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Title: Pictures of German Life in the XVIIIth and XIXth Centuries, Vol. I.
Author: Freytag, Gustav, 1816-1895
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                        PICTURES OF GERMAN LIFE

                                 IN THE


                             SECOND SERIES.

                           *   *   *   *   *

                                VOL. I.



                              GERMAN LIFE

                  In the XVIIIth and XIXth Centuries.

                             Second Series.

                            GUSTAV FREYTAG.

                    Translated from the Original by
                             MRS. MALCOLM.


                                VOL. I.

                   CHAPMAN AND HALL, 193 PICCADILLY.




Introduction.--The nation and the individual--Aim of the
book--Peculiarities in the development of the German people since
the Thirty Years' War

                               CHAPTER I.

Life of the German Peasant (1240-1790).--The duration of modern
nations--German agriculture in the time of the Romans, the
Carlovingians, and the Hohenstauffen--Description of the peasants by
Neidhart von Reuenthal--Narrative of young Helmbrecht, by Wernher
the Gardener--The fifteenth century--The Peasant War--Eberlin von
Günzburg--Condition of the peasants after the war; their service and
burdens; their different condition according to districts, and
deterioration by oppression--First signs of improvement--Description of
the German peasant by Christian Garve--Insurrection of the peasantry in
1790, and their present position

                              CHAPTER II.

The Life of the Lower Nobility (1500-1800).--The country nobles
in the sixteenth century--The court nobles--The detrimental effects
of the Great War--Description of a wealthy nobleman from
1650-1700--Patents of nobility--Description of the life of the
newly-ennobled merchants from 1650-1700--The country nobles and
Krippenreiters from 1660-1700--Description of the same from "The
Nobleman," by Paul Winckler--Better condition after 1700--Privileges of
the nobles--Introduction of a new culture--Gellert--Union of the nobles
with the citizens

                              CHAPTER III.

The German Citizen and his Shooting Festivals (1300-1800).-Gradual
development of the citizen class--Decline after the Thirty Years'
War--The prize shooting as an example of their former wealth and
importance--May feasts of the old citizens--Prize shooting before
1400--Preparations for the festival--The Pritschmeister and
procession--Prizes and fortune's urn--Hospitality, and conclusion of
the festival--Zurich and Strasbourg--Differences of the festivals
according to districts--Their decline--Description of the Breslau
"Königschiessens" of 1738, by Kundmann

                              CHAPTER IV.

The State Policy and the Individual (1600-1700).--The dissolution of
the German Empire--The Prince's parties--The despotic official
administration--The statesmen after the war--The insecurity of the
subject; its influence on the character--Characteristics of the State
system in a flying sheet of 1678--Tendencies up to 1740

                               CHAPTER V.

The "Stillen im Lande," or Pietists (1600-1700).--Tendencies
of Protestantism till 1618--Consequences of the war--The older
Pietism--Spener--Hatred of worldly pleasures--The
women--Self-contemplation and social intercourse--Good effects on
morals--The revival--Characters of Petersen and his wife--Narrative
of Johanna Eleonora Petersen--Narrative of Dr. Johann Wilhelm
Petersen--Fate of this couple, and their revelations--The later Pietism
and its aberrations--Opposition--Lamentations of the student, Ernst
Johann Semler--Progress of the people through Pietism

                              CHAPTER VI.

The Dawning of Light (1750).--Changes in the human mind from
the invention of printing--Mathematical discipline and natural
science--Law--Philosophy and its position with respect to theology--The
leaders--Change of literature by Wolf and his disciples--Description
of a German city about 1760, its police and artisans--The
gentry--Merchants and their commerce--Ecclesiastics, teachers, and
schools--Post and travelling--Dress and manners--Sentimentality, tears,
and self-contemplation--Marriage a business matter--Women and house
duties--Narrative of Johann Salomo Semler--Letter from a bride to her
bridegroom in the year 1750

                        PICTURES OF GERMAN LIFE.

                             Second Series.


The Man and the Nation! The course of life of a nation consists in the
ceaseless working of the individual on the collective people, and the
people on the individual. The greater the vigour, diversity, and
originality with which individuals develop their human power, the more
capable they are of conducing to the benefit of the whole body; and the
more powerful the influence which the life of the nation exercises on
the individual, the more secure is the basis for the free development
of the man. The productive power of man expresses itself in endless
directions, but the perfection of all powers is the political
development of the individual, and of the nation through the State. The
mind, the spirit, and the character are influenced and directed by the
political life of the State, and the share which the individual has in
the State is to him the highest source of honour and manly happiness.

If in the time of our fathers and grandfathers the German contemplated
his own position among other men, he might well question whether his
life was poor or rich, whether hope or sorrow predominated; for his
earthly position was in every way peculiar. Whilst he felt with
pleasure that he was in the enjoyment of a free and refined
cultivation, he was daily oppressed by the harsh despotism, or the weak
insignificance of his State, in which he lived as a stranger without
the protection of the law; he looked with pride on the gigantic
workings of German science, but he perceived, with bitter sorrow, that
millions of his countrymen were separated by a deep chasm from the
highest results of scientific labour. He found himself amidst the
working of a popular energy, which ventured with heroic courage on the
boldest conclusions in the realm of mind; and, on the other hand, saw
around him narrow-hearted obstinacy, where simple and close results
ought to have been the aim. He felt with thousands an eager desire for
an object of life which would exalt and animate him, and again he found
himself surrounded and shackled by narrow-mindedness and by provincial
and local exclusiveness. Whoever should thus feel, may well inquire
whether we Germans are old or young, whether it is destined by fate
that the German nature should only find expression in the individual
virtuosoship of art and science, or whether an harmonious development
of the nation in its practical and ideal tendencies, in labour and
enjoyment. State, church, science, art, and industry, lies before us in
the future: whether we shall ever again, as members of a great State,
play the part of masters in Europe, which old records inform us our
ancestors, in remote ages, won by their swords and the energy of their
natures. There is still a time in our memory when hope was so faint,
that one may be excused for giving a doubtful answer to such questions.

After the War of Freedom, the decay of the old method of culture became
the characteristic of the time; but we now approach, with youthful
vigour, new ideas and an energetic will, to a new and higher climax. In
the characters of that past time we find, only too frequently,
isolation, hopelessness, and deficiency in political morality; in the
new time we have a sharper vision, a higher interest for the nation as
a whole, and a power of viewing things in a practical light which makes
us feel the need of close union between all of like mind. The realism,
which is called, either in praise or blame, the stamp of the present
time, is in art, science, and faith, as in the State, nothing but the
first step in the cultivation of the rising generation, which
endeavours to spiritualise the details of present life in all
directions, in order to give a new tendency to the spirit.

But, though it may be no longer necessary to cheer the soul with hope,
yet it is a pleasing task to demonstrate the point to which we have
attained in comparison with the past, and in comparison with other
civilised nations; why we were obliged to remain behind in many things
which our neighbours possess in abundance, and why we have made other
acquisitions in advance of them. It is instructive for us to make such
inquiries, and the answer that we shall find may be instructive to
other nations. No individual can give a satisfactory solution to each
single question; even the strongest mind can but imperfectly comprehend
the great life of his nation: the clearest eye and the most ingenuous
judgment is contracted in comparison with the great unity of the
people. But, however imperfect may be the portrait given by individuals
of the life of their nation, yet each contemporary will discover some
main features of the picture lying in his own soul, more especially he
who stands in the same grade of cultivation with the delineator.

This kind of delineation of the period of the Reformation and the
Thirty Years' War, was the object of the former series of pictures of
the past life of Germany; the following will be a sketch of some of the
phases of development of German character during the last century up to
the present day. Again shall the narratives of those who are gone, as
well as the living, portray the times in which they figure; but the
nearer we approach the present, the less do the records of individuals
give an impression of the nature of the general community. First,
because from the greater proximity we are able more accurately to
distinguish the individual from the community, and also, because the
diversity of character and the difference of culture become ever
greater the further the German mind advances in profound investigation;
therefore these examples will probably lose for the reader some of the
charm afforded by those of former centuries. And in addition to this,
the records of these latter times are far more known and realised by
our popular writers. Lastly, the political history, as well as the
development of the German mind, since the time of Frederick the Great,
has, through copious works, become the property of the nation. It is
not therefore intended here to enter upon a representation of the
scientific mind, or of the political condition of the nation; but only
to represent those phases of the spirit and social circumstances, which
more especially define the character of a people. By these the
continuity and many peculiarities of our present cultivation will be

The new time began in Germany, after the invention of printing, by a
struggle in which Germans broke the fetters of the Papal Church of the
Middle Ages, and passed from submissive belief in authority, to an
energetic, independent search after truth. But they did not at the same
time succeed in building up a compact monarchy out of the unsymmetrical
feudalism of the Middle Ages. The Imperial House of Hapsburg became the
zealous opponent of the national development. Owing to this opposition
arose the power of separate territorial princes, and the political
weakness of Germany became the more perceptible, the more the rising
vigour of the nation demanded an answering development of political
energy. From this the German character suffered much. Ecclesiastical
disputes were for a long period the only national interest; there was
but too great a deficiency in Germans of that pride and pleasure in a
fatherland, and of that whole circle of moral feelings, to which
political independence gives life, even in the most obscure individual.

After the Reformation it became the fate of the German nation to
develope its character under conditions which were materially different
from those of the other civilised people of Europe. In France, the
Protestant party was struck down with bloody zeal by the crown under
the despotic government of Louis XIV.; and the Revolution was the
growth of this victory. In England, the Protestant party gained the
dominion under the Tudors; the struggle against the Stuarts and the
completion of the English constitution was the result. In Germany, the
opposition of parties was not followed either by victory or
conciliation; the result was the Thirty Years' War, and the political
paralysis of Germany, from which it is only now beginning to recover.

This Thirty Years' War, the worst desolation of a populous nation since
the national exodus, is the second period of German history which gave
a peculiar tendency to the character of the people. The war shattered
into ruins the popular strength, but it also certainly removed the
dangers which threatened German cultivation, by the alliance of the
Imperial House with the Roman Hierarchy. It also separated the Imperial
State, politically, from the rest of Germany; what was lost to France
in the west by the Hapsburgers, was gradually regained to Germany in
the east by another Royal House. The great destruction caused by the
war, changed the State life of Germany to a hollow form; it threw the
Germans almost two centuries back, in comparison with their English
kinsmen, in wealth, population, and political condition. It must again
be repeated that it destroyed at least two thirds, probably three
fourths of the population, and a still greater portion of their goods
and cattle, and deteriorated the morals, arts, education, and energies
of the survivors. Out of these remains of German life, the modern
character of Germans was slowly and feebly developed--individual life
under despotic government.

It is this period, in which our popular strength was slowly raised from
the deepest degradation, which will be here portrayed by the narratives
of contemporaries. Again a great time, but a period of German
development of which the last and highest results have not yet become

The way in which the people raised themselves from this abyss is
peculiar to the Germans. Marvellous as was the destruction, so also was
the revival. More than one nation has been overpowered by outward
enemies or cast down under political oppression, each of which has had
to undergo special trials which have given them from time to time a
hopeless aspect, but through the whole course of history a renovation
has been effected, so that the strengthening of the State has gone
hand-in-hand with intellectual progress. When the Greeks during the
Persian war felt their own political worth, their science and art
blossomed almost simultaneously; when Augustus had given a new support
and constitution to the declining Roman republic, there began forthwith
a new Imperial culture in enjoyment-seeking Rome: the intellectual
life, from Horace and Virgil to Tacitus, followed the destiny of the
State; the increased expansive power of the Empire ever gave a wider
stretch and stronger independence to individual minds. And again in
England,--when the war of the Red and White Roses was ended, when the
people peacefully danced round the maypole, and a brilliant court life
enforced courtly manners upon the wild Barons, when daring merchants
and adventurers waylaid the Spanish galleons, and conveyed the spices
of India up the Thames,--then the popular energies found expression in
the greatest poetic soul of modern nations. Even in France the splendid
despotism of Louis XIV., after the wars of the Huguenots and the
Fronde, gave suddenly to the tranquillised country a brilliant courtly
bloom of art and literature. It was quite otherwise in Germany. Whilst
everywhere else the State might be compared to the body whose abundant
energy calls forth the creative development of the nation, in Germany,
since the Thirty Years' War, owing to the awakening popular energy, a
new national civilisation has gradually arisen in a shattered, decaying
government, under corrupting and humiliating political influences of
every kind,--first dependent upon strangers; then independent and free;
finally, a shining pattern for other people, producing blossoms of
poetry, and blossoms of science of the greatest beauty, of the highest
nobility, and the greatest inward freedom: it was developed by
individuals who were deficient in just that discipline of the mind and
character, which is only given to them when they are members of a great
State. The German culture of the eighteenth century was indeed the
wonderful creation of a soul with out a body.

It is still more remarkable that this new national cultivation helped,
in an indirect way, to turn the Germans into political men. From it the
enthusiasm and struggle for an endangered German State, passions,
parties, and at last political institutions were developed. Never did
literature play such a part or solve such great problems, as the
German, from 1750 to the present day. For it is thoroughly unlike the
modern endeavours of other nations, who from patriotism, that is to
say, from the need of political progress, mature an objective
literature. In these cases art and poetry serve, from the beginning, as
handmaids to politics; they are perhaps artificially fostered, and the
artistic and scientific worth is probably less than the patriotic aim.
In Germany, science, literature, and art only existed for their own
sake: the highest creative power and the warmest interests of the
educated classes were engrossed with them alone; they were always
German and patriotic, in opposition to the overpowering French taste;
but, with the exception of a few outbreaks of political anger or
popular enthusiasm, they had no other aim than to serve truth and
beauty. Nay, the greatest poets and scholars considered the political
condition under which they lived, as a common reality out of which art
alone could elevate mankind.

As therefore in Germany art and science desired nothing but honourable
exertion within their own sphere, their pure flames refined the
sensitive disposition of Germans till it was hardened for a great
political struggle.

Before giving pictures of the German character during the last two
centuries, we will endeavour to portray the peculiarities which are
developed in the family relations of the different classes of ancient
Germany, both the peasantry, the nobility, and the citizens. But the
aim of the book is to show how, by means of the Hohenzollern State,
Germans changed gradually from private to public men; how dramatic
power and interest entered into lyrical individual life; how the
Burgher class was strengthened by increasing education, and the
nobility and peasantry submitted to its influence; finally, how it cast
aside the specialities of classes, and began to form characters
according to its own needs and points of view.

                               CHAPTER I.

                    THE LIFE OF THE GERMAN PEASANT.

In seven hundred years the independent life of the Greeks terminated;
about a thousand embraces the growth, dominion, and decline of the
Roman power; but the German Empire had lasted fifteen hundred years
from the fight in the Teutoburg Forest,[1] before it began to emerge
from its epic time. So entirely different was the duration of the life
of the ancient world to that of the modern; so slow and artificial are
our transformations. How rich were the blossoms which Greek life had
matured in the five centuries from Homer to Aristotle! How powerful
were the changes which the Roman State had undergone, from the rise of
the free peasantry on the hills of the Tiber to the subjection of the
Italian husbandmen under German landlords! But the Germans worked for
fifteen centuries with an intellectual inheritance from the Romans and
the East, and are now only in the beginning of a development which we
consider as peculiar to the German mind, in contradistinction to the
Roman, of the new time, to the ancient. It is indeed no longer an
isolated people which has to emerge from barbarism by its own
creations; it is a family of nations more painstaking and more
enduring, which has risen, at long and laborious intervals, from the
ruins of the Roman Empire, and from the intellectual treasures of
antiquity: one nation reciprocally acting on the other, under the law
of the same faith.

The Romans from free peasants had become farmers, and they were ruined
because they could not overcome the social evil of slavery. The German
warriors also, in the time of Tacitus, took little pleasure in
cultivating their own fields, and were glad to make use of dependents.
It was only shortly before the year 1500, that the German cities
arrived at the conviction that the labour of freemen is the foundation
of prosperity, opulence, and civilisation. But in the country, even
after the Thirty Years' War, the mass of the labourers--more than half
of the whole German nation--were in a state of servitude, which in many
provinces differed little from slavery. It is only in the time of our
fathers that the peasant has become an independent man, a free citizen
of the State: so slowly has the groundwork of German civilisation and
of the modern State been developed.

All earthly progress does not take the straight course which men expect
when improvement begins; thus the position of the German husbandman in
1700 was worse in many respects than a hundred years before; nay, even
in our time it is not comparatively so good as it was 600 years
earlier, in the time of the Hohenstaufen.

The German peasant for centuries lost much that was valuable in order
to attain a higher condition; his freedom and elevation to citizenship
in our State was effected in an apparently indirect way. At the time of
the Carlovingians more than half the peasants were free and armed, and
the pith of the popular strength; at the time of Frederick the Great,
almost all the country people were under strict bondage,--the beasts of
burden of the new State, weak and languishing, without political object
or interest in the State. Somewhat of the old weakness still clings to

We shall therefore first take a short review of an earlier period,
comparing it with the peasant life of the last two centuries.

What the Romans mention of the condition of the German agricultural
districts, is only sufficient to give us a glimpse of ancient peasant
life. According to their accounts, the Germans were long considered to
be a wild warrior race, who lived in transition from a wandering life
to an uncertain settlement, and it was seldom inquired how it was
possible that such hordes should for centuries carry on a victorious
resistance to the disciplined armies of the greatest power on earth.
When Cheruskers, Chattens, Bructerers, Batavers, and other people of
less geographical note, occasioned terror, not only to single legions,
but to large Roman armies, not once, but in continual wars for more
than one generation,--when a Markomannen chief disciplined 70,000
infantry and 4000 cavalry after the fashion of legions; when a Roman,
after a century of devastating wars between the Rhine and the Elbe,
puts before us with great emphasis the powerful masses of the
Germans,--we may conclude that single tribes which, with their allies,
could sometimes bring into the field more than 100,000 warriors, must
have counted a population of hundreds of thousands. And we equally
approach to a second conclusion, that such a multitude in a narrowly
limited space, surrounded by warlike neighbours, could only exist by
means of a simple, perhaps, but regular and extensive cultivation of
field products. That the agriculture of the Germans should appear
meagre to the Romans, after the garden cultivation of Italy and Gaul,
is comprehensible; nevertheless they found corn, millet, wheat, and
barley; but the common corn of the country was oats, the meal of which
they despised, and rye, which Pliny calls an unpalatable growth of the
Alpine country, productive of colic. But in the year 301, the corn
which made the German black bread, was introduced as the third article
of commerce in the corn bourse of Greece and Asia Minor. And from
barley the German brewed his home drink, beer; he also brewed from

Now we know that in the time of the Romans, most of the German races
lived in a condition similar to that in which it appears from records
they lived shortly after their great exodus, in the early centuries of
the Christian era: sometimes on single farms, but generally in enclosed
villages, with boundaries marked out by posts. They had a peculiar
method of laying out new village districts, and the Romans found it
difficult to understand the mode of farming customary to the country.
Probably the dwellers in the marshes near the North Sea had, as Pliny
writes, made the first simple dykes against the encroachments of the
water; already were their dwellings built on small hillocks, which, in
high tides, raised them above the water, and their sheep pastured in
the summer on the grass of the new alluvial soil;[2] but further from
the coast the peasant dwelt in his blockhouse, or within mud walls,
which he then loved to whitewash. Herds of swine lay in the shadows of
the woods,[3] horses and cattle grazed on the village meadows, and
long-woolled sheep on the dry declivities of the hills. Large flocks of
geese furnished down for soft pillows; the women wove linen on a simple
loom, and dyed it with native plants, the madder and the blue woad; and
made coats and mantles of skins, which had already borders of finer fur
introduced from foreign parts. Well-trod commercial roads crossed the
territory from the Rhine to the Vistula in every direction. The foreign
trader, who brought articles of luxury and the gold coins of Rome in
his wagon to the house of the countryman, exchanged them with him for
the highly-prized feathers of the goose, smoked hams, and sausages, the
horns of the ure ox and antlers of the stag, fur skins, and even
articles of toilet, such as the blonde hair of slaves, and a fine
pomade to colour the hair. He bought German carrots, which had been
ordered as a delicacy by his Emperor Tiberius; he beheld with
astonishment in the garden of his German host, gigantic radishes, and
related to his country-people that a German had shown him honeycombs
eight feet long.

The warlike householder, it is true, held his weapons in higher esteem
than his plough, not because agriculture was unimportant or despised,
but because in the free classes there was already an aristocratic
development. For, although the warrior did not employ himself in any
field labour, he insisted upon his household cultivating his ground,
and his bondmen had to pay a tribute in corn and cattle. The bondman
dwelt with his wife and child near his master in special huts, which
were erected on the land that was allotted to him for cultivation.
Freemen were not only associated in communities, but several races were
joined in one confederacy, being by the old constitution knit together
by religious memories and public worship. The boundaries of the
province were marked out, like those of the village, by casts of the
holy hammer, and consecrated by processions of divine cars.
Notwithstanding the numerous feuds of individual tribes, there
were many points of union which served to reconcile and keep them
together,--blood relationship and marriage alliances, similitude in
customs and privileges, and, above all, the feeling of the same origin,
the same language, and those pious rites which keep alive the memory of
ancient communion.

Although the German of Tacitus appears to us as a fierce warrior, who,
clothed in skins, watched with spear and wooden shield over the abatis
which guarded his village against the assaults of enemies; yet this
same German is shown, by the results of new researches, to have been a
householder and landlord. He looked with satisfaction on the great
brewer's copper which had been wrought by his neighbour, the skilful
smith; or he stood in coloured linen smock-frock before the laden
harvest wagon, on which his boy was throwing the last sheaf of rye, and
his daughter placing the harvest wreath with pious ejaculations.

The German is incomprehensible to us, when, according to the Roman, he
worshipped Mercury as the highest god; but we can realise the figure of
the Asengott Woden, when we see the connection, of the wild hunter of
our traditions and the sleeping Emperor of Kyffhäuser, with German
antiquity. Now, we know how lovingly and actively the gods and spirits
hovered round the hearths, farms, fields, rivers, and woods of our
forefathers. From this tendency also the old Chatte or Hermundure has
been transformed into a Hessian or Thuringian householder, who in the
twilight looks wistfully up to his rooftree, on which the little
household spirit loves to sit, and who, when the storm rages, carefully
covers the window-openings, in order that a spectral horse's head from
the train of the wild god who rides on the blast may not look into his

Even from the productions of the Germans in that century that were most
full of heart and soul, their songs, which no careful hand transcribed
on parchment, we may draw some conclusions. Their  oldest kind of
poetry is not entirely unknown to us,--the native epic verse, with its
alliterations--and in some of the popular songs and proverbs which have
been preserved, we still find the ancient love of contests of wit and
of enigmas, with which a troubadour delighted his hearers by the hearth
of the Saxon chief.

After the great national exodus, written records begin slowly to appear
in Germany. They came, together with that irresistible power which
changed so much of the whole spirit of the German people,--with
Christianity. However energetically religion turned the mind into new
paths, and however fearful was the destruction occasioned by popular
tumults at that period of immigration, the changes in the Germans
arising from both sources were not sufficient to shatter everything
ancient into ruins. We are too apt to consider the national exodus as a
chaotic process of destruction. It is true that it drove from their
homes many of the most powerful German nationalities that were located
in and beyond East Germany, and the depopulated domiciles were filled
with the Sclavonians who followed. The Bavarians migrated from Bohemia
to the Danube; the Suevi, Allemanni, and Burgundians, southwards to
their present localities. The names of old nationalities have
disappeared, and new ones have spread themselves far across the Rhine.
But nearly half the Germany which was known to the Romans--the wide
territory from the North Sea to the Thuringian woods and the Rhone,
from the Saal to near the Rhine--retains, on the whole, its old
inhabitants; for the Thuringians, the Chattens, and indeed most of the
races of Lower Saxony, only came in partial swarms; they probably
greatly diminished in marching through foreign lands, and by
emigrations of their kinsmen; they were also, as for example the
Thuringians, frequently intermingled with foreign hordes, who settled
among them. But the nucleus of the old inhabitants remained through all
fluctuations, and maintained their own old home traditions,
peculiarities of speech, customs, and laws.

About the year 600 the oldest law books and records in the new
Franconia, afford us the richest insight into the life of the German
countryman. Each had a right to a holding, generally of 30 morgans, on
the common land, the morgan being decided according to the nature of
the soil. On each holding there was a yard fenced round, closed by a
gate, within which was the dwelling-house with stables and barn, and by
the side of it a garden; and in the southwest of Germany frequently a
vineyard. These homesteads formed villages divided by lanes; it was
only in part of Lower Saxony that the inhabitants of the marsh and
hilly country lived in separate farms, in the midst of their holdings.
But amongst most Germans the holding is not a connected tract of land.
The collective arable land of the village was divided into three
portions--winter, summer, and fallow fields; each of these fields,
according to soil and situation, again into small parcels; and in each
of these parcels in every field each holder had his share. Thus the
arable land of every holding consisted of a number of square acres
which, lying dispersed through the three principal divisions of the
village district, gave, as far as possible, an equal measure of land in
each. Besides this, a share of the pastures, meadows, and wood of the
community belonged to the holding; for round the arable land lay the
meadow land of the community, and its woods, in which were the
treasured acorns. Already the boundaries were carefully marked, and on
the boundary hills boys received blows on their cheeks and had their
ears pulled, and already was it called an old custom to set up a small
bundle of straw as a warning on a forbidden footway. Already we find
the property not unfrequently divided, where the vassals dwell in the
house and farm, the grades of their vassalage and their burdens being
various. The households of freemen also contained bondservants, who
differed little from Roman slaves; only in the service of God could
they be equal with the free; they shared in all the holy usages of the
Church; they could become priests and perform marriages with the
permission of their masters, but the master had a right over their

Among the farms of freemen and vassals might be found the farm of a
larger landed proprietor, who had a manor house with a hall, and a
great number of huts for domestics and labourers. For as yet, artisans,
wheelwrights, potters, armourers, and goldsmiths were most of them
bondmen; as the number of markets and cities were small, their
influence in the country was still unimportant. All kinds of grain were
cultivated in the fields, which are now used in our succession of
crops, and in the gardens, almost all the vegetables of our markets,
also gherkins, pumpkins, and melons; the laws were vigilant for the
protection of the orchards. The clergy brought from Italy costly
grafts, and peaches and apricots were to be found in the gardens of the
wealthy. Already the old Bavarian house began to appear, formed of
beams, with galleries outside, and its flat projecting roof; and it may
be assumed also, that the old Saxon house with its heathen horses'
heads on the gable ends, its thatched roof over the porch, its hearth,
sleeping cells, and cattle stalls, spread widely over the country, and
that the Thuringians, even then, as in a century later, lived in the
unfloored hall, in the background of which a raised daïs--the most
distinguished part of the house--separated from the hall the women's
apartments and the sleeping-rooms. Dwellings were seldom without a
bathhouse; for their winter work the women descended into their
underground chamber, which had already astonished the Romans, where
stood the loom; the places for the mistresses and servants were
separated. In the court-yard fluttered numerous poultry, amongst them
swans and even cranes, which, up to the Thirty Years' War, were
treasured as masters of the German poultry yard. The greatest pleasure
of the countryman was the training of his horse, and the steeds which
were used in war were of great value. They pastured with their feet
hobbled; any one was severely punished who stole them from their
pasture; the impositions of horse dealers also were well known, and the
laws endeavoured to afford protection against them. All the South
Germans fastened bells round the necks of their cattle, and the
Franconians round the swine in the woods.

Every means of ascertaining the relative number of bond and freemen in
the time of Charles V. is deficient, even in that part of the country
which had for a long time been won over to Christianity; yet we see
distinctly that the whole strength of the nation lay in the masses of
free yeomen. But even in his time, larger landed proprietors,
tyrannical officials, and the not less domineering Church, eagerly
endeavoured to diminish the number of the free by obtruding upon them
their protection, and thus placing them under a gentle servitude. The
position of the free peasant must have been frequently insupportable;
the burdens laid upon him by the monarchy were very great, such as the
tithes, the military service, and the supply of horses and vehicles for
the journeys of the king and his officials. There was no law to protect
him against the powerful, and he was especially tormented by robber
hordes and the violence of his neighbours. Therefore he found safety by
giving up his freedom, surrendering his house and farm into the hands
of a powerful noble, and receiving it back again from him. Then he
delivered to his new master as a symbol of his service, a fowl from his
farm yard, and a portion of the produce of his field or of his labour
as a yearly tax. In return for this, his new master undertook to defend
him, and to perform his military service for him by means of his own

Thus began the diminution of the national strength of Germany, the
oppression of the peasants, the deterioration of the infantry, and the
origin of the feudal lords, and of their vassal-followers, from which
arose in the next century the higher and lower German nobility. Every
internal war, every invasion of foreign enemies,--of Normans, of
Hungarians, or of Sclaves,--drove numerous freemen into servitude, and
without ceasing did the Church work to recommend itself or its saints
as feudal lords to repentant sinners.[4]

Yet about the year 1000, under the great Saxon emperors, the free
peasant had still some consciousness of strength. The bondman, indeed,
was still under severe oppression; he was slightly esteemed, and
obliged to give outward proof of the difference between himself and the
freeman, by bad dress and short hair. The free peasant then wore the
long linen or cloth dress of a similar cut to the Emperor himself; with
his sword by his side he went to the assembly under the tree, or to the
judgment stone of his village. And if he descended from four free
ancestors, and possessed three free hides, he was, according to Saxon
law, higher in rank than some of the noble courtiers who had serf blood
in their veins, and whoever injured him had to make atonement as to one
of princely blood. It was then he began to cultivate his fields more
carefully; it appears to have been about this time that the practice
arose of ploughing a second time before sowing the summer seed. In the
neighbourhood of rich cloisters, fine garden-culture progressed,
vineyards were carefully cultivated, and in the low countries of the
Rhine, in Holland and Flanders, there was a husbandry of moor and marsh
grounds, which in the next century was carried by numerous colonists of
these races, into the Elbe country, and far into the east.

The peasant in the time of Otto the Great, had become a good Christian,
but the old customs of the heathen faith still surrounded him in his
house and fields, his phantasy filled nature, beasts, and plants with
warm life. Whatever flew or bounded over his fields, whether hare,
wolf, fox, or raven, were to him familiar forms, to whose character and
fate he gave a human turn, and of whom with cheerful spirit he used to
sing in heroic terms, or tell beautiful tales. In his house were
numerous trained birds; and those were valued the highest which could
comport themselves most like men. The starling repeated in a comic way
the paternoster; the jackdaw welcomed him on his return home; and he
rejoiced in the dance of the trained bear. He loved his cattle with all
his heart, he honoured his horses, oxen, cows, and dogs with the names
of the ancient gods, to whom he still continued to attach ideas of
dignity and sanctity. This craving for familiar intercourse with all
that surrounded him was the peculiar characteristic of the German
peasant in the olden time. This great love of beasts, tame birds, dogs
and horses continued long, as late as Luther's time, a few years before
the great peasant war. A true-hearted peasant having in the fullness of
his joy kissed his decorated foal upon the neck, a lurking monk who
happened to see it, cited him before the ecclesiastical court, and
inflicted a heavy fine upon him, because it was unseemly. On this
account Karsthans clenched his fists at the priests.[5] In the eleventh
century, the countryman still sang by his hearth the stirring heroic
songs, the subject-matter of which is in part older than the great
exodus,--those of Siegfried and the Virgin of Battle Brunhild, of the
treachery of the Burgundian King, Gunthar; of the struggle of the
strong Walthar with Hagen, and of the downfall of the Nibelungen.
Though his language was clumsy in writing, it flowed from his lips
solemn and sonorous, with full terminations and rich in alternations of
the vowels. Still had the solemnly spoken word in prayer, in forms of
law, and in invocations, a mysterious power of magic effect: not only
is the meaning of the speech, but also its sound full of significance.
A wise saw was the source of great good fortune to him who possessed
it; it could be bought and sold, and the buyer could return it again if
it was useless to him.

About the beginning of the twelfth century there was a change in the
life and position of the peasant. The disquiets and passions of the
Crusades reached him also by degrees. To the serf, who lived in an
insecure possession of his hut, from which the landed proprietor could
eject him and his children, it was very attractive to obtain, by a sign
affixed to his shoulder by the hand of a priest, freedom for himself,
exemption from rent and other burdens, and the protection of the Church
for his family left at home. From this the Lord of the Manor was
himself in danger of losing his husbandmen, and becoming a beggar by
the departure of his serfs; in order therefore to avert this danger
bondmen had often the inheritance of their possessions given to them,
and greater personal freedom, thus the position of serfs became more
favourable. Besides this, the distinction between the old freemen and
bondmen, both in the agricultural districts and the cities, was
obliterated by the new societies of citizens and officials. In the
cities bond and free-men were under the same law; in the palaces of
princes, freemen claimed the same privileges which were originally for
the advantage of the vassal retinue of territorial lords, and both bond
and free-men bore, as serving men, the knightly shield.

We can obtain an insight into the spirit of the country-people of this
period, and many details of their life. Since the middle of the twelfth
century, the manuscripts of the Hohenstaufen time have handed down to
us many invaluable features of the life of the lower orders. We
discover, with astonishment, from these sources, that the countryman of
that time formed a portion of the national strength, very different
from what he did some centuries later. The thriving peasant lived on
his farm; the young people gambolled about, blythesome and fond of
enjoyment, on the village green and in the lanes; the countryman passed
through life in the calm consciousness of strength, the preserver of
old customs, in contradistinction to the nobleman, with his new-fangled
modes, who adorned himself with foreign discourse and language, and
with great pretentions set up distinguished court usages in opposition
to country manners. Great was the pleasure of the country people in the
awakening of nature: impatiently did the maidens await the breaking
forth of the first catkins on the willow and hazel; they look for the
leaves that burst from the buds, and search the ground for the first
flowers. The earliest summer game is with the ball, in the village
streets or on the tender grass of the green,--it is thrown by old and
young, men and women. Whoever has a coloured feather ball to throw
sends it with a greeting to her he loves. The agile movements, the
powerful throw, the short cheer to friends and opponents, are the
pleasures both of players and spectators. When sunny May comes, then
the maidens get their holiday attire from the press, and twine wreaths
for their own hair and that of their friends. Thus they go, crowned
with garlands and adorned with ribbons, the hand-glass as an ornament
by their sides, with their playfellows to the green; full a hundred
maidens and women are there assembled for the dance. Thither also
hasten the men, smart also is their dress, the waistcoat trimmed with
coloured buttons, perhaps even with bells, which for a long time had
been the most choice attire of persons of distinction; there is no want
of silk, nor in winter of fur trimmings. The belt is well inlaid with
shining metal, the coat of mail is quilted in the dress, and the point
of the sword, in walking, clinks against the heel. The proud youths are
defiant, take great pleasure in fight, and are jealous of their own
importance. Vehement is the energy displayed in the great dances, they
are venturesome in their springs, jubilant in their joy; everywhere
there is the poetry of enjoyment of the senses. The chorus of
bystanders sing loudly to the dance, and the maidens join softly in the
melody. Still greater becomes our astonishment when we examine closer
the rhythm and words of these old national dances, there is a grace not
only in the language but in its social relation, which reminds us much
more of the ancient world than of the feelings of our country people.
Introductory strophes, which extol in countless variations the advent
of spring, are followed by others which have little coherence, and are,
as it were, improvised, like the _schnader hüpflen_, which is still
retained in Upper Germany among the popular dances. The subject is
often a dispute between mother and daughter, the daughter dressing
herself for the festivity, the mother wishing to keep her back from the
dance; or it is the praise of a beautiful maiden, or droll enumerations
of dancing couples; often the text conveys attacks upon opposite
parties amongst the dancers, who are depicted and turned into ridicule.
Parties are easily formed amongst the dancers, the opponents are
challenged in caustic verses; the glory of the young lad is not to put
up with any slight, and to be the most vigorous dancer, cheeriest
singer, and the best fighter. The dances are followed by feasting, with
loud and boisterous merriment. The winter brings new pleasures; the men
amuse themselves with dice, and with sledging on the ice, and the
people assemble in a large room for the dance. Then stools and tables
are carried out; the music consists of two violins; the conductor
begins the melody, and the head dancer leads off. The rondes and other
dances are various in character; more antique and popular is the
measure and text of the chain dance in the old national style of two
parallel rows; the winter dances are more artistic and modish. For in
the song dances, which we may consider as the beautified copy of the
old rhythm and text, the courtly law of triplets in the strophes is
everywhere followed; one perceives in them the imitation of Romanesque
knightly customs. Among the different kinds of dances may be mentioned
the Sclave Reidawac. The noble dances and drinks with the peasants in
these village diversions, though with the pride of more refined
manners; but however much he may be inclined to ridicule those around
him, he fears them, not only their fists and weapons, but also the
strokes of their tongues. The long-haired and curly peasant offers the
goblet to the _Junker_, and snatches it back as he attempts to grasp
it, places it then according to court custom before drinking, on his
head, and dances through the room, then the knight rejoices if the
goblet falls from the lout's head and is spilt over him; but the knight
has no scruple in making use of contemptuous oaths, when the indignant
village youths call him to account for having shown too much attention
to their wives and sweethearts.

Such is the aspect of village life given us in the songs of Neidhart
von Reuenthal, the most witty and humorous songster of the thirteenth
century. All his poetry dwells on the joys and sufferings of the
peasantry, and the greater part of his life was spent amongst them. He
has the complete self-dependence of a refined and cultivated man, but
in spite of that, he had not always the advantage over the country
people. A peasant youth, Engelhard, occasioned him the greatest sorrow
of his life. It appears that he had made his love Friderun, a peasant
girl, unfaithful to him; the thorn remained in the heart of the knight
as long as he lived; but afterwards, also, in his courtship of the
village maidens, the nobleman had much to fear from the wooing of the
young peasants, and was frequently tormented by bitter jealousy.

This connection of the knight, Neidhart, and the peasantry was no
exception in the beginning of the thirteenth century; for though in the
period that immediately followed, the pride of the nobles, with respect
to the citizen and peasant, quickly hardened into an exclusive class
feeling, yet in 1300, when knightly dignity was in great request, and
pride in noble quarterings had risen high, at least in Swabia, Bavaria,
and Upper Austria, still the knight married the daughter of the rich
peasant, and gave him his daughter in marriage; and the rich peasant's
son became vassal and knight, with one knightly shield.[6] Even in the
sixteenth century this state of things continued in some provinces--for
example, in the Isle of Rügen. After the Reformation also, the wealthy
peasants put themselves on an equality with the nobles. They lived, as
a nobleman of that time relates, arrogantly and contentiously, and
these lamentable marriages were not unfrequent.

Some score of years after Neidhart, in the same districts of Germany,
the idealism of knighthood, its courtly manners and refined form, were
lost; a large portion of the nobles had become robbers and highwaymen.
The ceaseless and sorrowful complaints of the better sort of the
nobility testify how bad were the doings of the greater part. In
comparison with such fellows, in spite of their privileges, the peasant
might well regard his own life with pride. It was still with a sense of
wealth and power that he entered on the beginning of a hard period. At
this time a travelling singer, Wernher, the Gardener, gave a
portraiture of the life of the peasantry, particularly rich in
characteristic features--a picture of the times of the highest value,
and a poem of great beauty. Unfortunately only an abstract of the
contents can be given here; but even in extracts, his narrative gives a
surprising insight into the life of the country people in 1240. The
poem, "Helmbrecht," is edited by Moriz Haupt, according to the
manuscripts in volume iv. of the Zeit periodical on German antiquity.

"The old former, Helmbrecht--in Bavaria, not far from the Austrian
frontier--had a son. The blonde locks of the young Helmbrecht hung upon
his shoulder; he confined them in a beautiful silk cap, embroidered
with doves, parrots, and many figures. This cap had been embroidered by
a nun who had run away from her cell on account of an amour, as happens
to so many. From her, Helmbrecht's sister, Gotelind, learned to
embroider and sew; the maiden and her mother deserved well of the nun,
for they gave her a cow, much cheese, and eggs. The mother and sister
attired the boy in fine linen, a doublet of mail and a sword, with a
pouch and mantle, and a beautiful surcoat of blue cloth, adorned with
gold, silver, and crystal buttons, which shone bright when he went to
the dances; the seams were trimmed with bells, and whenever he bounded
about in the dance, they tinkled in the ears of the women.

"When the proud youth was thus attired he said to his father, 'Now I
will go to court; I pray you, dear father, give me somewhat to help
thereto.' The father answered, 'I could easily buy you a swift steed
that would leap hedge and ditch; but, dear son, desist from your
journey to court. Its usages are difficult for him who has not been
accustomed to it from his youth. Take the plough and cultivate the farm
with me, thus will you live and die in honour. See how I live--true,
honourable and upright. I give my tenths every year, and have never
experienced hatred or envy throughout my life. Farmer Ruprecht will
give you his daughter in marriage, and with her many sheep and pigs,
and ten cows. At court you will have a hard life, and be deprived of
all affection; there you will be the scorn of the real courtiers,--in
vain will you endeavour to be like them; and, on the other hand, you
will incur the hatred of the peasants, who will delight in revenging on
you what they have lost by the noble robbers.' But the son replied,
'Silence, dear father. Never shall your sacks graze my shoulders; never
will I load your waggon with dung; that would ill suit my beautiful
coat and embroidered cap; and I will not be encumbered with a wife.
Shall I drag on three years with a foal or an ox, when I may every day
have my booty? I will help myself to strangers' cattle and drag the
peasants by their hair through the hedges. Hasten, father, I will not
remain with you any longer.' Then the father bought a steed, and said,
'Alas, how this is thrown away!' But the youth shook his head, looked
at himself and exclaimed, 'I could bite through a stone so wild is my
courage; I could even eat iron. I will gallop over the fields, without
care for my life, in defiance of all the world.' On parting from him
his father said, 'I cannot keep you--I give you up; but once more I
warn you, beautiful youth, take care of your cap with the silken birds,
and guard your long locks. You go amongst those whom men curse, and who
live upon the wrongs of the people. I dreamt I saw you groping about on
a staff, with your eyes out; and again I dreamt I saw you standing on a
tree, your feet fall a fathom and a half from the grass. A raven and a
crow sat on a branch over your head, your curly hair was entangled; on
the right hand the raven combed it, and on the left the crow parted it.
I repent me that I have reared you.' But the son exclaimed, 'Never will
I give up my will as long as I live. God protect you, father, mother
and children.'

"So he trotted off and rode up to a castle, whose lord lived by
fighting, and was glad to retain any who would serve him as a trooper.
There the lad became one of the retainers, and soon was the most nimble
of robbers. No plunder was too small for him, and none too great; he
took horses and cattle, he took mantles and coats, what others left he
crammed into his sack. The first year everything went according to his
wishes; his little vessel sailed with favourable winds. Then he began
to think of home; he got leave of absence from the court, and rode to
his father's house. All flocked together--man and maid-servant did not
say, 'Welcome, Helmbrecht;' they were advised not to do so. But they
said, 'Young gentleman, God give you welcome!' He answered, '_Kindeken,
ik yunsch üch ein gud leven_'[7] (Children, I wish you a good life).
His sister ran and embraced him; then he spoke to her, '_Gratia
vestra!_' The old people followed, and oft embraced him; then he called
to his father, '_Dieu vous salut!_' and to his mother he spoke in
Bohemian, '_Dobraybra!_' The father and mother looked at one another,
and the latter said to her husband, 'Goodman, are we not out of our
senses? it is not our child; it is a Bohemian or a Wend.' The father
exclaimed, 'It is a foreigner; he is not my son whom I commended to
God, however like he may appear to him.' And his sister Gotelind said,
'He is not your son, he spoke Latin to me; he must truly be a priest.'
And the servant, 'From what I have seen of him he must belong to Saxony
or Brabant; he said _ik_ and _Kindeken_; he must, undoubtedly, be a

"Then the master of the house spoke in homely phrase, 'Are you my son
Helmbrecht? Show your respect for your mother and me by speaking a word
of German, and I myself will rub down your horse--I, and not my
servant.' '_Ei wat segget ihr Gebureken? min parit_,[8] _minen klaren
Lif soll kein bureumaun nimmer angripen_' (What are you boors saying?
my steed and my fine body shall be touched by no boors). Then the
master of the house, quite horrified, replied, 'Are you Helmbrecht, my
son? In that case I will this very night boil one hen and roast
another; but if you are a stranger--a Bohemian or a Wend--you may go to
the winds. If you are of Saxony or Brabant, you must take your repast
with you; from me you will receive nothing, though the night should
last a whole year. For a Junker, such as you, I have no meal or wine;
you must seek that from the nobles.'

"Now it had waxed late, and there was no host in the neighbourhood who
would have received the youth, so, having weighed the matter, he said,
'Truly I am your son, I am Helmbrecht; once I was your son and
servant.' The father answered 'You are not him.' 'But I am so.' 'Tell
me the four names of my oxen.' Then the son mentioned the four names,
'_Auer_, _Räme_, _Erke_, _Sonne_. I have often flourished my switch
over them; they are the best oxen in the world; will you recognise me
now? Let the door be opened to me.' The father cried out, 'Gate and
door, chamber and cupboard, shall all be opened to you now.'

"Thus the son was well received, and had a soft bed prepared for him by
his sister and mother, and the latter called out to her daughter, 'Run,
fetch a bolster and a soft cushion.' That was put under his arm and
laid near the warm stove, and he waited in comfort till the meal was
prepared. It was a supper for a lord; finely minced vegetables with
good meat, a fat goose as large as a bustard, roasted on the spit,
roasted and boiled fowls. And the father said, 'If I had wine it should
be drunk to-day; but drink, dear son, of the best spring that ever
flowed out of the earth.'

"The young Helmbrecht then unpacked his presents for his father, a
whetstone, a scythe, and an axe, the best peasant-treasures in the
world; for his mother, a fur cloak, which he had stolen from a priest;
to his sister, Gotelind, a silk sash and gold lace, which would have
better suited a lady of distinction,--he had taken it from a pedlar.
Then he said, 'I must sleep, I have ridden far, and rest is needful for
me to night.' He slept till late the next day in the bed over which his
sister Gotelind had spread a newly washed shirt, for a sheet was
unknown there.

"So the son abode with his father.

"After a time the father inquired of his son what were the court
customs where he had been living. 'I also,' he said, 'went once when I
was a boy, with cheese and eggs to court. The knights were then very
different from now, courteous, and with good manners; they occupied
themselves with knightly games, they danced and sang with the ladies;
when the musician came with his fiddle, the ladies stood up, the
knights advanced to them, took them elegantly by the hand, and danced
featly; when that was over, one of them read out of a book about one
_Ernst_;[9] all was carried on then with cheerful familiarity. Some
shot at a mark with bow and arrows, others went out hunting and deer
shooting; the worst of them would now be the best. For now those are
esteemed who are liars and eaves-droppers, and truth and honour are
changed for falsehood; the old tournaments are no longer the custom,
others are in vogue instead of them. Formerly one heard them call out
in the knightly games "Hurrah, knight, be joyful!" There now only
resounds through the air, "Hunt knight, hunt; stab, strike, and
mutilate this one, cut off this man's foot for me, and the hands of
that one, and hang the other for me, or catch this rich man who will
pay us a hundred pounds." I think, therefore, things were better
formerly than now. Relate to me, my son, more of the new manners.'

"'That I will. Drinking is now the court fashion. Gentlemen exclaim
"Drink, drink; if you drink this, I will drink that." They no longer
sit with the ladies, but at their wine. Believe me, the old mode of
life which is lived by such as you, is now abjured both by man and
woman. Excommunication and outlawry are now held in derision.'

"'Son,' said the father, 'have nothing to do with court usages, they
are bitter and sour. I had much rather be a peasant than a poor
courtling, who must always ride for his living, and take care that his
enemies do not catch, mutilate, and hang him.'

"'Father,' said the young man, 'I thank you, but it is more than a week
that I have drank no wine; since then I have taken in my girdle by
three holes. I must capture some cattle before my buckle will return to
its former place. A rich man has done me a great injury. I saw him once
riding over the standing crops of my godfather the knight; he shall pay
dear for it. I shall trot off his cattle, sheep, and swine, because he
has trampled over the fields of my dear godfather. I know another rich
man who has also grievously injured me; he eat bread with his tartlets;
by my life I will revenge that. I know yet another rich man who has
occasioned me more annoyance than almost any other; I will not forgive
it him, even if a bishop should intercede for him, for once when he was
sitting at table he most improperly dropped his girdle. If I can seize
what is called his, it shall help me to a Christmas dress. There is yet
another simple fool who was unseemly enough to blow the froth of his
beer into a goblet. If I do not revenge that, I will never gird sword
to my side, nor be worthy of a wife. You shall soon hear of

"The father answered 'Alack! Tell me who are the companions who taught
you to rob a rich man if he eats pastry and bread together.' Then the
son named his ten companions; 'Lämmerschling (lamb devourer),
Schluckdenwidder (ram swallower), Höllensack (hell sack), Ruttelshrein
(shake press), Kühfrass (cow destroyer), Knickekelch (goblet jerker),
Wolfsgaumen (wolf's jaw), Wolfsrüssel (wolf's snout), and Wolfsdarm
(wolf's gut)[10]--the last name was given by the noble Duchess of
Nonarra Narreia--these are my schoolmasters.'

"The father said, 'And how do they name you?'

"I am called Schlingdengau. I am not the delight of the peasants; their
children are obliged to eat porridge made with water; what the peasants
have is mine; I gouge the eyes of one, I hack the back of another, I
tie this one down on an ant-hill, and another I hang by his legs to a

"The father broke forth. 'Son, however violent those may be whom you
have named and extolled, yet I hope, if there is a righteous God, the
day will come when the hangman may seize them, and throw them off from
his ladder.'

"'Father, I have often defended your geese and fowls, your cattle and
fodder, from my associates, I will do it no more. You speak too much
against the honour of my excellent companions. I had wished to make
your daughter Gotelind the wife of my friend Lämmerschling; she would
have led a pleasant life with him; but that is over now, you have
spoken too coarsely against us.' He took his sister Gotelind aside, and
said to her secretly, 'When my companion, Lämmerschling, first asked me
about you, I said to him; you will get on well with her; if you take
her do not fear that you will hang long upon the tree, she will
take you down with her own hands and carry you to the grave on the
cross-road, and she will fumigate your bones with frankincense and
myrrh for a whole year. And if you have the good fortune to be only
blinded, she will lead you by the hand along the highways and roads
through all countries; if your foot is cut off, she will carry your
crutches every morning to your bed; and if you lose your hand, she will
cut your bread and meat as long as you live. Then said Lämmerschling to
me, "I have three sacks, heavy as lead, full of fine linen, dresses,
kirtles, and costly jewels, with scarlet cloth and furs. I have
concealed them in a neighbouring cave, and will give them to her for a
dowry." All this, Gotelind, you have lost, owing to your father; now
give your hand to a peasant, with whom you may dig turnips, and at
night lie on the heart of an ignoble boor. Go to your father, for mine
he is not; I am sure that a courtier has been my father, from him I
have my high spirit.'

"The foolish sister answered, 'Dear brother Schlingdengau, persuade
your companion to marry me, I will leave father, mother, and
relations.' The parents were unaware of the conversation held secretly
by the brother and sister. The brother said, 'I will send a messenger
to you, whom you are to follow; hold yourself in readiness. God protect
you, I go from hence; the host here is as little to me as I to him.
Mother, God bless you.' So he went on his old way, and told his
companion his sister's wish. He kissed his hands for joy, and made
obeisance to the wind that blew from Gotelind.

"Many widows and orphans were robbed of their property when the hero
Lämmerschling and his wife Gotelind sat at their marriage feast. Young
men actively conveyed in waggons and on horses stolen food and drink to
the house of Lämmerschling's father. When Gotelind came, the bridegroom
met her, and received her with, 'Welcome, dame Gotelind.' 'God reward
you, Herr Lämmerschling.' So they gave each other a friendly greeting.
And an old man, wise of speech, rose, and placing both in the circle,
asked three times of the man and the maiden, 'Will you take each other
in marriage, yea or nay?' So they were united. All sang the bridal
song, and the bridegroom trod on the foot of the bride.[11] Then was
the marriage feast prepared. It was wonderful how the food disappeared
before the youths, as if a wind blew it from the table; they eat
incessantly of everything that was brought from the kitchen by the
servants, and there remained nothing but bare bones for the dogs. It is
said that any one who eats so immoderately approaches his end.[12]
Gotelind began to shudder and to exclaim, 'Woe to us! Some misfortune
approaches; my heart is so heavy! Woe is me that I have abandoned my
father and mother; whoever desires too much, will gain little; this
greediness leads to the abyss of hell.'

"They had sat awhile after their meal, and the musicians had received
their gifts from the bride and bridegroom, when a magistrate appeared
with five men. The struggle was short; the magistrate with his five,
was victorious over the ten; for a real thief, however bold he may be,
and willing to confront a whole army, is defenceless against the
hangman. The robbers slipped into the stove and under the benches, and
he who would not have fled before four, was now by the hangman's
servant alone dragged out by the hair. Gotelind lost her bridal dress,
and was found behind a hedge terrified, stripped, and degraded. The
skins of the cattle which the thieves had stolen were bound round their
necks, as the perquisite of the magistrate. The bridegroom, in honour
of the day carried only two, the others more. The magistrate could
sooner have been bribed to spare a wild wolf than these robbers. Nine
were hung by the hangman; the life of the tenth was allowed to the
hangman as his right, and this tenth was Schlingdengau Helmbrecht; the
hangman revenged the father, by putting out his eyes, and the mother,
by cutting off a hand and a foot. Thus the blind Helmbrecht was led
with the help of a staff, by a servant, home to his father's house.

"Hear how his father greeted him: 'Dieu salue, monsieur Blindman, go
from hence, monsieur Blindman; if you delay, I will have you driven
away by my servant; away with you from the door!'

"'Sir, I am your child.'

"'Is the boy become blind, who called himself Schlingdengau? Now do you
not fear the threats of the hangman or all the magistrates in the
world! Heigh! how you 'ate iron' when you rode off on the steed for
which I gave my cattle. Begone, and never return again!'

"Again the blind man spoke. 'If you will not recognise me as your
child, at least allow a miserable man to crawl into your house, as you
do the poor sick; the country people hate me; I cannot save myself if
you are ungracious to me.'

"The heart of the host was shaken, for the blind man who stood before
him was his own flesh and blood--his son; yet he exclaimed with a
scornful laugh, 'You went out daringly into the world; you have caused
many a heart to sigh, and robbed many a peasant of his possessions.
Think of my dream. Servant, close the door and draw the bolt; I will
betake me to my rest. As long as I live, I had rather take in a
stranger whom my eyes never beheld, than share my loaf with you.' Thus
saying, he struck the servant of the blind man. 'I would do so to your
master, if I were not ashamed to strike a blind man; take him, whom the
sun hates, from before me!' Thus did the father exclaim, but the mother
put a loaf in his hand as to a child. So the blind man went away, the
peasants hooting and scoffing at him.

"For a whole year he endured great hardships. Early one morning when he
was going through the forest to beg bread, some peasants who were
gathering wood saw him, and one of them from whom he had taken a cow
called to the others to help him. All of them had been injured by him,
he had broken into the hut of one and stripped it; he had dishonoured
the daughter of another; and a fourth, trembling like a reed with
passion, said, 'I will wring his neck; he thrust my sleeping child into
a sack, and when it awoke and cried, he tossed it out into the snow, so
that it died.' Thus they all turned against Helmbrecht. 'Now take care
of your hood.' The embroidery which the hangman had left untouched was
now torn, and scattered on the road with his hair. They allowed the
miserable wretch to make his confession, and one of them broke a
fragment from the ground and gave it to the worthless man as gate money
for hell fire. Then they hung him to a tree.

"If there be still any children living with their father and mother who
feel disposed to be jovial knights, let them take warning from the fate
of Helmbrecht."

Thus ends the story of young Helmbrecht, who was desirous of becoming a
knight. And such on the whole we may consider was the condition and
disposition of the free peasantry at the beginning of the long period
of decline, which loosened the connection of the German Empire, founded
the power of the great princely houses, made the burgher communities of
fortified cities rich and powerful, and which was also the beginning of
that wild time of self-help and free fraternization of cities, as of
nobles. But the details of the changes which the German peasant
underwent from 1250 to 1500, can no longer be accurately discerned by
us. The wild deeds of violence and oppression of the robber-nobles,
drove the helpless into the cities, and the enterprising into foreign
countries. There were always opportunities of fighting under the sign
of the cross against Sclavonians, Wends, and Poles, and on the east of
the Elbe, broad countries were opened for the weapons and the plough of
the German countryman. There was agitation also in the minds of men.
The new despotism of the Roman papacy and of the fanatical Mendicant
friars, drove the Katharers on the Rhine, and the Stedingers in Lower
Saxony, to apostacy from the church. Where the free peasants were
thickly located and favoured by the nature of their country, they rose
in arms against the oppression of feudal lords. In the valleys of
Switzerland and in the marsh lands on the German ocean, the associated
country people gained victories over the mailed knights, which still
belong to the glorious reminiscences of the people. But in the interior
of Germany, the peasantry under the increasing oppression of the nobles
and a degenerate church, became weaker, more incapable, and coarser;
ever more powerfully did the barons lord it over them. Even the
resident free peasant of Lower Saxony was cast down from the place of
honour, which he once maintained above the knightly serving man. The
consciousness of a higher civilisation and more refined manners caused
the citizen also to despise the countryman,--his love of eating, his
rough simplicity, and his crafty shrewdness were treated with endless

And yet the countryman in the fifteenth century still retained much of
his good old habits and somewhat of his old energy. He still continued
to extol his own calling in his songs, and was inclined to view with
ridicule the unstable life of others. In a well-known popular song,
three sisters married--one a nobleman, another a musician, and the
third a peasant. Both brothers-in-law came with their wives to pay a
visit at the peasant's farm. "There the gay musician played, the hungry
nobleman danced, and the peasant sat and laughed." At the end of the
fifteenth century a dancing scene in a Hessian village is described in
a city poem, the same customs as in the time of Neidhart, only wilder
and coarser. The proud labourers come from different villages, armed
with halberds and pikes, to dance under the Linden tree; the parties
are divided by distinctive marks, willow and birch twigs and hop
leaves on the shoulder and on the cap. From one village the whole
four-and-twenty labourers are clothed in red plush, with yellow
waistcoat and breeches. A gaily-attired maiden, a favourite dancer,
will only dance with one party, sharp words follow, and weapons are
drawn, the citizen, being a clerk, is persecuted with such forcible,
pungent words, that he is obliged to withdraw himself by ignominious
flight from the wild company.[13]

The life of the countryman within the village gates was still rich in
festivals and poetical usages, his privileges--so far as they were not
interfered with by deeds of violence--were valuable, and interwoven
with his life; and all his occupations were established by customs and
etiquette, by ceremonies and dramatic co-operation with his village

But the oppression under which he lived became insupportable. After the
end of the fifteenth century he began to make a powerful resistance to
his masters.

It is probable that the great agitation in the European money-market
contributed to the excitement of the countryman. The sinking of the
value of metal since the discovery of America, was considered by
producers at first as a lasting rise in the price of corn. To the
peasant every sheffel of corn, and his labour also, became of higher
value; and, in the same measure, both were of higher importance to the
landed proprietor. It was natural, therefore, that the peasant should
take a proportionate view of his freedom, and here and there think of
relief from his burdens, whilst it became the interest of the landed
proprietor to maintain his servitude--nay, even to increase it. Yet,
one need not ascribe the great movement to such reasons. The pride of
victory of the Swiss who had prostrated the Knights of Burgundy, the
self-dependence of the new Landsknechts, and, above all, the religious
movement, and the social turn which it took in South Germany, made a
deep impression on the mind of the peasant. For the first time his
condition was viewed by the educated with sympathy. The countryman was
almost suddenly introduced into the literature as a judge and
associate. His grievances against the priesthood, and also against the
landed proprietors, were ever brought forward in popular language with
great skill. A few years before, he had played the standing _rôle_ of a
clown in the shrove-tide games of the Nürembergers, but now even Hans
Sachs[14] wrote dialogues full of hearty sympathy with his condition,
and the portraiture of the simple, intelligent, and industrious
peasant, called Karsthans,[15] was repeatedly assumed, in order to show
the sound judgment and wit of the people against the priests.

