The Crafts of Germany
The different crafts in Germany are incorporations recognised by law, governed by usages of great antiquity, with a fund to defray the corporate expenses, and, in each considerable town, a house of entertainment is selected as the house of call, or harbor, as it is styled, of each particular craft. Thus you see, in the German towns, a number of taverns indicated by their signs, as the Masons' Harbor, the Blacksmiths' Harbor, &c. No one is allowed to set up as a master work man in any trade, unless he is admitted as a freeman or member of the craft; and such is the stationary condition of most parts of Germany, that no person is admitted as a master workman in any trade, except to supply the place of someone deceased, or retired from business. When such a vacancy occurs, all those desirous of being permitted to fill it present a piece of work, executed as well as they are able to do it, which is called their master-piece, being offered to obtain the place of a master workman. Nominally, the best workman gets the place; but you will easily conceive, that, in reality, some kind of favouritism must generally decide it. Thus is every man obliged to submit to all the chances of a popular election whether he shall be allowed to work for his bread; and that, too, in a country where the people are not permitted to have any agency in choosing their rulers. But the restraints on journeymen, in that country, are still more oppressive. As soon as the years of apprenticeship have expired, the young mechanic is obliged, in the phrase of the country, to wander for three years. For this purpose he is furnished, by the master of the craft in which he has served his apprenticeship, with a duly-authenticated wandering book, with which he goes forth to seek employment. In whatever city he arrives, on presenting himself with his credential, at the house of call, or harbor, of the craft in which he has served his time, he is allowed, gratis, a day's food and a night's lodging. If he wishes to get employment in that place, he is assisted in procuring it. If he does not wish to, or fails in the attempt, he must pursue his wandering; and this lasts for three years before he can be anywhere admitted as a master. I have heard it argued, that this system had the advantage of circulating knowledge from place to place, and imparting to the young artisan the fruits of travel and intercourse with the world. But, however beneficial travelling may be, when undertaken by those who have the taste and capacity to profit by it, I cannot but think, that to compel every young man who has just served out his time to leave his home, in the manner I have described, must bring his habits and morals into peril, and be regarded rather as a hardship than as an advantage. There is no sanctuary of virtue like home. — From Everett's Address.
Knight, Charles, 1791-1873, and Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (Great Britain). Knight's Penny Magazine. London: C. Knight & Co., 183246. Vol. 1, May 5, 1832, p55. View at HathiTrust.