The Pilgrims of the Rhine
Albert Trevylyan, betrothed lovers
Gertrude Vane, betrothed lovers.
Mr. Vane, father of Gertrude.
Preface to Pilgrims of the Rhine.
With the younger class of my readers, this work has had the good fortune to find especial favor; perhaps because it is in itself a collection of the thoughts and sentiments that constitute the Romance of youth. It has little to do with the positive truths of our actual life, and does not pretend to deal with the larger passions and more stirring interests of our kind. It is but an episode out of the graver epic of human destinies. It requires no explanation of its purpose, and no analysis of its story; the one is evident, the other simple — the first seeks but to illustrate visible nature through the poetry of the affections; the other is but the narrative of the most real of mortal sorrows which the Author attempts to take out of the region of pain, by various accessories from the Ideal. The connecting tale itself is but the string that binds into a garland the wild flowers cast upon a grave.
The descriptions of the Rhine have been considered by Germans sufficiently faithful to render this tribute to their land and their legends one of the popular guide-books along the course it illustrates; especially to such tourists as wish not only to take in with the eye the inventory of the river, but to seize the peculiar spirit which invests the wave and the bank with a beauty that can only be made visible by reflexion.
Love of the soul.
Consumption, but consumption in its most beautiful shape, had set its seal upon Gertrude Vane, when Trevylyan first saw her, and at once loved. He knew the danger of the disease; he did not, except at intervals deceive himself; he wrestled against the new passion; but, stern as his nature was, he could not conquer it. He loved, he confessed his love, and Gertrude returned it.
In a love like this there is something ineffably beautiful — it is essentially the poetry of passion. Desire grows hallowed by fear, and, scarce permitted to indulge its vent in the common channel of the senses, breaks forth into those vague yearnings — those holy aspirations, which pine for the Bright, the Far, the Unattained. It is “the desire of the moth for the star” — it is the love of the soul! — Chap. 2.
Fictions of the unseen world.
Is there not a truth also in our fictions of the Unseen World? Are there not yet bright lingerers by the forest and the stream? Do the moon and the soft stars look out on no delicate and winged forms bathing in their light? Are. the fairies and the invisible hosts but the children of our dreams; and not their inspiration? Is that all a delusion which speaks from the golden page? And is the world only given to harsh and anxious travellers, that walk to and fro in pursuit of no gentle shadows? Are the chimeras of the passions the sole spirit of the Universe? No! while my remembrance treasures in its deepest cell the image of one no more, — one who was “not of the earth, earthy,” — one in whom love was the essence of thoughts divine — one whose shape and mould, whose heart and genius, would — had Poesy never before have dreamed it — have called forth the first notions of spirits, resembling mortals but not of them; — no, Gertrude! while I remember you, the faith, the trust in brighter shapes and fairer natures than the world knows of, comes clinging to my heart; and still will I think that Fairies might have watched over your sleep, and Spirits have ministered to your dreams. — Chap. 2.
As leaves left darkling in the flush of day,
When glints the glad sun checkering o’er the tree
I see the green earth brightening in the ray,
Which only casts a shadow upon me!
What are the beams, the flowers, the glory, all
Life’s glow and gloss — the music and the bloom,
When every sun but speeds the Eternal Pall,
And time is Death that dallies with the Tomb?
And yet — oh yet, so young, so pure! — the while
Fresh laugh the rose-hues round youth’s morning sky,
That voice — those eyes — the deep love of that smile,
Are they not soul — all soul — and can they die?
Are there the words, “No More” for thoughts like ours?
Must the bark sink upon so soft a wave?
Hath the short summer of thy life no flowers
But those which bloom above thine early grave?
О God! and what is life, that I should live
(Hath not the world enow of common clay?)
And she — the Rose — whose life a soul could give
To the void desert, sigh its sweets away?
And I that love thee thus, to whom the air,
Blest by thy breath, makes heaven where’er it be,
Watch thy cheek wane, and smile away despair—
Lest it should dim one hour yet left to thee.
Still let me conquer self, — oh, still conceal
By the smooth brow the snake that coils below;
Break, break my heart, it comforts yet to feel
That she dreams on, unwaken’d by my woe!
Hush’d, where the Star’s soft angel loves to keep
Watch o’er their tide, the mourning waters roll;
So glides my spirit — darkness in the deep,
But o’er the wave the presence of thy soul!
Love at first meeting.
There is such a thing as love at the first meeting — a secret, an unaccountable affinity between persons (strangers before), which draws them irresistibly together. As if there were truth in Plato’s beautiful phantasy, that our souls were a portion of the stars, and that spirits, thus attracted to each other, have drawn their original light from the same orb, and yearn for a renewal of their former union. — Chap. 4.
