I remember in particular some lovely walks we had in the summer of , when he had the most interesting conversations with the boy. I was allowed to accompany them on these occasions. But as I had a little lamb which was passionately devoted to me and would not stir from my side, it was obliged to come also and the two of us followed modestly behind. From time to time our grandfather would turn round and smile at the little escort, and Fritz showed kind attentions not only to me but also to the fourth member of the party.
When a stretch of grass seemed to offer a good mouthful of food Fritz would say : " Grandpa, may not Lizzie's lamb graze a little here? From that time onwards one of my brother's favourite pastimes was to wander over the meadows between the cornfields. We were always delighted to pay a visit to our grand- parents at Pobles. The parsonage stood on a hill at some distance from the village and was surrounded by large gardens and orchards in which grew the finest of fruit. It seems to me as I look back upon it now that every kind of berry, cherry, plum, apple, pear and medlar in short everything that children love must have grown there in abundance.
It was bliss to us to spend the Easter and Whitsuntide holidays there ; all the meadows were full of flowers, the garden full of strawberries, the air laden with the fragrance of spring a rare combination of the scent of freshly tilled soil with that of honeysuckle, elder and lime-blossom.
Flocks of sheep followed by the sweetest of lambs browsed over stretches of meadow land. The shepherds blew real shawms made of soft bark, and all the village children piped on little flutes cut out of elder wood. The bleating of the lambs, the sound of the shawms, the piping and laughter of the children, all these things blended in one harmonious voice the joyous cry of the spring!
Then the summer holidays would come round, and profound silence would lie like a cowl over the whole village for everybody and everything that could work was busy in the harvest field. We two spent most of our time either in the gardens or woods, and only passed rainy days indoors. To lie in the shade of a tree listening to the warbling of the birds and the chirping of the grasshoppers, with a beautiful book to read, and by our side a basket of fruit this was our dream of summer bliss, and we enjoyed it in all its changing aspects when we stayed with our beloved grandparents.
We also made many other journeys and holiday visits. In later years Fritz always recalled an incident that had happened there in his childhood. The hill upon which the church stood had once been the site of an old sacrificial altar. We found some stones and bones, built an altar, laid the bones and some wood upon it, and set the whole alight. When the peculiar smell attracted the worthy parson to the scene, he found us solemnly parading round the altar, bearing burning torches of pinewood and muttering a sort of mysterious hymn : "!
Odin hear us! He was not altogether pleased, and put a stop to the impromptu sacrificial ceremony. We also spent a summer with relations on a large country estate, where Fritz learnt to ride and drive ; and on another occasion we went to the country house of some Leipzig relatives who spent the summer in the neighbourhood of that city. From here Fritz made several expeditions to the bookshops of the city of Leipzig, which interested him immensely. Thus every summer provided us with new experiences and new joys.
But we were happiest with our dear grandparents in Pobles, where it was so delightful, for instance, to be able to wear old clothes which did not matter and which we could make as dirty as we liked.
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We revelled in freedom and independence and even ran a little wild, although this was not really characteristic of us, for we Nietzsches were bred to good manners and liked them. Our grandmother Oehler at the head of her household was a model of forethought, dignity and economy. As I have already said, she was one of those women who, having sprung from a family that had spent two hundred years upon their own land, had the country in her bones. She used curious primitive German expressions, and there was much in her speech which recurs again in Zarathustra.
How often have I not heard her say : " One thing is more needful than another! Whereupon the latter once replied rather shortly : " Did you act like that with your eleven children? Truth compels me to admit that we were extraordinarily good children, perfect little models. As our grandfather once said to our mother in terms of the highest praise, we not only obeyed a word but even a look.
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I should be glad if I were able to describe any mad pranks or misbehaviour of any sort. But I can remember nothing. In fact, once when we were at Pobles, a brother of my mother's wanted us to break a window or do something equally naughty so that we might get a thorough good scolding for once. For we were too good for him. However this may have been, nobody could have called us little machines quite the contrary!
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From morning to night our minds were full of our own queer plans and ideas ; but in carrying them out we always chose ways and means of which our mother and relatives could not disapprove. Our lively imaginations transfigured all that crossed our path, even the quaint old songs and verses which must have been in vogue about the end of the eighteenth century when grandmamma Nietzsche was still young and which were found good enough for us sixty years later. But an even greater joy to us were the tales grandmamma would tell us of her own life. We loved best to hear about Napoleon, for whom she, as a daughter of Saxony, always retained a certain affection.
In one of my brother's poems, " Fifty Years Ago," we can find again in a transfigured form these tales which our grandmother Nietzsche used to tell us. All unwittingly our admiration for Napoleon's greatness was instilled into us from our earliest childhood, a fact which fills me with surprise to this day, for at that time the children in school were always taught to regard him as the Beast of the Apocalypse.
Our mother also had a share in making the figure of Napoleon, even when he was a captive, sympathetic to us. She knew an extraordinarily pathetic play called " Napoleon in St. Helena," which she had once acted with her brothers and sisters at Pobles, and which she could repeat almost entirely by heart, particularly one moving scene in which she had taken part and which opens with a long soliloquy by Napoleon.
I can still remember one passage from it : " All the thrones of Europe tottered, had I cast them down mine own throne would be standing to this day. But as she did not know who the authors of these poems were, it was impossible for me to trace them afterwards, with the exception of Gellert's Fables. Thus the poetical instruction we received from our family when we were children was of a somewhat old- fashioned kind, and in music we were not much better off. We danced, for instance, with enthusiasm to slow waltzes or gavottes, which must certainly have been in use as lullabies as early as the Great Kevolution.
