282. To Thomas Poole Address: Mr T. Poole | Nether Stowey | Somersetshire | England Pay'd to Cuxhaven MS. British Museum. Pub. E.L.G. i. 107. Postmark: Foreign Office, 3 June 1799. Sunday Morning, 1/2 past 8/ May 19th, 1799 My dearest Poole I arrived at Göttingen last night, 9 o'clock, after a walk of thirty miles -- somewhat disappointed at finding no letters for me, but surprized that Chester had none. Surely, his family do not behave over-attentively towards him! -- We have been absent 8 months and 10 days; & he has received one Letter from them! -Well -- now to conclude my all too uninteresting Journal. -- In my second letter to Sara I was still at Blankenburg -- We left it on Wednesday Morning, May 15th taking first one survey more of the noble view which it commanded. -- I stood on the Castle Hill, on my Right a Hill half-wood, half rock, of a most grand outline (the rude sketch of it's outline is given in that little Drawing at the top of my first letter to Sara) 1 then a plain of young Corn -- then Rocks -- walls and towers / And pinnacles of Rock, a proud domain / Disdainful of the Seasons! these formed the right hand. On the left and curving round till they formed the front view, Hills here green with leafy Trees, here still iron-brown, dappled as it were with coming Spring & lingering Winter; not (like the single Hill) of abrupt & grand outlines, but rising & sinking yet on the whole still rising, in a frolic Surginess. -- In the Plain (or Area of the view) young Corn, herds of Cattle, troops of Goats, & shepherds at the head of Streams of Sheep. -- We left the town, proceeded thro' the Plain, & having walked about half a mile, turned to contemplate the backward view, to which was now added the Towers & castle of Bermburg, that looked in upon us from the distance, on our right hand as we then stood. -- We proceeded; and a mile from Blankenburg we came to a small Lake quite surrounded with Beech-trees, the margins of the Lake solid marble ____________________ 1 See Letter 281, where this drawing is indicated but not reproduced. -510- Rock -- two or three Stone-thrushes were flitting about those rocky margins. Our road itself was, for a few strides, occupied by a pretty little one arched Bridge, under which the Lake emptied itself, and at the distance of ten yards from the bridge, on our right hand, plunged itself down, (it's stream only once broken by a jutting rock nearly in the midst of the fall) into a chasm of 80 feet in depth and somewhat more in length (a chasm of black or mossy Rocks) & then ran under ground. -- We now entered the Woods, the morning thick & misty -- we saw a number of wild deer, & at least fifty Salamanders. -- / The salamander is a beautiful Lizard, perfectly harmless (I examined several in my naked hand.) Its length from six to seven Inches, with a Nightingale's Eye, and just 22 yellow streaks on it's glossy-black Skin. That it can live in the Fire, is a fable; but it is true, that if put on burning Coals, for the first, or even the second time, it emits a liquid so copiously as to extinguish the Coals. -- So we went, up hill & down dale, but all thro' woods, for four miles, when we came to a sort of Heath stubby with low trunks of old fir-trees -- & here were Women in various groups sowing the Fir-seed: a few ceasing from their work to look at us / Never did I behold aught so impressively picturesque, or rather statue-esque, as these Groups of Women in all their various attitudes -- The thick mist, thro' which their figures came to my eye, gave such a soft Unreality to them! These lines, my dear Poole, I have written rather for my own pleasure than your's -for it is impossible that this misery of words can give to you, that which it may yet perhaps be able to recall to me. -- What can be the cause that I am so miserable a Describer? Is it that I understand neither the practice nor the principles of Painting? -- or is it not true, that others have really succeeded? -- I could half suspect that what are deemed fine descriptions, produce their effects almost purely by a charm of words, with which & with whose combinations, we associate feelings indeed, but no distinct Images. --/ From these Women we discovered that we had gone out of our way precisely 4 miles / so we laughed, & trudged back again, & contrived to arrive at Werninger rode about 12 o'clock. -- This belongs to the Princely Count Stolberg, a Cousin of the two Brothers, the Princely Counts Stolberg of Stolberg, 1 who both of them are Poets & Christians -- good Poets, real Christians, & most kind-hearted Princes --/ what a combination of rarities for Germany! ---- The Prince -- Count Stolberg at Werninger rode gave on this day a feast to his People -- & almost all the family of the Stolbergs were assembled -- the nobles & people were shooting for a prize at a ____________________ 1 Counts Christian and Friedrich Leopold Stolberg. Coleridge translated the latter's Hymne an die Erde. Poems, i. 327. -511- Stuffed Bird placed on the Top of a high May-pole. A nobleman of the Family, who had been lately at Gottingen, recognized Parry, & was about to have introduced us; but neither our dress or time permitting it, we declined the honour. -- In this little town there is a School with about 12 or 18 poor Scholars in it, who are maintained by the Tenants & citizens -- they breakfast with one, dine with another, & sup with a third/managing their visits so as to divide the Burthen of their maintenance according to the capabilities of the People, to whose tables they solicit admission. -Thro' a country not sufficiently peculiarized to be worth describing we came to Drubeck, a pretty village -- far off on the right hand a semicircular Vale of an immense extent:/close by on the left, it's figure the Concave of a Crescent, a high woody Hill, the heights cloathed with firs with an intermixture of Beeches yellow-green in their opening Foliage; but below these & flowing adown the Hill into the valley, a noble Stream of Beeches, of freshest verdure. We enter[ed] the wood, passed woods & woods, every now & then coming to little spots of Greenery of various sizes & shapes, but always walled by Trees; & always as we entered, the first object which met us was a Mount of wild outline, black with firs soaring huge above the woods. / One of these Greeneries was in shape a Parallelogram, walled on three sides by the silver-barked weeping Birches, on the fourth by Conical Firs -- a rock on the Fir-side rose above the Trees just within the wood, & before us the huge Firmount / it was a most impressive Scene! -- Perhaps, not the less so from the mistiness of the wet Air. -- We travelled on & on, O what a weary way! now up, now down, now with path, now without it I having no other guides than a map, a compass, & the foot-paces of the Pigs, which had been the day before driven from Hartzburg to Dribbock [Drübeck] / where there had been a Pig-Fair. -- This intelligence was of more service to us than Map or Compass. -- At length we came to the foot of the huge Fir-mount roaring with woods, & winds, & waters! -- And now the Sky cleared up, and masses of crimson Light, fell around us from the fiery west, & from the Clouds over our heads that reflected the western fires. -- We wound along by the feet of the Mount, & left it behind us, close before us a high hill, a high hill close on our right, & close on our left a hill -- we were in a circular Prison of Hills / and many a mass of Light, moving & stationary, gave life & wildness to the Rocks & Woods that rose out of them. -- But now we emerged into a new scene! -- close by our left hand was a little Hamlet, each House with it's orchard of Blossom-Trees, in a very small & very narrow coomb! : the Houses were built on the lowest part of the Slope of the steeply-shelving Hills, that formed the Coomb; but on our -512- right hand was a huge Valley with rocks in the distance & a steady Mass of Clouds that afforded no mean substitute for a Sea. / On each side, as ever, high woody Hills -- but majestic River, or huge Lake -- O that was wanting, here & every where! -- And now we arrived at Hartsburg/ -- Hills ever by our sides, in all conceivable variety of forms & garniture -- It were idle in me to attempt by words to give their projections & their retirings & how they were now in Cones, now in roundnesses, now in tonguelike Lengths, now pyramidal, now a huge Bow, and all at every step varying the forms of their outlines; / or how they now stood abreast, now ran aslant, now rose up behind each other / or now, as at Harzburg, presented almost a Sea of huge motionless waves / too multiform for Painting, too multiform even for the Imagination to remember them / yea, my very sight seemed incapacitated by the novelty & Complexity of the Scene. / Ye red lights from the Rain Clouds! Ye gave the whole the last magic Touch! / I had now walked five & thirty miles over roughest Roads & had been sinking with fatigue / but so strong was the stimulus of this scene, that my frame seemed to have drank in a new vitality; for I now walked on to Goslar almost as if I had risen from healthy sleep on a fine spring morning: so light & lively were my faculties. -- On our road to Goslar we passed by several Smelting Houses & Wire Manufacturies, & one