Title (MS VII; MS VIII; Works [1903])—The editors of the Library Edition felt justified in naming this section of prose and verse “The Rhine” without enclosing the title in square brackets, which would have indicated their responsibility for the title. Their reasoning, presumably, was that W. G. Collingwood had already published the poem, “The Rhine” in Poems (1891), with the poemʼs title as found in MS VII; and the prose essay drafted in MS VIII, “The traditions of the Rhine have long been celebrated” [“The Rhine”], although untitled, surely must have been intended to be associated with that poem, since its related topic is announced in the first sentence. The association, however, is problematic.
That Ruskin intended a composite section centered on the Rhine River appears likely; in fact, according to the List of Proposed Additional Contents for the “Account”, he intended more than one—the sections named “The Fall of the Rhine” and “The Rhine”. Questions remain, however, which (if either) of these two section titles were meant to contain (either or both) the poem in MS VII and the essay in MS VIII, and indeed whether the poem and essay belong together in the same section at all. Of the two sections in the list named for the Rhine, the first, “The Fall of the Rhine”, is centered in Germany, falling among a group of titles associated with the sighting of the Alps from Schaffhausen, prior to the familyʼs crossing into Italy (see the contextual glosses for “There is a charmed peace that aye” [“The Alps from Schaffhausen”], as well as the contextual glosses for “Passing the Alps”). The second of the two Rhine titles in the list, “The Rhine”, is centered in Switzerland, falling between the proposed sections “Basle” and “Balstall” (see the figure, Balstall Drawing, in MS IX, the sole piece of these sections to be created or survive). The respective contents of the poem and essay about the Rhine suggest that they should not be joined in the same composite section, but that the prose essay was meant for the German group, and the poem for the Swiss group. This division is consistent with the manuscript contexts in which the pieces respectively appear—the essay about the German Rhine being consistent with most of the draft in MS VIII, which concerns northern Europe and crossing the Alps into Italy; and the poem about the Swiss Rhine complementing the only other piece in MS VII related to the Account of a Tour on the Continent, the poem “Chamouni”, about the Swiss valley.


“The two districts of the Rhine, and the Hartz” (MS VII; MS VIII; Works [1903])—Referring to the portion of the Rhine River that runs through the south of Germany, and to the Harz Mountains in the north. The Ruskins did not visit the Harz in 1833. In his 1836 guidebook, John Murray III adopts a tone of British superiority toward this district, if not toward the people as does Ruskin in this essay: “The Brocken, the loftiest summit, is lower than the highest British mountains, but the Hartz chain rises alone immediately out of a level plain extending all the way to the Baltic, whose inhabitants, accustomed to an uninterrupted flat, exaggerate both the elevation and the beauties of the only range of hills that fall within their observation. Their scenery would probably appear tame, and their height inconsiderable to one accustomed to the Alps, in comparison with which the Hartz is a mere molehill”. Murray goes on to note, like Ruskin, that the “district may indeed be considered the cradle of innumerable superstitions, some of them even now not extinct, of Gnomes and Cobolds, witches, and the headless horseman. Several odd‐shaped masses of granite around the summit of the Brocken are named after the witches; for example, the Devilʼs Pulpit . . . ; the Witchesʼ Altar; and not far off, the Witchesʼ Lake. According to the well‐known legend, the witches hold their Sabbath on this spot once a‐year, upon the eve of May‐day, called in Germany Walpurgis nacht from the name of a saint who converted the Saxons to Christianity” (Hand‐book for Travellers on the Continent, 317, 321).
In contrast to this condescending introduction to the region, Frances Trollope, wrote an impressive account of her familyʼs experiences in the Harz, undertaken in the same year as the Ruskinsʼ tour. Trollope was moved by the forest scenery, even as she suffered trials while scaling the Brocken on mules. She acknowledges that her imagination was colored by her prior appreciation of German romance, in the form of Goetheʼs Faust and Weberʼs Der Freischütz (Trollope, Belgium and Western Germany in 1833, 2:222–50).


