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The German Classics of The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Vol. X. by Kuno Francke

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Masterpieces of German Literature


Patrons' Edition





Prince Otto Von Bismarck

Bismarck as a National Type. By Kuno Francke.

The Love Letters of Bismarck. Translated under the supervision of
Charlton T. Lewis.

Correspondence of William I. and Bismarck. Translated by J.A. Ford.

From "Thoughts and Recollections." Translated under the supervision of
A.J. Butler.

Bismarck as an Orator. By Edmund von Mach.

Speeches of Prince Bismarck. Translated by Edmund von Mach:

Professorial Politics

Speech from the Throne

Alsace-Lorraine a Glacis Against France

We Shall Never Go to Canossa!

Bismarck as the "Honest Broker"

Salus Publica--Bismarck's Only Lode-Star

Practical Christianity

We Germans Fear God, and Nought Else in the World

Mount the Guards at the Warthe and the Vistula!

Long Live the Emperor and the Empire!

Count Helmuth Von Moltke

The Life of Moltke. By Karl Detlev Jessen.

Letters and Historical Writings of Moltke:

The Political and Military Conditions of the Ottoman Empire in 1836.
Translated by Edmund von Mach.

A Trip to Brussa. Translated by Edmund von Mach.

A Journey to Mossul. Translated by Edmund von Mach.

A Bullfight in Spain. Translated by Edmund von Mach.

Description of Moscow. Translated by Grace Bigelow.

The Peace Movement. Translated by Edmund von Mach.

Fighting on the Frontier. Translated by Clara Bell and Henry W.

Battle of Gravelotte--St. Privat. Translated by Clara Bell and Henry
W. Fischer.

Consolatory Thoughts on the Earthly Life and a Future Existence.
Translated by Mary Herms.

Ferdinand Lassalle

The Life and Work of Ferdinand Lassalle. By Arthur N. Holcombe.

The Workingmen's Programme. Translated by E.H. Babbitt.

Science and the Workingmen. Translated by Thorstein B. Veblen.

Open Letter to the Central Committee. Translated by E.H. Babbitt.


Bismarck Meeting Napoleon after the Battle of Sedan

Prince Bismarck. By Franz von Lenbach

Prince Bismarck. By Franz von Lenbach

Princess Bismarck

Coronation of King William I at Koenigsberg. By Adolph von Menzel

Emperor William I. By Franz von Lenbach

King William's Departure for the Front at the Beginning of the
Franco-German War. By Adolph von Menzel

Prince Bismarck. By Franz von Lenbach

The Berlin Congress. By Anton von Werner

Prince Bismarck. By Franz von Lenbach

The Bismarck Monument at Hamburg. By Lederer

William I on his Deathbed. By Anton von Werner

Moltke. By Anton von Werner

Count Moltke

Moltke at Sedan. By Anton von Werner

King William at the Mausoleum of his Parents on the Day of the French
Declaration of War. By Anton von Werner

The Capitulation of Sedan. By Anton von Werner

Ferdinand Lassalle

The Iron Foundry. By Adolph von Menzel

Flax Barn in Laren. By Max Liebermann

* * * * *


BY KUNO FRANCKE, PH.D., LL.D., Litt.D. Professor of the History of
German Culture, Harvard University.

No man since Luther has been a more complete embodiment of German
nationality than Otto von Bismarck. None has been closer to the German
heart. None has stood more conspicuously for racial aspirations,
passions, ideals.

It is the purpose of the present sketch to bring out a few of these
affinities between Bismarck and the German people.


Perhaps the most obviously Teutonic trait in Bismarck's character is
its martial quality. It would be preposterous, surely, to claim
warlike distinction as a prerogative of the German race. Russians,
Frenchmen, Englishmen, Americans, undoubtedly, make as good fighters
as Germans. But it is not an exaggeration to say that there is no
country in the world where the army is as enlightened or as popular an
institution as it is in Germany.

The German army is not composed of hirelings of professional fighters
whose business it is to pick quarrels, no matter with whom. It is, in
the strictest sense of the word, the people in arms. Among its
officers there is a large percentage of the intellectual elite of the
country; its rank and file embrace every occupation and every class of
society, from the scion of royal blood down to the son of the
seamstress. Although it is based upon the unconditional
acceptance of the monarchical creed, nothing is farther removed from
it than the spirit of servility. On the contrary, one of the very
first teachings which are inculcated upon the German recruit is that,
in wearing the "king's coat," he is performing a public duty, and that
by performing this duty he is honoring himself. Nor can it be said
that it is the aim of German military drill to reduce the soldier to a
mere machine, at will to be set in motion or be brought to a
standstill by his superior. The aim of this drill is rather to give
each soldier increased self-control, mentally no less than bodily; to
develop his self-respect; to enlarge his sense of responsibility, as
well as to teach him the absolute necessity of the subordination of
the individual to the needs of the whole. The German army, then, is by
no means a lifeless tool that might be used by an unscrupulous and
adventurous despot to gratify his own whims or to wreak his private
vengeance. The German army is, in principle at least, a national
school of manly virtues, of discipline, of comradeship, of
self-sacrifice, of promptness of action, of tenacity of purpose.
Although, probably, the most powerful armament which the world has
ever seen, it makes for peace rather than for war. Although called
upon to defend the standard of the most imperious dynasty of western
Europe, it contains more of the spirit of true democracy than many a
city government on this side of the Atlantic.

All this has to be borne in mind if we wish to judge correctly of
Bismarck's military propensities. He has never concealed the fact that
he felt himself, above all, a soldier. One of his earliest public
utterances was a defense of the Prussian army against the sympathizers
with the revolution of 1848. His first great political achievement was
the carrying through, in the early sixties, of King William's army
reform in the face of the most stubborn and virulent opposition of a
parliamentary majority. Never, in the years following the formation of
the Empire, did his speech in the German Parliament rise to a higher
pathos than when he was asserting the military supremacy of the
Emperor, or calling upon the parties to forget their dissensions in
maintaining the defensive strength of the nation, or showering
contempt upon liberal deputies who seemed to think that questions of
national existence could be solved by effusions of academic oratory.
Over and over, during the last decade of his official career, did he
declare that the only thing which kept him from throwing aside the
worry and vexation of governmental duties and retiring to the much
coveted leisure of home and hearth, was the oath of vassal loyalty
constraining him to stand at his post until his imperial master
released him of his own accord. And at the very height of his
political triumphs he wrote to his sovereign: "I have always regretted
that my talents did not allow me to testify my attachment to the royal
house and my enthusiasm for the greatness and glory of the Fatherland
in the front rank of a regiment rather than behind a writing-desk. And
even now, after having been raised by your Majesty to the highest
honors of a statesman, I cannot altogether repress a feeling of regret
at not having been similarly able to carve out a career for myself as
a soldier. Perhaps I should have made a poor general, but if I had
been free to follow the bent of my own inclination I would rather have
won battles for your Majesty than diplomatic campaigns."

It seems clear that both the defects and the greatness of Bismarck's
character are intimately associated with these military leanings of
his. He certainly was overbearing; he could tolerate no opposition; he
was revengeful and unforgiving; he took pleasure in the appeal to
violence; he easily resorted to measures of repression; he requited
insults with counter-insults; he had something of that blind _furor
Teutonicus_ which was the terror of the Italian republics in the
Middle Ages. These are defects of temper which will probably prevent
his name from ever shining with that serene lustre of international
veneration that has surrounded the memory of a Joseph II. or a
Washington with a kind of impersonal immaculateness. But his
countrymen, at least, have every reason to condone these defects; for
they are concomitant results of the military bent of German character,
and they are offset by such transcendent military virtues that we
would almost welcome them as bringing this colossal figure within the
reach of our own frailties and shortcomings.

Three of the military qualities that made Bismarck great seem to me to
stand out with particular distinctness: his readiness to take the most
tremendous responsibilities, if he could justify his action by the
worth of the cause for which he made himself responsible; his
moderation after success was assured; his unflinching submission to
the dictates of monarchical discipline.

Moritz Busch has recorded an occurrence, belonging to the autumn of
1877, which most impressively brings before us the tragic grandeur and
the portentous issues of Bismarck's career. It was twilight at Varzin,
and the Chancellor, as was his wont after dinner, was sitting by the
stove in the large back drawing-room. After having sat silent for a
while, gazing straight before him, and feeding the fire now and anon
with fir-cones, he suddenly began to complain that his political
activity had brought him but little satisfaction and few friends.
Nobody loved him for what he had done. He had never made anybody happy
thereby, he said, not himself, nor his family, nor any one else. Some
of those present would not admit this, and suggested "that he had made
a great nation happy." "But," he retorted, "how many have I made
unhappy! But for me three great wars would not have been fought;
eighty thousand men would not have perished; parents, brothers,
sisters, and wives would not have been bereaved and plunged into
mourning.... That matter, however, I have settled with God." "Settled
with God!"--an amazing statement, a statement which would seem the
height of blasphemy if it were not an expression of noblest manliness,
if it did not reveal the soul of a warrior dauntlessly fighting for a
great cause, risking for it the existence of a whole country as well
as his own happiness, peace, and salvation, and being ready to submit
the consequences, whatever they might be, to the tribunal of eternity.
To say that a man who is willing to take such responsibilities as
these makes himself thereby an offender against morality appears to me
tantamount to condemning the Alps as obstructions to traffic. A
people, at any rate, that glories in the achievements of a Luther has
no right to cast a slur upon the motives of a Bismarck.

Whatever one may think of the worth of the cause for which Bismarck
battled all his life--the unity and greatness of Germany--it is
impossible not to admire the policy of moderation and self-restraint
pursued by him after every one of his most decisive victories. And
here again we note in him the peculiarly German military temper.
German war-songs do not glorify foreign conquest and brilliant
adventure; they glorify dogged resistance and bitter fight for house
and home, for kith and kin. The German army, composed as it is of
millions of peaceful citizens, is essentially a weapon of defense. And
it can truly be said that Bismarck, with all his natural
aggressiveness and ferocity, was in the main a defender, not a
conqueror. He defended Prussia against the intolerable arrogance and
un-German policy of Austria; he defended Germany against French
interference in the work of national consolidation; he defended the
principle of State sovereignty against the encroachments of the
Papacy; he defended the monarchy against the republicanism of the
Liberals and Socialists; and the supreme aim of his foreign policy
after the establishment of the German Empire was to guard the peace of

The third predominant trait of Bismarck's character that stamps him as
a soldier--his unquestioning obedience to monarchical discipline--is
so closely bound up with the peculiarly German conceptions of the
functions and the Purpose of the State, that it will be better to
approach this Part of his nature from the political instead of the
military side.


