They are about ‘to assume,’ as they tell us, ‘among the powers of the earth, that equal and separate station to which‘ — they have lately discovered — ‘the laws of Nature, and of Nature’s God entitle them.’ What difference these acute legislators suppose between the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God, is more than I can take upon me to determine, or even to guess. If to what they now demand they were entitled by any law of God, they had only to produce that law, and all controversy was at an end. Instead of this, what do they produce? What they call sell-evident truths. ‘All men,’ they tell us, ‘are created equal.’ This rarity is a new discovery; now, for the first time, we learn, that a child, at the moment of his birth, has the same quantity of natural power as the parent, the same quantity of political power as the magistrate.
The rights of ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness‘ — by which, if they mean any thing, they must mean the right to enjoy life, to enjoy liberty, and to pursue happiness — they ‘hold to be unalienable.’ This they ‘hold to be among truths self-evident.’ At the same time, to secure these rights, they are content that Governments should be instituted. They perceive not, or will not seem to perceive, that nothing which can be called Government ever was, or ever could be, in any instance, exercised, but at the expence of one or other of those rights. — That, consequently, in as many instances as Government is ever exercised, some one or other of these rights, pretended to be unalienable, is actually alienated.
That men who are engaged in the design of subverting a lawful Government, should endeavour by a cloud of words, to throw a veil over their design; that they should endeavour to beat down the criteria between tyranny and lawful government, is not at all (121) surprising. But rather surprising it must certainly appear, that they should advance maxims so incompatible with their own present conduct. If the right of enjoying life be unalienable, whence came their invasion of his Majesty’s province of Canada? Whence the unprovoked destruction of so many lives of the inhabitants of that province? If the right of enjoying liberty be unalienable, whence came so many of his Majesty’s peaceable subjects among them, without any offence, without so much as a pretended offence, merely for being suspected not to wish well to their enormities, to be held by them in durance? If the right of pursuing happiness be unalienable, how is it that so many others of their fellow-citizens are by the same injustice and violence made miserable, their fortunes ruined, their persons banished and driven from their friends and families? Or would they have it believed, that there is in their selves some superior sanctity, some peculiar privilege, by which those things are lawful to them, which are unlawful to all the world besides? Or is it, that among acts of coercion, acts by which life or liberty are taken away, and the pursuit of happiness restrained, those only are unlawful, which their delinquency has brought upon them, and which are exercised by regular, long established, accustomed governments?
In these tenets they have outdone the utmost extravagance of all former fanatics. The German Anabaptists indeed went so far as to speak of the right of enjoying life as a right unalienable. To take away life, even in the Magistrate, they held to be unlawful. But they went no farther, it was reserved for an American Congress, to add to the number of unalienable rights, that of enjoying liberty, and pursuing happiness; (122) — that is,— if they mean any thing, —pursuing it wherever a man thinks he can see it, and by whatever means he thinks he can attain it: — That is, that all penal laws — those made by their selves among others—which affect life or liberty, are contrary to the law of God, and the unalienable rights of mankind: — That is, that thieves are not to be restrained from theft, murderers from murder, rebels from rebellion.
Here then they have put the axe to the root of all Government; and yet, in the same breath, they talk of “Governments,” of Governments “long established.” To these last, they attribute same kind of respect; they vouchsafe even to go so far as to admit, that “Governments, long established, should not be “changed for light or transient reasons.”
Yet they are about to change a Government, a Government whose establishment is coeval with their own existence as a Community. What causes do they assign? Circumstances which have always subsisted, which must continue to subsist, wherever Government has subsisted, or can subsist.
For what, according to their own shewing, what was their original their only original grievance? That they were actually taxed more than they could bear? No; but that they were liable to be so taxed. What is the amount of all the subsequent grievances they alledge? That they were actually oppressed by Government? That Government has actually misused its power? No; but that it was possible that they might be oppressed; possible that Government might misuse its powers. Is there any where, can there be imagined any where, that Government, where subjects are not liable to taxed more than they can bear? (123) where it is not possible that subjects may be oppressed, not possible that Government may misuse its powers?
This I say, is the amount, the whole sum and substance of all their grievances. For in taking a general review of the charges brought against his Majesty, and his Parliament, we may observe that there is a studied confusion in the arrangement of them. It may therefore be worth while to reduce them to the several distinct heads, under which I should have classed them at the first, had not the order of the Answer been necessarily prescribed by the order — or rather the disorder, of the Declaration.
The first head consists of Acts of Government, charged as so many acts of incroachment, so many usurpations upon the present King and his Parliaments exclusively, which had been constantly exercised by his Predecessors and their Parliaments.1
In all the articles comprised in this head, is there a single power alleged to have been exercised during the present reign, which had not been constantly exercised by preceding Kings, and preceding Parliaments? Read only the commission and instruction for the Council of Trade, drawn up in the 9th of King William III addressed to Mr. Locke, and others.2 See there what (124) powers were exercised by the King and Parliament over the Colonies. Certainly the Commissioners were directed to inquire into, and make their reports concerning those matters only, in which the King and Parliament had a power of controlling the Colonies. Now the Commissioners are instructed to inquire — into the condition of the Plantations, “as well with regard to the administration of Government and Justice, as in relation to the commerce thereof;”–into the means of making “them most beneficial and useful to England; — “into the staples and manufactures, which may be encouraged there;” — “into the trades that are taken up and exercised there, which may prove prejudicial to England;” — “into the means of diverting them from such trades.” Farther, they are instructed “to examine into, and weigh the Acts of the Assemblies of the Plantations;” — “to set down the usefulness or mischief to the Crown, to the Kingdom, or to the Plantations their selves.” — And farther still, they are instructed “to require an account of all the monies given for public uses by the assemblies of the Plantations, and how the same are, or have been expended, or laid out.” Is there now a single Act of the present reign which does not fall under one or other of these instructions?
The powers then, of which the several articles now before us complain, are supported by usage; were conceived to be so supported then, just after the Revolution, at the time these instructions were given; and were they to be supported onlyupon this foot of usage, still that usage being coeval with the Colonies, their tacit consent and approbation, through all the successive periods in which that usage has prevailed, would be implied; — even then the legality of those powers would stand upon the same foot as most of the prerogatives (125) of the Crown, most of the rights of the people, — even then the exercise of those powers could in no wise be deemed usurpations or encroachments.
But the truth is, to the exercise of these powers, on many occasions the Colonies have not tacitly, but expressly, consented; as expressly as any subject of Great Britain ever consented to Acts of the British Parliament. Consult the Journals of either House of Parliament; consult the proceedings of their own Assemblies; and innumerable will be the occasions, on which the legality of these powers will be found to be expressly recognised by Acts of the Colonial Assemblies. For in preceding reigns, the petitions from these Assemblies were couched in a language, very different from that which they have assumed under the present reign. In praying for the non-exercise of these powers, in particular instances, they acknowledged their legality; the right in general was recognised; the exercise of it, in particular instances, was prayed to be suspended on the sole ground of inexpedience.
The less reason can the Americans have to complain against the exercise of these powers, as it was under the constant exercise of the self-same powers, that they have grown up with a vigour and rapidity unexampled : That within a period, in which other communities have scarcely had time to take root, they have shot forth exuberant branches. So flourishing is their agriculture, that — we are told — “besides feeding plentifully their own growing multitudes, their annual exports have exceeded a million;” So flourishing is their trade, that — we are told — “it has increased far beyond the speculations of the most (126) sanguine imagination.”3 So powerful are they in arms, that we see them defy the united force of that nation, which, but a little century ago, called them into being; which, but a few years ago, in their defence, encountered and subdued almost the united force of Europe.
If the exercise of powers, thus established by usage, thus recognised by express declarations, thus sanctified by their beneficial effects, can justify rebellion, there is not that subject in the world, but who has, ever has had, and ever must have, reason sufficient to rebel: There never was, never can he, established, any government upon earth.
