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ruined castles, and the fifteenth and sixteenth century houses in the larger villages afford endless opportunities. There are not, within reach, many churches of remarkable architectural interest, except the thirteenth-century abbey of Weissenburg on the Lauter, the twelfth-century church of St. George at Hagenau, and the fifteenthcentury church at Walburg. Of these the great abbey church is by far the most interesting. It has been remarkably well preserved and restored, and in its cloisters many old monuments bave been carefully collected.
There are also objects of interest in the church of St. Nicholas at Hagenau, and in the Rathhaus at Buchsweiler. The Lutheran church of Froeschwiller, erected since the battle of Woerth, in which the former church was burnt, is a model of good architectural taste, and has a fine reredos.
As to the old houses, especially in the village of Oberbronn near the great Convent of Nursing Sisters, many recalled to us the overhanging stories so familiar in Cheshire and Shropshire, and the black and white of Warwickshire, but they have been happily more spared by climate than is the case in England. The picturesque cottages of later date struck us as combining great neatness and cleanliness in the living rooms and bedrooms with arrangements more worthy of parts of Connaught. Not far from the door is the familiar dungheap. The ground floor is often, throughout a whole village, devoted to cattle, pigs, and poultry, while the first and second floors, reached by an external staircase, will be found full of good furniture and in every respect thoroughly comfortable.
How far the prosperity of the peasantry at Niederbronn is due to the fact that almost every cottager has a small holding in the neighbourhood I cannot say. But it would rejoice Mr. Jesse Collings's heart to see the town almost deserted during working hours for these much-prized allotments, which extend to great distances in every direction.
I noticed one contrast with our English villages. In every house, however small, good lamps would be found, giving at night brightness to the most insignificant hamlets. I suspect that to this universal and lavish use of petroleum, insurance companies owe not a small proportion of their losses. At any rate they do here a large business, every house, outhouse, and farm-building being insured.
On the other hand, hardly any of the small towns are lighted by gas, or even by public oil-lamps. We were startled when we arrived on a dark evening at one of these towns, to see the streets full of what at a distance seemed little dancing lights, but which turned out to be portable hand-lamps strapped across the chests of belated pedestrians.
We spent three weeks of last September at Niederbronn for the 'cure' of one of our party. We were a little late in the season, which lasts from the beginning of June to the middle of September. Some details on the subject of the waters and their uses may interest my readers, and I take the following particulars of their properties from the useful work of Dr. Klein, the principal medical officer of the baths.
The quantity of water discharged from the principal spring (there is a second under the orchestra platform, but it is not now used, as the other more than supplies all needs) is about forty-nine gallons a minute. Its temperature is 65° Fahrenheit. It contains much nitrogen and free carbonic acid gas, and about forty-two grains to the pint of salts, chiefly chlorides of sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium, besides iron and bromine, and traces of iodine and arsenic. Since it was first carefully analysed, about 150 years ago, it has never varied, to the smallest extent, in temperature, effervescence, or constituent salts.
It is used according to three methods. The first only prescribes four or six small glasses every morning, at intervals of five or ten minutes. This stimulates all the functions, but for some days produces a little discomfort. The second prescribes six or eight glasses, taken fasting every morning at intervals of ten to fifteen minutes. This is still more stimulating, and results in no discomfort. The third prescribes, in addition to the second, two glasses every evening. Hot baths or douches are also to be frequently employed.
The waters are most efficacious in affections of the digestive organs, dyspepsia and stomachic catarrh, besides anæmia and constitutional weakness, especially in those forms of indigestion (often attended by nervous debility) which result from the sedentary life of a man of business, or from too good an appetite. In this respect Niederbronn is allowed to be the most efficacious of all the baths of Western Europe. The water has also been employed with great effect in cases of diabetes and of peritonitis. The remarkable instances of success in treatment of the last-mentioned terrible malady, form the subject of a special treatise by Dr. Klein, which has received much attention in France and Germany.
