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It is difficult to select portions from Jahn's book for the purpose
of describing him and his work, for all is characteristic; the book and author are cast in one mold.* Its work is, in the fullest sense of the words, what it purports to be-a German Turning system, in which a system of gymnastic exercises, complete within itself, is set forth with sound judgment, vivid style, and correct tact. It is not a wearisome, methodical, elementary joint-gymnastics for dolls ; nor does it treat exclusively of bodily exercises, but discusses with great earnestness the moral atmosphere of the Turning organization.
The Turning system soon spread from Berlin throughout Northern Germany, and a large part of Southern Germany. Turning excursions had much influence in producing this result. Next to Berlin, Breslau had the largest number of Turners -some eight hundred. At that city, students, Catholic and Protestant seminary pupils, the pupils of four gymnasia, officers and professors, frequented the Turning-ground. At their head were Harnisch and Massmann; while Director Mönnich (of Hofwyl) and Wolfgang Menzel, then students, were among the assistant teachers. Singing flourished. On Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, after exercising from three to seren, the whole company returned singing to the city. The first half of the four hours, Turning exercises was there used in the drill, and the other half in the other exercises, especially games; an arrangement which is better than to begin with the more inspiriting portion of the exercises, and to end with the more serious and laborious drill.
Jahn's judicious distinction between the Turning school and Turning exercises is one that might well be introduced in other subjects.
For instance, in teaching singing, the first half of the lesson might be occupied in singing the scale, &c., and the other half with singing songs, &c., which he had learned before.
We very often hear much said, at the present day, of the opposition between an artificial organization and a buman development. On this subject the mistaken opinion often prevails that the intelligent, efficient human will is, as a matter of course, counteracted by the course of historical development. But this is not the case; the question is only, Whether that will was in harmony with the development and tendency of the people, or not. If not, it is true that its only result is a rain endeavor to effect something. This was the case, for instance, when Brutus endeavored to free Rome by the assassination of Cæsar. But what one of God's commissioned mes
• Thus I have unwillingly left out Jahn's observations about national festivals, Turning schools, surther exercises, costuine, &c.
sengers can do, when in harmony with the age, is shown by Luther's Reformation.
It was one of the charges brought against the Turning system, that it was an affair artificially contrived, not a natural outgrowth. It is true that it grew quickly; fruits naturally ripen rapidly in hot weather. The period from 1810 to 1813, when Turning grew up, was certainly hot enough. Was the fire burning under the ashes all the time from 1806, which broke into a flame in 1813 ? Ever after the defeat of Jena, a deep grief was burning in the hearts of all Ger
men and youth. The longing to free the beloved German fatherland, to renew its ancient glory, nourished among them a powerful mutual bond of the truest love. And the early Turners were among those included in this bond.
Their interested participation was nothing artificial, but merely the natural fruit of their earnest patriotism. This appears clearly enough from Jahn's account of the first beginning of the Turning system. It was this community of feeling and ideals which made the development of the art so rapid. There grew up, at the same time with it, a technical language, so appropriate that, instead of quickly going out of fashion, as artificial things do, it is at present, thirty-seven years after its appearance, entirely received and current.
Together with this first natural development of the Turning system, there came up also a reaction against many received and universal customs and manners. This necessarily aroused enemies, and the more because the Turners frequently overpassed the bounds of moderation, and made Turning identical with a warfare against all ancient errors. This was particularly the case after the war of freedom.
