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The traveller established himself in the new ' bath-house,1—and he says,
'The cell of the hermit can hardly be more peaceful. It is true it was not only completely inhabited, but teeming with people, many of whom are known in the political world. For instance, among its inmates were the widow of the Grand Duke Constantine of Russia, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg, a Prince of Hesse Homburg, occasionally the Princess Royal of Prussia, &c. &c. No part of the building was exclusively occupied by these royal guests; but paying for their rooms no more than the prices marked upon the doors, they ascended the same staircase, and walked along the same passages, with the humblest inmates of the place. The silence and apparent solitude which reigned in this new " bad-haus," were to us always a subject of astonishment and admiration.
'A table d'hote dinner, at a florin for each person, was daily prepared for all, or any, who might choose to attend it; and for about the same price, a dinner, equally good, with knives, forks, table-cloth, napkins, &c., would be forwarded to any guests who, like ourselves, were fond of the luxury of solitude. Coffee and tea were cheap in proportion; and if one could be contented with good, sound, light Rhine-wine (ordinaire), the cost is never a shilling the bottle.'— Bubbles, pp. 277-80.
We quote these petty details with pleasure. We think them highly instructive. How many of our countrymen are always raving about the cheapness of the continent, and how many every year break up their establishments in England to go in search of it; yet, if we had but sense, or rather courage enough to live at home as economically and as rationally as princes and people of all ranks live throughout the rest of Europe, how unnecessary would be the sacrifice, and how much real happiness would be the result! But, indeed, if we look to humbler classes the thing is far worse. We perceive every year hundreds of families transporting themselves to the back-woods of Canada, who, if they could only submit here to the fiftieth part of the inconveniencies of the log-house existence, need never have torn their heart-strings asunder by separating themselves from the scenes and the friends of their youth !—But we are wandering from the wonderful water of Schlangenbad.
About as warm as milk, it is infinitely softer, and after dipping the hand into it, if the thumb be rubbed against the fingers, it may be said to feel like satin. It is no trifle to live in a skin which puts all people in good humour—at least with themselves.
* The effect produced upon the skin by lying about twenty minutes in the buth, I one day,' says our author, 'happened to overhear a short fat Frenchman describe to his friend in the following words— "Monsieur, dans ces bains on devient absolument amoureux de soi
memei" meme!" I cannot exactly corroborate this Gallic statement, yet one cannot deny that the limbs gradually appear as if they were converted into marble, and that the skin assumes a sort of glittering phosphoric whiteness.
'The Count de Grunne, the Dutch ambassador at Frankfort, having in the healthy autumn of his life come to Scblangenbad with his young wife, was so enchanted with the loveliness of the country, the mildness of the air, and the exquisite softness of the water, that, quite unable to contain himself, on a black marble column near the baths he has caused to be sculptured, as emblems of himself and his companion, two naked schlangens, eating leaves (apparently a salad) out of the same bowl, with the following pathetic inscription:—
Chahi.es O. Ds Grunne
Betsi C,ct*c. De Gkunne.
—Bubbles, p. 285. We must now conclude with a few paragraphs from our author's account of his visit to the source of the Seltzer water—to all sojourners in hot climates one of the most healthful of luxuries. Some like the water pure and unmixed, others dash a little sugar only in the glass, Germans generally prefer it with Rhine-wine, and French voluptuaries with Champagne; while many of the softer sex appear to be of opinion that the most delicious of all compounds is Seltzer water'and milk. We do not enter into this controversy.
'The moment we entered the great gate of the enclosure, which, surrounded by a high stone wall, occupies about eight acres of ground, our first impression was, that we had discovered a new world inhabited by brown stone bottles, for in all directions were they to be seen—rapidly moving from one part of the establishment to another— standing actually in armies on the ground—or piled in immense layers or strata. Such a profusion and such a confusion of bottles, it had never entered human imagination to conceive.
'On approaching a large circular shed, covered with a slated roof, but open on all sides, we found the single brunnen, or well, from which this celebrated water is forwarded to almost every city in the world. A small crane with three arms, to each of which there was suspended a square iron crate or basket, a little smaller than the brunnen, stands about ten feet off; and while peasant girls with a stone bottle (holding three pints) dangling on every finger of each hand, are rapidly filling one crate containing seventy bottles, a man turns the third by a winch, until it hangs immediately over the brunnen, into which it then rapidly descends. The air in these seventy bottles being immediately
displaced displaced by the water, a great bubbling of course takes place; but in about twenty seconds this having subsided, the crate is raised; and while seventy more bottles descend from another arm of the crane, a fresh set of girls bear off these full bottles, one on each finger of each hand, and range them in several long rows, upon a large table or dresser. No sooner are they there, than two men with surprising activity put a cork into each, while two drummers, with a long stick in each of their hands, hammering- them down, appear as if they were playing upon musical glasses. Another set of young women now instantly carry them off, four or five in each hand, to men who with sharp knives slice off the projecting part of the cork; and this being over, the poor jaded bottles are delivered over to women, each of whom actually covers three thousand a day with white leather, which they firmly bind with packthread round the corks, —then a man seated beside, without any apology, dips each of their noses into boiling hot rosin: before they have recovered from this operation the Duke of Nassau's seal is stamped upon them—and off they are hurried, sixteen and twenty at a time, to magazines where they at length repose in readiness for exportation. When it is considered that a three-armed crane is drawing up bottles seventy at a time, from three o'clock in the morning tiil seven o'clock at night (meal-hours excepted), it is evident that without very excellent arrangement some of the squads either would be glutted with more work than they could perform, or would stand idle with nothing to do. No one, therefore, dares either to hurry or stop: the motto of the place might be that of old Goethe's ring with the star upon it—ohne host, ohne rast—Anglice, haste not, rest not!
