The Reminiscences of Carl Schurz/Volume One/14 Brüning Salon — Triumph of the Reaction
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Volume One: Chapter XIV: Brüning Salon — Triumph of the Reaction
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|Translated from the original German by Eleonora Kinnicutt and Carl Schurz.|
IN the autumn of 1851 the refugees in London, especially the Germans, found a common meeting-place in the drawing-room of a born aristocrat, the Baroness von Brüning, née Princess Lieven, from one of the German provinces of Russia. She was then a little more than thirty years old; not exactly beautiful, but of an open, agreeable, winning expression of face, fine manners and a stimulating gift of conversation. How, with her aristocratic birth and social position, she had dropped into the democratic current I do not know. Probably the reports of the struggles for liberty in Western Europe, which crossed the Russian frontier, had inflamed her imagination, and her vivacious nature had indulged itself in incautious utterances against the despotic rule of the Emperor Nicholas. In short, she found life in Russia intolerable, or, may be, she was in danger of arrest had she not left her native country. For some time she lived in Germany and in Switzerland, and there became acquainted with various liberal leaders. She had also corresponded with Frau Kinkel and contributed a portion of the money which was employed in Kinkel's liberation. But on the European continent she believed herself constantly pursued by Russian influences; and no doubt the police, at least in Germany, made itself quite disagreeable to her. So she sought at last refuge on English soil, and in order to be in constant contact with persons of her own way of thinking she settled down in the midst of the Colony of German refugees in the suburb of St. John's Wood. She was most cordially received by the Kinkel family, and attempted to manage the social part of their establishment. This, however, soon proved impossible. The rich woman, reared in affluent circumstances, could hardly understand that a family obliged to work for its daily living with the most strenuous activity had to husband its time as well as its means with the strictest economy, and could allow itself the luxury of an agreeable social intercourse only to a limited extent. The industry and devotion to duty of the Kinkels could hardly accord with the well-meaning but somewhat extravagant intentions of Baroness Brüning. She hired a spacious house on St. John's Wood Terrace, opened her salon with great hospitality to her friends, and a numerous circle of refugees met there almost every evening.
The Baroness was surrounded by her husband and her children, and the sociability of her house was that of agreeable family life. Baron Brüning indeed did not seem to feel himself quite at home with the friends that visited his drawing-room. He was a distinguished-looking, quiet gentleman, of fine breeding and manners, who, if his ideas did not harmonize with the political principles and teachings that found voice around him, did not make the guests of his house feel his dissent. When the political opinions uttered in his presence happened to be too extreme a somewhat ironical smile would play about his lips; and he met the constantly recurring prophecy, that soon all dynasties on the European Continent would be upset and a family of republics take their place, with the quiet question: "Do you really think that this will soon happen?" But he was always pleasant and obliging, and never failed to fill his place in the social circle and welcomed everybody who was welcome to his wife. The more thoughtful among the guests, and those who had mental interests outside of revolutionary politics, recognized it as a matter of good breeding to reciprocate the amiability of the Baron with every possible attention; and they found in him a well-meaning and well-informed man, who had read much and had formed very clear opinions about many subjects. Thus relations of a certain confidentiality developed themselves between him and some of his guests, of whom I was one; and if he ever talked about his domestic conditions the impression was conveyed that he looked upon the democratic enthusiasms of his wife, with all its consequences, as a matter of fate which must be submitted to. The cause of his compliance with all her eccentricities was by some of us supposed to be that the fortune of the family had come from her side, but it is just as likely that it was the usual helplessness of the weaker will against the stronger, and that the Baron permitted himself to be whirled from place to place and from one social circle to another, although undesirable to him, because the power of resistance was not one of his otherwise excellent qualities. However, the two spoke of one another always with the greatest and most unaffected esteem and warmth, and the Baron made the education of his children the special object of his care and endeavor.