But, dangerous as the great peasant insurrection appeared for many
weeks, and manifold as were the characters and passions which blazed
forth in it, the peasants themselves were little more than an
undulating mass; the greater part of their demagogues and leaders
belonged to another class; on the whole, it appears to us that the
intelligence and capacity of the leaders, whether peasants or others,
was but small, and equally small the warlike capacity of the masses.
Therefore here where the peasant for the first time is powerfully
influenced by the literary men of the period, more pleasure is
experienced in the contemplation of the minds that roused up his soul.
It was the case here, as it always is in popular insurrections, that
the masses were first excited by those who were more influential and
far-sighted, nobler and more refined; then they lost the mastery, which
was seized by vain, coarse demagogues, like Andreas Karlstadt and
Thomas Münzer. But the way in which, in this case, the more rational
lost their control is specially characteristic of that time.

Next to Luther, no individual before the war exercised so powerful an
influence on the dispositions of the country people of Southern
Germany, as a barefooted Franciscan, who came among the people at Ulm
from the cloisters of the Franciscan monastery, Johann Eberlin von
Günzburg. He had many of the qualities of a great agitator, and was one
of the most amiable among those that figure in the early period of the
Reformation. More than any other, he took up the social side of the
movement. In the year 1521, he published, anonymously, in the national
form of a small popular flying sheet, his ideal of a new state and a
new social life. The old claims which were subsequently drawn up by a
preacher, in twelve articles, for the peasantry, are to be found, with
many others, collectively in the fifteen "_Bundesgenossen_."[16] The
eloquence of Eberlin irresistibly influenced the listening multitudes;
a flow of language, a poetical strain, a genial warmth, and at the same
time a vein of good humour and of dramatic power, made him a favourite
wherever he appeared. To that was added a harmless self-complacency,
and just sufficient enjoyment of the present moment, as was necessary
to make his success valuable and the persecutions of his opponents
bearable. And yet he was only a dexterous demagogue. When he left his
order from honourable convictions, with a heart passionately excited by
the corruption of the church and the distress of the people, he could
hardly pass, even according to the standard of the time, for an
educated man; it was only by degrees that he became clear on certain
social questions; then he conscientiously endeavoured to recal his
former assertions; with whatever complacency he may speak of himself,
there is always a holy earnestness in him concerning the truth. He had,
withal, a quiet, aristocratic bias; he was the child of a citizen; his
connections were people of consideration, and even of noble origin;
coarse violence was contrary to his nature, in which a strong common
sense was incessantly at work to control the ebullition of his
feelings. He clung with great devotion to all his predecessors who had
advanced his education, especially to the Wittemberg reformers. After
he had restlessly roamed about the South of Germany for many years, he
went to Wittemberg; there Melancthon powerfully influenced the fiery
southern German; he became quieter, more moderate, and better
instructed. But later he belonged--like his monastic companion,
Heinrich von Kettenbach--to the preachers who collected round Hutten
and Sickengen. This personal union, which lasted up to Sickengen's
catastrophe, kept the national movement in a direction which could not
last. For a short time it appeared as if the religious and social
movement of South Germany, even if not led, could be made use of, by
the noble landed proprietors; it was an error into which both the
knights and their better friends fell; neither Hutten nor Sickengen had
sufficient strength or insight to win the country people really to
them. This came to light when Sickengen was overpowered by the
neighbouring princes. The peasants became the most zealous assistants
of the princes in persecuting the junkers of the Sickengen party and
burning their castles; this warfare may, indeed, be considered as the
prelude to the present war. It had unshackled the country people in the
neighbouring provinces, and accustomed them to the pulling down of
castles. A dialogue of the year 1524 has been preserved to us, in which
the fury of the country people against the nobles already breaks

From that period the decided demagogues gained the ear of the peasants,
and the moderate amongst the popular leaders lost their supremacy.
Eberlin had once more, at Erfurt, an opportunity of showing, as a
mediator, the power of his eloquence over the revolted peasant hosts;
under its influence the assembled populace fell on their knees, pious
and penitent; but the weakness of his advice made this last endeavour
fruitless. He died the following year, and with him passed away most of
the poetry of the Reformation.

Cruelly was the revolt against the terrified princes punished, and the
smaller tyrants were the most eager to bring the conquered again under
their yoke. Yet in South Germany and Thuringia there was a real
improvement in the condition of the country people; for it happened at
a period in which a learned class of jurists spread over the country,
and the working of Roman law in Germany became everywhere perceptible.
The point of view taken by the jurists of the Roman school, of the
relations between the landed proprietors and their villeins, was indeed
not always favourable to the latter; for the lawyers were inclined to
fix every kind of subjection upon the peasant from the deficiency in
his right of property in his holding; but they were equally ready to
recognise his personal freedom. Thus, in the first half of the
sixteenth century, the old serfdom which still existed in a very harsh
form in many provinces was mitigated, and villeinage substituted.
Besides this, a more patriarchal feeling began to prevail among the
higher German Sovereigns, and in the new ordinances which they
projected in conjunction with their clergy, the welfare of the
peasantry was taken into consideration. This was the case above all
with the Wettiner princes in Franconia, Thuringia, and Meissen; and,
lastly, with Elector August. The authority, also, of the Saxon
chancery, which had been established in Germany since the fifteenth
century, contributed essentially to this, by making the Saxon laws a
pattern for the rest of Germany.

But some ten years before the Thirty Years' War, an advance in the
pretensions of the nobles became apparent, at least in the provinces
beyond the Elbe; for example, in Pommerania and Silesia. Under weak
rulers the courtly influence of the nobility increased, the constant
money embarrassments of the princes raised the independence of the
States, which granted the taxes; and the peasants had no
representatives in the States, except in the Tyrol, East Friesland, the
old Bailiwick of Swabia, and a few small territories. The landed
proprietors indemnified themselves for the concessions made to the
princes by double exactions on the peasantry. Serfdom was formally
re-established in Pommerania in 1617.

It was just at this period of reaction that the Thirty Years' War broke
out. It devastated alike the houses of the nobles and the huts of the
peasants. It brought destruction on man and beast, and corrupted those
that were left.[18]

After the great war--in the period which will be here portrayed--a
struggle began on the part of the landed proprietors and the newly
established Government against the wild practices of the war time. The
countryman had learned to prefer the rusty gun to handling the plough.
He had become accustomed to perform court service, and his mind was not
rendered more docile by disbanded soldiers having settled themselves on
the ruins of the old village huts. The peasant lads and servants bore
themselves like knights, wearing jack-boots, caps faced with marten's
fur, hats with double bands, and coats of fine cloth; they carried
rifles and long-handled axes when they came together in the cities, or
assembled on Sundays. At one time perhaps these had been useful against
robbers and wild beasts; but it had become far more dangerous to the
nobles and their bailiffs, and still more insupportable to their
villeins,--it was always rigorously forbidden.[19] The settlement of
disbanded soldiers, who brought their prize money into the village, was
welcome; but whoever had once worn a soldier's dress revolted against
the heavy burdens of the bondsman. It was, therefore, established that
whoever had served under a banner became free from personal servitude;
only those who had been camp-followers continued as bondsmen. The
inhabitants of the different States had been interspersed during the
war; subjects had wilfully changed their dwellings, and established
themselves on other territories, with or without the permission of the
new lords of the manor. This was insupportable, and a right was given
to the landed proprietor to fetch them back; and if the new lord of the
manor thought it his interest to protect them, and refused to give them
up, force might be used to recover them. Thus the noblemen rode with
their attendants into a district to catch such of their villeins as had
escaped without pass-tickets.[20]--The opposition of the people must
have been violent, for the ordinances even in the provinces, where
villeinage was most strict--as, for example, in Silesia--were obliged
to recognise that the villeins were free people, and not slaves. But
this remained a theoretical proposition, and was seldom attended to in
the following century. The depopulation of the country, and the
deficiency in servants and labourers, was very injurious to the
landowner. All the villagers were forbidden to let rooms to single men
or women; all such lodgers were to be taken before the magistracy, and
put into prison in case they should refuse domestic service, even if
they maintained themselves by any other occupation--such as labouring
for the peasant for daily hire, or carrying on business with money or
corn.[21] Through a whole generation we find, in the ordinances of the
territorial lords, bitter complaints against the malicious and wilful
menials who would not yield to their hard conditions, nor be content
with the pay assigned by law. It was forbidden to individual
proprietors to give more than the tax established by the provincial
States. Nevertheless, the conditions of service shortly after the war
are sometimes better than they were a hundred years later; in 1652
menials in Silesia had meat twice in the week; but in our century there
are provinces where they get it only three times in the year.[22] The
daily pay also was higher immediately after the war than in the
following century.

Thus was an iron yoke again bound slowly round the necks of the
undisciplined country people, closer and harder than before the war.
During the war small villages, and still more the single farms, which
had been so favorable to the independence of the peasants, had vanished
from the face of the earth; in the Palatinate, for example, and on the
hills of Franconia, they had been numerous, and even in the present day
their names cling to the soil. The village huts concentrated themselves
in the neighbourhood of the manor house, and control over the weak
community was easier when under the eye of the lord or his bailiff.
What was the course of their life in the time of our fathers will be
distinctly seen when one examines more closely the nature of their
service. A cursory glance at it will appear to the youth of the present
generation like a peep into a strange and fearful world. The conditions
under which the German country people suffered were undoubtedly
various. Special customs existed, not only in the provinces, but in
almost every community. If the names by which the different services
and imposts were designated were arranged they would form an unpleasant
vocabulary.[23] But, notwithstanding the difference in the names and
extent of these burdens, there was an unanimity throughout the whole of
Europe on the main points, which is, perhaps, more difficult to explain
than the deviations.

The tenths were the oldest tax upon the countryman--the tenth sheaf,
the tenth portion of slaughtered beasts, and even a tenth of wine,
vegetables and fruit. It was probably older in Western Germany than
Christianity, but the early church of the middle ages cunningly claimed
it on the authority of scripture. It did not, however, succeed in
retaining it only for itself; it was obliged to share it with the
rulers, and often with the noble landed proprietors. At last it was
paid by the agricultural peasant, either as a tax to the ruler or to
his landlord, and besides as the priest's tithe to his church. However
low his harvest yield might be valued, the tenth sheaf was far more
than the tenth share of his clear produce.

But the countryman had, in the first place, to render service to the
landed proprietor, both with his hands and with his team; in the
greatest part of Germany, in the middle ages, three days a week,--thus
he gave half of the working time of his life. Whoever was bound to keep
beasts of burden on his property was obliged to perform soccage, in the
working hours, with the agricultural implements and tools till sunset;
the poorer people had to do the same with hand labour--nay, according
to the obligations of their tenure, with two, four, or more hands, and
even the days were appointed by the landlords: they were well off if
during such labour they received food. These obligations of ancient
times were, in many cases, increased after the war by the encroachments
of the masters--chiefly in Eastern Germany. These soccage days were
arbitrarily divided into half or even quarter days, and thereby the
hindrance to the countryman and the disorder to his own farm were
considerably increased. The number of the days was also increased. Such
was the case even in the century which we, with just feelings of pride,
call the humane. In the year 1790, just when Goethe's "Torquato Tasso"
made its first appearance in the refined court of Saxony, the peasants
of Meissen rose against the landowners, because they had so
immoderately increased the service that their villeins seldom had a day
free for their own work.[24] Again in 1799, when Schiller's
"Wallenstein" was exciting the enthusiasm of the warlike nobility of
Berlin, Frederick William III. was obliged to issue a cabinet order,
enjoining on his nobility not to lay claim to the soccage of the
peasants more than three days in the week, and to treat their people
with equity.

The second burden on the villeins was the tax on change of property by
death or transfer; the heriot and fine on alienation. The best horse
and the best ox were once the price which the heir of a property had to
pay to the landowner for his fief. This tax was long ago changed into
money. But though in the sixteenth century, even in countries where the
peasant was heavily oppressed, the provincial ordinances allowed that
peasant's property might be bought and sold, and that the lord of the
peasant who sold could take no deduction upon it,[25] yet in the same
province in 1617, before the Thirty Years' War, it was established that
landlords might compel their villeins against their will to sell their
property, and that in case no purchaser should be found they themselves
might buy it at two-thirds of the tax. It was under Frederick the Great
that the inheritance and rights of property of villeins were first
secured to them in most of the provinces of the kingdom of Prussia.
This ordinance helped to put an end to a burden on the country people
which threatened to depopulate the country. For in the former century,
after the landowners had resolved to increase the revenue of their
estates, they found it advantageous to rid themselves of some of their
villeins, whose holdings they attached to their own property. The poor
people, thus driven from their homes, fell into misery; and the burdens
became quite unbearable to the remaining villeins, for they were
expected by the landed proprietor to cultivate those former holdings,
whose possessors had hitherto by their labour assisted in the
cultivation of the whole estate. This system of ejection had become
particularly bad in the east of Germany. When Frederick II. conquered
Silesia there were many thousand farms without occupiers; the huts lay
in ruins, and the fields were in the hands of the landed proprietors.
All the separate homesteads had to be reformed and reoccupied,
furnished with cattle and implements, and given up to the farmer as his
own heritable property. In Rügen this grievance occasioned a rising of
the peasantry, in the youth of Ernst Moritz Arndt; soldiers were sent
thither, and the rioters were put in prison; the peasants endeavoured
to revenge themselves for this by laying in wait for and slaying
individual noblemen. In the same way in Electoral Saxony as late as
1790 this grievance occasioned a revolt.

The children also of villeins were subject to compulsory service. If
they were capable of work they were brought before the authorities,
and, if these demanded it, had to serve some time, frequently three
years, on the farm. To serve in other places it was necessary to have a
permit, which must be bought. Even those who had already served
elsewhere had once a year--frequently about Christmas--to present
themselves to the lord of the manor for choice. If the child of a
villein entered into a trade or any other occupation, a sum had to be
paid to the authorities for a letter of permission. It was considered a
mitigation of the old remains of feudalism, when it was decided that
the daughters of peasants might marry on to other properties without
indemnifying their lord. But then the new lord had to greet the other
in a friendly letter in acknowledgment of this emancipation.[26] The
price which the villein had to give for the emancipation of himself and
his family varied extremely, according to the period and the district.
Under Frederick II. it was reduced in Silesia to one ducat per head.
But this was an unusually favourable rate for the villein. In Rügen, at
a still later date, the emancipation was left to the valuation of the
proprietor; it could even be refused: a fine-looking youth had there to
pay full a hundred and fifty, and a pretty girl fifty or sixty,

But the peasant was employed in other ways by the landed proprietor. He
was bound to aid, with his hands and teams, in the cultivation of the
estate; he was also bound to act as messenger. Whoever wished to go to
the town had first to ask the bailiff and lord of the manor whether
they had any orders. No householder could, except in special cases,
remain a night out of the village without the previous sanction of the
magistrate of the place. He was obliged to furnish a night watch of two
men for the nobleman's mansion. He had, when a child of the lord of the
manor was to be married, to bring a contribution of corn, small cattle,
honey, wax, and linen to the castle; finally, he had almost everywhere
to carry to his lord his rent-hens and eggs, the old symbol of his
dependence for house and farm.

But what was still more repugnant to the German peasant than many
greater burdens, was the landlord's right of chase over his fields. The
fearful tyranny with which the right of chase was practised by the
German princes in the middle ages, was renewed after the Thirty Years'
War. The peasant was forbidden to carry a gun, and poachers were shot
down. Where the cultivated ground bordered on the larger woods, or
where the lord of the manor held the supreme right of chase, a secret
and often bloody war was carried on for centuries betwixt the foresters
and poachers. As long as wolves continued to prowl about the villages,
the irritated peasant dug holes round the margin of the wood which he
covered with branches, and the bottom of them was studded with pointed
stakes. He called them wolf-pits, but they were well known to the law
as game-traps, and were forbidden under severe penalties. He ventured
to let such portions of ground as were most exposed to be injured by
game, to soldiers or cities, but that also was forbidden him; he
endeavoured to defend his fields by hedges, and his hedges were broken
down. In the Erzgebirge of Saxony the peasants, in the former century,
had watched by their ripening corn; then huts were built on the fields,
fires were lighted in the night, the watchers called out and beat the
drum, and their dogs barked; but the game at last became accustomed to
these alarms, and feared neither peasant nor dog. In Electoral Saxony,
at the end of a former century, under a mild government, where a
moderate tax might be paid as indemnity for damage to game, it was
forbidden to erect fences for fields above a certain height, or to
employ pointed stakes, that the game might not be injured, nor
prevented seeking its support on the fields, till at last fourteen
communities in the Hohnstein bailiwick in a state of exasperation
combined for a general hunt, and frightened the game over the frontier.
The logs which the sheep dogs wore round their necks were not
sufficient to hinder them from hurting the hares, so they were held by
cords on the fields. But the countrymen were bound, when the lord of
the manor went to the chase, to go behind the nets and, as beaters, to
swing the rattles. The coursing, moreover, spoilt his fields, as the
riders with their greyhounds uprooted and trampled on the seed.

To these burdens, which were common to all, were added numerous local
restrictions, of which only some of the more widely diffused will be
here mentioned. The number of cattle that villeins were permitted to
keep was frequently prescribed to them according to the extent of their
holdings. A portion of the pasture land upon his holding before seed
time, and of the produce after the harvest, belonged to the landowner.
This right, to which pretensions had been already made in the middle
ages, became a severe plague in the last century, when the noblemen
began increasing their flocks of sheep. For they made demands on the
peasants' fields generally, when fodder for cattle was failing: how,
then, could the peasants maintain their own animals?

As early as 1617 it was held as a maxim in Silesia, that peasants must
not keep sheep unless they possessed an old authorisation for it. The
keeping of goats was altogether forbidden in many places. This old
prohibition is one of the reasons why the poor in wide districts of
Eastern Germany are deprived of these useful animals. Elector August of
Saxony in 1560 denounced in his ordinances the pigeons of the peasants,
and since that time they have been prohibited in other provincial
ordinances. Other tyrannies were devised by the love of game. Shortly
after the war it was held to be the duty of peasants to offer
everything saleable, in the first instance, to the lord of the
manor,--dung, wool, honey, and even eggs and poultry: if the
authorities would not take his goods, he was bound to expose them for a
fixed period in the nearest town; it was only then that the sale became
free. But it was truly monstrous, when the authorities compelled their
subjects to buy goods from the manorial property which they did not
need. These barbarisms were quite common, at least in the East of
Germany, after 1650, especially in Moravia, Bohemia, and Silesia. When
the great proprietors drew their ponds and could not sell the fish, the
villeins were obliged to take them, in proportion to their means, at a
fixed rate. The same was the case with butter, cheese, corn, and
cattle. This was the cause of so many of the country people in Bohemia
becoming small traders, as they had to convey these goods into
neighbouring countries, often to their own great loss.[27] In vain did
the magistrates in Silesia in 1716 endeavour to check this abuse.[28]

We will only mention here the worst tyranny of all. The nobleman had
seigneurial rights: he decreed through the justices, who were dependent
on him, the punishments of police offences: fines, imprisonment, and
corporal punishment. He was also in the habit of using the stick to the
villeins when they were at work. Undoubtedly there was already in the
sixteenth century, in the provincial ordinances, a humane provision,
which prohibited the nobles from striking their villeins; but in the
two following centuries this prohibition was little attended to. When
Frederick the Great re-organized Silesia, he gave the peasants the
right of making complaint to the government against severe bodily
punishment! And this was considered a progress!

But other burdens also weighed upon the life of the peasant. For,
beside the landowner, the territorial ruler also demanded his impost or
contribution, a land-tax or poll-tax; he could impress the son of the
peasant under his banner, and demand waggons and gear for relays in
time of war. And again, above the territorial ruler, was the Holy Roman
Empire of the German nation, which claimed in those parts of Germany
where the constitution of the circles was still in force, a quota for
their exchequers.

The peasants, however, were not everywhere under the curse of bondage.
In the old domain of the Ripuarian Franks, the provinces on the other
side of the Rhine from Cleves to the Moselle, and the Grafschaft of
Mark, Essen, Werden, and Berg, had already in the middle ages freed
themselves from bondage: those who had not property as landowners were
freemen with leases for life. In the rest of Germany, freedom had taken
refuge in the southern and northern frontiers, on the coasts of the
North Sea and among the Alps. East Friesland, the marsh lands on the
coasts of the Weser and the Elbe up to Ditmarschen,--those almost
unconquerable settlements of sturdy peasant communities,--have remained
free from the most ancient times. In the south, the Tyrol and the
neighbouring Alps, at least the greatest portion of them, were occupied
by free country-people; in Upper Austria also the free peasantry were
numerous; and in Steiermark the tenths, which was the chief tax paid to
the landed proprietors, was less oppressive than soccage was elsewhere.
Wherever the arable land was scarce, and the mountain pastures afforded
sustenance to the inhabitants, the legal condition of the lower orders
was better. On the other hand, in the countries of old Saxony from the
time of the Carlovingians, with the exception of a few free peasant
holdings, a severe state of bondage had been developed. The
Brunswickers, the dwellers on the Church lands of Bremen and Verden,
were in the most favourable condition, those of Hildesheim and the
Grafschaft of Hoya in the worst. In the bishopric of Münster the
soccage service of villeins was generally changed into a moderate money
payment; the only thing that pressed heavily on them was the compulsory
leading, and the necessity of buying exemption from their burdens. On
the other hand, the right of the landed proprietor over the inheritance
of villeins existed to the greatest extent. As late as the year 1800
the country-people, who--exceptionally--desired to save money,
endeavoured to preserve their property to their heirs, by fictitious
transactions with the citizens; consequently more than a fourth portion
of the Münster land remained uncultivated. A similar condition, in a
somewhat milder form, existed in the bishopric of Osnabruck. Among the
races of the interior, Hessians, Thuringians, Bavarians, Suabians, and
Allemanni, the number of free peasants was continually decreasing
during the whole of the middle ages: it was only in Upper Bavaria that
they still formed a powerful part of the population. In Thuringia also
the number of freemen was not inconsiderable. There the rule of the
princes over the serf peasantry was lenient.

Far worse, except in a large part of Holstein, was the condition of all
the countries east of the Elbe,--in fact wherever Germans colonized
Sclave countries, that is almost half present Germany; but worst of all
was the life of the villeins in Bohemia and Moravia, in Pomerania and
Mecklenberg: in the last province villeinage is not yet abolished. It
was in these countries that villeinage became more oppressive after the
Thirty Years' War; only the free peasants, and the "_Erb-und
Gerichtsscholtiseien_," as they were still called in memory of the
circumstances of the old Germanization, formed themselves into a pauper

In the last century it might easily be perceived, from the agriculture
and the prosperity of the villagers, whether they were freemen or
serfs; and even now we may sometimes still discover, from the
intelligence and personal appearance of the present race, what was the
condition of their fathers. The peasants on the Lower Rhine, the
Westphalian inhabitants of the marshes, the East Frieslanders, the
Upper Austrians and Upper Bavarians, attained a certain degree of
prosperity soon after the war; on the other hand, the remaining
Bavarians, about the year 1700, complained that the third portion of
their fields lay waste, and we learn of Bohemia in 1730 that the fourth
part of the ground which had been under culture before the Thirty
Years' War was overgrown with wood. The value of land there was lower
by one half than in the other provinces.

Undoubtedly those freemen were to be envied who felt the advantage of
their better position, but only a small portion were so fortunate.
Generally, even in the eighteenth century, freemen with little or no
land of their own, preferred being received as villeins on some great
landed property. When Frederick I. of Prussia, shortly after 1700,
wished to free the serfs in Pomerania, they refused it, because they
considered the new duties imposed upon them more severe than what they
had hitherto borne. And in fact the free peasants were scarcely less
burdened with new service than those who had been the villeins of the
old time.

It is difficult to judge impartially of the human condition which
developed itself under this oppression. For such a life looks very
different in daily intercourse, to what it does in the statute-book.
Much that appears insupportable to us was made bearable by ancient
custom. Undoubtedly the kind-hearted benevolence of the nobles, of old
families who had grown up with their country-people through many
generations, mitigated the severity of servitude, and a cordial
connexion existed between master and serfs. Still more frequently the
brutal selfishness of the masters was softened and kept within bounds
by that prudence which now influences the American slaveholders. The
landed proprietor and his family passed their lives among the peasants,
and if he endeavoured to instil fear, he also had cause for fear.
Easily on a stormy night might the flames be kindled among his wooden
farm buildings, and no province was without its dismal stories of harsh
landlords or bailiffs who had been slain by unknown hands in field or
wood. However much we may admit the goodness or prudence of masters,
the position of the peasants still remains the darkest feature of the
past time. For we find everywhere in the scanty records of the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries an unhealthy antagonism of
classes. _And it was the larger portion of the German people which was
ruined by this oppression._[29]

Men even of uncommon strength and intelligence seldom succeeded in
extricating themselves from the proscribed boundaries by which their
life was fenced in. Ever greater became the chasm which separated them
from the smaller portion of the nation, who, by their perukes, bagwigs,
and pigtails, showed from afar that they belonged to a privileged
class. Up to the end of the seventeenth century these polished classes
seldom entertained a friendly feeling towards the peasant; on all sides
were to be heard complaints of his obduracy, dishonesty, and
coarseness. At no period was the suffering portion of the people so
harshly judged as in that, in which a spiritless orthodoxy embittered
the souls of those who had to preach the gospel of love. None were more
eager than the theologians in complaining of the worthlessness of
the country people, among whom they had to live; they always heard
hell-hounds howling round the huts of the villeins; their whole
conception of life was, indeed, dark, pedantic, and joyless. A
well-known little book, from the native district of Christopher von
Grimmelshausen, is especially characteristic. This book, entitled "Des
Bauerstands Lasterprob"--the exposure of the vices of the peasant
class[30]--never ceased to point out from the deeds of the villagers,
that the lives of the peasantry, from the village justice to the
goose-herd, were worthless and godless; that they were in the habit of
representing themselves as poor and miserable, and of complaining on
all occasions; that they were rude and overbearing to those whom they
did not fear; that they considered none as their friends, and
ungratefully deceived their benefactors. This book is much more
cruel than "The Lexicon of Deceit," by the hypochondriacal Coburger
Hönn, which some centuries later analysed the impositions of all
classes,--and amongst others, those of the peasants,--alphabetically,
morosely, and with apt references.

To such defects, which are peculiar to the oppressed, others must,
indeed, be added, the consequences of the long war and its
demoralization. In the rooms of the village inns, about 1700, neither
candlesticks nor snuffers were to be seen, for everything had been
pilfered by the wayfarers; even the prayer-book had been stolen from
the host; a small looking-glass was a thing not to be thought of,
though 500 years earlier the village maiden, when she adorned herself
for the dance, took her little hand-glass with her as an ornament; and
if a householder lodged carriers, he was obliged to conceal all
portable goods, and to lock up all barns and hay-lofts. It was even
dangerous sometimes for a traveller to set foot in an inn. The desolate
room was filled, not only with tobacco-smoke, but also with the fumes
of powder; for it was a holiday amusement of the country people to play
with powder, and to molest unlucky strangers by throwing squibs or
small rockets before their feet or on their perukes; this was
accompanied by railery and abuse.[31] We are frequently disposed to
observe with astonishment, in these and similar complaints of
contemporaries, how the German nature maintained, amidst the deepest
degradation, a vital energy which, more than a hundred years after,
made the beginning of a better condition possible; and we may sometimes
doubt whether to admire the patience, or to lament the weakness, which
so long endured such misery; for, in spite of all that party zeal has
ever said in excuse of these servile relations, they were an endless
source of immorality both to the masters, their officials, and to the
people themselves. The sensuality of landed proprietors, and the
self-interest of magistrates and stewards, were exposed to daily
temptation at a period when a feeling of duty was weak in all classes.
More than once did the sluggish provincial governments exert themselves
to prevent bailiffs from compelling the peasant to feed cattle, sow
linseed, and spin for them; and foresters were in ill repute who
carried on traffic with the peasants, and winked at their proceedings
when the stems of the lordly wood were felled.[32] What was the feeling
of the country people against the landed proprietors, may be concluded
from the wicked proverb which became current about 1700, and fell from
the mouth of the rich Mansfeld peasant--"The young sparrows and young
nobles should have their heads broken betimes."[33]

Slowly did the dawn of a new day come to the German peasant. If we
would seek from whence arose the first rays of the new light, we shall
find them, together with the renovation of the people, in the studies
of the learned, who proclaimed the science, which was the most strange
and most incomprehensible to the country-people, then called
philosophy. After the teaching of Leibnitz and Wolff had found scholars
in a larger circle of the learned, there was a sudden change in the
views held about the peasant and his state. Everywhere began a more
human conception of earthly things, the struggle against the orthodox
errors. We find, again, in the scholars and proclaimers of the new
philosophy, somewhat of the zeal of an apostle to teach, to improve,
and to free. Soon after 1700 a hearty interest in the life of the
peasant appears again in the small literature. The soundness of his
calling, the utility and blessings of his labour, were extolled, and
his good qualities carefully sought out; his old songs, in which a
manly self-consciousness finds graceful expression, and which had once
been polished by the single-minded theologians of the sixteenth
century, were again spread in cheap publications. In these the poor
countryman modestly boasts that agriculture was founded by Adam; he
rejoices in "his falconry"; the larks in the field, the swallows in the
straw of his roof, and the cocks in the farm-yard; and amidst his hard
labour again seeks comfort in the "heavenly husbandman, Jesus."[34]

On the other hand, there was even help in the severity of a despotic
State. The oppressed peasant gave, through his sons, to the ruler the
greater part of his soldiers, and, through his taxes, the means of
keeping up the new State. By degrees it was discovered that such
material ought to be taken care of. About 1700 this may everywhere be
perceived in the provincial laws. The Imperial Court, also, was
influenced in its way by this awakening philanthropy. In 1704 it even
gave a grand privilege to the shepherds, wherein it declared them and
their lads honourable, and graciously advised the German nation to give
up the prejudice against this useful class of men, and no longer to
exclude their children from being artisans, on account of magic and
plying the knacker's trade. A few years afterwards it gave armorial
bearings; it also granted them the rights of a corporate body, with
seal, chest, and banner, on which a pious picture was painted.[35] More
stringent was the interference of the Hohenzollerns, who were
themselves, during four generations, the princely colonists of Eastern
Germany. Frederick II. made the most fundamental reforms in the
conquered provinces; many examples are cited of the blessings resulting
from them. When he took possession of Silesia, the village huts were
block-houses, formed from the stems of trees, and roofed with straw or
shingles, without brick chimneys; the baking ovens, joined on to the
houses, exposed them to the danger of fires; the husbandry was in a
pitiful plight; great commons and pastures covered with mole-hills and
thistles, small weak horses, and lean cows; and the landed proprietors
were for the most part harsh despots, against whom the clumsy Imperial
and magisterial administration could scarcely enforce any law. The King
carried on three severe wars in Silesia, during which his own soldiers,
the Austrians, and the Russians, consumed and ravaged the province.
Yet, only a few years after the Seven Years' War, 250 new villages and
2000 new cottages were erected, and frequently stone houses and tiled
roofs were to be seen. All the wooden chimneys and all the clay ovens
had been pulled down by the conqueror, and the people were compelled to
build anew; horses were brought from Prussia, and the sheep shorn once
in the year; peat cutters from Westphalia, and silkworm-breeders from
France, were introduced into the country. Oaks and mulberries were
planted, and premiums were given for the laying out of vineyards. At
his command the new potato was introduced; at the beginning of the
Seven Years' War, by the celebrated patent of the Minister of Justice,
von Carmer, commons and general pastures were abolished, and divided
among separate holders. With far-sighted forethought, a state of things
was introduced which has only recently been carried out. The
inheritance of property, also, was secured by law to the villeins. The
peasant obtained the right of complaint to the royal government, and
this right became for him a quick and vigorous law, for, however much
the King favoured the nobility when it was serviceable to the State,
yet he was constantly occupied, together with his officials, in
elevating the mass of tax-payers. The most insignificant might present
his petition, and the whole people knew, from numerous examples, that
the King read them. Many of this great Prince's attempts at
civilization did not succeed; but on all sides the pressure of a system
was felt which so assiduously raised the strength of the people, in
order to utilise them to the utmost in the State. Nowhere is the work
of this mighty ruler so thankfully acknowledged by contemporaries as by
the peasantry of the conquered province. When, on his numerous journeys
through Silesia, the country-people thronged round his carriage with
respectful awe, every look, every fleeting word that he addressed to a
village magistrate was treasured as a dear remembrance, handed down
carefully from generation to generation, and still lives in all hearts.

Ever greater became the sympathy of the literary classes. It is true
that poetry and art did not yet find in the life of the peasant,
material which could foster a creative spirit. When Goethe wrote
"Hermann and Dorothea," it was a new discovery for the nation that the
petty citizen was worthy of artistic notice; it was long, however,
before any one ventured lower among the people; but the honourable
philanthropists, the popular promulgators of enlightenment in the
burgher classes, preached and wrote with hearty zeal upon the singular,
uncouth, and yet numerous fellow-creature, the peasant, whose character
frequently only appeared to consist of an aggregate of unamiable
qualities, but who, nevertheless, was undeniably the indispensable
foundation of the other classes of human society.

One of the most influential writings of this kind was by Christian
Garve, "Upon the Character of the Peasants, Breslau, 1786," taken from
lectures given shortly before the outbreak of the French revolution.
The author was a clear-sighted, upright man, who was anxious for the
public weal, and was listened to with respect throughout the whole of
Germany, whenever he spoke upon social questions. His little book has a
thoroughly philanthropic tendency; the life of the peasant was
accurately known by him as it was by many others who were then occupied
with the improvement of the country people. The propositions which he
makes for the elevation of the class are sensible, but unsatisfactory;
as indeed are almost all theories with respect to social evils. Yet,
when we scan the contents of this well-meaning book, we are seized with
alarm; not at what he relates concerning the oppression of the peasant,
but at the way in which he himself seems necessitated to speak of
two-thirds of the German people. They are strangers to him and his
contemporaries: it is something new and attractive to their
philanthropy to realize the condition of these peculiar men. There is
an especial charm to a conscientious and feeling mind in ascertaining
clearly, what is the exact nature and cause of the stupidity,
coarseness, and evil qualities of the country people. The author even
compares their position with that of the Jews; he discusses their
condition of mind much in the same way that our philanthropists do
those of gaol prisoners; he sincerely wishes that the light of humanity
may fall on their huts; he compares their sloth and indolence with the
energetic working power which, as was even then known, the colonists
developed in the ancient woods of the new world. He gives this
well-meaning explanation of the contrast, that in our old and as it
were already becoming antiquated state, the many work for the one, and
a multitude of the industrious go without remuneration, therefore zeal
and desire are extinguished in a great portion of them. Almost all that
he says is true and right, but this calm kindliness, with which
enlightened men of the period of Immanuel Kant and the poetic court of
Weimar regarded the people, was unaccompanied by the slightest
suspicion, that the pith of the German national strength must be sought
in this despised and ruined class; that the condition of things under
which he himself, the author, lived, was hollow, barbarous, and
insecure; that the governments of his time possessed no guarantee of
stability, and that a political state--the great source of every manly
feeling, and of the noble consciousness of independence--was
impossible, even for the educated, so long as the peasant lived as a
beast of burden; and little did he think that all these convictions
would be forced upon the very next generation, after bitter sufferings
in a hard school, by the conquest of an external enemy. His work,
therefore, deserves well to be remembered by the present generation.
The following pages depict not only the condition of the peasantry, but
the literary class. Garve speaks as follows:--

"One circumstance has great influence on the character of the
peasantry: they hang much together. They live far more sociably one
with another than do the common burghers in the cities. They see each
other every day at their farm work; in the summer in the fields, in the
winter in the barns and spinning-rooms. They associate like soldiers,
and thus get an _esprit de corps_; many results arise from this: first,
they become polished after their fashion, and more acute through this
association. They are more fit for intercourse with their equals; and
they have better notions than the common artisan of many of the
relations of social life; that is to say, of all those which occur in
their class and in their own mode of life. This constant intercourse,
this continual companionship, is with them, as with soldiers, what
lightens their condition. It is a happy thing to hare much and constant
companionship with others, if they are your equals; it gives rise to an
intimate acquaintance and a reciprocal confidence, at least in outward
appearance, without which no intercourse can be agreeable. The noble
enjoys this advantage; he associates for the most part only with his
equals, being separated by his pride from those below him, and he and
his equals live much together, as leisure and wealth enable him to do
so. The peasant enjoys singular advantages from opposite reasons. His
insignificance is so great that it prevents his having the wish, still
more the opportunity, of associating with those above him; he hardly
ever sees anything but peasants, and his servitude and his work bring
him frequently in companionship with these his equals.

"But this very circumstance causes the peasants to act in a body; thus
the inconveniences of a democratic constitution are introduced, so that
a single unquiet head from their own body exercises great power over
them, and often influences the whole community. It is, moreover, the
reason why persons of another class have so little influence over them,
and can only sway them by authority and compulsion. They seldom see or
hear the judgments, conceptions, and examples of the higher orders, and
only for a brief space.

"I have long studied the special signification of the word _tückisch_,
which I have never heard so frequently as when the talk has been of
peasants. It denotes, without doubt, a mixture of childish character,
of simplicity, and weakness, with spite and cunning.

"Every one, without doubt, remembers having seen faces of peasant boys,
in which one or both eyes leer out, as if by stealth, from under the
half-closed eyelids, with the mouth open and drawn into a jeering yet
somewhat vacant laugh, with the head bent down, as if they would
conceal themselves; in a word, faces which depict a mixture of fear,
shamefacedness, and simplicity, with derision and aversion. Such boys,
when one speaks to or requires anything of them, stand dumb and
motionless as a log; they answer no questions put to them by the
passersby, and their muscles seem stiff and immovable. But as soon as
the stranger is a little way off, they run to their comrades, and burst
out laughing.

"The low condition of the peasant, his servitude, and his poverty
produce in him a certain fear of the higher orders; his rearing and
mode of life make him on the one hand unyielding and insolent, and on
the other, in many respects, simple and ignorant; the frequent
antagonism of his own will and advantage, to the will and the commands
of those above him, implants in his mind the germs of animosity. Thus,
if the failings of his class are not counteracted by his personal
qualities, he becomes such as the boy described, especially in his
demeanour to his superiors. It is these superiors and lords of the
peasants who are to blame for his _tückischen_ character. He will use
dissimulation in place of open resistance; he will be humble and
yielding, nay, even appear devoted in their presence; but when he
thinks he can act secretly, he will do everything against their will
and interest. He will think of tricks and intrigues, which,
nevertheless, are not so finely woven but that they may be easily seen

"One may discover two main differences, both in the fate and the
character of the peasantry. He who is entirely under subjection, who
sighs under the yoke of a complete slavery, will, under usual
circumstances, submit to everything with apathy, without attempting the
least resistance, and even without a wish to lighten his own lot; he
will throw himself at the feet of any one who will tread on him. But if
he is roused from this torpor by special circumstances, by agitators,
by a cunning and bold leader, then he will become like a raging tiger,
and will lose at once, with the humility of the slave, all the feelings
of humanity.

"The half-serf who has property, and enjoys the protection of the laws,
but under more or less burdensome conditions, is bound to the glebe,
and at the same time to the service of the proprietor, to whose
jurisdiction he is amenable; this peasant does not usually bear his
burdens without wincing. There is no fear that he will endeavour to
throw them off his neck by open violence as a rebel; but he will carry
on a continual secret war with his master. To diminish his profit, and
to increase his own, is a wish that he has always at heart, and an
object which covertly, and as often as is practicable, he endeavours to
pursue. He practises crafty and small thefts on the property of his
master, and does not consider them so disgraceful as if he did the same
by his equal. He is not the entirely humble slave, nor yet the dreaded
enemy of his master, but he is not an obedient dependent, from free
will and a good heart; he is that which probably has been intended to
be expressed in some sort by the word _tückisch_.

"One may add, as an ingredient or as a consequence of the
'_tückischen_' nature, a certain amount of stubbornness which
distinguishes the peasant when his mind is agitated, or when a
prejudice is once rooted in him. His soul in this case appears to
become stiff, like his body and his limbs. He is then deaf to all
representations, however obvious they may be, or however capable he
might be, in an impartial state of mind, of seeing their justice. The
lawyers employed in the lawsuits of peasants will sometimes have known
such individuals, in whom it is doubtful whether the obstinacy with
which they cling to an obviously absurd idea, arises from their
blindness or from determined malice. Sometimes whole communities become
thus addle-headed. They then resemble certain crazy people, who, as it
is expressed, have a fixed idea, that is, a conception which their mind
takes up incessantly or returns to on the slightest occasion, and
which, however false it may be, can neither be removed by the evidence
of the senses nor by the representations of reason, because it is not
really in the mind, but has its foundation in the tenor of their

Thus speaks Christian Garve. His final counsel was: "Better village
schools." Some among the landed proprietors acted with a similar
philanthropic feeling. We would gladly say that their number was great;
but the frequent complaints to the contrary, and the zeal with which
benevolent commentators bring forward individual examples--like one
Rochow, of Rekahn, who established village schools at his own
cost--justify the conclusion that such benevolence would have been less
striking had it been more frequent. In fact it required individuals to
be very prudent in showing their good feeling for the peasants in
deeds, as it was often observed that they gave their service far more
willingly to strict nobles than to citizen proprietors; and that when
these, with a warmer feeling for the peasant, wished to show him
kindness, their goodwill sometimes met with a bad return. Thus a
citizen proprietor, taking possession of his property, gave each of his
peasants a present in money, and showed consideration for them in many
ways; the not unnatural consequence was, that they renounced all
service to him, and broke out into open resistance.

Whilst the German philanthropists were anxiously thinking and writing
for the countryman, a storm was already brewing on the other side of
the Rhine which in a few years was to destroy in Germany also, the
servitude of the peasants, together with the old form of government.
About 1790 the peasants began to occupy themselves eagerly with
politics. The schoolmaster read and explained the newspapers to them;
the hearers sat motionless, amidst thick tobacco smoke, all ears. In
Electoral Saxony some already made use of the new circulating library
in the neighbouring city.[36] In the Palatinate, and in the Upper
Rhine, the country people became disturbed, and refused service. In the
same year, in the richest part of Electoral Saxony, in the Lommatzscher
district, and on the property of the Graf von Schönburg, a peasant
revolt once more broke out. Once more did the insurgents seize the
weapon of the slave, the wooden club with iron hoops. The peasants, by
a deputation, renounced all villein service to the landholders; they
sent to the neighbouring communities; from village to village hastened
the secret messengers; the magistrates, in the service of noblemen,
were expelled or beaten with sticks; the quiet parishes were threatened
with fire and sword; in every village saddled horses were standing to
send information to the neighbours of the march of the military. There
were the same secret conspiracy, the same outbreak, spreading with the
speed of lightning, the same union of measureless hate, with a natural
feeling of their rights, as in the peasant war of the sixteenth
century. Reciprocal agreements were laid before the landed proprietors,
which most of them subscribed amicably; and severe nobles were
threatened with the worst. Their demands quickly increased; soon they
required, not only exemption from tenths and soccage service, but also
the reimbursement of fines that had been paid. The peasants collected
in troops of more than a thousand men; they threatened the town of
Meissen, and attacked small detachments. But they never withstood
larger divisions of military. The most daring bands threw their caps
and clubs away, as soon as the cavalry were ordered to charge through
them. One of the chief leaders, a stubborn, daring old man of seventy
years of age, while still in chains, complained of the faintheartedness
of his bands. The movement was suppressed without much bloodshed. It
was characteristic of the time, that the landowners, from fear, did
everything in their power to bring about a mutual forgiveness and
forgetfulness, and that the condemned, during their penal labour, were
separated from other criminals and treated with leniency; they were
also excused the prison dress. From records of that period it may
clearly be seen how general was the feeling among the higher
magistrates, that the position of the peasant did not come up to the
requirements of the times.

Two years later, also, the German peasants in the Palatinate and in the
Electorate of Mainz danced round the red cap on the tree of freedom.
Incessantly did French influence overspread Germany. The State of the
Great Frederick was shattered; Germany became French up to the Elbe. In
the new French possessions, villeinage and servitude were abolished,
with a haste and recklessness which was intended to win the people to
the new dominion. The Princes of the Rhine Confederation followed this
example, with greater consideration for those whom they patronised; but
still under the strong influence of French ideas. In Prussia the
Governments and people saw, with alarm, how insecure was the
constitution of a State which employed so much the bodies and working
powers of the peasants, and took so little account of their souls. In
the year 1807 the great change in the relations of the country people
began in Prussia; the definition of the rights of the landowners and
peasants has lasted there, with many fluctuations and interruptions,
for half a century, and has not yet arrived at a full conclusion.

At this period the position of the countryman throughout Germany has so
improved, that no other progress of civilization can be compared to it.
The villein of the landowner has--with the exception of Mecklenburg,
where the condition of the middle ages still exists--become the free
citizen of his State; the law protects and punishes him and the
landowner alike; he sends representatives, not of his class only, but
of the nation, in union with the other classes of voters, to the
capital; he has legally ceased everywhere to be a separate order in the
State--in many provinces he has laid aside, with his present dress, his
old frowardness; he begins to dress himself _à la mode_, and--sometimes
in a clumsy, unpleasing form--to take his share in the inventions and
enjoyments of modern civilization. But, however great these changes may
be, they are not yet great enough generally, in Germany, to give the
countryman that position which, as a member of the State, a citizen,
and an agriculturist, he must attain, if the life of the people is to
give an impression in all respects of perfect soundness and power. His
interest in, and comprehension of, that highest earthly concern of
man--the State--is much too little developed; his craving for
instruction and cultivation, considered on the whole, is too small; and
in the larger portion of the Fatherland his soul is still encumbered by
some of the qualities which are nurtured by long oppression, hard
egotism, distrust of men differently moulded, litigiousness,
awkwardness, and a deficient understanding of his rights and position
as a citizen. The minds which have shaken off the old spell are still
in the form of transition which gives them a specially unfinished and
unpleasing aspect.

The agriculture of the German peasantry may still be considered as not
having, on the whole, reached that point which is necessary for an
energetic development of our national strength; nevertheless, we have
reason to rejoice in having made great progress in this direction.
Intellect is everywhere incessantly occupied in introducing to the
simple countryman new discoveries--machines, seeds, and a new method of
cultivation. In some favoured districts the agriculture of the small
farmer can scarcely be distinguished from the well-studied system of
the larger model farms. Nor has the German peasant, in the times of the
deepest depression, like the oppressed Slavonian, ever lost the
instinct of self-acquisition. For the very qualities which are his
characteristics, enduring systematic industry and strict parsimony, are
the groundwork of the highest earthly prosperity. There still subsists,
however, in wide districts, the old thraldom of the three-course system
with rights of common, and all the pressure which this system entails
on individuals. Even well-tested improvements are therefore difficult
to the countryman; because, with all his perseverance, he is yet
wanting in enterprising activity, and because the great scantiness of
his youthful instruction and technical education makes it difficult for
him to comprehend anything new. Thus the development of the German
peasant to greater inward freedom and capacity is steady, but slow. The
noble landed proprietor also, from entirely different reasons,
frequently neglects to raise the culture of the soil by energy,
technical knowledge, and the utmost exertion of his power; and, in like
manner, we find in other branches of production--in manufactures,
trade, commerce, and political life--a corresponding slowness of
progress. It places us still at a disadvantage in comparison with the
better-situated countries of Europe. For the position of Germany among
the States of Europe is such, that all other progress depends on the
development of its own agriculture, that is, on the degree of
intelligence and productive power which is perceptible in this primeval
manly occupation. We have no command of the sea; we have no colonies,
and no subjected countries, to which we can export the produce of our
industry. If this circumstance is perhaps a surety for our stability,
on the other hand it raises the vital importance which the German
countryman and the system of his agriculture exercise on the other
classes of the German people.

If therefore it is allowable to compare two very different phases of
human development, one may well say that the peasant of 1861 has not
yet gained, comparatively with the other classes of the people, the
independence and the conscious power which existed six centuries ago in
the provinces of Reithart von Reuenthal and Farmer Helmbrecht. And
whoever would teach us from the life of the past, how it has happened
that the strength of the nation has passed from the rural districts
into cities, and that the nobleman has raised himself so much above his
neighbour the peasant, must beware of asserting, that this depression
of the country-people is the natural consequence of the establishment
of a higher culture and more artistic forms of life by the side of the
simple agriculture of the lower class. He who follows his plough will
seldom be a member of a company which extend their speculations to the
distant corners of the earth; he will not read Homer in the original,
he will hardly read the work of a German philosopher upon logic, and
the easy intercourse of a modern _salon_ will scarcely be enlivened by
his wit. But the results of the collective culture, of that which the
learned find, which the artist forms, which manufacturers create, must,
at a period when the nation is vigorous and sound, when accessible to
the simple countryman of sound judgment, be comprehended and valued by

Is it necessary that our neighbour the countryman should so seldom read
a good book, and still less often buy one? Is it necessary that he
should, as a rule, take in no other newspaper than the small sheet of
his own district? Is it necessary that it should be unknown to him, and
unfortunately sometimes also to his schoolmaster, how an angle is
determined, a parallelogram measured, and an ellipse drawn? Whoever
would now place a poem of Goethe's in the hand of a peasant woman,
would probably do a useless thing, and raise a dignified smile in a
"well-educated spectator." Must all that we possess of most beautiful
be incomprehensible to half our nation? Six hundred years ago, the poem
of Farmer Helmbrecht was understood in the village parlour, and the
charm of his sonorous verse, the poetry and the warm eloquence of his
language, were appreciated; and the rhythm and measure of those old
songs that accompanied the dances of the thirteenth century are just as
elegant and artistic as the finest verses now in the poems of the
greatest modern poets. There was a time when the German peasant had the
same lively susceptibility for noble poetry which we now assume as the
privilege of the highly educated. Is it necessary that the peasant of
the present day should be deficient in it? The Bohemian village
musician still plays with heartfelt delight the harmonious tones
produced by the genius of Haydn and Mozart; is it necessary that few
other musical sounds should be permitted to the German peasant than the
stale measures of spiritless dances? All this is not necessary;
something of the same barbarism benumbs our life which we perceive with
astonishment in the time of Christian Garve.

What, however, we consider at first as one of the still remaining
weaknesses of the peasants, is also the characteristic weakness of our
whole culture, which has become too artificial, because it has bloomed
in comparatively small and isolated circles of society, without the
regulation and ever-increasing invigoration which the collective
popular mind would have afforded it by cordial reciprocity and warm
sympathy. The peasant's having for so many centuries been a stranger to
social culture has, in the first place, made him weak, and also made
the culture of the other classes too unstable, over-refined, and
sometimes unmanly and impracticable.

                              CHAPTER II.

                    THE LIFE OF THE LOWER NOBILITY.

The lot of the German peasant and of the German noble are closely bound
together; the sufferings of the one become the disease of the other:
the one has been lowered by servitude; the capacity, cultivation, and
worth of the other to the State have been impaired by the privileges of
a favoured position. Now both appear to be convalescent.

The lower German noble, before the beginning of the Thirty Years' War,
was experiencing an important transition; he was about to forget the
traditions of the middle ages, and on the point of gaining a new
importance at court. The predatory Junkers of the saddle had become
quarrelsome, drink-loving landed proprietors.

At the end of the sixteenth century it was still difficult for the sons
of the old robber associates to keep the peace. Whilst they were
fighting with the pen, and intriguing at the Kammergericht,[37] they
were frequently tempted to take forcible revenge; not only the
turbulent knights of the Empire in Franconia, Suabia, and on the Rhine,
but also the vassals of the powerful princes of the Empire who were
under the strong law of the land. Even where they were in the exercise
of their rights, they preferred doing it by violence, from pride in
their own power. Thus George Behr, of Düvelsdorf, in Pomerania, shortly
before the storm of the Thirty Years' War broke upon his province,
hired an armed band in order to obtain club law in a private quarrel;
he also claimed supreme jurisdiction on his property, in 1628 he caused
a former secretary of his family who had forged the seal of his master
and drawn a false bond, to be hung on a gallows without any further
ado, and at his leisure gave a laconic account of it to his duke.[38]

Much of the old roistering remained in the daily life of the country
noblemen; they were still prone, as once in the middle ages, to excite
quarrels in the inns and under the village lindens. The young wore
embroidered clothes with concealed weapons, an iron ring in the hat,
and low morions; besides this, very long rapiers and stilettoes, and in
the eastern frontier countries, also Hungarian axes. Thus they went in
crowds to the popular festivals and marriages, especially when these
took place in the households of the hated citizens. There they began
quarrels with the populace and invited guests; they behaved with
offensive petulance, and sometimes committed grievous outrages; they
burst open the doors of the houses, broke into the women's rooms when
they had gone to rest, and into the cellars of the householders. It was
not always easy to obtain justice against the offenders, but in some
provinces the complaints were so loud and general that, as for example
in the Imperial hereditary lands, numerous ordinances appeared
enforcing the duty of giving information of such villanies. Those most
complained of were the rovers who settled here and there in the
country. They were, in the worst cases, compelled to serve at their own
cost against the hereditary enemy,[39] so difficult is it to eradicate
old evil habits. The quarrels also of the country nobles among
themselves were endless. In vain were they denounced by the ordinances
of the rulers, in vain did they declare that it was not necessary for
the person challenged to come forward.[40] The language of the Junker
was rich in strong expressions, and custom had stamped some of these as
unpardonable offences. At this period, after the termination of
tournaments, armorial bearings and ancestors became of great
importance; marriages with ladies not of noble birth became less
frequent; they were eager to blazon coats of arms and genealogies, and
endeavoured to show a pure descent through many generations of
ancestors, in which there was frequently great difficulty, not only
from the want of church books and records, but from other causes.
Whoever endeavoured, therefore, to force a quarrel with another, found
fault with his pedigree, his knightly position, name, and armorial
bearings, and questioned his four descents. Such an offence could only
be appeased by blood. To diminish these brawls, shortly before the
Thirty Years' War, courts of honour were here and there introduced. The
ruler of the country or feudal lord was president; the assessors,
noblemen of distinction, formed the court of honour. The parties chose
three companions, through whom letters of challenge and apologies were
transmitted; and in order to make these subtle formalities easy to
those who had little practice in writing, a form was accurately
prescribed for such letters of summons.

Whilst thus the poorer nobles of the country struggled at home against
the new _régime_, the more enterprising were led by the old German love
of travelling into foreign parts. The noble youths willingly followed
the drum, and even before 1618 it was a frequent complaint that the
Junkers of the nobility had everywhere promotion in the army, whilst it
was difficult for a man of worth and capacity, from the people, to rise
from the ranks. Even before 1618 the heirs of rich families of
pretension, travelled to France, there to learn the language and the
art of war, and to cultivate their minds. Not only in Paris, but in
other great cities of France, they congregated in such numbers, as do
now the idle Russians and English; they only too often endeavoured to
resemble the French in immorality and duels, and were even then
notorious as awkward imitators of foreign customs. Even before 1618
most of the western German courts were so devoted to French manners,
that French was considered the elegant language for conversation and
writing. Thus it was in the court of Frederick the Palatine, the winter
king of Bohemia.

The cleverest of the nobility, however, sought for fine manners,
pleasures, and office in the courts of the numerous German princes.
After the abdication of Charles V. a jovial life prevailed not only at
the Imperial court, but also in those of the greater princes of the
Empire, above all in Electoral Saxony, Bavaria, Würtemberg, and the
Palatinate. Besides great hunting parties and drinking bouts, there
were also great court festivals; masquerades, knightly exercises, and
prize-shooting had become the fashion, especially at coronations,
marriages, christenings, and visits of ceremony. The old tournaments
were sham fights, fine scenic representations, in which the costume and
the dramatic show were of more importance than the passage of arms
itself. As early as 1570 they were arranged according to the Spanish
custom, when the new fashion of running at the ring was introduced.
Great stages, with mythological and allegorical figures, were drawn in
procession on these occasions. The contending parties appeared in
wonderful attire; they strove together for prizes, as challengers and
knight-errants--_manuten adoren_ and _avantureros_--or married men
against bachelors, man against man and troop against troop, not
only on horse but on foot But the weapons were blunt, the spears so
prepared that they must break at the weakest shock, and the number
of thrusts and passes which one could make against another was
accurately prescribed. The whole was announced to the spectators by a
cartel--written invitation or challenge: it was printed and posted up,
and explained to the public. Some of these specimens of the composition
of educated people of the court have been preserved to us; for example,
a cartel of 1570, when the Emperor Maximilian II. had assembled a large
circle of nobles around him, in which a necromancer, Zirfeo, announced
that he knew of three worthy heroes enchanted in a mountain,--King
Arthur and his companions, Sigestab the Strong, and Ameylot the
Happy,--whom he would disenchant, and arouse to a struggle against
adventurers. At the festival itself a great wooden structure was
presented to view, which represented a rock with an infernal opening,
ravens flew out of it, devils danced busily round its summit, and
scattered fire about them; at last the magician himself appeared, made
his incantations, the hill opened, the knights sprang up into daylight
in ancient armour, and awaited the foreign combatants, who in equally
strange costume encountered them. Even before 1600, gala days,
including pastoral _fêtes_, were announced with a flourish by similar
cartels, sometimes in verse, as, after the great war, were the common
village weddings and fairs. These were especially welcome to the
authorities and nobles, because in them etiquette was suspended, and
many opportunities given for free pleasantry and confidential

In some courts, as at that of the Anhaltiners, the Landgrave of Hesse,
and the Duke Philip of Pomerania, the nobles had opportunities of
turning their attention to education, and the acquisition of knowledge;
at these courts they began already to take pleasure in the possession
of objects of art. The Emperor Rudolph collected the pictures of Albert
Dürer, and the princes and some of the wealthy nobles around them
collected rare coins, weapons, drinking-cups, and the works of the
goldsmiths of Nüremberg and the cabinet makers of Augsburg. The
patricians of the great Imperial cities, superior in education to the
court nobility, as political agents and managers of the Imperial
princes, were the purveyors of these novelties of art to the German
courts and their cavaliers. It was not an unheard-of thing to find a
courtier who avoided long drinking bouts, and knew how to value a
conversation upon the course of the world; nay, could even compose a
Latin distich, and leave to his heirs a collection of books; and it was
even considered honourable among the better sort to concern themselves
about their households, and to increase, as far as possible, the
revenues of their property.

On the whole, the importance of the nobility at court had increased
even before the war, as well as the oppression which they exercised
over their dependent country-people; yet, in an equal degree--nay,
indeed, beyond them--the free strength of the nation irresistibly
developed itself. The new culture of the Reformation period, introduced
by burgher theologians and professors, brought into contempt the
coarseness of the country Junkers. The business affairs of the princes
and their territories, the places in the _Kammergericht_, the _Spruch
Collegien_, or (consultative legal boards) of the Universities; indeed
almost the whole administration of justice and government ceased to be
in the hands of the nobles; the greatest opulence and comfort were
introduced into the cities by trade and commerce. Thus, up to the year
1618, the nation was in a fair way to overcome the egotistical
Junkerdom of the Middle Ages, and of putting down pretensions which had
become incompatible with the new life.

It was one of the ruinous consequences of the great war, that all this
was changed. It broke the strength of the burgher class, and the
weakness of the nobility was fostered, under the protection which was
secured to it in most of the provinces by the new military discipline
of the princes and, above all, of the Imperial court, to the prejudice
of the masses. As the income of the landed proprietor was diminished,
he drew his chief advantage from the labour of the working peasant. The
families of the country nobility being decimated, the Imperial court
was very ready to procure a new nobility for money. In the course of
the war the captain or colonel had willingly bought with his booty a
letter of nobility and some devastated property. After the peace, these
nobles by patent became a hateful extension of the order. A childish
offensive tuft-hunting, a worship of rank, servility and a greed for
titles and outward distinctions, were now general in the cities. The
commercial cities on the North Sea were those that suffered least, and
those countries most which were immediately dependent on the Imperial
court. It was customary then in Vienna to accost as noblemen all those
who appeared to have a right to social pretensions.

Among the mass of privileged persons who now considered themselves as a
peculiar ruling class, in contradistinction to the people, there was
undoubtedly the greatest difference in culture and capacity; but no
injustice is done to many honourable, and some distinguished men, when
the fact is brought forward, that the period from 1650 to 1750, in
which the nobility ruled, and were of most importance, was the worst in
the whole of the long history of Germany.