The second head consists of Acts, whose professed object was either the maintenance, or the amendment of their Constitution. These Acts were passed with the view either of freeing from impediments the course of their commercial transactions,4 or of facilitating the administration of justice,5 or of poising more equally the different powers in their Constitution;6 or of preventing the establishing of Courts, inconsistent with the spirit of the Constitution.7
To state the object of these Acts, is to justify them. Acts of tyranny they cannot be: Acts of usurpation they are not; because no new power is assumed. By former Parliaments, in former reigns, officers of customs had been sent to America: Courts of Admiralty had been established there. The increase (127) of trade and population induced the Parliaments, under the present reign, for the convenience of the Colonists, and to obviate their own objections of delays arising from appeals to England, to establish a Board of Customs, and an Admiralty Court of Appeal. Strange indeed is it to hear the establishment of this Board, and these Courts, alleged as proofs of usurpation; and in the same paper, in the same breath, to hear it urged as a head of complaint, that his Majesty refused his assent to a much greater exertion of power: —to an exertion of power, which might be dangerous; the establishment of new Courts of Judicature. What in one instance he might have done, to have done in another, cannot be unconstitutional. In former reigns, charters had been altered; in the present reign, the constitution of one charter, having been found inconsistent with the ends of good order and government, was amended.
The third head consists of temporary Acts, passed pro re notá, the object of each of which was to remedy some temporary evil, and the duration of which was restrained to the duration of the evil itself.8
Neither in these Acts was any new power affirmed; in some instances only, the objects upon which that power was exercised, were new. Nothing was done but what former Kings and former Parliaments have shewn their selves ready to do, had the same circumstances subsisted. The same circumstances never did subsist before, because, till the present reign, the (128) Colonies never dared to call in question the supreme authority of Parliament.
No charge, classed under this head, can be called a grievance. Then only is the subject aggrieved, when, paying due obedience to the established Laws of his country, he is not protected in his established rights. From the moment he withholds obedience, he forfeits his right to protection. Nor can the means, employed to bring him back to obedience, however severe, be called grievances; especially if those means be to cease the very moment that the end is obtained.
The last head consists of Acts of self-defence, exercised in consequence of resistance already shewn but represented in the Declaration as Acts of oppression, tending to provoke resistance.9 Has his Majesty cut off their trade with all parts of the world? They first attempted to cut off the trade of Great Britain. Has his Majesty ordered their vessels to be seized ? They first burnt the vessels of the King. Has his Majesty sent troops to chastise them? They first took up arms against the authority of the King. Has his Majesty engaged the Indians against them? They first engaged Indians against the troops of the King. Has his Majesty commanded their captives to serve on board his fleet? He has only saved them from the gallows.
By some, these acts have been improperly called “Acts of punishment.” And we are then asked, with an air of insult, “What! will you punish without a trial, without a hearing?” And no doubt punishment, whether ordinary or extraordinary; whether by indictment, impeachment, or bill of attainder, should be preceded by judicial examination. But, the acts comprised under this head are not acts of punishment; they are, as we have called them, this of self-defence. And these are not, cannot be, preceded by any judicial examination. An example or two will serve to place the difference between acts of punishment and acts of self-defence in a stronger light, than any definition we can give. It has happened, that bodies of manufacturers have risen, and armed, in order to compel their masters to increase their wages: It has happened, that bodies of peasants have risen, and armed, in order to compel the farmer to sell at a lower price. It has happened, that the civil magistrate, unable to reduce the insurgents to their duty, has called the military to his aid. But did ever any man imagine, that the military were sent to punish the insurgents? It has happened, that the insurgents have resisted the military, as they had resisted the civil magistrate: It has happened, that, in consequence of this resistance, some of the insurgents have been killed: — But did ever any man imagine that those who were thus killed, were therefore punished? No more can they be said to be punished, than could the incendiary, who should be buried beneath the ruins of the house, which he had feloniously set on fire. Take an example yet nearer to the present case. When the Duke of Cumberland led the armies of the king, foreign and domestic, against the Rebels in Scotland, did any man conceive that he was (130) sent to punish the Rebels? — Clearly not. — He was sent to protect dutiful and loyal subjects, who remained in the peace of the King, against the outrages of Rebels, who had broken the peace of the King. — Does any man speak of those who fell at the battle of Culloden, as of men that were punished? Would that man have been thought in his senses, who should have urged, that the armies of the King should not have been sent against these Rebels in Scotland, till those very Rebels had been judicially heard, and judicially convicted? Does not every man feel that the fact, the only fact, necessary to be known, in order to justify these acts of self-defence, is simply this: — Are men in arms against the authority of the King? — Who does not feel, that to authenticate this fact, demands no judicial inquiry? If when his Royal Highness had led the army under his command into Scotland, there had been no body of men in arms; if, terrified at his approach, they had either laid down their arms and submitted, or had dispersed and retired quietly, each to his own home, what would have been the consequence? The civil magistrate would have searched for and seized upon those who had been in arms would have brought them to a court of justice. That court would have proceeded to examine, and to condemn or to acquit, as evidence was, or was not, given of the guilt of the respective culprits. The Rebels did not submit, they did not lay down their arms, they did not disperse; they resisted the Duke: a battle ensued: some of the Rebels fled, others were slain, others taken. It is upon those only of the last class, who were brought before and condemned by Courts of justice, that punishment was inflicted. By what kind of logic then are these acts ranked in the class of grievances?
These are the Acts — these are the exertions of constitutional, and hitherto, undisputed powers, for which, in the audacious paper, a patriot King is traduced — as ‘a Prince,’ whose character is marked by every Act ‘which may define a tyrant;’ as ‘unfit to be the ruler of a free people.’ These are the Acts, these exertions of constitutional, and, hitherto, undisputed powers, by which the Members of the Congress declare their selves and their constituents to be ‘absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown’ pronounce ‘all political connection between Great Britain and America to be totally dissolved.’ With that hypocrisy which pervades the whole of the Declaration, they pretend indeed, that this event is not of their seeking; that it is forced upon them; that they only ‘acquiesce in the necessity which denounces their separation from us:’ which compels them hereafter to hold us, as they hold the rest of mankind; ‘enemies in war; in peace, friends.’
How this Declaration may strike others, I know not. To me, I own, it appears that it cannot fail — to use the words of a great Orator— ‘of doing us Knight’s service.‘ The mouth of faction, we may reasonably presume, will be closed; the eyes of those who saw not, or would not see, that the Americans were long since aspiring at independence, will be opened; the nation will unite as one man, and teach this rebellious people, that it is one thing for them to say, the connection, which bound them to us, is dissolved, another to dissolve it; that to accomplish their independence is not quite so easy as to declare it: that there is no peace with them, but the peace of the King: no war with them, but that war, which offended justice wages against criminals. — We too, I hope, shall acquiesce in the necessity of submitting to whatever burdens, of making whatever efforts may be necessary, to bring this ungrateful and rebellious people back to that allegiance they have long had it in contemplation to renounce, and have now at last so daringly renounced.” Jeremy Bentham, “Short Review of the Declaration;” 1776
Alexis became pale as death. ‘Czar,’ said he, a tremor in his voice, ‘she is in her own room; she is not locked up.’
‘Take me to her room, said the usurper, rising.
Hesitation was impossible. Alexis led the way to Marie’s room. I followed. O n the stairs Alexis stopped: ‘Czar, demand of me what you will, but do not permit a stranger to enter my wife’s room.’
‘You are married?’ I shouted, ready to tear him to pieces.
‘Silence!’ interrupted the brigand, ‘this is my business. And you,’ said he, turning to Alexis, ‘do not be too officious. Whether she be your wife or not, I shall take whom I please into her room. Your lordship, follow me.’
At the door of the room Alexis stopped again: “’Czar, she has had a fever these three days; she is delirious.’
‘Open,’ said Pougatcheff.
Alexis fumbled in his pockets, and at last said that he had forgotten the key. Pougatcheff kicked the door; the lock yielded, the door opened and we entered.
I glanced into the room, and nearly fainted. On the floor, in the coarse dress of a peasant, Marie was seated, pale, thin, her hair in disorder; before her on the floor stood a pitcher of water covered by a piece of bread. Upon seeing me, she started, and uttered a piercing shriek. Pougatcheff glanced at Alexis, smiled bitterly, and said: ‘Your hospital is in nice order?’
