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A Residence in France by J. Fenimore Cooper

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lately been at Brussels, he said that she called standing up to dance,
"taking the floor," and he was curious to know if it were a usual form
of expression with us. I had to tell him, we said a horse "took the
track," in racing, and as this lady came from a racing region, she might
have used it, _con amore_, especially in the gallopade. Capt. ----, of
the navy, once called out to the ladies of a quadrille to "shove off,"
when he thought the music had got the start of them; and it is lucky
that this Sir ---- did not hear him, or he would have set it down at
once as an Americanism. These people are constantly on the hunt for
something peculiar and ridiculous in Americans, and make no allowance
for difference in station, provincialisms, or traits of character.
Heaven knows that we are not so very original as to be thus ruthlessly
robbed of any little individuality we may happen to possess.

LETTER X.

School System in America.--American Maps.--Leave
Brussels.--Louvain.--Quarantine.--Liege.--The Soleil d'Or.--King Leopold
and Brother.--Royal Intermarriages.--Environs of Liege.--The Cathedral
and the Church of St. Jacques.--Ceremonies of Catholic
Worship.--Churches of Europe.--Taverns of America.--Prayer in the
Fields.--Scott's error as regards the Language spoken in Liege.--Women
of Liege.--Illumination in honour of the King.

Dear ----,

In the morning the Director-General of Public Instruction called to
obtain some information on the subject of the common school system in
America. I was a little surprised at this application, the Finance
controversy having quite thrown me into the shade at the Tuileries, and
this court being just now so dependent on that of France. You will smile
at this opinion, but even facts are subject to such circumstances, and
great men submit to very little influences occasionally.[20] The old
ground of explaining the power of the States had to be gone over, and
the affair was disposed of by agreeing that written querries should be
sent to Paris. I had a similar application from a French functionary not
long since. A digest of the facts, as they are connected with the State
of New York, was accordingly prepared, and handed to the Minister of
Public Instruction. This gentleman rose in debate with the document in
his hand, and got on well enough until he came to the number of children
in the schools (near half a million), which appeared to him to be so
much out of proportion to whole numbers (a little exceeding two
millions) that, without hesitation, he reduced them on his own
responsibility one half! As a proof that no more was meant than to keep
within reasonable bounds, he immediately added, "or all there are." Now
this is a fair specimen of the manner in which America is judged, her
system explained, and her facts curtailed. In Europe everything must be
reduced to a European standard, to be even received. Had we been
Calmucks or Kurds, any marvel might go down; but being deemed merely
deteriorated Europeans, tanned to ebony, our facts are kept closely
within the current notions. Such a disproportion between adults and
minors being unknown in this hemisphere, it was at once set down as an
American exaggeration, to pretend to have them in the other. What were
our official returns to a European prejudice!

[Footnote 20: A few months before this, a friend, not a Frenchman,
called on the writer at Paris. He began to make inquiries on the subject
of American Parliamentary Law, that were entirely out of the track of
his usual conversations, and finally submitted a series of written
questions to be answered. When the subject was disposed of, the writer
asked his friend the object of these unusual investigations, and was
told that they were for the use of a leading Deputy, who was thoroughly
_juste milieu_. Surprised at the name, the writer expressed his wonder
that the application had not been made to a certain agent of the
American government, whose name had already figured before the public,
as authority for statistical and political facts against him. The answer
was, in substance, that those facts were intended for _effect_!]

Not long since an artist of reputation came to me, in Paris, with a
view to get a few hints for a map of the Hudson, that had been ordered
as an illustration of one of our books. He was shown all the maps in my
possession, some of which were recent and sufficiently minute. I
observed some distrust in his manner, and in the end, he suggested that
an old French map of the Canadas, that he had in his pocket, might
possibly be more accurate than those which had just been received from
America. The map was produced, and, as might have been expected, was
utterly worthless; but an intimation to that effect was not well
received, as the artist had not been accustomed to consider the
Americans as map-makers. At length I was compelled to show him
Poughkeepsie laid down on his map directly opposite to Albany, and to
assure him gravely that I had myself travelled many a time in a north
and south direction, from sunrise to sunset, in order to go from one of
these places to the other, and that they were eighty miles asunder!

We left Brussels at noon, and reached Louvain at three. Though not taken
so completely by surprise as we were last year, the town-house still
gave us great pleasure. They were at work repairing it, and the fresh
stones gave it a mottled look, but, on the whole, it is one of the most
extraordinary edifices I know. It is a sort of condensation of
quaintness, that is quite without a rival even in this land of laboured
and curious architecture. The little pavilion of the Prince of Orange,
that lies on the road, was still deserted and respected. I dare say his
fishing-rods and fowling-pieces are intact, while his inheritance is
shorn of half its glory.

There was a quarantine before entering the Prussian states on account of
the cholera, and having understood that we should gain in time after
quitting Brussels, beyond which the malady has not yet extended, we went
no farther than Thirlemont, where we passed the night. The place is
insignificant, and the great square was chiefly occupied by "awkward
squads" of the new levies, who were drilling as fast as they could, in
readiness for the Dutch. The Belgians have reached Protocol No. 67, and
they begin to think it is most time now to have something more
substantial. They will find King William of the true "hard-kopping"
breed.

The next morning we posted down to Liege in time to take a late
breakfast. The road from Brussels to this place has run through a
fertile and well-cultivated country, but the scene changed like magic,
as soon as we got a glimpse of the valley of the Meuse. Liege has
beautiful environs, and the town is now the seat of industry. Coal-pits
abound in the immediate vicinity, and iron is wrought in a hundred
places. As we drove through the antique and striking court of the
venerable episcopal palace, and emerged on the great square, we found
the place alive with people, and our arrival at the Soleil d'Or produced
a sensation that seemed inexplicable. Landlord, laquais, populace and
all, ran to greet us, and people were hurrying to the spot in every
direction. There was nothing to be done but to wait the result
patiently, and I soon saw by the cold looks of the servants, and the
shrug of Francois, who had jumped down to order rooms, that there was
mutual disappointment. Everybody turned their backs upon us, and there
we sat in the shadow of neglect, after having momentarily shone in the
sunshine of universal observation. It had been merely ascertained that
we were not the King of the Belgians and his brother the Grand Duke of
Saxe-Cobourg-Gotha. The Soleil d'Or, which like other suns, is most apt
to shine on the great, veiled its face from us, and we were compelled to
quit the great square, and to seek more humble lodgings. These were soon
obtained at the Black Eagle, a clean and good house.

I went to the police immediately with my passport, and found that one of
our five days of quarantine had been comfortably gotten rid of at
Thirlemont.

These quarantines are foolish things, and quite easily evaded. You have
been told the manner in which, last year, instead of spending five times
twenty-four hours in a hut, shut up with a Russian Princess, I drove
into the court of our own hotel in Paris on the evening of the fifth
day, and M----, you will remember, merely turned the flanks of a
sentinel or two, by walking a mile in the fields. We were advised, on
this occasion, to have our passport _vised_ at Brussels, the moment we
arrived, and the intermediate time would have counted on the frontier,
but being in no haste, we preferred proceeding regularly.

The next day the town filled rapidly, and about noon the cannon
announced the entrance of the King. A worse salute was never fired; but
his Majesty is greeted with smiling faces, which is, probably more to
his liking. He is certainly a prudent and respectable man, if not a
great one; and just now very popular. I met him and his brother in the
streets, the day after their arrival: they were in an open carriage and
pair, with two boys, the sons of the Duke, on the front seat. Leopold
has a grave and thoughtful face, and is far from being as well-looking
as his brother, who is a large comely man; not unlike the Duke Bernard
of Saxe-Weimar, so well known in America. All the princes of the Saxon
duchies that I have seen, are large, well-formed men, while those of
Saxe Royal, as the kingdom is called, are the reverse. A diplomatic man,
here, once remarked to me, that this rule held good as to most of the
protestant and catholic princes, throughout Europe, the close
intermarriages of the latter in his opinion, affecting the stock. The
imagination has had something to do with this notion, for there are
certainly many exceptions on both sides, if, indeed, it be a rule at
all. I think, there is little doubt that the habits of the mind, mode of
living, and climate, contribute essentially to vary the physiognomy; but
I cannot subscribe fully to the influence of these intermarriages,
which, by the way, are nearly, if not quite, as circumscribed among the
Protestants as among the Catholics. The portion of Europe that is
governed by princes, is divided among forty-four different states,[21]
of whom twenty-eight are Protestant, one a Greek, one a Mahomedan, and
the rest are Catholics. These forty-four sovereigns claim to be
descended from nineteen different roots: thus, the direct _male_
descendants of Hugh Capet occupy the thrones of France, Spain, Naples,
Lucca, and Portugal; the latter being derived from an illegitimate son
of a Duke of Burgundy, before the accession of the Bourbon branch. The
houses of Austria, Baden, Tuscany, and Modena, are derived from a Duke
of Alsace, who flourished in the seventh century. I was mistaken in a
former letter, in saying that the family of Lorraine is different from
that of Habsbourg, for it is said to be derived in the male line equally
from this Prince of Alsace. The Hohenzollerns are on the throne of
Prussia, and possess the two little principalities of that name; while
the Emperor of Russia is merely a Prince of Holstein. These families
have been intermarrying for a thousand years, and it is not possible
that they should have entirely escaped some personal peculiarities;
still, as a whole, they are quite as fine physical specimens of
humanity, as the average of their subjects. The Princes of Russia are
singularly fine men; the house of Denmark well-looking; the Saxons, the
royal branch excepted, more than usually so; the house of Wurtemburg
very like the English family; the Bourbons, as a family, are a fine
race; the Austrians peculiar, and less comely, though the women are
often quite handsome; Don Miguel is a little beauty, _very mild and
gentleman-like in his appearance_, though Lady ----, who sat next him at
dinner, on a certain occasion, assured me she saw nothing but blood and
rapine in his countenance! Her father, Lord ----, one of the ablest men
of his time, and one familiar with high political events, gravely
assured me he gave implicit credence to the tales we have heard of the
outrages committed by this prince, and which, if true, render him a fit
subject for the gallows. But I have seen so much of the exaggeration of
factions, that incredulity, perhaps, has got to be a fault with me. I
longed to tell Lord ---- what I had heard, in England, under his very
nose, of himself! Among other absurdities, I had, shortly before this
very conversation, heard a respectable Englishman affirm that such was
the _morgue aristocratique_ of this nobleman, that he compelled his wife
and daughters to walk backwards, in quitting his presence, as is done at
court! This was said of a man, whom I found to be of more simple,
off-hand, unpretending, gentleman-like deportment, whose demeanour had
more of the nice tact which neither offends by superciliousness, nor
wounds by condescension, than that of any other man of rank in England.
To return to our subject;--the Austrian face is, certainly, getting to
be prevalent among the southern catholic families, for all of them are
closely allied to the house of Habsbourg by blood, but I do not see any
more in the _physique_ of the Saxon Dukes than the good old Saxon
stamina, nor aught in the peculiar appearance of the royal branch but an
accident.

[Footnote 21: This excludes Lichtenstein, Monaco, and Greece.]

Three or four days of leisure have enabled us to look very thoroughly at
the exterior of Liege, which is certainly an interesting town, with
lovely environs. There are some very good old houses along the banks of
the river, and a few of the churches are noble edifices. The cathedral
and the church of St. Jaques, in particular, are venerable and
interesting structures; and I stood beneath their lofty arches,
listening to the chants of the choir, and inhaling the odours of the
incense, with a satisfaction that never tires. I sometimes wish I had
been educated a Catholic, in order to unite the poetry of religion with
its higher principles. Are they necessarily inseparable? Is man really
so much of a philosopher, that he can conceive of truth in its abstract
purity, and divest life and the affections of all the aids of the
imagination? If they who strip the worship of God of its factious grace,
earnestly presented themselves in the garb of moral humility, rendering
their familiar professions conformable to their general tenets, and
stood before us as destitute of self-esteem as they are of ornament, one
might not so much feel the nakedness of their rites; but, as a rule, the
less graceful the forms and the more intense the spirituality of the
minister of the altar become, the higher is his tone of denunciation and
the more palpable his self-righteousness. In point of fact, when the
proper spirit prevails, forms, of themselves, become of little account;
and when men begin to deem them otherwise, it is proof rather of the
want, than of the excess, of the humility and charity which are the
inseparable companions of faith. I do not say that I would imitate all
the unmeaning and irreverent practices of the Romish church; and least
of all could one wish to see the devout and solemn manner of the
Protestant ministering at the altar supplanted by the unintelligible
mumblings of the Latin breviaries: but why have we denounced the holy
symbol of the cross, the ornaments of the temple, the graceful attire,
and the aid of music? It is impossible, I think, for the American, who
has visited Europe, not to feel the want of edifices reared in honour of
God, which everywhere exists in his own country. I do not mean churches,
in which the comfort and convenience of the pew-holders have been mainly
consulted, for these pious speculations abound; but _temples_ to mark a
sense of the superiority of the Deity, and which have been reared in his
honour. It may be easy enough to account for the absence of such
buildings, in a country so peopled and still so young, but this does not
make the deficiency the less obvious.

