Journey across Bohemia--Prague--Description of the country--The people--Nobility-- Husbandry--Manufactures--Moravia--Olmutz--Brinn--Journey to Vienna--Description of the capital.
LENTMERITZ is a small town in Bohemia, situated on the river Elbe; it has some fortifications, but none of any great strength: near this place the King of Prussia gained a great victory over the Austrians in the last war. The neighbouring country was several times the seat of war, and suffered much: part of the mischiefs done, are not yet recovered; for there are several tracks of land belonging to a Bohemian nobleman, who resides at Vienna, which were once arable, but are now over-run with grass and weeds, and still have by no means near a stock of cattle proper for the land; and some villages are of a very poor appearance with several houses almost burnt down, that have not yet been repaired. The country that is cultivated, does not seem to be managed in an able man-
ner; and the peasants are much worse treated than they are in Saxony.
The 18th I reached Prague, the capital of Bohemia, and one of the largest cities in Europe. The country through which the road runs is various; much of it is of a fruitful soil, and tolerably cultivated in some parts, but there are in every track many marks of bad husbandry and inattention, greatly owing I suppose to a want of industry, and partly to the oppression which the peasants experience: They have some tolerable crops of wheat, but I never saw worse barley, or any corn more full of weeds; and they value it so little, that on various pieces of barley and pease I saw cattle feeding, which made me enquire if they were sown with intention to be eat green; but that was not the case; it is a mere instance of stupid neglect. I observed one or two pieces of flax, which looked very well. The winter food of their cattle is principally the cabbage, turnep, and red cabbage, which they cultivate in large quantities. I saw several young plantations of them, but they do not seem to manage them well.
Prague is very well situated on the river Muldaw, it is divided into two cities by that river. The fortifications are regular, and
much superior to what they were before the last war; but the city is of so great an extant, that it requires an army to defend it. It suffered very much by the siege it stood in the beginning of the war against the King of Prussia, who cannonaded and bombarded it in so severe a manner, that not many buildings escaped; whole quarters were beat down, or burnt, and I was shewn several very large gardens and young orchards, which before that siege were entirely covered with houses, then destroyed, and the people are too poor to rebuild them in a place where there are yet more houses than are occupied: scarcely any of the publick buildings escaped damage at the same siege. The university is one of the most famous in Germany, and has a vast number of students; the people at Prague talk of five thousand; what they might be formerly I know not, but at present they are short of three thousand. In 1409, when John Huss was rector, it is a fact that there were thirty thousand students here. The Jesuits college is one of the finest buildings in the city, but it suffered by several unlucky cannon balls, and is not yet thoroughly repaired. The bridge, which joins the old and the new town, is fifteen hundred and eighty feet long, by thirty broad, and has seventeen arches, and
is all of stone; it is a solid edifice, has nothing of elegance in it; and when a traveller hears that it was an hundred and fifty years a building, he will suppose it must have been in an age extremely poor, or been undertaken by a prince of little spirit. The finest edifices in the world are rarely those which were so long in raising. St. Peter's at Rome is an instance against me, but St. Paul's at London, and the bridge at Westminster, are strong ones in my favour, and many more might be quoted. The royal palace, and the cathedral, are very mean buildings that contain scarcely any thing worthy of notice. What at Prague are much the best worth seeing, are the palaces of the nobility; some of which are very noble edifices, that would make a great figure in the best built cities of Italy; several of them are of very great size, with most spacious apartments, and very magnificent furniture. Those of the princes Lobcowitz, and Ischarnan, and the counts Galas, Straka, Czaslaw, and Manstein, deserve particular attention; they contain many apartments that are worthy of sovereign princes, but the number of very good pictures is trifling.
Most of the Bohemian nobility, who are a numerous body, keep their residence in winter at Prague, and in summer on their estates.
None of them resort to Vienna, but such as are in office in the court, which is a very uncommon instance. It is their presence in this city that alone supports it; for without their resort, and the garrison, which is generally pretty numerous, the city would be a desart; being utterly destitute of both trade and manufactures: the university does something, but not much. All the lower classes here are poor; the burghers are treated by the nobles very contemptuously, to a degree not common elsewhere; if the place was ever so well situated for trade, or manufacture, this would be a sure means of damping their progress.
