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Title: Pictures of German Life in the XVIIIth and XIXth Centuries, Vol. II.
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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  1. Page scan source:
     http://www.archive.org/details/picturesgermanl03freygoog



                        PICTURES OF GERMAN LIFE

                                 IN THE

                  EIGHTEENTH AND NINETEENTH CENTURIES.

                             SECOND SERIES.

                           *   *   *   *   *

                                VOL. II.



                                PICTURES

                                   OF

                              GERMAN LIFE

                  In the XVIIIth and XIXth Centuries.



                             Second Series.


                                   BY
                            GUSTAV FREYTAG.


                    Translated from the Original by
                             MRS. MALCOLM.



                 _COPYRIGHT EDITION.--IN TWO VOLUMES_.


                                VOL. II.



                                LONDON:
                   CHAPMAN AND HALL, 193 PICCADILLY.
                                 1863.



                                LONDON:
               BRADBURY AND EVANS, PRINTERS, WHITEFRIARS.



                               CONTENTS.


                              CHAPTER VII.

Away from the Garrison (1700).--The army, and the constitution
of the State--The country militia and their history--The soldiery of
the Sovereign--Change of organisation after the war--The beginning
of compulsory levies about 1700--Gradual introduction of
conscription--Recruiting and its illegalities--Desertions--Trafficking
with armies--The Prussian army under Frederic William I.--The regiment
of guards at Potsdam--Prussian officers--Ulrich Bräcker--Narrative of a
Prussian deserter


                             CHAPTER VIII.

The State of Frederic the Great (1700).--The kingdom of the
Hohenzollerns, its small size; character of the people and
princes--Childhood of Frederic--Opposition to his
father--Catastrophe--Training and its influence on his character--His
marriage and relations with women--Residence in Rheinsberg--His
character when he became King--Striking contrast between his poetic
warmth and his inexorable severity--Inward change in the course of the
first Silesian war--Loss of the friends of his youth--The literary
period till 1766--His poetry, historical writings, and literary
versatility--Seven years of iron labour--His method of carrying on war,
and heroic struggle--Admiration of Germans and foreigners--His
sufferings and endurance--Extracts from Frederic's Letters from
1767-1762--Principles of his government--Improvement of
Silesia--Difference betwixt the Prussian and Austrian
government--Feeling of duty in the Prussian officials--Acquisition
of West Prussia--Miserable condition in 1772--Agriculture of
Frederic--His last years


                              CHAPTER IX.

Of the Year of Tuition of the German Citizen (1790).--Influence of
Frederic on German art, philosophy, and historical writing--Poetry
flourishes--The aspect of a city in 1790--The coffee gardens and
the theatres--Travelling and love of the picturesque--Different
sources of morals and activity amongst the nobles, citizens, and
peasants--Characteristics of the life of the country nobles--The piety
of the country people--Education of the citizens--Advantages of the
Latin schools and of the university education--The sentimentality and
change in the literary classes from 1750-1790--The Childhood of Ernst
Frederic Haupt


                               CHAPTER X.

The Period of Ruin (1800).--The condition of Germany--Courts and cities
of the Empire--People and armies of the Empire--The emigrants--Effect
of the revolution on the Germans--The Prussian State--Its rapid
increase--Von Held--Bureaucracy--The army--The Generals--The
downfall--Narrative of the Years 1806-1807, by Christoph Wilhelm
Heinrich Sethe--His life


                              CHAPTER XI.

Rise of the Nation (1807-1815).--Sorrowful condition of the people in
the year 1807--The first signs of rising strength--Hatred of the French
Emperor--Arming of Prussia--Character and importance of the movement of
1813--Napoleon's flight--Expedition of the French to Russia in
1812, and return in 1813--The Cossacks--The people rise--General
enthusiasm--The volunteer Jägers and patriotic gifts--The Landwehr
and the Landsturm--The first combat--Impression of the war on the
citizens--The enemy in the city--The course of the war--The celebration
of victory


                              CHAPTER XII.

Illness and Recovery (1815-1848).--The time of reaction--Hopelessness
of the German question--Discontent and exhaustion of the
Prussians--Weakness of the educated classes in the north of
Germany--The development of practical activity--The South Germans and
their village tales--Description of a Village School by Karl Mathy


CONCLUSION.--The Hohenzollerns and the German citizens



                        PICTURES OF GERMAN LIFE.


                             Second Series.



                              CHAPTER VII.

                        AWAY FROM THE GARRISON.
                                (1700.)


A shot from the alarm-gun! Timidly does the citizen examine the dark
corners of his house to discover whether any strange man be hid there.
The peasant in the field stops his horses to consider whether he would
wish to meet with any fugitive, and earn capture-money, or whether he
should save some desperate man, in spite of the severe punishment with
which every one was threatened who enabled a deserter to escape.
Probably he will let the fugitive run away, though in his power, for in
his secret soul he has a fellow feeling for him, nay, even admires his
daring.

There is scarcely any sphere of earthly interest which stamps so
sharply the peculiarities of the culture of the time, as the army and
the method of carrying on war. In every century the army corresponds
exactly with the constitution and character of the state. The
Franconian landwehr of Charles the Great, who advanced on foot from
their _Maifeld_ to Saxony, the army of the noble cuirassiers who rode
under the Emperor Barbarossa into the plains of Lombardy, the Swiss
and Landsknechte of the time of the Reformation, and the mercenary
armies of the Thirty Years' War, were all highly characteristic of the
culture of their time; they sprang from the social condition of the
people, and changed with it. Thus did the oldest infantry of the
proprietors take root in the old provincial constitution, the mounted
chivalry in the old feudalism, the troops of Landsknechte in the rise
of civic power, and the companies of roving mercenaries in the increase
of royal territorial dominion; these were succeeded in despotic states,
in the eighteenth century, by the standing army with uniform and pay.

But none of the older forms of military service were entirely displaced
by those of later times, at least some reminiscences of them are
everywhere kept. The ancient landfolge (attendants on military
expeditions) of the free landowner had ceased since the greater portion
of the powerful peasantry had sunk into bondsmen, and the strong
landwehr had become a general levy, of little warlike capacity; but
they had not been entirely set aside, for still in the eighteenth
century all freeholders were bound at the sound of the alarum to hasten
together, and to furnish baggage, horses, and men to work at the
fortifications. In the same way the knights of the Hohenstaufen were
dispersed by the army of free peasants and citizens, at Sempach,
Grunson, Murten, and the lowlands of Ditmarsch, but the furnishing of
cavalry horses remained as a burden upon the properties of the
nobility; it was after the end of the sixteenth century--in Prussia,
first under Frederic William I.--that it was changed into a low
money-tax, and this tax was the only impost on the feudal property of
nobles.[1] The roving Landsknecht also, who provided his own equipments
and changed his banner every summer, was turned into a mounted
mercenary with an unsettled term of service; but in the new time the
customs of free enlistment, earnest money, and entering into foreign
service, were still maintained, although these customs of the
Landsknecht time were in strange and irreconcilable contrast to the
fearful severity with which the new rule of a despotic state grasped
the whole life of the recruit.

The defects of the standing army in the eighteenth century have been
often criticised, and every one knows something of the rigorous
discipline in the companies with which the Dessauer stormed the
defences of Turin, and Frederic II. maintained possession of Silesia.
But another part of the old military constitution is not equally known,
and has been entirely lost sight of even by military writers. It shall
therefore be introduced here.

The regiments which the sovereigns of the eighteenth century led to
battle, or leased to foreign potentates, were not the only armed
organisation of Germany. Besides the paid army there was in most of the
states a militia force, certainly very deficient in constitution, but
by no means insignificant or uninfluential. At no time had the old
idea, that every one was bound to defend his own country, vanished from
the German life. The right of the rulers to employ their subjects in
the defence of their homes, was, according to the notions of the olden
time, entirely distinct from their other right of keeping soldiers.
They could not command their subjects to render military service for
their political struggles, nor for wars beyond the frontiers. Service
in war was a free work, for that, they were obliged to invite
volunteers, that is to say, to enlist, as they were unable to avail
themselves of their vassals. One of the greatest changes in the history
of the German nation was owing to the conviction being gradually
impressed upon the people, by the despotic governments in the former
century, that they were bound to furnish their rulers with at least a
portion of their soldiers. And it is not less instructive to find, that
in our century, after the old system was destroyed, the general idea of
defensive duty was imbibed by the people. It is worth while to
investigate the way in which this happened.

Already, towards the end of the sixteenth century, when the
Landsknechte had become too costly and demoralised, people began to
think of forming a militia of the men capable of bearing arms in the
cities and open country, which were to be employed for its protection
within its frontiers. After 1613, this militia was organised in
Electoral Saxony and the neighbouring countries, and soon after in the
other circles of the Empire, and companies established, which were
sometimes assembled and exercised in military drill. Their collective
number was fixed and distributed among the districts, the communities
appointed and armed the men, and if they were in service they received
pay from the ruler.

The Thirty Years' War was for the most part carried on by enlisted
soldiers, yet in case of need the militia were here and there turned
into regulars; either whole regiments were appointed for field service,
or the gaps in the enlisted troops were filled up by serviceable men.
But on the whole the loose organisation of this militia did not answer.
After the peace it was still less possible in the depopulated state of
the country, to form from it a new military constitution. For the
citizen and peasant, as taxpayers, as well as for the cultivation of
the now waste ground, were indispensable. The old imperfect
constitution of this civic army was, therefore, maintained. The only
difference made in the militia at this period was that the men were
chosen by the officers of the Sovereign and that the term of service
was limited for the young men; the community fell into the back-ground,
and the Sovereign became more powerful. In this manner were the militia
brought together in companies and regiments, according to their
circles, and exercised once or twice a year. Before the war the
districts had provided them with weapons and equipments; now this also
was done by the Sovereign; but in the cities the officers were
appointed by the citizens; only the commanding officer was selected by
the General The men were usually chosen by lot, and it is an
interesting circumstance that, as early as 1711, the inscription on the
Saxon ticket was "_For Fatherland_." But the military education was
imperfect, exemptions were frequent, and the mode of filling up the
vacancies inadequate.

And yet this militia more than once did good service; for instance, in
Prussia. The armed country people, as they were called in the
description of the battle of Fehrbelliner, were not a mere crowd that
had flocked together, but the old organised country militia; they took
an essential share in the first glorious deed of arms, in which the
Brandenburgers beat a superior enemy by their own unaided efforts. In
1704, these militia were still much esteemed in Prussia, and those who
were enrolled in it were exempt from all other military service.[2] It
is true this was cancelled by Frederic William I., but in the Seven
Years' War again established, and this militia did then good service
against Sweden and Russia. In the Empire, also, and in Saxony, they
were maintained, though weak, unwarlike and despised, till an altered
state of civilisation made a new organisation of the national militia
possible. Even now is this new constitution not fully completed.

Entirely distinct from these militia were the soldiery, which the
Sovereign maintained himself, and paid out of his revenue. It might be
only a body of guards, for the protection and adornment of his court,
or it might be many companies whom he levied in order to secure his own
state, and by gaining influence and power among his equals, to obtain
money. It was his own private affair, and if he did not overburden his
people by it, no objection could be made. Those who served him also,
did it of their own free will; they might engage themselves to other
Sovereigns at home or abroad, who were obliged to keep the agreements
they made with them. If the country were in danger from external
enemies, the states granted the Sovereign money or a special
contribution for these soldiers, for it was well known that they had
more military capacity than the militia. Thus it was in Prussia under
the great Elector, and so it remained in the greater part of Germany
till late in the eighteenth century.

But this private army which the Sovereign had levied for himself had
also acquired a new constitution.

Till the end of the Thirty Years' War the enlistment, in most of the
German armies, had taken place according to Landsknecht custom, at the
risk of the Colonels. The Colonel concluded a contract with the Prince;
he filled and sold the captains' commissions; the Prince paid the
Colonel the money contributed by the district. Thus the regiments were
essentially dependent on the Colonel, and this was a power which might
be used against the Prince. The discipline was loose; the officers'
places occupied by creatures of the Colonel, and at his death the
regiment was dissolved. The rogueries of Colonels and leaders of
companies, which were already complained of in 1600 by the military
writers, had attained a certain virtuosoship in their development.
Seldom were all the men whose names stood on the rolls, really under
the banner. The officers drew the pay for numbers who were not there,
who were called "_Passevolants_," or "_Blinde_," and they appointed
their grooms and sutlers, from the baggage-waggons, to be
non-commissioned officers. In the Imperial army, also, complaints were
endless of the most reckless selfishness from the highest to the
lowest. In the midst of peace the officers plundered the hereditary
States in which they were quartered; they fished and hunted in the
environs, and claimed a portion of the city tolls; they caused beasts
to be killed and sold; and set up wine and beer taverns. In like manner
as the officers robbed, the soldiers stole. This continued still in
1677; and this plague of the country threatened to become lasting. The
enlisting of recruits was still little organised in this early period;
and the rogueries, which could not fail to accompany it, were at least
unsanctioned by the highest authorities.

In Brandenburg the great Elector, immediately after his entrance on the
government, reformed the connection between the regiments and the
Sovereign; the enlistment was from thenceforth in his own name; he
appointed the Colonel and the officers, who could no longer buy their
commissions. Then first did the paid troops become a standing army,
clothed, armed, and equipped alike, with better discipline, obedient
instruments in the hands of the princes. This was the greatest advance
in the military system since the invention of fire-arms; and Prussia
owes to the early and energetic introduction of this new system its
military preponderance in Germany. The commissariat, also, was
reorganised; the men received, at least in war, their daily food in
rations, and the provisions were supplied from great magazines. Through
the efforts of Montecuculi, and later of Prince Eugene, Austria also,
shortly before 1700, acquired a better disciplined standing army.

The whole complement of these troops could, up to 1700, be procured
almost exclusively by free enlisting; for long after the great war the
people continued in a state of restlessness, and had imbibed an
adventurous spirit, to which military work was very enticing. This
altered gradually. During the war-like period of Louis XIV., and from
the increase of the French army, the German princes were compelled to a
greater increase of their paid armies, and the loss of men occasioned
by the incessant war had carried off many of the useless and bold
rabble that collected round the banners. Even before the great war of
succession the deficiency of men began to be felt; voluntary enlistment
could nowhere any longer be obtained; complaints of the deeds of
violence of the recruiting officers became at last troublesome. The
military ruler, at last, began to scrutinize the men who seized under
him, and sometimes had them exercised in companies. To use the militia
for his warlike expeditions was impossible; they were too little
trained, and, what was more important, they consisted more especially
of respectable residents, whose labour and taxes could not be dispensed
with by the State, as the nobility, and, in Catholic countries, the
ecclesiastics, contributed nothing to his income. Besides this, it was
an unheard-of thing for the people to be compelled by force into
military service. However much he might feel himself the master, this
was an innovation too much against the general feeling; the people bore
their taxes and burdens expressly that he might carry on war for them.
The peasant rendered service and soccage to his landlord, because in
the olden time the latter had gone into the field for him. He then
rendered taxes and service to the Sovereign because he had gone with
his paid soldiers into the field for him, when his landlord was no
longer willing to bear the burden; but now the peasant was to render
the same service to landlord and Prince, and besides this to march
himself to battle. This appeared impracticable; but again the pressure
of bitter necessity was felt, and help must be found. Only the most
indigent were to be taken--vagrants and idlers; but all whose labour
was useful to the State, all who raised themselves in any sort out of
the mass, were not to be disturbed.

Cautiously and slowly began the enlistment of the people for the
military service of their Prince before 1700. It was proclaimed for the
first time, but without success, that the country must supply recruits.
The innovation was first attempted, it appears, by the Brandenburger in
1693: the provinces were to enlist and present the number of men
wanting, yet not villeins; and the leaders of companies were to pay two
thalers earnest money to each man. Soon they went further; and first,
in 1704, called upon particular classes of tax-payers, and then in 1705
upon the community, to supply the necessary men. The recruits were to
serve from two to three years, and those that willingly enlisted for
six years and more were preferred. Exactly the same arrangement was
made in Saxony in 1702 by King Augustus. There the communities had to
provide for the Sovereign, as well as for the militia, an appointed
number of young sound men, and to decide what individuals could
be dispensed with. The enlistment-place was the Town-hall; the
high-constables of the circles had the inspection. The man was
delivered over without regimentals,--four thalers ready money were
given,--the time of service two years,--and if the officer refused his
discharge after two years, he who had served his time had the power to
go away. Thus, timidly, did they begin to bring forward a new claim;
and, in spite of all this caution, the opposition of the people was so
violent and bitter that the new regulation was given up, and they
returned again to enlistment. In 1708 forcible recruiting was
abolished, "because it was too great an exaction." The iron will of
Frederic William I. accustomed his people gradually to submit to this
compulsion. After 1720 registers were made of children subject to
military service, and in 1733 the "_canton_"[3] system was introduced.
The land was divided among the regiments; the citizens and peasants
were, with many exceptions, declared subject to military service. Every
year were the deficiencies in the regiments filled up through levies,
in which, it must be remarked by the way, the greatest despotism on the
part of the captains remained unpunished.

In Saxony they first succeeded, towards the end of the century, in
carrying on the conscription together with the enlisting. In other
parts, especially in small territories, that prospered less.

Thus the military system of Germany presents to our view this
remarkable phenomenon, that at the same time in which increased
intellectual development produced in the middle classes greater
pretensions, together with higher culture and morals, the despotism of
the rulers gradually effected another great political advance in the
life of the people--the beginning of our common feeling of the duty of
self-defence. And it is equally remarkable that this innovation did not
begin in the form of a great and wise measure, but in conjunction with
circumstances which would appear to be more especially adverse to it.
The greatest severity and unscrupulousness of a despotic state showed
itself precisely in that by which it prepared, though it did not carry
out, the greatest step in political progress.

Too brutal and unscrupulous was the conduct of the officers who had to
raise the levies, and too violent was the opposition and aversion of
the people. The young men left the country in masses; no threatening of
the gallows, of cutting off ears, or of confiscation of their property,
could stop the fugitives. More than once the fanatical soldier-zealot
Frederic William I. of Prussia was counteracted by the necessity of
sparing his kingdom, which threatened to be depopulated. Never could
more than half the number required be filled up by this conscription;
the other half of the deficiency had to be raised by enlistment.

The enlisting, also, in the first half of the eighteenth century, was
rougher work than it had been. The Sovereigns themselves were more
dangerous recruiting officers than the captains of the old
Landsknechte. And although the evils of this system were notorious, no
one knew how to remedy it. The rulers, it is true, were not so much
disquieted by the immorality attending it, as they were by the
insecurity, costliness, and unceasing disputes which it involved, as
well as by the reclamations of foreign governments. The recruiting
officers were themselves often bad and untrustworthy men, whose
proceedings and disbursements could with difficulty be controlled. Not
a few lived for years a life of dissipation, with their accomplices, in
foreign countries at the cost of their monarchs; charged exorbitant
bounties, only succeeded in ensnaring a few, and could scarcely get
these into the country. It soon followed that not half of those so
enlisted ever became available to the army; for the greater part were
the worst rabble, into whom military qualities could not always be
flogged, whose diseased bodies and vicious habits filled the hospitals
and prisons, and who ran away on the first opportunity.

The enlisting in the interior was carried on with every kind of
violence; the officers and recruiting sergeants seized and carried off
only sons who ought to have been exempt; students from the
Universities, and whole colonies of villeins whom they settled on their
own properties. Whoever wished to be exempt, was obliged to bribe, and
was not even then safe. The officers were so protected in their violent
extortions, that they openly despised all legal restraints. If there
happened to be a great deficiency of men in time of war, all regard for
law ceased. Then a formal, razzia was arranged, the city gates were
beset by guards, and every one who went in or out subjected to a
fearful examination, and whoever was tall and strong was seized; houses
were broken into, and recruits were sought for from cellar to garret,
even in families that ought to have been exempt. In the Seven Years'
War, the Prussians even endeavoured to catch the scholars of the upper
forms of the public schools in Silesia, for military service. In many
families still lives the remembrance of the terror and danger
occasioned to the grandfathers by the recruiting system. It was then a
great misfortune for the sons of the clergy or officials to grow tall,
and the usual warning of anxious parents was, "Do not grow, or you will
be caught by the recruiting officer."

Almost worse were the illegalities practised by the recruiting
sergeants seeking for recruits in foreign countries. The recruit was
bound by the reception of the money; and the well-known man[oe]uvre was
to make simple lads drunk in jovial society, to press the money on them
when intoxicated, take them into strict custody, and when, on becoming
sober, they resisted, keep them by chains and every means of
compulsion. Under escort and threatenings, the prisoners were dragged
under the banners, and compelled to take the oath by barbarous
punishments. Every other means of seduction was used besides drinking;
gambling, prostitutes, lying, and every kind of deceit. Individuals
considered desirable subjects were for days watched by spies. It was
required of recruiting sergeants, who were paid for this purpose, to be
especially expert in the art of outwitting. Advancement and presents of
money depended on their knowing how to catch many men. Frequently they
avoided, even where enlisting offices were allowed, showing themselves
in uniform, and tried to seize their victims in every kind of disguise.
Horrible were the basenesses practised in this man-hunting, and
connived at by the governments. It was, in fact, slave-hunting; for the
enlisted soldier could only perform his service in the great machine of
the army, when he closed with all the hopes and wishes of his former
life. It is a melancholy task to represent to oneself the feelings
which worked in these victims; destroyed hopes, faintheartedness under
violence, and heart-rending grief over a ruined life. It was not always
the worst men who were hunted to death by running the gauntlet for
repeated desertions, or flogged on account of insolent disobedience,
till they lay senseless on the ground. Whoever could overcome his own
inward struggle and accustom himself to the rough style of his new
life, became a complete soldier, that is, a man who performed his
service punctually, showed a firm spirit in attack, honoured or hated
as enjoined, and perhaps felt some attachment to his flag; and probably
much greater to the friend which made him for a time forget his
situation--brandy.

Enlistment in foreign countries could only take place with the consent
of the Government of the country. Urgently did warlike princes seek for
permission from their neighbours for an enlistment office. The Emperor,
indeed, had the best of it, for each of his regiments had, according to
custom, a fixed recruiting district throughout Germany. The others,
especially Prussia, had to provide a favourable district for it. The
larger Imperial cities were frequently courteous enough to grant
permission to the more powerful Sovereigns; consequently, they were not
always able to protect the sons of their own noble families. The
frontiers of France, Holland, and Switzerland, were favourable
districts for catching recruits; for there were always deserters to be
found in the territory which was surrounded by foreign domains,
especially when a foreign fortress, with burdensome garrison service,
lay in the neighbourhood. Anspach, Baireuth, Dessau, and Brunswick,
were always a good market for the Prussians.

The recruiting officers of the different governments were not in equal
repute. The Austrians had the best character; they were considered in
the soldier world, coarse, but harmless; only took those that willingly
yielded themselves, and kept to the agreement strictly. They had not
much to offer, only three kreuzer and two pounds of bread daily; but
they never were deficient in recruits. The Prussian recruiting
officers, on the contrary, it must be owned, were in the worst repute;
they lived in the highest style, were very insolent and unscrupulous,
and fool-hardy devils. In order to catch a fine lad, they contrived the
most audacious tricks, and exposed themselves to the greatest dangers:
one knows that they were sometimes soundly beaten, when they found
themselves in a minority, that they were imprisoned by foreign
Governments, and more than one of them stabbed; but all this did not
frighten them. This evil report lasted till Frederic William II. made
his new rules of enlistment.

One of the best recruiting places in the empire was Frankfort-à-M.,
with its great fair; Prussians, Austrians, and Danes, still, at the end
of the century, dwelt together there; the Danes had hung out their flag
at the "Fir-tree;" the Austrians had, from olden times, stopped
phlegmatically at the inn "The Red Ox;" but the restless Prussian
recruiting officers were always changing; they were at this time the
most distinguished and most splendid. A kind of diplomatic intercourse
was maintained between the different parties; they were, it is true,
jealous of one another, and endeavoured mutually to intercept each
other's news; but they continued to visit and took wine and tobacco
together as comrades. But Frankfort had already, after the seventeenth
century, become the centre of a special branch of the business for
entrapping men for the Imperial army. The recruiting officers sought
not only new men, but also for deserters; and the bad discipline and
want of military pride of the small southern German countries,
as well as the facility of desertion, made it alluring to every
good-for-nothing fellow to obtain new earnest money. In the recruiting
rooms, therefore, of the Prussians and those of the "Red Ox," there
hung a great variety of wardrobes from the different territories of the
empire, which the deserters had left behind. Besides the wish to gain
more bounty, there was yet another reason which led even the better
sort of soldiers to desert--the wish to marry. No government approved
of their soldiers burdening themselves with wives when in garrison,
but, reckless as the military rulers were, they had no power in this
respect. For there was no better means of keeping hold of a recruit
than by marriage. If permission was refused, it was certain in
garrisons near the frontier, that the soldier would fly with his maiden
to the nearest inn where there was a foreign recruiting officer; and it
was equally certain that he would there be married on the spot; for at
every such recruiting place, there was a clergyman at hand for these
cases.

The result of this was, that by far the greater number of soldiers were
married, especially in the small States, where they could easily reach
the frontier. Thus the Saxon army of about 30,000 men, reckoned in
1790, 20,000 soldiers' children; in the regiment of Thadden at Halle,
almost half the soldiers were provided with wives. The soldiers' wives
and children no longer went into the field, as in the old Landsknecht
time, under the sergeants, but they were a heavy burden on the garrison
towns. The women, supported themselves with difficulty by washing and
other work; the children roamed about wildly without instruction. The
city schools were almost everywhere closed to them; they were despised
by the citizens like gipsies. Even in wealthy Lower Saxony at the
beginning of the French revolution, there was no school for soldiers'
boys except at Annaberg; this undoubtedly was well regulated, but did
not suffice. For the girls there were none; there were neither
preachers nor schools with the regiments. Only in Prussia was the
education of the children and the training of the grown-up men--through
preachers, schools, and orphan houses--seriously attended to.

When a man received earnest-money from a recruiting officer, his whole
life was decided. He was separated from the society of the citizens by
a chasm which the most persevering could seldom pass. Under the hard
pressure of service, under rough officers and among still rougher
comrades, ran the course of his life; the first years in ceaseless
drilling, the following ones with occasional relaxation which
allowed him to seek for some small service in the neighbourhood, as
day-labourer, or some little handicraft. If he was considered secure,
he would have leave for months, whether he wished it or not; then the
captain kept his pay, and he had meanwhile to provide for himself. The
citizens regarded him with distrust and aversion; the honesty and
morals of the soldiers were in such bad repute, that civilians avoided
all contact with them, if a soldier entered an inn, the citizen and
artisan immediately left it, and the landlord considered it a
misfortune to have visits from soldiers. Thus he was in his hours of
recreation confined to intercourse with comrades and profligate women.
Severe was the usage that he met with from his officers; he was cuffed
and kicked, punished with flogging for the slightest cause, or placed
on the sharp pointed wooden horse or donkey, which stood in the open
place near the guard-house; for greater misdemeanors he was confined in
chains, put on wooden palings, or if the crime was great, he had to run
the gauntlet of rods cut by the Provost, till he died.

If in Prussia the predilection of the King for uniforms, and under
Frederic the Great the glory of the army reconciled the Brandenburg
conscript to the King's coat, this was far less the case in the rest of
Germany. To the citizen and peasant's son in Prussia who had to serve,
it was a misfortune, but in the rest of Germany a disgrace. Various
were the attempts made to evade it by mutilation, but the chopping off
a finger did not exempt, and was besides as severely punished as
desertion. In 1790, a rich peasant lad in Lower Saxony, who by the
hatred of the bailiff had been forced into service, was ashamed to
enter his native village in uniform. Whenever he obtained leave, he
stopped outside the village and had his peasant's dress brought to him,
and a maid carried the uniform through the village in a covered basket.

Desertions, therefore, did not cease; they were the common evil of all
armies, and were not to be prevented by running the gauntlet the first
and second time, nor even the third with shot. In the garrisons the
roll-call, which was incessant, and quiet espionnage of individuals,
were insufficient means. But when the cannon gave the signal that a man
had escaped, the alarm was given to the surrounding villages, mounted
foresters and troopers trotted along all the roads, detachments of foot
and horse scoured the country as far as the frontiers, and information
was given to the villages. Whoever brought in a deserter received in
Prussia ten thalers, but whoever did not stop him, had to pay double
that sum as a punishment. Every soldier who went along the high road,
was obliged to have a pass; in Prussia, by the orders of Frederic
William I., every subject, whether high or low, was bound to detain
every soldier he met on the road to inquire after his papers. It was a
terrible thing, for a little artisan lad to be brought to a standstill
in a lonely street by a desperate six-foot grenadier, with musket and
sword, who could not be passed. Still worse was it when whole troops
prepared for flight, like those twenty Russians of the Dessauer
regiment at Halle, who, in 1734, obtained leave to attend the Greek
service at Brandenburg, where the King kept a patriarch for his
numerous Russian Grenadiers. But the twenty were determined to make a
pilgrimage back to the golden cross of the holy Moscow; they passed
with great staves through the Saxon villages, and were with difficulty
caught by the Prussian Hussars, brought back by Dresden to their
garrison, and there mildly treated. But yet more grievous was it to the
King, that even among his own Potsdamers a conspiracy broke out, when
his tall Servian Grenadiers had sworn to burn the town, and to desert
with arms in their hands. There were people of importance at the bottom
of it; the executions, cutting off of noses, and other modes of
punishment, occasioned the King a loss of 30,000 thalers. In the field,
also, a system of tactical regulations were necessary to restrain
desertion; every night march, every camp on the outskirts of a wood,
produced losses; the troops, both on the road and in camp, had to be
surrounded by strong patrols of Hussars and pickets; in every secret
expedition it was necessary to isolate the army by means of troops of
light cavalry, in order that deserters might not carry news to the
enemy. This order was still given to the Generals by Frederic II. In
spite of all, however, in every campaign, after each lost battle, and
even after those which were won, the number of deserters was fearfully
great. After unfortunate campaigns, great armies were in danger of
entire dissolution. Many who ran away from one army, went in
speculation to another, like the mercenaries in the Thirty Years' War;
indeed this changing and deserting had rough jovial attraction for
adventurers. An imprisoned deserter was, in the opinion of multitudes,
anything but an evil-doer,--we have many popular songs which express
the full sympathy of the village singer for the unfortunate, but the
happy deserter passed even for a hero, and in some popular tales, the
valiant fellow who has been compelled to help the fictitious King out
of danger, and at last marries the Princess, is a runaway soldier.

This royal soldiery was considered, in accordance with the ideas of
that period, even after the popular arming of the militia, as the
private possession of the Prince. The German Sovereigns, after the
Thirty Years' War, had, as once did the Italian condottieri, trafficked
with their military force; they had leased it to foreign powers, in
order to make money and increase their influence. Sometimes the
smallest territorial princes furnished in this way many regiments for
the service of the Emperor, of the Dutch, and of the King of France.
After the troops became more numerous, and were for the most part
supplied from the children of the soil, this abuse of the Prince's
power began gradually to strike the people with surprise. But it was
not until after the wars of Frederic II. had inspired the people with
patriotic warmth, that such appropriation became a subject of lively
discussion. And when, after 1777, Brunswick, Anspach, Waldeck, Zerbst,
and more than all Hesse-Cassel and Hanau, let out to England a number
of regiments for service against the Americans, the indignation of the
people was loudly expressed. Still it was only a lyrical complaint, but
it sounded from the Rhine to the Vistula; the remembrance of it still
lives; still does this misdeed hang like a curse upon one of the ruling
families who then, to the most criminal extent, bartered away the lives
of their subjects.

Among the German states Prussia was the one in which the tyranny of
this military system was most severe, but at the same time it was in
some respects developed with a rigid grandeur and originality which
made the Prussian army for half a century the first military power in
the world, and a model after which all the other armies of Europe were
formed.

Any one who had entered Prussia shortly before 1740, when under the
government of Frederic William I., would have been struck the very
first hour by its peculiar characteristics. At field-labour, and in the
streets of the cities, he would continually have seen slender men of
warlike aspect, with a striking red necktie. They were "_canton_" men,
who already as children had been entered on the register of soldiers,
and sworn under a banner, and could be called upon if their King needed
them. Each regiment had 500 to 800 of these reserves; one may therefore
assume, that by these, an army of 64,000 men, could, in three months,
be increased about 30,000, for everything was ready in the regimental
rooms, both clothing and weapons. Anyone too, who first saw a regiment
of Prussian infantry, would be still more astonished. The soldiers were
of a height such as had never been seen in the world,--they appeared of
a foreign race. When the regiment stood four ranks deep in line--the
position in three ranks was just then introduced--the smallest men of
the first rank were only a few inches under six foot, the fourth almost
equally high, and the middle ones little less. One may assume that were
the whole army placed in four ranks, the heads would make four straight
lines; the weapons also were somewhat longer than elsewhere. Not less
striking was the neat appearance of the men, they stood there like
gentlemen, with good clean linen, their heads nicely powdered, and a
cue, all in blue coats, with gaiters of unbleached linen up to their
bright breeches; the regiments were distinguished by the colour of
their waistcoats, facings, and lace. If a regiment wore beards, as for
example the old Dessauers at Halle, the beard was nicely greased. Each
man received yearly, before the review, a new uniform, even to the
shirt and stockings, and in the field also he had two dresses. The
officers looked still grander, with embroidered waistcoats, and scarfs
round the waist, on the sword the "field badge;" all was gold and
silver, and round the neck the gilded gorget, in the middle of which
was to be seen on a white ground, the Prussian eagle. The captain and
lieutenant bore in their hands the partisan, which had already been a
little diminished, and was called spontoon; the subordinate officers
still carried the short pike. It was considered smart for the dress to
fit tight and close, and in the same style the motions of the soldiers
were precise and angular, the deportment stiff and erect, their heads
high. Still more remarkable were their movements; for they were the
first soldiers that marched with equal step, the whole line raising and
setting down their feet like one man. This innovation had been
introduced by Dessau; the pace was slow and dignified, and even under
the worst fire was little hastened: that majestic equal step, in the
hottest moment at Mollwitz, carried confusion among the Austrians. The
music also struck them with terror. The great brass drums of the
Prussians (they have now, alas, come down to the insignificant size of
a bandbox), raised a tremendous din. When in Berlin, at the parade of
the Guards, some twenty drums were beaten, it made the windows shake.
And among the hautboys there was a trumpet, equally a novel invention.
The introduction of this instrument, created everywhere in Germany
astonishment and disapprobation, for the trumpeters and kettle drummers
of the holy Roman Empire formed a guild, which was protected by
Imperial privileges, and would not tolerate a military trumpeter not
belonging to it. But the King cared little for this. When the soldiers
exercised, loaded, and fired, it was with a precision similar to
witchcraft;[4] for after 1740, when Dessau introduced the iron ramrod,
the Prussian shot four or five times in a minute,--afterwards he learnt
to do it quicker; in 1773, five or six times; in 1781, six or seven
times. The fire of the whole front of the battalion was a flash and a
crack. When the salvos of the troops, exercising early in the morning
under the windows of the King's castle, roared, the noise was so great
that all the little Princes and Princesses were obliged to rise.

But anyone who would have wished to form a right estimate of the
soldiery should have gone to Potsdam. It had been a poor place,
situated betwixt the Havel and a swamp; the King had made it into an
architectural camp; no civilian could carry a sword there, not even the
minister of state. There, round the King's castle, in small brick
houses, which were built partly in the Dutch style, were stationed the
King's giants,--the world-renowned Grenadier regiment. There were three
battalions of 800 men, besides 600 to 800 reserves. Whoever among the
Grenadiers was burdened with a wife, had a house to himself; of the
other Colossuses, as many as four lodged with one landlord, who had to
wait upon and provide food for them, for which he only received some
stacks of wood. The men of this regiment never had leave, could carry
on no public work, and drink no brandy; most of them lived like
students at the high school, they occupied themselves with books,
drawing and music, or worked in their houses.[5] They received extra
pay, the tallest from ten to twenty thalers a month: all these fine men
wore high plated grenadier caps, which made them about four hand
breadths taller; the fifers of the regiment were Moors. Whoever
belonged to the Colonel's own company of the regiment had his picture
taken and hung up in the corridor of the castle of Potsdam. Many
distinguished persons travelled to Potsdam to see these sons of Anak at
parade or exercising. But it was remarked that such giants were
scarcely useful for real war, and that it had never occurred to any one
in the world to seek for extraordinary height as advantageous to
soldiers; this wonder was reserved for Prussia. But anyone who staid in
the country did well not to express this too openly. For the Grenadiers
were a passion of the King, which in his latter years amounted almost
to madness, and for which he forgot his family, justice, honour,
conscience, and what had stood highest with him all his life, the
advantage of his State. They were his dear blue children; he was
perfectly acquainted with each individual; took a lively interest in
their personal concerns, and tolerated long speeches and dry answers
from them. It was difficult for a civilian to obtain justice against
these favourites, and they were with good reason feared by the people.
Wherever in any part of Europe a tall man was to be found, the King
traced him out, and secured him either by bounty or force for his
guard. There was the giant Müller, who had shown himself in Paris and
London for money--two groschen a person--he was the fourth or fifth in
the line; still taller was Jonas, a smith's journeyman from Norway;
then the Prussian Hohmann, whose head King Augustus of Poland,--though
a man of fine stature--could not reach with his outstretched hand;
finally later there was James Kirckland, an Irishman, whom the Prussian
Ambassador Von Borke had carried off by force from England, and on
account of whom diplomatic intercourse was nearly broken off; he had
cost the King about nine thousand thalers.

They were collected together from every vocation of life, adventurers
of the worst kind, students, Roman Catholic priests, monks, and even
some noblemen stood in rank and file. The Crown Prince Frederic, in his
letters to his confidential friends, spoke often with aversion and
scorn of this passion of the King, but he had inherited it to a certain
extent, and the Prussian army have not yet ceased to take pride in it.
It extended to other princes also, especially to such as were attached
to the Hohenzollerns, the Dessauers, and Brunswickers. In 1806, Duke
Ferdinand of Brunswick, who was mortally wounded at Auerstadt, carried
on a systematic dealing in men for his regiment at Halberstadt; in his
own company the first rank were six foot, and the smallest man was five
foot nine; all the companies were taller than the first regiment of
guards is now. But in other armies also there was somewhat of this
predilection. At the end of the last century, an able Saxon officer
lamented that the first and tallest regiment in the Saxon army could
not measure with the smallest of the Prussians.[6]

Not less remarkable was the relation in which King Frederic William
stood to his officers. He heartily feared and hated the wily sagacity
of the diplomats and higher officials, but he readily confided his
secret thoughts to the simple, sturdy, straightforward character of his
officers, which was sometimes a mask. It was a favourite fancy to
consider himself as their comrade. Many were the hours in which he
treated as his equals many who wore the sash. He used to greet with a
kiss all the superior officers down to the major, if he had not seen
them for a long time. Once he affronted the Major Von Jürgass by using
the opprobrious word by which officers then denoted a studious man; the
drunken man replied, "That was the speech of a cowardly rascal," and
then got up and left the party. The King declared that he could not
allow that to pass, and was ready to take his revenge for the insult
with sword or pistol. When those present protested against this,
the King asked angrily how otherwise he could obtain satisfaction
for his injured honour? They contrived a means of doing it by
lieutenant-Colonel Von Einsiedel taking the King's place in the
battalion, and fighting the duel in his stead. The duel took place,
Einsiedel was wounded in the arm; for this the King filled his knapsack
full of thalers, and commanded him to carry the heavy burden home. The
King could not forget that as Crown Prince he had never risen in the
service beyond a Colonel, and that a Field-Marshal was higher than
himself. He therefore lamented in the "_Tabak's Collegium_,"[7] that he
had not been able to remain with King William of England: "He would
certainly have made a great man of me, he could even have made me
Statholder of Holland." And when it was maintained in reply that he
himself was a greater King, he answered: "You speak according to your
judgment; he would have taught me how to command the armies of all
Europe. Do you know of anything greater?" So much did this strange
Prince feel the not having become Field-Marshal. When he sat dying in
his wooden chair, had cast behind him all earthly cares, and was
observing with curiosity the process of dying in himself, he desired
the funeral horse to be fetched from the stable, and in accordance with
the old custom of sending it as a legacy from the Colonel to the
General in command, he ordered the horse to be taken on his behalf to
Leopold Von Dessau, and the grooms to be flogged because they had not
put the right housings on him.[8] Such was the Prince whose example was
followed by the whole nobility of his country and in his army. Already
under the great Elector had a sovereign contempt for all education
displayed itself but too frequently in the army; already had such a
repugnance to all learning been instilled into the early deceased
Electoral Prince Karl Emil, by the officers around him, that he
maintained that he who studied and learnt Latin was a coward. In the
"_Tabak's Collegium_" of King Frederic William, still worse expressions
were at first applied to this class of men. With the King himself there
was undoubtedly an alteration in the last years of his life, but this
tone of indifference to all knowledge which did not bear upon their own
profession, remained with most of the Prussian officers till this
century, in spite of all the endeavours of Frederic the Great. In 1790
the people still used the term, a Frederic William's officer, for a
tall thin man, in a short blue coat, with a long sword and a tight
cravat, who was spruce and earnest in all his actions as in service and
had learnt little. About the same time Lafontaine, chaplain to the
regiment Von Thadden, at Halle, complained of the little education of
the officers. Once after giving them an historical lecture, a valiant
captain took him on one side and said, "You tell us things that have
happened thousands of years ago, God knows where; will you not tell us
one thing more? How do you know this?" And when the chaplain gave him
an explanation, the officer answered, "Curious! I thought it had always
been as it is now in Prussia." The same captain could not read writing
hand, but was a brave, trustworthy man.[9]

But King Frederic William I. did not wish that his officers should
remain quite uninformed. He caused the sons of poor noblemen to be
educated at his cost, in the great cadet institution at Berlin, and
practised in the service under the care of able officers; the most
intelligent he employed as pages, and in small services as guards in
the castle. As a rule, in Prussia, no poor nobleman had to provide for
the advancement of his son; the King did it for him. The nobility, it
was said, were the nursery for the spontoon. As soon as the boy was
fourteen years old he wore the same coat of blue cloth as the King and
his Princes; for as yet there were no epaulets or distinctions in the
embroidery,--only the regiments were denoted by marks of distinction.
Every Prince of the Prussian family had to serve and become an officer,
like the son of the poorest nobleman. It was remarked by contemporaries
that in the battle of Mollwitz ten princes of the King of Prussia's
family were in the army. It had not previously been the custom
anywhere, or at any time, that the King should consider himself as an
officer, and the officer as on an equality with the princes.

By this comrade-training, the officers were placed in a position such
as they had never had in any nation. It is true that all the faults of
a privileged order were strikingly perceptible in them. Besides their
coarseness, love of drinking and gluttony, the rage for duelling, the
old passion of the German army, was not eradicated, although the same
Hohenzollern, who had himself wished to fight with his Major, was
inexorable in punishing with death every officer who killed another in
a duel. But if such a "brave fellow" saved himself by flight, the King
rejoiced if other governments promoted him. The duel was not then
carried on in Prussia according to the usages of the Thirty Years' War:
there were more seconds, and the number of passages was fixed; they
fought on horseback with pistols and on foot with a sword. Before the
combat the opponents shook hands--nay, they embraced each other, and
exchanged forgiveness in case of death; if they were pious they went
beforehand to confession and the Lord's Supper; no blow could be given
till the opponent was in a position to use his sword; in case he fell
to the ground or was disarmed, generosity was a duty; if anyone wished
for a fatal result, he spread out his mantle, or, if like the officers
after 1710 he wore none, he traced with his sword on the ground a
square grave. After the reconciliation followed a banquet. Frequent and
unpunished was the presumption of the officers toward the civilian
officials, and brutal violence against the weak. Even the sensitiveness
of officers for their honour, which then developed itself in the
Prussian army, had no high moral authority; it was a very imperfect
substitute for manly virtue, for it pardoned great vices and privileged
meannesses. But it was an important step in advance for thousands of
wild disorderly men.

Through it, was first brought forth in the Prussian army a devotion on
the part of the nobles, perhaps too exclusive, to the idea of a State.
It was first in the army of the Hohenzollerns that the idea penetrated
into the minds of both officers and soldiers, that a man owed his life
to his father-land. In no part of Germany have brave soldiers been
wanting to die for their banner; but the merit of the Hohenzollerns,
the rough, reckless leaders of a wild army, was, that while they
themselves lived, worked and did good and evil for their State, with
unbounded devotion, they also knew how to give to their army, besides
respect for their flag, a patriotic feeling of duty. From the school of
Frederic William I. sprang forth the army with which Frederic II. won
his battles, which made the Prussian State of the last century the most
terrible power in Europe, and by its blood and its victories excited in
the whole nation the enthusiastic feeling that within the German
frontiers was a fatherland, of which every individual might be proud,
and to struggle and to die for which would bring the highest honour and
the highest fame to every child of the country.

And this advance in German civilisation was contributed to, not only by
the favoured men who, with gorgets and sashes, sat as comrades with the
Colonel Frederic William on the stools of his "collegium," but also by
the much tormented soldiers, who were constrained by blows to discharge
their guns for their Sovereign's State.

But before speaking of the advantages of the government of a great
King, we will give a narrative, by a Prussian recruit and deserter, of
the sufferings occasioned by the old military system, in which the life
of an insignificant individual is delineated.

The narrator is the Swiss Ulrich Bräcker, the man of Toggenburg, whose
autobiography has been often printed,[10] and it is one of the most
instructive accounts that we possess of the life of the people. The
biography contains, in the first part, an abundance of characteristic
and pleasing features; the description of a poor family in a remote
valley; the bitter struggle with poverty; the doings of the herdsmen;
the first love of the young man; the cunning with which he was
kidnapped by the Prussian recruiting officer; and his compulsory
military service up to the battle of Lowositz; his flight home, and
subsequent weary struggle for existence; the description of his
household; and, finally, the resignation of a sensitive, enthusiastic
nature which, partly by its own fault, was disturbed in the firm tenor
of its own life, by a dreamy tendency and passionate ebullitions. The
poor man of Toggenburg displays, throughout his detailed statement, a
poetical and touching child-like spirit, a passionate desire to read,
reflect, and form himself--in short, a sensitive organisation which was
ruled by humours and phantasies.

Ulrich Bräcker was at his home in Toggenburg, with his father, occupied
in felling wood, when an acquaintance of the family, a wandering
miller, approached the workers, and advised the honest, simple Bräcker
to go from the valley to the city, in order to make his fortune there.
Amid the blessings of parents and sisters, the honest youth wanders
with the friend of the family to Schaffhausen; there he was taken to an
inn, where he made acquaintance with a foreign officer. When his
companion accidentally absented himself for a short time, he agreed to
remain with the officer as servant. The family friend returns, and is
highly irate, not that Ulrich had entered into service, but that he had
done this without his interposition; and had thus diminished his
commission fee. It turned out afterwards that he himself had carried
off the son of his countryman, in order to sell him, and that he had
intended to ask twenty _Friedrichsdor_ for him. Ulrich, dressed in a
new livery, lived for a time very jovially as servant of his dissipated
master--the Italian Markoni--without concerning himself particularly
about the secret transactions of the latter. He felt comfortable in his
new position, and wrote a succession of cheerful letters to his parents
and his love. At last his master made use of a lie to send him further
into the country, and finally to Berlin; he there discovered, with
horror, that his beautiful livery and his jovial life had been nothing
but a deceit practised on him. His master was a recruiting officer, and
he himself a recruit. From this point he shall relate his own fate:--

"It was on the 8th of April that we entered Berlin, and I in vain
inquired for my master, who, as I afterwards learnt, had arrived eight
days before us. When Labrot brought me into the Krausenstrasse in
Friedrichstadt, showed me to a lodging, and then left me, saying
shortly: 'There, messieur! stay till you get further orders!' Hang it!
thought I, what is all this? It is certainly not even an inn. As I thus
wondered, a soldier came. Christian Zittermann, and took me with him to
his room, where there were already two sons of Mars. Now there was much
wondering and inquiring, who I was? why I had come? and the like. I
could not well understand their language. I replied shortly: 'I come
from Switzerland, and am lacquey to his Excellency Herr Lieutenant
Markoni; the sergeants have shown me here; but I should like to know
whether my master is arrived at Berlin, and where he lives.' Here the
fellows began to laugh, whereupon I could have cried, and none of them
would hear of such an Excellency. Meanwhile they brought me a very
stiff mess of pease porridge. I eat of it with little appetite.

"We had hardly finished, when an old thin fellow entered the room, who
I now saw must be more than a common soldier. He was a sergeant. He
carried a soldier's uniform on his arm, which he spread upon the table,
laid beside it a six groschen piece, and said: 'That is for you, my
son! I will bring you directly some ammunition bread.' 'What? for me?'
answered I, 'from whom? what for?' 'Why your uniform and pay, lad!
what's the use of asking questions? You are a recruit.' 'How? what? a
recruit?' answered I; 'God forbid! I have never thought of such a
thing. No, never in my life. I am Markoni's servant. That was what I
agreed for and nothing else. No man can tell me otherwise.' 'But I tell
you, fellow, that you are a soldier, I can answer for that. There is no
help for it.' I: 'Ah, if my master Markoni were but here!' He: 'You
will not soon get a sight of him. Would you not rather be a servant to
our King, than to his lieutenant?' Therewith he went away. 'For God's
sake, Herr Zittermann,' I continued, 'what does this mean?' 'Nothing,
sir,' answered he, 'but that you, like I, and the other gentlemen
there, are soldiers, and consequently all brothers, and that no
opposition will avail, except to take you to the guard-house, where you
will have bread and water, have your hands bound, and be flogged till
your ribs crack, and you are satisfied.' I: 'By my troth that would be
shameful, wicked!' He: 'Believe me upon my word it will be so, and
nothing else.' I: 'Then I will complain to the King.' Here they all
laughed loud. He: 'You will never see him.' I: 'To whom else can I
complain?' He: 'To our Major, if you choose. But that will be all in
vain.' I: 'I will try, however, whether it will avail!' The lads
laughed again." (The Major kicked him out with blows.)

"In the afternoon the sergeant brought me my ammunition bread, together
with my musket and side-arms and so forth, and asked whether I now
thought better of it? 'Why not?' answered Zittermann for me; 'he is the
best lad in the world.' Then they led me into the uniform room, and
fitted on me a pair of pantaloons, shoes and boots, gave me a hat,
necktie, stockings, and so forth. Then I had to go with some twenty
other recruits to Colonel Latorf. They took us into a room as large as
a church, brought in some tattered flags, and commanded each of us to
take hold of a corner. An Adjutant, or whoever he was, read us a whole
heap of the articles of war, and repeated some words which most of them
murmured after him; but I did not open my mouth, but thought of what
pleased me, I believe it was of Aennchen; he then waved the banner over
our heads and dismissed us. Hereupon I went to a cook-shop and got
something to eat, together with a mug of beer. For this I had to pay
two groschen. Now I had only four out of the six remaining to me; with
these I had to provide for myself for four days, and they would
scarcely last two. Upon this calculation I began to make great
lamentations to my comrades. One of them, called Eran, said to me with
a smile, 'You will soon learn. Now it does not signify to you; for have
you not something to sell? For example your whole servant's livery;
thus you are at present doubly armed; all that will turn into silver.
And as to your _ménage_, only observe what others do. Three, four or
five, club together to buy corn, peas, and potatoes, and the like, and
cook for themselves. In the morning they have a half-penny worth of bad
brandy and a piece of ammunition bread; in the middle of the day they
get a half-penny worth of soup, and take a piece of ammunition bread;
in the evening they have two penny worth of small beer, and again the
bread.' 'But that, by Jove, is a cursed life,' I answered; he said,
'Yes! thus one gets on, and not otherwise. A soldier must learn this;
for many other things are necessary: pipeclay, powder, blacking, oil,
emery, and soap, and a hundred other things.' I: 'And that is all to be
paid for out of six groschen?' He: 'Yes! and still more; as for
example, the pay for washing, for cleaning the weapons and so forth, if
you cannot do those things yourself.' Thereupon we went to our
quarters, and I got on as well as I could.

"During the first week I still had a holiday; I went about the town to
all the places of drill, and saw how the officers inspected and flogged
the soldiers, so that beforehand for very fear, great drops of sweat
broke out on my brow. I therefore begged of Zittermann to show me at
home how to handle my weapons. 'You will learn that by-and-by,' said
he, 'but if you are dexterous you will get on like lightning.'
Meanwhile he was so good as really to show me everything, how to keep
my weapon clean, how to squeeze myself into my uniform, and to dress my
hair in a soldierly style, and so forth. After Eran's counsel, I sold
my boots, and bought with the money a wooden chest to hold my linen. In
quarters I practised myself in exercising, read the Halle hymn-book or
prayed. Then I walked by the Spree and saw there hundreds of soldiers
employed in lading and unlading merchants' wares; the timber yard also
was full of soldiers at work. Another time I went to the barracks and
so forth; I found everywhere the like, a hundred sorts of business
carried on, from works of art to the distaff. If I came to the
guard-house, I there found those who played, drank, and jested; others
who quietly smoked their pipes and conversed, some few who read an
edifying book and explained it to the others. In the cook-shops and
breweries, things went on after the same fashion. In Berlin we had
among the military--as I think indeed is the case in all great
cities--people from all the four quarters of the world, of all nations
and religions, of all characters and of every profession by which men
can earn their bread.

"The second week I had to attend every day on the parade-ground, where
I unexpectedly found three of my country-people. Shärer, Bachmann, and
Gästli, who were all in the same regiment with me--Itzenplitz--both
were in the company called Lüderitz. At first I had to learn to march
under a crabbed corporal, with a crooked nose, by name Mengke; this
fellow I hated like death; when he hit me on the feet the blood went to
my head. Under his hands I should have learnt nothing all my days. This
was observed by Hevel, who man[oe]uvred with his people on the same
ground, so he exchanged me for another, and took me into his platoon.
This was a heartfelt pleasure to me. Now I learned in an hour more than
in ten days with the other.

