CELT document T830003-001

Magdalena von Dobeneck's Letters from Ireland to Paul Johann Anselm von Feuerbach

Magdalena von Dobeneck née Feuerbach

Briefe aus Irland

Letters from Ireland



A few hours ago, it was just 11 o'clock, my Lady and I played a duet, she was playing the harp and I the piano. Then she suddenly gets up, walks into the adjoining room — I hear her speaking aloud — she steps in with the words: “I must just tell you, my dear, that we will be travelling to Ireland together in eight days.” I was speechless with amazement. In eight days? To Ireland? Now I am learning, like a child learns her lesson. — The English decide to travel more spontaneously than we Germans do. They consult neither map, nor calendar, nor weather, nor their purse. The book Sophiens Reise von Memel nach Sachsen1 was astonishing in its day. Whereas Peter from Germany would turn back at the crossroads, the English travel enthusiast will drive straight into the crater and into the Rhine Falls. — From now on, your thoughts and letters must take a long journey — just do not get tired, dearest father! The house, or rather castle we will occupy is said to be near the town of Dungannon,  p.30 high up north, only twelve miles from the sea. 2 It will probably be impossible for me to write to you before my departure, and so allow me to kiss you before I float on the sea, just as I embrace my dear mother, brothers and sisters in heartfelt love. I wish a little boat could take me to you rather than far away! But why desire the impossible?
“If fate carries you, you will carry destiny again.”
“Follow it willingly and gladly; though you will not, you must.”


Dungannon, 1 May.

After a fortnight's trip, we finally arrived at Dungannon Castle on 28 April. I was tired of the nomadic life, and longing for peace and quiet. It is true that after all the sights and matters of interest, home is still the dearest thing of all. But every place where I have to live will become my home, since I will have to do without my true home for now. On 12 April I took leave of my friends in Paris, and, remembering the raging cholera, I did not part with them without wistfulness. Recently I joined the company of a very amiable  p.31 Parisian lady, Mlle. Jenny V.... attaching myself closely to her, and besides, I experienced so much kindness among noble people. So it happens, of course, that you only really appreciate something good when you are about to lose it.

On Friday the 13th, four swift horses carried us away. Lord and Lady D. sat on the so-called “siège” (box seat) to enjoy the open air, and my lovely Miss Emily and the chambermaid were sitting next to me in the coach. The servant, a former courier of Charles X., now flew ahead of our coach. My neighbour did not fail to quickly tell me her concerns about the trip. What an unfortunate day had been chosen for departure! she exclaimed with French excitement — it was Friday, and the 13th to boot. Of course I tried to dissuade her of such worries, but quite frankly, secretly I was not exactly a free spirit. We had barely covered ten miles, when the horror started: We found the courier plunged into a ditch, while his horse, which had thrown him off, stood next to him pensively. The poor man was taken to the nearest small town in Picardy where he was assumed to be a cholera sufferer, and at first rejected, but eventually he was cured, being a cholera patient. — We had to leave him behind and continue our journey to Calais. On the first night we stayed in Rennes, the second in Calais. The next morning we had very small crabs for breakfast; I went for them, taking my spoon and gobbling up  p.32 half a dozen at once. But that dish was not really to my taste. I made a sour face and was about to swallow an entire company again, when Lord and Lady D. exclaimed, laughing out loud: “Stop! Stop! Only the tails are eaten!” And now the novice sailor had to complete an anatomy course. At nine o'clock we went to the port to embark there. The sight of so many ships, their delicate yet majestic construction, next to the masses of smoking steamers, speeding off to all regions of the globe, opened up a new world to me. I stayed on deck to make sure that I would not miss this spectacle for a single moment. As long as I still saw a little strip of land to my right and left, everything went well. But as soon as I was on the open sea, and my body could not but sense the mechanical movement of the waves, I felt miserable. Cold sweat ran down from my face, and I shivered. Noticing this, the captain wrapped me up in a sailor's cloak. There I sat, the saddest figure in the world, complaining about the poetic fever, because I had to swap it for a quite real one. At half past twelve we approached the English coast. The sight of the grey masses of rock had a reconciling effect on me; I jumped up wide awake, and infused with enthusiasm. We came closer — on the right hand side an image from prehistoric times is seen on the rigid rock, solemn and majestic, the fortress (Dover Castle), and beside it there is a friendly country side, green mountains, the city lying in a semicircle and, then the multitude of  p.33 ships sailing off in all directions, and there are barges swaying on the waves. We disembarked. Many people were gathered on the shore to gape at the new arrivals from the Crusader i.e. the packet steamer. I will never forget the impressions of the first English city I saw. The houses are built of small bricks, and because of soot and time almost dark brown in colour; they have broad windows with small panes of mirror glass, the roofs are of slate and almost smooth, and the high chimneys give each house a castle-like appearance. Here you do not see portes cochères (coach gates, or carriage porches) as in France; the houses have narrow doors, and in Dover there is always a delightful little garden as in the small towns; however in London, Dublin, Liverpool, instead of gardens there is a kind of barricade on both sides, made of iron bars. — In Dover we stayed for a few days with Lady R..., the great-grandmother of my beloved Emily; she was very kind to me, and I loved that noble lady dearly. We went to some shops, because she gave me a painting kit containing the finest colours and papers, and taught me a style of oriental painting. How merry I was in Dover! My room had a sea view — sitting on my desk I revelled in the ships, which sometimes sailed closer, and sometimes further away. My greatest joy was to breathe the delicious air close by the sea; I was often overjoyed and cried out with delight when the waves at first sent their enormous arms over tentatively, becoming stronger and stronger, and eventually sank back again. Often I ventured so close that I could easily have been carried away, while white  p.34 foam covered my feet. But what I would not have endured for the sea's sake! The prosaic fever had long since been forgotten, and now I was happier than a child. Assiduously I picked up the multicoloured little stones with Emily as if they were diamonds. On Monday we went for a carriage ride in the vicinity. From the high rock of the fortress, I took in the lovely sea, the coast, and Dover with one glance.

I can only write to you intermittently, dear father, because my professional duty takes up most of the day. Yesterday I left you in Dover, and today I must ask you to accompany me to London. I hated to part with the gracious old lady. Old age is always venerable to me, especially when the heart and spirit still breathe life's freshness. On Wednesday we departed and passed through Rochester and several cities, where I often observed the beautiful churches with longing being unable to view their treasures. In the evening, of 17 April3 we arrived in London. We drove and drove through endless suburbs, and when I asked: “Is this London yet?” the only answer was: “We are still in the suburbs:” — ... huge plains with a dozen Nurembergs, and not yet London? My head was dizzy. Paris seemed to me, as a quasi-Parisian, just like a rather large city, and the hustle and bustle on its streets like child's play compared to the London suburbs. What a  p.35 flood of pedestrians and horsemen! What a deafening rattle of diligences and equipages! You can imagine Paris, but London? — Finally, we stopped in front of barriers — and there were suburbs yet again. Then one crosses the big London Bridge, and the Thames. On the left, through clouds of fog, I can spot the towers of St. Paul's Church and others — we drive through endless streets that are so wide that the footpaths alone could have made wide Karl Streets in Ansbach on both sides, and despite all the hustle and bustle, how clean the streets are! That seemed to me the only advantage over Paris, because what good are palaces and beautiful streets to me, when stinking fog and dark air envelop my soul in melancholy to such an extent that admiration cannot reach it? Yes, the sun in England is squinting. Only then did I realized how fond I had grown of Paris and the harmless, cheerful life on the boulevards! Here, most everyone seems to sneak by brooding, and weary of life; everyone seems to be absorbed in himself, mulling over a difficult example of accounting. But is this opinion not too hasty? That was the first impression of London, but the lovely people around me have long since made me forget it. I will certainly make friends with England yet. And if you should ask me, my dear ones: “Well, what strange things did you see in London (according to Pitt: the emporium of the world)?” I will answer: “Endless streets, magnificent palaces, squares (large lawns in the middle of the city), St James' Palace, which has a striking similarity to a fortress full of bondsmen,  p.36 very beautiful magazines,...” and then Lady, Miss Emily and I went to visit the high relatives. Since on that day the wind was blowing the coal smoke from the chimneys down into the streets more than ever, I came home with a sooty speck on my face — et voilà les souvenirs de Londres! Do you want to know what a London House of the High Nobility looks like? All right, then! At the entrance a powdered porter is sitting comfortably, all the servants are powdered, and in livery; you ascend the wide stone staircase covered with carpets; at first there is a beautiful anteroom, adjacent the Lady's parlour proper that may be the size of your casino hall in Ansbach. At the lower end there are two sofas, two at the upper end, and two sofas again in the middle, with a round or square table in front of each of them. On this table embroideries are arranged, on another copper engravings, here books, and there floral paintings; the walls are decorated with paintings, alcoves with busts from the workshops of Italy; in that corner there is a small orangery, porcelain vases, candelabras and so on. Tidy disorder and uncomfortable comfort rule here.

I quietly spent Good Friday in London, glad that due to the holiday we did not make visits. In the evening I dined with my lord R..., the father in law of the young lady. This gracious old man often reminds me of our friend Tiedge, who despite his years seems ageless. My Lord said, probably because I spoke a little English, that I was already quite “like an English Lady” and he was not quite  p.37 wrong, since as far as the whispering twitter sound of this angelic language is concerned, I have already mastered it. Yes, even when pronouncing the article 'the', this veritable cliff of danger, my tongue is already beginning to develop the necessary momentum. At the table I now know how to use “no, thank you!” (Nein, ich danke Ihnen!) and “yes, thank you!” (Ja, ich danke!). Poor me! Whenever Lord D. offered me a piece of bloody mutton roast (I could not stand it), I plainly said, by way of declining “thank you!” But according to English custom this means “yes!” and so he keeps offering me one piece after another, until finally, noticing the error, I add another “no” to my thanks, as convention requires. Only now I was released from being chased by the bloody mutton. In Paris I did not fare any better. When Mary came in the morning to fill the fireplace with stone coal, she asked me in English if the fire was all right with me. But because I did not understand her, I said no where I should have said yes. In consequence, when I pined away with heat, she stoked more and more, and when I was freezing, she even extinguished the coals. —

Before I leave London, I must describe to you an English dinner, dear father, so that if ever you have to entertain a lord, you know how and when to do so. Dinner time is usually seven in the evening. Seven o'clock? I hear you exclaiming. But slowly! It all comes down to seeing things clearly. You have supper at 8 o'clock,  p.38 don't you? All right, then! the Englishman has his “Souper” at one o'clock, and renames it, calling it luncheon, and then he has your “Diner” (his “Dinner”) again and has it instead of one o'clock at the hour of your “Souper”. This is where the great secret lies. The dishes are served with beautiful silver lids at the table, the Lord carves and serves himself: there is hearty soup, followed by fish, cutlets, cauliflower (the sauce is served separately), then leg of beef or mutton, floating in blood, spicy mustard, chicken; but never salad, because it could be detrimental to the ladies' red cheeks. I must not forget the pudding, which is often nothing more than a mush. Next, the Indian-yellow cheddar cheese deserves to be mentioned, and quite a few pepper cans. And ale or porter flows into the glasses, and there is plenty of Madeira wine. I am partial to a glass of ale; this is not the juice of the mountains, not your poor “beer electuary”, no, it is something much nobler! After dinner, everyone throws himself on a sofa of which there is no lack, dozing or sleeping in peace and quiet. Here and there I even see a blond Brit lying on rugs at the feet of a beautiful lady. This custom seemed a little foreign to me, and I asked the witty Lady S.... whether these digestive parties were imported to England from Spain or where else they originated. “Let me know,” I said, “I am writing a diary — everything will be noted down.” “My God!” she exclaimed. “Well! Just do not do it like the author of the Briefe eines Verstorbenen, [i.e. Prince Pückler-Muskau's Tour in England, Ireland, and France, in the years 1826, 1827, 1828, and 1829, London 1832.]  p.39 who had enjoyed our hospitality, only to ridicule us in his writings afterwards.” I reassured her that as a lady I considered it my duty to restrain my moods, without being a member of a temperance society.

