Title


CHAPTER I.

FROM PARIS TO VIENNA.

Horses pulling a Wagon

[1]

THE project of a journey through the Southern Provinces of Russia, was one on which my mind had long been busy, impelled, as I was, by a sort of irresistible longing, to study, with all the care they deserve, regions which, in a wild and barbarous condition, have now become amenable to the influence of government and civilisation.

Two Gentlemen

VOL. I. B2

[2]

This wide zone, which had so often been depopulated, and seemed perpetually doomed to devastation, can now already point with certainty to the future. Thanks to the last Treaties, the Provinces annexed to the Empire at the beginning of the present century, and now con- stituting the general Government of New Russia, have exchanged their former uncertain and precarious lot for a stable and uniform organisation, which time cannot fail to strengthen and consolidate. In the lapse of a few years, the traveller will have some difficulty to trace, among the inhabitants of New Russia, the distinctive characteristics of the numerous races which were left behind on the skirts of the large armed migrations from East to West.

From these wandering races have sprung at least twenty separate tribes, which are now day by day becoming extinct ; and I was attracted by the idea of arriving just in time to seize the last tints of that broad historical colouring which is gradually fading away, and, at the same time, to study in what manner barbarism had been succeeded by civilisation, and the gloom of the past converted into more than hopeful anticipations of the future.

It was my full intention to apply to this enterprise all the strength of will, activity, and personal influence I might possess. I reckoned also, not without reason, [3] on the powerful support of a Government which knows how to appreciate all honourable projects.

The scheme of my journey had been long matured, when I had the honour of submitting it to His Majesty the Emperor, and soliciting his august ap- probation of this species of pilgrimage, in which each traveller ws to explore a separate field of study and investigation. The most entire and generous assent was accorded to my project; and, far more than this, His Imperial Majesty, who takes a pleasure in en- couraging merit of every kind, without reference to the country producing it, was pleased to grant to my companions, almost all of them foreigners, a mark of his especial protection, by express orders, forwarded to the official functionaries of the various Governments whose territories we were to explore. Thus, thanks to his exalted solicitude, which never deserted us, we met everywhere with the most cordial reception and the most complete co-operation.

The spring of 1837 had slipped rapidly by, amidst the preparatives and prelimiary operations required for the expedition. Immediately that the navigation between Havre and St. Petersburgh became practicable, I dispatched to that capital a number of mining- overseers, with the boring insturments requisite for carrying on a mineralogical survey, the principal object [4] of our voyage. This first detachment consisted of M. Ayraud, a skilful superintendent of the works, and of four overseers of boring operations, with nine complete sets of apparatus. Their caravan, with its bulky equipments, exceeding eighty thousand pounds in weight, was placed under the direction of M. Paul Kolounoff, whose administrative abilities had been made known by a series of useful services.

After disembarking at Cronstadt, the expedition was to traverse the whole empire from North to South, and finally to erect their huts in the vicinity of the mouth of the Don ; a long and laborious enterprise, as none will doubt, and accomplished with equal zeal and perseverance. At the beginning of the month of May, the directors of this mineralogical survey quitted France, in their turn, and proceeded by the most direct route, namely, across central Germany and the provinces of Southern Russia, towards the territories of the Don, and the Donetz, where they were to find the first expedition already installed, and ready to act under their orders. This second division was composed of M. Le Play, a skilled engineer of the Royal Corps des Mineurs of France ; M. de I,alanne, an engineer of the Corps des Pouts et Chaussees ; and of M. Malinvaud, a civil engineer, formerly a student at the Ecole des Mineurs at St. Etienne ; both the latter being charged, under [5] the direction of M. Le Play, with topographical and chemcal investigations relative to the regions which were to be explored.

When it became necessary to organize the departure of the section which was to travel under my leadership, I reflected on the inconvenience and delay awaiting us, especially in Germany, if we remained in one body. I determined, therefore, that by the 6th of June, M.M. Huot, Leveille, and Rousseau should be despatched to Vienna, proceeding thither without unnecessary haste, and visiting on their road such towns and districts as were unknown to them. On reaching Vienna, they were to await my arrival, and join two other volunteer members of the expedition, MM. Adolphe du Ponceau and Achille de la Roche Pouchin, who had proposed to accompany me into Russia, and had fixed upon that city as the place of rendezvous.

It was not till the 14th of June that I quitted Paris, accompanied by MM. Raffet and Sainson. We proceeded in the direction of the department of La Meuse, where it was my intention to make a brief halt, in order to visit the fine iron-works of Ahainville, which their proprietor, M. Muel Doublat, has, by a succession of improvements, brought to so high a degree of perfection. This first day of our journey was a mag- nificent one ; the day was closing as we descended the lofty height which commands the picturesque valley of [6] the Marne, the town of Meaux, and the whole of the smiling landscape surrounding it, which was now gradually fading away, shrouded in the light mists of approaching night. My thoughts travelled back, not without some very natural emotion, to the companions of our long journey, who, at that moment, were ap- proaching the destined goal of our expedition, each at different intervals ; twenty-two persons were at that time scattered on various points of Europe, all animated with one intention, all ardently striving towards the same object.

Chalons, Vitry-le-Francais, Long-champs, and St. Dizier were rapidly traversed on the 15th; the same evening we entered into the department of the Meuse. On leaving the monotonous plains of Champagne, the effect of a country already more diversified is quite refreshing. After emerging from Ligny, a small regularly-built town, quite identical in character with those of Lorraine, we had, in order to reach Abainville, to take a small road which winds along a succession of narrow meadows. Although the barrenness of the majority of the hills indicates a soil superficially poor, the numerous villages ensconced in the valleys, and the busy stir of the population on the roads, betoken all the activity which mining operations on a large scale excite on the southern frontier of the department of the Meuse.