"Shärer was as poor as I; but he got an augmentation of two groschen
and a double portion of bread, for the Major thought a good bit more of
him than of me. Meanwhile we loved each other as brothers; as long as
one had anything the other would share it with him. Bachmann, on the
contrary, who also lodged with us, was a niggardly fellow, and did not
agree with us; nevertheless the hours always appeared as long as day
when we could not be together. As soon as our drills were over, we flew
together to Schottmann's cellar, drank our mug of Ruppin or Kotbuss
beer, smoked a pipe, and trilled a Swiss song. The Brandenburgers and
Pomeranians always listened to us with pleasure. Some gentlemen even
sent for us express to a cook-shop, to sing the _ranz-des-vackes_. The
musicians' pay principally consisted in nasty soup, but in such a
situation one must be content with still less.

"We often related to one another our manner of life at home; how well
off we were and how free; and what a cursed life we led here, and the
like. Then we made plans for our escape. Sometimes we entertained hopes
that we might succeed; at other times we saw before us insurmountable
difficulties, and we were principally deterred by thinking of the
consequences of an unsuccessful attempt. We heard every week fearful
stories of deserters brought back, who, even when they had been so
cunning as to disguise themselves in the dresses of sailors and other
artisans, or even as women, and had concealed themselves in tuns and
casks, and the like, had yet been caught. Then we had to look on while
they ran the gauntlet eight times through two hundred men, till they
sank down breathless--and then again the following day; their clothes
were torn off from their hacked backs, and the punishment was repeated
till the coagulated blood hung over their trousers. Then Shärer and I
looked at each other trembling and deadly pale, and whispered to one
another, 'Cursed barbarians!' What took place also on the drill-ground
gave occasion for similar observations. There was no end of the curses
and scourgings by barbarous Junkers, and again the lamentations of
those who had been flogged. We ourselves were always the first on the
ground, and played our part vigorously; but it did not the less give us
pain to see others so unmercifully treated for every little trifle, and
ourselves so ill-used year after year; to stand also for five whole
hours laced up in our uniforms as if screwed to the spot, marching to
and fro as straight as poles, and to perform uninterrupted manual
exercise with lightning rapidity; and this all at the command of
officers who stood before us with furious countenances and raised
sticks, every moment threatening to beat us about the head as if we
were cabbages. Under such treatment, a fellow with the strongest nerves
must become paralysed, and the most patient, raving. And when we
returned, wearied to death, to our quarters, we had to go headlong to
our washing, to rub out every spot; for with the exception of the blue
coat, our whole uniform was white. Weapons, cartouche-boxes, belt,
every button on the uniform, all must be cleaned as bright as a mirror.
If there was anything in the least wrong in any of these articles, or
if a hair was not right on our heads when we appeared on parade, we
were greeted with a heavy shower of blows. It is true that our officers
had received the strictest orders to examine us from head to foot; but
the devil a bit did we recruits know about it, and we thought it was
the custom of war.

"At last came the great epoch, when it was said '_Allons_, to the
field!' Now came the route--tears flowed in abundance from citizens,
soldiers' wives, and the like. Even the soldiers themselves, namely,
those of the country who had wives and children to leave behind, were
quite cast down, full of sorrow, and grief: the strangers, on the
contrary, secretly shouted for joy, and exclaimed, 'At last, God be
praised; our release will come!' Every one was loaded like mules, first
buckled round with his sword belt; then with the cartouche-box over his
shoulder, with a long five-inch strap; over the other shoulder the
knapsack, with linen, &c.; also the haversack, filled with bread and
other forage. Besides this, every one must carry a portion of field
utensils, a flask, kettle, a hatchet, or such like, all fastened by a
thong; and then a flint, or something of that sort: thus had we five
straps upon the breast, one across the other, so that in the beginning
each one thought that he would be suffocated with such a burden. Then
there was the tight-fitting uniform, and such dog-day heat, that I many
times thought that I was going upon red hot coals; and if I opened the
breast of my coat to get a little air, steam came out as from a boiling
kettle. Often I had not a dry thread on my body, and almost fainted
from thirst.

"Thus we marched the first day, the 22nd of August, out of the
Köpeniker gate, and marched for four hours to the little town of
Köpenik, where from thirty to fifty of us were quartered on the
citizens, who were obliged to feed us for one groschen. _Potz plunder!_
how things did go on here! Ha! how we did eat! But only think how many
great hungry fellows we were! We were all calling out, 'Here, Canaille,
fetch us what you have in your most secret corner.' At night the rooms
were filled with straw; there we lay all in rows against the walls.
Truly a curious household! In every house there was an officer, to keep
good discipline, but they were often the worst.

"'Hitherto has the Lord helped!' These words were the first text of our
Chaplain at Pirna. Oh, yes, thought I, that He has, and will, I truly
hope, help me further to my Fatherland. For what are your wars to me?

"Meanwhile every morning we received orders to load quickly; this gave
rise among the old soldiers to the following talk: 'What shall we have
to-day? to-day certainly something is afoot!' Then we young ones
perspired at all pores if we marched by a bush or a wood, and had to be
on the alert. Then every one silently pricked up his ears, expecting
each moment a fiery hail and his death; and when we came again into the
open, looked right and left, how he could most conveniently escape; for
we had always the cuirassiers, dragoons, and other soldiers of the
enemy on both sides.

"At last on the 22nd September, the alarm was sounded, and we received
orders to break up. In a moment all were in motion; in a few minutes a
camp a mile in length--like the largest city--was broken up, and
_Allons_, march! Now we proceeded into the valley, made a bridge at
Pirna, and formed above the town, in front of the Saxon camp, in a
line, as if for running the gauntlet; of which the end reached the
Pirna gate, and through which the whole Saxon army in fours passed
having first laid down their arms; and one may imagine what mocking,
taunting words they must have heard during the whole long passage. Some
went sorrowfully with bent heads; others defiant and reckless; and
others again with a smile, for which the Prussian mocking-birds would
gladly have paid them off. I know not, neither do many thousand others,
what were the circumstances which occasioned the surrender of this
great army. On the same day we marched a good bit further, and pitched
our camp near Lilienstein.

"We were often attacked by the Imperial Pandours, or a hail of shot
came upon us from the carabineers from behind the bushes, so that many
were killed on the spot and still more wounded. But when our artillery
directed a few guns towards the copse, the enemy fled head foremost.
These miserable trifles did not frighten me much. I should have become
soon accustomed to them, and I often thought, when the thing takes
place, it is not so bad after all.

"Early on the morning of the 1st of October we had to fall into rank
and march through a narrow valley towards the great valley. We could
not see far for the thick fog. But when we had reached the plain and
joined the great army, we advanced in three divisions, and perceived in
the distance, through the fog as through a veil, the enemy's troops on
the plain over against the Bohemian city of Lowositz. It was Imperial
cavalry, for we never got sight of the infantry, as it had intrenched
itself near the said city. About 6 o'clock the thunder of the artillery
both from our front line and also from the Imperial batteries was so
great that the balls whizzed through our regiment, which was in the
centre. Hitherto I had always hoped to escape before a battle, but now
I saw no means of doing so either before or behind me, neither to the
right nor to the left. Meanwhile we continued to advance. Then all my
courage oozed away; I could have crept into the bowels of the earth,
and one could see the same terror and deadly pallor on all faces, even
those who had hitherto affected so much valour. The empty brandy flasks
(such as every soldier has) flew among the balls through the air; most
drank up their little provision to the last drop, for they said,
'To-day we want courage, to-morrow we may need no drams!' Now we
advanced quite under the guns, where we changed places with the first
division. _Potz Himmel!_ how the iron fragments whizzed about our
heads,--falling now before and now behind us into the earth, so that
stones and sods flew into the air,--and some into the middle of us, so
that some of our people were picked off from the ranks as if they had
been blades of straw. Straight before us we saw nothing but the enemy's
cavalry, which made movements in all directions; now extended
themselves lengthways, now as a half moon, then drew together again in
triangles and squares. Now our cavalry advanced, we made an opening and
let them through to gallop on the enemy. There was a hailstorm of
missiles rattling, and sabres glittering as they cut them down; but it
lasted only a quarter of an hour; our cavalry were beaten by the
Austrians and pursued almost under our guns. What a spectacle it was to
see: horses with their riders hanging to the stirrup, others with their
entrails trailing on the ground. Meanwhile we continued to stand under
the enemy's fire till towards 11 o'clock, without our left wing closing
with the skirmishers, although the fire was very hot on the right. Many
thought we were to storm the Imperial intrenchments. I was no longer in
such terror as at the beginning, although the gunners of the culverins
were carried off close on both sides of me, and the field of battle was
already covered with dead and wounded. About 12 o'clock orders came for
our regiment, together with two others (I believe Bevern and
Kalkstein), to march back. Now we thought we were going to the camp,
and that all danger was over. We hastened therefore with cheerful steps
up the steep vineyard, filled our hats with beautiful red grapes, eat
them with heartfelt pleasure, and neither I nor any near me expected
anything disagreeable, although from the heights we saw our brothers
beneath, still under fire and smoke, and heard a fearful thundering
noise; we could not tell which side was victorious. Meanwhile our
leaders took us still higher up the hill, on the summit of which was a
narrow pass betwixt rocks, which led down to the other side. As soon,
however, as our advanced-guard had reached this spot, there was a
terrible storm of musketry; and now we first discovered what was in the
wind. Some thousand Imperial Pandours were marching up the other side
of the hill in order to take our army in rear; this had been betrayed
to our leaders, and we were to anticipate them; only five minutes later
and they would have won the heights, and we should probably have been
worsted. There was indescribable bloodshed before we could drive the
Pandours from that thicket. Our advanced troops suffered severely, but
those behind pushed forward headlong till the heights were gained.

"Then we had to stumble over heaps of dead and wounded, and the
Pandours went pell-mell down the vineyard, leaping over a wall one
after another into the plain. Our native Prussians and Brandenburgers
attacked the Pandours like furies. I myself was almost stupefied with
haste and heat, and felt neither fear nor horror. I discharged almost
all my cartridges as fast as I could, till my musket was nearly
red-hot, and I was obliged to carry it by the strap; meanwhile I do not
believe that I hit a living soul, it all went in the air. The Pandours
posted themselves again on the plain by the water before the city of
Lowositz, and blazed away valiantly up into the vineyard, so that many
in front of and near me bit the ground. Prussians and Pandours lay
everywhere intermingled, and if one of these last still stirred, he was
knocked on the head with the butt end of the gun, or run through the
body with the bayonet. And now the combat was renewed in the plain. But
who can describe how it went on amidst the smoke and fog from Lowositz,
where it rattled and thundered as if heaven and earth would be rent in
twain, and where all the senses were stunned by the ceaseless rumbling
of many hundred drums, the shrill and heart-stirring tones of all kinds
of martial music, the commands of so many officers, the bellowing of
their adjutants, and the death yells and howling imprecations of so
many thousands of miserable, maimed, dying victims of this day. At this
time it might be about three o'clock, Lowositz being on fire; many
hundred Pandours, on whom our advanced troops again broke like wild
lions, sprang into the water, and the town was then attacked. At this
time I was certainly not in the van, but in the vineyard above, in the
rear rank, of whom many, as I have said, more nimble than myself,
leaped down from one wall over another, in order to hasten to the help
of their brother soldiers. As I was thus standing on a little
elevation, and looking down upon the plain as into a dark storm of
thunder and hail, this moment appeared to me to be the time--or rather
my good angel warned me--to save myself by flight. I looked therefore
all round me. Before me all was fire and mist; behind me there were
still many of our troops hastening after the enemy, and to the right
two great armies in full order of battle. But at last I saw that to the
left there were vineyards, bushes, and copseland, only here and there a
few men Prussians, Pandours, and Hussars, and of these more dead and
wounded than living. There, there, on that side, thought I; otherwise
it would be purely impossible.

"I glided, therefore, at first with slow step, a little to the left,
through the vines. Some Prussians hastened past me. 'Come, come,
brother!' said they; 'victoria!' I replied not a word, but feigned to
be wounded, and went on slowly, but truly with fear and trembling. As
soon as I had got so far, that no one could see me, I mended my pace,
looked right and left like a hunter, viewed again from a distance--and
for the last time in my life--the murderous death struggle; rushed at
full speed past a thicket full of dead Hussars, Pandours, and horses;
ran breathlessly along the course of the river, and found myself in a
valley. On the other side some Imperial soldiers came towards me, who
had equally stolen away from the battle, and when they saw me thus
making off levelled their guns at me for the third time,
notwithstanding I had reversed my arms, and given them with my hat the
usual sign. They did not fire; so I came to the resolution to run
towards them. If I had taken another course they would, as I afterwards
learnt, have certainly fired. When I came up to them, I gave myself up
as a deserter, and they took my weapon away from me, with the promise
that they would afterwards restore it. But he who had taken upon
himself to promise it, stole away and took the gun with him. So let it
be! They then took me to the nearest village, Scheniseck (it might be a
good hour from Lowositz); here there was a ferry over the water, but
only one boat for the passage. And there was a piteous shrieking and
wailing from men, women, and children; each wished to go first over the
water, for fear of the Prussians; for all thought they were close at
hand. I also was not one of the last to jump in with a troop of women.
If the ferryman had not cast out some we should have been drowned. On
the other side of the stream stood a Pandour guard. My companions led
me up to them, and these red-moustachioed fellows received me in the
most polite way; gave me, though neither of us understood a word the
other said, tobacco and brandy, and a safe conduct, I believe, to
Leutmeritz, where I passed the night among genuine Bohemians, and truly
did not know whether I could safely lay my head to rest; but
fortunately my head was in such confusion from the tumult of the day,
that this important point signified very little to me. The following
day (Oct. 2) I went with a detachment to the Imperial camp at Buda.
Here I met two hundred other Prussian deserters, each of whom had, so
to speak, taken his own way and his own time.

"We had permission to see everything in the camp. Officers and soldiers
stood in crowds around us to whom we were expected to tell more than we
ourselves knew. Some, however, knew how to brag, and flatter their
present hosts, concocting a hundred lies derogatory to the Prussians.
There were also among the Imperialists many arrant braggadocios, and
the smallest dwarf boasted of having, in his own flight, killed, in
their flight, I know not how many long-legged Brandenburgers. After
that they took us to fifty prisoners of the Prussian cavalry, a
pitiable sight! Scarcely one who was not wounded; some cut about the
face, others on the neck, others over the ears, shoulders, or legs, &c.
There was amongst all a groaning and moaning. How fortunate did these
poor fellows esteem us who had escaped a similar fate, and how thankful
were we to God! We passed the night in the camp, and each received a
ducat for the expenses of his journey. They sent us then with a cavalry
escort--there were two hundred of us--to a Bohemian village, from
whence, after a short sleep, we went, the following day, to Prague.
There we divided ourselves, and obtained passports for six, ten, or
even as many as twelve, who were going the same way. We were a
wonderful medley of Swiss, Suabians, Saxons, Bavarians, Tyrolese,
Italians, French, Poles, and Turks. Six of us got one passport for
Ratisbon."

Here we end with Ulrich Bräcker. He arrived happily at home, but no one
recognised the moustachioed soldier in his uniform. His sister
concealed herself; his love had been faithless and married another;
only the mother's heart discovered her son in that wild-looking figure.
But his later life in the lonely valley was ruined by the adventures he
had passed through. A strange, uneasy element now pervaded his
character--irritable restlessness, covetousness, and a distaste to
labour.

But Frederic II. wrote, after the battle of Lowositz, to Schwerin:
"Never have any troops done such wonders of valour since I have had the
honour of commanding them."

He whose narrative we have had was one of them.



                             CHAPTER VIII.

                    THE STATE OF FREDERIC THE GREAT.
                                (1700.)


What was it that after the Thirty Years' War fixed the eyes of
politicians upon the small State on the north-eastern frontier of
Germany, towards Sweden and Poland, that was struggling against the
Hapsburgers and Bourbons? The heritage of the Hohenzollerns was no
favoured fertile country, in which the peasant dwelt comfortably on
well-cultivated acres, or to which rich merchants brought in galleons,
Italian silks, and the spices and ingots of the new world. It was a
poor devastated, sandy country; the cities were burnt, the huts of the
country people demolished, the fields uncultivated, many square miles
denuded of men and beasts of burden, and nature restored to its
primitive state. When Frederic William, in 1640, assumed the Electoral
hat, he found nothing but contested claims to scattered territories, of
about 1450 square miles,[11] and in all the fortresses of his family
domains, were established domineering conquerors. Out of an insecure
desert did this clever double-dealing Prince establish his State, with
a cunning and recklessness in regard to his neighbours which excited a
sensation even in that unscrupulous period, but at the same time with
an heroic vigour and enlarged views, by which he more than once
attained to a higher conception of German honour, than the Emperor or
any other prince of the Empire.

Nevertheless, when the astute politician died in 1688, what he left
behind was still only a small nation, not to be reckoned among the
Powers of Europe. For though his sovereignty comprehended 2034 square
miles, the population, at the utmost, only amounted to 1,300,000. When
Frederic II., a century later, assumed the dominions of his ancestors,
he only inherited a population of 2,240,000 souls, far less than is now
to be found in the one province of Silesia. What was it then, that,
immediately after the battles of the Thirty Years' War, excited the
jealousy of all the governments, especially of the Imperial house, and
that made such bitter opponents of the hitherto warm friends of the
Brandenbergers? For two centuries, both Germans and foreigners placed
their hopes on this new State; equally long have Germans and
foreigners, first with scorn and then with hatred, called it an
artificial superstructure, which could not maintain itself against
violent storms, and which had unjustifiably intruded itself among the
Powers of Europe. How came it at last that, after the death of Frederic
the Great, unprejudiced judges declared that it would be better to
cease prophesying the downfall of this much-hated State? After each
prostration it rose so vigorously, its injuries and wounds from war
were so quickly healed, as has not been the case with any other; wealth
and intelligence assumed larger proportions there than in any portion
of Germany!

Undoubtedly it was a peculiar nature, a new phase of German character,
which shewed itself in the Hohenzollerns and their people in the
conquered Sclavonian territory. It appears that there were greater
contrasts of character there; for the virtues and failings of its
governors, the greatness and weakness of their policy, appeared there
in glaring contrast: narrow-mindedness became more striking,
shortcomings appeared more conspicuous, and that which was worthy of
admiration, more wonderful. It appeared that this State produced
everything that was most strange and uncommon, and only the quiet
mediocrity, which may elsewhere be useful and bearable, could not exist
there without injury.

Much of this arose from the position of the country: it had as
contiguous neighbours Swedes, Sclavonians, French, and Dutch. There was
scarcely a question of European politics which did not produce welfare
or injury to this State; scarce a complication which active princes did
not take advantage of to put in claims. The failing power of Sweden,
the already beginning process of dissolution in Poland, occasioned
perplexity of views; the preponderating power of France, the suspicious
friendship of Holland, necessitated prompt and vigorous foresight.
After the first year in which the Elector Frederic William took
possession, by force and cunning, of his own fortresses, it became
manifest that there, in a corner of the German soil, a powerful,
circumspect military government would not be wanting for the
preservation of Germany. After the beginning of the French war, in
1674, Europe beheld with astonishment the wary policy that proceeded
from this little spot, which undertook, with heroic daring, to defend
the west frontier of Germany against the all-powerful King of France.

There was, also, perhaps something peculiar in the character of the
Brandenburg people, in which both princes and subjects had an equal
share. The district of Prussia, up to the time of Frederic the Great,
had given to Germany comparatively few men of learning, poets, or
artists; even the passionate zeal of the period of the Reformation
appeared there to be damped. The people who dwelt in the frontier
countries, mostly of Lower Saxon origin, with a small mixture of
Sclavonian blood, were a hard, rough race, not very pleasing in their
modes of life, of uncommonly sharp understanding and sober judgment. In
the capital they had been, from ancient times, sarcastic and voluble in
speech; but in all the provinces they were capable of great exertion,
laborious, tenacious, and of great power of endurance.

But the character of the princes produced still more effect than even
the situation or character of the people. Their State was constituted
differently from any other since the days of Charles the Great. Many
princely houses have furnished a succession of Sovereigns who have been
the fortunate aggrandisers of their States, as the Bourbons, who have
collected wide territories into one great kingdom; many families of
princes have produced generations of valiant warriors, none more so
than the Vasas and the Protestant Wittelsbacher in Sweden. But there
have been no trainers of the people like the old Hohenzollerns. As
great landed proprietors on the desolated country they brought
about an increase of population, guided the cultivation, for almost
150 years laboured as strict economists, thought, tolerated, dared
and did injustice, in order to create for their State a people like
themselves--hard, parsimonious, discreet, daring, and ambitious.

In this sense one has a right to admire the providential character of
the Prussian State. Of the four princes who have governed it, since the
German War up to the day when the grey-headed Abbot closed his weary
eyes in the monastery of Sans Souci, each one, with his virtues and
failings, has acted as a necessary supplement to his predecessor. The
Elector Frederic William, the greatest statesman from the school of the
German War--the pompous Frederic, the first King--the parsimonious
despot Frederic William I.--and, finally, he in whom were concentrated
almost all the talents and great qualities of his ancestors, were the
flowers of their race.

Life in the King's castle in Berlin was very cheerless when Frederic
grew up; few of the citizens' homes at that rude time were so poor in
love and sunshine. One may doubt whether it was the King his father, or
the Queen, who was most to blame for the disorder of the family life,
both through failings of their nature, which, in the ceaseless rubs of
home, ever became greater;--the King, a wonderful tyrant, with a soft
heart but rough and violent, who wished to compel love and confidence,
with a keen understanding, but so unwary that he was always in danger
of being the victim of rogues, and from the gloomy knowledge of his
weakness became suspicious, stubborn, and violent; the Queen, on the
other hand, an insignificant woman, with a cold heart, a strong feeling
of her princely dignity, and much inclination to intrigue, neither
cautious nor taciturn. Both had the best intentions, and exerted
themselves honourably to make their children good and capable men, but
both injudiciously disturbed the sound development of the childish
soul. The mother had so little tact as to make her children, even in
their tender youth, the confidants of her chagrins and intrigues; for
in her chambers there was no end of complaints, rancour, and derision,
over the undue parsimony of the King, the blows which he so abundantly
distributed in his apartments, and the monotony of the daily
regulations which he enforced. The Crown Prince, Frederic, grew up as
the playfellow of his elder sister, a delicate child with brilliant
eyes and wonderfully beautiful blond hair. Punctiliously was he taught
just as much as the King wished, and that was little enough; scarcely
anything of the Latin declensions--the great King never overcame the
difficulties of the genitive and dative--French, some history, and
the necessary accomplishments of a soldier. The ladies inspired the
boy--who was giddy, and in presence of the King looked shy and
defiant--with the first interest in French literature; he himself
afterwards gave the praise to his sister, but his governess also was a
clever Frenchwoman. That this foreign acquisition was hateful to the
King, gave it additional value to the son; for, in the apartments of
the Queen, that was most certain to be praised which was most
displeasing to the strict master of the family. And when the King
delivered to his family his blustering pious speeches, then the
Princess Wilhelmine and the young Frederic looked so significantly at
one another that, at last, the faces made by one of the children
excited a childish desire to laugh, and produced an outburst of fury in
the King! Owing to this the son became, in his early years, an object
of irritation to his father. He called him an effeminate fellow, who
did not keep himself clean, and took an unmanly pleasure in dress and
games.

But from the account of his sister, in whose unsparing judgment it
appeared easier to blame than to praise, one may perceive how much the
amiability of the highly gifted boy worked upon his _entourage_;
whether he secretly read French stories with his sister, and applied
the comical characters of the novel to the whole court, or, contrary to
the most positive order, played upon the flute and lute, or visited his
sister in disguise, when they recited the _rôles_ of the French comedy
together. But even for these harmless pleasures Frederic was obliged to
have recourse to lies, deceit, and dissimulation. He was proud,
high-minded, magnanimous, with an uncompromising love of truth.
Dissimulation was so repugnant to his nature that where it was required
he would not condescend to it; and if he was compelled to an unskilful
hypocrisy, his position with his father became more difficult, the
distrust of the King greater, and the wounded self-respect of the son
was always breaking out in defiance.

Thus he grew up surrounded by spies, who conveyed his every word to the
King. With a richly gifted mind and refined intellectual yearnings, he
needed that manly society which would have been suitable for him. No
wonder that the youth went astray. The Prussian passed for a very
virtuous court in comparison with the other courts of Germany; but the
tone towards women, and the carelessness with which the most doubtful
connexions were treated, were there also very great. After a visit to
the profligate court of Dresden, Prince Frederic began to behave like
other princes of his time, and he found good comrades among his
father's young officers. We know little of him at this time, but we may
conclude that he was undoubtedly in some danger, not of being ruined,
but of passing the best years of his life amidst debts and worthless
connexions. It certainly was not the increasing displeasure of his
father that unhinged his mind at this period, so much as an inward
dissatisfaction that drove the immature youth more wildly into error.

He determined to escape to England; how his flight miscarried, and how
great was the anger of Colonel Frederic William against the deserter,
are well known. With the days of his imprisonment in Küstrin, and his
residence at Ruppin, his education began in earnest. The horrors he had
experienced had called forth in him new powers. He had borne all the
terrors of death, and the most bitter humiliation of princely pride. In
the solitude of his prison he had reflected on the great riddle of
life,--on death, and what was to follow after it. He had perceived that
nothing remained to him but submission, patience, and quiet endurance.
But bitter corroding misfortune is not a school which develops good
alone: it gives birth also to many faults. He learnt to hide his
decisions in his own breast, to look with suspicion on men and use them
as his tools, to deceive and cajole them with a cold astuteness which
was foreign to his nature. He flattered the cowardly, mean Grumbkow,
and was glad when he gradually won the bad man to his purposes; he had
for years to struggle warily against the dislike and distrust of his
hard father. His nature always resisted this humiliation, and he
endeavoured by bitter scorn to atone to his injured self-respect; his
heart, which glowed for everything noble, saved him from becoming a
hard egotist, but it did not make him milder or more conciliatory, and
when he had become a great man and a wise prince, he still retained
some traces of narrow-minded cunning from this time of servitude. The
lion had at times not been ashamed to scratch like a spiteful cat.

Yet he learnt during these years to respect some things that were
useful--the strict economical care with which his narrow-minded but
prudent father provided for the weal of his household and country.
When, to please the King, he made estimates of a lease; when he gave
himself the trouble to increase the profits of a demesne by some
hundred thalers; when he thought that the King spent more than was
fitting on his favourite fancy, and proposed to him to kidnap a tall
shepherd from Mecklenburg as a recruit,--this work was undoubtedly in
the beginning only a burdensome means of propitiating the King; for
Grumbkow had to procure him a man who made out estimates instead of
him, and the officials and exchequer officers gave him hints how, here
and there, a profit was to be made, and he always jested about the
giants, where he could venture to do so. But the new world in which he
found himself, gradually led him on to the practical interests of the
people and State. It is clear that the economy of his father was often
tyrannical and extraordinary. The King was always convinced that his
whole object was the good of the country, and therefore he took upon
himself to interfere in the most arbitrary way with the possessions and
affairs of private persons. When he commanded that no male goat should
be driven with the sheep; that all coloured sheep, grey, black, and
mixed, should be entirely got rid of within three years, and only white
wool should be permitted; when he accurately prescribed how the sample
measure of the Berlin scheffel--which, at the cost of his subjects, he
had sent throughout the country--should be locked up and preserved,
that they might not be battered; when, in order to promote the linen
and woollen trade, he commanded that his subjects should not wear the
fashionable chintz and calico, threatening with a fine of 300 thalers
and three days in the pillory, all who, after eight months, should have
in their house any cotton articles, either nightgowns, caps, or
furniture,--such measures of government appeared certainly harsh and
trivial; but the son learnt to honour the shrewd sense and benevolent
care which were the groundwork of these decrees, and he himself
gradually became familiar with a multitude of details, with which
otherwise as a prince he would not have been conversant: the value of
property, the price of the necessaries of life, the wants of the
people, and the customs, rights, and duties of life in the lower
classes. He had also a share of the self-satisfaction with which the
King boasted of this knowledge of business. When he himself became the
all-powerful administrator of his State, the incalculable advantage of
his knowledge of the people and of trade became manifest. It was owing
to this that the wise economy with which he managed his own house and
the finances of the country became possible, and that he was enabled to
advance the agriculture, trade, wealth, and education of his people by
incessant care of details. Equally with the daily accounts of his
kitchen he knew how to test the calculations concerning the crown
demesnes and forests, and the excise. His people had chiefly to thank
the years in which he was compelled to sit as assessor at the green
table at Ruppin for his power of overlooking with a sharp eye the
smallest as well as the greatest affairs. But sometimes what had been
so vexatious in his father's time happened to himself: his knowledge of
business details was not sufficient, so that here and there, just like
his father, he commanded what violently interfered with the life of his
Prussians, and could not be carried out.

The wounds inflicted upon Frederic by the great catastrophe had
scarcely been healed, when a new misfortune befell him as great almost
in its consequences as the first. The King forced a wife upon him.
Heartrending is the woe with which he strove to escape the bride chosen
for him. "I do not care how frivolous she may be, as long as she is not
a simpleton, that, I cannot bear." It was all in vain. With bitterness
and indignation did he regard this marriage shortly before it took
place. Never did he overcome the effect of this sorrow, by which his
father ruined his inward life. His most susceptible feelings, and his
loving heart, were sold in the roughest way. Not only was he made
unhappy by it, but also an excellent woman who was deserving of a
better fate. The Princess Elizabeth of Bevern had many noble qualities
of heart; she was not a simpleton, she was not ugly, and might have
passed well through the bitter criticisms of the princesses of the
royal house. But we fear that, if she had been an angel, the pride of
the son, who was subjected to the useless barbarity of compulsion,
would still have protested against her. And yet this union was not
always so cold as has been supposed. For six years did the goodness of
heart and tact of the Princess succeed in reconciling the Crown Prince
to her. In the retirement of Rheinsberg she was in fact the lady of his
house and the amiable hostess of his guests, and it was reported by the
Austrian agents that her influence was on the ascendant. But her modest
clinging nature was too deficient in the qualities calculated to fix
the attachment of an intellectual man. It was necessary for the
sprightly children of the house of Brandenburg to give vent to their
excitable natures by ready and pointed humour. The Princess, when she
was excited, was as quiet as if paralysed, and she was wanting in the
easy grace of society. This did not suit. Even the way in which she
loved her husband, dutifully and submissively, as if repelled and
overwhelmed by the greatness of his mind, was little interesting to the
Prince, who had adopted, together with French intellectual culture, not
a little of the frivolity of French society.

When Frederic became King, the Princess soon lost the very small share
she had gained in her husband's affections. His long absence during the
Silesian War finally alienated him from her. More and more distant
became their mutual intercourse; years passed without their seeing one
another; an icy brevity and coldness are perceptible in his letters;
but the high esteem in which the King held her character maintained her
outward position. His relations with women after that had little
influence on his inward feelings: even his sister of Baireuth, sickly,
nervous, and embittered by jealousy of an unfaithful husband, became,
for years, as a stranger to her brother; it was not till she had
resigned herself to her own life that this proud child of the House of
Brandenburg, aged and unhappy, again sought the heart of the brother
whose little hand had once supported her when at the feet of the stern
father. The mother also, to whom King Frederic always showed the most
marked and child-like reverence, could participate little in the
feelings of the son. His other sisters were younger, and only inclined
to make a quiet _Fronde_ in the house against him; if the King ever
condescended to show attention to a lady of the court, or a singer,
these were to the person concerned full as annoying as flattering.
Where he found beauty, grace, and womanly dignity combined, as in Frau
von Camas, the first lady of the bedchamber to his wife, the amiability
of his nature appeared by his kindly attentions to her. But, on the
whole, his life received little sunshine from his intercourse with
women, for he had experienced little of the hearty warmth of family
life; in this respect his soul was desolate. Perhaps this was fortunate
for his people, though undoubtedly fatal to his private life; the full
warmth of his manly feelings was almost exclusively reserved to his
small circle of confidants, with whom he laughed, wrote poetry,
philosophised, made plans for the future, and latterly conferred with
upon his warlike operations and dangers.

His life at Rheinsberg, after his marriage, was the best portion of his
youth. There he collected around him a number of highly-educated and
cheerful companions; the small society led a poetic life, of which an
agreeable picture has been bequeathed to us by those who partook of it.
Earnestly did Frederic labour to educate himself; easily did his
excited feelings find expression in French verse; incessantly did he
labour to acquire the delicacy of the foreign style; but his mind also
exercised itself upon more serious things. He sought ardently from the
Encyclopædians, and of Christian Wolf, an answer to the highest
questions of man; he sat bent over maps and plans of battles; and, amid
the _rôles_ of his amateur theatricals and plans of buildings, other
projects were prepared which, after a few years, were to agitate the
world.

Then came the day on which the government passed from the hands of his
dying father, who directed the officer who was to make the daily
bulletin to take his orders from the new military ruler of Prussia.
What judgment was formed of him by his political contemporaries we
discover from the character drawn of him shortly before by an Austrian
agent of the Imperial Court:--"He is agreeable, wears his own hair, has
a slouching carriage, loves the fine arts and good eating, would wish
to begin his government with some _éclat_, is a better friend of the
military than his father, has the religion of a gentleman, believes in
God and the forgiveness of sins, loves splendour and refinement, and
will newly arrange all the court offices, and bring distinguished
people to his court."[12] This prophecy was not fully justified. We
will endeavour to understand other phases of his character at this
time. The new King was a man of fiery, enthusiastic temperament,
quickly excited, and tears came readily to his eyes; with him, as with
his contemporaries, it was a passionate need to admire what was great,
and to give himself up to pathetic, soft moods of mind. With tender and
melting tones he played his adagio on the flute; like other honourable
contemporaries, it was not easy to him to give full expression in words
and verses to his inward feelings, but pathetic passages would move him
to tears. In spite of all his French maxims, the foundation of his
character was in these respects very German.

Those have judged him most unjustly who have ascribed to him a cold
heart. It is not the cold royal hearts which generally wound by their
harshness. Such as these are almost always enabled, by a smooth
graciousness and its suitable expression, to please their entourage.
The strongest expressions of antipathy are generally combined with the
heart-winning tones of a sentimental tenderness. But in Frederic, it
appears to us, there was a striking and strange combination of two
quite opposite tendencies of the spirit, which are usually found on
earth in eternal irreconcilable contention. He had equally the need of
idealising life, and the impulse mercilessly to destroy ideal frames of
mind in himself and others. His first characteristic was perhaps the
most beautiful, perhaps the most sorrowful, that ever man was endowed
with for the struggle of life. He was undoubtedly a poetic nature; he
possessed in a high degree that peculiar power which strives to
transform common realities according to the ideal demands of its own
nature, and to draw over everything about it the pure lustre of a new
life. It was necessary to him to decorate with the graces of his fancy
and the whole magic of emotional feeling the image of those he loved,
and to adorn his relations with them. There was always something
playful about it, and even where he felt most passionately he loved
more the embellished picture of others, which he carried within him,
than themselves. It was with such a disposition that he kissed
Voltaire's hand. If at any time he sensibly felt the difference betwixt
his ideal and the real man, he dropped the real and cherished the
image. Whoever has received from nature this faculty of investing love
and friendship with the coloured mirror of poetical dispositions, is
sure, according to the judgment of others, to show arbitrariness in the
choice of their objects of preference: a certain equable warmth which
bethinks itself of everything suitable appears to be denied to such
natures. To whoever the King became a friend, in his way, to him he
always showed the greatest consideration and fidelity, however much at
particular moments his disposition towards him might change. He could,
therefore, be sentimental in his sorrow over the loss of such a
cherished image as was only possible for a German of the Werther
period. He had lived for many years in some estrangement from his
sister von Baireuth; it was only in the last year before her death,
amidst the terrors of war, that her image as that of a tender sister
again revived in him. After her death he felt a gloomy satisfaction in
recalling to himself and others, the heartfelt tenderness of this
connection; he built her a small temple, and often made pilgrimages to
it. Whoever failed to reach his heart by means of poetical feelings, or
did not stir up in him the love-web of poetry, or who disturbed
anything in his sensitive nature, to him he was cold, contemptuous, and
indifferent,--a King who only considered how far the other could be of
use to him; and he threw him off perhaps when he no longer needed him.
Such an endowment undoubtedly may have surrounded the life of a young
man with a bright halo; it invested the common with variegated
brilliancy and pleasing colours; but it must be united with much good
moral worth, feeling of duty, and sense of what is higher than itself,
if it is not to isolate and make his old age gloomy. It will also, even
in favourable circumstances, raise up the bitterest enemies, together
with the most devoted admirers. Somewhat of this faculty prepared for
the noble soul of Goethe bitter sorrows, transient connexions, many
disappointments, and a solitary old age. It was doubly fatal for a
King, whom others so seldom approach on a dignified and equal footing,
to whom openhearted friends might always become admiring flatterers,
unequal in their behaviour, now servile under the courtly spell of
majesty, now discontented censurers from a feeling of their own rights.

With King Frederic, however, the yearning for ideal relations, this
longing for men who could give his heart the opportunity of opening
itself unreservedly, was crossed in the first place by his penetrating
acuteness of perception, and also by an incorruptible love of truth,
which was inimical to all deceptions, struggled against every illusion,
despised all shams, and searched out the depths of all things. This
scrutinising view of life and its duties was a good shield against the
illusions which more often afflict a prince of imaginative tendencies,
where he has given confidence, than a private man; but his acuteness
showed itself also in a wild humour which was unsparing in its
remorselessness, sarcasm, and ridicule. From whence did these
tendencies arise in him? Was it Brandenburg blood? Was it inherited
from his great-grandmother, the Electress Sophia of Hanover, or from
his grandmother--that intellectual woman, the Queen Sophia Charlotte,
with whom Leibnitz corresponded on the eternal harmony of the world?
Undoubtedly the rough training of his youth had contributed to it.
Sharp was his perception of the weaknesses of others; wherever he spied
out a defect, wherever anything peculiar vexed or irritated him, his
voluble tongue was set in motion.

His words hit both friends and enemies unsparingly: even when silence
and endurance were commanded by prudence, he could not control himself;
his whole spirit seemed changed; with merciless exaggeration he
distorted the image of others into a caricature. If one examines this
more closely, one perceives that the main point in this was the
intellectual pleasure; he freed himself from an unpleasant impression
by violent outbursts against his victim; he had an inward satisfaction
in painting him grotesquely, and was much surprised if, when deeply
wounded, his friend turned his weapons against him. In this there was a
striking similarity to Luther. Undoubtedly the club blows dealt by the
great monk of the sixteenth century were far more formidable than the
stabs which were distributed by the great Prince in the age of
enlightenment. That it was neither dignified nor suitable was a point
for which the great King cared as little as the Reformer: both were in
a state of excitement as if in the chase, and both, in the pleasure of
the struggle, forgot the consequences; both, also, seriously injured
themselves and their great objects, and were honestly surprised when
they discovered it. But when the King bantered and sneered, or
maliciously teased, it was more difficult for him to draw back from his
unamiable mood; for his was generally no equal struggle with his
victim. Thus did the great Prince deal with all his political
opponents, and excited deadly enmity against himself; he jeered at the
Pompadour, the Empress Elizabeth, and the Empress Maria Theresa at the
dinner table, and circulated biting verses and pamphlets. That bad man,
Voltaire, he sometimes caressed, sometimes scolded and snarled at. But
he also treated in the same way, men whom he really esteemed, and who
were in his greatest confidence, whom he had received into the circle
of his friends. He had drawn the Marquis d'Argens to his court, made
him his chamberlain, and member of the Academy; he was one of his most
intimate and dearest companions. The letters which he wrote to him from
the camp during the Seven Years' War are among the most charming and
touching reminiscences that remain to us of the King. When he returned
from that war, his fondest hope was that the marquis would dwell with
him at Sans Souci. A few years afterwards this delightful connection
was dissolved. But how was this possible? The marquis was the best
Frenchman to whom the King had attached himself; a man of honour and of
refined feeling and cultivation, truly devoted to the King. But he was
neither a remarkable nor a very superior man. For years the King had
admired him as a man of learning, which he was not; he had formed to
himself a pleasant poetical idea of him, as a wise, clear-sighted, safe
philosopher, with agreeable wit and lively humour. Now, in the
intercourse of daily life, the King found himself mistaken; a certain
sentimental tendency in the Frenchman, which dwelt upon its own morbid
hypochondria, irritated him; he began to discover that the aged marquis
was neither a great scholar nor a man of strong mind; the ideal he had
formed of him was destroyed. The King began to quiz him on account of
his sentimentality; the sensitive Frenchman begged for leave of
absence, that he might travel to France for some months for his health.
The King was deeply wounded at this touch of temper, and continued, in
the friendly letters which he afterwards wrote to him, to quiz this
morbid disposition. He said, "That it was reported that there was a
_loup garou_ in France; no doubt this was the marquis as a Prussian, in
his invalid guise. Did he now eat little children? This bad conduct he
would not formerly have been guilty of, but men change much in
travelling." The marquis remained two winters instead of a few months:
when he was about to return, he sent the certificate of his physician;
probably the good man was really ill, but the King was deeply wounded
at this unnecessary verification from an old friend, and when the
marquis returned, the old connection was spoiled. Yet the King would
not give him up, but amused himself by punishing his unconfiding friend
by pungent speeches and sharp jests. Then the Frenchman, most
thoroughly embittered, demanded his dismissal; he obtained it, and one
may discover the sorrow and anger of the King from his answer. When the
marquis, in the last letter he wrote to the King before his death, once
more represented, not without bitterness, how scornfully and ill he had
treated an unselfish admirer, the King read his letter in silence. But
he wrote sorrowfully to the widow, of his friendship for her husband,
and caused a costly monument to be erected to his memory. Such was the
case with most of his favourites: magical as was his power of
attracting, equally demoniacal was his capacity of repelling. But it
may be answered, to any one who blames this as a fault in the man, that
in history there is scarcely another king who has so nobly opened his
most secret soul to his friends, like Frederic.

Frederic II. had not worn the crown many months, when the Emperor
Charles VI. died. Everything now impelled the young King to play a
great game. That he should have made such a resolution was, in spite of
the momentary weakness of Austria, a sign of daring courage. The
countries which he ruled counted not more than a seventh of the
population of the wide realm of Maria Theresa. It is true that his army
was superior in number to the Imperial, and still more in warlike
capacity; and, according to the representations of the time, the mass
of the people was not so suitable as now to recruit the army. Little,
too, did he foresee the greatness of character of Maria Theresa. But in
his preparations for the invasion the King already showed that he had
long hoped to measure himself with Austria; he began the struggle in a
spirit of exaltation that was decisive of his future life and for his
State. Little did he care for the foundation of his right to the Duchy
of Silesia, though he employed his pen to demonstrate it to Europe. The
politicians of the despotic States of the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries troubled themselves little on such points. Whoever could give
a good appearance to his cause, did so; but the most improbable
evidence, the shallowest pretences, were sufficient. Thus had Louis
XIV. made war; thus had the Emperor carried out his interests against
the Turks, Italians, Germans, French, and Spaniards; thus had a portion
of the advantages gained by the great Elector been marred by others.
Just where the rights of the Hohenzollerns were most distinct--as in
Pomerania--they had been most wronged: by none more than the Emperor
and House of Hapsburg. Now the Hohenzollern sought for revenge. "Be my
Cicero and prove the justice of my cause, and I will be the Cæsar to
carry it through," wrote Frederic to his Jordan after the entrance into
Silesia. Gaily, with winged steps, as to a dance, did the King enter
upon the field of his victories. Still did he carry on the enjoyments
of life, pleasant trifling in verses, intellectual talk with his
intimates upon the amusements of the day, on God, nature, and
immortality; this converse was the salt of his life. But the great work
on which he had entered began soon to have its effect on his character,
even before he had been under fire in the first battle; and it
afterwards worked on his soul till his hair became grey, and his fiery
enthusiastic heart became hard as iron. With the wonderful acuteness of
perception that was peculiar to him, he observed the beginning of this
change. He reviewed his own life as though he were a stranger. "You
will find me more philosophic than you think," he writes to a friend;
"I have always been so, now more, now less. My youth, the fire of
passion, the desire for fame, nay--to conceal nothing--even curiosity
and a secret instinct, have driven me from the sweet repose which I
enjoyed, and the wish to see my name in the newspapers and history have
led me away. Come here to me; philosophy maintains her claims, and, I
assure you, if it were not for this cursed love of fame, I should think
only of quiet comfort."

And when the faithful Jordan came to him, and Frederic saw this man,
who loved peaceful enjoyment, timid and uneasy in the field, the King
suddenly felt that he had become an altered and a stronger man than him
whom he had so long honoured for his learning, who had improved his
verses, given style to his letters, and was so far superior to him in
knowledge of Greek. And in spite of all his philosophic culture, he
gave the King the impression of a man without courage; with bitter
scorn the king shook him off. In one of his best improvisations, he
places himself as a warrior, in contradistinction to the sentimental
philosopher. Unfair, however, as were the satirical verses with which
he overwhelmed him, yet he soon returned to his old kindly feeling. But
it was also the first gentle hint of fate to the King himself: the like
was often to happen to him again; he was to lose valuable men, true
friends, one after the other; not only by death, but still more by the
coldness and estrangement which arose betwixt his nature and theirs.
For the path on which he had now entered was to add strength to all the
greatness, but also to all the one-sidedness, of his nature. And the
higher he raised himself above others, the more insignificant did their
nature appear to him; almost all who in later years he measured by his
own standard were little fitted to bear the comparison. The
disappointment and disenchantment he then felt became sharper, till at
last from his lonely height he looked down with stony eyes on the
proceedings of the men at his feet. But still, to the last hour of his
life, the penetrating glance of his brooding countenance was
intermingled with the bright beams of gentle human feeling. It is this
which makes the great tragic figure so touching to us.

But now, in the beginning of his first war, he still looks back with
longing to the quiet repose of his "Remusberg," and deeply feels the
pressure of the vast destiny before him. "It is difficult to bear good
fortune and misfortune with equanimity," he writes. "One may easily
appear to be indifferent in success, and unmoved amid losses, for the
features of the face can always be made to dissemble; but the man, his
inward nature, the folds of his heart, will not the less be assailed."
He concludes, full of hope: "All that I wish is, that the result of my
success may not be to destroy the human feelings and virtues which I
have always owned; may my friends always find me such as I have been."
At the end of the war he writes: "See, your friend is a second time
conqueror. Who would, some years ago, have said that a scholar in the
school of philosophy would play a military _rôle_ in the world--that
Providence should have chosen a poet to upset the political system of
Europe?"[13] So fresh and young were the feelings of Frederic when he
returned in triumph to Berlin from the first war.

He goes forth a second time to maintain Silesia. Again he is conqueror;
he has already the quiet self-confidence of an experienced General;
lively is his satisfaction at the excellence of his troops. "All that
is flattering to me in this victory," he writes to Frau von Camas.[14]
"is, that by rapid decision and bold man[oe]uvres, I have been able to
contribute to the preservation of many brave men. But I would not have
one of the most insignificant of my soldiers wounded for idle fame,
which no longer dazzles me."

But in the middle of the struggle the death of two of his dearest
friends occurred, Jordan and Kayserlingk. Touching are his
lamentations. "In less than three months I have lost my two most
faithful friends--people with whom I have daily lived, agreeable
companions, estimable men, and true friends. It is difficult for a
heart so sensitive as mine to restrain my deep sorrow. When I return to
Berlin I shall feel almost a stranger in my own Fatherland, isolated in
my home. It has been your fate also to lose at once many persons who
were dear to you; but I admire your courage, which I cannot imitate. My
only hope is time, which brings all things in nature to an end. It
begins by weakening the impressions on our brains, and only ceases by
destroying ourselves. I now dread every place which recals to me the
sorrowful remembrance of friends I have for ever lost." And again, a
month after, he writes to a friend, who endeavoured to comfort him:
"Do not think that the pressure of business and danger distracts one's
mind in sorrow? I know from experience that it is unsuccessful. Alas! a
month has passed since my tears and my sorrow began, but since the
first vehement outburst of the first days I feel as sorrowful and as
little comforted as in the beginning." And when his worthy tutor,
Duhan, sent him some French books of Jordan's, which the King had
desired, in the latter part of the autumn of the same year, he wrote,
"The tears came into my eyes when I opened the books of my poor
departed Jordan, I loved him so much, and it is very painful to me to
think that he is no more." Not long after, the King lost the friend
also to whom this letter was addressed.

The loss of his youthful friends in 1745 made a great wrench in the
inward life of the King. With these unselfish, honourable men died
almost all who made his intercourse with others happy. The relations
upon which he now entered were altogether of another kind: the best of
his men acquaintance only became the intimates of some hours, not the
friends of his heart. The need of exciting intellectual intercourse
remained, indeed it became even stronger. For there was this peculiar
characteristic in him, that he could not exist without cheerful and
confidential relations, nor without the easy, almost unreserved, talk
which through all the phases of his moods, whether thoughtful or
frivolous, touched lightly upon everything, from the greatest questions
of the human race to the smallest events of the day. Immediately after
his accession to the throne, he had written to Voltaire, and invited
him to come to him. Voltaire came, at the cost of much money, for a few
days to Berlin; he gave the King the impression of his being a fool,
nevertheless Frederic felt an immeasurable respect for the talent of
the man. Voltaire appeared to him the greatest poet of all times,--the
Lord High Chamberlain of Parnassus, where the King so much wished to
play a _rôle_. Ever stronger became Frederic's wish to possess this
man. He considered himself as his scholar; he wished his verses to be
approved of by the master. Among his Brandenburg officers he languished
for the wit and intellect of the elegant Frenchman; there was also much
of the vanity of the Sovereign in this: he wished to be as much a
prince of _bels esprits_ and philosophers as he had been a renowned
General. Since the second Silesia war his intimates were generally
foreigners; after 1750 he had the pleasure of seeing the great Voltaire
established as a member of his court. It was no misfortune that the bad
man only remained a few years among the barbarians.

It was in the ten years from 1746 to 1756 that Frederic gained an
importance and a self-confidence as an author, which up to the present
day is not sufficiently appreciated in Germany. Of his French verses
the Germans can only judge imperfectly. He had great facility as a
poet, and could express without trouble every mood in rhyme and verse.
But in his lyrics he has never, in the eyes of Frenchmen, entirely
overcome the difficulties of a foreign language, however carefully they
may have been revised by his intimates; indeed, he was wanting always,
it appears to us, in that equal rhetorical harmony of style which in
the time of Voltaire was the first characteristic of a renowned poet,
for we find commonplace and trivial expressions in splendid diction,
together with beautiful and pompous periods. His taste, too, was not
assured and independent enough; he was in his æsthetic judgment rapid
in admiring and short in deciding, but in reality far more dependent on
the opinions of his French acquaintance than his pride would have
admitted. The best off-shoot of French poetry at that time was the
return to nature, and the struggle of truth against the fetters of old
_convenances_, This was incomprehensible to the King. Rousseau long
appeared to him an eccentric poor devil, and the conscientious and pure
spirit of Diderot he considered as shallow. And yet it appears to us
that in his own poems, and especially in the light improvisations with
which he favoured his friends, there is frequently a richness of poetic
detail and a heart-winning tone of true feeling which they, especially
his pattern Voltaire, might envy him.

Like Cæsar's "Commentaries," Frederic's History of his Time forms one
of the most important monuments of historical literature.[15] It is
true that, like the Roman General and like every practical statesman,
he wrote the facts as they were reflected from the mind of one who took
part in them; all is not equally appreciated by him; he does not do
justice to every party, but he knows incomparably more than those who
were at a distance, and enters, not quite impartially, but at the same
time with magnanimity to his opponents, into some of the innermost
motives of great occurrences. He wrote sometimes without the great
apparatus that a professional historian must collect around him; it
therefore happens that his memory and judgment, however authentic they
may be, sometimes leave him in the lurch; finally, he wrote an apology
of his house, his policy, and his campaigns, and, like Cæsar, he is
sometimes silent, and interprets facts as he wishes them to be brought
before posterity. But the open-heartedness and love of truth with which
he deals with his own house and his own doings, are not less worthy of
admiration than the supreme calm and freedom with which he views
events, in spite of the small rhetorical flourishes which belonged to
the taste of the time.

Equally astonishing as his fertility is his versatility. One of the
greatest of military writers, an important historian, a facile poet, a
popular philosopher, and practical statesman, also even an anonymous
and very copious pamphlet writer, and sometimes journalist, he is
always ready for everything: to portray with his pen in the field
whatever fills, warms, and inspires him, and to attack in prose and
verse every one who irritates or vexes him, not only Pope and Empress,
Jesuits and Dutch newspaper writers, but also old friends if they
appear to him lukewarm, which he could never bear, or threaten to fall
away from him. Never--since the time of Luther--has there been so
contentious, reckless, and unwearied a writer. As soon as he puts pen
to paper he is, like Proteus, everything, sage or intriguer, historian
or poet, just as situation required, always an excitable, fiery,
intellectual, and sometimes also an ill-behaved man; but of his kingly
office he thinks little. All that is dear to him he celebrates by poems
and eulogies: the exalted precepts of his philosophy, his friends, his
army, his freedom of faith, independent inquiry, toleration and the
education of the people.

Victoriously did the mind of Frederic extend itself in all directions.
Nothing withheld him when ambition drove him on to conquer. Then came
years of trial, seven years of fearful, heart-rending cares; the period
when the rich soaring spirit undertook the most difficult task that was
ever allotted to man; when almost everything seemed to fall from him
which he possessed for himself, of joy and happiness, hopes and
egotistical comfort; when everything charming and agreeable to him as
man was destined to die to him, that he might become the self-denying
Prince of his people, the great official of the State, the hero of a
nation. It was not with the lust of conquest that he this time entered
upon the combat; it had long been clear to him that he had now to
struggle for his own and his kingdom's life. But so much the loftier
grew his resolution. Like the storm-wind, he wished to break the clouds
which gathered on all sides round his head. By the energy of his
irresistible attacks he thought to dissipate the storm before it burst
upon him. He had hitherto been unconquered; his enemies were beaten
whenever he had fallen upon them with the irresistible instrument
in his hand--his army. This was his hope, his only one. If this
well-tested power did not fail him now, he might save his State.

