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1773. • driven away, cruelly maltreated. “ Vexa Lutheranum, dabit * Thalerum (wring the Lutheran, he has money in him),” became the current Proverb of the Poles in regard to Germans. A Protestant Starost of Gnesen, a Herr von Unruh of the House ' of Birnbaum, one of the largest proprietors of the country, was
condemned to die, and first to have his tongue pulled out and ' his hands cut off,—for the crime of having copied into his Notebook some strong passages against the Jesuits, extracted ' from German Books. Patriotic “Confederates of Bar,” joined by all the plunderous vagabonds around, went roaming and
ravaging through the country, falling upon small towns and 'German villages. The Polish Nobleman, Roskowski' (a celebrated “symbolical" Nobleman, this), put on one red boot and
one black, symbolising fire and death; and in this guise rode ' about, murdering and burning, from place to place; finally, at Jastrow, he cut off the hands, feet, and lastly the head of the Protestant Pastor, Willich by name, and threw the limbs ' into a swamp. This happened in 1768.'
In what State Friedrich found the Polish Provinces. Some ' few only of the larger German Towns, which were secured by walls, and some protected Districts inhabited exclusively by Germans, -as the Niederung near Danzig, the Villages under the mild rule of the Cistercians of Oliva, and the opulent German towns of the Catholic Ermeland, were in tolerable circumstances. The other Towns lay in ruins; so also most of 'the Hamlets (Höfe) of the open Country. Bromberg, the city
of German Colonists, the Prussians found in heaps and ruins : 'to this hour it has not been possible to ascertain clearly how the « Town came into this condition. No historian, no document,
tells of the destruction and slaughter that had been going on, in the whole District of the Netze there, during the last ten 6 years before the arrival of the Prussians. The Town of Culm ' had preserved its strong old walls and stately churches; but in the streets, the necks of the cellars stood out above the rotten timber and brick heaps of the tumbled houses : whole streets consisted merely of such cellars, in which wretched people were still trying to live. Of the forty houses in the large Market
45 "Neue Preussische Provinzialblätter, Year 1854, No. 4, p. 259.'
1773. place of Culm, twenty-eight had no doors, no roofs, no windows, and no owners. Other towns were in similar condition.'
“The Country people hardly knew such a thing as bread; many had never in their life tasted such a delicacy; few Villages possessed an oven. A weaving-loom was rare, the spinning-wheel - unknown. The main article of furniture, in this bare scene of
squalor, was the Crucifix and vessel of Holy-Water under it,' —(and “ Polack! Catholik !" if a drop of gin be added).—The • Peasant-Noble' (unvoting, inferior kind) “was hardly different
from the common Peasant; he himself guided his Hook-Plough ' (Hacken-pflug), and clattered with his wooden slippers upon the ' plankless floor of his hut.' * * 'It was a desolate land, without discipline, without law, without a master. On 9,000 English square miles lived 500,000 souls : not 55 to the square mile.'
Sets to Work. "The very rottenness of the Country became an attraction for Friedrich ; and henceforth West-Preussen was, what hitherto Silesia had been, his favourite child; which, with ' infinite care, like that of an anxious loving mother, he washed,
brushed, new-dressed, and forced to go to school and into orderly habits, and kept ever in his eye. The diplomatic
squabbles about this “ acquisition” were still going on, when ' he had already sent (so early as June 4th, 1772, and still more on September 13th of that Year46) “a body of his best Official 6
People into this waste-howling scene, to set about organising it. • The Landschaften (Counties) were divided into small Circles; ' in a minimum of time, the land was valued, and an equal tax put upon it; every Circle received its Landrath, Law-court,
Post-office, and Sanitary Police. New Parishes, each with its • Church and Parson, were called into existence as by miracle; 'a company of 187 Schoolmasters,--partly selected and trained
by the excellent Semler' (famous over Germany, in Halle University and Seminarium, not yet in England),— were sent into “the Country; multitudes of German Mechanics too, from brick'makers up to machine-builders. Everywhere there began a digging, a hammering, a building; Cities were peopled anew;
45 See his new Dialogue with Roden, our Wesel acquaintance, who was a principal Captain in this business (in Preuss, iv. 57, 58: date of the Dialogue is ‘11th May 1772;—Roden was on the ground, 4th June next; but, owing to Austrian delays, did not begin till September 13th).
1773. street after street rose out of the heaps of ruins; new Villages of Colonists were laid out, new modes of agriculture ordered. 'In the first Year after taking possession, the great Canaľ (of Bromberg) was dug; which, in a length of fifteen miles, con
nects, by the Netze River, the Weichsel with the Oder and the · Elbe: within one year after giving the order, the King saw ' loaded vessels from the Oder, 120 feet in length of keel,' and of 40 tons burden, enter the Weichsel. The vast breadths of land, gained from the state of swamp by drainage into this Canal, were immediately peopled by German Colonists.
