Antwerp—or, as the French write it, Anvers—is a noble city on the River Scheldt, and is about twenty-seven miles from Brussels. The population is rather more than eighty thousand. The city is laid out in the shape of a bow, and the river forms the string. The river here is one hundred and ninety yards wide. The tide rises about fifteen feet. This place is of very ancient origin, and its legends are mixed up with the fabulous. Early in the sixteenth century it was an important town. It was fortified, and became one of the chief places of trade for the north of Europe. In 1520, the population was over two hundred thousand. Five hundred vessels daily came into and left the port, and two thousand others were always lying in the river and basins of the port. The death blow to this place was the treaty of Munster, which stipulated that every vessel entering the Scheldt should discharge her cargo in Holland, so that it had to be conveyed to Antwerp by land. The abolition of the Spanish power was severely felt at Antwerp. You know, I suppose, that this is regarded as one of the strongest fortifications in Europe, and has been the scene of repeated sieges. The last and most celebrated one was in 1832, when it was captured by the French, after a brave defence of two months.
You cannot easily fancy what a charming old city this is; but I shall try to give you some account of it and our employments here. We put up at the Hotel St. Antoine, in the Place Verte, nearly opposite the cathedral, and it certainly is one of the best houses we have seen any where. The court yard is spacious, and has fine orange-trees around it. Our rooms are very elegant, and on the first floor. The coffee-room is admirably attended, and the table d'hote is the best we have yet set down to. A large part of our anticipated pleasure arose from the fact that here are the great works of Rubens; and in the city of Rubens, Vandyke, Teniers, Jordaens, and Quentin Matsys, we felt that we could not be disappointed. In the Place Verte we find a colossal statue of Rubens by Geefs; and passing on a few steps, at the corner we come to the Cathedral of Notre Dame, which is so celebrated all over Europe as one of the grandest specimens of the Gothic order of architecture. There is much dispute as to the exact date of this church, but the evidence is in favor of 1422, and it is known to have been finished in 1518. This church is four hundred and sixty-six feet high, five hundred feet long, and two hundred and fifty wide. The nave is thought to be the most superb in Europe; and the side naves are double, forming two hundred and thirty arches, supported by one hundred and twenty-five magnificent pillars, and some of these are twenty-seven feet in circumference. Here Philip II., in 1555, held a chapter of the Golden Fleece, at which nineteen knights and nine sovereign princes were present. In 1559, Paul IV. made this church a cathedral; but, in 1812, Pius VII. issued a bull by which it was made dependent on the diocese of Malines. The effect of the evening sun upon the painted windows is the production of a glory which no pen can describe. Charles V. was once an actor here, for he stood godfather at the baptism of the great bell. The pulpit is carved work, and done by Verbruggen. It represents the four quarters of the world, and, though elaborate, is not as beautiful as the one in St. Gudule, at Brussels. The glory of the church is the "breathing scroll" of Rubens, so often seen upon the walls of its solemn aisles. Here is Rubens's great picture,—the Descent from the Cross. To this picture pilgrimages have been made by all the lovers of art from other lands, and all concede the grandeur of idea and the simplicity of the style. There is quite a story about this picture, in which Rubens and the crossbow-men of Antwerp both figure, but which I have no time to tell you at present. Nearly opposite is the Elevation of the Cross. The Savior's face and figure are not to be forgotten by any one who carefully gazes on this canvas. Both these pictures were carried off by the French, and also the Assumption of the Virgin, which is the high altar-piece, and were restored by the allied sovereigns in 1815. This last-named picture is said to have been executed in sixteen days, and his pay was one hundred florins a day. I like it exceedingly; and the figure of the picture is more spiritual than any other I have seen of the Virgin. Its date is 1642. I advise you to read Sir Joshua Reynolds's Lectures, where you will find a critical description of these immortal pictures.
The steeple or tower is regarded as unrivalled, and is one of the highest in the world. It is four hundred and sixty-six feet high; and from the top we could see Brussels, Ghent, Malines, Louvain, and Flushing, and the course of the Scheldt lies beautifully marked out. I hardly dare tell you how many bells there are. Our valet said ninety-nine; one local book of facts says eighty-eight; but I suppose there are eighty or ninety; and every fifteen minutes they do chime the sweetest music: Charles V. wished the exquisite tower could be kept from harm in a glass case. The tracery of this tower is like delicate lacework, and no one can imagine half its beauty. After we came down, we examined, at the base, the epitaph of Quentin Matsys, once a black-smith, and then, under the force of the tender passion, he became a painter. The iron work over the pump and well, outside the church, is his handiwork.
All round the cathedral are the finest old gabled houses I ever saw, Charley. I never tire in looking at them. They were the great houses of the time when the Duke of Alva made Antwerp the scene of his cruel despotism, and when the Inquisition carried death and misery into men's families. The oppressions of the Spaniards in this city sent many of the best manufacturers from the Low Countries to England; and Queen Elizabeth received them gladly.
I believe the lads have told you what they have seen in Belgium; and as they are just now busily employed, I shall endeavor to tell you our doings and enjoyments for the last day in this noble old city. We have been to see St. James's Church, where the great attraction is the tomb of Rubens. The altar is exquisitely fine, and was the work of Duquesnoy. Rubens brought it from Italy. Over the tomb is the famous Holy Family, in which Rubens has introduced himself as St. George, his father as Jerome, his wives as Martha and Magdalene, his grandfather as old Time, and his son as the Angel. This wonderful creation of art was carried off by Napoleon to the Louvre, but was restored to the church in 1815. From hence we repaired to St. Paul's Church. It was built in 1679. It has a noble appearance, and retains its cloisters. In this building we noticed the Flagellation, by Rubens; Jesus bearing the Cross, by Vandyke; the Crucifixion and Resurrection, by Jordaens; and the Adoration of the Shepherds, by Rubens. As we left the church, we visited the Calvary, which is at the entrance, or, rather, off from it, at the right. It is meant to represent the place of Christ's death. There are several statues of prophets and apostles, and a sort of grotto. At the end is Mount Calvary, and the summit is the scene of the Savior's crucifixion. Beneath is the tomb, the body, and the stone rolled away; and at the left are bars and flames, and poor creatures in purgatorial fires. A more wretched-looking burlesque was never placed in the vicinage of art and the productions of genius. Popery employs such trickery unblushingly in Papal countries, but withholds their exhibition from the common sense of England and America, waiting till our education shall fit us for the simple, unalloyed system of delusion.
We find the number of priests in Belgium much greater than in France. We see them in the cars, at the stations, and in every street. At one station, on our way to Antwerp, we saw a most strangely-dressed man. He wore a cloak, and the cape formed a sort of hat. His head was shaved, and his feet were bare. We learnt that he was a monk of La Trappe. He was as noble a looking man as I have seen in Europe.
We devoted the morning to the Museum, which is so famous for containing the richest productions of Rubens, Vandyke, Jordaens, and a host of other great Flemish artists. As we entered, we saw, with interest, the chair of Rubens, which he used in his studio. It bears his name, and the date of 1638. It is in a glass case. Rubens has sixteen pictures here, of high character, and Vandyke several. We were all delighted with No. 215—a Dead Christ on a stone table, and the Virgin mourning at his side. No. 212 is a wonderful composition—Christ crucified between the Thieves. The look of the dying penitent at his Savior is not to be forgotten. The Magdalene of this picture is a creation of beauty indeed. I have purchased a fine engraving of this picture, and several others by Rubens, and I hope, by looking at them long, to retain the impression I had made on my mind as I gazed upon the originals. No. 221—the Trinity—is a profane and ungracious representation of a Dead Christ in the arms of a stern old man, who is intended for the Father. This picture is wonderfully fine, as regards the foreshortening of the dead body; and I never saw such an exhibition in this respect. No. 218—- Christ showing his Wounds to Thomas—is fine; but the picture has suffered from damp.
Quentin Matsys has several of his productions here, and we looked with interest at a fine Sir Thomas More, by Holbein; the Flight into Egypt, by Memling; Mater Dolorosa, by Albert Durer; and many interiors, by Flemish artists. I was greatly pleased with No. 382—the Death of Rubens, by Van Bree, who died in 1839. This is large, and I think a most effective picture. The two sons, the priest, the wife fainting, and the two scribes, are admirably disposed; and the open window, through which the cathedral spire is seen, seems to me exceedingly clever; but I fancy I admired it more than artists have done. On leaving this noble collection, we stopped at St. Andrew's Church to see a portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots, over a monument to the two Ladies Curl, one of whom waited on her at her execution at Fotheringay Castle. After dinner we sallied out to see the Exchange, or Bourse, and from which the first London one was copied. Of course, this gave it an interest to us, as we could fancy we saw the royal building in which Queen Bess made such a display, and of which Gresham had so much reason to be proud. It is a piazza of iron arches and granite pillars, surrounding a square two hundred feet long by one hundred and sixty wide. It was built in 1531.
On returning home, we accidentally met with Mr. Vesey, the American consul. He invited us to his drawing-room, and we had a very pleasant half hour. But when he found we were to leave next day, he insisted on taking us to the outskirts and showing us the citadel and fortifications. In a few minutes he had us in a carriage, and became our kind and efficient guide till the loss of daylight rendered it useless to look around. I think we shall never forget the very great attention and friendship which we all met with from this gentleman; and I was gratified to hear him say that here, in Europe, nothing seemed to interest him in relation to mere party strife at home; while the honor and union of the country seemed to him all and every thing. Mr. Vesey has a good library and some fine paintings. He is a man of taste, and marked by energy of character; and is just such a representative of his country as she needs at such points as Antwerp and other large cities.
