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The Liberation War in Germany.
land, for Europe, was come: I was shaken in my inmost soul fearfully. In vain did I seek to bring order into my careering thoughts; I could mark out no definite plan for what I was to say: but spirits seemed to whisper to me, and promise me assistance; I longed for the end of this tormenting solitude. One only thought possessed me with the power of inspiration: How often hast thou lamented,' said I to myself, that thou hast been cast into this far corner of Germany; and this very extreme point has now become the centre of a great European movement that shall possess, that shall inspire, all; here, even in this little Breslau, is the starting point of a new epoch of history; and to the giant thoughts that are rolling in the bosoms of these thousands of thy countrymen, thou art now called to give voice.' Tears started
from my eyes; I fell on my knees; and a prayer restored my composure. Thus prepared I made my way through the crowd, and mounted the cathedra. What I spoke I cannot now say; even at the end of the address, had I been asked to do so, I should in vain have endeavoured to recover the stream of thought and expression that had passed from me. It was the oppressive feeling of years passed in silent unhappiness that had here found an utterance; it was the warm feeling of the congregated throngs of fellow patriots that rested upon my tongue. What I spoke aloud was the silent word of all, and even because it was an echo of what was passing in the soul of every hearer, did it make a mighty impression. I concluded my address with a declaration that I had resolved myself to lead the way, and utter no words that were not to be followed by a deed; I had determined to join the volunteers. This said, I left the room, and was again in the solitude of my study. Das ist nun gethan,' said I to myself. This thing is done now,' and I breathed freely and was happy."
With such a vehement spirit of patriotic prophecy, Henry Steffens may well stand (after Fichte) as the European representative of the academic element-in Germany not the least noticeable in the great struggle against Napoleon. The military element in the same struggle, so far as Germany is concerned, is expressed by Blücher and Scharnhorst; while the civil element finds its exponent in that strong wielder of the modern Agrarian axe, the Baron von Stein. Of these men we have already (in the notice of Arndt's reminiscences, No. lxi., p. 169) given some masterly sketches from the bold brush of Stein's secretary: of inferior value, but not, therefore, worthless to the historian are the following lines from Steffens:
"Blücher was in every view an incorrect phenomenon (eine incorrecte Erscheinung), but it was just in this incorrectness that his greatness consisted. He represented in his own character the altogether incommensurable nature of the present war; and for this very reason it is that, on a superficial consideration, it is as easy for his one-sided eulogists, by excessive praise of him, to cast all the other distinguished heroes of the war into the shade, as it is for his enemies to represent him
VOL. XXXIV. NO. LXVII.
as a mere empty phantom. The severe moralist, indeed, will find much to blame in Blücher, but he was not the less in his own person the intensive moral centre of the war. As placed against a man like Napoleon, the bold handler of a new system of tactics, Blücher cannot be viewed as a great constructive genius in war; at the same time it cannot be denied, that in the capacity of a military leader he has gained himself immortal honour. In his discourse he seemed quite careless, and used every random word; his common talk was that of a rude, uncultivated officer of hussars, not of a great general; at the same time there were moments when, with the most perfect command of language, he broke out into strains of genuine military eloquence, such as no general of modern times has surpassed. He was, in fact, in every thing, in deed as in word, the man of the moment, but as such of unfathomable depth. The manner in which the moment seized him was quick and strong, and in this way he could suddenly fall into fits of despair, during which he considered every thing as lost; but this despair was with him a state of mind that vanished as quickly as it came, and seemed to serve only to give an additional spur to the great purpose of his life. This purpose was nothing less than the annihilation of Napoleon: the most decided hatred of this tyrant was united in his mind with the strong innate conviction that he was the man on whom this destined annihilation was laid, and feeling thus, he acted everywhere not so much on a well calculated plan as with the security of an instinct. In this respect he was as a soldier the exact antipodes of Napoleon. As this extraordinary man turned every phasis of the revolution to his own account, and from his earliest years knew how to command and to mould external circumstances, now in a narrower, and then in a more extended sphere, and with the utmost skill, out of the wild irregular deluge of the revolution, shaped the course of a regular and mighty river, which seemed in its wide-sweeping flow destined to annihilate all traces of distinct nationality among European men: so Blücher stood forth as his adversary, with a character exactly the reverse; no man of calculating ambition, but a character strong in natural instinct and healthy vigour, full of youthful enthusiasm beneath gray hairs, and in his seventieth year. He came forward on the great European stage as if commissioned by Heaven for this purpose, to teach men that the most far-reaching schemes of the scheming are vain, whereever God has stirred the hearts of the nations deeply to act the mightiest epos of which humanity is capable."
