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first withdrawn from our sight by increasing illness, and then for ever torn away by death. Her departure was of the greater importance to the family, because it drew after it an entire change in our condition,
As long as my grandmother lived, my father had avoided making the smallest change or renovation in the house; but it was well known that he had determined on a great deal of building, which was now immediately begun. In Frankfort, as in many other old towns, people, in raising wooden structures, had ventured, in order to gain space, to make not only the first, but each successive floor, project beyond the lower one; by which, indeed, the narrower streets especially became dark and confined. At last a law was made, that whoever built a house new from the ground, could make only the first story come out beyond the ground floor, but must build the others perpendicular. My father, in order not to lose the projecting space even in the second floor, little concerned for outward architectural appearance, and anxious only about the good and convenient arrangement of the interior, used the expedient, as many had done before him, of under-propping the upper parts of the house, then taking away one part after another from below, and, as it were, inserting the new, so that when at last almost nothing was left of the former building, yet the whole new one could still pass for having been only a reparation. Now, as the demolition and construction took place gradually, my father determined not to leave the house, that he might the better carry on his inspection, and give his orders, for he understood perfectly the technical part of building; and moreover he did not wish his family to leave him. This new epoch was very surprising and extraordinary to the children. The rooms, in which they had often felt themselves narrowly confined, and had been wearied with unjoyous learning and labour-the pas. sages they had played in-the walls, for the cleanness and preservation of which so much pains had always been taken to see all this fall before the mason's pick, the carpenter's axe, and this from below upwards, and all the while supported on propped beams above, as it were to hover in the air, and still to be kept at some precise
lesson, some definite labour-all this produced a confusion in the young heads, which could not very easily be put to rights again. But by the young ones the discomfort was the less felt, because they had somewhat more room for play left them than before, and had many opportunities of balancing on beams and seesawing on boards.
At first my father obstinately carried through his plan. But when at last even the roof was partly taken off, and in spite of the tarpaulins, made of worn-out carpets, that were stretched . over, the rain got to our beds, he determined, though unwillingly, that the kind friends, who had before offered it, should have charge of the children for a time, and that they should go to a [daily] public school.
This transition had much in it that was unpleasant. For when children, who at home had been kept apart in purity and refinement, though with strictness, were thrown down into a rude mass of young creatures, they had quite unexpectedly to suffer every thing from the vulgar, the malicious, even the base, because they had neither weapons nor skill to protect themselves.
Precisely at this time it was that I first gained a knowledge of my native city. And so gradually, with more of freedom and less of hindrance, sometimes alone, and sometimes with merry play fellows, I made my way up and down it.
In order at all to convey the impression which that grave and dignified object made on me, I must here at once introduce a description of my birthplace, as in its different parts it successively unfolded itself before me. I liked best to walk upon the great Maine Bridge-[Bridge of the Maine.] Its length, its solidity, its handsomeness, made it a remarkable building. It is also almost the only monument from earlier times, of that care which the civil government owes to its citizens. The fine river above and below attracted my eyes; and when the golden cock upon the bridge-cross glittered in the sun, it always gave me a pleasant feeling. Then I commonly walked on through Sachsenhausen, and for a farthing [kreuzer, one-third of a penny] I was ferried comfortably across the stream. Now, being again on this side, one went to the wine-market, and admired the mẹ◄
chanism of the cranes where goods were unloaded. But there was peculiar amusement in the arrival of the market-boats, when one saw so many, and among them such strange figures, step on land. When within the city itself, the Saalhof, which occupied at least the site where the Castle of Charlemagne and his successors stood, was always reverently honoured. One liked to lose one's-self in the old trading town, and especially on market-days, in the midst of the crowd that gathers round the Bartholomew Church. Here, from the earliest times, the throng of venders and shopkeepers had pressed together; and, on account of such a seizure of the place, it was difficult in later days to find room for a spacious and clear arrangement. The booths of the so-called Pfarreisen, were very important for us