Undoubtedly, in the time of weakness since 1648, a most comfortable
life was led by the wealthy scion of an old family, who possessed large
property, and was protected by old alliances with influential persons
and rulers. His sons gained profitable court appointments, or high
military places; and his daughters, who were well dowered, increased
the circle of his influential "friends." The landed proprietor himself
had served in the army, had travelled to France or Holland, and brought
with him from thence a number of curiosities; arms and painted articles
from the Eastern nations, a hollow ostrich-egg, polished shells,
artistically carved cherry-stones, and painted pottery, or marble limbs
that had been dug up in Italy. He had, perhaps, somewhere favoured a
learned man with his acquaintance, and received from time to time a
ponderous legal treatise, or a volume of poems, with a respectful
letter. He might have visited in his travels the courts of Anhalt or
Weimar, and been created, by letters patent, a poet or author; he was
member of the _Frucht-bringende Gesellschaft_[41] (the Fruit-Producing
Society), had a beautiful medal attached to a silk ribbon, on which his
herb, sage or, mint--or, if he had been sarcastic at court--a radish,
was represented; he bore the surname of "Scarifier," and comforted
himself with the motto--"Sharp and Nutritious;"[42] and he sometimes
wrote letters on the improvement of the German mother tongue,
unfortunately with many French phrases. For his own information he,
with other cavaliers of education, took in, at considerable cost, a
written newspaper, which a well-instructed man in the capital secretly
sent to good customers; for it was revolting to him to read the common,
superficial scribbling of the printed newspapers. He spoke some French,
perhaps also Italian; and if he had been at a University, which did not
frequently happen, he might be able to recite a Latin lucubration. In
this case he was probably commissary of the ruler of the country, a
dignitary of his province; then he had business journeys, and
occasionally negotiations, and he managed, to the best of his power,
what was intrusted to him, with the help of his secretaries. He was
courteous, even to those who were beneath him, and was on good terms
with the citizens. He looked down upon the people with confident
self-complacency; he was, in fact, high bred, and knew right well that
his nobility did not rest on many titles, nor on the knightly ensigns
on his escutcheon; and he smiled at the Lions, Bears, Turks'-heads, and
Wild men, which were painted on the coats of arms, and bestowed by the
heralds' office at Vienna. He regarded with contempt the French
nobility, among whom, through Paris merchants and Italian adventurers,
too much foreign blood had been intermingled; on the Hungarians, who
complacently allowed their nobility to be conferred for a bow and a
chancery fee by the Palatine; on the Danes, whose noblemen had a
monopoly of the cattle trade; and on the Italians, who made unceasing
_mésalliances_. The fine-gentleman airs, also, of the greater part of
his German equals annoyed him: for even at the meeting of his States he
had frequent contentions for precedence, especially with the prince's
councillors, who were not of the nobility, but wished to assert the
privileges of their rank. If there were citizens and noble councillors
in the same board, to these in the sittings, a higher position and
seniority in office, gave the priority; but at banquets and all
representations, according to Imperial decision, the nobleman, as he
well knew, had the precedence. It was his usual complaint, that the
nobles themselves assumed their titles, armorial bearings, and
dignities, or sought them in foreign countries; also that, whoever had
received the diploma of count or baron from the Imperial chancery,
expected to be called _Reichsgräfliche_ or _Reichsfreiherrliche
Gnaden_, literally Countly or Baronial Grace, and speaks of himself in
the royal plural.[43] The worthy gentleman still retained some of the
traditions of knighthood; a valiant officer was treated by him with
respect, and he valued arms and horses much. The best adornment of the
walls of his well-built house, besides the great family pictures, were
beautiful weapons, pistols, _couteaux-de-chasse_, and every kind of
hunting implement. By the side of the flower-garden, kitchen-garden,
and orchard, lay a riding-ground, where were to be found apparatus for
riding at the ring, or for breaking light wooden lances at the
_faquin_, or _quintin_, a wooden figure. His horses had still Italian
or French names,--Furioso, Bellarina, &c., for as yet the English blood
had not been introduced; they had been bred from Neapolitan and
Hungarian horses. Turkish nags, as now the pony, were much sought
after; thoroughbred horses bore a comparatively higher price than now,
for the long war had shamefully lowered the breed of horses throughout
Europe. His dog-kennel was well furnished, for, besides bulldogs, he
required hounds, pointers, and terriers; to these influential
companions of his life he also gave high sounding names--Favour,
Rumour, &c. It is true, the chase of the higher game was the right of
his sovereign; but the hateful custom of _baiting_ the game had been
long ago introduced into the country from France. Thus he rode eagerly
with his hounds after hares and foxes, or, by invitation, he
accompanied[44] some great lord deer-hunting, and received visits from
some friendly court official, who had the command of some falcons,
which were flown at crows. In October he was not ashamed of going after
larks, and inspecting the sprynges. He began the day decorously, and
ended it with pleasure; he regularly took an aperient, was bled, and
went to church; he held every week his magisterial or justice days.
After the morning greetings with his family, on leisure days he had his
horses exercised; in the harvest week he rode to the fields, and looked
after the reapers and the inspector. A great portion of his time was
passed in visits which he received or made in the neighbourhood. At his
repast, which took place soon after twelve, game played the principal
part; if he had guests, seven or eight dishes were served generally at
the same time. If conversation took a high flight, politics were
cautiously touched upon, matters of faith very unwillingly; many fine
sentences and maxims were still in vogue with people of the world; it
was considered refined to quote writers of antiquity or elegant French
authors without pedantry; the peculiarities of foreign nations, and
also the curiosities of natural history, as known from reading and
observation, were gladly discussed. It was considered good taste to
inquire the opinions of individuals by turns. Such conversation, even
among cavaliers of the highest quality, would appear to us more formal
and pedantic than what we should meet with now in the society of poor
schoolmasters; but even from this conversation, of which some
accidental specimens remain to us, we may discover, in spite of a
narrow point of view and numerous prejudices, the striving of the time
for enlightenment and understanding of the world. Usually, indeed, the
conversation runs on family stories, compliments, doubtful anecdotes,
and coarse jokes. There was much deep drinking, and only the most
refined withdrew from drinking bouts.

Sometimes a social meeting with ladies was arranged in another place,
at an hotel or inn; then each lady provided some dishes, the gentlemen
wine and music. If there was a bath in the neighbourhood, a journey to
it was seldom neglected. Shooting matches were arranged, with appointed
prizes, "the first was, then, an ox or a ram;" the gentlemen shot
either together or with the populace. The dress, also, of the landed
proprietor was splendid; his rank might be recognised from afar, for
the old ordinances respecting dress were still maintained, and a value
was placed upon their wardrobe, both by men and women, which we can now
scarcely comprehend. Before the war no insignificant portion of the
property was vested in velvet and gold embroidery, in rings and jewels;
the greater portion of this was lost, but pleasure in such possessions
remained, and the jewels of the daughter long continued an essential
part of her dowry.

Numerous were the members of the household, amongst whom there were
frequently some original characters. Perhaps, besides the tutor, there
might be an old soldier of the great war, addicted to drinking, who
knew how to relate many stories about Torstenson, or Jean de Worth; he
taught the nobleman's son to fence, and "to play with the Banner."[45]
There seldom failed to be a poor relation of the family, who ruled over
the kennel by the title of "Master of the Chase;" the preserver of
mysterious hunting customs, he knew how to charm the gun, and had
greater acquaintance with the infernal night-hunter than the pastor of
the place thought right; he was considered as a trusty piece of old
household furniture, and would assuredly have sacrificed his life
without hesitation for his cousin; but he did not scruple to procure
more wood for the peasant, with whom he drank at the inn, than was
right; and if the old Junker had his _couteau-de-chasse_ ornamented
with silver, the origin of which was doubtful, the landed proprietor
was obliged to wink at it.[46]

Thus passed the life of a wealthy landowner between 1650 and 1700. It
was perhaps not quite so worthy as it might have been, but it may have
transmitted to the next generation family feeling and kindliness of
heart. Yet it must be observed that it was only a very small minority
of the German nobility who were in so favoured a position in the
seventeenth century.

Those who wished to make their fortunes in foreign lands far from their
families, were threatened with other dangers, from which only the most
energetic could escape. The wars in Hungary and Poland, the shameful
struggle against France, and a long residence in Paris, were not
calculated to preserve good morals. The vices of the East, and of the
corrupt court of France were brought by them into Germany. The old love
of quarrelling was not improved by the new cavalier cartel, the
profligate intercourse with peasant women and noble ladies of easy
virtue, became worse by the nightly orgies of fashionable cavaliers, at
which they represented festive processions with mythological
characters, and draped themselves as Dryads, and their ladies as
Venuses and nymphs.[47] The old Landsknecht game of dice was not worse
than the new game of hazard, which became prevalent at the baths and
courts, and which foreign adventurers now added to those of the

But there are two more classes of nobles of that period who appear to
us still more strange and grotesque, both numerous, and both in strong
contrast to one another. They were designated as city nobles and
country nobles, and expressed their mutual antipathy by the use of the
ignominious terms _Pfeffersäcke_ and _Krippenreiter_.[48]

Vain and restless citizens strove to exalt themselves by acquiring the
Emperor's patent of nobility. These patents had of old been a favourite
source of income to needy German emperors. Wenzel and Sigismund had
unsparingly ennobled traders and persons of equivocal character: in
short, every one who was ready to pay a certain amount of florins. On
the other hand, in 1416, at the Council of Constance, the princes and
nobles of the Rhine, Saxony, Suabia, and Bavaria, had set up their
backs, made a revision of their own circle, and cashiered the
intruders. But the Emperor's patents did not cease on that account.
Charles V. himself, who sometimes looked down on the German lords with
galling irony, and willingly gave to his chancellor and secretaries the
chance of perquisites, had the sad repute "of audaciously raising, for
a few ducats, every salt-boiler to the order of nobility." Still more
business-like were these proceedings under Ferdinand II. and his
successor. For after the Thirty Years' War, not only the living, but
the bones in the graves of their ancestors were ennobled, nay, the dead
ancestors were even declared worthy of being admitted into noble
foundations and to tournaments. At last, after 1648, this traffic of
the Imperial court was carried on to such an extent that the princes
and states at the breaking up of the Imperial Diet of 1654, and a
hundred years later at the election of Charles VII., protested against
the detriment which accrued to their own rights of sovereignty and
revenues from such a privilege. The newly ennobled in the cities were
therefore not to be exempt from the burdens of citizens, and the
possessor of a property by villein tenure was not to be invested with
the privileges attached to a noble estate. In vain did the Imperial
court threaten those with punishment who would not concede the
purchased privileges to its patents of nobility. Those also who were
declared fit for tournaments and noble benefices, were not on that
account received into any knightly order, or noble endowment, nor in
any old noble provincial unions. The noble benefices generally did not
take patents of nobility, as proofs of noble extraction; it was only
the members of old noble families possessing no such patents who were
admissible into these endowments. It was only exceptionally that these
corporations gave way to a high recommendation. Even the court offices,
those of chamberlain, groom of the bed-chamber, equerry, hunting and
other noble pages, were privileges of the old nobility. The patents of
nobility never forgot to celebrate the virtues and the services
rendered both to the prince and commonwealth by the newly ennobled and
his ancestors; but, as a zealous defender of the old nobility
complains, it was too well-known that, in general, it was only for the
"_Macherlohn_" (pay, for the making) that nobility was given.

In the larger cities, which were not the residence of princes, the
position of the nobility was very different. In Hamburg, Lübeck, and
Bremen, the nobles had no political weight; on the other hand, at
Nüremberg, Frankfort-on-the-Maine, Augsburg, and Ulm, the old race of
nobility lived in proud isolation from the rest of the citizens. Worst
of all were the Nürembergers, who considered it even degrading to carry
on commerce. Of two noble societies of Frankfort-on-the-Maine, one, the
house of Alten-Limpurg, required of every member who presented himself
for admission, eight ancestors, and that he should keep out of trade;
the other society, of the house of Frauenstein, consisted mostly of
newly-ennobled merchants "of distinction." In Augsburg, the old
patricians were more indulgent to merchants: he who had married the
child of a patrician family, could be received into the noble society.
The remaining commercial cities of note, Prague and Breslau, were most
amply supplied with newly ennobled merchants. There was bitter
complaint that, under the Emperor Leopold, even a chimney-sweeper,
whose trade was then in particularly low esteem, could for a little
money procure nobility, and that frequently tradesmen, with patents of
nobility in their pockets, might be found packing up herrings for their
customers in old paper.

After the Thirty Years' War, officers also sought for patents of
nobility, and they were often granted to them for their services, as
also to the higher officials and members of the city administration in
the larger cities.

It was through families who had taken part in the literary and poetical
culture of the time, that patents of nobility in this and the following
century entered into our literary class. Many poets of the Silesian
school, nay, Leibnitz, Wolf, and Haller, were placed among the
privileged of their time by patents of nobility, which they themselves
or their fathers had acquired.

Wholesale traders were never esteemed in Germany, nor held in that
consideration by the privileged classes of the people, which the great
interest they frequently represented deserved. They had of old been
mistrusted and disliked; this originated, perhaps, in the time when the
astute Romans exchanged, among the simple children of Tuisko, the
foreign silver coin, for the early products of the country. The feudal
system of the Middle Ages required this disregard of wealth, and not
less so Christianity, which commanded men to despise the riches of this
world, and granted to the wealthy so little prospect of the Kingdom of
Heaven. Since the time of the Hohenstaufen, after the nobles were
constituted as a privileged order, the antagonism between the rich
money-makers of the city and the needy warriors of the country, was
more and more strongly developed. In the Hanse Towns of the north
undoubtedly the warlike merchant obtained dominion and respect by his
armed vessels, even in distant countries. But the rich and highly
cultivated gentlemen of Nüremberg and Augsburg, were scarcely less
distasteful to the people than to the princes and nobles who dwelt in
predatory habits on the frontiers of their domain; it was not the
Fuggers alone who were accused by the Reformers of usury and un-German
feeling. After the Thirty Years' War, this enmity bore new fruit, and
one can easily believe that the great merchants gave no little occasion
to keep alive such antipathy. No human occupation requires such free
competition and such unfettered intercourse as trade. But the whole
tendency of the olden time was to fence in from the outer world, and to
protect individuals by privileges; such a tendency of the time could
not fail to make the merchant hard and reckless; his endeavours to
obtain a monopoly, and to evade senseless laws with respect to the
interest of money, gave the people, frequently with justice, the
feeling that the gains of the merchant were produced by the pressure
they exercised on the consumer. This feeling became particularly
vigorous after the Thirty Years' War. Whilst in Holland and in England
the modern middle classes were pre-eminently strengthened by widely
extended commerce, German commerce--except in the larger sea-port
towns--was prevented from attaining a sound development by the
subdivision of territory, the arbitrary dues, the varying standard of
money, and, not least, by the poverty of the people; on the other hand,
there was constant temptation to every kind of usurious traffic. The
diversity of German coinage, and the unscrupulousness of the rulers,
favoured an endless _kipperei_: to buy up good coin at an advantage, to
clip gold of full weight, and to bring light money into circulation,
became the most profitable occupation. As now, multifarious
stockjobbing, so then, illegal traffic in coined metal, was to a great
extent the plague of commercial towns. It was not to be exterminated.
If sometimes the scandal became too great, then indeed the governments
tried a blundering interference: but their courts were hoodwinked.
Thus, in Frankfort-on-the-Maine, the clipping of ducats was carried on
to such an extent, that a special commission was sent from Vienna to
the free Imperial city; Jews had been the _colporteurs_ of Christian
commercial houses, among which many great firms, whose names are still
in existence, were the great culprits. The only result was that the
Imperial commissaries pocketed the larger portion of the illicit gains.

Such wealth, acquired rapidly, and contrary to law, had, as now, all
the characteristics of an unstable acquisition: it seldom lasted to the
third generation. It turned the culprits into spendthrifts and
pleasure-seekers; their arrogance and deficiency of culture, and their
ostentation, became especially offensive to their own fellow-citizens.
It was more particularly such individuals who bought patents of
nobility; and it was assuredly no accident that, of the numerous noble
families of this kind, many in proportion have become extinct.

One of the newly ennobled of such a circle kept his real name in the
firm, but among his fellow-citizens he adhered jealously to the
privileges of his new order. He liked to have his coat of arms carved
in stone and richly gilt on the outside of his large house, but the
stone did not guarantee long duration to its possessor. It was
striking, for example, to observe in Breslau, how quickly the houses on
the great crescent, which then belonged almost exclusively to the new
patent nobles, changed their possessors. In the interior of the house
ostentatious luxury was displayed, which in this period of misery was
doubly grating to the people. The rooms were decorated with costly
carpets, with Venetian mirrors of immense size, with silk hangings and
tapestry, which on festive occasions were fixed on the walls or on a
special framework, and afterwards removed. The women sewed diamond
buckles on their shoes, and it was a subject of complaint that they
would wear no lace that was not brought from Venice or Paris, and did
not cost at least twenty thalers the ell; nay, it was reported of them
that their night utensils were of silver. Great was the number of their
lackeys; their carriages were richly gilt, the coachmen drove from a
high box four horses, which were then harnessed abreast; but when the
splendid equipage rattled through the streets, the people called out
deridingly, "That the pot always tasted of the first soup." The rich
man could well keep fine horses, as he at the same time traded in them;
and the workmen in the business, the porter, carpenter, and apprentice,
were put into the costume of lackeys, but the page who went behind the
lady was generally a child from the poor school. In such houses there
was also the most luxurious living. The invited guest was received with
a formality that was then characteristic of the highly educated; the
host met him on the staircase, and to one of the highest distinction
went even to the house door; verbose were the compliments on receiving
precedence or the higher place at table, and yet the greatest value was
attached to not humbling themselves too much. As soon as they were
seated at table, the buffet was opened, in which was a mass of costly
plate. The dishes were large and the viands in keeping, but out of all
proportion to the number of guests; the most expensive things were
procured, with a refinement that still astonishes us; great pies,
filled with various game, black game, pike liver, and Italian salad.
The pheasants and partridges were caponed and fed, a brace cost as much
as a ducat; it was thought horrible that these spendthrifts gave a
gulden for a fresh herring, and from eight to ten thalers for a hundred
oysters. To these were added the costly wines of the seventeenth
century, Tokay, Canary, Marzenin, Frontignac, Muscat, and finally wine
of Lebanon; at dessert there was no longer marchpane, but candied
citron, the fashionable delicacy. The ladies sat adorned and silent. It
was complained that their principal anxiety in the choice of a husband
was, that their intended should be of rank, that they might follow near
to the corpse at funerals, and have a high place at weddings. On such
occasions they went little short of boxing each other's ears for
precedence. So far was the eagerness for rank carried, that he
considered himself materially better whose new patent of nobility dated
ten years earlier than that of another; and these city nobles
considered fresh creations in nowise their equals. Whoever had been
lately ennobled was only called "Wohledel" (just ennobled), but he who
had for some time been in possession of his patent, was called,
"Hoch-and-edelgeborne Gestrengigkeit" (high and noble-born worship).
Every effort was made to obtain a title in addition to their city

The military dignities also of the city were often occupied by the
greenhorns of such families; a poor wight who had never been on a
battle-field, with a staff thickly set with silver, with armed jäger
behind him, might be seen passing daily from city gate to city gate, in
order to parade before the people, and to receive the salute of the

Only one thing was required of him, he must know how to handle his
sword, for duels were part of the existence of the nobleman. It was
desirable for him to have been at least once called out by cartel. He
then rode with his second to the nearest village; behind a hedge he
pulled off his riding-boots, put on light fencing shoes, fastened his
long curly hair under his cap,[49] took off his upper garments, and had
to choose one of the rapiers which were presented to him. They fought
in rounds, by cut and thrust, and a well-settled duel never failed to
be followed by a reconciliatory drinking bout. They liked to boast of
such heroic deeds.

Such were the "_Pfeffersäcke_," who were called also by the country
nobles, "_Heringsnasen_" (flatnoses). This country nobility was of
quite another stamp.

They were more numerous two centuries ago than at present. Besides the
family seat, they possessed village-houses, and small farms. Sometimes
a family had increased so much, that in the neighbourhood of an old
estate, many villages were occupied by relatives; and still more
frequently did branches of different families dwell indiscriminately in
a village, in every grade of authority. Even in our century there have
been middle-sized villages, enclosing ten, twelve, and more gentlemen's
seats. In such districts, each little despot exercised dominion over a
few miserable villagers, and had a seigneurial right to a portion of
the village district; but the poorest had no real property, and
sometimes only rented their dwellings. Thus it was in almost all the
provinces of Germany, more especially east of the Elbe, in the
colonised Sclavonian countries; also in Franconia, Thuringia, and
Swabia. Many of the _Junkers_ only differed from the other country
people in their pretensions, and their contempt for field labour. Even
before the war, most of them had been impoverished, and when peace came
at last, they were in still worse plight. War and pestilence had made
havoc among them, and the survivors had not become better. The more
powerful had tried their luck as soldiers and partisans, differing
little sometimes from highway robbers. During the war  they had laid
out their booty in the purchase of some small estate, on which they
dwelt, restless and discontented. These fortunate individuals received
frequent visits from old comrades, and then ventured to make raids from
their property on their own account, which seldom ended without
bloodshed. After the war they ceased plundering; but the lawlessness,
the craving for excitement, the restless roving, and the inclination
for wild revelry and quarrels remained in the next generation. They
united themselves into a large company, which, in spite of endless
brawls, continued to hold together, like entangled water-plants on a
marsh. This family connection became a ceaseless plague to the better
disposed, and a misfortune for the whole class; and more than any other
evil retarded, during the following century, the culture, civilisation,
and prosperity of the landed nobility.

The sons of these poor landowners learnt to ride, dance, and fence, and
perhaps the first rudiments of Latin from a poor candidate; then, if
the father had connections, they served as pages at some small court,
or to a distinguished nobleman. There they learnt, to a certain extent,
good manners; and, more certainly, the weaknesses and vices of the
higher orders. If they remained some years in noble service they were,
according to old usage, declared capable of bearing arms, and released
as Junkers with a gracious box on the ear. Then they returned to the
parental estate, or the parents sold what they could spare to procure
them an outfit befitting a gentleman, and sent them as aspirants for
subaltern places in the Imperial army. Few of them prospered in the
inglorious wars of that period; most returned home, after some
campaigns, corrupted and poor both in honour and booty, to share with
their sisters the paternal inheritance. Soon they differed little from
the relations who had remained at home.

These landowners dwelt in buildings of clay and wood, roofed with straw
or shingles,--a sufficient number of casual descriptions and drawings
have been preserved to us; across the roof lay the great fire-ladders;
the front and back doors of the hall were provided with crossbars for
closing them at night. On the ground-floor was the large sitting-room;
near it the spacious kitchen, which was a warm abode for the servants;
next the sitting-room there was a walled vault, with iron gratings to
the window, and if possible with iron doors, as a protection against
thieves and fire,--whatever valuables a landowner possessed were kept
there, and if a sum of money was deposited there, a special watchman
was placed before the house. Above this vault, in the upper floor, was
the bedroom of the master of the house; there was the marriage-bed, and
there also was a concealed safe, either in the wall or floor, wherein
some plate and the jewellery of the women were kept. The children, the
tutor, and the housekeeper slept in small closets, which could not be
warmed, divided by trellis-work. Sometimes a wooden gallery was
attached to the upper floor, the "little pleasure walk;" there the
linen was dried, the farmyard inspected, and the work of the women
done. The house was under the special care of some old trooper, or poor
cousin, who slept within as watcher. Wild dogs roamed about the
farmyard and round the house during the night; these were specially
intended to guard against beggars and vagrants. But all these measures
of precaution could not entirely hinder the inroads of armed bands.
Even a good-sized estate was an unsatisfactory possession. Most of the
landowners were deeply in debt; ruinous lawsuits, which had begun
during the war, were pending over hearth and hill. The farm was carried
on wretchedly under the superintendence of a poor relation or
untrustworthy bailiff; the farm-buildings were bad and falling into
ruins, and there was no money, and frequently no good wood wherewith to
renew them. For the woods had suffered much from the war; where there
was an opportunity of sale, the foreign commanders had caused large
forests to be felled and sold. In the neighbourhood of fortified places
the stems were employed for fortifications, which then required large
quantities of wood; and after the peace much was felled for the
necessary erection of villages and suburbs. The farm also bore little
produce. Not only teams, but hands, were wanting for the tillage; and
the average price of corn, after the war, was so low that the product
hardly paid for the carriage, and in consequence they kept few horses.
New capital was difficult to acquire; money was dear, and mortgages on
the properties of nobles were not considered an advantageous
investment. They, undoubtedly, gave a certain amount of security; but
the interest was too often irregularly payed, and the capital could not
easily be recovered. The acquisition of mortgaged goods, also, by the
creditor, was possible only in certain cases, and by tedious
proceedings; it was sometimes even dangerous, for the friends and
neighbours of the debtor would threaten the new possessor with their
hatred. In the eastern frontier countries the dissatisfied creditors
endeavoured to indemnify themselves by selling their bonds to Polish
nobles. These procured the money by making reprisals on travellers from
the district of the debtor, and taking the sum from the first comers.
This had, indeed, happened before the great war; and repeated
prohibitions show how much commerce suffered from those deeds of
violence.[50] By such evils even a sensible landed proprietor was soon
easily thrown into a desperate position. A bad harvest, or a mortality
among the cattle, would probably ruin him. But the chief evil was that
a great number had not sense enough to occupy themselves perseveringly
with their farming, and to limit their expenses within the certain
income of the property. Thus few were prosperous. Most of them passed
their lives amidst embarrassments, lawsuits, and endless debts; even
those who had entered on the possession of their property with better
hopes, became at last, like the greater number of those of their own
class, members of the great association which the people nicknamed

These impoverished gentlemen rode in bands from farm to farm; they
invaded the neighbourhood like troublesome parasites whenever a feast
was celebrated, whenever they scented the provisions in the kitchen and
cellar. Woe to the new acquaintance whom they picked up at the houses
of others; they immediately volunteered to accompany him home for a day
or week. Where they had once quartered themselves it was very difficult
to get rid of them. Not select in their intercourse, they drank and
brawled with the peasants at the tavern; when drunk, they would do a
citizen, with a full purse, the honour of receiving him into their
brotherhood. Then kneeling amid broken glasses and flasks, the
brotherhood was sealed, eternal fidelity sworn, and generally, he, was
denounced as the worst scoundrel, who did not preserve unbroken
friendship. Such brotherhood did not, however, prevent a great fight
the very next hour. But, common as they made themselves on these
occasions, they never forgot that they were "wild noblemen of ancient
family." Citizens, and those who had patents of nobility from the
Emperor might, indeed, become brothers. This kind of familiarity was
after the way of the world, but he could not obtain the acknowledgment
of family association conveyed by the terms "uncle" and "cousin;" and
even if allied to them by marriage, he was not admitted to their
relationship unless he were of noble race. Their children went about in
tatters; their wives sometimes collected provisions from relations, and
they themselves trotted over the stubble on shaggy horses, in old
greatcoats, with a bit of carved wood instead of a second pistol in the
old holster. Their usual place of rest was at the village tavern, or,
if they came to a town, in the worst inn. Their language was coarse,
full of stable expressions and oaths. They had adopted many of the
usages of the rogues, both in language and habits; they smelt of
"_finckeljochen_" (a bad kind of spirit) more than was agreeable to
others. They were, indeed, ragamuffins; and, with all their pugnacity,
without real courage. They were considered the pest of the country, and
those who had anything to lose compared them to bluebottle-flies; more
than once sharp decrees[51]  were issued against them by the different
rulers, and even from the Imperial court, but they were,
notwithstanding, haughty and thoroughly aristocratic-minded fellows.
Their genealogy, their escutcheons, and their family connection were to
them the highest things upon earth. Unbounded was the hate and contempt
with which they regarded the rich citizens; they were always ready to
begin a quarrel with the newly ennobled, if they did not give them
their full titles, or presumed to bear a coat of arms similar to their

The following account will make us better acquainted with these
fellows, and their mode of intercourse. It carries us to the right bank
of the Oder in Silesia, a corner of Germany where "_Krippenreiterei_"
was particularly bad. There, according to an old popular jest, the
devil burst the sack when he endeavoured to carry off in the air a
number of "_Krippenreiters_," and thus emptied out the whole rubbish on
this district.

The following description is taken from the narrative entitled "The
Nobleman," written a few years before his death, by Paul Winckler, a
Silesian, political agent and councillor at Breslau of the great
Elector; he died 1686. The narrative was first published after his
death in two editions, and finally at Nüremberg, 1697-8. There is no
great skill or invention in it, but it is the more useful here on that
account. Winckler was a well-educated man of the world, and an eminent
jurist, and his numerous travels and alliances, and accurate knowledge
of the condition of the German landed proprietors, made him
particularly capable of forming a sound judgment. He possessed also
qualities which are not rarely found in a Silesian; he knew how to
accommodate himself easily to the world, was a cheerful companion,
impartial in judgment, and a lively narrator. His being a member of the
"_Fruchtbringende_," or literary society, probably contributed to keep
alive his interest in German literature, and encouraged him to modest
attempts at authorship. But he was too sensible a man not to regard
with contempt the purist pedantry with which the associates of his
society endeavoured to raise the German poetry. "They sit behind the
kitchen of Parnassus, and satisfy themselves with the odour of the
roast." He was about fifty when he wrote his narrative, confined to his
room by the gout. His object was to point out by a portraiture, what a
right sort of nobleman ought to be; for it had been his fate,
throughout his whole life, to live in business relations and personal
intercourse with the nobles of different provinces. His wife was a
descendant of the poet Von Logau, and he himself was nephew of Andreas
Gryphius. His own experience undoubtedly gave him a peculiarly sharp
eye for the absurdities of the privileged classes, but he was the true
son of his time, and preserved at heart a deep respect for genuine
nobility. His narrative, therefore, is not by any means a satire,
though it has indeed been called so, and the delineations here imparted
give a peculiar impression of being accurate portraits. That which has
been a hindrance to modern narrators who have a moral tendency, has
indeed been the case with him. He has clearly depicted what the nobles
ought not to be; but his good characters fail in sharp outline and
colouring, nay, they become tedious, because he brings forward their
education and principles in lengthy conversations. His narratives may
be compared with the tale Simplicissimus, but in creative power, fancy,
and fulness of detail the Silesian is incomparably inferior.
Grimmelshausen, however, though possessing greater poetic talent, has
an inclination for the strange and fantastic, which reminds one of the
style of the romance writers, and leaves an impression that what is
there represented is not a thoroughly true picture of the time. From
this defect the Silesian is entirely free; he narrates, in a lively and
frank style, what he has himself seen, not much, nothing particular,
but plainly and precisely.

The events of the narrative are very simple. The Dutch then held in
German society about the same position in the German courts that was
accorded to Englishmen not long ago, the importance of their nation
being almost equal to a letter of nobility. A rich young Dutchman comes
to Breslau, becomes witness of a duel between one of the new nobles and
a country Junker, hears from his landlord a description of country
life, visits the house of an extravagant "_Pfeffersack_," is invited by
a young Herr von K., an acquaintance of former times, to a country
seat, gains thereby much knowledge of the "_Krippenreiters_" from
personal observation, hears an account of an adventure of a Silesian
with an English officer, and passes the rest of the time of his country
visit, in grave but very prosy conversation (in which the author
introduces much of his own views and learning), upon the education of
the soldier, upon the nobles by birth and those risen from trade, upon
the state of politics, and upon the culture of the ancients in
comparison with that of the present day, &c. On his return to Breslau,
the Dutchman learns that the rich merchant who had before invited him
to dinner, had become bankrupt and secretly absconded; his life is then
related, and the hero leaves Breslau. Thus the whole long narrative
contains only five descriptions which would be interesting: two of them
will be given. Some coarse expressions are softened; they are a little
shortened, and the language, only where it appears indispensable,
modernised. First the landlord relates how he studied as the son of a
tailor, then married a wealthy "Kretschmerin" (or landlady), and after
her death, from an unfortunate striving to become great, bought a
patent of nobility in order to settle in the country. He then continues

"A not very trusty friend advised me to settle in a part of the country
where certainly the noble estate was at a low price, but of which the
income also was small; another friend, it is true, advised me against
this, and pointed out to me what vexations and crosses I should be
exposed to from the '_Krippenreiters_;' but this did not disturb me, as
I knew I was a match for them with the sword, so I dismissed the useful
warning from my mind. In short, I bought an estate for 6000 thalers,
but soon discovered that I had exposed myself to the lightning, in
avoiding the thunder, and that my good friend with his prophecy had
shot very near the mark. For when I had scarcely half settled myself, a
certain _Junker_, Vogelbach, with a couple of his associates, were the
first to victimise me, as they call it. He lived about half a mile off;
not that he had any property of his own, for he only rented a peasant's
farm worth about 100 Imperial thalers, and spent his life, like others
of the same sort, in '_Krippenreiterei_.' How he maintained his wife
and child I know not, but only that I frequently saw his wife with a
cart and two ragged children on the estate of opulent nobles,
collecting corn, bread, cheese, butter, and the like. They generally
came once a month to beg all such articles of me. This Vogelbach was,
as has been mentioned, the first who, with two of his associates, came
to have a 'housewarming.' The first and second time they behaved
themselves with some degree of discretion, wherefore I put before them
what was best in the house. But this, in their opinion, was abundantly
balanced by the honour of the noble brotherhood into which they had
admitted me, and at last they could no longer refrain from their shabby
tricks. 'It would become you, brother _Kretschmer_,' he began one day
that he had filled himself with beer and brandy up to the eyes. But I
made him remember these words by an unexpected box on the ear in such a
sort that the good fellow was tumbled over into the middle of the room
with his stool. My groom, a robust man who had been a soldier, and whom
I had taken chiefly as a guardian spirit for the like cases of need,
when he saw this, seized the other Junker W. by the collar, so that he
could not stir. 'What,' said he, 'you villain, is it not enough for you
to come here so constantly, to fill your hungry body and to fatten your
meagre carcass? Do you choose to give my master this _Deo gratias_? The
devil take me if one of you stir; I will so trim his Junker jacket,
that there shall be a blue fringe on his bare back for six weeks.' 'We
have nothing to do with these quarrels,' answered the two; 'if brother
Vogelbach has begun one, he will know how to carry it out like a true
cavalier.' The latter had meanwhile picked himself up, and was about to
seize his sword. 'Keep your miserable blood-drawer in its scabbard,' I
said, 'or I will assuredly stick the broken leg of this stool into you
if you are not satisfied yet.' Thereupon he held his tongue, and went
away with a black eye, accompanied by his noble companions. They
mounted their horses and rode out of the gate. But as soon as they
considered themselves safe, then they began to rail; they nicknamed me
a hundred times a trade-fallen ostler. One of them tried to fire his
pistol, but could not succeed; doubtless because there was neither cock
nor trigger to the lock. At last they perceived that I was coming after
them with half-a-dozen peasants; so they, hastened off, and sent me,
about a fortnight afterwards, all three at the same time, a challenge,
in the belief that I should never have the courage to meet them sword
in hand in the open field; but they found themselves much mistaken.

"Being fearful, however, that the whole swarm of surrounding
_Krippenreiters_ would fall upon me, and unite in giving me a good
drubbing, I took with me two troopers who were then in the country, and
in the first pass gave V. such a good cut over the shoulder, that his
sword fell from his hand, which he could no longer use. W. therefore
lost at once all courage, so that on my second fight he was fain to
make peace. No one conducted himself better than Michael von S., whom I
had before considered the most faint-hearted. He fought well enough,
till at last this threefold duel ended thus: the two companions were
reconciled to me, but Vogelbach stipulated to have two more passes on
horseback as soon as his arm should be healed, which, nevertheless, he
has not carried out up to the present day.

"Thus I obtained rest from the brawls of '_Krippenreiters_,' though
there was no diminution of their visits; nevertheless, I soon
experienced a much greater and more costly annoyance. My vendor had not
only cheated me a good deal in the sale itself, but had concealed from
me also an important redeemable interest; besides which, he had not
given up all that was set down in the inventory. So I was obliged to
bring a complaint against him before the government, and to employ an
advocate. It was long beginning I was little disposed to do so; it was
my wish to obtain the daughter of some good citizen with a few thousand
thalers, and thereby to improve my housekeeping. But the false friend
who over-persuaded me to the purchase, advised me to marry no one that
was not of the old nobility, and also in the neighbourhood. 'In the
first place,' said he, 'it is very uncertain whether the gentleman will
meet with a rich party in Breslau, although he has got ennobled. But
further, such city ladies as these have so little knowledge of country
housekeeping that they do not even know a cow or an ox, nor what cheese
or curds are. But the gentleman's household requires a mistress who has
been brought up to it from her youth; such a marriage also is the only
means of forming his children in time into country nobles.' With this
view he proposed a lady of the neighbourhood, and offered himself to be
the wooer. 'She is pretty, a good housekeeper, has some fortune, and is
of old family; it will be impossible for the gentleman to find all that
together in the city.' When I asked him what was the extent of her
means, he boasted that it was 2000 thalers. I certainly doubted this,
even then, as it was so large a marriage dower for the country, that
any baron would have snapped at it; yet I let myself be persuaded at
last, as the lady was not ill-educated, and my new nobility had driven
all sound sense out of my brain. I soon found that the above pretended
2000 thalers sank to 400; even these were pending in a doubtful
lawsuit, which would scarcely leave as much as would amount to the
costs incurred, or as would pay for nuptials suitable to my position.
Nevertheless, in the beginning I loved her on account of her good
looks, and everything was knocked out of my head. As she had brought
with her, however, no jewels, clothes, or other female ornaments, I
inquired once of my lady mother-in-law where the chains, rings, and two
taffeta dresses were, in which I had found my love dressed when I wooed
her. But she answered me with a jeering smile, that if I had got her
only in her shift I ought to be content, and feel thankful that such a
noble family had demeaned itself so far as to give me their child, and
they would still have trouble enough to wipe off this disgrace among
their friends, who would decidedly not have consented to this marriage.
But as concerned the dresses and ornaments, I must know that they had
other daughters to think of and provide for. It was, besides, the
custom in the country to procure a dress and ornaments which might do
for two or three daughters; when one of them was smartly attired, it
was the duty of the others to attend to the housekeeping, or if guests
arrived, to feign illness, and content themselves with bed, till it was
their turn. Therefore I must be satisfied, and if I would not let my
wife appear so as to be a disgrace to me, I should, out of my own
means, provide her with dress and ornaments befitting a noble lady.
Thus all my ready money went, especially as the wedding had cost me
much, for almost the whole province, with their wives, children,
servants, and horses, fastened themselves upon me for a fortnight, and
I could not rid myself of them so long as anything was to be found in
the kitchen and cellar. Also what I procured for my wife was never rich
and costly enough to please her and her mother; they always found some
deficiency, and wished to have everything more perfect.

"Nevertheless, I controlled myself, and would have minded no expense,
if I had only gained the smallest thanks for it; but what most pained
me, was to feel that neither my wife nor any of her friends held me in
the slightest consideration. Moreover my dear mother-in-law was a
thoroughly malicious, proud, false woman, and as, according to the root
of the tree, so are the leaves, her daughter followed in her footsteps.
And as on this account I could no longer be fond of her, my groom often
met with more friendly looks than I did. I had no reason to complain of
her relatives not visiting me, for they did so oftener than I liked,
and they did their best to consume all that they found. They thought
that the devil would take them if they called me brother-in-law or
uncle; the brotherhood must be considered all allegorical, and my
mother-in-law took care, that the word 'son' should not escape her
lips, especially if strangers were present. Never were they so
comfortably together as when I was absent at Breslau or elsewhere; then
they had the best opportunity to make themselves jolly at my expense,
and they did so with some wine of which I kept three or four bottles in
my cellaret for myself and my wife, and I found it quite empty when I
returned home. Yet even that might have passed, if they had only not
taken from me the corn from the ground, nay, even the cows and calves
without my knowledge, and conveyed them away secretly for their noble
relatives. But he who receives four thalers, and has to spend six, has
no reason to care for a purse. So that I could easily calculate that in
a short time I should become as good a _Krippenreiter_ as my

"But it pleased God to deliver me from this danger by the death of my
beloved, who died in childbirth. Even under these circumstances I had
to undergo a severe storm from my vexatious noble mother-in-law. She
filled heaven and earth with her lamentations over the decease of her
daughter, and wished to persuade all the world that the good woman had
died of grief, that she had not married suitably to her position, and
that it had been her (the mother-in-law's) fault I bore with her folly
for a time, in hopes that the game would some day come to an end; but
at last she broke out still further, and desired to have the ornaments
and dresses I had bought for her daughter, and whatever else she
had in her keeping, for another daughter. I threw at her feet some
rags she had brought with her, and caused the corpse to be placed
in a respectable coffin in the family vault, without inviting the
mother-in-law or any other relations. I then determined to sell the
property at the first good opportunity and betake myself again to the

"Sitting one evening thoughtfully at the window, looking at the servant
doing his work, I accidentally observed that some one was at the gate
defending himself with naked sword against the assault of the dog. I
called out to the servant to hold back the dog, whereupon I was
accosted by a well-dressed man with many compliments. 'My lord uncle,'
he said, 'will not take it amiss if, according to knightly fashion, I
do myself the honour of calling on you for a night's lodging in order
to have the honour of making your acquaintance.' 'Not in the least,' I
replied, 'if the noble gentleman will please to be satisfied.' I
invited him in, and as the cavalier was so free with his cousinship, I
could easily perceive that he was not of the neighbourhood. He soon let
me know that he was a free knight of the Empire, from Alsace, and had
been so ruined by the French, that he preferred turning his back upon
his burnt property to submitting to their sway; now he was going to the
Imperial court to seek military service. I could perceive the emptiness
of this braggadocio from his knowing none of the noble families with
whom I had made acquaintance in a former residence in Alsace. Therefore
I dealt cautiously with the fellow, and the good lord and brother of
the Imperial nobility was obliged to be satisfied with a straw mattress
and pillow for his head. When I rose the next morning, I found neither
Junker nor bedclothes, and missed, besides, my sword and pistols, which
I had left in the sitting-room. I forthwith ordered my servants to
mount and pursue him with clubs, and if they found the rascal, to knock
him down and then let him escape, but bring back my things; for I was
convinced that the man was a pickpocket, and that I should gain no
advantage by his capture, but an expensive penal process, and have at
last to pay for his hanging. The servants found him with his booty in
the nearest wood, and executed my orders thoroughly. They brought my
things back, but these cost me dear in the end; for, scarcely four days
after, my place was burnt over my head in the night, without doubt by
this rascal, so that I could hardly save the dwelling-house, but was
obliged to look on at the destruction of the barns and stables, which
with corn and cattle were burnt to the ground.

"This misfortune disgusted me so with country life, that I only built a
couple of stalls for the remaining cattle, and shortly afterwards sold
for 4000 thalers the property for which I had given 6000. After that I
betook myself to the city."

Such is the narrative of the country householder to the young Dutchman.
A few days after, the stranger had an opportunity himself of observing
the life of an impoverished Silesian country noble. A young Herr von
K., an educated and travelled cavalier, invited him to the property of
his parents, and asked him to take a ride with him from thence to a
neighbouring property where a christening was to be celebrated. The
Herr von K. begged our hero to consent to allow himself to be
introduced as a major in the Dutch service, "For I know," he said,
"that otherwise these noble peasants will have no scruple in giving you
the last place, and will show you no consideration, in spite of your
superior education, and although, without impoverishing yourself, you
might easily buy the whole of their property put together." What the
Dutchman then observed he relates as follows:--

"The entertainment was of such a nature that there was no danger of the
table breaking down under the weight of the dishes: a good dish of
small fish with onion sauce, calf's head and trimmings, the whole
interior of a pig in as many various dishes as there were parts, a
couple of geese, and two hares; besides this, such rough watery beer,
that one was soon obliged to have recourse to not much better brandy.
In spite of this the society, which consisted of some twenty persons,
was right merry, and the ladies more lively than the affected
mercantile ladies of the city nobility. When the table was removed, a
portion of the cavaliers danced about merrily to a couple of fiddles,
and the room was filled with the fumes of tobacco. Then Frau von K.
began, 'I have taken a fancy for this foreign cavalier, and have hopes
that my son, who is also an officer, will be as much loved and esteemed
in other places.' Frau Ilse von der B. answered, 'I, dear and honoured
sister, am quite of another opinion. I could never exercise such
tyranny on those belonging to me as to thrust them among these fierce
soldiers, for I hear that they sometimes fare badly enough--have no
warm beds for many nights, and besides, have no one to make them a mug
of warm beer or bring them a glass of brandy. If I should hear that my
son had been devoured by a long-necked Tartar, such as I have lately
seen painted at Kretschem, I should be choked with grief. Therefore, I
have thought it better to maintain my Junker Hans Christoph as well as
I can on our little property at home. I must acknowledge that he has
already cost me more than enough; for when I fitted him out as became a
noble, my two best cows went, and I have not been able to replace the
loss. But what does that matter; I see with pleasure that he knows how
to behave himself like a nobleman. Only see, dear honoured sister, does
he not dance nimbly, and hasn't he got a capital knack of whirling
round with the ladies; he does not refuse to drink a glass of beer or
brandy with any one; tobacco is his only pleasure in life; in all
societies he makes himself so agreeable, that he sometimes does not
come home for three weeks, possibly with a black eye. From that I can
quite believe that he lays about him, and defends himself valiantly
like a cavalier. Such also shall my Junker Martin Andres become.' The
Junker who was standing by her, laid his head on the lap of his dear
mother. 'The wild lad knows already that he is a Junker, therefore he
does not desire to learn, but prefers riding in the fields with the
young horsemen; he has already got into his head that he must wear a
sword. This is a new anxiety to me, for I well know that in the end it
will cost me a horse, and without special help from God, I shall have
to part with a couple more cows. I must, however, buy him an alphabet,
for his father always wished him to become a thorough scholar, as he
himself was. Yes, if it cost nothing, and it were not necessary to buy
so many expensive books for the learned lad, it would delight me. My
eyes run with tears when I think how beautifully his honoured father
said grace after meals, and did it as well as the pastor; also how he
once recited before the prince, for a whole half hour, something, I
know not what, in pure Latin. One thing pleases me much in my Martin
Andres, that he has such a subtle, reflecting head. He himself
suggested to me to help him sometimes to gain money, by allowing him to
keep the redemption money for the stray cattle impounded on my fields.
He is so intent upon this that he lurks the whole day in the corn to
catch a couple of pigs or the like, whereby he has already gained as
much as half a thaler. But, nevertheless, if I only knew for certain
that my Junker Hans Christoph would prosper in this war business, like
your noble sons, honoured sister, I would not let another year pass
without endeavouring to persuade him to go. If he would but become for
certain an officer or a baron, and obtain a rich wife. She, however, to
suit me, must be of true, real, noble blood, for otherwise, I swear she
should never be permitted to appear before me, even though she were up
to her ears in gold. And who knows, dear honoured sister? I have all my
life long heard that in other countries the nobility are not so good as
with us, and that in Holland, from whence this officer comes, the women
are driven to the market naked as God has created them, just like the
cows. For my deceased honoured mother's sister, the dear Frau Grete von
T. lived to see her son devil-ridden, and he brought home just such a
wild woman. This so grieved her that she did not live much longer, and
she could not be persuaded to see this wild woman more than once. But
to return to my son. Junker Hans Christoph, if it should so happen that
he were not sent among the Tartars, nor obliged to be a sentinel, I
would try to persuade my old maid, who altogether reared and waited
upon him, to accompany him for a year, and look after him, to wash his
shirts and keep his head clean, and I would provide for her by sowing a
half peck of flax seed on her account.'

"The Frau von K. would, probably have given a good answer to this
nonsense, if she had not been led off to dance by Herr von K. Thus she
left the old lady alone, with whom the Junker Vogelbach, who was
present, and had a tobacco-pipe of a finger's length in his mouth, held
this discourse:--'How are you--how fares it with you, my honoured and
dear cousin? I observe that you rejoice to see Junker Hans Christoph
enjoy himself. My word for it, he is an honest lad; I could have wished
that he had been with me some days ago, when I had a tussle with a
'Peppersack' of Breslau; he would have seen with wonder how I
belaboured the fellow; he had to beg for life, and afterwards to give a
stately banquet in the best style to me and my seconds, at which we so
enjoyed ourselves, that the good wine flowed like a river.' To this the
old lady Von der B. replied: 'It is truly to your honour that, for the
sake of a drinking bout, you make yourself so common with the citizens;
and, above all, you, Junker Martin Heinrich, who are always hankering
after wine, if only you can catch a glass, you drink in brotherhood
with all sorts of people, be they citizens or nobles. Yes, you, indeed,
as I have heard, call these Peppersacks uncle or cousin. If I could be
sure of this, I swear that all my life long I will never call you
cousin. Tell me, what is that scar you have on your forehead? Without
doubt you have got it in another quarrel with them. That would do well
enough if you would only not mix with the citizens.'

"'Do you take me for a fool,' said Junker Vogelbach, 'that I should
call these fellows uncle or cousin, though the Emperor should have
given them ever so grand a patent? Brother is well enough, so long as
they give good wine; but we say, henceforth we will let the knaves

"Meanwhile the guests made themselves merry with tobacco, drinking, and
varied converse, during which the Dutchman remarked, that, of the two
tolerably well educated daughters of the host, one only was to be seen
at a time at the dance, and each was dressed from head to foot the same
as the other; from which he concluded that these good maidens were
obliged to content themselves with one and the same dress, and that
whilst one danced in the room, the other, who had retired, had to wait
patiently without till her turn came again. 'Are not those dear
children?' said their mother, who had seated herself with the other
ladies, to Frau von der B.; 'they do all in so noble and suitable a
style, it does my heart good to see how everything becomes them. If the
Peppersacks in the city were to hang ever so much finery about them,
the citizen would still peep out.' 'You say rightly,' said the other;
'my heart leaps within me when I see these city people swagger about in
such fine dresses and ornaments, in their gilded carriages. Think I to
myself, be as ostentatious as you will, were you every day, even to
drink pearls instead of your best wine, you are still citizens, will
remain citizens, and can never become equal to us.'

"Amidst such woman's prattle, laughing, shouting, dancing, and jumping,
the night wore away, and as Von K. could well anticipate, that this
entertainment would be concluded with the usual brawls and quarrels, he
gave our Dutchman a wink, and retired with him to the house of a
peasant of his acquaintance, where they passed the night on straw. The
groom of the Herr von K. awoke them the following morning, saying, if
they desired to witness a three-fold fight, in which Vogelbach would be
the most distinguished combatant, they must rise quickly and betake
themselves to a spot near the village, on the Polish frontier. Neither
of them having any desire to do so, Von K., who felt ashamed that
his countrymen were such ragamuffins, made a sign to his groom to
be silent; they then mounted, and rode away conversing together

Here we conclude the narrative of Paul Winckler. About the year 1700,
the habits of the country nobles became more civilised, their life more
comfortable, and the bands of _Krippenreiters_ became rarer. Still,
however, individuals were sometimes tempted to defy the weak laws of
the country, and repeatedly did the governments exert themselves
against the cunning and violence by which unlawful possession was taken
of the property of the deceased. Still did the greater part of the
country nobles suffer from the burden of mortgages; frequent were the
complaints about the rashness with which they were given and sold; and,
as it is usually the custom to cheat in drawing up such mortgage-deeds,
they far exceeded the value of the estate. Under these circumstances,
there were everywhere legal auctions, where they were not prevented by
feudal tenure or family regulations; only too frequently were the wax
lights again seen burning, which, according to old custom, were burnt
on the morning of an auction, and the duration of their flame marked
the time during which the bidding of those who were desirous to
purchase would be accepted.[52]

In most of the districts of Germany the acquisition of a nobleman's
estate depended on the _Ritterrecht_, or laws and usages prevalent
among the nobility in that district. Undoubtedly this custom was not in
accordance with common law, but almost everywhere the noble proprietors
of the district formed a powerful corporation, which excluded those who
were not noble from the fall enjoyment of seigneurial rights of
_Standschaft_, and from their assemblies. Even where those who were not
noble were capable of holding a fief, they were so only under
limitations. Sometimes the citizens of certain privileged cities had
the right of acquiring the properties of noblemen, but this expired as
soon as they ceased to belong to the favoured city. An exception, also,
was sometimes made in favour of the city councillors forming part of
the government of the country, and members of the universities. But the
general rule was that those not noble, could only occupy a property as
a mortgage, not with seigneurial rights as a possession. Even those who
had been ennobled were not free to acquire a nobleman's estate as a
possession; it required the consent of the rulers of the country or of
the noble States. In the Imperial hereditary provinces this right could
only be obtained by those noblemen who were raised to some rank of the
higher nobility; and even then this right had to be purchased in each
individual case, and from the sovereign ruler, and secured by a
diploma. The Emperor endeavoured to obtain money even from the old
families by obliging them to renew this right by the purchase of a
general diploma for all their members.

But the Imperial Court imposed other limitations, dividing, up to the
most modern times, the last escutcheon of its nobility into _Edle_,
nobles, _Herren_, gentlemen, and _Ritter_, knights. Whoever was
transferred from the order of citizens to that of nobles or knights,
could not be buried with mourning horses and escutcheons if he
continued his vocation as a citizen. And so far did Imperial
administration reach, that even in 1716 a noble lady was forbidden to
marry a Lutheran ecclesiastic, because that would be unbecoming a

But the approach of a new time may be clearly perceived, soon after
1700, in the life of the noble, as well as that of the peasant. It
consisted in a better tone of feeling, both as head of a household and
as a landed proprietor. A new literature started up suddenly, large and
copious compilations, in which were introduced systematically the
duties and secrets of agriculture, husbandry, and housekeeping; also of
domestic and gentlemanlike education and training; they are respectable
folios, handsomely bound and adorned with copper-plates, and it was
considered meritorious to educate yourself from them. In 1682, von
Hochberg had already dedicated his "Country Life of the Noble" to the
landed proprietors of Upper Austria Soon after, the Count Palatine,
Franz Philipp, under the name of Florinus, wrote a similar work, "To
the Prudent Householder versed in the Law." Already, in Holstein, and
soon after in Mecklenburg, the system of double rotation was introduced
on the properties of the nobility. At the same time there was in most
of the wealthy old families an increasing interest in art and science;
it was thought becoming to have some historical and legal knowledge, to
be acquainted with family traditions, and well versed in the aids to
history, numismatics, and heraldry. The wives of the country nobles
were benefitted by the deeper earnestness of the new pietism, and also,
after 1700, from the sensible, sober character of the new culture. They
were so often told that it was praiseworthy for a lady of rank to
concern herself about her household affairs, and to bring up her
children as Christian gentlemen in the fear of God, that one may well
believe that these views entered into their daily life. About 1750, a
travelled nobleman describes with pleasure what the daily work of the
housewife ought to be. Indeed, a nobleman, in the middle of the last
century, who lived peaceably on his property, and was tolerably
wealthy, had a right to consider himself as one of the most fortunate
representatives of his time. He lived uprightly, concerned himself
about the great world no more than was necessary, lived in familiar
family intercourse with the whole nobility of the neighbourhood, was
only occasionally tipsy, reared his foals, sold his wool, and disputed
with his pastor; by moderate strictness he got on tolerably well with
his villeins, and had but rarely a suspicion how detrimental even to
himself was the servitude of his labourers. If an old family was in
danger of becoming impoverished, they were advised by the
aforementioned zealous and well-meaning coadjutor of the noble, to
marry with a rich heiress of the respectable citizen class, in case of
necessity the family of the lady might be ennobled, and provided with
ancestors on both father's and mother's side; the business, it is true,
caused a small blot on their escutcheons, but it would be folly to
regard that much.

But the old families were saved from sinking again into the people by
numerous lucrative privileges. Very large was the number of benefices
and prebends, and of sinecures in the cathedral church, in the orders
of Malta and St. John, and in the monasteries of the nobles and other
ecclesiastical endowments; and there was hardly an old family that had
not some connection with them. Very general was the feeling among the
nobility, that the Roman Catholic nobles were better off, because they
could more easily provide for their sons and daughters; whilst the
Protestant princes had seized most of the foundations. With pride,
therefore, did the so-called knights of the Empire in Franconia,
Swabia, and on the Rhine, look down upon the landed nobility; the
Imperial capitulation not only assured them privileges, dignity, and
greatness, but they were also closely united with the ecclesiastical
princes and the foundations in their territories, and their families
lived, with almost heritable right, to numerous ecclesiastical
benefices. But, unfortunately, this support had not the effect of
ensuring lasting prosperity to their families; nay, it was a chief
cause of many becoming impoverished and corrupted in their isolation.

But still more fatal to the lower nobility was a privilege to which,
even in the present day, they cling fast as a valuable advantage, and
the lowering effect of which is not confined to them,--their right of
admittance at court. The principle that any of the old nobility must
have free access at court, and that it was not befitting a prince to
have social intercourse in any other circle, acquired great importance
after the year 1700. At this period the German courts gradually
developed the tendencies which they have maintained up to the present
day. The Imperial Court, and that of Louis XIV., were the pattern; but,
at the same time, old home usages were continued at particular courts.
Ever greater became the number of court appointments; needy princes
even sold them for money.[54] The lord steward was over the whole
court. There was a marshal, called "_Hofmarschall_" who had charge of
the royal household; on occasions of ceremony he marched in front, with
his gold staff and keys, and at the festive table he stepped behind the
chair of his gracious sovereign as soon as the confectionery was
served. The lord high-chamberlain really superintended the wardrobe of
his royal master; sometimes with the advice of the royal lady, his
wife, and distributed the cast-off clothes, not only to the valet, but
to poor cavaliers.[55] His office also was important, for the costumes
at most of the courts were numerous and various; it was only at the
Prussian Court, and those connected with it, that the simple military
coat of home-made cloth was the usual dress. Elsewhere, not only the
gala dresses, but also the special costumes and fancy dresses for the
high festivals, were subjects for great consideration, and it was no
trifle for the chamberlain to ascertain accurately how the wardrobe at
the different entertainments should be fittingly arranged; as when, for
example, at the Turkish garden near Dresden the whole court appeared as
Mussulmen, or when an extraordinary coronation dress was to be
invented, as for the Elector Friedrich August of Saxony at the
coronation at Cracow.[56] Even the stable became noble; it was under
the master of the horse, as the hunt was under the grandmaster of the
chase. As ceremonial had become the peculiar science of court, it was
represented at most of the great courts by a grandmaster of the
ceremonies. None watched more jealously than the princes themselves the
marks of honour which they were to give and receive at visits; if on a
visit sufficient respect was not shown to them, they rode away in
anger, and threatened reprisals. Endless, therefore, were the
complaints and grievances laid before the Emperor and Aulic Council;
and yet this jealous watch over externals was not the result of
self-respect, for in dealing with the powerful they were but too
deficient in this. Regulations concerning precedence were always being
renewed; almost every new ruler had pleasure in thus showing his
supremacy, but, in spite of all ordinances, the disputes about rank,
offices, and titles were endless--worse than the men, were the ladies.
In 1750, at one of the royal courts, all the ladies of the nobility
left their places in church because the daughter of one of the newly
ennobled officials--a "_wirklichen Geheimerath_"--sought for a place in
their choir.

