XI. Augsburg.

Among the romantic cities of southern Germany there are few more striking contrasts than Augsburg and Rothenburg. The former is a proud, patrician place, once the host of emperors and the home of famous financiers. It spreads out on a level plain its monumental streets, its palaces, its great public buildings and churches.

The other is a city of dreams crowning a fair hill; a quiet plebeian town, the tower-studded ring-wall of which has preserved more jealously than any other city wall the aspect and the atmosphere of old Germany.

Just as one pauses at Goslar to modulate one's journey from the Harz to Hildesheim, so, in coming from the morning brilliance of nineteenth-century Munich, it is well to pause at Augsburg, where romance and brilliance are blent as in some sunset sky, before climbing from the valley of the Tauber to the hill-crest that is comparable only to those cloud-cities we sometimes discover when the moon rides high on a spring evening.

When, with this idea of modulation, I last stopped at Augsburg, it was not to hunt up the scores of fascinating tombs and altars in the churches, or to visit the old German painters in the gallery, or to study the style of Elias Holl's architecture, or to make the rounds of all the interesting old houses. I wished to catch again the unique feeling of the place — the at- mosphere of proud Italian opulence that made its highways a fit resort for princes, combined with the native Old- World glamour of its intimate, homely byways.

It was Sunday morning, and I sought the cathedral, a building too old, on the whole, to participate architecturally in Augsburg's grand manner. At the Diet of 1530, the famous Augsburg Confession was presented to the Emperor in the episcopal palace opposite. And legend relates that Martin Luther, fleeing from one of these diets after dark, in fear of his life, lost his way in the St. Gallus-Gasschen, whereupon the devil came and pointed out a little gate in the city wall, with the words, „Da hinab.“ („Down there.“) The Reformer went, and found a saddled ass and a servant to help along his flight. The evil one departed chuckling, feeling that he had done a deed worthy of his reputation. And the place is called Dahinab to this day.

The cathedral nave was crowded with rapt worshipers. I stood near the four altarpieces painted by that famous Augsburger, the elder Holbein; and looking from them to the rows of earnest faces, I realized that these conservative people had not changed even the type of their features for over four hundred years.

Here were anachronistic costumes as well — peasant women with limp black head-dresses, gay neckerchiefs of white and rose and yellow, flaming short skirts of blue, pleasantly overlaid with buff aprons. And there were short-jacketed Holbein men who wore odd silver coins for buttons.

Orchestra, organ, and choir made sonorous music in the Gothic balcony. The officiating clergy showed splendid in their gold and silver vestments against the sculptures and the delicate pinnacles of the high altar. The priceless old stained glass of the clearstory painted the sunlight, and the great windows of the southern aisle sang a psalm of ultramarine and emerald and old gold. Despite its modest architecture, the nave took on a splendor that Sunday morning like the splendor of Amiens. It was the authentic spirit of old Augsburg making itself felt.

I paid a visit to the cloisters, with their wealth of tombs and quaint Latin. A goodly wash was spread out to dry on the lawn, tempting my companion into a pale pun about the „cathedral close.“ And far above them was another sight almost as homely — the north steeple, with its crude, tiny Romanesque arches.

The ancient bronze doors of the southern portal remind one of Bishop Bernward's epoch-making doors at Hildesheim, only these are more delicate and sophisticated, and have less of the elemental thrill.

The most imposing part of the cathedral architecture is the northern portal; and here the South-German's Gemütlichkeit and love of animals are charmingly displayed. Surrounded by an attentive company of prophets and sibyls, the Herrgott is lolling carelessly on a throne, with a sword between his legs, listening to King David, who is playing on a harp. All seem to be getting the greatest pleasure from the music. Below, a lot of baby bears are trying to push one another off a molding above naive reliefs of the Annunciation, The Death of the Virgin, and the Nativity, the last a scene at which little donkeys peep edified over the rim of a wicker basket. Above them all are three gargoyles which, though suffering the most violent pangs of some indeterminate complaint, are yet as lovable as the guffawing crocodile near the other portal.

In the Fish Market, after church, I found another commentary on Augsburg's love of animals. One side was lined with rabbits peeping out of boxes, perambulators, and baskets like the donkeys on the portal; two sides were taken up with birds and puppies — the salesmen seeming really loath to part with them — while in the middle was a host of dogs in leash. About the only creature not on sale in that Fish Market was the fish. But there was no snarling or fighting, for the menagerie seemed as full of Gemütlichkeit as its owners. Peace on earth, good will toward man and beast, was the order of the day.

On a wall near by was a curious relief of a onearmed man. A question to a vender of puppies drew about us a beaming circle of citizens, who listened proudly while the tale of the siege was retold. It was in 1635, when the Swedes had reduced the town to the point of starvation, that the immortal baker took his last loaf, climbed up on the parapet during a charge, and threw it to the enemy, declaring that Augsburg had more bread than it could eat. The baker lost his arm up there on the walls, but the Swedes lost heart, and in disgust raised the siege.