The “vaulted chambers of Rheinfels” (MS VII; MS VIII; Works [1903])—Burg Rheinfels a thirteenth‐century castle ruin, considered “the most extensive ruin on the Rhine”, built on the hill above St. Goar. Originally one of the many “robber‐nests” where the lord exacted duties from merchants passing on the river, in recent history the fortress had been surrendered in 1794 to the French Revolutionary Army and, a few years later, blown up (Hand‐book for Travellers on the Continent, 234). Ruskin refers to its “vaulted chambers” perhaps because the Renaissance portion of the castle included a vast vaulted cellar. In her travel diary, Mary Richardson lists Rheinfels among several sites passed en route at the end of May 1833, but she does not suggest that they stopped for a thorough inspection (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 24).
The nationalistic pride in the Rhine as a “German” river was a comparatively recent cultural development, as was the sentiment surrounding the ruined medieval castles towering on the romantic heights above the Middle Rhine. Until well into the eighteenth century, according to Robert R. Taylor explains, the castles evoked in Rhinelanders feelings of rivalrous disunity and oppression rather than a unifying national feeling. For each settlement, the river represented a differently configured boundary and trade artery. Sentiments changed with the development of German Romanticism and taste for the picturesque in the time of Goethe, while a more unified German nationalism accompanied the political realignments that followed the defeat of Napoleon and the dissolution of the Napoleonic German Confederation (Taylor, Castles of the Rhine, 24–68).


The “crags of Drachenfels” (MS VII; MS VIII; Works [1903])—A hill in the Siebengebirge, crowned by a castle ruin, Burg Drachenfels. According to Mary Richardson, the family viewed the ruined fortresses of Godesburg and Burg Drachenfels on 28 May 1833 (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 21–22). The name of the place would already have been familiarized by Byronʼs Childe Haroldʼs Pilgrimage, canto 3 (1816), in the lyric addressed to Byronʼs half‐sister, Augusta: “The castled crag of Drachenfels / Frowns oʼer the wide and winding Rhine” (Byron, Complete Poetical Works, ed. McGann, 2:96 [between stanzas 55 and 56]). J. M. W. Turnerʼs Drachenfels (1833) was engraved by William Finden for Findenʼs Illustrations of the Life and Works of Lord Byron (vol. 2). Ruskin probably also knew the vignette, Drachenfels, engraved after David Roberts for The Pilgrims of the Rhine (1834) by Edward Bulwer‐Lytton (p. 100). See Ehrenbreitstein Fortress [drawing].


The “my thirst for ancient rhyme or story became considerably augmented, as we advanced farther into that wilderness of rock and fortress . . . between Ehrenbreitstein, and St Goar” (MS VII; MS VIII; Works [1903])—This framing of a story that was evidently intended to follow the introduction suggests a source that is also echoed in Ruskinʼs opening sentence—“The Traditions of the Rhine”, a chapter in Leitch Ritchieʼs Travelling Sketches on the Rhine (Heathʼs Picturesque Annual for 1833). Ritchie opens his chapter by surveying fellow passengers on a steamer traversing the same tract of the Rhine mentioned by Ruskin (but headed in the direction opposite to that taken by the Ruskins), and likewise comparing national characteristics (less insultingly than Ruskin). The passing scenery prompts narration of legends connected with the castles—grim gothic and erotic tales (pp. 91–125), which Ruskin would have been unlikely to imitate. Ritchie probably did, however, help model the wry and sarcastic tone that Ruskin adopts throughout these essays.


“combination of the stupidity lifelessness, and laziness of the owl, with the ugliness of the monkey . . . [in] the generality of the German peasantry” (MS VIII; Works [1903])—Ruskinʼs prose narrator flashes out with invective against German culture in the essays, “It is said that French will carry you over all Europe” [“Ehrenbreitstein”] and “The traditions of the Rhine have long been celebrated” [“The Rhine”]. For the background of this prejudice, see The Ruskinsʼ Attitudes toward Germany.


