ON the morrow we resumed our journey. Mater, foresight had provided tiny American-flag badges for each of us, and two eighteen-inch flags for the motor, lamp racks completed our festival decoration. Fully fifty people watched our departure, but did not crowd us in American fashion, remaining a reasonable distance away so that we had room to move; there was the usual quota of grocer and butcher boys, suggestive of delayed dinners, yet, as a whole, it was a prosperous looking crowd compared with some in England, where the seediest, sorriest looking groups one may imagine, gathered to speed us on our way. No doubt this was due to England, great “army of the unemployed” of which we heard so much. Mater regretted her inability to photograph both sides of the street at once that she might “do full justice to the frankfurters,” as Scoffy suggested.
Bobbie took a short cut across country to Mainz (Mayence). The great bridge over the Rhine gives a fine view of this city and of its cathedral, a famous Romanesque church. Downstream a bit (where the railway bridge crosses) is the island Peters-Au, once containing the summer palace of Charlemagne, son, Louis the Pious, who died there in 840. The oldest name of Mainz is said to be of Celtic origin. Drusus established a camp here in 10 or 15 B. C., and it became the seat of the governor of Germania Superior. Christianity had already obtained a firm hold in the fourth century, and the city eventually became an archbishopric and seat of the primate. The cathedral is specially noted for old monuments; near the door of the Memorie and cloisters is one to Fastrada, Charlemagne’s third wife, of whom an interesting legend is told.
Outside the kaiser, door there hung a bell cord which those seeking justice might pull at any hour. One night, the bell rang repeatedly, and the cause was finally traced to a snake that glided slowly away. The kaiser followed till it had led him to its nest, occupied by an enormous lizard, which was at once dispatched. Next day the snake visited the kaiser and laid a splendid jewel at his feet; in the fullness of his love, his first thought was to have the jewel set and give it to Fastrada. It was a magic jewel which caused the recipient to exert a marvelous attraction upon the donor. Charles’ love for the queen now passed all understanding, and when she died he was unconsolable and would not leave her body. Things came to such a pass that one of the bishops, suspecting a talisman, found hidden in the queen, mouth this magic ring, which he quietly removed. The kaiser now lavished such affection upon the bishop that he threw the ring into the pool at Aix, whereupon the city became a favorite imperial residence.
There being no road downstream, from Mainz, on the left side of the river, Bobbie went on to Bingen. Midway lay Nieder-Ingelheim, an insignificant village, the site of Charlemagne, palace. Little trace of the building remains beyond a small part of the church of St. Remigius, once the chapel of the palace. We reached the Rhine at the upper end of its most interesting section. No steamer trip can compare with the intimate acquaintance gained by riding along its banks. Scoffythe first time on recordbegrudged a stop for lunch; for the beautiful day and lovely scenery set our blood racing as we sighted “the vine-clad hills of Bingensweet Bingen on_ the Rhine.”
On the terrace of the Victoria Hotel, under the arbor there, a few rays of sunlight, filtering down, struck the golden wine sparkling in our glasses ; but, out yon-der its full strength glittered on the great golden river, stealing silently past. Bingen was gay with bunting; not for “the Fourth,” but because of a great reunion of student corps. They were scheduled to gather at the base of the colossal “Germania” which loomed above the Rüdesheimer vineyards across the water.
Taking the bridge to Bingerbruck and making several sharp turns to cross a second bridge over the rail-way tracks, we started along the river on the direct road to Coblenz. Just opposite, rise the gray walls of ruined Ehrenfels, and on a rock in the middle of the Rhine, stands the famous Mouse Tower, the last refuge of cruel Bishop Hatto, said to have been devoured alive by thousands of mice that swam the stream in pursuit of him. This fate he drew upon himself by burning to death the famished peasants, who raided his barns and whom he likened to hungry, thievish mice. Southey,* poem “God,* Judgment On Hatto” gives a stirring description of the occurrence.
