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GUSTAV FREYTAG

(1816-1895)

REYTAG's Pictures of German Life » is a valuable collection

of historical and philosophical studies, much more thorough

than the public might have expected from one whose habits as a novelist, dramatist, and poet, tended perhaps to foster the inventive faculty at the expense of industry in research. But Freytag was no less fond of antiquarian investigation than Sir Walter Scott, with whom, remarkably enough, he shared a marked fondness for the Devil as a subject for discussion. Freytag was born at Kreuzburg, Silesia, July 13th, 1816. His first notable work was as a dramatist and poet. His celebrated novel, Debit and Credit,” was published in 1855 in three volumes. Its fortieth edition appeared in 1895. (The Lost Manuscript,” «Ancestors,” and “kecollections of My Life” are among his later works. He died at Wiesbaden, April 30th, 1895.

THE DEVIL'S DOINGS IN THE MIDDLE AGES

The phantasies of the human mind have also a history; they 1 form and develop themselves with the character of a peo

ple whilst they influence it. In the century of the Ref. ormation, these phantasies had more weight than most earthly realities. It is the dark side of German development which we there see, and to it is due the last place in the characteristic features of the period of the Reformation.

In the most ancient of the Jewish records there is no mention of the devil except in the book of Job; but at the time of Christ, Satan was considered by the Jews as the great tempter of mankind, and as having the power to enter into men and animals, out of which he could be driven by the invocations of pious men. The people estimated the power of their teachers by the authority that they exercised over the devil. When the Christian faith spread over the Western Empire, the Greek and Roman gods were looked upon as allies of the devil, and the superstition of many who yet clung to the later worship of Rome made the devil the centre of their mythology.

But the conceptions which the Fathers of the Church had of the person and power of the devil were still more changed when the German tribe overthrew the government of the Roman Empire and adopted Christianity. In doing so this family of people did not lose the fullness of their own life, the highest manifestation of which was their old mythology. It is true that the names of the old gods gradually died away; what was obviously contrary to the new faith was at last set aside by the zeal of the priests by force and by pious artifices; but innumerable familiar shapes and figures, customs and ideas were kept alive, nay, they not only were kept alive, but they entwined themselves in a peculiar manner with Christianity. As Christian churches were erected on the very spots where the heathen worship had been held, and as the figure of the crucified Savior, or the name of an apostle was attached to sacred piaces like Donar's oak; thus the Christian saints and their traditions took the place of the old gods. The people transferred their recollections of their ancient heathen deities to the saints and apostles of the Church, and even to Christ himself, and as there was a realm in their mythology which was ruled by the mysterious powers of darkness, this was assigned to the devil. The name Devil, derived from the Greek (diabolos), was changed into Fol, from the northern god Voland; his ravens and the raging nightly host were transferred to him from Wuotan, his hammer from Donar; but his black color, his wolf's or goat's form, his grandmother, the chains wherewith he was bound, and many other traditions, he inherited from the evil powers of heathendom which had ever been inimical to the benevolent ruling gods. These powerful demons, amongst whom was the dark god of Death, belonged, according to the heathen mythology, to the primeval race of giants, which, as long as the world lasted, were to wage a deadly struggle with the powers of light. They formed a dark realm of shapeless primordial powers, where the deepest science of magic was cultivated. To them belonged the sea serpent, which coiled round the earth in mighty circles, lay at the bottom of the ocean, the giant wolves which lay fettered in the interior of the earth or pursued the sun and moon, by which, at the last day, they were to be destroyed; the ice demons which from the north sent over the land snowstorms and devastating floods; and worse than all, the fiendish Hela, goddess of the Dead. Be. sides the worship of the Asengotter, there was in heathen Germany a gloomy service for these demons, and we learn from early Christian witnesses that even before the introduction of Christianity, the priestesses and sorcerers of these dark deities were feared and hated. They were able by their incantations to the goddess of Death to bring storms upon the cornfields and to destroy the cattle, and it was probably they who were supposed to make the bodies and weapons of warriors invulnerable. They carried on this worship by night, and sacrificed mysterious animals to the goddess of Death and to the race of giants. It was these priestesses more especially — so at least we may conclude — who, as Hazusen or Hegissen, or Hexen (witches), were handed down by tradition to a late period in the Middle Ages.

The remembrance of these heathen beings became mixed with a wild chaos of foreign superstitions, which had been brought from all the nations of antiquity into heathen Rome, that great nursery of every superstition, and from that ancient world had penetrated into Christianity. The Strigen and Lamien, evil spirits of ancient Rome, which like vampires consumed the inward life of men, sorceresses who flew through the air, and assembled nightly to celebrate disgraceful orgies, were also handed down to the Germans, who mingled them with similar conceptions, having perhaps a like origin. It is not always possible to discover which of these notions were originally German or which were derived from other nations.

