1794 - Ann Radcliffe
Across the Border between and Nimwegen and Kleve: Poor Prussia
After a few miles, this road leaves the territories of the United Provinces, and enters the Prussian duchy of Cleves, at a spot where a mill is in one country, and the miller's house in the other. An instance of difference between the conditions of the people in the two countries was observable even at this passage of their boundary. Our postillion bought, at the miller's, a loaf of black bread, such as is not made in the Dutch provinces, and carried it away for the food of his horses, which were thus initiated into some of the blessings of the German peasantry. After another quarter of a mile you have more proofs that you have entered the country of the King of Prussia. From almost every cluster of huts bare-footed children run out to beg, and ten or a dozen stand at every gate, nearly throwing themselves under the wheels to catch your money, which, every now and then, the bigger seize from the less.
Yet the land is not ill-cultivated. The distinction between the culture of land in free and arbitrary countries, was, indeed, never very apparent to us, who should have been ready enough to perceive it. The great landholders know what should be done, and the peasantry are directed to do it. The latter are, perhaps, supplied with stock, and the grounds produce as much as elsewhere, though you may read, in the looks and manners of the people, that very little of its productions is for them.
A Journey Made in the Summer of 1794, through Holland and the Western Frontier of Germany
Dublin 1795; Reprint 1975