The 16th I left Prague, and went to Nymburg, a small town twenty five miles distant; the country various, but much of it pretty tolerably cultivated; rather better than the track to the north of Prague. The peasants are treated in a wretched manner; they have hovels of the worst sort to live in, little better than those in Westphalia; being loose stones laid on one another for the walls, and the crevices filled with mud, and the covering some strong poles, with turf spread on them, and a hole at top in the middle is all the chimney that any of them have; adjoining is their barn, built of the same materials, in which they stow their little corn, and keep their
cattle winter; each cottage has a few acres of land around it, with a cow or two, and a miserable pair either of horses or oxen for ploughing their land. In general, Sunday is the only day in the week which they are allowed for cultivating this land, in order to raise provisions for subsisting on the whole week; but in feed-time and harvest their lords indulge them with another: When I speak therefore of the husbandry of the country, I do not mean of the peasants, nor of the farmers, for there is scarcely any such thing, but of the nobility, and other landlords, who all cultivate their own estates by means of their agents and stewards. The peasants in every respect resemble nearly those of Poland, than whom they are not favoured more.
At first sight it may appear, that landlords, who act upon this system, must make far more of their estates, than those who let them, in the English manner, to farmers, because here the profit of the farmer is consolidated with that of the landlord; but, from the repeated observations which I have often had occasion of making, I am convinced that the case is the very contrary. If any estate was only of such a size as to form a good farm, it would be very true; but estates are thus cul-
tivated whose extent is from twenty to thirty thousand acres of cultivated land, either meadow, pasture, arable, sheep-walk, or woods, all in some culture or other, and a vast track arable. To be forced to cultivate such immense farms, they are obliged to have swarms of bailiffs and agents. In every place where a farm-house should be, is a bailiff's house, who manages a certain track of land. Thus the landlord is at the monstrous expence of stocking his whole estate, and running all the chances of that stock, and at the same time has to keep as many bailiffs as if they were farmers, and who all live out of the land before he has his clear profit, as much as if they were farmers; with this great distinction, that being merely servants, they have little interest in the success of their husbandry, and consequently the master suffers all the usual inconveniences of such a situation: his agents of all sorts cost him as much as farmers would make for themselves, supposing them honest; and if they turn out otherwise, a great deal more. Thus he gets none of the farmers profit, at the fame time that he loses the interest of all the money employed in stocking, and the chances to which that stock is liable. From which state of the affair, I think it is very evident, how
much more beneficial it is to let out an estate to farmers, for them to find the stock, cultivate the land, and employ the peasants, not only in mere profit of the year, but with a view to future improvements, which must always be conducted with far more effect by the people who work for their own interest, than by others who do it for a master, and a master perhaps who is always absent, or, if present, who understands nothing of the matter. What great improvements have been made in England by tenants, who enjoy the benefit during their lease, and then pay a fresh rent to their landlords on account of those very improvements! In population also the prince would reap a very great benefit; for when men are working for themselves, their industry will be very different from that of servants; and in proportion to the general industry, must population be: the peasants would likewise meet with less oppression, and consequently increase more.
They sow a good deal of wheat in this line of country; but their principal crop is barley. I observed many plantations of hops in the warm vales, where the soil is rich and deep: it is a common culture in most parts of Bohemia, I am told; and when the spot chosen for a hop-garden is suitable, they find it more
profitably applied than for any other crop. Beer is a very great article of trade throughout the kingdom, much being exported to all the surrounding countries; this makes barley and hops particularly advantageous. Saffron is another crop, which I saw now and then: they prefer a light, dry loam on a stratum of rock for it; they think it very profitable; an acre of good saffron is worth about three pounds here. Turneps and cabbages they have in large quantities for the winter support of their cattle: they prefer the latter in general: I saw many crops somewhat advanced in growth, but they do not seem to be attentive to keeping them free from weeds.