In this hemisphere, scarcely a village is approached, that the high roof
and towers of a church do not form its nucleus, the temple appearing to
spread its protection over the humbler abodes of men. The domes, the
pointed and lofty arches, and the Gothic tracery of cathedrals, soar
above the walls of cities, and everywhere man is congregated, he appears
to seek shelter under the wide-spreading wings of the church. It is no
argument to say that true religion may exist without these edifices, for
infidelity may also exist without them, and if it be right or useful to
honour God at all, in this manner, it is a right and a usefulness to
which we have not yet attained. The loftiest roofs of an American town
are, invariably, its taverns; and, let metaphysics get over the matter
as it may, I shall contend that such a thing is, at least, unseemly to
the eye. With us it is not Gog and Magog, but grog or no grog; we are
either a tame plane of roofs, or a _pyramid_ in honour of brandy and
mint-juleps. When it comes to the worship of God, each man appears to
wish a nut-shell to contain himself and his own shades of opinion; but
when there is question of eating and drinking, the tent of Pari Banou
would not be large enough to hold us. I prefer large churches and small
taverns.

There are one or two usages, especially, of the Romish church, that are
not only beautiful, but which must be useful and salutary. One is the
practice of leaving the church open at all hours, for the purposes of
prayer. I have seldom entered one of these vaulted, vast, and
appropriate Houses of God, without finding fewer or more devotees
kneeling at the different altars. Another usage is that of periodical
prayer, in the fields, or wherever the peasants may happen to be
employed, as in the _angelus_, &c. I remember, with pleasure, the effect
produced by the bell of the village church, as it sent its warning
voice, on such occasions, across the plains, and over the hills, while
we were dwellers in French or Italian hamlets. Of all these touching
embellishments of life, America, and I had almost said, Protestantism,
is naked; and in most cases, I think it will be found, on inquiry, naked
without sufficient reason.

The population of Liege is still chiefly Catholic, I believe, although
the reign of the ecclesiastics has ceased. They speak an impure French,
which is the language of the whole region along this frontier. Scott,
whose vivid pictures carried with them an impress of truth that misled
his readers, being by no means a man of either general or accurate
attainment, out of the immediate circle of his peculiar knowledge, which
was Scottish traditions, has represented the people of Liege, in Quentin
Durward, as speaking Flemish; an error of which they make loud
complaints, it being a point on which they are a little sensitive. A
poet may take great licences, and it is hypercriticism to lay stress on
these minor points when truth is not the aim; but this is a blunder that
might, as well as not, have been spared, and probably would have been,
had the author given himself the trouble to inquire into the fact. But
for the complaints of the Liegeois, the error would not have been very
generally known, however; certainly, not by me, had I not visited the
place.

The women of Liege appear to labour even more than usual for this part
of Europe. They are employed in field-labour, everywhere; but in the
towns, more attention is paid to the great distinctions between the
employments of the sexes. Here, however, I saw them toiling in the
coal-yards, and performing the offices of the common porters. They were
much employed in unloading the market-boats, and yet they are far from
being either coarse or ugly. The men are short, but sturdy. The average
stature appears to be about five feet five and a half inches, but even
this, I think, exceeds the average stature of the French.

The town has been illuminated two nights in succession, in honour of the
King. Every one is occupied with his approaching marriage with the
Princess Louisa of France, or as it is now the fashion to say, the
Princess Louisa of Orleans--for since the revolution of 1830, there is
no longer a King, nor any Children of France. It would have been better
had more essential points been attended to and the old names retained.
In England matters are differently managed, for there the government is
always one of King, Lords, and Commons, though it is constantly
fluctuating, and two of the parties are usually cyphers.

LETTER XI.

Leave Liege.--Banks of the Mense.--Spa.--Beautiful Promenades.--Robinson
Crusoe.--The Duke of Saxe-Cobourg.--Former magnificence of
Spa.--Excursions in the vicinity.--Departure from
Spa.--Aix-la-Chapelle.--The Cathedral.--The Postmaster's
Compliments.--Berghem.--German Enthusiasm.--Arrival at Cologne.

Dear ----,

On the fourth day of our quarantine, we left Liege, if not with clean
bills of health, with passport bearing proof about it that would enable
us to enter Prussia the next morning. The King and his brother having
laid all the horses in requisition, we did not get away before two; but
once on the road, our postilions drove like men who had reaped a double
harvest.

The route lay for some distance along the banks of the Meuse, and the
whole region was one of exquisite landscape beauties. An intensely dark
verdure--a road that meandered through the valley, occasionally shifting
from bank to bank--hill-sides covered with fruit-trees and fragrant with
flowers--country-houses--hamlets--cottages--with every appearance of
abundance and comfort, and back-grounds of swelling land, that promised
equal beauty and equal affluence, were the principal features of the
scene. The day was as fine as possible, and, everything bearing a leaf
having just been refreshed with a recent shower, we glided through this
fairy region with something like enthusiasm with which we had formerly
journeyed in Switzerland and Italy.

The Meuse, however, was soon abandoned for a tributary, and, after
proceeding a few leagues, the character of the country gradually
changed, although it still continued peculiar and beautiful. The
intensity of the verdure disappeared in a pale, but still a decided
green--the forest thickened--the habitations no longer crowded the
way-side, and we appeared to be entering a district, that was altogether
less populous and affluent than the one we had left, but which was
always neat, picturesque, and having an air of comfort. We were
gradually, but almost imperceptibly ascending.

This lasted for four hours, when, reaching a country-house, the road
turned suddenly at a right angle, and ran for near a mile through an
avenue of trees, bounded by open meadows. At the termination of this
avenue we dashed into the streets of a small, well-built, neat, and
compact village, that contained about one hundred and fifty dwellings,
besides three or four edifices of rather more than usual pretensions.
This was the celebrated Spa, a watering-place whose reputation was once
co-extensive with civilization.

We drove to an inn, where we dined, but finding it crowded and
uncomfortable. I went out and hired a furnished house by the day,
putting our own servants, with an assistant, in possession of the
kitchen. Next morning, perceiving that I had been too hasty, and that
our lodgings were too confined, I discharged them and took a better. We
got a dining-room, two drawing-rooms, several bed-rooms, with offices,
etc., all neat and well-furnished, for a Napoleon a day. I mention these
things as they serve to show you the facilities a traveller enjoys in
this part of the world. Nearly every house in Spa is to be had in this
manner, fitted for the reception of guests, the proprietor occupying a
small building adjoining, and usually keeping a shop, where wine and
groceries may be had. Servants can be engaged at any moment, and one is
thus enabled to set up his own _menage_ at an hour's notice. This mode
is more economical for a large family, than living at an hotel, vastly
more comfortable, and more respectable. Dinners can be had from the
taverns, if desired. Francois being something of a cook, with the aid
of the Spa assistant, we lived entirely within ourselves. You will
remember that in hiring the house by the day, I reserved the right to
quit it at any moment.

Spa, like most other places that possess chalybeate waters, stands in
the centre of a country that can boast but little of its fertility.
Still, time and cultivation have left it the character of pale verdure
of which I have just spoken, and which serves for a time to please by
its novelty. The hue looked neither withered nor sickly, but it was
rather that of young grasses. It was a ghostly green. The eye wanders
over a considerable extent of naked fields, when one is on the steep
wooded hills, under whose very brows the village is built, and I
scarcely can recall a spot where a stronger impression of interminable
vastness is left, than I felt while gazing at the illimitable swells of
land that stretch away towards France. The country is said to be in the
mountains of the Ardennes, and once there was the forest through which
the "Boar of Ardennes" was wont to roam; but of forest there is now
none; and if there be a mountain, Spa must stand on its boundless
summit. High and broken hills do certainly appear, but, as a whole, it
is merely an upland region.

The glory of Spa has departed! Time was when the idle, the gay and the
dissolute crowded to this retired village to intrigue and play, under
the pretence of drinking the waters; when its halls were thronged with
princes and nobles, and even monarchs frequented its fetes and partook
of its festivities. The industrious inhabitants even now spare no pains
to render the abode pleasant, but the capricious taste of the age lures
the traveller to other springs, where still pleasanter haunts invite
their presence. Germany abounds with watering-places, which are usually
rendered agreeable by a judicious disposition of walks, and by other
similar temptations. In nothing are the money-grasping and shiftless
habits of America rendered more apparent, than in the inferiority of her
places of public resort. In all these particulars nature has done a
good deal for some of them, but nowhere has man done anything worth
naming.

A trifling expenditure has rendered the rude hill which, covered chiefly
with evergreens, overlooks Spa, a succession of beautiful promenades.
Serpentine walks are led through its thickets, agreeable surprises are
prepared for the stranger, and all the better points of view are
ornamented by seats and summer-houses. One of these places was covered
by a permanent protection against the weather that had a name which
amused us, though it was appropriate enough, so far as the shape went.
It was called a "mushroom," it being, in fact, a sort of wooden
umbrella, not unlike those which the French market-women spread over
their heads in the streets of Paris, and which, more sentimental and
imaginative, they term a "_Robinson_" in honour of Robinson Crusoe.[22]
This mushroom was the scene of a remarkable occurrence, that it will
scarcely do to relate, but which, taking all together, furnishes a
ludicrous sample of national manners, to say nothing of miracles.

[Footnote 22: Pronounced Ro-ban-_sown_. The writer once went to return
the call of Mr. Robinson, at Paris. The porter denied that such a person
lived in the hotel. "But here is his card; Mr. Robinson, N----, Rue
----." "Bah," looking at the card, "ceci est Monsieur Ro-ban-_sown_;
c'est autre chose. Sans doute, Monsieur a entendu parler du celebre
Ro-ban-_sown?_"]

The waters and the air together proved to be so much a tonic, that we
determined to pass a week at Spa, A----, who was so weak on leaving
Paris, as scarcely to be able to enter the carriage, gaining strength in
a way to delight us all. The cholera and the quarantine together induce
a good many people to come this way, and though few remain as long as
ourselves, the constant arrivals serve to keep attention alive. Among
others, the Duke of Saxe-Cobourg passed a night here, on his way home.
He appeared in the public room, for a few minutes; but so few were
assembled, that he retired, it was said, disappointed. There is still
some playing in public, and occasionally the inhabitants of Verviers,
an affluent manufacturing town, near the Prussian frontier, come over in
sufficient numbers to make a tolerably brilliant evening. These meetings
take place in the Redoute, a building of moderate dimensions, erected in
the heart of the place according to a very general German custom;
Wauxhall, the ancient scene of revelry, standing aloof in the fields,
deserted and desolate, as does a rival edifice of more recent existence.
The dimensions and style of these structures give one an idea of the
former gaiety and magnificence of Spa, though the only use that either
is now put to, is to furnish a room for a protestant clergyman to preach
in, Sundays.

As health, after all, is the greatest boon of life, we loitered at Spa a
fortnight, endeavouring to while away the time in the best way we could.
Short as was our stay, and transient as were the visits, we remained
long enough to see that it was an epitome of life. Some intrigued, some
played, and some passed the time at prayer. I witnessed trouble in one
_menage_, saw a parson drunk, and heard much pious discourse from a
captain in the navy!

We got little Ardennes horses, which were constantly parading the
streets, led by countrymen in _blouses_, to tempt us to mount, and took
short excursions in the vicinity. Sometimes we made what is called the
tour of the springs; of which there are several, each differing from the
others in its medicinal properties, and only one of which is in the
village itself, the rest being a mile or more distant. At other times,
we lounged in the shops, admiring and purchasing the beautiful boxes and
ornaments that are known as Spa work, and which are merely the wood of
the hills, coloured by being deposited for a time in the spring, and
then painted and varnished highly. Similar work is made in other places,
but nowhere else as beautifully as here.