We left London on Saturday 21 April. The palaces along Regent's Park look beautiful and are kept in noble style, and I was not entirely satisfied that the horses flew along like mad. Imagine that within three hours we covered two and thirty miles. Instead of our cumbersome German stage-coachmen, little jockeys jump quickly onto the horses which are waiting at each stage. They are lightly and tightly dressed, adorned with a scarlet red jacket and red cap. At one stage we were denied the horses because they were all already engaged to chase after a lady kidnapped by an English knight. The horses are lightly harnessed, just like on equipages. I can only compare this daring, flying type of travel with the seven-league boots of our fairy tales. We spent the night in Dunstable, the next in Lichfield and on Monday in Warrington. I found the whole journey through England charming and peculiar. There were hills with lush greenery, emerald meadows where fine flocks graze, and all the trees I saw covered in broad ivy leaves from the trunk to the smallest twigs. The smallest and largest houses in the villages are richly and picturesquely covered in ivy. The clear windows are shining between the dark green and behind them you can see  p.40 fresh and sweet faces. But despite all this, England's regions have a strikingly sombre character; there is a lack of air and sun. Grey skies, reddish-brown houses, dark ivy green and nothing but darkness and shadows do not make a cheerful painting. And that is why it is good that the Englishman, instead of the shine of the sun, has at least that of gold.

On Tuesday we dined in Liverpool, a handsome city. The air was foggy due the smoke billowing from the many factories — I could see nothing. At half past three, we drove to the harbour. The large number of ships, far more than in the port of Calais, astonished me again. We sped along in a beautiful steamer towards Ireland. I really liked the towering lighthouse, against which the impetuous waves broke in vain, considering it could provide help and comfort. On the left hand side you could see many pointed rocks, showing dangerous places. The Irish Sea is among the most dangerous, and insidious enough — ships often run ashore here. I chatted and played merrily with Emily on deck, and did not want to know about seasickness. I did what I did in childhood: whenever I was in a dark room, and fear of ghosts came creeping over me, I began to sing loudly as if I were the greatest heroine. — The sun was going down blood-red in the sea. Behind me, towards Liverpool, the sky was blackened by smoke and fog — on the right the open sea, on the left the view of shores with settlements, mountains, castles, towns and villages. —  p.41 At eight o'clock I crawled into the cabin. Aw! How awful I felt! I jumped from the bed to the sofa, from there into bed. I sighed, I moaned, and was so weary of life I would have loved to give over my soul. I am sure Columbus did not greet terra firma as joyfully as I the greeted the port of Kingstown. We arrived in Dublin at eight o'clock in the morning and stayed until Friday. And that is where I want to stop now, and even the desire to chat even longer to you cannot take me one step further. The clock is striking eleven. Too great is the need I feel to recover from my heroic deeds by sleeping. I cannot think any more, and write even less. Twice the pen has fallen out of my hand. A learned ink blob adorns the rosy face of my English stationery like a beauty spot — a second one is threatening to gather in my stumbling pen. If you could see me, you would have compassion, and would cry out: bon soir, dormez bien!


2 June.

Dublin is built quite in the style of London, and the impressions it conveyed to me were the same as there; except for the hearses I saw rolling by incessantly, because the cholera is no gentler here than in Paris. I remembered the farmer who cried out in front of the city gate of Paris, calling out after our carriage: “Just keep running from the cholera, it will catch up with you!” We departed once again on a  p.42 Friday, now heading for the castle through the Irish realm of mourning. We spent the night in Newry. Despite the hurried journey, I was surprised to see dinner always served at the same hour and in the same style as at home. The ale was not wanting either. I remembered the only beer drinker this time: Jean Paul. A simple Bayreuth beer was enough to inspire him to aptly imitate the humour of the English; but how much darker and deeper his works would be for the sentimental world had he transplanted his poetry onto English soil, to an ale-well. — Anyway, dear father, I cannot but laugh heartily, as often as I remember certain German spinsters, shamefully concealing their faces when reading Jean Paul's humorous passages, while during emotional and bombastic phrases they are moved to tears, offering him a laurel wreath, and almost dissolving into ether. Their favourite ambrosian nourishment is, for example, the following passage from “Titan”: “The fair spring-breezes of her ended love she let breathe again, but in a higher region; they were now thin, mild, ethereal zephyrs, breaths of flowers. Her tears flowed out as sweetly as sighs, as evening dew out of evening redness. — As one sinks, blissfully cradled, in joyous dreams, so she floated, long borne up, drawn slowly onward, with buoyant fleshly-garment, on the flood of death.” 4

In my opinion Jean Paul is true when he is funny, and I like him like that; but his sentimental outpourings seem to me like the aftermath of a so-called  p.43 hangover, like the froth from an open bottle of champagne. But humour is a fiery wine. I leave all his sweet sensations-stuff to him and to that delicate virgin choir. Many are even rumoured to have once paid so much homage to their master Jean Paul that they cut hairs off from the poet's spitz, his envied companion dog, to wear them around their necks, enclosed in a locket. — There is a disease known as bone softening, and I would also call sentimentalism a soul-softening, marrow-consuming disease. — You have proven abundantly, dear father, that even great criminals have emerged from the school of sensibility (the sister of the lie) in your work on criminal cases, Criminalfälle5 And likewise ... Just now my Emily comes in singing, the dear child, holding a stick in her hand, which she pretends to have turned into Tamino's magic flute. The sounds she elicits are not magical — dear me! I'm dizzy! I cannot even think of writing any more now — she wraps her little arm around me and kisses me on the forehead.

Goodbye! My next hour of rest and leisure will be yours.

On 28 April we arrived in Dungannon. What a difference between England and Ireland! What miserable huts! They are built of earth, the smoke escapes from the thatched roof — or rarely a small window —  p.44 and instead of a door, there is a small opening, and here humans and animals live together. These are the huts of brute savages. Many men, dressed in brown tailcoats, laboriously helped pull the plough, having flattened faces, misshapen mouths and lips, red, shaggy hair and bared teeth — but there is a young man, and here is a circle of women, such noble, wild figures! — Nature is full of contrasts, too. Here a rich manor with proud avenues, there a stony infield, which yields only potatoes, and with difficulty. — The castle of Dungannon is situated in the middle of a park replete with the most beautiful designs. Where have I ever seen more beautiful trees? The eye loves to linger on the gently rolling mountains and refreshes itself again gazing over the brilliantly green meadows, and groves of ivy. The large lake is surrounded by solemn broad oaks and white poplars; slender birches and weeping willows sway their branches and bow down to the damp ground. I go on through the dense dark grove, every now and then picking a plant yet unknown to me. The light of the already passing day is shining through the branches — I am alone — the magic tales from prehistory and Erin's bards pass by, and like the sounds of softly fading harps, the evening breeze touches the tree-tops; they seem more gigantic to me and more densely they enclose me — Away! Away into the open! Along the hill, on a narrow path, I see a shepherd boy driving his flock home; he approaches, salutes me  p.45 and I him, and I walk along with him, asking him many things, such as: “What do you do at home? Can you read, and what do you read?” “The Bible!” the boy said seriously and smiled, giving the trailing wether a rough slap on the back, saluted once more, and disappeared sideways in the bushes, while I hurried back through the tunnel (it is a passage leading through a hill) across the large meadow to the castle. The appearance of the shepherd boy, his answer, so fraught with meaning, is quite the opposite of the whirlpool surrounding me now; but so much the deeper is the impression I got; I envy his lot, oh! and feel how a yearning never to be satisfied consumes the essence of life! —

Yesterday I received a letter from Paris, and immediately recognized the stumbling handwriting of Maestro Gomis, who reports to me that his latest opera, composed for the great opera in Paris, is to be performed on the first of January. 6 Since he trusted me with his ideas about his opera, I am looking forward to the creation of this brilliant work with love and great interest, as I, being his student, ought to. — In my view, a composer ranks higher than a merely executing artist. All too often the latter is nothing more than the instrument of an instrument. His soul is either in his fingers or in his throat. Somebody else is the creator, and so he remains a material clod of earth. But the melody originates in the composer's soul, and his thinking mind creates eternal harmonies. —  p.46 With no small fright I notice my talkativeness, and yet my litany is not yet finished. Gomis writes to me in his very own laconic manner: “I thought I was going to surprise you on your return, but since I like to do so quickly, I am warning you that I have just published a Spanish song dedicated to Madame de D.....” Too bad! that this composition will hardly stray to an Ansbach publisher while she is already sailing to Spanish America. The letter is true to himself, full of peculiarities, yet reasonable, clear and childlike.

To judge by the constellation of the Irish sky, we will probably stay here for another five months. But the climate prevailing here is not my friend. June is already here, and in the chimneys the fires are still blazing. Every day there must be rain, that is the wont. The whipped up sea air, limp and cool, may well be the best means to clear the complexion (according to the principle of the ladies), but the body itself suffers the more. My somewhat leonine nature will be able to withstand these influences with God's help. To warm myself up, I sometimes walk through the beautiful conservatory; the products of India and America shall compensate me for the tearful skies of Ireland.


4. X

Dungannon, 10 June.

Finally your letter has found its way to me. The long wait for this joy made its appearance even more gratifying to me. But as to your apology, that you do not know what you could write to me, I shall not accept it. Of course, the daily news in your Ansbach or Onolsbach (starting with O! and ending with Ach!) do not hold more interest for me than the heavenly bodies blowing their noses. I love you tenderly, and dearly love my good mother and siblings, which is why a greeting from my loved ones is enough to shower me with joy. The malaise of my dear E.... 7 frightens me a little, and when I console myself, it is because think that after the anemia is over the red cheeks will return doubled, and therefore many a vain female might wish for such a rosy paleness.