This wide sphere of trifling interests gave great importance to the
nobility, calculating from the Imperial Court at Vienna down to the
household of the baron of the Empire, who always maintained one or more
poor _Junkers_ in his circle; together with the collateral and lateral
branches of the greater families, it might be estimated that there were
somewhere about 5 or 600 court households in Germany, besides 1500
households of "Knights of the Empire;" so that, undoubtedly, there were
more than 5000 court offices and employments. The enormous number of
these court places was not advantageous to the manly character of the
noble. To be able to endure with smiles the humours and roughness of an
unbridled sovereign, to be complaisant as the pliant servant of the
despot's licentious desires, and of the mistresses' establishment, was
not the worst effect. He was in imminent danger of becoming so base
that the coarseness of the poor _Krippenreiter_ appeared comparatively
virtuous. It was a period when the noble mother gave her daughter with
pleasure into the arms of the profligate prince; and when the courtier
gave up his wife to him for money. And it was not only done by poor
nobles, but also by the offshoots of royal houses. The nobles in some
German provinces took the opportunity of practising similar
complaisance, even in our century, towards Napoleon's princes and
marshals. But the worst was that the great mass of the court nobility
drew also the families of landed proprietors, who were related to them,
to their residences. Sensible men were never weary of complaining that
the country nobles no longer dwelt on their properties to the great
damage of their coffers and morals; but thronged to the neighbourhood
of the princes to ruin themselves, their wives and daughters in the
pestilential atmosphere of the court. But these were fruitless warnings
in the greater part of Germany till the middle of the eighteenth

Those who had more manly ambition filled civil or military offices.
There was a peculiar aspect, also, about these nobles that bore office.
If the son of an old family studied law, he easily gained by his family
connection the situation of councillor; and rose from thence, if clever
and well informed, to the highest offices, even to be _de facto_ a
ruler of states, or political agent and ambassador at foreign courts.
Besides divers rogues who were drawn forth in these bad times, there
were also some men of education, worth, and capacity, among the German
nobility of this class, who already in the time of Leibnitz formed the
real aristocracy of the order. It became gradually customary for nobles
to occupy the highest official positions and the posts of ambassadors,
after they had become an established court institution; also the
appointments of officers in the army. Whilst the Imperial armies, to
which the young nobles from the greater part of Germany were attracted,
retained, even after the reforms of Prince Eugene, somewhat of the
aspect of the old Landsknecht army under the Hohenzollerns; the new
organization of the Prussian army formed the ground-work of an
excellent education for the officers. The Elector Frederic William had
perceived that the wild country nobles of his devastated realm could be
best turned to account in the army which he created amid the roar of
cannon in the Thirty Years' War. He restrained their love of brawls by
military discipline; regulated their rude sense of honour by _esprit de
corps_ and military laws; and gave them the feeling of being in a
privileged position, by raising none but nobles to the rank of
officers. Thus was effected one of the most remarkable changes in the
civilization of the eighteenth century, especially when King Frederic
William I. and Frederic II. had so emphatically declared that every
prince of the Hohenzollern house must be both soldier and officer, wear
the same coat, be under the same subordination and the same law of
honour as the most insignificant _Junker_ from the country.

Thus it happened that the descendants of many families that had lived
as drones in the Commonwealth became closely bound up with the fondest
recollections of the people. But this political privilege of the
nobility became, it is true, even in the State of the Hohenzollerns, a
source of new danger to the families of the nobility, and, which was
still more important, to the State itself. We shall have occasion to
speak of this later.

Thus the nobility, about 1750, were at their highest point--everywhere
the ruling class. Thousands of their sons did homage, in both the great
and small courts; scarcely a less number established themselves in the
stalls of ecclesiastical endowments, occupied prebends and carried
Imperial "_panisbriefs_"[57] in their pockets. The softest seats in the
senate, the foremost places in the State carriages of diplomats, were
taken by them; almost the whole of the State domains were in their
hands. But it was just at this period that a great change took place in
the minds of the German people; a new culture arose, and new views of
the value of the things of this world spread themselves, quietly,
gradually, imperceptibly, no one knew how or from whence. The German
sentences received a new cadence; German verses became less majestic,
and soon even simple. This new seeking after simplicity spread still
further. Certain bold enthusiasts ventured to despise powder, and
perukes; this was contrary to all etiquette, but new ideas and new
feelings came into circulation. Beautiful tender hearts, and the
dignity of man were spoken of. Soon, also, distinguished personages
among the nobility caught the infection, even Sovereigns; the Duchess
of Weimar went with a certain Wieland in a carrier's cart; two
_Reichsgrafen_ von Stolborg were not disinclined to bend the knee to
one Klopstock, and embraced by moonlight the citizen students.

Among the _bel-esprits_ of the citizens who now gained an influence,
none was more adapted to reconcile the nobles to the new times than
Gellert. He was not genial: he knew well what was due to every one, and
he gave every one his proper place; he had a refined, modest
disposition, but was rather a pessimist; he was very respectable, and
had a mild and benevolent demeanour towards both ladies and gentlemen.
Great was the influence that he exercised over the country nobles of
Upper Saxony, Thuringia, and Lower Germany. The culture of the new time
soon got a footing in these families. The ladies especially opened
their hearts to the new feeling for literature, and many of them became
proud of being patronesses of the beautiful art of poetry, whilst the
gentlemen still looked distrustfully on the new state of things. As in
Germany, poetry had the wonderful effect of bringing the nobility into
unprecedented union with the citizen class, so at the same time in
Austria, music had for a time a similar effect.

But there were greater results than the mere poetical emotions with
which Kalb, Stein, and the loveable Lengfelds received the German
poets. Science now began to speak more earnestly and more powerfully.
What she commended or condemned became, as if by magic, among hundreds
of thousands, the law of life or the object of aversion. Not many years
after 1750, in a wide circle of highly cultivated minds, which included
the most vigorous of the burgher class, together with the noblest
spirits among the nobility, the privileges which gave the nobles a
position among the people, were considered as obsolete; and the State
ordinances which preserved them were regarded with coldness and

Again there came a stern period; the noble generals of the Prussian
army could not maintain the State edifice of the old Hohenzollerns;
they were the first to give up the State of Frederick the Great, and
pusillanimously to surrender the Prussian fortresses to a foreign
enemy. One of the necessary conditions for the preservation and
restoration of Prussia and Germany was, that the nobility must renounce
their valued privileges in civil offices, and officers' appointment.

Since the rising of the people in 1813, the life and prosperity of the
State has mainly rested on the power and progress of culture in the
German citizen. The citizens are no longer, as in the middle ages, a
class confronting the other classes; they form the nation. Whoever
would place himself in opposition to it by egotistical pretensions,
begins a hopeless struggle. All the privileges by which the nobility up
to the present day have sought to maintain a separate position among
the people, have become a misfortune and fatality to themselves. Many
of the best among them have long comprehended this; they are in every
domain of intellectual and material interests, in art, science, and
State, the representatives of the new life of the nation. Even the
country noble, who within the boundary of his village district holds
faithfully and lovingly to the recollections of the olden time, has in
some degree made friends with the new time, and in some sort yielded
unwillingly to its demands. But among the weaker of them there remains
even now somewhat of the hearty disposition of the old mounted rovers.
The modern _Junker_ is an unfavourable caricature of the nobility; if
one observes closely, he is only a pretentious continuation of the old
Krippenreiter. Under uniforms and decorations are concealed the same
hatred of the culture of the times, the same prejudices, the same
arrogance, the same grotesque respect for decaying privileges, and the
same rough egotism with regard to the commonwealth. Not a few of
these court and country nobles still consider the State like the full
store-room of a neighbour, as their ancestors did two centuries ago;
against these rise the hatred and contempt of the people.

                              CHAPTER III.


It is on the simple truth, that every man is only valuable to his
nation and State in proportion to his work, that the power and pride of
citizenship rests; that is to say, in so far as he contributes to the
welfare of others. But eighteen hundred years were necessary to
establish this principle, and to make it perceptible to Germans, and
still does the struggle continue to realize it, to introduce into the
cities free competition instead of the corporate privileges of guilds,
and into the State the right of personal character against the rights
of birth. And yet it is only since this truth has penetrated into
society, morals and legislature, that a sure, and as far as man can
judge, indestructible foundation has been formed for the vitality of
the nation. So slow has been the progress here of modern development.

It was from the capacity and the pride of the working citizen that the
conviction arose in the German mind of the value of work. It first made
the serf a free labourer of the commonalty; then it created a wealthy
citizen class which spread itself firmly between the other classes;
then it helped to add science to the mechanical labour and art of the
citizen, and thus made him the representative of intellect, the
guardian of civilisation, and the centre of the national strength. By
this he ceased to be one of a class, and formed the essential element
of the nation.

Nothing is more instructive than to observe the way in which the power
of the German citizen became effective. However great was the industry,
and however much developed the technical skill of handicraft under the
Roman supremacy, the collective industrial activity lay under the ban
of disregard. In the cities indeed at the beginning of the great
migration, the remains of a sumptuous life still continued amidst
marble columns and the vaulted halls of costly baths; and the guilds of
the old handicrafts, with their chapels and exchanges were not only the
casual forerunners of the later guilds of the middle ages, but perhaps
their real progenitors, from whom the Germans acquired numerous
handicraft implements and technical dexterities; nay, even many noble
customs. But a great portion of the handicraft of antiquity was not the
work of freemen: at least where anything of the nature of manufactures
paid well, slave labour increased. Nevertheless, many freed men entered
the old guilds; having been furnished by their masters with a small
capital, they bought themselves into a Roman corporation: but it must
be observed, that not only was such handicraft held to a certain degree
in contempt by the full citizens up to the latest time, but the
artizans, according to Roman tradition, were allowed little share in
the government of the city; they had, together with undeniable local
patriotism, a deficiency of the political culture, the self-respect,
and the capacity of self-defence of free-born citizens.

Even among the ancient Germans, who came with the great migration,
manual labour was not considered the most honourable occupation of the
warrior; the poor alone used to cultivate the fields or to forge
weapons at the smithy; long did the feeling remain, that there was less
honour in earning money than in taking the property of others, in the
shape of imposts or booty. Under such a condition of insecurity and
violence did the cities arise. They were surrounded by strong walls,
and shut out from the country, as once were the cities of old Latium;
they were the refuge of oppressed country people, not only from the
incursions of enemies, but also from the numerous small tyrants of the
open country. For centuries they were governed by privileged free-born
citizens, merchants, and speculators, similar to the Roman Empire; but
under the patricians, the guilds were strengthened in the course of
long and often bloody struggles within the walls; they acquired a share
in the government, with essentially equal rights and equal duties. As a
free man capable of bearing arms, the German citizen found that he
could obtain riches, consideration, and affluence by means of his
handicraft and his art. At the end of the middle ages, it became clear
that the intellectual life of Germany had taken root in the cities.

Undoubtedly handicraft was under different conditions to what it is
now. Whilst the common produce of individual mechanical labour was
accurately defined in respect to material, form, and price, and the
creative energy of individuals was entirely restrained by the
traditions of their city and guild, a creative tendency appeared in all
that required more delicate handling. The painter still rubbed his
colours himself, and melted the varnish, but he also carved in wood,
and engraved copper-plates. Albert Dürer still sold in the market
stalls picture sheets with woodcuts, for which perhaps he himself made
the letter-press, Whilst the arrangements of houses and churches
frequently remained fixed, even in respect to size, in all fundamental
points, the countless and often too florid details of the arabesques in
the stonework showed the inward satisfaction with which the builder,
when permitted the free exercise of his own fancy, followed the impulse
to give expression to his own mind. The goldsmith was also designer and
modeller; he took pleasure in making every article of value a work of
art, into which he threw his whole soul. But it was just this union of
restrictive tradition and free invention which was so beneficial to the
handicraft of the cities, developing everywhere greater wealth, higher
morality and culture. Throughout the whole country the cities became
like the knots of a net of free societies, to which the gentry of the
rural districts, far behindhand in civilisation, were in constant
hostility. Long did an active hatred continue betwixt the money-getting
citizen and the predatory landed proprietor; and on both sides there
was bitter animosity. It is true that the noble order of Landowners
were held in greater consideration; they were sustained by the pride of
noble blood and of military skill, and by a multitude of prerogatives
and privileges; but in fact the money-making citizen had already
acquired the best rights, for so completely did he engross the whole
culture and wealth of his time, that without him the country would have
relapsed into barbarism.

Thus he became the aid of the Reformation, and the victim of the Thirty
Years' War. But even after the devastation of that period, he, the weak
and impoverished artizan of the city, felt himself a privileged man,
whose prosperity depended on the superior rights he possessed. He
endeavoured carefully to guard against strangers the privileges of his
guild, of his patrician chamber, and of his community; he was only
helpless in his relations with his sovereign. He was still an order in
the new state, from which other orders were excluded. His work had lost
much of its excellence, and this weakness has lasted up to the present
day. Not only were trade and commerce impeded, but the technical skill
of most of the artizans became less. Wood carvings and painted glass
had almost perished, the arts of stone and wood carving were at the
lowest ebb, and the houses were built small, tasteless, and bare.
Printing and paper, which the small printing presses had deteriorated
already before the war, continue poor even in our century. Equally so
were the arts of the metal workers, goldsmiths, and armourers. The
works of the cabinet-maker alone maintained their excellence through
the rococco time, though even the _chef d'[oe]uvres_ of the celebrated
Meister von Neuwied could not compare with the artistic chests of the
Augsburgers about 1600; the art of weaving also, especially damask,
came into fashion soon after 1650, but not in the cities preeminently.
The new trades which attained to great importance, like that of
peruke-maker, were of doubtful value to the national industry.

Equally great was the change which took place after the Thirty Years'
War in the social life of the citizens, in their intercourse with each
other and with strangers. In a former volume it was shown to what an
extent individuals withdrew into their families. It is worth the
trouble of examining more nearly what they lost by this. First, that
feeling of self-dependence which the most diffident man acquires by
frequent intercourse with strangers, the capability of co-operating
with others in a larger sphere, of representing a conviction, acting in
a manly way, and not submitting to any affront or unjust treatment, but
at the same time yielding up pride and pretensions to the common weal;
added to this the skill to organise themselves in new positions and
more extended society, and to accommodate themselves to these altered
circumstances. Such a tone of mind, the groundwork of all man's
political capacity, was to be found in abundance at an earlier period.
The power of the Empire and of the princes having become very weak, the
aptitude of individuals to act in masses was strongly developed, but
after the war the laws of the newly-formed states pressed with such an
iron hand, that all the art and practice of self-government was lost.

This change shall be here shown, in a single phase of citizen life--the
great prize shooting festivals. They are more especially adapted to
give a picture in detail of the stately and splendid public life of the
German citizen in olden times, and to show that we are only now
beginning--though certainly with higher aims--again to attain to what
our ancestors had already found.

It has been a German custom, older than Christianity, to celebrate the
awakening life of nature in May. This has always been a martial feast,
in which the fundamental idea of the old heathen faith, the victory of
the awakening divinities of nature over the demons of winter, was
dramatically represented. In the rising cities it was the warlike youth
of the freeborn citizens who lead the May sports, and in the
Hohenstaufen time these sports assumed the form of fashionable knightly
festivals. Thus in the year 1279, at Magdeburg, on the borders of the
Rhine, where Saxon blood had formed one of the strongest fortresses of
German life against the Sclavonian, the Whitsuntide feast was
celebrated quite in knightly style. The young mounted yeomen arranged a
great tournament in their Elbe island "the Marsh," under their Maigraf,
Bruno von Stövenbecke; the arrangements were all written down, and the
merchants of Goslar, Hildesheim, Braunschweig, Halberstadt, and
Quedlinburg invited. They came splendidly-equipped, and courteously
broke a lance with two young comrades of Magdeburg in front of the
city, and then rode festively through the gates to the island on which
many tents were pitched. The prize settled by the Magdeburgers for this
May tilt was, like the figure on their coat-of-arms, a maiden.[58] An
old merchant from Goslar won the beautiful Sophie; he took her with
him and married her, giving her so good a dowry as to enable her to
live ever afterwards honourably.

A century later, in May 1387, the Magdeburgers celebrated a great
festival on the "Marsh," and again they contended for a maiden; but the
combat was no longer in the style of a tournament, such as their bishop
held at the same time on the other side of the city, but it was in a
great archery court. To this archery meeting they again invited the
friendly cities of Brunswick, Halberstadt, Quedlinburg, Aschersleben,
Blackenberg, Kalbe, Salza, and Halle. A citizen of Aschersleben won the

During this century there was a great change in the life and
constitution of the German cities; the patrician youth with their
knightly customs were no longer the representatives of the power of the
burgher class, the commonalty of the city already began to feel
themselves masters, and their weapon, the cross-bow, gained the prizes.
Soon after 1300, the societies of Archers arose in the German cities,
with their regulations, archery houses, and yearly shooting festivals;
as a brotherhood they erected an altar or built a chapel, and obtained
from the Pope's Legate absolution for all who attended the mass, which
they established on the day of their patron saint, the holy St.
Sebastian. These guilds were favoured by the city magistrates, who
helped to arrange the great prize shootings of their city. But however
much the citizen bow superseded the knightly lance at the feasts of
arms of the cities, some of the terms of knightly language continued
long in use. The prizes were still in the sixteenth century called
"_ventures_;" still longer did the term "_tilting_" denote the
contention between individual marksmen who had shot into an equal
number of circles, and a "course" signified a certain number of shots.

After the time of that archery court of the Magdeburgers, mutual
shooting festivals are mentioned by the chronicles of other cities.
They were quite common, at least in southern Germany, about 1400; for
example, Munich sent its archers almost every second year to contend in
the neighbouring cities, and the "customs" of the public shootings were
already at that period firmly established. Thenceforward they spread
over the whole of Germany, increasing in magnitude and splendour. They,
as well as the German burgher-class, were at their highest acme about
1500; in the century of the Reformation they became more extensive and
costly, and more diversified in customs and characteristics, but
shortly before the Thirty Years' War they showed many symptoms of
decline. The increasing power of the princes, and the commencement of
modern court splendour, were mixed up with the old customs--the
festivals became very costly, and a refined love of pleasure began to

Prize-meetings were not only established in the cities, they were held
sometimes by the princes and wealthy nobles, as early as the fifteenth
century, and still more frequently when in the century of the
Reformation armour and lances declined in importance. The great landed
proprietors of the neighbourhood, or the princes of the country, were
received as honoured guests at these meetings of the cities. Still the
archers were for the most part citizens, and the occasional princes and
nobles were placed under their banners. At an early period even free
peasants were allowed to enter the lists, but this became rare in
Germany after the Peasant War, though they continued to do so in
Switzerland, where a powerful peasantry have never ceased to exist. The
equal right of all, without distinction of ranks, both as to prizes and
penalties, is a citizen characteristic, and by far the greatest number
of associations, as well as the most important, came from the cities.

During so long a period many of their usages altered, and others were
developed in different provinces, but yet the unity of their
proceedings from the Oder to the Rhine, from the Alps to the Vistula,
is very striking. They represent during this whole period a brilliant
phase of German life, the noble hospitality exercised by martial city
communities towards other friendly cities. The self-respect of the
citizen found in them its most powerful expression. Many characteristic
qualities of our forefathers are more especially perceptible in them;
pride in their own city, a lively and sensitive feeling of honor even
with respect to friends, satisfaction in appearing in processions,
whether on serious occasions or in sport, and in representing with
dignity, and above all, pleasure in showing, on public occasions, among
many thousands, their manliness, worth, and charity in word and deed.

If a prize shooting was determined upon in a city, messengers bore the
proclamation of the council, and frequently also of the archery
association, to their good neighbours far in the country. The number of
cities invited was sometimes very great. In 1601, 156 cities were
invited to one shooting festival, held at Halle, and archers came from
fifty, though the weather was bad and the prizes not high. At Strasburg
seventy places were represented in 1576, in 1573 there were 187
cross-bow men sent from thirty-nine places to Zwickau, amongst them
were three Swabian peasants from Göppingen, all of whom, to the great
vexation of the proud citizens, won prizes. At the cross-bow shooting
at Ratisbon, in 1586, thirty-five towns were represented by 210
cross-bow men. At the costly prize-shooting in 1614, at Dresden,
twenty-one of the invited cities sent representatives, but eleven did
not. But the hospitality was not limited to those alone who were
invited: at an earlier period special prizes were, assigned to those
who came from greater distances; thus the Augsburgers, in 1508,
rejoiced that a German marksman came even from Paris, and another time
a marksman, who came from Striegau, in Silesia, obtained a golden ring,
the prize for strangers. Sometimes it was expressly denoted in the
invitation that every qualified man was welcome, or the places invited
were requested to spread the notice among the nobles and archers of
their neighbourhood. When the feasts became very costly, the uninvited
guests were, though allowed to shoot, not entitled to a share in the
chief prizes which had been assigned by the giver of the feast. That
such limitations were, however, not usual is shown by the grief of the
two Amstädters, who, at the cross-bow shooting at Coburg in 1614,[59]
were excluded by the Duke Johann Casimir from his principal prizes;
they wished to return home, and were with difficulty persuaded to

In the programme all the conditions of the prize-shooting were
accurately enumerated; with fire-arms the weight of the ball, and with
the cross-bow the length of the bolt was accurately defined; for the
latter the size was generally established by a parchment ring, the
distance from the stand to the target was given in feet, and the length
of the usual foot was expressed by black lines in the programme.
Sometimes they measured by paces, in that case two of the stranger
competitors, a neighbour from the nearest city, and one from the most
distant, stepped the distance and settled it together.

The number of shots also allowed to each was affixed on the butt and
target. At the smaller meetings in ancient times, they were about
twelve, fifteen, or sixteen; later, at the great meetings, they rose to
thirty, forty, or even more shots. With fire-arms the shooter sometimes
fired three shots in succession from his place, but with the cross-bow
only one, and they shot in divisions, quarters, and standards,
sometimes arrayed under banners according to the towns. At the grand
cross-bow shooting at Ratisbon, in 1586, a pattern meeting of moderate
size, the Protestant and Catholic places were carefully divided. Then
each of the three, four or five standards had to shoot in a definite
time; when all the standards had shot once, it was called one shot, or
one course, the best shot of each standard of each course was called
the bull's eye.

The most ancient weapon was the cross-bow, with steel bow and bolt,
which was stretched by a pulley; it began to supplant the hand bow and
arrow shortly before 1400, but the latter was still used in the army
for some time, for example, in the Burgundian War, nay, it was
sometimes used in the sixteenth century, at the shooting games.[60] The
cross-bow, after 1400, became shorter and more handy, and at the end of
the prize-shooting festivals, a smaller one was used with a trigger for
amusement. The cross-bow was drawn in braces, or secured in a network,
so that no accident might arise if it sprung; the bolt with an iron
point and a feather shaft was provided for the popinjay, with filed
iron teeth, which, in hitting, split the joints of the wood; the
pointed or, later, the blunt bolt served for target practice; the
archer shot without a rest. The cross-bow, up to the Thirty Years' War,
was considered by the prize-shooters as the most distinguished weapon,
and continued so, even long after it had been supplanted by fire-arms
in war and in the chase; it was more especially retained by the
aristocratic party, the princes and patricians. If a prize-shooting
with crossbow and fire-arms was announced, the competition between the
cross-bow and the arbalat was at the beginning, the fire-arms at the
conclusion with inferior prizes; much of the fun of the festival was
attached to the cross-bow shooting. But at the beginning of the
sixteenth century, at all the prize shootings, the use of fire-arms had
increased at least twofold.

About the year 1400, fire-arms began to be heard at the prize-shooting
festivals. At Ausgburg, in 1429, hand-guns and muskets were used, and
guns with small lead balls. In 1446 the first prize shooting with
arquebuses and muskets was held; afterwards the hand-gun in its various
forms always prevailed. The practical Swiss were among the first to
give the preference to fire-arms. As early as 1472, at the great prize
shooting at Zurich, only guns were announced; after that, at important
festivals, both weapons had prizes assigned to them, but at smaller
ones frequently only fire-arms. The gun of the prize-shooter, up to
1600, was the smooth hand-gun for one ounce balls, with a straight or
crooked stock,--all grooves were forbidden.[61] The shooter fired
without a rest; the gun when fired was not to rest upon the shoulder;
it was not to be supported by any strap in the sleeve or round the
neck; it was only to be loaded with one ball; the gun was only to have
a small round sight at the end. After 1600 rifled weapons, for the
first time, received prizes at special meetings. At Basle, in 1605, a
prize shooting for arquebuses was announced, the distance 570 feet, the
target two and a half feet round the nail; and for muskets with crooked
or straight grooves and balls of one ounce--distance, 805 feet; target,
three and a half feet. It must be mentioned, by the way, that sometimes
at great shooting festivals heavy guns were also used, such as
arquebuses, falconets and serpents, as in Strasburg 1590, at Breslau in
1609, and frequently at Leipsic, where these exercises were preferred;
however splendidly these festivals, after the pattern of the old prize
shootings, were appointed, they had more especially a practical aim,
and were not generally attended by strangers.

Different as the weapons so was the mark. The bird on the pole was very
ancient. But when guests began to appear in numbers the bird was
inconvenient. The duration of the shooting could not be reckoned upon;
a violent wind easily diverted the course of the bolts. At last the
pole fell altogether, or the bird broke off, before it was shot into
splinters; the falling splinters also gave occasion to much quarrelling
and discontent. The consequence was, that in the greater part of
Germany, the more convenient shooting butt very soon supplanted the
bird at all large cross-bow meetings; this was the case in Switzerland
and Suabia. On the other hand, the Thuringians, Meisseners and
Silesians, long adhered to the bird. In Breslau the popinjay shooting
was practised in great perfection; there, after 1491, a heavy bird of
silver, richly gilded, with gold chains and golden shield, and the city
arms on the breast, was carried before the king of the shooters. But at
the prize shooting of the Silesians many birds were set up of different
colours and with prizes of different value. Thus in Breslau, in 1518,
they set up three birds--red, green, and black; each person who knocked
off one of the forty joints of the birds gained a silver spoon; but,
besides this, there was also cross-bow shooting at a mark, a small
square target. In the year 1560 there were again three at Breslau; and
at the grand shooting at Löwenberg, in 1615, there were five birds. The
fallen splinters which had not brought special prizes were weighed, and
only those of half an ounce were of value.

But the butt targets, also for cross-bows and fire-arms, were various.
For the cross-bow a small circular plate, sometimes plated, and the
outer circle painted with a garland, was fixed on the dark shooting
butt, and after each course exchanged for a new one; for the fire-arms
there was almost always a hanging target, and in 1518 at Breslau a
shield--that is to say, a painted wooden table. The distance from the
shooting stand to the mark for the cross-bows was 340, and later 300
feet; for the fire-arms from 650 to 750 feet. These are wide distances
for weapons so imperfect in comparison with our times. On special
occasions, when any young princes attended the festival, nearer marks
were prepared for them--a half distance,--and other prizes. At such
shooting feasts the whole of the adjoining Court took part.

The preparations in the city began some months before the feast. The
lodgings were prepared for the guests; the safety of the city was
provided for; the goldsmiths worked in silver the prize cups and vases,
and struck also medals and show specimens; the tailors stitched
incessantly at new festival dresses for halberdiers, pages of honour,
and motley personages; the shield painters drew arms, garlands, and
ciphers, on more than a hundred standards. On the shooting ground the
lists were marked; wooden boards brightly coloured, and adorned
with representations of fir-trees, garlands, and colonnades; the
interior of the shooting-house was newly painted, and later carpeted;
shooting-stands and pavilions erected for the shooters, and clerks
booths; outside the lists there were kitchens, bowling-grounds and
booths; also a spring for the water-drinkers, which, in case of need,
was newly dug. Especial care was taken, at these cross-bow meetings, of
the small target where the bull's-eye was. As these cross-bow meetings
were in all respects arranged in the most finished style, and were a
pattern for other similar shooting-meetings, we will describe many of
their usages. The target place was a large wooden building, that
represented the front of a house with doors and many stories, or looked
like a triumphal arch, or a temple with cupola towers, or sometimes
like the high wooden altar of the sixteenth century, all beautifully
painted with the colours of the city or country, ornamented with coats
of arms and figures. At Strasburg, in 1576, there stood great
sculptures, a griffin and a lion keeping watch on each side; beneath,
in the middle of the building, was the butt, either covered with some
dark colour or canvas. It could be turned round by mechanism, in order
that after each course the bolts might be drawn out without danger, and
the butt provided with a new circular plate, for the next shooting
meeting of the society. Sometimes the whole heavy building which rose
above it was movable, and turned to face the rows of seats for the
different divisions of shooters. Beside the butt itself, there were in
the building sometimes small projecting guard-houses, or little
turrets, for the markers, from which they could watch the target
without being hit. At the top of the building there was a complicated
clock, with the ciphers from one to four on the dial-plate, and over it
a bell. On the highest point stood generally a movable carved figure,
often Fortune on a ball (for example, in 1576, at Strasburg; 1586, at
Ratisbon; in 1614, at Dresden), which after a bad shot turned her back
on the shooter; or as at Coburg, in 1614, a mannikin on a tower, who
after a good shot waved a banner, or for a bad shot mockingly bit his

When these preparations of the honest citizens approached their
completion, it became necessary for the council to search out some of
those minor officials of the festivities whose occupation is not what
can be called very noble, but was quite indispensable, the
_Pritschmeister_.[62] For a great festival, four, five, or more of
these fellows were desirable; but they were not to be found in every
city. If they were not at the place, they were sent for to Nüremberg
and Augsburg, or wherever else in the country they happened to be
wandering. It was a very ancient vocation that they followed At the
same time that the fantastic city tournaments of the young patrician
were transformed into the useful shooting exercises of the martial
citizen, this tomfoolery had changed into a peaceful civic occupation,
which retains something of the duties of the old herald, and not less
of the old festive jesting of the roving fool. They were criers,
improvisatori, police-officers, and buffoons of the prize shooters;
they understood accurately the _convenance_, manners, and every
ceremonial of the shooting-ground; gave good counsel to hesitating
regulators of the festival; delivered the poetical festival speeches;
punished light transgressions against the rules of the shooting-ground
with the fool's baton; and even helped at the festive banquet, when
necessary, by a rough joke, or even by serving. They had come from far,
and knew how to deal with proud princes and strict councillors. When it
was not festival time, they carried on a modest trade that did not
require much perseverance. But sieve-making or the wool trade did not
please them in the long run: at least they describe themselves, in the
numerous verses they have left behind them, as poor devils,[63] who
eagerly looked out for the rumour of some great festival at Court, and
went many days' journey, speculating whether perhaps they might have an
opportunity to exercise their office at some prize shooting. If they
did not succeed in that, there still remained to them the pleasure,
during the festival, of waiting upon old patrons among the shooters,
and, by dint of toadying, of obtaining wherewith to fill their hungry
stomachs; finally, they had the old consolation of poets, to describe
in verses the occupation they had no longer the pleasure of joining in,
and collecting remuneration for these verses. It is true that their
descriptions of friendly and distinguished prize shootings are almost
always in very bad rhyme; but they are very valuable to us, because
they introduce us to the smallest details of those festivals. The
office, too, of _pritschmeister_ is worthy of observation.

It is only in accordance with German nature to make the fool the
police-officer of the festival. The blow of his baton strikes the
lord as well as the peasant boy, and his irony lashes the arrogant
prince's son, and brings the colour into the cheeks of the most
impudent. The sensitive pride of the _Junker_,--every offence to
which, from a yeoman of the guard, would have been resented as a deadly
affront,--unresistingly suffered the _pritschmeister_, in the exercise
of his office, to seize and drag him to the place of punishment. But
even the jests of the _pritschmeister_ are deserving of observation,
for they are lasting; an endless variety of tricks and pleasantries,
a definite hereditary art of being merry, typical forms of foolery
many hundred years old; and they were earned on with a certain
earnestness,--nay, even pedantry. Undoubtedly these stale tricks had
their irresistible effect only when men were disposed to be in a merry
humour, but their antiquity makes them to us like woodcuts, in the
angular lines of which there lies a certain charm. When, for example,
at the end of the shooting, the unfortunate shooter, who had won the
last prize, received this prize,--a sow with six young ones,--from the
_pritschmeister_, who wished him happiness, and calculated at length
the increase of the porcine family in his house from year to year, and
that he would after three years become master of 2401 head, the hearers
of the joke were not the less amused because they had heard the same
reckoning made ever since their childhood on similar occasions; for it
acts like a melody, that exercises its greatest magic on the hearer
when it has become familiar to him.

The _pritschmeister_ knew well that it was his duty to be a fool. It is
true, there were some proud fellows among them who were ashamed of
their cap; but they were derided by their own companions. Thus in 1573,
the _pritschmeister_ of Zwickau was serious and haughty; but he
suffered for it under the contemptuous shrugging of the shoulders of
his colleague, Benedict Edelbeck, who had wandered from Bohemia to the
prize shooting, and knew better what became a _pritschmeister_. They
bore also certain tokens of the fool,--the cap, and a striking
variegated dress, in the colours of the city, which they kept as a
festival present. At particularly distinguished shooting feasts they
were very grandly attired; for example, at Coburg in 1614, there were
five of them who wore the colours of the royal house,--yellow silk
waistcoat, black hosen, yellow English stockings, long black and yellow
knee ribands, beautiful Cordova shoes with silk ribands, a Spanish
velvet hat with yellow feathers, a kasseke with loose sleeves, red,
yellow, and black embroidery before and behind, with coats of arms;
besides all this, the large club, and round the knee a string of bells,
which rattled loud.

Their batons, often preposterously large, of leather or of split
clacking wood, and sometimes gilded, had much to do on the
shooting-ground. With them they cleared the lists of the thronging
people, and punished those who transgressed the rules. Anyone who ran
between the shooter and his mark after the clock was set, anyone who
disturbed the shooters at their stand, who misbehaved from drunkenness
or insolence, or who injured the weapons of strangers from wantonness
or spite, fell under their jurisdiction without respect of rank; and
this jurisdiction was exercised in a remarkable way. Far on one side of
the shooting-ground was erected a conspicuous scaffold, on which were
two coloured benches. This building was called, according to an old
bitter jest, "the gallows;" and later, the "_pritschmeister's_ pulpit;"
to it the culprit was led with many grotesque ceremonies, there laid
upon the bench, and belaboured with the baton in a way which was neatly
expressed in the old technical language by this sentence, "His head was
cut off at the tail." At the same time the _pritschmeister_ delivered a
discourse, which did not make his position more agreeable. One may
conceive how attractive this practice of the law was to all who did not
partake of it. The custom was carried on through the whole of Germany,
most moderately by the serious Swiss, and decorously and impartially in
the cities. At a later period, when great princes arranged shooting
festivals, traces of royal humour are to be found, which enjoined the
performance of this scene on minor personages for insignificant
misdemeanours. Thus, after the prize shooting in 1614, Elector Johann
Georg diverted himself by having not only some scullions, but even one
of his bears cudgelled; the bear had to be chained to the bench. The
_pritschmeister_ obeyed his Electoral Grace, but in his inward heart he
felt that such things were not in his office.

As assistants to the _pritschmeister_, some of the most idle boys of
the city were chosen, and they also were put in fool's attire. Among
this insolent brood the most zealous guardians of the law were to be
found; they easily learnt some of the tricks of their master, and they
carried goose wings, wooden clappers, and short pipes. They fell
like a pack of hounds on any peasant child that ran across the
shooting-ground, and greeted such as had shot ill with grimaces and
monkey gestures. At Coburg they went in procession in a great band,
dressed in black linen with white seams and patches, following a tall
dark man, who wore a similar dress, and trousers after the old
Landsknecht fashion. He was the head shoemaker, Martin Pauker, a
gloomy, haggard fellow, who never spoke a word, but during the whole
shooting was incessantly assuming grotesque disguises. In the
procession he trailed along an enormous linen banner, the doubtful
badge of honour for those who had shot worst of all; but on the return
home he bore the great kettle drum, which he allowed to be beat upon
his back; on the shooting-ground he appeared as a wild man, enveloped
in straw and brushwood; then as a monk or nun; but soon he came in a
splendid dress, riding on an ass, and at last waddled about in
bearskin; he was always disguising himself, always drunk and dismal,
but he had his own quiet enjoyment in the whole affair.[64]

If _pritschmeisters_ were engaged by the givers of the feast, and the
city was in repute for doing its duty, possessed good friends, and had
announced grand prizes, there was sure to be a great concourse. The
invited cities had the festival announced to their citizens by affixing
public notices, or by proclamations. It was with them an affair of
honour to be represented by good marksmen, and these frequently
received money for their journey out of the city coffers, in return for
which, when they went home, they handed over the silk banners they had
won to the council or shooting society. These deputies were generally
men of distinction; but besides these there were other citizens who
went to the meeting at their own cost. Thus at Coburg in 1614, besides
the four shooters who were sent by the city of Schweinfurt, one Hans
Schüssler, a small, insignificant man, had come on his own account. His
fellow-citizens looked askance at him and excluded him from their
society, but he hit the bull's-eye at the first shot: then he jumped
for joy, and exclaimed, "I was not good enough for my country people to
bring me with them; now, God willing, I will do better still." He made
the most bull's-eye shots, and won a beautiful goblet.

A day or two before the festivities, the strangers who came to shoot
arrived from all parts. The council had to provide them with cheap
quarters, and it was enjoined on the citizens that they were to abstain
from annoying them. Many of the strangers met with a hospitable
reception from some of the cities. If royal persons were invited, their
arrival was announced by a courier; they were received by the council,
lodged, and provided with the usual gift of honour,--wine, beer, and
fish. Sometimes a preliminary shooting trial took place with the guests
who had arrived before the first day of the festival; on such an
occasion at Ratisbon in 1586, a beautiful large goat, covered with red
Lund cloth, together with a beautiful banner, was presented by the
council to the best shot. In Suabia and Bavaria a goat thus attired was
often given at these smaller shooting trials.

On the morning of the festival the _pritschmeister_, with the city
band, went through the streets, calling the strangers to the meeting at
the shooting-ground. The givers of the festival marched in solemn
procession, the _pritschmeister_ in front; behind, the markers, equally
in new dresses and the colours of the city, their marking rods in their
hands; then the trumpeters and fifers; next the dignitaries and
marksmen of the city, followed by a train of young boys of the city,
all dressed alike in festal attire, sons of families of distinction,
who bore the small target banners; after them perhaps, led by a
_pritschmeister_ or some other jovial personage, the boys with the
contumelious banners, the derisive distinction of the bad shots. Then
came other boys, who bore coloured chests, in which were the bolts and
the principal prizes of the shooting. The large and small goblets were
either brought out during the procession, or placed in a special
pavilion on the shooting-ground, under the care of the city police.

On the shooting-ground the drum was again beat, and the marksmen called
together by the _pritschmeister_. The deputy of the city then delivered
a solemn address of greeting, in which he called to mind the old
friendship of the invited cities, and expressed his best wishes for the
festival. The _pritschmeisters_ went again with music round the
shooting-ground, and one of them proclaimed aloud once more the
programme of the invitation, and admonished the marksmen to collect
together by cities, and choose their "_siebeners_" or "_neuners_."
These were magistrates of the shooting-ground, the higher judges of
shooting law; they were chosen out of the most distinguished men of the
town, some by the givers of the feast, others by the shooters according
to their districts. If the larger cities, Nüremberg, Augsburg, or
Magdeburg, were among the guests at the beating of the drum, it was
decided by them which should be chosen as representatives of the
strangers. The free Imperial cities were more particularly designated
for this, equally so any royal personages present, who often even
undertook the wearisome task of "_neuner_." These were treated with
particular distinction at the entertainment. Among them were the
secretaries, frequently three, who noted down in special tents the
announcements of the shooting. Every marksman had to show beforehand
his bolts and bullets, cross-bow and gun; each bolt was examined,
whether its iron point could pass through the opening of the parchment
ring, for the thicker bolts made a larger opening in the target, and
the measurement being taken from the edge of the hole to the centre
point, the difference of thickness in one bolt would be prejudicial to
the others. If the bolt was proof-worthy, the name of the possessor was
written on the shaft, and only bolts so inscribed could be used. Every
shooter had, besides, to make his money deposit before he was allowed
to shoot. These preparations occupied many hours, often the greater
part of the first day. The time was frequently filled up by a
collation, given by the city council to the strangers who shot: in the
earlier and more moderate period it consisted of wine, good beer, and
simple food, fruit, cakes, butter and cheese. When the marksmen were
inscribed and had made their deposits, they were divided into
"quarters" or banners,--three, five, and more banners; frequently each
"quarter" had its special stand.

Now at last began the great shooting in "courses," or "shots with the
cross-bow," so that the "quarter" shot one after the other, each
shooter one shot.

Opposite to the place of the target, in a special wooden building, were
the stands of the shooters. But their method of shooting appears
striking to us. Before the beginning of the course, a _pritschmeister_
went over the shooting-ground with fifes and drums, and called the
marksmen by divisions to their stands. They pressed forward to it in
haste, and sat in rows, according to regulation, by lot, each in the
stand to which his name was affixed. As long as the division was
shooting, no one left his stand, and none of the neighbours must
disturb them by word or movement. Thus they sat, cross-bow in hand;
then the _pritschmeister_ called out, "Marker, set the clock going." At
the signal the hand was set in motion, each "quarter" being signified
by the striking of the clock. During this time each marksman was to
shoot; he shot sitting, at least such was the custom in the interior of
Germany after the middle of the sixteenth century, but they were not
allowed to support either themselves or their crossbows. When the hand
had finished its circuit round the clock, the bell sounded, a steel
mirror was lowered by a hempen cord, and covered the dial-plate, and a
grating either rose from the earth, or descended from the wooden
building in front of the butt, in order to guard it from the eager
shooters. Then began the labours of the _neuner_, secretaries and
markers. If the butt was movable, it was turned round. Behind it stood
a table for the secretaries, the inscribed bolts were drawn out, the
bull's-eye shot and those in the circles were transcribed, the farthest
shot also was noted down. But the marker filled up the holes made by
the bolts, blackened the injured places in the butt, and put on a new
plate. In this way the collective divisions of marksmen having fired
one shot, the bolts were borne in solemn procession with the
_pritschmeister_, fifes and drums, to the shooting-house: there the
less successful bolts were placed in the box of their owner, but those
which had been distinguished shots were laid in an ornamental wooden
_Attrape_; in Zwickau, in 1573, it was a large white swan, the city
arms. The bolt of the bull's-eye had a place of honour, and the most
distant had also a distinguished place. After this first course the
distribution of prizes began.

They endeavoured to give marks of distinction in every direction, and
to provide as many marksmen as possible with prizes; but our ancestors
did not object to humiliate by bitter jests those who had performed
ill. Prizes were awarded to those who hit the bull's-eye, also to those
who had shot oftenest near it, and if his remaining shots were not near
enough for him to gain a chief prize, he had a special present. But the
great prizes were for the marksmen who, at the end of the shooting,
scored the greatest number of shots in the circles. All who could not
obtain a prize within the prescribed number of shots, had the right,
before the end of the meeting, to contend among themselves for smaller
prizes. All the prizes of the festival, were settled by the givers of
the feast, and they were reckoned in the programme collectively with
their worth in silver. Every shooter at the beginning of the festival
before his name was inscribed, had to make a deposit of money; this
deposit was not insignificant, and became higher in proportion to the
pretensions of the festival. Whilst at a former period two gulden had
been deposited, it rose to six and eight Imperial gulden in the last
fifty years of the prize shootings; indeed they deposited as much as
twelve Imperial thalers at the cross-bow shooting given by the elector
Johann Georg at Dresden in 1614, which, according to the value of
silver and corn, would answer to about thirty thalers of our money. But
undoubtedly all prize shootings were not so aristocratic. A portion
often of the deposits at these festivals was voluntary. The obligatory
deposits were turned into secondary prizes, and these were distributed
in small sums among as many of the shooters as possible. With the
voluntary deposits, small articles of plate were frequently bought for
an after-shooting. Sometimes also the giver of the feast spent
something for this; in that case these deposits of the shooters were
employed as small money prizes for the after-shooting.

With all the prizes at the great shooting feasts large and small
banners were presented, with the colours of the town or country, and
the arms or garlands, painted on them, and often also the value of the
prize. To bear away such a banner was a great honour. The strangers
took them proudly to their homes, and delivered them to the council of
their city, or to their shooting brotherhood, who had paid the costs of
their journey. Very modest at first were the prizes of the victors:
they were long designated as "ventures:" a romantic charm still
attached to the foreign word, which originated in the jargon of the old
tournaments. A fine ram was the first prize at Munich about 1400, and
at Kelheim in 1404. Soon afterwards an ox, a horse, or a bull, and the
animals often covered with a valuable cloth: thus, in 1433, at
Nüremberg, a horse covered with a red cloth was the best. The secondary
prizes were small goblets, silver vases, girdles, cross-bows, swords,
or a prize which has always been a special object of preference with
the inferior shooters, and everywhere, up to modern times, has clung to
shooting societies--material for a beautiful pair of small-clothes. He
who came from the greatest distance to the shooting, received, at
Augsburg, in 1425, a golden ring. But at the same place, in 1440, the
first prize was already a sum of money, forty gulden; and the horses
and cattle were the last. They rose rapidly in value at Augsburg in
1470; 101 gulden was the best, and about 1500 this sum became usual: in
1504, at Zurich, 110 gulden was the chief prize, 90 the second, and so
in succession down to one gulden, all doubled for cross-bows and guns,
and, which is not rare at the Swiss shooting meetings, all in money.
The prizes continued to rise in value; at Leipzig, in 1550, for the
cross-bow 300 gulden; at the great shooting meeting at Strasburg, in
1576, the first prize for rifle and gun was 210 Imperial gulden; at
Basle, in 1603, for muskets (with rifled barrels), a goblet worth 300
gulden. This sum, according to the value of silver and corn, answers to
666 thalers of our money.

The chief prizes then, were money or plate, goblets and vases of all
forms and sizes, of that elegance and taste which distinguished the
work of the goldsmith in the sixteenth century. The deposits also were
frequently paid in special coins and medals, which were coined for the
festival, large and small, and also gilt,--often _klippen_.[65]
Sometimes a bull's-eye shot was rewarded by a _klippe_, which was hung
to the victorious banner. At the costly cross-bow meeting at Dresden,
for each bull's-eye shot was given on the banner a gilt medal, weighing
five Imperial thalers--almost exactly a quarter of a pound of our
customs weight. Smaller towns also coined medals and _klippen_; they
continue as choice rarities in our collections of coins, and show the
greatest diversity of emblems and devices, of size, form, and value.
Small silver pieces were coined for children and the poor, and
distributed in remembrance of the festivals.

But besides these good prizes, there were also tantalising prizes. The
last shot who could make any pretence to a prize was honoured with a
doubtful distinction,--he received, according to old custom, as has
been already mentioned, amidst many derisive congratulations from the
_pritschmeisters_ the smallest money prize, and an animal of the pig
tribe, great or small, sow or sucking-pig, according to the humour of
the giver of the feast; besides that, a good prize banner, but with
satirical figures on it. At the Coburg shooting, in the year 1614, it
is reported that this banner was particularly and beautifully
embroidered, but one may assume that its emblems did not occasion any
great pleasure to the possessor. The banners and presents to the worst
shots were a caricature of the prizes for the bull's-eye; and he who
had made the worst shot of all was obliged, at least at the last period
of the prize-shootings, to carry at the end of the festival, surrounded
by the fools, a gigantic coarse banner of sackcloth. When the bolts of
the bull's-eye shots and of the most distant shots were placed after
the first course in their _attrape_, the _pritschmeister_ went up to
his pulpit; he then called forth with a loud voice the best shooter of
the first course, and greeted him with a short extempore speech in
doggerel rhyme, wherein he extolled his deserts and his prizes; he then
announced to him that, as a memento of the shooting, he will receive a
beautiful silk banner, to which was appended a silver _klippe_; besides
this, a tin plate with a fried trout on it, a roll of bread, and a
glass of wine, together with an orange. Skilful musicians, trumpeters
or pipers, went before, and conducted him to his seat. Thus did the
fortunate marksman march amidst music; the officials of the city
delivered to him the banner and the coins, with the jovial plate of
honour. Afterwards the _pritschmeister_ distributed to the other circle
shots, and finally he called to the unfortunate who had made the widest
shot; he did not advance willingly; the _pritschmeister_ bowed himself
before him and said, "Look to it, you fine shot, that you learn your
art better. I have here some lads who will teach you how to hit. You
need pay them no money. Franz Floh, take the brush and sprinkle him
with holy water; it is very possible that he is bewitched. Come, Hans
Hahn, and ring your wooden bells about his ears! Yet I observe that you
are a good Christian; you wish to leave something to others; therefore,
dear tantalisers, take him under your protection; the man has deserved
well of others; pipe a beautiful dance before him, and bite your thumbs
at him, but be decorous, and do it behind his back. Bring him his gift
of honour. First, a banner of the kind of satin in which peasants bring
their oats to the city. The _klippe_ which hangs on it is unfortunately
only of tin; besides, there is a plate of wood, and on it a fine whey
cheese; instead of the orange an apple, and in an earthen bowl a drink
of light beer." Thus did the _pritschmeister_ deride him, and at last
presented him with a fool's cap and cock's feathers. Meanwhile the
_pritschmeister's_ boys yelled, rattled, and piped around the marksman,
cut summersaults, and followed him with their grimaces up to his stand,
whilst a bagpipe-player preceded him, and forced from his bags their
most dissonant tones. It was afterwards seriously maintained by the
marksmen that in this buffoonery those with the highest pretensions did
not come off better than the rest. But to the person concerned it was
very painful. He seldom succeeded in concealing beforehand the widest
bolt, which always excited general displeasure. To princes who were
present some consideration was shown: at least, the words of the
_pritschmeister_ to them, which are printed, sound very mild. If the
sovereign himself had made the widest shot, one of his suite took it
upon himself, as at Zwickau in 1573.

Thus was the festival carried on, round after round, each succeeded by
the rewards. These interludes took not a little time; thus it happened
that not more than seven or eight courses of shots took place in a day,
still less at the great meetings.

At the end of the festival, in most of the districts in Germany, the
shooting was interrupted by a pleasing custom which shall here be
described as it took place, in the second half of the sixteenth
century, in the cities of Suabia, Franconia, Thuringia, and Meissen.
Many of the most distinguished maidens of the city went in procession,
festively clad, accompanied by councillors, city pipers, and yeomen of
the guard, to the shooting-ground. One of them carried, in an
ornamental box, a costly garland--sometimes of silver and gold, with
pearls and precious stones--another bore a beautiful banner. Their
procession stopped on the ground; then the shooters of a friendly city
were summoned, a herald of the city delivered an address, the maidens
handed over to them, as a gift of honour from their city, the garland
and banner, and invited them to a dance of honour. The invited thanked
them in choice language in the name of their city; one of them placed
the garland on his head, and they led the maidens in a stately dance
over the shooting-ground. Such a garland imposed upon the city which
received it the agreeable duty of giving the next prize-shooting. It
was carefully kept, and mentioned in the programme of the garlanded
city as the principal ground of the prize-shooting, in order that the
garland might not wither. Afterwards, when the princes participated
eagerly in the shooting, they also received garlands; if the prince was
the giver of the feast, he bestowed the garland on one of the
princesses. This old custom bound together the cities of a district in
one great festive brotherhood. The dances on the open shooting-ground
ceased about the year 1600.

But these great citizen festivals offered other opportunities of
display of strength and art. When they were in their full vigour in the
fifteenth century, there were public games arranged for the marksmen,
and prizes appointed for the conquerors. In these games ancient
traditions were maintained. They were prize contentions similar to that
in the Niebelung, of Siegfried against Brunhild, hurling the stone,
leaping, and running. They were in the programme in the prize-shooting
of 1456; the Zuricher, Hans Waldmann, carried off the prize for
leaping, who, later as Burgomaster, lost his proud head on the block.
At the cross-bow shooting at Augsburg in 1470, a golden ring was
prepared for him who could hurl furthest a stone of forty-five pounds
weight, at an easy run, with three throws, according to the laws of the
game; a knight, Wilhelm Zaunried, won the prize. Thus also at Zurich,
in 1472, there were three prizes for hurling stones of fifteen, thirty,
and fifty pounds. Christoph, Duke of Bavaria, won the golden ring at
Augsburg in 1470, for leaping. The task was three springs on one leg
with a run, afterwards a jump with both feet, then again three springs
on the other leg, and a second jump. In Zurich, in 1472, leaps of three
different kinds were prescribed: from the spot with both feet, in the
run with both feet, and in a run three springs on one foot. All this
was done with great earnestness, and was actually notified to the
guests in the programme of the council. In prize races in 1470, at
Augsburg, the course measured 350 paces; Duke Christoph, of Bavaria,
won the gold ring also for running. At Zurich, in 1472, the length of
the course was 600 paces. At Breslau, in 1518, the prizes for running
were articles of the favourite pewter. Besides the men, sometimes
horses ran: as at the rifle-shooting at Augsburg, in 1446, fourteen
horses appeared in the lists; the prize was a piece of scarlet cloth;
the conqueror was a horse of Duke Albrecht's, which he had sent from
Munich for the races.[66] At the races at the same place, in 1470, a
horse of Duke Wolfgang's, of Bavaria, won a prize of forty-five gulden.
Wrestling, and even dancing, obtained prizes, as in 1508 again, at
Augsburg. And at the same place a whimsical prize was won by the person
who could amuse the people with the greatest lies.

To these national popular amusements were added others not less old,
but from the traditions of foreign life. The descendants of the Roman
gladiators, whose rough struggles had once caused great scandal to
strict Christians, led a despised life as roving fighters[67] through
the whole of the Middle Ages. In the fifteenth century they had taken
refuge behind the city gates and in the guardrooms of the royal court,
in various mercenary service, as fencing-masters, soldiers, police,
valets, and messengers. Out of the secret brotherhoods which were
formed by these strolling fighters had arisen associations which were
openly tolerated; they were arranged in two societies, as _Marxbrüder_
(the fraternity of St. Mark), and _Federfechter_ (champions of the
feather), which cherished a violent antipathy to each other. The
_Federfechter_ displayed a winged griffin on their armorial shield;
they boasted of having received privileges from a Duke of Mecklenburg,
and found later a mild patron in the Elector of Saxony. At the lists,
when they raised their swords, they called out, "Soar aloft, feather;
mark what we do; write with ink which looks like blood."[68] The
Marxbrüders, on the other hand, had for their armorial bearings a lion,
and cheered themselves by the defiant rhyme, "Thou noble lion, elevate
thy curly hair; thou perceivest the griffin; him shalt thou hew down
and tear his feathers." They were privileged by King Maximilian in
1487. These masters of the long sword were under a captain, and their
meetings were held at the harvest fair of Frankfort-on-the-Maine.
Thither resorted any one who wished to receive the freedom of their
company; he had to fence with four masters, then in public meeting to
accept a challenge from any one who chose to fight with him. If he
stood the trial, he was struck with the sword of ceremony crosswise
over the loins; he then took the oath of fellowship, and laid two
golden guldens on the sword; then he received the secret sign of
recognition of the brotherhood, and the right to instruct others in his
art, and to hold fencing schools, that is to say, to arrange public
fights. For a long time these public fights were a pleasure to
princes and citizens; after the battle of Mühlberg, they enlivened
the imprisoned Elector of Saxony during the great Imperial Diet
at Augsburg. It was considered by the people an especial privilege
for Frankfort, that it was the only town in which one could become
a prize-fighter.[69] The fighters made their way into the
prize-shootings--already at Augsburg in 1508--especially when princes
took a part in the civic pleasures. The procession, and many of the
usages of the fighters, remind one strongly of the Roman gladiatorial
games, though the combats seldom came to so bloody an end. The princes
and cities hired whole bands of fighters, who attended at the
prize-shootings and other great festivals. Thus at Stuttgardt, in 1560,
the fighters strove in pairs on the shooting-ground; the royal ladies
also drove out to see this combat; the first victor received a
beautiful waistcoat of taffety; every other prize consisted of two
thalers. At a cross-bow meeting at Zwickau, 1573, the Margrave of
Anspach introduced a fighting band of forty men, against whom the
Elector August of Saxony arranged his _Federfechters_. They contended
for two days, in pairs, with the long sword, the wooden sword, the long
spear, and the short lance, bareheaded, according to old custom, and
some made many passes without conquering the other. There was much
bravado in these combats, but they gave rise to great jealousy, violent
blows, and bad wounds.

The society of fencers outlived the prize-shootings and the great war.
They lost the old expressions for their art, but substituted French
words, and maintained their position in the larger cities in spite of
the foreign fencing-masters. In Nüremberg their public combats were
forbidden shortly before 1700; but parties long ran high among the
people for the two factions: there was no boy in the city who did not
contend for the Marxbrüder or Federfechter, who frequently gave their
performances in private houses. The last great fencing match took
place, in 1741, at Breslau, in the churchyard of Magdalena. On the day
when the young King of Prussia, with careless mien and dishevelled
hair, and his small parade sword, came to receive the homage of the
conquered Silesia on the throne of the Emperor Matthias, when the dawn
of a new time broke over Germany, the old fencers, like shadowy figures
of a distant time, performed once more their antics over the graves of
a past generation, and then passed away.

Other popular amusements intruded themselves into the prize-shootings;
the pleasures became more noisy, more abundant, and excited; and
whoever takes a view of the shooting-ground at the end of the sixteenth
century will see, from the proceedings of spectators, that times had
altered. Formerly the marksmen, among them princes and nobles, had
taken part in the public gymnastics; the Wittelsbacher had hopped on
one leg among the citizens of the imperial town, and had hurled the
heavy stone. At the end of the sixteenth century the nobles looked on,
so also did the already genteel citizen-marksmen; but the peasant lads
came in their Sunday attire, with their lasses, and performed their
country dance for the amusement of others. There was great pleasure in
seeing the peasant maidens compete in running for a camisol or a
stomacher; high springs, fluttering dresses, and sometimes a tumble in
their haste, excited especial satisfaction, and their village demeanour
contributed to increase the enjoyment of others. It was more
particularly the princes who took pleasure in all this; there seldom
failed to be grotesque processions and dances of the country people,
when a prince made the programme of the festival. The pert waggery of
the _pritschmeister_ to the country people excited a laughter on the
shooting-ground which would be offensive to us. The dancers, in
couples, garlanded with the red berries of the mountain ash, or with
carrots, advanced on the ground; men threw themselves on unsaddled
horses, and galloped past a goose which was hung above them, and the
joke was, that they slid off their nags, and the like.

The amusement of the children, also, was provided for. There was a
jesting fool, who, armed with a shield and short leather club,
challenged any one to assail him with a lance. If the challenge was
accepted, the fool knew so well how to parry the lance, throw his
opponent on his back, and belabour him with his club, that the laugh
was always on his side. Beside him stood (as at Ratisbon, in 1586) a
wild man, who threw balls into his open mouth, nine balls for a
kreuzer. A little mannikin was set on a pony: they threw at him with a
ball, and whoever hit oftenest won something. Spirited boys climbed up
a smooth pole to fetch a cock out of the basket which was hung at the

The shooting-ground was fenced in by barriers or ropes, but alongside
it stood the tents and booths, where goldsmiths laid out their goblets,
vases, spoons, and chains. The pewter-booths were great favourites,
before which they gambled for household utensils, throwing dice in the
_brente_, which was painted red and white, similar to our backgammon
board; anxious faces thronged round the gambling-booths; vagrants and
vagabonds staked more on the game than their last stolen penny; but
they were not unobserved, for the city police in their festal attire
paced gravely along these booths to see that no offence was committed
to disturb the peace of the shooting-ground. Special attention was paid
by the giver of the feast to the bowling-ground, which was then not so
frequently found in town or country, as now. There were often two,
indeed three, prepared for the festival; here, also, there were prizes
affixed. Thus, at Breslau, 1518, an ox and pewter utensils were bowled
for, on two grounds. In Silesia, Saxony, and Thuringia, they were
favourite additions to the festival.

