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of the Welsh Church which is complained of, and if the Church as a whole relinquished her present right to the tithe, the reasonableness and justice of which relinquishing the writer is prepared to show, the nation would most probably allow her to retain the rest of her ancient endowments, as well as her more recent benefactions, equitably administered, to reorganise an institution which was thus proving itself worthy, its unhappy past notwithstanding, of the moral and spiritual leadership of a great democracy. Thus the larger and richer life, based on better social and economic conditions, for which the great masses of our people are evidently and naturally struggling, would, by the Church's timely sympathy and effective aid, tend to become a deeper and a higher life as well.
And what eloquent testimony would thereby be borne to the truth and potency of her Master's great paradoxical saying, 'Whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.'
FRANCIS E. POWELL.
RECENT GERMAN FICTION
It is scarcely too much to say that to the average English reader modern German literature is as pathless a wilderness as Central Africa, or as the vanished Teuton forests were to all but the boldest among the Teutons themselves. Upon French literary ground we can manage to stumble along, at a pinch; but the German paths are too tangled, and the German soil too clogging for our exploring steps. It is not the difficulty of language alone which is the obstacle here, but likewise the quality of the fruit which we are expected to gather, and, naturally, also to enjoy.
Very high quality, in very many cases, but for all that, tough -exceedingly tough, and requiring a deal of mastication before yielding up its flavour. German thoroughness is, no doubt, an awe-inspiring quality; but when applied to the manufacturing of fiction it has its drawbacks. The nation of thinkers, even when not composing philosophical treatises, only requires the smallest provocation in order to start off in its favourite direction; and, whatever cause he has at heart, the typical German is apt to be so terribly in earnest about it, as at times to forget that he is supposed to be telling a story. The result, not infrequently, is to send the wearied reader, as with a rebound, back to the most frivolous French or the shallowest English story procurable.
And yet, to let the German fiction of the day slip quite beyond our ken does not seem desirable; the less so at a moment when the political situation is slowly resolving itself into a ring formed by the rest of the world around two combatants, who face each other, the one armed to the teeth-the other apparently still of opinion that he can manage without those arms. In fiction is reflected much of the momentary mood of a nation; and therefore I believe that a study of the newest German novels may have its
The first thing to strike one is that, taken as a whole, they are virulently national, either sentimentally steeped in, or aggressively bristling with, that ideal of universal German brotherhood which for forty years past has been spinning its threads from north to south, gradually smothering the memory of that
'brother-war,' which is beginning to be looked back upon remorsefully, as upon a crime.
Impossible, of course, to make more than a very restricted selection among the flood of volumes which the last year or so has brought with it. Old names and new names, veterans and recruits, are here represented. It is superfluous to apologise for beginning with one of the latter. Has not Place à la jeunesse ! long since become the order of the day?
In the foremost ranks of these new men' stands Rudolf Hans Bartsch, that Austrian artillery officer who has turned his sword into a pen, and doubtless finds the latter instrument about a hundred times more lucrative than the former. The very title of his latest work, Das Deutsche Leid (German Sorrow), is significant in the extreme. Inevitably we think of Weltschmerz, but are at fault here, inasmuch as this particular variety of Weltschmerz might more correctly be termed Seeschmerz (Sea Sorrow-not to be confounded with that other sort of Seasorrow' which affects only the baser portion of our being), since the theme of the novel, stripped of its trappings and somewhat brutally expressed, is the striving of the German nation-perhaps we might say of the German Empire?-to get a firm hold upon the Adriatic. Not all Bartsch's undoubtedly poetic vein, not all his rather exuberant flowers of speech, can hide this naked and quite prosaic fact. Listen to this :
Those few hundred thousands, that language and hatred stand between the German nation and thee, the object of her yearning, thou blue flame, thou classic brine upon whom sailed Odysseus, thou dreamer in the land of sun, thou road to the empire of the world: Adria!
That sounds pretty plain, does it not even without the italics, which are mine?