A previous bishop of Mainz, also named Hatto, is said to have been guilty of rather treacherous acts. He was regent for Louis the Child, last of the Carlovingian line. In 905, while Adalbert of Badenberg (who slew the emperor,* brother) was being fruitlessly besieged by imperial forces, Hatto offered to act as mediator, and, by promising to see that Adalbert returned in safety to his castle, induced him to throw himself on the emperor,* mercy. After starting for the imperial camp Hatto complained he had had no break-fast, so the party returned to the castle for a meal. Adalbert was held prisoner and condemned to death for high treason, but when he accused Hatto of treachery, the bishop said, “I fulfilled my agreement when I took you safely back to your castle for breakfast.”
Conrad of Franconia, Louis’ successor, was a bitter enemy of the Saxon duke, Henry (afterwards Henry the Fowler). Hatto planned a pitfall for Henry, inviting him to a banquet at which he was to be presented with a gold chain contrived to throttle its wearer. The secret leaked out by way of the goldsmith, so Henry sent Hatto word that, while he believed he was more stiff-necked than Adalbert, he thought best to decline the invitation. Some say Hatto died of chagrin, others that the devil bore him away into Mt. Etna. Kaiser Conrad, on his deathbedrealizing that only one man could save the empiredispatched his brother Eberhard to Henry with the royal insignia, and begged the princes to elect Henry king.
Most archbishops of Mainz were of different stamp. Boniface, for example, or the worthy Willegis (A. D. 1009), a wheelwright, son who, taunted with his lowly birth, promptly had his apartments decorated with painted wheels accompanied by the words, “Willegis, Willegis, remember what your origin is.” Since then, the Mainz archbishop,* coat of arms displays white wheels on a red ground. Ehrenfels was erected by the governor of the Rheingau, about 1210, and later became a residence of the archbishops of Mainz.
Was there ever another river like the Rhine ! Was there ever another small stretch of country boasting a wealth of romantic history interwoven with legend,* fairy tale, fiction and mythology, to equal this smiling valley from Bingen to Coblenz! Many songs tell its story; poets of all nations sing its praises and recall its legends in their verse. We grew quite excited as we approached each point of interest, conning over as much of its story as we could recall.
Tradition has it that Charlemagne, sojourning at his palace at Ingelheim, noticed that snow always melted first on the slopes of Rüdesheimer hill. Infer-ring that this would be a fine place to plant the grape, he straightway ordered it donethus laying, more than eleven hundred years ago, the foundation of this excellent vintage of world-wide fame. One charming legend tells how, on a mild summer,* night when moonbeams have built a bridge across the Rhine, a figure in royal purple may be seen gliding over to the opposite shore; it is Charlemagne, risen from his grave to bless the vines and breathe again the air heavy with their fragance.
Soon castle Rheinstein towered above us. As its ownerPrince Henry of Prussiakindly leaves it open to the public during his absence, we stopped for an inspection. Though of unknown origin it probably antedates the thirteenth century, since it is mentioned in 1279 and was said to have belonged to the era of robber barons who flourished for some time previous. By a zigzag path of eleven stories we climbed 26o feet above the river. A bench is placed at alternate levels for the weary; Pater grew weary at first sight of the climb and remained so, but we others went on and were charmed beyond measure. Rheinstein is a little gem and a marvel of ingenuity. How its builders ever managed to get so many different courtyards, terraces and buildings, with a solitary cliff as base, is a wonder. Of course, many of these are at different levels, and this has a good deal to do with it. Mater quite fell in love with the place and declared only a fear of incommoding Prince Henry prevented her from buying it at once. Such dear little gardens, and terraces, and circular stairways, vaulted halls, and towers; such a wealth of old furnishings, old armor and curios!
Many windows give fine views, but the best view was obtained from the watchtower overhanging the Rhine. We ascended by a very narrow, arched, out-side staira process best described as climbing up the back of a flying buttress. One glance at the sheer drop to the river, and another up and down stream, conveyed a good idea of the small chance travelers had of escaping those light-fingered, heavy-handed barons of long ago.
A log-raft of astonishing dimensions was floating downstream; it was equipped with several masts, an elaborate steering apparatus and a house for sheltering its crew.
