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instruments raised up by Providence for that transcendent work, did not fail to make skilful and vigorous use.
We have no present motive for discussing the now obliterated changes introduced into the Germanic constitution by Napoleon ; but we can have no hesitation in expressing our strong disapprobation of the plans adopted by the Allied powers in their dissolution of the Rhenish confederation and their construction of a semifeudal, semifederative system. If justice-justice on their own principles, we mean—bad been their object, it required something like the re-establishment of the former regime'; but if a sincere regard to the common weal had actuated tbem, we should have have heard nothing of the adjustments, absorptions, extensions, and mediatizations, by which they have arbitrarily, and as we apprehend, injuriously, altered the political aspect of Europe, and interposed formidable obstacles to the ascertainment and consolidation of civil and religious freedom. Not that we cherish much sympathy for the small princes and chieftains themselves who have been so unceremoniously ousted; nor that we regard the old system with any other feeling than with cordial dislike, and with sincere wishes for the substitution of a better; but we condemn the arrangements of the Allies, because we are Unable to trace in them that enlightened solicitude for the independence of sovereigns, the liberty of subjects, and the happiness of nations, which the royal and noble negociators on all occasions clamorously professed. There was a fine opportunity for the proof of their sincerity, presented to them in the condition of the free cities and states of the Empire, and, to speak in courteous phrase, they neglected it. There is no part of German history on which the mind and memory dwell with greater interest, than on the rise, vicissitudes, and decay of those privileged establishments. In the olden time of Germany. her
merchants were princes,' and wbatever might be the defects of their mercantile policy, whatever of error or of ambition might occasionally sully the internal rule or the honourable rivalry of the commercial states, there was a republican energy in their character, a boldness and a grandeur in their enterprises, which amply redeemed their vices, and almost authorized the occasional extravagance of their pretensions. In the dark periods of the Empire, they wereits best resources ; in its better days, they were its proudest boast. Amid surrounding deserts of despotisrn and poverty, they were as rich oases, flourishing in all the wealth of commerce, and in as large an enjoyment of the blessings of freedom as theconditions of mortality and the circumstances of political science would permit. Gradually, but forcibly and completely swept away by the tide of despotic encroachment and military violence, sound policy, the state of Europe, and the claims of man's moral and intellectual nature demanded their restoration. But the same
cold and selfish calculations which consigned Venice to Austria, and Genoa to Sardinia, rejected the appeal, and while affecting to re-establish four out of the number, left even these the mere • shadows of a mighty name,' holding a precarious existence at the mercy of the stronger powers by whom they are sorrounded. A pretty intelligible intimation of the kind of freedom which they are suffered to retain, is suggested by the affair of Colonel Massenbach. He was obnoxious to the Prussian Government, and sought safety in the free and indepeodent city of Frankfort; his asylum was insulted by the demand of the Prussian ambassador, that he should be given up, and the magistrates were under the necessity of compliance. We are equally at a loss to guess the principle on which many of the general divisions and allotments of territory were made. How sagaciously soever they may have been partitioned, and with whatever regard to strength and compactness they may in reality have been assigned to their possessors, they certainly make a very strange and uncouth appearance in the map. Such interlinkings and insulations of states, such sections and separations of the same country: here, the king of Bavaria obliged to request permission of his brother, or cousin, of Wirtemburg to cross his kingdom, before he can reach bis duchy of Deuxponts; there, the grand duchy of Hesse flanked and cut in two by the Electorate of the same name; in a third direction, the kingdom of Hanover winding and insinuating a long excresence between two fractions of the duchy of Brunswick. If we add to this strange and whimsical tesselation, the little counties, margraviates, and principalities, with their small patches of country, set in the midst of the larger states, we shall then bave a faint idea of the condition in which Germany was left by those to whom its final settlement was committed.
