in an extraordinary way, however antagonistic he may
be to my deepest instincts. Much the same as my relation to Pascal,
whom I almost love, since he has taught me such an infinite amount; the
only _logical_ Christian.

The day before yesterday I read, with delight and with a feeling of
being thoroughly at home, Les mariés, by Herr August Strindberg. My
sincerest admiration, which is only prejudiced by the feeling that I am
admiring myself a little at the same time.

Turin is still my residence.


NIETZSCHE, now a monster.

Where may I send you the _Twilight of the Idols_? If you will be at
Copenhagen another fortnight, no answer is necessary.


_Copenhagen_, Nov. 23, 1888.


Your letter found me to-day in full fever of work; I am lecturing here
on Goethe, repeat each lecture twice and yet people wait in line for
three quarters of an hour in the square before the University to get
standing-room. It amuses me to study the greatest of the great before
so many. I must stay here till the end of the year.

But on the other side there is the unfortunate circumstance that--as I
am informed--one of my old books, lately translated into Russian, has
been condemned in Russia to be publicly _burnt_ as "irreligious."

I already had to fear expulsion on account of my two last works on
Poland and Russia; now I must try to set in motion all the influence I
can command, in order to obtain permission to lecture in Russia this
winter. To make matters worse, nearly all letters to and from me are
now confiscated. There is great anxiety since the disaster at Borki. It
was just the same shortly after the famous attempts. Every letter was
snapped up.

It gives me lively satisfaction to see that you have again got through
so much. Believe me, I spread your propaganda wherever I can. So late
as last week I earnestly recommended Henrik Ibsen to study your works.
With him too you have some kinship, even if it is a very distant
kinship. Great and strong and unamiable, but yet _worthy_ of love,
is this singular person. Strindberg will be glad to hear of your
appreciation. I do not know the French translation you mention; but
they say here that all the best things in _Giftas_ (_Mariés_) have
been left out, especially the witty polemic against Ibsen. But read
his drama _Père_; there is a great scene in it. I am sure he would
gladly send it you. But I see him so seldom; he is so shy on account
of an extremely unhappy marriage. Imagine it, he abhors his wife
_intellectually_ and cannot get away from her _physically_. He is a
monogamous misogynist!

It seems curious to me that the polemical trait is still so strong in
you. In my early days I was passionately polemical; now I can only
expound; silence is my only weapon of offence. I should as soon think
of attacking Christianity as of writing a pamphlet against werewolves,
I mean against the belief in werewolves.

But I see we understand one another. I too _love_ Pascal. But even
as a young man I was _for_ the Jesuits against Pascal (in the
_Provinciales_). The worldly-wise, they were right, of course;
he did not understand them; but they understood him and--what a
master-stroke of impudence and sagacity!--they themselves published his
_Provinciales_ with notes. The best edition is that of the Jesuits.

Luther against the Pope, there we have the same collision. Victor Hugo
in the preface to the _Feuilles d'Automne_ has this fine saying: _On
convoque la diète de Worms mais on peint la chapelle Sixtine. Il y a
Luther, mais il y a Michel-Ange ... et remarquons en passant que Luther
est dans les vieilleries qui croulent autour de nous et que Michel-Ange
n'y est pas._

Study the face of Dostoievsky: half a Russian peasant's face, half
a criminal physiognomy, flat nose, little piercing eyes under lids
quivering with nervousness, this lofty and well-formed forehead, this
expressive mouth that speaks of torments innumerable, of abysmal
melancholy, of unhealthy appetites, of infinite pity, passionate envy!
An epileptic genius, whose exterior alone speaks of the stream of
gentleness that filled his spirit, of the wave of acuteness almost
amounting to madness that mounted to his head, and finally of the
ambition, the immense effort, and of the ill-will that results from
pettiness of soul.

His heroes are not only poor and pitiable creatures, but simple-minded
sensitive ones, noble strumpets, often victims of hallucination, gifted
epileptics, enthusiastic candidates for martyrdom--just those types
which we should suspect in the apostles and disciples of the early days
of Christianity.

