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Science for the People: "The White Hand:" 827
Wife, The British Soldier's, A few Words about.. By
Wires in England and their Husband's in Canada
How I won her: By Elizabeth Townbridge: 814
In the Sea: 13
In Blossom-time: 288
Knight, The, and the Feathers: By Ada Trerauion:
Vision, A: By M. L. R.: 230
Way of the World: 814
Winter Scene, A: By Richard Henry Stoddart: 6
printed by Rogerson and Tnzford, 265 Strand London.
Among the most picturesque of the lateral valleys of the Rhine, is the Nahethal, which runs up the country for about thirty miles from Bingen, where the Nahe falls into the Rhine. Well sheltered from bleak winds by forest and hill-side, the valley boasts a dry elastic and exhilarating air, with the temperature and the flora of a more southern latitude. Seven miles up the river, and in the centre of its best scenery, Kreuznach stands. The valley narrows just above the town, its hills become loftier, while their vineyards and woods are suddenly broken and diversified by the sharp outlines of peak, crag, and towering pinnacle of splendid porphyry rocks. The mineral springs, which have, of late years, made Kreuznach known throughout Europe, rise in this porphyritic formation. They contain chloride of sodium, chloride of calcium, iodine, and bromine; and, unlike all other salt-springs yet discovered, are free from noxious ingredients, so that the patient can have the double advantage of bathing and drinking the waters. Their use for medical purposes is of recent date, but they were employed early in the fifteenth century for the production of salt, the springs being farmed out at that time by an Elector Philip of the Palatinate to two of his cooks, with a monopoly for salting the porridge of the district.
The salt works, now the property of the Prussian government, are well worth a visit, the mineral waters being evaporated by graduation; a primitive-looking process, which, apart from the modern mechanical appliances employed, seems as if it might be much the 'same now as when the Palatinate cooks went into partnership. If you go through the boiling house, you will notice that there remains in the salt-pans, after the culinary salt has been crystallized and removed, a fluid in appearance and consistency much like a rich dark gravy. Its taste is extremely salt, bitter, and caustic; its smell like that of wet sea-weed. This is the wellknown Kreuznach mutter lange (mother lye).
It contains the elements of the mineral springs, minus their common salt, and iron in a highly concentrated form, and ii added in prescribed quantities to the baths. After a course of these the patient tastes, feels, and
smells salt; he finds himself thoroughly cured, at least in one sense of the word, and would no doubt give a Fijian epicure the best possible notion of the flavour of a fine mild Yorkshire ham.
So much for the Kreuznach waters. As for Kreuznach itself, it is divided into the old and the new town. The latter, entirely monopolised by the visitors, has sprung up on the left bank of the Nahe within the last thirty years, and is not at all unlike a goodly slice of Cheltenham. A great portion of it is built on a long low island, the Badeworth, where the Kurhaus stands. Strangers, who know nothing of the place, are generally taken to the hotels and lodging-houses here, but, from personal experience, I should advise visitors, who have no fancy for rooms shut in between the hill-side and the street in the dog-days, who don't affect street noises, including perpetual whip-cracking and nightly fireworks, who, above all, with Tristram Shandy, "never could abide bad smells," on no account to become islanders.
After the first few days, we tried our luck on the mainland with complete success, choosing a spot where the houses are detached and their grounds a delightful mixture of kitchen garden, orchard, and vineyard. It is better to settle in houses where they are accustomed to receive English visitors. The good people have learned that we like our rooms well ventilated and swept, that we like plenty of water for the toilet and not too much in the teapot, also that our countrywomen generally prefer the services of a bathwoman to those of the badmeister.
The Kurhaus, a handsome building, is half hotel and half assembly-rooms; where balls, concerts, and entertainments of all sorts are given. It also includes a reading-room, liberally furnished with continental newspapers, and where "man becomes the Times," a solitary copy at some irregular hour in the afternoon of the day after issue. A trifling subscription confers these advantages on outsiders, in addition to those of joining the water-drinkers of the Elizabeth Spring in the grounds, and a seat on the terrace in front, where the band plays, and smartly-dressed people, from all parts of Europe, "peacock themselves" in the sunshine. The general effect of the terrace toilets was nothing less than startling to the eyes of a person suddenly transplanted from an English cathedral town, and some ladies, especially among the Russian and American visitors, really did seem dressed as if to prove that, if there is a step between the sublime and ridiculous, there is none whatever between the fashionable and the grotesque.
