Letters from Abroad to Kindred at Home/Place XV
|←Place XIV. Coblentz|| Letters from Abroad to Kindred at Home by
Place XV. Wiesbaden
|Place XVI. The Rhine→|
Wiesbaden, Poste Restante, July 26.
K. and I came here this morning to purvey for the party, and get lodgings for a month or two. The best hotels were full. We were shown disagreeable rooms at the Poste, and though the man assured us he could not keep them for us ten minutes, as all the world was rushing to Wiesbaden, we took our chance, and hazed about the streets, finding nothing that we liked. At last I made inquiry in a book-shop, and a good-natured little woman entering into our wants, ran across the street with us, and in five minutes we had made a bargain with a man whose honest German face is as good security as bond and mortgage. We have a very nice parlour and three comfortable rooms for thirty-five florins a week—about fourteen dollars. We pay a franc each for breakfast, for tea the same, and we have delicious bread, good butter, and fresh eggs; for our dinners, we go, according to the custom here, to the table d'hôte of a hotel. We could not get as good accommodations as these in a country town at home for the same money, nor for double the sum at a watering-place.
My Dear C.,
Sunday evening.—We have been here now more than a week, and, with true traveller's conceit, I am sitting down to give you an account of the place and its doings. Wiesbaden (Meadow-baths) is the capital of the duchy of Nassau, about two miles from the Rhine. It is a very old German town, and was resorted to by the Romans. It may be called the ducal residence, as the duke, in natural deference to his fair young wife's preference, now resides here a good portion of the time, and is building a large palace for the duchess.
Wiebaden has more visiters than any of the numerous German bathing-places. The number amounts to from twelve to fifteen thousand annually, and this concourse is occasioned by the unrivalled refutation of its mineral-water At six this morning we went to the Kochbrunnen (boiling spring). There is a small building erected over it, and a square curb around it, within which you see it boiling vehemently. Its temperature is 150° Fahrenheit. Its taste is often compared to chicken-broth. If chicken-broth, it must have been made after the fashion of Dr. T.'s prescription to his hypochondriac patient, who fancied water-gruel too strong for her digestion: "Eight gallons of water, madam, and the shadow of a starved crow!"
From six to eight the water-drinkers did their duty, drinking faithfully. Some read or lounged in a sunny corridor where a band of musicians were stationed playing gay tunes; but the approved fashion is to saunter while you sip. We were mere lookers-on, and it was ludicrous to see these happy-looking Germans, whom it would seem Heaven had exempted from every evil flesh is heir to, save obesity, come down to the spring with their pretty Bohemian glasses of all colours and shapes, walk back again up the long acacia walks, sipping in good faith, and giving the water credit, no doubt, for doing what, perhaps, might be done without it by their plentiful draughts of the sweet early morning air.
After breakfast I went to the window, and here are my notes of what I saw. "How freshly the windows are set out with flowers. Our opposite neighbour has new-garnished her little shop-window with fresh patterns of calico, and scarfs, fichus, and ribands. Two girls are standing at the next door-step, knitting and gossiping; and at the next window sits the selfsame pretty young woman that I saw knitting alone there all last Sunday. It is a happy art that distils contentment out of a passive condition and dull employment The street is thronging with fair blooming peasant-girls come into town to pass their Sunday holyday. How very neat they look with their white linen caps and gay ribands, and full, dark-blue petticoats, so full that they hang from top to bottom like a fluted ruffle. The bodice is of the same material, and sets off in pretty contrast the plaited, snow-white shift-sleeve. There are the duke's soldiers mingling among them; their gallants, I suppose. Their deportment is cheerful and decorous."Here is a group of healthy-looking little girls in holyday suit, their long, thick hair well combed, braided, and prettily coiled, and a little worked worsted sack hanging over one shoulder. The visiters of Wiesbaden—German, Russian, English— are passing to and fro; some taking their Sunday drive, some on foot. Beneath my window, in a small, triangular garden, is a touching chapter in human life; the whole book, indeed, from the beginning almost to the end. There is a table under the trees in the universal German fashion, and wine and Sezlter-water on it; and there, in his armchair, sits an old blind man, with his children, and grandchildren, and the blossoms of yet another generation around him. While I write it, the young people are touching their glasses to his, clambered up behind him and is holding a rose to his ibis nose." If you recollect that we are now in Protestant Germany, you will be astonished at the laxity of the Sabbath. The German reformers never, I believe, undertook to reform the Continental Sabbath. They probably understood too well the inflexible nature of national customs, and bow much more difficult it is to remodel them than to recast faith. We are accustomed to talk of "the horrors of a Continental Sabbath," and are naturally shocked with an aspect of things so different from our own. But, when I remember the dozing congregations I have seen, the domestics stretched half the heavy day in bed, the young people sitting by the half-closed blind, stealing longing looks out of the window, while the Bible was lying idle on their laps; and the merry shouts of the children at the going down of the sun, as if an enemy had disappeared, it does not seem to me that we can say to the poor, ignorant, toil-worn peasant of Europe, "I am holier than thou!"