Baroness Brüning was almost entirely absorbed with the society of the exiles. She was not a woman of great mental gifts. Her knowledge was somewhat superficial and her thinking not profound. She possessed the education of "good society," and with it true goodness of heart in the most amiable form. As is usually the case with women whose views and opinions spring more from the emotions of the heart than from a clear and sober observation of things and proper conclusions drawn by the understanding, she devoted her enthusiasms and sympathies more to persons than to principles, endeavors and objects. Such women are frequently accused of an inordinate desire to please, and it may indeed have flattered the Baroness to be the center of a social circle in which there were many men and women of superior mind and character, but her enthusiastic nature was so genuine, her desire to offer a home to the exiles so indefatigable, her sympathy with every case of suffering so self-sacrificing, and her character, with all the freedom of personal intercourse, so perfectly spotless and unassailable, that she would easily have been forgiven much greater vanity. For many of the refugees she was really a good fairy. One she enabled at her own expense to send for his long-betrothed bride from Germany; for another she procured a decent dwelling, and made a secret agreement with the landlord according to which she paid part of the rent; she ran about to procure occupation as a teacher for a third; for a fourth, an artist, she got orders; to a fifth she was the sister of mercy in illness. With watchful providence she sought to learn from one what the other might want and what she might do to help, for she was always careful to hide the helping hand. Her self-sacrificing lavishness went so far that she imposed upon herself all sorts of privations to help others with her savings. Thus she had only one gown in which to appear in the salon. This was of purple satin and had in bygone times doubtless appeared very elegant; but as she constantly wore it there was visible on it not only threadbare spots, but even patches. Some of the ladies of our circle talked to her about it, and she replied: "Ah, yes, it is true I must have a new gown; I have been frequently on my way to a dressmaker, but every time something more necessary occurred to me and I turned back." The old gown had therefore to do service throughout another entire winter. There could have been nothing more charming than the zeal with which in her drawing-room she sought to cheer the depressed and to minister consolation and courage to the downcast, and I still see her, as with her sparkling blue eyes she sat among us and talked eloquently about the great change that was to take place and the good time which must inevitably soon come, and would triumphantly carry us all back into the fatherland. And with all this she was tormented with a disease of the heart which caused her sometimes great suffering and the foreboding of an early death. One day, when I accompanied her on a walk, she suddenly stood still and clutched my arm. Her breath seemed to stop. I looked at her in terror. She had closed her eyes with an expression of pain. At last she opened her eyes again and said: "Did you hear my heart beat? I shall soon die. I can live hardly more than a year. But do not tell anybody. I did not mean to speak of it, but it has just now escaped me." I tried to quiet her apprehensions, but in vain. "No," she said, "I know it, but it does not matter. Now let us talk about something else." Her presentiment was to come true only too quickly.
In the circle of the Brüning house there were some interesting and able men who had already proved their worth or were destined to prove it in later life. There was Loewe, who, shortly after I had met him in Switzerland, had left the Continent and sought a secure asylum in England. There was Count Oscar von Reichenbach of Silesia, a man of much knowledge and a thoroughly noble nature. There was Oppenheim, a writer of uncommon wit and large acquirements. There was Willich, the socialist leader, and Schimmelpfennig, two future American generals. The good Strodtmann, who had followed us to London, was frequently seen there. We also met there birds of passage of a different kind. One day a Frenchman from Marseilles, by the name of Barthélemi, was introduced, I do not remember by whom, in the Brüning salon and pointed out as a specially remarkable personage. His past had indeed been remarkable enough. Already before the revolution of 1848 he had taken part in a secret conspiracy, the so-called "Marianne," had, after being designated by lot, killed a police officer, and had been sentenced to a term in the galleys. In consequence of the revolution of 1848 he was set free, then fought on the barricades in the socialist rising in Paris, in June, 1848 — the bloody "June Battle" — whereupon he succeeded in escaping to England. It was said of him that he had killed several persons: some in duels, some without that formality. Now he passed as a "workingman," whose principal occupation was that of the professional conspirator. He stands before my eyes now as he entered the Brüning salon and took his seat near the fireplace: a man of a little more than thirty years, of sturdy figure, a face of dusky paleness with black mustache and goatee, the dark eyes glowing with piercing fire. He spoke in a deep, sonorous voice, slowly and measuredly with dogmatic assurance, waving off contrary opinions with a word of compassionate disdain. With the greatest coolness he explained to us his own theory of the revolution, which simply provided that the contrary minded without much ado be exterminated. The man expressed himself with great clearness, like one who had thought much and deliberately upon his subject and had drawn his conclusions by means of the severest logic. We saw before us, therefore, one of those fanatics that are not seldom produced in revolutionary times — men perhaps of considerable ability, whose understanding of the moral order of the universe has been thoroughly confused by his