The cars, which are used by hundreds for the [7] carriage of wood, coal, and iron, already call to mind, by their lightness of construction and frail harness, the vehicles of the German peasantry, and the lumbering gait of their drivers may well serve to complete the resemblance. On the other hand, all amid these remote valleys wears a sad and sombre aspect: the dun hue spread over the roads, the trees, the houses, and even the very inhabitants, gives to every thing an uniformly gloomy appearance. It would seem even as if the light itself, as it fell upon each dusky object, dwindled into a doubtful twilight. Every- thing, in fact, in these regions, bears the impress of the exclusive pursuit of iron manufacture, and the rough toil which accompanies it--a toil which knows of no relief--nor affords any interval for repose and joyful peace, as do the labours of the field, each new phase of which has its appropriate festival and day of prayer, whether to entreat the propitious regard of Heaven, or render thanks for benefits received; here every man is devoted to toil; every hut is a workshop.

The villages lying on the road between Ligny and Abainville, are pervaded with the same hue of coal; nor is a trace of luxury or worldly ornament anywhere to be seen. Even the erratic enterprise of the commercial traveller has shunned their walls, too naked and poverty- stricken to attract their magniloquent placards. The [8] burgh of Abainville, whose large iron-works constitute it the capital of these remote districts, has lagged behind in all progress of this kind ; its low-built houses are barely lighted by a few dingy panes of glass, and the only ministers of luxury are the wheelwrights, who constitute the entire aristocracy of the place. A cordial and hos- pitable reception awaited us on our arrival ; and the following morning we were engaged, in company with M. Muel, in inspecting, through all their details, the Iron- works of Abainville. The works are within ten minutes' walk from the burgh, the road following the course of the Ornain, which supplies the moving power to the machinery of the works. The buildings in which the operations are carried on, are grouped in the form of a vast parallelogram, closed at each extremity by a gate. On the eastern side one single building occupies the entire length ; these are the industrial barracks, as it were, in which are quartered, together with their families, the four hundred workmen employed in the works. This building, only one story high, is surrounded by an immense balcony, commu- nicating with the ground by a number of external staircases, disposed in symmetrical order. Opposite these habitations, swarming with inmates, stand the workshops, grouped without order, and surmounted by wide-spreading roofs and spire-like chimneys. Here, with the aid of the thousand arms of the machinery, and the workmen, [9] proceeds, without cessation, the manufacture of wrought and cast iron.

FOUNDRY AT ABAINVILLE.
FOUNDRY AT ABAINVILLE.

An entire day was devoted to following out the variouss operations carried on at these splendid works. I remarked, with the vivid attention naturally to be expected from one who claims a legitimate cousinship with all the hammers and anvils of Russia, the results of all the new processes and improvements introduced by M. Muel into his, establishment. On their side, my compaions, to whom the spectacle was entirely new, remained absorbed in the contemplation of all the brilliant stages through which the ore passes ere it is reduced into bars of iron. Arrested at every step by some new explanation, they were chiefly fascinated by the marvellous effects of light,producing a succession of striking pictures ; and many a workman, with grimy face and ivory-white teeth, smiled at their simple admiration of wonders, to him of daily occurrence.

The iron works of Abainvilile deserve, on several grounds, the reputation they have earned. Two blast- furnaces are used for the produbtion of cast iron ; one is situated in the midst of the workshops, the other stands on the slope of a hill in the vicinity, and each of these fhrnaces produces two castings a day. The machinery employed in forging the iron is set in motion by the waters of the Ornain ; and when these fail, a steam- [10] engine supplies their place. The ore with which the furnaces of Abainville are supplied, is procured at about three leagues from the village ; the wood used as fuel, is obtained at a short distance, and the coal is brought from Sarrebruck.

It has already been stated that the total number of persons finding employment in this vast establishment, is four hundred ; and that the whole of this population is lodged in one edifice, a portion of which is parcelled out into storehouses, and a school-room, maintained at the expense of the proprietor, in which children of both sexes are instructed. At nightfall the gates are closed, and the members of this little community bestow them- selves, some to labour and some to sleep. But for the life and movement arising from these large centres of industry, Abainville and its environs would appear gloomy indeed ; for the country itself has but few attractions. This extremity of the department of the Meuse presents a series of undulations, taking their rise from the western declivity of the plateaux which connect the group of the Ardennes with the lower chain of the Vosges. The Ornain, which waters the valley of Abainville, has its source in the vicinity of Gondrecourt, a small town of great antiquity. Beyond the valley, this modest stream takes a direction towards Bar, and shortly joins its waters with those of another rivulet, called the Saulx ; [11] both then bear their tribute to the Marne, below Vitry- le-Francais. Throughout this extent of territory there is but little vegetation beyond the immediate vicinity of the waters ; the plateaux are, for the most part, barren, although it is probable, that at some distant period they were covered with forests. Be this as it may, the country certainly exhibits, in the constitution of its atmosphere, all the disadvantages arising from the absence oflarge masses of wood ; and although, to our astonishment, we heard an engineer, a native of the place maintain a contrary opinion, and attach slight importance to the effects of unforesting, as regards tem- perature, we are, nevertheless, satisfied that it is to the complete absence of vegetation over so wide an extent of country, that Abainville owes the severity and length of its winters.

The proprietor of the works has, however, taken some pains to adorn this solitude, and nature has wonderfully assisted his efforts. Out of an unwholesome and infectious marsh, endangering the health of the sur- rounding population, M. Muel has evoked a charming shrubbery, the young saplings in which have already attained a vigorous growth, and contribute to the embellishment of the country.

On Sunday, June 18, we quitted Abainville. At Domremy, the little village which once formed, as it were, [12] the portico of the Cathedral of Rheims, we visited the house formerly inhabited by Joan of Arc. The chamber in which the humble rustic girl dwelt, has nothing remarkable about it, save the official inscriptions engraved on tablets of stone or metal ; and, as though the useless information thus furnished were not enough, a common-place register is kept open to receive the names of the visitors, and their more or less poetical observations. On an open space, planted round with trees, in front of this modest dwelling, a species of cenotaph has been erected, standing on four pillars, and sheltering a poorly-executed bust of the heroine insulted by Voltaire, and whose noble image a royal princess, so early snatched away, has re-produced, with simple and touching inspiration. Popular gratitude has not been backward, however, in honouring this chaste glory : the village folk have built a cabaret in honour of Joan of Arc ; or at least it would seem so, by the painted sign swinging over the door, which bears the inscription, " á la Pucelle !" A little scrutiny, however, of this work of art, will reveal the metamorphosis —mdash; rather ingenious than skilful —mdash; whereby Napoleon the Great has been transformed into the Maid of Vaucouleurs. The white charger, the green coat, the epaulettes and riding boots, have been judiciously retained in the picture. A plumed helmet, instead of the memorable little hat, and a pair [13] of gloves, a la Crispin, are the only changes the artist has deemed indispensable to conciliate the exigencies of And chronology.

