Hume an der Donau: as it were in an opera

The Danube, 7th of April.

We have really made a very pleasant journey, or rather voyage, with good weather, sitting at our ease, and having a variety of scenes continually presented to us, and immediately shifted, as it were in an opera. The banks of the Danube are very wild and savage, and have a very different beauty from those of the Rhine; being commonly high scraggy precipices, covered all with firs. The water is sometimes so straitened betwixt these mountains, that this immense river is often not sixty foot broad. We have lain in and seen several very good towns in Bavaria and Austria, such as Strauburg, Passau, Lintz; but what is most remarkable is the great magnificence of some convents, particularly Moelk, where a set of lazy rascals of monks live in the most splendid misery of the world; for, generally speaking, their lives are as little to be envied as their persons are to be esteemed.
We enter Vienna in a few hours, and the country is here extremely agreeable; the fine plains of the Danube began about thirty miles above, and continued down, through Austria, Hungary, &c. till it falls into the Black Sea. The river is very magnificent. Thus we have finished a very agreeable journey of 860 miles (for so far is Vienna from the Hague) have past through many a prince’s territories, and have had more masters than many of these princes have subjects. Germany is undoubtedly a very fine country, full of industrious honest people; and were it united, it would be the greatest power that ever was in the world. The common people are here, almost every where, much better treated, and more at their ease, than in France; and are not very much inferior to the English, notwithstanding all the airs the latter give themselves. There are great advantages in travelling, and nothing serves more to remove prejudices; for I confess I had entertained no such advantageous idea of Germany; and it gives a man of humanity pleasure to see that so considerable a part of mankind as the Germans are in so tolerable a condition.

(David Hume)


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