constant staring at one point; who has lost every conception of abstract right; to whom any crime appears permissible, nay, as a virtuous act, if it serves as a means to his end; who regards everybody standing in the way as outside of the protection of the law; who consequently is ever ready to kill anybody and to sacrifice also his own life for his nebulous objects. Such fanatics are capable of becoming as cruel as wild beasts and also of dying like heroes. It was quite natural that several of those who listened to Barthélemi in the Brüning salon felt uneasy in his company. Never was Barthélemi seen there again. A few years later, in 1855, he came to a characteristic end. He had been living constantly in London, but retired more and more from his friends because, as was said, he lived with a woman to whom he was passionately attached. It was reported also that he was acquainted with a wealthy Englishman whom he often visited. One day he called at the house of that Englishman with the woman mentioned. He carried a traveling satchel in his hand, like one who was on his way to a railroad station. Suddenly the report of a pistol shot was heard in the apartment of the Englishman, and Barthélemi, pursued by the cries of a woman servant, ran out of the house with his mistress. The Englishman was found dead in a pool of blood in his room. A police officer who tried to stop Barthélemi on the street also fell mortally wounded by Barthélemi's pistol. A crowd rapidly gathering stopped the murderer, disarmed him and delivered him to the authorities. The woman escaped in the confusion and was never seen again. All attempts to make Barthélemi disclose his curious relations with the murdered Englishman were vain. He wrapped himself in the deepest silence, and, so far as I know, the mysterious story has never been cleared up. There was only a rumor that Barthélemi had intended to go to Paris and kill Louis Napoleon, that the Englishman had promised him the necessary money, but had refused it at the decisive moment, and that at their last meeting Barthélemi had shot him, either in order to get possession of the money or in a rage at the refusal. Another rumor had it that the woman was only a spy of the French government, sent to London with instructions to watch Barthélemi and finally to betray him. Barthélemi was tried for murder in the first degree, sentenced to death, and hanged. He met death with the greatest composure, and exclaimed, in the face of the gallows, "In a few moments, now, I shall see the great mystery!" and then died with calm dignity.
My dear old friend, Fräulein Malwida von Meysenbug, has told the story with great warmth in her remarkable book, "The Memoirs of an Idealist." The reader will find there a very striking example of the impression which a personality like Barthélemi's, whatever the cool judgment of the understanding and the voice of justice about him may be, could make upon the soul of a woman of a superior mind and of a susceptible imagination. The execution of Barthélemi revolted her feelings and moved her to tears, but nothing could be more certain than that if a pardon had liberated him his insane fanaticism which made him speak of a murder as of a breakfast would have led him to other bloody deeds, and would finally again have placed him in the hands of the hangman.
Malwida von Meysenbug was one of my most valued friends in the Brüning circle. She was the daughter of Herr von Meysenbug, a minister of the Elector of Hesse-Cassel, who, probably unjustly, had been regarded as a stiff aristocrat and absolutist. After long inward struggles, in which a profound attachment to a young democrat, the brother of my friend, Friedrich Althaus, played an important part, Malwida openly declared herself an adherent of democratic principles; found it impossible to remain longer with her family; went in the year 1849-50 to Hamburg to co-operate with some kindred spirits of liberal sentiments in founding a high school for young women; came into some conflict with the police through her acquaintance and correspondence with democrats, and, especially attracted by the Kinkels, landed in London in our circle. She has herself described her development and the vicissitudes of her life with characteristic frankness and in an exceedingly interesting fashion in the book already mentioned — "The Memoirs of an Idealist." When we met in London she may have been about thirty-five, but she looked older than she really was. In point of appearance, she had not been favored by nature, but her friends soon became accustomed to overlook that disadvantage in the appreciation of her higher qualities. She had read much and had many opinions, which she maintained with great energy. With the most zealous interest she followed the events of the time on the political as well as on the literary, scientific and artistic field. She was animated by an almost vehement and truly eloquent enthusiasm for all that appeared to her good and noble and beautiful. She felt the impulse, wherever possible, to lend a hand, and pursued her endeavors with a zeal and an earnestness which made her occasionally a severe judge of what seemed to her a light-minded or frivolous treatment of important things. Her whole being was so honest, simple and unpretending, the goodness of her heart so inexhaustible, her sympathies so real and self-sacrificing, her principles so genuine and faithful, that everybody who learned to know her well readily forgave her that trait of imaginative eccentricity which appeared sometimes in her views and enthusiasms, but which really was to be attributed to the excitability of her temperament and the innate kindness and nobility of her heart. The tone of conversation in the Brüning salon did not always please her. When she carried on serious discourse with a member of our circle about important subjects the lighthearted merriment of others was apt to jar upon her. The Baroness herself could not follow her much in the grave treatment which Malwida bestowed upon all questions of consequence, but their personal sympathies still held them together.
