The sermons have been selected with a view to as wide a range of subjects as possible, from the four volumes of Schleiermacher's published discourses; and they are arranged, so far as this could be done, according to the order of time in which they appeared, that the reader may be more able to judge of the development and progress of the author's mind. It will also tend to a clearer understanding and a juster appreciation of the sermons, as well as give them a more living and personal interest, that the reader be made acquainted with something of the author's history, and of the times in which he lived and worked.
Friedrich Ernst Schleiermacher, born at Breslau, November 21st, 1768, was the firstborn son of a poor army chaplain of the Reformed faith; a man of earnest, evangelical piety, whose heart, as well as that of the mother, was set on the spiritual prosperity of their children. The little Fritz, in the frequent necessary absences of his father, took his first steps in education under his mother's care. At five years old he went to school, where, as he tells us, by his ready memory and the ease with which he acquired mere verbal knowledge, he came to be thought very clever, -- an opinion with which he himself entirely agreed; and so became very conceited. But from the character of his master's school reports, it is plain that the boy was not only clever, but a uniformly good and diligent pupil. The removal of his parents, when he was in his tenth year, to Pless, and then to Anhalt, brought a change that was greatly to the benefit of the delicate child. For nearly two years he lived much in the open air in the country, his mother wisely judging that if he kept up the book-knowledge he had, it was enough for his years. "Fritz," she says, "is all spirit, and Carl all body." So, for the time, Fritz occupied himself in making Latin and French translations, acted as schoolmaster to his wild little brother, teaching him reading and arithmetic, and, these duties accomplished, shared his games and rambles out of doors, sometimes joined by the quiet, retiring elder sister Lotte, the loving, beloved and trusted friend of Fritz through all changing circumstances till the day of her death in 1831.
But even in those earliest years the boy was a thinker; and open and docile as he was to all his good mother's Christian instructions, the active, inquiring mind could take nothing for granted. "I had already," he tells us, "sustained manifold internal religious conflicts. The doctrine of eternal punishment and reward had already exercised a disturbing power over my childish imagination; and in my eleventh year I spent several sleepless nights in consequence of not being able to come to a satisfactory conclusion concerning the mutual relation between the sufferings of Christ and the punishment for which these sufferings were a substitute." A boy of ten losing his sleep, not through anxiety as to his own spiritual safety, but in the endeavour to solve a theological problem which has exercised the minds of devout and scholarly men in every age of the Church! It was clear this boy's life would not run on common or smooth lines. He spent most of two years in a boarding-school at Pless, where scepticism attacked him in the form of doubting the authenticity of all the ancient authors, because he himself did not know any proofs of their genuineness. But a politic fear of losing his much-valued reputation for cleverness, by betraying his ignorance, made him keep a wise silence about those doubts until he should be able to sift the matter for himself.
Before Friedrich was thirteen, lie and Carl, as well as their sister Charlotte, were placed under the care of the Moravian Brethren, at first, for a time, at Gnadenfrei, whence the boys went in 1783 to Niesky. Steeped as Germany then was, almost universally, in the benumbing poison of rationalism, or wrapped in the chilling slumber of a deep formalism, the faithful few, like the good chaplain and his wife, with whom the pure gospel light and life still remained, felt themselves a somewhat helpless and discouraged remnant; and the parents thought they found in the pious, tranquil, well-ordered life of the Congregation a haven of safety for their children. And the children themselves, impressed by what their parents represented to them of the depravity and dangers of the world, became, as the father writes, "more and more anxious not to be sent away from us and out into the world, full of their natural corruption, and implored to be allowed to go to Niesky." Here the boy spent several happy years, pursuing eagerly every path of knowledge that was opened to him; the seeds of pure faith and love and Christian fellowship, sown from his tenderest years on good soil, and fostered by this genial atmosphere, already bringing forth fair fruit. His letters to his sister, during his stay at Niesky, show how honestly and earnestly the young heart was set on serving and pleasing the Saviour whom he already loved. "He alone is my stay; the God who died for me on the cross. . . . Ah, did but the love of Christ fill our hearts day and night! . . . did we but cling to Him, so that not even for one moment could we be drawn away from Him!" "In this short period how much have I not experienced; that is to say, much evil as regards myself, and much mercy as regards the Saviour. I have merited wrath, say I, on my side; I have atoned for yon, cries the Lamb, from the cross." Expressions such as these indicate what was the prevailing tone of the young student's letters for some years.
But it was necessary that he who was to lead others to new and firmer standing-ground should himself struggle through the flood and test every step; it was fitting that the soldier who was to lead the fight against the deadly evils of his time should learn the use of his weapon in battling for his own life and liberty. Even at Niesky, the earnest, loving heart, longing after real communion with the Saviour, yet as rigidly honest with himself as with others, had undergone sore perplexities and struggles from having never been able to feel sure that the spiritual experiences which he saw and believed to be real in those around him, and which he felt to be very desirable for himself, were, in his own case, anything but inventions of his imagination. And when, in his seventeenth year, he was sent to the seminary at Barby, while these difficulties still perplexed him, he was soon plunged into deeper troubles. These will be most clearly explained in his own words.
In the autumn of 1786 he writes to his father: "With one thing only I am not content. I wish very much to study theology, and that thoroughly; but I shall not be able to boast of having done anything of the kind when I leave this, for, in my opinion, we are kept within too narrow limits in point of reading. Except what we see in the scientific periodicals, we learn nothing about the objections, arguments and discussions raised in the present day in regard to exegesis and dogmatics. Even in the lectures delivered to us sufficient mention is not made of these matters, and yet knowledge of them is absolutely necessary for a future theologian. The fact that they fear to lay them before us awakens in many minds a suspicion that the objections of the innovators must approve themselves to the intellect and be difficult to refute. I do not, however, share this opinion."
This was meant to prepare the father for what the son knew would be a terrible blow to him -- the avowal of the change in his views, which he thus makes in a letter six months later: "Alas! dearest father, if you believe that, without this faith, no one can attain to salvation in the next world, nor to tranquility in this and such, I know, is your belief -- oh! then, pray to God to grant it to me, for to me it is now lost. I cannot believe that He, who called Himself the Son of man, was the true, eternal God; I cannot believe that His death was a vicarious atonement, because He never expressly said so Himself; and I cannot believe it to have been necessary, because God, who evidently did not create men for perfection, but for the pursuit of it, cannot possibly intend to punish them eternally because they have not attained it."
