« PreviousContinue »
a foot short. Finally, he stood and looked at the brute, which unexpectedly answered; for when he had looked long enough, the horse began to move of his own accord. But the conducteur bore the matter in mind. The next stage, having a steep ascent to face, we had six horses to our team, and several persons alighted to walk up the hill; amongst the rest a Russian Baron and the conducteur. The latter, with an obstinate brute in his head, went straight up to the hedge, knife in hand, to cut a cudgel against the next stoppage, but whether, wearing no blinkers, the six horses saw the operation, or whether, the German being a horse-language, they overheard and understood his threatenings,
before the little man could cut his stick the animals cut theirs, and took the heavy Eilwagen up the hill at a gallop. Luckily they stopped near the top of the ascent, and allowed the Russian to run up, “thawed and dissolved into a dew," followed by the panting, puffing conducteur, but without his unnecessary bludgeon.
On reaching the crest of the hill, we had a fine view, across a woody ravine, of the castle of Wartburg; and, then, descending to the left, came under banks of such a ruddy soil, that I could not help exclaiming mentally, “ Heaven shield us from the Vehm Gericht !” a secret tribunal, whose jurisdiction, you know, extended over the “Red Earth.” Excuse the haberdashery phrases, but it was really maroon-colored, trimmed with the richest dark-green velvet turfs. In a short time we entered Eisenach, one of the most clean-looking and quiet of towns; yet it was a poor scholar of its free school, who had begged from door to door for his maintenance, that was doomed to out-bellow the Pope's bulls, and out-preach the thunders of the Vatican ! From Eisenach, passing some of the neatest, cleanest, and cosiest brick-built cottages I have ever seen out of England, we rattled into Gotha, which verily seemed the German for Gandercleugh! It was market-day, and the whole town was in a hiss and a scream with St. Michael's poultry. Everybody was buying or selling, or trying to buy or sell, a goose. Here was a living snow-white bargain being thrust into a basket; yonder was another being carried off by the lėgs; a third housewife was satisfying herself and a flapping gray gander of his weight avoirdupois, by hanging him by the neck. Saxon peasantgirls were thronging in from all quarters, with baskets, like
our old mail-coaches, at their backs; in which dickey one or two long-necked anserine passengers were sitting and looking about them like other travellers in a strange place. The
BIRDS OF A FEATHER FLOCK TOGETHER.
females were generally fair, fresh-colored, and good-looking; and the variety of their head-gear, in caps, toques, and tur
M bans, was as pleasant as picturesque. Some of them were quite Oriental; and even a plain straw bonnet was made characteristic, by a large black cockade on each side.
I dined at Gotha, at a table-d'hôte. Just before the soup, a young Saxon girl came in, and modestly and silently placed a little bunch of flowers beside each plate. It seemed to me the prettiest mode of begging in the world ; nevertheless, one ugly fellow churlishly threw the humble bouquet on the floor; an act the more repulsive, as great kindness to children is an amiable trait in the German character. How I wished to lay before him the chapter of Sterne and the Mendicant Monk !
A circumstance which occurred here caused me some speculation. Mine host, during the dinner, was at great pains to converse with me in my own language, but with little success. In the mean time the guests successively departed, save one, who, directly we were tête-a-tête, addressed me, to my surprise, in very good English. The same evening, another gentleman who had allowed me to stammer away to him in very bad German, was no sooner seated snugly by me in the coupé of the diligence than he opened in good Lindley Murray sentences, and we discoursed for some hours on London society and literature. Perhaps the police had on them a fit of “fly-catching,” as subsequently we were detained for two hours by a very rigorous examination of passports. From some informality, my own was refused the visé; but I took the matter as the German doctor treated my uncle's symptoms, appetite ?” None at all. “ Bon ! — Does he sleep?” Not a wink. “ Bon! — Has he any pain ?” A good deal. “ Bon ! ” again. So I said Bon, too ; and beg to recommend it to travellers as a very serviceable word on most occasions. Thenceforward, however, my conversable companion fought very shy of me ; for he had been a refugee in England on account of his opinions, and had only just made submission, and been reconciled to the Prussian government. For my own part, I did not hear a single word on politics, from Erfurt to Halle, but a great many on the famous hoax of Sir John Herschel's discovery of Lunar Angels; a subject which, like any other, with plenty of moonshine in it, took amazingly with the speculative Germans.
On alighting at Halle, I found my friend the Captain at coach-door, who speedily introduced me at the regimental head-quarters. The officers welcomed me with great warmth and friendliness; and I soon found myself seated beside a jovial bowl of Cardinale, and for the first time in my life in
6 Ilas he any an agreeable mess. On inquiry, I was quartered, where many a sheep and bullock had been, in Butcher Street, - where for sixpence, in a very decent bed, I had five hours of remarkably cheap, deep sleep. At four the next morning I rose, by trumpet-call; breakfasted, mounted, and between the tail of the 9th and the head of the 10th company of the 19th Infantry Regiment, was crossing part of that immense plain which
surrounds Leipzig. Ere we had gone far, one of our longestlegged lieutenants suddenly ran out of the road and brought captive a boy with a tinful of hot sausages. In a few minutes, his whole stock in hand was purchased off and paid for at his own price; and I was simple enough to be rejoicing in the poor fellow's lucky hit, and to take the glistening in his eyes for tears of joy, when all at once he burst into a roar of grief and blubbering, and sobbed out that he wished, he did, instead of a tinful of his commodity, he had brought a cartload!
“ Man never is, but always to be, blest." If one could suspect nature of being so unnatural, the vast
flat we were traversing seemed intentionally laid out for nations to fight out their quarrels in; some idea of the extent of the plain may be formed from the fact, that at the great battle of Leipzig in 1813 the cannon fired on one wing could not be heard at the other. As we passed through the villages, my civilian's round hat caused some curiosity and speculation amongst the natives, all practically acquainted with what was the correct costume. One man called out, “ There goes the doctor!” but from a certain gravity of countenance and the absence of mustaches, the majority set me down as the chaplain. At all events, so much of the military character was attributed to me, that the toll-keepers forbore to make any demand, and allowed me to decide that disputed problein whether cavalry can successfully cope with the 'pike. The foot marched on merrily, occasionally singing, some fifty or so in chorus, in excellent time and tune; and about noon, at the little town of Brenha, near Bitterfeld, the regiment halted, dismiss, — and in ten minutes not a soldier was visible in the streets. They were all dining or enjoying a sleep. Not being fatigued, I amused myself with a volume presented to the Captain by a clergyman at whose house he was quartered in Nassau. The worthy pastor had, no doubt, served in his youth, and, with a lingering affection for the “sogering” (a pattern rubbed in with gunpowder is not easily rubbed out again), had made a collection of German war-songs. The following, of which I give a literal translation, may, I believe, be attributed to his own pen. It smacks of the very spirit of Uncle Toby and Corporal Trim, and seems written with the point of a bayonet on the parchment of a drum!
LOVE LANGUAGE OF A MERRY YOUNG SOLDIER.
"Ach, Gretchen, mein täubchen."
O Gretel, my Dove, my heart's Trumpet,
Your portrait, my Gretel, is always on guard,