Certainly nothing could be farther removed from the Renaissance.

I am excited to know how I can come into your book.

I remain your faithfully devoted


22. Unstamped. Without further address, undated. Written in a large
hand on a piece of paper (not note-paper) ruled in pencil, such as
children use. Post-mark: Turin, January 4, 1889.


When once you had discovered me, it was easy enough to find me: the
difficulty now is to get rid of me ...

_The Crucified_.

As Herr Max Nordau has attempted with incredible coarseness to brand
Nietzsche's whole life-work as the production of a madman, I call
attention to the fact that signs of powerful exaltation only appear in
the last letter but one, and that insanity is only evident in the last
letter of all, and then not in an unqualified form.

But at the close of the year 1888 this dear and masterly mind began
to be deranged. His self-esteem, which had always been very great,
acquired a morbid character. His light and delicate self-irony, which
appears not unfrequently in the letters here given, gave place to
constantly recurring outbursts of anger with the German public's
failure to appreciate the value of his works. It ill became a man of
Nietzsche's intellect, who only a year before (see Letter No. 2) had
desired a small number of intelligent readers, to take such offence
at the indifference of the mob. He now gave expression to the most
exalted ideas about himself. In his last book but one he had said: "I
have given the Germans the profoundest books of any they possess ";
in his last he wrote: "I have given mankind the profoundest book it
possesses." At the same time he yielded to an impulse to describe the
fame he hoped to attain in the future as already his. As the reader
will see, he had asked me to furnish him with the addresses of persons
in Paris and Petersburg who might be able to make his name known in
France and Russia. I chose them to the best of my judgment. But even
before the books he sent had reached their destinations, Nietzsche
wrote in a German review: "And thus I am treated in Germany, I who am
already _studied_ in Petersburg and Paris." That his sense of propriety
was beginning to be deranged was already shown when sending the book
to Princess Ténicheff (see Letter No. 18). This lady wrote to me in
astonishment, asking what kind of a strange friend I had recommended
to her: he had been sufficiently wanting in taste to give the sender's
name on the parcel itself as "The Antichrist." Some time after I had
received the last deranged and touching letter, another was shown me,
which Nietzsche had presumably sent the same day, and in which he wrote
that he intended to summon a meeting of sovereigns in Rome to have the
young German Emperor shot there; this was signed "Nietzsche-Cæsar." The
letter to me was signed "The Crucified." It was thus evident that this
great mind in its final megalomania had oscillated between attributing
to itself the two greatest names in history, so strongly contrasted.

It was exceedingly sad thus to witness the change that in the course of
a few weeks reduced a genius without equal to a poor helpless creature,
in whom almost the last gleam of mental life was extinguished for ever.


(AUGUST 1900)

It sometimes happens that the death of a great individual recalls a
half-forgotten name to our memory, and we then disinter for a brief
moment the circumstances, events, writings or achievements which gave
that name its renown. Although Friedrich Nietzsche in his silent
madness had survived himself for eleven and a half years, there is no
need at his death to resuscitate his works or his fame. For during
those very years in which he lived on in the night of insanity, his
name has acquired a lustre unsurpassed by any contemporary reputation,
and his works have been translated into every language and are known
all over the world.

To the older among us, who have followed Nietzsche from the time of
his arduous and embittered struggle against the total indifference
of the reading world, this prodigiously rapid attainment of the most
absolute and world-wide renown has in it something in the highest
degree surprising. No one in our time has experienced anything like it.
In the course of five or six years Nietzsche's intellectual tendency
--now more or less understood, now misunderstood, now involuntarily
caricatured--became the ruling tendency of a great part of the
literature of France, Germany, England, Italy, Norway, Sweden and
Russia. Note, for example, the influence of this spirit on Gabriele
d'Annunzio. To all that was tragic in Nietzsche's life was added
this--that, after thirsting for recognition to the point of morbidity,
he attained it in an altogether fantastic degree when, though still
living, he was shut out from life. But certain it is that in the decade
1890-1900 no one engaged and impressed the minds of his contemporaries
as did this son of a North German clergyman, who tried so hard to be
taken for a Polish nobleman, and whose pride it was that his works were
conceived in French, though written in German. The little weaknesses of
his character were forgotten in the grandeur of the style he imparted
to his life and his production.