‘Tell me, my little dove, why does your husband punish you in this way?’
‘My husband! he is not my husband. I am resolved to die rather than marry him; and I shall die, if not soon released.’
Pougatcheff gave a furious look at Alexis, and said: “Do you dare to deceive me, knave?”
Alexis fell on his knees. Contempt stifled all my feelings of hatred and vengeance. I saw with disgust, a gentleman kneeling at the feet of a Cossack deserter.
“I pardon you, this time,” said the brigand, “but remember, your next fault will recall this one.” He turned to Marie, and said, gently: “Come out, my pretty girl, you are free. I am the Czar!”
Marie looked at him, hid her face in her hands and fell on the floor unconscious. She had no doubt divined that he had caused her parents’ death. I rushed to aid her, when my old acquaintance, Polacca, boldly entered, and hastened to revive her mistress. Pougatcheff, Alexis and I went down to the reception room.
“Now, your lordship, we have released the pretty girl, what say you? Shall we not send for Father Garasim, and have him perform the marriage ceremony for his niece? If you like, I will be your father by proxy, Alexis your groomsman; then we’ll shut the gates and make merry!”
As I anticipated, Alexis, hearing this speech, lost his self-control.
“Czar,” said he, in a fury, “I am guilty; I have lied to you, but Grineff also deceives you. This young girl is not Father Garasim’s niece. She is Ivan Mironoff’s daughter.”
Pougatcheff glared at me. “What does that mean?” said he to me.
“Alexis says truly,” I replied, firmly.
“You did not tell me that,” said the usurper, whose face darkened.
“Judge of it yourself. Could I declare before your people that Marie was Captain Mironoff’s daughter? They would have torn her to pieces. No one could have saved her.”
“You are right,” said Pougatcheff, “my drunkards would not have spared the child. Accoulina did well to deceive them.”
“Listen,” I said, seeing his good humor, “I do not know your real name, and I do not want to know it. But before God, I am ready to pay you with my life, for what you have done for me. Only, ask me nothing contrary to honor, and my conscience as a Christian. You are my benefactor. Let me go with this orphan, and we, whatever happens to you, wherever you may be, we shall pray God to save your soul.”
“Be it as you desire,” said he, “punish to the end, or pardon completely, that’s my way. Take your promised bride wherever you choose, and may God give you love and happiness.” He turned to Alexis, and ordered him to write me a passport for all the forts subject to his power. Alexis was petrified with astonishment. Pougatcheff went off to inspect the fortress; Alexis followed him; I remained.
I ran up to Marie’s room. The door was closed. I knocked.
“Who is there?” asked Polacca.
I gave my name. I heard Marie say: “In an instant, Peter, I shall join you at Accoulina’s.”
Father Garasim and Accoulina came out to welcome me. I was honored with everything at the command of the hostess, whose voluble tongue never ceased. It was not long before Marie entered, quite pale; she had laid aside the peasant’s dress, and was, as usual, clad in simplicity, but with neatness and taste. I seized her hand, unable to utter a word. We were both silent from full hearts. Our hosts left us, and I could now speak of plans for her safety. It was impossible that she should stay in a fortress subject to Pougatcheff, and commanded by the infamous Alexis. Neither could she find refuge at Orenbourg, suffering all the horrors of siege. I proposed that she should go to my father’s country-seat. This surprised her. But I assured her that my father would hold it a duty and an honor to receive the daughter of a veteran who had died for his country. In conclusion, I said: “My dear Marie; I consider thee as my wife; these strange events have bound us for ever to each other.”
Marie listened with dignity; she felt as I did, but repeated that without my parents’ consent she would never be my wife. I could not reply to this objection. I folded her to my heart, and my project became our mutual resolve.
An hour after, the Corporal brought me my passport, having the scratch which served as Pougatcheff’s sign-manual, and told me that the Czar awaited me. I found him ready for his journey. To this man—why not tell the truth?—cruel and terrible to all but me, I was drawn by strong sympathy. I wanted to snatch him from the horde of robbers, whose chief he was; but the presence of Alexis and the crowd around him prevented any expression of these feelings. Our parting was that of friends. As the horses were moving, he leaned out of the kibitka and said to me: “Adieu, again, your lordship; perhaps we may meet once more.”
We did meet again, but under what circumstances!
I returned to Father Garasim’s, where our preparations were soon completed. Our baggage was put into the Commandant’s old equipage. The horses were harnessed. Marie went, before setting off, to visit once more the tomb in the church-yard, and soon returned, having wept in silence over all that remained to her of her parents. Father Garasim and Accoulina stood on the steps. Marie, Polacca, and I sat in the interior of the kibitka. Saveliitch perched himself up in front.
“Adieu, Marie, sweet little dove! Adieu, Peter, our handsome falcon!” exclaimed the kind Accoulina.
Passing the Commandant’s house, I saw Alexis, whose face expressed determined hate.
XIII. THE ARREST.
In two hours we reached the neighboring fortress, which also belonged to Pougatcheff. We there changed horses. By the celerity with which they served us, and the eager zeal of the bearded Cossack, whom Pougatcheff had made Commandant, I perceived that, thanks to the talk of our postilion, I was supposed to be a favorite with their master. When we started off again, it was dusk; we were drawing near a town where, according to the bearded Commandant, there ought to be a very strong detachment of Pougatcheff’s forces. The sentinels stopped us and to the demand: “Who goes there?” our postilion answered in a loud voice: “A friend of the Czar, traveling with his wife.”
We were at once surrounded by a detachment of Russian hussars, who swore frightfully.
“Come out,” said a Russian officer, heavily mustached; “We’ll give you a bath!”
I requested to be taken before the authorities. Perceiving that I was an officer, the soldiers ceased swearing, and the officer took me to the Major’s. Saveliitch followed, growling out: “We fall from the fire into the flame!”
The kibitka came slowly after us. In five minutes we reached a small house, all lighted up. The officer left me under a strong guard, and entered to announce my capture. He returned almost instantly, saying that I was ordered to prison, and her ladyship to the presence of the Major.
“Is he mad?” I cried.
“I can not tell, your lordship.”
I jumped up the steps—the sentinels had not time to stop me—and burst into the room where six hussar officers were playing faro. The Major kept the bank. I instantly recognized the Major as Ivan Zourine, who had so thoroughly emptied my purse at Simbirsk. “Is it possible? is this you Ivan Zourine?”
“Halloo! Peter; what luck? where are you from? will you take a chance?”
“Thanks; I would rather have some apartments assigned me.”
“No need of apartments, stay with me.”
“I can not; I am not alone.”
“Bring your comrade with you.”
“I am not with a comrade; I am with—a lady.”
“A lady! where did you fish her out?” and he whistled in so rollicking a manner, that the rest burst out laughing.
“Well,” said Zourine, “then you must have a house in the town. Here, boy! why do you not bring in Pougatcheff’s friend?”
“What are you about,” said I. “It is Captain Mironoff’s daughter. I have just obtained her liberty, and I am taking her to my father’s, where I shall leave her.”
“In the name of Heaven, what are you talking about? Are you Pougatcheff’s chum?”
“I will tell you everything later; first go and see this poor girl, whom your soldiers have horribly frightened.”
Zourine went out into the street to excuse himself to Marie, and explain the mistake, and ordered the officer to place her and her maid in the best house in the city. I stayed with him. After supper, as soon as we were alone, I gave him the story of my adventures.
He shook his head. “That’s all very well; but why will you marry? As an officer and a comrade, I tell you marriage is folly! Now listen to me. The road to Simbirsk has been swept clean by our soldiers; you can therefore send the Captain’s daughter to your parents tomorrow, and remain yourself in my detachment. No need to return to Orenbourg; you might fall again into the hands of the rebels.”
I resolved to follow, in part, Zourine’s advice. Saveliitch came to prepare my room for the night. I told him to be ready to set out in the morning with Marie.
“Who will attend you, my lord?”
“My old friend,” said I, trying to soften him, “I do not need a servant here, and in serving Marie, you serve me, for I shall marry her as soon as the war is over.”
“Marry!” repeated he, with his hands crossed, and a look of inexpressible blankness, “the child wants to marry! What will your parents say?”
