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below, must have found our Bacchanalian merriment
* A tune,
I thought so at the time; and (by way I suppose of supporting my newly-assumed character), I thought too how closely the greater number of our virtues are connected with the fear of death, and how little sympathy we bestow on pain where there is no danger.”
Such companionship very naturally led to great familiarity, and the Dane, taking it for granted that his friend's faith was purely philosophical, and in keeping with his actions, thought of nothing less than a rebuff, when, on the very evening after their debauch, the fumes of their wine having been partially dissipated, he was preparing to share with him in the contempt which he felt for the silly worshippers of our Holy Redeemer.
“ After a great deal of as errant trash as was ever uttered by a weak man, he began, Coleridge tells us, to talk of Deity in a declamatory style, very much resembling the devotional rants of that rude blunderer, Mr. Thomas Payne, in his • Age of Reason, and whispered in my ear, what d-d hypocrism the whole business of Christianity was. I dare aver, that few men have less reason to charge themselves with in
dulging in persiflage than myself; I should hate it if it were only that it is a Frenchman's vice, and feel a pride in avoiding it because our own language is too honest to have a word to express it by.” (How absurd !) “ But in this instance the temptation had been too powerful, and I have placed it in the list of my offences. Pericles answered one of his dearest friends who had solicited him on a case of life and death, to take an equivocal oath for his preservation, Debeo amicis opitulari, sed usque ad Deos. Friendship herself must place her last and boldest step on this side the altar. What Pericles would not do to save a friend's life, you may be assured I would not hazard merely to mill the chocolate-pot of a drunken fool's vanity till it frothed over. Assuming a serious look, I professed myself a believer, and sunk at once an hundred fathoms in his good graces. He retired to his cabin, and I wrapped myself up in my great coat and looked at the water. A beautiful white cloud of foam, at momently intervals, coursed by the side of the vessel with a roar, and little stars of flame danced and sparkled and went out in it; and every now and then light detachments of this white cloud, like foam, darted off from the vessel's side, each with its own small constellation, over the sea, and scoured out of sight like a Tartar troop over a wilderness.”
There is something very unique, to say no more of it, in such a transition as this, from the lowest depths of drunken revelry. No one who has ever ploughed the trackless deep, can fail of perceiving the exquisite beauty of the concluding imagery, or of deriving increased gratification from the Tartar troops, that will not fail, in future, to present themselves to his imagination, when, sailing over the abyss of waters, he watches from the ship's stern their ever-varying surface. But the whole letter requires to be read in order to form a due estimate of the scene described, the characters delineated, and the thoughts interwoven with the narrative; they are such as no human being in his cups, except Coleridge, could have imagined, and, when out of them, have recollected and expressed.
In another letter, in the eighteenth number of “ The Friend,” written likewise from Ratzeburg, soon after getting there, he says, “ No little fish thrown back again into the water, no fly unimprisoned from a child's hand, could more buoyantly enjoy its element, than I this clean and peaceful house ; with this lovely view of the town, groves, and lakes of Ratzeburg, from the window at which I am writing. My spirits certainly, and my health, I fancied, were beginning to sink under the noise, dirt, and unwholesome air of our Hamburg hotel. I left it on Sunday, September 23d, 1798, with a letter of introduction from the poet Klopstock to the Amptman of Ratzeburg. The Amptman received me with kindness, and introduced me to the worthy pastor, who agreed to board and lodge me (it should have been us, for Mr. Chester was with him) for any length of time not less than a month. The vehicle in which I took my place, was considerably larger than an English stage-coach, to which it bore much the same proportion and rude resemblance that an elephant's ear does to the human. Its top was composed of naked boards of different colours, and seeming to have been parts of different wainscots. Instead of windows there were leathern curtains, with a little eye of glass in each ; they perfectly answered the purpose of keeping out the prospect, and letting in the cold. I could observe little, therefore, but the inns and farm-houses at which we stopped ; they were all alike except in size; one great room, like a barn, with a hay-loft over it, the straw and hay dangling in tufts through the boards which formed the ceiling of the room and the floor of the loft. From this room, which is paved like a street, sometimes two smaller ones are inclosed at one end. These are commonly floored. In the large room, the cattle, pigs, poultry, men, women, and children, live in amicable community; yet there was an appearance* of cleanliness and rustic comfort.
One of these houses I measured-it was an hundred feet in length. The apartments were taken off from
* I cannot say that my own recollection of similar domiciles enables me to confirm this.
one corner; between these and the stalls there was a small interspace, and here the breadth was forty-eight feet, but thirty-two where the stalls were ; of course the stalls were, on each side, eight feet in depth. The faces of the cows, &c. were turned towards the room ; indeed they were in it, so that they had at least the comfort of seeing each others' faces. Stall-feeding is universal in this part of Germany, a practice concerning which the agriculturalist and the poet are likely to entertain opposite opinions, or at least to have very different feelings. The wood-work of these buildings on the outside is left unplaistered, as in old houses among us, and, being painted red and green, it cuts and tesselates the buildings very gaily. From within three miles of Hamburg almost to Molln, which is thirty miles from it, the country, as far as I could see it, was a dead flat, only varied by woods. At Molln it became more beautiful. I observed a small lake nearly surrounded with groves, and a palace in view belonging to the King of Great Britain, and inhabited by the inspector of the forests. We were nearly the same time in travelling the thirty-five miles from Hamburg to Ratzeburg, as we had been in going from London to Yarmouth one hundred and twenty-six miles.”
The above extract is so truly graphic, so descriptive of what it is intended to pourtray (as all travellers in Hanover, whether in a post-waggon or not, will allow),