From Munich to Rome
( Originally Published 1903 )
FROM Fussen we could go to Munich, either by rail or by foot, or partly by rail and partly afoot, and after much discussion we decided to continue on foot through the highlands to the town of Weilheim, and from there by rail to the city which was now to be our destination. We were both anxious to reach Munich as soon as possible, because we each had plans which we were anxious to carry out. For the last two days I had been thinking seriously of going to Rome to see the Pope, and now I had made up my mind to depart for the Southern city as soon as we reached Munich. It had been a part of our plan to visit Italy when we first arrived in Europe, and in April or May it would have been very pleasant, but we had been agreeably situated in Lon-don, and in Paris we had secured work which prevented our carrying out the plan. It was now too hot for us to think of undertaking an extended tour in Italy, and when I announced my intention of going to Rome, Jack said that he thought he'd rather remain behind in Germany. And I didn't urge him to accompany me, because I expected to make the trip as quickly as possible, and knew that it would be a useless expense for him to pay carfare, only to remain in Rome for a day or two.
My sole object in undertaking the trip was to seek an audience with the Pope. I had been ambitious to see him ever since we first thought of visiting Europe, and on account of his great age I was afraid that if I didn't see him this year I would never have that honor at all. And it being the year of jubilee I hoped it would not be such a very difficult matter to arrange the audience. I talked with many people in Paris about the plan, and most of them said that they thought it would be quite possible for me to secure the audience. " If he hears that you are an American boy, and have been interviewing so many famous people, he will doubtless receive you out of curiosity," said some of them, and the longer I thought about it the more anxious I was to go.
I Have a New Idea
In Ober-Ammergau we had met a lady who was much interested in us because we were taking the trip alone, and while talking with her I mentioned my great desire to go to Rome and see the Pope. " If I were only reasonably sure that I could secure the audience," I said, " I wouldn't hesitate a minute about going down there." The lady consulted with her friend, and then turned to us, smiling, "Why," she said, "if you are really anxious to secure the audience and will appreciate having it so much, I think I can help you. If you'll come to our hotel this evening I'll give you a note to a gentleman who can doubtless arrange an introduction for you. At any rate you may be sure that if he cannot, no one can." Of course I was delighted, and when at last the letter was in my possession, I somehow felt that my audience with the Pope was an assured thing. I knew that the lady wouldn't have promised so confidently if she hadn't been sure of what she said.
As usual, Jack wasn't very enthusiastic over my plan. " I don't see why you want to spend a pile of money going to Rome to see the Pope," he said, " when you know it's hot as a furnace down there." I tried my best to make him see what an honor it would be, but he would only say that he considered it an expensive one. All the way to Fussen we argued the subject, and it was finally agreed that at Munich we would separate, to meet again in Paris. Jack said he would like to take in a part of the Rhine district before going home, and I told him that here was his chance to do it. He could visit the upper Rhine without going much out of his way returning to Paris. We didn't like the idea of separating, even for a few days, for we knew we would most likely be lonesome and homesick, but I couldn't think of giving up my Roman trip after having received my letter of introduction. I considered an audience with the Pope one of the greatest honors a boy, or anyone, could have, and I wasn't going to give up my opportunity of securing it. " Opportunities never come twice," I said to Jack, and he accused me of being an eternal moralizer.
To say that our walking tour from Fussen to Weilheim was nothing different from our earlier excursions would be hardly accurate, but we had no very exciting adventures on the way to make the trip memorable. It was a pretty country through which we passed, all low-wooded mountains, quaint villages and green pasture lands. The people were as pleasant as any we had met, and the roads over the hills seemed even better than the excellent thoroughfares we had found in Austria. The Bavarian government may certainly be congratulated on the condition of the country roads. We met very few tourists on the way, and not one of the few we did meet could claim protection under the American flag. Most of the travelers were pedestrians going from one village to another, and we frequently had company during the day, because they were all friendly. As usual, they expressed great surprise when we told them we were from America.
The Capital of Bavaria
We reached Weilheim in two days, and from there it was only a short ride by rail to Munich. We would have been quite willing to have walked all the way to the German city, had we not wanted to save time in order to spend one day in visiting the sights of Munich. When we finally arrived we weren't very much pleased with what we saw, and thought the one day quite enough to spend there. After Paris, Munich seemed very bare and homely. What we missed most were the shady streets and the great crowd of visitors. The Munich streets seemed actually deserted, and the public buildings seemed rather insignificant and uninteresting. We visited the galleries of painting and sculpture and were agreeably surprised to find so many fine works of art. Jack brought into use the knowledge of paintings he had gained while in Paris, and we spent an interesting two hours in the places. We thought it right that the Munich folk should be proud of their artistic possessions, for few larger cities have such a collection. When we learned that one of the kings had gathered all the treasures, we decided that the Bavarian royalty must be an artistic family. And we couldn't help thinking of the tremendous taxes the people must have paid to allow of such extravagance in art and castle-building.
