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Thomas Hodgskin, Travels in the North of Germany, vol. 1 [1820]

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Thomas Hodgskin, 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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Vol. I of a two volume work in which Hodgskin describes in great detail the economic, political, legal, and social conditions he observed in his travels across northern Germany.

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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.
PRINTED FOR ARCHIBALD CONSTABLE AND CO. EDINBURGH; and hurst, robinson, and co. cheapside, london.
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The Work now offered to the Public contains the sum of such observations as the author had it in his power to make during a residence of some length in the North of Germany. He visited that country principally with the view of acquiring its language, and of gaining some knowledge of its literature. It was, however, suggested to him, by some of his friends, that he might be usefully employed in collecting information on the present state of the country. The governments of Northern Germany are so numerous, and individually of so little importance, that it would be more laborious than useful to describe them all. At the same time, they all resemble one another so much in their origin, Edition: current; Page: [vi] their progress, and their present form and spirit, that an accurate account of one might be adopted as an account of the whole. Hannover was selected for the principal object of inquiry, because it was considered as interesting in itself; and though closely connected with Britain for more than a century, it happens singularly enough that less is known here regarding it than almost any other part of Germany. The observations, however, relating to the state of laws, government, agriculture, commerce, manufactories, and education in Hannover, may be applied, with few exceptions, to the other countries of the North of Germany. He has added such a portion of his travels as he thought would be interesting to the reader. Some historical notices are occasionally inserted; and many remarks are made on the effects of the public institutions which are described, on the German language and literature; and on the character and amusements of such classes of people as he had an opportunity of observing.

The author is too well aware of his own deficiencies to offer any other portion of Edition: current; Page: [vii] his three years’ travels to the public than that which seems likely to be rendered acceptable from the importance which the present state of Germany gives to any observations relative to it. France and Italy, which he also visited, have been so often and so well described as to render any thing that he could say of them little more than a repetition of what has been said before. But the extraordinary developement of political feeling, and fermentation of ideas now taking place in Germany, allow him to hope that his observations on the present condition of its inhabitants may be, without presumption, presented to the public, although not clothed in the first style of elegance and learning. That nation, as if suddenly awakened from a long slumber, seems eager to overtake those communities which have started before it in the career of social improvement. In the excess of its zeal it appears to lose sight of the best means of obtaining the advantages for which it is struggling, and sometimes to exasperate the opposition it is unavoidably exposed to by using unnecessary violence. To Edition: current; Page: [viii] enable us to judge what chance the Germans have of succeeding in their efforts to ameliorate their political condition, and to know if what they seek be better than what they possess, it is necessary to know those minute circumstances in the structure of their society which are continually operating on their character, and which tend to modify the more important constitutional laws.

Germany was formerly known to the rest of Europe as a great nursery of soldiers; but it is now distinguished, in an extraordinary degree, for its literary and political enthusiasm. The descendants of those philosophers whose principal ambition was to seek terms of fulsome adulation to express their submission and devotedness to their sovereigns, criticise, with bold and honest freedom, the measures of their present rulers; and are recognized by the German public as the censors and judges of men in power, and as the organs of national sentiment. The princes, formerly accustomed to look on their subjects as property to be sold at their pleasure, now find themselves controlled by Edition: current; Page: [ix] public opinion; and, even in their worst measures, they profess a deference for its authority. These extensive and rapid changes, which are, in all probability, the precursors of other changes still more important, confer an interest on every subject connected with Germany, and anxiously fix the attention of political philosophers on its progress and future destiny.

The author has adverted to some defects in the system of government which exists in Germany; he has endeavoured to acquire an accurate notion of the composition of the ancient parliaments or states, of the nature of the new constitutions demanded, and of that which has actually been given to Hannover. Details of this kind, however, are inadequate to explain the irritation which now exists in different parts of Germany. Promises made and broken; hopes of improvement excited only to be beat down as sedition when their fulfilment was demanded; growing prosperity nipped in the bud by a change of masters and of measures; nations numbered, and transferred like cattle from one political dealer to another; are, indeed, Edition: current; Page: [x] powerful motives for discontent, but they are local only; while discontent and a desire of change appear to disturb the repose of all Europe.

In countries in every stage of improvement, from our own mighty and well-cultivated island, where a free press has enlightened the people, and where machinery has rendered the unaided labour of the hand nearly valueless; to others at the bottom of the scale, where neither spinning-jennies nor steam-engines are known, and where industry is confined to tilling the ground, there is the same species of comparative poverty and increasing dissatisfaction. These evils may be greater in one country than another,—but they everywhere exist, and everywhere disturb the peace of society. So general a disease can arise from no local cause, or temporary circumstances: it cannot be occasioned by preaching demagogues, or enthusiastic assassins. These may be brought forth, like Hunt and Sandt, by the wants or the irritation of the moment, but they are only the excrescences, if he may so speak, of a feeling which Edition: current; Page: [xi] appears permanent and nearly universal. This feeling, which seems to be co-extensive in every country, with the diffusion of knowledge among the governed part of the society, seems principally to arise from the total unfitness of those ancient institutions, which are so pertinaciously supported, to the wants, capacities, and intelligence of the present generation. We might pardon the presumption of men who should endeavour to legislate for a distant country, which they only knew by report. But what terms can express the absurdity of legislating for an unborn world, of the whole circumstances of which we are necessarily ignorant? Everywhere we see statesmen torturing human nature, in order to adapt it to their antiquated regulations. The opposition which ensues—the efforts which are made to resist and to subdue resistance—the expensive apparatus which is thus everywhere necessary to support governments, must, more than any local circumstances, be considered as the causes of the general discontent and misery.

Though these may be partly occasioned Edition: current; Page: [xii] by population outrunning subsistence, of which doctrine, however, legislators appear till within these few years to have been perfectly ignorant, they are by no means wholly accounted for by it. According to it we might expect with an increase of population great absolute poverty. We see, on the contrary, however, absolute wealth and only comparative poverty; or the capital of Europe has increased faster than its population. So that, if the means of subsistence or the capital, now possessed by every European society, be compared with the absolute amount of its population, it will be found greater than at any former period. Hence it seems probable that there is something fundamentally wrong in the very principles of European legislation, which may be learned by diligent investigation.

When the United States are compared with Spain, Holland with Italy, some circumstances, common to them all, may be discovered, which impede prosperity in some, and destroy it in others. Hannover may be considered as in a middle state, or as one of those nearly stationary countries, Edition: current; Page: [xiii] in which so much is consumed that nothing remains as a nucleus for continual increase, and where things are so much regulated, that change and improvement are alike prevented. In this point it seems calculated to serve as a lesson to those politicians who have a passion for petty legislation. Social regulations the most minute and most numerous, and a perfect obedience on the part of the people, distinguish that country. The government went on in its own course, perfectly undisturbed, till the country was occupied by the French. The credit of good intentions must be given to it, for its professions of a fatherly care for its subjects have been unbounded. Its power has been nearly unlimited. The actual condition of its subjects, their progress in the arts, the events of their history, tell clearly what the government has effected.

Hannover, which has otherwise few charms for the traveller, is not uninteresting to the political philosopher. It possesses none of the wonders of nature, nor of the magical creations of art; it has no splendid buildings, and no majestic ruins of Edition: current; Page: [xiv] ancient glory. With many fine rivers, and a considerable territory, containing valuable minerals, it has never been a commercial or manufactural nation, and has never shone on the political hemisphere like Holland, Genoa, and Venice. Prosperous countries arrest our attention to inquire into the causes of their welfare, and Hannover has a claim to our notice, because it has never been prosperous. The fields of the sluggard are as instructive as those of the industrious man, and, from a nation that has never risen to eminence, the causes may be learnt of the eminence of others.

Hannover is well supplied with schools for elementary education, and they are here described at some length. Göttingen may serve, in some measure, as a specimen of German universities. An account of it is given, with such remarks as serve to explain the importance of the German students, and the means by which they are made a distinct body from the rest of the society. At a time when an education-committee, in our country, seems disposed to subject education to the control Edition: current; Page: [xv] of the legislature, it may be of some importance to remark, that the whole education of Germany is directed and controlled by the governments of that country. And excellent as it may be considered, it has not been so efficacious in nourishing either active or speculative talents as education in our country, where it has hitherto nearly escaped the all-regulating ambition of the magistrate.

Whatever relates to criminal jurisprudence is at present deservedly much attended to in our country. Such information as could be obtained is, therefore, given regarding that of Hannover. A list of the punishments inflicted in one year was procured, and some of the prisons were visited. Facts relative to the effects of punishment seem yet to be wanted to enable us to decide with precision on the principles which are the foundation of criminal law. One which is here presented may be worthy of repetition.—Adultery has long been punished as a crime both in France and Germany, and chastity is more frequently violated in those countries than in Britain. Forgery, and every other kind Edition: current; Page: [xvi] of theft, is more severely punished in Britain than in France, and yet every man who has visited the latter country must be convinced, from the manner in which silver spoons and forks are used in the meanest auberge or restaurateur’s, as well as from the official statement of crimes committed in that country, which has been published, that theft and forgery are more rare in France than in England. This fact deserves the serious consideration of every advocate of severe criminal laws.

The author is sensible that he has left many points untouched, and has treated others very imperfectly. Since his return he has found reason to regret, as many other travellers much superior to him have also done, that he had not laid in a greater stock of preparatory knowledge before he left his country. Some of the deficiencies must, however, be attributed to the difficulty of obtaining information. The Germans have an abundance of works full of statistical calculations, but they have very few which critically examine the constitution of their country, or which explain the effects of their most important Edition: current; Page: [xvii] laws. To mention the cause of an omission, however, does not always excuse it, and the critic will still find many opportunities to exercise his forbearance.

The author has never been much accustomed to composition, and when he began this Work he had been for a considerable time more in the habit of using a foreign language than his native tongue. He is now aware that this circumstance has produced many inaccuracies of style, of which, however, he was insensible till it was too late to remedy them. He hopes they are not so great as to render the text obscure, and he trusts that faults which amount only to inelegance of expression may be pardoned in a man whose pretensions to authorship are of a humble kind.

It seems as if we had long been celebrated for corrupting the orthography of other nations. Leghorn for Livorno, and Munich for München, are examples, and travellers very often take the liberty of correcting such errors as fall in their way. Dr Clarke has written Tronyem for Drontheim, and, in compliance with the orthography of the Germans, Hannover is here Edition: current; Page: [xviii] written with two nns. When the Germans write Hanover, the stroke over the n signifies that it ought to be doubled, and, imitating this manner of writing it, without paying attention to the stroke, has probably been the cause why we have written it with one n only. The German orthography is also followed in writing such words as bauer instead of boor,—Reichs-Thaler instead of Rix-Dollar, and others. Boor, which we have borrowed from the Dutch, implies something stupid and contemptible, which characteristics ought not to be applied to the peasantry of Germany. Bauer accurately expresses their occupation; they are the labourers or architects of the ground. Reichs-Thaler is a coin different in value from a Spanish dollar, and circulated under the guarantee of the empire, or reich. Rix-dollar is only a corruption of the same words. Some titles of office and of dignities are also preserved in the original, because the usual translation either gives a very imperfect or a very false idea of the office signified. Thus amtman, (for example,) which is usually translated by the French word bailie, Edition: current; Page: [xix] has led some authors to speak of a respectable magistrate as the officer of a spunging-house. There are innumerable honorary titles to which we have nothing corresponding. Hofrath (translated court-councillor) confers a certain rank on the persons to whom it is given. This, and other similar titles, are sometimes used without being translated.

With these few preliminary remarks, the author commits the work to the judgment of the public. Although his inquiries into the social regulations and manners of another nation have been a source of enjoyment to him, he cannot promise himself that this will not be his only reward. It will, however, be a double gratification to him if his labours, in their present form, shall give either amusement or information to his readers.

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Page19,The number of square miles requires to be multiplied by 4.
184,for tons read hundred weight,—through the page.
303,note,for pelli read velli
346,line 10,for Auhalt read Anhalt
347,18,dele sort
372,2,for Cherushers read Cheruskers
Page37,line 24for unsere read unsrer
for zur read für
87,26,after law add (.)
131,8,for grosscher read grosschen
149,9,for to read of.


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  • CHAPTER I. Dresden—Leipsic.—Comparative cleanness of the Saxons and the Bohemians.—Situation of Dresden.—Royal library.—English newspapers.—Amusements.—Singing boys.—Festivals and medals in honour of Luther.—Of students.—Of the inhabitants of Leipsic.—A funeral.—Traits of character.—A custom—Curious Christian names.—Population.—Government of Saxony.—Leave Dresden.—Salutations of peasants.—Meissen.—A deserter.—Oschatz.—Architecture of German towns.—Christmas eve.—A mode of salutation.—Extensive cultivation of music.—Arrive at Leipsic,.... Page 1
  • CHAPTER II. Leipsic—Berlin.—Displeasing politeness.—Grotesque market—place.—Churches.—A picture.—Ceremony of communion.—Funeral of a student.—A beggar.—Leipsic fairs.—A peculiar privilege.—A difference of manners.—A dirty custom.—Leave Leipsic.—A rencontre.—Cause for German indolence.—Want of roads.—Wittenberg, the seat of the Reformation.—A companion.—Trauenbritzen.—Belitz.—Weakness of German children.—Royal roads.—Potsdam.—Statues in gardens.—Arrive at Berlin. 42 Edition: current; Page: [xxi]
  • CHAPTER III. Prussia.—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, .... Page 78
  • CHAPTER IV. Brunswick—Hannover.—Helmstädt university.—Brunswick.—Tombs of the sovereigns.—Number killed in battle.—Different characters of the former Duke.—Former state of Brunswick.—For what now remarkable.—Traits of character.—Extent of territory.—Population.—Carolina college.—Roads.—Appropriate inscription.—Hildesheim.—Hannover buildings.—Monument to Leibnitz.—Library,.. 127
  • CHAPTER V. Hannover—Hamburg.—A mode of salutation.—Effects of mockery on character.—Appearance of country.—Freedom of German manners.—Queen Matilda.—Zucht-house.—Treatment of mad people; of criminals; prisoners of state.—A farmer chief-judge.—A wax manufactory.—Agricultural society.—Institutions.—Country.—Shepherds.—Uelzen.—Paper-mill.—Cloth manufactory.—Regulation of police.—Landlady and Pastor.—Specimen of education.—Specimen of opinions.—Lüneburg.—Nobleman farmer. Edition: current; Page: [xxiii] —An Amt Voght.—Main chaude.—Harburg.—Bridge built by Marshal Davoust, Page 153
  • CHAPTER VI. Hamburg, and Free Towns of Germany.—A contrast.—Jungfern Stieg.—Altona road.—Activity.—Affluence and cleanliness.—A custom.—Buildings.—Börsen Halle.—Country houses.—Rainvill’s garden.—Klopstock’s grave.—A part of his character.—Dancing saloons.—Number of children born out of marriage.—Effects on moral character.—Education.—System for the relief of the poor.—Professor Büsch.—Theatre.—Otto von Wittelsbach.—Commercial travellers.—Commercial inns.—Formation of the Hanseatic league.—Former extent.—Present influence of Hanse towns.—Number of free towns.—Present form of government.—Senates.—Citizens.—Their share in the government.—Quantity of jurisconsults.—Commissions conciliatrice.—Leave Hamburg, . 195
  • CHAPTER VII. Free Lands Near the Elbe.—Names.—In what their freedom consisted.—How separated.—Stade.—Forlifications.—Trade.—Appearance of country.—A difference of manners.—An adventure.—An advocate.—A country parson.—Ottendorf.—Land Hadeln.—Farmers.—Servants.—General appearance.—Budjadinger Land.—Borough English.—Opinions.—A German proverb.—Royal tolls.—Provinces of Bremen and Verden, .... 240
  • CHAPTER VIII. Bremen—Oldenburg—Friezland.—Bremen.—Public walk.—Raths Keller.—Museum.—Town Edition: current; Page: [xxiv] house.—Character of people.—Cultivation of wastes.—Oldenburg.—Government.—Corvees.—Friezland.—Canals.—Aurick.—Track—boat.—Company.—Embden.—Former size.—Superiority of the character of the Friezlanders.—Their origin.—Division of property.—Part they take in government.—United to Prussia.—Treatment of Prussia.—United to Hannover.—Public spirit proportionate to liberty.—Disasters.—Leave Embden.—An adventure,. Page 263
  • CHAPTER IX. Papenburg—Schauenburg Lippe.—Celebrity of Papenburg.—Origin.—Meppen.—Nature of the country.—Increase of inhabitants.—Dirtiness of women.—Meddling of government.—Lingen.—Westphalia.—Osnabrück.—Ancient abode of the Saxons.—Memorials.—A linen hall.—Gardens.—A triumphal arch.—Relics of Charlemagne.—Literature of small towns.—Justus Möser.—Tolerance.—Penitentiary.—Soil of Osnabrück.—Suhlingen.—Nienburg.—Prison.—Counties of Hoya and Diepholz.—Loccum.—Mineral waters of Rehburg.—Schauenburg.—Lippe.—Arrive at Hannover, .. 296
  • CHAPTER X. Kalenberg—The Harz.—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. Edition: current; Page: [xxv] —Extensive view—Lauterberg.—Manufactory of iron ornaments.—Herzberg.—Münden.—Tomb in garden,... Page 328
  • CHAPTER XI. Hannover—Statistical and Historical View.—Different provinces of Hannover.—Names and size.—Population.—Boundaries.—Historical view.—Thirty years’ war.—Union of territories.—Their extent when the Elector was called to the throne of Great Britain.—Act of settlement gave a ninth elector to Germany.—Acquisition of Bremen and Verden.—Of territory at the Congress of Vienna, 367
  • CHAPTER XII. Hannover—Government.—Passive obedience characteristic of the Germans.—Former chief minister of Hannover.—Present ministry.—The chamber.—Provincial governments.—Prevent the practice of animal magnetism.—Magistracy of towns.—Power of the sovereign over them.—Character of city magistrates.—Amts what.—Police.—Government of the church.—Pastors.—Superintendents.—Consistoriums.—An anecdote.—Appointment of clergymen.—Revenues of the church.—Secularized convents.—Appointment of an abbot.—Character of the government, . 381
  • CHAPTER XIII. Hannover—Former States.—Six different states in Hannover.—Composition of those of Kalenberg; of Grubenhagen; of Lüneburg; of Bremen and Verden; of Hoya and Diepholz; of Hildesheim; of Friezland.—Their powers and privileges; in the fourteenth century; in the eighteenth century.—Alterations. Edition: current; Page: [xxvi] —Causes.—Destruction of the clergy.—The dependence of the nobles.—The servility of magistrates of towns.—Resemblance to Scotland.—The power of the sovereign increased.—Points of difference between the parliament of Great Britain and the states of Germany, .. Page 418
  • CHAPTER XIV. Hannover—The Present States.—When united.—Speech of the Duke of Cambridge.—Intention of forming a general assembly of the states.—How composed.—Dependent on the government.—Imperfect as a system of representation.—Proceedings secret.—Salaries of members.—States protect a right of the people.—Benefits and disadvantages of the new system.—Probable effects.—Remarks on the wish of the Germans for new constitutions,.. 450
  • CHAPTER XV. Hannover.—The Army.—Revenue.—Taxes.—Strength of the army.—How recruited.—Landwehr.—Power of the sovereign over the people.—Military punishments.—Courts martial composed liberally.—Sources of revenue.—Domanial accounts not submitted to the public.—Taxes.—Debts.—Expenditure.—Manner of levying taxes.—Complaints, 480
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CHAPTER I.: dresden—leipsic.

Comparative cleanness of the Saxons and the Bohemians.—Situation of Dresden.—Royal library.—English newspapers.—Amusements.—Singing boys.—Festivals and medals in honour of Luther.—Of students.—Of the inhabitants of Leipsic.—A funeral.—Traits of character.—A custom—Curious Christian names.—Population.—Government of Saxony.—Leave Dresden.—Salutations of peasants.—Meissen.—A deserter.—Oschatz.—Architecture of German towns.—Christmas eve.—A mode of salutation.—Extensive cultivation of music.—Arrive at Leipsic.

After having travelled on foot, and generally alone, through part of France, Italy, Switzerland, the Tyrol, and the south of Germany, in the years 1815, 1816, 1817, I arrived at Dresden in the early part of the month of September 1817. It was only during my residence in this town that I acquired a sufficient knowledge of the German language to enable me partially to comprehend German literature, and to converse with Germans. At this period, therefore, my remarks on Germany commence.

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The first house I entered in Saxony, after coming from Bohemia, gave me a favourable idea of the Saxons. The floor was sanded; the tables, though made of fir, and edged with copper, like those which are most frequently in use, were kept washed, and looked white; the pewter pots were shining and clean, and a neat-dressed woman was sitting and sewing. All this was extremely different from any thing I had seen in passing from Vienna to Presburg, to Olmütz, Prague, and to Saxony. Through the whole of this route, the floors appeared rarely swept. It was nearly impossible to tell of what wood the tables were made without scraping them; and Bohemian landlords, who are proverbial in their own country for fatness and insolence, were equally dirty and disgusting. Much of Bohemia is a naturally fertile and fine country, but the people are yet so little acquainted with comforts, that they have hardly any other beds for themselves than straw; and the traveller, even in the large towns, is rarely provided with any other than straw strewed in the public room. This may possibly arise from a great quantity of foot travellers, Jew merchants, and mechanics, who are not rich enough to pay for beds, and the innkeepers, accustomed to them only, provide none. All travellers seem subject to the same inconveniences, those who come in carriages and those who come on foot, both men and women. Edition: current; Page: [3] Oftentimes have I slept in these inns when the room has been full of the kind of persons mentioned. The motley group, while a three-cornered lamp, similar to those seen in old pictures, was suspended in the middle from the ceiling, reminded me sometimes of companies of pilgrims, and sometimes of hordes of banditti.

The situation of Dresden is singularly pleasing. It is built on the Elbe, which, from its windings, disappears both above and below the town; and it flows so smoothly as to resemble a lake more than a river. On the north side there is a ridge of sand hills, which have all been planted, within these few years, with pines, or some shrubs, and in many places with vines. These improvements were, in general, effected by the late Earl of Findlater, who bought some property here, or by the late minister, Count Marcolini. On the south side of the town there is also another ridge of gentle hills, which, extending both above and below it to the Elbe, and there apparently joining the opposite sand hills, shut up Dresden in a long oval vale. The mountains of Bohemia are seen at a distance; a great variety of walks, public gardens, beautiful scenery, and a well-cultivated neighbourhood, leave nothing in point of situation to be desired. The two parts of the town, situated on the opposite sides of the Elbe, are united by a long bridge, over which the people all pass on one Edition: current; Page: [4] side, and repass on the other. There are very few good buildings in Dresden; the house appropriated to the meeting of the States, in the Pirna Street, or Parliament house, a little palace in the great garden, some distance out of the town, which was uninhabited, and falling to ruins, the Catholic Chapel, and the Japanese Palace, which is now the public library, were all that gave me any pleasure, or seemed worthy of notice. The gallery of paintings, the academy of arts, the treasury, or place where the jewels are kept, with the other curiosities, are too well known to permit me to say anything new of them, and I shall therefore content myself with merely noticing such little customs as I observed peculiar to the people.

A public library, which is open every day except Sundays and holidays, is hardly a peculiarity, for such libraries exist in most of the capitals of Germany, but it deserves mentioning, as a very useful thing. Any books it contains are given on being asked for; and there is a small well warmed room to sit in to read. A recommendation to the librarian, or a respectable citizen answering for a stranger, procures him the further advantage of taking books home with him. All the respectable inhabitants have the same privilege; few of them, therefore, frequented the library, but the number of their servants who came daily for books shewed that they were in the habit Edition: current; Page: [5] of reading. The sovereigns have, by other means, such as establishing schools of all kinds, provided for the education of the people; and if they are not learned, ingenious, skilful, and energetic, it is not for want of the means of school instruction. Dresden, however, abounds with learned and clever men, with societies of poets and poetesses, among whom the ancient German custom of recitation is a favourite amusement, and with artists of all descriptions, who, without being greatly distinguished, pass their lives in the pursuits of science, or in the enjoyments of a cultivated taste.

The progress of the people in political knowledge, and the interest they take in political matters, is in some measure shown by there being in the town two different places where both French and English newspapers, with most of the German political and scientific journals of the day, are found. One of these is a club. It unites conveniences for playing billiards and other games, with books and newspapers, and to visit it a stranger must be introduced, but this is easily accomplished, through the English envoy, or some acquaintance. The other is a speculation, a complete cabinet literaire, such as are found in Paris and in other cities of France, to which people subscribe for a sitting, for a month, or for a year. The former of these places was much frequented, the latter hardly enough to pay the expences. The Edition: current; Page: [6] Times, the Morning Chronicle, and the Courier, might be read here, and were a good deal read by the inhabitants; and as the Edinburgh Review was to be had at the royal library, an Englishman could keep in Dresden on a level with the course of events, both literary and political, in his own country. English and French newspapers, and periodical works, are now found in most of the large cities of Germany, and are much read by the Germans, which shows how much the communication between the nations of Europe is improved, how much the people of one country now feel interested in the political events of every other, and that there is some approximation making, by a rapid interchange of knowledge and sentiment, and opinion, to abolish all that is hateful and odious in national distinctions. The philosopher rejoices at this, but it takes much from the interest of travels; and the inhabitants of Europe can now be better known to each other through the rapid medium of the post and newspapers, than through the more expensive, and perhaps less interesting, means of travellers.

The inhabitants of Dresden are very fond of amusements, and much of their time is passed in walking to public gardens, in listening to music while they sip their coffee, in playing billiards, chess, and cards, and in conversation. The men all smoke, and the women all knit, in public places; Edition: current; Page: [7] and the latter are so accustomed to the fumes of tobacco, that they seem to think them not an inconvenience. They often remained in crowded rooms, from which the smoke obliged me to retire. A pipe or a segar forms part of a German; and a most elegant-dressed young man, while he is making his best bow to his mistress, puts the burning tobacco under her nose, and lets her inhale at once flattery and smoke.

A great amusement of the citizens was shooting at the popinjay. A large pole, like the Maypoles of England, stands in the neighbourhood of most of the places of public entertainment. It is fixed in a sort of box, like the mast of a small vessel, so that it can be let down till it is horizontal, and elevated without much trouble. At the top a thing is placed resembling the Austrian eagle, but resplendent with feathers and gold. Those marksmen are considered the most skilful who shoot the head off. A cross-bow, but fashioned like a musket, is employed to shoot with; and it is loaded with a small iron bolt, by a person hired for the purpose of loading it, who is, in general, the owner of the cross-bows. The citizens continue to smoke their pipes, ask is it my turn, talk over their shots, and when the turn comes to any one, he lays the ready-loaded cross-bow on a bar of wood, about forty yards distant from the pole, and tries to hit the wooden bird. He Edition: current; Page: [8] gives himself no other trouble; a boy looks after the bolts as they fall, and brings them back. It is an amusement that demands no labour and no thought; it allows of the continued enjoyment of smoking, and furnishes materials for interminable talk. This is a specimen of the manner in which the Germans shun active exertions. An amusement that requires some more exertion is nine-pins, which is also very common; but this admits of continued smoking, and demands no other labour but bowling. Dancing is the only amusement of the people that requires bodily exertion; and from their manner of dancing, which is rather slow, even this does not require much. Waltzing probably requires more.

One of the things that most early and most constantly attracted my curiosity in Dresden, was the custom of young lads singing psalms on Sundays and feast days about the town. Pious men have bequeathed funds to give a number of boys, who are, at the same time, choristers at the different churches, a cocked hat, a black scarf, and a suit of clothes, on condition of their entertaining the inhabitants with sacred music. Bands of ten or a dozen, with one for a leader, each dressed in black, with a cocked hat and a scarf, march slowly about the town, and, stopping at every second or third house, sing a psalm. I am myself too much averse to actions done from improper, Edition: current; Page: [9] or I may call them false motives, not to find this custom rather ridiculous. The proper motive why men should sing or pray, is a correspondent state of mind, but this was singing for hire,—in fact, a sort of mockery of worship. With this small abatement, of pleasure from not liking the reason of the thing, I found this singing very agreeable. The shrill, clear voices of the youngsters, sounding, in a clear frosty morning, through the streets, though they could not be compared with the perfect music of the Royal Catholic Chapel, had something in them of simplicity that pleased my untutored ears nearly so well as the multiplied tones and warblings of the whole royal orchestra.

During my residence in Dresden, the return of the hundredth year of the Reformation was celebrated. The festival lasted three days. The churches were all hung, according to the taste of the clergymen, with flowers made into wreaths, festoons, and crowns. Orange trees were borrowed from the royal nurseries, and various shrubs and leafy ornaments were placed in the-churches, so as to give them a very gay and pleasing appearance. Religious worship, with appropriate psalms and hymns, took place on each of the days while the churches were thus ornamented, but the crowd was always so great, it was nearly impossible to get in. I unfortunately heard nothing, for even the very porches Edition: current; Page: [10] were full. At the end of three days, a great number of the singers, accompanied by persons carrying torches, and pictures of Luther, with banners, on which various mottos were inscribed, and followed by a great multitude, paraded through the streets of the town, and came at length to the Old Market, a large clear space, surrounded by houses. Here all the multitude could assemble; and here, while the singers formed a circle, and continued singing, all the torches were thrown together, and made a splendid bonfire. The crowd, the houses, the singers, were all distinctly seen by the glare, and there appeared to be nothing wanted but that the whole multitude should have sung so well as these young men, to have made it a most imposing spectacle. In this point it failed. Nothing can equal or compensate the enthusiasm,—the heart swelling effects of a multitude of voices; and if this ceremony were intended to fix any thing eternally on the people, they should themselves have been previously instructed to join in it. But it was supposed the people could not sing so well as the choristers, and the mighty effect of their voices was sacrificed to a little scientific music. By the last glare of the bonfire the last psalm was sung, and the people all retired quietly to their homes. There were no great preparations on the part of the police, and yet there was no quarrel nor disturbance.

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The same epoch was celebrated by similar festivals all over Germany, which argues, among the generality of the people, no indifference for religion. Medals also, and pictures of Luther, with the other reformers, were exposed for sale, and great numbers of them were bought and worn. Some of the medals were of silver for the rich, and of baser metals for the poor, so that all might be supplied. Luther and the reformers can only be considered as men who propagated in the world a number of moral and useful truths. So have the Bacons, the Newtons, and Lockes; and, while we celebrate the birth-day of Mr Pitt and Mr Fox, when it is perhaps impossible to ascertain any one benefit they conferred on society, we suffer those who have instructed us, and rescued us from error, to pass unhonoured; and Luther is probably only commemorated from his being a sort of leader to a large body of men whose interest it is that his tenets should be perpetuated and obeyed.

At the latter end of October, when this festival was celebrating, festivals of other kinds were common in Germany. On the eighteenth of this month, the anniversary of the battle of Leipsic, the students of the different universities of the whole of Saxony, in all about one thousand, assembled at the Wartburg, which had once long been the refuge of Luther, and there they burnt, in solemn procession, several emblems of some things they Edition: current; Page: [12] disliked, such as the tail worn by the Hessian soldiers, the false breasts of the Prussians, an Austrian corporal’s stick, the article of the congress of Vienna, which decreed the partition of Saxony, and some books, among which was the History of the Germans, by Kotzebue. They heard speeches from some of their leaders, are said to have made vows to die for the freedom of Germany, and to have burnt the hats which they had waved as they made these vows, that they might never again serve any ignoble purpose. They were accompanied by a great many spectators, who participated in their enthusiasm; and thus a very general spirit was excited for what is supposed to be the freedom of Germany. At Dresden this event was the subject of much conversation, and there were few persons who did not express great joy at the conduct of the students, and great hope of future benefits from them. Much controversy arose. Some professors were censured for the part they took in this procession; and the whole excited a vast deal of interest throughout Germany.

The inhabitants of Leipsic commemorated the same day in a different manner. They marched to the field of battle in great numbers, and there, forming a ring, kneeled down, and celebrated with prayers the victory that had delivered Germany, though it divided their country. Whatever the monarch of Saxony might Edition: current; Page: [13] be, the people were strongly opposed to Buonaparte and the French; they were animated by true German principles; and, unless nations are to be considered as the property of sovereigns, it was they, and not their monarch, who ought to have been thought of at the congress of Vienna; and they ought in justice, so well as in mercy, to have been spared that pain many of them expressed at the partition of their country.

Another procession, which deserves to be mentioned, was the funeral of a young lady. It was attended and followed like a funeral in England; a great number of people were, however, present, and amongst them, all the servants of the family. She was the daughter of a respectable innkeeper, and had enough of celebrity, and was enough respected, to bring a crowd together. The hearse was little more than wheels, and an appropriate place for the coffin to rest on, over which a handsome pall was thrown. The burying-ground was out of the town, near the Elbe, and the soil so sandy, that the grave was boarded up to keep it from filling before the corpse was deposited. Nothing worthy of mentioning happened till the moment of interment, when the lid of the coffin, which had never been screwed down, was lifted off, and the body, the colours just beginning to fade, was shewn to the surrounding spectators. She was in the stage,

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  • “Before decay’s effacing fingers
  • Have swept the lines where beauty lingers.”


  • “Hers was the loveliness of death,
  • That parts not quite with parting breath;”

and neatly dressed and ornamented with flowers, she looked but as in a sweet undreaming bridal sleep. Every body had before wept, but at this moment tears gushed from the eyes of all the spectators; the women and girls who were present all sobbed as if she had been their dearest relative; the servants all wept bitterly, and there was no spectator who was not affected. These expressions of grief and agony continued till the coffin was fastened, and the earth covered it for ever. Many of the younger part of the females present exclaimed, Oh, why am I not also dead? why can I not be buried? I have frequently heard young women utter similar expressions when they were melancholy, which, with them, was not unfrequently the case. In the spring of life, when their hearts should be open to unknown but hoped enjoyments, and to all the charms of nature, they frequently talked of the grave, and said there was nothing they wished for so much as death. They oftentimes sang a well known German song, called the Song of the Grave, Das Lied des Grabes, descriptive of the peace to be found there, and rarely without sighing as they repeated the last lines, Edition: current; Page: [15] “That was the only door through which the unhappy went to rest.”

This trait of sympathy may, however, be set off by the following: I one day entered a room belonging to a tailor I employed, where one of his children was lying, in the arms of a most unseemly death. Its limbs were ulcerated, it was half naked, flies buzzed about it, its throat was convulsed, and it looked shocking and disgusting. Yet its mother received me with smiles, and followed me out of the room with common unmeaning smiles, spoke to me of the weather and some other trifles, and when I pointed to the child, said, Yes, it was dying, in the same manner, and with the same tones, she had spoken to me of the weather. The father continued at his work, and seemed to have little other feeling but pleasure the child was to be taken away. This indifference is disgusting, but it is probably better than the overwrought sensibility which admits for a time of no consolation for irremediable, and yet common calamities. A person of my acquaintance, who had written works on botany and mathematics, and was considered rather a clever man, spoke to me one day of his marriage, and lamented it only because a wife cost him money, and he regretted his single state only as a cheaper one. The connection with women is so easy to be had, and so easy put off in this country, that no person appears to regard it as the great source of all the Edition: current; Page: [16] better affections, and of an attachment to home. Marriage is spoken of as a matter to be decided solely by its money advantages.

The following little incident may also be mentioned as illustrative of character. Near Dresden, and below the bridge, there was one of those floating mills lying on the Elbe, which are common on many of the rivers of Germany and France. They generally consist of one large flat boat, or of two boats fastened together, and on them a house is built, which contains the machinery for grinding. They are moored in the rivers, and the current gives motion to the water wheel, the axis of which is in the boats. This one on the Elbe was carried away from its station by a large boat loaded with stones running foul of it. Every person near ran to give assistance; some brought ropes, and some boats, and while nothing was neglected that could assist in stopping it, there was no noise, and very little unnecessary bustle. The only exclamations noticed were, that the owner sometimes said, It is bad for me. There was a great deal of difficulty in stopping so large a machine; the people on board threw out huge stones and anchors, but they were not heavy enough to hold it against the power of the stream; at length, when it had floated nearly a mile, a rope was conveyed to it from the shore, and it was stopped. This was certainly an event calculated to excite curiosity, and would, in many Edition: current; Page: [17] places, have produced much bustle and confusion. The Germans prevent these by thinking and regularity, and, while they possibly do more than some of their noisy screaming neighbours, they are sometimes thought stupid and dull from their possessing the virtue of self-command.

Brides in Germany carry with them to the house of their husband, what is called “der Brautschmuck,” which consists in clothes, fine linen, and jewels, proportionate to the wealth of the parents. On one of the princesses of Saxony being married to the son of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, all the linen clothes and ornaments, even to a chemise and a ring, which she was to take with her, were spread, before she went away, in the chambers of the palace for public inspection. The crowd to see the adornments of the royal bride was excessive, the centinels could scarcely keep the people back, and no conversation was heard amongst the women for several days but on the fineness of the linen, and on the beauty of the dresses and ornaments.

In Dresden, so well as in other parts of Germany, Christian names are common, which frequently recall those days of English fanaticism, when Praise God, and Hold-fast-the-Faith, were the baptismal names of our ancestors. The Germans are undoubtedly too much accustomed to these to remark them as peculiar, but a stranger smiles Edition: current; Page: [18] as he reads Gott-lob, Gott-fried, Gott-furcht, Gott-lieb, and many other such combinations, expressing love God, fear God, praise God, God peace, &c. &c.

It might be considered as unpardonable if I were to take my leave of Dresden without mentioning, that on a hill on the south side of the town, about three quarters of a mile distant from it, is the place where General Moreau was standing when he was wounded, and that on this spot a small monument has been erected to his memory. It is merely a square block of granite, on which some instruments and ornaments of war, sculptured in stone, are placed, and it bears, if my memory is correct, the simple inscription, To the Memory of General Moreau. Zum Andenken General Moreaus. A few trees are planted round it, and the spot commands a very good view of the town.

In consequence of the Earl of Findlater having given the property, which I have before mentioned he had improved, to a German, who is known in Dresden by the name of Secretary, which title he derived from his services to the Earl, it is now converted into a place of public entertainment; and, from its commanding a most beautiful view of the Elbe, it is a very fashionable one, and is much frequented. It still bears the name of Findlater, and I notice the circumstance, to remark the curious coincidence of a British nobleman giving his name to a German tavern.

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The following is a brief account of the present extent of Saxony, its form of government, and other little statistical notices, chiefly taken from the work of Dr George Hassel.

Its extent is 1352 square miles; it contains 1,232,644 inhabitants. It has preserved most of its manufacturing districts, and the richest of its mines, but it now produces very little corn, and contains no salt. It is divided into the following circles: 1. Of Meissen, containing 300 square miles, 297,945 inhabitants. 2. Of Leipsic, 276 square miles, 206,917 inhabitants. 3. Of Erzegeberge, 410 square miles, 459,264 inhabitants. 4. Of Voigtland, 132 square miles, and 88,639 inhabitants. A small part of Merseburg and Naumburg, 14 square miles, and 10,000 inhabitants. A part of Upper Lusatia, 220 square miles, and 169,879 inhabitants. The monarch is Catholic, the greater number of the inhabitants are Protestants, following the confession of Augsburgh, but other religions are fully tolerated. Jews, however, are tolerated only in Dresden and Leipsic, and have not the rights of citizenship. The difference between the ständes, or different classes of society, is strongly marked, and they consist in great nobility, in small nobility, in learned men, in citizens, and in peasants, who are yet in Upper Lusatia in a state of servitude.

The revenues are derived from domains, under Edition: current; Page: [20] which term are comprehended several estates—from regalia, such as mines, forests, tolls, the post, &c., and from several taxes, the principal of which, however, is a land-tax. The amount of the whole does not now exceed from eight to ten millions of florins, or L. 1,000,000 Sterling. The debt amounts to 50,000,000 florins, or between L. 5,000,000 and L. 6,000,000 Sterling. The taxes are unequally levied, the greater and small nobility being almost totally exempted. The army may amount to 18,000 men.

The monarch is bound by law not to alter the religion of the people. He must call on the states for their advice when he wants to levy new taxes, or to make new laws. The domains and regalia are not all in the hands of the monarch, many still belong to the great nobility. Some of these, as the House of Shönburg, have the right to tax their vassals, paying a third of the tax to the crown, and this house also possesses the power of remitting all punishments less than death. With these exceptions, and if followed up they comprise a large portion of the power of the state, this monarch has, however, all the remainder of it in his own hands. The different provinces, or circles, have different constitutions and privileges, which yet actually exist, though they are abolished in name. The great division is in united and not united provinces. Out of the ständes or different classes Edition: current; Page: [21] of the united provinces, the general assembly of the states for the kingdom is collected. The persons composing the states are distinguished into those who directly, and those who indirectly, form them. The first are divided into four circles, those of Meissen, of Leipsic, of Erzegeberge, and of the Voigtland.

The different classes living in these circles, who directly form the states, have a personal right to appear at the assembly of the states, while those who indirectly form them, the prebends of Meissen, and the university of Leipsic, have this right by virtue of their office. All the ständes of these provinces and circles, with the clerical establishments, are now united into a General Assembly of States for the whole of Saxony. The king has the power of calling them together when and where he will; generally he calls them together every sixth year. This assembly is divided into three classes; the first is composed of the clergy, and the great nobility; the second of the small nobility, Rittershaft; and the third of deputies from cities. The second class, or Rittershaft, are possessors of noble properties, and they are only permitted to attend personally when their forefathers have been enrolled in the College of Heralds for eight generations. Among that part of this class of the nobility who do not boast of eight ancestors, there are other distinctions. Edition: current; Page: [22] Some hold their property independent of the jurisdiction of the local magistrate, and subject only to the jurisdiction of the Hofgericht; this property is called Schriftsässigen Güter,—the property of the others is subject to the jurisdiction of the local magistrates; this is Amtsässigen Güter. The former, the possessors of Schriftsässigen Güter, may appear personally; the latter, the possessors of Amtsässigen Güter, must elect deputies from the class which boasts eight known generations of ancestors. Among the holders of those noble properties, which are independent of local jurisdiction, Schriftsässigen Güter, there is yet a distinction into old and new. The latter may appear personally at the assembly, but they receive no diet money. This second class of the states, the Rittershaft, appoints, from out of the whole body, a small and a large committee, whose resolutions may be set aside or confirmed by the whole, but who, in general, manage the whole business for the class. These two committees, and the rest of the small nobility, are called the three colleges of the assembled smaller nobility. The deputies of the cities, who are the third class, have, in like manner, their small and large committees.

The first class makes representations for itself, and deliberates for itself on the royal propositions, so far as they concern their own interest only. The nobles of this class form a power almost independent of the monarch. The clergy and the university of Edition: current; Page: [23] Leipsic, who form part of the first class, are dependant on the crown. The other classes, in like manner, deliberate apart, and when each of them has come to a decision, they confer together, and make a resolution in common. These resolutions, with the king’s consent, become laws, though they do not affect the first class, and are published under the name of the Land Tags-abschied. So far as I have been able to comprehend the constitution of this assembly, it appears little capable of transacting business; and, though it was sitting when I was at Dresden, I heard of nothing amongst the people but expressions of impatience that it might soon separate, as it cost the country a considerable sum, most of the members being paid. It is the ancient parliament of the land, and has become a burthen, because it has never been reformed.

There are two distinct codes of laws in Saxony. The first is composed of various provincial laws, and much of it is taken from the famous Sachsen-spiegel. The second is the code of Augustus of Saxony. Recourse is also had to the Roman and the Canon law to explain the others, and each particular province has laws that are proper to it alone; the laws are uncertain, the processes long and costly, and it remains with the advocates to let them go to a conclusion when they please.

The different departments of the executive government are administered by different ministers, as Edition: current; Page: [24] in other European countries. For the administration of justice, there are the following tribunals: The Court of Appeals is the highest court, and, in cases of dispute relative to the property of the crown, this decides even on the rights of the sovereign. It is composed of one president, one vice-president, six noble counsellors, and twelve counsellors not noble, who are the judges. The Oberhofgericht at Leipsic is a court for particular persons, generally, I believe, for nobles. The Schoppenstuhl, which is composed of some of the members of the faculty of jurisprudence at Leipsic, and the whole of that faculty, form separate courts of appeal. The Berg Schoppenstuhl at Freyberg is the court for the miners, and all that relates to them, and at Bautzen is a court for Upper Lusatia. In each province there is a sort of local government, to whom the police and smaller jurisdictions are committed.

Saxony boasts one university, at Leipsic, royal schools at Meissen, Wurzen, and Grimma, with several lyceums, town schools, and village schools. There is an academy of arts at Dresden, and regular schools at Freyberg, for the instruction of miners. The whole of the education is under the direction of the chief consistorium; but the manner in which it is extended amongst the people will be better explained in the chapter on Education.

The spirit of every government, directed by one Edition: current; Page: [25] or a few persons, and not by the great mass of the society, must always depend on the dispositions of the ruling individual; and the aged sovereign of Saxony has been, through a long life, a mild and a quiet king. Hence, with his government few people are discontented, and, in fact, every body whom I spoke with praised and pitied him very much.

The same circumstance has a great effect on the manners and morals of a whole people. And the decencies, the regularity, of the present court, even if they should be somewhat hypocritical, while they contrast finely with the libertinism of a former period, are tending to restore to the Saxons that regard for decency of which the voluptuous court of Augustus must have partially deprived them. The brutality of this man, which seems to have been all that could outrage morality in the unrestrained indulgence of strong passions, is often dignified by the name of brilliant fetes; and the giants’ hall is pointed out in the palace at Dresden, as the place where they were chiefly given, and the cup is still preserved at Moritzburg, a hunting castle at a little distance from Dresden, out of which he drank large quantities of wine to the health of his beautiful countess, and to the destruction of his own. Surely to denominate the lusts of this man brilliant is a misnomer; it, is, indeed, an untruth which Edition: current; Page: [26] men are obliged to tell, in order to justify to themselves the weakness of reverencing and honouring such persons. The value of truth never appears so great as when it is applied to the deeds of men, and we shall have put on the three league boots of moral improvement, when we have learnt to give the actions of monarchs their right names. The brilliant fetes, as they are called, of Augustus of Saxony, ought to be named bacchanalian carousals, that would have disgraced a vulgar trooper, and that destroy the vigour both of body and mind.

I mixed so much with the inhabitants of Dresden as my imperfect knowledge of the language of the country, and other circumstances, allowed. The kindness and gentleness of the people pleased me. The city contains many amusements, and has many charms. At the moment I left it, on the morning of the 23d of December, it snowed, and the weather was cold, and thick; nothing was to be seen, either behind as a remembrance, or before to cheer me as a hope; the gloom added to my regret. I was scarcely out of the town before every object but the trees by the road side were hid from my view, and I felt perfectly alone. Regret was in some measure augmented by the approaching festivities, from which I was running away, when people were collecting in the town from all the neighbourhood to celebrate them. All my acquaintance exclaimed, Edition: current; Page: [27] What, going before the festival? where will you celebrate it, then? A stranger, I replied, could have no festivals; they demand a union of friends and relations, of the endearments of love and of home, and the wanderer, the sojourner of a moment, may have a thousand wild and tumultuous pleasures in the endless variety he sees; his every day may be a day of enjoyment, but while he wanders, he can have no festivals with friends. Christmas is here, as in other countries, a family festival, occasioned by a religious ceremony; relations and friends meet and are happy in each other’s company, the time is passed in merriment and gladness, and the joy is attributed to religion. Such feelings, and such, perhaps, mistaken expressions for them, are common to all people. There are other feelings, different at different periods of life, which it is curious to see spread themselves over a stranger. The elderly people ask him if his parents are yet living, the middle aged if he is married, and the young, what his beloved thinks of his absence. But the most general questions, so general, indeed, as the appetites and desires which dictate them, are always of the prices of commodities, of the cheapness or dearness of food and clothes.

Despondency seldom lasts long when any thing is to be performed, and the good wishes of my acquaintance, as I remembered them, served to lighten my regret. My reveries were soon disturbed, Edition: current; Page: [28] and my reflections driven into another channel, by the multiplied greetings I received from the peasants, men and women, chiefly women, however, who were carrying in baskets on their backs, or wheeling in barrows, the produce of their little gardens or labours, to market. With each of these I exchanged a courteous good morning, and the momentary disposition of the person saluting me might be guessed from the salutation. Some were light of heart. They had possibly received good Christmas gifts, or had good ones to give. They did not feel their loads, and their greeting was rapid and cheerfully given,—danced out as it were; others seemed to feel their load too heavy, and so much occupied by it as hardly to have time to say good morning; others had not yet shaken off the drowsiness of night, and, half asleep, grumbled out their salutation; others, and these were the greatest number, seemed to think of nothing but how softly they could say good morning, in order to convince you of that kindness which is so general a disposition of the German women. If the reader have lolled all his life in a silk-lined coach, or always lived in the parlours or saloons of polished society,—if he have never been solitary in the world—he will be unable to appreciate the pleasure derived from this passing salutation of peasant women. To me it gave animation, and seemed, when combined with the good wishes for fine weather Edition: current; Page: [29] and pleasant journey, which yet sounded in my ears, to be paramount to an influence on the seasons. Though they could not make the snow cease to fall, the heavens bright, or the wind less piercing, yet they gave an elasticity of thought which made the snow and the cold disregarded, and I mused, with great pleasure, over a variety of circumstances, as I splashed along in the dirt, without taking “heed to my steps.” As I walked farther from the town, I ceased to meet any more women. It was yet dark, and I was left to my own reflections. They were not unpleasant. I had been told in Dresden I was always finding out the advantages of whatever happened; that I was a Candid. The thought did not displease me, and, to justify my conduct, I sought now for the advantages of candidism. It makes men content with the evils which they cannot remedy, while it encourages no supine submission to them. I thought I did not walk so well as formerly, and began to reflect I was growing old, and candidism made me find the advantages of age. Hitherto thought had been pleasing to me; I had a stock of materials for constant reflection, and there was no reason to believe, that, as vigour of limb decayed, vigour of thought might not remain. Former days recurred to me; I compared them with what I then enjoyed,—with what I might still hope to enjoy, and it appeared to me that youth had not been for me Edition: current; Page: [30] the happiest period of existence. It is perhaps a mistake to suppose that it generally is. When it is past, life no longer boils and bubbles; it no longer sparkles nor ferments,—but it no longer sours, nor leaves, when the fermentation is over, a filthy scum. It is a disposition similar to candidism in all men, though perhaps disavowed, which makes them find out the advantages of things as they are, and which suggests to the bishop a load of benefits to the rest of mankind in the dominion of the church, and to the statesman in arbitrary rule.

After some time the sky became clear, and I could see the surrounding country. A ridge of sand-hills was on my right, and the Elbe on my left. Small parallel walls are built along the sides of the hills, to prevent the earth from being washed down, and to which the vines are at the same time trained. In the spaces between the walls they are tied to little stakes planted in the ground. At this season they were all cut close, and laid down under the ground, or covered with straw. Those against the houses were all carefully tied up in matting. At a distance of eight miles from Dresden, these hills extend down to the Elbe, and as there appears a continuation of them on the opposite side of the river, it looks as if the river had here forced its way between them. At this point also, the granite rocks which form the masses of these hills, whose surfaces are covered with sand, shew themselves Edition: current; Page: [31] to the very top. It is said that some of the granite hills of Germany, particularly the Harz, are in a constant state of decomposition and destruction, and, probably, most of the high peaks of the world are gradually crumbling away. At least, I amused myself with thinking so, though I shall not defend my speculations against either the Huttonians or the Wernerians. They may not contain quite so much truth as theirs, but they were probably equally useful, for they afforded me a moment’s amusement, and the amount of the utility of all geological speculations is the amusement they afford to otherwise unemployed men.

Meissen was the first town I reached, and it lay on the opposite side of the Elbe. The bridge over the river here has rather a curious appearance, from having been built or repaired at three different times, and from uniting three different manners of turning arches. Some are turned after the common manner; there are wooden arches; and there are some, which are the most ancient, turned after the Gothic manner. Some parts of the bridge are of stone; some of brick; and some of wood. Meissen is the place where the Dresden china is manufactured, but it is not permitted to see the process without a particular permission from the superior inspector, which I did not seek. There is an exhibition-room, which everybody is allowed to enter. The old castle stands on a high projecting rock, that domineers Edition: current; Page: [32] over the river and the town, and it encloses the cathedral within its walls. This is frequently the case, and it is a type of the moral union of church and state. Protection and favour are given for the obedience which the church inculcates. I dined at Meissen, and, on entering an inn, a barber offered his services. I declined them; they were accepted, however, by several persons, and he scattered his soap-suds about, shaving them in the same room where several people were dining.

The dialect of Meissen is celebrated as one of the purest of Germany, but, unfortunately, the purity does not extend to the people. On pursuing my journey, I had a peasant for a companion, who had been at Meissen, and was carrying home a finely painted red, yellow, and green distaff, and a spinning-wheel, as Christmas-presents for his wife. I hardly understood his language, it was so different from the German to which I had been accustomed, and therefore our conversation was very limited. He had some visits to pay in his way home, and we soon parted.

Soon afterwards I came to a close carriage, with the fore-wheel broke. It had been supported, and, while another wheel was putting on, which had occupied two hours, none of the persons in it had descended. A most elegant woman was standing up in it, and looking out of the window; she laughed and joked with Edition: current; Page: [33] her companions within, whom I could not see. To her I paid my compliments of condolence, which she seemed very little to need. She was rather merry than sad. Two servants, who had been riding outside, had got down, but apparently only to light their pipes with greater ease. One of them was doing nothing but smoking, and the other, while he held fast hold of his pipe with one hand, was assisting the wheelwright to put on a new wheel with the other. German patience is a virtue, for it diminishes unavoidable evils.

A man I overtook told me, in very few words, that he was a deserter from the army; that he was tired of being a soldier at twopence-farthing per day, and that he was returning to his friends, who lived in what was at present the territories of Prussia; and there he hoped to escape Saxon punishment. I hardly knew how to reconcile the fear he expressed of being taken with his confession to a stranger, unless he had found, from experience, that every person not immediately interested in stopping him helped him to escape. His appearance had not suffered by his not having ate any thing that day; it was healthy, and might have been envied him by a glutton. He had looked at the lady in the broken carriage, which he had also seen, with the eyes of a man;—he called her a charming woman, eine charmante frau.

In the course of the day I saw several waggons Edition: current; Page: [34] carrying colonial produce and English manufactured goods to Bohemia and Poland, and some loaded with hops, that had come all the way from Prague, and were going to Hamburgh. I asked why they were not sent by the Elbe? They were afraid of its freezing. This was possible, but there is something wrong in the management of this commerce, when, with the Elbe and the waters united with it, extending from beyond Prague to Hamburgh, so costly a conveyance as land-carriage is employed, for so cumbrous an article as hops.

