1763-1825 Jean Paul.

Levana; or, The doctrine of education online

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Voltaire's saying, " The first king was a successful sol-
dier," and the corollary to be drawn thence, that " A
successful king is the first soldier," does not sufficiently
explain his position in a state, by his position before there
was a state. Moreover, war is now only the exception,
and peace the rule ; and however much the country be
turned into an arsenal, and the throne into a fortress, yet
preparations for peace must be carried on as long and as
industriously as preparations for war. But the prepon-
derance of the arts of war over those of peace, in all per-
sons destined for the throne, may be explained and justified
by two totally different reasons and sentiments. In the
first instance, the mutual defence of individuals formed
the state ; and afterwards, as each nation experienced the
necessity of defending itself against the aggressions of
other nations, the king seemed to perform his duty to the
state best by watching over its frontiers, not by becoming
chief architect, food-provider, farmer, coiner, and regulator
of its domestic affairs ; he had rather to act externally by
the law of the stronger, than internally by the power of
the affections.


One evil was a necessary consequence of this state of
things, that nations, which, in the last resort, only con-
sist of individuals, owing to this love of war in their
governors, fell into that very condition out of which the
individuals had endeavored to extricate themselves by
combining to form a state. So little yet does man regard
the interests of man. Confined to his clod. of earth, like
the insect to its leaf, he does not perceive that every war
on the face of the globe is, in fact, a civil war ; and a
dark sea, in a spiritual sense as truly as in physical fact,
gives, by its concealing cloak, the appearance of separate
enchanting islands to the girdle of mountains which sur-
rounds the world.

But the monarch has a yet weightier ground for his
love of war ; the sentiment that all dignity arises from
moral worth, and that the chief basis of manly dignity
consists only in courage or honor. The brave prince
covers his head and his inner man with a crown different
from that which rests on his outward form. Courage or
honor is expected in every man, but not talent. The
prince, like the first nobleman in the highest rank of
nobility, must oppose his enemy with the courageous
point of honor, as though it were a bright focus of
burning rays. Courage is a virtue of no doubtful seem-
ing ; there can be no contradiction, no diversity of
opinion, about it. A prince who exposes his body,
carefully protected and consecrated by the state, as
though it were a common one, to the rank-scorning bul-
let, against which, in a foreign land, his crown is no hel-
met, but only a mark, gathers laurels with his own hand
in the eyes of thousands. But the honor of peaceful
talents is not so uncontestedly ascribed to him, because
many a prince has been a sun which the minister must
surround with his clouds ere it emitted beams.


I grant that war is accompanied with certain by-charms.
It is well minutely to dissect them before him to whom
you would fain render them hateful. A king likes to
govern, especially when he can do so easily and abso-
lutely ; on the drum he finds a movable throne ; and the
art of war is surrounded with a poetical halo ; it is more
definite and more obvious than the art of government, and
the movements of the general's baton are more clearly
marked by the eyes of men than are those of the sceptre.

The powder-mill of war moves on the wheels of fortune.
As the southern promontory of Africa, so here the head-
land of storms, is called the Cape of Good Hope. And to
what lottery could a ruler more cheerfully subscribe than
to that of war, especially because he only ventures
foreign possessions, and wins no part of his home inher-
itance, because he wins the whole ? Further, nothing
irritates a youth so much as to be obliged to mount the
throne when of mature age, and then find his whole life,
even down to the horizon, marked out and enclosed. The
royal youth longs, in the first place, to do something in
life ; and, in the second, to render himself immortal by it.
Now, for the accomplishment of the first wish, what means
lie so near him, or seem so glorious to his fancy, as war,
which opens to him a career in foreign countries? or
what can gratify the second desire more easily than the
field of battle, which matures in one day the precious
flower of immortality, which would require a whole life
to blossom on the throne ? The noble Henry IV. of
France said, " I would rather gird on my armor than
make laws." It is on the same principle that novices in
poetry, and novices on the dramatic stage, make their first
essays in the horrible, the glory arising from which is
easily and quickly gained.


