« PoprzedniaDalej »
road lay along the banks of the Marne. The country is all the way highly cultivated, and possesses an infinite variety of charms, all which appeared to the highest advantage from being illumined by the genial rays of a mild sun. I could not indeed help feeling some astonishment, that scenery so smiling and lovely had not been made the subject of innumerable idyls. I kept the window by me constantly open, never weary with contemplating the charms of peaceful nature, and though I thought little, I felt much. Thanks to thee, worthy printer, thou wast generally asleep, and didst not teaze me with talking.
We went by Saint Menehould to Metz, where we arrived on the seventh. The theatre, to which I immediately repaired, must, I imagine, be one of the best provincial theatres in France. The house is very handsome, but nothing else was worth seeing.
We hired a carriage at Metz to carry us to Mentz, the driver of which spoke a little miserable German, in a vile Lorraine dialect. The poor devil, whose head was set into somewhat of a whirl by liberty, had nearly fallen a martyr to his idol, among the good Germans, who, if their princes be deserving, cleave to them with heart and soul.
Of this decription is the prince of Leiningen, on whom our coachman was pleased to cast some reflections, at one of the inns where we stopped, because we had been obliged to pay for a good chaussée, when no chaussée was in existence.
Now 'tis very true, that there is a great deal of unfair play with respect to the money paid for keeping up the roads in Germany, but our gentleman should have noticed it with more circumspection. This want of caution he was made to feel very severely. The host, an elderly man, did not appear at first to pay much attention to his remarks, but his son, a fiery impetuous young fellow, took up the matter with sufficient warmth, and uttered a volley of imprecations and sarcasms, in part upon the whole French
nation, in part only upon the French individual who had given the offence. This at length roused the creeping blood of the old man, and he too joined his eloquence to his son's. In vain did the poor coachman endeavour to avert their wrath, by giving them the fairest words possible, and assuring them most solemnly, that what he said was mere joke; both father and son were preparing to give him corporeal chastisement ; and had we not interposed, he had probably been disabled from pursuing his journey for three days at least. I would venture a considerable wager, that when the fellow returns home, he will shrug his shoulders, and say, “Ah, these German dunces ! 'tis not worth a man's while to give himself the trouble of preaching liberty among them!”
A short time before we arrived at the place where this unlucky adventure happened, as we were pursuing our way amid hills and woods, we passed a pretty little hunting-seat, in a very wild and romantic country. The beauty of its situation excited my attention, but that was still more arrested by a small round building in a thicket, over which was inscribed, “ Solomon Gessner.” I cannot express my surprise. I stopped the carriage, alighted, and made a pilgrimage to the spot. The temple was not quite finished, and had nothing striking in it, but the idea charmed me; and in my heart I blessed the prince who could pay such an honourable tribute to German poetry.
When we arrived at the above-mentioned inn, and noticed to the Leiningenian patriot what we had seen: “Oh, yes," said the old man, “I know what you mean, 'tis Solomon's Temple.”
In the same arrow valley I saw the most picturesque ruins that are perhaps to be found in all Germany. I was told, that they are the remains of a castle destroyed in the thirty years' war. My informer however, was a Jew, in whose historical knowledge I do not place any great confidence.
January 12. We arrived at Mentz, for the present the boundary of my travels. The climate here is soft and mild, the country about transcendently beautiful, and the society-such as is very pleasant, at least to him who is always pleased with being alone.
The theatre is one of the best in Germany, and has an excellent company, for which it is principally indebted to the baron von Dalberg. Messrs Cook, Christ, and Porsch, are certainly at the head of their profession. The first is too seldom to be seen, since one wishes to see him constantly. The lovely madame Porsch, the roguish madame Mende, and madame Eunike, the natural Gurdi, are at the head of the female performers upon this stage. Seldom will so much beauty be found in one company.
The opera here is also upon a very good establishment. I need only mention madame Walter, and madame Schick, to confirm what I advance.
Any farther observations upon Mentz I waive.
POSTSCRIPT AND DEDICATION.
All that I have written above are the pure effusions of my inmost soul, inscribed without study or art. Many inaccuracies may perhaps be found in them, but they must remain, I cannot polish or alter a syllable ; for were that to be done, the character of the work would be entirely destroyed.
I wished to give a faithful representation of my feelings, to show how, amid a thousand dissipations in which I engaged, they uniformly remained the
He who has read this little book, knows me as well as I know myself. At the beginning, I was doubtful whether it would entertain the reader ; now it is finished, I hope that it may. Why should it not be read with as much pleasure as a romance?
Truth has generally asserted its superiority over fiction; and here is truth, if truth ever was written.
I have within a few days been strongly confirmed in this hope. In the supplement to a Hamburgh newspaper, which fell accidentally into my hands, I found an article addressed to me. I started, and read :
“A number of friends of both sexes in Silesia, wholly unknown to me, attracted towards me by the strong bands of feeling and sympathy only, desire to offer me this public testimony of their sorrow for my
POSTSCRIPT AND DEDICATION. 209 loss, and participation in my affliction, as well as their wishes to console me.
I cannot express how much this little piece of atten. tion surprised, affected, and delighted me.
What a sweet reward is it to poetry, thus to find compassion and friendship under a foreign climate, at a time when both are so much wanted !
I here return my sincere thanks to these excellent people, and heartily wish them long to retain all the tender ties they now enjoy. Hearts like theirs cannot fail to have many friends and dear connections, and while these are retained, they may truly be pronounced happy.
I am thus assured that there is a circle from which my work will not be spurned. And if my fate meet with sympathy in Silesia, where I am unknown, why may I not hope to find equal pity in other countries, which I never did, and perhaps never shall visit ?
Then, in God's name, thou little book, go forth and seek thy fortune! Fly the roofs of the happy, seek shelter only with the unhappy; there wilt thou be received with kindness and respect. That I wrote thee was the irresistible impulse of my heart—that I printed thee may perhaps be a subject of censure for the critics; and I have only to urge in excuse, the natural, and human wish, to interest men of worth and feeling in my favour.
On the title stood at first, “Written for friends"but since I read that consoling article in the paper, I have enlarged it thus, “ Written for friends, both known and unknown.”
And now, to whom shall I dedicate my work? To whom, but her whose many exalted virtues served as