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CHAP. X.

BERLIN. MANAGEMENT OF THE POOR IN BERLIN.

CONCERNING THE MANAGEMENT OF THE POOR.

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BERLIN has the air of the metropolis of a kingdom of yesterday. No Gothic churches, narrow streets, fantastic gable ends, no historical stone and lime, no remnants of the picturesque ages, recal the olden time. Voltaire in satin breeches and powdered peruke, Frederic the Great in jackboots and pigtail, and the French classical age of Louis XIV., are the men and times Berlin calls up to the imagination of the traveller. A fine city, however, Berlin is-very like the age she represents very fine and very nasty. Berlin is a city of palaces, that is, of huge barrack-like edifices. with pillars, statues, and all the regular frippery of the tawdry school of classical French architecture-all in stucco, and frequently out at elbows, discovering the naked brick under the tattered yellow faded covering of plaster. The fixtures which strike the eye in the streets of Berlin are vast fronts of buildings, clumsy ornaments, clumsy statues, clumsy incriptions, a profusion of gilding, guard-houses, sentry-boxes; the moveables are sentries presenting arms every minute, officers with feathers and orders passing unceasingly, hackney droskies rattling about, and numbers of well-dressed people. The streets are spacious and straight, with broad margins on each side for foot passengers; and a band of plain flagstones on these margins make them much more walkable than the streets of most continental towns. these margins are divided from the spacious carriageway in the middle, by open kennels telling the nose unutterable things. These open kennels are boarded over only at the gateways of the palaces to let the carriages

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cross them, and must be particularly convenient to the inhabitants, for they are not at all particularly agreeable. Use reconciles people to nuisances which might be easily removed. A sluggish but considerable river, the Spree, stagnates through the town, and the money laid out in stucco work and outside decoration of the houses would go far towards covering over their drains, raising the water by engines, and sending it in a purifying stream through every street and sewer. If bronze and marble could smell, Blucher and Bulow, Schwerin and Zeithen, and duck-winged angels, and two-headed eagles innumerable, would be found on their pedestals holding their noses instead of grasping their swords. It is a curious illustration of the difference between the civilisation of the fine arts and that of the useful arts, in their influences on social well-being, that this city, as populous as Glasgow or Manchester, has an Italian opera, two or three theatres, a vast picture gallery, and statue gallery, and museums of all kinds, a musical academy, schools of all descriptions, an university with 142 professors, the most distinguished men of science who can be collected in Germany, and is undoubtedly the capital, the central point of taste in the fine arts, and of mind and intelligence in literature, for a vast proportion of the enlightened and refined of the European population-and yet has not advanced so far in the enjoyments and comforts of life, in the civilisation of the useful arts, as to have water conveyed in pipes into their city and into their houses. Three hundred thousand people have taste enough to be in die-away extasies at the singing of Madame Pasta, or the dancing of Taglioni, and have not taste enough to appreciate or feel the want of a supply of water in their kitchens, sculleries, drains, sewers, water-closets. The civilisation of an English village is, after all, more real civilisation than that of Paris or Berlin.

Berlin, however, has one noble pre-eminence over every city of great population in Europe, perhaps, and certainly over every city in Britain, in the management

and care of her poor, and in the efficient arrangements for the relief of the distressed, and the suppression of mendicity, carried on by the gratuitous services of the middle class of her citizens. This covers a multitude of nuisances.

Berlin with a population* of nearly 300,000 souls has no poor-rates, no beggars, and no visible obtrusive policemen at every twenty paces, as in our great cities, to prevent mendicity. It is the first feature in the social economy of this city that strikes the traveller, and the first subject that claims his inquiries; for Berlin has very little trade or manufacturing employment for its labouring class; the land around is a sandy, barren soil unsuitable for any quick rotation of crops, and therefore affording comparatively little employment to labour; and consequently the destitution and misery must be as great and clamant in Berlin as in Edinburgh or Glasgow; yet it is not seen. No town is so free from beggary, or the appearances of extreme want and privation. How is this managed? The inquiry may be useful, and may suggest something applicable to the management of the poor in some of our great towns. Edinburgh, for instance, with about two thirds of the population, is very similar in its means and resources of living to Berlin. Both cities exist not by any great trade or manufactures seated in them, but by the concentration of the business of the country, by the courts of law and head-establishments, and by resident families of fortune. Both cities, too, are the head-quarters of the poor and of those verging towards poverty, from all other parts of the country. Berlin is even more ex

