Billeder på siden

prince immediately, he observed, to the no little surprise of the officer" It is useless my going, the prince will never employ me." Upon being pressed to state his reasons, he declined assigning any; but as the order of the messenger was peremptory, he followed him, and was immediately admitted to Murat, with whom he stayed about ten minutes, and then retired. As he quitted the house in which the prince lodged, he observed to the aidede-camp," I told you the prince would not employ me" he has dismissed me with this," displaying a purse of ducats. Upon being again pressed to explain the reason of this singular conduct, he replied, "The Prince Murat, when a boy, was apprenticed to a biscuit baker in the south of France, at the time I was a journeyman to him, and I have often threshed him for being idle; the moment he saw me just now, he instantly remembered me, and without entering into the subject of our ancient acquaintance, or of that which led me to his presence, he hastily took his purse of ducats from the drawer of the table where he sat, gave it to me, and ordered me to retire."

[ocr errors]

The heroic courage which Murat displayed in the campaign of 1797, when in conjunction with Duphoz, at the head of their respective divisions, they plunged into the deep and impetuous stream of Tagliamento, gained the opposite banks, and drove the Austrians, headed by their able and amiable general, the Archduke Charles, as far as the confines of Carnithia and Carniola; and the numerous battles in which he distinguished himself in Egypt, and afterwards at Montebello and Marengo, where at the head of his cavalry, he successfully supported the brilliant and eventful movement of Dessaix, will rank him in the page of history amongst the most illustrious of those consummate generals, which the fermentation of the French revolution has elevated from the depths of obscurity. In Egypt he was high in the confidence of Napoleon, whom he accompanied with Lasnes, Andreossi, Bessieres, and several members of the Egyptian Institute, when Bonaparte effected his memorable passage from his army to Frejus, in August 1799. Upon the death of General Le Clerc, who was united to a sister of Napoleon, Murat paid his addresses to, and espoused his

widow,* with the entire approbation of his great comrade in arms, by whom he was, upon his elevation to the imperial throne, created a prince of the empire, and at length raised to the rank of a sovereign. He is reserved and unostentatious, and is seldom visible to his people. Some of the Westphalians, who are attached to the ancient order of things, have a joke amongst themselves at the expense of their new prince, whose christian name being Joachim, they pronounce it with an accompanying laugh, Jachim, which means " drive him away;" and there is very little difference in the pronunciation.

As Dusseldorf had infinitely less charms for me than it had for the grand Dutchess, I was as well pleased to quit it, as she was disinclined to enter it; so mounting my cabriolet, for which I was obliged to make the best bargain I could with the post-master, I set off for Cologne, the road to which is far more pleasant than any other part of the dutchy which I saw, though the whole is very flat. About six miles from Dusseldorf, I passed a beautiful country palace of the grand Duke, called Benrad, composed of a range of semicircular buildings detached from each other, standing upon the summit of a gentle slope, at the bottom of which is a large circular piece of water. The grand Duke makes this place his principal residence, and very seldom goes to that in the neighbourhood of the city more than twice in the week, to give audience and transact affairs of state, which, as the government is entirely despotic, are managed with ease and despatch. The appearance of the body-guard at the entrance announced that the prince was at this place when I passed it: the grounds and gardens, seen from the road, appear to be tastefully arranged. Although the road is sandy, yet it is infinitely preferable, I was informed, to crossing the ferry at Dusseldorf, and proceeding by that route to Cologne. After passing Muhlheim, a very neat town, the suburbs of which is adorned with some handsome country houses, I entered, about a mile further, the village of Deutz, and beheld the venerable city

*This is a mistake of the author. Prince Murat married Napoleon's youngest sister, who had not been previously married. Le Clerc's widow is married to Prince Borghese. Amer. Editor.

of Cologne, separated by the Rhine, immediately before me. At one end of the village is a large convent of Carmelites, and on the day of my arrival a religious fete was celebrating, at which nearly all the population of the place and neighbourhood assisted, and the streets were enlivened with little booths, in which crosses and 'ornaments of gold lace and beads were tastefully exposed to the eye.

