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CHAPTER III.: Prussia. - Thomas Hodgskin, Travels in the North of Germany, vol. 1 
Travels in the North of Germany, describing the Present State of the Social and Political Institutions, the Agriculture, Manufactures, Commerce, Education, Arts and Manners in that Country, particularly in the Kingdom of Hannover, (Edinburgh: Archibald Constable, 1820). Vol. 1.
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Berlin.—Buildings.—Animation.—University.—Curious natural collection.—Journals.—Changes in government.—Provincial states.—Privileges of nobles.—Control of education.—Administration of justice.—Orders of knighthood.—Leave Berlin.—Village alehouse.—Pedlar-gambling.—A nobleman’s toll-bar.—A character.—Burg.—A statue.—Magdeburg.—How accosted.—Change in society.—Former destruction of the city.—Trade.—Marriage feast.
The Havel and the Spree rather spread themselves into innumerable lakes and ponds, than flow through the sandy flat country about Berlin. Noble woods, or parks, extend to the very gates of this city, which stands in a flat country, in the midst of forests, deserts, and swamps. In proportion as its situation is bad, its splendour is great. When I passed, on the morning after my arrival, over a little bridge leading from the palace to the arsenal square, Platz am Zeughaus, I was surprised at the magnificence of the buildings. There wanted nothing but a Seine and the lofty trees of the Champs Elysees, and the Tuillerie gardens, to make this, in point of the surrounding buildings, equal to the beautiful view from the bridge of Louis XV. at Paris. Many of the cities of Europe may contain, on the whole, more fine buildings than Berlin, but there are few which contain so many all collected on a spot. The palace, Schloss, the house in which the sovereign resides; the arsenal, which is a very handsome building; the library, the university, the Catholic church, the opera house, several very fine private houses, and a very handsome street, Unter den Linden, which is planted with rows of trees, and at the end of which stands the famous Brandenburg gate, may be all seen at once from this spot, or by merely turning the head. The house in which the king resides is not a very showy building, but the palace proper, Schloss, is very large, consisting, indeed, of three distinct buildings. The most modern is the most elegant. It is built in the Italian style, and one of its entrances is a triumphal arch; the next in point of age, joining and forming one side of the first, is a mixture of styles of building; and the third is a dismal Gothic castle. The whole of this is kept for state, and is inhabited merely by officers of the court and servants. How many stately mansions have I now seen, that serve no other purpose but for birds to roost in, or to employ persons to keep them in repair! How many beautiful gardens, that wanted nothing but human beings to enjoy them! Few succeeding monarchs will dwell in the house of their predecessors. They build palaces for themselves, which fall, in their turn, into ruin. What an expence of human labour, to heap stones on stones, and how may its misdirection be deplored, when the wastes of the earth are yet untilled, and when the intellect of the great multitude is utterly neglected.
There are no monarchs of Europe, who, in proportion to the extent and wealth of their dominions, have built so much and so splendidly as the monarchs of Prussia. Berlin is throughout well built, though marks may be discovered of houses patched up to make a shew, and the new town appeared not to have grown from the wants of the people, but to be habitations ready provided for them. It looked as if it were half uninhabited. One of the best streets is that which extends from the Brandenburg gate to the square of the arsenal. It is planted with trees, is wider than the Boulevards of Paris, and is the fashionable promenade. This celebrated gate is built after the Propyleum at Athens, though it is much larger. It consists of twelve large columns and eighteen small ones. On the top is a triumphal car, carrying Victory, who, again, carries a lance, with the iron cross of Prussia. This figure was taken to Paris, but brought back when the armies of France could no longer claim her as their own. It makes a very splendid entrance to this military city. Immediately outside of it is the Thier garten, a park containing nice walks, and many places for buying refreshment, and where there is music and dancing on Sundays and holidays. On New-year’s-day this park was crowded. A great portion of the company came in sledges, the horses of which were decorated with small bells, and fine feathers. The drivers constantly cracked their whips, and, driving along with great velocity, they gave life to this winter scene.
The Gen d’Arm Platz is a handsome square. The theatre that was burnt in 1817 stood here; enough of its walls remained to testify it had been a very handsome building. There are also in this square two churches, equal in beauty, and resembling one another in their porticoes and steeples. The porticoes are like Grecian temples, and built in the form of a square, three sides of which are formed of flights of steps, columns, capitals, cornices, and pediments, with a multitude of figures. These temples support the steeples. To the fourth side the church is attached. The porticoes are almost large enough to conceal the real churches, which cannot be praised for architecture. I hesitated to mount one of these elegant flights of steps, thinking it could lead only to a sanctuary. I did, however, and found, that like all unemployed buildings in large towns, it was little better than a common receptacle for dirt. The other was appropriated as an office to that part of the police which looks after vagrants and beggars. Gorgeous temples for such uses are in the worst possible taste. They cause a painful feeling, similar to that which arises when a woman who looks like a beauty speaks, and convinces us she is a fool or an idiot. Such immense labour, to attain so trifling an end, is like the dexterity of throwing grains of millet-seed through a needle’s eye; and the ingenious contrivers of such costly buildings ought to be rewarded with quarries of stone to build more.
William’s Square, Wilhelms Platz, is adorned with the statues of some of the most famous of Frederick’s generals; and the many other squares and fine buildings of Berlin make it much to be regretted that the capricious taste of a few individuals should have been enabled to build so fine a city in so bad a situation.
I had remarked at Leipsic more bustle and business than I was accustomed to see in German towns, and in Berlin the stir was still greater. More inhabitants would necessarily make more bustle, but, independent of number, each individual seemed more occupied, and to move with greater activity than the Germans generally do. The coldness of the weather did not allow of standing still, but this would have kept indolent people in their houses rather than have sent them swarming into the streets. The ground was covered with snow, and it froze very hard, yet the walks and streets were crowded.
There was a pert commanding air among the better dressed males, and the females were generally shewy and gaily dressed, but I could not deny to both, particularly the latter, a greater degree of personal beauty than belongs to their southern countrywomen.
