« PreviousContinue »
he proposed to learn the language, and make some considerable stay. And here, when he has time to take breath and collect his bewildered senses, which could not be done in the "holy and miraculous tavern,” however comfortable it might be, he first begins to convey that full and clear impression of himself, which every traveller, who wishes to interest readers, must contrive to give ; and whích in this case is so favorable, that we are glad to halt and go over the ground with him more leisurely than the railroad whirl of his former movements would allow.
It is an exceedingly pleasant impression which he gives of this place and the country round it. There is much in which a stranger can employ his time with satisfaction and advantage ; but though there are many objects to remind one of Arminius, Luther, and the more peaceful masters of song, few things will be contemplated with more pleasure by the visiter from this country than an ancient arbor vitæ, which was transplanted from America in 1618, but which, he says, does not thrive well, probably because the soil is less damp than it requires. When he speaks of ascending the Heiligenberg, and visiting the Library, or pondering amidst the ruins, every thing seems bright and happy; but unfortunately there is another side to the picture. The law requires one out of every hundred inhabitants to become a soldier, and he witnessed the selection of the conscripts, when, as may be supposed, intemperance was their baptism into the wretched life before them. And yet, is there any thing in this more sad. than the business of volunteering, which is so much vaunted here? Is it not better, in fact, to see men forced into that slavish existence by circumstances or oppression, than to find them, of their own free will, consenting to be military slaves ?
In making excursions to some distance in the neighbourhood, he found himself followed, as a native of the New World, with afflicting curiosity. But this was not without its compensations ; as he stopped at a prune orchard to buy some fruit, an old man called from a tree, They are Americans ; give them as many as they want, for nothing.' This is better than being insulted for the repudiation of some of our States, a compliment not unfrequently paid to Americans abroad ; where, as Lord Byron supposed that Washington in his childhood was lulled to sleep with the sound of
Niagara, most foreigners consider Massachusetts and Mississippi so near and intimate neighbours, that the Northern State must needs have indorsed all the paper of the other. He found that many of the Germans were undismayed by what was industriously told them of this country. They had a sort of idea, that other nations were not as pure as paradise before it was profaned by sin, and they were ready to take the risk of its evils, when no longer able to bear the hardships of their own. There are few things more pleasing than the mention of a Bavarian family of this description whom he met in the omnibus for Frankfort. The husband was sanguine and determined ; the wife seemed to mourn in silence the prospect of leaving her beautiful fatherland ; as night sell, the little girl drew near her father for his accustomed kiss, and then sunk to sleep in a corner of the wagon ; while the boy, in the artless confidence of childhood, laid his head upon the stranger's breast.
Mr. Taylor appears to have been edified with what he saw of the German students. There is, no doubt, a full flow of intellectual life and liberty among them ; but we do not see clearly why a childish mummery should everywhere be associated with philanthropic and lofty objects ; and as to their duels, one of the autumnal sham-fights of our trainbands towers into sublimity, compared with the paltry exhibition. the contrary, nothing can be more pleasing than his description of the ceremonies with which Christmas and New Year's eve are welcomed ; these are youthful, to be sure, but they are meant for the young, and they give older persons the blessed opportunity of renewing for an hour the lost and lamented childhood of their souls. The forests of evergreens that fill the streets, the blaze of lamps, and the sound of happy throngs in the public squares ; the inysterious preparation in arranging the presents, the Christmas-tree bright with gilded nuts, sweetmeats, and glittering tapers, and, more than all, the gladness in every face, which evidently shone through it from the heart, made him earnestly wish for a similar obseryance of the festival in his own distant land. And, Puritans though we are, we entirely agree with him in his feeling ; it was a great mistake in our fathers to sweep Christmas with all its associations away. The Thanksgiving which supplies its place is homely and substantial, no doubt; as the pumpkin, which is its emblem, is entirely respectable in its way, though less graceful and imaginative than some other fruits and esculents. If Christmas is not an honored festival, the best course is to make it so ; and we are glad to see a disposition to replace it in the general affection, to reunite the broken associations into the same bright chain which, in former years and other lands, has bound hearts together in happy and holy sympathy, resisting the tendency of the world's influence to throw them apart from each other, and giving them the most delightful fancy and anticipation of a Father's house on high.
