The Bridge At Mainz

The Bridge At Mainz.

An Alpine Glacier

An Alpine Glacier.

The Cradle Of The Rhine

The Cradle Of The Rhine.

A few miles farther down its course, we find the youthful river rushing on, apparently eager to prove its newfound strength and speed. Ah, river! I have often thought, you will not soon discover a safer or more lovely spot than this, your mountain-girdled home, which you are in such haste to leave. Care and responsibility will come to you soon enough; and these your sparkling waves, which can now only glitter in the sun and murmur in their shallow path, will soon bear on their breast the commerce of great cities, and roll in majesty past many a lovely meadow and embattled crag. What an amount of life and history-hangs on this little crystal thread!

The Rhine At Boppard

The Rhine At Boppard.

pfeiffer's gorge

Pfeiffer's Gorge.

Another interesting point in the development of the young Rhine is where it is joined by its first tributary. The meeting-place is in the vicinity of one of the most impressive spots in Europe, known as "Pfeiffer's Gorge." Through this tremendous chasm the river Tamina, apparently in frantic haste to meet the Rhine, has worn itself a path. On either side tower dark walls of rock, which are not merely perpendicular, but actually bend toward each other, so that they seem about to fall and fill the river with their mass. On one side, a light wooden bridge clings to the rocks, as if in fear, some forty feet above the stream. At first, I halted at the entrance, afraid to trust myself to such a frail support; but, as I ventured further through the gorge, I quite forgot where I was walking, in admiration of the place.

Yet, for a single moment, I was never more terrified in my life than in that dark ravine. When we had entered it, quite unobserved by us, black clouds were rolling up their masses in the summer sky. Accordingly, half an hour later, there suddenly came a blinding flash, as though the blade of a colossal sword had been swept downward through the gorge, and then withdrawn with inconceivable rapidity. This was succeeded almost instantly by a terrific crash of thunder, which fairly made our hearts stand still. Moreover, that single peal was but the prelude to a dozen more, whose echoes, harsh and jagged as the rocks themselves, were hurled about, from cliff to cliff, until they seemed the screams and laughter of malignant demons.

The Path Of The Tamina

The Path Of The Tamina.

Soon after being reinforced by this ally, the youthful Rhine acquires an experience unlike all others in its history, by a temporary sojourn in, and identification with, Lake Constance. A prize too precious for one nation to defend seems this enchanting inland sea; for, in its circuit of one hundred miles, five different countries - Bavaria, Baden, Austria, Wurtemberg, and Switzerland - encircle it like sentinels. I first beheld it one evening, in 1880, when on my way to the Passion Play at Ober-Ammergau, and I shall never cease to think with pleasure of the magic light, which then fell softly on the illumined shore. The lake itself lay like an emerald shield, and, in the mirror of its peaceful flood, a second town, the counterpart of that upon the bank, appeared to be inverted in a sea of color; while in the sunset sky so many glorious hues were visible, that a great treasure-house of Nature, filled with materials for a million rainbows, appeared to have been broken open, and its prismatic colors scattered broadcast.

Lake Constance

Lake Constance.

Upon a gently sloping hill above Lake Constance is an old-fashioned, modest country-house, which several times within the present century has stood forth prominently on the political background, not alone of France, but of the whole of Europe. It is the Chateau of Arenenberg, for years the home of Josephine's daughter, Queen Hortense, and her son Napoleon III.