But in his first encounter with the Austrians, his old enemies, he saw
that they also had learnt of him and had become different. To the
uttermost did he exert his power, and at Collin it failed him. The 18th
of June, 1757, was the most fatal day in Frederic's life; he found
there what twice in this war tore the victory from him: that he had too
little estimated his enemies, and had expected what was beyond human
powers of his valiant army. After being stunned for a short time,
Frederic roused himself with fresh energy. From an offensive he was
driven to a desperate defensive war: on all sides the enemy broke into
his little country; he was in deadly struggle with every great Power of
the Continent, the master of only four millions of men, and a conquered
army. Now he proved his generalship by the way in which, after his
losses, he retreated from the enemy, then pounced upon and beat them,
when they least expected him, by throwing himself now against one, and
now against another army, unsurpassed in his dispositions,
inexhaustible in his expedients, and unequalled as leader of his
troops. Thus he maintained himself, one against five, against Austria,
Russia, and France, each one of which exceeded him in strength; and at
the same time against Sweden and the German troops of the Empire. Five
long years did he struggle against this enormous preponderance of
power,--each spring in danger of being crushed by the masses alone, and
each autumn again in safety. A loud cry of admiration and sympathy
echoed through Europe; and among the first unwilling eulogisers were
his most violent enemies. It was just in these years of changing
fortune, when the King himself was experiencing the bitter chances of
the fortunes of war, that his generalship became the astonishment of
all the armies of Europe. The method in which he arrayed his lines
against the enemy, always the quickest and most skilful; how he so
often, by moving in echelon, pressed back the weakest wing of the
enemy, outflanked and crushed it; how his newly created cavalry, which
had become the first in the world, charged upon the enemy, broke their
ranks and burst through their hosts,--all this was considered
everywhere as a new step in the art of war, as an invention of the
greatest genius. The tactics and strategy of the Prussian army were,
for almost half a century, the pattern and model for all the armies of
Europe. Unanimous was the judgment that Frederic was the greatest
commander of his time, and that before him, throughout all history,
there had been few Generals to compare with him. That smaller numbers
should so frequently conquer the larger, that when beaten they should
not dissolve away, but, when the enemy had scarcely recovered their
wounds, should be able to re-encounter him as before, so threatening
and so disciplined, appeared incredible. But we not only extol the
generalship of the King, but also the clever discretion of his infantry
tactics. He knew well how much he was restrained by the consideration
of magazines and commissariat, by the thousands of waggons full of
stores and daily necessaries for the soldiers which must accompany him,
but he also knew that this was his safest course. Once only, when after
the battle of Rossbach, he made that wonderful march into Silesia,
forty-one German miles in fifteen days, being in the greatest danger,
he advanced through the country, as other armies do now, supporting his
men by the billeting system. But he immediately returned to his former
wise custom.[16] For if his enemies should learn to imitate this
independent movement, he would certainly be lost. When the country
militia of his old province rose up to withstand and drive away the
Swedes, and valiantly defended Colberg and Berlin, he was much pleased,
but took care not to encourage popular warfare; and when his East
Friesland people rose of their own accord against the French, and were
severely handled by them, he roughly told them it was their own fault,
as war ought to be carried on by soldiers, and that tranquil labour,
taxes, and recruiting were for peasants and citizens. He knew well that
he was lost, if a popular war were excited against him in Saxony and
Bohemia. This very narrow-mindedness of the cautious General with
respect to military forms, which alone made the struggle possible, may
perhaps be reckoned as one of his greatest qualities.

Ever louder became the expression of sorrow and admiration with which
Germans and foreigners watched the death struggle of the lion beset on
all sides. As early as 1740, the young King had been extolled by the
Protestants as the partisan of freedom of conscience and enlightenment,
against Jesuits and intolerance. When, a few months after the battle of
Collin, he so entirely beat the French at Rossbach, he became the hero
of Germany, and there was a burst of exultation everywhere. For
two centuries the French had inflicted the greatest injury on the
much-divided country; now the German nature began to oppose itself to
the influence of French culture, and now the King, who had so much
admired Parisian verses, had as wonderfully scared away the Parisian
General. It was such a brilliant victory, the old enemy was so
disgracefully overthrown, that it rejoiced all hearts throughout the
Empire; even where the soldiers of the Sovereigns were in the field
against King Frederic, the citizens and peasants rejoiced secretly at
his German blows. The longer the war lasted, the firmer became
the belief in the King's invincibility, so much the more did the
self-respect of the Germans rise. After long, long years, they had at
last found a hero, of whose warlike fame they could be proud, who would
accomplish what was almost more than human. Numberless anecdotes about
him circulated through the country; every little trait of his
composure, of his good humour and friendliness with the soldiers, or of
the fidelity of his army, flew hundreds of miles; how, when in peril of
death, he played his flute in his tent; how his wounded soldiers
sang chorales after the battle; how, he had taken off his hat to a
regiment--he has since been often imitated in this,--all these stories
were carried to the Neckar and the Rhine, printed and listened to with
glad smiles and tears of emotion. It was natural that the poets should
sing his praises; three of them had been in the Prussian army, Gleim
and Lessing as secretaries to the General in command, and Ewald von
Kleist, the favourite of a young literary circle, as an officer, till
at last he was struck by a ball at Kunnersdorf. But still more touching
to us is the faithful devotion of the Prussian people; the old
provinces, Prussia, Pomerania, the Marches, and Westphalia, had
suffered indescribably from the war, but the proud pleasure of having a
share in the hero of Europe made even the most inconsiderable man
forget his own sufferings. The armed citizens and peasants for years
marched to the field as militia-men. When a number of recruits from
Cleves and the county of Ravensberg, after a lost action, fled
from their banners and returned home, they were denounced by their
country-people and relations as perjured, expelled from the villages,
and driven back to the army.

There was no difference in the opinion abroad. In the Protestant
cantons of Switzerland as warm an interest was taken in the fate of the
King as if the descendants of the Rütli men had never been separated
from the German Empire. There were people there who became ill with
vexation when the King's affairs were in a bad state.[17] It was the
same in England. Every victory of the King excited in London loud
expressions of joy; houses were lighted up; pictures and laudatory
poems were sold in the streets; and Pitt announced, with admiration, in
Parliament every new act of the Great Ally. Even in Paris, at the
theatre and in society, the feeling was more Prussian than French. The
French jeered at their own Generals, and the clique of Pompadour, which
was for the war, could hardly, as we are informed by Duclos, appear in
public. At Petersburg the Grand Duke Peter and his adherents were so
Prussian that at every loss sustained by Frederic they secretly
mourned. The enthusiasm reached even to Turkey and the Great Cham of
Tartary; and this respectful interest outlasted the war in a great
portion of the world. The painter Hackert, when travelling through a
small city in the middle of Sicily, received fruit and wine from the
magistrates as a gift of honour, because they had heard that he was a
Prussian, a subject of the great King to whom they wished to show
honour. Muley Ismail, Emperor of Morocco, caused the crew of a vessel
belonging to a citizen of Emden, which had been carried off by the
Moors to Magador, to be released without ransom; he sent them newly
clothed to Lisbon, and assured them that their King was the greatest
man in the world; that no Prussian should ever suffer imprisonment in
his country, and that his cruisers should never attack the Prussian
flag.

Poor oppressed spirit of the German people, how long it had been since
the men betwixt the Rhine and the Oder had felt the pleasure of being
esteemed above others among the nations of the earth! Now everything
was transformed by the magic of the character of one man. The
countryman, as if awaking from a fearful dream, looked out upon the
world and into his own heart. Long had they lived lethargically without
a past in which they could rejoice, or a noble future on which to place
their hopes. Now they found at once that they had a portion in the
honours and greatness of the world; that a King and his people, all of
their blood, had given an aureola of glory to the German nation--a new
purport to the history of civilised man. Now they had all experienced
how a great man could struggle, venture, dare, and conquer. Now labour
in your study, peaceful thinker, imaginative dreamer; you have learnt
during the night to look abroad with smiles, and to hope great things
from your own endowments. Try now what will gush from your heart.

Whilst the youthful strength of the people fluttered its wings with
enthusiastic warmth, what, meanwhile, were the feelings of the great
Prince, who was incessantly contending with enemies? The enthusiastic
acclamations of the nation bore only feeble tones to his ear; the King
received it almost with indifference. In him everything was calm and
cold; though, undoubtedly, he had hours of passionate sorrow and
heart-rending care. But he concealed them from his army; the calm
countenance became harder, the furrows deeper, the expression more
rigid. There were but few to whom he occasionally opened his heart;
then, for some moments, the sorrows of the man, which had reached the
limits of human endurance, broke forth.

Ten days after the battle of Collin, his mother died; a few weeks
later, in anger, he drove his brother August Wilhelm away from the
army, because he had not carried on the war with sufficient vigour.
This Prince died in that same year, of grief, as the King was informed
by the officer who reported it. Shortly afterwards he received the
account of the death of his sister of Baireuth. One after another his
Generals fell by his side, or lost the King's confidence; because they
were not able to come up to the superhuman requirements of this war.
His old soldiers, his pride, the iron warriors who had gone through the
test of three severe wars--they who, dying, still stretched out their
hands to him and called upon his name--were expiring in heaps around
him; and those who filled up the wide gaps which death incessantly made
in his army were young recruits, some of good material, but many bad
ones. The King used them, as he had done the others, with strictness
and severity; but even in the worst subjects his look and word inspired
both bravery and devotion. But he knew that all this would not avail;
short and cutting was his censure, and sparing was his praise. Thus he
continued to live; five summers and winters came and went; the labour
was gigantic; he was unwearied in planning and combining; his eagle eye
scrutinisingly scanned what was most distant and most trivial, and yet
there was no change and no hope. The King read and wrote in his hours
of rest, just as before; he made his verses and kept up a
correspondence with Voltaire and Algarotti; but he was resolved all
this must soon come to an end, a short and quick one. He carried with
him, day and night, what would free him from Daun and Laudon. The whole
affair of life sometimes appeared to him contemptible.

The disposition of the man, from whom the intellectual life of Germany
dates its new era, deserves well to be regarded with reverence by
Germans. It is only possible to give some idea of it by the way in
which it breaks out in Frederic's letters to the Marquis d'Argens and
Frau von Camas. Thus does the great King speak of his life:--

"1757, _June_.--The only remedy for my sorrow lies in the daily work I
am obliged to do, and in the continual distractions which the number of
my enemies occasion me. If I had died at Collin, I should now be in a
haven where I should fear no more storms. Now I must navigate on a
stormy sea till I have discovered in some small corner of earth, that
good which I have never yet found in this world. For two years I have
been standing like a wall in which misfortune has made its breaches.
But do not think that I am becoming weak; one must protect oneself in
these unfortunate times by bowels of iron and a heart of bronze, in
order to lose all feeling. The next month will decide the fate of my
poor country. My calculation is, that I shall save or fall with it. You
can have no idea of the dangers in which we are, nor of the terrors
which surround us."

"1758, _December_--I am weary of this life; the Wandering Jew is less
driven about hither and thither, than I; I have lost all that I have
loved and honoured in this world; I see myself surrounded by
unfortunates whose sufferings I cannot aid. My soul is still filled
with the impression of the ruin of my best provinces, and of the
horrors which a horde of barbarians, more like unreasoning beasts than
men, have practised there. In my old age I have come down almost to be
a theatrical king; you will acknowledge that such a situation is not
sufficiently attractive to bind the soul of a philosopher to life."

"1759, _March_.--I know not what my fate will be. I will do all that
depends upon me to save myself; and if I am worsted the enemy shall pay
dear for it. I have lived, during my winter quarters, as a recluse; I
have my meals alone, pass my life in reading and writing, and do not
sigh. When one is sorrowful it costs one too much in the long run to
conceal one's chagrin incessantly, and it is better to bear one's
trouble alone than to bring one's vexations into society. Nothing
comforts me but the violent strain, as long as it lasts, which work
requires; it drives away sorrowful ideas.

"But ah! when work is ended, then gloomy thoughts become vigorous as
ever. Maupertuis is right: the amount of evil is greater than of good.
But it is all the same to me; I have nothing more to lose, and the few
days that remain to me do not disquiet me so much that I should take a
lively interest in them."

"1759, 16_th August_.--I will throw myself in their way, and have my
head cut off, or save the capital. I think that is determination
enough. I will not answer for the success. If I had more than one life
I would resign it for my Fatherland; but if this stroke fails I hold
myself at quits with my country, and I may be allowed to take care of
myself. There is a limit to everything. I bear my misfortunes without
losing my courage. But I am quite determined, if this undertaking
fails, to make myself a way out, that I may not be the sport of every
kind of accident. Believe me, one requires more than firmness and
endurance to maintain oneself in my position. But I tell you openly, if
any misfortune happens to me you must not calculate upon my outliving
the ruin and destruction of my Fatherland. I have my own way of
thinking. I will neither imitate Sertorius nor Cato; I do not think of
my fame, but of the State."

"1760, _Oct_.--Death would be sweet in comparison with such a life. If
you have any sympathy with my situation, believe me I conceal much
trouble with which I do not grieve or disquiet others. I regard death
like a Stoic. Never will I live to see the moment which would oblige me
to conclude a disadvantageous peace. Either I will bury myself under
the ruins of my Fatherland, or, if this consolation appears too sweet
to the fate which pursues me, I will make an end of my sufferings as
soon as it is no longer possible to bear them. I have acted, and
continue to act, according to this inward feeling of honour. I have
sacrificed my youth to my father, and my manhood to my Fatherland. I
think, therefore, I have acquired the right to dispose of my old age. I
say it, and I repeat it--never will my hand sign a humiliating peace. I
have made some observations upon the military talents of Charles
XII.,[18] but I have never considered whether he ought to have killed
himself or not. I think that, after the taking of Stralsund, he would
have done wiser to annihilate himself; but, whatever he did or left
undone, his example is no rule for me. There are people who learn from
prosperity. I do not belong to that class. I have lived for others; I
will die for myself I am very indifferent as to what others may say
concerning it, and assure you I shall never hear it. Henry IV. was a
younger son of a good house who achieved his good fortune; it did not
signify much to him. Why should he have hung himself in misfortune?
Louis XIV. was a greater king, had greater resources; he got himself
out of difficulties well or ill. As regards me I have not the resources
of this man, but I value honour more than he did; and, as I have told
you, I guide myself after no one. We calculate, if I am right, 5000
years since the creation of the world; I believe that this reckoning is
far too low for the age of the universe. The country of Brandenburg has
existed this whole time, before I did, and will continue after my
death. States are preserved by the propagation of races, and as long as
this continues, the masses will be governed by ministers or Sovereigns.
It is much the same whether they be rather more simple or rather more
clever; the difference is so little that the mass of the people
scarcely discover it. Do not, therefore, repeat to me the old answers
of courtiers; self-love and vanity cannot entirely alter my feelings.
It is not so much an act of weakness to end such unhappy days, as it is
cautious policy. I have lost all my friends and dearest relations. I am
to the last extent unfortunate. I have nothing to hope; my enemies
treat me with contempt and derision, and in their pride are prepared to
trample me under foot."

"1760, _Nov_.--My labours are terrible, the war has continued during
five campaigns. We neglect nothing that can give us means of
resistance, and I stretch the bow with my whole strength; but an army
should be composed of arms and heads. Arms do not fail us, but heads
are no longer to be found; if you would only give yourself the trouble
to order me some of the sculptor, Adam, they would serve me as well as
those I have. My duty and honour keep me steadfast; but, in spite of
stoicism and endurance, there are moments when one feels some desire to
give oneself up to the devil. Adieu, my dear Marquis, may it fare well
with you, and pray for a poor devil who will betake himself to that
meadow where the asphodels grow if the peace does not take effect."

"1761, _June_.--Do not count upon peace this year. If good fortune does
not abandon me, I shall get out of the business as well as I can; but
next year I shall still have to dance on the tight-rope and make
dangerous bounds when it pleases their very Apostolical, very
Christian, and very Muscovite Majesties to call out, 'Jump, Marquis!'
Ah, how hard-hearted men are! They tell me, 'You have friends.' Yes,
fine friends, who cross their arms and say, 'Indeed, I wish you all
happiness!' 'But I am drowning--hand me a rope!' 'No, you will not
drown.' 'Yet I must sink the very next moment.' 'Oh, we hope the
contrary; but, if it should happen, be assured we would place a
beautiful inscription on your tomb.' Such is the world. These are the
fine compliments with which I am greeted on all sides."

"1762, _Jan_.--I have been so unfortunate throughout this whole war,
with my pen as well as with my sword, that I do not believe in any
fortunate occurrences. Yes; experience is a fine thing. In my youth I
was as ungovernable as a young colt, that gallops about the meadow
without bridle; now I am as cautious as an old Nestor: but I am also
grey and wrinkled with care, and weighed down by bodily suffering; and,
in a word, only good enough to be thrown to the dogs. You have always
admonished me to take care of myself; show me the means, my dear
friend, when one is hauled about as I am. The birds which one delivers
to the wantonness of children, the tops which are whipped by those
little monkeys, are not more tossed about and misused than I am now by
three furious enemies."

"1762, _May_.--I am passing through the school of patience; it is hard,
tedious, terrible, indeed barbarous. I only help myself out of it by
looking on the universe in general, as from a distant planet There
everything appears to me infinitely small, and I pity my enemies for
taking so much trouble about such trifles. Is this old age, is it
reflection, is it reason? I regard all the events of life with far more
indifference than formerly. If there is anything to be done for the
welfare of the State, I can yet apply some strength to it; but, between
ourselves, it is no longer with the fiery vehemence of my youth, nor
the enthusiasm that then animated me. It is time that the war should
come to an end, for my preachings become tedious, and my hearers will
soon complain of me."

To Frau von Camas he writes:--"You speak of the death of poor F----.
Ah, dear mamma, for six years I have mourned more for the living than
for the dead."

Thus did the King write and grieve, but he held out; and any one who is
startled by the gloomy energy of his resolves, must guard himself from
thinking that these were the highest expressions of the powers of this
wonderful mind. It is true that the King had moments of depression,
when he desired death under the fire of the enemy rather than seek it
from his own hand out of the phial which he carried about him. It is
true that he was firmly determined not to bring destruction on his
State by allowing himself to live as a prisoner of the Austrians. There
was a fearful truth in all that he wrote; but he was of a poetic
disposition; he was a child of the century, which had such a craving
for great deeds, and took delight in the expression of exalted
feelings; he was, to his heart's core, a German, with the same longings
as the immeasurably weaker Klopstock and his admirers. The
contemplation and decided utterance of this last resolve gave him
inward freedom and cheerfulness. He wrote concerning it also to his
sister of Baireuth, in the dismal second year of the war, and this
letter is particularly characteristic;[19] for she also had decided not
to outlive the fall of her house; and he approved this decision, to
which, however, he paid little attention, being immersed in the gloomy
satisfaction of his own reflections. Both these royal children had once
secretly recited together the _rôles_ of French tragedies in the strict
parental house; now their hearts beat again in unison, both thinking of
freeing themselves, by an antique death, from a life full of illusions,
errors, and sufferings. But when the excited and nervous sister fell
dangerously ill, Frederic forgot all his stoical philosophy, and, with
a passionate tenderness that still clung to life, he fretted and
grieved about her who was the dearest to him of his family; and when
she died, his sorrow was, perhaps, more severe from feeling that he had
enacted a tragic part in the tender life of the woman. Thus, strangely,
was mixed in the greatest German that arose in the eighteenth century,
poetical feeling and the wish to appear charming and great with the
earnest life of reality. The poor little Professor Semler, who, in the
midst of the deepest emotion, still studied his attitudes and
prepared his compliments, and the great King, who, in calm expectation
of the hour of death, wrote in finely-formed periods concerning
self-destruction, were both sons of that same time in which the pathos
that found no worthy expression in art twined like a creeper round real
life. But the King was greater than his philosophy; in fact, he never
lost his courage, nor the stubborn strength of the German, nor the
quiet hope which is needful to man for every great work.

And he held out. The strength of his enemies became less, their
Generals were worn out, and their armies shattered, and at last Russia
withdrew from the coalition. This, and the King's last victory, decided
the question. He had triumphed, he had preserved the conquered Silesia
to Prussia; his people exulted, the faithful citizens of his capital
prepared him a festive reception, but he avoided all rejoicings, and
returned alone and quietly to Sans Souci. He wished, he said, to live
the rest of his days in peace and for his people.

The first three-and-twenty years of his reign he had struggled
and fought, and established his power throughout the world;
three-and-twenty years more was he to rule over his people as a
wise and strict father. The ideas according to which he guided the
State--with great self-denial, but also self-will, aiming at the
highest, but also ruling in the most trifling matters--have been partly
set aside by the higher culture of the present day; they express the
knowledge which he had gained in his youth, and from the experiences of
his early manhood. The mind was to be free, and each one to think as he
chose, but to do his duty as a citizen. As he subordinated his pleasure
and expenditure to the good of the State, restricting the whole royal
household to about 200,000 thalers, and thought first of the advantage
of the people, and not till then of his own; so were all his subjects
to be ready to do the duties and bear the burdens he might impose upon
them. Each was to remain in the sphere in which his birth and education
had placed him; the nobleman was to be landowner and officer; the
sphere of the citizen was the city, commerce, industry, teaching, and
invention; that of the peasant was field labour and service. But each
in his position was to be prosperous and comfortable. There was to be
equal, strict, rapid justice for all; no favour for the noble or rich,
but rather, in doubtful cases, for the poor man. The number of working
men was to be increased, each occupation made as remunerative and as
prosperous as possible; the less that was imported from abroad the
better; everything to be produced at home, and the surplus to be
disposed of beyond the frontiers. Such were the main principles of his
political economy. Incessantly did he endeavour to increase the number
of morgens of arable land, and to procure new places for settlers.
Swamps were drained, lakes drawn off, and dykes thrown up; canals were
dug, and advances made for the establishment of new manufactories;
cities and villages rebuilt more solid and convenient than before,
under the active encouragement of government; the provincial credit
system, the fire-insurance society, and the royal bank were
established; popular schools everywhere founded, well-informed people
encouraged to come, and the education and discipline of the ruling
official class promoted by examinations and strict control. It is the
business of historians to enumerate and extol all this, and also to
recount some vain attempts of the King which failed from his endeavour
to guide everything himself.

The King looked after all his dominions, and not least after that child
of sorrow, the newly won Silesia. When he conquered this large province
it had little more than a million of inhabitants.[20] Greatly was the
contrast felt between the easy-going Austrian government and the
strict, restless, stirring rule of Prussia. At Vienna the catalogue of
forbidden books was greater than at Rome; now ceaseless bales of books
found their way into the province from Germany: all were free to buy
and read, even the attacks upon their own ruler. In Austria it was the
privilege of the nobility to wear foreign cloth; in Prussia, when the
father of Frederic the Great had forbidden the import of foreign cloth,
he first dressed himself and his princesses in home-made manufacture.
At Vienna no office was considered distinguished for which anything
more was required than representation: all the work was the affair of
the subalterns; the lord of the bedchamber was more considered than a
deserving General or minister. In Prussia even the highest in rank was
little esteemed if he was not useful to the State; and the King himself
was the most precise official, for he looked after every thousand
thalers that were saved or disbursed. He who in Austria left the Roman
Catholic faith was punished with confiscation and banishment; in
Prussia every one could change his religion as he chose, that was his
affair. In the Imperial dominions the government felt it burdensome to
look after anything; the Prussian officials thrust their noses into
everything. In spite of the three Silesian wars, the country was far
more flourishing than in the Imperial time; a century had not been
sufficient to efface the traces of the Thirty Years' War; the people
remembered well how in the cities heaps of ruins had remained from the
Swedish time, and everywhere near the newly-built houses, the dismal
wastes caused by fire. Many little cities had still blockhouses in the
old Sclavonian style, with straw and shingle roofs, which had long been
scantily patched. Under the Prussians, not only the traces of the old
devastation, but even of the Seven Years' War, soon disappeared.
Frederic had fifteen large cities built up with regular streets at the
King's cost, and some hundred new villages constructed and occupied by
freehold colonists; he had laid on the landed proprietors the heavy
burden of rebuilding some thousands of homesteads, and occupying them
with tenants with hereditary rights. In the Imperial time the imposts
had been far less, but they were unequally apportioned, and the
heaviest burdens were on the poor; the nobles were exempt from the
greater part; the method of raising them was ill arranged; much was
embezzled or squandered, and little proportionately found its way into
the Emperor's coffers. The Prussians, on the other hand, had divided
the country into small circles, valued the collective acreage, and in a
few years had withdrawn all exemptions from taxes; the country now paid
its ground tax, the cities their excise. Thus the province bore a
double amount of burdens with greater ease, only the privileged
murmured; and in this way it was able to maintain 40,000 soldiers,
whilst formerly there had been only 2000. Before 1740 the nobles had
acted the part of fine gentlemen; any one who was a Roman Catholic, and
rich, lived at Vienna; others, who could afford it, went to Breslau.
Now the greater number of the landed proprietors dwelt on their
properties. Krippenreiters had ceased; the noblemen knew that the King
considered it honourable in him to care for the culture of his ground,
and that he showed cold contempt towards those who were not landlords,
officials, or officers. Formerly, law-suits were incessant and costly,
and could scarcely be carried on without bribery and great sacrifice of
money; now the number of lawyers became less, because decisions were so
rapid. Under the Austrians the caravan traffic with the east of Europe
had undoubtedly been greater; the Bukowins and Hungarians, and also the
Poles, became estranged, and already looked to Trieste; but new sources
of industry arose, large manufactories of wool and cloth, and in the
mountain valleys linen, were established. Many were dissatisfied with
the new time, some were in fact oppressed by its harshness, but few
ventured to deny that on the whole there was improvement.

But there was another characteristic of the Prussian State that made an
impression on the Silesians, and soon obtained a mastery over their
minds. This was the devoted Spartan spirit of those who served the
King, which frequently appeared in the lowest officials. The excise
officers, even before the introduction of the French system, were
little liked; they were invalid subaltern officers, old soldiers of the
King, who had won his battles, and had grown grey in his service. They
sat now at the gates, and smoked their wooden pipes; they received very
little pay, and could indulge themselves in little, but were from early
dawn till late in the evening at their post, did their duty skilfully,
quickly, and punctually, like old soldiers, received and faithfully
delivered up the money as a matter of course. They thought always of
their service: it was their honour, their pride; and long did the old
Silesians continue to relate to their descendants how much they had
been struck by the punctiliousness, strictness, and honesty of these
and other Prussian officials. There was in every district town a
receiver of taxes; he lived in his small office room, which was perhaps
at the same time his bedroom, and received in a large wooden dish the
land tax which the village magistrate brought to his room once a month.
Many thousand thalers were noted down on the long list, and were
delivered to the last penny into the State coffers. Small was the
salary of even such a man as this; he sat, received and packed away in
bags, till his hair became white, and his trembling hands could no
longer lay hold of the two-groschen pieces. And the pride of his life
was, that the King knew him personally, and, if he ever came through
the place during the change of horses, he fixed on him silently his
large eyes, or, if he was very gracious, inclined his head a little
towards him. The people regarded with a certain degree of respect and
awe these subordinate servants of a new principle. And not the
Silesians only; it was something new in the world. It was not as a mere
jest that Frederic II. had called himself the first servant of his
State. As on the battlefield he had taught his wild nobles that the
highest honour was to die for the Fatherland, so did his unwearied care
and high sense of duty imprint upon the soul of the meanest of his
servants on the most distant frontiers his great idea, that his first
duty was to live and labour for the good of his King and country.

Though the provinces of Prussia, in the Seven Years' War, were
compelled to do homage to the Empress Elizabeth, and remained for some
time incorporated in the Russian Empire, yet the officials of the
districts under the foreign army and government ventured secretly to
raise money and provisions for their King, and great art was required
for the passage of the transports. Many were in the secret, but there
was not one traitor; they stole in disguise through the Russian camp in
danger of their lives. They discovered afterwards that they earned
little thanks by it, for the King did not like his East Prussians; he
spoke depreciatingly of them; seldom showed them the same favour as the
other provinces; he looked like stone whenever he learnt that one of
his young officers was born between the Vistula and Memel, and never
entered his East Prussian province after the war. But the East
Prussians were not shaken in their veneration for him: they clung with
true love to their ungracious master, and his best and most
intellectual panegyrist was Emmanuel Kant.

The life in the King's service was undoubtedly a rough one: incessant
were the work and deprivations; it was difficult for the best to do
enough for so strict a master, and the greatest devotion received but
curt thanks; if a man was worn out he was probably coldly thrown aside;
the labour was without end everywhere,--new undertakings--scaffoldings
of an unfinished building. To any one who came into the country this
life did not appear cheerful, it was so austere, monotonous, and rough;
there was little of beauty or pleasure in it; and as the bachelor
household of the King, with his obedient servants and his submissive
intimates taking the air under the trees of a quiet garden, gave the
impression of a monastery to a foreign guest; so he found in the whole
Prussian regime, something of the self-denial and obedience of a large
industrious monastic brotherhood.

Somewhat of this spirit had passed into the people themselves. But we
honour in this an enduring service of Frederic II.: still is this
spirit of self-denial the secret of the greatness of the Prussian
State, the last and best guarantee for its duration. The excellent
machine which the King had erected with so much intelligence and energy
could not eternally last; it was shattered twenty years after his
death; but that the State did not at the same time sink,--that the
intelligence and patriotism of the citizen were in a condition to
create a new life on new foundations under his successors,--is the
secret of Frederic's greatness.

Nine years after the conclusion of the last war, which led to the
retention of Silesia, Frederic increased his kingdom by a new
acquisition, not much less in number of miles, but with a scanty
population: it was the district of Poland, which has since passed under
the name of West Prussia.

If the claims of the King on Silesia had been doubtful, it required all
the acuteness of his officials to put a plausible appearance on the
uncertain rights to a portion of the new acquisition. The King himself
cared little about it; he had, with almost superhuman heroism, defended
the possession of Silesia in the face of the world; that province had
been bound to Prussia by streams of blood; but in this case, political
shrewdness was almost all that had been required. Long, in the opinion
of men, was the conqueror deficient in that justification which it
appeared was only given by the horrors of war and the accidental
fortune of the battle-field. But this last acquisition of the King,
which was made without the thunder of cannon or the flourish of
victory, was, of all the great gifts for which the German people had to
thank Frederic II., the greatest and most beneficial. During many
hundred years the much-divided Germans were confined and injured by
ambitious neighbours; the great King was the first conqueror who
extended the German frontier further to the east. A century after his
great ancestor had in vain defended the Rhine fortresses against Louis
XIV., he again gave the Germans the emphatic admonition, that it was
their task to carry laws, education, freedom, cultivation, and industry
into the east of Europe. His whole country, with the exception of some
old Saxon territory, had been won from the Sclavonians by force and
colonisation; never since the great migration of the Middle Ages had
the struggle for the wide plains on the east of the Oder ceased; never
had his house forgotten that it was the guardian of the German
frontier. Whenever the struggle of arms ceased, politicians contended.
The Elector Frederic William had freed the Prussian territories of the
Teutonic order from the Polish suzerainty. Frederic I. had brought this
isolated colony under the crown. But the possession of East Prussia was
insecure; the danger was not, however, from the degenerate Republic of
Poland, but from the rising greatness of Russia. Frederic had learnt to
consider the Russians as enemies; he knew the high-flown plans of the
Empress Catherine; the clever Prince knew how to grasp at the fitting
moment. The new domain--Pommerellen, the Woiwodschaft of Kulm and
Marienburg, the Bishopric of Ermland, the city of Elbing, a portion of
Kujavien, and a part of Posen--united East Prussia with Pomerania and
the Marches of Brandenburg. It had always been a frontier land; since
ancient times people of different races had thronged to the coast of
the Northern Sea: Germans, Sclavonians, Lithuanians, and Finns. Since
the thirteenth century, the Germans had forced themselves into this
debatable ground as founders of cities and agriculturists; orders of
knights, merchants, pious monks, German noblemen, and peasants
congregated there. On both sides of the Vistula arose towers and
boundary stones of the German colonists. Above all rose the splendid
Dantzic,--the Venice of the Baltic, the great sea-mart of the
Sclavonian countries, with its rich Marien-church and the palaces of
its merchants; behind it, on the other arm of the Vistula, its modest
rival Elbing; further upwards, the stately towers and broad arcades of
Marienburg, where is the great princely castle of the Teutonic Knights,
the most beautiful edifice in the north of Germany; and in the
luxurious low-countries, in the valley of the Vistula, were the old
prosperous colonial properties, one of the most favoured districts of
the world, and defended by powerful dikes against the devastations of
the Vistula. Still further upwards, Marienwerder, Graudenz, Kulm, and
in the low countries, Netzebromberg, the centre of a strip of Polish
frontier. Smaller German cities and village communities were scattered
through the whole territory, which had been energetically colonised by
the rich Cistercian monasteries of Oliva and Pelplin. But the
tyrannical severity of this order drove the German cities and landed
proprietors of West Prussia, in the fifteenth century, to annex
themselves to Poland. The Reformation of the sixteenth century subdued
not only the souls of the German colonists, but also those of the
Poles. In the great Polish Republic, three-fourths of the nobility
became Protestants, and in the Sclavonian districts of Pommerellen,
seventy out of one hundred parishes, did the same. But the introduction
of the Jesuits brought an unhealthy change. The Polish nobles fell back
to the Roman Catholic Church, their sons were brought up in the
Jesuits' schools as converting fanatics. From that time the Polish
State began to decline; its condition became constantly more hopeless.

There was a great difference in the conduct of the Germans of West
Prussia with respect to proselytising Jesuits and Sclavonian tyranny.
The immigrant German nobles became Roman Catholic and Polish, but the
citizens and peasants remained stubborn Protestants. To the opposition
of languages was added the opposition of confessions; to the hatred of
race, the fury of contending faiths. In the century of enlightenment
there was a fanatical persecution of the Germans in these provinces;
one Protestant church after another was pulled down, the wooden ones
were burnt; when a church was burnt, the villages lost the right of
having bells; German preachers and schoolmasters were driven away and
shamefully ill-used "_Vexa Lutheranum dabit thalerum_" was the usual
saying of the Poles against the Germans. One of the great landed
proprietors of the country, Starost of Gnesen, from the family of
Birnbaum, was condemned to death, by tearing out his tongue and
chopping off his hands, because he had copied into a record from German
books some biting remarks against the Jesuits. There was no law and no
protection. The national party of Polish nobles, in alliance with
fanatical priests, persecuted most violently those whom they hated as
Germans and Protestants. All the predatory rabble joined themselves to
the patriots or confederates; they hired hordes who went plundering
about the country and fell upon small cities and German villages. Ever
more vehement became the rage against the Germans, not only from zeal
for the faith, but still more from covetousness. The Polish nobleman
Roskowski put on a red and a black boot: the one signified fire, and
the other death; thus he rode from one place to another, laying all
under contribution; at last, in Jastrow, he caused the hands, feet, and
finally the head of the Evangelical preacher Wellick to be cut off, and
the limbs to be thrown into a bog. This happened in 1768.

Such was the state of the country shortly before the Prussian
occupation. Dantzic, which was indispensable to the Poles, kept itself,
through this century of decay, from the rest of the country; it
remained a free State under Sclavonian protection, and was long adverse
to the great King. But the country and most of the German cities
energetically helped to preserve the King from destruction. The
Prussian officials who were sent into the country were astonished at
the wretchedness which existed at a few days' journey from their
capital. Only some of the larger cities, in which German life was
maintained by old trading intercourse within strong walls, and
protected strips of land exclusively occupied by Germans,--like the low
countries near Dantzig,--the villages under the mild government of the
Cistercians of Oliva, and the wealthy German districts of Catholic
Ermland, were in tolerable condition. Other cities lay in ruins, as did
most of the farms on the plains. The Prussians found Bromberg, a city
of German colonists, in ruins; it is not possible now accurately to
ascertain how the city came into this condition;[21] indeed the fate of
the whole Netze district, in the last ten years before the Prussian
occupation, is quite unknown. No historians, no records, and no
registers give any account of the destruction and slaughter with which
that country was ravaged. Apparently the Polish factions must have
fought amongst themselves; bad harvests and pestilence may have done
the rest. Kulm has from ancient times preserved its well-built walls
and stately churches, but in the streets the covered passages to the
cellars projected over the rotten wood and the fragments of brick from
the dilapidated buildings; whole streets consisted of such cellars, in
which the miserable inhabitants dwelt. Twenty-eight of the forty houses
of the great market-place had no doors, no roofs, no inhabitants, and
no proprietors. In a similar condition were other cities.

The greater number of the country people lived in circumstances which
appeared to the King's officials lamentable; especially on the
frontiers of Pomerania, where the Windish Kassubes dwelt; the villages
were a collection of old huts, with torn thatched roofs, on bare
plains, without a tree and without a garden; there was only the
indigenous wild cherry-tree. The houses were built of wooden rafters
and clay; going through the house door, one entered a room with a large
hearth, without a chimney; stoves were unknown; no candle was ever
lighted, only fir chips brightened the darkness of the long winter
evenings; the chief article in the miserable furniture was the
crucifix, and under it a bowl of holy water. The dirty, forlorn people
lived on rye porridge, or only on herbs, which they made into soup, or
on herrings, and brandy, in which both women and men indulged. Bread
was almost unknown; many had never in their life tasted such a
delicacy; there were few villages in which there was an oven. If they
ever kept bees, they sold the honey to the citizens, as well as carved
spoons and stolen bark; and with the produce, they bought at the fairs,
coarse blue cloth dresses, with black fur caps, and bright red
handkerchiefs for the women. There was rarely a weaving-loom, and the
spinning-wheel was unknown. The Prussians heard there no national
songs; there were no dances, no music, nor indeed any of the pleasures
which the most miserable Poles partake of, but stupidly and silently
the people drank bad drams, fought, and reeled about. The poor noble
also differed little from the peasant; he drove his own rude plough,
and clattered in wooden slippers about the unboarded floor of his hut.
It was difficult, even for the Prussian King, to make anything of these
people. The use of potatoes spread rapidly, but the people long
continued to destroy the fruit trees, the culture of which was
commanded; and they opposed all other attempts at cultivation. Equally
needy and decaying were the frontier districts with Polish population;
but the Polish peasant preserved, in his state of poverty and disorder,
at least the vivacity of his race. Even on the properties of the
greater nobles, such as the Starosties, and of the crown, all the
farming buildings were ruined and useless. If any one wished to forward
a letter, he had to send a special messenger, for there was no post in
the country; indeed, in the villages no need of it was felt, for a
great portion of the nobles could not read or write, more than the
peasants. Were any one ill, no assistance could be obtained but the
mysterious remedies of some old village crone, for there was no
apothecary in the whole country. Any one who needed a coat, did well to
be able to use a needle himself, for no tailor was to be found for many
miles, unless one passed through the country on a venture.[22] He who
wished to build a house, had first to ascertain whether he could get
labourers from the west. The country people still kept up a weak
struggle with hordes of wolves, and there were few villages in which
men and beasts were not decimated every winter.[23] If the small-pox
broke out, or any other infectious illness came into the country, the
people saw the white figure of the pestilence flying through the air
and settling down on their huts; they knew what such appearances
betokened; it was the desolation of their homes, the destruction of
whole communities; with gloomy resignation they awaited their fate.
There was hardly any administration of justice in the country; only in
the larger cities were powerless courts. The Starosts inflicted
punishment with arbitrary power; they beat and threw into horrible
jails, not only the peasant, but even the citizens of the country towns
who rented their houses or fell into their hands. In their quarrels
amongst themselves they contended by bribery, in any of the few courts
that had jurisdiction over them. In later years, even that had almost
fallen into disuse, and they sought revenge with their own hands.

It was indeed a forlorn country, without discipline, without law, and
without a master; it was a wilderness, with only a population of
500,000 on 600 square miles--not 850 to the mile. And the Prussian King
treated his acquisition like an untenanted prairie; almost at his
pleasure he fixed boundary stones, or removed them some miles further.
And then he began, in his admirable way, the culture of the country;
the very rottenness of its condition was attractive to him, and West
Prussia became, as Silesia had hitherto been, his favourite child, that
he washed and brushed, and dressed in new clothes, sent to school,
controlled, and kept under his eyes, with incessant care like a true
mother. The diplomatic contention about the acquisition still
continued, but he sent a troop of his best officials into the
wilderness; the districts were divided into small circles; the whole
surface of the country valued in the shortest time, and equally taxed;
and every circle provided with a provincial magistrate, a judicature, a
post, and a sanitary police. New parishes were called into life as if
by magic; a company of 187 schoolmasters were introduced into the
country; the worthy Semler had sought out and drilled some of them.
Numbers of German artisans were hired, machine and brick makers;
digging, hammering, and building began all over the country; the cities
were reinhabited; street upon street arose out of the heaps of ruins;
the Starosties were changed into crown property; new villages were
built and colonised, and new agriculture enjoined. In the course of the
first year after taking possession of the country, the great canal was
dug, three German miles in length, uniting the Vistula by means of the
Netze with the Oder and Elbe; a year after, the King had given
directions for this work, he saw loaded boats from the Oder, 120 feet
long, passing from the East to the Vistula. By means of the new
water-wheels, wide districts of country were drained and occupied by
German colonists. The King worked indefatigably; he praised and blamed;
and, however great the zeal of his officials, they could seldom do
enough for him. In consequence of this, the wild Sclavonian tares,
which had shot up, not only there but also in the German fields, were
brought under, so that even the Polish districts got accustomed to the
new order of things; and West Prussia, in the war after 1806, proved
itself almost as Prussian as the old provinces.

Whilst the grey-headed King was creating and looking after everything,
one year passed after another over his thoughtful head; all about him
was more tranquil, but void and lonely, and small was the circle of men
in whom he confided. He had laid his flute aside, and the new French
literature appeared to him insipid and prosy; sometimes it seemed as if
a new life sprouted up under him in Germany, to which he was a
stranger. Unweariedly did he labour for the improvement of his army and
the welfare of his people; ever less did he value his tools, and ever
higher and more passionate was his feeling of the great duties of his
position.

But if his struggles in the Seven Years' War may be called superhuman,
equally so did his labours now appear to contemporaries. There was
something great, but also terrible, in the way in which he made the
prosperity of the whole his highest and constant object, disregarding
the comfort of individuals. When, in front of the ranks, he dismissed
from the service with bitter words of blame the Colonel of a regiment
which had made a great blunder at a review; when, in the marsh lands of
the Netze, he calculated more the strokes of the ten thousand spades
than the hardships of the labourers, who lay, stricken with marsh
fever, in the hospital he had erected for them; when be overstepped in
his demands what the most rapid action could accomplish,--terror as of
one who moved in an unearthly element mingled with the deep reverence
and devotion of his people. Like Fate, he appeared to the Prussians,
incalculable, inexorable, and omniscient; superintending the smallest
as well as the greatest things. When they related to one another that
he had endeavoured to control Nature also, but that his orange-trees
had been frozen by the last spring frosts, then they secretly rejoiced
that there were limits even for their King, but still more that he had
borne it with such good humour, and had made his bow to the cold days
of May.

With touching sympathy the people collected all the sayings of the King
in which there was any human feeling that brought him more into
communion with them. So lonely were his house and garden, that the
imaginations of his Prussians continually hovered about the consecrated
spot. If any one was so fortunate as to come into the neighbourhood of
the castle on a warm moonlight night, he would perhaps find open doors
without a guard, and he could see the great King in his bedroom,
sleeping on his camp-bed. The scent of the flowers, the night song of
the birds, and the quiet moonlight were the only guards, almost the
whole regal state, of the lonely man.

For fourteen years after the acquisition of West Prussia, did the
oranges of Sans Souci bloom; then did Nature reassert her empire over
the great King. He died alone, only surrounded by his servants.

In the bloom of life he was completely wrapped up in ambitious
feelings; he had wrested from fate all the high and splendid garlands
of life,--he, the prince of poets and philosophers, the historian and
the General. No triumph that he had ever gained contented him; all
earthly fame had become to him accidental, uncertain, and valueless; an
iron feeling of duty, incessantly working, was all that remained to
him. Amid the dangerous alternation of warm enthusiasm and cool
acuteness, his soul had reached its maturity. He had, in his own mind,
surrounded with a poetical halo, certain individuals; and he despised
the multitude about him. But in the struggles of life his egotism
disappeared; he lost almost all that was personally dear to him, and he
ended by caring little for individuals, whilst the need of living
for the whole became ever stronger in him. With the most refined
self-seeking, he had desired the highest for himself; and at last,
regardless of himself, he gave himself up for the public weal and the
lowest. He had entered life as an idealist, and his ideal had not been
destroyed by the most fearful experiences, but rather ennobled,
exalted, and purified; he had sacrificed many men to his State, but no
man so much as himself.

Great and uncommon did this appear to his contemporaries; greater still
to us, who can perceive, even in the present time, the traces of his
activity in the character of our people, our political life, our arts,
and literature.



                              CHAPTER IX.

                   OF THE SCHOOLING OF THE GERMAN CITIZEN.
                                (1790.)


Many races of poets had passed away; their hearts had never been
stirred by vivid impressions of a heroes life; they celebrated the
victories of Alexander and the death of Cato in countless forms, with
chilling phrases and in artificial periods. Now the smallest story told
at the house-door by an invalid soldier caused transports, even that
the great King of Prussia had been seen by him at the cathedral and had
spoken five words to him. The tale of the simple man brought at once,
as if by enchantment, before the minds of his hearers the exalted image
of the man, the camp, the watch-fire, and the watch. How weak was the
impression produced by the artificial praise of long-spun verses
against such anecdotes which could be told in a few lines! They excited
sympathy and fellow-feeling, even to tears and wringing of hands. In
what lay the magic of these slight traits of life? Those few words of
the King were so characteristic, one could perceive in them the whole
nature of the hero, and the rough true-hearted tone of the narrator
gave his account a peculiar colouring which increased the effect. A
poetic feeling was undoubtedly produced in the hearer, but different as
heaven from earth to the old art. And this poetry was felt by every one
in Germany after the Silesian war; it had become as popular as the
newspapers and the roll of the soldiers' drum. He who would produce an
effect as a German poet, must know how to narrate, like that honest man
of the people, in a simple and homely way, as from the heart, and it
must be a subject which would make the heart beat quicker. Goethe knew
well why he referred the whole of the youthful intellectual life of his
time to Frederic II., for even he had in his father's house been
influenced by the noble poetry which shone from the life of that great
man on his contemporaries. The great King had pronounced "Götz von
Berlichingen" a horrible piece, yet he had himself materially
contributed to it, by giving the poet courage to weave together the old
anecdotes of the troopers into a drama. And when Goethe, in his old
age, concluded his last drama, he brought forward again the figure of
the old King, and he makes his Faust an indefatigable and exacting
master, who carries his canal through the marsh lands of the Vistula.
And it was not different with Lessing, to say nothing of the minor
poets. In "Minna von Barnhelm," the King sends a decisive letter
on the stage; and in "Nathan"--the antagonism betwixt tolerance and
fanaticism, betwixt Judaism and priestcraft--is an ennobled reflex of
the views of D'Argen's Jewish letters.

It was not only the easily moved spirit of poets that was excited by
the idea of the King: even the scientific life of the Germans, their
speculative and moral philosophy, were elevated and transformed by it.

For the freedom of conscience which the King placed at the head of his
maxims of government, dissolved like a spell the compulsion which the
church had hitherto laid on the learned. The strong antipathy which the
King had for priestly rule, and every kind of restraint of the mind,
worked in many spheres. The most daring teaching, the most determined
attacks on existing opinions, were now allowed; the struggle was
carried on with equal weapons, and science obtained for the first time
a feeling of supremacy over the soul. It was by no accident that Kant
rose to eminence in Prussia; for the whole stringent power of his
teaching, the high elevation of the feeling of duty, even the quiet
resignation with which the individual had to submit himself to the
"categorical imperative," is nothing more than the ideal counterpart of
the devotion to duty which the King practised himself and demanded of
his Prussians. No one has more nobly expressed than the great
philosopher himself, how much the State system of Frederic II. had been
the basis of his teaching.

Historical science was not the least gainer by him. Great political
deeds were so intimately blended with the imaginations and the hearts
of Germans, that every individual participated in them; manly doings
and sufferings appeared so worthy of reverence, that the feeling for
what was significant and characteristic animated in a new way the
German historical inquirer, and his precepts for the nation attained a
higher meaning.

It was not, indeed, immediately that the Germans gained the sure
judgment and political culture which are necessary to every historian
who undertakes to represent life of his nation. It was remarkable that
the historical mind of Germany deviated so much from that of England
and France, but it developed itself in a way that led the greatest
intellectual acquisitions.

And these new blossoms of intellectual life in Germany, which were
unfolded after the year 1750, bore a thoroughly national character;
indeed, their highest gain remains up to the present time almost
entirely to the German. It began to be recognised that the life of a
people develops itself, like that of an individual, according to
certain natural laws; that, through the individual souls of the
inventor and thinker, a something national and in common penetrates
from generation to generation, each at the same time limiting and
invigorating it. Since Winckelman undertook to discern and fix the
periods of ancient sculptural art, a similar advance was ventured upon
in other domains of knowledge. Semler had already endeavoured to point
out the historical development of Christianity in the oldest church.
The existence of old Homer was denied, and the origin of the epical
poem sought in the peculiarities of a popular life which existed 3000
years ago. The meaning of myths and traditions, striking peculiarities
in the inventions and creations of the youthful period of a people,
were clearly pointed out; soon Romulus and the Tarquins, and finally
the records of the Bible, were subjected to the same reckless
inquiries.

But it was peculiar that these deep-thinking investigations were united
with so much freedom and power of invention. He who wrote the "Laocoon"
and the "Dramaturgie" was himself a poet; and Goethe and Schiller, the
same men whose springs of imagination flowed so full and copiously,
looked intently into its depth, investigating, like quiet men of
learning, the laws of life of their novels, dramas, and ballads.

Meanwhile all the best spirits of the nation were enchanted with their
poems; the beautiful was suddenly poured out over the German soil as if
by a divinity. With an enthusiasm which often approached to worship,
the German gave himself up to the charms of his national poetry. The
world of shining imagery acquired in his eyes an importance which
sometimes made him unjust to the practical life which surrounded him.
He, who so often appeared as the citizen of a nation without a State,
found almost everything that was noble and exalted in the golden realm
of poetry and art; the realities about him appeared to him common, low,
and indifferent.

How through this an aristocracy of men of refinement were trained,--how
the great poets themselves were occupied in looking down with proud
resignation from their serene heights on the twilight of the German
earth,--has often been portrayed. Here we will only relate how the time
worked on the common run of men, remodelling their characters and
ideas.

It is the year 1790, four years after the death of the great King; the
second year in which the eyes of Germany had been fixed with
astonishment on the condition of France. A few individuals only
interested themselves in the struggle going on in the capital of a
foreign country betwixt the nation and the throne. The German citizen
had freed himself from the influence of French culture; indeed Frederic
II. had taught his country people to pay little attention to the
political condition of the neighbouring country. It was known that
great reforms were necessary in France, and the literary men were on
the side of the French opposition. The Germans were more especially
occupied with themselves; a feeling of satisfaction is perceptible in
the nation, of which they had been long deprived; they perceive that
they are making good progress; a wonderful spirit of reform penetrates
through their whole life: trade is flourishing, wealth increases, the
new culture exalts and pleases, youths recite with feeling the verses
of their favourite poet, and rejoice to see on the stage the
representations of great virtues and vices, and listen to the
entrancing sounds of German music. It was a new life, but it was the
end of the good time. Many years later the Germans looked longingly
back for the peaceful years after the Seven Years' War.

If any one at this time entered the streets of a moderate-sized city,
through which he had passed in the year 1750, he would be struck by the
greater energy of its inhabitants. The old walls and gates are indeed
still standing; but it is proposed to free from brick and mortar the
entrances which are too narrow for men and waggons, and to substitute
light iron trellis-work, and in other places to open new gates in the
walls. The rampart round the city moat has been planted with pollards,
and in the thick shade of the limes and chestnuts the citizens take
their constitutional walks, and the children of the lower orders
breathe the fresh summer air. The small gardens on the city walls are
embellished; new foreign blossoms shine amongst the old, and cluster
round some fragment of a column or a small wooden angel that is painted
white; here and there a summer-house rises, either in the form of an
antique temple or as a hut of moss-covered bark, as a remembrance of
the original state of innocence of the human race, in which the
feelings were so incomparably purer and the restraints of dress and
_convenances_ were so much less.

But the traffic of the city has extended itself beyond the old walls,
where a high road leads to the city, and suburban rows of houses
stretch far into the plain. Many new houses, with red-tiled roofs under
loaded fruit-trees, delight the eyes. The number of houses in the city
has also increased; leaning with broad fronts, gable to gable, there
they stand, with large windows and open staircases enclosing wide
spaces. The ornaments that adorn the front are still modestly made of
plaster of Paris; bright lime-washes of all shades are almost the only
characteristics, and give the streets a variegated appearance. They
are, for the most part, built by merchants and manufacturers, who are
now almost everywhere the wealthy people of the city.

