European Journal of Charles K. Landis
Founder of Vineland
Sept. 9, 1874.
Got up early. We breakfasted on the porch. By Mrs. Grohman's good management we were able to get a breakfast. Then conversed over the table. I remarked upon the natural grace and freedom of the children. She remarked that she gave her children a natural education, never restrained them in their play, and believed that a mountain country was more conducive to their healthy development than any other. Whilst we were at the table talking, Hilda had been hunting about the premises for old things. She had discovered a peasants' room, which we could see through a window. There were several beautifully painted bed-steads and carved chests in it. We also went into the loft of the inn, where she had been. There were several nice things, but nothing sufficiently elaborate. We found some very old pewter cups on the premises, one very beautifully chased, which I was anxious to get, but the landlord would not sell, saying that they were reserved for the dignitaries at the meetings on public occasions. We again walked through the town, and stopped at another old inn in search of old things, but could not find anything in particular. The collectors have evidently been through the place. We then broke up camp at the inn for our return. Before this we called at a peasant's cottage and saw some of the stockings they wear. They were thick wool, about 6 feet long. These were all wadded into a bundle around the calf of the leg. We asked why the custom was kept up. She informed us that the last priest told them that those who' did not keep the old customs could not be saved. Her mother dressed Hilda up partly in peasant's costume. She looked very pretty. We then left upon our homeward march by the rough but beautiful road. We passed by the picture of a poor peasant in a dying posture who had perished in the snow in the night time, within a few hundred yards of his village, which he was vainly trying to reach. At the top of the hill we came to a peasant's cottage in front of which was a broad bench for travelers, and this inscription over it, "Here's a place to repose oneself; to speak what is true; to drink what is clear; to love what is at home; and not to touch what is not yours." We here had some refreshment. We then continued our walk, meeting numbersof peasants with immense packs on their heads, especially women. This is the way most all of the freight has to be carried into the valley. We soon came to a steep part of the mountain side, grassed over and free of trees or stones. I had rolled stones down this place the day before, and was amused at their force and rapidity. Down this place we were to go to the torrent, and cross over the other side in order to get to another road. The depth was about iooo to 1500 feet, and a slip would send one to the bottom almost as fast as one of the stones. The ladies did not fear, being accustomed to such things. I found a zig-zag path in which steps had been formed, and had no difficulty in the descent. Mrs. Grohman was behind me, and had her hand on my shoulder. Stanchie hovered near and appeared quite jealous of this post of honor. When we reached the bottom, the governess was almost prostrated with exhaustion. We sat by a stream and had a cigarette. After this we went into a peasant's cottage connected with an old saw mill and oil mill for grinding linseed. This was another wonderfully picturesque and dirty old place, and yet everything was in good taste. The style of the cottage was perfect. The furniture was graceful and ornamental. On the wall of the sitting room hung a guitar and zither. Mrs. Grohman made the tea herself. The kitchen fire was upon a large platform and the smoke was allowed to have its own sweet way. Around the platform was a grated cage, into which the children could run from outside and warm themselves in winter. Whilst making the tea, Mrs. Grohman discovered a very old copper kettle of graceful shape, which she said was good. She allowed me to buy it, and I bought it on the spot. When tea was made, we went into the sitting room and had a dinner which appeared sumptuous. The remains of yesterday's pig and hare, peasant's black bread, wine (good wine and genuine), and milk, punch of Kirshwassare, which is brandy distilled from cherries. To an ungraceful remark of the governess, about the dirt in the looks of things, Mrs. Grohman replied, "I do not want the illusions destroyed. Dirt is only misplaced matter. Take this view of it, and everything is clean." We took that view of it, and had a hearty dinner. After dinner we sat upon the porch and enjoyed our cigarettes, whilst Hilda went around exploring. She discovered some beautiful plants on the roof, which the peasants cultivate for luck. It is large, round and oval shape. The peasant gave her one, and she got a ladder, climbed on the roof and got the plant. On our return we passed a lovely waterfall, which had cut its way through lofty rocks. We also crossed through meadows and beautiful natural parks. The village of Ritter, below which we soon had a view of the tower of Matzen. I thought of the many eyes that had looked upon that tower with either friendship or enmity, as it happened to be the goal of refuge or war, in the days of chivalry. On my return, found no letters from home. This convinces me that something disagreeable must have happened or Mr. Burk would have written. Some domestic trouble, no doubt. I forgot to mention that on the wall of the peasant's cottage where we last dined was this inscription: "Where faith is, there is love; where love is, there is peace; where peace is, there is blessing; where blessing is, there is God; and where God is, there is no sorrow."
Matzen Castle, Sept. 10, 1874.
Whilst dressing myself, received a short note from my wife, and one from R. W. Meade, my brother-in-law. They confirm the desertion of my house, and I think my brother-in-law has helped to carry away the children. I await anxiously for news from my agent, Mr. Burke. There is one thing fixed. I will not abandon my children to this woman. Perhaps my instructions will suffice. If not, I will hasten to America after my October engagement in London. After breakfast, this morning, I left Matzen for Schwartz in order to meet Grohman. Mrs. Grohman, having business at the P. O. in Brixlegg, accompanied me as far as the station. Had to borrow 50 florins of her until I go to Innspruck. Arranged a plan to leave by next Wednesday for Verona and Venice. I will bring my visit to an end with much regret, but going away happier than I came, as my mind has been aroused from thoughts of domestic trouble and depression. When I left Brixlegg, the weather was clear, when I got to Schwartz about 1 o'clock it was cloudy. Met Grohman, who wanted to return home by carriage in order to change his clothes, which were entirely wet, and to tell his mother about some old paintings which could be bought from an old chapel owned by a peasant in the mountains. They were thought to be by an old master, in which case they would be of immense value. Drove back to Matzen again, and then returned to Schwartz, where we had a good supper. After supper, read Macaulay's essay on Byron. It surely does Byron justice. Had read it before. Went to bed early, but wakened up in the night and commenced reading again. Whilst I have these domestic troubles, I find it impossible to get a full night.
(TO BE CONTINUED)