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Home Life in Germany
by Mrs. Alfred Sidgwick
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- Transcriber's Note: Inconsistent hyphenation in the original document has been preserved. Superscripted text is marked with ^{} for example: S^{ce} Obvious typographical errors have been corrected. For a complete list, please see the end of this document. -

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HOME LIFE IN GERMANY

BY MRS. ALFRED SIDGWICK



The Chautauqua Press CHAUTAUQUA, NEW YORK MCMXII



First Published May 1908 Second Edition June 1908 Third Edition 1912



CONTENTS

CHAP. PAGE

I. INTRODUCTORY 1

II. CHILDREN 7

III. SCHOOLS 15

IV. THE EDUCATION OF THE POOR 28

V. THE BACKFISCH 36

VI. THE STUDENT 47

VII. RIEHL ON WOMEN 59

VIII. THE OLD AND THE NEW 68

IX. GIRLHOOD 78

X. MARRIAGES 92

XI. THE HOUSEHOLDER 103

XII. HOUSEWIVES 113

XIII. HOUSEWIVES (continued) 123

XIV. SERVANTS 138

XV. FOOD 153

XVI. SHOPS AND MARKETS 167

XVII. EXPENSES OF LIFE 177

XVIII. HOSPITALITY 196

XIX. GERMAN SUNDAYS 205

XX. SPORTS AND GAMES 217

XXI. INNS AND RESTAURANTS 225

XXII. LIFE IN LODGINGS 237

XXIII. SUMMER RESORTS 250

XXIV. PEASANT LIFE 267

XXV. HOW THE POOR LIVE 286

XXVI. BERLIN 297

XXVII. ODDS AND ENDS 307

Translations of foreign words and phrases in this book will be found in the Appendix at the back of the volume.



HOME LIFE IN GERMANY



CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTORY

I was once greatly impressed by a story of an officer in the German army, who told his English hostess that he knew the position of every blacksmith's forge in Yorkshire. I wondered at the time how many officers in the English army had learned where to find the blacksmiths' forges in Pomerania. But those are bygone days. Most of us know more about Germany now than we do about our own country.[1] We go over there singly and in batches, we see their admirable public institutions, we visit their factories, we examine their Poor Laws, we walk their hospitals, we look on at their drill and their manoeuvres, we follow each twist and turn of their politics, we watch their birth-rate, we write reams about their navy, and we can explain to any one according to our bias exactly what their system of Protection does for them. We are often sufficiently ignorant to compare them with the Japanese, and about once a month we publish a weighty book concerning various aspects of their flourishing empire.

Some of these books I have read with ardent and respectful interest; and always as I read, my own little venture seemed to wither and vanish in the light of a profounder knowledge and a wider judgment than I shall ever attain. For I have not visited workhouses and factories, I know little more about German taxes than about English ones, and I have no statistics for the instruction and entertainment of the intelligent reader. I can take him inside a German home, but I can give him no information about German building laws. I know how German women spend their days, but I know as little about the exact function of a Buergermeister as about the functions of a Mayor. In short, my knowledge of Germany, like my knowledge of England, is based on a series of life-long, unclassified, more or less inchoate impressions, and the only excuse I have for writing about either country I find in my own and some other people's trivial minds.

When I read of a country unknown or only slightly known, I like to be told all the insignificant trifles that make the common round of life. It is assuredly desirable that the great movements should be watched and described for us; but we want pictures of the people in their homes, pictures of them at rest and at play, as well as engaged in those public works that make their public history. For no reason in the world I happen to be interested in China, but I am still waiting for just the gossip I want about private life there. We have Pierre Loti's exquisite dream pictures of his deserted palace at Pekin, and we have many useful and expert accounts of the roads, mines, railways, factories, laws, politics, and creeds of the Celestial Empire. But the book I ask for could not be written by anyone who was not of Chinese birth, and it would probably be written by a woman. It might not have much literary form or value, but it would enter into those minutiae of life that the masculine traveller either does not see or does not think worth notice. The author of such a small-beer chronicle must have been intimate from childhood with the Chinese point of view, though her home and her friends were in a foreign land. She would probably not know much about her ancestral laws and politics, but she would have known ever since she could hear and speak just what Chinese people said to each other when none but Chinese were by, what they ate, what they wore, how they governed their homes, the relationship between husband and wife, parents and children, master and servant; in what way they fought the battle of life, how they feasted and how they mourned. If circumstances took her over and over again to different parts of China for long stretches of time, she would add to her traditions and her early atmosphere some experience of her race on their own soil and under their own sun. What she could tell us would be of such small importance that she would often hesitate to set it down; and again, she would hesitate lest what she had to say should be well known already to those amongst her readers who had sojourned in her father's country. She would do well, I think, to make some picture for herself of the audience she could hope to entertain, and to fix her mind on these people while she wrote her book. She would know that in the country of her adoption there were some who never crossed their own seas, and others who travelled here and there in the world but did not visit China or know much about its people. She would write for the ignorant ones, and not for any others; and she would of necessity leave aside all great issues and all vexed questions. Her picture would be chiefly, too, a picture of the nation's women; for though they have on the whole no share in political history, they reckon with the men in any history of domestic life and habit.

Germans often maintain that their country is more diverse than any other, and on that account more difficult to describe: a country of many races and various rules held loosely together by language and more tightly of late years by the bond of empire. But the truth probably is, that in our country we see and understand varieties, while in a foreign one we chiefly perceive what is unlike ourselves and common to the people we are observing. For from the flux and welter of qualities that form a modern nation certain traits survive peculiar to that nation: specialities of feature, character, and habit, some seen at first sight, others only discovered after long and intimate acquaintance. It is undoubtedly true that no one person can be at home in every corner of the German Empire, or of any other empire.

There are many Germanys. The one we hear most of in England nowadays is armed to the teeth, set wholly on material advancement, in a dangerously warlike mood, hustling us without scruple from our place in the world's markets, a model of municipal government and enterprise, a land where vice, poverty, idleness, and dirt are all unknown. We hear so much of this praiseworthy but most unamiable Wunderkind amongst nations, that we generally forget the Germany we know, the Germany still there for our affection and delight, the dear country of quaint fancies, of music and of poetry. That Germany has vanished, the wiseacres say, the dreamy unworldly German is no more with us, it is sheer sentimental folly to believe in him and to waste your time looking for him. But how if you know him everywhere, in the music and poetry that he could not have given us if they had not burned within him, and in the men and women who have accompanied you as friends throughout life,—how if you still find him whenever you go to Germany? Not, to be sure, in the shape of the wholly unpractical fool who preceded the modern English myth; but, for instance, in some of the mystical plays that hold his stage, in many of his toys and pictures, and above all in the kindly, lovable, clever people it is your pleasure to meet there. You may perhaps speak with all the more conviction of this attractive Germany if you have never shut your eyes and ears to the Germany that does not love us, and if you have often been vexed and offended by the Anglophobia that undoubtedly exists. This Germany makes more noise than the friendly element, and it is called into existence by a variety of causes not all important or political. It flourished long before the Transvaal War was seized as a convenient stick to beat us with. In some measure the Anglicised Germans who love us too well are responsible, for they do not always love wisely. They deny their descent and their country, and that justly offends their compatriots. I do not believe that the Englishman breathes who would ever wish to call himself anything but English; while it is quite rare for Germans in England, America, or France to take any pride in their blood. The second generation constantly denies it, changes its name, assures you it knows nothing of Germany. They have not the spirit of a Touchstone, and in so far they do their country a wrong.

In another more material sense, too, there are many Germanys, so that when you write of one corner you may easily write of ways and food and regulations that do not obtain in some other corner, and it is obviously impossible to remind the reader in every case that the part is not the whole. Wine is dear in the north, but it has sometimes been so plentiful in the south that barrels to contain it ran short, and anyone who possessed an empty one could get the measure of wine it would hold in exchange. Every town and district has its special ways of cooking. There is great variety in manner of life, in entertainments, and in local law. There are Protestant and Catholic areas, and there are areas where Protestants, Catholics, and Jews live side by side. The peasant proprietor of Baden is on a higher level of prosperity and habit than the peasant serf of Eastern Prussia; and the Jews on the Russian frontier, those strange Oriental figures in a special dress and wearing earlocks and long beards, have as little in common with the Jews of Mannheim or Frankfort as with the Jews of the London Stock Exchange. It would, in fact, be impossible for any one person to enter into every shade and variety of German life. You can only describe the side you know, and comment on the things you have seen. So you bring your mite to the store of knowledge which many have increased before you, and which many will add to again.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Throughout the book, although I am of German parentage, I have spoken of England as my country and of the English as my country-people. I was born and bred in England, and I found it more convenient for purposes of expression to belong to one country than to both.