These errors did not escape the attention of the friends of the Turning system; and they endeavored to remedy them, whenever and however they could. This apppears, for instance, from the following extract from an address to the students, delivered at the Wartburg festival, by a man whose liberal views are universally known; namely, Oken. He said: “Beware of the delusion that upon you depends the existence, and continuance, and honor of Germany. Germany depends only upon herself as a whole. Each class of men is only one member of the body called State, and contributes to its support only so much as its circumstances permit. You are yet young, and have no other duty than so to conduct yourselves that you may grow up aright; to train yourselves; not to injure yourselves by foolish practices; to apply yourselves, without permitting your attention to be diverted to any thing else, to this purpose
which lies straight before you. The state is at present not concerned with
you; it has to do with you only in that you may hereafter become active members of it. You have no need of discussing what ought or ought not to happen in the state; it is only proper for you to consider how you shall yourselves in future act in it, and how you may worthily prepare yourselves to do so. In short, all that you do should be done only with reference to yourselves, to your life as students; and all else should be avoided, as foreign to your occupations and your life, in order that your setting out in life may not be ridiculous.”
These words point out clearly the mistaken road by which the students afterward departed further and further from the right road. But they should not hear all the blame.
If a child has good and bad qualities, some people will look only at the former, and will foretell all manner of good of him; while others will see only the evil in him, and will prophesy an evil future for the child. But any one, who loves him truly, will consider how to cherish his good qualities, and to subdue his bad ones.
Such a child, with good qualities, but not without faults, was the Turning system. Passow, a man of honesty and benevolence, and of disinterested activity, looked almost altogether at its bright side, and in his " Object of Turning" (Turnziel) expressed hopes quite too great; it might almost be said that he spoke ill-luck to the child. Blame always follows excessive praise; praise must absolutely state the truth, must contain a just estimate of things.
My friend Steffens, on the other hand, saw only the dark side, the evils of the system; and he wrote his “ Caricatures," (Curicaturen,) and his " Object of Turning," (Turnziel,) which was directed against Passow's “ Turnziel.” This talented man had lived all his life in the enthusiastic love of science and art; and this new system seemed to him to be cold and even inimical to every thing which he loved best. Jahn's rough, harsh, strong character was not agreeable to him; in the bitter censoriousness of many of the Turners, he paturally saw a hasty, presumptuous endeavor to improve the world; in their disrespect for many eminent men, unruly vulgarity; and in their German manners, only an affectation of them.
Thus there broke out in Breslau a violent contest between the friends and enemies of the Turners,* which called out many other
This contest, in which I also took part, Steffens has described in his Memoirs. Steffens exercised a most profound and kindly influence upon my life; for which I shall forever be grateful to him. He was my instructor and my brother-in-law; and for eiglit years we lived as faithful colleagues together, in the same house at Breslau. And now suddenly we came into opposition to each other. Our lasting, and mutual, and heartfelt love was such that it can not be described how much we both suffered from this truly trigic relation. My friends at Breslau even advised me to leave the place. When Steffens visited me, eighteen years afterward, at Erlangen, we there quierly reviewed the evil days at Breslau, This, our last
publications besides Passow's and Steffens', only part of which would now have any historical interest. A work of permanent value on the subject is that of Captain von Schmeling, on Turning and the Landwehr; in which he showed how Turning was a valuable preparatory school for the training of the militia men.* Harnisch wrote “ Turning in its Universal Relations," (Das Turnen in Seinen Allseitigen Verhaltnissen.)
In a dialogue entitled “ Turning and the State,"t I defended Jahn and the Turning system from the charge of being Jacobinical, and of hate toward France; and, in some others, against those who charged it with being anti-Christian. But this controversy was warmly carried on in other places besides Silesia. Arndt wrote powerfully in favor of Turning. The physician Könen, in Berlin, w ote upon its medical importance ; $ not to mention many other publications.
During this controversy, the Prussian government showed great and deep interest in the Turning system. A plan had even been prepared for the establishment of Turning-grounds throughout the whole kingdom.
But on the very day when this was to have been laid before the king for his approval the news of Sand's murder of Kotzebue reached Berlin, and the approval was withheld. This was the first fruit of that unhappy deed.
Many years passed before Turning was again freely practiced in Prussia. In Wurtemberg alonel it has been uninterruptedly maintained down to the present day. In Bavaria the present monarch, as soon as he came to the throne, took the system under his protection, and employed Massmann to have a Turning institution erected at Munich.
