European Journal of Charles K. Landis
Founder of Vineland
Haal, August 25.
In the morning I got up early and found Mrs. Grohman in the hall, up before me. We soon had a good breakfast. The attendance is excellent. The servants appear to take a pleasure in hanging around Mrs. Grohman, smiling at her and waiting upon her. Her manner, whilst not familiar, was so sweet and pretty to them. After breakfast we went to the shop of an antiquarian and this was one of the most simple and curious places I ever did see. In a street of high stone houses, with all sorts of projections and flowers and vines about them, the houses hundreds of years old, this dusty little shop was hid away. When Mrs. Grohman entered the old antiquarian looked up and smiled a smile of intense satisfaction. She was long known to him as a lover of art and the antique, and these people have a passion for their pursuit. They will spend the whole day in going over their beautiful and strange old things with a fellow-worshipper, utterly careless about selling, and when they do sell, often they part with their things with regret. In this out of the way old place, the most interesting old things can be bought for a song. A kreutzer appears to be almost equal in their eyes to a dollar. Here we spent a long while. The old antiquary took us to his house and showed us a lot of things. Old locks, old Gothic hinges, old pictures, old prints, books, all sorts of things. I bought two crucifixes, over a hundred and fifty years old, two little cherubs for Charley and Dickey, one playing a lyre, the other reading a book; also some other things, at a ridiculously low price. Mrs. Grohman bought me a little thing over three hundred years old, which had been used for holy water, and presented it to me. I bought her a nicely carved picture frame, costing the ridiculously low price of four florins, $1.60. God knows how long it took to make it. She bought a lot of good things, strange to say, she knows the age, the style, the taste of everything, the moment she cast her eyes upon it. She and the old antiquary had strange talks upon these subjects. I noticed his eye occasionally gleam with intense satisfaction. We left the old shop and walked up the street until we got to the end of it, near a jetting fountain, some trees, and a little chapel, where several peasants were upon their knees. There was a bench under the shade of the trees, and Mrs. Grohman, by means of marking the ground with the tip of her parasol, explained to me the philosophy of the fountain jetting the water instead of its running continually. It is curious, but very simple when it is once learned. She also mentioned to me three problems in mathematics, which she had worked out for intellectual exercise. One of these was the curious figures made by a light or candle upon the spokes of a wheel and running upon a rope. These she had worked by pure abstract thought. I could not help thinking of the Academy, and Athens, and Plato. This was a favorite exercise of the philosophers of the Academy. We left this place and visited the old church. It was very old, and one of the most interesting I had visited, but the Gothic beauty of the pillars had been spoiled by stone work in the Corinthian style (this is not mine). We then went to the hotel and dined, intending to leave at iy2 o'clock, but whilst dining and talking, the time slipped by so rapidly that the cars left us, as we were informed by the plain but polite woman in attendance. We then finished our dinner and spent the rest of the afternoon in walking among the old streets and buildings of Haal. We took the train at 5^4 o'clock and got to Matzen about 7, where we found Grohman, his brother Adolph and all the young ladies and governess waiting for us. Mrs. Grohman was anxious to see her son Adolph, whom she expected home from college. He is a handsome, refined and intellectual looking young fellow. Has a countenance that excites interest. There is something strange about it. We all walked to the old castle, where Mrs. Grohman found that her work was progressing famously. This is her great work of art. I got a number of letters from Vineland, New York, Glasgow, Scotland, and Genoa. My brother-in-law is anxious for me to come home, on account of the conduct of. My going home now would be impolite, but yet I would go if it would do any good, which it would not. These things have racked my brain and torn my heart to pieces day and night, and I will not write about them. Bad enough to think. It is a happy thing that I have confidence in God's help. It is my solace and rest. At the supper table met Professor Exver, who brought two old hinges and gave them to Mrs. Grohman, much to her delight. They were three or four hundred years old. The Professor, though young, is distinguished in civil law, as a writer and professor. He has been lately called upon to deliver lectures to the emperor's son. I remarked that the professor understood the votive offering to the beautiful and intellectual goddess he worshipped that would most propitiate her favor. I told Mrs. Grohman that if she ever got angry at me, I would find some very old and pretty thing and send it in to her first, and then send my card. They both laughed heartily. The whole family of five children at table at once was a beautiful sight. After supper we walked in the court yard to see the moonlight stream through the old circular glasses of the arcade and corridor windows. We then walked around the castle and looked at the old tower. The effect was very fine. Retired at 11 o'clock, not to sleep, but to think. Mr. Burk, my trusty lieutenant, is making some good improvements in the mill, though they will cost several thousand dollars. The business has increased so much as to render them indispensible. He also writes me that the drouth is ended in Vineland. Thank God! Also that Carruth has ended his newspaper war upon me after a loss of $4000. He remarks that my silence killed him. I think rather that the shallow falsehoods and scurrility he indulged in, and the good taste of the people of Vineland killed him. It is to be hoped that it may teach him the lesson that it is better to serve mankind than injure them.
Matzen Castle, Aug. 26, 1874.