We could see our Packard,* yellow wheels beneath the trees at the roadside. Wisps of blue cigar smoke moving from place to place apprised us that Pater was growing restless, so we hastened to descend.
Near the water, edge, not far beyond Rheinstein, stands the picturesque Clemens Capelle (chapel of St. Clement) founded they say, to save the souls of robber barons hanged by Rudolph of Hapsburg. These genteel thieves had by no means such an easy time as one might imagine; not infrequently they brought down a hornet, nest about their ears. Once the Rhenish towns banded together and burned down several objectionable castles. Reichenstein (Falkenburg) was one of these, but its owner soon had it rebuilt and resumed his favorite calling. Reichenstein, Sooneck, and Heim-burg were all destroyed by King Rudolphtheir owners being slain, or hanged to the most convenient trees.
Rudolph was the first Hapsburg to ascend the German throne. With occasional interruptions this house has continued to reign, outliving the Holy Roman Empire, which, come to a sad state of impotence and inertia, was finally wiped out by Napoleon Bonaparte.
When the house of Hohenstaufen died out, many years of turmoil followed. There were three claimants to the throne; none of them, apparently, able to obtain a definite hold on it. In this land without a ruler, no wonder every man looked out for himself rather than for law and order, seizing what property he could. Under these circumstances, no wonder knights and barons became “robber knights” and “robber barons” ; and it should not be too seriously held against them, considering the times, for in those days might made right. They were not thieves or robbers ; rather, petty nobles run wildconfiscating what they could, just as their overlords were doing.
Now it happened that Friedrich III, burgrave of Nuremberg and descendant of that Conrad who “read the riot act” to Henry the Lion, thought he saw, in his cousin Rudolph, a man who might bring both right and might into these sad German affairs. Since Barbarossa,* day the Hohenzollerns had steadily grown in influence as burgraves of Nuremberg and always showed a sane, if shrewd, desire to see the empire powerful and well administered. With the assistance of the archbishop of Mainz (who influenced the other ecclesiastics) Friedrich had Rudolph elected king* (1273) ; it proved a wise choiceof great benefit to Germany and to the common peoplefor Rudolph soon demonstrated his sense and ability, and efficiently filled the throne. Many would not believe that there was a real king, at last. One of these, Ottocar king of Bohemia, learned it finally to his costfor his army was defeated, and he slain, on the plain of Marchfeld (near Wagram). Having restored order among the lords and princes, the king, who never did things by halves, set to work to straighten out troublesome odds and ends; and he now showed even less ceremony, hanging many nobles who possibly boasted prouder escutcheons and longer pedigrees than his own. We need not hesitate to take an interest in the legends and romances of these old Rhine castles; for though their owners were, many of them, strung up like common felons, they were merely misguided marauders drifting with the times.
To tell the truth, this so-called robbery, when not carried to excess, was simply taking toll of travelers passing through one, landan ancient, legitimate privilege. In return for this toll, nobles living along a river kept up the towpaths and supplied horses or mules to tow craft against the current; those living elsewhere kept the roads in order and furnished escorts or guaranteed safe-conduct. In both cases the nobles hung their shields over the doors of their town houses as a sign that merchants and the better class of travelers might find food and shelter there; for the inns of that day were abominable. This is commonly believed to be the origin of the elaborate signs displayed by old inns.
Charlotte Yonge, “The Dove in the Eagle,* Nest” describes a “robber” castle in Swabia and shows how ancient privileges were abused ; “Ehrenstein” by G. P. R. James, also a Swabian story, describes life in a medieval castle and the mysteries and superstitions attached to it; Robert Barr, “The Swordmaker,” and especially his book of short stories, entitled “The Strong Arm,” familiarize us with many interesting places, facts and legends of both Rhine and Moselle, though the liberties he sometimes takes with historical characters tend to rob these tales of probability.
The chapel of St. Clement was constructed of wood from the trees upon which some of these unfortunate knights had been hanged, and of stones from the ruins of their castles; their bodies, stolen at dead of night from the gibbets, were buried in the chapel, in the hope that their souls would be saved from damnation. Eventually, the archbishop of Mainz absolved them and then they were buried in the consecrated church-yard, to the great comfort of sorrowing relatives, friends and retainers.
