YEARS ago I listened to a comic song that caricatured our German immigrants; the burden of its chorus was, “the fatherland, the dear old fatherland, never sees them any more.” These words kept recurring to me long after the rest of the song was forgotten, and I often wondered what that “father-land” they could so readily leave might be like ; not big cities nor stretches viewed from trains, but its towns, villages, and integral sections of country. Now that I have learned to know this “fatherland” and find it eminently lovable and livable, I stand amazed. What irrepressible imagination and love of adventure its sons must have possessed to be lured from sunny Germany to a strange and distant land; or, in many instances, what depths of simplicity and gullibility, to accept liter-ally the figure of speech, “one can pick up a fortune on the streets of New York.”
The country in Germany, as in most of Europe, still illustrates feudal days, in that the peasants’ houses are gathered in villages while their farms lie round about the village or, occasionally, at quite a distance. Morning and evening you may meet wagonloads of peasants going to and from the fields, laughing, chattering and singing, or you may pass little groups trudging along, carrying rake and hoe and dinner-pail. German fields look good to American eyes. The landscape is bright and diversified without seeming depressingly small and confined, as in England; it presents fine reaches and perspectives without arousing the feeling of desolation inspired by the vast fields of northern France, which stretch for miles without chick or child or any living presence.
The hamlets of France are, more often than not, bare and uninteresting; a wide street runs straight through them. With a whizz and a rush they are passed and you are among boundless fields once more. Should you slow down for caution’s sake or for directions, you find the plain, square, stuccoed houses far from pleasing, while a disagreeable air of slovenliness is imparted to the main street by manure heaps and old wagons that, in a barnyard, would help to make a picturesque ensemble.
German hamlets are a delight to the tourist. The eccentric meanderings to which the main street is often subject, forbid other than slow, careful driving; bu+ the crooked, narrow way, the occasional cobblestone pavement and the unexpected gullies or gutters are paid for a hundredfold in the intimate view of these entertaining little places.
Here we find strange half-timbered structures of brick or stucco with tiled or thatched roofs mossy with age, quaint little shops, houses with haylofts abovetheir owners laboriously tossing hay over the front door into the attic; and more pretentious domiciles where house and barns enclose a courtyardproud structures, with enormous tile roofs often boasting two superposed rows of eyelet windows, the walls displaying in rusty iron numerals the date of their erection one or two hundred years ago. Maybe they will bear inscriptions stating how Hans, son of Heinrich So-and-So erected this building to replace the homestead destroyed in the terrible fire of such a date, with a few remarks to the effect that “had the Lord not given He could not have taken away,” that Hans’ faith remained unshaken, etc., etc.
Did you ever chance to read the history of Continental towns? Fire was their worst enemy. Excepting those that lay in the path of war, the tale is a monotonous chronicle of a murder or two, a few robberies, contagious diseases and cattle plagues, factional quarrels, marriages, deaths, droughts, conscriptions, and what not, until you reach one of their fires : then you get a lurid, terrifying calamity. Very few have not suffered three or four terrible conflagrations that left the town, or a great part of it, smouldering ruins.
Almost every village displays a Warnung (warning) tablet requesting the drivers of Kraftfahrzeuge (power-vehicles) to slow down to Io or 12 km. per hour. As there is no knowing what unexpected turns or blockades of vehicles may be ahead, it is advisable for a motorist to obey these directions; except in sleepy old Gifhorn, most village streets were pretty busy.
The picture of foreign life was enjoyed by all, bar-ring Bobbie, who I suspect, clung to the idea of covering as much ground as possible and deplored all slowing down. He derived a certain grim amusement from the consternation called forth by the sudden appearance of a motorcar. Women shrieked in real, though good-humored excitement; fat burghers having the air of gouty councilmen, forgot to use their canes and skipped nimbly from side to side to avoid the car which appeared about to run upon the sidewalk. I cannot altogether blame them, either, for it took me years to realize what a very short turn a big touring-car may make.
