(From the 1886 Cassell & Company edition)
Charles P. Moritz's "Travels, chiefly on foot, through several parts
of England in 1782, described in Letters to a Friend," were
translated from the German by a lady, and published in 1795. John
Pinkerton included them in the second volume of his Collection of
Voyages and Travels.
The writer of this account of England as it was about a hundred
years ago, and seven years before the French Revolution, was a young
Prussian clergyman, simply religious, calmly enthusiastic for the
freer forms of citizenship, which he found in England and contrasted
with the military system of Berlin. The touch of his times was upon
him, with some of the feeling that caused Frenchmen, after the first
outbreak of the Revolution, to hail Englishmen as "their forerunners
in the glorious race." He had learnt English at home, and read
Milton, whose name was inscribed then in German literature on the
banners of the free.
In 1782 Charles Moritz came to England with little in his purse and
"Paradise Lost" in his pocket, which he meant to read in the Land of
Milton. He came ready to admire, and enthusiasm adds some colour to
his earliest impressions; but when they were coloured again by hard
experience, the quiet living sympathy remained. There is nothing
small in the young Pastor Moritz, we feel a noble nature in his true
simplicity of character.
He stayed seven weeks with us, three of them in London. He
travelled on foot to Richmond, Windsor, Oxford, Birmingham, and
Matlock, with some experience of a stage coach on the way back; and
when, in dread of being hurled from his perch on the top as the
coach flew down hill, he tried a safer berth among the luggage in
the basket, he had further experience. It was like that of Hood's
old lady, in the same place of inviting shelter, who, when she crept
out, had only breath enough left to murmur, "Oh, them boxes!"
Pastor Moritz's experience of inns was such as he hardly could pick
up in these days of the free use of the feet. But in those days
everybody who was anybody rode. And even now, there might be cold
welcome to a shabby-looking pedestrian without a knapsack. Pastor
Moritz had his Milton in one pocket and his change of linen in the
other. From some inns he was turned away as a tramp, and in others
he found cold comfort. Yet he could be proud of a bit of practical
wisdom drawn by himself out of the "Vicar of Wakefield," that taught
him to conciliate the innkeeper by drinking with him; and the more
the innkeeper drank of the ale ordered the better, because Pastor
Moritz did not like it, and it did not like him. He also felt
experienced in the ways of the world when, having taken example from
the manners of a bar-maid, if he drank in a full room he did not
omit to say, "Your healths, gentlemen all."
Fielding's Parson Adams, with his AEschylus in his pocket, and
Parson Moritz with his Milton, have points of likeness that bear
strong witness to Fielding's power of entering into the spirit of a
true and gentle nature.