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Anna Jane Vardill

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 THIRD

The two intrepid maidens continued to advance, with as rapid a pace as the many difficulties of the ascent would permit. These were numerous; for independent of the rugged nature of the Brocken Mountain, the snows upon it are never melted until July; and the keen temperature of the air is such as very few travellers are able to bear. After passing the immense blocks of timber which lie at the foot of the mountain, and from which it is usually thought that its name has been derived, they continued through the intricacies and dangers of morasses, underwoods. bushes, rocks, and rivulets, until they reached the great Ilson Stone, where the ascent becomes more steep, as it leads to the flat plain on the summit of the Brocken. As they continued to mount, Michelle chaunted some mystical rhymes, or performed some peculiar ceremony, taught her by Sterndenter; Laurette, however, took no share in these rites, but only chaunted in a low and tremulous voice some stanzas of the “De Profundis,” or the “Te Deum laudamus” Psalms, as versified by Curate Von Fuddlemann, and recommended by him as an effectual preservation against evil spirits. A short distance from the top of the mountain, is, as it were, begirt by a thick belt of pines: and into this Forest they had now entered. It is well known, that the fir and pine trees have a peculiar property in the conveyance of echoes; and, that unlike the oak, and some other natives of the Forest, which deaden sounds, they return them improved and musical in their effect. This property of the Brocken Pines was soon discovered by Laurette and Michelle; for the half-uttered hymns of the one rose into a grand chaunted chorus, and the wild charms of the other were augmented by many notes not her own. Above the Forest, towards the top of the Brocken, hung a thick cloud of vapour, although below it was clear and beautiful for the young state of the spring; and, as if the Spirits of the place were favourable to the intentions of Michelle and Laurette, an air unusually warm, even for summer, seemed to hang upon the Mountain. Day continued to advance rapidly, but they resolved not to proceed any higher until nightfall, when the cloudy cap of the Brocken should be lifted off, and the preparations of the supernatural actors beneath it should be given to their view. In consequence of this resolution, they selected one of the pleasantest spots which could be discovered in a dreary evergreen forest; where having kindled a fire, they sat down to partake of their provisions, and to discourse on the object of their journey.

“My dear Laurette,” began Michelle, “you cannot imagine how delighted I am that we’ve got so far up the Blockberg, and that you are with me. Now if you would but smile, and be as happy as you always are, I would not exchange places with the Electress.”

“I ought to be more happy than I always am, Michelle,” answered Laurette; “for my conscience tells me, that I am performing a severe and hazardous duty, in which if I be frustrated, He who knows my motives and intentions will both receive the attempt and reward it.”

“Now, Laurette, this is being too melancholy; why do you know, that whoever has the courage to face Riebezhahl, may ask whatever they like, and he is obliged to give it them? But you must remember Leopenwolf, the Jager, whose black horse could outrun a stag; that was given him by Riebezhahl.”

“Yes, I do, Michelle; and what became of him? That very day seven years after he had received him, didn’t he leap from the Zorge Bridge when the Mountain River had overflowed it?”

“Why, yes, that’s true, certainly. But then there was Geltenpurz, who found a gold mine under his cottage. Riebezhahl told him where to look for it.”

“Very true,” replied Laurette; “and at last Geltenpurz, and his house, and all his family, sank into the mine, and the earth closed over them.”

“Yes, so it did; but then there was Baron Rudinghart, the Elector’s General, who took so many towns, and burned so many villages, and killed so many of the enemy! He was always victorious, with that sword which Riebezhahl gave him.”

“So he was, Michelle, till the sword fell down upon him one day at a banquet, and wounded him so, that the blood could never be staunched till he died. The room is still shewn in the Castle of Rudinghart; and the floor is all as crimson as if it had never been wiped off. You know, Michelle, that no one ever went to Riebezhahl, and prospered afterwards.”

“And I know too,” returned Michelle, who avoided the truth that this remark contained, “I know that nobody ever mocked Riebezhahl, without his being revenged on them. Heinreich Reimer told me a story about him only the other day, and you shall hear it.”

