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List Of Contents | Contents of Saunterings, by Charles Dudley Warner
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can judge a good deal of the progress of a people by the sort of
amusements that satisfy them.  I am not about to draw any
philosophical inferences,--I am a mere looker-on in Munich; but I
have never anywhere else seen puppet-shows afford so much delight,
nor have I ever seen anybody get more satisfaction out of a sausage
and a mug of beer, with the tum-tum of a band near, by, than a
Bavarian peasant.

The Fest was held on the Theresien Wiese, a vast meadow on the
outskirts of the city.  The ground rises on one side of this by an
abrupt step, some thirty or forty feet high, like the "bench" of a
Western river.  This bank is terraced for seats the whole length, or
as far down as the statue of Bavaria; so that there are turf seats, I
should judge, for three quarters of a mile, for a great many
thousands of people, who can look down upon the race-course, the
tents, houses, and booths of the fair-ground, and upon the roof and
spires of the city beyond.  The statue is, as you know, the famous
bronze Bavaria of Schwanthaler, a colossal female figure fifty feet
high, and with its pedestal a hundred feet high, which stands in
front of the Hall of Fame, a Doric edifice, in the open colonnades of
which are displayed the busts of the most celebrated Bavarians,
together with those of a few poets and scholars who were so
unfortunate as not to be born here.  The Bavaria stands with the
right hand upon the sheathed sword, and the left raised in the act of
bestowing a wreath of victory; and the lion of the kingdom is beside
her.  This representative being is, of course, hollow.  There is room
for eight people in her head, which I can testify is a warm place on
a sunny day; and one can peep out through loopholes and get a good
view of the Alps of the Tyrol.  To say that this statue is graceful
or altogether successful would be an error; but it is rather
impressive, from its size, if for no other reason.  In the cast of
the hand exhibited at the bronze foundry, the forefinger measures
over three feet long.

Although the Fest did not officially begin until Friday, October 12,
yet the essential part of it, the amusements, was well under way on
the Sunday before.  The town began to be filled with country people,
and the holiday might be said to have commenced; for the city gives
itself up to the occasion.  The new art galleries are closed for some
days; but the collections and museums of various sorts are daily
open, gratis; the theaters redouble their efforts; the concert-halls
are in full blast; there are dances nightly, and masked balls in the
Folks' Theater; country relatives are entertained; the peasants go
about the streets in droves, in a simple and happy frame of mind,
wholly unconscious that they are the oddest-looking guys that have
come down from the Middle Ages; there is music in all the gardens,
singing in the cafes, beer flowing in rivers, and a mighty smell of
cheese, that goes up to heaven.  If the eating of cheese were a
religious act, and its odor an incense, I could not say enough of the
devoutness of the Bavarians.

Of the picturesqueness and oddity of the Bavarian peasants' costumes,
nothing but a picture can give you any idea.  You can imagine the men
in tight breeches, buttoned below the knee, jackets of the jockey
cut, and both jacket and waistcoat covered with big metal buttons,
sometimes coins, as thickly as can be sewed on: but the women defy
the pen; a Bavarian peasant woman, in holiday dress, is the most
fearfully and wonderfully made object in the universe.  She displays
a good length of striped stockings, and wears thin slippers, or
sandals; her skirts are like a hogshead in size and shape, and reach
so near her shoulders as to make her appear hump-backed; the sleeves
are hugely swelled out at the shoulder, and taper to the wrist; the
bodice is a stiff and most elaborately ornamented piece of armor; and
there is a kind of breastplate, or center-piece, of gold, silver, and
precious stones, or what passes for them; and the head is adorned
with some monstrous heirloom, of finely worked gold or silver, or a
tower, gilded and shining with long streamers, or bound in a simple
black turban, with flowing ends.  Little old girls, dressed like
their mothers, have the air of creations of the fancy, who have
walked out of a fairy-book.  There is an endless variety in these old
costumes; and one sees, every moment, one more preposterous than the
preceding.  The girls from the Tyrol, with their bright neckerchiefs
and pointed black felt hats, with gold cord and tassels, are some of
them very pretty: but one looks a long time for a bright face among
the other class; and, when it is discovered, the owner appears like a
maiden who was enchanted a hundred years ago, and has not been
released from the spell, but is still doomed to wear the garments and
the ornaments that should long ago have mouldered away with her