Breakfasted at 9 o'clock with the family. The children had two full-grown kittens. Mrs. Grohman took off a pair of ribands, and put them over the head and neck of each cat to amuse the children. The sight to me was most ludicrous. The cats looked like Quakers, in their strange bonnets, with a jewel on their necks. They went poking around the room looking at each other, eliciting roars of laughter from not only the children, but everyone else. I thought the governess was in danger of hurting herself. After breakfast went with Mrs. Grohman and her son Adolph around the place, whilst Mrs. Grohman gave some orders to the workmen. We then went to a hill covered with fir trees, and all took a seat and listened to Adolph talk over some of his college experiences in boating, and to the soughing of the wind through the fir trees. Mrs. Grohman has none of the vulgar prejudices against snakes, and I related to her the story of a large pine snake which a colored servant man brought into my room one Sunday morning, when I first started Vineland, and how intelligently it behaved. Mrs. Grohman mentioned to me that in Hungary many of the peasants keep snakes in their water jugs to cool the water, and that it also purfies it. This quite surprised me. We then went to the castle to write letters. I went over to the bathing establishment and took a bath. The peasant women in attendance remarked to Grohman that I must be a miserable skin, meaning a skin full of misery, on account of not speaking the language of the country. We sat down to dinner at 1 o'clock, and did not get up until five, the whole time being passed in lively conversation. Mrs. Grohman is far more clear, cool, and exact in her thoughts and expressions than myself. They fall from her lips like perfectly cut and clear crystals. This will teach me readiness—I hope. Mrs. Grohman then proposed that the whole family should go and visit the Grotto. This is a place located up the side of a hill among the immense rocks, partly covered with trees and green grass. On the way, winding up the hillside, we passed a little chapel, where the peasants stop and worship and looking in we saw the statues of a family of saints grouped most devoutly. Passing along we came to the cave and all went in. It is quite large and partly lighted from the top. It has evidently been inhabited. Whilst there I could not but think of Rinald Rinaldin, and other stories of robbers I had read when a boy. We then descended and walking through the lovely little village of Brixlegg, with its pretty houses, gables and projections, we went up a hill to a spot which commanded a far and varied view. Here we all sat down and looked at the lights and shadows upon the mountains, the distant villages, the church spires, and swift-flowing Inn, and listened to the deep-toned evening bells. In our walk, we met Prof. Eckstein and Dr. Fleischl of Vienna who accompanied us. On our return when we got at the new and handsome gate which was being built the Prof, remarked that one of the old stone balls, which had been dug out of some of the castle dungeons and were to go on the gate walls was larger than the others. Mrs. Grohman replied that they were to be looked upon only one at a time. We then had tea, after which the children got out their drawing pencils and paint boxes, Grohman his article which he was copying for Harper's Monthly, N. Y., and thus, with conversation the evening wore away, and we all retired for pleasant slumbers. In the night Grohman and I wakened up and had a long talk. He told me that after I had left for bed he and his mother had taken a little stroll to enjoy the moonlight. I missed that.
At the dinner time, received news from home that filled me with alarm about Charley, who is dangerously ill. Wrote telegram to my brother-in-law, R. W. Meade. On consultation with Mrs. Grohman, concluded to modify it, and finally not to send it. Up to this time spent a delightful day, and after the bad news Mrs. Grohman walked out with me and all the family. I could see that it was an endeavor to cheer me. I decided to think over night about my duty and the best course to pursue. Spent several hours of the night with Mrs. Grohman and son in the ruins of Krogsberg, scrambling over them by moonlight. We did not get home until after 12 o'clock. Received news that my dog Lion has been poisoned. Alas! poor Lion! An old friend and playfellow. The children will miss him, and he will play his tricks for us no more. When I left home, I feared my pets were in danger. This afternoon when I received the letters from home, I had arranged for a trip to the Achen Lake, but postponed it in consequence. I prepared a dispatch to send to my brother-in-law, and Mrs. Grohman kindly consented to go to the telegraphic office with me and act as interpreter and attend to the business. We walked there, but as previously stated, returned without sending the dispatch. On our return we met all the children, and rambled over the meadows and along the Inn. There is a very deep well in Krogsberg Castle, three hundred feet deep. Mrs. Grohman threw a Kreutzer down, and the well would give forth a groan like the wail of a lost spirit.
Matzen Castle, Aug. 28, 1874
Was so very much troubled about Charley that I telegraphed to Mr. Burke. Went to the office in company with Grohman. It cost twenty-five florins. Whilst waiting in the wine shop for the letter carrier to come along, Grohman bought a cigar. The highest priced cigar they had was three Kreutzers. A railroad hand came in, dressed in uniform. Grohman mentioned that his salary was only twelve pounds per annum, one uniform per annum, one overcoat, and lodging, without board. He performed the responsible duty of shifting the trains. Got a letter from my agent in Paris. Returned to the castle. Took a warm bath. It commenced raining very hard. Were all weatherbound for most of the afternoon, when it stopped raining and Mrs. Grohman proposed a walk. We walked along the Inn to Brixlegg, where we crossed the river upon an old-fashioned bridge, upon which was mounted a crucifix, and pictures of saints on each side. The bridge must have been very old. After we crossed, we came to a little roadside chapel, where a woman was engaged in doing something. We found her lighting a lamp before a full-sized Christ in sitting posture, the crown of thorns upon his head, and a countenance that depicted more of sorrow than of agony. It was a fine face. Size of the chapel about four by six feet. Worshippers' shed outside. Some laborers poked along in their thick wooden shoes. They get but a florin a day, unless good mechanics, then a florin and fifty kruetzers. We walked along the river by the most beautiful groves and then hurried home to supper. Whilst at table a load was taken off my heart by getting a dispatch from Mr. Burk that Charley had "fully recovered." It appeared like magic. All retired early. I should soon bring my visit to a close, but I am anxious to get letters, and besides it is difficult to part with the sunny spots of our existence, and my visit to Matzen has been one of them.