The river roared at last somewhat louder, and on looking down the bank, I saw rocks and rapids, and a few houses built on the edge of the stream. Thinking it must be near the fall, we went down the path, and lo! on crossing a little wooden bridge, the whole affair burst in sight! Judge of our surprise at finding a fall of fifteen feet, after we had been led to expect a tremendous leap of forty or fifty, with all the accompaniment of rocks and precipices. Of course the whole descent of the river at the place was much greater, and there were some romantic cascades over the rocks which blocked its course. Its greatest beauty consisted in the color of the water—the brilliant green of the waves being broken into foam of the most dazzling white—and the great force with which it is thrown below.
The Traunstein grew higher as we approached, presenting the same profile till we had nearly reached Gmunden. From the green upland meadows above the town, the view of the mountain range was glorious, and I could easily conceive the effect of the Unknown Student’s appeal to the people to fight for those free hills. I think it is Howitt who relates the incident—one of the most romantic in German history. Count Pappenheim led his forces here in the year 1626, to suppress a revolution of the people of the whole Salzburg region, who had risen against an invasion of their rights by the Austrian government. The battle which took place on these meadows was about being decided in favor of the oppressors, when a young man, clad as a student, suddenly appeared and addressed the people, pointing to the Alps above them and the sweet lake below, and asking if that land should not be free. The effect was electrical; they returned to the charge and drove back the troops of Pappenheim, who were about taking to flight, when the unknown leader fell, mortally wounded. This struck a sudden panic through his followers, and the Austrians turning again, gained a complete victory. But the name of the brave student is unknown, his deed unsung by his country’s bards, and almost forgotten.
THE UNKNOWN STUDENT.
Ha! spears on Gmunden’s
And banners on the wood-crowned height!
Rank after rank, their helmets’ sheen
Sends back the morning light!
Where late the mountain maiden sang,
The battle-trumpet’s brazen clang
Vibrates along the air;
And wild dragoons wheel o’er the plain.
Trampling to earth the yellow grain,
From which no more the merry swain
His harvest sheaves shall bear.
The eagle, in his sweep at
To meet the monarch-sun on high,
Heard the unwonted warrior’s horn
Peal faintly up the sky!
He saw the foemen, moving slow
In serried legions, far below,
Against that peasant-band,
Who dared to break the tyrant’s thrall
And by the sword of Austria fall,
Or keep the ancient Right of all,
Held by their mountain-land;