Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

of instruction, others, called Schools of Industry, were established in the regiments, where the soldiers and their children were taught various kinds of work, and from whence they were supplied with raw materials to work for their own emolument. As nothing is so certainly fatal to morals as habitual idleness, every possible means was adopted that could be devised to introduce a spirit of industry among the troops. Every encouragement was given to the soldiers to employ their leisure time when they were off duty in working for their own emolument; and among other encouragements, the most efficacious of all, that of allowing them full liberty to dispose of the money acquired by their labour in anyway they should think proper, without being obliged to give any account of it to anybody.” Besides working at their various trades for such as chose to employ them, the soldiers were employed as labourers" in all public works, such as making and repairing highways, draining marshes, repairing the banks of rivers, &c.; and in all such cases the greatest care was taken to provide for their comfortable subsistence, and even for their amusement. To preserve good order and harmony among those who were detached upon these working parties, a certain proportion of officers and non-commissioned officers were always sent with them, and these commonly served as overseers of the works, and as such were paid.”

The particular plan, however, which enabled Thompson, while he was improving the personal condition of the soldier, and turning the peace-establishment to greater account than before for the general good of the country, at the same time to diminish greatly the expense of its support, was that of permanent garrisons. The whole army was distributed through the various cities of the electorate, each city being garrisoned by troops drawn from the surrounding district. This plan possessed many advantages. “A peasant would more readily consent to his son engaging himself to serve as a soldier in a regiment permanently stationed in his neighbourhood, than in one at a great distance, or whose destination was uncertain; and when the station of a regiment is permanent, and it receives its recruits from the district of country immediately surrounding its head-quarters, the men who go home on furlough have but a short journey to make, and are easily assembled in case of an emergency.” Every encouragement was given to all who could be spared from garrison duty to go home on furlough; an arrangement which was both agreeable to the men—who, during their absence, might be cultivating their little family farms, or otherwise employing themselves at any trade—and economical for the state, because, while the men were on furlough, they received

no pay, but only their rations. Thus, while in every garrison town there remained a sufficient nucleus of men to do garrison-duty, and who, while

[ocr errors][merged small]

receiving full military pay, were at liberty to earn additional money during their leisure time by extra work, the greater part of the army were distributed through the community, pursuing the ordinary occupations of citizens, but ready to assemble at a few hours' notice, and bound to be in the field at least six weeks every year. The assumed necessity for such a state of military preparation gives one a striking idea of the condition of the continent at this epoch.

Not content with the mere negative achievement of organising the army, so that “it should do the least possible harm,” Thompson endeavoured to make it an instrument of positive good. His plan of permanent garrisons and easy furloughs, by establishing a constant flux of men to and from a centre, suggested the somewhat novel idea of making the army the medium for spreading useful improvements of all kinds through the country. Supposing, for instance, that pains were taken to teach the soldiers in garrison any useful art not then known in Bavaria, but which might be naturalised there, it is obvious that when these men were distributed over the country on furloughs, they would carry with them not only their own superior industrial habits, but art itself.

The improvement of Bavarian agriculture by this means was one of Thompson's most anxious wishes. Very few of the recent improvements in that art, he says, such as the cultivation of clover and turnips, the regular succession of crops, &c. had then found their way into general practice; and, above all, the potato was almost unknown in Bavaria. With a view to introduce a better system of agriculture, and especially with a view to naturalise the potato among the Bavarians, Thompson devised the system of military gardens --that is, “pieces of ground in or adjoining to the garrison towns, which were regularly laid out, and exclusively appropriated to the use of the non-commissioned officers and private soldiers belonging to the regiments in garrison.”. In these gardens every, private soldier was assigned a piece of ground, about three hundred and sixty-five square feet in extent. This piece of ground was to remain the sole property of that soldier so long as he served in the regiment; he was to be at liberty to cultivate it in any way, and to dispose of the produce in any way, he chose; if, however, he did not choose to work in it, but wished rather to spend his pay in idleness, he might do so; but in that case the piece of ground was to be taken from him, and so also if he neglected it. Every means was used to attach the soldiers to their garden labour : seeds and manure were furnished them at a cheap rate; whatever instruction was necessary, was given them; and little huts or summer-houses were erected in the gardens, to afford them shelter when it rained. “The effect of the plan," says Rumford, “was much greater and more important than I could have expected. The soldiers, from being the most indolent of mortals, and from having very little knowledge of

gardening, became industrious and skilful cultivators, and grew so fond of vegetables, particularly of potatoes, that these useful and wholesome productions began to constitute a very essential part of their daily food. These improvements began also to spread among the farmers and peasants throughout the whole country. There was hardly a soldier that went on furlough that did not carry with him a few potatoes for planting, and a little collection of garden seeds; and I have already had the satisfaction to see little gardens here and there making their appearance in different parts of the country.”

