It must be remembered, to be sure, that every person, wishes to maintain his own level in life, and this fixed point, this steady endeavor, is one of the causes which limit human compassion to a certain sphere. The cheesemonger will think that to live like the inmate of a poorhouse is going too far in expressing one’s sympathy; for the sympathy of the cheese-monger is biased in one regard which is, his regard of the opinion of other cheese-mongers and of the saloon-keepers. His compassion is therefore not without its limitations. And thus with every class—and the journalists, living as they do on the pennies of the poor, under the pretense of asserting and defending their rights, they would be the first to heap ridicule on this unlimited compassion.
To identify one’s self wholly and literally with him who is most miserable (and this, only this, is divine compassion), that is to men the “too much” by which one is moved to tears, in a quiet Sunday hour, and about which one unconsciously bursts into laughter when one sees it in reality. The fact is, it is too exalted a sight for daily use; one must have it at some distance to be able to support it. Men are not so familiar with exalted virtue to believe it at once. The contradiction seen here is, therefore, that this exalted virtue manifests itself in.reality, in daily life, quite literally the daily life. When the poet or the orator illustrates this exalted virtue, that is, pictures it in a poetical distance from real life, men are moved; but to see this exalted virtue in reality, the reality of daily life, here in Copenhagen, on the Market Square, in the midst of busy every-day life.! And when the poet or the orator does touch people it is only for a short time, and just so long are men able to believe, almost, in this exalted virtue. But to see it in real life every day.! To be sure, there is an enormous contradiction in the statement that the most exalted of all has become the most every-day occurrence!
Insofar, then, it was certain in advance what would be the inviter’s fate, even if nothing else had contributed to his doom. The absolute, or all which makes for an absolute standard, becomes by that very fact the victim. For men are willing enough to practice sympathy and self-denial, are willing enough to strive for wisdom, etc.; but they wish themselves to determine the standard and to have that read: “to a certain degree.” They do not wish to do away with all these splendid virtues. On the contrary, they want.at a bargain and in all comfort.to have the appearance and the name of practicing them. Truly divine compassion is therefore necessarily the victim so soon as it shows itself in this world. It descends on earth out of compassion for mankind, and yet it is mankind who trample upon it. And whilst it is wandering about among them, scarcely even the sufferer dares to flee to it, for fear of mankind. The fact is, it is most important for the world to keep up the appearance of being compassionate; but this it made out by divine compassion to be a falsehood.and therefore: away with divine compassion!