I assure you we felt sorry to leave Antwerp; it is such a thoroughly fine old place, has so much of old Spanish history still bound up with its present aspect, and is so decidedly foreign in its appearance, language, &c. I have only time left to say a word about the docks of Antwerp, which were a favorite project of Napoleon Bonaparte. They were constructed at an enormous outlay; and the emperor expected to make this place the great rival of London. At the peace of 1814, the dock yards were demolished; but the great basins still exist, and are used for purposes of commerce. They are useful in winter, to preserve vessels from the ice which floats in the Scheldt.
It was a lovely morning when, having parted with our English friends, who proceeded to Bruges, we entered on board an iron steamer for a passage of about eight hours to Rotterdam. The boat was neat and clean, though small, and the cabin was adorned with baskets and pots of flowers of various kinds. The view of the city and its fortifications was fine, as the boat receded from the shore. On our way we passed Dort, one of the finest towns of Holland, and from appearances, I think, one of much trade. Its population is twenty thousand. Here, in 1618, was held the famous Synod of Dort, the great labor of which was to settle the claims of the rival systems of Calvin and Arminius. At this synod, Bishop Hall was a delegate from the English church; and he, good man, never dreamed of denying the validity of the ordination of his brethren in that council. We felt interested, as we sailed along this town, in remembering that here, in 1421, seventy-two villages and more than one hundred thousand persons were drowned by the incursion of water from the dike. The river stretches far away, and looks much like a lake.
If any one looks at the face of the country, he will at once understand why these regions have been termed the Low Countries. We passed, as you may see on the map, Gravendeel, Willeinstadt, and the far-famed fortress of Bergen op Zoom, which is one of the strongest places in Holland. You know that Antwerp stood a long siege in 1831, when it suffered severely; and, as we passed Fort St. Laurent, we were pointed out the spot where a most gallant occurrence happened at that time. A gun boat, belonging to Holland, got on shore, and the Belgians hastened to capture her, when her captain, a young man named Van Speyk, rushed into the magazine, put his cigar upon an open keg of powder, and, in the explosion, perished, with twenty-eight of his crew out of thirty-one. He was an orphan, who had been educated at Amsterdam. He has a fine monument next to Admiral De Ruyter's, and a fine ship of the Dutch navy bears his name. On board our boat we found two young gentlemen, of about fifteen or sixteen, belonging to Rotterdam, who were going home for vacation.. They are pupils at a boarding school in Brussels. They spoke English very well, and gave us a great deal of pleasing information. The dinner on the boat was very excellent. On reaching Rotterdam, we merely rode through it to take the cars for the Hague. It is a fine-looking town, has seventy-five thousand inhabitants, and some noble East Indiamen were lying at the wharves. Many of the houses were like those at Antwerp, and told a Spanish origin. I here noticed looking-glasses at the windows, so that any one in the parlor can see the reflection up and down the streets. I was glad to be able to see the bronze statue of Erasmus, who was born here in 1467. We were delayed by the absence of the authorities to sign our passports, but were in time to reach the ears, and then started for the Hague, which is thirteen miles from Rotterdam; and we were forty minutes on the way. The road is excellent. We passed through Delft, and here we could not fail to admire the gardens and country-houses. It was dark as we entered the town; and we took up our quarters at the Doelen, which is a name indicating that archers have resorted thither. Whoever goes to this house will be sure to do well. We obtained capital rooms. Early next morning we called on Mr. George Folsom, our charge d'affaires. This gentleman is an old friend of mine; and he gave us a most cordial welcome, taking entire possession of our party for the day. Mr. Folsom resides in very handsome style upon the Voorhout, the best street of the city, and which, like every other part of the place, is adorned with noble trees. It seems strange to call this place a city, it is so thoroughly rural in its appearance. It hardly shows like a town of sixty-five thousand people on account of being concealed in shrubbery, cut up by canals, and overshadowed with forest-trees.
Very early in the day we were kindly provided with carriages, and taken to Scheveningen, a village about three miles off. Our road lay through a fine avenue of trees. This is a great fishing-place, and a great watering-place. It has a large hotel, which we went to for lunch. It is the great rendezvous of the fashionable part of society in Germany during the heat of summer. We could not help drawing a contrast between Scheveningen and Newport, and not much to the advantage of the Dutch beach. This spot has some celebrity, as the port whence Charles II. embarked for England at his restoration. On our way back we saw the residence of the queen dowager, sister to the Emperor of Russia, and of whom Mr. Folsom speaks highly, as a very excellent and sensible lady. Mrs. Folsom and the ladies of our party had visited the queen the day before. The house looked quite snug, and very unpretending. On returning, we at once repaired to the Museum, which is supposed to be, in many respects, the finest in Europe. Here, too, is the famous picture gallery, in which are the best productions of the Flemish and Dutch schools. You are aware that Holland has had extensive trade with China and Japan, through her colonies; hence the richness of this museum, which, so far as Japan is concerned, is unrivalled. I have a catalogue of this wonderful collection, and to that I must refer you; for, as to description of what I saw, it would be impossible to tell you a hundredth part. The Oriental curiosities are very rich and fine. A plan of Jeddo, the capital of Japan, is very curious—made by natives. The historical treasures are rich and numerous. Here we saw the armor of De Ruyter, and that of Van Tromp, well scored with bullets; the sword of Van Speyk; a part of Czar Peter's bed; the dress of William of Orange when he was murdered at Delft; the pistol and bullets by which he fell, &c., &c. We all expected much pleasure from the gallery of paintings, and I believe we experienced no disappointment; and how could we, with such treasures of art and genius? Here we noticed with most interest Rembrandt's Surgeon and Pupils dissecting a dead Body. This is No. 127. The body is admirable, and the legs are thrown into shadow. The portraits are lifelike. The portraits of Rembrandt's wives are fine specimens of coloring. No. 123 is the world-renowned Bull, by Paul Potter. The glory of this work is its minute adherence to nature. The leaves and plants, and every appearance of vegetation, impresses the spectator with the idea of reality. This was carried off to the Louvre, although the Dutch offered twenty thousand pounds sterling to redeem it. I liked the pictures of De Ruyter and Van Tromp; but the treat of all to me was the show of small Dutch pictures, by Gerard Dow, thirty-five in number; a Battle Field and Hay Cart, by Wouvermans, and many others from his studio; Flight into Egypt, by Vanderwerp; Fruits and Flowers, by Breughels; Interiors of Cottages, by A.V. Ostades; a Kitchen, by Teniers; and a very large Hunting-piece by Snyders, whom I greatly admire. As to portraits, they are in any number, and some are very fine. One of Laurence Coster, by Durer, is curious.
We went to see the late King's Palace, and here we found only the relics of the splendid gallery which was once to be seen. An auction had recently disposed of more than half the paintings. The late monarch was a man of taste, but had sadly involved himself in its gratification. Many of the paintings here are exceedingly fine, and will be disposed of in a public sale next October. After leaving this palace, we went with Mr. Folsom to see the Brimenhoff. This is the place where the Dutch parliament meets. We went into the second chamber and heard the debates, which were not very edifying. The appearance of the members was very much like that of a New England assembly of legislators.
The fine Gothic Hall here is said to be the oldest building in the city. It was on a scaffolding in front of it that Barneveldt, the grand pensionary of Holland, was beheaded, in 1618, at the age of seventy-two. We also saw the gateway of the tower in which Cornelius De Witt was confined, in 1672, on the ridiculous charge of conspiracy against the Prince of Orange. The populace feared his acquittal, and they by a manoeuvre induced his brother John De Witt, the grand pensionary, to visit him in prison. They then broke in, dragged them forth, and tore them to pieces under the gateway. We went to look at De Witt's residence, which is plain and unpretending.
I do wish you could have been with us in our ride through the Bosch, a fine park of forest-trees near to the town. The forest never looked more pleasant to me than here. May is a sweet month, and especially when, with all her verdant beauty, she is just about to rush into the arms of June. We all talked of you in the charming drive, and Mr. Folsom made kind inquiries after you. On reaching home, we went with our kind guide to see the house which was occupied by John Adams when he was at this court negotiating a treaty with Holland in aid of our independence.
We are to spend to-morrow and next day at Harlem, on our way to Amsterdam; and the boys will tell you what we see there.
In order that we might enjoy an opportunity to hear the great organ at Harlem to advantage, Mr. Folsom advised us to spend a Sabbath day there, which we did, in company with his family. We took the rail to Leyden, ten miles. Here we saw the Dunes, or Sand Hills, which guard the Dutch coast, and which are from one to four miles in width, and are from thirty to fifty feet high. These immense piles would soon be scattered by the strong winds if they were not regularly sown with reed grass, the roots of which often spread from twenty to thirty feet, binding the banks, and the decayed vegetation furnishing good soil for potatoes. The existence of Holland and its population is only insured by perpetual strife maintained against the sea and winds of heaven. We could not look at Leyden and forget that the Pilgrim Fathers of New England were once exiles at this place. They called it a "goodly and pleasant city," and here they spent twelve years; and we looked at the scenery with interest as we thought of their wanderings, and how much preparation was expended in establishing the glorious foundations of our own New England. The city has about forty thousand inhabitants. Its University is still famous, and the hall of the institution is rich in portraits of the great and good. The Museum of Natural History is very large, and is quite curious in Oriental and Egyptian relics. In Japanese curiosities, the Dutch museums are far more affluent than any others of Europe, as they maintain almost exclusive traffic with Japan.