The volume before us, from which these reminiscences have detained us a little too long, contains a number of miscellaneous and desultory, but very amusiog sketches of government, society, habits, and scenery, put together, ostensibly, during a tour aiņong some of the Rhenish states. We have not the smallest suspicion that the adventures and associations described by the Writer, really occurred in his personal experience; but we have as little hesitation in ascribing to him a fair portion of local knowledge, and a coosiderable acquaintance with the individuals both animate and inanimate who figure in his pages. Altogether, he has produced a very agreeable book, which will afford not only gratification, but considerable information on subjects which are, though much the matter of common conversation, very little familiar to general knowledge.
Mentz, the first important object occurring in these letters, presents a melancholy contrast to its former prosperity under
the ecclesiastical government. When, about thirty years since, Dr. Moore passed through this city, he was gratified by the siglot of trim ecclesiastics with their smart equipages, and their well-drilled, and smooth-shaved soldiery.
• The chapter and the grenadiers have now changed places. You see the meagre occupants of the pillaged stalls skulking to mass in threadbare soutanes, their looks proclaiming them no longer the monopolizers of the old Hock of the neighbourhood; while the Austrian and Prussian soldiers, to the number of 14,000, are rioting in the insolence of lawless superiority. The cafes', the billiardrooms, the promenades are crammed with these smoking and swaggering guests, come to give a sort of unhallowed vivacity to the mouldering haunts of the monks. The university-building is a barrack, and hospitals and guard-rooms strike one at every corner.'
The grand duke of Hesse is a respectable old gentleman, very musically and liberally inclined, but rather averse from trusting his subjects with too much liberty. At Darmstadt, the capital of the duchy, the Writer states himself to have been introduced to the admirable duchess of Saxe Weimar, who has nobly supported her husband in maintaining the high literary credit of the inost enlightened court in Germany. An alınost quaker-like simplicity of attire, a sensible though somewhat homely cast of features, with great ease and dignity of manner, distinguish this excellent woman, who, after the battle of Jena, succeeded, by her firm and prudent conduct, in procuring from Napoleon, an exemption from military visitation for her palace and capital. Some very good and spirited description of the fêtes and amusements of the Hessian court and nobility, occurs in this part of the work. At Frapkfort, one of the four cities of Germany entitled free,' there still existed, as in Mentz and many other large towns, a strong sensation of regret for the absence of the French troops. They were civil if treated with civility, and were generally well furnished with money which they spent freely. In this city is held the Diet, composed of seventeen plenipotentiaries in ordinary cases, but as there is a good deal of whimsical complication in the appointment of votes, it sometimes happens that these seventeen deliberators are multiplied into sixty-nine. As yet, this admirable body, has done precisely nothing, and it is not, we imagine, probable that it will ever do any more: it does not seem to be the will of its masters that this mock-senate should exert itself effectually for the benefit of the German people.
At Wilhelmsbad, the Traveller was on the territory of the Electorate of Hesse Cassel, whose ruler seems to consider himself as the absolute proprietor of his subjects, and is well-known to Englishmen as the contractor for supplying the British government with so many gross of soldiers at so much per head. This very unamiable personage is said to be weak, tenacious, and avaricious, far advanced in years, and ornamented with a prodigious excrescence on his neck. It should not, however, be omitted, that with all bis tyranny and singularities, be deals very moderately with his people in the article of taxation.
