“I can assure you,” he replied, “that Mr. ------ had nothing to do all day but read the newspapers, and drink tea with his congregation. He did not take the trouble to grow his own vegetables, and all he had to do was to preach on Sundays and attend a very unruly Sunday school. His wife, too, was not dressed as one of ours.”
He explained to me that his own life was very different. He eked out his minute salary by a small scientifically managed farm, and I gathered the impression that he was much more of a farmer than a pastor, for he deplored his inability to obtain imported nitrates owing to the blockade. The only question on which he was at all unorthodox was that of the Junkers and their regrettable power of holding potatoes, pigs, and other supplies while small men like him had been obliged to sell. He had a good collection of modern scientific agricultural works, of which the Germans have an abundance.
But while admiring the energy of the great capitalists and the rational Liberal Party, the average clergyman tends towards sympathy with the Agrarians. The pastor of the small towns and villages, who is very much under the thumb of the local Junker or rich manufacturer, has as his highest ambition the hope that he and his wife may be invited to coffee at least twice a year. The pastor’s wife is delighted to be condescendingly received by the great lady. Herr Pastor talks agriculture with Herr Baron, and Frau Pastor discusses past and coming incidents in the local birth rate with Frau Baron. Snobbery has no greater exemplification than in the relations of the local Lutheran pastor and the local landlord or millionaire.
A sidelight on German mentality is contained in a little conversation which I had with a clergyman in the Province of Posen. He knew England well, by residence and by matrimonial connections.
This is how he explained the battle of the Somme. I give his own words:—
“Many wounded men are coming back to our Church from the dreadful Western front. They have been fighting the British, and they find that so ignorant are the British of warfare that the British soldiers on the Somme refuse to surrender, not knowing that they are really beaten, with the result that terrible losses are inflicted upon our brave troops.”
In this exact report of a conversation is summed up a great deal of German psychology.
For the Salvation Army a number of Germans have genuine respect, because it seems to be organised on some military basis. The Church of England they consider as degenerate as the Nonconformist. Both, they think, are mere refuges for money-making ecclesiastics.
The professor, like the army officer, has long been a semi-deity in Germany. Not only in his university lectures does he influence the students, and particularly the prospective teachers of secondary schools who hang on his words, but he writes the bulk of the historical, economic and political literature of the daily Press, the magazines and the tons of pamphlets which flood the country.