Part 5 out of 7
over this bleak region, that any thing so perfectly lovely as this
little purple witch, for example, was to be found there? It was quite
a significant fact. There is no condition of life, probably, so dreary
that a lowly and patient seeker cannot find its flowers.
[Illustration: _of a clump of a small flowering plant attached to what
appears to be its rhizome._]
I began to think that I might be contented even there. But while I was
looking I was so sickened by headache, and disagreeable feelings
arising from the air, that I often had to lie down on the sunny side
of the bank. W., I found, was similarly troubled; he said he really
thought in the morning he was going to have a fever. We went back to
the house. There were services in the chapel; I could hear the organ
pealing, and the singers responding.
Seven great dogs were sunning themselves on the porch, and as I knew
it was a subject particularly interesting to you, I made minute
inquiries respecting them. Like many other things, they have been much
overstated, I think, by travellers. They are of a tawny-yellow color,
short haired, broad chested, and strong limbed. As to size, I have
seen much larger Newfoundland dogs in Boston. I made one of them open
his mouth, and can assure you it was black as night; a fact which
would seem to imply Newfoundland blood. In fact the breed originally
from Spain is supposed to be a cross between the Pyrenean and the
Newfoundland. The biggest of them was called Pluto. Here is his
likeness, which W. sketched.
[Illustration: _of a large, light-colored dog with medium-short fur at
rest and wearing a broad patterned collar._]
For my part, I was a little uneasy among them, as they went walloping
and frisking around me, flouncing and rolling over each other on the
stone floor, and making, every now and then, the most hideous noises
that it ever came into a dog's head to conceive.
As I saw them biting each other in their clumsy frolics, I began to be
afraid lest they should take it into their heads to treat me like one
of the family, and so stood ready to run.
The man who showed them wished to know if I should like to see some
puppies; to which, in the ardor of natural history, I assented: so he
opened the door of a little stone closet, and sure enough there lay
madam in state, with four little blind, snubbed-nosed pledges. As the
man picked up one of these, and held it up before me in all the
helplessness of infancy, looking for all the world like a roly-poly
pudding with a short tail to it, I could not help querying in my mind,
are you going to be a St. Bernard dog?
One of the large dogs, seeing the door open, thought now was a good
time to examine the premises, and so walked briskly into the kennel,
but was received by the amiable mother with such a sniff of the nose
as sent him howling back into the passage, apparently a much wiser and
better dog than he had been before. Their principal use is to find
paths in the deep snow when the fathers go out to look for travellers,
as they always do in stormy weather. They are not longlived; neither
man nor animal can stand the severe temperature and the thin air for a
long time. Many of the dogs die from diseases of the lungs and
rheumatism, besides those killed by accidents, such as the falling of
avalanches, &c. A little while ago so many died that they were fearful
of losing the breed altogether, and were obliged to recruit by sending
down into the valleys for some they had given away. One of the monks
told us that, when they went out after the dogs in the winter storms,
all they could see of them was their tails moving along through the
snow. The monks themselves can stand the climate but a short time, and
then they are obliged to go down and live in the valleys below, while
others take their places.
They told us that there were over a hundred people in the
_hospice_ when we were there. They were mostly poor peasants and
some beggars. One poor man came up to me, and uncovered his neck,
which was a most disgusting sight, swollen with goitre. I shut my
eyes, and turned another way, like a bad Christian, while our
Augustine friend walked up to him, spoke in a soothing tone, and
called him "my son." He seemed very loving and gentle to all the poor,
dirty people by whom we were surrounded.
I went into the chapel to look at the pictures. There was St. Bernard
standing in the midst of a desolate, snowy waste, with a little child
on one arm and a great dog beside him.
This St. Bernard, it seems, was a man of noble family, who lived nine
hundred and sixty-two years after Christ. Almost up to that time a
temple to Jupiter continued standing on this spot. It is said that the
founding of this institution finally rooted out the idolatrous
On Monday we returned to Martigny, and obtained a _voiture_ for
Villeneuve. Drove through the beautiful Rhone valley, past the
celebrated fall of the Pissevache, and about five o'clock reached the
Hotel Byron, on the shore of the lake.
Here I am, sitting at my window, overlooking Lake Leman. Castle
Chillon, with its old conical towers, is silently pictured in the
still waters. It has been a day of a thousand. We took a boat, with
two oarsmen, and passed leisurely along the shores, under the cool,
drooping branches of trees, to the castle, which is scarce a stone's
throw from the hotel. We rowed along, close under the walls, to the
ancient moat and drawbridge. There I picked a bunch of blue bells,
"les clochettes," which were hanging their aerial pendants from every
crevice--some blue, some white.
[Illustration: _of blue bell flowers with sharp-bladed leaves._]
I know not why the old buildings and walls in Europe have this
vivacious habit of shooting out little flowery ejaculations and
soliloquies at every turn. One sees it along through France and
Switzerland, every where; but never, that I remember, in America.
On the side of the castle wall, in a large white heart, is painted the
inscription, _Liberté et Patrie_!
We rowed along, almost touching the castle rock, where the wall
ascends perpendicularly, and the water is said to be a thousand feet
deep. We passed the loopholes that illuminate the dungeon vaults, and
an old arch, now walled up, where prisoners, after having been
strangled, were thrown into the lake.
Last evening we walked over the castle. An interesting Swiss woman,
who has taught herself English for the benefit of her visitors, was
our _cicerone_. She seemed to have all the old Swiss vivacity of
attachment for "_liberté et patrie_."
[Illustration: _of a interior space of hewn stone with high vaulted
She took us first into the dungeon, with the seven pillars, described
by Byron. There was the pillar to which, for protecting the liberty of
Geneva, BONNEVARD was chained. There the Duke of Savoy kept him for
six years, confined by a chain four feet long. He could take only
three steps, and the stone floor is deeply worn by the prints of those
weary steps. Six years is so easily said; but to _live_ them,
alone, helpless, a man burning with all the fires of manhood, chained
to that pillar of stone, and those three unvarying steps! Two thousand
one hundred and ninety days rose and set the sun, while seedtime and
harvest, winter and summer, and the whole living world went on over
his grave. For him no sun, no moon, no star, no business, no
friendship, no plans--nothing! The great millstone of life emptily
grinding itself away!
What a power of vitality was there in Bonnevard, that he did not sink
in lethargy, and forget himself to stone! But he did not; it is said
that when the victorious Swiss army broke in to liberate him, they
"Bonnevard, you are free!"
"Geneva is free also!"
You ought to have heard the enthusiasm with which our guide told this
Near by are the relics of the cell of a companion of Bonnevard, who
made an ineffectual attempt to liberate him. On the wall are still
seen sketches of saints and inscriptions by his hand. This man one day
overcame his jailer, locked him in his cell, ran into the hall above,
and threw himself from a window into the lake, struck a rock, and was
killed instantly. One of the pillars in this vault is covered with
names. I think it is Bonnevard's pillar. There are the names of Byron,
Hunt, Schiller, and many other celebrities.
After we left the dungeons we went up into the judgment hall, where
prisoners were tried, and then into the torture chamber. Here are the
pulleys by which limbs were broken; the beam, all scorched with the
irons by which feet were burned; the oven where the irons were heated;
and there was the stone where they were sometimes laid to be
strangled, after the torture. On that stone, our guide told us, two
thousand Jews, men, women, and children, had been put to death. There
was also, high up, a strong beam across, where criminals were hung;
and a door, now walled up, by which they were thrown into the lake. I
shivered. "'Twas cruel," she said; "'twas almost as cruel as your
slavery in America."
Then she took us into a tower where was the _oubliette_. Here the
unfortunate prisoner was made to kneel before an image of the Virgin,
while the treacherous floor, falling beneath him, precipitated him
into a well forty feet deep, where he was left to die of broken limbs
and starvation. Below this well was still another pit, filled with
knives, into which, when they were disposed to a merciful hastening of
the torture, they let him fall. The woman has been herself to the
bottom of the first dungeon, and found there bones of victims. The
second pit is now walled up.
"All this," she said, "was done for the glory of God in the good old
The glory of God! What has not been done in that name! Yet he keeps
silence; patient he watches; the age-long fever of this world, the
delirious night, shall have a morning. Ah, there is an unsounded depth
in that word which says, "He is long-suffering." This it must be at
which angels veil their faces.
On leaving the castle we offered the woman the customary gratuity.
"No;" she would "have the pleasure of showing it to me as a friend."
And she ran into a charming little garden, full of flowers, and
brought me a bouquet of lilies and roses, which I have had in my room
To-night, after sunset, we rowed to Byron's "little isle," the only
one in the lake. O, the unutterable beauty of these mountains--great,
purple waves, as if they had been dashed up by a mighty tempest,
crested with snow-like foam! this purple sky, and crescent moon, and
the lake gleaming and shimmering, and twinkling stars, while far off
up the sides of a snow-topped mountain a light shines like a star--
some mountaineer's candle, I suppose.
In the dark stillness we rowed again over to Chillon, and paused under
its walls. The frogs were croaking in the moat, and we lay rocking on
the wave, and watching the dusky outlines of the towers and turrets.
Then the spirit of the scene seemed to wrap me round like a cloak.
Back to Geneva again. This lovely place will ever leave its image on
my heart. Mountains embrace it. Strength and beauty are its
habitation. The Salève is a peculiar looking mountain, striped with
different strata of rock, which have a singular effect in the hazy
distance; so is the Mole, with its dark marked outline, looking
blacker in clear weather, from being set against the snow mountains
There is one peculiarity about the outline of Mont Blanc, as seen from
Geneva, which is quite striking. There is in certain positions the
profile of a gigantic head visible, lying with face upturned to the
sky. Mrs. F. was the first to point it out to me, calling it a head of
Napoleon. Like many of these fanciful profiles, I was some time in
learning to see it; and after that it became to me so plain that I
wondered I had not seen it before. I called it not Napoleon, however,
but as it gained on my imagination, lying there so motionless, cold,
and still, I thought of Prometheus on Mount Caucasus; it seemed as if,
his sorrows ended, he had sunk at last to a dreamless sleep on that
snowy summit. This sketch may, perhaps, give you some faint idea of
how such an outline might be formed in one's imagination.
[Illustration: _of Mont Blanc in the distance._]
We walked out the other evening, with M. Fazy, to a beautiful place,
where Servetus was burned. Soft, new-mown meadow grass carpets it, and
a solemn amphitheatre of mountains, glowing in the evening sky, looked
down--Mont Blanc, the blue-black Mole, the Saleve! Never was deed done
in a more august presence chamber! Ere this these two may have
conferred together of the tragedy, with far other thoughts than then.
The world is always unjust to its progressive men. If one fragment of
past absurdity cleaves to them, they celebrate the absurdity as a
personal peculiarity. Hence we hear so much of Luther's controversial
harshness, of Calvin's burning Servetus, and of the witch persecutions
of New England.
Luther was the poet of the reformation, and Calvin its philosopher.