THE REVENGE OF RIEBEZHAHL

A GERMAN MINER’S STORY

BY HEINREICH REIMER

“Oh! rest thee to-night in my bower,
 Nor through the wild Harz Forest stray;
’Tis of darkness and Demons the hour,
 And thou wilt be Riebezhahl’s prey,
The winds do thy rashness deplore in
 Each blast that sweeps gloomily by,
And the torrents that downwards are pouring
 With tears to their howlings reply.”

“Fair Rosenwald,” answer’d her lover,
 Young Basil, from Zellerfeld’s mines,
“Oh! cease thy fond fears to discover,
 I’ll see thee ere morning beam shines.
And pass but this night, and for ever
 At the altar I’ll make thee mine own.
No powers unholy can sever,
 Those vows that unite us in one.

And now, though the Fiend stood before me,
 Though Riebezhahl’s self were to rise,
His spells he in vain might cast o’er me,
 They are stronger that shine from thine eyes.
Whilst thy love my heart is adorning,
 The foulest of spirits ’twould quell;
Then adieu, dearest girl! till the morning,
 And fear not for me,—Fare thee well!”

She wept, they embraced,—and they parted;
 Her moments past slowly away;
But the morn found her heavily hearted,
 For Basil came not with the day.
Time fled, for it ever is flying,
 Through sorrow, as well as through joy;
And our tears, while we drop them, are drying
 That grief which they seem to employ.

Years pass’d, but young Basil came never
 To Rosenwald’s bower again:
While Time and Affliction for ever
 Had left on her beauty their stain.
She lived, but her grief was unfading,
 Old age saw it still unforgot;
And none ever courted the maiden,
 Thus plighted to one,—who was not!

Time fled!—and the story no longer
 Was heard, but in Rosenwald’s heart;
The record of Love was far stronger,
 And would not so swiftly depart.
At length, where the copper abounded,
 In Rammelsburg’s mines, there was seen,
A tall pallid figure, surrounded
 And shrouded with crystals of green!

The alkaline waters flow’d o’er it
 Of brilliant and glittering blue;
And the miners with fear fell before it
 When its features appear’d to their view.
Then, on them his azure eyes glancing,
 That seem’d all unearthly to shine;
The Spirit, in accents entrancing,
 Said, “Rosenwald bring to the mine!”

She came, and with horror she started,
 “’Tis Basil!”—“Oh! Rosenwald dear,
I fell on that night when we parted,
 And by Riebezhahl’s spells was placed here!
Till thirty long years should have glided
 In darkness, and silence and pain;
Because I had mocked and derided
 The Fiend in the hour of his reign!”

But little remains to discover,
 For Basil’s last moments were o’er;
And Rosenwald cried to her lover,
 “Thou never shalt fly from me more.”
On the cold earth she fell, pale and dying,
 And soon like her Basil was changed;
While the miners graved where they are lying,
 “Thus Riebezhahl’s wrath is avenged.”

By the time that Michelle’s tale was concluded, the hours of night came on with great rapidity and darkness, as well as with additional terrors, on which the volatile girl had not calculated. As midnight approached, all above and around the forest belt, in which they were then seated, seemed to glow with a deep red lustre, like the reflection of a thousand fires; but the noises that they heard! “Oh,” exclaims the Lienalle Registrar, in very appropriate words, “they were past belief.” Laughing, shouting, singing, chaunting; the rushing sounds of wind, rain, and tempest; the wizards’ trumpets and drums; and shrieks of the most piercing description, filled the air! As the assembly convened, the terrific uproar subsided; and there was heard only a grand swell of Recitative and Chorus coming down the mountain, which made Michelle prepare to ascend. It was now midnight, the moon was in her last quarter, and rose red, having her blunted horns turned upward; a thick air overhung the atmosphere, and the fine deep blue tone of the night skies was exchanged for a dark grey veil, which hid all that amazing expanse of country to be discerned from the top of the Brocken. As they ascended, the path was so dark, so strange, and wild, that it required all Michelle’s enthusiasm, and Laurette’s piety, to keep it. The rocks, in the wavering and discoloured moonlight, seemed formed into something like human figures, that appeared to be mocking them, and the tall dark pines assumed the shapes of skeletons and spirits.

