Hirschberg. 5. September. 1800.
After a tour of nearly four weeks, in the course of which we have visited most of the places worthy of remark in the province of lower Silesia, we are once more here, upon our return home, which we concluded to take through Dresden & Leipzig—In my former letters from this place, you have seen how much we were pleased with it, & it is with no small satisfaction that we have now an opportunity of renewing our visit here, & taking a last parting view of these enchanting prospects, & of the lofty, giant mountains.
We left Breslau on Wednesday the 3d: instt: in the afternoon, & came that night four german miles to Neumarckt—About half way there, we passed through the village of Leuthen, near which we were shewn the spot, where on the 5th: of December, 1757, was fought the famous battle, which bears the name of that place. Of the thirteen pitched battles won by Frederic the second in the course of his reign, this was the most decisive, & personally to him the most glorious. Upon the event of that day, more than upon that of any other, the existance of Prussia as an independent power depended. The victory was compleat, over an enemy, whose numbers more than doubled his own, & it was so entirely owing to the superiority of Frederic’s tactics, that Guibert says, his troops can scarcely be allowed to share the honor of it with him.
From Neumarckt, a small fortified town distinguished only for the cultivation of tobacco, & of nadder in its neighbourhood, we came yesterday eleven german miles, through Liegnitz & Goldberg to this town. It is the greatest distance I ever remember to have travelled in one day in Germany; though we stopped a couple of hours in each of these towns to see what was remarkable in them. But the roads are all turnpikes; nearly if not quite equal to those of England, & we have now no longer the same inducement that we had six weeks ago, to lengthen out purposely our progress through the country, to enjoy the beauties of a land laden with plenteous harvests. They are now all gathered, & even the most fruitful soil, has the bare & solitary aspect of a desert. The only views of abundance, which are to be seen, are the orchards of fruit trees, & I have already told you that this country is not remarkably favoured in the production of fruit. There is little to be seen, excepting apples, pears & plums.
Leignitz is a considerably large fortified town—It was formally one of those governed by its own dukes, & was one of those places, to which Frederic the second had some pretentions when he ascended the throne; to give validity to which, he began the war, which ended by his conquest of all Silesia. There is a magnificent building still here, which was formerly a jesuit’s church & college. Only two of them are now left; of the spacious church the walls & roof alone remain, & they threaten a speedy ruin—A small chapel containing the bones & the monument of the last duke of Liegnitz, & his family, will fall with the church. The inscription upon the monument, erected by a princess of Anhalt, the widow of the last duke was so curious that I regretted I had not time to take a copy of it. The purport was, that it was erected in 1679, in honor of the last descendant of the family of Piast—It is possible, that this is the first time the name of Piast meets your eye: yet if full credit is due to this inscription, there are few names so illustrious known in Europe. According to it the family began in the year 775, & expired with the last duke of Liegnitz in 1675, after having lasted exactly nine hundred years, in the course of which it gave twenty four kings to Poland, one hundred & twenty three dukes to Silesia, preserved Europe from being overrun by the Tartars, introduced the arts, sciences, Commerce & manufactures into the north, & atcheived many other deeds of glory & renown—Such is the end of many a great name—A few years will bury in ruins the very monument destined to record the fame of the piasts.
There is at Liegnitz an institution, supported at the king’s expence, for the education of twelve young noblemen, to which a count Cospoth has added a foundation for two more—It is called the knightly academy. And the object of the institution is, to give the instruction necessary to form an officer of the army. A military school. Each of the young men has a horse, & there is a manége, that belongs to the house. Besides the mathematics, fortification, & the properly military studies, they are taught the Latin & french languages, & natural philosophy; as also the use of many instruments invented for the purpose of agriculture, & the arts. Of these instruments they have a collection of models in miniature, by which the professors teach the students their use & construction. This is a very useful addition to the common course of studies in the education of youth & I wish something similar were introduced into the universities of our own country. The number of students at the academy of Liegnitz is not limited exclusively to the fourteen of the two foundations; but they admit other scholers, whose parents support the expence of their education. The whole number of the students, who are at present there is twenty four.
There is a single manufactory of broad cloth at Liegnitz, the proprietors of which have an exclusive privilege for twenty years. They make not more than eight hundred pieces annually, principally for the use of the troops. At this manufactory the whole process of cloth making is carried through; but they have neither the spinning, nor the carding machines.
But the greatest cloth manufacturing town in the province, next to Grünberg, is Goldberg, which contains about seven thousand inhabitants, among whom there are not less than a thousand cloth weavers. They make about twenty thousand pieces of cloth by the year, which for the most part they export to Russia, Poland & various parts of the German empire.
In coming from Goldberg here, we passed over the Capellenberg; a mountain about a german mile distant from the town, & upon which there is an ample & beautiful prospect, which had been highly extolled to us; but which we could not enjoy; the night having overtaken us before we reached it. We arrived here at ten last evening.
Dresden. 11. September. 1800.
