He wrote down these thoughts at Creisau, and left the copy on his desk. Whenever he visited his country-seat he revised and corrected what he had written. No less than four drafts of the introduction to this work have been preserved.
The succession of thoughts is the same in all four versions, but on the one hand renewed and deepened meditations enabled him to express his ideas with greater force and precision, and on the other sometimes developed them further, so as to present them more exhaustively and convincingly.
These pages contain the last efforts of a noble life. In them Moltke appears as he was when we knew him and took him for our pattern, reconciled with the anomalies and the contradictions of life, with a pious grasp of principles which he had thought out for himself, and in the assurance of which he found peace. We learn here how it was possible for him to rise superior to the world, and preserve a contented mind in all the vicissitudes of life.
[Footnote 46: From Moltke: His Life and Character. Permission Harper & Brothers, New York and London.]
Man feels that he is a complete being, different from other creatures, and outwardly distinguished from them by his body, which here on earth is the habitation of the soul.
Yet in this complete whole I believe I can distinguish different functions, which, though closely connected with the soul, and ruled by it, have an independent existence.
In the mysterious beginnings of life physical development takes the first place. Nature is busily at work in the child’s body as it grows, and is already preparing it to be the dwelling-place of higher functions. The body reaches the acme of its perfection before its career is half over, and out of the surplus of its energy calls new life into being. Thenceforward its lot is decay and painful struggling to preserve its own existence.
During something like a third of our existence, that is, while we are asleep, the body receives no commands from its ruler, and yet the heart beats without interruption, the tissues are wasted and repaired, and the process of respiration is continued, all independently of our will.