The books written by Malwida von Meysenbug, long after the time of which I speak, reveal a human soul of the finest instincts and impulses, and, in spite of many disappointments, of touching faithfulness to high principles and aspirations. One of them, the "Memoirs of an Idealist," owed to its exquisite charms of noble sentiment and genuine sincerity the rare good fortune of reappearing in literature after a long period of seeming oblivion. She lived to a high old age, the last thirty years in Rome, as the center of a large circle of friends, many of them distinguished characters, who clung to her inspiring personality with singular affection. We remained warm friends to the end.
Now to return to my narrative — an event occurred which essentially darkened the horizon of refugeedom, and which also gave to my fate an unexpected and decisive turn.
The reports which we had received from our friends in Paris made us believe that Louis Napoleon, the president of the French republic, was an object of general contempt, that he played a really ridiculous figure with his manifest ambition to restore the empire in France and to mount the throne, and that every attempt to accomplish this by force would inevitably result in his downfall and in the institution of a strong and truly republican government. The tone of the opposition papers in Paris gave much color to this view. Suddenly, on the 2d of December, 1851, the news arrived in London that Louis Napoleon had actually undertaken the long-expected coup d'état. He had secured the support of the army, had occupied the meeting-place of the national assembly with troops, had arrested the leaders of the opposition, as well as General Changarnier, who had been intrusted by the national assembly with its protection, had laid his hand upon several other generals suspected of republican sentiments, had published a decree restoring universal suffrage, which had been restricted by the national assembly, and issued a proclamation to the French people. In this he accused the parliamentary parties of criminal selfishness and demanded the establishment of a consulate, the consul to hold office for ten years. Exciting reports arrived in rapid succession. Members of the national assembly had met in considerable numbers and tried to organize resistance to the coup d'état, but were soon dispersed by military force. At last the news came that the people, too, were beginning to "descend into the streets" and to build barricades. Now the decisive battle was to be fought.
It is impossible to describe the state of mind produced among the exiles by these reports. We Germans ran to the meeting-places of the French clubs, because we expected to receive there the clearest and most reliable tidings, perhaps from sources which might not be open to the general public. In these clubs we found a feverish excitement bordering upon madness. Our French friends shouted and shrieked and gesticulated and hurled opprobrious names at Louis Napoleon and cursed his helpers, and danced the Carmagnole and sang "Ça Ira." All were sure of a victory of the people. The most glorious bulletins of the progress of the street fight went from mouth to mouth. Some of them were proclaimed by wild-looking revolutionary exiles, who had jumped upon tables, and frantic screams of applause welcomed them. So it went on a night, a day and again a night. Sleep was out of the question. There was hardly time for the necessary meals. The reports of victory were followed by others that sounded less favorable. They could not and would not be believed. They were "the dispatches of the usurper and his slaves"; "they lied"; "they could not do otherwise than lie"; but the messages continued more and more gloomy. The barricades which the people had erected in the night of the 2d and 3d of December had been taken by the army without much trouble. On the 4th a serious battle occurred on the streets of the Faubourgs St. Martin and St. Denis, but there, too, the troops had remained masters of the field. Then the soldiery rushed into the houses and murdered without discrimination or compassion. At last there was the quiet of the graveyard in the great city. The popular rising had been comparatively insignificant and powerless. The usurper who had but recently been represented as a weak-minded adventurer, the mere "nephew of his uncle," had succeeded in subjugating Paris. The departments did not move; there was no doubt the Republic was at an end, and with its downfall vanished also the prospect of the new revolutionary upheaval, which, on the impulse coming from France, was expected to spread over the whole European continent.
Stunned by all these terrible reports, and mentally as well as physically exhausted, we quietly returned to our quarters. After I had recuperated from this consuming excitement by a long sleep I tried to become clear in my mind about the changed situation of things. It was a foggy day, and I went out because I found it impossible to sit still within my four walls. Absorbed in thought, I wandered on without any definite aim, and found myself at last in Hyde Park, where, in spite of the chilly air, I sat down on a bench. In whatever light I might consider the downfall of the republic and the advent of a new monarchy in France, one thing seemed to me certain: All the efforts connected with the revolution of 1848 were now hopeless; a period of decided and general reaction was bound to come, and whatever the future might bring of further developments in the direction of liberal movement must necessarily have a new starting-point.
