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Ant. Frid. Bufchings Befchreibung feiner Reife von Berlin uber Potsdam nach Reckan. 8vo. Leipzig. 1775.8vo. Leipzig. 1775.Bulching's Defcription of his Tour from Berlin, by Po:fdam, to Reckan.
(By a German CORRESPONDENT.)
THIS Author acknowledges, that he has no tale for travelling, confidered as a diverfion; he might have added, that he is equally deftitute of tafle in defcribing his travels. He feems to have published this five days tour in order to give vent to fome of his geographical collectanea, to figure with fome political propofals, and to make compliments to all the honourables and reverends whom he met with in his journey. But, be that as it may, the Author is known, from feveral valuable publications, to be an excellent compiler of geographical facts; and in that quality he has obliged us, in this performance, by many particular accounts of that part of the electorate of Brandenburgh, which, above any other, has been improved and embellished by the late and prefent Kings of Pruffia.
The monopoly and duties of the fnuff and tobacco trade being, in most of the European kingdoms, one of the chief revenues of the state, we do not wonder to find it established in Pruffia. It produces, befide a yearly dividend of ten per cent. amongst the proprietors of the company (which confifts of a thousand members) a clear income to the King; which feems to exceed the revenue from his confiderable domains in the marchés of Brandenburgh.
The tobacco planted in the different Pruffian dominions, must be fold at 11, 12, or 13 s. per hundred weight to an officer of the company. This feems to bear very hard upon the planters. The Virginia tobacco imported from London and Hamburgh cofts at Berlin from 2 1. to 2 l. 10 s. or more, per hundred weight. By a natural confequence of this monopolizing company, manufactured tobacco and fnuff are dear commodities in Pruffia; but foreigners having confiderable drawbacks allowed, vast quantities are exported to Saxony and Poland.
The late King of Pruffia made Berlin one of the most capital cities, both in refpect to extent and regularity; the present King has made it one of the most elegant and beautiful cities in Europe. Befide a great number of public magnificent buildings, the Crown hath, at its own expence, raifed, in the moft confpicuous ftree:s, vaft numbers of houfes; and thefe have been made a prefent of to the proprietors of the ground, or of the old infignificant houses, which difgraced the place, and were, therefore, pulled down.
This royal bounty and magnificence hath introduced a good tafte in architecture into Pruffia; and it is amazing what enormous fums the prefent King, hath, fince the lait war, and especially fince 1769, spent in public and private build
ings even to the amount of many millions. This has improved the property of many, and given employment to thoufands. Some, however, are of opinion, that this royal liberality hath an ill effect on property in houses, in so far as it lowers the rent; but that is a mistake, and a very illiberal mifreprefentation of the King's generofity. It is fact, that houserent, ever fince the year 1769, has been obferved to fink, not only at Berlin, but almoft every where in Germany: nay, houfes fell even at Hamburgh in the proportion of one-third part of their former rates. This finking of the rent muft, therefore, be owing to fome other general cause.
The china manufactory at Berlin has been, fince 1763, carried on for his Majefty's account, with fuccefs, and with good taste. Five hundred men have conftant employment in it; no foreign china is imported; and vaft quantities are annually exported from Berlin.
We have the following account of the increase of Berlin, in buildings and population:
which fhort calculation plainly shows how infignificant it was before 1617, how much reduced by the miferies of the Swedish and Austrian war in 1645, and how greatly improved under the two laft Kings. The houfes are generally fpacious, high, airy, and elegant. They were infured in 1775 for the fum of fixteen millions of dollars, or 2,650,000 1.
The inhabitants of Berlin were
We pafs over many other particulars, and haften, with the Author, through feveral villages, to Potfdam, Sans-Souci, and the New Palace.
San-Souci is one of the most elegant country-feats of the King, as well in refpect to fituation, as of its gardens, buildings,
furniture, and noble decorations. The Author gives fome accounts of it, from p. 73-97. It was built under the Royal Philofopher's direction, by Baron Knobelsdorf; and is the common refidence of the King. How it happened that Marshall, in his late Travels, came to tell the untravelling English, that Sans-Souci is a feparated room, or apartment, in a garden, and that his whole defcription of it is contained in this meagre line, is a matter above our comprehenfion. Had he feen, or only heard of it, from true report, he must have pronounced it the gayeft and most elegant retirement ever inhabited by any King, we need not add, or by any Philofopher.
The new palace near Potsdam, finished in 1770, is one of the greatest and nobleft works of architecture that hath been raised in the prefent age, and deferves, in every respect, a better description, than that which the Author has given us, of its vaft extent, furniture, and decorations. M. Bufching is, indeed, a very good geographer, but a little deficient in that taste, and in those principles and feelings, by the affiftance of which he would have had much to fee, and much to fay of this great object.
