Harper's Weekly Editorials on Carl Schurz/Mr. Schurz Upon the Emperor William
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Mr. Schurz Upon the Emperor William
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|From Harper's Weekly, March 31, 1888, p. 223. See also the translation of Carl Schurz's eulogy, Kaiser Wilhelm I.|
The career of the late Emperor of Germany will be nowhere more impressively and wisely interpreted than by Carl Schurz at the great memorial meeting of Germans in New York. Among distinguished men of German birth no one represents more signally than Mr. Schurz the political sympathies and views which are radically opposed to those of the Emperor William. His fidelity to them as a youth brought him in danger of his life in Germany, and led him to adopt America as his home, and as William was the genius of the German despotism of forty years ago, no tribute to him could have the peculiar interest which attended that of Mr. Schurz.
His address is an admirable illustration of his keen political insight, his judicial mind, his candor, his historic instinct, and his comprehensive intelligence. He said that the audience had assembled as American citizens, but with a natural pride and tender interest in the land of their birth. They were of all political views which sympathies, and he himself was among those whom the Emperor had driven from their native country. Mr. Schurz pointed out at once the secret of the universal German feeling for the Emperor in the fact that under his reign, fulfilling the ardent hope of heroic generations, Germany had ceased to be a name, and had become a nation. The figure of William therefore will stand “in dim mythical splendor” with that of Barbarossa. Already before his death he was a national hero and his past was forgotten in the fond pride of Germans in a united Germany.
Mr. Schurz felicitously characterized Wilhelm, not as a man of genius, but of supreme tact to perceive and to turn to the best account the genius of others. As a youth William saw Prussia overwhelmed by a state which was the product of revolutionary ideas. The only national salvation lay in the army under unlimited royal power as the adversary of the revolution. He accepted a Constitution only as the guarantee of absolute royal power, but power not for tyranny or self-indulgence, but for the benefit of the people. To this use of power, as he conceived it, he devoted himself like a day-laborer. His army was immense. It was a people in arms, and for that reason Germany is the peace-watch of Europe. The orator's allusion's to the present Emperor were full of feeling and hope. No sketch of his address can do it any justice. But it was another illustration of the very great ability of a man who, amid the passions of our politics, as in those of an earlier day in Germany, maintains the independence and courage and fidelity to conscience which are the real bulwarks of the republic.
|This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).|