Lady Harriet Jephson

Altheim_GermanyOur passports are now in the hands of the military authorities at Frankfort, and Mr. Ives, the American Vice-Consul, is doing all in his power to get us leave to go. The Superintendent of the Inhalatorium is most kind and sympathetic. She inquired why I had not been there for three days, and when I told her “Gar kein Geld” (no money) was the cause, she cried with real feeling, “Schrecklich!” (terrible). Any thing to do with money or the want of it appeals to the Teutonic mind, although the Germans sneer at us for being a nation of shopkeepers. There are two words we hope never to hear again, “Kultur” and “Unser.” “Unser Deutschland,” “Unser Kaiser,” “Unser Kultur.” How weary and trite are these! What an extraordinary mixture the Germans are, brave, conceited, sentimental, prosaic, patriotic, and yet no people so soon lose their national characteristics, and become citizens of another country as Germans. Many of their intellectual poses are absolutely morbid. They adore Ibsen as a playwright and despise Goldsmith and Sheridan; they worship Gauguin, and the school of Impressionists, and have little appreciation nowadays for pre-Raphaelitism. They are intensely and truly musical, and it is amazing, taking into consideration their extraordinary lack of humour, that they should be such accomplished students of Shakespeare, but of real wit or humour the German possesses not an atom. Take, for instance, the modern novels of Suderman, of Rudolph Herzog, of Rudolph Stratz, of Bernard Kellerman, of Paul Heyse, and you will find intense seriousness, tragedy, pathos, masterly drawing of character, and absolutely no fun from cover to cover. As for the “Fliegende Blätter,” the German “Punch,” it is the sickliest imitation of humour possible to conceive. Foremost in science, the German is yet a neophyte in the graces and arts of life. What cooking! what clothes!

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