[Baden-Baden—Monday, 29 August 1859]
Monday 29th Left Baden ¼ before 7 for Strasbourg. Arrived at 9 after changing cars in a most uncomfortable and unsuspected manner “en route”. It was like the old game of stage coach; everybody thought it a duty to go distracted at once.
Arriving at Strasbourg we found ourselves in France. Passports were re-examined &c. Drove at once to the Cathedral. Almost from the moment we left Kehl the airy, sky-piercing spire was like a magnet for the eyes. Such strange old palaces and shops as line the romantic looking streets! As we proceeded with gaping eyes who should we discover on the steps of the hotel but Mr and Mrs Little of Cambridge.
We had just been reading H. B. Wallace’s charming description of this glorious Cathedral but it transcends all description as entirely as it does all previous images of such wonders written out upon the mind for interlinear corrections. I felt as if I had never before seen a Cathedral. That great mystery of light is hear [sic] rendered so majestically mysterious. The color of the stone of which the noble pillars are built is so exquisitely soft and warm and yet so perfectly attuned to the brilliancy of these wonderful windows that the effect infinitely transcends all other glass effects we have seen. Indeed we both, exclaimed, Go to Strasbourg to see stained glass! Such melodious union of intensified color, such gleams of worlds all built of amythysts [sic] or rubies and then such drawing back-ward of the soul into the dimmer light of faith, such patient waiting among these arches until there shall be a fuller revelation than those tiny but superior beams can show,—all these feelings and more than will ever be expressed live and walk daily among the arches of Strasbourg Cathedral.
The verger wondered at our taste that we did not stay to hear the famous clock strike 12 and see the cock crow, but we could not. It was like frivolous talk in a sick-room and we avoided the sight, but strolled to the outside instead and tryed to learn its greatness as it were by heart. It is not easy to master the wealth of this pile loaded with carving as it is and yet light as air. The spire stands wholly complete and independent as it were of the rest of the building. It is in the Gothic style also while the 2 side entrances are rather of the Roman order of architecture. Our only consolation in taking such a peep at Strasbourg was that we were bound on the direct route for Switzerland where natural architecture in its high sublimity awaited us.
The same night we reached Basle. The Rhine rushing and bounding forward we could hear all night just below our windows, but Alas! I was ill & could not enjoy it as I would.