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This is all clear enough; but it is quite conceivable that a misunderstanding of it might lead to the most perverted notions of what Nietzsche actually stood for, and when I hear people inveighing against the so-called egoism of his teaching, and declaring it poisonous on that account, I often wonder whether they have really made any attempt at all to comprehend the above passage, and whether there is not perhaps something wrong with language itself, that a thought which to some seems expressed so clearly and unmistakably, should still prove confusing and incomprehensible to others.

Speaking once more to higher men, then, Nietzsche tells them, with some reason on his side, that altruism may be their greatest danger, that altruism may be even their greatest temptation, that there are times when they must avoid it as they would avoid a plague. In periods of gestation, when plans and dreams of plans for the elevation of themselves and their fellows are taking shape in their minds, altruism may lure them sideways, it may make them diverge from their path, and it may make mankind one great thought the poorer. In this sense, and in this sense alone, does our author deprecate the altruistic virtues; but, again, I venture to remind readers that it is the simplest thing on earth to awaken suspicion against him by declaring, as some have declared, that his deprecation of altruism applies to all.

No greater nonsense could be talked about Nietzsche than to say that he preached universal egoism. Universal egoism as opposed to select egoism is behind all the noisiest movements to-day—it is behind Socialism, Democracy, Anarchy, and Nihilism—but it is not behind Nietzscheism, and nobody who reads him with care could ever think so.

With these observations in mind, we can read the following passages from Thus Spake Zarathustra without either surprise or indignation; indeed we may even learn a new valuation from them which will alter our whole outlook on life, though no such sudden revulsion of feeling need necessarily follow a study of Nietzsche's doctrine. Only when we have given his thoughts time to become linked up and co-ordinated in our minds are we likely to find that our view of the world has become in the least decree transformed.

     *     *     *      *     *     *

"Do I advise you to love your neighbour? leather do I advise you to flee from your neighbour and to love the most remote.

"Higher than love to your neighbour is love unto the most remote future man.

"It is the more remote (your children and your children's children) who pay for your love unto your neighbour.[13]

"Your children's land ye shall love (be this love your new nobility!), the land undiscovered in the remotest sea! For it I bid your sails seek and seek!

"In your children ye shall make amends for being the children of your fathers: all the past shall ye thus redeem! This new table do I place over you!"[14]

[1] Z., chap. lxi.

[2] Z., p. 299.

[3] Z., pp. 256, 257.

[4] G. E., Aph. 188.

[5] Z., pp. 247, 248.

[6] G. E., p. 223.

[7] Antichrist, Aph. 57.

[8] "The big pine is more often shaken by the winds: the higher a tower, the heavier is the fall thereof, and it is the tops of the mountains that the lightning strikes."

[9] Antichrist, Aph. 2.

[10] Z., pp. 104, 105.

[11] Z., p. 105.

[12] The Twilight of the Idols, Par. 10, Aph. 33.

[13] Z., pp. 69, 70.

[14] Z., p. 248.


When we have done rubbing our eyes and ears at the dazzling and startling novelty of all we have seen and heard, let us ask ourselves calmly and dispassionately what sort of man this is who has led us thus far into regions which, from their very unfamiliarity and exoticness, may have seemed to us both unpleasant and forbidding.

This is no time for apologetics, or for pleading extenuating circumstances. Even if Nietzsche's doctrines have been presented in a form too undiluted to be inviting, it would scarcely mend matters, now, to beg pardon fur them; and I have no intention of doing anything of the sort. But these questions may be put without any fear of assuming a penitential attitude, and I do not hesitate to put them: Was the promise of Nietzsche's life fulfilled? Did the task he started out with, "the elevation of the type man," receive his best strength, his best endeavours, his sincerest application? However fundamentally we may disagree with his conclusions, were they reached by means of an upright attempt at grappling with the problems? To all of those questions there is but one answer, and that answer clears Nietzsche of all the slander and calumny to which he has been submitted for the last thirty years.

However often we may think he has erred, it is nonsense any longer to speak of him as an anarchist, an advocate of brutality, a supporter of immorality in its worst modern sense, and a guardian saint of savage passions. If I have led any readers to suspect that he was all this, I can only entreat them to turn as soon as possible to the original works themselves, and there they will find that it was I who was wrong.

Personally I believe, as Hippolyte Taine, Dr. George Brandes and Wagner believed, that Nietzsche's work is greater than his own or the next generation could ever suspect. Questions such as Art, the future of Science, and the future of Religion, which Nietzsche treats with his customary skill, I have been unable to find room for, in this work. But in each of these departments, I believe (and in this belief I am by no means alone) that Nietzsche's speculations may prove of the very highest value.

Already in Biology there are signs that Nietzsche's conclusions are gaining ground. In Art, as I hope to able to show elsewhere, his doctrines are likely to effect a salutary revolution: while, in the departments of history, psychology, jurisprudence and metaphysics, specialists will doubtless arise who will attempt to make innovations under his leadership.

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