To be able to explain Nietzsche's rapid and overwhelming triumph, one
would want the key to the secret of the psychological life of our time.
He bewitched the age, though he seems opposed to all its instincts.
The age is ultra-democratic; he won its favour as an aristocrat. The
age is borne on a rising wave of religious reaction; he conquered with
his pronounced irreligion. The age is struggling with social questions
of the most difficult and far-reaching kind; he, the thinker of the
age, left all these questions on one side as of secondary importance.
He was an enemy of the humanitarianism of the present day and of its
doctrine of happiness; he had a passion for proving how much that is
base and mean may conceal itself beneath the guise of pity, love of
one's neighbour and unselfishness; he assailed pessimism and scorned
optimism; he attacked the ethics of the philosophers with the same
violence as the thinkers of the eighteenth century had attacked the
dogmas of the theologians. As he became an atheist from religion, so
did he become an immoralist from morality. Nevertheless the Voltairians
of the age could not claim him, since he was a mystic; and contemporary
anarchists had to reject him as an enthusiast for rulers and castes.

For all that, he must in some hidden way have been in accord with much
that is fermenting in our time, otherwise it would not have adopted
him as it has done. The fact of having known Nietzsche, or having been
in any way connected with him, is enough at present to make an author
famous--more famous, sometimes, than all his writings have made him.

What Nietzsche, as a young man admired more than anything else in
Schopenhauer and Richard Wagner was "the indomitable energy with which
they maintained their self-reliance in the midst of the hue and
cry raised against them by the whole cultured world." He made this
self-reliance his own, and this was no doubt the first thing to make an

In the next place the artist in him won over those to whom the
aphorisms of the thinker were obscure. With all his mental acuteness
he was a pronounced lyricist. In the autumn of 1888 he wrote of Heine:
"How he handled German! One day it will be said that Heine and I were
without comparison the supreme artists of the German language." One who
is not a German is but an imperfect judge of Nietzsche's treatment of
language; but in our day all German connoisseurs are agreed in calling
him the greatest stylist of German prose.

He further impressed his contemporaries by his psychological
profundity and abstruseness. His spiritual life has its abysses and
labyrinths. Self-contemplation provides him with immense material for
investigation. And he is not content with self-contemplation. His
craving for knowledge is a passion; covetousness he calls it: "In this
soul there dwells no unselfishness; on the contrary, an all-desiring
self that would see by the help of many as with its own eyes and grasp
as with its _own_ hands; this soul of mine would even choose to bring
back all the past and not lose anything that might belong to it. What a
flame is this covetousness of mine!"

The equally strong development of his lyrical and critical qualities
made a fascinating combination. But it was the cause of those reversals
of his personal relations which deprive his career (in much the same
way as Sören Kierkegaard's) of some of the dignity it might have
possessed. When a great personality crossed his path he called all his
lyricism to arms and with clash of sword on shield hailed the person in
question as a demigod or a god (Schopenhauer and Richard Wagner). When
later on he discovered the limitations of his hero, his enthusiasm was
apt to turn to hatred, and this hatred found vent without the smallest
regard to his former worship. This characteristic is offensively
conspicuous in Nietzsche's behaviour to Wagner. But who knows whether
this very lack of dignity has not contributed to increase the number
of Nietzsche's admirers in an age that is somewhat undignified on this

In the last period of his life Nietzsche appeared rather as a prophet
than as a thinker. He predicts the Superman. And he makes no attempt
at logical proof, but proceeds from a reliance on the correctness
and sureness of his instinct, convinced that he himself represents a
life-promoting principle and his opponents one hostile to life.