Let it be remembered that these are the words of a lad of little more than eighteen; and yet the letter in which they occur is the furthest possible from resembling the utterance of some callow theologian, who imagines that because an idea is new to him it is new to every one else, and whose most profound conviction seems to be, "I have more understanding than all my teachers." On the contrary, its tone is throughout humble, self-distrustful, full of deepest regret for his lost faith and for the conclusions to which he has felt, in the meantime, compelled to come; and full, even more, of reverential tenderness towards his father and bitterest sorrow for the pain which he is so unwillingly inflicting, and which he tries to soften by the hope of a change by-and-by. "Comfort yourself, dear father," he writes; "for I know you were long in the same state in which I am now. Doubts assailed you at one time as they now do me, and yet you have become what you now are. Think, hope, believe that the same may be the case with me." He entreats to be allowed to go to study at Halle; representing that by so doing, and having the opportunity of examining different views, he would be much more likely to change his own; whereas, by remaining among the Brethren, "I should never," he says, "be able to get rid of my doubts. For I am debarred from the possibility of examining for myself in how far the objections of the innovators may or may not be well founded, as I am forbidden to read anything of the kind, and no one here will even refute my own objections."
The correspondence following this letter is pathetic in its painfulness. The father, whose deep affection for his son and pride in his superior gifts only added a tenfold keenness to the sting of the disappointment, could see nothing in the youth's doubts but the pride and depravity of his heart, and a longing after the world and its honours; and poured out tears and reproaches, mingled with entreaties to return from his evil way. He even spoke of feeling compelled to discard him; but this is evidently a mere figure of speech. And the son, on his side, miserable with the strife in his own mind, heart-broken because of his father's grief, meekly justifying himself against misunderstandings, and yet unable to give the only comfort that would avail, suffered probably still more keenly.
The question of leaving Barby was settled by the Brethren, who refused to allow one who had imbibed such views to remain among them even on probation. Thus cut off from all his moorings, external as well as spiritual, his position was sufficiently trying. But in his uncle Stubenrauch, his mother's brother, then a professor of theology at Halle, he found the very friend for his need; one who, while better able than the father to understand .the young man's position, gave him sound and Christian advice, and also set things before his brother-in-law in so wise and hopeful a light that ere long the old man's letters to his son regained all their wonted affectionate tone. Under the roof of this kind uncle, Schleiermacher spent two years at Halle, studying with his usual passionate eagerness, but without any definite plan; as he says himself, taking a taste of everything, making a fragmentary study of all sciences, and "hindered in various ways by that conceit which is peculiar to the self-educated." The necessity of self-support led him to cultivate the English and French languages with a view to teaching; and when at the end of those two years the uncle retired to a living at Drossen, the nephew accompanied him, and spent another year chiefly in adding to his knowledge of theology. His life-long gratitude to this fatherly friend finds graceful expression in his own words: "Nothing gives me more pain than to think that I have not availed myself sufficiently of his friendship to be able to say, in lieu of all praise, See what I have become, and to him I owe it.'"
What great and essential changes took place in his views during these and succeeding years will be best seen in the following sermons. Throughout his life he retained a most kindly feeling towards the Brethren, with whom a strong tie remained for him through his sister having taken up her permanent abode among them. He often and gratefully spoke of what he owed to his early training among them, and more than once revisited them. On one of those occasions, writing from Gnadenfrei, Charlotte's home, he says, "Here it was that that mystic tendency developed itself which has been of so much importance to me, and has supported and carried me through all the storms of scepticism. Then it was only germinating, now it has attained to its full development; and I may say that, after all that I have passed through, I have become a Herrnhuter again, only of a higher order." And later, in 1805, after spending the Easter as a welcome and honoured guest at Barby -- that Barby which had cast him out as poison -- he describes to his friend the "beautiful service on Good Friday, based altogether on the great idea of the Atonement," and goes on to say, "there is not, throughout Christendom, in our day, a form of public worship which expresses more worthily, and awakens more thoroughly, the spirit of true Christian piety than does that of the Herrnhut brotherhood! . . . I could not but feel deeply how far behind them we are in our church, where the poor sermon is everything . . . and is rarely animated by a true and living spirit.
"It will soon be my duty to institute divine service here [at Halle], which is to present a pattern, and to act as a stimulus, to new and far-spread generations of religious teachers; but how wretchedly cramped am I as to means, and how much I deplore that I cannot transplant hither the best and most attractive elements of what I witnessed at Barby!"
These long extracts, while showing his own feeling towards the Brethren and their institutions, will also serve to show what estimate they had by that time formed of his Christian character.
In the summer of 1790 Schleiermacher passed his examination as a licentiate of theology, and soon afterwards obtained a situation as private tutor in the family of Count von Dohna of Schlobitten. Here he spent three years very happily, treated with great kindness by the whole family, delighting in the happy domestic life and in the opportunity of forming his manners in polished society; preaching, visiting the sick, and studying as diligently as time permitted. This pleasant episode was brought to a close through his being unable conscientiously to agree with the views of the parents as to the system to be followed in the children's education. After about half a year spent in teaching in Berlin, he was appointed and ordained as assistant to an aged pastor at Landsberg on the Warthe. He writes to his father on entering on this new office: "From my heart I do wish that God's blessing may be upon my sermons, so that they may be sources of true edification and speak to the heart, as, I trust, they will ever come from the heart. To you I need not say how deeply I am moved at the thought of being numbered among those to whom so important an office is entrusted, nor need I assure you that I do not now, and never shall, look upon it merely as a means of livelihood."
After two years of faithful pastoral work at Landsberg, he was appointed preacher to the Charity House in Berlin, a position which he held for the next six years. These years mark a new and most influential era in his life. He very soon became a daily and honoured guest in the house of the Jewish physician, Dr. Marcus Herz and his beautiful and highly gifted wife Henrietta. There he met the most intellectual and cultured society in Berlin, as well as many distinguished foreigners, for whom the Herzes always kept open house. In this congenial and stimulating atmosphere, Schleiermacher's mind revelled and expanded, while ever steadily holding on its own independent course. He carried on his researches now, as throughout his life, in every department of knowledge -- literature, science, philosophy, theology; he gave a candid and attentive hearing to the views of others, patiently and without prejudice weighed them, and held to what he accounted truth, whether sup ported by others or alone. "I do not believe," he says, "that I shall ever attain to a fully wrought-out system, so that I could answer every question that could be raised, conclusively, and in agreement with all my other knowledge. But I have all along believed that the proving and investigating, the patient hearing of all witnesses and all parties, is the only means for attaining at last to a sufficient amount of certainty, and above all to a well-defined boundary between that about which one must necessarily take a side, and that which one may leave undecided with out detriment to his repose and happiness."