I think you say in one of your letters that the satiety
princes experience of the praise and emulation of infe-
riors, is apt to engender a warlike longing for a contest
with kings and enemies before the eyes of all Europe.
Very true ! The poisonous air of courts readily commu-
nicates that yawning fever of which so many died in
Italy during the seventh century. Men seek to clear the
air with gunpowder.

But how can a young prince ever behold the dark side
of the glittering form of war, that hellish stream which
surrounds the living earth and is peopled with the dead ?
For it is in truth necessary, especially for Germany,
which is becoming more and more the Hyde Park and
Bois de Boulogne to which Europe resorts when it re-
solves to fight. Will you let him hear the chorus of all
wise men and poets cursing war, the last ghost and sav-
age army of barbarism ? Will you, before war, preach
such a sermon as this on peace to the king who is about
to hurl his torch-like missive to kindle the fire of war ?
" Consider well : one step .beyond your frontiers changes
the whole face of two empires ; thine own is consumed
behind thee, thine enemy's before thee. That moment
an earthquake takes possession of both, and labors to the
destruction of both ; all ancient law-courts, all judgment-
seats, are overturned ; heights and depths are confounded
together. It is a last day, full of rising sinners and fall-
ing stars ; it is the tribunal at which the Devil judges the
world, where bodies condemn spirits, physical force the
power of love. Consider it, O prince ! Every soldier in
this empire of lawlessness becomes thy crowned brother
in a foreign land, bearing the sword of Justice without
her balance, and governing more despotically than thy-
self. Every meanest drudge in the enemy's ranks is thy


king and judge, carrying in his hand an axe and a halter
for thee. The arbitrary powers of force and chance only
sit upon the double throne of conscience and of knowl-
edge. Two nations are converted, half into slave-dealers,
half into slaves, mingled without order among one an-
other. In the eyes of higher beings, the human race has
become an assemblage of lawless, conscienceless, stone-
blind beasts and machines, which robs, devours, strikes,
bleeds, and dies. Even granting that justice is on thy
side, yet by the first line of a manifesto, as by an earth-
quake, thou lettest loose the chained devils of injustice out
of their prison-house ! The dread despotism thus en-
throned is so great that little misdeeds never reach thy
ears, and great crimes only by their frequent repetition.
For the permission to slay and take possession, includes
in itself all lesser crimes. Even the unarmed citizen's
voice is heard amidst the screams and discord ; exchang-
ing all his plans of life for a few moments' indulgence
and lawless freedom, treated by the allied soldiers as
partly, and by their opponents as altogether, an enemy.
Think of all this, O prince, ere thou hidest thy light amid
the locust-clouds of war, and ere thou makest the warriors
of a stranger the judges and executioners in thy hitherto
justly governed land, or givest thine own soldiers such
power in the conquered country ! "

At all events, much might be done. We should en-
deavor to verify the expressions of a history or a news-
paper, so short and so lightly passed over, " Battle-field,
distress of the besieged, a hundred wagons of wounded";
which by their perpetual repetition have passed from
living figures to paintings, and lastly, to mere sounds;
we should picture them in all their terrible details, in the
suffering which one wagon bears and fearfully increases,


in the one agonizing day of a single fainting and dying
soldier. Not only history, in which all ages and nations
bleed, but our common newspapers and way of speaking,
and the scientific appearance of warlike preparations for
surgical assistance, change wounds into words, and the
monstrous amount of suffering into letters. Hence, the
same minister who tranquilly observes the hygrometer of
war's bloody rain, and cheerfully orders a bath of blood
for two nations, is overcome by the wounds and tears of
a stage-play, merely because the poet's art transforms the
words back to their living meaning. A prince whose
tendencies you feared might be conducted over a bloody
battle-field with the same warning advantage as accrues
to children of a different class who are led through an
hospital. But God grant that humanity may ever fail to
offer such schools and such remedies !

