Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 11/The fetters of a German

Page:Once a Week Jun to Dec 1864.pdf/217 Page:Once a Week Jun to Dec 1864.pdf/218 Page:Once a Week Jun to Dec 1864.pdf/219 Page:Once a Week Jun to Dec 1864.pdf/220 Page:Once a Week Jun to Dec 1864.pdf/221 Page:Once a Week Jun to Dec 1864.pdf/222 Page:Once a Week Jun to Dec 1864.pdf/223 would render it almost impossible to carry on their business. Foreign assurance companies, like foreigners generally, need a special concession, and have great difficulty in obtaining it.

The vast majority of concessions must be obtained from the government; but in some states the higher nobility have the right to grant them for the villages and districts which belong to them, and so have convents and charitable foundations. In some of the towns concessions for such trades and professions as chimney-sweeping, gelding, dealing in old clothes, and rag collecting, are granted by the municipality. The grant or refusal of a concession is a perfectly arbitrary act; no proof of capacity, good character, property, or even of the wants of a locality constitutes a title to it. The application often draws its slow length along for years; and many a man at length obtains by unwearying importunity an authorisation which has been refused him several times, and would be refused to any less pertinacious applicant. What wonderful reasons sometimes govern the decision of the authorities, or at least are assigned by those Solons, may be judged from the answer given by the magistrates of a small town in the south to an application for a concession to manufacture cider. The application was refused,

1st. Because hitherto beer had always been drunk in the town.

2nd. Because the cider, from the want of competition, might not be prepared properly.

3rd. Because its manufacture might possibly lead to a large exportation, and then the authorities would lack the means of supervising it.

Concessions are always revocable, at the will of the authorities granting them.

With several trades the interference is even more minute. Thus, in some towns the number of barber-surgeons or chimney-sweepers will be fixed by law. A baker and a butcher's shop will be allowed to a thousand souls, and the police charged with the maintenance of the proportion. The interference goes still further. A Frankfort butcher may only kill a certain number of oxen or swine in a week. With this interference is often combined the regulation by the police of the price of bread, meat, and even beer and cider, according to the prices of grain, cattle, and fruit. There is yet another mode of obtaining liberty to carry on business in Germany. The right to exercise certain trades, especially those of baker, butcher, brewer, vintner, and miller, is often attached to the possession of certain houses, and can be acquired with thorn. The purchaser of this realrecht, "real" right, can carry on the business under the usual conditions, being sometimes bound to give proof of capacity and character, and sometimes not; but in all cases he must have the Bürgerrecht of the town. These real rights are not always attached to particular houses, or even localities; they are sometimes entirely personal. In both cases they can be sold, left by will, and mortgaged, just like any other property. Their number in some states, especially in Bavaria, is very large.

Upon this chaos, the most striking features of which I have roughly drawn, a little light is now breaking. Since 1860 the guild and concession system has been modified in some states; and in others plans of reform are engaging the serious attention of the governments and people. Even, however, where the old system has been dealt with most radically very much remains to be done before real freedom of industry is established. Although the laws restricting freedom of trade have been partially modified, those restraining freedom of locomotion remain everywhere in all their baneful vigour. There is still but one spot in his great German fatherland which the German can, in a material sense, call his country. The care of a paternal government, or the narrow jealousies of his neighbours, still confine him to the stifling limits of a place which may have become a hell to him, or driven him to seek a home beyond the bounds of Germany. If the German nation would achieve the great future to which it aspires, it must first conquer for itself material freedom. Political liberty will follow quickly enough; and it will then come to a people whom the habit of self-reliance, given by industrial liberty, will have prepared for political self-government.




DAME ELEANOR'S RETURN.

Dame Eleanor waits by the tallest tree,
In the avenue down from the ball;
Dame Eleanor hears the surge of the sea,
She watches the red leaves fall.

A stealthy step on the moonlit turf,—
A clinging of lips and hands:
"My bark is biding beyond the surf
To bear us to warmer lands:

"Bring gold, bring gems, and flee from the bower
Of the lord thou lovest no more;
My lady is all too fair a flower
To bloom on this barren shore!"

Sir Harold has track'd his traitress wife,
"Draw, thief! draw, coward!" he cries:
The defter Spaniard flashes his knife;
Sir Harold, he falls, and dies.

The morning breeze flings the red leaves down
On a pool of curdling gore:
The morning breeze a bark has blown
Away from the Cornish shore.