The 17th I reached Leutmyssel, at the distance of forty-five miles, passing through two or three pretty towns upon the banks of the Elbe. This country is more beautiful than the preceding, and of a richer soil; in some parts there are hills, but not so great as to be unprofitable land, while the vales form some very rich arable and meadow land; most of which is pretty well cultivated, under wheat, barley, and beans, which are much sown here: wheat yields from two, to two and an half quarter per acre; barley something more; beans four quarters; they choose for these their stiffest wet soils. They feed on their mea-
dows large herds of cows and oxen; and keep many sheep, but do not manufacture the wool; most of it is sold to Silesia and Saxony, both of which are much more industrious countries: They work up however some of their own flax into the same sort of linnens, as are made in Silesia, which is an employment of the poor people in many of the little towns in this kingdom; their earnings at this work are very small; a weaver in Silesia will earn about three and sixpence a week; but in Bohemia not more than half a crown: But provisions of all sorts are very cheap in both these countries. I saw two or three country seats belonging to noblemen; they are all built in the castle form, with a moat round, and seem to be extremely spacious; a nobleman of great fortune in this country, has seldom less than two or three hundred servants about him, when at his castle in the country; and he is an absolute monarch upon his estate, with power over every thing but life and death, and the royal revenue officers. This kind of dominion over all the lower classes, flatters the vanity and pride of the great, more than the amount of the advantages they would gain by the peasants being free; it is like the contrast of absolute authority to the limited power possessed by some kings; the latter
makes their people happy and rich, and might have the same effect upon themselves, but they are all hunting after the former.
The 18th I got to Olmutz, the capital of Moravia, the distance forty miles; crossing the mountains which separate the two countries, these are not very lofty, nor craggy, but they fill a track of country, of several miles broad; they exhibit, a wild territory, but little of which is cultivated: The peasants that inhabit there hills, are a rough intractable set of men, that will not submit to the oppressions under which their brethren of the plains groan; they have been often in rebellion, not against the sovereign, but the lords to whom they are vassals, they are in many respects treated much better; and their houses and little farms make a much better appearance; they have more and better cattle; some of them are in possession of small pieces of land which they have purchased, and all are extremely tenacious of this kind of property; they do not work for their masters more than three days in a week. It is always to be remarked, that the gradations of freedom are ever to be found in mountainous countries; in general such are free; but even under absolute monarchs they enjoy more liberty, than the subjects of the same prince who inhabit
plain countries: To live in hilly countries, requires more activity and vigour of body; the very moving from one place to another is laborious, the cold and blustering climates found in them, contribute to bracing up the human body, and to make it hardy. It is the same effect as is seen in cold climates, compared with hot ones, in whatever parts of the world they may be found. After the mountains are passed that separate the two countries, I went through a great extent of forest, and marsh land, very little of which is cultivated; and not much of it would pay for culture, unless the country in general was richer than it is.
Olmtitz is a small but very well built city, prettily situated on the little river Moravia. It is a strong place both by nature and art: so that the King of Prussia, when he made the famous irruption into Moravia, and laid siege to it, did not seem to have had good intelligence of the state of the town, or the garrison. The streets are regular and well paved, and there are many good houses in it; the only publick buildings of any note, are the Jesuits college, the bishop's palace, and the townhouse; the market place is surrounded by several well built houses. It is an agreeable town, and the inhabitants seem to be a very sociable
people, with more activity and industry, than is to be found among the Bohemians. Provisions are very cheap here: I lived at the Empress's Arms inn, two days, upon exceeding good fish and fowl, and good Hungarian wine, and when I paid my reckoning, I found that six shillings went to the full, as far as a guinea in England. Beef is only three half pence a pound; mutton is sometimes sold at a penny; and a fat turkey is to be bought for fourteen pence.
The 21st I left Olmutz, and proceeded to Brinn, the distance thirty miles, through a much more fertile country than north of Olmutz; it is better peopled, and much more of it cultivated: They do not sow much wheat here, but a great deal of rye, barley, pease, and beans; and the crops in general, carried a good appearance; they keep great herds of cattle, feeding them in winter on cabbages, turneps, and straw; all the latter, which they give to their cattle, they cut almost as small as chaff, with an engine made on purpose; very different from the chaff-cutter used in England. They chop the turneps, or cabbages into small pieces, and give them with chopt straw, and find that they go much the farther, and nourish the cattle much better. I never heard of any thing of this fort
being practiced in England; yet I should apprehend that it could not fail of answering extremely; it is certainly much worth the trial. They have vast herds of swine, which find their own subsistance in woods, and swampy grounds for most part of the year. They fatten them on beans, pease, and potatoes, which they cultivate on purpose: selling great quantities of bacon to Vienna, &c.
