Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter, “Ueber den verstorbenen Herzoglich-Sächsischen wirklichen Geheimenrath und Canzler, Herrn von Studnitz zu Gotha,” Journal von und für Deutschland, vol. 2, no. 1, ed. Siegmund Freyherr von Bibra (Ellrich 1785), 3–7.
Gotter’s eulogy here provides a brief resumé of Ernst August von Studnitz’s earlier years, effusively praises his not inconsiderable merits and service to Gotha (see entry in index of persons), and spends considerable time sketching his character. In the latter regard, Gotter does allude to a more difficult side of Studnitz’s personality that, despite his admirable qualities of intellect and professional discipline, occasionally manifested themselves, apparently prompting critique from various quarters, which Gotter felt compelled to address as well. He concludes the eulogy:
Uprightness, steadfastness, and conscientiousness were the salient features of his character; he was always keen on neither knowing nor doing anything merely halfway. Yet precisely this uprightness and straightforwardness often not only violated considerations which even in the case of the most just cause politics does suggest we follow, but also tended to neglect the art of how to pour balm on wounds that the sword of righteousness must occasionally inflict on another person. Yet precisely this steadfastness, based on a feeling of his own powers and a consciousness of the most honorable intentions, was not always able to conceal its own superiority, often giving way instead to anger when confronted with unexpected resistance. Yet even this conscientiousness misled him to demand from others as precise a fulfillment of their professional duties as he always expected of himself, giving him the appearance of severity––something essentially alien to his heart––in cases where he perceived deviations.
But one characteristic of the most excellent human beings is doubtless that the sources of their own transgressions derive merely from the contrasts between their duties and circumstances, and in the exaggeration of their grand inclinations and talents, whence the lamentable impossibility, for those whom fate has bound to the rudder of state, of satisfying every individual member while simultaneously addressing the welfare of the whole.
But what is good remains, and the outcry of discontent eventually goes silent. Posterity judges, and its veneration avenges the benefactor of the human race against the ingratitude of his contemporaries.
The aforementioned chancellor, Minister Ernst August von Studnitz, was universally respected for his justness and severe incorruptibility. But he was also severe toward himself. Once when Ettinger was yet foreman of the Dieterich printing company, Studnitz harshly reprimanded him for an alleged bookkeeping error. Even though the reproached party felt himself to be wholly innocent, he dared not challenge the powerful, angry man. A week later Ettinger was summoned to the minister, the latter of whom simultaneously summoned his hunting servant and manservant into the room. Ettinger half expected Studnitz to inform him that he was to be arrested; hence how astonished was he when the minister said instead, “A few days ago I came down on you quite harshly, but, I now find, unjustly; I acknowledge that injustice now in the presence of these people and hope you will be satisfied with such.”
Translation © 2011 Doug Stott