I reached a small town called Oschatz, to sleep, and found a comfortable inn and a good bed. Some roast goose with apple-sauce, a very common dish in Germany, was given me for supper, and, after my day’s walk, which was thirty-four miles, I went early to bed. The greater number of the small towns of Germany I had hitherto seen, but more particularly those of Bohemia, had all a large square in them, of which the town-house is the most conspicuous part. Throughout that Catholic country, some saint or pillar of clouds, with a gilt cross, or a column composed of three smaller ones twisted together as a type of the Trinity, is the great ornament of the middle. Oschatz had the square and the town-house, but the gilded cross and twisted pillar were wanted. The gable-ends of many of the houses were placed towards the street, and their fronts were often built up, in very Edition: current; Page: [35] fantastic shapes, so as to conceal the roofs. The town-house was a good specimen. The upper part of the front, instead of forming an angle like the gable end of the roof, diminished in steps, on each of which was placed some little ornament, such as a weathercock, or a little image. On the upper point was also a figure, and the whole end full of windows, resembled nothing but the little German toy-houses, which have been made in imitation of such old-fashioned buildings.

I know not if it has been remarked that the pediments of Grecian architecture were intended originally, like the ornaments of German houses, to conceal the roof. The columns that supported them were used instead of a wall, and, in a warm climate, formed the only entrances and only doors of the temples. The porticoes of Grecian architecture, its pediments and columns, were useful, but modern imitation puts up pediments where there are no roofs to conceal, and uses columns where there are also doors and walls. In matters purely of taste, there is little danger in indiscriminately imitating good models, because no other effect is to be produced than to give pleasure to minds which have been probably formed by the very models which are imitated; but in building there is always a purpose to be answered, and, when we know this, there is a positive standard by which to try the merits of the execution. Every thing in architecture ought to Edition: current; Page: [36] have its use. Most of the ornaments of modern buildings are, however, perfectly useless, and, as they are nothing but imitations of what were originally useful, they may be safely pronounced to generally sin against good taste. The roofs of all the old houses in Germany are immoderately high; some of them are, indeed, higher from the top of the walls to the top of the roof, than the walls are from the ground; but these were originally so built from a necessity, for a strong covering against the snow. The less flat the roof was, so much the better for this purpose, and this occasioned it to be carried to a most unseemly height.

In the morning of the 24th coffee was brought me early, and I left Oschatz at six o’clock. The weather was clear; it was moonlight, and freezing very hard. A carriage, or a gelegenheit, as those carriages are called which take the chances of the road, had left the inn a little before me. I soon overtook it, and never again saw it. Another left a village called Leppa, six miles on the road, at the same time that I passed it, and this, without performing so long a day’s journey as I did, reached Leipsic but a very few minutes before me. These sort of carriages do not change their horses on their route, and an ordinary foot traveller may always, therefore, beat a gelegenheit. Many female peasants were going into Oschatz, as into Dresden Edition: current; Page: [37] when I left it, and with all these I exchanged the usual good-morning.

I reached the little town of Wurzen to dinner. Here, as at Meissen, there is a castle which embraces with its walls the principal church.

It was Christmas eve,—heilige Abend,—and there was a fair at Wurzen, as there is at all other German towns at this time of the year, that every body may supply themselves with those things which they wish to give their friends. The square was filled with stalls and booths, and with people who had come from all the surrounding villages to buy their Christmas presents. On one side of the butchers’ stall there was a place where fine leather gloves, and black leather breeches, the common wear of the peasantry, were sold, and on the other a booth in which caps and ribbons were displayed. Another contained iron, copper, and tin household utensils, and close to it were dolls and ornaments for children. There was all around a great display of fine pipes, and of earthenware, and the old women sat on the stones, huddled in their cloaks, selling their butter and cheese, in the neighbourhood of the dram-shop and the gingerbread-booth. It was a mixture of all wares, but the weather was too cold to admit the people to have any other enjoyment than drinking spirits.

The little river Mulde has to be crossed by a ferry on leaving Wurzen, and several people who Edition: current; Page: [38] were going over waited with great indulgence while the ferryman went into the house and lighted his pipe, and warmed himself thoroughly; in short, they had patience for nearly a quarter of an hour; and, while standing in the cold was very unplesant to me, it did not bring forth one word of complaint or of impatience from any of them. Bodily exertion is here repressed by opinion, which is not formed from any conviction that either evil or pain is caused by exertion, but from labour being united with poverty, and idleness with nobility and wealth. The common people keep one another in countenance in wasting their time. “Be not so industrious,”—“you are labouring too hard,” are salutations to the man breaking stones on the road, who leaves off his work and rests on his hammer, while he exchanges some words with every passing foot-traveller.

My walk was not absolutely solitary, for I met or overtook several people, but these latter were all going so slow, that I was afraid, if I walked with them, of arriving late at Leipsic. The snow was lying on the ground without completely hiding it; the roofs of the houses were also whitened by it. The sky was dark; the weather hazy; nothing at a distance could be distinctly seen; there was nobody labouring in the fields; a few women were carrying baskets from one village to another. There was nothing to see or to do but to while away the time by some of those dreams of airy nothing, Edition: current; Page: [39] which seem bounteously given to amuse us when we are destitute of employment, and to alleviate our sorrow when we are visited by calamity. Imagination and memory are always ready to depict the future or recall the past,—to combine, separate, magnify, or diminish, all we see, or have ever seen, or heard, or read. Poets may well praise their harps, for thinking or dreaming is a most glorious amusement.

At length I overtook a youth, very shabbily dressed, smoking out of a fine new pipe. I concluded the pipe was a Christmas present; but such people have no secrets, and, from a paucity of knowledge, they always talk of themselves. I was soon informed both of his history and the history of his pipe. He was a turner, and turners in Germany are the great manufacturers of the stems and bowls of the pipes most commonly in use, and he had laboured assiduously, in his spare hours, to make a new one for himself. He was then going to Leipsic, to carry a lamp he had made for one of the children of a sister who was there married, in return for the festival boots and stockings his sister had given him. The world is full of calamity, or, at least, men are full of complaints; and this youth lamented his sufferings very bitterly. His father was reduced, by his property having been twice burnt, from employing six workmen, and sending his wife regularly to Leipsic fair to sell pipes, to Edition: current; Page: [40] depend entirely on chance sale, and on his own and his son’s labours. The great evil, however, of which he complained, was the want of enjoyment, as he designated his inability any longer to participate in all the amusements and dissipations of richer companions. Unfortunately, all men give these alone the name of enjoyments, and many of our better pleasures are stigmatized as labour. He could go very seldom to the music-club, and was sometimes obliged to work on feast-days. For what trifling gratifications is wealth desired by all classes of people!

From knowing the great partiality of the Germans to music, and how extensively it is cultivated by them, I was not surprised to hear this ragged lad talk of music-clubs in villages, nor to hear him regret that he was no longer able to frequent them. Music is to the Germans what moral and political reasoning is to us;—the great thing to which all the talents of the people are directed; and it is as natural that Handel, and Haydn, and Mozart, and Beethoven, the greatest of modern composers, should have been Germans, as that Hume, and Smith, and Paley, and Bentham, and Malthus, the greatest reasoners and political writers of the age, should have been Britons.

On my way I was frequently followed by children who were passing from village to village, though they were too shy to speak, and stopped, almost frightened, Edition: current; Page: [41] whenever I spoke to them; yet they were so fond of something like society, that they constantly ran to keep close to me. Two or three gentlemen’s houses lay near the road, but, in general, the country, where cultivated, was not adorned. The season was unfavourable for seeing it, and it was not, therefore, right to judge of it. We reached Leipsic at five o’clock, and I had probably walked thirty-six miles. The great market-place at Leipsic, like that of Wurzen, was full of booths, where all things proper for Christmas-gifts were to be bought.

Edition: current; Page: [42]

CHAPTER II.: leipsic—berlin

Displeasing politeness.—Grotesque market-place.—Churches.—A picture.—Ceremony of communion.—Funeral of a student.—A beggar.—Leipsic fairs.—A peculiar privilege.—A difference of manners.—A dirty custom.—Leave Leipsic.—A rencontre.—Cause for German indolence.—Want of roads.—Wittenberg, the seat of the Reformation.—A companion.—Trauenbritzen.—Belitz.—Weakness of German children.—Royal roads.—Potsdam.—Statues in gardens.—Arrive at Berlin.

It is customary in Germany for the innkeepers to keep a book in which the names and conditions of their guests, where they come from, and where they are going to, must be written. Exclusive of passports being inspected at the police, this book, or extracts from it, must be regularly sent there; and the landlords are therefore particular in requesting every stranger to fill up its columns with all the proper information. At Leipsic, the waiter, on coming to me for this purpose, was extremely slow to believe that I was an Englishman. He would rather believe me to be a Pole, an Hungarian, or a Swede. For this I was Edition: current; Page: [43] not sorry, for I know of no appearance which subjects a man to more unreasonable demands than that of an Englishman. At length he was persuaded, and he thought he was doing me a service while he mortified me by placing me, at the table d’hote, at dinner time, by the side of an English gentleman, who had come, some little time before, from Liverpool, with the intention of learning the German language at Leipsic, and who had yet learnt nothing, either of the language or of the people, but how to ask for segars, and how to smoke them, both of which things he did tolerably well.

From reading the work of Mad. de Stael on Germany, I expected to see there strange old towns, but nothing had hitherto realised the expectation. The market-place at Leipsic did it fully. Goethe described the houses of this city well when he called them “extraordinary shining buildings, with a front to two streets, inclosing courts, and containing every class of citizens, within heaven-high buildings, that resemble large castles, and are equal to half a city.” Roofs, which alone contained six stories of windows, with small steeples on their tops; circular houses, diminishing at every story, resembling the pictures of the tower of Babel; two or three towers, placed by the sides of houses, as if a staircase separate from the building had been provided for it; some fronts which Edition: current; Page: [44] had been modernized, and disfigured by a multitude of pillars and pilasters above pillars and pilasters; and the ancient gaol-like, but fantastical town-house,—made the market-place of Leipsic one of the most grotesque-looking spots I ever saw.

As it was Christmas-day, every place, even the bankers, was shut; the churches were crowded; and nothing was to be sold but spirits and medicines. At church, the music and singing seemed the most attractive part of the performance, and so soon as these were done, many of the congregation went away. The men generally stood, and the women sat. Amongst the uncovered heads of the former some emblems of German genius might be traced. The hair of the old men was smoothed down on the fronts and sides, as if it were ironed, while that of the young ones, combed up with their fingers à la François, was standing out in a circle, like a well-trundled mop. The former resembled the old plodding German; the latter was the type of the present German, flying off from most of the restraints of reason and of common sense.

Pictures are still allowed in the Lutheran churches, though no longer worshipped or prayed to, and one that I observed here, in St Paul’s church, deserves to be mentioned, as having one feature of common sense more than is usually seen in religious pictures. Many of their absurdities are Edition: current; Page: [45] truly ludicrous, and among them may be enumerated that the mother of the Saviour is always painted young. When she looks on her son on the cross, and when Jesus tells her, “Woman, behold thy son,” she is even then often represented as a blooming young woman. In this picture, and it was the only time I ever noticed the circumstance, she was represented as an elderly matron. The painter had not worked a second miracle, and bestowed with his pencil perpetual youth.

The manner in which the sacrament was administered was different from the manner of administering it in the church of England. A clergyman stood at each side of the altar; the persons intending to communicate were placed in a row on one side, and when the previous prayers had been recited, they walked, one after another, first to one clergyman, who had the consecrated wafers, and who repeated some words while he gave a wafer to the communicant. He received it standing, but bowing, and then passing behind the altar, came in front of the other clergyman, from whom he received the cup, and he then retired. The organ played and the choristers sang during the whole of the ceremony.

The university of Leipsic is at present chiefly famous for it medical studies, but the most celebrated man then there I understood to be a Professor Edition: current; Page: [46] Platner, who, though now old, had been formerly much distinguished as a moral philosopher, and as a very decided opponent of Kant. To a person without party feelings, it is difficult to decide which possesses least sense, the aphorisms of Platner or the categories of his opponent. This university was formerly much more famous than at present, and, under the guidance of the celebrated German poet Gellert, who was professor of belles lettres, it almost rivalled Göttingen. Its fame is much diminished. Gellert is buried here, and there is a monument erected in the church of St John to his memory.

I wished to have learned something more of the university, but it was holiday time, and there were no lectures then giving. As there was nothing particular to be seen in the town, had it not been that I had some business with a banker, I should have immediately pursued my journey, but I was obliged to wait till the morning of the 27th, and in the meantime to amuse myself as I could. In Dresden I had more money than I liked to carry with me, and I there wanted the banker to give me a bill on Hannover for the amount, but there was no communication between the two towns, and I was obliged to take a bill on Leipsic, and exchange that Edition: current; Page: [47] for one on Hannover. It was to procure this I was obliged to wait.

After dining, walking about the town, and looking at the lottery-house, as a decent little building near the market-place is called; at the old castle; at the statue of the present king of Saxony, standing on the former glacis; and after admiring the beautiful walk which has been made on the former walls of the town, I sought out one of the best coffee-houses, and found a large quantity of men assembled playing at billiards, drafts, and a game called locatelli, resembling, in some of its parts, our backgammon; but, to my surprise, there were no women present. In all such places I had seen before, some were in general present.

Chance afterwards made me a spectator of the funeral of a student, which was followed by nearly all the equipages of Leipsic. It was something extraordinary even for the inhabitants, and the severe cold did not prevent the people from looking out of their windows, while they leaned on the little cushions, which are placed on most German window-frames, for the more comfortable gratification of curiosity. Owners of carriages allow their servants to let them on such occasions as this, and the students, wishing to do honour to their departed comrade, had hired a vast number. The body, covered with a pall, was carried on men’s shoulders; a company of soldiers,—the deceased Edition: current; Page: [48] had also been in the army,—and a band of music playing slow and solemn tunes, preceded the corpse. The carriages and a great crowd of people followed it. I did also, but was not fortunate to get sufficiently near the grave to hear all the eulogium that was pronounced. It was delivered by one of the students with great solemnity, and reminded me of the eulogiums which are spoken in France over the graves of distinguished men. All that I learned was, that the dead man had served his country both with his pen and his sword, and that he would long be remembered by his brother students as an example of industry in his studies, and of urbanity and politeness in his conduct. His whole history was also given, but this was done in so low a tone of voice, that I could hear very little of it. He was of the middling ranks, not rich, and the present respect was paid only to his merit. Hymns were sung over the grave, music played; there was more than one speaker, and the student was, in all things, honoured as if he had been some respected chief. This is a specimen of the brotherhood and enthusiasm which prevails amongst the students of Germany;—no son of study in any other country could possibly expect such a convoy to his grave as accompanied this young man.

Most of the tomb-stones had crowns of laurel or flowers hung on them, and garlands decorated them, as is usual in German burial-grounds. Edition: current; Page: [49] Small shrubs and flowers were planted on the graves; some were carefully watered and cherished, and others were decaying or decayed, like the affections which planted them. A widower may attend his daughters to the grave of their mother, and a husband his wife to the tomb of their child, but it is chiefly women who thus honour the dead, and who always, at least, display most gracefully all our better affections.

In the evening, although it was Christmas-day, I went to the theatre, to hear some declamation, and to see one of those representations of pictures or statues, which are now become common in Germany. A sufficient number of performers, dressed in proper costume, place themselves at the end of the stage, in the attitudes in which the figures of any picture are placed. The stage is lighted in such a manner, on this occasion, as to throw on the performers that quantity of light and shade which the picture requires, or indeed possesses. Curtains or scenes proper for the perspective of the picture are used, so that a very accurate copy is represented in a short time. This mode is even adopted to realize the ideas of a painter. He imagines any subject, and he brings it at once to the test of proof by letting it be represented as a picture by living beings. The pictures pleased me; the declamation was not good. In Germany persons recite or declaim favourite pieces of poetry very frequently in public. On this occasion, the Edition: current; Page: [50] applause was immoderate, and I pitied a very good actress, and a very fine woman, a Miss Böhler, who was called forth to be thanked, because she was likely to mistake the vociferations of the students, who formed a large part of the spectators, for the impartial judgment of a discerning public.

It is not very amusing to walk about the almost deserted streets of a town, and, as the Germans consecrate three days to Christmas holidays, the 26th was also a festival, which kept me at the inn. As I was writing, a man entered my room, and begged something for the poor of Leipsic. The names of the donors, and the donations, were all inscribed in a book he brought with him, and he seemed to think it ought to induce me to give, that my name would then be written in the same book with the names of kings and princes. Gifts from their Majesties of Prussia and Denmark were recorded, and the name of the last person who had given any thing was that of a Polish prince. I was deaf to the charm. The man was displeased, and he put away his book with something like an expression of contempt for a person who refused to buy, on such cheap terms, the honour of letting his name be recorded in company with the names of monarchs. This manner of begging is practised in most of the large towns.

There are four fairs, small and large, held at Leipsic in the year, and, as I could not see one, Edition: current; Page: [51] nor get any valuable information as to the quantity of goods annually sold, I reasoned on them. Nothing but custom, and some original privileges, can have made Leipsic the seat of the commerce of the north of Germany, and of the fairs, particularly book fairs, for which it is famous. It has no advantages of situation like Magdeburgh, Dresden, or Berlin. The two former towns lying on the Elbe, and, therefore, having a water communication from Bohemia to the North Sea, and the latter connected with the North Sea, the Baltic, and Bohemia, by means of canals that join the Oder and the Elbe, have some local advantages much superior to those of Leipsic. Neither does it possess any superiority in literature. Where roads are bad, and communication difficult, and where land-carriage is impeded and uncertain, it is necessary men should be sure of finding a market for their goods before they send them away, and equally necessary that they who want to buy, should be sure to find what they want at some particular spot. Fairs were convenient for both parties, and certain privileges, such as “that all merchandize passing within sixty miles of Leipsic, was obliged to be carried through that town, that the merchants there might have the first offer of it;” and a central situation, when Edition: current; Page: [52] water carriage was little used, made Leipsic be selected. Warehouses once built, and capital collected there, it continued to be the resort of merchants when the conveniences of its situation were surpassed by those of other places. In Britain, where a facility of communication allows an immediate and rapid circulation of commodities, fairs, except those of mere amusement, are no longer numerous, and, wherever they are numerous, as in Germany, they are proofs of a backward state of commerce. As the means of communication are facilitated, fairs must diminish, and this is probably the cause why Leipsic is not now so prosperous as formerly, and why several people with large capitals are withdrawing themselves to other places.

In the evening I was disappointed at seeing, in the theatre, a sort of melo-dramatic version of the Tancred of Voltaire, in which there was nothing good but some splendid scenery; it gained the author, however, who was called for, very great applause. The spectators were prodigal of their thanks. Two performers were also called forth, probably from a wish to hear the neat ready-made speeches with which the honour conferred is most humbly acknowledged.

There is a great difference in the manners of the inhabitants of Leipsic and Dresden. Here no women are admitted into the pit; there this Edition: current; Page: [53] part of the theatre was chiefly occupied by them; there it was impossible to speak to any person who was not perfectly acquainted with most of the theatrical pieces and performers; here I addressed myself to two or three persons, without getting the little articles of information I wanted. There the occasional presence of the royal family prevented any thing like noise; here the pit had some resemblance to the same place in an English theatre; stamping with the feet, and striking with sticks, with other marks of impatience, were frequent. The mercantile pursuits of the inhabitants of one town, and the almost want of any other pursuit but amusement in the inhabitants of the other, gives a marked difference to their characters which the most casual observer may see. Those are more bustling, more busy, more energetic,; these more polite, more soft, and better informed in all the elegant parts of the literature of their country.

I observed also a marked difference in the conversation of the people at the table d’hote. They were mostly mercantile travellers, or merchants of the town, and we sat down, a large party, of at least sixty people. The conversation related chiefly to their amusements, and their engagements for other amusements, but mixed with this were matters of commerce, and some remarks on politics. In Dresden the conversation was more literary. With one or two young men I had some Edition: current; Page: [54] conversation about the German language; and when they knew I was going to Hannover, they said, in their Frankfort dialect, they should like to go also, for there people spoke the German language better than in any other part of Germany. The inn was a splendid one, and among the company I remarked some who sat in boxes at the theatre, and used an opera-glass, and drove their own carriage, yet they practised the dirty custom of picking their teeth with the table forks; one of them even used one to scratch his head. The former is a general custom, but it is done with some sort of shame, for the people who do it turn their heads on one side, and conceal their mouths with their other hand.

I left Leipsic on the following morning, December 27, at half past six o’clock. It had now frozen very hard for three days, and it then blew very cold from the north-west. The sky was all covered with a dense hazy sort of clouds, except on the western side, where a streak of silvery light lay on the horizon; it gradually became, as the day advanced, of a fiery red colour, and when the sun rose, it was lost in the general brightness. I had been told the road was good, but I soon found that I was indebted to nothing but the frost for clean walking. It was a mere track, and froze so hard in ridges and lumps, that it was like uneven stones. Close to the town, all the tracks that led to the Edition: current; Page: [55] neighbouring villages were equally well trodden with the principal track, and I very soon took a wrong one. I was obliged to call some people up, at a cottage, to shew me my way, which they did very civilly. As I got farther from the town, the bye-roads were no longer so good as the principal road, and all difficulty vanished. An easier way of travelling than walking soon suggested itself. At the side of the road ditches had been cut, which were then filled with ice, and on this I slid along gaily some miles.

I had nearly reached Duben, about twenty-two miles from Leipsic, and had seen no person on the road, when I met a man and woman, who both seemed so fond of talking, that one would never let the other speak without interruption. After the usual salutation of good-day, they immediately told me they were clothmakers, and were going to Leipsic fair. This sort of communicativeness is an apology for curiosity. It gives a right to demand, in return, some information of the person to whom it is addressed. My loquacious acquaintance were not slow in using this right, and I was obliged to tell them exactly who and what I was, where I came from, and where I was going to. They then both complained of the badness of the times; the woman exclaimed; the man reasoned; one said the raw material was dear, the other that cloth was cheap; and both agreed it was impossible to live. Edition: current; Page: [56] The man asked, was trade bad in England? Yes. He then took hold of the button of my great-coat, with all the familiarity of an old acquaintance, observing, at the same time, it was a very handsome Saxon brown, and whispered in my ear, as if he were afraid his wife might hear him, that all the evil was owing to machinery. I was of a different opinion, and, unwilling to lose an opportunity of opposing a prejudice,—for who does not think his own opinions true, and the opinions of other persons prejudices?—I began, in bad German, a description of a machine, and the effects of machinery; but though they were ready to talk, they were not ready to listen; and, allowing me to say but very few words, they asked me, had I found the road from Leipsic good? The woman said she was tired, and was fearful she should not be able to reach it. I pitied her, and we wished each other a safe journey, and parted.

The bitterest enemies, if they were to meet each other in a desert, and had not seen any other human being for some hours or days, would probably be enemies no more. There is a weaker feeling of this kind which makes strangers address each other on an unfrequented road. They ask some question which they could very well answer themselves, in order to begin a conversation, and they talk of any trifles rather than pass by a person without being friendly with him. I have often done this myself, Edition: current; Page: [57] particularly when bad weather, or a more unfrequented road than usual has made me see in every person a sort of companion. My clothmaking gossips had scarcely left me, when a tired man, who seemed to need rest, yet was afraid to take it, detained me a few moments to ask me half a dozen questions, and to tell me he was a Pole by birth, a barber or servant by profession, and that he was going to Leipsic to seek a situation. I told him how far he had yet to walk, encouraged him by telling him the roads were good, but counselled him not to walk to Leipsic that day. Foot travellers get many good wishes for safe journeys, which the people who ride in coaches never hear; and these wishes seem efficacious, for they give pleasure, and possibly make the journey good, by causing resignation to unavoidable evils.

I eat and rested at Duben, and had left it but little more than half an hour, when it began to snow. The road lay through a forest, and as it was little more than a track, I repented leaving Duben. As I marched slowly and carefully forward, deliberating if I should not turn back, I was overtaken by a woman, whose example, while she served me in some measure as a guide, shamed me out of my fears. We walked together, and I heard her history also, what family she had, what her employments were, and what she gained. She also lamented the hardness of the times, and particularly, Edition: current; Page: [58] that she had received no Christmas gifts from her husband. She soon left me to continue my journey alone.

Till I reached Duben, I had found the country open, and generally under the plough. It was now nothing but forests; and I resolved, in order not to lose my road, to take up my quarters at the first public-house I met with. The landlord, however, who, I understood from a man I met there, merely lived with the woman, who was the owner of the house, and had not put himself to the expence of buying the sanction of the priest, received me very uncivilly; and as I, at the same time, and by the same means, learnt there was another public-house which was much better, and not very far off, I set out to seek it, and got there safe before it was dark. My informant arrived shortly afterwards; he had met with a return carriage going to Berlin, and he had taken a seat in it, and wished to persuade me to accompany him. But I was clothed for walking, not for sitting still in a carriage on a snowy night. The roads were rugged and difficult to find, and I resolved to stay where I was.

In the course of the day I met a great many carriages and waggons going to Leipsic, and all the travellers, wrapped up in two or three great-coats, with their faces buried in caps and handkerchiefs, remained sitting in a sort of stupid indifference, Edition: current; Page: [59] just preserving animation enough to keep their tobacco burning, and their pipes from falling out of their mouths. Not one of them attempted to walk, though they might all have walked faster than their carriages, and might have kept themselves comfortably warm; but bodily exertion of all kinds is most certainly avoided by the richer classes of the Germans. This indolence may be partly accounted for thus: Their sleeping-rooms are generally heated, and the feather-beds, which are used as covers, always kept me—though, whenever it was practicable, I stripped myself to my shirt—in a constant state of profuse perspiration. The Germans, in addition to covering themselves with these beds, very generally sleep in night-dresses of flannel. In fact, they take nothing off but their upper garments, which are not unfrequently exchanged for some sort of jacket or gown. The beds and the rooms together make a sort of sweating bath, more enfeebling, probably, than a frequent use of warm bathing. The effects on myself were always refreshing, but weakening; they did away stiffness and fatigue, but sleep did not give me strength; and it is probable that the effects are the same on the Germans, and even much more powerful. The body is kept in a state of languid health, but all that freshness and vigour of limb which belongs to youth and a hardy people are destroyed. The Germans have no need of exertion, which we find so necessary, Edition: current; Page: [60] to promote perspiration, and therefore they have no wish for it, and do not take it. The character of men is the result of all they feel; and this state of the bodies of the Germans is undoubtedly a cause for some part of their character—for the placidness, stillness, and want of energy, which distinguish them from the other nations of Europe. It does not hinder them from thinking, writing, and compiling, day after day, week after week; in fact, it permits them to do all these more than any other people can, for they can do them constantly, and with little fear of injury to their health; but it deprives them of the need and of the wish for active exertion.

There were several other travellers collected in this inn besides myself, who were generally merchants or traders going to Leipsic. Some of them were Prussians, and resident at Berlin, who did not therefore listen with any patience to our landlord’s many complaints. Men complain much too often without reason, and those sufferings which an accurate observer may trace to have been caused by themselves, they attribute to the last remarkable event,—the appearance of a comet, the momentary passage of an army, or a change in the government. This country had been Saxon, and was part of that which the sovereign of Prussia took to himself; and our landlord, therefore, attributed all his sufferings to the change in his sovereign. Certainly Edition: current; Page: [61] his taxes being doubled was a just cause of complaint. He had served his country, he said, meaning Saxony, as a soldier, and his reward now was, that when his son was sixteen years of age, he would be taken for the Prussian armies. He could neither breed nor buy a good horse with security, for if the government wanted horses, it would take his. In short, he paid double the price for protection which he had formerly paid, and was now oppressed rather than protected. His complaints did not please our Berlin companions, and they soon turned the conversation on the marches and victories and glories of the Prussian armies. I then ceased to attend to it, or participate in it, and began nursing a child for my amusement. Its smiles and prattlings were more pleasing to me than all the thrice told, and trebly augmented, feats of Blucher.

German beds are generally small, without curtains, and several of them may therefore be conveniently placed in the same room; and not unfrequently there is, in small inns, but one apartment, as in this house, for several guests. On more than one occasion I have seen decent female travellers sleep in the same room with gentlemen, and from they never remarking that the practice was curious or offensive, it may be inferred that it is general. When I came into the house, the maid was dirty, and her clothes much neglected; I observed Edition: current; Page: [62] she was afterwards smartly dressed, and clean washed; her cheeks were glowing, and her eyes sparkling with animation and ardour. It was then ten o’clock,—I asked the reason of the change,—and was informed she was then going to a dance. I saw her again at four o’clock in the morning; she told me she had walked half a league, had danced till two o’clock, had then walked home, and had not been in bed. I regretted then and since I could not waltz, and that I did not know of the dance a little earlier, or I should certainly have asked permission to accompany her, to see if the joys of the German peasantry were not like those of other people.

In the course of the evening I saw a letter addressed to the landlord, inviting him to attend the baptism of a child, which I understood was born out of marriage. It excited my curiosity, and it was given me. The direction was, “To the well-esteemed and well-reputed Mr——my highly prized cousin, at Köplitz.” The letter began, “Well-esteemed and highly reputed Sir,—As it has pleased God to give us joy by sending us a son,” &c. It invited him to be godfather, and to participate in the feast which was to be given after the religious ceremony was over. And it ended by the lady subscribing herself, for it was sent by the mother only. “The very humble servant of her most honourable cousin.” Such a ceremonious mode of addressing people must be common, Edition: current; Page: [63] because the letter was partly printed. They are kept ready, and are filled up when wanted.

Much may be inferred from this little circumstance. Isolated instances of morals may deceive the traveller, but the opinions which are avowed with regard to them never can. When a married man with a family is invited to be the godfather of a child without any acknowledged father, when he accepts such an invitation, and speaks of having done so as a matter of common courtesy, and no extraordinary thing, it may with certainty be inferred, that to have an illegitimate child is no matter of reproach. With such opinions, it is not at all surprising that men and women should live together without the sanction of the priest. An instance was mentioned a few pages back. When such is the conduct of the middling and lower classes of society, it is a certain sign that it has long formed a part of the manners of the whole. In this part of the country, there were no great towns to corrupt the morals of the people, and such as they are, so they must have been, from the natural inertia of the peasants, for ages. Their manners only change with centuries.

The morning of the 28th was moonlight and clear, and I left the inn at five o’clock. The road was a mere track, through forests and in sand; and it was not very long before I became doubtful if I were going right, and applied at some Edition: current; Page: [64] cottages, where the people were just up, for directions. The woman gave me them very correctly and minutely, and, so far as they extended, I found my way very well. Women generally do this office of kindness better than men. The latter tell you to go straight forward, but the former always describe the road, the turnings you must take, and the marks you must attend to. This may be occasioned by their possessing a greater sensibility to little wants; by their more correct observation; or, by that less amiable propensity attributed to the sex, of loving to hear themselves talk. It is more likely, however, that their own difficulties have taught them the wants of others. They are accustomed to go from village to village, and from town to town, carrying loads, and till they have become thoroughly acquainted with the whole of the country, they must often have occasion to ask their way, and hence they learn accurately to inform other persons. Before reaching a little town called Kemberg, five miles from where I slept, I had again lost my way. It had snowed a little during the night, but not enough to hide the road, had one ever been properly made. An old man, who was sitting by his stove, mending his breeches, sent his son to put me in the right track. It was rather solitary to be thus wandering alone through forests and something like deserts; but the clouds, as they were blown swiftly past the moon, appeared almost Edition: current; Page: [65] company, and I was pleased it was the commencement rather than the close of day. At Kemberg I found a paved road, which lasted to Wittenberg, where I arrived at eight o’clock.

This town now belongs to Prussia: it formerly belonged to Saxony, and its fortifications have been repaired and strengthened as a frontier town to the former country. Its situation on the Elbe gives it advantages in this point of view, and ought to give it great trading advantages, but these are not known, or not profited by. Situated in a country that wants only industry to make it fertile, with both iron and coal in its neighbourhood, and with the high road from Berlin to Leipsic passing through it; it contains only 5000 inhabitants, and has no commerce whatever. It is fast sinking into ruin, and nothing about it looked neat or in repair, but the nicely formed mathematical angles of the new fortifications by which the ruins are protected.

This town was the first seat, and the very high place of the Reformation. At its once famous university Luther began his celebrated career. Here he was professor, and from the pulpits and desks of Wittenberg he thundered his masculine and powerful eloquence against the corruptions of Rome. The university is now forsaken and suppressed. The tombs of Luther, of Melancthon, and of their friend Frederick the Wise, are still in the castle-church, Edition: current; Page: [66] but this venerable cradle of one of the best children of improving knowledge is passing fast into oblivion. All that was sacred, so well as all that was grand, has decayed, and man should cease to venerate what time and nature have not spared; while his life is fresh, and his reason strong,—while his sense of enjoyment is unfaded, he should be happy in these gifts; he should regard them as holy, and they should be the themes of his admiration. It may, perhaps, be absurd to venerate buildings that, however they might once have been sacred as the abodes of piety, learning, and genius, are now mouldering to decay. Yet it would have done honour to the Germans, while they are so enthusiastic in reviving every memorial of their ancient glory, if they had resented, as a slight to their national reputation, the recent destruction of the university where Luther and Melancthon had been teachers. I arrived too early at Wittenberg to see their tombs without waiting longer than was pleasant to me, and therefore I did not remain. My walk was nearly solitary the whole day, but not cheerless. At a village I found boys sliding; I slid with them. The village dogs barked at me as they all do at strangers, and as if I were animated by the proverb, that with wolves a man must howl, I made a noise at them in return, and amused myself pelting them with stones, and chasing them. It is thus possibly that a solitary traveller may best amuse Edition: current; Page: [67] himself, and may save himself from being unemployed, and almost from being alone.

In travelling, one does not always know where best to stop, nor do tired legs and worn-out spirits always come at the same point of time with the most comfortable inn. In this desolate country it was some time after I was tired and hungry before I reached either a public-house or a village. At length I got to a place called Kropstadt, but found no other refreshment there but bread and cheese, and sour beer. This bad fare, and a ragged landlady, from whose torn finery I concluded she had made several campaigns, and a stifling dirty room, were not temptations to make me linger over my repast, and I had soon finished, ready to accompany a soldier and his wife, who I found journeying on foot the way I was going. He was a Prussian, who had just received his dismission from his regiment, which was at Mayence. He had there married his wife, and was now conducting her into East Prussia, where he had himself been born. For him to marry, it was necessary for him to have the permission both of his parents and of the government. It began to blow strong, and to snow, and though we walked within a few yards of each other, till we reached Trauenbritzen, we were too much engaged with umbrellas to allow of much conversation. I inquired here after the best inn, and the soldier, who said he knew the place well, Edition: current; Page: [68] pointed one out to me, which I soon found could have little claim to the title, and which seemed to be recommended to him by the fine sign of Marshal Blucher. The extent of my day’s walk was probably somewhat more than thirty miles. The greater part of the country was of a sandy soil, and covered with forests of pines. There were few villages, and not much cultivation. This, with bad weather, it snowing occasionally, and the snow covering the ground, gave me an idea that the country was more desolate than possibly it is. The road, however, till within a short distance of Trauenbritzen, where a new one was made, that is to be extended to Leipsic, was in general nothing but a track through openings in the forest, and where carriages and travellers not unfrequently lose their way. Such is the state of communication in some of the most enlightened parts of Germany. Bad as this is, it has been improved very much within thirty years.

The public-house, for it did not deserve the name of an inn, was full of people, who were collected to pass their Sunday evening in revelry and drinking. They were all traders or peasants, and smoked and talked loud, and constantly. One had brought his book to read, which he continued to do, except when he thought his superior wisdom enabled him to give information to the rest of the company; one of them said pithy Edition: current; Page: [69] things in a poetical tone of voice and manner. He had been a great speculator, though, as his neighbour informed me, all his schemes had failed. Yet he still believed he had schemes that could improve the world. When any other of the company complained, he told him, in an oracular manner, “Have patience, brother, and you will find in a little time all will go well. “Another appeared anxious to shew how stupid he was. He had been at school for three years, and had also had a private instructor, but he had not learnt to write, and could barely read. He attributed his ignorance to his teachers, and seemed to think teachers ought to be punished if scholars wanted brains and industry. Government, he said,—for from an unhappy frame of mind, the most ignorant of all beings think themselves fit for legislators, particularly to make restrictive laws,—ought to make some regulations for instructors. He appeared to think they ought to be compelled to make stupid people like him men of genius and talent. Thus it is, also, in many other cases, ignorance and imbecility attribute their wants and their failings to a want of laws, and imagine that political regulations can give knowledge, and wisdom, and wealth. They constantly demand this or that restrictive law, till the whole race of mankind are chained down to what ignorance, and imbecility, and avarice, have prescribed. The comfort of my inn did not compensate Edition: current; Page: [70] the privations of the day, and I went early to bed, tired from my walk, and unrefreshed from what I had enjoyed.

It snowed very much in the night, and in the morning a violent snow storm came on soon after I had set out on my journey. The snow froze as it fell, or drifted up in great heaps, and the icicles hung about my whiskers; fortunately the wind was behind me, which enabled me to protect my face and ears with my umbrella. Nothing was to be seen but the tops of the trees by the road side, and but for them, I might have wandered in some ditch or wild. After walking three hours, one of those trifling accidents happened, which, when not repaired in time, sometimes lead to serious misfortunes; the seam of my shoe burst, but as I remembered the old story of the nail and the shoe, and the horse and the rider, I prudently remained at Belitz till it was repaired. The people of the house pleased me; the man brought me slippers, an accommodation not always to be had, even when asked for. The eldest daughter was a very handsome brunette, but, though not above twenty years of age, had lost her teeth. The other children had black eyes and hair, which was rather extraordinary for the country, and they appeared very intelligent and gentle. German children are generally soft and gentle, even to weakness. They seldom appear robust, Edition: current; Page: [71] which may be owing to the general enfeebled nature of the parents, and to late marriages. If the evil influence of the latter cause were not more to be attributed to the system of libertinism pursued prior to marriage, than to the mere lateness, it would form one of the strongest objections I know to that moral restraint which is recommended by Mr Malthus. For a debilitated, an effeminate, and an imbecile race of men would be but a poor remedy for the evils of poverty, and a redundant population.

Towards noon the weather became better, but the wind had shifted, and blew in my face. I made a screen of my umbrella, and, thus protected, marched on. Whether it is that the Prussians are less friendly than the Saxons, or whether the cold was too great to allow them to speak, cannot be decided, but several people would hardly return my salutation. At length I overtook a man with a long white bag, which was filled at both ends, and thrown over his shoulder. A broad face, red cheeks, wide mouth, a short snub nose, and a sort of scattered white whiskers, gave him the air of good-natured simplicity. A large hat covered his brow,—a long blue coat reached almost to the ground,—trowsers and boots—made up his dress. He wore both a cross and a medal, having made several campaigns, and, like many of the peasants, had won all the honours of a soldier. We talked Edition: current; Page: [72] about the size of his father’s farm, how he held his property, and such things, and we arrived at Potsdam together. There were many fine buildings here, but none which pleased me so well at the moment as a comfortable inn, where beef-steaks for supper and a good bed were provided me.

This day’s walk did not exceed twenty-six miles, and the country appeared mostly uncultivated, with a very large proportion of forests. There were very few villages, and these were small, the houses were built of mud, and generally thatched.

The road was good throughout, the royal chaussee being here completed; and it is certainly a very fine one. It is paved in the middle, though the pavement is broad enough only for one carriage, while the road would allow of four passing a-breast. It is planted with trees on each side. It is not only useful, but magnificent;—perhaps too magnificent. The roads which branch off from it, though they lead only to a small collection of mud huts, are equally spacious with the main road, like that royal taste which builds a magnificent portico to a stable. Royal roads are less constructed with regard to their general utility than to their magnificence, and their utility to the monarch; and the roads of Great Britain, taken as a whole, are not only more numerous, but each road, merely because it is planned by individuals who are to reap a profit from it, is better calculated Edition: current; Page: [73] for public utility than any one of the magnificent royal roads of other countries.

Out of Britain most people conceive it to be one of the duties of government,—one which individuals cannot exercise,—to make roads. Remembering this, led me to speculate, as the snow fell, as to the real extent to which governments—considered, as some individuals different from, and separate from the mass of society, regulating the whole—are necessary for its good. I remembered, that what was considered formerly as one of their most important duties, the creation of a proper currency, had recently been performed in a much more commodious manner by individuals, as bankers, and that paper circulation had only become inconvenient through governments interfering with it; that, probably, all the now hateful duties of a police might be better performed by the individuals of the society taking on themselves, as every man now partially does, the duty of learning what his neighbour’s conduct is, and speaking of it freely and openly, and treating him according to his behaviour. It is very evident that every thing regulated by the opinion of the whole society, not directed by the previously formed opinions of some few men, must be always regulated, in the best possible manner, agreeable to the wisdom and knowledge of the whole society. What is directed by a few men, can only be regulated by Edition: current; Page: [74] the wisdom and knowledge they possess, and it must be better every society should be regulated by all its wisdom and knowledge, rather than by a part of these estimable qualities. I can hardly tell with what narrow bounds this speculation led me to circumscribe the duties of governments, nor how much the reverence which I, in common with every man, had been taught to pay them, dwindled in my imagination. I will not answer for the utility of such a speculation further than that it was a great pleasure to me on a cold snowy morning, when I was travelling alone in a strange country.

Potsdam is a well built town. Most of the streets are at right angles, and, though the houses are not regularly built with regard to one another, most of them were nicely painted, clean, splendid with gilt and decorations, and all looked well. There was a sort of meretricious splendour about sign-boards and gilded letters to tell you where coffee and tea were to be bought, or brandy and beer to be sold, that reminded me of England, and that differed from the modest inscriptions of the Saxons. It is very expensive to see all the shows of Potsdam, such as the picture gallery, the insides of the palaces, the tomb of the great Frederick, and others. They are, therefore, generally visited in parties, and as there happened, at that time of year, to be no persons visiting them, I was debarred Edition: current; Page: [75] from seeing them, without expending more Thalers than I thought them worth pence. I merely looked, therefore, at the gardens, and the outsides of the palaces. Truly, the lodgings which are here provided for one family, might almost serve a nation. There are not less than eight spacious palaces in Potsdam, or in its vicinity, belonging to the sovereign. I doubt if the profusion of the sovereigns of France, whatever their splendour might do, equalled the profusion of the sovereigns of Prussia.

The extensive gardens of these palaces are ornamented with a great number of statues and busts, all of which were then shapeless from the snow. Many of them were mutilated, and most of them were covered with moss. The climate of Greece and Rome, from which countries we have borrowed the practice of placing statues in gardens, was much more suitable to it than the cold and wet climate of the north. And when the Greeks and the Romans did not live entirely out of doors, they lived much more in public places, in their gardens, and amongst their statues, than we do, or can. We live in our houses, and it is them, therefore, which we ought to render convenient and to adorn. Statues in our garden accord neither with our climates, with our habits of life, nor with the best mode of making our gardens. The great expence of so many carved pieces of marble, is a mere absurd imitation Edition: current; Page: [76] of an ancient custom; it is unsanctioned by reason, and it is equally condemned by good taste and sage economy.

The most meritorious thing at Potsdam—always excepting the immense house which is there, so large as the celebrated rope-making house at Portsmouth, intended to protect men during rainy weather, while they are taught to stand upright, to thrust their breasts out and hold their bellies in, to march and countermarch with regularity and precision—is the canal which passes here, and which connects the Spree with the Havel, and thus affords a water communication from the Elbe to Berlin. But even this, like most royal works, the lover of utility would censure, as being much more magnificent than it ought to be, made more to gratify the vanity of the monarch than to improve the condition of the people. There is much water about Potsdam, and to see it in its beauty, the summer and a party are necessary. Both were wanting, and I left it, therefore, notwithstanding it snowed and blew a storm, to walk to Berlin. The wind was behind me, my umbrella protected me, and blew me, running, along. I went merrily forward, and got sweet greetings and smiles from some fine women, to whom I wished a better journey than they were likely to have in open carriages, exposed to the snow. It is a pity women do not always know the power which bright eyes Edition: current; Page: [77] and cheerful smiles have on men, or they might lead them to acquire many a gentle accomplishment, to do many a gentle deed, that would promote the happiness of both. When I now turn back on my peregrinations, I know nothing that leaves a stronger feeling of regret than the recollection of many of those sweet faces, that smiled on me for a moment, and have never been seen any more. This is one of the most painful of all the feelings of the traveller. He catches a momentary view of beings he thinks time would make him love, and then he loses them for ever. They seem to him like the angels of the world, and he is only consoled for their loss by reflecting, that it is that itself which makes him so regard them, and that, possibly, he would have ceased to adore had he known them better.

I reached Berlin at four o’clock, and took up my quarters at the Golden Angel. For some part of my walk I had an elderly woman, carrying a large loaded basket, for a companion; she was to carry it, in all, ten miles. She complained very bitterly of the sovereign, who she called a complete Buonaparte. She had been the mother of twelve children, and seven of these had been soldiers. Surely her labour was hard enough, yet she said she could not get enough to feed her well, and keep her warm. When absolute idleness wallows in riches, and industry has nothing, there is surely something wrong in the social regulations.

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CHAPTER III.: Prussia.

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 Edition: current; Page: [79] 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 Edition: current; Page: [80] 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 Edition: current; Page: [81] 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 Edition: current; Page: [82] 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 Edition: current; Page: [83] 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 Edition: current; Page: [84] 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 Edition: current; Page: [85] 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 Edition: current; Page: [86] 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 Edition: current; Page: [87] 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, Edition: current; Page: [88] 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 Edition: current; Page: [89] to 5725, and the Mennonites were 18. There were in Berlin,

Excess of
Births. Deaths. Births. Deaths.
In 1812 5885 5223 662
1813 5530 7057 1575
1814 5243 6566 1323

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 Edition: current; Page: [90] 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 Edition: current; Page: [91] 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 Edition: current; Page: [92] 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 Edition: current; Page: [93] 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 Edition: current; Page: [94] 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 Edition: current; Page: [95] 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 Edition: current; Page: [96] 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, Edition: current; Page: [97] 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, Edition: current; Page: [98] 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 Edition: current; Page: [99] 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.

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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 Edition: current; Page: [101] 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 Edition: current; Page: [102] 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 Edition: current; Page: [103] 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 Edition: current; Page: [104] 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.

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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 Edition: current; Page: [106] 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 Edition: current; Page: [107] 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 Edition: current; Page: [108] 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, Edition: current; Page: [109] 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 Edition: current; Page: [110] 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, Edition: current; Page: [111] 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, Edition: current; Page: [112] 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.

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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 Edition: current; Page: [114] 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’ Edition: current; Page: [115] 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 Edition: current; Page: [116] 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 Edition: current; Page: [117] 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 Edition: current; Page: [118] 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, Edition: current; Page: [119] 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 Edition: current; Page: [120] 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 Edition: current; Page: [121] 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.

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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, Edition: current; Page: [123] 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 Edition: current; Page: [124] 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 Edition: current; Page: [125] 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.

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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.

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CHAPTER IV.: brunswick—hannover.

Helmstädt university.—Brunswick.—Tombs of the sovereigns.—Number killed in battle.—Different characters of the former Duke.—Former state of Brunswick.—For what now remarkable.—Traits of character.—Extent of territory.—Population.—Carolina college.—Roads.—Appropriate inscription.—Hildesheim.—Hannover buildings.—Monument to Leibnitz.—Library.

The university of the ancient town of Helmstädt, in the territories of Brunswick, was founded in 1574, by Julius, the then Duke of Wolfenbüttel, the great patron of learning, and the great reformer and legislator of that period. The church, the police, and education, were all objects of his care, but, above all, he appears to have protected the peasantry in their rights and privileges. To him they were chiefly indebted for those regulations which are called the Meyer Law, which secure to the peasant the possession of his little farm, on paying to the lord a certain rent, and do not allow the rent to be increased. He was both a religious and a learned prince. Under his patronage, and the patronage of his successors, supported Edition: current; Page: [128] by grants from the states, the university long flourished. Caprice, perhaps, or vanity, latterly directed the patronage of the dukes of Brunswick to their new-founded college of Carolina, and the university of Göttingen, supported by a more powerful sovereign, deprived Helmstädt of much of its lustre. The latter university was abolished when the French took possession of the country, and then all the importance of the town was destroyed. It contains about 5000 inhabitants, but has nothing except a pleasant country to render it in the least worthy of notice.

Many curious stories are told of the late Professor Beireis and his extensive museum of natural and artificial curiosities. His purchases were so extensive, and he vaunted so much of the sums he gave for them, that it was a common belief amongst the people, that he could only acquire the wealth necessary to make these purchases, and to outbid empresses and kings, by making gold himself. If he possessed the art of doing this, it died with him. His museum is sold; but he is yet remembered as a “strange old man, and perhaps a sorcerer.”

I arrived at Helmstädt at ten o’clock on the following day. Many marks of its antiquity still remain. Its streets are crooked; its houses face every corner of the heavens,—some of them protrude into the street, some of them have large courts before them, and they are all of an indescribable Edition: current; Page: [129] shape, but seem to have been built from the corners of other buildings; they had all high roofs, and every storey, as it rose above another, projected beyond it, so that the roof was the largest and most conspicuous part of the house. The general building materials were timber, filled in with clay whitewashed, or with bricks. All the beams were covered with inscriptions carved on them, generally taken from Scripture. The doors were all of oak, very often highly polished, and always ornamented with nice shining brass handles and knockers; and numerous small windows were decorated with white curtains. Helmstädt was another example of the grotesque old towns of Germany.

I reached the town of Brunswick at six o’clock. It was quite dark, and I was indebted to a civil stranger for conducting me to an inn, where I found a good supper and clean bed. The road was again very bad till I arrived at Helmstädt, when a new and a good road conducted to Brunswick. It had now thawed for two days; walking was become heavy and tiresome. There was nothing to be seen or remarked, and I had no other amusement but to while away the time with idle dreams.

Brunswick possesses the characteristics of other old German towns, particularly crooked streets Edition: current; Page: [130] and strange built houses. A practised eye may, no doubt, discover a great many differences in each of these, but to an unpractised one they are all alike; and a stranger needs a guide if he but go abroad. The sovereigns of Brunswick have sometimes been extravagant, but no one of them has left any monument of very good taste. There are no buildings that are beautiful, but several that are picturesque, from the little gilded turrets and balconies that grow out of their corners and sides. The tombs of the sovereigns, and a statue of their renowned ancestor, Henry the Lion, are placed in the principal church of the town, and are objects of general curiosity. But the clerk, or Cantor, who is the showman, was also a teacher of music, and as he was employed in the forenoon giving lessons, it was necessary, to gratify my curiosity, that I should return after dinner. There can be no doubt that the reflections made on visiting the abodes of the dead depend entirely on previous associations. When we look on sovereigns as something more than men, which seems to be very natural, for even their bodies are preserved for veneration, we are apt to feel great sympathy for their misfortunes, and almost to regret that these objects of admiration should be subject to death. The pomp of their life seems to follow them to the tomb, and we may be as awe-struck by the stately shew of glittering coffins, as by the ceremonies of Edition: current; Page: [131] an introduction to kiss the hand of living majesty. There was something, however, either in the vanity of thus making a shew of frail dust, or in the circumstance that several of these princes had fallen as soldiers in a foreign service, which deprived me of all particular respect for the illustrious bones I was amongst. Even the superb coffin of the last duke, who fell at Waterloo, pure and heroic as his conduct is sometimes described to have been, could not restore this feeling. I considered him more like a soldier of fortune than a generous prince sacrificing his life for his people.

No less than ten of this royal family have been slain in battle; nine are deposited at Brunswick, and one sleeps at Ottensen, near Altona. Had they been killed in defending any of the sacred rights of men, any of the principles of morality, or any hallowed truths, they might have been justly admired and honoured; but one had been a major-general in the Austrian service, and another in the Prussian service, and, however they might for a moment have been ornamented by the wreaths of victory, sound philosophy, sound morality, and sound feeling, can only regard them as having sold their lives for a title or a star.

The younger branches of the nobility of Germany, whether belonging to a sovereign family or any other, can find no other situations to fill than the higher ones of the army or the priesthood, and Edition: current; Page: [132] there are no offices in the Protestant church that are worthy their acceptance. Their own opinions will not allow them to be advocates, physicians, agriculturists, or merchants, and whenever they are not so rich as they wish to be, they unfortunately can only become richer by selling themselves for soldiers to the highest bidder. The life of man ought to be sacred. Perhaps all the reasons which have been urged to justify taking it away, under any circumstances, are false and inconclusive. Every good man shudders at the necessity of doing it, and he can never honour those who make doing it a trade, whether they are titled soldiers or common executioners. The statue of Henry the Lion is a rude memorial of the time in which it was executed, the twelfth century, and resembles the figures seen on the top of the oldest tombs of some of our kings.

We know little more of that Duke of Brunswick who was buried by Altona, than that he was the general of the army of the coalition, and that his last appearance in the field was as commander-in-chief of the Prussian armies at the battle of Jena; but in his own country he is known, according to party opinions, either “as one of the noblest of princes, who ranks in history second to Frederick the Great, as a hero and a friend of humanity, as the patron of the arts, and as the father of his people;” or “as a man of a good heart, but of Edition: current; Page: [133] wild and unbridled passions, who might have been a good man, had not his situation given him flatterers for his lusts. He felt well, but judged ill. His earnest desire was to be a great man. He thought himself far before the age in which he lived, when he possessed but a small portion of its wisdom. And he sacrificed the real prosperity of his country to the vanity of filling a page in history.” Such are the differences of opinion relative to this prince. The poor old man was to be pitied when he found himself compelled, by the necessity of supporting his pretensions to greatness and talents, to take the command of an army at the advanced age of seventy one, and to stake his reputation and his life against the greatest military man of that time. He lost both, and the half-contested battle of Jena, while it was lost chiefly by divisions among his troops, and among his generals, which he could not control, only shews how ill he had appreciated himself, when he undertook, with so ill-formed an army, to contend against so powerful an opponent.

Brunswick, which is now only known as the residence of the sovereign, and only famous for good sausages, chicoree coffee, and mumm, was once a powerful town, independent of its prince. It then carried on more trade than any town in the north of Germany, except Hamburg and Lubeck. It was a member of the Hanseatic league, and was a pattern Edition: current; Page: [134] and protectress to all the smaller towns of the north. Its fate has been like that of many others;—industry and ingenuity brought wealth and power; with wealth and power came pride and indolence, and neither the same abilities nor the same care were employed to preserve power and wealth which had been used to obtain them. In the beginning of the fourteenth century, Brunswick possessed money, fortifications, and courts of justice, of its own; at the end of the fifteenth century it was fully free from all actual control of the prince, often resisted his wishes and his armies, and refused him homage till he had promised not to violate its privileges. Quarrels amongst the citizens ensued; the magistracy fell into the hands of some few families; it was no longer chosen from the body of citizens, but only from the jurisconsults, and by the jurisconsults. The power of the sovereign was increased by the Reformation, by having lawyers for counsellors. The different sovereigns united, in the seventeenth century, to destroy the freedom of the towns, and Brunswick, like the rest, was, towards the beginning of the eighteenth century, reduced to bow its neck to the yoke of the prince. It is now very quietly governed by magistrates, who must be confirmed by him, and is a good obedient town.

