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List Of Contents | Contents of Saunterings, by Charles Dudley Warner
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hare, with some supporting dish, followed by jellies of various
sorts, and ornamented plates of something that seemed unable to
decide whether it would be jelly or cream; and then came assorted
cake and the white wine of the Rhine and the red of Hungary.  We were
then surprised with a dish of fried eels, with a sauce.  Then came
cheese; and, to crown all, enormous, triumphal-looking loaves of
cake, works of art in appearance, and delicious to the taste.  We sat
at the table till twelve o'clock; but you must not imagine that
everybody sat still all the time, or that, appearances to the
contrary notwithstanding, the principal object of the entertainment
was eating.  The songs that were sung in Hungarian as well as German,
the poems that were recited, the burlesques of actors and acting, the
imitations that were inimitable, the take-off of table-tipping and of
prominent musicians, the wit and constant flow of fun, as constant as
the good-humor and free hospitality, the unconstrained ease of the
whole evening, these things made the real supper which one remembers
when the grosser meal has vanished, as all substantial things do
vanish.




CHRISTMAS TIME-MUSIC

For a month Munich has been preparing for Christmas.  The shop
windows have had a holiday look all December.  I see one every day in
which are displayed all the varieties of fruits, vegetables, and
confectionery possible to be desired for a feast, done in wax,--a
most dismal exhibition, and calculated to make the adjoining window,
which has a little fountain and some green plants waving amidst
enormous pendent sausages and pigs' heads and various disagreeable
hashes of pressed meat, positively enticing.  And yet there are some
vegetables here that I should prefer to have in wax,--for instance,
sauerkraut.  The toy windows are worthy of study, and next to them
the bakers'.  A favorite toy of the season is a little crib, with the
Holy Child, in sugar or wax, lying in it in the most uncomfortable
attitude.  Babies here are strapped upon pillows, or between pillows,
and so tied up and wound up that they cannot move a muscle, except,
perhaps, the tongue; and so, exactly like little mummies, they are
carried about the street by the nurses,--poor little things, packed
away so, even in the heat of summer, their little faces looking out
of the down in a most pitiful fashion.  The popular toy is a
representation, in sugar or wax, of this period of life.  Generally
the toy represents twins, so swathed and bound; and, not
infrequently, the bold conception of the artist carries the point of
the humor so far as to introduce triplets, thus sporting with the
most dreadful possibilities of life.

The German bakers are very ingenious; and if they could be convinced
of this great error, that because things are good separately, they
must be good in combination, the produce of their ovens would be much
more eatable.  As it is, they make delicious cake, and of endless
variety; but they also offer us conglomerate formations that may have
a scientific value, but are utterly useless to a stomach not trained
in Germany.  Of this sort, for the most part, is the famous
Lebkuchen, a sort of gingerbread manufactured in Nurnberg, and sent
all over Germany: "age does not [seem to] impair, nor custom stale
its infinite variety."  It is very different from our simple cake of
that name, although it is usually baked in flat cards.  It may
contain nuts or fruit, and is spoiled by a flavor of conflicting
spices.  I should think it might be sold by the cord, it is piled up
in such quantities; and as it grows old and is much handled, it
acquires that brown, not to say dirty, familiar look, which may, for
aught I know, be one of its chief recommendations.  The cake,
however, which prevails at this season of the year comes from the
Tyrol; and as the holidays approach, it is literally piled up on the
fruit-stands.  It is called Klatzenbrod, and is not a bread at all,
but and amalgamation of fruits and spices.  It is made up into small
round or oblong forms; and the top is ornamented in various patterns,
with split almond meats.  The color is a faded black, as if it had
been left for some time in a country store; and the weight is just
about that of pig-iron.  I had formed a strong desire, mingled with
dread, to taste it, which I was not likely to gratify,--one gets so
tired of such experiments after a time--when a friend sent us a ball
of it.  There was no occasion to call in Professor Liebig to analyze
the substance: it is a plain case.  The black mass contains, cut up
and pressed together, figs, citron, oranges, raisins, dates, various
kinds of nuts, cinnamon) nutmeg, cloves, and I know not what other
spices, together with the inevitable anise and caraway seeds.  It
would make an excellent cannon-ball, and would be specially fatal if
it hit an enemy in the stomach.  These seeds invade all dishes.  The
cooks seem possessed of one of the rules of whist,--in case of doubt,
play a trump: in case of doubt, they always put in anise seed.  It is
sprinkled profusely in the blackest rye bread, it gets into all the
vegetables, and even into the holiday cakes.