The Theresien Wiese was a city of Vanity Fair for two weeks, every
day crowded with a motley throng.  Booths, and even structures of
some solidity, rose on it as if by magic.  The lottery-houses were
set up early, and, to the last, attracted crowds, who could not
resist the tempting display of goods and trinkets, which might be won
by investing six kreuzers in a bit of paper, which might, when
unrolled, contain a number.  These lotteries are all authorized: some
of them were for the benefit of the agricultural society; some were
for the poor, and others on individual account: and they always
thrive; for the German, above all others, loves to try his luck.
There were streets of shanties, where various things were offered for
sale besides cheese and sausages.  There was a long line of booths,
where images could be shot at with bird-guns; and when the shots were
successful, the images went through astonishing revolutions.  There
was a circus, in front of which some of the spangled performers
always stood beating drums and posturing, in order to entice in
spectators.  There were the puppet-booths, before which all day stood
gaping, delighted crowds, who roared with laughter whenever the
little frau beat her loutish husband about the head, and set him to
tend the baby, who continued to wail, notwithstanding the man knocked
its head against the doorpost.  There were the great beer-
restaurants, with temporary benches and tables' planted about with
evergreens, always thronged with a noisy, jolly crowd.  There were
the fires, over which fresh fish were broiling on sticks; and, if you
lingered, you saw the fish taken alive from tubs of water standing
by, dressed and spitted and broiling before the wiggle was out of
their tails.  There were the old women, who mixed the flour and fried
the brown cakes before your eyes, or cooked the fragrant sausage, and
offered it piping hot.

And every restaurant and show had its band, brass or string,--a full
array of red-faced fellows tooting through horns, or a sorry
quartette, the fat woman with the harp, the lean man blowing himself
out through the clarinet, the long-haired fellow with the flute, and
the robust and thick-necked fiddler.  Everywhere there was music; the
air was full of the odor of cheese and cooking sausage; so that there
was nothing wanting to the most complete enjoyment.  The crowd surged
round, jammed together, in the best possible humor.  Those who could
not sit at tables sat on the ground, with a link of an eatable I have
already named in one hand, and a mug of beer beside them.  Toward
evening, the ground was strewn with these gray quart mugs, which gave
as perfect evidence of the battle of the day as the cannon-balls on
the sand before Fort Fisher did of the contest there.  Besides this,
for the amusement of the crowd, there is, every day, a wheelbarrow
race, a sack race, a blindfold contest, or something of the sort,
which turns out to be a very flat performance.  But all the time the
eating and the drinking go on, and the clatter and clink of it fill
the air; so that the great object of the fair is not lost sight of.

Meantime, where is the agricultural fair and cattle-show?  You must
know that we do these things differently in Bavaria.  On the
fair-ground, there is very little to be seen of the fair.  There is
an inclosure where steam-engines are smoking and puffing, and
threshing-machines are making a clamor; where some big church-bells
hang, and where there are a few stalls for horses and cattle.  But
the competing horses and cattle are led before the judges elsewhere;
the horses, for instance, by the royal stables in the city.  I saw no
such general exhibition of do mestic animals as you have at your
fairs.  The horses that took the prizes were of native stock, a very
serviceable breed, excellent for carriage-horses, and admirable in
the cavalry service.  The bulls and cows seemed also native and to
the manor born, and were worthy of little remark.  The mechanical,
vegetable, and fruit exhibition was in the great glass palace, in the
city, and was very creditable in the fruit department, in the show of
grapes and pears especially.  The products of the dairy were less,
though I saw one that I do not recollect ever to have seen in
America, a landscape in butter.  Inclosed in a case, it looked very
much like a wood-carving.  There was a Swiss cottage, a milkmaid,
with cows in the foreground; there were trees, and in the rear rose
rocky precipices, with chamois in the act of skipping thereon.  I
should think something might be done in our country in this line of
the fine arts; certainly, some of the butter that is always being
sold so cheap at St. Albans, when it is high everywhere else, must be
strong enough to warrant the attempt.  As to the other departments of
the fine arts in the glass palace, I cannot give you a better idea of
them than by saying that they were as well filled as the like ones in
the American county fairs.  There were machines for threshing, for
straw-cutting, for apple-paring, and generally such a display of
implements as would give one a favorable idea of Bavarian
agriculture.  There was an interesting exhibition of live fish, great

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