Properly, and this might be instructively said to a
prince, the people only should decide upon war with
another nation, that is, upon a return to the first state of
nature ; especially as they only gather its bitter, not its
sweet fruits; and should determine whether they are
willing to give themselves up as a sacrifice to the storms
and tempests of war. It is a crying sin against Heaven,
that one king, for an offensive expression from another
king, should involve two nations in mortal strife. In
reading modern history, one shudders to see how the
merest trifles have kindled the fires of war ; how a
woman's pin, or an ambassador's finger, has been the
conductor of a thunder-storm, ravaging whole countries.
The wars of modern times ought certainly to strike sol-
diers only, not the ranks of unarmed citizens. When
the more active part of the latter disturb the operations
of the former, as in shooting from houses, they at once


appeal to the right of distinction, and proceed to attack
and punish them ; but why should the unarmed classes,
without the advantages, yet participate in all the suf-
ferings, plunder, imprisonment, &c., of those who are
armed ? One or all of these three remedies must be ap-
plied to this terrible coil, in order that the future may atone
for the past : either that naval conflicts may be carried
on without letters of marque, and that in land fights the
soldiers may be placed in some desert, as the scene of
their many-voiced and many-handed duel ; or that, as in
republics which have fallen to destruction or risen to an
unearthly life, every citizen should be a soldier, and con-
sequently every soldier a citizen; or, finally, that the
eternal banner of peace should hang down from heaven,
and flutter in the pure ether above the earth.

I have an idea that either you, or one of your friends,
once declared that history the long war-report and
bulletin of humanity imparted the infection of war to
young princes. But I would almost trust to it as the
remedy for the love of war. Charles XII. of Sweden
could scarcely have imbibed his passion for glory and
conquest from the mere perusal of Curtius's Life of Alex-
ander, since Alexander had the same passion without
having read his biography; and Caesar, also, without
knowing more of Curtius than his hero. In history may
be found the test of the anchors and swords of sea and
land fights. It alone shows to the monarch, thirsting for
glory, how little mere bravery appertains to glory ; for a
cowardly nation is more rare upon the earth than a brave
man. What nation, in ancient or modern times, is not
brave ? At present, for instance, all Europe is so ; Rus-
sians, Danes, Swedes, Austrians, English, Hessians,
French, Bavarians, and Prussians, all are brave. The


lower Rome's free spirit sank, the more wildly and vehe-
mently rose the merely brave spirit; Catiline, Caesar,
Augustus, had conquerors for their servants. The fre-
quent arming of the ancient slaves, as of the modern
beggars, testifies against the value of the common bravery
of fists and wounds. Iphicrates, the Athenian, said that
the best soldiers were those who loved plunder and vio-
lence ; and General Fischer has added to these, vaga-
bonds. Cannot a monarch wish to shine upon posterity
with something else than the fair tiger-spots of a con-
queror, in which the Timurs, Attilas, Dessalines, and
other scourges of God, or knouts of the Devil, outdo him?
How coldly does one walk in history over the countless
battle-fields which fill the earth with beds of death!
And with what curses does one hasten past the crown
which, like the ajutage, or leaden head of a pipe, raised
by the upward gushing of a fountain, is only kept up by
starting streams of blood ! But where an eternal glory
hovers round some heroes, as those of Marathon's plain
and Thermopylae's pass, there other spirits fought and
fell, heavenly visions of the courage of freedom. And
whatever individual stands greatly forth in history and
fills its spaces, does it not from any pyramid of skulls
erected on battle-fields ; but a great soul hovers there,
like the form of an unearthly world glorified in the night,
and touches the stars and the earth.

For there is a nobler courage, which once, though not
long, Sparta, Athens, and Borne possessed, the courage
of pqace and of freedom, the bravery which showed itself
at home. Many a nation, a cowardly slave in its own
country, but a bold hero out of it, resembles the falcon
(though become tame, unlike it, rather by sleeping than
by sleeplessness), which is carried hooded on the wrist" of