I left my journal to go to church. At all these Continental resorts there is service in English, and here the duke permits it to be held in his own church. The service was performed by a clergyman of the Church of England.
At four o'clock we set off for our afternoon walk. The gay shops in the colonnade were all open, but there were few buyers, where buyers most do congregate, at the stalls of the all-coloured, beautiful Bohemian glass, and of the stag-horn jimcracks so curious; cured by the peasants; even Monsieur Jugel's bookshop was deserted. The English are, for the most part, the buyers, and they do not buy on Sunday. We went into the Kur-Saal Garden, which at this hour is alive with people, hundreds meeting at their little tables in the gravelled area between the hall and a pretty artificial lake, smoking, sipping coffee, wine, end Seltzer-water, and eating ices. A band of capital musicians were playing. We had some discussions whether we should go into the Kur-Saal, and finally, determining to see as much as we womankind can of what characterises the piece, we altered. The Kur-Saal (cure-hall) belongs to the duke, and its spacious apartments are devoted to banqueting, dancing, and gambling. The grand saloon is a spacious apartment with rows of marble pillars, and behind them niches with statues, alternating with mirrors. It was an odd scene for us of Puritan blood and breeding to witness. A circular gambling-table in the midst of the apartment was surrounded with people five or six deep, some players but more spectators. The game was, I believe, roulette. It was most curious to see with what a cool, imperturbable manner these Germans laid down their gold, and won or lost, as the case might be, on the instant. There were not only old and practised gamblers, but young men, and people apparently of all conditions, and among them women, ladies. These are a small minority, seldom, as I am told, more than half a dozen among a hundred men. I watched their faces; they looked intent and eager, but I did not, with their change of fortune, detect any change of colour or expression. We walked through the smaller rooms, and found in all gambling-tables and players in plenty, and that where there were fewest spectators the passions of the players were more unveiled.
This buying and selling, and vicious amusement, is indeed a profaning of the day when God has ordained his earth to be a temple of sacred rest from labour, and sordid care, and competitions. When and where will it be so used as to do the work it might achieve—regenerate the world?
We soon emerged into the garden again, and were glad to see a great many more people outside than in. This garden, or rather, ornamented ground, for the greater part of it is merely in grass and trees, extends up the narrowing valley for two miles to the ruins of the old Castle of Sonnenberg. We passed the little lake with its fringe of bright flowers, its social squads of ducks and its lordly swans, and many a patch of bright flowers and shrubberies, and rustic benches with tête à tête pairs or family groups,and kept along a path by a little brook that seems good-naturedly to run just where it looks prettiest and is most wanted, till we mounted the eminence where the feudal castle guarded the pass between two far-reaching valleys, and where the old keep, chapel, and masses and fragments of wall still standing, extend over a space half as large as our village covers. Fragments of the wall form one side of a range of cottages, serving a better purpose than when they were the bulwark of a half-savage warrior.
Sonnenberg is kept in beautiful order by the duke's command and money. There are plantations of furze about the old walls, narrow labyrinthine walks enclosed with shrubbery and imbowered with clematis, and seats wherever rests are wanted. I unluckily disturbed a tête à tête to-day, which, if there be truth in "love's speechless messages," will make a deep mark in the memory of two happy-looking young people.
There is a compact village nestled close under the ruins of the castle. Here it was that the feudal dependants of the lord lived, and here the rural population is still penned. These villages are picturesque objects in the landscape, but, on a close infection, they are squalid, dirty, most comfortless places, where the labouring poor are huddled together without that good gift—sweet air, and plenty of it, which seems as much their right as the birds'.
