Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Adam Heinrich Müller

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 10
Adam Heinrich Müller

by Friedrich Lauchert


Publicist and political economist, convert, b. at Berlin, 30 June, 1779; d. at Vienna, 17 Jan., 1829. It was intended that he should study Protestant theology, but from 1798 he devoted himself to Göttingen to the study of law, philosophy, and natural science. Returning to Berlin, he was persuaded by his friend Gentz to take up political science. After working for some time as referendary in the Kurmärkische Kammer in Berlin, he traveled in Sweden and Denmark, spent about two years in Poland, and then went to Vienna, where he was converted to the Catholic Faith on 30 April, 1805. From 1806 to 1809 he lived at Dresden as tutor of a prince of the Saxe-Weimar family and lecturer on German literature, dramatic art, and political science. In 1808 he edited with Heinrich von Kleist the periodical "Phoebus." In 1809 he returned to Berlin, and in 1811 to Vienna, where he lived in the house of Archduke Maximilian of Austria-Este and became the friend of Clement Maria Hoffbauer. In 1813 he was appointed imperial commissioner and major of the rifle-corps in Tyrol, and took part in the wars for liberty and later on, as counsellor of the government, in the reorganization of the country. In 1815 he was called to Vienna, and went to Paris with the imperial staff. On the conclusion of peace, he became Austrian consul-general for Saxony at Leipzig, and agent for Anhalt and Schwarzburg. He edited here the periodicals: "Deutscher Staatsanzeiger" (1816-18) and "Unparteiischer Literatur- und Kirchenkorrespndent," and attended the ministerial conferences at Carlsbad and Vienna (1819-20). In 1826, at the instance of Prince von Metternich, he was ennobled as Ritter von Nittersdorf, was recalled to Vienna (1827), appointed imperial counsellor, and employed in the service of the chancery.

Müller was a man of great and versatile talents, an excellent orator, and a suggestive writer. Several of his works were based upon his own lectures; the most important (besides the above-mentioned periodicals) are: "Die Lehre von Gegensatz" (Berlin, 1804); "Vorlesungen über die deutsche Wissenschaft u. Literatur" (Dresden, 1806, 2nd ed., 1807); "Von der Idee der Schönheit" (lectures; Berlin, 109); "Die Elemente der Staatskunst" (lectures; 3 parts, Berlin, 1809); Über König Friedrich II. u. die Natur, Wuerde u. Bestimmung der preussischen Monarchie" (lectures; Berlin, 1810); "Die Theorie der Staatshaushaltung u. ihre Forschritte in Deutschland u. England seit Adam Smith" (2 vols., Vienna, 1812); "Vermischte Schriften über Staat, Philosophie u. Kunst" (2 vols., Vienna, 1812; 2nd ed., 1817); "Versuch einer neuen Theorie des Geldes, mit besonderer Rücksicht auf Grossbritannien" (Leipzig, 1816); "Zwölf Reden über die Beredsamkeit u. deren Verfall in Deutschland" (Leipzig, 1817); "Die Fortschritte der nationalökonomischen Wissenschaft in England" (Leipzig, 1817); "Von der Notwendigkeit einer theologischen Grundlage der gesamten Staatswissenschaften u. der Staatswirtschaft insbesondere" (Leipzig, 1820; new ed., Vienna, 1898); "Die Gewerbe-Polizei in Bezeihung auf den Landbau" (Leipzig, 1824); "Vorschlag zu einem historischen Ferien-Cursus" (Vienna, 1829). A critical pamphlet, which was written in 1817 on the occasion of the Protestant jubilee of the Reformation and entitled, "Etwas das Goethe gesagt hat. Beleuchtet von Adam Müller. Leipzig den 31 Oktober, 1817," was printed but not published (reprinted in Vienna, 1910). Nevertheless, Traugott Krug's reply, entitled "Etwas, das Herr Adam Müller gesagt hat über etwas, das Goethe gesagt hat, und noch etwas, das Luther gesagt hat" (Leipzig, 1817), appeared in two editions.

In the field of literature and aesthetics, Müller belongs to the Romantic school. He is a Romanticist even in his specialty, politics and political economy. As Eichendorff says in his "Geschichte der poetischen Literatur Deutschlands" (new ed., by W. Kosch, Kempten, 1906, p. 352), Müller "mapped out a domain of his own, the application of Romanticism to the social and political conditions of life." Müller himself declares: "The reconciliation of science and art and of their noblest ideas with serious political life was the purpose of my larger works" (Vermischte Schriften, I, p. iii). His chief work is the "Elemente der Staatskunst," originating in lectures delivered before Prince Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar and an assembly of politicians and diplomats at Dresden in the winter, 1808-09. It treats in six books of the state, of right, of the spirit of legislation in antiquity and in the Middle Ages, of money and national wealth, of the economical factors of the state and trade, of the relation between the state and religion. Müller endeavoured to comprehend the connexion between political and social science, and, while using the historical method, to base them upon philosophy and religion. (Cf. the preface to the first volume of the "Elemente," where he treats exhaustively of the differences between his work and Montesquieu's "Esprit des lois"; cf. also the sixth book of this work, and the above-mentioned work of 1820.) With Edmund Burke, Friedrich von Gentz, Joseph de Maistre, and Karl Ludwig von Haller, he must be reckoned among the chief opponents of revolutionary ideas in politics. In his work, "Von der Notwendigkeit einer theologischen Grundlage der gesamten Staatswissenschaften" (1820), Müller rejects, like Haller (Restauration der Staatswissenschaften, 1816), the distinction between constitutional and civil law, which rests entirely on the false idea of the state's omnipotence. His ideal is medieval feudalism, on which the reorganization of modern political institutions should be modelled. His position in political economy is defined by his strong opposition to Adam Smith's system of materialistic-liberal (so-called classical) political economy, or the so-called industry system. He is thus also an adversary of free trade. In contrast with the economical individualism of Adam Smith, he emphasizes the ethical element in national economy, the duty of the state toward the individual, and the religious basis which is also necessary in this field. Müller's importance in the history of political economy is acknowledged even by the opponents of his religious and political point of view. His reaction against Adam Smith, says Roscher (Geschichte der National-Oekonomik, p. 763), "is not blind or hostile, but is important, and often truly helpful." The reactionary and feudalistic thought in his writings, which agreed so little with the sprit of the times, prevented his political ideas from exerting a more notable and lasting influence on his age, while their religious character prevented them from being justly appreciated.

WURZBACH, Biograph. Lex. des Kaisertums Oesterreich, XIX (Vienna, 1868), 322-8; MISCHLER in Allg. Deutsche Biog., XXII (Leipzig, 1885), 501-11; ROSENTHAL, Convertitenbilder, I, i (3rd ed., Ratisbon, 1889), 70-93; SCHMIDT in Staatslex., s.v.; GOEDEKE, Grundriss der Gesch. der deutschen Dichtung, VI (2nd ed., Leipzig, 1898), 196-8; ROSCHER, Gesch. der National-Oekonomik in Deutschland (Munich, 1874), 763-78; Briefwechsel zwischen Friedrich Gentz u. Adam Heinrich Müller 1800-1829 (Stuttgart, 1857).

FRIEDRICH LAUCHERT