The bell of the flying bridge summoned me on board, and in about five minutes I found myself in the French empire, attended by French custom-house officers in green costume, who conducted me to the Douane. This ferry cannot fail to impress the mind and excite the curiosity of a stranger: it is formed of a broad platform resting upon two large barges, like our coal lighters; from this platform a vast wooden frame in the shape of a gallows is erected, which is fastened to the former by strong chains of iron, whilst from the centre cross piece, a chain of the same metal of great length, is fixed to the top of an upright pole standing in each of a long line of boats, the remotest of which is at anchor; by this machinery a powerful pressure is obtained; to each of the barges a rudder is affixed, which, upon being placed in an oblique direction, produces a lateral motion upon the stream, which acts as a force from above; so that by changing the rudder to the right or left, the bridge is forced on one side or the other of the river, with equal certainty and celerity. Fifteen hundred persons can with perfect ease be transported at the same time upon these bridges, and carriages and horses are driven upon them without any stoppage, from the banks, to which they are lashed, until put in motion. The Germans call this machine the Fliegende SchiffsBrücke, or the volant bridge of boats; the Dutch geer burg, or the bridge in shackles, in allusion to its chains; and the French le pont volant, or the flying bridge.

The search made by the custom-house officers amongst my fellow-passengers, most of whom had only just crossed and recrossed the river, was very rigorous; the females were marched up to a small house, where, as I discovered by accidentally opening the door, and offending as the elders did when they took a lawless peep at Susanna, to the no small delight of those who were loung

ing without, and of embarrassment to those within, they underwent a private examination by two matrons, appointed for the purpose.

At this place I expected some difficulty; but upon my declaring myself an American, and showing my pass, and just opening my trunk, the officers, with great politeness, called a porter to carry my luggage into the city, and pulling off their hats, recommended me to La Cour Imperiale, one of the best hotels, where I arrived just in time to sit down to a splendid table d'hôte, at which several beautiful and well-dressed ladies, German noblemen, and French officers, were present.

This city was formerly celebrated for the number of its devotees and prostitutes, which the French police has very much reduced. The first object I visited, was the cathedral, which, from the water appears like a stupendous fragment, that had withstood the shock of war, or some convulsion of nature, by which the rest of the pile had been prostrated; but upon inquiry, I found that it owed its mutilated appearance to no such event, but to the obstacles which have occurred for ages in completing it, according to its original design. In the year 1248, Conrad, the elector and bishop of Hocksteden, in the pride and exultation of holy enthusiasm, resolved to erect a temple to God, which should have no equal in size and magnificence; it was intended that the two western towers should have been five hundred feet in elevation, and the nave or body of the church in proportion, and every external stone which the eye could perceive, decorated with the most exquisite ornament of pure gothic architecture. The successors of the prince bishop, who resembled in the splendor of his spirit the emperor who so elegantly wished to leave the town stone, which he had found brick, continued the building for two centuries and a half; but owing to their resources being insufficient, they were obliged to leave it in a very imperfect state, but capable of being used for religious purposes. There is no building of the kind to compare with it, but the Duomo at Milan. One of the western towers, which I ascended, is about two hundred and fifty feet high, from which there is a fine view of the city, the Rhine, and the surrounding country; the other tower is not above forty feet high. The roof

of the greater part of the body of the church is temporary and low; but so spacious is the area which it covers, that one hundred massy pillars, arranged in four rows, present a light and airy appearance upon it. My guide, who was a good humoured intelligent man, with many significant shrugs of regret, informed me, that the moveable decorations of the church and altar were once worthy of a stranger's attention; but that the generals of the French armies, during the revolution, had pillaged this holy sanctuary of its richest ornaments; however, the grand altar in the choir was not sufficiently portable for their rapacious hands, and remains to show the magnificent scale upon which every part of the cathedral was originally designed. This altar is formed of one solid block, of the finest sable marble, sixteen feet long and eight broad, placed upon the summit of a flight of steps.

The treasury, or as it is called the golden chamber, contains the robes of the priests, which are very magnificent, arranged with great care and order in several ward-robes; and busts of saints and holy utensils in gold and silver, many of which were once encrusted with the most precious stones, but which had been removed by the French, and their places supplied by paste. Amongst the still costly contents of this chamber, I noticed a small tomb of a priest in solid gold and silver, and a skull of St. Peter, of the same precious metal. In this room were several ladies, who appeared to be under the strongest influence of Roman Catholic enthusiasm; not a robe or a relic was exhibited, which did not draw forth some fervidly pious exclamation.

I was shewn, as a marvelous curiosity, the mausoleum of the Three Kings, behind the grand altar towards the east, where the bodies of these personages, and those of the martyrs, Gregory of Spoleto, and Felix Nabor, repose. The bones of the three kings are said to have been brought away by the emperor Frederick Barbarossa, when he sacked Milan, and presented to the archbishop Bernauld of Dassalde, who attended him in his military exploits, and who deposited them near Bonn, from whence they were transferred to the spot where their mausoleum was afterwards erected, before the building of the present cathedral in the

« ForrigeFortsæt »