In this social circle also, not only his intellect but his large, deep heart found the outlet and the sympathy which seemed to him a necessity of life. From childhood onwards he felt it impossible to live without loving and being beloved. To one friend he writes: "I stretch forth all my roots and leaves in search of affection, . . . and when I am unable to drink in full draughts of it, I at once dry up and wither." In forming his friendships ho was slow to give confidence till sure of his ground. Intellect and genius no doubt attracted him, but in a friend he demanded more than these. "I cannot," he says, "allow any one to penetrate into the inmost recesses of my mind until I am satisfied of the purity and uprightness of his character. I cannot philosophize with any one whose moral sentiments I do not approve." And again: "For his intellect alone I love no man. Schelling and Goethe are two mighty intellects, but I shall never be tempted to love them." And once more, in defending himself against the charge of having undesirable friends: "Never will I be the friend of a man of disreputable principles; but neither will I ever, out of fear of the world, withdraw the consolation of my friendship from any one who has innocently incurred its ban." But when sure of a pure, true character, he was ready to love in spite of many faults; and having once given his confidence, he was eager to lay open his whole soul to his friend, and to receive a like fulness of communication in return; to have a constant and full and sympathetic interchange of opinions and feelings on all possible subjects. It was perhaps this need of expression that in part made it more natural to him to form friendships with women than with men; though more probably the reason was in the deep, delicate tenderness of his nature. With Henrietta Herz, who was as lovely in character as in person, he formed a friendship that lasted for life; and with several other female friends, all distinguished both by intellectual culture and by personal character, he kept up the closest intimacy.
His faithful sister Charlotte, whom, in her cloistered seclusion, he kept fully acquainted with all his doings and interests, feared, not entirely without reason, that these friendships might injure him in his professional position by exposing his conduct to misconstruction, and also that there might be a danger of his deceiving himself as to the nature of his feelings. He replies at great length, affectionately and patiently going into detail to relieve her loving anxiety. He grants, as to the latter point, that the danger does exist, but assures her that he is always and entirely on his guard, and that between Mrs. Herz and himself any warmer feeling than friendship would never have been possible. And as to the danger to his position, he expresses his conviction that, just because he is a minister, it is his duty to disregard appearances, not, of course, out of mere bravado, but when ever there is good and sufficient reason. And therefore, as he feels sure that these friendships are, on the one hand, essential to him in the cultivation of his mind and heart, and that, on the other hand, they enable him to do much good, he maintains his right to enjoy them.
One faculty which Schleiermacher greatly valued in his friends, that of minutely and exactly observing and describing their own mental processes, was a very strongly marked characteristic of his own mind. This feature indeed comes out so very prominently in his letters that we are obliged to remind ourselves that they are the letters of a German. And yet this habitual, deliberate introspection, which is so commonly an indication and accompaniment of a morbid self-consciousness, was far from being so in his case. Self-conscious he was, in the sense of being fully and intensely aware of every phase and variation in his inner life; but in his relations with his fellow-men his manner had the childlike simplicity that marks every truly great man.
There must have been few more attractive guests in those days at Mrs. Herz's gatherings than the small, slightly deformed man, with keen, flashing eye, and calm, self-possessed manner, who quietly listened and discussed and gave his opinion, and at the same time saw and heard all that was done or said in the room; whose face expressed at once intellectual power and a most winning kindliness.
The most notable of the male friends whom Schleiermacher acquired during this first residence in Berlin was Friedrich Schlegel, who arrived in the city not long after him, and who for some time shared his lodgings. He regarded Schlegel's mental powers with intense admiration, and considered his intimate association with him as the greatest possible advantage to himself. "In regard to intellect," he says, "he is so infinitely superior to me that I cannot speak of his mind but with profound reverence." For a few years his connection with Schlegel occupied a large place in his thoughts and time; a connection of which he said that it would ever remain one of the most remarkable epochs in his life. Mrs. Herz says he was liable to the not very uncommon weakness of greatly exaggerating the merits of his friends; and it is evident that whatever Schlegel's real merits were, his friend saw him through some glorifying medium in his own imagination. "I cannot help," he says, "loving the ideal that dwells in him, al though I am very doubtful whether it will not be shivered to atoms before he succeeds in embodying a harmonious presentment of it, either in his works or in his life. How ever, I see before me, in imagination, the great and truly sublime image of what he may be if he ever attain his true development. How could I then feel otherwise towards him than I do? "It was probably from thus idealising his friend, and also from a generous feeling of his having been unfairly dealt with, that Schleiermacher was moved to write a series of letters in defence of Lucinda, a book of Schlegel's which was severely condemned, and, it would seem, not without good reason; and which Schleiermacher himself had at first disliked. Of this incident a German critic remarks, that "the astonishment felt at seeing a healthy and pure mind, such as Schleiermacher's, finding pleasure in the Lucinda is exceeded by the admiration experienced at beholding the purified reflection of the work furnished by the pure mind." Schleiermacher probably did in this case like the godly old woman who, after hearing a sermon that was very dry bones to most of the hearers, gave notes of it that were savoury and wholesome food. She had read her own devout thoughts into it.
On his twenty-ninth birthday he writes to Charlotte a lively account of how he had been surprised in the morning by the arrival, first of two young Dohnas, (his former Schlobitten pupils, now officers resident for a time in Berlin,) and then of Schlegel and some of his lady friends; how his table was spread with chocolate and cakes, how "Mrs. Herz gave me a watchguard and Mrs. Veit a pair of gloves and a small wineglass out of which to drink the Burgundy she had ordered for my stomach, and Schlegel a small bottle of perfume for my linen, which he knows I am very fond of." And then he goes on to say how Schlegel had incited the others to join in extorting from him a promise to produce something original in writing before the end of the year; "a promise that weighs heavily on me, as I have not the least desire to be an author." This promise was redeemed by his beginning to contribute short papers to the Athenaeum, then conducted by the brothers Schlegel.
But he soon found weightier work for his pen. In the spring of 1799, during a short absence at Potsdam, he completed in two months his Discourses on Religion, addressed to the cultivated Classes among its Contemners. He was very far from anticipating what was to be the effect of this work, and had doubts of its being allowed to pass by the public censor; doubts not unfounded, for it was barely sanctioned. Its aim was to prove that religion is an eternal necessity in human nature, and to distinguish what is essential in it from the accidental and false additions of men.
The book startled the nation as with the blast of a trumpet. Men awoke, especially young men, from the torpor of unbelief or fashionable indifference, and began to inquire, What is truth? The appearance of the work is regarded as forming a distinct epoch in the religious history of Germany. Harms, who had become dissatisfied with rationalism, relates of himself after reading the book twice through, hardly pausing to eat or sleep: "I suddenly recognised that all rationalism, and all aesthetics, and all knowledge derived from ourselves, are utterly worthless and useless as regards the work of salvation; and the necessity of our salvation coming from another source, so to say, flashed upon me. . . . I may, with truth, call it the hour in which my higher life was born. I received from that book the impulse of a movement that will never cease." The great Neander also regarded the reading of these Discourses as the turning-point in his religious life, and many of the most noted thinkers and preachers of Germany were no loss deeply impressed and influenced. It is significant of how little the author sought or valued fame that in none of his letters of that period is there the slightest reference to the sensation produced by the book, nothing indeed to indicate that he was even aware of it. On its being sent to the printer he writes to Mrs. Herz: "It is a strange coincidence that one of my sermons should have appeared at the same time as my Discourses on Religion. My name thus stands among a number of great theologians and preachers, and in order to excuse himself for having placed it there, B -- has been so bold as to say in the preface that I am highly valued in Berlin on account of my talents and my knowledge. . . . What may I not yet become in this sublunary sphere!"