This part of town, however, never long beguiles one away from its splendors with such homely things as puppies and bakers. Near by I discovered a stately campanile and the façade of a great Renaissance building so imposingly Italian that it seemed less natural to call it the Rathaus than the municipio. And within was a room, the Golden Hall, able to compare with many of Italy's most opulent interiors. This Rathaus typifies the formal, splendor-loving side of Augsburg, and is the worthy center of a city three of whose daughters married princes. One is reminded of the remark of Emperor Charles V, after having seen the royal treasures of France: „I have a weaver in Augsburg named Fugger who could pay spot cash for all this.“ The building bisects that old Roman road, now, as then, the main highway through the town, formed by the Karolinen-Strasse and Maximilians-Strasse, a broad, proud way lined with stately palaces. Among them shines forth the frescoed house of the Fuggers, those Rothschilds of the Renaissance, to remind one of an age when most of Augsburg's walls were gay with color, and when many of its interiors could vie with those of Italy's royal palaces. In those days a merchant named Welser, whose daughter had married the Archduke of Austria, fitted out a squadron single-handed to take possession of Venezuela. And one of the Fuggers is said to have taken a note of hand for a large sum and burned it on a fire of cinnamon wood before the eyes of his debtor, Charles V. The old Augsburgers always did things handsomely. It is pleasant to remember that Emperor Maximilian I, on leaving his favorite city near the close of his life, turned in the saddle for a last look and exclaimed: „Now God preserve thee, thou dear Augsburg! We have had many a good time within thy walls. Now we shall behold thee nevermore.“

The Maximilians-Strasse is broader than any other street in Old-World Germany, and its Italian atmosphere is intensified by the splendid fountains that punctuate it, which are surrounded by arabesques of the ironwork for which Augsburg is famous.

One of these fountains, the Augustus, commemo- rates the German emperor who founded the city, and after whom it was named Augusta Vindelicorum. But the Fountain of Hercules, down near the Fugger House, in its eloquent power and grace and humor, has never been equaled in Germany, though its influence may be seen to-day from Danzig all the way down to Munich.

While the imposing, public side of Augsburg is strongly Italian in quality, the intimate, romantic side is quite as German; and it was good to feel the sudden change in the Church of St. Ulrich. This church is supposed to occupy the site of the ancient Roman capitol, and there were excavated here those huge stone pine-cones which became the symbols of the municipahty.

A confirmation service was going on. The piers and aisles were decorated with white birch saplings that looked very friendly and human against the elegance of the large altars, and reminded one that he was in the land of the Christmas-tree and that sort of thing. As I entered, a group of little children, in all their touching German artlessness, was moving out in front of the congregation. The vast throng stood for some moments in a profound silence, then sud- denly burst into the most beautiful congregational singing that I have ever heard.

It was a fitting introduction to romantic Augsburg, and I went away finally, to wander in a sort of day-dream among the maze of little brooks and canals that make the southeastern quarter so picturesque, where the dwellers in fascinating old cottages have had to bridge a merry little river to get to their own flower-gardens. Here Augsburg's greatest son, the younger Holbein, was born, and a wall is still there, covered with the colored arabesques that he drew in his sixth year. There was the quaint little Fuggerei, a town within a town, which one of the Fuggers built to house the local poor on condition that they pay a gulden a year as rent, and daily offer up to heaven „a paternoster, an Ave Maria, and a credo, for the help and comfort“ of all Fugger souls.

The best came last; for as I turned into the Jakober-Strasse, there was spread out such a vision of Old- World Germany as I had not dreamed of finding in Augsburg, the portal of Italy. An unbroken array of old houses swung down into the distance, with gables lofty and low, sharp and blunt, severe as a pyramid, or undulating like a maiden's curls, glowing with all the colors of the sunset, full of shapely windows and flowering balconies and wooden saints enshrined, set off against the richly weathered walls and ruddy tiles of a huge tanner's tower; and, with their perfect rhythm, leading the eye down to where a Gothic gate closed the prospect with the mellow masonry of its arches and the vivid green patina of its pointed tower.

The ideal place to take one's leave of Augsburg is beside the crumbling ramparts where, deep underfoot, the shattered marbles of the Roman city lie; where grasses clothe the venerable defenses of medieval days; and where beautiful old wall-towers, reflected from the surface of a stream once lapped by the wild horses of the Huns, dimly foreshadow the glories the traveler is so soon to taste — the glories of a city that is set upon a hill above the Tauber.

Dieses Kapitel ist Teil des Buches Romantic Germany
Augsburg — The North Portal of the Cathedral. Painted by Karl O Lynch von Town.

Augsburg — The North Portal of the Cathedral. Painted by Karl O Lynch von Town.

Augsburg — The Ludwigs-Platz and the Fountain of Augustus. Painted by Karl O Lynch von Town.

Augsburg — The Ludwigs-Platz and the Fountain of Augustus. Painted by Karl O Lynch von Town.

Augsburg — The Jakober-Strasse, with the Jakober-Thor in the distance. Painted by Karl O Lynch von Town

Augsburg — The Jakober-Strasse, with the Jakober-Thor in the distance. Painted by Karl O Lynch von Town

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