A person is placed by the police in each inn as a valet-de-place, and to be at the same time a spy; he is obliged to give an account of all strangers on their arrival, and to carry their passports to the police for inspection. He is licensed by it, and no other can be employed. When any person wishes to remain three days or longer in Berlin, his passport must be deposited in the police-office, and he receives a particular permission to remain the time he requests. It was quite uncertain how long I should stay, and I did not therefore choose either to ask for a ticket of residence, or have my passport signed, as intending to depart. The valet-de-place thought this wrong, and intruded himself on me more than once, to tell me what I ought to do, and to warn me of the consequences of neglect. I turned him out of the room, and heard no more of him. All such people are regular spies, and, considering their situation, it is like hiring your servant to betray you. No political reasons can compensate the distrust which domestic spies cause amongst individuals. They tend to destroy all the confidence of men in each other, and to set strife and hatred betwixt them. Governments forget the end of their existence when they employ so odious a means to attain a trifling object. I had travelled from Munich to Vienna with a French gentleman, who was an object of suspicion to the Austrian police, and with him I was occasionally in the habit of walking about, and wherever he went he was followed and watched. Thus it is that the substance of a nation is wasted, and its morals often perverted, to provide a fancied security for its fearful rulers.
The university of Berlin was established in 1810 by the munificence of the sovereign, who gave a palace for this purpose, and salaries to several learned professors, whom he called from other places. In 1818, it instructed more than 800 students. The mode of instruction, and what is taught, are similar to the mode of instruction, and to what is taught at Göttingen, under which head a more particular description of a university is given. The most celebrated Professors at present are Schleiermacher, Göschen, Savigny, Hufeland, Thaer, and others. There is also a university at Breslau, one at Königsberg, one at Halle, and one at Griefswalde; to these the newly established one at Bonne must be added, making six for the whole kingdom. High-schools, in which a learned education is begun, are established in most of the towns. In Berlin alone there are five such. There is also a military school, and a school for engineers; three seminaries, in which schoolmasters are educated; several academies for the arts,—for singing, for architecture; a school for the blind and a school for the deaf; and altogether, more than 250 places for education. Many of them are private, but none can be established without permission.
Berlin is at present one of the places where animal magnetism is most cultivated and studied, and Professor Wolfart makes experiments in this branch of knowledge, and instructs others in it. In Britain it is despised. In Germany it is honoured, and public professors are appointed to teach it. Premiums have been offered by learned bodies for the best classification of its phenomena; and laws, both in Bavaria and Prussia, regulate its administration, and prescribe to what persons its secrets may be made known, and its blessings given.
Museums, galleries of pictures, learned societies, and various collections of things that are not useful, abound in Berlin. They cannot be called peculiarities, for they are found in every city of Germany, and it requires a most practised eye to ascertain the superiority of one to another. One which deserves to be mentioned, from the evidence it affords of what learned triflers can employ themselves with, is a collection, in high preservation, of those worms which are sometimes found in the bowels of the human body, (Eingeweide Würmer,) and whose existence there constitute a particular disease. The cure of this disease cannot be promoted by such a collection, neither can it explain either the nature or the sources of the disease. A Professor Rudolpi is the collector. A similar collection exists in Vienna, whose collector is not only thought to be a man of industry, but of talent. These gentlemen must very much need a decent occupation. To bestow professorships on them, and to honour them, seems to me like the vain worship of an idol. There is but one step lower in which learned uselessness can go in its filthy researches. I should be sorry, by the selection of this peculiarity, to teach the reader to infer that the Germans were particularly fond of such pursuits, and that this fondness was a feature of the national character. A love for trifles and absurdities may probably be more common among the learned of Germany than among the learned of other countries, but trifles and absurdities are the occupations merely of a few, and intelligent Germans lament the fondness for them as a peculiarity of individuals, and not as forming the national character.
There are fewer public reading rooms in Berlin than in any city I have visited in Germany, and this was to me a matter of regret, as they are good places to gather items of information. There are a great many pamphlets and periodical works published there; some of them are devoted to political subjects, as those published by Speners and Voss. One work which is celebrated on account of its editors, Messrs Savigny, Eichorn, and Göschen, gives information relating to jurisprudence only. Dr Wolfart instructs the world periodically in the progress of animal magnetism, another work gives an account of all new voyages and travels, and various daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly, accounts are given of the progress of the fine arts, but there are only two what may be called newspapers, which admit political discussion in their columns. They are both published twice a-week, which is but a scanty supply of political fare for a population amounting to 179,000 people. Political reformations or revolutions effected by such preparations, can never answer any good purpose. Information amongst all classes must be more generally spread. One of these newspapers is devoted to the court, and sometimes gently censured Prince Hardenberg for too great a love for the freedom of the press. He is thought to be its great champion, because he declared some years ago, that its influence was beneficial both to sovereigns and subjects. He has since made ample reparation for this departure from state wisdom, by the representations he made at Weimar, where a newspaper called the Oppositions Blatt, one of the most liberal of Germany, was at one time suppressed from his demands.
Without being a man of liberal principles, Prince Hardenberg has been a reformer through his life. He began his career, I believe, at the court of Brunswick, with many professions of benevolence, many promises to forward the education of the people, and he excited many hopes of the improvement he was to effect. He had his fortune, however, to make as a statesman, and it soon appeared that to insure that was the great object of his ambition. It seems now secured, but his disposition to reform remains. He moulds nations in his hands, and if the subjects of Prussia do not improve, it will not be because their institutions have not been many times remodelled and reformed.
The population of Berlin is rapidly increasing; in 1813, exclusive of military, it amounted to 166,584, and in 1817, to 178,811, of which 86,099 were males, and 92,712 females. In 1813, 146,026 professed Lutheranism, 12,117 Calvinism. The Jews amounted to 2698, the Catholics to 5725, and the Mennonites were 18. There were in Berlin,
The following notices are chiefly taken from a work in the German language, published at Berlin in 1818, by Mr Demian. The monarch of Prussia is said to possess more unlimited powers than any other of the sovereigns of Germany. And the circumstances of his having, in 1809, given an entire new form to the ancient states of East Prussia,—of his having, in 1808, destroyed all the privileges of the different classes of citizens, but as they depended on his will,—of his having at that period altered all the ancient forms of government, which time had established in the different towns of his dominions,—and of his now promising to his subjects, as a favour, some new constitutions, seem to justify this view. The ancient privileges of the cities, and separate classes of citizens, were undoubtedly most mischievous things; but it was rank jacobinism to attempt to destroy all these old distinctions and privileges by a decree. It was, in fact, an arbitrary abolition of corporate rights, which have been not unfrequently abolished by the sovereigns of Germany. The destruction of the University of Wittenberg by this sovereign is another instance.