Showy cheap materials, made up with an ingenious profusion of sash, flouncing, frill, and furbelow, were the order of the day. Still, many of these costumes were tasteful as well as striking; a shade too flaunting, no doubt, for other places, but here only appropriately picturesque. For, under that intense sunlight, and with a background of dark foliage, mixed colours are no more vulgar than the mixed plumage of tropical birds. Blues and greens blended quite like blossom and leaf; maize and dark reds " went together" as harmoniously as the tints of yellow sandstone and porphyry in the upper valley; and everywhere, in the foreground, further off on the bridge, in boats down the river, were bits of fluttering reds and scarlets which would have charmed a painter. But, oh ye powers 1 the hair; whether dressed a la Mtduse in snake-like coils, or frizzed up like that of an electrified doll, or hay-cocked on the very top'of the skull! The ladies' heads showed monstrous as those of tidal waves, with this advantage to the latter, that they are not curled at a cost from four pounds ten to seven pounds, the exact price at which I am credibly informed the female head can be made twice its natural size in height and width.
One could but wonder that the owners of these extravagant coiffures did not contrast them unfavourably with the simplicity of some comely young matrons, too much taken up by the bunch of curly heads about them to bestow over much thought and care upon their own. Abroad, materfamilias leads her young troop to the salt baths in the holidays just as with us she takes them to the sea-side. Consequently when we arrived in July, we found the place full of children. And they made it delightful. They played their games in a charming freeand-easy fashion, and danced in and out among their elders without the least forwardness or rudeness. Nothing is more pleasant than the naturalness of children who are constantly associated with grown-up persons, displaying at the same time their own child-life with companions of their own age.
The little ones, having it all their own way, enjoyed themselves heartily, as children of all ages will do under the circumstances; but I don't think that gentleman visitors found Kreuznach quite so lively. As a resident, proud of his English—and justly, for it rivals that of the immortal Hans Breitmann—beautifully put it, "In Kreuznach man is forbidden to gambol." The prohibition points, as the speaker intended it should, the moral superiority of our young watering-plaoa over her older and wickeder
sister Wiesbaden; but, at the same time, it may account for the state of chronic boredom into which " man" speedily lapsed. He relieved it by slipping off for a few days to Wiesbaden or Hamburg, returning with an air of resignation to the dominoes and cautuert'e of the Kurhaus terrace, to its platitudes and platonics; discussions on dress, the opera, the health of the vines and of Napoleon III., and its frequent speculations on the chance of to visit from some member of our own royal family. Now, why should the bosom of Kreuznach have so especially yearned for the presence of British royalty and high polite society? We had, in the course of the season, a noble army of counts and barons, a fair sprinkling of French dukes, of Russian and Italian princes, nor were our ears unblessed by the sounds of Serenity and Transparency; but the presence of all these illustrious personages did not satisfy the aspirations of the place. No doubt the wish was father to unfounded rumours constantly afloat that the Duke of A, or the Duchess of B, had just arrived, with family and attendants, aus London; one Sunday morning, too, the English congregation was visibly increased through a report that the Duke of Cambridge had come late on Saturday night. Everybody went, of course, to see the Commander-in-Chief say his prayers: and then, when news came that the Princess of Wales was actually en route for Wildbad, why, it was discussed pretty much as the Queen's preference for the breezes of Balmoral over the bogs of Tipperary might be discussed by Irish patriots. Why should Wildbad have been fixed upon, and the Nahethal passed by? Were not Abana and Sharper —the Elizabethquelle and the spring at the Oranien Hof— the best of all possible waters for the gracious Princess and her royal children, better far than any baths at Wildbad? Well, yes, they had a forest there; but what was that compared to the natural advantages of this watering-place— "so romantic, be cheerful, so bright, so accessible from everywhere," added the naive Kreuznachers. Then again, some people came from Wiesbaden, and told aggravatingly how, the day before, three strangers had alighted at their Kursaal; how, it being full, they got shabby rooms up several storeys; how, when they went out, the youngest of the party was presently recognized as the Prince of Wales come on a flying visit from Wildbad; how, on their return, the landlord was apologetic and remorseful, the Prince graciousness itself. The story threw us all into a flutter.
"So near, and yet so far," exclaimed Kreuznach, pathetically. "Ah, if he would but appear here, such a mistake would be impossible. Trust us, we have eyes to see the Heir Apparent under a grey travelling suit! The Kurhaus and all therein should be at once placed at his disposal. The band would strike up, ■ God save the Queen,' black and white flags float out over the houses, there should be a fete, a ball, such fireworks in the evening—everything, in short, to do honour to the Prince of a people, who, if they sometimes behave badly, always pay well on their travels."