After passing through Neufchateau and Mirecourt, two picturesque sites, we rested an hour at the Chateau de Marinville, an old edifice, with no other recommendation than its dilapidated antiquity.

At Epinal we were greeted by the gracious hospitality of M. Doublat, Receiver General of the Departement des Vosges. The morning we spent in visiting the magnificent garden laid out by M. Doublat, was indeed an one. The designer of this garden has taken advantage of an abrupt chain of rocks, on which stands a fine looking group of ruins, and in this felicitous locality he has planted a garden, or rather an immense picturesque park, in which all the resources of art and horticultural science are combined. A diversified display of trees and plants, numerous farm-buildings, built in the best taste, a charming dairy, richly stocked conservatories, natural dales, precipices as old as the hills have been grouped together with marvellous skill in this enchanting spot, where every available feature of the natural landscape has been adopted with the most refined taste. From the terraces which overhang the town, the delighted gaze embraces a vast and magnificent prospect. A communication between this [14] splendid garden and the house of its proprietor is established by means of an elegant staircase, enclosed within a tower of Chinese architecture, rising side by side with a vertical rock eighty feet in height. By this means, the fortunate owner of these beautiful grounds, bestowing himself by turns on his garden and his daily avocations, finds himself transported in a few minutes in the midst of the most charming and rural retreat, beneath the shade of trees, whose growth he has watched for thirty years.

Not to be accused of flattery, however, it must be confessed that Epinal is by no means a pretty town, although most picturesquely situated in the midst of heights which command it on every side. The surrounding landscape is richly toned : the flat red roofs, the broad and well defined hue of the various buildings, the rushing waters of the Moselle, all contribute to form a number of charming prospects The streets of Epinal are ill-paved : at the foot of the houses, however, there is a line of flagstones more practicable than the road itself. The outward character of this mountain town exhibits already something of the habits of German life. The cleanliness of the houses, the stoves by which they are warmed, the stout servant girls with bare arms, besieging the fountains with their buckets of white deal, which they afterwards carry, [15] balanced upon their heads, and the teams of large oxen toiling through the streets, or halting and rumi- nating on the public places — all this indicates that the Rhine and Germany are not far distant.

Epinal possesses a church, the date of whose structure is as far back as the eleventh century ; the interior of this monument is of a severe style, very rare in the religious edifices of this part of France. Among a number of pictures hanging beneath its gloomy arches, we recognised a copy of the " Miracle of St. Hubert," by that old and quaint master, Holbein, copies of which are so abundant in the old German cities.

On the 20th of June, at an early hour, we left Epinal, directing our course towards the Vosges. This long chain of mountains, which commence a little to the south of Mayence, stretches almost parallel with the Rhine, and sinks down towards Belfort, throwing out a secondary branch towards the west. Several rivers, such as the Sarre, the Meurthe, the Moselle, and the Meuse, take their rise on the northern flank of the Vosges, and flow towards the north. The road we were to take, which leads directly to Strasbourg, intersects the chain at an angle sufficiently acute to render the ascent to its summit, by means of numerous windings, an easy task; and the admiration is thus sustained by a succession of magnificent points of view. This route, rarely followed [16] by travellers, who take that by Saverne in preference, presents a sort of less common-place reflex of the beauties which the tourist seeks in Switzerland. Every thing here conspires to diversify and adorn the prospect : a sky admirably suited to extend the range of vision, a series, rising in successive planes, of those rounded summits which, in the Vosges, are specially designated Ballons, mountains covered with a rich and vigorous vegetation, cool and shadowy valleys, wooden buildings scattered here and there over the dark-hued verdure, streams of living waters flowing on every side, complete the similitude with the mountain scenery of Switzerland.

In respect of downright earnest mountains, commend me to the Vosges, that splendid rampart rising between two plains. At noon we had reached the highest point of our ascent, commanding an equal view of Lorraine and of Alsace, whose rich fields shone in the distance. The Ballon of Alsace, which is the most remarkable height in the neighbourhood, is not less than 1,250 metres high ; and to judge by comparison, we were ourselves at a height of some thousand metres. On either declivity of the mountain, numerous villages are met with, denoting the fertility of the soil. The mountain streams in their downward course irrigate and fertilise all these villages. The little town of Gemaingoutte, St. Die, and St. Marie-aux-Mines, all bustling with activity, were rapidly [17] traversed by us, the busy inhabitants paying but little heed to our noisy equipage.

Ere long, the aspect of the scene around us became entirely changed, and our carriages rolled over the smooth level of the plain of Alsace, through a road which resembled rather a garden walk, laid out through the most smiling meadows. We journeyed along this admirable road in the midst of a crowd of active and busy travellers, walking, riding on horseback, or in cars, diligences, post-chaises, and every variety of equipage. Dust, tobacco, and beer — a beverage so well adapted to quench the harmless thirst of the German--simultaneously engaged the attention of the traveller, who scrupulously makes a point of halting at every hostelry on the way-side.

Every thing in these regions denotes the point of contact between two important communities ; every thing bears the mark of that international traffic which constitutes the life and prosperity of the border districts between two nations of equal power and industry. The department of the Lower Rhine, in the evidences of comfort and prosperity which it presents, calls to mind the rich counties of England. On all sides one is surrounded by the magnificent results of a careful cultivation, and the fields bear the appearance rather of extensive kitchen gardens. Men and women, [18] — both equally robust — and even the children, bring to the labours of the field an equal degree of activity ; while in the smallest village may be heard the rumbling of machinery, the roaring of furnaces, the clanging of hammers, and every variety of din distinctive of manufacturing industry.