At length _ennui_ got the better of the good air and the invigorating
water, and I sent for my passport and the horses. Francois, by this
time, was tired of cooking, and he carried the orders for both right
joyfully, while my _bourgeois_ received his Napoleons with many handsome
expressions of regret, that I dare say were truer than common. In the
mean time we hurried about with our cards of P.P.C.; bidding adieu to
some, without the slightest expectation of ever meeting them again, and
promising others to renew the acquaintance on the Rhine, or among the
Alps, as events might decide. At half-past eleven all was ready, and
shaking hands with two countrymen who came to see us off, we took our
places, and dashed away from our _menage_ of a fortnight's duration, as
unceremoniously as we had stepped into it.

The dog-star raged with all its fury, as we drove through the close and
pent-up valleys that lie between Spa and Verviers. At the latter place
we began to ascend, until finally we reached a broad and naked height,
that overlooked a wide reach of country towards the east. This was the
region that lies around the ancient capital of Charlemagne, and is now a
part of what M. de Pradt has described "as a facade thrown before
Europe," or the modern and disjointed kingdom of Prussia. We reached the
frontier on the height of land, where, everything proving to be _en
regle_, we met with no obstruction or delay.

While crossing the swell of land just mentioned, the wind changed with a
suddenness that we are apt to think American, but which occurs more
frequently in this hemisphere, or rather in this part of it, than in our
own. The peculiarity of the American climate is its exaggeration rather
than its fickleness; its passages from extreme heat to extreme cold,
more than the frequency of its lesser transitions. One never thinks of
an umbrella in America, with a cloudless sky; whereas, during the spring
months in particular, there is no security against rain an hour at a
time, near the western coast of Europe, more especially north of the Bay
of Biscay. On the present occasion, we passed in a few minutes from the
oven to the ice-house, and were travelling with cloaks about us, and
closed windows, long before we reached Aix-la-Chapelle, at which ancient
town we arrived about six. Unlike Spa, where we had the choice among a
hundred furnished houses, Aix was so crowded that we got narrow
lodgings, with great difficulty, in a second-rate hotel.

As a matter of course, although it was going over old ground with most
of us, we could do no less than look at the sights. The environs of Aix,
though exceedingly pretty, and well ornamented by country-houses, are
less beautiful than those of Liege. Although Charlemagne has been buried
near a thousand years, and there is no longer an Emperor of Germany, or
a King of the Romans, Aix-la-Chapelle is still a town of more than
30,000 inhabitants. It is a crowded and not a particularly neat place,
though material improvements are making, and we have been more pleased
with it this year than we were last. The town-house is a very ancient
structure, one of its towers being supposed to have been built by the
Romans, and it is celebrated as having been the place of meeting of two
European congresses; that of 1748, and that of our own times. It has a
gallery of portraits of the different ambassadors, a big-wigged if a not
big-witted set.

The cathedral, though imperfect, is a noble and a curious monument: the
choir is modern, that is to say, of Gothic workmanship, and only five
hundred years old, while the main body is an antique rotunda, that dates
more than twice as far back, or as remotely as the reign of Charlemagne
himself. There is a circular gallery in it, around which the thrones of
the Emperor and Electors were formerly placed, at the ceremonies of
coronations. Each of these thrones was flanked by small antique columns,
brought from Rome, but which during the reign of Napoleon, in the spirit
of monopoly and desecration[23] that marked the era, had been
transferred to Paris, where some of them are still seen standing in the
gallery of the Tuileries. A chair that was found in Charlemagne's tomb
stands in this gallery, and was long used as a throne for the Emperors.

[Footnote 23: Extract from the unpublished manuscript of these letters:
"You have lately been at Richmond Hill," said Mr. ----; "did you admire
the view, as much as is the fashion?" "To be frank with you, I did not.
The Park struck me as being an indifferent specimen of your parks; and
the view, though containing an exquisite bit in the fore-ground, I
think, as a whole, is both tame and confused." "You are not alone in
your opinion, though I think otherwise. Canova walked with me on the
terrace, without seeming to be conscious there was anything unusual to
be seen. He scarcely regarded the celebrated view a second time. Did you
know him?" "He was dead before I came to Europe." "Poor Canova!--I met
him in Paris, in 1815, in a ludicrous dilemma. It rained, and I was
crossing the Carrousel in a _fiacre_, when I saw Canova stealing along
near the walls, covered in a cloak, and apparently uncertain how to
proceed. _I drove_ near him, and offered him a seat. He was agitated,
and appeared like a man who had stolen goods about him. The amount of it
was, that they were distributing the pictures to their former owners,
and having an order to receive "la Madonna della Seggiola," he had laid
hands on the prize, and, in his eagerness to make sure of it, was
carrying it off, under his cloak. He was afraid of being discovered and
mobbed, and so I drove home with him to his hotel." I think Mr. ----
named this particular picture, though I have somewhere heard it was
never brought to Paris, having been sent to Sicily for security: it
might, therefore, have been another painting.]

The cathedral is said to be rich in relics, and, among other things, it
has some of the manna from the desert, and a bit of Aaron's rod! It has
a window or two, in a retired chapel, which have a few panes of
exquisitely painted glass that are much more precious than either.

At noon I sent my passport to the post-house for horses, and, in return,
I had a visit from the postmaster in compliment to the republic of
letters. We said a few flattering things to each other, much to the
amusement of A----, when we took our departure.

The country, after quitting the valley of Aix,[24] became flat and
monotonous, and it was in the midst of a vast level district that we
found the town of Juliers, the capital of the ancient duchy, buried
behind grassy ramparts, that were scarcely visible until we were
actually passing them. It is a tame and insignificant place, at
present. At Berghem, a post or two further, I had another visit from the
postmaster and his clerk, who made no scruple in asking me if I was the
man who wrote books! We talk a great deal of our national intelligence
in America, and certainly with truth, when we compare ourselves with
these people in many important particulars; but blocks are not colder,
or can have less real reverence for letters, arts, or indeed cultivation
of any kind, than the great bulk of the American people. There are a few
among us who pretend to work themselves up into enthusiasm as respects
the first, more especially if they can get a foreign name to idolize;
but it is apparent, at a glance, that it is not enthusiasm of the pure
water. For this, Germany is the land of sensations, whether music,
poetry, arms, or the more material arts be their object. As for myself,
I can boast of little in this way, beyond the homage of my two
postmasters, which perhaps was more than properly fell to my share; but
I shall never forget the feeling displayed by a young German, at
Dresden, whom chance threw in my way. We had lodgings in a house
directly opposite the one inhabited by Tieck, the celebrated novelist
and dramatist. Having no proper means of introduction to this gentleman,
and unwilling to obtrude myself anywhere, I never made his acquaintance,
but it was impossible not to know, in so small a town, where so great a
celebrity lived. Next door to us was a Swiss confectioner, with whom I
occasionally took an ice. One day a young man entered for a similar
purpose, and left the room with myself. At the door he inquired if I
could tell him in which of the neighbouring hotels M. Tieck resided, I
showed him the house and paused a moment to watch his manner, which was
entirely free from pretension, but which preserved an indescribable
expression of reverence. "Was it possible to get a glimpse of the person
of M. Tieck?" "I feared not; some one had told me that he was gone to a
watering-place." "Could I tell him which was the window of his room?"
This I was able to do, as he had been pointed out to me at it a few
days before. I left him gazing at the window, and it was near an hour
before this quiet exhibition of heartfelt homage ceased by the departure
of the young man. In my own case, I half suspect that my two postmasters
expected to see a man of less European countenance than the one I happen
to travel with.

[Footnote 24: _Aachen_, in German. In French it is pronounced
Ais-la-Chapelle.]

It was near sunset when we reached the margin of the upper terrace,
where we began to descend to the level of the borders of the Rhine. Here
we had a view of the towers of Cologne, and of the broad plain that
environs its walls. It was getting to be dark as we drove through the
winding entrance, among bastions and half-moons, and across bridges, up
to the gates of the place, which we reached just in season to be
admitted without the extra formalities.

LETTER XII.

The Cathedral of Cologne.--The eleven thousand Virgins.--The Skulls Of
the Magi--House in which Rubens was born.--Want of Cleanliness in
Cologne.--Journey resumed.--The Drachenfels.--Romantic Legend.--A
Convent converted into an Inn.--Its Solitude.--A Night in it.--A
Storm.--A Nocturnal Adventure.--Grim Figures.--An Apparition.--The
Mystery dissolved.--Palace of the Kings of Australia.--Banks of the
Rhine.--Coblentz.--Floating Bridges.--Departure from Coblentz.--Castle
of the Ritterstein.--Visit to it.--Its Furniture,--The Ritter
Saal--Tower of the Castle.--Anachronisms.

Dear ----,

I do not know by what dignitary of the ancient electorate the hotel in
which we lodged was erected, but it was a spacious building, with fine
lofty rooms and a respectable garden. As the language of a country is
influenced by its habits, and in America everything is so much reduced
to the standard of the useful that little of the graceful has yet been
produced, it may be well to remind you that this word "garden,"
signifies pleasure-grounds in Europe. It way even be questioned if the
garden of Eden was merely a _potager_.

After breakfasting we began to deliberate as to our future movements.
Here we were at Cologne, in Prussia, with the wide world before us,
uncertain whither to proceed. It was soon decided, however, that a first
duty was to look again at the unfinished cathedral, that wonder of
Gothic architecture; to make a pilgrimage to the house in which Rubens
was born; to pay a visit to the eleven thousand virgins, and to buy some
Cologne water: after which it would be time enough to determine where we
should sleep.

The first visit was to the bones. These relics are let into the walls of
the church that contains them, and are visible through a sort of
pigeon-holes which are glazed. There is one chapel in particular, that
is altogether decorated with the bones arranged in this manner, the
effect being very much like that of an apothecary's shop. Some of the
virgins are honoured with hollow wooden or silver busts, lids in the
tops of which being opened, the true skull is seen within. These relics
are not as formidable, therefore, as one would be apt to infer the bones
of eleven thousand virgins might be, the grinning portion of the skulls
being uniformly veiled for propriety's sake. I thought it a miracle in
itself to behold the bones of all these virgins, but, as if they were
insufficient, the cicerone very coolly pointed out to us the jar that
had held the water which was converted into wine by the Saviour at the
marriage of Cana! It was Asiatic in form, and may have held both water
and wine in its day.

The cathedral is an extraordinary structure. Five hundred years have
gone by, and there it is less than half finished. One of the towers is
not forty feet high, while the other may be two hundred. The crane,
which is renewed from time to time, though a stone has not been raised
in years, is on the latter. The choir, or rather the end chapel that
usually stands in rear of the choir, is perfect, and a most beautiful
thing it is. The long narrow windows, that are near a hundred feet in
height, are exquisitely painted, creating the peculiar cathedral
atmosphere, that ingenious invention of some poet to render solemn
architecture imaginative and glorious. We could not dispense with
looking at the skulls of the Magi, which are kept in an exceedingly rich
reliquary or shrine. They are all three crowned, as well as being masked
like the virgins. There is much jewellery, though the crowns had a
strong glow of tinsel about them, instead of the mild lustre of the true
things. Rubens, as you know, was of gentle birth, and the house in which
he was born is just such a habitation as you would suppose might have
been inhabited by a better sort of burgher. It is said that Mary of
Medicis, the wife of Henry IV, died in this building, and tradition,
which is usually a little ambitious of effect, has it that she died in
the very room in which Rubens was born. The building is now a
public-house.

I do not know that there is a necessary connection between foul smells
and Cologne water, but this place is the dirtiest and most offensive we
have yet seen, or rather smelt, in Europe. It would really seem that
people wish to drive their visitors into the purchase of their great
antidote. Disagreeable as it was, we continued to _flaner_ through the
streets until near noon, visiting, among other things, the floating
bridge, where we once more enjoyed the sight of the blue waters of the
Rhine glancing beneath our feet.

Like true _flaneurs_, we permitted chance to direct our steps, and at
twelve, tired with foul smells and heat, we entered the carriage,
threaded the half-moons, abbatis and grassy mounds again, and issued
into the pure air of the unfenced fields, on the broad plain that
stretches for miles towards the east, or in the direction of Bonn. The
day was sultry, and we fully enjoyed the transition. In this part of
Germany the postilions are no laggards, and we trotted merrily across
the wide plain, reaching Bonn long before it was time to refresh
ourselves. The horses were changed, and we proceeded immediately. As we
left the town I thought the students, who were gasping at the windows of
their lodgings, envied us the pleasure of motion Having so lately
accompanied me over this road; I shall merely touch upon such points as
were omitted before, and keep you acquainted with our movements.