Luther fused the mass, Calvin crystallized. He who fuses makes the
most sensation in his day; he who crystallizes has a longer and wider
power. Calvinism, in its essential features, never will cease from the
earth, because the great fundamental facts of nature are Calvinistic,
and men with strong minds and wills always discover it. The
predestination of a sovereign will is written over all things. The old
Greek tragedians read it, and expressed it. So did Mahomet, Napoleon,
Cromwell. Why? They found it so by their own experience; they tried
the forces of nature enough to find their strength. The strong swimmer
who breasts the Rhone is certain of its current. But Ranke well said,
that in those days when the whole earth was in arms against these
reformers, they had no refuge except in exalting God's sovereignty
above all other causes. To him who strives in vain with the giant
forces of evil, what calm in the thought of an overpowering will, so
that will be crowned by goodness! However grim, to the distrusting,
looks this fortress of sovereignty in times of flowery ease, yet in
times when "the waters roar and are troubled, and the mountains shake
with the swelling thereof," it has been always the refuge of God's
people. All this I say, while I fully sympathize with the causes which
incline many fine and beautiful minds against the system.
The wife of De Wette has twice called upon me--a good, plain,
motherly, pious old lady as any in Andover. She wanted me to visit her
daughter, who, being recently deprived of her only little girl, has
since been wholly lost to life. The only thing in which she expressed
any interest was Uncle Tom's Cabin, and she was earnestly desiring to
see me. So I went. I found Mrs. De Wette in a charming saloon, looking
out upon the botanic gardens. A very beautiful picture of a young lady
hung on the wall. "That _was_ my poor Clara," said Mrs. De
Wette, "but she is so altered now!"
After a while Clara came in, and I was charmed at a glance--a most
lovely creature, in deep mourning, with beautiful manners; so much
interested for the poor slaves! so full of feeling, inquiring so
anxiously what she could do for them!
"Do ministers ever hold slaves?" she said.
"0, yes; many."
"0! But how can they be Christians?"
"They reason in this way," said I; "they say, 'These people are not
fit to take care of themselves; therefore we must hold them, and
educate them, till they are fit to be free.'"
"I wish," said she, looking very pretty and fierce, "that they might
all be sold themselves, and see how they would like it."
Her husband, who speaks only French, now asked what we were talking
about, and she repeated the conversation.
"I would shoot every one of them," said he, with a significant
"Now, see," said Mrs. De Wette, "Clara would sell them, and her
husband would _shoot_ them; for my part, I would rather
_convert_ them." We all laughed at this sally.
"Ah," said Clara, "the last thing my little darling looked at was the
pictures in Uncle Tom; when she came to the death of Eva, she said,
'Now I am weary, I will go to sleep;' and so closed her eyes, and
never opened them more."
Clara said she had met the Key in Turin and Milan. The Cabin is made a
school reading book in Sardinia, for those who wish to learn English,
with explanatory notes in Italian. The feeling here on the continent
for the slave is no less earnest than in England and Scotland. I have
received most beautiful and feeling letters from many Christians of
Switzerland, which I will show you.
I am grieved to say, that there are American propagandists of slavery
here, who seem to feel it incumbent on them to recognize this hideous
excrescence as a national peculiarity, and to consider any reflection
upon it, on the part of the liberty-loving Swiss, as an insult to the
American nation. The sophisms by which slaveholding has been justified
from the Bible have left their slimy track even here. Alas! is it thus
America fulfils her high destiny? Must she send missionaries abroad to
Walking the other evening with M. Fazy, who is, of course, French in
education, we talked of our English literature. He. had Hamlet in
French--just think of it. One never feels the national difference so
much as in thinking of Shakspeare in French! Madame de Stael says of
translation, that music written for one instrument cannot be played
upon another. I asked if he had read Milton.
"And how did you like him?"
"0," with a kind of shiver, "he is so cold!"
Now, I felt that the delicate probe of the French mind had dissected
out a shade of feeling of which I had often been conscious. There is a
coldness about all the luscious exuberance of Milton, like the wind
that blows from, the glaciers across these flowery valleys. How serene
his angels in their adamantine virtue! yet what sinning, suffering
soul could find sympathy in them? The utter want of sympathy for the
fallen angels, in the whole celestial circle, is shocking. Satan is
the only one who weeps.
"For millions of spirits for his fault amerced,
And from eternal splendors flung."
God does not care, nor his angels. Ah, quite otherwise is God revealed
in Him who wept over Jerusalem, and is touched with the feeling of our
I went with Mrs. Fazy the other night to call on Mrs. C.'s friend,
Pastor C. They were so affectionate, so full of beautiful kindness!
The French language sounds sweetly as a language of affection and
sympathy: with all its tart vivacity, it has a richness in the gentler
world of feeling. Then, in the evening, I was with a little circle of
friends at the house of the sister of Merle d'Aubigne, and they prayed
and sang together. It was beautiful. The hymn was one on the following
of Jesus, similar to that German one of old Godfrey Arnold, which is
your favorite. These Christians speak with deep sorrow of our slavery;
it grieves, it distresses them, for the American church has been to
them a beloved object. They have leaned towards it as a vine inclines
towards a vigorous elm. To them it looks incomprehensible that such a
thing could gain strength in a free Christian republic.
I feel really sorry that I have had to withdraw so much from proffered
kindness here, and to seem unwilling to meet feeling; but so it has
been. Yet, to me, apparently so cold, many of these kind Genevese have
shown most considerate attention. Fruit and flowers have been sent in
anonymously; and one gentleman offered to place his garden at my
disposal for walks, adding that, if I wished to be entirely private,
neither he nor his family would walk there. This, I thought, was too
One social custom here is new to me. The husband, by marriage, takes
the wife's name. Thus M. Fazy, our host, is known as M. Fazy Meyer--
Meyer being his wife's name--a thing which at first perplexed me. I
was often much puzzled about names, owing to this circumstance.
From the conversation I hear I should think that democracy was not
entirely absolute in Switzerland. I hear much about _patrician_
families, particularly at Berne, and these are said to be quite
exclusive; yet that the old Swiss fire still burns in Switzerland, I
see many indications.
The other day I visited Beautte's celebrated watch and jewelry store,
and saw all the process of making watches, from the time the case is
cut from a sheet of gold, on through the enamelling, engraving, and
finishing. Enamel is metallic paint, burned on in a furnace. Many
women are employed in painting the designs. The workmen looked
intelligent and thoughtful, like men who can both think and do. Some
glimpses showed their sympathy with republicanism--as one should see
fire through a closed door.
I have had full reason to observe that difference between Protestant
and Catholic cantons on which Horace Greeley commented while here.
They are as different as our slave and free states, and in the same
ways. Geneva seems like New England--the country around is well
cultivated, and speaks of thrift. But, still, I find no land, however
beautiful, that can compare with home--Andover Hill, with its arched
elms, its blue distance pointing with spires, its Merrimac crowned
with labor palaces, and, above all, an old stone house, brown and
queer, &c. Good by.
Thursday, July 14. Spent a social evening at Mrs. La V.'s, on the lake
shore. Mont Blanc invisible. We met M. Merle d'Aubigne, brother of our
hostess, and a few other friends. Returned home, and listened to a
serenade to H. from a glee club of fifty performers, of the working
men of Geneva. The songs were mostly in French, and the burden of one
of them seemed to be in words like these:--
Pour la liberte!"
Friday, July 15. Mrs. C. and her two daughters are here from Paris.
They intend to come to Madame Fazy till we leave.
Saturday, July 16. Our whole company resorted to the lake, and spent
the forenoon on its tranquil waters. If this life seem idle, we
remember that there must be valleys between mountains; and as, in
those vales, tired mountaineers love to rest, so we, by the silver
shore of summer Leman, while away the quiet hours, in this interval,
between great mountain epochs Chamouni and Oberland.
Monday, July 18. Weather suspicious. Stowed ourselves and our baggage
into our _voiture_, and bade adieu to our friends and to Geneva.
Ah, how regretfully! From the market-place we carried away a basket of
cherries and fruit, as a consolation. Dined at Lausanne, and visited
the cathedral and picture gallery, where was an exquisite _Eva._
Slept at Meudon.
Tuesday, July 19. Rode through Payerne to Freyburg. Stopped at the
Zahringer Hof--most romantic of inns. Our gentlemanly host ushered us
forth upon a terrace overhanging the deep gorge of the Saärine,
spanned, to the right and left of us, by two immense suspension
bridges, one of which seemed to spring from the hotel itself. Ruins of
ancient walls and watch towers lined the precipice.
After dinner we visited the cathedral to hear the celebrated organ.
The organist performed a piece descriptive of a storm. We resigned
ourselves to the illusion. Low, mysterious wailings, swelling, dying
away in the distance, seeming at first exceedingly remote, drew
gradually near. Fitful sighings and sobbings rose, as of gusts of
wind; then low, smothered roarings. Anon came flashes of lightning,
rattling hail, and driving rain, succeeded by bursts of storm, and
howlings of a hurricane--fierce, furious, frightful. I felt myself
lost in a snow storm in winter, on the pass of Great St. Bernard.
One note there was of strange, terrible clangor--bleak, dark, yet of a
lurid fire--that seemed to prolong itself through all the uproar, like
a note of doom, cutting its way to the heart as the call of the last
archangel. Yes, I felt myself alone, lost in a boundless desert,
beyond the abodes of man; and this was a call of terror-stern, savage,
gloomy--the call as of fixed fate and absolute despair.
Then the storm died away, in faint and far-off murmurs; and we broke,
as it were, from the trance, to find ourselves, _not_ lost, but
here among the living. We then drove quietly to Berne.
Wednesday, July 20. Examined, not the lions, but the bears of Berne.
It is indeed a city of bears, as its name imports. There are bears on
its gates, bears on its fountains, bears in its parks and gardens,
bears every where. But, though Berne rejoices in a fountain adorned
with an image of Saturn eating children, nevertheless, the old
city--quaint, quiet, and queer--looks as if, bear-like, it had been
hybernating good-naturedly for a century, and were just about to wake
Engaged a _voiture_, and drove to Thun. Dined, and drove by the
shore of the lake to Interlachen, arriving just after a brilliant
Thursday, July 21. S. and G. remained at the Belvedere. W., II., and I
took a guide and _voiture_ for Lauterbrunn. Here we visited
Byron's apocalyptic horse-tail waterfall, the Staubbach. This
waterfall is very sublime, all except the water and the fall. Whoever
has been "under the sheet" at Niagara will not be particularly
impressed here. This picture is sufficiently accurate, with the
exception of the cottage. People here do not build cottages under
[Illustration: _of the waterfall and cliff rising sharply to the left
of the roadway. A cabin appears to be located very near its base._]
Here we crossed the Wengern Alps to Grindelwald. The Jungfrau is right
over against us--her glaciers purer, tenderer, more dazzlingly
beautiful, if possible, than those of Mont Blanc. Slept at
To-day we have been in the Wengern Alps--the scenes described in
Manfred. Imagine us mounting, about ten o'clock, from the valley of
Lauterbrunn, on horseback--our party of three--with two guides. We had
first been to see the famous Staubbach, a beautiful, though not
sublime, object. Up we began to go among those green undulations which
form the lower part of the mountain.
