Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER X.: kalenberg—the harz. - Travels in the North of Germany, vol. 1
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CHAPTER X.: kalenberg—the harz. - 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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Frey schiessen.—A national amusement.—When introduced.—Opinions of electioneering squabbles.—Mr Malchus.—Alfeld.—Eimbeck beer.—Italian and German manners.—Göttingen.—Sudden prosperity.—Situation.—Walks.—Club.—Schwarzberg-Sondershausen.—The Harz.—Osterode.—Clausthal.—Mint.—Washing and smelting houses.—A mine.—Inhabitants of the Harz.—Goslar.—Ilsenberg.—A monument.—The Brochen.—Extensive view—Lauterberg.—Manufactory of iron ornaments.—Herzberg.—Münden.—Tomb in garden.
Few persons except those who are whirled along at the will of postillions and their horses, and who, with the aid of fur caps, comfortable cloaks, and an easy carriage, enjoy the inestimable advantage of performing their journey asleep, can have travelled in the north of Germany without having sometimes seen targets nailed up over the doors of farm-houses. They indeed do not so much need occupation as the solitary pedestrian, who is constantly casting about for a moment’s amusement, or an extraordinary sight, and he has, consequently, no right to suppose that what the slowness of his weary steps allowed him to see at every village, ever glanced on the eye, or caught the notice of travellers in carriages. I can only affirm, therefore, strictly, that I frequently saw them, and on asking what they were, I was told they were like the fox’s brush or outstretched buzzard, which sometimes ornaments the barn-doors in England, memorials of the skill, the victory, and pride of the owners. The Germans have a national amusement called Scheiben schiessen, shooting at a mark, or Frey schiessen, free shooting, which most generally takes place about the month of June or July, and is attended with so much carousing as to deserve mentioning here. The people collect in bodies, and march in a military and triumphant manner to some particular spot, at a distance from the town or village, and every man who chooses to buy the privilege with a florin, lays his rifle on a rest fixed for that purpose, and shoots at a mark. The mark is sometimes a fixed target, but it is sometimes made to move quickly past a small opening. The marksman is placed at a convenient distance, his rifle is loaded for him, at a signal given, the Scheibe, as it is called, is put in motion, and he hits it if he can. Sometimes the mark is a stag chased by dogs; indeed, an instance was mentioned to me of the valour of the Germans being called on to shoot at a wooden representation of Buonaparte, followed by a Cossack. He who misses the stag or Buonaparte has a proportionate fine to pay, and woe to him if he hit the faithful dog, or the valiant Cossack. He who hits the mark has a due share of honour, and he who is so skilful as to drive his ball through the centre, receives the wooden image itself as the reward of his skill. This is then nailed up over his door, or placed at some conspicuous part of his mansion, and is very often its brightest and only ornament. It remains year after year, more similar trophies are sometimes added, and the front of the house then becomes covered with the memorials of village war.
Frey schiessen was introduced in the year 1450, soon after gunpowder came into general use, in order to learn how to shoot steadily at men. It was first practised in the North of Germany by the citizens of Brunswick, who, in all matters of discipline, and in the formation of troops, are said to have set the princes of that period a good example. Before then, similar practices with other arms appear to have been common, but then, for the first time, shooting with muskets was introduced amongst the people. It has now, however, degenerated into a mere amusement, which, though very national, is permitted only once a-year. The Germans display in it, as in other things, their great characteristic of shunning bodily exertion. When we compare it with cricket, or golf, or boxing, or any of the manly pastimes of our country youth, we laugh at that revelry which accompanies it, which was originally intended to congratulate the victor, or soothe him after his toils. It is now a sort of saturnalia, when those who have been sober and sparing all the year indulge in licentiousness. It is to the Germans what Greenwich fair is to the citizens of London, or the fête of St Cloud to the Parisians. Every body must partake of its festivities. Those who never go abroad through the rest of the year go to this feast. The pennies which poverty can save are hoarded for a debauch, and those whose profligacy has spared nothing pawn their furniture, their clothes, or their ornaments, that they may say, like their neighbours, “I too was at the feast; I swilled in the same room with the herr von,—and I destroyed a certain portion of viands better than ordinary, and I was filled both with joy and with meat.”
Every village has its own schiessen. I had seen several, and heard of more in my route, but it would have occasioned repetition to have mentioned them, and I deferred it till my return to Hannover, where I knew I should see one in its greatest perfection. It was the 19th of July, in the morning, that the citizens of the new town of Hannover, in an appropriate costume, with music and flags, marched in gay procession from the town to Herrenhausen, a palace of the sovereign about one mile and a half distant; booths were erected, and a proper place made for the shooting. The orangery was cleared out, one end of it was fitted up as a ball-room, and the other as a tavern, the fountains of the royal gardens were made to play, and great importance was given to the whole by one of the cabinet ministers, who is the chief of all that relates to the royal domains, taking the direction on himself. For this attention, however, the citizens with their music go at the end of the three days which the shooting lasts, in solemn procession, to return him their thanks, and “bring him a vivat.” Even this amusement is under the direction of the government.