The disposition to reform possessed by the monarch of Prussia and his minister, which has almost amounted to revolution, has brought into their own hands nearly the whole of the ancient privileges of the different classes of people. The reigning family was, in the middle of the seventeenth century, petty sovereigns, scarcely capable of bringing together an army of 2000 men, limited in all their operations by nobles almost so powerful as they were. Yet the Prussian monarch now rules over a territory of 79,162 square geographical miles, a population of 10,000,000, and an army of 300,000 men. He possesses almost unlimited power, and the welfare of millions can be sacrificed to his ambition.
In moral observations, time may be for a moment neglected, and we are then so much astonished, that a simple count of Brandenburg should have become the quiet possessor of a third of Germany, as that a lieutenant of artillery should have seized on the empire of France. In one case, we may trace a family passion for aggrandisement, that has constantly descended from father to son, and that has become legitimate from the permanence of the evil and the slowness of its progress. In the other, we see only the madness, the fury of a single life, which is less likely to have imitators; because it has not become legalized by opinion, and is abhorred by all good men. The petty counts of Brandenburg, who were originally little more than officers, either of the army, or for the administration of justice elected by the people, are now the unlimited sovereigns of Prussia.
Of the 10,000,000 subjects now belonging to Prussia, 6,832,566 dwell in the eastern part of the monarchy, 2,896,022 in the western part; Swedish Pomerania has 120,000, and Neufchatel 51,000 inhabitants. In the circle of Dusseldorf, on the right bank of the Rhine, 527 persons live in each square geographical mile; on the left bank there are 465 to each square mile. The circle of Lauban, in Upper Lusatia, has also 500 inhabitants to each square mile, the circle of Aix la Chapelle has 300, of Cologne, 287, of Cleves, 250, of Erfurth, 219, of Minden, 212, of Reichenbach and Merseburg, 187, while the provinces of East and West Prussia contain only 69 to the square mile, the circle of Potsdam itself only contains 81; in the circle of Frankfort, on the Oder, there are 100. With the exception of one part of Upper Lusatia, the recently acquired dominions of Prussia are three and four times more numerously peopled than the old, which are some of the most sandy and desolate parts of Europe. By subjecting the inhabitants on the Rhine to the Prussian government, a more polished has been placed under subjection to a less polished people. The greater part of the subjects of Prussia are certainly German or European, which cannot be said of Austria; the greatest part of whose subjects are of Slavonic or Asiatic origin; but many also of the subjects of Prussia are Slavonians, Wendens, and Bohemians, who are people almost without civilization. The scattered peasantry of Prussia proper are not much better. From such subjects, slavish armies can be always raised, and with them it is now intended to secure the repose of Europe. Civilized people are now to be kept in awe by barbarians.
The largest half of the subjects of Prussia are Protestants, about 4,000,000 are Catholics. In East Prussia, most of the inhabitants are Lutherans, they possess 384 churches, the Calvinists 18, and the Catholics 83. In West Prussia, half of the inhabitants are Catholics, and the other half consists more in Lutherans than Calvinists. In Brandenburg and in Pomerania, nearly all the inhabitants are Lutherans, a few Catholics and Calvinists are mixed with them. In the province of Posen, there are 517,743 Catholics, 208,168 Lutherans, and 3783 Calvinists. In Silesia, one-half of the people are Catholics, the other half Lutherans, with a very few Calvinists. In the province of Saxony, the people are chiefly Lutherans. In Erfurth and the Eichsfeld, the Catholics are as one, the Lutherans as eight. In Munster Paderborn and the dukedom of Westphalia, the people are chiefly Catholics. In the provinces on the Rhine, Catholics are also most numerous. In Dusseldorf, there are 203,833 Catholics; 69,600 Lutherans; and 98,587 Calvinists. In Minden, the people are chiefly Protestants; in the circle of Coblentz there are also many. In Neufchatel, Calvinism is the predominant religion. In the whole kingdom, the Mennonites amount to 17,000. The Moravians are somewhat less numerous. I will not affirm that there is strict toleration amongst all these people, that the Christians do not hate the Jews, and the Catholics the Protestants, but all these sects are strictly equal in the eye of the government. Although moderation and justice on its part may do much to soften angry passions, and its power may generally prevent overt acts of violence, yet it cannot produce that toleration and that charity which are of the heart. They are probably more general in Germany than in any other country of Europe, but they are, even there, not yet perfect.
The ordinary revenues of Prussia are estimated at seven millions sterling, the domains give one million, the regalia, such as salt, the post, &c. one million, tolls on rivers and roads, one million. The remainder of the seven millions is procured by taxes. The principal of these are a land tax; a tax on trades; a tax on persons; and taxes on doors and windows. These are not equal throughout the kingdom, particularly the land-tax, which is considerably higher in the western than in the eastern provinces. Indirect taxes are levied on meal, malt, horned cattle, wine, beer, vinegar, brandy, sugar, coffee, tobacco, spices, colours, wood, hay, straw, coals. There are stamp and other excise duties. The whole nett about L. 4,000,000 sterling.
In 1817, the government bought corn for its subjects in Westphalia and on the Rhine to the amount of L.330,000, which, with the army being then on an extraordinary footing, and costing L. 4,000,000 sterling, when its ordinary expence is estimated at L. 2,000,000, made the expence of the year far exceed the revenue. The debts, which are described to have been before very great, were augmented in 1818.
There are yet something like states or parliaments in some of the provinces of Prussia. In East Prussia they consist of three orders; 1st, The greater nobility; 2d, The smaller nobility; to which were united the free inhabitants of Cölmer; 3d, Deputies of the towns. But since 1808, these persons appoint deputies, viz. the nobility four; the Cölmer stand one, and the deputies of towns three. They are elected for three years, but must be approved of by the monarch. They form a permanent committee, which meets in Königsberg, but has no other power than to lay its wishes before the throne. It has no share either in levying taxes or making laws.
In Brandenburg, the states consist only of a committee of the four orders of clergy, great nobility, small nobility, and towns, which, like the committee for East Prussia, has nothing to do with making laws or levying taxes; but takes care of some funds belonging to the province, appropriated to paying debts contracted in its name.
In Pomerania, the three orders of clergy, nobility, and deputies from the cities, have general assemblies, and discuss in them the interest of the country, but Mr Demian has not stated what power they have; with such “states,” we cannot wonder that the Prussians are anxious to have a new constitution. In most of the other parts of Germany, there has always been some limitations set to the monarch’s power, by the different orders of privileged persons who composed the states. But the power of the sovereigns of Prussia got above the states of their country, and since the days of Frederick the Great, the latter have dwindled into insignificance. However loud public opinion may now be at Berlin, though it appears to have very little consistency, and however much may have been said about the secret societies of this city, the Prussians have been, and are still more despotically governed than any other people of Germany. They are, in this point, behind the Bavarians, the Saxons, the people of Wurtemberg, and perhaps also behind the Hannoverians. Such an opinion is entertained by the Germans themselves. They regard the former of the people here mentioned, with the inhabitants on the Rhine, as most advanced in political knowledge, and as possessing the soundest opinions.
