The ‘child of Europe’

Posted on 26th March 2021 by simonbeattie

Kaspar Hauser (d.1833) was a foundling who became legendary in early nineteenth-century Europe; ‘the enigma of [his] origin, childhood, and early youth, and the known facts have aroused sustained interest … on the purely human, psychological, and social, as well as political, level’ ever since (Oxford Companion to German Literature).

The author of this book, Lord Stanhope (who here translates his own German text, published in Heidelberg in 1835), was an English politician who spent about half his time in Germany where, ‘in 1829 he met Kaspar Hauser, the “child of Europe”, whose identity and authenticity was one of the historical “mysteries” of the nineteenth century.  Stanhope was initially attracted to Hauser and believed him to be wrongly accused of deception.  He in effect adopted the youth and, though he came to the view that Hauser was a pathological liar, defended him in pamphlets in German and English, mostly collected as Tracts Relating to Caspar Hauser (1836)’ (Oxford DNB).

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