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and purposes of life become stagnant. In Paris only one convent, that of the Blue Nuns, is permitted to remain. The numerous convents which adorn the French side of the Rhine with the most picturesque appearance, are either converted into fabrics, or suffered to run to dilapidation: the river, from its meanderings, is land-locked all the way, every turning of which surprised and captivated me with some new beauty. Here, behind a line of walnut, lime and beech trees, just skirting the margin of the river, a stupendous pyramidal cliff appears, with every projection upon which the cultivator could lodge a layer of vegetable mould, supporting a little growth of vine: there, mountains of vineyards, relieved by mouldering castles, and convents rising from masses of rock shooting forwards, or piercing the sky from their pointed pinnacles, arrest the attention. Sometimes a torrent brightens before the beholder, and distantly roars upon the ear; at others the naked bed of one appears, or a rude gap through which the eye penetrates into ranges of other vine-clad mountains, variegated with majestic ruins, is seen. At the base of the hills on the sides of the river numerous towers and villages constantly appear, defended by ancient walls and turrets, adorned with venerable churches, brown with age, surmounted with lofty spires, every where inviting the reflection of the moralist, the investigation of the antiquary, the song of the poet, and the pencil of the painter.
BASALT MOUNTAINS......ANDERNACH...... ANECDOTE OF GENERAL
HOCHE.....RHENISH FLOATS.....SINGULAR ACCIDENT.....FRENCH
POLICE.....NEUW EID.....THE RHINE BOAT.....TOMB OF GENERAL
MARCEAU....ANECDOTE OF FRENCH HEROISM.....COBLENTZ.....
ITS SURRENDER TO THE FRENCH ARMS.....ANEDOTE OF FRENCH
VIVACITY.....THE ROCK AND FORTRESS OF EHRENBREITSTEIN
......THE GRIFFON.....STUPENDOUS FRENCH ROADS.....BOPPART.
ALMOST all the immense mass of mountains which extend from Bonn to Andernach, is composed of the basalt and slate; the former has a more artificial appearance than almost any other mineral production. In no form can it puzzle the philosopher more than at the Giant's Causeway, in Ireland, where it assumes a columnar shape, which has every appearance of having been chisseled by the hand of a skilful mason, and of having been regular granite cooling after fusion, and formed into regular masses by crystallization. In the small cavities of these mountains the martins and swallows find refuge, and in a comfortable state of torpidity pass through the cold and cheerless weather of winter. The children of the peasantry amuse themselves in discovering their retreats, at an apparent exposure of their own lives.
In an amphitheatre of vast dusky basalt mountains, the sombre gates, towers and pinnacles of Andernach appeared : in consequence of the river making a long sweep, I landed with an intention of rejoining the boat at a village named by the skipper; a more solemn scene of gloom and grandeur, I never contemplated: the ruins of this town towards Coblentz are of great antiquity. The inhabitants insist upon it, that the remains of the Emperor Valentine are deposited in one of their churches, and that Julius Cæsar when he so victoriously fought against the Suabians, pass over the Rhine at this spot, where Drusus the general of Augustus, built one of those fifty castles which are erected on the banks of the Rhine: but the French, who narrowly investigated every part of the river which their victorious arms enabled them to visit, with great acuteness, and with the assistance of history, believe that this celebrated landing was effected a little higher up the river, a short distance from Engers, at a place called the White Tower (der Weisse Thurm), the venerable front of which I saw as I afterwards advanced on our right, in the centre of a sudden recess of the river, where it has the appearance of having served the united purposes of a castle and a watch-tower; at its base is a considerable village, which formerly belonged to the Elector of Treves: this situation is from a combination of local advantages, peculiarly favorable to the completion of such a passage, and in confirmation of the opinion, a great number of Roman antiquities have been found there. General Hoche, at the head of an immense army, aided by the obscurity of the night, crossed the Rhine at this place in 1797, and astonished the imperial troops the next morning by their presence.