Exclusion of the world.
Perhaps after we have seen the actual world, and experienced its hollow pleasures, we can resign ourselves the better to its exclusion; and as the cloister, which repels the ardor of our hope, is sweet to our remembrance, so the darkness loses its terror when experience has wearied us with the glare and travail of the day. — Chap. 4.
Life has always action.
Life has always action; it is our own fault if it ever be dull: youth has its enterprise, manhood its schemes; and even if infirmity creep upon age, the mind, the mind still triumphs over the mortal clay, and in the quiet hermitage, among books, and from thoughts, keeps the great wheel within everlastingly in motion. No, the better class of spirits have always an antidote to the insipidity of a common career, they have ever energy at will. — Chap. 5.
Consolations of virtuous action.
The same consolation awaits us in action as in repose. We sedulously pursue what we deem to be true glory. We are maligned: but our soul acquits us. Could it do more in the scandal and the prejudice that assail us in private life? You are silent; but note how much deeper should be the comfort, how much loftier the self-esteem; for if calumny attack us in a wilful obscurity, what have we done to refute the calumny? How have we served our species? Have we “scorned delights, and lived laborious days?” Have we made the utmost of the “talent” confided to our care? Have we done those deeds to our race upon which we can retire, — an “Estate of Beneficence,”— from the malice of the world, and feel that our deeds are our defenders? This is the consolation of virtuous actions; is it so of — even a virtuous — indolence? — Chap. 5.
Consciousness of endeavor.
“If the consciousness of perpetual endeavor to advance our race be not alone happier than the life of ease, let us see what this vaunted ease really is. Tell me, is it not another name for ennui? This state of quiescence, this objectless, dreamless torpor, this transition du lit a la table, de la table au lit; what more dreary and monotonous existence can you devise? Is it pleasure in this inglorious existence to think that you are serving pleasure? Is it freedom to be the slave to self? For I hold,” continued Trevylyan, “that this jargon of ‘consulting happiness,' this cant of living for ourselves, is but a mean, as well as a false philosophy. Why this eternal reference to self? Is self alone to be consulted? Is even our happiness, did it truly consist in repose, really the great end of life? I doubt if we cannot ascend higher. I doubt if we cannot say with a great moralist, ‘If virtue be not estimable in itself, we can see nothing estimable in following it for the sake of a bargain.' But, in fact repose is the poorest of all delusions; the very act of recurring to self, brings about us all those ills of self from which, in the turmoil of the world, we can escape. We become hypochondriacs. Our very health grows an object of painful possession. We are so desirous to be well (for what is retirement without health?), that we are ever fancying ourselves ill; and, like the man in the Spectator, we weigh ourselves daily, and live by grains and scruples. Retirement is happy only for the poet, for to him it is not retirement. He secedes from one world but to gain another, and he finds not ennui in seclusion: why — not because seclusion hath repose, but because it hath occupation. In one word, then, I say of action and of indolence, grant the same ills to both, and to action there is the readier escape or the nobler consolation.”—Chap. 5.
A journey pleasant.
“How little it requires to make a journey pleasant, when the companions are our friends! ” said Gertrude, as they sailed along. “Nothing can be duller than these banks; nothing more delightful than this voyage.”
“Yet what tries the affections of people for each other so severely as a journey together?” said Vane. “That perpetual companionship from which there is no escaping; that confinement, in all our moments of ill-humor and listlessness, with persons who want us to look amused. — Ah, it is a severe ordeal for friendship to pass through! A post-chaise must have jolted many an intimacy to death.”—Chap. 6.
The cell and the convent.
Alas! the cell and the convent are but a vain emblem of that desire to fly to God which belongs to Distress; the solitude soothes, but the monotony recalls, regret. And for my own part, in my frequent tours through Catholic countries, I never saw the still walls in which monastic vanity hoped to shut out the world, but a melancholy came over me! What hearts at war with themselves! — what unceasing regrets! — what pinings after the past! — what long and beautiful years devoted to a moral grave, by a momentary rashness — an impulse — a disappointment! But in these churches the lesson is more impressive and less sad. The weary heart has ceased to ache — the burning pulses are still — the troubled spirit has flown to the only rest which is not a deceit. Power and love — hope and fear — avarice — ambition, they are quenched at last! Death is the only monastery — the tomb is the only cell. — Chap. 7.
Looking back to life of one loved.