CHAPTER II

CHILDREN

In Germany the storks bring the children. "I know the pond in which all the little children lie waiting till the storks come to take them to their parents," says the mother stork in Andersen's story. "The stork has visited the house," people say to each other when a child is born; and if you go to a christening party you will find that the stork has come too: in sugar on a cake, perhaps, or to be handed round in the form of ice cream. Most of the kindly intimate little jests about babies have a stork in them, and a stranger might easily blunder by presenting an emblem of the bird where it would not be welcome. The house on which storks build is a lucky one, and people regret the disappearance of their nests from the large towns.

When the baby has come it is not allowed out of doors for weeks. Air and sunlight are considered dangerous at first, and so is soap and even an immoderate use of water. For eight weeks it lies day and night in the Steckkissen, a long bag that confines its legs and body but not its arms. The bag is lined with wadding, and a German nurse, who was showing me one with great pride, assured me that while a child's bones were soft it was not safe to lift it in any other way. These bags are comparatively modern, and have succeeded the swaddling clothes still used in some parts of Germany. They are bandages wrapping the child round like a mummy, and imprisoning its arms as well as its legs. A German doctor told me that as these Wickelkinder had never known freedom they did not miss it; but he seemed to approve of the modern compromise that leaves the upper limbs some power of movement.

Well-to-do German mothers rarely nurse their children. When you ask why, you hear of nerves and anaemia, and are told that at any rate in cities women find it impossible. I have seen it stated in a popular book about Germany that mothers there are little more than "aunts" to their children; and the Steckkissen and the foster-mother were about equally blamed for this unnatural state of affairs. From our point of view there is not a word to be said in favour of the Steckkissen, but it really is impossible to believe that a bag lined with wadding can undermine a mother's affection for her child. Your German friends will often show you a photograph of a young mother holding her baby in her arms, and the baby, if it is young enough, will probably be in its bag. But unless you look closely you will take the bag for a long robe, it hangs so softly and seems so little in the mother's way. It will be as dainty as a robe too, and when people have the means as costly; for you can deck out your bag with ribbons and laces as easily as your robe. The objection to foster-mothers has reality behind it, but the evils of the system are well understood, and have been much discussed of late. Formerly every mother who could afford it hired one for her child, and peasant women still come to town to make money in this way. But the practice is on the wane, now that doctors order sterilised milk. The real ruler of a German nursery is the family doctor. He keeps his eye on an inexperienced mother, calls when he sees fit, watches the baby's weight, orders its food, and sees that its feet are kept warm.

A day nursery in the English sense of the word is hardly known in Germany. People who can afford it give up two rooms to the small fry, but where the flat system prevails, and rents are high, this is seldom possible. One room is usually known as the Kinderstube, and here the children sleep and play. But it must be remembered that rooms are big, light, and high in Germany, and that such a Kinderstube will not be like a night nursery in a small English home. Besides, directly children can walk they are not as much shut up in the nursery as they are in England. The rooms of a German flat communicate with each other, and this in itself makes the segregation to which we are used difficult to carry out. During the first few days of a sojourn with German friends, you are constantly reminded of a pantomime rally in which people run in and out of doors on all sides of the stage; and if they have several lively children you sometimes wish for an English room with one door only, and that door kept shut. Even when you pay a call you generally see the children, and possibly the nurse or the Mamsell with them. But a typical middle-class German family recognises no such foreign body as a nurse. It employs one maid of all work, who helps the housewife wherever help is needed, whether it is in the kitchen or the nursery. The mother spends her time with her children, playing with them when she has leisure, cooking and ironing and saving for them, and for her husband all through her busy day. Modern Germans like to tell you that young women no longer devote themselves to these simple duties, but if you use your eyes you will see that most women do their work as faithfully as ever. There is an idle, pleasure-loving, money-spending element in Germany as there is in other countries, and it makes more noise than the steady bulk of the nation, and is an attractive target there as here for the darts of popular preachers and playwrights. But it is no more preponderant in Germany than in England. On the whole, the German mother leaves her children less to servants than the English mother does, and in some way works harder for them. That is to say, a German woman will do cooking and ironing when an Englishwoman of the same class would delegate all such work to servants. This is partly because German servants are less efficient and partly because fewer servants are employed.

The fashionable nurses in Germany are either English or peasant girls in costume. It is considered smart to send out your baby with a young woman from the Spreewald if you live in Berlin, or from one of the Black Forest valleys if you live in the duchy of Baden. In some quarters of Berlin you see the elaborate skirts and caps of the Spreewald beside every other baby-carriage, but it is said that these girls are chiefly employed by the rich Jews, and you certainly need to be as rich as a Jew to pay their laundry bills. The young children of the poor are provided for in Berlin, as they are in other cities, by creches, where the working mother can leave them for the day. Several of these institutions are open to the public at certain times, and those I have seen were well kept and well arranged.

The women of Germany have not thrown away their knitting needles yet, though they no longer take them to the concert or the play as they did in a less sophisticated age. Children still learn to knit either at school or at home, and if their mother teaches them she probably makes them a marvellous ball. She does this by winding the wool round little toys and small coins, until it hides as many surprises as a Christmas stocking, and is as much out of shape; but the child who wants the treasures in the stocking has to knit for them, and the faster she secures them the faster she is learning her lesson. The mother, however, who troubles about knitting is not quite abreast of her times. The truly modern woman flies at higher game; with the solemnity and devotion of a Mrs. Cimabue Brown she cherishes in her children a love of Art. Her watchword is Die Kunst im Leben des Kindes, or Art in the Nursery, and she is assisted by men who are doing for German children of this generation what Walter Crane and others did for English nurseries twenty-five years ago. You can get enchanting nursery pictures, toys, and decorations in Germany to-day, and each big city has its own school of artists who produce them: friezes where the birds and beasts beloved of children solemnly pursue each other; grotesque wooden manikins painted in motley; mysterious landscapes where the fairy-tales of the world might any day come true. Dream pictures these are of snow and moonlight, marsh and forest, the real Germany lying everywhere outside the cities for those who have eyes to see. Even the toy department in an ordinary shop abounds in treasures that never seem to reach England: queer cheap toys made of wood, and not mechanical. It must be a dull child who is content with a mechanical toy, and it is consoling to observe that most children break the mechanism as quickly as possible and then play sensibly with the remains. Many of the toys known to generations of children seemed to be as popular as ever, and quite unchanged. You still find the old toy towns, for instance, with their red roofed coloured houses and green curly trees, toys that would tell an imaginative child a story every time they were set up. It is to be hoped they never will change, but in this sense I have no faith in Germany. The nation is so desperately intent on improvement that some dreadful day it will improve its toys. Indeed, I have seen a trade circular threatening some such vandalism; and in the last Noah's ark I bought Noah and his family had changed the cut of their clothes. So the whole ark had lost some of its charm.

Everyone who is interested in children and their education, and who happens to be in Berlin, goes to see the Pestalozzi Froebel Haus, the great model Kindergarten where children of the working classes are received for fees varying from sixpence to three shillings a month, according to the means of the parents. There are large halls in which the children drill and sing, and there are classrooms in which twelve to sixteen children are taught at a time. Every room has some live birds or other animals and some plants that the children are trained to tend; the walls are decorated with pictures and processions of animals, many painted and cut out by the children themselves, and every room has an impressive little rod tied with blue ribbons. But the little ones do not look as if they needed a rod much. They are cheerful, tidy little people, although many of them come from poor homes. In the middle of the morning they have a slice of rye bread, which they eat decorously at table on wooden platters. They can buy milk to drink with the bread for 5 pf., and they dine in school for 10 pf. They play the usual Kindergarten games in the usual systematised mechanical fashion, and they study Nature in a real back garden, where there are real dejected-looking cocks and hens, a real cow, and a lamb. What happens to the lamb when he becomes a sheep no one tells you. Perhaps he supplies mutton to the school of cookery in connection with the Kindergarten. Some of the children have their own little gardens, in which they learn to raise small salads and hardy flowers. There are carpentering rooms for the boys, and both boys and girls are allowed in the miniature laundry, where they learn how to wash, starch, and iron doll's clothes. You may frequently see them engaged in this business, apparently without a teacher; but, as a matter of fact, the children are always under a teacher's eye, even when they are only digging in a sand heap or weeding their plots of ground. Each child has a bath at school once a week, and at first the mothers are uneasy about this part of the programme, lest it should give their child cold. But they soon learn to approve it, and however poor they are they do their utmost to send a child to school neatly shod and clad.