I visited Herrenhausen on each day the shooting lasted, and partook of the feasting and revelry. The gay ball-room in the orange house was for the dancers of a better condition, and sundry other places were fitted up for the poorer citizens and peasants to hop and whirl in at a cheaper rate. Refreshments of all kinds were abundant, and there was a great deal of guzzling. People of all distinctions go, and carry their families with them. I saw a judge smoking his segar, and swallowing the wing of a fowl,—the master of the horse drinking punch,—the secretary to the consistorium enjoying a pasty with his wife,—nobles, gentlemen, tradesmen, musicians, were all mixed together, and there were no distinctions recognized or preserved.
I witnessed neither riot nor disturbance, neither quarrelling nor abusive language. There was much licentiousness, but there were neither disputes nor fighting. No fair in England, in which the people had a full swing for their gluttony, could have lasted three days without many hard knocks and broken heads. I am far, however, from attributing this in the one case, as is usually done, to the care of the police, and in the other to the want of a police. It is more to be ascribed to the natural character of the two people, which is visible in children so well as in men;—to the gentleness and general quietness of the Germans, and to the boisterous, perhaps turbulent, energies of our countrymen. In fact, we have a police whose character has been written in the blood of innocent men, for it sold them to death and the infamy of the gallows. Nor do I believe any extension of its powers would prevent one crime, or hinder one disturbance. It is certain that every policeman must be paid from the produce of the labourer, and because his occupation is disgraceful, he must be well paid, and in proportion as a police is numerous, so is the labourer reduced to poverty; the inequality of his condition is farther augmented, and this causes more crimes than the best organized police can suppress.
About this period the general election was going on in England, and I was rather surprised at the opinions I heard expressed on the subject. The Hannoverians were quite shocked at reading of our riots; they spoke of them as disgraceful to a Christian country. “What, did the government do nothing to stop such barbarities? Where was our police?” “Such scenes were a shame to civilized man.” Nothing excited severer remarks than the practice of spitting on candidates. It was so odious in their estimation, that they were “surprised every vagabond who did it was not apprehended, and most severely punished.” It is good to hear and to record the opinions of foreigners on such things, and we perhaps regard them with too little attention when they thus sink us, in the estimation of other people, to a level with barbarians. Some of the practices of that time were the insults of the meanest and most dastardly souls, of a poor spirit that was fretted and vexed, that was more like a passionate spoiled child than like a man. They were odious, and excited abhorrence in the minds of all the quiet, orderly, well disposed Germans. They and other people attribute, wrongly perhaps, all such outrages to our political liberty; it would still be worth having, though it did cause them; but, calm and contented as they are, they do not think so, and they would rather continue to support a system of political degradation, than incur the possibility of being exposed to similar outrages. It would not be an easy task to ascertain what portion of such outrages are caused by liberty, and what portion by inequality of condition; by our practices being in opposition to our principles; by our preaching liberty, and by our condemning a part of the society to political degradation, but it would be an important one from its results. It would probably rescue liberty from the odium that is now thrown on her, and endear her more to all men, by proving that the vices which are called her offspring are in truth the children of oppression and of slavery.
I finally quitted Hannover on Monday, July 27, and, again passing the town of Hildesheim, before mentioned, I reached Göttingen in two days. In the province of Hildesheim there is a nobleman’s seat, which is considered as a phenomenon in this country for its elegance. In fact, country seats, except the palaces of the monarchs, are very rare. The nobles are too poor to support them. A Count Brabeck had, however, fitted up one at Soeder, which is said to unite all sorts of elegancies. It was rather out of my road, and I merely mention what I learnt from others. It is at present in a dilapidated state. It was in Hildesheim that Mr Malchus, who is celebrated in Germany as a financier, and who now is, or was recently, the chief minister at the court of Wirtemberg, first distinguished himself. Hildesheim was then in possession of Prussia. Some disputes arose between that power and the nobility, and Mr Malchus, who then filled a subordinate office in the province, wrote a work on the subject, which got him great credit, and laid the foundation of his future fortune.
At Alfeld a party of women were beating flax to separate the husk from the fibres. The instrument employed was a sort of block, with a deep groove, or a box. A wooden chopper was fixed, by one end, to this block, in such a manner that the other end could be lifted up, and it fell into the groove. The flax was held in the left hand, and thrown across the block and the groove; the chopper was worked by the right hand, and, constantly falling into the groove, bruised the flax against its edges. The women sat. A similar method was long followed in Britain: A man threw the flax over the edge of a stool, and, as he turned it with one hand, beat it with the other, with a sort of wooden sword. The man, however, stood. The instrument was simple and rude, but I believe there was no other till the invention of Mr Lee. It will be long, very long, before his invention is adopted in Germany. There are so many prejudices there against machinery, that, in some places, it has been forbidden to mow corn, because reaping it requires more labour and employs more people.
Eimbeck, a little dirty black town on the road, deserves to be mentioned as having been once celebrated for its beer. It was the Burton of Germany, and its beer, like London porter, was sent all over the empire. A barrel was, in the fifteenth century, what a few bottles of real Tokai are now,—a present for a prince. The affairs of Germany were then settled at Speirs or Worms, by the princes of the empire, over foaming draughts of true Eimbeck. It was the beloved drink of the sovereigns. The citizens shewed their admiration of the doctrines of Luther by sending him some of their best, and, as he could not himself go to Eimbeck, to give the words of salvation for the liquor of earthly life, he is said to have deputed two of his most faithful and thirsty disciples. One of the very largest houses in Hamburg, and still called the Eimbeckischen-Haus, was built on purpose to sell this beer. If what I drank might be taken as a specimen, the princes must have had execrable tastes, and very strong stomachs. It resembled the other wash in use in Germany denominated beer, and which is only adapted to the powerless smoke-dried palates, throats, and tastes, of the Germans. In the neighbourhood of Eimbeck much tobacco is cultivated.
