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I remember little accurately respecting my journey, or of the various events which took place, until my father, having disengaged himself from all his affairs in the diplomatic line, settled himself in a habitation belonging to him in right of his wife, not very distant from Carlsruhe, the modern capital of Baden, and among the mountains of the Schwartzwald or Black Forest.
“ These mountains extend from the borders of Switzerland to Sforzheim, from which last place the chain which branches off to the north assumes another name. This region, being inclosed towards the west by the Rhine and the Neckar, and by the mountains on the east, is one of the most beautiful parts of Germany; the whole country rising gradually from the rivers to the mountains, and presenting to the traveller one continued garden enriched with fruit-trees bending down in summer with the weight of their fruit.
“ The Hartzwald, which are nearer the Rhine than the Schwartzwald, and are sometimes blended with them in one line of view, are not however so bold in their aspect as the mountains of Switzerland, while they have a more smiling and less sullen appearance than the heights of the Black Forest, being frequently enriched with varieties of beautiful forest trees, while their more savage neighbours are for the most part covered with pine, and some of their higher points capped with almost perpetual snow. This range of hills abounds with innumerable torrents, which pouring down from the heights discharge themselves into the Rhine; while the ruins of many ancient towers and castles frowning from amidst these mountain forests, carry the imagination back to those lawless ages when the old Teutonic race disputed the possession of that country with the Roman legions then stationed along the banks of the Rhine.
“ It was not however one of these ancient towers, but a handsome modern chateau, with a well cultivated garden, of which my father took possession on his arrival in Germany; neither was it so deeply inclosed by the mountains as to render it an inconvenient habitation, though sufficiently so for every purpose of romantic beauty. The highroad from Manheim to Rastadt was not very distant from us, and as the whole of the in
termediate ground was occupied by oak and beech woods, the drive through the forest from the highroad to the chateau was exceedingly beautiful, acquiring new charms as it approached the foot of the mountains, and penetrated more deeply into the haunts of the deer.
“Some time before my father had relinquished public life, he had begun to express his weariness of it, and since he had conceived the idea of devoting his time to my education, he seemed to have expressed more than his former disgust at the manner in which he was compelled to pass his days in the suite of an ambassador: but now, being suddenly raised to a very distinguished situation in his wife's country, and finding himself in possession of a very ample property, he resolved to indulge himself in that mode of life for which he had long secretly sighed; namely, an elegant and classical retirement, where, with his books, his daughter, (for he was excessively fond of me,) and a few friends, he might bring together all that he conceived really desirable in the present life.
“My father had lived many years with foreigners, and could speak German and French with perfect ease; it was not therefore necessary to his comfort that his literary companions should be Englishmen: but such was his predilection for the classics, that he never considered any man a real gentleman who was not well versed in these studies.
“With such plans of future enjoyment, my father lost no time in adding such decorations to his house and grounds as he judged they were best capable of receiving. It was not a gothic castle, but a classic villa, which
my father wished to possess; and although the Apennines might have afforded a more suitable situation than the Schwartzwald for a Roman villa, yet my father was not sorry to have such beauties of nature at his command, as those which the Schwartzwald presented at so remote a distance from Rome as the banks of the Rhine.
“ The house which I am here describing stood in the centre of a large and rich domain. It was situated on the side of a hill, in the centre of a lawn, wholly inclosed by woods; those in our neighbourhood being composed of chesnut, beech, oak, and the silver-shafted
birch, while those which were more remote presented only one mighty mass of dark fir trees.
From these woods arose, in one vast range, and stretching from north to south further than the
eye could reach, innumerable summits of mountains; some bare and rocky, some entirely covered with wood, and others frequently clothed in mantles of snow; some forming prominent features in the landscape, while others appeared to withdraw from the eye in colours almost as faint as the blue ether of the higher latitudes. The house was surrounded by a park, abounding with deer, and containing within a moderate compass every possible variety of hill and dale, waterfall and rock, cool grotto, breezy lawn, and shadowy glade;-scenes of endless variety, and such as were calculated to give inconceivable delight to one already perhaps too much devoted to the pleasures of fancy.
