At 2:30 p.m., I left Bonn by rail for Mehlen, (5 miles further up), where I crossed the Rhine on a ferry and came to Koenigswinter on its right bank. Southeast of this village lie “The Seven Mountains” (Siebengebirge). From the Drachenfels (1,066 feet high) the view is the most picturesque, and this one, about a mile from the village, I ascended. Donkeys and donkey boys are found here in aboundance, but I would have nothing to do with the donkey, and immediately set out to make the ascent on foot. I did not come far before a girl crowned me, with a wreath made of leaves, and asked me to buy it. The scenery is so romantic, here, that many will yield to the importunities of these poor girls and give them a groschen (21/2 cents) and make the rest of their journeys with wreaths of leaves upon their hats! The ruins of the castle of Drachenfels (or dragon’s rock) erected in the beginning of the 12th century, is near the summit of the peak. The cavern of the dragon may be seen from the Rhine half way up the hill. “This dragon was slain by Sigfried, the hero from the Low Countries, who, having bathed himself in its blood, became invulnerable.”
The summit of Drachenfels commands one of the noblest prospects of the Rhine. Here sat Byron when he wrote the following beautiful lines:
“The castled crag of Drachenfels
Frowns o’er the wide and winding Rhine,
Whose breast of waters broadly swells
Between the banks which hear the vine;
And hills all rich with blossomed trees,
And fields which promise corn and wine
And scattered cities crowning these,
Whose far white walls along them shine,
Have strew’d a scene which I should see
With double joy went thou with me.”
While luxuriating here amidst these grand and beautiful scenes of the Rhine, we were visited, by a shower, after which I enjoyed the sublime sight of looking down upon a rainbow which stood in the valley below me!
That evening I rode by rail to Ehrenbreitstein which is opposite to Coblentz.
On Saturday afternoon, August 14th, I prepared a programme of my contemplated trip through South Germany, Switzerland, Italy and the East, which, together with several hundred cards, I got printed in the afternoon. By means of these programmes I informed my correspondents in America, in which cities I would look for mail matter and at what times I expected to reach them.
Mr. Elmer, of the Coblentzer Volkszeitung, told me that the dialects of the German language are so different, that the people of Coblentz and those of Cologne can scarcely understand each other when they speak their peculiar dialects.