Once, while passing through a village beyond Coblenz, Bobbie made a sudden stop to allow some children their favorite pastime of running across our path in-stead of stepping on to the nearest sidewalk. We were immediately treated to a real, old-fashioned, blood-curdling curse. Some grandmother with superstition and dread written all over her, witnessing what she doubtless considered a miraculous escape, stepped up and cursed us; not in temper, but with a real, pious, medieval curseinvolving past, present and future generationsso wellrounded and complete that it would have made her fortune in the melodrama. We all, especially Bobbie, laughed and enjoyed it; but when we got our first blowout shortly afterward, Pater exclaimed :
“There ! Robert, now you see what a well-sped curse will do.”
We judged that it would make for both safe and expeditious travel if our chauffeur did not have to bother his head about the route; on strange roads in a strange country, he had best keep his eyes on the roadway and approaching traffic to the exclusion of all other things, depending on us to give him his direction. It was decided that, at night, he should overhaul his car first of all ; if he then had time and opportunity to inquire about routes and roads, well and good. We have since congratulated ourselves on this arrangement, for in a trip covering some 4500 miles we met with no accidentsrunning down but one dog and one chickenand had no mechanical breakdown whatever.
One of our party read the maps and announced in advance the turns to right and left, the railroad crossings, danger points, etc., as well as landmarks and facts of general interest ; meantime, guidebooks were busily conned by others. The names of towns on either hand had to be learned, so that the signpost at each crossroad would verify our position; all towns ahead were noted, that no unexpected name should throw us off our bearings. Not an easy job, reading a map, provided you wish to keep informed of your location and of things historical and geographical along the route. Signboards in Germany are so numerous that one may drive about without any maps whatever, if not interested in knowing the countryside.
To Pater, sitting on the front seat, was deputed the task of making inquiries when necessary, and of blowing the bugle when drivers failed to heed the honk of our regular horn. Probably a siren or a shrill whistle on the exhaust would have done the work of warning better; but a whistle might be taken for a near-by loco-motive signal, and the siren might have made too many horses bolt to suit either our inclination or our safety.
I fear Pater used unbecoming language regarding loads of hay. From behind, the driver of a load of hay proved very hard to warn and could not be passed unless he turned out; had he occupied a seat on top of the load our task would have been easy, but he almost invariably sat, half-buried in hay, directly back of the horses. It was haying season in Germany, and this caused as much of a strain on Pater’s feelings as did the countless flocks of sheep we met in England. The most primitive “hay wagon” in Germany is a man or a woman, hidden to view, plodding briskly along under a load of hay some eight or nine feet high and six feet wide; there are also little carts, drawn by hand, carrying what we considered twice their legitimate burden ; the real wagons are drawn by oxen, horses, or cows, sometimes by a horse and a cow harnessed side by side in ludicrous yet amiable partnership.
It is hard to leave these amusing scenes and incidents, but Hildesheim is near and, even as I write, I feel again the eager curiosity that stirred us as we approached its gates.
We had been loth to leave Brunswick; in the very hour of departure, while baggage was being packed on roof and rack of the automobilea work of no little skill on Bobbie’s partPater and Mater jumped into a hack and took another fleeting look at the old place. The Youth felt it a cruel privation to be denied one last, parting plunge into the maze of crooked streets which speak so eloquently of days of long ago.
Brunswick is said to be the most livable of ancient German towns; but we were desirous of living in the past, not in the present, and as we entered the capital of the famous old bishopric, Brunswick’s fascination faded rapidly before the charm of Hildesheim.
Picture to yourself a steep street, tall gables over-hanging so far that you instinctively glance up to make sure they do not meet overhead. Everywhere about you hums a quaint, yet homely life. Old wives gossip at the corners; pedestrians, swarming on the roadway, jostle each other good-naturedly in attempts to get out of the path of the motorcar; dogs are under-foot and cats (perched on points of vantage, safe from both dog and small boy) wash their faces leisurely or stare with solemn yellow eyes. On the cellar steps leading to his workshop, a cobbler in leather apron, great horn spectacles on his nose, sits reading a little red book. His appearance immediately recalls Hans Sachs, the cobbler-poet. A boy wearing a baker’s cap, is making faces at the cobbler, egged on by a lanky companion whose long blue apron reaches almost to his feet, which are insecurely shod in heelless slippers. A passerby, moved to sympathy with the person whose dinner reposes in the blue one’s basket, gives this boy’s ear a tweak, creating such a sudden return of business activity that one slipper is left behind. Indeed, we often wondered how many dinners we were delaying while a dozen butcher- and grocer-boys and their ilk, gravely watched our arrival, or departure, in front of some hotel.