Of all the provinces of France, Alsace has dis- tinguished itself the most triumphantly in the ap- plication of machinery to manufactures. In these favoured departments, where the riches of the soil are united with those of the industrial arts, the employment of machinery has proved an advantage to agriculture, by returning to it the manual labour which constitutes its strength : this will become the case whenever a proper understanding of their interests shall have initiated the masses into the simplest doctrines of political economy. No labourer will then be allowed to complain of the multifold processes which diminish the demand for manual labour, so long as on the soil which he inhabits there remains a single acre of uncultivated moor-land, or unwholesome marsh, or one mile of impracticable road.

It is full time the progress of agriculture were in proportion to that of industry. Manufactures are the province of machinery ; the tillage of the land, that of man's labour. The more you manufacture, by dimin [19] ishing manual labour, through those ingenious contrivances of which steam is the moving power, the more hands you will set at liberty to be devoted to agriculture, to whose prosperity they are so precious. As regards those states the population of which is thinly scattered, and inferior to what it should be for the extent of surface occupied, the question does not even admit of discussion. The introduction of machinery, and of all artificial means of production, considered in this point of view, appears fraught with advantages.

At Schelestadt we took horses beyond the glacis, at a post-house of unusual magnificence ; and a splendid team tookk us, rapidly over the ground which lay between us Strasbourg. It was at the hour when the inhabitants of the villages were returning to their homes, grouped together upon large cars, and forming, by their attitudes and picturesque costumes, a succession of pictures full of real grace and play of colour. Not a man was on foot nor a woman whose attire bore the least trace of poverty. A white chemise hanging loosely over the arms, a red boddice trimmed with broad ribbons of black velvet, a short petticoat, a straw hat of vast circumference shading the strongly-marked features of the wearer, and alloWing a few flaxen tresses to escape — such is the costume of the village girls in the environs of Strasbourg ; [20] and it is one which well becomes the style of robust and somewhat masculine beauty which distinguishes them.

To see Strasbourg, were it only for a moment, and not to halt before its beautiful cathedral, would be to lose one of the keenest enjoyments to be procured by the contemplation of those masterpieces of architecture which sum up, as it were, the history of many centuries. Those even who have previously beheld this splendid basilic cannot but be astonished, even on a second visit, by the grandeur of the interior, the perfect workmanship of the painted windows, and the endless prolongation of that dim religious light which gradually dwindles through the gloom of those immense arches. How deep the silence ! How majestic the scene ! How solemn this assemblage of so many centuries of Christianity !

When we were delivered from the hands of the custom- house officers, and had crossed the bridge of Kehl, we took the road to Baden, a cheerful road, striking through a pretty plain, which is bounded on the west by the Rhine, and on the east by the mountains of the Black Forest. This long chain skirts the borders of the Rhine, and running parallel with the Vosges, forms a magnificent basin, through which the great stream flows. Nothing can be fresher-looking, prettier, or more lively, than the villages on either side of this road. It is especially [21] here that the indolent ease of the German breaks out in all its fresh simplicity : plain wooden houses, kept carefully in order, with window panes as clear as crystal; small windows wreathed round with blooming roses ; and little gardens enclosed in hedges of wild rose-trees ; — such are their villages, the mere sight of which conveys a feeling of repose. There is one drawback, however, about this picturesque country with its picturesque inhab- itants--it ishere we first have a taste of long stages and slow travelling. But of what use is it to complain ? Where is the traveller who in this country, so much travelled over, can boast of ever having beguiled a Baden post-boy, with immovable yellow jacket and voiceless horn, from his native slowness ? At last, however, Baden is reached,and we find, not without some trouble, suitable lodgings for our short stay.

The fashionable and frivolous company of bored invalids, who usually assemble about this time at the waters, had as yet only sent a few of its representatives for the present year. I had, however, only made this digression from our direct route, in order to afford my companions the pleasure of making acquaintance with one of the prettiest little nooks in the world, where one may come and breathe the summer air, at a time when all towns have become so many uninhabitable ovens. The delightful country about Baden, and its quiet walks, literally trans [22] ported our artists ; but they evinced far less enthusiasm for the peculiar mode of life adopted at the waters, and the somewhat monotonous pleasures to which fashion every year condemns us. Their criticisms on this head amounted to actual grumbling. "Who can understand," said they, how persons who possess in London, Paris or St. Petersburgh, spacious mansions — too confined, nevertheless, or their luxurious notions — can resign themselves to come and spend whole months in these little boxes of rooms, leading this barrack and corridor life, with the additional enjoyment of a frightful smell of paint, which renews its charms every spring, in honour of each new batch of visitors ?" And worse still, if you happen to take an airing in the street of the little town, while you admire its elegant houses, like the stage-houses at the Opera Comique, observe, behind their innocent- looking windows, adorned with roses, those pale yet piquant faces of women, with their veiled eyes, and sickly, weary smile — tender victims of last winter's balls and festivals ! For in very truth, at the end of a week this so-called pleasure is exhausted, and ennui alone remains. The fact is, the most essential of all good things is wanting, the " home, sweet home" of the English, who understand comfort so well. And then, may I ask, what feeling in common, what intimacy can exist, amidst this heterogenous assembly of all nations ? [23] How can any one avoid being utterly bewildered by this extraordinary miscellaneous assembly of all the idle people in Europe ? But let them alone : at the first breath of autumn every one will have returned to their respective place in the world ; and those eternal friendships, struck up by the side of a hot-spring, will fail to elicit the faintest bow, or the slightest token of remembrance. The public establishment of the baths failed equally to obtain the unrestricted admiration of my companions. They admired the fine dimensions of the salons, but inveighed against the smallness of the gardens, and the vulgarity of that little avenue of chesnut-trees which overshadow a row of shops, worthy at the utmost of a village fair ; — a fashionable walk, nevertheless, where many bygone celebrities have gently elbowed each other. If the art of Chabert found favour with my good-natured censors, they made up for it by their indignation when the evening brought round the tables of the play-room an eager and passion-led crowd, who, under a mask of uniform coldness, came there to squander their gold, wear out their lives, and breathe the smoky exhalations of the lamps, at the very time when the moon shed its light over all the bowers of Baden; when the coolness and stillness of the air suggested a solitary ramble, far from the dust of the public garden. But even the play was languid that year : Baden was in the [24] expectation of a great event for the year 1838, being neither more nor less than the installation of a company which was to plant upon the German soil the farming system for gaming houses, and to bring away from France all the old worn-out roulette balls, the blunted rakes, and dog's-eared dice-boxes — in a word, the whole frightful paraphernalia of the gambling system, which had been driven out of France, and was coming, like any other invalid, to patch up its shattered constitution at Baden, and other such like places.

