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The Childhood and Youth of a Prussian Nobleman in the Late 18th Century. From the Memoirs of Friedrich August Ludwig von der Marwitz (Retrospective Account)

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I now began to make up for the deficiencies in my education. – I studied Latin properly and logic as well as some other philosophical elements, both of which resulted in correct and sharp thinking, and since it was so easy for me I began believing back then that we burden children and youngsters much too early with these things. They are confused and glad not to have anything to do with it anymore and spend their young years in idleness and wildness. Learning should be limited during the childhood years; instead there should be the father’s supervision and example, the order and discipline of the father’s house, an awakening of the senses in order to learn by seeing, hearing, and participating, and not just by listening to the teacher preaching. Physical exercise and effort as well as the thorough study of single sciences one after another rather than all at the same time are appropriate for the young man. [ . . . ]

b. Testament (1828/1831)

[ . . . ]

Admonishment to my children

I hope that all my children will continuously remember the house they originate from – a house which never pursued earthly goods but only honor, the true and just, a disposition for which there have been several shining examples. I hope that all my children will follow this direction and will always remain in unity and love for each other so that they will not be jealous of their brother if fortune favors him and so that he won’t complain in case his siblings should cause him a lot of effort and work. They must always remember that their position is not that of consumers of their earthly possessions but only that of loyal guardians and that they are to leave them to their heirs just as their fathers have left them to them.

Man is not an isolated plant within creation which lives and dies alone, but his families are a connected whole, which must remain connected and continue good intentions according to the will of the creator. [ . . . ]

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