In the following year he published his Monologues, which he describes as "a man's deepest and most intimate communings with himself." These gained him many friends among the best kind of people. Indeed he found it necessary more than once to explain that the Monologues presented the ideal to which he desired to attain, not the picture of what he really was. Amiel, in his Journal, after a criticism of the Monologues at considerable length, thus winds up. "What a life! what a man! These glimpses into the inner regions of a great sould do one good. Contact of this kind strengthens, restores, refreshes. Courage returns as we gaze; when we see what has been, we doubt no more that it can be again. At the sight of a man, we too say to ourselves, Let us also be men!"
In the first year of the new century the first collection of Schleiermacher's sermons was given to the world, dedicated to his good uncle Stubenrauch. This must have been done at the urgent desire of his friends; for even so late as 1824, in referring to the fourth collection which had then been published, he says: "I am still opposed to the publication of the sermons in a printed form; because all sermons, and mine more especially, are only intended to be heard." Something of this he expresses in the dedication to his uncle, and adds, among other interesting explanations: "Others will be offended that the distinction between moral and immoral men, between the pious and the worldly- minded, is so strictly drawn, as among our theologians it has for a long time been supposed to be no longer the fashion to do so; but you know that I could not avoid this offence without being unfaithful to what I hold to be the essential part of Christianity."
In addition to all his other labours, Schleiermacher undertook, jointly with Schlegel, the translation of Plato, from which, however, the latter soon withdrew; and Schleiermacher, after years of toil, completed the task alone.
Schlegel remained only a short time in Berlin, and the increasing difference of their views on various subjects, and perhaps, above all, on religion, gradually made the tie between the two much less close, though Schleiermacher never ceased to speak with warm affection of his early friend.
It should be noted that Schleiermacher carried on all these labours under the burden of wretched health, from which he suffered during most of his life. His eyesight also was weak, and at one time he seemed in danger of losing it altogether; but his resolute will refused to allow even severe physical pain to put a stop to his work, or hinder his enjoyment of social intercourse.
About the same time that Schlegel left Berlin, Schleiermacher was introduced, during a visit in the island of Rügen, to an earnest young preacher, Ehrenfried von Willich, with whom he at once formed a warm friendship -- a friendship that was to lead to very important results for his own future life. His remarks to Charlotte show how much more congenial to him was the Christian pastor than the brilliant philosopher. "Willich has not Friedrich Schlegel's great, deep and all-comprehensive intellect; but he is in many respects nearer to my heart, and his sentiments regarding life are more similar to my own." And after each of them had visited him in Berlin: "Willich has been here. . . . That I derive more enjoyment from his presence than from Schlegel's you may easily guess."
One portion of his experience, which began during those six years so full of import and of progress for him, must not be omitted; not only because it for the time so deeply and powerfully affected him, but because it illustrates so strange a state of society, as well as some peculiar views of his own.
One of his most intimate friends was Eleanore Grunow, a highly cultured and gifted woman, most unhappily married to a clergyman in the city. Schleiermacher held very strongly that a marriage in which there is nothing but the outward tie -- no inward oneness, no heart union -- is an immoral connection, and no real marriage; and that therefore the dissolution of such a connection is a moral duty. Most right-thinking men and women will grant his premisses; but to admit his condition would open the door to dangerous consequences. From keen sympathy with the daily sufferings of his friend, as well as the congeniality of mind that had first drawn them together, Schleiermacher's feeling deepened into a strong attachment, which, so far from being frowned on by his conscience, was mixed with his most sacred thoughts and plans. The law of Prussia permitted divorce on the ground of mutual consent, without any criminality on either aide; public opinion attached no stigma to the practice; there were instances of it in Schleiermacher's immediate circle; and it was his earnest desire that Eleanore shonld obtain a dissolution of her miserable union and become his wife. All his intercourse and correspondence with her was carried on with perfect openness, and his best friends, good and pure men and women, knew and sympathised with his wishes. But Eleanore could not come to a decision; and in the distress and trouble of his mind, he accepted, in the spring of 1802, an appointment as court-preacher at Stolpe in Pomerania, thus voluntarily going into what he felt to be banishment.
At Stolpe he consoled himself with long letters to various friends, filled with details of his work, literary and pastoral, criticisms of books read in his solitude, or of prominent literary men, and of course, above all, with minute accounts of mental experiences, or comments on such accounts received. It would be pleasant, if apace permitted, to give large extracts from those letters, which present so much more vividly than any description a picture of the man; his unceasing mental activity, his quiet, playful humour, his warm, deep sympathy. The letters are not the less interesting in that they are in some respects so utterly unlike the letters of an Englishman, and still more those of a Scotchman. The effusiveness, the sentimentality, if one may so speak, is probably quite as much a national characteristic as a specialty of Schleiermacher individually. But it seems to us more like a school-girl than a profound philosopher when wo read how he, as it were, fell in love with some of his male friends at first sight, as for instance with Willich, with whom he "communed in silence," while the rest of the company sang. Speaking of another, with whom ho had exchanged a few letters before they met, he says, when they mot accidentally, "We exclaimed in one breath, What, this is Hülsen!' and, What, this is Schleiermacher!' And then we fell into each other's arms. After having gazed at each other in silence a few moments, it was as though wo had been in the habit of seeing each other daily for years." And of his friend Reimer, who published his works, he tells Charlotte, "Yesterday a sudden action took place within us, . . . during which we took possession, as it were, of each other as intimate heart-friends. Do not ask me at present to describe this. I am too much overwhelmed and too perplexed. . . . He folded me in his arms, with the words, Henceforward let there be no thing concealed between us!'"
One quotation of another character we must give, as showing both the state of the Church at the time, and Schleiermacher's position and feeling in regard to it. "Last Wednesday the synodal assembly of this diocese took place, and the dean was so kind as to invite mo to be present. This occupied almost the whole day. How sad it made me! Ah, dear friend, to find yourself among thirty-live such clergymen! I did not feel ashamed of belonging to the profession, but with my whole heart I longed for and I pictured to myself those future times which, I trust, are not far distant, when such an assembly will be impossible. I shall not live to see it, but could I only in some way contribute to bring it about! Of the openly disreputable among them I will not speak; . . . but the universal degradation, the entire unsusceptibility to all higher influences, the base and sensuous views depend upon it, I was the only one among them who mourned in heart, the only one; for had there been another I must have found him, I knocked and searched so earnestly."