With mudguards apparently threatening to sweep the narrow sidewalk, Bobbie swung into a street leading to the Markt. The giggles and shrieks of rosycheeked Gretchens were renewed when he found the street marked GESPERRT (closed) and had to back out again, but the next cross street was also marked GESPERRT as were all others leading to our goal. Finally it dawned on our comprehension that the market was in progress and that, consequently, we could not drive in at all; so in a twist of Hohe Weg, which actually afforded space for our car to stand without blocking the single trolley-track, we dismount-ed. Across a little court surrounded by odd print shops and curio shops, some steps led up to a passage-way beneath a building; from this strange tunnel we emerged on the market place and gazed upon a scene familiar to many generations of Hildesheimers. The market was indeed under way, and the whole square was covered with fruit and vegetable stands. The vendors were nearly all women, old and young ; such as were not volubly praising their goods were busy knitting, or calling jokes and bits of gossip to one an-other. Round about them towered buildings of their forefathers’ day, each bearing the mark of a distinct period of antiquity, and all, expressive of civic pride and prosperity.
As early as 814 , Hildesheim was a bishopric. That notable figure Bishop Bernwardchurchman, soldier, scholar and patron of the fine artsmade his see the most important center of Romanesque art in Germany ; his work here began in 993, very close to that fatal year 1000 which was popularly expected to bring the end of this world. Perhaps the general scramble to get within the fold of the church and placate her shepherds with gifts in return for a passport to the next world, accounts in a measure for the amazing growth of ecclesiastical institutions in both wealth and influence. Be that as it may, there dawned golden days for Hildesheim which lasted during the rule of four bishops. Despite the impending termination of all earthly affairs, the bishops built well ; not for their time alone, but for all time. They built in solid masonry and wrought in time-defying bronze; masons, artists, artisans, craftsmen, lay brothers and monks were exceedingly busy. Some decorative works are ascribed to Bernward himself, though this seems impossiblenot for lack of ability, but for lack of leisure. With all sincere respect for those who did so much to promote civilization, I have often wondered whether that end-of-the-world spectre was not cleverly raised and sustained for the good of the church.
However, those early works in Hildesheim (preserved almost intact by reason of subsequent hard times inimical to building, or by the conservatism of the Teuton, slow to graft Gothic upon the empire’s imposing style) form today, in buildings and objects of art, a priceless addition to examples of that period. It is fortunate that, somewhere, the feudal spirit waxed so strong and died so hard that buildings remain which give an idea of complete Romanesque exteriors. In England, they have so largely been lost in Gothic that you catch yourself wondering how the outside of a cathedral like Gloucester, Durham or Peterborough looked in its original conception.
But Bishop Bernward’s day was not the only golden era for Hildesheim. In the twelfth century she shook off the power of prelate and prince, became a Hansestadt and great trading city, her coffers over-flowing with the just dues of commercial prosperity; eventually her buildings showed the imprint of the most florid German Renaissance. This atmosphere of old-time burgher prosperity pervades the town today. A more cheerful atmosphere than that of Brunswick; though no less strongly reminiscent of the Middle Ages, for all its Renaissance. Patrician houses in Brunswick are largely of the earlier variety of timber construction, with plain, stuccoed surfaces forming panels between the great oaken beams of the frame, and with the ornamentation usually confined to the structural members. On Hildesheim’s finer buildings stucco panels disappear and the fronts are literally covered with rows of windows, story upon story, their mullions as well as the panels beneath them, being profusely ornamented with carving, paneling, medallions and mottoes, often picked out in rich color.