The whole of the dominions of Hannover which lie to the southward of the capital are hilly, and even mountainous. Some parts of the road to Göttingen are amidst craggy and well wooded hills. The vallies are well cultivated, and the country and the travelling were much more agreeable than in the flat sands of Lüneburg, or the moors of Bremen. The province of Kalenberg, in which the town of Hannover is situated, lies between the flat sands and the hills, and partakes of the characteristics of both. Where it borders on Lüneburg it is sandy, and contains several bogs, but its south and western parts are hilly and fertile. The soil is a light-coloured loam or clay, very easy of culture. Fine forests of beech or oak cover the hills, and they abound in limestone and coal. Both are worked in several places. On the Leine are excellent meadows. The peasants have long enjoyed some advantages similar to those enjoyed by the peasants of Brunswick, and they are reputed to be more polished, better fed and housed than those of Hoya or Bremen. The soil of Hildesheim resembles that of Kalenberg, but is in general stiffer, it approaches a red colour, and is more productive. It is an irregular and beautiful country. One of the principal rivers from the Harz, the Innerste, which is there employed to cleanse the metallic ores from the earth, by the well-known process of washing, passes through the province of Hildesheim, and is said to desolate the land in its vicinity by depositing, in its progress, the separated earth and sand. These dry, and are afterwards blown over the surrounding country. The provinces of Göttingen and Grubenhagen, including all that part of the mountain of the Harz and the Eichsfeld which belong to Hannover, form the most southern part of the kingdom. They are rich in minerals and forests. The soil in the vallies is a stiff clay, and they are watered by an abundance of little streams. These are some of the most picturesque and productive provinces of the monarchy. With the exception of Hildesheim and the Eichsfeld, they have long formed part of the German dominions of our sovereign, which are not so entirely a flat and desolate sand, as they have usually been described to be.
As a specimen of the occupations of the people, I may mention meeting on my way an old man, who told me he owned about eight acres of land, which he cultivated in the summer; in winter he wove; and he was, moreover, the butcher of the village.
The poetical imaginations of the Italians, for which they are so much praised, never allow them to speak of things as they are, and the poor beings, whose greatest pride is that their forefathers performed great deeds, deluded by the admiration of unreflecting strangers, take credit to themselves for a disposition that makes them despicable as men. The vivacity of their imaginations, which is, however, seldom shewn at the present time by any proud specimens either of eloquence or of art, justifies to the whole of them their disregard of truth. An individual of this nation, whom I met on my way, was a good specimen of his countrymen. He betrayed his origin by his falsities so well as by his pronunciation. He had not spoken five minutes before he said what I knew to be untrue, and I left him to grope forward as he could, with his weary and sore feet. The Munchausen family are distinguished nobles of Hannover, and the Memoirs of the baron were originally written and published in Germany; yet the Germans do not resemble the Italians. They rather deserve the names they generally give themselves, of “Aechte, Biedere Deutscher,”—Honest true Germans.
Göttingen contains 10,000 inhabitants. The streets are well paved. Two thirds of the houses are modern; the remainder have been altered and improved to resemble the others. Without having any very good buildings, it is altogether a neat clean-looking town. The Lying-in hospital, though handsome, cannot be called more than a very second-rate sort of building; but the Observatory, which is out of the town, and which was designed by an architect of the name of Müller, seemed to me to be a model of good taste. It is extremely well adapted to its purposes; it is remarkably simple and chaste, and is not disfigured by a multitude of ornaments, which, in architecture, whenever they are useless, are absolutely ugly.
Unfortunately I have too often had occasion to speak of decaying towns, and it is with pleasure I now have to mention one, which has rapidly increased, and which owes the greater part of its neatness to its prosperity. It would be more pleasant could I trace the increase of Göttingen to natural causes, which having a permanent existence, might ensure a continuance of prosperity. But it has been occasioned by the patronage of the sovereign,—by a capricious feeling in an individual, which his predecessor may not inherit, or which circumstances may not allow him to follow. Göttingen had been lying in a state of ruin ever since the thirty years’ war, when George II. and his minister, Munchausen, selected it, in 1733, as a proper place to establish a university. It was its fallen and ruined state, and its favourable situation, which made them think it deserved the fattening stream of royal bounty. Of so little consequence was Göttingen before that period, that many of the professors who were invited to it are said hardly to have known in what quarter of Germany it was situated. The first instruction was given in store-houses, and the inhabitants are said to have regarded the first anatomical professor with great horror. They nicknamed him a man-flayer, and could not be bribed to light his fire, or to bring him wood and water. Since then the town has constantly improved, and the university has constantly, till 1818, increased in the number of its students, and in the reputation of its professors.
