I have a long picture-gallery to retire into when I want to think of something fair, in recalling the moon as it silvered the Rhine at the foot of Drachenfels, or the soft, mist-veiled island where dwelt the lady who is consecrated for ever by Roland's love. A couple of months later we rejoined Miss Marryat in Paris, where we spent seven happy, workful months.
The poet Byron described this view in three stanzas, which have been read and admired wherever the English language is spoken, and have made the name of Drachenfels more familiar to English and American ears than the name of almost any other castle on the Rhine.
The trachyte of the Drachenfels was probably the neck of a volcano which burst through the fundamental schists of the Devonian period.
The Rhine sweeps around the foot of the Drachenfels, while opposite the precipitous rock of Rolandseek, crowned with the castle of the faithful knight, looks down upon the beautiful Island of Nonnenwerth, the white walls of the convent still gleaming through the trees, as they did when the warrior's weary eyes looked upon them for the last time.
The place where the porter, who engaged the carriage for Mr. George, intended to leave him, was really Rolandseck. Rolandseck is the name of a ruined arch, the remains of an ancient tower which may be seen in the engraving a little farther on, upon the height of land on the left side of the view. The lofty ruin on the right, farther in the distance, is Drachenfels.
Among the many legends invented by the early Christian monks to advance their faith, there are few more beautiful than that attached to the Drachenfels, the Dragons Rock, a rugged and picturesque mass of volcanic porphyry rising above the Rhine on its right bank.
Beyond, rose the summits of the Siebengebirg. Solemn and dark, like a monk, stood the Drachenfels, in his hood of mist, and rearward extended the Curtain of Mountains, back to the Wolkenburg, the Castle of the Clouds. But Flemming thought not of the scene before him. Sorrow unspeakable was upon his spirit in that lonely hour; and, hiding his face in his hands, he exclaimed aloud;
Be faithful, and more than earthly fortune is thine; for I say unto thee, I shall not fail, having grace to sustain this combat. Thereupon he commenced the ascent of Drachenfels. Farina followed. He had no hint of the Monk's mission, nor of the part himself was to play in it.
At Godesberg the romantic ruins of which stronghold the traveller still regards with interest, placed as it is in the midst of that enchanting region where Drachenfels looks down on the crumbling tower of Roland and the convent of Nonnenwerth the unfortunate Gebhard had sustained a conclusive defeat.
His page soon brought him the intelligence that his lady was dead. He ordered his horse to be saddled immediately, and hastened to Spain, where, in a battle with the Moors, he was killed." "Then these are the Drachenfels, on our right," said Grace. "They are 'The Castled Crags of Drachenfels, as Byron sings. From the top of this precipice, Cologne, twenty miles distant, can be seen."