'Having followed a set of bottles from the brunnen to the store, where we left them resting from their labour, we strolled to another part of the establishment, where were empty bottles calmly waiting for their turn to be filled. We here counted twenty-five bins of bottles, each four yards broad, six yards deep, and eight feet high. A number of young girls were carrying (each thirty-four of them at a time) on their heads to an immense trough, which was kept constantly full by a large fountain-pipe of beautiful clear fresh water. The bottles were filled brim-full (as we conceived for the purpose of being washed), and were then ranged in ranks, or rather solid columns, of seven hundred each
'We had no sooner, as we thought, bidden adieu to bottles—than we saw, like Birnham Wood coming to Dunsinane, bottles approaching us in every possible variety of attitude. It appears that all the inhabitants of Nieder Selters are in the habit of drinking in their houses this refreshing water; but as the brunnen is in requisition by the Duke all day long, it is only before or after work that a private supply can be obtained: no sooner, therefore, does the evening bell ring, than every child in the village is driven out of its house to take empty bottles to the brunnen. The children really looked as if they were made of bottles. Some wore a pyramid in baskets on their heads; some were laden with them, hanging over their shoulders before and
behind behind—some carried them strapped round their middle—all had their hands full, and the little urchin that could scarcely walk came hugging in its arms one single bottle. The road to the brunnen is actually strewed with fragments, and so are the ditches; and when the reader considers, besides all he has so patiently heard, that bottles are not only expended and exported, but actually made at Nieder Selters, he must admit that no writer can possibly do justice to that place, unless every line of his description contains at least once the word bottle.
'As soon as I reached the village inn, I found there all the slight accommodation I required: a tolerable dinner soon smoked on the table before me; and feeling that I had seen quite enough for one day of brown stone bottles, I ventured to order (merely for a change) a long-necked glass bottle of a vegetable fluid superior to all the mineral water in the world.
'In the morning, previous to returning to the brunnen, I strolled for some time about the village; and the best analysis I can offer of the Selters water, is the plain fact, that the inhabitants who have drunk it all their lives, are certainly by many degrees the healthiest and ruddiest-looking peasants 1 have anywhere met with in the Duchy of Nassau.'
Next day being Sunday, the travellers had the locality of the brunnen to themselves :—
* In the middle of the great square were the stools on which the corkcovering women had sat, while, at some distance to the left, were the solid regiments of uncorked bottles, which I had seen filled brim-full with pure crystal water the evening before. On approaching this brown-looking army, I was exceedingly surprised at observing, from a distance, that several of the bottles were noseless, and I was wondering why such ones should ever have been filled, when, on getting close to these troops, I perceived, to my utter astonishment, that about one-third of them were in the same mutilated state. The devastations which had taken place resembled the riddling of an infantry regiment under a heavy fire, yet few of our troops, even at Waterloo, lost so great a proportion of their men as had fallen in twelve hours among these immoveable phalanxes.
'The governor was good enough to inform me, that bottles in vast numbers being supplied to the duke from various manufactories, in order to prove them they are filled brim-full (as I had seen them) with water, and being left in that state for the night they are the next morning visited by an officer of the autocrat, whose wand of office is a thin, long-handled little hammer. It appears that the two prevailing sins to which stone bottles are prone, are having cracks and being porous, in either of which cases they of course in twelve hours leak a little. The officer, who is judge and jury in his own court-yard, carries his own sentences into execution with a rapidity which even our Lord Chancellor himself can only hope eventually to imitate. Glancing his hawk-like eye along each line, the instant he sees a bottle not
brim-full, without listening to long-winded arguments, he at once decides '.' that there can be no mistake, that there shall be no mistake," and thus, at one tap of the hammer, off goes the culprit's nose—" So much for Buckingham!"—Bubbles, p. 320.
The bottles filled for exportation in 1832 were, according to the governor's book—large, one million thirty-three thousand six hundred and sixty-two; small, two hundred and sixty-one thousand five hundred and twenty-one: and besides this there is a gratis consumption on the spot, and its immediate vicinity, of at least half a million of bottles. The large bottles, when full, are sold at the brunnen for thirteen florins a hundred. The duke's profit in 1832, deducting all expenses, appeared to be as nearly as possible fifty thousand florins ; and yet this brunnen was sold to his highness's ancestor for a single butt of wine!
We might now proceed to the boiling Brunnen of Wiesbaden, to the Monastery of Eberbach, and to various other equally interesting points in the little Duchy of Nassau, but it is time we should say to our traveller—Farewell! We are enabled to testify that his descriptions are correct, and the unusually long quotations we have borrowed from them sufficiently express our opinion of the rough graphic merit they possess. W'e may add that the volume is illustrated by a few very clever sketches, taken by Burges's Patent Paneidolon, a newly-invented instrument, which, if we are to judge from the specimens before us, will be a valuable acquisition to amateurs at home or abroad. We certainly think the author would do well to extend this little work, and publish it,—and that if he does so, the more of these sketches he gives us, the better.
Art. III.—Present State of the Poor-Law Question. By C. Wetherell. 1833.
2. Extracts from the Information received by His Majesty's Commissioners as to the Administration and Operation of the PoorLaws. Published by Authority. 1833.
S. Reply of the Commissioners for inquiring into the Poor-Laws to a Letter from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the LabourKate. Printed for the House of Commons, June 19th, 1833.
A NOTHER year has passed away without producing a single measure directed towards the reform of the glaring abuses of the English poor-laws. To what may we attribute this apparent indifference to evils of such enormous magnitude on the part of those whose first duty and paramount interest it would seem to be to correct them? Not, certainly, to any want of information