The wounds inflicted by the Seven Years' War on the prosperity of the
citizens are healed. Not in vain have the police, for more than fifty
years, admonished and commanded; the city arrangements are well
regulated; provisions for the care of the poor are organised, funds for
their maintenance, doctors, and medicine supplied gratuitously. In the
larger cities much is done for the support of the infirm; in Dresden,
in 1790, the yearly amount of funds for the poor was 50,000 thalers; in
Berlin also, where Frederic William had done much for the poor, the
government warmly participated in rendering assistance,--it was
reported that more was done there than elsewhere. But the benevolence
which the educated classes evinced towards the people was deficient in
judgment--alms-giving was the only thing thought of; a few years later
it was considered truly patriotic in the finance minister, von
Struensee, to remit to the Berlin poor a considerable portion of his
salary. At the same time there were loud complaints of the increasing
immorality, and of the preponderance of poor. It was remarked, with
alarm, that Berlin, under Frederic II., had been the only capital in
the world in which more men were born in the year than died, and that
now it was beginning to be the reverse. At Berlin, Dresden, and
Leipzig, beggars were no longer to be seen; indeed there were few in
any of the Prussian cities, with exception of Silesia and West Prussia;
but in the smaller places in Lower Saxony they still continued to be a
plague to travellers. They congregated at the hotels and post-houses,
and waylaid strangers on their arrival.

But a greater and more satisfactory improvement was made by the
exertions of the government in the increased care of the sick: the
devastating pestilence and other diseases were--one has reason to
believe--shut out from the frontiers of Germany. From 1709-11 the
plague had raged fearfully in Poland, and even in 1770 there had been
deaths from it; whole villages had been depopulated by it, but our
native land was little injured. There was one disease which still made
its ravages among rich and poor alike--the small-pox. It was Europe's
great misery--the repulsive visitant of blooming youth, bringing death
and disfigurement. It was the turning-point of life, how they passed
through this malady. Much heart-rending misery has now ceased; the
beauty of our women has become more secure, and the number of diseased
and helpless, has considerably diminished since Jenner and his friends
established in London, in 1799, the first public vaccinating
institution.

Everywhere, about this time, began complaints of the want of economy,
and immoderate love of pleasure of the working classes: complaints
which certainly were justified in many cases, but which must inevitably
be heard where the greater wealth of individuals increases the
necessities of the people in the lower classes. One must be cautious
before one assumes from this a decrease in the popular strength; the
awakening desires of the people is more frequently the first unhealthy
sign of progress. On the whole it does not appear to have been so very
bad. Smoking was indeed general; it constantly increased, although
Frederic II. had raised the price in Prussia by his stamp on each
packet. The coloured porcelain-headed pipe began to supplant the
meerschaum. In Northern Germany the white beer became the new
fashionable drink of the citizens; staid old-fashioned tradesmen shook
their heads, and complained that their favourite old brew became worse,
and that the consumption of wine among the citizens increased
immoderately. In Saxony they began to drink coffee to a great extent,
however thin and adulterated it might be, and it was the only warm
drink of the poor. The general complaint of travellers, who came from
the south of Germany, was that the cooking in Prussia, Saxony, and
Thuringia was poor and scanty.

The public amusements, also, were neither numerous or expensive.
Foremost was the theatre; it was quite a passion with the citizens. The
wandering companies became better and more numerous, the number of
theatres greater; the best place was the parterre, in which officers,
students, or young officials, who were frequently at variance, gave the
tone. The sensation dramas, with dagger, poison, and rattling of
chains, enchanted the unpretending; pathetic family dramas, with
iniquitous ministers of state, and raving lovers excited feeling in the
educated; and the bad taste of the pieces, and the good acting,
astonished strangers. The entrance of one of these companies within
walls was an event of great importance; and we see, from the accounts
of many worthy men, how great was the influence of such representations
upon their life. It is difficult for us to comprehend the enthusiasm
with which young people of education followed these performances,
the intensity of the feelings excited in them. Iffland's pieces,
"Verbrechen aus Ehrgeiz" and "Der Spieler," drew forth not only tears
and sobs, but also oaths and impassioned vows. Once at Lauchstädt, when
the curtain fell at the end of the "Spielers" (Gamblers), one of the
wildest students of Halle rushed up to another, also of Halle, but whom
he scarcely knew, and begged him, the tears streaming from his eyes, to
record his oath that he would never again touch a card. According to
the account the excited youth kept his word. Similar scenes were not
extraordinary. Poor students saved money for weeks to enable them to go
even once from Halle to the theatre in Lauchstädt, and they ran back
the same night, so as not to miss their lectures the next morning. But,
lively as was the interest of the Germans in the drama, it was not easy
for the society of even the larger cities to keep up a stationary
theatre. At Berlin the French theatre was changed to a German one, with
the proud title of National Theatre; but this, the only one in the
capital, was, in 1790, little visited, although Fleck and both the
Unzelmanns played there. The Italian Opera was, indeed, better
attended, but it was given at the King's expense; every magistrate had
his own box; the King still sat, with his court, in the parterre behind
the orchestra; and throughout the whole winter there were only six
representations--one new and one old, each performed three times. Then,
undoubtedly, the public thronged there, to see the splendour of this
court festival, and were astounded at the great procession of elephants
and lions in "Darius." It is mentioned that at Dresden, also, the
children's theatricals in families were far more in request than the
great theatre; and in Berlin, which was considered so particularly
frivolous and pleasure-seeking, this same winter, at the great
masquerade, of which there was so much talk in the country, there was
only one person dressed in character; the others were all spiritless
dominoes, and the whole was very dull to strangers.[24] All this does
not look much like lavish expenditure.

The usual social enjoyment, also, was very moderate in character; it
was a visit to a public coffee-garden. Nobles, officers, officials, and
merchants, all thronged there for the sake of some unpretending music
and coloured lamps. This kind of entertainment had been first
introduced at Leipzig and Vienna about 1700; the great delights of this
coffee-drinking in the shade were celebrated in prose and verse, and
the more frivolous boasted how convenient such assemblages were for
carrying on tender liaisons. These coffee-gardens have continued
characteristic of German social intercourse for nearly 150 years.
Families sat at different tables, but could be seen and observed; the
children were constrained to behave themselves properly, and careful
housewives carried with them from home coffee and cakes in cornets.

With the well-educated citizen, hospitality had become more liberal,
and entertainments more sumptuous; but in their family life they
retained much of the strict discipline of their ancestors. The power of
the husband and father was predominant; both the master and mistress of
the house required prompt obedience; the distinction between those who
were to command and to obey was more clearly defined. Only husband and
wife had learnt to address each other with the loving "_thou_"; the
children of the gentry, and often also of artisans, spoke to their
parents in the third person plural: the servants were addressed by
their masters with the "_thou_," but by strangers in the third person
singular. In the same way the "_he_" was used by the master to his
journeymen, by the landed proprietor to the "_schulze_," and by the
gymnastic teacher to a scholar of the upper classes; but in many places
the scholar addressed his _Herr Director_ with "your honour."

More frequently than forty years before, did the German now leave his
home to travel through some part of his Fatherland. The means of
intercourse were intolerable, considering the great extension of
commerce and the increased love of travelling. Made roads were few and
short; the road from Frankfort to Mayence, with its avenues of trees,
pavement, and footpaths, was reputed the best _chausseé_ in Germany;
the great old road from the Rhine to the east was still only a mud
road. Still did persons of consequence continue to travel in hired
coaches or extra post; for though on the main roads the vehicles of the
ordinary post had roofs, they had no springs, and were considered more
suitable for luggage than passengers; they had no side doors; it was
necessary to enter under the roof, or creep in over the pole. At the
back of the carriage the luggage was stowed up to the roof, and
fastened with cords; the parcels also lay under the seats; kegs of
herrings and smoked salmon incessantly rolled on to the benches of the
passengers, who were constantly occupied in pushing them back; as it
was impossible for people to stretch out their feet on account of the
packages, they were obliged in despair to dangle their legs outside the
carriage. Insupportable were the long stoppages at the stations; the
carriage was never ready to start under two hours; it took eleven weary
days and nights of shaking and bruising to get from Cleves to Berlin.
Travelling on the great rivers was better; down the Danube, it is true,
there were as yet nothing but the old-fashioned barges, without mast or
sails, drawn by horses; but on the Rhine the lover of the picturesque
rejoiced in a passage by the regular Rhine boats; their excellent
arrangements were extolled, they had mast and sails, and only used
horses as an assistance; they also had a level deck, with rails, so
that people could promenade on it, and cabins, with windows and some
furniture. An ever-changing and agreeable society was to be found
collected there, as many besides travellers on business used them; for
Germans, after 1750, had made a most remarkable progress; the love of
nature had attained a great development. The English landscape
gardening took the place of the Italian and French architectural
gardens, and the old Robinsonades were followed by descriptions of
loving children, or savages in an enchanting and strange landscape. The
German, later than the highly-cultivated Englishman, was seized with
the love of wandering in distant countries; but it had only lately
become an active feeling. It was now the fashion to admire on the
mountains the rising sun and the floating mist in the valleys; and the
pastoral life with butter and honey, mountain prospects, the perfume of
the woods, the flowers of the meadows, and ruins, were extolled, in
opposition to the commonplace pleasures of play, operas, comedies, and
balls. Already did the language abound in rich expressions, describing
the beauties of nature, the mountains, waterfalls, &c.; and already did
laborious travellers explore not only the Alps, but the Apennines and
Etna; but the Tyrol was hardly known.

It was still easy to discover by his dialect, even in the centre of
Germany, to what province the most highly-educated man belonged; for
the language of family life, giving expression to the deepest feelings
of the heart, was full of provincial peculiarities, and those were
called affected and new-fangled who accustomed themselves to pronounce
words as they were written. Indeed, in the north, as in the south, it
was considered patriotic to preserve the native dialect pure; the young
ladies of some of the best families formed an alliance to defend the
dialect of their city from the bold inroads of the foreigners, who had
come to settle there. It was said, to the credit of Electoral Saxony,
that it was the only part where even in the lowest orders intelligible
German was spoken. A praise that is undoubtedly justified by the
prevalence for three centuries of the Upper Saxon dialect in the
written language, which is worthy of our observation, as it gives us an
idea how the others must have spoken.

In 1790, one might assume that a city community, which was reputed to
have made any progress, was situated in a Protestant district; for it
was evident to every traveller that the culture and social condition in
Protestant and Roman Catholic countries was very different; but even in
the same Protestant district, within the walls of one city, the
contrast of culture was very striking. The external difference of
classes began to diminish, whilst the inward contrast became almost
greater; the nobleman, the well-educated citizen, and the artisan with
the peasant, form three distinct circles; each had different springs of
action, so that they appear to us as if each belonged to a different
century.

The most confident and light-hearted were the nobles; there was also
some earnestness of mind in them, not unfrequently accompanied by ample
knowledge; but the majority lived a life of easy enjoyment: the women,
on the whole, were more excited than the men, by the poetry and great
scientific struggle of the time. Already were the dangers which beset
an exclusive position very visible, more especially in the proudest
circles of the German landed aristocracy; both the higher and lower
Imperial nobility were hated and derided. They played the part of
little Sovereigns in the most grotesque modes; they loved to surround
themselves with a court of gentlemen and ladies, even down to the
warder, whose horn often announced across the narrow frontier that his
lord was taking his dinner; nor was the court dwarf omitted, who,
perhaps in fantastic attire, threw his misshapen head every evening
into the _salon_ of the family, and announced it was time to go to bed.
But the family possessions could not be kept together; one field after
another fell into the hands of creditors; there was no end to their
money embarrassments. Many of the Imperial nobles withdrew into the
capitals of the Ecclesiastical States. In the Franconian bishoprics on
the Rhine, in Munsterland, an aristocracy established themselves, who,
according to the bitter judgment of contemporaries, did not display
very valuable qualities. Their families were in hereditary possession
of rich cathedral foundations and bishoprics; they were slavish
imitators of French taste at table, in their wardrobes, and equipages;
but their bad French and stupid ignorance were frequently thrown in
their teeth.

The poorer among the landed nobility were in the hands of the Jews,
especially in East Germany; still, in 1790, the greater part of the
money that circulated through, the country passed through the hands of
the nobles. On their properties they ruled as Sovereigns, but the land
was generally managed by a steward. There was seldom a good
understanding betwixt the lord and the administrator of his property,
whose trustworthiness did not then stand in high repute; placed between
the proprietor and the villein, the steward endeavoured to gain from
both; he took money from the countrymen, and remitted their farm
service, and, in the sale of the produce, took as much care of himself
as of his master.[25]

The country nobleman was glad to spend the winter months in the
capital of his district; in summer the fashionable amusement was to
visit the baths. There the family displayed all the splendour in
their power. Much regard was paid to horses and fine carriages: the
nobleman liked to use his privilege of driving four-in-hand, and there
were always running footmen, who went in front of the horses, in
theatrical-coloured clothes, with a large whip thrown over their
shoulders, and they wore shoes and white stockings. At evening parties,
or after the theatre, a long row of splendid carriages--many with
outriders--were to be seen in the streets, and respectfully did the man
of low degree look upon the splendour of the lords. They showed their
rank also in their dress, by rich embroidery, and white plumes round
their hats; at the masquerade they had a special preference for the
rose-coloured domino, which Frederic II. had declared to be a privilege
of the nobility. Many of the richer ones kept chaplains, small concerts
were frequent; and at their country seats, early on the Sunday morning,
there was a serenade under the windows, as a morning greeting to the
lady of the house. Play was a fatal amusement, especially at the baths;
there the German landed proprietors met together, and played chiefly
with Poles, who were the greatest gamblers in Europe. Thus it often
happened to the German gentlemen, that they lost their carriages and
horses at play, and had to travel home, involved in debt, in hired
carriages. Such mischances were borne with great composure, and
speedily forgotten. In point of faith the greater part of the country
nobility were orthodox, as were most of the village pastors; but more
liberal minds clung to the French philosophy. Still did Paris continue
to issue its puppets and pictures of fashions, hats, ribbons, and
dresses throughout Germany; but even in the modes a great change was
gradually beginning: hoops and hair cushions were no longer worn by
ladies of _ton_, except at court; rouge was strongly objected to, and
war was declared against powder; figures became smaller and thinner,
and on the head, over small curly locks, the pastoral straw hat was
worn; with men, also, embroidered coats, with breeches, silk stockings,
buckled shoes, and the small dress-sword, were only worn as festival
attire; the German cavalier began to take pleasure in English horses,
and the round hat, boots, and spurs were introduced; and they ventured
to appear in ladies' rooms with their riding-whips.[26]

An easy life of enjoyment was frequent in the families of the
nobility--a cheerful self-indulgence without great refinement, much
courtly complaisance and good humour; they had also the art of
narrating well, which now appears to recede further eastward, and of
interweaving naturally anecdotes with fine phrases in their
conversation; and they had a neat way of introducing drolleries. The
morals of these circles, so often bitterly reprobated, were, it
appears, no worse than they usually are among mere pleasure-seekers.
They were not inclined to subtle inquiries, nor were they generally
much disquieted with severe qualms of conscience; their feelings of
honour were flexible, but certain limits were to be observed. Within
these boundaries they were tolerant; in play, wine, and affairs of the
heart, gentlemen, and even ladies, could do much without fear of very
severe comments, or disturbances of the even tenor of their life. What
could not be undone they quietly condoned, and, even when the bounds of
morality had been overstepped, quickly recovered their composure. The
art of making life agreeable was then more common than now; equally
enduring was the power of preserving a vigorous, active, genial spirit,
and a freshness of humour up to the latest age, and of carrying on a
cheerful and respectable old age, a life rich in pleasure, though not
free from conflicts between duty and inclination. There may still be
found old pictures of this time, which give us a pleasant view of the
naive freshness and easy cheerfulness of the most aged men and women.

Under the nobility were the country people and petty citizens, who, as
well as the lower officials, took that conception of life which
prevailed in Germany during the beginning of the century. Life was
still colourless. We deceive ourselves if we imagine that at the end of
this century the philosophic enlightenment had produced much
improvement in the dwellings of the poor, especially in the country. In
the villages, undoubtedly, there were schools, but the master was
frequently only a former servant of the landed proprietor, a poor
tailor or weaver, who gave up his work as little as possible, and
perhaps left his wife to conduct the school. The police of the low
countries was still ineffective, and the vagrants were a heavy burden.
There were certainly strict regulations against roving vagabonds:
village watchmen and mounted patrols were to stop every beggar, and
pass him on to his birth-place; but the village watchman did not watch,
the communities shunned the expenses of transport or feared the revenge
of the offenders, and the patrols preferred looking after the carriers,
who went out of the turnpike roads, because these could pay a fine.
Complaints were made of this even in Electoral Saxony.

The countryman still continued true to his church; there was much
praying and psalm-singing in the huts of the poor, frequently a good
deal of pious enthusiasm; there were still revivalists and prophets
among the country people. In the mountain countries, especially where
an active industry had established itself, in the poorest huts, among
the wood carvers, weavers, and lacemakers of the Erzgebirger and of the
Silesian valleys, a pious, godly feeling was alive. A few years later,
when the continental embargo annihilated the industry of the poor, amid
hunger and deprivations which often brought them to the point of death,
they showed that their faith gave them the power of suffering with
resignation.

Betwixt the nobility and the mass of the people stood the higher class
of citizens: literati, officials, ecclesiastics, great merchants, and
tradespeople. They also were divided from the people by a privilege,
the importance of which would not be understood in our time,--they were
exempt from military service. The severest oppression which fell on the
sons of the people, their children were free from. The sons of peasants
or artisans who had the capacity for study could do so, but they had
first to pass an examination, the so-called "genius test," to exempt
them from service in the army. But to the son of a literary man or a
merchant it was a disgrace, if, after a learned school education, he
sank so low as to fall into the hands of recruiting officers. Even the
benevolent Kant refused the request of a scholar for a recommendation,
because he had had the meanness to bear his position as a soldier so
long and so meekly.[27]

In the literary circle there was still an external difference from the
citizen in dress and mode of life: it was the best portion of the
nation, in possession of the highest culture of the time. It included
poets and thinkers, inventive artists and men of learning, all who won
any influence in the domain of intellectual life, as leaders and
educators, teachers and critics. Many of the nobility who had entered
official life, or had higher intellectual tendencies, had joined them.
They were sometimes fellow-workers, frequently companions and kindly
promoters of ideal interests.

In every city there were gentry in this literary set. They were
scholars of the great philosopher of Königsberg; their souls were
filled with the poetic creations of the great poet, with the high
results of the knowledge of antiquity. But in their life there was
still much sternness and earnestness; the performance of duty was not
easy or cheerful. Their conception of existence wavered betwixt ideal
requirements and a fastidious, often narrow pedantry, which strikingly
distinguished them, not always advantageously, from the nobleman.

It is a peculiarity of modern culture, that the impulse of intellectual
power spreads itself in the middle of the nation between the masses and
the privileged classes, moulding and invigorating both; the more any
circle of earthly interests isolates itself from the educated class of
citizens, the further it is removed from all that gives light, warmth,
and a secure footing to its life. Whoever in Germany writes a history
of literature, art, philosophy, and science, does in fact treat of the
family history of the educated citizen class.

If one seeks what especially unites the men of this class and separates
them from others, it is not chiefly their practical activity in a
fortunate middle position, but their culture in the Latin schools.
Therein lies their pre-eminent advantage,--the great secret of their
influence. No one should be more willing to acknowledge this than the
merchant or manufacturer, who has worked his way up from beneath, and
entered into their circle.

He perceives with admiration the sharpness and precision in thought and
speech which his sons have attained by occupying themselves with the
Latin and Greek grammar, which are seldom acquired in any other
occupation. The unartificial logic, which so strikingly appears in the
artistic structure of the ancient languages, soon gives acuteness and
promotes the understanding of all intellectual culture, and the mass of
the foreign materials of language is an excellent strengthener of the
memory.

Still more invigorating is the purport conveyed from that distant world
that was now disclosed to the learner. Still does a very great portion
of our intellectual riches descend from antiquity. He who would rightly
understand what works around and in him, and has perhaps long been the
common property of all classes of the people, must rise up to the
source; and an acquaintance with a great unfettered national life, and
a comprehension of some of the laws of life, its beauties and its
limitations, give a freedom to the judgment upon the condition of the
present which nothing else can supply. He whose soul has been warmed by
the Dialogues of Plato, must look down with contempt on the bigotry of
the monks; and he who has read with advantage the "Antigone" in the
ancient language, will lay aside the "Sonnenjungfrau" with justifiable
indifference.

But most important of all was the peculiar method of learning at the
Latin schools and universities. It is not by the unthinking reception
of the material presented to them, but their minds are awakened by
their own investigations and researches. In the higher classes of the
gymnasiums, and at the universities, the students became the intimates
of earnest scholars. It was just the disputed questions which most
stirred them: the inquiries still unanswered, and which most powerfully
exercised the mind, were those which they most loved to impart. Thus
the youth penetrated as free investigator into the very centre of life,
and, however far his later vocation might remove him from these
investigations, he had received the highest knowledge, and attained to
the greatest results of the time; and for the rest of his life was
capable of forming a judgment on the greatest questions of science and
faith, by accepting or rejecting all the new materials and points of
view which he had gained. That these schools of learning made little
preparation for practical life, was no tenable complaint. The merchant
who took his sons from the university to the counting-house, soon
discovered that they had not learnt much with which younger apprentices
were conversant, but that they generally repaired the deficiency with
the greatest facility.

About 1790, this method of culture had attained so much value and
importance, that these years might be called the industrious sixth-form
period of the German people. Eagerly did they learn, and everywhere did
active spontaneous labour take the place of the old mechanism.
Philanthropically did the learned strive to create educational
establishments for every class of the people, and to invent new methods
of instruction by which the greatest results could be obtained from
those who had least powers of learning. To instruct, to educate, and to
raise people from a state of ignorance, was the general desire; not
that this was useful to the nation in general, for the lower classes
could not enter into the exalted feelings which gave to the literary
such enjoyment and elevation of mind.

It is true they themselves felt an inward dissatisfaction. The facts of
life which surrounded them were often in cutting contrast to their
ideal requirements. When the peasant worked like a beast of burden, and
the soldier ran the gauntlet before their windows, nothing seemed to
remain to them but to shut themselves up in their studies, and to
occupy their eyes and mind with times in which they were not wounded by
such barbarities. For it had not yet been tried, what the union of men
of similar views in a great association would accomplish, in bringing
about changes in the State and every sphere of practical interest.

Thus, with all their philanthropy, there arose a quiet despondency even
among the best. They had more soundness and strength of mind than their
fathers, the source of their morality was purer, and they were more
conscientious. But they were still private men. Interest in their
State, in the highest affairs of their nation, had not yet been
developed. They had learnt to perform their duties as men in a noble
spirit, and they contrasted, sometimes hypercritically, the natural
rights of men in a State with the condition under which they lived.
They had become honourable and strictly moral men, and endeavoured to
cast off everything mean with an anxiety which is really touching; but
they were deficient in the power which is developed by the co-operation
of men of like views, under the influence of great practical questions.
The noblest of them were in danger, when they could not withdraw into
themselves, of becoming victims rather than heroes, in the political
and social struggle. This quality was very striking in the construction
of their poetry. Almost all the characters which the greatest poets
produced in their highest works of art were deficient in energy, in
resolute courage, and political sagacity; even in the heroes of the
drama with whom such characteristics were least compatible, there was a
melancholy tendency, as in Galotti, Götz, and Egmont--even in
Wallenstein and Faust. The same race of men who investigated with
wonderful boldness and freedom the secret laws of their intellectual
being, were as helpless and uncertain in the presence of realities, as
a youth who first passes from the schoolroom among men.

A sentimentality of character, and the craving for great emotions on
insignificant occasions, had not disappeared. But this ruling tendency
of the eighteenth century, which has not been entirely cast off even in
the present day, was restrained in 1790 by the worthier aims of
intellectual life. Even sentimentality had had, since Pietism crept
into life, its little history. First, the poor German soul had been
strongly affected; it easily became desponding, and found enjoyment in
observing the tears it shed. Afterwards the enjoyment of its feelings
became more student-like and hearty.

When, in 1750, some jovial companions passed in the extra-post through
a village, the inhabitants of which had planted the churchyard with
roses, the contrast of these flowers of love and the graves so excited
the imagination of these travellers, that they bought a bottle of wine,
went to the churchyard, and, revelling in the comparison of roses and
graves, drank up their wine.[28] But the student flavour of roughness
which was evinced in this enjoyment, passed away when manners became
more refined and life more thoughtful. When, in 1770, two brothers were
travelling in the Rhine country, through a sunny valley among blooming
fruit-trees, one clasped the hand of the other, in order, by the soft
pressure of his, to express the pleasure he derived from his company;
both looked at each other with tender emotion, blessed tears of quiet
feeling rose in the eyes of both, and they embraced each other, or, as
would then have been said, they blessed the country with the holy kiss
of friendship.[29] When, about the same period, a society expected a
dear friend--it must by the way be mentioned that it was a happy
husband and father of a family--the feelings on this occasion also were
far more manifold, and the self-contemplation with which they were
enjoyed, was far greater than with us. The master of the house, with
another guest, went to await the approaching carriage at the house
door; the friend arrives and steps out of the carriage, deeply moved
and somewhat confused. Meanwhile the amiable lady of the house, of whom
in former days the new guest had been an admirer, also comes down the
stairs. The new-comer has already inquired after her with some
agitation, and seems extremely impatient to see her; now he catches
sight of her and shrinks back with emotion, then turns aside, and at
the same time throws his hat with vehemence behind him to the ground,
and staggers towards her. All this has been accompanied with such an
extraordinary expression of countenance, that the nerves of the
bystanders are shaken. The lady of the house goes towards her friend
with outspread arms; but he, instead of accepting her, seizes her hand
and bends over it so as to conceal his face; the lady leans over him
with a heavenly countenance, and says in a tone such as no Clairon or
Dübois could vie with, "Oh, yes; it is you--you are still my dear
friend!" The friend, roused by this touching voice, raises himself a
little, looks into the weeping eyes of his friend, and then again lets
his face sink down on her arm. None of the bystanders can refrain from
tears; they flow down the cheeks of even the unconcerned narrator, he
sobs, and is quite beside himself.[30] After this gushing feeling has
somewhat subsided, they all feel inexpressibly happy, often press each
other's hands, and declare these hours of companionship to be the most
charming of their life. And those who thus comported themselves were
men of well-balanced minds, who looked with contempt on the affectation
of the weak, who wept about nothing and made a vocation of their tears
and feelings, as did the hair-brained Leuchsenring.

But shortly after this, sentimental nature received a rude shock.
Goethe had represented in Werther, the sorrowful fate of a youth who
had perished in consequence of these moods; but had himself a far
nobler and more sound conception of sentiment than existed in his
contemporaries. His narrative was indeed a book for the moulding of
finer natures, through which their sentimentality was turned towards
the noble and poetic. Immense was the effect; tears flowed in streams;
the Werther dress became a favourite costume with sentimental
gentlemen, and Lotte the most renowned female character of that year.
That same year, 1774, a number of tender souls at Wetzlar, men in high
offices and ladies, agreed together to arrange a solemnity at the grave
of the poor Jerusalem. They assembled in the evening, read "Werther,"
and sang the laments and songs on the dead. They wept profusely; at
last, at midnight, the procession went to the churchyard. Every one was
dressed in black, with a dark veil over the face, and a torch in the
hand. Any one who met the procession considered it as a procession of
devils. At the churchyard they formed a circle round the grave, and
sang, as is reported, the song, "Ausgelitten hast du, ausgerungen;" an
orator made a eulogy on the dead, and said that suicide was permitted
to love. Finally the grave was strewed with flowers.[31] The repetition
of this was prevented by prosaic magistrates.

But the tragical conclusion of Goethe's narrative shocked men of sound
understanding. It was no longer a question of jest with flowers and
doves: it was convulsive earnest. When the respectable son of an
official could arrive at such extravagance as suicide, there was an end
of jest. Thus this same work gave rise to a reaction in stronger
natures, and violent literary polemics, from which the Germans
gradually learnt to regard with irony this phase of sentiment, yet
without becoming entirely free from it.

For it was undoubtedly only a variation of the same fundamental
tendency, when souls that had become weary of sighs and tears threw
themselves into the sublime. Even the monstrous appeared admirable. To
speak in hyperbolies--to express with the utmost strength the commonest
things, to give the most insignificant action the air of being
something extraordinary--became for a long time the fashionable folly
of the literary circle. But even this exaggeration disappeared About
1790, the past was looked back upon with smiles, and the spirits of men
were contented with the homely, modest style in which Lafontaine and
Iffland produced emotion.

The growth of a child's mind at this period shall be here portrayed. It
is a narrative of his early youth--not printed--left by a strong-minded
man to his family. It contains nothing uncommon; it is only the
unpretending account of the development of a boy by teaching and home,
such as takes place in a thousand families. But it is just because what
is imparted is so commonplace, that it is peculiarly adapted to excite
the interest of the reader. It gives an instructive insight into the
life of a rising family.

In the first years of the reign of Frederic the Great, a poor teacher
at Leipzig was lying on his deathbed; the long vexations and
persecutions he had endured from his predecessor, a vehement pastor,
had brought him there. His spiritual opponent sought reconciliation
with the dying man; he promised the teacher, Haupt, to take care of his
uneducated children, and he kept his word. He placed one son in the
great commercial house, Frege, which was then at the height of
prosperity. The young Haupt won the confidence of his principal; and
when he wished to establish himself at Zittau, the house of Frege made
the needy youth a loan of 10,000 thalers. The year after, the new
merchant wrote to his creditor to say that his business was making
rapid progress, but that he should get into great difficulties if he
had not the same sum again. His former principal sent him the double.
After eight years the Zittau merchant repaid the whole loan, and the
day on which he sent the last sum, he drank in his house the first
bottle of wine. The son of this man, Ernst Friederich Haupt (he who
will give an account of his school hours in his father's house),
studied law and became a Syndicus, and afterwards Burgomaster of his
native town; he was a man of powerful character and depth of mind, and
also a literary man of comprehensive knowledge; some Latin poems
printed by him are among the most refined and elegant specimens of this
kind of poetry. His life was earnest, and he laboured in a very
restricted sphere with a zeal which never seemed sufficient to satisfy
himself. But the weight of his energetic character became, at the
beginning of the political commotions in 1830, burdensome to the young
democrats among the citizens. It was in the city where he dwelt that
the agitation was carried on by an unworthy man, who later, by his evil
deeds, brought himself to a lamentable end. In the bewilderment of
the first movement, the citizens destroyed the faithful attachment
which for thirty years had subsisted between them and their superior.
The proud and strict man was wounded to his innermost soul by
heartlessness and ingratitude; he withdrew from all public occupation,
and neither the entreaties nor the genuine repentance evinced by his
fellow-citizens shortly after, could make him forget the bitter
mortification of those years which had left their mark upon his life.
When he walked through the streets, looking quietly before him, a
noble melancholy old man with white hair, then--it is related by
eye-witnesses--the people on all sides took off their caps with timid
reverence; but he stepped on without looking to right or left, without
thanks or greeting to the crowd. From that time he lived as a private
man, given up to his scientific pursuits. But his son, Moriz Haupt,
Professor of the University of Berlin, became one of our greatest
philosophers, one of our best men.

Thus begins his account of his first years of school:--

"My earliest recollections begin with the autumn of the year 1776, when
I was two years and a half old. We travelled to the family property; I
sat on my mother's lap, and the soft bloom on her face gave me great
pleasure. I was amused with looking at the trees which appeared to pass
the carriage so quickly. Still do the same trees stand on the other
side of the bridge; still, when I look at them, does this recollection
of the pure world rise before me.

"Already have four-and-forty years passed over the resting-place of
your holy dust, dear departed! So early torn away from us! Gentle as
thy friendly face, must thy soul have been! I knew thee not; only faint
recollections remain to me. I have no picture of thee, not even a sweet
token of remembrance. Yet shortly before they sent me, not seventeen
years of age, to Leipzig, I stood on the holy spot that contains thy
ashes, and sobbing vowed to thee that I would be good!

"Well do I remember the Sunday morning on which my sister Rieckhen was
born. Running hurriedly--I had got up sooner than my brother--and,
unasked for, had run into my mother's room. I announced it to every one
that I found. Some days after, all around me wept 'Mamma is going
away!' called out our old nurse, wringing her hands. 'Away! where,
then?' I inquired with astonishment 'To heaven!' was the answer, which
I did not understand.

"My mother had collected us children once more round her, to kiss and
bless us. My half-sister Jettchen, then almost ten years old, and my
brother Ernst, who was four, had wept. I--as I have often been told, to
my great sorrow--scarcely waited for the kiss, and hid myself playfully
behind my sister, 'Fritz! Fritz!' said my mother, smiling, 'you are and
will remain a giddy boy; well, run away!'

"What I heard of heaven and the resurrection confused my thoughts; it
seemed to me as if my mother would soon awake and be with us again.
Some time after, my brother, who was much more sensible than I, said,
as we were kneeling on a stool, looking at the floating evening clouds,
and talking of our mother: 'No, the resurrection is something quite
different!' But soon after her burial--it was Sunday--when I was
playing in the evening in front of our back door, and a beggar spoke to
me, I exclaimed, 'Mamma is dead!' and ran away from the nurse through
both courts, in order to seek my father, whom I found sitting
sorrowfully in his room. He took me and my brother by the hand and
wept. This appeared strange to me, and I thought, 'So, my father
also can weep, who is so old.' For my father, who was then scarcely
forty-seven years of age, appeared old to me,--far older, for example,
than I now believe myself to look, at almost the same age. But children
look upon things differently to others; besides which, my father had
dark eyebrows, in which respect I have become partly like him.

"Six months after my mother's death, my father took his sister to live
with him, which altered our manner of life in many ways. Our life was
no longer so quiet as before. Still sweet to me is the remembrance of
the tales with which our aunt--who was always called by us and all the
world, _Frau Muhme_--entertained us in the evening. As soon as it was
twilight we dragged her by force into her chair, and we children sat
round her and listened. Stories were hundreds of times repeated of our
father's home, of Leipzig, and of grandfathers and great-grandfathers;
and I longed to see myself at Leipzig, and to see the great fair, which
I represented to myself, strangely enough, as an immense staircase hung
with paper.

"We enjoyed indescribable pleasure when we watched in the evening, by
moonlight, the motion of the clouds. The view from one window was of
the hill and woods. In the forms of those clouds we discovered the
figures of men or animals. There was a solemnity about them which
enhanced the charm, and when, in my sixteenth year, I for the first
time read Ossian, and his gloomy world of spirits and misty forms
passed before me, then did I return in spirit to that window. Equally
so, when I read the poem, 'Jetzt zieh'n die Wolken, Lotte, Lotte!'

"Visitors also, as was formerly the case in almost every nursery,
related stories of spirits and ghosts, which we were never tired of
hearing. Yet, although many who related them believed in them, at no
time did my brother and I give a moment's credence to these tales.
Never did we believe in the supernatural; even as boys of fifteen, we
struggled against superstition. We have to thank our half-sister
Jettchen for this: a maiden of rare gifts of mind. She pointed out to
us in simple words the laughable side of these tales. But the awful had
not the less great power over us, and we were often in fear when we
were obliged to wander in the dark through the long passage to the
front drawing-room.

"At the age of three years and a half old, I received my first
instruction. My brother could already almost read, and I soon advanced
enough to keep pace with him.

"I cannot say that we were fond of M. Kretzschmar, our first teacher,
for he was in some degree bizarre, and punched our heads abundantly. It
is scarcely credible but I can affirm that at five years old I only
read mechanically, thinking all the time of something else; for
example, of the flowers in our garden, or our little dog, &c. My own
words sounded strange in my ears. Therefore I was often dreaming when I
was asked a question; then followed the usual thump; but then I thought
of that. Why was it so? It was indisputably for this reason, that our
teacher did not know how to attract young minds to the subject. My
brother was a very rare exception of quiet earnestness; and yet who
knows how often even he may have been equally distracted?

"At five years old we began to learn Latin. Jettchen translated glibly
Cornelius and Phædrus, and also the French New Testament. We boys
learnt assiduously from Langen's and Raussendorf's grammar, and I had
long written what we called 'small exercises,' before I clearly knew
what I was about. I remember distinctly that it was as if scales fell
from my eyes when, at six years old, I discovered that we were learning
the language of the ancient Romans." (Thus was instruction almost
universally carried on at that time!)

"Nevertheless, in many points of view, I have reason to thank this
teacher. He taught us to read well, and by the frequent recitation of
good verses--he did not write bad poetry himself--we imbibed early a
taste for melody and harmony. We learnt many, very many songs and
fables by heart. Learning by heart!--a now very antique expression; it
was then very frequent in the plan of lessons, and it was by this that
my memory became so strong. We were exercised in committing to memory
whole pages in a quarter of an hour, and later I often learnt off at
once eight, ten, or twelve strophes. In short, taken on the whole,
according to the standard of that time, the pedagogue, with all his
deficiencies, did not do ill by us. The soul, also, was not unattended
to. Feddersen's 'Life of Jesus' was our favourite reading. Feder's
'Compendium' was used for our religious instruction, a book which is
still highly estimated. Our feeling for the beautiful was also awakened
and trained in another way. Weiss's Operettes, set to Hiller's music,
then made a great sensation. Kretzschmar played the harpsichord well,
and the violin still better. My sister Jettchen played very tolerably
at sight. Thus by degrees all Weiss's operas were played and sung, and
we young ones joined in the lighter airs by ear. My father listened,
and sometimes joined, with pleasure.

"Thus did many autumn and winter evenings pass. Dear scenes of home,
what have become of you in most families? You are superseded by trashy
reading, casino, and play!

"The poetry we learnt we recited in the evening, before our father and
_Muhme_,--nay, in case of need before the maid. Passages which had been
explained to us, we then explained again. All this suggested to me the
first idea and wish to consecrate my studies to religion and become a
preacher.

"We had many playfellows. It was a common custom for children to visit
one another on Sundays. We were allowed to remain to dinner, and
accustomed to be well-behaved with grown-up persons. I, as being the
least, was usually placed by the side of the father and mother of
the family. Everywhere there was hearty friendliness. This custom,
also,--at least in this form,--has almost passed away. We might not
sometimes, perhaps, be quite agreeable to the elders, but this was
rare. My father was much pleased when children, even as many as six or
eight, came to us. The old people gladly gave a supper to the merry
little folk, and they also played with them. Then on Monday we looked
forward with pleasure to the following Sunday. Is it surprising that we
still look back with pleasure to those happy days, the remembrance of
which is wafted to me like the perfume of living flowers?

"With all my youthful gaiety I was still very earnest-minded. Our
mother, who had been dead only three years, was often spoken of; we had
learnt a quantity of funeral hymns, and at six years old I certainly
thought more frequently of death and immortality than many youths, or
even men. What was to become of animals after death, I had not thought
of till I was five years old. Then I happened to see a dead dog in the
city moat, and asked our teacher about it. 'There is no immortality for
dogs,' he answered, which made me indescribably sorrowful. It was a
Sunday evening. I told it to my nurse, and wept bitterly.

"At Easter, in 1780, our new teacher came. He had considerable
knowledge, and lived very quiet and retired, as he secretly reckoned
himself one of the Moravian brothers. We clung to him with deep love,
for he devoted himself entirely to us. With no other man did we prefer
walking; and all his conversation was instructive, for the most part
religious. His endeavours to conceal from us his inclination for that
sect which my father hated, gave an air of mystery to his words. We
gained much in serious feeling through him. He accustomed us not to
speak lightly of God or Jesus; and on his departure, at the end of two
years, we were so well grounded in this that months passed without our
once falling into this error, and when it did happen we sorrowed
secretly with deep repentance; we left our most amusing game and prayed
right heartily; we were, indeed, ourselves at last inclined to Pietism,
for all worldly pleasures were condemned, or looked upon as injurious
dissipations. So-called books of amusement, bordering upon novels, were
considered good for nothing; even Gellert's dramas were reckoned among
his youthful sins; places of amusement--balls, worldly concerts--were
workshops of the devil! Only oratorios were bearable. Comedies were
undoubted sins against the Holy Ghost. On my brother, who was naturally
inclined for melancholy, these opinions took far deeper hold; he wept
often in secret over his sins, as he called them. I envied him for
this, considering myself as a reprobate and him as a child of God; but
with all my endeavours I could not succeed in being so correct! I
continually rejoiced at the sorrowful emotions which often overcame my
soft heart.

"Still, still do I consecrate to thee my thanks, thou good and
righteous teacher! Thou wast the most faithful shepherd of thy little
flock! He lives still, near eighty years of age. For thirty years I
have only once seen him, but last year, when my brother died, he wrote
me a letter, full of faith and piety. In a dream--he attached much
importance to dreams--he had visited our house on the day of the death
of my brother, his Ernst. It is touching to read his assurances that
his convictions were the same as they had been forty years before.

"There is one blessed hour I bear in memory. He went with us to walk in
the city, and the evening star glanced kindly down upon us. 'What are
the people above there doing?' said the teacher. This was a new idea to
us! We were moved with joyful astonishment when he said to us: 'It is
possible, even probable, that God's goodness has assigned other planets
as a dwelling-place for living, thinking, and worshipping creatures.'
Delighted, elevated, and comforted, we turned back. It was the
counterpoise to that sorrow which fell upon me when I heard that there
was no future for animals!

"On Christmas Eve, 1780, our dear sister Jettchen died, in her
fourteenth year; nine days before we were playing merrily, when she was
suddenly seized with a pain in her stomach. The doctor thought lightly
of it, and probably mistook the real cause. After seven days she became
visibly worse, was weak and pale as death; she left her couch for the
last time in order to reach us our writing books. Yet no one seemed to
anticipate her death. Alas! it followed that Christmas Eve, early;
about four o'clock they awoke us to see her once more. Weeping loudly
we rushed up to her. She did not know us. 'Good night! Jettchen!' we
exclaimed, and my father prayed, tearfully. Our teacher stood by the
death-bed and prayed: 'Now take my heart, and take me as I am to thee,
thou dear Jesus!' (From the Kottbus hymn-book.)

"She departed amidst these prayers, and lay there in heavenly serenity.
My little sister Rieckchen, three years and a half old, came up and
said to the sick-nurse: 'When I die, lay me out in just such a white
cloth as my Jettel.' And seventeen years afterwards the same woman did
it!

"Before this, in the evening, we had to give our Christmas greetings.
My brother and Jettchen exchanged greetings--very beautiful--in
writing. 'She who was your chief is absent,' said my father, weeping.
On the third day of the feast she was buried. She lay in a white dress
with pale pink ribbons, a garland on her brown hair, and a small
crucifix in her hand. 'Sleep well!' exclaimed our old nurse, 'till thy
Saviour wakes thee!' We could not speak, we only sobbed. Often did my
dearly beloved Jettchen appear to me in dreams, always lovely, quiet,
and serious. Once she offered me a wreath; this was considered as a
sign that I was to die, as I was soon after seriously ill. But since my
childhood I have not been so fortunate as to dream once of her. She
loved me tenderly! I may say very particularly so!

"Our sorrow was a little alleviated by our thoughts being distracted by
a new building of my father's, a new garden-house; he had long wished
for an extension and entire transformation of the garden. In less than
two years all was finished, and now we passed most of our summer
evenings there. The garden had ever been our place for exercise, and
now it was enlarged. What pleasure it was to us, on the finishing of
the new building, for the first time to eat our supper in the open air!
And then we were allowed to remain out till ten o'clock, and go about
under the starry heaven; and my father discharged small fireworks for
us!

"In May, 1782, our good teacher left us, having received the rectorship
at Seidenberg. Our sorrow was great, very great! He blessed us: 'Keep
steadfastly to the instructions I have given you! Fear God, and all
will go well with you!' These were his parting words. I threw myself on
my bed and wept upon my pillow.

"My father was a strict, upright, honourable man. He had raised himself
from bitter poverty to wealth, by his own exertions. With unremitting
activity he only thought of maintaining and extending his business; of
giving employment to many hundred manufacturers, and to securing an
independence for us, his children. He worked daily ten and often eleven
hours, only his garden drew him sometimes away; otherwise nothing else
in the world. He was born to be a merchant, but in the highest sense;
small accidental gains he despised, and I believe it would have been
impossible for him to have been a retail dealer. He never made use of
the frequent opportunities of becoming rich by bankruptcies; he walked
steadily in the straight path, and was angry if his servants, in his
absence at the fair, overcharged the purchasers. His external life was
as simple as his inward principles. His furniture remained almost
unchanged: the inherited plate kept its form; he only attached value to
fine linen and good Rhine wine. His table was frugal; with the
exception of high festival days, he had usually only one dish; of an
evening frequently only potatoes or radishes. Wine only on Sundays,
except on a summer evening in the garden. About once a year he gave an
entertainment, then father Haupt would not do the thing shabbily.
Champagne he could not bear; this, therefore, came very seldom. But he
delighted in old Rhine and Hungarian wine, and bishop made of Burgundy.
On Sunday evenings he walked in the fields, and now and then his life
was diversified by a drive. He was, moreover, hospitable; very often
foreign commercial friends came, and he frequently took his favourite
clerks from the writing-room to dine with him. He was fond of talking
politics, and often took correct views of the future. Though he was
grave, he could be very cheerful, and often joked with us. He was
open-handed to the highest degree; gave much to the poor, and gladly
supported industrious people. Sometimes a great disinclination to the
literary class came over him; therefore he frequently declaimed against
the albums of the scholars; yet he never gave less than one thaler
eight n. gr., often double, nay, three and four fold. All boasting was
foreign to him, and he hated all ostentation of riches. If he heard
that any members of his guild showed such ostentation, he only laughed
most satirically; but when the boaster made himself too ridiculous he
would say, 'We have not seen the end of it;' or, 'What wonderful things
that man has;' or, at all events, at the utmost he said, 'I am not a
nobody, either.' He was strictly religious, yet without superstition,
against which, as well as against Popery, priestly pride, and
hypocrisy, he would loudly declaim. He thought clearly on the most
important subjects, as he himself knew, and was indeed almost alarmed,
if he took, as he thought, too free views. It was touching to me; when
once at Leipzig, during my studies there, he expressed himself freely
upon confession, and then, drawing back with great modesty, said, 'Yet
I am saying too much, Fritz, for I know that I am no deep thinking
man.' He had, as a youth, read part of Wolf's philosophical works; but
they were too dry for him. In his judgments of men he struck, as they
say, the right nail on the head; yet he was, like all upright minds,
often caustic, sharp, and bitter. If he had once said, 'The fellow is
good for nothing!' he adhered to it.

"From his over-extensive business, in which he had no intelligent men,
but only mere machines to assist him, we saw but little of him. He was
obliged to intrust us to the tutor and the woman-kind; the result was
that we felt more reverence than confidential tenderness for him. Yet
we loved him from the bottom of our hearts, and his principles, his
teaching, and his simple life worked upon us beneficially.

"Our aunt had, it is true, her good days, yet she never succeeded in
entirely gaining our love. Her quarrels with the maids were more
repugnant to us from the contrast of the familiarity with which it
alternated; she managed to make use of my father's moments of vexation
to gain her objects. But all this did not turn our hearts from her,
as she did us no injury, and often even took our part against the
ill-treatment of our new tutor. It was only that she was not fitted to
captivate childish hearts. From this she took a great aversion to our
nurse, to whom we clung with our whole souls, as she had brought up us
four motherless orphans without any assistance. Belonging to a better
class--her husband had rented a large property at Wernigerode--she had
become impoverished by war, plunder, and a succession of misfortunes,
her husband had died, and her children had partly gone out into the
world and partly been brought up by relations. She had an excellent
woman's head, a clear understanding, endless good-humour, cheerfulness,
and suitable wit. If it is true that I have sometimes humorous ideas, a
certain share in the development of this quality belongs to her. I well
remember that I have gone on for a whole half-hour with her making
bon-mots and allegories. 'With you I can joke.' With this good opinion
I was often rewarded. Besides this she was skilful in a thousand
things, and could always give advice. She was not disinclined to the
'_Stillen im Lande_,' which from her great sufferings the cup of which
she had drained to the dregs, could be easily understood. Her heart was
pure and pious, and she maintained in us the impression of our former
tutor's admonitions, when his successor would almost have exterminated
them by his teaching and course of life. Many of her relations, and
also her son-in-law had become surgeons, and she had, as a maiden,
given medical assistance. Therefore she possessed more than usual
knowledge, and astonished a surgeon when she skilfully set my brother's
foot, which he had dislocated. She understood osteology perfectly;
perhaps indeed she sometimes had too much confidence in herself, but
her remedies healed very quickly; and when the surgeon for four months
vainly endeavoured to cure my brother's foot, and spoke of the bone
being rotten, she shook her head; he was sent away, and in a month the
foot was healed.

"The public even believed that she dealt in the black art, but we knew
better. 'I have sworn to my lady,' (our mother), 'to give my life for
you, if it can be of use to you, and I will keep what I vowed on her
deathbed!' Peace be to her ashes! her wish to repose near 'her
lady' has been fulfilled. 'Children! when I die, I have only one
request,--lay me near your mother; ah! if I am only under the ledge of
her tomb, I shall be content.'

"Such was the state of things in our house when the new tutor came--he
was in every respect the contrary of his predecessor. The one simple,
straightforward, and just, avoiding even the appearance of evil; the
other a frivolous, flighty dandy, who--it was then a matter of
importance--played with a lorgnette, and wore stiff polished boots even
when he preached; in knowledge below his predecessor; in faith not
knowing himself what he wished. The former weighed his words, this one
often swore, and his pupils soon followed his example. He danced, rode,
played at cards, &c. In short, quite a common-place master. Passionate,
tyrannical, and severe upon our faults, or rather--for he did not
concern himself much with our morals--harsh upon slight mistakes in the
school-room. And yet we learned everything well, and knew more than all
our playfellows; of that I am very certain.

"He very nearly disgusted me with study, treating me with special
harshness, from not understanding my ardent mind; meanwhile from this
bitter my nature drew forth honey. I had often suffered injustice, from
hence arose the feeling of justice in my soul. 'It is better to suffer
wrong than to do it!' often said our nurse to me. And out of this
sprang forth my zeal against oppression, violence, and injustice of all
kinds. The very depths of my soul were stirred when, being innocent, I
was ill-treated; suffering seemed more deeply-wounding when inflicted
by unfeeling arrogance. My brother and I respected the guilty, if they
repented. Thus it was wholesome to bear undeserved severity! And
yet,--so forgiving is the pure soul of childhood--that we only hated
the man for the moment. A friendly word, or one of praise from him, and
all was forgotten.

"As the Pietism of the other had not quite suited my father, the new
tutor, in the beginning, was more thought of by him. But he soon learnt
to know his man; and God knows how my father himself could for five
long years have borne the misconduct of this man, for he wrote him
insolent letters if he ever ventured to blame anything. We never dared
complain, for our father did not stand in very confidential relations
with us. So we suffered in silence, and often not a little. Often have
I, in the truest sense of the words, eaten my bread with bitter tears.

"I must here mention, that my first resolution to become a preacher was
extinguished by this man. 'Law, law,' he often exclaimed to me. What
that meant was very mysterious to me. At last, however, when I heard
that there were law professors, I understood it. It was now settled;
but what attracted me in the Professorship was the opportunity of
speaking in public. If there was a vocation that suited me it was this.

"Thus passed the years from 1782 to 1786. In the beginning of 1787, my
brother, still not fourteen years old, was put into a counting-house at
Chemnitz. Inexpressibly sorrowful was our parting. We loved each other
as brothers, and if we had small quarrels, in which I was more to blame
than he, we never let the sun set without being reconciled. But now
follows an important chapter in my juvenile life.

"The picture of a perfect tutor is indeed charming. More than father
and mother can do, can be effected by a noble, pious teacher, of simple
life, full of judgment and moral power; only that scarcely one out of a
hundred can be found to realise this ideal.'

"A heavy load was lifted from my breast when I felt myself free from
this tutor's discipline! A feeling I had never experienced before
stirred in me! I was already half-grown up! Was it an impulse to
unrestrained roving? or a longing for dissipation? or youthful
presumption which fancied it needed no guide? In truth no thoughts of
this kind entered my mind! It was the pure consciousness of having
suffered injustice; it was the honest feeling that I was not so bad, as
he in his frantic humour had often said I was; it was the glad prospect
of being able to strive independently; it was the desire to show that I
no longer needed leading-strings. Still do I remember the evening of
the 5th of April, 1787,--Maunday Thursday,--how beautiful the sunset
was, and I spoke with open heart to my playfellows of the new life that
was opening to me.

"My father put me under the teaching of the Conrector Müller, and his
old friend the Subrector Jary, and in this he did well.

"To the Conrector Müller I owe most thanks. I passed from tyrannical
oppression to his liberal intellectual sway. His kindliness and his
noble open countenance, speaking of pure goodness of heart, attracted
me to him when first we spoke together. He understood how to elevate my
feeling for learning. He knew everything thoroughly. He was strong in
Latin, not unversed in Greek; the history of the German Empire, and
political history--but above all, literary history,--together with
geography, were his favourite studies. He had not one enemy.

"Jary was not born to be a teacher, but he was not without knowledge,
which he had acquired by industry. His method was defective, but he
meant to deal faithfully by his scholars, and looked after them. His
religious opinions were strictly orthodox; and I wept when he expressed
doubts as to the eternal happiness of Cicero! Yet I owe him also
thanks; he treated me with earnest kindness, and when he dismissed
me in 1791, the old man said weeping: 'Fare you well! I shall not
see you again; fare you well, you are almost the only one who has
not vexed me!'

"In August, 1788, I partook for the first time of the Lord's Supper. I
looked up fervently and repeated to myself Kretzschmar's ode: 'Let us
rejoicing fill the holy vaults of thy temple with hymns of praise.
Invisibly though perceptibly, does God's grace hover round us!'
Joyfully, with heaven in my heart, did I approach the altar!
Nevertheless, when in the afternoon I examined myself during a solitary
walk, I was dissatisfied with myself. What I had been taught concerning
the merits of Christ, appeared to me unintelligible; my groping in the
dark about this, weakened the impression of that day. I worried myself
with the idea of the atonement by death, and no ray of light entered my
soul. Besides I loved the old heathens, Cicero, Pliny, Socrates, &c.,
more than many Christians, together with the Apostles, more than all
the Jews of the Old Testament, as the people of God did not
particularly please me. And yet it was doubtful whether God would
receive Socrates as a child of light. How in the world, I thought,
could my poor Socrates help not having been born later, not having
lived in Judea?