In no other of the leading countries of the world has the _laissez
faire_ doctrine had as little influence in political matters as in
Germany. Luther, the fearless champion of religious individualism,
was, in questions of government, the most pronounced advocate of
paternalism. Kant, the cool dissector of the human intellect, was at
the same time the most rigid upholder of corporate morality. It was
Fichte, the ecstatic proclaimer of the glory of the individual will,
who wrote this dithyramb on the necessity of the constant surrender of
private interests to the common welfare: "Nothing can live by itself
or for itself; everything lives in the whole; and the whole
continually sacrifices itself to itself in order to live anew. This is
the law of life. Whatever has come to the consciousness of existence
must fall a victim to the progress of all existence. Only there is a
difference whether you are dragged to the shambles like a beast with
bandaged eyes, or whether, in full and joyous presentiment of the life
which will spring forth from your sacrifice, you offer yourself freely
on the altar of eternity."

Not even Plato and Aristotle went so far in the deification of the
State as Hegel. And if Hegel declared that the real office of the
State is not to further individual interests, to protect private
property, but to be an embodiment of the organic unity of public life;
if he saw the highest task and the real freedom of the individual in
making himself a part of this organic unity of public life, he voiced
a sentiment which was fully shared by the leading classes of the
Prussia of his time, and which has since become a part of the
political creed of the Socialist masses all over Germany.

Here we have the moral background of Bismarck's internal policy. His
monarchism rested not only on his personal allegiance to the
hereditary dynasty, although no medieval knight could have been more
steadfast in his loyalty to his liege lord than Bismarck was in his
unswerving devotion to the Hohenzollern house. His monarchism
rested above all on the conviction that, under the present
conditions of German political life, no other form of government would
insure equally well the fulfilment of the moral obligations of the

[Illustration: PRINCE BISMARCK _From the Painting by Franz von

He was by no means blind to the value of parliamentary institutions.
More than once has he described the English Constitution as the
necessary outcome and the fit expression of the vital forces of
English society. More than once has he eulogized the sterling
political qualities of English landlordism, its respect for the law,
its common sense, its noble devotion to national interests. More than
once has he deplored the absence in Germany of "the class which in
England is the main support of the State--the class of wealthy and
therefore conservative gentlemen, independent of material interests,
whose whole education is directed with a view to their becoming
statesmen, and whose only aim in life is to take part in public
affairs"; and the absence of "a Parliament, like the English,
containing two sharply defined parties whereof one forms a sure and
unswerving majority which subjects itself with iron discipline to its
ministerial leaders." We may regret that Bismarck himself did not do
more to develop parliamentary discipline; that, indeed, he did
everything in his power to arrest the healthy growth of German party
life. But it is at least perfectly clear that his reasons for refusing
to allow the German parties a controlling influence in shaping the
policy of the government were not the result of mere despotic caprice,
but were founded upon thoroughly German traditions, and upon a
thoroughly sober, though one-sided, view of the present state of
German public affairs.

To him party government appeared as much of an impossibility as it had
appeared to Hegel. The attempt to establish it would, in his opinion,
have led to nothing less than chaos. The German parties, as he viewed
them, represented, not the State, not the nation, but an infinite
variety of private and class interests--the interests of landholders,
traders, manufacturers, laborers, politicians, priests, and so on;
each particular set of interests desiring the particular consideration
of the public treasury, and refusing the same amount of consideration
to every other. It seemed highly desirable to him, as it did to Hegel,
that all these interests should be heard; that they should be
represented in a Parliament based upon as wide and liberal a suffrage
as possible. But to intrust any one of these interests with the
functions of government would, in his opinion, have been treason to
the State; it would have been class tyranny of the worst kind.

The logical outcome of all this was his conviction of the absolute
necessity, for Germany, of a strong non-partisan government: a
government which should hold all the conflicting class interests in
check and force them into continual compromises with one another; a
government which should be unrestricted by any class prejudices,
pledges, or theories, and have no other guiding star than the welfare
of the whole nation. And the only basis for such a government he found
in the Prussian monarchy, with its glorious tradition of military
discipline, of benevolent paternalism, and of self-sacrificing
devotion to national greatness; with its patriotic gentry, its
incorruptible courts, its religious freedom, its enlightened
educational system, its efficient and highly trained civil service. To
bow before such a monarchy, to serve such a State, was indeed
something different from submitting to the chance vote of a
parliamentary majority; in this bondage even a Bismarck could find his
highest freedom.

For nearly forty years he bore this bondage; for twenty-eight he stood
in the place nearest to the monarch himself; and not even his enemies
dared to assert that his political conduct was guided by other motives
than the consideration of public welfare. Indeed, if there is any
phrase for which he, the apparent cynic, the sworn despiser of
phrases, seems to have had a certain weakness, it is the word _salus
publica_. To it he sacrificed his days and his nights; for it he more
than once risked his life; for it he incurred more hatred and slander
than perhaps any man of his time; for it he alienated his best
friends; for it he turned not once or twice, but one might almost say
habitually, against his own cherished prejudices and convictions. The
career of few men shows so many apparent inconsistencies and
contrasts. One of his earliest speeches in the Prussian Landtag was a
fervent protest against the introduction of civil marriage; yet the
civil marriage clause in the German constitution is his work. He was
by birth and tradition a believer in the divine right of kings; yet
the King of Hanover could tell something of the manner in which
Bismarck dealt with the divine right of kings if it stood in the way
of German unity. He took pride in belonging to the most feudal
aristocracy of western Europe, the Prussian Junkerdom; yet he did more
to uproot feudal privileges than any other German statesman since
1848. He gloried in defying public opinion, and was wont to say that
he felt doubtful about himself whenever he met with popular applause;
yet he is the founder of the German Parliament, and he founded it on
direct and universal suffrage. He was the sworn enemy of the Socialist
party--he attempted to destroy it, root and branch; yet through the
nationalization of railways and the obligatory insurance of workmen he
infused more Socialism into German legislation than any other
statesman before him.

Truly, a man who could thus sacrifice his own wishes and instincts to
the common good; who could so completely sink his own personality in
the cause of the nation; who with such matchless courage defended this
cause against attacks from whatever quarter--against court intrigue no
less than against demagogues--such a man had a right to stand above
parties; and he spoke the truth when, some years before leaving
office, in a moment of gloom and disappointment he wrote under his
portrait, _Patrice inserviendo consumor_.


There is a strange, but after all perfectly natural, antithesis in
German national character. The same people that instinctively believes
in political paternalism, that willingly submits to restrictions of
personal liberty in matters of State such as no Englishman would ever
tolerate, is more jealous of its independence than perhaps any other
nation in matters pertaining to the intellectual, social, and
religious life of the individual. It seems as if the very pressure
from without had helped to strengthen and enrich the life within.

Not only all the great men of German thought, from Luther down to the
Grimms and the Humboldts, have been conspicuous for their freedom from
artificial conventions and for the originality and homeliness of their
human intercourse; but even the average German official--wedded as he
may be to his rank or his title, anxious as he may be to preserve an
outward decorum in exact keeping with the precise shade of his public
status--is often the most delightfully unconventional, good-natured,
unsophisticated, and even erratic being in the world, as soon as he
has left the cares of his office behind him. Germany is the classic
land of queer people. It is the land of Quintus Fixlein, Onkel Braesig,
Leberecht Huehnchen, and the host of _Fliegende Blatter_ worthies; it
is the land of the beer-garden and the Kaffeekranzchen, of the
Christmas-tree and the Whitsuntide merry-making; it is the land of
country inns and of student pranks. What more need be said to bring
before one's mind the wealth of hearty joyfulness, jolly
good-fellowship, boisterous frolic, sturdy humor, simple directness,
and genuinely democratic feeling that characterizes social life in

And still less reason is there for dwelling on the intellectual and
religious independence of German character. Absence of constraint in
scientific inquiry and religious conduct is indeed the very palladium
of German freedom. Nowhere is higher education so entirely removed
from class distinction as in the country where the imperial princes
are sent to the same school with the sons of tradesmen and artisans.
Nowhere is there so little religious formalism, coupled with such deep
religious feeling, as in the country where sermons are preached to
empty benches, while _Tannhauser_ and _Lohengrin, Wallenstein_ and
_Faust_, are listened to with the hush of awe and bated breath by
thousands upon thousands.

In all these respects--socially, intellectually, religiously--Bismarck
was the very incarnation of German character. Although an aristocrat
by birth and bearing, and although, especially during the years of
early manhood, passionately given over to the aristocratic habits of
dueling, hunting, swaggering and carousing, he was essentially a man
of the people. Nothing was so utterly foreign to him as any form of
libertinism; even his eccentricities were of the hardy, homespun sort.
He was absolutely free from social vanity; he detested court
festivities; he set no store by orders or decorations; the only two
among the innumerable ones conferred upon him which he is said to have
highly valued were the Prussian order of the Iron Cross, bestowed for
personal bravery on the battlefield, and the medal for "rescuing from
danger" which he earned in 1842 for having saved his groom from
drowning by plunging into the water after him.

All his instincts were bound up with the soil from which he had
sprung. He passionately loved the North German plain, with its gloomy
moorlands, its purple heather, its endless wheatfields, its kingly
forests, its gentle lakes, and its superb sweep of sky and clouds.
Writing to his friends when abroad--he traveled very little abroad--he
was in the habit of describing foreign scenery by comparing it to
familiar views and places on his own estates. During sleepless nights
in the Chancellery at Berlin there would often rise before him a
sudden vision of Varzin, his Pomeranian country-seat, "perfectly
distinct in the minutest particulars, like a great picture with all
its colors fresh--the green trees, the sunshine on the stems, the blue
sky above. I saw every individual tree." Never was he more happy than
when alone with nature. "Saturday," he writes to his wife from
Frankfort, "I drove to Ruedesheim. There I took a boat, rowed out on
the Rhine, and swam in the moonlight, with nothing but nose and eyes
out of water, as far as the Maeuseturm near Bingen, where the bad
bishop came to his end. It gives one a peculiar dreamy sensation to
float thus on a quiet warm night in the water, gently carried down by
the current, looking above on the heavens studded with moon and stars,
and on each side the banks and wooded hilltops and the battlements of
the old castles bathed in the moonlight, whilst nothing falls on one's
ear but the gentle splashing of one's movements. I should like to swim
like this every evening." And what poet has more deeply felt than he
that vague musical longing which seizes one when far away from human
sounds, by the brook-side or the hill-slope? "I feel as if I were
looking out on the mellowing foliage of a fine September day," he
writes again to his wife, "health and spirits good, but with a soft
touch of melancholy, a little homesickness, a longing for deep woods
and lakes, for a desert, for yourself and the children, and all this
mixed up with a sunset and Beethoven."

His domestic affections were by no means limited to those united to
him by ties of blood; he cherished strong patriarchal feelings for
every member of his household, past or present. He possessed in a high
degree the German tenderness for little things. He never forgot a
service rendered to him, however small. In the midst of the most
engrossing public activity he kept himself informed about the minutest
details of the management of his estates, so that his wife could once
laughingly say that a turnip from his own fields interested him vastly
more than all the problems of international politics.

