Mr. Harte says, in that letter, that he looks upon Professor Mascow to be one of the ablest men in Europe, in treaty and political knowledge. I am extremely glad of it; for that is what I would have you particularly apply to, and make yourself perfect master of. The treaty part you must chiefly acquire by reading the treaties themselves, and the histories and memoirs relative to them; not but that inquiries and conversations upon those treaties will help you greatly, and imprint them better in your mind. In this course of reading, do not perplex yourself, at first, by the multitude of insignificant treaties which are to be found in the Corps Diplomatique; but stick to the material ones, which altered the state of Europe, and made a new arrangement among the great powers; such as the treaties of Munster, Nimeguen, Ryswick, and Utrecht.
But there is one part of political knowledge, which is only to be had by inquiry and conversation; that is, the present state of every power in Europe, with regard to the three important points, of strength, revenue, and commerce. You will, therefore, do well, while you are in Germany, to inform yourself carefully of the military force, the revenues, and the commerce of every prince and state of the empire; and to write down those informations in a little book, for that particular purpose. To give you a specimen of what I mean:--
The revenue is about L500,000 a year.
The military establishment, in time of war, may be about 25,000 men; but that is the utmost.
The trade is chiefly linens, exported from Stade.
There are coarse woolen manufactures for home-consumption.
The mines of Hartz produce about L100,000 in silver, annually.
Such informations you may very easily get, by proper inquiries, of every state in Germany if you will but prefer useful to frivolous conversations.