The Guard House.
"The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on ; nor all your Piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line."
There are such vehicles in Berlin as third-class drosh-kies; but I never entered one of them, through fear of forfeiting my life insurance.
In strolling about Berlin, one soon discovers that, notwithstanding all its military power, the Government cannot wholly remedy the city's unfortunate situation. It lies in the midst of such a sandy plain that the Viennese call it jestingly the "sand-box of Germany," from the great clouds of dust which sometimes make its streets unbearable.
Moreover, its low level has worse consequences than a sandy soil. The good old lady who thought it was owing to a kind act of Providence that rivers usually flowed beside important cities, must have believed Berlin to be neglected by the gods; for the river Spree, which creeps on through the Prussian capital, is a dull, languid stream, the odors of which cannot be surpassed, save by the fumes rising from the canals connected with it Sometimes, when I have stood on one of Berlin's numerous bridges in the summer months, I have been conscious of a medley of rebellious smells, which all the gods of war could not suppress. Even the Berlinese acknowledge this defect; and a comic paper recently described how a despairing lover, wishing to commit suicide in a legal manner, accomplished his purpose by merely hovering for some hours on the banks of one of these pestiferous canals.
The Cafe Baur.
A very prominent building in Berlin, and another conspicuous feature of the Unterden Linden, is the Royal Museum, founded by Frederick William III. in 1824. Fronting upon a handsome park, adorned with statues, trees, and flowers, its site is superb, and its dimensions are imposing. A noble portico of Ionic columns gives it an air of strength and majesty, while its great height is shown by the four groups of statuary on the roof, which, though colossal in themselves, appear diminutive on such a pedestal. At the foot of the broad staircase leading to this museum is an enormous basin of polished granite, sixty-six feet in circumference and weighing seventy-five tons, yet hewn from a single granite boulder, left by some southward moving glacier, countless centuries ago, within Thirty miles of the site of the future Berlin. But this does not appear extraordinary to a native of Berlin. It seems to him quite natural that Providence should have foreordained the leaving of that boulder, just where it fell, to decorate the future Prussian capital. "Est ist colossal," they say of it, "gans colossal" which is, indeed, the phrase most often heard from the Berlinese, as, flushed with pride and satisfaction, they describe the buildings, monuments, and population of their city.
The Polytechnic School, Charlottenburg.
The River Spree.
Every tourist who stands before the steps leading to this museum observes with admiration the groups of statuary in bronze on either side. He might expect that, at least, before a temple of the fine arts, some peaceful statues would be placed; but this the warlike predilections of the Berlinese forbid. One of these groups is the famous work called the Lion Killer. It is evident that the king of beasts has received a mortal wound, for a broken spear-shaft has been buried in his side ; yet, even in the agony of death, he has driven his claws into the side of the poor horse, which rears in terror and in pain. Meantime the conqueror, bestriding his unbridled steed with perfect ease, adjusts his aim with a composure and consummate skill which indicate the issue of the combat. We are sure that in a moment more the monster will lie prostrate at his feet. Even more striking than this group is its companion on the other side of the staircase. Here the contending warrior is an Amazon. With her the conflict has become more desperate ; for a powerful tiger, still unwounded, has leaped directly on her horse, driving both teeth and claws into the neck and breast of the poor beast, whose fear is admirably shown in his drooping ears and the wild movement of his eye, just visible above the tiger's head. This combat seems so doubtful, that I could hardly contemplate it without a quicker beating of my heart, and an impatient wish that this unyielding, interlocked embrace might be relaxed and victory prevail for one side or the other.