Travels in England in 1782
In 1782 Pastor Charles Moritz, a young Prussian pastor, arrived in England for a seven week stay. He described his experiences in a series of letters to a friend and fortunately for us these letters have survived.
It is worth repeating part of the introduction from the 1886 edition:
The writer of this account … 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.
I have extracted here some of the highlights of his account. The full text is available from Project Gutenberg
The British Museum
Pastor Moritz was able to arrange a visit to the British Museum but was unfortunately rushed through it at high speed. The guide was so bad that the group ended up relying on Pastor Moritz' guidebook.
The Houses of Parliament
So unlike his own country, Moritz is fascinated by the rumbunctious nature of British parliamentary debate.
Moritz visited Ranelagh gardens and was most impressed.
Vauxhall, not so much.
The Caves at Castleton
An account of the caves as they were before the arrival of tea-rooms.
A Parliamentary Election
Moritz is fascinated by the loud exuberance associated with a local London election.
A Night at the Theatre
The retiring Pastor is absorbed in a very pleasing and laughable musical farce, called "The Agreeable Surprise."
A fascinating and often hilarious account of Moritz's coaching experiences. While he enjoyed the gentle journey to Richmond, on the trip from Northampton he was terrified by the incredible speed at which the coach bounced down the road. He was covered in dust, rained on and then cooped up with a bunch of Hogarthian characters.
Pastor Moritz was received in many places with great kindness, which he recognised and appreciated. However, when he attempted a walking tour he ran into problems with innkeepers refusing to serve him or offer him accommodation for the night. He eventually realised that only the poor and disreputable travelled on foot.
An brief account of English fashion and a visit to the hairdresser.
On the road to Oxford, Moritz had an encounter with a man who might have been a beggar or might have been something more. He never found out because he handed over the rather large amount of a shilling and then a coach turned up, so the man just thanked him and left.
An account of some English ‘academies’ - small schools of a dozen or so pupils.
Pastor Moritz found English cuisine expensive and sometimes unpalatable. His main complaint though is that he just can't get a decent cup of coffee.
Religion and the Clergy
Being himself in the business, Pastor Moritz has quite a lot to say on religion. He was not overly impressed with the piety of English clergymen, stating the English clergy (and I fear those still more particularly who live in London) are noticeable, and lamentably conspicuous, by a very free, secular, and irregular way of life.