Kreuznach proper, the old town on the right bank of the Nahe, presents a striking contrast to its gay neighbour. Its irregular houses, its streets, steep and narrow, down which waggons top-heavy with 'corn and the vintage reel, its sharp corners, alleys, and airless market-squares were all, three hundred years ago, close packed inside its walls, precisely as a walnut-kernel lies packed into its shell. The walls, with the Gothic churches, the palace where Louis the Pious, son of Charlemagne, once kept state, were swept away by French armies at the close of the sixteenth century; otherwise the place shows much as it did on that old Easter Day, when Faust watched the citizens pour out from its gates to keep the Resurrection, by arising themselves into air and sunshine:
"From the narrow rooms
For one's memory makes classic 'ground of the old German town—that of Johann Faustus, rector of its High school at the beginning of of the sixteenth century. Here he practised alchemy, and in the end played off so many magic tricks on the citizens that they retaliated by driving him out of the place.
The old town has a population of about 11,000. A set of honest hardworking people they seemed, with a friendly smile and greeting when one came across them; we were therefore all the more rejoiced at their escape from the sad catastrophe with which they were threatened a few days after our arrival. The garden of our lodgings ran down to the river, across which, and nearly opposite on the ledge under the hill, stood a leather-factory, its front bricks, and its roof slated, but all the rest of it wood, ancient and brown, blistered and baked by the sun till the building itself seemed made of old leather. Well, late one night there was a sudden alarm, a great tramping of feet, the church-bell near began to toll, and, hurrying out into the garden, we saw this factory bursting into flames. Of course the fire spread to the engine-house, then coalsheds and outbuildings caught; then a cluster of cottages at the back of these, till at last a dreadful square of fire raged from the waterside to the hill, up which the fiery tongues ran from terrace to terrace, lapping up the dry vine-props, and
* Faust. Goethe. Scene—Vor dem Thor. Before the gate. Whether by accident or design I cannot say, but the descriptions in this scene coincide exactly with the panorama of Kreuznach and the valley viewed from the Schlossberg.
shrivelling and blackening the vines. Here, however, there was, comparatively speaking, little further mischief to be done. The great peril lay down at the water's edge, where the townsmen were desperately at work to save a shabby dwelling-house to the right of the factory and adjoining it; the first of an irregular block of old houses leading straight on to the town bridge. This was close at hand, with its wooden houses propped up on the piers of its eight arches, with its great crucifix, which now cast a black shadow on the crimsoned stream, and, lighted up by the flames, stood out against the sky in solemn significance above that anxious crowd. There was good cause for anxiety, for that insignificant-looking house once fairly ablaze, the enemy would hold the keys of the town. It would seize the bridge, roar unchecked down the streets, devouring all before it, and, by daylight, more than half the population might be homeless. There had been no rain for weeks past, and everything burnt furiously: still, water in abundance and plenty of help were to be had. With these, and one first-rate London fire-engine, the peril might soon have been over; but Kreuznach, alas, had nothing better than a couple of clumsy old engines, which wheezed, creaked, and sputtered out water by driblets. Everything depended on the efforts of an impromptu fire brigade, composed of the burghers en masse armed with buckets and small tubes attached to long poles, very much, to look at, like Brobdignagian soup-ladles. Really it did, as people say, bring the heart into one's mouth, to watch men fighting such a danger with such poor weapons of defence. The small hours came and still the church-bell tolled out for more help, still the townsmen were working as men only work to save their own and their children's homes; and still, in spite of every effort, the great pile of fire burnt at the waterside, lighting up every corner of Kreuznach with its ominous, ruddy glare. Fortunately, the wind had dropped, but, more than once, as a breeze blew from the river and turned the blinding masses of smoke and flame full on to the town, a shivering wail of despair rose up from the crowd. About one o'clock things looked at their worst, when a mass of blazing rafters suddenly fell in, and the flames sprang up in massive leaps with a crackling roar, sending myriads of burning flakes into the sky. Then the great ranks of red flame closed in upon the house, their points leaping up high above it, and fairly routed the army of men, buckets, ladles and all. Not only was that house literally in the jaws of the fire, but the next one also was burning. For some painful minutes it seemed as if nothing could stop the destruction. But the buildings had been thoroughly drenched, aud presently a band of civic heroes, returning at great risk to the charge, cut away the firey timbers, while others deluged these as they fell, amidst the cheers and vociferations of the crowd. Only through such strenuous personal efforts the fire was at last got under without loss of life, and no further loss of property.
I am glad to be able to add that the terrors of that night's experience stirred up the town council to take steps for the immediate provision of effective fire-engines.