The afternoon was lovely, when, passing the conical and castle-crowned
steep of Godisberg, we approached the hills, where the road for the
first time runs on the immediate borders of the stream. Opposite to us
were the Seven mountains, topped by the ruins of the Drachenfels, crag
and masonry wearing the appearance of having mouldered together under
the slow action of centuries; and, a little in advance, the castle of
Rolandseck peered above the wooded rocks on our own side of the river.
Two low islands divided the stream, and on one of them stood the
capacious buildings of a convent. Every one at all familiar with the
traditions of the Rhine, has heard the story of the crusader, who,
returning from the wars, found his betrothed a nun in this asylum. It
would seem that lies were as rife before the art of printing had been
pressed into their service, or newspapers known, as they are to-day, for
she had been taught to think him dead or inconstant; it was much the
same to her. The castle which overlooked the island was built for his
abode, and here the legend is prudently silent. Although one is not
bound to believe all he hears; we are all charmed with the images which
such tales create, especially when, as in this case, they are aided by
visible and tangible objects in the shape of good stone walls. As we
trotted along under the brow of the mountain that upholds the ruins of
the castle of Charlemagne's nephew, my eye rested musingly on the silent
pile of the convent. "That convent," I called out to the postilion, "is
still inhabited?" "_Ja, mein Herr, es ist ein gasthaus_." An inn!--the
thing was soon explained. The convent, a community of Benedictines, had
been suppressed some fifteen or twenty years, and the buildings had been
converted into one of your sentimental taverns. With the closest
scrutiny I could not detect a soul near the spot, for junketing in a
ruin is my special aversion. A hamlet stood on the bank at no great
distance above the island; the postilion grinned when I asked if it
would be possible to get horses to this place in the morning, for it
saved him a trot all the way to Oberwinter. He promised to send word in
the course of the night to the relay above, and the whole affair was
arranged in live minutes. The carriage was housed and left under the
care of Francois on the main land, a night sack thrown into a skiff, and
in ten minutes we were afloat on the Rhine. Our little bark whirled
about in the eddies, and soon touched the upper point of the island.

We found convent, _gasthaus_, and sentiment, without any pre-occupants.
There was not a soul on the island, but the innkeeper, his wife, a
child, a cook, a crone who did all sorts of work, and three Prussian
soldiers, who were billeted on the house, part of a detachment that we
had seen scattered along the road, all the way from Bonn. I do not know
which were the most gladdened by the meeting, ourselves or the good
people of the place; we at finding anything like retirement in Europe,
and they at seeing anything like guests. The man regretted that we had
come so late, for a large party had just left him; and we felicitated
ourselves that we had not come any sooner, for precisely the same
reason. As soon as he comprehended our tastes, he very frankly admitted
that every room in the convent was empty. "There is no one, but these,
on the island. Not a living being, _herr graf_" for these people have
made a count of me, whether or not. Here then were near two hundred
acres, environed by the Rhine, prettily disposed in wood and meadow,
absolutely at our mercy. You can readily imagine, with what avidity a
party of young Parisiennes profited by their liberty, while I proceeded
forthwith to inspect the ladder, and then to inspect the cloisters.
Sooth to say, sentiment had a good deal to do with two of the courses of
a dinner at Nonnenswerth, for so is the island called. The buildings
were spacious, and far from mean; and it was a pleasant thing to
promenade in cloisters that had so lately been trodden by holy nuns, and
see your dinner preparing in a convent kitchen. I could do no less than
open a bottle of "Liebfraumilch" in such a place, but it proved to be a
near neighbour to bonny-clabber.

As the evening closed we took possession of our rooms. Our parlour had
been that of the lady abbess, and A---- had her bed-chamber. These were
spacious rooms and well furnished. The girls were put into the cells,
where girls ought never to be put. Jetty had another near them, and,
these dispositions made, I sallied forth alone, in quest of a sensation.

The intense heat of the day had engendered a gust. The thunder was
muttering among the "seven mountains," and occasionally a flash of
lightning illumined the pitchy darkness of the night. I walked out into
the grounds, where the wind was fiercely howling through the trees. A
new flash illumined the hills, and I distinctly saw the naked rock of
the Drachenfels, with the broken tower tottering on the half-ruined
crag, looked fearful and supernatural. By watching a minute, another
flash exposed Rolandseck, looking down upon me with melancholy
solicitude. Big drops began to patter on the leaves, and, still bent on
sensations, I entered the buildings.

The cloisters were gloomy, but I looked into the vast, smoked, and
cavern-like kitchen, where the household were consuming the fragments of
our dinner. A light shone from the door of a low cell, in a remote
corner of the cloisters, and I stole silently to it, secretly hoping it
would prove to be a supernatural glimmering above some grave. The three
Prussians were eating their cheese-parings and bread, by the light of a
tallow candle, seated on a stone floor. It was short work to squeeze all
the poetry out of this group.

The storm thickened, and I mounted to the gallery, or the corridor above
the cloisters, which communicated with our own rooms. Here I paced back
and forth, a moment, in obscurity, until, by means of a flash, I
discovered a door, at one extremity of the passage. Bent on adventure, I
pushed and it opened. As there were only moments when anything could be
seen, I proceeded in utter darkness, using great caution not to fall
through a trap. Had it been my happy fortune to be a foundling, who had
got his reading and writing "by nature," I should have expected to
return from the adventure a Herzog,[25] at least, if not an
Erz-Herzog[26] Perhaps, by some inexplicable miracle of romance, I might
have come forth the lawful issue of Roland and the nun!

[Footnote 25: Duke.]

[Footnote 26: Arch-Duke.]

As it was, I looked for no more than sensations, of which the hour
promised to be fruitful. I had not been a minute in the unknown region,
before I found that, if it were not the abode of troubled spirits, it at
least was worthy to be so. You will remember that I am not now dealing
in fiction, but truth, and that, unlike those who "read when they sing,
and sing when they read," I endeavour to be imaginative in poetry and
literal in my facts. I am now dealing strictly with the latter, which I
expect will greatly enhance the interest of this adventure.

After taking half-a-dozen steps with extreme caution, I paused a moment,
for the whole air appeared to be filled by a clatter, as if ten thousand
bats' wings were striking against glass. This was evidently within the
convent, while, without, the wind howled even louder than ever. My hand
rested on something, I knew not what. At first I did not even know
whether I was in the open air, or not, for I felt the wind, saw large
spaces of dim light, and yet could distinguish that something like a
vault impended over my head. Presently a vivid flash of lightning
removed all doubt. It flickered, seemed extinguished, and flared up
again, in a way to let me get some distinct ideas of the _locus in quo_.
I had clearly blundered into the convent chapel; not upon its pavement,
which was on a level with the cloisters below, but into an open gallery,
that communicated with the apartments of the nuns, and my hand was on
the chair of the lady abbess, the only one that remained. The dim light
came from the high arched windows, and the bats' wings were small broken
panes rattling in the gale. But I was not alone. By the transient light
I saw several grim figures, some kneeling, others with outstretched
arms, bloody and seared, and one appeared to be in the confessional. At
the sight of these infernal spectres, for they came and went with the
successive flashes of the lightning, by a droll chain of ideas, I caught
myself shouting, rather than singing--"Ship ahoy! ship ahoy!--what
cheer, what cheer?" in a voice loud as the winds. At last, here was a
sensation! Half-a-dozen flashes rendered me familiar with the
diabolical-looking forms, and as I now knew where to look for them, even
their grim countenances were getting to be familiar. At this moment,
when I was about to address them in prose, the door by which I had
entered the gallery opened slowly, and the withered face of an old woman
appeared in a flash. The thunder came next, and the face vanished--"Ship
ahoy! ship ahoy!--what cheer, what cheer?" There was another pause--the
door once more opened, and the face re-appeared. I gave a deep and loud
groan; if you ask me why, I can only say, because it seemed to be
wanting to the general effect of the scene and place. The door slammed,
the face vanished, and I was alone again with the demons. By this time
the gust was over I groped my way out of the gallery, stole through the
corridor into my own room, and went to bed. I ought to have had exciting
dreams, especially after the _Liebfraumilch_, but, contrary to all
rule, I slept like a postilion in a cock-loft, or a midshipman in the
middle watch.

The next morning at breakfast, A---- had a melancholy tale to relate;
how the poor old crone, who has already been mentioned, had been
frightened by the gust--how she stole to the chapel to mutter a
prayer--how she opened the door of the gallery--how she heard strange
sounds, and particularly certain groans--how she had dropped the
candle--how the door had blown to, and she, miserable woman, had stolen
to the bed of her (A----'s) maid, whom she had implored to give her
shelter and protection for the night! We went in a body to look at the
chapel, after breakfast, and it was admitted all round, that it was well
suited to produce a sensation, in a thunder-storm, of a dark night, and
that it was no wonder Jetty's bed-fellow had been frightened. But now
everything was calm and peaceful. The glass hung in fragments about the
leaden sashes; the chair and _priere-dieu_ of the lady abbess had
altogether an innocent and comfortable air, and the images, of which
there were several, as horrible as a bungling workman and a bloody
imagination could produce, though of a suffering appearance, were really
insensible to pain. While we were making this reconnoissance a bugle
sounded on the main, and looking out, we saw the Oberwinter postilion
coming round the nearest bend in the river. On this hint, we took our
leave of the island, not forgetting to apply a little of the universal
salve to the bruised spirit of the old woman whose dread of thunder had
caused her to pass so comfortless a night.

The day was before us, and we went leisurely up the stream, determined
to profit by events. The old castles crowned every height, as you know,
and as we had the carriage filled with maps and books, we enjoyed every
foot of this remarkable road. At Andernach we stopped to examine the
ruins of the palace of the Kings of Austrasia, of whom you have heard
before. The remains are considerable, and some parts of the walls would
still admit of being restored. The palace has outlasted not only the
kingdom, but almost its history. This edifice was partly built of a
reddish freestone, very like that which is so much used in New York, a
material that abounds on the Rhine.

Between Andernach and Coblentz the road passes over a broad plain, at
some little distance from the river, though the latter is usually in
sight. It may give you some idea of its breadth, if I tell you that as
we approached Neuwied, it became a disputed point in the carriage,
whether the stream flowed between us and the town, or not. Still the
Rhine is a mighty river, and even imposing, when one contemplates its
steady flow, and remembers its great length. It is particularly low at
present, and is less beautiful than last year, the colours of the water
being more common-place than usual.

It was still early, though we had loitered a good deal by the way, to
study views and examine ruins, when we drew near the fort-environed town
of Coblentz. The bridge across the Moselle was soon passed, and we again
found ourselves in this important station. The territory opposite the
city belongs to the duchy of Nassau, but enough has been ceded to the
King of Prussia to enable him to erect the celebrated Ehrenbreitstein,
which is one of the strongest forts in the world, occupying the summit
of a rocky height, whose base is washed by the Rhine, and whose outworks
are pushed to all the neighbouring eminences. The position of Coblentz,
at the junction of the Rhine and the Moselle, the latter of which
penetrates into the ancient electorate of Treves, now belonging to
Prussia, may render it an important station to that power, but it does
not strike me as military. The enemy that can seize any one of its
numerous outworks, or forts, must essentially command the place. As at
Genoa, it seems to me that too much has been attempted to succeed.

Last night we had a convent that was a parallelogram of six hundred
feet by three hundred, all to ourselves; while this night we were
crowded into a small and uncomfortable inn that was overflowing with
people. The house was noisy and echoish, and not inappropriately called
the "Three Swiss."

We crossed the river by the bridge of boats, and ascended the opposite
hill to enjoy the view. There was another island up the stream, with a
ruined convent, but unhappily it was not an inn. The Rhine is a frontier
for much of its course, washing the shores of France, Darmstadt,
Bavaria, Baden, Nassau, Prussia, &c., &c., for a long distance, and
permanent bridges are avoided in most places. The floating bridges,
being constructed of platforms laid on boats, that are united by clamps,
can be taken apart, and withdrawn, to either shore, in an hour or two.