The common, or rather universal, use of sausages, as food in Germany, for which it has just been mentioned Brunswick is famous, has suggested Edition: current; Page: [135] to students, who have a slang language amongst themselves, to call every thing that is perfectly indifferent, or approaching to nauseous, Wurst, sausages. Chicoree coffee is made from endive, and is much used in the north of Germany. There are several large manufactories of it at Brunswick and Magdeburgh. The use of this plant is not owing to the continental system; it was adopted more than fifty years ago. Mumm, also mentioned as now giving some celebrity to Brunswick, is a thick disagreeable sort of beer, whose inventor was a native of this town. It is held in high repute. Brunswick has still a considerable portion of trade, particularly of the trade between Hamburgh and southern Germany. It contains rather more than 20,000 people. There are manufactories of cloths, papier maché, porcelain, and colours. The inhabitants are famous for making furniture, and their turnery-ware is much esteemed.

The landlord of the inn and his wife were an example of an adherence to engagements that is frequent in Germany. They had been betrothed six years before they were married, but he was called into military service, and, while he was in the army, her friends would not consent to their union. They seem to have struggled cheerfully for better days. He had at length procured his discharge, had married, and recently taken this house. Both he and his wife were models of industry. He Edition: current; Page: [136] brewed his own beer, looked after both his guests and their horses, and was an active intelligent man. The wife was a pretty cleanly woman, who kept her house in good order, and had something pleasing to say to every person. She was industrious, like other German women, but she added the virtues of towns, cleanliness and agreeableness to her industry.

The inhabitants, particularly the peasantry, or Brunswick, are remarkable amongst the Germans for personal beauty. The Saxons and Prussians, with all the inhabitants of the north, except the inhabitants of Hannover, are a better-looking race than those of the south. And there is something either in the general fertility and varied nature of their country, or in origin, that has caused the inhabitants of Brunswick to be distinguished even from the natives of the other favoured countries. The men hold themselves more upright, are cleaner dressed, and more active than the peasants of Germany generally are. Laws have given to them great security for their property, and more than half a century ago writers complained of their luxury. They were accused of wearing glass and silver buttons; their wives indulged in the use of lace, and their children were ornamented with silken ribbons. Some attempts which were then made to repress these indulgences are said to have made them suspicious, spiteful, and cunning. The laws Edition: current; Page: [137] were found useless, and the peasantry of Brunswick have again acquired their good character and their taste for enjoyment.

The territories of the Duke of Brunswick are scattered, and some parts of them are separated from the other parts by the territories of other sovereigns. The whole are, however, in some respects similar as to soil, surface, and productions; and they may be numbered amongst the most fertile of northern Germany. The surface is a mixture of hill and dale, approaching in Wolfenbüttel to mountainous; the soil is generally a good clay. The vallies produce corn, and the mountains forests and minerals. The extent of the country is 1188 square geographical miles, the number of inhabitants is 209,527: Brunswick is one of the best peopled states in northern Germany. The greater part of the inhabitants, that is, 205,000, are Lutherans, the remainder are Catholics, Calvinists, Moravians, and Jews. The German language is said to be better spoken in Brunswick than in any other part of Germany, except in the towns of Hannover and Celle.

Brunswick is divided into twenty-one city or war circuits, in each of which is a court for the administration of justice, and of the police. The Landesgericht, or court of justice for the whole country at Wolfenbüttel is a court of appeal in second instance, and at the same place there is a Edition: current; Page: [138] chief court of appeal. The circuits are united into districts, of which there are six, and over each one of these a chief captain, Oberhauptman, is placed, who has the military business, the high police, and such other duties to perform. These persons are placed immediately under the ministry. The present Duke is a minor.

There has always been states or a parliament in Brunswick, which has taken an active part in making laws, and particularly in levying taxes. They were composed of elergy, nobles, and deputies from the cities, and were in possession of all their ancient privileges till the commencement of the French Revolution. The last general meeting was held in 1772; before and since that time their business was, in general, conducted by a committee of their own appointment. In 1772, their language was by no means that of unqualified submission; they remonstrated with the Duke on his expences, and did not grant him all his requests. He had no power to command. This assembly is now to be remodelled.

Much has been done in Brunswick for the cultivation of the people, so far as school learning goes. One of the most celebrated of the present institutions is the Carolina college. It seems to have been originally intended as a better school, something between common schools and universities, but it is now chiefly famous as a military school. Edition: current; Page: [139] This college was founded in 1745, under the patronage of the Duke Charles, and regulated by the then celebrated court chaplain, Jerusalem, who, though distinguished in literature and science, yet merited from his contemporaries the better praise of being a good man. Since that period, there has been no deficiency in Brunswick of literary men and literary pursuits. At present a very good, perhaps one of the best, political journals of Germany is published there by Voss. After having derived much instruction from the history of this country, and of Hannover, written by Dr Carl Venturini, it would be unjust to pass Brunswick without mentioning his name as an historian, who deserves much praise for the care he has taken to pourtray the manners of his countrymen at different periods.

In nothing is the evil of the numerous governments of Germany so apparent, as when good roads are made in one country, which extend only to its boundaries, because the neighbouring country has no funds to complete it. On entering the territories of Brunswick, the change was from a brack to a good road, and there was a good road till I left them to go by Hildesheim to Hannover, and then I came to bogs, ploughed fields, and Edition: current; Page: [140] pieces of road. A new road is, however, making, and the wheel-tracks extending on each side for almost a quarter of a mile, shewed what a quantity of land had been injured by wanting a proper road, and how much one was needed. Yet this is the principal track between the manufacturing country in the neighbourhood of the Lower Rhine and Brunswick, at which there are two large commercial fairs held in the year. In fact, I met a great number of vehicles, particularly carts, loaded with goods come from Elberfeld and Sölingen, and going to Brunswick. They had much difficulty to get along, sometimes sinking almost to the nave of the wheel. It is also the principal track, it ought not to be called a military road, for the Prussians to pass from the eastern part of their country to their possessions on the Rhine. It has long been a much frequented route, but has never been a good one. Perhaps the reader may think this frequent mention of the condition of the roads wearisome, but it shews how much the Germans have suffered from the multiplicity of their governments, and it must also be remarked, that there is not one of these governments which has not a great many people employed as road engineers and inspectors; and yet the roads are much worse than in our country, where the government has nothing to do with them. The soil was in general good clay; the country was well peopled, and numerous Edition: current; Page: [141] hedge-rows, clumps of trees, and villages, gave it a resemblance to many parts of Kent. It required only better weather and better roads to make it pleasant.

On one of the cottages near the road side was an inscription admirably appropriate to the building, “I built not from pride, nor from hope, nor from lust, nor from a desire of ornament, but necessity compelled me thereto.”

I reached a village called Betmeer Pass, where I stopped for the night. It is in the former bishopric of Hildesheim, but which at present forms a part of the kingdom of Hannover. Under the government of the bishop, the landlord paid eighteen Thalers per year (about L. 2, 14s.) in taxes: under the government of Jerome Buonaparte, of whose kingdom of Westphalia Hildesheim formed a part, he paid eighty-three, and now he pays fifty-one. His house seemed to feel the difference. It was spacious, but in ruins; four beds with curtains were crowded into one room, because no other was weather-tight. The mistress was a good cook, and brought forth at supper time some seldom used remnants of better days, such as a gay table-cloth, and silver spoons, which contrasted strongly with the slovenliness, neglect, and dirt of herself and family, and with the rude fir planks which served as a table. Her clothes were good, but were negligently put on, her bosom was only half covered by the handkerchief Edition: current; Page: [142] that was thrown rather than pinned over it, her hair hung dishevelled about her head, and constantly intruded into her eyes and mouth. The husband was much better in his appearance, and talked sensibly on agriculture, and on a variety of topics. The wife, however, did all the domestic labour, he only drank drams, smoked his pipe, and spake with the guests; his labours were farm labours, but they were stopped by the season, and he did not apply himself to any thing else.

The people of this country all speak Low German with one another, not one word of which I could understand, and all the conversation which was carried on in that dialect was lost for me. The crucifixes by the road side were evidence enough of the Catholicism of the inhabitants. In the village was a nice house which belonged to a Catholic gentleman, who had the title of Finance Counsellor to the Protestant King of Hannover. I observed an alteration in the appearance and habits of the people. They were here shorter, fuller faced, and dirtier than the people of Brunswick.

The town of Hildesheim was once, like the rest of the towns of the north of Germany, almost an independent city. It was the capital of the bishopric, and the bishop still lives there, though the sovereignty now belongs to Hannover. The power of the town might have balanced that of the Edition: current; Page: [143] bishop, but it is as nothing when compared to that of its present powerful sovereign. Large steeples and the cathedrals make Hildesheim at a distance look like a much handsomer town than it is. Its situation is even good, but crooked and small streets, with high roofed houses, without any good buildings, and only one open square, make it rather a dismal looking place. The change in the government has had a pernicious effect on the city; the wealth that used to be dissipated in it is now partly dissipated in Hannover, and, as the general prosperity of a country is nothing to any individual when compared with his own prosperity, it was natural that the citizens should complain of the decay of their town and trade.

Before entering the town of Hannover, the eye is arrested by a very ugly pile of bricks. This is the steeple of what is called the Markt-Kirche, or market-church. It is like a blot on the air; it taught me to expect, in the rest of the buildings, every thing that was heavy and old-fashioned. I was, therefore, agreeably deceived when, on entering what is called the Egidian new town, I saw straight well paved streets, houses that appeared rather light and elegant, a handsome walk branching to the right and left, and one spacious house, with a place in front for a garden. This was, however, the best part of the town, and the crooked streets and old buildings, though neither so numerous Edition: current; Page: [144] nor grotesque as at Brunswick and Helmstädt, were sufficient to give it all the characteristics of the cities of the north. I had sent my trunk from Dresden to Hannover by the post-coach; its weight was sixty-five pounds, and it cost about L. 1, 2s. This conveyance is, however, perfectly safe. On going to the banker’s I found he was a Jew, and, consequently, as it was Saturday, his office was shut. I had, therefore, to wait till Sunday.

At various places on the road, as I approached Hannover, I saw new buildings, and something like decent farm-houses, which are marks of prosperity very rarely seen in any part of the Continent. The road from Hildesheim was good, and some hedge-rows, and nice gardens, and, above all, the G. R.s which glittered on the toll-houses, and on the road-menders’ caps, reminded me strongly of England. This was much augmented on entering the town. The soldiers were dressed like our own, and I heard the military music playing for the officers’ dinner “The Roast Beef of Old England.”

The town of Hannover is situated in a flat plain, at the very farthest extremity of the hills and fertile country I had just passed through, and at the very commencement of those sandy districts which extend, without interruption, from it to the Elbe, the Weser, and the sea. On the north-west side lies Edition: current; Page: [145] a hill called the Lindenberg, and in its neighbourhood the soil is fertile, and the country pleasant; on the other side the soil is generally sandy, and the country flat. A little river, called the Leine, divided into two streams, runs through it, but is in general so completely built over that it is not seen till the bridge over it is reached. In the vicinity of the Marstall, or royal stable, and by the palace, it is exposed to view, and there gives a little beauty to the whole. The town contains 20,000 inhabitants, and is increasing and improving. The Leine divides the old from the new town; and the former has as an appendage the Egidian new town, which is the best built and most agreeable part of the whole. There is not one good street, and but few good-looking houses, and, on the whole, the capital of his Majesty’s German dominions may, in point of buildings, be compared to some old fashioned third rate provincial town of Great Britain.

The only building which has the least claim to the character of elegance is the palace of the Duke of Cambridge. It was built by a nobleman in the year 1752, and afterwards purchased by the government. Even this, however, is nothing but a plain and elegant, though rather a large house. The royal palace, which has once been large, is partly in ruins. The chapel, the theatre, and some other of the old parts remain, and some new corners are built and building; the other parts have Edition: current; Page: [146] been burnt or pulled down, and present only a mixture of confusion and ruin. The house in which the ministerial business is conducted, die Regierung; the Parliament House, das landshaftliche Hause, at present repairing, the library, the Fürsten hof, which is the residence of the Duke of Clarence, may be mentioned as decent-looking places. The manner in which the other houses are built, even when they are large, with a frame of oak, filled in with bricks, the timber being still seen, gives them a mean and old fashioned appearance.

The town-house is one of those old Gothic, or, according to Goethe, German buildings, which have so many different corners and shapes, that no one particular shape belongs to it. In lightness and ornament it is far inferior to many of the old houses, similar to those of Helmstädt, which abound in Hannover, as well as in all the towns of this part of Germany. The fronts of many of them are entirely composed of little towers, extending all the way to the top, and being sometimes smartly painted and ornamented with a variety of figures and weathercocks, they look like gay summer-houses, or small antique castles. A similar mode of building may be traced in all the old farm-houses, whose gable ends, and ornaments of wood, which, in that situation, look natural enough, often reminded me of small Gothic chapels. The general Edition: current; Page: [147] prevalence in this country of what is called Gothic architecture, together with its prevalence and excellence in Britain; to which country it was carried by the early invaders from this part of Germany, make it probable that it had its origin here, and leave no room to doubt that this fantastical style, with its multiplicity of ornaments, was once the common style of building the farm-houses of this part of Germany.

There is one point in which most of the towns of Germany resemble one another. They have all once been fortified, the fortifications are no longer of any use, and they, or at least the walls of the towns, are converted into agreeable walks. Hannover has such a walk, and it extends round the whole town. On one part of this walk, not far from the library, and at the end of an open place which is used as a parade for soldiers, stands a little temple, whose cupola rests on twelve columns, and which contains a marble altar, supporting a bust of Leibnitz; on the bottom of the bust his name is inscribed; and the name of the artist, Hewetson, to whom it does no dishonour, is seen on the back part. On the frieze of the temple stands in large letters, “Genio Leibnitzii,” and no further inscription is required to tell who he was, and why he was thus honoured. Its situation, though naturally good, is bad from the things in its neighbourhood. It should have been in a garden, devoted Edition: current; Page: [148] to contemplation; Leibnitz has no connection with soldier-drilling, nor have the machines which are obedient to a corporal’s stick any thing to do with Leibnitz.

The design is chaste and simple, and does great credit to the taste of the gentlemen who planned and executed it. Amongst them I may mention Messrs Von Reden, Patje, Ramberg, Hoffner, and Brandes. They were the original proposers of the monument, which was erected by subscription. The government contributed liberally, and it was completed in the year 1787. The principal merit of the design belongs to Mr Ramberg. It is pleasing to record the modesty which did not allow these gentlemen to engrave their own names on the temple which they had raised to Leibnitz. To appropriate to ourselves a share of the honour we confer, in giving money to raise a memorial to an illustrious man, is often a great motive for giving it. And, if the names of artists, subscribers, and munificent princes, were not to be inscribed on the monument they raise to the dead, the dead would be often unhonoured.

Leibnitz is a name that already too well fills the world to leave me any room to speak of him. Much of his life was passed in Hannover, and many of his manuscripts are still preserved in the library. They are all shewn to strangers with unexampled goodness, by the librarian, Mr. Hofrath Edition: current; Page: [149] Feder. Amongst them are collections of proverbs, historical remarks, epigrams, fables, mostly written in French, something of every sort of literature. What remains of this great man’s works which are unknown, would give an ordinary man much reputation, but it is, perhaps, wise to withhold what Leibnitz himself never thought it right to give the world. He died in November 1716, and he was buried in the church of the new town of Hannover. The stone put up to his memory there is simple, and it remained for the present generation to pay him a proper tribute of respect.

The library is liberally open to the inspection of strangers. It is rich in historical works, and in works written in the Low German dialect. The inhabitants and strangers who are recommended are permitted to take books home to read. There are many reasons why it is to be wished that individuals or bodies of men should provide books for themselves, rather than that they should be provided by governments; but the difference is so great between collecting books and locking them up to be looked at or to rot, and collecting them for general use, and the advantages of the latter are so great, that, compared with the former, it is highly meritorious. The natural history society which exists in Hannover has also a library, and there are several private societies in which books, journals, and newspapers, may be read. There are several Edition: current; Page: [150] collections of natural curiosities belonging to individuals; but, compared to other German towns, Hannover is very poor in museums and collections of works of nature or art. In England it seems to be thought that much of our wealth goes to Hannover, and there it is thought much wealth is sent to England. Neither is true. Neither the palaces of the monarch in Hannover, nor his gardens; neither the splendour of the nobility, nor the patronage which is bestowed on the arts, betrays the influence of the riches of Britain.

The streets of Hannover are well paved, and the foot-paths are raised. This latter is a convenience so rarely seen out of England, that it is more than probable it was borrowed from us. Insurance companies are not common out of England, but there is one in Hannover, which, in all probability, was established in imitation of the English. It was begun in the year 1750, and was confined to the province of Calenberg, and is supported, I believe, by the states of this province. Combined with this institution there is a regulation relative to fires, which might be adopted in every town with advantage. In case of fire, all the citizens, according to their trades, have some particular stations and employments assigned them. The origin of such a regulation is said to have been the company of merchants engaging amongst themselves to assist in saving each other’s property Edition: current; Page: [151] in case of fire, and for this purpose they all provided themselves with sacks, to remove whatever was moveable out of danger. This is still their duty. Masons and carpenters have to pull down neighbouring buildings if necessary; smiths are engine-workers; and every thing which foresight can imagine as necessary to be done on such an emergency, has somebody appointed to do it. Every citizen, not otherwise stationed, has a numbered bucket, and no sooner is an alarm of fire given, than every one, like the sailors of a well-ordered ship, repairs to his station. From these precautions fires seldom take place in Hannover, and are soon extinguished.

The improvements since the fourteenth century have been very great. The most flourishing towns of this country, as described by the historian Spittler, were then most wretched. “After all their privileges, so little comfort could be found within their walls, that nothing but the greatest necessity could drive men to live in this manner. The miserable buildings were crowded together. The streets were not paved; the houses were thatched with straw, and if they were remarkably elegant, they had a wooden chimney. Before or behind the house was a large dunghill, where both men and animals, hardly separated within doors by a plank from one another, provided for the future manure of the field. What would have done people no Edition: current; Page: [152] harm if they were living separate in the country, became disease and pestilence when they were crowded together. Fire very seldom broke out without a third of the town being destroyed, and seldom came a sickness in the land which was not like a pestilence to the inhabitants of the towns.” There are many of these features still visible in the small towns of this country, such as the wooden chimneys and the dunghills, and destructive fires are frequent. It may give some idea of the progress made in comfort, to add, that so late as the end of the sixteenth century some of the houses of Berlin were thatched with straw; wooden chimneys were used in 1708, and they remained in Brunswick till 1745. They are yet to be seen in the town of Münder, in Hannover, and many houses throughout the country are yet destitute of chimneys.

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CHAPTER V.: hannover—hamburg.

A mode of salutation.—Effects of mockery on character.—Appearance of country.—Freedom of German manners.—Queen Matilda.—Zucht-house.—Treatment of mad people; of criminals; prisoners of state.—A farmer chief-judge.—A wax manufactory.—Agricultural society.—Institutions.—Country.—Shepherds.—Uelzen.—Paper-mill.—Cloth manufactory.—Regulation of police.—Landlady and Pastor.—Specimen of education.—Specimen of opinions.—Lüneburg.—Nobleman farmer.—An Amt Voght.—Main chaude.—Harburg.—Bridge built by Marshal Davoust.

The German poet Goethe mentions how pleased he was when his beloved Fredericka publicly kissed him amongst her other friends and relations as they took their leave from the family. This is an ancient mode of salutation in Germany, which modern refinement has not yet banished from all classes. I once saw a young woman on a visit, who, when she came down stairs in the morning, saluted in this way the whole of the persons who were assembled. In 1817 I went to see the widow Edition: current; Page: [154] of the murdered Hofer, the Tyrolese patriot. After spending a large part of the day, and dining with this respected lady, when I took my leave she gave me a mother’s kiss, and I had nothing to regret but the want of more power to assuage the sorrow of the aged, and care-worn, and neglected matron. It was given to me in part, for I felt assured she was consoled by the visit of a solitary Englishman, which was occasioned by esteem for the memory of her husband. When I left the town of Hannover, on the 28th of May, with an intention of visiting most of the provinces of the kingdom, all the females of the family in which I had lived gave me an affectionate kiss. Such a mode of salutation is perhaps dangerous without that purity of heart to which all things are pure, and which, in its faith, can drink of the well whose waters are poison to the unbelieving.

It is a long time before a sufficiency of philosophy or apathy is obtained, “unmoved to sever or to meet,” and had not the females of this family mocked at their own sorrow, real or pretended, they would have made parting more painful. Sporting with affliction may lighten momentary care, but it has a pernicious influence on the general character. It allows no emotion to be permanent and sacred, and there are some we ought to indulge, or, at least, leave time to alter and assuage them. Always to laugh is rather more absurd than Edition: current; Page: [155] always to cry, and to assume the propriety of doing either as a general rule of conduct, is to proceed on a false theory of human nature, which produces affectation, and often deprives men of all claim to the virtues of open-heartedness and sincerity. They act a part so often, that at length they lose all character but what they derive from their theory. There are few of our emotions which do not deserve, from their importance, to be observed and remembered, and they who endeavour to suppress them exclude themselves from a source of wisdom. The Germans are a good deal tinged with a sort of false theory, though it takes in them a different shape, according to the temperament of the individual; some will laugh all sorrows away, and others always indulge melancholy.

I reached the town of Celle at five o’clock in the evening, after a dreary tramp of twenty-four miles. The country was chiefly heath and morass, a nursery for frogs and beautiful insects, in which a patch of cultivation round a miserable village, and a herd of cattle, were now and then seen. The brown heath was mixed with large white spots of the common rush in bloom, which glanced on the horizon, and dazzled and bewildered the eye. There was almost as many royal tolls as villages, the collectors of which had given the travellers good advice, by inscribing on their boards, Edition: current; Page: [156] “Hutet euch vor Strafe, und bezahlet Zoll,”—Beware of punishment, and pay the tolls.

At an inn I met a family travelling to Hannover, in their own carriage, and forming part of them was a young couple, who were either recently married, or were going to be married. They caressed each other, in the public room, in a manner that we should call indecent, but which I had before discovered to be a part of German manners. Franklin has said, “Men have more pride, and even pleasure, in killing than in begetting one another; for, without a blush, they assemble in great armies at noon-day to destroy, and when they have killed as many as they can, they exaggerate the number to augment the fancied glory; but they creep into corners, or cover themselves with the darkness of night, when they mean to beget, as being ashamed of a virtuous action.” The Germans, in this respect, may approach to wisdom, for they seldom betray any shame at exchanging in public the signs and the endearments of legitimate love. I am not disposed to take seriously the remark of Franklin, and can readily imagine why our joys should be secret. They excite the envy or the desire of less happy people, and those who display them have no right to complain if they are exposed to sarcasm or libertine attacks, since they betray a want of delicacy and of respect for others.

Before reaching Celle, some people were breaking Edition: current; Page: [157] up a piece of ground, in consequence of the common lands in this neighbourhood having recently been divided and appropriated. The spot was claimed by the sovereign, as lord-paramount, and the people had to pay him a small rent for the privilege of labouring it. There was a great want of a drain for the whole, which might easily have been made, if the exertions of each individual had been properly directed. They had not, and the consequence was, that the land lay so wet, it was impossible to sow it with winter corn. The practice was to sow it with oats, buck-wheat, barley, or potatoes.

In the evening I visited the old ruined castle, once the habitation of the dukes of Lüneburg, and last inhabited by the unfortunate Queen Matilda of Denmark. She died here in 1775. A monument, which is at present very much defaced, and almost destroyed, was erected to her memory, in a place called “the French Garden,” a little out of the town. It is surrounded with trees and shrubs, and has a gloomy sentimental air, somewhat in unison with the taste of the Germans.

On the following day I visited the Zucht-house, Penitentiary,—which is situated in a suburb called Wester-Celle. Permission to do so was requested from the chief of the establishment, who immediately granted it. He had formerly been a captain in the German Legion, and remarked, that there Edition: current; Page: [158] was nothing to admire if I had seen similar establishments in other countries. The Burghauptman, who can only be considered as the turnkey, though he has the fine name of Captain of the Castle, accompanied me, and we first visited the cells for mad people. Here, as in other countries, the mad and the criminal are confined together. Why should guilt and misfortune be confounded in the minds of the society, by the unfortunate being condemned to live with the criminal? Is it merely that both must be subjected by force? Or, is it that state-doctors regard crime as insanity, and therefore shut both into the same building? This plan is objectionable, not on account of the mad people, who do not feel it, but on account of the sane, but unreflecting part of the society, who may be taught by it to believe that criminality and insanity are alike unavoidable.

There were about eighty mad people and idiots. All that are in any manner furious are shut up in cells. The idiots are left at large in the building, but remain under the same guardianship as the felons. The cells, or, as they may rather be called from their size, little apartments, were all on the ground-floor, and were well aired, and well lighted. There was a great want, however, of discrimination in the treatment; those who were absolutely furious, and those whose greatest folly was continually reading the Bible aloud, were constantly Edition: current; Page: [159] confined in similar cells. This was very different from the regulations of a benevolent physician of a mad-house at Pirna, near Dresden, whom I remember to have seen, but whose name I have unfortunately forgotten. He made himself intimately acquainted with the dispositions and characters of every one of his patients, and judiciously adapted his means of cure accordingly. Neither of the medical men who belonged to the establishment at Celle lived in the house; its management was entrusted to an officer of the army, and the keeper of the mad people was also the gaoler. My conductor was a very stupid fellow, who knew nothing whatever of the methods followed in order to cure these unfortunates, he only knew they were fed once a day.

From the cells for madness we went to the apartments for the criminals. From fifty to sixty persons were in each working apartment, the males and females each by themselves. All the women, and some men, were employed spinning either wool or flax. The different buildings formed three sides of a square, and on the fourth side was a wall, and the gates. The ground enclosed by the building is the place in which the prisoners are allowed to go for exercise, and the inhabitants of each room take their turns to walk. A certain time is allotted them every day. Each prisoner has a separate bed, but there are so many as forty Edition: current; Page: [160] or fifty beds in a room. Formerly, more than one person slept in the same bed, which it had been found prudent to alter.

Many of the men, unable to spin, were idling about, but there was neither noise nor confusion amongst them. All the women were patiently and quietly at work, and were all tidily and decently dressed. There was no other keeper present in each of the apartments for the females during the whole day than an elderly woman, who gave the prisoners flax, and took back the yarn, and she was perfectly at her ease, as if she were among children, instead of people confined for transgressing the laws. Fifty English females, under similar circumstances, would, even after the benevolent labours of Mrs Fry, present a very different spectacle. The evil of confinement is not to be remedied by outrage, but it is so great an evil, that it looks like tameness or apathy to be perfectly resigned to it. It marks a want of energy of character, rather than an exalted virtue. It was a better sign in the females, who were employed, than in the men, who were idle, and yet contented.

The spinning is done for merchants, who deliver a certain quantity of flax or wool, and receive back a certain quantity of yarn, for spinning which they pay. The prisoners sometimes, when they are very industrious, earn enough to pay for their keep, Edition: current; Page: [161] and to acquire a small sum of money. The keeper did not know the exact number of mad people and of criminals confined, but he believed there was nearly 500. The whole of this establishment, without being guided by any philosophical views of reforming criminals, and without intending more than to confine them, and find them employment during their confinement, was decent, clean, and well ordered.

My conductor knew what had excited the curiosity of most visitors, and therefore he took great care to inform me of five persons who were confined in secresy as prisoners of state. They were of a better condition of life than the rest of the prisoners, had separate apartments, and were not shewn to the public. One of them had killed some person in a duel, and he was undoubtedly punished according to law. Another was a civil servant of the government, whose accounts had been found out of order. For what the others were confined was unknown. It is most probable that they were all justly confined, but some people believed they were innocent or persecuted men. The government, therefore, gets by this measure a worse character than it deserves. The world rightly judges that nothing but wrong is perpetrated in secret, and the government that wishes for a good reputation should court publicity.

Further from Celle than the Penitentiary, but Edition: current; Page: [162] lying in the same direction, is a farm belonging to the President of the chief court of appeal, Herr von Schlepegrell. It was formerly a waste, and has been brought under cultivation by him, but has cost more money than it is worth, or will sell for. There is no other rational criterion of the value of such improvements but their produce, and the cultivation of this waste, however good the intention, cannot be praised. It is a good sign for a country when persons in the situation of the President turn their attention to agriculture, their success encourages imitation, and their failures are not followed by ruin. Lord Kaimes, whose writings did much for the improvement of the husbandry of Scotland, was also a judge, and when I remarked the analogy between him and the Herr von Schlepegrell, I wished the labours of the latter might also be successful.

The farm is situated about two miles below Celle, on the banks of the Aller, and the whole of it is a light sandy soil. Nearly 400 morgen, about 320 acres, are constantly cultivated, under the following rotation of crops, rye or wheat, and then oats, barley, buck-wheat, or potatoes, for two years. In general, no part of it is left fallow, but after some years it becomes so foul, that it is obliged to lie a summer to kill the weeds. Oxen are used for working, principally because there is a right belonging to Edition: current; Page: [163] the farm to feed on large commons, and oxen can be turned out better than horses. A small flock of about eighty sheep was kept, but none bred; fifty cows were also kept, and fed on the commons. The East Friezland or Dutch breed of these cattle was preferred.

The province of Lüneburg is famous for bees, and much of the wax is bleached and manufactured at Celle. I visited one of the wax manufactories, and was very civilly conducted through every part by the owner. He was full of that attention and politeness I have now often experienced from Germans. They are always ready to oblige. The wax is bleached by simply watering it, and exposing it to the sun. No sort of chemical agents are employed, and it requires nearly a summer to finish the bleaching. A person had visited the owner, offering to shew him a more ready way to bleach, but that he said would have required him to alter his premises, and he was then too old. The manufactory had been established by his great-grandfather, had been continued unaltered by his grandfather and father, and he meant it should remain unaltered till his death. He complained that the concern was no longer profitable, the price of wax had fallen too low, which he attributed to unfair dealers mixing it with cheaper ingredients, and he would not allow that it could be occasioned by a cheaper mode of bleaching. There is a water communication Edition: current; Page: [164] from here to Bremen, from where his candles were exported to Russia and other places. He complained of some restrictions, of which I was ignorant, on the importation of wax into England.

There is another farm in the neighbourhood, also situated on the Aller, but above the town, and favoured by a much better soil, which is celebrated from having formerly been the residence of Mr Thaer, the Fallenberg, or the Young of Germany. He may perhaps be called both. He was formerly a medical practitioner in Celle, he then hired this farm; he has translated many of our agricultural works; he has long edited journals of agriculture, and he has done a great deal by his writings to diffuse a knowledge of this art over Germany. He is now Professor of Agriculture at Berlin. The King of Prussia has given him an extensive tract of land, which was formerly a waste, at Mögelin, in Brandenburg, where he unites a practical school of agriculture with accommodations for boarding pupils, in some respects similar to the establishment at Hofwyl. The farm is of less consequence to the present owner than a large spirit distillery. There were some very fine teams of oxen, all of the East Friezland breed, and being all regularly harnessed, they looked admirably. The owner was occupied, and I visited under the guidance of one of his servants, his distillery, and fattening-house. He had Edition: current; Page: [165] not more than twenty oxen; the premises are capable of holding forty,—they were all clean, and in good order. Uniting a farm with a distillery, and fattening cattle, is a frequent speculation, and succeeds very well. All the spirit is made from wheat, generally brought from Brunswick by water. One of the workmen, who had possibly heard of a steam-engine being employed to mash, to pump, and to perform all the work of the distillery, imagined it could also produce the spirit, and he inquired if brandy were not made in England by a steam-engine.

I had a long conversation with the keeper of the orphan and work-house, who explained all his labours to me. He had had much experience in the management of poor; the object of the institution over which he presided was to relieve distress, to encourage industry, and to prevent begging, and, accordingly, the funds were more devoted to employing people, though at a loss, than in giving them relief in any other way, and he thought begging had been prevented, if not destroyed. There was still, however, much distress.

Celle is the seat of a royal agricultural society, “Königliches landes Oeconomie Collegium,” whose principal business is to superintend and conduct a general inclosure of all the common lands. A Mr Meyer devoted the greater part of his life to this Edition: current; Page: [166] business, and wrote a large work on the subject, which served as the basis of the law and regulations which have since been made, but which I was unable to comprehend.

The Hannoverian ministry are extremely solicitous to promote agriculture, and they are taking great pains not only to divide the common lands, but, by exchanges and compensations, to give a connected piece of land to each peasant, equal in value to that land which he now cultivates, and which is very often separated into fields at different places. Most assuredly it is desirable that the land belonging to each person should be all in one place, but it may be doubted if authorizing a commission of gentlemen, however impartial and disinterested, to bring this about, can ever effect it so well as merely allowing and encouraging the parties to do it by exchanges and purchases. It is an immense power that of disturbing the property of others, and its exercise will not be followed by content. This is an example of men governing too much, though from good motives. Some reliance ought to be placed on the self-interest, if not on the wisdom of mankind. It is fully adequate to produce those public benefits, which the rulers of the world seem to suppose can only be produced by their interference.

There is no account published of the transactions of this society; it publishes lists of the premiums Edition: current; Page: [167] which it offers for particular discoveries. It is only praised as useful for dividing common lands, to promote a better system of cultivation, by any other means, is hardly within its sphere. Arthur Young somewhere observes such societies do not promote improvements in agriculture. His opinion is probably correct, and, above all, it is correct when they are appointed and paid, as this society is, by government. The funds that pay them are funds taken from agriculture, or some other productive labour, and the more numerous such societies are, the larger must the funds be which are required to support them, and in that same proportion they are pernicious to the real productive industry of the country.

In Celle there is a college, or large school, where medicine and surgery are taught, which possesses a good library and an anatomical theatre, and with which a school for the instruction of midwives is united. No midwife is allowed to practise who has not been instructed. There is also a good Latin, or High School. The Marstall, or Harass, belonging to the sovereign, has been useful in improving the breed of horses. Lists may be procured, for such are kept, of all the mares which have been brought to the royal stallions in any year or number of years. They ought to be glorious beasts of whom men think it right to number and record the embraces. They degrade themselves by attention to such Edition: current; Page: [168] trifles. Their labour in recording, of which they are sometimes so proud, is not productive labour, and where the whole wealth, manufactures, and commerce of any country are known in all their parts, it does not follow, that it is either wealthy or prosperous; it probably possesses more accountants than productive labourers.

All around Celle, like most other German towns, there are little gardens, which belong to the various inhabitants, who cultivate in them their own cabbages and potatoes. The women are the principal gardeners, and at this time of the year they were all busied, till it was dark, digging and sowing. Another common, or rather universal feature of German towns was also visible at Celle. This is, that, with the town-house, a wine-house, called the Raths Kellar, is always united. This curious union may have orginated in the quantity of persons who had business with the magistrates, and who wanted amusement and refreshment while waiting. Celle was formerly the residence of that branch of our royal family, who were Dukes of Lüneburg before this province was united to the others, by the marriage of the only daughter of the last duke with George I. and it has ever since been the favourite abode of such of the nobility of Lüneberg as have not chosen to live in the town of Hannover. It is also the seat of the chief court of appeal for the whole Edition: current; Page: [169] of the kingdom, and is inhabited by a great number of genteel families. It is altogether a well built and well paved little town, and with its institutions for learning, with the accuracy of the language which is spoken, and the polished manners of its inhabitants, it presents a good specimen of improvement. Its advantages of situation are all derived from the Aller, a little river, which, running through Celle, connects Brunswick with Bremen.

Between Celle and Eschede, a distance of 12 miles, there were but two small villages, the land being for the greater part heath, the soil sandy, and in many places mixed with loose stones. At the second village was a nobleman’s property, or an “Adeliche Hof,” which was in a most ruined state. It was a wretched house falling to decay, and most of the houses on noble estates are in the same ruinous condition. In this country, a very small breed of sheep—Heyde Schnucken—is numerous. They are the heath sheep of Britain. They are a hardy race of animals, which feed and nourish themselves on the few plants and short grass that are intermixed with the heather. They are the true wealth of the farmers, supplying them with both food and clothing. They require no other care than to be housed at night. For this purpose, sheds are built in many parts of this otherwise unbuilt land. Every peasant has a large flock, and Edition: current; Page: [170] most of the labourers, servants, and shepherds, have some few. The flocks generally consist of 200 head; each animal weighs from 25 to 30 lbs. its fleece about 2 lbs. the wool is coarse, and sells from ninepence to a shilling a pound. Rye, oats, and buck-wheat, are principally cultivated. The ground is ploughed for a few years, and then allowed to rest for a few years, during which time the sheep are turned on it. Oxen are also here used for the same reason as at Celle.

The farms here are from twenty to sixty-four acres of land each. Each farmer keeps a shepherd, and one or two servants, who are generally the younger branches of the family. The heath, or rather the surface of the soil, is cut off in flakes, and, thrown into the stables and yards, forms the greater part of the manure in use. The instrument for cutting it resembles a carpenter’s adze, but is larger, and is very expeditiously used, in the same manner as that instrument is used. This was a beautiful still summer’s night. The men were unyoking their cattle, and turning them out to graze on the stunted heaths; the women, followed by one or two children, were bringing home their last loads; and I did not retire to the close and dirty inn till the disappearance of all the people, and the shutting all the doors, warned me of the lateness of the hour.

After leaving Eschede, there were no villages for Edition: current; Page: [171] four hours, but several flocks of sheep, attended either by shepherds or shepherdesses. I expected to hear music and singing; never were they more requisite to relieve a loneliness and sterility of country. But the shepherdess was long past the gallant season of life, and nobody was either playing or singing to her. She was reading, not love sonnets, but the Bible, which she shewed me, with some sort of distaste, deeming it but sorry amusement compared with her week-days avocation of knitting stockings. The inhabitants of the towns of Germany knit on Sundays, those of the country will not on that day touch a needle. Fortunately they all can, and do read. A shepherd, who was lying on his belly with his heels in the air, was of opinion that he ought not to knit on a Sunday, and he was reading meditations, Betrachtungen, for every day in the year, on life, death, and immortality, published by some clergyman of Magdeburg; he left his book very readily to gossip with me. He had forty sheep of his own, while he was the shepherd of another man, who paid him by giving him yearly two sheaves of corn, two shirts, and coarse cloth for a jacket and trowsers. He received no money wages.

Two or three houses standing together, surrounded by trees, sometimes relieved the desolation of the otherwise barren waste. The people spoke of these precisely as the Indians speak of their habitations. Edition: current; Page: [172] In that bush, said a shepherd, there are three houses; in that other two; and in that one still farther off there are two more. It is curious to reflect on that alteration in society by which a Herr von dem Busche, whose family probably took their name from such a house as that I saw last night, placed in such a situation as was here described as a bush, has become one of the privileged nobility of the present day.

Uelzen, where I dined and slept, is a nice little town. Most of the inhabitants were enjoying themselves in their summer-houses, of which there was one in every garden, and the town is surrounded with gardens. At the entrance to most of the houses were two stone benches, on some of which people were seated smoking, who exchanged the afternoon salutation with every passing neighbour. The upright stones at the end of these benches were shaped in an ornamented manner, like common tombstones, which they otherwise greatly resembled; and they disposed me at first to think that every family was buried under its own door sill.

The river Ilmenau is navigable from the Elbe to Uelzen, and the English and the Hamburgers are said to have formerly carried on with it a considerable commerce. Much of the commerce from Hamburg to southern Germany still passes through it. Edition: current; Page: [173] In the town itself much spirit is distilled, wax bleached, and cloth and paper made. I visited a paper-mill. It is one of the largest in the whole of Hannover, and employs twenty-eight persons. It was not badly erected, but it was small and incomplete compared with the establishments for the same use in England.

The owner seemed much attached to the promised freedom of Germany, and he hoped much from constitutional governments, while he deplored that they were not yet established. He delivered his opinion freely on the new constitution which Hannover had received, and on the conduct of the Hannoverian government, which, he said, neglected the commercial interest. He employed people to collect rags, and he thought the government did wrong in allowing any of this raw material to go out of the land. In fact, like other men, in the blind pursuit of his own interest, he blamed the government for not doing what it ought not to do. All which every individual can justly demand of a government, is to allow him to follow his own interest undisturbed; but he wanted to hinder other people, such as rag-collectors, and the merchants who sent rags out of the land, from seeking their interest. Thus it is in every branch of society; all men wish to be themselves free, but they are willing to bind chains on others. He complained, and perhaps with justice, of the Edition: current; Page: [174] jealousy and narrow-mindedness of some of our manufacturers. He had friends who had been in England, but not one of them, although they had made it their business, had ever been able to see the inside of a paper-mill. The liberality of people on the Continent is certainly on this point great. There are but very few establishments which a stranger is not permitted to visit on asking permission. The fear of having inventions and improved methods stolen by foreigners, is perhaps extended to illiberality amongst the manufacturers of Britain.

The cloth manufactory at Uelzen was a specimen of that destruction which changes in political relations cause. Twenty-eight looms were formerly kept at work; at this time there were only, in general, eight or ten, and at the moment even these were idle. The owner dyes, bleaches, and weaves. With the exception of spinning, the cloth is made fully ready in the same premises. Here also were complaints. When a man finds his property decaying, and his hopes destroyed, it is natural to complain, only it is wrong in men to complain of any one act of government rather than of their own veneration for it, by which alone it has the power to vex and disturb them. The same principle operated on this gentleman as on the other. He wanted a tax on the exportation of wool, and a prohibition to bring foreign-made cloths into the country. For Hannover it is of Edition: current; Page: [175] much greater consequence that the farmer should have a good price for his wool, than that the capitalist should be able to make a profit on manufacturing cloth.

In the evening I walked to a village called Bienenbüttel. The country was, as usual, nearly a flat sand, with much heath, and cultivated only where there was water. This was the case at Bienenbüttel, where there was a rude oil and a rude corn mill, and the usual concomitant of fertility, either a nobleman’s house or an ancient convent. This was a nobleman’s house, belonging to a Herr von Hartwig, at present a ruin. An idea of what is here regarded as wealth may be known from this, that a man ploughing described two farmers of his village as great farmers, grosse Bauer, and very rich, who cultivated about forty acres of land each, and had nearly 200 head of common sheep, and kept one shepherd betwixt them.

On asking at Bienenbüttel for a bed, I was told permission to lodge me must first be obtained “from the Baumeister,” or chief man of the village; my passport was sent to him, and the permission obtained in due course. This officer is charged, among other things, with the police of the village, but submitting passports to his inspection was a new regulation. It was customary to make the innkeeper responsible, who was obliged to see the passport of each stranger, and record his name in a Edition: current; Page: [176] book kept for that purpose. This extension of the power of the police is a proof of the progress which statesmen are making in the craft of government. Through controlling the press, they guard our understandings from being bewildered by too strong a glare of truth. Their passports serve to check our wanderings, and, at the same time, to register us, that, for the comfort of our friends, we may always be found; and they secure our sleep by placing us under the care of the magistrates. Those who have watched the progress of this benevolent craft, cannot doubt that in time its professors will take the health of their subjects under their own special care, and will preserve in perfect order all the organs of the body. For the benefit of the suffering and diseased, may that time speedily arrive.

The landlady of the post-house where I slept had been divorced from her husband, on account of unfaithfulness, but it had brought no degradation on her. She had then two very decent young women living with her to learn housekeeping. She was a fine fat dame, about fifty years of age, a ruling wife, under whose eye no hand but her own was idle, and who was evidently addicted to entertain her company with conversation. She told me, in a short time, so much of her own history as did her honour, and was expatiating very warmly on some slight she had that morning received from the village pastor, when he entered, and she received Edition: current; Page: [177] him with a profusion of smiles and welcomes, which he amply repaid. Leading her to the sofa he seated himself by her side, and looked all sweetness. She became immediately gentle, reproached him in a very endearing way for not using her chaise that morning, when she had prepared it for him, and regarded him with as much tenderness as it was possible to give to a countenance accustomed during thirty years to keep post-boys and maids in order by its frowns. She had that morning been fatigued by a walk round her farm, and tempted by the warm weather she had remained en déshabille the whole day. Her clothes, tied close round her neck, and connected at her immense waist, formed at the bottom a circle of several feet in diameter; as she stood up she had the appearance of a cone with a very large base. Her head was closely pinned in a morning cap, and there was nothing to conceal the dimensions of her red cheeks.

The pastor was a dark complexioned healthy-looking man, about the same age as the lady, and was also, I understood, separated from his wife. He was either naturally stately, solemn, and grave, or had assumed these appearances for the sake of his profession. He had that day been at a feast given by some neighbouring Amtman, and the wine he had drunk seemed to give loudness and pomp to his words, and to add something to his vivacity. So soon as the first compliments were over, he began Edition: current; Page: [178] an accurate description of his day’s adventures, which he easily arranged like one of his sermons, under three heads; 1. His journey there; 2. His stay; and 3. His journey back. The feast was the most important part of it, and was most minutely described. The number of dishes, the manner in which they were placed on table, the skill of Mrs Amtman in exciting rather than in satisfying the appetite, the wines, the company, with their behaviour, and remarks, were all taken in turns, as a first and second division, and so on of the principal heads. Every word was measured and spoken deliberately, and the tobacco puffed forth to make a full stop at every short sentence. Politeness, the respect due to the pastor, and perhaps a tenderer feeling which lived in, I will not say filled, the mighty space which the robes of the lady inclosed, kept her attentive, yet she was much more accustomed to talk than to listen, and she could hardly preserve herself from sleeping. As the history went on, the pastor hitched himself on the sofa close to the lady; his hand rested first on the shoulder nearest him, it then glided softly over the broad back, on the other, his face came almost in contact with hers, his hand returned, it sunk slowly over the swelled bosom, till it rested above her knee. His voice assumed a more tender and less positive tone; the lady regarded him with looks of much complacency, and they appeared Edition: current; Page: [179] ready to sink to rest in each other’s arms. As this was going on, the two young women and the son of the landlady retired one after another. The scene was no longer fit for the participation of a third person, and I sought refuge in one of the arbours of the garden to laugh heartily at the loves of the little pastor and the fat landlady. This was a little in caricature, but otherwise a fair specimen of the manner in which the Germans indulge in the tender emotions in presence of other people.

A tutor had been kept in this family. The son of the landlady, who was intended to succeed her in the post-house, and who was then a collector of taxes for the village, and managed the farm, played on the pianoforte, and sung during the evening. He had been in to Mecklenburgh, where the soil is stiff and fertile, to learn farming, and had brought back with him a sufficient knowledge of the methods practised in that country, heartily to despise his own sand, and the means employed to cultivate it. Learning is very often blind, and he wanted to carry into practice here the methods of Mecklenburgh, though he was not persuaded they would answer; and the obvious and only means of making his sand fertile by artificial irrigation, or mixing other soils with it, had never occurred to him. It is by such means as these, however, that the Edition: current; Page: [180] land is any where made fertile, and probably they are the only ones which can render it productive.

I was fortunate, the following day, to have the schoolmaster and parish-clerk of a neighbouring village as a companion to Lüneburg. The people here, he said, did not like learning much; they were sensible of the value of reading and writing, and calculating a money account, and they encouraged their children to learn them, but they did not comprehend what was the use of geography or natural history, and all his laudable attempts to teach them to the children failed, because they were laughed at by the parents. One old peasant had heard something of his opinions as to the moon’s being inhabited, and as to the stars being not mere shining sparks, but other suns giving light to other worlds, containing millions of beings like ourselves, and he had come to him and questioned him very magisterially if such were his belief. The schoolmaster said he had not seen the inhabitants himself, but that such opinions were entertained by very great and wise men, and therefore he verily believed them. On this the old man cried out against him as a heathen, who wanted to destroy the religion of the land, made complaints against him, and endeavoured to get him dismissed. He had not succeeded, and had only made the schoolmaster form an unfavourable opinion of the Bauers.

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Something may be learnt of the character of a people from their common phrases. The schoolmaster described an old woman of his parish, who was obliged to have some support given her, because her only son had remained on the field of battle. Erist geblieben is the common German phrase for expressing that a man has been killed in war. It is also a phrase which is in ordinary use for remaining or staying, and is totally unconnected with any emotion either of glory or honour. Its use shews accurately how the feelings of these people on this important subject have been degraded to the most perfect indifference by a long series of wars, and by the practice of selling them to fight the battles of other nations.

The town of Lüneburg is a very ancient place, as may be learnt not only from the appearance of the buildings, but also from a short description and history of it, written by the Zöllner, Toll-gatherer, at Lüneburg, Mr Urb. Friedr. Christoph. Manecke, who, with true compiling German diligence, gives a list of no less than 46 works, which had supplied materials for his book of 150 pages. The steeples are all built of red brick, and have an ugly, and indeed frightful appearance. There is not one which does not give the idea of danger from being apparently ready to fall. Mr Manecke says they have been exposed to various accidents, owing to their weight, and the ground not being Edition: current; Page: [182] very firm on which they are built. They have also been struck with lightning, and have been burnt. It is an heterodox taste not to admire steeples. Yet, after having seen some of the finest of the world, I confess my heretical eyes have never discovered any beauty in the modern Babels. And I may be allowed to hope, for the benefit of all nervous people, that no Babel taste will be suffered to waste the grant which has been made to build new churches on building new steeples.

Lüneburg is going to decay, and from the immense quantity of bricks which have been employed in the buildings, it promises to be at some future day what Rome has before been, a quarry, though a small one, out of which materials will be dug for other buildings. Several circumstances, such as the situation of Lüneburg, on a navigable river, and the salt and the lime which are found in its neighbourhood will always preserve it from total destruction; but it has now less commerce and wealth than formerly. The town once took part in the herring-fishery, had twice as many brewers as there are at present, and not one of the present ones are rich; it had formerly several manufactories of frieze, woollen and cotton cloths, all of which have decayed. The lime-burning and salt-making remain, but one great source of the prosperity of the town, the trade from Hamburg, is much diminished. Nearly 50 vessels Edition: current; Page: [183] were formerly employed, there are not above 30 at present. I shall endeavour to explain the causes of the diminution of the commerce of Hannover, generally at a later period, and therefore only here observe, that one cause why the trade of Lüneburg is diminished, is some new tolls which the King of Prussia has laid on all things coming into his dominions, or passing through them by land, in order to force the commerce of Germany so much as possible by the Elbe and by Magdeburg. It would hardly be supposed that a toll on land-carriage was necessary to make the people prefer water-carriage, but so it is in this country, even where the roads are in such an execrable state, that, on entering Lüneburg, I saw two waggons, each with ten horses, to draw a load that, on good roads, would require four.

In its history, Lüneburg resembles the other towns of the north of Germany. In early days, it was united with the Hanse towns, had a magistracy independent of the crown, and a flourishing trade. It gradually fell more under the power of the sovereign, who took the great sources of its trade into his own hands, and subjected the whole of it to his regulations. Its magistracy became dependent on him, and its trade decayed.

A limestone rock, close to the town, may be considered as a curiosity. There are two other spots in the neighbourhood where limestone is Edition: current; Page: [184] broken, but this rock, rising to the height of 150 feet above the sandy flat country, and perfectly isolated, seems brought there, according to a German author, by enchantment. It is, I believe, a sulphat of lime. The strata lie in confused and broken masses, and contain very fine crystals. Like most of what is useful in this country, except air and light, it is the property of the sovereign, but he lets it for a certain sum per year. The services of a certain number of condemned persons are also let with it, who are employed in breaking, burning, and grinding, the lime. It forms a considerable article of trade, and much of it goes to Hamburg.

At the foot of this rock there is a salt well, which could supply 4400 tons of salt per week; but as a market can only be found for about 20,000 tons in a year, the well is not very actively worked, and much of the water is allowed to run away. The manner in which Germany has always been a prey to its numerous governments, is explained by the fact, that when this country was occupied by the Prussians, his majesty of Prussia had no objection to his good town of Lüneburg supplying the rest of his dominions with cheap salt, and Lüneburg then exported 21,622 tons of salt in a year. Before that period, and since, its exports have not exceeded 7000 tons. Throughout Germany salt is a royal monopoly, and every monarch, anxious to Edition: current; Page: [185] sell his own, rarely allows that of any other royal trader to be sold within his dominions. The process of making it is very simple. The water is pumped up and evaporated by boiling till the salt remains, which is then dried, and it is fit for sale. Eighteen boilers are employed. As it is a royal manufactory, however, it has several inspectors and overseers, two or three salt-commissioners, and secretaries, besides clerks and accountants, and all that numerous class of servants, which always make royal monopolies the most expensive of all monopolies.

Close to Lüneburg a Herr von Meding lives on his own property, and cultivates it under his own direction. He has fine plantations of oak; sows wheat, and rye, and clover, like an experienced good farmer; pays his workmen by the piece; and has an improving estate.

I walked to a village called Pattenson to sleep. At a public-house called Einen Hof, where I stopped in my way, where every member of the family was ragged and dirty, where the house appeared never to be swept, and where there was no sign of either cleanliness or neatness; yet even there a person was kept partly to instruct the children. He had been a soldier and a servant, and taught the boys and girls reading, writing, arithmetic, and geography. He also assisted in the labours of the farm.

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I expected to find a good inn at Pattenson, but, after seeking through the whole place, a deaf and dumb man, who, by his signs, would have done no dishonour to the Abbe Sicard, but who had never been out of his own village, explained to me that there was no other than the one at the door of which he was standing, and which had all the appearance of a very miserable ale-house. The woman could give me a bed, but it was first necessary to have the permission of the Amts-Vogt to lodge me. This is the title of a servant of the crown, who has a portion of its land to administer, and who is charged with the police and administration of justice in a certain district. We have no corresponding officers in England by whose title his can be translated. I had no objection to see an Amts-Vogt, and therefore went myself to obtain his permission. He was in a small chamber, surrounded with books and papers, and he either wished to practise or shew the little learning he had. He persisted in speaking French, though he could not make out a sentence without using German words, and it was then difficult to understand him. He understood it so little, that, after reading my passport, which was in French, he supposed I was Mr Gordon, our minister at Vienna, who had given it to me. This was a rare instance of presumption and ignorance. Pretension is common amongst the Germans, but it is generally combined Edition: current; Page: [187] with a portion of knowledge. Every German knows how to display and to make good, in the estimation of the world, all the talents he may possess, but there are very few whose pretensions are supported by so little as this gentleman’s were. He gave me permission to sleep.

The landlady was a mere peasant, but a civil well-behaved woman, and talked to me about tithes and taxes, and made many reflections on the calamities of life and the miseries of old age, as she placed before me a wooden trencher and the raw ham, Schinken, I was to have for supper. I have on many occasions found the women of this country, in her situation of life, more intelligent than the men, when the latter are neither schoolmasters nor magistrates. They are in all things the great managers, both of the house and of the farm, and therefore know more about them than the men. She described very accurately the ancient land-tax, of which the quota to be paid by each parish having been apportioned by the States, the individuals of the parish assessed themselves so as to make up this quota. She knew that the country had been examined and measured to levy a new land-tax; and she was perfectly sensible of what she suffered by tithes being taken in kind, and by a tax on persons, which, together, hardly allowed her to procure a subsistence. Yet she and her husband were at no time idle. In summer they cultivated their Edition: current; Page: [188] land together; in winter he dug and carried peat into the town for sale, while she, with the servants, spun and wove.