The old town is, as I have said, an active, hardworking place; far too busy with its glass, wine, tobacco, and leather making to concern itself much with the Bad visitors. But once a year citizens and outsiders—aye, and all the country for miles round (Kreuznach being the Capital of the Kreis district)—meet in one great holiday-making. This happens at the Jahrmarkt, or fair, which, by order of Napoleon I., who Once kept his fete at Kreuznach, begins on the fifteenth of August and is kept up for nearly a week. It is held in an open space near the railway-station.
Arriving at the place by a short cut, we had to thread our way through the cattle fair, a large meadow, close packed with horses and horned-cattle. Some of our party were a little nervous at first, but one soon saw there was nothing to fear from the good-humoured German oxen, which all but live with the peasant farmer's family, and are on the friendliest terms with the human race. We came out from among their horns straight into the pottery-fair, the great china-shop of the district, and hardly so much as railed off from the bulls. The earthenware gave one the notion that no where in this world is man more completely a cooking animal than in the Fatherland. Here were to be had pots and pans of every description for stewing, baking, braising and frying; for boiling eggs and preserves, for the making of all conceivable "dainty little kickshaws," in clean-looking stove-proff hardware, yellow within and shining black outside. And the good things once made, the provision for keeping them was just as ample. Very attractive indeed to the housewives were those goodly rows of store jars which began with a size well adapted for the pantries of Gog and Magog, and ended in tiny things suggestive of Mrs. Tom Thumb's house-keeping. A short, stout Hansfrau would fix her mind on a pot not unlike herself in size and make, ring it carefully, set it down at her feet, ask the price, and at once offer just one half. Then came the bargening. Flabbier natures mostly "caved in" and met the seller half-way, but the strong-minded purchaser haggled manfully on till she carried off the article at her own price.
Going through the different booths, we noticed a striking preponderance of handiwork, which bore witness to the fact, that, in spite of the tall chimneys now conspicuous in many districts, Germany is still the home of the spinning-wheel and the handloom—of those long, tranquil tasks which fit in so well with life spent by the plough and the sheep-fold. Great choice of linen woe to be bad, either grey from the loom or snowy white, and oh I smelling so •weet from bleaching on the heathery hill-side.
Home-made tapes and yarns, knick-knack8 turned in wood, basket-work of all sorts and endless piles of knitted stockings bare witness to the unflagging industry of German fingers. A great deal of buying, selling, and bartering was going on everywhere; it being, as we were told, the country custom to lay in supplies for the year at the Jahrmarkt. At any hour of the day a brisk trade was doing at what looked like an open sentry-box, with a trap-door at the back. Inside this stood a man with a strong, ugly face, who rapped the door with a stick, shouting, meanwhile, in a stentorian voice, "Hold I here, my friends 1 nothing whatever to pay. See; I say one, two, when I count three this door makes itself open and out comes something wonderful."
When a crowd had gathered, he began:
"One, two," here he dropped his voice insinuatingly. "Now just while I wait to say three, I will show you all soap of the best and cheapest;" and forthwith he produced squares and bars of a flabby-looking article. Of course the mystic number was never completed, and the trap-door never flew open, yet, for all that, the fellow sold off his soap.
But it would take pages to describe in full the doings of the Jahrmarkt, the German cheapjack voluble as his English brother, but hardly so successful as the dice-throwers with glittering prizes of native silver to be won, all at the paltry risk of two groschen. People were eager to throw, apparently undeterred by the fact that while they mostly got nothing, or at best a teaspoon, the same ill-looking man with his cap slouched, won ladles and emits, in short all the grand prizes. To tell of the eating, drinking, smoking, and dancing, which went merrily on both day and night, to do justice to the merits of the circus, the summer theatre, the Bhow3 of every sort and description, beginning with the show of the live mermaid and English giant (we believed him to be really an Irishman gone into partnership with the mermaid), and ending with that of the living head, which stood by itself on a table, smoked and talked, and, for an additional groschen, would do a little fortune-telling. I should like to know who would put faith in those articles on German scepticism in the Times after that; why, the whole believing Jahrmarkt was all agape at the miracle!
But what show could compare with that of the country folk themselves? Nothing could be more delightful than, sitting under the limes at the great entrance, to watch them'pour in hour after hour, all in the flutter of holiday finery. They came in an endless stream, from the railway station, on foot, in lumbering carts and gigs, in primitive waggons drawn by oxen. These were the people to whom the buying and selling, the feasting and jollity, were but secondary matters; to whom the Jahrmarkt was, above all, a place of general tryst, and, as such, had been anticipated for months past.
What joy and pride we witnessed when fathers