Very soon after St. Clement, was passed, Falkenburg (generally known as Reichenstein) towered above us ; it has been restored and is now a private residence. With it is connected the story of an heiress whose affianced lover, while stopping at a forest castle, fell victim to the charms of his host,* daughter. The strange, wondrous beauty of this lady, and their romantic meeting in the moonlight made Sir Knight forget all about his bride-to-be at Falkenburg; so next morning, he was greatly perplexed when his host maintained he had no daughter. From a peasant guide, he learned the startling news that the old man once had a daughter of rare beauty, who made sport of her admirers and (somewhat after the manner of Princess Kunigunde of Kynast) egged them on to foolhardy deeds which ended in death. The mother of one of these unfortunate wooers called down a fearful curse upon the girl, in consequence of which she died ; but her ghost still haunted the castle, and whoever fell victim to her charms was doomed to die within a few months. Terrified, and smitten with remorse, the knight hurried to Falkenburg and asked to be married at once. His request was granted, but the ghostly beauty claimed him nevertheless; for, during his honeymoon he died quite suddenly when the fateful day arrived. However, the curse did not pursue his widow, for her son grew to be a fine fellow, the idol of the whole countryside.
Reichenstein and Rheinstein are connected by a legend. Gerda of Rheinstein was wooed and won by the heir to castle Sternburg who, as was customary, asked a relative to present his suit to Gerda, father. This relative was his uncle Gunzelin of Reichenstein. Once the crafty old Gunzelin had set eyes on Gerda, he determined to win her for himself; and Gerda, father, whose cupidity overpowered him at prospect of a more brilliant match, accepted Gunzelin, suit. The wedding day was set and, willy-nilly, poor Gerda had to obey and set out for the Clemens Capelle to be married. Near the chapel, her palfrey suddenly shied and bolted. The senile bridegroom was hurled over the cliff to his death, in an attempt to stop the runaway; Gerda,* father fared little better in his attempt, though he escaped with broken bones. The bride seemed in deadly peril, when her former lover emerged from a hiding place where he had been watching the proceedings; he managed to seize the frightened steed and soon brought it to a standstill. Her father then experienced a change of heart, as all stern parents should under such circumstances, and the lovers were happily married.
The gray walls of Sooneck rising from the hills, showed we were approaching our next castle and re-called the story of the blind archer and his terrible vengeance upon its lord, who was baiting this poor prisoner for the amusement of his guests.
Shortly after leaving Rheinstein, we passed a steamer with many Americans aboard. Somebody, sharp eyes discovered our car and the miniatures of “Old Glory” fluttering so bravely. Such a rush as there was to the starboard rail, and such shouting and waving of handkerchiefs. We waved, too, and Bobbie honk-honked on his horn. “I can just imagine how glad they are to see us,” said Mater. “I’m glad to see ’em, toodarn ’em all” growled Scoffy, looking ready to quarrel with anybody who dared suggest he was sentimental. Had anything been lacking to make it a banner day this little greeting from “Home, sweet home” filled the want completely. What wonder we were happy as children just out of school ! Scoffy waved to the disappearing vessel, and hummed a verse of that quaint German air,
“Wenn du zu mein’ Schätzel kommst, Sag’ ich lass’ sie grüszen ;
Wenn sie fraget wie mirs geht, Sag auf beiden Füszen.
Wenn sie fraget wo ich sei, Sag ich sei gestorben; Wenn sie an zu weinen fängtSag ich kame Morgen.”
“By the way,” cried Scoffy, “this is a most crushing argument to refute popular misconception concerning `stolid, methodical Germans’ ; written for a man, mind you, but displaying all the caprice, inconsistency, whimwhatever you wish to term itof a woman.” We others smiled in tacit acquiescence. The following lines, though they do little justice to the original, will give an idea of it:
If you meet dear sweetheart mine, Say I send a greeting;
If questioned how I’m getting onOn shank’s mare I’m speeding.