The accounts here given of the admirable police at Potsdam, are worthy of particular attention; but we must not extend this Article beyond its proportioned limits, Potfdam, which is the King's winter refidence, is the most elegant, the moft magnificent, and the moft fingular city in Europe, being erected in a very picturefque fituation, and embellished with the greatest variety of excellent architecture. Many new houfes, on the fineft ancient and modern plans, and at the rate of 1000 or 25001. each, have been raifed by the prefent King, and presented to the inhabitants. Together with the magnificence and good tafte of the public buildings, fuch as palaces, churches, cafernes, workhouses, and hofpitals, they exhibit the richest architectonical views that are any where to be feen. There are not lefs than 1977 public and private buildings. The garrison confifts of 7970 men,-wives, children, and fervants included. The inhabitants amount to 26,968 men. It hath been the principle of the late and of the prefent King not only to encourage population, but, efpecially, with paternal care, to provide for the fupport of their encreafing fubjects. Hence those various encouragements given to husbandry and manufactures, moft of which have been attended with fuccefs. The little manufactories established, especially for the poorer inhabitants, at Potfdam, produced, in 1774, finished articles, to the amount of 400,000 dollars, or about 70,000 1.
The eftablishment for military orphans, or the children of foldiers, evinces the wifdom and genius of the King. It
is an excellent nurfery for manufactures, and for the arm. The noble building belonging to it contained, in 1774, 2203 boys and girls, betide great numbers of outpenfioners.
The plantations of mulberry-trees have, ever fince 1719, been eftablished by royal bounties. The country parlons and schoolmasters were greatly benefitted by the royal orders, which, in 1752, directed them to employ their idle bands in planting this useful tree in church-gardens, and watte grounds. The filk manufacture was a natural confequence of them, and has been attended with fuccefs. The raw filk produced, during the year 1774, in the marches of Brandenburg, Magdeburg, Halberstadt, and Pomerania only, amounted to 10.500 lb. which is nearly the third part of that commodity ufed and worked every year in the Pruilian filk manufactories.
The Author's chief motive to this journey, was to make a vifit to Baron Rochet, at Reckan, near Brandenburg; and, as we have with pleasure given the above account of fome eftablishments of wife Kings, we fpeak with fimilar approbation of this refpectable friend of mankind, who, though noble by birth, feems to be a natural brother of our GOOD Man of Refs, celebrated by Pope. He ferved, in the laft war, in the Pruffian armies, and was wounded in the battles of Lowofiz; after which he retired from the fervice, in order to live, at his country feat, a philofophical life, equally for his own comfort, and for the benefit of mankind; but especially for that of the poorer fort of people belonging to his eftates:-which, by his excellent plans he has improved; together with the morals and happiness of his dependants. A noble example for country gentlemen, in an age which is equally famous for good reafoning, and for depravity, and neglect of manners and principles. Many years ago this gentleman had felt the deficiency of private and public education; and he was easily convinced by Profefior Bafedow's late publications, that mankind in general might be greatly improved by rational education. This appeared the more confpicuous to him in the lower clafs of country people, whofe common education is not calculated to make them good hufbandmen, or tradefmen, or fervants; it only makes them ignorant Chriftians, and teaches them, very indifferently, to read and write, with a little arithmetic. For thefe reafons he published, in 1772, A School-Book for the Chil dren of Country People; and, in 1773, a reading book, called, The Friend of Children. Thefe do not confift of declamatory fchemes on education, but are adapted to practical ufe. The good Baron did not top here; he did more, by establishing country fchools at his own expence, on his eftates at Reckan and Gettin.
We add, with farther fatisfaction, that the King, in 1772, made a donation of 20,000 1. in order to fet the country fchoolmafters in the marches of Brandenburg upon an equality in pant of falary that the Baron has raifed the penfions of his fchoolmasters; and that he diftinguishes the deferving teachers with condefcending civility, in order to make the hitherto unjuitly defpifed condition of fchoolmafters appear with that credit in which it ought to be held, by every fincere friend of man
The general remarks on the marches of Brandenburg will furnish very acceptable matter for our political calculators; and we are tempted to fill the measure of our prolixity by the following particulars:
The marches of Brandenburg contain 636 German square miles, and 864,573 inhabitants, excluding the garrifons; this makes 1359 inhabitants upon a furface of a fquare mile. The garrifons,-wives, children, and fervants included, confifted, in 1774, at Berlin and Potsdam, of 37.510, and in the smaller places, of 19,00o men; upon the whole, of 56,510 men; fo that the number of all the inhabitants is 921,083, which makes, for a fquare mile, 1646.
France has about 1800 inhabitants for a fimilar furface,
The Pruffian part of Silefia contains a fquare furface of 709 German miles, and, in 1774, 1,345,877 inhabitants, excluding the garrifons; which, upon the above fuppofitions, gives 1921 inhabitants for a German mile.
In 1774 the King had established 6000 new families of colonists in the marches, and is refolved to settle 1600 more,
The annual contributions to the King are nearly equal to what the fubjects pay in France and Denmark, about five dollars, or 16 s. per head.
The proportion of native foldiers to the number of the country people, which in Pruffia are alone obliged to ferve, is as 64 15 to 367,208; that is to fay, the 29th part of the male inhabitants of the country are in actual fervice; which is indeed a lower proportion than we fhould have expected from the conftitution of Pruffia, and its numerous standing armies.