The history of Leyden is very interesting. In 1573-4, this town suffered an awful siege from the Spaniards for four months, and lost more than five thousand inhabitants by war and famine. At last the elements conspired in their favor, and an incursion of the sea destroyed the Spaniards and brought succor to the Dutch. Rembrandt the painter was born at Leyden, in a wind mill. By the way, there are literally thousands of wind mills in this country, and some of them are very pretty objects. The sails of these mills are immensely large, and I think I saw some that were quite one hundred feet long. Many of the best men of England have studied at Leyden; and if you read the lives of Evelyn and Goldsmith, you will find they were much attached to this place. Boerhaave, the great physician, was a professor here, and go were Arminius and his rival Gomarus. Gerard Dow or Douw, Jan Steen, and Vandervelde, the artists, were born here. Near Leyden the Rhine enters the sea, by the aid of a canal and sluice gates; and here are great salt works, carried on by evaporation. From Leyden we took the rail to Harlem, eighteen miles; and we found the road very good, and the first-class cars perfectly luxurious. We noticed on our right hand the Warmond Catholic Seminary for Popish priests, and saw the young men in large numbers, walking about. The road runs through a sandy tract of country, and much of it is made land. Approaching Harlem, we found the cottages and country-houses very numerous and exceedingly pretty; and we were pointed to the castle of the unfortunate Jacqueline, whose history, you know, has been so charmingly written by our friend Mr. T.C. Grattan. We made our home at the Golden Lion, and found the place comfortable and very thoroughly Dutch. The landlady is a brisk, bustling body, and speaks English tolerably well. Harlem has about twenty-fire thousand inhabitants. On Sunday morning we went to the Church of St. Bavon. We found a large congregation, and they sung most heartily. The dominie had a cocked hat hanging up behind him in the pulpit; and he was, beyond doubt, a very eloquent man. The great organ, built in 1738, was long deemed the organ of Europe, but is now supposed to be excelled at Friburg. We heard it during service several times, and in a voluntary. It unquestionably is an instrument of great sweetness as well as power. It has five thousand pipes. The church is lofty, and looks plain enough after what we have seen in Antwerp. Of course, we went to see the statue of Coster, who is said to have been the inventor of printing in 1420-28, twelve years before Guttemberg made his experiments. The Dutch are strong advocates for their inventor; but I think evidence in favor of metal type lies with the man of Mayence.
You may be sure that, when we were so fortunate as to be here early in June, we did not fail to go into the nurseries and gardens, and see the hyacinths, tulips, narcissuses, anemones, ranunculuses, &c. We went to the extensive grounds of Mr. Krelage, the first florist of Holland, No. 146 Kleine Houtweg; and here we were greatly delighted. The tulips were exceedingly fine, and under cover they receive as much attention as if they were babies. The hyacinths surpassed in beauty and variety any thing we are accustomed to. I noticed a double blue, called Gloria Mundi; Van Speyk, L'Importante, same color; Goethe, double yellow; L'Eclair, crimson; and Emicus, white, which were particularly beautiful. But we were all, perhaps, most pleased with the extensive beds of anemones and ranunculuses, which rarely do well in our hot climate, and here flourish in a humid atmosphere. Certainly they are the prettiest flowers I ever saw; but they lack perfume. Here we saw them by thousands. The exquisite order and condition of these large gardens pleased us much. The young gentleman who kindly devoted three hours to us spoke English well, and was very courteous and attentive. I have brought away a catalogue of the flowers, with the prices. The soil of Harlem is every where a deep sand, and every thing appears to flourish.
The vicinage of this place is very pleasant; and we rode for two hours through a noble wood, fringed with sweet villas, and made a visit to a palace built by the great banker, Hope, of Amsterdam, and which was the residence of King Louis Bonaparte. It is now a picture gallery, and contains some good historical pictures, and many fine small ones, of the best artists of Holland. I think the boys forgot to tell you that, at the Hague, we found the annual exhibition of paintings by the living artists of Holland, just opened, and the treat was very great. It is quite clear that the art is not lost here, and that rare excellence is still to be found among the Dutch painters. We were all delighted with a picture of Charles IX. of France, and his surgeon, Ambrose Pare. The time is just before the Bartholomew massacre; and Catharine is in the room, plotting with her wretched son. Some of the portraits were remarkable productions, and evince a power rarely seen in this department. Some of the interiors of houses and churches were quite in the style of Ostade, Neefs, and Gerard Dow. A picture of the Virgin, and Jesus and John, by Schwartze, of Amsterdam, received general praise. Of this artist I shall have more to say.
The great Lake of Harlem, which is thirty miles in circumference, is to be drained; and for several years operations have been in progress to this end. The immense works employed for this purpose are worthy of notice.
After leaving Harlem, and taking leave of our kind friend the minister at the Hague, with his amiable family, we again entered the cars, and, after riding twelve miles, reached Amsterdam. The chief feature on the way was the everlasting wind mill, employed here to grind wheat, &c. We went to the Hotel Doelen, and found it all that Mr. Folsom had said. This is a great city, of two hundred and twenty-five thousand inhabitants. The canals are immense affairs, and the ships and vessels of all sorts give it a very active appearance. All round the city is a wide fosse; and there are four great canals inside, with many minor cuts. Some of these canals are more than one hundred and twenty-five feet wide, and are edged with very fine houses; and the intercourse of the city is kept up by some two hundred and fifty bridges. The city is about eight miles round. Every one seems actively employed.
The next morning after reaching this fine, but queer city, we called on the American consul, and he gave us a very friendly reception. He is quite a young man, but seems to be full of energy. At his house we met a Mr. J. G. Schwartze, a native of Philadelphia, but who came to Holland very young, and has made this city his residence. He is highly distinguished as an artist; and we saw a fine production of his at the exhibition at the Hague. Mr. Schwartze is a charming companion—full of enthusiasm; and when he found that I was fond of pictures, he at once volunteered to be our guide to the galleries here; and in all our movements here our kind friend has been with us. The most imposing building here is the Stadhuis, or Palace. It was finished in 1655, and used to be the seat of the town councils. Louis Bonaparte used it as his residence; and the king occupies it when he comes here. The marble hall is esteemed one of the noblest rooms in Europe, and is one hundred and twenty feet long, fifty-seven wide, and nearly one hundred feet high. From the top of this building you get a capital view of the town, cut up into artificial islands by the intersection of canals, &c. In this building is much fine statuary, and a few historical paintings.
The churches are large, but look barn-like. The organ of the old church is very rich in its decorations; and here, as at Harlem, men sit in church with their hats on, if they choose. The clergy wear a short, black cloak, and deep white ruffs on the neck. The Jews are quite numerous, and have several synagogues. They live mostly in one part of the city. I do not think we shall any of us forget our visit to the picture gallery at Amsterdam. Our attention was directed by Mr. S. to the best paintings, and the particular merits of the artists were kindly explained to us. The sight of a great picture is an event; and I think that the day on which I first saw Rembrandt's Night Watch will long be regarded by me with pleasurable feelings. It is a company of archers, who are going out with their captain. The lights and shades are wonderfully introduced. The City Guards of Amsterdam, by Vanderhelst, is a large picture, with twenty-five portraits, and is esteemed as the finest portrait picture in the world. But my favorite here is a small picture called the Night School, by Gerard Dow. I would cheerfully go a hundred miles on foot to see such a picture. The management of the lights upon the interior and figures is beyond any thing I have imagined. His Hermit and Crucifix is another gem. The picture of Officers plundered by Peasants, by Wouvermans, and several landscapes of his, are still in my mind's eye; and several pictures by the two Ostades, Teniers, and Both are quite sufficient to make me understand how it is that some men have found such fascination in collecting a gallery. The best specimens of Jan Steen are in this city, and his Fete of St. Nicholas would take wonderfully well with our good old Knickerbockers at home. A Landscape, with cattle and figures, by Albert Cuyp, is strikingly beautiful; and how I wish you could see a Fat Boy, the son of a burgomaster, by Bartholomew Helst, dated 1648. Vandyke, whose portraits have never been equalled, has some of his best in this museum; and his Burgomaster of Antwerp, Vander Brocht, is as bold a picture as you could wish to gaze at.
Hondekoeter's flowers and fruits, and Snyder's game pieces, are among the best of their kind in the world. Some of the finest things I have seen in Holland, in the way of painting, are the little gems descriptive of life as it lay about the artist—interiors of domestic abodes, and out-door scenes at the roadside. These, the patient, plodding Dutchmen have worked up most elaborately. One or two of Nicholas Maes's pictures are wonderful. I saw one in a private collection, and it was a glorious thing, though only a Kitchen, with two or three figures. O, how poor are the things we often hear spoken of as fine pictures! The eye, it seems to me, obtains its education rapidly in such a gallery as this. I am sure I shall look at works of art in future with new feelings.