His humor, also, was entirely of the German stamp. It was boisterous,
rollicking, aggressive, unsparing--of himself as little as of
others--cynic, immoderate, but never without a touch of good-nature.
His satire was often crushing, never venomous. His wit was racy and
exuberant never equivocal. Whether he describes his _vis-a-vis_ at a
hotel table, his Excellency So-and-So, as "one of those figures which
appear to one when he has the nightmare--a fat frog without legs, who
opens his mouth as wide as his shoulders, like a carpet-bag, for each
bit, so that I am obliged to hold tight on by the table from
giddiness"; whether he characterizes his colleagues at the Frankfort
Bundestag as "mere caricatures of periwig diplomatists, who at once
put on their official visage if I merely beg of them a light to my
cigar, and who study their words and looks with Regensburg care when
they ask for the key of the lavatory"; whether he sums up his
impression of the excited, emotional manner in which Jules Favre
pleaded with him for the peace terms in the words, "He evidently took
me for a public meeting"; whether he declined to look at the statue
erected to him at Cologne, because he "didn't care to see himself
fossilized"; whether he spoke of the unprecedented popular ovations
given to him at his final departure from Berlin as a "first-class
funeral"--there are always the same childlike directness, the same
naive impulsiveness, the same bantering earnestness, the same sublime
contempt for sham and hypocrisy.

And what man has been more truthful in intellectual and religious
matters? He, the man of iron will, of ferocious temper, was at the
same time the coolest reasoner, the most unbiased thinker. He
willingly submitted to the judgment of experts, he cheerfully
acknowledged intellectual talent in others, he took a pride in having
remained a learner all his life, but he hated arrogant amateurishness.
He was not a church-goer; he declined to be drawn into the circle of
religious schemers and reactionary fanatics; he would occasionally
speak in contemptuous terms of "the creed of court chaplains"; but,
writing to his wife of that historic meeting with Napoleon in the
lonely cottage near the battlefield of Sedan, he said: "A powerful
contrast with our last meeting in the Tuileries in '67. Our
conversation was a difficult thing, if I wanted to avoid touching on
topics which could not but affect painfully the man whom God's mighty
hand had cast down." And more than once has he given vent to
reflections like these: "For him who does not believe--as I do from
the bottom of my heart--that death is a transition from one existence
to another, and that we are justified in holding out to the worst of
criminals in his dying hour the comforting assurance, _mors janua
vitae_--I say that for him who does not share that conviction the joys
of this life must possess so high a value that I could almost envy him
the sensations they must procure him." Or these: "Twenty years hence,
or at most thirty, we shall be past the troubles of this life, whilst
our children will have reached our present standpoint, and will
discover with astonishment that their existence, but now so brightly
begun, has turned the corner and is going down hill. Were that to be
the end of it all, life would not be worth the trouble of dressing and
undressing every day."


We have considered a few traits of Bismarck's mental and moral make-up
which seem to be closely allied with German national character and
traditions. But, after all, the personality of a man like Bismarck is
not exhausted by the qualities which he has in common with his people,
however sublimated these qualities may be in him. His innermost life
belongs to himself alone, or is shared, at most, by the few men of the
world's history who, like him, tower in splendid solitude above the
waste of the ages. In the Middle High German _Alexanderlied_ there is
an episode which most impressively brings out the impelling motive of
such titanic lives. On one of his expeditions Alexander penetrates
into the land of Scythian barbarians. These child-like people are so
contented with their simple, primitive existence that they beseech
Alexander to give them immortality. He answers that this is not in his
power. Surprised, they ask why, then, if he is only a mortal, he is
making such a stir in the world. Thereupon he answers: "The Supreme
Power has ordained us to carry out what is in us. The sea is given
over to the whirlwind to plough it up. As long as life lasts and I am
master of my senses, I must bring forth what is in me. What would life
be if all men in the world were like you?" These words might have been
spoken by Bismarck. Every word, every act of his public career, gives
us the impression of a man irresistibly driven on by some
overwhelming, mysterious power. He was not an ambitious schemer, like
Beaconsfield or Napoleon; he was not a moral enthusiast like Gladstone
or Cavour. If he had consulted his private tastes and inclinations, he
would never have wielded the destinies of an empire. Indeed, he often
rebelled against his task; again and again he tried to shake it off;
and the only thing which again and again brought him back to it was
the feeling, "I must; I cannot do otherwise." If ever there was a man
in whom Fate revealed its moral sovereignty, that man was Bismarck.

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.)


_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 of everything--even of every thought and volition of
mine--and so in a sense offers prayers to himself through me, or, if
my will is independent of God's will, it implies arrogance and a doubt
as to the inflexibility as well as the perfection of the divine
determination to believe that it can be influenced by human appeals.
When not quite seventeen years old I went to Goettingen University.
During the next eight years I seldom saw the home of my parents; my
father indulgently refrained from interference; my mother censured me
from far away when I neglected my studies and professional work,
probably in the conviction that she must leave the rest to guidance
from above: with this exception I was literally cut off from the
counsel and instruction of others. In this period, when studies which
ambition at times led me to prosecute zealously--or emptiness and
satiety, the inevitable companions of my way of living--brought me
nearer to the real meaning of life and eternity, it was in old-world
philosophies, uncomprehended writings of Hegel, and particularly in
Spinoza's seeming mathematical clearness, that I sought for peace of
mind in that which the human understanding cannot comprehend. But it
was loneliness that first led me to reflect on these things
persistently, when I went to Kniephof, after my mother's death, five
or six years ago. Though at first my views did not materially change
at Kniephof, yet conscience began to be more audible in the solitude,
and to represent that many a thing was wrong which I had before
regarded as permissible. Yet my struggle for insight was still
confined to the circle of the understanding, and led me, while reading
such writings as those of Strauss, Feuerbach, and Bruno Bauer, only
deeper into the blind alley of doubt.

I was firmly convinced that God has denied to man the possibility of
true knowledge; that it is presumption to claim to understand the will
and plans of the Lord of the World; that the individual must await in
submission the judgment that his Creator will pass upon him in death,
and that the will of God becomes known to us on earth solely through
conscience, which He has given us as a special organ for feeling our
way through the gloom of the world. That I found no peace in these
views I need not say. Many an hour have I spent in disconsolate
depression, thinking that my existence and that of others is
purposeless and unprofitable--perchance only a casual product of
creation, coming and going like dust from rolling wheels.

About four years ago I came into close companionship, for the first
time since my school-days, with Moritz Blankenburg, and found in him,
what I had never had till then in my life, a friend; but the warm zeal
of his love strove in vain to give me by persuasion and discussion
what I lacked--faith. But through Moritz I made acquaintance with the
Triglaf family and the social circle around it, and found in it people
who made me ashamed that, with the scanty light of my understanding, I
had undertaken to investigate things which such superior intellects
accepted as true and holy with childlike trust. I saw that the members
of this circle were, in their outward life, almost perfect models of
what I wished to be. That confidence and peace dwelt in them did not
surprise me, for I had never doubted that these were companions of
belief; but belief cannot be had for the asking, and I thought I must
wait submissively to see whether it would come to me. I soon felt at
home in that circle, and was conscious of a satisfaction that I had
not before experienced--a family life that included me, almost a home.

I was meanwhile brought into contact with certain events in which I
was not an active participant, and which, as other people's secrets, I
cannot communicate to you, but which stirred me deeply. Their
practical result was that the consciousness of the shallowness and
worthlessness of my aim in life became more vivid than ever. Through
the advice of others, and through my own impulse, I was brought to the
point of reading the Scriptures more consecutively and with resolute
restraint, sometimes, of my own judgment. That which stirred within me
came to life when the news of the fatal illness of our late friend in
Cardemin tore the first ardent prayer from my heart, without subtle
questionings as to its reasonableness. God did not grant my prayer on
that occasion; neither did He utterly reject it, for I have never
again lost the capacity to bring my requests to Him, and I feel within
me, if not peace, at least confidence and courage such as I never knew

I do not know what value you will attach to this emotion, which my
heart has felt for only two months; I only hope that it may not be
lost, whatever your decision in regard to me may be--a hope of which I
could give you no better assurance than by undeviating frankness and
loyalty in that which I have now disclosed to you, and to no one else
hitherto, with the conviction that God favors the sincere.

I refrain from any assurance of my feelings and purposes with
reference to your daughter, for the step I am taking speaks of them
louder and more eloquently than words can. So, too, no promises for
the future would be of service to you, since you know the
untrustworthiness of the human heart better than I, and the only
security I offer for the welfare of your daughter lies in my prayer
for God's blessing. As a matter of history I would only observe that,
after I had seen fraeulein Johanna repeatedly in Cardemin, after the
trip we made together this summer, I have only been in doubt as to
whether the attainment of my desires would be reconcilable with the
happiness and peace of your daughter, and whether my self-confidence
was not greater than my ability when I believed that she could find in
me what she would have a right to look for in her husband. Very
recently, however, together with my reliance on God's grace, the
resolution which I now carry out has also become fixed in me, and I
kept silent when I saw you in Zimmerhausen only because I had more to
say than I could express in conversation. In view of the importance of
the matter and the great sacrifice which it will involve for you and
your wife in separation from your daughter, I can scarcely hope that
you will give a favorable decision at once, and only beg that you will
not refuse me an opportunity for explanation upon any considerations
which might dispose you to reject my suit, before you utter a positive

There is doubtless a great deal that I have not said, or not said
fully enough, in this letter, and I am, of course, ready to give you
exact and faithful information as to everything you may desire to
know; I think I have told what is most important.

I beg you to convey to your wife my respectful compliments, and to
accept kindly the assurance of my love and esteem.


Schoenhausen, February 1, '47.