If she wonders where I am, Say I’m dead of sorrow;
If her tears begin to flow, Say I’ll call tomorrow.
Fürstenberg has a most thrilling legend, but it is the kind of story that, as the saying goes, “a young girl would not care to have her mother read,” so I leave it to a more skillful pen than mine.
On the opposite bank lies Lorch, at the mouth of the Wisper which has found its way from the famous Wisperthal, where the wind still whispers of wondrous treasure buried in castle ruins. Do not laugh with scorn at this fancy; for does not a treacherous wind, even now, whisper insistently to willing ears of untold treasure buried by a certain Captain Kidd, and howl derisively when fortunes are squandered in a vain search? What though foolish enthusiasts band together under the impressive name of “syndicate”; are they far removed in calibre, from the ill-fated wife of that miller of the Wisper, who died many centuries ago? Overlooking Lorch are ruins of castle Nollich, which undoubtedly saw the eleventh century, since it is mentioned in 1110. A knight once scaled the west-ern cliff (called the “Devil’s Ladder”) on horseback,
for reasons best known to himself and now variously interpreted.
Our car carries us to Bacharach with its ruins of the church of St. Werner and its well-known timbered building. Ruins of Burg Stahleck (once the principal residence of the counts Palatine) command the town and, up the Steegerthal, are ruins of Burg Stahlberg. Do not assume that castles abounded on the Rhine alone; the adjoining country is dotted with ruins. In the Wisperthal, close by, are the remains of Rheinberg and Cammerberg and, in the adjoining Sauerthal, of Waldeck and of Sauerburg.
Beyond Bacharach we pass a few more islands and then a bend in the river discloses that most quaint of island castlesdie Pfalz. This tiny stronghold with its picturesque roof and turrets and projecting corners, is entered by a doorway, six feet above the rock, to which access is now obtained by a flight of wooden steps.
It would seem strange were no legend connected with this place. One story tells how Conrad of HohenstaufenBarbarossa’s brotherimprisoned his daughter here because of her attachment to a son of Henry the Lion in preference to suitors selected for her; the young man is said to have visited the Pfalz secretly and to have won over the girl’s mother, who connived at their marriage in the dismal apartments of this island prison. The present building, erected as late as 1314, can scarcely have witnessed these roman-tic scenes, but there was probably an older structure on this site.
Gutenfels, which looks down upon the Pfalz from the heights above Caub, has a well authenticated romance. Richard, earl of Cornwall, was victor in a tournament at Cologne (where he fought incognito) and received his laurels from the sister of the count of Falkenstein who lived at this very castle at Caub. Social amenities followed the tournament and the impetuous knight wooed and won the fair lady, promising to return in three months’ time, when he would be free to disclose his identity and claim her hand. Time passed, but no fond lover appeared. When he did come, Count Falkenstein received him with scant courtesy, quickly amending this demeanor, however, upon learning the rank of his guest and that his prolonged absence had been caused by his election as king of Germany. Guta, the fair sister, good soul that she was, threw herself upon his breast without waiting to hear who he was or why he had stayed away so long. It was well she felt that way about it, for the royal honors soon faded.
This took place after the lapse of the Hohenstaufen line, when there were three claimants to the throneRichard of Cornwall, William of Holland, and Alfonso of Castile. Each had a certain amount of backing from some of the electors, but none was strong enough to push matters to a finish and make his empty honors real. In consequence there came that leader-less, lawless period, so terrible for Germany till practical, hard-headed, iron-fisted Rudolph of Hapsburg came to the front and proved himself king in name and deed. But this romance was not shaken and, in honor of sister Guta, Count Falkenstein named his castle Gutenfels.
A stretch of straight road brings us to Oberwesel, a picturesque town known to the Romansas, indeed, were Bacharach, Bingen and other Rhenish towns. In 70 A. D., a battle between Romans and Gauls was fought at Bingium (Bingen). Just before Oberwesel, we pass below the ruined castle and modem château of Schonburg, both of which now belong to the Rhinelander family of New York City. Count Frederick Hermann of Schonburg was the famous Marshal Schomberg, who eventually went to England with the prince of Orange and fell in the battle of the Boyne.