The ceremony of the German Diablerie upon the Brocken, consists of a Masque and Revel, which commence at midnight, and usually last until the first ray of light is seen streaking the horizon. Astragal Sterndenter, as it is commonly reported in Altenau, had collected materials for a History of the Domestic Habits of the Harz Demons, as well from the erudite writings of Hornhoofius, Gatzfote, Snakentaill, and others of equal authority, as from his own experience and observation. To this it is added, that the ingenious Heinreich Reimer was to have appended an Essay on the Dramatic Poetry and Masques of the Harz Demons, with specimens. I mention these circumstances, because they go near to illustrate a portion of the Lienalle Register, which might otherwise appear too flowery for that grave chronicle; namely, the insertion of the Walpurgis Night Masque, as performed in 16_ _. It is evident to me, that the Registrars of this part must have been Sterndenter and Reimer; because the pictures are drawn with such truth, and coloured with such warmth and feeling. When the noises commenced which have been already noticed, the Spirits, &c. were then beginning to assemble, and at the same time the sports began in the following manner:—

THE MASQUE OF THE BLOCKBERG

AS PERFORMED ANNUALLY ON THE WALPURGIS NIGHT

Recitative of Witches and Wizards

O’er the Harz the clouds are lowering,
Through the skies are demons scowering,
Round the Brocken winds are roaring,
Mountain torrents down are pouring;
Midnight meteors bright are flashing,
Pines are blasted,—oaks are crashing.

Chorus

It is the night!—It is the night!
 That fills the spacious earth with fear;
The moonbeams scatter a crimson light,
O’er the terrific and awful sight,
 Of Fiends that love to assemble here!

Recitative

Now the Demon shouts are loudest,
Now the Demons shine the proudest;
Fiends of Earth, Fire, Sea, and Air too,
This assembly all repair to;
Hark! each order now is singing,
As their mystic course they’re winging.

Chorus

It is the night!—it is the night!
 That fills the spacious earth with fear;
The moonbeams scatter a crimson light,
O’er the terrific and awful sight,
 Of Fiends that love to assemble here!

Schattenmann

I am the King of Shadows,
 Lord of the Brocken Caves,
My form is lofty as the skies,
 And boundless as the waves!

My name, and wondrous power,
 Through Germany are known;
This is my regal hour!
 And this my Mountain throne!

It is the night!—It is the night!—Chorus as before

Reibezhahl

There’s not a Spirit walks the earth, whose sway is wider spread,
For all the gloomy Harz is mine, at once the boast and dread
Of old Germania’s mighty land; where swarthy Demons twine
The glowing silver’s flashing light in many a rocky mine.

I rule the Forest and the Waste, the Mountain and the Wood,
The deepest caverns all are mine that have for ages stood,
Unvisited by mortal foot where treasures sleep unknown,
And brightest metals deck’d with gems, are shining round my throne.

It is the night!—It is the night!—Chorus as before

Waldebock, and the Wild Jagers

Let earthly huntsmen wake at morn,
 And deem their sport delight,
They never tuned so shrill a horn
 As that we sound at night!

Wild Jagers we, who haunt the Harz,
 And hunt the leafy dell;
And oft the frighted peasant starts,
 To hear our midnight yell!

It is the night!—It is the night!—Chorus as before

Dwarfs

The Dwarfs of the Forest,—the Fiends of the Mine,
 The Sprites of the Mountain high;
We dwell where the metals and diamonds shine
 Like stars in our earthy sky.
And now are we met on the Harz, to see
How Wizards rejoice at their Jubilee.

We are the Kings of the red red gold,
 The Lords of the silver bright;
Whom the clods of the earth do around enfold,
 And cover from mortal sight.
And now we have met on the Harz, to see
How Wizards rejoice at their Jubilee.

Grand Chorus

All are here!—All are here!
 From Earth, and Sea, and Fire, and Air;
In our terrors we appear,
 To behold us who shall dare:
For this is the night when all are free,
 And this is the hour we glory in,
And this is the place of our Jubilee,—
 Now to our rites, begin, begin!