particularly noticeable where they separate the Sulphur from the Ores. The night was now upon us / & the white & blue flares from this Building formed a grand & beautiful Object -- & so white was the flame, that in the manufactury itself All appeared quite like a natural Day light. (It is strange, that we do not adopt some means to render our artificial Lights more white.) -- As the Clock struck ten we entered the silent City of Goslar / and thro' some few narrow Passages, called Streets by Courtesy, we arrived at our Inn -- / my Companions scarcely able to speak -- too tired even to be glad that the Journey was over / a journey of 40 miles, including the way which we lost. / On Thursday, May the 16th, we saw the Vitriol Manufactory, & the Dome Church at Goslar. The latter is a real Curiosity -- it is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, in Germany. The first thing that strikes you on entering it is a picture of St Christopher wading thro' the River with Jesus Christ (a boy with a globe in his hand) on his Shoulders -- this is universal in all the Churches that I have seen; but noticeable here for the enormous size of the Picture! & for the conceit of putting in the hand of the Giant Saint a fir Tree 'with which the Mast of some tall ammiral Hewn on Norwegian Hills, were but a wand' 1 --! & giving this huge fir Tree a crack in the middle, the face of the holy Giant with a ____________________ 1 Paradise Lost, i. 293-4. -513- horrid Grin of Toil & Effort corresponding with the said Crack in proof of the huge weight of the disguised Deity. - -The next was an Altar of the God Croto[Krodo] -- the only assured antiquity of German Heathenism. On this altar human sacrifices were offered -- it is of metal, brass I believed, with diamond holes all around it, & supported by four grotesque animals. -- Then two stone-baboons with monk's Cowls on them, grinning at each other -- said to have been likewise the work of the said savage Pagans, when the Monks first preached Christianity in Germany / -- Then an altar-piece by the celebrated Lucas Cranach / in which the faces of the Apostles are marvellously ugly, but lively & natural. -- It is an admirable Painting. -- Then tombs & thrones of Emperors & Queens & Princesses (for Goslar was formerly the Seat of the Saxon Emperors of Germany), the hole where the Devil entered, & how he set two Bishops by the Ears & how they fought in this church & how one killed the other -- a huge Crown of Bell-metal 7 strides in Diameter given by the victor Bishop for Penance -- / Alto Relievo of the Monk who had poisoned an Emperor in the Lord's Supper / & the under petticoat of leather which the Devil took from the Woman who rose from her bed at midnight, supposing it to be matin time, entered the church, began praying &c, wondered rather to see the Church so full / when all at once she heard the Clock strike 12, cried aloud, 'God & Christ' -- Rausch rausch rauschl [raus?] -- All nothing but Ghosts -- off flew the woman, but as she ran over the threshold, she tripped, fell down, & ere she could get up again, the Devil had pulled off her petticoat. -- I was much interested by this ruinous old Church -- half Lutheran, half Catholic -- the occasion of which I will explain when I come home. / -- We left this ugly silent old desert of a City, & strolled on thro' hill & dale of Pines, up which the little mists crept like smoke from Cottage chimneys -till we came to Clausthal, a large Town with a number of mines around it, one of which all but myself descended / I had before read a most minute Description of the said Mine; & from the same concluded that I should see nothing new after what I had seen at Stowey / & fr[om Che]ster's account my conclusion was perfectly right. / So I stayed at home & wr[ote tw]o letters to Sara. -- I saw the whole process of Mint[ing] here (for all the [Han]overian Money is here minted) & other little uncu[rious] Curiosities, which I have ever found hideously stupid. -- We were such a hospital of bruised Toes, swelled ancles, bladdered soles, & excoriated Heels, that we stayed in this town till Saturday Morning, May 18th. -- We passed up & down over little Hills thro' a pine-covered Country, still looking down into deep & wild Coombes of Pine & Fir Trees (I scarcely know the difference between Pine & Fir) till we came to -514- Lehrbech, a little village of wood with wooden tiles on the house tops, lying in the bottom of a narrow Coomb, three or four of the Houses scattered upon the Slopes of the Hills, that formed the Coomb. -- The Coomb is rich with the green green Beeches; the Slope of the Hills have Beeches & Firs intermixed; but the heights are wholly the property of the Firs. From here we proceeded to Osterode, a hilly pleasant country, the soil heav'd up & down in hillocks with many a little dell & hollow, & the pine trees picturesquely scattered. Osterode is a large & very ugly town, the people looking dirtier & poorer than is common in Germany -Over the Town Hall is the Rib of a Giant / -- these are common in the inland towns of Germany. They are generally Whales' Ribs -in the dark ages it was of course extremely unusual for any man to leave his plough, as the song says, to go ploughing the wild seas / when any did, they were of course ambitious to bring something curious home, as a present to their Countrymen / & this is no doubt the origin of these Whale ribs. -- From Osterode we proceeded to Catlenburg / Mem. the view of the Amtshouse on a woody Hill, part of the wood cleared / & the space occupied by a fine Garden. From henceforwards the views became quite English, except that in England we have water ever in our views, either sea or lake or river -- & we have elmy hedges -- & single Cottages -- & gentlemen's seats -- & many a house, the dwelling of Knowlege & virtue, between the Cottage & the Gentleman's Seat -- / Our fields & meadows too are so green, that it is comm[on h]ere for novellists & describers to say when they praise a prospect 'It had a British Greenness' -- all this & more is wanting in Germany / but their woods are far finer, & their hills more diversified, & their little villages far more interesting, every House being separate with it's little garden & orchard. This answers to my notion of human nature; which distinguishes itself equally from the Tyger & the Sheep -- & is neither solitary or gregarious, but mighbourly. -- Add to this too, that the extreme misery and the earth & heavenalarming wickedness & profanity of our English Villagers is a thing wholly unknown in Germany / The women too, who are working in the fields, always behave respectfully, modestly, & with courtesy. ---- Well -- I must hasten on to Göttingen / we proceeded -- but I ought to say that in the Church Yard at Catlenberg I was pleased with the following Epitaph.' Johann Reimbold of Catlenburg. Ach! sie haben Ah! they have Einen braven Put a brave Man begraben: Man in Grave! Vielen war er mehr.['] He was more than Many! This is word for word . -515- About a mile & a half from Catlenberg we came to a lovely scene, hillocks, & scattered Oaks, & Beeches, a sweet tho' very small Lake, a green meadow, & one white Cottage, & this spot exactly so filled was completely encircled by the grandest swell of woods, that I ever beheld -- the hills were clothed as with grass / so rich was the verdure. So complete was the circle that I stood & looked around me, in what part the wood opened to admit our road -- We entered the wood, and walked for two miles under a complete Bower, & as we emerged from it -- O I shall never forget that glorious Prospect. Behind me the Hartz Mountains with the snowspots shining on them / close around us Woods upon little Hills, little Hills of an hundred Shapes, a dance of Hills, whose variety of position supplied the effect of, & almost imitated, motion -- two higher than the rest of a conical form were bare & stony; the rest were all hid with Leafage / I cannot say, trees -- / for the Foliage concealed the Boughs that sustained [it.] And all these Hills in all their forms & bearings, which it were such a chaos to describe, were yet in all so pure a Harmony! -- before us green corn-field[s] that fill'd the Plain & crept up the opposite Hills in the far-off distance, and closing our view in the angle at the left that high woody Hill on which stands the Monarch Ruin of the Plesse -- & close by me in a deep dell was a sweet neighbourhood of houses with their Orchards in blossom. -- O wherefore was there no water! -- We were now only 7 miles from Gottingen / -- I shall write one letter more from Germany / & in that letter I will conclude my Tour, with some minuteness, as it will give you at the same time the account of the Country near Gottingen. --/ -- I hope to leave this place in about a fortnight; but Sara must not be uneasy, if I should be home a week later than she expects -- it may be a week earlier --/ but as I pass thro' Brunswick, Wolfenbüttel &c I may perhaps have opportunities of acquiring Information concerning Lessing which it were criminal in me to neglect -- but I pine, languish, & waste away to be at home / for tho' in England only I have those that hate me, yet there only I have those whom I love! -- God bless my Friend! -- S. T. Coleridge -516-