I had only waited for daylight to write you, my dear heart, and with
the light came your little green spirit-lamp to make my lukewarm water
seethe--though this time it found it ready to boil over. Your pity for
my restless nights at present is premature, but I shall give you
credit for it. The Elbe still lies turbid and growling in her
ice-bonds: the spring's summons to burst them is not yet loud enough
for her. I say to the weather: "If you would only be cold or warm! But
you stay continually at freezing-point, and at this rate the matter
may long drag on." For the present my activity is limited to sending
out, far and wide, from the warm seat at the writing-table, diverse
conjurations, whose magic starts quantities of fascines, boards,
wheelbarrows, etc., from inland towards the Elbe, perchance to serve
as a prosaic dam in restraint of the poetical foaming of the flood.
After I had spent the morning in this useful rather than agreeable
correspondence, my resolve was to chat away comfortably through the
evening with you, beloved one, as though we were sitting on the sofa
in the red drawing-room; and with sympathetic attention to my desire
the mail kept for my enjoyment precisely at this gossiping hour your
letter, which I should have received by good rights day before
yesterday. You know, if you were able to decipher my inexcusably
scrawled note [3] from Schlawe, how I struck a half-drunken crowd of
hussar officers there, who disturbed me in my writing. In the train
I had, with my usual bad luck, a lady _vis-a-vis,_ and beside me two
very stout, heavily fur-clad passengers, the nearer of whom was a
direct descendant of Abraham into the bargain, and put me in a bitter
humor against all his race by a disagreeable movement of his left

I found my brother in his dressing-gown, and he employed the five
minutes of our interview very completely, according to his habit, in
emptying a woolsack full of vexatious news about Kniephof before me:
disorderly inspectors, a lot of damaged sheep, distillers drunk every
day, thoroughbred colts (the prettiest, of course) come to grief, and
rotten potatoes, fell in a rolling torrent from his obligingly opened
mouth upon my somewhat travel-worn self. On my brother's account I
must affect and utter some exclamations of terror and complaint, for
my indifferent manner on receiving news of misfortune vexes him, and
as long as I do not express surprise he has ever new and still worse
news in stock. This time he attained his object, at least in my inner
man, and when I took my seat next to the Jewish elbow in green fur I
was in a right bad humor; especially the colt distressed me--an animal
as pretty as a picture and three years old.

Not before getting out of doors did I become conscious of the
ingratitude of my heart, and the thought of the unmerited happiness
that had become mine a fortnight earlier again won the mastery in me.
In Stettin I found drinking, gambling friends. William Ramin took
occasion to say, _apropos_ of a remark about reading the Bible, "Tut!
In Reinfeld I'd speak like that, too, if I were in your place, but to
believe you can impose on your oldest acquaintances is amusing." I
found my sister very well and full of joy about you and me. She wrote
to you, I think, before she received your letter. Arnim is full of
anxiety lest I become "pious." He kept looking at me all the time
earnestly and thoughtfully, with sympathetic concern, as one looks at
a dear friend whom one would like to save and yet almost gives up for
lost. I have seldom seen him so tender. Very clever people have a
curious manner of viewing the world. In the evening (I hope you did
not write so late) I drank your health in the foaming grape-juice of
Sillery, in company with half a dozen Silesian counts, Schaffgotsch
and others, at the Hotel de Rome, and convinced myself Friday morning
that the ice on the Elbe was still strong enough to bear my horse's
weight, and that, so far as the freshet was concerned, I might today
be still at your blue or black side[4] if other current official
engagements had not also claimed my presence. Snow has fallen very
industriously all day long, and the country is white once more,
without severe cold. When I arrived it was all free from snow on this
side of Brandenburg; the air was warm and the people were ploughing;
it was as though I had traveled out of winter into opening spring, and
yet within me the short springtime had changed to winter, for the
nearer I came to Schoenhausen the more oppressive I found the thought
of entering upon the old loneliness once more, for who knows how long.
Pictures of a wasted past arose in me as though they would banish me
from you. I was on the verge of tears, as when, after a school
vacation, I caught sight of Berlin's towers from the train.

The comparison of my situation with that in which I was on the 10th,
when I traveled the same line in the opposite direction; the
conviction that my solitude was, strictly speaking, voluntary, and
that I could at any time, albeit through a resolve smacking of
insubordination and a forty hours' journey, put an end to it, made me
see once more that my heart is ungrateful, dismayed, and resentful;
for soon I said to myself, in the comfortable fashion of the accepted
lover, that even here I am no longer lonely, and I was happy in the
consciousness of being loved by you, my angel, and, in return for the
gift of your love, of belonging to you, not merely in vassalage, but
with my inmost heart. On reaching the village I felt more distinctly
than ever before what a beautiful thing it is to have a home--a home
with which one is identified by birth, memory, and love. The sun shone
bright on the stately houses of the villagers, and their portly
inmates in long coats and the gayly dressed women in short skirts gave
me a much more friendly greeting than usual; on every face there
seemed to be a wish for my happiness, which I invariably converted
into thanks to you. Gray-haired Bellin's[5] fat face wore a broad
smile, and the trusty old soul shed tears as he patted me paternally
on the back and expressed his satisfaction; his wife, of course, wept
most violently; even Odin was more demonstrative than usual, and his
paw on my coat-collar proved incontestably that it was muddy weather.
Half an hour later Miss Breeze was galloping with me on the Elbe,
manifestly proud to carry your affianced, for never before did she so
scornfully smite the earth with her hoof. Fortunately you cannot
judge, my heart, in what a mood of dreary dulness I used to reenter my
house after a journey; what depression overmastered me when the door
of my room yawned at me and the mute furniture in the silent
apartments confronted me, bored like myself. The emptiness of my
existence was never clearer to me than in such moments, until I seized
a book--though none of them was sad enough for me--or mechanically
engaged in any routine work.

My preference was to come home at night, so that I could go to sleep
immediately.[6] Ach, Gott!--and now? What a different view I take of
everything--not merely that which concerns you as well, and because it
concerns you, or will concern you also (although I have been bothering
myself for two days with the question where your writing-desk will
stand), but my whole view of life is a new one, and I am cheerful and
interested even in my work on the dike and police matters. This
change, this new life, I owe, next to God, to you, _ma tres chere, mon
adoree Jeanneton_--to you who do not heat me occasionally, like an
alcohol flame, but work in my heart like warming fire. Some one is

Visit from the co-director, who complains of the people who will not
pay their school taxes. The man asks me whether my _fiancee_ is tall.

"Oh yes; rather."

"Well, an acquaintance of mine saw you last summer with several ladies
in the Harz Mountains, and you preferred to converse with the tallest,
that must have been your _fiancee_."

The tallest woman in your party was, I fancy, Frau von Mittelstaedt.
* * * The Harz! The Harz!

After a thorough consultation with Frau Bellin, I have decided to make
no special changes here for the present, but to wait until we can hear
the wishes of the lady of the house in the matter, so that we may have
nothing to be sorry for. In six months I hope we shall know what we
have to do.

It is impossible as yet to say anything definite about our next meeting.
Just now it is raining; if that continues the Elbe may be played out in
a week or two, and then. * * * Still no news whatever about the Landtag.
Most cordial greetings and assurances of my love to your parents, and
the former--the latter, too, if you like--to all your cousins, women
friends, etc. What have you done with Aennchen?[7] My forgetting the
Versin letters disturbs me; I did not mean to make such a bad job of it.
Have they been found Farewell, my treasure, my heart, consolation of my

Your faithful BISMARCK.

Another picture, a description of a storm in the Alps, which catches
my eye as I turn over the pages of the book, and pleases me much:

"The sky is changed, and such a change! O night,
And storm, and darkness, ye are wondrous strong,
Yet lovely in your strength, as is the light
Of a dark eye in woman! Far along
From peak to peak, the rattling crags among,
Leaps the live thunder; not from one lone cloud,
But every mountain now has found a tongue,
And Jura answers through her misty shroud--
Back to the joyous Alps, who call to her aloud.

And this is in the night:--most glorious night!
Thou wert not sent for slumber! let me be
A sharer in thy fierce and fair delight--
A portion of the tempest and of thee!
How the lit lake shines, a phosphoric sea,
And the big rain comes dancing to the earth!
And now again 'tis black, and now the glee
Of the loud hills shakes with its mountain-mirth,
As if they did rejoice o'er a young earthquake's birth."

On such a night the suggestion comes uncommonly near to me that I wish
to be _a sharer in the delight, a portion of tempest, of night_;[8]
mounted on a runaway horse, to dash down the cliffs into the falls of
the Rhine, or something similar. A pleasure of that kind,
unfortunately, one can enjoy but once in this life. There is something
intoxicating in nocturnal storms. Your nights, dearest, I hope you
regard, however, as _sent for slumber, not for writing_.[9] I see with
regret that I write English still more illegibly than German. Once
more, farewell, my heart. Tomorrow noon I am invited to be the guest
of Frau Brauchitsch, presumably so that I may be duly and thoroughly
questioned about you and yours. I'll tell them as much as I please.
_Je t'embrasse mille fois._

Your own


Schoenhausen, February 7, '47.

_My Heart_,--Just returned through a wild, drifting snow-storm from an
appointment (which unfortunately was occasioned by the burning out of a
poor family). I have warmed myself at your dear letter; in the twilight,
even, I recognized your "Right honorable." All my limbs are twitching
with eagerness to be off to Berlin again today, and to characterize the
dikes and floods in terms of the unutterable Poberow[10] dialect. The
inexorable thermometer stands at 2 below freezing-point, accompanied
with howling wind and large flakes, as though it would soon rain. What
is duty! Compare Falstaff's expressions touching honor. At any rate, I
shall write you straightway, even if I ruin myself in postage, and no
sensible thoughts find their way through the debris of the fire that
still has possession of my imagination. After reading your last remark I
have just lit my cigar and stirred the ink. First, like a business-man,
to answer your letter. I begin with a request smacking of the official
desk--namely, that when you write you will, if you please, expressly
state what letters you have received from me, giving their dates;
otherwise one is uncertain as to the regular forwarding of them, as I am
in doubt whether you have received my first letter, which I wrote the
day of my arrival here, while on a business trip, in Jerichow, if I
mistake not, on very bad paper, Friday, the 29th of January. I am very
thankful that you do not write in the evening, my love, even if I am
myself to suffer thereby. Every future glance into your gray-blue-black
eye with its large pupil will compensate me for possibly delayed or
shortened letters.

If I could only dream of you when you do of me! But recently I do not
dream at all--shockingly healthy and prosaic; or does my soul fly to
Reinfeld in the night and associate with yours? In that case it can
certainly not dream here; but it ought to tell about its journey in
the morning, whereas the wayward thing is as silent about its
nocturnal employments as though it, too, slept like a badger.

Your reminder of the bore, Fritz, with the letter-pouch transports me
to Reinfeld and makes me long still more eagerly for the time when I
can once again hug my black Jeannette for my good-morning at the desk.
About the letter with the strange address, _evidently_ in a woman's
hand, I should like to tell you a romantic story, but I must destroy
every illusion with the explanation that it comes from a man who used
to be a friend of mine, who, if I do not mistake, once in Kniephof
took a copy of an Italian address that I received. Again a curtain
behind which one fancies there is all the poetry in the world, and
finds the flattest prose. (I once saw in Aix-la-Chapelle, while
strolling about the stage, the Princess of Eboli, after I had just
spent my sympathy upon her as she lay overwhelmed and fainting at the
queen's feet in one of the scenes, eating bread and butter and
cracking bad jokes behind the scenes.) That cousin Woedtke is fond of
me, and that the Versin sausage and letter affair is all right, I am
glad to learn.

I need not assure you that I have the most heartfelt sympathy for the
sufferings of your good mother; I hope rest and summer will affect her
health favorably, and that she will recover after a while, with the
joy of seeing her children happy. When she is here she shall not have
any steps to go up to reach you, and shall live directly next to you.

