“We passed a rock, whose bare front ever / Had borne the brunt of wind and weather” (MS IA; MS IX; Poems [1891]; Works [1903]) and “Past a rock with frowning front, / Wrinkled by the tempestʼs brunt” (Friendship's Offering . . . for MDCCCXXXV; Poems [1891]; Works [1903])—Ruskin refers to the Lorelei, which rises nearby, upstream to St. Goar. According to the List of Proposed Additional Contents for the “Account”—Table 2 (Illustrations), Ruskin intended to depict the “Whirlpool” as the headpiece vignette for this section. Although Ruskinʼs cousin, Mary Richardson, mentions several other picturesque sights in this stretch of the Middle Rhine, she does not name the Lorelei or allude to its Romantic legend, but she does record that she was impressed by a demonstration of an echo—presumably, an attraction connected with the Lorelei, which was famous for its echo (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 24). In 1836, John Murray III highlighted such a demonstration: “At the side of the high road, opposite this colossal cliff [of the Lorelei], is a Grotto occupied by man whose employment it is to awaken, by pistol or bugle, for the gratification of travellers, the remarkable echo of the Lurlei, which is said to repeat sounds fifteen times” (Hand‐book for Travellers on the Continent, 235). See the gloss below on Ruskinʼs line about “the skulls of the drowned men”, which he drafted in MS VIII for the prose section on St. Goar, but suppressed in the fair copy.


“Before, in fury driving dread, / Tormented on their rocky bed, / Or flinging far their scattering spray, / Oʼer the peaked rocks that barred their way, / Wave upon wave at random tossed, / Or in the giddy whirlpool lost” (MS IA; MS IX; Poems [1891]; Works [1903]) and “Where the tormented waters rage, / Like demons in their Stygian cage; / In giddy eddies whirling round / With a sullen choking sound” (Friendship's Offering . . . for MDCCCXXXV; Poems [1891]; Works [1903])—In this contrast of the Rhineʼs terrible sublimity with the serene beauty into which it is calmed at St. Goar, Ruskin refers to the turmoil upriver where it bends around the Lorelei. John Murray III explains: “In front of the Lurleiberg is the whirlpool (Wirbel), called the Gewirr, and above it a rapid, called the Bank, formed by the stream dashing over a number of sunken rocks, encreased by the sudden bend which the river here makes. The passage of the large rafts which navigate the Rhine over this spot is difficult and dangerous, and men have been washed overboard by the tumultuous waves dashing over the slippery plank. The perils of this spot, taken in connexion with the mysterious echo, no doubt gave birth to the superstition that the Lurlei was haunted by a spirit, a beauteous but wicked water‐nymph, who distracted and beguiled the passing boatman with her magical voice, only to overwhelm and drown him in the waves of the whirlpool” (Hand‐book for Travellers on the Continent, 235).


“You look on Andernacht with veneration, on Ehrenbreitstein with awe, but on St Goar with love” (MS VIII; MS IX; Works [1903])—In reviewing places along the Rhine in terms of psychological categories of aesthetic response, Ruskin continues the theme of contrast of sublimity and serenity in the flow of the river, on which his poem about St. Goar turns. These contrasting modes of representation and response would have been supported by the drawings completing the MS IX fair copy. According to the List of Proposed Additional Contents for the “Account”—Table 2 (Illustrations), Ruskin intended to follow the headpiece depicting the “whirlpool” (beneath the Lorelei) with a trio of images (two set between the poem and essay, and a tailpiece): Godesberg, Rheinfels, and Drachenfels. In the center of these, the header for the prose essay, a drawing of Burg Rheinfels, the thirteenth‐century castle ruin that rises above the town of St. Goar, would have complemented the headpiece drawing of the Lorelei whirlpool below the town. Before and after the Rheinfels drawing, Ruskin planned to feature the prominences on opposite sides of the Rhine below BonnGodesberg and Drachenfels with their respective hilltop fortresses. Thus, from the station at St Goar, the illustrations (as well as the narration) point backward to the commencement of the Rhine journey below Cologne and Bonn.
Likewise characterizing St. Goar in terms of beauty and domesticity, Frances Trollope (1779–1863) and her children decided to stay for several days at the “very pretty” and “quiet little village of St. Goar”, where she declared her “perfect enjoyment of the Rhine began for . . . I had never till now looked upon it or its lovely banks with any feeling of true leisurely unmixed satisfaction” (Trollope, Belgium and Western Germany in 1833, 135, 138). In Leitch Ritchieʼs Travelling Sketches on the Rhine (Heathʼs Picturesque Annual for 1833), the frontispiece by Clarkson Stanfield, St. Goar, shows “the town and river . . . [as] seen through an arch, in such a way as to convey a complete idea of what we have called the lakes of the Rhine“—that is, the river journeyʼs carrying the traveler through “a succession of lakes (so far as the pilgrim of the picturesque is concerned), each different in detail from the rest, yet all bearing some general resemblance, like a series of family portraits” (pp. 78, 136).


“and the skulls of the drowned men that grin from among its rolled round pebbles” (MS VIII; Works [1903])—This lurid detail was omitted from the fair copy in MS IX (printed in a note in Ruskin, Works, 2:360 n. 2). While referring to the deep sea, the drowned men may distantly allude to the legend of the Lorelei siren, which is noticeably absent from Ruskinʼs poem about St. Goar. Ruskin avoids even naming the Lorelei hill, referring in the poem only to the weatherbeaten “rock” around which the river bends. It is possible that the Ruskins were unacquainted with the legend: although traceable to the fifteenth century, the story of the siren had been brought to life comparatively recently, in the first three decades of the nineteenth century, in poetry by Clemens Brentano (1778–1842), Joseph von Eichendorff (1788–1857), and Heinrich Heine (1797–1856); and the popularization of Heineʼs poem in art song, particularly the settings by Friedrich Silcher (1789–1860) and by Franz Liszt (1811–86), lay in the later 1830s and 1840s (Taylor, Castles of the Rhine, 58–59). Nonetheless, it seems surprising that the Ruskins could have escaped notice of what Frances Trollope, traveling the Rhine in the same year, described as “the celebrated Lurleyberg, amidst whose inaccessible caverns dwells, as the neighbouring peasantry believe to this day, one of that pretty amphibious class of spirits which is called Undine. Below this rock is the well–known whirlpool, called the Gewirr; and nothing but the most resolute determination not to listen to her sweet beguiling voice can save the navigators who pass it from being engulphed” (Trollope, Belgium and Western Germany in 1833, 148).