During his stay at Stolpe, in the autumn of 1803, Schleiermacher published his Critical Enquiry into the Existing Systems of Ethics, criticising especially the systems of Kant and Fichte, and giving the highest place to Plato and Spinoza, but formulating no completed system of his own.
But his mind was still disturbed and unsettled, and his heart often deeply distressed in connection with Eleanore, who seemed, just at this time, to have given him up, though the correspondence was resumed for two years more. He calls this book his tombstone -- a remnant of the happy past. And yet it was at this very time he undertook to carry on alone the translation of Plato! But it is only fair to add, that he explains his doing this, though with the prospect of a speedy death before him, by saying that, "just as a man ought to do nothing because of death, so also he ought to leave nothing undone because of death."
In May, 1804, Schleiermacher was appointed preacher to the University at Halle, and professor extraordinarius of theology. In the interval of comparative leisure, before turning his steps southward, he paid a short visit to Willich, now settled at Stralsund; and in Rügen, where they had first met, was introduced to Willich's betrothed bride, Henriette von Mühlenfels, a charming and beautiful girl of sixteen, then living in the house of her married sister, Charlotte von Kathen. Schleiermacher entered with joyful sympathy into their happiness. Ho and the young bride forthwith adopted each other as father and daughter, and from that time there was a frequent interchange of letters overflowing with affection on both sides. In October he was settled at Halle, and there, in H. Steffens, professor of natural philosophy, he found another friend in whose companionship he took great delight. He writes about him: "Steffens profound and inexhaustible mind, joined to his childlike and amiable nature, so susceptible of every generous emotion, gives me new pleasure every time I spend a few hours with him." And again: "Never have I with such sincerity of heart placed another man as high above myself in every respect as I do this one, whom, were it seemly between man and man, I could almost adore. . . . The man is altogether so indescribably attractive -- as deep, as spontaneous and as witty as Friedrich Schlegel at his best." And so on, with much more in the same strain. And the feeling was thoroughly reciprocated.
In speaking of a night spent together on a pedestrian excursion, Steffens says: "This night will be to me ever memorable. . . . Never did Schleiermacher seem to me intellectually greater, morally purer. Even to this day that night appears to me one of the most remarkable of my life, as if sanctified. . . . I have a testimony of the impression this night made upon him, in a letter to his dear friend Mrs. Herz. It was the reflection of his own purity that made me appear to him in a glorified light during these truly holy hours. Never did the deep religiosity of his morality strike me more forcibly. The Saviour was with us, as He has promised to be when two or three are gathered together in His name.'"
The following Easter Schleiermacher made the visit to Barby which has already been referred to; and later in the summer took another little tour, in the course of which he visited his dear Lotte, and made acquaintance for the first time with his younger half-sister, Nanni, whom he brought with him to Halle, thus making for himself, at last, a little home. One very characteristic passage in his account of the pedestrian portion of this tour may be quoted. "Our longest and most interesting day's journey I went through under intense suffering from cramps in the stomach; yet I did not give in, or allow the state of my health to cause us one hour's delay, nor did the difficulties and sufferings in any way impair my enjoyment, and now they seem as nothing compared with the glorious and lasting impression which the sight of nature in its sublimity has made upon me."
And now, October, 1805, occurred the crisis which Schleiermacher regarded as an unspeakable calamity, but which was in reality a merciful deliverance from a great evil. Eleanore seemed to have decided on the final step. Schleiermacher writes to the Willichs of visiting them again, and adds his hope that it may be "with the excellent Eleanore," "the best loved of all my belongings."
She had gone to the house of her brother, who had under taken to conduct the business of the divorce, the husband had given his consent, when Eleanore was suddenly overcome by scruples of conscience, and returned to her husband's house, and all communication between her and Schleiermacher was thenceforward at an end.
It came upon him as a crushing, heart-sickening blow; he spoke of it as having destroyed his life and made it utterly worthless; but he lived to take a wiser and sounder view of the position, and to thank, God who had reserved some better thing for him.
But neither sorrow nor any other personal interest was allowed to hinder his work. His influence extended rapidly, especially among the students. He devoted an evening weekly to receiving in his house any of them who chose to come, and of this plan he says, "I do not know which party gains most, the young people or myself."
In the beginning of 1806 he published anonymously the Christmas Festival, a delightful little book in the form of a dialogue, in which he introduces several of his friends -- Henriette von Willich, with her baby daughter; her sister, Charlotte von Kathen, with her sick child, and others. The book is pervaded with earnest Christi an feeling, and bears on the condition of the country in consequence of the French invasion. For now the troubles of war were pressing heavily; and when, in October, the battle of Jena threw Prussia for the time entirely under the heel of the conqueror, the University was suppressed, the students dispersed, and Schleiermacher's professional occupation was gone. He writes to his friend Reimer an account of the pillage of the town by the French, humorously describing his own part in it, in which he and Steffens were deprived of their watches, besides "all my shirts, with the exception of five, and all the silver spoons, with the exception of two." After this he and Nanni united their housekeeping with Steffens and his family; a measure which he says "was imperative, for I had only very little money, which I had borrowed, and Steffens had none at all." And thus they economized fuel and light as well as other items, though Nanni did not enjoy it, as what housekeeper would? But he still held to his post, in hope of better times for the University, and exerted all his influence, which was not small, to stir up a true and noble patriotism and a spirit of determined resistance in defence of all that the nation held dear. A few extracts from his letters during this stirring time may be given.
"Would you desire to be spared any danger, any suffering, at the cost of the conviction of having delivered over future generations to base servitude, and of having exposed them to be inoculated with the despicable sentiments of an utterly corrupted people? Believe me, sooner or later, a great and universal struggle must ensue, the objects of which will be as much our sentiments, our religion, and our mental culture, as our outward liberty and worldly goods, . . . a struggle which will unite sovereigns and people by a more beautiful bond than has existed for centuries." "The general demoralization is fearful; on all sides yawning abysses of infamy and cowardice stare you in the face. Only a few, and fore most among these the king and the queen, form glorious exceptions." "The rod of wrath must fall upon every German land; only on this condition can a strong and happy future bloom forth. Happy they who live to see it; but they who die, let them die in faith." "I have no fear, except, sometimes, of a dishonourable peace, which may save the appearance -- but only the appearance -- of a national existence and freedom. But even in regard to this I feel tranquil; for if the nations submit to it, it will prove that they are not yet ripe for better things; and the severer visitations, amid which they are to mature, will not fail soon to fall upon them." "The king alone, in his steadfastness, it is gratifying to behold; and I trust, now that he has got over the capture of his capital and the surrender of his fortresses without suing for peace, he will not think of separating his fate from that of the rest of Europe. . . . The conflict must become wider and deeper, if new life and prosperity are to rise out of the universal desolation."