It is unnecessary to say that we went for a walk up to the old castle, and that we climbed up to the highest summit of the ruins of doubtful antiquity which crown the mountain. Here we remained some time, con- templating the magnificent panorama which unfolds itself in the distance. Just as we were emerging from the last arch of the castle, two snakes, entwined one with the other, and fighting with fierce obstinacy, rolled at our feet. The ancients would have drawn from this occurrence some presage with respect to the long journey that lay before us ; whereas we simply put an end to the combat by the death of the two reptiles, who, although bruised and wounded by their fall, still kept a firm grip of each other.

The next day, at grey morn, we were passing through Rastadt, a clean, spacious, but deserted town, where [25] the sound of a coach awakes at once the echoes and the inhabitants, the one not less astonished than the other. While they were changing our horses, Raffet had time enough to make a detailed drawing of the full uniform worn by that fine body, the Baden infantry, quartered in the vicinity of the post-house, and who lent themselves with much complaisance to the artist's wishes. Raffet is active, and takes advantage of the smallest accidents on the road ; his hand is always ready, his pencil ever pointed, and he is only eager for a pretext to throw upon paper all the incidents of the journey. Not a little did he rejoice over the slowness of the Baden postillions, who seemed to enter marvellously into his feelings ; and every time the wretched postillion kept us a quarter of an hour at least, at each change of horses, Raffet would exclaim, " That's the way to travel post!" We felt some regret at not having paid a visit to the castle, in which it is said certain relics of the congress which rendered Rastadt famous are preserved ; but at so early an hour, it is very improbable that we should have found a cicerone to conduct us thither without a considerable loss of time.

From Rastadt we came to Carlsruhe. Carlsruhe is one of the few towns which have suddenly arisen according to a fixed plan, and as it were like one building. The town sprang, ready built and completed, from a whim [26] of the Duke of Baden, who reigned in the last century. As it is almost impossible to remain two hours in this model capital without hearing some allusion to its mysterious origin, it will be better, I think, to begin at once by relating the legend which describes the history of its foundation. Once upon a time, then, about a hundred years ago, a Grand Duke of Baden who had some cause of displeasure, they say, against the people of Durlach, his usual residence, had come to enjoy the pastime of the chase amidst the magnificent forests by which the whole surrounding country was covered. After a short time, the prince found himself separated from his suite, and favoured by the shade and the stillness, he laid himself down to sleep in a retired spot, as any good prince out a-hunting has a right to do. All of a sudden; our prince found himself the hero of a wonderful dream : he beheld rising, ready built, from the depths of the yawning earth, a noble and spacious city; it covered one half of a large circular space; and as all the streets ran from the centre to the circumference, the good duke, placed in the middle, as it were, on the top of a turret, could carry his astonished glance into every corner of this fan of masonry. Scarcely had this mysterious town fairly shown itself in all its detail, when the suite of hunters woke up the sleeping prince ; but he remembered the dream, and all its wonders ; and as [27] he was a rich prince as well as a good prince, he resolved that he would build in that same place, if it were possible, a realisation of the beautiful dream which had so delighted him. As the prince said, so he did ; witness this town, which is a perfect fan in shape, and the observatory, which commands a view of every thing. The second half of this vast circumference is occupied by a fine park, where the stags and the deer roam at liberty, that they may occasionally be hunted through the ancient forests of the neighbourhood. If, however, in spite of so beautiful a plan, its extreme cleanliness, and the magnificent architecture of its edifices, Carlsruhe appear somewhat cold and dull, the fault is with the founder, who failed to complete his poetical inspiration, and handed over to the most prudent and sober people in Europe his fantastic town, the offspring of a dream of Eastern enchantment. Nevertheless, this graceful capital is remarkable for its fine monuments and useful institutions, the progress of which attest the reign and enlightened views of the excellent prince who governs the Grand Duchy.

Our stay at Carlsruhe did not exceed one hour, and during that time I received a visit from the kind and courteous Baron von Haber, who overwhelmed me with politeness ; the had seen and given welcome to the mineralogical section of our expedition, of which M. Le Play [28] was the guide and chief. These gentlemen, full of health and ardour, had only complained of what they termed infinitely too slow locomotion.

On leaving the territory of Baden, a little above Durlach, to enter the kingdom of Wurtemburg, we had no Custom-house searching to undergo — that insupportable interval of time, during which, one falls a prey to an army of idle fellows. Travellers, and the trading community at large, are indebted for this real benefit to the wise measures which all the States of Germany, including Prussia and Bavaria, have adopted, by common consent. The governments of these two kingdoms, taking into consideration the respective positon of so many fractions of one fatherland, speaking the same tongue, and possessing to a certain extent the same interests, came to an agreement for the suppression of the thousand Custom-house barriers which impeded commercial intercourse, and for the formation of a confederation, within the limits of which the transit of merchandise should suffer no impediment. According to this convention, which is at the same time liberal and conservative in its principles, commercial traffic may proceed with all freedom from the banks of the Rhine to the frontier of Austria, and to the furthest limits of Prussia. In the same measure, as it would be imprudent to overthrow the protective barriers of industry [29] between two great nations, rivals in manufactures, is it an act of wisdom and common sense to extend the liberty of commercial traffic in small states of inferior productive power. To surround the latter by a cordon of Custom- houses, is to imprison the consumer to the great detriment of the neighbours' products ; and the general welfare can only suffer from such a course. Let us add, that travellers in haste to reach their journey's end — and they all are — are greatly benefited by such a system.