As a rule German children of all classes are treated as children, and taught the elementary virtue of obedience. Das Recht des Kindes is a new cry with some of the new people, but nevertheless Germany is one of the few remaining civilised countries where the elders still have rights and privileges. I heard of an Englishwoman the other day who said that she had never eaten the wing of a chicken, because when she was young it was always given to the older people, and now that she was old it was saved for the children. If she lived in Germany she would still have a chance, provided she kept away from a small loud set, who in all matters of education and morality would like to turn the world upside down. In most German homes the noisy, spoilt American child would not be endured for a moment, and the little tyrant of a French family would be taught its place, to the comfort and advantage of all concerned. I have dined with a large family where eight young ones of various ages sat at an overflow table, and did not disturb their elders by a sound. It was not because the elders were harsh or the young folk repressed, but because Germany teaches its youth to behave. The little girls still drop you a pretty old-fashioned curtsey when they greet you; just such a curtsey as Miss Austen's heroines must have made to their friends. The little boys, if you are staying in the house with them, come and shake hands at unexpected times,—when they arrive from school, for instance, and before they go out for a walk. At first they take you by surprise, but you soon learn to be ready for them. They play many of the same games as English children, and I need hardly say that they are brought up on the same fairy stories, because many of our favourites come from Germany. The little boys wear sensible carpenters' aprons indoors, made of leather or American cloth; and the little girls still wear bib aprons of black alpaca. Their elders do not play games with them as much as English people do with their children. They are expected to entertain and employ themselves; and the immense educational value of games, the training they are in temper, skill, and manners, is not understood or admitted in Germany as it is here. The Kindergarten exercises are not competitive, and do not teach a child to play a losing game with effort and good grace.



CHAPTER III

SCHOOLS

German children go to day schools. This is not to say that there are no boarding schools in Germany; but the prevailing system throughout the empire is a system of day schools. The German mother does not get rid of her boys and girls for months together, and look forward to the holidays as a time of uproar and enjoyment. She does not wonder anxiously what changes she will see in them when they come back to her. They are with her all the year round,—the boys till they go to a university, the girls till they marry. Any day in the streets of a German city you may see troops of children going to school, not with a maid at their heels as in Paris, but unattended as in England. They have long tin satchels in which they carry their books and lunch, the boys wear peaked caps, and many children of both sexes wear spectacles.

Except at the Kindergarten, boys and girls are educated separately and differently in Germany. In some rare cases lately some few girls have been admitted to a boys' Gymnasium, but this is experimental and at present unusual. It may be found that the presence of a small number in a large boys' school does not work well. In addition to the elementary schools, there are four kinds of Public Day School for boys in Germany, and they are all under State supervision. There is the Gymnasium, the Real-Gymnasium, the Ober-Real-Schule, and the Real-Schule. Until 1870 the Gymnasiums were the only schools that could send their scholars to the universities; a system that had serious disadvantages. It meant that in choosing a child's school, parents had to decide whether at the end of his school life he was to have a university education. Children with no aptitude for scholarship were sent to these schools to receive a scholar's training; while boys who would have done well in one of the learned professions could not be admitted to a university, except for science or modern languages, because they had not attended a Gymnasium.

A boy who has passed through one of these higher schools has had twelve years' education. He began Latin at the age of ten, and Greek at thirteen. He has learned some French and mathematics, but no English unless he paid for it as an extra. His school years have been chiefly a preparation for the university. If he never reaches the higher classes he leaves the Gymnasium with a stigma upon him, a record of failure that will hamper him in his career. The higher official posts and the professions will be closed to him; and he will be unfitted by his education for business. This at least is what many thoughtful Germans say of their classical schools; and they lament over the unsuitable boys who are sent to them because their parents want a professor or a high official in the family. It is considered more sensible to send an average boy to a Real-Gymnasium or to an Ober-Real Schule, because nowadays these schools prepare for the university, and any boy with a turn for scholarship can get the training he needs. The Ober-Real Schule professedly pays most attention to modern languages; and it is, in fact, only since 1900 that their boys are received at a university on the classical side. They still prepare largely for technical schools and for a commercial career.

At a Real-Schule, the fourth grade of higher school, the course only lasts six years. They do not prepare for the Abiturienten examination, and their scholars cannot go from them to a university. They prepare for practical life, and they admit promising boys from the elementary schools. A boy who has been through any one of these higher schools successfully need only serve in the army for one year; and that in itself is a great incentive to parents to send their children. A Real-Schule in Prussia only costs a hundred marks a year, and a Gymnasium a hundred and thirty-five marks. In some parts of Germany the fees are rather higher, in some still lower. The headmasters of these schools are all university men, and are themselves under State supervision. In an entertaining play called Flachsmann als Erzieher the headmaster had not been doing his duty, and has allowed the school to get into a bad way. The subordinates are either slack or righteously rebellious, and the children are unruly. The State official pays a surprise visit, discovers the state of things, and reads the Riot Act all round. The wicked headmaster is dismissed, the eager young reformer is put in his place, the slackers are warned and given another chance.... Blessed be St. Bureaukrazius ... says the genial old god out of a machine, when by virtue of his office he has righted every man's wrongs. The school in the play must be an elementary one, for children and teachers are of both sexes, but a master at a Gymnasium told me that the picture of the official visit was not exaggerated in its importance and effect. There was considerable excitement in Germany over the picture of the evil headmaster, his incompetent staff, and the neglected children; and I was warned before I saw the play that I must not think such a state of affairs prevailed in German schools. The warning was quite unnecessary. An immoral, idle, and ignorant class of men could not carry on the education of a people as it is carried on throughout the German Empire to-day.

I have before me the Annual Report of a Gymnasium in Berlin, and it may interest English people to see how many lessons the teachers in each subject gave every week. There were thirty teachers in the school.

LESSONS SUBJECT PER WEEK

Religion 31 German 42 Latin 112 Greek 72 French 36 History and Geography 44 Mathematics and Arithmetic 56 Natural History 10 Physics 20 Hebrew 4 Law 1 Writing 6 Drawing 18 Singing 12 Gymnasium 27 Swimming 8-1/2 Handfertigkeit 3 —— 502-1/2 lessons

The headmaster took Latin for seven hours every week, and Greek for three hours. A professor who came solely for religious teaching came for ten hours every week. But most of the masters taught from sixteen to twenty-four hours, while one who is down for reading, writing, arithmetic, gymnastics, German, singing, and Natur could not get through all he had to do in less than thirty hours. On looking into the hours devoted to each subject by the various classes, you find that the lowest class had three hours religious instruction every week, and the other classes two hours. There were 407 boys in the school described as Evangelisch, 47 Jews, and 23 Catholics; but in Germany parents can withdraw their children from religious instruction in school, provided they satisfy the authorities that it is given elsewhere. The two highest classes had lessons on eight chapters of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, on the Epistle to the Philippians, and on the confessions of St. Augustine. Some classes were instructed in the Gospel according to St. John, and the little boys learned Bible History. So Germans are not without orthodox theological teaching in their early years, whatever opinions they arrive at in their adolescence.

Every boy in the school spent two or three hours each week on German composition, and, like boys in other countries, handled themes they could assuredly not understand, probably, like other boys, without a scruple or a hesitation.

"Why does the ghost of Banquo appear to Macbeth, and not the ghost of Duncan?"

"How are the unities of time, place, and action treated in Schiller's ballads?"

"Discuss the antitheses in Lessing's Laokoon."

"What can you say about the representation of concrete objects in Goethe's Hermann and Dorothea?"

These examples are taken at random from a list too long to quote completely; but no one need be impressed by them. Boys perform wonderful feats of this kind in England too. However, I once heard a German professor say that the English boy outdid the German in gesunder Menschenverstand (sound common sense), but that the German wins in the race when it comes to the abstract knowledge (Wissen) that he and his countryfolk prize above all the treasures of the earth. No one who knows both countries can doubt for a single moment that the professor was right, and that he stated the case as fairly as it can be stated. In an emergency or in trying circumstances the English boy would be readier and more self-reliant: but when you meet him where entertainment is wanted rather than resource, his ignorance will make you open your eyes. This, at any rate, is the kind of story told and believed of Englishmen in Germany. A student who was working at science in a German university had been there the whole winter, and though the city possessed many fine theatres he had only visited a variety show. At last his friends told him that it was his duty to go to the Schauspielhaus and see a play by Goethe or Schiller. "Goethe! Schiller!" said my Englishman, "Was ist das?"