To him the object of existence is, everywhere the production of genius.
The higher man in our day is like a vessel in which the future of the
race is fermenting in an impenetrable way, and more than one of these
vessels is burst or broken in the process. But the human race is not
ruined by the failure of a single creature. Man, as we know him, is
only a bridge, a transition from the animal to the superman. What
the ape is in relation to man, a laughingstock or a thing of shame,
that will man be to the superman. Hitherto every species has produced
something superior to itself. Nietzsche teaches that man too will and
must do the same. He has drawn a conclusion from Darwinism which Darwin
himself did not see.

In the last decade of the nineteenth century Nietzsche and Tolstoy
appeared as the two opposite poles. Nietzsche's morality is
aristocratic as Tolstoy's is popular, individualistic as Tolstoy's
is evangelical; it asserts the self-majesty of the individual, where
Tolstoy's proclaims the necessity of self-sacrifice.

In the same decade Nietzsche and Ibsen were sometimes compared. Ibsen,
like Nietzsche, was a combative spirit and held entirely aloof from
political and practical life. A first point of agreement between them
is that they both laid stress on not having come of small folk. Ibsen
made known to me in a letter that his parents, both on the father's and
the mother's side, belonged to the most esteemed families of their day
in Skien in Norway, related to all the patrician families of the place
and country. Skien is no world-city, and the aristocracy of Skien is
quite unknown outside it; but Ibsen wanted to make it clear that his
bitterness against the upper class in Norway was in no wise due to the
rancour and envy of the outsider.

Nietzsche always made it known to his acquaintances that he was
descended from a Polish noble family, although he possessed no
pedigree. His correspondents took this for an aristocratic whim,
all the more because the name given out by him, Niëzky, by its very
spelling betrayed itself as not Polish. But the fact is otherwise.
The true spelling of the name is Nicki, and a young Polish admirer
of Nietzsche, Mr. Bernard Scharlitt, has succeeded in proving
Nietzsche's descent from the Nicki family, by pointing out that its
crest is to be found in a signet which for centuries has been an
heirloom in the family of Nietzsche. Perhaps not quite without reason,
Scharlitt therefore sees in Nietzsche's master-morality and his whole
aristocratising of the view of the world an expression of the szlachcic
spirit inherited from Polish ancestors.

Nietzsche and Ibsen, independently of each other but like Renan, have
sifted the thought of breeding moral aristocrats. It is the favourite
idea of Ibsen's Rosmer; it remains Dr. Stockmann's. Thus Nietzsche
speaks of the higher man as the preliminary aim of the race, before
Zarathustra announces the superman.

They meet now and then on the territory of psychology. Ibsen speaks
in _The Wild Duck_ of the necessity of falsehood to life. Nietzsche
loved life so greatly that even truth appeared to him of worth only in
the case of its acting for the preservation and advancement of life.
Falsehood is to him an injurious and destructive power only in so
far as it is life-constricting. It is not objectionable where it is
necessary to life.

It is strange that a thinker who abhorred Jesuitism as Nietzsche did
should arrive at this standpoint, which leads directly to Jesuitism.
Nietzsche agrees here with many of his opponents.

Ibsen and Nietzsche were both solitary, even if they were not at all
careless as to the fate of their works. It is the strongest man, says
Dr. Stockmann, who is most isolated. Who was most isolated, Ibsen or
Nietzsche? Ibsen, who held back from every alliance with others,
but exposed his work to the masses of the theatre-going public, or
Nietzsche, who stood alone as a thinker but as a man continually--even
if, as a rule, in vain--spied after the like-minded and after heralds,
and whose works, in the time of his conscious life, remained unread by
the great public, or in any case misunderstood.

Decision does not fall lightly to one who, by a whim of fate, was
regarded by both as an ally. Still more difficult is the decision as
to which of them has had the deepest effect on the contemporary mind
and which will longest retain his fame. But this need not concern us.
Wherever Nietzsche's teaching extends, and wherever his great and rare
personality is mastered, its attraction and repulsion will alike be
powerful; but everywhere it will contribute to the development and
moulding of the individual personality.