The natural boundary between the Grand Duchy and the kingdom of Wurtemburg, is the chain of the Black Forest, the last declivities of which, dwindling away to the north-east, not far from Durlach, we had just crossed ; the frontier line, indeed, diverges but little from the eastern portion of these mountains. The first aspect of Wurtemburg is rendered especially remarkable by the beauty of the landscape, to which this position lends a peculiar air of richness.

If I do not mention every place through which we passed, it is in order not to swell unnecessarily the list of burghs and villages with names not very easy to pronounce. Certainly the rapidity of our progress was not such but we had sufficient time thoroughly to investigate their pronunciation and orthography. Unfortunately, too, the hay-making season coincided everywhere with our appearance ; and at each stage we [30] were obliged to wait for horses, which were slowly brought from their peaceful hay-carts, to be no less slowly harnessed to our carriages. If, occasionally, our servants grew impatient, and seized the harness, launching a few epithets at the postillions, they would start back, frightened at this unwonted vivacity, and stand aloof, shaking their heads with an expression of despair. At Illengen, among the rest, we had to wait nearly two hours in the midst of a crowd of these eternal idlers, gathered motionless and agape around our carriages. At last, in the glooming of a splendid evening, through a charming country, and fanned by a breeze laden with the perfume of new-mown hay, we made our way towards Stutt- gardt, conversing on such softly melancholy subjects as are inspired by a sky bespangled with stars, and the spectacle of nature bathed in calmness and repose. Ere night-fall we had beheld in the distance Ludwigsberg, and its military prison, which stands on a hill in the midst of a most fertile country — a peaceful retreat, if the captives are allowed to breathe the pure air of the mountain, and to gaze on the broad landscape around. At eleven in the evening, a miserable supper, detestable beds, and a gloomy lodging, awaited us at Strasbourg.

While the next day I was making a number of visits, incumbent upon me, M.M. Sainson and Raffet took a ramble through the capital. Stuttgardt, as the reader [31] knows, is divided into two cities ; the most modern is remarkable for the beauty of its edifices, the number of its new buildings, and the width and cleanliness of its streets. The lower town, on the contrary, is irregular, gloomy, and encumbered with houses of such a height, that those who live in the lower stories of them are frequently deprived both of air and light. This ancient portion of the town presents still a great number of houses, rendered precious by their architectural detail, in the style of the middle ages; in the majority of the crossways are to be seen bas-reliefs, or little statues, ornamenting the angles, and which almost invariably represent knights clad in complete armour — a subject extremely in vogue throughout the country ; for we had already observed several, of a fine character, serving as ornaments to the fountains in the villages of Wurtemburg. A mare with her foal, is also frequently found sculptured on both ancient and modern public monuments of the olden time. A population of thirty-two thousand inhabitants throngs in the narrow lanes of the lower town, and towards the avenues of the market, which is held on a large open space, and stretches into the adjacent streets. This afflux of people presented no peculiar characteristics of which our painter could avail himself — and, in fact, the national costume is in no way remarkable. The army of Wurtemburg, praised for its organisation, and the [32] officers of which are held in high esteem, employed what little leisure our rapid transit allowed Raffet ; and he was at no loss for uniforms in the vicinity of the king's palace. This palace is in an imposing style of architecture, and is situated on an esplanade symmetrically planted with trees. It is, besides, surrounded by magnificent gardens, which unfortunately none of us had time to visit : scarcely, indeed, could we afford a superficial glance at this capital, which is deserving, on several accounts, of a special visit. We returned to our carriages in order to reach Munich as quickly as possible. The time pressed, for already we were considerably behind hand.

The country stretching to the south-east of Stuttgardt is truly admirable ; the road which took us to Ulm, traverses it almost from end to end ; the land, which is favourably exposed, is well suited for agriculture, and on all sides were to be seen the evidences of a plentiful harvest. After passing several small towns, such as Esslingen and Goppingen, the country becomes more varied, and the soil slightly hilly. Towards evening, some difference in the speed, or rather slowness of the relays, had separated our equipages ; and it was only singly, and one after the other, that we reached Geislingen, a burgh of considerable im- portance, picturesquely situated in the bosom of a [33] narrow valley, where it contributes to form a charming landscape. With its lofty houses, their protruding beams, painted red, and huge gables bristling above streets just sufficiently tortuous to produce a thousand striking effects, G-eislingen is a perfect and still breathing episode of the feudal ages ; and it is even more than probable that the characteristic costumes in which its inhabitants appeared carelessly grouped about their doors of carved wood, studded with huge nails, have suffered no appreciable change for the last two centuries. As it was Saturday evening, we met more than one troop of the honest children of Israel, who, in Wurtemburg, apparently, are not so exclusively devoted to the interests of trade as elsewhere, and occasionally indulge, at all risks, in a jolly and riotous drunken bout. That which is particularly remarkable in Geislingen, is the prodigious quantity of articles manufactured in bone, forming an important object of traffic with the women, and a source of no little importunity to the traveller. No sooner does a carriage draw up in the streets, than it is invaded and taken by storm by these intrepid amazons, who squall in every known tongue the same insupportable petition, and of whom it is impossible to be rid, even at the cost of purchasing handfulls of their inexhaustible wares.

Between this pretty town and the Danube rises an [34] important branch of the chain which geographers have named the Suabian Alps ; we climbed its winding acclivities with a degree of slowness, which, as night advanced, was only too favourable to sleep. It was not till two o'clock in the morning, by a splendid moonlight, that we were enabled to judge of the physiognomy of the town of Ulm. If we may trust to appearance, and were not deceived by the poetical grandeur which so often transfigures objects seen through the dewy gleams of the moon, this ancient town must be of highly curious interest to the artist. From its broad resounding streets, the irregular gables rose in black outline against the sky, and threw their sharply defined shadows against the opposite walls. Here and there a gothic tower, or a tall church, bathed in a blueish grey tint, stood in contrast with the gleaming house fronts, shining with varnish, and sparkling with windows, which in German towns are always so bright ; but all this scene soon vanished, and in a few moments we were rolling once more through a rich open country, watered by the Danube, the proximity of which imbued the air with a cool moisture.