The education of girls in Germany is in a transition state at present. Important changes have been made of late years, and still greater ones, so the reformers say, are pending. Formerly, if a girl was to be educated at all she went to a Hoehere Toechterschule, or to a private school conducted on the same lines, and, like the official establishment, under State supervision. When she had finished with school she had finished with education, and began to work at the useful arts of life, more especially at the art of cooking. What she had learned at school she had learned thoroughly, and it was considered in those days quite as much as was good for her. The officials who watched and regulated the education of boys had nothing to do with girls' schools. These were left to the staff that managed elementary schools, and kept on much the same level. Girls learned history, geography, elementary arithmetic, two modern languages, and a great deal of mythology. The scandalous ignorance of mythology displayed by Englishwomen still shocks the right-minded German. If a woman asked for more than this because she was going to earn her bread, she spent three years in reading for an examination that qualified her for one of the lower posts in the school. The higher posts were all in the hands of men. Of late years women have been able to prepare for a teacher's career at one of the Teachers' Seminaries, most of which were opened in 1897.

More than forty years ago the English princess in Berlin was not satisfied with what was done in Germany for the education of women; and one of the many monuments to her memory is the Victoria Lyceum. This institution was founded at her suggestion by Miss Archer, an English lady who had been teaching in Berlin for some years, and who was greatly liked and respected there. At first it only aimed at giving some further education to girls who had left school, and it was not easy to get men of standing to teach them. But as it was the outcome of a movement with life in it the early difficulties were surmounted, and its scope and usefulness have grown since its foundation thirty-eight years ago. It is not a residential college, and it has no laboratories. During the winter it still holds courses of lectures for women who are not training for a definite career; but under its present head, Fraeulein von Cotta, the chief work of the Victoria Lyceum has become the preparation of women for the Ober Lehrerin examination. This is a State examination that can only be passed five years after a girl has qualified as Lehrerin, and two of these five years must have been spent in teaching at a German school. To qualify as Lehrerin, a girl must have spent three years at a Seminary for teachers after she leaves school, and she usually gets through this stage of her training between the ages of fifteen and eighteen. Therefore a woman must have three years special preparation for a subordinate post and eight years for a higher post in a German girls' school.

The whole question of women's education is in a ferment in Germany at present, and though everyone interested is ready to talk of it, everyone tells you that it is impossible to foresee exactly what reforms are coming. There are to be new schools established, Lyceen and Ober-Lyceen, and Ober-Lyceen will prepare for matriculation. When girls have matriculated from one of these schools they will be ready for the university, and will work for the same examinations as men. Baden was the first German State that allowed women to matriculate at its universities. It did so in 1900, and in 1903 Bavaria followed suit. In 1905 there were eighty-five women at the universities who had matriculated in Germany; but there are hundreds working at the universities without matriculating first. At present the professors are free to admit women or to exclude them from their classes; but the right of exclusion is rarely exercised. Before long it will presumably be a thing of the past.

An Englishwoman residing at Berlin, and engaged in education, told me that in her opinion no German woman living had done as much for her countrywomen as Helene Lange, the president of the Allgemeine deutsche Frauenverein. Nineteen years ago she began the struggle that is by no means over, the struggle to secure a better education for women and a greater share in its control. In English ears her aim will sound a modest one, but English girls' schools are not entirely in the hands of men, with men for principals and men to teach the higher classes. She began in 1887 by publishing a pamphlet that made a great sensation, because it demanded, what after a mighty tussle was conceded, women teachers for the higher classes in girls' schools, and for these women an academic education. In 1890 she founded, together with Auguste Schmidt and Marie Loeper-Housselle, the Allgemeine deutsche Lehrerinnen-Verein, which now has 80 branches and 17,000 members. But the pluckiest thing she did was to fight Prussian officialdom and win. In 1889 she opened Real-Kurse fuer Maedchen und Frauen, classes where women could work at subjects not taught in girls' schools, Latin for instance, and advanced mathematics; for the State in Germany has always decided how much as well as how little women may learn. It would not allow people as ignorant as Squeers to keep a school because it offered an easy livelihood. It organised women's education carefully and thoroughly in the admirable German way; but it laid down the law from A to Z, which is also the German way. When, therefore, Helene Lange opened her classes for women, the officials came to her and said that she was doing an illegal thing. She replied that her students were not schoolgirls under the German school laws, but grown-up women free to learn what they needed and desired. The officials said that an old law of 1837 would empower them to close the classes by force if Helene Lange did not do so of her own accord. After some reflection and in some anxiety she decided to go on with them. By this time public opinion was on her side and came to her assistance; for public opinion does count in Germany even with the officials. The classes went on, and were changed in 1893 to Gymnasialkurse. In 1896 the first German women passed the Abiturienten examination, the difficult examination young men of eighteen pass at the end of a nine years' course in one of the classical schools. Even to-day you may hear German men argue that women should not be admitted to universities because they have had no classical training. Helene Lange was the first to prove that even without early training women can prepare themselves for an academic career. Her experiment led to the establishment of Gymnasialkurse in many German cities; and even to the admission of girls in some few cases to boys' Gymnasium schools.

To-day Helene Lange and her associates are contending with the schoolmasters, who desire to keep the management of girls' schools in their own hands. She calls the Hoehere Toechterschule the failure of German school organisation, and she says that the difference of view taken by men and women teachers as to the proper work of girls' schools makes it most difficult to come to an understanding. Consciously or not, men form an ideal of what they want and expect of women, and try to educate them up to it; while women think of the claims life may make on a girl, and desire the full development of her powers. "The Higher Daughter," she says, "must vanish, and her place must be taken by the girl who has been thoroughly prepared for life, who can stand on her own feet if circumstances require it, or who brings with her as housewife the foundations of further self-development, instead of the pretentiousness of the half educated." In one of her many articles on the subject of school reform she points to three directions where reform is needed. What she says about the teaching of history is so characteristic of her views and of the modern movement in Germany, that I think the whole passage is worth translation:—

"All those subjects that help to make a woman a better citizen must be taken more seriously," she says. "It can no longer be the proper aim of history teaching to foster and strengthen in women a sentimental attachment to her country and its national character: its aim must be to give her the insight that will enable her to understand the forces at work, and ultimately play an active part in them. Many branches of our social life await the work of women, civic philanthropy to begin with; and as our public life becomes more and more constitutional, it demands from the individual both a ripe insight into the good of the community and a living sense of duty in regard to its destiny; and, on the other hand, the foundations of this insight and sense of duty must be in our times more and more laid by the mother, since the father is often entirely prevented by his work from sharing in the education of his children. Therefore, both on her own account and in consideration of the task before her, a woman just as much as a man should understand and take a practical interest in public life, and it is the business of the school to see that she does so. Over and over again those who are trying to reform girls' schools insist that history teaching should lead the student to understand the present time; that it should recognise those economic conditions on which the history of the world, especially in our day, depends in so great a measure; that it should pay attention not only to dates and events, but also to the living process of civilisation, since it is only from the latter inquiry that we can arrive at the principles of individual effort in forwarding social life."

Nowadays in Germany Helene Lange is considered one of the "Moderates," but it will be seen from the above quotation that she has travelled far from the old ideals which invested women with many beautiful qualities, but not with the sense and knowledge required of useful public citizens. She proceeds in the same article to say that scientific and mathematical teaching should reach a higher standard in girls' schools; and thirdly, that certain branches of psychology, physiology, and hygiene should receive greater attention, because a woman is a better wife and mother when she fulfils her duties with understanding instead of by mere instinct. Nor will education on this higher plane deprive women of any valuable feminine virtues if it is carried out in the right way. But to this end women must direct it, and in great measure take it into their own hands. She would not shut men out of girls' schools, but she would place women in supreme authority there, and give them the lion's share of the work.

It seems to the English onlooker that this contest can only end in one way, and that if the women of Germany mean to have the control of girls' schools they are bound to get it. Some of the evils of the present system lie on the surface. "It is a fact," said a schoolmaster, speaking lately at a conference,—"it is a fact that a more intimate, spiritual, and personal relationship is developed between a schoolgirl and her master than between a schoolgirl and her mistress." This remark, evidently made in good faith, was received with hilarity by a large mixed audience of teachers; and when one reflects on the unbridled sentiment of some "higher daughters" one sees where it must inevitably find food under the present anomalous state of things. But the schoolmaster's argument is the argument brought forward by many men against the reforms desired by Helene Lange and her party. They insist that girls would deteriorate if they were withdrawn throughout their youth from masculine scholarship and masculine authority in school. They talk of the emasculation of the staff as a future danger. They do not seem to talk of their natural reluctance to cede important posts to women, but this must, of course, strengthen their pugnacity and in some cases colour their views.

