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Our Father's land this vine supplies,
But this, though warmed with genial skies,
Such mild, &e.
Then shall the Rhine our smiles receive,
For on its banks alone,
Can e'er be found a wine to give
The soul, &c.
Come put the jovial cup around,
One sip, &c.
Every child in this part of Germany knows this song by heart.
Fronting the august ruins of the castle of Sannek, the Rhine presents the appearance of an ample lake, and the mountains, which hitherto were numerous and lofty, recede as we approach the pretty village of Drgeckshausen, a little beyond which the river expands, and forms a noble curve near Asmanshausen, at the foot of a forest, celebrated for the convent of Aulenhausen, much frequented by devotees. Asmanshausen is known for the fine blecker which it produces.
Nearly opposite to Ruppertsberg the navigation of the Rhine becomes very much impeded, and rendered hazardous by some vast rocks which just raise their heads above the surface of the water, and which our boatmen informed us had frequently occasioned the loss of lives. Here the country again becomes rude and rocky, occasionally covered with forest oak, and profusely ornamented with dilapidated castles, where the steel-clad chieftains of other times used to blow their
war note loud and long, Till at the high and haughty sound Rock, wood, and river rang around
Lay of the last Minstrel.
A visible change in the scenery to which we had been accustomed, commenced as we approached Bingen: the hills retire farther from the banks of the river, more modern towns, yet occasionally chequered with the remains of antiquity, attract the eye, the trees of the forest succeed to the vines of the mountain, and in the room of stupendous rocks, rich meadows and corn fields present their novel charms.
Bingen, which I visited upon my return, stands at the base of a lofty mountain, on the summit of which the ancient castle of Klopp is erected: the river Nohe disembogues itself by this city into the Rhine, over which there is a handsome stone bridge, called Druses, from its having the reputation of having been constructed by Drusis Germanicus: this confluence of the two rivers enables Bingen to carry on a considerable trade in Rhenish wines, grain, and timber.
As the shades of evening descended, we passed Ehrenfels, and a little before nine arrived at Rüdesheim, where we supped at a very handsome hotel, and drank copiously of its wine, which is said to be superior to every other part of the Rhingau. Very early in the morning I visited the remains of a magnificent castle, which has the appearance of a Roman origin: this opinion is countenanced by the strong evidences of the same character which attach to the antiquities to be found in towns within the Rhingau. The situation of this august ruin, which is close to the river, is commensurate to its grandeur: the town of Rüdesheim is large, clean, and cheerful, and has few of those features of awful gloom which characterise several of the cities on the lower sides of this river, which here widens to a great breadth, and is dotted over with luxuriant little islands. Upon quitting this town we were more frequently retarded than we had been before, by the obstructions which terraces projecting into the river, and islands, offered to our towing horse, who, with the driver, was frequently belly deep in the water, which often forced our boatmen to the tedious application of their poles. The towns of Geisenheim, St. Bartholomaï, and Winkel, presented the same sprightly and agreeable aspect as Rüdesheim. I have observed that many towns
in the Rhingau are of Roman derivation, in corroboration of which, many of their names are unquestionably so: as Winkel from Vinicella; Eltivil, from Alta Villa; and Lorch, or as the Germans pronounce it, Lorricke, from Laureacum, &c.
After quitting Rüdesheim, the noble priority of St. Johannesberg, proudly placed upon the summit of a vast mountain, surrounded with villages, hamlets, convents, nunneries, and other stately buildings, and having a back ground of distant hills covered with vines, commanded the admiration of all on board. This priory was founded in 1102, by Ruthard, second archbishop of Mayence, and in the devastating war of thirty years under Gustavus Adolphus, was rased to the ground. The land was afterwards sold to the abbot of Fuld, who rebuilt it in its present modern style, and afterwards it was given to the late Prince of Orange as an indemnity, and now forms a part of the rich territory of the Prince of Nassau Usingen. In a cave or cellar belonging to the priory, several thousands of hogsheads of the choicest wines are kept. The red blecker of Johannesberg is celebrated all over the world, and is the juice of the vineyard of the priory only; but the finest produce of the Rhingau is from the grape of Asmanshausen; Ehrenfels, and Rüdesheim, and particularly of some very small vineyards contiguous to them, called Rodtland, Hauptberg, and Hinterhausen, which rank the highest; and in this class also are included the numerous vineyards on the steep hills of Bingen, on the opposite shore. The second class embraces the vines of Rothenberg, Geisenheim, and Kapellgarten. The third class includes the grapes of Johannesberg, and the Fuldische Schlossberg. The fourth, the vines of Hattenheim, and Marker Brunner. The fifth, those of the cloister of Eberbach. Sixthly, those of Kitterich and Grafenberg; and the seventh, those of Rauenthal, and the hills and spots adjacent. All these classes are included in the district of the Rhingau.
The celebrated hock, is the produce of the vineyards of Hochheim, or High-home, above Mayence, to the eastward. Of the grape, that called the Reislinge, the longest known to these regions, ranks the highest; the Orleans grape, the orange or red
Burgundy, and the Lambert, occupy the next place in the public estimation; and the Muscadelle and Kleimberg, which are frequently cultivated in private gardens, the third.
We still continued our course on the left bank of the Rhine, and passed by many beautiful villages, and the handsome towns of Haltenheim, Erbach, Elfeld, Steinheimerhof, Nieder or Lower Wallauf, where ancient churches and convents are interspersed amongst many handsome modern houses. We reached Nieder Wallauf, the last town of the Rhingau to the east, and afterwards Schierstein, a pretty town where, as our progress was so frequently delayed by the numerous islands which lie close to the bank, in company with a very pleasant, intelligent German, I quitted the boat, and walked to Biberich: the day was remarkably fine, and our road lay through luxuriant corn and pasture fields, vineyards, orchards, every where profusely adorned with castles, religious houses, picturesque cottages, and beautiful chateaus, behind which the vast forest of Landeswald extends to an immense distance: at length the numerous spires, and the lofty towers and palaces of Mayence opened upon us, from the opposite side of the river, and had a very venerable, and majestic effect.
BIBERICH......CHARLEMAGNE'S PALACE......BRIDGE OF BOATS........ MAYENCE......HORRORS OF WAR.......THE ART OF PRINTING..... THE HOCKHEIM HILLS.......REMARKS ON OLD HOCK.......THE TOOTH-BRUSH......FRANC FORT......SPLENDID TABLE D'HOTE..... INAUGURATION OF THE PRINCE PRIMATE......ANECDOTES OF THE FRENCH......THE FAIR.
OUR entrance into an avenue of nearly a mile and a half in length, thickly lined with walnut, apple, pear, and plumb trees, loaded with fruit, announced our approach to Biberich, the superb palace of the Prince of Nassau Usingen. As I made a drawing of this palace and the adjacent town when I descended the Rhine, and the boat was in a central part of the river, it will be unnecessary to describe it. I had no time to view the apartments, but my laquais informed me, that they were grand, and furnished in a princely manner: the town is modern, small, and very handsome. As we skirted Ingelheim, we were informed that the illustrious Charlemagne, the great prototype of Bonaparte, selected this place for his favourite residence, where he built a magnificent palace, which was supported by a hundred columns of Italian marble, and had an immense number of apartments, in which synods and the most important councils of state were held: that his son Louis le Debonnaire died broken-hearted here, in consequence of the rebellions of his sons Lotharius and Louis.
Not a vestige remains of this celebrated pile to prove that it once existed: but in the life of Louis le Debonnaire, Nigellus thus consecrates this building: