« AnteriorContinuar »
CHRISTIAN PARLOR MAGAZINE.
THE VAL H A L L A.
BY R. BAIRD, D. D.
(SEE PLATE.) One of the routes from Nuremburg to Augsburg Cathedral, which is one of the finest Gothic lies through the city of Ratisbon, which is sixty- churches in all Germany. It was begun in five English miles distant from the former, and 1263, and finished in 1488. The interior has a eighty from the latter.
gloomy appearance, occasioned by the imperfect Ratisbon was a military post of the Romans, transmission of the light through its many paintand called by them Castra Regina. It stands ed glass windows, some of which are ancient, on the right or southern bank of the Danube. and some modern ; the latter were presented by Its name in German
Regensburg. A stone the present king of Bavaria.* From bridge of 1092 feet in length connects the city
this cathedral there is an admirable view of the with the suburb of Stadt-am-Hof, which lies on surrounding country, and of the banks of the the left bank of the Danube. This village was Danube, far above and below the city. The almost totally destroyed by the French in the Valhalla, as seen from this point, rises beaustorming of Ratisbon in the year 1809. In tifully on the lofty bank of the river, at the disthat desperate action Napoleon was wounded in tance of six miles to the east. the foot. The entrance of the small river Re- But the most interesting building in Ratisbon gen into the Danube, from the north, gives rise is the Rathhaus, or City Hall, in the Kohlento the name of Regensburg.
markt. It is a gloomy and irregular pile, and The population of Ratisbon scarcely exceeds interesting because of its historical associations. 20,000 souls. Its streets are mostly narrow, It was in this building that the Diets of the the houses are high, and many of them have a German Empire were held for nearly a century very antique aspect. Some of those which and a half-from 1663 to 1806. Beneath this were once occupied by the nobles in the middle edifice are subterranean cells and dungeons, of ages have tall battlemented towers, and loop. a most frightful and disgusting appearance, in holes in the walls, for they were the habitations which prisoners of state were formerly confined. of petty tyrants. The ancient rampart is now And a large room, immediately under the story levelled down, and the moat filled up, and thus in which the Diets met, was the Chamber of a very pleasant boulevard around the city, lined
* It is a remarkable fact that the re-discovery with trees, has been formed.
of the mode of coloring or ing glass has There are several buildings in this little an- been made in Bavaria, by a Mr. Bouverie, a cient city which are remarkable. One is the Frenchman by descent, who lives at Munich.
Torture, where are shown, to this day, the instruments by which men were once made most miserably to suffer in order to extort from them the desired confessions. One of these is a platform, on which the accused lay on his back, his feet fastened by chains to the plank on which he was placed, whilst his hands were firmly bound with ropes that were attached to a windlass. By the revolutions of this windlass every limb of the body could soon be dislocated. Another is an upright frame, to which a pulley was attached on high. Through this pulley a rope passed, one end of which was fastened to the wrists of the wretched victim, and the other passed round a windlass. By this instrument the victim was drawn up to the ceiling nearly, and then suddenly let fall, dragged down by heavy stones tied to his feet. A third instrument of torture consisted of a high armed chair, the bottom of which was filled with spikes, on which the accused was compelled to sit, with heavy weights in his lap, and others attached to
These infernal things still remain in that room, in a good state of preservation, though now, happily for the honor of humanity, they are no longer used. The screen, too, which secreted the judges and clerks, so that they were present without being seen, and could take down the confessions of the criminals, still remains.
Before quitting Ratisbon, we may remark that few places in Germany have experienced more of the evils of war, Its annals record no less than sevenieen sieges, since the 10th century. Some of these were accompanied with fearful bombardments, and heavy exactions. The last, that of 1809, was, it is supposed, the worst of all.
Six miles below Ratisbon is the little town of Donaustrauf, on the left bank of the Danube. Above it stand the ruins of an old Castle, which was blown up by the Protestants in the Thirty Years' War, because it belonged to the bishops of Regensburg.
About one-fourth of a mile below Donaustrauf stands the VALHALLA, on an eminence which rises more than three hundred feet above the river. The back part of the summit of this hill is covered with a dark wood, that forms a fine background in the beautiful picture which the scene presents.
The Valhalla is a Grecian Temple of the Doric order of architecture, and of the size of the Parthenon at Athens. It was built by the present King of Bavaria, within whose dominions it stands. This edifice is designed to be
a vast TEMPLE OF FAME, for German worthiesheroes, statesmen, sager, poets, artists, musicians, etc.—from the times of Arminius who so bravely resisted the Romans, and often defeated their armies, down to Blücher and Schwartzenberg; from their earliest wandering minstrels and ballad-singers, to Göthe, Schiller, Körner, and the other poets of the present era. It is intended to place here the statues and busts of all Germans who have shed an imperishable lustre upon their Father-land. The idea is a beautiful one; though it must be confessed that the object is difficult to accomplish.
