“The Rhine! the Rhine!” is quoted by every one, and admired or abused at every fireside, but the Moselle is almost wholly unexplored. Lying, as she does, within a district absolutely overrun with summer-tourists, it is altogether inexplicable that a river presenting scenery unsurpassed in Europe should be so neglected by those who in thousands pass the mouth of her stream. When the Roman Poet Ausonius visited Germany, it was not the Rhine, but the Moselle which most pleased him; and although glorious Italy was his home, yet he could spare time to explore the Moselle, and extol the loveliness of her waters in a most eloquent poem.
The Moselle, which rises among the wooded mountains of the Department des Vosges, never during its whole course is otherwise than beautiful. Below Trèves it passes between the Eifel and Hunsruck ranges of mountains, which attain to the height of ten or twelve hundred feet above the level of the river.
In the Thirty Years’ War the Moselle country suffered severely from the ravages of the different armies; but there still remain on the shores of this river more old castles and ruins, and more curious old houses, than can elsewhere be found in a like space in Europe.
Having in the following pages endeavoured to lay before English readers the interesting scenery of the Moselle, I trust, that although in summer my countrymen do not mount her stream, fearful, perhaps, of discomfort; yet that by the fireside in winter the public will not object to glide down the river, in the boat now ready for them to embark in; and hoping that they will enjoy the reproduction of a tour that afforded me so much pleasure,
I subscribe myself
Their humble servant,
Richmond, December 1858.
"At a short distance from Bussang, a little town in the Department des Vosges in France, is the source of the Moselle; trickling through the moss and stones that, together with fallen leaves, strew the ground, come the first few drops of this beautiful river.
A few yards lower down the hill-side, these drops are received into a little pool of fairy dimensions; this tiny pool of fresh sweet water is surrounded by mossy stones, wild garlic, ferns, little creepers of many forms, and stems of trees.
Here, then, O reader, let us pause and contemplate the birth-place of our stream; leaving the world of stern reality, let us plunge together into the grateful spring of sweet romance; and while the only sounds of life that reach our ears are the rustling of the leaves, the buzz of the great flies, the murmur of the Moselle, and the distant ringing of the woodman’s axe, let us return with Memory into the past, and leaving even her behind, go back to those legendary days when spirits purer than ourselves lived and gloried in that beautifully created world which we are daily rendering all unfit for even the ideal habitation of such spirits.
And reverie is not idleness; in hours like these we seem to see before us, cleared from the mists of daily cares, the better path through life—the broad straight path, not thorny and difficult, as men are too prone to paint it, but strewed with those flowers and shaded with those trees given by a beneficent Creator to be enjoyed rightly by us earthly pilgrims.
Life is a pilgrimage indeed, but not a joyless one. While the whole earth and sky teem with glory and beauty, are we to believe that these things may not be enjoyed? Our conscience answers, No; rightly to enjoy, and rightly to perform our duties, with thankfulness, and praise, and love within our hearts, such is our part to perform, and such the lesson we are taught by the fairy of the sweet Moselle.."