Friedrich Nietzsche, The Wanderer and His Shadow (Der Wanderer und sein Schatten).

The Wanderer and his Shadow, the second supplement to Human, All Too Human, first published in 1880.


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Herder.  Herder fails to be all that he made people think he was and himself wished to think he was.  He was no great thinker or discoverer, no newly fertile soil with the unexhausted strength of a virgin forest.  But he possessed in the highest degree the power of scenting the future, he saw and picked the first fruits of the seasons earlier than all others, and they then believed that he had made them grow.  Between darkness and light, youth and age, his mind was like a hunter on the watch, looking everywhere for transitions, depressions, convulsions, the outward and visible signs of internal growth.  The unrest of spring drove him to and fro, but he was himself not the spring.  At times, indeed, he had some inkling of this, and yet would fain not have believed it — he, the ambitious priest, who would have so gladly been the intellectual pope of his epoch!  This is his despair.  He seems to have lived long as a pretender to several kingdoms or even to a universal monarchy.  He had his following which believed in him, among others the young Goethe.  But whenever crowns were really distributed, he was passed over.  Kant, Goethe, and then the first true German historians and scholars robbed him of what he thought he had reserved for himself (although in silence and secret he often thought the reverse).  Just when he doubted in himself, he gladly clothed himself in dignity and enthusiasm: these were often in him mere garments, which had to hide a great deal and also to deceive and comfort him.  He really had fire and enthusiasm, but his ambition was far greater!  It blew impatiently at the fire, which flickered, crackled, and smoked — his style flickers, crackles, and smokes — but he yearned for the great flame which never broke out.  He did not sit at the table of the genuine creators, and his ambition did not admit of his sitting modestly among those who simply enjoy.  Thus he was a restless spirit, the taster of all intellectual dishes, which were collected by the Germans from every quarter and every age in the course of half a century.  Never really happy and satisfied, Herder was also too often ill, and then at times envy sat by his bed, and hypocrisy paid her visit as well.  He always had an air of being scarred and crippled, and he lacked simple, stalwart manliness more completely than any of the so called "classical writers”.  

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