Trento, the 11th of September [1786], morning.

After wholly fifty hours of life and continual occupation I arrived here yesterday at eight o’clock, went soon to rest, and now find myself again prepared to continue my story. On the evening of the ninth, when I had brought the first portion of my journal to a close, I still wanted to draw my lodging, the post office, in its place in the Brenner pass, but it was unsuccessful, I missed its character and went home half annoyed. My host asked whether I should like to leave, by moonlight was the best way, and whether I knew that he needed the horses in the morning to take in the hay , he would like to have them back by then. Although his counsel was self-serving I was pleased to take it, since it accorded with my inner impulse. The sun let itself be seen once more, the air was tolerable; I packed, and left at seven o’clock. The atmosphere got the better of the clouds and the evening turned quite beautiful.

The postillion fell asleep and the horses went down the mountain at the fastest trot, always taking the way familiar to them; if they came to a flat spot we went correspondingly slower. The driver woke up and drove them on again, and so, passing between high rocks, I reached the roaring Etsch river [1] with great speed. The moon came up and illuminated monstrous objects. Several mills between ancient pines over the foaming stream were complete Everdingens.[2]

Everdingen, Forest Scene

When at nine o’clock I reached Sterzing, I was given to understand that they wished me away again. In Mittenwald at twelve o’clock on the dot I found everything in a deep sleep, except the postillion, and so we continued on to Brixen, where I was once again helped on, so to speak, so that I arrived in Kollmann with the day. Read the rest of this entry »


Bozen. September 1st, 1788.

All my dear children: Gottfried, August, Wilhelm, Adelbert, little Luis and Emil!

I am now near to the borders of Germany and have nearly crossed the great highlands of the Tyrol. The mountains are high, on several there has been much snow, and the so-called “Portal” or “Cell” through which one passes into the Tyrol is especially beautiful, splendid and wild. We also came by Martin’s Wall where the Emperor Maximilian got lost, and in Innsbruck we saw a very beautiful memorial to him, of which I will tell you in person. I am now in Bozen where today there is a terribly great mass of people; 19,000 children are to be confirmed, since the bishop has not confirmed for many years. In front of our lodging-house, in the sun, there is a fruit market the like of which you have never seen in your life; there are pears, plums, grapes, nuts, figs; for figs do grow here. Soon we will come to the region where quinces and lemons grow. O, if only you were with me here, or that I could send you a basket of such fruit! But the lovely fruit would go bad on the way, just as lovely human hopes sometimes rot from the inside out. — Already there are flat roofs here, of which there are said to be many in Italy, where one can see a long way in all directions; and the air is entirely gentle, warm and mild. In the Tyrol highlands we saw chamois leaping, in Innsbruck we also ate one, and saw a tame one, entirely charming, that followed its provider, a farmer’s wife, everywhere. It was as agile as I wish you all to be. I would that you had been there with me and seen it, and I wish too, that you may one day see the mountains of the Tyrol and journey through them in gladness.

Apply yourselves to your studies with industry, and behave yourselves well; also, do learn to draw, for I regret very much that I cannot. The region is entirely too beautiful, and between the mountains there are a thousand waterfalls made by a stream, the Etsch. It flows very rapidly and particularly in the diocese of Brixen has beautiful trees on its banks: poplars, birches and willow-trees. For many hours we travelled far beside it. Seek it out on the map, you will be able to find our path. Tomorrow we arrive at Trento, perhaps I will have news of you there. Keep well, dear children, hold me in your affection and be healthy, and live in good accord with your mother and the rest of the household! It is late and no doubt you will be sleeping in your beds. Sleep tight!

Translated from the German (c) by Marc Hiatt. (6.08.06)

Reprinted in H G Fiedler (ed.), Das Oxforder Buch Deutscher Prosa von Luther bis Rilke (1943) Oxford.