Brinn is well situated on the confluence of two rivers, and is reckoned the strongest place in Moravia; it has a castle that is very strong; the Austrians have usually a good garrison here; several new fortifications have been added both to this place, and to Olmutz since the last war, which I suppose were occasioned by the King of Prussia's bold march into this country, which alarmed them excessively at Vienna. There are about six thousand inhabitants in Brinn; the streets are narrow and crooked, but many of the houses very well built, and some of the publick edifices make a tolerable appearance, particularly the Jesuits college, and the churches of St. James, and St. Thomas.
The 22d I reached Laba, a little town thirty miles from Brinn; the country between them is better than the preceding; has less waste land, fewer forests and marshes; and
the arable land beyond comparison better cultivated. This is in a great measure owing to the attention given to husbandry-improvements by the court of Vienna. They were at the expence some years ago, of bringing several Flemish farmers from the country, between Ostend and Bruges; three of them were settled in this country, being supplied with all sorts of implements, cattle, houses, land, &c. by the Empress Queen, and fixed upon some waste, but very fertile lands belonging to the crown. They have had a large succession of Moravian peasants, regularly work- ing under them, in order to be instructed in the Flemish husbandry; who being discharged when fresh ones are taken, have much spread several excellent customs, and will in all probability, much improve the agriculture of the greatest part of the province. The effect has already been very considerable; for though these Flemings do not occupy a thousand acres of land in all, yet their methods already spread over a country near fifteen miles long; all the husbandry of which is by their means much improved. They have introduced clover here, which turns out one of the most beneficial crops that can be sown; they have also made this culture of clover a preparation for wheat, so that they have almost entirely
banished the custom of fallowing for wheat which was the common method in Moravia. Spurry they also brought with them, with which they feed cows. To them likewise the Moravians are indebted for a much more systematic management of manure, than what they formerly followed: They form composts of dung, rotten vegetables, vast quantities of leaves, swept up on purpose in the open forests, turf, ashes, and other materials, which they mix together several times, and spread upon their clover fields--and on their cabbage grounds: They have also made them abundantly more attentive in keeping all their crops clear from weeds and in good order, by hoeing and weeding; all the cabbages I saw in this district, which has been profited thus from the example of the Flemings, were in very fine order, both in respect to pulverized soil, and a clearness from weeds.
I saw the castle of baron Skulitz, who had been extremely attentive in spreading this good Flemish husbandry. He resides constantly on his estate, and makes agriculture not only his business, but also his amusement: Immediately on their exhibiting a culture, superior to the old management of the Moravians, he followed it with so much intelligence and spirit that he has advanced the va-
lue of his estate considerably: He entered presently into all their views, and introduced the best husbandry of the Austrian provinces upon his own lands. Falling into discourse on the road with one of his bailiffs, he pointed out to me several large tracks of land, which not long ago were entirely waste, but are now by this worthy nobleman's attention, better cultivated than most of the province. He has introduced various new branches of husbandry, which answer better than common crops; among these, hops and saffron he brought from Bohemia; madder from Silesia; and he raises both hemp and flax in large quantities: All these crops he is remarkably attentive to, and gives them such uncommon fair play, that his first trials, contrary to what is generally met with, turned out greatly successful, from whence he has been induced to continue them ever since, and greatly to enlarge all his plantations of them, by which, and various other means, he has improved his revenues in a surprizing manner.
The owners of extensive landed estates, in poor countries, have all such an opportunity of increasing their income; and it is very amazing they do not oftener take advantage of it. If, like the nobleman here mentioned,
they would reside upon their estates, instead of spending all their time in the capital, squandering their revenues in a gulf of luxury, the measure of which is never full, and which cannot fail of impoverishing them, and bringing them into the most slavish dependence upon the will of the court; if they would act thus, they would find money flow into their coffers in a far greater abundance than they can ever hope to receive from the smiles of ministers; at the same time that they would reside where a shilling goes as far as a pound. In the profusion of a capital, the greatest estates are spent without making any unusual figure; but in the country, half the income would enable them to build and furnish costly palaces, and raise whole cities around them to be witnesses of their splendor.--I have, in the course of my travels, met with several instances, which shew, in the clearest light, the enjoyment and undoubted happiness which this kind of life confers, even upon noblemen, whose rank and revenue would allow them all the amusements of any metropolis. It is a most happy thing to any country, when a sovereign gives all the encouragement in his power to promote this rural attention in nobles, which cannot fail
of turning out highly beneficial to the whole community.