At ten o’clock, when the people should all have gone to bed, I was rather surprised to see a dozen young men and women, and amongst them the servants of the house, collected at the door and playing main chaude. It was a beautiful night, and this amusement lasted, with much laughter, and some very hearty slaps, till midnight. The last time I had played at this game was with the family of the public-house at the village of Simplon. I should have joined in it here with great pleasure, but I was not sure that my patience was equal to the pain inflicted by the hard hands of the peasantry. People who, after a day’s labour, can Edition: current; Page: [189] thus amuse themselves, and be happy, assuredly find a compensation in their own minds for the sterility of the land, and the disadvantages of their situation.

Part of the town of Harburg was destroyed by the French, with a village about a mile distant from it; but both are now rebuilt. It was Harburg which the French in a manner united to Hamburg, while Marshal Davoust governed the latter, by means of a very long wooden bridge and two flying bridges, over the two branches of the Elbe. The bridge was built over a swamp, close to Hamburg, and, with about two miles of road and the flying bridges, reached from one town to the other, a distance of at least six miles. It was all built of wood, but very strongly and substantially built, and capable of supporting the heaviest waggons. It was constructed in the short space of sixty-two days. Wherever Davoust’s power reached, from there he brought artizans, mechanics, labourers, and materials; he made every body work who could work, and for whom he could find an employment. No view of lasting utility could ever have persuaded the people of the country to have built it, but, when it was built, it ensured Hamburg so ready a communication with the dominions of Hannover, that it was probably worth preserving. The materials were, however, thought of more value than the bridge; it made boatmen less Edition: current; Page: [190] useful, and men were breaking it up. The present means of crossing from Harburg to Hamburg is a large sailing boat, which leaves Harburg every morning at seven o’clock, and Hamburg every evening at four. To cross at any other time by this route, that is direct from one town to the other, a boat must be hired expressly, which is rather expensive. There is a small boat ferries across a little distance above Harburg, but lands at a considerable distance from Hamburg. I crossed by it, and reached Hamburg at three o’clock. I was surprised to observe, as I crossed the Elbe, a steam-boat with English colours flying, on board of which was a band of music, and which occasionally fired salutes. It was a party of Britons celebrating in this manner the birth-day of their sovereign, and strengthening their loyalty by the joys of friendship and good cheer.

The road from Hannover to Hamburg traverses the province of Lüneburg, and such a short description of this province will here be subjoined as may enable the reader to form an idea of the German dominions of our sovereign.

Lüneburg is the largest, and, with one exception, the worst part of all the territories of Hannover. Its general character is flatness; its surface is drift sand, mixed with granite blocks; its produce is a stinted heather, on which a small but hardy race of sheep pick up a scanty nutriment. Edition: current; Page: [191] These, with their guardians, male and female, knitting brown worsted stockings, are very often the only inhabitants seen in this Arcadia of the north for many miles. The southern part of this province, where it touches on Hildesheim, is fertile. In the neighbourhood of the Elbe there are good marshes, and the land on the banks of many of the little streams is tolerably fertile. Wherever the hand of man has laboured and watered the soil, there it is not absolutely sterile; and the fine trees of various kinds which grow round all the houses and villages give reason to suppose that the sand is but on the surface, and that not far beneath it there is a congenial and a fruitful soil. There are many bogs and morasses in this province; and in many places, particularly where streams have forced their way to a considerable depth, a bright yellow marl is found, which, spread on the surface, binds and fertilizes the sand.

The principles of vegetation are not yet so thoroughly known that it may be positively asserted, that the only reason why sand is not productive is its incapacity to retain moisture. There are, however, some reasons to believe this is the principal cause. For example—wherever men have artificially watered it, there it becomes fruitful; wherever it lies so low that the water cannot leave it, there vegetation takes place; and, probably, it is nothing but this vegetation alternating Edition: current; Page: [192] with its destruction, occasioned by a large quantity of stagnant water, that has produced all those beds of peat or bogs which are found in this province, as well as in many other neglected parts or the world. Without industry, man has nothing; and until labour, directed by extensive knowledge, and stimulated by private interest, shall have been carefully applied to this province, it ought not to be affirmed that it is unproductive. It cannot be cultivated with the same expence as some other soils; but that it has been cultivated in places, in spite of the many disadvantages the people now labour under, and cultivated many years since when men were much more ignorant than they are now, are proofs, that, under the spur of that increasing population which ought to spread itself over Europe, these deserts might bloom into gardens. There can be little doubt that the now fertile Holland was once a morass like much of Lüneburg, and that the plains of Lombardy are indebted for all their fertility to that system of artificial irrigation at which the feeble descendants of the men who executed it are lost in wonder.

In the province of Lüneburg, and also generally all over the northern part of Germany, large masses of granite are found, which excite much surprise, and even wonder. Rude blocks lie on the surface, or are buried in the sand. Smaller pieces are Edition: current; Page: [193] found deeper buried, all the angles of which are worn away by the violent action of water; but there are no granite mountains in the neighbourhood. Amongst the persons who have attended to the subject there is a difference of opinion as to what cause brought and scattered these stones all over the country. There is a traditional opinion that there formerly existed to the southward of the Erzgebirge, or Saxon and Bohemian Alps, an immense lake, which at length forced an opening for itself in what is now the channel of the Elbe, and through the neighbouring broken and destroyed rocks of the Switzerland of Saxony. It is said that these waters carried with them all those stones and sands which now cover the surface of the north of Germany. It is at least certain that the sand and the stones have been brought by the same cause, for the latter are found buried at a considerable depth in the former. It is one occupation of the peasants, when all the larger stones have been cleared away from the surface, to seek for them under it by means of an iron probe. When any are discovered, they are dug up, and employed to mend the roads, and to build walls and houses.

The professor of mineralogy at Göttingen, Mr Hauseman, however, thinks they must have had a different origin. He has examined them attentively, and affirms, I believe, that there is no granite rocks similar to these stones to be found in Edition: current; Page: [194] the neighbourhood of the Alps above mentioned, and that similar rocks are only to be found on the coast of Scandinavia. Hence he is inclined to suppose these stones and sand must have been conveyed from Norway to Germany. It is not for me to decide between tradition and learning, but only to remark, that, whatever might have been the cause of this phenomenon, it is one proof of those numerous and mighty changes which have taken place on the surface of the earth.

To support the tradition, it may, however, be mentioned, that to this day the Weser, the Elbe, the Ems, and nearly all the other rivers of the north of Germany, bring down, in great floods, large quantities of sand, which they deposit in their course, and which, as it dries, is often blown over the land. It is also a fact, that all the land at the mouths of these rivers, and in Holland, which has been embanked from the sea, is more clay than sand, and is extremely fertile. It seems, therefore, more rational to attribute the sand which covers the north of Germany to the action, but at some former period more violent action than at present, of its own waters, than to the action of the ocean, or to suppose that this sand has grown out of, or has been left by, the sea.

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CHAPTER VI.: hamburg, and free towns of germany.

A contrast.—Jung fern Stieg.—Altona road.—Activity.—Affluence and cleanliness.—A custom.—Buildings.—Börsen Halle.—Country houses.—Rainvill’s garden.—Klopstock’s grave.—A part of his character.—Dancing saloons.—Number of children born out of marriage.—Effects on moral character.—Education.—System for the relief of the poor.—Professor Büsch.—Theatre.—Otto von Wittelsbach.—Commercial travellers.—Commercialinns.—Formation of the Hanseatic league.—Former extent.—Present influence of Hanse towns.—Number of free towns.—Present form of government.—Senates.—Citizens.—Their share in the government.—Quantity of jurisconsults.—Commissions conciliatrice.—Leave Hamburg.

There is a great contrast between the silent town of Hannover, the quiet and almost deserted sands of Lüneburg, and the crowds, the activity, and the bustle of Hamburg. They are trifling to a person who is wafted from London; but they appear extraordinary to an inhabitant of Hannover, when he visits Hamburg for the first time. He is lost in amazement, and thinks he can never sufficiently expatiate on the animation that excites so much wonder. This shews how calm, regular, Edition: current; Page: [196] methodical, and even dull, Hannover is, compared with Hamburg. Some Hannoverians had described to me, with exstacy, a public promenade at Hamburg, called the Jungfern Stieg, and I had been so long accustomed to their own quietness, that I was almost prepared to join in their opinions, when I saw the quantity of people and of apparent enjoyment on this walk on the evening of my arrival in Hamburg.

Its name, translated, signifies Maiden’s Stile; and, if I might judge from what I saw there, it has always been much frequented by a class of ladies, who are very numerous and famous in Hamburg, and who generally remain for the whole of their lives maidens in the eye of the law. On one side, through its whole length, there is a row of handsome houses, a broad carriage road, a walk planted with four rows of trees, and the other side is bounded by a small handsome lake formed by the Alster, a river that flows into the Elbe at Hamburg. The coffee-houses may almost vie with those of the Palais Royal for splendour; and, towards evening, it seemed as if the whole population of the town were collected on this single spot. The busy hum of the conversation of such a multitude, and their restless movement, was like the waves as they break on the shore. Many were walking. Many were sitting about the coffee-houses, or on benches, and many were idly gazing on the still Edition: current; Page: [197] waters. It was a beautiful summer’s evening, and the moon shone both in the heavens and in the lake. Several boats floated on it, and the people in them were still, and seemed more disposed to enjoy than to disturb the serenity. The multitude were of all ages, of all descriptions, and of all countries; and remained enjoying themselves late in the night. In other parts of Germany, the people go quietly home, and to bed, towards ten o’clock; but, at midnight, the walk was yet crowded, and it was long after before all the revellers had retired. Such is the luxury or profligacy of commercial cities.

On Sunday afternoon the town appeared deserted, its whole population were passing on the road between Hamburg and Altona. The gay and the wealthy were gallopping on horseback, or rattling along in a sort of wicker carriages, many of which were standing ready to be hired; the modest and the middling classes were hurrying out of the dust to reach some of the delightful public gardens which lie on the banks of the Elbe. The poorer people sought their pleasure in the cabarets of the neighbourhood, or in looking at curiosities and wonders which they probably saw every Sunday. Wild beasts, and stalls for the sale of old books, fruit-sellers, dealers in earthenware and in old iron, fiddlers, hand-organ players, and Punch, fortune-tellers, and men inviting the passer by to game, some Edition: current; Page: [198] bawling English blacking, and others praising as wonderful for its virtues Dutch cement, curiosities both dead and alive, here a remarkable calf, and there a penny show, booths in which feats of horse-manship and wire dancing were exhibited: In short, some amusements and follies of all kinds were collected on this single spot, and it may be doubted if the motley scene could be surpassed by any thing at Naples, or on the Boulevards of Paris. All this in a German town, and on a Sunday, surprised me. Dancing on a Sunday evening is every where common, but the greater part of the day is devoted to revelry and shows only at Hamburg. It resembles Paris on Sunday. And on week days, when the quays, the streets, and the change are crowded with people of all countries, it resembles London.

Although the hospitable magistrates have given protection to several persecuted classes of men, and have enlarged and enriched their city by opening her gates to the natives of Antwerp when that town was taken by the Spaniards, to the Jews who were driven from Portugal, to the French who fled at the revocation of the edict of Nantes, and lastly, to those who fled from the French Revolution; yet Hamburg must always be considered as a German town. Though mixed with foreigners, the people are, in their language and customs, German. It is situated at the very northern part of Germany, where the national characteristics of dulness Edition: current; Page: [199] and heaviness are said to be strongest, but whenever they are applied to the whole German people, they ought to receive many limitations. Activity is generally proportionate to the density of population. The inhabitants of Berlin, of Hamburg, of the kingdom of Wirtemberg, and of the provinces on the Rhine, are notoriously the most active of all the Germans; and in all these places, the population is proportionately crowded. That the peasants who are thinly scattered over the sandy plains of the north without one large city betwixt Berlin and Hamburg, or betwixt Frankfort and Copenhagen, are dull and heavy, may be true, but these characteristics are not true of the inhabitants of these cities, and particularly they are not true of the inhabitants of Hamburg, who have always participated in the management of their own affairs, and whose industry has not been controlled or limited by an arbitrary government.

It was principally between Altona and Hamburg that the French destroyed so many buildings when they had possession of the town. Several ruins remain, and those houses which have been rebuilt have been run up in a hasty manner; many of them are small and ill-looking, which gave the place itself, animated as it was, a very shabby mean appearance.

A native of our own country, who has not resided for some time out of it, would scarcely remark Edition: current; Page: [200] as peculiar the apparent comfort, cleanliness, and affluence, which struck me as distinguishing the people of Hamburg. I was indebted for the observation, and for the pleasure which contemplating the enjoyments of our fellow creatures gives, to my residence in a poorer country. All around the city there are several little distinct districts, or lands, some of them are dependant on Hamburg, and some on Hannover. These districts are generally rich marsh lands; their inhabitants are extremely wealthy, and the women are said to wear on gala days diamonds and jewels that are splendid enough to adorn a princess. Each of these districts has a costume somewhat resembling the costumes of the Swiss, and the people, who are generally handsome, look neat and gay. Before reaching the town, I had seen many of them, their larger and better houses, their finely painted milk-pails, with polished hoops, and their cleanly appearance, plainly indicated more affluence than I had lately seen. They give the market of Hamburg, where they stand, selling flowers or fruits, or watching the piles of vegetables ready to be sold, a gay and animated appearance. The servants and the workmen were all neatly and well dressed. I saw nothing like poverty and wretchedness, and with better clothes the people looked handsome and healthy. Cynics may rail at affluence and luxury, Edition: current; Page: [201] but the beauty of the human face and figure, which seems to be increased as men live in ease and enjoyment, proves their advantages. Excessive labour and poverty distort and disfigure the form. I was sensible of this as I looked on the people and the enjoyment at Hamburg, and as I recollected the unwashed faces, dishevelled hair, neglected clothes, and squalid persons of the scattered inhabitants of the sands of Germany. Good living and luxury appeared to have had so great an influence, that I could hardly believe the people were all Germans.

Almost every woman of Hamburg carries, when she goes abroad, a small long basket under her arm, which is covered and concealed by a shawl employed solely to hide it. Every one provides herself with the handsomest shawl her means can procure; it is often better than any article of the dress, and those used by servants of opulent families are of considerable value, and descend like an heir loom from mother to daughter for several generations. Scandal has been very busy with the fame of those ladies who carry baskets, but if all these are of doubtful reputation, they amount to at least half the females of Hamburg. The baskets and shawls give an air of gentility and of intrigue, and curiosity wishes to know what it is which is so carefully concealed.

Hamburg is very well situated to be kept clean, a branch of the Elbe washes it, and the Alster, the Edition: current; Page: [202] little river before mentioned, runs through the town in two small streams. Yet it has not been improved in proportion to the goodness of its situation, and the wealth of its inhabitants. The streets are narrow, crooked, and ill paved, the houses are badly built, and huddled together, and when good-looking, can be rarely seen. The public buildings are large, but not handsome, and most of the churches are great masses of red brick, all the steeples of which, having sunk, now lean on one side, and look ready to fall. No pains seem to be taken to keep the town clean, the canals were suffered to be without water, and emitted in the warm weather most unhealthy smells. St Michael’s church is modern, and possesses the advantage of standing in an open place, where it can be seen. It is a very second rate building, in which all the faults of Italian architecture are carried to a ridiculous excess. It is well proportioned, and had the architect only spared himself the trouble of the ornaments, had he left out his pilasters on high pedestals, and not cut his cornice into innumerable angles, had he made the building as simple as possible, it might have been elegant. But at present it has a heavy and gloomy appearance.

The handsomest building in Hamburg is the Börsen Halle, but unfortunately this is situated in so narrow a street, that it can be scarcely seen. It is the coffee-house of the merchants, where they meet Edition: current; Page: [203] to hear and tell the news, to smoke their segars, and plan their speculations, with every mercantile information at their command. Newspapers, current prices, journals, periodical publications, every thing necessary to the merchant is collected. In the building are reading-rooms, ballrooms, a library, a coffee-house, a restaurateur, and every kind of refreshment both for body and mind. It is supported by subscription; strangers are admitted, on being introduced. The rooms are splendid, and the accommodation excellent. A mercantile newspaper is published in the same building, which is known all over Germany, and perhaps in every commercial town in Europe. The Halle is open the whole day, but it is most frequented a few hours before and after change time. In ornamenting such places, rather than in building churches, the merchants of Hamburg like to display their wealth; in them, in their houses, and places of amusement, you can form an idea of their affluence.

I found the environs of Hamburg delightful. The noble Elbe, smooth as a mirror, was uniting its waters to the ocean, and reflecting gloriously the rays of the sun. Below Hamburg the land rises rather abruptly from the river, and its bank is adorned with well laid out gardens and fine houses. The beauty is rather in the territories of Denmark than in those of Hamburg, but much of Edition: current; Page: [204] it is owing to the merchants of the latter, who have employed their wealth to adorn this part of the country. There are few parts of the world which are so abundant in signs of human happiness as the environs of London. The nice houses and gardens; the windows ornamented with flowers and curtains; the regular and beautiful walks, are all signs of enjoyment. There each house has the appearance of being the comfortable habitation of a family, and the joys of the inner chambers are not less dear to our hearts than the gaiety of the outsides to our eyes. The environs of Hamburg present similar pictures of human felicity. The merchants employ their wealth to make themselves and their families comfortable and healthy houses, removed from the close and crowded city. They may have borrowed this taste from us; but it seems natural, and, whenever men are not dazzled and corrupted by their idle reverence for monarchs, they will assuredly make comfortable dwellings for the mass of the society before they build palaces for the few.

The Hamburgers are greedy of amusement, and the environs of the city abound in houses of entertainment. One of these, from its elegance and beauty, deserves to be mentioned. A little below Ottenson, a small village, farther than Altona from Hamburgh, is a beautiful garden, which, in point of situation and neatness, may vie with any of the Edition: current; Page: [205] world. It occupies the rising bank of the Elbe, and commands a view of the river and opposite coast. On the summit of the hill stands the house, which is elegantly furnished. Every kind of refreshment may be procured. That never-failing accompaniment of such places in Germany, a band of music, filled the still and fragrant air with sweet sounds. You sip coffee, or lave your lips with wine, under the shade of fine trees; you throw your eyes over the wide and majestic Elbe, and, music sounding from a distance, makes the scene a sort of paradise. The general calmness and gentleness of the people allow no noise and turbulence. They were like the place, still, and yet happy. It is called the “Rainvillsiche Garten,”—Rainvill’s Garden,—is one of the favourite resorts of the best company of Hamburg, and does honour to their taste.

No stranger goes to Ottenson without visiting the grave of Klopstock, who is buried in the church-yard, beneath the large linden tree, under which he delighted to sit. His second wife is buried beside him, and two plain stones mark their graves. Some lines from the Messiah are sculptured on his tombstone, but they are so much scribbled over by the names of visitants, every one of whom is of more consequence than Klopstock, that his name can scarcely be read. He could not have chosen a more delightful residence than the neighbourhood Edition: current; Page: [206] of Hamburg. The country is beautiful, and the society of the town is equal to the society of any town of Germany. He appears to have been in one point—perhaps he was in many—like our own Gray. He wished to be thought a gentleman, or a man of the world, rather than a poet; he assumed the appearance and behaviour of a polished courtier, and when his auditors expected to hear him talk of the laws of rythme, or the difficulties he had found in executing his own productions,—when they expected to gather from him the wisdom of poetry and of inspiration, he talked to them of skaiting and of managing horses. As Goethe was beginning to be known in the world, Klopstock was at the height of his reputation; and the latter visited the former at Frankfort, on his way to Carlsruhe. The young poet expected to have learnt much from his senior relative to their art. Klopstock, however, recommended to him the skaits which were used in Friezland as better than those used in Germany. Goethe procured himself a pair, which, as he is a great lover of relics and antiquities, he probably preserves to the present day. Hagedorn, another early German poet of some celebrity, also lived and wrote the greater part of his works in the neighbourhood of Hamburg. In Ottenson church-yard, the Duke of Brunswick, who was before mentioned, is also buried. The little spot contains the dust of a prince Edition: current; Page: [207] who was honoured as a hero and of an illustrious poet.

The wealth of the inhabitants of Hamburg, and their love of amusement, is also shewn in their dancing saloons, which are splendid and numerous. There is one by Altona, intended for every description of persons, which merits the character of a superb room. Such places are constantly visited, particularly on Sundays and holidays, by the young of both sexes. Some are frequented only by females of lost reputation. There is one such, called the Hall of Apollo, which is one of the most splendid rooms in the whole town, and which is occasionally visited by a class of persons who, in our country, would regard it as a profanation. My attention was directed to it by a middle aged citizen of the middling classes of life, who spoke of it in presence of his wife, and several other persons, as a place which all strangers visited, and where he had no objection to accompany his friends. There is something of decency about the haunts of vice on the continent, that while it renders them more dangerous, does not invest them with that character of terror and blackguardism which belongs to them in our country. Their decency is, in truth, their greatest evil, as it leaves young men no motives arising from disgust, from delicacy or prudence, to avoid them.

Such assemblies, and the opinion entertained Edition: current; Page: [208] with regard to them, must have a powerful influence on morals; it may perhaps be traced in the number of children born out of marriage. In Hamburg, in 1817, the whole number of births was 3589, out of which 338 were the children of parents not married. The proportion of natural to legitimate children was one to ten and a half. Hamburg has the name of a free town, and because many persons are ready to attribute every crime and every disorder to freedom, it is necessary to remind the reader that similar assemblies, if they are not so splendid, are equally numerous in the royal residences of Berlin, Vienna, and Paris, and in Berlin they are certainly more libertine and profligate.

The number of children born out of marriage is also equally great, and greater in royal cities, than in the free town of Hamburg. In Paris, in the year 1815, out of 22,612 births, 8976 were children born out of marriage. The proportion is here more than one third. In Petersburgh, in 1816, it was one out of seven;—7888 was the number of births, and 1111 of these were natural children. I have also met some accounts of the children baptized in Dresden, but they did not extend to a great period, and therefore do not justify any general conclusion. The proportion of children born out of marriage was, however, as one to four. In the provinces of Bremen and Verden, in the year 1791, the whole number of births was Edition: current; Page: [209] 5873; of these 255 were children born out of marriage; in 1792, the whole number was 5775, and then the children born out of marriage were 280; in the first year the proportion was one to twenty-two, in the second, one to twenty. In Paris there are four times as many, in Dresden twice as many, and in Petersburgh one third more children, proportionately, born out of marriage than in Hamburg, while in the province of Bremen there was more than a half less. This latter was, however, the proportion of a period long past, and there may now be a great difference.

Were all these children the result of a loose and promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, if their fathers took no further notice nor care of them, they would mark a most deplorable state of society; but there is reason to believe, that, in France and in Germany, the parents of many of the children live constantly together, and that nothing is wanting to the legitimacy of their union but the mere ceremony of marriage.

It is a matter of surprise how magistrates and legislators, who take on themselves the task of preventing crimes, not only tolerate, but license Edition: current; Page: [210] places where the temptation to commit them is hatched; how they can take away a life for forgery, and sanction that dissipation to participate in which forgery is committed; how they who take on themselves to prescribe all the actions of their fellow men, can permit them to frequent assemblies in which manly virtue, and all the better affections of the heart, are sacrificed on the altar of low sensuality. But legislators are ignorant of the mischiefs, and careless of the consequences, of laws. They have in their youth trod in the enchanted circle of dissipation, and ever afterwards live on in its delusions. Their ambition is not, and never has been, to make men good, but to make them obedient; and there is reason to believe they have often seduced nations to be criminal that they might be rendered more tractable. Their desire is to govern, and, for the sake of a paltry revenue, as a means of governing, they license prostitutes and sanction gambling. They substitute their laws for the laws of nature; they usurp the authority which reason ought to have over men, and, when they have taught the human race to look only to them, to bow in obedience to their authority, they teach one species of immorality by their commands, and another by neglecting to forbid it. We accordingly find, in the much governed countries of Germany, that men, otherwise decent and respectable, frequent assemblies, without a blush, which, Edition: current; Page: [211] in countries where the cares of the government are somewhat less extensive, where the people think more for themselves, no man could visit without reproach.

The establishments for education in Hamburg are very good. Every parish, of which there are five, has its own school, where the poor are taught reading, writing, arithmetic, and religion, free of expence. Exclusive of these, there is a school destined for the children of paupers,—Die Industrie und Arbeit Schule,—in which they are taught the above useful arts, and also how to perform various sorts of work. There are several schools of a better sort. There is a high-school, in which the classical languages are taught, and there is what is called a Gymnasium, in which young men are prepared for the university; but Hamburg itself has no university. In most parts of Germany the whole education is completely under the control of the magistracy, while in Hamburg there are many private schools.

When the French were in possession of Hamburg, they suspended the establishment which formerly provided for the relief of the poor. When it was in activity not a beggar was to be seen, and before it was established they were so numerous, that it was impossible to walk the streets without being very much annoyed by them. During the time its operations were suspended, the evil again Edition: current; Page: [212] grew intolerable; they are now resumed, and, during my stay in Hamburg, I saw only three beggars, at the moment I was about to depart. They had taken their station at the common landing-place, were most wretched-looking, and were very importunate in their demands. It is forbidden by the laws to give alms, under a penalty of five R. Thalers, half of which is to be given to the beggar if he informs against the giver. Indiscriminate alms given is not a virtue; but I am slow to believe any general rule can be the exact measure to which our charities ought to extend, and I am unwilling to think that the good of society can ever demand a law for the suppression of our benevolent affections. This is something worse. It bribes villany to smite charity.

The establishment dates from the year 1788, and was supported by all the power of the government. The superior part of it consisted of an upper poor committee, composed of five senators, two elders of the parishes, and twenty citizens. In this committee, the treasurers of the churches, the chiefs of the orphan-house, of the hospital, and of the penitentiary, had seats and votes. Their principal business was to provide employment for the poor, and to take care of the funds for their support. A smaller committee, consisting of twelve, directed those persons who claimed assistance to be employed, rewarded, or punished, according Edition: current; Page: [213] as they were in distress, were industrious, or were negligent. To promote the aim of the establishment, the town was divided into five districts, and each district was again divided into twelve quarters, and, as the town does not contain more than 107,000 inhabitants, each quarter could not contain, on an average, 2000. Each district had two overseers, and the respectable citizens in each quarter, in conjunction with the overseers, and under their guidance, looked after the poor in their quarter, and collected what funds they could for their support. They visited the houses, and inquired into the character of every person asking or needing succour. They ascertained what was the cause of their distress, and what was the best means of helping them. All these circumstances were marked on papers of a certain form, provided for that purpose, so that the whole life and character of every one of the poorer people became known to the magistrates, and was put on record. The industrious were encouraged, the idle were compelled to work, and those whose misconduct had brought misery on themselves, were otherwise punished. Care was taken that the children were all sent to school. It was, in fact, a most extensive police of citizens, and perhaps as efficient a one as could be established. There can be little doubt, that when it was vigorously followed out there would be no beggars, but the great mass of the Edition: current; Page: [214] poor would fall under the tutelage and care of the poor committees.

One of the principal promoters of this scheme was a Professor Büsch; and for his services to humanity, the citizens, under the guidance of a society which there is in Hamburg for the encouragement of the useful arts, have erected a monument to his honour. It is placed on the walls of the town, which are converted into a promenade. It is a simple obelisk on a pedestal of granite, on which is a medallion of Büsch, and some figures, emblematical of learning, and of the peaceful virtues of citizens. There is nothing to admire in the execution. The inhabitants of free towns in modern times, like the inhabitants of the free cities of ancient Greece, know how to honour merit; and, in the estimation of wisdom, the world is likely to be more benefited by a monument to such a man as Büsch than by all those which are erected to commemorate victories, which are at the same time defeats,—which are glory to one nation, but shame to another. Modern wars are made from such a calculating policy, that the merit of being pre-eminently just rarely belongs to any one party.

The theatre of Hamburg does the wealth of the citizens no honour. It is a small, ill built, ill looking house; but the company of performers is generally supposed to be the third best of Germany. Those of the Court, or of the Burg theatre Edition: current; Page: [215] at Vienna, and of the theatre at Berlin, are superior; but Hamburg has given birth to and nourished a great variety of talent. The celebrated Madame Shröder is a native of Hamburg, and received her theatrical education there. The manner in which Otto von Wittelsbach, a tragedy, written by a Professor Babo of Munich, was represented, gave me a favourable opinion of the performers, particularly of a Mr Herzfeld, who both looked and played the high-spirited, open-hearted, generous, disappointed, fierce, and insulted Otto very well. The tragedy is written in prose, but the fable is good, and the language plain and neat, and it is recommended to the Germans by its being taken from an event in their own history.

Otto was the friend and supporter of Philip of Suabia, whom he in a great measure helped to the imperial throne. Philip had promised him one of his daughters in marriage; but afterwards, out of policy, refused to give him either of them. And Otto, reconciled from supposing Philip’s conduct would promote the welfare of the state, assents to a proposal to assist the King of Poland, then engaged in war. He is too noble himself to suspect deceit in others; but Philip has a minister, who seeks, by the crooked paths of policy, to attain that security which is always reached by the strait ways of righteousness. The manner in which this minister leads his Edition: current; Page: [216] master from one step of state policy to another, till he makes the once noble Philip do the basest things, which fill him with fear and horror, is an instructive lesson. The minister hates the generous Otto; and, by his persuasion, the letter of recommendation which the emperor gives Otto to the King of Poland, warns the latter to be careful of him as a disturber of the public tranquillity. Otto confides the letter to his sword-bearer, who says, no seal ever yet hindered him from reading a letter, because he cannot read. In this he resembles his master, who had begun to learn, when the monk, his instructor, gave him a book, which began, “The vow of chastity, of poverty, and of obedience, is the only key to the door of heaven.” Otto threw the book away, and forgot his reading. The seal of the letter gets melted by chance, it is read to Otto by a friend, and he then discovers the manner in which Philip wished to impose on him; he returns to court, upbraids, and in the heat of altercation murders the emperor; he is put to the ban of the empire, his castle of Wittelsbach, the ancient seat of the “Agiolfinger,” is destroyed, and as he is about to leave it and his country on a pilgrimage, he is murdered.

I know no German tragedy which is so simple and plain, so clear from all absurd sympathies and powerful fates, and mysterious necessities to commit crime as this. It has not that vividness Edition: current; Page: [217] of character, and appropriate language, that admirable representation of old times which distinguished Goetz von Berlichingen; yet Otto is the very picture of a true knight, and the spirit of the manners of that time seems to have been caught and copied. Men of strong passions, whose conduct has been accurately described, who were unalloyed by affectation and unpolished by refinement, who lived for themselves, and so separated from the rest of the world, as to remain unaltered by its opinions, probably afford some of the best materials for tragedy. We are sufficiently acquainted with the character of the days of chivalry to appreciate the sentiments, and take an interest in the conduct of the persons who lived in those days. And a tragic author has little more to do than to copy the language which has been handed down to us as theirs. Professor Babo has done this, and he has succeeded. The piece, though not new, was received with great applause, much of which was undoubtedly due to the good acting of Mr Herzfeld.

I may here mention a class of men I have frequently met in Germany, but with whom I am not sufficiently acquainted to describe them accurately, more than by their outward marks. If you meet with two or three persons riding on horseback in company, and they have long rapiers hanging at their sides, and are well wrapped up in great coats and caps, with a little portmanteau Edition: current; Page: [218] strapped on behind their saddle, you may be sure they are mercantile travellers. If the colour of their clothes approaches grey, and are rather coarse, if they boast of the excellence of German manufactories, and exalt the patriotism of using only them, if they have a mortal hatred for English manufacturers and machinery, if their manners are rather presumptuous and coarse, like men grown suddenly rich, and they are rather dirty and slovenly in their persons; they are of the same class of people, but they surely come from the neighbourhood of the Rhine, from Elberfeld, or Sölingen. The riders I have seen in all parts of Germany, and I have occasionally associated with the sect at Leipsic, Hamburg, Bremen, Frankfort, and in Holland, and I have found them every where alike.

They are a numerous class of men, as the whole commerce of Germany is yet much more carried on through them than through the ordinary post. They are more usually partners than hired persons. From the nature of their pursuits, from their mixing much with society, and from their having shared in that good education which is given to every child in their country, they are some of its most shrewd and practical men. Their business teaches them not to confine their love to any tract of Germany, and the impediments they feel to their success from the numerous governments, makes them Edition: current; Page: [219] rational and steady patriots. Several petitions and remonstrances which have been sent from the commercial class to the diet at Frankfort, and to the sovereign of Prussia, relative to a freedom of trade for all parts of Germany, and to giving free constitutions to their country; and some very spirited and well reasoned articles on some branches of political economy which have frequently found their way into the Allgemeine Zeitung, published at Stutgard, and which were the production of some of this class of men residing on the Rhine, shew in what manner they begin to interest themselves in politics. They are united by interest, they have frequent opportunities of communicating with each other, and they can give weight to their sentiments. They have suffered from an alteration in the course of trade, are yet ignorant how beneficial a free intercourse between nations is, and they are led by their apparent interest to wish for laws restricting the importation of French and English articles, and to ask for a monopoly. With these natural defects, and with too great an habitual love for amusement, they are certainly to be ranked amongst the most active and political of all the German people.

There are two points in which they excel; they are not noble, they belong to no caste, and are, of course, opposed to exclusive privileges; and they do not form incorporated trades, and are, therefore, Edition: current; Page: [220] not opposed to a free exercise of the industry of any citizen. They are gathering wealth and political power, and untainted with the metaphysics of the philosophers, the technicalities of the lawyers, and the enthusiasm of the students, and far removed from the ignorance and degradation of the peasants, may be looked on as some of the most sane and healthy minded people of Germany. They are neither visionarily mad, nor practically slaves. There were not less than eighty persons of this description from all parts of Germany, who dined at the table d’hôte every day, who were constantly going and coming, and who afforded an endless change of faces and of society.

In commercial inns a mere idle traveller finds no companions, for every other inhabitant has his distinct occupations and friends, who find him amusement when he is not employed. Nor are such inns to be recommended to those who pine after comfort and repose, and who are desirous of having all the little scraps of information which are usually supplied by an intelligent waiter, or a valet-de-place. They are, however, worth visiting; at them you feed excellently, the conversation is always animated and loud; the opinions of this class of men merit attention, and the large parties which assemble form a singular feature in society. Never but in Germany, and in commercial towns, Edition: current; Page: [221] have I seen a table d’hôte which was habitually frequented by more than sixty persons.

The end of the thirteenth, and the beginning of the fourteenth centuries, seem to have been fruitful in associations to obtain or preserve freedom. The Hanseatic league, though neither the first nor the last, became one of the most powerful of such associations, and, with the exception of the union of the Swiss, has lasted longer than any other. A union of the cities on the Rhine, which was also formed for the purpose of protecting their property, and giving security to that commerce which was just then beginning to spread civilization over Europe, preceded the Hanseatic league. These unions were not copied from one another, but were, in each instance, the result of a necessity to protect the property of merchants from the ravages of freebooters; and the mercantile classes, relying on themselves, united together for protection and security. They are remarkable instances of a common interest uniting men who lived under different governments, who were separated from each other, and who wanted the magic bond of a common country. At that time men defended one another because they were injured. Now, they do it, because they are subjects or slaves of the same monarch.

In the fourteenth century, the Hanseatic league comprised almost all the considerable towns of Germany Edition: current; Page: [222] and Holland. The number was at one time sixty-two, and though they were too much scattered to act well together, their common interest held them united, and made them at that period formidable to all the sovereigns of the Continent. The power of these latter, however, became gradually too great to be resisted by scattered individual towns; and each of them fell in its turn under the sway of some prince. A change of commerce reduced the prosperity of some of the towns, and the powerful league was at length again reduced to the two cities with whom it originated, Hamburg and Lubeck, and their later sister Bremen. They are probably indebted for their continued independence to the distance at which they are situated from any power capable of conquering and retaining them with advantage.

Hamburg has been often assailed by the Danes, but they always wanted power sufficient to subdue it, supported as it was by the other Hanse towns, and sometimes by the intercession, if not by the arms of the emperor. It was obliged, however, to purchase in 1768 a resignation from Denmark of the right it claimed to the town, and a future security from attack.

Some account of the present state of the governments of these three towns will be interesting, not only from their antiquity, and from the honourable place they hold in history, but also from the influence Edition: current; Page: [223] they are likely to have on the future prosperity of that people, whose language their inhabitants speak. They are far removed from the other busy parts of Germany, and, from the facility of communication by water, have almost so much to do with Britain as with Germany. But they are the great emporiums for the commerce of this latter country, and are constantly visited by crowds of travellers and merchants from every part of it. Their language is German, their publications spread through Germany, their customs, their freedom itself, their laws are German, and though they possess none of that lofty fame which dazzles and deludes, yet, from their prosperity, they are likely to enjoy a considerable influence on opinion. Their newspapers, particularly the “Deutsche Beobacter,” published at Hamburg, warmly espouse the side of liberality, and are much read in Germany. Though separated from the active parts of it by large districts of sand, they can thus make their voice be heard on the far side, and may help their countrymen in those rational struggles they have now commenced, to obtain political freedom, through the medium of opinion. As an example of the influence of their press, I may mention, that the newspaper of Bremen was the first to publish an account of a man being tortured in Hannover in 1818, which then attracted the notice of the literary public of Germany, and since Edition: current; Page: [224] then the torture has been abolished in Hannover. Their interest, also, is most intimately connected with the freedom of trade in Germany, and as this can only be obtained through free constitutions being given to the rest of their countrymen, the press of the Hanse towns will assist in obtaining them. With commercial people freedom and prosperity must be synonymous terms, and the geographical situation alone of these towns must make their inhabitants admirers of freedom.

In a mere literary point of view, I am not so able to appreciate their effects, but it may be remarked, that Klopstock lived and wrote in Hamburg, and that Goethe was born and educated in Frankfort. And, according to the general principle, of liberty being the mother of talents, it may be expected that the natives of the free towns should, in no case, be behind the inhabitants of the other parts of Germany.

The general form of the government of these three towns is the same. In name it is republican, and each is an independent sovereign. Under the empire they were subject to no control greater than that to which each individual sovereign was subject. There were formerly fifty-one free imperial towns in Germany, which were also republics, which had sovereign power within their own territories, but over which the emperor had in some measure extended his dominion rather more than Edition: current; Page: [225] over the princes of the empire. They were the principal seats of the wealth, civilization, and industry of Germany. At present Frankfort on the Maine is the only one remaining. All the rest have fallen under the dominion of different sovereigns. The alterations in society, from rude freedom to polished slavery, are nowhere more strongly marked than in the history of Germany. Political power, from having been much divided, has become gradually concentrated in the hands of a few sovereigns, and men have only lately learnt all the evils of this concentration. As Frankfort is now independent, and as it forms, with the three cities of Lubeck, Hamburg, and Bremen, a distinct part of the empire of Germany, and each one has a vote at the diet, I shall include Frankfort in the few observations I shall here make on their different constitutions.

Both the executive power and the power of administering justice are placed in all these towns, in the hands of a senate, which is composed, in Hamburg, of four bürgermeisters and twenty-four senators; in Lubeck of four bürgermeisters and sixteen senators; in Bremen also of four bürgermeisters and twenty-four senators; and in Frankfort of two bürgermeisters and forty-two senators. In the three Hanse towns the senates fill up all the vacancies which may occur by death in their own body. The qualifications requisite for Edition: current; Page: [226] a senator are, that the person is a citizen,—that he follows that Christian confession of faith which is followed by the city. In Bremen, for example, each member must be a Calvinist; in Hamburg, a Lutheran. He must be of a certain age,—not related in a certain degree to the other members of the senate,—and he must not be in the service of any foreign prince. In Frankfort the members of the senate are only required to be Christians, and the citizens take a small share in electing them. The senate elects six persons, and deputies chosen by the citizens elect six more. These twelve elect three persons, and of these three the senate chooses one. In this manner every vacancy is filled. In all these towns, therefore, the citizens, who are only a part of the people, have little or nothing to do with the election of their own magistrates.

When the towns of Germany first grew into importance, there were no large accumulation of capital in the hands of individual tradesmen. Each citizen had his own house, worked at his trade, had his single apprentice, and very often no journeyman. It was not at that time an unjust principle to regard him only as a citizen who possessed, within the walls, a house of a certain value, because, in fact, there were at that time few other inhabitants of towns than those who did possess a house. But in our times all this is altered. Large Edition: current; Page: [227] capitalists employ many men who constantly live in cities, but who can never accumulate, with the wages of their labour, a sufficiency of wealth to purchase a house in a city, where, from convenience of situation, every house has the value of a palace. And when the law makes it a necessary condition to obtaining the rights of a citizen, that a man shall possess a house of a certain value, all the people who cannot buy a house, and who, at the present day, are probably the majority of the society, are therefore excluded from the privileges of citizenship, by a regulation made under circumstances totally different from the present, and when the present circumstances could never have been contemplated or imagined.

Such a regulation as this is in force in most of the Hanse towns, and thus a large body of the inhabitants are excluded from every participation in political power. Thus, in Hamburg, those citizens only take part in public affairs who possess a house of their own which is worth 1000 Reichs Thalers, species, or about L. 200 Sterling, and who have had the right of citizenship conferred on them by the senate. To obtain them, also, it is necessary for the aspirant to prove that he is not noble,—not a Wende,—and not a Cerf—Leibeigner,—that he professes one of the three Christian confessions of faith,—and that he does not already possess the right of citizenship in any other city. In Frankfort, Edition: current; Page: [228] to be a citizen a man must possess 5000 florins, or L. 250 Sterling; but here the legislative body, at the recommendation of the senate, has the power to give the right of citizenship to persons of extraordinary talents, or who may otherwise have a claim on it, when they do not possess this sum. The rights of citizenship are in Lubeck and Bremen in the gift of the senate, and, in the latter city, to be permitted to take part in the public affairs, a man must possess 3000 Thalers species, or L. 600. It is not enough, in the eyes of legislators, that wealth has of itself a thousand charms, but they have increased its influence on the mind by giving it a multitude of privileges. In fact, it has now usurped all the power of legislation, and most penal laws are now made for the mere protection of wealth.

The senates must consult the citizens when new laws are to be made,—when new taxes are to be levied,—when war is to be made,—when a new religion is to be tolerated,—when the domanial property of the city is to be sold,—when the armed force is to be augmented,—and when any expences are to be incurred. The power to make propositions belongs entirely to the senate, and it makes them not directly to the mass of the citizens, but to different persons who represent them. In Lubeck the citizens assemble in twelve colleges, or guilds, according to their trades; each college Edition: current; Page: [229] appoints a certain number of elders, with whom the senate communicates in writing. In Bremen, the citizens, divided into four sections, appoint a certain number of notables who act for them, and who are called together by the senate, generally several times in the year.

Hamburg is divided into five parishes. Over the citizens of each of these parishes three elders have authority. They are called the college of fifteen elders. The college elects its own members from amongst the citizens of the different parishes. It also elects nine deacons for each parish, who, united with them, make together the college of sixty, and twenty-four subdeacons for each parish, who, united with the rest, make the college of 180. The elders elect, further, six adjoints for each parish, who, united to the others, make the whole number 210. When the citizens are called together to communicate with the senate, the members of these colleges must attend; the remainder of the citizens may if they please. Before any propositions are made to the whole of the citizens, they are communicated to the elders, and their opinion is asked as to the propriety of assembling the citizens, though they have no power to compel this when the senate does not please. When the citizens are called together, and 200 are assembled in the town-house, the bürgermeisters appear, and the propositions which the senate has to make are Edition: current; Page: [230] read. A copy of these is given to each of the five parishes, the members of which, with the senior elder of each parish for president, go into five separate chambers to deliberate, and each parish comes to a separate resolution. The elders of the different parishes now meet, and make, according to the resolutions of each parish, a joint resolution, which passes for the resolution of the citizens. If this agree with the propositions of the senate, it is then law. If the propositions are not agreed to, the senate may propose them again. Should they then be rejected, the senate, with the college of sixty, the elders, and the deacons, confer on the subject, and endeavour to come to an agreement. When this occurs, the citizens are again called together, and, as their leading men are now in unison with the senate, the propositions are generally assented to. Should an agreement not be obtained by these means,—should the citizens obstinately refuse their consent to the propositions, the senate retires them “from its great love for freedom and peace;” if it should obstinately persist, a deputation of twenty persons, half elected out of the senate, and by it, and half elected by the citizens, have a power given them, from which there is no appeal, to decide the question. From the power which the elders have of leading the debates, and of afterwards making the resolutions nearly what they please,—it appears that this should be called the senate Edition: current; Page: [231] communicating with the elders rather than with the citizens. There is reason to believe, from its having been found necessary to compel a certain number of persons to attend, that the citizens found themselves of no consequence in these assemblies, and therefore left off frequenting them. Hamburg, however, is the only one of the Hanse towns which has the least claim to the name of a popular government.

In Frankfort the citizens, that is, persons who possess L. 250 Sterling, and have had the rights of citizenship given them by the senate, are divided into three classes according to their ranks; the first are nobles, learned men, public servants, &c.; the second, bankers, merchants, retail traders, &c.; the third are mechanics, and persons not included in the two first classes. Each of these classes elects twenty-five deputies, by each of the members inscribing the names of twenty-five citizens on a piece of paper, and giving it in to the president, and they together making seventy-five, are the electing college, and elect forty-five persons who take part in making laws when the legislative body is called together. This election is renewed ever year. These forty-five elected members, twenty members of the senate chosen by it, and twenty members of what is called the permanent committee of the citizens, chosen by this committee, form the legislative body of Frankfort. The president is always a senator. This body is to be assembled Edition: current; Page: [232] once a year by the senate, and remains six weeks together. It is in the power of the senate to call them oftener, and to keep them longer together.

In describing the subjects on which the senates are generally obliged to consult the citizens, I described the duties and functions of this legislative body which represents the citizens. The permanent committee of citizens, mentioned above, consists of fifty-one originally elected by the citizens, the vacancies are afterwards filled by this committee, choosing six of its own members, who, with six of the forty-five representatives of the citizens, elect some persons to fill them. Their office is permanent, and six of them must be jurisconsults,—Rechtsgelehrte. The influence which this class of men have in Germany, and the number of them who are employed in every department of government, deserves to be remarked, and pondered on by all those who speculate on the further progress of German society. Thus of the twenty-four senators of Hamburg eleven must be jurisconsults, and three of the bürgermeisters, four secretaries, and four “Syndici,” who have the power to give advice, though not a right to vote in the senate, are all jurisconsults. Thus also in Bremen, of the thirty-eight persons who compose the magistracy, twenty-nine are jurisconsults. These are people learned in law, who have no other occupations but those of governing and judging, and no other emolument but what they derive from their Edition: current; Page: [233] trades. An equal proportion is to be found in all the governments of Germany.

Formerly in civil suits of a certain value, an appeal might be made from the decisions of the senates to the court of the empire. At present, there is no appeal but that of sending the papers of any process to some faculty of jurisprudence for their decision. It is intended to establish a court of appeal for the four free cities, but at present the senators possess, uncontrolled, the power of administering justice. When to this, and the share they take in legislation, is added, that they alone are the executive power, that the accounts of the expenditure, with the exception of Frankfort, are submitted only to them, and that they hold their offices for life, it appears to me, that, so far as form and paper constitutions go, the senates of all these towns have unlimited power; yet I believe no instance is known of their being guilty of oppression, or of their failing to support, to the utmost of their power, the general interest of their fellow-citizens. The favourable opinion which the citizens entertain of their governments, may be partly derived from they being much better than the governments of the surrounding monarchies. But so far as paper constitutions are imagined to be a security to the governed against the power of the governors, they appear to be perfect anomalies in Edition: current; Page: [234] politics; the people have no securities, and yet they are not oppressed.

The causes of the moderation of these gentlemen in the pursuit of power, as compared to the conduct of other governors, may be traced to their having little or no territory, above all, no valuable distant territory, and, consequently, they can have no revenues but what they derive from the citizens. They live amongst the people, and they are, therefore, so much under the influence of public opinion, as if they had no control over the press, and every third man were a political writer. Conversation, without public meetings, or official and authorized public bodies, gives a consistency and a force to public opinion which keeps the magistrates within the bounds prescribed by custom. What Villers has said of Lubeck, the government of which is notoriously a close oligarchy, in describing the constitutions of the Hanse towns, appears to me applicable to them all. “Le gouvernment de Lubeck semble être une convention de famille sans défiance et sans jalousie, où l’amour de la mère commune, où la bonne-foi rèciproque et le respect du contrat d’union tiennent lieu de limites et de vigilance active.”

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There is great difference between a form of government and principles of governing. It is of no consequence what the former is, provided the latter be right, though there may be some forms under which there is a greater probability that the principles will be right than under others. It is the form of the government of these free towns, its approach to an oligarchy of lawyers, which is wrong; the principles of governing, because they have always been subjected to the opinions of the people, are commensurate with the wisdom which the people possess, and they are, therefore, contented, and the government is good.

Some wish has been expressed to separate the judicial from the executive functions, and although this is, in theory, an excellent principle, yet to put it in practice in Hamburg, while public opinion can control both the executive and judicial powers, seems hardly worth the trouble and expence it would occasion. A greater improvement would be the admission of people of every religion into the offices of the state, and to the privileges of citizenship. Intolerance is at present carried farther in the Hanse towns, particularly in Bremen, than in any other part of the north of Germany, and it is extraordinary enough, that, combined with this intolerance, the members of the church in these two cities should have more wealth and worldly power than the generality of their Protestant brethren. There is Edition: current; Page: [236] nothing in the form of these governments which is worthy of imitation, or which can be imitated by the rest of Germany. In fact, most of the cities of Germany have formerly had similar constitutions, and they have either destroyed themselves, or they have been destroyed for their inefficiency. There is nothing in these governments more than the expence of a too numerous magistracy to prevent the growing prosperity of the towns. The inhabitants, from their extensive communication, must increase in knowledge and liberality, and, from the one specimen which I have given of the influence of their press, and from the nature of their occupations rescuing them from those fatal speculations which too often occupy the mere literary men of Germany, they may be expected to exert a more beneficial influence on the whole country, than any other equal portions of the community.

All the free towns have some territory more than is enclosed by their walls, and some of it, as Ritzebüttel, which belongs to Hamburg, is at a considerable distance from the city. The amount of the inhabitants, subjects of the different free towns, that is, both within and without their walls, is as follows: Frankfort 47,372; Lubeck 43,127; the city has only 25,526; Hamburg 129,739; and Bremen 46,270. Their revenues are estimated, that of Frankfort L. 80,000, that of Lubeck at Edition: current; Page: [237] L. 37,000, that of Hamburg L. 100,000, and that of Bremen at L. 40,000. They have all some debts. Together, they contain a population of 266,000 persons, and a revenue of L. 257,000 per year.

Hamburg and Bremen have adopted those commissions concilialrice which were first invented in Denmark. They are composed of two or three persons who have power to decide disputes, quarrels, and claims in a summary way, without letting them go through all the tedious formalities of a regular law process.

I left Hamburgh on Monday, June 8th, in a boat that goes every afternoon at three o’clock to Harburg. It cost an hour and a half to cross. The weather was fine, and the company mixed and agreeable. A great deal of the conversation was of that trifling sort which a very mixed society of people, all strangers to one another, usually have. At length, some political topics were started, and it was easy to remark, that most of the people thought more than they dared to say. I ventured to suggest, that the many persons who are employed in Germany in the capacity of governors of one sort or another, was one great cause for the quantity of taxation, and for that continued poverty of the people of which they were complaining. Immediately I was reproved for venturing too far, and cautioned to be careful of Edition: current; Page: [238] what I said; which shews under what inspection and restraints, real or imaginary, the people yet suppose themselves to labour. From politics the conversation became economical, the subject of the distresses of the commercial world was introduced, and the machinery of England blamed as the cause not only of ruin to England, but of ruin to the world. I said something in favour of machinery, but every person present, particularly some mercantile travellers, were my opponents. Mine was the right cause, and the steadiest of the believers in the hurtful effects of machinery declined to say much for his opinion. The prejudice against machinery is not confined to Germany, but it is, I believe, more violent there than in any other country; there books have been written expressly to prove that the machinery of Britain was the ruin of the Continent.

On arriving at Harburg, my companions went their various ways, and I took a solitary evening walk, intending to visit that part of Hannover which lies on the shores of the Elbe and the sea. I thought to have reached a little town called Buxtehude to sleep, but heavy sandy roads prevented this, and I stopped at a little village called Obergonne, where the contrast was great between the comforts of an inn at Hamburg, and those which a village alehouse could afford, and between the busy multitudes of that town, and the silence of Edition: current; Page: [239] the little family. They were all going to bed as I entered; it was ten o’clock, and I was soon shewn the little room where I was to sleep. There was a decent bed in one corner, but on two sides were several shelves, and on them the milk and cream from five cows, and part of the provender of the family were kept. The family were farmers, possessing about twelve acres of land, for which they had some services to perform, and tithes but no rent to pay. They exercised their industry in a variety of ways, such as digging peat, and sending it with their little produce to Hamburg, but they were still poor, and destitute of any thing like comfort. They were too indolent, or too much occupied, to keep either their house or their persons clean.

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CHAPTER VII.: free lands near the elbe.

Names.—In what their freedom consisted.—How separated.—Stade.—Forlifications.—Trade.—Appearance of country.—A difference of manners.—An adventure.—An advocate.—A country parson.—Ottendorf.—Land Hadeln.—Farmers.—Servants.—General appearance.—Budjadinger Land.—Borough English.—Opinions.—A German proverb.—Royal tolls.—Provinces of Bremen and Verden.