Why do you wear mournful black in dress and heart, my angel?
Cultivate the green of hope that today made right joyous revelry in me
at sight of its external image, when the gardener placed the first
messengers of spring, hyacinths and crocus, on my window-ledge. _Et
dis-moi donc, pourquoi es-tu paresseuse? Pourquoi ne fais-tu pas de
musique?_ I fancied you playing _c-dur_ when the hollow, melting wind
howls through the dry twigs of the lindens, and _d-moll_ when the
snow-flakes chase in fantastic whirls around the corners of the old
tower, and, after their desperation is spent, cover the graves with
their winding-sheet. Oh, were I but Keudell, I'd play now all day
long, and the tones would bear me over the Oder, Rega, Persante,
Wipper--I know not whither. _A propos de paresse_, I am going to
permit myself to make one more request of you, but with a preface.
When I ask you for anything I add (do not take it for blasphemy or
mockery) thy will be done--_your_ will, I mean; and I do not love you
less, nor am I vexed with you for a second if you do not fulfil my
request. I love you as you are, and as you choose to be. After I have,
by way of preface, said so much with inmost, unadorned truth, without
hypocrisy or flattery, I beg you to pay some attention to French--not
much, but somewhat--by reading French things that interest you, and,
what is not clear to you, make it clear with the dictionary. If it
bores you, stop it; but, lest it bore you, try it with books that
interest you, whatever they may be--romances or anything else. I do
not know your mother's views on such reading, but in my opinion there
is nothing that you cannot read to yourself. I do not ask this for my
own sake, for we will understand each other in our mother tongue, but
in your intercourse with the world you will not seldom find occasions
when it will be disagreeable or even mortifying if you are unfamiliar
with French. I do not know, indeed, to what degree this is true of
you, but reading is in any case a way to keep what you have and to
acquire more. If it pleases you, we shall find a way for you to become
more fluent in talking, than, as you say, you are now. If you do not
like it, rely with entire confidence on the preface to my request.

I wrote to poor Moritz yesterday, and, after reading your description
of his sadness, my letter lies like a stone on my conscience, for,
like a heartless egotist, I mocked his pain by describing my
happiness, and in five pages did not refer to his mourning by even a
syllable, speaking of myself again and again, and using him as
father-confessor. He is an awkward comforter who does not himself feel
pain sympathetically, or not vividly enough. My first grief was the
passionate, selfish one at the loss I had sustained; for Marie,[11] so
far as she is concerned, I do not feel it, because I know that she is
well provided for, but that my sympathy with the suffering of my
warmest friend, to whom I owe eternal thanks, is not strong enough to
produce a word of comfort, of strong consolation from overflowing
feeling, that burdens me sorely. Weep not, my angel; let your sympathy
be strong and full of confidence in God; give him real consolation
with encouragement, not with tears, and, if you can, doubly, for
yourself and for your thankless friend whose heart is just now filled
with you and has room for nothing else. Are you a withered leaf, a
faded garment? I will see whether my love can foster the verdure once
more, can brighten up the colors. You must put forth fresh leaves, and
the old ones I shall lay between the pages of the book of my heart so
that we may find them when we read there, as tokens of fond
recollection. You have fanned to life again the coal that under ashes
and debris still glowed in me; it shall envelop you in life-giving

_Le souper est servi_, the evening is gone, and I have done nothing
but chat with you and smoke: is that not becoming employment for the
dike-captain? Why not?

A mysterious letter from ---- lies before me. He writes in a tone new
for him; admits that he perceives that he did many a wrong to his first
wife; did not always rightly guide and bear with her weakness; was no
prop to the "child," and believes himself absolved by this severe
castigation. _Qu'est-ce qu'il me chante_? Has the letter undergone
transformation in the Christian climate of Reinfeld, or did it leave the
hand of this once shallow buffoon in its present form? He asserts,
moreover, that he lives in a never dreamed of happiness with his present
wife, whose acquaintance he made a week before the engagement, and whom
he married six weeks after the same event: a happiness which his first
marriage has taught him rightly to prize. Do you know the story of the
French tiler who falls from the roof, and, in passing the second story,
cries out, "_Ca va bien, pourvu que ca dure_?" Think, only, if we had
been betrothed on the 12th of October '44, and, on November 23d, had
married: What anxiety for mamma!

The English poems of mortal misery trouble me no more now; that was of
old, when I looked out into nothing--cold and stiff, snow-drifts in my
heart. Now a black cat plays with it in the sunshine, as though with a
rolling skein, and I like to see its rolling. I will give you, at the
end of this letter, a few more verses belonging to that period, of
which fragmentary copies are still preserved, as I see, in my
portfolio. You may allow me to read them still; they harm me no more.
_Thine eyes have still (and will always have) a charm for me_.[12]
Please write me in your next letter about the uncertain
marriage-plans. I believe, _by Jove!_[12] that the matter is becoming
serious. Until the day is fixed, it still seems to me as though we had
been dreaming; or have I really passed a fortnight in Reinfeld, and
held you in these arms of mine? Has Finette been found again? Do you
remember our conversation when we went out with her in leash--when
you, little rogue, said you would have "given me the mitten" had not
God taken pity on me and permitted me at least a peep through the
keyhole of His door of mercy! That came into my mind when I was
reading I Cor. vii. 13 and 14 yesterday.


A commentator says of the passage that, in all relations of life,
Christ regards the kingdom of God as the more powerful, victorious,
finally overcoming all opposition, and the kingdom of darkness as
powerless, falling in ruins ever more and more. Yet, how do most
of you have so little confidence in your faith, and wrap it carefully
in the cotton of isolation, lest it take cold from any draught of
the world; while others are vexed with you, and proclaim that you
are people who esteem yourselves too holy to come into contact
with publicans, etc. If every one should think so who believes he
has found truth--and many serious, upright, humble seekers do believe
they find it elsewhere, or in another form--what a Pennsylvania
solitary-confinement prison would God's beautiful earth become,
divided up into thousands and thousands of exclusive coteries by
insuperable partitions! Compare, also, Rom. xiv. 22 and xv. 2; also,
particularly, I Cor. iv. 5; viii. 2; ix. 20; also xii. 4 and the
following; further, xiii. 2; all in the First Ep. to the Cor., which
seems to me to apply to the subject. We talked, during that walk, or
another one, a great deal about "the sanctity of doing good works." I
will not inundate you with Scripture passages in this connection, but
only tell you how splendid I find the Epistle of James. (Matt. xxv. 34
and following; Rom. ii. 6; II Cor. v. 10; Rom. ii. 13; I Epistle of
John iii. 7, and countless others.) It is, indeed, unprofitable to
base arguments upon separate passages of Scripture apart from their
connection; but there are many who are honestly striving, and who
attach more importance to passages like James ii. 14 than to Mark xvi.
16, and for the latter passage offer expositions, holding them to be
correct, which do not literally agree with yours. To what
interpretation does the word "faith" not lend itself, both when taken
alone and in connection with that which the Scriptures command us "to
believe," in every single instance where they employ the word! Against
my will, I fall into spiritual discussion and controversies. Among
Catholics the Bible is read not at all, or with great precaution, by
the laity; it is expounded only by the priests, who have concerned
themselves all their lives with the study of the original sources. In
the end, all depends upon the interpretation. Concert in Buetow amuses
me: the idea of Buetow is, to my mind, the opposite of all music.

I have been quite garrulous, have I not? Now I must disturb some
document-dust, and sharpen my pen afresh to the police-official style,
for the president of the provincial court and the government. Could I
but enclose myself herewith, or go along in a salmon-basket as
mail-matter! Till we meet again, _dearest black one_.[13] I love you,
_c'est tout dire_.


(I am forgetting the English verses):

"Sad dreams, as when the spirit of our youth
Returns in sleep, sparkling with all the truth
And innocence, once ours, and leads us back
In mournful mockery over the shining track
Of our young life, and points out every ray
Of hope and peace we've lost upon the way!"

By Moore, I think; perhaps Byron.

"Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing."

Cordial remembrances to your parents and the Reddentin folk.

Schoenhausen, February 23, '47.

_My Angel!_--I shall not send this letter on its way tomorrow, it's
true, but I do want to make use of the few unoccupied minutes left me
to satisfy the need I am conscious of every hour, to communicate with
you, and forthwith to compose a "Sunday letter" to you once more.
Today I have been "on the move" all day long. "The Moorish king rode
up and down," unfortunately not "through Granada's royal town," but
between Havelberg and Jerichow, on foot, in a carriage, and on
horseback, and got mighty cold doing so--because, after the warm
weather of the last few days, I had not made the slightest preparation
to encounter five degrees below freezing, with a cutting north wind,
and was too much in haste or too lazy to mount the stairs again when I
noticed the fresh air. During the night it had been quite endurable
and superb moonlight. A beautiful spectacle it was, too, when the
great fields of ice first set themselves massively in motion, with
explosions like cannon-shots, shattering themselves against one
another; they rear, shoving over and under each other; they pile up
house-high, and sometimes build dams obliquely across the Elbe, in
front of which the pent stream rises until it breaks through them with
rage. Now are they all broken to pieces in the battle--the giants--and
the water very thickly covered with ice-cakes, the largest of which
measure several square rods, which it bears out to the free sea like
shattered chains, with grumbling, clashing noises. This will go on so
for about three days more, until the ice that comes from Bohemia,
which passed the bridge at Dresden several days ago, has gone by. (The
danger is that the ice-cakes by jamming together may make a dam, and
the stream rise in front of this--often ten to fifteen feet in a few
hours.) Then comes the freshet from the mountains which floods the bed
of the Elbe, often a mile in width, and is dangerous in itself, owing
to its volume. How long that is to last we cannot tell beforehand. The
prevailing cold weather, combined with the contrary sea wind, will
certainly retard it. It may easily last so long that it will not be
worth while to go to Reinfeld before the 20th. If only eight days
should be left me, would you have me undertake it, nevertheless?--or
will you wait to have me without interruption after the 20th, or
perhaps 18th? It is true that _fiance_ and dike-captain are almost
incompatible; but were I not the latter, I have not the slightest idea
who would be. The revenues of the office are small, and the duties
sometimes laborious; the gentlemen of the neighborhood, however, are
deeply concerned, and yet without public spirit. And even if one
should be discovered who would undertake it for the sake of the title,
which is, strange to say, much desired in these parts, yet there is no
one here (may God forgive me the offence) who would not be either
unfit for the business or faint-hearted. A fine opinion, you will
think, I have of myself, that I only am none of this; but I assert
with all of my native modesty that I have all these faults in less
degree than the others in this part of the country--which is, in fact,
not saying much.