There was a most beautiful Jew boy, about eleven years old, that used to stand at our hotel door to sell matches, who regularly beset us with his wares. His face was as striking as any fancy picture you can meet with, and his beauty and impudence made him a pretty successful merchant.
Mr. Schwartze took us to a noble mansion belonging to a merchant prince, to see his great picture of Columbus before the Council explaining his theory. This is a first-class execution. The coloring is very fine, and the drawing good; and we all felt pride in seeing such a picture from the easel of our countryman. I wish we had some good painting of his in America. His portraits are excellent, and one of his wife has earned him his high reputation in Holland. Through the kindness of this gentleman we were introduced to the Artists' Club, and spent our evenings there in very pleasant society. The artists belonging to it are probably about fifty, and the other gentlemen who mainly support it are about two hundred. I was much surprised to find nearly every gentleman we were introduced to speaking excellent English. We met here a very gentlemanly and accomplished lawyer, Mr. Van Lennep, whose father is a man of great wealth. His attentions were very friendly. While here, James was quite poorly with some slight attack of fever; and both our friends and the consul were unremitting in their services.
The water is very poor; rain water is valuable indeed. The best drinking water is brought from Utrecht in stone demijohns. The bad water is often used, however, flavored with Schiedam. We saw several of the floating-houses, in which whole families reside, and carry articles from place to place. The herring fishery, in its season, is a great matter in the commerce of Amsterdam. Every thing here impresses the stranger with the idea of activity, wealth, and great comfort; and I fancy that a person would very soon become attached to the city as a place of residence. To-morrow, if James is better, we resume our journey, and start for Cologne.
We are strangely favored with weather; every day is fine; and we begin to think that the climate has been abused, for we have had an uninterrupted spell of bright, sunny weather. We started, after breakfast, for our journey to Cologne, and took the oars for Utrecht, which is twenty-three miles from Amsterdam. Our road was not one of much interest, beyond the pretty gardens of the suburban residences. Breukelen and Maarsen we thought pleasant little places. Utrecht is a large town, and has, I think, nearly sixty thousand inhabitants; and of these, one half are Catholics. It is rather on an ascent, and so is unlike any other place we have seen in Holland. The place is famous for the treaty of 1713. Here is a university, and some very fine private residences; and the fortifications have been laid out in fine walks. The Mall, or public walk, is a noble avenue of trees,—limes, I think,—and they are in six or eight rows. In this place is a cathedral, which we only saw. From its tower is the best view of the country; and it is said you can see more than twenty towns from it.
From Utrecht we continued, by railroad, to Arnheim, a distance of thirty-three miles; and we saw more forest-trees than we had before noticed. In the cars were several Catholic priests, who smoked incessantly. Arnheim is on the banks of the Rhine, and is a pretty little place, of about sixteen thousand inhabitants. We were, of course, reminded by Dr. C. that here Sir Philip Sidney died, in 1586, of his wound received in the battle of Zutphen. The entire vicinity seemed to us a delightful spot, and we have seen no place where the houses appear so English and American. The scenery is very attractive; and we would have liked to stay over a day, but the steamer for Ruhrort was ready to start, and we had only time to get our tickets and go on board. We found a neat, comfortable boat, and met pleasant society. The Rhine here is bounded by flat shores, and has no points of interest, and affords no promise of what it is so soon to be. We entered Prussia at Lobith, and had a very thorough examination of our trunks by officers who came on board. At Wesel—a town, I think, of some twelve thousand inhabitants, and having a very strong fortress—we stopped half an hour, and a crowd came round the boat. Rapin, who wrote the History of England, lived here while engaged in the task. How singular it is that all the histories of England, of any note, have been written by men not born in England! They have been French, Scotch, Irish, &c. We reached Ruhrort in the afternoon, and left the boat. This is the great central depot where the coal of the Ruhr is deposited. Here we crossed in a ferry boat, rode a mile or two in an omnibus, and then took the cars for Cologne, after waiting some hour or two, in consequence of a delay—the first we have met with on any railroad on the continent. It was dark when we passed through Dusseldorf; and we felt sorry not to stay here and see the water-color drawings that remain in this collection, once so famous; but we were told at Paris that the best of the drawings and pictures have gone to Munich. In the cars we met a gentleman and his lady who were evidently Americans. We entered into conversation, and found they were from Nashville, Tennessee. They bad been travelling very extensively in Europe, and had been through Egypt, crossed the desert, and visited Syria and the Holy City. I quite respected a lady, Charley, who had travelled hundreds of miles upon a camel. The journey had been very beneficial to her health. We reached Cologne at about ten o'clock, after crossing over a bridge of boats fourteen hundred feet long, and went to the Hotel Holland, on the banks of the river, and found it a very good house, with a grand view of the Rhine; and the chambers are as good as can be desired. Few places are more fruitful in the reminiscences which they furnish than this old city. Cologne has a Roman origin, and was settled by a colony sent by Nero and his mother, who was born here, in her father's camp, during the war. It still retains the walls of its early fortifications, built as long ago as the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In Cologne Caxton lived, in 1470, and learnt the new art of printing, which he carried to England and introduced there. Its present population is about ninety thousand, having increased latterly, and, no doubt, will rapidly increase, in consequence of its connection with Paris, Strasburg, Berlin, Antwerp, and other cities, by railroads.
We turned our steps very early to the Cathedral, and here we expected nothing less than a treat; but much as we had heard of it, and often as the doctor had described it, we found it far beyond all our anticipations. The church was commenced in 1248, and is still far from completed. It is always thought to be one of the grandest Gothic piles in the world. The name of the architect is not known. Gerhard is the earliest builder whose name is associated with this church, in 1252. The plan was to build the two towers five hundred feet high; but the loftiest has only attained the height of about one hundred and eighty-five feet. Much of the external work is in decay; but great pains and cost have been given to repair the stone work, and the work is going on with vigor and success. It is supposed that it will require three millions of dollars to carry out the design. The form of the church is a cross, and "the arches are supported by a quadruple row of sixty-four columns; and, including those of the portico, there are more than one hundred. The four columns in the middle are thirty feet in circumference, and each of the one hundred columns is surmounted by a chapiter different from the others." On one tower still exists the old crane which raised the stones that came from Drachenfels. The only part of the cathedral yet finished is the choir. This is one hundred and sixty-one feet high; and, whether you look at it outside, or gaze on its interior, you are lost in admiration. The stained windows are really beyond all others I have seen. All round the choir stand colossal statues of the Apostles, the Virgin, and the Savior. In a chapel not far from the altar is the renowned shrine of the Three Kings, or Magi, who came from the East with gifts to the infant Savior. These bones once rested at Milan; but Frederic Barbarossa, in 1162, gave them to an archbishop of Cologne. So here they are in a case, silver gilt, and arcades on pillars all round; and, inside the pillars, little gold prophets and apostles. The jewelry at this shrine has been formerly valued at six millions of francs; but in some of its transportations in troublous times, it has met with spoliations; but it is still radiant with gold and pearls, and gems of all descriptions. The restoration of the shrine is going on, and costly offerings are frequently made in aid of the undertaking. The skulls of these worthies are crowned with gold, and look ghastly enough, in spite of diamonds and rubies. Their names are Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. We paid a heavy fee to see the rare show; but it is well enough to understand the mummery that there is in the world. We went the entire round of the little chapels, and saw some fine monuments to the great ones of church and state. I was much pleased with a bronze statue of Archbishop Conrad, of Hocksteden, who died in 1261, and some exceedingly old paintings. We also saw the library and sacristy, and the sacred vestments, some of which were splendid enough. Here we saw a bone of St. Matthew some saint's shrine in silver, and the state cross of the archbishop, with several of the very finest ivory carvings that we have fallen in with. A look at the vast workshop where the stone carvings for restoration are made was quite interesting.
While wandering through the aisles of the Cathedral, we met with a very pleasant family from New York; and, after introduction, we agreed to make the passage of the Rhine together; and, as there are young people in the party, this will be very agreeable to us. We have rather a limited time to pass here, and so have concluded to neglect the Virgin's bones, at St. Ursula's Church, of which we have read all the legends. Men and women trained up to worship these odds and ends are the people who are flocking by thousands to our country; and there is a great deal for such folks to learn before they will value and understand our privileges. We next turned our steps to St. Peter's Church, where Rubens was baptized; and we saw the brass font, which is still there, and also his father's tomb. It was to this church that the great painter presented his famous Crucifixion of Peter, which he thought the best he ever painted; but artists differ with him in this estimate. The picture now exposed to view is only a copy, which was made in Paris when the original was in the Louvre; but the man in charge turns the picture, which is on a pivot, and you have the original before you. Peter's head is very fine, and much more striking than the rest of the body. The little garden in the cloisters of this church is very sweet, and there are some good bits of sculpture. The beautiful Church of the Apostles we could not see, excepting outside, and its appearance is quite singular. The styles of architecture I thought strangely mixed up. Of course, we got some cologne water at the genuine fountain head in Julich's Place; and in the evening we made an examination of a curiosity shop, where we found a fine old engraving of Rubens's head, and two excellent engravings of Ostades's interiors. They are gems in their way, and, though very old, are perfect. We saw the house where the unfortunate Queen of France died, in 1644, respecting whose last days so interesting a fiction has been written; and we were told that it was also the very house in which Rubens was born. At all events, it is a very plain establishment for such celebrity as it possesses. We have also seen a military review here; but the discipline was poor, and only the music good.