The 23d I got to Vienna, which is five-and-twenty miles from Laba, through a country that is very unequal, part of it being very rich, populous, and well cultivated, and much of it hilly, wild, and to appearance barren. In the cultivated tracks are many noblemen's seats; and the husbandry around them is visibly much better than elsewhere, which is owing to their drawing the peasants, as it were, into a string around them. They plant great quantities of saffron, which they reckon the most profitable crop they have: they have also plenty of good crops of wheat and barley; and their extensive meadows and pastures feed large herds of cattle, which from the neighbourhood of Vienna turn to very good account. I saw several crops of the turnep cabbage for cattle. But husbandry suffers much in all this country, and indeed through most parts of Germany, for want of inclosures: they might easily make them, and at a small expence, but neglect the work entirely, which must be for want of fully understanding the advantages of them: Indeed, labour is of so little value, that every sort of cattle has always a keeper with them, tho'
the herd is ever so small, yet corn and saffron often suffer.
Vienna is situated on the south side of the Danube, but has not the advantage of that great river running through it; for it stands on a small branch of it, there being several islands formed here, by the river dividing itself. If the suburbs are included, it is a very large city, but within the walls and fortifications it is only three miles in circumference. It is regularly fortified, but has so few outworks, as to be a place of small strength, and only defended by a small army. At the siege in 1683, the Turks shewed themselves to be extremely ignorant in the art of conducting such an enterprise; and their engineers were miserable ones, else they might have taken the city some time before the King of Poland raised the siege; and had that event happened, Hungary had now been in possession of the Ottomans.
Vienna within the walls makes a most inelegant appearance, from the narrowness of the streets. I am one who would not give sixpence for a fine building, if there is not a sufficient area to view it from. The English boast of the church of St. Paul's at London; and will sometimes assert it equal to St. Peter's at Rome; but if it were doubly finer, I should
prefer St Peter's, from the opportunity one has of viewing it; and the area around a great building, ought to be so much esteemed a part of it, as to be criticized with it; and the architect's abilities called in question for faults in it, as much as if he blundered in the proportion of the cupola. Thus in Vienna, there are many palaces (of which I had read and heard much,) in streets as narrow as old Bristol; and at the same time all the houses are five, six, seven, and some of them eight stories high; and it is aid, they have almost as many stories of cellars under ground, as of floors above. Formerly all the windows were grated with iron bars like prisons, from the street to the upper floor, and vast numbers of houses are so now, but I see it is left off in the principal palaces.
The imperial palace is a structure that will answer to none that sees it; it consists of several courts, surrounded with irregular buildings; though, notwithstanding some late additions, it makes but a very mean appearance; the apartments are neither spacious, nor furnished in the manner one would expect, for a court long famed as one of the most expensive in Europe. The library is supposed to rank among the first in Europe; the number of
volumes are not less than ninety thousand; and the collection of manuscripts, supposed to be extremely valuable. I was shewn several great curiosities, but upon these occasions there never is time allowed for any useful examination, and if there were, it would signify little to the unlearned in the oriental tongues, in which the most valuable manuscripts are written.
Many of the palaces of the nobility, are most magnificent structures; that of the great Eugene with his famous library and collections I had most pleasure in viewing; the Mansfield palace, and that of count Daun, are also great edifices, with several others, in which the painting, gilding; carving, and furniture are as rich as possible.
The university of Vienna, is very famous in Germany and Hungary; the number of students is considerable, and they have good accommodations for those of fortune, and many valuable privileges.