In the following spring, February, 1807, during the siege of Stralsund, young Willich, who had refused to desert his flock, was smitten by a fever that raged in the town, and died after a week's illness. The poor young wife, still only nineteen, turned in her desolation to her "dear father, Schleier," for comfort; and few real fathers could have entered more fully into the sorrows of a stricken child. Henriette returned to Rügen, to be near her relatives, and during the unsettled, troublous times that followed, Schleiermacher maintained a steady correspondence with her and her sister, so far as the distracted state of the country permitted. He lingered in Halle until the winter, in the hope that the University might be restored; but when, in December, prayers were ordered in the churches for Jerome Bonaparte and his wife as king and queen of Westphalia, it was more than his patriotic spirit could brook, and he betook himself to Berlin, to preach and to lecture in the meantime as he might find opportunity.
Once more, in the following summer, Schleiermacher found his way to Rügen. In personal intercourse, his fatherly affection for Henriette easily and naturally developed into a deeper and warmer feeling, and he carried back with him to Berlin her promise to be his wife when more settled times should come.
Early in 1809 he was appointed pastor of Trinity Church in Berlin, and when, in May, he brought home his bride with her two little children, he felt that his happiness was complete. Even in his much younger days he had delighted in studying family life, and often spoke of it as man's most perfect state; and now he wrote to his old friend Mrs. Herz: "I have taught so much about the beauty and holiness of family life that I ought to have an opportunity of showing that what I have taught has been to me more than empty words, and that the doctrine has in truth sprung from my deepest feelings and from my inward energy." And though he was nearly twenty years older than his Jette, nowhere could he have found a wife more thoroughly suited for him. Thoughtful and intelligent, she grew and developed in contact with his strong nature, while yet retaining her individual character; and their deep, mutual love only deepened through the years until the end. And when, in addition to the two little ones whom he had so fully taken to his fatherly heart, children of his own came to make it a complete family, his cup of joy overflowed. Now at last he had found a sphere in which his rich nature and his great intellect had full scope. His genial, loving, social disposition made him the centre of a wide and ever-increasing circle of warmly attached friends of all classes. He went much into society, and received much at home; not merely because of his unceasing delight in intercourse with his fellows, but because he believed that intimate personal association was the most effective medium of influence for good. And in this he seems to have judged correctly; for those who knew him agree in their testimony that great as was the effect of his written works, and still greater that of his preaching, it was the whole living personality of the man that told most powerfully on all who came in contact with him.
In 1810, when the University of Berlin was re-constituted, with Fichte as rector, Schleiermacher was called to a chair of theology, and the next year became Secretary to the Academy of Science. One public office after another was thrust upon him; while preaching, writing and lecturing went on with unabated diligence. It fatigues the mind even to read the list of the subjects on which he lectured: New Testament exegesis; introduction to and interpretation of the New Testament, ethics, both philosophic and Christian, dogmatic and practical theology, church history, history of philosophy, psychology, dialectics (logic and metaphysics), politics, pedagogy and aesthetics. His preaching drew in creasing crowds, not only of the more intellectual classes, but from among the poor and uneducated, who found that they received in it food for the hunger of their hearts, guidance from Scripture for the practical affairs of daily life, and comfort in its sorrows.
It has already been said that Schleiermacher considered all sermons, and his own more especially, as intended only to be heard, not read. The specialty in his own case arose from the fact that his sermons were never written; all his published discourses being printed from notes taken during delivery. They were very deeply thought out; but a few very brief notes were all that he committed to paper; leaving his already well-defined thoughts to take shape as his feelings warmed with his theme and took a special tone from the sympathetic reflex influence of the people assembled before him. This habit of speaking without previous arrangement, with the wealth of ideas that would flow in upon him -- one thought suggesting still another -- probably accounts in part for the strange, often obscure style of his sermons -- the long, involved sentences, reaching occasionally the fearful length of a page and a half; sentences in which, however, one of his constant hearers says he never lost his way (which is much more than can be said of all his readers), and in which he always arrived with certainty at the right conclusion. His friend Wilhelm von Humboldt says of him: "Those who may have read his numerous writings ever so diligently, but who have never heard him speak, must, nevertheless, remain unacquainted with the most rare power and the most remarkable qualities of the man. His strength lay in the deeply penetrative character of his words, when preaching or engaged in any other of his ecclesiastical functions. It would be wrong to call it rhetoric, for it was so entirely free from art. It was the persuasive, penetrative, kindling effusion of a feeling, which seemed not so much to be enlightened by one of the rarest intellects as to move side by side with it in perfect unison." A recent writer says of his eloquence, that it was almost as golden as that of Plato; and a short German notice of him gives the much more valuable testimony, that by his preaching thousands were won to the Saviour. Another criticism from Ami el may here be quoted. u While some shock me by their sacerdotal dogmatism, others repel me by their rationalizing laicism. It seems to me that good preaching ought to combine, as Schleiermacher's did, perfect moral humility with energetic independence of thought; a profound sense of sin with respect for criticism and a passion for truth."
In the pulpit as elsewhere, Schleiermacher was, during those troubled times, a fearless patriot, and laboured unceasingly, in conjunction with Fichte and other noble-hearted men, to arouse in the people a true spirit of freedom, that should lead them to unite in casting off the foreign yoke; his friend Moritz Arndt, who had been obliged, after the battle of Jena, to flee from the wrath of Napoleon, but had now returned, greatly aiding the cause by his stirring patriot songs, especially the one, popular wherever the German language is spoken, "What is the German's Fatherland?"
Schleiermacher's second collection of sermons, published in 1808, twelve in number, all bear on the special circum stances of the country. Eight of them were preached in Halle, and the rest in Berlin. In his preface to them he says: "May this work contribute something to effect what we so greatly need, to arouse and animate pious courage and true desire for thorough improvement, and to make it clear whence alone true prosperity can come to us, and how each one must help towards it."
When at length, in the spring of 1813, Europe began to feel that she had had "enough of Bonaparte"; when Prussia at last aroused herself to cast off her humiliating chains; Schleiermacher felt that Berlin was no longer a safe place for his most precious treasures, and sent his wife and children for some weeks into Silesia, remaining himself, and taking an active part in all the exciting events of those stormy days. He writes to his wife, "As for regular study, that is not to be thought of till the immediate crisis is over. I am continuing my lectures, but I believe I am the only professor who does so." The danger to Berlin, however, blew over; and he was able again to gather his little flock around him. Among the sermons in this volume is one preached at the calling out of the Landwehr in that eventful year; and we transcribe a part of Bishop Eilert's eloquent account of one which does not appear in the published collection.