When I see the young ones here playing round a heap of manure that is stacked up before the door, I think how favoured are the children of the poorest poor of our New-England villages—but softly—the hard-pressed German peasant, in his pent-up village, has a look of contentment and cheerfulness that our people have not. If his necessities are greater, his desires are fewer. God is the father of all, and these are his compensations.
We got home to Burgh-strasse just as the last hues of twilight were fading from the clouds, and just as K. was taking off her hat she remembered that, after coming down from the castle, she turned aside to gather some flowers, and meanwhile hung her bag, containing sundry articles belonging to herself and my purse, on the railing of a bridge. What was to be done? We hoped that in the dusky twilight it might have escaped observation. K. proposed sending for a donkey and going herself in search of it. I consented, being most virtuously inclined (as those to whom it costs nothing are apt to be) to impress on Miss K. a salutary lesson. The donkey came, and off she set, attended by François and followed by a deformed donkey driver with the poking-stick, and everlasting A-R-R-H, much to the diversion of the denizens of Burgh-strasse, who were all on their doorsteps looking on. She was hardly out of my sight before I repented sending her off with these foreign people into the now obscure and deserted walk. I thought there was an evil omen in the donkey boy's hump-back, and, in short, I lost all feeling for "my ducats" in apprehension for "my daughter;" and when she returned in safety without the bag, I cared not for Herr Leisring's assurance "that it would yet be found; that it was rare anything was lost at Wiesbaden."
This morning "my ducats" rose again to their full value in my esteem, and just as I was pondering on all I might have done with them, Leisring's broad, charming face appeared at the door with the announcement, "On l'a trouvée, mademoiselle" (It is found!), and he reiterated, with a just burgher pride, "rarely is anything lost at Wiesbaden." The bag, he says, was found by a "writer" and left with the police, and Leisring, the writer, and the police, all decline compensation or reward. If this abstemiousness had occurred in our country, we might, perhaps, have thought it peculiar to it
I went last evening with the girls to a ball given every week to such as choose to attend it; I went, notwithstanding Mr. ——'s assurance (with a horror not quite fitting an American) that we should meet "Tom, Dick, and Harry there." One of the girls replied that "Tom, Dick, and Harry were such very well-behaved people here, that there was no objection to meeting them;" and so, fortified by the approbation of our English friends Miss —— and Miss ——, who are sufficiently fastidious, we went. The company assembled in the grand saloon of the Kur-Saal at the indefinite hour at which our evening lectures are appointed, "early candle-lighting," and it was rather miscellaneous, some in full, some in half dress. The girls had been told it was customary to dance, when asked, without waiting for the formality of an introduction, and they were only too happy to obtain their favourite exercise by a courteous conformity to the customs of the country. They had partners, and very nice ones, in plenty. I was struck with the solemn justice of one youth, who, dispensing Im favour with an equal hand, engaged the three at the same time, one for a quadrille, one for a gallopade, and one for a waltz. We had no acquaintance in the room, no onerous dignity to maintain; the girls had respectful partners, plenty of dancing, and no fogging, as we were at home and in bed by eleven.
It seems to me that Sir F. Head, in His humorous account of the German dinner, has done some injustice to the German cuisine. After you hare learned to thread its mazes to the last act of its intricate plot, you may, passing by its various greasy messes, find the substantial solace of roast fowls, hare, and delicious venison, that have been pushed back in the course of precedence by the puddings and sweet sauces. These puddings and sauces are lighter and more wholesome than I have seen elsewhere. Indeed, the drama, after the prologue of the soup, opens with a tempting boiled beef, at which I am sure a "Grosvenor-street cat," if not as pampered as my lord's butler, would not, in spite of Sir Frauds' assertion, turn up his whisker'.
