Hallowe’en in Germany,
or The Walpurgis Night
Communicated by the Baron Reichart Von Versmacher, of Crackkenburg;
And translated by a Student of the University of Göttingen.
PART THE SECOND
Laurette, continues the Lienalle Manuscript, returned to the village of Harzburg in the same meditative silence with which she had quitted it; somewhat, however, less oppressed in spirit, since she had learned a way, although a hazardous one, of preserving her friend from the fearful consequences of associating with the Harz Demons. As she entered the valley in which their cottage was situate, she heard the voice of Michelle singing merrily at a distance; and as the strain was of a bold impetuous character, it seemed to rush up the defile with a fine warlike swell, like the march of an army played upon a distant trumpet. “Alas!” said Laurette, “still gay, and insensible of her danger, though not unconscious of the awful step she is about to take. Oh, Father of brightness whom all good angels continually praise, give strength to my soul to undergo all the terrors and temptations of the coming night, without fearing or yielding; and above all grant to me, that my dear Michelle may be protected from the evil ones, and brought back to her home in safety, sorrowing for nought but for her sin.” As Laurette continued to approach, the tune swelled into the words to which it was adapted; and she soon discovered it to be the war song which her favourite Heinreich Reimer had written for Michelle Flüchterfelt, and which she had secretly given to her lover Carl Brandtenbelt, in lieu of the more pious, but at the same time more heavy, compositions of the Curate Von Fuddlemann.
BATTLE SONG OF A GERMAN SOLDIER’S MISTRESS
BY HEINREICH REIMER
Go forth!—like the sun in his might;
Go forth!—like the dawning of day:
May the plume on thy helm be the star of the fight,
And thy brand be the flash of the fray.
I love thee, yet ne’er be it said,
That love did thy spirit restrain;
I had rather behold thee a hero, and dead,
Than a coward in life to remain.
Then “Forward and Fear not!” thy battle-cry be,
With glory return, or return not to me!
I could joy o’er thy corse, though my tears
Should wash the red wounds Death had made;
For each crimson gash like a ruby appears,
On the front if it be but display’d.
But, Oh! my soul never could bear
The thought that thou fled’st from the foe;
One scar on thy back would awaken despair,
And give to my heart its death-blow!
Then “Forward and Fear not!” thy battle-cry be,
With glory return, and be welcome to me!”
“So meine hochgeehrte frau,” said Michelle, stopping her song as Laurette came up; “and where have you been straying so early on the Walpurgis Morning?”
“I have been to Altenau,” replied Laurette.
“And to whom there? young Damosell, as the Curate saith.”
“To Astragal Sterndenter, the Astrologer.”
“Aha! what the pious one going to the Witcheries of En-Dor, as the Curate says; and tell me, I pray thee, meine artig Magdleine, for I find I must draw out all my information by questions, what made thee betake thyself to Astragal Sterndenter?”
“Oh, Michelle!” cried the artless Laurette, “how can you thus trifle with me? You are my only earthly care, and second but to my own soul in my heavenly hopes; what then could cause me to seek Sterndenter, but to gain the means of saving you from everlasting perdition?”
“Well, really Laurette,” answered Michelle, “if you were to preach instead of our Curate, I should not be half so bad:—Nay now, my dear girl, don’t weep, but go with me to-night, and my life for it we shall never repent the meeting with Riebezhahl.”
“It is my intention to go with you, Michelle,” returned her friend; “and Heaven grant that my prayers and endeavours may be rewarded, even though I pay that forfeit which my own crime will draw down upon me.”
