Chapter XIII. Coblentz.

On Saturday afternoon, August 14th, I prepared a programme of my contemplated trip through South Germany, Switzerland, Italy and the East, which, together with several hundred cards, I got printed in the afternoon. By means of these programmes I informed my correspondents in America, in which cities I would look for mail matter and at what times I expected to reach them.

Mr. Elmer, of the Coblentzer Volkszeitung, told me that the dialects of the German language are so different, that the people of Coblentz and those of Cologne can scarcely understand each other when they speak their peculiar dialects.

The principle, that whenever a stream of water makes a curve, the outside bank (that which turns the water from its strait course) is always more precipitous than the other in proportion to the amount of curvature of the stream, is well illustrated at the confluence of the Mosel and the Rhine at Coblentz, by the course of the latter. The waters of the Mosel flow almost perpendicularly against the right bank of the Rhine, and have helped it in forming the precipitous rock of Ehrenbreitstein rising to the height of 387 feet above the river, upon which stand the famous fortifications of that name. The Rhine curves toward the left for about six or eight miles, and its right bank is in consequence high and steep, while the left bank is in the form of a gradual slope, bearing a striking resemblance to the valley of the Jordan for a mile around Siegersville, Lehigh Co., Pa. Another principle, that the width of a valley and the hardness of its bed is always in proportion to the fall of the stream of water flowing through it, does also find as ample illustrations in the sweeping Rhine as in any of the humbler streams whose courses I had watched and studied at home. These two principles afford perhaps the strongest and most conclusive of all proofs, that the hills and valleys of our planet are all the result of erosion.

The streets of Coblentz are mostly narrow, as are also its pavements, many of the latter being only from one to two feet wide. There are several remarkable churches, one, the Church of St. Castor dating from 1208, being an example of the early "Lombard style."

In order to enjoy the Rhine scenery to the greatest advantage, I took passage on a steamer to Bingen, and started out on Sunday morning at 10 o'clock. One of the steamers had been delayed about three hours that morning on account of the fog, but the day turned out to be a most beautiful one. I took a seat near the prow of the steamer, where I could conveniently watch the views of both banks without interruption from any source. I was now about to ascend the most romantic part of the Rhine - the Rhine of history and of poetry, upon whose precipitous banks the Germans erected their castles in the early and middle ages and defended their "Fatherland" against the attacks of their warlike neighbors. Only after one has seen the castled steam with its numerous watch-towers crowning every towering peak, and the indescribable beauties of this noble river, will the national air, "Die Wacht Am Rhein," (Watch At The Rhine), seem so beautiful to him, as it does to the sons of Germany, whose souls are stirred by its boundless historic associations.

I cannot stop to describe the scores of Schloesser, (castles), the charming prospects, the beautiful valleys with their verdant hillsides peeping into the Rhine, and the rich vineyards upon its sloping banks in some places, or the romantic scenery of the bare rocky mountains that rise almost perpendicularly at its sides to the height of 300 to 500 feet, in other places. Several objects claim particular attention, however.

Some 35 or 40 miles up the river from Coblentz, on the left bank, rise the imposing rocks of the Lurlei to the height of 433 feet above the Rhine. The river is very narrow in this place, has much fall and makes a decided turn, so that it is with considerable difficulty and some danger that steamers make their ascent. The river is here 76 feet deep and its waters form a whirlpool, (Gewirre). This place and every other one of interest along the Rhine, as well as all its castles, have their legends. It is said that a siren who had her abode on the rock, was wont by means of charming music to entice sailors and fishermen to their destruction in the rapids at the foot of the precipice.

As it is dangerous for steamers to meet on these rapids, they have a rule that every steamer coming up the stream must fire a few small cannons as soon as it approaches the Lurlei, so that steamers that are descending may hear it and wait to let the ascending steamer pass before they enter upon the rapids.

Near Bingen is the Mouse Tower, so called because the cruel Archbishop Hatto, of Mayence? had once compared some poor famishing people to mice bent on devouring corn, and caused them to be burned in his barn after having invited them to come there and receive provisions which it had been his duty to give them. After this outrage he was immediately attacked by mice, which tormented him day and night. He sought refuge in this tower, but was followed by his persecutors and soon devoured alive. Thus runs the legend.

We reached Bingen at 3:30 p.m., and started by rail for Frankfort on the Main an hour later. At 7:15 we crossed the Rhine by the magnificent iron bridge at Mayence, from which we had a good view of the extensive fortifications of that city, also the rich decorations of the entire city with banners, for, though it was Sunday, the Republicans (Internationals or Communists as they call themselves) had a great political meeting. I formed the acquaintance of one of their number who traveled with me to Frankfort and gave me an invitation to accompany him to one of their meetings the next evening. The Communists which fled from Paris after the storm of 1871, are now busy in different countries assisting those opposed to royalty to form organizations for the purpose of instituting other revolutionary movements some future day.


