ON leaving Hamburg, after having had three days’ experience of continental life in that city, our movements are scarcely less deliberate, and more in accordance with the rues established here for controlling the currents of daily life, than were those with which we approached our hotel on the night of our arrival.
Coming from the midst of the exciting scenes and events which characterize our American life, the attempt to adjust one’s self to the conditions and movements here is quite like that which he experiences in the endeavor to get on his land-legs after a long voyage. At first the dead calm of the new conditions seems strangely disturbed, and he quite sympathizes with the drunken man who, on staggering homewards late at night, holds on to a friendly lamp-post waiting for his house to come by in the procession he sees passing.
But it is said that there are exceptions to all rules, and we find that there is one place where even a German ” hurries up.” The official who sells the tickets and the one who weighs the baggage (no checks given) transact a surprising amount of business in a few minutes prior to the departure of the train.
As we leave by the train going in the direction of Bremen we cross several long railroad bridges, and with a freedom from that indefinable fear which one experiences in crossing less solid structures, many examples of which we have in America. These bridges are composed of a series of solid iron girders extending above and below the track, and forming a complete ellipse for each space between the piers.
All this part of northern Germany is fiat and comparatively unproductive. Great pains are taken to make the most of every natural ad-vantage, and great skill is exhibited in adjusting the different crops to the variety of soils. The more swampy lands are utilized by cutting great quantities of peat for fuel.
A two hours’ ride brings us to Bremen, where we find an interesting mixture in architecture, elegant modern buildings being interspersed with ancient structures, many of which we can readily believe to be hundreds of years old.
The old ramparts and fortifications are artistically laid out in shaded walks and parks, forming a charming feature of the city. It derives its chief importance from its commerce, being situate upon the Weser relatively as Hamburg is upon the Elbe. Many of the old families here are said to have originally derived their wealth from the slave trade in foreign countries, and society possesses that charm which arises from centuries of ease and culture.
Proceeding on our journey toward the Rhine, we pass Münster, the capital of Westphalia, which formerly possessed considerable commercial importance, but at present is quite in its decadence, and is really only a fair sample of those old cities, so numerous on the Continent, which boast of their importance by virtue of the part they have enacted in the stirring scenes and events of the past centuries, but which now contain within their limits little else of importance than the old cathedrals, churches, and other historical structures, with their innumerable relics and musty records all carefully preserved as treasures of vast worth and interest.
Approaching Cologne in the early evening, we catch an inspiring glimpse of the great cathedral, and, on arriving and experiencing the luxury of the first-class accommodations afforded in the sixth story of a leading hotel, which we have little ambition to repeat, and enjoying Ger-man breakfast (fruhstuck)coffee and rollswe proceed at an early hour to do the city of odoriferous exhalations, most appropriately named, as sensitive olfactories demonstrate on further acquaintance.
It seems self-sacrificing on the part of the citizensand is no doubt due to the potent influences of the great cathedralthat they are willing to dispense so freely to the traveller the celebrated ” Johann Maria Farina Cologne,” when such pressing necessity exists within their own limits for the use of every drop of this admirable product, with all its powerful deodorizing properties.
Nearly every store in the place seems to be-long to some member of the Farina family, and yet it is said to be exceedingly difficult to procure a bottle of the genuine “John Maria.”
We, in common with all visitors here, feeling the desire to procure some of the real article, purchased in a number of different stores, but have since learned, to our great disappointment, that none of our bottles bear the label with the precise accentuation and punctuation indicating the true and only “Johann Maria Farina Cologne.” Travellers are not often fortunate enough to get hold of a bottle of the “simon pure,” and so the great bulk of the `’ Original Jacobs ” remains at home, where, after all, it is certainly needed.
Turning a corner we come into full view of the cathedral. As we approach and enter an indefinable feeling of awe steals gradually over us. Standing within its portals when services are in progress, we heed them not. We are in a presence more august and soul-inspiring than any ceremonial ever inaugurated under vaulted arch or expanding dome.
As our eyes wander upwards in wonderment, from the base of these massive pillars to their very summits, we feel our comprehension expanding more and more in the futile effort to grasp the beauty and completeness of it all, until, at last, we become as lost and impersonal as the strain of music which is rising from the group of worshippers below and mingling with the rays of sunlight that stream in through the colored windows, until it reaches the arches overhead, reverberating through the vast building till at last it dies of its own delight.