The Knochenhauer Amthaus (butchers’ guildhall), whose huge four-story gable faces the market place, is one of the most famous timber structures of the German Renaissance and displays beautiful carvings. The Wedekind house, on another side of this square, presents the broad side of its steep roof, broken by a huge dormer between the gabled tops of two bay windows ; the house is covered with allegorical figures. Round about are examples of plain half-timbered construction. There is also the fourteenth century Rathaus, a picturesque stone structure displaying several styles, early Gothic predominating; its wooden, corner tower of the sixteenth century is an odd feature, as is the main staircase within the arcade of the front. The Templar Haus, with the air of a feudal castle, also dates from the fourteenth century, though its handsome, profusely carved bay window is a sixteenth century addition.
In the centre of the square, a stone Roland surmounts the basin of a fine old fountain and watches o’er the market place, as he does in many a German town. But the gable of the timber guildhall dominates the square, just as the spirit of the good old burgher days, long gone, seems to dominate the whole of civic Hildesheim. Approaching Andreas Platz via Rathaus Strasse you pass an old apothecary shopan over-hanging, timber structure upon a first story of stonewhich displays Hildesheim’s coat of arms and the date 1656; a Latin inscription repeated in German, tells of the building’s destruction by fire on Bartholomew’s Day (August 24) and its re-erection by Christmastide. The apothecary is advertised above a small door, once devoted to the use of councilmen, by a sign stating :
Wilst du Arzny oder süssen Wein So geh dar die zu finden sein. Zwo ander’ Thur dir off en stan,
Zu Rath hier geht der Oldermann.
If you seek medicine or sweet wine,
Then go where such things you will fin’Where two other doors wide open stan’ ; To council, this leads the Alderman.
Andreas Platz, alone, has five houses ranging from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century, which display elaborate carving and (more or less legible) inscriptions. The façade of one shows a fine example of the characteristic German “writing on the wall;” freely translated it means :God! how it conies to pass that they hate me, against whom I raise no hand that they give me nothing, concede nothing, yet must suffer me to live. If they think I am crushed let them look to themselves, for I trust in God and despair not, and to those that merit it good luck comes every day.
A house near by has quaint carvings of people riding in odd vehicles, or bestriding birds and monsters. Hildesheim abounds in these fine old mansionshundreds of them. Oster Strasse boasts the Deutsches Haus, now an inn, which presents a very interesting arrangement of projecting gables and bay windows and an abundance of carving, ornamental brackets and panels. Carved figures show the four elements and many planets, while one group, representing the ages of man, pictures the child holding an hourglass appropriately inscribed, in Latin, “Today is mine, tomorrow thine.”
This wealth of imagery, expended in France on great cathedrals and other Gothic structures, was, in Germany, lavished on buildings of the Renaissance ; rich and delicate carvings, panels, medallions, symbolical figures, statues, consoles, shields, coats of arms, mot-toes, proverbs, and their like, occur in endless pro-fusion. The abstract virtues are frequently pictured, sometimes bearing their Latin names ; German proverbs and Latin homilies abound and, occasionally, ingenuous expressions of sentiment by the original owner of the house. Anecdote and humor (pictorial and otherwise) occur frequently and are a trifle broad, as was general not only then but as late as the beginning of the nineteenth century. On many buildings the carvings were indicative of the trade of the owner or occupant.
Like most German towns, Hildesheim has its legends; from the miraculous discovery of the “thousand-year rosebush” by Emperor Louis the Pious, in 814, to the story of the Turn-again Tower and the Maid of Hildesheim now gracing the apex of the Rathaus gable, they run the gamut of delightful improbability. I could not begin to tell them.
The famous Kaiserhaus on Langer Hagen, while interesting for its odd sculpture and the portraits of forty-seven emperors, is of a disjointed, misfit design. One might wander through Hildesheim’s streets for days, finding new bits of interest at every turn, and even then not see all there is to be seen. Thus there is produced a strong impression of picturesque medieval life, manifest even in detail; a life deeply religious yet strangely imaginative and superstitious ; wild, fantastic and vulgaryet, withal, hearty, homely and homelike to an unusual degree. The memory of it will remain for many a prosaic after-year and, at sight of a picture or of the printed word, “Hildesheim,” will spring into life as at the touch of a magic wand.