The quiet andante of our country life suddenly seems to turn into an allegro vivace. Concerts and balls alternate, and my job is to dress up after finishing my lessons and to be a singer. The Earl of Ranfurly's castle, meanwhile, might justly bear comparison with the residence of a German duke. Tomorrow, there will be a big déjeuner dansant in the house of a nobleman in our neighbourhood. Will I manage to slip away from the tedious dancing? For me, that is the greatest sacrifice demanded by  p.48 society! On the other hand, such meetings serve to further my study of physiognomy; this and that is noted, and a silent observer can easily remove the nut from the shell. Of all the characters I have seen so far, that nobleman is the strangest to me. You know my happy instinct for discovering similarities; but finding a doppelgänger for him would be impossible for me. He enters; his bow is valid for a thousand, because due to his agility and skinniness everything about him clatters, the whole person participates in the slightest movement of his little finger. He speaks, and his mouth has the form of a mathematical triangle or an old German “Schnippe” 8, but what does he say? Funny stuff, that is in his nature. He may be six and thirty years old, he is rather tall than short, has black hair, small sly, pale greyish-green eyes, an elongated, almost regular face, no lips, a blue beard, good teeth. I have never seen such an ensemble before, otherwise I would compare it to another human, due to my comparitis, as noted above. He imitates the sound of the German and French language perfectly, without uttering one word of German or French. The day before yesterday we played “aux graces” in the gallery (small bangles you throw to each other and catch with two sticks) when by chance a journal sheet falls from the nearby table, he picks it up, quickly puts it on his head like a veil, a chair morphs into a boat, the two sticks into his oars, and now he exclaims, as tenderly as possible: “voilà l'amour dans un bâteau.” His  p.49 French, however, cuts through one's poor ears; the more effort he puts in, the more fanciful the words stumble along. The other day he asked me in all seriousness: “tous-ceux qui sont morts du cholera à Paris, ont ils été tous enterrés dans la chaise percée?” (instead of Père Lachaise) Others provide material for anecdotes, too. An English lady recently thought it was highly improper that our lapdog was half shorn, and therefore going half naked. “You have to put little trousers on him,” she said. As is well known, the Englishwomen in their decency have gone so far that they would not pronounce the word “shirt” in the presence of another person, while often the arrangement of their dress is not exactly proper. — A little man with black eyes told me that on his travels through Germany he had found the tea to be so bad, especially in Erfurt, that he went straight away to the city magistrate to sue the innkeepers and their tea. Of course, he was told that there was no law concerning such a disgrace, and that he ought to calm down. In vain! Besides himself for being unable to go to court, he rushes back to the inn, tries to seize the tea provisions and scatters them over hallway and stairs, kitchen and cellar. The occupants of the house are alarmed, only the innkeeper keeps calm and demands the payment of an excessive bill. Meanwhile, the hotel has filled up with spectators curious to see the tea reformer, who shouts to the crowd from inside the carriage, by way of good-bye:  p.50 “You German robbers!” “You English rascal!” many throats shouted out after him. But you have to see this aesthetic tea figure yourself, and hear him relate this in broken German. In fact, the more I think about England, the more I find in that in every sense it is a land of extremes. The sky, for example, shows the extreme of sadness and so on. One is either exceedingly rich or miserably poor, quite beautiful, or a paragon of ugliness, unfathomably reasonable or heartily silly; in short, I miss the middle course of my sensible, sober and yet poetic Germany. Everyone has their particular quirk. Most of all, they suffer from a high opinion of themselves. The other day, a gentleman told me that he played the piano masterfully, another one that he was a wit. — As far as the way of life of the English nobility is concerned, I always compare it with the Turkish one. Firstly, their need for strong drinks, which even the ladies share, who drink Malaga wine like water, secondly their common sluggishness of mind and body, their stoicism, their callousness, their uncultured sense of music, and some of their customs, for example the fact that after every dinner, and even when husband and wife dine alone, the wife has to retire straight after the dessert, so as not to disturb her husband in his bottle-philosophy. Is it not understandable that the Englishman, by constant close intercourse with the Orient, becomes a bit of an Oriental himself namely in his luxuriousness?


Since I have so little time for myself, I had to wait until today to continue this letter. In the meantime I made a trip to I..., the demesne of Lord S..., and also the great “déjeuner” had taken place. 9 We went there in six carriages, ladies and gentlemen neatly groomed, a journey of three hours. The park we passed first is not magnificent, but nevertheless rich in beautiful parts. The house in Gothic style resembles a monastery and is densely overgrown with ivy; inside it is lovely, here a large salon, there a beautiful library. I danced the first quadrille (resistance was to no avail) with the host's brother and then several times with the host himself. His parson was particularly kind to me, probably because I took pity on his German today, as usual. But in spite of that, I had a lot of time for more serious considerations. The news that the master and mistress of Dungannon Castle were passing through this area had attracted most of the underground cottage dwellers. Oh dear! What wretches! Even that youthful figure mentioned before is slumped. I'm not surprised to see so many ruined castles. But that is reality. The rich continue to splurge, and the people must go hungry instead. One's heart wants to break with sadness. I left the ballroom to walk through the park. Fifty ragged workers (vassals), who had just been given their meal were lying in a meadow. Today they had got wine and beer, shouting wild hurrahs after their own manner and language.  p.52 But the family I am staying with is said be one of the most charitable in the country, and certainly they are. The people's misery may be increased in particular by the fact that as a rule the Irish lords are only pro forma resident in their home country from time to time, consuming their revenues in London or Paris, and therefore leave their estates with their tenants to arbitrary bailiffs.

Now marvel, dear father! A short while ago I also learned how to steer a carriage. In a cute cabriolet, with Emily by my side, we chase through the park, uphill, downhill, what a joy! Today I have again transgressed the order not to venture outside the park, and into the area of the poor hovels. In front of one of these miserable dwellings there were a few women sitting, cradling their dirty children on their laps. I enter, and find myself in a corner that serves as kitchen, bedroom and living room in one. A few sheep, dogs and cats add to the company. Civilly I greeted a woman who got such a fright, that turning pale, she left the hut in a hurry; a girl hid behind a bundle of straw in the corner, and my efforts to make friends with her were in vain. When I returned, I went to my favourite quiet place. It is a black, copper-coloured oak, the night of the plant kingdom. Under its shade, one feels so small and yet elevated to the creator, who has laid down, both in the blade of grass and in the highest  p.53 oak tree, the revelations of his wisdom and grace.

5. XI

Dungannon, 18 June.

The castle is filling up with guests, and twenty rooms are already occupied by strangers from the neighbourhood. You do not pay visits in England and Ireland like we do, in pairs, but rather entire families arrive for quartering. Lord and Lady, children with nurse and governess, servants and horses. So I often adapt to the hustle and bustle around me and make myself comfortable. A thoroughly erudite sir honoured unlearned me today again, not only with his gaze, but also with hours of conversation. Our quirky country squire acted solo upstairs, imitating Kemble, offering whole scenes from Hamlet. A chair represented a person he addressed, his voice changing in line with the different characters so that I had to admire him. But soon I was bored. I sat down leisurely in an armchair, in English style, and so it happened that the afore-mentioned scholar, a pale, thin and black manikin, descended from the mountain of his scholarship into the valley of my ignorance. He himself told me the other day (according to the country's custom!) with a sense of self assurance that he knew all languages. “Really?” I asked, more astonished by his sense of certainty than by his  p.54 great genius. I asked him for some historical notes about Ireland. “Please tell me about the origin of this people, about nature scenes, etc.” “My pleasure!” he replied with a smile that threatened to kill all his learned wrinkles. He moved closer. “A lecture, then? A chapter from ...” — “Whatever you like,” I answered. “You will enrich my letters to Germany, because what you are telling me is to be recorded in the minutes, and will reach, not exactly the treasure chamber of a German academy, but nevertheless a scholar's study.” “Are you a writer?”, he asked hastily — “oh no, just a chatterbox.” (Plaudertasche) This word, never heard before, opened up a field for him, as big as the Lüneburg Heath, a field for profound inquiry. Whether this was a real root-word, one that migrated to German from other languages? — “I beg you, sir,” I replied impatiently, “what is the reason that the Irish mostly have southern faces, dark hair, and black eyes?” “Yes, I was about to begin, madam. Because the Irish are believed to be of Spanish descent. The Phoenicians mixed, as you may know,” (here I frowned) “with the original Celtic race. Earlier, they lived along the Spanish coast, and had intercourse with the Irish. A colony of Spaniards came over to their country too, and their oldest religious customs suggest that Celtic tribes populated Ireland. On their hills and plains lie the scattered remnants of their idolatry. Here there is a circle of standing stones, which represents  p.55 an altar or seat of law (unhewn pillars), being the symbol of the sun among the Phoenicians, and there is a place of torturous idolatry where children had to die and burn in sacrifice. In Ireland, this bloody site was called Magh-Sleacth 10 or the place of slaughter. Magh-Sleacht however was the name of a stone, edged with gold, and surrounded by twelve rough stones. This was called after an Irish idol: Crom Cruach. Every nation that had conquered Ireland, that is every colony that settled here, worshipped this Crom Cruach until the advent of the apostle St. Patrick. At that time the first-born of men and animals were sacrificed to the idols. Tighernmas Mac Follaigh, King of Ireland, confirmed these sacrifices by his orders. Men and women had to lie in front of the dead stones, crouched to the ground, until the blood came out of their noses, foreheads, ears and elbows. Many of them lay dead, and hence the name of Magh-Sleacht, a place of slaughter. 11 Through the Phoenicians' contacts with Persia, the custom of fire worshipping also came to Ireland. 12 Just like the Persians, they called their priests druids and magicians; and around St. Patrick's time the latter warned the king not a little about the consequences of the new faith. The Phoenicians venerated the sun as the main object of worship; and so did the Irish, calling it Baal or Bel. — Thus St. Patrick said in his confessions referring to this idolatry: “The sun we see rises every day after God's command for our service and benefit, but it does not govern  p.56 our affairs nor does its splendour last forever. Those who worship it now will be duly punished. We, however, believe in and pray to the eternal true sun, Christ the Lord.” Near Wexford there is a place called Grenor (Greenore), or the place of the sun fire, where St. Patrick is said to have overthrown a pagan altar and built a church. In the middle of the fifth century Patrick only calls the higher classes “Scots”, which is considered proof that Ireland was not yet completely occupied by this people (which are descended from the Scythians).” Here I interrupted the tireless scholar, to get some respite, with the following question: “when I hear the Irish man speaking next to the Englishman, it seems to me that the latter's pronunciation, compared to that of the Irishman, is like Swabian to Northern German. Is that right?” “In some respects it is”, he said with a smile, but with a somewhat weary tone. He may have longed for refreshments, because he did not let the servant who had just appeared with steaming tea, wait for long.

The gallery clock strikes nine. Suddenly a door opens here and there, and the loud laughter around us stops. My lord slowly walks through the hall and the butler follows him, carrying a large book and a lectern. “It is the time of prayer.” Every Sunday evening at this hour, the Lord of the manor in Ireland reads a short sermon or psalm. I follow the ladies into the dining room, which  p.57 I now see transformed into a chapel. In the middle, in front of a table, my lord is standing — to the right there are rows of chairs, and before these ladies and gentlemen are kneeling. To the left all the servants, a hundred in number, are symmetrically arranged. The whole thing has a festive air, but I was bothered to hear my neighbour whispering with a dandy who, pointing to the left side, asked her: “Don't you smell the stable?” Anyway, the Sunday celebration among the English, though for many of them only a matter of outward form, at least expresses the fear of God, and therefore it is venerable to me; I would like to call it a bridge leading to the true, childlike fear of God. — I will never forget that Sunday when an Irish girl of eight years took her little brother by the hand and led him from the noisy nursery with the words: “Come! It's Sunday, and we do not play on this day.” I had followed her into the garden and chatted for a long time with the dear child; at last I asked her: “Tell me, who is the Saviour? where is He?” After reflecting for a while, she replied in a friendly way: “He is so great that heaven cannot contain him, and so small that He has room in my heart.”

Last Sunday, my Lady and I drove to Dungannon church. In the choir there was a kind of stand that we entered. The pews were handsomely covered in red velvet. I had already placed all sorts of bookmarks in my Common Prayerbook to be able to follow the service. Here every Sunday  p.58 has its particular penitential psalms and readings from the Gospel. One kneels while they are being read aloud, also during the litany, to which the congregation, as in the Roman Church, also responds with a “Lord have mercy on us.” Behind a green curtain on our right hand side, there stood twelve choristers dressed in white, singing the Kyrie eleison movingly. Only after plenty of the Word of God had been read aloud did the actual sermon begin, which made up the shorter part of the service. I was pleased to find in the Anglican Church what I had always wished for in our Protestant rite, I mean kneeling down as an external sign of the fear of God. At least here in England and Ireland a devoted mind may freely follow the inner urge of the heart. — I have often witnessed the fact that the English strictly observe the Sunday when travelling; they gather around the Bible and the Common Prayerbook at the same hour as at home. Everything is observed exactly as in the church. The English are in a certain respect in spiritual communion with all their brothers, across whatever countries they may be scattered. — Farewell, dear father, I send my warmest greetings from across the sea.


