My Life — Volume 1 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 773 pages of information about My Life — Volume 1.
as the two and a half years which I had spent in Paris, to see the ravages that want had wrought among good, noble, and sometimes even distinguished men.  Kietz, for whose future I was concerned, less on grounds of health than of morals, touched our hearts once more by his boundless and almost childlike good-nature.  Fancying, for instance, that I might not have enough money for the journey, he forced me, in spite of all resistance, to accept another five-franc piece, which was about all that remained of his own fortune at the moment:  he also stuffed a packet of good French snuff for me into the pocket of the coach, in which we at last rumbled through the boulevards to the barriers, which we passed but were unable to see this time, because our eyes were blinded with tears.



The journey from Paris to Dresden at that time took five days and nights.  On the German frontier, near Forbach, we met with stormy weather and snow, a greeting which seemed inhospitable after the spring we had already enjoyed in Paris.  And, indeed, as we continued our journey through our native land once more, we found much to dishearten us, and I could not help thinking that the Frenchmen who on leaving Germany breathed more freely on reaching French soil, and unbuttoned their coats, as though passing from winter into summer, were not so very foolish after all, seeing that we, for our part, were now compelled to seek protection against this conspicuous change of temperature by being very careful to put on sufficient clothing.  The unkindness of the elements became perfect torture when, later on, between Frankfort and Leipzig, we were swept into the stream of visitors to the Great Easter Fair.

The pressure on the mail-coaches was so great, that for two days and a night, amid ceaseless storm, snow and rain, we were continually changing from one wretched ‘substitute’ to another, thus turning our journey into an adventure of almost the same type as our former voyage at sea.

One solitary flash of brightness was afforded by our view of the Wartburg, which we passed during the only sunlit hour of this journey.  The sight of this mountain fastness, which, from the Fulda side, is clearly visible for a long time, affected me deeply.  A neighbouring ridge further on I at once christened the Horselberg, and as we drove through the valley, pictured to myself the scenery for the third act of my Tannhauser.  This scene remained so vividly in my mind, that long afterwards I was able to give Desplechin, the Parisian scene-painter, exact details when he was working out the scenery under my direction.  If I had already been impressed by the significance of the fact that my first journey through the German Rhine district, so famous in legend, should have been made on my way home from Paris, it seemed an even more ominous coincidence that my first sight of Wartburg, which was so rich in historical and mythical associations, should come just at this moment.  The view so warmed my heart against wind and weather, Jews and the Leipzig Fair, that in the end I arrived, on 12th April, 1842, safe and sound, with my poor, battered, half-frozen wife, in that selfsame city of Dresden which I had last seen on the occasion of my sad separation from my Minna, and my departure for my northern place of exile.

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My Life — Volume 1 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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