Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

butary. Wherever truth has assumed a new garb of beauty, and the earth or the inhabitant reveal novel and illustrative features; where the plant, the stone, or the brute creation; where languages, traditions, or customs of men, have not yet been registered in the catalogues and repositories of science and of art; thither hastens the German, and wearies not until he return, his bark laden with spoils, with which he forthwith decks the shrine of Minerva. The Andes, the Caucassus, and the African glen ; the varied literatures and modes of being of the East, have they not been minutely revealed to his native land, and to the world, by the German voyager and the German erudite? And who would not be proud to claim the Humboldts, the Schlegels, the Van Hammers, as countrymen ?

I trust, Sir, you will look with indulgence upon these preliminary remarks. When striving to characterize so broad a field as the great land in which we are about to wander, it became needful that I should retrace many an inscription, and dwell upon the general aspect of nature and of men, before I could be convinced my foot was again to cross the Phine. Thus, after reaching the point de vue, whence we are desirous of marking some interesting yet distant objects, many others are embraced in the field of vision, and serve to assign its position to the prominent one. The illusion is now complete. It is as if one had gazed upon the rich landscape to be seen from the summit of the cathedral of Strasburg. At your feet, the Rhine divides Baden from Alsace, Germany from France; the land of learning from the land of wit ; enthusiasm from heartlessness ; religion from impiety ; Martin Luther from Francois Marie Arouet de Voltaire.

It was from this eminence, that I first contemplated the favored land. We had hastened from Paris to the capital of Alsatia, on our way to Heidelburg. In Strasburg we lingered two days. The first was consecrated to the cathedral, an inimitably beautiful Gothic monument. Its spire, three hundred and nineteen feet high, is more delicate and graceful than the needle of Cleopatra. The external edifice is embroidered, from top to bottom, with the richest sculpturings; and within, beside paintings and stained windows, you have the mausoleum of Marshal Saxe, which is as famous as the black tombs of the dukes of Lorraine at Nancy.

On the morrow, we made our pilgrimage to the Rhine. The sight of this noble and historic river awakens in the bosom of a stranger, emotions as powerful as those called up by the sacred streams of India. Conquest and invasion are, with vineyards and fertile plains, its mingled associations; and the gray castles which look down so gravely upon the passing steamer, seem scarcely to have recovered from their surprise at the audacious success of the grande armée — that resistless Colossus, of which Napoleon was the soul. The track of the conqueror is so broad and ineffaceable, in those portions of Germany contiguous to France, that the humble footprints of the voyager must pass unnoticed. Hasten we then, from a land and river of Howing romance, to regions of which the legends are less current, and the scenery less familiar. Toward the north, we shall find many a mountain pass and foaming brook ; nature in a wilder garb; the Harz, the silver mine; and to reach these, the road VOL. XIII.

30

lies through GÖTTINGEN. We leave behind us a monument, standing like the tomb of Ajax, upon a plain broad as the Troad, reared to the memory of General Dessaix, by the • Army of the Rhine.'

Heidelberg is the first pause of the tourist, unless Baden-Baden have captured him with its gay seductions. The castle and the university are, with the limpid Neckar and vine-clad mounts, high titles to admiration. To you, Sir, the names of LEONHARD, the mineralogist, and GMELIN, the chemical philosopher, are doubtless well known; and the university exhibits, in addition, a bright array of famous talent ; Paulus, in theology, MITTERMAYER, ZACHARIA, and ThiBAUT, in different branches of jurisprudence, TIEDERMAN in anatomy; and Joseph MaXIMILIAN CHELius, in surgery; these enjoy a European reputation ; and this old nursery of learning still maintains its unclouded fame. Should these etchings afford your readers pleasure, we may return to this interesting town. The mind is a pretty independent, because inexpensive, traveller. It relies not for its feuille de route upon the accuracy of a passport, nor do its motions depend, like the body's, upon the purse. It is unsurpassed in elegance by the chaise de poste, and without effort distances the locomotive.

Riding north from Frankfort, upon the road to Cassel, you enter, after a few hours, an undulating country, which, in the opening autumn, combines in rich proportion the highly cultivated with the highly picturesque. The fertile swales seem alive with the varied harvest hues, amid which play in the sunshine the enlivening colors worn by the busy peasantry. Many women are at work in the fields, which are not portioned off by fences; and the road from Heidelberg to Cassel, is shaded by a double row of noble forest trees.