6. XII

Dungannon, 25 June.

To the generosity of my scholar I owe several extracts of Patrick's life, which I now share with you, arranged in proper order. So for today, you will read nothing but the following:

St Patrick. 13

In the year AD 387 there lived a respected family of Roman origin in an area of the north-western coast of Gaul, in what is now Boulogne. The father held the office of senator and later deacon. They had a son, who was abducted from the coast of Armorica as a boy, taken captive, and taken to Ireland. Here a man named Milcho bought him as a slave, and Patrick had to herd his sheep. As he was wandering by himself across the mountains in the Dál Riada area (today's county Antrim), deep sighs and hot prayers to God often escaped him. God sees what is hidden and introduced him deeper and deeper to self-knowledge, strengthening his faith in the Redeemer and his love of truth. For six years Patrick had been a slave, when suddenly the yearning for freedom awoke in him more strongly than ever. When he was dreaming, a voice told him that he would soon see his homeland, because a ship would be ready for him. Therefore in the seventh year of his imprisonment he fled to the south-western  p.60 coast of Ireland, where the captain of a merchant ship took him on board after some reluctance. It is said that there was a law in Ireland according to which a slave was granted freedom in the seventh year, and many people think that Patrick obtained his freedom in this manner. Before long he disembarked on the coast of Gaul and was reunited with his relatives and friends. From then on he had only one wish: to make up for the lost years of boyhood by diligent study. The famous monastery of St. Martin, near Tours, seemed to be suitable for this purpose, and after a four-year stay he was consecrated. But Ireland remained deeply imprinted on him, and whether waking or dreaming, it occupied his soul. Once a messenger from Ireland appeared to him in his dream, carrying countless letters, one of which bore the inscription: “The voice of the Irish”. And it seemed to him that he heard human voices from the western seas, out of the forest of Foclut, 14 who cried out, “Please, holy youth, do come and walk among us as before!” “My heart was touched so deeply”, St. Patrick relates, “that I could not read any more — and I woke up.” — The things he tells us in his simple way, have no tinge at all of the miraculous, with which the legends about his life usually abound. From that dream, which to some extent naturally follows from a fervent and pious imagination, one can only see how dear Ireland must have been to him, and that he was already thinking of doing sacred work. He was in his thirtieth year when he committed himself to the spiritual guidance of St German of Auxerre,  p.61 and in 429 he followed him and Lupus to England to purge that country of the Pelagians' errors. Nine years later, we find him in a monastery at Lerins, a lonely island on Lake Tuscany. The quiet seclusion and communication with the friars there contributed much to render him more and more capable for his future occupation. At that time Pope Celestine decided to send missionaries to Ireland as well, and he selected Palladius who was a deacon of the Roman Church, and later Ireland's first bishop. Although he converted some souls to Christianity, soon his enemies forced him to flee, and after being shipwrecked by a storm on England's northern coast, he died at Fordun. So much is certain that God had chosen not Palladius, but St. Patrick as his instrument for the conversion of Ireland. St. Patrick, having been sent from St. Germain to Rome, had received permission from the Pope to go to Ireland as a missionary just after Palladius had already arrived there. After Palladius' death, what was more natural than to receive Patrick happily who had just travelled through France, and to appoint him his successor. In Ebora he was consecrated bishop, and after a short stay in England he soon landed near Dublin. 15 In some places of Leinster he met with resistance; this circumstance and his desire to convert the old Milcho, the longing to see the area again where he had spent his youth, moved him to go to Strangford (in today' s  p.62 barony of Lecale). Once he met a shepherd who, seeing the missionary and his companions, hastened to tell his master that pirates roamed the area. Soon the chieftain himself appears, it is Milcho, and vehemently he attacks the alleged robbers. But when he spots St. Patrick, he feels so surprised by the pious expression of his features, by his mildness and calmness that he lowers his raised weapon, inviting everyone to his dwelling. Even the tough heart of Milcho could no longer resist St. Patrick's love, and so he and his pagan house mates abandoned their idols. In a barn that belonged to the chieftain, the saint now held his services, and therefore the unsightly temple was called Sabbul Padruic or Patrick's barn. He preferred this place over all the others, just like the mountain where he had often prayed before as a slave. One day when he visited those dear places and Milcho again, to his dismay he found him returned to heathendom and refusing to speak to him. However, soon Patrick was comforted by the faith of a young man whom he named Benignus because of his kindness. From his conversion onwards Benignus became his constant companion, and after Patrick's death Benignus was appointed his successor and bishop of Armagh. The saint and Benignus pitched their tents in Slane. It was before Easter time, when they lit the fire at dusk, as was the custom in the church at that time.  p.63 On the same evening King Loegaire had gathered with his princes for the pagan feast of Bealtaine. Their law forbade any fire until the great pillar in the palace of Tara was lit. But too late! Patrick's Easter fire was already burning and to the amazement of the royal court it could be spotted from the heights of Tara. Now Loegaire asked anxiously who dared break the law. And the magicians and druids, almost with a sense of prophecy, answered him: “If this fire does not go out tonight, it will burn forever; it will rise above all the fires of our oldest divine services, and he who has lit it can become a destroyer of our kingdom.” Immediately St. Patrick was summoned. The princes were sitting in a circle on the grass, and one, Herc, Dego's son, shaken by the noble appearance of the pious man, jumped up to greet him; Patrick answered their questions plainly, and informed them about the essence of his mission. Everyone listened to him with such pleasure that on the following day he was asked to preach in the palace. There, in front of the gathered court, he testified to his faith and after contending with the magicians overcame them by the Word of Truth. On that day the famous poet Dubtach was converted, who wanted to write poetry only about religious objects from then on; and the king, who was struck by the power of the sermon, exclaimed: “I had rather believe than die!”. And in fact, he did not put any obstacles in the way of the missionary effort. Even though Patrick had to confess that the Gospel was accepted mainly  p.64 by the poor, the higher classes, kings and princes were also converted. The women in particular received his words willingly, and he himself relates that he once baptized a young lady from Scotland, who was very beautiful and witty. But that meaningful dream, the voice of the Irish, was still on his mind, and so it came to pass that he crossed the forests on the western seashore inspired by that memory. One day, various circumstances forced him to go further and further west; the night had fallen, and Patrick and his companions camped at a spring. As soon as the morning dawned, and they commenced their devotion, they sang a hymn of praise. Meanwhile, the king's two daughters, Ethenea and Fethlimia, had approached the spring to bathe. How amazed they were to see these men, who were standing right there in white robes, and holding books in their hands, and of course they asked: “Are you supernatural beings or humans?” Patrick seized that opportunity to introduce them to the true God and our Lord Jesus Christ, because they were burning with desire to know where God dwelt, whether in heaven or on earth, on mountains or in valleys. Soon they were convinced of the truth of his words, and received baptism at that spring. They also consecrated their lives from that day on to the ministry of their redeemer and the church. At the same time, the missionary overthrew the idol Crom Cruach in the county of Leitrim and built a church in his place.


Wherever he went, he baptized many souls eager for salvation. Here and there the churches, which he provided with priests who were his disciples, increased in number, and took over the work he had begun to build. Sometimes however, he deprived himself of all contact and especially in Lent he kept fasting and praying for a long time on the lonely mountain that was called the Eagle. 16 Legend tells that flocks of sea birds and birds of prey, frightened by the sight of a human being in such a solitude, turned into demons, trying to disturb the saint's devotions. From here he went to Tir-amalgaidh, now Tyrawley, near the forest of Foclut where the messenger had called him in his dream. He came to this area after the king's death, when his seven sons were fighting fiercely for the throne. But no sooner did they hear St. Patrick's words than they were moved to peace and believed, and twelve thousand pagans were baptized at the same time with them. But he did not lack enemies either who despised his teaching, and once his life was even in great danger. A chieftain called Tailge sought to kill him as soon as he passed through the king's county. But Odran, who was leading Patrick's cart and noticed the assault, asked him to swap seats. So it happened that Odran was thought to be the saint, and it was he who received the deadly blow. It is remarkable that during the heathen conversion on this island this was the only blood shed by an Irishman's hand. Later, when Patrick  p.66 visited Lecale, the captain of a band of robbers sought his life. But God foiled these attempts this time too, and the robber became a believer. Maccaldus, as he was called, was overcome with deep remorse, now asked the holy man to impose penitential exercises on him for his misdeeds. To this end, Maccaldus was to leave Ireland immediately and confide in the waves, all alone in a weak vessel; he was not allowed to take anything with him but a short robe. He was to go ashore where the wind would take him and then dedicate his life to God. He obeyed; the wind guided his boat to the Isle of Man, where two pious bishops kindly received him responding to him with a lot of wisdom, as his spiritual state required. Maccaldus became more and more faithful, and his conduct was impeccable. He was universally loved, and later appointed bishop of the island. Dubthach, the poet, too, remained constant in his faith, for on a journey through Leinster the apostle visited the poet in his abode in Kinsellagh, where they edified one another by spiritual conversations. There Patrick was glad to witness that Fiech 17 Dubthach's disciple, confessed his faith in Christ; after being ordained priest he later worked with love and holy zeal as Bishop of Slatty (recte Armagh).

After all the provinces of Ireland were filled with the Gospel and the churches were multiplying, St Patrick deemed it necessary to establish an episcopal see and chose the district of Macha. Here, where once the royal  p.67 castle of Emania had been, later Patrick's episcopal see, knowns as Armagh, towered, and Salhul 18 which was in the barony of Lecale, the area where he had first preached the Gospel. In AD 465 in Salhul he suddenly felt death approaching, and now he wished to die in Armagh, although on the journey there he felt inwardly impelled to return, because it would be his fate to spend his last hours in Salhul. Eight days later he passed away on 17 March, at the age of 78. As soon as the news of his death spread, all the bishops and priests rushed to the burial of the beloved man. All through the night they kept singing psalms at the side of the cherished corpse and it is said so many torches were burning that the night seemed transformed into day. At this point Benignus was elected as Bishop of Armagh, according to the apostle's wishes, who had said of him: “He will be the heir of my power.” Several men, such as Fortunatus, Columba, also known as Columb Cille, were lights of the church. About Columba the following is said: "la lumière que St. Columban répandit par son savoir et sa doctrine dans tous les lieux où il se montra, l'a fait comparer par un écrivain du même siècle au soleil dans sa course de l'orient a l'occident. II continua après sa mort de briller dans plusieurs disciples qu'il avait formés aux lettres et à la piété." ("The light that St Columba spread by his knowledge and his doctrine everywhere where he showed himself, has made a writer of the same century compare him to the sun on its course from east to west. After his death he continued to shine through a number of his disciples who he had trained in arts and piety.") (Histoire littéraire de la France.)

At that time, Ireland was known throughout Europe as “the holy island, or the island of saints and  p.68 of believers”. Soon St. Brigid established the first convent and called it Cill Dara, “cell of the oak”, because of a high oak tree that characterized this place. As late as the twelfth century, its trunk still stood out as a relic of venerable times, for nobody dared cut it down.

According to Usher, the Church founded by St. Patrick in Ireland was independent of the Roman Church insofar as it subjected itself strictly to the Gospel; its confession of faith was that of the Lutheran Church until the time when the supremacy of the Roman episcopal see was asserted in the canon of one of the first Irish synods. For once there had been contention about the celebration of Easter, and since the canon required that all questions were to be submitted to the head of all cities, a deputation was immediately sent to Rome, and — in exchange — received Roman malpractices. However, their monasteries kept the strictest discipline for a long time. Soon pilgrimages were ordered in which princes took also part, as the annals report. Statutes, errors and human opinions proliferated.