We cannot follow Mr. Taylor in his travels through Germany, though they abound' in pleasant description. He went forth to make the tour of that country on foot, with about thirty dollars in his pocket, but nothing dismayed at the prospect of short commons and hard walking. He alludes to the observation which his appearance excited, and the strange magnetic influence of the human eye,” as he happily terms it, which most men are conscious of when in a land of strangers. But he appears to have found acquaintance by the way, and the name of American almost everywhere insured him a welcome. Of Göttingen he has no recollection so vivid as that of sickness, and the sympathatic consumption of the purse which it threatened ; but we soon find him manfully striding off among the Hartz mountains, with that resolution to get to the top of every thing which appears to have been his passion. Through Leipsic, Dresden, and Prague, he made his way to Vienna, a place which had the same attraction for him that it has for all other strangers, since with all that activity and bustle of cities which make a foreigner feel more lonely because he has no part in them, there is an unreserved and social manner in the public walks and gardens, which are universally frequented, such as is found in no other capital in the world. It has many objects of interest ; but what appears to have engaged most of his attention was the pictures, a luxury in which our country is at present deplorably wanting. He mentions in a simple and manly, but enthusiastic manner, those which he liked the best. Of the celebrated Madonna in the Dresden gallery he has given an excellent description, entirely without that pretension to connoisseurship, which is so intolerable, and so easily detected ; since in case of that affectation, the author falls vigorously to work to paint his own emotions, which, all the while, we are tolerably sure he did not feel. Neither
is there any overweening confidence in his attempting these descriptions ; for we believe that what is best in the efforts of every art comes back to simplicity. Many things may be excellent for those who have acquired a taste for then, which will not be appreciated by others; but we believe that in poetry, music, and painting, the last results of cultivation return to nature, and therefore can be understood and valued by the intellectual and refined without any unusual training in the fine arts.
While he was enjoying his residence in the capital of Austria, it suddenly occurred to him to examine his subtreasury, and he was agreeably entertained to find, that when his expenses there were paid, he should have four dollars left to susiain him back to Frankfort. To most men this discovery wculd have been alarming ; but it did not prevent his enjoying the summer climate and scenery of Lower Austria, which seemed to him the most beautiful in the world. It is really curious to hear him speak at one time of walking in the rain, and dining on a short allowance of bread and water, and, in the next sentence, of the delightful region he was passing through. But it teaches a lesson which it is well to know; which is, that the power of enjoyment is often in an inverse proportion to the means, and many of our happiest recollections grow out of serious trials ; as it has been ascertained by experiment that the fairy-like creations of frost upon the morning window follow the unseen traces left by rough hands that have cleansed the panes.
Mr. Taylor went, of course, to Switzerland ; and without taking notice of his descriptions of that scenery which is served up to us by so many writers, — not, however, because his word-painting is not as good as theirs, gaged with his humanity, and the social interest which he took in the men whom he encountered. Though he had received a prejudice against the Swiss while in Germany, he was agreeably struck with a look and bearing of independence, which are not found among the lower classes of Germans. The children, too, seemed bright-eyed and beautiful, which he was disposed to ascribe not wholly to their bracing climate, but to their inheriting the birthright of the free. He says that nothing ever made him happier than a little child who ran up to him, clasped his hand in both of his tiny ones, and looked up to him so affectionately that he loved him at
we are more en
once. The farmers everywhere spoke cheerfully to him.
“We learned a lesson from all this; we felt that not a word of kindness is ever wasted, that a simple friendly glance may cheer the spirit and warm the lonely heart, and that the slightest deed, prompted by generous sympathy, becomes a living joy in the memory of the receiver, which blesses unceasingly him who bestowed it.” Many, unfortunately for themselves, travel all the way through life, without coming to an acquaintance with the truth which he here expresses ; a truth which, if admitted to the heart, and carried into action, would remove that ill-taste of existence, of which so many are ever complaining, would fill with gladness the dry and vacant channels of feeling, and make glorious summer in wintry and barren souls.
He has less enjoyment in travelling in Italy, where the people are too apt to take vengeance on strangers for the oppression of their masters, after the fashion of other animals, as mentioned in the Pursuits of Literature, when “this dog smarts for what that dog has done.” His finances were not in a condition to bear the imposition of landlords ; he therefore was indebted to them only for lodgings, and as he and his companion ate their simple meals by the road-side, and moreover were arrayed in long white blouses, he believed that they were taken for pilgrims; at any rate, they excited a curiosity which was more inconvenient than gratifying. He had thus a fair chance for studying the Italian sky, and he allows, that, in the day, it deserves its reputation for depth and transparency, but maintains that the light of its setting suns does not compare with the rich western glory which he has often seen at home. We like the manner in which he speaks of works of art, - the Venus, for example; he neither follows nor defies the common opinion, but simply gives his own. This is much better than making an inventory, as some travellers do, of emotions which they think it highly proper to feel, and would fain persuade others that they do. 'In the endeavour to convince the world of their enthusiasm they do not at all succeed; but they impose to some extent on themselves, and that is the full reach of the delusion. He evidently cares more for pictures than statues, and more for nature than for either. Nothing can be better than his description, in few words, of the musical echo in Pisa, answering to the notes of the cicerone's voice. 66 After a moment's pause,