There is not much worth seeing in the churches of Vienna; the cathedral is the principal, and it is a large building; but nothing is uncommon in it but the height of its spire, which, since Strasburg, is become French, is the highest in the empire. The Jesuits church is a fine building; and the convents of
Carmelites, Franciscans, Benedictines, and Austin Friars, are visited by those who take any delight in viewing these sort of buildings; for my part, I have an aversion at seeing such useless edifices filled with tribes of pernicious orders of lazy priests, who do nothing to gain their livelihood, but are maintained by the industry of every body else: It is amazing, that Roman catholick princes do not find out that every monk in their dominions might be a soldier, without the country suffering a whit the more: and in many cases the soldier would pay well for his maintenance; but as to the monk, he is subsisted in the most unuseful of all species of idleness.--But there are other instances of the catholick piety of Vienna, besides her monks and nuns; in one of the squares, is a very large and costly statue of the Trinity, representing the Deity clasping Christ in his arms, and the Holy Ghost hovering over them. This was erected by the Emperor Leopold, instead of an equestrian statue, which in other cities would have been erected to the sovereign. To this famous piece of folly, all the Roman catholicks bow as they pass. Religious prejudices should certainly be laid aside by all travellers but is it possible for a man of sense not to rejoice, that education has not enslaved him to
an observance of, or veneration for such mummery? In many instances, religion makes Roman catholick countries extremely disagreeable to travel through.
I brought several letters of recommendation to Vienna, to persons from whose conversation, I expected some valuable information concerning the general state of all the Austrian dominions at present, in respect of agriculture, manufactures, commerce, revenues, and military power; but I was strangely disappointed: there is a haughty reserve in every man of the least consequence here, which not only precludes any information of this fort; but at the same time renders a residence in any but a publick character very disagreeable at Vienna. But after all my letters had failed, that is, introduced me only to people who thought that I had no business with any thing but eating, drinking, going to court, and playing at cards, a life by no means agreeable to me; after this I fell accidentally into company with a field-officer in their service, a native of Milan: this gentleman was extremely communicative, very sensible, and had travelled often through most of the dominions of the Empress Queen. He gave me a very rational, and candid account of things, as appeared by his manner, and
the confirmations I had afterwards from several persons in other parts of Europe. To agriculture this gentleman had not at all attended; he could give me no more account of its general state in the countries he had been in, than with that of the moon. I found from him however, that the manufactures which have lately been established in Hungary, flourish very much; the Empress Queen, and her ministers, have long been eager to cloath her troops with her subjects manufactures; instead of selling all their wool unmanufactured. Hungary, as well as Austria, Bohemia, and Moravia, feed many sheep, especially Hungary, a great part of which is a continued and fertile sheep-walk. Great numbers of Hungarians have been et to work upon this wool; and weavers, spinners, reelers, &c. brought from Flanders, to teach the natives to work it; and many of them have proved very docile in learning: so that at present, woollen goods are made to the amount of near an hundred thousand pounds a year, which is a very great thing in Hungary-- where, before these exertions, were no manufactures at all--They are established in most of the populous towns of that kingdom; and if they are brought, to employ the poor people in them, who have no other em-
ployment, it will be an immense acquisition, and save the export of very great sums of money. As to trade, the inland situation of the Austrian dominions, is such as allows of very little foreign commerce. Attempts were made at Triest, but they were so languid, and suffered such interruptions during the war, that the commerce of the port is yet nothing that deserves mention; notwithstanding that an active prince, liberal in useful expence, and attentive to such improvements, might have made Triest the seat of a considerable commerce; but all these circumstances have been wanting.
The revenues of the dominions of the house of Austria, are considerable; the following account of them was given to this gentleman, by a person who had many opportunities of being well informed.
Bohemia Moravia Hungary Austria Transilvania Sclavonia and Croatia Stria, Curinthia, and Carniola Tyroll, Brixen, Trent The countries of Swabia ś700,000 190,000 400,000 400,000 50,000 100,000 200,000 160,000 20,000
The Netherlands Milan, and Mantua Tuscany Total 150,000 400,000 500,000 ś3,270,000 What degree of accuracy there is in this table; I am not able to ascertain, but from the information I have received from other hands, I believe the total to be near the truth: but Tuscany must not be reckoned: the common idea at Vienna coincides with these particulars; which makes the Imperial revenue near three millions: though there are some sanguine politicians, who insist on it's amounting to five; but that is much exaggerated. The revenues of all these countries might be very much improved; nobody doubts but a better system of taxation, and a more ‘conomical collection would raise five millions, with very near as much ease to the people as three at present; but the lower classes of the people throughout most of these dominions are miserably fleeced, and pillaged, while the nobility escape with paying a much less proportion than they ought. The Netherlands might in particular yield a very considerable revenue, and prove the finest and most profitable pro-
vinces belonging to the house of Austria; but in order to that, great changes should be made in the constitutions of the cities; manufactures should receive encouragement, and commerce be re- established in the ports; all which might be easily done, and the revenues of the sovereign become wonderfully improved; whereas at present they yield no more than might be expected if they were situated no better than Austria, or Moravia, instead of being the finest spot in Europe, in every respect; and inhabited by a people naturally as industrious as any in the world. Flanders, since the Dutch were masters of the navigation of Antwerp has wanted a port; but Ostend, for an hundred thousand pounds, might be made as good a one as any in Europe for merchantmen.