But of all that made the festival agreeable to the people, and attained
to the greatest development, was an entertainment of a most doubtful
character,--the fortune's urn, the modest ancestor of the state and
other lotteries. As early as 1467 it made its appearance at the
cross-bow meeting at Munich. In 1470, at the great prize-shooting at
Augsburg, it was a well-known part of the programme; the prizes were
goblets, materials for dress, velvet girdles, and weapons; there were
twenty-two prizes, and more than 76,000 tickets, at eight pfennigs
each; a cook won the best prize, which was an agreeable evidence to
the people that it had been carried on honourably. By means of the
rifle-shooting at Zurich, in 1472, the urn was introduced into
Switzerland; the tickets there cost one shilling each. The drawing was
much the same as now. There was scaffolding erected in the public
place, before the council-house, and thereon a booth, in which the
prizes were placed; beside it, the secretaries and the urns. There were
two urns, into one of which the names of those were thrown who had
drawn a ticket, in the other were the prizes and blanks; a boy of
sixteen, who was placed between the urns, drew from both at the same
time. First, the name was called out, then the prize or blank. The
first ticket and the last in the urn with the names, won something; at
Zurich, a ram; those who took many tickets got them cheaper. In 1504,
at Zurich, the prizes were already in money; but in Germany the
pleasant custom still continued at the prize-shootings for another
century, of playing for artistic objects of value; the love of gambling
was great, the women especially thronged round the urn; and, if one may
judge from the lists of prizes that have been preserved, the inferior
clergy of the old church amused themselves with fortune's um. Seldom,
in the sixteenth century, did the urn fail to appear at the greater
prize-shootings; it was an important concern, and the chroniclers
recorded assiduously the prizes and fortunate winners. Thus, only to
mention one year, there were, in Central Germany alone, in 1540, two
urns of fortune; for there were prize-shootings at Frankenhausen and
Hof; at the latter the drawing lasted five days; in both cities the
last prize from the urn was the jocose prize--a sow, which had been
introduced from the shooting-ground into the urn of fortune. In 1575,
at Strasburg, the urn of fortune was very considerable; there were 275
prizes--the first, value 115 gulden; the sale of the tickets was so
rapid that they were obliged to increase the number and the prizes in
equal proportion. Count Palatine Casimir, an enterprising prince, had
bought 1100 tickets, but did not gain much. The Zuricher guests also,
with their pot of porridge, took some thousand tickets--in the name of
the fortunate ship and of their native city--which, together, cost 101
gulden; for this they won silver to about half the amount. The drawing
lasted fourteen days, and the throng of people about the urn was so
troublesome that at last they were obliged to use force to secure the

From these beginnings arose the lottery in Italy and Holland, in the
sixteenth century; first, they played for wares, but soon for money,
and it was used as a source of income by individuals, and then by
communities. The first money lottery at Hamburg was established in

Such was the course of the great feasts of arms of our ancestors. For
weeks did the multitude buzz about the shooting-ground and booths, and
in the streets of the hospitable city. When the society of marksmen had
finished the prescribed number of shots, all those to whom an equal
number of circle shots had been scored had to shoot for their prize at
a special target, and he who made the worst shot had the smallest
prize. In the same way all shot for the knightly prize who had carried
away no prize from the great shooting. The chief and the knightly
prizes were solemnly delivered with the banner; the money prizes were
in coloured silk purses, which hung to the banner; prizes and banners
were arranged beforehand in long rows for show, for in the olden days
they knew well how to make a grand display of such distinctions. Then
followed generally an after shooting for the voluntary deposits of the
shooters, more simple and unrestrained, and sometimes at other
distances. Last, on the shooting-ground, came the great farewell
oration of thanks from the giver of the feast, expressing once more to
the guests the pleasure it had given to the city. Finally, there was
the great march from the shooting-ground to the city. This was an
important ceremony. All the splendour of the festival was again
displayed in the long procession. Trumpets and pipes were blown, the
big drum and the kettle-drums thundered, the _pritschmeisters_
clattered with their bats; the dignitaries of the festival,
councillors, and _neuners_, marched in front with their long silk
scarfs; behind them the fortunate winners of the great prizes, each
with his prize borne before him, and accompanied by two men of
distinction. The other shooters followed under the banner of their
"quarter," and proudly did each carry his prize banner; but the mocking
banners also were sometimes to be seen in the procession, and humbly
were they carried by their bearers; behind them came the young
tomfools. Our ancestors were right when they moved with a feeling of
elation in such processions. The dress was already rich in colour; men
of even moderate income endeavoured to wear rich materials, silk and
velvet, on such occasions. All were accustomed to show themselves
before others, and knew well how to maintain a stately pace. With a
feather on the cap or hat, the weapon by the side, and one arm
supported on the hip under the mantle, they strode along in march time,
placing their feet wide apart, as is the custom now, thus moving the
body in an easy way, now towards the right, now the left.

Thus they went to the last evening entertainment; those who were
departing had often the escort of their friends, for protection and
honour, far into the country.

There is something very attractive to our feelings in this hospitality
given to the shooters. Not only were they frequently provided with
drink on the shooting-ground during the shooting-hours, and refreshed
by a collation, but they were at least once, and generally oftener,
entertained in the city, sometimes daily, by the councillors; besides
this, there were evening dances, in which the daughters of the most
distinguished families partook. These hospitalities to the guests, in
the fifteenth century, though very hearty, were also very simple; but
at a later period they became sometimes profuse, and when such a
festival lasted a fortnight, or, as at Strasburg, as much as five
weeks, they must have been very expensive to the givers of the feast;
more than once did critical chroniclers complain of the immoderate
demands on their city coffers. Loud reproaches were made even at
Strasburg, and it was reported of the Löwenbergers, after their
bird-shooting in 1615, that the city had exerted itself far beyond its
powers; for all had been very costly and splendid. In the fifteenth
century, they knew better how to calculate. The great cross-bow
shooting at Augsburg, in 1470, cost the city more than 2200 gulden, a
high sum according to the then value of corn; and yet the influx of
strangers was so great that the Augsburgers afterwards said they had
suffered no loss. But, indeed, the entertainment of the 466 stranger
guests was very simple.

The number of marksmen at the earlier cross-bow shootings was not
large. At Augsburg, in 1425, there were only 130; in 1434, 300; and in
1470, 466. After fire-arms had been introduced, at the great country
meetings, the number of marksmen was double. Thus, in 1485, at St.
Gallen, there were collected 208 cross-bows and 445 guns; and in 1508,
at Augsburg, there were 544 cross-bows and 919 guns. According to the
old arrangements of the shooting, this large number of men protracted
the festival to a great length; consequently, in the sixteenth century,
we find efforts sometimes made to limit the number of invitations, but
to increase the deposits of the shooters; and it appears that a
festival, with from 200 to 300 shooting-guests, was considered most
agreeable; in that case it lasted a week; the individual became of more
importance, and the body of men was easier to guide. Even with a
moderate number of marksmen, the concourse of strangers was
incomparably greater than it would be now. Each marksman was
accompanied by a lad, who waited upon him with cross-bow or gun; if
princes or nobles were invited, they arrived with a large retinue of
junkers, servants, halberdiers, and horses; a large rabble of beggars
and rogues also flocked together, and the watchmen of the city had to
guard against theft, robbery, and fire.

It was not always easy for the givers of the feast to keep order
between the inhabitants and the strangers, for, together with a natural
heartiness and wish to adapt themselves to their guests, there was in
many haughty minds a very sensitive pride of home and self-confidence,
which inclined them, more than would be the case now, to turn into
ridicule the unusual dress, manners, and language of strangers. Betwixt
certain districts there always floated, like small thunder-clouds,
certain old satirical sayings and ironical stories. Swiss and Suabians,
Thuringians and Franconians, Hessians and Rhinelanders, reported
laughable things of each other. But a word spoken when drinking, or a
mocking reminder, might disturb the peace of the festival, or excite
parties to sudden anger; and words of conciliation and redoubled
friendliness were not always successful. Thus the "_Seehasen_"[70] and
the "_Kühmelker_" had a severe quarrel at the cross-bow shooting at
Constance in 1458. A man from Constance, who was playing at dice with
one from Lucerne, called the Bernese coin plappart, which he had won, a
cow-plappart; the Lucerner fired up, blows and uproar followed. The
Lucerne marksmen remained to the end of the festival; but they
complained loudly that the laws of hospitality were broken, and their
honour wounded. After their return home the people of Lucerne and
Unterwalden raised the war-banner and fell on the territory of
Constance, the inhabitants of which had to pay 5000 gulden as an
expiation. Yet, in general, it was provided that such disturbances
should be reconciled on the spot, or satisfaction given to the guests.
Strictly were the shooting regulations administered by the chosen
judges, and zealously did hosts and guests endeavour to enhance the
feeling of duty in those belonging to them. Among the numerous
specimens of city hospitality of that time the most pleasing is the
kindly connection which existed for more than 100 years betwixt Zurich
and Strasburg, frequently interrupted by many passionate ebullitions,
but always renewed. In 1456, six years after the Swiss had established
the first great shooting-feast at Sursee, in the country of Lucerne,
some young Swiss, in the early dawn of morning, conveyed a large pot of
hot millet porridge, in a vessel, from Zurich to Strasburg; they
arrived in the evening; threw the famed Zurich rolls among the people,
and delivered the still warm millet porridge to the council of the
friendly city, as a token of how quickly their Swiss friends would come
to their aid if they ever needed it in earnest; they danced the same
night with the Strasburg maidens. After that, the excitement and
sufferings of the Reformation knit new spiritual ties betwixt Zurich
and the great imperial city. Bucer and the Swiss reformers, the
literati and artists of both cities, had been in close alliance; though
differences of confession had for a short time produced alienation. The
Strasburgers had often experienced the hospitality of the Swiss. Now
when, 150 years after the first journey of the porridge-pot, the city
of Strasbourg had again announced a brilliant prize-shooting for
crossbow and gun, and a strong detachment from Zurich had celebrated
with them the first fortnight of the cross-bow shooting, then a number
of young Zurichers, under the lead of some gentlemen of the council,
determined to repeat the old voyage. Again, like their ancestors, they
placed the great metal pot, weighing 120 pounds, filled with hot
porridge, in the ship, and voyaged in the early dawn of morning, all
dressed alike in rose and black, from the Limmat into the Aar, from the
Aar into the Rhine, with trumpeters and drummers. The places by which
the ship flew, in the sunny mid-day, greeted the jolly fellows with
acclamations; in the evening they reached Strasburg, having been long
before announced from the towers. The citizens thronged to meet them;
delegates from the council greeted them; they carried the pot on shore
and delivered it to the councillors; they scattered amongst the
children of Strasbourg 300 strings of Zurich rolls, and again were the
manly words spoken: "Quickly as we have come to-day in sport, we will
come to help in earnest." And at the abundant supper the old homely
dish, still warm, was enjoyed with pleasure. The Strasburger Fischart
has described with hearty satisfaction the journey of the porridge-pot,
and we find in his verses the warmth which then animated both hosts and
guests. The course of the voyage of the porridge-pot, and even the sums
which the Swiss deposited in the urn of fortune--"In the name of the
fortunate ship and of the parent town"--were paid by the city of
Zurich. In return they received the small silver utensils which were
won in the urn by the Zurichers. The collective costs of the journey
which Zurich then paid for its marksmen amounted to 1500 gulden.

It is of great interest to consider these brotherly festivals of the
city communities, according to districts. In the middle of the
sixteenth century, a journey from Nuremburg to Augsburg was neither so
easy nor free from danger, as now from Leipsig to Zurich. The birds of
prey of the country gladly flew from their castellated eyries into the
woods which surrounded, in wide circles, the hospitable city; more than
once was the fortunate marksman waylaid and robbed, by noble horsemen,
of the beautiful purse with the guldens he had won, and his banner
broken. Even to greater companies the road was insecure, and the
travelling toilsome; the inns at small places were frequently very bad,
without meat or drink. It is easily understood that at the largest
prize-shooting, to which every unexceptional man was welcome, persons
from a distance only took a part when accident had brought them into
the neighbourhood. Therefore it is matter of surprise that the district
to which cities sent their invitations was so large. The Wittenburghers
were welcome guests at Ratisbon and the men of Stuttgart at Meissen.
Sometimes accident or the friendship of distinguished citizens, knit
these bonds of hospitality betwixt far-distant cities; then the
invitations went forty, fifty, or one hundred miles. But, on the whole,
we may divide these hospitable cities into groups. The Swiss, Suabians,
and Bavarians were in close union. Augsburg, more than Nuremberg, was
long the centre and pattern of these groups. To it belonged the Rhine
as far as Strasbourg. The greatest and most splendid prize-shootings
were for two centuries celebrated in this part of Germany. In Bavaria,
about 1400, all the more powerful places were in firm intercommunion.
There, the city whose marksmen, at one shooting, had won the first
prize, was bound at the next shooting festival to produce the same
first prize. Thus Kehlheim, which had won the ram at Munich, invited
the Munichers, in 1404, to contend for it again.[71] But smaller
festivals also comprehended a wide circle. At Ratisbon, for example,
the Bavarians and Suabians shot with the larger cities of Thuringia and
Meissen; also with Lindau, Salzburg, and some places in Bohemia. The
Tyrolese and Salzburghers collected more especially at small shooting
meetings of their districts; so also the Franconians north of the
Maine. A lasting union of middle-sized and smaller places existed
there. This Franconian union comprehended in the sixteenth century,
together with Würzburg and Schweinfurt, forty-one cities and forty-two
villages with free peasants, particularly from the bishopric of
Würzburg and the royal county of Henneberg.

The chief prize was a neck chain--"The Jewel of the Country"--which the
victor wore round his neck for a year, and which imposed upon the
victorious place the duty of giving the next shooting meeting. If the
community of the union who had to give the feast was small and poor,
the meeting was badly attended. Thus at Neustadt, on Saale, in 1568,
only delegates from eighteen cities and three villages appeared. The
small participation of the village communities, at this period, is a
proof that their strength was diminished in comparison with the former
period. Another group comprehended the possessions of the House of
Saxony; the Thuringians and many Franconians and Meisseners who sent
the garland to one another. These also zealously maintained the
cross-bow at their prize-shootings; the popinjay was seldom erected,
except at smaller meetings, where it was long upheld. At these
festivals the Franconians, up to and beyond Nuremberg, were regular
guests; some of the Suabians and more of the German Bohemians. But, on
the frontiers of this group, at Halle, another association began, the
centre of which was Magdeburg; here the popinjay was more frequent.
Thus at the great prize-shooting at Halle, in 1601, the expression
"shooting court" appears, and many special usages. This circle embraced
the Harz cities up to Brunswick, and the Altmark, and reaches further
to the east and north, for the people of Halle sent their invitations
as far as Berlin, Brandenburg, and even Griefswald. Again, the cities
of the great province of Silesia were in close union, with Breslau for
their centre point; there the popinjay shooting attained to its highest
development, and the festivals were very frequent. Competition was not
unfrequent between two cities; thus, in 1504, between Liegnitz and
Neisse, when the Breslauers said, in answer to the invitation of
Neisse, that they had already accepted the invitation of Liegnitz,
and therefore could not go. The chief places of meeting of the cities
of middle Rhine were Cologne and Aix-la-Chapelle; but the great
prize-shootings of this country, which flourished at the end of the
fifteenth century, were embittered by religious discord. It is
remarkable that in the countries of Lower Saxony, on the North Sea and
Baltic, where the old Hanse towns had founded such noble city unions,
the prize-shootings were less frequent and distinguished. The most
zealous supporters of them were the Swiss, Suabians, Thuringians,
Meisseners, and Silesians. With the Swiss these great festivals
attained the character of exercises of arms; they were practical and
serious; the waggish humour and the tricks of the _pritschmeister_
flourished in Middle Germany.[72] It is not accidental that in the
whole of the Protestant portion of the German empire, the power and
comfort of the citizen have been most nobly developed.

If these particulars give only a very imperfect picture of the
splendour, the opulence, and the independence which were developed in
these festivals by the German cities in ancient times, yet they will
succeed in making the reader feel, that though we have gained much in
comparison with those times, we have also lost something. Only very
lately it would have appeared hazardous to the greatest city
communities to arrange festivals which, according to our rate of
money, would cost perhaps more than fifty thousand thalers; not to do
honour to the visit of some sovereign, but for the pleasure of German
fellow-citizens, and which would last three or even five weeks, and
commit many hundreds, or even thousands of guests during this period to
the friendly hospitality, partly of individuals and partly of the city
community. It is true that time has become more valuable to us, life is
enjoyed more rapidly, and we compress into days what would have
employed our ancestors for weeks. It is true that modern men seek
recreation in summer in ways which were almost unknown three centuries
ago. They isolate themselves from the bustle and hard daily labour of
the world among mountain woods and alpine valleys; whilst our
ancestors, on the contrary, sought pleasure and refreshment in large
societies of men, and left the narrow boundaries of their walls,--the
guild room and the council hall,--for those great re-unions in which
they could gain honour and prizes by their own exertions. But it must
not be forgotten that it was just in those last two centuries in which
the great civic festivals became impossible, that many general
interests were developed in German citizen life, which, however
unsatisfactory they may be, form an immeasurable step in advance of the
olden time. There is also a fundamental difference in culture which
distinguishes us from our ancestors; but this difference does not rest
on the necessary progress of a later race. We feel that the old
brotherhood of cities and districts had something noble in it, in which
our life is very deficient. The joyful self-assertion of man in social
intercourse with others, the facility with which common usages unite
together hundreds and indeed thousands, and, above all, the imposing
vigour with which cities asserted their position, all this has been too
long wanting to us. If it was seldom granted to our forefathers to
feel, on the great occasions of life, the unity of German interests in
Church and State, and through a common action and great triumph to
ennoble the life of every individual, yet they knew at least how to
open, by their fellowship, a domain in which expression was given to
the German nature, to human relations and to community of spirit.

It is only within a few years that it has become a necessity to Germans
to expand their life in this direction. It was no mere accident that
made German men of science, in their wandering meetings, the first to
give significant expression to some of the noblest interests of the
nation by national association. They were followed by the singers and
others, then the gymnasts, finally the shooters. We are now, after more
than two centuries of preparation, again treading in the same path in
which our ancestors so grandly trod, but with a freer and nobler
feeling. It has been a long-denied pleasure for us thus to be able to
vaunt ourselves. But we should at the same time be mindful, and it is
the object of these pages to remind us, that the citizen-class of
Germany has striven, for more than two centuries since the Thirty
Years' War, to become again as powerful and manly in this respect as
their ancestors were.

But even of that time of weakness, the century that followed the great
war, a picture shall be given. But it must be short. The hospitable
prize-shootings of the cities had ceased; here and there a ruler gave a
family festival, or, as a special act of grace, a large country
shooting meeting, at which prizes were awarded, and their subjects
allowed to participate. In the cities the old shooting associations
still existed, though in many cases robbed of their prize cups, chains,
and jewels; even the cautious Leipzigers had not preserved the silver
statue of their holy Sebastian. Many old customs were maintained in
their desolate shooting houses; the cross-bow, at the popinjay and
target, had dragged on a miserable existence; it lasts in a few cities
as a curiosity up to the present day; the rifled weapon became
naturalised; in larger communities the new Imperial nobility favoured
shooting guilds and their old "_Königsschiessen_,"[73] and these
festivals acquired a stiff pretentious character of pedantic state
action. This great change in the city festival,--the only meagre
feast of arms which remained to the German citizen in the eighteenth
century,--is apparent in a description of the Breslau shooting in the
year 1738. It is found where one would hardly look for it, in the
laborious work of the physician Johann Christian Kundmann, entitled
"Beruhmte Schlesier in Müntzen," 1738, i., p. 128, and is given as
follows, literally, with few omissions:--

"At this time the following solemnities were observed at the
'_Königsschiessen_.' On Whitsunday the king of the preceding year went
with the elders, the Zwinger brotherhood, also with some invited
friends, in some twenty carriages, out to the Zwinger.[74] By the side
of the carriage went the secretaries as servants, two outriders,
the markers, and the king's own servant; they were received with
kettle-drums and trumpets. After that, the perquisites of the king were
read aloud to the shooters in the room, and those who wished to shoot
for the kingdom were to sign their names with their own hand. Then
appeared two gentlemen, commissaries of the worshipful and illustrious
council, who are usually the two youngest councillors of the nobility;
they wore Spanish mantles, trimmed with lace or fringe, and placed
themselves opposite to the king in the room,--who stayed there in his
kingly attire, bearing the great golden bird. The councillors state
that they, as commissioners, have to be present at this shooting. After
this the king goes to the shooting ground, accompanied by the
commissioners, the elders, and shooters.

"As, according to old usages, a popinjay was to be the mark, a large
carved bird with outspread wings was set up, instead of a target, and
at this there were six courses, that is, each shooter fired six times.
A small silver bird, or a large _klippe_, was attached to the king as a
badge of honour, instead of the large gilt bird, which was too heavy
and incommodious to carry. He kept the badge till one of the others
had made the winning shot with a bullet. The king shoots always
first, amidst the sounding of kettle-drums and trumpets. After
these shots the new king is presented to the commissaries, by the
zwinger-orator,--usually an advocate, with a well composed speech,--and
the usual presents are presented to the king. The first gentleman of
the council answers with a similar speech. After that they go to the
zwinger repast, and when they rise from table the king is accompanied
with kettle-drums and trumpets home. Or the king and the brotherhood
march with music and wine round the city, and do honour thereby to
their patrons and good friends. The Wednesday after, the king gives his
usual silver shooting, at which there are six prizes of silver, that
consist of cups and spoons. After the completion of this, the king
gives his first entertainment.

"The Saturday following, early in the morning, about eight o'clock, the
king is conducted, with his retinue, in his costly attire, before the
illustrious and worshipful council in the council room, where the
zwinger-orator again delivers an oration, and begs for the king all the
immunities; the president answers with a similar speech, confirms him
in his kingdom, conveys to him the regal dues, and concludes with
congratulations. Then the day for the king's benefit is solicited,
generally some Monday a few weeks later. This is a pleasure shooting of
twelve courses. He who makes the best shot, and he who with gun and
dice (the equally bad shots cast lots by dice), fails most, must both
place themselves in front of the shooting-house. To the first a large
orange will be delivered on a pewter plate, together with a glass of
wine and a garland of roses, and some verses will be recited in his
praise, when the kettle-drums and trumpets will sound. But he who has
failed gets a whey cheese in a wreath of nettles on a wooden plate,
together with a glass of beer, upon which the bagpipes and a small
fiddle are played; the verses are generally very pungent, and the
zwinger poets are frequently wont to recite truths in jest to their
dear friends. Besides this, for each shot on the outer circle of the
target in all the courses, a citron is given, and in like manner to
every one who hits, a citron, an orange, or a curd cheese, which are
painted on the target, together with other pictures characteristic of
the time. Then they go to another meal, when the zwinger-orator and the
first deputy of the council deliver speeches, and distribute the
banners and prizes to the best shots and the victors in the twelve
courses, with the sounding of kettle-drums and trumpets. Then the king
gives a costly repast, which often lasts nearly till daybreak. Over the
king hangs the great king's bird: he himself sits in a large arm chair.
From thence the king is accompanied to the patrons and then home, and
this solemnity generally finishes with some merriment. Finally, the
king gives, the following day, a sausage shooting, and appoints a prize
of silver and gold; this is again concluded by an entertainment,
followed by dice playing for pewter."

Here ends the account of Kundmann. Of how little importance was such a
"_Königsschiessen_" of the seventeenth century may be gathered from the
description. The popular festival of the olden time had become a
pretentious solemnity. To do everything in a genteel way was the great
desire; only the wealthy could become kings; to drive in carriages, to
be accompanied by servants, to give costly meals and expensive prizes,
were the main objects; the shooting was a minor point: and it was very
significant that the king was no longer expected to speak publicly
before his fellow-citizens; he represented in dumb show; the advocate
spoke for the citizen at the festival also. Lastly, it may be perceived
that the remnants of some of the old jovial customs had still been
retained; they stand out in contrast to the prudery and susceptibility
of the time; the improvisation of the _pritschmeister_ had ceased, and
even the ironical verses on bad shots had to be prepared; gradually the
reminiscences of a more vigorous time were laid aside as obsolete and

It was not, however, the wretchedness of the people alone,--the bitter
fruit of the war,--that destroyed the great brotherly feasts of the
citizen, nor yet the ruling tendency to haughty exclusiveness against
all who held a modest position in life, but equally injurious was the
peculiar stamp impressed upon even the best and most highly cultivated,
after that period of humiliation.

It is time now to observe the great change in the German popular mind,
which turned the martial citizen, who knew how to use powder and shot
and to direct a gun, into the shy, timid gentleman, who hastened his
steps when he heard near him the thump of the butt end of a musket, and
feared lest his son should grow too tall, and come into the horrible
position of having to shoulder a weapon in rank and file.

This change was effected by the new polity of the princes.

                              CHAPTER IV.


The last stage of the process of dissolution which the holy Roman
empire passed through occupies the hundred and fifty years from
Oxenstern to Napoleon. The mortal disease began in 1520, when Charles
V., the Burgundian Hapsburger, was crowned Emperor of Germany; the
death struggle itself did not begin till the election of Ferdinand II.,
the Jesuit protector, in 1620. The peal of bells that celebrated the
Westphalian peace was a death-knell; what followed was the last slow
destruction of an expiring organism. But it was also the beginning of a
new organic formation. The rise of the Prussian state coincides
precisely with the end of the Thirty Years' War.

Whether joy or sorrow ought to predominate in the consideration of such
a period depends not only on the political point of view, but on the
culture and character of those who form a judgment on it. To those who
love to depict with poetic warmth the glories of a German empire, such
as perhaps might have been, the advent and character of a time so poor
in great men and in national pride can only be repugnant; whoever is in
the unfortunate position of considering the interests of the
Hapsburgers or those of the Order of Jesus as essentially German, will
form an imaginary picture of the past, which will be as far removed
from the reality, as the relique worship of the ancient church is from
the free man's worship of God. But whoever investigates temperately and
sensibly the connection of events, should be careful, in writing the
history of this period, not to forget, in the hatefulness of
appearances, to do justice to what was legitimate in the reality, and
equally so, not for the sake of what, is good, to throw a veil over
that which is odious. It is not purely accidental that it is only easy
to one who is both a Protestant and a Prussian, to regard with
conscious pride and a cheerful heart the historical development of the
last two centuries.

Immediately after the peace of Münster and Osnabruck, two views of
German politics confronted one another, the one which, in spite of the
diminution of the Hapsburg influence and the decision of the
Westphalian peace, still maintained the old traditions of Imperial
supremacy, and the other that of the great territorial princes who
sought to secure full freedom of action and independence for
themselves, and who had, in fact, become sovereigns. The history of
these opposing principles comprehends, in the main, the history of the
political development of our fatherland up to the present day. Still do
the two parties remain, but the aims and the means of agitation of both
are changed, for above them has arisen a new formation, a third party.
After 1648 it was the Imperial party who strongly proclaimed the unity
of Germany; the political supremacy was claimed for the House of
Hapsburg, and that was desired which is almost precisely what is at
present termed the diplomatic and military lead Then weak public
opinion, in which there was still a lively recollection of the old
connection with the Empire, was for the most part, even among the
Protestants, on its side, and the Imperial politicians endeavoured to
enlist supporters through the press. If a few literary men, who stood
up for German nationality in opposition to foreign influences, murmured
at the weakness of the fatherland, the conclusion always presented
itself to them, that the Emperor was pre-eminently entitled to revive
the old supremacy of the Empire. At that time the strength of this
party lay in the fact, that the only German state power of any
magnitude was that of the House of Hapsburg, but their weakness
consisted in this, that the policy of the Emperor was not in the main
German, and that the bigotry and intrigues of the Vienna court did not
inspire either the princes with fear, or the estates with confidence.
On the other hand, the opposition party of princely politicians,
looking to their own advantage, with very little consideration for the
Empire, sought the isolation of individual states, the weakening of the
connection of the Empire, the policy of the free hand and temporary
alliances of the courts among themselves, instead of submitting to the
power of the Diet; and their mutual union at the Diet, and in all
diplomatic negotiations, tended to counteract the influence and policy
of the Emperor. In the midst of this struggle betwixt two adverse
principles, a new state arose in Germany, the princes of which, allying
themselves sometimes with one party, sometimes with the other,
endeavoured to make use of both, and collected round them a nation,
which at the end of the eighteenth century appeared capable of a more
vigorous development of German strength than the inheritance of the
Hapsburgers. And so completely has the situation of Germany changed,
that now the Imperial party acts with most of the German princes
against the party of the new State. The old opponents have united in a
struggle against the new party, both in the difficult position of
having to uphold what is unsatisfactory, both under the fatal necessity
of working against a long-cherished desire of the nation.

It was a desperate political situation which placed the centre of
gravity of German power in the hands of individual German princes, and
gave them the almost unlimited disposal of the property and lives of
their subjects. The political weakness of Germany, the despotic sway
and corruption of the rulers, the servility of the subjects, the
immorality of the courts, and the dishonesty of officials, was the sad
result, and has often been sufficiently pourtrayed. But with this time
begins also the modern State life of Germany. The progress of a nation
is not always understood and valued by contemporaries, the necessary
changes are not always effected by great men; sometimes the good genius
of a nation requires the bad, the insignificant, and the shortsighted,
as instruments in a powerful reconstruction. Not in the French
revolution alone has a new life proceeded from evil deeds: in Germany
also, iron necessity, despotism, and contempt for old rights, have
produced much that we now consider as the necessary groundwork of
well-regulated State life.

The school of diplomats and statesmen who had been trained during the
war in Germany, defended the interests of the German sovereigns up to
the time of the French revolution. The endless peace negotiations
brought together in Germany the most distinguished politicians of
Europe. Pupils of Richelieu, able Netherlanders, countrymen of
Macchiavelli, and the proud followers of Gustavus Adolphus. The
struggle of antagonisms gave to a large number of talented Germans
superabundant opportunities of forming themselves; for around the
representatives of the great powers were more than a hundred political
agents, writing and haranguing. From the passionate struggle which was
brought to a conclusion at Münster and Osnabruck amid the constraint of
ceremonials and with an appearance of cold tranquillity, from the
chaotic confusion of numberless contending interests, and from the
mountains of acts, controversial writings, replications, and projects
of treaty, a generation of politicians was, after the peace, spread
over the country, hard men, with stubborn will and indomitable
perseverance, with gigantic power of work and acute judgment, learned
jurists and versatile men of the world, with great knowledge of human
nature, but at the same time sceptical despisers of all ideal feelings,
unscrupulous in the choice of means, dextrous in making use of the weak
point of an opponent, experienced in demanding and giving honour, and
well inclined not to forget their own advantage. They became the
leaders of politics at the courts and in the Imperial cities, quiet
leaders or dextrous tools of their lords--in fact, the real rulers of
Germany. They were the creators of the diplomacy and bureaucracy of
Germany. Their method of negotiating may appear to us very prolix and
pettifogging, but it is just in our time, when a superficial
dilettanteism is to be complained of in diplomacy and State government,
that the legal culture and sagacious dexterity of the old school should
be looked back upon with respect. It was not the fault of these men
that they were obliged to spend their lives in a hundred little
quarrels, and that only few of them found themselves in the happy
position of promoting a great and wise policy. But it will always be to
their honour, that under unfavourable circumstances they more than once
preserved the esteem and respect of the external enemies of Germany,
for German diplomacy, where they no longer felt it for the power of
German armies.

They regulated also the internal concerns of the devastated provinces
of the new "State." According to their model was formed the official
class, also the colleges of judges and administrators; often, it is
true, more awkward and pedantic, but just as tenacious of rank, and not
unfrequently as corruptible, as the chancellors and privy councillors
on whom they depended. The new politicians carried on also important
negotiations with the provincial Diets, and had no easy task to render
them pliant or harmless. Ever since the end of the fifteenth century
there existed, in almost all the larger territories of Germany, State
representatives of the country, who voted the taxes, attaching
conditions to such votes, and also giving their opinion on the
application of the taxes; in the sixteenth century they had attained to
increased importance, as they superintended a provincial bank, which
assisted the Government in raising money. At the end of the great war,
these provincial banks became the last and most important help, for
they had strained their credit to the uttermost to provide a war
contribution to rid the country of foreign armies. Thus after the peace
they were most influential corporations, and the existence of the great
portion of creditless sovereigns depended, in fact, upon them.
Unfortunately the provincial States were ill fitted to be the true
representatives of the country; they consisted for the most part of
prelates, lords, and knights, all of them representatives of the
nobility, who were, as regarded their own persons and property, exempt
from taxes: under them were the deputies of the desolated and deeply
involved cities. Thus they were not only inclined to lay the burden of
these money grants upon the mass of the people, but it also became
possible for the Government, through the preponderance of the
aristocratic element, to exercise every kind of personal influence.
Whilst the ruler drew the nobles of his province to his court, in order
to divert himself in fitting society, his chief officials knew how to
take advantage of their craving for rank and titles, and through
offices, dignities, and gifts, and lastly by threats of royal
displeasure, to break the resistance of individuals. Thus in the
eighteenth century the States in most of the principalities sank into
insignificance, in some they were entirely abolished. Still some
continued to exist, and did not everywhere lose their influence and

The sums, however, which they were able to grant did not by any means
suffice for the new state--to maintain a costly court, numerous
officials and soldiers. Regular imposts had to be devised which would
be independent of their grants. The indirect taxes quickly increased to
a threatening extent. The necessaries of life--bread, meat, salt, wine,
beer--and many other things, were taxed to the consumers, at the end of
the seventeenth century. The custom and excise officials were stationed
at the city gates, and custom-houses were placed at the frontiers, for
the merchandise which passed in and out. Commercial intercourse was
made use of through stamped paper, even the pleasures of the subject
were made available for the state; for example (in 1708 in the Imperial
hereditary lands), not only public but private dances were taxed, and
also, in 1714, tobacco. At last the poor comedians were likewise
obliged to pay a gulden for each representation, and even the quack and
eye doctors paid at each yearly market a few kreuzers, and heavy claims
were made on the Jews. It was long before either people or officials
could accustom themselves to the pressure of the new imposts; the
tariff and the mode of levying it were always being altered, and
frequently the governments saw with dissatisfaction their expectations
disappointed. On the impoverished people the pressure of the new taxes
fell very severely; loud and incessant were the complaints in the
popular literature.

Meanwhile the subject worked with the plough and the hammer; he sat at
the writing-desk, and saw around and over him everywhere the wheels of
the great state machine; he heard its clicking and creaking, and was
hindered, tormented, and endangered by its every movement. He lived
under it as a stranger, timid and suspicious. In about six hundred
great and small courts, he saw daily the splendid households of his
rulers, and the gold-embroidered dresses of the court people; the lace
of the lacqueys and the tufts of the footmen were to him objects of the
highest importance, his usual topic of discourse. When the ruling lord
kept a grand table, the citizens had sometimes the privilege of seeing
the court dine. When the court, forming a sledge party, or a so-called
_wirthschaft_,[75] drove through the streets in disguise, the subjects
might look on. In winter they might even themselves take a share in a
great masquerade, but a barrier was erected which separated the people
from the sports of the court. Once the prince had contended with the
citizens, shooting at the same target, and was only treated in the
jokes of the _pritschmeister_ with somewhat greater consideration. Now
the court were entirely separated from the people; and if a courtier
condescended to notice a citizen, it was generally no advantage to the
purse or family peace of the privileged one. Thus the poor citizen
acquired an abject feeling. To obtain an office or title which would
give him somewhat of this courtly power, became the object of his
ambition, and the same even with the artisan. In the five or six
hundred court establishments the desire for titles spread from the
nobles and officials down to the lowest class of the people. Shortly
before 1700 began the monstrous custom of giving court titles to the
artisans, and with these an order of precedence. The court shoemaker
tried by petitioning and bribery to obtain the right of nailing the
coat of arms of his sovereign over his door; and the court tailor and
court gardener quarrelled bitterly which should go before the other,
for the tailor, according to the letter of the rule of precedence,
went as a matter of course before the gardener, but the latter had
obtained the right of bearing a sword.[76] Wealth was the only thing
besides rank that gave a privileged position. Whoever calls ours a
money-seeking time, should remember how great was the influence of
money in former times, and how eagerly it was sought by the poor. The
rich man could, it was thought, effect everything. He could be made a
nobleman, provided with a title, or by his presents put his rulers
under an obligation to him. These presents, were in general received
willingly. Greedily did the chancellor, the judge, or the councillor
accept them, and even the most sensitive rarely withstood a delicately
offered gift. The protection, however, obtained by the citizen in the
new state was still very deficient; it was difficult for him to obtain
justice against people of distinction and influence. Lawsuits in most
of the German territories were endless. A difficult case of
inheritance, or a bankruptcy business, would go on to the second and
third generation. Government, with the best will, could not always
punish even violent injury to property from burglary or robbery. It is
instructive to investigate the proceedings against the bold robber
bands; even when they succeeded in catching the delinquent, the stolen
goods could seldom be restored to the owners. The neighbouring
governments sometimes delivered up, on requisition and petition, the
criminal who had found an asylum in their country, but such deliveries
were generally preceded by special influence, and frequently by
presents of money; but the confiscated possessions of the criminal were
in many cases retained, and disappeared in the hands of the officials.
When in 1733, at Coburg, a gold and silver manufactory was robbed, and
strong suspicion fell on a wealthy Jewish trader, the proceedings were
often stopped and interfered with, in consequence of the relations the
Jew had with the court; and even after he was known to be in intimate
connection with a band of robbers and murderers, the proceedings
against his assistants could not be pursued further, because the
magistrates of the place in Hesse where the robbers dwelt, helped their
flight; and the further ramifications of the band, which spread to
Bavaria and Silesia, could not be traced on account of the
unwillingness of the tribunals. And yet this trial was carried on with
great energy, and the person who had been robbed had made distant
journeys and offered large sums. Everywhere the multiplicity of rulers,
and the dismemberment of territories, were productive of weakness. The
Margravate of Brandenburg and a portion of Lower Saxony formed almost
the only great connected unity, except the Imperial possessions. In the
rest of Germany lay interspersed many thousands of large and small
domains, free cities, and parcels of land appertaining to the nobility.
But even a modest pride in their own province could not be cultivated
in individuals. For each of the countless frontiers occasioned far more
isolation than in the olden time. Even in the larger cities, excepting
in the cities on the Northern Ocean, municipal spirit had disappeared.
Besides his own interests, the German had little to occupy him but the
tittle-tattle of the day concerning family events and any remarkable
news. It may be seen from many examples how trifling, pedantic, and
malicious was the talk of the city for three generations, and how
morbidly sensitive, on the other hand, men had become. Anonymous
lampoons in prose and verse, an old invention, became ever more
numerous, coarse, and malicious; they stirred up not only families, but
the whole community of citizens; they became dangerous for the
propagators, if they ever ventured to, attack any influential person or
royal interests. Yet they increased everywhere; no government was in a
position to prevent them; for an artful publisher easily found
opportunity to print and distribute them on the other side of the

Under such circumstances some qualities were developed in the German
character which have not yet quite disappeared. A craving for rank and
title, servility to those who, whether as officials, or as persons of
rank, lived in a higher position, fear of publicity, and above all a
striking inclination to form a morose, mean, and scornful judgment of
the character and life of others.

This gloomy, hopeless, discontented, and ironical disposition showed
itself everywhere, after the Thirty Years' War, by individuals giving
vent to their thoughts about the state within whose jurisdiction they
lived. It is true that the Germans continued after the great war to
take an interest in politics: newspapers of all kinds increased
gradually, and bore the news to every house; confidential reports from
the seats of government and great commercial cities were circulated;
the half-yearly reports of fairs comprised an abstract of the
occurrences of many months; and numberless flying sheets, representing
party interests, appeared upon every weighty event, both internal and
external. The execution of the king, in England, was generally
condemned by German readers as a frightful crime, and the sympathies of
the whole nation were long with the Stuarts; but shortly before William
of Orange put to sea against James II. it was read and believed that
James had ventured to substitute a false child as heir to the throne.
No one, however, excited public opinion so strongly against himself as
Louis XIV. If ever a man was hated by the whole of Germany, he was. It
is remarkable, that whilst the manners of his court and the fashions of
his capital were everywhere imitated by the upper classes, and even the
people could not escape from their influence, his politics were from
the first rightly estimated by them. Countless were the flying sheets
which were scattered about from all sides against him. He was the
disturber of the peace, the great enemy, and in the lampoons also the
proud fool. After the Palatinate was laid in ashes, the people called
their dogs Melac and Teras; after the taking of Strasburg, a deeper cry
of woe passed through the land. Finally, when in the great War of
Succession the German armies long kept the upper hand, a feeling of
self-respect was excited, which appeared in the small literature of the
day. Had there been a German prince who could have awakened an
energetic patriotism in the weak people, this hatred would have helped
him. But a powerful outburst of patriotic feeling was hindered by the
political condition of the country; in Cologne and Bavaria, French
printing-presses were at work, and German pens wrote against their own

One cannot, therefore, say that the Germans were deficient altogether
in political feeling in the century from 1640 to 1740, for it burst
forth everywhere; even in works of imagination, in novels, and also in
the drama, political conversation found a place, as did aesthetic talk
in Goethe's time. But it was unfortunate that this feeling vented
itself on the political quarrels of other countries, and that the
transactions in Germany itself, excited less interest than the daily
occurrences of the Parisian court, or the abdication of the Queen of
Sweden. The indifferent public still continued to occupy itself as
earnestly about comets, witches, appearances of the devil, a quarrel
amongst ecclesiastics, disputes between councillors and citizens of
some Imperial city, or the conversion of some small prince by the
Jesuits, as about the battle of Fehrbellin. The preparations of the
Turks and the war in Hungary were, perhaps, spoken of with a shake of
the head; but to pay money for it, or render assistance, was seldom
thought of; even after the siege of Vienna by the Turks, in 1683, Count
Stahremberg was scarcely as interesting to the great German public as
the spy Kolschitzky, who had brought the account from the city to the
Imperial main army; his figure was engraved in copper in Turkish dress,
and sold in the market. It is true he shared this glory with every
distinguished thief and murderer who had ever been executed anywhere,
to the great diversion of the public. Sometimes, indeed, the attention
of the Germans was fixed with deeper interest on one man, the Elector
of Brandenburg. In Southern Germany, also, he was spoken of
respectfully; he was a powerful-minded prince, but, unfortunately, his
means were small. This was the general opinion; but, as upon his
character, so, likewise, upon other vital questions, did the German
people give their opinion with as much tranquillity as if it were a
question of the Muscovite Czar, or of the distant Japan, concerning
which Jesuit accounts had been narrated centuries before. And this was
not the result of the trammels of the press, though it certainly was
much fettered; for, in spite of all the recklessness with which the
ruling powers sought to revenge themselves on its unruly spirit, the
multiplicity of states, and the mutual hatred of neighbouring
governments, made it difficult to crush an unbridled press. It was
other causes which made the people so indifferent to their own

Neither was it deficiency in judgment. If the numberless political
discourses of that time are clumsy and diffuse in composition, without
any sufficient knowledge of facts and persons, yet they deserve credit
for much sound sense and frequently a surprising comprehension of the
condition of Germany. The Germans, even before 1700, were not deficient
in political discernment; nay, before the Thirty Years' War, much
progress was apparent. But it was their peculiar characteristic that,
with this comprehension of their dangerous situation, of the
helplessness of the Empire, and of its miserable, dislocated state, the
people calmly and quietly recognised it with a shake of the head; even
their literary teachers were rarely roused to manly indignation, still
less to determined will, nor even to form fruitless projects. Thus, the
nation in the seventeenth century might be compared to a hopeless
invalid, who, free from the excitement of fever, soberly, calmly, and
sensibly contemplates his own condition. We know, indeed, that it is
our own century which has cured this morbid state of the German people;
but we also perceive the cause of the singular, cold, and gloomy
objectiveness which became so peculiar to our nation, and of which
traces are yet to be discovered in many individuals. It is the disease
of a rightly-gifted, genial nature, whose volition has been crushed by
the horrors of war and the struggles of fate, and whose warm heart has
been benumbed. A clear, circumspect, just spirit remains to the German;
noble political enthusiasm is lost to him. He no longer finds pleasure
and honour in being the citizen of a great State; he has no nation that
he loves, no State that he honours; he is an individual among
individuals; he has well-wishers and detractors, good friends and bad
enemies, scarcely any fellow-citizens as yet, scarcely yet any

As characteristic of such a frame of mind, a flying-sheet will here be
given, which, in the allegorical style of the seventeenth century,
makes bitter observations on the new State policy. Even during the
great war, Bogislaw Philipp Chemnitz, one of the most zealous and
talented adherents of the Swedish party, made a prodigious sensation by
a book, in which he complains of the Imperial house as the principal
cause of the misery of Germany, and finds the only salvation of the
country in the independence and complete power of the German princes.
From the title of the book,[77] "_Staatsraison_," this expression
became the usual term for denoting the new system of government which,
after the peace, began to prevail in the German territories. Since
that, this _Staatsraison_ was through half a century condemned in
numerous moral treatises from the popular press; it was represented as
double and triple headed, and in books, pictures, and satirical verses,
always accused of being arbitrary, hard, and hypocritical. To this
effect are the contents of the following work, which is here given with
some abbreviations and alterations which are indispensable for its
easier comprehension[78]:--

"As the _ratio status_ is now not only honoured in the world, but held
to be an irrevocable law, so are truth and honesty, on the other hand,
no longer valued. When a situation in the service of the state is
vacant, there is, indeed, no want of candidates; but out of nine the
prince finds scarcely three that will suit him. Therefore, they must be
examined. And if, in the examination, any one, in answer to the
question, what should be the first and most distinguished virtue of a
prince's councillor, should say: 'The men of the olden time teach that
a prince should be none other than a servant for the general welfare;
therefore, it is his duty to rule according to law and justice, for God
and nature have implanted in the heart of every one a true balance for
weighing the gold; do to others as you would they should do unto you;'
then the prince would give him a courteous dismissal.

"Such a candidate had not long ago got through an examination at a
certain court, by shrewd and cautious answers; he was nominated
councillor, and as the prince was kindly disposed towards him,
he gave him in marriage the daughter of his vice-chancellor. After
the new councillor had taken the oath of fidelity and secresy, the
vice-chancellor got the keys of the state apartments, and took his
son-in-law in to initiate him into state secrets.

"In the first room hung many state mantles of all colours, on the
outside beautifully trimmed, but badly lined inside, a portion of them
having wolf or fox skins in addition to the bad lining. The son-in-law
expressed surprise at this, but the chancellor answered: 'These are
state mantles, which must be used when one has to propose anything
suspicious to subjects, in order to persuade them that black is white;
then must one disguise the matter in the mantle of state necessity, in
order to induce the subjects to submit to contributions, rates, and
other taxes. Therefore, the first mantle, embroidered in gold, is
called the welfare of the subject; the second, with fringe, the
advancement of the commonwealth; the third, which is red, the
maintenance of divine service: it is used when one desires to drive any
one, whom one cannot otherwise catch, from house and home, or give him
a bloody back, under pretence of false teaching. The fourth is called
zeal for the faith; the fifth, the freedom of fatherland; the sixth,
the maintenance of privileges.' Last of all, there hung one very old
and much worn, like an old banner or horse cover, concerning which the
son-in-law laughed, wondering much; but the father-in-law said--'The
daily and too great misuse of this has worn the hair off, but it is
called good intentions, and is oftener sought after at the courts of
the great than daily bread. For, if one lays insupportable burdens on
subjects, and reduces them to skin and bone with soccage service, and
if one cuts the bread from their mouths, it is said to be done with the
best intentions; if one begins an unnecessary war, and plunges the
country and its inhabitants in a sea of blood under fire and sword, it
is done with the best intentions. Who could know that it would turn out
so ill? If one sends innocent people to prison or to the rack, or
drives them into utter misery, and their innocence comes to light,
still it must have been with good intentions. If one passes an unjust
judgment from hatred, envy, favour, bribery, or friendship, it is only
done with a good intention. It comes at last to such a point, that one
shall make use of the help of the devil with the best intentions. If
one or other of these mantles are too short to disguise the roguery,
one may cloak it with two, three, or more.' This room appeared very
strange to the new councillor; he, nevertheless, followed his noble
father-in-law into another; there they found all sorts of masks, so
ingeniously formed both in colour and features that they might be the
natural faces of men. 'When the mantles,' said the chancellor, 'do not
suffice to the attainment of the above-mentioned object, one must make
a change; for if one appears too often in one or the other mantle
successively before the States, or subjects, or before neighbouring
potentates, they at last learn to understand it, and say: "It is the
old story; we know what he wants, he wishes to obtain money; but how
can we always get it? One might at least be informed to what these
repeated taxes are applied." The masks serve to meet this discontent
One is called the oath; another, calumny; a third, deceit; these delude
people, be they good or bad, and effect more than all the arguments of
logic. But, above all, the oath is the masterpiece of court logic; for
an honourable man always thinks that another is like-minded with
himself; he holds more to an oath and good faith than to all temporal
goods; but if a man is a knave, he must still give credence to an oath,
otherwise he puts himself under suspicion that he neither values oaths
nor duty. If both the others fail, calumny must be resorted to, to
relieve subjects from the burden of some thousand gulden according to
their means.'

"In the third chamber were hanging, in all directions, razors and brass
basins; the shelves were covered with cupping-glasses and sponges.
There were many vessels containing strong alkalies, tourniquets, and
pincers, and shears lay on the tables and window-seats. The young
councillor crossed himself; what could they have to do at court with
this surgical apparatus, as even many artisans hesitate to admit
bath-keepers, shepherds, millers, and trumpeters into their guilds? 'It
is not so ill imagined,' said the old man; 'this is the least deceptive
handiwork of the state policy, and is more profitable than pen and ink.
It is so necessary, that no prince, without this handiwork, can long
maintain with dignity his state and his reputation; and its use is so
general, that even the country nobles practise it in a masterly way on
their peasants; hence the maxim comes, that "If a nobleman draws too
much blood from the peasants' veins, he himself is ruined." Of
what use to the prince are his land and people, if he cannot shear
their wool for the rents that are due, and draw contributions with
cupping-glasses, and cleanse disobedient leaders by the alkali of sharp
punishment? Nay, the potentates shave, pinch, and cup one another,
also, whenever they can. Thus did the generals in the last war draw,
now from the Imperial cities, now from the benefices, much of their
best blood; and the Holy Roman Empire has been as severely pinched by
foreign crowns as if it had been done by born bath-servants, only they
have made the lie too hot. Many have held the basin to the foreigners,
and things have gone so far, that insignificant cavaliers have ventured
to shear other princes. But what the princes do not do in person is
performed by their councillors, treasurers, and other officials, who
allow themselves to be used as the sponge, and where they have attached
themselves to an office, a city, or a village, and have sucked up so
much moisture that they well-nigh burst asunder, then comes the prince,
and gives them such a squeeze of the hand, that they are obliged to
disgorge all that they have absorbed, and become as empty as cast-off
serpent skins.'

"Silently did the young councillor listen, and entered the fourth
chamber. There lay many cases of state spectacles of different kinds.
'Some, when they are put on, make a thing ten times larger than it is,
so that a midge appears like an elephant--a thread like a rope--and a
farthing like a rose-noble; they serve to blind the eyes of subjects.
If the prince presents them with a couple of timber-trees, remits
somewhat of their contribution, or gives them the liberty to appear
before him in velvet and silk, they prize this as highly as if he had
given them many thousand ducats. These spectacles so injure the eyes of
the unfortunate courtiers, that the least favour, such as the prince
laying his hand upon their shoulder, or even looking upon them, is
valued more highly than if they had received from him a rent of 500
gulden. Nay, the prince has, through his most august understanding,
discovered a special profitable use of these spectacles. If he finds
the States unwilling to give him contributions, he gets up a cry that
the enemy is at hand; that we need thus much and more of provisions,
money, and men to meet the barbarous enemy, otherwise all would fall
into his jaws. By these exaggerations the people are rendered willing,
and give as much as they possibly can. But so soon as the fish is
caught, then it is found that God has roused up great princes, who, for
the sake of peace, have mediated, and the contributions are used for
other purposes. Another kind of spectacles have, on the contrary, the
property of making a mountain appear not greater than a hazel-nut or
bean; they are fixed on the cities and frontier lands, right in the
face of which the princes have built castles and fortresses; in order
to persuade them that these are only pleasure and garden houses,
custom-houses and hunting-boxes. The third kind of spectacles, through
which the white appears black, and the black snow white, will always be
used when one wishes anything bad to have a glittering appearance; they
serve also for those who are induced to marry--under the supposition
that they are virtuous ladies--the females who wait upon the royal
household, make their beds, and curl their hair.'

"After this the chancellor reached down a box of brown powder, and
desired his son-in-law to guess what it was. 'It is eye-powder or
dust,' said the old man, 'which rulers sprinkle in the eyes of their
subjects. It is one of the principal tricks to keep the populace quiet;
for when there arise among them turbulent spirits, who open the eyes of
subjects by certain political doctrines, and lead them to inquire into
the secrets of government, to read the hearts of princes, bring
together their grievances, and attach themselves to lynx-eyed
agitators, then insurrection and war are at the door.' After this a
vessel of court-peas was produced. The old man stated that this was one
of the most noxious expedients employed at court, not indeed used by
the rulers, but by their false courtiers. 'How so?' said the son. 'I
regret that I must explain it to you,' answered the father, 'for I
fear, if I teach it you too well, you may sometime try the art upon
myself; where gain is to be made one puts even a father's nose out of
joint. The peas are strewed in the council-room and chancery, on the
stairs, here and there, in the hope of tripping up those whom you
cannot otherwise get rid of, especially if they are conscientious, and
think they can make their way by good intentions.

"'As most of the potentates know little themselves of these political
tricks, unless Machiavellian councillors make them acquainted with
them, who can blame the councillors if they make use of their secret to
enrich and elevate themselves? Then follows the state policy of private
persons, for where God builds a church the devil will have a chapel
also; thus I have, by the side of my sovereign's principality, made
myself a small one, and as I am now becoming old I will reveal to you,
my son-in-law, these tricks, that you may be able to follow in my
steps. But to the point I have never soiled myself with peasants and
their dung-carts, but preferred great assemblages. Imperial, electoral,
and princes' diets; for the larger the pond, the better it is to fish
in. Yet have I so far acted with moderation that I have never
intermeddled too far nor tied myself to one party alone; but have
always remained a free man. Like the sleek fox, I adapted myself to
every one's humour and business, and turned to the best account my
jests. I led the various parties by the nose, so that they always had
recourse to me, followed and trusted me; and, moreover, allowed
themselves to be fooled. Thus I did from the beginning. When my prince
discovered these qualities in me, he made me his councillor and then
chancellor. Now the nobles must bring with them whole cartloads of
wine, whole waggons full of corn, and the like gifts, if they would
obtain a favourable decision in chancery, or wish to procure a bill of
feoffment or decree of court. All the citizens and peasants, too, must
make presents, or their causes lie in a heap undecided. But especially
the following trick brought me good luck: When a rich man, having
committed an evil deed, has been ill spoken of by the prince, &c., then
I gave him to understand how great was the anger of the prince against
him, and that it might cost him his life if he did not employ me in the
business. If he agreed, I concealed his guilt; or, at least, helped him
out of it. But if he did not, I would institute a suit against him, and
he was exposed to danger and death. If he endeavoured to succeed,
through the means of attorneys, in spite of me, I would make use of all
my cunning to prevail against and ruin him. When the fox's skin did not
answer, I assumed that of the lion; what I could not acquire by wiles
and cunning, I usurped _de facto_, and discovered how I could obtain by
violence. If any one complained of the old chancellor, and wished to
bring a suit against him at court, I offered to submit myself to a
judicial action, for the councillors, as colleagues, were on my side. I
displaced in village and field the boundary stone, made other ditches
and frontier lines, squeezed out of my neighbours some hundred
_morgens_ of arable land, meadows, and woods. In like manner I laid
hands on the property of rich widows, orphans, and wards; bought rents
and perpetual leases, and lent out money which, in three years, was
doubled. It would be tedious to relate the gains I made by assignments,
bills of exchange, wine, corn, and salt traffic.'

"All this the son-in-law listened to with great attention, and said,
'Noble father, you have well administered for your family, and brought
it into prosperity; but the question is whether your descendants will
prosper so as to inherit it in the third or fourth generation; for
"ill-gotten gains seldom prosper."'

"'That signifies as little to me as a midge on the wall. Let any one
say what he will, I, on the other hand, have what I will. He who would
gain something must venture something, and not mind what people say. I
have revealed and confided to you more than to my own wife and
children. Now come home with me to supper.'"

Such is the purport of the sad irony of the flying sheet, which is
peculiarly appropriate here, as it evidently gives expression to the
common sentiments of the time. At the conclusion of it one particular
intrigue of a small German court is more alluded to than related.

Even after 1700, this cold, bitter way of speaking of the political
condition of Germany continued generally; for the "_aufklärungs_"
literature, which sprang up at this period, altered the style more than
the spirit. Indeed, from the end of the War of Succession till 1740,
during the longest period of peace which Germany had experienced for a
century, a diminution of political interest is discernible in the
small literature. It is always the extraordinary destinies of
individuals which more specially interest the public--the prophecies of
a Pietist, the trial of a woman for child murder, the execution of an
alchymist, and such like. When on Christmas night, 1715, two poor
peasants were suffocated by coal vapours in a vineyard-hut at Jena,
whilst they, together with a student and a torn copy of Faust's book of
necromancy, were endeavouring to raise a great treasure, this
misfortune gave rise to full a dozen flying sheets--clerical, medical,
and philosophical--which fiercely contended as to whether the claw of
the devil or the coals had been the cause of death. All the battles
that had been fought, from that of Hochstädt to Malplaquet, had not
made a greater sensation. Even in the "Dialogues from the Kingdom of
the Dead,"--a clumsy imitation of Lucian, in which opinions were given
of the public characters of the day,--it is evident that it is more
particularly the anecdotes and the private scandal which attracted the
people. Once more an interest was powerfully excited by the expulsion
of the Protestant Salzburger; but in the year 1740 a great political
character impressed itself on the soul of Germany, and announced by the
thunder of his cannon the beginning of a new time.

But it was not the "State system" alone which loosened the connection
of the burgher class, and turned the German into an isolated
individual: the powers which usually confirm and strengthen the united
life of individuals, faith and science, worked to the same effect.

                               CHAPTER V.

                  "DIE STILLEN IM LANDE," OR PIETISTS.

The contrast between the epic time of the Middle Ages, and the new
period which has already been often called the lyrical, is very
perceptible in every sphere of human life, and not least in the realm
of faith.

The Roman Catholic Church of the Middle Ages had consecrated the life
of every individual by a multitude of pious usages, and shut it up in
an aristocratic spiritual state, in which the spirit of the individual
was fast bound in rigid captivity, with little spontaneous action. The
Reformation destroyed in the greater part of Germany these fetters of
the popular mind; it set freedom of decision and mental activity in
opposition to the outward constraint and splendid mechanism of the old
Church. But Protestantism gave a system of doctrine, as well as freedom
and depth, to the German mind. In the great soul of Luther, both these
tendencies of the new faith were in equilibrium; the more passionately
he struggled for his explanation of holy writ and the dogmas of his
school, the stronger and more original was the mental process through
which, after his own way, he sought his God in free prayer. It is,
nevertheless, clear that the great progress which accrued to the human
race from his teaching, could not fail to result in forming two
opposite tendencies in Protestantism. The two poles of every religion,
knowledge and the emotions of the soul, the intellectual boundaries of
religious knowledge and the fervid resignation of self to the Divine,
must prevail in the soul with varying power, according to the wants of
the individual and the cultivation of the period; now one, now the
other will preponderate, and the time might arrive when both tendencies
would come into strife and opposition. At first Protestantism waged war
against the old Church, and against the parties that arose within
itself,--a necessary consequence of greater freedom and independence of

It is difficult to judge how far this liberal tendency of Protestantism
would have led the nation, if adversity had not come upon them. The
great war, however, gave rise to a peculiar apathy even in the best.
Each party engaged bore a token of their faith upon their banners, each
brought endless misfortune upon the people, and in all, it was apparent
how little baptism and the Lord's Supper availed to make the professors
of any confession good men. When the flames of war were dying away, men
were much inclined to attribute a great portion of their own misery and
that of the country to the strife of the contending persuasions. It
naturally followed that the colder children of the world attached
little value to any religion, and turned from it with a shrug of the
shoulder when the old ecclesiastical disputes, which even during the
war had never been entirely silenced, began to rage with loud bluster
in the pulpit and the market-place. In many districts the mass of the
people had been compelled, by dragonades and the most, extreme methods
of coercion, to change their persuasion three and four times, and the
formulas of belief were not more valued by them, from their having
learnt them by rote. Thus waste and empty had become the inward life of
the Church, which, together with the coarseness and vices introduced
among men by the long war, gave to the ten years after it an aspect so
peculiarly hopeless. There was little to love, very little to honour
upon earth.

Yet it was just at this period, when each individual felt himself in
constant fear of death, that a kind Providence often interposed to save
them from destruction. Sudden and fearful were the dangers, and equally
sudden and wonderful the rescue. That the strength of man was as
nothing in this terrible game of overwhelming events, was deeply
imprinted on the soul of every one. When the mother with her children
hid herself trembling in the high corn whilst a troop of horsemen were
passing by, and in that moment of danger murmured a prayer with
blanched lips, she naturally ascribed her preservation to the special
protection of a merciful God. If the harassed citizen, in his
hiding-place in the woods, folded his hands and prayed fervently that
the Croats who were plundering the town might not find his concealed
treasure, and afterwards, upon raking up the cinders of his burnt
house, found his silver pieces untouched, he could not help believing
that a special Providence had blinded the greedy eyes of the enemy.
When terrible strokes of fate overtake individuals in rapid succession,
a belief in omens, forebodings, and supernatural warnings is inevitably
fostered. Whilst the superstition of the multitude fixes itself on the
northern lights and falling stars, on ghosts and the cry of the
screech-owl, more polished minds seek to discover the will of the Lord
from dreams and heavenly revelations. The long war had, it is true,
hardened the hearts of men against the miseries of others; it had also
deprived them of all equability of mind; and the vacant gaze into a
desolated world, and cold indifference, were in most only interrupted
by fits of sudden weakness, which perhaps were produced by
insignificant causes, and a reckless sinner was suddenly plunged into
sorrow and contrition. Life was undoubtedly poor in love and elevation,
but the necessity of loving and honouring which lies so deep in the
German nature, after the peace, sought painfully for something high and
steadfast, in order to give an aim and an interest to his poor wavering
life. Thus the mind clung to the holy conceptions of faith, which it
again with quiet reverence endeavoured to realise heartily,
affectionately, and confidingly.