Meanwhile many parents prefer to send their daughters to one of the private schools that have a woman at the head, and where most of the teaching is done by women; or to a Stift, a residential school of the conventual type, which may be either Protestant or Catholic. A girl who had spent some years at a well-known Protestant Stift described her school life to me as minutely as possible, and it sounded so like the life in a good English boarding-school thirty years ago that it is difficult to pick out points of differences. That only means, of course, that the differences were subtle and not apparent in rules and time-tables. The girls wore a school uniform, were well fed and taught, strictly looked after, taken out for walks and excursions, allowed a private correspondence, shown how to mend their clothes, made to keep their rooms tidy, encouraged in piety and decorum. In these strenuous times it sounds a little old-fashioned, and as a matter of fact a school of this kind fits a girl for a sheltered home but not for the open road. For everyone concerned about the education of women the interesting spectacle in Germany to-day is the campaign being carried on by Helene Lange and her party, the support they receive from the official as well as from the unofficial world, and the progress they make year by year to gain their ends.



CHAPTER IV

THE EDUCATION OF THE POOR

There are no people in the world who need driving to school less than the Germans. There are no people in the world who set so high a value on knowledge. In the old days, when they lived with Jove in the clouds, they valued knowledge solely for its own sake, and did not trouble much about its practical use in the world. It is absurd to say, as people often do now, that this spirit is dead in the nation. You cannot be long in the society of Germans without recognising that it survives wherever the stress of modern life leaves room for it. You see that when a German makes money his sons constantly enter the learned and the artistic professions with his full approval, though they are most unlikely to make a big income in this way. You are told by people who work amongst the poor, that parents will make any sacrifices year after year in order to send a boy to one of the higher schools. You know that the Scotsmen who live on oatmeal while they acquire learning have their counterparts in the German universities, where many a student would not dine at all if private or organised charity did not give him a dinner so many days a week. Sometimes you have heard it said of such and such a great German, that he was so poor when he was young that he had to accept these free dinners given in every German university town to penniless students. The fact would be remembered, but it would never count against a man in Germany. The dollar is not almighty there.

To say, therefore, that education is compulsory throughout the empire is not to say that it is unpopular. A teacher in an elementary school was once telling me how particular the authorities were that every child, even the poorest, should come to school properly clothed and shod. "For instance," she said, "if a child comes to school in house-shoes he is sent straight home again." "But do the parents mind that?" I asked from my English point of view, for the teacher was speaking of people who in England would live in slums and care little whether their children were educated or not. But in Germany even the poorest of the poor do care, and to refuse a child admission to school is an effective punishment. At any rate, you may say this of the majority. No doubt if school was not compulsory the dregs of the nation would slip out of the net, especially in those parts of the empire where the prevalent character is shiftless and easy going. "When you English think that we hold the reins too tight, it is because you do not understand what a mixed team we have to drive," a north German said to me. "We should not get on, we should not hold together long, if our rule was slack and our attention careless."

At the last census only one in 10,000 could not read or write, and these dunces were all Slavs. But how even a Slav born under the eye of the Eagle can remain illiterate is a mystery. In 1905 there were 59,348 elementary schools in the empire, and their organisation is as elaborate and well planned as the organisation of the army. In Berlin alone there are 280. All the teachers at these schools have been trained to teach at special seminaries, and have passed State examinations that qualify them for their work. In Germany many men and women, entitled both by class and training to teach in the higher grade schools, have taken up work in the elementary ones from choice. I know one lady whose certificates qualify her to teach in a Hoehere Toechterschule and who elects to teach a large class of backward children in a Volkschule. Her ambition is to teach those children described in Germany as nicht voellig normal: children we should describe as "wanting." She says that her backward children repay her for any extra trouble they give by their affection and gratitude. She knows the circumstances of every child in her class, and where there is real need she can get help from official sources or from philanthropic organisations, because a teacher's recommendation carries great weight in Germany. This lady gets up every day in summer at a quarter past five, in order to be in school by seven. Her school hours are from seven to eleven in summer, and from eight till twelve in winter; but she has a great deal of work to prepare and correct after school. Her salary is raised with every year of service, and when she is past work she will be entitled to a State pension of thirty pounds.

Children have to attend school from the age of six and to stay till they are fourteen; and in their school years they are not allowed to work at a trade without permission. They do not learn foreign languages, but they are thoroughly grounded in German, and they receive religious instruction. Of course, they learn history, geography, and arithmetic. In the new schools every child is obliged to have a warm bath every week, but it is not part of a teacher's duties to superintend it. Probably the women who clean the school buildings do so. In the old schools, where there are no bathrooms, the children are given tickets for the public bathing establishments. The State does not supply free food, but there are philanthropic societies that supply those children who need it with a breakfast of bread and milk in winter. Everyone connected with German schools says that no child would apply for this if his parents were not destitute, and one teacher told me a story of the headmaster's boy being found, to his father's horror and indignation, seated with the starving children and sharing their free lunch. He had brought his own lunch with him, but it was his first week at school, and he thought that a dispensation of bread and milk in the middle of the morning was part of the curriculum.

School books are supplied to children too poor to buy them, and it seems that no trouble is given by applications for this kind of relief by people not entitled to it. Gymnastics are compulsory for both boys and girls in the lower classes, and choral singing is taught in every school. Teachers must all be qualified to accompany singing on the violin. Most of the elementary schools in Prussia are free. Some few charge sixpence a month. A child can even have free teaching in its own home if it is able to receive instruction, but not to attend school. Medical inspection is rigorously carried out in German elementary schools. The doctor not only watches the general health of the school, but he registers the height, weight, carriage, state of nourishment, and vaccination marks of each child on admission; the condition of the eyes and ears and any marked constitutional tendency he can discover. Every child is examined once a month, when necessary once a fortnight. In this way weak or wanting children are weeded out, and removed to other surroundings, the short-sighted and the deaf are given places in the schoolroom to suit them. The system protects the child and helps the teacher, and has had the best results since it was introduced into Prussia in 1888.

Attendance at continuation schools is now compulsory on boys and girls for three years after leaving the elementary school, where they have had eight years steady education. They must attend from four to six hours weekly; instruction is free, and is given in the evening, when the working day is over. Certain classes of the community are free, but about 30,000 students attend these schools in Berlin. The subjects taught are too many to enumerate. They comprise modern languages, history, law, painting, music, mathematics, and various domestic arts, such as ironing and cooking. More boys than girls attend these schools, as girls are more easily exempt. It is presumably not considered so necessary for them as for their brothers to continue their education after the age of fourteen.

One of the most interesting experiments being made in Germany at present is the "open air" school, established for sickly children during the summer months. The first one was set up by the city of Charlottenberg at the suggestion of their Schulrat and their school doctor, and it is now being imitated in other parts of Germany. From Charlottenberg the electric cars take you right into the pine forest, far beyond the last houses of the growing city. The soil here is loose and sandy, and the air in summer so soft that it wants strength and freshness. But as far out as this it is pure, and the medical men must deem it healing, for they have set up three separate ventures close together amongst the pine trees. One belongs to the Society of the Red Cross, and here sick and consumptive women come with their children for the day, and are waited on by the Red Cross sisters. We saw some of them lying about on reclining chairs, and some, less sickly, were playing croquet. The second establishment is for children who are not able to do any lessons, children who have been weeded out by the school doctor because they are backward and sickly. There are a hundred and forty children in this school, and there is a creche with twenty beds attached to it for babies and very young children. One airy room with two rows of neat beds was for rickety children.

The third and largest of the settlements was the Waldschule, open every day, Sundays included, from the end of April to the middle of October, and educating two hundred and forty delicate children chosen from the elementary schools of Charlottenberg. We arrived there just as the children were going to sit down to their afternoon meal of bread and milk, and each child was fetching its own mug hanging on a numbered hook. The meals in fine weather are taken at long tables in the open air. When it rains they are served in big shelters closed on three sides. Dotted about the forest there were mushroom-shaped shelters with seats and tables beneath them, sufficient cover in slight showers; and there were well lighted, well aired class-rooms, where the children are taught for twenty-five minutes at a time.