“Thanks! thanks!” cried the volatile Michelle; and without staying to hear the conclusion of her friend’s speech, she ran hastily into the house to make preparations for their departure, while Laurette followed her, sighing heavily. Although it was early in the day, yet the road leading to the top of the Harz Mountain was, in 16_ _, so fatiguing and dangerous, that fair day-light, and the labour of several hours, were requisite to ascend it. There were not only the extensive remains of that amazing forest of fir, oak, and beech, which once, under the name of Sylva Hercynia, stretched from North to South throughout Germany; the very fragment of which is sixty miles in length by thirty in breadth, where it freezes in the midst of summer; but there were also morasses, rocks, and mountain-streams, to pass over, ere they could arrive at the flat plain on the top of the Brocken, where the spirits meet. After a short and early repast, the two females set out upon their daring adventure; each so occupied with her own thoughts, that she spoke not to the other. Michelle carried with her a small basket, in which were various dried herbs given her by Astragal Sterndenter, as preservatives against witchcraft, and some offerings to be presented to the Harz spirits, in order to obtain their favour and assistance. Round her neck was the famous Drake or Dragon Stone, a curved fossil found about Goslar, in the fields near Gandersheim and Brunshusen, which the inhabitants of those parts believe to be a powerful remedy against enchantment; and in this belief they are somewhat supported by the learned Johannes Reiskius, who wrote a treatise upon this interesting subject. Laurette carried none of these charms with her, but took only her Rosary, Missal, the means of procuring a light, and some provisions. In this order, then, they set forward, well wrapped in their mantles, for the last gales of spring were howling around the Brocken, as if to form a fitting concert for the day, and the haunted mountain. The Liemalle Register, from which the whole of this edifying history is extracted, does not immediately follow the two courageous maidens up the mountains, but proceeds to consider the history of the Harz fiends, and those of Germany in general; and, that the reader may not find himself in strange company on a future page, a breviate of the account shall be here inserted.
The country of Germany is so wild, lonely, and romantic, so filled with the deepest mines and caverns, and darkest forests and the loftiest mountains, that none can hesitate in believing it to be a land which spirits would love to haunt, and one in which they carry on their midnight revels. Nor is this belief founded upon such evidence only; since to mention all the eminent and learned men who have supported it, and their arguments for doing so, would be to fill this paper with contentions and hard names, things, by the way, that usually go together, instead of the story which I have undertaken to relate. Wermius, Helwig, Kircher, Dr. Behrens, and the Missionary Mathæsius, have all expressed their belief in the Spirits of Germany; and even the great Luther himself has left on record something very like his coincidence in the same faith. It is said, that when the Elector of Saxony offered to that disinterested Reformer the profit of a mine at Sneburg, he refused it, saying, “No! lest by accepting it, I should tempt the Devil, who is Lord of those subterranean treasures, to tempt me.” The spirits, then, which haunt the Harz Mountain in Hanover, may be divided into six grand classes. Of these, four are those who are employed in the four elements; namely, the Guebres for Fire, the Sylphs for Air, the Gnomes for Earth, and the Ondins for Water. Besides these, there are the Forst Geister, or Forest Fiends, which include the Holtz-Konig, or the Wood King; Waldehock, the Wild Jager, or Huntsman; and the Wehr Wolves, or Men Wolves, who, according to Gaspar Peucerus, were men, who once in a year were turned to wolves, partly in shape, and partly in their habits. The sixth class consists of those spirits who are peculiar to the Harz Mountain. Of this kind there were also six sorts; the first of which consisted of the old Pagan Deities of Germany, to whose worship the amazing caverns found in the Brocken Hill are supposed to have been anciently consecrated. The principal of these false Deities was Saturn, who was adored as the God of Security and Plenty; and next in superiority was Pustrich, literally Blow-Flame, or the Idol emitting Fire, whose effigy is made of an unknown metal, and represents him kneeling on one knee, with a malicious visage, having one hand upon the head, and the other upon the left knee. The third Spirit who belongs to the Harz, is Schattenmann, or Shadowman, commonly called by travellers the Giant of the Brocken, and who appears in the form of the gigantic shadow of a man, five or six hundred feet in height, traversing the Worm and Achtermanshohe mountain, about sunrise. Many tourists who have had the chance of seeing this very rare apparition, have referred it to the height of the mountains, the horizontal position of the sun’s rays, &c. reflecting their own shadows on the opposite hills towards the South-West. Oh! amazing incredulity! because the spirits they beheld mocked them by imitating their motions. M. Jordan, however, who made this wondrous discovery, ought to have been convinced, when himself and his landlord were standing on the Brocken, and two shadows had appeared, suddenly a third stood before them! Who then was that, but Schattenmann himself, to vindicate his own existence. Schattenmann is very often confounded with Riebezhahl, the Lord of the Waste