"Thus I troubled myself, and was more sorrowful than cheerful.

"At Michaelmas, 1788, my father took me with him to Leipzig, where my
brother also was to come. Oh, the pleasure of meeting again! No
language can describe it! My brother's Principal allowed him leave
every afternoon and also many mornings; so we could have plenty of
talk. I soon became aware that my brother had read many freethinking
works upon religion, especially many of Bahrdt's. His own inquiries led
him still further. This occasioned me much sorrow, for Jary's strict
orthodoxy had laid hold of me. But I was the happiest. Soon after, I
attained to clear views in a scientific way, while my brother, left to
himself, wavered to and fro, which was still perceptible, even in his
old age. The insoluble question--why reason was reason?--gave
unspeakable suffering to my poor brother. Undoubtedly my lighter tone
of mind, my fancy, which gave me a poetic feeling, and especially my
disposition to give up groping over difficult passages, were a help to
me. With my brother reason prevailed too much.

"We passed three blessed weeks. To me the Academy was to some extent a
great pleasure; the Zittauer students took pains to make my residence
agreeable to me. The theatre we visited assiduously, we loved plays
passionately, and when the actors were at Zittau, we had learnt under
the guidance of the last tutor, to criticise with judgment Don Carlos
was given, Agnes Bernaner, and Kaspar der Thorringer; deep was the
impression left upon me, and I confessed secretly to myself, that I
should not find it disagreeable to be an actor. Even in this the idea
of public speaking exercised its charm upon me. A hundred times,
perhaps, did we act plays in that year, frequently extempore. It was
singular that the old _rôles_, as we called them, were particularly
suitable to me. But comic parts I could not manage, which, strange as
it may appear, my brother frequently chose, although he had
qualifications for the more serious ones, and, according to my
judgment, he often failed in the comic parts. A friend played the
military _rôles_, to which I had a great aversion.

"How great the advantage of public instruction! It may sometimes have
its defects, and unfortunately schools are often laboratories of
temptation. But how true are Quintilian's words, that children often
carry to school faults from home! Great is the advantage that public
institutions are open to inspection, and that freedom of mind prospers
there more than in private education, and emulation awakens and
nourishes the power of self-exertion.

"These hours of enjoyment with my brother came to an end. On the Monday
after _oculi_ I was introduced, after a successful examination, by
Director Sintenis. I became immediately 'sixth form boy' at the third
table. This excited great envy and caused me many bitter hours. I, who
without falsehood and malice, meant well by every one, did not
understand what many of the seniors meant. Finally, however, my good
behaviour got the better of them, I remained just the same, and bore
much with patience. It was long before I could conceive what envy was,
for I had no touch of it in my disposition. My more acute brother, to
whom I made my lamentations, wrote to me, 'Read Gustav Lindau, or, the
man who can bear no envy,' by Meissner. He was right, and yet it was
not till I was thirty-five, that I saw it in its true light.

"When this period of envy had passed away, and Müller said, 'You sit in
the place that is due to you, but mind you maintain your place,' a
succession of happier days opened to me.

"Easter drew near; I examined myself and found that I had been very
industrious. With Müller especially, I had in the last year done much.
I was behindhand only in Greek, as almost all were; yet I could get on.
In the Imperial and Saxon history I was well up, and in the knowledge
of literature very strong for one who was not seventeen. In the
geography of countries beyond Europe I was deficient. Latin I knew
best. The most ready amongst us could translate whole pages off hand,
without a fault, in two or three minutes; it was here and there
improved in elegance and then read aloud. I owe to these exercises my
facility in speaking Latin, which I was obliged to acquire at the
University.

"The time for my departure from the academy was come.

"With all my liveliness, I had also many serious, even melancholy
hours. The separation from my sisters, whom I dearly loved, disposed me
often to be sorrowful; I especially loved the youngest, Friederike, who
clung to me. Especially the last winter we were inseparable, it was as
if she anticipated that we should soon be parted for ever.

"My heart was pure, untouched by the allurements to which I well knew
my fellow scholars yielded. I had already determined to continue in the
same course; this I may affirm now at the end of thirty years. My chief
fault was hasty anger, which even led me to the verge of giving blows;
and violent passion is still the dark side of my character! Besides
this, I was bitter in my censure of the faults of others. Faithful
self-examination told me all this and more; but I was always forgiving,
and any feeling of revenge would have been impossible to me.

"My heart glowed with friendship; ingratitude appeared to me, as it
still does, a black vice. Finally, I must say one word of my feelings
as a youth; to maiden charms I was very sensitive, but never did a
faithless word pass my lips. The loves of the scholars were repugnant
to me, but I will not deny having entertained secretly a hope that some
female heart might be gracious to me; but pale and thin as I was, I
often seriously doubted the possibility of it.

"The expression of quiet melancholy in the eyes of L. v. D. attracted
me early; I had the greatest pleasure in talking to her, and she was
the only one of my sisters' playfellows with whom I walked, when we
rambled about the garden. But she left Zittau soon, and never did a
word escape my lips--and how could it? In 1788, I saw her again once;
after that time never again.

"My first school occupations drove away all such thoughts, although I
was teased as well as others, when I had danced more with one maiden
than another at the school balls. Sometimes undoubtedly there were
moments, when from braggadocio, I made it appear as if there was
something in question, where certainly there was nothing.

"But shortly before my departure--at a school ball--I met with Lorchen
L., who was destined by my stars, to be the companion of my life, and
entered into conversation with her. Even then I was much charmed with
her! and danced oftener and with greater pleasure, than with any other
maiden. It made me uneasy to feel that in some months I should be away.
The impression upon me was not concealed from my class, and they
bantered me; and I looked gloomy. Even during more than six years'
absence, her image ever rose before me. If there are inward voices,
this was one for me!

"The day dawned on which I was to take leave of Zittau, and my sister
was to accompany me to Leipzig. With tears I parted from Müller, and
with emotion from all the teachers. In the evening I took a lonely walk
in the open air, the evening sky shone bright, the reflection fell on
my mother's grave. Tears burst from me: 'Yes, mother! I vowed that I
would be good!' With hasty steps I went home. 'Now we shall never
more,' said my brother, 'never more,' wander together, he would have
said, but tears choked his voice.

"We slept little, talking almost the whole night, and early, about four
o'clock, our travelling carriage rolled out of Zittau."

Thus does a sensible man of the time of our fathers and grandfathers,
relate the boy-life in a citizen's family, honourable and serious, of
strict morality, and no common strength of intellect. Still, with depth
of feeling is united a sentimentality which will perhaps excite a
smile, perhaps touch the heart. It is the secluded life of a wealthy
family, but how earnest is the feeling of the child, how laboriously he
spends his days! The greatest enjoyment of the young boy is in
learning; he finds an inexhaustible source of elevation and enthusiasm
in the knowledge that he imbibes.

The narrator seeks his happiness in family life, in the duties of his
office, and in science and art. He forms an elevated and profound
conception of everything. Politics only disturb him. It was not till
the next generation that man's feelings were excited, their powers
awakened, and new qualities developed by the idea of a Fatherland.



                               CHAPTER X.

                          THE PERIOD OF RUIN.
                                (1800.)


Again did evil arise from France, and again did a new life spring from
the struggle against the enemy.

It was not the first time that that country had inflicted deep wounds
on German national strength, and had unintentionally awakened a new
power which victoriously arrested her progress. The policy of Richelieu
had been the most dangerous opponent of the German Empire, but at the
same time it had been obliged to support the Protestant party there, in
which lay the source of all later renovation. After him French
literature ruled the German mind for a century, and for a long time it
appeared as if the Academy of Paris and the classical drama were to
govern our taste, as did the tailors and peruke makers of the Seine.
But indignation and shame produced, in opposition to French art, a
poetry and science which, in spite of its cosmopolitan tendency, was
genuinely national. Now the heir of the French revolution brought
violent destruction on the declining empire, and gave his commands on
its ruins like a tyrannical ruler, till at last the Germans resolved to
drive him away, in order to take their affairs into their own hands.

Defenceless was the frontier against the invading stranger. Only on the
lower Rhine there was the Prussian realm, but along the other part of
the stream were the domains of ecclesiastical princes, and small
territories without any power of resistance. It was the four western
circles of the empire, the Upper Rhine, Suabia, Franconia, and Bavaria,
which the North Germans mockingly called the Empire.

Even in the Empire, the ecclesiastical territories and Bavaria were
very much behindhand, in comparison with Baden and Suabia. The example
of Frederic II. in Prussia, and the philosophic enlightenment of this
period, had reformed most of the Protestant courts, as also Electoral
Saxony, since the Seven Years' War. Greater economy, household order,
and earnest solicitude for the good of the subject became visible. Many
governments were models of good administration, like Weimar and Gotha,
and in the family of one of the great ladies of the eighteenth century,
the Duchess Caroline of Hesse, as well as in Darmstadt and Baden, there
was economical mild rule. Even indeed in the court of Duke Karl of
Wurtemburg there was improvement. He who had dug lakes on the hills,
and employed his serfs to fill them with water, who had lighted the
woods with Bengal lights, and caused half-naked Fauns and Satyrs to
dance there, had learnt a lesson since 1778, and on his fiftieth
birthday, had promised his people to become economical, and had since
that been transformed into a careful landlord, under whom the country
flourished. Even the ecclesiastical courts had experienced somewhat of
this philosophical tendency, though undoubtedly the activity of an
enlightened ruler of Würzburg or Munster was much limited by the
inevitable supremacy of an ecclesiastical aristocracy, and the
increasing priestly rule.

But the Imperial cities of the south were, with the exception of
Frankfort, in a state of decadence; they were deeply in debt, and a
rotten patrician rule prevented modern industry from flourishing. The
councils still continued to issue high-sounding decrees, but the
_Senatus populusque, Bopfingensis_, or _Nordlingensis_ as they called
themselves in heroic style, appeared only a caricature to their
neighbours. The renowned Ulm, the southern capital of Suabia, once the
mistress of Italian agency business, had sunk so low that it was
supposed that she must sell her domain to preserve herself from
bankruptcy; Augsburg also was only the shadow of its former greatness,
its princely merchants had become weak commission agents and small
money-changers: it was said that the city only contained six firms that
could raise more than 200,000 gulden. The Academy of Arts of the city
was nothing but a school for artisans. The famous engravers made bad
pictures of saints for the village trade; the old hatred of confessions
still raged among the inhabitants, for its famed Senate was divided
into two factions, and nowhere did the parties of Frederic and Maria
Theresa contend so bitterly. Even Nuremberg, once the flower and the
pride of Germany, had been severely injured in the old bad time; its
30,000 inhabitants were hardly the fifth of that community which, 300
years earlier, had mustered in fearful battle array; but the city was
still in the way to gain a modest position in the German markets, no
longer by the artistic articles of old Nuremberg, but by an extended
trade in small wares of wood and metal, in which some of the old
artistic feeling might still be perceived.

It was no better along the Rhine,--the great ecclesiastical street of
the Empire,--there lay, down the stream, the residences of three
ecclesiastical Electors in succession. In the Electorate of Mainz,
which, from olden times, had frequently maintained a great independence
within the church, two intellectual rulers had undoubtedly given an
enlightened aspect to a part of their clergy, and to the new portions
of their city; but in the old city and trades, little of the new time
was to be perceived, and the prebendaries who read Voltaire and
Rousseau were by no means an unqualified gain, at least for the
morality of the citizen. But the great Cologne was in the worst repute;
the dung-heaps lay all day in the streets, which were not lighted, the
pavement was miserable, and on dark evenings the necks and limbs of
passengers were in great danger, the roads also were insecure, filled
with idling ragamuffins. The beggars formed a great guild, counting
5000 heads; till noon they sat and lay at the church doors in rows,
many on chairs, the possession of one of which was considered as a
secure rent, and assigned as dowry to the beggar's children; when they
left their places, they went to the houses to demand food for dinner;
they were a coarse, wicked set.[32] On the whole, it is known that the
ecclesiastical rulers treated the citizens and peasants with
comparative mildness, and the military compulsion was less burdensome,
but they did little for the industry or cultivation of the people.

After them, in this respect, Bavaria was in worst repute, and no other
people since that has made such great progress; but about 1790 it was
said to be most behindhand in wealth and morals; the cities, with the
exception of Munich, looked decayed, and were poorly populated:
idleness and beggary spread everywhere; except brewers, bakers, and
innkeepers, there were no wealthy people. Even in Munich, countless
beggars loitered about, mixed with numbers of modish, dandified
officials; there was no national industry, only some manufactures of
articles of luxury favoured by the government. Not long ago it was
maintained by a Bavarian monthly journal, that manufacturing activity
and the like were not very practicable for Bavarians, because the great
river of the country flowed to Austria, and a competition with the
Imperial hereditary States was not possible. The most flourishing
countries in Germany, next to the small territories on the North Sea,
were then Electoral Saxony and the country of the Lower Rhine, up to
the Westphalian county of Mark; and this is little altered.

To those who dwelt in the Empire the inhabitants of the North were a
remote people, but they were in the habit of considering Prussia and
Austria also as foreign powers.

Of the people in Austria the citizens of the Empire knew little. Even
the Bavarian, before whose eyes his Danube flowed to Vienna, desired no
intercourse with these neighbours; he preferred looking over the
mountains to the Tyrol, for the hatred which so readily divides
frontier people was there in full force. The Saxon had important trade
with the Germans in Northern Bohemia; it mattered little to him what
lay beyond; it was a foreign race, in evil repute, from the old war. To
other Germans the "Bohemian Mountains" and an unknown land signified
the same thing. The nations which dwelt along the Danube, amongst them
Czechs, Moravians, Italians, Slovenes, Magyars, and Slovaks, were a
vigorous, powerful race, of ancient German blood; the Thirty Years' War
had little injured their stately carriage and personal beauty, but
their own rulers had estranged them from Germany. By persecution, not
only the heretics, but also the activity and culture of those who
remained, had been frightened away; but a life of enjoyment and
pleasure still pulsated in the great capital. Any one who wished to
enjoy himself went there--Hungarians, Bohemians, and nobles from the
Empire. Germany lay outside the Vienna world, and they thought little
of it.

Undoubtedly the ruler of Austria was also the Emperor of Germany. The
double eagle hung against all the post-houses in the Empire, and when
the Emperor died, according to old custom, the church bells tolled. Any
one who sought for armorial bearings, or quarrelled about privileges,
went to the Imperial court; otherwise the Empire knew nothing of the
Emperor or his supremacy. When the soldiers of the Princes of the
Empire came together with the Austrians and Prussians, they were
derided as good-for-nothing people; the "_Kostbeutel_"[33] and the
"Schwabische Kragen" hated each other intensely; when the Austrian
received a blow, no one was better pleased than the contingent from the
Empire.

Even among themselves the subjects of the small rulers did not live in
peace; insulting language and blows were common; the Mainzers attacked
the inhabitants of the Palatinate, and when the French occupied
Electoral Mainz, the inhabitants of the Palatinate and Darmstadt
rejoiced in the sufferings of their neighbours.[34]

The mass of the people in the Empire lived quietly to themselves. The
peasant performed his service, and the citizen worked; both had been
worse off than now, but there was no difficulty in earning a
livelihood. If they had a mild ruler, they served him willingly; the
citizens clung to the city and province whose dialect they spoke; they
frequently bore great attachment to their little State, which enclosed
almost all that they knew, and whose helplessness they only imperfectly
understood. When it became a cipher, they did not the more know what
they were, and asked one another with anxious curiosity what they
should now become. It was an old, quiet misery!

The new ideas that came from France undoubtedly somewhat disquieted
them; things were better there than with them; they listened
complacently to foreign emissaries; they put their heads together, and
determined, sometimes in the evening perhaps, to abolish what annoyed
them; they also sent petitions to their worthy rulers. The peasants
here and there became more difficult to manage; but as long as the
French did not come, the movement was a mere curl of the waves; and
when the French Custine gained Mainz, he called the Guild together,
and each one was to give in a project of a constitution. This took
place. The peruke-makers produced one: "We wish to be diminished to
five-and-thirty, and the Crab (thus a master was called) shall be our
president of the council." The hackney-coachmen declared, "We will pay
no more bridge tolls; then, as far as we are concerned, any one may be
our Elector who wishes!" No Guild thought of a republic and
constitution. This was the condition of the small States of the Empire
in the century of enlightenment.

The people of the Imperial States knew well that the larger ones held
them in contempt for their want of military capacity; and it was
natural that in these small States no martial spirit should exist.
Unwillingly did they form regiments from five, ten, or more
contemptible contingents; soldiers and officers in the same regiment
often quarrelled; the uniforms were scarcely the same colour, nor
the word of command. The citizens despised their soldiers; it was
told jeeringly that the Mainz soldiers at their post cut pegs for
the shoemakers; that the guard at Gmünd presented arms to every
well-dressed foot-passenger, and then stretched out their hats and
begged for a donation; that a man in uniform was despised and excluded
from every society; that the wives and mistresses of the officers took
the field with children and ninepins; that the weapons and discipline
were miserable, and all the material of war imperfect. This was
undoubtedly a great misfortune, and apparent to everybody. The worst
troops in the world were to be found in the Imperial regiments, but
there were some better companies among them, and some officers of
capacity. Even out of this bad material a foreign conqueror was able
afterwards to make good soldiers; for the Germans have always fought
bravely when they have been well led. Besides the Prussians, there were
some other small _corps d'armée_, in well-deserved estimation--the
Saxon, Brunswick, Hanoverian, and Hessian.

On the whole, then, the military power of Germany was not altogether
unsatisfactory; it could well bear some occasional bad elements, and
still, in point of number and valour, cope with any army in the world.
The cause of decay in the army was not the composition of the army
itself, but discord and bad leading.

After 1790, destruction burst upon the Empire--wave upon wave broke
over it from west to east.

First came into the country the white Petrels of the Bourbons,
precursors of the storm--the emigrants. There were many valiant men
among them, but the larger number, who gave character and repute to the
whole, were worthless, reckless rabble. Like a pestilence, they
corrupted the morals of the cities in which they located themselves,
and the courts of small, simple Sovereigns, who felt themselves
honoured by receiving these distinguished adventurers. Coblentz, the
seat of government of Electoral Treves, was their head-quarters, and
that city was the first where their immorality brought ruin into
families, and disunion into the State, They were fugitives enjoying the
hospitality of a foreign country, but with knavish impudence, wherever
they were the strongest, they ill-treated the German citizens and
peasants, as well as the foolish nobleman who honoured in them polite
Paris. When Veit Weber, the valiant author of "Sagen der Vorzeit,"
whilst travelling in a Rhine boat, was humming a French song upon
contentment, of which the refrain was, "_Vive la Liberté_," some
emigrants, who were travelling with him, drew their swords upon him and
his unarmed companion, misused them with the flat blade, bound them
with cords round their necks, and so dragged them to Coblentz, where
they robbed them of their money and passports, and, thus wounded, they
were imprisoned without examination till the Prussians arrived and
freed them.[35] Besides brutal violence, the emigrants also introduced
into the circles which admitted them vices hitherto unknown to the
people, loathsome diseases, and meannesses of every kind. In the whole
of the Rhine valley a feeling of hatred and disgust was excited by
their presence; nothing worked so favourably for the French republican
party; the feeling became general among the people, that a struggle
which was to rid France of such evil deeds and abominations must be
just. They were equally despised by the more powerful States--Prussia
and Austria. The troops that they hired were composed of the worst
rabble; even the poor people of the Imperial States looked with
repugnance on the bands of emigrants.

After the corrupt nobles came the speeches of the National Assembly,
and the decrees of the Convention; but few of the educated men were
entirely uninfluenced by them. They were the same ideas and wishes that
the Germans had. More than one enthusiastic spirit was so attracted by
them as to give up their Fatherland and go to the west, to their own
destruction. Not the last of such men was George Foster, whom Germans
should pity, and not extol. And yet these monstrous events, and
excitable minds, produced only a slight intoxication. There was great
sympathy, but it was only a kindly participation in a foreign concern;
for, hopeless as was the political condition of Germany--imperfect and
oppressive as was the administration of the greater States--yet there
was a widespread feeling that social reforms were progressing, which,
in contrast to the French, would spread peaceably by teaching and good
example. There were bitter complaints of the perverseness and
incapacity of many of the princes, but, on the whole, it could not be
doubted that there was much good-will in the governments. Germany,
also, had no such aristocracy as France. The lesser nobles, in spite of
their prejudices and errors, lived, on the whole, in a homely way in
the midst of the people; and just at this time they counted in their
ranks many leaders of the enlightenment. What most oppressed the
cultivated minds of Germany was not so much the vices of the old feudal
state as their own political insignificance, the clumsiness of the
constitution of the Empire, the feeling that the Germans, by this
much-divided rule, had become _Philisters_.

It was then, also, far from Paris to Germany; the characters which
there contended against each other, the ultimate aim of parties, the
evil and the good, were much less known than would be the case in our
time. The larger newspapers only appeared three times a week; they gave
dry notices, seldom a long correspondence, still less often an
independent judgment. The flying sheets alone were active; even their
judgment was moderate; they wished well to the movement, but were
bolder in the discussion of home matters.

Therefore, though in Paris there were massacres in the streets, and the
guillotine was incessantly at work, in Germany the French revolution
had no effect in banding political parties against one another. And
when the account came that the King had been imprisoned, ill-treated,
and executed, forebodings, even among the least timid, became general.

Thus it was possible that German officers, even the _gardes du corps_
at Potsdam, good-humouredly allowed the _ça ira_ to be played, whilst
the street boys sang to it a rude translation of the text. The ladies
of the German aristocracy wore tricolour ribbons, and head dresses _à
la carmagnole_. Curiosity collected the people in a circle round some
patriot prisoners of war--dismal tattered figures--whilst they danced
their wild dances, and accompanied them by pantomime, which expressed
washing their hands in the blood of the aristocrats; and some
innocently bought from them the playthings which they had made on the
march, little wooden guillotines. But it was a morbid simplicity in the
educated.

There is another thing which appears still stranger to us. Whilst the
storm raged convulsively in France, and the flood rolled its waves more
wildly every year over Germany; the eyes and hearts of all men of
intellect were fixed on a little Principality in the middle of Germany,
where, amid the deepest tranquillity, the great poet of the nation, by
the wonderful creations of his mind in prose and verse, dispelled all
dark forebodings. King and Queen were guillotined, and "Reineke Fuchs"
made into a poem; there came, together with Robespierre and the reign
of terror, letters on the æsthetic training of men; with the battles of
Lodi and Arcole, "Wilhelm Meister," "Horen," and "Xenien"; with the
French acquisition of Belgium, "Hermann and Dorothea"; with the French
conquest of Switzerland and the States of the Pope, "Wallenstein"; with
the French seizure of the left bank of the Rhine, the "Bastard of
Orleans"; with the occupation of Hanover by Napoleon, the "Bride of
Messina"; with Napoleon Emperor, "Wilhelm Tell." The ten years in which
Schiller and Goethe lived in close friendship--the ten great years of
German poetry, on which the German will look back in distant centuries
with emotion and sentimental tenderness--are the same years in which a
loud cry of woe was heard through the air; in which the demons of
destruction drew together from all sides, with clothes dipped in blood,
and scorpion scourges in their hands, in order to make an end of the
unnatural life of a nation without a State. Only sixty years have since
passed, yet the period in which our fathers grew up is as strange to us
in many respects as the period in which, according to tradition,
Archimedes calculated geometrical problems, whilst the Romans were
storming his city. The movement of this time worked differently on the
Prussian State. It was no longer the Prussia of Frederic II. In the
interior, indeed, his regulations had been faithfully preserved; his
followers mitigated everywhere some severities of the old system, but
the great reforms which the time urgently required were scarcely begun.

But in the eighteenth century, up to the war of 1806, the external
boundary of the State increased on a gigantic scale. Frederic had still
left behind him a little kingdom; a few years after, Prussia might be
reckoned as one of the great realms of Europe. In the rapidity of this
growth, there was something unnatural. By the two last divisions of
Poland, about 1772 square miles of Sclavonic country were added.
Shortly before, the Principalities of the Franconian Hohenzollerns,
Anspach and Baireuth, were gained, another 115 square miles. Besides
this, after the peace of Luneville, forty-seven square miles of the
Upper Rhine district of Cleves were exchanged for 222 square miles of
German territory; parts of Thuringia, including Erfurt, half Munster,
also Hildesheim and Paderborn; finally, Anspach was again exchanged for
Hanover. After that, Prussia for some months comprised a territory of
6047 square miles, almost double its extent in 1786, and about a sixth
more than it at present contains. In this year, Prussia might almost
have been called Germany; its eagles hovered over the countries from
Old Saxony up to the North Sea; also over the main territory of Old
Franconia and in the heart of Thuringia; it ruled the mouths of the
Elbe; it surrounded Bohemia on two sides, and could, after a short
day's march, make its war horses drink in the Danube. In the east it
extended itself far into the valley of the Vistula and to the Bug; and
its officials governed in the capital of departed Poland. This rapid
increase, even in peaceful times, might not have been without
disadvantage, for the amount of constructive power which Prussia could
employ for the assimilation to itself of such various acquisitions was
perhaps not great enough.

And yet the excellent Prussian officials, of the old school just then
greatly distinguished themselves. Organisation was carried on
everywhere with great zeal and success; brilliant talents, and great
powers were developed in this work. There were certainly many half
measures and false steps, but on the whole, when we consider the work,
the integrity, the intelligence, and the vigorous will which the
Prussians then showed in Germany, it fills us with respect, especially
when we compare it with the later French rule, which indeed carried on
reforms thoroughly and dexterously, but at the same time brought a
chaos of coarseness and rough tyranny into the country.

The acquisition of Poland was in itself a great gain for Germany, for
it afforded it a protection against the enormous increase of Russia;
the east frontier of Prussia gained military security. If it was hard
for the Poles, it was necessary for the Germans. The desolate condition
of the half-wild provinces required a proportionate exertion, if they
were to be made useful, that is to say, if they were to be transformed
into a German Empire. It was not a time for quiet colonisation; but
even of this there was not a little.

But another circumstance was ominous. All these extensions were not the
result of the impulses of a strong national power: they were partly
forced on Prussia after inglorious campaigns by a too powerful enemy.
And Germany showed the remarkable phenomena of Prussia being enlarged
under continued humiliations and diplomatic defeats; and that its
increase of territory went hand-in-hand with the decrease of its
consideration in Europe. Thus this diffuse State had at last too much
the appearance of a group of islands congregated together, which the
next hurricane would bury under the waves.

The surface of ground was so great, and the life and interests of its
citizens had become so various, that the power of one individual could
no longer arbitrarily guide the enormous machine in the old way. And
yet there was no lack of the great aid--the ultimate regulator both of
princes and officials--public opinion, which incessantly, honestly, and
bravely accompanied the doings of rulers, examined their public acts,
gave expression to the wishes of the people, and felt their needs. The
daily press was anxiously controlled, accidental flying sheets wounded
deeply, and were violently suppressed.

The King was a man of strict uprightness and moderation, but he was no
General, nor a great politician; so he remained all his life too much
averse to decided and energetic resolves. He was then young and
diffident of his own powers, and he felt vividly that he superintended
too little the details of business; the intrigues of greedy courtiers
put him out of humour, without his knowing how to stop them; his
endeavours to preserve his own independence, and guard himself from
preponderating influence, put him in danger of preferring insignificant
and pliant characters to firm ones. The State had clearly then come
into a position when the spontaneous action of the people and the
beginning of constitutional life could no longer be dispensed with. But
again it seemed so little possible, that the most discontented scarcely
ventured to whisper it. All the material for it was wanting; the old
States of Prussia had been thoroughly set aside; the communities were
governed by officials; even an interest in politics and the life of the
State was almost confined to them. What the King had seen arise under
the co-operation of the people in a foreign country, national
assemblies and conventions, had given him so deep a repugnance to every
such participation of his Prussians in the work of the State, that, to
the misfortune of his people and successors, he never, as long as he
lived, could overcome this feeling. Before 1806, he thought of nothing
of the kind.

Very strongly did he feel that it was impossible for him to continue to
govern in the old method of Frederic II. This great King, in spite of
all his immense power of work and knowledge of minute particulars, had
only been able to keep the whole in vigorous movement by sacrificing to
his arbitrary power, even the innocent, in case of need. As he was in
the position to decide everything himself, and quickly, it frequently
happened that his decision depended on his humour and accidental
subordinate considerations. He did not, therefore, hesitate to break an
officer for a mere oversight, or discharge councillors of the supreme
court who had only done their duty. And if he discovered that he had
done an injustice, though he was passionately desirous of doing
justice, he never once acknowledged the fact; for it was necessary to
preserve his faith in himself, as well as the obedience and pliancy of
his officials, and the implicit trust of his people in his final
decisions. It was not only one of his peculiar characteristics, but
also his policy, to retract nothing, neither overhaste nor mistake; and
not to make amends even for obvious injustice, except occasionally and
secretly. That powerful and wise Prince could venture upon this; his
successor justly feared to rule in such a way. The grandson of that
Prince of Prussia, whom Frederic II. angrily removed from the command
in the middle of the war, felt deeply the severity of this hasty
decision.

He was therefore obliged to do like his predecessors, to seek to
control his officials by themselves. Thus began in Prussia the reign of
the bureaucracy. The number of offices became greater, useless
intermediate authorities were introduced, and the transaction of all
business became circuitous. It was the first consequence of the
endeavour to proceed justly, thoroughly, and securely, and to remodel
the strict despotism of the olden time. But to the people this appeared
a loss. As long as there was no press, and no tribunal to help the
oppressed to their rights, petitions had quite a different
signification to what they have now; for now the most insignificant can
gain the sympathy of a whole country by inserting a few lines in a
newspaper, and set ministers and representatives of the people in
commotion for days. Frederic II. had received every petition, and
generally disposed of them himself, and thus, undoubtedly, his kingly
despotism came to light Frederic William could not bear to have
petitions presented to himself; he sent them immediately to the courts.
This was according to rule. But, as the magistrates were not yet
obliged to take care that these complaints of individuals should be
made public, they were only too frequently thrown on one side, and the
poor people exclaimed that there was no longer any help against the
encroachments of the Landräthe,[36] or against the corruption of
excisemen. Even the King suffered from it; not his good will, but his
power was doubted to give help against the officials.

To this evil was added another. The officials of the administration had
become more numerous, but not more powerful. Life was more luxurious,
prices had increased enormously, and their salaries, always scanty even
in the olden time, had not risen in proportion. In the cities, justice
and administration were not yet separated; a kind of tutelage was
exercised even in the merest trifles; the spontaneous activity of the
citizen was failing; the "Directors" of the city were royal officials,
frequently discharged auditors and quartermasters of regiments. In 1740
this had been a great advance; in 1806 the education and professional
knowledge of such men was insufficient. Into the war and territorial
departments, however, which are now called government departments, the
young nobility already sought for admittance; among them not a few were
men of note, who later were reckoned the greatest names in Prussia; and
most of them, without much exertion, quickly made their fortunes. It
was complained that in some of the offices almost all the work was done
by the secretaries. But that, in truth, was only the case in Silesia,
which had its own minister. After the great Polish acquisition, Count
Hoym, in Silesia, had for some years the chief administration of the
Polish province. It was a bad measure to give a subject unlimited power
over that vast territory; it was a misfortune for him and the State. He
lived at Breslau as king, and he kept spies at the court of his
Sovereign, who were to keep him _au fait_ of the state of things. The
poor nobles of Silesia thronged around him, and he gave his favourites
office, landed properties, and wealth. The uprightness of the officials
in the new province was injured by this unfit condition of things.
Government domains were sold at low prices, and Generals and privy
councillors were thus enabled to acquire large landed properties for
little money.

It is curious that the first open resistance to this arose among the
officials themselves, and that the opposition was carried on, for the
first time, in Prussia, through the modern weapon of the press. The
most violent complainant was the chief custom-house officer, Von Held;
he accused Count Hoym, Chancellor Goldbeck, General Rüchel, and many
others, of fraud, and compared the present state of Prussia with the
just time of Frederic II. The case made an immense sensation.
Investigations were commenced against him and his friends; they were
prosecuted as members of a secret society, and as demagogues. Held's
writings were confiscated; and he himself imprisoned and condemned, but
at last set at liberty. In his imprisonment the irritated and
embittered man attacked the King himself:[37] he accused him of too
great economy--which we consider the first virtue of a King of Prussia;
of hardness--which was unfounded; and of playing at soldiering--this,
unfortunately, with good grounds. He complained: "When the Prince will
no longer hear truth, when he throws upright men and true patriots into
prison, and appoints those who have been accused of fraud to be
directors of the commission appointed to try them, then must the
honest, calm, but not the less warm, friends of their Fatherland sigh."
Meanwhile he did not satisfy himself with sighing, but became
satirical.

From this dispute, which only turns on an individuals circumstances, we
learn how bold and reckless was the language of political critics in
old Prussia; and how low and helpless the position of its princes
against such attacks. As the King took the whole government upon his
own shoulders, he bore also the whole responsibility, as he alone
guided the machine of the State; so every attack on the particular acts
of the administration, and upon the officials of the State, was a
personal attack upon him. Wherever there was an error the King bore the
blame, either because he had neglected something or because he had not
punished the guilty. Every peasant woman who had her eggs crushed by
the excise officers at the city gates felt the harshness of the King;
and if a new tax irritated the city people, the boys in the streets
cried out and jeered behind the King's horse, and it was even possible
that a handful of mud might be thrown at his noble head. Again broke
forth a quiet war betwixt the King of Prussia and the foreign press.
Even Frederic William I. had, in his "_Tabakacollegium_," exercised his
powers of imagination in composing a short article against the Dutch
newspaper writers who had annoyed him; his great son, also, was
irritated by their pens, but he knew how to pay them in like coin.
Quite a volley of scorn and spite was fired in innumerable novels,
satires, and pasquinades against his successor. Of what avail against
this was violence, the opening of letters and secret investigations?
What use was confiscation? The forbidden writings were still read, and
the coarse lies were believed. Of what use was it if the King caused
himself to be defended by loyal pens, if in a well considered reply the
public were informed that Frederic William III. had shown no harshness
to the Countess of Lichtenau; that he was a very good husband[38] and
father, an upright man who had the best intentions? The people might,
or might not, believe it; at all events they had made themselves judges
of the life of their Prince in a manner which, as we view it, was
highly derogatory to the majesty of the Crown.

Yet the times were quiet, and the culture and mind of the nation was
not occupied by politics. What would happen if the people were roused
to political excitement? The monarchy, in this inferior position, would
be entirely ruined, however good might be the intentions of the
Hohenzollerns. For they were no longer, as they had been in the
eighteenth century, and were still in the time of Frederic II., great
landed proprietors on unpopulated territory; they were, in fact, kings
of an important nation; they were no longer in the position of
obtaining the knowledge of every perversity of the great host of
officials and of ruling over the great administration personally. Now,
the administration was carried on by officials; if it went right it was
a matter of course, but every mistake fell upon the King's head. How
this was to be remedied before 1806 no one, not even the best, knew.
But discontent and a feeling of insecurity increased among the people.

Such a condition of things, in a transition time, from the old despotic
state to a new one, gave a helpless aspect to the Prussian
commonwealth. It was however, in truth, no symptom of fatal weakness,
as was shortly after shown by zealous Prussians.

For, besides the strength and capacity of self-sacrifice, which was
still slumbering in the people, a fresh hopeful vigour was already
visible in a distinguished circle. Again it was to be found among the
Prussian officials. The supreme court of judicature had maintained
itself in the high consideration it had gained since the organisation
of the last King. It was a numerous body; it included the flower of
Prussian intelligence, the greatest strength of the citizens, and the
highest culture of the nobles. The elder were trained under Cocceji,
and the younger under Carmer--judicious, upright, firm men, of great
capacity for work, of proud patriotism and independence of character,
who were not led astray by any ministerial rescript. The court
_coteries_ did not yet venture to assail these unpliable men; and it is
a merit in the King that he held a protecting hand over their
integrity. They belonged partly to citizens' families, which for many
generations had sent their sons to the lecture-rooms of the professors
of law; in the East to Frankfort and Königsberg, in the West to Halle
and Göttingen. Their families formed an almost hereditary aristocracy
of officials. United with them as fellow-students and friends, and
like-minded, were the best talents of the administration; also
foreigners who had entered the Prussian civil service. From this circle
had been produced all the officials, who, after the prostration of
Prussia, were active in the renovation of the State, Stein, Schön,
Vinke, Grolmann, Sack, Merkel, and many others, presidents of the
administration, and heads of the courts of justice after 1815.

It is a pleasure in this time of insecurity to direct our attention to
the quiet labours of these trustworthy men. Many of them were strictly
trained bureaucrats, with limited ideas and feelings; on the green
table of the Board lay the ambition and labour of their whole lives.
But they, the chief judges, the administrators of the Province,
maintained faithfully and lastingly through difficult times their
consciousness of being Prussians; each of them imparted to those about
him something of the tenacious perseverance and the confident judgment
which distinguished them. Even when they were severed from the body of
their State, and were obliged to declare the law under foreign rule,
they worked on in their sphere unchanged, in the old way; accustomed to
calm self-control, they concealed in the depths of their souls the
fiery longing after their hereditary ruler, and perhaps quiet plans for
a better time.

Whoever will compare these men with some of the powerful talents of the
official class which were developed at this time in the territories of
South Germany, will perceive an essential difference. There, even in
the best, there are frequently traits that are displeasing to us;
arbitrariness in their political points of view; indifference as to
whom or for what they served; a secret irony with which they consider
the petty relations of their country. They all suffer from the want of
a State which merits the love of a man. This want gives their judgment,
acute as it may be, something uncertain, unfinished, and peevish; one
does not doubt their integrity, but one feels strongly that there is a
moral instability in them which makes them like adventurers, though
learned and highly cultivated men. Undoubtedly, however, if a Prussian
once lost his love of Fatherland, he became weaker than them. Karl
Heinrich Lang is deficient in what Freidrich Gentz once had, and lost
by moral weakness.

Conscientious officials have admitted at this time the confusion of
every country, especially the North; but the Prussians may justly claim
this pre-eminence, that in the circle of their middle order, not the
most refined, but the soundest culture of that time was to be found,
not occasionally, but as a rule.

The Prussian army suffered from the same deficiencies as the politics
and administration of the state. Here also there was improvement in
many particulars, but much that was old was carefully preserved; what
once had been progress was now mischievous. This bad condition is
acknowledged; none have condemned it more strongly than the Prussian
military writers since the year 1815.

The treatment of the soldiers was still too severe; there was unworthy
parsimony in their scanty uniforms and small rations, endless was the
drilling, endless the parades, the ineradicable suffering of the
Prussian army; the man[oe]uvres had become useless "spectacle," in
which every movement was arranged and studied beforehand; incapable
officers were retained to the extreme of old age. Hardly anything had
been done to adapt the old Prussian system to the changed method of
carrying on war which had arisen in the Revolution.

The officers were still an exclusive caste, which was almost entirely
filled by the nobility; only a few not noble were in the Fusilier
Battalions of Infantry and some among the Hussars. Under Frederic II.,
during the deficiency of men in the Seven Years' War, young volunteers
of citizen origin were made officers. Then they were, at least in their
pay, and frequently in the regimental lists, represented as noble; but
after the peace, however great their capacity, they were almost always
kept out of the privileged battalions. This did not improve under the
later Kings. Only in the Artillery, in 1806, were the greater number of
officers commoners, but on that account they were not considered as
equals. It was a bitter irony that a French artillery officer should be
the person, as Emperor of the French, to think of shattering the
Prussian army and its State into pieces, at the same time in which they
were contending in Prussia as to whether an officer of artillery
should be received upon the general staff, and that the citizen
Lieutenant-Colonel Schamhorst should be envied this privilege.[39] It
was natural that all the failings of a privileged order should appear
in full measure in the Prussian corps of officers. Pride towards the
citizens, roughness to those under them, a deficiency in cultivation
and good morals, and in the privileged regiments an unbridled
insolence. It is a common complaint of contemporaries, that in the
streets and societies of Berlin people were not secure from the
insults of the _gens d'armes_, who were the _élite_ of the young
nobility. Already did these arrogant men, at the beginning of the
reign of Frederic William III., begin to be ashamed of wearing their
old-fashioned uniform in society, and where they dared, lounged in with
protruding white neck-ties, top-boots, and sword-sick.

In spite of these deficiencies, there was still in the Prussian army
much of the capacity and strength of the olden time. The stout race of
old subaltern officers had not died out, men who had shed bitter tears
over the death of their great General in 1786; and still did the common
soldiers, in spite of the diminished confidence in their leaders, feel
pride in their well-tried war-like capacity. Many characteristic traits
have been preserved to us, which give us a pleasing picture of the
disposition of the army. When, in the campaign of 1792, a Prussian and
Austrian, as good comrades and malcontents, were complaining to one
another, and the Prussian did not speak in praise of his King, he yet
stopped the other, who was repeating his words, with a box on the ear,
saying: "You shall not speak so of my King;" and on the angry Austrian
reproaching him with having said the same, the aggressor replied: "I
may say that, but not you, for I am a Prussian." Such was the feeling
in most of the regiments. The disgraceful prostration of Prussia was
not owing to the bad material of the army, nor especially to the
obsolete tactics. Nay, in the struggle it was shown how great was the
capacity of both the men and officers who were so shamefully
sacrificed. Amidst the lawlessness, coarseness, and rapacity which
inevitably come to light among a demoralised soldiery, we rejoice in
finding the most worthy soldier-like feeling often amongst the meanest
of them. One of the many unworthy proceedings of the stupid campaign of
1806, was the surrender of Hameln. How the betrayed garrison behaved
has been related in the letter of an officer. The narrator was the son
of an emigrant, a Frenchman by birth, but he had become an inestimable
German, of whom our people are proud; he had done his duty as a
Prussian officer, but at every free moment he devoted himself to German
literature and science; he had no satisfaction in carrying on war
against the land of his birth, and had sometimes wished himself away
from the ill-conducted campaign; but when a bad commander betrayed his
brave troops, the full anger of an old Prussian was kindled in the
breast of the adopted child of the German people, he assembled his
comrades, and urged them to a general rising against their incapable
commander; all the juniors were as indignant as himself; but in vain.
They were deceived, and the fortress, in spite of their resistance,
delivered over to the French. Fearful was the despair of the soldiers;
they fired their cartridges into the windows of the cowardly commander;
they shot one another in rage and drunkenness; they dashed their
weapons on the stones, that they might not be carried with more renown
by strangers, and the old Brandenburgers wept when they took leave of
their officers. In the company of Captain von Britzke, regiment von
Haack, were two brothers, Warnawa, sons of soldiers; they mutually
placed their muskets to each other's breast, drew the triggers at the
same time, and fell into each other's arms, that they might not survive
the disgrace.[40]

But those who were the leaders, but not men, who were they? Experienced
Generals from the school of the great King, men of high birth, loyal
and true to their King, grown old in honours. But were they too old?
They undoubtedly were grey-headed and weary. They had come into the
army as boys, perhaps from the teaching of the cadet colleges, where
they had been trained; they had marched and presented arms at the word
of command; had kept line and distance in countless parades; afterwards
they had kept a sharp look-out, that others might keep line and
distance, that the buttons were cleaned, and that the pig-tail was the
right length. In order to gain promotion, they had taken pains to learn
at Berlin whether Rüchel or Hohenlohe was in favour. This had been
their life. They knew little more than the spiritless routine of the
army, and that they were a wheel in the great machine. Now their army
was beaten, and the shattered remains in rapid retreat to the east.
What remained now, what was left of any value to them?

But it was not cowardice that made them such pitiful creatures. They
had formerly been brave soldiers, and most of them were not old enough
to be in their dotage. It was something else: they had lost all
confidence in their State; it appeared to them useless, hopeless to
defend themselves any longer--a fruitless slaughter of men. Thus did
these unfortunate ones feel. They had been all their life mediocre
men--not better nor worse than others; this mediocrity now prevailed,
as far as their narrow point of view reached, everywhere in the State.
Where was there anything great or strong? where any fresh life to give
enthusiasm and warmth? They themselves had been the delight, the
society of the Hohenzollerns--the first in the State, the salt of the
country; they were accustomed to look down upon citizens and officials.
Besides their Prince and the army itself, what had they in Prussia to
honour? Now the King was away--they knew not where--they were alone
within the walls of their fortress; and they found little in themselves
either to shun or to honour; they felt at best that they were weak.
Thus, in the hour of trial they became bad and mean, because they had
all their lives been placed higher than their merits. A fearful lesson
may be learnt from this; may Prussians always think of it. The
officers, as a privileged class, socially exclusive, with the feeling
of a privileged position in the State, were in constant danger of
fluctuating between arrogance and weakness. Only the officer who,
besides his honour as a soldier and his fidelity to his sovereign, had
a full participation in all that ennobled and elevated a citizen of his
time, could in a moment of difficulty find certain strength in his own
breast.

A period of intellectual poverty and mediocrity brought Prussia to the
verge of destruction; political passion raised it again.

But here an account shall be given of the feelings of a German citizen
on the fall of his State. He belonged to that circle of Prussian
jurists of whom we have just spoken. What he imparts is already known
from other records, yet his honest description will find sympathy from
its judicial clearness and simplicity:--

Cristoph Wilhelm Heinrich Sethe, born 1767, deceased 1855. "_Wirklicher
Geheimer Rath_," and chief president of the Rhenish court of appeal,
descended from a great legal family in the dukedom of Cleves; his
grandfather and father had been distinguished officials of the
government; his mother was a Grolmann. The boy grew up in the
enjoyment of wealth in his father's town; at sixteen years of age his
father sent him to the university of Duisburg, and then to Halle and
Göttingen; on his return he went through the Prussian grades of service
in the government of Cleve-Mark, an excellent school. These western
provinces---not of very great extent--comprised a good portion of the
strength of the Prussian State. This firm, vigorous population clung
with warm fidelity to the house of their Princes; there was in the
cities and among the peasants, who lived as freemen on their land, much
wealth, and the High Court of Justice was one of the best in Prussia
Sethe was "_Geheimer Rath_," happily married, with his whole heart in
his home, when a gloom was thrown over his native city and his own life
by the sound of war, the march and quartering of troops, exciting
reports, and, finally, the occupation of the town by the French, who,
as it is well known, allowed the sovereignty of Prussia to continue
for some years, till the Peace of Amiens took away the last vestige
of Prussian possession. Then Sethe severed himself from his home,
and established himself in the Prussian administration of the
newly-acquired portion of Münster.

He shall now relate himself what he experienced.[41]

"You can easily imagine, my dear children, that the departure from
Cleve was very distressing to us. It was a bitter feeling to wander in
this way from home, and leave one's native city under foreign laws and
the dominion of a foreign people.

"On 3rd October, 1803, we left. We went from Cleve to Münster in three
days; the journey from Emmerick was extremely difficult and tedious; it
was over corduroy roads, with loose stones thrown on them."[42]

"In the beginning of our life at Münster we also encountered many
annoyances. From the number of officials who had removed there, and the
numerous military, our accommodation was very restricted. Then we
arrived there towards winter, and provisions were very deficient; in
Münster there was no regular market, and the women from Cleve were in
despair, because they could get nothing. This, however, came right, and
afterwards they got on very well.

"On a friendly reception and courtesy to us intruding strangers we had
never reckoned, because we knew how much the people of Münster clung to
their constitution--with what steadfastness a great portion of them
still relied on their elected bishop, Victor Anton, and how unwillingly
they endured the new rule of Prussia. I have never blamed them for
this; it was a praiseworthy trait in their character that they should
be unwilling to separate from a government under which they had felt
happy; but others took this much amiss of them, and expected that they
would receive the Prussians with open arms, and immediately become
Prussians in heart and soul, which could only be expected from a fickle
people who had groaned under the fetters of a harsh government.

"Therefore, there was already division and separation between the new
comers of old Prussia and the people of Münster before our arrival.
Thus, much took place which was not likely to promote intimacy, or to
awaken a friendly feeling in the inhabitants.

"By the disbanding of the Münster military, the greater number of the
officers were dismissed with pensions, and thrown out of their course
of life. This first consequence of the Prussian occupation not only
deeply wounded the feelings of those dismissed, but was generally
considered as unjust; and the more so as among the Münster officers
there was much culture and scientific knowledge, and the general run of
Prussian officers could not stand comparison with them.

"The introduction of conscription increased the discontent; but still
more general indignation was excited by the ill-treatment which the
enlisted sons of citizens and country people had to bear from the
non-commissioned officers. I myself was eyewitness of the way in which
a non-commissioned officer dealt abusive language, blows, and kicks to
a recruit, and struck him on the shins with his cane, so that tears of
sorrow coursed down the cheeks of the poor man. The spirit, also, which
prevailed among the greater number of the Prussian officers, and their
consequent behaviour, was not calculated to excite a favourable feeling
in a new country towards the new government. Blücher, indeed, who was
commandant of Münster, won real esteem and liking by his popular
manner, his open and upright character, and his justice; and General
von Wobeser, commander of a dragoon regiment, a very sensible,
cultivated, moderate man, did so likewise; but the good effect of their
conduct was spoilt by that of the others, namely, the general body of
the subaltern officers.

"Once there arose a dispute betwixt some citizens and the guard at the
Mauritz-gate; the citizens were said to have gone amongst the arms and
hustled the guard. Blücher was at that time at Pyrmont. There appeared
then a proclamation, under the signature of a General von Ernest, but
from another pen, by which every sentry who was touched by a citizen
should be authorised to strike him down. This irrational order, which
gave every sentinel power over the lives of the citizens, who, by
touching them even accidentally, were exposed to their bayonets,
excited indignation.

"In addition to this, there now happened a disagreeable affair between
three officers and three prebendaries.[43] There existed at Münster a
so-called noble ladies' club, which admitted both men and ladies.
Immediately after the first possession of the place, from political
motives. Generals Blücher and Wobeser, the President Von Stein, and
other Prussian officers were admitted, also Blücher's son Franz. In
balloting for the admittance of another Prussian officer, he was
blackballed. Indisputably this showed an objection, either to him as a
Prussian, or to the admittance of more officers, for against the
individual nothing could be said. This could not fail to increase the
bad feeling, and it wounded especially the sensitive vanity of the
young officers. Moreover, the ballot was at first declared to be
favourable, and it was only upon a revision of the balls that the black
ball was discovered; that is to say, the lady president of the club,
the widowed Frau von Droste-Vischering, a very worthy and good-humoured
lady, either by mistake or from the well-meant intention of preventing
the disagreeable consequences of blackballing, had counted a white ball
too much. It was remarked by one of the prebendaries present, that the
whole number of balls did not agree with the number of votes. On
counting them again accurately, it was found that the candidate was not
received. Undoubtedly the younger prebendaries might have co-operated
in the exclusion.

"The impetuous Lieutenant Franz von Blücher gave vent to his feelings
concerning this to one of the young prebendaries, and some words ensued
between them. The following day Franz Blücher challenged this
prebendary by letter; and two other officers, one of whom was the
rejected one, challenged two other young prebendaries in the same way.
Both these, who had not had the slightest hostile communication with
the challengers, wrote to express their surprise. One of them received
for answer, that he had laughed at the altercation between Lieutenant
von Blücher and the other prebendary, and therefore he, the challenger,
felt himself injured in the person of his friend Blücher. The other
challenger would not even give such an excuse, he only wrote that he
felt himself aggrieved, and that was enough.

"The prebendaries, who, on account of their spiritual order, could not
accept the challenge, informed the King immediately of the occurrence.
The result was, the appointment of a mixed commission of inquiry under
the presidency of General von Wobeser, and our President of
Administration, Von Sobbe, into which I also was introduced, together
with the quartermaster of the regiment, Ribbentrop. The prebendaries
were acquitted by the court of justice before which the case was
brought, and the officers were sentenced by a court-martial to three
weeks' arrest, which they spent at the guard-house in the society of
their companions, and promenading before it.

"But the three prebendaries were also wounded in their most sensitive
feelings by a malicious trick which was played them. Before this
commission of inquiry was appointed, they were invited, through a
livery servant, to a great evening party at General Blücher's without
his knowledge. They were all startled, suspected some mistake, and were
doubtful about going. But as they were all three invited through a
servant of the General's, they decided there could be no mistake, and
also their relations and friends, who thought this invitation was a
step towards the accommodation of the affair, advised them to go.
General Blücher, who had never thought of inviting them, was naturally
very irate at seeing the three prebendaries enter. Being much
prejudiced against them by his son Franz, who had then much influence
over his father, and perhaps irritated by invidious remarks from the
originator of the intrigue, upon their boldness in appearing, he gave
them to understand that they had not been invited, and might go. They
indignantly left the party, and not only they, but also their families;
the ladies hastened home on foot, so deeply did they feel the
mortification. This concerted deliberate affront excited general
ill-will, and contributed very much to increase the bad feeling.

"But what more than all increased the bitterness was the exercise of
'Cabinet justice'[44] in the suit of the firm of Herren von der Beck,
against the Herren von Landesberg and Von Böselager. By a 'Cabinet
order' of the 5th September, 1805, obtained by Von der Reck, the suit
between the two parties pending in the Imperial Aulic Council was
declared to be legally decided, and a commission of execution was
appointed to eject the Herren von Landesberg and Von Böselager from
their property, and to place the Herren von der Reck in possession of
it.

"This unfortunate business, in a country which had as yet no Prussian
feeling, revolted all minds. In public writings this violent inroad on
the course of law was vehemently attacked, and an odious stain was
inflicted on our Prussian justice, of which we had talked so loudly.

