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Legends of the Rhine   By: (1869-1927)

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"O, the pride of the German heart is this noble river! And right it is; for of all the rivers of this beautiful earth there is none so beautiful as this."


Prefatory Note.

Last year I made the journey between Mainz and Bonn on one of our splendid Rhine steamers. Our vessel glided along like a great water bird. On the shore rose mountains, castles, and ruins, and over all the sun shined brightly from a blue August sky. It was twelve years since I had visited the scenes of my youth, and every Rhinelander will understand with what pleasure I saw again those smiling landscapes arrayed in their summer beauty. Wandering back to my deck chair, I soon became absorbed in the ever changing panorama.

Then the sound of a melodious female voice speaking English fell on my ears. I looked around. A girl was bending over a book, and entertaining her father and mother by reading something of special interest and beauty. I listened and recognised some of my own sentences rendered into the speech of Shakespeare. These three were learning to feel the charms of the Lorelei legend as I had felt it. I confess my pulse beat quicker as I heard my poor endeavours highly praised, and I could not refrain from advancing and thanking the young reader for her kindly appreciation of my endeavours. She seemed delighted when she discovered that I was the author, and rose to greet me in the most amiable manner. I complimented the travellers that during the past century the Rhine had become the home of romance for the English speaking nations, the same as Italy for the Germans. The girl smiled, and remarked that I must pay that compliment to her mother in particular, as she was by birth an Englishwoman. But the head of the family hastened to add that among Americans, whom he might speak for, the enthusiasm for the beauties of the Rhine was not less than among their Anglo Saxon cousins. These two nations which are bound by so many ties to each other, and also to ourselves, were thus represented before me. The English speaking people undoubtedly form by far the largest contingent of our Rhine travellers, and it was pleasant indeed to receive so fine a testimonial to the beauties of my birth place.

We had a most interesting conversation, and I was not a little moved, as I observed that these foreigners who had travelled over half the world, and had seen the grandeur of Switzerland and the charms of Italy, should have such an unaffected admiration for our grand old river. I am rather sorry for those who neglect the Rhine. "Aren't Lohengrin and Siegfried, immortalised by the great Master of Bayreuth, also heroic figures in your Rhine legends?" remarked the young Anglo American enthusiastically. It was the first time I had seriously thought of this. I was indeed touched, and my thoughts travelled back to the days of "long, long ago" when as a little chap in my native Bonn, I had first listened with interest to the charming voices of the golden haired daughters of old Albion who came in large numbers to reside in the famous Beethoven town.

As I separated from my friends at the foot of the Drachenfels I gave them a small present to keep as a memento of the Rhine and one of its poets.

München, Mai 1906. Dr. Wilhelm Ruland.


=St. Gotthard.= The Petrified Alp 7

=Thusis on the Hinter Rhine.= The Last Hohenrätier 10

=Bodensee.= The Island of Mainau 13

=Basle.= One Hour in Advance 18

=Castle Niedeck... Continue reading book >>

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