In one of
the upper regions of the astral world—not in the region of pure mind but near
it—I met a man last night who passed to and fro with his head bowed in thought.
“What troubles you, friend?” I asked, as I stood before him.
He paused in his restless walk and gazed at me.
“Who are you?” he enquired, listlessly.
“I am a Judge,” I answered.
His eyes brightened with interest.
“You must have come at the call of my thought,” he said, “for I have
need of a Judge.”
“On whom do you wish me to pass judgment?” I asked, half smiling at
his strange words.
“I would like you to pass judgment on me.”
“And your offence?”
“My offence—if it is an offence, and on that
you shall give your opinion—is having led a nation to its undoing.”
“With malice aforethought?” I queried.
“With malice, perhaps,” he answered, “but not in the sense of your
question. I never believed they had spirit enough to believe me.”
“You pique my curiosity,” I said. “Who are ‘they?’ and in what did
they believe you?”
“They are the Germans,” he answered, “the Germans whom I despised,
and they believed my theory that man becomes supreme by doing what he wills to
“And the devil take the hindmost?”
and the devil take the hindmost."
He bent on me his somber eyes, and I waited for his words.
“What a folk those Germans are!” he said. “Whatever they do, they do
too thoroughly. One cannot trust them with a great truth.”
“They do seem to have systematized you into the ground,” I answered.
“I wanted to make them gods,” he complained, “and I have made them
“God only can make gods,” I said. “Perhaps you were too ambitious.”
“Humph! Perhaps I was too confiding.”
“Hermeticism is safer,” I suggested. “You told them far too much.”
“Or far too little, maybe.”
“In how many volumes?”
“Go ask the librarians. Not the foreign ones—they bind my works in
packages of salable size.”
“And how can I help you?” I asked.
“While you prosecute and defend yourself?”
“Who else is fit, either to prosecute or defend me?”
“Go on with the prosecution.
“I have corrupted a whole people, and led them to their ruin.”
“Elaborate the charge.”
“I thought to remedy their spinelessness, and following me with
characteristic thoroughness, they have become all spine; they have
neither heart nor bowels.”
“Continue,” I said.
“I preached Beyond Man. They have practised below man.”
“So far,” I interrupted, “you have prosecuted them, not yourself.”
“How can I charge myself without charging
them?” he demanded.
“Then I will step down from the bench,” I said, “and talk with you
man to man.”
“I am glad you didn’t say soul to soul.”
“Oh, man is good enough for me! As I said before, you were too
“Yes, too ambitious for man, too sick of man, too much in love with
what man might become!”
“We have come already to the defence,” I said.
“The smell of the court is still about you,” he growled.
“You asked me to be your judge.”
“Yes, that is true.”
“I am sorry for you,” I said.
He smiled a sad and searching smile.
“You seem to have both heart and bowels,” he observed.
“And you have been too long alone,” I replied. “You have lost your
gift of words. Shall I prosecute, defend and judge you? You can interrupt
me whenever you like.”
“Go on,” he assented.
“You were born under a restless star,” I began.
“You followed heroes; they disappointed you by being men. Then you made self
your hero, and that disappointed you most of all.”
“You seem to know all about me.”
“That is the glory and the shame of your greatness, that one knows
all about you.”
“I deny it! You do not know all about me.”
“What is it that we do not know?”
“You do not know how I loved man!”
“You spoke of him with contempt.”
“That he might rise to Beyond Man.”
“Oh! And drown the children on the Lusitania, and hack his
way through Belgium, and turn every friend against him, and be the curse of the
He raised an arresting finger.
“You are speaking of the Germans,” he said.
“They are the only ones who have followed your philosophy to its
“And you taunt me with that?”
“I taunt you with nothing. I am stating facts. It was you who
taunted them—to their undoing.”
“I only preached Beyond Man.”
“So far beyond man that man misunderstood you.”
“Is that my fault?”
“Not altogether theirs. You hated too much. You taught them to hate
“I taught them to hate all that was not Beyond Man.”
“But man is not Beyond Man, and so you taught them to hate man.”
“But they themselves are not Beyond Man!”
“They aspire to be. You taught them to aspire to be. They believed
themselves Beyond Man, beyond good and evil. You taught chemistry to babes and
sucklings, and they have blown up the nursery of the world.”
“I wanted only to teach them.”
“You should have begun with the a-b-c.”
“And what do you think is the a-b-c of Beyond Man,” he asked.
“The a is love, the b is humility, the c is truth,” I answered.
“And why did I not teach them love, humility and truth?”
“You knew not love, humility and truth.”
“I knew not love?”
“You knew not love.”
“And I knew not humility?”
“Your arrogance is a by-word.”
“And I knew not truth?”
“You knew but half the truth, and half the truth is not truth, as
half an apple is not an apple.”
“Do you think I taught them falsehood?”
“The supreme falsehood, that they could be Beyond Man. They
are not ready for Beyond Man.”
“But man must be surpassed!”
“Man must surpass himself,” I answered. “You see, there is a
“What should I have taught them?”
“That Beyond Man is the servant of man, not the bully and the
“But they would not have understood.”
“Be not too sure of that. Some few have understood the Son of Man.”
“Whom you repudiated.”
“But he taught men to be slaves!”
“A good servant maketh a good master, and he that is greatest among
you let him be the servant of all.”
“Oh, if you are going to quote Scripture—”
“I quote the Beyond Man.”
“And you believe—”
“I believe that you repudiated the only well-known example of
your own ideal.”
“And you also believe--”
“Yes, I also believe that you went mad because you saw too late that
all your teaching was a lie. I believe that you had not the courage to repudiate
yourself, and so surpass yourself; so surpass yourself and become yourself
“Then you think I knew?”
“I know that you knew. I know that you had a vision of Him, that you
saw where you yourself had failed to understand, and that you would not
acknowledge your own understanding—which came too late.”
“You know too much,” he said.
“You asked me to be your judge,” I retorted.
“But not my executioner.”
“You have been your own executioner, and the executioner of your
“My people!” His tone was scornful.
“Did I not say that you had no love?” I demanded.
“And what do you now bid me do?”
“Go back to the earth, and teach mankind how
man can surpass himself. Go back to the earth, and teach men to follow the
carpenter’s Son whom you taught them to despise. Go back to Germany, and
“And how shall I go back?”
“In another body, of course, a clean and wholesome body, which you
are to keep clean.”
“What do you mean?”
“You know very well what I mean! I have told you that you had no
love. You had only fastidiousness, and arrogance, and the desire for sensation.”
“You have set me a hard task,” he said.
“Eternity is long,” I replied, “and the new Germany will have need
of your new teaching.”
“Shall I thank you?” he asked.
“There is no need. It is I who thank you for not appealing from my
“Good night,” he said.
“Good night,” I repeated.
And the soul of Friedrich Nietzsche passed on. Was it toward the
gate of rebirth?