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Yet there is a charm in tobacco, which after bivouacking in a Hessian wood, and sojourning as I have done, amidst swarms of relentless mosquitoes, I am bound to acknowledge; a compensating charm, which will uphold its use among mortals, as long as fogs and malaria, listless hours and uneasy sensations, painful days and watchful nights, nay as long as sun and moon and mosquitoes endure.
Even the pathetic old favourite ballad of Darby and Joan claims for it some indulgence :
“ Together they totter about,
Or sit in the sun at the door;
His Joan will not smoke one whiff more.”
And what shall we sing or say of our neighbours the
Decipit incantos juvenesque senesque tabaci
Fistula-de Satanæ fistula rapta manu.
Ut capiantur aves, fistula dulce canit.
Illa sed ad Stygias fistula ducit aquas.
Neither King James's counter blast, nor Burton's melancholy denunciations, will be thought to surpass this.-See Anat. of Melancholy, Part II. s. 4.
Old men and young, beware! beware!
Dutch? We would not surely deny the comforts of a pipe to a people
“ Breathing the grave pacific air,
Where never mountain zephyr blew,
Which Pan, which Ceres never knew ;
Urging in vain their urns to flow,
And haply soothe some lover's prudent woe,
Doubtless this Indian herb, like the mountain dew, is adapted to certain persons, places and seasons, and, when used and not abused, may be fairly deemed to be entitled to a place among the legitimate antidotes of the miseries of human life.
I must now return to my account of our ascent of the Brocken, from whence I have wandered so far and away. This we effected on the 12th of May, 1799, being Whit Sunday.
The sun had not yet extended its dissolving influence, even to the snow that lay around the base of the mountain, beyond the maximum point of annoyance to foot passengers ; so that having to wade through soft snow and swampy soil, and being, ever and anon, impeded by stunted firs and holes of rocks, it was not without considerable toil and difficulty, that
we reached at length the summit. Upon this occasion - , always cheerful and amusing, and now inspired by the genius loci, composed the following distich :-
“ We climbed to the top without getting a stitch,
But when we got there, we saw never a witch.”
What then did we see? The Brocken spectre ? No. It was the wrong time of day. The monster of the Harz is only visible in the morning when the sun has risen a few degrees above the horizon, and when moreover a natural tablet has been provided in the fog which must opportunely girdle the mountain's sylvan waist for the spectre's reception. In the absence therefore of the spectre, we visited the magic circle of stones within which the fairies are said to assemble and carry on their revels, at the hour of midnight, in the liquid ether of the mountain top, illumined by the moon's pale and bewitching beams. Here, on the first of May in particular, they merrily dance, at the aforesaid hour (a fact for which I have the authority, founded may be on tradition, of our fellow-traveller Blumenbach), and such persons as at these times have been attracted to the spot, see their own ghosts walking up and down with a billet at their backs, having the names inscribed upon them of any friends who may have wished them there ; for “ I wish you on the top of the Brocken,” is a woe in use throughout the whole of Germany. From the witches' ballroom we adjourned to the adjoining wirthshaus, a sort of Caravansary, situated almost on the highest point of the mountain, where we were regaled with rashers of bacon, and with what more my journal saith not; but it is probable that this was one of the occasions upon which we did not decline a glass of Schnapps without the protecting sheath ; for Coleridge was not only a wise but an indulgent Mentor.
In my haste to proceed up the Brocken, I perceive that I have omitted to mention, what indeed is not very important, that we halted the first night at Satzfeld, or a romantic village bearing some such name, in the electorate of Hanover, which we had re-entered. Here we arrived tired and sore enough, about ten o'clock, yet the latter part of our walk had lain through a picturesque and highly-interesting country, much of which Coleridge likened to the scenery near Dulverton; whilst our sense of increasing fatigue was likewise not a little relieved by the exhilarating effect of the first view we caught of the Harz mountains, which burst upon us this afternoon in all their grandeur. And, as the day further declined, a bright moonlight shed a varied interest over wood and dale and murmuring stream ; but the wind was bitterly cold; the frogs were beginning to drown the voice of the nightingale by their croaking; and Coleridge, who had already designated our tour the Carlyon-Parry-Green-ation, and who was never above a pun when it crossed his mind opportunely, informed us that the dissonance proceeded from a species of crocadile (croak-a-deal) so extremely common in the north of Germany, that he considered Lessing's Fable of the Frogs, as given by Gifford, almost unintelligible to one who had not travelled out of England. Upon the whole, however, we could not be more glad than we were to enter our little inn, where we found but a comfortless supper, and a still more comfortless lodging ; but hunger was our sauce, and fatigue our night-cap; so that after appeasing the former by the aid of coffee, ham, and metwurst (a sort of German sausage usually eaten raw), we threw ourselves down, in perfect reliance on the latter for sleep, on beds of straw, for such only could we procure. Coleridge strongly recommended us to take off the whole or the greater part of our dress, assuring us, on the authority of Professor Blumenbach, whose lectures on physiology he had attended, that our warmth would depend on the removal of all pressure from our limbs. He and — accordingly tried the experiment fully, but in this, as in other cases, it was found that extremes had better be avoided.