The shores of the Elbe, the Weser, and the Ems, appear to have been very long inhabited by a race of men who either had a different origin from the inhabitants of the rest of Germany, or who found so many advantages in their situation that they made, at a very early period, some advances in civilization, which have ever since given them a superiority over the rest. It is said that they were Friezlanders, that they spoke a different dialect, and were in many points different from the other tribes of the same nation who spread themselves over Germany. They ardently loved freedom, they formed themselves into various little republics, without either sovereigns or nobles, and in this state they Edition: current; Page: [241] long preserved their independence. The towns of Bremen and Hamburg are well known examples, which still exist. The names of some others have utterly passed away, but not only the names, even the privileges of several still remain. These are known by the names of the land Kehdinger, land Wursten, the Alte land, and, above all, the land Hadeln. The three former lost many of their liberties when they were conquered by the nobles, and the archbishops of Bremen, at an early period, and much of the property of Kehdinger having become, through the misfortune of a dike breaking, which the inhabitants were not capable of repairing, the property of the crown, they were subjected to its magistrates and regulations. They still retain, however, the privilege of electing their own magistrates and clergymen, and they retain their own courts, in which the pleadings are public, and spoken, and in which justice is summarily administered. These courts are composed of magistrates, partly elected by the inhabitants, and partly appointed by the crown, and they are always attended by some of the inhabitants who are elected by the remainder, to perform this and other duties during three years. They have a right to give their opinion, though they are not accustomed to give it, and seem to be a sort of jury. The land Hadeln, or, as the Germans affectionately call it, das Ländchen, retained the most privileges. Edition: current; Page: [242] The inhabitants, divided into parishes, not only elected all their own magistrates, and all the officers of justice, of the revenue, and of the church, but they were completely free from great tithes, from nobles, and from that servitude of the peasantry which has had so sad an influence on the rest of Germany. By a sort of contract with the crown, they paid it a round sum, about 10,000 R. Thalers per year, which they levied as they pleased in lieu of all taxes. They were free from all quartering of soldiers. They were entirely governed by a sort of parliament or states chosen by the different parishes, and at the head of all was placed a sort of royal commissioner. The people themselves kept the roads in repair, and the chief duties of the government of Hannover towards it seems to have been, to give it the name of its dominions, and to take a portion of its revenue. The presence of the French, however, reduced these privileges to a par with those of the inhabitants of the other provinces of Hannover, and though they have now recovered the power of electing their own magistrates, and are again in possession of their ancient tribunals, and again elect their own tax-gatherers, they have lost the power of taxing themselves, they have lost their own separate government and states, and are now in these points subjected to the same rules as the other inhabitants of Hannover. It does honour to the sovereigns of this Edition: current; Page: [243] country that they allowed this little land to enjoy all its ancient privileges, till it was occupied by the French. I had heard and read a good deal of it, and the last chapter had left me at Obergonne, on my way to the very northernmost part of Germany, where it is situated, to visit it. Destitute as it is of all influence on the large societies of Europe, and of all romantic beauty, it is only remarkable as yet possessing the last remains of those free institutions which were imported from this country into Britain.

Nature seems in a manner to have separated the several little districts which have been mentioned from the rest of the world. The Elbe, the Sea, and the Weser, bound them on one side, they extend backward from the water but a few miles, and then vast moors, and barren sands, intervene between them and the other cultivated places. I passed on the following morning, on the inner borders of the Alte land. To my right all was fertility and cultivation, to my left there was nothing but a bleak black waste. A village, called Hornburg, through which I passed, though not within these districts, was so much better than any village I had before seen, that it gave me a favourable idea of what was to come.

The town of Stade, which I also passed through, is the seat of the provincial government, and of the courts of justice, for those parts of the dominions Edition: current; Page: [244] of Hannover which are named Bremen and Verden. It lies at some distance from the Elbe. A little river, the Schwinge, passes through it, and flows into the Elbe, but it is too small to be navigated by any other vessels than large boats, and it is said to be growing shallower. It is the only fortified place in the whole kingdom; every other part of the large boundaries of Hannover are defenceless, and here nobody can well come but the English. It is kept up to ensure a communication with England, and more than L. 8000 have been voted by the states of Hannover, in order to make this a perfect fortress. Achilles was invulnerable in every part but his heel; it is the heel alone of Hannover, which the wise men of that country are making impregnable.

Stade contains 4000 people, and was formerly a place of considerable importance, but the filling up of the river, which industry might have prevented, and other circumstances, particularly its conversion to a fortress, have reduced it from maintaining itself to be nearly dependant for support on the revenues of the rest of the country. Sonne says, that, in 1815, four vessels were sent from here to catch whales. In 1818, however, there were none. Formerly Stade did share in this fishery, but the Edition: current; Page: [245] capitalists found they could employ their capitals much more advantageously in Hamburg than in Stade, and they had moved there. It is amusing to remark how the commerce of three carriers and eight owners of small vessels are called by this author an important trade. Nothing can give a more correct notion of the state of commerce in this country than such observations. They are better than a host of figures. It is admitted, however, on all hands, that the commerce of Stade has decreased.

Stade is of some importance to the sovereign, from being in the neighbourhood of that part of the Elbe where he makes people purchase a permission to sail on its waters. A vessel, which was formerly an English gun-brig, and which is the whole naval force of his majesty’s German dominions, is stationed here, to levy the toll, or see the certificate that it has been paid in Hamburg. Ships belonging to Altona and Hamburg, the inhabitants on the left bank of the Elbe, and some of those on the right bank, with their own productions, pass toll free, every body else must pay. This is, undoubtedly, the most important toll on water belonging to Hannover, and it is said to produce, when the expences of collecting it are paid, about L. 5000 per year. But this is a sealed part of the management of government, and all which is known concerning it is mere conjecture.

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It was only on quitting Stade that I entered the fertile marsh land of Kehdinger. The country was regularly divided into small fields, planted with fruit trees, and rich in promise of an abundant harvest. In the other parts of Germany, the houses of the peasantry are built of the coarsest materials, and are seldom either painted or whitewashed. They have neither rails nor gates, and yards, gardens, and fields, frequently lie uninclosed. They seem to be so much employed in providing the mere necessaries of life, that they have no time to attend to its luxuries. A savage curiously carves the head of his war spear, or the handle of his hatchet, or he cuts his own face and head into pretty devices, but no German bauer ever paints his carts or his ploughs, or ornaments his agricultural implements. In the marsh lands, the gardens and the yards are inclosed, rails and fences are kept in good order, and the houses and implements are neatly painted. Gigs were standing in the yards, or rattling on the roads. The farmers were dressed like gentlemen, and were often sitting at their own doors, smoking their evening pipes, and seemed to enjoy the comforts of home. This difference of the people may be accounted for in few words. In the marsh lands property is free, the farmers are either the owners of the land they cultivate, or they are capitalists who hire it. They answer to our farmers, but the bauers or Edition: current; Page: [247] peasantry are the vassals of nobles, and are yet little better than feudal slaves. The houses in Kehdinger are not collected in villages, but each is built in the neighbourhood of the ground its owner cultivates. This is a most reasonable plan, and it marks a state of society which, in its early stages, was different from that of the rest of Germany, where all the vassals crowded round the castle of their lord. It is an emblem of security, and is of itself almost a proof of a different origin in the people, and of an origin the same as our own. So far as I am acquainted, this method is followed only in Britain, in Holland, on the sea coast from the Ems to the Elbe, to which Holstein may be added, and in the vale of Arno. It is now followed in America, and we may judge that this reasonable practice is the result of men thinking for themselves, and following their individual interest.

Pleased as I was with the appearance of the people and their houses, the first communication I had with them was by no means calculated to give me a favourable idea of their politeness. They are visited by no persons but those who have commercial dealings with them, and they are perfectly unacquainted with any other travellers on foot than pedlars, beggars, and vagrants. They live in affluence, and necessarily despise what looks like poverty. Pedestrians are always poor, and when I asked at a respectable inn at the village of Drochterson Edition: current; Page: [248] for a bed, I was very rudely refused. I became angry, and remonstrated in a manner to which the landlord was not accustomed, and he shut his door against me. A different manner of addressing him than that I had adopted would probably have obtained me all I wished, and I had myself partly to blame for his rudeness. Much of the civility or incivility of strangers depends on our own manners. Those who are constantly haughty and rude will find only grinning servility, which pays itself for its baseness by cheating, or neglect and rudeness from spirits somewhat like their own, which disdain to be insulted. We often make ourselves that character we ascribe to foreigners. In the course of my wanderings, I have often said with Goethe,

  • “Glücklich wem doch Mutter Natur die
  • rechte Gestalt gab
  • Denn sie empfiehlet ihn stets und nir
  • gends ist er ein Fremdling.”

Sometimes I have said it in sadness, from not having found the proper means to recommend myself to attention, and sometimes with contentment, from the kindness with which I have been welcomed. Edition: current; Page: [249] A solitary foot traveller can never command respect from the quantity of gold he is expected to disburse, and he must never treat landlords, particularly German landlords, who are accustomed to a sort of equality with their guests, like people who are beneath him. He must buy civility and attention by complaisance and politeness.

The worst part of the adventure was, that I had afterwards a great difficulty to procure any kind of lodging. I knew that the innkeeper had violated an express regulation in refusing to lodge a stranger, and I therefore complained of that and of his ill conduct to a magistrate. But he was the secretary only of the district, was chosen by the inhabitants of the parish, among whom the innkeeper was a man of importance, and while a magistrate in any other part of Germany would immediately have sent for him, inquired into the matter, and most probably have punished him; he said he could do nothing in it, more than notice the complaint as one to be brought forward at the next meeting of the monthly sessions; and that, if I felt myself aggrieved, I must then make the accusation, and then the court would judge of the satisfaction to be given. Edition: current; Page: [250] The court was to meet in two or three days, and it was to be held in the very inn with whose landlord I had quarrelled, which, from the public business being done in his house, was called the Lands Herberge. At first I resolved to wait, but on consulting the apothecary, the clergyman, and the lawyer of the village, with all of whom I became acquainted, they counselled me not, because the landlord was a great friend of the secretary’s, and I departed. The manner in which the magistrate referred the matter to a regular investigation before a competent tribunal, and the whole conduct of the landlord marked a different state of society from that which is predominant in the rest of Germany. There the Königliche Beamter, or royal magistrates, would have shewn no tenderness for an individual, and there it would be difficult to find an individual who, feeling the influence which property gives him, has any of that sort of independence of the magistracy which my uncivil landlord displayed.

It is one favourable part of the practice of these small districts, that the advocates are not allowed to interfere in such quarrels as that of mine, they are rigidly confined to civil causes, and in the others the parties must speak for themselves. This information was given me by the advocate of the village himself, whom I found an intelligent well educated man. Geography was his principal study, Edition: current; Page: [251] and he told me, with somewhat more vanity than truth, that he studied, in all its details, the geography of the whole world, and that, with that of the provinces of Bremen and Verden, and of the land Hadeln in particular, he was intimately acquainted. He knew every village in the whole country, how many houses, and how much cultivated and uncultivated land they contained, and how far every village was from every other. He occupied himself also with politics, and was a good specimen of the class of people to which he belonged. They are always educated at a university, and are in this point different from English attornies.

My adventure kept me at Drochterson a day. My walk on the following day, June 11th, was most delightful. The road, for several miles, lay on the Elbe dike. The river, in all its majesty, was beneath me. It was like a beautiful woman, whose presence absorbs all our attention. Yet there was nothing but what I had frequently seen,—a noble river, spreading into the sea. The morning breeze was fresh and balmy, yet not strong enough to ruffle the surface of the water. The scene gave me spirits, and I went gayly forward. I had now almost traced the course of this river from Prague to the sea. The branch which flows through that city bears the name of Moldau. It was there swift, but tranquil; it was running rapidly through the steep rocks of the narrow channel of the Switzerland Edition: current; Page: [252] of Saxony, and smoothly going on its course at Dresden; it was thickly studded with floating ice at Wittenberg and Magdeburg; at Hamburg it was glowing in the sun; and here it was lost in the sea. I recalled the various beauty I had seen it giving and partaking; the gentle hills of Prague; the ruder mountains of Saxony, with their old castles and wood-covered tops; the decaying Wittenberg; the busy Hamburg, and now a land indebted to art for protection, but superior, perhaps, to all the others, in richness and plenty. In all, however, the Elbe was the principal feature of loveliness; with its minor streams, and the advantages of communication which it offers, it is one of the best gifts of heaven. Here it offers a secure haven for ships; there it is a stream washing the doors of the Bohemian peasant, and bringing him, in exchange for his hops and his corn, the hardware of England and the spices of the east. It hardly does this, but it might do it. Nature gave it to be used. She gives us butterflies as baubles; but a noble river is more useful than beautiful. Some travellers have had great pleasure in seeing the sources of the Ganges, or striding over the Mississippi, and, without laying claim to their merit, I had a participation in their pleasure, as I recalled the extent I had floated on the Danube, and traced the waters of the Elbe.

As I was on the dike, and the tide in, the Edition: current; Page: [253] islands and houses in the river presented a curious appearance. The former are useful only for grass, and are frequently covered by the water. The houses, one of which is generally built on each island, are risen, by means of artificial mounds, considerably above the level of the highest tides. When the tide is in, the lower parts of the island become covered, and nothing is seen but the mound and the house. Till I had inquired, I could not imagine what had induced people to build houses on the water.

In a place where I stopped for refreshment, there came a man dressed in a sort of blue linen frock, with a common fur cap and dirty boots. He was smoking, and drank some spirits. He talked about carrying out dung, and of waggons, and all the operations of farming, in the dialect of the country. I supposed he was the parish butcher, and was surprised to learn that he was the clergyman. He cultivated his own glebe, and, as he did not keep a team, he seemed under some difficulty to procure the horses necessary for his work.

I reached the little town of Otterndorf, in Land Hadeln, towards evening, and, taught by the experience of the former night, I was cautious in what manner I asked for a bed. I had been recommended to an inn; it was all full with “herrn Officiere.” The woman civilly directed me to another, Edition: current; Page: [254] where I was welcomed in a hearty, but ridiculous manner. A tall stately man, with a long brown coat, looking altogether very much like a Quaker, received me with a shake of the hand, and repeated very often, in a solemn tone, and with sundry shakes of the head, Walk in, Sir, walk in,—Treten sie näher mein Herr, treten sie näher. Then calling to his wife, with very tender words, but in a most peevish tone, asked her, could she get the gentleman some coffee. This was his mode of commanding. Up stairs was a billiard-room, and a place to play skittles,—Kegel Bahn,—with newspapers, cards, and other amusements. On going to my room, I was surprised to be met at the head of the stairs by a young man, who, with the peculiar voice and manner of the landlord, shook me also by the hand, and repeated the same words of welcome. It was a perfect farce, but I was restrained from indulging in laughter from supposing he was an impudent waiter, who was mocking his principal. He was, however, the eldest son, and, having never been from home, had acquired precisely his father’s peculiar manner of address, and the solemn singing tone with which he uttered Treten sie näher mein Herr, treten sie näher.

Otterndorf is a clean little town, in which there are more workers in gold and silver than booksellers; a sign that the opulence of the people is employed more to ornament their bodies than their Edition: current; Page: [255] minds. The only bookseller’s shop was kept by a widow, who dealt principally in psalm and prayer books, and also in matches and birch brooms. Nothing was to be learnt in her shop so curious as the strange mixture of her wares. Two or three trifles gave me a favourable idea of the good sense of the inhabitants. The steeple of the church scarcely rose above the roof. Nothing but the whim of ignorance, endeavouring to excite wonder, could have erected immense piles of bricks and stones till they almost reached the heavens, and nothing but the solemn feelings of religion which are connected with steeples, could now make people admire them. It was seven o’clock, and in every house the tables were ready for supper, or the people were collected round them, enjoying, in their own family, the evening repast.

Land Hadeln may contain about ninety-six square miles, and 15,000 inhabitants. The greater part of it is rich marsh land, very fertile and chiefly under the plough, though a large tract on the outer side of the Elbe dike is constantly used as grazing land. Hadeln is divided into farms of various sizes, but the largest seldom contains more than 300 acres, and the smallest seldom less than 50. They are cultivated by the proprietors, who having not only a fruitful soil, but a cheap conveyance by water to Hamburg for all their produce, are incited to industry and improvement, and they live in Edition: current; Page: [256] affluence and splendour. Compared with the peasants of Germany, their freedom has made them licentious. They eat meat three or four times a day, and instead of being clad in coarse woollen which has been made by their wives, they wear fine English cloths, and look like gentlemen. Their sons go for soldier officers, and the daughters are said to study the Journal des Modes. The proprietors ride in to town, to take their coffee and play at billiards, and hear and tell the news, and at home they drink their wine out of cut glass, or tea out of china. Their houses are all surrounded by lofty trees and handsomely laid out gardens, the floors are carpeted and the windows of plate glass. The dwelling apartments, the barns and the places for the cattle, are all covered with one immense roof, and every house looks something like a palace surrounded with a little park. The proprietors direct the agriculture, without working a great deal themselves, and resemble very much in their hearty manners English farmers. In Hadeln, however, they are the principal people, while an English farmer is often of little importance, compared with the wealthy merchant, or titled land-owner.

The farm work is done by hired labourers, in other parts of Germany, the farmers and labourers are the same people. I am far from admiring a state of society, in which some are idle and opulent, and others industrious and poor, but though this Edition: current; Page: [257] is the case in Hadeln, the farm servants seem all well fed and well clothed. They generally live in the house of their master, and, besides board, receive about 8d. per day; when they do not live in the house, their wages are about 14d. rye at the same time selling for 5s. 6d. per bushel, and they generally have enough ground for a garden, and to grow potatoes. They are active and clean; I saw them carrying out dung, and returning at a good smart trot. They ride, and at this work they take much care of their clothes; each one was provided with a little straw mat, which he threw on the dung or in the waggon, that he might sit clean. Both in France and England, I have seen the labourers throw themselves lazily on the putrifying heap. The Hadelers were formerly, with the exception of the Britons and the Friezlanders, perhaps the most free of any people in Europe, and they, like our countrymen, managed their own affairs themselves. The consequence has been, that there is no little spot where all the inhabitants appear more comfortable than in the Land Hadeln. I will not affirm that every advantage which their situation gives has been adequately improved,—that they might not add commerce and manufactures to agriculture, that no machinery might be employed with advantage, and that knowledge is cultivated as it ought to be. But I have seen no place on the Continent, with the exception of the mere neighbourhood of Hamburg, Edition: current; Page: [258] that equals Land Hadeln in the apparent happiness and prosperity of its people. It is one of the happiest looking little spots I ever saw, and while every lover of British freedom must admire this last remains of the freedom of his German ancestors, he must lament over the number of similar little districts, which, in the course of years, have fallen under the dominion of one or other of the great nobles of Germany.

“Henry of Brunswick Wolfenbüttle formed in 1501 a treaty with the Count of Oldenburg, to reduce some lands to obedience, which were claimed by the Archbishop of Bremen, to whom the brother of Henry was coadjutor; the chief of these was a little district on the left side of the Weser, called Budjadinger land. The Duke of Brunswick and the Count of Oldenburg attacked it in the year 1513, when a severe frost allowed them to pass the morasses and water that had hitherto protected it; the inhabitants took refuge in a moor, they heaped masses of ice one on the other, and over the whole they poured water, which converted it into one solid wall of ice; but a traitor, Gerke Ubbeson, shewed the enemy a road round the wall and through the moor. The Budjadinger men were taken in the rear, and were at length totally defeated, 700 of them were left dead on the ice, and the remaining 400 surrendered themselves prisoners. The land was given to the Count Edition: current; Page: [259] of Oldenburg, to whom it at present belongs.” Such was the end of the independence of this other Hadeln, and such has been the end of many separate independent communities, not only in this obscure quarter of the world, but in every other. By similar means of violence some few families have become the rulers of the human race, and now not to obey and reverence those whose ancestors acquired wealth and power, by destroying the independence of our fellow men, has become one of the greatest crimes we can commit, and can only be expiated by a shameful death.

Hadeln and the other lands have always had laws of their own, but they have not been able to secure themselves from the influence of the Roman laws, which have been grafted on the better institutions of a people who had more freedom than the Romans; and even the magistrate of the little town of Otterndorf must be learned in the institutes of Justinian. The introduction of this foreign law has been one means of rendering juries of little use, and of weakening the interest which the inhabitants of these countries once took in the administration of justice.

The manners of the opulent farmers are not in Edition: current; Page: [260] general praised by the other Germans. There are no large towns, and no well polished society near them, and they have learnt neither the elegance nor the duplicity of cities. They have no pursuit but agriculture, no other ambition but to make and spend money, and they judge every man according to his possessions. I know not whether the fault belongs to their education, or to that of the rest of their countrymen, to their isolated life, or to the habitual dependence of the others; but what they call sincerity and plain dealing, their countrymen name vulgarity and rudeness; what they call independence, other people stigmatise as pride and contempt. They are certainly at present a distinct people from the rest of the Germans; they want all the softness and gentleness which distinguish them, but they are more energetic and more independent; they are less book read, but they have a more manly port and a greater vigour of mind. Formerly they were distinguished by the multitude and splendour of their clothes; they knew no other way to get rid of their superfluous wealth than in profusion to their backs or their bellies. They gave gluttonous feasts, and wore habits of silk with silver buttons. A more elegant taste is now spreading amongst them, and they may possibly preserve their own manly virtues, while they put on the polished surface of the rest of their countrymen.

A practice still exists in Land Hadeln, which is Edition: current; Page: [261] also the law of some parts of England, and called Borough English. A practice which is so peculiar may be quoted as another proof of a common origin, though it was once the law in many parts of the north of Germany. By this law the farms which remain undivided descend to the youngest son. Admitting a necessity to keep the farms undivided, arising from the buildings which are necessary to the cultivation of the land being indivisible; the reasons assigned in favour of this law appear weighty and full of wisdom. The parents have more time to provide for their eldest than for their youngest son; according to the common course of events, the former is married and settled in the world, while the latter is yet under the parental roof. It should naturally be the latter who should contribute most to the minute comforts of his parents, and who should most need their assistance and favour. They can give the eldest a part of the stock from the farm, but they can only provide for the youngest by giving him their land. If the elder brother grows up as heir, he becomes in part possessed of all before the rest of the children can dispute it with him, and he generally gripes too hard to allow the younger ones to receive their proper portion. This law is not, however, invariably good. The eldest son may, from many circumstances, be more the Edition: current; Page: [262] proper object of tenderness than the youngest, and the daughters of a family have, in general, more need to be provided for than any of the sons. This, and all other general regulations, however apparently wise, can never equal individual wisdom in judging of all the different circumstances which ought to influence its decision in the disposal of its property, nor supply its place when it may chance to fail.

I dined in the society of a few persons, principally officers of the army, who fed daily at the table of the landlord, and clean knives and forks, which is very unusual on the Continent, were given with every change of plates. In truth, this is a luxury common only in England and Hadeln. A considerable company was playing cards and billiards, with one of whom, who happened to be an advocate, I entered into conversation. We spoke of trial by jury, which he thought an evil, because the juries were not qualified to decide what is right. Lawyers introduce or make codes of laws filled with nice subtleties, with hair-breadth distinctions, with metaphysical definitions of words, not of things, and of these they are right in affirming common men cannot judge; for nobody can know any thing of them whose mind is not from youth upwards perverted to this sort of knowledge. They must retain the profits of interpreting these subtleties, and, if they acquire wealth and power by them, Edition: current; Page: [263] they care not if the reason of man is debilitated, and his freedom destroyed. I mention this opinion because it is a common one amongst the lawyers of Germany, and is urged by them to prove that trial by jury is pernicious. In the course of our conversation, I remarked, that most of the inhabitants here read and talk politics much. The landlord had entertained me with a long economical discussion on the ill effects of the new tax on distillation. The lawyer had spoken of new constitutions, and two gentlemen who were sitting near us were discussing the propriety of allowing a free importation of English goods into Germany. Several newspapers were lying on a side-table, and the whole of the company seemed to retain a sufficient recollection of a former state of freedom, to make them discontented with their present state, and to censure, with much more boldness than I had before met in a promiscuous company, the actions of their government.

On the following day, I walked rather more than forty miles on my way to the town of Bremen, stopping to sleep at a village called Hagen, where a decent public-house was kept by a man who had been a serjeant in the German Legion.

At leaving Otterndorf, there was an agreeable foot-path on a bank at some distance from the road side. I had taken this, “was brushing with hasty steps the dew away,” and “crooning” o’er I hardly Edition: current; Page: [264] knew what, but as I thought perfectly secure from any interruption. The people were not content, however, to pass without a salutation; they lustily called out good morning from the distant road, and I was often obliged to take off the half laid cable of my meditations to twist up the threads of compliment. This was not always pleasing, but I could easily forgive the interruption for the good will which it expressed.

Before leaving Land Hadeln, the country began to change to moor and morass. One large district in the neighbourhood of a village called Wanna, was inclosing and bringing under cultivation. The great difficulty was to drain it, and no adequate plan had been adopted. It was merely intersected by ditches, but the soil was sandy, and the ditches all filled up after heavy rain, and the whole again became a bog. After this my whole day’s walk was amongst sterile sands or morasses. The banks of the Weser at a distance looked well peopled, but my steps were in the midst of barrenness. The surface of the brown heaths or black bogs was only variegated with large patches of shining white from the tufted heads of the moor-grass (Eriophorum angustifolium). It was most abundant. The length of each filament may be an inch or two inches long; it wants tenacity, and might decay when gathered; but I know, from making the experiment, that it may be easily spun, Edition: current; Page: [265] and I should suppose, that it might be improved by cultivation, and that this now useless substance might, in the manufactory of many articles, supply the place of a more costly material.

Bremerlehe is a little town on the Weser, which is remarkable as having no guilds but that of the fell-mongers. All other trades may be freely exercised there. This, however, had not made it flourishing, though its situation is good. It was once intended to have made a sort of port in the Weser, at a place called Carlsburg, a little distance from Bremerlehe, but storms and a change in the course of the Weser destroyed the works, and they have not since been resumed. After Bremerlehe I passed through a village which had been recently burnt; an accident that very often happens in Germany. There is hardly a week in which some newspaper does not mention the melancholy fact of a whole village being destroyed by fire, and I had heard of three such in the province of Bremen in eight weeks. Much of the mischief is caused by the houses being built close together, and by the large roofs being usually thatched with straw. Thirty houses had here been consumed, several were rebuilding, and also re-thatching. Workmen, I was informed, were so plentiful, that many had offered to work for nothing but food, and as many as fifty were employed at one building. Most of Edition: current; Page: [266] the houses had been insured, which enabled the owners to build others, and without this they would have been in a most distressed state.

A saying, which is, I believe, a German proverb, and which I heard to-day, deserves to be recorded. It was, “Wo die Frau arbeitet nicht, da gibt kein brodt im Hause;”—When the wife does not work, there is no bread in the house;—which accurately expresses what the women of Germany are expected to perform, and what they actually do. The person who repeated the observation confessed that they laboured much more than the men.

This was a country destitute of any other roads than mere tracks, yet there were two royal tolls, and at these all travellers, even those on foot, are obliged to pay. At the first there was a small old wooden bridge, which might require some repairs, and it is better to pay for such an accommodation, than to wade through the stream; but at Stotel, where the other was situated, there was no road, nothing but a track over sand and heath. The toll was levied for permission to tread on the barren ground.

I reached the town of Bremen early on the next day, Sunday, June 14th.

The marsh lands of which I have here spoken form, in the geographical division of the kingdom of Hannover, a part of the provinces of Bremen Edition: current; Page: [267] and Verden, and I shall subjoin a short description of the characteristics of these provinces.

With the exception of the strips of land lying on the shores of the Elbe and the Weser, and to which, particularly the former, nature has been remarkably bountiful, the greater part of these provinces are bogs and sand. The only use made of the former is to dig peat in them, though some successful attempts have been made, and others are making, to cultivate them. Some attempts, not yet completed, have also been made to drain them. The sand is fertile in places, but in general it produces, like Lüneburg, nothing but heather. Trees flourish well in some places, and fertility is found wherever there is running water. These provinces are not absolutely a flat level, but they are low, with little variations of altitude, and are, in general, black gloomy wastes. They are naturally sterile, and nothing but an increasing population, the fruits of whose labour shall all belong to themselves, can ever bring them under general cultivation.

Edition: current; Page: [268]

CHAPTER VIII.: bremen—oldenburg—friezland.

Bremen.—Public walk.—Raths Keller.—Museum.—Town house.—Character of people.—Cultivation of wastes.—Oldenburg.—Government.—Corvees.—Friezland.—Canals.—Aurick.—Track-boat.—Company.—Embden.—Former size.—Superiority of the character of the Friezlanders.—Their origin.—Division of property.—Part they take in government.—United to Prussia.—Treatment of Prussia.—United to Hannover.—Public spirit proportionate to liberty.—Disasters.—Leave Embden.—An adventure.

There is nothing worth seeing in our town, said an elderly merchant of Bremen, but our public walk, and our museum, and our Raths Keller. I had lounged with great pleasure on the first, I had drank wine in the last, but for my knowledge of the other I was indebted to him. Bremen is built on both banks of the Weser, and the two parts are united by a wooden bridge. The greater part of the town is, however, situated on the right bank, and it is round this part that the public walk has been made. Trees have been planted throughout the whole length of the ancient wall, and the outer part has been sloped away and Edition: current; Page: [269] ornamented with jessamines and honeysuckles and roses. Bowers, thickets, little forests, and tufts of sweet smelling shrubs, are now the only centinels. The bastions, which might once have frowned with cannon, are now smiling with beautiful flowers, the parapet has become a shady grove, and the former ditch is now a handsome little lake, the abode of stately swans. There are straight and serpentine walks, and walks on the top, and on the sides, and at the bottom. At the lower end of the town the walk terminates in a high mound, also well laid out, and planted with trees. From it there is a charming view of the Weser, of the town, and the whole adjoining country. To be situated at the very borders of a large town, it is a most elegant public promenade. Nature did nothing for it, it is indebted for its beauties to the old mound, which was raised for defence, and to the good taste of the inhabitants. It is admirably calculated to promote both their health and their enjoyment, and is a proof, that a sound mind and an elegant taste may be found in the small commercial cities of the north, as well as in the capitals of the south. In the flat country immediately outside of the walk are many of those houses of entertainment and Kegel Bahns, that must be dear to the Germans, for they pass there many calm and happy hours.

The Raths Keller is celebrated for containing a Edition: current; Page: [270] great quantity of the best sort of Rhenish wines. Every stranger indulges in the best Hockheimer or Johannisberg when he visits Bremen; the inhabitants prefer French wines.

The museum is not one of those collections of butterflies to which this name is very often given, but such a club of the inhabitants as I have mentioned to be at Hamburg. Similar ones are, indeed, established in all the large towns of Germany. The merchant who described it to me thought it only remarkable for the convenience of its rooms, and for the quantity of journals and readers always found there. He admitted that it was not so splendid as the Börsen Halle at Hamburg. These clubs are worth mentioning, as a proof of sociability being a part of the German character, for which I believe it has rarely received full credit.

Travellers’ guides enumerate several other curiosities in Bremen, such as, a cellar in the cathedral, the Bley Keller, in which human bodies do not decay, a statue of Roland on the market place, the cathedral, and the town-house. The cathedral is by no means handsome, but the town-house is a magnificent old building, superior to any thing of the kind I have seen. Bremen is altogether better built than Hamburg. The streets are wider, the houses are more uniform, and the town is cleaner; but the country Edition: current; Page: [271] about it, though pleasing, cannot vie with the delightful country about Hamburg. There is a greater stillness about Bremen. The inhabitants, amounting to 36,000, are only one-third of the number of the inhabitants of Hamburg; and half the bustle of a trading town is lost by the shipping not being able to come higher up the Weser than Braake, a town nearly 30 miles below Bremen. With this disadvantage, it is a curious fact, that Bremen still engrosses all the commerce of the Weser, to the exclusion of the inhabitants of Oldenburg and Hannover. Braake, where the ships unload, is in the territories of Oldenburg, and at present a steam-boat passes daily between the two places. The people of Bremen are more quiet and sedate than those of Hamburg; they mix less with foreigners. Their places of entertainment are less splendid. Their government is more aristocratical, their police stronger, and their religion more rigid. Matters are arranged in Bremen more methodically than in Hamburg. There is an air of reserve about the people, not common to Germans. They are careful and economical, the men wear old-fashioned clothes, and follow old-fashioned conduct. The women preserve the antiquated custom of going with their husbands to public places, and, dreading expence, they have made regular contracts with the owners of all the public gardens and Kegel Bahns about the town, to be Edition: current; Page: [272] supplied with hot water, and the use of cups and saucers, at so much per head, while they use their own tea and cakes.

The merchant remarked to me, that the only nobles of Bremen were merchants, and that it would be good for the whole world if there were no others. I hardly joined in the opinion, particularly when I saw these nobles going in crowds to see their soldiers relieve guard, thus doing homage to their own mercenaries. The love for military foppery and glare seems, indeed, so common to the Germans, that even the citizens, both of Hamburg and Bremen, who are in all their pursuits so different from soldiers, admire, and in a manner worship them. The noble merchants of Italy certainly improved their country, but apparently only to reduce it to slavery. It is of little consequence what trade men follow, whether they are soldiers or merchants; if they have power they will abuse it, and the merchants of Genoa, of Venice, and, indeed, of Hamburg and Bremen, seem only to have acquired wealth, that they might riot in the fulness of arbitrary will. The former were more tyrannical and aristocratic than any mere nobles; and if the latter have not been so, it has been owing to their power having been much more limited.

The inhabitants of the mercantile town of Leipsic were less informed in polite literature than Edition: current; Page: [273] those of Dresden. The same fact appeared true of those of Hamburg; and in Bremen, I could find only one decent bookseller, and but one circulating library. The mass of the people, in mercantile towns, have too many occupations to be enabled to read, while the idlers, who live in the train of a court, the minor artists, who are nourished by its wants and its rewards, often depend on reading not only for amusement, but for that improvement which is useful in their employments. Merchants are warmly interested in every change of other countries. It is of little consequence to those of Bremen, whether sculpture and painting, and poetry, flourish in Britain or not, but our custom-house regulations, our progress in the improvement of machinery, by which our cottons have almost superseded in the markets of the west the linens in which they deal, are of great importance to them. They care very little about either the magnetism or the theatres of Prussia and Bavaria, but they must know accurately the tariffs of the monarchs of these countries. They have no circulating libraries; but they have two or three clubs in which newspapers may be read. The difference between the literary attainments of the inhabitants of mere mercantile towns, and of towns which are the residence of courts, appear to be very strong in Germany. At the table d’hôte at Bremen, where between twenty and thirty people Edition: current; Page: [274] dined every day, and who were mostly inhabitants of the town, there was no sort of conversation, but of their own trade or their amusements. At the theatre, two or three persons, of whom I asked the name of the author of a little musical piece I saw represented, knew nothing about it. Leisure is necessary for the cultivation of literature, men have recourse to it as an amusement, but the leisure, which is possessed by the dependants of a court, is purchased by condemning to severer toil the great mass of the society, and literature itself is not worth having at such a price; the graces it bestows are worthy of all admiration, but they are only the elegant coverings of a feeble frame, whenever they are thrown over it by the hands of sovereigns. There is, probably, a stronger mind altogether in mercantile towns than in the others. Both Hamburg and Bremen have been famous for astronomical observations, and for mathematics. Dr Olbers, so well known as an astronomer, lived in Bremen, and in Lilienthal, not far from the town, is the observatory of Mr Schröter, in which a celebrated professor at Göttingen, Mr Harding, acquired the principal part of his knowledge.

I left Bremen on Wednesday, and passing through a flat country, first marshy, then sandy, and at length boggy, reached Oldenburg, the principal town of the dukedom of the same name, at evening. Much of the country was uncultivated, Edition: current; Page: [275] but an extensive tract of moor near the town was in part recently inclosed, and was then inclosing. The excellent appearance of the corn in those places which had been cultivated was a proof that the whole of the moor was fit for cultivation. It was evident, also, that it might be cultivated with a reasonable profit, that the labour and the seed were returned to man with an usurious interest. It was all claimed by the sovereign as his domanial property, and the cultivators were obliged to pay him a certain sum for permission to cultivate it. About eight shillings an acre was given as purchase money, and about three shillings per acre was to be given yearly as rent. The country had before this produced nothing but peat. It was a spongy elastic bog, which the industry of man might fertilize, but which of itself supplied nothing but fuel.

Oldenburg is a neat little town, with a good public walk, and a tolerable large palace, but it has no theatre, no university, no excellent situation, nothing to make it desirable as a residence. It contains 5000 inhabitants. The whole dukedom only contains 217,000, scattered over a surface of 1840 square geographical miles. The greater part of it is a flat sandy or moory country. A small part of it, where it borders on Osnabrück, is hilly, and the borders of the Weser and of the sea, particularly that portion called Edition: current; Page: [276] Jever, are good fruitful marsh lands; but the remainder of the country, without being quite so barren as the sands of the province of Lüneburg, is a desolate neglected waste. How much this may be owing to nature, and how much to a very complicated government, which directs a large part of the capital and revenue of the country to the support of amtmen, consistorial counsellors, counsellors for the poor, and all the multiplied officers of a German government, and which directs all the talents and ingenuity of the country, to fit themselves for these offices, is somewhat difficult to decide; but there is reason to believe, had ingenuity and capital not been so misdirected, the whole land might have been brought under cultivation.

The revenue of Oldenburg is supposed to amount to 1,200,000 florins, or L. 120,000 per year. L. 3000 of this is raised by a royal toll on the land at Wildeshausen, and L. 6000 by a toll on the Weser at Elsfleth. The army amounts to 1650 men. The states of this country have been so long in disuse, that no public records remain of any having ever been summoned. According to the general principles which have been followed in all the countries of Germany, there can be no doubt that meetings of the states were formerly held in Oldenburg, but little or nothing is known concerning them. The country, separated Edition: current; Page: [277] in a great measure from the more flourishing and enlightened parts of Germany, is yet sunk in apathy and ignorance. I could find but one bookseller in the town, and he had no works whatever relative to the country, more than an almanack, describing the court with all its officers. The schools of Oldenburg, and the manner of instruction which is followed in them, resemble those of the other parts of Germany; but in all other sorts of learning, particularly in all that relates to politics, it is much behind.

A dreary walk, on the following day, brought me into East Friezland. On the road some spots were now for the first time inclosing, and there were some marks of an increasing cultivation and improvement. The magistrates have the power, both in Oldenburg and Friezland, of ordering out all the owners of land, for twenty days in the year, to mend the roads. The evil of this practice is considerably greater in the former country, in which the magistrates are appointed by the crown, than in the latter, where they are elected by the land-owners. I saw a large party of men and women employed in this labour. Each owner of a spot of ground must send one person, or go himself. The opulent farmers send a maid servant; the poor man must leave his own work to go. The soil was sandy; there were no stones to mend the road with. All that the people did, or could do, was to clean out the ditches Edition: current; Page: [278] on the sides, and throw the loose sand into the middle of the road, to be washed back by the next heavy shower of rain. It is evil enough to be compelled to do useful works, but it is rather too much to compel people to waste their time in doing what is at most but of very little service. The people of Holland, who were once free, and who still possess that spirit of enterprise which is given by freedom, have paved most of their roads with small bricks. The dukedom of Oldenburg has conveniences for making bricks, but there the peasants are still employed throwing loose sand out of the ditches to be washed back again by the next shower.

There are comparatively few nobles in Oldenburg, and the greater part of the land is held immediately from the grand duke. The good plan has been here followed of building the farm houses in the neighbourhood of the land which each farmer cultivates. The houses are, however, generally small, thatched, and very dirty. The few people I saw were ill dressed and ugly. The women wore, in general, hats like the men, and, dressed rather after the English manner, reminded me of the degraded females of our sea-ports.

Rather a large extent of moor separates Friezland from Oldenburg, and I was sensible of a great difference of appearance in the houses of the former immediately on entering it. They were, many Edition: current; Page: [279] of them, built of brick, and the roofs were covered with tiles. They were larger, cleaner, and altogether better-conditioned than the houses of Oldenburg. At the house where I slept, which was a small one, fine gilded cupboards were filled with old-fashioned china. Two large coarse china vases stood on the table. The fire-place was lined with Dutch tiles. Plates, pans, and kettles, were all kept very clean and bright, and were ranged on the wall with great art and order. The whole of the house, even to the coffee, which was execrable, shewed that the manners of the Dutch had extended to the borders of Oldenburg, and had there stopped. On the whole, however, a great improvement was visible. It was immediately obvious that the people of Friezland had something more than the mere necessaries of life, while those of Oldenburg appeared confined to the gratification of its most simple wants.

Much of Friezland, particularly where it borders on Oldenburg, is sand and bog, but man is extending his empire over both. All the banks of the Ems, and the borders of the sea which belong to Friezland, are some of the finest marsh lands of the world. The ground is so good that it does not require all the manure the farmers have to give it, and those who live in the fertile part exchange manure for peat, which is chiefly dug in the Hoch Moor, a district bordering on Oldenburg. To Edition: current; Page: [280] facilitate this exchange, canals have been dug from the Hoch Moor to the Ems. The manure is thus employed to improve the sterile, sandy, and moory districts, which are inclosing and cultivating, while the extensive market which has thus been opened for the peat, has given a value to what was before a desart. After the wastes I had passed of the provinces of Lüneburg, and Bremen, and of Oldenburg, in which the extent of improvement was the erection of a new sheep hut, or the inclosure of a few acres of ground, it was pleasing to see the spirit of enterprise of which the improvements of Friezland were evidence. The canals were made by a subscription company, a degree of exertion, which is not common in any country where departments of a ministry direct the course of trade, and where making canals and roads are numbered among the duties of the monarch.

Between where I slept and Aurich, I saw a small spot of ground newly inclosed. The garden was dug and planted, but the house was only half built. A man and a woman were sawing trees into timbers for the roof. The woman was beneath; they were a couple who were just fixing themselves here, and who were building their own house and cultivating their own land. Had they been young, many happy days might have awaited them, but they were at that season of life when man should think more of rest than of toil,—when his house Edition: current; Page: [281] should have given protection to his children, instead of being then first to be roofed in for himself.

Aurich, though not so large as Embden, has always been the seat of government of East Friezland, and was formerly the residence of its counts. Their palace is now a barrack, though Aurich still remains the chief place, and is now the seat of the provincial government, and of the chief tribunal of this province. I saw nothing so curious here as an establishment for the poor. It was a house, to which a spot of ground belonged, on which three cows were fed. A sum of money was given the people to buy bread, but the younger ones, and those who were able to work, provided for the rest, and did all the work, such as milking the cows and cooking, which was necessary to nourish the rest, and keep the place clean. Forty-two old men, women, and children, were all huddled together, but the place, though small, was clean. A canal (not the one before mentioned) connects Aurich with Embden. It has also been made by subscription; but, in consequence of its not having been carried so far as was intended, it is said not to pay the share-holders. The changes which took place in the political situation of Friezland had hindered the original plan from being fully executed. The canal was to have extended to Witmund, and perhaps, ultimately, to the Weser, though this part of the execution would have depended Edition: current; Page: [282] on the sovereign of Oldenburg. Had the plan been fully executed, there is little doubt it would have improved the country, and that the subscribers would have been paid a proper interest for their money.

I went in a track-boat, by this canal, to Embden. There was some company present that rather reminded me of England. It will not be asserted, I hope, that I wish to throw a stigma on my country by any unnecessary severity of remark, but I was reminded of England by the conduct of some women who occupied the fore part of the boat. They were half tipsy; they sang, and were riotous, and mocked at every traveller on the road. It is only when we see such conduct that we recollect we have before not seen it for a long time. In truth, a riotous and a drunken woman is almost an unknown character except in the sea-ports, and among the lower classes of Britain. There is something either in the greater inequality of the different classes of our people, or in the force of our moral opinions, which condemns the sinning part of our population to a state of rough brutality,—of profligate and boisterous licentiousness,—of active and devilish vice, which glances in rags, in filth, and drunkenness, on the eye, and sounds, in imprecations, on the ear, and which I have never seen in any other part of the world but in Britain. Single specimens of this sort of character may be Edition: current; Page: [283] seen in Paris, but it is found in masses only in the neighbourhood of Wapping, of St Giles, and of our sea-ports. Our activity is conspicuous, not only in virtue, but in vice, and the latter is carried to loath-some excess. Licentiousness, and perhaps cruelty and revenge, may be the characteristics of other people, but it is only in our country that hard and disgusting brutality is combined with profligacy. This sort of character may be owing, in both countries, to commerce, or to activity of mind, but much of it is to be attributed to a severity of opinion, which not only condemns the sin, but has no charity for the sinner. Calvinism is the predominant religion of Friezland, and it too frequently classes enjoyment as vice, and pushes those who have made one false step into the abyss of misery. In other countries frailties are regarded with more tenderness, and those who are addicted to any one vice are not compelled to be utterly vicious. To whatever causes the difference of character which has been mentioned may be owing, it is, I think, certain, that one reprobated vice brings after it, in our country, many other vices, and more misery, than in other countries. This is worthy the attention of the moralist and the philosopher, as it may lead to some more accurate knowledge of the causes of crime, and the means of preventing it.

There was also a man in the boat who fully convinced Edition: current; Page: [284] me that these women were strongly marked exceptions to the generality of the people. He was a tradesman who had been settled at Embden forty years, a calm sedate man, who had read the Bible and the history of his country very attentively,—who had laboured hard to rear his family, and had taken much pains to teach them morality. There was a carefulness and a self-denial about him, together with an ease and openness that shewed he sailed with the current of opinion, and that his virtue was also the virtue of most of his fellow citizens. He had accustomed his children, he said, to many little privations, that they might be better enabled to brave the evils of life. To submit, without necessity, to any privation, is in general no part of the character of the Germans. I saw one of his daughters at Embden, and she appeared to have done honour to her father’s precepts. She was a careful good wife.

There was another rather strange character, a Dutchman, who had long been an officer of the French armies, and had acquired all the confidence and presumption of French officers, without any of their graces or their gaiety. He had an affectation of being above decency, which shewed itself in indiscriminately talking nonsense to every person. He was a blackguard of another sort, differing from the women in outward polish, but not in sentiment. Both parties only served to make the old Edition: current; Page: [285] tradesman more conspicuous, and, without their riotousness, his calmness would have attracted no observation.

It was evening when we reached Embden. The town-house is a fine old building. The inhabitants appeared mostly very good-looking, and were all very cleanly dressed. Short white or coloured jackets, with black petticoats and black silk aprons, a white clean cap, pinned close to the head, and ruffs about the neck, was in general the dress of the females, though many of the better sort were clad after the fashions of France or England. The older women wore a more ancient costume, of which the principal part was a hat that was as large as an umbrella.

Sunday in Embden was observed as Sunday is observed in England. No business was done. The people all went to church, and partook of no amusement but a walk.

The walls of the town inclose a much larger space than the houses at present occupy; formerly, also, the people were not so conveniently and spaciously lodged as at present, and it is, therefore, probable, as is asserted, that Embden once contained many more inhabitants than at present. In 1649, they were estimated at 20,000, and at present at 12,000. Embden was once a powerful member of the Hanseatic league, and was then an independent city, keeping sometimes the prince Edition: current; Page: [286] prisoner, and always bidding him defiance. It retained the greater part of its power and privileges till 1749, and it only fully lost every shadow of freedom and independence when the government of Hannover gave it, in 1818, an entire new constitution.

Its trade was formerly much greater than at present; from the beginning of the seventeenth century it appears to have declined; under the prohibitive system of Buonaparte, it made a rapid progress, and its merchants rapidly made fortunes; the general peace had again very much diminished their trade, and made them at the moment full of discontent. The harbour of Embden is said to be growing shallower, and projects have been formed by the present government to remedy this. It has proceeded so far as to appoint an engineer, and to take into its own hands the tolls which formerly belonged to the town. Magnificent schemes have been talked of, but there is a want of funds to execute them. The trade of Embden will hardly recover under the fostering care of the Hannoverian government, but while its port remains large enough for a single vessel to enter, Embden has so favourable a situation, that it will always have a considerable trade.

The same extraordinary manner of building farmhouses, which I have mentioned, when speaking of Hadeln, also prevails in Friezland, and, from Edition: current; Page: [287] the wealth of the farmers, is very conspicuous in the vicinity of Embden. That a common German bauer, whose corn is thrashed so soon as it is housed, who has perhaps only a pair of horses and cows, should find it convenient to cover all his worldly possessions with one roof, is not surprising; nor did I observe that their houses were enormously large. But, when I saw the same mode practised in Friezland by the largest farmers, I was astonished at the strangeness and the magnitude of the buildings. The rich farmers of Friezland, who have some of them fifty cows and sixteen horses, and whose dwellings are spacious, cover the whole with one roof. I have counted fifty windows in the dwelling part of the house, and attached to this, and under the same roof, were the stalls for fifty cows and twelve horses. The dwelling is at one end, at the other end is the stable; on the sides between the two ends are the stalls for the cows, the middle is the thrashing-floor, the barn, and the place where the carts and the farming instruments are kept. At the outside of the end farthest from the dwelling is the dunghill. In short, the whole farm-yard, and the dwelling of the family, with the exception of the dunghill, are brought under the same covering. The inhabitants say this is a cheaper and better plan of building than any other, that all their conveniences are at hand, and that, when built of bricks, Edition: current; Page: [288] and covered with tiles, when the stalls are nicely paved, as they are in Friezland, it is a better mode than ours of having separate buildings for stables, barns, and cow-houses. The danger, however, to which the property is exposed in case of fire, seems a strong reason against it. From the specimens I saw of farm-houses in Friezland and Hadeln, there is no objection to it on account of cleanliness. The dwelling is far removed from the animals, it has always a separate entrance, and no people are more conspicuous for cleanliness than the Friezlanders. I have since seen, that the same plan is followed in some of the provinces of Holland, particularly in West Friezland, and there the houses are equally large.

The Friezlanders are more Dutch than German, and distinct in their manners and language from the latter, though East Friezland has always formed a part of the empire. Numerous mills for sawing, for making oil, and for spinning, stand on the walls of Embden, and in the neighbourhood of the town; they are all built after the Dutch manner, and are proofs of the industry and enterprise of the people. The dikes with which the greater part of Friezland is protected, and in a manner won from the sea and the river; the manner in which the inhabitants are obliged constantly to struggle against this element; the canals I have already mentioned, and numerous others which have been dug from Embden Edition: current; Page: [289] to all the villages in its neighbourhood; are, all proofs of the same admirable qualities. The agriculture of the Friezlanders is excellent, and they are, in all respects, a more enterprising people than the greater part of the Germans. They are stouter and better-looking,—they are better clothed and better fed,—they hold themselves upright and manly, and they pride themselves on being superior to the Germans. After seeing something of both, I join in their opinion. One of the causes of this superiority has already been mentioned; the Friezlanders were originally a separate tribe, and were every where distinguished by the form of their government, and by the division of their landed property from the rest of the Germans. Friezland, like Hadeln, is divided into farms of from 400 to 50 acres, which are, in general, possessed in full property by the persons who cultivate them. The farmers owe no feudal services, and they have no labourers but those they hire. There are nobles in Friezland, but they are not numerous. That part of the feudal system which considered a certain class of men as the property of their lord has long been abolished, or never found its way into Friezland. Every man was his own master, or, as a respectable merchant of Embden said, a king in his own house, and if an action were to be done for the common good, and by general exertion, it could Edition: current; Page: [290] only be done by the consent of all. The land owners, or the farmers, had a vote in the election of their own priests, of their own tax-gatherers, of the people who looked after the dikes, and they elected the persons who were to administer the taxes. There was a regular parliament for the management of public business, to which the towns sent fifteen deputies, and the owners of land, or third stand, 180. They were, therefore, adequately represented. At the head of the government was a Count of Friezland, and constant disputes between him, the nobles, the town of Embden, and the parliament, till the very last moment of the independent existence of Friezland, shew that no one party had obtained the possession of uncontrolled power.

In 1744 the family of the Counts became extinct, and Friezland then fell under the dominion of the sovereign of Prussia, who held it as a fief of the empire. It stood in the same relation to him as Hadeln did to Hannover. Under him the inhabitants preserved some of their privileges. A particular treaty regulated the number of men, and the sum of money Friezland was to pay its sovereign, but the manner of levying both was to be left to the states, and it was to remain free from the conscription of Frederick, and his arbitrary taxes. The sovereign appointed some of the principal officers, but the greater part of the inferior ones, particularly Edition: current; Page: [291] all those connected with the administration of the revenue, were as formerly appointed by the states, or elected by the people. The monarch did not long respect the treaty which he had made with his subjects. In return for the money and the soldiers they were to give him, he sent a commissioner to administer the government, and take care of the interests of the crown. Notwithstanding the solemn assurances which had been given that all the privileges of the people should be secured to them, this commissioner told the states, when they refused to augment their tribute of men and money, “If you will not do as my master wishes, I will leave you tomorrow, and he will send in my place a few regiments of soldiers, to facilitate giving a subsidy, and sending recruits.” Such was the exchange. The Friezlanders gave their wealth and blood for such protection as a royal commissioner could afford, and they were only employed to exact still more wealth and blood. Common men can easily appreciate such governments, but by some people they are called paternal. Under their own Counts, the freedom of the Friezlanders was preserved; it was much diminished when the mighty sovereigns of Prussia became the masters of the country; it was entirely destroyed by the occupation of the French; and is only very partially restored since the country has been added to the dominions of Hannover. The full property of the soil still remains to the farmer. Edition: current; Page: [292] The inhabitants still preserve some minor privileges, such as those of electing local magistrates, and of appointing their own clergymen; but the former parliament has been amalgamated in the parliament for the kingdom of Hannover, and the government has taken the whole direction of the affairs of Friezland on itself.

The public spirit of this people is visible in the construction of canals and dikes, and their prosperity in the extent of their commerce, and the goodness of their agriculture; and we see their morality and happiness in their general comforts and appearance. Friezland, after Hadeln, is the most prosperous looking part of Germany, and here, as there, the people have always managed their own affairs. They have erected works of public utility, superior to any which have been erected in the much governed lands of Germany. When the canals of Friezland, which extend every where, are compared to a single one which the government of Hannover attempted to cut in Bremen sixty years ago, we may conclude that the real business of men, what promotes their prosperity, is always better done by themselves than by any few separate and distinct individuals, acting as a government in the name of the whole.

The minds of the inhabitants of Friezland have been chastened by disasters, and ennobled by a Edition: current; Page: [293] continued independent national existence. Every other country of Germany has been bought and sold, or bequeathed as an inheritance: but Friezland has always been nearly of its present extent, and the people have always lived and fought as Friezlanders. They have a regular and a continued history of their exploits, and are ennobled by knowing that they are the descendants of men who have always been independent. But their pride has been humbled and chastened, while their minds have been strung to new toils by disasters which were inflicted by the hand of God. Their country is on a level with the sea, and it requires constant care, and great labour, to preserve it from being overwhelmed. Their history is full of sufferings, but none equals that which was occasioned by the great flood of Christmas 1717, when a large part of the land was inundated. The farm-houses were swept away, and the people whom the water spared perished from cold.

I left Embden on Tuesday, June 23d, crossed the Ems at Petkum to visit a large district that was embanked during the time the country belonged to Prussia, and therefore called the Prussian Edition: current; Page: [294] Polder. It is celebrated for its very great fertility. Unfortunately it came on to rain, and continued to rain the whole day. I recrossed the river at Weener, and reached Papenburg to sleep.

The roads are very often made on the top of the dikes, which exposes the traveller to all the fury of the tempest. In the midst of a very heavy shower, and when the wind was so strong that it was with difficulty I could keep my umbrella spread, and nothing was heard but the rain blowing against it, I was surprised by a voice close to my ear, and, turning my head rather frightened, was still more surprised to see close to my shoulder a pair of bright eyes, and rosy cheeks, speaking health, animation, and the pleasure of exertion. It was a lovely looking young woman, who, laughing, told me we might go together. I embraced the offer with great pleasure, as I measured a tall and graceful form; and, clasping my arm round her that I might shelter her better, I blessed the storm that had forced so handsome a companion to seek the shelter of my cotton roof. We walked two miles together, and before we parted, the rain, which had driven every other person within doors, had made us quite intimate. She was well dressed, as the Friezlanders generally are, and full of animation as a French woman. I have seen nothing in the character of a countrywoman half so Edition: current; Page: [295] amiable in all Germany, and I was sorry when she arrived at the farm-house to which she was going, and when I was again obliged to pursue my walk alone.

Edition: current; Page: [296]

CHAPTER IX.: papenburg—schauenburg lippe.

Celebrity of Papenburg.—Origin.—Meppen.—Nature of the country.—Increase of inhabitants.—Dirtiness of women.—Meddling of government.—Lingen.—Westphalia.—Osnabrück.—Ancient abode of the Saxons.—Memorials.—A linen hall.—Gardens.—A triumphal arch.—Relics of Charlemagne.—Literature of small towns.—Justus Möser.—Tolerance.—Penitentiary.—Soil of Osnabrück.—Suhlingen.—Nienburg.—Prison.—Counties of Hoya and Diepholz.—Loccum.—Mineral waters of Rehburg.—Schauenburg.—Lippe.—Arrive at Hannover.

There was perhaps no town of Europe that grew more suddenly into notice and eminence, during the late war, than Papenburg: Its flag flew on every sea, and protected the property of every nation; but naval officers often looked in vain in their gazetteers and charts, or hunted over their geographies, for the name of the mighty place whose trade then appeared to be greater than that of all the rest of the world. Papenburg has not yet been a century in existence; and its flag only became known to the world, because the ministry Edition: current; Page: [297] of Great Britain was pleased to allow of its neutrality. It is not one of the least of the evils of modern war that thousands of men have been constrained by it, for the protection of their property, to be guilty of perjury, and that this perjury has often been sanctioned by courts of justice and the ruling powers of several nations. The inhabitants of Papenburg amount to 3000, and they may possess at most 200 small vessels, which may enable the reader faintly to imagine the quantity of perjury which must have been necessary to swear to those papers which made some thousands of vessels, during the late war, into Papenburgers. On this account Papenburg is famous in history, and in the records of the courts of admiralty of Great Britain. It ought, however, to be known from the nature of its origin, and from its prosperity.

All around Papenburg the country is a complete bog, and the peat is in places many feet thick; it seemed to render cultivation hopeless, and to condemn the neighbourhood to perpetual sterility. There was, however, no difficulty in digging a canal from this storehouse of fuel to the Ems, and the peat then found a market in Embden and Holland. Towards the latter end of the seventeenth century, the proprietor of the country, Frey heer von Landsberg-Veelen, made a canal of about seven miles in length, from the Ems to the moor where the peat was abundant, and encouraged Edition: current; Page: [298] people to settle there, by allowing them to dig peat and build houses without paying him any thing more than a nominal rent, and a certain sum for the goods they sent by the canal. There are now several canals, large enough for vessels of 150 tons burthen, and their whole length may amount to eighteen miles. Without any other encouragement from the proprietor than that he assisted to make these canals, and allowed the people to profit by their own industry, and without any streams of royal bounty, Papenburg grew up from such beginnings, and increased to its present size. It has been one of the most prosperous little towns of Europe, and now contains more than 3000 inhabitants. It is an instance of what the unfettered industry of man can effect. By the sides of these canals there are now several ship-yards where vessels are built and fully equipped. Without having any natural products whatever but peat, the Papenburgers have become a carrying people, so far as their means extend, to the rest of Europe. Their houses are in general neat and well built, and I have seen no little town, where there was altogether a greater appearance of comfort and prosperity. When this has been accomplished in a waste, what might we not expect throughout Europe, if all its inhabitants enjoyed, as the Papenburgers did, the privilege of freely exercising their industry, and of having all its fruits for themselves? Papenburg was Edition: current; Page: [299] formerly in the dominions of the bishopric of Munster, and it now forms a part of the kingdom of Hannover.

I walked on the following day to Meppen, the principal town in the circle of the same name, and which is the most desolate part of the dominions of Hannover, and perhaps of Germany. The greater part of the circle is either morass or sand, fertility being only found in the vicinity of some little streams. Much of my day’s walk was through a country wholly of sand. It was loose, and in some places in motion, and in others blown together in hills. It was sometimes collected in fantastical forms, and had the appearance of snow after a heavy storm. In many places, where the sand had recently been again dispersed by the wind, turf and heath could be discovered, which shews, in some measure, that the waste is of modern formation. It is said to increase, and sometimes to carry barrenness over cultivated fields, compelling the farmer to change his residence, and reducing him from affluence to wretchedness.

Barren as Meppen naturally is, the number of the inhabitants has increased one third within thirty years. All the moors, particularly the Burtanger moor, on the west side of the Ems, reward the labour which is employed in cultivating them. Within thirty years many new villages have been built, and much of these moors brought under cultivation. Edition: current; Page: [300] Many people have settled on them, and there can be no doubt, if the same system be pursued, that, in the course of a few years, a great part of these wastes, particularly the moors, may be made subservient to the nourishment of man.

The system is a very simple one, and very similar to that which made Papenburg a flourishing town. There is far less of the cunning of ruling craft wanted than is supposed to make men prosperous. Meppen formerly belonged to the bishop of Munster, and he allowed any persons who chose to fix a habitation on these moors, and cultivate any part of them, on condition of paying, at the end of ten years from the time of their first settling, a small rent. The first ten years they were to pay nothing. Two thirds of the rent which they were then to pay was to be devoted to public services, such as making roads, drains, constructing parish churches, and other works of utility. From tithes they were to be entirely free, but each settler was to contribute a small quantity of corn, and a small sum of money, for the support of the parish priest. There was one oversight committed. The moor touches on Holland, and the best channel by which its superfluous water could be drained passes through that country. No agreement had been entered into with the Dutchmen as to the manner in which this was to be done, nor were any measures taken to ensure them from damage. Disputes Edition: current; Page: [301] between them and the new settlers were the consequence, and the latter had broken the dikes down which the former had erected to keep the water from coming into their land. This was a fruitful source of quarrels, which foresight, and the common interest of the two parties, could easily have prevented.

I have recently brought under the notice of the reader three instances of increasing cultivation; the two latter of which, where the people had no rents, no tithes, and few government expences to pay, may almost equal the increase of population in some parts of America. It is an extra-ordinary fact, that, with thousands and millions of acres of ground yet uncultivated in Europe, in the neighbourhood of a good market, with implements, and capital, and manure, at hand, that people should be enabled to transport themselves to America or to Russia, and there grow rich by cultivating land not better than that which lies waste in the countries they leave. The German peasants go in thousands to the Black Sea, and from there send corn to Italy, France, and Britain, when there are whole counties of waste acres in their own country, that might be easily cultivated. I believe this arises from no natural advantages belonging to Russia or America, but from the artificial disadvantages under which the labouring classes of all the old and multiplied governments of Europe live. The settlers Edition: current; Page: [302] in Russia and America enjoy nothing more than the inhabitants of Europe but freedom, at least for a season, from the expences of government, and of maintaining idle people. There are few spots which, like Meppen and Papenburg, can be cultivated without paying rent and tithes, and when these are combined with interest of capital, the expences of government, and the increased price of the articles consumed, which is occasioned by pre-existing rents and tithes, nothing is left to the labourer to reward him for his industry. The clear fact is, without sifting it from its first concoction to its last fineness, that in Europe there are so many unproductive persons who are supported at the expence of the productive ones, that those latter never receive the tithe of those fruits which nature bestows on them. It is a sad feature of society, that he who produces every thing receives almost nothing, while those persons who produce nothing revel in superfluity. Industry is the slave of idleness, and, from being constantly associated with poverty and contempt, it has become more shunned and abhorred than crime. There can be no rational hope for the permanent improvement of society, no dependence on gaols and gibbets, to prevent all the crimes which now arise from a violation of artificial property, till individual industry shall form the basis of property,—till labour shall be opulent and idleness have nothing;—till this principle be so fully Edition: current; Page: [303] established in society as it is in nature, we shall expect in vain that men should prefer labour to idleness, to cheating, or to thieving.

This was St John’s day, and as the people here are Catholics, they all went to church. The women were all clothed in a coarse red woollen cloth, with large gipsey straw hats. It rained, and the whole of them had made a sort of umbrella of their outer petticoat, by throwing it over their shoulders and heads. When they were abroad, and the air blew on them, they looked tolerably clean and fresh, but within doors, when they had resumed their working dresses, they were dirty and disgusting. I have seldom seen European women who appeared more negligent than they appeared to be. I had occasion, from its raining, to enter one or two cottages for shelter, and the women, whether young or elderly, were half undressed. They wore no stays; their linen was dirty; their gowns only half tied; their bosoms were naked, and two or three ragged aprons covered one another; they wore no shoes; their skins were unwashed, and their hair dishevelled. One amused herself with that species of hunting which is so common in Italy, and with which Laura, according to Petrarch, appears sometime to have amused herself. Another Edition: current; Page: [304] took snuff, and wiped herself with her woollen apron. Their houses resemble their persons. They have holes instead of windows; in the brightest day darkness is in them. The furniture consists in a table, a loom, two or three wooden stools, a few pewter plates and basins, with one or two kettles. Dirty as they are, the females wear on gala days gold ear-rings and silver clasps, that go over the head and keep the hair together. Vanity provides ornaments for a dirty person before necessaries for the house. Cleanliness makes both mind and body healthy, and perhaps there is nothing which can give a greater degree of permanent pleasure to the individuals of both sexes than the cleanliness of each. To introduce so much luxury among these people as would make them attend to their persons and dress, would be rendering them the most essential service. They are not idle. They are merely negligent, slovenly, and dirty. When I recollected the clean inhabitants of Embden, the contrast appeared great, and I had again reason to praise wealth and freedom. Yet in this country, where every body is poor, there are no beggars, no alms houses, no paupers, and few persons who are fed by the bounties of others.

At Meppen I heard rather a curious instance of the care of the magistracy for the morality of the people. It had been customary, on feast days and Edition: current; Page: [305] Sundays, for the poorer sort of people to meet and dance and amuse themselves, in what manner, and so long as they pleased; but the magistrates thought it would be better for their health and morality, if they were to separate at an early hour, and they consequently forbade these assemblies to be continued beyond ten o’clock. The people, who had been accustomed to remain longer together, in some measure resisted, and the whole town had been thrown into disturbance by the officiousness of the magistrates. This is a minor example of governing folly. To prevent one man from getting tipsey, or one woman from enjoying a stolen embrace, which, after all this interference, may happen, and which might not happen without it, dissension and discord are introduced through a whole town, and the community suffers more from the irritation of opposition and the punishments inflicted, than it could by any possibility have suffered if things had been left to themselves. Magistrates and laws very often make those crimes, to repress and punish which they afterwards derive most of their importance and utility.

I shall say nothing of a walk for two days through such a desolate country as I had recently passed, till I reached Osnabrück. Lingen is the only town worth mentioning that lies between the towns of Osnabrück and Meppen. It is built on the Ems, and formerly boasted a university, which is at Edition: current; Page: [306] present gone to decay. It is a clean town. The houses were rather built after the Dutch manner than the German. The farm-houses and windmills, which resemble a huge box, placed on its end, made me thoroughly sensible how much the Friez-landers have surpassed the scattered inhabitants of Westphalia. Notwithstanding the remarks of the Germans, the satirical description of Voltaire is still tolerably correct. He says, “Dans des grandes huttes qu’on appelle maisons, on voit des animaux qu’on appelle hommes, qui vivent le plus cordialement du monde, pêle mêle avec d’autres animaux domestiques. Une certaine pierre dure, noire et gluant, composée à ce qu’on dit d’une espèce de seigle, est la nourriture des maitres de la maison.” This “pierre dure et noire” is the celebrated pumpernickel, a black bread made of rye, with nothing separated from it but the husks of the grain. Each loaf is made of a bushel of meal; it requires twenty-four hours to bake, and it keeps good a month or six weeks. The houses are somewhat as Voltaire describes them, and of the people I have already spoken. In the neighbourhood of the town of Osnabrück the soil is a good clay, the land rises into hills, and is diversified with wood and water, but a great part of Westphalia is sand or moor. The houses are thinly scattered over it, and the inhabitants, yet devoted to the Catholic religion, are some of the least cultivated Edition: current; Page: [307] of the Germans. Their general food after black bread is pancakes made of the grits of buck-wheat, and meats, particularly pork and sausages of all kinds, dried amidst the smoke that hovers in the upper part of the house. The pancakes are generally eaten for supper. The customs of Holland are, however, advancing. Tea or weak coffee is very often used twice a day. One or other is the usual breakfast.

Many of the poorer inhabitants of Westphalia make a summer excursion into Holland, where they find employment as labourers. They return to their homes in winter, and then chiefly employ themselves in knitting or weaving. Though they are absolutely poor, yet they are probably content. There are no lordly castles, or splendid houses to excite desire, or to provoke envy. All are equal in poverty. Inequality of condition, and not a want of mere luxuries, renders men harsh, uncivil, and sometimes brutal. In this sandy desolate country I had frequent occasion to apply to the peasants for direction to find my way, and their assistance sometimes went beyond the bounds of common civility. They more than once accompanied me a considerable distance to put me in the right road, and always in a cheerful kind manner.

The town of Osnabrück and its neighbourhood was one of the principal seats of the most ancient Edition: current; Page: [308] inhabitants of this country. Here lived Herman, the conqueror of Varus, and here he sacrificed the captive Romans on the altars of the Saxon Gods. And here Wittelkind, six centuries later, fought the last of the battles of independence. He was conquered, and Westphalia added to the empire of the Franks, and brought under the dominion of the church. It is to this part of the country that all the recollections of early national independence attach, and Herman and Wittelkind are the great heroes of early Saxon history. The country about Osnabrück seems to have been well calculated for the residence of an independent people; and even now there is something in its wood covered and broken hills, and in the deep shade of the forests, that recalls the supersitions of the ancient inhabitants. The country hilly, rugged, and yet fertile, and surrounded on all sides by sands or morasses, offered a secure retreat and a sufficiency of nourishment to a savage people. It was one of the last civilized parts of Germany, and still retains many of those peculiar privileges and usages which were common to the ancient Saxons.

There are several piles of stones, or rude masses of granite, yet in the neighbourhood, which are thought to be monuments of the ancient Druids. Those which I saw appeared to have been washed to their place by some extraordinary convulsion of nature. They were on the top of a hill, called the Edition: current; Page: [309] Piesberg, close to the town of Osnabrück, and there so placed as to form a sort of cave in the hill. Two masses of granite lie partly buried in the earth, and on the top of them lies another mass, that may be nine feet square, and three feet thick. Neither of them bear the least mark of the labour of man, yet it is possible man might have placed them there; at least the present generation loves to lend to the rude monuments, whether of art or of nature, the fables of superstition, and stones and blocks become hallowed to the mind from being associated in its imaginations with the practices, and deeds, and sufferings of past generations. It spreads its own poetical feelings over inanimate objects, converts a rude stone to an altar, a knoll of trees to a sacred grove, and peoples the wild with beings of its own creation. No place could be better fitted for such imaginations than the country around these stones. They were on the top of a wood-covered hill, other hills equally covered with wood surrounded and rose above it. When I visited it, the last rays of the setting sun glowed among the trembling twigs of the white birch-trees that covered the hills. The perfect seclusion, and the mossy bed at the foot of the stones, tempted to repose, and to indulge in indolent imaginations. The noise of a distant forge was heard, and sometimes of waggons passing on a road not far beneath. Some of the changes which had taken place in society since this Edition: current; Page: [310] was the favourite seat of the Saxons, passed through my mind. I contrasted the present with what I knew of the past situation of man. I could not doubt that his mechanical ingenuity, and with that his comforts and conveniences, were wonderfully improved, but they were combined with a loss of individual independence, with a sort of political degradation in the mass of the society, that almost made me give the praise of superiority to the barbarous equality and rude freedom of the ancient Saxons.

Osnabrück contains 9000 people, situated on a small river called the Hase; the palace, the townhouse, the court of justice, the cathedral, are all good buildings, and there are a great many good-looking private houses belonging to merchants. Though not the largest, it is undoubtedly the best situated, and the handsomest town of his Majesty’s German dominions. It is a place of considerable trade, from being in the centre of a country where a great quantity of linen is made, and which is brought here for inspection and sale. The coarse linen called Osnabrück was formerly very much in use, but its place is now in a great measure supplied by cheaper articles made from cotton. The hall in which the linen is measured, stamped, and sold, is called a linen legge. There are persons appointed by the government to inspect the linen brought for sale, to stamp it, and to declare to what class it Edition: current; Page: [311] belongs as to fineness and size. Their marks are so much relied on, that it is said the linen is afterwards bought and sold without being further inspected. The merchants at Bremen and Hamburg, and the West Indies, who deal in it, buy it according to these marks, and not according to any opinion they form of its value. Some instances have, however, lately been discovered, in which they have been forged, and which may bring the whole into disrepute.

A great number of peasants, all cleanly dressed, had brought their webs on Saturday for inspection and sale. Some waited the selling rather anxiously, but most of them were free and full of speech. They were happy to see one another, and they overflowed with words. Two men measured every web, it was then rolled up, its quantity marked on it, and the inspector decided to what class it belonged. When a sufficient number of bolts had been collected, the inspector turned auctioneer, and sold them to three merchants who were assembled to buy, he sometimes bidding himself. There was little competition; the merchants appeared to buy at their own prices. They gave from sixty pfennige the ell for the coarse linen to eighty-two pfennige, for the finest which was sold, that is, from 8d. to 10d. per ell; formerly the price was 3d. or 4d. more per ell. This diminution of sale price, while the cost of production remains the Edition: current; Page: [312] same, all of which is suffered by the peasantry, who are generally the growers of the flax, the spinners, and the weavers, combined with a general rise in the price of most commodities, makes it appear true what the peasants said, “That linen does not now pay them for their labour.” The peasantry, who are obliged to have their linen stamped, find no other market for it but in the same hall; they are entirely at the mercy of the inspector and the capitalists, and I was not surprised to learn that most of the good houses of Osnabrück had been built by linen merchants. The peasants have the power of taking the linen away if they do not like the price, but they said they should then find nobody to purchase it, and its sale is necessary to their subsistence. The capitalist has an advantage against which they cannot contend, and he grows rich by merely buying and selling, while the manufacturers remain poor. The establishment of such linen-halls in most of the towns in the neighbourhood of which much linen is made, is thought a measure of great wisdom, and is proportionally praised by most German authors. Westphalia, which is itself so barren, formerly owed much of its prosperity to the manufactory of linen, but the present price barely pays the labour, and there can be little doubt unless a cheaper method is found out of making it, that cotton will ultimately banish it entirely from the market. The machinery of England has injured Edition: current; Page: [313] the Continent by enabling us to undersell its inhabitants, but their indolence is to blame, and not our energy. The inhabitants of Westphalia deserve our pity, for it will be long before they can find any other species of industry by which they so profitably occupy their time in winter as making linen.

I do not know how to express my notion of the quietness, amiableness, and general content of the German character, in any other manner than by repeating the facts on which it is founded. One of the most conspicuous of these is the numerous little gardens, with arbours, and hills, and walks, and flowers, that surround all German towns, and in which the greater part of the inhabitants may be seen every afternoon smoking their pipes, and cultivating their flowers and fruits, or reposing in their summer houses, sewing or reading, or more lovingly with their arms encircling each other, walking to and fro, and communing, though undisturbed, not unseen, or taking their evening meal under the trees, or singing as if all were happy. All round the walls of Osnabrück, such images as these of peace and amiableness were to be seen. At one place, however, they were rather disturbed by a new gate having been erected in the form of a triumphal arch to the honour of the Landwehr of Osnabrück, who were at the battle of Waterloo. A Herr von Gurlich had Edition: current; Page: [314] erected this, and had inscribed his name on it, that, by honouring others, he himself may be known to posterity. It is a pity that a remembrance of war and deeds of carnage should have been allowed to be reared amidst such scenes of domestic bliss. But the respect and reverence which the Germans entertain for the military is one of the worst features of their character. If a man have served as an officer, no matter whom, he is honoured, while an honest tradesman is the object of contempt. Their love of gardens, and of flowers, and of domestic bliss, is their natural character; their respect for soldiers is the result of the medals and fictitious honours by which men are still bribed to be the instruments of death in the hands of ambition. I looked at the enjoyments of others, and then sojourned with my host into his garden. The evening was calm, and the whole scene one of content and peace.

I have rarely beheld the gardens which surround the towns of Germany without wishing the environs of our own masses of bricks, and clouds of smoke of our manufacturing towns, might also be divided into gardens, where those who pleased might find a healthy amusement in the cultivation of their own cabbages. It is at least a pity that those who might be disposed to spare some hours from the alehouse, cannot have an opportunity of devoting them to so pleasing and softening an occupation Edition: current; Page: [315] as rearing a few flowers and fruits. Such a division of the lands in the neighbourhood of large towns might not add to the quantity of productions, but it would to the health and the morality of the people. There is one great hindrance to the completion of such a wish. In our country, unhappily, every little spot must be protected from depredation by walls or hedges, or man-traps and spring-guns; in Germany, they are often unenclosed, and yet they who plant the cabbages, or sow the potatoes, have the pleasure of consuming them.

For the gratification of the curious reader, I must mention, that in the cathedral at Osnabrück an ivory comb and staff, and a crown, said to have belonged to Charlemagne, are preserved as religious relics.

Osnabrück is an instance of what I have before met with in Germany, that is, a small town which, without either having a university, or being a royal residence, is yet in some sort celebrated for its literature. It was formerly the residence of the Prince Bishop, but no court has been kept to bring with it polish and refinement since the days of Ernest Augustus, the father of George the First. The nobility of the province have in general resided here, and it has always been the seat of the government, and tribunal for the province. The last has had an influence on the reputation of Osnabrück, Edition: current; Page: [316] for Justus Möser, who is celebrated for his apothegms, as the Franklin of Germany, and who was one of its classical historians, was president of this tribunal. He is known among his countrymen as the noble Herrliche Justus Möser, and we must allow them to be the best judges of his merit. His political writings are praised, but it is the advice which, as a man of rank, and many occupations, he gave in small sentences to the peasant and the citizen in the “Weekly Intelligence” of Osnabrück relative to education, to clothing, to diet, to managing their houses, that have gained him the most credit, and that did him the most honour. Literary men so seldom bend their minds to any useful thing of this kind, and the literary men of Germany so seldom trouble themselves with any of the affairs of life, that this example to the contrary merits to be recorded. This gentleman was one of that numerous class of enlightened men who improved the language and literature of Germany between the years 1760 and 1790. Most of his works were written between these two epochs. Till lately, a periodical work on agriculture was published at Osnabrück, which is now suspended, but which, it was hoped, quiet would allow to be again resumed. Three or four tolerable booksellers’ shops, two Latin schools, and the conversation of its people, shewed that Osnabrück has not yet lost all its claim to literary reputation. This love Edition: current; Page: [317] of literature in small towns where there are neither universities nor courts, is an evidence of its general diffusion.

The half of the inhabitants, both of the town and province of Osnabrück, are Catholics, but they live in such harmony, that it is necessary to make inquiries to learn that they follow different religions. The people are themselves ignorant if one sect has more privileges than another. The judges are half Catholics and half Protestants. The cathedral is Catholic, and there is a Catholic bishop, who has united himself with a Bible society, composed chiefly of Protestants. The bishop must not be confounded with the Prince Bishop of Osnabrück. The revenues of the country belong to the latter, or rather at present to the government of Hannover, but the real consecrated bishop is chosen by his own prebends, subject to the approval of the government, and enjoys a fixed and not a very large income.

There is a Zucht-house, or penitentiary, also at Osnabrück, but because Monday was a feast day, I was not permitted to see it. It is an airy spacious building, in which the prisoners were confined in rooms, each containing sixteen or twenty persons. The only work they do is spinning; they are nourished independently of what they earn, and their labour has little value. To compel them to work, while their nourishment does not depend on Edition: current; Page: [318] what they gain, is one means of reducing the price which is paid for the labour of people who have to nourish themselves. There can be no question that the forced and cheap labour of prisoners helps to reduce the rewards of the free labourer, and to enrich the merchant at his expence. Condemning criminals to labour, therefore, produces poverty among honest labourers, multiplies pauperism, increases inequalities of condition, and remotely augments crime. The earnings of the people thus shut up were as nothing. They do not pay the apothecary, said the keeper.

The northern part of the province of Osnabrück is moor, or a sandy soil, that naturally produces little more than heath. The southern part is hilly, and has a good clay soil on limestone. Coals are found and worked in one or two places in the province, but more are worked in the territories of Prussia, a little distance from Osnabrück. Lime is burnt in several places. The greater part of the hills seem to be an aggregate of loose stones, and similar ones appear at one time to have covered the whole country. As they are removed, a good stiff clay soil, approaching, in its colour, to red, remains. It is easy of culture, and fruitful, and, though much of Osnabrück is barren, it is far from being the worst part of the dominions of Hannover.

From Osnabrück I turned my face again towards Edition: current; Page: [319] the town of Hannover, and, passing through part of the county of Diepholz, and the little town of the same name, I reached Suhlingen on the evening of Monday, June 29.

The name of the county of Diepholz is known as the title which the Duke of Cambridge generally uses in travelling. The long straggling village, or town of the same name, is rather famous for a manufactory of coarse cloth. About eighty persons, each for himself, are employed in this manufactory. They complained much also of the decay of trade, but men complain from disappointed hope, and, while hope outruns reality, there will always be a subject of complaint. Suhlingen is celebrated for the convention concluded there in 1803, between the Hannoverian army under Count Wallmoden and the French army under Marshal Mortier, and which conferred no honour on the former. The king refused to ratify it. It is also famous in the statistical accounts of Hannover, as a town where much iron is manufactured. I had heard of prodigious manufactories of sickles, scythes, and knives, and deemed it a sort of Carron. There are four master smiths, who, besides working themselves, employ each of them four or five journeymen. They do the common work of the place, such as shoeing horses, mending ploughshares, &c. and may, moreover, make about 6000 scythes in a year. This is one of the great iron manufactories Edition: current; Page: [320] of Hannover. The journeymen live with the family of the master, and earn also eight pistoles, about L. 6, 13s. 4d. per year. This was not the first time I had been deluded by statistical writers, and it is only when we have seen with our own eyes that we know what is meant by their exaggerated language. A few weavers who make a little coarse linen form an extensive manufactory. Four common forges make a town into a Carron or a Birmingham, and catching a few trout and sending them to Hamburg, which we should regard as a precarious means of procuring a miserable subsistence, is called a flourishing commerce.

Nienburg is a decent town, situated on the Weser, and on the road between Bremen and Hannover; but, though its situation is thus advantageous, it has very little trade, from the greater part of the country about it being thinly inhabited and badly cultivated. The inhabitants are generally so poor that they have nothing to give for superfluities, and, consequently, can buy nothing. I met a gentleman at the inn who was going to the sea for the benefit of bathing, but who was obliged to wait several hours for post horses. The posts are not better regulated, therefore, when monopolized by the crown, and when under its control, than when they are conducted by individuals, who establish them for the sake of profit.

I visited another prison, in which men are confined Edition: current; Page: [321] who have been condemned to labour and imprisonment for a certain term of years. If the two previously mentioned at Celle and Osnabrück had some advantages of situation and appearance, this was a wretched place. It is an old tower, which was once a part of the fortifications, and, as they have been destroyed, it stands isolated, and is, as it looks to be, a ruin. There were four apartments, one over the other. One of them was occupied by the keeper; in the other three 117 persons were confined. A great part of them were at the moment out at work. The sick, and some who had been at work, were in the house. The irregular form of the building made the rooms of a strange three-cornered sort of shape. In every apartment was a wooden bench, like those in guard-houses, on which some beds were strewed, and a few of the sick and lazy were lying on them. All sorts of filth were lying on the floor, and clothes of various kinds were hanging from the ceiling, or against the walls. A few miserable half-clothed beings mourned rather than cursed their fate. They complained of want of medicines and food, and of a want of medical attendance. One was writing; some were reading; some were calmly talking with one another, or anxious to address me. It was altogether a miserable habitation, but there was no noise, nor confusion, nor imprecations. The only keeper I saw was a woman, who took no precaution to lock the door behind Edition: current; Page: [322] her when she entered, and who spoke to the prisoners like familiar acquaintance. From not knowing her subjects so well as she knew them, I was afraid of an insurrection, but they wanted courage to attempt an escape. There was no classification of prisoners; those who had been detected in their first essay at guilt, and old hardened offenders, were shut up together. The depraved might not only teach vice to the innocent, but encourage them to commit it, by pointing out the methods by which they might escape the vengeance of the law. All distinction of crime also appeared likely to be obliterated by indiscriminate punishments. The soldier for desertion, and the profligate thief, were condemned to the same gaol and the same labour. There was no place for the prisoners to take exercise; they never breathed the fresh air but when they went abroad to work, and every one but the sick wore shackles.

The torture was not at this time abolished in Hannover, but none of the prisoners would confess that it had been inflicted on them; they all said their crimes were too trifling, though they all knew what it was. They complained, however, of the arbitrary will of the magistrates, to which they attributed their punishments much more than to their own crimes. Such assertions cannot be disproved where the trials are secret, but they may be by publicity of procedure. I am far from pitying Edition: current; Page: [323] the man who suffers in consequence of his own crimes, but I doubt if the criminal is rightly punished by being condemned to a gaol; and when I have sometimes seen the misery it incloses from the world, and have for a moment extended my thoughts to all the sufferings of our race, I have doubted if more be not inflicted on us by the pride or vanity of what is called Reason than by our own most violent and degrading lusts.

Nienburg is in the county of Hoya, which, with the county of Diepholz, through which I had just passed, are usually spoken of and described together in statistical accounts of Hannover, and I shall, therefore, here add a short description of them. They are generally flat, without being absolutely level. The soil is chiefly sand, sometimes coarse, approaching to gravel; heather covers the greater part, morasses and bogs are numerous, and much peat is dug for fuel. On the Weser and on the Aller there is good marsh land and meadows. In Diepholz there is a lake called Dummer See, Dull Lake, which name it deserves. It is surrounded with swamps, and looks something like the poet’s description of Lethe. A great part of these provinces are waste and uncultivated. From brick earth being found in several places beneath the surface, from trees growing luxuriantly, there is reason to think a moderate portion of labour might so improve the soil, as to render it productive. Edition: current; Page: [324] Habitations are thinly scattered, and the people have the character of being the most boorish, ignorant, and guzzling of all the inhabitants of Hannover. My own experience allows me to say nothing on this point. The houses which I saw were invariably badly built, the people badly clothed, and shewing several signs of poverty and wretchedness.

From Nienburg I walked, by the banks of the Weser, to a village called Leese. Much tobacco was cultivated in this neighbourhood, though, owing to very dry weather, neither it nor any other plant or herb was looking well. The soil was sandy. A due proportion of water is a desideratum in all agricultural undertakings, and it may be hoped this will, at some future time, be absolutely at the command of the agriculturist. In this neighbourhood was one of those very large royal farms which will afterwards be described, the tenant of which was riding about in a sort of wicker carriage to inspect his workmen. The landlord at Leese hired the tithes of the village. He also was an agriculturist.

There was formerly a monastery at Loccum, to where I walked from Leese. It is now secularized. The buildings, however, remain. Some prebends still enjoy emoluments from its revenues, and the abbot of Loccum is the highest and only dignitary of the Hannoverian church. The abbey Edition: current; Page: [325] is situated in a fruitful and pleasant country. While the good fathers who once possessed it were careful to promise the joys of heaven to the people, they took those vulgar ones which the earth could bestow to themselves.

In the course of my walk, though there was here no high-road, I had two or three peasants for my companions. With one I walked, and with another I rode in his waggon. One I found glad that the services he used to pay his lord had been commuted into money. He knew, and described very well, in what manner both tenant and lord were injured by the former being obliged to do the work of the latter. It was badly done, and the teams, and servants, and people who did it, got into slovenly habits, that they afterwards carried into their own occupations, and thus idleness and negligence were the consequences of compelling some men to labour for others. Another peasant was the enemy of improvement; he liked things as they were, and thought no good would come from dividing and inclosing commons; he was a loyal good subject, who loved the taxes and the conscription for the landwehr, and the king and his ministers, and all which they commanded.

Rehburg, through which I passed, is one of the most famous and fashionable watering-places of Hannover. The Germans seem to have a greater taste to visit such places in the summer than Edition: current; Page: [326] we have. There is hardly a person of respectability who does not go to some mineral-well every year, and those who cannot go have the water brought to them in bottles, that they may at least drink the precious beverage. The waters of Rehburg are of sovereign efficacy against the gout. The situation of the place is probably more efficacious. It commands an extensive view over a large lake, Steinhuder Meer, and an interesting country. The wooded hill at the foot of which it stands is laid out in agreeable walks, all planned by the architect of the crown, and the buildings, which are also under his care and superintendence, are neat and convenient. The government monopolizes the mineral waters, and only allows them to be used under the direction of the physicians it appoints. Its subjects are deeply indebted to it for the care it takes of their health.

The little principality of Schauenburg-Lippe intervenes here between one part of the dominions of Hannover and another, and it was necessary, on leaving Rehburg, to traverse a part of this to arrive at Wunstorf, which is also Hannoverian. This independent principality lies in the midst of the territories of Hannover, Prussia, and Hesse Cassel. But its sovereigns have long had a reputation of being equally free from ambition and servility. Their dominions have not been enlarged, neither have they been incorporated by any larger state. Edition: current; Page: [327] They amount only to 120 square miles, and contain 30,000 inhabitants. The revenue may amount to L. 20,000 Sterling. It is a fruitful and well cultivated little district. States, or a parliament, have always been in use here. They are composed of deputies from the nobility—Rittershaft,—and deputies from the towns; and their servants, not the servants of the sovereign, receive and dispose of the produce of the taxes. United with Lippe, Detmold, and the principalities of Hohenzollern, Liechtenstein, and Waldeck, it has a seat in the diet of Germany.

Near Wunstorf stands a monument erected to the memory of the Danish General Obentraut, who was killed in that neighbourhood in the year 1625, in the thirty years which ravaged the whole of Germany. After having hastily traversed most of the provinces which compose the north-western part of the kingdom of Hannover in five weeks, I again reached the town of Hannover on Wednesday, July 1. I had had friendly salutations at parting, and I was kindly welcomed back.

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CHAPTER X.: kalenberg—the harz.

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 Edition: current; Page: [329] 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 Edition: current; Page: [330] 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 Edition: current; Page: [331] 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 Edition: current; Page: [332] 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 Edition: current; Page: [333] 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 Edition: current; Page: [334] 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 Edition: current; Page: [335] 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 Edition: current; Page: [336] 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 Edition: current; Page: [337] 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. Edition: current; Page: [338] 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 Edition: current; Page: [339] 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 Edition: current; Page: [340] 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 Edition: current; Page: [341] 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 Edition: current; Page: [342] 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 Edition: current; Page: [343] 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 Edition: current; Page: [344] 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 Edition: current; Page: [345] 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 Edition: current; Page: [346] 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 Edition: current; Page: [347] 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 Edition: current; Page: [348] 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, Edition: current; Page: [349] 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 Edition: current; Page: [350] 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 Edition: current; Page: [351] 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 Edition: current; Page: [352] 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 Edition: current; Page: [353] 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 Edition: current; Page: [354] 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 Edition: current; Page: [355] 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 Edition: current; Page: [356] 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 Edition: current; Page: [357] 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 Edition: current; Page: [358] 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 Edition: current; Page: [359] 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 Edition: current; Page: [360] 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 Edition: current; Page: [361] 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 Edition: current; Page: [362] 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 Edition: current; Page: [363] 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 Edition: current; Page: [364] 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 Edition: current; Page: [365] 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 Edition: current; Page: [366] 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.

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CHAPTER XI.: hannover—statistical and historical view.

Different provinces of Hannover.—Names and size.—Population.—Boundaries.—Historical view.—Thirty years’ war.—Union of territories.—Their extent when the Elector was called to the throne of Great Britain.—Act of settlement gave a ninth elector to Germany.—Acquisition of Bremen and Verden.—Of territory at the Congress of Vienna.

There is no land properly called Hannover, and this is the only monarchy in Europe whose title is borrowed from the chief city of its territories. This title was first used when Ernest Augustus, the father of George I. obtained the dignity of an elector of the empire, and it is now applied both to the newly acquired and to the long-possessed German dominions of his majesty. The history of this part of Germany prior to the above period, mentions the Dukes of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, or Lüneburg, or the Prince of Kalenberg, or the Archbishop of Bremen, but the name Hannover was then used only to designate an almost independent city, which often refused obedience to its nominal sovereigns, and never obeyed them but on stipulated conditions.

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The kingdom of Hannover is now composed of several provinces, each of which enjoyed, at no very distant period, a separate independent existence. Several of them have been already mentioned and described, and the following is a correct list of their names, size, and population. The most northern part of the kingdom is placed first. The information is taken from Erd Beschreibung des Königreichs Hannover. Von K. D. A. Sonne. Sondershausen, 1817.

Size. Number of Inhabitants.
Names of Provinces. In square geographical miles. In the whole province. To each square geographical mile.
1st, Archbishopric of Bremen, dukedom of Verden, and Land Hadeln 2006.56 191,160 95
2d, Dukedom of Lüneburg 3204. 245,976 77
3d, Counties of Hoya and Diepholz 1070.40 105,120 98
4th, Principality of Kalenberg, and county of Spiegelberg 786.72 138,306 176
5th, Bishopric of Hildesheim 515.04 128,938 250
6th, Principalities of Göttingen and Grubenhagen 880.80 178,929 196
7th, Bishoprick of Osnabrück 695.36 126,037 119
8th, County of Lingen 99.36 20,143 201
9th, Circle of Meppen and Emsbuhren 576.00 29,541 51
10th, County of Bentheim 270.40 24,364 69
11th, Principality of East Friezland 840.00 125,610 155
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The whole number of inhabitants in Hannover was, in 1816—1817, 1,314,124, and, on an average of the whole, 120 persons are found living on each square mile of territory. The inhabitants are, however, very unequally divided. In the fertile bishoprick of Hildesheim, there are 250 persons; in the sandy Lüneburg, 77; and in the small, and still more desolate Meppen, only 51 persons to each square mile. Seventy-three cities and 5311 market towns and villages are enumerated as belonging to Hannover. In the whole kingdom there were, from 1816 to 1817, 43,317 births, 33,254 deaths, and 13,786 marriages. On an average, there were more than three children to each marriage. The excess of births over deaths is accounted for more by emigration than by an increase of population. The number of births and deaths for 1817—1818 will be found in an appendix, which is also valuable as shewing the number of children born out of marriage in each part of Hannover.

Hannover contains, in all, 11,045 square geographical miles, but its circumference can by no means be expressed, because, after all the efforts which have been made to “round states,” it is still intersected by the whole dukedom of Oldenburg. The free city of Bremen, the principality of Lippe-Schauenburg, and the Amt Ritzebüttel, belonging to Hamburg, lie within its circumference, and Edition: current; Page: [370] a portion of territory belonging to Brunswick completely separates one of its provinces from all the others: with these exceptions, its northern boundary, including the mouths of the three great rivers, the Ems, the Weser, and the Elbe, is the sea. The eastern boundary is the Elbe, with the exception of a small portion of territory which lies on the eastern side of that river; West Friezland, belonging to the king of the Netherlands, bounds it on the west; that portion of Westphalia which belongs to Prussia, and the principality of Lippe-Detmold, lie on the south-west; Hesse Cassel on the south; Brunswick and Magdeburg, belonging to Prussia, on the south-east side.

Germany differs from the other countries of Europe, inasmuch as all the inhabitants, with the exception of the Sclavonic race, speak the same, or dialects of the same language. The Germans are truly a nation or people, but have never been united under one government, so as to form a power. Most of the powers of Europe are composed of different nations, but have long had a bond of union in a common government. As it is this latter circumstance which makes up that idea which is expressed by the words,—our country,—much more than mere geographical limits, the Germans have necessarily wanted that ardent attachment to Germany which Frenchmen have to France, and Britons to their native island. “Il n’y Edition: current; Page: [371] point,” says Mad. De Stael, “un grand amour pour la patrie dans un empire divisé depuis plusieurs siècles, où les Allemands combattoient contre les Allemands, presque toujours excités par une impulsion étrangère.” Feuds and broils, rather than national wars, have ever made up the military history of Germany. Many of the feats which military history holds up to us as worthy of our admiration, ought to be regarded with abhorrence, yet the pride of belonging to a race long superior in honourable feats of arms may be an ennobling feeling. The sons of those men who have been distinguished in the field of blood, will shine in the better pursuits of science, when the growing knowledge of mankind shall make the arts of peace more honourable than those of war: and nothing but the practice of giving superiority to the children of superior men, prevents the former from surpassing the latter. Thus the very means which are taken by those giant men who occasionally win the empire of the world to transmit it to their posterity, cause it to pass away from their enfeebled descendants. Hannover is in a great measure in miniature what Germany is in the full sized portrait.

At the earliest periods of the history of the north of Germany, the present dominions of Hannover were the dwellings of those nations who, under the command of Herrman, or the general, or Arminius, defeated the Romans under Varus, and Edition: current; Page: [372] appear to have completely excluded the Roman armies and Roman civilization. The name of Cherushers has not, however, descended to their posterity, and the present generation having justly learned to despise the ferociousness of their ancestors, seem also to have no claim to their glory of loving and courageously struggling for independence. This is the first great event in their history, and from this period till Charlemagne sent his army to conquer and baptize them, in the eighth century, they appear to have made few approaches to civilization. The change from paganism to Christianity was encircled with that glory which belongs to a just, though unsuccessful national resistance. They became Christians, and both the sagacity and the magnanimity of the conqueror appear conspicuous in his allowing his unsuccessful opponent, Wittekind, to take with his new religion the new title of Duke of Saxony, and thus to preserve the government of his dominions.

The new dukedom must not, however, be confounded with what we at present call Saxony. The former appears to have extended from the Elbe to the Ems, and to have inclosed, with the mountains of the Harz, all the land that lay between them and the sea. It became, from the valour of the Saxons, one of the most extensive and mighty powers of Germany, and, in the year 918, one of its dukes was elected Emperor of Germany. It Edition: current; Page: [373] remained a powerful dukedom till the twelfth century, when Henry the Lion (the duke) was put to the ban of the empire, and all his extensive territories were divided into parcels, never again to be united, and never more to be conspicuous till one of his descendants was called to the British throne. It was the armies of Charlemagne, who, carrying with them the arts and religion of the south, first introduced improvements amongst the Saxons. A more extensive government was established, and it put a stop to most of those petty wars which had formerly desolated the country. It was, however, one of the last civilized parts of Europe. Towns appear to have been first built in the tenth century, but then their progress was rapid, and, in the thirteenth century, some of them, as Brunswick and Goslar, formed part of the Hanseatic league.

The thirty years’ war, the most conspicuous event which intervened between the time of putting Henry to the ban of the empire, and the accession of one of his descendants to the throne of Great Britain, is rather to be considered as a religious broil, and as a struggle of many petty chiefs for power, than as a national contest. He who could do most mischief,—who could work the greatest cruelty,—appears to have been the greatest man. The changes of party in the chiefs, the numerous mercenaries, the pillaging, destruction, and wanton Edition: current; Page: [374] murders, give this contest the character of a war of banditti. Hannover shared in its crimes and punishments. The policy of its chiefs was changeable, and the country was more than once desolated.

It was only in 1680 that the right of primogeniture was fully established in our royal family, and it was George I. who, in consequence of this right, first united a considerable portion of the ancient territories of Henry the Lion under one sovereign. Before that period, government was an attribute of property, and never distinguished from it; the land was divided as an inheritance, and the people often fought to decide to whom they were to belong. Since that period, whenever the people of Hannover have appeared in history, it has been rather as the allies of Britain than as an independent nation. Their country then came to be considered as an appanage of their sovereign’s crown, and the Edition: current; Page: [375] dignity of the elector and of his people was lost in the greater dignity of another nation, to none of whose ancient glories they could lay any claim. Few people, therefore, have fewer ennobling historical recollections than the inhabitants of the different provinces of Hannover. This fact, which deserves to be remembered, from the influence it may have had on their national character, accounts, probably, for their wanting that lofty port for which they are sometimes reproached.

Sophia, the mother of George I. of England, appears to have been a woman of talent. She was honoured by the assistance and friendship of Leibnitz, and devoted herself to the aggrandisement of her family. Through her exertions, and the exertions of the celebrated minister, Grote; through the timely assistance which they gave to the Emperor, and through much solicitation, they wrung from him in the year 1692, the dignity of an elector of the empire, for Ernest Augustus, the husband of Sophia. Three of the electors, however, and most of the princes of the empire who were not electors, opposed this grant, and he never possessed more than the mere nominal dignity. William III. of England exerted all his influence to soften the princes of the empire. In the year 1700 Sophia was declared heiress to the British throne, with succession Edition: current; Page: [376] to her heirs, and an immediate alteration was observed in the opinions of the German princes. When this was confirmed, in 1705, the most sturdy opponent of the new dignity, Anton Ulrich, Duke of Wolfenbüttle, ceased his opposition, and, in 1708, George I. was for the first time fully invested with the dignities of archtreasurer and elector of the empire. The ennobling of our royal family was therefore effected by British influence, and our Act of Settlement gave a ninth elector to Germany.

When George I. succeeded his father, in the year 1698, his whole dominions probably did not contain more than 2120 square geographical miles, and 354,000 inhabitants. He united the dutchy of Lüneburg to these at the death of his uncle, in 1705, and these, making together 6200 square miles of territory, and containing, at most, 600,000 inhabitants, were all the dominions of our royal family when it was called to the throne of Great Britain.

In 1715, George I. purchased of Denmark the dutchies of Bremen and Verden. They were the last remains of the conquests which Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden had made in Germany. They were conquered by Denmark from Sweden in 1712, and in 1715 sold by the former power to the Elector Edition: current; Page: [377] of Hannover, for the sum of 900,000 florins, about L. 90,000 Sterling. This, however, displeased Sweden, and she was only induced formally to resign her claim to them by the terror inspired by an English fleet, and by George giving to her the sum of 1,500,000 florins, L. 150,000 Sterling.

In 1753, Bentheim was taken in pawn, by the Elector of Hannover, for a sum of money, and the dominions of Hannover consisted only of these provinces, till they were occupied by the French. The alterations which then took place, the manner in which the territory was divided and despoiled, till it again returned under the dominion of its former sovereign, are events which, from their recency, must be too well known to make it necessary for me to repeat them.

According to the geographer, Busching, and the historian, Spittler, the territories of Hannover contained, in 1797, and from that time till the occupation of the country by the French, no alteration took place, 8560 square miles, and 800,000 inhabitants. At the same time the alternate sovereignty of Osnabrück belonged to the elector of Hannover; its full sovereignty was only given to him by the Congress of Vienna; and it was not included by these authors in their estimate of the dominions of Hannover. It may therefore be included in Edition: current; Page: [378] the territory acquired by the decisions of that Congress. It has before been stated what is the present extent of these territories, viz. 11,044 square miles, containing 1,314,124 inhabitants. They are now, therefore, greater than they were before the occupation of the country by the French, by 2484 square miles; and now contain 464,124 people more than they did then; or our sovereign acquired, by the decisions and treaties made at the Congress of Vienna, (though, for a purpose it is easy to imagine, they were not immediately carried into execution,) an increase of territory amounting to more than one-fourth of what he before possessed in Germany, and an increase of people amounting to more than one-half of the former number of his German subjects. The minister of Great Britain at that celebrated Congress did not forget that his master was also sovereign of Hannover.

According to the progress of population in long peopled countries, a part of the increase of people might be owing to an increase in the number inhabiting the old territories of Hannover. There is, however, reason to think, from the general want Edition: current; Page: [379] of improvement in the country from the decay of some towns, as Lüneburg, and many manufactories, that if any of this increase be owing to this cause, it must be a very small proportion.

Prussia gave East Friezland, with the much desired port of Embden, Hildesheim, and some other small districts, to Hannover, and the prayers of the Saxons were not heard by our ministry. When the sovereign of Great Britain added to his foreign dominions, the British nation was degraded to assist in severing the Saxons from the paternal rule of a monarch whom they highly loved. They are not far surpassed by any other nation in Europe for an attachment to literature and the sciences, and they are equal to any one in the lighter graces of the mind, and in the charities of the heart. We owe most of our improvements in religion to the Saxons, yet we allowed a large part of them, for the gratification of ambition, clothed with the delusive names of political expediency, to be torn from under the gentle sway of a monarch to whom they were fondly attached, and we united them to the most military despotism of Europe. No person who has not seen the Saxons, and mixed with the middling classes of that people, can duly appreciate the sufferings which were inflicted on thousands of men to gratify the ambition of one.

Hannover has, therefore, grown to its present size from the same causes which have enabled most Edition: current; Page: [380] of the other monarchies of Europe to embrace in their dominions people who formerly lived under different governments, who possessed different laws, and who still speak different languages. Some parts of these dominions have fallen to the chiefs as an inheritance, others have been conquered, and others have been the gifts of Congresses, which have usurped with more subtlety of arrogance than conquerors, a right to make a property of the human race. We censure and reproach justly the barbarians who still traffic with individual men, and we cannot discover the greater iniquity of buying and selling whole nations.

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CHAPTER XII.: hannover—government.

Passive obedience characteristic of the Germans.—Former chief minister of Hannover.—Present ministry.—The chamber.—Provincial governments.—Prevent the practice of animal magnetism.—Magistracy of towns.—Power of the sovereign over them.—Character of city magistrates.—Amts what.—Police.—Government of the church.—Pastors.—Superintendents.—Consistoriums.—An anecdote.—Appointment of clergymen.—Revenues of the church.—Secularized convents.—Appointment of an abbot.—Character of the government.

Till a very recent period, it seems as if each generation had thought its own institutions the best which the wit of man could plan, and that they ought to be and would be the institutions of their posterity for ever. At present, however, men begin to doubt even their own wisdom on this point, and because every thing has changed, they argue that every thing must continue changing, that the institutions of to-day will want the wisdom which will only be acquired to-morrow, and that none can Edition: current; Page: [382] remain unchanged till the full completion of knowledge, and the perfection of reason.

Governments depend on opinion, and thus, notwithstanding the many efforts which have been made to preserve them in one and the same form, they have always varied in their spirit, at least so much as any of the sciences which have been subjected to investigation by a large body of inquirers. From these general facts, it is probable now that the sovereigns of Germany have very generally succeeded in abolishing most or all of the separate privileges of towns, and of the nobles, in beating down all other organized power but their own, in reducing all men to one uniform measure of submission, that they will be obliged to recede by the invisible but overwhelming power of opinion. Though passive obedience has long been one characteristic of the inhabitants of Germany, there is a few persons amongst them who are beginning an inquiry into the principle of obedience, and who are laying in a change of opinion a foundation for a change of government. It is a remark of one of their own authors, that “they fear every authority even when it does wrong, much more than they fear the reproaches of their own consciences for regarding public oppression with indifference.’ This is, in truth, their present character, but while one person is found with spirit to remark it, there is a Edition: current; Page: [383] hope it will improve. It is proper to warn the reader of the probability of the improvement.

The chief minister of most of the sovereigns of Germany, and of the members of the house of Brunswick, at a period somewhat before they became kings of Great Britain, was a person called a Chancellor, who was generally not a nobleman, and was always a man cunning in the law, attached to no particular country of Germany, pledged to no system of politics, except as he was a Protestant or a Catholic, and bent on nothing but to increase his own and his employers’ power. Such persons, by their knowledge of that foreign law which had then recently spread itself from the universities over Germany, were the great instruments of quietly taking from the nobles, and other superior classes, their exclusive privileges, of substituting their own beloved studies for the ancient laws of Germany, and of giving to their masters a species of power resembling that possessed by the great object of their admiration, the Emperor Justinian. Some few years before the accession of George the First to the throne of Great Britain, the ministry was formed rather more after the model of the French. The monarch appointed a cabinet-council, and ministers to different departments of the public service. The nobles had now learned how to conduct business, they alone were appointed to all these places, they have filled them ever since, and the Edition: current; Page: [384] chancellor sunk to be merely the chief of the administration of justice.

Since the accession of the elector to the throne of Great Britain, Hannover has always been governed by a council, now called the States and Cabinet Ministry. In important matters, it only executes the will of the sovereign; in matters of less moment, it has the power of acting from itself. With an absent sovereign, whom the subjects cannot approach even with a petition, but through the ministry, it is the actual sovereign. Munchausen, who was the chief of the cabinet under George the Second, is the only minister who seems to have at all merited the notice of the writers of history. Much of his fame arises from his having been the actual founder, under his master, of the University of Göttingen. Learned men are exposed to the influence of wealth like other men, and they praise and honour whatever they think promotes the advantages of their sect. The monarch who now wishes for most glory, should probably establish many Universities.

The Duke of Cambridge is at present the president of the Cabinet Ministry; and, with the title of Governor-General, he is the chief of the government. The members of this cabinet ministry have all the titles of excellence. Claus. von der Decken, Count Munster, who resides in London, as the minister of Hannover, Edition: current; Page: [385] Frans Dieterich Bremer, Count Hardenberg; Charles Fred. Alex. von Arnswaldt, are the chief ministers; and there are some subordinate ones. The ministry is divided into several departments, each of which has a secretary, who is not, however, always for each one a different person; and these secretaries are to be considered as the efficient men of business. At present finances are the most difficult and most important part of government; and the secretary of that department, Dr Rehberg, is usually spoken of as the most capable man of the government. He receives most of the praise and most of the censure which different people bestow on its acts. He has long been a conspicuous man, both as a statesman and as an author; and so far as regards political matters, he is more spoken of than the governor-general himself.

There is a branch of government to which we have nothing precisely similar in England, called the Kammer, Chamber; and which, to give a proper idea of its complexity, must be noticed. Its duty is to manage and administer the whole of that property belonging to the crown which is called domains. Under this is included regalia, certain rights to forests, to salt, to metals, to levy tolls, and some other privileges, together with rather more than one-sixth of the whole land of the Edition: current; Page: [386] ancient dominions, without including that which did belong to religious corporations, and which is now under the control of the monarch.

The Duke of Cambridge presides over the Chamber also; it is further under the control of one of the ministers, and has, as the active men of business, a vice-president and six councillors, with a great many assistants called cameralen, secretaries, writers, and other people. It possesses subordinate officers, composing sorts of colleges for the local government of the royal property in most of the provinces. The greater part of the persons employed in the administration of justice in the country are appointed by it. A large body of officers for the mines and for the forests, regularly organised into account-keeping and superintending, into riding and walking, with all the persons who superintend the buildings on the royal property, or who look after bridges and roads, are appointed by the Chamber. It is also a court for the decision of such causes as involve complaints against the tenants of royal property, relative to that property. It decides on any complaints made against its subordinate servants for the improper use of their power. It is an extensive branch of government separate and distinct from the ministry, though in some measure under its superior control. It employs a great number of persons. The great utility which is generally ascribed, not Edition: current; Page: [387] only to it, but to the crown, possessing so much property, is, that it is thereby enabled to provide for a large number of meritorious men.

There are five provincial governments. The first has its seat at the town of Hannover; and its jurisdiction extends over Kalenberg, Göttingen, Grubenhagen, Lüneburg, Hildesheim, Lauenburg, and some other districts. It is composed of a president and eight councillors, including a medical gentleman; and it has several secretaries and messengers.