Daylight found us on the Bavarian territory. Augsburg is doubtless the town of all Germany in which a stay would afford the most interest, so powerfully does it challenge the curiosity of the traveller ; but those who, [35] like us, confine themselves to a stroll through its irregular streets, and gaze about at its tall houses ornamented with frescoes, must refrain from any description of its contents ; *for whatever observations they might be in a position to make have already become confused, and almost indistinct, by the time the next stage is reached. Nothing is left, then, for those who aim at describing every thing, but the resource of geographical dictionaries — very useful books, no doubt, but to which it is more simple to refer the reader.

As we approach Munich, a considerable traffic of way-farers, and vehicles of every description, announces the vicinity of a capital ; and, when one is fairly within its walls, nothing is found to belie the deserved rank which this great and beautiful city occupies in the kingdom of Bavaria. The traveller, sated with the historical riches which Augsburg and Nuremberg owe to the middle ages, reposes with pleasure from this source of admiration, and contemplates the results of a modern school of art, which has judiciously appropriated the severer beauties of the Greek style. There are few towns in the world in which architecture stands in greater honour than in the capital of Bavaria — and assuredly none in which rich collections of objects of art, brought together with a true feeling for the beautiful, are preserved with such costly care, and so spaciously D 2 [36] bestowed in vast edifices expressly constructed for, and appropriated (a rare circumstance) to, this special purpose. Accordingly, we are not to be astonished at the number of new and magnificent buildings with which this city has been enriched within the last twenty years. When public works, executed by the state, afford such felicitous models, it is not to be wondered at that private wealth should follow this artistic impulse, and devote itself to the cultivation of a taste, the example of which comes from so high a source. It is thus that the love of art is rekindled among a people, and that we render them happier by transfusing into their modes and habits of life a certain degree of elegance which has a favourable re-action on morals and intellectual progress.

The streets of Munich are not, generally speaking, regular ; but the aspect of some of them is really noble and imposing. One would wish to see more people in them —mdash; a little more of that bustling and noisy activity which indicates a busy and swarming people. Here it is not the town that is too small for the people, but the people too few for the town : a hundred thousand souls anywhere else would be a large number, no doubt ; but for a city like Munich, it is perhaps not enough. We had determined to devote twenty-four hours to a rapid survey of some portions of the city ; and at the approach [37] of evening we took lodgings in an hotel conveniently situated for our purposed excursions.

The next day we experienced how rapidly the hours pass away, when one is arrested at every step by some fresh subject of interest. A few indispensable visits had taken up a portion of our morning, and we hastened to visit the gallery of paintings, so admirably situated next to the palace in which the king resides. No sooner had we entered these immense halls, than we saw that they would take up our entire day, and that the other riches of Munich would escape us for lack of time. The collection of pictures we were called upon to admire, is, without gainsay, one of the most valuable, and, above all, one of the most pleasing, in existence. The selection evidences profound study and knowledge, for which credit must be given to the king, who has rekindled in Bavaria the arts and sciences, which he loves, and therefore cultivates with the applause of Europe. This gallery is particularly rich in the Dutch school, which has furnished it with some of its most naif and charming masterpieces. Nowhere are finer Van Dyck portraits to be seen ; and in no place in the world save Munich can there be found an immense hall, filled throughout by the genius of Rubens ; indeed this is the most attractive portion of the collection, insomuch as it affords the justest idea of the powers — no less extended than prolific — of [38] the great master. I cannot pretend to enumerate here all the wondrous canvasses which arrested and charmed our attention for so many hours ; but a meed of sincere praise may be given the architects to whom the sumptuous gallery of Munich is indebted for the excellent distribution of light, in which respect no gallery in Europe is so well arranged. The spacious apartments in which the larger paintings are hung, are lighted from above ; while the smaller pictures, the gems of the art, whose charm frequently depends on the light in which they are seen, are collected together in a series of cabinets, which extend in a parallel direction with the large apartments, where they are lighted in a manner which allows them to be examined in the minutest detail.

On taking leave of the rich gallery of Munich, we could not avoid being struck at the sight of a living object —mdash; a perfect curiosity —mdash; altogether in harmony with the locality and the functions assigned to him. The porter in charge of the magnificent vestibule at the entrance of the galleries had not in the first instance arrested our attention ; it was not till our departure, when one of us approached his person, covered with gold-lace and brocade, that we noticed the gigantic proportions of this Goliath. The colossus in question is nearly seven feet high, and yet so formed, that, notwith [39] standing these enormous dimensions, the development of the muscles is marked with that exaggerated distinctness which characterises the Farnese Hercules. The honest giant appeared to enjoy, not without some pride, our admiring wonder, and answered our questions with a good-natured complaisance which did honour to his gentle and amenable nature.

A second but hasty visit to the gallery of sculpture — a building of rare perfection, especially destined to receive collections of statuary — allowed us to appreciate the rich acquisitions of the highest antiquity, recently made by the Bavarian government. Nothing can surpass, in point of arrangement, this beautiful and noble gallery ; nowhere, we repeat, are to be seen ornaments executed in better taste, or more appropriate to the objects for which they are destined.

A short walk in the beautiful gardens of the palace, barely enabled us to embrace the ensemble of this royal residence. This single day, devoted to so many interesting subjects of observation, was too soon ended ; we were nevertheless obliged to make all haste, and resume our journey to Vienna, where our companions had already been long waiting for us, prepared to join in our distant excursion.