We delighted in singing a comic duet which may very well have pleased the hearts of German provincials in the year 17 The comical point of the whole thing was that when the questions and answers had been satisfactorily concluded, the final reply of all was so worded as to start the whole controversy afresh, where- upon our old friends, who were grandmamma's contem- poraries, and for whose benefit we used to perform this duet, always displayed a certain mild amusement.
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As soon, however, as Fritz became a Second Form boy he declared that such performances were beneath his dignity, and announced his intention of composing something himself, which he accordingly did. At Christmas he presented grandmamma with a little motet, which he himself had composed. We two had rehearsed it secretly in the nursery, and performed it as a surprise for our elders on Christmas Eve. The text on which this composition was based, was the Bible verse: "Lift up your heads, ye gates of the earth; and the King of Glory shall come in.
Strange to say, not one member of the Nietzsche family seemed in any way surprised that our ten-year-old Fritz should be able to compose motets and write verses and plays. Of course everyone knew that our grandfather in his earliest youth had indulged in writing poetry and music. So it seemed quite natural for Fritz to take after his father, and grandpapa Oehler was much too shrewd a teacher of the young to make Fritz suspect that his unusual gifts were anything remarkable.
Fritz accordingly remained very modest. Moreover, he did not find his school work as easy as might have been expected, and Greek especially gave him a great deal of trouble at first, although it was a source of great joy to him afterwards. The only female relative who, from her earliest days, saw something unique about Fritz, and who gave expression to her convictions, was myself, his little sister. On one occasion only, when I was barely seven years old and received all my information from a governess, did I fail to accept his opinion.
Herr Bbttner says that it is a very old-fashioned book, and that many discoveries have been made since it was written. It is to this old " Natural History," by-the-bye, that I am indebted for the nickname " Llama," by which my brother used good-naturedly to call me all his life. The old book gave the following account of this creature : " The llama is a remarkable animal ; it willingly carries the heaviest burdens, but if coerced or treated badly, it refuses to take any nourishment and lies down in the dust to die. No one else ever used it. From the days of my earliest childhood I always regarded my brother as the highest possible authority, and when, later on, his friends declared that, like the famous pupil of Heraclitus, I looked upon every discussion as con- cluded and decided by the words avrbs!
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But the reverence and admiration which I showed for 1 In Germany the childish legend is that the stork is the means of bringing little new born children to their parents. This extraordinarily rich collection was made by myself alone. From a very early age I always kept a treasure drawer, where I preserved everything from my brother's pen that I could lay hands on when it had been dis- carded by him ; and if from the very first he had not been so fond of burning things and had not occasionally taken away the treasures from my hoard on the sly, not one of his compositions from the time he was eight onwards would now be missing.
For when I was only six, though I attached but slight importance to my own things, I had already started this collection of my brother's productions. His friends, too, had the greatest admiration for his poetical and musical compositions, a matter of some weight with him, for all through his life friendship played an extraordinarily important part. He always saw his friends in the best light, as passages in his childish biography dealing with his companions are still with us to show.
He used the most loving and laudatory terms about them ; and it must be confessed that they returned the compliment. I must quote the description which his friend Wilhelm gave of him in the biography which, following my brother's example, he, too, wrote as a child of fourteen. He gives a striking picture of Fritz in those days : " Fritz Nietzsche had had many sad experiences in his life ; he had lost his father very early, the father whom he loved, and of whom he always spoke with the greatest reverence.
He also lost his little brother Joseph, who died as a tiny child shortly after his father's death. Consequently the fundamental trait of his character was a certain melancholy, which manifested itself in his whole being. From his earliest childhood he loved solitude in which he could give himself up to his own thoughts. To a certain extent he avoided company, and would search out the spots where Nature displayed her sublimest beauty. It thus happened that his mind developed early.
As a little boy he used to amuse himself with all kinds of toys which he had made himself, and all of which bore witness to an extraordinarily inventive and self-reliant mind. He was leader in our games, introduced new methods into them, and thus made them attractive and full of novelty. He was, in fact, in every respect a highly- gifted boy. In addition to this, he was capable of a persevering industry which was very creditable to him and by which he once more served as an example to me. Many of my tastes were initiated and encouraged by him, more particularly in the case of music and literature.
From his earliest youth he began preparing himself for the calling which he then wished to adopt that of the Church.
He always had a very serious though kindly disposition, and has remained to this day an exceedingly dear and loving friend to me, a fact for which I shall always remember him and which I cannot rate too highly. He never acted without reflection, and all his actions were founded on a definite and sound reason. This was particularly noticeable in those tasks which we did together, and if ever he wrote anything with which I did not immediately agree he was always ready to give a lucid and concise explanation of his meaning.
His principal virtues were modesty and gratitude, which he displayed in the most unmistakable manner on every occasion. As a result of this modesty he was rather shy, especially among strangers, with whom he never felt at his ease a quality which I, too, have in common with him. But what is clearly to be gathered from his description is the in- fluence which my brother exercised over him. This is not the only evidence of it, for a school friend of the time, who is now Professor Pitzker of Nordhausen, tells us in his Memoirs, that the exalted opinion my brother's school friends had of him amounted almost to worship, " for his gifts were self-evident, his manner affectionate, and there HOME AND EDUCATION 43 was something peculiar in his voice and tone, as also in his choice of language, which distinguished him from the other boys of his own age.
I can well remember a story told me by a cynical law student, who, when my brother was in the Second or Third Form, was already in the Sixth at the Naumburg Grammar School, and who in virtue of his position had to superintend the "preparation " of the smaller boys. He declared that in those days he had often noticed my brother's large wistful eyes, and wondered what influence he exercised over his school- fellows. They never dared to utter any coarse word or indecent remark in his presence.