The Silesians are probably the best part of the population of old Prussia. The inhabitants of Berlin, who are the most conspicuous of all the Prussians, as a political people, are given to trifling and debauchery. I observed there that same sort of meretricious glare which I had noticed at Potsdam. The Gen d’Arm Platz, which has been mentioned, is a specimen. There were some splendid shops; but in general, fine painted houses, gilded signs and golden letters, only concealed poverty and dirt. The cabarets, or dancing houses of the town, are notoriously numerous and profligate; the people are less domestic than those of any other part of Germany. I will not affirm from my own observation, but I am disposed to believe from all I have been able to learn, that the Prussians are the most boasting, flippant, and empty people of all the Germans. They make more noise than the rest, without having any thing more to be proud of, except that they have been long governed by greater despots than any other Germans, and that they have, under one of their sovereigns, been conspicuous in history.
There are two sorts of nobility in Prussia,—the great and the small nobility. The first is, again, distinguished into several kinds; 1st, Those who were formerly independent princes of the empire, and are now called mediatized nobility. There are eighteen of these who possess extraordinary privileges; they can be subjected only to a particular court of justice—the superior court at Berlin; they are free from all military service; they may keep a guard of honour: the administration of justice, of police, and the patronage of the churches and schools on their properties, belong to them; they are in possession of all the domains of their properties or sovereignties; the direct taxes levied on their subjects belong to them; their own property is free from direct taxation; they may work mines and salt works, but must deliver the products into the hands of the sovereign. This is the most privileged class. The second have similar privileges, but they are under the jurisdiction of the courts of the province in which they live. The third are distinguished as possessing the administration of justice, and the appointment of the clergymen and schoolmasters on their properties. All, even the small nobility, have some particular privileges, such as being subjected only to the highest tribunal of the province; they pay less land tax, particularly in Brandenburg, Pomerania, Saxony, and Silesia, than the other inhabitants of these provinces, and they are considered as having a greater right to places of honour than the rest of the people, though, since 1808, the rights exclusively to possess noble properties, and to be officers of the army, have been taken from them.
The clergy are also free from taxation.
In all those provinces which remained to Prussia after the peace of Tilsit, all differences of rank and privileges amongst the inhabitants of cities was, and remains, destroyed. The right of citizenship may belong to every man, of whatever religion or country he may be. Even unmarried women may possess this right. The Jews enjoy in Prussia all the rights of other citizens; and no other condition is requisite to practising any handicraft or trade, than buying from the government a patent or permission, which every one must buy. Formerly every person was obliged to serve an apprenticeship, to wander three years in search of knowledge, and then to be examined, before he could be a master. The rights of settling in any town, and of practising a trade in it, or the rights of citizenship, were purchased from the magistrates. Natives of any town could acquire these rights cheaper than strangers could acquire them. These regulations seem to have resembled, in most points, what we call the freedom of corporations. They are now all done away. The monarch set trade free from the fetters of ancient custom, and he pinioned it with his own. No man can now exercise any sort of profession without obtaining and paying for the permission of the government. By the abolition of all the ancient regulations, the sovereign increased his own power and influence very much. He increased his revenue by the price paid for the permission, and the power to give or withhold it is a power to let an individual live or to starve him.
In place of the various old customs by which the towns were formerly regulated and governed, a very theoretically perfect constitution was given to them all. The citizens now elect their own magistrates, subject to the confirmation of the crown. They had formerly the nominal privilege of doing this, independent of this confirmation, though the value of this privilege was much diminished by a few persons having in general seized on the magistracy. It does not appear, therefore, that the monarch of Prussia deserves the praise of generosity, which has-lately been bestowed on him, for having granted to the inhabitants of cities some new and valuable privileges. In fact, he arbitrarily abolished all the ancient customs of the people, and thereby possessed himself of all the substantial part of the power which belongs to controlling more directly the magistrates and the revenue of the towns.
Small towns of 3500 people have one salaried bürgermeister, and one salaried counsellor, with four or six unpaid counsellors. Towns of 10,000 inhabitants have also a salaried syndicus, with from seven to twelve unsalaried counsellors. Larger towns have one salaried upper bürgermeister, six salaried counsellors, of various titles, with from twelve to fifteen unsalaried counsellors. The salaried people are jurisconsults, and are elected for twelve years; the unsalaried are tradesmen or merchants, and are elected for three.
Some efforts have been made in Prussia to convert the land, the property in which is now divided between the lord and the peasant, into the full property of one or the other, and to free the peasantry from servitude, but they have not yet succeeded, and the condition of the peasants is different in different provinces. In some of them, leibeigen-schaft, or servitude, is yet general, and without any modifying stipulations. In others, the servitude is ameliorated by a variety of ancient customs and laws, which secure the property of the peasant. In others, the peasantry are free.
It seems that an improper method was followed when it was attempted to set property and the peasants free. The lord has a long-established right to rent and services,—the peasant an hereditary right to the use of the land; and the way in which the land was to be made the full property of one or other of the parties, was, that the peasant should resign half of his land, and retain the other half in full property. This supplies no accurate compensation for the rights of the two individuals, and it diminishes still more the size of the farms of the peasants, which are at present so small as very often barely to furnish a subsistence for a family. The more rational way would have been merely to have permitted either of the two parties to buy according to his pleasure and convenience, and according as he could make a bargain—the rights of the other. More is said on this part of the subject in the Chapter on the Division of Property in Land. Most of these remarks apply only to the ancient provinces of Prussia. The provinces on the Rhine have long had their feudal laws abolished; and this is one of the circumstances which makes it so much to be regretted that they should have been united to a country in which ancient feudality and modern despotism are both yet powerful.
Nothing will be said of the various departments of the ministry, further than that there is one whose peculiar duty it is to superintend and regulate commerce and manufactories, and that these branches of the industry of man have long been in Prussia protected and encouraged by all the power and wisdom of the government. There is another department of the ministry under whose superintendence the religion and establishments for education of the whole country are placed.