"It was a mistake not to introduce the whole Prussian constitution at
the outset, there would then have been only one source of discontent
instead of constantly recurring irritation. Some, of the new things
that were introduced piecemeal were peculiarly disagreeable to the
people of Münster, who were quite unaccustomed to them, such as the
stamp duty, conscription, and the salt monopoly. Also the well-known
excise was impending. Already were the toll-houses built, and it was to
have been introduced in 1807, but was prevented by the events of the
year 1806. But the expectation gave a disagreeable foretaste, and
through it new fuel was added to the hatred. At last, but much too
late, as the unhappy war had begun, the chapter was dissolved.

"Under such circumstances, residence in Münster was not agreeable to us
old Prussians. I indeed felt this less than others; after I had made
myself, to a certain extent, at home, I got on well with the people
there; we won many true friends, and experienced from them much love
and friendship. As in my office, so in social intercourse, I took pains
to judge justly.

"But the year 1806 came, and one sorrow followed upon another. First
the three Rhine portions of the Duchy of Cleve, which remained to the
Prussians, surrendered to Napoleon; he established himself on this side
of the Rhine, and came into possession of the fortress Wesel, which was
only too near to the present Prussian frontier. His brother-in-law
Joachim Murat became duke of the old hereditary possessions of the
King's family. No one could conceal from himself that our State, which
spread so wide from east to west, was in a very critical position. Our
grief was increased by the insolence with which the newly created duke
carried on his encroachments even as far as Münster.

"New clouds rose darkly over us. Letters from Berlin breathed war
against Napoleon, Blücher left us, and we expected the French
occupation of Münster. It is true that General Lecoq had entered it
with a small corps, but this gave us little comfort, for he appeared to
wish to abandon the city, with its moats and ramparts, to the evil
results of a useless defence. When he had felled down a beautiful
plantation in front of the Egidien gate, and after the appearance of
our war manifesto, the city was terrified one night by sudden alarm
signals, in order, as he said, to prove the watchfulness of his
soldiers; in the middle of October he suddenly withdrew and left us to
our fate.

"Nevertheless, we old Prussians, confiding in the valour of our
soldiers, gazed hopefully towards the east, and looked forward with
impatient expectation to news of victory. And it came--when Napoleon
was already making his victorious march to Berlin--and it bore such an
impress of truth, that President Von Vinke[45] ordered it to be
published. Never was there such exultation; every one hastened to the
other to convey first the joyful news. But the deepest prostration
followed; the cup we had now to drink was the more bitter after the
intoxication of pleasure. A few days after we received from fugitives
only too certain an account of the loss of the battle of Jena.

"Yet we recovered from the first stupefaction, and did not give up all
hope. One lost battle could not decide the fate of the whole war.

"But when we received detailed accounts of the terrible consequences of
this defeat, when the last remains of the army had to lay down their
arms at Lübeck, when the fortresses of Hameln, Magdeburg, Stettin and
Castrin had, with unexampled cowardice, been surrendered without a blow
to the enemy, and the whole Prussian State came under their power, then
our courage sank, we knew that we were lost.

"Meanwhile the sorrowful intelligence of the lost battle was followed
by the enemy taking possession of the place.

"Early one morning, a division of cavalry of the army of the King of
Holland entered. Our anger and sorrow were increased by the feeling of
the people of Münster, which was very different from ours. Already on
the arrival of the vanguard of the Dutch army, their long-nourished,
slumbering indignation against the Prussians manifested itself in
unconcealed joy. With open arms were the liberators from Prussian
domination received, and joyfully lodged. Immediately afterwards the
King of Holland marched in at the head of his army.

"We had hard work in quartering them, as ten thousand men had entered
the city. But strict discipline was kept, for it was undoubtedly the
object of the King of Holland not to make the country inimical to him;
but to treat it in the most conciliatory way. He flattered himself that
the frontier Prussian province would come to the share of the Kingdom
of Holland. His proceedings and the language of those about him, showed
that he already considered himself as possessor of the country. He
established an upper administrative council, at whose head General
Daendels was placed, in co-ordinate authority with the presidents of
the provincial administration and exchequer. Immediately the Münster
nobles came before him with their complaints of the Prussian rule, to
which he listened. First stood the abolition of the chapter, and the
ejection of Herren von Landesberg and von Böselager. He exercised a
real act of sovereignty, for he reinstated the chapter, and reversed
the execution against those who had been expelled in the suit of the
Herren von der Reck.

"Meanwhile his kingdom soon came to an end; he had to march away at the
command of Napoleon, who divided the conquered Prussian provinces into
military governments, and appointed Generals and General-Intendants to
preside. The Principalities of Münster and Lingen, and the counties of
Mark and Tecklenburg, together with the Domain of Dortmund, formed the
first of these governments. General Loison came to Münster.

"Thus for the second time I came under French rule. In vain had I
endeavoured to escape; fruitless were the severe sacrifices I had made
for this purpose. I had abandoned Fatherland and home, parents and
property, only to undergo once more in a foreign country the
catastrophe which I had avoided, and which now came upon me in a far
worse form. When Cleve became French, I took leave of it; I felt in my
heart pleasure in returning under the sceptre of my own King, and under
the rule of home laws; this one anchor to which I had held, was now
torn from me. The power of Prussia was shattered, the whole State, with
the exception of a small portion, was now in the power of a conqueror,
whose ambitious plans displayed themselves more and more. It was only
too certain that we should be trampled upon; but what our fate might
be, over that a dark veil was drawn. The grief which gnawed in our
bosoms and the deep mourning in which we were sunk, were increased by
the annoyance of witnessing the joyful exultation of the people of
Münster over their liberation from Prussian rule, and the favour with
which they were treated by the conqueror and his satellites. It was
more especially the Münster nobles who thus distinguished themselves,
and behaved in a most undignified way. I will relate some instances of
it.

"In order in the speediest way to remove the hated Prussian colours,
which were painted on the turnpikes, bridges, and public buildings, and
to replace them by the old Münster colours, a subscription was raised
to defray the costs, and our colours were erased as soon as possible.
One of the most opulent nobles took pleasure in showing his warm
participation in this undertaking, by giving his signature to a
considerable sum; in order to make known that he could not refrain from
expressing his satisfaction, he added to his subscription, the phrase:
'With pleasure,' that no one might doubt his patriotic feeling.

"The presidents, directors, councillors, assessors and referendaries of
the government, and of the war and royal domain departments, continued
to wear their official uniforms. These reminiscences of Prussian
supremacy were an abomination in the eyes of the nobles. They therefore
endeavoured to work upon General Loison to order the laying aside of
the uniform; but they only half succeeded. The General expressly
permitted the continuance of the uniform, and only ordered that the
Prussian button should be taken away, which we were obliged to change
for a smooth one. Thus the uniform was not laid aside, and the Geheime
Rath von Forkenbeck and I still wore it at the council in the year
1808, when we were called to Düsseldorf.

"This otherwise proud Münster nobility paid as much court to the French
Generals as to their former ruler, the Prince Bishop.

"The oath prescribed by Napoleon, which was imposed also in Münster,
was so little obnoxious to them, that they even endeavoured to make a
solemnity of taking it, and to do it with the ceremony which is only
customary at doing homage. A canopy was erected in the great hall of
the castle, under which General Loison received the oath. It was with
great astonishment that we beheld these preparations, but our surprise
was still greater when we saw General Loison, accompanied by the
hereditary and court officials of the former Bishop of Münster; who,
with their old state ministered to the French General, in the same way
as to their former Sovereign, and stood at his side as supporters
during the ceremony.

"A considerable table allowance was appointed for the governor--if I do
not mistake, 12,000 thalers monthly--which was raised by an
extraordinary tax. A household was formed, and the pensioned Münster
officials were again employed. The Court Marshal von Sch. acted in this
capacity at the table of the French governor; he issued the invitations
for dinners and evening assemblies, on which occasions he wore his old
court marshal's uniform, with his marshal's staff in his hand, and
under him was the court quartermaster with his sword, &c. When we saw
this servile conduct the first time, the president of the
administration, Von Sobbe, speaking to me, called the one an arrant
fool, and the other the court fool.

"Besides this, there was a volunteer guard of honour established for
General Loison, who equipped themselves. They furnished the daily guard
at the castle, and accompanied the General, when with a troop of
soldiers he made a progress into the county of Mark. At the head of
this guard of honour there were members of the Münster nobility.

"In the noble ladies' club, from which every respectable German had
been excluded who did not belong to their caste, they received the
French General with his mistress, in order to exercise more influence
upon him.

"Nevertheless, they were not so successful with General Loison; he was
too wary for them, made fun of them in secret, and only cared for the
presents that were partly given to him and partly promised. They had
offered him a costly sword as a present, which he accepted graciously.
The sword was ordered and made at Frankfort, but it only arrived after
Loison had left the government. Now they were sorry for this too hasty
offer, and they had no desire to send him the sword, as they had not
found that complaisance in him which they expected. All this courtly
_empressement_ became so repugnant to Loison, that he himself prevailed
on Napoleon to recall him to the army.

"With his weaker successor, Canuel, it succeeded better. My worthy
friend the president, Von Vinke, was the first to experience it. An
incidental expression thrown out by him in a remonstrance, 'that
otherwise he could no longer carry on his office,' was readily laid
hold of as signifying a resignation, and he was dismissed from his
post.

"In order to overcome my grief at things that could not be altered, I
endeavoured to find distraction in a great work. The yet incomplete
state of the laws of mortgages in the county of Münster, offered me the
handiest and best material I devoted myself to this tedious work with
the greatest zeal, and with the assistance of many referendaries, I
accomplished the registry of all the title deeds which had to be
recorded in the mortgage book of the government of Münster. Thus I
succeeded in a certain measure in occupying myself, and I learnt by
experience that hard work is in truth a soothing balsam, which precedes
the slow healing powers of time.

"But much as I believed myself to have acquired a kind of philosophic
tranquillity by this withdrawal into my narrow sphere of business, yet
I could not escape agitating feelings when the Peace of Tilsit really
separated us from the Prussian State, and removed its frontier as much
as forty miles to the east of us. The moving words with which our
unhappy King took leave of his subjects, in the ceded provinces, and
discharged the officials from their oath of allegiance, made us feel
our loss still deeper. 'Dear children, it is an indescribably sorrowful
feeling when the old ties of allegiance, of love, and confidence, which
have bound us through long successive years to our ancestors, our
State, and rulers, are at once violently rent, when a new and foreign
ruler is forced upon a people, for whom no heart beats, who is received
with despairing doubts, and who on his side feels nothing for his
subjects.'"

Here we conclude the narrative of the good Prussian. Münster and the
county of Mark were attached to the new grand-dukedom of Berg; Sethe
himself became procurator-general of the Court of Appeals at
Düsseldorf. But not for long, the firm uprightness of the German
appeared suspicious to the foreign conqueror; he had not offered his
aid in supporting the acts of tyranny of the French government;
therefore he was called with threats to Paris, and there arrested,
because, in fact, they feared his influence on the patriotic
disposition of the country. When, in 1813, he was released, and the
Prussian rule was restored in his Fatherland, he conducted the
organisation of the legal authorities in the Rhine country. From that
time he led a long, useful life of activity in his office, one of the
first Prussian jurists who supported trial by jury, publicity, and
verbal evidence, against the State government. A firm independence of
character, truthful, devoted to duty, with deified earnestness and
simplicity, he was a model of old Prussian official honour. The
blessing of his life rests on his children.

It is not without an object that in this and the preceding chapter two
portraitures from the circle of German citizens have been placed in
juxtaposition. They represent the contrasts that were to be found in
German life, through the whole of the eighteenth century up to the war
of freedom. We see Pietists and followers of Wolf; Klopstock and
Lessing; Schiller and Kant; Germans and Prussians; a rich contemplative
mind, and a persevering energy, which subjects the external world to
itself.



                              CHAPTER XI.

                          RISE OF THE NATION.
                             (1807-1815.)


The greatest blessing which Reformers leave behind them to succeeding
generations seldom lies in that which they themselves consider as the
fruit of their earthly life, nor in the dogmas for which they have
contended, suffered and conquered, and been blessed and cursed by their
contemporaries. It is not their system which has the lasting effect,
but the numerous sources of new life, which through their labour is
brought to light from the depths of the popular mind. The new system
which Luther opposed to the old church, lost a portion of its
constructive power a few years after he had laid his head to rest. But
that which, during his great conflict with the hierarchy, he had done
to rouse independence of mind in his people, to increase the feeling of
duty, to raise the morals and to found discipline and culture, the
impress of his soul in every domain of ideal life, remained in the
severe struggles of the following century, an indestructible gain from
which at last grew a fulness of new life. The system also of Frederic
the Great, not many years after his death, was discarded by a foreign
conqueror as an imperfect invention; but again the best result of his
life remained an enduring acquisition for Prussia and Germany. He had
called forth in thousands of his officials and soldiers zeal and
faithfulness to duty, and in millions of his subjects devotion to his
family; he had, as a wise political husbandman, sown everywhere the
seed of intellectual and material prosperity. This was what remained to
his State, the excellent cultivated soil from which the new life was to
blossom. When his army was crushed, the country overrun by strangers,
and the pangs of bitter need compelled men to seek the means of
supporting life wherever they could find them, then in the midst of all
this desolation arose a new power in the nation, their capacity for
work. Even the rapidity and completeness with which the old system
broke down, melancholy as it was to behold, was, nevertheless,
fortunate; for though it did not cast aside suddenly all the upholders
of the old system, yet it averted the greater danger of their
resistance. It now became evident how great was the material to be
found in Prussia, not only among officials and officers, but in the
people itself. Unexampled was the fall, and equally unexampled was the
recovery.

The nation was stunned; it looked listlessly on the shipwreck of its
State; it had always received its impulse from the government. In the
chaotic confusion that now followed, there seemed no hope of rescue;
the weak cursed the bad government, the superficial viewed maliciously
the prostration of the unintellectual and privileged orders, and the
weakest followed the star of the conqueror. Men of warm feeling
secluded themselves like Steffens, who wrote a sorrowful ode on the
fall of the Fatherland; but cooler heads investigated sullenly the
defects of the old system, and with bitterness condemned alike the good
and bad.

The misery becomes greater, it is the intention of the Emperor to open
all the veins, and draw blood from that portion of Prussia to which he
has left a semblance of life. Exorbitant are the contributions. The
French army is distributed over the country--it occupies cantonments in
Silesia and the March; officers and soldiers are billeted upon the
citizens--they are to be fed and entertained. At the cost of the
district a table d'hôte is to be established, and balls given. The
soldier is to be compensated for the hardships of war. We are the
conquerors, exclaim the officers arrogantly. There is no law against
their brutality, or the impudence with which they disturb the peace of
families in which they now rule as masters. If they are polite to the
ladies of the house, that does not make them more acceptable to the
men. Still worse is the conduct of the Generals and Marshals.

Prince Jerome has his head-quarters at Breslau, and there keeps a
dissolute court; the people still relate how licentiously he lived, and
daily bathed in a cask of wine. At Berlin, General-Intendant Daru
raises his demands higher every month. Even the humiliating conditions
of the peace are still too good for Prussia; the tyrant scornfully
alters the schedules. The fortresses are not restored, as was promised;
with refined cruelty the war charges are increased enormously. They
have drawn from the country, which still bears the name of Prussia,
more than 200 millions of thalers in six years.

On trade and commerce, also, the new system lays its destroying hand.
By the Continental system, imports and exports are almost abolished.
Manufactories are stationary, and the circulation of money stagnates;
the number of bankrupts becomes alarmingly great: even the necessaries
of daily life are exorbitantly high; the multitude of poor increases
frightfully; even in the great cities the troops of hungry souls that
traverse the streets can scarcely be controlled. The more wealthy also
restrict their wants to the smallest possible compass; they begin a
voluntary discipline in their own life, denying themselves small
enjoyments to which they are accustomed. Instead of coffee, they drink
roasted acorns, and eat black and rye bread; large societies bind
themselves to use no sugar, and the housewife no longer preserves
fruit. As Ludwig von Vincke, who then resided as a landed proprietor in
the new grand-dukedom of Berg, pertinaciously smoked coltsfoot instead
of tobacco, and made his wine of black currants, so did others renounce
the necessaries on which the foreign tyrant had imposed a monopoly.

But philosophy begins its great work, bringing blessing upon the State,
by purifying and elevating the minds of men. While the French drum was
beating in the streets of Berlin, and the spies of the stranger were
lurking about the houses, Fichte delivered his discourses on the German
nation: a new and powerful race was to be trained, the national
character to be improved, and lost freedom to be regained.

From the extreme east of the State, where now the greatest strength of
the Prussian bureaucracy is at the head of affairs, a new organisation
of the people began. Serfdom was abolished, landed property made free,
and self-government established in the cities. The exclusiveness of
classes was broken, privileges done away with, and a new constitution
for the army was prepared by Colonel Scharnhorst. Whatever power of
life there was in the people was now to have free play.

In the year 1808, Prussia was no longer fainthearted; it began to raise
its head hopefully, and looked about for aid. The first political
society formed itself; "_tugendbund_,"[46] education unions, scientific
societies, and officers' clubs, all had the same object--to free their
Fatherland, and to educate the people for an approaching struggle.
There was much trifling and immoderate zeal displayed, but they
included a large number of patriotic men. Messengers ran actively with
secret papers, but it was difficult for the unpractised associates to
deceive the spies of the enemy. Dark plans of revenge were proposed in
many of these unions; and desperate men hoped, by a great crime, to
save the Fatherland.

Hopes rise higher the following year: the war has begun in Spain;
Austria prepares itself for the most heroic struggle that it has ever
undertaken. In Prussia, also, the ground is hollow beneath the feet of
the stranger; all is prepared for an outbreak; and the Police
President, Justice Grüner, is one of the most active leaders of the
movement. But it is not possible to unite Prussia with Austria; the
first great rising of the people wastes itself in single hopeless
attempts. Schill, Dörnberg, the Duke of Brunswick, and the rising in
Silesia fail. The battle of Wagram destroys the last hope of Austria's
help.

The courage of many sinks, but not of the best. Unweariedly do the
friends of the Fatherland exercise themselves in the use of fire-arms;
the Prussian army, also, which does not amount to more than 42,000 men,
is secretly increased to more than double that number; and in all the
military workshops the soldiers sit as artisans working at the
equipments for a future war.

A second time do the hopes of the people rise; Napoleon prepares
himself for war against Russia. Again is the time come when a struggle
is possible; already does Hardenberg venture to tell the French
ambassador, St. Marsan, that Prussia will not allow itself to be
crushed, and will encounter a foreign attack with 100,000 soldiers. But
the King will not resolve upon a desperate resistance; he gives the
half of his standing army as aid to the French Emperor. Then 300
officers leave his service, and hasten to Russia, there to fight
against Napoleon. And again hope diminishes in Prussia, freedom seems
removed to an immeasurable distance.

Violent has the hatred against the foreign Emperor become in northern
Germany; above all, west of the Elbe, where his ceaseless wars have
sacrificed the youth of the country. The conscription is there
considered as the death lot. The price of a substitute has risen to two
thousand thalers. In all the streets, mourning attire is to be seen,
worn by parents for their lost sons. But most violent of all is the
hatred in Prussia, in every vocation of life, in every house it calls
to the struggle. Everything that is pure and good in Germany--language,
poetry, philosophy, and morals--work silently against Napoleon.
Everything that is bad, corrupt, and wicked, all duplicity and cruelty,
calumny, knavishness and brutal violence, is considered as Gallic and
Corsican. Like the fantastic Jahn, other eager spirits call the Emperor
no longer by his name: they speak of him as once they did of the devil,
as "he," or with a contemptuous expression as Bonaparte.

Thus had six years hardened the character in Prussia.

It was no longer a great State that in the spring of 1813 armed itself
for a struggle of life and death. What remained of Prussia only
comprehended 4,700,000. This small nation in the first campaign brought
into the field an army of 247,000 men, reckoning one out of nineteen of
the whole population. The significance of this is clear, when one
reckons that an equal effort on the part of Prussia as it is, with its
eighteen millions of inhabitants, would give the enormous amount of
950,000 soldiers for an army in the field.[47] And this calculation
conveys only the relative number of men, not the proportion of the then
and present wealth of the country.

It was a much impoverished nation that entered upon the war. Merchants,
manufacturers, and artisans, had for six years struggled fearlessly
against the hard times. The agriculturist had his barns emptied, and
his best horses taken from his stables; the debased coin that
circulated in the country disturbed the interior commerce even with the
nearest neighbours, the thalers which had been saved from a better time
had long been spent. In the mountain valleys the people were famishing;
on the line of march of the great armies even the commonest necessaries
of life were failing; teams and seed had been wanting to the countryman
as early as 1807; in 1812 there was the same distress.

It is true that there was bitter sorrow among the people over the
downfall of Prussia, and deep hatred against the Emperor of the French.
But it would be doing great injustice to the Prussians to consider
their rising as more especially occasioned by the fiery passion of
resentment. More than once, both in ancient and modern times, has a
city or small nation carried on its desperate death-struggle to the
last extremity; more than once we have been filled with astonishment at
the wild heroic courage and self-devotion which have led men to
voluntary death in the flames of their own houses, or under the fire of
the enemy. But this lofty power of resistance is not perhaps free from
a certain degree of fanaticism, which inflames the soul almost to
madness. Of this there is no trace in the Prussians. On the contrary,
there was a cheerful serenity throughout the whole nation which seems
very touching to us. It arose from faith in their own strength,
confidence in a good cause, and, above all, in an innocent youthful
freshness of feeling.

For the German, this period in the life of his nation has a special
significance. It was the first time that for many centuries political
enthusiasm had burst forth in bright flames among the people. For
centuries there had been in Germany nations of individuals, living
under the government of princes, for which they had no love or honour,
and in which they took no active share. Now, in the hour of greatest
danger, the people claimed its own inalienable right in the State. It
threw its whole strength voluntarily and joyfully into a death-struggle
to preserve its State from destruction.

This struggle has a still higher significance for Prussia and its royal
house. In the course of a hundred and fifty years the Hohenzollerns, by
uniting unconnected provinces as one State, had formed their subjects
into a nation. A great prince, and the costly victories, and brilliant
success of the house, had excited a feeling of love in the new nation
for their princes. Now the government of a Hohenzollern had been too
weak to preserve the inheritance of his father. Now did the people,
whom his ancestors had created, rise and give to the last effort that
its prince could make, a direction and a grandeur which forced the King
from his state of prostration almost against his will. The Prussian
people paid with its blood to the race of its princes the debt of
gratitude that it owed the Hohenzollerns for the greatness and
prosperity which they had procured for it. This faithful and dutiful
devotion arose from feeling that the life and true interests of the
royal house were one with the people.

But in the glow of popular feeling in 1813 there was something
peculiar, which already appears strange to us. When a great political
idea fills a people, we can now accurately define the stages through
which it must pass before it can be condensed into a firm resolve. The
press begins to teach and to excite; those of like minds assemble
together at public meetings, and the discourse of an enthusiastic
speaker exercises its influence. Gradually the number of those who are
interested increases; from the strife of different views, which contend
together in public, is developed a knowledge of what is necessary, an
insight into the ways and means, the will to meet such requirements,
and, lastly, self-sacrifice and devotion. Of this gradual growth of the
popular mind through public life there is scarcely a trace in 1813.
What worked upon the nation externally was of another kind. The feeling
was excited by a single great moment; but, in general, a tranquillity
rested on the nation which one may well call epic. The feeling of
millions burst forth simultaneously; not abounding in words, without
any imposing appearance, still quiet, but, like one of nature's forces,
irresistible There is a pleasure in observing its course in certain
great moments. It shall be here portrayed, not as it shines forth in
prominent characters, but as it appears in the life of minor
personages.

It was after New Year's Day, 1813. The parting year had left a severe
winter as a heritage to the new one, but, in a moderate-sized city in
Prussia, the people stood in crowds before the post-office. Happy was
he who could first carry home a newspaper. Short and cautious were the
accounts of the events of the day, for in Berlin there was a French
military governor, who watched every expression of the intimidated
press. Nevertheless, the news of the fate of the great army had long
penetrated into the most remote huts; first came vague reports of
danger and suffering, the account of a tremendous fire in Moscow and
flames up to the skies, which had risen, as from the earth, around the
Emperor; then of a flight through snow and desert plains, of hunger and
indescribable misery. Cautiously did the people speak of it, for the
French not only occupied the capital and fortresses of the country, but
had also in the provinces their agents, spies, and hated informers,
whom the citizens avoided. Within a few days it was known that the
Emperor himself had fled from his army; in an open sledge, disguised as
Duke of Vicenza, and, with only one follower, he had travelled day and
night through Prussia. On the 12th of December, about eight o'clock in
the evening, he arrived at Glogau, there he reposed for an hour, and
started again about ten o'clock, in spite of the terrible cold.
The following morning he entered the castle of Hanau, where the
posting-station then was. The resolute post-mistress, Kramtsch,
recognised him, and with violent gestures swore she would give him no
tea, but rather another drink. At the earnest representations of those
around her, she was softened so far as to pour some camomile tea into a
pot with a vehement oath; he, however, drank of it, and went on to
Dresden. Now he had come to Paris, and it was told in the newspapers
how happy Paris was, how tenderly his wife and son had greeted him, how
well he was, and that he had already, on the 27th of December, been to
hear the beautiful opera of "Jerusalem Delivered." It was said further
that the great army, in spite of the unfavourable time of year, would
return in fearful masses through Prussia, and that the Emperor was
making new preparations. But the trial of General Mallet was also
reported; and it was known how impudently the French newspapers lied.

It was seen, also, what remained of the great army. In the first days
of the year the snow fell in flakes; it lay like a shroud over the
country. A train of men moved slowly and noiselessly along the high
road to the first houses of the suburb. It was the returning French.
Only a year ago, they had set forth at sunrise, with the sound of
trumpets, and the rattle of drums, in warlike splendour, and with
revolting arrogance. Endless had been the procession of troops; day
after day, without ceasing, the masses had rolled through the streets
of the city; never had the people seen so prodigious an army, of all
nations of Europe, with every kind of uniform, and hundreds of
Generals. The gigantic power of the Emperor sank deep into all souls,
the military spectacle still filled the fancy with its splendour and
its terrors.

But there was also an undefined expectation of a fearful fate. For a
whole month did this endless passage of troops last; like locusts the
strangers consumed everything in the country, from Kolberg to Breslau.
There had been a failure of the harvest in 1811, scarcely had the
country-people been able to save the seed oats, and these were eaten in
1812 by the French war horses. They devoured the last blade of grass
and the last bundle of straw; the villagers had to pay sixteen thalers
for a shock of chopped straw, and two thalers for a hundredweight of
hay. And greedily as the animals, did the men consume; from the Marshal
down to the common French soldier, they were insatiable. King Jerome
had demanded for his maintenance at Glogau, a not very large town,
four hundred thalers daily. The Duke of Abrantes had for a month
seventy-five thalers daily; the officers obliged the wife of a poor
village pastor to cook their ham with red wine; they drank the richest
cream out of the pitchers, and poured essence of cinnamon over it; the
common soldiers, also, even to the drummer, blustered if they did not
have two courses at dinner. They ate like madmen. But even then the
people prognosticated that they would not so return. And they said so
themselves. When formerly they had marched to war with their Emperor
their horses had neighed whenever they were led from the stable, but
now they hung their heads sorrowfully; formerly the crows and ravens
flew the contrary way to the army of the Emperor, now these birds of
the battle-field accompanied the army to the east, expecting their
prey.[48]

But those who now returned came in a more pitiable condition than
anyone had dreamed of. It was a herd of poor wretches who had entered
upon their last journey--they were wandering corpses. A disorderly
multitude of all races and nations collected together; without a drum
or word of command, and silent as a funeral procession, they approached
the city. They were all without weapons or horses, none in perfect
uniform, their clothes, ragged and dirty, mended with patches from the
dress of peasants and their wives. They had hung over their heads and
shoulders whatever they could lay hands on, as a covering against the
deadly penetrating cold; old sacks, torn horse-clothes, carpets,
shawls, and the fresh skins of cats and dogs; Grenadiers were to be
seen in large sheepskins. Cuirassiers wearing women's dresses of
coloured baize, like Spanish mantles. Few had helmets or shakos; they
wore every kind of head-dress, coloured and white nightcaps like the
peasants, drawn low over their faces, a handkerchief or a bit of fur as
a protection to their ears, and handkerchiefs also over the lower part
of their face; and yet the ears and noses of most were frost-bitten or
fiery red, and their dark eyes were almost extinguished in their
cavities. Few had either shoe or boot; fortunate was he who could go
through that miserable march with felt socks or large fur shoes, and
the feet of many were enveloped in straw, rags, the covering of
knapsacks, or the felt of an old hat. All tottered, supported by
sticks, lame and limping. The Guards even were little different from
the rest; their mantles were scorched, only their bear-skin caps gave
them still a military aspect. Thus did officers and soldiers, one with
another, crawl along with bent heads, in a state of gloomy
stupefaction. All had become forms of horror from hunger, frost, and
indescribable misery.

Day after day they came along the high road, generally as soon as
twilight and the iron winter fog were spread over the houses.
Demoniacal was the effect of these noiseless apparitions of horrible
figures, terrible the sufferings they brought with them; the people
asserted that warmth could not be restored to their bodies, nor their
craving hunger allayed. If they were taken into a warm room, they
thrust themselves violently against the hot stove, as if they would get
into it, and in vain did the compassionate women endeavour to keep them
away from the dangerous heat. Greedily they devoured the dry bread, and
some would not leave off till they died. Till after the battle of
Leipzig, the people were under the belief that they had been smitten by
Heaven with eternal hunger. Even then it occurred that the prisoners,
when close to their hospital, roasted for themselves pieces of dead
horses, although they had already received the regular hospital
food; still, therefore, did the citizens maintain that it was a
hunger specially inflicted by God; once they had thrown beautiful
wheat-sheaves into their camp fire, and had scattered good bread on the
dirty floor, now they were condemned never to be satiated by any human
food.[49]

Everywhere in the cities, along the road of the army, hospitals were
prepared for the homeward bound, and immediately all the sick wards
were overflowing, and virulent fevers annihilated the last strength of
the unfortunates. Countless were the corpses carried out, and the
citizens had to be careful that the infection did not penetrate into
their houses. Any of the foreigners that could, after the necessary
rest, crept home weary and hopeless. But the boys in the streets sang,
"Knights without swords, knights without horses, fugitives without
shoes, find nowhere rest and repose. God has struck man, horse, and
carriage," and behind the fugitives they yelled the mocking call, "The
Cossacks are coming." Then there was a movement of horror in the flying
mass, and they quickly tottered on through the gates.

These were the impressions of 1813. Meanwhile the newspapers announced
that General York had concluded the convention of Tauroggin with the
Russian Wittgenstein, and the Prussians read with dismay that the King
had rejected the stipulations, and dismissed the General from his
command. But immediately after it was said that he could not be in
earnest, for the King had left Berlin, where his precious head was no
longer safe among the French, and gone to Breslau. Now there were some
hopes.

In the Berlin paper of 4th March, among the foreign arrivals were still
French Generals; but the same day Herr von Tschernischef, commander of
a corps of cavalry, entered the capital in peaceful array.

It had been known for three months that the Russian winter, and the
army of the Emperor Alexander, had destroyed the great army. Already
had Gropius, at Christmas, introduced a diorama of the burning of
Moscow. For some weeks many of the new books had treated of Russia,
giving descriptions of the people; Russian manuals and Russian national
music were in vogue. Whatever came from the east was glorified by the
excited minds of the people. Nothing more so than the vanguard of the
foreign army, the Cossacks. Next the frost and hunger, they were
considered the conquerors of the French. Wonderful stories of their
deeds preceded them, they were said to be half wild men, of great
simplicity of manners, of remarkable heartiness, indescribable
dexterity, astuteness, and valour. It was reported how active their
horses were, how irresistible their attacks, that they could swim
through great rivers, climb the steepest hills, and bear the most
horrible cold with good courage.

On the 17th February, they appeared in the neighbourhood of Berlin;
after that, they were expected daily in the cities which lay further to
the west; daily did the boys go out of the gates to spy out whether a
troop of them could be descried coming. When, at last, their arrival
was announced, young and old streamed through the streets. They were
welcomed with joyful acclamations, eagerly did citizens carry to them
whatever would rejoice the hearts of the strangers; it was thought that
brandy, sauerkraut, and herrings would suit their national taste.
Everything about them was admired; their strong, thick beards, long
dark hair, thick sheepskins, wide blue trowsers, and their weapons,
pikes, long Turkish pistols, often of costly work, which they wore in
broad leather girdles round their bodies, and the crooked Turkish
sabre. With transport were they watched when they supported themselves
on their lances and vaulted nimbly over thick cushion saddles, which
served at the same time as sacks for their mantles; or couched their
lances, urging on their lean horses with loud hurrahs; and, again, when
they fastened their lances by a thong to the arm and trotted along,
swinging that foreign instrument, the kantschu, to the astonishment of
the youths--everyone stepped aside and looked at them with respect. All
were enchanted also with their style of riding. They bent themselves
down to the ground at full gallop, and lifted up the smallest objects.
At the quickest pace they whirled their pikes round their heads, and
hit with certainty any object at which they aimed. Astonishment soon
changed to a feeling of intimacy; they quickly won the heart of the
people. They were particularly friendly to the young, raised the
children on their horses, and rode with them round the market-place;
they sang in families in what was supposed to be the Cossack's style.
Every boy became either a Cossack, or a Cossack's horse. Some of the
customs, indeed, of these heroic friends were rather unpleasant, they
were ill-mannered enough to pilfer, and at their night quarters it was
plainly perceptible that they were not clean. Nevertheless, there long
remained a fantastic glitter about them among both friends and foes,
even when in the struggles that were now carried on among civilised
men, they showed themselves to be plunderers, not trustworthy, and
little serviceable. When later they returned home from the war, it was
remarked that they had much degenerated.

The newspapers were only delivered three times in the week, and the
roads from the spring thaw then were very bad; thus the news came
slowly at intervals through the provinces, where it was not stopped by
the march of troops and the confusion of the struggle between the
advancing Russians and retreating French. But every sheet, every report
that conveyed new information, was received with eager sympathy. It was
talked of in families, and in all the society of the cities, but the
excitement was seldom expressed with any vehemence. There was a
pathetic feeling in all hearts, but it no longer showed itself in words
and gestures. For a century the Germans had found pleasure in their
tears, had given vent to much feeling about nothing; now that great
objects engrossed their life they were calm, there was no speechifying,
with bated breath they restrained the disquiet of their hearts. If
important news came, the master of the house announced it to his
family, and quietly wiped away the tears that were in his eyes. This
tranquillity and self-control was the peculiarity of that time.

Small flying sheets were read with delight, especially what the
faithful Arndt addressed to his countrymen. New songs spread through
the country, in small parts, according to the custom of the
ballad-singers, "printed this year;" generally bad and coarse, full of
hate and scorn, they were forerunners of the beautiful poetic effusions
of youthful vigor which were sung some months later by the Prussian
battalions when they went to battle. The best of these songs were sung
in families to the harpsichord, or the husband played the melody on the
flute--which was then a favourite domestic instrument--and the mother
sang the words with her children; for weeks this was the great evening
amusement. These verses had more effect on the smaller circles of the
people than on the more cultivated, they soon supplanted the old street
songs. Sometimes the citizens bought the frightful caricatures of
Napoleon and his army which then were sold through the country as
flying-sheets, but often betrayed, by their Parisian dialect, that they
were composed by the French. The coarseness and malicious vulgarity
which now offend us, were easily overlooked, because they served to
express hatred; it was only in the larger cities that they occupied the
people in the streets, in the country they exercised little influence.

Such was the disposition of the people when they received the
proclamations of their King, which between the 3rd of February and the
17th of March, calling out first volunteer riflemen, and then the
Landwehr, put the whole defensive force of Prussia under arms. Like a
spring storm that breaks the ice, they penetrated the souls of the
people. The flood rose high, all hearts beat with emotion of pleasure
and proud hope; and again at this moment of highest elevation, we find
the same simplicity and quiet composure. There were not many words, but
quick decision. The volunteers collected quietly in the towns of their
provinces, and marched, singing energetically, to the chief cities,
Königsberg, Breslau, and Colberg, and then to Berlin. The clergy
announced in their churches the proclamation of the King, but it was
hardly necessary. The people knew already what they were to do. When a
young theologian, taking his father's place, admonished his
parishioners from the pulpit to do their duty, and added that these
were not empty words, for, as soon as the service was over, he himself
would volunteer as a Hussar, a number of young men stood up in the
church and declared they would do the same. When a betrothed hesitated
to separate himself from his intended, and at last made known his
resolve to go, she told him she had secretly lamented that he had not
been one of the first to depart. Sons hastened to the army, and wrote
to their parents to tell them of their hasty decision, and the parents
approved; it was not surprising to them that their sons had done
spontaneously what was only their duty. When a youth had made his way
to one of the places of meeting, he found his brother already there,
who had come from the other side of the country; they had not even
written to one another.

The academies for lectures were closed at Königsberg, Berlin, and
Breslau. The University of Halle, also, still under Westphahan rule,
was closed; the students had gone, either singly or in small bands, to
Breslau. The Prussian newspapers mentioned laconically in two lines,
"Almost all the students from Halle, Jena, and Göttingen, are come to
Breslau, they wish to share in the fame of fighting for German
freedom."

At the gymnasium the taller and older ones were not considered always
the best scholars, and the teachers of the Greek grammar had looked
upon them with contempt; now they were the pride and envy of the
school, the teachers gave them a hearty shake of the hand, and the
younger ones looked on them with admiration as they departed. But it
was not only those in the first bloom of youth who were excited to
enter into the struggle, but also the officials, those indispensable
servants of the State, judges and councillors, men from every circle of
the civil service, from the city courts and the departments of
government. A royal decree on the 2nd March set limits to this zeal,
and it was necessary, for the order and administration of the State
were threatened. The civil service could not be neglected; any one who
wished to be a soldier was to obtain the permission of his superiors,
and he who could not bear the refusal of his request must appeal to the
King. The stronger minded in all circles were at the head of the
movement, but the weaker followed at last the overpowering impulse.
There were few families who did not offer their sons to the fatherland;
many great names stand on the regimental lists; above all, the nobles
of east Prussia. The same Alexander Count von Dohna-Schlobitten who had
been minister of the interior in 1802, was the first man who inscribed
himself in the Landwehr battalion of the Mohrungen district. Wilhelm
Ludwig Count von der Gröben, chamberlain of Prince William, entered
into Prince William's dragoons as a subaltern officer, three of his
family fell on the field of battle in this war. Such examples
influenced the country people. Multitudes of them gave to the State all
that they possessed--their sound limbs.

Whilst the Prussians on the Vistula in this emergency carried on their
preparations independently with rapidly developed order and the
greatest devotion, Breslau, from the middle of February, had been the
rendezvous for the interior districts. Crowds of volunteers entered all
the gates of the old city. Among the first were thirteen miners, with
three apprentices from Waldenburg; these men had been fitted out by
their fellow labourers, poor men, who had worked gratuitously
underground until they had collected 221 thalers for this purpose.
Immediately afterwards the Upper Silesian miners followed with similar
zeal. The King could scarcely believe in such self-sacrificing devotion
in the people; when he looked from the windows of the government
buildings on the first long train of vehicles and men, who came past
him from the march and filled the Albrech-strasse, heard their
acclamations, and perceived the general satisfaction, tears rolled over
his cheeks, and Scharnhorst asked him whether he at last believed in
the zeal of his people.

Every day the throng increased. Fathers presented their sons armed;
among the first the Geheime Kriegsrath Eichmann equipped two sons, and
the former Secretary of Hangwitz, Bürder, three. The provincial Syndic
Elsner at Ratisbon offered himself, and armed three volunteer riflemen;
Geheime Commerzienrath Krause at Swinemund, sent a mounted rifleman,
entirely armed, with forty ducats, and an offer to arm, and pay for a
year, twenty foot riflemen, and to furnish ten pigs of lead. Justizrath
Eckart, at Berlin, gave up his salary of 1450 thalers, and entered the
service as a trooper. One Rothkirch offered himself and two men fully
equipped as troopers, besides five horses, 300 scheffels of corn, and
all the cart-horses on his farm for the baggage-waggons. Amongst the
most zealous was Heinrich von Krosigk, the eldest of an old family of
Poplitz, near Alsleben. His property lay in the kingdom of Westphalia.
In 1807, he had a pillar erected in his park of red sandstone, with
these words engraven on it, "_Fuimus Troes_," and treated the French
and the government of Westphalia with bitter contempt. When officers
were quartered on him, he always gave the worst wine, drinking the best
with his friends as soon as the strangers were gone, and if a Frenchman
complained, he was rude and ready to fight; he had always loaded
pistols on his table. At last he compelled his peasants to arrest the
gendarmes of his own King. Now he had just broken out of the fortress
of Magdeburg, where the French had placed him, and had abandoned his
property to the enemy. The heroic man fell at Möckern.

Thus it went on, and all the cities and districts soon followed the
example. Scheivelbein, the smallest and poorest district in Prussia,
was the first to notify that it would furnish, equip, and pay, thirty
horsemen for three months. Stolpe was one of the first cities that
announced that it would pay 1000 thalers down, and a hundred for each
month for the equipment of volunteer riflemen. Stargard had collected
for the same object, on the 20th of March, 6169 thalers, 585 ounces of
silver; one landed proprietor, K., had given 308 ounces. Ever greater
and more numerous became the offers, till the organisation of the
Landwehr gave the districts full opportunity to give effect to their
devotion in their own circles.

Individuals did not lag behind. He who did not go to the field himself,
or equip half his family, endeavoured to help his Fatherland by gifts.
It is a pleasant labour to examine the long lists of benefactions.
Officials resigned a portion of their salaries, people of moderate
wealth gave up a portion of their means, the rich sent their plate,
those who were poorer brought their silver spoons; he who had no money
to give offered his effects or his labour. It became common for wives
to send their gold wedding rings, often the only gold that was in the
house; they received afterwards iron ones with the picture of Queen
Louisa; country-people presented horses, landed proprietors corn, and
children emptied out their saving boxes. There came 100 pair of
stockings, 400 ells of shirt linen, pieces of cloth, many pairs of new
boots, guns, hunting knives, sabres and pistols. A forester could not
make up his mind to give away his dear rifle, as he had promised, among
some boon companions, and preferred going himself to the field. Young
women sent their bridal attire, and, besides, the neck-ribbons they had
received from their lovers. A poor maiden, whose beautiful hair had
been praised, cut it off to be bought by the _friseur_, and patriotic
speculation caused rings to be made of it, for which more than a
hundred thalers were received. Whatever the poor could raise was sent,
and the greatest self-sacrifice was amongst the lowest.[50]

Often has the German since then been animated by patriotic aims; but
the gifts of that great year deserve a higher praise; for, excepting
the great collection of the old Pietists for their philanthropic
institution, it is the first time that such a spirit of self-sacrifice
has burst forth in the German people, and more especially the first
time that the German has had the happiness of giving voluntarily for
his State.

The sums also which were produced were, as a whole, so far beyond what
has since been collected from wider districts that they can scarcely be
compared. The equipment of the volunteer riflemen alone, and what was
collected in the old provinces for the volunteer corps, must have cost
far more than a million, and it comprehends only a small fragment of
the voluntary donations made by the people.[51] And how impoverished
were the lower orders!

Near together on the Schmiedebrücke, at Breslau, were the two
recruiting places for the volunteer rifles and the Lützow irregulars.
Professor Steffens and a portion of the Breslau students were the first
to set on foot the rifles, Ludwig Jahn spoke, gesticulated, and wrote
concerning the Lützowers. Both troops were equipped entirely by the
patriotic gifts of individuals. The contributions for the volunteer
rifles were collected by Heun. Betwixt the Lützowers and riflemen there
was a friendly and manly emulation; the contrast of their dispositions
displayed itself; but whether more German or more Prussian, it was the
same ray of light, only differently refracted. The old contrast of
character in the citizens, which had been perceptible for a century,
showed itself, firm, cautious, and vigorous; and enthusiastic feeling
with loftier aspirations. The first disposition was mostly the
characteristic of the Prussians, the last of the patriotic youths who
hastened thither from foreign parts. Very different was the fate of the
two volunteer bodies. From the 10,000 rifles who were distributed in
every Prussian regiment, arose the vigour of the Prussian army; they
were the moral element in it, the aid, strength, and supply of the body
of officers; and they not only contributed a stormy valour to the
Prussia army, but gave an elevation to the character of the nobles
which was new in the history of the war. The irregulars under Lützow,
on the other hand, experienced the rude fate that overtakes the
inspirations of the highest enthusiasm. The poetic feeling of the
educated class attached itself chiefly to them; they included a great
part of the German students, of vehement and excitable natures; but
owing to this they became such a large and unwieldy mass that they were
scarcely adapted to the work of regular warfare, and their leader, a
brave soldier, had neither the qualities nor the fortune of a daring
partisan. Their warlike deeds did not come up to the high-raised
expectations that accompanied their first taking arms. Later, the best
portion of them were absorbed in other corps of the army. But among
their officers was the poet who was destined, beyond all others, to
hand down in verse to the rising generation the magical excitement of
those days. Of the many touching, youthful characters that figured in
that struggle, he was one of the purest and most genial in his poetry,
life and death: it was Theodore Körner.

But even in the great city where the volunteers were preparing their
equipments there was no noisy din of excited masses. Quickly and
earnestly every one did his duty. Those who had no money were supported
by comrades who had been strangers to them, and met them accidentally.
The only wish of the new comer was to find his equipments. If he had
two coats, as a Lützower he had one quickly arranged and coloured
black; his greatest anxiety was as to whether his cartridge box would
be ready. If he was deficient in everything, and the bureau would not
supply him with what was necessary, he ventured, but this was rare, to
beg through the newspapers. Otherwise, money was of as little
importance to him as to his comrades. He made shift as he best could,
what did it signify now? As to high-sounding phrases and patriotic
speeches he had no time nor ear for them. All hectoring and braggadocio
was despised. Such was the disposition of the young men. It was a great
enthusiasm, a deep devotion without the inclination to a loud
expression of it. The consequential ways and bombast of the zealous
Jahn disgusted many, and this bad habit soon gave him the reputation of
a coward.

In many there was a disposition to enthusiastic piety, but not in the
greater part. All the better sort, however, had strongly the feeling
that they were undertaking a duty which was superior to every other
earthly object: from this arose their cheerfulness and a certain solemn
composure. With this feeling they industriously, honourably, and
conscientiously performed their duty, exercising themselves unweariedly
in the movement and use of their weapons in their rooms. They sung
among their comrades with energetic feeling some of the new war songs,
but these only kindled them because they were earnest and solemn like
themselves. They did not like to be called soldiers, that word was in
ill-repute from the time when the stick had ruled. They were warriors.
That they must obey, do their duty to their utmost, and perform all the
difficult mechanism of the service, they were thoroughly convinced; and
also that they must be a pattern and example for the less educated, who
were by their side. They were determined to be not only strict
themselves, but careful of the honour of their comrades. In this holy
war there was to be none of the insolence and coarseness of the old
soldiers, to disgrace the cause for which they fought. With their
"brethren" they held a court of honour and punished the unworthy. But
they would not remain in the army; when the Fatherland was free, and
the French put down, they would return to their lectures and legal
documents in their studies. For this wax was not like another; now they
stood as common soldiers in rank and file, but if they lived they would
another year be again what they had been.

Beside one of such volunteers was perhaps an old officer from the time
of the rule of the nobles and the stick. He had done his duty in
unlucky wars, had perhaps been a prisoner, plundered of all he had and
dragged through the streets of Berlin, the people following him with
jeering and curses, and shaking their fists at him; then after the
peace a court-martial had been held upon him, he was liberated but
discharged with a miserable pittance. Since that he had starved, and
secretly gnashed his teeth when the foreign conqueror looked down on
him as insolently as he had once done on the civilian. If he had no
wife or child to maintain, he had lived for years with his companions
in sorrow in a poor dwelling, with disorderly housekeeping, and some of
the failings of his old officer class still clung to him; this time of
deprivation had not made him softer or milder, the ruling feeling of
his soul was hate, deep furious hatred against the foreign conqueror.
He had long nourished an uncertain hope, perhaps a vain plan of
revenge, now the time was come for retaliation. Even he had been
altered by this time of servitude. He had discovered how unsatisfactory
his knowledge was, and he had in moments of earnestness done something
towards educating himself; he had learnt and read, he also had been
inspired by the noble pathos of Schiller. Still he looked with mistrust
and disfavour on the new-fashioned warrior who perhaps stood before him
in the ranks. His old grudge against scribblers was still very active,
and want of discipline, together with high pretensions, wounded him.
The same antagonism showed itself in the higher as well as lower grades
in the ranks. It is a remarkable circumstance in this war that he was
so well restrained; the volunteers soon learnt military obedience, and
to value the knowledge of service of those above them; and the officer
lost somewhat of the rough and arbitrary way with which he used to
treat his men. At last he listened complacently when a wounded rifleman
contended with the surgeon whether the _flexor_ of the middle finger
should be cut through, or when one of his men by the bivouac fire
discussed with animation--in remembrance of his legal lectures--whether
the ambiguous relation in which a Cossack had placed himself with
respect to a certain goose was to be considered _culpa lata_ or
_dolus_. On the whole, this intermixture answered excellently.

But far more important than the action of the volunteers, was the
advantage to the government of Prussia, of learning for the first time,
what was its duty to such a people. The grand dimensions which the
struggle assumed, the imposing military power of Prussia, and the
weight which this State, by the importance of its armies, acquired in
the negotiations for peace, were mainly occasioned by the exalted
feeling which took the world by surprise in the spring months of that
year. Through it the government gained courage, and was able to expand
the power of the country to the immense extent it did. East Prussia,
besides its contingent to the standing army, by its own strength, and
almost without asking the government, raised twenty battalions of
Landwehr and a mounted yeomanry regiment, and nothing but this enormous
development of power could have made the establishment of the Landwehr
possible throughout the whole realm.

At the command of its King the nation willingly and obediently and in a
regular way produced this second army; in the old provinces one hundred
and twenty battalions and ninety squadrons of Landwehr were equipped
and maintained, and this was only a portion of its exertions.

How faithfully had it obeyed the commands of its King!

The Landwehr of the spring of 1813 had little of the military aspect
which it obtained by service and later organisation.[52] The men
consisted of such as had not been drawn into the service of the
standing army, and now would be taken by lot and choice up to forty
years of age. As the youths of education, the first military spirits of
the nation, had most of them either entered the volunteer rifles, or
filled up the gaps of the standing army, the elements of the Landwehr
would probably have been of less military capacity if a certain number
of proprietors had not voluntarily entered the ranks. The solid masses
of the war consisted of common soldiers, mostly country people; the
leaders, of country nobles, officials, old officers on half-pay, and
whoever else was selected as trustworthy by his district, also of young
volunteers: a very motley material for field service, many of the
officers as well as soldiers without any experience in war. The
equipments also were in the beginning very imperfect; they were mostly
provided by the circles. The coatee, long trowsers of grey linen, a
cloth cap with a white tin cross; the weapons in the first ranks were
pikes, in the second and third muskets; for the horsemen, pistols,
sabres, and pikes. The men were put into ranks, exercised, and equipped
in what was necessary in the principal town of the circle. In the great
haste it sometimes happened that battalions were ordered to the army
which as yet had no weapons and no shoes; the people went barefooted
and with poles to the Elbe, resembling in appearance a band of robbers
more than regular soldiery, but with cheerful alacrity, singing and
giving vent to hurrahs which they had learned from the Cossacks. For
some weeks the troops of the line, especially the old officers, looked
contemptuously on this newly-established force, none with more wrath
than the strict York. When the worthy Colonel Putlitz, at Berlin,
begged for a Landwehr command,--he who had already fought valiantly in
the French campaign, and in the year 1807 had collected a corps of
sharpshooters in the Silesian mountains,--the staff officers asked him
ironically, whether he thought of fighting with such hordes. After the
war the valiant general declaimed, that the time during which he had
commanded the Landwehr was the happiest of his life. In no part of the
new organisation of the army did the power of the great year, and the
capacity of the people, shine so brilliantly as in this. These peasant
lads and awkward ploughboys became in a few weeks trustworthy and
valiant soldiers. It is true that they had a disproportionate loss of
men, and in their first encounter with the enemy did not always keep a
firm front, and showed the rapid alternations of cowardice and courage
which are peculiar to young troops; but called together from the plough
and the workshop, badly clothed, badly armed, and little drilled as
they were, they had in the very beginning to go through all the severe
fieldwork of veteran troops. That they were in general capable of doing
it, that some battalions already fought so bravely that even their
opponent (York) saluted them by taking off his hat, is as well known as
it is rare in military history. Soon they could not be distinguished
from troops of the line; it was between them an emulation of valour.