All the buildings are on the Doecker system, and were manufactured by Messrs. Christoph & Unmark of Niesky. This firm makes a speciality of schools and hospitals, built in what we should call the bungalow style. Of course, this style exactly suits the needs of the school in the forest. There is not a staircase in the place, there is no danger of fire, no want of ventilation, and very little work for housemaids or charwomen. The school furniture is simple and carefully planned. Some of it was designed by Richard Riemerschmid of Munich, the well-known artist.

Each child has two and a half hours' work each day; all who are strong enough do gymnastics, and all have baths at school. Each child has its own locker and its own numbered blanket for use out of doors on damp or chilly days. The doctor visits the school twice a week, and the weight of each child is carefully watched. The busy sister who superintends the housekeeping and the hygienic arrangements seemed to know how much each child had increased already; and she told us what quantities of food were consumed every day. The kitchen and larder were as bright and clean as such places always are in Germany. When the children arrive in the morning at half-past seven they have a first breakfast of Griesbrei. At ten o'clock they have rolls and butter. Their dinner consists of one solid dish. The day we were there it had been pork and cabbage, a combination Germans give more willingly to delicate children than we should; the next day it was to be Nudelsuppe and beef. At four o'clock they have bread and milk, and just before they go home a supper like their early breakfast of milk-soup, and bread. 260 litres of milk are used every day, 50 to 60 lbs. of meat, 2 cwts. potatoes, 30 big rye loaves, 280 rolls, and when spinach, for instance, is given, 80 lbs. of spinach. We asked whether the children paid, and were told that those who could afford it paid from 25 to 45 pf. a day. The school is kept open throughout the summer holidays, but no work is done then, and two-thirds of the teachers are away. Although the children are at play for the greater part of the day in term time, and all day in the holidays, the headmaster told us that they gave no trouble. There was not a dirty or untidy child to be seen, nor one with rough manners. They are allowed to play in the light, sandy soil of the forest, much as English children play at the seaside, and we saw the beginning of an elaborate chain of fortresses defended by toy guns and decorated with flowers. We heard a lesson in mental arithmetic given in one of the class-rooms, the boys sitting on one side of the room and the girls on the other; and we found that these young sickly children were admirably taught and well advanced for their age. To be a teacher in one of these open-air schools is hard work, because the strain is never wholly relaxed. All day long, and a German day is very long, the children must be watched and guarded, sheltered from changes in the weather and prevented from over-tiring themselves. Many of them come from poor cramped homes, and to spend the whole summer in the forest more at play than at work makes them most happy. I met Germans who did not approve of the Waldschule who considered it a fantastic extravagant experiment, too heavy for the rate-payers to bear. This is a side of the question that the rate-payers must settle for themselves; but there is no doubt about the results of the venture on the children sent to school in the forest. They get a training that must shape their whole future, moral and physical, a training that changes so many unsound citizens into sound ones every year for the German Empire. If the rate-payers can survive the strain it seems worth while.



CHAPTER V

THE BACKFISCH

The word is untranslatable, though my dictionary translates it. Backfisch, m. fried fish; young girl; says the dictionary. In Germany a woman does not arrive at her own gender till she marries and becomes somebody's Frau. Woman in general, girl, and miss are neuter; and the fried-fish girl is masculine. But if one little versed in German wished to tell you that he liked a fried sole, and said Ich liebe einen Backfisch, it might lead to misunderstandings. The origin of the word in this application is dubious. Some say it means fish that are baked in the oven because they are too small to fry in pans; but this does not seem a sensible explanation to anyone who has seen white-bait cooked. Others say it means fish the anglers throw back into the water because they are small. At any rate, the word used is to convey an impression of immaturity. A Backfisch is what English and American fashion papers call a "miss." You may see, too, in German shop windows a printed intimation that special attention is given to Backfisch Moden. It is a girl who has left school but has not cast off her school-girl manners; and who, according to her nation and her history, will require more or less last touches.

Miss Betham-Edwards tells us that a French girl is taught from babyhood to play her part in society, and that the exquisite grace and taste of Frenchwomen are carefully developed in them from the cradle. An English girl begins her social education in the nursery, and is trained from infancy in habits of personal cleanliness and in what old-fashioned English people call "table manners." An Englishwoman, who for many years lived happily as governess in a German country house, told me how on the night of her arrival she tried out of politeness to eat and drink as her hosts did; and how the mistress of the house confided to her later that she had disappointed everyone grievously. There were daughters in the family, and they were to learn to behave at table in the English way. That was why the father, arriving from Berlin, had on his own initiative brought them an English governess; for the English are admitted by their continental friends to excel in this special branch of manners, while their continental enemies charge them with being "ostentatiously" well groomed and dainty. The truth is, that if you have lived much with both English and Germans, and desire to be fair and friendly to both races, you find that your generalisations will not often weigh on one side. The English child learns to eat with a fork rather than with a spoon, and never by any chance to put a knife in its mouth, or to touch a bone with its fingers. The German child learns that it must never wear a soiled or an unmended garment or have untidy hair. I have known a German scandalised by the slovenly wardrobe of her well-to-do English pupil, and I have heard English people say that to hear Germans eat soup destroyed their appetite for dinner. English girls are not all slovens, and nowadays decently bred Germans behave like other people at table. But untidiness is commoner in England than in Germany, and you may still stumble across a German any day who, abiding by old customs, puts his knife in his mouth and takes his bones in his hands. He will not only do these things, but defend them vociferously. In that case you are strongly advised not to eat a dish of asparagus in his company.

Your modern German Backfisch may be a person of finish and wide culture. You may find that she insists on her cold tub every morning, and is scandalised by your offer of hot water in it. She has seen Salome as a play and heard Salome as an opera. She has seen plays by G.B.S. both in Berlin and London. She does not care to see Shakespeare in London, because, as she tells you, the English know nothing about him. Besides, he could not sound as well in English as in German. She has read Carlyle, and is now reading Ruskin. She adores Byron, but does not know Keats, Shelley, or Rossetti. Tennyson she waves contemptuously away from her, not because she has read him, but because she has been taught that his poetry is "bourgeois." Her favourite novels are Dorian Gray and Misunderstood. She dresses with effect and in the height of fashion, she speaks French and English fluently, she has travelled in Italy and Switzerland, she plays tennis well, she can ride and swim and skate, and she would cycle if it was not out of fashion. In fact, she can do anything, and she knows everything, and she has been everywhere. Your French and English girls are ignorant misses in comparison with her, and you say to yourself as you watch her and humbly listen to her opinions, delivered without hesitation and expressed without mistakes: "Where is the German Backfisch of yesteryear?"

"Did you ever read Backfischchen's Leiden und Freuden?" you say to her; for the book is in its 55th edition, and you have seen German girls devouring it only last week; German girls of a different type, that is, from your present glittering companion.

"That old-fashioned inferior thing," she says contemptuously. "I believe my mother had it. That is not literature."

You leave her to suppose you could not have made that discovery for yourself, and you spend an amusing hour over the story again, for there are occasions when a book that is not "literature" will serve your purpose better than a masterpiece. The little book has entertained generations of German girls, and is presumably accepted by them, just as Little Women is accepted in America or The Daisy Chain in England. The picture was always a little exaggerated, and some of its touches are now out of date; yet as a picture of manners it still has a value. It narrates the joys and sorrows of a young girl of good family who leaves her country home in order to live with an aunt in Berlin, a facetious but highly civilised aunt who uses a large quantity of water at her morning toilet. All the stages of this toilet are minutely described, and all the mistakes the poor countrified Backfisch makes the first morning. She actually gets out of bed before she puts on her clothes, and has to be driven behind the bed curtains by her aunt's irony. This is an incident that is either out of date or due to the genius and imagination of the author, for I have never seen bed curtains in Germany. However, Gretchen is taught to perform the early stages of her toilet behind them, and then to wash for the first time in her life in a basin full of water. She is sixteen. Her aunt presents her with a sponge, and observes that the civilisation of a nation is judged by the amount of soap it uses. "In much embarrassment I applied myself to this unaccustomed task," continues the ingenuous Backfisch, "and I managed it so cleverly that everything around me was soon swimming. To make matters worse, I upset the water-jug, and now the flood spread to the washstand, the floor, the bed curtains, even to my clothes lying on the chair. If only this business of dressing was over," she sighs as she is about to brush her teeth, with brushes supplied by her aunt. But it is by no means over. She is just going to slip into a dressing-gown, cover her unbrushed hair with a cap, and so proceed to breakfast, when this exacting aunt stops her: actually desires her to plait and comb her hair at this hour of the morning, and to put on a tidy gown. Gretchen's gown is extremely untidy, and on that account I will not admit that the portrait is wholly lifelike. In fact, the author has summed up the sins of all the Backfisch tribe, and made a single Backfisch guilty of them. But caricature, if you know how to allow for it, is instructive. Mr. Stiggins is a caricature, yet he stands for failings that exist among us, though they are never displayed quite so crudely. "Go and brush your nails," says the aunt to the niece when the girl attempts to kiss her hand; and the Backfisch uses a nail-brush for the first time in her life.