We dine at the Quatre Saisons, the hotel nearest to us, and as we are told, the best table d'hôte in the place. There is a one o'clock, and in deference to the English, a five o'clock dinner. The universal German dinner-hour is one. The price at one is a florin—about forty-two cents; at five, a Prussian dollar—about seventy-five cents. This is without wine. We dine usually at one, but we have been at the five o'clock table, and we see no other difference than the more aristocratic price of that aristocratic hour. Besides the trifling advantage of dining at one in reference to health, it leaves the best hours of the day free for out-of-door pleasures. The order and accompaniments of our dinner are agreeable; the tables are set on three sides of a spacious , with a smaller table in the centre of the room, where the landlord (who carves artistically) carves the dinner. His eyes are everywhere. Not a guest escapes his observation, not a waiter omits his duty.When the clock is close upon the stroke of one, people may be seen from every direction bending their steps towards the hotel. You leave your hats and bonnets in an ante-room. The ober kelner (head-waiter) receives you at the door, and conducts you to your seats. The table is always covered with clean (not very fine) German table-linen, and of course, supplied with napkins. Pots with choice odorous plants in flower are set at short intervals the whole length of the table; a good band of music is playing in the orchestra. The dinner-service is a coarse white porcelain. As soon as you are seated, little girls come round with baskets of bouquets, which you are offered without solicitation. You may have one, if you will, for a halfpenny, and a sweet smile from the little flower-girl thrown into the bargain. Then come young women with a printed sheet containing a register of thee arrivals within the last three days, for which you pay a penny. I observe the new-comers always buy one, liking, perhaps, for once in their lives, to see their names in print. The is then presented, and, if you please, you may select an excellent Rhine wine for twenty-five cents a bottle, or you may pay the prices we pay at home for Burgundy and Champagne. These preliminaries over, the dinner begins, and occupies between one and two hours, never less than an hour and a half. The meats are placed on the table, then taken off, carved, and offered to each guest. You see none of those eager looks or hasty movements that betray the anxieties of our people lest a favourite dish should escape. A German eats as long and as leisurely as he pleases at one thing, sure that all will be offered to him in turn; and they are the most indefatigable of eaters; not a meat, not a vegetable comes on table which they do not partake. A single plate of the cabbage saturated with grease that I have seen a German lady eat, would, as our little S. said when she squeezed the chicken to death, have "deaded" one of our dyspeptics "very dead;" and this plate of cabbage is one of thirty varieties. The quiet and order of the table are admirable. The servants are never in a hurry, and never blunder. You know what angry, pathetic, and bewildering calls of "Waiter!" "Waiter.'" we hear at our tables. I have never heard the call of "Kelner!" from a German. I leave the table each day expecting half the people will die of apoplexy before to-morrow, but to-morrow they all come forth with placid faces and fresh appetites! Is this the result of their leisurely eating? or their serene, social, and enjoying tempers? or their lives, exempt from the keen competitions and eager pursuits of ours? or their living out of doors? or all of these together? I leave you to solve a problem that puzzles me.
A German, of whatever condition, bows to his neighbours when he sits down and when he rises from table, and addresses some passing civility to them. We are sometimes amused at the questions that are asked us, such as, "Whether English is spoken in America?" A gentleman asked me "Whether we came from New-York or New-Orleans?" as if they were our only cities; and another said, in good faith, "Of course there is no society except in New-York!" Oh, genii locorum of our little inland villages, forgive them!
We are too often reminded how far our country is from this. Yesterday a Russian gentleman said to K., "Qui est le souverain de votre pays, mademoiselle?" "Monsieur Van Buren est le President des Etats Unis." "Ah, oui. Mais J'ai entendu le nom de Jackson. Il est du bas peuple n'est ce pas?"
"Comment s'appellent les chefs des petits arrondissements?" It might be salutary to such of our people as are over anxious about what figure they make in foreign eyes to know they make none.
I have been attracted to the window every morning since I have been here by the troops of children passing to the public school, their hands full of books and slates; the girls dressed in cheaper materials, but much like those of our village-schools, except that their rich German hair is uncovered, and they all, the poorest among them, wear good stockings—so much for the universality of German knitting. Education is compulsory here as in Prussia; the parent who cannot produce a good reason for the absence of the child pays a fine. I went into the girls' school nearest to us this morning. They looked as intelligent, as early developed, and as bright as our own children.