An interesting picture of social life in great trading cities is given by George Ebers’ “In the Fire of the Forge” and by his “Margery” (German, “Gred”) ; both introduce noted patrician families of Nuremberg, showing their vast sphere of influence, and their in-tense pride which has risen to the height of declining patents of nobility. There’s a proud class for you ! Ebers, like Dahn and Freytag, was professor and past master of his subject before becoming a novelist; so we may trust any of these men for a faithful picture of Germany. “Welt-Untergang,” a bright little story by Felix Dahn, is based on the widespread belief that the year 1000 would bring the end of the world; un-fortunately, no English translation has been published.
The churches of St. Michael and of St. Godehard (admired of architects and archaeologists) are unusual examples of the truly national development of the Romanesque in Germany ; even distant New York has, in its Metropolitan Museum, plaster models of their fine capitals. Some characteristic innovations of the German Romanesque were a raised choir (to admit of the vaulted crypt below), a triple eastern apse, an eastern and a western apse at one and the same time, and finally a large number of wellgrouped towers (often four or six) which relieved the somewhat bare exteriors. Bare these were, of a surety, but dignified and impressive.
St. Michael’s and St. Godehard’s are basilicas ; they have flat wooden roofs, and their plan lacks not only the true Gothic transepts, but also the great choir and ambulatory which, in the Pointed Style, stretched beyond the crossing and rivaled the nave; their clerestory walls are carried on piers alternating with two columns, which gives a pleasing sense of variety. Certainly these churches and others of their family in Cologne, Mainz, Bonn and Laach surpass, in grace and dignity, all contemporary structures of this class and form a fitting, pleasing memorial of the great empire that fostered them.
You will probably be glad to refresh your memory regarding the origin of this Holy Roman Empire, for it is impossible to obtain an intelligent idea of ancient Germany without knowing the status of its emperors.
As the Roman empire tottered to its fall, it could scarcely be called pagan, so widespread was the introduction of Christianity. When the seat of empire was moved from Rome to Byzantium (Constantinople) and Emperor Constantine was baptized, his was virtually a “holy” empire. But as this empire of the East declined in power, the popes at Rome grew eager to revive the empire of the West. No occasion seemed so favorable as the rise of Charlemagne, that Christian king whose power and possessions promised to equal those of old imperial Rome, and who had twice saved the papal throne. Accordingly Pope Leo III crowned him kaiser (caesar) of the Holy Roman Empireto be its temporal head while the pope remained its spiritual head.
For a time this proved an admirable arrangement. But after the Moslems had been decisively beaten back, after the western heathen had been subdued and converted, after the boundaries of the temporal empire became fixed and the influence of the church ex-tended even beyond themthe interdependence of pope and kaiser became less vital, and each chafed at the power of the other. The popes insisted unduly on the privilege of dictating in the kaisers’ realmeven in the election of a kaiser; while the kings of Germany held they were Holy Roman emperors ex-officio, with-out requiring the sanction of the pope or his formal coronation. This bickering ended in active aggression, and each worked ceaselessly to undermine the power of the other.
It is a great pity German kings spent so much time and treasure in striving to attain the rather empty honor of being Holy Roman emperor; and it is a significant fact that, with few exceptions, kings like Henry the Fowler and Rudolph of Hapsburgwho were never crowned emperor and didn’t care a rap about itachieved greater power and did more for Germany than any other sovereigns.
We do not mention the cathedral in connection with Romanesque churches because it has been altered out of all resemblance to its original self. Mr. Baedeker tartly remarks that its interior was entirely disfigured in 1724-30, adding that the western towers were rebuilt in 1839 without regard to their original form.
Confession, they say, is good for the soul; a fine, catholic precept whatever your creedso we may as well confess. None of us had shown any desire to see famous churches of the Holy Roman Empire, but all were very eager to see a certain rosebush reputed to be fully a thousand years old. It would, perhaps, be no exaggeration to say that this venerable plant first drew us to Hildesheim, so we undertook the pilgrim-age to the Domhof and its “entirely disfigured” Dom, with greatest fervor. O ! irresponsible, unaccountable, unspeakable tourist! there you go again; the art of centuries, the fame of kings and emperors, the spiritual dawn of nationsall forgotten, overlooked, ignored, in the unconquerable desire to see a rosebush said to have been planted ten centuries ago. Yet, like pilgrims of old, of our own faith were we repaid; we approached in the proper spirit and were rewarded by receiving an impression that we fain would carry with us, always. The minute we pass under the great arch-way and enter the Domhof (cathedral close, or square) we seem to leave the town’s turbulent, kaleidoscopic life far behind. Before us lies a quiet square shaded by fine old trees. Birds are singing and fluttering across the sun-flecked lawn, in the centre of which rises the ancient, bronze Bernward column. This gem of art, depicting twenty-eight scenes from the life of Christ, is also honored with a place in New York’s Museum.