In looking back to the life of one we have loved, how dear is the thought that the latter days were the days of light, that the cloud never chilled the beauty of the setting sun, and that if the years of existence were brief, all that existence has most tender, most sacred, was crowded into that space! Nothing dark, then, or bitter, rests with our remembrance of the lost, we are the mourners, but pity is not for the mourned — our grief is purely selfish; when we turn to its object, the hues of happiness are round it, and that very love which is the parent of our woe was the consolation, the triumph, of the departed! — Chap. 7.
The fairy’s reproach.
By the glow-worm’s lamp in the dewy brake;
By the gossamer’s airy net;
By the shifting skin of the faithless snake;
Oh, teach me to forget:
For none, ah none,
Can teach so well that human spell
As Thou, false one!
By the fairy dance on the greensward smooth;
By the winds of the gentle west;
By the loving stars, when their soft looks soothe
The waves on their mother’s breast;
Teach me thy lore!
By which, like withered flowers,
The leaves of buried Hours
Blossom no more.
By the tent in the violet’s bell;
By the May on the scented bough,
By the- lone green isle where my sisters dwell;
And thine own forgotten vow;
Teach me to live,
Nor feed on thoughts that pine
For love so false as thine!
Teach me thy lore,
And one thou lov’st no more
Will bless thee and forgive!
Dearest prerogative of genius.
If genius has one prerogative dearer than the rest, it is that which enables it to do honor to the dead — to revive the beauty, the virtue that are no more; to wreathe chaplets that outlive the day round the urn which were else forgotten by the world!
When the poet mourns, in his immortal verse, for the dead, tell me not that fame is in his mind! it is filled by thoughts, by emotions that shut out the living. He is breathing to his genius — to that sole and constant friend, which has grown up with him from his cradle — the sorrows too delicate for human sympathy; and when afterwards he consigns the confession to the crowd, it is indeed from the hope of honor, — honor not for himself, but for the being that is no more. — Chap. 16.
Two lives to each of us.
There are two lives to each of us, gliding on at the same time, scarcely connected with each other! — the life of our actions, the life of our minds; the external and the inward history; the movements of the frame, the deep and ever-restless workings of the heart! They who have loved know that there is a diary of the affections, which we might keep for years without having occasion even to touch upon the exterior surface of life, Our busy occupations — the mechanical progress of our existence; yet by the last we are judged, the first is never known. History reveals men’s deeds, men's outward characters, but not themselves. There is a secret self that hath its own life “rounded by a dream,” unpenetrated, unguessed. — Chap. 22.
Action a Lethe.
Action is that Lethe in which alone we forget our former dreams, and the mind that, too stern not to wrestle with its emotions, seeks to conquer regret, must leave itself no leisure to look behind. Who knows what benefits to the world may have sprung from the sorrows of the benefactor? As the harvest that gladdens mankind in the suns of autumn was called forth by the rains of spring, so the griefs of youth may make the fame of maturity. — Chap. 22.
“And why,” said the beautiful Shape, with a voice soft as the last sighs of a dying babe; “why trouble ye the air with spells? mine is the hour and the empire, and the storm is the creature of my power. Far yonder to the west it sweeps over the sea, and the ship ceases to vex the waves; it smites the forest, and the destined tree, torn from its roots, feels the winter strip the gladness from its boughs no more! The roar of the elements is the herald of eternal stillness to their victims; and they who hear the progress of my power idly shudder at the coming of peace. And thou, О tender daughter of the fairy kings! why grievest thou at a mortal’s doom? Knowest thou not that sorrow cometh with years, and that to live is to mourn? Blessed is the flower that, nipped in its early spring, feels not the blast that one by one scatters its blossoms around it, and leaves but the barren stem. Blessed are the young whom I clasp to my breast, and lull into the sleep which the storm cannot break, nor the morrow arouse to sorrow or to toil. The heart that is stilled in the bloom of its first emotions, — that turns with its last throb to the eye of love, as yet unlearned in the possibility of change, — has exhausted already the wine of life, and is saved only from the lees. As the mother soothes to sleep the wail of her troubled child, I open my arms to the vexed spirit, and my bosom cradles the unquiet to repose!” — Chap. 26.
The feet of years.
The feet of years fall noiseless; we heed, we note them not, till tracking the same course we passed long since, we are startled to find how deep the impression they leave behind. To revisit the scenes of our youth is to commune with the ghost of ourselves. — Chap. 26.
Convulsions of nature.
In the convulsions of Nature we forget our own separate existence, our schemes, our projects, our fears; our dreams vanish back into their cells. One passion only the storm quells not, and the presence of Love mingles with the voice of the fiercest storms as with the whispers of the southern wind. — Chap. 26.
Units in the sum of human existence.