Across the river is the Roszstein, a cliff somewhat resembling the Loreleifelsen. We did not have to wait long for this; one great bend in the river, almost at right angles, then a turn back again to the left, and the famous Lorelei rose before us across the shimmering stream that gleamed as if with the reflection of the whole wonderful Niebelungen treasure which, as every child can tell you, is buried here. This is the deepest part of the Rhine as well as the narrowest, and a thought of the many poor souls drowned in those rushing waters, while listening to the Lorelei’s siren song, immediately came to us all. As if by pre-concerted action we struck up that famous melody, “Ich weiss nicht was soll es bedeuten, dass ich so traurig bin.”
This legend may easily have had a rather firm foundation of fact. The cliff has a remarkable echo, audible in certain places on the river in the quiet of night or early morning. What more likely than that some luckless fisher, or traveler, approaching in his skiff, of a moonlight night, should hear singing coming apparently from the great Lorelei cliff andwith no singer in sightshould, in those superstitious times, immediately ascribe a supernatural origin to the song. Under spur of a fevered imagination, he might even see the golden-haired Lorelei in the evening mists above him. So much being granted, the probability of his driving the boat against a reef and drowning in the black waters, is but a natural conclusion.
After a sharp bend in the river bank, comes St. Goar, with a harbor protected by breakwaters, dominated by the extensive ruins of castle Rheinfels, which was founded in 1276 by Count Diether III of Katzenelnbogena powerful house once ruling all the territory between the Rhine and the Lahn. A Rhine-toll was established at St. Goar on completion of the castle, one of the strongest on the river; once, twenty-six Rhenish towns banded together to destroy it, suffering defeat and the loss of some four thousand men. Until the middle of the eighteenth century it was never taken, and then only by surprise ; while, in 1692, its Hessian garrison stood off an army of 24,000 French-men. Across the river stand remains of a fourteenth century castle, Neu-Katzenelnbogen, called Die Katz (the Cat) for brevity’s sake. About three miles further along, and also on the opposite bank, are the ruins of castle Thurnberg, completed by Kuno von Falkenstein (archbishop of Treves) and derisively called Die Maus (the Mouse) by the Katzenelnbogen family. A remarkable name, this last (cat’s elbow, if you trans-late it), possibly derived from a crook in the river, like Krumm (crooked) Elbow on the Hudson. Some maintain the family name was Katz and that the “elbow” was added in admiration of the arm of a fair countess of this line.
Thurnberg’s legend concerns a “white maiden” with whom young nobles were wont to fall in love; a proceeding productive of no better results than courting a nixie.
Going inland from the Katz, up the Haselbach val-ley, you would find the splendid ruins of Reichenberg, as well as those of two other castles of the old “Katz” family. Castles there were a-plenty; the whole Rhine country was full of them. The little ones usually owed allegiance to the big ones; they, in turn, to others still biggereach to his overlordup to the Landgraf, who looked up to the duke, or to the emperor direct. Those were strenuous days : overlords were sometimes away to the wars, or otherwise engaged ; so it behooved all to keep armor bright and hands accustomed to the grasp of broadsword and battle-axe lest one might, suddenly, be gobbled up by one’s neighbors.
Rheinfels owns to a legend of lovers and a linden tee, with a heavy villain doing incalculable damage to all three of them and, eventually, to himself as well. Indeed, the linden seems to appeal very strongly to German lovers of all timeswitness that fine old song, “Am Brunnen vor dem Thore, da steht ein Lindenbaum,” as well as similar songs, through the ages, down to Meyer-Helmund’s song, the “Lindenbaum,” written, as it were, but yesterday.
Salzig (“Salty”from its saline springs) has little of interest beyond its location in one of the most extensive cherry-growing districts of the Rhine. But across the river you may see ruins of the famous twin castles of Sterrenberg and Liebenstein, called “the hostile brothers.” Their story is too well known to re-peat, but I call attention to the wall and moat between them, which lend credence to the tale.