With this conviction my own situation became equally clear to me. It would have been childish to give myself up to further illusory hopes of a speedy return to the Fatherland. To continue our plottings and thereby bring still more mischief upon others, appeared to me a reckless and wicked game. I had long recognized the exile's life to be empty and enervating. I felt an irresistible impulse not only to find for myself a well-regulated activity, but also to do something really and truly valuable for the general good. But where, and how? The fatherland was closed to me. England was to me a foreign country, and would always remain so. Where, then? "To America," I said to myself. "The ideals of which I have dreamed and for which I have fought I shall find there, if not fully realized, but hopefully struggling for full realization. In that struggle I shall perhaps be able to take some part. It is a new world, a free world, a world of great ideas and aims. In that world there is perhaps for me a new home. Ubi libertas ibi patria." I formed my resolution on the spot. I would remain only a short time longer in England to make some necessary preparations, and then — off to America!
I had sat perhaps half an hour on that bench in Hyde Park, immersed in my thoughts, when I noticed that on the other end of the bench a man was sitting who seemed likewise to be musingly staring at the ground. He was a little man, and as I observed him more closely I believed I recognized him. Indeed, I did. It was Louis Blanc, the French socialist leader, a former member of the provisional government of France. I had recently in some social gathering been introduced to him, and he had talked with me in a very amiable and animated way. Indeed, I had found him uncommonly attractive. When I was through with my own thoughts I arose to go away without intending to disturb him, but he lifted his head, looked at me with eyes that seemed not to have known sleep for several nights, and said, "Ah, c'est vous, mon jeune ami! C'est fini, n'est ce pas? C'est fini!" We pressed one another's hands. His head sank again upon his breast, and I went my way home to inform my parents at once, by letter, of the resolution I had taken on that bench in Hyde Park. Some of my fellow-exiles tried to dissuade me from it, picturing to me all sorts of wonderful things which would happen very soon on the European continent and in which we refugees must take an active part; but I had seen too thoroughly through the unreality of these fantastic imaginings to be shaken in my resolve.
Now something happened that infused into my apparently gloomy situation a radiance of sunshine and opened to my life unlooked-for prospects. A few weeks previous to Louis Napoleon's coup d'état I had some business to transact with another German exile, and visited him in his residence in Hampstead. I vividly remember how I went there on foot, through rows of hedges and avenues of trees, where now, probably, is a dense mass of houses, not anticipating that a meeting of far greater importance than that with him was in store for me. My business was soon disposed of and I rose to go, but my friend stopped me and called out into an adjacent room, "Margaretha, come in, if you please, here is a gentleman with whom I wish you to become acquainted. This is my sister-in-law," he added, turning to me, "just arrived from Hamburg on a visit." A girl of about eighteen years entered, of fine stature, a curly head, something childlike in her beautiful features and large, dark, truthful eyes. This was my introduction to my future wife.
CARL SCHURZ AND HIS WIFE
On the 6th of July, 1852, we were married in the parish church of Marylebone in London. I have put down in writing how it all came to pass in those otherwise gloomy days; but that part of my story naturally belongs to my children only and to our inner home circle.
In August we were ready to sail for America. Before my departure Mazzini invited me to visit him once more. He confided to me the secret of a revolutionary enterprise which he had in hand and which, as he said, promised great results. There was to be a new uprising in Lombardy. With his glowing eloquence he pictured to me how the Italian soldiers of liberty would crowd the Austrians into the Alps, and how then similar movements would spring from this victorious insurrection in all other countries of the European Continent, and that then such young men as I should be on the spot to help carry on the work so prosperously begun. "All this will happen," he said, "before you will reach America, or shortly after. How you will wish not to have left us! You will take the next ship to return to Europe. Save yourself this unnecessary voyage." I had to confess to him that my hopes were not so sanguine as his; that I did not see in the condition of things on the Continent any prospect of a change soon to come, which might call me back to the Fatherland and to a fruitful activity; that, if in the remote future such changes should come they would shape themselves in ways different from those that we now imagined, and that then there would be other people to carry them through. Mazzini shook his head, but he saw that he could not persuade me. Thus we parted, and I never saw him again.
A short time after my arrival in America I did indeed hear of the outbreak of the revolutionary enterprise which Mazzini had predicted to me. It consisted of an insurrectionary attempt in Milan, which was easily suppressed by the Austrian troops and resulted only in the imprisonment of a number of Italian patriots. And Mazzini's cause, the unity of Italy under a free government, seemed then to be more hopeless than ever.
