Page images
PDF
EPUB

of course, and at once replaced it at his own charge.

On our return down the Rhine last summer, and three years after this incident, between St. Goar and Cologne, we had a hand carpet-bag, which had travelled with us in perfect security all over the country by day and by night, cut open on the packet, plundered of articles and five-franc pieces to the value of nearly ten pounds. It was cut open along one of the bottom seams, and carefully sewed up again so as not to allow the remaining things to fall out when the bag was first lifted up; but the needle was left hanging to the thread.

This occurred on board the steam-boat Ludwig, belonging to the Cologne company; which we now found to our comfort was a regular den of thieves. The Directors, to whom I immediately made the fact known, gave themselves instant and the most active trouble to discover the offenders. The vessel was searched, but in vain; the thieves were too adroit. On reaching our inn, we soon heard that we had but shared the fate of a good many others before us in this very vessel. A lady had had a casket broken open on the cabin table, and various valuable rings and jewels taken out of it. She discovered the theft immediately, and called for the captain. A waiter was seen to throw something out of the window into the Rhine. Several persons rushed to the spot, and one ring was found still lying on the ledge. The waiter was convicted, and committed to a six years' imprisonment.

An English naval officer, on arriving at Cologne, I believe by this very boat, found his trunk was carried off, containing his clothes and money, and he landed at Cologne with only the clothes on his back and a very small sum of money in his pocket; a perfect stranger in the country, and ignorant of its language.

His trunk he never saw any more of. On mentioning these facts to one of the Directors of the General Steam Navigation Company soon after, he said, “You see the black portmanteau there. This summer I made a journey up the Rhine on the Company's business, and for the sake of gaining an hour one morning went on board of the other Company's boat, Ludwig, for the next stage. On board my portmanteau was broken open, all my papers carried off, and never recovered.”

On ascending the Rhine a few months afterwards, I was informed by one of the Directors at Cologne that they had made no discovery respecting the robbery on myself, but had committed and had had four of their people of the steamer Ludwig sentenced to six years imprisonment for similar acts. What was singular was that the Cologne Company, though so many of these disreputable acts had taken place on board their vessels, had taken no step for the greater security of passengers’ luggage, but suffered it to be piled on the deck exposed to the same accidents as before, while the General Steam Company had adopted the very means I had recommended to the Cologne Company, that of a

railed inclosure on the deck, in which the luggage of the passengers

could be locked up. These facts will be enough to induce tourists up the Rhine, not only as Hood advises them, to “take care of their pockets,” but also to take care of their trunks and bags.

CHAPTER III.

The objects, we have said, of English visiters to Germany, are health, economy, an agreeable change and relaxation by change of scene and of society, and the education of their children. The first great question with any one of these objects is, where shall you locate yourself? Except on the score of health, which determines its own location by the particular bath recommended for the case, or by the necessity for change, quiet, diversion, or whatever else may be requisite, all the other objects point directly to the larger cities. It is a very mistaken notion that the smaller towns are much cheaper than the larger ones. To foreigners the reverse is

In small towns a particular set of tradesmen make a point of serving the English, and, as I shall explain in a subsequent chapter, you fall into their hands in such a manner that you are regularly and unmercifully fleeced, without the power of helping yourselves. In the choice of houses or lodgings you are extremely circumscribed, and pay proportionably high; in fact, every thing is higher, except the

very often the case.

most important thing of all, the quality of the society, and that is infinitely lower. Whether, therefore, you seek diversion, economy, or education, go to the capitals; avoid the small provincial towns as you would avoid the plague.

Vast numbers of our country people flock into the Rhine country, because it is easy of access, because it is a very charming country so far as nature goes; but it is, at the same time, with the exception of Prussia, the very dearest part of Germany, and what is worse, it is the most corrupt and demoralized. It is not in the cities of the Rhine that you will find the genuine German character in its primitive truth and simplicity. It is a great thoroughfare of tourists, and that of itself is enough to stamp it as corrupt and selfish. True, it is a lovely country, and if you are content with the charms of nature you cannot well have a pleasanter. But if you seek either the highest state of German social culture in the purest state of its moral simplicity, you must go farther. The Rhine country has for ages, like our border-lands formerly, been the theatre of contentions between the Germans and French, as well as other armies, not excepting those of Spain, England, Holland, and Belgium. It has been exposed to successive burnings and devastations; to successive overrunnings with the veriest off-scourings of all European society, the soldiery of the armies, and their lewd followers. These things, as well as the system

с

« PreviousContinue »