"The students of the University and the gymnasium, who were about to start for Breslau as volunteers, in uniform and armed, had in a body requested Schleiermacher to deliver a sermon and administer the sacrament to them immediately before their departure, thus to consecrate them for their holy undertaking. Their firearms were piled in front or rested against the walls of the church of the Holy Trinity. The beautiful old hymn, In all my acts,' sung with heartfelt effusion, had attuned the minds of the congregation to the proper pitch of solemnity. After having pronounced a short prayer, full of unction, Schleiermacher went up into the pulpit. . . . There, in this holy place, and at this solemn hour, stood the physically so small and insignificant man, his noble countenance beaming with intellect, and his clear, sonorous, penetrating voice ringing through the overflowing church. Speaking from his heart with pious enthusiasm, his every word penetrated to the heart, and the clear, full, mighty stream of his eloquence carried every one along with it. His bold, frank declaration of the causes of our deep fall, his severe denunciation of our actual defects, as evinced in the narrow-hearted spirit of caste, of proud aristocratism, and in the dead forms of bureaucratism, struck down like thunder and lightning, and the subsequent elevation of the heart to God on the wings of solemn devotion was like harp-tones from a higher world. . . . And when, at last, with the full fire of enthusiasm, he addressed the noble youths already equipped for battle, and next, turning to their mothers, the greater number of whom were present, he concluded with the words, Blessed is the womb that has borne such a son! blessed the breast that has nourished such a babe!' a thrill of deep emotion ran through the assembly, and amid loud sobs and weeping, Schleiermacher pronounced the closing Amen."
When the country was once more restored to freedom, Schleiermacher shared the experience of many another public-spirited man who has cared more for his country's real welfare than for his own advancement. The men who had stirred the people to assert their liberties against a foreign tyrant were regarded with suspicion by the government, as being equally likely to encourage resistance to an undue exercise of power on the part of their lawful ruler. Fichte's pure, beautiful life had already closed, during the war, at the comparatively early age of fifty-one, stricken down by hospital fever caught from his wife, who, with loving devotion, nursed the war-patients for five months, and all but fell a victim as well as her husband. But Arndt and many others of the leading patriots were deprived of office or suspended, and Schleiermacher himself, often in danger of dismissal, probably escaped only because the authorities feared to deprive the city of so bright an ornament, and of a teacher so greatly beloved. Those things did not greatly disturb his equanimity. He calmly and earnestly went on with his work, enjoying the society of his friends, at perfect rest in his happy home circle, and often recruiting health and spirits by a summer tour, sometimes with wife and children, sometimes alone, or in the company of a congenial friend. In 1817 a little change took place in his household. Nanni, who had continued to live with him after his marriage, became the wife of Arndt, and her place was supplied by his own sister Charlotte, the gentle play fellow of his childhood, and his life-long trusted friend, who at last left her retreat among the Brethren to spend the evening of her days beside her beloved Fritz.
It was for Schleiermacher one of the penalties of greatness that his far-seeing wisdom, which made him so much in advance of his age, and his outspoken boldness in stating his independent opinions, compelled him, notwithstanding his peaceable and loving disposition, to be a man of war for the greater part of his life. In the question of proposed Church Reform, he declared that it was vain to attempt to improve the constitution of the clergy if the reform were not founded on a well-organized Christian presbyterian system, with extensive assemblies of elders chosen by the community; just as a truly free state-constitution is based on a free and living communal system.
In the great question of the union of the Reformed and Lutheran Churches he also took a very prominent part. The leading opponent of the union was Claus Harms of Kiel, who, in the beginning of his career, had owed so much to Schleiermacher's Discourses. He held that such a union would be an apostasy, not only from Lutheranism, but from Christianity. But Schleiermacher, with deeper insight, pointed out that none of the Reformers had created a new thing; that they had only cleared the old, pure doctrine from the rubbish with which it had been overlaid, and that therefore the work of the Reformation was not to found a Lutheran Church, nor a Reformed Church, "but to bring forth in renewed glory the Evangelical Church, which is guided and governed by its founder, Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, . . . the quickening centre of the Church."
From his letters during a holiday tour in 1818, we give a few short extracts:
"The cathedral (Prague) is a noble, but unfinished edifice, in Gothic style; . . . beneath it the history of Bohemia lies interred. . . . The people seem to be quite indifferent to all the beautiful monuments that surround them, and to all the great memories that are attached to them, and appear to be utterly unconscious that, with their Protestantism and their religious liberty, they lost all their dignity. . . . I was actually seized with a shudder -- a religious shudder -- at the sight of the immense Jesuit college, and with a political shudder at the equally gigantic palace of Wallenstein. But what shall I say of the ruinous state of churches and convents? Protestantism has been wrenched from the people with unheard-of cruelty, but Catholicism they cannot prevent from rotting among them." "We received a visit from a Catholic ecclesiastic, who pleased me so much, that we parted from each other with a brotherly kiss and with tearful eyes." [Munich] "Old Jacobi was actually moved on seeing me. We endeavoured to come to an understanding relative to our views, but we got no further than to under stand wherein the difference between us consists; and he always listened to me very good-naturedly when I told him that I thought his great mistake was that he confounded this difference with another."
Schleiermacher's family at this time consisted of two daughters of his own and an adopted daughter, besides the young Von Willichs; and in 1820 his joy received its crown in the birth of a son. He writes to his sister-in-law announcing the event, and says: "This time I had not felt so strong a wish that it should be a boy as on former occasions. I was too much penetrated by the feeling that we do not know what we wish for, more especially in the present times. But when it proved to be a boy, you may conceive with what joy and thankfulness I received him, and that my first prayer to God was, to be inspired with wisdom and power from above to educate the child to His glory."
It was, alas! but a short time that the training of the boy was left in his hands.
In 1821 Schleiermacher published what is considered his chief theological work, The Christian Faith systematically presented according to the fundamental Propositions of the Evangelical Church, familiarly known as the Glaubenslehre. "The fundamental principle of this classical work" (we here quote from the Encyclopaedia Britannica) "is that religious feeling, the sense of absolute dependence on God, as communicated by Jesus Christ through the Church, and not the creeds, or the letter of Scripture, or the rationalistic under standing, is the source and law of dogmatic theology. It is therefore simply a description of the facts of religious feeling, or of the inner life of the soul in its relation to God, and these inward facts looked at in the various stages of their development, and presented in their inner connection. It aims . . . to put an end to the unreason and superficiality of both supernaturalism and rationalism, and to deliver theology from dependence on ever-changing systems of philosophy."
