While Fichte was delivering his Addresses in Berlin, a group of Königsberg professors formed a society known as the Tugendbund, or League of Virtue, which hoped to regenerate Germany by fostering “morality, religion, serious taste, and public spirit,” and whose anti-French ravings Stein qualified as “the rage of dreaming sheep.” Another peculiar manifestation of the patriotic upsurge was the gymnastic association founded in Berlin by a school teacher, Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, known as Turnvater — a term that can be rendered only approximately as “Father of Calisthenics.” Turnvater Jahn believed in patriotism through physical fitness and made his lads disport themselves athletically to be ready for the hour of revenge. The idea was unquestionably sound, but Jahn’s importance has been overrated by chauvinistic historians. The folklore known as classroom history has attributed a greater role to the Königsberg moralists and the Berlin gymnasts in the overthrow of Napoleon than they dese5rve; but for the reform of the Prussian army and Napoleons debacle in Russia they might still be there, practicing virtue and kneebends, without ever having slain a single Frenchman.

The Age of Napoleon
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