I have not yet been able to write to Moritz, and yet I must send
something to which he can reply, inasmuch as my former letter has not
as yet brought a sign of life. Or have you crowded me out of his
heart, and do you fill it alone? The little pale-faced child is not in
danger, I hope. That is a possibility in view of which I am terrified
whenever I think of it--that as a crowning misfortune of our most
afflicted friend, this thread of connection with Marie might be
severed. But she will soon be a year and a half old, you know; she has
passed the most dangerous period for children. Will you mope and talk
of warm hands and cold love if I pay a visit to Moritz on my next
journey, instead of flying to Reinfeld without a pause as is required
of a loving youth?

That you are getting pale, my heart, distresses me. Do you feel well
otherwise, physically, and of good courage? Give me a bulletin of your
condition, your appetite, your sleep. I am surprised also that Hedwig
Dewitz has written to you--such a heterogeneous nature, that can have
so little in common with you. She was educated with my sister for
several years in Kniephof, although she was four or five years the
elder of the two. Either she loves you--which I should find quite easy
to explain--or has other prosaic intentions. I fancy that she, as is
quite natural, does not feel at home in her father's house; she has,
therefore, always made her home with others for long periods and with

In your letter which lies before me I come upon "self-control" again.
That is a fine acquisition for one who may profit by it, but surely to
be distinguished from compulsion. It is praiseworthy and amiable to
wean one's self from tasteless or provoking outbursts of feeling, or
to give to them a more ingratiating form; but I call it
self-constraint--which makes one sick at heart--when one stifles his
own feelings in himself. In social intercourse one may practise it,
but not we two between ourselves. If there be tares in the field of
our heart, we will mutually exert ourselves so to dispose of them that
their seed cannot spring up; but, if it does, we will openly pull it
up, but not cover it artificially with straw and hide it--that harms
the wheat and does not injure the tares. Your thought was, I take it,
to pull them up unaided, without paining me by the sight of them; but
let us be in this also one heart and one flesh, even if your little
thistles sometimes prick my fingers. Do not turn your back on them nor
conceal them from me. You will not always take pleasure in my big
thorns, either--so big that I cannot hide them; and we must pull at
them both together, even though our hands bleed. Moreover, thorns
sometimes bear very lovely flowers, and if yours bear roses we may
perhaps let them alone sometimes. "The best is foe to the good"--in
general, a very true saying; so do not have too many misgivings about
all your tares, which I have not yet discovered, and leave at least a
sample of them for me. With this exhortation, so full of unction, I
will go to sleep, although it has just struck ten, for last night
there was little of it; the unaccustomed physical exercise has used me
up a bit, and tomorrow I am to be in the saddle again before daylight.
Very, very tired am I, like a child.

Schoenhausen, March 14, 1847.

_Jeanne la Mechante!_--What is the meaning of this? A whole week has
passed since I heard a syllable from you, and today I seized the
confused mass of letters with genuine impatience--seven official
communications, a bill, two invitations, one of which is for a theatre
and ball at Greifenberg, but not a trace of Zuckers (the Reinfeld
post-office) and "Hochwohlgeboren." [14] I could not believe my eyes, and
had to look through the letters twice; then I set my hat quite on my
right ear and took a two hours' walk on the highway in the rain, without
a cigar, assailed by the most conflicting sentiments--"a prey to violent
emotions," as we are accustomed to say in romances. I have got used to
receiving my two letters from you regularly every week, and when once we
have acquired the habit of a thing we look upon that as our well-won
right, an injury to which enrages us. If I only knew against whom I
should direct my wrath--against Boege, against the post-office, or
against you, _la chatte la plus noire_, inside and out. And why don't
you write? Are you so exhausted with the effort you made in sending two
letters at a time on Friday of last week? Ten days have gone by since
then--time enough to rest yourself. Or do you want to let me writhe,
while you feast your eyes on my anxiety, tigress! after speaking to me
in your last letters about scarlet and nervous fevers, and after I had
laid such stress on my maxim of never believing in anything bad before
it forces itself upon me as incontestable? We adhere firmly to our
maxims only so long as they are not put to the test; when that happens
we throw them away, as the peasant did his slippers, and run off on the
legs that nature gave us. If you have the disposition to try the virtue
of my maxims, then I shall never again give utterance to any of them,
lest I be caught lying; for the fact is that I do really feel somewhat
anxious. With fevers in Reddis, to let ten days pass without writing is
very horrible of you, if you are well. Or can it be that you did not
receive on Thursday, as usual, my letter that I mailed on Tuesday in
Magdeburg, and, in your indignation at this, resolved not to write to me
for another week? If _that_ is the state of affairs, I can't yet make up
my mind whether to scold or laugh at you. The worst of it now is that,
unless some lucky chance brings a letter from you directly to Stolp, I
shall not have any before Thursday, for, as I remember it, there is no
mail leaving you Saturday and Sunday, and I should have received
Friday's today. If you have not sworn off writing altogether and wish to
reply to this letter, address me at Naugard. * * *

Had another visitor, and he stayed to supper and well into the
night--my neighbor, the town-counsellor Gaertner. People think they
must call on each other Sunday evening, and can have nothing else to
do. Now that all is quiet in the night, I am really quite disturbed
about you and your silence, and my imagination, or, if not that, then
the being whom you do not like to have me name, shows me with scornful
zeal pictures of everything that _could_ happen. Johanna, if you were
to fall sick now, it would be terrible beyond description. At the
thought of it, I fully realize how deeply I love you, and how deeply
the bond that unites us has grown into me. I understand what you call
loving much. When I think of the possibility of separation--and
possible it is still--I should never have been so lonely in all my
dreary, lonely life.

What would Moritz's situation be, compared with that?--for he has a
child, a father, a sister, dear and intimate friends in the
neighborhood. I have no one within forty miles with whom I should be
tempted to talk more than that which politeness demands; only a
sister--but a happily married one with children is really one no
longer, at least for a brother who is single. For the first time I am
looking the possibility straight in the eyes that you might be taken
away from me, that I might be condemned to inhabit these empty rooms
without a prospect of your sharing them with me, with not a soul in
all the surrounding region who would not be as indifferent to me as
though I had never seen him. I should, indeed, not be so devoid to
comfort in myself as of old, but I should also have lost something
that I used not to know--a loving and beloved heart, and at the same
time be separated from all that which used to make life easy in
Pomerania through habit and friendship. A very egotistical line of
thought and way of looking at things this discloses, you will say.
Certainly, but Pain and Fear are egotists, and, in cases like that
referred to, I never think the deceased, but only the survivors, are
to be pitied. But who speaks of dying? All this because you have not
written for a week; and then I have the assurance to lecture you for
gloomy forebodings, etc.! If you had only not spoken of the deadly
fevers in your last letter. In the evening I am always excited, in the
loneliness, when I am not tired. Tomorrow, in bright daylight, in the
railway carriage, I shall perhaps grasp your possible situation with
greater confidence.

Be rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing instant in
prayer. All the angels will guard you, my beloved heart, so that we
shall soon meet again with joy. Farewell, and salute your parents. I
wrote your father this morning. Your faithful BISMARCK.

Berlin, Friday, May 15, '47.

_Dear Heart_,--Your father gave me your letter this morning at the
session, and in consequence I hardly know what subject was discussed,
or, at least, lacked energy to form a clear, conscious conception of
it. My thoughts were in Reinfeld and my heart full to overflowing of
care. I am submissive in all that may happen, but I cannot say that I
should be submissive with gladness. The chords of my soul become
relaxed and toneless when I think of all possibilities. I am not,
indeed, of that self-afflicting sort that carefully and artfully
destroys its own hope and constructs fear, and I do not believe that
it is God's will to separate us now--for every reason I cannot believe
it; but I know that you are suffering, and I am not with you, and yet
if I were there, I could perhaps contribute something to your
tranquillity, to your serenity, were it only that I should ride with
you--for you have no one else for that. It is so contrary to all my
views of gallantry, not to speak of my sentiments for you, that any
power whatever should keep me here when I know that you are suffering
and I could help and relieve you; and I am still at war with myself to
determine what my duty is before God and man. If I am not sooner
there, then it is fairly certain that I shall arrive in Reinfeld with
your father at Whitsuntide, probably a week from tomorrow. The cause
of your illness may lie deeper, or perhaps it is only that the odious
Spanish flies have affected you too powerfully. Who is this second
doctor you have called in? The frequent changing of doctors, and, on
one's own authority, using between-times all sorts of household
remedies, or remedies prescribed for others, I consider very bad and
wrong. Choose one of the local doctors in whom you have the most
confidence, but keep to him, too; do what he prescribes and nothing
else, nothing arbitrary; and, if you have not confidence in any of the
local men, we will both try to carry through the plan of bringing you
here, so that you may have thorough treatment under the direction of
Breiers, or some one else. The conduct of your parents in regard to
medical assistance, the obstinate refusal of your father, and, allied
to that, your mother's arbitrary changing and fixed prejudices, in
matters which neither of them understand, seem to me, between
ourselves, indefensible. He to whom God has intrusted a child, and an
only child at that, must employ for her preservation all the means
that God has made available, and not become careless of them through
fatalism or self-sufficiency. If writing tires you, ask your mother to
send us news. Moreover, it would seem to me very desirable if one of
your friends could be prevailed upon to go to you until you are
better. Whether a doctor can help you or not--forgive me, but you
cannot judge of that by your feelings. God's help is certainly
decisive, but it is just He who has given us medicine and physician
that, through them, His aid may reach us; and to decline it in this
form is to tempt Him, as though the sailor at sea should deprive
himself of a helmsman, with the idea that God alone can and will give
aid. If He does _not_ help us through the means He has placed within
our reach, then there is nothing left to do but to bow in silence
under His hand. If you should be able to come to Zimmerhausen after
Whitsuntide, please write to that effect beforehand if possible. If
your illness should become more serious, I shall certainly leave the
Landtag, and even if you are confined to your bed I shall be with you.
At such a moment I shall not let myself be restrained by such
questions of etiquette--that is my fixed resolve. You may be sure of
this, that I have long been helping you pray that the Lord may free
you from useless despondency and bestow upon you a heart cheerful and
submissive to God--and upon me, also; and I have the firm confidence
that He will grant our requests and guide us both in the paths that
lead to Him. Even though yours may often go to the left around the
mountain, and mine to the right, yet they will meet beyond.

The salt water has already gone from here. If you are too weak for
riding, then take a drive every day. When you are writing to me, and
begin to feel badly in the least, stop immediately; give me only a
short bulletin of your health, even if it is but three lines, for,
thank Heaven, words can be dispensed with between us--they cannot add
or take away anything, since our hearts look into each other, eye to
eye, to the very bottom, and though here and there, behind a fold,
some new thing is discovered, a strange thing it is not. Dear heart,
what stuff you talk (excuse my rudeness) when you say I must not come
if I would rather stop in Zimmerhausen or Angermuende at Whitsuntide!
How can I take pleasure anywhere while I know that you are suffering,
and moreover, am uncertain in what degree? With us two it is a
question, not of amusing and entertaining, but only of loving and
being together, spiritually, and, if possible, corporeally; and if you
should lie speechless for four weeks--sleep, or something else--I
would be nowhere else, provided nothing but my wish were to decide. If
I could only "come to your door," I would still rather be there than
with my dear sister; and the sadder and sicker you are, so much the
more. But the door will not separate me from you, however ill you may
be. That is a situation in which the slave mutinies against his
mistress. * * *

Your faithful B.