The second has its seat at Stade; and its power extends over Bremen, Verden, and Land Hadeln. It is composed of a president and two councillors, with secretaries, and other officers.

The third is at Osnabrück, and governs Osnabrück, Meppen, and Lingen. It consists of a president, four councillors, and other subordinates.

The fourth has its seat at Aurich, and governs East Friezland. It is composed of a president and four councillors, with other persons.

The fifth is for Bentheim, and consists of one councillor and a secretary.

These provincial governments were first established when the country was recovered by the present government. It appears to have then formed the resolution to give to Hannover a general assembly of the several provincial states which it formerly possessed, and some of whose functions Edition: current; Page: [388] the provincial governments appear to have assumed. They are what may be called scientific governments, in which a unity of design and of purpose pervades the whole. Frederick the Great was the first, I believe, to introduce them into Europe. Revolutionary France followed his example, and her jacobinical steps have been followed by all the legitimate sovereigns, whenever they led to an augmentation or confirmation of their own power.

The powers of these provincial governments extend to every thing that can well be subjected to regulation; and they issue, in consequence, an abundance of orders. I have seen directions from them for the people to kill sparrows, how many pigeons a man may keep, not to steal trees, to preserve deer, forbidding straw to be exported out of the province; they order midwives to be placed, and sworn in faithfully to discharge their duties; they fix the sum to be given them for their service; they tell the farmers they ought to extirpate weeds; they direct agricultural operations; they ascertain the yearly produce of the land, that measures may be taken, by limiting appetite, in time, to prevent famine. In short, there is hardly an action of human beings capable of being prescribed, in which no regulation has been issued by one or other of the provincial governments of Hannover. There are some medical men connected Edition: current; Page: [389] with all and each of these provincial governments, who form a medical police for the whole kingdom. A similar medical police is established in most parts of Germany. There are general and sub-inspectors of apothecaries, physicians for the country and for the towns, all of whom are either members of this medical police, or under its control. The following is an instance of the manner in which its authority, and the authority of these provincial governments, are exerted:—

The chief of the medical police of the town of Hannover, and a member of the provincial government, is a Dr Stieglitz, who is rather a celebrated man, and an avowed and determined opponent of the doctrines of animal magnetism. This circumstance might possibly have had an influence on his determination, and on the conduct of the provincial government. In 1818 a Dr Ziermann, after having served in our armies, wanted to establish himself in practice in the town of Hannover. He obtained the necessary permission. It was his intention to follow the Mesmerian method of cure, and he is said to have noticed it to Dr Stieglitz, who had no objections. Some time afterwards, he wished to insert an advertisement in the Advertising Paper, which is, like every thing else, under the administration and control of government, but it was forbidden. He shortly afterwards received a notice from the provincial government, that he Edition: current; Page: [390] must state to it explicitly the manner in which he intended to magnetise and cure the sick; and that, before he carried his plan into execution, particularly, in assembling several sick to be magnetised at one time, he must wait for a particular permission. He explained, in a rational, clear manner, what his intentions were; particularly, “that he had the greatest faith in the use of the baquet, a large wooden vessel, somewhat less than a brewer’s vat, filled with water mixed with iron, glass, and other materials which is known from experience to be a powerful instrument for magnetising; that he intended to collect his patients, to the number of 12 or 16, sitting on little stools round this tub, for one or two hours at a time, to remain by them himself, to mark its effects on them, to wake them at the proper period of their somnambulism, and to be ready to help them on any particular occasion.” He was allowed by the government to employ what other methods he thought proper for healing the sick, but he was forbid to use the baquet, or to dispense health to numbers of people collected together.

Dr Ziermann is a regular bred practitioner, a man of good character, and of science; and in proposing to use magnetism as a means of curing many disorders, he followed the opinions of many learned and clever men in Germany, who affirm, with great truth, that it is equally possible for a Edition: current; Page: [391] baquet to produce powerful effects on people, as that plates of copper and zinc fixed in a wooden trough filled with an acid liquor, should have the effect of melting the hardest substances, and of destroying life. Though many persons, notwithstanding the premiums offered by learned bodies for the best classification of the phenomena of the magnetism of life, as it is now called, and the appointment of professors to teach it, doubt if there be any phenomena whatever, and amongst them, Dr Stieglitz, and the provincial government of Hannover, this is surely not a sufficient reason to prohibit its being practised. The believers are loud in asserting its wonderful and efficacious effects, which can neither be verified nor disproved, by forbidding respectable men to practise it. If it be a means of cure, why not let its benefits be given to the world? If it be a delusion, why prevent its exposure by prohibiting it? What evil can ensue from collecting a few fanciful women, or nervous men, round a large tub, which each imagines is to impart health and vigour? They who have only imagined themselves sick, may have their attention attracted from themselves to the apparatus of magnetism, and may become sound, from their curiosity being excited. I do not pretend to decide, if the use of the baquet is so beneficial as the physician standing amidst his patients, and imparting to them, by moving an iron Edition: current; Page: [392] rod before them, with a perpendicular motion, the vital and living principle; or if it be better that he should give this principle to them, by making circular motions with his flat hand, parallel to their bellies. The initiated indeed say, that the baquet answers the purposes of cure better, as it saves the practitioner from that exhaustion which is occasioned when the other methods are used, by the vital magnetism being abstracted from him, and thus supplied to his patients. Dr Ziermann was allowed to magnetise with his hand, and with iron rods, but he was forbidden to use the tub.

It was allowed to cure people by fanciful motions, but not by collecting them round a tub. The government was afraid the latter would work too powerfully on their imagination, and might disease instead of cure them. The duty of governments to take care of their subjects is extended too far when it wishes to shield them from the consequences of their own follies. Those who believed in the baquet, and in Dr Ziermann, might either have been killed or cured without the interference of government. If men be, as learned doctors say, “born to evil,” the ambition of protecting them from it far surpasses in madness the mad ambition of conquerors, and they who undertake it make themselves responsible for all the imbecility, immorality, and misery which are found in the world.

Hannover has not so scientific a plan for the government Edition: current; Page: [393] of its towns as Prussia. The number of the magistrates for every town, and sometimes their titles of office, are various. Generally, however, they are called bürgermeisters, syndicii, secretaries, and senators. In that part of Hannover, for example, which is denominated the old town, which contains about 12,000 inhabitants, there are two bürgermeisters, one syndicus, four secretaries, five senators, and one auditor, making in all thirteen persons, with a competent number of clerks and messengers. For the town of Lüneburg there are four bürgermeisters, and ten senators, one medical man, one protosyndicus, one syndicus, and four secretaries. These persons select the whole of the members and servants; they are called a college of magistrates, and the term magistracy will here be used to signify them. Their office in general lasts for life.

It is of importance to remark, that the bürgermeisters of all the large towns, the syndicii, secretaries, and auditors, are always jurisconsults. Thus there are not less than eight such persons in the magistracy of the town of Hannover, and not less than eleven in that of the town of Lüneburg. This class of men have had as powerful an influence in Germany as in other countries of Europe.

Almost all the towns have landed property, and as all have some funds or other to administer, the magistracy is generally divided into two parts, one Edition: current; Page: [394] of which is charged with the administration of the property, the other with the administration of justice. The two bürgermeisters take alternately the presidency of these two departments.

The towns of Germany were originally places of security and defence against the nobles. They were independent little states, and each had a magistracy of its own, appointed in general by the whole mass of the citizens assembled in their respective guilds. At present the appointment of the magistrates has either fallen into the hands of the magistrates themselves, or into those of some few of the citizens, and either directly or indirectly into those of the government. There is no town of any consequence whose superior magistrates must not be approved of and confirmed in their office by the cabinet ministry.

The sovereign of Hannover has, like the other sovereigns of Germany, given new constitutions or charters to many of the towns, and in doing this, he has not departed from the rules they have generally followed, of appropriating to themselves as much power as possible. It is at present the fashion for monarchs to make many professions of liberality; they promise to their subjects “constitutions suitable to the circumstances of the times.” They are probably earnest and sincere in these professions, but what they understand as suitable to the circumstances of the Edition: current; Page: [395] times, can only be known from their actions. To judge from some instances of their conduct in Germany, they appear to think that the growing desire for freedom amongst men, requires to be met by increased power and influence in their possession. It cannot certainly be desired that the sovereigns should restore the towns to that state of political independence in which they formerly existed, but while they contribute their share to the support of the general government, their local governments ought to be appointed by the citizens, and dependant on them. The following are examples of the new charters which the sovereign of Hannover has given to some of the towns of his dominions:

For the town of Hildesheim he decreed that the whole body of the magistracy, bürgermeisters, syndicii, town-judge, in all eight persons, with a number of assistants and secretaries, should always be appointed by him or his ministry. The town is divided into nine districts, and the citizens living in each of these districts elect one deputy, who holds his place for life. These nine deputies have each a seat and a vote in that division of the magistracy which has the administration of revenue. They are called on to examine the accounts for each quarter’s expenditure, and this is all the power over their own concerns which has been left to the inhabitants of Edition: current; Page: [396] Hildesheim. Deputies for life are like no deputies at all. Such people can seldom have any other motive but to turn the deputation so much to their own profit as possible.

The constitution which has been given to the town of Osnabrück has been made more complicated, but perhaps not less favourable to the power of the crown. The town is divided into four districts, and the magistrates select from each district four citizens, in all sixteen, and these sixteen citizens elect four persons, who are called representatives of the citizens. Their office lasts two years, when the election is repeated after the same manner. When a vacancy occurs in the magistracy, two of these representatives, with one person belonging to the magistracy, selected by it, in all three persons, elect twelve of the citizens, who, with the eldest of the four representatives, nominate three persons as proper to fill the vacant place; one of these three is presented by the magistracy to the government, which may either accept or reject him as it pleases. The four representatives have also a seat, and a vote in the chamber for the administration of the revenue, and they elect six other citizens every year to inspect with them the accounts of the city.

In the town of Embden, in the once free province of Friezland, the members of sixteen different guilds formerly elected from amongst Edition: current; Page: [397] themselves forty deputies, who were removable at the will of a majority of the electors. These forty deputies formed a sort of permanent council, without whose advice and consent the magistrates could not levy new assessments nor taxes, nor take one step of importance. These forty, with the magistrates, were also the persons who were appointed to the vacancies in the magistracy. As the limits of a town do not allow any thing to be done in it which affects the right of the people without its being immediately known to them all, and as the inhabitants of Embden had the power to remove their deputies at pleasure, the greater part of the power remained in the hands of the people. With such a constitution Embden had risen to a considerable degree of prosperity.

By the new constitution which the government of Hannover has given it, the whole of the magistracy, in all fourteen persons, was for that time appointed by the government, and at its head was placed a royal commissioner, who is always to be appointed by the government. He possesses a complete power of controlling the magistracy, and is placed solely to look after the interests of the crown. Five of these persons must be jurisconsults, but if there be a person found extremely learned in the administration of the town, that is, in the business of the citizens, he may, with the express permission of the government, fill one of these five Edition: current; Page: [398] places; but his functions are to be entirely confined to the administration of the finances. The forty deputies of the people were entirely swept away. In their place twenty-four persons were ordered to be elected for life. Every citizen who has a house, or 3000 Thalers property, who is of age, and belongs to one of the Christian confessions of faith, has a vote in this election. The day and the hour of the election are appointed by the royal commissioner. The town is divided into six districts, each district electing four representatives, and the commissioner deputes some one of the magistracy to preside at the election over each of these districts. The twenty-four persons so elected represent the whole citizens, of whom, however, they are declared to be perfectly independent, and whose affairs they may regulate without consulting them.

It seems a most curious proceeding to call some men the representatives of others, and, at the same time, to give them the power to manage the affairs of their constituents without consulting them. The order in the original is, “Sie sind berechtigt alle Angelegenheiten wozu sie nach, § 4 und § 33, herbei gezogen werden, ohne Rücksprache mit der Bürger-schaft abzuthun.” Had the citizens Edition: current; Page: [399] themselves given their representatives the power to manage their affairs without consulting them, it would have been rather silly, but, on the part of the government, it was appointing tutors to the citizens, not allowing them to have representatives. These mockeries of representatives are not allowed to meet without the sanction of the royal commissioner, and their functions are entirely confined to the administration of the revenues of the town.

To fill up the future vacancies in the magistracy, these twenty-four representatives elect three persons, who are presented to the provincial government, which notices the fact to the cabinet ministry, which may either appoint one of the three or not, as it pleases. If it decides for the latter, a new election must take place. Such are some of the particulars of the new constitution which the government of Hannover has given to its newly acquired city of Embden.

The power of the crown, in Hannover, over the magistracy of the towns, is still further augmented by the members of the latter very often filling other Edition: current; Page: [400] offices immediately dependent on the will of the crown. They are commissaries for the army, or members of the consistoriums, who are the servants of the crown. I had an opportunity of knowing some of these magistrates, and always found them amiable well-informed gentlemen, only so thoroughly convinced of the excellencies of law, that they thought the world could do nothing without it, and without them. One of them I might hold up as the pattern of a very estimable old man. He was bürgermeister of a small town, with an income, possibly, of 600 Thalers a-year, and, of course, so paid he could live in no great state. He united to his knowledge of law, in which he was said to be eminently skilled, an acquaintance with most of the languages of Europe. He was a very good practical gardener and farmer, and might shew his flowers and fruit trees,—which he did,—with just pride, for they were all nursed into excellence by his own labours; and he might, with equal exultation, shew his collection of pipe-stems, for they were all turned by himself. He was seventy years of age, calm, sedate, but full of engaging anecdote and knowledge. Before meals, he pulled off his white night-cap and silently prayed, and, in the whole of his deportment, except the extent of his knowledge, he reminded me strongly of an aged Scots peasant. The air of the magistrate, however, when he slid his cap over the side of his head, Edition: current; Page: [401] till it descended to his knees, was full of humility, while the bonnet of the Scotsman was lifted off and held up with pride.

The first part of this portrait may recall to those who are acquainted with Aus meinem Leben of Goethe, either in the original or the Edinburgh Review, “the worthy Schultheiss, also a magistrate, at Frankfort on the Maine, and the grandfather of Goethe, who passed much of his time in his garden, sorting tulip roots, pruning, planting, or grafting, dressed in a long night-gown, and a full velvet cap.” This is a coincidence in manners in two distinct parts of Germany, though the nightgown is converted into a greatcoat, and the velvet cap changed for a cotton one. The portrait which Goethe has given of his grandfather, of his taciturnity, his equability of temper, and his employments, seems to me an accurate representation of the class of men to which he belonged.

That portion of the land which is the property of the crown is divided into what are called Amts, each of which in general comprises several parishes. Over the Amt, an amtman, who is a jurisconsult, is placed as magistrate. Land not under the government of some Amtman, or of some towns, belongs to the nobles, and they exercise the powers of government over it. The amtmen are appointed by the Chamber, and when they are noblemen, as they sometimes are, they Edition: current; Page: [402] take the title of Landdrost. When the latter are not themselves learned in the law, they have a jurisconsult, who is then called Amt’s assessor, placed under them. These persons have the power of enforcing the orders of government in their respective districts. They correspond strictly to no magistrates of our country, but resemble justices of the peace more than any other. The police of their districts is under their control. They have certain servants, or Vogts, who may be considered as the instruments of this police. They communicate frequently with the governments, both of the provinces and the general government, which are consequently well informed of every occurrence.

Each village, again, has what is called a Vorsteher, or Baumeister, who is the organ to expound the will of the superiors to his fellow-parishioners, and to forward the reclamations or complaints of the whole parish to these superiors. He is generally chosen by the inhabitants yearly; he is a farmer, or some other inhabitant of the parish; he has something to do with the administration of the church, and of the poor, and, on the whole, exercises functions somewhat similar to our churchwardens and overseers combined. As, however, the great portion of the land belongs either to the nobles or to the sovereign, this person, except in the marsh lands, is always whom they please.

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Prior to the occupation of this country by the French, the police of the towns, which included the regulations of the market, fixing prices, giving passports, apprehending vagrants, and determining a great variety of small causes, and punishing a great many small offences, was exercised by the magistrates of the towns. It is now, however, regulated by three commissioners appointed by the crown, who have subordinate officers, with a regular corps of Gens d’armes. It is one of the new establishments, by which the expences of the government, and its influence, are very much increased.

The Protestant church of Hannover, and, generally, of Germany, is administered by parish priests, (Pastors,) superintendents, and consistoriums. Each parish has a pastor. The parishes of some of the towns, and some large ones in the country, have two. Both a clerk, Cantor, and sacristan, Kuster, are appointed in extensive parishes; in smaller ones these offices are united in one person, who is also very often the schoolmaster. The larger churches of the towns have organs and organists. The court has a chapel and chaplains. Some of the towns have clergymen more than the pastors, but, in general, each parish has its pastor, its clerk, and its sacristan, and these are all the minor officers of the church.

The superintendents are of two kinds, special Edition: current; Page: [404] and general. The former are also pastors whom the government selects from their having superior talents, or from any other motive it pleases. Their name accurately expresses their office. They superintend the conduct of the clergymen, and the discipline of the church, within a certain district. They communicate with the general superintendents, and are the organs for making known the orders of the superior powers to the pastors. Each one of their districts includes, on an average, ten parishes. There are ten general superintendents for the kingdom of Hannover, who are also very often the eldest pastor of some town, or they are court chaplains, or professors of theology at the university, and they are also generally councillors of the consistoriums.

There are seven consistoriums for the whole kingdom, all the members of which are nominated by the crown. They are composed of a portion of clergymen and of laity. Generally the provincial consistoriums are presided by some person who is in other respects a servant of the crown. That of Hannover is, however, presided by the abbot of Loccum, who is no otherwise dependant on it than as he may be made so by this appointment. The laity are generally jurisconsults. Of the consistorium of Hannover, one of the bürgermeisters, and a magistrate of the new town, are members. The consistoriums have also secretaries, who are jurisconsults. Edition: current; Page: [405] The secretary for that of Hannover is a brother of the celebrated Schlegel’s.

The consistoriums regulate all matters relative to the discipline of the church. They are the trustees of all the funds which yet belong to it. They superintend the business of education; they very often appoint schoolmasters; they have the examination of all candidates for clerical offices; and they lend their aid to the well government of the people. They give orders relative to marriage, in so far as to the restrictions under which the priests are to celebrate it, relative to baptism and confirmation, and they do what they can to convince the rising generation that there are many advantages and honours in becoming soldiers. When any person reflects what a German soldier is, there can be no want of words to designate the actions which the sacred name of religion is here employed to produce.

The consistoriums are also ecclesiastical courts, which decide in cases of divorce. Those of Celle and Hannover pronounced the divorce between George I. and his wife some few years before he was called to the throne of Great Britain. They are the judges in all complaints made against the morals of the clergy.

As an instance of their power and practice in such cases, the following anecdote may serve: The wife of a clergyman was delivered of a child Edition: current; Page: [406] some few months earlier than was consistent with the date of her marriage. The parishioners complained of their pastor. The affair was examined by the consistorium, and, in spite of his observing that the fault of his wife was not his fault, he was removed to another parish, of which the emoluments were less. As the character of his wife was known, there was some truth, as well as wit, in the observation of a lady, who, when this story was told her, said, It was a shame to punish the poor man for what he had not occasioned.

In all cases not strictly appertaining to the discipline of the church, an appeal may be made from their decision to a chief court of appeal, which is at Celle. The consistoriums are the censors for all works on theological subjects.

The inhabitants of some parishes have the power of electing their own pastor; in some the appointment belongs to nobles; in others to the monarch, as proprietor of land; some are in the gift of the consistoriums, and invariably the magistracy of the towns appoint the pastors of the towns. When there is a vacant place they advertise for candidates. All these appointments must, however, have the approbation of the consistoriums, as they are appointed to examine and ordain all the clergymen. The superintendents and members of the consistoriums are all appointed by the crown, and as these are nearly all the promotions Edition: current; Page: [407] to which the inferior clergy can aspire. The whole government of the church, with the disposal of many of its emoluments, and a great influence over the minds of the clergy, all center in the crown.

In the marsh lands on the Elbe, where the glebe is extensive, and the land of great value, the parish priests may possess an income of 2500 Thalers, or about L. 416 per year; but in general their incomes, with a portion of glebe land, house, &c. are between 300 and 1000 Thalers per year. The clergymen of the towns and the superintendents may have from 1200 to 1500 Thalers, or, at most, L. 230 per year. The richest member of the church, the Abbot of Loccum, who was formerly a prince of the empire, is said not to enjoy, including all his little privileges, such as the inhabitants of Loccum being obliged to maintain his horses, and wash his linen, more than 6000 Thalers, or L. 1000 per year.

The clergymen of all the towns are paid out of the funds of the towns; those of the country out of some land formerly ecclesiastical property, and now devoted to this purpose. Many of their emoluments consist in their glebe, which the people are bound to cultivate for them, but which they very often let for a sum of money, because they have found many inconveniences attending this forced labour. Fees are given them at baptism, marriage, and confirmation. Tithes are the property Edition: current; Page: [408] of the crown, of particular nobles, or are levied in the name of some town or religious corporation. In the houses of the clergymen which I have entered, both in the towns and in the country, I saw no marks of wealth, nothing of opulence to excite envy, and make the doctrine of content under poverty which they preach, less efficacious from their example. In truth, though the tradesmen and farmers of this country are poor, they seem to have so much wealth as the clergy. The country clergymen are said to possess considerable influence over the inhabitants of their parishes, but this is entirely owing to their superior knowledge, and not to superior wealth.

In other countries it is thought necessary to support the dignity of the church, by much larger emoluments than are possessed by the members of the church of Hannover, and of the north of Germany. But the duties of the pastors, notwithstanding their poverty, are not neglected. Every person speaks with great praise of their conduct. They are described as a very learned body of men, who would not shrink from a competition with the clergy of any church of Europe. There are neither archbishoprics nor bishoprics in the Hannoverian church; there are no great prizes to fight for, and there are very few sectaries; there is no immense wealth to be preserved by intolerance, and the priesthood is liberal, tolerant, and enlightened. The simplicity Edition: current; Page: [409] of the form of this church government, when united with its efficacy, and with its poor rewards, as to wealth, compared with the hierarchies of the church of Rome and of England, may teach us the accurate value, for the purposes of religion and good government, of numerous and proud hierarchies.

All that has been hitherto said relates to the Protestant church of Hannover. An eighth part, probably, of the people are Catholics, who live principally in Hildesheim and Osnabrück, in both of which provinces they have a bishop, called a weih (consecrated) Bishop, who must not be confounded with the Prince Bishop, who is, whether ecclesiastic or layman, the temporal governor. It was only at the congress of Vienna these two provinces came fully under the government of Hannover, and, as a concordat is at present negociating at Rome, it is impossible to say what influence the crown will have over the appointment of these bishops. It is a matter of less consequence now than formerly, because the Catholic church no longer possesses much wealth. In both these countries the church property has been secularised, and the priests are allowed to have only such a part as is necessary for the support of a very small establishment.

The secularised convents, or religious corporations of Hannover, must be here mentioned, although Edition: current; Page: [410] they are anomalies belonging much more to the crown than to the church.

The religious corporation of Loccum must be excepted from this latter assertion. This was an abbey of the empire, whose independence was secured by the treaty of Westphalia, and whose members must be persons who have studied theology. They fill up vacancies in their own body themselves. The abbot is alternately elected by the chapter and by the crown. The living abbot has almost the power of procuring the election of his successor; and the last incumbent is said to have offended her late Majesty, by refusing to nominate the chaplain of some German chapel in London to be his successor.

This place is so valuable that the nobles have desired to possess it, although, in general, no nobleman has ever filled a situation in the Protestant church. Some individuals, however, of a sort of Patrician families, who possess the inestimable privilege of having the monosyllable von, the title of nobility, prefixed to their names, have been clergymen. The nobles of Hannover are said to have resolved on the death of the late abbot, who, to avoid as much as possible offending her late Majesty, never nominated any successor, to procure this place for some clergyman with a von; and then it would always have been considered as a place belonging to nobility.

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So soon, however, as the abbot was dead, the prior and two members repaired to Hannover, and there choosing the present abbot, notified their choice to the government, and asked its ratification. It was refused, as all the members were not present. It was replied, the prior and two members constituted a chapter, and that they had already applied to Prussia, who was bound, by the treaty of Westphalia, to protect the corporation, for assistance. This convinced the ministry; and the abbot chosen by the prior, to the exclusion of a noble, was appointed.

There are 25 secularised religious corporations for both sexes in Hannover, exclusive of Hildesheim, in which the whole were abolished by the French, and are not yet reinstated. A portion of the former revenues of these corporations is given to certain persons under the titles of priors, or conventualists. Sometimes they are clergymen who are considered not well enough paid, but more generally they are nobles, or members of the government. The elected presidents of the nobility of Bremen and Lüneburg are, by virtue of their office, the former, abbot of Neuenwalde, the latter, of St Michael’s in the town of Luneburg. These are the sinecures of Hannover. Many of the places in the female convents are given to the daughters of the nobility; they amount to a small pension, and sometimes to a Edition: current; Page: [412] dwelling and nourishment. Nearly the whole of them are in the gift of the crown. That portion of the funds of these religious corporations not employed to support the conventualists, is given for the support of institutions for charity and education. The whole is administered by a particular chamber, called the Kloster Kammer, whose members are appointed by the crown.

Such is a rough outline of the executive part of the government of Hannover. The mass of the people have no where any thing to do with it. The clergy, as a separate corporate body, possessed of power and influence, has ceased to exist; and as individuals, its members have become, in a great measure, dependant on the crown. The influence of the nobility, and of jurisconsults, may be traced in the college form of all the institutions, and in the multiplication of offices to which they alone are eligible. Because the chief of the government has not for many years resided in the country, and has therefore necessarily seen, and heard, and ordered every thing through the nobles, and because they fill all the superior offices of the government, there has not been, for many years, any other power than their’s. The case would be different were the monarch to reside in the country. Then there would be no power that could oppose him; and when the customs of the people did not prescribe otherwise, he might be an absolute monarch. Edition: current; Page: [413] Whatever form and name a government may have, it is by its own acts, and by the customs and spirit of the nation, that its character can be determined. Hannover is in every respect a favourable specimen of what German governments were and are. It has long been celebrated for mildness, and attention to what governments call the welfare of their subjects. Spittler says, in speaking of the alterations which had been been made in administering the governments of Germany, “Thanks to the British sense of freedom; thanks to the praise-worthy Georges, that the writer of the history of the principality of Hannover must seek in other German lands for the perfect completion of that un-German revolution, which was first begun under the government of John Frederick and Ernest Augustus.”

John Frederick reigned in the year 1665. From looking at the history of the government of Hannover, I must give it, for the last century, the credit of great mildness. More instances may be found of its having attended to the wishes of individuals, than of its having been guilty of arbitrary oppression; but its college form is bad, and the government officers have been so multiplied, that they now form a large proportion of the numerical strength of the society.

There is a much greater evil in this than the mere employment of a great portion of the community Edition: current; Page: [414] in unproductive labour. Each of the individuals composing these governments is highly impressed with a notion of the importance of his functions, and constantly does something that he may convince himself, and other persons, that he has a vast deal to do. Each strives to outdo the other by the subtlety, and acuteness, and number of his regulations. It would be more beneficial to the community if every one of these persons were to be paid for doing nothing, than as they are now paid for multiplying regulations, and for extending them and the power of government to every trifling business of life. On this subject, however, the opinions entertained in Germany seem much at variance with those entertained in Britain. If there be only Zählreiche Anstalten, numerous institutions, multiplied regulations, and a continued watchfulness and interference on the part of the government, the Germans are satisfied that all is correct. Political economy means with them the knowledge of promoting the prosperity of the people by means of governments. If that general opinion which supposes governments to be beneficial be accurate, it can scarcely be possible that we can have too much of them. The conduct of the Germans is perfectly consistent with this opinion, and those nations only are inconsequent who, acknowledging governments to be beneficial, seek, Edition: current; Page: [415] at the same time, to limit their power as much as possible.

In its general features, in its numerous subordinate governments, in its minute regulations, in its extensive interference, in all the concerns of life, in its control over education and the press, the government of Hannover resembles the other governments of Germany. It may be taken as an example of the whole; some are a little more modernized, have fewer mixed regulations of ancient and present times, but in their principles, in their never-ending regulations, in their minuteness of interference, they all resemble one another. Their leading characteristic is, that they trust nothing to individual interest, or individual wisdom.

“No where,” says a respectable German political writer, “has the true difference between England and other countries been set in that strong light it merits. In England, the government neither can nor dare interfere in all things. There the people in the subordinate parts govern themselves. The king and the parliament have a superior power for occasions of necessity, but many duties of government that are on the Continent easily performed, are there totally impossible, because there is not in England such a host of officers and of governments as we have on the Continent.” This is, in truth, the great difference Edition: current; Page: [416] between our country and the Continent. There every thing is regulated by a class of men set apart for that purpose, and who have no other duties to perform. But our subordinate governments are composed of gentlemen and tradesmen, who do not make governing their business. Not only are our local or provincial governments much cheaper than those on the Continent, but they are more beneficial, because they govern less.

There are some truths of much importance which may be learned from these facts. It is taken for granted, that the affairs of Great Britain have been better managed than those of the Continent, and it may then be affirmed, that the government which has grown up with our people, and in which they participate, is better and more useful than that which has been given to the Continent by the wisdom of legislators; and it may be inferred, that the affairs of every society can never be well managed by a class of men set apart for that purpose. I believe the administrators of most of the governments of Germany to be learned and accomplished men, who have endeavoured with good will to make their country prosperous. I believe also that, in general, they have been supported in extending the power of government by all the wise and thinking men of their country, yet it is now acknowledged that they have impeded the prosperity of the subjects, from governing too much. From this failure Edition: current; Page: [417] of wisdom, it is clear that the limits within which the power of government ought to be confined, and beyond which it becomes pernicious, are yet absolutely unknown; and when it is remarked, that the prosperity of every nation is in an inverse proportion to the power and to the interference of its government, we may be almost tempted to believe the common opinion, that governments are necessary and beneficial, is one of those general prejudices which men have inherited from an ignorant and a barbarous age, and which more extensive knowledge and greater civilization will shew to be an error full of evil.

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CHAPTER XIII.: hannover—former states.

Six different states in Hannover.—Composition of those of Kalenberg; of Grubenhagen; of Lüneburg; of Bremen and Verden; of Hoya and Diepholz; of Hildesheim; of Friezland.—Their powers and privileges; in the fourteenth century; in the eighteenth century.—Alterations.—Causes.—Destruction of the clergy.—The dependence of the nobles.—The servility of magistrates of towns.—Resemblance to Scotland.—The power of the sovereign increased.—Points of difference between the parliament of Great Britain and the states of Germany.

We have been so long accustomed to speak of ourselves as the only free people of Europe, that it was rather with astonishment the following passage in an historian before quoted was read. Spittler nearly begins his work by saying, “When King George III. wishes to lay a new general tax on the whole of his German subjects, who, at most, do not exceed the tenth part of his islanders, he is obliged previously to discuss the affair with six different parliaments; and each of these parliaments is composed of several classes of members, who have equally important rights, and equally secured privileges. Edition: current; Page: [419] The consent of all these parliaments, how different soever may be their rights, must on this point be demanded, and at last the people of the Land Hadeln must also be particularly solicited.” Six different parliaments for such a territory and population as belonged to Hannover when the quotation was written, 1786, must have formed so numerous an aristocracy as to be at least half way to a democracy.

Numerous legislative assemblies do not, however, ensure wise laws. Many instances may be found amongst the acts of legislative bodies, which they made for their own interest, and which have been to it immensely pernicious, even according to the narrow view which estimates good and evil by greater or less wealth, power, or influence. All the laws, for example, which have been made by the nobles of Hannover to secure to themselves alone the possession of certain offices, have only damped the general spirit of enterprise in their countrymen; have prevented them from joining in commerce; have promoted the poverty of the whole; and have degraded the nobles themselves, from being high-spirited independent gentlemen, to be the dependent servants of the sovereign.

The states of Hannover continued to meet and to act till the occupation of the country by the French, and I shall here endeavour to describe Edition: current; Page: [420] how they were composed, and explain what was the extent of their powers.

The states of Kalenberg and Göttingen were united into one body, and they consisted of three distinct orders; 1st, The clergy, consisting of nine members; 2d, The nobility, one hundred and sixtythree members; 3d, Deputies of the towns, twenty members. The whole of these numbers rarely met together, but they were all regarded as having a right to assemble. The right belonged to the nobles from their possessing certain properties, and to the clergy and towns from custom. All these three bodies were, each of them, at one time, stronger than the sovereign, and they would give him nothing but just what they pleased. For some years, however, prior to the occupation of the country by the French, two permanent committees, Ausschusse, of the states, managed the whole of their business.

The first was composed of three deputies from the clergy; nine from the nobles, and eight from the towns. Three of the noble members of this committee were called land and treasury councillors; the other six were named deputies from the nobles. The smaller committee consisted of seven members, all of whom were also members of the larger. It was composed of one deputy from the clergy, three from the nobility, and three from the towns. And this smaller committee, Edition: current; Page: [421] excluding the deputy from the town of Hannover, formed what was called the Treasury College. It nowhere appears distinctly what were the particular duties of these committees and this college, further than that the larger committee exercised all the rights, to be afterwards described, attributed to the states, and that the treasury college had the possession and the management of the monies levied as taxes. These committees were both permanent, and had the power of meeting whenever they thought it right to meet.

The three orders deliberated and voted each separately, and the vote of each order was equal. In fact, the deputies from the towns frequently made conditions for themselves apart from the other orders. They decided what portion of any certain tax they would take on themselves. The consent of all these three orders was necessary, rigidly speaking, to levy new taxes, but the consent of two was often regarded as enough. Latterly all the deputies of the clergy and of the towns were members of the states by virtue of the offices they held. Thus the Abbot of Loccum and the first or second bürgermeister of the towns were members, by virtue of their offices. The deputies from the nobles were, however, elected by the whole body of the nobles divided into districts. All held their places for life.

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The states of Grubenhagen were also composed of three orders, but they had no committees, and they voted according to numbers, not according to orders. The clergy were two in number, the nobles nine, and the deputies from the towns four. One of the noble properties, and, consequently, one vote, belonged to the crown, and was always in possession of an officer appointed by it. When the owner of one of the noble properties was a minor, he was not allowed to vote. In 1802 these states were united to those of Kalenberg, and then they deputed a certain number of members to the two committees, which have been mentioned, namely, to the larger committee, one member from the clergy, one from the nobility, and two from the towns. The towns alone sent one deputy to the smaller committee and treasury college.

The deputies from three religious corporations, from three towns, and the owners of one hundred and ninety-five noble properties, composed the states of the province of Lüneburg. The noble properties were divided into old and new, the latter having had, since records were kept, the privileges of nobility given to them. The nobles had most power. They were divided into four districts, and all the owners of noble property in each district, whether they themselves were noble or not, had the right of voting for the election of two members for each district. There was in this province a Edition: current; Page: [423] permanent college of what may be called provincial councillors, Landraths Collegium. It consisted of nine members, one of whom was president, and had the title of Lands-schaft Director. When a vacancy took place in this college, the eight remaining persons and the eight deputies from the nobility together, elected a person to fill the vacancy. If there were two vacancies, one of the deputies selected by lot went away, so that the numbers both of the deputies and the members of the college might be equal. When the place of director was vacant, the members of the college elected from amongst themselves three persons, whom they presented to the sovereign, and he appointed which of those three he pleased to the office of director. He became, by virtue of this appointment, possessed of the title and emoluments of Abbot of St Michael’s in Lüneburg. The eight deputies from the nobles and the college of provincial councillors elected also four noble deputies and two treasury councillors. It was a rule that the whole of these persons, the deputies of the nobles, the members of the college, and the treasury councillors, must be noblemen, and possessed of a noble property in the province. The treasury college consisted of two deputies of the nobles and one from the towns. After these preliminary remarks, the reader may comprehend what is meant by saying, that when the states of Lüneburg met to grant taxes, or for other business, Edition: current; Page: [424] they consisted of the college of provincial councillors, of four deputies from the nobility, and the three members of the treasury college. The deputies from two religious corporations, and those from the three towns of Lüneburg, Uelzen, and Celle, sat at a separate table. But the votes were given according to numbers, and the votes of all were equal.

When Bremen and Verden were secularized for Sweden in the seventeenth century, the states of these provinces, which formerly consisted of the prebends and chapters of the towns of Bremen and Hamburg, of members from several other religious corporations, of nobility and of deputies from the towns, were reduced to the two latter only. The town of Bremen was separated from the province, and the other clergy ceased to be of importance. Before the peace of Westphalia, the states had regular meetings in both provinces, in which their votes were given according to numbers, and not according to orders. Since that period, they have been united together, and till the occupation of the country by the French, the business of the states was conducted by what was called a permanent college of provincial councillors. It consisted of a nobleman president, who was also director of the convent of Neuen-Walde, of six deputies from the nobility of Bremen, of one from the nobility of Verden, and of five learned deputies, Edition: current; Page: [425] or jurisconsults, who were sent by the towns of Stade, Buxtehude, and Verden. The number of properties in the two provinces, which were noble or gave a right to vote, was seventy-five. In former times, the owners of free property not noble, situated in the marsh lands on the Elbe, claimed and exercised the right of sending deputies to these states; but this right was latterly refused to them, though they were allowed to have a sort of representative who might appeal for them to the government against any taxes levied by the states.

The states of the provinces of Hoya and Diepholz had long been formed, like those of Kalenberg, into two committees, the greater was composed of three noble provincial councillors, and five deputies from the nobles, of two deputies from the owners of free property not noble, and of four deputies from the towns. There were, therefore, eight noble persons, and six persons not noble. The smaller committee was composed of the three noble provincial councillors, two deputies from the nobles, one from the free people, and four from the towns. The treasury college was composed of the three noble provincial councillors, and two deputies from the towns, or, as they were called, learned treasury deputies.

Five only of the provincial states or parliaments have here been described; the sixth province was Lauenburg, but a very small part of which now Edition: current; Page: [426] belongs to Hannover. Its states resembled in their leading points those of the other provinces.

The new provinces which Hannover has acquired seem, like the old possessions, to have had something also like parliaments. The sovereign of Hildesheim was a Catholic prince-bishop, and the states were composed of deputies from seven clerical corporations, of the nobility, and of deputies from four cities. From the differences and disputes which took place between the states of this province and Prussia, when this latter power, in its grasping ambition, seized Hildesheim, there is reason to believe they had always maintained much consideration; and that the power of the prince-bishop had not exceeded their own. A German proverb says, “Es lasse sich unter dem Krumm-stab gut wohnen.” “It is good living under the crozier;” and the general populousness of this province, a perfectly free corn trade, which the inhabitants always enjoyed till the occupation of the country by the Prussians, and the power of the states, prove that the government of the bishop of Hildesheim had been mild like that of his brother prince-bishops. At Magdeburg I left it to others to decide whether the dominion of the crozier or that of the sword was the greatest evil, but I may now affirm, from this proverb, and from a glance of countries which have long been governed by the sword, that it is by far the greatest evil.

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Friezland had a parliament, or states, in which the third order, the possessors of property not noble, had a very great influence. This order had one hundred and eighty deputies, and the towns fifteen. They gave only such taxes as they pleased, and they kept the management of those which they did give in their own hands.

Such were the former states; they appear in general to have had the following power and privileges.

As individuals, the clergy and nobility possessed the power of nominating, and the sovereign of confirming, the persons who were to administer justice in those districts in which the courts belonged, either to a clerical corporation, or a nobleman. The power of these courts, and consequently of the individual clergy and nobles, extended not only to the administration of justice, but to all things connected with police, with the military, or with the government, or with the church. It was their business to make known and carry into execution all the laws and all the orders from the sovereign. They were free from most taxes. The nobles alone had the right to sport, and to them alone were secured many of the most important and wealthy offices in the country.

When assembled as a parliament, or in their legislative capacity, they had no control over the taxes levied for the empire, Reichs-steuer, for the Edition: current; Page: [428] circle, Kreis-steuer, and for the dowry of the monarch’s daughters, Prinzessin-steuer. But over all other taxes they held complete control. None could be levied without their approbation. They presented, but it belonged to the sovereign to confirm the presentation, to all places connected either with the collection or the expenditure of the taxes, and they took them into their custody when they were collected. Few alterations could be made in the administration of justice without the approbation of the states; but on this subject there is nothing precise; there being regulations extant issued by the government alone without the consent of the states, that had all the effects of laws, without the name.

Before the existence of standing armies, the states were consulted as to levying and disciplining the troops. Since then, however, they have had nothing to do with any thing relative to war. At a former period, no alteration was made in any thing relative to the church without the consent of the states, and they possessed the presentation to many appointments connected with the administration Edition: current; Page: [429] of justice. They appointed, for example, to some of the judges’ places in the Court of Appeals at Celle, and to many others.

They appear to have had stated times of coming together, but might be also assembled at other times by the necessities, or by the will of the sovereign. When the whole states met, they generally separated when they had finished the business for which they had assembled, or they were dismissed at the pleasure of the Crown. It was only at the conclusion or dissolution of the assembly that what it had done became known, which was then published under the name of Landtags-abschied, dismissal, or leave-taking of the states; so named, because it was customary for them to present their report when they took their leave of their sovereign. In later times, it appears that at least one of the committees and the treasury college remained always assembled.

The powers of all the states of the different provinces were in some measure different from one another, and all were different from themselves at different times. The following passage shews their power in the year 1392. “Out of the nobles living between the Deister and the Leine, and from those dwelling on the Aller, five were elected; three came from Lüneburg and the country about the Jetze, the town-council of Lüneburg sent four councillors, and four were sent from the towns of Hannover and Uelzen. The times and Edition: current; Page: [430] place where this committee of the states should assemble were prescribed, and the meeting was to divide itself, a part in Hannover, a part in Lüneburg, in order that complaints out of every district might be more easily brought before the two divided parts. This committee was the inexorable guarantee of all the conditions of the treaty between the prince and his subjects, the judge between him and any complaining party, and when the fulfilment of their sentence was postponed they executed it themselves.”

“If any one of the prelates, nobles, or citizens, believed himself injured by the prince, and the prince’s officer, or even the prince himself, did not do him justice, the injured party, when he did not choose to wait for the half yearly meeting of this committee, applied to the nearest nobleman or city which belonged to the committee, and this person or city was by law obliged, after an examination with the next nearest member of the committee, to make known the complaint before fourteen days to the prince, who must give satisfaction within fourteen days, or he ought to go without farther notice to Hannover, and there remain till the hardship was removed.

“If, in this period, neither the complainant was satisfied, nor the promised residence of the prince in Hannover took place, the town-council of Lüneburg and this committee were authorized to sequester all the revenues of the prince till the complaint Edition: current; Page: [431] was removed, or the money repaid which the states had granted the prince. Should the prince however refuse, or prevent this satisfaction from being made, the committee were authorized to call to arms all the persons who had contributed to this money, to guard against injustice, and to protect all whom the prince oppressed. Eight nobles, therefore, and eight deputies of the towns, were endowed with the character of judges between the prince and the people.”

It must be remarked, that these observations apply only to a portion of the present dominions of Hannover, but they also give a picture of the general character and power of the states in the fourteenth century. They shew clearly enough that the practice of governing which has lately been followed in Germany by the mere will of the prince, then had no existence whatever. He was merely endowed with a little more authority than any other individual nobleman, but not with so much as the whole people.

The above quotation shews, that the states had a power equal or superior to the power of the English parliament at the same period. At that same period, and even down to the seventeenth century, all the towns of any importance, such as Hannover, Edition: current; Page: [432] Lüneburg, Göttingen, and Brunswick, were in a great measure independent of the sovereign. They owed him obedience as their superior liege-lord, but they were often more powerful than he, and openly set him at defiance. They exercised absolute sovereignty; they did all sorts of acts which would now be called rebellion, and which would now be classed and punished as the most heinous crimes. Such is the changeable character of that morality of our race, which is attempted to be made unchangeable by positive laws. The towns coined their own money; they levied and disbursed their own taxes; they made treaties with one another, and with strange princes; they made laws for themselves; and when they levied forces, and resisted the oppressions of their sovereign, or chastised the nobles for pillaging, the war which they made was not regarded as either unjust or unnecessary.

The following account of these states is given by Dr Karl Venturini, at a later period, 1776:— “Who shall now struggle against the power of the crown? The prelates, who were indebted to court favour for their prebends, were naturally dependent on the government; and though they were learned in dogmas, and the history of the church, that gave them no well-grounded and perfect information respecting the constitution of the country. The deputies of the towns, instead of being Edition: current; Page: [433] the unsuspected organs of the will of their constituents, were machines in the hands of government, which did not want means to punish them severely—very severely, if they wished to steer the state-ship in any other manner than its commander thought good. How could it then be otherwise, than that in these two classes the spirit of indolence and submission would be predominant? From whom else could the land hope for relief, but from the class of the nobles?

But what relief?—nearly all the deputies of the nobles were in the service of the crown. They were all related to one another by blood or by marriage. They only struggled to preserve their own freedom from taxation. And if this were preserved, they were perfectly submissive to the government, from whose favour there were no more benefits to expect.”

How little the ancient rights of the states were latterly regarded, is shewn by the ministry of Hannover incorporating, in 1794, the regiments levied for the defence of the land with the regular army. The states, particularly those of Kalenberg and Lüneburg, opposed this, but they were told, that “the sovereign’s power, relative to Edition: current; Page: [434] war and arms, admitted of no limitation; and they were silent.” On another occasion, when the inhabitants of Hannover were discontented because some debts which were due from the English commissariat were not paid, the states displayed an intention of bringing these claims before the English parliament; but they were told, “the sovereign would regard such a step very unfavourably,” and here the matter rested.

The only act of injustice of which I have read or heard of, as committed by the government of Hannover, grew out of the measure of incorporating the militia with the regular army. The Herr von Berlepsch had made himself conspicuous by his opposition on this, and on several other occasions, and had particularly excited the resentment of the ministry, by making a proposition to the states, that they should endeavour to establish a neutrality for Hannover, and should declare that they were not disposed to convert a war made by the chief of the nation into a national war. This was treated as a design to separate the country from the elector. Edition: current; Page: [435] The states were blamed by the ministry for listening to such a proposal; and Mr von Berlepsch was not only dismissed from his situation as a judge, Hofrichter, but was also put out of the assembly of the states. He appealed against the conduct of the government to the imperial chamber at Vienna. A judgment, which, in the vigour of imperial power, would have been immediately fulfilled, but which the power of the King of Great Britain enabled the elector of Hannover to set at nought, was pronounced in his favour. He was to be restored to his situation; but the imperial herald who was bringing the rescript was chased with indignity from the gates of Hannover. Such was the alteration in the states between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries, that the ministry latterly regarded them as the servants of the crown. They were no longer the judges betwixt it and the people, but an instrument for governing the latter.

In Riesebeck’s Travels through Germany, page 8, an instance of the opposition of the states of Wirtemberg to the will of the sovereign is mentioned. In the same work it is stated, that the Edition: current; Page: [436] elector of Saxony had a privy purse, but that the taxes were levied and controlled by the states. Their present power has been mentioned. In the little county of Wernigerode also, states are said always to have been in use, in which the chiefs of the villages had a right to a seat and a vote. There was a period when states or parliaments were universal and powerful in Germany. Nor do they, except in Prussia and Oldenburg, appear any where to have grown into absolute disuse, although their powers were every where much weakened and diminished.

Considered as a system of representation, the states of the different countries of Germany were undoubtedly as perfect as the parliament of Great Britain. All the landed property of the country, and all the commercial wealth, were completely represented by the nobles and the deputies of the towns. Property is adequately represented in both countries. So far as the form of the system went, it might have been a priori expected, that the states of Germany should have maintained their power, as the parliament of Great Britain has maintained and increased its power. But the Edition: current; Page: [437] former sank into insignificance, while the latter has become sole legislative and all-governing. In Germany, the power of the sovereigns, and, in Britain, that of the parliament, became pre-eminently great. It may be worth the trouble to throw a hasty glance over some of the causes which reduced the states of Germany to insignificance, and made the difference between them and the parliament of Great Britain now so remarkable.

Owing to various causes, our parliament has been subjected to many changes. Its constitution has been frequently, and, in some instances, entirely changed. This has adapted it to changes in the manners and modes of thinking in the people; and, without rendering it in its form a more accurate representation of all classes, has made it a better instrument to effect the welfare of the whole. But the German states, till a very recent period, continued unaltered. They were adapted to the fourteenth century, and were necessarily inefficient in the eighteenth. Spittler says, “That among all the powers of Germany, there is hardly one whose constitution, during an unbroken succession of 500 years, has been so little disturbed by the powerful hand of a reformer, as that of the German dominions of his Majesty King George the Third of Great Britain, Edition: current; Page: [438] nor is there any one which has so many intricacies that nobody has ever attempted to simplify.” The same fact appears true of most of the political institutions of Germany. Since the Reformation the sovereigns may have changed their ministers, or altered the uniforms of their guards, or introduced some new arrangements into their cabinets; and they have gone on constantly augmenting their power; but the people, since that period, as if satisfied with the efforts they then made, have never, till within a few years, paid any attention to their governments, and they have continued unchanged in form. It has been in some measure, therefore, from wanting the interference of the people—from not being occasionally reformed, that the states of Germany have dwindled into insignificance. The spirit which animated them fled, while the forms remained, disguising slavery with the attributes of freedom.

It is since the Reformation that the power of the sovereigns of Germany has most increased. The thirty years’ war which followed that event reduced many flourishing towns to poverty, augmented the power of a few successful princes and, gave them the command of standing and mercenary armies. The people, who had been plundered, and almost reduced to despair by the miseries of so prolonged a contest, surrendered themselves to the guidance of the princes. The destruction Edition: current; Page: [439] of many cities had deprived liberty of her principal support.

The Reformation in Germany also completely destroyed the clergy as an independent part of the states. The whole of their revenues in the Protestant countries were taken from them, and they were only allowed a sufficiency for subsistence. The greater part of their wealth and their power fell into the hands of the sovereigns, who thus added to their own power all that which belonged to one of the three members, and perhaps the most powerful one of the states. In countries to which the Reformation did not extend, the clergy necessarily became alarmed by the fate of their brethren; and they united themselves more closely to the crown. In England there was such a reformation in religion as satisfied the people, and the church retained its wealth. It was not reduced to actual dependance on the crown.

In this point there is a resemblance between Scotland and Germany. In both these countries the wealth of the clergy was appropriated to individuals, or to the sovereign, and their separate independent existence as a political body destroyed; and in both, the power of the sovereign was proportionally augmented more than in England.

A law in Germany called the Meyer ordinance, or law, and also custom, very generally regulate and limit the power of the landholder over the peasant. Edition: current; Page: [440] While this latter has an hereditary right to a small spot of land, the former has a right only to a certain portion of services or rent, which cannot be augmented. This law, by compelling the land to remain divided into small parcels, has impeded the advancement of agriculture, and has constantly limited the wealth of the nobles to the incomes they possessed three or four centuries ago. They could not lump several farms together, nor could they exact a greater rent for their land than was already paid them. Their own prejudices prevented them engaging in commerce, and they had no other way to acquire wealth, or to preserve superiority to their families, but to hire themselves as soldiers, or as servants, to the sovereigns. The impossibility of the nobles increasing their revenue, and their desire to participate in all those luxuries of modern times,—to enjoy which is a mark of superiority,—was the great means of reducing them to a dependance on the sovereign for places and pensions. The nobility of England have not only remained rich from their property having increased in value as they lived more luxuriously, but the mass of their wealth has been considerably augmented by their intermarrying in families grown opulent by commerce, and by many of these latter having been added to the nobility. These circumstances, which are unknown in Germany, have saved the nobility Edition: current; Page: [441] of Britain from becoming, like the nobility of Germany, dependant on the sovereign.

The third order of the German states, the deputies of the towns, were in general the magistrates of the towns, who were originally tradesmen, and interested in the welfare of their fellow citizens, and in the honour of their city. As these magistrates had to administer the laws, when a foreign law was introduced into Germany, it became necessary one or more of them should study this law, or be a jurisconsult. In a little time they all became jurisconsults, and the whole influence of the magistracy fell into the hands of a sect or profession. The magistrates had then no means of acquiring wealth but by their profession as lawyers, and they became dependant on the sovereign, from being willing to unite any emoluments he could give them with those which they derived from their situation as magistrates.

Learned men necessarily regarded common tradesmen as very unqualified to judge of their fitness to fill the office of magistrates. They were countenanced in this opinion by that ignorance which admires what it cannot comprehend, and the magistrates were suffered to elect the magistrates. To ensure their power, they joined with the sovereigns against the citizens, and they effectually succeeded in taking from the latter all control over their own concerns. They necessarily lost by this, Edition: current; Page: [442] however, all the consequence and power which is derived from representing the opinions of a large body of men, and of being supported by them. They transferred the people to the sovereign, and they themselves dwindled into mere individual lawyers, whom the sovereign could command or buy when he pleased.

There is here another point of coincidence between Scotland and Germany. In both countries a foreign law was introduced different from the laws and customs of the people, which, in both, rendered the people entirely dependant on the interpreters of that law. By this means the mass of the people in Germany were gradually excluded from all participation in the administration of the law, and of government, and gradually reduced to such a state of comparative ignorance of political matters, as to render it dangerous, at a later period, to allow them to have any influence whatever in them. Thus it has ever been. Some vile state system degrades men, and then this very degradation is made the plea for continuing the system.

Government in Germany appears always to have been considered as a mere attribute of property. All its duties and its rights belonged to clerical corporations, to towns, and to individual nobles, as the owners of certain estates. The practice of dividing their properties, which so long kept the sovereigns of Germany weak and dependant on the Edition: current; Page: [443] nobles and towns, was generally abolished in the seventeenth century. When the right of primogeniture was introduced, the sovereigns not only transmitted their own properties undivided, but, by the extinction of other branches of their family, the number of the sovereigns diminished, and the power of each one became augmented by his uniting in his own hands several sovereignties. Thus the sovereigns of Prussia, of Hannover, of Austria, gradually acquired the power of several provinces and principalities, without the people or the states of those provinces becoming so united as to form any counterpoise to the increased power of the sovereigns. The revenues of the sovereigns of Germany were principally derived from landed property, and, as they acquired more territory, they necessarily added to their revenues. This gave them still greater power. The states of Kalenberg or of Brandenburg were fully competent to contend with the Prince of Kalenberg or the Margrave of Brandenburg, but their power was not equal to that of the Elector of Hannover or the King of Prussia. This was evidently a great cause of the loss of power by the states. They retained more power under the sovereigns of Wirtemberg and Saxony, who increased their dominions very little, than they did under the emperors of Austria, under the kings of Prussia, or under the electors of Hannover.

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The sovereigns of Germany were enabled to maintain standing armies out of their own revenues, and the privilege of the states to grant taxes, to keep them when collected, and to control their expenditure, became useless. The very contrary of this happened in Britain. The property of the sovereign became the property of the nation, and he became dependant on the parliament, not only for the means of carrying on war, but for the means of supporting his domestic establishment. The sovereigns of Germany possess a large part of the land as their own property, but the sovereign of Great Britain has little other wealth than an income fixed by the parliament.

