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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Heinrich Heine (1797–1856)

Rewards Hereafter

From “Confessions”

HEGEL’S conversation was usually a kind of monologue, sighed forth in a toneless voice. The grotesqueness of his expressions often struck me, and several of them have remained in my memory. One beautiful, starry evening we both stood at a window, and I, a young man of twenty-two, having just eaten and drunk well, spoke with enthusiasm of the stars, and called them the abodes of souls. The master growled:

“The stars—the stars are only blotches of white leprosy on the face of heaven.”

“For mercy’s sake!” I cried, “do you not believe in some fair habitation above, where virtue will receive its ultimate reward?”

He looked at me with his dim eyes, and said sneeringly:

“Aha! You want to be paid a fee for having nursed your sick mother, and for not having poisoned your brother?”

He then looked about suspiciously, lest his excitement should have been noticed. An acquaintance stepped up, and asked him to take a hand at whist.