We quitted Coblentz at ten, and now began in truth to enter the fine
scenery of the Rhine. The mountains, or rather hills, for they scarcely
deserve the former name, close upon the river, a short distance below
the town, and from that moment, with very immaterial exceptions, the
road follows the windings of the stream, keeping generally within a few
yards of the water. The departures from this rule are not more than
sufficient to break the monotony of a perfectly uniform scene. I have
nothing new to tell you of the ruined castles--the villages and towns
that crowd the narrow strand--the even and well-kept roads--the
vine-covered hills--and the beautiful sinuosities of this great artery
of Europe. To write any thing new or interesting of this well-beaten
path, one must linger days among the ruins, explore the valleys, and
dive into the local traditions. We enjoyed the passage, as a matter of
course, but it was little varied, until we drew near the frontier of
Prussia, when a castle, that stood beetling on a crag, immediately above
the road, caught my eye. The building, unlike most of its sister
edifices, appeared to be in good order; smoke actually arose from a
beacon-grate that thrust itself out from an advanced tower, which was
nearly in a perpendicular line above us, and the glazed windows and
other appliances denoted a perfect and actual residence. As usual, the
postilion was questioned. I understood him to say that the place was
called the Ritterstein, but the name is of little moment. It was a
castle of the middle ages, a real hold of the Rhine, which had been
purchased by a brother of the King of Prussia, who is now the governor
of the Rhenish provinces. This prince had caused the building to be
restored, rigidly adhering to the ancient style of architecture, and to
be furnished according to the usages of the middle ages, and baronial
comfort; what was more, if the prince were not in his hold, as probably
would prove not to be the case, strangers were permitted to visit it!
Here was an unexpected pleasure, and we hastened to alight, admiring the
governor of Rhenish provinces, his taste, and his liberality, with all
our hearts.

If you remember the satisfaction with which we visited the little
hunting-tower of the poor Prince de Conde in 1827, a building whose
chief merit was its outward form and the fact that it had been built by
the Queen Blanche, you can form some notion of the zeal with which we
toiled up the steep ascent, on the present occasion. The path was good,
tasteful, and sinuous; but the buildings stood on crags that were almost
perpendicular on three of their sides, and at an elevation of near, or
perhaps quite, two hundred feet above the road.

We were greeted, on reaching the gate, not by a warder, but by the growl
and bark of a ferocious mastiff, who would have been more in keeping at
his post near a henroost, than at the portal of a princely castle. One
"half-groom, half-seneschal," and who was withal a little drunk,
however, soon came forth to receive us, and, after an exhortation to the
dog in a Dutch that was not quite as sonorous as the growl of the
animal, he very civilly offered to do the honours of the place.

We entered by a small drawbridge, but the buildings stand so near the
brow of an impending rock, as to induce me to think this bridge has
been made for effect, rather than to renew the original design. A good
deal of the old wall remains, especially in the towers, which are mostly
round, and all that has been done with the exterior, has been to fill
the gaps, and to re-attach the balconies and the external staircases,
which are of iron. I can no more give you a clear idea of the irregular
form of this edifice with the pen, than you would obtain of the
intricate tracery of Gothic architecture, having never seen a Gothic
edifice, or studied a treatise on the style, by the same means. You will
understand the difficulty when you are told that this castle is built on
crags, whose broken summits are its foundations, and give it its form.
The court is narrow and inconvenient, carriages never approaching it,
but several pretty little terraces in front answer most of the purposes
of courts, and command lovely glimpses of the Rhine, in both directions.
These terraces, like the towers and walls, were placed just where there
was room, and the total absence of regularity forms one of the charms of
the place.

In the interior, the ancient arrangement has been studiously respected.
The furniture is more than imitation, for we were told that much of it
had been taken from the royal collections of Berlin. By royal, you are
not to suppose, however, that there are any attempts at royal state, but
merely that the old castles of the barons and counts, whose diminutive
territories have contributed to rear the modern state of Prussia, have
been ransacked for this end.

The Ritter Saal, or Knight's Hall, though not large, is a curious room;
indeed it is the only one in the entire edifice that can be called a
good room, at all. The fire-place is huge,--so much so, that I walked
into it with ease, and altogether in the ancient style. There is a good
deal of curious armour hung up in this room, and it has many other
quaint and rare objects. The chandelier was a circle formed by uniting
buck's horns, which were fitted with lamps. There was almost too much
good taste about this for feudal times, and I suspect it of being one of
our modern embellishments; a material picture of the past, like a poem
by Scott. There may have been some anachronisms in the furniture, but we
all use furniture of different ages, when we are not reduced to the
fidgety condition of mere gentility.

In one corner of the Bitter Saal there stood an ancient vessel to hold
water, and beneath it was a porcelain trough to catch the drippings. The
water was obtained by turning a cock. The chairs, tables, settees, &c.
were all of oak. The coverings of the chairs, _i. e_. backs and bottoms,
were richly embroidered in golden thread, the work of different royal
personages. The designs were armorial bearings.

All the stairs were quaint and remarkable, and, in one instance, we
encircled the exterior of a tower, by one of them, at a giddy elevation
of near three hundred feet above the river, the tower itself being
placed on the uttermost verge of the precipice. From this tower the
grate of the beacon thrust itself forward, and as it still smoked, I
inquired the reason. We were told that the wad of a small piece of
artillery, that had been fired as a signal to the steam-boat, had lodged
in the grate, where it was still burning. The signal had been given to
enable the Prince and his family to embark, for they had not left the
place an hour when we arrived. _Tempora mutantur_ since the inhabitants
of such a hold can go from Bingen to Coblentz to dine in a steamer.

We saw the bed-rooms. The Prince slept on an inner camp bedstead, but
the ladies occupied bunks let into the walls, as in the olden time. The
rooms were small, the Bitter Saal excepted, and low, though there were a
good many of them. One or two were a little too much modernized,
perhaps, though, on the whole, the keeping was surprisingly good. A
severe critic might possibly have objected to a few anachronisms in
this _romaunt_, but this in a fault that Prince Frederic shares in
common with Shakspeare and Sir Walter Scott.

I cannot recall a more delightful hour than that we passed in examining
this curiosity, which was like handling and feeding, and playing with a
living cameleopard, after having seen a dozen that were stuffed.

* * * * *

In reference to the controversy touching the expenses of the American
Government alluded to in page 37, of this volume, the following
particulars may not be uninteresting.

Early in the day, the party who conducted the controversy for the other
side began to make frequent allusions to certain Americans--"_plusieurs
honorables Americains_" was the favourite expression--who, he alleged,
had furnished him with information that went to corroborate the truth of
his positions, and, as a matter of course, to invalidate the truth of
ours. Secret information reached me, also, that a part, at least, of our
own legation was busy for the other side. At one period, M. Perier, the
Premier of France, publicly cited the name of the minister, himself, at
the tribune, as having given an opinion against those who conducted the
controversy on the side of the American system, and in favour of our
opponents. I understand Mr. Rives declares that M. Perier had no
authority either for using his name, or for attributing such sentiments
to him; although the statement, as yet, stands uncontradicted before the
world. You will probably be startled, when I tell you, that this is the
third instance, within a few months, in which the public agents of
America have been openly quoted as giving evidence against the action of
the American system. The two other cases occurred in the British
parliament, and, in one of them, as in this of Mr. Rives, the agent was
quoted by name! It is not in my power to say whether these gentlemen
have or have not been wrongfully quoted; but all cannot be right, when
they are quoted at all. Figure to yourself, for a moment, what would be
the effect of a member of congress quoting the minister of a foreign
government, at Washington, as giving an opinion against a material
feature of the polity he represented, and the disclaimers and
discussions, not to say quarrels, that would succeed. How is it, that
the representatives of exclusion are so much more faithful to the
interests of their principals, than the representatives of liberal
institutions?

Some will tell you that the condition of Europe is critical; that our
own relations with certain countries are delicate, and that it is
expedient to temporize. In the first place, judging from my own
observations, I do not believe there is any of the much-talked-of
temporizing spirit about all this compliance, but that in most of the
cases in which the agents of the government disown the distinguishing
principles of the institutions (and these cases have got to be so
numerous as to attract general attention, and to become the subject of
sneering newspaper comments) it is "out of the fulness of the heart that
the mouth speaketh." But, allowing that the first position is true, and
that these gentlemen actually acquiesce for the sake of quiet, and with
a view to advance what they conceive to be the interests of America, I
shall maintain that the course is to the last degree impolitic and
unworthy. Our motto is to "ask nothing but what is right, and to submit
to nothing that is wrong." Apart from the sound morality of this
sentiment, the wisdom of Solomon could not better express the true
policy of a nation situated like our own. It can hardly be pretended,
that the "right" for which we ask ought to be purchased at the
disgraceful price of abandoning the truth. This would be truly
bargaining away a better right for another of less value. These
gentlemen of expedients may beat their brains as much as they please,
they will never invent any means so simple, and so sure of attaining the
great ends included in the political maxim just quoted, as by adhering
to the plain, direct dictates of common honesty. Each trifling temporary
advantage they may gain, will certainly and speedily be met by some
contingent disadvantage, that will render them losers by the
exchange.[27]

[Footnote 27: As respects France, the result has shown the impolicy of
the temporizing system. The French Government, finding such a
disposition to compliance in the agents that were placed near it, by
America, has quite reasonably inferred that the mass at home acted on
the same temporizing and selfish policy, and has treated a solemn
compact, that contains a tardy and very insufficient reparation, for
some of the greatest outrages that were ever committed by one civilized
nation on the rights of another, as a matter quite within its own
control. This consequence was foreseen by the writer, and foretold, in a
letter that was written in 1832, and published as far back as the year
1833. It was only necessary to be on the spot, and to witness the
contempt and indifference engendered by this miserable policy, to
predict the events which have since occurred. The accidental situation
of Europe has favoured us, and we owe the tardy reparation that has been
received more to Russia than to ourselves.]

To return to France and the controversy on finance, our opponents had at
length the indiscretion to publish a document that they said had been
furnished them by some of their "_honorables Americains_" and by which
they attempted to prove some one of their various positions; for by this
time they had taken a great many, scarcely any two of which agreed. I
have no doubt that this document, in the present instance, did come from
"Americans," though it originally came from Captain Basil Hall. This
gentleman had appended to his travels, a table, which purported to
contain an arranged statement of the cost of the state governments. You
will form some idea of the value of this table, as a political and
statistical document, by an exposure of one or two of its more prominent
errors. Taking, for instance, our own state; the receipts from the
_property_ of the state, such as its canal, common school, literature,
and other funds, necessarily passing through the treasury, the sum total
is made to figure against us, as the annual charge of government; which,
by these means, is swelled to five times the real amount. Every one
knows that the receipts of the canals alone, the moment that the
conditions of the loans effected to construct them shall admit of their
application, will be more than sufficient to meet the entire charges of
the state government twice over; but, by this mystified statement, we
are made to appear the poorer for every dollar of properly we possess!
And yet this is the nature of the evidence that some of our people
furnished to the writers on the French side of this question; a side
that, by their own showing, was the side of monarchy?

But this is not all. A citizen has been found willing, under his own
name, to espouse the argument of the French writers. Of the validity of
the statements presented by this gentleman (Mr. Leavitt Harris, of New
Jersey), or of the force of his reasoning, I shall say nothing here, for
his letter and our answers will sufficiently speak for themselves. The
administration party, however, have thought the statements of Mr. Harris
of sufficient importance to be published in a separate number of their
literary organ, _La Revue Britannique_, and to dwell upon it in all
their political organs, as the production of an American who has been
intrusted by his government with high diplomatic missions, and who,
consequently, is better authority than an unhonoured citizen like
myself, who have no claims to attention beyond those I can assemble in
my argument.[28] The odds, as you will perceive, are greatly against me;
for, in these countries, the public know little of the details of
government, and it gives a high sanction to testimony of this nature to
be able to say it comes from one, who is, or has been, connected with an
administration. Standing as I do, therefore, contradicted by the alleged
opinion (true or false) of Mr. Rives, and by this statement of Mr.
Harris, you will readily conceive that my situation here is not of the
most pleasant nature. Unsalaried and untrusted by my own Government,
opposed, in appearance at least, by its agents, I am thrown, for the
vindication of truth, completely on my own resources, so far as any
American succour has been furnished; and am reduced to the narrow
consolation of making this simple record of the facts, which, possibly,
at some future day, may answer the purpose of an humble protest in
favour of the right.

[Footnote 28: The French writers, to make the most of their witness,
exaggerated a little; for, at that time, Mr. Harris had never filled any
higher diplomatic station than that of one left _charge des affaires_ of
the legation at St. Petersburg, during the absence of Mr. Adams at
Ghent. Shortly after the publication of this letter, however, he was
appointed by the President and the Senate of the United States of
America to represent it at the King of the French, as if _expressly to
give value to his testimony_.]

