The room is divided by a great curtain; you draw this curtain aside, and find a large white marble bathtub, with its rim sunk to the level of the floor, and with three white marble steps leading down to it. This tub is full of water which is as clear as crystal, and is tempered to 28 degrees Re'aumur (about 95 degrees Fahrenheit). Sunk into the floor, by the tub, is a covered copper box which contains some warm towels and a sheet. You look fully as white as an angel when you are stretched out in that limpid bath. You remain in it ten minutes, the first time, and afterward increase the duration from day to day, till you reach twenty-five or thirty minutes. There you stop. The appointments of the place are so luxurious, the benefit so marked, the price so moderate, and the insults so sure, that you very soon find yourself adoring the Friederichsbad and infesting it.
We had a plain, simple, unpretending, good hotel, in Baden-Baden--the Ho^tel de France--and alongside my room I had a giggling, cackling, chattering family who always went to bed just two hours after me and always got up two hours ahead of me. But this is common in German hotels; the people generally go to bed long after eleven and get up long before eight. The partitions convey sound like a drum-head, and everybody knows it; but no matter, a German family who are all kindness and consideration in the daytime make apparently no effort to moderate their noises for your benefit at night. They will sing, laugh, and talk loudly, and bang furniture around in a most pitiless way. If you knock on your wall appealingly, they will quiet down and discuss the matter softly among themselves for a moment--then, like the mice, they fall to persecuting you again, and as vigorously as before. They keep cruelly late and early hours, for such noisy folk.
Of course, when one begins to find fault with foreign people's ways, he is very likely to get a reminder to look nearer home, before he gets far with it. I open my note-book to see if I can find some more information of a valuable nature about Baden-Baden, and the first thing I fall upon is this:
"BADEN-BADEN (no date). Lot of vociferous Americans at breakfast this morning. Talking AT everybody, while pretending to talk among themselves. On their first travels, manifestly. Showing off. The usual signs--airy, easy-going references to grand distances and foreign places. 'Well GOOD-by, old fellow-- if I don't run across you in Italy, you hunt me up in London before you sail.'"
The next item which I find in my note-book is this one:
"The fact that a band of 6,000 Indians are now murdering our frontiersmen at their impudent leisure, and that we are only able to send 1,200 soldiers against them, is utilized here to discourage emigration to America. The common people think the Indians are in New Jersey."
This is a new and peculiar argument against keeping our army down to a ridiculous figure in the matter of numbers. It is rather a striking one, too. I have not distorted the truth in saying that the facts in the above item, about the army and the Indians, are made use of to discourage emigration to America. That the common people should be rather foggy in their geography, and foggy as to the location of the Indians, is a matter for amusement, maybe, but not of surprise.
There is an interesting old cemetery in Baden-Baden, and we spent several pleasant hours in wandering through it and spelling out the inscriptions on the aged tombstones. Apparently after a man has laid there a century or two, and has had a good many people buried on top of him, it is considered that his tombstone is not needed by him any longer. I judge so from the fact that hundreds of old gravestones have been removed from the graves and placed against the inner walls of the cemetery. What artists they had in the old times! They chiseled angels and cherubs and devils and skeletons on the tombstones in the most lavish and generous way--as to supply--but curiously grotesque and outlandish as to form.