Schattenmann

Spirits! again we meet, upon that day
When in fair Albion’s climes the spring-tide flowers
Are bursting into beauty:—In this land
The peasant looks but on the unmelted snows;
His verdure, is the ever-living leaf
Of the dark pine tree; and the goodliness
Which other forests crowns,—with him is changed
For that deep gloom which wraps the Hercynian wood
In one long sylvan midnight!—But, ’tis fit
This land of spirits, this abode of fiends,
This resting place of demons, still should be
Involved in darkness, and with terror veil’d
Once more then we assemble.—Now, let each
Declare what evil he hath done to man;
How he hath spread our kingdom; and what ill
His power, or wiles, have wrought throughout the world
Since last upon the dread Walpurgis Night
We met upon the Brocken. Riebezhahl,
Next to ourself in power, what hast thou done?

Reibezhahl

What have I done, say’st thou?—Ask Germany,
The only record that I deign to keep.
When falls the Avalanche; when the Tempest roars
Round the benighted travellers; when the Harz
Seems all on fire, and whilst they are surrounded
With demon shouts, and fiendish sleights, and scared
Into a thousand dangers; when the Pest
Descends in all its fury, and cuts off
The youngest and the fairest; or the Sword
Devours the village youth;—to whom, or what
Are these attributed, but to Riebezhahl?
My very name is terror; and Old Age,
Speaking from past experience, deems it is
Synonymous with Evil and with Death!
But not on these rest I my claim to honour;
For meaner spirits might dispute with me
The glories which attend them. Let them pass.—
I boast a loftier title, scarce inferior
To that of our great Master; the Destroyer
Of souls as well as bodies! As the Lord
Of every glowing mine within the Harz,
I use the power of gold upon mankind;
Dazzle their eyes with silver; and the dreams
Of wealth and rank I cause to rise before them;
Until, allured by all these spells, they yield
Their souls to me, and rush upon their ruin.
Nor less my skill is shewn in tracing out
The latent springs of evil, and in causing
New powers to grow within them; till what seem’d
At first of such small import, bursts aloft,
By long indulgence strengthen’d, in a stream
Of deadly guilt, that overwhelms the soul!
In proof of this, my spells have brought to-night
Upon the Harz, two maidens; One of them
I lured by curiosity, which aided
By an enthusiastic spirit she deems
Is ardent love, hath made her seek this meeting,
To learn her lover’s fate.

Schattenmann

       Thou hast done well;
But what has brought her comrade?

Reibezhahl

       There my arts
Have been employ’d in vain: Not all her friend
Could speak in fondness, raillery, or truth,
Would e’er have drawn her from her simple life,
Had not the vain hope dawn’d within her breast,
That she might save her loved Michelle from death.

Schattenmann

Vain hope indeed! Knows not the pious fool
That they who share the action, share the guilt?
And shall partake of the same fate as those
Who sinn’d with the worst motives?—Knows she this?

Reibezhahl

Unto the letter:—yet so firm her love,
So pure her heart from evil, that she ventures
With gladness, even upon death itself,
To win a soul with payment of her life
But they are drawing near us.—Will my Lord
Assume with me the guise of their two lovers?
Who fell upon the plains of Marienthal
When Turenne fled full swiftly from the field.
That action too was mine! I caused their death,
I waked Michelle’s enthusiastic spirit
To urge her lover in such strains of valour,
That he, aspiring to immortal fame,
Died in the thickest fight; whilst his brave friend
Fell in the vain endeavour to preserve him!

Schattenmann

No more,—they come!—Now to your holts, and horsts,
Ye Spirits of the Brocken; where for ages
Your resting-place hath been.—Away,—Away!

At this command all the Spirits disappeared, while Schattenmann and Riebezhahl assumed the likeness of Carl Brandtenbelt and Steine Standardtmann, as Laurette and Michelle ascended the brow of the Mountain. “Well, Laurette,” said her friend, “here we are, on the top of the Brocken Mountain, at midnight, on the First of May! Well, really if I’d expected half so much terror as we’ve seen to-night, I would not have come for the world.”

“Ah, Michelle! the Curate always said, the ascent to virtue is hard, but we find the descent to vice is harder: and if any thing that we have seen or heard to-night should prevent you from consulting with these terrible and wicked Demons, I shall bless God for all our terrors, and receive them only as the marks of his love.”

“Oh, my friend! my ever-amiable and kind Laurette!” replied the now-softened Michelle, “Oh that I had but followed your pious advice whilst we were in safety; but now all is too late, all is over.”