This controversy has, at least, served to remove the mask from this
Government, on the subject of its disposition towards America and her
institutions. To that pretended feeling I have never been even
momentarily a dupe; but, failing of arguments--for no talents or
ingenuity, after all, can make the wrong the right--most of the writers
on the other side of the question have endeavoured to enliven their
logic with abuse. I do not remember anything, in the palmy days of the
Quarterly Review, that more completely descended to low and childish
vituperation than some of the recent attacks on America. Much of what
has been written is unmitigated fraud, that has been meant to produce an
impression on the public mind, careless of any other object than the
end; but much also, I think, has really been imagined to be true, while
it is, in fact, the offspring of the prejudices that studied
misrepresentation has so deeply implanted in the opinions of Europe. As
we are not immaculate, of course, a greater portion of their charges is
true than one could wish. Some of the allegations are so absurd, that it
may amuse you to hear them. The French consider the Sabbath as a day of
recreation, and after going to mass (a duty, by the way, that few
besides women discharge in Paris), the rest of the time is devoted to
dancing and other amusements. With a view to act on the rooted opinions
of the nation, on this subject, the American practice of running a chain
across the street in front of the churches, to prevent the rattling of
the carriages from disturbing the worship (a practice, by the way, that
is quite as much European as it is American, and which has never even
been very general among us), has been so represented as to induce the
French to believe that our streets are in chains, and that even walking,
or using a horse, or any vehicle of a Sunday, is a prohibited thing. In
addition to a variety of similar absurdities, we are boldly charged with
most of the grosser vices, and, in some instances, intimations have been
given that our moral condition is the natural consequence of our descent
from convicted felons!

To the American, who is a little prone to pride himself on being derived
from a stock of peculiar moral purity, this imputation on his origin
sounds extraordinary, and is apt to excite indignation. I dare say you
are not prepared to learn, that it was a common, perhaps the prevalent
opinion of Europe, that our states were settled by convicts. That this,
until very lately, was the prevalent opinion of Europe, I entertain no
doubt, though I think the few last years have produced some change in
this respect; more of the popular attention most probably having been
attracted to us, within this period, than during the two centuries that
preceded it. You will smile to hear, that the common works of fiction
have been the material agents in producing the change; information that
has been introduced through the medium of amusement, making its way
where the graver labours of the historian have never been able to
penetrate. Courier, the cleverest political writer France has produced,
perhaps in any age, and a staunch republican, says, it would be quite as
unjust to reproach the modern Romans with being descended from ravishers
and robbers, as it is to reproach the Americans with being descended
from convicts. He wishes to remove the stigma from his political
brethren, but the idea of denying the imputation does not appear to have
entered his mind. Jefferson, also, alludes to the subject in some of his
letters, apparently, in answer to a philosophical inquiry from one of
his friends. He estimates the whole number of persons transported to the
American colonies, under sentence from the courts, at about two
thousand; and, taking into consideration their habits, he was of
opinion, half a century ago, that their descendants did not probably
exceed the original stock. I do not know where Mr. Jefferson obtained
his data for this estimate, but he did not show his ordinary acuteness
in ascribing the reason why the convicts left few or no issue. Women
were by far too much in request in America, during the first century or
two of its political existence, to admit of the probability of men so
openly stamped with infamy from obtaining wives, and I think there
existed a physical inability for the propagation of the stock, since
very few women were transported at any time. Within the last few months,
two instances have occurred in the Chamber of Deputies, of members
quoting the example of America, in enforcing their arguments in favour
of the possibility of forming respectable communities by the
transportation of criminals!

I had no intention of quoting any part of the controversy on finance,
but, on reflection, it may serve a good purpose to give one or two
extracts from the letter of Mr. Harris. In order that this may be done
fairly, both as it respects the point at issue and the parties
concerned, it will be necessary to make a brief preliminary explanation.
M. Sauliner, the principal writer of the other side, had made it a
charge against our system, that nearly all the public money was derived
from the customs, which he assumed was a bad mode of obtaining revenue.
Let this be as it might, my answer, was, that, as between France and
America, there was no essential variance of system, the only difference
lying in the fact that the one got _all_ the revenue it _could_ in this
manner, and that the other got all it _wanted_. I added, a tax on
exports excepted, that all the usual means of raising revenue known to
other nations were available, at need, to the government of the
United-States. To this latter opinion Mr. Harris took exceptions,
saying, in effect, that the administration of Mr. Adams, the father,
had been broken down by resorting to excises, stamp-acts, and direct
taxation; and that since his unfortunate experiment, no administration
in America had dreamed, even in time of war, of resorting to a mode of
obtaining revenue which was so offensive as to produce the revolution of
1776! Of course Mr. Harris was reminded, that the stamp-act, of which
the colonists complained, was repealed many years before the epoch of
1776; that the revolution proceeded from a denial of the right in
parliament to tax the colonies at all, and not from any particular
imposition; and that excises and a stamp-act had all been resorted to,
in the war of 1812, without overturning the administration of Mr.
Madison, or weakening that of his successor. But of what avail was a
statement of this kind, in opposition to the allegations of one who
appeared before Europe in the character of an American diplomate? Mr.
Harris enjoyed the double advantage of giving his testimony as one in
the confidence of both the French and the American governments--an
advantage that a quotation from the statute-books themselves could not
overcome.

Mr. Harris disposed of one knotty point in this controversy with so much
ingenuity, that it deserves to be more generally known. Our adversaries
had brought the accusation of luxury against the American government,
inasmuch as it was said to furnish both a town and a country palace for
the President--a degree of magnificence little suspected in France. This
point was not treated as a matter of any importance by us, though
General Lafayette had slightly and playfully alluded to it, once or
twice. The words of Mr. Harris shall speak for themselves: "Le General
Lafayette parait surtout avoir ete frappe de l'erreur dans laquelle est
tombe l'auteur de la Revue, a l'egard de la belle maison de campagne
dont il a dote la presidence; et c'est peut-etre la ce qui l'a porte a
faire appel a M. le General Bernard et a M. Cooper."

"L'erreur de l'auteur de la Revue, au sujet de la maison de campagne du
president, est de tres peu d'importance. Personne ne sait mieux que le
General Lafayette que la residence affectee par la nation a son
president, dans le District de Columbia, est situee de maniere a jouir
des avantages de la ville et de la campagne."

Here you perceive the intellectual _finesse_ with which we have had to
contend. We are charged with the undue luxury of supporting a town and
country house for a public functionary; and, disproving the fact, our
opponents turn upon us, with a pernicious subtlety, and show, to such a
condensing point has the effeminate spirit reached among us, that we
have compressed the essence of two such establishments into one! Mr.
Harris might have carried out his argument, and shown also that to such
a pass of self-indulgence have we reached, that Washington itself is so
"situated as to enjoy the advantages of both town and country!"

I have reason to think Mr. Harris gained a great advantage over us by
this _tour de logique_. I had, however, a little better luck with
another paragraph of his letter. In pages 22 and 23 of this important
document, is the following; the state alluded to being Pennsylvania, and
the money mentioned the cost of the canals; which Mr. Harris includes in
the cost of government, charging, by the way, not only the interest on
the loans as an annual burden, but the loans themselves. I translate the
text, the letter having appeared in French:--"The greater part of this
sum, about twenty-two millions of dollars, has been expended during the
last twelve years--that is to say, while the population _was half or
two-thirds less than it is to-day_, offering an _average of not more
than_ 800,000 _souls_, (the present population of Pennsylvania being
1,350,161:) It follows, that each inhabitant has been _taxed_ about two
and a half dollars, annually, for internal improvements during this
period."

I think, under ordinary circumstances, and as against a logician who did
not appear supported by the confidence and favour of the government of
the United States of America, I might have got along with this
quotation, by showing, that 800,000 is neither the _half of_, nor
_two-thirds less_ than 1,350,161; that Pennsylvania, so far from
trebling, or even doubling her population in twelve years, had not
doubled it in twenty; that Pennsylvania, at the commencement of the
twelve years named, had actually a population more than twenty-five per
cent. greater than that which Mr. Harris gives as the average of a
period, during which he affirms that this population has, at least,
doubled; and by also showing that money borrowed and invested in public
works, which are expected to return an ample revenue, cannot be
presented as an annual charge against the citizen until he is called on
to pay it.

Having said so much about the part that Mr. Harris has had in this
controversy, I owe it to truth to add, that his course has, at least,
the merit of frankness, and that he is just so much the more to be
commended than that portion of our ex-agents and actual agents who have
taken the same side of the question, covertly.

I have dwelt on this subject at some length, because I think it is
connected, not only with the truth, but with the character, of America.
I have already told you the startling manner in which I was addressed by
one of the first men in England, on the subject of the tone of our
foreign agents; and since that time, occasions have multiplied, to learn
the mortifying extent to which this unfavourable opinion of their
sincerity has spread. If the United States has neither sufficient force
nor sufficient dignity to maintain its interests abroad, without making
these sacrifices of opinion and principle, we are in a worse condition
than I had believed; but you will require no logic from me, to
understand the effect that must be, and is produced, by this
contradiction between the language that is studiously used--used to
nauseous affectation--at home, and so much of the language that is used
by too many of the agents abroad.

I very well know that the government of the Union guarantees neither
the civil nor religious liberty of the citizen, except as against its
own action; that any state may create an establishment, or a close
hereditary aristocracy, to-morrow, if it please, the general provision
that its polity must be that of a republic, meaning no more than that
there should not be an hereditary monarchy; and that is quite within the
limits of constitutional possibilities, that the base of the national
representation should be either purely aristocratical, purely
democratical, or a mixture of both. But in leaving this option to the
states, the constitution has, in no manner, impaired the force of facts.
The states have made their election, and, apart from the anomaly of a
slave population, the fundamental feature of the general government is
democratic. Now, it is indisputably the privilege of the citizen to
express the opinions of government that he may happen to entertain. The
system supposes consultation and choice, and it would be mockery to
maintain that either can exist without entire freedom of thought and
speech. If any man prefer a monarchy to the present polity of the
nation, it is his indefeasible right to declare his opinion, and to be
exempt from persecution and reproach. He who meets such a declaration in
any other manner than by a free admission of the right, does not _feel_
the nature of the institutions under which he lives, for the
constitution, in its spirit, everywhere recognises the principle. But
One, greater than the constitution of America, in divine ordinances,
everywhere denies the right of a man to profess one thing and to mean
another. There is an implied pledge given by every public agent that he
will not misrepresent what he knows to be the popular sentiment at home,
and which popular sentiment, directly or indirectly, has clothed his
language with the authority it carries in foreign countries; and there
is every obligation of faith, fidelity, delicacy, and discretion, that
he should do no discredit to that which he knows to be a distinguishing
and vital principle with his constituents. As respects our agents in
Europe, I believe little is hazarded in saying, that too many have done
injury to the cause of liberty. I have heard this so often from various
quarters of the highest respectability,[29] it has been so frequently
affirmed in public here, and I have witnessed so much myself, that,
perhaps, the subject presents itself with more force to me, on the spot,
than it will to you, who can only look at it through the medium of
distance and testimony. I make no objection to a rigid neutrality in the
strife of opinions that is going on here, but I call for the self-denial
of concealing all predilections in favour of the government of one or of
the few; and should any minister of despotism, or political exclusion,
presume to cite an American agent as being of his way of thinking, all
motives of forbearance would seem to disappear, and, if really an
American in more than pretension, it appears to me the time would be
come to vindicate the truth with the frankness and energy of a freeman.

[Footnote 29: In 1833, the writer was in discourse with a person who had
filled one of the highest political situations in Europe, and he was
asked who represented the United States at the court of ----. On being
told, this person paused, and then resumed, "I am surprised that your
government should employ that man. He has always endeavoured to
ingratiate himself in my favour, by depreciating everything in his own
country." But why name a solitary instance? Deputies, members of
parliament, peers of France and of England, and public men of half the
nations of Europe, have substantially expressed to the writer the same
opinion, under one circumstance or another, in, perhaps, fifty different
instances.]

LETTER XIII.

Ferry across the Rhine.--Village of Rudesheim.--The _Hinter-hausen_
Wine,--Drunkenness.--Neapolitan curiosity respecting America.--The
Rhenish Wines enumerated.--Ingelheim.--Johannisberg.--Conventual
Wine.--Unseasonable praise.--House and Grounds of Johannisberg.--State
of Nassau.--Palace at Biberich.--The Gardens.--Wiesbaden.--Its public
Promenade.--Frankfort on the Maine.

Dear ----,

Within an hour after we left the Ritterstein, we were crossing the
bridge that leads into Bingen. Like true _flaneurs_, we had not decided
where to sleep, and, unlike _flaneurs_, we now began to look wistfully
towards the other side of the Rhine into the duchy of Nassau. There was
no bridge, but then there might be a ferry. Beckoning to the postmaster,
who came to the side of the carriage, I put the question. "Certainly, as
good a ferry as there is in Germany."--"And can we cross with your
horses?"--"Ja--ja--we do it often." The affair was arranged in a minute.
The leaders were led back to the stable, and with two horses we drove
down to the water-side. A skiff was in readiness, and spreading a
sprit-sail, we were in the middle of the stream before there was time
for thought. In ten minutes we landed in the celebrated Rheingau, and at
the foot of a hill that was teeming with the vines of Rudesheim.
"Charlemagne observing, from the window of his palace at Ingelheim,"
says an old legend, "that the snow disappeared from the bluff above
Rudesheim earlier than from any of the neighbouring hills, caused the
same to be planted with vines." What has become of Charlemagne and his
descendants, no one knows; but here are the progeny of his vines to the
present hour.