Such is a summary description of the changes introduced by Sir Benjamin Thompson into the organisation of the Bavarian army. It is evident that many of them were adapted expressly for a country like Bavaria, and would be inapplicable in a country like ours, where foreign service is regarded as so great a part of the business of an army: still, the experiment ought to be suggestive to those who take an interest in the state of our army ; some of the details even might be adopted ; and at all events the general spirit of the attempt was admirable. MEASURES FOR THE SUPPRESSION OF MENDICANCY, AND FOR

THE MANAGEMENT OF THE POOR IN MUNICH,

After reforming the army, the next subject which occupied the attention of the Bavarian statesman was one of universal and perpetual interest—the condition of the poor. In order, however, not to be interrupted in our narrative of his measures for the relief of the poor of Bavaria, we shall note a few of the principal events in his personal history during the period of his residence in that country. In 1784, when he commenced his residence in Bavaria, he was thirty-one years of age. The titles which were then conferred on him were, as we have already informed our readers, those of aid-de-camp and chamberlain. Soon afterwards, however, he received the appointments of member of the council of state, and major-general in the army; the elector at the same time procuring him the decorations of two orders of Polish knighthood, in lieu of the Bavarian order, which the rules of German knighthood prevented him from bestowing. The scientific part of the community also showed their esteem for him by electing him a member of the academies of Munich and Manheim. All this took place not long after Thompson had settled in Munich. Every year of his subsequent stay brought him fresh honours. In 1787, when on a visit to Prussia, he was chosen a member of the Academy of Sciences at Berlin ; in Bavaria, to follow the list of dignities given by his American biographer," he attained the military rank of lieutenant-general, was commander-in-chief of the general staff, minister of war, and superintendent of the police of the electorate; he was for a short time chief of the regency that exercised sovereignty during the absence of the elector; and in the in

terval between the death of the Emperor Joseph and the coronation of his successor Leopold, the elector becoming vicar of the empire, availed himself of the prerogatives of that office to make him a Count of the Holy Roman Empire.” When this last dignity was conferred on him, Thompson chose the title of Count of Rumford, in memory of the American village where he had once officiated in the humble capacity of schoolmaster. Although it was not till the year 1790 that this title was bestowed on him, and the measures we are about to detail were for the most part matured before that time, we shall consult our convenience by henceforth calling him Count Rumford.

The condition of the poor, and the mode of treating them, are questions which every country on earth must incessantly be occupied with ; but in few countries, probably, was the necessity of coming to some decided practical conclusion on the subject more glaring, more imperious, than in Bavaria at the time when Count Rumford undertook the social survey of that state. Beggary had there become an enormous and apparently ineradicable evil-a weed overgrowing the whole field. The beggars almost ate up the industrious part of the community. “The number of itinerant beggars of both sexes and all ages, as well foreigners as natives, who strolled about the country in all directions, levying contributions upon the industrious inhabitants, stealing and robbing, and leading a life of indolence and the most shameless debauchery, was quite incredible; and so numerous were the swarms of beggars in all the great towns, and particularly in the capital, so great their impudence, and so persevering their importunity, that it was almost impossible to cross the streets without being attacked, and absolutely forced to satisfy their clamorous demands. They not only infested all the streets, public walks, and public places, but they even made a practice of going into private houses ; and the churches were so full of them, that people at their devotions were continually interrupted by them, and were frequently, obliged to satisfy their demands in order to be permitted to finish their prayers in peace and quiet. In short, these detestable vermin swarmed everywhere; and not only their impudence and clamorous importunity were without any bounds, but they had recourse to the most diabolical arts and most horrid crimes in prosecution of their trade. The growing number of the beggars, and their success, gave a kind of éclat to their profession; and the habit of begging became so general, that it ceased to be considered as infamous, and was by degrees in a manner interwoven with the internal regulations of society. Herdsmen and shepherds who attended their flocks by the roadside, were known to derive considerable advantage from the contributions which their situation enabled them to levy from passengers; and I have been assured that the wages which they received from their employers were often regulated accordingly. The children in every country village, and those even of the best farmers,

made a constant practice of begging from all strangers who passed ; and one hardly ever met a person on foot upon

the road, particularly a woman, who did not hold out her hand and ask for charity.”*

Count Rumford determined to grapple with this enormous evil, and, if possible, suppress mendicancy in Bavaria. His sagacity and general knowledge of mankind taught him to believe the achievement practicable, and he had already paved the way by his reform of the army. Other preliminaries, however, were necessary; and, assisted by the genius of the government of Bavaria, where a sudden stroke of benevolent despotism was more in keeping than it would be elsewhere, he resolved first thoroughly to mature his scheme, and then to pounce upon the beggars when he was prepared to receive them. Although he knew that the people of Bavaria would gladly accept any measure which would relieve them from the dreadful scourge which they had so long borne, yet as so many schemes previously proposed had failed, he resolved to carry his plan into successful execution before he asked a farthing from the people in support of it. The elector's treasury was accordingly drawn upon for the amount of money necessary in advance.

Munich was to be the scene of his first experiment. And first of all, a building was necessary to receive the beggars

when they should be apprehended. A suitable edifice was found situated in the Au, one of the suburbs of Munich. “It had formerly, been a manufactory, but for many years had been deserted, and falling to ruins. It was now completely repaired, and in part rebuilt. A large kitchen, with a large eating-room adjoining it, and a commodious bakehouse, were added to the buildings; and Workshops for carpenters, smiths, turners, and such other me

were established, and furnished with tools. Large halls were fitted up for spinners of hemp, for spinners of flax, for spinners of cotton, for spinners of wool, and for spinners of Worsted ; and adjoining to each hall a small room was fitted up for a clerk or inspector of the

hall. Halls were likewise fitted up for weavers of woollens, weavers of serges and shalloons, for linen-weavers, for weavers of cotton goods, and for stockingWeavers; and workshops were provided for clothiers, clothshearers, dyers, saddlers, besides rooms for wool-sorters

, woolcarders, woolcombers, knitters, seamstresses, &c. Magazines were fitted up, as well for finished manufactures, as for raw materials, and rooms for counting-houses; storerooms for the kitchen and bakehouse ; and dwelling-rooms for the inspectors, and other officers. The whole edifice, which was very extensive, was fitted up in the neatest manner possible. In doing this, even the external appearance of the building was attended to.

handsomely painted without as well as within; and pains

chanics,

It was

* Count Rumford's Essays.

« ForrigeFortsæt »