“They will, no doubt, consent as soon as they know Marie. You will intercede for us, will you not?”
I had touched the old man’s heart. “O Peter!” said he, “you are too young to marry, but the young lady is an angel, and it would be a sin to let the chance slip. I will do as you desire.”
The next day I made known my plans to Marie. As Zourine’s detachment was to leave the city that same day, delay was impossible. I confided Marie to my dear old Saveliitch, and gave him a letter for my father. Marie, in tears, took leave of me. I did not dare to speak, lest the bystanders should observe my feelings.
It was the end of the February; Winter, which had rendered manoeuvering difficult was now at a close, and our generals were preparing for a combined campaign. At the approach of our troops, revolted villages returned to their duty, while Prince Galitzin defeated the usurper, and raised the siege of Orenbourg, which was the death-blow to the rebellion. We heard of Pougatcheff in the Ural regions, and on the way to Moscow. But he was captured. The war was over. Zourine received orders to return his troops to their posts. I jumped about the room like a boy. Zourine shrugged his shoulders, and said: “Wait till you are married, and see how foolish you are!”
I had leave of absence. In a few days I would be at home and united to Marie. One day Zourine came into my room with a paper in his hand, and sent away the servant.
“What’s the matter?” said I.
“A slight annoyance,” he answered, handing me the paper. “Read.”
It was confidential order addressed to all the chiefs of detachments to arrest me, and send me under guard to Khasan before the Commission of Inquiry, created to give information against Pougatcheff and his accomplices. The paper fell from my hands.
“Do not be cast down,” said Zourine, “but set out at once.”
My conscience was easy, but the delay! It would be months, perhaps, before I could get through the Commission. Zourine bade me an affectionate adieu. I mounted the telega (Summer carriage), two hussars withdrawn swords beside, and took the road to Khasan.
XIV. THE SENTENCE.
I had no doubt that I was arrested for having left the fortress of Orenbourg without leave, and felt sure that I could exculpate myself. Not only were we not forbidden, but on the contrary, we were encouraged to make forays against the enemy. My friendly relations with Pougatcheff, however, wore a suspicious look.
Arriving at Khasan, I found the city almost reduced to ashes. Along the streets there were heaps of calcined material of unroofed walls of houses—a proof that Pougatcheff had been there. The fortress was intact. I was taken there and delivered to the officer on duty. He ordered the blacksmith to rivet securely iron shackles on my feet. I was then consigned to a small, dark dungeon, lighted only by a loop-hole, barred with iron. This did not presage anything good, yet I did not lose courage; for, having tasted the delight of prayer, offered by a heart full of anguish, I fell asleep, without a thought for the morrow. The next morning I was taken before the Commission. Two soldiers crossed the yard with me, to the Commandant’s dwelling. Stopping in the ante-chamber, they let me proceed alone to the interior.
I entered quite a spacious room. At a table, covered with papers, sat tow personages,—a General advanced in years, of stern aspect, and a young officer of the Guards, of easy and agreeable manners. Near the window, at another table, a secretary, pen on ear, bending over a paper, was ready to take my deposition.
The interrogation began: “Your name and profession?” The General asked if I was the son of Andrew Grineff, and upon my replying in the affirmative, exclaimed: “It is a pity so honorable a man should have a son so unworthy of him!”
I replied that I hoped to refute all charges against me, by a sincere avowal of the truth. My assurance displeased him.
“You are a bold fellow,” said he, frowning; “but we have seen others like you.”
The young officer asked how, and for what purpose I had entered the rebel service.
I replied indignantly, that being an officer and a noble, I was incapable of enlisting in the usurper’s army, and had never served him in any way.
“How is it,” said my judge, “that the ‘officer and noble’ is the only one spared by Pougatcheff? How is it that the ‘officer and noble’ received presents from the chief rebel, of a horse and a pelisse? Upon what is this intimacy founded, if not on treason, or at least unpardonable cowardice?”
The words wounded me, and I undertook with warmth my own defense, finally invoking the name of my General who could testify to my zeal during the siege of Orenbourg. The severe old man took from the table an open letter, and read:
“With regard to Ensign Griness, I have the honor to declare, that he was in the service at Orenbourg from the month of October, 1773, till the following February. Since then, he has not presented himself.”
Here the General said harshly: “What can you say now to justify your conduct?”
My judges had listened with interest and even kindness, to the recital of my acquaintance with the usurper, from the meeting in the snowdrift to the taking of Belogorsk, where he gave me my life through gratitude. I was going to continue my defense, by relating frankly my relations with Marie, and her rescue. But if I spoke of her the Commission would force her to appear, and her name would become the theme of no very delicate remarks by the interrogated witnesses. These thoughts so troubled me that I stammered, and at last was silent.
The judges were prejudiced against me by my evident confusion. The young Guardsman asked that I should be confronted by my chief accuser. Some minutes later the clank of iron fetters resounded, and Alexis entered.
He was pale and thin. His hair, formerly black as a raven’s wing, was turning gray. He repeated his accusation in a weak but decided tone.
According to him, I was Pougatcheff’s spy. I heard him to the end in silence, and rejoiced at one thing: he never pronounced the name of Marie Mironoff. Was it that his self-love smarted from her contemptuous rejection of him? or was there in his heart a spark of that same feeling which made me also silent on that point? This confirmed me in my resolution, and when asked what I had to answer to the charges of Alexis, I merely said that I held to my first declaration, and had nothing more to add.
The General remanded us to prison. I looked at Alexis. He smiled with satisfied hate, raised up his shackles to hasten his pace and pass before me. I had no further examination. I was not an eye-witness of what remains to be told the reader; but I have so often heard the story, that the minutest particulars are engraved on my memory.
Marie was received by my parents with the cordial courtesy which distinguished the preceding generation. They became very much attached to her, and my father no longer considered my love a folly. The news of my arrest was a fearful blow; but Marie and Saveliitch had so frankly told the origin of my connection with Pougatcheff, that the news did not seem grave. My father could not be persuaded that I would take part in an infamous revolt, whose object was the subversion of the throne and the extinction of the nobility. So better news was expected, and several weeks passed, when at last a letter came from our relative Prince B—-. After the usual compliments, he told my father that the suspicions of my complicity in the rebel plots were only too well founded, as had been proved,—that an exemplary execution might have been my fate, were it not that the Empress, out of consideration for the father’s white hair and loyal services, had commuted the sentence of the criminal son. She had exiled him for life to the depths of Siberia!
The blow nearly killed my father, his firmness gave way, and his usually silent sorrow burst into bitter plaints: “What! my son plotting with Pougatcheff! The Empress gives him his life! Execution not the worst thing in the world! My grandfather died on the scaffold in defense of his convictions! But, that a noble should betray his oath, unite with bandits, knaves and revolted slaves! shame! shame forever on our face!”
Frightened by his despair, my mother did not dare to show her grief, and Marie was more desolate than they. Persuaded that I could justify myself if I chose, she divined the motive of my silence, and believed that she was the cause of my suffering.
One evening, seated on his sofa, my father was turning over the leaves of the “Court Almanac,” but his thoughts were far away, and the book did not produce its usual effect upon him. My mother was knitting in silence, and from time to time a furtive tear dropped upon her work. Marie, who was sewing in the same room, without any prelude declared to my parents that she was obliged to go to St. Petersburg, and begged them to furnish her the means.
My mother said: “Why will you leave us?”
Marie replied that her fate depended on this journey; that she was going to claim the protection of those in favor at Court, as the daughter of a man who had perished a victim to his loyalty.
My father bowed his head. A word which recalled the supposed crime of his son, seemed a sharp reproach.
“Go,” said he, at last, with a sigh; “we will not place an obstacle to your happiness. May God give you an honorable husband and not a traitor!”
He rose and left the room. Alone with my mother, Marie confided to her, in part, the object of her journey. My mother, in tears, kissed her and prayed for the success of the project. A few days after, Marie, Polacca and Saveliitch left home.