the falconer, until left to its ancient freedom, a momenta-
ry wooer of the air, it boldly and bravely vanquishes some
new bird, and then returns with it to the slavish earth.
But the truly, because freely, brave people carries on its
war of freedom at home, against every hand which would
stay its flight or blind its eye ; this, indeed, is the longest
and bravest war, and the only one which admits no truce.
Just so brave, and in a higher sense, may a monarch be.
Let the great ideal of art, to unite dignity with repose, be
the ideal of the throne. To extinguish the flames of war
is more worthy of a king, as it is more difficult, than to
kindle them. If this bravery of peace be already secured,
whereby alone a monarch can distinguish himself in his-
tory, then that of war, if necessary, becomes easy, and
every wound glorious. Hence the great men of antiqui-
ty are rather distinguished by their character than by
their deeds, rather by the trophies of peace than those of
war ; the plough-heroes of battle-fields by an intensity of
love, which, as in Phocion, sowed the steep cliffs which
bound the mighty ocean with balmy spice-plants ; which
in Cato the younger loved and bewailed his brother with
all a woman's tenderness, and caused Epaminondas to re-
member the duties of a host even on the scaffold ; which
made Brutus a tender husband, Alexander a trustful
friend, and Gustavus a Christian.

It seems to me that a young prince should view the
future which he helps to form from this side and through
this opening in history ; in this manner he must learn to
subject the inferior to the nobler kind of courage. Cer-
tainly a king who avoided war from cowardice would be
more dangerous especially in the present position of
Germany than one who sought it from foolhardiness ;
and, moreover, he would be less easily cured. The seep-


tre resembles Saturn's scythe, which is at once the emblem
of harvest-time and of death.

The thing that grieves me, when I consider the excel-
lence of the education you, dear Adelhard, impart, is that
it will be of little or no use, unless you are ennobled, or
unless the prince might remain at home. I mean this :
I cannot but lament that he must grasp the pilgrim's staff
before the sceptre, and must pass through the three king-
doms of nature, or three courts of the grand tour, Italy,
England, and France, in order to return different from
what he started ! Enough cannot be said in favor of
travel, but not of early travel. Let the man, not the boy,
travel ; let his travelling-cap be the crown. If he go un-
crowned, sent as a travelling fortune to the fair of Paris,
we know by the example of his noble companions
what, not to speak of ruined health, he will bring back ;
namely, a mind full of contempt for his little inland pat-
rimony, full of plans for miniature imitations, and of
acquired notions whose importation the Prussian Lycur-
gus and the Spartan Frederick the Second prevented, the
one into the nobility, the other into the people, by forbid-
ding travelling. If we wish, by imitation, to give the
dominion over our domestic affairs to foreign countries,
which by treaties of peace those of Westphalia and
Luneville, for instance have already quite sufficiently
ruled and changed the constitution of the Germanic em-
pire, I really think we burden ourselves with too great a
weight of gratitude, especially when we consider the rare-
ness of the opportunities for requital. If foreign travel
is indispensable to mental growth, why do we see so few
dauphins, so few princes of Wales, of Austria, or of Bra-
zil, in our hotels ? If the coat of worldly varnish given
by strangers cannot be done without, fortunately his court


will be so frequently visited by so many who will gladly
linger there a long time, that he may easily remain at
home. For the same reason, among the artisans of Ber-
lin, Konigsberg, and other large towns, the sons of master-
workmen are not required to travel like other journey-

But there is one country which an heir apparent may
minutely survey in his travels, it is his own ; and the
deeper he penetrates into the lower classes, the more pro-
ductive of benefit will his journey be. Like an JEneas
or a Dante, he will return a wiser man out of this lower
world into the upper regions of the throne. A prince
cannot picture to himself hunger as anything other than
a rare gift of God and of the stomach ; or labor, than as
a hawking-match to procure it ; or the people, which ex-
periences enough of both, as anything different from the
pampered crowd of his court servants. If in Corea the
people must shut their doors and windows when the king
is passing by, we may be sure that he will also close his
from the eyes of his people : and so one invisibility pro-
duces the other.

