Something remains to be said about Moltke the correspondent. The letters preserved or published fully justify his being ranked among the best letter writers in German literature. Here, more than elsewhere, the subtle and finer characteristics of the man, the son, the brother, the friend, the gentle and always kindly responsive nature of a thoroughly human and Christian soul are revealed. Above all, however, and side by side with Bismarck’s noble letters to his fiancee and wife, stand Moltke’s charming and devoted letters to Mary Burt von Moltke. I shall not venture to describe their wealth of sentiment, of charm, of love, of interest in matters big and small. One of the long series, however, stands conspicuous among them; it is addressed to his fiancee, dated Berlin, February 13, 1842. Charming in its combination of a protective, paternal, and instructive attitude with that of the lover and prospective husband, it is unique also because of the advice given about the gentle art of writing letters, an art in which the great modern strategist excelled.
LETTERS AND HISTORICAL WRITINGS OF MOLTKE
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TRANSLATED BY EDMUND VON MACH, PH.D.
[Moltke spent four years, from 1836 to 1839, in Turkey, and, as was his habit, sent detailed accounts of his experiences to his family. After his return to Prussia, he collected his material, revised it, omitted all intimate family references, and published it under the title Letters Concerning Conditions and Events in Turkey. The book contained sixty-seven letters. The following is the tenth letter, dated from Pera, April 7, 1836.]
For a long time it was the task of the armies of western Europe to set bounds to the Turkish sway. Today the powers of Europe seem anxious to keep the Turkish state in existence. Not so very long ago serious concern was felt lest Islam gain the upper hand in a great part of the West, as it had done in the Orient. The adherents of the prophet had conquered countries where Christianity had been rooted for centuries. The classic soil of the apostles, Corinth and Ephesus, Nicea (the city of synods and churches), also Antioch, Nicomedia, and Alexandria had yielded to their strength. Even the cradle of Christianity and the grave of the Saviour, Palestine and Jerusalem, did homage to the Infidels, who held their possessions against the united armies of the western knights.