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Friedrich August Ludwig von der Marwitz: Excerpt from the Essay "On the Causes of Crime Getting out of Hand" (1836)

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Usually when the children weren't in school, they observed their father or their mother or their neighbor at work and helped out, as all children have a natural work instinct and try to do what a grown up does. And when they lay on a field behind oxen or pigs or geese, they learned about God's nature, the animals, the birds, the fields, and the business of farming, and they practiced it again and again.

Now they succumb to whatever thoughts they have, or speculate further about those that were taught to them, and consider themselves more intelligent than their parents and hope to become more than they are. The parents let their children go, and the best ones complain about it. Unfortunately, many children now only see their fathers drunk, their mothers quarreling, or both thieving.

It was not so long ago that I spoke with a peasant about his son, who had distinguished himself in school.

He said, "Praise the Lord that it will soon be over, he'll be confirmed this year."
I said: "Why 'praise the Lord'? He spent his time very well."
He: "Ach! He knows nothing at all, he still has everything to learn."
I: "You're wrong, he's the best in the school and knows enough."
He: "Yes, he knows about elephants and about the moon, and wants to be smart – but he can't bridle a horse or drive a plow, he can't even chase down hogs from the courtyard; he corrals them from one corner into another. When I was his age I could do everything, but I still can't write and never needed to my entire life. He writes as well as the sexton, but what will he write? He was to plow and plant and harvest, that's what he has to do!"

And this peasant was a very reasonable, industrious, well-off man, the oracle of the entire community, and he was right – for these youth who are the best in their class are almost always drawn away from their callings, they speculate about a better and more comfortable condition, and are mostly lost.

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