Sovereigns, in Germany, change their residence, or the direction of their bounties, and cities follow or grow up at their command. It is beautiful to see new and comfortable houses rising at the royal will; and that song of praise, which promises immortality for the magnificence, is most sweet; but it is deplorable to see neglected fields, houses sinking in ruin, and subjects living in poverty and filth, all to gratify the vanity of their guardians. While Göttingen has grown in size, its manufactories of cloth, of leather, and of beer, have all gone to decay. As an independent town, it appears to have enjoyed, prior to the sixteenth century, a degree of comparative importance, greater than it at present enjoys.
It is situated at one end of a very long valley. The little river Leine flows through it. The neighbourhood is fruitful; the hills offer some delightful walks, and many picturesque views. The ruins called Hardenberg, the Plesse, the Gleichen, Hanstein, and Berlepsch, are all the remains of old castles, and all objects of the visits and curiosity of the students. They each afford a delightful summer excursion, which serves to give both health and knowledge by exciting the mind to learn the state of society when these castles flourished, and to trace the events which are connected with them. There are many other pleasant walks about Göttingen, and the town is altogether a retired quiet place, well adapted for study. It is its unsiversity, however, the Georgia Augusta, as it is called, for which it is famous. At this moment it was threatened with ruin. The students had withdrawn themselves from the town; they had declared no foreign student should go there to study without being infamous. A royal commissioner, supported by troops, was examining the conduct of the students, and, for the first few days after my arrival, all study was suspended.
There is at Göttingen one of those clubs which I have frequently mentioned as a common feature of German society, and, a day or two after my arrival, I received a very polite invitation to frequent it during my stay. It was a pleasant society, composed of professors, clergymen, lawyers, soldier officers, and merchants, all mixing indiscriminately with each other. There were the usual amusements, and the usual reading resources, and I daily profited by the politeness of the members. One of them deserves to be mentioned. He was of the medical profession, but lived much more on a small fortune he possessed than by his practice. He was regularly at the club after dinner, though he seldom joined in any of the games either of billiards, chess, or cards. His dear delight was to smoke his pipe, look over the play, and say a few soft and placid things to every body near him. Another of his delights was to befriend every stranger,—to point out the journals they wanted; to get any books for them which belonged to the society; to inform them how they might amuse themselves; to introduce them to persons to make up a party; to suggest taking refreshment. In short, he delighted to do acts of kindness, in a gentle, quiet, unassuming way. He was a neighbour of mine, and every morning, as soon as it was day-light, he was leaning out of his window and smoking. He remained there regularly several hours. These morning hours, he said, were “the solace of his life. He was then more pleased than he could express. The tobacco was so balmy in the fresh air. He would not give up his peaceful contemplative morning pipe for any other pleasure that could be offered him.” Let not the boisterousand the turbulent despise such placid and such homely joys. Those persons are happy who can find pleasure in such trifles, and who can look with philosophic ease on all the cares, and turmoils, and affections of life. Many of the sorrows of more bustling men scarcely deserve commiseration, for they are occasioned by the restlessness of their own passions, and not by some natural causes which they themselves have no power to avert.
From Göttingen I made an excursion with some friends into the territories Schwarzburg-Sondershausen, another of those little independent principalities which were once so much more numerous than at present in Germany. This is a fruitful fine country. A great part of it comprises what is called la Campagne d’Or; but the people are probably as rude and as ignorant as in any part of Germany. The princes are said once to have been celebrated for learning. At present they are known only as good huntsmen. The court is not polished, and the country, removed from any of the great roads, seems left to itself. It has always been governed by the will of the prince. The police, particularly the police of the forests, is extremely rigid, but the roads, the villages, the houses, are rather in a shameful state. Where men are governed by an individual, he sets bounds to their improvements, and stamps a character on the whole. The adjoining state of Saxe-Weimar, which is only twice as large as Schwarzburg-Sondershausen, is one of the most polished of Germany, while this latter is one of the most unpolished. It contains 368 square geographical miles, and 45,000 inhabitants. The revenue amounts to L. 27,000 per year. The prince is an independent sovereign, and a member of the Diet of Germany.
I made also an excursion from Göttingen to the Harzberg, the highest mountain of the north of Germany. It appears to form no part of any of the great chains of Alps, but it can only be regarded as the northern point of those which extend through Europe, and it appears isolated, from its highest point being much higher than any of the surrounding hills. Streams flow from it in every direction, but the whole of its waters unite with the Elbe or the Weser. The Brocken is the highest point. This is granite. The hills around its sides and base are of a later formation, and they abound in iron, lead, silver, copper, and some gold. A large part of this mountain, containing its richest minerals, is within the territories of Hannover. The remainder belongs to Brunswick, Wernigerode, Stolberg, and Auhalt Bernburg. It is a great gratification to the inhabitants of the flat and sandy country to climb this mountain, and enjoy the extensive view; and there is no one point of the north of Germany which is more visited in summer than the Brocken. It is the holiday excursion for many a professor and student, and the summer jaunt for many a family. There are various roads to the top, each of which may be equally good, according as either can be profited by. There are various objects to be kept in view in visiting the Harz. To see its mines and manufactures is one; to explore its minerals is another; and to enjoy its picturesque scenery is a third. They may all be combined, but properly to investigate them all requires much time and much previous knowledge. My only object was to see the principal mines and manufactories which belong to Hannover. I was five days absent from Göttingen, and visited Osterode, Clausthal, Goslar, the Brocken, Andreasberg, and Herzberg.