If he be crowned and married, and about as old, or
even older, than Joseph IL, or Peter the Great, or popes
on their travels, or the ancient Romans whose proconsul-
ships were also journeys, he will receive greater advan-
tage from his travels than he would even as his own
ambassador ; for he will see everything more accurately,
more quickly, and be less taxed for doing so. Boling-
broke tells us, that if at forty we read again some of our
childhood's books we shall find everything new : even so,
if at the same age we revisit the land of our youth, we
shall fin! a new world, previously overlooked. A young
prince, perhaps, brings home with him out of some for-


eign country a faded garland, as a memento of rare
flowers of happiness ; a prince of mature age brings also
the seeds of those flowers. When the warm-hearted,
manly, true German Duke of Meiningen travelled, the
year before his death, to one of the southern cities of Ger-
many, he did not visit courts, balls, princes, and women ;
but machines, manufactories, soup-kitchens, mines, artists
and their works, financiers and their tables, ah ! why
was he doomed so shortly afterwards to make the longest
journey to the most distant country ? A noble prince
who loves his people can never tread that path too late.
But if your Friedanot must go on his travels before he
ascends the throne, I would wish you to be ennobled and
to accompany him. Every royal tutor should receive
nobility from his connection with a prince, just as iron be-
comes magnetic by contact with a magnet, in order that
he may afterwards be employed at the dinner or card
table, when, otherwise, his place must be occupied by
some one whose rank admits him to the royal table.
How happy is a princess whose Orbilia and La plus
Bonne is, from the commencement, of such high rank that
she may ever remain near her ! " Turba medicorum per-
didit Csesarem " : * this epitaph on Adrian is also true of
the multitude of " soul curers."

Many of your regulations for princes may be readily
guessed, because they must also have a place in the edu-
cation of every child ; only that qualities which the latter
must use as small coin in every-day life are required
from princes as gold for the mint, and for the adornment
of the palace. In the first place I rank keeping his word.
Princes rarely break their word, except to whole coun-
tries, their own, and foreign lands. The word given to
* " The multitude of doctors killed Caesar."


one man, themselves perhaps excepted, they always keep.
Chamfort remarks, that, up to the ministry of the Cardi-
nal de Lomenie, fifty-six public breaches of faith were
reckoned in Henry IV. These may readily be explained
by the rarefying power of space, which, far more than
time, immediately decomposes the strongest powers ; as,
for instance, electricity, attraction, philanthropy, freedom,
and a promise. Distance, for instance, inconceivably
diminishes British freedom, even in Ireland, as it formerly
did in North America ; but at sea, and in the colonies, it
is, by distance, rarefied to such a degree, that only the
quick eye of a captain or a nabob can distinguish it from
absolute slavery. In the same way a promise is so weak-
ened by distance, that even a peace concluded a century
or so before, by the naval powers of Europe, could not
avert war from India. Physics, as already said, show
the cause of this phenomenon. This fact, perhaps, ren-
ders a lecture-room and teacher for speaking truth more
necessary to an heir apparent. Indeed, this speech is
quite as important as the Lusatian or Italian, which, ac-
cording to a golden bull, every future elector, king of
Bohemia, and pfalz-graf of the Rhine, had to learn in his
seventh year ; or even as the French, though no bull has
declared that essential.

Royal truthfulness towards his own and other nations
is not only, as others have said, a monarch's highest pol-
icy, but also, and for that very reason, the most difficult.
Upright minds are like straight roads, which seem to the
eye scarce half so long as those which wind artfully about ;
but their true length is found by a nearer examination.
Only a prince who cherishes noble and well-considered
desires will choose to reveal them ; as it is only cut dia-
monds of the purest water which can be set so that the
light may shine through.


Under all treaties of war and peace there lies a higher
bond of union than power, because without it they could
not even be formed, it is reliance on a given word, on
the power of character, not on land and sea forces. But
in history, which else accurately lays before us from
month to month the cost of the new triumphal-arches
for fresh victors, there is nothing more rare than an hon-
orable niche devoted to a king who speaks truly for the
present, and prophesies truly for the future. Royal truth-
fulness presupposes force of character, resolute courage,
and just strength of will. Finally, where this oak forest
stands and grows around a throne, there is the ancient
German sanctuary ; the throne within its shadow works
miracles, and the people round its base pray to Heaven for
protection. You and I hear such a forest rustling so near
our study that we could count its leaves.

BAIREUTH, January, 1806.

I have again unpacked my goods, because peace con-
tinues ; so that our meeting, as well as the review and
ratification of my predictions, must be postponed to a
more favorable season. In conclusion, and in jest, I ap-

Online Library1763-1825 Jean PaulLevana; or, The doctrine of education → online text (page 20 of 29)