From such longings in the hearts of the people, a new life was
developed in the Christian Church. It was not only among the followers
of Luther, but equally in the Calvinistic persuasion, and almost as
much in the Roman Catholic Church; it was also not only in Germany and
the countries which then partook of German cultivation, Denmark,
Sweden, Eastern Sclavonia, and Hungary, but almost at the same time in
England, and even earlier in France and Holland, where religious schism
and political faction have rent asunder the souls of men in bitter
controversy for centuries. Nay, even among the Jesuits we may find the
working of this same craving after a new ideal in a cheerless life. In
the history of the Christian Church, this Pietism--as the new tendency
has been called by its opponents since 1674--has been a transitory
impulse, which blossomed and withered in little more than a century.
The effect it has exercised on the culture, morals, and spirit of the
German people may still be perceived. In some respects it has been an
acquisition to the nation, and a short account of it shall now be

As this Pietism was no new doctrine proclaimed by some great reformer,
but only a tendency of the spirit which burst forth among many
thousands at the same time, the greater number of its professors
remained firm at first in the dogmas of their church. In fact, in the
beginning it only expressed wide-spread convictions, to which the best
natures had already, before the Thirty Years' War, given utterance;
that the points of union of religions parties, and not the deviations
of doctrinal opinions, were the main objects of faith; that personal
communion with God was independent of dogmas; that it availed little to
hear sermons and take the sacrament, to confess that one was a great
sinner and relied on the merits of Christ only and not on our own
works, nor to refrain from great sins and to say a few lifeless prayers
at appointed hours. And yet this was the usual Christianity of both
ecclesiastics and laity: a dead faith, a mere outward form of
godliness, the letter without the spirit. Little did the baptism of
children signify without conversion on arriving at maturity, little
also did communionship with the church avail, by which the laity only
received passively the gifts of salvation: each individual ought to
establish the priesthood of the Lamb in his own heart. Such was the
feeling of thousands. Of the many in Germany that followed this
tendency of the heart, none exercised for many years so great an
influence as Jacob Spener, between 1635 and 1705. Born in Alsace, where
for more than a century the doctrines of Luther and of the Swiss
reformers flourished conjointly and contended together, where the
learning of the Netherlands and even the pious books of England were
harboured, his pious heart early imbibed a steadfast faith through the
earnest teaching of schools, and under the protection accorded to him
by ladies of distinction in difficult times. Even as a boy he had been
severe upon himself and when he had once ventured to a dance he felt
obliged to leave it from qualms of conscience. He had been a tutor at a
prince's court, and also studied at Basle. At Geneva he saw with
astonishment how Jean de Labadie, by his sermons on repentance, had
emptied the wine-houses, caused gamblers to give back their gains, and
stamped upon the hearts of the children of Calvin the doctrines of
inward sanctification and of following after Christ with entire
self-renunciation. From thence Spener went to Frankfort-on-the-Maine as
pastor, and by his labours there produced a rich harvest of blessing,
which assumed ever-increasing proportions, and soon procured him
followers throughout Germany. Happily married, in prosperous
circumstances, peace-loving and prudent, with calm equanimity and
tender feelings, a loving, modest nature, he was specially adapted to
become the counsellor and confidant of oppressed hearts. Over women
especially this refined, kind-hearted, dignified man had great
influence. He established meetings of pious Christians in a private
dwelling; they were the far-famed _Collegia pietatis_, in which the
books of the holy Scriptures were explained and commented upon by the
men, whilst the women listened silently in a space set apart for them.
When later he had to deliver these discourses in the church, they lost,
for the zealous, the attractive power which in the calm exclusiveness
of the select society they had exercised; parties arose, and a portion
of his scholars separated from the church. He himself, after twenty
years of active exertion, was called from Frankfort to Dresden, and
from thence soon after to Berlin.

Spener himself was disinclined to sectarianism, the mysticism of Arndt,
and still more of Jacob Böhme, was repulsive to him, and he disapproved
when some of his friends abandoned the church; he struggled incessantly
against the enemies who wished to drive him out of it, and during the
last half of his life maintained a quiet struggle against his own
followers, who publicly showed their disrespect to the dogmas of the
church. He was decidedly no enthusiast; that the Christian religion was
one of love, that in one's own life one was to imitate that of Christ,
and value little the transitory pleasures of the world, that, after his
example, one was to show love to one's fellow-creatures: this was
always the noble keystone of his teaching. And yet there was something
in his nature, without his wishing it, which was favourable to the
isolation and seclusion in which, in the following century, the
religious life of the Pietists wore away. The stress which he laid upon
private devotion, and the solitary striving of the soul after God, and,
above all, the critical distrust with which he regarded worldly life,
could not fail to bring his followers soon into opposition with it. The
insignificance and shallowness of many pretenders to sanctity who clung
yearningly to him, made it inevitable that a similar mode of feeling
and of judging life would shortly become mere mannerism, which would
show itself in language, demeanour, and dress.

God was still the loving Father who was to be stormed by the power of
prayer, and might be moved to listen. But this generation had learnt
resignation, and a gentle whisper to God took the place of the urgent
prayer in which Luther had "brought the matter home to his Lord God."
The inscrutable ways of Providence had been imprinted by fearful
lessons on the soul, and the progress of science gave such presage of
the grandeur of the world's system, that the weakness and
insignificance of man had to be more loudly proclaimed. The sinner
had become more in awe of his God, the _naïve_ ingenuousness of
the Reformation was lost. The craving for marvels had therefore
increased--increased in this generation--and zealously did they
endeavour in indirect ways to fathom the will of the Lord. Dreams were
interpreted, prognostics discerned; every beautiful feeling of the
soul, every sudden discovery made by the combinations of the mind, were
considered as direct inspirations from God. It was an old popular
belief, that accidental words which were impressed on the mind from
outward sources were to be considered as significant, and this belief
had now become a system. As the Jutlander Steno--the Roman Catholic
Bishop of Hanover, and acquaintance of Leibnitz--suddenly became a
fanatic, because a lady had spoken out of the window some indifferent
words, which he in passing by conceived to be a command from Heaven, so
did accidental words sway the minds of the Pietists. It was a favourite
custom in cases of doubt to open suddenly upon some verse in the
Bible or hymn book, and from the tenor of the words to decide these
doubts--the sentence on which the right-hand thumb was set was the
significant one--a custom which to this day remains among the people,
and the opponents of which, as early as 1700, called deridingly
"thumbing." If any one had a call from the external world, the system
was to refuse the first time, but, if repeated, then it was the call of
the Lord. It may easily be conceived that the believing soul might,
even in the first refusal, unconsciously follow a quiet inclination of
the heart which had secretly said yes or no.

That in a period of unbridled passions, the reaction against the common
lawlessness should overstep moderation is natural. After the war, a
crazy luxury in dress had begun; the women loved to make a shameless
display of their charms, the dances were frivolous, the drinking
carousals coarse, and the plays and novels often only a collection of
impurities. Thus it was natural that those who were indignant at all
this should choose to wear high dresses, simple in style and dark in
colour, and that the women should withdraw from dances and other
amusements; the drinking wine was in bad repute, the play not visited,
and dances esteemed a dangerous frivolity. But zeal went still further.
Mere cheerful society also appeared doubtful to them--men should always
show that they valued little the transitory pleasures of the world;
even the most harmless, offered by nature to men's outward senses, its
smiling blossoms and the singing of birds, were only to be admired with
caution, and it was considered inadmissible, at least on Sunday, to
pluck flowers or to put them in the hair or bosom. That praiseworthy
works of art should not find favour with the holders of such opinions
was natural. Painting and profane music were as little esteemed as the
works of the poets by whom the anxieties of earthly love are portrayed.
The world was not to be put on an equality with the Redeemer. Those who
follow not the ways of "piety," live in conformity with the world.

He who thus withdraws himself from the greater portion of his
fellow-men, may daily say to himself that he lives with his God in
humility and resignation, but he will seldom preserve himself from
spiritual pride. It was natural that the "Stillen im lande," as they
early called themselves, should consider their life the best and most
excellent, but it was equally natural that a secret conceit and
self-sufficiency of character should be fostered by it. They had so
often withstood the temptations of the world, so often made great and
small sacrifices; and as they had the illumination of God's grace, they
were his elect. Their faith taught them to practise Christian duties in
a spirit of benevolence to man, to do good to others, like the
Samaritan to the traveller, in the wilderness of life. But it was also
natural that their sympathy and benevolence to others should be chiefly
engrossed by those who had the same religious tendencies. Thus their
mutual union became, from many circumstances, peculiarly firm and
remarkable. It was not, in the first instance, particularly learned
ecclesiastics who were Pietists; on the contrary, the greater portion
of the clergy in 1700 stood firm to the orthodox point of view in
opposition to them. But they lived more by the Gospel than the law;
they sought carefully to avoid the appearance of exercising, as
preachers, dominion over the consciences of the community. This
captivated the laity--the strong minds and warm hearts of all classes,
scholars, officials, not a few belonging to the higher nobility, and,
above all, women.

For the first time since the ancient days of Germany--with the
exception of a short period of chivalrous devotion to the female
sex--were German women elevated above the mere circle of family and
household duties; for the first time did they take an active share as
members of a great society in the highest interests of humankind.
Gladly was it acknowledged by the theologians of the Pietists, that
there were more women than men in their congregations, and how
assiduously and zealously they performed all the devotional exercises,
like the women who remained by the cross when the Apostles had fled.
Their inward life, their struggle with the world, their striving after
the love of Christ and light from above, were watched with hearty
sympathy by all in their intimacy, and they found trusty advisers and
loving friends among refined and honourable men. The new conception of
faith which laid less stress on book-learning than on a pure heart,
acted on them like a charm. The calm, the seclusion, and the
aristocratic tendency of the system, attracted them powerfully; even
their greater softness, the energy of their impulsive feelings, and
their excitable, nervous nature, made them more especially subjects for
emotions, enthusiasm, and the wonderful workings of the Godhead.
Already had the gifted Anna Maria von Schurmann, at Utrecht--the most
learned of all maidens and long the admiration of travellers--been
separated from the church through Jean de Labadie; and the pious and
amiable lady had, in 1670, in her holy zeal, withdrawn all her works,
though they contained nothing unchristian. Like her, many other women
endeavoured to be the representatives of their priesthood to the
people; many of these pious theologians could boast of strong-minded
women, who prayed with and comforted them, ever strengthening them amid
the difficulties of faith, and partaking of their light. Thus it came
to pass that women of all classes became the most zealous partisans of
the Pietists. There was scarcely a noble or rich family which did not
count among its ladies one that was pious, nor who, though they might
at first be angered, were not gradually influenced by their intrinsic
worth and moral exhortations. To such noble ladies there was a great
charm in being able to protect persons of talent in their community.
They became zealous patronesses, unwearied proselytisers, and
trustworthy confidants, and helpers in the distresses of others. But
whilst they laboured for the interests of their faith, their own life
was subject to many influences. They came into contact with men of
different classes, they were accustomed to correspond with those who
were absent, and they learnt to give vent to the secrets of the heart,
and to the tender feelings of their souls. Although this was often done
in the canting expressions of the community, yet it produced in many a
deepening of the inner life. There was, indeed, something new added to
the spirit of the people.

The habit of reflecting on their own condition, of judging themselves
under strong inward emotions, was quite new to the German mind. It is
very touching to observe the child-like pleasure with which these pious
people watched the processes of their mental activity, and the emotions
of their hearts. Much was strange and surprising to them which we, from
greater practice in the observation of our own inward life and that of
others, only find common. Every train of conceptions which rapidly
formed themselves into an image, a thought, or an idea, every sudden
flash of feeling, the mainspring of which they could not discover,
appeared to them wonderful. The language of the Bible, which, after
long groping, they began to understand, was unfolded to them. Their
visions, which, owing to their assiduous application to the Scriptures,
assumed frequently the form of Bible figures, were carefully, after
their awakening, brought into rational coherence, and, unconscious of
the additions of their imagination, were polished into a small poem.
Their lyrical tendencies gave a new form to their diaries, which
hitherto had been only a register of casual occurrences; the
confidential pages became now clumsy attempts to express in grand
words, impassioned feelings, and were filled with observations on their
own hearts. When a Pietist, shortly after 1700, writes: "There were so
many deep thoughts in my heart, that I could not give expression to
them," or, "I had a strong feeling about these thoughts," this sounds
to us like the utterance of a later time, in the style of Bettine
Arnim, who undoubtedly was, in many respects, an echo of the excited
women who once prayed, under the guidance of Spener, on the banks of
the Maine. This same facility of self-contemplation found its way into
poetry, and later into novels.

Together with Pietism there began also in Germany a new style of social
intercourse. Seldom was a quiet life the lot of the heads of the pious
communities; they were transplanted, driven away, and moved about
hither and thither. The disciples, therefore, who sought for
instruction, comfort, and enlightenment, were often obliged to travel
into distant countries. Everywhere they found souls in unison, patrons
and acquaintances, and often a good reception and protection from
strangers. Those who did not travel themselves, loved to write to
kindred spirits concerning their dispositions, temptations, and
enlightenment. Such letters were carried about, copied, and sent far
and wide. Thus arose a quiet communion of pious souls throughout
Germany, a new human tie, which first broke through the prejudices of
classes, made women important members of a spiritual society, and
established a social intercourse, the highest interest of which was the
inward life of the individual. And this social tendency of the pious,
determined the form and method of intercourse of the finer minds for a
hundred years later than the time of Spener; indeed, the social
relations between our great poets and German princesses and ladies of
rank, was only rendered possible because the "_Stillen im lande_" had
lived at courts in a similar way. The whole system was the same: the
visits of travellers, the letters, and the quiet community of refined
souls. The sentimentality of the Werther period was only the
stepdaughter of the emotional mania of the old Pietism.

The beneficial influence, also, exercised by the Pietists on the
manners and morals of the people should not be under-rated, although
much of this influence was undoubtedly lost by their proneness to
separate from the multitude. But, wherever the labours of Spener, as
shepherd of souls, had found imitators, especially where Pietism had
been recognised by the church of the State, the practical Christianity
of the new teaching was perceptible. Like Spener, his followers felt
the importance of religious instruction for the young, and gladly
availed themselves of the opportunities when the youthful souls of the
parish and the parents opened themselves to them, to counsel them on
the more important occurrences of the day, and give a practical turn to
their teaching. It was they who, with warm hearts, first, after the
devastating war, provided schools for the people; and to them must be
attributed the first regular supervision of the poor in the large
cities. It is known that the German orphan-houses were established
through them; the example of Franke, in Halle, was followed in many
other cities--these great institutions were looked upon as a wonder by
contemporaries. Throughout all ages these foundations of our pious
ancestors ought to be regarded with special interest by our nation; for
they are the first undertakings for the public welfare which have been
formed _by the voluntary contributions of individuals from the whole of
Germany_. For the first time did the people become conscious how great
may be the results of many with small means working together. It is not
surprising that this experience seemed then to the people like a
fabulous tale, when one considers that in the ten years before and
after 1700, the "_Stillen_" must have collected in the countries where
the German tongue is spoken, far more than a million of thalers for
orphan-houses and other similar benevolent institutions; this was,
undoubtedly, not from private sources alone, but in that poor and
depopulated country such sums are significant.

Thus did Pietism prepare men for rapid progress in many directions, and
its best offering to its votaries, a more elevated sense of duty, and a
greater depth of feeling, passed from the "_Stillen im lande_" into the
souls of many thousands of the children of the world; it contributed
scarcely less than science to the beginning of that period of
enlightenment, by mitigating the wild and rough practices which
everywhere prevailed in the second half of the seventeenth century, and
by giving to the family life of Germans, at least in the cities,
greater simplicity, order and morality. The families from whom our
greatest scholars and poets have sprung, the parental houses of Goethe
and Schiller, show the influence which the Pietism of the last
generation exercised on their forefathers.

That many of the Pietists might lose themselves in extravagancies and
dangerous by-ways, is easily comprehensible.

It was natural that with those who, after inward struggles and long
strivings, had obtained strength for a godly life, the delivery of man
from sin should become the main point; and as they were yearning, above
all, for the direct working of God on their own life, it followed that
they ascribed this awakening to the special grace of God; that they
sought earnestly in prayer for the moment when this special
illumination and sanctification should take place by a manifestation of
the divinity; and that when, after severe tension of the soul, they
reached a state of exaltation, they considered this as the beginning of
a new life to which the grace of God was assured. Luther, also, had
striven for this illumination; he also had experienced the transports
of exaltation, inward peace, repose, certainty, and a feeling of
superiority to the world; but it had been with him, as with the
strong-minded among his contemporaries, an ever-enduring struggle, a
frequently-repeated victory, a powerful mental process which appeared
sometimes, indeed, wonderful to himself, but in which with his sound,
strong nature, there was nothing morbid, and of which the special form,
the struggles with the devil, were the natural consequences of the
_naïve_, simple-hearted popular faith, which had changed the old
household spirits and hobgoblins of our heathen ancestors into
Christian angels and the devil. The Pietists, on the other hand, lived
in a time when the life both of nature and man was more rationally
viewed as to cause and effect, when a multitude of scientific
conceptions were popular, when a practical worldly mind prevailed which
made itself few illusions; and when the hearts of men were seldom
elevated by enthusiasm and great ideas. Already we begin to trace the
beginnings of rationalism. In such a time this regeneration, this
moment of awakening, was not a frame of mind easily produced--not a
condition in which, with a sound mental constitution, one could place
oneself without a certain degree of violence. It was necessary to wait
for it--to prepare oneself strenuously, and constrain body and soul to
it, by a self-contemplation, in which there was something unsound; one
must watch anxiously one's own soul, to discover when the moment of
awakening was nigh. And this moment of awakening itself was to be
entirely different from every other frame of mind. In order to arrive
at the conviction of its presence, that was not sufficient for them,
which, after severe struggles, had given a happiness to the great
reformers that rested on their countenances like a reflection of the
Godhead; the peace and serenity which come after the victorious end of
a struggle betwixt duty and inclination. This outpouring of grace with
the Pietists was frequently accompanied by ecstasies, visions, and
similar pathological phenomena, which at no period have been wanting,
but which were then sought after as the highest moments of human life
and recounted with admiration. It will shortly be shown that this was
the rock on which Pietism struck.

With such tendencies, even the reading of the Scriptures was fraught
with special danger. When they explained the holy Scriptures, being
under the conviction that God favoured them with a direct influence,
they were in the unfortunate position of considering every accidental
incident that presented itself to them in any part, as an unerring
manifestation. Now, the yearning of a weak age for a better condition,
and the inclination of the pious for special illumination, rendered the
prophetic books of the Old and New Testament particularly attractive.
Thus it came to pass that the Pietists drew from them a multitude of
revelations and prophecies. It is of no importance at what results they
arrived; but this engrossing attention to the dark passages of the
prophets, and especially the Revelation of St John, did not contribute
to render their judgment clearer, nor their scientific culture more
solid: for in their time the key to the better understanding these
records had not been found. Moreover, the knowledge of languages even
among scholars was generally unsatisfactory, although, after the
example of Schurmann, there was already here and there a pious maiden
who began to learn Hebrew. It was not long before all worldly knowledge
appeared, to most of them, useless and detrimental.

Thus, Pietism was threatened with great dangers immediately after its
rise; but the life of the early Pietists, who from Frankfort spread
themselves all over Germany, was more simple and harmless than the
later proceedings at Halle, under the separatists of the eighteenth

Two autobiographies of pious individuals of Spener's school have been
preserved to us, which throw light on other phases of German life. It
is a husband and wife who have bequeathed them to us,--kind-hearted
people, with warm feelings, some learning and no particular powers of
mind,--the theologian, Johann Wilhelm Petersen, and his wife, Johanna
Eleanor, born von Merlau. After they were united in marriage, they led
together a spiritual life, in perfect unanimity, and, like a pair of
birds, flitted through the temptations and troubles of this earthly
valley. Heavenly consolation and manifestation came to them alike. The
world considered them as enthusiasts, but they were held in honour to
the close of their life by the best among the Pietists, undoubtedly
because of the goodness of their hearts, which were not choked up with
spiritual pride. The husband was industrious and faithful to his
duties, a man with poetical feeling and some philosophical culture; but
he needed another to lean on, and was evidently much influenced by his
more decided wife, whose worldly position, as being noble, gave her
consideration even among the pious. It was soon after his marriage that
a restless excitement, and sometimes an immoderate zeal, became visible
in him. His wife, who was some years older than himself, had attained
to a rigid piety, whilst struggling against the worldly life of the
small prince's court, where she had lived. One may conclude from her
biography, that she was not free from ambition and love of power, with
a slight touch of asperity. Her long, quiet struggle had made her
over-zealous, and she and the pious _Frau_ Bauer von Eyseneck, with
whom she lived later at Frankfort, both belonged to the enthusiastic
members of the community, who were inclined to conventicles, and caused
great sorrow on that account to their pastor, Spener. It may therefore
be assumed that it was chiefly the influence of the wife that drove her
husband on in the course which at last removed him from his office, and
gave him the repute of being an enthusiast and millennarian. But the
hatred of the orthodox party has done injustice to both; they were
honest even when predicting marvels. We will first give the youthful
years of the wife, then some characteristic traits from the life of the
husband, related in their own words. Johanna Eleonora Petersen, by
birth von Merlau, was born at Merlau the 25th of April, 1644. She
narrates as follows[79]:--

"The fear of the Lord has guarded me, and His goodness and truth have
led me.

"I have felt the quieting of his good Spirit from childhood, but have
resisted it from ignorance. My high position in the world has been a
great hindrance to his working; because I loved the world equally with
Him, till I came to a right understanding, and till the saving Word
wrought powerfully in me to conviction. For when I was about four years
old it came to pass that my dear parents, who had lived at Frankfort on
account of the troubles of war, returned into the country, as peace was
established. They brought many things into the country, and my now
deceased mother lived with me and both my sisters on a property at
Hettersheim, called Philippseck, where she believed herself to be out of
harm's way. Then came the servants and told her that a troop of
horsemen were coming, whereupon every one quickly put away what
belonged to them and left; my now deceased mother, with three little
children, alone, of whom the eldest was seven and I four years old,
and the third at the breast. Then did my deceased mother take the
youngest in her arms, and both of us by the hand, and went without a
maid-servant to Frankfort, which was distant a long half-league. But it
was summer, the corn was standing in the fields, and one could hear the
noise of the soldiers, who were marching about a pistol's shot from us.
Then did my deceased mother become much alarmed, and bade us pray. But
when we came to the outermost gate of the city, where we were in
security, my deceased mother sat herself down with us, and exhorted us
to thank the Most High God who had protected us. Then said my eldest
sister, who was three years older than I, 'Why should we pray now? now
they cannot come to us.' Then was I grieved to the heart at this
speech, that she would not thank God, or thought that it was no longer
necessary. I rebuked her for this, having fervent love for the Lord,
whom I thanked with my whole heart--Item, as I was persuaded that the
midwife had brought the children from heaven, I had a great desire to
talk to her; I charged her to greet heartily the Lord Jesus, and
desired to learn from her whether the dear Saviour loved me. These were
the first childish emotions that I can distinctly remember.

"When I was nine years old we became motherless orphans, and matters
went ill with us; for our father dwelt at a farm five miles from our
property, and brought the widow of a school-master into the house to
take care of us. She had her own children to help on, and spent upon
them what should have been ours, leaving us in want, so that we often
gladly took what others would not have. It happened too through her
artifices that she left us alone in the house in the evening. Then came
certain people, dressed in white shirts, and their faces rubbed with
honey and sprinkled with flour; they went about the house with lights,
broke open chests and coffers, and took from out of them what they
wished. This gave us such a fright that we huddled together behind the
stove, and perspired with fear. This went on till the whole house was
emptied. As our father was very severe with us, we had not the heart to
complain, but were only glad when he left us; so we bore with this
annoyance till von Praunheim, who is now married to my sister, visited
us,--he was then very young. To him we complained of our distress, and
he undertook to remain concealed in the house till evening, to see
whether the spirits would come again. When they did come, and one went
straight to the cupboard to break it open, then he sprang out, and
found that they were people from the country town--sons of a
wheelwright, who were intimate with the widow who had charge of us.
But, as he was alone, they rushed away and would not allow that it was
them; but the spirits did not return, and we recovered much that they
had left on the floor of the kitchen.

"This widow was discharged by my deceased father, and it was proposed
to him to take a captain's wife, who was in repute for her housekeeping
and cleverness in other ways; then my deceased father thought he had
provided well for us. But she was an unchristian woman, and did not
forget her soldier tricks. For once, when she saw some strange turkeys
on the road, she had them driven to the house; seized the best, and
drove the others away. To cook this stolen roast she wished to have
some dry wood, and in order to obtain this sent me to a square tower,
five stories high. There had been a pigeon-house under the roof, where
loose dry boards were lying, some of which I was to fetch. When I had
thrown down some, and was trying to tear away one that was still firm,
I was thrown back and fell down two stories on to a flight of steps,
and had I turned myself round I should have fallen two stories more. I
lay there about half an hour in a swoon, and when I came to myself did
not, at once, know how I came there; I stood up and felt that I was
very faint. I went down the staircase, and laid myself on a bed that
stood in a room in this same tower, on which my deceased father used to
sleep when he was at home. There I slept some hours, and when I got up
was quite fresh and sound. But during the whole of this time there were
no inquiries made after me; and when I said that I had fallen I was
only scolded for not having been more prudent. I sat apart, for I would
not eat of the stolen roast; it appeared to me truly disgraceful, and
yet I had not courage to say so.

"When I was in my eleventh year my deceased sister, who was three years
older than me, was sent to the pastor to be instructed for her
confirmation. Then a strong desire came over me to go with her, but my
deceased father would not allow me, as I was only ten years old. I
persisted, however, till my father gave his consent, if his reverence
the pastor should consider me fit for it. This latter had me brought to
him, questioning me not only as to the words, but also concerning the
sense of what I read. But God gave me such grace in answering that his
reverence the pastor was well content, and admitted me.

"Some time afterwards my sister went to Stuttgart, and I had to take
upon me the housekeeping, and to render an account of everything, which
was very difficult for me; because my deceased father, whenever he came
home, treated me with great severity, and called me to account for all
that was broken, or in any way not to his mind, and I was often
severely punished when I was innocent.

"Owing to this, such servile fear took possession of me, that I
shuddered whenever I heard a voice that resembled that of my father.
Concerning this I breathed forth many sighs to my God; but, when he was
away again, I became in good spirits, and sang and danced in gladness
of heart. I had at the same time a thorough aversion to everything that
was unseemly or childish, and would not have anything to do with the
games of marriages and christenings, and the like, of other girls, for
I was ashamed of them.

"When twelve years old I was taken to court to the Countess von
Solms-Rödelheim. She was about to be confined, and was sometimes not
right in her mind; when I went, however, she was tolerably well. But
soon after, she was confined and had two children, a young gentleman
and a lady, and became worse from day to day, so that she often took me
for her dog, which was a little lion-dog, called me by his name, and
beat me like him. It happened frequently that we drove in the water,
for in the winter time the meadows between Frankfort and Rödelheim were
quite overflowed with water, so that it entered the carriages; then the
carriages were driven empty, but we went in a boat and got in again
when we came to the end of the water. When we thus drove she often
pushed me into the water; I was to swim as her little dog, but the Most
High preserved me. Once I discovered that she had taken a knife with a
sheath out of her cupboard, and put it in her pocket. I mentioned it to
the maidservant, who was rather elderly, but she would not listen to
me; and thought the countess had no knife, and it was childishness in
me. There was a door from the bedroom of the countess into our room,
and another into that of the count. Now when night came I would not lie
down for thinking of the knife; but the maid was angry with me, and
threatened to tell the count how childishly I behaved; but I would only
lie down on the bed with my clothes on. In the night, hearing a great
disturbance, I woke up every one and rose from bed. Then the count was
heard running out of the room; and forth came the countess, with a
night-light and the bare knife in her hand. When she saw us all awake,
she became terrified and let the knife fall; then I sprang towards her
as if I wished to reach her the knife, but I ran with it out of the
door and down the stairs in the dark. When I was on the stairs I heard
the count call out, 'Where is my wife?'--to whom I answered that I had
got the knife; but I was so frightened that I would not trust myself to
turn back again, but went into a hall, which is called the giant hall
and is very gloomy, and there I remained. But the maid, who was a serf
of the countess's mother, from Bohemia, went off and did not return. So
I was left some weeks alone with the countess, and had to dress and
undress her, which was very hard upon me.

"But my deceased father happened to hear from others that I was in such
danger, and took me away. After this I went at about fifteen years old
to the Duchess of Holstein, born Landgravine of Hesse, who had married
Duke Philipp Ludwig, of the Suderburg family. The duke had by a first
marriage a daughter, who had just married the Count von Zinzendorf,
president of the Imperial chamber. I was taken as maid of honour to
this royal bride; her woman of the bedchamber was a von Steinling, who
was thirty years of age. Immediately after my arrival, the journey to
Lintz, where the marriage was to take place, was begun. We went by the
Danube, and very jovial it was; the drums and trumpets sounded
beautiful on the water, and everywhere throughout the journey we were
splendidly received; the preparations having been made by those who had
been sent to fetch the bride. It was very joyful to me after my former
terror, and I had no anxieties except the thought that my soul might
suffer, because I was going to a popish place. Whenever we came to a
resting-place, I looked out for a chamber where there was no one else,
fell on my knees and prayed that God would prevent everything that
might be injurious to my salvation. The chamber-maid of the bride
remarked how I retired apart, and slipt after me once to see what I did
alone, for she still looked upon me as very childish, because I was
small. When, however, she found me praying on my knees, she went
quietly back without my knowing that she had seen me. But once, when
the royal bride inquired whether I ever prayed, the woman of the
bedchamber answered that they need have no anxiety about me. Now when
we came to Lintz, the marriage took place at the Imperial castle, and
everything went off grandly. The following day the royal bride went to
the chapel of the castle, and there a blessing was pronounced upon her,
and a goblet full of wine was given; this was called the Johannis
blessing, and of this she and the count were to partake. Now, after the
marriage was celebrated, when every one was to settle down in their
proper places, there arose a dispute among the authorities concerning
me. The Count von Zinzendorf said that he would only admit the lady of
the bedchamber (as the noble maidens were then called) to his table;
that the others must have their meals with the '_hoffmeisterin_.' This
the duke would not consent to, as he said that she was only from the
burgher class, whereas I was of an old family, and not inferior to the
others, and he could not permit that such a distinction should be made
between us, especially as I was his wife's goddaughter.

"As this, however, was of no avail, it was determined that I should
return with the duchess, and when the reason was explained to me, it
appeared to me quite wonderful, for it was my wish to have my meals
along with the '_hoffmeisterin_,' rather than at the prince's table.
But I did not know that God had so ordained it in his mercy, and that
my poor prayers had been so graciously listened to; for after the
course of some years the princess and all the persons who had
accompanied her, fell away to the Popish religion. But at the time I
was much troubled to be obliged to return; I thought they might imagine
I had not comported myself right, and I also feared to be brought again
under the severe discipline of my father.

"But the Duke of Holstein had obtained Wiesenburg from Saxony, which
was about ten miles from Leipzig and one from Zwickau, and dwelt there,
so it pleased the duchess to keep me with her. I practised myself in
all kinds of accomplishments, so that I was much liked; in dancing,
too, I excelled others, so that these vanities were dear and pleasing
to me; I had also a real liking for splendid dress and the like
trifles, because it became me well, and I was much commended by every
one. Never did any one tell me that it was not right, but, on the
contrary, praised me for these vanities, and considered me godly
because I liked to read and pray, and went to church and was often able
to give a good account of all the main points of the sermon; I even
knew what had been preached upon the same text the preceding year. I
was looked upon as a godly maiden both by spiritual and worldly
persons, yet I pursued my course with worldly thoughts, and was not
really a true follower of Christ.

"Then it was ordained by God's mercy that the son of a
lieutenant-colonel, of the family of Brettwitz, fell in love with me;
and when, through the medium of his father, he asked me in marriage of
my royal master and mistress, and of my deceased father, they all
replied yes; but that he must first serve a year as a cornet, and then
have his father's company, who was lieutenant-colonel under the Elector
of Saxony. Now when he went forth to the war, I heard from others that
he did not lead a godly, but a worldly life; then I was secretly
troubled and threw myself on my face before God, and prayed that either
his spirit or our engagement might be changed. But I did not know that
the Most High had brought this to pass, that I might be preserved from
other noble marriages, for I was then still very young, and had many
opportunities of marrying, all of which I escaped through this
betrothal, though on his side he had thought of many others, and
engaged himself here and there in that foreign country. This lasted
several years, during which I experienced much secret sorrow, which
threw a damp over the pleasures of the world. In the course of these
years, Brettwitz was always changing his mind, fixing his thoughts upon
others, and when nothing came of it, he turned again to me, and wrote
about constancy, all which I committed to the Most High, and sought to
unite myself closer to God. Hence much refreshment from the Holy
Scriptures was imparted to me, sometimes in sleep through holy dreams,
in which I powerfully spoke out the words of Scripture, and thereupon
awoke, so that my companion, who had a godly heart, was often sore
troubled that she could not experience the like. I always comforted her
by saying that she should regard me as a child that required to be
enticed by her father, but that she was so confirmed in faith she would
have no need of such enticement. And this came from my heart, for I saw
well that my joyous spirit drew me to the world, but my God drew me
again to Him by his love.

"At last he who had been so changeable came home and visited our Court.
But my spiritual condition did not please him, because he thought so
much Bible reading would not befit a soldier's wife: he would have been
glad if I would have renounced him, as his father knew of a rich
marriage for him in Dresden, if he could with decency free himself from
me; but he did not like to be called faithless, so he would fain have
thrown the blame upon me. I remained quiet, however, and did not mind
him, but trusted to my Heavenly Father, who would order all aright. Now
there was one, named von Fresen, who would fain have warned me,
thinking I did not observe that the said Brettwitz was not acting
uprightly; so he wrote me a letter, for he had no opportunity of
speaking to me, as I was always with my duchess in her room. This
letter fell into the hands of the said Brettwitz, who thought to find
therein great evidence upon which to accuse me, either of having an
affection for another, or of courting others. His father, who was then
present, also thought that it would be a good opportunity, and that
they might with a good grace enter upon the rich marriage; so he went
to the duke and showed him the letter as proof that others were wooing
me, and therefore his son neither could nor would entertain any further
hopes of me, but would seek happiness elsewhere. It vexed the duke much
to hear such things of me, who had hitherto, to their great
astonishment, repelled all advances. It grieved me much that my royal
master and mistress should thus think of me. But when I went to my room
weeping, the words came into my mind, 'What I do thou knowest not now,
but thou shalt know hereafter;' from these I derived consolation. When
on the following day the letter was read correctly, it appeared that in
it the writer complained that he had never been able to gain an
opportunity of speaking with me, and declaring his honourable love, and
that I kept myself in reserve for a person who was false, rejecting the
love of others. Thus it became known that I was innocent, and the
Brettwitzes could not get out of it in that way. The duke and duchess
then asked me what my wishes were, as it must now be decided. Then I
begged that Brettwitz might not be driven to marry me. Thereupon the
said von Brettwitz sent two cavaliers to me in order to learn how I was
minded towards him, and whether he was still to wait some time for his
happiness. But I gave him liberty, as far as I was concerned, to seek
his happiness where he liked; for I felt no longer bound to retain my
affection for one so faithless, who, if possible, would have made me
out guilty of want of fidelity. Thereupon he paid me the false
compliment of saying that he regretted the misunderstanding: and it was
then settled that he was to make no further pretensions to me. The rich
marriage, however, did not take place, and later he became paralytic.

"Thus I was relieved from this burden, and I had become so strong in
spirit that I did not entertain any further thoughts of marriage. I
always felt that amongst the nobility there were many evil habits which
were quite contrary to Christianity--first, because they had more
opportunities of drinking; and secondly, that for every thoughtless
word they must endanger body and soul, if they would not be disgraced.
I reflected deeply on this, that they should dare to imagine themselves
Christians, and yet live quite contrary to the doctrines of Christ; and
that it never occurred to them once to abstain from such proceedings.
This took away from me all disposition to marry; for although I knew
some fine natures that had a horror of all these vices, yet I thought
that one's descendants would be exposed to the same dangers. Still I
felt I ought not to take a husband from another class, as my deceased
father thought much of his ancient family.

"But God continued to impart more grace to me; and I became acquainted
in Frankfort with a truly godly man. For when my noble master and
mistress were travelling to the baths at Emser, a stranger was on board
the vessel in which we went. By God's special providence he seated
himself next me, and we fell into a spiritual discourse which lasted
some hours, so that the four miles from Frankfort to Mayence, where he
disembarked, appeared to me only a quarter of an hour. We talked
without ceasing, and it seemed just as if he read my heart. Then I gave
vent to all, concerning which I had hitherto lived in doubt. Indeed I
found in this friend what I had despaired of ever finding in any man in
the world. Long had I looked around me to discover whether there might
be any true doers of the Word, and it had been a stumbling-block to me
that I could find none. But when I perceived in this man such great
penetration, that he could see into the very recesses of my heart, also
such humility, gentleness, holy love, and earnestness to teach the
way of truth, then I was truly comforted and much strengthened.[80]
Then was my heart filled with godly convictions, and I felt an
ever-increasing distaste to the world: and I said to myself, 'Shall I
defraud my spiritual nature for the sake of contemptible transitory
pleasures? No; I will by God's help prevail, let it cost what it may.'
I wrote thereupon to the friend who had imparted to me so many godly
gifts, that I loved him as a father, and that I purposed to loosen
myself from all worldly ties. He was, moreover, fearful that I should
not have strength enough to bear all that I should meet with. But the
parable of the five foolish virgins and other similar salutary passages
of Holy Writ were ever in my heart, and they impelled me to give up the
pleasures of the world; yet I felt a fear of my master and mistress
which I could not conquer. Then I frequently danced with tears in my
eyes, and knew not how to help myself. 'Ah,' thought I frequently, 'if
I were but the daughter of a herdsman, I should not be blamed for
living in the simplicity of Christ's teaching. No one would mind me.'
But when I became conscious that no position could excuse me, I
determined that nothing should be a hindrance to me either in life or
death. I therefore went to my duchess, and begged for my dismissal.
This was refused; but, as she wished to know what had moved me to this,
I told her openly, that the life I was obliged to lead at court was
against my conscience. Then did my dear duchess try to divert my mind
from this, looked upon it as a fit of melancholy, and said, 'You always
live like a virtuous maiden, and read and pray assiduously; you see
also that others who are good Christians do the like things; they are
not forbidden if the heart is not set upon them.' But I pointed out to
her the example of Christ and his word; I did not judge other men, but
could not be content to follow their example. As now my dear duchess
saw that she could not change my mind, she promised to excuse me
everything that I felt to be contrary to my conscience, only she would
have me remain with her and perform my duties in all other respects as
before. But I represented that she would be deprived of much service by
this, especially when strangers came, when it might easily happen that
the other maiden should fall sick, then she would be without
attendance, because I would not be present at appointed gaieties, and
that would give occasion for ridicule. She would not, however, be
deterred from her object, but promised me faithfully that I should be
relieved from all attendance at mere amusements. Then she mentioned it
to the duke, who contended with me sharply, and said it was the
suggestion of the devil, that I, who was a young lady, beloved by high
and low, should expose myself to so much contempt, that I should be
considered a fool; besides, what would my relatives say? Now, when all
this persuasion was of no avail, they sent several clergymen to me, who
tried to persuade me that I did not rightly understand the words of
Scripture. But I put it to their consciences which of these two ways
was safest: to follow after the footsteps of Christ in all simplicity,
or, while enjoying worldly pleasures, merely to talk of it and treat it
with respect, yet doing otherwise. Then they said that the first would
certainly be the best; but who could so live?--we were all sinful men.
Then I replied, 'It is commanded me to choose the better way, and as to
the power of doing it, I left that to my God,' Then they left me in

"They now tried to move me in another way, by ridicule. For at the
royal table they often looked at one another, and then at me, laughing
amongst themselves; they often said also that it was not becoming a
woman of the bedchamber to read the Bible so much, she would become too
clever. But I let them jeer. When this had gone on almost a year,
during which I was treated with contempt by even the most insignificant
at the court, excepting some pious souls, whilst I thought little of
suffering for Christ's sake, there was a sudden change. The great and
glorious God brought such fear into all hearts, the highest as well as
the lowest, that they did not venture to say or do anything wrong in my
presence; although they did not fear the court preachers, yet before me
they were quiet, and the otherwise wild young people controlled
themselves when they saw me coming. Then did tears come into my eyes,
whilst I thought within myself, 'Oh, wonderful God, with what power
have I been enabled to bring it to pass, that both great and small fear
to do wrong in my presence!' This thought did not puff up my heart, but
led me to humility; I poured out my soul before God, as I had
experienced his power, and saw that He could turn the hearts of princes
like the waters of a rivulet. In this condition of things I continued
yet three years at court, and I can truly say that I experienced much
kindness, not alone from my dear master and mistress, but from every
one: but by God's grace I did not accept many favours from the great,
nor employ them upon temporal things.

"Having then for three years lived at court in all simplicity, and
rejected all transitory pleasures, whereby the body, and not the
spirit, is recreated, it came to pass that my deceased father required
me to keep his house, as my stepmother had died in childbed, and the
child was still alive, and so I was called from court. It was, however,
very difficult for me to obtain my dismissal, as my dear duchess loved
me as if I were her child, and lamented my departure with many tears:
she even sent after me to beg I might return, and did not desist till I
promised that if I ever returned to court I should consider myself
bound to them before all others. But when I came home I found that the
child had meanwhile died, and my father had determined to become high
steward of the Princess von Philippseck. Thus I was free to settle
myself with a noble and godly widow, Baurin von Eyseneck--her maiden
name was Hinsbergen--whose manner of life was known to every one in
Frankfort, and whose end was blessed. With her I was six years, and we
loved one another as though of one heart and soul.

"About this period, being in danger of shipwreck, the Lord so mightily
strengthened me, that I was joyful while others trembled and desponded.
It happened that I was on the passage-boat from Frankfort to Hanau
going to visit my sister; there were divers people on board, among them
some soldiers, who were carrying on very coarse and improper jokes with
poor women. I was sorrowful that these people were so entirely
unmindful of their souls, and, leaning against the side of the vessel,
endeavoured to sleep that I might not hear such talk. In my sleep I
dreamt of the sentence in Psalm xiv., 'The Lord looked down from heaven
upon the children of men.' Upon this I awoke, and in waking it appeared
to me as if a great storm of wind turned the ship round; then was I
terrified and thought within myself, 'Art thou really awake? What is
thy state of mind?' Not a quarter of an hour afterwards there came a
mighty whirlwind which took hold of the ship. We were in very great
danger, so that all cried out with anguish, and called upon the name of
Jesus for help--He whom they had so often before named carelessly in
their frivolous jesting. Then did God open my mouth, to make them feel
how good it is to walk in the fear of the Lord, and that He is a refuge
in the time of trouble. When now the Most High mercifully laid the
unexpected storm, one of the women was so impudent as to say jestingly,
that our ship would have been overwhelmed by the waves, 'but, as there
is a saint on board, we have been saved;' so saying she laughed loud,
whereupon I became much excited, and said, 'You impudent woman, think
you that the hand of the Lord could not reach us?' And scarcely had I
closed my mouth, when the former wind rose again, a leak appeared in
the boat, and all gave up hope of life; but I felt an unusual joy, and
thought, 'Shall I now see my Jesus? What will now remain in the water?
Nothing but the mortal--that which has so often hindered me. That which
has been life in me will never die,' &c., &c. The ship was already
filling with water; all the caulking and pumping was of no avail; the
storm also held on, so that it was impossible to turn to the land,
either on the right or left hand, and we thought that the ship would
sink; but all at once the wind was lulled, and the ship reached the
shore. Then did all spring out of the ship, and the wild soldiers who
had been moved by my words, looked after me with great care, so that I
came well to land, and thanked God that I had been able to speak to
their hearts.

"When I had been about a year with the widow Baurin, my dear master and
mistress heard that my father no longer needed me, so my dear mistress
wrote, herself, to me to return and resume my service; she would send
the carriage for me and give me double salary, and I was to be called
mistress of the robes; but I excused myself by saying that I must take
charge of my father's property, and therefore be often present there.
But when I had passed six years with dear Frau Baurin, it was ordained
by the Most High God that my dear husband, who had seen me some years
before at Frankfort, began to think of marrying me; he gave at Lübeck a
commission to a certain person to speak to me concerning it, who did
it, but after some time had passed, for want of an opportunity. But
when I first heard it, I could not think of marrying, and after
offering up my prayers to God, I sat down and wrote to this effect, and
suggested to him another very excellent person. But my dear husband
would not be deterred, and wrote to my dear friend, also to sundry
distinguished ecclesiastics, and to my deceased father. This letter I
at first retained, till my conscience constrained me to deliver it to
my father, as it had no other aim than to serve to the glory of God.
Then I wrote and sent him the letter, and at the same time remained as
calm as if it were nothing concerning myself. All the contents of
the letter to my father were unknown to me, and I did not think
that my deceased father would give his consent. But when his answer
came--wherein he wrote that he had many reasons for not wishing me so
far from him in his old age, and had never yet made up his mind to
allow his child to marry below her station, yet he could not withstand
the will of God,--it went to my heart, and I thought it must be of God,
because my father's heart had been touched beyond all expectation. He
left the matter to my disposal, which I did not, however, agree to, but
submitted it entirely to his will. My brother-in-law, von Dorfield,
high steward at the court of Hanau, was much against it, but my
deceased father answered him in a most Christian spirit,[81] that it
was not good for us, of the evangelical faith, to esteem the clergy so
little, as the Papists held their priests so high; further, that his
daughter was not suited to a worldly man; that she would not marry
inconsiderately out of her class, as was known to every one. But God
had called me to this vocation. They were therefore obliged to be
quiet, and my father gave his consent.

"Thereupon my dear husband came to Frankfort, and we were married on
the 7th September, 1680, by D. Spener, in the presence of her Highness
the Princess von Philippseck, my father, and some noble persons of
distinction; there were about thirty, and everything went off in such a
quiet and Christian manner, that every one was pleased. But the demon
of calumny could not refrain from his malice; it vexed his tools that
the marriage was not accompanied by eating and drinking and wild
doings, after the manner of the world. Then they invented this lie,
that the Holy Spirit had appeared in the chamber in which we were
married, in a form of fire, and that we had interpreted the Revelation
of St. John. Such lies were also reported to the Rev. Dr. Heiler, who
had been himself at our wedding. But when he contradicted them, and
stated that he had been present, that nothing had passed but what was
truly Christian, they were ashamed of their lies."

Thus far the wife. The narration of the husband forms a supplement to
hers. But first we will give his account of his youth, and of his
experiences as shepherd of souls. Dr. Johann Wilhelm Petersen begins

"I was born in the renowned city of Osnabrück, on the 1st of June,
1649, after the conclusion of the peace of Westphalia, where my father,
George Petersen, had been sent from Lubeck on business concerning the
peace. When I grew older, my parents sent me to the Latin school at
Lubeck. They never had to force me to study, for I paid attention to
all my lessons, and concealed candles, in order that I might thus study
whilst others slept. I then also copied divers small books, as I could
not obtain printed copies. But I more especially applied myself to
prayer, as I had seen my mother do, after I had heard from her that one
could obtain everything from God through prayer, on which account I
always, before I began my studies, called upon God to bless them. And
once, when I was in want of money to buy a certain book, I went to St.
Mary's Church, placed myself on the long stools before the altar, and
prayed to God to grant me wherewith to buy the desired book. Now when I
had knelt down and finished my prayer, behold there lay a heap of money
on the bench before which I had knelt; this strengthened me much. But
when, in consequence, I wished to make a custom of it, and again sought
to obtain money by prayer, through the wise guidance of God I found
nothing, for He only hears us when in childlike simplicity we appear
before Him without any after-thought. But yet once, when about to be
punished, I turned to God in prayer, and punishment was averted.

"Now when I came to the third class, I had been very diligent;
therefore the Herr Conrector put the others to shame by my example, and
said that I had surpassed them all and gained the crown, and, as he
expressed himself, would throw sand into their eyes. This vexed the
scholars much, and excited their envy; they painted a crown in my book,
and strewed it thick with sand, with this inscription: 'This is
Petersen's crown, and the sand he would cast in our eyes.' At last I
was afraid to repeat my lesson too readily, though I had learnt it
thoroughly, lest I should be beaten by the other scholars. When I was
removed into the first class, I found there excellent preceptors. At
this period I put many verses in print, especially on the death of my
dearly beloved mother. I also delivered two orations on the restoration
of peace at Lubeck; and the Choice of Hercules. In 1669 I went to the
University of Giessen.

"When I had become master of arts at Giessen, I was much loved by the
professors, and also was, as far as lay in my power, on terms of
friendship with every one. Then was Dr. Spener, of Frankfort, strongly
recommended to me; therefore I resolved to go to Frankfort to visit
him, in order to see whether the reality came up to the praise. I found
him far superior to what I had heard; his was quite a different life
and character to what I had seen in general I had indeed, after my
fashion, feared God and loved the Holy Scriptures; but by the light of
my merely worldly learning these were very obscure to me, so that when
I presided at a disputation I feared many passages of Scripture which
were brought against me by others. Now I became aware how important it
was to understand rightly the spiritual meaning of the Holy Scriptures,
and that the learning was not worth much which could be obtained by
mere human industry.

"There came at that time to Frankfort, for the purpose of enjoying the
friendship and intercourse with the Rev. Dr. Spener, a noble lady, who
had formerly been maid of honour at a court; and as I desired much to
have, if only for once, some talk with her, I begged the reverend
doctor to give me her address in a note. This he did, and I went to
her, and presented her with my last disputation, under the impression
that it would not be disagreeable to her, as she had learnt Hebrew and
had much acquaintance with the Holy Scriptures. But she told me that I
had therein glorified 'the god Petersen,' and that, for a true
knowledge of God in Christ, far more was required than such worldly
learning, which produced generally a boastful spirit, and whereby one
could hardly attain to the godly simplicity of heavenly things. This
speech sank deep into my heart, and I was at once convinced of the
truth of it. After that I began to write a little book, wherein I noted
down what I heard from pious people concerning the way to true
godliness; and I began to practise what I had thus learnt, for without
this effectual working all else would be fruitless.

"Now when I had been strengthened in this course, I went back to
Giessen, where the change in me was soon perceived; and they began to
ridicule me on account of my 'piety.' But I cared little for it."

(Petersen afterwards returned to his home, at Lubeck, and became there
professor of poetry, but met with great enmity from the Jesuits. In
1677 he became preacher at Hanover; and was called from thence, in
1678, to Cutin, as the court preacher to the Duke of Holstein.)

"But I had not been long court preacher at Cutin, when it happened that
500 thalers were stolen out of the room of one of the gentlemen of the
bedchamber. In order to recover his money he went to a hereditary
blacksmith,[82] at the village of Zernikaw, that he might 'knock out
the thief's eye;' and in order that the smith might do it better he let
him know, through an _einspänner_,[83] that the bishop desired it,
which was not the case. When the smith is to perform a work of this
kind he must prepare a nail three successive Sundays, and on the last
Sunday strike this nail into a head made for the purpose; whereupon the
thief, as they say, will lose his eye. He must, also, at midnight rise
up naked, and go backwards to a hut which he has newly built in an open
field, and go up to a large new bellows; take it and blow out the fire
with it; upon this two large hell-hounds will appear. This performance
having taken place in the night of the first Sunday, the villagers of
Zernikaw came to me to complain, as the whole village had no rest for
this terrible howling, which they had heard in the smithy, and said I
ought to make it known to the duke, that he might stop this wicked
work. I told them that these were important things which they had
related to me; and asked, seriously, whether the affair was really such
as they represented it. They answered that the whole village could bear
witness of it, and that the _einspänner_ had empowered the smith to do
it. Thereupon I went to the bishop[84] (with whom, as it so happened,
the gentleman of the bedchamber then was), and I told him I wished to
say something to him privately. When I had related all to him he was
horrified, sought for further information concerning the matter, and
learnt that the _einspänner_ had enjoined the smith to do this in the
bishop's name; then he inquired of me what was to be done. I replied
that, as his name had been misused for these public wicked proceedings,
it was necessary that the hut, which had been built in honour of the
devil, should be destroyed in the name of God; this was approved of.
Thereupon I proceeded to do it; the boys from the school, noble pages,
and many noblemen accompanied me to destroy the work of the devil. The
smith had already run away, but his wife came and begged that she might
be allowed to keep the new bellows and the iron utensils. But I said
she ought to be ashamed of herself to desire to keep among her things
what the devil had handled; whereupon she desisted from her petition.
But the noble pages set fire to and burnt the hut and bellows, and cast
the iron work into deep water. Now there came some merchants,
travelling from Hamburgh, who looked on and listened to my discourse.
It was just during the period of Christmas, so I took the passage,
'Behold a house of God among men,' and explained it shortly, but said
in direct application: 'Behold a house of the devil among the
Zernikawers. This is the place where formerly the idol of the
Holsteiners, Zernebog, was worshipped, who wishes again to install
himself; but has been driven away by the injunction of the bishop.' At
the catechising, also, at which the duke, with his court, were in the
habit of attending, I made an impressive speech, saying that the thief
must be among the court; also that there were conjectures afloat as to
who it was, and that if the thief would bring me this money, I called
God to witness, I would not betray him. So the thief, at night, would
have laid down the stolen money in the churchyard near my house, but
could not because the gentleman of the bedchamber had placed his people
there to catch the thief. Thus he himself prevented the restoration.
The bishop was very angry with the gentleman of the bedchamber, who was
obliged to leave the court. But he uttered menaces against me, because
I had disgraced him in my sermon, having said that his name, which the
smith must have mentioned in his proceedings, would be known by the
devils in hell, and that he should take care not to get there himself.
But I did not care for his threats, but trusted myself to my God and my

"The courtiers, however, leagued themselves against me; they sided
almost all with the court mareschal, a Mecklenburger. But the mareschal
sought out all kinds of occasions against the duchess and her maid of
honour, Naundorf, and made the duke imagine that the duchess followed
the advice of Naundorf in everything, and thereby the duke was
irritated against the duchess. But, as I was not in their league, the
court mareschal asked me in the public saloon, to which party I
belonged, the great or the little. By the great party, they meant
themselves. I answered that I was on the side of God and justice. The
mareschal replied, that they would soon shorten my cloak for me. Now as
I perceived that the ill will of the duke to the duchess continued
increasing, I went to him, and spoke persuasively to him, that he
should not be so alienated from his wife, as those who desired it
sought only their own interests. Thereupon the duke went with me to the
duchess, and they became reconciled in my presence; and I, as it were,
united them again. The bishop told me to keep this secret; but from
this time he noted the intrigues of the court mareschal and dismissed

"There was also another evil business, for a nobleman of the
illustrious court of Plön quarrelled with a nobleman of our court, and
they challenged one another. As soon as I discovered this I went to
this sheep of my flock, and pointed out to him what an unchristian
thing duelling was, as Christ had commanded us to love our enemies. He
told me he would take care the quarrel was adjusted, so I was in some
measure reassured. But at dawn of day on the morrow, I heard a troop of
horses passing by my house, and it occurred to me that the devil was
going to have his pastime with this sheep of my flock. I rose, awoke my
servant, and as, from my great haste, I could not get a carriage, I
went after them on foot. When I had gone a mile I heard some shots at a
distance, the signal of the arrival of both parties at their respective
places. But I thought that they had already exchanged shots, so I fell
down on my knees and prayed God that neither of them might murder the
other. Then I ran on, guided by the footprints of the horses, which I
could easily see, as many of the Holstein junkers had accompanied my
sheep; and as I found them both ready to commence the duel, I went up
to my sheep and advised him to abstain from this evil deed. But his
opponent thought that he had settled with me to do this, which I denied
most solemnly; I also spoke persuasively to the others from the Plönish
court. But neither of them would be reconciled. Then said I, 'Now, if
you will not, may God make such an example of you both, together with
the others that have come here for this duel, as may show his wrath in
the eyes of the whole world.' Yet in my heart I wished that they might
be preserved from it. Then God so ordained, that the seconds persuaded
them and they became reconciled; and I got a carriage which conveyed me
back to the house. Who could be more joyful than I, who had deprived
the devil of a roast? Nevertheless, the Holstein noblesse were disposed
in their hearts to speak evil concerning it, and observed to my lord
that in future he would get no honourable cavalier to sit at his table.
He, also, in the beginning, was inclined to speak ill of me; and for
this reason, because I had followed them on foot. Then one of the
equerries came to me and said that my lord had been so offended by my
bad conduct that he had taken to his bed. I answered, by the time he
rises from his bed he will find that I have done nothing but what was
required of me by my duty as a faithful shepherd. Thereupon my lord
sent for me, and I showed him that his table could not be adorned by
those who opposed themselves to Christ. If I was so watchful and
faithful towards a servant, how much more would I be so towards my lord
himself. Then was my lord, who truly feared God, quite softened. Soon
after, the Duke von Plön visited our court; and my heart feared his
reproaches on account of what I had done; but he commended me, and, on
the other hand, blamed his court preacher, who had been so near the
duellists and had known the affair, yet had not stirred a foot in it.
This pleased my lord much, and he thereupon caused a severe edict to be
published against duelling.

"Up to this period I remained unmarried, and should have continued so
if my dear father had not exhorted me to marry. A patrician lady had
already been suggested to me at Lubeck, who met me in her smartest
attire, and whom my father would have been glad for me to marry; but
she was too fine for me, and I said that she would hardly suit a
clergyman. If I was to marry, no one would suit me better than
_Fräulein_ von Merlan, who would not be a hindrance to me in my office;
but I was shy about paying my addresses to her, lest she should think I
had on this account sought her acquaintance at Frankfort. But some one
who was going to Frankfort undertook to tell her my wishes; my love,
however, would not give an answer to him who wooed her for me; but she
wrote to me, that, though she had no engagement, still she was not at
liberty to answer yes; and she proposed to me another young _docterin_
in Frankfort, who was more highly gifted, and would suit me well; but I
answered, either she or none, and wrote immediately to Herr Doctor
Spener, that he might persuade her to consent. I wrote also to her
noble father, who knew me, as I had once been at the Philippseck court,
where he was high steward, and preached before his duke. He answered
me, that though he had never had an idea of giving his daughter to one
who was not of noble family, yet, he did not know how it happened, he
was so troubled in mind when he wished to refuse his consent, that he
thought it must be the will of God that he should entrust his daughter
to the Superintendent Petersen; therefore, he sent herewith his
fatherly yes. This letter was sent me by my love, Johanna, and Doctor
Spener congratulated me. Who could be more joyful than I when I found
that my prayer had been heard? for I had knelt in prayer to my God,
that he might interpose to prevent the marriage if it were not his
will, but if it were, that he would so trouble the father's mind that
he could not withstand it. When, therefore, I read in the father's
letter that he had been thus troubled, I perceived that this was what
God had intended from all eternity. Then did I travel joyfully by
Hamburg to Frankfort, where the bans were published, and I was
afterwards married by Herr Doctor Spener.