A gentleman here from America, engaged in the wine trade, has amused us all by his facts in relation to champagne, which is here manufactured in large quantities, and is fabricated from a mixture of some ten or twelve different wines. A very superior brand is the result, which the good people of America will pay well for, with an appropriate brand duly furnished to order.
On the roof of our hotel is a sort of room, or garden, called the Belvedere. In it are a variety of fine plants, in healthy condition. The roses were very fragrant. The view across the river from this place is charming; and the village of Deutz looks prettily, with its large hotel and plenty of smaller houses of resort. To-morrow we go up the Rhine; and we are all hoping for a fine day, and then we expect a pleasant one.
It was on the Rhine that we all wanted you with us, and other friends, too, who were far away. This is no common, every-day stream, but one whose name and renown have been associated with ten thousand pages of history, song, and legend. We have read of the Rhine, listened to its songs, drank its wines, dreamed of its craggy, castled banks,—and at last we found ourselves upon its waters, rushing down from their homes in Alpine steeps and regions of eternal snow. The deposits of this river have made Holland what she is; and the rich plains of the Low Countries have been formed by the alluvial deposits of this noble river. The enthusiasm of the Germans towards this stream is well known. They call it Father Rhine, and King Rhine; and well may they be proud of its beauty and its historic fame. We took our passage in a fine steamer, on a lovely morning, and it took us about eight hours to reach Coblentz. Leaving Cologne, we passed an old tower on the edge of the river, and, for some miles, the prospect was every day enough; and it was not till we approached Bonn that we were much impressed with the banks. We passed several villages, which appeared to have pleasant localities. I name only Surdt, Urfel, Lulsdorf, and Alfter. Bonn is an old city, of Roman date, and has figured largely in the wars of the Rhine. Its population is about sixteen thousand. Bonn has a minster, which shows itself finely to the voyager on the river, and is a Gothic structure of the twelfth century. The University here is famous for its library, and the great names formerly associated with this institution—Schlegel and Niebuhr. Both filled chairs in the college. Prince Albert was educated at this place. Beethoven was born here. If we could have spent a day at the Seven Mountains, I should have been glad; but we were only able to look at them. They vary in height from one thousand and fifty to fourteen hundred and fifty-three feet. The most picturesque of the group is Drachenfels; and the beautiful lines of Byron you will recollect, where he speaks of "the castled crag of Drachenfels." From this place the stone was taken for the Cathedral at Cologne. The summits of these seven mountains are crested with ruined castles. Their sides are well wooded, and around them are spread fruitful vineyards. You know how famous they are in the legendary lore of the Rhine. The view from Drachenfels is said to be one of the finest on the river. After leaving Bonn and the ruins of Godesberg, we soon came to Rolandseck, a lofty eminence, where are the remains of a baronial fortress and a celebrated ruin of an arch. I should judge that the access to this place was by a charming road. The ruins of Rolandseck are immortalized by the ballad of Schiller. Tradition relates that the castle was destroyed by the Emperor Henry V., in the twelfth century. At the foot of the mountain is the sweet little Island of Nonnenwoerth, of about one hundred acres, and the ruins of a convent. The rock here is basaltic, and the production of volcanic action. Never did Nature present a fairer picture than we gazed upon at this spot. The villages around are pictures of happiness and content, and the scenery such as only the Rhine can exhibit. Passing by the charming, rural-looking Oberwinter, we soon came upon a woody height, where stands the Gothic Church of St. Apollinarisberg. Here is, or was, the saint's head; and it was formerly a shrine of great resort. Close by is the little tower Of Remagen, and opposite are basaltic rocky heights of six or eight hundred feet, on the sides of which are vineyards—the vines growing in baskets filled with earth and placed in the crevices of the rocks. No square foot of soil seems to be wasted; and, to improve the ground, you will find the plots for vines laid out like potato patches,—some running this way, and others that,—making the sides of the hills and banks look very much like basket work.
We now came, on our left hand, to the ruins of Okenfels and the pretty town of Linz. The ruins are very dark, and look as if they were past redemption; whereas, some of these castles retain fine outlines. The red roofs of the town are in pleasing contrast with the green woods. This town seemed quite a business place; and I noticed several sloops and queer-looking vessels at the piers. On the opposite side the Aar falls into the Rhine. Just back is a town called Sinzig, and story tells that here Constantine and Maxentius fought the battle which resulted in the downfall of paganism. Here it was that, the evening previous, Constantine saw in the heavens the figure of a cross, with the inscription, [Greek: "En touto nika."] But other legends give the battle place on the banks of the Tiber.
We were all pleased with a beautiful, modern, castellated building, erected out of the ruins of an ancient castle, of which a single venerable tower remains at a small distance. The name is the Castle of Reineck. It was built for Professor Bethman Holweg, of Bonn, and he reads his lines in pleasant places. It must have cost much money to rear such an edifice. Nearly opposite are the ruins of Hammerstein Castle, where, in 1105, Henry IV. found an asylum. We next came to Andernach. This is an ancient city, and here you see towers and ruins standing amidst a wide amphitheatre of basaltic mountains. The place is spoken of by various old historians, and under several names. The great trade of the place is in millstones, which find their way even to America. Here is a celebrated Roman arched gate; but the lancet form would indicate a later date. On our left, we came to a pleasantly-situated town, called Neuwied, with some five thousand inhabitants. The streets lie wide; the houses looked bright, and very much like those in an American town. Here is a Moravian settlement. On our right is a cheerful little place, called Weisenthurm, and an ancient tower stands near it. It is said that here the Romans first made the crossing of this river. This was the spot where General Hoch passed in 1797; and on a height, at this village, is a monument to celebrate Hoch's achievement. Here we met with an enormous raft; and I assure you, Charley, it was a sight. We had seen two or three small ones before, but here was a monster. These rafts come from the woods on the tributary rivers—the Moselle, Neckar, Maine, &c. These prodigious flotillas are bound to Dordrecht, and are there broken up. This one looked like a town. It had at least twenty-five huts, and some of them tolerably large shanties; and I should think there were all of three hundred and fifty persons upon it. On the raft were women, children, cows, pigs, and sheep. This one was thought to be seven hundred feet long and two hundred wide, at the least. On our left, as we ascended the river, we now saw Sain and Muehlhofen, just at the point where two small rivers enter the Rhine; and on a hill top are the ruins of a castle of the Counts of Sain. Farther up is the quiet-looking hamlet of Engers; and we pass the islands of Niederwoerth and Graswoerth. On the former is a ruined convent, founded in 1242, and a population of nearly seven hundred. They seem to have a fine old church. I very much admired the village of Kesselhein, and I think it must be a charming spot. Close by it is the Palace of Schoenbornhest, where the Bourbon family retreated at the revolution in the last century. It is now sadly dilapidated. Just as we were looking at Nuendorf, on our right, we were all called, by a bend in the river, to gaze on the giant rock of Ehrenbreitstein, bristling to its very summit with fortifications. O, how it towers up, and smiles or frowns—which you please—upon Coblentz, sweetly reposing on the banks of the Rhine and the Moselle! I think the view from the deck of the steamer, up and down the river, and on each side, is the noblest panoramic view that I have seen. Just before us is a bridge of boats, which connects the fortress with Coblentz; and, looking up the Moselle, is a fine stone bridge. We had our dinner on the deck of the boat—a good arrangement, because we lost none of the scenery. This dinner was about midway between Cologne and Coblentz; and it would have amused you to have noticed the order of the various courses—soup, boiled beef, raw fish, ducks, roast pork, fowls, pudding, baked fish, roast beef, and mutton. Every thing was well cooked, and I never saw people appear more disposed to do justice to a meal. There was not half the hurry and indecorum that you so often see in an American boat. One thing I observed—and that was, that no one used the left hand for the management of his knife. If any thing annoys me, it is to see persons carve and eat at table with this wretched habit. I always imagine that they were so unhappy as to have grown up without father or mother to watch over them. This may be my weakness; but I cannot help it. We went to the Trois Suisses, a fine house on the river bank, and from our windows are looking, by moonlight, on the glorious fortress.
We had no more pleasant day in our excursion than from Cologne to Coblentz. It would be long before I grew tired of the scenery at that fine old place. We walked about, in the evening, with our New York friends; and, though some parts of Coblentz are very filthy, there are some exquisite plots in it, and all the vicinage is beautiful. We took a pleasant stroll to the bridge which spans the blue Moselle with fourteen arches. The city stands on a point of land formed by the two rivers, and hence was known to the Romans by the name of Confluentes. Drusus fortified this place and Ehrenbreitstein thirteen years before Christ. Its population is short of twenty thousand; but there are also four thousand five hundred Prussian troops at the fortress. This is one of the strongest military posts in Europe. Its fortifications have been the labor of long years; and the works here, united with those across the river, are deemed impregnable. I believe Ehrenbreitstein is called the Gibraltar of Germany. It mounts four hundred cannon, and the magazines will contain provisions for eight thousand men for ten years. The former Electoral Palace is now the Government House, and presents a very noble appearance from the river. It is either stone, or stuccoed, with an Ionic portico; and, with its wings, is five hundred and forty feet front. All round this city, the heights are strongly fortified; and, look where you may, you see means of defence.
