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قراءة كتاب Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Vol. 20, August 1877

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Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Vol. 20, August 1877

Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Vol. 20, August 1877

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
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Lippincott's Magazine



Vol. XX.
AUGUST, 1877.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1877, by J. B. Lippincott & Co., in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.




Coblenz is the place which many years ago gave me my first associations with the Rhine. From a neighboring town we often drove to Coblenz, and the wide, calm flow of the river, the low, massive bridge of boats and the commonplace outskirts of a busy city contributed to make up a very different picture from that of the poetic "castled" Rhine of German song and English ballad. The old town has, however, many beauties, though its military character looks out through most of them, and reminds us that the Mosel city (for it originally stood only on that river, and then crept up to the Rhine), though a point of union in Nature, has been for ages, so far as mankind was concerned, a point of defence and watching. The great fortress, a German Gibraltar, hangs over the river and sets its teeth in the face of the opposite shore: all the foreign element in the town is due to the deposits made there by troubles in other countries, revolution and war sending their exiles, émigrés and prisoners. The history of the town is only a long military record, from the days of the archbishops of Trèves, to whom it was subject, to those of the last war. It has, however, some pleasanter points: it has long been a favorite summer residence of the empress of Germany, who not long before I was there had by her tact and toleration reconciled sundry religious differences that threatened a political storm. Such toleration has gone out of fashion now, and the peacemaking queen would have a harder task to perform now that the two parties have come to an open collision. There is the old "German house" by the bank of the Mosel, a building little altered outwardly since the fourteenth century, now used as a food-magazine for the troops. The church of St. Castor commemorates a holy hermit who lived and preached to the heathen in the eighth century, and also covers the grave and monument of the founder of the "Mouse" at Wellmich, the warlike Kuno of Falkenstein, archbishop of Trèves. The Exchange, once a court of justice, has changed less startlingly, and its proportions are much the same as of old; and besides these there are other buildings worth noticing, though not so old, and rather distinguished by the men who lived and died there, or were born there, such as Metternich, than by architectural beauties. Such houses there are in every old city. They do not invite you to go in and admire them: every tourist you meet does not ask you how you liked them or whether you saw them. They are homes, and sealed to you as such, but they are the shell of the real life of the country; and they have somehow a charm and a fascination that no public building or show-place can have. Goethe, who turned his life-experiences into poetry, has told us something of one such house not far from Coblenz, in the village of Ehrenbreitstein, beneath the fortress, and which in familiar Coblenz parlance goes by the name of "The Valley"—the house of Sophie de Laroche. The village is also Clement Brentano's birthplace.

The oldest of German cities, Trèves (or in German Trier), is not too far to visit on our way up the Mosel Valley, whose Celtic inhabitants of old gave the Roman legions so much trouble. But Rome ended by conquering, by means of her civilization as well as by her arms, and Augusta Trevirorum, though claiming a far higher antiquity than Rome herself, and still bearing an inscription to that effect on the old council-house—now called the Red House and used as a hotel—became, as Ausonius condescendingly remarked, a second Rome, adorned with baths, gardens, temples, theatres and all that went to make up an imperial capital. As in Venice everything precious seems to have come from Constantinople, so in Trier most things worthy of note date from the days of the Romans; though, to tell the truth, few of the actual buildings do, no matter how classic is their look. The style of the Empire outlived its sway, and doubtless symbolized to the inhabitants their traditions of a higher standard of civilization. The Porta Nigra, for instance—called Simeon's Gate at present—dates really from the days of the first Merovingian kings, but it looks like a piece of the Coliseum, with its rows of arches in massive red sandstone, the stones held together by iron clamps, and its low, immensely strong double gateway, reminding one of the triumphal arches in the Forum at Rome. The history of the transformations of this gateway is curious. First a fortified city gate, standing in a correspondingly fortified wall, it became a dilapidated granary and storehouse in the Middle Ages, when one of the archbishops gave leave to Simeon, a wandering hermit from Syracuse in Sicily, to take up his abode there; and another turned it into a church dedicated to this saint, though of this change few traces remain. Finally, it has become a national museum of antiquities. The amphitheatre is a genuine Roman work, wonderfully well preserved; and genuine enough were the Roman games it has witnessed, for, if we are to believe tradition, a thousand Frankish prisoners of war were here given in one day to the wild beasts by the emperor Constantine. Christian emperors beautified the basilica that stood where the cathedral now is, and the latter itself has some basilica-like points about it, though, being the work of fifteen centuries, it bears the stamp of successive styles upon its face. To the neighborhood, and also to strangers, one of its great attractions lies in its treasury of relics, the gift of Constantine's mother, Saint Helena, for many hundred years objects of pilgrimage, and even to the incredulous objects of curiosity and interest, for the robe of a yellowish brown—supposed to have been once purple—which is shown as Our Lord's seamless garment, has been pronounced by learned men to be of very high antiquity. But what possesses the Rhine tourist to moralize? He is a restless creature in general, more occupied in staring than in seeing—a gregarious creature too, who enjoys the evening table d'hôte, the day-old Times and the British or American gossip as a reward for his having conscientiously done whatever Murray or Baedeker bade him. Cook has only transformed the tourist's mental docility into a bodily one: the guidebook had long drilled his mind before the tour-contractor thought of drilling his body and driving willing gangs of his species all over the world.


There is a funny, not over-reverent, legend afloat in Trier to account for the queer dwarf bottles of Mosel wine used there: it refers to a trick of Saint Peter, who is supposed to have been travelling in these parts with the