Justly do the sons of that time boast of the men of the Landwehr who
readily answered to the call; but not less was the zeal with which the
people at home laboured after the command was given for the war. People
of every calling, every citizen, the smallest places, the moat distant
districts, bore their part in the work, often undergoing the greatest
labours and sufferings, especially those on the frontiers. A simple
arrangement sufficed for the business in the circles; a military
commission was formed of two landed proprietors, one citizen and one
yeoman, the landrath of the circle, and the burgomaster of the capital
of the circle, were almost always the almost zealous members of it. It
was undoubtedly an occupation for simple men which was adapted to
awaken extraordinary powers. They had to deal with the remains of the
French army, with their hunger and typhus, with the thronging Russians
who for many months were in a doubtful position, with two languages,
that of their new friends being more strange to them than that of their
retreating enemies; and, added to this, the coarseness and wildness of
their new allies, whose subaltern officers were for the most part no
better than their soldiers, lusting after brandy, and at least as
rapacious and more brutal than irregular troops. Soon did the
commissioners learn how to deal with the wild people; tobacco chests
stood open, together with clay pipes, in the office room: it was an
endless coming and going of Russian officers, they filled their pipes
and smoked, demanded brandy, and received harmless beer. If ever the
coarseness of the strangers broke out, the Prussian officials at last
learnt to punish the ill-behaved with their own weapons, the kantschu,
which perhaps a Russian officer had left him, that he might more easily
manage his people. The last typhus sufferers of the French still filled
the hospitals of the city, the Baschkirs bivouacked with their felt
caps in the market-place; the inhabitants quarrelled with the
foreigners quartered on them; every day the Russians required the
necessaries of life and transport, couriers; Russian and Prussian
officers demanded relays of horses, the cultivators and peasants of the
neighbouring villages complained that they had been deprived of theirs,
that no ploughboys were to be found, and that the cultivation of the
land was impossible. In the midst of all this hurly-burly came the
orders of their own government, strong and dictatorial, as was required
by the times, and not always practical, which was natural in such
haste; the cloth-makers were to furnish cloth, the shoe-makers shoes,
the harness-makers and saddlers cartouche-boxes and saddles; so many
hundred pair of boots and shoes, so many hundred pieces of cloth, and
so many saddles, all in one short week, without money or secure bills
of exchange. The artisans were for the greater part poor people without
credit; how was the raw material to be obtained, how was the workman to
be paid, how were the means of life to be obtained in these weeks in
which the usual chance profit was lost? This did not go on for one
week, but for a whole year. Truly the spirit of sacrifice which showed
itself in gifts, and in the offer of their own lives, was among the
highest and noblest things of this great time; but not less honourable
was the self-sacrificing, unpretending, and unobserved fulfilment of
duty of many thousands of the lower classes, who, each in his sphere in
the city or in the village, worked for the same idea of his State to
the uttermost of his own powers.

The question is still unsolved of the military importance, in a
civilised country, of a _levée en masse_. The law for the establishment
of this popular force was carried to the very last possibility of
demand. In the first edict, the 21st of April, there was an almost
fanatical strictness, which, in the subsequent laws of the 24th of
July, was much mitigated. The edict exercised a great moral effect; it
was a sharp admonition to the dilatory, that it was a question for all,
of life or death. It had an imposing effect even upon the enemy by its
Draconic paragraphs. But it was, immediately after its appearance,
severely blamed by impartial judges, because it demanded what was
impossible, and it had no great practical effect. The Prussians had
always been a warlike people, but in 1813 they had not the military
capacity which they have now. Besides the standing army, there were,
before the introduction of the universal obligation of service, only
the peaceful citizens without any practice in arms or movement of
masses, or at the utmost, the old shooting guilds which handled the
ancient shooting weapons. But now the nation had sent into the field
all who were capable of fighting; the strength of the country was
strained to the uttermost; every family had given up what they
possessed of military spirit. The older men, who remained behind, who
were also indispensable for the daily work of the field and workshop,
were not especially capacitated to do valiant service in arms. Thus it
was no wonder that this fearful law brought to light the ludicrous side
of the picture; endless goodwill together with boorishness and
narrowmindedness. It was read with great edification, that the whole
people were to take up arms to withstand the invading enemy; that the
women and children also were to be employed in certain occupations, was
quite to the reader's mind, especially those who were not grown up; but
doubts were excited by the sentence in which it was stated, that
cowardice was to be punished by the loss of weapons, the doubling of
taxes, and corporeal chastisement, as he who showed the feeling of a
slave was to be treated as a slave. Then the poor little artisan, who
could scarcely keep his children from hunger, had never touched a
weapon, and had all his life anxiously avoided every kind of fighting,
was placed in the position to put the difficult question wistfully to
himself--what is cowardice? And when the law further forbade anyone in
a city which was occupied by the enemy to visit any play, ball, or
place of amusement, not to ring the bells, to solemnise no marriages,
and to live as if in deepest mourning, it appeared to the unprejudiced
minds of Germans as tyrannical--more Spanish and Polish than German.

Yet the people, in the enthusiasm of this spring-time, overlooked these
hardships, and prepared themselves for the struggle. Even before the
decree, patriotic feeling had, in East Prussia, established here and
there similar rules. Now this zeal had spread through the cities more
than in the open countries. The organisation began almost everywhere,
and was carried through in many places. Beacons were erected, alarm
poles rose high from Berlin to the Elbe, and towards Silesia resinous
pines, on which empty tar-barrels were nailed, surrounded with tarred
straw; near them a watch was posted, and they more than once did good
service. All kinds of weapons were searched out, fowling-pieces and
pistols, which had been cleverly foreseen in the ordinance when it
directed that, "For ammunition, in case of a deficiency in balls, every
kind of common shot may be used, and the possessors of fire-arms must
have a constant provision of powder and lead." He who had no musket,
furnished himself for the levy as the Landwehr did at first, with
pikes; they were exercised in companies--the butchers, brewers, and
farmers formed squadrons. The first rank of infantry were pikemen; the
second and third, if possible, musketeers. In this also, the
intellectual leaders of the people showed a good example; they knew
well that it was necessary, but it was no easy matter for them,
especially if they were no longer young. At Berlin, Savigny and
Eichhorn were of the Landwehr committee; in the levy none was more
zealous than Fichte; his pike, and that of his son, leant against the
wall in the front hall, and it was a pleasure to see the zealous man
brandishing his sword on the drill-ground, and placing himself in a
posture of attack. They wished to make him an officer, but he declined
with these words: "Here I am, only fit to be a common man." He,
Buttmann, Rühs, and Schleiermacher drilled in the same company; but
Buttmann, the great Greek scholar, could not quite distinguish between
right and left; he declared that was most difficult. Rühs was in the
same condition, and it constantly happened that the two learned men, in
their evolutions, either turned their backs, or looked each other in
the face puzzled. Once, when it was a question of an encounter with the
enemy, and how a valiant man ought to conduct himself in that case,
Buttmann listened, leaning sadly on his spear, and said at last: "It is
very well for you to talk, you are of a courageous nature."[53]

If this _Landsturm_ was to be mobilised for the maintenance of the
security of the circle, or for service in the rear of the enemy, or in
the neighbourhood of fortresses still held by them, the alarm bell was
rung, and the town became in a state of stormy excitement. Anxiously
did the women pack up food and drink, bandages and lint, in the
knapsack, for according to the regulations no one was to forget the
knapsack, bread-bag, and field-flask; it was his duty to carry with him
provisions for three days; not unfrequently did the female inhabitants
feel like the wife of a cutler in Burg, who stated to the commanding
officer that her husband must remain behind, for he was the only cutler
in the place, or like the wife of a watchmaker, who had compelled her
husband to conceal himself. He was, however, traced by other women
whose husbands had gone, was taken by them to the churchyard, placed on
a grave, and punished in a maternal way with the palm of the hand.

Any one who was a child at that time, will remember the enthusiasm with
which the boys also armed. The elder ones assembled together in
companies, and armed themselves with pikes; the smaller ones, too, had
good cudgels. A poor boy who was working in a manufactory was asked why
he carried no weapon, "I have all my pockets full of stones," was his
answer; he carried them about with him against the French.[54] And no
regulation of the _Landsturm_ ordinance was so zealously obeyed by the
rising generation, as the provision that every _Landsturmer_ should, if
possible, carry a shrill-sounding pipe with him, in order to recognise
others in the dark, and come to an understanding. By the greatest
industry the boys learnt to produce shrill tones from every kind of
signal pipe, and there is reason to believe that the present use of the
pipe in street rows was first adopted by our youths from hatred to the
French. Seldom were the _Landsturm_ employed in military service in
1813; they were more often employed in clearing the districts of
marauding rabble, and as watchers, or in the messenger service; their
only serious military service against the enemy was performed at that
Büren, which under Frederic II. had driven back its flying sons to the
King's army. There, after the peace, all the men wore the military
medal. Up to the present day the people retain the memory of this
feature of the great war; it has been more enduring than many others of
more importance. Still do old people boast that though not in the
field, yet at home they had borne arms for the Fatherland; it also is
fitting that their sons should remember it. The time may come when in
another form, and with stricter discipline, the general armament of the
people will be an important part of German military power.

But whilst here the dangerous game was not carried on in its terrible
reality, yet all eyes and ears were incessantly directed to the
distance. The war had begun in earnest. Those who were left behind were
in continual anxiety concerning the fate of those they loved, and of
Fatherland. No day passed without some report, no post came without the
announcement of some important event; life seemed to fly amidst the
longing and the expectation with which they looked forth beyond their
city walls. Every little success filled them with transport; it was
announced at the door of the town hall, in the church, and in the
theatre, wherever men were collected together. On the 5th April was the
conflict, at Zehdenick, the first undoubted victory of the Prussians;
far and wide through the provinces did people hasten to the church
towers to endeavour to descry the first intelligence; and when the
thunder of cannon had ceased, and the joyful news ran through the
country, there was no bounds to the general exultation; everything that
was praiseworthy was proudly extolled, above all the valiant artillery
that with guns and powder waggons had chased the enemy through the
burning market-place of Leitzkau, amidst the flames that were gathering
around them; also the black Hussars, with their death's-heads, valiant
Lithuanians, who had ridden over the smart red Hussars from Paris at
the first onset. And when the proprietor of the market-place afterwards
made a collection through the newspapers for his poor people who had
been burnt out, and excused himself for begging at such a time for aid
to private misfortune, the country people were not forgotten who had
first suffered from the war.

Louder became the din of war, more furious did the conflict of masses
rage; the exultation of victory and fearful anxiety alternated in the
hearts of those remaining at home. After the battle of Grossgörschen,
it was proclaimed that assistance was needed for the wounded. Then
there began everywhere among the people collections of linen and lint;
unweariedly did not only children but grown-up people draw out the
threads of old linen, the women cut bandages, and the teachers in
schools cut the rags which the little girls and boys at their request
brought with them from their homes, into shape, and whilst they taught
the children, these with burning tears collected the pieces into great
heaps. Making lint was the evening work of families; it might be of
some use to the soldiers.

In the neighbourhood of the allied armies and in the chief cities,
hospitals were erected, and everywhere the women assisted--court
ladies, and authoresses like Rachel Levin. In one great hospital at
Berlin there was Frau Fichte and Frau Reimer, the superintendents of
the female nurses. The hospital, owing to the retreating French, had
become a pest-house, bad nervous fevers were prevalent, and the strange
fancies of the invalids made it a terrible abode. The wife of Fichte
shuddered at these horrors, but he endeavoured to sustain her in his
noble way. When she was overtaken with nervous fever, he nursed the
invalid, caught the infection, and died. Reil also, the great physician
and scholar, died there in the midst of his philanthropic efforts. Frau
Reimer was preserved; her house had been, before the war, the resort of
the Prussian patriots, now her husband had become one of the Landwehr
under Putlitz; her anxieties about him and his business and her little
children, neither damped her spirit nor engrossed her time; from
morning to evening, spring and summer, she was actively occupied; never
weary, she divided her time betwixt her family and her care of the
sick, and her life appeared to herself indestructible.[55] To her
husband, friends and contemporaries, this zeal seemed natural, and a
matter of course. In a similar way did German women do their duty
everywhere with the greatest self-denial and devotedness, and with
quiet enduring energy.

The fearful battle of Bautzen took place; the armistice followed. The
Prussians were full of uneasiness. Streams of blood had flowed, their
army was driven back, the Emperor appeared invincible by earthly
weapons. For some weeks the most intelligent looked gloomily at the
future, but the people still maintained a right feeling of self-respect
and elevated resolution. Trust in their own energy, and the goodness of
their cause, and above all trust in God, were the source of this frame
of mind. Every one saw that the strength of Prussia in this campaign
was incomparably greater than in the last unfortunate war. Only a
little more strength seemed to be necessary to overthrow the tyrant; if
they could only make a little more exertion, he might be hurled back.
The voluntary contributions continued, late in the autumn receipts were
given for them. The equipment of the Landwehr was ended, the artisan
had everywhere worked for his King and Fatherland.

The war again raged, blow and counterblow, flux and reflux; the armies
pressed on; now one saw from Thurm the hosts of the enemy, now the
approach of friends. The cities and provinces of the west learnt from
Berlin and Breslau the fate of the war. Ah, its terrible features are
not strange to Germans; up to the time of our fathers, the hearts of
almost every generation of citizens have been shaken by them.

There are hollow, short reverberations in the air; it is the thunder of
distant cannon. Listening crowds stand in the market-place, and at the
gates; little is said, only half words in a subdued tone, as if the
speaker feared to speak too loud. From the parapet of the towers, and
the gables of the houses which look towards the field of battle, the
eyes of the citizens strain anxiously to see into the distance. On the
verge of the horizon there is a white cloud in the sunlight,
occasionally a bright flash is perceptible and a dark shadow. But on
the by-ways which lead from the nearest villages to the high road, dark
crowds are moving. They are country people flying into the wood or to
the mountains. Each carries on his shoulders what he has been able to
scrape together, but few have been able to carry off their property,
for carts and horses have for some weeks past been taken from them by
the soldiers; lads and men drive their herds nervously, the women
loudly wailing, carry their little ones. Again there is a rolling in
the air, sharper and more distinct. A horseman races through the city
gate at wild speed, then another. Our troops are retreating, the crowds
of citizens separate, the people run in terrified anguish into their
houses, and then again into the street; even in the city they prepare
for flight. Loud are the cries and lamentations. He who still possessed
a team of horses, dragged them to the pole, the clothmaker threw his
bales, and the merchant his most valuable chests on the waggons, and
over these their children and those of their neighbours. Waggons and
crowds of flying men thronged to the distant gate. If there is a swampy
marsh almost impassable, or a thick wood in the neighbourhood, they fly
thither. Inaccessible hiding-places, still remembered from the time of
the Swedes, are again sought out. Great troops collect there, closely
packed; the citizens and countrymen conceal themselves with their
cattle and horses for many days; sometimes still longer. After the
battle of Bautzen the parishioners of Tillendorf near Bunzlau abode
more than a week in the nearest wood, their faithful pastor Senftleben
accompanied them, and kept order in that wild spot, he even baptised a
child.[56]

But he who remains in the town with his property, or in the performance
of his duty, is eager to conceal his family and goods. Long has the
case been taken into consideration, and hiding-places ingeniously
devised. If the city has more especially roused the fury of the enemy,
it is threatened with fire, plunder, and the expulsion of the citizens.
In such a case the people carry their money firmly sewed in their
clothes.

One anxious hour passes in feverish hope. The first announcers of the
retreat clatter through the streets, damaged guns escorted by Cossacks.
Slowly they return, the number of their men incomplete, and blackened
by powder, more than one tottering wounded. The infantry follow, and
waggons overcrowded with wounded and dying men. The rear-guard take up
their post at the gate and the corners of the streets, awaiting the
enemy. Young lads run from the houses and carry to the soldiers what
they have called for, a drink or a bit of bread; they hold the
knapsacks for the wounded, or help them quickly to bandages.

There are clouds of dust on the high road. The first cavalry of the
enemy approach the gate, cautiously looking out, the Carabiniers on the
right flank. A shot falls from the rear-guard, the Chasseur also fires
his carbine, turns his horse, and retires. Immediately the enemy's
vanguard press on in quick trot, and the Prussian Tirailleurs withdraw
from one position to another firing. Finally the last has abandoned the
line of houses. Once more they collect outside the gate, in order to
detain the enemy's cavalry, who have again formed into rank.

The streets are empty and shut. Even the boys who have accompanied the
Prussian Tirailleurs have disappeared; the curtains of the windows are
let down, and the doors closed; but behind curtain and door are anxious
faces looking at the approaching enemy. Suddenly a cry bursts forth
from a thousand rough voices--_vive l'Empereur!_ and, like a flood, the
French infantry rush into the town. Immediately they knock against the
doors with the butt ends of their muskets, and if they are not opened
quick enough they are broken in. Now follow desperate disputes between
the defenceless citizen and the irritated enemy--exorbitant demands,
threats, and frequently ill-usage and peril of death--everywhere
clamour, lamentation, and violence. Cupboards and desks are broken
open, and everything, both valuable and valueless, plundered, spoiled,
or destroyed, especially in those houses whose inmates have fled; for
the property of an uninhabited house, according to the custom of war,
falls to the share of the soldier. The city authorities are dragged to
the townhall, and difficult negotiations begin concerning the
quartering of the troops, the delivery of provisions and forage, and
impossible contributions.

If the enemy's General cannot be satisfied with gifts, or if the town
is to be punished, the inhabitants of most consideration are collected,
forcibly detained, threatened, and, perhaps at last, carried off as
hostages. If a larger corps is encamped round the city, one battalion
bivouacs in the market-place. The French are rapidly accommodated. They
have fetched straw from the suburbs, they have robbed provisions on the
road, and cut up the doors and furniture for fire-wood. Disagreeably
sounds the crash of the axe on the beams and woodwork of the houses.
Brightly blaze up the camp fires, and loud laughter, with French songs,
sound about the flames.

When the enemy withdraws in the morning, after having remained one
night through which the citizens have held anxious watch, they gaze
with astonishment on the rapid devastation of their city, and on the
sudden change in the country outside the gates. The boundless ocean of
corn, which yesterday waved round their city walls, is vanished, rooted
up, crushed and trampled by man and horse. The wooden fences of the
gardens are broken, summer arbours and houses are torn away, and
fruit-trees cut down. The fire-wood lies in heaps round the smouldering
watch-fires, and the citizen may find there the planks of his waggon
and the doors of his barn. He can scarcely recognise the place where
his own garden was, for the site of it is covered with camp straw,
confused rubbish, and the blood and entrails of slaughtered beasts. In
the distance, where the houses of the nearest village project above the
foliage of the trees, he perceives no longer the outline of the roofs,
only the walls are standing, like a heap of ruins.

It was bitter to pass through such an hour, and many lost all heart.
Even for people of property it was now difficult to support their
families. All the provisions of the city and neighbourhood were
consumed or destroyed, and no countryman brought even the necessaries
of life to the market, it was needful therefore to send far into the
country for the means to appease hunger. But from a rapid succession of
great events men had become colder, more sturdy and hardier in
themselves. The strong participation which every individual had taken
in the fate of the State made them indifferent to their own hardships.
After every danger, it was felt to be a comfort that the last thing,
life, was saved. And there was hope.

Before long the devastating billow surged back. Again roared the
thunder of guns, and the drums rattled. Our troops are advancing; wild
struggle rages round the city. The Prussian battalions press forward
through the streets into the market-place against the enemy, who still
hold the western suburb. It is the young Landwehr who this day receive
their baptism of blood. The balls whistle through the streets; they
strike the tiles and plaster of the houses; the citizens have again
concealed their wives and children in cellars and out-of-the-way
places. The battalions halt in the market-place. The ammunition waggons
are opened. The first companies press forward to the same gate through
which, a few days before, the enemy had rushed into the city. The
struggle rages fiercely. In the assault the enemy are thrown back; but
fresh masses establish themselves in the houses of the suburb, and
contend for the entrances to the streets. Mutilated and severely
wounded men are carried back and laid down in the market-place, and
more than once the combatants have to be relieved. When the
inexperienced soldiers see their comrades borne back from the fight,
their faces blackened with powder, and covered with sweat and blood,
their courage sinks within them; but the officers, who are also for the
first time in close combat, spring forward, and "Forward, children! the
Fatherland calls!" sounds through the ranks. At one time the enemy
succeeded in storming the upper gate, but scarcely have they forced
their way into the first street leading to the market, when a company
of Landwehr throw themselves upon them with loud hurrahs, and drive
them out of the gate.[57]

The thunder roars; the fiery hail pierces through doors and windows;
the dead lie on the pavement and thresholds of the houses. Then any
citizen who has a manly heart can no longer bear the close air of his
hiding place. He presses close behind his fighting countrymen near to
the struggle. He raises the wounded from the pavement, and carries them
on his back either to his house or the hospital. Again the boys are not
among the last; they fetch water, and call at the houses for some drink
for the wounded whom they support; they climb up the ammunition waggons
and hand down the cartridges, proud of their work they are unconcerned
about the whistling bullets. Even the women rush out of the houses,
with bread in their aprons and full flasks in their hands; they may
thus do something to help the Fatherland.

The fight is over; the enemy driven back. In the warm sunshine a
sorrowful procession moves through the city--the imprisoned enemy
escorted by Cossacks. Hardheartedly do the troopers drive the weary
crowd; they are allowed only a short rest in the open place of the
suburb; the prisoners lie exhausted, weary and half fainting, in the
dust of the high road. It is the second day on which they have had
neither food nor drink; not once have their guards allowed them a drink
from brook or ditch; they have ill-treated the weary men with blows and
thrusts of their lances. These now, with outstretched hands, pour forth
entreaties in their own language to the citizens, who stand round with
curiosity and sympathy. They are, for the most part, young Frenchmen
who are here lamenting, poor boys, with pale and haggard faces. The
citizens hasten to them with food and drink; ample piles of bread are
brought; but the Russians are hungry themselves; they roughly push back
the approaching people, and tear their gifts from them. Then the women
put baskets and flasks into the hands of their children. A courageous
lad springs forward; the little troop of maidens and young boys trip
amongst the prisoners, who are lying on the ground; even the youngest
totter bravely from man to man, and distribute their gifts smilingly,
unconcerned about their bearded guards,[58] for the Cossack does no
injury to children. The German is not unkind to his enemy.

When anyone carries a wounded countryman to his house, how faithfully
and carefully he nurses him. The family treat him as they would their
own son or brother who is far away in the king's army. The best room
and a soft bed is prepared for him, and the mistress of the house
attends him herself with bandages and all necessary care.

The whole people feel like a great family. The difference of classes,
the variety of avocations, no longer divide; joy and sorrow are felt in
common, and goods and gains are willingly shared. The prince's daughter
stands in union with the wife of the artisan, and both zealously
co-operate together; and the land junker who, only a few months before,
considered every citizen as an intruder in his places of resort, now
rides daily from his property to the city in order to smoke his war
pipe with his new friends, the alderman or manufacturer, and to chat
with them over the news; or, what was still more interesting to them,
over the regiment in which their sons were fighting together. Men
became more frank, firmer and better in this time; the morose pedantry
of officials, the pride of the nobleman, and even the suspicious
egotism of the peasant, were blown away from most, like dust from
good metal; selfishness was despised by everyone; old injustice and
long-nourished rancour were forgotten, and the hidden good in man came
to light. According as every one bestirred himself for his Fatherland,
he was afterwards judged. With surprise did people, both in town and
country, see new characters suddenly rise into consideration among
them; many small citizens who had hitherto been little esteemed, became
advisers, and the delight and pride of the whole city. But he who
showed himself weak seldom succeeded in regaining the confidence of his
fellow citizens; the stain clung to him during the life of that
generation. And this free and grand conception of life, this hearty
social tone, and the unconstrained intercourse of different classes
lasted for years after the war. There are some still living who can
speak of it.

When after the armistice, the glorious time of victories came,
Grossbeeren, Hagelsberg, Dennewitz, and the Katzbach; when particular
Prussian Generals rose higher in the eyes of the people, and millions
felt pleasure and pride in their army and its leaders; when at last the
battle of nations was fought, and the great aim attained--the overthrow
and flight of the hated Emperor, and the delivery of the country from
his armies--then was the highest rapture that could be felt in this
world enjoyed with calm intensity. The people hastened to the churches
and listened reverentially to the thanksgivings of the ecclesiastics,
and in the evening they illuminated their streets.

This kind of festivity was nothing new. Wherever, in the last years,
the enemy's troops entered in the evening into a city, they had called
out for lights; wherever there was a French garrison, the citizens had
to illuminate for every victory which was announced by the hated ally
of their King. Now this was done voluntarily; everyone had experience
in it, and the simple preparation was in every house. Four candles in a
window were then thought something considerable; even the poorest
spared a few kreutzers for two, and if he had no candlestick, employed,
according to old custom, the useful potato; the more enterprising
ventured upon a transparency, and a poor mother hung out, together with
the candles, two letters which her son had written from the field.
These festivities were then simple and unpretending; now we do the same
kind of thing far more splendidly.

The great rising began in the eastern provinces of the Prussian State;
how it showed itself among the people there we have endeavoured to
portray. But the same strong current flowed in the country on the other
side of the Elbe, not only in the old Prussian districts, but with
equal vigour on the coasts of the North Sea, in Mecklenburg, Hanover,
Brunswick, Thuringia, and Hesse, almost in every district up to the
Maine. It comprehended the districts which, in the eighteenth century,
had attained a greater military capacity; in the provinces of the old
Empire it was only partial. The new States which arose there under
French influence, discovered later, and in an indirect way, the
necessity of a closer connection with the larger portion of the nation.
For Austria, this war was an act of political prudence.

Still two years followed of high strained exertion and bloody battles;
again did the rising youth of the country, who in the first year had
been wanting in age and strength, throng with enthusiasm into the ranks
of the army. It was another war, and another victory had to be
achieved, it was, however, no longer a struggle for the existence of
Prussia and Germany, but for the ruin and life of the foreign Emperor.

The year 1813 had freed Germany from the dominion of a foreign people.
Again did the Prussian eagle float over the other side of the Rhine, on
the old gates of Cleve. It had made a bloody end to an insupportable
bondage. It had united most of the German races in brotherly ties by a
new circle of moral interests. It had produced for the first time in
German history an immense political result by a powerful development of
popular strength. It had entirely altered the position of the nation to
their Princes; for, above the interests of dynasties, and the quarrels
of rulers, it had given existence to a stronger power which they all
feared, honoured, and must win, in order to maintain themselves. It had
given a greater aim to the life of every individual, a participation in
the whole, political feeling, the highest of earthly interests, a
Fatherland, a State for which he learnt to die and by degrees to live.

The Prussians did the greater part of the work of this year, which will
never be forgotten by the rest of Germany.

It would not be becoming in us, the sons of the generation of 1813, to
disparage the glorious struggle of our fathers, because they have left
us something to do.

Almost all who passed through that great time of struggle and
self-sacrifice consider the memory of it the greatest possession of
their later life, and it encircled the heads of many with a bright
glory. And thousands felt what the warm-hearted Arndt expressed,
"We can now die at any moment, as we have seen in Germany what
is alone worth living for, that men, from a feeling of the eternal,
and imperishable, have been able to offer, with the most joyful
self-devotion, all their temporalities and their lives as if they were
nothing."

But in the churches of the country a simple tablet was put up as a
memorial to later generations, on which was the iron cross of the Great
Time, and the names of those who had fallen.

As in these pages it has been attempted to portray, in the words of men
who have passed away, a picture of the time in which they lived, so
here we will give a record from the year 1813.


"Our son George was struck by a ball, at the age of two-and-twenty, on
the 2nd of April, at the ever-memorable engagement at Lüneburg. As a
volunteer rifleman in the light battalion of the first Pommeranian
regiment, he fought, according to the testimony of his brave leader,
Herr Major von Borcke, by his side, with courage and determination, and
thus, died for his Fatherland, German freedom, national honour, and our
beloved King. To lose him so early is hard; but it is comforting to
feel that we also have been able to give a son for this great and holy
object. We feel deeply the necessity of such a sacrifice.

                         "The Regierungsrath and Ober-Commissarius
                                  Häse and his Wife."[59]

"Berlin, 9th April, 1813."


That portion of the people also who were not in the habit of expressing
their feelings in writing felt the same. When the Lützower Gutike,[60]
in the Summer of 1813, was on his march from Berlin to Perleberg, he
found at Kletzke the landlady in mourning; she was waiting silently
upon him, and at last said suddenly, pointing with her hand to the
ground, "I have one there,--but Peter's wife has two." She felt that
her neighbour had superior claims to sympathy.



                              CHAPTER XII.

                       THE ILLNESS AND RECOVERY.
                              (1815-1848.)


When the volunteers of 1813 went to the field, their hope was, at some
time, to live as citizens, with their friends, in the liberated
Fatherland, enjoying the freedom, peace, and happiness, which they had
won. But it is sometimes easier to die for freedom than to live for it.

A few years after victory had been achieved, and Napoleon was prisoner
in his distant rocky island, Schliermacher said in the pulpit to his
parishioners: "It was an error when we hoped to rest in comfort after
the peace. A time is now come, when guiltless and good men are
persecuted, not only for what they do, but also for the views and
projects which are attributed to them. But the brave Christian should
not be faint-hearted, but in spite of danger and persecution remain
true to truth and virtue." And police spies copied these words, and did
not forget to add to their report that such and such persons had been
in the church, or that four bearded students had knelt down at the
altar after the communion, and had prayed fervently.

The intrepid Arndt was watched and removed. Jahn was put into prison,
and many of the leaders of the patriotic movement of 1813 were
persecuted as dangerous men; police officers disturbed the peace of
their homes, and their papers were seized. A special commission
outrageously violated the forms of law, acting with mean hate,
arbitrarily, tyrannically, and perfidiously, like a Spanish
Inquisition.

It is a sorrowful page in German history. Independent characters
withdrew, deeply disgusted with the narrow-minded rule which now began
in most of the States of Germany; common mediocrity again took the
helm. Prussia's foreign policy was dictated from Vienna and St.
Petersburgh, and before long its political influence on the history of
Europe was again less than it had been under the Elector Frederic
William. When the people rose in war against a foreign enemy, they
little thought what the result would be when the independence of
Germany was secured. They themselves brought to the struggle unbounded
devotion, and supposed a similar feeling in all who had to shape the
future, in their princes, and even in the allied powers. To no one
scarcely was it clear how the new Germany was to be arranged. Any
clear-sighted person could perceive, in the first year of the war, that
a remodelling of Germany, which would make a great development of the
power of the nation possible, was not to be hoped for. For it was not
the people, nor the patriotic army of Blücher that were to decide, but
the dynasties and cabinets of Europe, according to the position of
affairs,--Austria, the new States of the Rhineland, the English,
Hanover, France, Sweden, and above all Russia, each endeavouring to
guard their own interests. The antagonism between Prussia and Austria
had already broken out in the negotiations; the Prussians had by an
immense effort obtained an honourable position in Europe, but neither
in the opinion of nations nor of cabinets were they considered entitled
to the leadership. There was hardly a person not Prussian who ever
thought of excluding Austria from a new confederation; even Prussia
itself did not think of it.

We know, therefore, that the "German question" was even then hopeless,
and we do not regret that the old Empire under its Emperor was not
restored.

But easily as we can now understand how invincible were the
difficulties, to contemporaries the feeling of disappointment was
bitter, and an unprejudiced estimate of their position difficult. Among
the patriots of 1813, a small minority were then full of enthusiastic
sentimentality; they contrasted their poetical ideas of the old
splendour of the German Empire with the bad reality; these
_Deutschthumler_--Teuto-maniacs--as they were called after 1815, had
been without influence in the great movement Jahn's great beard was
seldom admired, and the worthy Karl Müller found no favour when he
began to banish all foreign words from military language. Now after the
peace these enthusiasts, for the most part not Prussians, collected
together in small communities at the German universities. They sorrowed
and hoped, expressed violent indignation, and gave zealous advice; they
were agreed together that something great must happen, and they were
ready to stake life and property upon it; only, what was to be done was
not clear. Between varying moods and wavering projects they came to no
conclusion. Politically considered this movement was not dangerous,
till the odious persecution of the governments goaded them into hatred
and opposition, and throwing a gloom over the minds of some, led to
fanatical resolves.

It was not the fault of the Prussian government that the hopes of the
nation for a new German State were disappointed. But it had incurred
another debt. The King had promised to give his people a constitution.
If ever a nation had acquired a right to a participation in the
government, it was the Prussian; for it had raised the State from the
deepest depression. If the greatest State in Germany had, by legal
forms, obtained the possibility of a political development of its
power, every sensible Prussian would have been contented. The press and
a parliament would gradually have given the loyal nation a feeling of
prosperity and safe progress, opposing parties would have contended
publicly, and those who demanded more for Germany than could at present
be attained, would have been restrained by Prussia. The character of
the Germans was now freed from the weakness which had pervaded it
through a whole generation. The State also could no longer do without
the participation of the people, if it was not to fall back into the
old state of feebleness, which only a few years before had brought it
to the verge of ruin. Now, when life was impressed with new ideas, when
in hundreds of thousands a passionate interest in the State had sprung
up, the safest support for the throne itself was a constitution. For
the Prussians were no longer a nation without opinions or will, whose
destiny an individual could dispose of by his will.

But the King, however honest he might be, who wished to continue to
govern in the old way through pliant officials, was in danger from this
new condition of the world of becoming the tool of a noxious faction,
or the victim of foreign influence. He required a strong counterpoise
against the preponderating power of Russia, and diplomatic
entanglements with Austria. This he could only find in the strength of
an attached people, who in union with him would deliberate on the
policy and support of his State.

King Frederic William III. never felt the incongruous position in which
he had placed himself, in respect to the necessities of the time, for
his image was closely bound up with the grandest reminiscences of the
people; and the private virtues of his life made him, during a long
reign, an object of reverence to the rising generation. But his
successor was to suffer fearfully from the circumstance that he
himself, his officials, and his people had grown up under a crippled
system of State.

But that the Prussians of 1813 should so quietly have borne their
disappointed hopes, that--whilst already in the States of the Rhenish
Confederation parties were in vehement struggle--the "great State" lay
so lifeless, is to be attributed to other reasons besides loyalty to
the Hohenzollerns. The nation was exhausted to the uttermost by the war
and what had preceded it, and wearied to death. Scarcely had it
strength to cultivate its land. Years passed over before the live stock
could be fully replaced. Cities and village communities, landed
proprietors and peasants were all deeply in debt. The price of landed
properties sank lower than they had been before 1806. It often happened
that noble estates remained without masters for many years, when the
last proprietor had wasted the live stock, and that auctions were often
unattended by solvent bidders. Commerce and industry had been destroyed
by the Continental blockade, for the old outlets for linen, cloth, and
iron, the great branches of Prussian trade, were lost--foreigners had
appropriated them. And capital also was wanting. Intercourse, also,
with the Sclavonian eastern districts, a vital question to the old
provinces, was gradually almost annihilated by the new Russian
commercial system. But a still greater hindrance arose from the waste
of men through the war. The whole youth of the country had been under
arms, a large portion had fallen on the battle-fields, and the
survivors had been torn away from their citizen life. Many remained in
the army: full a third part of the Prussian officers who commanded the
army in the following thirty years consisted of volunteer rifles of
1813. He who returned to his former vocation found himself reduced in
circumstances, and his relatives helpless and impoverished. He was at
last glad to become an unpretending official, and thus to obtain a
livelihood for himself and his family in the exhausted country. The
bloody work of three campaigns, and the habits of soldierly obedience
had not diminished his vigour, but the genial warmth, which enables
youth to look victoriously upon life, had passed away. He began now a
struggle for a respectable home, probably with patience and devotion to
duty, but in the narrow sphere into which he now entered, he could not
but look back to the mighty past which he had gone through. Thus had
the manly energy of the generation been spent. The youths also that
grew up in their families had no longer the advantage of being
influenced by great impressions, enthusiasm, and devotion.

These misfortunes fell heaviest on the old provinces. The new
acquisition demanded for many years great official power and much
government care before it could be moulded into the Prussian
commonwealth.

It is manifest that a free press and a constitution were the best means
of healing these weaknesses more rapidly, and of bringing a feeling of
convalescence and coherence among the people; for warmth and enthusiasm
are as necessary to the life of a nation as the light of heaven is to
plants and dew to the clouds. The further its development advances, the
greater becomes its need of exalted ideas, and of having intellectual
interests in common. When the Reformation first roused the people to an
intellectual struggle, it was as if a miracle had been worked upon
them; their character became stronger, their morality purer, all the
processes of the mind, all human energy had become stronger; and when
the awakened need of a common aim was not satisfied in the State life
of the German Empire, the people became inert and worse. Again, after a
long and sorrowful time, a great Prince had given to at least a part of
the Germans new enthusiasm and an ideal aim. The warm interest in the
fate of their State, which ennobled Frederic's time, and the liberation
of the mind from the tutelage of the State and the Church, had been a
second great progress; and again had this progress required an
answering extension of general interests and a strengthening of
political action. But in the spiritless and powerless rule of the next
generation the popular energies again decayed. The fall of Prussia was
the consequence. Now, for the third time, a great portion of the
Germans had made a new progress, the nation had given its property and
its blood for its State, and it had become a passionate necessity to
care for the Fatherland, and to take a share in its fate; and as this
longing again met with no satisfaction, the people sank back for a time
into weakness. The distractions of the year 1848 were the result.

In almost every domain of ideal life the malady became apparent, even
in philosophy.

Extensive was the domain embraced by German philosophy; new branches of
knowledge had sprung up with surprising rapidity; there was scarce a
bygone people in the most distant regions of the earth whose history,
life, arts, and language were not investigated; above all, the past of
Germany. With hearty warmth was every expression of our popular mind,
of which there remained a trace, laid hold of. A wonderful richness of
life of the olden time was discovered and understood in all its
specialities. Round the German inquirer arose from the earth the
spirits of nations which had once lived; he learnt to comprehend what
was peculiar to each, what was common to all--the action of the human
mind on the highest phenomena of the globe. Equally did the knowledge
of objective nature increase. The history of the creation of the earth,
the organism of everything created, the countless objects invisible to
the naked eye, and the countless things which arise from the
combination of simple substances, became known; and again, beyond the
boundaries of this earth, the life of the solar system, the cosmical
unit, of which the solar world is an infinitesimal speck.

But the endless abundance of new knowledge which was infused by science
into the life of the highly educated was dangerous to the character in
one respect. The German learnt to understand the almost endless
varieties of character of foreign nations; the most dissimilar kinds of
culture became clear to him. Impartially, and with lively interest, did
he enter into the policy of Tiberius, and the enthusiasm of Loyola, the
gradual development of slavery in North America, and the pedantries and
dreams of Robespierre. He was, therefore, in danger, in his considerate
judgment, of forgetting the moral basis of his own life. He who would
identify himself with so many foreign minds, needs not only the
capacity to grasp the minds of others, but still more the power to keep
himself free from the influence exercised over him by foreign
conditions of life. He who would without prejudice estimate the
relative value of a foreign point of view, must first know how to
maintain firmly the moral foundation of his own life. This can only be
effected by making his own will subservient to the duty of co-operating
with his contemporaries, by joining in free associations, by a free
press, and by continuous participation in the greatest political
conceptions of his time. It was because the Prussians, whose capital at
this time was the centre of German philosophy, were deprived of this
regulator, that the cultivated minds of this period acquired a peculiar
weakness of character, which will appear strange to the next
generation.

This weakness of will was indeed no new failing of the educated German.
It was the two hundred years' malady of a people which had no
participation in the State, and, from its natural disposition, was not
carried away by the impulse of passion, but composedly deliberates on
action, and is seldom prevented by vehement excitement from forming a
moderate judgment. But in the first part of our century their old
weakness became particularly striking amidst these rich treasures of
knowledge. Oftener than formerly did the originality of a foreign form
of life produce an overpowerful influence on them. Instead of
withstanding some mighty influence, it might be that of Metternich,
Byron, or Eugene Sue, popery, socialism, or Polish patriotism, being
foreign, they yielded to its prestige, their own judgment being
vacillating and uncertain. Though it was easy for the best amongst them
to talk cleverly upon the most dissimilar subjects, it was difficult
for them to act consistently.

This malady seized almost all the intellectual portion of the people.
The salons became _blasé_, authors sensational, statesmen without fixed
purpose, and officials without energy: these were all different forms
of the same disease. It was everywhere destructive, nowhere more than
in Prussia; it gave to this State a specially helpless, nay, even hoary
aspect, that was in striking contrast to the respectable capacity which
was not lost in the smaller circles of the people.

But healing came, by degrees, and again in a circuitous way, sometimes
bounding forwards, and then retrograding; but, on the whole, since
1830, in continual progress.

For, at the same time in which the July revolution again excited,
throughout a wide circle of life, an interest in the State, a new
development of German popular strength began in other spheres,
especially through the industrious labours of countless individuals, in
the workshop and the counter. The Zollverein--the greatest creation of
Frederic William III.--threw down a portion of the barriers which had
divided separate German States; the railroads and the steam-boats
became the metallic conductors of technical culture from one end of the
country to the other. With the development of German manufacturing
activity came new social dangers, and new remedies had to be supplied
by the spontaneous activity of the people. Bit by bit was the narrow
system of government and of characterless officials destroyed; the
nation acquired a feeling of active growth; everywhere there was a
youthful interest in life; everywhere energetic activity in
individuals. A free intelligence developed itself in independent men,
as well as in the official order, together with other forms of culture
and other needs of the people. The labour of the inferior classes
became more valuable; to raise their views and increase their welfare
was no longer a problem for quiet philanthropists, but a necessity for
all, a condition of prosperity even for those highest in position.
Whilst it was complained that the chasm between employers and the
employed became greater, and the domination of capital more oppressive,
great efforts were in fact being made by the zeal of literary men, the
philanthropy of the cultivated, and by the monied classes for their own
advantage, to increase the knowledge of the people and improve their
morals. A comprehensive popular literature began to work, commercial
and agricultural schools were established, and men of different spheres
of interests organised themselves into associations. By example and by
teaching it was endeavoured to raise the independence of the weaker,
and the great principle of association was proclaimed. In the place of
the former isolation, men of similar views worked together in every
domain of earthly activity. It was a grand labour to which the nation
now devoted itself, and it was followed by the greatest and most rapid
change which the Germans have ever effected.

Both the sound egotism of this work and the practical benevolence of
those who interested themselves in the welfare of the labouring
classes, assisted, after the year 1830, in curing the educated of their
irresolution and feebleness of character. The south of Germany now
exercised a wholesome influence on the north. Long had the countries of
the old Empire lived quietly to themselves, receiving more than giving;
they had sent to the north some great poets and men of learning, but
considered them as their special property; they had endeavoured to
protect their native peculiarities against north German influence, and
they were unwillingly, by Napoleon and the Vienna and Paris treaties,
apportioned among the greater princely houses of their country; and now
they supplied what was wanting to the north. The constitutional
struggles of their little States formed a school for a number of
political leaders, warm patriots, and energetic, warm-hearted men,
sometimes with narrow-minded views, but zealous, unwearied, fresh, and
hopeful. The Suabian poets were the first artist minds of Germany which
were strengthened by participation in the politics of their homes, and
the philosophy of southern Germany maintained a patriotic tendency in
contradistinction to the cosmopolitanism of the north. The people were
saved from becoming _blasé_, and from subtle formalism and sophistry,
by warmth of heart, vigorous resolution, a solid understanding, which
was little accessible to over-great refinements, and a pleasant
good-humour. In the time from 1830 to 1848 the southern Germans were in
the foreground of German life.

This hearty participation in the life of the people found expression in
the art of the southern Germans. The morbid spirit which prevailed in
the society of the educated, drove the fine arts into the lower circles
of the people. The popular painters endeavoured to represent the
figures and occupations of lower life with humour and spirit; the poets
endeavoured to embellish, with a genial interest, the character and
condition of the countryman: their village tales, and the interest
which they excited in the reading world are always considered as a
symptom of how great was the longing in the educated for quiet comfort
and a well-regulated activity.

A village tale shall be here given, descriptive of the condition of the
people at this period; for the life of the southern German, which is
related, is in many respects characteristic of the fate and inward
changes in the best spirits of the time which has just passed. The
movement which, after the revolution of 1830, vibrated all over Europe,
had excited in him also a lively interest in the national development
of the Fatherland. The debates of the Chambers of his small country
were his first auxiliaries. The struggles which took place there did
not remain without fruit; they relieved agriculture and the peasant
from the burdens which had hitherto oppressed them; they introduced
municipal institutions and public and verbal proceedings, even a law
against the censorship of the press. But the German Diet interposed,
the law of the press was put an end to, and the complaints of the
landed proprietors against the exemption laws found favour with it; and
the Frankfort outrage of the 3rd of April, 1833, produced a re-action.
Then the author left his official position in a fiscal chamber and
devoted his energies to the press. When he was deprived of even this
share in the political destiny of his country, by the malicious
chicanery of a lawless police, he settled for a few years in
Switzerland. All his life it had been a pleasure for him to teach. As a
student, as candidate for the service of the State, he had given
instruction to young men; he was therefore not unprepared for the
office of teacher; which he entered upon in that foreign country. He
relates as follows:--

"On Easter Monday, 1838, in the church at Grenchen, in the canton of
Solothurn, the Roman Catholic community appointed a Protestant and a
German as teacher in the newly-erected district school. The community
had chosen him, and the government had confirmed the choice; I was the
teacher.

"It was a raw spring morning. The monotonous grey of the clouds covered
the sides and summit of the Jura, large snow-flakes fell in thick
drifts, and enveloped the procession that was moving towards the
church. The words addressed by Father Zweili, superior of the
Franciscans, and president of the education council, to those
assembled, would have been suitable to any clergyman. He expressed to
me that I need have no hesitation in speaking to the scholars on
religion; 'it is only necessary for you to abstain from touching on the
few points on which we differ.'

"The Franciscans were learned, industrious men, they lived as
instructors of philosophy, and were therefore in open feud with the
Jesuits. The government found in them, powerful supporters and
co-operators in their exertions for the education of the people; in
this respect everything had to be done, for the patrician rulers who
had been overthrown in 1830 had done nothing. In the first place, they
established preparatory schools, and training colleges for masters, and
provided for the supervision and conduct of school life. The
difficulties that had to be overcome were not trifling, but it was all
accomplished in the course of four years. In the beginning of 1837,
each parish had its school, each school its master and dotation, and
each child suitable instruction; the law punished parents for not
insisting on the regular attendance of their children at school. As
soon as the preparatory schools were arranged, district schools were
added; here there was no compulsion; they were established by the
community, and the attendance of scholars who had left the preparatory
schools, and had the necessary preliminary knowledge, was voluntary;
the State assisted the institution by grants, and maintained a
superintendence. Grenchen was one of the first communities which
determined on providing means for a district school; the government
gave an annual contribution of 800 Swiss franks, about 305 thalers. The
merit of this decision of the community is due above all to the
physician, Dr. Girard, my dear friend. He could make only a small
number of his fellow-citizens understand the utility of the
undertaking, for they had not had the advantage of the instruction
afforded to the present generation, but they trusted the man who had so
often showed his unselfish desire to do good. But the desire of this
people, who are by nature so energetic, to be in advance of other
communities prevailed, and when it became a question whether Grenchen
or Selzach should maintain the new school, the thing was decided; the
institution was to be at that place, whatever it might be. I had great
pleasure in teaching, and the situation secured me a residence which I
cared more for than maintenance which might be obtained by other work.

"The village in which I was now to teach was the largest community in
the canton, with more than 2000 inhabitants, and 400 citizens entitled
to vote, and it was situated among the outlying hills of the Jura.
Towards the south, rich meadows and well cultivated fields, slope down
to the Aar, which hastens with rapid course through the valley to the
Rhine. On the other side of the Aar the ground rises gently up to hilly
Emmenthal, and behind it rises the chain of the Alps. The Urner and
Swiss mountains in the east, the Rigi standing alone in foremost
grandeur; in the centre the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau, up to the Savoy
Alps, among which Mont Blanc rises its head majestically. Towards the
west the lakes of Viel, Neufchatel, and Meurten spread their shining
mirrors. It would be difficult to find anywhere a country so lovely,
and at the same time grand, as here presents itself to the eyes.

"The houses of the village are detached and scattered about in groups
for some height up the mountain, almost every one is surrounded by a
garden and meadow, and shaded by fruit-trees; a clear rivulet glides
with many windings through the village. Unwillingly do the thatched
roofs give way to the prescribed tiles. The farming of the inhabitants
comprises fields, meadows, and woods, the herding of cattle, and on the
most valuable properties, mountain pastures, and the making of butter
and cheese. The vine also is cultivated. The Grencheners do not deny
that in common years their wine is sour, they sneer at it in songs and
jests, but yet they drink it, and find it wholesome. They are a
powerful race, of Allemanni origin, the men are mostly slender but
strong, and some of them uncommonly tall. Among the women and maidens
there is frequently that Madonna-like beauty which is often to be found
in Catholic districts. They are cheerful and gifted with humour,
perseveringly industrious, and skilful in adapting themselves to every
position and helping themselves. It is not the custom with them to
close the doors; it is mentioned as an unprecedented circumstance, that
three years ago a watch was stolen in the village. But the locality is
not favourable for thieves; woe to him who allows himself to be caught,
he would not come unscathed into the hands of justice.

"The Grencheners had the repute of untamed lawlessness, which
manifested itself in litigation and a strong inclination to take the
law into their own hands; the knife was frequently used, and blood was
shed. If the result was not mortal all who were concerned in it were
summoned, in order to keep the magistrates away. The injurer and the
injured negotiated, through mediators, as to a suitable
indemnification, and with the conclusion of the treaty the enmity
terminated. Money was not in my time the standard by which men were
valued, but their labour. I value a citizen there, who, having by an
unsuccessful enterprise lost his property, has worked as a street
servant. His fellow-citizens esteem him as much as before, and praise
him because he performs his service right well. For lads who did not
like the labours of peace, foreign service offered them a beaten way,
which was not objected to by the community, because it freed them from
many disturbing elements; however, it brought back many wild fellows
not amended.

"In the year 1790, when the French invaded Switzerland, the cantons
were very disunited; they carried on their struggle against the enemy
singly; the Bernese fought well at Neuenegg and the Vierwaldstättersee,
but one after another were subdued by superior power. The Grencheners
were bold enough to defend their village against the French invaders;
they went out, some of them armed with halberds and old weapons,
against the enemy, and joined in hand-to-hand combat. The name of
_Jungfer Schürer_ still lives, in the mouths of the inhabitants, and
they still show the place where she lost her life in the struggle. The
French officer, her opponent, was brought wounded to the hospital at
Solothurn, and is said to have there lamented penitently that he was
obliged to kill a maiden; but he had only the choice of doing this or
falling under her blows.

"The bath lies in a small secluded valley, separated from the village,
a building with a large front, betwixt ponds and pleasure-grounds with
shady groups of trees. Behind it is the spring, a clear iron water. In
summer the bath is visited by guests from Switzerland--Alsacians and
others--who accidentally discover the place and take a fancy to it. In
this century the small valley of marsh and sedge was still the
possession of the community. The father of Girard obtained the land for
a moderate price; built his huts upon it, drained the ground, enclosed
the spring, and arranged the baths--at first in very modest style,
extending the grounds as means increased. Father and mother both
exerted themselves, sons and daughters grew up to assist; one son
studied at German universities, and became a physician. The institution
has to thank him for its rapid prosperity.

"This was the place where I was presented in the church as
schoolmaster, not without the opposition of some pious parties.

"All the powers of resistance were roused to the utmost by the
ultramontane party; publicly by the press, privately by every
possible means. A heretic to be the only teacher in a Roman Catholic
school--that was unheard of! The government, the common council, and I
myself, were overwhelmed with abuse; the ecclesiastics in Grenchen were
severely blamed for having allowed a wolf to break into the fold, and
it was set before them as a duty (not only by the newspapers) to use
their utmost efforts to stifle the devil's brood in the germ.

"The pastor of the place was a stately, fine man,--a favourite of the
ladies, which gave him influence. But he was not fond of controversy;
he loved repose and playing on the violin, and would therefore rather
not have taken a part. As far as his influence went he hindered the
boys from going to school, and never set his foot in it, so that no
religious instruction was given, and the hours appointed for it were
filled up with instruction on other subjects. Personally I was on a
tolerably good footing with him. It would have given him pleasure if I
would have allowed him to baptise my little daughter, who was born two
months before at the Grenchen baths, and he would have taken the
opportunity of making a quiet effort to convert me, by giving me a book
to read, pretending to be written by a Protestant, for the
glorification of the Roman Catholic church. Still less than the pastor
could his chaplain be used as a battering-ram against the school. He
had become a theologian at Würzburg, and knew that Leipzig was a nest
of books. He was a good husbandman and rearers of bees, and had about
the same amount of education as the people; they, however, did not
remain stationary. He did not always succeed in preserving his clerical
dignity and avoiding blame from the authorities. He had never felt it
necessary to extend his theological knowledge beyond what was
absolutely necessary, and I was sometimes astonished at the chaos in
his memory; as when, for example, he related how St. Louis had defended
Rome against the Huns. If the conversation fell upon books he never
ceased to praise a narrative of a mission to Otaheite, and I soon
discovered that this volume was very nearly his whole library. In spite
of all this he was a good man, and it will not injure him now if I
relate why I loved him. We were speaking one day of eternal happiness
and the reverse. I told him how impossible I considered it, that the
good God could be so cruel as to burn me eternally in hell. It is the
Lord's fault, not mine, that I was baptised a Calvinist, and had thus
been instructed and confirmed. Our teacher had told us that we were to
love our fellow-creatures, and do good to them; and I endeavoured,
according to the best of my ability, to follow this teaching, and yet I
was to be eternally condemned! This gave the chaplain pain, and he
found a theological answer: 'I hope God will deal with you as with one
of the heathen, of whom it is written, that they will be judged
according to their works.' He was not dangerous to the school.

"If the clerical leaders had been more energetic, the supporters they
could have called forth, from out of the population, to oppose the
school were not to be despised. Besides the women, who for the most
part were attached to the pastor, there were men whom the new rule had
deprived of official position in the community. Respectability and
family connections still gave them importance, and they were led by
their old masters to persuade the more energetic youths that the new
constitution would not give them freedom enough; but, on the contrary,
more burdens, and that they had no reason to be contented with a
condition of things which the new leaders would turn exclusively to
their own advantage. These opponents were dangerous. From one of them I
was in the habit of getting milk for my household; the children fell
sick, and became feverish. Then we learnt that the milk of a sick cow
had been given us, and that the seller boasted of it.

"As the party which had just been vanquished in the field of politics
could not openly make head against the common council and the majority
of the citizens; they endeavoured to influence the parents, and were
pleased when, in the beginning, there were only a dozen scholars--a
small number for a great parish, surrounded by other villages, to whose
sons the district school was open. There was only one means of saving
the school from dissolution, and that was, its success. But a
circumstance occurred to help us, before it could be ascertained that
useful knowledge might be acquired here.