When Marie reached Sofia, she learned that the Court was at that moment in residence at the summer palace of Tzarskoie-Selo. She decided to stop there, and obtained a small room at the post-house. The post mistress came to chat with the new-comer. She told Marie, pompously, that she was the niece of an official attached to the Court—her uncle having the honor of attending to the fires in her Majesty’s abode! Marie soon knew at what hour the Empress rose, took her coffee, and went on the promenade; in brief, the conversation of Anna was like a page from the memoirs of the times, and would be very precious in our days. The two women went together to the Imperial gardens, where Anna told Marie the romance of each pathway and the history of every bridge over the artificial streams. Next day very early Marie returned alone to the Imperial gardens. The weather was superb. The sun gilded the linden tops, already seared by the Autumn frosts. The broad lake sparkled, the swans, just aroused, came out gravely from the shore. Marie was going to a charming green sward, when a little dog, of English blood, came running to her barking. She was startled; but a voice of rare refinement said: “He will not bite you; do not be afraid.”
A lady about fifty years of age was seated on a rustic bench. She was dressed in a white morning-dress, a light cap and a mantilla. Her face, full and florid, was expressive of calmness and seriousness. She was the first to speak: “You are evidently a stranger here?”
“That is true, madam. I arrived from the country yesterday.”
“You are with your parents?”
“No, madam, alone.”
“You are too young to travel alone. Are you here on business?”
“My parents are dead. I came to present a petition to the Empress.”
“You are an orphan; you have to complain of injustice, or injury?”
“Madam, I came to ask for a pardon, not justice.”
“Permit me a question: Who are you?”
“I am the daughter of Captain Mironoff.”
“Of Captain Mironoff? of him who commanded one of the fortresses in the province of Orenbourg?”
“The same, madam.”
The lady seemed touched. “Pardon me, I am going to Court. Explain the object of your petition; perhaps I can aid you.” Marie took from her pocket a paper which she handed to the lady, who read it attentively. Marie, whose eyes followed every movement of her countenance, was alarmed by the severe expression of face so calm and gracious a moment before.
“You intercede for Grineff?” said the lady, in an icy tone. “The Empress can not pardon him. He went over to the usurper, not as an ignorant believer, but as a depraved and dangerous good-for-nothing.”
“It is not true!” exclaimed Marie.
“What! not true?” said the lady, flushing to the eyes.
“Before God, it is not true. I know all. I will tell you all. It was for me only that exposed himself to all these misfortunes. If he did not clear himself before his judges, it was because he would not drag me before the authorities.” Marie then related with warmth all that the reader knows.
“Where do you lodge?” asked the lady, when the young girl had finished her recital. Upon hearing that she was staying with the postmaster’s wife, she nodded, and said with a smile: “Ah! I know her. Adieu! tell no one of our meeting. I hope you will not have long to wait for the answer to your petition.”
She rose and went away by a covered path. Marie went back to Anna’s, full of fair hope. The postmaster’s wife was surprised that Marie took so early a promenade, which might in Autumn, prove injurious to a young girl’s health. She brought the Somovar, and with her cup of tea was going to relate one of her interminable stories, when a carriage with the imperial escutcheon stopped before the door. A lackey, wearing the imperial livery, entered and announced that her Majesty deigned to order to her presence the daughter of Captain Mironoff!
‘Ah!’ exclaimed Anna, ‘the Empress orders you to Court! How did she know you were with me? You can not present yourself—you do not know how to walk in courtly fashion! I ought to go with you. Shall I not send to the doctor’s wife and get her yellow dress with flounces, for you?’
The lackey declared that he had orders to take Marie alone, just as she was. Anna did not dare to disobey, and Marie set out. She had a presentiment that her destiny was now to be decided. Her heart beat violently. In a few minutes the carriage was at the palace, and Marie, having crossed a long suite of apartments, vacant and sumptuous, entered the boudoir of the Empress. The nobles who surrounded their sovereign respectfully made way for the young girl.
The Empress, in whom Marie recognized the lady of the garden, said, graciously: ‘I am pleased to be able to grant your prayer. Convinced of the innocence of your betrothed, I have arranged everything. Here is a letter for your future father-in-law.’
Marie, in tears, fell at the feet of the Empress, who raised her up and kissed her, saying:
‘I know that you are not rich; but I have to acquit myself of a debt to the daughter of a brave man, Captain Mironoff.’ Treating Marie with tenderness, the Empress dismissed her. That day Marie set out for my father’s country-seat, not having even glanced at Saint Petersburg.” Alexander Pushkin, Marie; Chapters XII-XIV, 1846, 1877
All writers belong to the class of non-orators. The writer and the orator are not only different, but they stand in opposition, for their work and the achievement of their effects proceed in different ways. In particular the convinced writer is instinctively repelled, from a literary standpoint, by the improvised and noncomittal character of all talk, as well as by that principle of economy which leaves many and indeed decisive gaps which must be filled by the effects of the speaker’s personality. But my case is complicated by temporary difficulties that have virtually foredoomed my makeshift oratory. I am referring, of course, to the circumstances into which I have been placed by you, gentlemen of the Swedish Academy, circumstances of marvellous confusion and exuberance. Truly, I had no idea of the thunderous honours that are yours to bestow! I have an epic, not a dramatic nature. My disposition and my desires call for peace to spin my thread, for a steady rhythm in life and art. No wonder, if the dramatic firework that has crashed from the North into this steady rhythm has reduced my rhetorical abilities even beneath their usual limitations. Ever since the Swedish Academy made public its decision, I have lived in festive intoxication, an enchanting topsy-turvy, and I cannot illustrate its consequences on my mind and soul better than by pointing to a pretty and curious love poem by Goethe. It is addressed to Cupid himself and the line that I have in mind goes: «Du hast mir mein Gerät verstellt und verschoben.» Thus the Nobel Prize has wrought dramatic confusion among the things in my epic household, and surely I am not being impertinent if I compare the effects of the Nobel Prize on me to those that passion works in a well-ordered human life.
And yet, how difficult it is for an artist to accept without misgivings such honours as are now showered upon me! Is there a decent and self-critical artist who would not have an uneasy conscience about them? Only a suprapersonal, supra-individual point of view will help in such a dilemma. It is always best to get rid of the individual, particularly in such a case. Goethe once said proudly, «Only knaves are modest.» That is very much the word of a grand seigneur who wanted to disassociate himself from the morality of subalterns and hypocrites. But, ladies and gentlemen, it is hardly the whole truth. There is wisdom and intelligence in modesty, and he would be a silly fool indeed who would find a source of conceit and arrogance in honours such as have been bestowed upon me. I do well to put this international prize that through some chance was given to me, at the feet of my country and my people, that country and that people to which writers like myself feel closer today than they did at the zenith of its strident empire.
After many years the Stockholm international prize has once more been awarded to the German mind, and to German prose in particular, and you may find it difficult to appreciate the sensitivity with which such signs of world sympathy are received in my wounded and often misunderstood country.
May I presume to interpret the meaning of this sympathy more closely? German intellectual and artistic achievements during the last fifteen years have not been made under conditions favourable to body and soul. No work had the chance to grow and mature in comfortable security, but art and intellect have had to exist in conditions intensely and generally problematic, in conditions of misery, turmoil, and suffering, an almost Eastern and Russian chaos of passions, in which the German mind has preserved the Westem and European principle of the dignity of form. For to the European, form is a point of honour, is it not? I am not a Catholic, ladies and gentlemen; my tradition is like that of all of you; I support the Protestant immediateness to God. Nevertheless, I have a favourite saint. I will tell you his name. It is Saint Sebastian, that youth at the stake, who, pierced by swords and arrows from all sides, smiles amidst his agony. Grace in suffering: that is the heroism symbolized by St. Sebastian. The image may be bold, but I am tempted to claim this heroism for the German mind and for German art, and to suppose that the international honour fallen to Germany’s literary achievement was given with this sublime heroism in mind. Through her poetry Germany has exhibited grace in suffering. She has preserved her honour, politically by not yielding to the anarchy of sorrow, yet keeping her unity; spiritually by uniting the Eastern principle of suffering with the Western principle of form—by creating beauty out of suffering.