children; and we took thither many a halfpenny to buy us sheets of paper stamped with golden animals. But seldom, however, could one push across the small, crammed, and dirty market-place. I remember, too, that I always hastened with horror past the narrow and odious meat-stalls which bordered on it. But the Roman-Hill, [Römer-Berg,] on the contrary, was pleasant for walking. The way to the New Town, through the new shop quarter, was always animating and pleasant; only it vexed us that there was not a straight street near the Church of the Virgin, [Lieb Frauen Kirche,] and that we were always compelled to make the great round by the Hare Street, [Hasengasse,] or the Catharine Gate. But that which most attracted the notice of the child was the many small towns within the town, the fortresses within the fortress; that is to say, the earliest monastic enclosures, and the precincts still remaining from earlier ages, more or less resembling castles, such as the Nuremberg Court, the Compostella, the Braumfels, the ancestral house of the Stallburgs, and several strongholds, turned in later times into dwellings and warehouses. No architecture that could elevate the mind was then to be seen in Frankfort. All pointed to a period long gone by, when both town and district were much disquieted. Gates and towers, which marked the bounds of the old city; then again, farther off, gates, towers, walls, bridges,
mounds, ditches, by which the new city was surrounded-all told but too plainly that these arrangements had been caused in disturbed times, by the necessity of securing the common existence; so that the squares, the streets, even the new, the broader, and handsomer, owed their origin only to accident and caprice, and not to any methodizing mind. A certain liking
for the ancient fixed itself in the boy, and was particularly fed and favoured by old chronicles and woodcuts-for example, those of Grave-representing the siege of Frankfort. Along with which, another and different taste developed itself-for observing the states of human life, in their variety and naturalness, without any further care for their importance or beauty. Thus, it was one of our favourite walks, which we tried to indulge in some twice a-year, to follow the circuit of the path inside the city walls. Gardens, courts, back-buildings, run up to the foot of the ramparts; and one sees several thousand men in their domestic, small, separate, concealed holes. From the ornamental and show-gardens of the rich, to the herbgardens of the citizen intent upon his comfort; from thence to the manufactories, bleaching-grounds, and similar establishments, and even to the burial-ground-for a little world lay within the precincts of the city-one passed by the most varied, most wondrous spectacle, changing at every step, so that our childish curiosity could never be satiated with enjoying it; for, in truth, the well-known limping devil, when he lifted off the roofs of Madrid for his friend at night, hardly did more for him than was here accomplished for us under the open sky, and in bright sunshine. The keys, which were required in this walk, in order to pass through many a tower, stair, and postern, were in the hands of the official authorities, and we did not fail to do our best in coaxing their subalterns.
Still more important, and in another sense more fruitful for us, continued to be the Council-house, called from the Romans. In its lower vault-like halls, we very willingly lost ourselves. We obtained the means of entrance into the large and extremely simple session-chamber of the council. The walls, wainscoted up to a certain height, were otherwise white, as was
the arched cieling; and the whole was without a trace of painting or any kind of carved work. Only high on the middle wall was read the short inscription,
"One man's word
Is no man's word:
They should both alike be heard." After the most ancient fashion, benches for the members of this assembly were placed around against the wainscoting, and raised a step from the floor. Then we easily perceived why the order of ranks in our senate was arranged in benches. From the left hand of the door on to the opposite corner sat the councilmen, [Schöffen;] in the corner itself the chief magistrate, [Schultheiss,] the only one who had a small table before him. To his left, as far as the wall in which were the windows, sat those of the second bench. Along the window ran the third bench, which the handicraftsmen occupied. In the middle of the hall stood a table for the Registrar.
Once within the Roman-house, [Im Römer,] we even mixed in the crowd at the audiences of the burgomasters. But all which related to the election and crowning of the Emperor, had a greater charm. We contrived to gain the favour of the keepers, so as to be allowed to mount the new, gay, frescopainted imperial staircase, which was generally closed with a grating. The election-chamber, with its purple hangings and wonderfully-fringed gold borders, filled us with reverence. The representations of animals, on which little children or genii, invested with the imperial ornaments and sustaining the insignia of the empire, played a wondrous part, were observed by us with great attention; and we even hoped that we might live to see one day a coronation with our own eyes.
