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Title: Pictures of German Life in the XVIIIth and XIXth Centuries, Vol. II.

Author: Gustav Freytag

Translator: Mrs. Malcolm

Release date: September 29, 2010 [eBook #33819]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Charles Bowen, from page scans provided by the Web Archive


Transcriber's Note:
1. Page scan source:









In the XVIIIth and XIXth Centuries.

Second Series.



Translated from the Original by










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


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


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


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


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


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


Second Series.




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 manœuvre 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 manœuvred 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.




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 manœuvres, 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, 16th 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.




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.




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 manœuvres 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.




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.




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.


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.


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.

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

  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.

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

Footnote 13: Œuvres, 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: Œuvres, 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.