We passed through GIESSEN, notorious for its university's negative excellence. Here diplomas may be readily obtained, on moderate terms. A story is told of two Englishmen, who, stopping to dine at the hostelry, sent up their servant with the requisite sum, and requested a diploma apiece. The valet speedily returned with the desired documents. In a spirit of fun, the travellers next despatched the domestic for diplomas for their horses. This was too much for the learned body, who coolly replied, that “though asses were occasionally admitted to the privileges of the university, horses had been hitherto uniformly excluded !'

There is romantic beauty in the site of the town of MARBURG. Its houses are grouped, nest-like, upon the brow of a steep and apparently inaccessible hill. The university stands well among those of a second rank in Germany. From thence we hastened to Cassel, impatient that a day should yet divide us from the first term of our journey, Göttingen. In Cassel there is much that is peculiar and interesting. The town, built upon the platform of a hill, boasts of a palace, a garrison, and displays symmetry of design and of architecture. The capital of Westphalia, it bears the imprint of Napoleon's finger. He placed Jerome upon the throne of the elector, but the reign was brief. The wonder of Cassel is the · Wilhelm's Höe,' or William's Heights,' about three miles distant, where, upon a hill-side, and overlooking the city and surrounding territory, stands the elector's castle, around which are many striking objects. The gardens of the terrace; the magnificent imitation of a Roman aqueduct in ruins; the large swanbasin, whence, on gala-days, there spouts a jet one hundred and eighty feet high; the artificial cascade, which, on such occasions, feeds the fountain, and a Gothic castle, somewhat higher than the residencepalace, are no mean attractions. The architecture of the old chateau, whilome the abode of an ancient elector, is antique and quaint, like the Canterbury tales of Chaucer. In the interior, a chapel, adorned by the pencil of MENGs, and an armory, filled with incredible mail-coats, javelins, swords, and gauntlets, complete the associations of a pristine day. A colossal statue of Hercules grasping his club, crowns the mountain top, and forms the vertex of a triangle, whereof the stair-ways, bordering either edge of the cascade, are the sides ; these respectively extend to the terminations of the palace, which thus serves as a base-line. The landscape, seen from the eye of the demigod, to which you ascend by an internal ladder, is a perfect and lovely picture. The perspective reaches to the Harz mountains, in the midst of which the mystic Brocken rears its cloud-wreathed head.

Were it not that I have too long trespassed upon the patience of your readers, and that they probably experience the desire which urged me, when at Cassel, to make all sail for Göttingen, we might thread our way unconsciously and pleasantly among the alleys and edifices which diversify and adorn these heights. The guides are full of Bonapartean anecdotes one has not heard; and the story of the reigning family is, in its details, an infinitely curious chapter of human nature. The present co-regent, or vice-elector — whose father, as wealthy as he is dissolute, was long since forced to abdicate, and now makes various castles and country seats his changing abode — bought the wife of a Prussian officer for forty thousand rix dollars, and married her. The officer shot himself shortly after, in despair; and the lady sat at one of the palace windows, on the morning of the second day of September, 1835, as we stood beneath, listening to this singular chronicle.

At LANGERSHAUSENBERG, near Cassel, the decayed corpse of a criminal was bound to a wheel, and around the bones, which hung among the spokes, floated a winding sheet of dazzling white, bleached by alternations of rain and sunshine. Upon a spear-blade, at the centre of the wheel, stood the head, bare to the skull; and we learned that this exposure is always customary, after decapitation. The individual had been a shepherd. He had committed seven murders, lying in ambush amid his flock, in lonely places, for the solitary traveller. The last victims of his atrocity were a father with his young son. The boy, seeing his sire attacked, fell on his knees, and implored the brigand's mercy. The prayer touched not his savage heart. But, after slaying the helpless one, conscience, long inured to homicide, awoke within him, and betrayed his guilt. On the scaffold he implored the executioner to bestir himself, for “he saw the little child again pursuing him !

From the person who gave us this information, we gleaned numerous particulars of crimes committed in Hesse-Cassel and the neighboring states, and among others, the following. Sundry assassinations had inspired the people with terror. Seven persons were arrested upon suspicion, and imprisoned in the state dungeons of Cassel,

Possessing no proofs of their culpability, the law, to extort a confession, administered the torture. The question was renewed with increased severity, during several months, and the accused, preferring death to a punishment so horrible, were on the point of declaring themselves guilty. Hearing that they were about to be decapitated, the real criminal, whom no one suspected, came forward and delivered himself into the hands of justice. Here again Conscience probably enacted her part. This event, so unfortunate for the innocent sufferers, had happily the effect of abolishing torture, as well as the fustigation to which prisoners had, until then, been subjected. After details of such semi-barbarism, can the reader doubt that we were approaching the north ? And in truth, these tales still dwelt in our ears, as we came in sight of the town of Göttingen; its edifices, trees, and ramparts, mantling with the blush of the setting sun.