[Illustration: _of narrow, high alpine meadows with grazing livestock._]
It is haying time; a bright day; all is cheerful; the birds sing; men,
women, and children are busy in the field. Up we go, zigzag; it grows
steeper and steeper. Now right below me is a field, where men are
literally working almost on a perpendicular wall, cutting hay; now we
are so high that the houses in the valley look like chips. Here we
stand in a place two thousand feet above the valley. There is no
shield or screen. The horse stands on the very edge; the guide stops,
lets go his bridle, and composedly commences an oration on the scene
below. "0, for mercy's sake, why do you stop here?" I say. "Pray go
on." He looks in my face, with innocent wonder, takes the bridle on
his arm, and goes on.
Now we have come to the little village of Wengern, whence the Wengern
Alps take their name. How beautiful! how like fairyland! Up here,
midway in air, is a green nook, with undulating dells, and shadowy,
breezy nests, where are the cottages of the haymakers. The Delectable
Mountains had no scene more lovely. Each house has its roof heavily
loaded with stones. "What is that for?" I ask. "The whirlwinds," says
my guide, with a significant turn of his hands. "This is the school
house," he adds, as we pass a building larger than the rest.
Now the path turns and slopes down a steep bank, covered with
haycocks, to a little nook below, likewise covered with new hay. If my
horse is going to throw me any where, I wish it may be here: it is not
so bad a thing to roll down into that hay. But now we mount higher;
the breezy dells, enamelled with flowers and grass, become fewer; the
great black pines take their place. Right before us, in the purest
white, as a bride adorned for her husband, rises the beautiful
Jungfrau, wearing on her forehead the Silver Horn, and the Snow Horn.
The Silver Horn is a peak, dazzlingly bright, of snow; and its crest
is now seen in relief against a sky of the deepest blue. See, also,
how those dark pines of the foreground contrast with it, like the
stern, mournful realities of life seen against the dazzling hopes of
There is something celestial in these mountains. You might think such
a vision as that to be a bright footstool of Heaven, from which the
next step would be into an unknown world. The pines here begin to show
that long white beard of moss which I admire so much in Maine. Now, we
go right up over their heads. There, the tall pines are under our
feet. A little more--and now above us rise the stern, naked rocks,
where only the chamois and the wild goat live. But still, fair as the
moon, clear as the sun, looks forth the Jungfrau.
We turn to look down. That Staubbach, which in the valley seemed to
fall from an immense precipice, higher than we could gaze, is now a
silver thread, far below our feet; and the valley of Lauterbrunn seems
as nothing. Only bleak, purplish crags, rising all around us, and
silent, silver mountains looking over them.
"That one directly before you is the Monk," says C., calling to me
from behind, and pointing to a great snow peak.
Our guide, with animation, introduced us by name to every one of these
snow-white genii--the Falhorn, the Schreckhorn, the Wetterhorn, the
great Eiger, and I cannot remember what besides. The guides seem to
consider them all as old friends.
Certainly nothing could be so singular, so peculiar as this ascension.
We have now passed the limit of all but grass and Alpine flowers,
which still, with their infinite variety, embroider the way; and now
the _auberge_ is gained. Good night, now, and farewell.
That is to say, there we stopped--on the summit, in fair view of the
Jungfrau, a wall of rock crowned with fields of eternal snow, whose
dazzling brightness almost put my eyes out. My head ached, too, with
the thin air of these mountains. I thought I should like to stay one
night just to hear avalanches fall; but I cannot breathe well here,
and there is a secret sense of horror about these sterile rocks and
eternal snows. So, after dinner, I gladly consent to go down to
Off we start--I walking--for, to tell the truth, I have no fondness
for riding down a path as steep in some places as a wall; I leave that
to C., who never fears any thing. So I walked all the way to
Grindelwald, nine miles of a very rough road. There was a lady with
her husband walking the same pass, who had come on foot the whole way
from Lauterbrunn, and did not seem in the least fatigued. My guide
exhausted all his eloquence to persuade me that it was better to ride;
at last I settled him by saying, "Why, here is a lady who has walked
the whole route." So he confined himself after that to helping me find
flowers, and carrying the handkerchief in which I stowed them. Alas!
what herbarium of hapless flowers, laid out stark, stiff, and
motionless, like beauty on its bier, and with horrible long names
written under them, can ever give an idea of the infinite variety and
beauty of the floral crown of these mountains!
The herbarium resembles the bright, living reality no more than the
_morgue_ at St. Bernard's is a specimen of mountain travellers.
Yet one thing an herbarium is good for: in looking at it you can
recall how they looked, and glowed, and waved in life, with all their
silver-crowned mountains around them.
After we arrived at Grindelwald, tired as I was, I made sketches of
nine varieties, which I intend to color as soon as we rest long
enough. So much I did for love of the dear little souls.
One noticeable feature is the predominance of _yellow_ flowers.
These, of various kinds, so abound as to make a distinct item of
coloring in a distant view. One of the most common is this--of a vivid
chrome yellow, sometimes brilliantly striped with orange.
[Illustration: _of a flowered bract._]
One thing more as to botanical names. What does possess botanists to
afflict the most fragile and delicate of earth's children with such
mountainous and unpronounceable names? Now there was a dear little
flower that I first met at St. Bernard--a little purple bell, with a
fringe; it is more particularly beautiful from its growing just on the
verge of avalanches, coming up and blossoming through the snow. I send
you one in this letter, which I dug out of a snow bank this morning.
And this fair creation--this hope upon a death bed--this image of love
unchilled and immortal--how I wanted to know it by name!
[Illustration: _of a tiny plant with a single flowering stem and two
simple circular leaves._]
Today, at the summit house of the mountain, I opened an herbarium, and
there were three inches of name as hopeless and unpronounceable as the
German of our guides, piled up on my little flower. I shut the
This morning we started early from Grindelwald--that is, by eight
o'clock. An unclouded, clear, breezy morning, the air full of the
sounds of cascades, and of the little bells of the herds. As we began
to wind upward into that delectable region which forms the first stage
of ascent, I said to C., "The more of beautiful scenery I see, the
more I appreciate the wonderful poetry of the Pilgrim's Progress." The
meadows by the River of Life, the Delectable Mountains, the land of
Beulah, how often have I thought of them! From this we went off upon
painting, and then upon music, the freshness of the mountain air
inspiring our way. At last, while we were riding in the very lap of a
rolling field full of grass and flowers, the sharp blue and white
crystals of the glacier rose at once before us.
"O, I want to get down," said I, "and go near them."
Down I did get, and taking what seemed to be the straightest course,
began running down the hill side towards them.
"No, no! Back, back!" shouted the guide, in unimaginable French and
German. _"Ici, ici!"_
I came back; and taking my hand, he led me along a path where
travellers generally go. I went closer, and sat down on a rock under
them, and looked up. The clear sun was shining through them; clear and
blue looked the rifts and arches, all dripping and beautiful. We went
down upon them by steps which a man had cut in the ice. There was one
rift of ice we looked into, which was about fifty feet high, going up
into a sharp arch. The inside of this arch was clear blue ice, of the
color of crystal of blue vitriol.
Here, immediately under, I took a rude sketch just to show you how a
glacier looks close at hand.
[Illustration: _of the broken and chiseled surface of a glacier._]
C. wanted, as usual, to do all sorts of improper things. He wanted to
stone down blocks of ice, and to go inside the cave, and to go down
into holes, and insisted on standing particularly long on a spot which
the guide told him was all undermined, in order that he might pelt a
cliff of ice that seemed inclined to fall, and hear it smash.
The poor guide was as distressed as a hen when her ducks take to the
water; he ran, and called, and shouted, in German, French, and
English, and it was not till C. had contrived to throw the head of the
little boy's hatchet down into a _crevasse_, that he gave up.
There were two francs to pay for this experiment; but never mind! Our
guide book says that a clergyman of Yevay, on this glacier, fell into
a _crevasse_ several hundred feet deep, and was killed; so I was
glad enough when C. came off safe.
He ought to have a bell on his neck, as the cows do here; and
_apropos_ to this, we leave the glacier, and ride up into a land
of pastures. Here we see a hundred cows grazing in the field--the
field all yellow with buttercups. They are a very small breed,
prettily formed, and each had on her neck a bell. How many notes there
are in these bells! quite a diapason--some very deep toned, and so on
up to the highest! how prettily they sound, all going together! The
bells are made of the best of metal, for the tone is of an admirable
0, do look off there, on that patch of snow under the Wetterhorn! It
is all covered with cows; they look no bigger than insects. "What
makes them go there?" said we to our guides.
"_To be cool_" was the answer.
Hark! what's that? a sudden sound like the rush of a cascade.
"Avalanche! avalanche!" exclaimed the guide. And now, pouring down the
sides of the Wetterhorn, came a milk-white cascade, looking just like
any other cascade, melting gracefully over the rocks, and spreading,
like a stream of milk, on the soiled snow below.
This is a summer avalanche--a mere _bijou_--a fancy article, got
up, or rather got down, to entertain travellers. The winter avalanches
are quite other things. Witness a little further in our track, where
our guide stops us, and points to a place where all the pines have
been broken short off by one of them. Along here some old ghostly
pines, dead ages ago, their white, ghastly skeletons bleached by a
hundred storms, stand, stretching out their long, bony arms, like
phantom giants. These skeleton pines are a striking image; I wonder I
have not seen them introduced into pictures.
There, now, a little ahead, is a small hut, which marks the summit of
the grand Scheidich. Our horses come up to it, and we dismount. Some
of the party go in to sleep--I go out to climb a neighboring peak. At
the foot of this peak lay a wreath of snow, soiled and dirty, as
half-melted snow always is; but lying amid the green grass and
luxuriant flowers, it had a strange air. It seemed a little spot of
death in the green lap of rejoicing life--like that death-spot which
often lies in the human heart--among all seeming flowers, cold and
cheerless, unwarmed by the sunbeam, and unmelted by the ray that
unfolds thousands of blooms around.
Now, I thought, I have read of Alpine flowers leaning their cheeks on
the snows. I wonder if any flowers grow near enough to that snow to
touch it. I mean to go and see. So I went; there, sure enough, my
little fringed purple bell, to which I have given the name of
"suspirium," was growing, not only close to the snow, but in it.
Thus God's grace shining steadily on the waste places of the human
heart, brings up heavenward sighings and aspirations which pierce
through the cold snows of affliction, and tell that there is yet life
I climbed up the grassy sides of the peak, flowers to the very top.