Francois followed us in a few minutes with the carriage and horses, and
we were soon comfortably housed in an inn, in the village of Rudesheim.
Here, then, we were in the heart of the richest wine region in Europe,
perhaps in the world. I looked curiously at mine host, to see what
effect this fact might have had on him, but he did nor appear to have
abused the advantage. He told me there had just been a sale, at which I
should have been most welcome; complained that much sour liquor was
palmed off on the incredulous as being the pure beverage; and said that
others might prefer Johannisberger, but for his part, good
_hinter-hausen_[30] was good enough for him. "Would I try a bottle?" The
proposition was not to be declined, and with my dinner I did try a
bottle of his oldest and best; and henceforth I declare myself a convert
to _Rudesheimer hinter-hausen._ One cannot drink a gallon of it with
impunity, as is the case with some of the French wines; but I feel
persuaded it is the very article for our _market_, to use the vernacular
of a true Manhattanese. It has body to bear the voyage, without being
the fiery compound that we drink under the names of Madeira and Sherry.

[Footnote 30: _Behind the houses_; so termed, from the vines standing on
lower land than the hill, behind the village.]

It is a singular fact, that in none but wine growing countries are the
true uses of the precious gift understood. In them, wine is not a
luxury, but a necessary; its use is not often abused, and its beneficial
effect can scarcely be appreciated without being witnessed. I do not
mean that there is no drunkenness in these countries, for there is
probably as much of the vice in France, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland,
as there is with us; but they who drink hard generally drink some of the
vile compounds which exist everywhere under the names of brandy, _agua
diente_, or something else. I was one day crossing the bay of Naples in
my hired craft, La Divina Providenza, rowed by a crew of twenty-one men
who cost me just the price of a carriage and horses for the same time,
when the _padrone_, who had then been boating about with us several
weeks, began to be inquisitive concerning America, and our manner of
living, more especially among the labouring classes. The answers
produced a strong sensation in the boat; and when they heard that
labourers received a ducat a-day for their toil, half of the honest
fellows declared themselves ready to emigrate. "_Et, il vino, signore;
quale e il prezzo del vino?_" demanded the _padrone_. I told him wine
was a luxury with us, and beyond the reach of the labourer, the general
sneer that followed immediately satisfied me that no emigrants would go
from La Divina Providenza.

It is scarcely necessary to tell one of your habits, that the wines we
call Hock are Rhenish, and that each properly bears the name of its own
vintage. This rule prevails everywhere, the names of Claret, Burgundy,
and Sherry, being unknown in France and Spain. It is true the French
have their Burgundy wines, and the Spaniards their Xeres wines; but _vin
de Bourgogne_ includes liquors of different colours and very different
qualities. The same is true of other places. What we call Claret the
French term Bordeaux wines; though _Clairet_ is an old French word,
still occasionally used, signifying a thin weak potation.

The Rheingau, or the part of the Nassau in which we now are, produces
the best wines of the Rhine. The principal vineyards are those of
Johannisberg, Hochheim, (whence the name of Hock,) Geissenheim,
Steinberg, and Rudesheim Johannisberg is now the property of Prince
Metternich; Geissenheim belongs to the Count of Ingelheim; and Hochheim
and Rudesheim are villages, the vines having different proprietors. I do
not know the situation of Steinberg. The best wine of Johannisberg has
the highest reputation; that of Geissenheim is also delicious, and is
fast growing in value; Hochheimer _Dom_, (or houses growing near the
village,) is also in great request; and of the _hinter-hausen_ of
Rudesheim you have already heard. Dr. Somerville once told me he had
analysed the pure Johannisberger, and that it contained less acidity
than any other wine he knew. The Steinberger is coming into favour; it
is the highest flavoured of all the German wines, its perfume or
_bouquet_, being really too strong.

Rudesheim was a Roman station, and it is probable that its wines date
from their government. There is still a considerable ruin, belonging, I
believe to the Count of Ingelheim, that is supposed to have been built
by the Romans, and which has been partially fitted up by its proprietor,
as a place of retreat, during the vintage. This is truly a classical
_villagiatura_. It was curious to examine these remains, which are
extensive, so soon after going over the feudal castle, and it must be
confessed that the sons of the South maintained their long established
superiority here, as elsewhere. Ingelheim, where Charlemagne had a
palace, and where some pretend he was born, is in plain view on the
other side of the river, but no traces of the palace are visible from
this spot. Such is the difference between the false and the true Roman.
There is also a ruin, a small high circular tower, that is connected
with our inn, forming even one of our own rooms, and which is very
ancient, probably as ancient as the great Frank.

We left Rudesheim after breakfast, driving quite near to the hill of
Geissenheim, and quitting the main road, for the purpose of visiting
Johannisberg, which lies back a mile from the great route. We wound our
way around the hill, which on three sides is shaped like a cone, and on
the other is an irregular ridge, and approached the house by the rear.
If you happen to have a bottle of the wine of this vineyard (real or
reputed, for in this respect the false Simon Pure is quite as likely to
be true as the real,) you will find a sufficiently good resemblance of
this building on its label.

I can give you no other reason why this wine was formerly so little
known, while that of Hochheim had so great a reputation, than the fact
that the mountain, house, and vines were all the property of a
religious community, previously to the French revolution, and that the
monks probably chose to drink their own liquors. In this particular they
were unlike the people of Brie; for walking one day with Lafayette, over
his estate at La Grange, I expressed surprise at seeing some labourers
making wine. "Oh, yes, my dear friend," returned the General, "we do
_make_ wine here, but then we take very good care not to _drink_ it."
The monks of Johannisberg most likely both made wine and drank it.

Johannisberg has changed owners several times. Shortly after our return
from the journey on the Rhine of last year, chance placed me, at Paris,
at table between the _charge d'affaires_ of Nassau and the Duc de Valmy.
The former observed that I had lately been in Nassau, and asked how I
liked the country. Under such circumstances one would wish to praise,
and as I could honestly do so, I expressed my admiration of what I had
seen. Among other things, I spoke of its rich vineyards, and, as a
matter of course, began to extol that of Johannisberg. The more I
praised, the graver the _diplomate_ looked, until thinking I had not
come up to his own feelings, I began to be warmer still in my
expressions. A touch under the table silenced me. The _charge_ soon
after gave me to understand that Johannisberg produced only sour grapes
for my neighbour, as Napoleon had given the estate to the first Duke,
and the allies had taken it away from his son. This was not the first
time I have had occasion to see the necessity of being guarded how one
speaks, lest he offend some political sensibility or other in this
quarter of the world.

The present owner of Johannisberg has fitted up the house, which is
quite spacious, very handsomely, though without gorgeousness, and there
is really a suite of large and commodious rooms. I saw few or no signs
of the monastery about the building. The vines grow all around the
conical part of the hill quite up to the windows. The best wine is made
from those near the house, on the south-eastern exposure. The view was
beautiful and very extensive, and all that the place wants to make it a
desirable residence is shade; an advantage, however, that cannot be
enjoyed on the same spot in common with good wine. The nakedness of the
ground impaired the effect of the dwelling. The owner is seldom here, as
is apparent by the furniture, which, though fresh and suitable, does not
extend to the thousand little elegancies that accumulate in a regular
abode.

The books say that this celebrated vineyard contains sixty-three acres,
and this is near the extent I should give it, from the eye. The produce
is stated at twenty-five hogsheads, of thirteen hundred bottles each.
Some of the wines of the best vintages sell as high as four and even
five dollars a bottle. I observed that the soil was mixed with stone
much decomposed, of a shelly appearance, and whitish colour. The land
would be pronounced unsuited to ordinary agriculture, I suspect, by a
majority of farmers.

I bought a bottle of wine from a servant who professed to have
permission to sell it. The price was two florins and a half, or a
dollar, and the quality greatly inferior to the bottle that, for the
same money, issued from the cellar of the host at Rudesheim. It is
probable the whole thing was a deception, though the inferior wines of
Johannisberg are no better than a vast deal of the other common wine of
the neighbourhood.

From Johannisberg we descended to the plain and took the road to
Biberich. This is a small town on the banks of the Rhine, and is the
residence of the Duke. Nassau figures in the tables of the Germanic
confederation as the fourteenth state, having three hundred and
thirty-eight thousand inhabitants, and furnishing three thousand troops
as its contingent. The population is probably a little greater. The
reigning family is of the ancient line of Nassau, from a junior branch
of which I believe the King of Holland is derived; the Duchess is a
princess of Wurtemberg, and a sister of the Grand-duchess Helena, of
whom I have already spoken so often. This little state is one of the
fabricated sovereignties of 1814, being composed of divers fragments,
besides the ancient possessions of the family. In short, it would seem
to be intended for the government and better management of a few capital
vineyards.

Nassau has been much agitated of late with liberal opinions, though the
government is already what it is the fashion to term representative, on
this side of the Atlantic. It is the old theory, that small states can
better support a popular form of government than a large state. This is
a theory in which I have no faith, and one, in my opinion, that has been
fabricated to suit the accidental situation of Europe. The danger of
popular governments are popular excesses, such as those truculent errors
that men fall into by a misconception of truth, misstatements, ignorance
of their interests, and the sort of village-like gossip which causes
every man to think he is a judge of character, when he is not even a
judge of facts. The abuses of absolutism are straightforward, dogged
tyranny, in which the rights of the mass are sacrificed to the interests
and policy of a prince and his favourites. Now, in a large country,
popular excesses in one part are checked and repressed by the power and
interests of the other parts. It is not an easy matter to make a popular
error, that leads to popular excesses, extend simultaneously over a very
extended surface; and they who are tranquil, control, and finally
influence, those who are excited. In a small state, absolutism is held
under the checks of neighbourhood and familiarity. Men disregard
accidents and crime in a capital, while they reason on them and act on
them in the country. Just so will the sovereign of a small state feel
and submit to the authority of an active public opinion. If I must have
liberty, let it come in large draughts like learning, and form an
atmosphere of its own; and if I must be the subject of despotic power,
Heaven send that my sovereign be a small prince. The latter is on the
supposition that I am an honest man, for he who would rise by servility
and a sacrifice of his principles, had better at once choose the
greatest monarch he can find for a master. Small states are usually an
evil in themselves, but I think they are least so when the authority is
absolute. The people of Nassau had better be moderate in their progress,
while they of France should press on to their purpose; and yet the
people of Nassau will probably be the most urgent, simply because the
power with which they have to contend is so feeble, for men rarely take
the "just medium," though they are always talking about it.

We entered the palace at Biberich, which, without being larger than
usual, is an edifice well worth viewing. We could not but compare this
abode with the President's house, and certainly, so far as taste and
elegance are concerned, the comparison is entirely to the disadvantage
of us Americans. It is easy to write unmeaning anathemas against
prodigal expenditures, and extorting the hard earnings of the poor, on
such occasions, but I do not know that the castle of Biberich was
erected by any means so foul. The general denunciation of everything
that does not happen to enter into our own system, has no more connexion
with true republicanism than cant has to do with religion. Abuses of
this nature have existed beyond dispute, and the public money, even
among ourselves, is not always honestly or prudently expended; but these
are the errors inseparable from human nature, and it is silly to quarrel
with all the blandishments of life until we can find faultless
substitutes. The simple fact that a nation like our own has suffered an
entire generation to go by with its chief magistrate living in a house
surrounded by grounds almost as naked as a cornfield, while it proves
nothing in favour of its economy, goes to show either that we want the
taste and habits necessary to appreciate the privation, (as is probably
the case), or the generosity to do a liberal act, since it is notorious
that we possess the means.

The gardens of Biberich are extensive and beautiful. We are proofs
ourselves that they are not reserved, in a niggardly spirit, for the
exclusive uses of a few, nor in truth are those of any other prince in
Europe where we have been. The interior of the house is much ornamented
by a very peculiar marble that is found in the duchy, and which produces
a good effect. A circular hall in the centre of the building, surmounted
by a dome, is rather striking, from having a colonnade of this material.

