Eine heruntergekommene Stadt (2)

„(…) It was a city of priests, who spent there the riches of the country, but the days of ecclesiastical greatness are past. It possessed also monopolizing privileges in trade, which the good sense of modern times has abolished. Hence its decline. The people still speak with regret of the good times, when the canons spent their revenues there, like the princess of the Empire, and the neverending festivals and splendid processions at once brought wealth and entertainment to their city. (…)

No monk or nun was to be seen in the streets. Formerly black monks were ever to be seen crawling about, and annoying strangers for money.
A most numerous class of boatmen and porters at the quay along the Rhine, a more industrious, but here not a more useful class than the monks, no longer finds employment. By an iniquitous and absurd regulation, every ship which came down the Rhine, was obliged to stop, and unload her cargo at Cologne; as well as every ship that came up. A great delay was thus occasioned, an immense expense was incurred for no reason whatever, but to find employment for men, whose labour here was of no benefit to those who were compelled to employ them. In fact every thing seems to have been done by man, to counteract the bounty of nature. (…)

The first place I went to was the cathedral. It is a vast, but unfinished, Gothic building, of beauty, which connoisseurs say is unequalled. Several people were at their devotions, and the servants of the church were equally busy in shewing its rarities to strangers. The most remarkable are the splendid and costly monument, and the crowned skulls of the Three Kings. To what a pitch will not ignorance and superstition carry a besotted people! And what are the limits of imposition, when it is found to succeed! (…) A well-informed Catholic holds in equal contempt, the delusions of the mob in Cologne. (…)

The flying bridge on the Rhine is the scene of the most activity at Cologne. I went across the river by it, to see the country beyond, but as the roads were scarcely passable, and as no variety presented itself, the excursion was made very short. I shall here endeavour to describe the bridge, as we have got nothing of the kind in England.
The bridge consists of two very large barges, fastened together, and flooring of strong boards put over them, with a rail round the side to prevent accidents. This deck of the bridge is, they say, capacious enough to receive 1500 people; it certainly could accommodate 500 with great ease. An anchor is fixed in the river, far up above the bridge, a chain goes from the anchor to a boat, from that boat a chain goes to another boat, from that to a third, a forth, fifth and sixth; from this last boat it goes to the bridge. The bridge is kept fast to the side, till the passengers, horses, cattle, carriages, waggons, &c. are all got on board. A bell rings to announce its going off. When all is ready, the chain which fastens the bridge to the side is loosed, the helm is moved, so that the force of the current carries the bridge off from the side, and as the chain from the boats will no allow it to go down the stream, it is carried towards the other side. (…)

Such were the objects worthy of notice, which I saw at Cologne. As it is a great thoroughfare for Germany, I had the satisfaction of meeting with many of our countrymen. It was a high gratification to see the soft, and amiable pleasing countenances, and manners of British ladies, after being compelled so long to look on Dutch, or German women. It is no flattery, and any of our countrymen who have had the same experience, will say the same.

I am, &c. &c.”

(James Mitchell: A Tour Through Belgium, Holland, Along the Rhine, and Through the North of France, in the Summer of 1816: In which is Given an Account of the Civil and Ecclesiastical Polity, and of the System of Education of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; with Remarks on the Fine Arts, Commerce, and Manufactures, Chapter XIX, T. and J. Allman, 1819)

Eine heruntergekommene Stadt

“My Dear Sir,

You will allow that after the tedious proceedings of the tewo days` journey, I had a right to indulge a little more than usual, I accordingly lay in bed till eight, for do what I could, my ever-anxious, ever-insatiable curiosity would allow me no longer; I sat writing the notes of my journal till breakfast, which by the aid of Stenography, I easily accomplished, and after my morning repast, I sallied forth to explore this extensive and ancient city, the Roman colony founded by Agrippa, the son-in-law of Augustus Caesar.
Three centuries ago Scaliger thus eulogises it.

„Maxima cognati Regina Colonia Rheni,
Hoc te etiam titulo musa superba canet;
Romani statuunt-habitat Germania-terra est,
Belgia-ter felix! nihil tibi diva deest.“

I presume not to say, what might then be the condition of the city, and how far the poet flattered or bestowed just praise, but very different is the case now. I should rather apply, as nearer the truth, the language of Ossian, „I have seen the walls of Balclutha, but they were desolate.“ Ruin long begun, and still going on, marks its principal streets. The plaster is falling from the fronts of the houses, and no one seems disposed to renew it. The year of 1618, and others of that period, which you see on the outside, lead one to question, if aught has been renewed since then. Waving grass is growing in the streets, and as you enter many of the principal churches, you must keep in the narrow path, „the old path,“ or in rainy or wet weather, as it was when I was there, you will have cause to repent. Indolence seems painted on the countenances of the people, and they seem to move as if they knew not why, or whither, they were going. Many of the houses have fallen down, others are falling, and in many places you see ruins clearing away to add to the gardens, which already fill up two thirds of the space within the walls.
Cologne boasts of its antiquity, and of its greatness. Still Colonia Agrippae may often be seen in public inscriptions, and they tell you that full more than fifty thousand inhabitants remain to listen to its never-ceasing bells. It was once a place of great trade, but the banishment of the Protestants in the seventeenth century destroyed its industry. (…)”

(James Mitchell: A Tour Through Belgium, Holland, Along the Rhine, and Through the North of France, in the Summer of 1816: In which is Given an Account of the Civil and Ecclesiastical Polity, and of the System of Education of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; with Remarks on the Fine Arts, Commerce, and Manufactures, Chapter XIX, T. and J. Allman, 1819)