« PreviousContinue »
LETTERS FROM BELGIUM AND THE RHINE,-No. III.
Cologne, August 6th, 1842.
My Dear H.-Of all the circumstances which belong to the sober realities of life, that which to my mind seems the most like enchantment is to find yourself in the course of a few hours transported to a country, where the people, although belonging to the same race, are differently clad, distinguished by different manners, and in all the interchange of thought and feeling required in the varied engagements of social life, use a language altogether unlike the one you have been accustomed to employ from your cradle.
Thoughts of this character came across my mind when I sat down in the public room of the Hof von Holland in this city, whose broad and lofty windows look out upon the Quay, and the bridge of boats crossing the Rhine to the little town of Dentz.
It is night, and the bridge is dotted with tiny lamps, whose yellow light is given back in undulating lines by the waters.
The windows at the other end of the room present to view, odd, foreign looking houses of different shapes and heights, with shops, which, although you cannot dispute the genus, are of a species such as the visitor for the first time, has never seen before.
The simple truth is, that instead of limiting ourselves to a certain milestone on the road to Cambridge, as the extent of our walk for exercise, or a short journey to a neighbouring town or to the metropolis, my friend W. and I have migrated to the ancient city, where the Emperor Claudius formed a colony, in accordance with the wish of the Empress, from whom it received its name, Colonia Agrippina. Here Vitellius was proclaimed Emperor, and Trajan filled the office of Imperial Legate. Here in 508, Clovis was proclaimed king of the Franks, and, without attempting to give you more of its history—here Rubens was born, Mary de Medicis died, and Johannes Duns Scotus was buried. But I have rushed at once in medias res, and before I am carried further must return to give you somewhat of the detail of yesterday's journey.
We left our hotel at 6 A. M. for the railroad station. A bright and balmy morning imparted to the city we were leaving more
than ordinary freshness and beauty. The preliminaries were soon settled, and we took our places in the carriage for Liege. Among our travelling companions were two priests and two sisters of charity. One of the former was engaged, during the greater part of the journey, in the recitation of his devotional exercises. The other, after a few minutes spent in devotion, engaged in conversation with the elder of the sisters. The priests wore their long black cassocks and large three-cornered hats ; the ladies had very coarse black stuff dresses, with deep hoods, lined with white, and long stiffened white bands hanging from the neck to the waist, which gave
much the appearance of being dressed in a shroud. I had a few words of conversation with one of the priests respecting England.
We arrived at Liege about 11 A. M. From the eminence above the town we had a delightful view of the lovely valley of the Meuse, whose fertile sides are richly cultivated, and present an agreeable diversity of vineyards, hop-grounds, and meadows, with waving crops of corn. The city is situated at the junction of the Qurte and the Meuse, and their united streams form a broad river which flows through the centre of the town, and is crossed by a handsome stone bridge of six arches. This has been called the Birmingham of the Netherlands, furnishing from its immediate neighbourhood both coal and iron.
From Liege, we proceeded by diligence, or rather by a supplement to the diligence, which was full, to Aix la Chapelle. This journey of twenty-eight miles, occupied seven hours, and was very tedious, but our slow travelling afforded us a better opportunity of observation, and the country through which we were passing was very beautiful. Much of the scenery reminded me of the best parts of Surrey about Dorking and Guildford.
In the course of our ride, we reached the Belgian frontier, and entered the dominions of the king of Prussia. At Aix la Chapelle our luggage was subjected to the inspection of the Prussian officers, who, though rather formidable in appearance, with their cocked hats and swords, were exceedingly civil. We delivered up our passports, but received them again at the railroad station. To this place an omnibus conveyed us from the inn, and we took our places for Cöln, as it is called in Germany, although we, adopting the French name, call it Cologne.
The German railroad carriages are rather more comfortable than the Belgian. We had a very delightful ride through an interesting country, and reached Cöln about 9 o'clock, having travelled altogether 140 miles in about fourteen hours. Out of the many hofs or hotels to which omnibuses were waiting to convey the passengers, we chose that, known as von Holland, and were very well satisfied with our accommodations and charges.
We spent this morning in visiting the principal objects of interest in the city. Cologne has been called “the dirty focus of catholicism,”—the streets in the lower part of the town are very narrow and very dirty, and the little observation we are able to make convinced us that in few places we had visited, did the influence of the Romish church appear more general or more powerful. The superstition of the authorities has considerably diminished the manufacturing importance and health of the city. On Bartholomew's day, 1425, all the Jews were driven out. In consequence of some disorderly conduct on the part of the clothworkers, the magistrates ordered nearly 2000 looms to be burnt; when the great body of the manufacturers established themselves in other places. At the commencement of the 17th century, all the protestants were expelled-more than 1400 houses were deserted, and their occupants settled at Düsseldorf and elsewhere. It is now most famous for the celebrated Eau, which bears its name. The city extends in the form of a crescent, along the left bank of the Rhine, and is strongly fortified-a lofty wall six miles in length surrounds it, strengthened by 83 towers, and defended by ramparts and deep ditches - the fortifications of the continental towns present a novel feature to all Englishmen; our own insular position rendering such precautions comparatively unnecessary.