At a respectful distance beyond the square rises a line of encircling houses, simple and dignified in their old timberwork; upon our right an imposing, graceful church with Romanesque detail and Renaissance lines the Dom. In the shadow of a Renaissance crossing-tower we enter the cool porch of the northern “transept.” We go down a step into its refreshing shade, pass an iron grille and then descend another step. It grows cooler and quieter and we seem to leave a century behind with every step ; then more steps and more centuries, and we stand in the broad, cheerful nave with the stained sunlight falling upon us through the southern windows.
The sacristan wears a bright red cassock, gray hair around the tonsure adding dignity to his grave speech as he points out each treasure. Great brazen doors, a wonderful brazen font whose massive cover is suspended from the ceiling, the famous candelabrum, the rood loft, the gilded sarcophagus of St. Godehard, the gilded tomb of St. Epiphanius with the silver reliefs of the early eleventh century, a fifteen-foot bronze Easter column by Bishop Bernward, and I know not what other wonders. But we looked with half an eye and listened hardly at all, impatient to see our rosebush. At last the round of the church was made; a massive door unlocked, we went down more steps and back more centuries, and stood in the cloisters. Past crumbling cenotaphs we hasten, through an archway, and out into the sunlight of the cloister court.
Imagine a beautiful garden almost wild in the care-less profusion of its vines and bushes, but nowise neglected. To the west the gray, semicircular apse of the Dom; on the other sides venerable two-story cloisters whose great first-story round arches, surmounted by delicate little Romanesques colonnades, are almost hidden under heavy vinesabove, the huge red tile roofs with tiny dormers rising against the sunny German sky.
On the green are the graves of forgotten generations, marked by iron and stone crosses and slabs upon the ground ; standing among them is a tiny Gothic chapelthe Annakapelle (chapel of St. Anne). And roses, roses everywhere; they grow on bushes among the graves, they cover the stone slabs in the grass, they nearly smother the front of the exquisite little chapel in the middle of the court. The hush of peace is over the placethe peace of centuries; the sorely needed, seldom gained, peace of those dark ages when human beasts of prey were abroad, and many a man or woman could find no peace at all save with the church. In places such as this, they found it. Here they were free to forget bloodshed and ruin and starvation, in the pursuit of the arts and crafts; or, scroll in hand, to pace the still cloisters amid the lingering scent of the roses. A veritable “rosary” for them, indeed. Do you know them, those rosaries? We have one at homeinherited from some great-aunt or othera string of ivory beads thumbed dark brown by the fevered hands of many generations who told them round and round, seeking relief from trouble, and solutions for their hearts’ problemsseeking, and not infrequently counting out the answer as on a wonderful, omniscient abacus.
Our guide wisely said no word; he stood gravely waiting, the breeze faintly stirring the folds of his red robe, while we looked our fill. Then he waved his hand westward and said, “The thousand-year-old rose-bush.” From a stem not much thicker than one’s arm the old plant springs and, spreading and climbing some thirty feet high on the walls that have carried it so long, half covers the gray stone apse with its soft green. We had hoped to find it all abloom ; it was not, but, happily for us, there were a few modest, starlike blossoms shining among the leaves. Our guide now waved his arm to include the whole scene, and re-marked, “The most beautiful spot in Germany.” He fell silent again, taking our agreement for granted; and, indeed, there was not one to gainsay him. We turned to the rosebush once more and learned there is documentary proof of its existence for fully Soo years, supported by the additional evidence of remains of walls built to protect it during alterations to the cathedral. Judging from this extreme care, there is reason to suppose that this is the bush known to have been planted two hundred years earlier by one of the bishops.