Berlin, Tuesday Morning, May 18, '47.

_Dearest_,--The last letters from Reinfeld permit me to hope that your
illness is not so threatening at the moment as I feared from the first
news, although I am continually beset by all possible fears about you,
and thus am in a condition of rather complicated restlessness. * * *
My letter in which I told you of my election you have understood
somewhat, and your dear mother altogether, from a point of view
differing from that which was intended. I only wanted to make my
position exactly clear to you, and the apologies which to you seemed
perhaps forced, as I infer from your mother's letter, you may regard
as an entirely natural outflow of politeness. That I did not stand in
need of justification with you I very well know; but also that it must
affect us both painfully to see our fine plans cancelled. It was my
ardent wish to be a member of the Landtag; but that the Landtag and
you are fifty miles apart distressed me in spite of the fulfilment of
my wish. You women are, and always will be, unaccountable, and it is
better to deal with you by word of mouth than by writing. * * * I have
ventured once or twice on the speaker's platform with a few words, and
yesterday raised an unheard-of storm of displeasure, in that, by a
remark which was not explained clearly enough touching the character
of the popular uprising of 1813, I wounded the mistaken vanity of many
of my own party, and naturally had all the halloo of the opposition
against me. The resentment was great, perhaps for the very reason that
I told the truth in applying to 1813 the sentence that any one (the
Prussian people) who has been thrashed by another (the French) until
he defends himself can make no claim of service towards a third person
(our King) for so doing. I was reproached with my youth and all sorts
of other things. Now I must go over before today's session to see
whether, in printing my words, they have not turned them into
nonsense. * * *

Yours forever, B.

Berlin, Friday, May 21, '47.

_Tres chere Jeanneton_,--When you receive this letter you will know
that I am not to visit you in the holidays. I shall not offer
"apologies," but reasons why it is not to be. I should miss certainly
four, and probably five, meetings of the estates, and, according to
the announcement we have received, the most important proceedings are
to be expected at the coming meetings. There it may depend upon one
vote, and it would be a bad thing if that were the vote of an
absentee; moreover, I have succeeded in acquiring some influence with
a great number, or, at least, with some delegates of the so-called
court party and the other ultra-conservatives from several provinces,
which I employ in restraining them so far as possible from bolting and
awkward shying, which I can do in the most unsuspected fashion when
once I have plainly expressed my inclination. Then, too, I have some
money affairs to arrange, for which I must make use of one of the
holidays. The Landtag will either be brought to a close on the 7th of
June--and in that case I should stay here until that date--or it will
continue in session until all the matters have been arranged, in which
event I should stay till after the decision of the important political
questions which are now imminent and shall be less conscientious about
all the insignificant petitions that follow after, and await their
discussion in Reinfeld. It will, besides, be pleasanter for you and
the mother not to have us both--the father and me--there at one time,
but relieving each other, so that you may be lonely for a shorter
time. * * * Your father will tell you how I stirred up the
hornet's-nest of the volunteers here lately, and the angry hornets
came buzzing to attack me; on the other hand, I had as compensation
that many of the older and more intelligent people drew near to
me--people I did not know at all--and assured me that I had said
nothing but the truth, and that was the very thing that had so
incensed the people. But I must take the field now; it is ten o'clock.
Please ask your father to write immediately about your health. I
should so much like to hear the opinion of another person besides your
mother. I am all right--only much excited. Farewell, and God guard

Yours altogether and forever, B.

Berlin, May 26, '47.

_Dearest_,-- * * * If I were only through with the Landtag and the
delivery of Kniephof, could embrace you in health, and retire with you
to a hunting-lodge in the heart of green forest and the mountains,
where I should see no human face but yours! That is my hourly dream;
the rattling wheel-work of political life is more obnoxious to my ears
every day.--Whether it is your absence, sickness, or my laziness, I
want to be alone with you in contemplative enthusiasm for nature. It
may be the spirit of contradiction, which always makes me long for
what I have not. And yet, I have you, you know, though not quite at
hand; and still I long for you. I proposed to your father that I
should go with him; we would immediately have our banns published and
be married, and both come here. An apartment for married people is
empty in this house, and here you could have had sensible physicians
and every mortal help. It seemed to him too unbecoming. To you, too?
It seems to me still the most sensible thing of all, if you are only
strong enough for the trip. If the Landtag should continue longer than
to the 6th of June--which I still hope it will not--let us look at the
plan more carefully. * * *

Your faithful B.

Schoenhausen, Friday, May 28, '47.

_My Poor Sick Kitten_,-- * * * In regard to your illness, your father's
letter has calmed my anxiety somewhat as to the danger, but yours was
so gloomy and depressed that it affected me decidedly. My dear heart,
such sadness as finds expression there is almost more than submission
to God's will: the latter cannot, in my opinion, be the cause of your
giving up the hope, I might say the wish, that you may be better,
physically, and experience God's blessing here on earth as long as may
be in accordance with His dispensation. You do not really mean it,
either--do you, now?--when, in a fit of melancholy, you say that
nothing whatever interests you genuinely, and you neither grieve nor
rejoice. That smacks of Byron, rather than of Christianity. You have
been sick so often in your life, and have recovered--have experienced
glad and sad hours afterwards; and the old God still lives who helped
you then. Your letter stirred in me more actively than ever the
longing to be at your side, to fondle you and talk with you. * * *

I do not agree with you in your opinion about July, and I would urge
you strongly, too, on this point to side with me against your parents.
When a wife, you are as likely to be sick as when a _fiancee_--and
will be often enough, later; so why not at the beginning, likewise? I
shall be with you as often as I am free from pressing engagements, so
whether we are together here or in Reinfeld makes no difference in the
matter. We do not mean to marry for bright days only: your ill-health
seems to me an utterly frivolous impediment. The provisional situation
we are now in is the worst possible for me. I scarcely know any longer
whether I am living in Schoenhausen, in Reinfeld, in Berlin, or on the
train. If you fall sick, I shall be a sluggard in Reinfeld all the
autumn, or however long our marriage would be postponed, and cannot
even associate with you quite unconstrainedly before the ceremony.
This matter of a betrothed couple seventy miles apart is not
defensible; and, especially when I know you are ailing, I shall take
the journey to see you, of course, as often as my public and private
affairs permit. It seems to me quite necessary to have the ceremony at
the time already appointed; otherwise I should be much distressed, and
I see no reason for it. Don't sell Brunette just now; you will ride
her again soon. I must be in Berlin at noon for a consultation about
plans for tomorrow. Farewell. God strengthen you for joy and hope.

Your most faithful B.

_Tomorrow I'll send you a hat_.[15]

Berlin, Sunday, May 30, '47.

_Tres Chere Jeanneton_,--Your letter of day before yesterday, which I
have just received, has given me profound pleasure and poured into me a
refreshing and more joyous essence: your happier love of life is shared
by me immediately. I shall begin by reassuring you about your gloomy
forebodings of Thursday evening. At the very time when you were
afflicted by them I was rejoicing in the happiness I had long missed, of
living once more in a comfortable Schoenhaus bed, after I had suffered
for weeks from the furnished-apartments couch in Berlin. I slept very
soundly, although with bad dreams--nightmares--which I ascribed to a
late and heavy dinner, inasmuch as the peaceful occupations of the
previous day--consisting in viewing many promising crops and well-fed
sheep, together with catching up with all sorts of police arrangements
relating to dike, fire, and roads--could not have occasioned them. You
see how little you can depend upon the maternal inheritance of
forebodings. Also in regard to the injurious effects of the Landtag
excitement upon my health, I can completely reassure you. I have
discovered what I needed--physical exercise--to offset mental
excitement and irregular diet. Yesterday I spent in Potsdam, to be
present at the water carnival--a lively picture. The great blue basins
of the Havel, with the splendid surroundings of castles, bridges,
churches, enlivened with several hundred gayly decorated boats, whose
occupants, elegantly dressed gentlemen and ladies, bombard one another
lavishly with bouquets when they can reach each other in passing or
drawing up alongside. The royal pair, the whole court, Potsdam's
fashionable people, and half of Berlin whirled in the skein of boats
merrily, pell-mell; royalists and liberals all threw dry or wet flowers
at the neighbor within reach. Three steamboats at anchor, with musical
choruses, constituted the centre of the ever-changing groups. I had the
opportunity to salute, hurriedly and with surprise, and throw flowers
at, many acquaintances whom I had not seen for a long time. My friend
Schaffgotsch is passionately fond of walking, and he was responsible for
our returning to the railway station on foot--a distance of almost three
miles--at such a pace as I had not kept up in a long while. After that I
slept splendidly until nine, and am in a state of physical equilibrium
today such as I have not enjoyed for some time. As the rather dusty
promenades in the Thiergarten do not give me enough of a shaking-up in
the time that I have available for that purpose, Mousquetaire will
arrive here tomorrow, so that he, with his lively gallop, may play the
counterpart to the tune that politics is dancing in my head. My plan
about Berlin and the wedding immediately, etc., was certainly somewhat
adventurous when you look at it in cold blood, but I hope there will be
no change from July. If I am to be tormented, as you say, with an
"unendurable, dispirited, nervous being," it is all the same in the end
whether this torment will be imposed upon me by my _fiancee_ or--forgive
the expression--by my wife. In either case I shall try to bear the
misfortune with philosophical steadfastness; for it is to be hoped that
it will not be so bad that I must dig deeper and seek Christian
consolation for it.

Your very faithful B.

Berlin, July 4, '47.

_Juaninina_,--Happily, I have left Schoenhausen behind me, and do not
expect to enter it again without you, _mon ange._ Only some business
matters detain me here, which I cannot attend to today because it is
Sunday; but I confidently anticipate starting for Angermuende tomorrow
at four, and accordingly, unless the very improbable event occurs that
I am detained outrageously in Kniephof, shall arrive in Schlawe on
Thursday. * * * Farewell, my heart. This is probably the last
post-marked paper that you will receive from your _Braeutigam_[16] (I
hate the expression). Our banns were cried today for the first time in
Schoenhausen. Does that not seem strange to you But I had learned your
given names so badly that I could mention only Johanna Eleonore: the
other six you must teach me better. Farewell, my heart. Many
salutations to the parents.

Your very faithful B.

