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- Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands V2 - 50/64 -
trees. We ordered a nice little tea in our room, arid waxed quite merry over it.
This morning we started at seven, and here we are to-night in Leipsic--as uninteresting a country as I have seen yet. Moreover, we had passed beyond the limits of our Rhine guide book, and as yet had no other, and so did not know any thing about the few objects of interest which presented themselves. The railroads, of course, persist in their invariable habit of running you up against a dead wall, so that you see nothing where you stop.
The city of Magdeburg is the only interesting object I have seen. I had a fair view of its cathedral, which I think, though not so imposing, yet as picturesque and beautiful as any I remember to have seen; and its old wall, too. We changed cars here, going through the wall into the city, and I saw just enough to make me wish to see more; and now to-night we are in Leipsic.
Morning. We are going out now, and I must mail this letter. To-morrow we spend at Halle.
Friday, August 5. Dusseldorf to Leipsic, three hundred and seventy-three miles. A very level and apparently fertile country. If well governed it ought to increase vastly in riches.
Saturday, August 6. Called at the counting house of M. Tauchnitz, the celebrated publisher. An hour after, accompanied by Mrs. T., he came with two open carriages, and took us to see the city and environs. We visited the battle ground, and saw the spot where Napoleon stood during the engagement; a slight elevation, commanding an immense plain in every direction, with the spires of the city rising in the distance. After seeing various sights of interest, we returned to our hotel, where our kind friends took their leave. In the afternoon M. Tauchnitz sent H. a package of his entertaining English publications, to read in the cars, also a Murray for Germany. H. and I then took the cars for Halle, where we hoped to spend the Sabbath and meet with Dr. Tholuck. Travellers sometimes visit Chamouni without seeing Mont Blanc, who remains enveloped in clouds during their stay. So with us. In an hour we were in rooms at the Kron Prince. We sent a note to the professor; the waiter returned, saying that Dr. Tholuck was at Kissengen. Our theological Mont Blanc was hid in mist. Blank enough looked we!
"H., is there no other professor we want to see?"
"I believe not."
Pensively she read one of the Tauchnitz Library. Plaintively my _Amati_ sighed condolence.
"H." said I, "perhaps we might reach Dresden to-night."
"Do you think so? Is it possible? Is there a train?"
"We can soon ascertain."
"How amazed they would look!"
We summoned the _maître d'hotel_, ordered tea, paid, packed, raced, ran, and hurried, _presto, prestissimo,_ into a car half choked with voyagers, changed lines at Leipsic, and shot off to Dresden. By deep midnight we were thundering over the great stone Pont d'Elbe, to the Hotel de Saxe, where, by one o'clock, we were lost in dreams.
In the morning the question was, how to find our party.
"Waiter, bring me a directory."
"There is no directory, sir."
"No directory? Then how shall we contrive to find our friends?"
"Monsieur has friends residing in Dresden?"
"No, no! our party that came last night from Leipsic."
"At what hotel do they stop?"
"That is precisely what I wish to find out."
"Will monsieur allow me to give their description to the police?"
(0, ho, thought I; that is your directory, is it? Wonder if that is the reason you have none printed.) "_Non, merci,"_ said I, and set off on foot to visit the principal hotels. I knew they would go by Murray or Bradshaw, and lo, sure enough they were at the Hotel Bellevue, just sitting down to breakfast. S. started as if she had seen a ghost.
"Why, where did you come from? What has happened? Where is H.? We thought you were in Halle!"
Explanations followed. H. was speedily transferred to their hotel, where they had bespoken rooms for us; and we sallied forth to the court church to hear the music of high mass.
This music is celebrated throughout Germany. It is, therefore, undoubtedly superior. The organ is noble, the opera company royal. But more perfect than all combined are the echoes of the church, which (though the guide book does not mention it) nullify every effect.
Monday, 8. Visited the walks and gardens on the banks of the Elbe. The sky was clear, the weather glorious, and all nature full of joy. We almost think this Elbe another Seine; these Bruhlsche gardens and terraces, these majestic old bridges, and cleft city, another Paris! Here, too, is that out-of-doors life, life in gardens, we admire so much. Breakfast in the public gardens; hundreds of little groups sipping their coffee! Dinner, tea, and supper in the gardens, with music of birds and bands!
Visited the Picture Gallery. If one were to chance upon an altar in this German Athens inscribed to the "unknown god," he might be tempted to suggest that that deity's name is Decency.
The human form is indeed divine, as M. Belloc insists, and rightly, sacredly drawn, cannot offend the purest eye. All nature is symbolic. The universe itself is a complex symbol of spiritual ideas. So in the structure and relation of the human body, some of the highest spiritual ideas, the divinest mysteries of pure worship, are designedly shadowed forth.
If, then, the painter rightly and sacredly conceives the divine meaning, and creates upon the canvas, or in marble, forms of exalted ideal loveliness, we cannot murmur even if, like Adam and Eve in Eden, "they are naked, and are not ashamed."
And yet even sacred things love mystery, and holiest emotions claim reserve. Nature herself seems to tell us that the more sacred some works of art might be, the less they should be unveiled. There are flowers that will wither in the sun The passion of love, when developed according to the divine order, is, even in its physical relations, so holy that it cannot retain its delicacy under the sultry blaze of profane publicity.
But it is far otherwise with paintings where the _animus_ is not sacred, nor the meaning spiritual. No excellences of coloring, no marvels of foreshortening, no miracles of mechanism can consecrate the salacious images of mythologic abomination.
The cheek that can forget to blush at the Venus and Cupid by Titian, at Leda and her Swan, at Jupiter and Io, and others of equally evil intent, ought never to pretend to blush at any thing. Such pictures are a disgrace to the artists that painted, to the age that tolerates, and to the gallery that contains them. They are fit for a bagnio rather than a public exhibition.
Evening. Dresden is the home of Madame Jenny Lind Goldschmidt. H. sent her card. This evening Mr. G. called to express regret that she was unable to see any one, on account of her recent confinement. He kindly offered us the use of his carriage and assistance in sightseeing. H. discussed with him the catalogues of the gallery of paintings. As to music, we learn, with regret, that it is out of season for concerts, oratorios, or any thing worth hearing.
Wednesday, August 10. Dresden to Berlin. Drove to Charlottenburg, and saw the monument of Queen Louisa.
Thursday, 11. Visited the Picture Gallery, and various stores and shops.
Saturday, August 13. Berlin to Wittenberg, two hours' ride. Examined the Schloss-Kirche, where Luther is buried, passing on our way through the public square containing his monument.
At nine in the evening took cars for Erfurt. That night ride, with the moon and one star hanging beautifully over the horizon, was pleasant. There is a wild and thrilling excitement in thus plunging through the mysterious night in a land utterly unknown. Reached Erfurt at two in the morning.
Monday, August 15. Erfurt to Eisenach by eight. Drove to the Wartburg.
I went to Dresden as an art-pilgrim, principally to see Raphael's great picture of the Madonna di San Sisto, supposing that to be the best specimen of his genius out of Italy. On my way I diligently studied the guide book of that indefatigable friend of the traveller, Mr. Murray, in which descriptions of the finest pictures are given, with the observations of artists; so that inexperienced persons may know exactly what to think, and where to think it. My expectations had been so often disappointed, that my pulse was somewhat calmer. Nevertheless, the glowing eulogiums of these celebrated artists could not but stimulate anticipation. We made our way, therefore, first to the _salon_ devoted to the works of Raphael and Correggio, and soon found ourselves before the grand painting. Trembling with eagerness, I looked up. Was that the picture? W. whispered to me, "I
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