For the information of the English reader let it here be remarked that the South of Styria has a pre-eminently Slav population, while it owes its culture and most of its towns to German settlers, who ruled supreme until that period of national awakening which, some fifty years back, swept across Europe. Shaken out of their lethargy, the Southern Slavs made the same discovery which elsewhere others were making-the discovery that they were a nation; and there followed the inevitable developments. The original possessors of the soil turned upon their masters, in whom they had come to see usurpers, and another of those fierce national struggles which tear the entrails and paralyse the force of the Austrian Empire has since been raging. It is in the name of culture and of their historic past that the Germans claim political power, while the Slavs do the same on the strength of previous possession. We were here
before you,' the one side says. But you were nothing without us!' replies the other. You have got no Past!' 'But we have a Future!' Thus the retorts fly backwards and forwards. In this case the bitterness of the national struggle is deepened by the fact that the dense mass of Slav population lies like a bar between the Germans and that Adria,' which we have just heard sung as the object of their yearning. It is the old story of the lion and the lamb. As Max Nordau somewhere says: It is impossible to blame the lion for wanting to eat the lamb, if he happens to be hungry; but it is equally impossible to blame the lamb for not wanting to be eaten. From a personal point of view each is completely in the right. Here the only doubt admissible concerns the rightful distribution of the rôles. Some people see a Teuton lion and a Slav lamb; while others-our author among them-very plainly behold a roaring Slav lion, and a muchwronged, spotlessly innocent lambkin, drooping beneath the burden of German Sorrow.'
This, then, is the subject of the tale, so far as it can be called a tale at all, and not an artistically disguised Pan-Germanic pamphlet. Bartsch himself designates it as 'a landscape romance,' a sub-title which it fully deserves, since, in the art of word-painting of a rather highly-coloured type, I doubt whether this author has a living rival. Of this more anon. Meanwhile, let us get to the story itself, or rather to the want of it, for, in the ordinary sense of the word, there is next to none to tell. Almost everything that happens, happens within the soul of Erasmus Georg Botzenhardt, a German of the dreamy, in contradistinction to the practical, type, and whose mental and moral development we follow, step by step, from his fifth to past his fortieth year. Long before he has left school, and at an age when normally-constituted boys are busy with games and mischief, his soul is groaning under the weight of the German Sorrow,' and his mind sketching vague plans as to how to relieve it. Here is an example :
As children are apt to think in pictures
thus the troops of wild birds heading for the South with yearning cries, the evening became for the boy symbols which he revered, almost superstitiously. There began to burn in his soul unconquerable hunger for that land of vines, where he believed that he would feel nearer to Eternity and to its secrets. Everything drew him South. The most German, the most blessed and most unblessed, of all yearnings had awakened in him with strange force.
Nothing that is said of the German nation is more wonderful than these two forces: the boundless, consuming need to reach God, and that wild, suicidal yearning which draws it towards the blue fire of the South.
Which blue fire, please remember, is in point of fact a blue water, by name 'Adriatic.' 'Suicidal' may sound extreme; yet
there is no saying whether future events will not yet justify the selection of this particular adjective.
Granted such preoccupations in the boy, it is no wonder that the doings of the man should suffer considerably from the pale cast of thought.' To achieve something 'big' is the dream of his life; but in considering how to set about it he wastes half of that same life. The line between the man of ideas and the man of action is finely drawn in the following dialogue. Georg -who is about twelve at the time-has repeated to a schoolfellow a saying that has impressed him :
'Blessed are those who seek great things!'
The small Thoss flung his short, sturdy legs apart, and stood still. 'Yes, that is it,' he cried, raising his forefinger
'Our teacher says that everyone should have a motto. This shall be mine: "Blessed are those who will great things."
'Who seek them,' corrected Georg.
'I prefer the will,' decided the resolute Thoss. You can keep to the seek, if you like.'
And, truly, the two versions fitted the two youngsters very well.
Side by side with his adventures of the soul Georg, inevitably, has adventures of the heart-a whole series of them. First, an idyll with a Slav peasant girl, exquisitely described; next a romantic attachment to a wonderful piece of both physical and mental delicacy, called Babette-whom he knows to be dying of consumption; then a mild affection for the excellent but unexciting woman who becomes his wife; finally, a wild passion for a mere child, twenty-five years his junior, who impulsively makes him a present of her heart. It is only after a hard struggle, and, as it were, by the skin of his teeth, that he saves himself from accepting it. But all these occurrences remain but accessory circumstances to the guiding idea of his life, and scarcely distract his attention from the problem of how to alleviate the German Sorrow.' Until he approaches middle age he has found no better way than the playing of German music-being German in this, too, that he is a born musician. The record of his youth is practically that of a wandering fiddler, flitting about the threatened province, and using his violin bow as one might use a match wherewith to kindle the flame of national feeling. is close upon forty when an unlooked-for heritage puts him in the position of acquiring a piece of Styrian ground, and his unquiet spirit finds rest at last in the narrow but concrete task of Germanising at least one spot of the disputed land.
A crowd of characters accompany the hero upon his thorny road; but in accordance with the usual Bartsch method-they are not so much individuals, as mouth-pieces of the author. They bear different names, belong to different sexes, and even