Prussia, though consisting of no less than 39 distinct, and formerly independent parts, is at present very scientifically divided into ten provinces, as follows: 1. East Prussia; 2. West Prussia; 3. Brandenburg; 4. Pomerania; 5. Silesia; 6. Posen; 7. Saxony; 8. Westphalia; 9. Julius-Cleves and Berg; 10. Lower Rhine. Over each of these provinces, an officer called an Upper President, is placed, who is a sort of viceroy, or king’s lieutenant for the province. Each province is again divided into several circles of government, Regierungsbezirke, generally three, over which a provincial government is placed, consisting of a president, and two boards, or committees; a government director presides in each committee, and it is composed of several persons called government counsellors. These two committees regulate the whole temporal concerns, even the most minute, of the circle, and amongst them may be enumerated making roads, and restraining the press. They are the censors of the press for all other writings than those on theological subjects, of which the consistoriums are the censors.
With these censors for the press in every part of the Prussian dominions, it is too much to affirm, as it is sometimes affirmed, that the press is free in Prussia. It is completely under the control of the government, and nothing is or can be published which it does not approve of. What, in compliance with the spirit of the times, it permits to be published, is another thing, but this permission hangs from its will, and the freedom of publishing is not secured by positive laws, or long continued custom.
Everyone of the circles of government mentioned is again divided into districts, over which a land-counsellor, a police director, or some other servant of the crown, according to its importance, is placed. This scientific and minute government has been introduced by Prussia into all her newly acquired provinces; and it is here particularly mentioned as shewing to what an extent of minute interference the cares of the government go, and how attentively it has provided that no small parishes of men shall govern themselves. They are governed by its police director.
The affairs of the church, and of establishments for education, are governed in each Protestant province by a consistorium;—consistoriums will be described in speaking of Hannover, and in the Catholic provinces by the upper president, assisted by the bishops as counsellors. A particular part of the consistoriums, called the church and school commission, which consists of clergymen and school-masters, has the superintendence of the education of the poor, and power to make propositions for the improvement of the regulations of the smaller schools; high schools are under the consistoriums themselves; universities are under the control of the minister of the department for religion and education.
There is also in each province a medical college to superintend and regulate medical police. In all these regulations a multiplicity of governors, and inferior governors may be observed with a strictness of subordination not to be surpassed by the most disciplined army. If this land be not at the height of prosperity, it cannot be for want of obedience on the part of the people, nor for want of regulations on the part of the governors. If its roads be wretchedly bad, if the country be desolate and uncultivated, as it generally is wherever I have seen it, it is not for want of persons, engineers and others, employed by the government, who have no other duties to perform than to keep roads in order, and to encourage cultivation. The immense quantity of persons who, by this system, are made to take a part in the government, is perhaps its very worst feature. Whatever changes may take place in its form, they are attached to power, and the remainder are accustomed to obedience; and, however the names of things may be altered, nearly the same undue quantity of power, and the same unreflecting obedience, will and must exist for many years.
For the administration of justice, the chief court, from which there is no appeal, is the upper Secret Tribunal at Berlin. For each of the provinces there is, or is to be, a tribunal of first instance, with a power of appeal from the tribunal of one province to the tribunal of the other, as second instance. There are particular courts for the mines and salt works. In the province of Posen, there are something like justices of the peace, and processes are there carried on verbally. Most of these tribunals consist of several members, and correspond in so many things to those of Hannover, that no further details will here be given of them.
There are ten different orders of knighthood, or of merit and medals, in Prussia. The fountain of royal honour flows copiously over the land, and leaves no part of it unwatered and unfertilized.
I left Berlin on the morning of January the 3d, 1818, at so early an hour, that no person was moving in the streets. It was freezing very hard, and the icicles formed from the breath attached themselves to the whiskers of the men, and to the necks and heads of the horses who were so unfortunate as to be going, with the wind in their faces, towards Berlin; I was grateful that it was at my back. Many people, mostly women, were going into town with quantities of vegetables. This is, therefore, a general feature of German society, and it is one in which it differs from ours, inasmuch as our daily markets are much more generally supplied by means of horses and carts, or a vast deal of the common labour which in Britain is performed by animals and machines, is performed in Germany by women. Many of them had profited by the snow to yoke dogs to little sledges, and were thus dragging their goods to market. Some of the animals required beating or encouraging to make them proceed, others could hardly be kept back by the weight of their mistresses, added to their usual load, and were barking with joy as dogs do when their masters first call them from the kennel to join in the sports of the field. Animals are not averse to exertion, and man, as an animal, is not naturally averse to labour. The fact is of importance, because it is frequently asserted, that a natural disposition in man to idleness causes many crimes. None of these people saluted me as the Saxons did, and, though this might be partly occasioned by the cold, it was also partly to be attributed to the less civil, less soft, and less pleasing character of the Prussians.
Charlottenburg, which I reached before daylight, is another palace belonging to the monarch, and famous for containing in its garden the tomb and monument of the late Queen of Prussia. My route was by Brandenburg to Magdeburg, and there are two roads from Berlin to the former town; one goes by Potsdam, the other by Spandau. I took the latter, because it was rather nearer, and because I had passed over a portion of the former. Though this was formerly the post road, and the only road, it had now degenerated to a mere track, which it was difficult to find, over wild and uncultivated heaths. It was not without inquiring several times that I reached Spandau, and on leaving it I was indebted to a shepherd, who was travelling my way, for guiding me. Such persons always tell you their history, and they communicate with you frankly, though they are seldom very amusing, but they give you an idea of their occupations and life. He looked after the flock of a nobleman who lived at Berlin, and he had been a journey of three days to the eastward of that town to buy sheep. His flock fed entirely on the otherwise waste lands, he had neither clover for hay, nor turnips to feed them.
I spoke also with a woman, who was carrying a large basket of the only white bread in general use in Germany,—which is little rolls called Semel,—from Spandau to Wustermarkt. The distance was twelve miles, and she made her living by carrying such a load twice a-week. She visited the villages in the neighbourhood, and it required one day to go and one to return. Her road was generally over wastes and heaths, and her employment is a specimen of the half-deserted half-improved state of the neighbourhood of the palace-ornamented capital of Prussia.
The difficulty I had had during the day to find the road, prevented me reaching Brandenburg, and made me think it prudent to stop at the commencement of night, when I was by no means tired, and where there was no sort of decent accommodation to be had. I had then walked nearly forty miles, and had never passed, since I left Spandau, any thing like a decent public-house or village, and I had been unable to procure any thing for dinner but bread and beer. The house where I stopped for the night promised nothing comfortable, but as the woman said I could sleep there, I resolved to make myself contented. She gave me, on entering, some very bad coffee, and when, at a later hour, I requested something more substantial for supper, I was informed there was nothing but brown bread, bad butter, and new brandy. I was still more disappointed, when, on asking to go to bed, I was informed I could have no other bed than some straw strewed in the room where I was then sitting, which was filled with a great many people who evinced no disposition to depart. There was, at that time of night, nothing better to be got, and I patiently submitted.