"Grenchen lies on the frontier towards the canton of Berne, about half
an hour's distance from the Berne village of Lengnau. The Calvanistic
common council of Lengnau inquired of their Roman Catholic Solothurner
neighbours whether, and under what conditions, boys from their place
would be allowed to attend the district school. The answer was, that
their sons would be welcome; the instruction would be given
gratuitously, and that the people of Lengnau would only have to take
care that the scholars should be quiet and orderly. Hence there was an
increase of eight or ten boys from Lengnau; in order to preserve quiet,
one of them had been appointed by the mayor as monitor, and was made
answerable for their discipline; they marched in military order two and
two, and returned home in the same way, and there never was the
slightest quarrel between them and the Grencheners. This example worked
upon the neighbouring places of the canton; scholars came from Staad,
Bettlach, and Selzach, and, later, even from the French Jura. One of
them merits special mention. He was a large strong man, two and thirty
years of age (a year older than I), from the parish of Ely, in Friburg,
a distance of two hours behind the Weissenstein, situated in a wild
lonely country of the Bernese Jura mountains, which he had quitted, in
order to work on the new high road between Solothurn and Grenchen. When
he heard of the district school, he altered his determination; he hired
himself as a servant to a peasant for board and lodging, resigning
salary for the privilege of being able to attend the school. His desire
for knowledge and his iron industry helped him to surmount all
difficulties; he afterwards attended the seminary of education at
Bünchenbuchsee (Berne); then returned to his home, where he became
mayor and teacher; in short, all-in-all. Only one thing Xaver Rais did
not become, that was, father of a family; for he always continued his
studies, and, as he confided to me afterwards, preferred buying books
to a wife. The Grencheners reckon him, up to the present day, as one of
them; and even now, when I go to the place, a message is sent to him;
then he puts on his satchel, lays hold of his staff, and goes over the
mountain with long strides.

"The influx of scholars from the neighbourhood did not fail to have an
effect on the opponents in the place; many boys succeeded in overcoming
the resistance of their parents, and had the satisfaction of entering
the institution, which soon numbered between thirty and forty scholars.
In order to regulate the instruction according to the requirements, I
was obliged to alter the prescribed plan. I did it on my own
responsibility, and when at the close of the first year, I reported
this to the government, what I had done was approved, and a wish
expressed that the same course might be pursued in the other district
schools. In the summer I kept school only from six to ten o'clock in
the morning, in order that the boys might be employed in house and
field labour. Besides this, the great work of the hay and corn harvest
was in the holidays. The objects of study I limited in number, but went
more deeply into them; I honestly lamented that the pastor gave no
religious instruction, for the boys came from the preparatory school
very much neglected in this important branch; they had only been
impressed with two points, the indispensableness of the Ecclesiastical
order, and the value of relics; of biblical history they were almost
entirely ignorant. If the pastor did not teach religion, neither did I
teach politics, but left the Fatherland State system to the school of
life. On the other hand, the German and French languages, together with
practice in composition, history, and geography, arithmetic and
geometry, were carried on with great zeal, and it gave me pleasure to
observe how forward boys of natural capacity might be brought in a
short time, when all bombast was abolished, things represented simply,
and each individual suitably assisted in his intellectual work.

"It was my good fortune to have a tolerable number of clever scholars,
and for these I always endeavoured to do more than was prescribed. I
gave them, therefore, at particular hours, instruction in Latin; and I
made use of this to enlarge their views, and to guide and excite their
love of learning. They formed a nucleus which gave the school a firm
position. To them I owe the absence of anxiety about the discipline of
the school, for their earnest orderly characters had an effect on all.
During the three years of my office as teacher, I never had recourse to
punishment; if a boy was idle or untruthful, I used, after admonishing
him to amend, to add the notification, that the other scholars would
bear no bad lads amongst them. It certainly sometimes happened that at
the end of the lesson, in which I had been obliged to give such a
warning, certain sounds which did not mean approbation, would reach my
ears; but I forbore inquiring as to the cause. On account of the
number of scholars, the institution was removed to another place; the
school-room was on the first story immediately over our sitting-room,
and my wife often remarked with astonishment, that though thirty
peasant boys were assembled above, she never heard the least noise; and
that our little children were not disturbed in their morning sleep.

"Before a year had passed, it was discovered in the village that the
school was useful; the boys, especially those of the 'guard,' as they
called my _élite_, were in great request, to read and write German and
French letters, which were necessary for the traffic in the products of
the country; also to examine and draw up accounts, and the like. I
willingly overlooked it when here or there one was an hour late, in
consequence of having performed these neighbourly acts, for this was of
advantage both to them and the school. The people saw us undertaking
the measurement of fields, and trigonometrically determining heights
and distances with instruments made by ourselves. But the strongest
impression was produced, when a boy fifteen years of age begged for
permission to speak before the assembled community for his father. The
father, a worthy man, well deserving of the community, had, by
misfortune, become bankrupt. Ruin impended, if the largest creditor did
not act with consideration, and this creditor was the community itself.
The son appeared before the assembly, and begged for an abatement of
the debt. He described the services, the misfortunes, and the state of
mind of his father; his anxieties about his family, and forlorn future;
and the advantage it would bring to the community itself, if it
preserved to the family its supporter, and to itself a useful citizen.
He spoke with an impressiveness, a warmth and depth of feeling, which
caused tears to roll down the beards of the most austere men. I can
certify that many will say this: and at last the remission of the debt
was passed without a dissenting voice. The boy has now long been a
professor of Natural Science and Doctor of Philosophy. His speech did
even more for the place than the act of another scholar, who knocked
out the brains of a mad dog with his wood axe. This they thought was no
art, for that every one could do; but the young orator! 'This is the
way they learn to speak in the school.' From that time the institution
was firmly established. But I still wanted something more.

"In vain had I begged the government to give an examination. They had
answered that they were acquainted with the progress of the school, and
accorded me their confidence. The second year I urgently repeated my
request, and represented that it would be of use to the school if the
State took notice of it. The examination was granted, and there
appeared at it the magistrate of the district Munzinger, many members
of the council of government, the prior Zweili, different teachers, and
men of distinction from Solothurn. All went off well; the boys felt
themselves raised and encouraged by the signs of satisfaction of the
highest State officials. After the business was over, the members of
the common council and other gentry, with the officials and friends of
the school, assembled at a repast. When the strangers had left, the
inhabitants remained long assembled together; even former opponents had
joined; very willingly would the chaplain have made his appearance if
he had not been afraid of the pastor, and so would the pastor himself
if he had been sure that his superiors would not hear of it. The
glasses continued to pass round till late in the night, and I was not
in a position to let them go by me, so much the less that in the eyes
of these men, he who could not drink with them was considered as a
weakling, and looked upon as incapable of showing any capacity. From
the day of the examination, I could consider the school as having taken
root in the community. The time had passed away when my friends and
acquaintance at Solothurn had declared to me that they would not be
surprised to hear an account of my being killed by the wild
Grencheners.

"I had indeed never been fearful of so unceremonious a proceeding from
the adherents of the 'Black party,' but it was not till now that I was
cheered by a feeling of security. Many small but significant traits
showed me that the people no longer considered me and mine as
strangers, and an approximation was here accomplished which was perhaps
the first for some generations. Before the opening of the institution,
it had been a question of procuring benches and other requisites, and
it was then remarked that these articles should not be supplied by
foreign joiners. A long time afterwards one of these came to me--there
were two brothers--to beg of me to lay a memorial before the
government, stating that they wished to remain at Grenchen, and obtain
the rights of citizens. By a new decree, the mayors were ordered to
examine the papers of settlers, and to send to their own homes all
whose papers were not according to rule. These had no papers, and were
therefore in danger of losing their domicile. On my inquiring how long
they had lived in the place, the man answered, that he and his brother
had been born there, also their father and mother; their grand-parents
had wandered there as young people, and, indeed, not from a foreign
country, or from another canton, but from a Solothurn village, only
four hours from Grenchen, where, however, they would no longer know
anything about them. The community had dealt well with them, giving
them an equal share with the citizens in the communal property, but
they denied them the rights of citizens. The government then signified
to the community, that they had neglected to demand from their sires
the papers, and that the grandchildren must not suffer from it. They
became citizens, but still remained foreign joiners.

"After a year was passed, fortune was favourable to me. The neighbours'
children chose mine as playfellows, and the wives sought intercourse
with mine, whilst many of the men persuaded me to join a union which
was engaged in objects of general utility; it soon attained a great
development, and introduced much improvement into the administration
and economy of the property of the community. I learnt to esteem many
excellent country people; many have passed away in the vigour of
manhood. Her Vogt, justice of the peace, a genuine Allemanni, with a
long thin face and dark hair, adapted by his understanding and
acuteness to be the champion of the rising enlightenment, was killed
not long ago by the fall of a tree which he was felling with an axe.
The common councillor, Schmied Girard, met with an accident in the
flower of manhood, on the occasion of a bonfire, which was lighted on
the Warinfluh, high up on the edge of a rocky precipice, in order to
show the Bernese neighbours sympathy in the celebration of the festival
in honour of their constitution. He pushed a great log with his foot
into the fire, slipped, and fell backwards over the rock into the
abyss. He was an uncompromising opponent of the rotten system in the
State, and had not feared to make known his sympathy for David Strauss,
whose call to Zurich in 1839 had brought about the noted Zurich row,
and to express his conviction that there could be no improvement till
the community could choose their own pastor, and it should only be for
five years. No wonder then that the ultramontane party spoke of his
death in their papers as by the finger of God, for the edification of
the good, and as a warning to the godless. The Grencheners answered the
fleeting curse of the pious press by an enduring inscription on stone.
In the village, by the side of the high road, in a place that every
traveller who goes along the road must remark, there is a simple
memorial stone. The inscription says that it is dedicated to the memory
of the common councillor Girard, who was loved and esteemed by his
fellow citizens, who laboured and met his death in the cause of
liberty, justice, and enlightenment. He was a good neighbour to me, and
a powerful support: my wife gazed at him with astonishment when he took
her Italian iron out of the fire with his bare hand, and placed it in
the iron stand.

"An _esprit de corps_ in a good sense soon arose among the scholars;
they felt themselves a distinguished corporate body. I made expeditions
with them; amongst others, to Neuenberg, where the curiosities of the
town, especially the rich collection of natural history, were shown to
them with praiseworthy willingness. Another time we accepted the
friendly invitation of a teacher at Solothurn to see a series of
physical experiments. To the capital of the country the boys would not
go on foot, but drove, as proud Grencheners, in a carriage decked with
foliage, drawn by stately horses. In the lecture-room their demeanour
was quiet, and they showed attention and intelligence, and they could
see there much that, from want of proper appliances, I could only
describe to them. The school was the focus of their life, the place
where they collected on all great occasions. When one night the
alarm-bell sounded, announcing a fire in the neighbouring village of
Bettlach, they all came unsummoned to me; we put ourselves in order,
and hastened with rapid steps to the spot where the fire was; we formed
a rank to the nearest brook, and received our share in the praise and
parting thanks of the pastor, for, when the fixe was extinguished, the
clergyman delivered a speech of thanks to the neighbours who had come
to help. I became the confidant of the cleverer ones in many features
of their inward development. The boy who had come forward as advocate
for his father was, on his first entrance into the school, so uncurbed
in his overflowing strength, and so untamed by any culture, that,
instead of taking his place in the usual way, he always vaulted over
tables and benches; the wild creature scarcely kept within his clothes.
But very soon all this was changed; Sepp became quiet and serious, and
his whole strength exerted itself in reflection and learning. I
expressed to him my pleasure at the change, and he told me that one
night he had not been able to sleep, and the thought had come into his
head, 'Thou hast hitherto not been a man, but an animal; now, through
the means of the school, thou canst become a man, and must do so.' From
that night he felt himself changed. Another--now an able forest-manager
and geometrician--had surprised me by an almost sudden transition from
slow to quick comprehension and rapid progress. He gave me afterwards
this explanation: 'All at once light broke upon me. You had set us an
equation; I racked my brains with it, but could not find out a
solution. I was in the stable milking the cows: I had taken the paper
with me, laid it beside me on a log, and was looking at it every
moment. Then it passed like lightning through my brain: "thus must thou
do it!" I left the cow and pail, took my paper, ran into the room, and
solved the equation. Since that all my learning has gone on better.'

"The year 1839 had come to an end, and the winter term--the most
tedious time of the school--had begun with an increased number of
scholars. One Sunday some old scholars came to me, and suggested that
the Grencheners had at one period occasionally performed a play. This
old custom had long fallen into disuse; there had been nothing to see
except at the carnival, 'the Doctor of Padua,' Punchinello, and the old
buffoon sports, which had been brought home by mercenaries from the
Italian wars, and established in the villages; but they wished to have
again a great play, and begged me to help them. I desired to have time
to think, and made inquiries of the old people, particularly of old
Hans Fik, who, at least forty years before had co-operated as a youth,
and, as he acknowledged to me with shame, had acted the part of the
'Mother of God.' From him I learnt that the last dramatic performance
had been the 'St. Geneviève.' He doubted whether this younger
generation could accomplish anything similar, for such a splendid
paraphernalia, with many horses, such tremendous jumps clear over the
horses, could no longer be seen in the present day. The _rôle_ of the
count had been particularly fatiguing; one man had not sufficed for it;
they had, therefore, had three counts, who, by turns, exercised their
gymnastic art. Upon my asking whether there had not been speaking also,
and whether he could not remember some passage which he could recite
before me, the old man began to declaim, one tone and a half above his
natural voice, singing and scanning with a monotonous abrupt rhythm and
cadence. Undoubtedly this mode of delivery was a tradition from ancient
times, and the speaking in these representations was an accessory only,
while the jumping, wrestling, and gymnastics were the main point. From
the productions of modern art which were at my command, I chose a
native tragedy, 'Hans Waldmann Bürgermeister von Zürich,' by
Wurstemberger of Berne. The hero, a leader in the Burgundian war,
exerted himself to destroy the rule of the nobles in his native city,
and to introduce reforms in accordance with the spirit of the age. Many
of these innovations were displeasing to the citizens. The 'man of the
people' became unpopular, a conspiracy of nobles upset him, and he was
executed. The piece was not deficient in the necessary action; single
combats, popular insurrection, fighting, and prison scenes gave spice
to the dish; and longer dialogues were struck out. When my time for
consideration had passed, the scholars made their appearance with
military punctuality, and undertook with acclamation to perform the
piece I had chosen.

"The young men set actively to work, and showed that innate disposition
to self-government which had been developed by education and
practice. Those who took part in it--the elder and fifth-class
scholars--assembled at the national school, formed a union, and
constituted it by the election of a president, a treasurer, and a
secretary. They immediately proceeded to the distribution of parts.
This took place as follows:--The president inquired of those assembled,
'Who will act the part of Hans Waldmann?' Three or four candidates
rise, each brings forward his claims--height, a powerful voice, or
school education; then they retire, and the discussion begins. Each
candidate has his adherents and opponents. The discussion is closed,
and a nearly unanimous majority allots the principal _rôle_ to the
teacher, Tschui. Thus it went on with all the parts in succession, and
the remainder of the general body agreed together as to their
distribution as soldiers, peasants, and peasant women from Lake Zurich.
The final vote put an end to all contention; there was not the least
murmuring against the decision of the majority. I had been present at
the meeting without saying a word; for, willing as the boys always were
to listen to my advice--nay, even to look to my countenance for the
expression of a wish,--yet it would have been annoying to them if I had
obtruded myself upon them on the occasion of this performance. The
distribution of parts gave perfect satisfaction; if I had undertaken
it, it could not have turned out better,--probably not so well.
Immediately after, a number of the elder lads, between twenty and
thirty years of age, asked me to allow them to assist by acting the
part of soldiers; they represented that there were some wild fellows
among the actors, and there might be some ill-conducted lads among the
spectators who would behave mischievously, and it would be well if they
were at hand to keep order. Their desire was willingly complied with,
and the appearance of these stout youths may have contributed to make
their service unnecessary.

"After the parts had been written out and learnt by heart, the
rehearsals began, and continued during the whole winter. Most of the
actors could only be brought to a certain point of proficiency, and
there they remained; but some, especially the actor of the first part,
richly repaid the trouble taken with him, and won, both at the
performance and afterwards, the highest praise. But what delighted me
most was to observe the moral effect of this dramatic industry of the
young people on the life of the village. The common councillors
related, with joyful surprise--what had been unheard of in the memory
of man--that this winter there had been no fighting, nor the least
ill-behaviour. The lads no longer sat in the taverns, drinking; they
practised their parts at home, neighbours and acquaintances listening
to them. Although women were excluded from the stage, the young ladies
and peasant women being represented by the boys; yet the women and
maidens were called upon to co-operate in other ways.

"For many things were to be procured for the theatre--decorations,
costumes, and orchestra. The newly-built wing of the bath-house was
chosen for the theatre; this wing contained the dining-room and the
adjoining dancing-room; the first, a long room, the other somewhat
smaller and a square; there was an opening in the wall from one room to
the other, in the form of an arch. The dancing-room was to be the
stage, and before the arch hung a curtain: the dining-room was for the
spectators. A platform and benches gave more than a thousand seats, and
a gallery attached to the wall opposite to the curtain served as boxes.
The plan of the stage arrangements was devised by a genuine artist, the
painter Disteli, of Solothurn, known by his pictures of Swiss battles;
the union took charge of the execution of it. It begged the common
council to signify what trees might be cut to supply the necessary
timber; crowds went out; the trees fell under the strokes of the axe;
the lads harnessed themselves to them, putting on the tinkling-bells of
the sledge-horses, and exultingly dragged the stems down the steep
hill-path to the saw-mill. Then came the carpenters of the village,
assisted by a sufficient number of men; in a short time the theatre
was ready. The decorations were much aided by the misfortune of a
play-manager, who, with his company, had for a long time been giving
representations in a neighbouring city, but then had been obliged, by
the pressure, not of the public, but of creditors, to go away, leaving
behind him the whole of his theatrical properties. The scenery,
therefore, was in the custody of the city, and the theatrical union
succeeded in hiring, for a moderate sum, what was necessary--a room, a
street, a wood, and even a dark prison. The costumes were designed by
the painter Disteli; he coloured not only the particular dresses
faithfully, according to the attire of the time and place, but
contrived how it might be most cheaply carried out, by using the
articles of dress that were at hand,--the aprons, bodices, shawls, and
cloaks of the women. Whilst the village tailor worked, with an
additional journeyman, incessantly at the costumes which required a
higher degree of dexterity, the maidens occupied themselves for weeks
with the smart dresses of the noble ladies, and the simple, picturesque
attire of the women of the people; and many heroes owed to the taste
and skill of a sister or a future bride the plumed cap and mantle which
made him an object of admiration. If the dress, even less than the
wearers, left little to desire, so did the equipment of the soldiers
give a peculiar excellence to this performance; for the union addressed
a petition to the government of the Canton, to allow them the use of
the equipments and arms from the Burgundian war that were in the
armoury at Solothurn, of helmets, armour, armlets, greaves, swords,
spears, and halberds; and safe securities were offered for the careful
return of them, with compensation for any damage. The government not
only granted the request, but their most intelligent members helped
both by word and deed, and delighted the troops with an old culverin
and the coal-black equipments of the Burgundian gunners of the end of
the fifteenth century.

"When February was so far advanced that the days of performance could
be settled,--it was to be on at least three following Sundays, in order
to repay in some measure the great preparations,--I pointed out to the
president of the union, after a general rehearsal, that it would be
well to have some playbills printed. 'Playbills!' said the president,
'there can be no harm in that, the people will then know who they have
before them.' It so happened that the actors had thought of having a
strip of paper attached to the head-dress of each, on which the public
could read in large characters the name of the person. This mistake
induced me to add upon the bills, to the usual contents, a short
summary of the scenes in each act. The union sent their messengers, and
I doubt whether there were any town or village within five leagues
where the bills were not carried. What conduced to all this zeal in the
preparations, was not only the pleasure of showing themselves before so
many men, but also the calculation, that only a numerous attendance
would bring up the entrance money to balance the expenditure, and give
a chance of an overplus, which would be at the disposal of the union.

"Again the actors came and begged to have a procession, 'such as there
used to be formerly, in which we ride, the soldiers march, and women
and others drive in smart carriages.' Those, therefore, who assisted in
the village, were to assemble and move in regular procession to the
baths, distant about a quarter of an hour. But the youths who had gone
through numerous rehearsals, in order to attain the heights of the art,
wished now to have a rehearsal of their procession, and to put on their
equipments and beautiful dresses; I left it to them to do as they
pleased. I learnt too late that to this innocent pleasure was added
also a plan of revenge. It had come to the ears of the union, that the
clergy of the place were not favourable to what the worldly authorities
were so well disposed. The pastor had made a report at Solothurn,
against the godless intention of performing a worldly piece on a
Sunday, and the Bishop and Chapter pressed the government to prevent
such misconduct. This made the young men very indignant. One Sunday
afternoon, when the church bells sounded for the catechisings, the
dissonance of a drum mingled with their solemn sound. It was the
parochial servant, who had become old as a drummer in foreign service;
he was a master of his instrument, and on this occasion was not in the
service of the council, but of the actors for the rehearsal of the
procession. The great strength with which the veteran played in the
closest vicinity to the church, and the pleased twinkle of his eye,
betrayed that he had lost at Rome and Naples all respect for
ecclesiastics, and had particular pleasure in vexing the priests. He
had before this avowed to me that he did not believe all Calvinists
would burn in hell; he had told his pastor at confession that he had
always been good friends with his Bernese comrades, and that he felt
assured the good God would not cast away such brave fellows into the
jaws of the devil; when in consequence of this, the pastor had refused
him absolution, he had gone away saying: 'Good Mr. Pastor, henceforth I
throw all my sins on your back.' So he marched round the house of God,
overpowering the voice of the preacher, and causing the young people to
run out of the church to see the procession. The clergy had good reason
to complain, as people had been disturbed in their devotions. Soon
there appeared an order from the government for the affair to be
investigated; there was some difficulty in bringing it to a
satisfactory conclusion, but the union promised never again to disturb
the worship of God, and the ecclesiastics dropped their opposition to
the performance.

"At last the great day for the first performance came. It was Sunday,
the 15th of March, 1840. At mid-day the village was all astir; about
two o'clock the procession was arranged, and began its march along the
old high road which led from the village to the baths. The ground was
still covered with snow, but the sun shone bright. First came a
carriage with a brass band from Fulder, which was travelling in western
Switzerland; this band played a solemn march. Then the knights with
mounted retainers, two and two, in brilliant Burgundian armour, as many
as forty horse; then again carriages adorned with fir-branches and
ribbons, occupied by the wives and daughters of the nobles and people,
and with insurgent peasants, the infantry with their gun brought up the
rear. It was not a bad picture of the old time, the weapons shone in
the sunshine, and the figures rose, sharply defined, from the dazzling
snow.

"The performance began about three o'clock, and lasted four hours. The
success exceeded all expectation; the house was filled, and the
applause loud. I experienced painful moments behind the scenes, as for
instance when the fighting heroes, in spite of all admonitions, would
strike at each other with their long sharp swords, so that the sparks
flew, and I was obliged to be contented that only a few drops of blood
flowed from a slight wound in the hand. The play was followed by a
supper to all who had cooperated, and the gentry of the village, and
lastly a dance. The knights danced in their armour till midnight,
having put it on about mid-day. I concluded, therefore, that this race
had not degenerated in bodily strength from their forefathers, who
fought at Murten and Granson.

"The two following representations went off as fortunately as the
first. The population streamed in from far and near, also travellers
from Basle, Zürich, and other cities. Since that one-and-twenty years
have passed; in the new school buildings there is a theatre, in which
the scholars perform small pieces; but the worthy men still look back
with pride to the great performances of their youth.

"One consequence of this play was, that the master became a part of the
joyous recollections of the Swiss villages. The house which the
community had hired for the institution, and the dwelling of the
master, a provisional locality, stood with its front to the old
high road; behind lay the little garden, at the back of which was a
meadow belonging to the house which pastured two goats, and on which
fruit-trees were planted. My abode was on the ground-floor; on the
first storey, to which there was a narrow steep staircase, was the
school-room and a reception-room. In summer acquaintances from the
neighbourhood came frequently, and relations from home visited us,
delighting in the country and in the well-disposed people. The
holiday-time was gladly made use of for expeditions among the
mountains. The close intercourse with the men of the village was also
beneficial to the school, of which the wants were amply supplied.
Without any application, the common councillor let me know, that the
allowed quantity of wood appeared to him too small; but I need not mind
that, as I had only to state how much I wanted, and I should have
enough given me. The scholars were eager to show attentions to my
little ones, and to render voluntary services for our little household
and farm. They took care of the garden, mowed the grass, and made the
hay; I received from them the earliest strawberries and cherries, and
when the rivulet was fished, the most beautiful trout. Since the
examination, their zeal for learning had increased. The German and
French compositions of the clever ones were very creditable; they
solved equations of the second degree with facility, could explain the
workmanship of a watch, a mill, and a steam-engine, and also the laws
of their working; besides this, they could read Cornelius Nepos and
Cæsar. Instruction in the history of their Fatherland was throughout
Switzerland carefully attended to, but only the brilliant parts of it.
Every child knew about the battles of Morgarten, Sempach, and Murten;
but the submissiveness of their rulers, the French pensions and
decorations were generally passed over in silence. It appeared to me
more judicious not to give the light without the shadows.

"I did not consider my duty towards those scholars whose inclination to
learn was just aroused as ending with the certificate of dismissal. I
wished to carry them on farther, up to the Canton school at Solothurn,
which, besides a literary, had a technical class. With this object, it
was necessary to provide for their maintenance, for they were,
generally speaking, the sons of poor parents; those who were conscious
that they would one day possess fields, meadows, and cattle, seldom
felt the impulse to acquire more than the necessary knowledge. Before
the close of the second year's course, two scholars showed themselves
fit for the Canton school. I went to Solothurn, and spoke to the
Landammann Munzinger and to the Councillor of the Board of Education,
Dr. F. Both were worthy men, who provided for the boys in a great
measure out of their own income. Soon I brought them a second, then a
third couple. For these also, the necessary maintenance was found,
especially as all who had entered had shown themselves worthy. But Dr.
F. remarked to me, that he did not see the possibility of providing
maintenance for any more, and as the parish was wealthy, they could do
it themselves. I replied that this, without doubt, would be the case,
as soon as the use of the school and of the further education of clever
youths was demonstrated to the citizens by examples. Till then the
government must provide that such witnesses should be forthcoming. A
somewhat cold and dry answer sent the blood to my head: 'If you do not
do all that is possible to promote the knowledge and education of the
people, you may descend from your seats and let the patricians resume
them, for they understand how to govern better than you!' 'Then I must
find maintenance for the next scholars that are to be advanced to the
higher school;' I advised them to apply to the Capuchins at Solothurn,
as these are bound by their rules to give lodging and board to poor
students. They had no occasion to repent of it.

"They were a jolly set in the monastery; the civil war in Spain had
divided them into two parties, Carlists and Christinos, who mutually
wrote satirical verses against each other. The severest satirist, a
young Neuer, was the leader among the Christino writers, against whose
satirical verses the leader of the Carlists could not make head; he was
an old man of family, who long had guarded the holy chair, and only
lately exchanged the papal uniform for the cowl. This domestic dispute
was, however, kept strictly within the cloister walls, for outside of
them the Fathers were good brothers, and everywhere popular. They lived
among the people, shared in their pleasures, and comforted the unhappy;
they knew every family, and more especially frequented those houses
where the women made the best coffee. The favourite saying of the
Carlist chief was, 'There is nothing beyond good coffee and making the
soul happy.' Every spring two Fathers came to Grenchen, and the young
men collected behind them as behind the rat-catcher from Hameln; the
first cried out, 'Ho, ho! go and pick up snails!' This call drew all
the boys from the houses into the wood. The rich booty gave a delicious
dish to the monastery. The young collectors were repaid with holy
pictures.

"The news that I had sent two boys to the Capuchins, soon reached the
Landammann Munzinger, and at my next visit he asked me, 'Whether I did
not know that they instilled principles into the boys, which were
different from ours?'--'That I know well,' I answered, 'but I know
still more; first, that scholars must live if they would learn; then
that boys who have been two years with me, are so perverted, that no
Capuchin can do them any good,'--'Then I am content,' said Herr
Munzinger.

"I cannot part from this excellent man without consecrating a few words
to his memory. He was a tradesman, and had a public shop at Solothurn.
He had a philosophical education, was musical, and a man of genuine
benevolence. Unselfish, of agreeable appearance and manners, he was
inexorable when it was a question of the public weal; he was an
opponent of the rule of the old patricians who made use of their power
at home and their diplomatic service for their own advantage, and had
no feeling for the interests of the people. In the year 1830, Munzinger
was at the head of the movement, and the line he took at the popular
meeting at Balsthal, on the 5th December, decided the fall of the
Patrician government in the Canton of Solothurn. In the construction of
the new constitution and laws, in the organisation of the
administration, and in his co-operation in their labours for the
exemption of the land from burdens, for the establishment of schools,
for the formation of roads, for the advancement of agriculture, and the
administration of justice, he showed himself wonderfully gifted as a
statesman. Though the State only consisted of a few square miles, with
some sixty thousand inhabitants, yet the difficulties of constituting
it were not less than in a larger State. The old rulers and their
adherents, supported by the clergy, made use of the free press, the
right of assembly, and their rich ecclesiastical and worldly means, to
irritate the people against the new order of things. There was no want
of handles to lay hold of, as arrangements for good objects require
means, and thus some burdens must be imposed. Thus, for example, the
community was bound by a law to erect schools, and further, to endow
them with land; where there was no communal property, land had to be
bought. Many villages opposed this, but their resistance was forcibly
overcome. Later, the chief magistrates thanked the Landammann for
having put force upon them for their good. In a different way did the
government maintain itself against refractory ecclesiastics. No
compulsion was put on them, but care was taken that the peace of
families should not be disturbed by their insubordination. The
government chose as Chapter-Provost a liberal-thinking ecclesiastic;
Rome refused to confirm him; the situation remained unoccupied, and the
income went to the school-fund. The clergy refused to solemnise mixed
marriages, or to baptise the children; thus such couples had to seek
for marriage and baptism elsewhere; but the officials of the district
took care that they were entered in the registers. How well Munzinger
understood republican freedom may be learnt from an example. The parish
of Grenchen possessed extensive woodlands, the property of which was
divided between them and the State. The parish had the right to supply
themselves with wood, the remainder of the produce went to the State, a
condition of things which was evidently not favourable to the
cultivation of timber. The government proposed, therefore, that the
wood should be divided in proportion to the rights of both sides, and
to ascertain this more precisely, sent a commission to Grenchen. The
peasants, accustomed from ancient times to be over-reached by the
government, were suspicious of being defrauded, and drove the
commissioners out of the village. Next morning the landjäger of
Solothurn took the most considerable of the country people into
custody, and carried them to prison at Solothurn. This had not passed
without some heart-breaking scenes; women had been alarmed, the
children cried, and the whole village was filled with lamentation and
anger.

"From the feeling excited by these circumstances, I went soon after to
the Landammann, and lamented the harshness of the proceeding. The men
should have been summoned, none of them would have failed to appear,
they were not such as would have evaded it. 'Yes,' said Munzinger, 'I,
alas, was not here.'--'I thought so,' replied I, 'the affair in that
case would have been managed differently.'--'Undoubtedly,' exclaimed
the Landammann, colouring, 'I should have sent out the military and
occupied the village, the seizure would still have taken place.' I
could not conceal my astonishment at this outburst of anger. 'Yes,'
continued Munzinger, 'you, with your monarchical notions, can be
cautious and indulgent; there are always gendarmes and soldiers enough
at hand to step in if necessary. We have not these means; the people
have a great degree of freedom, but we cannot allow that in one single
case even a hair's-breadth should be over-stepped.' A true and manly
word.

"The Landammann had the welfare of the Confederation as much at heart
as that of the Canton, and as the people at home submitted to his
discipline because they recognised that it was for their good, so also
his guidance was followed in the affairs of the Confederation. In the
Sonderbund war, Solothurn, although Catholic, was on the side of the
Diet; its artillery distinguished itself in action, and left many
valiant men on the field of battle. Munzinger joined in forming the new
constitution; he was elected to the Diet, and by this into the
Executive Council. Switzerland honoured one of their best citizens in
choosing him as President of the Bund, and he dedicated to his
Fatherland, from which he was too early torn away, all his powers up to
the last hours of his life.

"The year 1840 introduced into Switzerland and Germany the alarm of
French invasion; General Aymar had marched from Lyons, and the forces
of the Confederacy met him on their frontier. The Solothurn Battalion,
Disteli, which was marching through Grenchen, was refreshed by the
inhabitants with food and drink, and animated by the cry 'Thrash them
soundly,' 'Fear nothing!' The storm was allayed, as Louis Napoleon
withdrew of his own accord from Switzerland to save them from war with
France. The clouds of war over Germany disappeared also, but they left
behind a lasting uneasiness in the mind of the people, which was the
beginning of a succession of years of political excitement. At this
period I was recalled to Germany by the persuasions of friends and
feelings of duty, but it cost me a long inward struggle.

"Our departure was to take place at Christmas; it was very painful for
us to take leave. I shortened as much as possible my separation from
the scholars. I gave to each of them a book, said farewell, and
hastened from them. A young man who had not been at the school, but had
acted as a soldier in 'Hans Waldmann,' inquired from what coachman at
Solothurn I should hire my carriage. I told him the man. The following
day he returned to me, and informed me that he had engaged himself as
servant to this liveryman, and had asked low wages that he might be
allowed to drive us to Germany, for he wished to take care that we were
as well attended to as in Grenchen.

"It was a cold, dark winter morning when we drove from the inn in which
we had passed the last night. Great was our surprise, when, at that
early hour and in the bitter cold, we saw the whole population, men,
women, and children, thronging before the house and along the high
road. They wished once more to press our hands, they said farewell, and
many other things; 'It is wrong of you to leave us,' 'You must come
back again,' 'You shall have the freedom of the city.' They raised
their children up aloft, 'Look at him yet again, look at him yet once
more!' The whip cracked, and the carriage drove away."

Here we end the narrative of the former schoolmaster of Grenchen.

More than twenty years have passed since the German teacher departed
from the Swiss village. He had been a strong and moderate leader in the
political struggles of Germany, he had clearly seen where the greatest
danger threatened, and his name was often mentioned with warm
veneration, or with bitter hatred. When years of weak reaction came, he
went to the north of Germany, and again lived in the active performance
of his duties as a citizen. Then the faithful companion of his life
fell sick, and the physicians advised a long residence in pure mountain
air; they determined to go to the village around which hovered so many
delightful reminiscences of past times.

The village had changed its aspect; people no longer travelled by the
high-roads but on the railway to Grenchen, manufactures had been
introduced, watch-making and inlaid work, and the manufacture of
cement, and other branches are increasingly developed. But the
travellers found the old feeling, not only among the old men, but also
through tradition among the younger ones. On the Sunday after their
arrival, a long procession moved in the evening from the village to the
baths. Foremost were the military bands of two battalions, which were
formed of Grencheners under the direction of the new district-master,
then the bearers of coloured lanterns, which were a large portion of
the population. The multitude arranged themselves before the balcony
of the house in which "Hans Waldmann" had been performed. Great
chafing-dishes threw a red light over the ponds, jutting fountains and
the pleasure grounds of the baths, whilst rockets ascended and lighted
up at intervals the dark background, the mountains of the Jura. The
guests had to place themselves on the balcony. The music ceased, and a
former scholar, now a physician in Grenchen, stepped from out of the
ranks. He commenced his greeting by calling to mind, that on the
day of their arrival, there had been a great eclipse of the sun;
two-and-twenty years before, their guests had entered among them at a
period of intellectual darkness, they had helped to make light
victorious; he concluded with the assurance that Grenchen would always
consider the two strangers as belonging to them. When later the people
of the village joyfully thronged round the friends, the parents pointed
to a race of young giants that had meanwhile grown up amongst them,
saying, "See these are the little ones who used to play with your
children, and could not then go to your school." The German had by his
side his eldest scholar, Xaver Reis, who had again come to him, over
the mountain.

The district school has now three masters and ample funds. The new
school-house rises on a height in front of the church, and is a
conspicuous object to the surrounding country. The school has trained
its own advocates and supporters.

The Master who gives this narrative is Karl Mathy, the State councillor
of Baden, in the year 1848 a member of the Imperial ministry, one of
the best and strongest champions of the Prussian party.

These pictures began with a description of peasant life at an earlier
period, it concludes with a true village story of the latest bygone
times. It is a Swiss village of German race, to which the reader has
been introduced. Many of its circumstances, the worth and energy of the
inhabitants, and their self-government, recall to us a lively
recollection of a German time which is removed from us by many
centuries. Betwixt the Alps and the Jura also did misrule long retard
the culture of the country people, but its pressure was harmless in
comparison with the fate of the German nation: its bondage, and the
Thirty Years' War.

It was one of the objects of these pages to represent the elevation of
the German popular mind, from the devastation of that war, and from the
tyrannical rule of the privileged classes. Deliverance has come to the
Germans, but they have not recovered their old strength in every sphere
of life. But we have a right to hope; for we live in the midst of manly
efforts to remove the old wall of partition that still exists between
the people and the educated, and to extend, not only to the peasant,
but also to the prince, and to the man of family, the blessing of a
liberal education.



                              CONCLUSION.


Amidst the noise and confusion of the year 1848, the German people
began a struggle for a new political constitution of the Fatherland. We
must look upon the Frankfort parliament as a characteristic phase of
our life, not as the result, but as the beginning of a noble struggle,
as a grand dialectic process in which the needs of the nation, and the
longing for a political idea, passed on to will and decision. What in
1815 had been only the unimportant fancy of individuals, had become a
formalised demand of the people, around which the minds of men have
been tossed in ascending and descending waves.

Since the year 1840 the longing for political life has obtained
expression in Prussia. There has arisen family discord between the
Hohenzollern and their people, apparently insignificant, but from it
has sprung the constitutional life of Prussia, the beginning of a new
formation of the State, a progress for prince and people. Again it
becomes manifest that it is not always great times and great characters
which produce the most important progress.

But how does it happen that the favourites of their people, the Royal
race on which the hopes and future of Germany depend--that the
Hohenzollerns regard so hesitatingly and distrustfully the new position
which the constitution of their State and the Union party of Germany
offers to them? No royal race has gained their State so completely by
the sword as they have. Their ancestors have grandly nurtured the
people; their ancestors have created the State; their greatness, and
their renown in war originated in the time of the fulness of royal
power. Thus they naturally feel as a loss what we consider as a gain
and an elevation.

The whole political contest of the present day, the struggle against
privileges, the constitutional question, and the German question, are
all in reality only Prussian questions; and the great difficulty of
their solution lies in the position which the Royal house of Prussia
have taken up in regard to them. Whenever the Hohenzollerns shall enter
warmly and willingly into the needs of the time, their State will
attain to its long wanted strength and soundness. From this they will
obtain almost without trouble, as if it came of itself, the conduct of
German interests, the first lead in German life. This is known to
friends and enemies.

We faithfully remember how much we owe to them, and we know well that
the final foundation of our connection with them is indestructible,
even though they may be angry because we are too bold in our demands,
or we may grumble because they are too dilatory in granting them. For
there is an old and hearty friendship betwixt them and the spirit of
the German nation, and it is a manly friendship which may well bear
some rubs. But the German citizen feels with pride, that he values the
honour and greatness of their position, and the honour and happiness of
the Fatherland, no less than themselves.

The German citizen is in the fortunate position of regarding the old
dynasties with warm sympathy. They have grown up with his fondest
reminiscences, a large number of them have become good and trustworthy,
fellow-workers in the State and in science, and promote the education
of the people. He will be indulgent when he sees individuals among them
still prejudiced in their judgment by feeble adherence to the old
traditions of their order; he will smile when they turn a longing look
on the times that are gone, when their privileges were numerous and
undisputed; and he will perhaps investigate, with more acuteness and
learning than themselves, wherever, in the past of their race, real
capacity and common sense has appeared. But he will be the inexorable
opponent of all those political and social privileges by which they lay
claim to a separate position among the people, not because he envies
these things, or wishes to put himself in their place, but because he
sees with regret that their impartiality of judgment, and sometimes
their firmness of character are diminished by it, and because, through
some of these obsolete traditions, like their court privileges, our
Princes are in danger of falling into the narrowmindedness of German
Junkers.

In the two centuries from 1648 to 1848, the wonderful restoration of
the German nation was accomplished. After an unexampled destruction,
its character rose again in faith, science, and political enthusiasm.
It is now engaged in energetic endeavours to form for itself the
highest of earthly possessions,--a State.

It is a great pleasure to live in such a time. A hearty warmth, and a
feeling of youthful vigour fill hundreds of thousands. It has become a
pleasure to be a German; and before long it may be considered by
foreign nations also to be a high honour.



FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: At the time of Frederic II. it varied in amount; a large
property had to supply a whole horse (there were half and quarter horse
imposts), or pay 18 to 24 thalers; in the Electorate it amounted to the
high sum of 40 thalers.]

[Footnote 2: The strength of the militia under Frederic I. was,
according to Fassmann, i. p. 720, up to 60,000.]

[Footnote 3: The system of allotting to each regiment its recruiting
district.]

[Footnote 4: Fassmann, "Life of Frederic William I.;" and Von Loen,
"The Soldier Depicted."]

[Footnote 5: V. Loen, "Der Soldat," p. 312.]

[Footnote 6: G. V. Griesheim, "Die Taktik," p. 75; v. Liebenrothe,
"Fragmente," p. 29.]

[Footnote 7: Small smoking society, consisting of the King and his
intimates.--_Tr_.]

[Footnote 8: It was not the bad combination of colours, the blue and
yellow velvet housings, that incensed the dying king--those were the
colours of his body-guard--but he wished to see those of the Dessauer
on him--blue, red, and white.]

[Footnote 9: Lafontaine's "Life of Gruber," p. 126.]

[Footnote 10: "The Poor Man in Tockenburg," published by Fussli.
Zurich: 1789 and 1792. Afterwards by G. Bülow, Leipzig, 1852.]

[Footnote 11: Elector Frederic William inherited 1451 square miles,
with, perhaps, 700,000 inhabitants, most of it in Ordensland,[A]
Prussia, which was less devastated by the war.

                                        Square Miles.       Inhabitants.

  In the year 1688, the Elector left      2034, with about    1,800,000.
      "       1713, King Frederic I.      2090,     "         1,700,000.
      "       1740, King Frederic Wm. I.  2201,     "         2,240,000.
      "       1786, King Frederic II.     3490,     "         6,000,000.
      "       1805, King Frederic II.     6563,     "         9,800,000.
                    (Before the exchange of Hanover.)
      "       1807, remain                2877,     "         5,000,000.
      "       1817, were                  5015,     "        10,600,000.
      "       1830, were 13,000,000 inhabitants; but in 1861, 18,000,000.

[A] Ordensland, the country that once belonged to the Teutonic
Knights.]

[Footnote 12: "Journal de Seckendorf," 2nd Jan., 1738.]

[Footnote 13: [Oe]uvres, t. xvii., nr. 140, p. 213.]

[Footnote 14: _Ib._, t. xviii., nr. 10.]

[Footnote 15: Portions of his historical works appear under special
titles with many introductions. "The Memoirs of the House of
Brandenburg" (begun 1746), the greatest part of it unimportant and
compiled; "History of My Time" (written 1746-75), his masterpiece; then
the great history of "The Seven Years' War" (ended 1764); finally,
"Memoirs after the Hubertsburger Peace" (written 1775-79). They form,
in spite of inequalities, a connected whole.]

[Footnote 16: V. Templehoff, "Siebenjähriger Krieg," i. p. 282.]

[Footnote 17: Sulzer to Gleim: "Briefe der Schweizer von Körte," p.
354.]

[Footnote 18: He had in 1759, a year before he wrote the foregoing
words to the Marquis d'Argen, published through this friend, his
treatise, "Réflections sur les Talons militaires et sur le Caractère de
Charles XII. Roi de Suède," one of the most remarkable works of the
King. His view of the faults of Charles XII. was sharpened by the
personal experience which he had himself made in the lost battles of
the last year, and, whilst he judges respect fully the unfortunate
conqueror, he at the same time claims for himself higher credit for his
own moderate policy. The work is, therefore, not only a very
characteristic record of his wise moderation, but also a memorial of
quiet self-enfranchisement and of great inward progress.]

[Footnote 19: [Oe]uvres, xxvii. 1, nr. 328, from 17 Sept.]

[Footnote 20: In the year 1740, 1,100,000; in 1756, 1,300,000; in 1763,
the number had sunk to 1,150,000; in 1779, there were 1,500,000; it was
supposed then that the country could maintain 2,300,000 more. It
numbers now 3,000,000.]

[Footnote 21: New Prussia, "Provinzial Blätter," Jahrg. vi., 1854, nr.
4, p. 259.]

[Footnote 22: V. Held, "Gepriesenes Preussen," p. 41; Roscius,
Westpreussen, p. 21.]

[Footnote 23: When, in 1815, the present province of Posen was returned
to Prussia, the wolves there also were the plague of the country.
According to a statement in the Posen "Provinzial Blätter," in the
district of Posen, from 1st Sept. 1815, to the end of February, 1816,
forty-one wolves were slain; and still in the year 1819, in the
district of Wongrowitz, sixteen children and three grown-up persons
were devoured by wolves.]

[Footnote 24: From manuscript records of the year 1790.]

[Footnote 25: The complaints are very frequent. Compare v. Liebenrothe
Fragm. p. 59.]

[Footnote 26: Much, that is interesting concerning the social condition
of the North of Germany after 1790 is to be found in "Der
Schreibtisch," by Caroline de la Motte Fouqué, pp. 46.]

[Footnote 27: Kant's works, xi. 2, p. 80. The man in question was one
of doubtful reputation.]

[Footnote 28: The drinkers were Klopstock and his friends.]

[Footnote 29: The travellers were Fritz Jacopi and his brother.]

[Footnote 30: The new guest was Wieland; the hosts, Sophie Laroche and
her husband; and the narrator, Fritz Jacopi.]

[Footnote 31: Leuckhardt relates this in his "Lebensbeschreibung," and
there is no ground to doubt what is imparted by this disorderly man.]

[Footnote 32: "Reise von Mainz nach Cöln im Jahre, 1794," p. 222;
"Briefe eines reisenden Franzosen, 1784," ii., p. 258. Both books are
only to be read with caution.]

[Footnote 33: Slang terms of the period, ridiculing their keen
appetites and grotesque uniforms.--_Tr_.]

[Footnote 34: "Schilderung der jetzigen Reichsarmee," 1796-8. This
interesting description is often quoted, but it is not quite
trustworthy. The author is that Lauckhart, a disorderly theologian, who
made the Rhine campaign as a musketeer in the regiment Thadden. His
autobiography is as instructive as it is repulsive.]

[Footnote 35: That this description is not too strong, we have
sufficient warrant in the many accounts of that time. In "Reise von
Mainz nach Cöln im Frühjahr," 1794; "Lafonteine Leben," p. 154. The
description also which Lauckhart gives of the emigrants in his
autobiography may be examined. These French doings excited disgust and
horror even in him.]

[Footnote 36: Officials, analogous to the Préfet.]

[Footnote 37: Von Held's writings were, "Das Schwarzebuch"--now very
rare--"Die Preussischen Jacobiner," and the "Gepriesene Preussen," the
most notorious. They and their refutations give us the impression that
the author, as is frequent in such cases, had written many things
correctly, others inaccurately, but on the whole honestly; but he was
not to be depended on as a judge of his opponents. Varnhagen knew him,
and wrote his life.]

[Footnote 38: "Gründliche Widerlegung des gepriesenen Preussens,"
1804.]

[Footnote 39: "Buchholz, Gemälde des gesellschaftlichen Zustandes in
Preussen," i.]

[Footnote 40: The narrator is Adelbert von Chamisso. His letter of 22nd
Nov., 1806, is one of the most valuable relics of that true-hearted
man. The concluding words deserve well to be remembered by Germans.
"Oh, my friends, I must atone by a free confession for the secret
injustice that I have done this brave, warlike people. Officers and
soldiers, in the harmony of a high enthusiasm, cherished only one
thought: it was, under the pressure of external and internal enemies,
to maintain their old fame, and not a recruit, not a drummer-boy would
have fallen away. Indeed, we were a firm, faithful, good, stout
soldiery. Oh, if we had but had men to lead us."]

[Footnote 41: The following is taken from an autobiography which he
left in manuscript for his children. The editor has to thank the family
of the deceased for it.]

[Footnote 42: In the old Prussian Rhine country stones were beginning
to be used for the _chaussées_.]

[Footnote 43: The three officers were, Lieutenants von Blücher, von
Lepel, and von Treskow; the three Prebendaries, von Korff, von
Bösclager, at Eggermuhlen, and von Merode.]

[Footnote 44: Ministerial decrees setting aside the course of justice.]

[Footnote 45: Vinke had succeeded Stein as First President.]

[Footnote 46: Alliance of students in Germany.]

[Footnote 47: In the number of 247,000 soldiers the volunteers are not
included, because they in general consisted of those who were not
native Prussians. Beitzke's calculation, which we here take because it
is lowest, undoubtedly includes the Landwehr, and the squadrons which,
in the course of the campaign, were formed on the other side of the
Elbe; there are, therefore, about 20,000 men to be abstracted from his
amount. But as his reckoning only comprehends, the strength of the army
in the field, which up to the battle of Leipzig was almost entirely
gathered from the old Prussian territory, his figures may be considered
rather too low than too high. In 1815, the proportion of soldiers to
population was still more striking. East Prussia contributed then seven
per cent, of its inhabitants, each seventh man was sent to the war;
there remained scarcely any but children and old people in the country,
very few from 18 to 40.

The amount of the population is reckoned according to the last official
census of 1810. Prussia, after the peace of Tilsit, had been obliged to
cede New Silesia to Poland, and thus since 1806 had lost more than
300,000 men. No increase, therefore, of the population can be assumed
up to the spring of 1813. The chief fortresses, also, were in the hands
of the French, and their inhabitants should be deducted from any
calculation of the efforts of the people. According to the proportion
of 1813, Berlin as at present, could bring into the field an army of
from 23,000 to 25,000 men; Leipzig, four battalions; and the Dukedom of
Coburg-Gotha seven battalions, amounting to 1000 men.]

[Footnote 48: Schlosser, "Erlebnisse inns Sachsischen Landpredigers,"
from 1806 to 1815, p. 66. The foreign nations, Portuguese and Italians,
were more moderate.]

[Footnote 49: Schlosser, "Erlebnisse," p. 129.]

[Footnote 50: It may be allowable to introduce here some extracts from
the receipts which Heun brought forward in the newspapers. What was
placed at the head of them was accidental, especially as his lists only
enumerate a very small number of the donations, none of those from East
Prussia are mentioned. We must begin with the first patriotic gift,
which was announced publicly in 1813. About New Year's Day, long before
the volunteer rifles were equipped, the Roman Catholic community at
Marienburg, in West Prussia, placed all the plate of their church that
could be dispensed with at the disposal of the State (it was about 100
marks), begging, as they could not give away church property, for the
interest of the value of the silver in the future. But the first money
contribution noted down by Heun, was from a master tailor, Hans
Hofmann, at Breslau, 100 thalers. The first who gave horses were the
peasants Johann Hinz, in Deutsch-Borgh, Bailiwick of Saarmünd, and
Meyer, at Elsholz, of the same Bailiwick; the last had only two horses.
The first who gave oats, 100 scheffel, was one Axleben. The first who
sent their golden wedding-rings, expressing the hope that much gold
might be collected if all would do the same, were the lottery-collector
Rollin and his wife, at Stettin. The first officials who resigned a
part of their salary were Professor Hermbstädt, at Berlin, 250 thalers;
Professor Gravenhorst, at Breslau, the half of his salary, and
Professor David Schultz, 100 thalers. The first who gave a portion of
his fortune was an unnamed official; of 4000 thalers he gave 1000. The
first who sent his plate was Count Sandretzky, at Manze, in Silesia,
value 1700 thalers, besides three beautiful horses; a servant of the
chancery, four silver spoons; anonymous, 2000 thalers; an old soldier,
his only gold piece, value forty thalers; anonymous, three gold
snuff-boxes, with diamonds, value 5300 thalers; an old woman, from a
little town, a pair of woollen stockings.]

[Footnote 51: 10,000 volunteer riflemen, and about the half of the
irregulars, amounting to 2500 men, were equipped in the old provinces,
together with 1500 horses. Putting the cost of each foot-rifleman at 60
thalers, and that of a horseman at 230 thalers,--the price of horses
was high,--the amount is 1,150,000 thalers, which is certainly too low.
And the pay and extras, given by private persons to individual
riflemen, are not reckoned.]

[Footnote 52: The Editor is indebted for much of this to a record of
the worth Oberregierungsrath Hackel.]

[Footnote 53: From Family Reminiscences.]

[Footnote 54: Record of the Appellations-gerichtsrath Tepler, who
himself, as a boy, went to the field with the Landsturm against the
French at Magdeburg.]

[Footnote 55: She lives in Berlin, and is now mother of a large
family.]

[Footnote 56: From the diary of the pastor, Frieke, at Bunzlau.]

[Footnote 57: Scene from the fight at Goldberg, on the 23rd August,
from the account of an eye-witness.]

[Footnote 58: Thus, on the 22nd of May, at Bunzlau, during the retreat
after the battle of Bautzen, the prisoners, red Hussars, lay in the
suburb near the Galgenteich.]

[Footnote 59: Vossische Zeitung, No. 45, from the 15th April.]

[Footnote 60: Now a practising doctor at Halle. The account is from the
mouth of the worthy man.]



                                THE END.



               BRADBURY AND EVANS, PRINTERS, WHITEFRIARS.





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