The population of the city in 1827 was 57,022 of whom 54,000 were Roman Catholics, and 2385 Protestants. At present it exceeds 60,000. We visited a very beautiful panorama of the Rhine, which gave us an admirable idea of the scenery with which we were presently to be familiar.
The cathedral is one of the most interesting objects ; although it is still unfinished—it was commenced nearly 600 years since, and is considered even in its incomplete state, one of the finest monuments of ancient German architecture.
It contains the most regular and stupendous Gothic choir in Europe, but this is almost the only part of the edifice in a finished state. The pillars of the nave, intended to terminate in a lofty fretted roof, are finished at about a quarter of their height with a ceiling composed of planks covered with slates. The two towers intended to be 500 feet high, have not reached half their designed elevation, and on the unfinished top of one of them, mouldering with age, appears a crane used in raising the stones when the building was in progress.
It is now undergoing extensive repair, and may perhaps be completed according to the plans of Bishop Engelberg, and the work commenced by Conrad of Hochstetten, in 1248. If finished, it would undoubtedly be the St. Peter's of Gothic architecture.
Our next visit was to the church of St. Ursula, a British saint to whose memory the building is dedicated. This is perhaps one of the most remarkable modern monuments of Romish superstition and credulity. The church is filled with the bones of St. Ursula and her eleven thousand virgins, her companions and fellow sufferers. These bones are exhibited in glass cases on the walls of the church, and the choir contains a number of rude paintings representing the history of the saint—her landing at Cologne, and the barbarous treatment received from the Huns. Behind the high altar are her remains in a golden shrine-by paying a thaler for the party, (3 shillings,) we gained access to the goldene kammer or golden chamber, where the most precious relics of the church are preserved, (among them, one of the vessels from Cana of Galilee, which contained the water which was made into wine) and where are innumerable skulls cased in silver, and names formed out of leg bones, &c.
Returning to our hotel we sat down to a regular German dinner. As soon as the covers were removed, the dishes were taken to a sideboard for the operation of carving, which being performed, the viands were handed round to a large company;-among other items which I had forgotten to enumerate, we had soup, sausages, cutlets, boiled beef, roast beef, roast pigeons, and apricot sauce, potatoes, cabbage, a plentiful dessert and all varieties of Rhenish wine. By the next steamer that arrives from Dusseldorf we shall embark for Bonn.
Believe me, my dear H.,
FAITH THE BEST WARFARE.
It is well-known that the early Christians understood the precepts, “ Love your enemies”—“Resist not evil”—“Avenge not yourselves,” &c., in a literal sense; and that they refused to fight or serve in the Roman armies. “I am a Christian, and therefore cannot fight," was the language of one who suffered martyrdom for his testimony to the principles of the Prince of peace. Blessed are they who thus suffer for righteousness sake; they are taken from a scene of misery and sin, to enter into the everlasting joy of their Lord. It, however, oftentimes pleases Divine Wisdom to interpose wonderfully for the protection and preservation of his devoted servants, who put their trust in him. "I will deliver thee in that day, saith the Lord, and thou shalt not be given into the hand of the men of whom thou art afraid. For I will surely deliver thee, and thou shalt not fall by the sword, but thy life shall be for a prey unto thee: because thou hast put thy trust in me, saith the Lord.” Of the fulfilment of this promise, many instances might be produced both in ancient and modern times. One beautiful case occurs in Moffat's “ Missionary Labours.”
A native chief, in southern Africa, with the people of his village, became Christians, and, as is generally the case with those who receive the gospel in its simplicity, they appear to have understood the precepts respecting war in the same manner as the early Christians. “This little Christian band,” says the writer, “had met, on a Sabbath morning, with the people in the centre of the village, to hold the early prayer meeting, before the services of the day. They were scarcely seated, when a party of marauders appeared, from the interior, whither they had gone for plunder, and not having succeeded to their wishes, had determined to attack this village on their return.
“The chief arose, and begged the people to sit still, and trust in Jehovah, while he went to meet the marauders. To his inquiry, what they wanted the appalling reply was, 'your cattle ; and it is at your peril you raise a weapon to resist.'
“These are my cattle,' replied the chief, and then retired, and resumed his position at the prayer meeting. A hymn was sung, a chapter read, and then all kneeled in prayer to God, who only