“As his Seven-Years Struggle of War may be called superhuman, so was there also in his present Labour of Peace something enormous ; which appeared to his contemporaries' (unless my fancy mislead me) “almost preternatural, at times 'inhuman. It was grand, but also terrible, that the success of the whole was to him, at all moments, the one thing to be striven after; the comfort of the individual of no concern at
all. When, in the Marshland of the Netze, he counted more the strokes of the 10,000 spadles, than the sufferings of the workers, sick with the marsh-fever in the hospitals which he
had built for them :47 when, restless, his demands outran the quickest performance,—there united itself to the deepest reverence and devotedness, in his People, a feeling of awe, as for one whose limbs are not moved by earthly life' (fanciful, considerably!). And when Goethe, himself become an old man, ' finished his last Drama' (Second Part of Faust), 'the figure of
the old King again rose on him, and stept into his Poem; and “his Faust got transformed into an unresting, creating, pitilessly exacting Master, forcing-on his salutiferous drains and fruitful canals through the morasses of the Weichsel.248
These statements and pencillings of Freytag, apart from here and there a flourish of poetic sentiment, I believe my readers can accept as essentially true, and a correct portrait of the fact. And therewith, con la bocca dolce, we will rise from this Supper of Horrors. That
47 Compare Preuss, iv. 60-71.
48 G. Freytag, Neue Bilder aus dem Leben des deutschen Volkes (Leipzig, 1862), pp. 397-408.
1773. Friedrich fortified the Country, that he built an impregnable Graudentz, and two other Fortresses, rendering the Country, and himself on that Eastern side, impregnable henceforth, all readers can believe. Friedrich has been building various Fortresses in this interim, though we have taken no notice of them; building and repairing many things;-trimming up his Military quite to the old pitch, as the most particular thing of all. He has his new Silesian Fortress of Silberberg,-big Fortress, looking into certain dangerous Bohemian Doors (in Tobias Stusche's Country, if readers recollect an old adventure now mythical);—his new Silesian Silberberg, his newer Polish Graudentz, and many others, and flatters himself he is not now pregnable on any side.
A Friedrich working, all along, in Poland especially, amid what circumambient deluges of maledictory outcries, and mendacious shriekeries from an ill-informed Public, is not now worth mentioning. Mere distracted rumours, of the Pamphleteer and Newspaper kind; which, after hunting them a long time, through dense and rare, end mostly in zero, and angry darkness of some poor human brain, -or even testify in favour of this Head-Worker, and of the sense he shows, especially of the patience. For example: that of the · Polish Towns and Villages, ordered by this Tyrant ' to deliver, each of them, so many marriageable girls; * each girl to bring with her as dowry, furnished by her
parents, 1 feather-bed, 4 pillows, 1 cow, 3 swine, and "3 ducats,'—in which desirable condition this tyrannous King sent her into the Brandenburg States to be wedded and promote population.°49 Feather-beds, swine
49 Lindsey, Letters on Poland (Letter 2d), p. 61 ; Peyssonnel (in some French Book of his, solemnly presented to Louis XVI and the Constituent Assembly: cited in Preuss, iv. 85); &c. &c.
1773. and ducats, had their value in Brandenburg; but were girls such a scarcity there? Most extraordinary new Rape of the Sabines ; for which Herr Preuss can find no basis or source,—nor can I; except in the brain of Reverend Lindsey and his loud Letters on Poland above mentioned.
Dantzig too, and the Harbour-dues, what a case! Dantzig Harbour, that is to say, Netze River, belongs mainly to Friedrich, Dantzig City not,—such the Czarina's lofty whim, in the late Partition Treatyings; not good to contradict, in the then circumstances; still less afterwards, though it brought chicanings more than enough. “And she was not ill-pleased to keep this thorn in the King's foot for her own conveniences,' thinks the King; though, mainly, he perceives that it is the English acting on her grandiose mind: English, who were apprehensive for their Baltic trade under this new Proprietor, and who egged on an ambitious Czarina to protect Human Liberty, and an inflated Dantzig Bürgermeister to stand up for ditto; and made a dismal shriekery in the Newspapers, and got into dreadful illhumour with said Proprietor of Dantzig Harbour, and have never quite recovered from it to this day. Lindsey's Polish Letters are very loud again on this occasion, aided by his Seven Dialogues on Poland; concerning which, partly for extinct Lindsey's sake, let us cite one small passage, and so wind up.
March 2d, 1775, in answer to Voltaire, Friedrich writes:
“ The Polish Dialogues you speak of ( are not known to me. I think of such Satires, with “ Epictetus: “If they tell any truth of thee, correct
thyself; if they are lies, laugh at them. I have “ learned, with years, to become a steady coach-horse; "I do my stage, like a diligent roadster, and pay no