and the Mine, and King of the Brocken; but although he also is a superior Spirit on the Harz, yet he is wholly different in nature from the fiend last mentioned. Riebezhahl is prince over all the precious minerals which so abound in his mountains; and these he sometimes bestows on the peasants around, though his gifts are always fatal in the end. His usual appearance is as a savage man, naked, but wreathed about the head, and cinctured about the middle with oaken garlands; having a pine-tree torn up by the roots in his hand. This figure he, however, sometimes varies, as he is of a more sociable nature than Schattenmann, and he has even been known to form contracts with the peasantry to serve them, and to enter into treaties offensive and defensive with them, till his demon nature burst forth, and all their covenants were at an end. The third sort of Spirits peculiar to the Harz, is the Dwarfs, who were, it is supposed, descended from the most ancient inhabitants of Germany; and who, when Attila, King of the Huns, overran Bavaria, Franconia, and Thuringia, fled from his armies into the boundless caverns of the Brocken. Here they have remained ever since, apart from all human society, with which indeed originally they had only a very distant sort of connection; as it is said, that they were a species of beings formed at the creation, between men and spirits, who partook of both natures, and yet belonged wholly to neither. They eat, drink, propagate their race, and dwell in the Harz mines, where they form the ore and precious stones; but their lives are short; since about the fifth year they generate, and in the ninth they die. Their bodies are flexile, and the bones only a sort of cartilage, like those of the inhabitants of the Happy Islands, mentioned by Diodorus Siculus; and they have also the power to pass through stone walls, and other solid bodies. The Dwarfs of the Brocken still retain some affection for that race of which they consider themselves a part; since to those of Elbingerobe, it was common for the country people to come, and ask for household utensils, and to solicit other acts of friendship, which the Dwarfs always complied with, by placing whatever they requested at the mouths of their caves, and allowing it to be taken away. But none who thus sought the assistance of the Dwarfs ever looked upon them. The favour was asked, and those who solicited it retired to a distance with their faces averted, and returning in a short time found all their wishes complied with. In a similar manner was the return of these favours conducted; the borrowed things were placed at the entrances of the Dwarf-holes, with some food as an acknowledgment and offering; and when those who brought them had departed, the Dwarfs came and received their property again. Such is the account of this subterranean nation, given by the most pious and authentic writers; such as Rivander, Spangenberg, Valvasor, Homer, Ovid, Juvenal, Ludolf, Paracelsus, and Abraham Seidel. There are, indeed, those incredulous people, who, notwithstanding all these great authorities, doubt not only the supernatural powers of the Dwarfs, but even their very existence; and it may be dubitated, if a sight of the Lienalle Register itself, where this account is to be found, would satisfy such unbelievers. It is, however, more grievous to reflect, that many of the above authors disputed each other’s works, deeming that they were deceived, credulous, or mocked by Satan. The fourth Spirit of the Harz, is called Erdtengeist, literally Earth-Ghost, because he is the peculiar genius of the Miners, and at one period regularly worked in a mine at Rammelsburg, where he received a weekly pay like the rest, although he performed more labour than any other ten; in which instance he greatly reminds me of what Milton of England said of the household goblin once common in that country,
“One night, ere glimpse of morn,
His shadowy flail had thresh’d the corn.
Which ten day-labourers could not end.”
Erdtengeist, however, at last gave up his profession, in consequence of a dispute with the miners, who defrauded him of his share of the ore, which till then he had regularly carried away. They, however, had cause to repent it, since he came back in the shape of a fire-damp, and blew up the mine, in the ruins of which Fritz Engelhertze, and Johan Flüchterfelt, the fathers of Laurette and Michelle, were both destroyed. The mine of Rammelsburg is now in ruins; and the story is ancient; but it is still known by the name of the “Devil’s Mine.” The black Mastiffs, which are found guarding the concealed treasures of Bauman’s Hole, are a fifth sort of Spirits, known in the Brocken Mountain. These Demons influence the mind by dreams of buried riches, which excite many persons to venture through the terrors of Bauman’s Hole to possess them; and then they scare them away with dreadful sights, after shewing them the Iron Chests which contain the gold. The White Woman, whose existence is attested by Christopher Helwig, in his Mountain Stories, is the sixth and last of the Sprites peculiar to the Harz; but there are many other subordinate Demons, inimical to mankind, to be found in the various caverns of it; the which if I were to detail, the reader would find it much to resemble what the great Shakspeare of the English observes of a Welsh Magician,
“He held me, but last night, at least nine hours,
In reckoning up the several devils’ names
That were his lacquies.”
Such, then, was the society with which Laurette Engelhertze, and Michelle Flüchterfelt, were to assemble on the midnight of the first of May.
We are reluctantly compelled to defer the third Part of this interesting Tale until our next Number.