These remarks tally admirably with that passage in Arndt's reminiscences, wherein he describes the physiognomy of Blücher as expressing two diverse and adverse characters, the upper region the character of a god, the lower region that of a mortal. As described by both what a fine Homeric strength and fire is there in that old hussar! not a modern slim gentlemanly hero at all, but a genuine old Greek, daoioioi orneσσi, with a shaggy bosom,
*F. Q. R.,' vol. xxxi., p. 176.
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and raging with a wild warlike instinct, like to a flesh-devouring lion, or a wild boar whose strength is indomitable.'
Ξυν ῥ επεσον, λειουσιν ἐοικοτες ὤμοφαγοισιν
Η συσι καπροισιν τωντε σθενος οὐκ ἀλαπαδνον.
Or as the modern song has it:
"At Lützen impatient he headed the van,
Like a strong young lion, the old veteran ;
There the Teut first taught the hot Frenchman to bleed,
How different, and yet how marked with every best German element is the character of Scharnhorst! a man with less of a healthy popular breadth, but more of meditative profoundness, more comprehensive slowly to scheme and to combine, but less effective suddenly to strike. Scharnhorst, as he is described in the following passage, and by Arndt, is a fine specimen of German manhood, full of silent thought, energy, and endurance; but in the external of manner careless and even awkward, in expression slow, and, it may be, somewhat formal.
"Scharnhorst in his exterior was any thing but a soldier, he looked rather like an academical man in uniform. When I sat beside him on the sofa, his calm style of talking reminded me of a certain famous professor. His attitude was then one of the greatest ease and carelessness-crouching forward often in that peculiar fashion which is so often observed in bookish men; and when he spoke, his expressions were those of one quite absorbed in the subject of his meditation. This was always a subject of importance; and though he spoke with the greatest slowness and deliberation, his discourse had an irresistible power of attraction, and gained, after a short time, not only the interest but the entire confidence of his auditors; nay, commanded them so completely, that even the most passionate person, although opposed to him in opinion, was forced to follow the flow of his discourse with silent attention. His opponents felt themselves compelled by sheer force of reason to yield up the shallowness of their own opinions to the thoroughness and comprehensiveness of his ; and even when they could not prevail on themselves to adopt his views they had not the courage to give a free utterance to their opposition.
"We read of a papal legate who was sent from Rome to Paris to negotiate a matter with Napoleon at a time when the emperor was making demands on the pope, which his holiness had resolved absolutely to reject, and this negotiator, it is said, by the sheer obstinacy of his opposition, brought the emperor to perfect desperation. After a prolonged interview Napoleon suddenly left the chamber of audience in a rage, and ordered the legate to remain till he came back. He shut the door as he went out, and not returning again till the evening, thought that weariness and hunger would by this time have made the legate more
conciliatory; but when, after a short apology, the interview was resumed, the churchman, without taking any notice of the apology, recommenced the conversation at the very point where it had been interrupted, and continued to talk coolly on as if no break had taken place. Something after the same manner, though under infinitely more sublime circumstances, did Scharnhorst behave. Whatever, after ripe deliberation, he had resolved against Napoleon, this he never gave up; the calm obstinacy of his character commanded the whole struggle even when he seemed to yield; the victorious adversaries felt this and feared their enemy most when he seemed vanquished.