The many improvements, which have been talked of by the court of Vienna for the hereditary dominions, in agriculture, manufactures, and commerce, were they put in execution, would at the same time much improve the revenue, and in a manner free the country of those evils, which usually flow from increasing the publick income of a crown. But there is a dilatoriness and a languor in every thing transacted at this court, even in its own most intricate concerns, that damp the spirit
of all improvement, so that any object of this sort, upon a moderate computation, will be talked of half a century, before it is executed; this was the case with the establishment of the woollen manufacture in Hungary, and with every thing else: so that it is not thought the Austrian revenues, however they would admit of it, will for a long time be put upon a better footing than they are, or have any other improvements than what results from oppressing the lower classes of the people still more: than which no measure can give a greater stab to all general national improvements. Was the King of Prussia possessed of the Austrian dominions in exchange for his own, we should soon see them make a very different appearance; he would raise much greater revenues, with far greater ease to the people; and would throw such a vigour into all the transactions which the possession of Flanders, and the Italian dominions would introduce him to, that the importance of them would speedily appear in a very different light from what they do at present.
The great object of attention at Vienna, is the army; this is so far reprehensible in politicks, as it encreases the necessity of laying a foundation previous to every superstructure: it is the revenue that pays and supports the army,
and all increase of the latter must depend on a foregoing increase of the former: to raise a great revenue is much more essential, than to raise a great army; but the soldiers have a peculiar faculty of swallowing up a revenue, they have none at creating it. That prince therefore, who would be truly formidable, should attend to the prosperity of his income, before he thinks of greatly increasing his troops.
The following are the particulars of the present standing forces of the house of Austria. I insert them on the same authority as the above paper of the revenue; believing from other information which I have received, that it is near the truth; though I should remark, that all lists of armies are apt to exceed the reality, rather than fall beneath it.
Men. Dragoons Curiassers Hussars, and Croats Hunters Free troops Infantry Artillery Total 23,846 16,000 14,640 6,300 8,000 164,386 2,800 235,972
The whole army, whatever the total maybe, is certainly in excellent order; the regiments full, and well officered, their cloathing regularly delivered, their arms much better than ever; the artillery very numerous; and no expence has been spared informing engineers; the magazines of ammunition and all sorts of military stores, full, and in good order: these attentions have occupied the court ever since the peace, and they have been indefatigable in them. Now, that all these particulars are compleated, they are employed in repairing all the fortifications in Bohemia, Moravia, Austria, Hungary, and Transilvania; new ones are in some places erecting, and many old ones greatly improved; this is a work of immense expence, and consequently it goes on slowly. In every one of these particulars, the Austrians strength is greater than at the breaking out of the last war. I before remarked, that the case was the same with the King of Prussia. These potentates are certainly jealous of each other; but I believe in no respect that threatens a fresh war: but the state of affairs in other parts, makes it necessary for them to be strongly armed. The aspect of affairs in Prussia and Poland, fills the house of Austria with uneasiness; and although Prussia espouses in her manifestos the same cause in Polish affairs as
the Russian Empress, still it can only be, because the power of that empire is too great for him to break with. Most certainly the increase of the formidableness of Russia, ought in good politicks to fill both Prussia, and Austria with the deepest jealousy; future alliances with it, in case of a new war in Germany, must be very uncertain; and against whoever she declares, her weight will probably fall too heavy to be resisted. The opportunity of the war between the Russians and Turks, has generally been taken by the Austrians for attacking the Porte: such a measure now would insure the restoration of Belgrade and Servia, and perhaps yet greater advantages; but not making use of it, may be owing to two reasons: first, in return for the Turks not playing the same game when the Empress Queen was at war with Prussia; and secondly, because such a conduct would give greater advantages to the arms of Russia, than the house of Austria wishes to see.