They went successfully through the exercises in reading, geography, and arithmetic. At an interval in these lessons, the master, who was a grave personage some sixty years old, took from a case a violin and gave them a music lesson, which, if one might judge from the apparent refreshment of their young spirits, was an aliment well suited to them. What is to be the result of this education system in Germany? Will people, thus taught, be contented to work for potatoes and black bread?We have been in search of an infant school which we were told was near the Porte. We passed the Poste and lost our clew, so I resorted to my usual resource, a bookseller, who directed me up a steep, narrow street, and told me to ask for the " ." I went on, confident in my "open sessime," but nothing could be more ludicrous than my stupefaction when the good people to whom I uttered my given words, not doubting that one who could speak so glibly could also understand, poured out a volume of German upon me; up—up we went, half the people in the street, with humane interest, looking after us, till we came to the window of an apartment that opened on to a court where the little urchins were sealed. The appearance of visiters was a signal for the cessation of their studies. There was a general rising and rush to their plays; but first the little things, from two years old to six, came, unbidden, to us with smiling faces, to shake our hands. It puzzles me as much to know how this quality of social freedom gets into the German nature, as how the African's skin became black! If a stranger were to go, in like manner, among our school children, and they were forced forward by a rule, they would advance with downcast eyes and murky looks, as if the very demon of bashfulness stiffened their limbs. The infant-school is supported by charitable contributions, and conducted much like our infant-schools. The children stay all day, and the parent pays a kreutzer for the dinner of each—less than a penny. We followed them to their plays, and as I looked at them trundling their little barrows and building pyramids of gravel, and the while devouring black bread, I longed to transport them to those unopened storehouses of abundance which the Father of all has reserved in our untrodden "West" for the starved labourers of Europe.
But they were a merry little company, and, if no other, they have here a harvest of contentment and smiles.
Our letters came to-day! The delay was owing to the change in our plans. While we were every day going to the poste for them they were lying quietly at Wildbad. This interruption of communication with those who are bound up in the bundle of life with us, is one of the severest trials of a traveller. It was past eleven when we had finished reading them, and then I went to bed with mine under my pillow. I could as easily have gone to sleep if the hearts of those who wrote them had been throbbing there! "Blessings on him who invented sleep!" says Sancho. "Blessings on him," say I, "who invented that art that makes sleep sweet and awaking happy!"
Our good landlord, Leisring, is, in all exigencies, our " ." He has the broad, truth-telling German face, and a bonhomie quite his own. He is, in an humbler position, a Sir Roger de Coverly; and his family and numerous dependants seem to have as kind a master as was the good knight. He is a master-carpenter, and is just now employed in finishing off the new palace which the Duke of Nassau is building for his duchess, and has twelve subordinates in his service—nine journeymen and three apprentices. To the nine journeymen, he tells me, he has paid, in the last four months, one thousand florins, about eleven dollars a month each, besides feeding them. The apprentices be supports, and gives them a trifle in money. They eat in a back building attached to ours. I asked leave to-day, while (hey were at dinner, to look in upon them. They had clean linen on their table, and everything appeared comfortable. They are allowed three rolls of brown bread for breakfast, and coffee, beer, or schnapps (a mixture with some sort of spirit), whichever they prefer. They have soup, meat, and vegetables for dinner, and soup, bread, butter, and cheese for supper. A Bonn and a half (sixty cents) pays for the meat for their dinner. The best butter is twenty-four kreutzers (eighteen cents) a pound; the rolls a kreutzer each. Vegetables are excessively cheap.
There is a law in Germany compelling an apprentice, when the term of his apprenticeship is completed, to travel a year, to work in different towns, and enrich himself with the improvements in his art. In each town there is an inn for these travelling mechanics. After reporting himself to the police, he goes there and then finds employment. You meet these young men on the road with their knapsacks, and they often take off their caps and present them at your carriage-window, modestly asking a halfpence. At first we were quite indignant at seeing such decent-looking people begging. But our hasty misjudgments have been corrected by the information that these poor youths go forth penniless; that it is not considered a degradation for them to solicit in this way; and that they are, in fact, sustained by the wayside aid of their countrymen.
We have made another experiment of German society. The girls went with E. to a soirée at the Kor-Saal. This was a soirée musicale, that is, a ball beginning with a concert; a higher entertainment, and more choice in its company than the one I have described to you. The only condition for admission was the payment of a little less than a dollar for the ticket of each person. They all came home charmed with the young duchess, with her very sweet, blond beauty, simple dress, and unassuming and affable manners. They were the more pleased as they contrasted her with another sprig, or, rather, sturdy branch Of a royal house: a certain Russian princess, who, though assuredly of a very coarse material, fancies herself of a choicer clay than the people about her. This woman, whom we meet everywhere, in the garden, at the table d'hôte, and at the Kochbrunnen, is quite the noisiest and most vulgar person we encounter. Such a person would naturally be fastidious in her associates; and her prime favourite, if we may judge from their constant juxtaposition, is a coloured man with woolly hair, some say from New-Orleans, others that he is a West Indian. I do not speak of this in any disrepect to him, but as a proof that colour is no disqualification in European society.
