The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Leipsic

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
1371696The American Cyclopædia — Leipsic

LEIPSIC (Ger. Leipzig), a city of Saxony, in an extensive and fertile valley, watered by the Pleisse, here joined by the Elster and other small rivers, within a few miles of the Prussian frontier, 60 m. W. N. W. of Dresden, and 92 m. S. S. W. of Berlin; pop. in 1871, 106,925. Most of the ancient fortifications, excepting the castle or citadel of Pleissenburg, have been converted into public walks and partly laid out as gardens. The most fashionable public square is the Augustusplatz; and the most picturesque from the quaintness of its buildings, particularly of the town hall (Rathhaus), is the Marktplatz. The allied sovereigns met in this square after the battle of Leipsic, previous to which Napoleon had resided there in the Königshaus, so called from having formerly served as an electoral and royal residence. Near the square stands Auerbach's cellar, made famous by Goethe's “Faust,” and still frequented by the students. The principal Protestant churches are those of St. Nicholas, St. Thomas, and St. Paul's or university church. Leipsic contains monuments of Gellert, Prince Poniatowski, who was drowned in the Elster at the close of the great battle in 1813, Hahnemann, Bach, and other eminent persons. Among the principal public buildings are the observatory, which occupies the tower of the citadel of Pleissenburg, the general exchange and book exchange, the Saxon-Bavarian railway depot, the post office, the custom house (finished in 1853), the new city theatre (finished in 1868), and the new city hospital (opened in 1871). Leipsic takes a foremost position in Germany, in the history of the reformation as well as of literature. The university is one of the oldest in Germany; the 450th anniversary of its foundation was celebrated in December, 1859. Prominent among the university buildings is the Augusteum, 300 ft. long and three stories high, containing a great hall, lecture room, museums of natural history, and a library with 200,000 volumes and 2,500 manuscripts. The use of the German language as a medium of public learned instruction was first introduced at Leipsic in 1688 by Thomasius, the son of the teacher of Leibnitz. The university is one of the few scholastic establishments on the continent which have retained their own landed estates. The property of the institution is very considerable, and embraces, besides a number of landed estates, 41 large buildings in the city; and the endowment for stipends, free board, &c., amounts to over $500,000, nearly 200 poor students being sometimes supported by the university. Philology was long the great specialty of the university, although many of its leading members have been eminent in other branches. About the middle of the present century the university suffered greatly from the anti-liberal policy of the Saxon government, which caused a number of the most eminent professors to leave, and the attendance of students diminished from 1,300 in the early part of the century to about 800 in 1860. Since then it has not only recovered from these losses, but become in every respect one of the most prominent universities of Germany. The number of matriculated students rose to 1,179 in 1866, 1,803 in 1871, 2,204 in 1872, 2,650 in 1873, and 2,876 for the winter of 1873-'4, including 45 from the United States. The numbers for the last two years exceeded those of any other German university. Among its 107 professors were some of the most eminent scholars of Germany; as Delitzsch and Tischendorf in the theological faculty; Wächter and Hänel in the law faculty; Weber, Wunderlich, Czermak, Bock, and Carus in the medical faculty; the philosophers Ahrens and Drobisch, the geographer Peschel, the astronomer Bruhns, the naturalists Kolbe and Leuckart, the historians Wuttke and Voigt, the philologists Ritschl, Curtius, and Lange, and the orientalists Ebers, Brockhaus, and Fleischer. The university building has been greatly enlarged; a third chemical laboratory was established in 1867, a physiological laboratory in 1869, and a pathological laboratory in 1871. A new building for the physical institute was begun in 1872, and another for the anatomical institute in 1873. The budget for 1872 appropriated for the university 169,000 thalers. Besides this university, Leipsic has an agricultural institute, two gymnasia, a Realschule, one of the largest commercial schools of Germany, an industrial school, institutions for the deaf and dumb and the blind, and a number of other schools. It possesses also a town library with a remarkable collection of oriental manuscripts and Turkish works, and a considerable number of societies and journals for the promotion of science, letters, and art. A conservatory of music was founded by Mendelssohn-Bartholdy in 1843, and a professorship of music was established in the university in 1860. Few towns are more devoted to the cultivation of music and the drama. Since 1871 Leipsic has been the seat of the supreme commercial court of the German empire.