Kossuth returned from America a sorely disappointed man. He had been greeted by the American people with unbounded enthusiasm. Countless multitudes had listened to his enchanting eloquence and overwhelmed him with sympathy and admiration. The President of the United States had reverentially pressed his hand and Congress had received him with extraordinary honors. There had been no end of parades and receptions and festive banquets. But the government of the United States, with the approval of the American people, steadfastly maintained the traditional policy of non-interference in European affairs. Kossuth's appeal for "substantial aid" to his country in its struggle for independence had been in vain. When he returned to England he found that the popular enthusiasm there, which had greeted him but a few months before, was burned out. He still tried to continue the advocacy of his cause by delivering addresses in various English cities, and was listened to with the most respectful and sympathetic attention as a very distinguished lecturer. When he appeared on the streets he was no longer cheered by multitudes surging around him. Persons recognizing him would take off their hats and whisper to one another: "There goes Kossuth, the great Hungarian patriot." His cause, the independence of his country, seemed to be dead and buried.
Mazzini and Kossuth — how strangely fate played with those two men! Mazzini had all his life plotted, and struggled, and suffered for the unification of Italy under a free national government. Not many years after the period of which I speak the national unity of Italy did indeed come, first partially aided by the man Mazzini hated most, the French Emperor Louis Napoleon, and then greatly advanced by the marvelous campaign of Garibaldi, which is said to have been originally planned by Mazzini himself, and which reads in history like a romantic adventure of the time of the Crusades. Finally the unification of Italy was fully achieved under the auspices of the dynasty of Savoy; and Mazzini the republican at last died in an obscure corner in unified Italy, where he had hidden himself under a false name, an exile in his own country.
Kossuth had agitated with his wonderful eloquence and then conducted a brilliant though unfortunate war for the national independence of Hungary. A defeated man, he went into exile. In the course of time, much of the political autonomy, of the substantial independence of Hungary as a self-governing country, was accomplished by peaceable means, and the Hungarian people seemed for a while to be contented with it. But it was accomplished under the kingship of the house of Hapsburg; and Kossuth, who never would bow his head to the Hapsburg, inflexibly resisted every invitation of his people calling him back to his country whose legendary national hero he had not ceased to be; and he finally died as a voluntary exile at Turin, a very old and lonely man.
A large part of what those two men had striven for was at last won — but it then appeared in a form in which they would not recognize it as their own.
The German revolutionists of 1848 met a similar fate. They fought for German unity and free government and were defeated mainly by Prussian bayonets. Then came years of stupid political reaction and national humiliation, in which all that the men of 1848 had stood for seemed utterly lost. Then a change. Frederick William IV., who more than any man of his time had cherished a mystic belief in the special divine inspiration of kings — Frederick William IV. fell insane and had to drop the reins of government. The Prince of Prussia, whom the revolutionists of 1848 had regarded as the bitterest and most uncompromising enemy of their cause, followed him, first as regent and then as king — destined to become the first emperor of the new German Empire. He called Bismarck to his side as prime minister — Bismarck, who originally had been the sternest spokesman of absolutism and the most ardent foe of the revolution. And then German unity, with a national parliament, was won, not through a revolutionary uprising, but through monarchical action and foreign wars.
Thus, if not all, yet a great and important part of the objects struggled for by the German revolutionists of 1848 was after all accomplished — much later, indeed, and less peaceably and less completely than they had wished, and through the instrumentality of persons and forces originally hostile to them, but producing new conditions which promise to develop for the united Germany political forms and institutions of government much nearer to the ideals of 1848 than those now existing. And many thoughtful men now frequently ask the question — and a very pertinent question it is — whether all these things would have been possible had not the great national awakening of the year 1848 prepared the way for them.
But in the summer of 1852 the future lay before us in a gloomy cloud. In France, Louis Napoleon seemed firmly seated on the neck of his submissive people. The British government under Lord Palmerston had shaken hands with him. All over the European Continent the reaction from the liberal movements of the past four years celebrated triumphant orgies. How long it would prove irresistible nobody could tell. That some of its very champions would themselves become the leaders of the national spirit in Germany even the most sanguine would in 1851 not have ventured to anticipate.
My young wife and myself sailed from Portsmouth in August, 1852, and landed in the harbor of New York on a bright September morning. With the buoyant hopefulness of young hearts, we saluted the new world.
END OF VOLUME I