TRANSLATED UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF A.J. BUTLER
Late Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge
TO THE FIRST UNITED DIET
Left school at Easter, 1832, a normal product of our state system of education; a Pantheist, and, if not a Republican, at least with the persuasion that the Republic was the most rational form of government; reflecting too upon the causes which could decide millions of men permanently to obey one man, when all the while I was hearing from grown up people much bitter or contemptuous criticism of their rulers. Moreover, I had brought away with me “German-National” impressions from Plamann’s preparatory school, conducted on Jahn’s drill-system, in which I lived from my sixth to my twelfth year. These impressions remained in the stage of theoretical reflections, and were not strong enough to extirpate my innate Prussian monarchical sentiments. My historical sympathies remained on the side of authority. To my childish ideas of justice Harmodius and Aristogeiton, as well as Brutus, were criminals, and Tell a rebel and murderer. Every German prince who resisted the Emperor before the Thirty Years’ war roused my ire; but from the Great Elector onwards I was partisan enough to take an anti-imperial view, and to find it natural that things should have been in readiness for the Seven Years’ war. Yet the German-National feeling remained so strong in me that, at the beginning of my university life, I at once entered into relations with the Burschenschaft, or group of students which made the promotion of a national sentiment its aim. But, after personal intimacy with its members, I disliked their refusal to “give satisfaction,” as well as their want of breeding in externals and of acquaintance with the forms and manners of good society; and a still closer acquaintance bred an aversion to the extravagance of their political views, based upon a lack of either culture or knowledge of the conditions of life which historical causes had brought into existence, and which I, with my seventeen years, had had more opportunities of observing than most of these students, for the most part older than myself. Their ideas gave me the impression of an association between Utopian theories and defective breeding. Nevertheless, I retained my own private National sentiments, and my belief that in the near future events would lead to German unity; in fact, I made a bet with my American friend Coffin that this aim would be attained in twenty years.