A travelling merchant, who sold earthenware, had taken up his abode in the house, and had carefully informed all the inhabitants of the village, that he meant, on that evening, to make a lottery of his merchandise, and he had invited them to come and spend their money with him. Towards eight o’clock they had accordingly, young and old, men, women, and children, assembled, and completely filled the room. He arranged his wares, in the most tempting manner, on a large table. They consisted of cups and saucers, glasses, plates, and pipes, which were neither coarse nor inelegant. Every one of these articles was put up at the same price, and at its full value, or at rather more than its full value. The price was eight grosschen, or about one shilling, and he had eight tickets, each of which he sold for a grosschen. When they were all sold the purchasers threw dice amongst themselves who should have the piece of china. The pedlar risked nothing himself, but, by promoting the gambling of the peasantry, he sold his pipes and his cups, and some of them acquired things of which they had no need. Married women, middle-aged men, and some young people, were the principal gamesters. As they were gambling, the lads and the lasses were roughly playing with each other, and the more elderly people were sitting quietly down to their pipes, their drams, and a little conversation.
To profit by such company,—to learn the ways of thinking of such people,—a traveller should not only know the written language of a country, which is all he has time to learn, but also every dialect, none of which he can acquire. I did not properly understand the language of the people, and cannot record their conversation. Almost the whole of the younger part of the males were dressed in short blue jackets and trowsers, with caps, like the undress of soldiers, and they had a military air. The older men wore the long blue coats, hanging almost on the ground, peculiar to the peasantry. In length of coat and size of breeches there was a strange contrast. The jackets of the youngsters descended but half way down their backs, and their trowsers were loose and large, like Cossack trowsers; the coats of the old men nearly reached the ground, and their leather breeches were like a second skin. While the fashions of the women in towns are incessantly changing, they remain in the country unchanged for ages; but the fashions of the men, because they travel about, change nearly so often in the country as in towns.
At midnight the company retired, and, as the room was well heated, though my bed was of straw, I slept away all my discontent.
Even by day-light I had some difficulty, on the following day, to find the road; it was amongst ponds and swamps; thanks to the cold they were every where frozen and passable. I soon saw Brandenburg, and directed my steps by its steeple. This town is surrounded by spread out rivers, which might afford an enterprising and industrious people a better means of communication than is now enjoyed by the inhabitants. There is no remains, in Brandenburg, of its having once been the seat of the present reigning family of Prussia. The old castle, which formerly stood on the Marienberg, close to the town, was demolished by Frederick the Great, and all that it contained valuable was carried to Potsdam.
Brandenburg is a town of 10,000 inhabitants, situated on the river Havel. It has manufactories of wool, linen, and cotton, but is principally noted for a great number of corn-mills, which are the means of supplying the inhabitants of Berlin with flour. There are 260 looms employed weaving wool, and 200 in weaving cotton and linen. There is also above 300 acres of vineyards in the neighbourhood, which are probably the most northern of Germany.
A new road is here begun, which is to extend to Magdeburg, but which is yet only completed so far as the village of Plauen. Formerly there was nothing but a track between Berlin and Magdeburg, one of the principal fortresses of the kingdom. I stopped for the night at a village called Perghen, where no other bed than one of straw could be procured. Genthin would have been too short a stage, and Burg was too far. At the entrance of the village there was a toll-bar and house, with a coat of arms, not royal, painted on that sort of shield, fixed to a post, which generally, in this country, tells the traveller where he has money to pay. The date of this painting was 1602, and the name of the owner, with the word noble, adeliche, prefixed, was also painted on the shield. It was one of those tolls levied by noblemen on all carriages and horses passing through their estates, so many of which formerly existed, and some of which still exist in various parts of Germany. The people of this nobleman, as the inhabitants of the village styled themselves,—for all belonged to him,—were exempted from any toll when they employed their own waggons, but were obliged to pay if waggons belonging to other people brought any thing to them. The government wished to destroy this toll, but the landlord said, with a grin of satisfaction, “Our nobleman was too strong for it.” Mr Adeliche Beerhern, for such was his title and name, seemed a sturdy sort of fellow, who lived on his own property, without going much to court, and, while he maintains this sort of independence, the monarch of Prussia can hardly be called an absolute monarch. The new road to Magdeburg, if it were made straight, would pass through the estate of this nobleman, but he seemed to like no such novelties as good roads, and had compelled the engineer to make a considerable circuit to avoid his grounds.
Of two public-houses, one of which was filled by noisy drinking peasants, and the other was quiet,—but at neither of which a bed could be got,—I chose the quiet one, and found the people willing to get me any thing the house or the village afforded for my supper, which consisted, however, of potatoes and a small piece of veal. The room was a large barn sort of place, excessively black from smoke. Two long tables were placed on two sides of the room, near the walls, against which oaken benches, as seats, were fixed. A large oven and the entrance occupied one of the other sides, and at the fourth side was the door to go into the kitchen, with a bed-place at each side of it. The bed-places were sorts of recesses, which are closed during the day by sliding doors.
There was a man here who said he was travelling about the country seeking employment, but who seemed to live more by his wits than by work. He paid for his potatoes and straw like the ancient bards, by reciting songs, poems, and stories. The principal subjects of his themes were the triumphs, real and imaginary, of the Prussian armies, the fatherly care of old Blucher, and the crimes of Buonaparte. He seemed to have collected all that had been written on these subjects, and quite charmed the landlady and the two maids with his recitals. They were doubly pleased when he sang any thing which they knew, and when they could join with him. They also had learnt to sing of the heroic deeds of the Prussians, and nothing else seemed to give them any pleasure. He had bought two books, one was called the Triumphs of German Freedom, and the other was extracts from the bulletins of the war. He had read them so often he knew them both by heart, and could repeat any portions of them. They had been his great teachers, and he delighted the people of the house with many true accounts of Prussian achievements. He was completely in rags, and appeared to have nothing but what was given him, yet, for that very reason, because he knew that the supply of his wants depended on his giving pleasure to others, he had acquired the talent of giving it, and kept his hearers not merely amused, but delighted, all the evening. He made them happy, and, in spite of his nakedness, and the cold weather, he was happy himself. While a reciprocation of services is the source of one of the highest enjoyments of men, nobody seems to be so much injured as those classes of society, who, having all their wants provided for, never feel any necessity to exert the talents to give and receive pleasure, with which nature has endowed them. When the females were gone to bed, this miserable-looking being entertained the man-servant with the history of his amours and his gallantry, and no dashing guards’ officer, glittering in scarlet and gold, ever boasted of more success. This was strange society, if that can be called society, of which an individual is but the silent spectator; but a lonely pedestrian has often no choice; it is a matter of chance with whom he sits down.