The next scene in our ever changing panorama was Boppard, quite a large town and watering-glace. This is the ancient Bodobriga, said to have been founded by Celts and, later, fortified by the Romans, who named it after some of their engines of war. Considerable remains of Roman concrete walls are still extant. The town was ceded to the elector of Treves by Emperor Henry VII, but the new owner had to spend six years in obtaining possession; this accomplished, he built the castle still standing down near the water, and never let go his grip.
The Rhine now twists around in a huge S-shaped curve many miles in length, in the midst of which we see, on the opposite heights, the modern château Liebeneck. Coming out on a straight stretch again we get, across the river, a view of Braubach and of the Marksburg, said to be the only old castle on the Rhine that escaped destruction ; for any that survived the hundred and one other vicissitudes incident to those times, were destroyed by the French who made a pretty clean sweep of the valley in 1688-9. This French invasion was due to Louis XIV’s claiming the elector-ate (on the death of Charles, Elector Palatine) by virtue of the fact that his brother, Duke Philip of Orleans, had married a sister of the defunct elector. There was also a quarrel over the archbishopric of Cologne which Louis wanted to get for the bishop of Strassburg. Strassburg he had captured by treachery in 1681. Now, he proceeded to lay waste a great part of the Palatinate. Towns and villages were mercilessly destroyed; Heidelberg, Speier, Worms, Mannheim and the whole country as far as the borders of Alsace were ravaged and burned in sheer wantonness not to be dignified with the term of military operations. The most prominent act of outright vandalism in this campaignif one may call it a campaignwas destroying the beautiful castle of Heidelberg. But far worse than the vandalism were the horrid atrocities practiced on peasants and townsfolk everywhere; the French commander Melac and his lieutenants established for themselves a reputation as terrible, under the circumstances, as that of bloody Alva. Louisa Mühlbach’s “Prince Eugene and His Times” touches on these matters. If you will bear in mind some of these scores that France was running up against herself with Germany, I shall tell you another by and by.
After passing Braubach we entered Rhens, which has several half-timbered houses, but is famous mainly for its mineral watersecured by tapping a spring in the river,* bed, and piping the water to shore, where over five million bottles are annually put on the market. On the opposite bank are the Victoria and Minerva springs.
A little below Rhens is the Konigsstuhl (king’s chair), a masonry structure erected by Emperor Charles IV on the ancient meeting place of the electors, and restored in the nineteenth century. It is octagonal in shape, 22 feet across and 18 feet high, and resembles a pulpit. Here, in 1338, the electors thought to end a vexing question by declaring every legally appointed German king therewith constituted Roman emperor whether crowned by the pope or not. Well meant, but not successful in practice, as Charles IV came out of the small end of the horn in his subsequent encounter with the pope, being, as the books say, “crowned with a humiliating ceremony.”
About three miles beyond the Konigsstuhl we come to the town of Capellen, above which is Stolzenfels. Built on the site of an older fortress by Arnold von Isenburg, archbishop of Treves, during the thirteenth century, it came to a miserable end at the hands of the French in 1869, as did so many others; among these its vis-à-vis, Lahneck, which towers above Nieder-Lahnstein at the mouth of the river Lahn. Stolzenfels was rebuilt by Frederick William IV, and many of the German and the English royalties of our time have tarried beneath its roof. This castle belongs to the crown and is open to the public at stated times.
Had we left Frankfort earlier and spent the night in Bingen, or somewhere along the Rhine, we might have visited many castles and nearly all the ruins; yet, too much of this sort of thing proves worse than too little, for the castles as well as the views are more or less alike.
With the sight of the Lahn our trip along the Rhine is almost ended. Trolley-tracks and coffee gardens mark our approach to a large city, and soon we pass a great island in the river and enter Coblenz, our stop-ping place.
Just before reaching here a motorcar approached, and the ladies in it jumped up and waved to us, one of them nearly falling out as she saluted our little American flags. Real “Gibson girls” they were, too, and a sight for sore eyes, though I say it without prejudice to the rosy, flaxen-haired daughters of the Rhine.