There I sat down and looked. This is Alpine solitude. All around me
were these deep, green dells, from which comes up the tinkle of bells,
like the dropping of rain every where It seems to me the air is more
elastic and musical here than below, and gives grace to the commonest
sound. Now I look back along the way we have been travelling. I look
at the strange old cloudy mountains, the Eiger, the Wetterhorn, the
Schreckhorn. A kind of hazy ether floats around them--an indescribable
aerial halo--which no painter ever represents. Who can paint the
air--that vivid blue in which these sharp peaks cut their glittering
images? Of all peaks, the Eiger is the most impressive to me.
[Illustration: _of the sharp pointed Eiger, with mountain goats on a
pinnacle in the foreground._]
It is a gigantic ploughshare of rock, set up against the sky, its
thin, keen, purple blade edged with glittering frost; for so sharp is
its point, that only a dazzling line marks the eternal snow on its
I walked out as far as I could on a narrow summit, and took a last
look. Glaciers! snows! mountains! sunny dells and flowers! all good
by. I am a pilgrim and a stranger.
Already, looking down to the shanty, I see the guide like a hen that
has lost a chicken, shaking her wings, and clucking, and making a
great ado. I could stay here all day. I would like to stay two or
three--to see how it would look at sunrise, at sunset--to lie down in
one of these sunny hollows, and look up into the sky--to shut my eyes
lazily, and open them again, and so let the whole impression _soak
in_, as Mrs. H. used to say.
But no; the sleepers have waked up, the guide has the horses ready,
and I must come down. So here I descend my hill Difficulty into the
valley of Humiliation. We stumble along, for the roads here are no
turnpikes, and we come to a place called the _Black Forest;_ not
_the_ Black Forest, but truly a black one. I always love pines,
to all generations. I welcome this solemn old brotherhood, which stand
gray-bearded, like monks, old, dark, solemn, sighing a certain
mournful sound--like a _benedicite_ through the leaves.
About noon we came to Rosenlaui. As we drew near the hotel the guide
struck off upon a path leading up the mountain, saying, by way of
explanation, _"The glacier!"_
Now, I confess that it was rather too near dinner time, and I was too
tired at once to appreciate this movement.
I regret to say, that two glaciers, however beautiful, on an empty
stomach, appear rather of doubtful utility. So I remonstrated; but
the guide, as all guides do, went dead ahead, as if I had not said a
word. C., however, rode composedly towards the hotel, saying that
dinner was a finer sight than a glacier; and I, though only of the
same mind, thought I would follow my guide, just to see.
W. went with me. After a little we had to leave our horses, and
scramble about a mile up the mountain. "C. was right, and we are
wrong," said my companion, sententiously. I was just dubious enough to
be silent. Pretty soon we came to a tremendous ravine, as if an
earthquake had rent a mountain asunder. A hundred feet down in this
black gorge, a stream was roaring in a succession of mad leaps, and a
bridge crossed it, where we stood to gaze down into its dark, awful
depths. Then on we went till we came to the glacier. What a mass of
clear, blue ice! so very blue, so clear! This awful chasm runs
directly under it, and the mountain torrent, formed by the melting of
the glacier, falls in a roaring cascade into it. You can go down into
a cavern in this rift. Above your head a roof of clear, blue ice;
below your feet this black chasm, with the white, flashing foam of the
cascade, as it leaps away into the darkness. On one side of the
glacier was a little sort of cell, or arched nook, up which an old man
had cut steps, and he helped me up into it. I stood in a little Gothic
shrine of blue, glittering ice, and looked out of an arched window at
the cascade and mountains. I thought of Coleridge's line--
"A pleasure bower with domes of ice."
[Illustration: _of a glacier's terminus, with animals and small
buildings in the foreground._]
On the whole, the glacier of Rosenlaui paid for looking--even at
dinner time--which is saying a good deal.
FRIDAY, July 22, Grindelwald to Meyringen. On we came, to the top of
the Great Schiedich, where H. and W. botanized, while I slept. Thence
we rode down the mountain till we reached Rosenlaui, where, I am free
to say, a dinner was to me a more interesting object than a glacier.
Therefore, while H. and W. went to the latter, I turned off to the
inn, amid their cries and reproaches. I waved my cap and made a bow. A
glacier!--go five rods farther to see a glacier! Catch me in any such
folly. The fact is, Alps are good, like confections, in moderation;
but to breakfast, dine, and sup on Alps surfeits my digestion.
Here, for example, I am writing these notes in the _salle-à-manger_ of
the inn, where other voyagers are eating and drinking, and there H. is
feeding on the green moonshine of an emerald ice cave. One would
almost think her incapable of fatigue. How she skips up and down high
places and steep places, to the manifest perplexity of honest guide
Kienholz, _père_, who tries to take care of her, but does not exactly
know how. She gets on a pyramid of _débris_, which the edge of the
glacier is ploughing and grinding up, sits down, and falls--not asleep
exactly--but into a trance. W. and I are ready to go on; we shout; our
voice is lost in the roar of the torrent. We send the guide. He goes
down, and stands doubtfully. He does not know exactly what to do.
She hears him, and starts to her feet, pointing with one hand to yonder
peak, and with the other to that knifelike edge, that seems cleaving
heaven with its keen and glistening cimeter of snow, reminding one of
Isaiah's sublime imagery, "For my sword is bathed in heaven." She
points at the grizzly rocks, with their jags and spear points. Evidently
she is beside herself, and thinks she can remember the names of those
monsters, born of earthquake and storm, which cannot be named nor
known but by sight, and then are known at once, perfectly and forever.
Mountains are Nature's testimonials of anguish. They are the sharp cry
of a groaning and travailing creation. Nature's stern agony writes
itself on these furrowed brows of gloomy stone. These reft and
splintered crags stand, the dreary images of patient sorrow, existing
verdureless and stern because exist they must. In them hearts that
have ceased to rejoice, and have learned to suffer, find kindred, and
here, an earth worn with countless cycles of sorrow, utters to the
stars voices of speechless despair.
And all this time no dinner! All this time H. is at the glacier! How
do I know but she has fallen into a _crevasse_? How do I know but
that a cliff, one of those ice castles, those leaning turrets, those
frosty spearmen, have toppled over upon her? I shudder at the
reflection. I will write no more.
I had just written thus far, when in came H. and W. in high feather.
O, I had lost the greatest sight in Switzerland! There was such a
chasm, a mountain cut in twain, with a bridge, and a man to throw a
stone down; and you could hear it go _boom_, and _he held his
hat!_ "Not a doubt of that," said I. Then there was a cavern in the
ice, and the ice was so green, and the water dripped from the roof,
and a great river rushed out. Such was the substance of their united
But, alas! it was not enough to lose the best glacier in Switzerland;
I must needs lose two cascades and a chamois. Just before coming to
Meyringen, I was composedly riding down a species of stone gridiron,
set up sidewise, called a road, when the guide overtook me, and
requested me to walk, as the road was bad. Stupid fellow! he said not
a word about cascades and chamois, and so I went down like a chamois
myself, taking the road that seemed best and nearest, and reached the
inn an hour before the rest. After waiting till I became alarmed, and
was just sending back a messenger to inquire, lo, in they came, and
began to tell me of cascades and chamois.
"What cascade? What chamois? I have not seen any!" And then what a
burst! "Not seen any! What, two cascades, one glacier, and a
four-year-old chamois, lost in one day! What will become of you? Is
this the way you make the tour of Switzerland?"
Saturday, July 23. Rode in a _voiture_ from Meyringen to Brienz,
on the opposite end of the lake from Interlachen. Embarked in a
rowboat of four immense oars tied by withs. Two men and one woman
pulled three, and W. and I took turns at the fourth. The boat being
high built, flat bottomed, with awning and flagstaff, rolled and
tipped so easily that soon H., with remorseful visage, abandoned her
attempt to write, and lay down. There is a fresh and savage beauty
about this lake, which can only be realized by rowing across.
Interlachen is underrated in the guide books. It has points of
unrivalled loveliness; the ruins of the old church of Rinconberg, for
example, commanding a fine view of both lakes, of the country between,
and the Alps around, while just at your feet is a little lake in a
basin, some two hundred feet above the other lakes. Then, too, from
your window in the Belvedere, you gaze upon the purity of the
Jungfrau. The church, too, where on Sabbath we attended Episcopal
service, is embowered in foliage, and seems like some New England
village meeting house.
Monday, July 25. Adieu to Interlachen! Ho for Lucerne and the Righi!
Dined at Thun in a thunder storm. Stopped over night at Langnau, an
out-of-the-way place. H. and G. painted Alpine flowers, while I played
violin. This violin must be of spotless pedigree, even as our Genevese
friend, Monsieur--, certified when he reluctantly sold it me. None
but a genuine AMATI, a hundred years old, can possess this mysterious
quality, that can breathe almost inaudible, like a mornbeam in the
parlor, or predominate imperious and intense over orchestra and choir,
illuminating with its fire, like chain lightning, the arches of a vast
cathedral. Enchanted thing--what nameless spirit impregnates with
magnetic ether the fine fibres of thy mechanism!
Tuesday, 26. Rode from Langnan to Lucerne just in time to take the
boat for Weggis. From the door of the Hotel de la Concorde, at Weggis,
the guide _chef_ fitted us out with two _chaises à porteur_,
six _carriers_, two mules with grooms, making a party of fourteen
After ascending a while the scenery became singularly wild and
beautiful. Vast walls and cliffs of conglomerate rose above us, up
which our path wound in zigzags. Below us were pines, vales, fields,
and hills, themselves large enough for mountains. There, at our feet,
with its beautiful islands, bays, capes, and headlands, gleams the
broad lake of the four cantons, consecrated by the muse of Schiller
and the heroism of Tell. New plains are unrolling, new mountain tops
sinking below our range of vision. We plunged into a sea of mist. It
rolled and eddied, boiling beneath us. Through its mysterious pall we
saw now a skeleton pine stretch out its dark pointing hand--now a
rock, shapeless and uncouth, far below, like a behemoth petrified in
mid ocean. Then an eddy would sweep a space for the sun to pour a
flood of gold on this field far down at our feet, on that village, on
this mountain side with its rosy vapor-wreaths, upon yon distant lake,
making it a crater of blinding brightness. On we went wrapped in
mantles, mist, and mystery, trembling with chilliness and enthusiasm.
We reached the summit just as the sunset-gazing crowd were dispersing.
And this is Righi Kulm!
Wednesday, 27. At half past three in the morning we were aroused by
the Alpine horn. We sprang up, groping and dressing in the dark, and
went out in the frosty air. Ascending the ridge we looked off upon a
sleeping world. Mists lay beneath like waves, clouds, like a sea. On
one side the Oberland Alps stretched along the horizon their pale,
blue-white peaks. Other mountains, indistinct in color and outline,
chained round the whole horizon. Yes, "the sleeping rocks did dream"
all over the wide expanse, as they slumbered on their cloudy pillow,
and their dream was of the coming dawn. Twelve lakes, leaden pale or
steel blue, dreamed also under canopies of cloud, and the solid land
dreamed, and all her wilds and forests. And in the silence of the
dream already the tinge of clairvoyance lit the gray east; a dim,
diffuse aurora, while yet the long, low clouds hung lustreless above;
nor could the eye prophesy where should open the door in heaven. At
length, a flush, as of shame or joy, presaged the pathway. Tongues of
many-colored light vibrated beneath the strata of clouds, now dappled,
mottled, streaked with fire; those on either hand of a light, flaky,
salmon tint, those in the path and portal of the dawn of a gorgeous
blending and blazoning of golden glories. The mists all abroad stirred
uneasily. Tufts of feathery down came up out of the mass. Soft,
floating films lifted from the surface and streamed away dissolving.