Something of the same sort, though on a far inferior scale, was attempted by a Danish prince in the last century. In a beautiful grove adjoining a royal palace at Jaegersprūs, in the central part of the Island of Zealand, he caused monuments to be erected to distinguished Danes, Norwegians and Holsteiners (for the Norwegians were at that day subject to the rule of Denmark), with appropriate inscriptions. And not only did natives of that kingdom find a place in this sacred grove, but also a few foreigners who had directly or indirectly been great benefactors to that kingdom. Such, for instance, was Martin Luther. These monuments were executed according to the designs of the great Danish sculptor of the last century, Wiederwelt. But as these monuments were not made of very enduring materials, and are exposed to the severe weather of a northern climate, they have become already exceedingly dilapidated. Among the worthies, however, which one sees honored at this day at Jaegersprüs, are Tycho Brahé, Magnus Heinesen, Griffenfeld, Tordenskiold, Ranzau, Holberg, Suhm, Evald, the Bertholius, Olaus Roemer, etc.
The name, Valhalla, we may remark, is derived from the Scandinavian mythology. Odin and his priests taught the inhabitants of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and the other portions of the north of Europe whithersoever their inAuence extended, that the “brave," after death, spend an eternity of bliss. And that, in the 540 halls in the palace of Valhalla they will revel for ever, and drink mead, proffered to them by the Valkyries, or beautiful nymphs of Paradise, out of the skulls of vanquished enemies.
The exterior of the Valhalla is built of blocks of fine white limestone, which approaches nearly to marble. Many of these are very large. Some of those which constitute the pediment, and reach from the top of one column to another, are fifteen feel long, and required more than twenty oxen to drag them up the hill.
They were brought from Eichstadt. The interior is of reddish stone, brought from the neighborhood of Salzburg, in the Tyrol mountains.
This beautiful building was commenced in the year 1830. We believe that it is now entirely completed. For years some of the best sculptors in Germany have been employed on the interior decorations, The architect was Von Klenze. The construction must be admitted to be elegant and even magnificent.
There is a road leading directly from Munich to the Valhalla. It winds up from the bridge of Donaustrauf to the back of the emple. The view from the front, and especially from the top of this Temple, is striking and enchanting. It extends towards the south, over the plains of Bavaria, to the hoary sides of the Tyrol mountains; whilst on the west and on the east, it takes in a vast sweep. Ratisbon appears finely in the distance, with its noble bridge, spanning the Danube, which begins to wear the appearance of a majestic river.
A flight of stone-steps is to be made-if indeed the work be not already accomplishedfrom the river's edge up to the Valhalla. And mid-way there is to be a sort of ante-chamber, called the Hall of Expectation, where the portraits and busts of distinguished men may be placed during their life-time, for probation. In fact this hall will be, as some one has not inaptly remarked, a sort of Purgatory of Fame ! The conception is worthy of King Louis of Bavaria, one of the most eccentric of all reigning monarchs, and yet one of the greatest patrons of the fine arts.
Such is the Valhalla, of which the reader will find a beautiful engraving in this number of the Christian Parlor Magazine.
The design is eminently national and patriotic. And we may remark, in bringing this notice to a close, that there is a deep and hallowed attachment among
the Germans, to their own, their beloved Fatherland. There is also among>
them an increasing conviction of the necessity of union and consolidation, and a growing desire for its consummation. Germany consists of no less than 34 States (including the Germanic part of the Austrian Empire which embraces about ten millions of people who are of German origin) and four Free cities, all in a certain sense independent of each other; for the Diet is little more than a central police station, and does scarcely anything else than look after the press, and settle little disputes which may arise
among the various principalities which are represented in it. It is time that all Germany was united under one wise and equal government. It will require time, under the best political institutions, to bring about that complete fusion of interests and feelings which is necessary tc national strength, harmony and happi. ness. Many intelligent Germans are looking forward with earnest desire to the day when perhaps another grand revolution in Europe may give an opportunity to their countrymen to emancipate themselves from the many bonds in which they are at present held, and organize a great consolidated Empire, which would embrace some forty millions speaking the same language, and which is so much needed as a barrier against France on the one hand, and Russia on the other. And some of them think that the Zollverein or Customs' Union, about which we hear so much at present, and which was set on foot by Prussia, is only the precursor of a great political union. We think that this is very probable. Nor can we doubt that such establishments as the Valhalla are eminently fitted to keep alive and augment that national spirit which will be so much demanded in effecting that great revolution which is so much desired by some minds, and which is so obviously necessary to make the Germans what they ought to be, ,-a great nation, as well as a great people.