View From The Drachenfels.
A Glimpse From Rolandseck.
Ruins Of Rolandseck.
Upon this island a convent, embowered in trees, still occupies the site of the institution founded centuries ago, and it is said that this historic retreat was conceded to the nuns by Napoleon, through the intercession of Josephine, at the time when all other religious establishments along the Rhine were abolished by the French.
We may smile at the old Rhenish legends as improbable and childish, and yet to the ideas which underlie them the world owes some of those immortal compositions which must no longer be regarded as the "music of the future," but the music of the century. Wagner perceived the strength and beauty of the northern myths and drew from them material for his noblest inspirations. Then, bringing to the Rhine the legendary heroes of the North, he wove about them the enchanting robes of music, poetry, and romance.
The Rhine And Nonnenwerth.
The Rhine itself with its eternal movement toward the sea, the changeless calm within its depths, the rhythmic undulation of its surface, the whisper of its wavelets in the rushes, the clamor of its current on the rocks, and the wild fury of its falls, furnished the motive for some of his sublimest passages.
There is, indeed, a power in the Norseland Sagas that makes them masterful and virile; and such conceptions as the Rheingold, the valiant Siegfried, the weird Valkyrie, and the Twilight of the Gods, are better suited to Wagner's music than the more effeminate mythology of the south could ever be. The Valhalla, not Olympus, is Wagnerian.
In full view of the Seven Mountains lies the pretty city of Bonn, famed for its university of fifteen hundred students. It is a pleasant place in which to spend a few days of the fortnight or three weeks which can be profitably given to a tour in Rhineland; for its hotels are excellent, the surrounding scenery charming, and the excursions to be made from it delightful. Among the celebrated names associated with Bonn are those of the historian Niebuhr and the philosopher Schlegel, who taught in its university; the composer Beethoven, whose birthplace it was; and the poet Arndt, whose noble life here reached its end. To the composer and poet, monuments have been erected, and as I stood before them and reflected on the rarity of men who rise thus from the wilderness of mediocrity, and are thenceforth distinguished evermore from the innumerable nameless dead, I was profoundly convinced of the potency and value of individuality in human history.
It was Socrates, not the Athenians, who gave mankind the ideas handed down to us by his disciples Xenophon and Plato; it was Caesar, not the Roman legions, who conquered Gaul, invaded Britain, vanquished Pompey, and unified the Roman world; it was Frederick the Great, not the Prussian army, who kept at bay the three great European powers for seven years; it was Napoleon, not his marshals, nor even the spirit of the Revolution, who entered nearly every capital as conqueror, created kings, and was the arbiter of Europe for a dozen years. The masses of humanity are like the steppes or prairies of our earth, - extensive, useful, and productive, but painfully monotonous and uniform. The leaders of the race, however, are like mountains which lift their heads toward heaven, discern the future and survey the past, hold converse with each other over the intervening fields and foothills, catch the first promise of the rising sun, reflect it to a darkened world beneath, and finally pass on the solar radiance to more distant peaks, till their refulgent summits seem like a line of torch-bearers encircling the globe.
The Island Of Nonnenwerth.
It is difficult to think of either Shakespeare or Beethoven as a child, and yet the man whose influence in music has been as helpful and inspiring to the race as Shakespeare was in literature, played as a boy in these old streets of Bonn.