Allow me at the end to become personal. I have told even the first delegates who came to me after the decision how moved and how pleased I was to receive such an honour from the North, from that Scandinavian sphere to which as a son of Lübeck I have from childhood been tied by so many similarities in our ways of life, and as a writer by so much literary sympathy and admiration for Northern thought and atmosphere. When I was young, I wrote a story that young people still like: Tonio Kröger. It is about the South and the North and their mixture in one person, a problematic and productive mixture. The South in that story is the essence of sensual, intellectual adventure, of the cold passion of art. The North, on the other hand, stands for the heart, the bourgeois home, the deeply rooted emotion and intimate humanity. Now this home of the heart, the North, welcomes and embraces me in a splendid celebration. It is a beautiful and meaningful day in my life, a true holiday of life, a «högtidsdag», as the Swedish language calls any day of rejoicing. Let me tie my final request to this word so clumsily borrowed from Swedish: Let us unite, ladies and gentlemen, in gratitude and congratulations to the Foundation, so beneficial and important the world over, to which we owe this magnificent evening. According to good Swedish custom, join me in a fourfold hurrah to the Nobel Foundation!” Thomas Mann, Nobel Literary Banquet Speech; 1929: http://www.nobelprize.org/
Coming very near to happy paganism.
The heart captivated and small receivings
Shall open the gate to pay the true tithe.’]When we look back to the time before 1914, we find ourselves living in a world of events which would have been inconceivable before the war. We were even beginning to regard war between civilized nations as a fable, thinking that such an absurdity would become less and less possible on our rational, internationally organized world. And what came after the war was a veritable witches’ sabbath. Everywhere fantastic revolutions, violent alterations of the map, reversions in politics to medieval or even antique prototypes, totalitarian states that engulf their neighbours and outdo all previous theocracies in their absolutist claims, persecutions of Christians and Jews, wholesale political murder, and finally we have witnessed a light-hearted piratical raid on a peaceful, half-civilized people.
With such goings on in the wide world it is not in the least surprising that there should be equally curious manifestations on a smaller scale in other spheres. In the realm of philosophy we shall have to wait some time before anyone is able to assess the kind of age we are living in. But in the sphere of religion we can see at once that some very significant things have been happening. We need feel no surprise that in Russia the colourful splendours of the Eastern Orthodox Church have been superseded by the Movement of the Godless — indeed, one breathed a sigh of relief oneself when one emerged from the haze of an Orthodox church with its multitude of lamps ande ntered an honest mosque, where the sublime and invisible omnipresence of God was not crowded out by a superfluity of sacred paraphernalia. Tasteless and pitiably unintelligent as it is, and however deplorable the low spiritual level of the ‘scientific’ reaction, it was inevitable that nineteenth-century ‘scientific’ enlightenment should one day dawn in Russia.
But what is more than curious — indeed, piquant to a degree — is that an ancient god of storm and frenzy, the long quiescent Wotan,should awake, like an extinct volcano, to new activity, in a civilized country that had long been supposed to have outgrown the Middle Ages. We have seen him come to life in the German Youth Movement, and right at the beginning the blood of several sheep was shed in honour of his resurrection. Armed with rucksack and lute, blond youths, and sometimes girls as well, were to be seen as restless wanderers on every road from the North Cape to Sicily, faithful votaries of the roving god. Later, towards the end of the Weimar Republic, the wandering role was taken over by thousands of unemployed, who were to be met with everywhere on their aimless journeys. By 1933 they wandered no longer, but marched in their hundreds of thousands. The Hitler movement literally brought the whole of Germany to its feet, from five-year-olds to veterans, and produced a spectacle of a nation migrating from one place to another. Wotan the wanderer was on the move. He could be seen, looking rather shamefaced, in the meeting-house of a sect of simple folk in North Germany, disguised as Christ sitting on a white horse. I do not know if these people were aware of Wotan’s ancient connection with the figures of Christ and Dionysus, but it is not very probable.
Wotan is a restless wanderer who creates unrest andstirs up strife, now here, now there, and works magic. He was soon changed byChristianity into the devil, and only lived on in fading local traditions as aghostly hunter who was seen with his retinue, flickering like a will o’ thewisp through the stormy night. In the Middle Ages the role of the restlesswanderer was taken over by Ahasuerus, the Wandering Jew, which is not a Jewishbut a Christian legend. The motif of the wanderer who has not accepted Christwas projected on the Jews, in the same way as we always rediscover ourunconscious psychic contents in other people. At any rate the coincidence ofanti-Semitism with the reawakening of Wotan is a psychological subtlety thatmay perhaps be worth mentioning.
The German youths who celebrated the solstice withsheep-sacrifices were not the first to hear the rustling in the primeval forestof the unconsciousness. They were anticipated by Nietzsche, Schuler, StefanGeorge, and Ludwig Klages. The literary tradition of the Rhineland and thecountry south of the Main has a classical stamp that cannot easily be got ridof; every interpretation of intoxication and exuberance is apt to be taken backto classical models, to Dionysus, to the puer aeternus and the cosmogonic Eros.No doubt it sounds better to academic ears to interpret these things asDionysus, but Wotan might be a more correct interpretation. He is the god ofstorm and frenzy, the unleasher of passions and the lust of battle; moreover heis a superlative magician and artist in illusion who is versed in all secretsof an occult nature.
Nietzsche‘s case is certainly a peculiar one. He had no knowledge of Germanic literature; he discovered the “cultural Philistine”; and the announcement that “God is dead” led to Zarathustra’s meeting with an unknown god in unexpected form, who approached him sometimes as an enemy and sometimes disguised as Zarathustra himself. Zarathustra, too, was a soothsayer, a magician, and the storm-wind:
And like a wind shall I come to blow among them, and with my spirit shall take away the breath of their spirit; thus my future will sit. Truly, a strong wind is Zarathustra to all that are low; and this counsel gives he to his enemies and to all that spit and spew: “Beware of spitting against the wind.”
And when Zarathustra dreamed that he was guardian of the graves in the “lone mountain fortress of death,” and was making amighty effort to open the gates, suddenly
A roaring wind tore the gates asunder; whistling,shrieking, and keening, it cast a black coffin before me. And amid the roaring and whistling and shrieking the coffin burst open and spouted a thousand peals of laughter.
The disciple who interpreted the dream said to Zarathustra:
Are you not yourself the wind with shrill whistling,which bursts open the gates of the fortress of death? Are you not yourself the coffin filled with life’s gay malice and angel-grimaces?
In 1863 or 1864, in his poem TO THE UNKNOWN GOD, Nietzsche had written:
I shall and will know thee, Unknown One,
Who searchest out the depths of my soul,
And blowest through my life like a storm,
Ungraspable, and yet my kinsman!
I shall and will know thee, and serve thee.
Twenty years later, in his MISTRAL SONG, he wrote:
Mistral wind, chaser of clouds,
Killer of gloom, sweeper of the skies,
Raging storm-wind, how I love thee!
And we are not both the first-fruits
Of the same womb, forever predestined
To the same fate?
In the dithyramb known as ARIADNE’S LAMENT, Nietzsche is completely the victim of the hunter-god:
Stretched out, shuddering,
Like a half-dead thing whose feet are warmed,
Shaken by unknown fevers,
Shivering with piercing icy frost arrows,
Hunted by thee, O thought,
Unutterable! Veiled! horrible one!
Thou huntsman behind the cloud.
Struck down by thy lightning bolt,
Thou mocking eye that stares at me from the dark!
Thus I lie.
Writhing, twisting, tormented
With all eternal tortures,
By thee, cruel huntsman,
Thou unknown — God.
This remarkable image of the hunter-god is not a meredithyrambic figure of speech but is based on an experience which Nietzsche had when he was fifteen years old, at Pforta. It is described in a book by Nietzsche’s sister, Elizabeth Foerster-Nietzsche. As he was wandering about in a gloomy wood at night, he was terrified by a “blood-curdling shriek from a neighbouring lunatic asylum,” and soon afterwards he came face to face with a huntsman whose “features were wild and uncanny.” Setting his whistle to his lips “in a valley surrounded by wild scrub,” the huntsman “blew such a shrill blast” that Nietzsche lost consciousness —but woke up again in Pforta. It was a nightmare. It is significant that in his dream Nietzsche, who in reality intended to go to Eisleben, Luther’s town, discussed with the huntsman the question of going instead to”Teutschenthal” (Valley of the Germans). No one with ears can misunderstand the shrill whistling of the storm-god in the nocturnal wood.