My day’s walk was about thirty miles, and the soil, I observed, was very generally light and sandy. Some forests were passed, but no inclosures. Where the country was cultivated, there was no separation between the fields but water courses, and the furrow extended farther than the eye could follow it. Notwithstanding it was Sunday, many persons were working, and the girls of the public-house continued spinning all the evening, as they listened to the stories or joined in the songs of the ragged man.
What I experienced for these two nights, and on my road, where I could not procure a bed, and scarcely any thing to eat, may serve as a specimen of the wealth, or rather poverty, in which his majesty of Prussia’s subjects live. The reader will remember, that I was not more than seventy miles from Berlin, that I was on a high road, and that houses of public entertainment had neither beds nor any thing to eat. Such is the state of the dominions of the great Frederick. With such a degree of poverty, and thinly scattered as these people are, it is in vain to hope for any improvement but by enriching them, and by letting their numbers increase; and it is quite certain these objects can never be accomplished by the glories of the monarch, nor by those multiplied governments and governors, who produce poverty in proportion as they are numerous.
It required four hours the next day to reach Burg, which is a small old fashioned city, with gates and walls, and centinels, and tax-gatherers at the gate, like all the perfect cities of Germany. The church is an immense mass of stones rudely piled together; with nothing to disturb the heavy flat uniformity of a gable-wall rising into a steeple, but two small windows and a door. It looked as if it had been built to overshadow the houses in its neighbourhood. In the parade, as the public square of most of the towns of this part of Prussia is named, there was a Colossal statue of some warrior of the fifteenth or sixteenth century. An old woman who happened to be crossing the square at the moment, and who, unfortunately for me, was not one of the best chronicles of the place, as she barely remembered the name of the hero, who was probably in his time called immortal, told me it was the statue of one Rolla; further she knew not; she was much better pleased to go about her business, than to attend to questions which she was puzzled to answer. The statue was hewn out of sandstone, was in armour, and was placed against the corner of a house, as if its present situation had not been its original one. The legs were nearly worn away, from having served as whetstones for the knives of two or three generations of neighbouring butchers, and Rolla appeared likely at no distant period to be tumbled from his station.
The weather was warmer to-day; it thawed, which made the track, for the new road was not yet completed, rather dirty; I reached Magdeburg at five o’clock, somewhat tantalized by a winding, and fatigued by a heavy road. The country was partly cultivated, much of it was forest, and near Magdeburg, much of it was marshy and morass; yet there were more villages and more large houses in this day’s walk than I had seen since leaving Saxony. I had scarcely entered the town before I was accosted by two or three lads, with offers to show me a good inn, or if “I wanted any thing else;” they then whispered to me, “hübsches Mädel,” pretty girl, and they were ready to introduce me to some of their acquaintances. They were not quite so impertinent, intrusive, and disgusting as the Italians, who profess the same trade, but equally ready to serve. This was not the first time I had been so accosted in German towns. I found my way to an inn without their assistance. It was not one of the large houses that are numerous and good in Magdeburg, but a middling sort of inn, where I supped with some German travellers, and with the landlord and his wife. In the same room where we supped was a billiard table, and through a window, at the farther end, spirits were sold to whoever demanded them. After supper, the landlord introduced his little grand-daughter, to display her knowledge in geography, and her skill in recitation. She callea forth from the other guests many such exclamations as, “Ach du lieber Gott, ein charmantes Kind.” Ah! Good God! A charming child!
Magdeburg was distinguished in the tenth century by the peculiar favour of the Emperor Otto the Great, from the partiality which his wife Edgid, an English Princess, is said to have borne it for its resemblance to her native London. Little or no resemblance is now to be traced further than that, like London, it stands on the banks of a river. It has one long good looking street, called the Broad Street, a name indeed it merits; which, terminating with a church at both ends, has no despicable appearance. The large square has undergone the usual transformation in its name, and marks tolerably well the change which has taken place in society. It was the cathedral square, it is now the parade Platz. Where the clergy formerly solitarily meditated under the trees, or discussed, as the rosy wine mantled in their cheeks, the mysteries of theology, there soldiers now wheel and march, and thrust forward, first the right shoulder, then the left, with all possible activity and noise. There was as much bustle as if the days of the Great Frederick were returned, when this lover of cudgel discipline and long queues, rose with the sun to superintend the noble labours of soldier-drilling. I leave it to others to decide whether the dominion of the sword, which this change marks, be more or less beneficial than the dominion of the crozier. There is another square, in which there is still standing a monument, which was erected to the Emperor Otto in the tenth century. It is hewn out of sandstone.
The cathedral is a celebrated piece of Gothic architecture, but cannot be compared with many of the cathedrals and abbeys of Britain. With the exception of the cathedrals of Milan, of Cologne, Strasburgh, some of the buildings in the Netherlands, and those cathedrals which our countrymen built in France, there is but little Gothic out of our country which is worth much admiration.
The churches have all two steeples, a singularity sometimes seen in other towns. The houses present appearances somewhat similar to those of Leipsic, but the fronts are more ornamented with all sorts of fantastical things. Among these, the great dragons and flying serpents at the ends of the waterspouts, which vomit the rain as it falls on the roofs to the middle of the streets, were some of the most conspicuous and singular. The brass handles of the doors were polished, and there was a sort of neatness and cleanness conspicuous about the houses, to which I had long been a stranger. The “Gerichtshof,” Palace of Justice, was open, and I entered, but it is only into the deserted halls you are allowed to penetrate. The chambers of justice are closed against all but advocates and judges.
Magdeburg is a very strong fortress, and it is the chief place of what was formerly an independent archbishopric of the same name. It came early into the possession of the Brandenburg family, and followed the reformed religion at an early period of the Reformation. The city itself possessed, like all the cities of Germany, a sort of republican government, which had allowed the natural industry and ingenuity of the citizens room to develope themselves; and these, with a favourable situation, had made Magdeburg, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, one of the most flourishing cities in Germany. Its inhabitants had shown that they knew the value of their freedom, and they, on many occasions, defended themselves manfully against threats, exactions, and open attacks.