We could be moved only with much trouble out of the great imperial hall when we had once succeeded in slipping in; and we reckoned him our truest friend, who, while we looked at the half-lengths of all the emperors: painted around at a certain height, would tell us something of their deeds. We listened eagerly to many a legend of Charlemagne. But that which was historically interesting for us, began first with Rudolph of Hapsburg, who, by his manhood, put an end to such prodigious confusions. Charles
the Fourth also attracted our notice. We had already heard of the Golden Bull, and the Law of Criminal Judicature, and also that he had not made the Frankforters suffer for their adhesion to his noble rival Emperor, Gunther of Schwarzburg. We heard Maximilian praised as a friend to mankind, and to the townsmen, his subjects, and were also told that it had been prophesied of him he would be the last emperor of a German house; which unhappily proved true, as after his death the choice remained only between the King of Spain, Charles V., and the King of France, Francis I. With some anxiety, it was added, that now once more a similar prophecy, or rather prognostic, was abroad; for it was obvious that there was room left for the portrait of only one more emperor-a fact which, although it appeared accidental, filled the patriotic with concern.
Having once begun this kind of walk, we did not fail to betake ourselves to the cathedral, and there to visit the grave of that brave Gunther so valued both by friend and foe. The door close by, which leads into the conclave, remained long shut against us, until we at last managed, through the higher authorities, to gain access also to this important place. But we should have done better had we continued as before to paint it in our imagination; for we found this room, which is so remarkable in German history, where the most powerful princes used to meet for an act of such weightiness, by no means worthily adorned, but disfigured, even within, by beams, poles, scaffolding, and similar lumber, which people had wanted to put out of the way. So much the more was the imagination excited, and the heart raised, when, soon after, we received permission to be present in the Council-house, at the exhibition of the Golden Bull to some distinguished strangers.
The boy heard afterwards, with much eagerness, what his family, as well as other older relations and acuaintances willingly told and repeated qnamely, the histories of the two last coronations which had followed fast on one another. For there was no Frankforter of a certain age who would not have reckoned these two events, and their accompaniments, as the pinnacle of his whole life. Splen
If the coronation of Francis I. was not so strikingly splendid as the former one, yet was it dignified by the presence of the Empress Maria Theresa, whose beauty seemed to have made as great an impression on the men, as the grave and dignified form and the blue eyes of Charles VII. on the women-at least, both sexes rivaled each other in giving to the attentive boy a highly advantageous conception of those two persons. All these descriptions and narrations occurred in the midst of easy and tranquilized feelings; for the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle had for the moment put an end to all contention; and, as if speaking only of those former solemnities, people talked with satisfaction of the past warfare, and of the battle of Dettingen, and the other chief events belonging to the bygone year; and all of important and dangerous seemed, as is usual after the conclusion of a peace, to have happened only for the amusement of the prosperous and unconcerned.
When one had passed through scarcely half a year in this patriotic narrowness of interest, the time of the fairs returned, which always produced an incredible fermentation in the heads of all children. A new town springing up suddenly within the town itself, by the erection of so many booths the roll and crush, the unloading and packing up of goods-continued to excite, even from the first moments of consciousness, an inconquerable busy curiosity, and a boundless longing for childish property, which the boy with increasing years endeavoured to satisfy, now in one way, now in another, as the powers of his little purse permitted. But at the same time, also, an image was formed of all that the world produces, all it needs, and all that the inhabitants of its different regions exchange with
These great epochs, happening in spring and autumn, were announced
by strange solemnities, which appeared the more dignified because they vividly brought before us, as present, the ancient time, and what had descended from it to us. On escortday [Geleitstag] the whole people were on their legs, thronged to the Fahrgass, to the bridge, and away beyond Sachsenhausen, and all the windows were filled. Yet throughout the day nothing particular took place. The crowd appeared to be there only for the sake of the crush, and the spectators only that they might look at each other; for the matter really in hand did not occur till night was closing in, and was rather believed than seen with eyes.
