A Corner In The Courtyard

A Corner In The Courtyard.

The Courtyard Of Heidelberg Castle

The Courtyard Of Heidelberg Castle.

The presence of ivy, in connection with the ruins of the past, is one of the most beautiful and suggestive sights in nature. It is also a peculiarity of the North. Egyptian ruins stand in the burning sunlight, desolate and naked, with all the blows they have received from time and their despoilers plainly visible; but in the lands of mist and snow, ruins are quickly covered with a lovely mantle of protection. How tenderly the ivy touches the broken outlines of their stony features, putting its tiny tendrils forth, like an in-fant's fingers creeping over a mother's face! And when the union of the vine and ruin is completed, how sturdily those rootlets cling to every coign of vantage, and enter every nook and cranny, until by the sheer force of numbers their lilliputian hands screen and apparently support the massive walls!

Statue Covered Walls

Statue-Covered Walls.

A Historic Facade

A Historic Facade.

Sculptured Kings And Warriors

Sculptured Kings And Warriors.

Is it not owing to its ivied cloak that many an ancient structure is more beautiful in ruin than when perfect? And who can stand by such an edifice, made lovelier by vines which never would have come to it but for misfortune, and not reflect how character is often beautified by adversity, developing in trial a multitude of noble traits which in prosperity would never have been seen ? Something is wanting in a man who has not known misfortune. To have really lived one must have suffered.

A Rhenish Ruin

A Rhenish Ruin.

In the cellar of the castle is the largest wine-cask in the world, which is no less than twenty-four feet high, and has a capacity of more than a quarter of a million bottles of wine. In olden times, when this huge tun had been filled with the produce of the vintage, a dance took place upon the platform that surmounts it, and the old castle walls resounded to gay music, songs, and laughter; but ever since 1769 the cask has held no wine, and the days of Heidelberg's festivities are gone forever.

There are three modes of traveling on the Rhine. The first and fastest is, of course, the railway; but this, while good for business purposes, is rarely taken by the tourist. The second is the steamboat, which is both rapid and agreeable. The third and last is the long line of splendid carriage-roads which wind around the bases of the mountains and skirt the borders of the stream. Ninety-nine out of every hundred travelers, probably, take the steamboat journey, and thus glide rapidly in one day past the famous Rhenish villages and castles; but this is like going through a picture-gallery on roller-skates. There is no time on such a trip really to observe anything. The most delightful way to travel through Rhineland is in a carriage, or on foot. Of this I was convinced, some years ago, in talking with a gentleman who had made such a tour.

I had myself sailed up and down the Rhine a number of times, and thought I knew it tolerably well; but when we came to speak of some details, I found that, compared with my companion, I knew very little. "How is this ?" I inquired, in some chagrin, when he had asked my impressions of a place I had not seen, "how is it possible that you know the entire route so perfectly ?" "It is easily explained," was the reply. "I recently hired a carriage and a pair of horses, and, with my son, drove leisurely along the Rhine for a hundred and fifty miles, having no end of good hotels in which to eat when we were hungry, and sleep when we were weary. Journeying thus, we halted when and where we liked, observed the village life, and visited leisurely the ruins, which, looked on from the steamer at a distance, merely produce a vague impression soon to be forgotten." I contemplated him with admiration, not unmixed with envy. No one could have called him an extensive traveler. He had not been in Egypt, Spain, or even Italy, but he had done at least one thing in Europe thoroughly, - he had seen the Rhine. The usual starting-point for a sail down the Rhine is Mainz, or, as the French prefer to say, Mayence. This, if not beautiful, is nevertheless a town of great historical celebrity.