We stood and gazed and admired, each busy with thoughts of the strange and distant past, until rudely recalled to the present by Scoffy’s exclamation, “Holy snifters ! and I would have bet dollars to doughnuts that it was a crimson rambler.”
We could not remain till three, the hour for seeing the truly noteworthy relics in the treasury of the cathedral. A long journey lay before us; moreover, the one Young Lady who had strained an ankle going down unexpected steps, would be more comfortable riding than sightseeing. So we tore ourselves away from those fascinating streets and from the wondrous “rosary” whose spell of silence bound us till we reached the Harz mountains, that had been beckoning to us all morning.
Bobbie drove southeast on the Goslarsche Strasse, past the Galgenberg (gallows’ hill) where a fine set of silver vessels was recently unearthed ; these, sup-posed to have belonged to the Roman general Varus, are now in the museum at Berlin.
Following the valley of the Innerste, which rivulet comes from the haunted Lautenthal of the Harz and flows through Hildesheim, he pushed on via Heersam and Grasdorf to Salzgittera small town with salt baths; just before reaching here we could see, across the valley, the Barenberg, near which Tilly of the Catholic party defeated Christian IV of Denmark in 1626. Hildesheim, as you may conjecture, did not altogether escape the Thirty Years’ War, though it figured most prominently later, being taken by the Catholic general Pappenheim in 1632, and retaken by Duke Frederick Ulrich of Brunswick, in 1634, after a stubborn resistance of nearly a year.
The Thirty Years’ War was a terrible example of the ruinous effects of internecine struggles. The population of Germany was reduced, according to various estimates, anywhere between twenty per cent. and fifty per cent. ; the population of Bohemia, the center from which this war spread, was reduced from about four millions to the neighborhood of eight hundred thousand. Wallenstein, that haughty Bohemian noble with an ambition little short of Napoleon’s, was a Napoleon not only in generalship but in his ruthless disregard of public welfare. Having raised his army single-handed, as agreed, he little cared that it subsisted entirely on the country, with the result that sections of Germany were reduced to a desert. It has been stated that only of recent years has the total number of horned cattle in Germany equalled the figures of 1618.
“Philip Rollo,” by James Grant, tells of an early period of this war and shows us the Protestant king Christian IV of Denmark, his adversaries Wallenstein and Tilly, and the Merodeursthose most terrible of hired troops. Stanley Weyman’s “My Lady Rotha,” which opens in Thuringia, also draws a dramatic picture of the war, though at a later period under the valiant Friederich Ulrich of Brunswick, the elector John George of Saxony, and the famous Protestant champion Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden.
But no book designed to make agreeable reading can fully depict those dreadful times. In England the Reformation set brother against brother and father against son, and while this was bad enough, at least they were all Englishmen. In Germany, where the struggle was carried on largely by hired troops whose interest lay in a protracted war; who carried with them for each force an equal army of women, wives, children and campfollowers; who were free to plunder and devastate a relatively foreign countrythe horror of the situation cannot be described in a few measured sentences. The Danes and, later, the Swedes strove with more or less success to enforce a certain amount of discipline outside the battlefield, but the Imperialists made not even a pretense of any such measures. The French, always planning and plotting to weaken the empire and always bold as lions when the empire was in trouble, actually pushed this policy to the extent of sending an army against the Catholics, and ravaged Bavaria in unmitigated fashion.
Short of Spain’s absolute fanaticism in the Netherlandsa repetition of which the intervening half-century’s intellectual growth forbadeit is hard to find an example to show what most of Germany suffered during these thirty years.
Somewhere before Goslar we passed an old fortified farm, a highly interesting sight. There were the red-roofed structuresmanor house, barns, outbuildings. all completeset in a field surrounded by a big stone wall with corner towers ; and the river meandering past one corner of the quadrangle doubtless supplied water for the moat, in those strenuous days of long ago. I wish I could state its exact location, but memory plays me false and I made no memoranda during the trip. Moral: use a notebook; for its record may aid you in bringing to mind something you very much wish to recall. Mere man rises superior to suggestions about keeping a diary, but it is a handy thing to use afterward if only to locate the subject of an unmarked photograph.