It was by Braunau that we entered the States of the Empire, and we arrived there at dawn. This little town, [40] most singular in its construction, is composed of one single street, of no great length, but of considerable width. At each end stands an antique gate, surmounted by a belfry. Two fountains, of a picturesque design, are symmetrically placed in a line along the axis of the spacious street, the lofty houses on each side of which have but few windows, and these closely fastened with blinds in the Spanish fashion. The roofs, which slope backwards, are not seen from the front; so that 'Braunau looks very much like a Turkish town. It was here that the Austrian Custom House officers searched our baggage, which was done with the most ready and obliging consideration.

In spite of the almost maddening slowness of the Austrian postillions, whom neither threats nor entreaties could persuade to trot up the most imperceptible slope, Nildorff, Ried, and Unter-Haag, pretty and animated little towns, were left behind, and we halted for a short time at Lambach — a large and well-situated burgh, overlooking a river whose waters flow not far from thence into the Danube opposite Linz. A little before nightfall we were walking on the public place of Ens, the Anitia of the ancients, which gives its modernized name to one of the tributaries of the Danube. While awaiting the interminable preparations for our frugal supper, we had full leisure to examine a large square tower which [41] stands isolated in the midst of the esplanade. This tower, the lower part of which forms an archway, seems to have done duty as a gate and belfry, at a time when the town of Ens, then of less extent, was, like the majority of towns in the vicinage, fortified by a wall, and closed at its two extremities. Even in its present state, this is still a remarkable monument. It is covered with frescoes throughout almost the whole of its surface. An enormous dial, visible probably at a league's distance, indicates the time, and the lower part of the tower is adorned with a profusion of inscriptions in Latin. One of these, which states the exact date when the building was constructed, informs us that it was commenced in 1544, and finished in 1548. Another inscription, in Monkish Latin, sums up in two distichs the history of the town, which arose on the ruins of an ancient city, where two evangelists, St. Mark and St. Luke, did not disdain to come in person and reveal the truths of Christianity. The following are the two distichs in question, which we have copied for the use of those who take an interest in the Latinity of the sixteenth century-

Aspicis exiguam nec magni nominis urbem
Quam tamen aeternus curat amatque Deus :
Hæc de Laureaco reliqua est; his Marcus in oris
Cum Lucâ, Christi dogma professus erat.

The shades of evening interrupted our investigations, and shortly after we availed ourselves of the services [42] of the mail, which through the whole night did not accomplish a distance of more than ten French leagues, or forty of our versts — a journey which, with Russian horses, would not require more than three hours. At last, on the 27th of June, at eight in the morning, we reached the burgh of Molk, with its magnificent monastery, beautifully situated on the Danube, and commanding an extensive view of its course. The monks of the order of St. Benedict inhabiting it, are few in number, and enjoy all the devout ease which, in ancient days, distinguished the monastic life of the learned orders. The Emperor Napoleon, when he came to Vienna in 1809, selected this convent for his quarters, saying, it was the spot he preferred to any he had ever seen throughout the world-wide scene of his conquests. Perched like an eyrie amid the clouds, it was indeed a building well calculated to please his gigantic imagination. We were shown on the floor of one of the apartments, which is now used as a locutory, the spot where a heap of letters had been burnt by him. Towards five in the evening an unusual stir, clouds of dust, a multitude of carriages, elegant women, and swift horsemen, announced that we were approaching Vienna. We made our entry at last into this beautiful capital, and after an hour's journey through an interminable suburb we reached the quarters which had long been prepared for [43] us. From that time, the whole party which was to accompany me was completely united. Those gentlemen who had waited here for me had had no want of leisure to explore Vienna in all its details, and I found them especially satisfied with its riches in the department of science. They were eager to pay homage not only to the eminent merits of the savans, with whom they had had an opportunity of conversing, but also to their politeness and obliging attention in their ordinary relations. During this long interval they had not neglected such opportunities of amusement as they could ally with their studies. They appeared enchanted with the lively, active, and bustling appearance of Vienna, which, from its noise and liveliness, and more especially the eagerness of its inhabitants for amusement and dissipation, would scarcely be taken for a German city. Every evening during the fine season the same ardour is exhibited for the public walks, for fetes and music, and above all for the exciting waltz, which Strauss directs from the top of his orchestra. The public gardens are situated without the actual city, and it is here that the middle classes come and breathe the fresh air amidst their favourite amusements. Nothing can be more attractive than this assemblage of young and pretty women, coquettishly but tastefully dressed. While all the lights are sparkling amidst the foliage [44] of these gardens, and the strains of the orchestra are arousing the gaiety of the multitude, the higher classes of Vienna roll silently along in their carriages beneath the thick shade of the Prater — a fine, sombre forest, where the deer are not unfrequently seen to brave the line of brilliant equipages, and bound off through the broad glades. On returning from the drive, it is customary to draw up on the Graben — a long esplanade in the centre of the city, ornamented with two fountains of noble design — here, in the neighbourhood of the cafes, the carriages stand in a line, and the evening ends in agreeable conversation, which can be carried on without leaving one's carriage. After this fashion did we, during three long days, take our share in this pleasant, easy, careless life, which was to prepare us for our approaching fatigues. As soon as the business of the morning, spent in completing the last necessary arrangements for our journey, left us at liberty, we started on some new and interesting excursion. Schoenbrünn, with its dinners under the trees, its majestic gardens and rich zoological collection, took up almost the whole of one day. I imagine, that without being accused of severity, one may quarrel with the circular plan of the last named establishment, in which the animals are lodged in enclosures and buildings so far apart from each other, that to see them all entails a long and tiring walk. [45] We were unwilling to take leave of this beautiful place of amusement without mingling in the diversion of the Montagnes Russes, established in a pretty garden at a short distance from Schcenbrunn. At last, however, all our arrangements were complete, thanks to the kind attentions I met with from all who were pleased to receive me. As we were decided to make the experiment for ourselves of travelling by the Danube, we engaged our berths on board one of the steamers which start from Pesth for the lower part of the river ; and with the intention, on my return, of visiting and describing the beautiful capital of Austria, I gave the signal for our departure.

Two Soldiers Conversing

[46]

[Page 46 is a Blank Page.]




Text Archive Home | Book Details | Table of Contents