Strange hues came out on lake and shore, far, far below. The air, the
very air became conscious of a coming change, and the pale tops of
distant Alps sparkled like diamonds. It was night in the valleys. And
we heard the cocks crowing below, and the uneasy stir of a world
preparing to awake. So Isaiah foresaw a slumbering world, while
Messiah's coming glanced upon the heights of Zion, and cried,--
"Behold, darkness shall cover the earth
And gross darkness the people;
But the Lord shall rise upon THEE,
And his glory shall be seen upon thee!"
Hushed the immense crowd of spectators waited; then he came. On the
gray edge of the horizon, under the emblazoned strata, came a sudden
coal of fire, as shot from the altar of Heaven. It dazzled, it
wavered, it consumed. Its lambent lines lengthened sidelong. At
length, not a coal, but a shield, as the shield of Jehovah, stood
above the east, and it was day. The vapor sea heaved, and broke, and
rolled up the mountain sides. The lakes flashed back the conquering
splendor. The wide panorama, asleep no more, was astir with teeming
Tuesday, July 28. One of the greatest curiosities in Lucerne is the
monument to those brave Swiss guards who were slain for their unshaken
fidelity to the unhappy Louis XVI. In a sequestered spot the rocky
hill side is cut away, and in the living strata is sculptured the
colossal figure of a dying lion. A spear is broken off in his side,
but in his last struggle he still defends a shield, marked with the
_fleur de lis_ of France. Below are inscribed in red letters, as
if charactered in blood, the names of the brave officers of that
devoted band. From many a crevice in the rock drip down trickling
springs, forming a pellucid basin below, whose dark, glossy surface,
encircled with trees and shrubs, reflects the image. The design of the
monument is by Thorwaldsen, and the whole effect of it has an
[Illustration: _of the memorial. Above the grotto reads:_
HELVETIORUM FIDEI AC VIRTUTI
_On the monument's plinth can be read the following:_
DIE X AUGUSTI II ET III SEPTEMBRIS MDCCXCII
HAEC SUNT NOMINA EORUM OUTNE SACRA
DUES XXVI DUCES
Rode in our private _voiture_ to Basle, and rested our weary
limbs at the Three Kings.
Friday, 29. Visited the celebrities of Basle, and took the cars for
Strasbourg, where we arrived in time to visit the minster.
Saturday, 30. Left Strasbourg by the Rhine morning boat; a long, low,
slender affair. The scenery exceedingly tame, like portions of the
Lower Mississippi. Disembarked at Manheim, and drove over to
Heidelberg, through a continual garden. French is useless here. All
our negotiations are in German, with W., S., and G. as a committee on
We arrived here this evening. I left the cars with my head full of the
cathedral. The first thing I saw, on lifting my eyes, was a brown
spire. Said I,--
"C., do you think that can be the cathedral spire?"
"Yes, that must be it."
"I am afraid it is," said I, doubtfully, as I felt, within, that
dissolving of airy visions which I have generally found the first
sensation on visiting any celebrated object.
The thing looked entirely too low and too broad for what I had heard
of its marvellous grace and lightness; nay, some mischievous elf even
whispered the word "dumpy" hi my ear. But being informed, in time,
that this was the spire, I resisted the temptation, and determined to
make the best of it. I have since been comforted by reading in
Goethe's autobiography a criticism on its proportions quite similar to
my own. We climbed the spire; we gained the roof. What a magnificent
terrace! A world itself; a panoramic view sweeping the horizon. Here I
saw the names of Goethe and Herder. Here they have walked many a time,
I suppose. But the inside!--a forest-like firmament, glorious in
holiness; windows many hued as the Hebrew psalms; a gloom solemn and
pathetic as man's mysterious existence; a richness gorgeous and
manifold as his wonderful nature. In this Gothic architecture we see
earnest northern races, whose nature was a composite of influences
from pine forest, mountain, and storm, expressing, in vast proportions
and gigantic masonry, those ideas of infinite duration and existence
which Christianity opened before them. A barbaric wildness mingles
itself with fanciful, ornate abundance; it is the blossoming of
The ethereal eloquence of the Greeks could not express the rugged
earnestness of souls wrestling with those fearful mysteries of fate,
of suffering, of eternal existence, declared equally by nature and
revelation. This architecture is Hebraistic in spirit, not Greek; it
well accords with the deep ground-swell of Hebrew prophets.
"Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations.
"Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed
the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou
"A thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past.
"And as a watch in the night."
The objection to Gothic architecture, as compared with Greek, is, that
it is less finished and elegant. So it is. It symbolizes that state of
mind too earnest for mere polish, too deeply excited for laws of exact
proportions and architectural refinement. It is Alpine architecture--vast,
wild, and sublime in its foundations, yet bursting into flowers at every
The human soul seems to me an imprisoned essence, striving after
somewhat divine. There is a struggle in it, as of suffocated flame;
finding vent now through poetry, now in painting, now in music,
sculpture, or architecture; various are the crevices and fissures, but
the flame is one.
Moreover, as society grows from barbarism upward, it tends to
inflorescence, at certain periods, as do plants and trees; and some
races flower later than others. This architecture was the first
flowering of the Gothic race; they had no Homers; the flame found vent
not by imaged words and vitalized alphabets; they vitalized stone, and
their poets were minster builders; their epics, cathedrals.
This is why one cathedral--like Strasbourg, or Notre Dame--has a
thousand fold the power of any number of Madeleines. The Madeleine is
simply a building; these are poems.
I never look at one of them without feeling that gravitation of soul
towards its artist which poetry always excites. Often the artist is
unknown; here we know him; Erwin von Steinbach, poet, prophet, priest,
We visited his house--a house old and quaint, and to me _full_ of
suggestions and emotions. Ah, if there be, as the apostle vividly
suggests, houses not made with hands, strange splendors, of which
these are but shadows, that vast religious spirit may have been
finding scope for itself where all the forces of nature shall have
been made tributary to the great conceptions of the soul.
Save this cathedral, Strasbourg has nothing except peaked-roofed
houses, dotted with six or seven rows of gable windows.
To-day we made our first essay on the Rhine. Switzerland is a poor
preparation for admiring any common scenery; but the Rhine from
Strasbourg to Manheim seemed only a muddy strip of water, with low
banks, poplars, and willows. If there was any thing better, we passed
it while I was asleep; for I did sleep, even on the classic Rhine.
Day before yesterday, at Basle, I went into the museum, and there saw
some original fragments of the Dance of Death, and many other pictures
by Holbein, with two miniature likenesses of Luther and his wife, by
Lucas Cranach; they are in water colors. Catharine was no beauty at
that time, if Lucas is to be trusted, and Luther looks rather savage.
But I saw a book of autographs, and several original letters of
Luther's. I saw the word "Jesus" at the top of one of them, thus, "J.
U. S." The handwriting was fair, even, and delicate. I laid my hand on
it, and thought his hand also had passed over the paper which he has
made living with his thoughts. Melanchthon, of whom a far more
delicate penmanship might have been expected, wrote a coarse, rugged
hand, quite like Dr. Bishop's. It somehow touched my heart to see this
writing of Luther's, so fair, and clean, and flowing; and to think of
his _vive_ and ever-surging spirits, his conflicts and his
We were awakened, about eight o'clock this morning, by the cathedral
bell, which is near by, and by the chanting of the service. It was a
beautiful, sunny morning, and I could hear them sing all the time I
was dressing. I think, by the style of the singing, it was Protestant
service: it brought to mind the elms of Andover--the dewy, exquisite
beauty of the Sabbath mornings there; and I felt, more than ever, why
am I seeking any thing more beautiful than home? But today the sweet
shadow of God's presence is still over me, and the sense of his love
and protection falls silently into my soul like dew.
At breakfast time Professor M. and his daughter called, as he said, to
place themselves at our disposal for the castle, or whatever we might
wish to see. I intimated that we would prefer spending the day in our
New England manner of retirement--a suggestion which he took at once.
After breakfast the servant asked us if we should like to have a room
commanding a view of the castle. "To be sure," said I. So he ushered
us into a large, elegantly-furnished apartment, looking out
immediately upon it. There it sat, upon its green throne, a regal,
beautiful, poetic thing, fair and sad.
We had singing and prayers, and a sermon from C. We did not go to the
_table d'hôte_, for we abominate its long-drawn, endless
formalities. But one part of the arrangements we enjoyed without
going: I mean the music. To me all music is sacred. Is it not so? All
real music, in its passionate earnest, its blendings, its wild,
heart-searching tones, is the language of aspiration. So it may not be
meant, yet, when we know God, so we translate it.
In the evening we took tea with Professor M., in a sociable way, much
like the _salon_ of Paris. Mrs. M. sat at a table, and poured out
tea, which a servant passed about on a waiter. Gradually quite a
circle of people dropped in--among them Professor Mittemeyer, who, I
was told, is the profoundest lawyer in Germany; also there was
Heinrich von Gagen, who was head of the convention of the empire in
1848, and prime minister. He is tall, has a strongly-marked face, very
dark hair and eyebrows. There was also a very young man, with quite
light hair, named Fisher, who, they told me, was one of the greatest
philosophers of the time; but government had taken away his license to
lecture, on account of his pantheistic principles. I understand that
this has occasioned much feeling, and that some of the professors side
with, and some against him. A lady told me that the theological
professors were against him. I wonder people do not see that this kind
of suppression of opinion is a sword with two edges, which may cut
orthodoxy equally with pantheism. "Let both grow together," says
Christ, "the wheat and the tares." In America we do this, and a
nodding crop of all sorts we have. The more the better; the earth must
exhaust herself before the end can come.