+ See my
Rousseau, in " Emile," discussed the education of the senses. earthly meeting, seemed to me to join immediately on to the early youthful intercourse of thirty-three years before ; and I felt myself drawn to him by a love which had lasted through good and evil times, and which will outlive death, because it is stronger than death.
* At a later period, in 1813, Dr. Münnich wrote - Turning and Military Serrice," (Dus Turnen und der Kriegsdienst,) in which he clearly stated the important relation between the two. W. Menzel, in his treatise, Bodily Training from the Point of View of National Economy,” (Die Körperübung aus dem Gesichtspunkt der Nationalökonomie,) has earnestly recommended Turning, as a means of educating defenders of the fatherland.
" Miscellaneous Writings," (Vermischte Schriften.) First printed in the Sil-sian · Provincial Gazette." (Prorinzialhildtiern.)
: "Spirit of the Age,” (Geist der Zeit.) vol. 4, 1818. Reprinted with the title " Turning; will an Appendir,” (Das Turnuesen nebst einen Anhange.) By E. M. Arndt. Leipzig, 1812. A most valuable work.
Life and Turning, Turning and Life,” (Leben und Turnen, Turnen und Leben ) By von Könen Berlin, 1817.
1 A man of noble character and full of love for Germany and the German youth, Professor Klumpp, established the Stuttgart Turning Institution, and conducted it for many years. In 1312 he wrote his valuable treatise, “ Tuning; a Mirement for German National Developmen!," (Das Turnen ; ein Deutsch-Nationales Enricklungs-Moment.)
I have gone mure into detail on this point in my chapter on Emile, which see.
According to him, all the senses should be cultivated; the eye, in estimating magnitudes and distances, and in drawing geometrical figures; the touch, in judging by means of feeling, which the blind learn to do remarkably; &c.
In this department of gymnastics, Guts Muths substantially followed Rousseau. He assigned to the senses a remarkable office; namely, to awaken, from the slumber of non-existence, the child, at first asleep in its quiet bosom." The emptiness and impossibility of Locke's opinion, that man is at first a mere sheet of white paper, is made very clear and evident by Guts Muths' expression.
“ The soul of the young citizen of the world,” says Guts Muths, in another place, “yet lies in the profound slumber which comes with it out of its condition of non-existence.” The mind becomes at first susceptible of powerful impressions on the feelings; and then becomes more and more awakened, and capable of more and more delicate impressions. “But, as the gradations of impressions on the senses, from the most violent to the most delicate of which we can conceive, are immeasurable, so is the refinement of our susceptibility to such impressions also possible to an immeasurable degree." All the life long, the mind is becoming constantly susceptible to fainter and fainter impressions; that is, more awake.”
Guts Muths' idea of training the senses is thus the sharpening of them; as also appears from the examples of it which he gives. The boys are made to shut their eyes and feel of letters, figures, the devices on coins, &c. Seeing must be trained by cultivating the vision of small things and distant things. The children are “ to follow Nature even to her minutest objects, even those scarcely visible to the eye.” “The pupil,” he says, “ should observe not only the coarser parts of flowers, but his eye should pierce even their minutest portions. He should study the absorbent vessels, the structure of the skin, the bark and leaves of trees, many kinds of seeds; the reproductive organs of plants, the pollen, anthers, &c." He should be able to recognize a flower or a stone at thirty paces, and a tree at from a hundred to a thousand paces. His ear should be trained not only by music, but " he should observe the sound of laden and empty vehicles, of the squeaking of doors,” &c. If the keenness of the senses, their susceptibility, were the measure of their improvement, those who are disordered in their nerves would surpass the most practiced senses of the healthy. They are annoyed by the least and most distant noise ; and distinguish its exact nature only too well. If the pupils of Guts Muths could distinguish by the touch, with their eyes closed, between gold and silver coins, this was far outdone by a sick person, who