THE WANDERER.

THE MOTHER'S VISION.

METHOUGH't a spirit o'er me passed,

With radiant wings out-spread,
And staid his bright and glorious course

Beside my children's bed.
He looked on their uoble brows, and smiled,
As he marked each fair and innocent child.

The curls that on each young cheek lay,

Just stirred with its brother's breath,
While gleaming out in the pale moonlight,

That made one think of death,
Were the snowy arms entwined by love,
Or gently thrown on the pillow above.

Was it love that made those sleeping boys

Each moment seem more fair,
And dearer grow to a mother's heart,

As they slept in their beauty there?
That made their breath, as it upward stole,
The sweetest sound to a mother's soul?

D, ever fresh is a mother's love!

It knows no change by time;
The grave may not dim its holy flame,

It lives for that better clime,
Where shadows come not, nor the tear
Shall tell the tale of the mourner here.

As the spirit stayed in glory by,

I longed some gift to crave,
A something, that from sin and shame

Those cherished ones might save;
That never guilt might stain the brow,
That heavenward turned so spotless now.

When lo! a voice did seem to come

Upon my spirit's ear:
"That prayer within thy inmost heart

May soothe each doubting fear;
For never guilt may bow the head,
O'er which a mother's prayer is said !'

A DISH OF TEA.

UY TRE AUTHOR OF THE CIRCUS,' THE 'KUSAOW PROPERTY, ETC.

IN TWO PARTS: PART TWO.

I PROMISED that I would return to tea, and join the maiden drinkers, in another dish. But first, let me remark that there is a point of some importance, connected with this subject, which I must leave to learned scholars to determine ; whether the herb which we call tea, be not that same nectar, so often mentioned in classic writings. I am mainly of the opinion that it is; that this the supplanted Hebe, and the bright boy Ganymede, who was too beautiful for earth, passed in golden goblets to the gods having Olympian habitations.' How universal now is this soothing beverage ! Not many years ago, and a few boxes, coming with pomp and circumstance from imperial Canton, were sufficient to glut the market. Once it was known to the rich and the noble ; now it is as extensive as the blessed light. The humble tenants of a cabin or a hut may sip their social tea in comfort. Where is the lip that doth not sip it? Where is the cottage in which the smoke of its incense goeth not up? How nicely is it adapted, by its delicately varying shades, to every especial palate! There is your Bohea, and Congo, and Campo, and Souchong, and Pouchong, and Pekoe ; there is Twankay, and Hyson, and Young Hyson, and Hysonskin, and Gunpowder, and Imperial. True, it is not all of equal excellency, or quality, but still it hath the name of tea, and there is much, there is very much, in that, you know. But I am again with the drinkers.

It always truly did my heart good, to see Miss Patty presiding at the tea-table; there was such an irradiation of comfort from her bland yet tristful countenance. She was a fitting priestess to do the divine honors of the occasion, and to pour out libations. She performed them, not indeed with the airy grace and flourish of one who presides at a profane dinner, nor with the trivial air of a master of ceremonies; but with a placid gravity of demeanor, which was worthy of the nature of the banquet, and the starched dignity of her cap. How can I forget her ancient 'loving kindnesses,' on such occasions! How devoted was she to the interests of her guests! With what watchful assiduity she anticipated their wants, and hastened to ‘nip them in the bud!' How hardly she herself fared, barely stopping to take a casual sip, at intervals, like angels' visits, • few and far between! With what an air of serious importance, of ministerial solemnity, went forth the questions : ‘Have I made your tea right ?' • Is your tea agreeable ?' And yours, madam, and yours? And the no less solemn replies, • A little more milk, if you please.' •No milk, if you please. • The least bit of sugar.' And then what a stirring of spoons, and what a sipping, and tasting, and testing, before it was ascertained with certainty whether the beverage was precisely adapted to their hypercritical palates. It would go hard with it, if the temperature were either blood warm, or moderately hot. It was like molten lead, and had it been thrown upon a dog, would have scalded him to death; but to their salamander tongues, it was only genially warm. This perhaps was well, as

« AnteriorContinuar »