Mr. M. spoke English, as did his very pretty daughter, Ida; his wife
only French and German. Now, if you had only been there, we might have
had quite a brilliant time; but my ignorance of German kept me from
talking with any but those who could speak English. Professor
Mittemeyer summoned English enough to make a long compliment, to which
I responded as usual, by looking very foolish. There was a well
informed gentleman there, who was formerly private secretary to Prince
Albert, and who speaks English well. He has a bright, ingenious mind,
and knows every thing, and seemed particularly willing to give me the
benefit of his knowledge, for which I was suitably grateful. On the
whole, I spent a very pleasant evening, and we parted about nine
o'clock, Miss Ida promising to be our guide to the castle in the
Well, in the morning I was too unwell to leave the sofa. I knew the
old symptoms, and remained in my room, while Professor M. and
daughter, with S, W., and G, went up to the castle. I lay all day on
the sofa, until, at five o'clock at night, I felt so much better that
I thought we might take a carriage and drive up. C. accompanied me,
and _cocher_ took us by a beautiful drive along the valley
of the Neckar, over the hills back of the castle, and finally through
the old arched gateway into the grounds. I had no idea before of the
extent or the architectural beauty of the place. The terrace behind
the castle is a most lovely spot. It wanted only silence and solitude
to make it perfect; it was full of tourists, as also was each ruined
nook and arch. I sauntered about alone, for C. had a sick headache,
and was forced to sit on one of the stone benches. Heidelberg Castle
is of vast extent, and various architecture; parts of it, a guide book
says, were designed by Michael Angelo. Over one door was a Hebrew
inscription. Marshalled in niches in the wall stood statues of
electors and knights in armor--silent, lonely. The effect was quite
different from the old Gothic ruins I had seen. This spoke of courts,
of princes; and the pride and grandeur of the past, contrasted with
the silence and desertion, reminded me of the fable of the city of
enchantment, where king and court were smitten to stone as they stood.
A mournful lion's head attracted my attention, it had such a strange,
sad look; and there was a fountain broken and full of weeds.
I looked on the carvings, the statues, the broken arches, where
bluebells and wild flowers were waving, and it seemed inexpressibly
beautiful. It haunted me in my dreams, and I found myself walking up
and down that terrace, in a kind of dim, beautiful twilight, with some
friend: it was a strange dream of joy. But I felt myself very ill even
while there, and had to take my sofa again as soon as I returned.
There lying, I took my pencil, and drew just the view of the castle
which I could see from my window, as a souvenir of the happiness I had
felt at Heidelberg.
[Illustration: _of the author's window view of Heidelberg._]
Now, I know you will say with me that a day of such hazy, dreamy
enjoyment is worth a great deal. We cannot tell why it is, or what it
is, but one feels like an Æolian breathed on and touched by soft
[Illustration: _of Heidelberg castle._]
This sketch of the castle gives only about half of it. Those tiny
statues indicated in it on the points of the gables are figures in
armor of large size. The two little kiosks or summer houses that you
see, you will find, by turning back to the other picture, mark the
extremities of the terrace. There is a singular tinge of the Moorish
about this architecture which gives me great delight. That Moorish
development always seemed to me strangely exciting and beautiful.
Tuesday, August 2. We leave Heidelberg with regret. At the railway
station occurred our first loss of baggage. As W. was making change in
the baggage room, he missed the basket containing our books and
sundries. Unfortunately the particular word for _basket_ had just
then stepped out. "_Wo ist mein--pannier?_" exclaimed he, giving
them the French synonyme. They shook their heads. "_Wo ist
mein--basket?_" he cried, giving them English; they shook their
heads still harder. "_Wo ist mein-- --_" "Whew--w!" shrieked
the steam whistle; "Ding a-ling-ling!" went the bell, and, leaving his
question unfinished, W. ran for the cars.
In our car was an elderly couple, speaking French. The man was
evidently a quiet sort of fellow, who, by long Caudling, had
subdued--whole volcanos into dumbness within him. Little did he think
what eruption fate was preparing. II. sat opposite _his hat_,
which he had placed on the empty seat. There was a tower, or
something, coming; H. rose, turned round, and innocently took a seat
on his chapeau. Such a voice as came out of that meekness personified!
In the twinkling of an eye--for there is a peculiar sensation which a
person experiences in sitting upon, or rather into a hat; ages are
condensed into moments, and between the first yielding of the brittle
top and the final crush and jam, as between the top of a steeple and
the bottom, there is room for a life's reflection to flash through the
mind--in the twinkling of an eye H. agonizingly felt that she was
sitting on a hat, that the hat was being jammed, that it was getting
flat and flatter every second, that the meek man was howling in
French; and she was just thinking of her husband and children when she
started to her feet, and the nightmare was over. The meek man, having
howled out his French sentence, sat aghast, stroking his poor hat,
while his wife opposite was in convulsions, and we all agog. The
gentleman then asked H. if she proposed sitting where she was, saying,
very significantly, "If you do, I'll put my hat there;" suiting the
action to the word. We did not recover from this all the way to
Arrived at Frankfort we drove to the Hotel de Russie. Then, after
visiting all the lions of the place, we rode to see Dannecker's
Ariadne. It is a beautiful female riding on a panther or a tiger. The
light is let in through a rosy curtain, and the flush as of life falls
upon the beautiful form. Two thoughts occurred to me; why, when we
gaze upon this form so perfect, so entirely revealed, does it not
excite any of those emotions, either of shame or of desire, which the
living reality would excite? And again; why does not the immediate
contact of feminine helplessness with the most awful brute ferocity
excite that horror which the sight of the same in real life must
awaken? Why, but because we behold under a spell in the transfigured
world of art where passion ceases, and bestial instincts are felt to
be bowed to the law of mind, and of ideal truth.
To-day we came to Frankfort, and this afternoon we have been driving
out to see the lions, and in the first place the house where Goethe
was born. Over the door, you remember, was the family coat of arms.
Well, while we were looking I perceived that a little bird had
accommodated the crest of the coat to be his own family residence, and
was flying in and out of a snug nest wherewith he had crowned it.
Little fanciful, feathery amateur! could nothing suit him so well as
Goethe's coat of arms? I could fancy the little thing to be the poet's
soul come back to have a kind of breezy hovering existence in this
real world of ours--to sing, and perch, and soar; for I think you told
me that his principal grace and characteristic was an exquisite
perception and expression of physical beauty. Goethe's house was a
very grand one for the times, was it not? Now a sign in the window
tells us it is used as a manufactory of porcelain.
Then we drove through the Jews' quarters. You remember how queer and
old they look; they have been much modernized since you were there.
_Cocher_ stopped before one house, and said something in German
about Rothschild, which C. said sounded like "Here Rothschild hung his
boots out." We laughed and rode on.
After this we went to the Romer, the hall that you have told me of,
where the emperors were chosen, all painted with their portraits in
compartments; and I looked out on the fountain in front, that used, on
these occasions, to flow with wine. Then I walked around to see all
the emperors, and to wish I knew more about history. Charles V. is the
only one of whom I have any distinct recollection.
Then we went to a kind of museum. _Cocher_ stopped at the door,
and we heard a general sputtering of gutturals between him, W., and
G., he telling them something about Luther. I got it into my head that
the manuscript of Luther's Bible was inside; so I rushed forward. It
was the public library. A colossal statue of Goethe, by an Italian
artist, was the first thing I saw. What a head the man had I a Jupiter
of a head. And what a presence! The statue is really majestic; but was
Goethe so much, really think you? That egotistical spirit shown in his
Diary sets me in doubt. Shakspeare was not self-conscious, and left no
trace of egotism; if he knew himself, he did not care to tell what he
knew. Yet the heads are both great and majestic heads, and would
indicate a plenary manhood.
We went into the library, disturbing a quiet, good sort of bibliopole
there, who, with some regret, put aside his book to guide us.
"Is Luther's Bible here?" W. and G. opened on him.
"No;" but he ushered us into a cabinet.
"There are Luther's _shoes!_"
"Shoes!" we all exclaimed; and there was an irreverent laugh. Yes,
there they were in a glass case,--his shoes, large as life,--shoes
without heels; great, clumping, thick, and black! What an idea!
However, there was a genuine picture by Lucas Cranach, and another of
Catharine, by Holbein, which gave more consolatory ideas of her person
than that which I saw before at Basle. There were also autographs of
Goethe and Schiller, as well as of Luther and Melanchthon.
Our little bibliopole looked mournfully at us, as if we were wasting
his time, and seemed glad when we went out. C. thought he was huffy
because we laughed at Luther's shoes; but I think he was only yearning
after his book. C. offered him a fee, but he would not take it. Going
down stairs, in the entry, I saw a picture of the infant Goethe on an
eagle. We rode, also, to see a bronze statue of him in some street or
other, and I ate an ice cream there to show my regard for him. We are
delighted on the whole with Frankfort.
Now, after all, that I should forget the crown of all our seeings,
Dannecker's Ariadne! It is in a pavilion in a gentleman's garden.
Could mere beauty and grace delight and fill the soul, one could not
ask for more than the Ariadne. The beautiful head, the throat, the
neck, the bust, the hand, the arm, the whole attitude, are exquisite.
But after all, what is it? No moral charm,--mere physical beauty, cold
as Greek mythology. I thought of his _Christ_, and did not wonder
that when he had turned his art to that divine representation, he
should refuse to sculpture from classic models. "He who has sculptured
a Christ cannot sculpture a Venus."
Our hotel here is very beautiful. I think it must have been some
palace, for it is adorned with fine statues, and walls of real marble.
The staircase is beautiful, with brass railing, and at the foot a
marble lion on each side. The walls of my bed room are lined with
green damask, bordered by gilt bands; the attendance here is
excellent. In every hotel of each large city, there is a man who
speaks English. The English language is slowly and surely creeping
through. Europe; already it rivals the universality of the French.
Two things in this city have struck me singularly, as peculiarly
German: one was a long-legged stork, which I saw standing on a chimney
top, reminding me of the oft-mentioned "dear white stork" of German
stories. Why don't storks do so in America, I wonder? Another thing
was, waking suddenly in the middle of the night, and hearing the hymn
of the watchman as he announced the hour. I think this is a beautiful
In the morning, I determined to get into the picture gallery. Now C.,
who espoused to himself an "_Amati_" at Geneva, has been, like
all young bridegrooms, very careless about every thing else but his
beloved, since he got it. Painting, sculpture, architecture, all must
yield to music. Nor can all the fascinations of Raphael or Rubens vie
in his estimation with the melodies of Mozart, or the harmonies of
Beethoven. So, yesterday, when we found the picture gallery shut, he
profanely remarked, "What a mercy!" And this morning I could enlist
none of the party but W. to go with me. We were paid for going. There
were two or three magnificent pictures of sunrise and sunset in the
Alps by modern artists. Never tell me that the _old_ masters have
exhausted the world of landscape painting, at any rate. Am I not
competent to judge because I am not an artist? What! do not all
persons feel themselves competent to pronounce on the merits of
natural landscapes, and say which of two scenes is finer? And are
painters any greater artists than God? If they say that we are not
competent to judge, because we do not understand the mixing of colors,
the mysteries of foreshortening, and all that, I would ask them if
they understand how God mixes his colors? "Canst thou understand the
balancing of the clouds? the wondrous ways of Him who is perfect in
wisdom?" If, therefore, I may dare to form a judgment of God's
originals, I also will dare to judge of man's imitations. Nobody shall
impose old, black, smoky Poussins and Salvator Rosas on me, and so
insult my eyesight and common sense as to make me confess they are
better than pictures which I can see have all the freshness and bloom
of the living reality upon them.