At Osterode is a large granary to supply the inhabitants of the Harz with corn when it is scarce and dear. In some countries labour is so ill paid, that parish assistance must be given to the labourer, and here a royal granary, perhaps a not less costly expedient than workhouses and overseers, supplies the deficiency of wages. On an average, this granary gives corn to the value of 2500 Thalers, L. 400 a year, to the miners and other labourers on the Harz. Most of them work for the king, and it would be better that his majesty should give them the 2500 Thalers as greater wages, rather than as a bounty, and he might add the expence he now incurs for the large building, and for half a dozen persons employed at the granary. But this sort is a part of that individual wisdom, to me inscrutable, which so benevolently undertakes to provide for the welfare and happiness of the race.
It rained on the following day, and I was glad to join a mercantile traveller from Bremen, who was seeking orders, and collecting debts, in a carriage to Clausthal. This is the principal town of the Harz. There is a department of the Hannoverian ministry for the affairs of the Harz. A Berg-hauptman, chief of the mines, who is a nobleman, visits them occasionally, but transacts the business concerning them with the ministry, and he, therefore, generally resides in the town of Hannover. There is a vice Berg-hauptman, also a nobleman, who is the chief managing person resident on the Harz. He has to administer justice to the miners, and to preside over the whole of the different departments. He resides at Clausthal, and his permission must be obtained before the mint, the washing and smelting houses can be visited; it is always readily and politely given. The silver which is dug from the mines of the Harz is made into money at Clausthal, and it comes immediately into circulation by being employed to pay the workmen, and other necessary expences. At the mint the silver, which is still mixed with a small portion of lead, is first refined, it is then cast into bars, which, after passing through four series of rollers, become of the thickness requisite for the coin. They are then cut into round pieces by a hand machine, then weighed, the light pieces, if there be any, are rejected, and the heavy ones filed to a proper weight. The stamping is done by a machine that is worked by four men. Some dexterity was required to give the edge of the coin its ornament. Perhaps four series of rollers was more than were requisite, but, on the whole, the machinery was simple, and very good.
From the mint I visited the washing-house, which is well adapted, but the process of washing the earth is so well known, and has been so often described, that I shall say nothing about it, more than to confirm what has been frequently said of the washing house at Clausthal, that it is a very complete one. The earth, as it is obtained from the mine, is a sulphuret of lead, mixed with silver, and commonly contains in one hundred parts sixty of lead, and from six to eight of silver. After the earth has been separated by washing, the ore is carried to the smelting-house, mixed with a quantity of ironstone, and thrown into a furnace with charcoal. The iron combines with the sulphur in a state of fusion, the lead unites with the silver, and being heavier than the others, they sink to the bottom, and flow out of the furnace. The lead is afterwards separated from the silver by being exposed to a strong flame, when it becomes oxidated, and is removed as the oxidation goes on. Again thrown into a furnace, with charcoal, the lead is reduced to its metallic state, and is cast into those pigs in which it is met with in commerce. I saw this process; the furnaces, and the machine driven by water, which worked the bellows, appeared to me also to be good.
After dinner I visited one of the mines. All the mines of the Harz are worked at a great expence, owing to the rock in which the ores are found being of a soft and friable nature, that requires to be supported as the ore is extracted. All the galleries and shafts are accordingly built up with wood, which needs frequent repair, and can only be repaired at a very great expence. The galleries were the most spacious I ever saw in mines, and one chamber had been fitted up as a breakfast place for the Duke of Cambridge when he had visited them. We descended by ladders. The ore is drawn up by buckets. The machine which performs this office is driven by water. Two water wheels, each having a different movement, are connected together, and fixed on the same axis; and as the buckets are required to be let down or brought up, a man directs the water on one of the wheels, which sends one bucket down, and brings the other up; when this is performed, the water is directed on the other wheel, which turning the contrary way, brings the bucket which was sent down back, and sends the other down. To perform this, however, it is necessary a man should watch when to apply the water, and the whole machine appeared to me clumsy compared to machines employed for similar purposes in Britain.
Many of the officers connected with the mines supped at the inn, and I had the pleasure of a long conversation with Mr Vice Berg-hauptman von Reding, who usually, with most of the officers of the mines, spent their evenings in a social manner. I found him, as I have found every person filling respectable offices in Hannover, a gentlemanly well-informed man, and when I least expected to meet any society whatever, I passed a very pleasant evening. At Clausthal there is a school, where mining as a science, and all that is connected with it, as chemistry and mineralogy, are taught to those young men who are afterwards to fill offices in the mines.