The family was here, and the preparations were making for dinner in one
of the rooms; the whole style of the domestic economy being that of a
nobleman of liberal means. The house was very quiet, and we saw but few
menials, though we met two of the children, accompanied by a governess,
in the grounds.

Biberich and the castle, or palace, stand immediately on the banks of
the river, which, between Bingen and Mayence, is straggling and well
covered with islands, having an entire breadth of near half a mile. The
effect, when seen from the neighbouring heights, is not unlike that of a
lake.

From Biberich we diverged directly into the interior of the Rheingau,
taking the road to Wiesbaden, which is a watering-place of some note,
and the seat of government of the duchy. We reached it early, for it is
no great matter to pass from the frontiers of one of these small states
into its centre, ordered dinner, and went out to see the lions.
Wiesbaden has little to recommend it by nature, its waters excepted. It
stands in a funnel rather than a valley, and it is said to be
excessively hot in summer, though a pleasant winter residence. I do not
remember a place that so triumphantly proves how much may be made out of
a little, as the public promenade of Wiesbaden. The springs are nearly,
or perhaps quite a mile from the town, the intervening land being a
gentle inclination. From the springs, a rivulet, scarce large enough to
turn a village mill, winds its way down to the town. The banks of this
little stream have been planted, artificial obstructions and cascades
formed, paths cut, bridges thrown across the rivulet, rocks piled, etc.,
and by these simple means, one walks a mile in a belt of wood a few rods
wide, and may fancy himself in a park of two thousand acres. Ten years
would suffice to bring such a promenade to perfection, and yet nothing
like it exists in all America! One can surely smoke cigars, drink
Congress water, discuss party politics, and fancy himself a statesman,
whittle, clean his nails in company and never out of it, swear things
are good enough for him without having known any other state of society,
squander dollars on discomfort, and refuse cents to elegance and
convenience, because he knows no better, and call the obliquity of taste
patriotism, without enjoying a walk in a wood by the side of a murmuring
rill! He may, beyond dispute, if such be his sovereign pleasure, do all
this, and so may an Esquimaux maintain that whale's blubber is
preferable to beefsteaks. I wonder that these dogged and philosophical
patriots do not go back to warlocks, scalps, and paint!

The town of Wiesbaden, like all German towns of any consequence I have
ever been in, Cologne excepted, is neat and clean. It is also
well-built, and evidently improving. You may have heard a good deal of
the boulevards and similar places of resort, in the vicinity of French
towns, but as a whole, they are tasteless and barren-looking spots. Even
the Champs Elysees, at Paris, have little beauty of themselves, for
landscape gardening is but just introduced into France; whereas, to me,
it would seem that the Germans make more use of it, in and near their
towns, than the English.

We left Wiesbaden next morning, after enjoying its baths, and went
slowly up to Frankfort on the Maine, a distance of about twenty miles.
Here we took up our old quarters at the White Swan, a house of a
second-rate reputation, but of first-rate civility, into which chance
first threw me; and, as usual, we got a capital dinner and good wine.
The innkeeper, in honour of Germany, caused a dish, that he said was
national and of great repute, to be served to us pilgrims. It was what
the French call a _jardiniere_, or a partridge garnished with cabbage,
carrots, turnips, etc.

I seized the opportunity to put myself _au courant_ of the affairs of
the world, by going to one of the reading-rooms, that are to be found
all over Germany, under the names of _Redoutes, Casinos_, or something
of that sort. Pipes appear to be proscribed in the _casino_ of
Frankfort, which is altogether a genteel and respectable establishment.
As usual, a stranger must be introduced.

LETTER XIV.

Boulevards of Frankfort.--Political Disturbances in the town.--_Le petit
Savoyard_.--Distant glimpse of Homberg.--Darmstadt.--The
Bergestrasse.--Heidelberg.--Noisy Market-place.--The Ruins and
Gardens.--An old Campaigner.--Valley of the
Neckar.--Heilbronn.--Ludwigsberg.--Its Palace.--The late Queen of
Wurtemberg.--The Birthplace of Schiller.--Comparative claims of Schiller
and Goethe.--Stuttgart.--Its Royal Residences.--The Princess of
Hechingen.--German Kingdoms.--The King and Queen of Wurtemberg.--Sir
Walter Scott.--Tubingen.--Ruin of a Castle of the middle
ages.--Hechingen.--Village of Bahlingen.--The Danube.--The Black
Forest.--View from a mountain on the frontier of Baden.--Enter
Switzerland.

Dear ----,

I have little new to tell you of Frankfort. It appeared to be the same
busy, clean, pretty, well-built town, on this visit, as it did at the
two others. We examined the boulevards a little more closely than
before, and were even more pleased with them than formerly. I have
already explained to you that the secret of these tasteful and beautiful
walks, so near, and sometimes in the very heart (as at Dresden) of the
large German towns, is in the circumstance of the old fortifications
being destroyed, and the space thus obtained having been wisely
appropriated to health and air. Leipsig, in particular, enjoys a
picturesque garden, where formerly there stood nothing but grim guns,
and frowning ramparts.

Frankfort has been the subject of recent political disturbances, and, I
heard this morning from a banker, that there existed serious discontents
all along the Rhine. As far as I can learn, the movement proceeds from a
desire in the trading, banking, and manufacturing classes, the _nouveaux
riches_, in short, to reduce the power and influence of the old feudal
and territorial nobility. The kingly authority, in our time, is not much
of itself, and the principal question has become, how many or how few,
or, in short, _who_ are to share in its immunities. In this simple fact
lies the germ of the revolution in France, and of reform in England.
Money is changing hands, and power must go with it. This is, has been,
and ever will be the case, except in those instances in which the great
political trust is thrown confidingly into the hands of all; and even
then, in half the practical results, money will cheat them out of the
advantages. Where the pressure is so great as to produce a recoil, it is
the poor against the rich; and where the poor have rights to stand on,
the rich are hard at work to get the better of the poor. Such is the
curse of Adam, and man himself must be changed before the disease can be
cured. All we can do, under the best constructed system, is to mitigate
the evil.

We left Frankfort at eleven, declining the services of a celebrated
_voiturier_, called _le petit Savoyard_, whom Francois introduced, with
a warm recommendation of fidelity and zeal. These men are extensively
known, and carry their _soubriquets_, as ships do their names. The
little Savoyard had just discharged a cargo of _miladies_, bound to
England, after having had them on his charter-party eighteen months, and
was now on the look-out for a return freight. As his whole equipments
were four horses, the harness, and a long whip, he was very desirous of
the honour of dragging my carriage a hundred leagues or so, towards any
part of the earth whither it might suit my pleasure to proceed. But it
is to be presumed that _miladies_ were of full weight, for even
Francois, who comes of a family of _voituriers_, and has a
fellow-feeling for the craft, is obliged to admit that the cattle of _le
petit_ appear to have been overworked. This negotiation occupied an
hour, and it ended by sending the passport to the post.

We were soon beyond the tower that marks the limits of the territory of
Frankfort, on the road to Darmstadt. While mounting an ascent, we had a
distant glimpse of the town of Homberg, the capital and almost the whole
territory of the principality of Hesse Homberg; a state whose last
sovereign had the honour of possessing an English princess for a wife.
Truly there must be something in blood, after all; for this potentate
has but twenty-three thousand subjects to recommend him!

Darmstadt is one of those towns which are laid out on so large a scale
as to appear mean. This is a common fault, both in Germany and America;
for the effect of throwing open wide avenues, that one can walk through
in five minutes, is to bring the intention into ludicrous contrast with
the result. Mannheim is another of these abortions. The disadvantage,
however, ends with the appearance, for Darmstadt is spacious, airy, and
neat; it is also well-built.

The ancient Landgraves of Hesse Darmstadt have become Grand Dukes, with
a material accession of territory, the present sovereign ruling over
some 700,000 subjects. The old castle is still standing in the heart of
the place, if a town which is all artery can be said to have any heart,
and we walked into its gloomy old courts, with the intention of
examining it; but the keeper of the keys was not to be found. There is a
modern palace of very good architecture near it, and, as usual,
extensive gardens, laid out, so far as we could perceive from the
outside, in the English taste.

A short distance from Darmstadt, the Bergestrasse (mountain road)
commences. It is a perfect level, but got its name from skirting the
foot of the mountain, at an elevation to overlook the vast plain of the
Palatinate; for we were now on the verge of this ancient territory,
which has been merged in the Grand Duchy of Baden by the events of the
last half century. I may as well add, that Baden is a respectable state,
having nearly 1,300,000 subjects.

The Bergestrasse has many ruins on the heights that overlook it, though
the river is never within a league or two of the road. Here we found
postilions worthy of their fine track, and, to say the truth, of great
skill. In Germany you get but one postilion with four horses, and, as
the leaders are always at a great distance from those on the pole, it is
an exploit of some delicacy to drive eight miles an hour, riding the
near wheel-horse, and governing the team very much by the use of the
whip. The cattle are taught to travel without blinkers, and, like men to
whom political power is trusted, they are the less dangerous for it. It
is your well-trained animal, that is checked up and blinded, who runs
away with the carriage of state, as well as the travelling carriage, and
breaks the neck of him who rides.

It was quite dark when we crossed the bridge of the Neckar, and plunged
into the crowded streets of Heidelberg. Notwithstanding the obscurity,
we got a glimpse of the proud old ruin overhanging the place, looking
grand and sombre in the gloom of night.

The view from the windows next morning was one of life in the extreme.
The principal market-place was directly before the inn, and it appeared
as if half the peasants of the grand duchy had assembled there to
display their fruits and vegetables. A market is always a garrulous and
noisy place; but when the advantage of speaking German is added to it,
the perfection of confusion is obtained. In all _good_ society, both men
and women speak in subdued voices, and there is no need to allude to
them; but when one descends a little below the _elite_, strength of
lungs is rather a German failing.[31]

We went to the ruins while the fogs were still floating around the
hill-tops. I was less pleased with this visit than with that of last
year, for the surprise was gone, and there was leisure to be critical.
On the whole, these ruins are vast rather than fine, though the parts of
the edifice that were built in the Elizabethan taste have the charm of
quaintness. There is also one picturesque tower; but the finest thing
certainly is the view from the garden-terrace above. An American, who
remembers the genial soil and climate of his country, must mourn over
the want of taste that has left, and still leaves, a great nation
(numerically great, at least) ignorant of the enjoyment of those
delicious retreats! As Nelson once said, "want of frigates" would be
found written on his heart were he to die, I think "want of gardens"
would be found written on mine. Our cicerone, on this occasion, was a
man who had served in America, during the last war, as one of the corps
of De Watteville. He was born in Baden, and says that a large portion of
the corps were Germans. He was in most of the battles of the Niagara,
and shook his head gravely when I hinted at the attack on Fort Erie.
According to his account, the corps suffered exceedingly in the campaign
of 1814, losing the greater portion of its men. I asked him how he came
to fight us, who had never done him any harm; and he answered that
Napoleon had made all Europe soldiers or robbers, and that he had not
stopped to examine the question of right.

[Footnote 31: Until the revolution of 1830, the writer never met but one
noisy woman in Paris. Since that period, however, one hears a little
more of the _tintamarre_ of the _comptoir_.]

We drove up the valley of the Neckar, after a late breakfast, by an
excellent road, and through a beautiful country, for the first post or
two. We then diverged from the stream, ascended into a higher portion of
undulating country, that gradually became less and less interesting,
until, in the end, we all pronounced it the tamest and least inviting
region we had yet seen in Europe. I do not say that the country was
particularly sterile, but it was common-place, and offered fewer objects
of interest than any other we had yet visited. Until now, our
destination was not settled, though I had almost decided to go to
Nuremberg, and thence, by Ratisbonne and the Danube, to Vienna; but we
all came to the opinion that the appearance of things towards the east
was too dreary for endurance. We had already journeyed through Bavaria,
from its southern to its northern end, and we wished to vary the scene.
A member of its royal family had once told me that Wurtemberg offered
but little for the traveller, at the same time saying a good word for
its capital. When one gets information from so high authority it is not
to be questioned, and towards Stuttgart it was determined to turn our
faces. At Heilbronn, therefore, we changed direction from east to south.
This Heilbronn was a quaint old German town, and it had a few of its
houses painted on the exterior, like those already described to you in
Switzerland. Weinsberg, so celebrated for its wives, who saved their
husbands at a capitulation, by carrying them out of the place on their
backs, is near this town. As there are no walled towns in America, and
the example could do no good, we did not make a pilgrimage to the spot.
That night we slept at a little town called Bessingheim, with the
Neckar, which we had again met at Heilbronn, murmuring beneath our
windows.

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