The Western Church in the beginning of the Middle Ages kept itself pure from this chaos of gloomy conceptions; it condemned them as devilish, but punished them on the whole with mildness and humanity, when they did not lead to social crimes. But when the Church itself was frozen into the rigidity of a hierarchical system, when strong hearts were driven into heresy by the worldly claims of the papacy, and the people became degraded under the domination of begging monks, these superstitions gradually produced in the Church a narrow-minded system. Whatever was considered to be connected with the devil was put an end to by bloody persecution. After the thirteenth century, about the period when great masses of the people poured into the Slav countries from the interior of Germany, fanatical monks disseminated the odious notion that the devil, as ruler of the witches, held intercourse with them at nightly meetings, and that there was a formal ritual for the worship of Satan, by accursed men and women, who had abjured the Christian faith; and for this a countless number of suspected persons, in France, in the first instance, were punished with torture and the stake, by delegated inquisitors. In Germany itself, these persecutions of the devil's associates first became prevalent after the funeral pile of Huss. The more vehement the opposition of reason to these persecutions, the more violent became the fury of the Church. After the fatal bull of Innocent VIII., from the year 1484, the burning of witches in masses began to a great extent in Germany, and continued, with some interruptions, till late in the eighteenth century. Whoever owned to being a witch was considered forever doomed to hell, and the Church hardly made an effort to convert them.

According to popular belief, the connection of man with the devil was of three kinds. Either they renounced the worship of God for that of the devil, swearing allegiance to him, and doing him homage, like the witches and their associates; or they were possessed by him, a belief derived by the Germans from Holy Scripture; or men might conclude a compact with the devil binding both parties under mutual obligations. In the latter case men signed away their souls in a deed written with their own blood, and in return the devil was to grant to them the fulfillment of all their wishes upon earth, success, money, and invulnerability. Although the oldest example known is that of the Roman Theophilus — a tradition of the sixth century — and although the written compact originated at a time when the Roman forms of law had been introduced among the Western nations, yet it appears that the source of this tradition concerning the devil was German. These transactions were based upon a deep feeling of mutual moral obligation, and on a foolhardy feeling, which liked to rest the decision of the whole of the future upon the deed of a moment. There is much similarity between the German who in gambling stakes his freedom on the throw of the dice, and he who vows his soul to the devil. These alliances were not looked upon by the old Church with mortal hatred; these wicked and foolhardy beings, like Theophilus himself, might be saved by the intercession of the saints, and the devil compelled to give up his rights. It is also peculiar to German traditions, that the devil endeavors to fulfill zealously and honestly his part of the compact; the deceiver is man. From «Pictures of German Life in the Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and Seventeenth

Centuries.”

FRIEDRICH FRÖBEL

(1782-1852)

GIAORIEDRICH WILHELM AUGUST FRÖBEL, one of the world's greatest

civilizers and benefactors, was born at Oberweissbach, in the

Thuringian forest of Germany, April 21st, 1782. The century into which he came to make his remote birthplace memorable as one of the “Meccas of the Mind” was favorable to his education. The advantage the eighteenth century in its last quarter offered for the education of an active intellect was the vigor and aggressiveness of the spirit in which Condorcet, when a fugitive from the Terrorists of Paris, with the certainty of death at hand, wrote calmly of peace and good-will as modes of infinite progress for individuals and for society. To the extent to which Rousseau and his disciples really represented this spirit, they prepared the way for Pestalozzi, Fröbel, and Father Jahn,- the greatest of whom was Fröbel. At Jena, where he went at the age of seventeen, it is said that he was already mastered by the governing idea of his life,- that knowledge of the unity underlying all diversities of nature which had first taken hold on him while as a forester's apprentice he studied nature in the depths of the Thuringian woods,

« In allem wirkt und schafft ein Leben

Weil das Leben in allein ein'ger Gott gegeben.»

This is his own expression of his controlling thought and it has been translated as “All has come forth from the divine,- from God,- and is through God alone conditioned.” This is accurate enough, but perhaps Fröbel himself might have preferred to the metaphysical definition the rhyme,

«One Life is working, building!-giving
The world the life that God is living. »

This is the idea which made it possible for Goethe to write “Faust.» When evil in the person of Mephistopheles, the spirit of Negation, appears in heaven, his presence there and the power that he asks and obtains to tempt Faust, are made the means of impressing on the mind of the reader the same thought Fröbel had had impressed on him by the myriad nature-forms of unity in diversity he saw in

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