Town Hall and Market Place, Leipsic.

— The three annual commercial fairs of Leipsic are the most important in Europe, and are attended by persons of almost all nations, but chiefly by Germans and merchants from Poland, Russia, and other Slavic countries. The number of visitors is usually about 60,000, and the transactions amount to about $50,000,000 annually. Notwithstanding the commercial magnitude of its fairs, Leipsic is still more extensively known by the book trade of which it is the centre. In 1871 there were in the city 249 publishers and booksellers. The principal publishing houses are those of Brockhaus and B. Tauchnitz. The number of printing offices was 50, and of bookbinding establishments 180. Five principal railways have their depots at Leipsic, and a number of less important lines branch off from here. Among the chief manufactures are tobacco, cigars, and pianos. — Leipsic is first mentioned as a town in the beginning of the llth century, and its commercial importance began as early as the 13th. It suffered much during the thirty years' war, and the great victory of Gustavus Adolphus over Tilly, Sept. 7, 1631, was gained in its vicinity at Breitenfeld. On Oct. 16-19, 1813, was fought the memorable battle of Leipsic, called by the Germans the great Völkerschlacht, which precipitated the downfall of Napoleon, already weakened in his resources by the disasters of the Russian campaign. On the 16th the main army of the allied troops of Russia, Prussia, and Austria, about 160,000 strong, under Prince Schwarzenberg, attacked the French stationed in and around Leipsic, and from 9 o'clock in the morning until noon a series of villages on the south of the city occupied by the French were furiously but unsuccessfully assaulted. Napoleon, assuming the offensive, then adopted his favorite measure of a grand attack on the enemy's centre, and a powerful column of the old and young guards, preceded by a train of artillery, pierced the allied army. Schwarzenberg ordered up his reserves, and Napoleon doing the same, a general engagement ensued along the whole line of attack, distinguished by frequent charges of immense bodies of cavalry. At one time Murat at the head of the cuirassiers of the old guard nearly succeeded in capturing the emperor of Russia and the king of Prussia; but the Cossacks of the imperial guard and the Austrian reserves coming up to the front at all points, the French were checked, and at nightfall both armies remained nearly in the position they had occupied in the morning. The only decided success of the French was on the western side of Leipsic, where Bertrand drove back the Austrians under Gyulai, and preserved a line of retreat through Lindenau in case of disaster. During the engagement between the main armies Blücher arrived from Halle with the army of Silesia, about 60,000 strong, and after an obstinate conflict drove Marmont out of the village of Möckern. On the 17th, a Sunday, both armies by tacit agreement rested, and Napoleon, conscious of his weakness, made an ineffectual attempt to procure an armistice. The 18th found his forces, about 160,000 in number, arranged in a semicircle around the north, east, and south of the city; while to oppose him Schwarzenberg, strengthened by the arrival of the Russian reserves under Benningsen and Bernadotte's army of the north, brought into the field 300,000 men and nearly 1,400 cannon. Against these odds the French fought with heroic courage, and their artillery, amounting to 800 pieces, was played with a rapidity and effect which for a long time kept their assailants in check. Gradually their circle of defence was narrowed, and at a critical period of the day they were weakened by the defection of large bodies of Saxon and Würtemberg troops, who immediately turned their guns against their former comrades. The allies having at length penetrated into the suburb of Schönfeld, Napoleon became convinced that the city was no longer tenable, and, taking advantage of a cessation of hostilities at nightfall, commenced a retreat. Amid a scene of fearful confusion the French filed off through Lindenau. Early on the morning of the 19th the allies forced an entrance into the city, and a terrible conflict ensued with the French rear guard, who were encumbered with immense trains of baggage and artillery and crowds of wounded. In the height of the mêlée the bridge of Lindenau, the only outlet of retreat over the river Elster, was prematurely blown up, leaving 12,000 soldiers, besides 25,000 sick and wounded, in the hands of the allies. Marshal Macdonald by great exertion succeeded in swimming his horse across the river, but Prince Poniatowski in attempting the passage was drowned. The total loss of the French during the three days of fighting was more than 60,000; that of the allies 50,000. At 2 P. M. on the 19th the carnage ceased, and Napoleon was in full retreat toward the Rhine.