This was the last exploit of that general. Near this tower there are deposited his remains, over which a mausoleum has been erected. This young commander died of an enlargement of the heart at Wetzlar. His funeral was conducted with uncommon military pomp. The procession moved from the place where he died, across the Rhine to the White Tower, amidst the discharge of cannon, which were fired every quarter of an hour.
The trade of the Rhine is here very flourishing, for exclusive of the neighbouring vineyards which produce fine wines, and the basalts of the adjoining mountains used for building and paving, this city derives considerable wealth from the lapis tophaceus or tuf stone, the harder sort of which form excellent millstones; vast quantities are shipped for Holland, to construct or repair its dykes with, and the more friable is used for building, whilst its powder mixed with lime forms the hardest and most durable cement. I saw the cabins of several treckschuyts in Holland covered with it, which were perfectly impervious to the rain: the Germans also use it to floor their houses with. This stone is considered to be a species of the pumice-stone, or imperfect lava, and of volcanic production.
On the banks leading to this city, I saw part of one of those amazing floats of timber which are formed of lesser ones, conveyed to this city from the forests adjoining the Rhine, the Moselle, the Maine, &c.; these floats are attached to each other, and form a platform generally of the enormous dimensions of eight hundred feet in length, and one hundred and sixty in breadth, upon
which a little village containing about eighty wooden houses is erected for the accommodation of those who are interested in, and assist in navigating this stupendous raft, frequently amounting to seven and eight hundred persons, men, women, and children; besides these buildings, there are stalls for cattle, slaughtering houses, and magazines for provisions : the float is prevented from striking against the shores, where the turnings are abrupt, by the application of thirty or forty anchors, which with the necessary cables are conveyed in fourteen or fifteen boats which precede it, and its course is safely directed by German and Dutch pilots, who are hired for the purpose.
After great rains when the current is rapid, the whole is entrusted to its propelling force, otherwise several hundred persons are employed in rowing, who move there oars at a given word of command. The whole of these wonderful moving masses is under the entire direction of a governor or superintendant, and several officers under him. Sometimes they are months in performing their
voyage, in consequence of the water being low, in which case they are obliged to wait till the river is swelled by the rains. In this manner they float from the high to the low countries, and upon their arrival at the place of destination, the whole is broken up, and finds a ready market. About twelve of them annually arrive at Dort, in Holland, in the months of July and August, where these German timber-merchants having converted their floats into
good Dutch ducats, return to their own country with their families, to enjoy the produce of their labour and enterprize.
The clergy and monks in Andernach used to be, to use a good-humoured homely expression of a late illustrious statesman, upon an application made to him for a place under his administration as thick as five in a bed;" beside six vicars belonging to a large parish church, there were no less than five crowded convents, and the population did not exceed four thousand souls: the convents are now converted into garrisons for French soldiers, and storehouses for tradesmen. After viewing the city, I set off on the road to Coblentz, with a view of meeting the boat at the place appointed, and after walking about two miles, I lost all traces of the river; however, observing about three parts of a mile oft, the tops of a long semicircular line of poplars, I concluded the river flowed by them, and I accordingly endeavoured to penetrate to the bank through a large willow wood, in which I soon lost myself. At last, however, I succeeded in forcing a way into a little footpath, in pursuing which I suddenly came upon a Frenchman, poorly clothed in green, with a book in his hand; he courteously addressed me, remarked that I looked rather warm, and conducted me to a recess in the wood, close to the water, where there was a bed of straw and a gun: at first I regarded him as a robber, but he soon gave me to understand that he was a link in a vast chain, composed of forty thousand soldiers, placed in this sort of ambuscade at the distance of a gun shot from each other, by the orders of the government of France, to guard the left bank of the Rhine from smugglers; and that to prevent contraband practices, no boat is suffered to pass either up or down the river after sunset, without being fired upon; that they are always clothed in a sombre dress, to prevent observation, and are concealed in this manner wherever the sides of the river will admit of it. Upon my informing him that I had lost my way and my boat, he politely assured me that it had not yet ascended the river, and hailed a little punt passing by, which enabled me to regain the vessel, then very fortunately just approaching. Notwithstanding the vigilance