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GERMANISMEN

Gy hebt my, lieve Buren!
Uw toonstuk niet te sturen;
Ik zing niet gaarne op Duitsch;
Houdt, daar gy my door ‘t oor boort
Met uw afgrijslijk voorwoord,
Uw liedertafels thuis.
Verlost my van de daadzaak,
Waarover ik my kwaadmaak,
Gewis niet zonder grond!
En wijs, om my te grieven,
Niet heen naar de omloopsbrieven,
Die gy my onlangs zondt.
Och, dat de Nederlanden
Toch sporeloos verbanden
Wat voortgaat uit uw huis,
In plaats van door te voeren
Wat burgeren en boeren
Tot schande strekt of kruis.
Ons Neerduitsch was welluidend,
Zoo lang gy ‘t niet beduidend
Met valsche klanken schond;
Ons Neerduitsch was verstandig.
Zoo lang men ‘t niet onhandig
Verplooide naar uw mond;
Ons Neerduitsch zal slechts leven,
Zoo lang wy ‘t niet vergeven
Met vruchten van uw grond.

Nicolaas Beets: Germanismen, in: Korenbloemen. Nieuwe Gedichten, Haarlem 1853, p. 195-196.

The latest issue of French History includes an article I wrote on the role of silence during the French Revolution, titled

Le silence du peuple: The Rhetoric of Silence during the French Revolution

French History, 31, Issue 4 (2017), p. 440–469.

https://doi.org/10.1093/fh/crx062

Abstract

In July 1789, a phrase was introduced into French political discourse that would quickly become a standing expression: le silence du peuple est la leçon des rois. Taking this political bon mot as a starting point, the article traces the uses of and responses to collective silences during the French Revolution. It is argued that silence cannot be reduced to just the lack of ‘voice’ indicating suppression or political impotence. Rather, it must be understood as a mode of political action with a rhetoric of its own. Sketching this rhetoric not only highlights the nature and functions of a mode of political communication too often disregarded. It also shows how the controversies surrounding these silences reflected some of the major political questions of the day, playing a key role in the renegotiations of the communicative spaces of politics set off by the Revolution.

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Wer für die Menschen wirken will, der muß sie lieben und verachten zugleich.

Frankfurt a. M., 21. December 1848

Friedrich Daniel Bassermann, in: J. Loewenberg: Aus den Frankfurter Parlamentstagen. Stammbuchblätter deutscher Abgeordneter, in: Die Gartenlaube 17 (1875), p. 290.

In Goethes Welt ist das Klappern der Webstühle noch eine Störung gewesen, in der Zeit Ulrichs begann man das Lied der Maschinensäle, Niethämmer und Fabriksirenen schon zu entdecken. Man darf freilich nicht glauben, die Menschen hätten bald bemerkt, daß ein Wolkenkratzer größer sei als ein Mann zu Pferd; im Gegenteil, noch heute, wenn sie etwas Besonderes von sich hermachen wollen, setzen sie sich nicht auf den Wolkenkratzer, sondern aufs hohe Roß, sind geschwind wie der Wind und scharfsichtig, nicht wie ein Riesenrefraktor, sondern wie ein Adler. Ihr Gefühl hat noch nicht gelernt, sich ihres Verstandes zu bedienen, und zwischen diesen beiden liegt ein Unterschied der Entwicklung, der fast so groß ist wie der zwischen dem Blinddarm und der Großhirnrinde. Es bedeutet also kein gar kleines Glück, wenn man darauf kommt, wie es Ulrich schon nach Abbruch seiner Flegeljahre geschah, daß der Mensch in allem, was ihm für das Höhere gilt, sich weit altmodischer benimmt, als es seine Maschinen sind.

Robert Musil: Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften, vol. 1, Berlin 1930, Book I, Ch. 10.

Florilegium Historicum XXI

Words do have a magical effect – but not in the way that the magicians supposed, and not on the objects they were trying to influence. Words are magical in the way they affect the minds of those who use them. “A mere matter of words,” we say contemptuously, forgetting that words have power to mold men’s thinking, to canalize their feeling, to direct their willing and acting. Conduct and character are largely determined by the nature of the words we currently use to discuss ourselves and the world around us.

Aldous Huxley: Words and Their Meanings, Los Angeles 1940, p. 8.

Florilegium Historicum XX

Gandhi works more effectively upon the country when he is silent than when he talks, when he is out of the Congress than when he is in. People may have forgotten the fact that at Cawnpore in the year 1925, he took a vow of political silence which he broke at Gauhati in December 1926. But to him such periods of silence, physical or political, are periods of incubation when huge plans mature in his mind and are, after full gestation, given birth to as well-thought-out programmes and formulae. One such long interval was the period between the Cawnpore Session (1925) and the Calcutta Session of 1928 which were followed by the Lahore (1929) challenge on the ticket of complete Independence. Gandhi resists his own following and tries their mettle as much as he does his opponents.

B. Pattabhi Sitaramayya: Gandhi in His Many Aspects, in: Mahatma Gandhi. Essays & Recollections, Mumbai 1998, p. 220.

Florilegium Historicum XIX

What a curious, inconsistent thing is the mind of man! In the midst of divine service I was laying plans for having women, and yet I had the most sincere feelings of religion.

James Boswell: London Journal 1762-1763, Frederick A. Pottle ed., London 1950, p. 54, entry of 28 November 1762.