This great work caused him fresh troubles, by arousing the bitter opposition of those whose systems he attacked. He also incurred anew the ill-will and suspicion of the government by his boldly contending for the right of the Church to frame her own liturgy, without the dictation of the king and his ministers. In 1824 he writes to Charlotte von Kathen: "My outward position is very precarious, perhaps more so than ever. The suspicions of demagogical tendencies in regard to me have, I trust, been allayed; but the ecclesiastical questions must soon be brought to a head, and should the result be violent measures, I must infallibly be one of the first victims. I cannot say that I am alarmed, or that in itself the thought of this troubles me; for in regard to these matters I know that I have done nothing but what t was bound to do; and I almost think I may say, also, that I have done all that I ought to do."
And again, in 1827, to the same friend: "When you hear how constantly I am engaged in conflicts which I can not avoid without doing violence to my conscience, you will, I am sure, feel sorry that the last part of my life should be spent amid so much turmoil, and that I should be obliged to waste so much time on these matters, which, according to all appearance, might be used to much better purpose. However, I do not repine, but think, on the contrary, that it is all for the best; and when my book of life is made up, I shall have greater reason for thankfulness than most people. From what I have heard from several quarters, things seem this time to have been very near coming to a crisis. As for myself, I rarely know how these matters stand, and generally do not hear the worst until it has blown over. May it ever remain so; for it is my endeavour to do nothing that I may have to repent of after wards, and for the rest I leave the result to God."
In the autumn of 1827 Schleiermacher and his wife took a journey into Galicia to bring home a second adopted daughter, a little child of Nanni's sister, who had died there, leaving a young family. Thus in almost continual outward strife, but in home happiness and heart peace, the years sped on.
Schleiermacher's only visit to England, a very short one, occurred in 1828. His companion on this journey was Alexander von Forstner, son-in-law of Charlotte von Kathen. On the way they spent a few days at Bonn with Nanni and her husband; and in a letter to his wife, Schleiermacher gives a pretty picture of Nanni's little flock of five, one of whom "said a little prayer in the true Arndt style." Arndt had been, so early as 1819, suspended from his professorship on a charge of "demagogic movements," though allowed to retain his salary. It was not till 1840 that he was restored, when he was already above seventy. The brave old patriot lived to be ninety-one, and only died in 1860. Schleiermacher preached once in London, at the re-opening of the church of the Savoy.
In the following year a heart-breaking sorrow came upon him in the death of his only son, his little Nathanael, who was taken from him after a short illness, when only nine years old. The blow, he said, drove the nails into his own coffin; yet, with his wonted self-control, he would not allow his grief to hinder his work. He had delighted in helping the child with his lessons for the gymnasium, and having his bright companionship in his study; but on the very day of his funeral the mourning father took up again the burden of his daily duties, and "life," he says, "goes on in its old grooves, but more slowly and more heavily." His discourse at the child's funeral, included in the present selection, is considered one of his finest.
The king seemed at last to become aware that it was possible for thorough devotion to the liberties of the people to exist in perfect harmony with utter fidelity to the sovereign, and in 1831 he conferred on Schleiermacher the Order of the Red Eagle, an honour which was valuable to him only as an assurance of the restored favour and confidence of the king. In the same year his faithful Lotte was taken to her rest. She had in her last days retired to the house of the Brethren in the city, to secure the quiet that had become desirable in her feeble state.
Schleiermacher's habitual feeling towards his opponents may be understood from the following extract.
"Amid the various conflicts which I am necessarily exposed to in my career, and amid the numerous misunderstandings of the extreme parties on both sides, through which I am obliged to wind my way, it is ever a great encouragement to me when I discover even a faint glimmer that leads me to think that we hold the same goal in view, and are labouring for the same end. . . . Thus at least I learn to unite, quietly within myself, with many who believe themselves far distant from me, and herein dwells a peculiar life-giving energy." He only grieved that profitless controversy inevitably consumed so much precious time, which he would gladly have used in more pleasant and lasting work.
In the midst of his other labours he took time to write to his step-son, Ehrenfried von Willich, wise and most loving counsels as to his studies, his companionships, and the future direction of his life. This young man obtained in 1831 a government appointment at Aix-la-Chapelle. To him the mother sends a pleasant picture of Schleiermacher in holiday guise. "I shall never forget the impression it made upon me to see dear father in his blue blouse, with his silvery white hair, as lively and youthful as a young lad about to wander forth into the world for the first time, giving a parting word to all, who pressed round him with joyful emotion."
One other extract from the mother's letters shows us a pleasant part of the family life. "Our Wednesday receptions are very much frequented, so that we cannot be said to live in great retirement. . . . The Wednesday evenings are often rendered doubly cheerful by a great number of young people. The circle of young maidens in our house is a spectacle which gladdens many hearts; and how this fresh and youthful circle gathered round your father embellishes and sweetens his old age, you will readily conceive."
In the summer of 1833 Schleiermacher went, in company with his friend Count Schwerin, of Putzar, in Pornerania, on a tour which he said would be his last, "with the exception of the long one," through Sweden, Norway and Denmark. His home letters during this journey are marked by a deepened tenderness, and still more, as we are assured by the translator of his letters, by the absence of every indication of the fact that his progress through the northern kingdoms was a continual ovation; his arrival in Copenhagen being hailed with the greatest enthusiasm, professors, students and distinguished men joining to honour him by a public banquet, winding up with a torchlight procession.
His last letter was written January 30th, 1834, to Ehrenfried von Willich. In it he speaks of the happy prospect of having all the children assembled in May to celebrate the silver wedding of the parents, refers to arrangements for the approaching marriage of one of the girls to the son of Count Schwerin, playfully enlarges on the wonderful accomplishments of the first grandchild, probably the child of Ehrenfried's sister; and closes by saying he has been for three days confined to the house by a cough and hoarseness, but hopes to resume his usual work on the morrow. But his ailment suddenly developed inflammation of the lungs, and after a week of intense suffering, the great, brave, tender spirit passed away. His wife, in her notes of that week, relates that after the death film had already overspread his eyes, and his whole aspect was that of death, he suddenly raised himself, and in a clear and strong voice spoke out, "I have never clung to the dead letter; and we have the atoning death of Jesus Christ, His body and blood." He then desired the things necessary for Communion to be quickly brought, and after solemn prayer, administered it to each of those present, while an expression of heavenly rapture spread over his features, and a strange lustre shone in his eyes. Finally he himself partook, adding, "On these words of the Scripture I rely; they are the foundation of my faith;" and after pronouncing the blessing, sank back on his pillow with a farewell word and look of love, and in a few minutes breathed his last, February 12th, 1834.
The sensation his death caused in Berlin, and indeed throughout Germany, was indescribable. The honour which had so often been withheld from him by prejudice and jealousy during his life was abundantly accorded to him in death. The carriages of the king and the crown prince were the foremost of a hundred that formed his funeral procession, thirty-six of the students who loved and revered him as a father shared the privilege of bearing his coffin to the grave, and the streets and the cemetery were thronged with weeping thousands, mourning for a teacher and a friend whose like they might never see again.