In the immense sum of human existence, what is a single unit? Every sod on which we tread is the grave of some former being: yet is there something that softens without enervating the heart in tracing in the life of another those emotions that all of us have known ourselves. For who is there that has not, in his progress through life, felt all its ordinary business arrested, and the varieties of fate commuted into one chronicle of the affections? Who has not watched over the passing away of some being, more to him, at that epoch, than all the world? And this unit, so trivial to the calculation of others, of what inestimable value was it not to him? Retracing in another such recollections, shadowed and mellowed down by time, we feel the wonderful sanctity of human life, we feel what emotions a single being can wake: what a world of hope may be buried in a single grave. And thus we keep alive within ourselves the soft springs of that morality which unites us with our kind, and sheds over the harsh scenes and turbulent contests of earth the coloring of a common love. — Chap. 28.
The graves of the past.
The seasons, like ourselves, track their course, by something of beauty, or of glory, that is left behind. As the traveller in the land of Palestine sees tomb after tomb rise before him, the landmarks of his way, and the only signs of the holiness of the soil; thus Memory wanders over the most sacred spots in its various world, and traces them but by the graves of the Past. — Chap. 28.
Life only a part of our career.
Let us forget that we are mortal; let us remember only that life is a part, not the whole of our career; let us feel in this soft hour, and while yet we are unsevered, the presence of The Eternal that is within us, so that it shall not be as death, but as a short absence; and when once the pang of parting is over, you must think only that we are shortly to meet again. — Last Chapter.
Table of Contents:
ADVERTISEMENT TO THE FIRST EDITION.
THE IDEAL WORLD
THE PILGRIMS OF THE RHINE
CHAPTER I. IN WHICH THE READER IS INTRODUCED TO QUEEN NYMPHALIN
CHAPTER II. THE LOVERS
CHAPTER III. FEELINGS
CHAPTER IV. THE MAID OF MALINES
CHAPTER V. ROTTERDAM.—THE CHARACTER OF THE DUTCH
CHAPTER VI. GORCUM.—THE TOUR OF THE VIRTUES: A PHILOSOPHER’S TALE
CHAPTER VII. COLOGNE.—THE TRACES OF THE ROMAN YOKE
CHAPTER VIII. THE SOUL IN PURGATORY; OR LOVE STRONGER THAN DEATH
CHAPTER IX. THE SCENERY OF THE RHINE ANALOGOUS TO THE GERMAN LITERARY
CHAPTER X. THE LEGEND OF ROLAND.—THE ADVENTURES OF NYMPHALIN
CHAPTER XI. WHEREIN THE READER IS MADE SPECTATOR WITH THE ENGLISH
CHAPTER XII. THE WOOING OF MASTER FOX
CHAPTER XIII. THE TOMB OF A FATHER OF MANY CHILDREN
CHAPTER XIV. THE FAIRY’S CAVE, AND THE FAIRY’S WISH
CHAPTER XV. THE BANKS OF THE RHINE.—FROM THE DRACHENFELS TO BROHL
CHAPTER XVI. GERTRUDE.—THE EXCURSION TO HAMMERSTEIN
CHAPTER XVII. LETTER FROM TREVYLYAN
CHAPTER XVIII. COBLENTZ.—EXCURSION TO THE MOUNTAINS OF TAUNUS
CHAPTER XIX. THE FALLEN STAR; OR THE HISTORY OF A FALSE RELIGION
CHAPTER XX. GLENHAUSEN.—THE POWER OF LOVE IN SANCTIFIED PLACES
CHAPTER XXI. VIEW OF EHRENBREITSTEIN.—A NEW ALARM
CHAPTER XXII. THE DOUBLE LIFE.—TREVYLYAN’S FATE
CHAPTER XXIII. THE LIFE OF DREAMS
CHAPTER XXIV. THE BROTHERS
CHAPTER XXV. THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL.—A COMMON INCIDENT
CHAPTER XXVI. IN WHICH THE READER WILL LEARN HOW THE FAIRIES
CHAPTER XXVII. THURMBERG.—A STORM UPON THE RHINE
CHAPTER XXVIII. THE VOYAGE TO BINGEN.—THE SIMPLE INCIDENTS
CHAPTER XXIX. ELLFELD.—MAYENCE.—HEIDELBERG.—A CONVERSATION BETWEEN
CHAPTER XXX. NO PART OF THE EARTH REALLY SOLITARY.—THE SONG
CHAPTER XXXI. GERTRUDE AND TREVYLYAN, WHEN THE FORMER IS AWAKENED
CHAPTER XXXII. A SPOT TO BE BURIED IN
CHAPTER THE LAST. THE CONCLUSION OF THIS TALE