A sudden rush from the stairway, A sudden raid from the hall! By three doors left unguarded They enter my castle wall! They climb up into my turret O'er the arms and back of my chair; If I try to escape, they surround me; They seem to be everywhere. They almost devour me with kisses Their arms about me entwine, Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!
It is true that he was the founder of the toll which ships in olden times were obliged to pay on the Rhine, so that this fact and many other cruel exactions of his, have helped to evolve the terrible legend of the Mouse-Tower. A mighty draught Once upon a time in the high castle called Rheingrafenstein near Kreuznach, the flower of the knights belonging to the Rhine country were assembled.
Then Hans Brömser remembered his vow, and the chapel for the peace of the soul of Mechtildis was erected. "Not Gottes" it is called to this day. The Mouse-Tower Below Bingen in the middle of the Rhine there is a lonely island on which a stronghold is to be seen. This tower is called "the Mouse-Tower."
The mistake is often made of connecting the popular legend of the "Mouse-tower" at Bingen on the Rhine, with him. As the story runs, he called them "rats who ate the corn." Numberless mice swam to the tower which he had built in the midst of the stream, and devoured him. Southey has put the tale into a ballad, "God's Judgment on a Wicked Bishop."
They climb up into my turret, O'er the arms and back of my chair: If I try to escape, they surround me; They seem to be everywhere. They almost devour me with kisses, Their arms about me entwine, Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine! Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti, Because you have scaled the wall, Such an old moustache as I am Is not a match for you all?
But, like Bishop Hatto, of Mouse-Tower memory, Frank Tracy never knew real peace of mind from the day he deliberately sold himself to the Evil One for filthy lucre, until the day, years after, when full restitution was made, and, with the sin confessed, he held his head up again, free from the shadow which he did not leave in the sleigh, but which followed him day and night, walking by him when he walked, sitting by him when he sat, and watching by him when he slept, so as to be ready when he woke with the specious argument that he was acting justly and even generously by the little waif, who was like a sunbeam in the cottage in the lane, whom many people went to see, marvelling at her beauty and wondering in vain whose likeness they sometimes saw in her as she frolicked around the house, full of life, and fun, and laughter.
Here, on an island in the middle of the stream, is the old mouse-tower where Bishop Hatto of Mayence was eaten up by the rats for his wicked deeds. Passing Rüdesheim and Geisenheim celebrated for their wines at sunset, we watched the varied shore in the growing darkness, till like a line of stars across the water we saw before us the bridge of Mayence. The sun had set when we reached Cologne.