This was the affair: In those old restless times, when every one did wrong at his own pleasure, or according to his liking helped the right, the traffickers going to the fair were arbitrarily infested, and harassed by waylayers of noble or vulgar birth, so that princes and other great powers had their people escorted to Frankfort with the armed hand. Now, the burghers of the imperial city would yield nothing of the privileges belonging to themselves and their district. They went out to meet the comers; and many a dispute arose how far the escorts should advance, and even whether they had a right to claim entrance into the city. But as this occurred not only with regard to the traders and the fairs, but also when high personages came, in times either of war or peace, and especially at the elections of emperors; and as even violence was frequently resorted to when any retinue, which the citizens would not permit to enter, tried to force its way along with its lord, many negotiations, therefore, had long been carried on, and many treaties had been concluded on the subject, though always with reservation of rights on both sides. Nay, the hope had not been abandoned of at last settling, once for all, a quarrel which had lasted for centuries, when the whole institution, on account of which it had been so long and often very passionately carried on, might be regarded as nearly useless, and at all events superfluous.
Meanwhile, the city cavalry, in several parties, with the commanders at their heads, rode out on those days to different gates, and found, at a certain place, some troopers or hussars of the
powers entitled to send escorts, who, together with their leaders, were well received and entertained. They waited till towards evening, and then rode back into the city, hardly visible to the expecting crowd, many a city trooper being by that time unable to hold his horse, or to hold himself upon it. The most important bands came in by the Bridge-gate, and so the throng was thickest there. Quite at the last, and when night was closing, arrived the Nuremberg post-coach, similarly escorted, and people persuaded themselves that, according to custom, it must always contain an old woman. For this reason, on the arrival of the coach, the street boys used to break out in a long-resounding shout, although it was no longer at all possible to distinguish the passengers sitting within, Incredible, and really enough to confuse the brain, was the press of people who at this moment crushed in after the coach through the Bridge-gate. The nearest houses to it were therefore those the most frequented by spectators.
Another, and even a far more peculiar solemnity, which occupied the public in broad daylight, was the piper's sitting, [Pfeifergericht.] This ceremony recalled those early times when important trading cities sought, if not to abolish entirely, yet at least to diminish the tolls which increased in the same degree as trade and industry. The Emperor, who had need of the towns, granted them this immunity when it was in his power, but commonly for only one year, and therefore it needed to be annually renewed. This was done by symbolic gifts, which were presented before the opening of the St Bartholomew Fair, to the imperial magistrate, who was also, perhaps, sometimes the chief tollmaster; and it was done, for the greater dignity, when he was sitting in judgment with the councilmen ; as when the chief magistrate was afterwards no longer appointed by the Emperor, but was chosen by the city itself, he still preserved these privileges, and both the immunities of the cities, and the ceremonies with which the deputies of Worms, Nuremberg, and OldBamberg acknowledged this primitive concession, had descended to our times. The day before Lady-day an open court was proclaimed. In an enclosed space in the great Imperial
Hall, the councilmen sat on high, a step higher the magistrate in the midst of them, and below, on the right hand, the lawyer, who represented the litigating parties. The registrar begins to read aloud the important decisions which had been postponed until this day; the lawyers ask for copies, appeal, or do whatever they find requisite.
Suddenly an extraordinary music seems to announce the entry of other ages. It is three pipers, one of whom blows an ancient shawm, the next a bure, the third a pommer or hautboy. They wear blue mantles bordered with gold, and have the music-notes fastened on their sleeves, and their heads covered. In this guise they had left their inn, followed by the ambas sadors and their attendants, precisely at ten o'clock, to the admiration of natives and foreigners, and so they come into the hall. The law business stops, the pipers and their train stay before the railing, the ambassador steps within, and places himself in front of the chief magistrate. The symbolic gifts, which were required to follow most accurately the ancient custom, consisted usually of those wares in which the city presenting them was chiefly wont to deal. Pepper passed in a manner for every thing else, and thus even here, the ambassador brought a handsomely turned wooden goblet filled with pepper. Upon it lay a pair of gloves strangely slashed, stitched, and tasselled with silk, a token of a concession granted and accepted, such as the emperor himself employed in certain cases. Along with this was a white rod, which formerly could not well be omitted in legal and judicial proceedings. Some small pieces of silver money were added; and the city of Worms brought an ancient felt hat, which was always redeemed again, so that the same one had been for many years a witness of these ceremonies.
After the deputy had made his address, delivered his present, and received from the magistrate the assurance of continued favour, he left the enclosed circle, the pipers blew, the train departed as it had come, the court pursued its business, until the second, and at last the third deputy had been introduced. For they came the one some time after the other; partly that thereby the pleasure of the public might last the longer, partly