_My Dear_,--I believe I can now reassure you most completely as to the
safety of the members of the Landtag. The Landtag was opened today,
_minus_ King and _minus_ cheers, with quite calm discussion. In a
few words I uttered my protest against the thanks and exultation that
were voted to the King, without hostilities becoming overt. Ten
thousand men of the city militia were posted for our protection, but
not even a slight disturbance occurred at the palace. I could be with
you tomorrow, as there is no session, if I had ordered a carriage
to meet me at Genthin this evening. But as the whole affair apparently
will come to an end this week, perhaps as early as Thursday, I was
too stingy to hire a carriage. Brauchitsch was taken violently ill
again last evening. * * * Give cordial remembrances to your mother, and
be of good courage. I am much calmer than I was: with Vincke one heart
and one soul.

Your faithful B.

April 2, '48, Sunday Evening.

I fear, my dear heart, the letter I wrote you last evening reached the
post-office so late, through an oversight, that you will not receive
it today, and not before tomorrow with this; and it pains me to think
that you were disappointed in your hope when the mail was delivered,
and now (9 o'clock in the evening) are perhaps troubled with
disquietude of all sorts about me. I have spent a tiresome day,
tramping the pavement, smoking and intriguing. Do not judge of the few
words I spoke yesterday from the report in the Berlin _Times_. I shall
manage to bring you a copy of the speech, which has no significance
except as showing that I did not wish to be included in the category
of certain venal bureaucrats who turned their coat with contemptible
shamelessness to suit the wind. The impression it made was piteous,
while even my most zealous opponents shook my hand with greater warmth
after my declaration. I have just come from a great citizens' meeting,
of perhaps a thousand people, in the Milenz Hall, where the Polish
question was debated very decorously, very good speeches were made,
and on the whole the sentiment seemed to turn against the Poles,
especially after a disconsolate Jew had arrived, straight from Samter,
who told terrible stories about the lawless excesses of the Poles
against the Germans; he himself had been soundly beaten. * * *

Just for my sake do not alarm yourself if each mail does not bring you
a letter from me. There is not the slightest probability that a hair
of our heads will be touched, and my friends of all kinds overrun
me, to share their political wisdom with me, so that I began a letter
of one-quarter sheet to Malle this morning at 9, and could not finish
before 3. I am living in comfort and economy with Werdeck, only rather
far away, in consequence of which I already feel the pavement through
my soles. Cordial remembrances to the mother and the Bellins. I am
writing on the _table d'hote_ table of the Hotel des Princes, and a
small salad has just been brought for my supper.

Your very faithful B. April 3, '48.

Schoenhausen, August 21, '48. 8.30 P.M.


_Dear Father_,--You have just become, with God's gracious help, the
grandfather of a healthy, well-formed girl that Johanna has presented
me with after hard but short pains. At the moment mother and child are
doing as well as one could wish. Johanna lies still and tired, yet
cheerful and composed, behind the curtain; the little creature, in the
meantime, under coverlets on the sofa, and squalls off and on. I am
quite glad that the first is a daughter, but if it had been a cat I
should have thanked God on my knees the moment Johanna was rid of it:
it is really a desperately hard business. I came from Berlin last
night, and this morning we had no premonition of what was to come. At
ten in the morning Johanna was seized with severe pains after eating a
grape, and the accompanying symptoms led me to put her at once to bed,
and to send in haste to Tangermuende, whence, in spite of the Elbe, Dr.
Fricke arrived soon after 12. At 8 my daughter was audible, with
sonorous voice. This afternoon I sent Hildebrand off to fetch nurse
Boldt from Berlin in a great hurry. I hope you will not postpone your
journey now; but earnestly beg dear mother not to make the trip in an
exhausting manner. I know, of course, that she has little regard for
her own health, but just for Johanna's sake you must take care of
yourself, dear mother, so that she may not be anxious on your account.
Fricke pleases us very much--experienced and careful. I do not admit
visits: Bellin's wife, the doctor, and I attend to everything. Fricke
estimates the little one at about nine pounds in weight. Up to the
present time, then, everything has gone according to rule, and for
that praise and thanks be to the Lord. If you could bring Aennchen
with you that would make Johanna very happy.

22. _Morning_.--It is all going very well, only the cradle is still
lacking, and the little miss must camp meanwhile on a forage-crib. May
God have you and us in his keeping, dear parents.

Until we meet again, presently. B.

Have the kindness to attend to the announcements, save in Berlin and
Reddentin, in your neighborhood: Seehof, Satz, and so forth. Johanna
sends cordial greetings. She laments her daughter's large nose. I
think it no larger than it has a right to be.

Berlin, Saturday, 11 p. m. September 23, '48.


_My Pet!_--Today at last I have news of your condition, and am very
grateful to mother for the letter. * * * I am beginning to be really
homesick for you, my heart, and mother's letter today threw me into a
mood utterly sad and crippling: a husband's heart, and a father's--at
any rate, mine in the present circumstances--does not fit in with the
whirl of politics and intrigue. On Monday, probably, the die will be
cast here. Either the ministry will be shown to be weak, like its
predecessors, and sink out--and against this I shall still
struggle--or it will do its duty, and then I do not for a moment doubt
that blood will flow on Monday evening or on Tuesday. I should not
have believed that the democrats would be confident enough to take up
the gage of battle, but all their behavior indicates that they are
bent on it. Poles, Frankfort men, loafers, volunteers--all sorts of
riffraff are again at hand. They count on the defection of the troops,
apparently misled by the talk of individual discontented gabblers
among the soldiers; but I think they will make a great mistake. I
personally have no occasion to await the thing here, and so to tempt
God by asking him to protect me in perils that I have no call to seek.
Accordingly, I shall betake my person to a place of safety not later
than tomorrow. If nothing important occurs on Monday, on Tuesday I
shall reach you; but, if the trouble begins, I should still like to
stay near the King. But there you may (in an aside I say
"unfortunately") assume with confidence that there will be no danger.
You received no letter from me today, because I sent a report about
the society to Gaertner, and you will learn from him that I am all
right. You will receive this tomorrow, and I shall write again on
Monday. Send horses for me on Tuesday. God bless and guard you, my

Your faithful B.

(Postmark, Berlin, November 9, '48.)

_My Dearest_,--Although I am confident that I shall be with you in
person a few hours after this letter, I want to inform you immediately
that everything is quiet till now. I go to Potsdam at nine, but must
post the letter here now, as otherwise it will not reach you today.
Our friends have been steadfast till now, but I cannot take courage
yet to believe in anything energetic. I still fear, fear, and the
weather is unfavorable, too. Above all, you must not be afraid of
anything, if I should stay away today by any chance. The K. may send
for me, or some one else in Potsdam earnestly wish that I should stay
there to advise upon further measures, the trains may be delayed
because the carriages are required for soldiers, and other things of
the sort. Then, courage and patience, my heart, in any event. The God
who makes worlds go round can also cover me with his wings. And in P.
there is no danger anyhow. So expect me in the evening; if I happen
not to come, I shall be all right nevertheless. Cordial remembrances
to our cross little mother.

Your most faithful B.

Potsdam, November 10, '48.

_My Angel_,--Please, please do not scold me for not coming today
either; I must try to put through some more matters in relation to the
immediate future. At two this afternoon all Wrangel's troops will
reach Berlin, disarm the flying corps, maybe, take the disaffected
deputies from the _Concertsaal,_ and make the city again a royal
Prussian one. It is doubtful whether they will come to blows in the
process. Contrary to our expectations, everything remained quiet
yesterday; the democrats seem to be much discouraged. * * *

Your v.B.

Potsdam, November 14, '48.

_My Dear Pet_,--Long sleep can certainly become a vice. Senfft has
just waked me at nine o'clock, and I cannot yet get the sand out of my
eyes. It is quiet here. Yesterday it was said to be the intention to
serenade the Queen (on her birthday) with mock music; one company
posted there sufficed to make the audacious people withdraw in
silence. Berlin is in a state of siege, but as yet not a shot fired.
The disarming of the city militia goes on forcibly and very gradually.
The meeting in the Schuetzenhaus was dispersed by soldiers yesterday;
six men who were unwilling to go were thrown out. Martial law will be
proclaimed over there today. My friend Schramm has been arrested. That
Rob. Blum, Froebel, Messenhauser, have been shot in Vienna, you already
know from the newspapers. Good-by, you angel; I must close. Many
remembrances to all. The peasants of the neighborhood have declared to
the King that if he has need of them he should just call them: that
they would come with weapons and supplies to aid his troops, from the
Zauch-Belzig-Teltow, the Havelland, and other districts. Mention that
in Schoenhausen, please, so that it may go the rounds.

Your v.B.

Potsdam, Thursday Morning, November 16, '48.

_Dear Nanne!_--I did not get your very dear, nice letter of Tuesday
morning until yesterday afternoon, but none the less did I right
fervently rejoice and take comfort in it, because you are well, at
least in your way, and are fond of me. There is no news from here
except that Potsdam and Berlin are as quiet as under the former King,
and the surrender of arms in B. continues without interruption, with
searching of houses, etc. It is possible that there may be scenes of
violence incidentally--the troops secretly long for them--but on the
whole the "passive resistance" of the democrats seems to me only a
seasonable expression for what is usually called fear. Yesterday I
dined with the King. The Queen was amiable in the English fashion. The
enclosed twig of erica I picked from her sewing-table, and send it to
keep you from being jealous. * * *

If a letter from the Stettin bank has arrived, send it to me
immediately, please, marked, "To be delivered promptly." If I do not
receive it before day after tomorrow, I shall return home, but must
then go to Stettin at the beginning of next week. So let horses be
sent for me on Saturday afternoon; this evening I unfortunately cannot
go to Genthin, because I expect Manteuffel here. * * *

The democrats are working all their schemes in order to represent the
opinion of the "people" as hostile to the King; hundreds of feigned
signatures. Please ask the town-councillor whether there are not some
sensible people in Magdeburg, who care more for their neck, with quiet
and good order, than for this outcry of street politicians, and who
will send the King a counter-address from Magdeburg. I must close.
Give my best regards to mamma, and kiss the little one for me on the
left eye. Day after tomorrow, then, if I do not get the Stettin letter
sooner. Good-by, my sweet angel. Yours forever, v.B. Schoenhausen,
July 18, '49.

_My Pet_,-- * * * I wanted to write you in the evening, but the air was
so heavenly that I sat for two hours or so on the bench in front of
the garden-house, smoked and looked at the bats flying, just as with
you two years ago, my darling, before we started on our trip. The
trees stood so still and high near me, the air fragrant with linden
blossoms; in the garden a quail whistled and partridges allured, and
over beyond Arneburg lay the last pink border of the sunset. I was
truly filled with gratitude to God, and there arose before my soul the
quiet happiness of a family life filled with love, a peaceful haven,
into which a gust of wind perchance forces its way from the storms of
the world-ocean and ruffles the surface, but its warm depths remain
clear and still so long as the cross of the Lord is reflected in them.
Though the reflected image be often faint and distorted, God knows his

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