a1 Institut für Organische Chemie der Universität Kiel, D-W 2300 Kiel 1, Germany.
The Benzolfest of 1890 in honour of August Kekulé fell into that economically prosperous, politically peaceful period of European imperialism which is characterized by the splendour of the courts of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India; Emperor Franz Josef of Austria, King of Hungary; and the German Emperor Wilhelm II, King of Prussia. Whoever could afford it (and even some of those who could not) tried to imitate these models and to participate at least to a modest extent in the glamour of the imperial courts. Merits were honoured by the bestowal of titles, orders and medals, and many an effort to the benefit of the common weal in deeds and money was induced by the prospect of becoming a Privy Councillor (Geheimrat) or a Councillor of Commerce (Kommerzienrat), of being awarded the Order of the Red Eagle [of Prussia] (the fourth class being almost automatically given to a major of the Prussian army who in this peaceful time had never had a chance to distinguish himself, and not so automatically to a distinguished professor on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday), or even of being raised to hereditary nobility, the epithet von added to the name being the permanently visible sign of particular excellence.
* Presented at the ACS-Symposium The Kekulé Benzolfest 100 Years Later, Boston MA, USA, 23 April 1990.