Whither has he gone now? Has he joined his compeers? Is he conversing in ethereal regions with Alexander, Caesar, Frederick? Is he sweeping over land and sea in the whirlwind and the thunder-cloud? Or may we hope that he is still working out the task which, in spite of all the imperiousness of his nature, was the essence of his earthly life—the task of making the Germans a nation of true freemen?
[Footnote 1: From Glimpses of Modern German Culture. Permission Dodd, Mead & Company, New York.]
* * * * *
Hotel de Prusse, Stettin, (Not dated: Written about the end of December, 1846.)
TO HERR VON PUTTKAMER:
Most Honored Sir.—I begin this communication by indicating its content in the first sentence—it is a request for the highest thing you can dispose of in this world, the hand of your daughter. I do not conceal from myself the fact that I appear presumptuous when I, whom you have come to know only recently and through a few meetings, claim the strongest proof of confidence which you can give to any man. I know, however, that even irrespective of all obstacles in space and time which can increase your difficulty in forming an opinion of me, through my own efforts I can never be in a position to give you such guaranties for the future that they would, from your point of view, justify intrusting me with an object so precious, unless you supplement by trust in God that which trust in human beings cannot supply. All that I can do is to give you information about myself with absolute candor, so far as I have come to understand myself. It will be easy for you to get reports from others in regard to my public conduct; I content myself, therefore, with an account of what underlay that—my inner life, and especially my relations to Christianity. To do that I must take a start far back.
In earliest childhood I was estranged from my parents’ house, and at no time became entirely at home there again; and my education from the beginning was conducted on the assumption that everything is subordinate to the cultivation of the intelligence and the early acquisition of positive sciences.
After a course of religious teaching, irregularly attended and not comprehended, I had at the time of my confirmation by Schleiermacher, on my sixteenth birthday no belief other than a bare deism, which was not long free from pantheistic elements. It was at about this time that I, not through indifference, but after mature consideration, ceased to pray every evening, as I had been in the habit of doing since childhood; because prayer seemed inconsistent with my view of God’s nature; saying to myself: either God himself, being omnipresent, is the cause