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The Cathedral Clock
The Cathedral was finished, and the city magistrates resolved to place an ingenious clock on the upper tower. For a long time they searched in vain, but at last a master was found who offered to create a work of art such as had never been seen in any land. The members of the council were highly satisfied with this proposal, and the master began his work.
Weeks and months passed, and when at last it was finished there was general astonishment; the clock was indeed so wonderful that nothing to match it could be found in the whole country. It marked not only the hours but the days and months as well; a globe was attached to it which also marked out the rising and the setting of the sun, and the eclipses of that body and the moon could be seen at the same time as they took place in nature. Every change was pointed out by Mercury's wand, and every constellation appeared at the right time. Shortly before the stroke of the clock a figure representing Death emerged from the centre and sounded the full hour, while at the quarter and half hours the statue of Christ came forth, repelling the destroyer of all life. Added to all these wonders was a beautiful chime that played melodious hymns.
Such was the marvellous clock in the cathedral of Strassburg. The magistrates however proved themselves unworthy of their new possession; pride and presumption got the better of them, making them commit a most unjust and ungrateful action.
They desired their town to be the only one in the land which possessed such a work of art, and in order to prevent the maker from making another like it, they did not shrink from the vilest of crimes.
Taking advantage of the rumour that such a wonderful work could only have been made by the aid of witchcraft, they accused the clock-maker of being united with the devil, threw him into prison, and cruelly condemned him to be blinded. The unhappy artist resigned himself to his bitter fate without a murmur. The only favour he asked was that he might be allowed to examine the clock once again before the judgment was carried out. He said he wanted to arrange something in the works which no one else could understand.
The crafty magistrates, being anxious to have the clock perfect, granted him this request.
The artist filed, sawed, regulated here and there, and then was led away, and in the same hour deprived of his sight.
The cruel deed was hardly accomplished, when it was found that the clock had stopped. The artist had destroyed his work with his own hands; his righteous determination that the chimes would never ring again, had become a melancholy truth. Up to the present no one has been able again to set the dead works going. An equally splendid clock now adorns the cathedral, but the remains of the first one have been preserved ever since.Click to go to the next section of the Legends of the Rhine