Then the two ladies sit down to breakfast. Gretchen fills the cups too full, soaks her roll in her coffee, and drinks out of her saucer. Her aunt informs her that "coffee pudding" is not polite, and can only be allowed when they are by themselves; also that she must not drink out of the saucer. "But we children always did it at home," says Gretchen. "I can well believe it," says the aunt. "Everything is permitted to children." The italics are mine.

An aunt who has such ideas about the education of the young is naturally not surprised when at dinner-time she has to admonish her niece not to wipe her mouth with her hand, not to speak with her mouth full, to eat her soup quietly, to keep her elbows off the table, not to put her fingers in her plate or her knife in her mouth, and not to take her chicken into her hands on ceremonial occasions.

"My treasure," says the aunt, "as you know, we are going to dinner with the Dunkers to-morrow. Be good enough not to take your chicken into your hands. Here at home I don't object to it, but the really correct way is to separate the meat from the bone with the knife and fork."

The docile Backfisch says Jawohl, liebe Tante, and feels that this business of becoming civilised is full of pitfalls and surprises. Never in her life has she eaten poultry without the assistance of her fingers. When she gets to the dinner-party she is fortunate enough to sit next to her bosom friend, who starts in horror and whispers "With a knife, Gretchen," when Gretchen is just about to dip her fingers in the salt. The Backfisch is truly anxious to learn, but she feels that the injunctions of society are hard, and says it is poor sport to eat your chicken with a knife and fork, because the best part sticks to the bones. Then her friend stops her from drinking fruit syrup out of her plate, and her neighbour on the other side, a stout guzzler who has not been taught by his aunt to eat properly, encourages Gretchen to drink too much champagne.

After these early adventures the education of the Backfisch proceeds quickly. She has to learn at her aunt's tea-parties not to fill cups to overflowing in sheer exuberance of hospitality; and she is also instructed not to press food on people. "In good society," says the aunt, "people decline to eat because they have had enough, and not because they require pressing." She is obliged also to discourage Gretchen from waiting too attentively on the young men who visit at the house; and Gretchen, who does not care about young men, but only yearns to be serviceable, devotes herself in future to the old ladies, their foot-stools, their knitting, and their smelling bottles. This touch is one of many that makes the book, in spite of its obvious shortcomings, valuable as a picture of German character and manner. It is impossible to imagine Gretchen in a French or English story of the same class. The French girl would be more adroit and witty; the English girl would expect young men to wait on her; and neither of them would gush as Gretchen did about her old ladies. "My readiness to serve them knew no bounds. To arrange their seats to their liking, to give them stools for their feet and cushions for their backs, to rush for their shawls and cloaks, to count the rows in their knitting, to help them pick up their stitches, to thread their needles, to wind silk or wool, to peel fruit, to run for smelling bottles and cold water,—all these things I did with delight the instant my watchful eye discovered the smallest wish, and I was always cordially thanked."

Tastes differ. Some old ladies would be made quite uncomfortable by such fussy attentions. The Backfisch goes on to say that she was equally assiduous in waiting on the old gentlemen. She picked up anything they dropped, polished their spectacles for them, and listened to their dull stories when no one else would. I consider the portrait of Gretchen in this story a literary triumph. I can see the girl; I can hear her voice and laugh. I know exactly how she behaved and what the old ladies and gentlemen said to her, how she dressed and how she did her hair; not because the author tells me just these things, but because her type is as true to life to-day as it was thirty years ago. As a contrast to her, a fine young lady from the city presently joins the household, and the aunt does not have to provide her with a tooth-brush. The new arrival wears blue satin slippers, drinks her chocolate in bed, and cannot dress without the help of a maid. In this way the author shows you that girls brought up in cities are superfine rather than savage, and that you are not to suppose the ordinary German Backfisch is like her little heroine from the provinces.

The truth of the matter is, that no one nowadays has such manners as the Backfisch had when she first came from the wilds; at least, no one of her class, even if they have grown up in Hinter-Pommern. But if you travel in Germany next week and stay in small towns and country places, you will still meet plenty of people who take their poultry bones in their fingers and put their knives in their mouths. If they are men you will see them use their fork as a dagger to hold the meat while they cut it up; you will see them stick their napkins into their shirt collars and placidly comb their hair with a pocket comb in public; if they are women and at a restaurant, they will pocket the lumps of sugar they have not used in their coffee. But if you are in private houses amongst people of Gretchen's type you will see none of these things. A German host still pulls the joint close to him sometimes or stands up to carve, and a German hostess still presses you to eat, still in the kindness of her heart piles up your plate. But this embarrassing form of hospitality is dying out. As Gretchen's aunt said, people in good society recognise that a guest refuses food because he does not want it. Some years ago, when you had satisfied your hunger and declined more, your German friends used to look offended or distressed, and say Sie geniren sich gewiss. This is a difficult phrase to translate, because the idea is one that has never taken root in the English mind, Sich geniren, however, is a reflective verb, a corruption of the French verb se gener, and what they meant was that you really wanted a third potato dumpling but did not like to say so. Whether your reluctance was supposed to proceed from your distrust of your host's hospitality or shame at your own appetite, is not clear; in either case it was taken, is even to-day still often taken, for artificial. To accept a portion of an untouched dish was considered a sign that you came from "a good house" where no one grudged or wished to save the food put on the table; and formerly you could not refuse sugar in your tea without being commended for your economy. You are still invited to eat tarts and puddings in Germany with what we consider the insufficient assistance of a tea-spoon, but I have never been in a private house where salt-spoons were not provided. You never used to find them in inns of a plain kind, and unless you were known to be English and peculiar you were not provided with more than one knife and fork for all the courses of a table d'hote. You would see your German neighbours putting theirs aside as a matter of course when their plates were removed.

On the whole, then, the celebrated picture of the Backfisch, though it is overloaded, bears some relation to the facts of life in Germany: not only in the episodes that make the early chapters entertaining, but all through the story in atmosphere, in the little touches that give a story nationality. When the excellent Gretchen has been civilised she spends a great deal of time in the kitchen, and soon knows all the duties of the complete housekeeper; while, when the frivolous Eugenie becomes Braut she cannot cook at all. But frivolous as she is, she recognises that marriage is unthinkable without cooking, and straightway sets to work to learn. Then, too, the Backfisch is the ideal German maiden, cheerful, docile, and facetious; and constantly on the jump (springen is the word she uses) to serve her elders. Middle-aged Germans used to have a most tiresome way of expecting girls to be like lambs in spring, always in the mood to frisk and caper: so that a quiet or a delicate girl had a bad time with some of them. Ein junges Maedchen muss immer heiter sein, they would say reproachfully. But it does not follow that you are always heiter just because you are not twenty yet; especially in Germany, where girls are often anaemic and have headaches. However, perhaps the modern German maiden does not allow her elders to be so silly.

There are some other ways, too, in which my Backfisch of thirty years ago is typical of German womanhood both then and now. She is as good as gold, she is devoted to duty not to pleasure, and she is as guileless as a child. You know that when she marries she will be faithful unto death; you know that her husband and her children will call her blessed. These things come out quite naturally, almost unconsciously, in the little story that is "not literature," and which for all that is so truly and deeply German in its quality and tone. This Gretchen of the schoolroom, this caricature of the country cousin, is akin in her simplicity, sweetness, and depth of nature to that other Gretchen whose figure lives for ever in the greatest of German poems. Just as the women of Shakespeare and the women of Miss Austen are subtly kin to each other, inasmuch as they are English women, so Goethe's girl and the girl of the poor little schoolroom story are German in every pulse and fibre. And this national essence, the honesty, goodness, and sweetness of the girl, are the real things, the things to remember about her. Those little matters of the toilet and the table will soon be out of date, are out of date already in the greater part of Germany. As a picture of forgotten manners they will always be amusing, just as it is amusing to read an eighteenth-century English story of school life, in which the young ladies fought and bit and scratched each other and were whipped and sent to bed.