Was it really only the classical philologist in Nietzsche that led to the god being called Dionysus instead of Wotan — or was it perhaps due to his fateful meeting with Wagner?
In his REICH OHNE RAUM, which was first published in1919, Bruno Goetz saw the secret of coming events in Germany in the form of avery strange vision. I have never forgotten this little book, for it struck meat the time as a forecast of the German weather. It anticipates the conflict between the realm of ideas and life, between Wotan’s dual nature as a god of storm and a god of secret musings. Wotan disappeared when his oaks fell and appeared again when the Christian God proved too weak to save Christendom from fratricidal slaughter. When the Holy Father at Rome could only impotently lament before God the fate of the grex segregatus, the one-eyed old hunter, on the edge of the German forest, laughed and saddled Sleipnir.
We are always convinced that the modern world is a reasonable world, basing our opinion on economic, political, and psychological factors. But if we may forget for a moment that we are living in the year ofOur Lord 1936, and, laying aside our well-meaning, all-too-human reasonableness,may burden God or the gods with the responsibility for contemporary events instead of man, we would find Wotan quite suitable as a casual hypothesis. In fact, I venture the heretical suggestion that the unfathomable depths of Wotan’s character explain more of National Socialism than all three reasonable factors put together. There is no doubt that each of these factors explains an important aspect of what is going on in Germany, but Wotan explains yet more.He is particularly enlightening in regard to a general phenomenon which is so strange to anybody not a German that it remains incomprehensible, even after the deepest reflection.
Perhaps we may sum up this general phenomenon as Ergriffenheit — a state of being seized or possessed. The term postulates not only an Ergriffener (one who is seized) but, also, an Ergreifer (one whoseizes). Wotan is an Ergreifer of men, and, unless one wishes to deify Hitler– which has indeed actually happened — he is really the only explanation. It is true that Wotan shares this quality with his cousin Dionysus, but Dionysusseems to have exercised his influence mainly on women. The maenads were a species of female storm-troopers, and, according to mythical reports, were dangerous enough. Wotan confined himself to the berserkers, who found their vocation as the Blackshirts of mythical kings.
A mind that is still childish thinks of the gods as metaphysical entities existing in their own right, or else regards them as playful or superstitious inventions. From either point of view the parallel between Wotan redivivus and the social, political and psychic storm that is shaking Germany might have at least the value of a parable. But since the gods are without doubt personifications of psychic forces, to assert their metaphysical existence is as much an intellectual presumption as the opinion that they could ever be invented. Not that “psychic forces” have anything to do with the conscious mind, fond as we are of playing with the idea that consciousness and psyche are identical. This is only another piece of intellectual presumption. “Psychic forces” have far more to do with the realm of the unconscious. Our mania for rational explanations obviously has its roots in our fear of metaphysics, for the two were always hostile brothers. Hence,anything unexpected that approaches us from the dark realm is regarded eitheras coming from outside and, therefore, as real, or else as an hallucination and, therefore, not true. The idea that anything could be real or true which does not come from outside has hardly begun to dawn on contemporary man.
For the sake of better understanding and to avoid prejudice, we could of course dispense with the name “Wotan” and speak instead of the furor teutonicus. But we should only be saying the samething and not as well, for the furor in this case is a mere psychologizing of Wotan and tells us no more than that the Germans are in a state of”fury.” We thus lose sight of the most peculiar feature of this whole phenomenon, namely, the dramatic aspect of the Ergreifer and the Ergriffener.The impressive thing about the German phenomenon is that one man, who is obviously “possessed,” has infected a whole nation to such an extent that everything is set in motion and has started rolling on its course towards perdition.
It seems to me that Wotan hits the mark as an hypothesis. Apparently he really was only asleep in the Kyffhauser mountain until the ravens called him and announced the break of day. He is a fundamental attribute of the German psyche, an irrational psychic factor which acts on the high pressure of civilization like a cyclone and blows it away. Despite their crankiness, the Wotan-worshippers seem to have judged things more correctly than the worshippers of reason. Apparently everyone had forgotten that Wotan isa Germanic datum of first importance, the truest expression and unsurpassed personification of a fundamental quality that is particularly characteristic of the Germans. Houston Stewart Chamberlain is a symptom which arouses suspicion that other veiled gods may be sleeping elsewhere. The emphasis on the Germanic race — commonly called “Aryan” — the Germanic heritage, blood and soil, the Wagalaweia songs, the ride of the Valkyries, Jesus as a blond and blue-eyed hero, the Greek mother of St Paul, the devil as an international Alberich in Jewish or Masonic guise, the Nordic aurora borealis as the light of civilization, the inferior Mediterranean races — all this is the indispensable scenery for the drama that is taking place and at the bottom they all mean the same thing: a god has taken possession of the Germans and their house is filled with a “mighty rushing wind.” It was soon after Hitler seized power,if I am not mistaken, that a cartoon appeared in PUNCH of a raving berserker tearing himself free from his bonds. A hurricane has broken loose in Germany while we still believe it is fine weather.
Things are comparatively quiet in Switzerland, though occasionally there is a puff of wind from the north or south. Sometimes it has a slightly ominous sound, sometimes it whispers so harmlessly or even idealistically that no one is alarmed. “Let the sleeping dogs lie” –we manage to get along pretty well with this proverbial wisdom. It is sometimes said that the Swiss are singularly averse to making a problem of themselves. I must rebut this accusation: the Swiss do have their problems, but they would not admit it for anything in the world, even though they see which way the wind is blowing. We thus pay our tribute to the time of storm and stress in Germany,but we never mention it, and this enables us to feel vastly superior.
It is above all the Germans who have an opportunity,perhaps unique in history, to look into their own hearts and to learn what those perils of the soul were from which Christianity tried to rescue mankind.Germany is a land of spiritual catastrophes, where nature never makes more than a pretense of peace with the world-ruling reason. The disturber of the peace isa wind that blows into Europe from Asia’s vastness, sweeping in on a wide front from Thrace to the Baltic, scattering the nations before it like dry leaves. or inspiring thoughts that shake the world to its foundations. It is an elementalDionysus breaking into the Apollonian order. The rouser of this tempest isnamed Wotan, and we can learn a good deal about him from the politicalconfusion and spiritual upheaval he has caused throughout history. For a moreexact investigation of his character, however, we must go back to the age ofmyths, which did not explain everything in terms of man and his limitedcapacities, but sought the deeper cause in the psyche and its autonomouspowers. Man’s earliest intuitions personified these powers. Man’s earliestintuitions personified these powers as gods, and described them in the mythswith great care and circumstantiality according to their various characters.This could be done the more readily on account of the firmly establishedprimordial types or images which are innate in the unconscious of many racesand exercise a direct influence upon them. Because the behavior of a race takeson its specific character from its underlying images, we can speak of anarchetype “Wotan.” As an autonomous psychic factor, Wotan produceseffects in the collective life of a people and thereby reveals his own nature.For Wotan has a peculiar biology of his own, quite apart from the nature ofman. It is only from time to time that individuals fall under the irresistibleinfluence of this unconscious factor. When it is quiescent, one is no moreaware of the archetype Wotan than of a latent epilepsy. Could the Germans whowere adults in 1914 have foreseen what they would be today? Such amazingtransformations are the effect of the god of wind, that “bloweth where itlisteth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence itcometh, nor whither it goeth.” It seizes everything in its path andoverthrows everything that is not firmly rooted. When the wind blows it shakeseverything that is insecure, whether without or within.