The people of the Harz are different from the rest of the inhabitants of Hannover; their sole employments are mining, or working metals, or making the quantity of charcoal which is necessary for the thousand fires that are for ever burning. The Harz itself supplies wood, and the people look only to their mines for support. When, from any cause, their produce is deficient in quantity, or a sale cannot be found for it, they are reduced to extreme distress. All the people are exclusively miners, which renders them utterly dependant. Some little attention is paid to meadow land, and potatoes are partially cultivated, but in general agriculture is not so much attended to as it ought to be. “Laws,” whose wisdom I cannot discover, though they are said to be wise, “limit the culture of oats to Clausthal.”∗ The monarch who directs the labour of the miners and enjoys its produce, however, takes care of them. It is said that the various mines of the Harz have not for many years defrayed the expences incurred in working them. Placed as they generally are under the inspection of a host of Berg-hauptmen, and Forest-masters, and servants of the “quill,” and servants of the “leather,” so the two classes who keep the accounts, and who inspect the out-door works, are distinguished, it is probably true that they do not pay for working them. This cannot, however, be known with certainty, because they are a part of the royal estates. Whether they do or not, the miners have been organized for the service of the crown, and they look to it for their pay, though their labour may produce nothing. Within a few years loud complaints have been made of the heavy expences of this district; the inhabitants have wanted employment so much, that many projects have been suggested to find them some other work than mining. At present the sale of the metals is better. There were more beggars about Clausthal than I had seen in all the rest of Hannover, and their importunity was only equalled by the familiarity of their address. Every body is called cousin. You are reminded of your relationship to those who solicit your charity.
From Clausthal I went by the Oker Thal to Goslar. The valley is full of fine views. At Oker I saw a machine which had recently been erected to roll lead and copper into sheets. The whole machinery had been cast at the Koings-hutte at Lauterberg, on the Harz, but the men understood its management so ill, or it was made so imperfect, that they could not set the rollers parallel to each other, and every sheet of copper or lead came through crooked, from being more pressed on one side than on the other.
Goslar, like the other towns on the Harz, has several forges, smelting-houses, and other works connected with the mines. But it is celebrated in history as having been frequently the residence of those emperors who were of Saxon origin, and the seat of more than one solemn assembly of the princes of Germany. It is seated at the foot of the Rammelsberg, and overlooks an extensive plain. Its glittering towers and steeples still give it the air of an imperial town, but all delusion vanishes when you enter it, and find the streets narrow, crooked, and ill paved, and the churches and buildings in ruins. After being the residence of the emperor, Goslar became a powerful free city, and domineered over the Harz. It is now in the possession of Hannover, is a small town of 5670 inhabitants, and has no other claim to be noticed than its former historical importance. It possesses many antiquities, memorials of the imperial residence, some of which were thought worthy of being carried to Paris, but are now restored. The antiquaries differ in opinion relative to the origin and use of some of these, particularly a small metallic altar; and it is not for me, who took a very cursory view of it, to decide whether it be an altar of the Saxon god Krodo, or a piece of the household furniture of the Christian emperors. It may be of some consequence to the lovers of black letter and old print to be informed, their taste may be gratified in the little and old town of Goslar. In the Markt-Kirche there is a great collection of old books, and, among the rest, the first editions of most of the works, even the smallest, of Luther.
I ascended the Brochen from Ilsenburg, in company with two Silesian gentlemen, whom I had previously met at Clausthal. Ilsenburg is a cheerful large village in the county of Wernigerode. From it to the Brochen the road leads through the Ilsenthal, one of the most beautiful of all the vallies of the Harz. A small stream tumbles down among rude masses of granite that have been shook from the high surrounding rocks. From one of these, the Ilsenstein, there is a most delightful view of the village, and of the ironworks in the valley beneath, of many adjacent rude masses of rocks, and of a wide plain, through which the Ilse winds its way. On its summit the Count of Stolberg-Wernigerode has erected a cross made of cast-iron to the memory of some of his fellow soldiers who fell in 1813, fighting for the freedom and rights of Germany. This is like the warriors of old, who planted their memorials to valour on the highest peaks of the wilderness. The cross is unfortunately not seen till it is reached, and it is more likely to be taken for the sign of a hermitage, or of a place where a murder had been committed, than for a memorial to departed friends.
We reached the Brocken, from where nothing higher but the heavens can be seen, about noon. Fortunately the weather was clear, and the view extensive and grand. There is nothing pretty, no beautiful little scene in the immediate neighbourhood of the Brocken, it is far too high above all the surrounding country, but there is nothing on any side to impede a most extensive view. The sight rather fails to distinguish objects, than is stopped. The horizon is every where lost in a light blue obscurity. The Brocken is said to be 3480 or 3500 Paris feet above the level of the sea. From its top a circle of the earth is seen, the diameter of which is 140 geographical miles. This circle contains the 200th part of Europe, and is inhabited by 5,000,000 people. More than 300 towns and villages, and the territories of eleven different princes, lie within it. It may be doubted if there be such another view in Europe, or indeed in the world. When higher mountains are accessible, some still higher ones in their neighbourhood generally limit the view. Such prospects are, however, more astonishing than beautiful; they make a much more powerful impression when the enumerations of the geographical arithmetician are read, than when they are beheld. A white cottage at the foot of a steep crag, with meadows and corn-fields, and a rivulet running past it, is much more beautiful than the eye-straining view from the summit of the earth. We toil, however, to the top from the ambition of being equal or superior to our neighbours, and if shame would allow us, we should confess when we had descended that there was more enjoyment in remaining below. It is the ambition of seeing what has been pronounced beautiful by others, that often excites a degree of toil of which the object itself is utterly unworthy.
There is a single public-house on the top of the Brochen, the inhabitants of which are cut off from all communication from the rest of the world during winter. Here accommodations of all kinds, and tolerably good ones, may be procured. We dined there, and then taking leave of my companions, who were going back to Ilsenburg, I descended to Andreasburg.