So, also, a most glorious picture here. The Trial of John Huss before
the Council of Constance, by Lessing--one of the few things I have
seen in painting which have had power deeply to affect me. I have it
not in my heart to criticize it as a mere piece of coloring and
finish, though in these respects I thought it had great merits. But
the picture had the power, which all high art must have, of rebuking
and silencing these minor inquiries in the solemnity of its
_morale_. I believe the highest painter often to be the subject
of a sort of inspiration, by which his works have a vitality of
suggestion, so that they sometimes bring to the beholder even more
than he himself conceived when he created them. In this picture, the
idea that most impressed me was, the representation of that more
refined and subtle torture of martyrdom which consists in the
incertitude and weakness of an individual against whom is arrayed the
whole weight of the religious community. If against the martyr only
the worldly and dissolute stood arrayed, he could bear it; but when
the church, claiming to be the visible representative of Christ, casts
him out; when multitudes of pious and holy souls, as yet unenlightened
in their piety, look on him with horror as an infidel and blasphemer,
--then comes the very wrench of the rack. As long as the body is
strong, and the mind clear, a consciousless of right may sustain even
this; but there come weakened hours, when, worn by prison and rack,
the soul asks itself, "Can it be that all the religion and
respectability of the world is wrong, and I alone right?" Such an
agony Luther expressed in that almost superhuman meditation written
the night before the Diet at Worms. Such an agony, the historian tells
us, John Huss passed through the night before his execution.
Now for the picture. The painter has arrayed, with consummate ability,
in the foreground a representation of the religious respectability of
the age: Italian cardinals, in their scarlet robes, their keen,
intellectual, thoughtful faces, shadowed by their broad hats; men whom
it were no play to meet in an argument; there are gray-headed,
venerable priests, and bishops with their seal rings of office,--all
that expressed the stateliness and grandeur of what Huss had been
educated to consider the true church. In the midst of them stands
Huss, habited in a simple dark robe; his sharpened features, and the
yellow, corpse-like pallor of his face, tell of prison and of
suffering. He is defending himself; and there is a trembling
earnestness in the manner with which his hand grasps the Bible. With a
passionate agony he seems to say, "Am I not right? does not this word
say it? and is it not the word of God?"
So have I read the moral of this noble picture, and in it I felt that
I had seen an example of that true mission of art which will manifest
itself more and more in this world as Christ's kingdom comes; art
which is not a mere juggler of colors, a gymnastic display of effects,
but a solemn, inspiring poetry, teaching us to live and die for that
which it noblest and truest. I think this picture much superior to its
companion, the Martyrdom of Huss, which I had already seen in America.
Wednesday, August 3. Frankfort to Cologne. Hurrah for the Rhine! At
eleven we left the princely palace, calling itself Hotel de Russie,
whose halls are walled with marble, and adorned with antique statues
of immense value. Lo, as we were just getting into our carriage, the
lost parcel! basket, shawl, cloak, and all! We tore along to the
station; rode pleasantly over to Mayenz; made our way on board a
steamer loaded down with passengers; established ourselves finally in
the centre of all things on five stools, and deposited our loose
change of baggage in the cabin.
The steamer was small, narrow, and poor, though swift. Thus we began
to see the Rhine under pressure of circumstances.
The French and Germans chatted merrily. The English tourists looked
conscientiously careworn. Papa with three daughters peered alternately
into the guide book, and out of the loophole in the awning, in evident
terror lest something they ought to see should slip by them. Escaping
from the jam, we made our way to the bow, carrying stools, umbrellas,
and books, and there, on the very beak of all things, we had a fine
view. Duly and dutifully we admired Bingen, Cob-lentz, Ehrenbreitstein,
Bonn, Drachenfels, and all the other celebrities, and read Childe Harold
on the Rhine. Reached Cologne at nine.
Thursday, August 4. We drove to the cathedral. I shall not
recapitulate Murray, nor give architectural details. I was satisfied
with what I saw and heard, and wished that so magnificent a
conception, so sublime a blossom of stone sculpture, might come to
ripe maturity, not as a church, indeed, but rather as a beautiful
petrifaction, a growth of prolific, exuberant nature. Why should not
the yeasty brain of man, fermenting, froth over in such crestwork of
Gothic pinnacle, spire, and column?
The only service I appreciated was the organ and chant: hidden in the
midst of forest arches of stone, pouring forth its volumes of harmony
as by unseen minstrelsy, it seemed to create an atmosphere of sound,
in which the massive columns seemed transfused,--not standing, as it
were, but floating,--not resting, as with weight of granite mountains,
but growing as by a spirit and law of development. Filled with those
vast waves and undulations, the immense edifice seemed a creature,
tremulous with a life, a soul, an instinct of its own; and out of its
deepest heart there seemed to struggle upward breathings of
COLOGNE, 10 o'clock, Hotel Bellevue.
The great old city is before me, looming up across the Rhine, which
lies spread out like a molten looking glass, all quivering and
wavering, reflecting the thousand lights of the city. We have been on
the Rhine all day, gliding among its picture-like scenes. But, alas I
I had a headache; the boat was crowded; one and all smoked tobacco;
and in vain, under such circumstances, do we see that nature is fair.
It is not enough to open one's eyes on scenes; one must be able to be
_en rapport_ with them. Just so in the spiritual world, we
sometimes _see_ great truths,--see that God is beautiful,
glorious, and surpassingly lovely; but at other times we feel both
nature and God, and 0, how different _seeing_ and _feeling!_
To say the truth, I have been quite homesick to-day, and leaning my
head on the rails, pondered an immediate flight, a giving up of all
engagements on the continent and in England, an immediate rush
homeward. Does it not seem absurd, that, when within a few days'
journey of what has been the long-desired dream of my heart, I should
feel so--that I should actually feel that I had rather take some more
of our pleasant walks about Andover, than to see all that Europe has
This morning we went to the Cologne Cathedral. In the exterior of both
this and Strasbourg I was disappointed; but in the interior, who could
be? There is a majesty about those up-springing arches--those columns
so light, so lofty--it makes one feel as if rising like a cloud. Then
the innumerable complications and endless perspectives, arch above
arch and arch within arch, all lighted up and colored by the painted
glass, and all this filled with the waves of the chant and the organ,
rising and falling like the noise of the sea; it was one of the few
overpowering things that do not _satisfy_, because they transport
you at once beyond the restless anxiety to be satisfied, and leave you
no time to ask the cold question, Am I pleased?
Ah, surely, I said to myself, as I walked with a kind of exultation
among those lofty arches, and saw the clouds of incense ascending, the
kneeling priests, and heard the pathetic yet grand voices of the
chant--surely, there is some part in man that calls for such a
service, for such visible images of grandeur and beauty. The wealth
spent on these churches is a sublime and beautiful protest against
materialism--against that use of money which merely brings supply to
the coarse animal wants of life, and which makes of God's house only a
bare pen, in which a man sits to be instructed in his duties.
Yet a moment after I had the other side of the question brought
forcibly to my mind. In an obscure corner was a coarse wooden shrine,
painted red, in which was a doll dressed up in spangles and tinsel, to
represent the Virgin, and hung round with little waxen effigies of
arms, hands, feet, and legs, to represent, I suppose, some favor which
had been accorded to these members of her several votaries through her
intercessions. Before this shrine several poor people were kneeling,
with clasped hands and bowed heads, praying with an earnestness which
was sorrowful to see. "They have taken away their Lord, and they know
not where they have laid him." Such is the end of this superb idolatry
in the illiterate and the poor.
Yet if we _could_, would we efface from the world such cathedrals
as Strasbourg and Cologne? I discussed the question of outward pomp
and ritual with myself while I was walking deliberately round a stone
balustrade on the roof of the church, and looking out through the
flying buttresses, upon the broad sweep of the Rhine, and the queer,
old-times houses and spires of the city. I thought of the splendors of
the Hebrew ritual and temple, instituted by God himself. I questioned
where was the text in the gospel that forbade such a ritual, provided
it were felt to be desirable; and then I thought of the ignorance and
stupid idolatry of those countries where this ritual is found in
greatest splendor, and asked whether these are the necessary
concomitants of such churches and such forms, or whether they do not
result from other causes. The Hebrew ritual, in a far more sensuous
age, had its sculptured cherubim, its pictorial and artistic wealth of
representation, its gorgeous priestly vestments, its incense, and its
chants; and they never became, so far as we know, the objects of
But I love to go back over and over the scenes of that cathedral; to
look up those arches that seem to me, in their buoyant lightness, to
have not been made with hands, but to have shot up like an
enchantment--to have risen like an aspiration, an impersonation of the
upward sweep of the soul, in its loftiest moods of divine communion.
There were about five minutes of feeling, worth all the discomforts of
getting here; and it is only for some such short time that we can
enjoy--then our prison door closes.
There are four painted glass windows, given by the King of Bavaria. I
have got for H. the photograph of two of them, representing the birth
and death of Christ. They are gorgeous paintings by the first masters.
The windows round the choir were painted in a style that reminded me
of our forests in autumn.
Well, after our sublimities came a farce. We went to St. Ursula's
church, to see the bones of the eleven thousand virgins, who, the
chronicle says, were slain here because they would not break their
vows of chastity. I was much amused. As we entered the church, C.
remarked impressively, "It is evident that these virgins have no
connection with cologne water!" The fact was lamentably apparent.
Doleful looking figures of virgins, painted in all the colors of the
rainbow, were looking down upon us from all quarters; and in front, in
a glass frame, was a bill of fare, in French, of the relics which
could be served up to order. C. read the list aloud, and then we
proceeded to a small side room to see the exhibition. The upper
portion of the walls was covered with small bones, strung on wires and
arranged in a kind of fanciful arabesque, much as shell boxes are
made; and the lower part was taken up with busts in silver and gold
gilding, representing still the interminable eleven thousand. A sort
of cupboard door half opened showed the shelves all full of skulls,
adorned with little satin caps, coronets, and tinsel jewelry; which
skulls, we were informed, were the original head-pieces of the same
At the other end of the room was a raised stage, where the most holy
relics of all were being displayed, under the devout eye of a priest
in a long, black robe. C. and I went upon the stage to be instructed.
S., whom the aforesaid lack of cologne water in the establishment had
rendered peculiarly unpropitious, stood at a majestic distance; but
C., assuming an air of profound faith, stood up to be initiated.
"That," says the priest, in a plaintive voice, pitched to the exact
point between lamentation and veneration, "is the ring of St. Ursula."
"Indeed," says C., "her ring!"
"Yes," says the priest, "it was found in her tomb."
"It was found in her tomb--only think!" says C., turning gravely to
me. I had to look another way, while the priest proceeded to
introduce, by name, four remarkably yellow skulls, with tastefully
trimmed red caps on, as those of St. Ursula and sundry of her most
intimate friends. S. looked gloriously indignant, and C. increasingly
"Dere," said the priest, opening an ivory box, in which was about a
quart of _teeth_ of different sizes, "dere is de teeth of the
"Indeed," echoes C., "their teeth!"
