Melville in Köln

“I intended taking the boat at 10 1/4 in the morning, & so slept sweetly dreaming of the Rhine.

Sunday Dec 9th 1849 Cologne Sallied out before breakfast, and found my way to the famous cathedral, where the everlasting “crane” stands on the tower. While inside was accosted by a polite worthy who was very civil pointing out the “curios”. He proved a “valet de place”. He tormented me home to the Hotel & got a franc out of me. Upon going to the Steamer Office I learnt that no boat would leave that morning. So I had to spend the day in Cologne. But it was not altogether unpleasant for me so to do. In this antiquated gable-ended old town – full of Middle-Age, Charlemaigne associations, — where Rubens was born (Anm.: Rheinsein sah Rubens Geburtshaus in Siegen, aber dieser Rubens hier ist ja nicht näher spezifiziert) & Mary de Medici died – there is much to interest a pondering man like me. — But now to tell how at last I found that I had not put up at the “Hotel de Cologne”, but at the “Hotel de Rhin” – where my bill for a bed, a tea, & a breakfast amounted to some 2 Dollars, in their unknowable German currency. – Having learnt about the Steamer, I went to the veritable Hotel de Cologne, (on the river) & there engaged the services of a valet de place to show me the sights of the town for 2 Francs. We went to the Cathedral, during service – saw the tomb of the Three Kings of Cologne – their skulls. The choir of the church is splendid. The structure itself is one of the most singular in the world. One transept is nearly complete – in new stone, and strangly contrasts with the ruinous condition of the vast unfinished tower on the one side. From the Cathedral we went to the Jesuit`s Church, where service was being performed. Thence to the Museum & saw some odd old paintings; & one splendid one (a sinking ship – with the Captain at the mast-head – defying his foe) by Schefferen (?). Thence, to St Peter`s Church, & saw the celebrated Descend from the Cross by Rubens (Anm.: nuja, offenbar doch näher spezifiziert; Doppelgeburt?). Paid 2 Francs to see the original picture turned round by the Sacristan. Thence home. Went into a book store & purchased some books (Views & Panorama of the Rhine) & then to the Hotel. At one` o`clock dinner was served (Table d`hote). A regular German dinner & a good one, “I tell you”. Innumerable courses – & an apple-pudding (Anm.: Rievkooche met Äppelschlot?) was served between the courses of meat & poultry. I drank some yellow Rhenish wine which was capital, looking out on the storied Rhine as i dined. After dinner sallied out, roamed about the town, going into churches, buying cigar of pretty cigar girls, & stopping people in the streets to light my cigar. I drank the very vital spirit & soul of old Charlemagne, as i turned the quaint old corners of this quaint old town. Crossed the bridge of boats, & visited the fortifications on the thither side. At dusk stopped at a beer shop – took a glass of black ale in a comical flagon of glass. Then home. And here I am writing up my journal for the last two days. At nine o`clock (three hours from now) I start for Coblentz – 60 miles from hence. – I feel homesick to be sure – being all alone with not a soul to talk to – but then the Rhine, is before me, & I must on. The sky is overcast, but it harmonizes with the spirit of the place.”


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