The court of Vienna itself differed less that of France, than the Prussian court under King Frederick William. His monarch suppressed all the pomp and all the diversion in which is father had emulated the French court. The muses and graces fled from the orgies of his otherwise great king to the residence of his still greater son, who kept a court more distinguished for elegance than splendor, at the Rheinsburg.
Until the middle of the eighteenth century, the drinking of toasts was a common practice at the court of Berlin, and at most of the other German courts. Drinking matches were thought creditable; and though drunkenness was not deemed honorable, yet it incurred no disgrace. Moderate intoxication was not taken amiss even in ladies. The wildest orgies were held in their presence; and the participants in them were not ashamed to reel from the bottle into associations with the gentler sex.
This public practice of drinking toasts, and this habit of intoxication, were wholly inconsistent with the manners of the French. Only in private festivals, which were inaccessible to all but their most intimate confidants, did the French court surrender to such immoderate practices.
As early as the reign of Frederick Augustus, the Saxons were regarded as the French of Germany, and the Saxon women were thought to approach nearest to those of France. It would, however, appear that the women of Saxony copied the French in their attire and ornaments, rather than in their sentiments and manners. When the former gave way to love, their passion was of the heroic cast; and this elevated sentiment they were taught by the romances of chivalry, which were their favorite amusement. They were not so much occupied with gallantry as to be prevented from attending to their domestic concerns, or to polite female employments.
French Influence in Germany
During the first half of the period, French fashions had but few, and the French way of living scarcely any, adherents in the great commercial cities of Germany. The court cities had been the mimics. The women of Hamburg were almost as closely confined as the women of the East. They went scarcely anywhere but to church; or, if they walked or drove, they were always accompanied by their husbands. The patricians of Augsburg, Nürnberg, and Ulm were almost utter strangers to conviviality and hospitality. In these imperial cities, both sexes rigidly adhered to the ancient fashions in dress. Even natives of the other sex were not admitted into the female circles, unless they were near relatives or intimate friends.
Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.