By no means do I maintain that guaranteed rights are impossible except by means of written laws; that genuine freedom is impossible except by means of Chambers. For this there are a number of forms and paths. Only it is not manly to be constantly changing paths and forms instead of continuing steadfastly and courageously to the end of the path on which we have been set by Providence. (Bravo!)
It is even less manly because the distorted image of liberty has been disgraced, and faith in the archetype of liberty abandoned. (Bravo!)
Our constitution bore, according to a royal pronouncement, the broad stamp of its origins; now this stamp is getting narrower from year to year. (Voices from the left: Only not too narrow.) If we strike out the constitution, then we will have removed the damage done by the revolution, but also its gains. If, by contrast, we continue along the path we have taken over the last three years, restoring step by step the goods that have really been destroyed and damaged, along the path of public discussion and thereby of inner conviction, then we will doubly regain [our constitution], we will make it stronger and, at the same time, increase its value in the public consciousness. Then we will have achieved not just these goods, but also their proper appreciation in the nation, which is its pledge for the future. (Bravo on the right.)
Yes, our constitution, as it stands, is still a memorial to Prussia's fall, and thereby a memorial to Prussia's shame. But it is to no avail to destroy this memorial instead of, by deeds of loyalty and political wisdom, transforming its inscription step by step, so that it might remain standing through the ages as a memorial to Prussia's rebuilding, as a memorial to Prussia's honor. Therefore I vote for [moving onto the daily] agenda. (Lively applause.)
Source: Friedrich Julius Stahl, Siebzehn parlamentarische Reden und drei Vorträge [Seventeen Parliamentary Speeches and Three Lectures]. Berlin: Wilhelm Hertz, 1862, pp. 27-36.
Translation: Jeremiah Riemer