But now it is time for me to let St. Patrick go, no matter how much I have come to love his life. You see, dear father, that I have been browsing some dusty folios for his sake, and so I hope you will also credit me with this unusually prolix and lengthy epistle.  p.69 At least I have something in common with budding writers, insofar as in my pockets (just like in theirs) there is always an ominous rustling of manuscripts to be heard. Patience! Patience!


Dungannon, am 30 June.

Last night I was sitting in the library as usual, with Metastasio 19 open in front of me, and my mind being in Italy. Here comes Lord Northland to hand me your last letter. I am beaming with joy, impatiently I break the seal and fly into your arms. I am standing before your desk, you are seated in the armchair in front of me, with books and writings stacked up high around you. Everything is as usual — the birds are jumping happily in the cage; the parrot whistles his roulade with self-confidence, cheekily — my kind mother, sisters and brothers give me their hands — I just want to — “If you please,...” whispers a servant neatly dressed in sateen and velvet, presenting a large tea tray with cups to me; mechanically I stretch out my hand — “So? here you are, my dear!” the beautiful Lady S... says with a smile, “they are waiting for you at the grand piano, are you going to sing “Brüderlein fein” 20 again today?” — “Oh Saint Kreißler, have mercy on me in my musical suffering”! 21 — “Why don't you sing “'Erz mein 'Erz”” (Heart, my heart!)  p.70 says an old lady in broken German; and “ä Schüsserl und ä Reinderl ist all mein Kuchelg'schirr” 22 suggests a lady who visited Munich twelve years ago, then another one: “O Madame D...” “mein Schatz ist in Baiern” — As you notice, dear father, my bravura is not exactly classical, but it even so it is good enough for Irish ears. However if some English beauty who does not understand German, dreams of love and heartache in these songs, it is not my fault; I leave them to pine on a chaise longue. How comfortable! Comfort is England's watchword. Poor Germany! Even Adelung offers no comfort. 23 Well! “Because it is comfortable to me” I have made a list of my songs from Swabia and the Tyrol, which have reached me by tradition from some obscure spinning room. This long note, which contains the beginning of each song (not dissimilar to a recipe) is before me, the flute register of my German chest organ voice is pulled out and now I am singing and swinging myself over the sea to France, over the sombre oak groves, away to my beloved homeland. If I am praised, it is undeserved. But as so often happens, when I am obliged by a sense of duty to accompany some divertissements from Guillaume Tell and his consorts, when my Lady plays the harp, I would well deserve to be crushed as a musical martyr, not only by pain, but also by laurels. But to return to my concert: slowly I am strolling through the gallery in the company of the beautiful Lady S...  p.71 dans la salle de musique. A young Irish lady is already seated picture-perfect at the grand piano, yelling an aria. Half invisibly I lean into a nook next to the fireplace, and call up the spirits of Hogarth and Hoffmann. The aria was from the last season, by one of the premier London fashion composers, in 6/8 time; a few notes jump up, a few down, the basso is limping behind, suddenly a meaningful pause, the light goes out — night, dark night, then a furious chord, and everything is dissolved into a whimpering trill, as if dissolved in tears. I gladly give the English their due, and admit that they have great talent for mechanical work and steel engraving, but despite their precious love for music, they will always remain its poor cousin. When a gentleman or a young lady sings, it is usually “a song that can soften stone, and make people rave!” 24 A lady of the first rank, of royal lineage, once asked me naively whether the music notes in Germany were the same as in England. Therefore I look for music not in the salons, but in Irish, Scottish and English cabins, I mean the folk melodies whose cradle is nature itself, those sacred voices full of longing for the eternal, those thoughts and feelings of a childlike simplicity embodied in sounds. I have noticed that often the bouncing, dancing folk melodies of the Irish, even when reduced to a solemn, calm accompaniment, still convey a wistful character. The Scottish melodies, less so the English, are  p.72 manifestations of an inner, unconscious longing for eventual redemption. — Even today the harp is the favourite instrument in Ireland. In times gone by the Irish harpists were so famous for their art, that until the 11th century even French and Italian minstrels became their students. It was even thought that the magic had to be tied in with the construction of their harps. I for one prefer to look for it elsewhere. An English poet once sang enthusiastically, in praise of Irish music:

  1. The Irish I admire
    And still cleave to that lyre
    As our Muse's mother
    And think, till I expire,
    Apollo's such another.
Drayton (Poly-Olbion, 1613.).

I am adding one of the oldest poems by an Irishman, Donatus, who in Italy became bishop of Fiesole while on a pilgrimage to Rome. The original is in Latin, the following translation is taken from O' Halloran's History 25. He is overflowing with praise of his country:

  1. Far westward lies an isle of ancient fame,
    By nature bless'd and Scotia is her name,
    Enroll'd in books — exhaustless is her store
    Of veiny silver and of golden ore.
    Her fruitful soil for ever teems with wealth; p.73
    With gems her waters and her air with health.
    Her verdant fields with milk and honey flow,
    Her woolly fleeces vie with virgin snow.
    Her waving furrows float with bearded corn;
    And arms and arts her envied sons adorn.
Marginal Gloss:
  1. Donatus, oh! Your hymn of praise
    Now this sounds like an elegy to me!
    I look around, I am getting scared —
    So close your eyes! — for poetry is sweet!

The courier is leaving in an hour — How sad that I have to finish! “The clock does not strike for a lucky man!” 26


8. XIV

Dungannon, 20 July.

What a sublime natural scenery Ireland's northern coastline offers! But what can you convey by describing them? At best a feeble decoction of ideas. But be that as it may, I want to tell you as best I can, dear father, in particular of Dunkerry Cave. 27

To the west of the port of Coon Cave and Dyke, a dark, steep rock contains a cave which is as deep as high, and accessible by water only. The entrance is in the shape of a pointed arch and is of a striking regularity. The inner depth of Dunkerry Cave is unfathomable, and its peculiar structure makes landing a barge dangerous or even prevents it. But here, too, nature is reconciling, because a green wreath of sea plants grows above the water surface along the hard rock. The crashing of the sea against this coast is especially stunning, as wave follows wave, thundering into the cave. Often during winter nights the roar is so intense that the people living in cottages, albeit at some distance from it, are scared out of their sleep. The entrance is six and twenty feet in breadth, and enclosed between two natural walls of dark basalt; instilling frissons and admiration. After you have landed,  p.75 you follow a path for quarter of a mile through barren cliffs, towards the Giant Causeway.

Giant's Causeway

It rises up like wide bridge piers, black and solemn, and one would like to believe the people who tell of this miracle of nature. They say that once giants had begun to build this colossal causeway to Scotland, and were only prevented from continuing the great work by Ireland's heroes who drove them out. Between Port-na-Baw and Port-na-Gange you can see some naked rocks jutting out, called Stookings. A little to the west, near the coast, an isolated rock rises up: Sea Gall Isle, and there in the middle between Port-na-Gange and Port-Nosser, the giant path juts out into the sea. It consists of three pillars of stone embankments, 400 feet high, towering upon the bottom of a stacked cliff, and of polygonal columns of dark basalt, so tightly united that no more than a knife blade can be inserted; they surpass the most artful sculpture in regularity. Each pillar is a veritable masterpiece in itself, and, being separable from the adjacent columns, it is made up of different parts, whose ledges are so perfect that not even supreme human effort could have created them. I cannot but marvel at the magnificence of the eternal builder in these rocks. There, on the western side, between the lofty pillars  p.76 the giant spring is spouting, a fountain so magnificent that neither emperor nor king possesses the like in his palace. Here on the eastern side, on a towering cliff, I spot some scattered pillars, which are dubbed somewhat prosaically “chimney tops”, although the crew of the insurmountable Spanish Armada once fired bravely at the sight of these innocent pillars, believing they saw a castle before them. It is truly a fine lesson that one should not do any better with one's castles in the air (“châteaux d' Espagne”) either. This chimney manoeuvre also gave rise to the name of the nearest town in the little bay, Port-na-Spagna. —

The stretch of land on the coast is rich in limestone and poor enough. The people, some of whom are very handsome, live in misery. In the abrupt cliffs overhanging the giant walkway, a strange substance is found for which, according to some naturalists, no technical name has been agreed on yet; it resembles burned out coals, and is spongy and light.

Lough Mourne!

Laugh Tomorrow!

On the road to Larne, I first see a desolate stretch of road, but then to the right the sublime lake of Lough Mourne! This body of water  p.77 occupies the summit of a hill of 500 feet above sea level. The shores are barren. The lake itself contains eel and pike, and in winter countless seabirds congregate here.

The people explain the name Lough Mourne by way of a legend. Once upon a time, there was a great city in this place, where one evening an old beggar had come asking for shelter. After being pitilessly rejected, he cried out solemnly and earnestly: “Lough Mourne! laugh tomorrow!” He himself immediately climbed onto one of the jutting out rocks. Now the ground started sinking more and more, eels were slipping out of the houses. Soon the city was sinking down into the abyss, and the waters were welling up above it, as can still be seen today. From now on, the legend says, the lake was called Lough Mourne, laugh tomorrow!

9. XV

Dungannon, 15 August.

Just now, as every morning, my dear shepherd's flute, with its longing song “I give thee all, I can no more”, sounds across the lake. I listen with bated breath, and move closer to the window. “I give thee all” — so it echoes in me on and on. Though I do not have an idyllic bent, I think that a touching truth speaks through the sounds of such a simple Irish tin whistle.  p.78 Away with the brilliant Parisian soirées musicales! —

Musing about Irish folk music inevitably takes me to the area of art itself, and hence to that of its favourites, and I praise the creative power and kindness of God, which endows a poor human being so abundantly already in this world. But there are also false artists and there is a touchstone for both kinds. Whoever can endure in distress, without hope, and in unselfish love of art, is arguably a true artist. He is creative because he must be; like Gomis and many others who, despite all the obstacles which prevented them from practising their art, finally managed to break through. This creative power reacts to create a satisfaction that cannot be compared to anything. The true artist gives and takes. The praise he receives is properly due to the victory of truth. He is also above the everyday praise of the self-congratulatory crowd. He does not aspire to figure as a golden calf which serves the great crowd for their sinful worship. The false artist, on the other hand, has sought to sneak into the realm of art without consecration or inner vocation; he is a hireling or a glorified craftsman. Drawing up the water from an unclean well, like a puddle or cistern, he brings up all kinds of vermin with it. No matter how much he may struggle with theory — while a will-o'-the-wisp will glitter, his element remains the swamp. What he produces is distorted and deceptive imagery. Lying means murdering the truth,  p.79 and can only have the appearance of winning. Such a would-be artist knows no other spur than ambition and praise. No praise, and there is no more art for him — no more champagne, and behold! it's over with enthusiasm. I would like to say more about the inner life of the true artist, if I only knew how to express my thoughts well! In any case it is difficult to fathom his mystical nature and to assess something that far surpasses the ordinary. But this remains true: as far as their outer life is concerned, the artists all agree in being whimsical. Yes, musicians, painters, and incidentally poets and scholars have to join hands unanimously, being brothers and sisters in this. I think it is natural, too. What are the conveniences of the outer life but shadow images to someone in whose mind a creative power has awoken, and now erupts into a thousand beautiful flowers! Be it fugue or brushstroke, verse or model, — spirit, truth and power bring them about, and therefore they do not belong to these spaces, but to eternity. — Nothing opens up the inner life of the true artist more to me than that scene, where the noble seascape painter Joseph Verney28, bound to the ship's mast during a storm, sits down comfortably in the great workshop of nature, as it were, all eyes and ears, while the crew is wrestling with death, and the ship with the waves, threatening to sink into the abyss as a large coffin.