We here determined upon an excursion to Stolzenfels, which is about four miles from Coblentz, and our party went in two carriages—the family of Mr. B. in one, and ourselves in the other. The ride was very pleasant along the banks of the Rhine, and through orchards and vineyards—the heights towering away over us all the way. We came to the village of Capellen, which is a poor little hamlet at the base of the lofty mountain on which stood the noble ruins of Stolzenfels Castle, which has been most admirably restored, and is now the summer palace of the King of Prussia. The ascent is very steep, but the road is admirable. Carriages are not allowed to go up, and travellers are supplied with donkeys, of which we found plenty in waiting. Our party all obtained these patient beasts of burden, and I assure you that we made a funny cavalcade. I do think it would have amused you to see ladies, gentlemen, and boys, all escorted by ragged urchins, mounting the hill. The road has been made at immense expense, and winds along in the most romantic manner—giving you, at every turn, the finest views and catches of the river, up and down; while the walls are frequently at the edges of precipices, from fifty to two hundred feet over the ravines below. The woods were in all their glory, and I never saw a finer day. On arriving at the castle, we rang a bell, and the servant in livery appeared—a fine, civil fellow he was. On entering, we were all furnished with felt slippers, so that, in walking through the apartments, we might not injure the polished oak floors. This castle was the residence of Archbishop Werner, who, at the close of the fourteenth century, was devoted to alchemy. The old tower is an immense affair, and still remains, and is likely to remain for ages. The new parts of the palace have all been restored with constant reference to the original architectural style. We wandered from one apartment to another, perhaps going into twenty or thirty apartments, none of which were very large, and many of them quite small and cosy. We saw the bed-room of the king. Every thing was plain, and the furniture generally made of oak or black walnut. His study table had pen and ink and paper upon it, just as if he had stepped out of the room. The queen's apartments were very elegantly plain, and her oratory is as pretty a little thing as you can imagine. In all these apartments are fine pictures, and one is superbly frescoed with allegory and history. The room in which the Queen of England and Prince Albert lodged, in 1845, was shown us, and the state bed was still in it. The dining hall was finely ornamented with carvings, old armor, &c. But a room devoted to antiquities pleased us the best of all. Here were cups, bottles, and glass goblets of the earliest dates,—some as far back as the twelfth and thirteenth centuries,—which had belonged to emperors and electors whom I cannot recollect, they were so many. On the walls were the most precious mementoes; and here we saw the swords of Marshal Tilly, Napoleon Bonaparte,—the one used at Waterloo,—Blucher, and Murat, and the knife and fork belonging to the brave Hofer, the Tyrolese patriot, who was shot at Mantua. From all the windows of this gem of a palace we had the finest views of the river, and could see, from the gateway and platform, Coblentz, Ehrenbreitstein, and eleven different ruins of castles and convents. Directly in front of us, on a bend of the river, almost making a peninsula, was Lahnstein and its ruined castle; off to its right, Braubach, and the Castle of Marksburg and Martin's Chapel; and, on our own side, the pretty village of Rheus, where was once "the royal seat," and where the electors of the Rhine used to meet, to elect or depose the emperors of Germany. All round the castle of Stolzenfels are the choicest flowers and shrubs; and I wish some of my horticultural friends could have seen the moss roses and fuchias in such luxuriance. We were sorry to leave the place; but the steamboat on the Rhine is as punctual as a North River boat; and we had to resume our donkeys, descend to the carriages, drive briskly, and were just in time to get on board a boat bound to Mayence. In going up the river, we saw the palace again to great advantage; and, whatever else I forget, this locality I shall keep in memory, I assure you. We again looked at Lahnstein, and the ruins of St. John's Church, built in 1100, and saw a curious ferry, from the mouth of the Lahn over to Stolzenfels. It is made by five or six boats anchored off, and the ferry boat goes over, wafted by the tide. We then came upon Bopart, an old place, but strongly fortified, and having three or four thousand inhabitants. A gentleman on board, who had been there, said it was quite an interesting place. Nearly opposite we were delighted with the ruined towers of the Brothers, as Sternberg and Liebenstein are called. They occupy the two summits of a rock, every inch of whose sides is sacred to vines. The story of the brothers who lived here you are acquainted with. Our next point of interest was the ruin of Thurnberg, or the Mouse; while not far above is another, called the Cat. The view here grows more sublime, and the river grows narrower; and we had a fine prospect of Rheinfels and the town of St. Goar. Rheinfels grows up from the river's edge, and is, indeed, the rock of the Rhine. The fortifications were immense, and this is the most wonderful ruin on the river. A confederacy of German and Rhenish cities broke up this fortress at the close of the thirteenth century, and long afterwards it was made a modern defence. Here the river seems pent up, almost; and just above St. Goar there rises from the water a lofty precipice, called the Lurley Rock. Nearly opposite, a man lives, who, when the boat passes, fires a pistol, and a very singular echo follows, as we can testify. Not far above are seven rocks, seen at low water, called the Seven Sisters. The legend says that they were hard-hearted girls,—the Ladies Schonberg,—who trifled with the affections of nice young men, and so got their deserts by being turned into stones. Still, at the right, we came to Oberwesel, and we all thought it among the sweetest spots of the river. Salmon are caught in nets here, from the rocks. A bend in the river shows us Schonberg, a fine ruin. This was the family spot whence the Marshal Schomberg, of the Boyne, originated. Just over the river is the noble Gutenfels. It was spared by the French, and occupied till 1807, but is now roofless. Caub, on the left, is the place where Marshal Blucher crossed the river with his army, January 1, 1814. In the centre of the river is a castle called Pfalz, built about 1320, which was used as a toll-house by the Duke of Nassau. I think it has been used as a state prison. On our right lies Bacharach, with its many towers, and the fine old ruins of Stahleck Castle. Off this place is a large rock, the Altar of Bacchus; and when the rock is exposed, it is thought to be the pledge of a good vintage. The region is celebrated for its wines; and the grapes of the slaty rocks have a highly musky perfume. A gentleman told me that Bacharach resembles Jerusalem in its aspect. Of course, it must be in miniature that the resemblance exists. Here we noticed St. Werner's Church, a most superb ruin of the florid Gothic. Those lancet-arched windows are the admiration of all who pass by. Lorchausen is a small place, and just away from it are the ruins of the Castle of Nollingen. On the other side, or right bank, are the ruins of the old Keep Tower of Fuerstenberg, destroyed in 1689. Here we enter on the region where the best Rhenish wine is produced. The Rheingau, or valley of the river, is divided into upper and lower departments; and from about Lorch, on the left bank, up to Biberich, are the choicest vineyards. On our right lay the ruins of Heimberg, and the restored Castle of Sonneck. Then comes old Falkenberg, and near to it is the splendid Gothic Church of St. Clement. All these fortresses were the abodes of wholesale highwaymen, and then might made right. Most of them became such nuisances that, at the close of the thirteenth century, they were hurled down, and their places made desolate. Here, too, is Rheinstein, on the very bank of the river. Its early owner was hanged by the Emperor Rudolph. One of the Prussian princes has fitted up the fortress in magnificent style; and I learn that there is no palace in Europe that can boast of such mediaeval splendor. Every thing that can serve to illustrate the dark ages is carefully collected for this charming spot, which seems a rival to Stolzenfels.
Just across, on the opposite bank, is Assmanshausen, famous for hot baths and red wine. Here you see terrace upon terrace, up to the summits of the hills; and some of these, the guide books say, are one thousand or twelve hundred feet. You will often see fifteen or twenty of these terraces supported by brick and stone fences, and the terrace is often not more than six feet wide; and the soil and manure have all to be carried up on the shoulders of the vine-dressers. The value of this region-arises from its aspect, owing to the bend of the river, which gives this left bank, as you ascend, a direct exposure to the sun at midday.
The vintage of the Rhine, I am told, is generally gathered in during October and November, but it is put off as late as possible. Grapes were introduced here by the Romans.
We now came to Ehrenfels, in its venerable decay, the beautiful tower of Rosel, and the ruins of Bromseberg; while on our right are the ruins of Vautsberg, and just beyond we come upon "Bingen of the Rhine," at the mouth of the Nahe; and close by is the celebrated Mausetherm, or Mouse Tower, said to have been built by Hatto, the Archbishop of Mayence, in the tenth century. Southey's fine ballad has immortalized the legend. Never did town present sweeter aspect than Bingen, at the foot of a pyramidical hill, which is crowned by the ruined Castle of Klopp. In a church here lies Bartholomew of Holshausen, who prophesied the fatality of the Stuarts and Charles II.'s restoration, warning him not to restore Popery. Bingen has, I think, some five or six thousand inhabitants, and has a great trade in wine, which is collected here from all the vineyards around. Rudesheim lies on the other bank, and its famous wine comes from grapes growing close to Ehrenfels. Next comes Geisenheim, also famous for wine, and soon comes the renowned village and vineyard of Johannisberg, or Mountain of St. John. Here the river is wide again,—perhaps two thousand fire hundred feet,—and we begin to see fine meadows. This is where Prince Metternich has his seat, where once was a priory, and various have been its vicissitudes. In 1816, it was given to Metternich by the Emperor of Austria. The mountain contains only seventy-five acres, and the choicest wine comes only from vines growing near the castle, on the crown of the bill. The wine of the village is very inferior to that of this estate. The place has but few inhabitants—say five or eight hundred. The house is white, and not very castle-like. The grape is called the Riesslingen.