We have been obliged for various reasons to hurry the last part of our journey more than I could have wished, & to travel post haste through a country, which would have afforded us ample occupation & amusement for more than a fortnight. On Saturday the 6th. we left Hirschberg, & came five german miles to Flinsburg, another of the Silesian bathing & water drinking places. The local situation is at least as beautiful as that of Landech, but the baths are not so much frequented, & this summer in particular the tour of the king & Queen into the province has nearly deprived Flinsburg, which lies remote from the route they took, of all its visitors. The season at all these places is now past, & we found here no company at all. We lengthened our road three german miles to come through the spot, not for the sake of itself, but for the purpose of visiting Mäffersdorf, a Saxon village about half a german mile distant from it, where there is one of the high mountains usually ascended by travellers, called the Tafelficte, & what, after having climbed so many mountains, was much more interesting to us, where lives a certain Baron Gersdorf, a man of learning & mechanical genius, thoroughly acquainted with every part of this range of mountains, concerning which he has published several esteemed treatises. But upon arriving at Flinsburg we found there was no stage for post horses nearer than Greiffenberg, two german miles distant, & the place to which we were going. It would have taken us a whole day to get horses thence, & as we had no time to spare we were obliged to give up our visit to Mäffersdorf, & proceed to Greiffenberg with the same horses we had taken at Hirschberg.
Greiffenberg is the fifth of the mountain towns as I have mentioned to you in a former letter, & the only one we had not yet seen. It has about 2200 inhabitants, & exports the finest linen made in the mountains to the value of about a million of dollars annually—Our time would not allow us to pass a day here, & examine the manufactures, which however differ not from those of the other towns where the same trade is carried on. Between this place & the next stage called Lauban, we passed the boundaries, & entered into Saxony—We came the same night, Sunday, to Görlitz.
The manufactures of broad cloth & of linen, are as celebrated through this province of Lusace, as in Silesia; we intended to have seen them all with the same leisure & attention, but have been obliged to abandon this part of our original plan. Our shortness of time prevented us even from visiting Zitlau, which is distant only four german miles from Görlitz, & where the principal manufactures of damask table linen are established. I did however take one day to go & see Hernhuth, the largest & earliest settlement of the Moravian fraternity, from which place the whole community bear in German usually the name of Hernhuters. There are three of these settlements in Silesia, near two of which we passed, in our tour, but without then knowing they were there—I had formerly passed in sight of the settlement of Zeyst, in the province of Utrecht, but without seeing it; so that this had to me all the effect of novelty—More so indeed than it probably would have had to you, who have seen the moravian settlements in Pennsylvania. The number of inhabitants at Hernhuth is about 1150—In the house where the young men dwell there are 170 beds; in that of the young women about 200—with all the usual trades of the society carried on in the perfection, & at the high prices for which they are every where noted. Besides these houses there are various stores & ware houses in the town belonging to the community, where they have imported articles of all kinds for sale. In the burying yard, are the graves of Count Zinzendorf, the founder of the society, as renewed about the year 1722, & of his two wives. One of his daughters is yet living, & with her husband, a Baron de Watteville, resides at the place.
I returned the same evening, Monday the 8th: to Görlitz, & the next morning we continued our journey hither. The Landeskrone, a basaltic hill, not more than an english mile in circumference at the foot, & five, or six hundred feet high, was one of the objects which it had been our intention to see, & to ascend, but as we passed by it, a few miles on this side of Görlitz, the weather was so thick & lowering, that we could not have enjoyed the prospect from the summit, & we postponed it for another opportunity, which in all probability will never occur. The 9th. we slept at Bauzen, another large & handsomely built town, of which we could only pass our approbation upon the external walls, & yesterday the 10th: came through the small town of Biscoffwerde, to this place where we arrived at four in the afternoon.
Having now completed our tour through Silesia, & brought you to a place with which your own personal acquaintance renders all descriptions & narratives superfluous, I shall here close my series of letters to you commenced at my departure from Berlin, & in future only write you occasionally as at other times—It has been my object to make you participate in some sort, in the pleasure I have derived from one of the most pleasant tours I ever made & at the same time to compensate in some part for the neglect of having in the course of last spring received from you at various times seven letters before I answered one. If you should think the remedy worse than the evil, you will at least give credit for the intention.
We purpose spending only five or six days here, & then to go on to Leipzig, where if we can find convenient lodgings we mean to stay a month, or six weeks, through the season of the fair—We have sent Whitcomb forward to procure the lodgings, in which if we should not succeed, we shall prolong our stay here, for a month.
For these two months I have enjoyed the great & unwonted pleasure of hearing & knowing scarcely any thing about politics. It has been a period of armistice upon this continent, & therefore a time of little interest, & little consequence—The trade of human butchery, I am told is now about to commence again. But either it is mere demonstration, between the parties to see which can be bullied into the other’s terms, or the war, if renewed, will be very short. The balance is now so decidedly preponderant on the side of France, that it is not in the power of fortune to turn it against her, & if Austria fights again, it will only be to bleed away ‘till the last drop of life shall call with irresistable necessity to be stopped.
The success of the french this campaign, & the prospects of our next election have likewise occasioned the failure of our commissioners in France, to obtain that indemnification, to which we were entitled, though from robbery reduced to beggery, the plundered can never have much hope of restitution. They probably think by their present system to decide the fate of our election for a change, & by all the accounts I have from America they have good reason for this opinion.
MHi: Adams Family Papers, Letterbooks.