"In this constancy, indeed, of a great national feeling, the future destiny of Prussia, when overwhelmed by the greatest weight of external evils, seemed to rest secure and wait for the expected moment of a triumphant development; this was the last moral fortress that never yielded, of which the governor knew the perilous condition, and saw with everopen eye the approaching dangers; but he saw, also, the strength of his position, and the unconquerable fidelity of those whom he set into activity, whose whole being he controlled and guided, whom his presence continually inspired, not with a consuming fire of passion, but with the calm, penetrating, and cherishing light of life. In this way the war against France had continued even under the aspect of the most complete subjection. The people armed themselves in all quarters, under the eyes of the enemy, and Scharnhorst, who represented the national conscience, was, of all men, most deeply shocked when he saw himself forced by circumstances into the position of siding, externally, with his sworn enemies. Thus conscience in good men always speaks the louder the deeper they sink: and the greatest fall produces the keenest remorse, but at the same time the most decided power of a renovated life.
"There were few who knew the full extent of what Scharnhorst did for Germany. His activity was greatest in secret; not, however, that there was any aspect of timidity about it, it was on the contrary strong, silent, and unconquerable. But it was only the great generals and soldiers of the highest cast who knew perfectly what he was, and looked to him constantly as to the living, unvarying, central point of the struggle. And thus even beyond the bounds of Prussia, in the mightiest states of Europe abroad, as well as among the traitorous friends of the enemy at home, his influence where it was not seen was felt, and known secretly where it was not publicly acknowledged."
Scharnhorst, it is well known, fell at the very commencement of the great struggle which he had been so long silently preparing, in the battle of Lützen, or Gross-Götschen as the Germans call it. Had it not been for this circumstance British gossip might have been as familiar with him as it is with the stout old hero of the Katzbach, and his moustaches. There is another name still to complete the triumvirate; a name that England knows less than it ought, but whom Prussia can never cease to look up to with even greater gratitude than to Blücher. It is the Baron von Stein,
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the emancipator of the Brandenburg boors, the promulgator of an Agrarian law more bold than any that the Gracchi ever conceived, the most radical reformer and bloodless revolutionist that modern history has to name. The following extract exhibits, most characteristically, the remarkable German, who did more for fatherland than any of her most devoted patriots, and yet was never weary of flinging rudely in her face, as a matter of reproach, that faculty by the exercise of which she stands proudly pre-eminent above all other nations-the faculty of speculation. Stein was an Englishman in mental character more than a German; and thus far, certainly, he was right; the moment called aloud not for a thought but for a blow, not for a Schelling and a Görres, so much as for a Blücher and a Stein.
"Those who knew Stein, knew also that the only way to meet him was with a decided front, otherwise one was sure to be overwhelmed. He attacked me, too, on one of his favourite themes; but I was happily prepared to meet him, and the more stoutly I gave him battle to-day, the more did he seem inclined to renew the combat to-morrow. He, the mighty man of the direct deed (der mächtige Mann der unmittelbaren That'), who pierced through the moment there, as it lay before him, and commanded it, was, or at least was wont to express himself as, the enemy of all speculation, and attacked me with the most pitiless energy, as the representative of German metaphysics. I accepted the challenge. I was several times invited to dine with him at Dresden : I and Maurice Arndt were the only guests. Your constructions a priori,' said he, are mere words, a pitiful school jargon, and made for no purpose so much as to cripple every deed that is worth the doing.' 'Your excellence,' replied I, will be pleased to observe, that though I were given to construct systems a priori (which qualification, however, I deny), I, at least, construct them in a practical direction; how otherwise would I be standing here now in this uniform before you? But the endeavour to bring one's whole experience, both of inward emotions and outward facts, under the category of what may properly be called knowledge; the striving to give an intellectual unity to the complex phenomena of which the thing called our life is made up; this is not an arbitrary product of one mind or the other, but it is a national and truly German tendency; and if my friend Schelling, at the present moment, commands the public mind in Germany, he does so only because he commands the domain of speculation.' Yes, I know well enough,' said Stein, I know our German youth is incurably infected with this fever of empty speculation; the German has an unfortunate instinct that leads him to grope in abstract corners; and it is for this reason that he never understands the present moment, and has, accordingly, always fallen an easy prey to the cunning aggressor from without.' "Tis quite true,' retorted I, that our students are given to speculation; but all the young men have not followed me to the war; and I should wish you to inquire, whether the greatest speculators are those who have staid at