Carlsrube, the court residence of the grand duke of Baden, is a handsome town with a new church, which we notice as being the work of Weinbrenner, a living German architect, of high, but, if we may trust our critical Author, rather exaggerated reputation. Of this boasted production the Corinthian columns are described as “thick and gouty,' and the pediment of the portico, as 'awkwardly perched in the air.' The interior is decorated with 'gigantic stained columns with gaudy gilt
capitals, and with finical ornaments superinduced upon a
grand outline.' The reigning duke is a weak and indolent, but well disposed man, who keeps up his army to an oppressive peace establishment of 8000 men, including the enormous and absurd appointment of no less than thirty three general officers; a proportion of about one general to 250 privates! . He was, unfortunately for himself and his people, an only son and a spoiled child; bis habits are consequently expensive, and his intentions vacillating. He has not yet given to his subjects the expected constitution, and refers them on this point to the decisions of the Diet. That worthy and valuable body take the bint from their masters, and employ ample time in deliberation on so grave a matter. They may, however, protract as they please; the concession may be somewhat later iban is gracious or even prudent; but the public spirit of Germany is roused, and the promised meliorations in the general system of government, cannot, with safety, be much longer withheld. Baden, the capital of the old Margraviate, is well described. Its hot springs and gaming tables seem to constitute its principal attractions as a place of fashionable resort, but to the lovers of picturesque situation and of secret history, the finely sbattered old castle, crowning the woody summit of a rocky height, presents a much more impressive object. Its subterranean passages and dungeons are supposed to bave been the dark and mysterious court of a Vehm Gericht or secret tribunal. Of this dreadful institution, a well-written account is still a desideratum, though the general outline of its history is commonly known, and is given in brief in the present work. A more detailed, though far from sufficient collection of particulars, was published, some years since, in a small pamphlet by Mr. Coxe, and some very interesting illustrations will be found in the German romance of Herman of Unna. In the fifteenth century, when the power of this fearful tribunal was at its height, it marshalled in its ranks, 100,000 free judges, bound by a terrible oath, unknown to society at
large, but recognising each other by a secret sign. Its proceedings were summary and sanguinary, and its sentences were entrusted for execution to the daggers of its countless assassins.
« The officers of the tribunal stole the night to a Castle or a town, and affixed, on the gates, a judicial summons to this Prince or that citizen to appear at the Frei Stuhl, at a given time and place, to be examined on a given matter. If the summons was repeated three times, without effect, the accused was condemned, par contumace, once more summoped—and if that proved fruitless, outlawed and hanged by the road-side whenever caught. If he resisted he was bored through the body, bound to the tree, and left with the executioner's knife sticking by him, to show that he was not murdered, but a convict of the Frei Gericht. The tribunal used to assemble at midnight, in the church-yard of the place where they intended to hold a sitting. At break of day, the ringing of the bells announced to the inhabitants the presence of these formidable visitors. All were obliged to assemble in an open field, sitting down in a circle, in the middle of which sat the President and Judges of the Tribunal—the insignia of a sword and rope before them. When any one of bad reputation appeared in the circle, one of the Judges would step up to him, and touching him with his white staff, say to him-“ Friend, there is as good bread to be eaten elsewhere as here.” If the conscience of the person was so clear that he did not choose to take the hint and go away, he might sit still and run the chance of accusation ; but it was generally more prudent to decamp. When the Judge touched any one, three times, with the formidable white wand, it was a signal that he was a hapless convict already secretly accused and convicted ; and no time was lost in hanging him at the next tree or beam which presented itself. This was the invariable punishment of criminals of all ranks; although now it is out of use in Germany, and the meanest criminals have the honour of decapitation. The youngest Judge generally performed the office, which was managed with so much secrecy that the hangman was rarely known. The crimes taken cognizance of by the Vehm Gericht, were chiefly heresy, infidelity, sacrilege, high treason, murder, incendiarism, rapes, robbery, and contumacy to the Tribunal, iis Judges and Messengers.' p. 221–222.
At length, however, the iniquities and oppressions of this tribunal became intolerable: the sovereigns of Germany united their efforts to suppress it, and at the close of the sixteenth century, it was extinct.
Wirtemberg, the next in this wilderness of sovereignties, is a compact territory. The King is an active man of talent, courage, and firmness, of a small but important figure, reserved and little polite, possessing more intellect than feeling, but considered warm and hearty in his attachments.!. H as been at variance with the states of his kingdom, on the subject of the new constitution; and if the matter be correctly stated by the present Writer, he seems to bave offered fair and reasonable concessions, while the states appear to have insisted upon points