The extensive Maximilian Platz has suddenly grown up into booths and
shanties, and looks very much like a temporary Western village.
There are shops for the sale of Christmas articles, toys, cakes, and
gimcracks; and there are, besides, places of amusement, if one of the
sorry menageries of sick beasts with their hair half worn off can be
so classed.  One portion of the platz is now a lively and picturesque
forest of evergreens, an extensive thicket of large and small trees,
many of them trimmed with colored and gilt strips of paper.  I meet
in every street persons lugging home their little trees; for it must
be a very poor household that cannot have its Christmas tree, on
which are hung the scanty store of candy, nuts, and fruit, and the
simple toys that the needy people will pinch themselves otherwise to
obtain.

At this season, usually, the churches get up some representations for
the children, the stable at Bethlehem, with the figures of the Virgin
and Child, the wise men, and the oxen standing by.  At least, the
churches must be put in spick-and-span order.  I confess that I like
to stray into these edifices, some of them gaudy enough when they
are, so to speak, off duty, when the choir is deserted, and there is
only here and there a solitary worshiper at his prayers; unless,
indeed, as it sometimes happens, when I fancy myself quite alone, I
come by chance upon a hundred people, in some remote corner before a
side chapel, where mass is going on, but so quietly that the sense of
solitude in the church is not disturbed.  Sometimes, when the place
is left entirely to myself, and the servants who are putting it to
rights and, as it were, shifting the scenes, I get a glimpse of the
reality of all the pomp and parade of the services.  At first I may
be a little shocked with the familiar manner in which the images and
statues and the gilded paraphernalia are treated, very different from
the stately ceremony of the morning, when the priests are at the
altar, the choir is in the organ-loft, and the people crowd nave and
aisles.  Then everything is sanctified and inviolate.  Now, as I
loiter here, the old woman sweeps and dusts about as if she were in
an ordinary crockery store: the sacred things are handled without
gloves.  And, lo!  an unclerical servant, in his shirt-sleeves,
climbs up to the altar, and, taking down the silver-gilded cherubs,
holds them, head down, by one fat foot, while he wipes them off with
a damp cloth.  To think of submitting a holy cherub to the indignity
of a damp cloth!

One could never say too much about the music here.  I do not mean
that of the regimental bands, or the orchestras in every hall and
beer-garden, or that in the churches on Sundays, both orchestral and
vocal.  Nearly every day, at half-past eleven, there is a parade by
the Residenz, and another on the Marian Platz; and at each the bands
play for half an hour.  In the Loggie by the palace the music-stands
can always be set out, and they are used in the platz when it does
not storm; and the bands play choice overtures and selections from
the operas in fine style.  The bands are always preceded and followed
by a great crowd as they march through the streets, people who seem
to live only for this half hour in the day, and whom no mud or snow
can deter from keeping up with the music.  It is a little gleam of
comfort in the day for the most wearied portion of the community: I
mean those who have nothing to do.

But the music of which I speak is that of the conservatoire and
opera.  The Hof Theater, opera, and conservatoire are all under one
royal direction.  The latter has been recently reorganized with a new
director, in accordance with the Wagner notions somewhat.  The young
king is cracked about Wagner, and appears to care little for other
music: he brings out his operas at great expense, and it is the
fashion here to like Wagner whether he is understood or not.  The
opera of the "Meister-Singer von Nurnberg," which was brought out
last summer, occupied over five hours in the representation, which is
unbearable to the Germans, who go to the opera at six o'clock or
half-past, and expect to be at home before ten.  His latest opera,
which has not yet been produced, is founded on the Niebelungen Lied,
and will take three evenings in the representation, which is almost
as bad as a Chinese play.  The present director of the conservatoire
and opera, a Prussian, Herr von Bulow, is a friend of Wagner.  There
are formed here in town two parties: the Wagner and the conservative,
the new and the old, the modern and classical; only the Wagnerites do
not admit that their admiration of Beethoven and the older composers
is less than that of the others, and so for this reason Bulow has
given us more music of Beethoven than of any other composer.  One
thing is certain, that the royal orchestra is trained to a high state
of perfection: its rendition of the grand operas and its weekly

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