"In 1685, the holy Revelation which God made through his angel in
certain visions to the Apostle and Evangelist John was disclosed in a
wonderful way to me and my love. Formerly I had always feared to read
such a book, because it was generally considered that it was a sealed
book, which no one could understand. But on a certain day I was
powerfully moved, and led by my God to read this book, and on the same
day and at the same hour, without my knowing it, my love felt the same
impulse, and began to read the book, equally not knowing that I had
felt a like impulse. Now, when I had gone to my study to note down
something that I had discovered, from the accordance of the prophet
Daniel with the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation--what the
beast and the little horn were--behold, my love came there and told me
how she had seriously undertaken to read the holy book, and what she
had found therein, and this harmonised with mine, which I showed her,
as I had written it down, and the ink was not dry. Then were we
mutually amazed, and agreed we would confer together at the end of a
month, and observe what we had further found; but we could not withhold
it, when we discovered anything singular and of undoubted truth; and it
so happened that what she and I found was always precisely the same. We
rejoiced much thereat, and thanked God in all simplicity that He had so
invigorated us both by his enlightening spirit, as to be able to know
the future fate of the church, and to bear witness thereof. For a long
time we kept it to ourselves, till we made acquaintance with the
Fraulein Rosamunda Juliana von der Asseburg, who, in her testimony, had
borne witness to the same, yet not from searching the Holy Scriptures,
but by extraordinary grace vouchsafed her from above. Herewith I must
also note what happened to my love when she was eighteen, which I here
set down in her own words:--'I dreamt that the numerals 1685 were
written in golden ciphers on the heaven; on my right I saw a man who
pointed to the numbers and said to me, "See at that time will great
things happen, and somewhat shall be revealed unto you." Now, it was in
this year, 1685, that the great persecution took place in France, and
in the same year was the blessed millennial kingdom of the Apocalypse
revealed to me and my dear husband, at the same hour; and, without one
knowing of the other, did both our treatises so coincide, that we were
ourselves amazed at it We were therefore, by divine guidance, convinced
of the truth of what we had discovered in Holy Scripture concerning
the kingdom of our King. And later we imparted to others in all
simplicity our discovery, not caring when learned and unlearned alike
gainsaid it.'"

Here we end the narrative of Petersen. They passed the first years of
their marriage in peace. He had once accidentally placed his thumb on
the passage--"Sarah shall bear a son;" the year following he was made
happy by Johanna Eleonora bringing a son into the world, who was,
indeed, small at his birth, but who shortly afterwards raised his head
in a wonderful way out of his little bed and gave other delightful
signs that he would become something remarkable and pleasing in the
sight of the Lord. He did actually become, later, a Royal Russian
Councillor, and was able to protect his dear parents when the
millennial kingdom made their life full of cares; for, alas! it was not
granted to them to keep the great light which had been kindled at the
same time in both, under a bushel. It would have been better for their
earthly comfort had they done so.

What the worthy couple learned from the Revelation, combined with
numerous passages from the Bible--in reading which they were assisted
by earnest prayer, followed by divine inspiration--was remarkable. The
Millennium was not already come, but was approaching. It was to begin,
at no very distant time, by the return of Christ on earth; when this
should take place, a portion of the dead would rise; in great periods
of thousands of years, the whole human race, living and dead, were to
attain salvation; the Calvinists and Lutherans were to be united, and
all Jews and heathen converted; then all even the worst sinners would
be redeemed from hell; and, last of all, the devil himself brought out
of his miserable condition, and, through repentance and penance,
changed again into an angel; but this last would only be at the end of
50,000 years: from that time there would be endless bliss, love and
joy. They were inclined to think that the beginning of this glorious
time would be from 1739 to 1740.

In the year 1688, Petersen accepted the appointment of Superintendent
at Luneburg. They considered it as a special providence that he had
been called there, because once, in passing through on a journey, he
had preached a beautiful sermon which had given much satisfaction; but
in Luneburg he found many orthodox opponents who vexed and irritated
him, and some mocked him on account of the opinions which he held
concerning the millennial kingdom. They were, besides, injured by the
intimacy with the Fraulein Rosamunda von der Asseburg, whose violent
excitement and nervous exaltation had created a great sensation. The
tender and innocent character of the maiden captivated both the
Petersens; they supported the divine nature of her revelations, and
defended her in the press, especially as the dear maiden revealed
exactly the same concerning the already-mentioned return of the Lamb of
God which had been disclosed to them. The private devotions which they
held with the sick maiden gave great offence to the worldly-minded, and
they were maliciously calumniated. When Petersen once was in great
danger of drowning on the Elbe, he thought himself like the prophet
Jonas, who was cast by the Lord into the body of a whale because he
would not proclaim the secret of the Lord's word; and in this hour of
danger he vowed that henceforth he would no longer conceal from the
world his great secret. And he honestly kept his word. The millennial
kingdom, and the return of the Lamb, were brought forward incessantly
in his sermons. His hearers were amazed, his opponents denounced him,
and he was removed from his office in 1692. They both bore this
misfortune with love and trust in God.

From that time they passed their life in travelling about and writing
books, in visits to those who were like-minded, and in constant
disputes with the orthodox. They became to the multitude like persons
of evil repute, to whom calumny and ill-natured gossip seemed to cling;
they were obliged usually to keep their names secret on their journeys;
but never were they wanting in warm patrons and friends. In the castles
of princes, in the houses of the nobles, among the city authorities,
and in the rooms of artisans, they found admirers. More than all others
was Kniphausen, the President of the Supreme Court of Justice, their
protector. The year Petersen was dismissed, he obtained for them a
pension from the court of Berlin, and granted them a house at
Magdeburg; other patrons also sent them money, and gave them
recommendations, so that they were in a position to buy a small
property at Magdeburg. They were, nevertheless, annoyed by the peasants
and the clergymen of the place, and by denunciations in Berlin; but the
Queen herself maintained intercourse with the proclaimer of a
revelation so full of hope, and rejoiced that he promised salvation
finally to the wicked. Thus he remained safe, though, indeed, the
harmless proclaimer of a coming kingdom of glory was in danger of being
deceived by wolves in sheep's clothing for among the pious people
travelling about there were many deceivers. Once there came a troop of
mendicant students, who maintained that they were Pietists, and
demanded donations; then an adventurer desired instruction, having
heard that every one who allowed himself to be converted would receive
ten thalers. At last there came a false officer, who, in the absence of
the husband, under the pretence of being a follower of the Lamb,
insinuated himself into the confidence of the Frau Doctorin, who,
probably from an indelible recollection of her noble birth, was
disposed to bear special goodwill to the distinguished believer; but
the husband returned home, just in time to prevent the foreign deceiver
persuading his guileless wife to give him a letter of recommendation.
On a journey to Nuremberg, they were received into the Pegnitzer Blumen
order--he as Petrophilus, she as Ph[oe]be. Such success comforted them
amid the flood of flying sheets that surged up against them. The
true-hearted Petersen complained that every one rose up in controversy
against him, to prove themselves orthodox, and be made doctors of
theology; and when even the pious stumbled at his doctrine of the seven
trumpets, or if they reproached him, that he had once, when the
opportunity offered, reappeared in the character of the old professor
of poetry, and had celebrated the coronation of Frederick I. of Prussia
and other worldly events in Latin verses which flowed from him like
water, he bore it with resignation. The last years of their life they
dwelt in the pious district of Zerbst at Thymern, where they had
obtained a property, as their former property at Nieder-Dodeleben had
been too unquiet for them, and the peasants had become too hostile. In
1718, Petersen succeeded, by victorious disputations, in restoring to
the Evangelical communion the Duke Moritz Wilhelm von Sachsen-Zeitz.
They died at a great age--she in 1724, he in 1727.

After Spener had been removed to Berlin, the University of Halle became
the intellectual centre of Pietism; it was there that the impassioned
Franke, with his companions Breithaupt and Anton, led the theological
party. Henceforth the youth were systematically trained in the faith of
the Pietists; immense was the concourse of students; only Luther had
collected a greater number at Wittemberg. At Halle the dangers of the
new tendency were evident: the colleges became mere schools for the
propagation of their views; industrious, patient labour in the paths of
human science appeared almost superfluous; not only the controversial
points of the orthodox, but all the dogmas of the Church were treated
by many with indifference and contempt. The mind was overstrained by
intense prayer and spiritual exercises. Instead of unruly lads who
sharpened their backswords on a stone, and drank immense glasses of
beer, "_fioricos or hausticos_," in one draught, pale fellows crept
through the streets of the city in a state of inward abstraction, with
vehement movements of the hands, and loud outcries. All the believers
rejoiced over this wonderful manifestation of divine grace; but their
opponents complained of the increasing melancholy, and of distractions
of the spirit, and of nefarious proceedings of the worst kind. Vain
were the warnings of the moderate Spener.

From Halle, Pietism spread to the other Universities. Wittemberg and
Rostock withstood it long, and were for many years the last bulwarks of
orthodoxy. Even at the courts this faith gained influence: it forced
its way among the governments, and after 1700 filled the country
churches of most of the German territories. And its dominion was not
confined to Germany: an active intercourse with the pious of Denmark
and Sweden, and the Sclavonian East, contributed to maintain the inward
communion of these countries with the spiritual life of Germany, which
lasted till the end of the century. Even the orthodox opponents were,
without knowing it, transformed by this Pietism; the old scholastic
disputes were silenced, and they endeavoured to defend their own point
of view with greater dignity and learning.

Meanwhile the defects in the faith of the Pietists became greater, the
deterioration more striking. Since the process of spiritual
regeneration had become the secret act of a man's life, after which the
whole soul morbidly strained, all the bliss of salvation depended on
his admittance into the community of the pious. He who by a special act
of God's grace was brought into the condition of regeneration, lived in
a state of grace; his soul was guarded from all sin by the Lord; he
breathed a purer and more heavenly atmosphere, secure of the mercy of
the Lamb, already redeemed from sin here. But it was difficult for the
more cultivated minds to go through this spiritual process: it did not
prosper with all conscientious men, as it did with the jurist Johann
Jacob Moser. Touching are the accounts delivered to us of the strivings
of individuals, of the anguish and self-torture which fruitlessly
ground down body and soul. Among the weaker we find every kind of
self-delusion and hypocrisy. Very soon it became doubtful whether the
regenerate was an enthusiast or a deceiver: occasionally he was both at
the same time.

After Pietism had won the favour of persons of distinction and the
governing powers, it became a remunerative concern, a fashionable
thing, an assistance to very worldly objects. Generally those who
received the holiest revelations were tender, weak natures, whom one
could not suppose capable of the strenuous work which is necessary for
worldly service; they lived at the cost of their patrons. The artisans
were received into the society of the upper classes in order to assure
their spiritual progress, and whoever desired protection, hastened as
penitents to attend the meetings for edification, of some great lord,
which they preferred holding in special chambers prepared for the
purpose, rather than in the chapels of their castles. Sighs, groans,
wringing the hands, and talk about illumination, became now here and
now there a lucrative speculation. In the regenerate clergy, who held
the souls of weak nobles and gentry in their hands, might be found all
the faults peculiar to ambitious favourites, pride and mean
selfishness. Soon also the morality of many came into ill repute, and
when, after the decease of a devout lord, a society of ambitious
Pietists were expelled, a feeling of malicious pleasure was generally

Thus an opposition to Pietism arose on all sides, equally among the
orthodox, the worldly, and the learned, and finally in the sound common
sense of the people. How the judgment of the thoughtful against it was
expressed in the first half of the eighteenth century shall here be
shown by a short example.

The worthy Semler, of whom more details will be given later, relates
among his youthful reminiscences the sorrowful fate of his brother
Ernst Johann, who returned in a distracted state to his parental home,
from the regenerate circle of Magister Brumhardt and of Professor
Buddeus at the University of Jena. The passage gives such a good
insight into the period of decaying Pietism, that it shall be given
here with a few abbreviations.

"My brother was so habitually upright that he even mistrusted his own
feelings. Easy though it was to many of the brotherhood to declare the
day and the hour of their being sealed to redemption, which warranted
their living in a state of pure, spiritual, heavenly joyfulness, and
raised them to the rank of God's children, yet little could my brother
forgive himself this spiritual falsehood; he could not coincide in what
was so lightly and so repeatedly spoken of by others. He therefore fell
into immoderate grief over the greatness of his sins, which were alone
his hindrance; he not only prayed, but he moaned half the night before
the Lord, but there was no change in his feelings. He seldom eat meat,
no white or wheaten bread; he considered himself quite unworthy even of
existence. Every night, when I had gone to sleep, he stole secretly out
of bed, crept into the small adjoining library, knelt or lay down on
the floor, and gradually lost, in his passionate emotions, all caution
as to speaking softly and gently. His moaning and lamenting awoke me. I
sought him out, and small confidence as I had in myself to produce any
great effect--being as yet little advanced in conversion,--yet I
repeated to him at intervals such beautiful lines and verses, both
Greek and Hebrew, that he often embraced me and sighed, Haying, 'Ah, if
this would but begin in me.' I answered sometimes hastily, that this
was perversion instead of conversion, and how impossible it was for
that way to be right and true, wherein one acted contrary to the
intentions of God, and made one's-self into an utterly useless,
helpless creature. 'Yes,' he said, 'that is what I am, and cannot
sufficiently acknowledge it.' I talked with my mother, who wept over
her son, who might now have been our mainstay, if he had not been
spoilt by these false ideas. My father disapproved of all this still
more strongly, and expatiated at such length from dogmatic and
polemical divinity, that I could well see in what account he held
these new spiritual institutions. Meanwhile he was obliged to be
on his guard, for the whole Court were in favour of this party;
many were undoubtedly very well-meaning Christians, but there were
also undeniably many idlers and adventurers, who entered these
institutions, and found their good, comfortable life very easy. All
the evidence of their life in the flesh--which evidence was not
rare nor imperceptible--was of no avail; who could succeed here?
Occasionally there was a convert who lived in shame with his
maidservant; it was not investigated, it was a calumny, and in case of
necessity they placed him elsewhere, if his peasants were too Lutheran.
By degrees my brother insinuated that my father also had not yet
entered the narrow way, and that he could not be helped to it. They
roamed about the woods day and night, so that moonlight devotion, which
many now again recommend, is nothing new. They sang the new hymns
together; the Duke often indeed gave the conveyances for these
meetings, together with refreshments; nay, he often himself was the
coachman, when he wished publicly to do honour to some old shoemakers'
wives who had much faith, for the Saviour's sake. I am so far from
wishing to exaggerate the state of things, that indeed I have not said
all. The period for the annual pilgrimage came, for this custom had
been retained from the old times and institutions of the monks. In many
places the grace of the Saviour was supposed to dwell abundantly,
almost visibly, and thither did the brothers and sisters make their
pilgrimages, in reality contrary to the principle laid down by Christ,
that neither Jerusalem nor Samaria was the special abiding-place of His
spirit. Many of them brought their provisions with them. My brother
assuredly did not travel to Ebersdorf without money, but brought
nothing back, for he had bought this or that little book to give to the
brothers as a memento. This enthusiasm had its real views, that aspired
to great ends, although directly afterwards they were moderated,
because the Philadelphian reckoning did not coincide with them. During
these my brother's pious journeys, my mother died, for the remembrance
of whom I daily bless my God. My brother found her in her coffin when
he returned; he felt all the grief of a son, threw himself upon her,
and lay there long, crying aloud, 'Ah, if I, useless creature, had but
died in my mother's stead!' Now we obtained an entrance to his heart;
this journey on foot had much weakened his hypochondria; the
exhortations of the brotherhood called forth some ideas which he could
not himself realize; he was to a certain extent calmed, or began to
believe himself so. We represented to him that he must make his gifts
serviceable to his fellow-men, however small they might be. He first
took a situation as preceptor in a small orphan-house, and afterwards
with Herr von Dieskau, who dwelt in a castle of that name, in the most
beautiful country that one could select for oneself One portion of this
old castle stands upon the city wall; under the wall there is a small
footpath with a hedge planted as a protection against slipping, but
just under this fragment of rock flows the Saale, sometimes very full
and broad, but always deep enough to allow the passage of rafts and
boats; from the castle the eye falls upon a half circle of wood and
hills. Here my brother might perhaps have found rest and refreshment,
but he did not live much longer."

Here we close Sender's narrative. He himself became infected later by
the prevailing spiritual tendency, and he strove, whilst still a youth,
after regeneration, but the powerful tone of his mind enabled him to
recover. The state of the times also helped to bring this about.

The year 1740 was fatal to Pietism. The new King of Prussia was as
averse to the Pietists, as his father had been favourable to them.
Almost at the same time they ceased to prevail in the Saxon courts. The
time of enlightenment now began; the nation pursued another path; the
"_Stillen im lande_" only existed as an isolated community. The
association of brothers, of Count Zinzendorf, for a longer period
developed a praiseworthy missionary activity in foreign countries, but
they ceased to influence the stream of German life, which now began to
flow on with a deeper and more powerful current.

Pietism had drawn together large numbers of individuals; it had raised
them from the narrowness of mere family life, it had increased in the
soul the longing after a deeper spiritual aim, it had introduced new
forms of intercourse; here and there the strong distinctions of classes
had been broken through, and it had called forth greater earnestness
and more outward propriety in the whole nation, but it had not
strengthened national union. He who gave himself up to it with zeal,
was in great danger of withdrawing himself, with those who were
like-minded, from the great stream of life, and of looking down from
his solitude, like the shipwrecked man from his island, on the great
waste of waters around him.

The new scientific development also produced, at first, only individual
men of learning; then a free culture; after that a nation, which dared
to struggle and to die, and finally to live, for its independence.

                              CHAPTER VI.

                         THE DAWNING OF LIGHT.

From the German cities, on the boundaries betwixt guild labour and free
invention, did the art of printing come into the world--the greatest
acquisition of the human race, after that of the alphabet. The mind of
man could now be conveyed, bound up in wood and leather, upon a
thousand roads at the same time, all over the earth; the powers of man
in church and state, in science and handicraft, were unfolded, not only
more powerfully, more variously, and more richly, but in a totally
different manner from the quiet plodding of the past. A change was
produced in nations in one century which formerly would have taken a
thousand years. Every individual was bound together in one great
intellectual unity with his contemporaries, and every nation with other
civilized nations. For the first time a regular connection in the
intellectual development of the human race was secured. The mind of the
individual will continue to live upon earth perhaps many thousand years
after he has ceased to breathe; but the soul of each individual nation
gains a capacity of renovating itself which will, we hope, remove its
decease, according to the old laws of nature, to an incalculable

The black art had not been invented many years when a spring-tide arose
in the soul. From the study of the Latin writers, the humanitarians
proclaimed, with transport, how much there had been of the beautiful
and the grand in the ancient world. Eagerly did they maintain the
treasure of noble feelings, which had fallen on their souls from the
distant past, against the coarse or corrupt life that they beheld
around them. With the holy book in their hands, pious ecclesiastics
contended for the words of Scripture, against the despotism of Rome and
the false traditions of the Church. By thousands of books written by
themselves, they raised the consciences of the people, for the greatest
spiritual struggle that had ever taken place since the Star of
Bethlehem had appeared to the human race; and again through thousands
of books, after the first victory, they consecrated anew for their
people all earthly relations, the duties and rights of men, of the
family, and of the governing powers, as the first educators and
teachers of the great multitude.

But it was not the pleasure derived from the ancient poets and statues,
nor the mighty struggle which was carried on concerning the teaching of
the Church, nor the theologians and the philologists of the sixteenth
century, that were the greatest blessings bestowed by the new art; it
is not they alone that have given richness to thought, and security to
judgment, and made love and hatred greater. This was brought about in
yet another way--through the medium of types and woodcuts; slowly,
imperceptibly, to contemporaries, but to us wonderfully.

Men learnt gradually a different mode of seeing, observing, and
judging. Sharp as was the mental activity of individuals in the middle
ages, the impressions which were conveyed to their minds from the outer
world were too easily distorted by the activity of their imagination,
which united dreams, forebodings, and immature combinations with the
object. Now the distinct black upon white was always at work, to give a
durable, unvarying report of multitude of new conceptions upon the
mutual relations of the State, and the position held in it by the
individual man. How various have been the lawgivers who have dominated
over the lives of individuals--the Jewish priests, the community of
apostles, the Jurist schools of ancient Rome, the Longobard kings and
the ambitious popes; and, again, together with laws which had
originated in past ages and nations, there were the reminiscences from
German antiquity--legal decisions, ordinances, codes of law,
regulations and privileges. According to their decisions a man
preserved or lost his house and farm, wife and child, and his property,
either inherited or acquired. And just after the great war, the
despotic will of the ruler, and the tyrannical power of a heartless
system, had exalted itself above all law. Amid such a chaos of laws,
and the suppression of rights by the power of the State, the minds of
men sought a firm support. And as the Pietists demanded of the Church a
worthier conception of human rights and duties, the Jurists also began,
after the great war, to place the natural law of men in opposition to
the injustice of despotic States, and to vindicate the reasonable law
of States against intriguing politicians. Together with mathematical
discipline and natural philosophy, the science of law became the
laboratory in which minds were reared to ideal requirements. From them
sprang a new philosophy.

After the Thirty Years' War there began, in the great civilized
nations, a systematic exposition of those convictions which Science,
from its then standing-point, was able to give concerning God, the
creation and the government of the world. The French Descartes, the
English Locke, the Dutch Spinoza, and the German Leibnitz, Thomasius
and Wolf, were the great exponents of this philosophy.

They all, with the exception of the free-thinker Spinoza, sought to
keep their system, concerning the divine rule in nature and in the soul
of man, in unison with the doctrines of Christian theology.

After Descartes had put forth his propositions, nothing appeared fair
or true to the inquiring spirit of man but what could be proved by
unanswerable demonstration,--all belief in authority passed away;
science assumed a new dominion. The divines, also, once her severe
rulers,--even Luther had placed the words of Holy Scripture above the
human reason,--now found that natural theology was the ally of
revelation. Young theologians eagerly sought in this philosophy new
supports to their faith. The necessity and wisdom of a Creator were
demonstrated from the movements of the stars, the volcanic fires, or
the convolutions of a snail's shell. On the other hand, there was no
lack of men who denied the creating power of a personal God and the
immortality of the soul. But against such isolated deists and atheists,
most of the philosophers, and the Christian piety of the great mass of
the people, rose in arms.

The great German philosophers who, at the beginning of the eighteenth
century, were the leaders of this movement, carried a holy fervour into
the various circles of German life. Leibnitz, the great creative
intellect of his time, a wonderful mixture of elastic pliancy and firm
tranquillity, of sovereign certainty and tolerant geniality, worked, by
his countless monographs and endless letters, especially on the leaders
of the nation and on foreigners, on princes, statesmen, and scholars,
opening a path on all sides, and hastening forward to disclose the
widest prospects. Besides him, Thomasius, spiritual, emotional,
combative, and greedy of approbation, excited even the indifferent and
insignificant, by his noisy activity, to take a part in the struggle.
As the first German journalist, he contended through the press, both
jestingly and in earnest--now in alliance with the Pietists against
intolerant orthodoxy, now as opponent of fanatical revivals, for
toleration and pure morality against every kind of superstition and
fanaticism. Lastly, the younger Christian Wolf, the great professor; he
was a methodical, clear, and sober teacher, who, during long years of
useful activity, drew up a system and founded a school.

A period such as this, in which the great discoveries of individuals
inspired their numerous disciples with enthusiasm, is a happy period
for millions who perhaps have no immediate share in the new
acquisition. Somewhat of apostolical consecration seems to rest upon
the first efforts of a school. What has been progressively formed in
the soul of a teacher, painfully amidst inward struggles, works on
young souls as something great, firm, and elevating. With enthusiasm
and Pietism is united the impulse to work out by self-exertion the new
acquisition. Rapid is the spread of theorems among the people; they
work not only on the individual sciences, but on all the tendencies of
the practical mind, on lawgiving, statesmanship, household regulations,
and family training; in the studio and workshop of the artist, and

This new scientific light was first kindled in 1700. Academies, learned
periodicals, and prizes were established. The leaders adjusted the
German language to the exigencies of science, and thus placed it
victoriously on an equality with Latin; and this glorious deed was the
first step towards bringing the mass of the nation into a new relation
with the learned.

Thus a new life forced its way, about 1720, with irresistible power
into the houses, writing-rooms, and workshops of the citizens. Every
sphere of human activity was searchingly investigated. Agriculture,
commerce, and the technicalities of trade were made accessible by
hand-books of instruction, which are still in the present day the
groundwork of our technological literature. Books were written on raw
materials, and the method of working them; on minerals, colours, and
machines; in many places popular periodicals appeared, which
endeavoured to make the new discoveries of science available to the
artizan and manufacturer. Even into the hut of the poor peasant did
some rays of bright light penetrate; for him, also, arose a small
philanthropic literature. The moral working of every earthly vocation
was also exhibited; much that was elevating was said concerning the
worth and importance of operatives and of officials; the inward
connection of the material and spiritual interests of the nation were
proclaimed; incessantly was the necessity pointed out of abandoning the
beaten track of old customs, of taking interest in the progress of
foreign countries, and of learning their character and requirements.
Men wrote upon dress and manners in a new style, with humour, irony,
and reproof, but always with the wish of remoulding and improving. The
spiritual failings of the various classes and professions, the weakness
of women, and the roughness and dishonesty of men were incessantly
criticised and chastised, undoubtedly in an uncouth style, and
sometimes with pedantry and narrow-mindedness, but in an earnest and
upright spirit.

The whole private life of Germany was thrown into a state of restless
excitement; new ideas struggled everywhere with old prejudices;
everywhere the citizen beheld around and within him a change which it
was difficult to withstand. The period was still poor in great
phenomena, but everywhere in smaller events an impulsive power was
perceptible. Only a few years later, the new enlightenment was to bear
blossoms of gladness to the whole world. Still is philosophy and
popular culture of the people dependent on mathematics and natural
science; but since Johann Matthias Gesner, the knowledge of antiquity,
the second pole of all scientific culture, has begun to bear upon the
historical development of the popular mind. A few years after 1750,
Winkelmann travelled to Italy.

And how did the citizens live, from whose homes the greater part of our
thinkers and discoverers, our scholars and poets have gone forth, who
were to carry out the new culture further and bolder, more freely and
more beautifully?

Let us examine a moderate-sized city about 1750. The old brick walls
are still standing, with towers, not only over the gates, but here and
there upon the walls. A temporary wooden roof is placed on many, the
strongest have prisons in them, others that were decayed, having been
riddled with shot, are pulled down. The city walls also are repaired;
projecting angles and bastions still lie in ruins; blooming elder and
garden flowers are planted behind, and trail over the stones; the city
moat lies for the most part dry, the cows of some of the citizens
pasture within it, or the clothmakers have their frames set up with
rows of small iron hooks, and quietly spread their cloths over them.
The usual colour since the Pietists, is pepper and salt, as it was then
called; the old favourite blue of the Germans is also seen, though no
longer made from German woad, but from foreign indigo. The narrow
openings in the doors have still wooden planks, often two behind one
another, and they are closed at night by the city watchmen, who stand
at their post, but have often to be awakened by knocking and ringing,
when anyone desires admission. On the inner side of the city wall,
fragments of wooden galleries are still to be seen, on which once the
archers and arquebuziers stood; but the passage along the wall is no
longer free through its whole length, there are already many poor
cottages and shops built on it.

In the interior of the city, the houses are unadorned, and not so
numerous as in former centuries; there are still some waste spaces
between, but most have been bought by people of rank and turned into
gardens. Perhaps there is already a coffee garden, laid out after the
pattern of the famed one of Leipzig; it contains some rows of trees and
benches, and in the coffee-room, near the bar, are arranged the clay
pipes of the habitués; but the maple head and the costly meerschaum
are just coming into fashion. In the neighbourhood of the chief
market-place, the houses are more stately, the old arcades are not
preserved; these covered passages, which existed once throughout
the greater part of Germany, led through the basement story to the
market-places, protecting the foot passengers from rain, and acted as a
communication from the house to the street. The old pillars and vaults
are attached to the massive edifice of the council-house by coarse
rough-cast cement and intermediate walls; in the dim poorly lighted
rooms of the interior hang cobwebs, gray piles of records raise their
heads amidst layers of dust; in the council-room, in a raised space,
the railing of which separates the councillors from the citizens, are
stiff-cushioned chairs, covered with green cloth, and fastened with
brass nails; everything is unadorned, even the whitewash neglected, and
everything poor and tasteless, for in the new State money is deficient,
and no pleasure is felt in adorning public edifices, which are
considered by the citizens as a necessary evil. Most of the houses in
the market-place have pointed gables; they look out on the street, and
betwixt the houses broad rushing gutters pour their water on the bad
pavement, which is made of rough stones. Among the houses stands an
occasional church or abandoned monastic buildings, with buttresses and
pointed arches. The people look with indifference on these remains of
the past, bound up with which there is scarcely any fond remembrance,
for they have lost all appreciation of ancient art; owing to this, the
edifices of the ancient times are everywhere ruined, as the castle of
Marienburg was by Frederic of Prussia. The magistrates have carefully
turned the empty space into a parsonage-house or schoolroom, knocked
out the windows, and made a plaster ceiling; and the boys look from
their Latin grammar with admiration on the stone rosettes and delicate
work of the chisel,--remains of a time when such inutilities were still
erected; and in the crumbling cloisters where once trod monks with
earnest step, they now spin their humming tops; for the "_Circitor
susurrans_," or "Monk," is still the favourite game of this period,
which gentlemen of rank also, in a smaller form, sometimes carry in
their pockets.

There is already much order in the city: the streets are swept, the
dung-heaps, which fifty years before, even in towns of some calibre,
lay in front of the doors--the ancient cleanliness having disappeared
in the war--are again removed by an ordinance, which the councillors of
the sovereign have sent to the superior officials, and these to the
senate. The stock of cattle in the streets is also much diminished; the
pigs and cattle, which not long before 1700 enjoyed themselves amidst
the children at play, in the dirt of the street, are strictly kept in
farmyards and out-houses, for the government does not like that the
cities should keep cattle within the walls, for it has introduced the
_octroi_, and a disbanded non-commissioned officer paces backwards and
forwards near the gate, with his cane in his hand in order to examine
the cans and baskets of the country people. Thus the rearing of cattle
is carried on in the needy suburbs and farms: it is only in the small
country towns that citizens employ agriculture as a means of support.
There is a police also now, that exercises a strict vigilance over
beggars and vagabonds, and the passport is indispensable for ordinary
travellers. Constables are visible in the streets, and watch
the public-houses. At night a fire watchman is posted near the
council-house, and the warders of the towers by means of flags and
large speaking trumpets, give danger signals. The engine-house is also
kept in good order; clumsy fire-barrels stand beside the council-house
under open sheds, and above them hang the iron-cased fire-ladders. The
night watch are tolerably watchful and discreet; after the great war
they here and there sang offensive verses, when they called out the
hours, but now the pious parson has insisted upon both words and melody
being spiritual.

The artisan continues to work in the old way, each one adheres steadily
to his guild; the painters also are incorporated, and execute as a
masterpiece a crucifixion with the usual number of prescribed figures.
In the Roman Catholic districts they live by very moderate performances
of the pictures of the saints; in the Protestant, they paint shields
and targets, and the coats of arms of the sovereigns, which are to be
seen in numbers on public buildings and over the doors of artisans.
Most of the artisans adhere strictly to their old customs, and
especially to their guild rights. Any one who enters the guild not
according to artisan law, is treated as a bungler, and persecuted with
a hatred, the intention of which is to exclude him from their society.
Serious business is still transacted in front of the open shops;
apprentices are taken, fellows receive the freedom, quarrels are
accommodated, and the formula "By your kind permission," which
introduces every speech, sounds unceasingly at all the meetings of the
masters and the fellows; but the old colloquies and sayings of the
middle ages are only half understood, rough jests have been introduced,
and the better class already begin not to attach much value to the
guild; indeed there are those who consider the old constitution of the
guild as a burden, because it stubbornly resists their endeavours to
enlarge their manufacturing activity; such was the case with the
clothmakers and iron-workers. And the jovial annual feasts which were
once the joy and pride of almost every artisan have nearly ceased. The
processions in masks, and the old peculiar dances, are incompatible
with the culture of a time in which the individual fears nothing so
much as to lose his dignity, in which it is preached from the pulpit,
that noisy, worldly amusements are sinful, and the learned men of the
city find no adequate reason for such disturbance in the streets.

The gentry of the city are separated from the citizens by dress and
titles. As much as the nobles look down upon them, so do they upon the
citizens, and these again upon the peasants. A merchant has already a
place among the gentry, especially if he occupies some city office or
has wealth. In the families also of merchants of distinction, as the
first wholesale houses are denominated, and in those of traders of
consideration, as the possessors of large retail shops are called, a
pleasing change may be observed in the mode of life. The coarse luxury
of a former generation is restrained, better training at home and
greater rectitude in business are everywhere perceptible. It is already
a subject of boast that the members of old solid commercial houses are
not those who sue for patents of nobility; nay, such vain new nobles
are despised by the high commercial class.[85] And the unprejudiced
cavalier is brought to confess, that in fact there is no difference
between the wife of the landed proprietor, who goes with dignity into
the cow-house to overlook the skimming of the cream, and the wife of a
merchant of distinction at Frankfort, who during the fair sits in the
warehouse; "she is well and handsomely dressed, she gives orders to her
people like a princess, she knows how to behave to people of rank,
commoners, and those of the lower classes, each according to their
class and position; she reads and understands many languages, she
judges sensibly, and knows how to live, and bring up her children
well." Other circumstances, besides the intellectual energy of the
time, contributed to elevate the German merchant. The influx of the
expelled Huguenots had not in some respects been favourable to our
German character, yet the influence that they exercised on German
commerce must be highly estimated. About 1750 their families dwelt in
almost all the larger commercial cities; they formed there a small
aristocratic community, lived in social seclusion, and maintained
carefully their relations with their connections in France, who, up to
the present day, form an aristocracy of French wholesale traders,
serious and strict, and rather of the old-fashioned aristocratic
school. It was among the German Huguenots that the puritanical
character of the Genevan and Flemish Separatists found many adherents,
their staid demeanour had exercised an influence on other great houses
both in Frankfort and along the Rhine. But German commerce had now
acquired new vigour, and healthy labour raised the tone of its
character. The impoverished country again took an honourable share in
the commerce of the world. Already did the Germans export their iron
and steel wares from Mark, Solingen and Suhl, cloth from all the
provinces, fine cloth also of Portuguese and Spanish wool from
Aix-la-Chapelle, damask from Westphalia, linen and lawn from Silesia;
to England, Spain, Portugal, and the colonies, whose products in return
had a great market in Germany; while the whole of the east of Europe,
up to the frontiers of Turkey and the steppes of Asia, were supplied by
German merchants. The poverty of the people, that is to say, the low
rate of wages, made the outlay of many manufactures light and
remunerative. In Hamburg and the cities of the Rhine, from Frankfort to
Aix-la-Chapelle, the wholesale trade throve, and equally so in the
frontier lands towards Poland, though in a ruder form, as it was one of
barter. Goods and travellers were still conveyed down the Danube in
rough wooden boats, which were built for a single voyage, and taken to
pieces at the end of it, and sold as planks. And at Breslau the bearded
traders from Warsaw and Novogorod sold the carts and horses of the
steppes, on which they had brought their wares in long caravans to
barter them for the costly products of western civilisation.

Already do the Silesian merchants begin to complain that the caravans
come less often, and foreigners are dissatisfied on account of the new
Prussian red-tapism and customhouse regulations of a strict government.
At the same time travelling traders, with their sample cases of
knife-blades, and needles, began to find their way from Lennep and
Bartscheid to the Seine and the Thames, and the younger sons of great
manufacturers met together with Hamburghers in London, Lisbon, Cadiz,
and Oporto, and there, as bold and expert speculators, founded numerous
firms. As early as 1750, cosmopolitanism had developed itself in the
families of great merchants, who looked down with contempt on the
limited connections of home. And something of the enterprising and
confident character of these men has been communicated to their
business friends in the interior. A manly, firm, and independent spirit
is to be found about this time pervading all classes.

But most of the gentry in every city belonged to the literary
classes--theologians, jurists, and medical men. They represented
probably every shade of the culture of the time, and the strongest
contrasts of opinion were to be found in every great city. Now, the
clergy were either orthodox or Pietist. The first, generally pleasant
in social intercourse; not unfrequently _bon vivants_, able to stand a
good bottle of wine, and tolerant of the worldly jokes of their
acquaintances. They had lost a good deal of their old pugnacity and
inquisitorial character; they condescended sometimes to quote a passage
from Horace, occupied themselves with the history of their parish
church and school, and already began to regard with secret goodwill the
dangerous Wolf, because he was so striking a contrast to their
opponents, the Pietists. Where Pietist clergy resided they were
probably in better relations with other confessions, and were
especially reverenced by the women, Jews, and poor of the city. Their
faith, also, had become milder; they were, for the most part, worthy
men--pure in morals, faithful shepherds of souls, with a tender,
lovable character. Their preaching was very pathetic and flowery; they
liked to warn people against cold subtleties, and recommended what they
called a juicy, racy style, but which their opponents found fault with
as affected tautology. Their endeavours to isolate their parishioners
from the bustle of the world was even now regarded with distrust by a
great majority of the citizens; and in the taverns it was usual to say,
mockingly, that the pious sat groaning over leather aprons, shoemakers'
lasts, and tailors' geese, and were on the watch for regeneration.

The teachers of the city schools were still learned theologians, and,
for the most part, poor candidates; the Rector, perhaps, had been
appointed from the great school of the Halle Orphan Asylum. They were
an interesting class, accustomed to self-denial, frequently afflicted
with weakly bodies, the result of the hard, necessitous life through
which they have had to work upwards. There were original characters
among them; many were queer and perverse, and the majority had no
comprehensive knowledge. But in very many of them was hid, perhaps,
under strange forms, somewhat of the freedom, greatness, and candour of
the ancient world; they had been, since the Reformation, the natural
opponents of all pious zelots, even those that came from the great
orphan asylum, from the training of the two Frankes and of Joachim
Lange were generally more moderate than was satisfactory to the Pietist
pastors. The leaves of their Cornelius Nepos were from constant use
frightfully black; their lot was to rise slowly from the sixth or fifth
form to the dignity of conrectors, with a small increase in their
scanty salary. The greatest pleasure of their life was to find
sometimes a scholar of capacity, in whom they could plant, besides the
refinements of Latin syntax and prosody, some of their favourite
ideas--a heathenish view of the greatness of man, influences on which
the scholar, perhaps, in his manhood, looked back with a smile. But in
this thankless and little esteemed occupation they laboured incessantly
to form in the Germans a feeling for the beauty of antiquity, and a
capacity for comprehending other races of men. And the unceasing
influence exercised by thousands of them on the living generation was
increased when Gesner naturalised the Greek language in the schools,
and established an entirely new foundation for the instruction of
scholars, which was spread by the teachers with enthusiasm; the spirit
of antiquity, a thorough comprehension of the writers, not the merely
grammatical construction, became the main object.

The school of every important town was a Latin one. If it attained to
so high a point as to prepare the upper classes for the University, the
boys who were to become artisans left when they got to the fourth form.
This arrangement contributed to insure a certain amount of education to
the citizen, which is now sometimes wanting. It was certainly in itself
no great gain for the guild master to have some knowledge of Mavor, and
of Cupid and Venus's doves, which were brought forward in all the poems
of the learned, and embellished even the almanacks and gingerbread;
but, together with these conceptions from antiquity, his mind imbibed
also the seed of the new ideas of the time. It is owing to this kind of
school culture that enlightenment of mind has so rapidly spread among
intelligent citizens.

Strict was the school discipline; the usual words of encouragement
which the poor scholars then wrote in one another's albums
were--"Patience! joyfully onward!" But strictness was necessary, for in
the under classes grown-up youths sat beside the children, and the bad
tricks of two generations were in constant conflict. Through a great
part of Germany there existed a custom which has been retained up to
the present day, that the boys who were on the foundation must, under
the lead of a teacher, sing as choristers. If they did not walk in
funeral processions behind the cross, in their blue mantles, it was a
grievous neglect, which much disturbed the discipline of the school,
and as early as 1750 was complained of as an irregularity.

The followers of Wolf were to be found everywhere among the gentry, as
the scholars of the new "enlightenment," the watchmen of toleration,
and the friends of scientific progress. In the course of this year they
were in anxious discussion on some old controversial points, for the
Leipziger, Crusius, had just published his "Introduction to the
Rational Contemplation of Natural Occurrences;" and, with this work,
and a cosmos of the year 1749, in their hands, they were once more
taking into consideration whether they were to assume that space was a
plenum or a vacuum, and whether the final cause of movement was to be
sought in the active force of elastic bodies. Indignantly did these men
of progress regard the theological faculty at Rostock, who had, just at
this period, compelled a young Herr Kosegarten to make a recantation,
because he had dared to maintain that the human nature of the Redeemer
on earth had only been to a certain degree supported by his Divine
nature; that he had learnt like others, and had not in all things a
perfect foreknowledge. On the other hand, they accorded a benignant
smile to the physico-theological contemplations of those who proved the
possibility of the resurrection, in spite of the continual change of
matter--or, to use the language of the time, in spite of the change of
particles of the body--or took pains to show wisdom and foresight in
the white fur of the hare in Livonia.

They could also prize German poetry and eloquence. Herr Professor
Gottsched and his wife were then at Leipzig. Like others, they had
their weaknesses; but there was a noble nature in them, decorum of
character, dignity, and knowledge. They also belonged to this school,
and they wished, through the medium of German poetry, to introduce
greater refinement and better taste into the country. They met with
much enmity, but their periodical, the "Neuen Büchersaal," could
scarcely be dispensed with by those that followed the course of the
_belles lettres_. Beside this elder generation, a younger one was
already springing up in the cities, who no longer considered the fine
arts merely as agreeable ornaments, but looked to their influence for
noble feelings and a freer morality, at which the literary party
disapprovingly shook their heads. And thus these disciples--it was only
a small number--conducted themselves for two years with an excitement
which led them into great exaggerations; they carried books in their
pockets, they gave them to the women of their acquaintance, they
declaimed loudly, and pressed one another's hands. It was the first
dawn of a new life which was hailed with so much joy. In the monthly
journal, the "Bremer Beiträge," appeared the first cantos of the
"Messiah," by Herr Klopstock; the perplexity which, in the beginning,
was excited by its ancient metre, was now followed, in a small circle,
by unreserved admiration. In the preceding year another poem, "The
Spring," by an unknown writer, had been published; no one knew
who had written it, but it was supposed to be the same agreeable poet
who, under the armorial bearings of Breitkopf, had contributed,
together with Kästner, Gellert, and Mylius, to the monthly journal
"Belustigungen des Verstandes und Witzes" ("Diversions of Wit and
Intellect"). And just at this time, also, the beginning of another
heroic poem, "Noah," by another unknown writer, had been published by
Weidmann; it was supposed to be by a Swiss, because the name Sipha
appeared in it, which had formerly been used by Bodmer. All these poems
were in Roman metre, and this new style caused an excitement of mind
such as had never before been known. There appeared to be a regular
rebellion among the _bels-esprits_; and there was shortly to be a still
greater uproar.

The cities were still deficient in such theatrical representations as
could satisfy a thoughtful mind. But any one who then travelling in
northern Germany had met the Schönemannsche troop, would still remember
a young man of disadvantageous figure, with a short neck, of the name
of Eckhof, who afterwards became the most refined and finished actor of
Germany. And just within these weeks a new book had come from the
Leipzig fair, "Beiträge zur Historie und Aufnahme des Theaters"
("Contributions to the History and Rise of the Theatre"), which had
been written by two young literati of Leipzig; of whom one was called
Lessing. In the same batch of books was "Pamela," by Richardson, who,
the year before had written "Clarissa."

But what was then read in the houses of the citizens was of quite
another quality. As yet there were no circulating libraries; only the
small second-hand booksellers sometimes lent books to trustworthy
acquaintance. But there sprang up a voluminous literature of novels,
which were eagerly bought by unassuming readers. They were narratives,
slight and carelessly put together, in which strange events were

These adventures were represented in the seventeenth century in various
ways: either in dull imitations of the old chivalrous and pastoral
novels, with a phantastic background, and without the advantage of
detailed description; or a coarse copy of real life, without beauty,
often common and vulgar. There was then a concurrence of a decaying
style and of the beginning of a new one. After 1700, the realistic
tendency became the ruling one. From the Amadis novels, arose loose
court and tourist adventures. "Simplicissimus" was followed by a great
number of war romances, Robinsonades, and stories of adventurers; the
greater part of them are very carelessly composed, and German gossip or
newspaper information of extraordinary occurrences abroad, partly
diaries, are worked in. "Fassmann's Dialogues from the Kingdom of
the Dead," are collected in a similar way from flying-sheets and
story-books, which that disorderly character, who then resided in
Franconia, had gathered together from the pastor of the place. Those
who wrote thus were thoroughly despised by literary men, but they
exercised a very great influence--one difficult to estimate--on the
mind of the people. They were two separate spheres that revolved
together. And this contrast between the reading of the people and that
of the educated class, exists but too much, even in the present day.

Among the gentry of the town, however, there were in 1750 still other
literati. No town of any importance failed to possess a patriotic man,
who examined old chronicles, church documents, and records from the
council archives, and could give valuable contributions towards a
history of the place and district. As yet little was known of the
monuments of antiquity; but they, as well as old inscriptions and the
false idols of our primeval ancestors, were copied as curiosities.

Still greater was the interest excited by physical science. It
continues the most popular branch of knowledge in the smaller cities.
Not inconsiderable is the number of respectable periodicals which give
information concerning the new discoveries of science. We also revert
to them with respect; the representations and style are sometimes
admirable; as, for example, in "Kästner's Hamburg Magazine;" and they
are unweariedly occupied in presenting the scientific discoveries of
commerce, trade, and agriculture to every circle of practical
interests. Their rational influence, however, did not entirely displace
all that was untenable. The old inclination for alchemy was not
conquered. Still did men, sensible and upright men, continue this kind
of work; earnestly was the great secret sought for, and ever did
something interpose to hinder final success. This work was carried on
secretly, but well did the city know that the councillor or the
secretary still used his chemical apparatus to make gold. But a
pleasure in chemical processes, distillations in retorts, and cold
solvents was prevalent among many; powerful tinctures were distributed
to acquaintances, and housewifes loved to distil various artificial
waters; in advertisement sheets, medicaments were recommended, pills
for the gout, powders for the scrofula, &c., charlatanry was
comparatively greater than now, and lies, equally barefaced. A zeal for
scientific collections became general; boys also began to pin
butterflies and beetles, and to examine dendrites and minerals in their
father's microscope; and the more wealthy rejoiced over "Rösel's Insect
Recreations," and the first number of "Frischen's Representations of

The well educated, even in the humblest places, prided themselves on
collecting a library. Twice a year, at Easter and Michaelmas, the lover
of books made his regular purchases; then the bookseller brought from
the Leipzig Fair the "novelties" which he had either bought with money
or exchanged for other works published by himself. These new books he
laid in his shop for inspection, as a trader now does his drapery. This
was an important time for literary amateurs; the shops were the focus
of literary intercourse; the chief customers seated themselves there,
gave their opinions, chose and rejected books, and received the
lists of new works of the great firms,--as, for example, that of
Breitkopf,--and obtained information of other novelties from the
literary world, such as, that in Göttingen a new scientific society had
been founded; that Herr Klopstock had received a pension of 400 thalers
from the King of Denmark, without any duties attached to it; and that
Herr von Voltaire had been appointed chamberlain at Berlin. About this
period many other desirable purchases made their way through the
country in the bales of books.

There were many opportunities also of acquiring old as well as new
books. An interest had already been excited in the old editions of the
classics. Besides those of Aldus, those of Elzivir were sought after
with especial curiosity. But the second-hand book trade was as yet
inconsiderable, except in Halle and Leipzig; it was not easy, unless by
accident or at some auction, for individuals to acquire books which, in
the last century, had been collected by the patricians of the Imperial
cities whose families had gradually died out, or perhaps from monastic
libraries, the books of which had been sold in an underhand way by
unscrupulous monks. An ecclesiastic in the neighbourhood of Gräfenthal
in Franconia sold, for twenty-five gulden, which were to be paid by
instalments, many ells of folios and quartos beautifully bound; the
ells of the larger-sized books were somewhat dearer than those of the
smaller ones; many works were of course incomplete, because, the
measurement being precise, the ell was shorter than the number of
volumes. There was no choice allowed. It was generally the backs that
were measured. This barbarism, however, was an exception.

Those authors who wrote books, if in high repute, obtained from the
booksellers an amount of compensation far from insignificant. Their
position, in this respect, had much improved since the beginning of the
century. As the predilection for theological and legal treatises still
continued, they were sometimes more highly paid than they would be now.
He, nevertheless, who did not stand, as university teacher, on the
vantage-ground of science, gained but a small income. When the Right
Rev. Herr Lesser, in 1737, made an agreement with his publisher for the
publication of "the Chronicle of Nordhausen," he was "satisfied" to
take as payment for each sheet of that conscientious work, the sum of
sixteen _gute groschen_, which he was to receive in the shape of books,
but at the same time to promise that, in case the contents of his work
should involve the publisher in any troubles with the authorities, he
would indemnify him.

In the latter part of the morning the apothecary's shop became a
pleasant rendezvous for the city gentry. There, politics and city news
were discussed along with small glasses of _eau de vie_; and from the
ceiling and upper cornice, the old frippery attire of exploded quacks
and worm doctors, also skeletons of sharks, stuffed apes, and other
horrors, looked down goggle-eyed upon the eager disputes of the
society. Besides the city gossip, politics had already become a
favourite subject of discourse, which was carried on no longer with the
calm of mere wise maxims, but with heartfelt interest. Whether King or
Empress, whether Saxony or Prussia, were principally discussed, it
could be discovered to which party each individual present belonged. A
few years later, these kind of disputes became so vehement that they
destroyed family life and the peace of households. Meanwhile the
imaginations of the lesser citizens, the servants and children, were
filled with other ideas, for the old superstition wove its web round
their life. There was scarcely an old house that had not its haunted
room; ghosts showed themselves on the graves and within the church
doors; even the engine-house was haunted before a fire broke out; still
was the mysterious wail of lament heard, a variation of the belief in
the wild army which had entered into the souls of the people through
the great war; still were old cats considered as witches; and
apparitions, presentiments, and significant dreams were discussed with
anxious faith. Ever yet was the search after concealed treasures an
affair of importance; no city was without a credible story of a
treasure trove which had taken place in the neighbourhood, or had been
frustrated by untimely words. But the prudent father of a family
already tries earnestly to enlighten his children and servants on such
points. The enlightened man does not deny unqualifiedly the possibility
of a mysterious connexion with the other world, but he regards every
single case with distrust; he admits that behind the ruined altar of
the old church and in the ruins of the neighbouring castle something
curious may be concealed, and that it might well repay a person to dig
for it; but he holds in sovereign contempt the flames and the black
dog, and he recounts with special pleasure numerous instances where
this faith of the "olden time" had been misused by deceivers. Seldom do
the months pass without bringing a periodical containing well-written
treatises, in which the mountain sprite is entirely put out of the
question, fiery meteors are explained, and thunderbolts are considered
as petrifactions. In no city are excited people wanting who are
tormented by apparitions; the clergy still continue to pray for these
poor people; but not only physicians and literary laymen, but also
clever citizens, maintain that such kinds of devils are expelled by
medicine and fasting, and not by prayer, as they are only produced by
the morbid fancies of hypochondria.

Among the daily events is the interesting arrival and departure of the
mail-coach. About this time all the promenaders like to move into the
vicinity of the post-office. The usual land-post is a very slow, clumsy
means of conveyance; its snail pace was notorious even fifty years
later. Of made roads there are as yet none in Germany; soon after the
Seven Years' War the first _chaussees_ were formed,--still very bad.
Whoever wishes to travel comfortably takes the extra post; for greater
economy, care is taken that all the places shall be occupied, and in
the local papers which have existed for some little time in most of the
larger cities, a travelling companion is sometimes advertised for. For
long journeys, private carriages are bought, which are sold again at
the end of the journey. The badness of the roads gives the postmaster
the right to put four horses to a light carriage, and it is a privilege
to the traveller if the Government will give him a licence to take only
two horses extra post. He who is not sufficiently wealthy for this,
looks out for a return carriage, and these opportunities are announced
several days beforehand. If there is much intercourse between two
places, besides the ordinary post and the more speedy mail, a licensed
stagecoach goes on specified days. These more especially facilitate the
personal intercourse of the lower orders. In 1750 there was one from
Dresden to Berlin every fortnight; to Altenburg, Chemnitz, Freiberg,
and Zwickau, once a week; to Bautzen and Görlitz, the number of
passengers was not sufficiently certain for the coachman to be able to
go on a specified day; the green and the red passage-boats went between
Dresden and Meissen, each once a week. Even with the best drivers,
travelling was very slow. Five German miles a day, at the rate of a
mile in two hours, seems to have been the usual rate of travelling. A
distance of twenty miles could not be accomplished by a carriage under
three days, and generally four were necessary. When, in the July of the
year which is here described, Klopstock travelled with Gleim, in a
light carriage drawn by four horses, from Halberstadt to Magdeburg, six
miles in six hours, the rapidity appeared to him so extraordinary that
he compared it with the races at the Olympic games. But when the
country roads were very bad, which was always the case in the rainy
season of the spring and autumn, a journey was avoided unless it was
inevitable, as it was considered as a risk not to be encountered
without grievous adventures. In the year 1764, it was still thought
remarkable by the Hanoverians, that their ambassador had succeeded in
reaching Frankfort-a-M., for the coronation of the Emperor, in spite of
the bad roads, without any other damage than a broken axle. Thus we
find that a journey at this period is an undertaking to be well
considered, which can hardly be carried through without long
preparation; the arrival of travelling strangers in a city is the event
of the day, and the curious multitude collect round the carriage during
its detention. It is only in the larger commercial towns that the
hotels are fashionably arranged; Leipzig is in great repute in this
respect. People were glad to be accommodated at the house of an
acquaintance, ever taking into consideration the expenditure; for he
who travels must make accurate calculations. A person of any
pretensions avoids a journey on foot, on account of the bad roads,
dirty inns, and rough encounters. Well-dressed pedestrians in search of
the picturesque are, as yet, unheard of.

The traveller was not only accompanied by the lively sympathy of his
friends, he was also employed in their business, as then among
acquaintances there was more mutual accommodation than now. He was
amply supplied with clothes, letters of recommendation, cold meat, and
prudent precepts; but he was also burdened with commissions, purchases
of every kind, and delicate business; also with the collecting of
debts, the engaging of tutors, nay, even with reconnoitring and
mediating in affairs of the heart. If he travelled to some great fair,
he must take care of certain special coffers and chests to satisfy the
wishes of his acquaintances. This kind of reciprocal service was
absolutely needful, for the conveyance of money and packages by the
post was still very dear and not always very sure. Betwixt neighbouring
cities therefore a regular messenger service was established, as for
example in Thuringia, where it continues to the present day. These
messengers--frequently women--carried letters and errands on fixed
days, alike through snow and under a scorching sun; they had charge of
all kinds of purchases, and, as trustworthy persons, enjoyed the
confidence of the magistrates, who entrusted them with official letters
and public papers, and when they arrived at their destination had an
appointed place, where letters and return parcels for their native home
were delivered to them. If the intercourse between two places was very
active, a goods conveyance, with compartments with drawers in it, of
which sometimes two associated families had the key, was sent backwards
and forwards.

Scanty and spare was the housekeeping of the citizens; few of them were
sufficiently wealthy to be able to invest their household arrangements
and their life with any polish; and the rich were always in danger of
falling into unseemly luxury, such as corrupted the courts and the
families of the nobility. Those who had a comfortable competency lived
very simply, only showing their wealth by their hospitality and the
adornment of their house and table on festive occasions. Therefore
feasts were ungenial state affairs, for which the whole household was
deranged. Nothing distinguishes the man of the world more than the easy
style of his society. Strict were the regulations in the citizen's
household: everything was precisely defined, even on the smallest
points, as to what one was to render to or receive from another. The
interchange of good wishes and compliments, that is to say, the
courtesies of conversation, and even the _trinkgeld_, all had their
accurately prescribed form and amount. Through these innumerable little
regulations, social intercourse acquired a stiff formality which
strongly contrasts with the freedom from constraint of the present day.
It was still customary to be bled and take medicine on appointed days,
to pay your bills and make visits at stated intervals. Equally fixed
were the enjoyments of the year: the cake which was suitable to every
day, the roast goose, and, if possible, the sledge-drives. Fixed was
the arrangement of the house: the massive furniture which had been
bought by the bridal couple on their first settling down, the stuffed
chair which had perhaps been bought at an auction by the husband as a
student, the folding-table for writing, and the cupboards, had been the
companions of many generations. But underneath this network of old
customs freer views began to germinate: already did the troublesome
question arise--wherefore? even with respect to the most trifling
usages. Everywhere might individuals be found who set themselves with
philosophic independence against these customs, which appeared to them
not to be founded on reason; in many more did there work a deep impulse
to freedom, self-dependence, and a new purport of life, which they held
apart from the multitude and from society, which had the effect of
giving them an appearance of originality. The interiors of the houses
were still undecorated; the ground-floor, with its polished boards, had
no other ornament than the bright colour of the wood, which was
preserved by incessant washing, which made the dwelling at least once a
week damp and uncomfortable. The stairs and entrance-hall were still
frequently strewn with white sand. But they liked to have their rooms
nicely fitted up; the furniture, among which the commode was a new
invention, was carefully worked and beautifully inlaid. Painting was
still uncommon on the walls; but the distempered plaster walls were in
little esteem: papers were preferred. The wealthy liked to have the
stamped leather, which gave the room a particularly comfortable aspect;
leather was also much liked as covers for furniture. Copper and tin
utensils were still the pride of the housewife. They were used on
"state" occasions: this new and significant word had penetrated into
the kitchen. At Nuremberg, for example, there were in wealthy families
state kitchens, which used to be opened to small societies for morning
collations, at which cold meats were served. In such kitchens pewter
and copper glittered all around like bright mirrors; even the wood for
burning, which lay there piled up in great heaps, was covered with
bright tin, all only for show and amusement, as now the kitchen of a
little girl. But porcelain had already begun to be placed alongside the
pewter; in refined Saxony, more especially, the wealthy housewife
seldom failed to have a table set out with china cups, jugs, and little
ornamental figures. And the fashionable pet of the ladies, the pug,
might by a wayward movement produce a crash which endangered the peace
of the house. Just at that time this curious animal stood at the height
of his repute; it had come into the world no one knew from whence, and
it passed away from it again equally unperceived. But the heart of the
housewife was attached to her weaving as well as her pewter and
porcelain. The linen damask was very beautifully prepared, with
artistic patterns which we still admire; to possess such damask
table-covers was a most particular pleasure, and great value was also
set upon fine body-linen; the ruffled shirt which Gellert received as a
present from Lucius was not forgotten in the description of his

The dress worn in public was still regarded by serious men as a matter
of station; the Pietists had accustomed the citizen to wear dark or
sober colours; but fine textures, buttons, unpretending embroidery and
linen, demonstrated not less than perukes and swords the high-bred
man. This was the dress to be worn in public, and must especially be
put on when going out; and as it was inconvenient and--at least the
perukes--difficult to put on and to powder without the help of others,
a contrast wan produced by this between home and society which
proscribed social intercourse at certain hours in the day, and made it
formal and elaborate. At home a dressing-gown was worn, in which
literary men received visits, and the "best" dress was carefully
spared. Many things which appear to us as common necessaries were still
quite unknown, and the absence of many comforts was not felt. In the
year 1745 an Austrian non-commissioned officer begged of an imprisoned
officer, from whom he had taken a watch, to wind it up for him; he had
never had one in his hands. The worthy Semler had become a professor
before he obtained by the aid of a bookseller his first silver watch;
and he complained, about 1780, that then every master of arts, nay,
every student thought he must have a watch; now, in every family of
similar station, the third-form boy has a silver, and the student a
gold watch.

Besides the landed nobility, only the highest state officials and the
richest merchants kept their own carriage and horses, and this  more
rarely than fifty years before. But literary men were then often
advised by physicians not to fear the dangers of riding; schools were
established, and riding-horses let out for hire. It did not indeed
happen to every one as to the invalid Gellert, to have as a present for
the second time, after the death of his renowned Dapple, a horse from
the Elector's stables, with velvet saddle and housings embroidered in
gold, which the dear professor, much moved after his manner, accepted,
though with the greatest distrust as to the good temper of the horse,
and was never weary of speaking of it to his acquaintance, whilst his
groom showed the prodigy for money to the Leipzigers. As the dress of
that day made people very sensitive to damp, sedan-chairs came into
fashion; they were as frequently used as now the droschky; the bearers
were known by a kind of livery, had their appointed stations, and were
to be found wherever the nobility and the public appeared in numbers:
at great dances, on Sunday at the church doors, and at the theatres.