Together with this letter, beloved father, you will receive  p.80 some of my favourite Irish melodies. I suspect that the lyrics of one or the other song have been written by Thomas Moore; in any case he has done a splendid job. His poems are melodious in themselves. Let my sisters sing them to you, but please a mezza voce, bringing you to me, to Erin's shores, where the waves are breaking.

10. XVI

Dungannon, 3 September.

Emily grows lovelier by the day; how keen to learn she is! Usually I tell her stories from biblical and world history, and since she has an exceptional gift for learning languages, she now reads the stories of the author of The Easter Eggs quite fluently for recreation. 29 That Heinrich von Eichenfels considers the sun to be a lamp delights her. — Sometimes I visit this or that nursery in the castle, and I convince myself that the English nannies excel at child care. How calmly they censure any naughtiness! How carefully the little ones are bathed, their hair brushed! After the bigger ones have washed for bedtime, I see them kneeling before their cots and quietly saying their evening prayers. Then it's Baby's turn, who is a girl of two years; her little hands are folded, a short verse  p.81 is recited to her, which she tries to repeat as closely as possible in her babbling way. Soon everybody is sleeping sweetly and their cheeks shine like peach blossoms. If I cannot see the angels assigned to guard them, I still like to believe in these heavenly guardians. — If only I could have escaped into such a nursery the other day! — There was a ball in the castle, and it was in vain to swim against the current. Several Ladies and officers from the neighbourhood had been invited and the orchestra was reinforced by two pipers and two scratching violins. The ladies had exchanged their usual costume, a white woollen dress and a black jet necklace with a Gothic cross, for a dress of fresher colours. I did the same, and for today I put my rosary reluctantly aside. It is made of black oak beads. In the bogs of the north of Ireland a-thousand-year-old oaks have lain buried since the deluge. The wood is black and has become as hard as stone. So now the poor fishermen on the coast earn their livelihood by carving out necklaces and rosaries, and selling them dear. — As usual I had decided not to dance and sat down in a corner. Nevertheless, Lady N... sees me and introduces me to a warrior in red uniform. “Colonel W... wishes to dance the next quadrille with you.” First I said 'no', then 'yes', and when he was gone, Miss C ... said “Why are you so coy? You'll get a fine dancer, he was at the Battle of Waterloo.” Waterloo no less! An old  p.82 invalid from Napoleon's Guards would be of more interest to me. Suddenly the common Irish folk melody for the contradance is heard. Some knights rush into the adjacent parlours like winged Mercuries to capture their dancers. My colonel appears and we are lining up. Oh dear! how dull and mind-numbing! Maybe he can tell me about the Battle of Waterloo; for I would like to have a summary of that important day — I steer the conversation there. Soon we are surrounded by platoon firing, batteries on the right and left — “En avant!” I'm floating towards my partner as a solo dancer, and back again. “But how did it come about, Sir?” I asked, “On 16 June at Ligny, the battle was decided for Napoleon and on 17 June the Prussian army was in full retreat?” “If you please, Madam!” “Chaine anglaise!” a voice boomed. The colonel said “Grouchy, as Madame may know, pursued the Prussian rearguard under Thielemann, and lost sight of the bulk of the Prussian army under Blücher.” Yes, now I remember reading it. On the eighteenth, wasn't it? Grouchy believed he had the whole Prussian army before him, while this same army appeared on the battlefield of Waterloo, clinching the battle for Wellington. The last chord of the finale is just being fiddled. — Exhausted by battles and victories, I took my old corner seat again. My bold warrior disappears and, as I can see, has conquered a glass of Madeira. I want to take refuge in the library, when that young Irishman,  p.83 the same one that imitates Kemble so well, asks me for the next waltz. There is no excuse. You see, the English and Irish think that the Germans are born with a waltz, already waltzing in the cradle. There is no way out. To enhance the orchestra even more, a national bagpipe has to add its squeals. The waltz is dissolving into a galop. My dancer flies like an English racehorse, and only with effort I can assert my German dignity. In this manner I have had to dance myself almost to death more than once for Germany's sake. Had I been in this situation ten years earlier, when young men wanted to liberally splatter their blood for their homeland, this sacrificial dance could have been completely equal to their energy, because dancing yourself to death for Germany or being beaten to death is basically the same thing. —

Yesterday for a change I had to live through some horrors: Suddenly, there is an alarm. “There's a fire!” “There's a fire!” “Where?” “In the castle.” I hurry to the corridor. Here, Lord Northland is standing at the window and says with a calm smile: “There is a fire — only in one room of the lower wing.” Soon afterwards I am standing on the terrace in the flower garden, when suddenly something black flies out of the window on the first floor, landing at my feet. It is only a young master who gets up quickly and disappears into the shrubbery like a roe deer. He was practising a new mode of playing hide-and-seek with some friends. In the afternoon  p.84 they were playing their games in a boat on the lake. In the middle, where it is deepest, they plunged the boy into the water. Every time he tried to cling to the boat, they triumphantly pushed him back with the oar. Only after he got into trouble did they offer help. It was a show in Turkish taste. We were just passing by, and I had to watch the scene — it made me shudder. On the way I observed a woman who was just entering a park; she was dressed very cleanly. A black dress, grey shawl, and grey hat — that was her adornment. Miss C... told me that this unpretentious woman was one of the richest ladies in the district, but as a Quaker she never wore other clothes than these. The interior of her house also showed the utmost cleanliness and simplicity. I was told there were several other dwellings belonging to the Quakers, and I admired how neat and shiny everything looked. It is well known that in their meetings only those will speak who believe themselves at that moment to be inspired by the Spirit. They conscientiously practise the duty of charity. That these god-fearing people are living in the midst of a people withered in soul and body, as it were bright spots in the Irish darkness, seems to me to be a special guidance of God. — As the carriage steered around a hill, I saw a number of men in brown clothes, and some women and children hurrying along the country road. The men carried an uncovered, recently made coffin — no flower, no cross! Their heads were solemnly bowed to the earth,  p.85 and the funeral procession was moving silently and in great haste. At that point I retreated into the corner of the carriage and could not hold back my tears. Ireland seemed to me to be a poor uneducated orphan who is left to herself and her misery.

The Irish people are superstitious — and how! It is well known that a piano player has for professional reasons to see to it that her hands are kept as thin and white as possible. Therefore the chambermaid suggested I put on Danish gloves at night. The last ball had lasted until two o'clock, and drowsy as I was, I found no Danish gloves, and quickly put on a pair of black ones, which were just handy. At five o'clock usually a maid comes to my four-poster bed (which is large enough to go on voyages of discovery in it) with a glass of freshly milked milk, and the morning greeting is: “Good morning madam, how are you?” With my eyes half-closed, I pull a little on the Chinese-style floral curtain and seize the glass. “But why is Betsy so quick today?” I thought, because I heard her hurrying to get to the door. The next morning Mary comes in with the milk, and soon after that she also takes flight with a gasp. This is how it goes on the third morning, and a third maid brings me the glass tremblingly. In the evening I see Lady Northland approaching, laughing out loud. “Now! There are strange rumours spread about you  p.86 in the castle, madam.” “How so?” “Well, well! Mary, Betsy and Fanny are saying that you turn into a pretty lady by day, but into a monster by night. With their own eyes they have seen your black hands with glowing claws, so they say.” “Oh dear,” I exclaimed, “my gloves, my gloves!” and so the terrible mystery was solved. Since then, I've tried hard to make up with the poor girls, but in vain! I enter their room: they are turning pale, their loud conversation is turning into deadly silence. — “She's a witch,” they say now. During Emily's playtime I often sing my solfeggios on the grand piano, from Gomis's singing school. On those occasions, women, men and children often gather at the right hand lattice of the park. “The witch is howling and whistling again,” they say. —

Because I am now in the swing of providing the Romantic period with marginal sketches, the mystical figure of our porter must not be omitted. — A few days ago, I took a late walk over the meadows next to the tunnel and beyond, where the gatehouse stands. It is gloomy and yet homely. The door stood open. In front of it lay a black spitz that was growling as he faced silver-grey cat Mismi, who advanced with a handsomely raised back, yet cautiously — her claw quickly flies to his eye and her paw is grabbing his neck — there is growling, snarling and hissing! But the voice from the house is drowning out both of them. The porter, a woman of about thirty years of age, is swinging her broom, her dishevelled black hair is hanging down over her shoulders, and  p.87 her dark eyes sparkle at me mysteriously. And yet she did not let herself be distracted from her singing, as far as I could tell it was an old war song.

At the end of October we will start our return journey, and the autumnal storms in winter also remind us earnestly to follow the birds' example. Therefore I hope to find your next letter in Paris, dear father, a prospect that is both magnetic and does me good. Just a few elegiac verses

    To Ireland

  1. O poor people! Undone, you are sinking down.
    and now the light has left you, o Erin!
    Earlier, sacred island, you were seen aglow,
    for love and faith, and holding on to them.
    But pulling forth a heavy tiresome yoke,
    Is now your heart's constant lament;
    As flowers wither, so must a kingdom fade,
    And at its own coffin it must weep.

11. XVII

Paris, 20 November 1832

God be praised! I'm back in Paris again, and the sea was not allowed to keep me, no matter how much it might have wanted to. If the mirror or any other quirk of imagination does not deceive me, seafaring has not at all  p.88 narrowed my cheeks and Mr Gomis, the original Spaniard and composer, is right, as he stands under the door in surprise and exclaims: “O ciel! vous êtes double!” Otherwise, everything is as usual. Your picture still hangs above the piano, and looks at me in kindly greeting. Again I send my warmest greetings to you, dearest father! and to my dear ones who are close to me, even if so far away.

Our journey here, dear father, lasted twenty days. On the first night after Dungannon we stayed in Slane, an ugly little town, but famous for the victories the Prince of Orange gained over the Catholics. Every year throughout Ireland, the Orangists commemorate their religious wars (if I am not mistaken in June and autumn) by constantly beating themselves to death for faith and freedom. 30 One evening in the first days of June in Dungannon, I heard a great noise, shooting and wild music. I was told it signified the Orangists' Feast. Thousands of armed people poured in, the Catholics carrying green branches, the Orangists adorned with yellow flowers, and now one curses the other, and the dear Protestants are not behaving any better. The poorest Catholic must pay the Protestant preacher one shilling every Sunday for permission to go to his church. I could enumerate a lot of injustices, but it only makes me sad. When I think of Ireland, I am close to crying. Any travel journal about this country  p.89 must finally dissolve into a sigh and a tear.

