« PreviousContinue »
or under the portico. I ran out of the room, to go down to the front door, and who should I encounter on the stairs but-the old landlady! Now it was remarkable, that this old dame was commonly in bed at nine o'clock of an evening, but here, at halfpast eleven, she was up. It did not fail to strike me oddly. Her agitation appeared great. Not another person within or without was to be seen. This was on a Saturday night. "If the old lady knows nothing of this," we said, "she will come in to-morrow on the subject." But she did not come; and on the Monday morning I went to her breakfast-room, and begged to know what she proposed to do in the case. She would do nothing. I therefore assured her that I would have the case sought into by the police, and demanded the anonymous letter to lay before the Director. She replied, she had destroyed it.
On stating the facts to the Director of Police, he immediately, on the mention of this anonymous letter, requested to see it, and when he heard the old lady's statement, that she had destroyed it, shook his head. I then proceeded to the lady in whose hands she said it had been: the lady and her son, one of the police, never had heard of such a letter! I returned, and stated these facts to the landlady, and charged her, point blank, with having invented the whole story of this letter, and to my unspeakable astonishment, she coolly confessed it!— confessed that she was determined to drive this
girl out of the house at any rate, and had hit on this scheme! nor did she seem in the smallest degree conscious of its infamy.
I communicated this discovery to the Director of Police, and added, "But then, who broke the windows? and who must pay for them?"
"My dear sir," said the Director, smiling, "there is no doubt but that the good woman broke the windows herself, and we will take care that she
pay for them. For how do these things hang together? If there had been a letter threatening to break the windows, and they were accordingly broken-who broke them? Why, the writer, or his accomplices. But if a person says that he has received a letter containing such a threat, and it turn out that there never was such a letter, and yet the threat is fulfilled-who did it then? The person, of course, who said there was such a letter, and such a threat! Make yourself quite easy-the landlady shall pay for the breaking of her own windows; we will send a gens-d'arme to walk before your house every night to protect your family, and all I have to say is, get out of this house as fast as you can." It is hardly necessary to say, that we took the worthy Director's advice with all possible speed.
Before closing these remarks, for the guidance of those intending to pass some time in Germany, I may answer a question which has been often put to me. "If small University towns are so much
to be avoided, was Heidelberg an exception, that you spent so much time there?" On the contrary, Heidelberg is perhaps the most wretched, as to the general tone and quality of its society, of all the little University towns. A celebrated German wrote to me sometime after I went there, saying, "You certainly had not inquired into the character of that little city before you went there, or you would certainly not have gone; for it is, of all the University towns, the most notorious for its frivolity, conceit, and impertinence to strangers." It must be confessed, that this character is but too true. I have met with a good many English of high character who have spent some time in that place, but scarcely with an exception have they left it with disappointment and disgust. Few can record much cordial kindness; and one lady of distinction, who was detained there in painful circumstances, asserted, that nowhere in her life had she experienced so much unkindness. I must confess that the treatment of ladies there (who go, as is frequently the case, to the continent with their daughters to finish their education, without their husbands, who are detained in England by official or other concerns,) has often filled me with the greatest indignation; the most prying, impertinent conduct being practised towards them, and the most disgraceful rumours regarding them.
My object in selecting Heidelberg for a temporary residence, was to combine, with the education
of my children, rest and relaxation with a convenient position, whence I could visit any other part of Germany-these objects were tolerably answered. The country round, with its lovely river- its charming valleys-its wide and open forests, was to me a perpetual enjoyment. I had my own family with me, sufficient society for me, if there were none else; from the garden of my own house I could plunge at once into the deepest solitude of woods and mountains; my children were progressing satisfactorily with their education; and the easy quiet of life, gave a great charm to my sojourn. It is true, that, as we extended our survey of the different cities of Germany, we saw those superior advantages which I have pointed out in the preceding chapters. But in the mean time, a most valued circle of a few intellectual and attached English friends had gathered around us there, and the prospect of our returning to our own country presenting itself stronger and stronger, we declined making the removal of a large family, to the city we should have preferred. It is true, that, like others, we were soon wearied of the empty frivolity of the little place, and were not allowed to escape our share of "the impertinence to strangers;" but to us these were of little consequence. In the boundless refreshments of nature, and the society of our few English friends, we had all that we wanted; and knowing experimentally the feelings of a certain lady, a native of
the place who, sitting one fine summer day in the arbour of a garden on one of the hill sides, overlooking the town and valley, could not help exclaiming, "O mein Gott! warum hast du ein solches folk in solchem paradies gesetzt!" O my God, why hast thou placed such a people in such a paradise! we avoided the people, and loved the paradise. The people and their "impertinences " fall away from recollection; but the days spent at that "little sink of inquity," as an English resident indignantly styled it, will yet always remain a delightful memory. How many wide rambles in those deep woods; how many wide views over plain and forest, and hundreds of scattered villages; how many sweet spots-as Neckersteinach, Schwetzengen, Weinheim, the Stift Mill, the Wolfsbrunnen, the Bierhälterhof, the Haardt Forest, etc., are sanctified by summer days of gladness, and bright and affectionate spirits. How many pleasant evenings were there, when the little gossiping place had become to us no more than a place of shops for the procurance of the creature - comforts, but whence the elect few would step in, and tea, music, and merriment, made a world of their own.
But our case was a peculiar one,-one in a thousand; and those incidental circumstances which occurred to us, both in regard to friends and facilities of education, are amongst the rarities of such a place; they are not its daily possessions; and let the intellectual, or those who require first-rate masters,