Frankish switzerland: when ernst moritz arndt visited “the most beautiful trummer of a castle

The german poet and later university professor ernst moritz arndt spent a week in french switzerland, wandering through the valleys, examining the castle ruins and exploring the caves. His notes from the year 1798 give information about the life in that time, when there were still serfs and the french warlord napoleon bonaparte attacked agypten.

From muggendorf, where arndt usually lived, his driver brought him wunder “a little crooked-legged man”, to the surrounding sights. It was raining, arndt noted, as he and wunder, with whom he had previously had breakfast, set off to visit the brunnstein cave first. On the belly crawled the two “30 to 40 fub on hands and feet”, before they reached their destination: the fountain. “A round basin, which always has cool and clear water”, wrote arndt.

To the schonsteinhohle

From there we went on to the schonstein cave. Wet and dirty “like a couple dragged through a manure pile”, they reached the narrow entrance, which arndt said was “not for a 200- or 300-pounder” people were, because “it was hard for him to get through the gaps”. The trip was worth it, as arndt wrote: “we stood dazzled with glory in front of the most beautiful dripstones”. O that cannot be described, how man stands there in his smallness and coarseness. I was like descending into a new world, my senses were confused and the living inside me was dissolved in a strange and painful feeling.”

The zoolith cave

Also the zoolithenhohle, formerly called "gaillenreuther hohle" because of its location next to a village and has been known among experts since 1602, attracted his attention. Not because of any stalactites, but because of the various finds of animal bones, which not only he but also other researchers often wonder how they got into the cave. Arndt found "rough tusks of a sea monster" and shells and sea snails. Arndt philosophically asked whether "the coarse whale is worth more to the almighty nature than sand and gravel". When visiting the cave, arndt often thought of the fact that he had fallen from the ladder in the forster cave in waischenfeld days before. He described the accident very precisely. When he wanted to look at a beautiful cloud in a side cave, the ladder fell over and he made a flying jump, got a rough blow on his head. After that he fell deeper and deeper "and I already recommended my soul to the mountain spirits, when I caught a pin, which held me above the final abyss". With some abrasions on his hands and a dented hat he got off lightly and continued climbing with his guide after he had recovered for a while.

On the ruins of neideck

"The most beautiful muffins of a castle that I have seen so far on german soil" – the praise he wrote about the ruins of neideck, which he visited on the 23rd. June in detail examined, in its diary. Arndt had "climbed through everything", what there was to see. When he sat down on a rock to rest for a while, he wrote down again, as if to confirm: "these ruins of the old neideck castle are the roughest and most romantic that i have seen." Afterwards he described the ruin in all explored details. The castle streitberg he visited on the same day, but in contrast to the neideck he described it only very matter-of-factly as "modernized trummer, whose rooms in his time were granaries, haylofts and households" contained.