"Heidelberg" [essay]
Most beautiful are the paths which scale the face of the hill which is
crowned by the castle of Heidelberg, 1 winding beneath the twisted branches
of green woods, with here and there a grey crag lifting up its lichened
head from the wilderness of brake 2 and grass and flower that concealed
the mass of that ancient granite, sometimes supporting a fragment of the
remains of the old walls, with here and there an arrow‐slit choked up with
ivy, then emerging on narrow vallies or steep and rocky dells, or lovely
sweeps of dewy green sward, fresh and flowery as ever fairies circled on,
and ending on a lofty terrace whose precipice‐base was begirt with
meadow land, at the point where a narrow mountain gorge opened into
the mighty plains of the Rhine, having in its embouchure 3 the little town
of Heidelberg, with its river and its tall arched bridge, all glistening under
that most lovely of all lights,—the first glow of sunshine, after a spring
shower.
The castle of Heidelberg is exceeding desolate. Armies have razed
its foundations, the thunder hath riven its towers, and there is no sound
in its courts, and the wind is still in the open galleries. 4 The grass is very
green on the floor of the hall of the banquet, and the wild birds build
their nests in the watch‐towers, and they dwell in the dwellings of man,
for they are forsaken and left, and there is no voice there—there is no
complaining in the dungeon, and where is the voice of gladness in the
hall? It is a ruin, a ruin, a desolate ruin. The husbandman sees it on
the height of the hills as he looks up from the green valley, and remembers
the power of his ancient princes, and knows not if he should grieve that
their power is past away. I know not how it is, but all nations in all
ages seem to have respected the juice of the fruit of the vine. All has
yielded to it from time immemorial. When Marshal Turenne attacked the
castle in question, 5 it was but a touch and go. The foundations were
blown up, the battlements were knocked down, the towers snapt like so
many sticks of barley sugar, the statues decapitated, the carving crashed,
the ditches filled, the castle ruined, but the cellars— Walk into them, sir,
walk into them; there is not a rat dispossessed or in any manner disturbed.

Why, they seem to have stopped puffing off powder here as if they were
afraid of shaking up the lees of the good old respectable wines. Even
the timber of the new‐fangled fashionable cask (which, following the
example of the ladies nowadays, has gone without hoops) are not a whit
disturbed, but sit there in peaceful placidity, clasping each other in
brotherly affection, but dry, very dry, unconscionably dry. And the cele‐
brated butt sounds mournfully hollow— 6 no rich splash from the enclosed
vinum, 7 no ruby red tinging the joints of the timbers. Oh, Bacchus!
Bacchus! come not into the cellars of Heidelberg, lest thou shouldest die
of thirst.