“Fortune threw an individual in my way who appeared likely to be able to answer any inquiries which I might make, entirely to my own satisfaction” (MS VIII; Works [1903])—As remarked by the editors of the Library Edition, “there is nothing in the MS. [i.e., MS VIII] to explain the reference here”, and they suggest “that Ruskin had at this time formed some idea of the fairy story, with a German setting, which afterwards became The King of the Golden River, or the allusion may be to ‘The Emigration of the Sprites‘, stanza x” (Ruskin, Works, 2:368 n. 1). The latter suggestion is not far‐fetched, since Ruskin composed “The Emigration of the Sprites” in MS VIII, section f, a section that he portioned off after allowing thirty blank leaves for continuing composition of the “Account” (i.e., MS VIII, section e, a section that he ultimately filled with drafts of other poems, after he abandoned work on the “Account”).
Ruskin composed “The Emigration of the Sprites” probably in the winter of 1834–35, likely inspired by Pilgrims of the Rhine (1834) by Edward Bulwer‐Lytton, in which English fairies accompany a human couple on a tour of the Rhine. Ruskin sets his tale in Britain, where the sprites hold a council, complaining of neglect and disbelief by humans, and therefore proposing to emigrate to Germany where legends of supernatural creatures are credited by the common people. Ruskinʼs idea builds not only on Bulwer‐Lyttonʼs frame tale but possibly on the tradition, mentioned by Murray in his guidebook account of the Brocken, that on Walpurgisnacht on the mountaintop “all the evil spirits in the world assemble to offer allegiance to their unmentionable master” (Hand‐book for Travellers on the Continent, 321). For another possible adaptation of Pilgrims of the Rhine in the “Account”, see List of Proposed Additional Contents for the “Account”—Table 2 (Illustrations): “Heidelberg”.
By rendering these sources as an English story, and framing the story as an inset tale, Ruskin follows the same pattern he used for inserting another English narrative within a topographical poem describing a non‐English setting—his digression relating the Lake District story of Gough and his faithful dog (“The Summit”). Ruskin likely adopted this technique of digressing from topographical description to introduce variety of narrative from Samuel Rogers, whose Italy introduces tales in this way to vary the symmetrical structures and forward geographical sequence of the poem. Rogersʼs stories, however, always pretend to be indigenous to the places where they occur in the poem. Ruskin prefers English stories, whether from familiarity or British pride or both.
While the idea for “The Emigration of the Sprites” may have originated with the framing introduction of a narrator that Ruskin sets up at the end of this essay, “The traditions of the Rhine have long been celebrated” [“The Rhine”], by the time of composing the narrative poem he had likely abandoned any serious intention of uniting it with the essay in the unfinished fair‐copy of the “Account” in MS IX. He had moved on, just as “The Emigration of the Sprites” advances beyond the octosyllabic couplets that predominate throughout the “Account”, to experiment with a twelve‐line stanza. The stanza continues to rely on octosyllabic lines, but consists of a quartet, sestet, and couplet, built from a more ambitious rhyme scheme (abba cdcdcd ee)—an improvisation, perhaps, on a stanza type in Byron or Scott. Rather than planning the poem for the “Account”, Ruskin perhaps destined it for the annuals—the public ambition that had swerved his attention from completing the “Account” in the first place, with the publication of “Saltzburg” in Friendshipʼs Offering.


“From Rhætian and Dinaric crest” (MS VII; Poems (1891); Works [1903])—For the Rhætian Alps, see “Cologne” [essay] (and glosses), where this name is associated with the far reaches of the source of the Rhine. See also Ruskinʼs Knowledge of the Alps.
The Dinaric Alps skirt the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. If not merely a mistaken usage of the term (see the textual gloss for line 10 of the poem), Ruskin appears to use the name of the Dinaric Alps similarly to his evocation of the Rhætian Alps, to evoke distant boundaries of the imagination. Respecting knowledge of the Rhætian Alps, however, Ruskin drew on the actual experience of following tributaries of the Rhine into those mountains, whereas the Dinaric Alps lay entirely beyond his ken. Even usage of the name appears to have been unusual in English at this timne. The earliest usage of the adjective cited in the Oxford English Dictionary is from 1833 in the Penny Cyclopædia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, which has this to say about the terrain of Bosnia: “Bosnia is a mountainous country and contains deep valleys. . . . The mountains are branches of the Dinaric and Julian Alps, which enter it on the side of Austria. . . . The lower regions of the Dinaric range are in many parts entirely naked, those immediately above them are covered with pines and rich pastures, and the uppermost consist of rocks thinly interspersed with wild rosemary, thyme, and other low plants” (Penny Cyclopædia, 5:230 [1836], and see 1:387 [1833]). This region formed part of what at the time was called Turkey in Europe, the western boundary of the Ottoman Empire. According to Ruskinʼs boyhood geography book, Turkey in Europe had shifted the boundary of civilization. It comprised places that were “once the seat of civilization, learning, and the arts, includ[ing] ancient Greece and other countries, formerly the finest in the world, but, owing to the Mahometan religion, to the despotism of the government, and to the ignorant policy of the Turks”, these places had become “the most desolate and miserable” (Goldsmith, A Grammar of General Geography, 29).