On Monday the 29 October we arrived in Dublin. We lived in the most beautiful street, Sackville Street, the longest and broadest street I have ever seen. In the centre a column higher than that of the Place Vendôme in Paris rises into the air. We intended to stay in Dublin for only two days. However, the fog seemed so impenetrable that embarkation was out of the question. On the same night that we decided to cross the sea, several sailing ships suffered averages (accidents) and the steamship we were supposed to take went missing. — Since the prevailing travel method of the English cannot satisfy me (they travel twenty times to London without ever seeing Westminster Abbey or St. Paul's Church — I can vouch for it) I decided to remain true to my German curiosity this time, if possible. In Dublin I hired a guide to show me the oldest churches, but this taste seemed so strange and new to him that he looked at me quizzically and assured me that he wanted to lead me into a “very new and pretty church.” The more I asked for old ones, the more eagerly he tried to convert me to the new ones, so that I saw nothing, and returned home in a grumpy mood. — On Wednesday evening, at four o'clock, we went to the harbour. The ship was teeming with strangers. Twenty-two women were already imprisoned in the cabin, and for us they opened a closet as a special award. I fled to the top bed and was comforted by a  p.90 small, round porthole, which I opened whenever I was close to suffocation. As a consequence, I breathed in the stinking smoulder of coal, pitch and fish oil, and heard the sailors' weird yelling. I was sicker this time than the first time. The sea made very high waves. The ship rose and sank to a regular beat, and you have to feel it in accordance with the movement of the sea; then you know what it is like — a cold death sweat ran from my forehead, and I felt such an indifference that I would even have considered death and shipwreck to be a pleasing prospect. At two o'clock in the morning the storm grew more violent, so that one could feel the fearfulness of the waves and the labouring of the ship, which was roaring and groaning at every moment. In the large cabin I heard screaming and lamenting, and on deck it got livelier. The sailors uttered twice as many broken cries — all of a sudden the ship stopped — the engine's wheels were still thundering, because it was examined if the ship had run onto a sandbank; and this was repeated at least six times. At five o'clock the attendant came to every bed with the greeting: “We are near land!”The word “land” sounded so magical to me that I jumped down and fell to the ground because the ground was swaying violently beneath me. I threw my coat over my shoulders and crawled up the narrow stairs to breathe some air. The night was still dark. The rain hit my face and I was just about to turn back when I stopped, captivated. Through the fog I recognized the dark masts of many  p.91 ships, illuminated with red lamps, and the agility of the fantastic black figures conjured up all kinds of images and dreams in me. — At eight o'clock we entered port majestically, and sitting comfortably in the carriage, we let the engines pull us up, and onto land. After breakfasting in Liverpool and an overnight stay in Lichfield, we drove through beautiful and rich England again, right across the estates and parks of the English lords. “The King of England is the poorest of all kings,” I exclaimed, “what has he got? London is a mass of stones, but England's emerald meadows belong to the country's peers — a meadow for London!”

I love the irregularity and dark brown colour of the English house, half of which is covered with a rose hedge and half decorated with ivy; each house is a quaint little cell, and would make a pretty picture. The Irish country costumes are rags, the English costumes are black velvet frock coats, short grey pantaloons and gaiters; the wives of tenants and townsmen wear scarlet red coats. Real villages or cabins are nowhere to be seen. You drive across meadows transversed by fruit trees, and between hills covered with deciduous wood, and through clean small towns. There was an English hunting party that seemed really swashbuckling to me: The men, clad in scarlet, are flying along like crazy on splendid horses; a dozen hounds are in pursuit, and an elegant carriage with four horses follows them.

Friday the 2nd of November we stayed in Brickfield  p.92 and the next day we came to H…, the castle of Lord C… 31 The building is in the gothic style and had for a long time been the summer residence of Queen Elizabeth. The C… family is the most charming one I know, they are also enthusiastic Germanophiles, and free from the prejudice which has the German women only knit and smoke, and their men only drink and hunt bears. I had to repeat my little songs many times. In the evening at dinner I sat opposite a Persian scholar, who cheered everyone up with his mood; he told a splendid story, and one had to follow it, through thick and thin. He also spoke to us in Persian, and as far as the sound was concerned I found some affinity with my mother tongue. This was also confirmed by Mirza I… and my German heart jumped with joy.

The three days in H… flew by sweetly and only too quickly. On the fourth day we took our leave and travelled to London. The next morning I noticed the preparations for making social calls, and concluded that again, no sights would be visited. So I asked to have the day off. But since you know the sights of London by heart, dear father, I would deem it both superfluous and tiresome to reel off to you the curiosities of London. Just something on Westminster Abbey. — After I had taken the address of our apartment with me, I was alone, without any guide, following my whim, on my way to the Abbey. Soon they sent me left, then right, and caused by an impenetrable  p.93 orange-yellow fog you could see only two steps in front of you. Nevertheless, I courageously proceeded. I came through King Street. There I beheld, in the centre of high buildings, a little old barred house, flanked by guards on horseback. Curiously I approached and asked a passer-by: “Whose house is this?” Of course I imagined nothing short of a state prison, and pitied the poor prisoners with all my heart, just as any honest journeyman would pity the Kannitverstan's death 32.

“It is the King's Palace!” a grim-looking citizen or merchant grumbled rushing past, and the guard smiled. I remembered that during my first time in London the same thing had happened to me; only this time I saw the so-called King's Palace from another side, so this deception was not surprising. Finally, nearly exhausted with tiredness, I stood like a tiny beetle in front of a huge building, staring up. Imagine three Nuremberg churches, but a building twice as high as those, and strung together. After I had come to, I entered; thinking this was the Abbey; however, it was St Margaret's Church. Between it is the Peers' chamber, a venerable building, and close to this lies my dear, longed-for Westminster Abbey. A doubled up, little grey manikin who cleaned the halls of St Margaret's Church showed me the way. I could not get enough of the magnificent Abbey structure! Sixteen openwork columns or towers enclose  p.94 a giant mass in a circle, and at the very top all kinds of gargoyles and horses are attached as ornaments. The gentle and powerful sounds of the organ now drew me inside. It was just vespers time. Twelve white-clad choir boys stood at each side of the preacher, singing their psalms. I was moved, and I could neither pray nor weep, but quietly recollecting myself, I got down to my knees in devotion, looking upwards. High above, a blue mist was floating, dividing itself into feathery little clouds; the pointed swinging arches rose immeasurably, so that I believed to be looking into heaven itself. But soon the shadows grew longer around me, and the light shimmered more sparsely through the church windows: dusk fell, reminding me to go home. Yet I was wandering through the halls, some of which were fenced in or built on, a sight that dampened my enthusiasm. Of the many tombs I still remember that of Mary, Queen of Scotland, and Queen Elizabeth; their portraits are magnificent, executed in white marble. Also the statues of Addison and Handel, likewise those of Milton and Shakespeare. From Shakespeare's drama The Tempest33, the following inscription is added:

  1. The cloud-capt towers, the gorgeous palaces,
    The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
    Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve;
    And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
    Leave not a rack behind.

When I stood in front of St Margaret's Church again, the grey manikin was still swinging his broom and asked in a friendly way how I liked the abbey. “It is so beautyfull,” I said, “that even God may be pleased of it!” And he lifted his cap cheering into the air and wished me well. The yellow fog grew thicker and thicker, the lamps on the street posts were already alight, and the way back of three quarters of an hour was still before me. I walked and walked, for a little fear of getting lost was taking hold of me. Without further happenstance I happily reached home. An Englishman whom I told about my enterprising walking tour was quite taken aback, saying that he himself would never dare go out without a map in London, as it would be difficult for a lost person to get his bearings again.

On Saturday we went to Dover via Rochester in continuous heavy rain. The night was impenetrable; the sea broke with a thundering noise at the coast, while the storm came raging our way, now with whimpers, and now with loud howls. The horses laboriously dragged the carriage ... Finally we arrived at Lady B…'s house.  p.96 We rang the bell, we rapped the door, in vain. Sea and storm raged too violently, deafening everything; finally a gust of wind broke one window of the salon and only now they became aware of us. With dignity I staggered up the stairs, my teeth chattering with the cold, and a high fever descended on me so that I had to go to bed immediately. But it is quite a stretch from London to Dover. With four English horses we covered ten miles in sixty minutes.

I spent three more happy days in Dover, since the venerable grandmother leads a quiet and domestic life, which does you good. The location of Dover, with its castle and high sandstone cliffs 34, seemed new and lovely to me again. Here you will not find the noise of the big world and nature also has a language that goes directly to your heart. — After the big storm, the air was so warm that I could go to the shore dressed very lightly in the morning with my Emily. This time the crossing from Dover to Calais was particularly favoured: the sky was blue and cloudless, with a fresh breeze, and the sea so high that the ship flew like an arrow. We sat on the upper deck. To prevent seasickness, I heard, you only have to fixate an object firmly, and do not move; my unmoving gaze was set on France's coast and in between I scrutinized our company. A slender male, with a thick fur cap, had our lapdog as his object, at which he  p.97 smiled steadfastly; his neighbour burrowed in his pockets and counted; a third, his feet spread apart, bit into an apple without budging; a pale, sick lady was spending her time and dispelling her seasickness by sometimes palpably patting her chubby boy; another peered through a telescope, and the captain scurried around on the upper deck. After only three hours we made landfall in Calais. The first French sounds were those of the customs officers, but I found them lovely, and my heart cried out: Welcome, dear France! — We spent the night in Calais, and after a three-day trip we were back in Paris. Immediately I ran into our porter's lodge, hoping to find letters, and I had not been mistaken. First I kissed, and then I read your dear letter. A thousand thanks, dear father! And the most heartfelt blessings must constantly come to you.

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Title (translation, English Translation): Magdalena von Dobeneck's Letters from Ireland to Paul Johann Anselm von Feuerbach

Title (original, German): Briefe aus Irland

Author: Magdalena von Dobeneck née Feuerbach

Responsibility statement

Electronic edition compiled by: Beatrix Färber

Translated by: Beatrix Färber

Proofread by: Dorothy Convery, Hiram Morgan, and Benjamin Hazard

Funded by: The School of History, University College, Cork

Edition statement

3. Third draft, enlarged.

Extent: 19655 words

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Publisher: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College, Cork

Address: College Road, Cork, Ireland — http://www.ucc.ie/celt

Date: 2018

Date: 2019

Distributor: CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.

CELT document ID: T830003-001

Availability: Available with prior consent of the CELT programme for purposes of academic research and teaching only. CELT is grateful to Professor Emeritus Eoin Bourke for making available a hardcopy of this rare book for scanning and to Professor Emeritus Ulrich Harsch for supplying page images for pp. 92–97 (added for the third draft). I am grateful to Dortothy Convery, Hiram Morgan and Benjamin Hazad for reading my draft and suggesting improvements.

Source description

Magdalena von Dobeneck: Life and Work

  • Sechs Lieder für Singstimme mit Begleitung des Piano-Forte, etc., Nuremberg 1843.

Literature mentioned in the work

  1. Sylvester O'Halloran, An introduction to the study of the history and antiquities of Ireland: in which the assertions of Mr. Hume and other writers are occasionally considered, illustrated with copper-plates (Dublin 1772).
  2. Johann Timotheus Hermes, Sophiens Reise von Memel nach Sachsen (1769–1773). Band 1, Leipzig 1778.
  3. Jean Paul (=Johann Paul Friedrich Richter), Titan (Berlin 1800–1803 ).
  4. Paul Johann Anselm von Feuerbach, Merkwürdige Kriminalrechtsfälle (Gießen 1808; 1811).
  5. Hermann von Pückler-Muskau, Briefe eines Verstorbenen. 4 Bde; 1.–2. Theil: Ein fragmentarisches Tagebuch aus England, Wales, Irland und Frankreich, 1828–29 (Stuttgart 1831).
  6. Edward Gwynn (Hg. und übers.), The Metrical Dindshenchas. 4 Bde; Bd 4, Dublin, nachgedruckt 1991 (Erstdruck 1906), Gedicht auf Magh Slecht, p. 19ff.
  7. William Henry Bartlett, Joseph Stirling Coyne, Nathaniel Parker Willis et al., The Scenery and Antiquities of Ireland: Illustrated in one hundred and twenty engravings, from drawings by W. H. Bartlett,With Historical and Descriptive Text, 2 vols. (London 1841).
  8. Johann Peter Hebel, Kannitverstan, Rheinländischer Hausfreund 1808.