Strict was the discipline of the house. In the morning, even in those
families that were not Pietists, short prayers were read with the
children and servants, a verse was sung, a prayer or exhortation
followed, and then a hymn. They rose and retired to bed early. The
intercourse at home was formal: extreme respect, with ceremonious
forms, was required of both children and servants; and husbands and
wives among the gentry still continued generally to speak to each other
in the third person plural.

All who appertained to the family, whether friends or distant
acquaintance, in their simple and often needy life, were invested with
great importance. Still were advancement, interest, and favours sought
for and expected, through the friends of the family. To protect and
become a partisan was a duty; therefore it was considered great good
fortune to have noble and influential acquaintances; and in order to
secure this it was necessary to be mindful of congratulations on
birthdays and verses at family festivals. Under such protection people
sought their fortunes in the world. Devotion to the great was immense:
it was still correct to kiss the hand of a patron. When Count Schwerin,
on the 11th of August, 1741, received the oath of allegiance for his
sovereign in the royal _salon_ at Breslau, the Protestant church
inspector, Burg, on shaking hands with him, wished to kiss his hand.
The Breslauers were not astonished at this obsequiousness, but only
that a field-marshal should have embraced and kissed a citizen

Sponsorship was, among the citizens, the foundation of a still nearer
relation: the godfather was bound to provide for the advancement of his
godchild; and this parental relation lasted to the end of his life. If
he was wealthy, the parents gladly allowed him a decisive voice as to
the future of their child, but it was also expected that he should show
his goodwill by his last testament.

This life of citizens in humble circumstances developed certain
peculiarities of character and education. First a softness of nature
which, about 1750, was called tender and sentimental. The foundation of
this remarkable softness was implanted in the soul by the great war and
its political results, and Pietism had strikingly developed it. Almost
every one had the habit of exciting and stirring up themselves and
others. In the last century, family prayer had been heartless and
formal; now, the edifying contemplations and moral reflections of the
father of a family gave occasion for dramatic scenes within it.
Extemporary prayers especially, accustomed the members of a family to
express openly what was really in their hearts. Vows and promises,
solemn exhortations and pathetic reconciliations betwixt husbands and
wives, parents and children, sentimental scenes, were as much sought
after and enjoyed as they are now avoided. Even in schools the easy
excitability of that generation frequently came to light. When a worthy
teacher was in trouble, he caused the scholars to sing verses which
harmonised with his frame of mind, and it was agreeable to him to feel
that the boys understood him and showed their sympathy in their
devotions. In the same way the preacher in the pulpit loved to make his
congregation the confidants of his own struggles and convictions; his
sorrows and joys, repentance and inward peace, were listened to with
respect and consecrated by prayer.

The generation of 1750 had more especially a craving for excitement and
exaltation of feeling. A feeling, an action, or a man was easily
reckoned great; grand epithets were heaped upon friends; and, again,
your own sorrows and the misfortunes of others were enjoyed with a
certain gloomy satisfaction. Tears flowed readily both over your own
sufferings and those of others; and also from joy, gratitude, devotion,
or admiration; but it was not through foreign literature, not by
Gellert, nor by the literary worshippers of Klopstock, that this
sentimentality was implanted: it lay deep in the national character.
When, in 1749, the young Doctor Semler took leave of the University of
Halle, he was very sorrowful, for he had secretly adored the daughter
of his dear teacher, Professor Baumgarten, notwithstanding he had at
his home, Saalfeld, another love of his youthful days; this sorrow
affected him so powerfully, that with difficulty he took his Doctors
degree. He, however, succeeded, and after having done so, he delivered,
before his model Baumgarten--who was in the chair as president--an
extempore Latin gratulatory oration, so impassioned, that not only he
himself, but also most of his hearers, wept. Again, at home he sat down
and wept over his fate, and his truehearted comrade wept with him
almost the whole afternoon. That he should shed tears at his departure
was natural, but he still wept when in the course of his long journey
he arrived at Merseburg; and when, on reaching home, he gave the
laudatory letter of Baumgarten to his father, the latter wept also for

In this case the emotion was justifiable, and tears flowed from
the heart; but it could not fail to happen that the habit of
self-consciousness, and of watching each inward emotion, degenerated
into acting a part, and admiration of noble affections, into

This soon showed itself in the German language. The higher emotions
still found no adequate expression. The language of books still
dominated, and all the nobler feelings of men had to adapt themselves
to its forms and periods. Just at that time however this language had
gained a certain degree of aptitude in expressing clearly and simply
the calm, methodic work of the reflecting mind; but when passionate
feelings sought expression in words, they were still restrained within
the threadbare forms of the ancient rhetoric, and nestled in the dry
leaves of old phrases. The Pietists had to invent a phraseology of
their own for their peculiar feelings, and these expressions soon
degenerated into mannerism. It was the same case with those new turns
of expression by which highly-gifted individuals sought to enrich the
language of the heart. If a poet spoke of feeling the soft tremor of a
friendly kiss, hundreds imitated him, delighted with the high-flown
expression. Thus, also, tears of sorrow and of gratitude, and the
sweets of friendship, became stereotyped phrases, which at last had
little meaning in them.

And this poverty of language became general. Almost everywhere, when we
expect the simple expression of an inward feeling, we find a display of
reflections which is as repulsive in letters and speeches, as in poems.
This speciality of the old time becomes insupportable to us, and we
readily accuse it of hypocrisy, callousness, and hollowness. But our
ancestors have a sufficient excuse. They could not do otherwise. Still
did there remain in their souls somewhat of the epic constraint of the
middle ages, the yearning for an outpouring of greater passion, for
enthusiasm, and for the melody of feeling: it becomes almost morbid;
everywhere there is an aspiration after a higher self-development;
everywhere a seeking and a longing; but still do their feelings lack
power, and their increased knowledge the corresponding free culture of
the character; and so do the poets, who have always been the leaders of
the people. Even in the amiable character that figures in the dawn of a
higher life, in Ewald von Kleist, the lyrical strivings are very
remarkable. Already are his descriptions rich in beautiful details, and
an abundance of poetical conceptions group themselves spontaneously
around the leading idea of his poem, which almost always rests on an
honourable and deep-seated feeling; but, amid all his poetical imagery,
he could not give utterance to an elevated poetical frame of mind, and
still less cause the full harmony of a beautiful feeling to echo in the
listener's heart. For his tones were not yet powerful enough, nor were
those of his older contemporaries who, so painfully sought after all
that was beautiful and noble in the soul, and so often boasted to have
found it.

But the self-contemplation of the educated did not extend to the inward
life alone: they were equally watchful of their outward appearance, and
of the impression which they made on others. In this respect they
appear to us ridiculously refined. The tight dress and powder, the fact
of being unusually smart, put men in a state of agitation and formal
cheerfulness which easily became affectation. The stereotyped forms of
social intercourse, and the rhetorical compliments, were so artificial,
that society became like a play, and the Germans of 1750 actors who
made themselves laughable if they did not act cleverly. When any one
approached a patron, he had to take care that his pace was not too
quick, nor too bold, nor too shy--that his voice was properly subdued,
and that he held his hat in his left arm, so that it formed a proper
angle; he had to prepare himself beforehand, that his address of
salutation might not be too long and too commonplace, and just
respectful enough to awaken goodwill; he had to pay much attention to
the intonation of his voice, so that what had been well considered
before might have the effect of being natural. If any one wished to
kiss the hand of a lady or gentleman of distinction, he took pains even
in this act to express a feeling suitable to the occasion; whether, as
a sign of confidential respect, he pressed it against his eyes and
brow, as well as to his mouth, how long he kept the hand, and how
slowly he released it, all this was very important, and, if possible,
well considered beforehand; any mistake committed, occasioned
afterwards probably great trouble to the guilty party. He who had to
exhibit himself before a larger assembly, took into serious
consideration the position and demeanour by which he could produce an
effect. However troubled was the young Semler when he stood before the
professor's chair for his doctor's degree, yet he did not forget "to
take a peculiar but not offensive attitude," in which he answered his
opponents so rapidly, that he scarce waited for the end of their
speech; nor did he forget to tell, how indifferent the "tender emotions
of his heart" had made him to every possible objection of his
antagonist. The women had also to study well, not only the motions of
their fans, but their smiles and the casting-down of their eyes; it was
required that they should do it unaffectedly, with grace and tact.

Undoubtedly this pressure of convenance was frequently, with the
Germans, broken through by characteristic rectitude and firmness. But
the stedfast enduring power of will, which we honour as man's highest
quality, was then very rare in Germany. It was to be gained by
experience and necessity, by the labour and practice of arduous duty;
then it broke forth with surprising energy. But this quality was
deficient in some manly characteristics. The pressure of a despotic
state had continued for a century; it had made the citizen shy, dull,
and fainthearted. This frame of mind had been promoted by Pietism. A
continual contemplation of their own unworthiness diminished in more
finely organized minds the capacity of enjoying themselves heartily, or
of giving frank expression to their own nature. The severe training and
immoderate exertions of memory of literary men, and their many night
watches in close rooms amid the fumes of tobacco, only too often
implanted disease. We may gather from many examples how frequently
consumption and hypochondria destroyed the life of young scholars. And
we find generally among the citizen families of that time, sentimental,
irritable, sensitive natures, helpless and feckless in respect of all
that was unusual to them. But that was not the worst. Not only the
will, but the certainty of their convictions and the feeling of duty
were easily extinguished by external influences. Of that quiet
self-respect which we look for in a good and highly educated man,
little is as yet to be seen. Money and outward honour still exercise
too great a power even over the most upright Gellert, who was a pattern
to his contemporaries of tender feeling and unselfishness, when a
professor at Leipzig, was joyfully surprised that a foreign nobleman
from Silesia, whom he did not personally know, but with whom he had
once exchanged a few letters, offered his mother a yearly pension of
twelve ducats. In his answer the assurance of tears of gratitude did
not fail. He never felt a scruple in accepting sums of money from
persons unknown to him. And one may venture to maintain that in 1750,
throughout the whole of Germany, there was scarcely a man, even among
the best, who would have refused an anonymous present.

When Frederick William the First called upon the professors of his
University at Frankfort, to engage in a public disputation with his
reader, Morgenstein, who stood on the lecturer's platform in a
grotesque attire, with a fox's brush by his side, no one dared to
gainsay the tyrannical whim, except Johann Jacob Moser, who considered
himself in the relation of a stranger to the Brandenburgers, and
preserved the proud consciousness of being in high consideration in the
Imperial Court. And even he was so excited by the occurrence, that
he fell dangerously ill. Where there exists such a deficiency of
self-respect in men engaged in the struggle of life, their vanity grows
exuberantly. It so clouded the minds of most men of that period, that
but few leave an agreeable impression behind them; and it was no wonder
that only the strongest were free from it. Men were sentimental and
sensitive; it was a matter of decorum to pay compliments; respect for
truth was less than now, and the necessity for politeness greater. He
who exercised an influence on others by his intellectual labours, or by
his own powers had won consideration in his sphere, was accustomed to
receive much praise and honour, and missed it if withdrawn. He who had
no rank or title, had acquired no office in the State, and did not
enjoy the privileges of a superior position, was recklessly crushed and
oppressed. Not merit, but the approbation of influential persons was of
value; not learning alone availed with publishers and readers: a
position at the University, and a great circle of auditors who bought
and spread the works of the teacher, were necessary. Insecure was every
earthly position; everywhere strong and arbitrary power prevailed. Even
the greatest reputations trusted far more to the support of personal
admirers, than to the sound dignity of merit. Thus every individual
expression of praise and blame obtained an importance which we can now
hardly comprehend. Every one was therefore careful to oblige others, in
order to be approved of by strangers. German life was still deficient
in an enlightened daily press, and many individuals were entirely
without the discipline and restraint which is produced by a powerful
public opinion.

Nothing is so difficult as to form a correct judgment of the morality
in families of a far-distant period. For it is not sufficient to
estimate the sum of striking errors, which in itself is very difficult;
it is equally necessary to understand the individual injustice in
particular cases which is often impossible. Among the citizens, the
intercourse of both sexes was almost entirely confined to the family
circles: larger societies were rare. In the houses of intimates, the
habits of the young people were lively and unrestrained; the friends of
the sisters and the comrades of the brothers became part of the family.
The custom still continued of making confidences in jest which would
now be considered objectionable. Embracing and kissing were not
restricted to games of forfeits. Such a custom, however harmlessly and
innocently carried on by the young people, was calculated to give rise
to feelings of levity which we should view with regret, and it
frequently gave birth to a certain bold freedom in the intercourse
between the young men and maidens. Tender liaisons were quickly formed
in families between the unmarried members; no one thought them wrong,
and they were as speedily dissolved. These transient liaisons, full of
sentiment, seldom increased to a deeper passion, nay, in general, the
poetry of youth was extinguished by them. They seldom led, either, to
betrothal or marriage; for marriage at that period, about 1750, was
still as much an affair of business as of the heart. And the endless
blessing of love and faithfulness, which just then began to dawn upon
them, rested generally on other grounds than on the glow of a pure
passion, or a deep-seated communion of feeling preceding the betrothal.

The behaviour of the parties interested in the conclusion of a marriage
strikes us as remarkable. If the man had the prospect of an employment
which would enable him to keep a family, his acquaintances, men and
women, exerted themselves to devise, propose, and negotiate a marriage
for him. Match-making was then a duty which no one could easily escape.
Grave scholars, distinguished officials, rulers and princesses of the
country, assiduously transacted the like disinterested business. A
marriageable man in a respectable position had to endure much from the
admonitions, the mischievous hints, and numerous projects of his
acquaintances. When Gellert first exchanged a few letters with
Demoiselle Caroline Lucius,--whom he had never seen,--he asked her, in
the first long letter with which he had favoured her, whether she would
marry an acquaintance of his, the Precentor at St. Thomas's school.
When Herr von Ebner, chancellor of the University of Altorf, spoke for
the first time to the young Professor Semler, he made him the kind
offer of providing a rich wife for him. The young Professor Pütter, who
was at Vienna in his travels, had the offer of a wealthy merchant's
daughter as a good _partie_, from a count, who was his neighbour at
table, but entirely a stranger to him. This proposal, however, was
declined. But, equally cool as the offers, were the decisions of the
parties interested. Men and women decided upon marrying each other
often after a passing view, or after they had exchanged a few words,
never having had any affectionate intercourse. On both sides a good
recommendation was the main point. The following is an example of a
similar betrothal, which appeared to the parties interested as
especially vehement and impassioned. The assessor of the Supreme Court
of Judicature, von Summermann, became acquainted at the Schwalbach
baths, in 1754, with a Fräulein von Bachellé, an amiable lady of the
court of a disagreeable Langravine; he saw her frequently at country
parties, to which both were invited by a married acquaintance. Some
weeks later he revealed his wish to marry the Fräulein, to an
acquaintance at Wetzlar, after he had cautiously collected information
concerning the character of the young lady. The confidant,--it was
Pütter--visited the innocent court lady: "After some short common-place
conversation, I said that I had to make a proposal to her, to which I
must beg for an answer. She replied shortly, 'What kind of proposal?' I
equally shortly and frankly asked, 'Whether she could make up her mind
to marry the Herr von Summermann?' 'Ah, you joke!' was her answer. I
said, 'No, I do not, I am quite in earnest; here I have already a ring
and yet another present (a silk purse with a hundred carlines), by
which I can verify my proposal.' 'Now, if you are in earnest, and bring
the proposal from Herr von Summermann, I do not hesitate a moment.'
Thus she took the ring, but refused to accept the hundred carlines, and
empowered me to convey her assent." The further course also of this
very exciting business was extraordinary and dramatic. The happy lover
had settled that his wooer should obtain for him more certain
information. Now, it is true that a written line in this scribbling age
might have been possible, but it appears that written information was
considered too prolix, and it was undoubtedly then difficult to give it
in one line without titles and congratulations; so it was determined
that, as in "Tristan and Isolde," the result of an undertaking was
telegraphed by a black or a white seal, so here by the transmission of
a certain volume of a valuable legal work of the state chancery, it was
to be signified that the proposal was accepted; another volume of the
same work would have intimated the contrary. And the difference of the
new conscientious period from the old one of Queen Isolde consisted
only in this, that no false signal would be given.

But though in this union the heart to a certain degree asserted its
rights, it was less often the case with men of education and capacity.
Professor Achenwall, a distinguished law teacher at Göttingen, made an
offer to a daughter of Johann Jacob Moser without ever having seen her,
and she in like manner accepted; after her death he married a
Demoiselle Jäger, of Gotha, to whom he proposed after he had seen her
accidentally on a journey, passing some days in the house of an
acquaintance. Thus it was generally the position and the household
which was the object of women, as it still is in many circles of the
people. The quiet dreams of the candidates for matrimony were
frequently exactly as portrayed by the sober-minded Pütter: "The meals
at the _restaurant_ did not answer to their wishes; to eat alone was
not to their mind; fellow-boarders were not to be reckoned upon; the
household cares concerning the wash, beer, and sugar were disagreeable
occupations; and in the evening, when tired after work, to pay visits
to others when one did not know whether it was opportune, or to await
the visits of others who were themselves in the same dilemma,--all
these were circumstances of consideration, experience, and observation,
which seemed to prove that one could not be happy continually in one's
present position." Undoubtedly also the importance of this step was not
all underrated: quiet deliberation lasted long, and a secret wavering
between eligible parties was frequent. Therefore in general the matter
was left to a benevolent Providence; and an accidental meeting, or the
pressing recommendation of a certain person, was still always
considered as a sign from above.

Those who so thought, were then the spiritual leaders of the
people, the scholars and followers of Leibnitz, Thomasius, and
Wolf,--estimable, good, and perhaps very learned men; and also the
maidens and wives of the best families. It was certainly an ancient
German custom to subordinate the individual; in this most important
concern of life, to the judgment and interests of the family;
undoubtedly marriage was considered more especially the great business
of life which was to be arranged with strict adherence to duty, and not
according to the delusive ideas of the fancy. But these sober, sensible
views were beginning in 1750 to give way to the higher requirements of
the individual Already were men inclined to indulge themselves with a
richer mental life and greater independence. When Caroline Lucius
modestly but firmly declined the offered hand of the Precentor of
Thomas's Church, Gellert felt a little ashamed that he had judged his
correspondent by the ordinary criterion, and in his letters afterwards
a sincere respect may be observed.

But, however frequently the wooing was deficient in the magic of the
most beautiful of earthly passions, the marriages, as far as we can
judge, were not on that account the less happy. That one must suit
oneself in life is a very popular rule of wisdom. The man who proposed
to share a respectable position and a certain income with the object of
his choice, offered her much, according to the views of that time; she
was to show her gratitude by unceasing faithful service, and to lighten
his arduous, laborious life--nay, already had a more exalted feeling
taken root in the souls of women, which we may well call the poetry of
home. The amount of knowledge acquired by a German woman was on the
whole small. If people of rank could not spell, this may be explained
by the fluctuations in education between French and German,--by a
mongrel culture which spoilt the style even of men, not only of
Frederic II. and other rulers, but also of the highest officials, like
the Imperial ambassador who wrote to Gellert, and begged him to send
back his letter with corrections, that he might thereby learn the
secret of good writing. But even the German trained daughter of a
well-educated citizen family was generally deficient both in style and
correctness of writing. Many women, indeed, learnt French, and in
Protestant Germany Italian was more frequently studied than at present;
even the students of Halle, under the guidance of their teacher, caused
Italian treatises to be printed. In other respects education appears to
have done little for women; even instruction in music, beyond the
practice of light airs on the harpsichord, was rare.

But so much the more was the practice of house duties inculcated. To
look after the welfare and comfort of those around them, of parents and
brothers, and afterwards of husbands and children, was the task of the
grown-up daughters. That this should be the object of their life was
unceasingly impressed upon them; it was understood according to every
one's own views. And this care was no longer limited, as in the
sixteenth century, to giving orders in the kitchen, the preparation of
electuaries, and the arrangements of the linen: women were, during the
last century, brought imperceptibly into a worthier position with
respect to their husbands--they had become their friends and
confidants. Although with perhaps scanty knowledge, many of them could
boast of firm minds, clear judgment, and depth of feeling; concerning
some of these, information has accidentally remained to us. We find it,
also, in the wives of simple artisans. If the men, under the influence
of the State and of Pietism, became more timid and less independent,
the women of the same period were manifestly more elevated. We will
draw a comparison with the past. Let us remember Kate Bora, who begged
of the laborious Luther to suffer her to be near him. She sits there
for hours silent, holds his pen for him, and gazes with her large eyes
on the mysterious head, of her husband; and, anxiously gathering,
together in her own mind all her poor knowledge, suddenly breaks out
with the question, which, transposing it into the position of 1750,
would run thus: "Is the Elector of Brandenburg brother to the King of
Prussia?" and when Luther laughingly replies, "He is the same man," his
feeling, notwithstanding all his affection, is--"poor simplicity."[86]

On the other hand, in 1723, Elizabeth Gesner, sits opposite her husband
in the sitting-room of the Conrectorat at Weimar; he is working at his
"_Chrestomathie des Cicero_," and writes with one hand while he rocks
the cradle with the other. Meanwhile Elizabeth industriously mends the
clothes of her children, and playfully disputes with the little ones,
who object to the patches, till at last the mother proposes to them to
cut out the new pieces as sun, moon, and stars, and to sew them on in
this beautiful form. The bright light which then shone from the heart
of the housewife through the poorly furnished room, and the cheerful
smile that played on the countenance of the husband, may be discovered
from his account. When she died, after a long and happy union, the
grey-headed scholar said: "One of us must remain alone, and I had
rather be the forlorn one myself than that she should be so." He
followed her a few months later. Again, soon after 1750, we find Frau
Professorin Semlerin at Halle, sitting with her industrious husband,
some feminine work in her hand; both rejoice that they are together,
that he uses his study only as a receptacle for his books, and that she
considers all society as a separation from her husband. He has so
accustomed himself to work in her presence, that neither the play and
laughter, nor even the loud noise, of his children disturb him; he has
an unbounded respect for the discretion and judgment of his wife. She
rules with unlimited sway in her household; if the excitable man is
disquieted by any adverse occurrence, she knows how to smooth it down
quickly, in her gentle way. She is his true friend and his best
counsellor, even in his relations with the University; his firm
support, always full of love and patience, yet she has learnt little,
and her letters abound in errors of writing. There will be farther
notice of her.

Similar women, simple, deep-feeling, pious, clear-headed, firm and
decided, sometimes also with extraordinary vigour and cheerfulness,
were at this period so frequent that we may truly reckon them as
characteristic of the time. They are the ancestresses and mothers, to
whose worth the literary men, poets, and artists who have sprung up in
the following generations may attribute a portion of their success. It
was not able men, but good housewives,--not the poetry of passion, but
the home life of the family,--to which we owe our training during the
first half of the last century.

And if we, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who lived
when Goethe and Schiller grew up, smile at the constraint of the
feelings which appears in the wooings and betrothals of 1750; at the
want of genuine tenderness, in spite of the general yearning for tender
and pathetic feelings; and at the incapacity to give full expression in
language and demeanour to the most exquisite of passions, we must
remember, that just then the nation stood at the portals of a new time
which was to change this poverty into wealth. The reign of Pietism had
introduced a mild sentimentality into the nation; the philosophy of
mathematics had spread over language and life a calm brightness, and
the following fifty years of intense political activity and powerful
productiveness in every realm of science were to bring the nation a
richer development of the mental life. After this took place, the
German was so far fortified by the good spirit of his home, that, even
after the most horrible devastation and destruction, his soul was
strengthened, through the interests of private life, for greater tasks
and more manly labours. After Spener, Wolf, and Goethe came the
volunteers of 1813.

But here we will verify what has been said of the condition, character,
and wooing of Germans about the year 1750 by the record of a
contemporary. He who speaks has already been mentioned several times in
the preceding pages; he is one of whom science will ever preserve a
kindly remembrance. Johann Salomo Semler, Professor of Theology at
Halle, who lived from 1725 to 1791, was one of the first who broke
loose from the orthodox faith of the Protestant Church; and, following
their own investigations, ventured, with the help of the scientific
culture of the period, to form a judgment on the origin and changes of
the church dogmas. His youth was passed in struggle with Pietism, but
at the same time, under its dominion, his warm heart clung, as long as
it continued to beat, like Luther and the Pietists, to the child-like
relation to his God and Father; but, as a scholar, this same man who,
in respect to the daily occurrences of life, was so often yielding,
uncertain, and dependent on those around him, became bold, decided, and
sometimes radical. With him began the criticism of holy traditions; he
was the first who ventured to handle systematically the historical
development and changes of Christianity, and exhibited theology as an
historical process, and as a momentum in the gradual development of the
human mind, not logically, and with very deficient understanding of
ancient times, but yet according to the laws of science. He veiled from
himself the opposition between his faith and his researches in science,
by making a rigid distinction, like the Pietists, betwixt religion and
theology--betwixt the eternal cravings of human nature, which were
satisfied by the old revered forms of revealed faith, and the eternal
impulse of the mind to understand every earthly phenomenon. He has been
called the Father of Rationalism; in truth he was only an enlightened
Pietist, one of those who seem called to prepare, by the union of
opposite conceptions, a new life. He was born in Saalfeld, the son of
an ecclesiastic, a scholar at Halle of the learned Baumgarten; then for
a year the _rédacteur_ of the newspaper at Coburg, and for a year
professor of history and poetry at the Nuremberg University of Altorf.
He was called back by Baumgarten to Halle, where he, for nearly forty
years, combated the old Pietists victoriously, and died one of the most
worthy heads of the great University. The following is the account
which he himself gives of his love and wooing; it cannot be given here
without some small alteration in the language, for Semler has--what is
characteristic of him--little in his style of the broad, sure method of
his philosophical contemporaries, but much of the indistinct mode of
speech of the Pietists. He does not use figurative language nor
primitive phrases, but he loves, like them, a certain mysterious
circumlocution and remote allusions, that sometimes make the meaning
almost incomprehensible and require slow reading. Yet it is necessary
to remember one thing, that the following narrative may not disappoint
expectation: he who here narrates was in fact a man of worth and
refined feeling, who rightly enjoyed the full esteem and veneration of
those who lived with him.

Semler has gone through the separation from the family of Baumgarten,
has returned as Master of Arts from Halle to his father's house at
Saalfeld, and has there renewed his acquaintance with a young lady
friend. He relates thus:--

"My residence in Saalfeld did not last long, but was not quite
satisfactory to me. I saw, it is true, that worthy friend very often,
and we enjoyed ourselves together as much as with our virtuous gravity
we could; but there was nothing in it of the rapture or of the great
joy which our new contemporaries[87] describe as superhuman in so many
novels, or, still more, paint poetically and represent quite
sentimentally. It was truly as if we anticipated that this rare harmony
of two souls and characters was something too elevated for such a union
to fail to our lot. This improbability seemed to me to arise from her
situation; to her, from mine, from very different grounds. My prospects
were remote, as I could not attain the great happiness of becoming
'_Conrector_,' to which position even, she was prepared to lower
herself. I saw also that I must shortly incur some debts which I could
not mention to so estimable a person. Thus I found myself unavoidably
dependent, as it were, on any chance prospect. But her parents were
rather old, and her brothers and sisters entirely unprovided for: how
could she think of pledging herself to me on an uncertainty, and, by
making it known, render herself inaccessible to more fortunate
admirers? Meanwhile, with tender sadness, we promised each other
everything we could, and were convinced of our mutual integrity, but
also determined not to place each other in a difficult position.

"My father had written to an old friend at Coburg, _Kammerrath_,
Fick, and begged of him to make some friendly efforts for getting
me a situation. This he did honourably and with the best
intentions."--(Semler travelled to Coburg, obtained there the title of
professor, but without salary; became editor of the "Coburg State and
Literary Gazette," and lodged with the widow of Doctor Döbnerin, a
cheerful, lively woman, who was glad to converse with him, and put many
theological and historical questions to him. It was a quiet,
respectable household: one daughter, the Demoiselle Döbnerin, was still
at home, about whom the professor, who had much work and little income,
concerned himself little. Thus he lived for a year; then he learnt from
an acquaintance that a professor was wanted at the University of
Altorf, which he could easily obtain, but he must present himself
there. This information excited him much; he was powerfully attracted
towards the University; he had seen no possibility of it; now a
prospect was open to him, but he had no money for the journey--nay, he
was in debt to his landlady for rent and board; he long pined away in

"The doctor's widow, my landlady, remarked that for some days I had not
conversed with the cheerfulness that had before pleased her so well,
because it gave her the opportunity of introducing her usual complaints
and old tales; I was no longer of use to her in this, and, still worse,
was always withdrawing from them. So she asked me what was the reason?
I was so surprised, that I confessed I had a proposal to be professor
at Altorf; it required a quick decision, and I must take it into
serious consideration. This information, that I might soon leave,
appeared to excite both mother and daughter, and I now began to be
sharper in my observations than I had been formerly. Hitherto I had
thought nothing about the daughter, who took care of everything in the
house, and seldom remained after we had finished our meals, and only
treated her according to the laws of civility; and I did not consider
it a part of this civility, either to kiss her hand, or to indulge in
small talk. The mother, with all her gay vivacity, had kept her
daughter very strictly, as she was not quite pleased with the free mode
of life which already began to prevail among her sex at Coburg. She
maintained the old principles, in which she had herself been brought up
in Saalfeld; she had few visitors at her house, as indeed she had not
much time for it, so orderly was the manner in which the household was
managed. It is true it was called avarice and parsimony, but for a city
such housekeeping is very necessary; and those who so willingly spend
their money, that they must borrow, should at least not judge ill of
the indispensable benefactors from whom they borrow. I knew the daily
tranquil enjoyment that pervaded this home, and I found therein
assuredly far more happiness than in many others where there were
splendour and bustle.

"Now I called to mind that some persons in Coburg had already warned me
against this acquaintance, which I nevertheless found so uniformly
blameless. I watched more narrowly, and it appeared to me as if I was
regarded favourably; only when I came to draw my conclusions, whether I
should endeavour to help myself by means of this quiet and virtuous
daughter, my heart fell within me. What reason had I to entertain any
hopes, as I had for nearly a whole year been guilty of marked
inattention? She had already refused a professor, and I knew other
proofs of her acting with independent and not over hasty deliberation,
where many others, from an inclination to vanity, would have decided
hastily. It was the less probable that she would accept me, as I had no
outward advantages to offer. I nevertheless showed greater attention,
both to mother and daughter, than I had done hitherto, but still
undecided in my mind.

"At this time I wrote to my sister at Saalfeld; the contents of this
letter were sad enough; it was to this effect, that on account of some
small debts, merely caused by the difficulty of raising money, I should
be obliged to renounce altogether the dear friend of that place, who
nevertheless, I honoured profoundly. I was not in a position to follow
the bent of my affections.

"If I was to attempt to borrow money in Saalfeld, my father would
certainly prevent it, as I had clearly remarked, that he had always
endeavoured to dissuade me from my plans, and admonished me not to run
counter to Providence by over haste. I passed many sorrowful hours
before I received an answer from Saalfeld, and still more when I did
receive it, and found that this separation was finally settled. Very
serious reflections upon many similar cases tranquillised me by
degrees, although my high esteem for that worthy young person was

"But so much the more I felt my very insignificant position; and, thus
truly humiliated, I reproached myself continually. I asked myself
whether I was to call upon this dutiful and virtuous daughter to give
so much money for me, of which she certainly had as little thought as
her mother; for it was undoubtedly not with this view that she had
shown me so many courtesies. She had long considered me as having a
decided inclination for some one; she often reminded me in a friendly
way about Halle, and how I had often praised openly and with such great
feeling the incomparable Dr. Baumgarten; and just because I had shown
so much diffidence and lively feeling with regard to Halle, she had
thought favourably of me, and had assumed that I had a settled
engagement there. How was I now all at once to convince her that it was
otherwise, without giving an open field for divers detrimental thoughts
and observations on myself? I alone know how entirely depressed was my
spirit at this time; how I spent my days and nights restless and
dejected, till at last I learnt to bow myself to the universal law of
God's government.

"I more than once perplexed myself again with strong doubts whether I
was important enough for Divine Providence to occupy Himself with me,
and whether all my anxieties were not the consequences of my faults and
my inconsiderate conduct; in short, I could no longer continue in this
depressing condition, as I had no time to lose in complaints. I must
announce myself at Nuremberg so many days before Petri Pauli. Now I
wrote two letters, one to the mother, and inclosed in it another to the
daughter, wherein I revealed my views, but at the same time distinctly
showed my present position, and appealed to their own knowledge and
judgment of my principles, and confided myself to them. It was
impossible for me by word of mouth to express so carefully and clearly
all the necessary details.

"This letter I took with me when I went to supper, and placed it in the
mother's prayer-book, which always lay by her place, so that the letter
must, without fail, come into her hands this same evening. I did not
otherwise allow anything to be perceived, but went away somewhat
earlier than I had hitherto done, that there might be more time left
for the discovery, and for their deliberation.

"In the letter I begged of the mother, if she found what I proposed was
decidedly objectionable, that she would not lay the letters before her
daughter, but would send them both back to me, and then would kindly
ascribe my too great confidence to her indulgence. In proportion as my
life had been hitherto solitary, the deeper was the impression made in
my soul by my anxious and uncertain wishes; my spirit now began to
raise itself more earnestly to God in a deep and entire submission,
that I might more and more be weaned from the trivial occurrences of
life and their results, by looking to eternity. I found an increase of
tranquillity, and a contented submission to all the dispensations of
Providence, which I had long so vainly endeavoured to create in myself.

"Three days passed, during which we met as inmates of the same house,
as though nothing had passed between us which required an answer, and I
was persuaded that it was a kind way of sparing my feelings, that my
proposal was to be buried in silence, as they wished to relieve me from
an unpleasant explanation. As usual, I was always too desponding. The
following Sunday--it was the 10th of June, 1751--as I was leaving the
table after dinner, the _Frau Doctorin_ asked me to drink a cup of
coffee with her that afternoon. Still she kept her countenance so
completely, that I could not promise myself much advantage from this
invitation. The next two hours I spent promenading in the open air, in
a very composed state of mind, recalling many vanished ideas and
wishes, and in much sorrow at the prospect of my shortly impending
journey, which must now take me far from Saalfeld and Halle.[88] Thus I
did not return very soon, and went straight to her room. I immediately
discovered such an expression of natural, earnest, and approving
friendship in the countenance of the mother, who came forward to meet
me, that I could no longer doubt the success of my proposal, and my
feelings also became equally visible when I began to speak. The
feelings of all three were similar and showed themselves perceptibly in
our eyes, a kind of joyful solemnity ensued, and we all three returned
thanks to God. The mother laid before me the two letters, and asked,
'Do you confess that you have written these?' 'Oh, yes,' I said, and
kissed her hand. She kissed me warmly, and assured me of her most
hearty approbation.

"The daughter very soon after lost her heretofore shyness, and raised
her eyes pleasantly, because she knew it did not displease her mother,
and she had now a right to make herself pleasant. We had neither of us
had any romantic training, otherwise she would not have waited for this
till I had spoken and had obtained the mothers consent. Thus this
affair, which was so difficult and so important for me, took a smooth
course, without the intervention of any other person, or the employment
of those arts or intrigues with which brides are entrapped by many.

"It is not necessary for me to tell the holy and humble thankfulness of
my soul to God, nor how much I endeavoured to preserve my inward peace
and tranquillity, in spite of the gossip that followed upon this my

"I immediately investigated the character of my bride; she had an
agreeable aspect, although the smallpox, which she had passed through
after she was grown up, had materially injured her complexion. Her
education had been carried on partly under the eyes of a grandmother
and an excellent aunt, partly by the mother, who kept a tutor for her
and her brother. After the death of the father, the mother and daughter
had lived in great retirement. But she had only the more cultivated all
those qualifications which are most advantageous to her sex; her
judgment was so good, that her mother generally preferred it to her own
in household arrangements. The style of her letters was good, the
handwriting pretty and even, and there were very few faults of
orthography. In this she excelled all her many relations. Accounts she
understood far better than her mother, and had, when scarcely fifteen
years of age, during a long absence of her mother, so accurately
reckoned up the details of an income of 1800 gulden, that there was
nothing missing. She had for some years kept her own accounts in
respect of a property which she had inherited from an uncle at
Coburg, amounting to a thousand gulden or more. She had learned to
dance, and held herself well, but was not particularly fond of it; her
head-dresses she made herself, and many of her clothes, and always in
good taste. This pleasure in the work of her own hands was considered
by others of her own age, who had no such pleasure in it, as the result
of great parsimony, which it certainly was not, as I shall presently

"We now associated more freely, and during the few remaining days of my
stay, often walked together, especially in the great garden on the
Lossau. There we sat, sometimes under the trees overlooking the city.
She was so frank with me, that she said to me of her own accord, 'Now
you must exert yourself, and take some control over me, to wean me from
the faults which long solitude has engendered in me. I may, by my
devotion perhaps, and by my pure good heart, recommend myself to you;
but, as we must mix with many people and become a portion of the
so-called great world, you must help me, that I may not then appear to
disadvantage, till I can myself judge rightly with respect to
externals. For you are superior to me in understanding and in the
refinements of language and social intercourse.' This honesty brought
tears into my eyes. She wept with me, asking whether I now repented,
and whether I had not long known these defects of hers?

"In answer to this, I said, 'I have more cause to be uneasy than you,
lest you should repent of having given your hand and heart to a
Professor, whom you will soon find deficient in all external means,
although very laborious. And now I will lay before you all my
anxieties, entirely without reserve. You know it is true that my father
can give me nothing; but you do not know that I cannot at present pay
you for board and lodging, and that I must incur many small debts, that
we may leave Coburg in suitable style.'

"She looked at me tenderly, and said: 'If you have really no other
cause for uneasiness, I am truly very happy to say that I can help to
place you in a better position. Think, therefore, only of making me
more worthy of you, that I may not injure you in society. I am mistress
of my own fortune, in the management of which I have hitherto sometimes
asked advice of Dr. Berger, as my guardian. He esteems you too highly,
for him to put the least obstacle in the way of my serving you when I
wish to do so.'

"Thus this worthy person has always evinced an unselfish, honourable
manner of thinking, and relieved me from all shame and uneasiness about
my position.

"Now I began to think about my journey, that I might not arrive too
late at Nuremberg.

"At Nuremberg there were still very many features of great antiquity,
which made much impression on me. Birkmann, preacher at the church of
St. Giles, had kindly offered that I should take up my quarters with
him. I was received by him very lovingly, and he gave me a room
up-stairs, in which were his books; a neighbourhood which was very
useful to me, as I was able in the evening to search out some accounts
of Nuremberg, that everything might not be so entirely strange to me.
As soon as I possibly could I presented myself before the gentlemen of
the council, in the great hall of the Council-house, at the hour when
they entered the hall from their separate rooms. The great impression
made on me by this grand building, and the unusual circumstances in
which I was placed, had a good effect upon me, so that I with modesty
and emotion spoke out freely, which, together with my pressing
recommendations, obtained me the gracious approbation of these
venerable persons. Herr von Ebner, whose own learning and noble manner
of thinking filled every one with respect, desired me afterwards to be
told that he expected me in the afternoon at his house. I sought to
recover the composure of my mind, that I might be distracted as little
as possible by so many unexpected events, and turn this visit the more
to my advantage. As this gentleman was almost blind I was deprived of
much assistance, for by an unaffected modest attitude, which I always
liked, I had elsewhere frequently procured myself a hearing, even from
those who hitherto had been prepossessed against me. After I had stood
some minutes, and had expressed my feelings of gratitude in the best
sentences I could utter, avoiding equally bombast and common-place, he
said: 'Herr Professor, your voice and speech please me so much that I
regret not being able to see you distinctly. Seat yourself near me; I
must speak to you on various things. The great man whom we have lost,
Professor Schwarz, has especially and confidentially recommended you to
me; but there is truly no want of competitors for the place which he
has vacated.' Now he came to my '_miscellaneas lectiones_' parts of
which had been read to him, and asked so many particulars that the
conversation resembled an examination. At last he said to me, with
evident pleasure, 'You are just the man; if I say it you will be
chosen. I heartily wish you happiness for yourself and Altorf.' Then he
caused Trident wine to be brought, and the servant was not to allow the
glass to stand empty. Now he was so gracious, that when I rose he said,
'If I can provide you with a rich wife, tell me so straightforwardly.'
I kissed his hand reverently, pressed it with my forehead, and said at
once, with great feeling, 'I thank you.' 'I shall be all the better
pleased,' he said, 'if you have no disquiet in your outward life.' He
desired me, when I returned again from Altorf, to ask for him;
meanwhile he took me into his garden, and wished to talk on other
matters with me, which afterwards took place. I must say that such
noble affability, and active regard, as were shown by the gentlemen of
Nuremberg to their men of learning, I have seldom met with elsewhere.

"The preacher Birkmann travelled with me to Altorf. On the way I
thought it right to give the excellent man to understand that Herr von
Ebner had wished to make a good marriage for me; but I had found it
necessary already at Coburg to discharge this duty, and free myself
from the anxiety, so that all other well-meant arrangements were
useless. Meanwhile I revolved many new thoughts in my mind.

"I arrived safely at Coburg, and brought the vocation with me. On the
26th August, 1751, the amiable Döbnerin was married to me in the

Thus far we give the account of the husband, who, in the further course
of his autobiography, takes every opportunity of expressing his love
and admiration for the wife of his choice, and composed a special
eulogy on her after death. Unfortunately no letter has been preserved
from the Frau Professorin, whose style was so much praised by the
Professor. But a love-letter will be given of the year 1750, from one
of her circle of Coburg acquaintance,[89] which one may presume gives
pretty accurately the style of the Demoiselle Döbnerin; the same
customary forms and artificial tenderness under which the warm feelings
of a human heart are only occasionally perceptible. This letter, from a
betrothed to her intended in Coburg, runs thus:--

"Chosen one of my heart! As I do not doubt that the holy Christmas
season will have brought with it to my loved child all its best and
most desired blessings, so do I hope that the good God will mercifully
hear my fervent prayers, and pour upon him in rich measure so much
health, bliss, and all pleasures, that I may continually have cause to
praise Him. I also send my congratulations on the approaching new year,
and will express my sincere heartfelt wishes in these few words: 'Most
Highest, hear my prayer! for the sake of my dearest child take the half
of my life and add it to his years, so will my temporal welfare which
germinates through his goodness soon develope the ripe fruit of bliss,
in spite of the foaming of envy and malevolence.'

"My love has given me very great pleasure by his agreeable letter, as I
have seen that he, whose frequent occupations might easily cause me to
be forgotten, has not been hindered from thinking most kindly of me,
therefore I return my beloved my most bounden thanks. He was pleased in
his dear letter to mention that the ring is ready, but it is not stated
what I am to pay for it, I therefore expect in the next a few lines
concerning this, and also touching the honourable brother-in-law.

"If my beloved desires that I should know or look after aught else, may
it please him to speak out freely: his orders shall at all times be
commands to me. To the most highly-esteemed Frau Mamma and the Frau
Schwester I send my dutiful congratulations on this new year, and
request of them further their gracious favour. My papa and mamma send
equally their compliments, and wish my beloved to enjoy in undisturbed
contentment all blessings and prosperity. We expect with great desire a
kind answer, and my papa is the more desirous to receive one, as he
himself dictated mamma's letter. I am anxious to learn what resolution
his honour has come to touching this matter. I beg leave, my heart, to
send with this a bad specimen of my workmanship for a waistcoat, humbly
requesting his honour not to regard the smallness of its value, but
rather the goodwill with which it is given, for I assure him there are
not as many stitches in it, as there are good wishes accompanying it.
In conclusion, I remain, with constant esteem,

                                   "My beloved one's

                                         "Most affectionate

                                                        "C. C. K.

"A. Monsieur, Monsieur ... at Coburg."

So cautious, formal, and florid were the love-letters of a true-hearted
frank maiden, like the dear wife of Professor Semler.

But he himself, Johann Salomo Semler,--the father of modern theology,
long the highly-honoured head of the University, who, in his scientific
views, was a bolder, rasher man than his older contemporaries,--how
should we judge him, if measured by the standard of our time? Because
he has no money for his journey, and some debts in Coburg, he
determines to marry; he informs his love in Saalfeld of his situation,
and woos the daughter of his wealthy landlady, to whom hitherto he had
appeared indifferent. The like of this in our time, speaking mildly,
would be called--pitiful. And yet when the aged Professor gave his
narrative to the public, he plainly assumed that his conduct would not
appear dishonourable in the eyes of his contemporaries. There is no
reason to doubt that the friends of his youth thought exactly the same,
perhaps somewhat less conscientiously. When he was young, what rights
had the heart of a poor scholar against a cold, tyrrannical world?
Little as yet. What was the aim and object of his life? To learn and
labour from early mom till dead of night, in order to instil his
painfully gained knowledge into other souls, to spread by writings and
teaching, all that was important and new that he searched out,
descried, or conceived. Therein lay his highest duty and honour, the
object and pride of his earthly days; to this must his private life be
adapted and accommodated. Thus it was not only the few, that felt a
burning ambition, it was a general feeling, as with Semler, in many
hundreds who starved, bowed themselves before the powerful and changed
their faith, in order to be able to live for science. There is nothing
noble in this, but it is nevertheless a seeking after something nobler;
it is the old German yearning for something to be devoted to, which is
immeasurably more estimable than devotion to self. Let manly power be
united with such a tone of mind, together with the feeling of being a
ruler upon earth, and something will arise which all following ages
will call great and good.


[Footnote 1: In this battle (A.D. 9) Armin defeated the Romans, and
freed Germany.]

[Footnote 2: J. Arends, in "East Friesland and Jever" (vol. ii. p.
190), has collected traces of ancient culture on the excavated ground.
The coast of the North Sea, from Borkum to Schleswig, stretched, in the
time of the Romans, probably farther to the north; the encroachment of
the sea had already begun at the time that Pliny wrote, and since that
it has taken more than it has given. The Dollart and the Zuyderzee
(1164) were formed by several great inundations after the Crusades, and
the Jahde in the fifteenth century.]

[Footnote 3: The smoked meats of Germany were named as an article of
traffic under Diocletian.]

[Footnote 4: Thus, for example, in the monastery of Alpirspach, in the
Black Forest, from which Ambrosius Blaurer escaped in 1622, a certain
holy Pelagius and John the Baptist had both their vassals, who rejoiced
in peculiar privileges.]

[Footnote 5: Dialogue of "New Karsthans." This is the fictitious name
assumed by Ulrich von Hutten, the author of a political squib at that

[Footnote 6: Seifried Helbling, viii., in Moriz Haupt, periodical for
German Antiquity, Vol. iv., p. 164. The Austrian knight laments the
intrusion of the peasant into his order as an abuse. He wrote,
according to Karajan, the eighth of his little books about 1298.]

[Footnote 7: The quaint way in which the old language is here mixed
with foreign dialects cannot be rendered.]

[Footnote 8: Our word _pferd_ (horse), then the Roman elegant word for
the German horse.]

[Footnote 9: Duke Ernst of Swabia, a celebrated poem of the middle

[Footnote 10: These names could hardly have been invented by
Helmbrecht, to characterise the robbers; it is probable, from what
follows, that the like wild nicknames were humorously given by the
nobles themselves, and used as party names.]

[Footnote 11: The old German wedding custom. In the thirteenth century
the Church had seldom any concern in the nuptials of country people and
courtlings. It was only in the fourteenth century it began to be
considered unrefined not to have the blessing of a priest. When our
junkers declaim against civil marriages they forget that it was the
fashion of their forefathers.]

[Footnote 12: An ancient popular superstition. It was similar with the
wooers in the "Odyssey" before their end.]

[Footnote 13: This song is to be found in Kornmann's "Frau Veneris
Berg," 1614 p. 306. Similar songs in Uhland.]

[Footnote 14: The great poet for the people, a native of Nuremberg.]

[Footnote 15: Means Hoejack, which was adopted by Ulrich von Hutten as
a characteristic title of a political squib in defence of the

[Footnote 16: Quaint title of a series of pamphlets denouncing abuses
in Church and State, published about 1521.--_Trans_.]

[Footnote 17: A colloquy between a fox and wolf, in the "Staigerwaldt,"
1524, p. 6. Under the similitude of a wolf and fox two fugitive junkers
of the Sickingen party discourse together. The plundering of the nobles
having been strongly spoken of, the wolf says: "By this voracity, we
have made enemies of many citizens and peasants, who have lately bound
themselves to take away all our lives, if they can catch us." Fox: "Who
are these citizens and peasants?" Wolf: "Those who live in Upper
Swabia, Augsburg, Ulm, Kempten, Bibrach, Memmingen, and by the Neckar,
and the Nurembergers and Bavarians on the frontier."]

[Footnote 18: Full details of the sufferings of the country people
during the war will be found in the second volume of "The Pictures of
German life."]

[Footnote 19: "Imperial Privileges and Sanctions for Silesia," vols.
i., p. 166; iii., 759.]

[Footnote 20: Ib., vol. i., pp. 150-59.]

[Footnote 21: "Imperial Privileges and Sanctions for Silesia," vol. i.,
p. 125.]

[Footnote 22: Ib., vol. i., p. 138.]

[Footnote 23: Seven hundred and fifty of these have been reckoned by C.
H. von Lang, in his "Historical Development of German Taxation," 1793.]

[Footnote 24: F. von Liebenroth: "Fragments from my Diary," 1701, p.
159. The writer was a Saxon officer, a sensible and loyal man.]

[Footnote 25: District regulations for the Principalities of Oppeln and
Ratibor of the year 1561.]

[Footnote 26: The provincial ordinances for the Principalities of
Oppeln and Ratibor, year 1561.]

[Footnote 27: Von Hohberg: "Country Life of the Nobles," 1687. See the

[Footnote 28: Imperial Privil. and Sanct., vol. iv., p. 1213.]

[Footnote 29: One may nearly estimate the proportion of the peasants to
the collective population of Germany, about 1750, at from 65 to 70 per
cent.; of these four-fifths were villeins, thus more than half the

[Footnote 30: "The Exposure of the Vices, Morals, and Evils of the
thick-skinned, coarse-grained, and wicked Peasantry," by _Veroandro_,
of _Truth Castle_, 1684. The author appears to have been the same
clergyman who added verses to the later editions of the Simplicissimus,
and pointed the moral.]

[Footnote 31: "The Happy and Unhappy Peasantry," p. 178. Frankfort, s.
a. About 1700.]

[Footnote 32: "Lasterprob," p. 82.]

[Footnote 33: "The Happy and Unhappy Peasant Class." p. 155.]

[Footnote 34: "Kurtze Beschreibung, der Acker-Leuthe und Ehrenlob," p.
33. Hof. 1701.]

[Footnote 35: "Imperial Privil. and Sanct.," vols. ii., p. 584; v.,

[Footnote 36: F. von Liebenroth, p. 146.]

[Footnote 37: Supreme Court of the Empire.]

[Footnote 38: J. V. Bohlen; "Georg von Behr; A picture of Pomeranian
Life," p. 24, 1859.]

[Footnote 39: Imp. Priv. and Sanct., 1577, 1602, 1617, vols. i., 93,
100; iii., 1108.]

[Footnote 40: Even in the years 1602 and 1617; Ib., vol. iii, 1107.]

[Footnote 41: A well-known literary society.--_Tr_.]

[Footnote 42: Dietrich von Kracht, the Brandenburg colonel, was called
in this society "the Biter;" his herb was the horseradish.]

[Footnote 43: This complaint may be found in "Imp. Sanct.," 9th Feb.,

[Footnote 44: For most of these details from the manuscript diary of an
Austrian, Baron von Teuffel, in 1672 and the following years, the
Editor has to thank the kindness of Graf Wolf Baudissin.]

[Footnote 45: Compare this with the Silesian Robinson, Oct. 8, 1723,
vol. i., p. 16. The first part of this Robinsonade is a vivid sketch
from the diary of a Silesian noble, which appears to be lost.]

[Footnote 46: P. Winckler, "The Nobleman," p. 510.]

[Footnote 47: We are averse to quoting the erotic books which corrupted
German readers; we shall only mention a short and scarce tale, wherein
some such orgies are described after the Dutch original: "The
Perverted, but at the same time Converted, Soldier Adrian Wurmfeld von
Orsoy," by Crispinus Bonifacius von Düsseldorp, p. 4. 1675. 4to.]

[Footnote 48: _Pfeffersäcke_, Pepper-sack, and _Krippenreiter_, a
poor country Squire, who rides about living on the bounty of the

[Footnote 49: The Student's cap used in sham fights.]

[Footnote 50: In 1603 this was already denounced from Vienna; the abuse
became very bad during the war.--Kais. Privil. und Sanct., vol. i., p.

[Footnote 51: Kais. Privil. und Sanct., vol. iv., p. 1125.]

[Footnote 52: Kais. Privil. und Sanct., vol. i, p. 377, year 1712.]

[Footnote 53: Kais. Privil. und Sanct., vol. iii., pp. 989 and 1021.]

[Footnote 54: J. B. von Bohr, "Ceremoniel Wissenschaft," p. 229.]

[Footnote 55: J. B. von Bohr, _ibid._, p. 33.]

[Footnote 56: For when the splendid prince had arrived at the object of
his wishes by countless bribery to the Polish grandees, and after he
had proved his new Catholicism to his party--less through the enforced
testimony of the Pope than by the expenditure of some thalers and a
half measure of brandy to each noble elector--then, at his eventful
coronation on the 5th of September, 1697, the inventive powers of the
chamberlain were strained to the uttermost, for the costume was to be
antique, at the same time Polish and also fashionable and suitable to a
cavalier. Therefore the king wore on his well-powdered head a Polish
cap with a heron's plume; on his body a strong golden breastplate, over
his short French breeches a short Roman tunic, on his feet sandals,
over all a blue ermine cloak; the whole dress covered with splendid
precious stones. He became faint at the coronation, and it was doubtful
whether it was owing to the uncomfortable costume or to shame. The
Poles ate on this day three roast oxen, while at the Emperor's
coronation at Frankfort only one was customary.--Compare Förster, "Höfe
und Cabinette Europas," vol. iii., p. 51.]

[Footnote 57: Letters of recommendation entitling the holder to
sustenance in some ecclesiastical foundation.--_Tr_.]

[Footnote 58: She certainly was not a girl of loose character, as
Hüllmann in the "Städtewesen," vol. ii., assumes; on the contrary, she
passed in the sports as the symbol of a city which was supposed to be
under the protection of the Holy Virgin, and, till the time of Tilly,
boasted of never having been taken. It is possible that the maiden may
have been a serf, but this is not certain.]

[Footnote 59: Wolffgang Ferber, Prietzschenmeister--jest
maker--"Gründliche Beschreibung eines fürnehmen fürstlichen
Armbrustschiessens zu Coburg," 1614.]

[Footnote 60:  On a Franconian gem of the sixteenth century an archer
and a crossbow are portrayed.--Bechstein Museum, II., figure 4.]

[Footnote 61: For example, in the circular of the Meiningens, 1579,
"crooked or straight rifled barrels are forbidden." Quarrels must have
arisen sometimes concerning this at the public shooting meetings, for
in 1563 Elector August of Saxony decided that rifled barrels should
only be allowed, if all the shooters agreed to it.]

[Footnote 62: Pritschmeister, a species of Merry Andrew--master of the
ceremonies and provost marshal.--_Tr_.]

[Footnote 63: The favourite preamble of their poem. They wander poor
and full of cares into the free expanse of nature; then comes joyful
news of a shooting meeting. It was undoubtedly traditional, and it was
a fitting and refined beginning, which one learned from the other.]

[Footnote 64: Wolfgang Ferber. "Gründliche beschreibung eines Armbrust
Schiessens zu Coburg." 1614.]

[Footnote 65: A square coin.]

[Footnote 66: Welser-Gasser, "Chronika von Augspurg," p. 182.]

[Footnote 67: Compare vol. ii of "Pictures of German Life," chap.
"Rogues and Adventurers."]

[Footnote 68: Benedict Edlbeck, pritschmeister: "Ordentliche
beschreibung des grossen Schiessen in Zwickau," 1574, p. 82.]

[Footnote 69: Even the valiant Quad von Kinkelbach counts this as one
of the wonders of Frankfort: "Teutscher Nation Herlichbuit," 1609, p.
171. Compare it with Christoff Rösener: "Ehren Tittel der Ritterlichen
Freyen Kunst der Fechter," 1589, p. 4. The _Federfechter_ gave their
freedom to their scholars at princes' courts; also, for example,
at Dresden, 1614, at the great Schaufechter which followed the
prize-shooting, where a Fechter was stabbed by a rapier.--Wolffgang
Ferber's "Relation eines fürnehmen Stahlschiessens zu Dresden," 1614.]

[Footnote 70: Derisive terms applied to certain localities.--_Tr_.]

[Footnote 71: Invitation circular of the Kehlheimers in "Bairische

[Footnote 72: The Swiss also were subject to the _pritschmeister_. In
the woodcut on the title-page of the curious poem "Aussreden der
Schützen von Hans Heinrich Grob, Zürich, 1602," there is delineated a
rifle shooting, in which the _pritschmeister_, in complete fool's
dress, is castigating two Shooters in the way above described.]

[Footnote 73: Called Königsschiessen, as a king was elected for the

[Footnote 74: An open space round the town.--_Tr_.]

[Footnote 75: A court entertainment, representing life in an

[Footnote 76: Von Rohr, "Ceremoniel-Wissenschaft," p. 261.]

[Footnote 77: "_De ratione status in Imperio nostro Romano-Germanico_,
1640." The expression is not invented by Chemnitz, it had been
introduced before him in diplomatic jargon by the Italians--their
_ragione di Dominio_, or _di Stato_ (in Latin, _ratio status_; in
French, _raison d'estat_; in German, _Staatsklugheit_) denotes the
method of dealing in the finesses of politics, a system of unwritten
maxims of government in which only practical statesmen were versed.]

[Footnote 78: The title runs thus: "_Idolum Principium_, that is, the
rulers' idol, which they worship in these days and call _Ratio Status_,
described in a not fabulous fable, after the manner of history."]

[Footnote 79: "Lebens Beschreibung Johannis Petersen," 1717; 2nd edit.
1719, 8. "Leben Frauen Johanna Eleonora Petersen," 1718; 2nd edit.
1719, 8.]

[Footnote 80: The stranger was Spener.]

[Footnote 81: The father now held a situation at a pious court; the
princess, whose attendant he was, was an active promoter of the match.]

[Footnote 82: A special virtue was ascribed by the superstitious not
only to inherited metal but to inherited knowledge, particularly of
smiths, shepherds, and executioners.]

[Footnote 83: Mounted mercenaries who had no groom boy. The einspänner
performed in peace the service of gensdarmes.]

[Footnote 84: The Duke of Holstein is Bishop of Lubeck. The court
preacher called him, according to the case, his duke or bishop. This
double position of the weak prince, and his conduct, denote the
helpless condition of the Protestant Church.]

[Footnote 85: J. M. von Loen, "Der Adel," 1732, pp. 133-4.]

[Footnote 86: He related the story later with glee; his wife, from
living with him, had become quite different. But Kate's question,
whether the German Commander-in-Chief was brother of the Prussian Duke,
appeared so extraordinary to Luther, because just then, 1526, all
details concerning Albrecht of Prussia were discussed in the circle of
the Wittenbergers; and she, the most closely united to Luther, knew
nothing of him. Katherine had then already lived in the families of
friends at Wittenberg two years, so that it was not entirely the fault
of the convent that she sat so quiet and helpless in the house of her

[Footnote 87: Dr. Johann Salomo Semler's "Lebensbeschriebung," drawn up
by himself, 2nd part, appeared in 1781. The here-mentioned lady friend
is not named; she appears to have been noble, or of the higher official

[Footnote 88: He sought for composure by thinking of both the
demoiselles, in Halle and Saalfeld.]

[Footnote 89: The letter is given, because its purport is almost
identical with one written by the beautiful Ursula Freherin to her
bridegroom in 1598, in vol. i. of "Pictures of German Life," p. 233.
For the letter here published the Editor has to thank Baron Ernst von

                             END OF VOL. I.


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