My companions had travelled through a great part of Europe, one was an agriculturist, the other a merchant, and both were the advocates of that servitude of the peasantry which has made them so stupid and indolent, that they can be no longer, according to common opinion, safely entrusted with their own interest. There never will be an end to the excuses which are made for one man usurping power over another. They had seen the peasantry of Silesia bowed down under the yoke of their task-masters, and had known them in that state indolent and stupid; and they affirmed, if they were released from their yoke, they would still retain these characteristics, and that it was better that the ground should be half tilled by compulsion than utterly neglected, as they affirmed it would be if the peasantry were their own masters. Such opinions, however false, are an evidence of what is yet thought on this subject in Germany. They would not be worth mentioning if they were merely the opinions of two people, but they are espoused by some very clever and celebrated professors. Truth comes not in floods, and many extensive spots in Germany have never yet been reached by its waters.
Andreasburg is the second most important town of that part of the Harz which belongs to Hannover, and its neighbourhood is celebrated for several mines, in which silver, copper, lead, and arsenic, are dug. Six miles above Andreasburg I passed a large reservoir, called the Oder-Teich, which is there formed, that the various works below may always have a supply of water. A large mound built of blocks of granite is thrown across a valley, and stops the little river Oder in its course. It is 54 feet high, the length is 300. It is 72 feet thick below, and 54 above. It was eight years building, being finished in 1722. It cost 12,000 Thalers. It is a solid wall of large granite blocks, fastened together with iron clamps, and the interstices filled with sand and moss. The whole work is massive and good. I had a delightful walk through the Oder Thal to Lauterberg, though the beauty of nature was somewhat obscured by the smoke from making charcoal, and from various forges and smelting-houses. Throughout this country man was at work, but nature seemed still.
The village of Lauterberg is full of industry. Not only the common work of the Harz is performed, but the agriculture is of some importance. Some linen is made, which, in general, the women on the Harz have little time or inclination to make. Near Lauterberg is a copper mine, which is said to be worked at a constant loss, and only to be worked on account of the very superior quality of the metal, which is useful in making brass. I visited the smelting-houses, and saw both the smelting and roasting; as there was nothing peculiar in either, they are not worth describing. Near Lauterberg stands Konigs-hütte, the largest of all the works on the Harz belonging to Hannover, for refining, casting, and forging iron. The ore is converted to metal. Four forges are employed to make bar iron, and there is a complete establishment for making wire. The melting-furnace is well constructed, and has been constantly employed for nine years, without being ever once suffered to cool. Iron pots, and such stoves as the Germans use to heat their rooms, are constantly cast, though other things are cast when they are in demand, or are applied for. The work was well and skilfully performed. Medallions of celebrated men, such as Goethe, Winkelmann, and Wieland, are cast in iron with a degree of art and accuracy that I almost thought above human skill. Very fine chains, to be worn about the neck as ornaments, are made from iron wire. The cross erected by Count Stolberg, which has been mentioned, and a much larger monument, in the form of a pyramid, which has been erected at Magdesprung by the Duke of Anhalt Bernburg to the memory of his father, are both of iron, and both were cast on the Harz. The shaft of the pyramid is forty feet high. A great progress in casting iron, particularly in casting ornaments, and things of taste, has, therefore, been made in Northern Germany. The progress which has been made in works of more utility has been less; there is no iron bridge in the country, there are no steam-engines made here. There are some few iron railways at Clausthal, but they are not used. There is no good machinery cast; the rolling machine at Oker, and a boring machine at Konigs-hütte itself, are the only machines of importance. With facilities equal to what are to be found in Britain, and with their casting works probably longer established, they equal us in making ornaments, but are far behind us in making useful articles. The source of this difference may be easily traced. The whole of the mines, and of the casting-houses and forges on the Harz, belong to some one of the princes under whose dominions the Harz is divided; while in Britain, all such works belong to individuals. On the Harz, the progress of the manufacturer is directed by salaried servants of the crown, whose chief aim is to gratify the whim of their royal master. In Britain, individual interest, sharpened by competition, animates and directs the whole. It begins in making what is useful to the multitude, but the demands of that multitude increase in proportion to the ingenuity displayed in gratifying them, and those improvements which were first made in scissors and knives, lead ultimately to throw an iron bridge over the Thames, which is a monument of skill superior to what the rest of the world can boast. In none of the countries where these manufactories have been long nursed by royal patronage, is there either skill or power to erect such a noble and useful public work. The sovereign of Prussia, to whom a part of this mineral country belongs, and who possesses in Silesia and Westphalia many mines of iron, forges, and furnaces, brought a steam-engine from Britain. When a nation suffers its skill and ingenuity to be directed by one individual, it never attains any thing beyond an excellence in trifling, but when each individual of a nation follows his own interest, it begins with cultivating trifling, and what are to many persons mean improvements, but it at length fabricates every thing that is useful and grand.