We stayed in Munich at a little lodging-house where our beds cost us one mark each, and early the next morning we departed from the same. station on our different journeys. Jack took the train for Stuttgart at about eight o'clock, and half an hour later I was on my way to Zurich, Lucerne and Italy. I was fortunate in finding a train that would take me through to Rome without any waiting overnight in cities, and with but very few changes of cars. I had been afraid that I would have to be staying over for hours in every large place on the road. Jack intended to go from Stuttgart to Heidelberg, and thence to Mayence, and we agreed that we would meet in Paris in one week from that day. We were neither of us afraid to travel alone, but we knew we would miss each other very much and we both promised to get to Paris as quickly as possible. I knew very well that I wouldn't want to stay in Italy very long in August, so I was safe in promising that I would be in Paris within a week.
The Journey to Rome
I will never forget that long trip to Rome, not that it was memorable for anything except discomfort, but because I thought it would never end. I was nearly two days and nights on the train, and the train was one of the slowest, I thought, that could be tolerated on any railway. It went fast enough until it got down across the Italian border, but after that the discomfort increased with every mile. The third-class carriages in Germany and Switzerland had been rather comfortable than otherwise, but in Italy they were abominable. The class of people riding in them seemed to be the lowest, and certainly they were very dirty and very disgusting. The weather was quite as hot as I had expected it would be, even as far north as Florence, and as I approached Rome it became positively painful. We sometimes have very hot weather in our town at home, but I am sure it's a different kind of heat than they have in Italy.
When we arrived in Rome, I determined to get out again as soon as I could, for the city seemed quite deserted. It was about noon when I left the station, and all the shops were closed, or at least the principal ones, and there were but few persons in the streets. I succeeded in finding a room near the station at a reasonable price, and after refreshing myself with a bath I went out to visit the Vatican and make a kind of reconnoissance. I had been told that the best time for me to present my note at the Papal residence would be about' five in the afternoon, and until then I intended to see what I could of the city. I found a store where English was spoken, and they told me that in summer people usually sleep during the hot hours of the day in Rome, and that no business is transacted. This information explained the state of things which I had noticed on arrival, and I thought it a very good plan for people not to work in such heat. I had no difficulty in learning the location of the Vatican, and when I stood before the huge structure I was greatly impressed with its size and general appearance. I remembered having read that it contains more rooms than any other building in the world, and could well believe the statement true. I went as far around the walls as I could, and looked up at the windows, wondering which room contained the remarkable little man who has exercised so powerful an influence on the closing century. No doubt, I thought, he is working behind one of those blinds on some important matter connected with his great kingdom of the Church, for it is said that he seldom sleeps in the daytime.
The Eternal City
I occupied my time until nearly five in going about the neighboring streets. I didn't see enough of the city, of course, to form any decided opinion, but, on the whole, I was much surprised to find Rome so modern. It was disappointing to find trolley cars in the " Eternal City," and so comparatively few signs of ruins and old buildings. I had half expected to find a ruin of some kind in every block.
Promptly at five o'clock I returned to the Vatican. The streets now presented quite a different appearance than at noon. There were carriages and wagons and people on the sidewalks. At the Vatican the great doors were wide open, and gentlemen were passing in and out. There were guards there, as usual, and I wondered whether my note would be sufficient to get me past them. I decided to walk up boldly,- and when they stopped me I was told to go to another entrance. I followed their directions, and found the second entrance more private. The guard there was very pleasant. He took me through a short hallway, where he turned me over to a liveried servant, and then I was conducted through various hallways and shown into a reception room. Another servant attended me there, to whom I handed my note of introduction. He went off with it, after asking me to please be seated.
I was kept interested during his absence by observing the furnishings of the room. They were different from any which I had seen before, and very imposing. Everything was on a grand scale, and no doubt it had been designed centuries ago. I noticed afterward that all the rooms in this part of the Vatican were on the same order, furnished very severely and plainly. The servant returned in a few minutes, and motioned me to follow him. I was shown into an office room, where a gentleman was seated at a desk. He was the man to whom my note was addressed, and I liked him from the very first. He shook hands with me cordially, and asked me to sit down. Then he began to ply me with questions about why I was in Europe, and what I had been doing. He seemed much interested in the story of our trip, and when I told him that I was more anxious to see the Pope than any man in Europe, he laughed, and said that he had no doubt he could arrange for me to do so. " I will mention what you have been doing over here," he said, " and I think his Holiness will be very willing to receive you. Of course we have almost innumerable applications for audiences, and are obliged to refuse most of them; but it isn't every day that a boy comes clear from America to see the Pope, and I think you will succeed where others have failed. I will certainly do all in my power to arrange the matter for you. I will be with the Pope this evening and will bring up the subject. If you come here at about nine in the morning, I will probably have some information for you." He gave me a card, which I was to use if I had any difficulty getting in at the gate, and I then went out, feeling highly delighted over my success so far. It seemed almost too good to be true that I was to really see the Pope. Of course I wasn't sure of it yet, but I somehow felt that the audience would surely take place. I had been confident all along that I would be successful, and my experience of this afternoon was certainly encouraging.
I spent the early evening walking about the streets. I visited St. Peter's, of course, and as many other famous places as I had the time for; but I was very tired after my long journey from Munich and went early to bed. I knew that I would have to be up early in the morning if I was to be present at the Vatican at nine o'clock.