Few cities have been more conspicuous, in the history of Germany, than Magdeburg, though many have constantly played a greater part. Its complete destruction by the army of General Tilly, in the year 1631, is a blood stain, that, so long as Schiller’s history of the thirty years’ war shall be read, or Magdeburg remain, can never be erased, and that will always attest how much more cruel religious wars are than any other. After a siege of six weeks by the army under Tilly, the city was taken by storm on the 10th of May, and the number of inhabitants was reduced, in a few short hours, by the most horrid deaths, from 30,000 to 1,000, and not a building was left standing but two churches, and a few small houses. Amidst the murdered bodies, and the burning ruins, did this true soldier of the church collect his Croats and his Walloons in the cathedral, and there return in glorious song his solemn thanks to the benevolent Father of the beings he had been massacring, that the murder and the brand were completed. When some officers, whose names history has not preserved, came to Tilly, and requested him to put a stop to the carnage, he told them, “Come back in an hour, I will then see what is to be done; but the soldiers must have their reward for their labour and danger.” The destruction of Magdeburg only occasioned the Protestant princes of Germany to unite more sincerely in their opposition to the Emperor, and thus the wicked deed insured final success to the party it was meant to terrify and to ruin.
The town is said to contain 34,700 people, and is a place of considerable trade. The government of Prussia is doing all it can to favour Magdeburg, and that part of the commerce of the Elbe which centers in it. Seventy-five vessels are enumerated as belonging to it; yet it appears, from a comparison of the years 1798 and 1815, that the trade was greater in the former than in the latter year. Ribbons and woollen cloths are some of the principal manufactures of the town, but of the latter there was a remarkable diminution, while there was a small increase of the cotton manufactured between the years 1802 and 1815. The peace and the new steam navigation established between Berlin and Hamburg, should, however, be favourable to Magdeburg, and when I saw the town, there was an appearance of bustle and employment.
I left Magdeburg at noon on the following day, January 6th, and passing, in the course of a walk of twenty miles, through seven villages, reached Exleben to sleep. The number of the villages showed how much better the country is peopled here than between Berlin and Magdeburg. It had lost its sandy nature even before reaching Magdeburg; it was now become a good clay soil, and was all open and cultivated. The hills were gently undulating, and the numerous villages placed in the vallies, and surrounded with tall pines, above which nothing was seen but the church steeple or the white shining walls of some nobleman’s house, looked at a distance more picturesque than the villages of Germany generally appear. Though the houses were built of the usual materials, and in the usual form, both men and women looked cleaner than the peasantry do in general.
There was a wedding-feast at one of the villages, and the peasantry still preserve the ancient custom of collecting on such occasions as numerous a party as they can entertain. I have heard instances of their bringing together more than a hundred guests, and of their placing before them eatables enough to satisfy them, and brandy enough to make them all tipsy. There were only between forty and fifty persons present on this occasion. The guzzling was over, or at least suspended, and there was nothing to admire but the dresses of the peasant girls. Each girl wore a small green silk cap, from which streamed a great variety of different coloured ribbons, while, on ordinary occasions, the cap is black, or entirely laid aside. The hair is all combed back from the forehead, and rolled up from behind, and it is kept in this situation by the cap, which is made of pasteboard, or some stiff substance. It is covered with silk, fits close to the top of the head, and comes down on each side towards the ears, and otherwise looks like a monk’s cowl. Similar ones are worn in southern Germany, but they are there generally of embroidered gold or silver. Their long stays tightly laced, at the bottom of which the loose petticoats project all round, and then hang straight down, made them look as if they had been formed by some artist who intended to terminate them at the waist, in a point, and had then altered his mind, and placed the point on a large base, and them on two legs. This is a mode of concealing the human figure, within a distorted shell, that has been common to all the beauties of Europe. A short linen gown, or rather jacket, fits tight over the long stays, and descends no lower than them. The petticoats are all made of blue, white, and red striped woollen, and descend only half way down the legs; white worsted stockings, with flaming red, or other coloured clocks, and high heeled shoes, made up their dress. The whole party were clothed so much alike, that it might have been supposed they were all sisters. Among the men, the young ones were dressed like the inhabitants of towns, and the old ones wore long blue home-made coats, that descended to their ankles; they were lined or faced with red, and ornamented with large metal buttons. The old men wore cocked hats, and had the appearance of veteran soldiers. It is probable, from its resemblance, that this dress is derived from the dress worn by the soldiers of the Great Frederick. The peasants were then, as now, soldiers, and their dress in that capacity became their dress as peasants, just as at this time the younger peasantry mostly wear something that looks like the undress of the military. The use of a military dress may be promoted by the peasants who are retired from service being allowed as a privilege to wear regimentals.
At Exleben, where I slept, two noblemen resided, which was a great source of vexation to the inhabitants, who, when the noblemen do not reside among them, are generally free from all services except a certain rent, either in money or corn; but when they reside the peasantry must supply them with horses, carry their harvest in, plough their ground, and must give them the third goose and the tenth lamb. The people seemed to feel these services as a hardship, and, from their complaints, I judged they were not accustomed to them. Those must be bad regulations which make it disagreeable to the peasantry that the landholders should live on their estates.
Notwithstanding the many villages in this neighbourhood, and though the road is the principal communication between Magdeburgh, Brunswick, and Hamburgh, it appeared to be very bad; it was full of hollows, in which, as it now thawed, waggons were sticking fast, and people labouring to extricate them. The traffic appeared capable of paying for a better road.
From having rather an extensive view of the country after leaving Magdeburg, I was reminded that the people in general throughout Germany dwell in villages, and not in single detached farm-houses. The time which the cultivators must often waste in going to and coming from their lands with the bad roads of this country, makes this an inconvenient practice; and an obvious improvement in German husbandry would be for the farmers to live on the lands they cultivate. There was a time when it was necessary for common security that the people should crowd round the castle of their master, and when, being his property, it might be necessary that they should labour under his eye, or the eye of his bailiff; and succeeding generations continue to follow the ancient custom when the circumstances are no longer the same. The manner in which the land of the peasants is divided and separated, a piece here and a piece there, operates to make them continue this manner of living. But now when it has been declared that feudal services shall be abolished, if the people are left to act for themselves, each individual will certainly find it more convenient to have all the land he cultivates in one place. Purchases and changes will ultimately accomplish this, and probably the German agriculturists will then build houses and barns each on his own farm.