During the morning hours, especially, a constant stream of worshippers pass in and out, comprising all classes and conditions of the peoplethe poor market-woman, the daily laborer, the man of leisure and the man of affairs busy with his many interests, the servant-girl and the grand dame, all turn aside from the routine of duties or pleasures which absorb their daily lives, and come into this grand temple, and cluster around the altar, where the rich and the poor, the high and the low, are all alike before God. No factitious distinctions are recognized here. The humblest toiler in the coarsest garb kneels beside the wealthy devotee of fashion or the titled lord in ” purple and fine linen,” each being regarded as a weak and erring mortal coming to confess his sins and crave the special spiritual consolation needed.
Here is a lesson that ought to shame those numerous churches throughout Christendom into which a humble workingman or a poorly clad woman neither dares nor desires to enter, feeling that they are not welcome, or even toleratedchurches the ” pillars ” of which are, perchance, wealthy and influential men, who pay for an emasculated gospel, which sustains the outrages against humanity of which they are guilty, with the money of the very class they have thus legally despoiled, and whom they banish from their holy temples.
During the progress of the service several officials, in a kind of a sacerdotal uniform, their heads covered with a peculiar capwhile all other heads are reverently uncoveredmarch silently up and down the aisles and through the spaces separating the visitors from the worshippers. They bear in their hands a kind of wand, or staff, quite similar to that of a drum-major, which they raise in a deprecating attitude whenever the visitors approach too near the worshippers or in any way disturb their devotions.
In marked contrast with the feelings inspired by the building itself were those produced by several groups of wax figures occupying prominent positions, and almost constantly surrounded by kneeling devotees. We turn away from these tawdry caricatures with unutterable aversion, and back to the beauty overhead, which appeals to the highest and best we have in us, and inspires us with reverence and humility. It makes us love our neighbor, and awakens with-in us an unselfish spirit. It prompts us to take the hand of the poor market-woman, who has just hurriedly crossed herself with the holy water, and to kneel beside her, with her basket of vegetables on the stone floor.
As we leave the building we linger a moment under the main arch, our upward gaze reaching its apex, two hundred feet abovenot forgetting to drop a coin into the box near the entranceand go our way, thinking how many poor, weary devotees have dropped their mites and gone half-starved to bed, perhaps, that this structure might be reared.
It is quite impossible to describe the effect of this grand temple upon one having an eye for the beautiful in architecture, whatever the point of observation, whether it be that gained by a position in the interior, bringing the numerous arches within the range of vision, or one commanding a front view of the exterior, with its ornate decorations, and its noble towers terminating at a point five hundred and twelve feet above the street belowthe highest spires in the world.
In making the ascent of the towers by an en-trance from the outside, in order to enjoy the magnificent panorama of the city and surrounding country, long before we reached the highest attainable point we are prompted to crave the fulfilment of the wish of a practical member of our group, that he could get the contract to put up a passenger elevator. The magnificient view of the city and surrounding country, however, fully repaid our efforts.
Less satisfactory was our visit to the church of Saint Ursula, which claims the distinction of several hundred years more age than that of the great cathedral, but which has none of the grand and beautiful features in which the latter abounds, has, however, the one distinction of being the receptacle of the bones of the eleven thousand virgins who, the legend says, were slaughtered here hundreds of years ago with their mistress, St. Ursula. The only apparent evidence that the legend is more than a myth is the immense number of human bones contained in cases faced with glass, set high up in the walls all around the interior of the church, un-der the altar, and in every conceivable crevice.
An irreverent, materialistic German at my el-bow suggests that the virgins were probably killed by the German maidens through jealousy, as no doubt the same disparity existed then as now in the comparative numbers of the two sexes, the females being much the more numerous, and so, through the fear that the fair foreigners would supplant them in the affections of the German swains, they murdered them all. This is a new explanation of the presence of the bones ; but, when it is remembered what violent passions are often penned up in the feminine breast, even in this age of refinement and civilization, it may not seem so improbable that they should have found vent with such disastrous effect in that far-off and barbarous period. This hypothesis is doubtless more in keeping with the peculiar characteristics of a certain type of the German mind than the rather improbable legend above mentioned. It is barely possible, however, that the author of the new theory has been jilted by some fair modern German maiden, and is trying to ” get even” with her by this method of taking his revenge upon her sisters.
In returning to our hotel, through the narrow streets comprising the best business portion of the city, we were once more forcibly reminded that the reputation it bears is well deserved. While examining a most attractive window, a draught from the basement bore to our olfactories such a concatenation of abominable smells that we beat a hasty retreat to avoid being asphyxiated.