* The inhabitants of that part of Germany concerning which I am here speaking, are not behind their more western neighbours in their taste for statuary; and great encouragement is given to the arts of painting and sculpture in the principality of Baden. It was not, therefore, difficult for my father to find artists of sufficient eminence to execute all his plans of this kind; and since a better and purer taste has marked his character, through the divine mercy, he has often smiled at the recollection of his persevering activity and the diligence he used in converting his house and pleasure-grounds into a kind of pantheon. This trifling taste is undoubtedly not so common now in England as it formerly was; but it is impossible to take the air in a nobleman's garden on the Continent without coming into contact with gods and goddesses, fauns and satyrs, wood-nymphis and water-nymphs, in marble or bronze, ill or well executed, suitably or unsuitably accompanied. Scarcely a fishpond can be found on the Continent, in the centre of which there is not a frowning Neptune with his trident; nor a summer-house which not set forth 'with the loves of the Graces. There is hardly a little inn throughout all Germany whose walls are not adorned with the representation of some classical story; and I have frequently seen the greater part of the metamorphoses of Ovid represented on coarse paper, with a
coarser pencil, and employed as a substitute for tapestry, in houses where it was almost doubtful whether a single person could read.
These things are absurd; but if they were only absurd, we might pass them by without wishing them otherwise. But they are worse than absurd; for their influence is decidedly corrupting; and every one who thinks at all must feel them so to be. And although, as I before remarked, the worthy people of England have in some degree renounced their taste for leaden gods and marble goddesses, (a taste which probably never prevailed in our island in the degree it has abroad,) yet it must be allowed, that ideas are the same, however conveyed, whether by words or symbols, their nature and influence not undergoing the least alteration by the medium through which they are brought to the mind.
“It may perhaps be pleaded, that the ancient authors are not read on account of their mythological allusions ; that no person now living believes in the existence of these ancient demi-gods, and that no one receives them with more faith than they do the tales of Riquet a la Houppe, and Petit Poucet. For the sake of argument, we will grant all this, and that the shocking narratives of the degrading conduct of these fabled personages produce no effect on the youthful mind: yet let it be remembered, that when the fountain itself is corrupt, the waters which spring from it must necessarily be equally corrupt. The ancient heathen authors were either entirely without religion, or the religion they professed was of the most polluting description: hence the poison of infidelity, or the abominations of a vicious polytheism, were distilled into their hearts, and flowed abroad through their writings; and these writings, thus polluted and replenished with poison, are delivered to our children, yea, and pressed upon them with every argument which parental authority can adopt with any chance of success. The child who neglects these studies is threatened with correction; and the youth who declines them is told of the shame which must accompany him through the whole of life.
“But without saying too much in this place on a subject to which I must again call your attention in a fur
ther part of my letter-I must request you, my dear Madam, to represent me to yourself at the age of fourteen, settled with my parents in the chateau of Warenheim, among the most beautiful and least rugged environs of the Schwartzwald. The house we occupied stood upon the site of an ancient castle; which having fallen into complete decay, had risen again in the form of an excellent modern house, possessing many of the interior and exterior beauties of ancient Grecian architecture. On each side of this building towards the east and west were colonnades of polished granate. These colonnades were composed of coupled columns of the Corinthian order, and the interior peristyles with their ceilings were richly decorated with foliage and interlacements carefully executed. Above the door-ways which led from the peristyle into the interior of the house were many classic groups, executed in low relief of excellent workmanship; while a variety of beautiful figures, after the antique, ornamented different parts of the house and pleasure-grounds.
“ The prospects from the two fronts of the house, namely, towards the Rhine on one side, and the mountains on the other, were equally beautiful and striking ; the forepart being filled up by the ornamented pleasuregrounds, which formed a most striking contrast with the more wild scenery in the distance. This pleasureground, on our first arrival at the chateau, we found arranged with too much art: but my father soon contrived to destroy this stiffness, and to introduce the line of beauty and the ease of nature into regions, which the late possessor had laid out entirely by the rule and compass.
“ There is something peculiarly wild and impressive in all the scenery of the Schwartzwald, a certain appropriate character, which when once seen cannot easily be forgotten. But it was necessary to pass the more ornamented grounds surrounding our habitation, in order to enjoy an unobstructed view of these more savage prospects, which derived an additional degree of grandeur from a comparison with the beautiful lawns and walks by which they were approached.
“ There are nearly sixteen thousand inhabitants spread over these mountains, who have no other subsistence but what they derive from their cattle and the tillage of