Since the publication of Nietzsche's collected works was completed,
Frau Förster-Nietzsche has allowed the Insel-Verlag of Leipzig to
issue, at a high price and for subscribers only, Friedrich Nietzsche's
posthumous work _Ecce Homo_, which has been lying in manuscript for
more than twenty years, and which she herself had formerly excluded
from his works, considering that the German reading public was not ripe
to receive it in the proper way--which we may doubtless interpret as a
fear on her part that the attitude of the book towards Germanism and
Christianity would raise a terrible outcry.

Now that Nietzsche holds undisputed sway over German minds and
exercises an immense influence in the rest of Europe and in America, it
will certainly be read with emotion and discreetly criticised.

It gives us an autobiography, written during Nietzsche's last
productive months, almost immediately before the collapse of his
powers, between October 15 and November 4, 1888; and in the course of
this autobiography each of his books is briefly characterised.

Here as elsewhere Nietzsche's thoughts are centred on the primary
conceptions of ascent and descent, growth and decay. Bringing himself
into relation with them, he finds that, as the victim of stubborn
illness and chronically recurring pain, he is a decadent; but at
the same time, as one who in his inmost self is unaffected by his
illness, nay, whose strength and fulness of life even increase during
its attacks, he is the very reverse of a decadent, a being who is
in process of raising himself to a higher form of life. He once more
emphasises the fact that the years in which his vitality was lowest
were just those in which he threw off all melancholy and recovered his
joy in life, his enthusiasm for life, since he had a keen sense that a
sick man has no right to pessimism.

He begins by giving us plain, matter-of-fact information about
himself, speaking warmly and proudly of his father. The latter had
been tutor to four princesses of Altenburg before he was appointed to
his living. Out of respect-for Friedrich Wilhelm IV. he gave his son
the Hohenzollern names of Friedrich Wilhelm, and he felt the events of
1848 very keenly. His father only reached the age of thirty-six, and
Nietzsche lost him when he was himself five years old. But he ascribes
to paternal heredity his ability to feel at home in a world of high
and delicate things (_in einer Welt hoher und zarter Dinge_). For
all that, Nietzsche does not forget to bring in, here as elsewhere,
the supposition of his descent from Polish noblemen; but he did not
know this for a fact, and it was only established by Scharlitt's
investigation of the family seal.

He describes himself as what we should call a winning personality. He
has "never understood the art of arousing ill-feeling against himself."
He can tame every bear; he even makes clowns behave decently. However
out of tune the instrument "man" may be, he can coax a pleasing tone
out of it. During his years of teaching, even the laziest became
diligent under him. Whatever offence has been done him, has not been
the result of ill-will. The pitiful have wounded him more deeply than
the malicious.

Nor has he given vent to feelings of revenge or rancour. His conflict
with Christianity is only one instance among many of his antagonism to
resentful feelings. It is an altogether different matter that his very
nature is that of a warrior. But he confers distinction on the objects
of his attacks, and he has never waged war on private individuals, only
on types; thus in Strauss he saw nothing but the Culture-Philistine.

He attributes to himself an extremely vivid and sensitive instinct
of cleanliness. At the first contact the filth lying at the base of
another's nature is revealed to him. The unclean are therefore ill at
ease in his presence; nor does the sense of being seen through make
them any more fragrant.

And with true psychology he adds that his greatest danger--he means to
his spiritual health and balance--is loathing of mankind.

The loathing of mankind is doubtless the best modern expression for
what the ancients called misanthropy. No one knows what it is till
he has experienced it. When we read, for instance, in our youth of
Frederick the Great that in his later years he was possessed and
fettered by contempt for men, this appears to us an unfortunate
peculiarity which the king ought to have overcome; for of course he
must have seen other men about him besides those who flattered him for
the sake of advantage. But the loathing of mankind is a force that
surprises and overwhelms one, fed by hundreds of springs concealed
in subconsciousness. One only detects its presence after having long
entertained it unawares.