The ordinary duration of a cure for severe indigestion is three weeks, but it sometimes extends to five or six weeks. It is greatly to be regretted that Niederbronn is not better known in England, the country, above all others, of indigestion. The regimen cannot be called severe, as no quack nostrums about food are enforced. One hearty meal in the middle of the day, with coffee in the morning and a light supper, leaves abundant time for the daily exercise in which our countrymen so much delight; and I may add that those whose well-being demands the Times and Pall Mall Gazette daily, will find that they are delivered at breakfast-time and at about 6 P.M., with the single and unimportant variation from home experience that they are the papers of the day before !
Niederbronn, the Vassoviana' of the Romans, is one of the oldest watering-places in Europe. It was well known in the days of the Emperors, and the masonry of the principal spring is of the first or second century. The Roman baths were partly destroyed in the fifth century, but in the sixteenth Niederbronn had a high reputation, and one of the Counts of Hanau, in whose dominions it then was, built on the Roman site a bath-house, an inn, and a church. On this occasion, in excavating the foundations, a great number of coins and works of art (chiefly of the time of Augustus) were found, and the channels in brick and lead, by which the water was brought to the surface by the Romans, were comparatively intact. These coins and works of art have been carefully collected, and are open to the public in a small museum within the gardens of the ' établissement.'
The buildings put up by the Hanau family were allowed to go to ruin after 1789, but their site was subsequently sold to the commune, and they have been re-erected, during the present century, with much taste and convenience. They are visited annually by about 2,000
baigneurs,' who find good accommodation in hotels of the first, second, and third order, and in lodging-houses. We were fortunate enough to obtain rooms at the établissement, the ‘Hôtel du Wauxhall’ as it is called; and we found a very attentive host and hostess, a good cook, and clean, quiet quarters.
The situation of Niederbronn, at the very entrance of the deep and wooded valley which gradually rises for ten or twelve miles into the heart of the Vosges, is singularly attractive. With a resident population of only about 3,500 souls, and stretching for above a mile and a half on both sides of the Falkensteinerbach, it has rather the appearance of a large well-to-do village than a small town. The gardens and avenues, in and around it, are extensive, and must be very agreeable during the hot weather of July and August. Strangers owe much to the generosity of the principal proprietor, M. de Türckheim, to whom, or to whose relatives of the Dietrich family, considerable estates, mines, and factories, in the neighbourhood, belong. Visitors have the run of his large gardens, which are well kept up, and full of rare trees and flowers. But, unless an invalid, the stranger is not likely to spend many hours in the town; and, either on foot or on horseback, he will make daily excursions among the mountains of Alsace and Lorraine within a circle of ten or fifteen miles. He will find that a Vosges Club has made it almost impossible for him to lose his way. true that the mountains do not rise near the town to a height of more that 1,900 or 2,000 feet. But, except near some summits they are generally well wooded, sometimes densely so, and the finger-posts put up at almost every trivium or quadrivium, with the familiar initials 'V.C.,' are very welcome; giving, as they always do, useful information about direction, distance, and height.
Some of the mountain-tops afford really fine views. From the Wasenkopf and the Wintersberg all northern Alsace from Strasburg to Lauterburg is visible; while the Garnfürst enables the visitor to study the position of the ruined castles to the northward, for some distance into the Palatinate, which he will without doubt examine on foot, or on horseback, afterwards. But the valleys are even more attractive. I know few which excel in beauty the upper Baerenthal or the Jaegerthal. There are also some lateral valleys in the Falkensteinert hal itself, especially under the Wintersberg and the Ziegenberg, of surpassing attraction.
I have spoken of the great number of ruined castles in this part of Alsace and across the Palatinate border. Most of them have wellknown local traditions, and some are referred to in mediæval and sixteenth century history. The stories of Erckmann-Chatrian tell us a little of the stirring times of the last hundred years in a portion of this country. But Fleckenstein and Wasenstein (mentioned in the Nibelungenlied), Froensberg and Wegelnburg, the Windsteins and Schoeneck, belong to a much older time; and it must be hoped that another Walter Scott will arise to clothe them with the vivid interest which the terrible scenes they saw will fully justify.