Selected further reading

  1. R.A. S. Macalister, 'Silva Focluti', Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Seventh Series, Vol. 2, No. 1, Jun. 30, 1932, 19–27.
  2. Theodor Spoerri, Genie und Krankheit. Eine psychopathologische Untersuchung der Familie Feuerbach. Basel/New York 1952.
  3. Sibylle Schönborn, Das Buch der Seele: Tagebuchliteratur zwischen Aufklärung und Kunstperiode, Studien und Texte zur Sozialgeschichte der Literatur, Band 86, Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1999.
  4. Alfred Kröner, Die Familie Feuerbach in Franken (Magisterarbeit), Aufklärung und Kritik, Sonderheft 6/2002, S. 84f.
  5. Pádraig Ó Riain, A Dictionary of Irish Saints (Dublin 2011) (with bibliography).
  6. Eoin Bourke, Poor Green Erin (Frankfurt am Main 2011) [with English translation of extracts from Dobeneck's letters].
  7. Mark Bence-Jones, A Guide to Irish Country Houses, second edition, London 1990.
  8. David Hicks, Irish country houses: a chronicle of change, Cork 2012. (This treats contry houses in general, but has nothing about Northland House.)
  9. For further details about Northland House, see http://www.parksandgardens.org/places-and-people/site/2439/references and http://archiseek.com/2010/northland-house-dungannon-co-tyrone/
  10. You will find more details about the contemporary packet boat service between Calais and Dover at https://doverhistorian.com/2015/03/21/packet-service-to-1854/
  11. Professor emeritus Ulrich Harsch, who maintains the website 'Bibliotheca Augustana' has made available scans of Helene's letters from 1831 and 1832 (written in Strasbourg and Paris) at http://www.hs-augsburg.de/~harsch/germanica/Chronologie/19Jh/Dobeneck/dob_intr.html.
  12. A Dramatization of this text (From Paris to Perry Street) was performed at Ranfurly Arts & Visitor Centre, Dungannon, Co. Tyrone, by Stephanie Lavery of Time Steps Living History, co-presented by Aidan Fee, on 17 May 2019.

The edition used in the digital edition

Dobeneck, Magdalena von (1843). Briefe und Tagebuchblätter aus Frankreich, Irland und Italien, mit einem kleinen Anhang von Compositionen und Gedichten‍. 1st ed. Nürnberg (Nuremberg): Raw.

You can add this reference to your bibliographic database by copying or downloading the following:

  title 	 = {Briefe und Tagebuchblätter aus Frankreich, Irland und Italien, mit einem kleinen Anhang von Compositionen und Gedichten},
  author 	 = {Magdalena von Dobeneck},
  edition 	 = {1},
  pages 	 = {},
  publisher 	 = {Raw},
  address 	 = {Nürnberg (Nuremberg)},
  date 	 = {1843}


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Project description: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

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The present text contains an English translation of pp 29–97 of the German volume, the first English (complete) translation, published exclusively on CELT. The translation started as an experiment, based on the commercial translation software available at www.deepl.com, to assess its suitability for a literary text. It was afterwards copy-edited, compared with the extracts provided by Eoin Bourke, and rechecked. The translation aims to be as literal as possible, taking into account that the original was written in 1832.

Editorial declarations

Correction: Text has been proofread twice at CELT.

Normalization: The electronic text represents the edited text. Footnotes and occasional explanations have been added at CELT by the translator.

Quotation: Direct speech is tagged q.

Hyphenation: Soft hyphens are silently removed. When a hyphenated word (hard or soft) crosses a page-break or line-break, this break is marked after the completion of the hyphenated word.

Segmentation: div0=the correspondence; div1=the entry; page-breaks are marked pb n=""/.

Standard values: Dates are standardized in the ISO form yyyy-mm-dd.

Interpretation: Personal names and titles of books and periodicals are tagged. Words and phrases from languages other than English are tagged.

Reference declaration

A canonical reference to a location in this text should be made using “Chapter”, eg Chapter 1.

Profile description

Creation: Original: Magdalene von Dobeneck, née Feuerbach; Translation: Beatrix Färber

Date: Original: 1832

Date: Translation: 2018/2019

Language usage

  • The text is in English. (en)
  • Some words and phrases are in French. (fr)
  • Some words and phrases are in German. (de)
  • Some words are in Irish. (ga)
  • Some words are in Italian. (it)
  • Some words are in Latin. (la)

Keywords: letters; prose; travel; Paul Johann Anselm von Feuerbach; Northern Ireland; Dungannon; Northland House; 19c; translation

Revision description

(Most recent first)

  1. 2019-06-05: Changes made to div0 type. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  2. 2019-05-29: Header modified, and footnote added to file based on Aidan Fee's findings. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  3. 2019-05-03: Translation of pp 92–97 proof-read. (ed. Dorothy Convery and Hiram Morgan)
  4. 2019-05-01: Translation of pp 92–97 proof-read. (ed. Benjamin Hazard)
  5. 2019-04-30: Translation of pp 96–97 added; header modified; file parsed, SGML and HTML files created. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  6. 2019-04-29: Translation of pp 92–95 added. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  7. 2018-03-05: Bibliographic details communicated by ulrich harsch added. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  8. 2018-01-17: Corrections and suggestions by Dorothy Convery and Hiram Morgan integrated. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  9. 2017-10-22: Translation revised. (ed. Dorothy Convery and Hiram Morgan)
  10. 2017-10-11: Header created, based on that of the companion file. More footnotes added. File parsed; new SGML and HTML files created. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  11. 2017-10: Translation checked and rechecked, electronic file marked up according to companion file; footnotes added. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  12. 2017-09: Translation created based on a commercial translation tool. (ed. Beatrix Färber)

Index to all documents

Standardisation of values

CELT Project Contacts



For details of the markup, see the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI)

page of the print edition

folio of the manuscript

numbered division

 999 line number of the print edition (in grey: interpolated)

underlining: text supplied, added, or expanded editorially

italics: foreign words; corrections (hover to view); document titles

bold: lemmata (hover for readings)

wavy underlining: scribal additions in another hand; hand shifts flagged with (hover to view)

TEI markup for which a representation has not yet been decided is shown in red: comments and suggestions are welcome.

Other languages

D830003-001: Briefe aus Irland (in German)

Source document


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  1. Johann Timotheus Hermes, Sophiens Reise von Memel nach Sachsen (1769–1773). Band 1, Leipzig 1778. 🢀

  2. This was Northland House, situated near a lake and just outside Dungannon, Co. Tyrone. It was built before 1830, with later additions. It featured a conservatory and an orangery. It is not extant any more. The demesne is known today as Dungannon Park and on the Moy Road, Dungannon. It is open to the public. The “sea” that von Dobeneck mentions is Lough Neagh. 🢀

  3. '7. April' in the printed edition is an error. 🢀

  4. Jean Paul Friedrich Richter, Titan: 95th Cycle: Liane. 🢀

  5. Paul Johann Anselm von Feuerbach, Merkwürdige Kriminalrechtsfälle, Gießen 1808 and 1811. 🢀

  6. José Melchor Gomis y Colomer, (6.1. 1791 Ontoniente, c. Valencia to 26.7. 1836 Paris). “Le Revenant”, Premiere 31.12. 1833, Paris. Gomis lived in exile in London and Paris and had other operas performed in Paris, such as Aben-Humeya, Diable à Seville, Rok le barbu, and Le portefaix. 🢀

  7. Her younger sister Elise Feuerbach (1813–1883). 🢀

  8. Schnippe or Schneppe may be a pointed piece of gauze or linen worn on the forehead by women, for example when in mourning; a pointed embroidery or piece of cloth in some (head) garments worn by women. It may also mean a beak-like spout. 🢀

  9. At the performance at Ranfurly Arts Centre, Aidan Fee identified this as Tynan Abbey in Co. Armagh, the property of Lord Stronge. The Stronges were related to the Knox family. 🢀

  10. Error for Magh Sleacht. 🢀

  11. This part is very confused, but it cannot be established if this is due to von Dobeneck or due to her informant. An alternative name for Magh Sleacht was Magh Slécht, the plain of prostration, and the part of the story about people bowing down may relate to this. The story of Crom(m) Cruach is related in the poem on Mag Slecht, Metrical Dindshenchas, vol. 4, p. 19, ed. Edward Gwynn, Dublin repr. 1991, and available on CELT (https://celt.ucc.ie/published/T106500D/index.html). 🢀

  12. General Charles Vallancey first put forward the hypothesis that there were ancient links between the Phoenicians and the Irish, maintaining that the Irish round towers in Ireland were originally fire temples. This opinion was controversial and refuted at last by George Petrie. For a near-contemporary summary, see Thomas Davis, The Round Towers of Ireland, available at CELT (https://celt.ucc.ie/published/E800002-015/). 🢀

  13. Her account is by no means to be taken at face value. It has been completely superseded by modern scholarship, as is evident from the fine summary given in Pádraig Ó Riain's Dictionary of Irish Saints, p. 526–533. 🢀

  14. See R. A. S. Macalister, 'Silva Focluti', Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Seventh Series, Vol. 2, No. 1, Jun. 30, 1932, 19–27. 🢀

  15. Dublin did not exist yet. 🢀

  16. Today's Croagh Patrick. 🢀

  17. Fiac, Fiacc, or Fiach, bishop of Sleibhte, Sleaty, or Slatty, Co. Laois. See P. Ó Riain, Dictionary of Irish Saints, p. 315f. 🢀

  18. Transcription error f. Sabhul. 🢀

  19. Pietro Metastasio, pseudonym of Pietro Antonio Domenico Trapassi (1698–1782), a famous Italian poet and librettist. 🢀

  20. A song written by Vienna composer Ferdinand Raimund (1790–1836) for his work “Das Mädchen aus der Feenwelt oder Der Bauer als Millionär” (Premiere 1826). 🢀

  21. A reference to E.T.A. Hoffmann's Johannes Kreisler's, des Kapellmeisters musikalische Leiden (1815) [The Musical Sufferings of Johannes Kreisler, Music Director]. 🢀

  22. A popular Austrian air which was used by Beethoven in his Opus 105, Variations for piano and flute or violin no. 3, 1819. 🢀

  23. Johann Christoph Adelung (1732–1806), an influential German lexicographer, philologist and librarian, who compiled the authoritative dictionary of Standard German (Grammatisch-kritische Wörterbuch der hochdeutschen Mundart), which does not contain this entry. 🢀

  24. An allusion to Magnus Gottfried Lichtwer's (1719–1783) poem Die Katzen und der Hausherr. [See www.epoesie.org/2011/03/magnus-gottfried-lichtwer-die-katzen.html]. 🢀

  25. Sylvester O'Halloran, An introduction to the study of the history and antiquities of Ireland: in which the assertions of Mr. Hume and other writers are occasionally considered, illustrated with copper-plates (Dublin 1772). 🢀

  26. “Die Uhr schlägt keinem Glücklichen.” Friedrich von Schiller, Wallenstein, III, 3. 🢀

  27. This cave lies west of the Giants Causeway, in county Antrim, and was only accessible by water. For a contemporary description see The Scenery and Antiquities of Ireland, Illustrated in one hundred and twenty engravings, from drawings by W. H. Bartlett, Band 2, Kapitel 5: http://www.libraryireland.com/SceneryIreland/2-V-4.php 🢀

  28. Error for Claude Joseph Vernet (1714–1789). 🢀

  29. Christoph von Schmid (1768–1854) wrote stories for children, such as Die Ostereier [The Easter Eggs] (1816) und Wie Heinrich von Eichenfels zur Erkenntnis Gottes kam (1817). 🢀

  30. Usually this day is celebrated on 12 July, not June. Formerly there was a celebration on 23 October too, to mark the outcome of the Irish Rebellion of 1641, but this faded in popularity by the end of the 18th century. 🢀

  31. Lord Cecil at Hatfield House. I owe this reference to Hiram Morgan. 🢀

  32. Kannitverstan: Title of a short story by Johann Peter Hebel (1808). 🢀

  33. Act IV, Scene 1. 🢀

  34. Not sandstone, but chalk. 🢀


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