In Germany, the clergy, as an independent part of the states, were destroyed, the nobles reduced to dependance by their poverty, and the magistrates of the towns were rendered insignificant by their ambition of governing independent of the people. In the same proportion as the sovereigns increased in wealth and power, the states lost great part of their influence as political bodies, and they are only now Edition: current; Page: [445] likely to regain it by becoming the representatives of the people and of public opinion.

There are some points of difference between the constitutions of these states of Germany and the parliament of Britain, and in the circumstances of the two countries, that deserve further notice. All the members of the states of Germany were in general members for life. In Britain the power of the crown is increased by parliaments lasting seven years instead of three, and the sovereigns of Germany must have had a proportionately greater influence over deputies who were never subjected to account to their constituents. Holding their situations for life, and at the same time managing the taxes, the interest of the deputies came to be the same as the interest of the crown, and they were easily persuaded to join in all its measures. A struggle between the landed and the commercial interest of Great Britain, in which each one is ready to buy the favour of the sovereign by sacrificing the other, has very often increased his power at the expence of both. The same fact is true of the German states; but, separated as the deputies of the towns were from the nobles, opposed to them as they have ever been since towns were first built, they were seldom or never disposed to act in strict concert. Each party very often made conditions for itself, and most generally the towns took on themselves a stipulated and unequal portion of Edition: current; Page: [446] the common burdens. The two bodies had no common interest. They were jealous of each other, and both sought the protection of the sovereign.

The wealth which has been diffused in our country by commerce, and the change in property which that has occasioned, is at present a very marked difference between Britain and the north of Germany, but that can hardly be considered as a primary cause of the difference in our political institutions. The facility of acquiring landed property in Britain, which enables the merchant to give stability to his wealth, and to acquire political power, has had great influence; but the mere extent of our commerce is rather a consequence than a cause of our political regulations. In the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries, when every town of the north of Germany was a trading town of some importance, when Brunswick, and Hannover, and Goslar, were members of the Hanseatic league, the north of Germany had probably as much commerce as England at the same period. The commerce of Britain has gradually increased since then, while that of Germany has stood still, if it has not actually diminished. The country possesses sea-coast, noble rivers, and all possible advantages of communication, but the same freedom has not been left to its trade as to that of Britain. The diminution of its commerce has been caused by impolitic regulations, but, as it Edition: current; Page: [447] once equalled our own, could it have given that freedom of which we boast, Germany would have possessed freedom as well as England. The extent of our commerce, by accumulating capital in the hands of a few persons, may be supposed rather to have impeded than promoted political liberty.

From the very imperfect manner in which the British parliament is composed, and from the total want of general principles in its formation, it has no real claim to the character of an accurate representation of the people, and there can be no doubt that all the good which we ascribe to it has been produced far less by virtue of its own composition, than by the influence of the public press. This has given it the support of public opinion, has embodied it with the nation, and prevented it from becoming what its constitution would otherwise have made it,—the mere organ of the ministry or of the monarch. Without the press its members would have possessed merely the influence which their own property, and the influence which the power of the persons who appoint them could give, and they would then have been a few individuals taking care of their own paltry interests. It is the press alone which has given them the support of the public, has elevated them to the dignity of legislators for the nation, and has invested them with all the power which flows from possessing the confidence of a great and a mighty Edition: current; Page: [448] people. If there were no busy, well-informed, meddling public, if there were no free press, our House of Commons would only be a larger sort of council to the crown, a more extensive ministry, exercising its office by usurping the name of the people.

The Germans have always been, till within a few years, destitute of any vehicle for public opinion, and of every means of giving it weight by concentration. Both as Germans, and as Austrians, Prussians, Hannoverians, &c. &c., they have never been united. They have had nothing in common but the name. Their country has constantly been subjected to a change in its governors or proprietors, and there has, therefore, been no common bond for the people. Their attention has been exclusively occupied with the trifles of learning, with the parade of war, or with the more necessary business of procuring subsistence. Many of them have had no time, and the rest have had no inclination, to attend to political affairs. There has been a want of large bodies of men, who regarded themselves as having a common interest, and there was no means of uniting the Germans into such bodies till they acquired a common literature. They have never regarded their states as the palladium of political freedom, they have, in truth, only thought of it within a few years. The states have, therefore, never had the power Edition: current; Page: [449] and the noble character of representing a whole nation. And one great cause why institutions so similar in their origin as the states of Germany and the Parliament of Great Britain, have had different results, has been, that the former have wanted that political public, and that free press which have saved the latter from becoming an insignificant council of the crown. It is by our own interference, by our own virtues, that we have gained all our advantages, and if liberty be, next to health, the greatest earthly good, we may appreciate how much the Germans have lost by neglecting to direct their own concerns, and by that implicit confidence which they have placed in their rulers.

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CHAPTER XIV.: hannover—the present states.

When united.—Speech of the Duke of Cambridge.—Intention of forming a general assembly of the states.—How composed.—Dependent on the government.—Imperfect as a system of representation.—Proceedings secret.—Salaries of members.—States protect a right of the people.—Benefits and disadvantages of the new system.—Probable effects.—Remarks on the wish of the Germans for new constitutions.

It had long been thought desirous to unite the many different provincial states which existed in Hannover into one general assembly for the whole country. The chief circumstance which prevented this union was, that each one of the provinces had different debts and taxes, which it was difficult or impossible to equalize according to any general principles, which should be just to all. When the country was taken possession of by the French, they reduced all the provinces to the same level of misery, and set aside all the provincial states, and thus facilitated, at a future period, the completion of the long desired union. Soon after Edition: current; Page: [451] Hannover was restored to the rule of its ancient sovereigns, the different provincial states, with some modifications, were ordered, by a proclamation dated August the 12th, 1813, to assemble in the town of Hannover, there to form one general assembly of the states for the whole kingdom. This assembly was not composed of precisely the same number of deputies as composed the several provincial states, but the sovereign ordered what number of deputies should be sent from each province, and by whom they should be elected.

The assembly was opened in form by the Duke of Cambridge on the 16th of December of the same year. In his speech, among other things, his Royal Highness said, “The Prince Regent was preceding the other sovereigns of Germany in calling an assembly together, in which the voice of the people might lift itself with freedom, but with order, for the purpose of informing him how he might best see his wish of promoting the welfare of the land fulfilled.” The president of the assembly, on the following day, replied to this speech, and praised in it “the noble spirit of the Prince Regent, because he wished to give his Hannoverian subjects that activity of mind which was the pride of the British nation, and which was the source of all those lesser advantages which support and adorn life.” The Duke of Cambridge replied, that “the Prince Regent had given up Edition: current; Page: [452] some rights which other princes regarded as a necessary part of the royal dignity, inasmuch as he had called them to be to him, what the parliament is in the sister kingdom of Great Britain; a great council of the nation.”

This is the language of temperate and rational freedom, and it explains tolerably well what was the intention of the sovereign in forming this assembly, and what he expected it to perform. Parliaments in some measure similar to this one, and with similar intentions, have been promised or given to most of the countries of Germany. They are modelled in name after the House of Commons of Great Britain, and are to form great councils for each nation. How far they are likely to succeed, and what are likely to be their effects, may, in some measure, be known by attending to the real formation of this of Hannover. A list, therefore, is given in the Appendix, No. II. of this assembly. It consists of 101 persons, 48 of whom represent the nobility, 10 the clergy, 37 the towns, and 6 the holders of free property, which has not the privileges of nobility attached to it. Four of the six represent the free proprietors of Friezland, one those of Hoya, and one is sent by the inhabitants of the marsh lands on the Elbe.

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It must be remembered, that what are classed as representatives of the clergy are not elected by any members of that body, but by the chapters of the several secularized convents which have been mentioned, all the members of which, with the single exception of those of the abbey of Loccum, hold these appointments at the will of the crown, and are very generally some of its civil servants. The representatives of the towns are elected by the magistrates, who are all either appointed by the crown, or dependant on it. In the absence of the sovereign the nobles, who possess the exclusive privilege of filling all the higher offices of the ministry and government, must be considered as the real sovereign and executive power. There remains, therefore, of the whole assembly only the six representatives of free property, who may not be considered as appointed by the executive government. A great majority of this “great council of the nation” is composed of members appointed by the executive government, to sanction, in the name of the people, all its acts. The name it bears in the country corresponds to this character; it is called the jahen Gesellschaft,—the assenting society.

There are only twenty-nine members of this assembly who do not actually hold some office, from which they may be removed at the pleasure of the crown; and, of this twenty-nine, there are only three merchants, and two agricultural gentlemen, Edition: current; Page: [454] who do not fill some situations in the service of the crown, such as officers of the army, from which it is not customary arbitrarily to remove them, or who have not filled some office, the title of which they still retain, and of which they may be deprived. Those who know how dear every title is to the vanity of a German, may appreciate the influence which these give the crown over the members of this assembly not actually in its service.

As a system of representation, even of the three classes, which it is said to represent, it is very defective. The whole body of the real clergy have no representative, and the deputies of the towns are elected by the magistrates, not by the citizens; as a system of representation for all the people it is still more defective. The whole class of the cultivators of land or peasants are neglected. They have no representative. In fact, the nobles are the only class adequately represented.

It cannot be expected that an assembly so composed should bestow on the country any of those advantages which we have derived from a popular government. It cannot give, according to the intentions of the sovereign, that activity of mind which our people derive from partly governing themselves, or rather from not being so much governed as other nations; it can never produce those benefits which we ascribe to our parliament; and bearing the name of a system of representation, it Edition: current; Page: [455] may chance to bring all such systems into discredit. The nations of Europe feel the weight of their respective governments more in taxation than in any other manner. All the members of this assembly are paid; it otherwise costs a considerable sum; it must add to the burdens of the people; and when they find, as they probably will, that no benefits are derived from it, they may be as unanimous in wishing its abolition as they were in asking it, and may gladly seek refuge in the less expensive government of a sovereign and his ministry.

One of the first acts nearly of this body was to decide whether their proceedings should be open and public, or not. I have been told by a member that the question was never decidedly put to the vote, but I have read that it was, and it was decided by a majority of two, that the proceedings should not be public. What they deliberate about, and the result of their deliberations, is never accurately known, further than that those things which they agree on are announced to the public in the form of laws.

A complete set of regulations for the conduct of the assembly was drawn up. A translation will be placed in the Appendix.

The deputies are to receive:—Those who live out of the town of Hannover, four thalers, 13s. 4d. per day each; and those who live in the town two thalers, 6s. 8d. per day each. To the officers Edition: current; Page: [456] of the assembly, such as the secretary and syndicii, some still greater pay is to be given, but the amount is not yet settled.

One instance has been mentioned of a deputy who was several years ago turned out by the government. Members may resign if they please; instances are known of their doing so; but with this exception they are elected for life.

The present powers of the states are not defined by any law, and they are not so established by custom that they can be described. They are to possess all the power which the different provincial states could rightly claim. This includes the right to grant or to refuse taxes, and to take them into their custody. This would be a mighty power, had the monarch no other revenues. His domains, however, render him independent of them. Every thing the government has yet asked for in the form of taxes has been given it. The management of them is entirely entrusted to what may be translated, the superior tax committee, ober Steuer Commission. This committee consists of five persons appointed by the crown, and of seven deputies elected by the states—one out of each province. The president is the minister of finance, and this committee regulates whatever relates to the levying, managing, and expending the taxes.

One particular point is known, and there may Edition: current; Page: [457] be more, in which the great prerogative of a representative assembly, that of granting taxes, is not regarded. The executive levies taxes without the consent of the states, by quartering soldiers to any extent it pleases on the people, without they receiving any remuneration. A particular instance of this is known to have occurred at Meppen, and of which the inhabitants complained.

It is equally bad that the governments of the provinces possess the power, at least they practise it, of ordering money to be collected for the support of the troops. By an order issued by the provincial government of Bentheim on the 10th day of March 1818, the inhabitants were made to pay two certain taxes for the support of the landwehr, land dragoons, and the 2d regiment of hussars quartered in Osnabrück. The order seems to have been given entirely in the name of the government. Höheren Orts are the indefinite words; and the people are warned, by the probability of punishment, to be punctual in their payments. When this sort of power remains in the hands of the sovereign, and is used by his servants, it is but a mockery to say, no taxes shall be levied without the consent of the states.

It has been said that no laws shall be made without their consent; and then it is affirmed that only is a law which is made with their consent. But many regulations have been made in Edition: current; Page: [458] which the states have had no concern whatever, although they are truly laws of a most important character. One has been mentioned as entirely altering the constitution of the city of Embden. Yet, contrary to the custom, when any law has been made in conjunction with the states, it was decreed in the name of the sovereign alone.

There appears to be no sort of regulations which the states may not assist in making. They have been called to deliberate on the improvement of the system of justice; and, imitating the practices of a British House of Commons, they gave solemn thanks to their mercenary army. On another occasion they interfered to protect an important part of the freedom of the subject. This deserves to be recorded not only to their honour, but as an example to another nation, which boasts much of its justice and freedom. In an act relative to the Landwehr, the ministers had inserted words which implied, it was only right for the subjects to quit the country when they had the permission of the government. These the states objected to, as “limiting the natural freedom of the inhabitants, and that right which is born with man, to seek his residence, according to his convenience, Edition: current; Page: [459] in a foreign country.” The ministers allowed the alteration, and the inhabitants of Hannover, more privileged in this point than some of the inhabitants of Great Britain, are allowed to carry their industry to the best market.

Representative assemblies are at present asked for in many parts of Germany. Subjects demand new constitutions of their sovereigns; and it may therefore be worth while to inquire what benefits have been conferred on Hannover by this new form of government, and what the rest of the Germans may expect from their demands being complied with.

Many persons appear to imagine, that hitherto Germany has been arbitrarily governed;—that the sovereigns have been every thing, and the people nothing; they therefore conclude, that any assembly bearing the name of a representative assembly, and approaching the character of one, must be a benefit to the country, and a step towards freedom. But the unlimited government of the sovereigns is of very modern origin; and it may be doubted if the representative assemblies which they may establish, will not be so framed as to support their own power, rather than to add to the freedom of the people. A very favourable opinion is also entertained of the principle of representation; Edition: current; Page: [460] and it seems to be imagined, that any assembly bearing the name of representatives of the people, is a sure guarantee to liberty. This is judging hastily; and it must not be inferred that the inhabitants of Hannover have had freedom given them by the sovereign, because he has established what he was pleased to call an assembly similar to the parliament of Great Britain.

The inhabitants of the different provinces of Hannover have long had different privileges; and a system of representation which might be a benefit to one part, might be a curse to another. A similar fact is true of most of the countries of Germany. A system of representation which would be an advantage to the ancient provinces of Prussia, might be a step towards slavery, if applied to the provinces on the Rhine. A very ill formed government might be a blessing to Hungary, which would be a curse to the dukedom of Austria. In the same way, the general assembly of the states in Hannover, which may be advantageous to some of the ancient provinces, may be most pernicious to Friezland. It is a very pretty sounding doctrine of politicians, that all the subjects of the same government should have equal rights and privileges. It would be still better extended to all men; they should all have equal rights and privileges. In the mouths of statesmen, however, this maxim does not mean an equality of freedom, nor that all should be raised Edition: current; Page: [461] to the same enjoyments, but that all should bear the same burdens, and be visited with the same oppressions. With them it is a sort of Jack Cade equality;—all men are to be equal, but they are to be the lords and masters. In pursuing this equalizing system, the free inhabitants of Hadeln and Friezland are now to be inflicted with as great a portion of the evils of government, with as great a weight of taxation, as the provinces of Kalenberg or Hoya. Those who have struggled for ages against their enemies, are now to be loaded with slavery by their professed friends. Such seems to be one characteristic of that general system now adopted for Hannover; and systems similar to it are probably about to be adopted throughout Germany.

Comparing the present situation of Friezland and Hadeln with their situation before the French occupation, they have both evidently lost much by being made parts of the general system. Where Friezland had its own parliament, in which the proprietors of land were adequately represented, it now sends nine members to the general assembly, four only of whom can be considered as independent. It has been already proved, that they are not able to shield their country against the power of the government. When the parliament assembled in Friezland, it was under the influence of the opinion of all the people; but how shall the opinions of the Friezlanders cross the sands, so as Edition: current; Page: [462] to make any impression on the assembly at Hannover? or what weight will be allowed to so small a part of the whole? It is generally a blessing to limit the number of separate governments. Scotland, Ireland, and England, have only become one nation, since they had but one government. As governments are reduced in number, so national distinctions and national animosities are diminished; but it must always be desirable, that the less free should be united to the more free, and not that the freeman should be bound with the slave. It is from changing its own free government for the government of Hannover, that Friezland has suffered.

The little Land Hadeln also has changed the ten deputies which it formerly had, who met together in that Land itself, and who were controlled by the opinion of their neighbours and friends, for a single representative in the general assembly; and he is a doctor of laws, chief of the police, and bürgermeister of Otterndorf.

Could the assembly be considered as independent of the sovereign, it would undoubtedly be a more efficacious instrument for supporting the rights of the people than so many scattered provincial states. Being dependant, however, it will probably be more easily led by him now when it is united, than the separate assemblies could be. In fact, the difficulty of procuring similar resolutions to be adopted Edition: current; Page: [463] by all the provincial states, was one reason assigned for uniting them together. One assembly is a focus for public opinion, but public opinion has yet to be formed, and it can only be worked into a consistency by a free press, which the country does not enjoy. This assembly at present can have no support from public opinion; there is no such thing in all the half-inhabited provinces of the kingdom, and there is no means of forming it. The press from the other parts of Germany may have an influence on the assembly, but its nominal constituents, and the nation at large, can neither support it nor bring it into disrepute. It is at present independent of them, and can only work good or evil of itself.

The prosperity of our country is frequently attributed to the mere circumstance of our having a House of Commons, which may lead persons to imagine, that, now Hannover has a similar assembly, she can have nothing more to desire. Her people having received that from the bounties of the crown, will be seduced into indolence, and tempted to believe that they have done whatever is necessary to secure their freedom. They will be likely to slacken their efforts, and resign themselves more patiently to the direction of the government. It is, however, apparent, that most of our prosperity is more owing to our free press than to our parliament, and, composed as that of Hannover Edition: current; Page: [464] is, it never can be a cause of prosperity to that country. Contemporary, however, with its establishment, a sort of free press, and a thirst for political discussion, have in some measure grown into use in Germany. Political knowledge is rapidly spreading. The Germans must improve, and it is probable that the improvements derived from an increase of knowledge will be ascribed to an expensive parliament. Men will be still taught to look to parliaments for those remedies for their sufferings which they must in fact supply themselves. This assembly must be regarded as adding to the expences of the country, and as complicating still more the machinery of government. It will reduce the peasant to a still greater degree of poverty, and rather prevent than promote the spread of political knowledge. It never can be what the sovereign said it was intended to be. It never can be a larger council of the nation. It may echo the voice of the ministers, but it can never lift up the voice of the people.

Men boldly arraign and censure the laws of an individual sovereign or his minister, or the actions of any single man, when they patiently submit to those laws which emanate from a body of men, and they deem those actions right which are performed by a multitude. The decrees of a congress, or of a parliament, though as unjust as the decrees of a single man, are much more respected. When the Edition: current; Page: [465] debates of a legislative assembly till it forms a decision, be in secret, the delusions of interest, and the inflammation of passion, are likely to render its decrees unjust. The wisdom of a few men is but little better competent to govern nations than the wisdom of one. Both are inadequate. But, from the respect which men now pay to the decisions of deliberative assemblies, it is obvious, that, by establishing them, the principles of obedience are laid on a broader foundation. When such assemblies are under the influence of the crown, they add to its direct power all that indirect power which is derived from the subjects entertaining a conviction that the decisions of a number of legislators will be more correct than the decisions of one. They are very often, however, dictated by the wisdom or prejudice of one person only, and deliberative assemblies, under the control of the crown, are a covert means of stamping laws with the signatures of many wise men, which are often made by one very foolish man.

It is not a new spectacle for ministers to shelter an unpopular and an unjust action by the authority of parliament. Had it rested on their individual responsibility, were their names alone to be blackened with all its infamy, they would have shrunk from its performance. But when they can seduce or persuade a large assembly to sanction the deed, the infamy becomes so divided, and so small a portion Edition: current; Page: [466] falls to each individual’s share, that a large assembly, under the influence of the crown, may be considered as a convenient instrument for executing all its unjust or oppressive measures. We have seen how the assembly for Hannover is formed. If the parliaments which the monarchs may give to other countries be formed in a similar manner, they will only be a more secure means of carrying into execution unjust decrees. They will be what our House of Commons has sometimes been described to be,—a control upon the people, not a control for them.

There are many testimonies at present to the evil of numerous laws. There is a diseased desire to legislate common to this age, which crowds the statute-books of every European nation with numerous and contradictory enactments. It has been mentioned how mischievous the provincial governments of Germany are, merely from being composed of a number of persons who have nothing else to do but to govern. And long since the rest of these observations were written, Sir J. Mackintosh is said to have observed in the House of Commons, “that the revolution of 1688, by giving more power to parliaments, had given a facility to legislation which had been productive of many unjust laws.” Creating a legislative assembly supposes Edition: current; Page: [467] a necessity to make laws, and it encourages that desire to legislate which has already been so productive of evil. The doctrines of political economy have taught us that there exist laws made by nature which are eminently productive of prosperity; that these laws cannot be violated without impeding that prosperity, and that the whole of European legislation, in so far as the production of wealth is concerned, is, and has long been, a violation of all those natural laws by which wealth is produced. It is notoriously known, that individual industry is the source of national wealth; that the natural love of luxury and distinction constantly excites industry, and that this is never so well regulated, nor so productive, as when it is left entirely free. Nature has, therefore, already made laws for the conduct of individuals and of nations, which cannot be violated without prejudice, and which teach us that there is little or no necessity for human legislation. For the people to demand legislative assemblies, supposes them ignorant of this most important fact, and to create legislative assemblies can only tend to oppress future generations, even more than we are oppressed with the unwise regulations of a more ignorant age. There is room to doubt if legislative assemblies be the best means of promoting improvement, and, before such a quantity of political knowledge can be spread amongst the mass of the German people, as will Edition: current; Page: [468] make such assemblies beneficial by subjecting them to public control, it is possible that they may be abolished as pernicious in countries more advanced in political knowledge. Many evils are in Germany occasioned by governing too much, and this is likely to be increased rather than diminished by creating parliaments. Too much good is already expected from governments, and more will be expected from them as they are supposed to be better constituted. Men will augment that blind obedience they now pay to sovereigns when they transfer it to legislative assemblies, and the great failure of the German, perhaps of the European mind, is its habitual and undiscerning reverence for constituted authority. A host of governments and unproductive labourers is already one sore on the body politic of Germany, and this disease will be much increased by the creation of legislative assemblies.

The present power and prosperity of Great Britain excite envy amongst other European nations, and they imitate those institutions which are supposed to be the causes of this power and prosperity. It would be well for the world if they were accurately traced and thoroughly known. They are all to be referred to “the greater activity of our people.” And in Germany there seems to be but one opinion as to the causes of this activity. It is attributed to our free press and our representative Edition: current; Page: [469] system. Hence the Germans are loud in their demands for a similar system. Some men ridicule these demands from a hatred of freedom, others are jealous of our own superiority, and imagine no other people are capable of appreciating political liberty but ourselves, and they affirm that other nations are not yet qualified, by their knowledge, to enjoy it. There are others, again, who, quite in love with our own institutions, assume them as a standard of perfection, and measure the progress of other nations by the approximations they make to them. Without joining with either of these parties, the wish which the Germans have for a representative system like that of Great Britain, and their loud demands for it, appear to me both blind and rash; though they cannot be regarded as incapable of appreciating and of enjoying the highest degree of political liberty. If there be one people on earth who are qualified to receive and to enjoy freedom, that people is the Germans. The kindness of their hearts; the amiableness of their manners; the softness of their dispositions; and the quantity of agreeable knowledge which is spread amongst them, and which constantly employs, without subduing, the passions, will secure to every man, without the interference of an iron government, the free enjoyment of his property and his time, and may guarantee all the surrounding nations against any irruption from Germany, Edition: current; Page: [470] except the irruptions of knowledge. They are blind and rash, however, in their demands, because they value legislative assemblies too highly, and because it is certain that for them partially to imitate one of the institutions of Britain, when the whole frame of their society is different, can never promote that freedom to which they have so just a claim.

“Each nation,” says one of their own authors, “must imitate the spirit, and not the words and forms, of what is excellent in another country. Each one must form itself after its own manner. Some general ideas are applicable to all, but the manner in which they must be carried into execution must, and always will, be different in each nation that possesses a history.” The Germans, therefore, should build on German foundations, rather than seek to import the institutions of another country. They should recognize, as the basis of their proceedings, the most perfect state of society, and they should endeavour expediently to bring their own country to that state. They are now only imitating imperfection, confounding change with improvement, and adopting the errors of another people, instead of following their own wisdom.

The exclusive privileges of their towns were undoubtedly great evils, and ought to have been gradually and utterly abolished, but organized as they Edition: current; Page: [471] were, the residence, as they have long been, and are, of all that is polished and informed, they afford a ready means of opposing a consolidated mass of opinion to any acts of oppression. Their magistracy required to be made more popular; their exclusive privileges to be gradually rubbed away; their walls to be thrown down, and the entry to them made free. The Germans, however, seem not to admit of gradual improvements. They are boys in politics; they wish to knock down systems like card-houses; they would not reform the privileges of their towns; they abolished them.

I can but regard the writers of Germany as having accelerated the ruin of the political privileges of their ancient and venerable cities; as having gone before the steps of the sovereigns with their wishes and advice. The former usurpations of the towns, their lofty and unjustifiable pretensions, had excited a spirit of opposition and of hatred. They were regarded also as the remains of feudality. In truth they were; but they were the temples of that system, in which all that was innocent, and sacred, and free, had been harboured, and from which issued all the light of liberty and science. Much of the hatred against them was built on the pride of learning. Learned men listen with no patience to the pretensions of shoemakers and masons. They could not forget that low mechanics framed Edition: current; Page: [472] the laws of the guilds, which were therefore contemptible from their origin, and which they have unsparingly reprobated. I am sensible of the impolicy of the close corporations of the towns of Germany; but, by demanding the sovereign to reform them, the whole of their powers and privileges have fallen into the hands of government. It has acquired a greater power to resist the wishes of the people, and many powerful bodies of men, who were accustomed to act together for political purposes, have been entirely dissolved.

All the separate and particular privileges and laws of the thousand little Gaus, districts, and circles which there are in Germany, are all impolitic; but each one had a name peculiar to itself, and its inhabitants were in some measure accustomed to live and act together. It was on such local distinctions, and on such German and ancient foundations, that the Germans should have sought to build up their political edifice. The great want is, a means of giving political knowledge and power to the great mass of the people. The ancient distinctions found them collected into bodies, and fitted them to receive and transmit political power. German authors and German governments seem to have formed to themselves a more scientific and mathematical idea of these matters. They want an equality throughout to be established. Edition: current; Page: [473] They strive anxiously after a uniformity of organization to which we are utter strangers; and the consequence has been, that they have all been reduced to the same measure of submission to the power of the sovereigns. The striving after uniformity, and the wish to introduce a British constitution into Germany, have led the Germans not merely to forget all their ancient privileges and rights, but induced them to aid the sovereigns in trampling them under foot, and in seizing the whole powers of the several classes.

The long established privileges of a feudal nobility were most debasing and pernicious to the people; but the gradual increase in wealth and knowledge of the other classes, rendered the nobles no longer dangerous. The veneration which other people had for them it was right to destroy. It may however be doubted, if the society will not be more injured by all the powers and privileges of the nobles now centering in the hands of the sovereigns, than when they were divided amongst several people. One master is better than many; but from the natural progress of things, there was a greater chance of destroying the many than there is of resisting the one successfully, now when he concentrates in himself all the powers of the many. It would be better if the Germans could unite the nobles in favour of political improvements, rather than drive them, as they are Edition: current; Page: [474] now doing, by an eagerness to destroy them, into the palace of the monarch.

In England, a constitution seems to be regarded as the grand principles assented to by the monarch, as a guide for his mode of government, and by the people, as prescribing the extent of their obedience. In Germany, however, constitutions are asked from the sovereigns as favours, and accepted as gifts. This is fundamentally wrong. For the giver may annex to his gift what conditions he pleases. If the states be representatives of the people, or if they assemble by virtue of rights inherent in themselves, the extent of their powers must be previously established, or they can only be limited by the people whom they represent. All power rests in the people; it is nothing separate and distinct from muscular force; and they ought to determine what portions of it they will give their representatives, how many they will have when they shall meet, and what business they shall perform. When they ask constitutions from their sovereigns, however, they give them that right to prescribe conditions, which belongs to the people themselves. By the very petition they degrade themselves to servants and slaves; and where they ought to command on what conditions their delegated authority should be exercised, they entreat permission to approach a master. The petition implies, that the sovereigns possess a greater Edition: current; Page: [475] degree of political power than they ought to possess, or than they ever have before possessed. The only sovereign of Germany who ever possessed such a power was the king of Prussia; but his arbitrary assumptions of it in a time of disorder and distress were illegal, till they were sanctioned by his people imploring him as a favour to give back the rights which he had usurped.

A demand for new constitutions throws the power of new modelling all the ancient usages of a country into the hands of a sovereign. We have seen how this has been used in Hannover and Prussia, and we may thence infer that it will most generally be employed to strengthen and secure the power of the sovereign. There has yet been but one Washington in the world, and he was born and bred not a sovereign but a subject. From the mighty increase which has taken place in the power of the sovereign throughout Europe, it is manifest that its further increase is what men have most to dread, and to guard against, unless it should be absurdly supposed that the whole race of men ought to suffer their faculties and powers to be limited by some of the weakest of their fellow mortals.

Men are perhaps now, however, awake to the evils of unrestrained power. The recent conduct of most of the sovereigns and their ministers has taught them what to expect from an implicit confidence Edition: current; Page: [476] in the promises of kings. These gentlemen everywhere pursue the same sort of conduct, they promise largely, and they give to their subjects such a mockery of free institutions as the states of Hannover, in whose name they attempt to secure their own power. The circumstance of questioning their infallibility has taught them to take measures to secure ready obedience. They have increased their revenues, they have augmented their armies, they give constitutions suitable to the circumstances of the times, they establish numerous subordinate governments, they control education, they bribe the arts, they seduce the sciences; whatever they can do, that they do to secure and to augment their sovereign power. It may be hoped, however, that their attempts will be vain. They must stand or fall by opinion, and this most assuredly grows against them. Men begin to measure the value of governments, to mock at their preposterous claims to a power to make the race happy, and they must sink to the level ordained by general utility. It is from doubting the utility of sovereign power that we are most taught to deprecate and condemn a demand for new constitutions. It invites sovereigns to mix in all the affairs of men, till the most common concerns of life are not left to the guidance of individual wisdom; and these feeble mortals, encouraged by our reverence, charge themselves with the enormous, and when coolly examined, Edition: current; Page: [477] the impracticable power of regulating and promoting the happiness of the whole race of mankind.

What the Germans have already gained they have gained by means of their press, and they should rely on that alone for greater conquests. In fact, the only utility of a legislative assembly, such as that of the parliament of Great Britain, arises from its being the organ through which public opinion may make itself quietly known; and, since the force of public opinion has already, in several instances, procured the establishment of such assemblies, it surely may be relied on to effect alterations of less importance without the intervention of these intermediary organs. Public opinion is no tangible thing like the walls of a parliament-house or the members of a parliament, and in this age of figures, when every thing is numbered and counted, nothing is believed that cannot be submitted to the test of arithmetic. Public opinion is not, therefore, confided in unless it has a specific and regular mouth piece, that can be examined and measured. It has demolished empires, it has controlled and destroyed the mightiest power the world ever saw,—it has altered, and is constantly altering, every society in Europe,—it renders laws of no avail,—it supplies their place,—it punishes crimes that they can never reach,—and yet, because it can neither be seen nor put into a mathematical shape, men act as if they did not believe Edition: current; Page: [478] in its existence. Its organization costs nothing, its progress is exactly in proportion to the wants of the society, and it is on it the Germans should rely, rather than on new and expensive institutions.

The progress of public opinion in Germany is strongly marked by the homage which the former military despots of that country are now obliged to pay to the name of Freedom; they assume her dress and her language, and wear a mask resembling her, when their only aim is to destroy her. The very words, “Voice of the people,” “Council of the nation,” mark a deference in the sovereigns of Germany to the formerly despised people, and to public opinion, which were equally unknown and unhoped for prior to the French Revolution. It is only from tracing what men have performed that we can conceive what they may accomplish. The progress which the Germans have already made is a pleasing guarantee for their future improvement. We are quite certain that they must go on improving, though it is impossible for any imagination to tell where they will stop.

Since this was written, I have read two or three reports that another, a newer, and a finer constitution, is to be given to Hannover. It is now to have a House of Peers and Commons, which will be a still farther and still more ridiculous imitation of Great Britain, Edition: current; Page: [479] and a still farther complication of what is already a most complicated machine. Are not these changes sporting with solemn and sacred things? Are not men taught by them to despise governments altogether? And is not this modelling and remodelling Jacobinism on the part of sovereigns? Reform may lead to innovation, but change can only be followed by destruction.

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CHAPTER XV.: hannover.—the army.—revenue.—taxes.

Strength of the army.—How recruited.—Landwehr.—Power of the sovereign over the people.—Military punishments.—Courts-martial composed liberally.—Sources of revenue.—Domanial accounts not submitted to the public.—Taxes.—Debts.—Expenditure.—Manner of levying taxes.—Complaints.

The army of Hannover consists of

Men. Horses.
Artillery, 1,315 200
Infantry, 10 battalions, 6,300
Cavalry, 8 regiments, 4,840 4376
Chasseurs, 100 100
Land dragoons, 212
Invalids, 160
General staff, 13
12,940 4676

The landwehr is estimated at 18,000 men, making the whole army 30,940 men.

Edition: current; Page: [481]

The regular troops are recruited by voluntary enlistment. The landwehr is embodied by constraining certain classes of the inhabitants to enter into it. The whole country is divided into thirty districts, and each district provides men for one battalion, which bears the name of the district. The number of men to each battalion is 600, but it is the duty of the commander-in-chief, with the advice of the cabinet ministry, to determine what number of men each district shall furnish. Every man between the ages of nineteen and twenty-five, capable of carrying arms, is liable to serve in the landwehr. If the persons between these two ages are not numerous enough to complete the quota required, then the persons who have passed their twenty-fifth year, and have not reached their thirtieth year, are liable to serve, but cannot be called out till the first and second reserves have been both exhausted. These reserves consist of some particular classes of those persons who are between nineteen and twenty-five years old. Postillions, men whose trade requires some considerable time to learn it, and whose place could not be immediately supplied, and many others, form the first reserve; owners of manufactories, farmers keeping a team, the only son of a widow, or of parents who depend on him for support, and several others, form the second reserve. Public officers of all descriptions are entirely free.

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The pastor of each parish is obliged to give the magistrates lists of all the males born or confirmed in the parish, who have entered their twentieth year. The magistrates add to them all the persons resident in the parish, thought not born in it, who have reached the same age. These lists are then publicly exposed in some well frequented place during eight days, in order that every person may know if his name be inscribed or not; and if it be not, and he be liable to serve, he must himself inform the magistrates thereof. The magistrates then fix a convenient time and place, to which every person liable to serve must go, or send some person properly qualified to represent him.

At this meeting there are four persons, namely, a landwehr commissioner, a military commissioner, the chief magistrate of the district, and an under magistrate as secretary, who form a sort of commission to examine any claims which the persons whose age renders them liable to serve may have on other grounds to be free from service. A surgeon, the amts assessor, the Vorsteher of the village, and two or three respectable inhabitants, must also be present. The parties are examined publicly. Individuals not content with the decision of these commissioners, may repeat their claims to the magistrate in writing, who communicates them to the landwehr commissioner; this latter must state his opinion to the cabinet ministry, Edition: current; Page: [483] which decides on the claims without further appeal.

After this examination, the landwehr commissioner makes out lists of the persons liable to serve, of those who are to be set in the reserves, of those who, being within the prescribed age, are yet fully free, and of those whose health or other circumstances do not allow them to serve at the moment. These lists are sent to the ministry, and are subjected to its review.

When the persons liable to serve are examined, they draw by lot, each one a number, and it is according to the numbers that the individuals are taken to fill up the vacancies of the battalions, or taken from the reserves when that is necessary. The people are at liberty to change these numbers one with another, and to provide substitutes when they do not themselves like to serve. The period of service is fixed at six years, but in time of war it may be indefinitely extended by the will of the sovereign.

All the persons liable to serve are exercised for four weeks every year, and on a certain number of Sundays after noon. During peace, they are permitted for the other eleven months of the year to follow their ordinary occupations. They must not, however, quit their place of residence without permission. They are only subjected to military discipline during the exercise time, and when engaged Edition: current; Page: [484] in actual service. It is at the same periods only that the landwehr man receives any pay, though the officers are permanently employed and paid. When the Hannoverian army is sent to the field, every regiment is to be composed of one battalion of regular troops, and of two battalions of landwehr. It is intended always to preserve these proportions, so that, with an army of 10,000 regular troops, a force of 30,000 men may be speedily assembled.

During the time the Hannoverian troops were in France, eighty men of each battalion were kept in constant service, and the sovereign may employ as many as he pleases. There is no limit to his power on this point; no specified occasion on which he may order the landwehr into actual service. He alone is the judge of the time proper to order the landwehr out, and of the number he will employ. His power is on this point only limited by his revenues. The ministry also decides, in the last resort, on questions of liability to serve, so that the whole young population of Hannover are entirely at the mercy of the sovereign, and may be subjected by him to military discipline whenever he pleases. It is commonly said that every man is bound to defend his country, but this can only mean that every man is bound to defend himself, and he defends his country because its laws and customs are valuable to him. In our time, however, Edition: current; Page: [485] politicians and military despots call themselves and their own petty ambition, interests, and passions, the country, and they are in the habit of commanding men to murder one another for their own despicable purposes. On this ground, such a power in the hands of any sovereign as this over the Landwehr is most pernicious. It allows him to compel his subjects, under the delusive words of fighting for their country, to engage in wars of aggression and violence. Such has been the use made of conscriptions in all ages.

The Hannoverian army, in its appearance and discipline, resembles our own. Punishments are still severe, and running the gauntlet is yet a common practice. A permanent military court takes cognizance of military offences. Courts-martial, when they are necessary, are composed of some members taken from the class to which the offender belongs. It was once proposed to introduce such a regulation into the British navy, and, at the same time, to interdict all arbitrary punishments. And it was supposed this would have the effect of rescuing our sailors from that severity of flogging which has long ago made our men of war the objects of every sailor’s detestation. Though it is reduced to practice in Hannover, it was laughed at in England as visionary.

The officers of the Hannoverian army receive their first commission from the bounty of the sovereign, Edition: current; Page: [486] but they are afterwards promoted according to their seniority. Every one must, however, first study for three years at the military school. They have the reputation of being plain, sensible, well-behaved men.

The revenues of the government of Hannover are derived from the domains and from taxes. The former are regarded as the private property of the sovereign, of which he may dispose in what manner he pleases. In former times, it appears that there was no other mode known in Europe of paying public functionaries than that of giving them the produce of certain portions of land. The nobles of Europe, some of whom have become modern sovereigns, were originally officers for the administration of justice, or of the army. Many of those of the north of Germany were appointed by Charlemagne, when he conquered the country, and were paid with a portion of land. Many of them, again, were originally elected by the people, who also gave them certain lands as their reward. The inhabitants of the north of Germany were originally free allodial possessors; their name of Saxons, or Sassen, is said to be derived from this circumstance. They are said to have frequently resigned their lands into the hands of certain chiefs, on condition of these chiefs protecting them. The lands were given back as feuds, and held on the mutual conditions of services and protection. Some of these Edition: current; Page: [487] lands have since escheated to the feudal lords, by the family of the vassal becoming extinct. But they were originally given to them that they might protect the vassal.

The property which formerly belonged to the church was begged, and claimed, and possessed, by its members, on condition of performing certain services for the people, such as teaching them, praying for them, buying them out of purgatory with holy words, and ensuring to them eternal happiness. At the Reformation, those persons who took the property of the church took with it, or ought to have taken with it, the duties which possessing that property imposed. It was from sources such as these that the nobles and sovereigns of Europe originally derived all the land cultivated by other people, which they acquired justly, that is, without robbery, conquest, and fraud. This property they are bound to administer for the service of the people, or at least to perform the duties which possessing it imposes on them, without further reward. The altered circumstances of the world, however, leave many of them no duties to perform, though they now claim the property as their hereditary right.

It is found from experience to be necessary that subjects should make their rulers submit to them the accounts of the receipts and disbursements of public money. The people of Hannover have, in some Edition: current; Page: [488] measure, the accounts of the taxes submitted to them through their representatives. In former times, the whole expences of the sovereign and of government were defrayed out of the domains. The extra supplies given by the states were always granted for specific purposes, and for short and stated periods. The sovereign only appealed to them when, from particular circumstances, such as war or his improvidence, the produce of the domains was insufficient for the public service. And from the domanial possessions of the sovereign having been originally given for the public service, the Hannoverians have an equal right to see the accounts of them with the accounts of the taxes. They would be justified should they demand that the produce of the domains, and the manner in which it is expended, be submitted to them. They, however, acquiesce in the sovereign using this produce as his private property, and, therefore, nothing is ever known concerning it but by conjecture.

Prior to the French occupation, the domanial income was supposed to amount to 1,875,000 Cassen-Thalers, or L. 312,500 Sterling. At present it is estimated at 3,000,000 Cassen-Thalers, or somewhat more than L. 500,000 Sterling.

There are seven taxes in Hannover, namely, 1st, A land-tax; 2d, A tax on things consumed in towns, called slaughter or licence-tax; Edition: current; Page: [489] 3d, A tax on brewing and distilling; 4th, A tax on salt; 5th, Stamp duties; 6th, Tax on imported articles; 7th, A tax on income and on persons. The exact amount of each, and of all these taxes, is not known. The official accounts had been long promised, but were never ready to be submitted to the states. The following is supposed to be an approximation to the truth: Land-tax, L. 170,000; tax on consumption of towns, L. 20,000; on brewing and distilling, L. 67,000; on salt, L. 5000; stamps, L. 15,000; customs, L. 33,000; income and persons, L. 92,000. There is reason to believe that this statement is rather low, and that the whole produce of the taxes may be taken at L. 3,000,000 Thalers, or about L. 500,000, making, with the domanial revenues, a sum of L. 1,000,000 per year, as the whole revenue of Hannover. The complicated Hannoverian government, compared with the value of the concern administered, reminds one of the machine described by Smollet, which required several horses to put it in motion, and which was invented for the mighty purpose of cutting cabbages scientifically from the stalk.

The known and certain debts of the old provinces of Hannover, including Osnabrück, amounted in 1813 to 10,677,461 Thalers. The new provinces have also some debts; and some have been contracted since 1813, the amount of which is Edition: current; Page: [490] unknown. They are roughly estimated as making, together with the old debts, the sum of 20,000,000 Thalers, or about L.3,330,000. They bear interest at 4 per cent.

The following are some of the items to which the produce of the taxes is devoted, though the whole expenditure is not accurately known:—Interest of the debts, 800,000 Thalers. Military, 1,400,000. Administration of justice, 128,000. Education, and such good purposes, 65,000. States, 50,000; making together 2,443,000 Thalers, or about L.407,000 Sterling. How the remainder is disposed of is unknown. As the ministry and the greater part of all the servants of government are paid out of the L.500,000 arising from the domains; as part of the expences of the army are also paid out of these; and as a full court-establishment has always, till lately, been kept up in Hannover, it is not possible, as is supposed by some people, that our royal family have drawn a great deal of wealth from that country. Some it possibly may have drawn; but all that can be saved from such a revenue, with so complicated a system of administration, can certainly never have exceeded the income of an English gentleman.

The manner of levying these taxes is, of course, Edition: current; Page: [491] different, according to the tax. The land has at various times been measured and valued; and, according to these valuations, the occupier or owner was obliged to pay the proportion fixed. When the owner was either the monarch or a noble, the land he kept in his own hands paid no land-tax; but that which he let to tenants was paid for by them. But if the owner of the property was not noble, he paid the tax on the land he occupied.

At the gates of the towns which pay the slaughter tax, a man usually called a gate secretary, Thor Schreiber, collects the tax on all articles subject to it, as they enter the town. It seems to have been supposed, that the land-tax falling heavier on the inhabitants of the country than on the inhabitants of the towns, made this additional tax on the towns people necessary to equalize the burdens. The tax on meal, however, is yet levied on the inhabitants of the country. There are every where yet found what are called zwang Mühle, or mills, to which the inhabitants of certain districts must send their corn to be ground, and where a tax is levied on it. It was from the land-tax, and from the slaughter-tax, and from the zwang Edition: current; Page: [492] Mühle, and from the domanial tolls, that the nobility were formerly entirely free; to some of the other taxes they could not be subjected, except as consumers, as they never distilled or brewed, and the others they paid. According to a late regulation, they are now to pay their proportion of all these taxes. As landholder, the monarch is now to pay the land-tax from his domains.

When a person wants to brew, he is obliged to give notice to the proper officer of the quantity and nature of the grain from which he intends to brew, the day and hour when the malt is to be mashed, and the day and hour when the vats will be filled; and the tax is levied in certain proportions, according to the quantity of malt employed, and the quantity of beer obtained. If a small quantity of the latter is made, the quantity of malt employed is paid for in the proportion of 1s. per bushel for wheat malt, 8d. for barley, and 6d. for oats. If a large quantity of beer be obtained, it is paid for at so much per gallon.

The law orders every man who has a still to give notice of it to the collector of taxes. This still is measured, and the alembic or cover deposited with the collector; and each distiller is charged so much in proportion to the size of his still, every time he takes the alembic away. He may not take it for less than twenty-four hours, but for so much longer a period as he pleases; and Edition: current; Page: [493] he pays, in proportion to the time he has it, so much per day. Strict regulations expose any person to punishment who possesses, makes, buys, or repairs a still without giving notice of it to the tax-gatherer. The tax on salt is paid by the manufacturers before it is allowed to leave the place where it is made;—it is 5d. per bushel. Stamp duties are collected as in our country. All law papers which are laid before the chanceries or other courts are subject to a stamp-duty each of 3d.; consequently all law proceedings are taxed. There are also a variety of contracts and bargains which are subjected to a greater stamp-duty.

The tax on imported articles, or customs, is levied by officers on the borders, or at the ports where they are introduced; and they are at present levied according to a strange principle.—Each hundred weight of goods, be they what they may, pays 2s. on entry. Liquids, of course, pay by the measure; and to the general rule there are some exceptions; as tobacco, which is subject to a greater duty; but a hundred weight of fine cottons, or cambrics, and a hundred weight of iron, are subjected to the same importation duty. This regulation saves a great deal of trouble. The effects of levying taxes on particular articles appears yet so imperfectly known, that this plan may be as useful as any other.

The people are obliged to make returns to the Edition: current; Page: [494] collectors of the number of persons in their families. The whole are divided into classes, and the individuals pay according to the number of heads, and according to the extent of their income, as they belong to one or other of the six classes. The sum paid is, in the first class, 2s. in the sixth class, 1½d. by each person per month. Children are paid for when above sixteen years old. The income-tax is levied in the same way; the people paying a greater or less tax, as they are in the first or sixth class.

The collection of the taxes is under the direction of a committee, or commission, of eleven members of the states, as before mentioned, the individuals of which are partly appointed by the crown, partly by the states. One portion of them are treasurers, the other superintend the levying. There are six principal directors immediately subordinate to this commission, each of which has the superintendence over certain districts. These districts are again divided into circles, and there is one or more collectors to each circle. Under these, again, are placed the gate secretaries, and other subaltern officers of the district.

The pressure of governments on subjects is at present so exclusively felt through taxes, that these latter are always sure to be complained of. At present, also, men complain more than before. The pressure they labour under is augmented, Edition: current; Page: [495] while the hope they had formed of its being decreased has been disappointed. The ex-emperor had so long been the object of reproach, he had done so many unusual and very often oppressive things, and men are so ready to attribute every evil they suffer to every thing but their own deeds and opinions, that it was only natural all Europe should believe he was the cause of every calamity and suffering. People consequently hoped when he was destroyed that golden days of enjoyment would be their lot. He is destroyed, and the only difference discovered is, that the evils suffered are still as great, but they are more systematically, regularly, and, according to opinion, legitimately inflicted.

It is in some measure because the hopes which the Hannoverians had formed to themselves have been disappointed, that they now complain very much of the weight of taxation. It does not appear to be absolutely so great as during the French usurpation, but it is very little short, and greater beyond all comparison than before that period. The restored government appears to have made it only a secondary consideration whether the people could support all its multiplied servants: its first care was to make them. It had a noble opportunity for benefiting all its subjects, and for acquiring their love. It has done nothing more than make a much greater number of dependants. Edition: current; Page: [496] Amongst these dependants are to be found nearly all the men of education in the country, and not a single person, therefore, appears to have thought of simplifying that immense machine whose complexity is the great cause of all the poverty, distress, and discontent, though the latter is not great, which are found in the country.

Some of the particular complaints which are made are directed against the inequality of the taxes. That, for example, on persons, by which a man who has 400 Thalers per year pays half as much as he who has 6000. Other complaints are directed against the impolicy of a tax, that, for example, on distillation, which allows smuggling from the neighbouring countries in which such a tax is not levied. On the subject of taxation, however, it will always be impossible to reconcile the wants of governments with the wants of the people. Taxes will always be unpopular, because he who pays never can discover the good he receives in exchange for his money.

This gentleman is since dead.

Historische Entwickelung der heutigen Staatsverfassung, des Teutschen Reichs vom. Putter, Vol. III. 278.

It was a son of this man who was the prototype of Goethe’s hero, Werter. See Aus meinem Leben, Vol. III. p. 337.

Geschichte des Fürstenthums, Hannover, Vol. I. p. 49.

Aus meinem Leben, Vol. III. p. 34.

Perhaps the reader may not be acquainted with this game, and it may therefore be proper to describe it. A female sits down, one of the company kneels down, and lays his head in her lap, so that he can for the moment see nothing. He lays one of his hands behind him, flat on his back, and all those who choose to play give him smart strokes on this hand, till he guesses who hit him, when the person who is discovered must take his turn on his knees. In this instance, however, they neither sat nor kneeled down, but one person stooped down and hid his face in the apron of one of the maidens. If I recollect right, there is a good description of this game, with many of its agreeable et ceteras, as it is played in decent circles in France, in the Hermit de la Chausse d’Antin.

Since the text was written, I have seen the list of births in these provinces for 1817, in which the proportion of natural to legitimate children is as 1 to 15, and in the whole kingdom of Hannover as 1 to 14.

Constitutions des trois villes libres Anséatiques, par Charles de Villers, p. 89.

Erd Beschreibung des Konigieichs. Hannover, p. 242.

Hermann and Dorothea. “Happy is he to whom nature has given a pleasing countenance, for she always recommends him, and he is a stranger nowhere.”

This sessions was a meeting of the magistrates of several districts, and seems to resemble, in many little points, the quarter sessions of England.

Handbuch der Väterlandischen Geschichte, von Dr Karl Venturini, Vol. III. pages 89, 93.

The greater part of these particulars are taken from Wiarda’s History of Friezland. It is untranslated, and fills nine octavo volumes.

The following is the passage which describes the occupation alluded to:

  • “Destami al suon degli amorosi balli
  • Pettinando al suo vecchio i bianchi pelli.”

Sonne Erdbeschreibung des Konigeischs, Hannover, p. 128.

Venturini, book ii. 4th chapter.

Spittler Geschichte des Fürstenthums, Hannover, Vol. II. p. 321. The custom of dividing sovereignties, as if they were property, was very general in Germany, particularly amongst the princes whose territories were not large. The various branches of the Saxon family, as Saxe-Coburg, Saxe-Weimar, Saxe-Gotha, Saxe-Meiningen, are all derived from one stock. It was only in the beginning of the eighteenth century that the right of primogeniture was fully established amongst these princes.

Smollet’s History of England, Reign of King William.

Pütter’s Historische Entwickelung, Vol. II. p. 332.

Patje, who published an account of the manufactories and commerce of Hannover in 1796, does not include Osnabrück; I therefore conclude the text is correct. Hassel, however, makes the increase of territory 2104 square miles, and of inhabitants, 317,762.

Gesetz Sammlung, 3d Abtheilung, No. 72, § 30.

In Dr Bright’s Travels in Lower Hungary, pp. 90–93, the spoliation of Nuremberg by the Bavarians is described, which shews, much more vividly than I have attempted, the manner in which the sovereigns of Germany are disposed to treat the once free, polished, and powerful cities of their country.

Göttingsche gelchrte Anzeigen.

Most of the foregoing information relative to the states is taken from a work entitled, Das Königreich, Hannover, published at Nordhausen in 1818 by Heinrick Luden; Professor of History at the university of Jena. As I may hereafter quote this work, I shall then do it under the title of Luden.

Geschichte des Fürstenthums, Hannover, Vol. I. p. 89–92.

Handbuch der vaterländischen Geschichte, Vol. IV. p. 409.

Luden, p. 63.—All the historical writers accuse the English commissariat of having refused to pay, at the end of the seven years’ war, for many things which had been delivered for the use of the army, and even to pay some part of the money due to the troops of Hannover. It would be a pleasure to see this charge on our national honour disproved.

Venturini, Vol. IV. p. 144, &c.

Since the text was written, I have had an opportunity of reading a very able article in the Edinburgh Review for February 1818, on the states of Wirtemberg. As the constitution of that country is there described, it resembled in most points that of the different provinces of Hannover. The writer of that article is, however, mistaken in limiting this sort of constitution to Wirtemberg and Friezland. Every country of Germany had one somewhat similar.

Geschichte des Fürstenthums, Hannover, Vol. I. p. 1.

The states of Wirtemberg kept the taxes levied by their authority. They amounted, before 1805, to 1,060,000 florins. The revenues of the church were 1,000,000 florins, but the revenues of the then duke was 2,117,000 florins. The independent revenue, therefore, of the duke, exceeded the produce of the taxes and the revenue of the church. The Protestant church was richer in Wirtemberg than in any other part of Germany.

Luden, Appendix, pp. 28–32.

Luden says, p. 160, that the ordinance relative to the landwehr made no mention of the states. That copy which I have seen said the ordinance was made after consulting with them.

Luden, 356.

See speech as reported, on March 2, 1819.

It has been recently stated in the public journals, that this number is reduced to 20,000, but the proportions were not stated.

Various sources have been consulted on the subject of the revenues and debts. The principal printed authority is Neueste Länder und Völkerkunde, 19th Band, Weimar, 1818. Lüden, and Ueber die gleiche Besteuerung, etc. von Georg. Sartorius, professor at Göttingen.

It has been stated since I left Hannover, that the expences of the government of Hannover had exceeded the revenue for 1818.