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Wisconsin alumni magazine
Volume 13, Number 3 (Dec. 1911)

Hohlfeld, A. R.
A gift of rare significance,   pp. [111]-113


Page [111]


A GIFT OF RARE SIGNIFICANCE
          By PROFESSOR A. R. HOHLFELD
OST a century ago,
the year 1819, Goethe
esented to Harvard
liege a set of his corn-
ete works, aecompany-
g the gift with a
           gracious a u t o g r a p h
 dedication of friendly interest and
 appreciatiok.. At that time of na-
 tional weakness and disrnion, only
,a prince in the, realm of thought
and art could at all appropriately
speak for the German people in
their entirety.
   Only a few weeks have passed
 since a similar act of international
 courtesy took place, in which an
 American university was honored
 by a literary gift of rare signifi-
 cance. The German government
 presented to the University of Wis-
 consin a rich collection of German
 au~tographs, entitled Da~s Goldense
 Buch der Deutschen in Amerika.
   One cannot help noting with in-
terest the suggestive differences be-
tween the two occasions. In ,the
place of the venerable ancestral
seat of American learning in the
east of the New England states,
there figures one of the young state
universities of the great Middle
West; and the donor is no longer
a man of letters representing the
traditional "land of thinkers and
poets," but the central government
of a powerful and united people.
   Times change; and neither Ger-
many nor Wisconsin have, in this
case, any reason for being dissatis-
fied with the change.
   It was at the regular meeting of
the University Faculty, on Novem-
ber 13, that there appeared before
it Consul Alfred Geissler of Chi-
cago, the Imperial German repre-
sentative in this part of the coun-
try. In a felicitous speech, of the
tenor of which our state and uni-
versity might well be proud, he
presented to the institution, on be-
half of the German Foreign Office,
the original autograph collection
of the Golden Book. He stated that
the German government, trying to
find for this unique volume a per-
manent home in this country, had
decided on Wisconsin and its state
university as the fitting repository,
and- he offered the beautiful vol
ume as a token of the friendship
and goodwill of his country. Upon
behalf of the university, President
Van Rise accepted the gift with
thanks, and assured the consul that
the volume would be "guarded as
a precious treasure."   The cere-
mony was as brief as it was simple.
But it was not without dignity, and
made an excellent impression on all
who witnessed it.
  The Golden Book thus presented
to our university was originally
prepared in 1904, in connection


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