20 Pages


THE strange confusion of ideas which we owe to our fluctuating and antiquated party-doings is nowhere so glaringly obvious as in the widely spread opinion that the younger generation to-day is more conservatively inclined than the older. Some are glad of this, while others lament it and attribute it to the seductive arts of reactionary teachers; but hardly anyone disputes it as a fact. And yet it is absolutely absurd to think so, for ever since the beginning of the world the young have always been more free thinking than the old, because they possess the happy privilege of living more in the future than the present, and nothing justifies the assumption that this natural law has ceased to hold good nowadays. For though the new generation may turn away with indifference from the catchwords of the older Liberalism, this only shows that a new age with new ideals is dawning. In these young men, whose childhood was illuminated by the sun of Sedan, national pride is not a feeling attained to, as in their fathers' case, by hard struggles, but it is a strong, spontaneous passion. They sing their "Germany, Germany above a l l ! " with a

joyful confidence, such as only isolated strong characters of the older generation could cherish. They regard the struggle for parliamentary rights, which to their elders was often an aim in itself, at most as a means to an end. The object of their ambition is that the young giant who has just shaken the sleep from his eyelids should now use his strong arms to advance the civilisation of mankind and to make the German name both formidable and precious to the world. Therefore our German youth were thrilled as by an electric shock when, in August, 1884, the news came that our flag waved upon the coast of Angra Pequena and the Cameroons, and that Germany had taken the first modest but decided step in the path of independent colonisation.