Laurette was about to answer, when two persons in the habits of German soldiers advanced; and each of them seizing upon one of the terrified damsels, exclaimed,

“So, girls, you thought to escape us, eh? But that won’t do; we soldiers know too many tricks even for two women together.”

“In the name of Heaven, what art thou?” said Laurette to the one who had taken hold of her.

“Come, come, Laurette Engelhertze! no coquetry. What! not know your own lover, Steine Standardtmann? I assure you, I came all the way from Marienthal to see you.”

“You have the form and dress of Standardtmann, certainly; but if you be he, you will remember our signal, and repeat with me—

“All good Spirits love to raise
To the Lord their voice of praise;
Evil Sprites alone deny
Praise to Him that sits on high.”

As the first part of this verse is a powerful and infallible touchstone of all hidden malice of demons, and a preservative from all their vengeance; the two fiends immediately burst forth in their own dreadful forms: the Brocken was filled with all the fearful rout that had so lately vanished, and the thousand echoes of the Mountain resounded with all that variety of terrific noises with which they had been so much alarmed beneath. Michelle on the discovery ran tremblingly up to Laurette, and hiding her face in her friend’s bosom, while she embraced her, cried—“Oh, Laurette! if we must die, let it be together.” When the two Harz Spirits had taken their own shapes, and all the others had suddenly appeared, Schattenmann addressed the two females with,

“Cease with this idle trembling, Cease, and hear
What gifts I have to offer:—Few have dared
Like you to tread this mountain, on the night
When Spirits are abroad: But those who shew
Such valour, and such firmness, well may ask
The utmost of our power. Wealth, honour, fame,
Or what ye will, ye cannot ask too much?

Laurette

Yes, I will ask more than *your* power can grant,
*Your utmost power!* The calm content of virtue,
The wealth of a good conscience! The bright honour
Attendant on a Christian! and the fame
Which hangs upon his name in after years,
Bright and immortal as the heaven he sought.

Michelle

Aye! these are our best wishes! I have err’d
Too long, too widely from the path of virtue;
But that was in prosperity. Now I see
Death and Despair around me, I can rise
Superior to myself, and shake off all
The mass of guilt I carried: Not to save
E’en our hearts’ lovers, would we ask from you
The word that might preserve them from the sword.

Reibezhahl

Thou never shalt behold them more!—they lay
On Marienthal’s battle-field!—Thy Carl
Fell through the laudable and gentle wish
Thou did’st express to him in mad-brained rhyme,
That he should gather glory; while his friend
Lost his hearts’ blood in the vain hope to save him:
’Twas thine own action all!—Oh, ’twas a kind,
And most considerate mistress that devised it.

Michelle

Oh, wretched wanton creature!—but all tears
Or sorrows, save for sin, are now in vain!
And the continual flood of grief for years
Of endless ages, would not wash away
The guilt of these short hours:—and,—I feel
That life is ebbing fast;—Laurette be near me,
Thou art my guardian angel:—couldst thou fly
Upward with me, ’twould seem some virtue for me
To have been call’d thy friend;—thy friend indeed;
I have not been mine own: ’Tis night before me;
Oh for a brighter waking when ‘tis —— over.   Dies.

Laurette

Now, Fiends, I thank ye:—Ye have cut from earth
The only ties that held me! Oh, Michelle!
How fatal to the soul is that quick spirit,
Which like a whirlwind bears all else away
In its career of madness.—Virtue, Faith,
Religion, pluck’d up by the roots, are cast
In dreadful havock round!—’Tis done!—I feel
My breath fast failing;—and the springs of life
Are flowing slowly:—and my eyes are darkening,
But all is bright before me!—all is glorious!     Dies.

To the above tragical end of Michelle Fl├╝chterfelt, and Laurette Engelhertze, the Lienalle Register adds only, that the storm of that night was suddenly hushed; that the bodies were found undecayed, a short time after, by a wolf-hunter on the Harz; and that they were buried together in the church-yard of Altenau, with the following Epitaph over them, composed by Heinreich Reimer:-

Low beneath this stone, repose
 Two, whose love so true was plighted,
That no buds of the same rose
 Ever were more firm united.
Short the space their deaths between,
 ’Twas not Death such hearts could sever;
When they rise to Heaven serene,
 They shall love, and live for ever!

The European Magazine, Vol. 80, December 1821, pp. 519-527