Here we found several islands. Erbach and Hattenheim are both famous for vineyards, and between them grows the famous Marcobruenner; and the Steinberg vineyard, a fortune to the Duke of Nassau, lies upon a slope of the hill close to the convent, of Eberbach or Erbach. This convent was founded in 1131, but is now a lunatic asylum. The churches here are very fine. Opposite the shore lies Rhine Island, and forms a noble park. Walluff, with few inhabitants, is regarded as the commencement of the Rheingau, or wine district, along which we had coasted. Biberich, on the duchy of Nassau, now comes upon our view; and the noble chateau of the duke presents one of the finest mansions on the river. Here some of our passengers left for Frankfort, and took the rail; but we wished to see Mayence, and so went in the boat. The city looks finely, and its red towers and steeples make quite a show. This city belongs to the Duke of Hesse Darmstadt, and is garrisoned by Austrians and Prussians, in equal force, generally eight or ten thousand. Exclusive of these, the population is nearly forty thousand. We walked about, and looked at the fine Cathedral, which was sadly shut up by houses and shanties. It was too late to enter it. You may be sure, Charley, that we found out the monument to John Guttemberg, the inventor of movable types. It is of bronze, and was designed by Thorwaldsen, and stands in front of the Theatre, once a university. After perambulating the town till weary, we came to the bridge of boats, sixteen hundred and sixty-six feet long, and which connects Mayence with Cassel, a strongly fortified place, where the railroad depot is located. At this bridge are several boat mills, or tide mills, where grain is ground by the tidal action. They look strangely, but work well. On the bridge we met many Austrian officers in rich uniforms, most of them young, and, I thought, very aristocratical in their bearing. Our dinner on board the boat was as profuse as the day before; and I must not forget to tell you that we had an English lordling, son of a former premier, on board, with his lady, on their matrimonial tour. He was the worst-mannered young man that I have seen in Europe; and when he had ogled the company sufficiently with his glass, and manifested his contempt pretty plainly, he and his betook themselves to the interior of his carriage. He was quite young, and may grow better behaved. We took the ears at dark, and after riding twenty-two miles found ourselves at Frankfort, having passed through Hochheim, where the vineyards are so costly that the railroad company had to pay well for the passage-way. Here we put up at the Hotel Angleterre. Forgive this long letter; but I could not well shorten it, and I want you to know just what we saw.
James's long letter gave you a pretty correct view of our passage from Coblentz to Frankfort. You will recollect that we went up the Rhine, which gave us more time to look about; but I fancy that in going down stream the shores would show to better advantage, if possible, than in the ascent. From Coblentz to Mayence the river is narrower than before; and every rock more precipitous than its neighbor, has a castle. How some of these towers were built, or could be got at, seems a mystery. I had no idea of the number of these robbers' nests, for such they were. Much as I love the Hudson, yet I cannot help saying that the Rhine is the river of the world, so far as I have seen the watery highways. Frankfort is one of the free towns of Germany, and lies on the Maine. It has about sixty-five thousand inhabitants, of whom seven thousand are Jews. I like the city much, and think a residence here would be very agreeable. Some of the modern streets are very handsome, and the dwellings are fine. The old part of the town is old enough. At our hotel we found a sentinel on guard, in honor of an Austrian general staying at the house. The house is a capital one, like all the other great hotels we have yet seen on the continent. We all went to see the Roemer, or Town Hall, which was built about 1425, and which is quite famous for its historical associations. Here the German emperors were formerly elected and inaugurated. We saw the great hall where they were entertained and had crowned heads for waiters. Here, on its walls, are all the portraits of the series of emperors from Conrad I. to Francis II., and each emperor has his motto underneath. Some of these are quaint enough. Directly in front of this building is the Roemerberg, or Market-place, in which the carousing incident to coronation used to occur; and it is large enough to accommodate a vast assembly. We rode along the banks of the river, to see a pretty little palace belonging to Duke Somebody, and especially to see the grounds and hothouses. They were exquisitely beautiful. As we were here upon a holiday of the church, the Museum was closed, and we lost the sight of some good pictures. We were much pleased with a visit to the garden of Mr. Bethman, a banker, where we saw a pretty little collection of statuary, the gem of which is Dannecker's statue of Ariadne. The building in which these are placed is neat. We, of course, went to see No. 74 in the Hersch-Graben, where Goethe was born, in 1749. In the corner house of the Dom Platz, Luther once dwelt We rode through the Jews' quarters; and, of all the wretched-looking streets, I think the worst and filthiest is that in which Baron Rothschild was born. As we passed a Sabbath here, we attended the English Episcopal Church, a neat building. The service was well read by the chaplain, and an excellent sermon was preached by a stranger. After service I spoke to the chaplain, who was quite anxious to hear about the prospects of Popery in America. He seemed to have very just views of the system, and anxiously deprecated its influence in our Country.
We visited many shops, and found the richest collections of curiosities and antiquities. Here we met with several American friends upon their tour; and at Frankfort we took leave of our New York friends, whose kindness and agreeable company we had been favored with for a few days.
We took the rail for Heidelberg, on our way to Strasburg. The whole of the first few miles was through a very flat-looking country, and our interest was not called out till we came to Darmstadt, a fine town, with thirty thousand inhabitants. We saw a tall column, but could not find out its historical allusion. This is the capital of the grand duchy of Hesse Darmstadt. In passing through Odenwald, we saw a tract of woody country; and off to our left we were quite sure that the scenery must be very beautiful. The hills in the distance form the boundary on the eastern part of the valley of the Rhine; and the mountain ranges are richly covered with vineyards and castles all the way, parallel with the railroad. This beautiful region is called the Bergstrasse, and I am sure a week or two on these hills would amply repay the pedestrian. It is in these wild regions of romance that the Castle of Rodenstein is found, some ten miles from Erbach; and not far from it Castle Schnellert, where the wild Jager is supposed to live, who haunts the forests and gives spectral forewarnings of battles. Off to our left there was a constantly shifting panoramic view of hill top and ruins.
Heidelberg is sweetly situated on the bank of the Neckar—a beautiful river, and one that I long to trace by its course through wood and hill. This town is famous for its university and castle. It has about seven hundred and fifty students. We could only see the castle, and admire its exterior. The college was founded in 1386, and is very distinguished as a law school. The library is very large and excellent. The barbarian Tilly is said to have provided litter for his cavalry from books and MSS. out of this then magnificent collection. The ruin of this glorious old castle dates from 1764, when it was burnt by lightning. It is built of red stone. If I live, I hope to visit this place again, and make a thorough exploration of this stupendous ruin. It is here, in a cellar, that the largest wine butt in the world is found, and it will contain eight hundred hogsheads. It has long been empty, however. I never longed to follow a river more than I do this same Neckar—it is so clear, and all my glimpses of it have been so filled up with quiet beauty and wild scenery. We saw a hill, near the town, which affords the finest view, we are told, in Germany, and even takes in Strasburg Cathedral spire, which is quite ninety miles off!
From Heidelberg we again took the cars for Kehl, about four miles from Strasburg, a distance of nearly ninety miles. The first-class cars are very luxurious and reasonable; second class, excellent, and very genteel-looking persons using them. Lord Cowley, father of Lady Bulwer, wife of the minister from England at Washington, was in the cars with us, and two of his children—one a beautiful little girl. They were going to Baden, and were accompanied by a governess.
We found no more of the extraordinary beauty that had made our morning ride so charming. Bruchsal seemed a dull place, as seen from the station; and Durlach had not much greater attractions. Carlsruhe is quite a place, has some repute for its baths, and is the capital of the grand duchy of Baden. Off to the south of this town we saw the skirts of the Black Forest. All around we saw a fine growth of poplars. Passing Etlingen and Muggensturm, we come to Rastadt—rather a pretty station, and the town is fortified. At Oos our passengers for Baden took a branch train, which, after three miles' ride, brought them into the famous Baden-Baden. We reached Kehl, which is a mere village on the Rhine, but has seen enough of war. Here we took an omnibus and started for Strasburg, distant some four miles. When we reached the French custom-house, over the river, we had quite a searching time; and even a flask of cologne was taxed some twenty cents. We were weary enough, and glad to get into quarters, which we established at the Ville de Paris, a very superior house, with excellent rooms and elegant furniture, while the cookery was perfect. To-morrow we have enough to see and to do. To-night we shall retire early; but, go where we may, we shall furnish you the promised account of our wanderings.