Frankfort, the home of the Rothschilds, down to 1866 a free city of the German Confederation and the seat of the Diet, has a population of 90,000 inhabitants. It has 20,000 Catholics and 8,000 Jews.

The Roemer is historically the most interesting building in Frankfort. It became the town-hall in 1405. In the second story is the Kaisersaal (Imperial Hall) containing the portraits of 47 emperors reigning from A.D. 912 to 1806. In front of it is the Roemerberg, (a large square), or market-place, which was the scene of public rejoicings on the occasion of the election of an emperor. After dining in the Kaisersaal he would show himself from the balcony to the assembled multitudes upon it. Down to the end of the last century no Jew was permitted to enter it.

The Judengasse (or Jew's street) was founded in 1462 and until the beginning of the present century all the Jews of the city lived there in an isolated community. Every evening and on Sundays and holidays, this street was closed with gates, and a Jew who would venture into any part of the town was subject to a heavy penalty.

The Church of St. Paul is immediately behind the Roemer. It is a circular building having seating capacity for 3,000 adults, and was used in 1848-9 for the meetings of the "German National Assembly for remodeling the Constitution."

Frankfort is the birthplace of Goethe, and has embellished one of its squares with a fine monument to his memory. It has also a fine monument to Schiller and a magnificent one to Gutenberg.

In some of the old streets of this city the upper stories of the houses are built out over the streets, making a break in the wall at every story, so that some of the narrow streets are thus almost arched over.

I left Frankfort by rail on the 17th of August, at 2:00 o'clock, and reached Darmstadt at 2:40 p.m.

Before leaving home, I had been presented by different persons with the addresses of a number of their friends and acquaintances in different countries of Europe, and also with letters of introduction to them. On account of my unbounded success in forming congenial friendships with foreigners, I never departed from my programme in order to meet persons for whom I carried letters, and consequently met none of them except a young American lady who had been abroad for several years with the object of studying the German language, and who was now connected with an educational institution at Darmstadt. Though I had been almost continually surrounded by tourists whose society and friendship I enjoyed and appreciated, still this meeting with a friend of one of my friends at home, seemed to me just like meeting an old acquaintance. We seated ourselves under a tree in the beautiful garden belonging to the Boarding School, and had a long talk about what each had seen in Europe, and how the social, political and literary institution of the Old World differ from those of America. The next day my new friend kindly accompanied me through the large museum contained in the Schloss, comprising a valuable collection of about 700 paintings, among them some fine specimens of the Dutch school. The Library in the Schloss consists of 450,000 volumes. On our way to the Schloss Garden we saw a little hut nestled in the garrets of other large buildings and surrounded by them on every side, except one of its gable-ends. The old peasant (so says tradition) would not part with it for any price, therefore his neighbors built their houses around,beneath and over his, leaving but one side clear through which he could admit the light of heaven into his humble apartment! Darmstadt has about 40,000 inhabitants, and is one of the cleanest and most modern in appearance of all the cities that I met in the Old World. Its broad and shaded streets intersecting each other at right angles, give it much of the appearance of an American city. The view from the Ludwigsaeule commands a fine prospect of the level country around, with its large woods of "tall trees" so rare in Europe, and the Rhein Strasse (Rhine Street) loosing itself only in the distance, is the straitest and longest street that I have yet seen.


Worms is one of the oldest towns in Germany. "The war against the Saxons was planned here in, 772, and here the great contest concerning the investure of the bishops with ring and staff was adjusted by the Concordat between, the Emp. Henry V. and Pope Calixtus II." It had once 70,000 inhabitants, but it contains now only 15,000, (2/3 Prodestant).

The Cathedral is a remarkably fine Romanesque edifice with four elegant towers, and two domes. The towers are adorned with odd figures of animals and gurgoyles. Most of this church dates from the 12th century. In the pediment is "the figure of a woman with a mural crown, mounted on an animal, whose four heads (angel, lion, ox, eagle,) are symbols of the four Evangelists, the whole being emblematic of the victorious church."

"In the Bishofshof was held the diet of April 1521, in which Luther defended his doctrines in the presence of Charles V., six electors, and a numerous assembly, concluding with the words: 'Here I stand, I cannot act otherwise, God help me! Amen.'"

The Baptistry contains some curious sculptures. Upon the roof of the building (stable) represented in connection with the Nativity, there lies a wheel, the signification of which no one could tell me. Among other musical instruments represented in relief in this church, there are the harp, the bugle and rows of violins or fiddles!

In the Luther-Platz stands the great Luther Monument, an imposing memorial of the Great Reformer. Its execution occupied nine years and cost $85,000.