Last night, while the fair young duchess was dancing at a brilliant soirée at her palace at Bieberich, a courier arrived with the news of the duke's death of apoplexy while drinking the waters of his bubbles of Kissingen. Rather a startling change from that sound of revelry to the knell of widowhood—from being the "cynosure of all eyes" to be the dowager stepdame of the reigning duke!
Our host tells us the duke was "un bon enfant" (a good fellow), and much beloved, and will he much regretted. No one can doubt that a sober, well-intentioned man of forty-five, who is to be succeeded by a boy of twenty, is a great loss to his people. Where power has, as here, no constitutional restrictions, the people are at the mercy of the personal character of the sovereign.
The good people of Wiesbaden seem to take the death of their 'political father very coolly. I see no demonstrations of mourning except that the bells are rung an hour daily, and that the music sas ceased at our dinners and in the garden, and that the public amusements are stopped: a proceeding not likely to endear the duke's memory to the innkeepers and their host of dependants, who are all in despair lest their guests should take their departure. The influx of the money-spending English is a great source of profit to the duchy of Nassau, so that nothing can be more impolitic than this prohibition, which extends to Schwalbach, Slangenbad, &c.
We have now been here more than a month, and I may venture to speak to you of what has been a constant subject of admiration to us all, the manners of the Germans. The English race, root and branch, are, what with their natural shyness, their conventional reserves, and their radical uncourteousness, cold and repelling. The politeness of the French is conventional. It seems in part the result of their sense of personal grace, and in part of a selfish calcuation of making the most of what costs nothing; and partly, no doubt, it is the spontaneous effect of a vivacious nature. There is a deep-seated humanity in the courtesy of the Germans. They always seem to be feeling a gentle pressure from the cord that interlaces them with their species. They do not wait, as Schiller says, till you "freely invite" to "friendlily stretch you a hand," but the hand is instinctivelystretched out and the kind deed ready to follow it.
This suavity is not limited to any rank or condition. It extends all the way down from the prince to the poorest peasant. Some of our party driving out in a hackey-coach yesterday, met some German ladies in a coach with four horses, postillions, footmen in livery, and other marks of rank and wealth. What would Americans have done in a similar position? Probably looked away and seemed unconscious. And English ladies would have done the same, or, as I have seen them in Hyde Park, have leaned back in their carriages, and stared with an air of mingled indifference and insolence through their eyeglasses, as if their inferiors in condition could bear to be stared at. The German ladies bowed most courteously to the humble strangers in the hackney-coach.
Yesterday, at the table d'hôte, I observed a perpendicular old gentleman, who looked as if he had been born before any profane dreams of levelling down the steeps of aristocracy had entered the mind of man, and whose servant, in rich livery, as stiff as himself, was in waiting behind him, bow to the persons opposite to him as he took his seat, and to those on his right hand and his left. Soon after our landlord came to speak to him, and familiarly and quite acceptably, as it appeared, laid his hand on the nobleman's shoulder while addressing him.
Soon after we came here, a gentleman with whom we passed a few hours in a Rhine steamer met us at the table d'hôte. "Had I not," he said, "the pleasure of coming from Bonn to Cologne with you? I see one of your party is absent. She is, I hope, well," &c. To appreciate as they deserve these wayside courtesies, you should see the relentless English we come in contact with, who, like ghosts, never "speak till they are spoken to."
A few days since, as we were issuing from our lodgings, a very gentlemanly German stopped us, begging our pardons, and saying, "English, I believe?" and then added, that as we appeared to be strangers in quest of lodgings, as he bad just been, he would take the liberty to give as the addresses of two or three that had been recommended to him. This was truly a Samaritan—a German kindness. The hotel-keepers, that important class to travellers, often blend with the accurate performance of the duties of "mine host" the kindness of a friend. Their civility, freedom, and gentlemanliness remind me of my friend Cozzens and others, the best specimens of their fraternity at home. The landlord often sits at the table with his guests, and, with his own country people, converses on terms of apparent equality.
The same self-respect blends with the civility of the shopkeeper. He is very happy to serve and suit you, but, if he cannot, be is ready to direct you elsewhere. Shopmen have repeatedly, unasked, sent a person to guide as through the intricate Continental streets to another shop.