Long before we entered this city, we obtained a fine view of its great glory, the Cathedral spire. What an object! It does not seem as if hammer and chisel had had any thing to do here. I can almost fancy that this spire was thought out and elaborated by mere intellect. It would be long ere I grew weary of looking at this wondrous work of man. The more you examine this edifice, the more you are impressed with its magnificence. Let me tell you about this same minster, as it is called. The spire is four hundred and seventy-four feet high—one hundred and forty feet higher than St. Paul's, and twenty-four feet higher than the Pyramids of Egypt. The architect was Erwin of Steinbach, and his plans survived him. He died in 1318, when the work was carried on by his son. The tower was not finished till four hundred and twenty-five years after the commencement of the building, and then Hueltz, from Cologne, came to effect the undertaking. The tracery of this lofty pinnacle is inimitably beautiful. We ascended the spire, and I can assure you that the prospect amply repays the trouble. We saw the winding, silvery Rhine, the Black Forest, and the long line of the Vosges Mountains. I never felt more keenly my inability to describe a place than when I walked through this gorgeous sanctuary. You must see it, to form an adequate idea of its grandeur. The nave was begun in 1015, and completed in 1275. The choir is yet older, and is thought to belong to the times of Charlemagne. The large rose window, over the front entrance, is thought to be the finest specimen of stained glass now existing. The stone pulpit of 1486 is the grandest we have yet seen, and in better taste than some of the carved wood pulpits in Belgium. The columns are very massive. One of the chief attractions in this church is the mechanical clock, which occupies a large space at the left hand as you enter the building. The true time to see it is at twelve o'clock, when Death strikes the hour, the apostles all pass before you, a large cock up above flaps his wings and crows admirably three times, flags are waved, and the affair ends. Here, close by, is the architect Erwin's effigy, in stone.
We next went to St. Thomas's Church, to see the superb tomb of Marshal Saxe, which is a work of great merit. In a vault we saw the remains of a Count of Nassau and his daughter, who had been coffined down for—I forget how long, but I think more than two centuries. It was here that Guttemburg began his experiments in printing, which he perfected at Mayence. We made some purchases here of embroidery, which we thought very beautiful, and also cheap. General Kleber's tomb and monument are in the Place d'Armes. Of course, we did not visit Strasburg and forget that it furnishes pate's des fois gras. We obtained some good engravings of the churches and other points of interest, and, on a fine afternoon, took the railroad for Basle.
We took the cars from Strasburg in the afternoon for this place. The distance is eighty-six miles; and, owing to some twenty way stations, we were nearly five hours on the rail; but the beauty of the scenery reconciled us to a prolongation of the time usually spent on such a journey. The general route was over a flat country, with sundry bridges over small streams; but, off to our right, we were close to the Vosges Mountains, which kept us company nearly every mile of the journey. I suppose you know that Strasburg is very strongly fortified. We saw its works to great advantage when leaving the city by the train. We were much assisted in our knowledge of places on the mountains by a fine panoramic volume of engravings which we bought at Strasburg, and which really gives a capital idea of the entire scene of travel. I will just name the principal places that we passed by and through, that you may trace on the map and read about them, for some are important towns. St. Erstein is a place of four thousand inhabitants; Benfield is very pretty indeed; and close by is a fine-looking town, with a fine situation. We saw a noble spire off to our left. Schlestadt has ten thousand inhabitants, and is fortified. From it chimneys, we supposed it must be a manufacturing place. The view of the Vosges here is very imposing. They are generally with rolling summits; and upon some eminence, jutting out, stands a castle. The Hoher Koenigsberg is the largest castle of the range, and it was destroyed during the thirty years' war, in 1633. Here we saw fine vineyards. Colmar looks like a very prosperous place. Its manufactories make quite a show, and all around we saw well-built cotton factories; and the entire spot had a Rhode Island look. Dr. C. turned our attention to the village of Turckheim, about three miles off, where Marshal Turenne beat the Imperialists in 1675. Egnisheim and its three-towered castle is a small affair. Bolwiller is a perfect vineyard all around, and the wines of this region are excellent. Nothing, hardly, seems to be cultivated but the vine. Opposite to this place is the loftiest of the Vosges; and my panorama makes it four thousand seven hundred feet above the sea. Muehlhausen is a very active, busy-looking town, with a population of nearly thirty thousand. Here the fine cotton prints of France are fabricated. Much of the property is owned at Basle, we were afterwards told. This place has to obtain its cotton from Havre and Marseilles; and even coal has to come from a distance.
It was dark when we took an omnibus at the terminus; and, after riding over an old bridge, we were very soon established at a princely hotel known as the Trois Rois. This house is on the banks of the Rhine, and its windows command a very fine view. The historical reminiscences of Basle are interesting, and its position very commanding. Here the Rhine is bounded by the hills of the Black Forest and the Jura range.
Next morning we took a stroll to see the lay of the land; and we found ourselves on a terrace overlooking the Rhine, and forming a part of the cathedral ground. O, it was glorious to look at, Charley. There, stretched away on the other side, were the hills of the Black Forest, whose legends we have so often pored over. This terrace is finely-wooded with linden and chestnut-trees. We walked back to town, and called upon our consul, Mr. Burchardt, and found him very kind and friendly. He gave himself up to us for the entire day, and became our guide to all the objects of interest. He dined with us; and then we all went to his charming country-house, about one and a half miles from town, and took tea with his family. Our first object was the Cathedral. This is a red sandstone church, with two steeples, and was consecrated in 1019. The crypt, no doubt, is as ancient as this date. Here is the tomb of the empress, wife of Rudolph of Hapsburg. Here, too, we saw the tombstone of Erasmus, who died in 1536. In the cloisters, which are very noble, are the monuments of OEcolampadius, Grynaeus and Myer, the reformers. This church is Protestant. It is plain, but venerable. In the chapter-house, which we visited, was held the Council of Basle, which lasted from 1436 to 1444. The room is just as it then appeared, and the very cushions on the seats are still preserved. Our next visit was to the Holbein Gallery, where the largest collection of paintings by this master is to be seen. Here we saw the fragments of the Dance of Death, but which some say are of an earlier date than Holbein's day. I liked his portraits better than his other pieces. One sketch of Sir Thomas More's family is very fine. We also saw the library, and a large collection of Roman antiquities. The portraits are very fine at the library; and we saw those of Euler and Bernouilli, the mathematicians. At the university we saw the building, and received polite attentions from the librarian and Latin professor. We also saw the professor of chemistry, renowned for his discovery of gun cotton. The collection of MSS. is very large and rich; and we had the gratification to have in our hands the handwriting of several letters by Melancthon, Calvin, Luther, Erasmus, &c., &c. I think this is a good place to live in for purposes of study. At Basle there is a large missionary seminary; and a great many of the best missionaries in India and Africa were educated here. We also visited the private reading-room of a club, and found a very good library there. On the table were several American papers—the New York Herald, Express, and the Boston Mercantile Journal. After dinner we took a carriage and repaired to St. Jacob, a quiet village, about one mile from Basle. Here we found a neat little church, and, at the junction of two roads, a Gothic cross, to commemorate the famous battle of St. Jacob, in 1444, when sixteen hundred Swiss fought the French army under the dauphin for a whole day. The French were over sixteen thousand strong. Only ten Swiss escaped the slaughter. Lest you should think me at fault upon the numbers in this battle, I would say that I know Watteville calls the Swiss twelve hundred, and the French thirty thousand; but I quote from Swiss historians, who are deemed good authority. We went into the little tavern and drank some red wine, which goes by the name of Swiss blood. We then ascended an eminence commanding a fine view of the city, the river, and the Jura Mountains. At the summit we found a church; and the parsonage next to it looked very cosy and comfortable. The pastor's children were running about, and were very noble-looking boys. We learnt that while the stipend of the pastor was very small,—as is the case in Switzerland,—yet he was a man of wealth.
We were quite amused with the market day here. Droves of country people were in the streets—the women in country costume; and on the ground there were vast collections of crockery, which seemed one of the chief articles of traffic.
A charming drive, late in the afternoon, took us to the consul's hospitable abode; and there, with his lady, we had a thoroughly Yankee tea-time. In the evening we walked back to the city, crossing the old bridge.
We left Basle on a bright morning, at six o'clock, having places in the coupe of the diligence for Berne, a distance of seventy-six miles. We took this route in order to enjoy the remarkable scenery which marks the Moutiers Valley, which is the most romantic in the Jura Mountain range. This journey entirely takes the palm, for enjoyment, of any in our tour; and I think I am more surprised and gratified than I was on the Rhine. Certainly the prospect was more constantly grand and awe inspiring. We started with six horses,—three abreast,—and jogged on, at about six miles the hour, over as good roads as I ever travelled. They are, also, the cleanest you ever saw. All along, at intervals, we saw men with badges on their hats, who appeared to have charge of the highway. Every thing on the road is scraped up; and at every quarter of a mile, or less, there is at the wayside an enclosure for manure, into which every thing is turned. On all the line of travel in Switzerland, we were struck with the careful way in which heaps of manure are protected by large bands of corded hay, twisted around. Then, too, in the villages and towns we were all interested with the enormous stone troughs for watering cattle. Some of these appeared to me full twenty feet long, and two or three deep. On our way from Basle we passed the battle ground of St. Jacob; and some way farther on we saw the battle field of Dornach, at which place the Swiss obtained a victory over the Austrians in 1499. A little before reaching Tavannes we ascended a hill, and came to a wonderful archway across the road—perhaps natural. On it is a Roman inscription. The arch is, I should think, nearly fifty feet high and fifteen feet in depth. We then went on to Bienne; and a pretty-looking place it is. We left it on our right, and our road was very hilly, really mountainous, and the air was sharp. As we walked for two or three miles to help the horses, we found the wild strawberries offered for sale very pleasant. We reached Berne late in the evening; and the entrance to the town, through a noble avenue of trees called the Engae, was very pleasant. We repaired to the Faucon, and enjoyed the repose of a long night.