The bar, or hammered iron, which is made here, is not equal to Swedish iron, which may be owing to the ore, or to the manner of hammering it. Charcoal is used for smelting both, but that of the Harz is neither equally nor sufficiently hammered. There are five forges for making it, and it is supposed the whole five make 13,000 hundred weight per year. The men who cast are paid weekly, without any reference to the quantity of work they perform. Their wages are about six shillings per week, or about one shilling per day. The men who make bar iron are paid at the rate of 4 groschen and 6 pfennige per hundred weight, and on average, the five men who work at each forge may prepare 50 hundred weight per week, which makes their wages about 5s. 9¼d. per week.
A boring and turning machine, the model of which was brought from England, has been recently erected here. It was not at work at the moment. The whole of the establishment, including casting, bar making, boring, and wire making, employs altogether 130 people. Fifty are employed about the forges and furnaces, the remainder cut wood, and make charcoal, and bring it to the forges. The whole is placed under the inspection of an ober Factor, who renders an account to the chief of the smelting-houses, who communicates directly with the vice-berg Hauptman. However the system which is here pursued may, on account of unprofitableness, be open to objections, I have abundant reason to praise the politeness of the individuals connected with it. A most intelligent and well-informed young man accompanied me throughout, and gave me every information I asked. The systematic and extensive education which all the persons receive who are to be employed in such places, ensures to them a degree of communicative knowledge which is very valuable to those who visit the places under their charge.
I have not here mentioned the tithe of all the manufactures in metals and mines which belong to Hannover, and which are situated on the Harz. Twenty-three thousand people live on that part of this mountain which belongs to our sovereign, and the greater part of all these are employed either in the mines, in burning charcoal, or in melting and working in metals. At Herzberg, which was the last place I visited before returning to Göttingen, there is a manufactory of arms, such as muskets, swords, &c. This also was royal, but it was sold during the government of Jerome Bonaparte, and is now left in the quiet possession of the purchaser. My excursion to the Harz was short, but it gave me great pleasure. A longer and more minute examination of the whole would have amply rewarded me, had circumstances at the moment not compelled me to return to Göttingen. I know scarcely any pursuit of common travellers, except the fine arts, which may not be promoted by a visit to this part of Germany. The hills abound with geological phenomena, and with beautiful minerals. The chemist may see a large part of his science in daily practice, and the man of general knowledge may here find some parts of every thing which he loves and cultivates. The lover of nature may delight in the beautiful scenery, and the poet may be amused by some of those thousand legends, fairy tales, and tales of goblins, which are still recounted and believed by the superstitious inhabitants. In this point they form an exception to the generality of the Germans. Their imaginations are said to be vivid. They have probably been improved by employments that bring them together, and subject them to danger. They are not, like the peasants, the slaves of a feudal lord; they have always enjoyed a species of distinction and freedom as Bergmänner, and they are distinguished from their countrymen by greater liveliness and ingenuity of fancy.
I finally left Göttingen and the territories of Hannover at the beginning of September. Münden, a town of 5000 inhabitants, beautifully situated at the confluence of the Fulda and the Werra, which, united, receive the name of the Weser, was the last town belonging to Hannover. I reached it on the evening of the day I had left Göttingen. I had exchanged memorials with my friends, and we had written compliments and good wishes for each other, as is customary among the Germans. I had been compelled by my host to do justice to his home-made sausages and brandy, and injustice to my stomach, and thus, after having gratified friends and acquaintance, their hospitality allowed me to depart. The impression on my mind at the moment was,—and time has not altered it,—that these are a kind people. Some I had become acquainted with by chance, to others I had been introduced, and I found every one kindly attentive, ready to promote my wishes and my happiness.
In the evening I strolled into a public garden there is at Münden, and which is situated on the point where the two rivers meet. The neighbouring hills are precipitous and well wooded. The garden was well laid out, and neatly kept. The town was behind. The two streams were rushing rapidly together, and, when united, they flowed more quietly on before me. On the right the high-road from Hannover wound down a steep and well-wooded hill. The evening was still, but man was filling the air with the noise of his labours. Carriages and carts were rattling on the road, and thundering over a bridge at the entrance of the garden. Boats were loading or unloading at the little quay, and close to me were several parties smoking, talking, and playing bowls. The garden formerly belonged to a merchant of Münden, who built a very elegant house here, and laid out the ground in a handsome style. He had partaken of the commercial spirit of Frankfort and Hamburg, and had used his wealth in enjoyment. He had been, however, either too extravagant or too speculative, had failed, and his house and garden had been sold, and converted into a place of public entertainment.
It is rather a common German custom to place some memorial to departed friends in the gardens where the living take their daily exercise. I have heard of many instances of this custom, but I have seen only the one mentioned at Celle and one which was in this garden. The former owner had erected a monument in it to his wife, which was still standing. It deserved no praise for its beauty, but it was sculptured, and recorded the names and virtues of her to whom it was erected. The custom is an amiable one. It is better to place a memorial of this sort amidst our daily walks than among a promiscuous heap of corrupting mortality. We may not choose that the bodies of our friends should be buried beneath our tread, but the memorials which are erected to them by affection, ought assuredly to be placed amidst our daily walks, and exposed only to the eye of our friends. It is only vanity that displays them in the public square.
During my residence in Hannover, and in my various excursions through the country, I endeavoured to acquire some information on the government, laws, agriculture, and education of Hannover, and the remainder of the work will be principally employed in laying before the reader the little I obtained.
[∗]Sonne Erdbeschreibung des Konigeischs, Hannover, p. 128.