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Eugen Richter on the German Nobility (1898)
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A discussion of a statistic on noblemen in Berlin in the Deutsches Adelsblatt in August 1897 referred to those who had turned to common professions – merchant, factory owner, agent – as "failures in life.” As some kind of consolation for these "failed lives," it added that the "class of merchants is elevated" through the addition of noblemen "who know no profit mania." The Korrespondenz für Zentrumsblätter reminded those gentlemen of the Deutsches Adelsblatt, with their old family trees, that among their ancestors there may have been those who lived "by their wits" in their day and who honored the principle:

Riding and robbery is no disgrace
The noblest of the land do it

by lying in wait for the merchant along the road and taking his goods by force. Most peculiar is the sentence about the noblemen who "know no profit mania," if one thinks of the gentlemen who now set the tone in the Agrarian League [Bund der Landwirte], and who in their demands à la Kanitz and the like are surely the eminent masters of noble modesty and the most avowed despisers of this "profit mania."

Moreover, the Adelsblatt complains that 202 noblemen in Berlin are forced to make do with lower civil service jobs, and it says about them: "Here one can speak with even greater justification of a social decline."

Source: Eugen Richter, Politisches ABC-Buch: Ein Lexikon parlamentarischer Zeit- und Streitfragen [A Political ABC Book: A Lexicon of Contemporary Parliamentary Questions and Points of Contention]. Ninth edition, Berlin, 1898.

Translation: Thomas Dunlap

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