[Frankfurt—Tuesday, 23 August 1859]

Tuesday 23d Left Frankfort early for Heidelberg. Arrived soon after 1. Found a charming room at the Prinz Carl looked down upon most benignantly by the dear old castle. And what a castle it is! It always was most beautiful we thought whatever the light was under which we saw it last. The afternoon was perfect, rich in cool summer-like loveliness. We took a long drive climbing by degrees the wooded or vine-covered hills with no sounds to disturb the perfect repose except the Neckar rippling and swirling far below. It was a Paradise of beauty. The old castle itself we reached by a short walk through the fragrant pines. It was the finest ruin we had seen on the continent, but more than that, it told us rarer stories of those ancient days & of the old magnificence which we chiefly know in dreams and tales. Here it was inscribed on this fair summit of the sweet Rhine-land written by the continued labor of men during 6 centuries and basely destroyed in two. We looked at the French artist whom Paul Flemming says is always sketching there with envious eyes. Here he sits uninterrupted hour after hour looking at the sculptured front and vine-draped arch-way opposite his shady corner of the quadrangle, feasting upon beauty, learning its faintest lines by heart, turning no leaves in his book, the rustle is supplied by the tree above his head, while the illuminations of the page change continually with the never-ceasing tide of visitors. Gay carriages thronged the court-yard as of old this lovely afternoon but for such a different purpose. They were gazing on this monument of wrath. It was once the home of tyranny and pride. A great nation descended upon it and gun-powder did its worst, but the year after the fires of heaven came down—and burned to an uninhabitable ruin this miracle of strength and wealth. The beautiful Italian balustrade on the front has been restored. We were able to walk there on the broad terrace overlooking Heidelberg the Neckar and the Rhine in the far distance just as the princess Elizabeth and her ladies were used to do. How fair it was no one can say, nor any final but that of the great Turner delineate. We were perfectly happy holding this cup of beauty and happiness to our lips and finding it full to overflowing. At last we descended and crossed the curious old bridge with its marble statues and drove upon the opposite shore to find the spot from which the picture was drawn, Turner’s I mean, wh. we left hanging opposite our bed at home. The twilight had clothed the hills in purple, monarchs as they are and the castle never looked nobler than then drawing away from the world below as it were to hold its own lonely counsels with the starry sky. We went in to tea in the pleasant old hotel; the fresh grapes brought in from the hill-sides however were fragrant cups out of which we took our most refreshing beverage. It was quite dark when we went to our room. Oh! I said what a lovely sight to the Heidelburgers of the ancient days to have seen the castle illuminated. I wonder if they never see one of the ghostly array which some kindly star guides perhaps at night about the well known haunts? While I spoke we both started; I had thrown the casement open and a starry light was moving gently from ruined tower through shattered archways up and down in the old castle. There it is, we both exclaimed. Ah! the soul-treasure buried here will not let them sleep. Alas! Alas!

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