Nietzsche cannot be said to have overcome it; he fled from it, took
refuge in solitude, and lived outside the world of men, alone in the
mountains among cold, fresh springs.

And even if he felt no loathing for individuals, his disgust with men
found a collective outlet, since he entertained, or rather worked up, a
positive horror of his countrymen, so powerful that at last it breaks
out in everything he writes. It reminds us dimly of Byron's dislike of
Englishmen, Stendhal's of Frenchmen, and Heine's of Germans. But it
is of a more violent character than Stendhal's or Heine's, and it has
a pathos and contempt of its own. He shows none of it at the outset.
In his first book, _The Birth of Tragedy_, he is no less partial to
Germany than Heine was in his first, romantically Teutonic period. But
Nietzsche's development carried him with a rush away from Germanism,
and in this last book of his the word "German" has become something
like his worst term of abuse.

He believes only in French culture; all other culture is a
misunderstanding. It makes him angry to see those Frenchmen he values
most, infected by German spirit. Thus Taine is, in his opinion,
corrupted by Hegel's influence. This impression is right in so far as
Hegel deprived Taine of some of the essentially French element which
he originally possessed, and of which certain of his admirers before
now have painfully felt the loss. But he overlooks the effect of the
study of Hegel in promoting at the same time what one might call the
extension of Taine's intellectual horizon. And Nietzsche is satisfied
with no narrower generalisation of the case than this: Wherever Germany
extends, she ruins culture.

As though to make sure of wounding German national pride, he declares
that Heinrich Heine (not Goethe) gave him the highest idea of lyric
poetry, and that as concerns Byron's _Manfred_, he has no words, only a
look, for those who in the presence of this work dare to utter the name
of _Faust_. The Germans, he maintains in connection with _Manfred_, are
incapable of any conception of greatness. So uncritical has he become
that he puts _Manfred_ above _Faust_.

In his deepest instincts Nietzsche is now, as he asserts, so foreign
to everything German, that the mere presence of a German "retards his
digestion." German intellect is to him indigestion; it can never be
finished with anything. If he has been so enthusiastic in his devotion
to Wagner, if he still regards his intimate relationship with Wagner as
the most profound refreshment of his life, this was because in Wagner
he honoured the foreigner, because in him he saw the incarnate protest
against all German virtues. In his book, _The Case of Wagner_, he had
already hinted that Richard Wagner, the glory of German nationalism,
was of Jewish descent, since his real father seems to have been the
step-father, Geyer. I could not have survived my youth without Wagner,
he says; I was condemned to the society of Germans and had to take a
counter-poison; Wagner was the counter-poison.

Here, by way of exception, he generalises his feeling. We who were
children in the 'fifties, he says, necessarily became pessimists
in regard to the concept "German." We cannot be anything else than
revolutionaries. And he explains this expression thus: We can assent to
no state of affairs which allows the canting bigot to be at the top.
(Höffding's protest against the use of the word "radicalism" applied to
Nietzsche, in _Moderne Filosofer_, is thus beside the mark.) Wagner was
a revolutionary; he fled from the Germans. And, Nietzsche adds, as an
artist, a man has no other home than Paris--the city which, strangely
enough, he was never, to see. He ranks Wagner among the later masters
of French romanticism--Delacroix, Berlioz, Baudelaire--and wisely says
nothing about the reception of Wagnerian opera in Paris under the