CHAPTER VI

THE STUDENT

When an English lad goes to the university he usually goes there from a public school, where out of school hours he has been learning for years past to be a man. In these strenuous days he may have learned a little in school hours too, but that is a new departure. Cricket and character are what an English boy expects to develop at school, and if there is stuff in him he succeeds. He does not set a high value on learning. Even if he works and brings home prizes he will not be as proud of them as of his football cap, while a boy who is head of the school, but a duffer at games, will live for all time in the memory of his fellows as a failure. But the German boy goes to school to acquire knowledge, and he too gets what he wants. The habit of work must be strong in him when at the age of eighteen he goes to one of his many universities. But when he gets there he is free for the first time in his life, and the first use he for the most part makes of his freedom is to be thoroughly, happily idle. This idleness, if he has a backbone and a call to work, only lasts a term or two; and no one who knows how a German boy is held to the grindstone for twelve years of school life can grudge him a holiday. But the odd fact is, that the Briton who leaves school a man is more under control at Oxford or Cambridge than the German at Heidelberg who leaves school a boy.

A German university is a teaching institution which prepares for the State examinations, and is never residential. There are no old colleges. The professors live in flats like other people, and the students live in lodgings or board with private families. There is one building or block of buildings called the Universitaet where there are laboratories and lecture-rooms. The State can decline a professor chosen by the university; but this power is rarely exercised. The teachers at a German university consist of ordinary professors, extraordinary professors, and Privatdocenten—men who are not professors yet, but hope to be some day. An Englishman in his ignorance might think that an extraordinary professor ought to rank higher than an ordinary one; but this is not so. The ordinary professors are those who have chairs; the extraordinary ones have none. But all professors have a fixed salary which is paid to the day of their death, though they may cease work when they choose. The salaries vary from L240 to L350, and are paid by the State, but this income is increased by lecturing fees. Whether it is largely increased depends on the popularity of the lecturer and on his subject. An astronomer cannot expect large classes, while a celebrated professor of Law or Medicine addresses crowds. I have found it difficult to make my English friends believe that there are professors now in Berlin earning as much as L2500 a year. The English idea of the German professor is rudely disturbed by such a fact, for his poverty and simplicity of life have played as large a part in our tradition of him as his learning. The Germans seem to recognise that a scholar cannot want as much money as a man of affairs; therefore, when one of their professors is so highly esteemed by the youth of the nation that his fees exceed L225, half of the overflow goes to the university and not to him at all. In this way Berlin receives a considerable sum every year, and uses it to assist poorer professors and to attract new men. As a rule a German professor has not passed the State examinations. These are official, not academic, and they qualify men for government posts rather than for professorial chairs. A professor acquires the academic title of doctor by writing an original essay that convinces the university of his learning. The title confers no privileges. It is an academic distinction, and its value depends on the prestige of the university conferring it.

Germans say that our English universities exist to turn out gentlemen rather than scholars, and that the aim of their own universities is to train servants for the State and to encourage learning. I think an Englishman would say that a gentleman is bred at home, but he would understand how the German arrived at his point of view. When a German talks of an English university he is thinking of Oxford and Cambridge, and he knows that, roughly speaking, it is the sons of well-to-do men who go there. Perhaps he does not know much about the Scotch and Irish and Welsh universities, or London, or the north of England; though it is never safe to build on what a German does not know. I once took for granted that a man talking to me of some point in history would no more remember all the names and dates of the Kings of Scotland than I remember them myself. But he knew every one, and was scandalised by my ignorance. So perhaps the average German knows better than I do what it costs a man to graduate at Edinburgh or at Dublin. Anyhow, he knows that three or four years at Oxford or Cambridge cost a good deal; and he knows that in Berlin, for instance, a student can live on sixty pounds a year, out of which he can afford about five pounds a term for academic fees. If he is too poor to pay his fees the authorities allow him to get into their debt, and pay later in life when he has a post. There are cases where a man pays for his university training six years after he has ended it. But a German university comes to a man's help still more effectively when there is need for it, and will grant him partial or even entire support. Then there are various organisations for providing hungry men with dinners so many days a week; sometimes at a public table, sometimes with families who arrange to receive one or more guests on certain days every week. The Jewish community in a university always looks after its poor students well, and this practice of entertaining them in private houses is one that gives rises to many jests and stories. The students soon find out which of their hosts are liberal and which are not, and give them a reputation accordingly.

A German comparing his universities with the English ones will always lay stress on the fact that his are not examining bodies, and that his professors are not crammers but teachers. A student who intends to pass the State examinations chooses his own course of reading for them, and the lectures that he thinks will help him. He does not necessarily spend his whole time at the same university, but may move from one to the other in pursuit of the professors he wants for his special purpose. He is quite free to do this; and he is free to work night and day, or to drink beer night and day. He is under no supervision either in his studies or his way of life.

English people who have been to Germany at all have invariably been to Heidelberg, and if they have been there in term time they have been amused by the gangs of young men who swagger about the narrow streets, each gang wearing a different coloured cap. They will have been told that these are the "corps" students, and the sight of them so jolly and so idle will confirm their mental picture of the German student, the picture of a young man who does nothing but drink beer, fight duels, sing Volkslieder and Trinklieder, and make love to pretty low-born maidens. When you see a company of these young men clatter into the Schloss garden on a summer afternoon, and drink vast quantities of beer, when you observe their elaborate ceremonial of bows and greetings, when you hear their laughter and listen to the latest stories of their monkey tricks, you understand that the student's life is a merry one, but except for the sake of tradition you wonder why he need lead it at a seat of learning. Anything further removed from learning than a German corps student cannot be imagined, and the noise he makes must incommode the quiet working students who do not join a corps. Not that the quiet working students would wish to banish the others. They are the glory of the German universities. In novels and on the stage none others appear. The innocent foreigner thinks that the moment a young German goes to the Alma Mater of his choice he puts on an absurd little cap, gets his face slashed, buys a boarhound, and devotes all his energies to drinking beer and ragging officials. But though the "corps" students are so conspicuous in the small university towns, it is only the men of means who join them. For poorer students there is a cheaper form of union, called a Burschenschaft. When a young German goes to the university he has probably never been from home before, and by joining a Corps or a Burschenschaft he finds something to take the place of home, companions with whom he has a special bond of intimacy, and a discipline that carries on his social education; for the etiquette of these associations is most elaborate and strict. The members of a corps all say "thou" to each other, and on the Alte Herren Abende, when members of an older generation are entertained by the young ones of to-day, this practice still obtains, although one man may be a great minister of State and the other a lad fresh from school. The laws of a "corps" remind you of the laws made by English schoolboys for themselves,—they are as solemnly binding, as educational, and as absurd. If a Vandal meets a Hessian in the street he may not recognise him, though the Hessian be his brother; but outside the town's boundary this prohibition is relaxed, for it is not rooted in ill feeling but in ceremony. One corps will challenge another to meet it on the duelling ground, just as an English football team will meet another—in friendly rivalry. All the students' associations except the theological require their members to fight these duels, which are really exercises in fencing, and take place on regular days of the week, just as cricket matches do in England. The men are protected by goggles and by shields and baskets on various parts of their bodies, but their faces are exposed, and they get ugly cuts, of which they are extremely proud. As it is quite impossible that I should have seen these duels myself, I will quote from a description sent me by an English friend who was taken to them in Heidelberg by a corps student. "They take place," he says, "in a large bare room with a plain boarded floor. There were tables, each to hold ten or twelve persons, on three sides of the room, and a refreshment counter on the fourth side, where an elderly woman and one or two girls were serving wine. The wine was brought to the tables, and the various corps sat at their special tables, all drinking and smoking. The dressing and undressing and the sewing up of wounds was done in an adjoining room. When the combatants were ready they were led in by their seconds, who held up their arms one on each side. The face and the top of the head were exposed, but the body, arms and neck were heavily bandaged. The duellists are placed opposite each other, and the seconds, who also have swords in their hands, stand one on each side, ready to interfere and knock up the combatant's sword. They say 'Auf die Mensur', and then the slashing begins. As soon as blood is drawn the seconds interfere, and the doctor examines the cut. If it is not bad they go on fighting directly. If it needs sewing up they go into the next room, and you wait an endless time for the next party. I got awfully tired of the long intervals, sitting at the tables, drinking and smoking. While the fights were going on we all stood round in a ring. There were only about three duels the whole morning. There was a good deal of blood on the floor. The women at the refreshment counter were quite unconcerned. They didn't trouble to look on, but talked to each other about blouses like girls in a post office. The students drove out to the inn and back in open carriages. It is a mile from Heidelberg. The duels are generally as impersonal as games, but sometimes they are in settlement of quarrels. I think any student may come and fight on these occasions, but I suppose he has to be the guest of a corps."

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