The domeatics are prompt, faithful, and cheerful in their services. There is freedom, but no presumption in their manners, and nothing of that unhappy uncertainty as to their exact position, so uncomfortable in our people. In all these subordinate classes you see nothing of the cringing servility that marks them in England, and to which they are exposed by their direct dependance on their employers.
Our English friend, Miss ——, who has been repeatedly in Germany, and is a good observer, acquiesces in the truth of my observations, and says this general freedom of deportment comes from people of all ranks freely mingling together. If so, this surely is a healthy influence, a natural and beneficent effect from an obedience to that Divine precept, "honour all men." Wo to those who set the brethen of one family off into castes, and build up walls between them so that they cannot freely grasp hands and exchange smiles!
I HAVE just been to the poste to see our English friends off. Their departure is a sad epoch to us, for they have been our solace and delight. A curious scene is the "poste" in a Continental town. Here (and ordinarily, I believe) it has a quadrangular court, enclosed on three sides by a hotel and its offices, including that for letters, and having on the fourth side a passage through a stone arch to the street. Here the public coaches arrive, and hence take their departure; and here the travellers and their luggage are taken up and discharged. I will describe the scene to you precisely as I just saw it. Besides the diligence for Sewalback, in which our friends were going, and towards which the luggage of various passengers was converging, while that which exceeded the authorized weight was passing through the postoffice window out of the hands of the weighmaster, there were private carriages arriving and departing. Some of these were elegant, and the horses curveting and prancing right royally so that I fancied they must be carrying German princes, or Englishmen, who are princes all over Europe.
My friend's postillion, with his yellow and black Nassau livery, his official band round his arm, his leather boots cut to a peak in front and extending some inches above his knee, his immense yellow tassel bobbing over his shoulder, was blowing his note of preparation from the trumpet he carries at his side. Fat Germans stood at the windows of the different stories of the hotel, smoking and talking to women as fat as they. There were other Germans, mustachoed and imperturbable, coolly awaiting the moment of departure, meandering about among the carriages and barrows, with their pipes dangling from one side of their mouths, and their incessant "Ja," "Ja woh!" (yes—yes, indeed), dropping from the other. Our friend's female fellow-passengers, in caps without bonnets, had ensconced themselves in a little nook, where they were knitting as if they were neither part nor parcel of this stirring world.
But what a contrast to this quietude, the English traveller! You may know him by the quantity and variety of his luggage, by every ingenious contrivance for comfort (alas! comfort implies fixture), impregnable English trunks, travelling-bags, dressing-cases, cased provisions for all the possible wants that civilization generates, and all in travelling armour. There is no flexibility about an Englishman, no adaptation to circumstances and exigencies. He must stand forth, wherever he goes, the impersonation of his island-home. I said his luggage betrayed him; I am sure his face and demeanour do. His muscles are in a state of tension, his nerves seem to be on the outside of his coat, his eyebrows are in motion, he looks, as my friend says she felt when she first came to such a place as this, "as if all the people about her were rats;" his voice is quick and harsh, and his words none of the sweetest, so that you do not wonder the Continental people have fastened on him the descriptive soubriquet of "Monsieur God-d—n."
An interesting little episode to me in this bustling scene was Miss W., the very essence of refinement and English gentlewomanliness, running hither and yon, settling with porters, garçons, and maitres de poste, while her Yorkshire maid was watching, with dismay, the rough handling of her lady's precious parcels, and Miss St. L. looking as if she did not care if they were all lost, if she could but save her friend from these rough duties, to which she is compelled by being the only one of the party who speaks German.
- Not the hotel prices, but about one dollar and fifty cents.
- "Who is the sovereign of your country, miss?" "Mr. Van Buren is the President of the United States." "Ah, yes. But I have heard the name of Jackson. He sprang from the lower class,did he not?" "Pray what is the title of the chiefs of the lesser departments?"
- The game is all taken in the duke's preserves, and is, of course,his property. Old venison is four kreutzers a pound; young fromtwelve to sixteen; a hare without the skin twenty-four kreutzers (eighteen cents).
- This opinion may appear to have been formed on a very slight acquaintance with the country. It was afterward amply confirmed in Germany and Switzerland, where the manners are essentially the same.
- The allowed weight of baggage in Germany as well as in France is small, thirty pounds, I think. And for the excess of this you pay at so high a rate, that the transportation of one's luggage often costs more than that of one's self.