In everything Nietzsche now adopts the French stand-point--the old and
narrow French standpoint--that, for instance, of the elderly Voltaire
towards Shakespeare. He declares here, as he has done before, that
his artist's taste defends Molière, Corneille and Racine, not without
bitterness (_nicht ohne Ingrimm_) against such a wild (_wüstes_) genius
as Shakespeare. Strangely enough he repeats here his estimate of
Shakespeare's Cæsar as his finest creation, weak as it is: "My highest
formula for Shakespeare is that he conceived the type of Cæsar." It
must be added that here again Nietzsche assents to the unhappy delusion
that Shakespeare never wrote the works that bear his name. Nietzsche
is "instinctively" certain that they are due to Bacon, and, ignoring
repeated demonstrations of the impossibility of this fatuous notion, he
supports his conjecture by the grotesque assertion that if he himself
had christened his Zarathustra by a name not his own--by Wagner's, for
instance--the acumen of two thousand years would not have sufficed to
guess who was its originator; no one would have believed it possible
that the author of _Human, all-too-Human_ had conceived the visions of

He allows the Germans no honour as philosophers: Leibniz and Kant were
"the two greatest clogs upon the intellectual integrity of Europe."
Just when a perfectly scientific attitude of mind had been attained,
they managed to find byways back to "the old ideal." And no less
passionately does he deny to the Germans all honour as musicians:
"A German _cannot_ know what music is. The men who pass as German
musicians are foreigners, Slavs, Croats, Italians, Dutchmen or Jews. I
am Pole enough to give up all other music for Chopin--except Wagner's
_Siegfried-Idyll_, some things of Liszt, and the Italians Rossini and
Pietro Gasti" (by this last name he appears to mean his favourite
disciple, Köselitz, who wrote under the pseudonym of Peter Gast).

He abhors the Germans as "idealists." All idealism is falsehood in
the face of necessity. He finds a pernicious idealism in Henrik Ibsen
too, "that typical old maid," as well, as in others whose object it
is to poison the clean conscience, the natural spirit, of sexual
love. And he gives us a clause of his moral code, in which, under the
head of Vice, he combats every kind of opposition to Nature, or if
fine words are preferred, every kind of idealism. The clause runs:
"Preaching of chastity is a public incitement to unnatural practices.
All, depreciation of the sexual life, all sullying of it with the word
'impure,' is a crime against Life itself--is the real sin against the
holy Spirit of Life."

Finally he attacks what he calls the "licentiousness" of the Germans
in historical matters. German historians, he declares, have lost all
eye for the values of culture; in fact, they have put this power of
vision under the ban of the Empire. They claim that a man must in the
first place be a German, must belong to the race. If he does, he is
in a position to determine values or their absence: the Germans are
thus the "moral order of the universe" in history; compared with the
power of the Roman Empire they are the champions of liberty; compared
with the eighteenth century they are the restorers of morality and of
the Categorical Imperative. "History is actually written on Imperial
German and Antisemitic lines--and Herr von Treitschke is not ashamed of

The Germans have on their conscience every crime against culture
committed in the last four centuries. As Nietzsche in his later years
was never tired of asserting, they deprived the Renaissance of its
meaning, they wrecked it by the Reformation; that is, by Luther, an
impossible monk who, owing to his impossibility, attacked the Church
and in so doing restored it. The Catholics would have every reason to
honour Luther's name.

And when, upon the bridge between two centuries of decadence, a _force
majeure_ of genius and will revealed itself, strong enough to weld
Europe into political and economic unity, the Germans finally, with
their "Wars of Liberation," robbed Europe of the meaning of Napoleon's
existence, a prodigy of meaning. Thus they have upon their conscience
all that followed, nationalism, the _névrose nationale_ from which
Europe is suffering, and the perpetuation of the system of little
states, of petty politics.

Last of all, the Germans have upon their conscience their attitude to
himself, their indifference, their lack of recognition, the silence
in which they buried his life's work. The Germans are bad company.
And although his autobiography ends with a poem in which he affects a
scorn of fame, "that coin in which the whole world pays, but which he
receives with gloved hands and tramples underfoot with loathing "--yet
his failure to win renown in Germany during his lifetime contributed
powerfully to foster his antipathy.

The exaltation that marks the whole tone of the work, the unrestrained
self-esteem which animates it and is ominous of the near approach of
madness, have not deprived _Ecce Homo_ of its character of surpassing

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