Of course the visitor will inspect the battle-fields. That of Weissenburg can hardly be studied in one day if the expedition is to be made, each way, on foot. But by taking the railway viâ Hagenau and Soultz-sous-Forêt, the visitor may easily see the points of interest and return before sundown. He would do well, on leaving the Weissenburg station, to take the Lauterburg road for a mile, and then to strike up a path to the south, through open fields, to the Geissberg. From this height he will at once recognise how strong the position of the French was, although the tremendous superiority, in numbers, of the Germans left them no chance. The spot where General Abel Douay fell, in a hollow below the Geissberg, is marked by a stone bearing his name and the date of his death. The Germans have erected two monuments on the ground, one in excellent taste. I wish I could say this of many of the monuments erected on battlefields, by French or Germans, since 1870.
The field of Woerth or Froeschwiller may be conveniently studied by the pedestrian from Niederbronn in a day. A path, easy to find, leads, through woods and across the Schwarzbach, to within half a mile of Froeschwiller; and the visitor would do well, after seeing the church, to turn to the right, through fields dotted with crosses under which the dead have been buried in thousands, and through the hamlet of Elsasshausen, at which the fight was most murderous (every house being destroyed), to place himself under what is known as “MacMahon's tree,' close to the great German monument. The events of the battle will be at once understood. From the north-east, across the undulating country beyond which lie Weissenburg and Soultz-sous-Forêt, came the main body of the Prussians, under the Crown Prince, now the German Emperor. From the north-west and the Palatinate, down the Salzbach, to the west of the conspicuous monastery of Liebfrauenberg on the slope of the mountains, came the Bavarians. The French position, on high ground and with good shelter, is seen to be extremely strong; and it is not surprising that, during half the day, the Germans made little impression on their opponents. But in the long run numbers were sure to prevail. If the visitor moves, from before Elsasshausen, a short distance to the south-east, he will see the line by which an overwhelming force turned the French right, and was only prevented from utterly routing and capturing it by the cavalry charge in which two regiments of French cuirassiers were all but exterminated near Morsbronn. I do not remember any battle-field (and I have seen many) where the events of the fight are more readily realised.
A more detailed account of these engagements may be interesting to some of my readers; for although the events of the FrancoGerman war are not eighteen years old, the less important battles are little remembered, eclipsed as they were by the greater struggles round Metz, at Sedan, and during the siege of Paris.
Woerth was fought on the 6th of August, 1870. On the 4th, the Third German army, under the command of the Crown Prince, had invaded Alsace at Weissenburg, coming by four different roads from their positions in the Palatinate. The weather was very bad (as the readers of Dr. Russell's graphic letters will probably remember), but the concentration of the four divisions was successfully carried out, and the Germans fell on the unready French with terrible effect.
Weissenburg had been a fortress, and was still difficult to take by assault, while the celebrated 'Weissenburg lines' and the river Lauter afforded a strong defensive position. But the French force in the neighbourhood was scattered and quite unprepared for the invasion. It was under Marshal MacMahon's orders; but the Marshal was at Strasburg, about forty miles from the frontier. General Douay was at Weissenburg with only a force of about ten thousand men, and he had no supports nearer than at Hagenau and Reichshofen.
The action commenced at 8.30 A.M., and by 10 o'clock General Douay, finding himself exposed to a converging attack by overwhelming forces, had determined to retreat. But it was too late to do so in any order. The Germans by 11 o'clock had attacked the railway station and the town, and soon after advanced to take the Geissberg, the position of which I have already described. For some time the French held the château, but at 2 o'clock they surrendered it, and the fight was virtually over. The French loss was very great, including General Douay killed, and about a thousand prisoners, a gun, and the whole of their camp equipage captured. The Germans lost in killed and wounded 91 officers and 1,460 men. The French Vol. XXIII.—No. 135.