Martin Ninck has recently published a monograph whichis a most welcome addition to our knowledge of Wotan’s nature. The reader neednot fear that this book is nothing but a scientific study written with academicaloofness from the subject. Certainly the right to scientific objectivity isfully preserved, and the material has been collected with extraordinarythoroughness and presented in unusually clear form. But, over and above allthis, one feels that the author is vitally interested in it, that the chord ofWotan is vibrating in him, too. This is no criticism — on the contrary, it isone of the chief merits of the book, which without this enthusiasm might easilyhave degenerated into a tedious catalogue. Ninck sketches a really magnificentportrait of the German archetype Wotan. He describes him in ten chapters, usingall the available sources, as the berserker, the god of storm, the wanderer,the warrior, the Wunsch- and Minne-god, the lord of the dead and of theEinherjar, the master of secret knowledge, the magician, and the god of thepoets. Neither the Valkyries nor the Fylgja are forgotten, for they form partof the mythological background and fateful significance of Wotan. Ninck’sinquiry into the name and its origin is particularly instructive. He shows thatWotan is not only a god of rage and frenzy who embodies the instinctual andemotion aspect of the unconscious. Its intuitive and inspiring side, also,manifests itself in him, for he understands the runes and can interpret fate.
The Romans identified Wotan with Mercury, but hischaracter does not really correspond to any Roman or Greek god, although thereare certain resemblances. He is a wanderer like Mercury, for instance, he rulesover the dead like Pluto and Kronos, and is connected with Dionysus by his emotionalfrenzy, particularly in its mantic aspect. It is surprising that Ninck does notmention Hermes, the god of revelation, who as pneuma and nous is associatedwith the wind. He would be the connecting-link with the Christian pneuma andthe miracle of Pentecost. As Poimandres (the shepherd of men), Hermes is anErgreifer like Wotan. Ninck rightly points out that Dionysus and the otherGreek gods always remained under the supreme authority of Zeus, which indicatesa fundamental difference between the Greek and the Germanic temperament. Ninckassumes an inner affinity between Wotan and Kronus, and the latter’s defeat mayperhaps be a sign that the Wotan-archetype was once overcome and split up inprehistoric times. At all events, the Germanic god represents a totality on avery primitive level, a psychological condition in which man’s will was almostidentical with the god’s and entirely at his mercy. But the Greeks had gods whohelped man against other gods; indeed, All-Father Zeus himself is not far fromthe ideal of a benevolent, enlightened despot.
It was not in Wotan’s nature to linger on and showsigns of old age. He simply disappeared when the times turned against him, andremained invisible for more than a thousand years, working anonymously and indirectly.Archetypes are like riverbeds which dry up when the water deserts them, butwhich it can find again at any time. An archetype is like an old watercoursealong which the water of life has flowed for centuries, digging a deep channelfor itself. The longer it has flowed in this channel the more likely it is thatsooner or later the water will return to its old bed. The life of theindividual as a member of society and particularly as a part of the State maybe regulated like a canal, but the life of nations is a great rushing riverwhich is utterly beyond human control, in the hands of One who has always beenstronger than men. The League of Nations, which was supposed to possesssupranational authority, is regarded by some as a child in need of care andprotection, by others as an abortion. Thus, the life of nations rolls onunchecked, without guidance, unconscious of where it is going, like a rockcrashing down the side of a hill, until it is stopped by an obstacle strongerthan itself. Political events move from one impasse to the next, like a torrentcaught in gullies, creeks and marshes. All human control comes to an end whenthe individual is caught in a mass movement. Then, the archetypes begin tofunction, as happens, also, in the lives of individuals when they areconfronted with situations that cannot be dealt with in any of the familiarways. But what a so-called Fuhrer does with a mass movement can plainly be seenif we turn our eyes to the north or south of our country.
The ruling archetype does not remain the same forever,as is evident from the temporal limitations that have been set to the hoped-forreign of peace, the “thousand-year Reich.” The Mediterraneanfather-archetype of the just, order-loving, benevolent ruler had been shatteredover the whole of northern Europe, as the present fate of the ChristianChurches bears witness. Fascism in Italy and the civil war in Spain show thatin the south as well the cataclysm has been far greater than one expected. Eventhe Catholic Church can no longer afford trials of strength.
The nationalist God has attacked Christianity on abroad front. In Russia, he is called technology and science, in Italy, Duce,and in Germany, “German Faith,” “German Christianity,” orthe State. The “German Christians” are a contradiction in terms andwould do better to join Hauer’s “German Faith Movement.” These aredecent and well-meaning people who honestly admit their Ergriffenheit and tryto come to terms with this new and undeniable fact. They go to an enormous amountof trouble to make it look less alarming by dressing it up in a conciliatoryhistorical garb and giving us consoling glimpses of great figures such asMeister Eckhart, who was, also, a German and, also, ergriffen. In this way theawkward question of who the Ergreifer is is circumvented. He was always”God.” But the more Hauer restricts the world-wide sphere ofIndo-European culture to the “Nordic” in general and to the Edda inparticular, and the more “German” this faith becomes as amanifestation of Ergriffenheit, the more painfully evident it is that the”German” god is the god of the Germans.
One cannot read Hauer’s book without emotion, if one regards it as the tragic and really heroic effort of a conscientious scholar who, without knowing how it happened to him, was violently summoned by the inaudible voice of the Ergreifer and is now trying with all his might, and with all his knowledge and ability, to build a bridge between the dark forces of life and the shining world of historical ideas. But what do all the beauties of the past from totally different levels of culture mean to the man of today, when confronted with a living and unfathomable tribal god such as he has never experienced before? They are sucked like dry leaves into the roaring whirlwind,and the rhythmic alliterations of the Edda became inextricably mixed up with Christian mystical texts, German poetry and the wisdom of the Upanishads. Hauer himself is ergriffen by the depths of meaning in the primal words lying at the root of the Germanic languages, to an extent that he certainly never knew before. Hauer the Indologist is not to blame for this, nor yet the Edda; it is rather the fault of kairos — the present moment in time — whose name on closer investigation turns out to be Wotan. I would, therefore, advise the German Faith Movement to throw aside their scruples. Intelligent people who will not confuse them with the crude Wotan-worshippers whose faith is a mere pretense. There are people in the German Faith Movement who are intelligent enough not only to believe, but to know, that the god of the Germans is Wotan and not the Christian God. This is a tragic experience and no disgrace. It has always been terrible to fall into the hands of a living god. Yahweh was no exception to this rule, and the Philistines, Edomites, Amorites and the rest,who were outside the Yahweh experience, must certainly have found it exceedingly disagreeable. The Semitic experience of Allah was for a long time an extremely painful affair for the whole of Christendom. We who stand outside judge the Germans far too much, as if they were responsible agents, but perhaps it would be nearer the truth to regard them, also, as victims.
If we apply are admittedly peculiar point of view consistently, we are driven to conclude that Wotan must, in time, reveal not only the restless, violent, stormy side of his character, but, also, hisecstatic and mantic qualities — a very different aspect of his nature. If this conclusion is correct, National Socialism would not be the last word. Things must be concealed in the background which we cannot imagine at present, but we may expect them to appear in the course of the next few years or decades. Wotan’s reawakening is a stepping back into the past; the stream was damned up and has broken into its old channel. But the Obstruction will not last forever; it is rather a reculer pour mieux sauter, and the water will overleap theobstacle. Then, at last, we shall know what Wotan is saying when he ‘murmers with Mimir’s head.’
Fast move the sons of Mim,and fate
Is heard in the note of the Gjallarhorn;
Loud blows Heimdall, the horn is aloft,
In fear quake all who on Hel-roads are.
Yggdrasill shakes and shivers on high
The ancient limbs, and the giant is loose;
Wotan murmurs with Mimir’s head
But the kinsman of Surt shall slay him soon.
How fare the gods? how fare the elves?
All Jotunheim groans, the gods are at council;
Loud roar the dwarfs by the doors of stone,
The masters of the rocks: would you know yet more?
Now Garm howls loud before Gnipahellir;
The fetters will burst, and the wolf run free;
Much I do know, and more can see
Of the fate of the gods, the mighty in fight.
From the east comes Hrym with shield held high;
In giant-wrath does the serpent writhe;
O’er the waves he twists, and the tawny eagle
Gnaws corpses screaming; Naglfar is loose.
O’er the sea from the north there sails a ship
With the people of Hel, at the helm stands Loki;
After the wolf do wild men follow,
And with them the brother of Byleist goes.” Carl Jung, “An Essay on Wotan;” 1936