S., at this, waxed magnificent, and, as a novel writer would say,
swept from the apartment. I turned round, shaking with laughter, while
the priest went on.
"Dere is a rib of St. ----."
"Ah, his rib; indeed!"
"And dere is de arrow as pierced the heart of St. Ursula."
"H.," says C., "here is the arrow that killed St. Ursula." (The wicked
scamp knew I was laughing!)
"Dere is the net that was on her hair."
"This is what she wore on her hair, then," says C., eyeing the rag
with severe and melancholy gravity.
"And here is some of the blood of the martyr Stephen," says the
priest, holding a glass case with some mud in it.
In the same way he showed two thorns from the crown of Christ, and a
piece of the Virgin's petticoat.
"And here is the waterpot of stone, in which our Lord made the wine at
the marriage in Cana."
"Indeed," said C., examining it with great interest; "where are the
rest of them?"
"The rest?" says the priest.
"Yes; I think there were six of them; where are they?"
The priest only went over the old story. "This came from Rome, and the
piece broken out of the side is at Rome yet."
It is to be confessed that I felt in my heart, through this disgusting
recital, some of S.'s indignation; and I could not help agreeing with
her that the odor of sanctity, as generally developed in the vicinity,
was any thing but agreeable. I did long to look that man once steadily
in the eyes, to see if he was such a fool as he pretended; but the
ridiculousness of the whole scene overcame me so that I could not look
up, and I marched out in silence. The whole church is equally full of
virgins. The altar piece is a vast picture of the slaughter, not badly
painted. Through various glass openings you perceive that the walls
are full of the bones and skulls. Did the worship of Egypt ever sink
lower in horrible and loathsome idolatry? I had heard of such things;
but it is one thing to hear of them, and another to see them by the
light of this nineteenth century, in a city whose streets look much
like the streets of any other, and where men and women appear much as
they do any where else. Here we saw, in one morning, the splendor and
the rottenness of the Romish system. From those majestic arches, that
triumphant chant, there is but a step down to the worship of dead
men's bones and all uncleanness.
We went also into the Jesuits' church. The effect, to my eye, was that
of a profusion of tawdry, dirty ornament; only the railing of the
choir, which was a splendid piece of carving, out from a single block
of Carrara marble.
The guide book prescribes, I think, no less than half a dozen churches
in Cologne as a dose for the faithful; but we were satisfied with
these three, and went back to our hotel. As a general thing I would
not recommend more than three churches on an empty stomach.
The outer wall of Cologne is a very fine specimen of fortification, (I
am quoting my guide book,) and we got a perfect view of it in crossing
the bridge of boats to return to our hotel. Why they have a bridge of
boats here I cannot say; perhaps on account of the width and swiftness
of the river.
Having heard so much of the dirt and vile smells of Cologne, I was
surprised that our drive took us through streets no way differing from
those of most other cities, and, except in the vicinity of the eleven
thousand virgins, smelling no worse. Still, there may be vile,
ill-smelling streets; but so there are in Edinburgh, London, and New
From Cologne we went, at four o'clock, to Dusseldorf, a little town,
celebrated for the head quarters of the Dusseldorf school of painting.
I cannot imagine why they chose this town for a school of the fine
arts, as it is altogether an indifferent, uninteresting place. It is
about an hour's ride from Cologne. We arrived there in time to go into
the exhibition of the works of the artists, which is open all summer.
I don't know how good a specimen it is, but I thought it rather
indifferent. There were some few paintings that interested me, but
nothing equal to those. I have seen in the Dusseldorf gallery at home.
Whittridge lives there, but, unfortunately, was gone for eight days.
Our hotel was pleasant--opening on a walk shaded by double rows of
trees. We ordered a nice little tea in our room, arid waxed quite
merry over it.
This morning we started at seven, and here we are to-night in
Leipsic--as uninteresting a country as I have seen yet. Moreover, we
had passed beyond the limits of our Rhine guide book, and as yet had
no other, and so did not know any thing about the few objects of
interest which presented themselves. The railroads, of course, persist
in their invariable habit of running you up against a dead wall, so
that you see nothing where you stop.
The city of Magdeburg is the only interesting object I have seen. I
had a fair view of its cathedral, which I think, though not so
imposing, yet as picturesque and beautiful as any I remember to have
seen; and its old wall, too. We changed cars here, going through the
wall into the city, and I saw just enough to make me wish to see more;
and now to-night we are in Leipsic.
Morning. We are going out now, and I must mail this letter. To-morrow
we spend at Halle.
Friday, August 5. Dusseldorf to Leipsic, three hundred and
seventy-three miles. A very level and apparently fertile country. If
well governed it ought to increase vastly in riches.
Saturday, August 6. Called at the counting house of M. Tauchnitz, the
celebrated publisher. An hour after, accompanied by Mrs. T., he came
with two open carriages, and took us to see the city and environs. We
visited the battle ground, and saw the spot where Napoleon stood
during the engagement; a slight elevation, commanding an immense plain
in every direction, with the spires of the city rising in the
distance. After seeing various sights of interest, we returned to our
hotel, where our kind friends took their leave. In the afternoon M.
Tauchnitz sent H. a package of his entertaining English publications,
to read in the cars, also a Murray for Germany. H. and I then took the
cars for Halle, where we hoped to spend the Sabbath and meet with Dr.
Tholuck. Travellers sometimes visit Chamouni without seeing Mont
Blanc, who remains enveloped in clouds during their stay. So with us.
In an hour we were in rooms at the Kron Prince. We sent a note to the
professor; the waiter returned, saying that Dr. Tholuck was at
Kissengen. Our theological Mont Blanc was hid in mist. Blank enough
"H., is there no other professor we want to see?"
"I believe not."
Pensively she read one of the Tauchnitz Library. Plaintively my
_Amati_ sighed condolence.
"H." said I, "perhaps we might reach Dresden to-night."
"Do you think so? Is it possible? Is there a train?"
"We can soon ascertain."
"How amazed they would look!"
We summoned the _maître d'hotel_, ordered tea, paid, packed,
raced, ran, and hurried, _presto, prestissimo,_ into a car half
choked with voyagers, changed lines at Leipsic, and shot off to
Dresden. By deep midnight we were thundering over the great stone Pont
d'Elbe, to the Hotel de Saxe, where, by one o'clock, we were lost in
In the morning the question was, how to find our party.
"Waiter, bring me a directory."
"There is no directory, sir."
"No directory? Then how shall we contrive to find our friends?"
"Monsieur has friends residing in Dresden?"
"No, no! our party that came last night from Leipsic."
"At what hotel do they stop?"
"That is precisely what I wish to find out."
"Will monsieur allow me to give their description to the police?"
(0, ho, thought I; that is your directory, is it? Wonder if that is
the reason you have none printed.) "_Non, merci,"_ said I, and
set off on foot to visit the principal hotels. I knew they would go by
Murray or Bradshaw, and lo, sure enough they were at the Hotel
Bellevue, just sitting down to breakfast. S. started as if she had
seen a ghost.
"Why, where did you come from? What has happened? Where is H.? We
thought you were in Halle!"
Explanations followed. H. was speedily transferred to their hotel,
where they had bespoken rooms for us; and we sallied forth to the
court church to hear the music of high mass.
This music is celebrated throughout Germany. It is, therefore,
undoubtedly superior. The organ is noble, the opera company royal. But
more perfect than all combined are the echoes of the church, which
(though the guide book does not mention it) nullify every effect.
Monday, 8. Visited the walks and gardens on the banks of the Elbe. The
sky was clear, the weather glorious, and all nature full of joy. We
almost think this Elbe another Seine; these Bruhlsche gardens and
terraces, these majestic old bridges, and cleft city, another Paris!
Here, too, is that out-of-doors life, life in gardens, we admire so
much. Breakfast in the public gardens; hundreds of little groups
sipping their coffee! Dinner, tea, and supper in the gardens, with
music of birds and bands!
Visited the Picture Gallery. If one were to chance upon an altar in
this German Athens inscribed to the "unknown god," he might be tempted
to suggest that that deity's name is Decency.
The human form is indeed divine, as M. Belloc insists, and rightly,
sacredly drawn, cannot offend the purest eye. All nature is symbolic.
The universe itself is a complex symbol of spiritual ideas. So in the
structure and relation of the human body, some of the highest
spiritual ideas, the divinest mysteries of pure worship, are
designedly shadowed forth.
If, then, the painter rightly and sacredly conceives the divine
meaning, and creates upon the canvas, or in marble, forms of exalted
ideal loveliness, we cannot murmur even if, like Adam and Eve in Eden,
"they are naked, and are not ashamed."
And yet even sacred things love mystery, and holiest emotions claim
reserve. Nature herself seems to tell us that the more sacred some
works of art might be, the less they should be unveiled. There are
flowers that will wither in the sun The passion of love, when
developed according to the divine order, is, even in its physical
relations, so holy that it cannot retain its delicacy under the sultry
blaze of profane publicity.
But it is far otherwise with paintings where the _animus_ is not
sacred, nor the meaning spiritual. No excellences of coloring, no
marvels of foreshortening, no miracles of mechanism can consecrate the
salacious images of mythologic abomination.
The cheek that can forget to blush at the Venus and Cupid by Titian,
at Leda and her Swan, at Jupiter and Io, and others of equally evil
intent, ought never to pretend to blush at any thing. Such pictures
are a disgrace to the artists that painted, to the age that tolerates,
and to the gallery that contains them. They are fit for a bagnio
rather than a public exhibition.
Evening. Dresden is the home of Madame Jenny Lind Goldschmidt. H. sent
her card. This evening Mr. G. called to express regret that she was
unable to see any one, on account of her recent confinement. He kindly
offered us the use of his carriage and assistance in sightseeing. H.
discussed with him the catalogues of the gallery of paintings. As to
music, we learn, with regret, that it is out of season for concerts,
oratorios, or any thing worth hearing.
Wednesday, August 10. Dresden to Berlin. Drove to Charlottenburg, and
saw the monument of Queen Louisa.
Thursday, 11. Visited the Picture Gallery, and various stores and
Saturday, August 13. Berlin to Wittenberg, two hours' ride. Examined
the Schloss-Kirche, where Luther is buried, passing on our way through
the public square containing his monument.
At nine in the evening took cars for Erfurt. That night ride, with the
moon and one star hanging beautifully over the horizon, was pleasant.
There is a wild and thrilling excitement in thus plunging through the
mysterious night in a land utterly unknown. Reached Erfurt at two in
Monday, August 15. Erfurt to Eisenach by eight. Drove to the Wartburg.
I went to Dresden as an art-pilgrim, principally to see Raphael's
great picture of the Madonna di San Sisto, supposing that to be the
best specimen of his genius out of Italy. On my way I diligently
studied the guide book of that indefatigable friend of the traveller,
Mr. Murray, in which descriptions of the finest pictures are given,
with the observations of artists; so that inexperienced persons may