*The population returns of Prussia, although made up with much apparent care by her functionaries, are not quite to be depended upon; for it appears that even in the capital, in 1841, a mistake has crept in by the householders including only their own families, but not their casual lodgers, in their returns of the members of their households; and it is said that forty thousand people at least, some say sixty or eighty thousand, have been omitted, who really dwell in Berlin. This mistake is stated in the newspapers of August, 1841,

posed to pauperism not properly her own than Edinburgh or Glasgow, because her garrison is 10,000 men ; that of Potsdam, at an hour's distance by railway, is 7,000; that of Spandau, at three or four leagues' distance, is very considerable; and one third of these men are discharged every year. Some of these have no home to return to, and no trade to live by, and no disposition to work and less to re-enlist, and they hang about the capital as servants, helpers, and small-job men, and have acquired, by residence, a claim to support, and, at last, they with their families fall into utter destitution. Yet Edinburgh is over-run with beggars-want and misery are, day and night, abroad in her streets and her householders complain loudly of their poor-rates. Berlin, with as great an amount of poverty, and as great a burden upon her householders to relieve that poverty, contrives, at least, to make the means fulfil the end far better than Edinburgh, contrives to avoid the direct imposition of a poor-tax or rate with all its evils, although no doubt the public bears the burden of supporting or succouring those who would perish without that aid, but does so under another name, and contrives to relieve effectually all real distress, and to suppress entirely mendicity. This subject is worth inquiring into.

The management of the poor in great towns in Prussia was in the hands of government commissioners until 1821, when it was given over to the municipalities; and these were required to appoint poor directors, each direction to consist of the burgomaster as president, the members of the magistracy, members of the assembly of the town deputies, or town council, and members chosen by each parish. The magistrates and town deputies are changeable each year, being ex officio members, and in Berlin at least they amount to twelve; the others, amounting to twelve also, are permanently elected. The members of the poor direction receive no pay or emolument. The clergy, and the medical men of the city, may be joined to the direction by the directors;

and the chief of the police, in cities in which the police is not managed by the magistracy, is ex officio a member. The duty of the poor directors is the general care of the poor in Berlin, and of the poor schools, the orphan house, the workhouse, the infirmary, the hospital for old people, and three smaller hospitals; and the charge, direction, and superintendence of all the funds and expenditure and management of the poor. When the When the poor directors entered on their office, great confusion in accounts, great want of system, and great mismanagement in relieving the poor, existed. They began with taking one of the police districts in which there was little pauperism, and placing it experimentally under a poor commission. The plan was found to work so well, that between 1821 and 1825 they had divided the whole city into fifty-six districts, each under its poor commission, the commissioners being more or less numerous according to the number of poor usually in their district, but in general being from five to nine, and each commission having within its own district, if possible, its own physician, surgeon, oculist, and apothecary, whose services are paid, and are not received gratuitously. The poor commissioners receive no pay or emolument; but are benevolent per

*The services of the medical men are paid for monthly, and the medicines also, because the residence of a medical man and an apothecary within each poor district was thought necessary. By accepting gratuitous services, the poor commissioner might have to send his sick poor all over the town for medical assistance, and the poor might be put off with the attendance of a medical apprentice or student, instead of commanding the best assistance. The regular monthly payment, also, makes it an object for medical men beginning business to live in the poor districts of the town, which otherwise would be left without medical assistance near. So great is the attention to the sick poor, that steam baths, sulphuretted baths, and other artificial baths are administered; and they are even sent to drink mineral waters, and to sea bathing at Swinemunde. The German medical men at present, and their patients, seem to have great faith in the efficacy of baths prepared artificially, and in sea baths, mineral waters, and such remedies, which perhaps our medical men regard as a mere consolatio animi. as medical science

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